Authors: James Somers
Tags: #fiction, #horror, #fantasy, #teen, #historical fantasy, #christian fiction, #christian fantasy, #young adult fantasy, #james somers, #descendants saga
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Mr. Oliver James sat within the French café,
Le Braziere, in downtown London, waiting for his contact to arrive.
He had come early in order to scope out the area and the
restaurant, ever careful to trust no one. Despite the late hour, a
number of patrons were still seated eating their meals, or drinking
Oliver noted several older couples enjoying
different pasta dishes. Two young lovers sat nearby, having eyes
only for one another. Several waiters milled about between tables,
looking entirely snooty and proud of their profession as though
they were waiting upon kings, or other great dignitaries.
Despite having lived in London for many
years, Oliver had never been fond of French food and so had never
dined at La Braziere. His contact, one Samuel Loch, had provided
Oliver with useful information about the doings of Mr. Black and
his associates for nearly two years. Oliver felt fairly comfortable
with the man. Still, one could never be too careful. Loch was
already ten minutes late.
Oliver sat quite still with a glass of wine
before him. When the waiter had offered him a wine list he had been
surprised to find Oliver’s glass already full. Oliver, a man of
middle age with a gray-streaked beard and slim frame, had smiled
politely but had offered no explanation as to how the wine had
gotten into his glass. He simply took a sip as the waiter wandered
away bewildered, unsure as to what he had been doing at this
curious man’s table in the first place. Minutes later he would have
no recollection of a man fitting Oliver’s description ever being at
the restaurant that evening.
It had been overcast all day. Only five
minutes ago, the weather had turned worse as showers came down
outside amid a cacophonous concert of thunder and lightning. During
all of this, Samuel Loch finally walked through the door, looking
worse for wear, completely drenched in his overcoat and cap. He
wound his way toward Oliver’s table, ignoring the other patrons
completely; something that seemed rather odd for a man that
normally would not cross the street without a detailed report of
everyone waiting for him on the other side.
Samuel took the chair opposite Oliver and
“I’m sorry for the delay, Mr. James. The
weather’s right nasty out. Anyways, I’ve got something really
special for you tonight.”
Oliver took another sip of his wine before
he spoke. “Since you’ve made me wait, I should hope so,” he
Samuel grinned, scanning the restaurant with
his eyes conspiratorially before continuing. “Black is making big
moves in London; lots of recruiting among the People.”
“This I know already,” Oliver said.
“But wait,” Samuel said, “you haven’t heard
the best part. I’ve a special message from Black.”
When Samuel Loch said this, he stood,
pulling a revolver as he did so. When the barrel cleared the table
top, he fired it repeatedly into Oliver’s chest. “Mr. Black says
your time is up, old man!”
Oliver lurched in his chair with every shot
fired. Bloody holes spoiled his white button-down shirt, mingling
with the crimson vest worn beneath his suit jacket. Samuel stood
over him, firing the revolver until he hit several empty cylinders
in a row.
Oliver’s shocked gaze suddenly narrowed,
fixing upon Samuel’s face, a wicked grin crossing his lips. He
reached forward and took another sip of his wine. Loch’s eyes
widened with surprise.
“Did you really think it would be so easy,
Loch?” Oliver asked.
His form shimmered in his chair and then
vanished while Samuel watched. The other patrons were on their
feet, observing the entire exchange with shocked expressions. The
image of Oliver in the large wall-mounted mirror behind Samuel
suddenly leaped from the looking glass into the real world,
pummeling Loch with the silver wolf’s head of his cane.
Loch fell forward across the table,
sprawling onto the floor entangled in the off-white table cloth.
The other patrons showed their true colors. Each and every one,
including even the young lovers, drew pistols and started firing at
He lurched away, blurring for a moment as he
sidestepped the physical world through a portal of his own making,
emerging halfway across the restaurant. Oliver pulled the flame
from the nearest gas lamp, sending it into the young couple,
igniting them in a blaze that instantly felled the woman while the
man ran screaming through the restaurant’s plate glass façade.
Realizing the slippery nature of their
target, one of the older couples turned on his new position,
unloading their pistols. A wave of Oliver’s hand scattered the
bullets into the nearby tables and glassware, shattering and
splintering all. Another flick of his finger brought the wall
curtains down upon the older couple, binding them fast in a
strangle hold the likes of which even an anaconda could not
Oliver turned to four more assassins, posing
as patrons, coming around a division among the tables. One of them
actually had brought a stick of dynamite to the party. Were they so
desperate, he wondered? The fuse was already lit. The middle-aged
assassin flung the TNT into the air toward Oliver. As he gazed upon
the infernal object it unrolled itself, revealing the tightly
packed powder. All of the explosive contents blew backward upon the
crouching assassins along with the lit fuse, hissing and squirming
like a scalded snake. The powder ignited mid-air showering the
assassins in a cloud that blossomed into an inferno around
Oliver surveyed the scene. Dead or severely
wounded assassins were scattered throughout the restaurant. When he
went back to the table he had previously occupied, Oliver found
Samuel Loch missing. Apparently he had fled the restaurant.
He sat down at the only nearby table that
had not been touched by fighting. Around him the restaurant stood
ramshackle and burning. Oliver picked up an empty wine glass in
pristine condition, raising it before him. Red wine filled the
glass from the bottom up as he gazed upon it. Oliver sniffed the
aroma, approving of the vintage he had reproduced. “To you, Mr.
Black,” he toasted.
The hammer of a revolver clicked as it was
pulled back into firing position. As Oliver turned, a waiter
standing directly behind him was tackled from the side by a young
girl. The waiter fell heavily to the carpeted floor of Le Braziere
with the girl attached to his neck. His gun discharged in no
particular direction. Within seconds of her attack, he was
Oliver stood, watching the girl feed for a
moment before she looked up at him with red-rimmed irises glowing
in the candlelight of nearby tables. Not a drop had been spilled.
Her skin flushed, suddenly vibrant where it had been pale and gray
a moment before. The assassin’s pistol, ready to have placed a
bullet into the back of Oliver’s head, still lay in his hand, a
single cartridge discharged.
Oliver sighed, smiling at the young girl now
standing before him wearing black clothing that matched no
particular fashion of the day. Clearly it had been designed for
practical purposes like ease of movement only; breeches and a
blouse with a hooded robe covering all.
“Do you always leave such a mess?” she said,
surveying what was left of Le Braziere’s once elegant dining
“Thank you for your assistance, Charlotte,”
Oliver said. “As always, your timing is impeccable.”
The girl did not acknowledge the compliment.
Constables would soon be on the scene following the gunfire and the
charred corpse lying outside. The Fire Brigade would follow on
their heels but most of Le Braziere would be destroyed. By the time
Oliver James gathered himself and exited Le Braziere, the girl had
vanished as mysteriously as she had appeared.
I never shall forget the occasion that
brought me to London in my seventeenth year—a year that would
deprive me of my father, my sanity and very nearly my life. I had
imagined the beginning of a grand adventure—one that would usher me
into the real world far beyond our meager home in Albany. What I
experienced would terrify my soul beyond all possibility.
“A monarchy—does that mean they have a
My father lifted his hat and scratched the
back of his head. “Oh yes—well, they had one, but he died. They
still have a queen though—Victoria is her name.”
I stood next to my father at the portside
rail of the great steamship
bearing us across the
Atlantic toward England. “Do you think I will get to meet her while
we’re in London?”
My father gave me an uncertain look. “I
doubt it. After all, Brody, Queens are very busy people. Perhaps
she might make an appearance, and you could see her then.”
I smiled at the thought. This managed to
satisfy me. England would be a glorious place. New sights, sounds
and adventure awaited us on that distant shore. I was sure of it.
If only I had known how wrong my thinking was, I never would have
set foot upon the shore.
I passed my time onboard watching dolphins
race at the bow. Oblivious to the danger, sleek gray bodies
breeched the dark water then arced gracefully back beneath the wake
only to do it again and again. I marveled at the great expanse of
ocean before me—as menacing in the night as it was beautiful during
“What Noah must have thought to be set upon
a never-ending ocean and with so many animals,” I observed.
My father simply laughed to himself at my
wide-eyed wonder. We read the bible by lantern light each night
before we went to bed. Then I dreamed of the Maker of all things
My father had been the pastor of a small
Baptist church in our city for nearly ten years. Most recently, he
had been summoned to London. Eager to serve, my father had made
ready to go posthaste.
“The fields are white unto harvest, Brody.
That is why we are making this trip. Mr. Thomas, the man paying our
fare to London, is planning to start out on a missionary journey,
and I have the privilege of helping organize it. Ours and our
sister churches at home will help to finance the planting of new
churches in foreign lands.”
I listened, feeding off his fervency for
souls, wondering who I would meet and whether Mr. Thomas had any
children my age. London being so new to me and such a large place,
I hoped for a friend who might help me learn my way while my father
and Mr. Thomas worked.
“Does Mr. Thomas have any children?”
My father thought a moment. “You know, I’m
not really sure. But I’m certain their will be boys your age among
the families of his congregation. You may get to know them and make
On our last night at sea, I lay
awake—anxious for what the next day would bring. Eventually, the
undulating ship rocked me to sleep upon the waves. I dreamed
strange things that night—things that only now do I have more
I walked alone through a crowded city
street. No one held a kind look for me. No one showed me any pity.
I felt bitter cold and my belly groaned for a bite of food. It
seemed so real. Shadowy figures emerged from dark alleys to pull at
my tattered clothing.
I heard the beating of great wings which
grew louder and louder. I became frightened and looked for the
source of these wing-beats. The crowded street stirred into a panic
as pedestrians sought refuge from the invisible raptor. Gentlemen
and ladies ran over one another trying to get to safety until the
street became quite empty. I stood in the middle of a cobblestone
lane, turning in every direction, knowing of no way to flee.
As I turned again, a man stood in the street
before me. The sun cast him in silhouette, so that his face
remained hidden beneath a tall hat. He wore a dark suit with a long
coat and held a straight cane with a silver knob in his gloved
hand. Great wings unfurled behind him. Brilliant sunlight
illuminated the white feathers, showing them dingy—stained with
blood and filth. The man swung his cane up high and then down upon
my head as I tried to scream.