LEINIGEN & THE LAMBETH TREASURE
A Twitter adventure told in portions of 140 characters or less.
Part Thirty: An Epilogue…
The rest, as the Bard knocked out when the bill for the roof needed paying, is silence. Or not really. The rest was actually a tad noisy.
The YMCE jeep was a hardy one, a tad crunchy on the corners but otherwise game and true as a Derby colt. I roared away from the Highlands.
There were cans of petrol in the back, of course, and food, blankets, torches and a gun. Bivouacking in fields, travelling at dusk, I drove.
As I drove, without comfort other than the hum of the wind and the regular splat of insects in my teeth, I was given occasion to think.
I thought through the extraordinary events of what was, on count-back, only the last few days. I had adventured, all right. I had lived!
Others had not. Poor Sam Phraxby, drained of blood by a demonic Flea in a cistern deep below one of London’s more insalubrious boroughs.
At least he was the only good guy to have bought it, Simon the Kapo and the YMCE, Holman-Hunt and Galanthus having paid the dearest price.
I supposed I should count the Archbishop of Canterbury in that too - he had, after all, rather saved the day and foiled the plot. Fair dos.
Galanthus. Vespa. Maxine. Whatever her name was. I thought, as I camped out on moor and scree, of her deception. Of her lies! Her treachery!
Of her kiss… I don’t suppose it surprising that, as I flew south, I thought often of that kiss, on the ledge over the boiling pit of lava.
It had seemed I had won her back. Galanthus! Max Galanthus! A woman who directed governments, started wars, poisoned worlds! Won by a kiss!
I’ll allow that I allowed myself a conceited chuckle, only to be brought and caught short by the subsequent remembrance of her fiery demise.
I remembered her reaching for the book, the Taxus Brevifola, the Lambeth Treasure itself! I saw her fall, her scream! Her hideous death!
Couldn’t be helped, I supposed, and she or I couldn’t say she hadn’t had it coming, what? No. The world was safer without Maxine Galanthus.
And without the Taxus Brevifola and the Reverend Francis Gibbous Moon. But here too, approaching Leeds, if I recall, I had cause to pause.
I had not seen the Taxus Brevifola destroyed. I had seen it float away on a diminishing scrap of rock, adrift on a sea of magma and death.
But I had not seen it destroyed. Nor, of course, had I confirmed the fate of the dastard Moon, who had skedaddled at doom’s first crack.
Naturally the blackguard had run! I had not seen him, though, in the course of my subsequent escape. He could, I knew, have escaped too.
I hoped he had been squashed by a chunk of volcanic rock. It would have fitted, given his usual air of having scuttled from beneath a stone.
But I had no proof of his death, not even having seen a convenient dog collar afloat on a pool of spitting lava. That would have been nice.
I chased Moon from my mind. Frankly, if he had escaped, so much the better for future adventures. We might well, would well, meet again.
About the possible survival of the Taxus Brevifola, possibly, madly, in the possession of said Moon, I thought even less. It didn’t bare it.
And it was unlikely. That was enough, and as I drove south and the landscape softened, an odd lull, a sense of completeness, came upon me.
Such feelings descend at the end of adventures, be they kayaking the ice floes with Taktuk desperadoes or popping to the shops for lunch.
By the time I reached Lambeth, at night on the seventh day, and parked the jeep under a railway arch, I felt at one with all and sundry.
I crept into Blake’s house – by smashing a window, granted – and retrieved Sam Phraxby’s corpse from behind the chaise longue in the study.
Drained of vitals, he was light as a feather. I couldn’t, I realised, give the poor fellow a decent (I hesitated to say ‘Christian’) burial.
I stashed him in the Labyrinth. Popped down, alert for Flea, Gout Devil or Night Mare, and took him where Moon first manifested himself.
I laid Sam on the table in the middle of the room. Closed his eyes (which had been staring hideously, rather) and retreated to the door.
‘Goodbye, Phraxby old chum,’ I said, taking a look at what would be his eternal tomb. There was an awkward silence. ‘Cheero, then,’ I said.
I left him. Climbing back to the silence of Blake’s study, I pondered my next move. To the river, obviously. Find some passing traffic.
East! That way lay further adventure! And Tilbury. And there lay fine ships, bound to need a stout hand for impending voyages! Abroad!
But I holed up at Sam’s place first, sorting my canvas bag, bathing, shaving and stocking up on Clipstone Ceylon Tea and hard-tack biscuits.
I also sat down at poor Sam’s desk and, among the fossil paperweights and textbooks, wrote and wrote and wrote. Steadily, a manuscript grew.
The resultant khaki packet I trussed up with string and sent to the Hack Pengelly, care of whichever quack pamphleteer now employed him.
Before dawn, I left Hercules Road, noticing happily a council notice proclaiming the demolition of the terrace in which Blake’s house stood.
The Lambeth Labyrinth would be sealed at its secular end. At the ecclesiastical one, Moon’s robot Archbishop would, hopefully, stand guard.
I chased all loose ends from my mind. East! At the river I found a happily unguarded rowboat. Hopping in, I applied oaken oar to rollock.
Lusty strokes had me out in midstream, under the gaze of Lambeth Palace. ‘Cheero!’ I shouted, and set forth. Hard east, into the rising sun!