GYROSCOPE

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CHAPTER 1 HARVESTING THE SEA

CHAPTER 2 THE HOUSE IN THE TIDE

CHAPTER 3 THE SHIT BOYS

CHAPTER 4 THE SLEEP OF THE JUST

CHAPTER 5 THE ISLAND OF THE LOST

CHAPTER 6 GYROSCOPE

CHAPTER 7 THE LIGHTNING IN THE GROUND

CHAPTER 8 HEAVY HAULAGE

CHAPTER 9 THE NOBLE SAVAGE

CHAPTER 10 GHOST TOWN

CHAPTER 11 ROSALIA

CHAPTER 12 THE WRITING ON THE WALL

CHAPTER 13 KNOW TRAIN TO PORTER

CHAPTER 14 A FLY IN AMBER

CHAPTER 15 SAUL

CHAPTER 16 INQUISITION

CHAPTER 17 THE ESCAPE PLAN

CHAPTER 18 THE FISHER KING

CHAPTER 19 HALLOWED GROUND

CHAPTER 20 CHANNEL SKIPPING

CHAPTER 21 SHALLOW GRAVE

CHAPTER 22 THE GUNPOWDER PLOT

CHAPTER 23 DREAM TIME

CHAPTER 24 FIRE IN THE HOLD

CHAPTER 25 FLYING

CHAPTER 26 RESUMPTION

CHAPTER 27 LATE IN THE DAY

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CHAPTER 1

HARVESTING THE SEA…

All stories begin, that is their nature, they make an entrance, stealing forth across the boundaries of otherwise unexceptional event to establish what is hoped will become a variety of pace and, in this manner they are, as one would suppose, at least initially unexpected.

It is, in this sense, within art and the sympathy which it proposes to describe that a narrative strain may gradually be observed to excuse itself. Of course such things take time, but eventually it is hoped that the effort invested in achieving a given quality of dramatic equilibrium will appreciate some small degree of reciprocal understanding.

After all, one can but plant a seed and grant it grace to mature allowing it to spread from it’s roots through myriad pathways towards that which is fated to be it’s destiny. Within time the curious patina of a tale’s underlying scheme will begin to make sense, only then can it be viewed objectively.

Limes had been grown on Bermuda since the era of the island’s first occupation by mankind, a fruit chosen from the many that may be found among the diverse kingdom’s of the earth to ply mariners with the Vitamin C that such men were, in keeping with the occupational hazards of their career, perceived to deem necessary in efforts to combat the degenerative effects of diseases like Rickets and Scurvy.

Perhaps through association with such usage, the fruit was observed to share a perennial association with the sea, it ‘s striking green hue being perceived as a physical representation of the world which sailors were, by vocation, honor bound to circumnavigate, a globe which, in being embittered to the point of causticity as it yet bore it’s colors upon it’s sleeve, was believed, in a metaphorical sense at least, to lend reason to their wayfaring.

There had throughout the course of naval history been many recipes devised by ship’s cooks to moderate the acrid attributes to which Limes cutomarily ascribe, their fortitude being such that it was often observed that they needed to be physically destroyed to temper their flavor.

In India the salted fruit was conventionally cooked in it’s rind with Mustard Seed, Garlic, Cumin, Coriander and Chili Powder before being stored with water, sugar and vinegar to make pickle, in South America the fruit was blended with Avocado and Chili Peppers to make Guacamole, in the Caribbean it was mixed with Coconut and Fudge to make sweets and sorbets, it was also employed aboard ships as a constituent in medicinal cordials, the list of possible applications was, to all intents and purposes, limitless, it was all in the mix.

Limes were, in this manner, also often used fresh to garnish poultry and shrimp, the zest of the fruit keening against the tenderest meat to the effect of accentuating it’s flavor. There was a market for such things and many Lime plantations were observed to remain active long after naval interests had abandoned province over them.

There were many derelict Lime groves distributed across the surface of the earth, plots of land that, in having been abandoned owing to their inaccessibility, yet remained bearing fruit upon a seasonal basis when otherwise unattended by the interests of mankind, such orchards becoming wonderlands of virgin opportunity, shedding windfall in a precarious manner far beyond the realms of human concern to establish tenuous ecosystems which ascribed to no rule other than their own.

Perhaps such sites had once betoken association with old money, being found within the proximity of naval barracks or country estates, interests that, in themselves having run to seed, were observed to leave little more than the rudiment of the efforts which had once been invested in their maintenance behind them. Maybe they were purely incidental, the product of incidental crosswinds or tidal slipstreams, whatever the case may be with regards to such matters, the fruit was often observed to grow wild in locations that it would otherwise never have been found…

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The sun hung low over the picked carcass of the coast, casting a glittering web of lateral margins out across the vast plane made by the union of the tidal inlet with the widening pan of the sea.

Shanties of trawlers, many commissioned, for the sake of adventure, by private owners, skipped the coast for fish and thrills in flotillas of optimistic profusion, a multitude of diverse interests, swept uniform by distance in token homage to any generalization that may be made of their kind, envoys sent forth to bob jauntily against the horizon like jacks cast over dice, there to drift as pollen gazing precariously down into the grey depths of the illimitable deep and any unfathomable quotient that it may seek to conceal .

The squalor of a municipal dump stank into the lighter air cast off from the catastrophes of brine which then mustered insistent momentum against the coast, blackening and thickening the swell of oceanic thermals with resident voracity as though to claim foul province with it’s musk.

The accumulation of dung had over years found occasion to form an artificial cove, a gentle slope which, in descending down towards the water’s edge at an even camber, had succeeded long ago in the scaling the cliff over which it had been jettisoned and extending province onto the higher ground at it’s apex.

It seemed, in the right light, with the wind blowing out to sea that it was a continuation of the land, an artificial isthmus forged from the collective identities of a myriad discarded childhoods, broken bottles and skeins of clotted paper, stretching out into the water like soaked laundry, the wonderland of a generation’s soul ground underfoot, pulverized into a million glittering gems like cheap jewelry to add to the luster of the tide.

It was the effluence of an infant race, a breed contrived to play vanguard for whatever was felt necessary to appease the ravening gulf which lay beyond it’s sphere of reckoning, an inchoate civilization sent forth to furnish the earth with excrement, it’s ignorance insured by the blinds that, at conception, it was honor bound to pull down about it’s eyes. A culture that, in being doomed, need only ever know in death what it had known in life, securing it’s future when faced with extinction upon the same term that it had once prospected success.

There was perhaps truth in the maxim that, in never have known alternative, good will left to rot may, without purpose, but continue to flounder. Cultural baggage cast forth to establish premium for it’s kind will, when doomed, simply persist in attempting to achieve it’s premium. It was, in effect, all that it had ever possessed, all that it had ever wanted. It vented it’s exasperation, attempting to preserve it’s dignity upon such terms because it knew no other way.

The smashed detritus of die cast clowns, the pink filigree of patent lingerie, the dismembered anatomies of over muscled toys, the cartilage of spring mounted projectile weapons, the rubber entrails of finger games and emulsified packaging thrown forth with equal deference into the homogeneous sweep of a unifying tide.

Sea gulls wheeled and cavorted through the haze that slowly evaporated from the dump, engaging in mock duels with others as they picked it’s shattered carcass threadbare, one, exultant with the retrieval of a sliver of silver foil, had decided to engage in a Kamikaze tirade through the festering multitude of the others among it’s company, scattering them like flies swiped clear of a turd, the sky momentarily erupted in a raucous maelstrom of whites and grays as the the gulls reappraised their circumstance and settled further up the hill to feast from the tip’s summit, the mountain of excrement rattled through an avalanche of dislodged detritus before reluctantly coming to rest

The gulls harassed the steaming piles of excrement in opportunistic squadrons, courting the breeze in skirmishes. Knife fighters sallying appraisal in the fervor of a kill, carrion feeders blessed for want of taste with a gluttony of choice, such seabirds were illiterate, unacquainted with the mores of human ingenuity, dung was dung and, in such abundance upon the coast, it represented a feast which appeared, in it’s fashion, to beggar the wildest dreams of avarice.

The birds picked at the raised mountains of rubbish that had been deposited upon the site by the convoys of disposal trucks commissioned beneath the wisdom of municipal authority to clear it’s waste, a caravan that, in regularly transiting payloads of floating garbage that had been hauled from the sea, seemed, in being honor bound to throw things from the earth’s edge, to revel in the anarchy sanctioned by the gravity of their task, assuming license from the notion that an absence of measure may celebrate excess, an improbable boon of chaotic pedigree spurned forth into a world cast from sunlight to drift an age in endless seas.

Having satisfied themselves with morsels of refuse taken from the dump, the gulls appeared to be distracted by the shambolic approach of a large rectangular truck laden with a corrugated steel container towards their congregation and ascended en mass into the sky, gyrating through a number of loosely concentric formations as they scourged the foul earth with unremitting invective.

The truck continued laboriously tracing passage forth across the dust strewn plane that lay at the apex of the mound, before, having elected a suitable depot upon which to deposit it’s payload, slowly drawing to a halt and tipping it’s freight into the dirt. The birds became frenzied as the rubbish was dropped, as though they were capable of mustering speculation over the character of the fresh resource which then lay at their disposal, a stimulus which served to send them into suicidal tirades against the truck’s flank in protest of it’s ignominy there upon the field.

Having evacuated it’s bowels, the truck seamlessly retreated from the scene of it’s deposition without further issue, tracing passage back across the mottled tundra which surrounded the tip towards the nearest arterial route, the relationship that the birds shared with the ever widening stock pile of human refuse which was left on the site upon a daily basis lay beyond it’s driver’s concern, it lay beyond every driver’s concern, that was how it flourished...

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It was to the dump’s peculiar location in the Sargasso sea that John O’ Grady presently found himself directing his attention.

John was an easy mannered Irishman that, in having been considered something of an academic prodigy throughout his youth, had been fortunate to find work with a number of off shore oil rigs during his early twenties, a period of employment that, in circumstantially granting him grace to learn something of the refinement industry, was, incidentally, noted to have introduced him to the practice of ‘fracking’, an industrial technique which, in finding occasion to force compressed fluid through rock, was effectively perceived to change the lie of any land to which it was applied, altering the way that it was observed to filter water.

He had, in fact always been privately amused by the meritocratic distinctions which his college appeared honor bound to award him in this instance, for he had through association with the passion for civil protest that many students were compelled to entertain throughout the halcyon era of the nineteen sixties when he was engaged in study, always considered himself to be of a fairly rebellious disposition.

The mid twentieth century had been a peculiar time, a period during which the contrary initiatives of both intellectualism and rebellion were, beneath the wisdom of Karl Marx’s ‘Communist Manifesto’, frequently perceived to exist alongside each other, and it was perhaps through association with the liberal attitudes espoused during the era that John had ultimately managed to pursue his career.

John had presently been commissioned to perform an investigation of the extensive spread of the oceanic dump that was observed to persist some distance off the North coast of Bermuda, a ‘Gyre’ or tidal vortex, which, in quite incidentally finding occasion to harbor the collective quota of refuse generated by the disposal of both European and American commerce, had been formally bound together as an artificial island in efforts to facilitate the passage of ships across the Sargasso.

Through association with his assignment John had circumstantially decided to discuss the issue of the dump’s maintenance with an old friend of his named ‘Bob Harvest’, an individual who, in having lived on Bermuda for a number of years, was, by virtue of his location, currently serving as John’s employer.

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“So I hear that you are about to undertake a work project with my team,” began ‘Harvest’ cordially inviting ‘O’Grady’ into his office .

“I must confess that I initially had my reservations when I accepted the job,” replied John circumspectly.

“Yes I am compelled to agree with you, the dump is a diabolical place to work”, said ‘Harvest’ circumspectly, “but I am sure that you will overcome it’s more unappealing aspects when you begin to learn the ropes”.

“Rubbish,cultural rubbish and the fecundity of the guiding ethic which serves in it’s production”, mused John abstractly, “none of it is necessary, not even the people that produce it”.

“Mankind would truly be a race which seeks to preserve it’s own interests beneath such a term do you not think ?” Said ‘Harvest’ sardonically , “it could throw it’s ruse without a care in the world, no more charity from the local waste disposal aficionados, just men striving to secure their future when they know within their heart that such pursuits no longer serve a purpose.”

“Throw it’s ruse ?” Repeated John confused.

“I apologize,” said ‘Harvest’, “I did not mean to confuse you, I was merely observing that certain cultures are capable of surviving upon a warlike term where others are not. Those that are when they yet exist within a commercial environment, would surely be establishing a deceptive pretext for themselves to persist in accordance with it’s ideology.”

“It stands to reason,” replied John inspecting his friend quizzically, “are you inferring that men cannot profit from conflict ?”

“Put simply I don’t think so,” replied ‘Harvest’ bluntly, “I believe that men are inclined to tally with commercial incentives because they must,” he paused, “a race that cannot fight for it’s rights because it is not raised to do so is essentially a cultural entity that exists at the behest of greater providence, it’s commercial immediacy proving this stance more profoundly than any argument which it may seek to adopt in it’s defense could ever presume”.

“From the general apparel of the waste which men produce I would be inclined to think that such a distinction hardly mattered” answered John, “when a civilization appears to go to war those that avow pacifism tend to be treated with equal deference to those that do not”.

“Perhaps”, replied ‘Harvest’, “but such an observation does not take into consideration that the trappings of commercial dependence are, by nature, peaceful”, he paused, “the way that things may superficially appear to be does not, in many instances, necessarily reflect the way that they are”.

“I am afraid that I am inclined to disagree with you,” said John, “men have been observed to wage wars repeatedly in the past and they are still alive to testify their experiences with regards to such things”.

“Not quite”, replied “Harvest” gently correcting his friend, “they have ‘died’ in wars which are subsequently recorded to have occurred,”

“But it is a point of fact”, said John unconvinced, “the legacy of human conflict on earth is undeniable”.

“No”, exclaimed Harvest abruptly in an effort to correct his friend, “that is merely a presumption, something which can be read in a newspaper does not necessarily reflect the reality which it is attempting to describe” he paused momentarily collecting himself, “has it not occurred to you with respect to the quantity of refuse which is currently being circulated about the surface of the earth, that the true toll of conflict is cultural extinction ?”

“I had never found occasion to view things that way”, said John evasively, “there appeared, in my opinion, to be too much historical evidence to the contrary”.

“Evidence subjectively presented by commercial resource”, said ‘Harvest’ drawing breath, “put simply the figures don’t add up”, he paused momentarily in reflection, “in serving as it’s own unit of comparison, commerce is preternaturally inclined to portray things in accordance with it’s own prerogatives.

“If, as you suggest, commercial culture cannot fight it’s ground, then what are the alternatives that yet remain open to it ?” Said John deciding to humor his friend

As long as the disposal of rubbish occurs there will be people to dispose of it”, replied ‘Harvest’ with a gesture of reassurance, “that is the option which yet remains viable in such an instance, to take the vast reserves of refuse that have found occasion to accumulate across the surface of the earth and insure that they are well managed,”

“Oh I see”, answered John correcting himself, “so you believe that men need to preserve their waste to survive the carnage that they would otherwise court”.

“It is merely an observation, consumerism is, to my mind, a preternaturally peaceful agenda”, replied ‘Harvest’ simplistically, “without it’s quota of garbage, I am of the opinion that modern commercial culture would, in serving no ecological function, be intolerable to those with whom it presently shares the earth”.

John cast his friend a skeptical glance but said nothing.

“It is my chosen sphere of interest”, continued ‘Harvest’ smiling amiably, “I have learned many things from the study of waste,” He paused, “do you know, for example, that petroleum polymers do not dissolve in water, human waste fashioned from plastic remaining undiminished as a pollutant within any aqueous environment into which it is introduced ?”.

John often found occasion to doubt his friend’s sanity with regards to such matters, observing that, although capable of affording a number of intriguing insights into many diverse issues, his reasoning was, in principle, unsound.

John had, in this instance, known ‘Harvest’ since his youth, a period throughout which, he was inclined to observe that the man had, after having suffered to the attentions of over zealous medics through association with acute depression when young, been cursed with an impulsive nature that did not easily betoken allusion towards philosophy.

It had in fact largely been through association with ‘Harvest’s’ condition that John and he had become friends, the man’s eccentricities were observed to imply a manner of psychological frailty which he felt allied well with his own rebellious inclinations, the two of them were, after all, slightly mad, it was in the nature of their work, they were at liberty to share their lunacies with each other.

“No I, must confess that I was unaware of such a thing?” replied John after some moments of introspection.

“In being a necessary appendage to the earth’s ecosystem, plastic waste remains practically indissoluble within any natural environment into which it is introduced.” said Harvest attempting to clarify himself.

John was immediately inclined to question his friend’s rationale with regards to such an issue, he had preferred to consider the provinces of nature to be a thing of beauty, the preserve of wild and exotic species with their own priorities and their own wanton souls, a puritan fellowship of diverse and specialized extraction, a menagerie that, in witnessing distinction, was lost unto itself.

“How is plastic waste necessary within the earth’s ecosystem ?” mused John, glancing up at his friend skeptically

“By virtue of it’s indissolubility”, replied ‘Harvest’ laughing at the paradox which his assertion was perceived to represent, “it’s still there clogging the system long after most other things have disappeared”.

John observed that his friend was inclined to become animated, betraying a contrite streak which he liked to consider a well spring of enlightenment among those with whom he fraternized when drawn to discuss matters which he deemed to be of importance.

“How so ?” John inquired circumspectly.

“Think of it this way”, replied ‘Harvest’, “although afflicted by acid, Limestone does not burn in sunlight, thus any city fashioned from it must, within reason, surely pollute the open environment in which it is built”, he paused, privately amused by the notion that, in customarily being considered culturally indispensable, things like buildings and roads could, when taken out of context, theoretically be considered garbage. “Plastic waste is also largely indissoluble in the wrong climate, it lies with the discrimination of it’s architect to infer how the legacy of it’s disposal should appear”.

John could recall having initially been confused by his friend’s assertion. “Human excrement has no architect” he replied after some moments of consideration, “architectural science implies a mastery of craft, garbage is just discarded, that is the reason why coastal rubbish tips accumulate”, he paused before adding, “and besides metal is not a Polymer, in terms of representing a concession to nature, it rusts freely in water”.

‘Harvest’ furrowed his brow as though perplexed, “All material residue can have an architect, it is just a question of finding the appropriate application,” he paused momentarily in introspection, “where do you think Limestone come from ?”

“From the earth”, replied John blankly, “ it is compressed sand that has been granted an opportunity to breath beneath pressure”, he paused, “but this has little or nothing to do with the abandonment of plastics like Poly Vinyl Chloride upon rubbish tips, such things are, to my knowledge, simply left sundry”.

‘Harvest’ hesitated casting John an inquiring glance, “it is undeniably true that beneath the wisdom of modern science the construction of houses with limestone bricks pertains to the economies of architecture, the mineral is a useful resource which men are assigned to sculpt and emboss, much as it is true that, when untended, the vast reservoirs of discarded plastic left by human commerce perceptibly spite any appreciation of beauty to which the kingdoms of nature may ascribe”, he paused, “but think of the possibilities which may be construed from opposing such a standard”.

“What do you mean ?” Inquired John

“In observing that Limestone does not burn and remains practically indissoluble when employed in the construction of buildings”, replied ‘Harvest’, “one could similarly be inclined to note that plastic immersed in water, may remain largely unaffected by the acids that frequent aqueous conditions”.

“You infer that plastic could serve as a building material when immersed in water”, said John uncertainly.

“In not so many words”, ‘Harvest’ replied shrugging his shoulders, “all it takes is a little care”.

John cast his friend a bemused glance before replying, “men do not preserve plastic waste to provide building materials for fish, they smelt it to dispose of it, if only to spare the world of it’s stench as the mountains of refuse which it finds occasion to harbor rise”.

“How can you be sure that the incineration of petroleum based polymers ceases to exist ?” Inquired ‘Harvest’.

“They are not there any more”, said John shrugging his shoulders weakly, “out of sight, out of mind.”

‘Harvest’ paused momentarily in consideration before replying, “I tend to place the residue left by petroleum polymers beneath the common heading “Carbon Dioxide”, a gas formed from the combustion of petroleum in the atmosphere, it is an insulator which causes global warming and mankind produces vast amounts of it”.

“It must feel that it needs to,” replied John circumspectly.

“There is, in my opinion, presently too much Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere”, said ‘Harvest’ conclusively, ““it is discarded, removed from surplus stockpiles on supermarket shelves, emptied from waste paper bins, picked from street corners, cleared from drains, bound into sheaves, compressed, shredded, recycled, remolded and ultimately rejected, the human race could, in my opinion, probably survive on earth if it’s atmosphere were to retain half the amount of Carbon Dioxide that it presently contains”.

“Too much Carbon Dioxide in the air and not enough plastic in the sea ?” Mused John attempting to follow his friend’s argument, “You infer that you disagree with the incineration of plastics”.

“In not so many words”, replied Harvest cursorily “One has to speculate to accumulate, “it is the way of the world”.

“But it is common practice to clear waste in such a manner,” said John perplexed.

“Surely you must understand that such a thing is merely an expedient,” replied Harvest with a mischievous gleam in his eye , “Imagine the possibilities that may be construed from finding some other method of disposal, a task of such magnitude could, in re-designating what has come to represent the extent of mankind’s prospect on earth, effectively bring to an end the destructive inclinations of it’s heritage”.

“You appear optimistic”, replied John furrowing his brow.

“Harvest” smiled but said nothing.

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CHAPTER 2

THE HOUSE IN THE TIDE…

If one were to examine any modern map, noting the spread of it’s scheme across the multitude of countries which presently serve to distinguish the earth’s geography then one would observe, that without exception, the oldest and largest cities to appear within it’s catalog are situated upon the banks of rivers, fresh water being perhaps the most precious of the many resources which mankind has, throughout his time on earth, found occasion to exploit.

Correspondingly when such channels become blocked and, in accumulating residue, stagnate, they may be proven to serve as catalysts for human industry, focusing the efforts of entire communities towards the common pursuit of fresh water, an instance in which, during times of what would otherwise be observed cultural inertia, some of the most impressive engines ever devised by mankind were yet constructed in efforts to effect the extraction of fresh water from the tide.

When disease enters such an arena carried upon the stench of overripe sewage to claim the lives of those that are yet perceived to depend upon liquid resource, then the need to create and perfect the methodology invested in it’s sterilization increases, becoming a science replete with it’s own doctrines,measurements and codes of practice, a production ethic that, in time, may advance it’s interests to define a common way of life.

During the Victorian era when fears of waterborne disease were rife among the many cities which then bound the earth’s Western hemisphere together beneath a common mantle, the industry invested in the sterilization of water was, in this manner, observed to accede unparalleled domain, giving rise to an assortment of industrial buildings, concerns which, in accommodating vast steam powered beam engines that distilled their vintage as they drew it from repose, became inextricable from the collective identity of the townships that they served, spawning sibling industries among the dockyards and harbors of their demesnes, naval interests capable of extending province across the surface of the earth.

Perhaps the sewage farm which had found occasion to arise upon the ‘Gyre Patch’ in the Atlantic basin once owed it’s origins to the convictions of such industry, a natural point of convergence for all of the effluents which, throughout successive generations of terrestrial life, may observably be swept out to sea, perhaps it’s creation was more necessary than this, it’s stench hovered and wove like baited swarm in the drift, an unwholesome alchemy of salt and oil, whatever the reason for the dump’s creation, it’s persistence off the coast of Bermuda was undeniable and, as such, demanded maintenance.

The operative mechanism of the tip if such a term could be applied to the incident of it’s presence in the open ocean, was upon immediate appraisal, not dissimilar to that employed by the many canal routs which, throughout the Victorian era were witnessed to ferry the trade between the web of industrial centers that then served to distinguish the West coast of Britain, a system of locks, filters, siphons and diaphragms which, in obstinately maintaining a degree of aqueous pressure by challenging fluid inertia with physical imposition, was, in effect, perceived to harness the latent potential of the many diverse streams that then plied it’s bowels.

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John could remember when called to reflect upon such issues through conjunction with his work that, a constant flow of water was, in such an instance, frequently deemed necessary to prevent rivers from running dry, the volatility of water, it’s capacity to move about itself and retain pockets of air beneath it’s surface being an effective way to preserve fluid continuum.

Such was the nature of the dump, a porous chaos of pathways and diversions which, in forcing the tide that beat relentlessly it’s circumference through increasing degrees of refinement, churned and boiled amidst the contusions of the myriad catastrophes which lay unseen and unannounced at it’s heart.

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Through association with the discussion that he had entertained upon matters pertaining to the dump’s maintenance with “Bob Harvest”, John had, as is the fashion with regards to such matters, inevitably found himself appointed to the artificial harbor represented by the site’s turgid circumstance off the coast of Bermuda, an assignment which, in being presented to him by ‘Harvest’ as an opportunity for him to clearly appraise the project’s magnitude, incidentally served to bless him with a practical experience of the manner in which it could unerringly overcome even the staunchest resolution of those who, whether by accident or design, were cursed to remain within it’s proximity for any length of time.

John withdrew a pair of binoculars from his ruck sack, to survey the thin margin made by the sun against the sea. He believed, as he slowly monitored the horizon, that the gulls had come in to feed from the deeper waters which rolled out endlessly beyond his field of vision, an observation which caused his mind to dwell for some reason upon the colonial practice of dropping whiskey in the Amazonian rain forest to pacify it’s native population.

The birds were wild animals that led hard lives, of this there could be no doubt, it seemed to him in the brief time which he had to consider the issue, that the bounty represented by the garbage tip, served to condense the aggressive tendencies towards which they were prone rather than appease them.

John felt in his ruck sack for an Oat Bar, to stave off a hunger that had despite the general attitude of filth described by his surroundings, succeeded in inflaming his appetite, he deftly pulled off the object’s wrapper conspiratorially unsheathing it like a knife in the chill wind that blew in from the sea and rammed it’s near end into his mouth allowing the texture of caramel and oat pulp to bloom against his tongue, he momentarily noticed the print face “Oat So Natural” described on the packet in italics, before crushing the spent item replete with it’s condensation of grease between his fingers and throwing it freely onto the tip.

John struck a match, nursing it’s flame in the cup of his hand and applying it to the end of a joint which had preserved for the trip in a carton of cigarettes, noticing, upon examining the packet from which he had extracted the item, that it was his last, an excuse to savor the article that was then in his possession.

Drawing a plume of smoke into his lungs he casually discarded the empty cigarette packet upon the beach, an addition to it’s endless catalog of refuse, he thought, allowing the rush of the Cannabis in the burning appendage to claim gentle domain over his senses, that it’s slow depletion appeared to marry with the vapor cast up from the sea, an optical illusion swiftly banished by the article’s extinction.

The wind kicked up, there was a squall brewing somewhere out at sea, John could feel the barometric pressure drop perceptibly as he tightened the string fastenings of his fluorescent nylon cagoule, the weather was turning in and the gulls sensed it, alighting on the garbage in expectant throngs, their disputes seemed to have been silenced by the prospect of foul weather, they stood glancing at each other in attitudes of speculative confidence preening and picking the excrement in which they had been bathing from their feathers.

A thin veil of rain drew in over the coast, obscuring the line made by the horizon against the sky, a natural deodorant that, in serving to charge the air with the acrid scent of zinc, convincingly concealed the rancid stench which radiated forth in warm motes from the dump.

John felt momentarily that he was out at sea as the shower mounted momentum, standing aboard the prow of a scantily decked schooner coursing the tide towards exotic shores, but the illusion was broken by the proximity of the tip, it’s presence even when suppressed by rain, yet exuded a palpable darkness that was difficult to ignore.

John remembered how ‘Bob Harvest’ had, in being drawn to protract his opinion towards what should be done with human effluent, been inclined to celebrate disease as the only proof of man’s mortality before the threat of excessive environmental pollution, it had been an ambivalent attitude which John had initially found difficult to understand, “in pestilence lies strength”, Harvest would say, “ it is the only time that men must re-appraise their situation and adopt new attitudes towards the wisdom of their practices”.

“‘Harvest’ was inclined towards such opinions”, thought John as he stood kindling the joint between his fingers, the man had been slept and doctored since his youth, as much a product of the culture into which he had been born as the dictum which served to define it’s policies. “That was surely why such policies were devised”, he mused drawing slowly on the joint which smoldered in his hand , “to be held accountable for the inanity that they bred”.

Looking out across the stinking pile of rubbish which lay steaming through the rain before him John was nonetheless compelled to agree with his friend upon such matters in this instance, if the residual accumulation of trash on the dump were to harbor disease then it would truly represent the stuff of nightmares, acceding dimension of new and terrifying proportions by rapacious degrees in the collective conscience of mankind.

In pestilence lies strength”, John reflected upon his friend’s words as he stood surveying the dark mound of garbage which appeared to glow with supernal warmth through the drizzle of rain, a train of thought which momentarily caused him to dwell upon the topic of the infant race which, in having served as the origin of much of the dump’s rubbish he had been inclined to contend would, for want of either purpose or pluck, ultimately also conclude it’s life vainly seeking solace from the inattentiveness of the void.

In pestilence lies strength”, the phrase had a ring to it thought John, the Victorians had died in droves as a result of environmental pollution, they seemed to designate a new disease for every symptom that they suffered, ascribing all manner of ailment to the invisible encroachment of water borne bacteria into their rivers, canals and sewage networks, “Typhoid”, “Cholera”, “Tuberculosis”, “Diptheria” and “Influenza”, the list was endless and, upon close investigation, began to lose it’s meaning.

If the Victorians had rallied beneath the threat of such contagion so too could the infant race which had found occasion to furnish the dump with it’s quota of cultural excrement, it was theirs to muster number and devise a cure, theirs to rid the world of it’s effluence, to control the spread of the contagion that it must surely harbor.

Yes” thought John pausing to reflect upon the issue , “such a race could yet truly serve a purpose, to sanitize the garbage that it was extracting from the ground, to hurl defaced into the sea, the fulcrum lay in it’s hands and it remained within it’s power to choose how the balance should fall, it need not fight to establish province, there was always work to be done. “In pestilence lies strength, in pestilence lies strength”, it would take years.

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As John forged passage along the coast towards the dump mustering determined resolve against the conspiracy of wind and rain which strove to impede his progress, he thought, in a moment of relief caused by a break in the weather, that he could detect the movement of a small dark figure in the mountain of rubbish which then appeared to ascend vertically above his head, a presence which appeared to be tracing his parade across the sand, monitoring his advance in a premeditated manner before vanishing behind the piles of detritus which then served to obscure the beach’s extent from view.

Although, in John’s opinion, the visibility by the water’s edge was low, marring an accurate appraisal of his immediate vicinity, he felt certain that the figure which he had observed vanishing into the garbage was not a gull, it had seemed too large and appeared to be using the mountain of detritus that then towered above the inlet as cover.

Making brisk headway towards the location in which he thought that the figure had been standing, John found himself facing a poorly fashioned cavern forged from the deposition of what appeared to be a number of large scale industrial mechanisms beneath the thatch of the domestic waste which served to typify most of tip’s catalog.

“Dumps attract scavengers”, John thought cursorily scanning the cave’s aperture and stepping into it’s enclave to shelter from the wind, “rats, foxes, even domestic dogs if granted liberty to rove as they will”, he paused glancing out across the sea from beneath the jaunty scaffold of the cavern’s rusted eves vaguely anesthetized by the warmth which seemed to radiate up from it’s squalid bowels.

“Such creatures are the vectors of disease”, he observed, drawing his scarf up about his mouth to avoid inhaling the fumes caused by the residual decomposition of the refuse with which he was surrounded, “they thrive on it”, he thought, “they thrive among the dead”,

John crouched down and extracted a brightly colored object from the junk on the floor of the cave, a sweet dispenser which, in having been cast in fluorescent plastic was mounted with a spring loaded bear’s head, a strange item which reminded him for some reason of the variety of concealed weaponry which Russian spies were reputed to use in their efforts to assassinate Western politicians, he played with the article’s mechanism, allowing it’s head to flick back and forth like the flame of a disposable lighter between his fingers.

“Maybe it had been loved once”, he thought examining the toy’s crest in a detached manner , “maybe it had been employed in fantastic wars against imaginary enemies, an object of faith until disproved,” he paused inadvertently placing the toy in his pocket, “or maybe it was just rejected”, there were many such items discarded among the garbage here, plastic dolls equipped with spirit level eyes, die cast cars with clockwork motors, rubber horses with nylon hair, all strangely inappropriate in their fashion, all capable of appreciating tragedy.

After about fifteen minutes of persistent obfuscation the rain began to clear and the gulls which had been brooding upon the dump’s seaward aspect took to the air, John had seen them waiting, mustering spleen like pugilists preparing for a fight out towards the water’s edge and, newly invigorated by the period of respite which had been afforded to them, it was not long before their squabbling acceded a similar ferocity to that which it had earlier achieved.

John had often wondered why such birds adopted what plainly appeared to be a murderous attitude to their social engagements, “perhaps it was comparative”, he mused introspectively, they had been hardened by years scouring thermals out across the open water. If sheer exhilaration were commonplace then one could, within reason, make a riot of repose.

As he stood there watching the mounting momentum of the gull’s dispute, John began to feel for some reason that he himself was being watched, a suspicion which, in causing him to turn away from his vigil back towards the mountains of rubbish that then lined the coast, granted him an opportunity to catch the fleeting impression of the same small dark figure which had earlier distracted his attention standing some distance to his aft, a presence which, as before, was perceived to vanish behind a cove of garbage in the instance of appraisal as though aware that it had been seen.

John waited for some seconds in the alcove created by the derelict industrial apparatus, attempting to deduce the character of the apparition which had fled from his notice, he was sure in this instance that it was neither a fox or rat, it’s bearing was wrong, unbecoming of the vermin which conventionally scavenged resource from such sites.

It appeared, upon first impression, to have been standing erect in the manner of a man, but it was, in John’s opinion, too short to be an adult, a child perhaps, although the thought of children playing upon a refuse site such as this represented a genuinely unsettling prospect, the figure also seemed, in it’s distinction, to have possessed a peculiarly dark complexion, a foreigner perhaps, a black boy, or an Indian, he could not be sure.

John steeped from the mouth of the cavern and made determined headway towards the location in which he believed that the figure had been standing, precariously navigating the salt encrusted remains of old clothing and wrecked domestic paneling which then served to furnish the beach with it’s novelty.

He wondered as he forged passage forth whether it were possible that such an accumulation of trash could preserve it’s past, waste left for thirty or forty years lying in states of uneasy repose beneath the deposition of more recent garbage. He felt sure that if he were to conduct an excavation into the site he would succeed in exhuming objects which had served to fascinate him throughout his own childhood, maybe even earlier, the dump was a treasure trove of forgotten aspiration, it’s capacity to retain cultural inanity seemed limitless.

As he rounded a corner formed from a stack of defunct washing machines, he caught sight of the apparition that had earlier eluded his notice, a squat dark figure, undeniably human, garbed heavily in an incongruous assortment of clothes that appeared to have been extracted from the tip.

“Hello”, cried John, casually raising his hand in greeting, a gesture which served to distract the figure, causing it to divert it’s attentions from an item of rubbish which it had seemed to have been investigating.

As John approached the individual, he observed that his initial deduction had been correct, it was a child, a young boy who, in having been blackened by the squalor which then typified the circumstance to which the location was beholden, appeared dark against the endless mountains of rubbish that towered over his head.

“Hello”, called John again as he neared the figure, proffering forth a hand to appease what he instinctively sensed to be the child’s concern. The boy stood motionless staring directly towards his advance, uncertain as to whether or not human presence there upon the beach represented a threat,

“What is your name ?” Inquired John slowly drawing up to the child’s side.

The boy looked up at him, his features marred by a gesture of acute incomprehension and, cocking his head to side to side, decided to take a seat upon the rusted chassis of a discarded car.

“What is your name ?” repeated John, noticing as he spoke, that there was something strange about the child’s demeanor which he had not immediately noticed, something in his bearing, an intensity of manner, that had, in the moments with which John was blessed to mete appraisal, made him seem older than he had initially presumed.

The child remained silent quietly monitoring the scene before, descending from the derelict chassis upon which he had been perching and making a deft gesture with his hand, a motion which John took to infer that he should follow him.

The boy began to walk slowly across the garbage indicating repeatedly with his hand, a route which ultimately led John back to the alcove beneath which he had earlier taken shelter, a site upon which the boy stopped, raising his arm and pointing out towards the sea.

John was confused, “what could the child be attempting to imply?” he had seemed fairly sure of himself when put to task, undeterred by the presence of strangers within his domain. “Can you speak ?” said John casting the boy a nervous glance.

The boy continued to point out towards the sparse company of trawlers which then served to mark the coast’s seaward aspect.

John was uncertain what the gesture could mean, “you want to know where I come from ?” He said making a bobbing motion with his hands and neatly drawing a line through the gesture with his finger before describing an imaginary steering wheel in the air and smiling.

The boy looked up at him quizzically for a few moments before making an identical gesture to that which had been described.

As John stood in the alcove, attempting to form a communicative rapport with the child, he observed that the doubts which he had earlier entertained with regards to the it’s age were confirmed by proximity, for though slightly built, the contours of the boy’s face appeared to be lined with age, an attribute which, in serving to endow the youth’s features with a roguish quality that was unnervingly complimented by it’s choice of attire, was, in his opinion, creditable to the arduous circumstance beneath which he had presumably chosen to exist.

“Can you speak ?” said John, glancing down at the child.

The boy paused momentarily, cocking his head as though uncertain how to respond before announcing in a husky voice, “yes,” he said defiantly, “but not when I have nothing to say”.

“Do you have a name ?”, continued John pleased that the child was at least capable of understanding him.

“No”, replied the boy curtly before adding, “Do you ?”

“I am John”, intoned John attempting to preserve a genial apparel in the presence of his new companion, before adding “surely you must have a name ?”

“My friend has a name,” said the boy casting John a cursory glance, “but I do not”.

“Friend ?” inquired John momentarily confused, “you mean that there are others here with you ?”

“My friend’s name is ‘Cocolo’”, continued the boy monitoring John’s gaze, “he is funny, he said that he found his name on piece of paper when he came here, but I do not have one”.

‘Cocolo’, Repeated John mildly perturbed by the notion that there was more than one child stranded upon the tip. ‘Cocolo’ there was something in the way that the boy pronounced the name that served to remind John of rock pools, marine crevices, and limpets,“This friend of yours is with you ?” he intoned casting an inquiring glance down at the boy.

“Yes”, replied the child circumspectly, “Cocolo and my other friends, we all live here together”.

“Other friends” said John incredulously, ”“How many of you are there ?”

“Three of us”, replied the boy weakly shrugging his shoulders, “but for ‘Cocolo’ we have always lived here”.

“Where are they ?” said John mildly perturbed by the notion that there could be a gang of youths inhabiting the tip.

The child directed John’s attention towards the back of the alcove in which they were standing and proceeded to remove a discarded draining board from repose, an action which, in serving to expose the presence of a small tunnel bored into the collapsed mountain of excrement at the rear of the cavern, emitted a stench which, in appearing to burn the air with it’s intensity, caused John to wretch.

The boy stood in front of the aperture for a few moments before cautiously entering it’s sanctum, silently indicating with his hands that John should follow him.

“You want me to accompany you down there ?” said John disconcerted by the prospect of defiling the tip’s sanctity to such an intimate extent, the site had challenged his resolve when superficially investigated, penetrating it’s veneer to explore it’s underlying strata would, to his mind, constitute a genuine threat to his life.

“Follow me,” intoned the boy insistently, “Cocolo is down here, we are all down here”.

John was uncertain whether or not he should refuse the child’s offer, he had not expected to be enjoined in such an activity when he set out, he cursorily found occasion to remember, in this instance, ‘Bob Harvest’s’ confidence with regards to the matter upon his initial departure towards the coast, “it will be a simple job” his friend had said, “a reconnaissance to check the lie of the land, no problems, no complications, a swift incision, painlessly executed, you will be back before you know it”.

Staring down into the maw of the tunnel that then stood before him John felt undecided as to whether or not he should just ignore the child’s requests and make headway back towards the depot which had served in his reception not two days earlier , however, in observing that the youth who stood before him seemed to have survived the portent of decay in which the tip was cursed to languish, decided that he would, if only to resolve the riddle of the boy’s presence about it’s bounds, accept the invitation and accompany him into the bowels of the earth.

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CHAPTER 3

THE SHIT BOYS…

The tunnel was surprisingly long and widened substantially upon being entered. John noticed upon invading the bore hole that it’s central avenue had been fashioned from the rusted remains of the derelict industrial apparatus that he had earlier observed to have been deposited upon the beach, a network of trellised archways and scaffolds that, in serving as buttresses, ascended vertically over his head like the ceiling of a small church, a firmament which, in acceding an impressive dimension beneath the acreage of rubbish that surrounded it, had been partially sealed by a thatch of lesser excrement.

The interior dimension of the passageway appeared, in this sense, to have been hollowed out in accordance with the lie of the heavy machinery that then served in it’s support, sculpted through with cabinets and orioles fashioned from incongruous items of domestic refuse, a labyrinth of cornices and ante-rooms, each positioned in homage to the rudimentary expedients of domestic practicality as though having been conceived to correspond with a design scheme that proposed to salvage order from the obscene profusion which served to typify the dump.

Although visibility within the catacomb’s confines was low as a result of what appeared to have been a concerted effort made by either John’s young companion or that of his friends to insulate it’s internal dimensions against the elements, there were a number of apertures far up among the structure’s eves which yet granted an amount of external light access among it’s preserves, an arrangement which, in blessing the tunnel’s length with a curious sterility, appeared to accentuate the comparative stagnancy of all that fell beneath it’s compass, illuminating it’s grottoes and concourses with the stark insistence of moonlight.

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After some minutes of progress towards what John could only consider to be the heart of the tip, the pair entered a sizable chamber which seemed to have been decorated to a greater specific than the rest of the subterranean complex a vestibule which, in bearing witness to signs of occupation seemed, upon immediate appraisal, to serve as the young boy’s destination.

John could not be sure upon cursorily scanning the room, whether he was still beneath the mountain of rubbish that had earlier served to distinguish the tunnel network, the chamber’s walls seemed more even than those at the network’s apex, smoother and paler as though having, through some miracle of ingenuity which then lay beyond the immediate grasp of his comprehensive faculty, been cleaved from rock.

“Wait here”, said the boy, indicating for John to sit, “wait here and my friends will come”, he extracted a small leather skinned drum from the floor of the chamber and began to beat it vigorously, a tirade which, in being swiftly accompanied by the boy with the recital of an address delivered in what John observed to be an incomprehensible dialect, reverberated compellingly about the confines of the chamber with raucous insistence.

After having executed his strange ritual dance the child placed the drum back at the center of the room and waited, issuing a quiet assurance to John in the interim that his friends would soon arrive.

Within minutes, John could hear the sound of voices approaching up an anterior tunnel which lay to the left of that by which he had arrived, a chatter which, in being interspersed with song and extracts of broken verse, struck him for some reason at that time, to bear a marked resemblance to the incident of a ‘Shakespearian’ foil between events of far graver significance.

After having announced their presence at the periphery of the chamber, two youths of approximately the same stature and garb as John’s companion entered the room carrying a redundant piece of haulage apparatus , an item that in having been taken from the industrial wreckage that then lay some distance to the tunnel’s aft, had presumably been reserved for some architectural purpose by the group.

They initially seemed surprised by John’s presence in the chamber, uncertain how to react, however their concerns were swiftly banished by John’s companion who briefly recanted the detail of his encounter on the beach and why he had deigned to invite John into their midst.

“Do you have any food ?” said the first youth after some moments of quiet confabulation with his peers in the same dialect that John had heard his companion use to summon them forth. He appeared upon first impression, to be the youngest of the three children but, from the way that he bore himself among his peers in the instance of communion, adversely also the leader of the group.

John searched through his pockets, he usually carried a stockpile of Oat bars and sweets when engaged in his extra peripheral assignments for ‘Harvest’ and, if he recalled correctly, there was a packed lunch in his ruck sack which had yet eluded the attention of his appetite.

Emptying the bag of it’s contents, John duly passed a selection of morsels among the company of youths that then stood before him, an offering which they eagerly consumed, rejecting the wrappers in a vulpine manner upon the floor of the cave.

“So why are you here ?” said the child who had initially asked for the food.

“Are you ‘Cocolo’ ?”, said John broaching the issue, he felt distinctly unwelcome and was uncertain how he should approach the situation.

“No this is ‘Cocolo’”, said the youth prompting the boy standing beside him forward with a deft nudge.

“So you are the one that I have been told about”, said John directing his attention towards the second of the two boys, relieved that at least one of the children present there promised to share a common point of cultural cross reference with him, “your friend tells me that you came here after having lived with your family”.

“It was a long time ago,” said the boy known as ‘Cocolo’ defensively.

“Was it you that taught your friends to speak English ?”, continued John casting his head towards the other members of the gang.

“Yes”, replied ‘Cocolo’ after some moments of hesitation, “they wanted to learn the words”.

“The words” inquired John seeking confirmation.

‘Cocolo’ reached down and extracted the wrapper of the Oat bar which he had just eaten from the ground, “the words ” he repeated pointing at the letter heads which then served to distinguish the packet’s surface.

John was immediately intrigued by what the boy appeared to be inferring, if it were true that he had taught the group to speak English through association with the discarded food packaging which then littered the island, then their understanding of it’s lexicon would presumably constitute an exotic form of patois, an optimistic dialect patched together from the sum of it’s parts.

He recalled that the idea had made perfect sense to him at the time, the children would have grown acquainted with the jargon of trade long before they found occasion to familiarize themselves with the minutiae of it’s pretext.

John paused, momentarily distracted by what appeared to be a disagreement among the other members of the group before continuing, “what is the other language that you find occasion to use between yourselves ? It isn’t English”, he said intrigued .

Drupe” said Cocolo circumspectly, “I learned it from the others when I arrived”.

Drupe”, whispered John beneath his breath, it was not a tongue with which he was immediately acquainted, and yet the word sounded strangely familiar to him, teasing at his presence of mind with unbidden significance.

“This ‘Drupe’ language where did your friends learn it ?”, inquired John.

‘Cocolo’ made to answer the question however, before he could address the issue, the conversation’s train was sharply interrupted by the boy who had initially accosted John for food.

“Why are you here ?” said the youth repeating his initial request.

“I was brought here by your friend” replied John casting his eyes towards the child that he had earlier met on the beach,”he said that I should meet you and asked me to follow him”.

The youth threw the boy to which John had referred a look of what he had interpreted at the time to constitute despair, before speaking, “he should not have done so, you should leave”, he said finally, “this is our territory, our home, not yours”.

John was disconcerted by the child’s sudden hostility, “how long have you been here ?” he continued.

“I have always been here”, replied the youth simplistically, “we both have”, he said pointing abstractly towards the boy that had initially led John into the tunnel, “‘Cocolo’ is the only one among us who has ever been elsewhere.”

“You speak English well,” commented John inclined to disbelieve the child’s convictions, surely he too must once have had a family, it was inconceivable that a youth of his bearing could simply have spontaneously arisen from the piles of steaming refuse which littered the tip.

After some moments of discussion John decided to withdrew from the conversation to examine the cavern’s walls, noting that they seemed to be cast from the rock beneath the dump rather than it’s quota of garbage.

Bending down to study the room’s confines John noticed that his initial presumption was correct, not only was the cavern cleaved from white limestone but it’s internal dimensions appeared to have been engraved with concentric markings, a design scheme which, upon closer inspection, seemed to have been beveled directly from the rock with a metal instrument.

“What are these ?” he said, pointing decisively at the vestibule’s anterior wall.

‘Cocolo’, glanced down at the marking towards which John had directed his attention, “they are nursery rhymes” he replied shrugging his shoulders weakly.

“Are they in ‘Drupe’ ?” continued John humoring himself with the notion that the group of children which he had found were, in being separated from mankind, inclined to create their own unique cultural reference frame from the assortment of objects which then lay at their disposal.

“Yes” said ‘Cocolo’ seriously before bending down to accompany John in his survey, “this one,” he said pointing to the symbol nearest to the floor of the cave, “is the rhyme of the lightning in the ground”.

“The lightning in the ground” intoned John uncertainly, “how does it go ?” he added attempting to engage the boy in exchange.

“When the rain comes”, said ‘Cocolo’, reflecting carefully upon the significance of the symbol, “when the rain comes and the noise roars in the sky, then there is lighting in the ground”, he said making a crashing sound against the cave wall with the palm of his hand.

“A thunder storm” said John intrigued, “Do you know how to read this poem in ‘Drupe’ ?”.

‘Cocolo’ retracted the small leather skinned drum that had initially served to draw the committee together and started to beat it vigorously as he recanted the meter of the verse to which John had drawn his attention.

“Be quiet,” said the boy whom John had earlier offered food abruptly silencing his friend’s recital, “it is bad luck to repeat such things at the wrong time”.

‘Cocolo’ paused, perceptibly discouraged by his companion’s disapproval, before replacing the drum carefully at the center of the chamber and withdrawing to the cavern’s side.

“How did you come to be here ?” said John directing his attention towards the three youths.

“I have already told you,” said the child who had silenced “Cocolo”, “we we have always been here”.

“That is impossible”, replied John obstinately, “you must once have had parents, therefore you must have some memory of having led a life before your arrival here”.

“No just the sea”, replied the boy earnestly , “just the sea and the light, and…”, he paused uncertainly as though in pursuit of definition, “…and the darkness. We have always been here, it is our home”.

“You said that ‘Cocolo’ once had a family”, said John attempting to find some way to extract sense from the child, “that he was once like me, where did he come from ?”

“The sea”, replied the youth making a gentle bobbing motion in the air before bringing his hand violently down upon the floor of the cave.

John stood for some moments attempting to interpret what it was that the boy appeared to be inferring before continuing, “Do you mean that he was shipwrecked ?”

It had incidentally occurred to John in this instance that the idea would make perfect sense, refugee ships were, to his knowledge, renowned for underestimating the open ocean, entire families of people being recorded to have been lost at sea for nothing other than a want of naval training.

As John speculated upon the possibility that the children were castaways, ‘Cocolo’ re-entered the discussion and began to speak, “before I arrived here, I was not called ‘Cocolo’”, he began quietly, “I had another name, a name given to me by people like yourself”, he paused, directing his attention towards the child that had earlier made the bobbing motion in the air with his hands, “I was known as ‘Christopher’.

Christopher” intoned John suddenly moved towards compassion by the youth’s revelation.

“Yes”, replied ‘Cocolo’ struggling recollection, “my father had been a Christian man, that is why I think that he chose to call me Christopher, I can remember when I was young that he would take me to church every morning to sing and recite prayers”.

“So how did you get here ?” said John glancing down at the boy.

“By boat,” replied ‘Cocolo’,”my father always told me that Christians went to sea, that this was how they proved their faith, it was in their blood he said, it was how they came to Ireland and how they would leave it”.

“You are Irish ?” Said John incredulously.

“That is what my father used to say”, replied ‘Cocolo’ blankly.

“So you sailed here with your family ?”, inquired John intrigued.

“My father built boats”, answered ‘Cocolo’, outstretching his hands to indicate the dimensions of a naval vessel , “I can remember, throughout the first years of my youth, that I would stand in his work shed as he nailed their boards together, he spent hours doing so, he believed that it would make a Christian of him”.

“And that is how you arrived here ?”, said John.

‘Cocolo’ hesitated before continuing, “My father decided one day that he would leave Ireland and settle in America, he said that it was ‘Jesus’’ land, and that it would welcome any Christian brave enough to sail there”, he paused, “I remember that he took one of the boats from his work shed and set it in the water at ‘Newport’ offering his services as a ferryman to any within the surrounding township who would be willing to accompany him on his voyage”.

Newport”, replied John uncertainly, your family came from the West of Ireland.

“That is where my father said that the boat was moored”, answered ‘Cocolo’ succinctly.

John found occasion to reflect momentarily upon the child’s words. The West coast of Ireland was renowned for having served as a half way house between Europe and America during the nineteenth century, many Irishmen leaving their homeland for what they hoped would be a better life in the United States. If ‘Cocolo’s’ family had, as the boy was inclined to suggest, come from ‘Newport’, then they would feasibly have been raised to undertake naval expeditions.

“So what happened ?” said John.

‘Cocolo’ enacted the same mime that his friend had earlier performed, before continuing “we set sail for America, my parents, myself and six others, people that my father had convinced to join him on the voyage. I can remember that we had been at sea for many days and there were periods during that time when I thought I would never again see land”, he paused momentarily to reflect upon the issue , “it had appeared safe, the water was calm and my father would prepare fish caught from the sea for it’s crew, we had played games aboard the boat as we waited for the sun to turn through the sky, cards, tiddly winks, checkers, it seemed, at the time, that the voyage would never end”.

“And”, said John, prompting the boy to complete his tale.

‘Cocolo’ paused eliciting an expression of acute fear, “there was a storm”, he said simplistically, “the weather started to turn and the sea became violent”, he made a sweeping gesture with his hand and glanced up at the roof of the cave.

“So your vessel was wrecked ?”, said John seeking confirmation,

“Yes”, said ‘Cocolo’ dejectedly making a gesture towards the tunnel entrance and the tidal inlet which lay beyond it’s enclave, “I lost my parents that day, the sea came down over the boat’s cabin, smashing it asunder and sweeping them away”. He added shivering perceptibly

“How did you make it to shore ?” said John glancing down at the boy with a look of concern upon his face.

“The boat was broken into driftwood by the impact of the wave”, answered ‘Cocolo’ simplistically, “It floated”.

“So you rode a plank of driftwood ashore ?”,said John unsettled by the degree of adversity which the child claimed to have endured.

“Yes”, replied ‘Cocolo’, “I drifted for three days before finally being stranded here”.

After ‘Cocolo’ had finished speaking, John found occasion to reflect back upon the thoughts that he had earlier entertained with regards to what he had, upon investigating the dump, fleetingly observed to be ‘the infant race’ to which much of the rubbish appeared to owe it’s origins.

The child’s voyage immediately appeared, in it’s fashion, to represent a metaphor for everything that the site had, since his arrival, come to represent in John’s mind, it’s devastated geography replete with disemboweled toys and scattered games, it’s hopeless submission to the elements, it’s idiot freight hurled laughing and crying, pissing and shitting, bleeding and fucking into the maelstrom, was a shipwreck better left alone.

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CHAPTER 4

THE SLEEP OF THE JUST…

After having finished the recital of his tale ‘Cocolo’ reached into the collage of clothing that he had salvaged from the dump in efforts to keep himself warm and withdrew a short string of ceramic beads from one of the many internal pouches that the garment appeared to conceal, an item which he duly presented before John in efforts to confirm the chain of events to which his story appertained.

“A rosary” said John investigating the child’s offering, “you were given this before your ship was wrecked ?”.

‘Cocolo’ nodded quietly, before saying, “it belonged to my mother”.

John deftly allowed the beads to slip through his fingers, involuntarily miming the prayers to which the article ascribed, “Hail Mary Mother Of Grace, Hail Mary Mother Of Grace, Our Father Who Art In Heaven”, he paused handing the item back to the boy, “Did your mother teach you how to use this?”

“Yes”, replied ‘Cocolo’ succinctly, “but I seldom see the point”, he hesitated momentarily before adding, “it is the only thing that I have from the time before I came here”.

“A pilgrim father” muttered John abstractly, before adding “is this what inspired you to engrave the walls of the cave with symbols,” he directed ‘Cocolo’s’ attention towards the index of concentric shapes inscribed into the rock to his aft.

“No” answered ‘Cocolo’ with a gesture of abashment as though chiding John’s ignorance, “No, I did not do that”, he glanced cautiously over to the child who had earlier accompanied him into the chamber, before adding, “he did”.

“I am confused”, said John turning to face the boy towards whom ‘Cocolo’ had directed his attention, “you say that you do not have a name, but surely there must be some way of distinguishing you from your friends. You have seen fit to bless ‘Cocolo’ with a title, it stands to reason that you yourself must also have one”.

The child seemed perturbed by John’s inquiry, before announcing, “‘Cocolo’, it means the limpet of the rock, ‘Cocolo’ is always the limpet of the rock, so he is always ‘Cocolo’, but I am not always the same”, he paused directing his attention towards the boy that John had earlier encountered on the beach, “‘we’ are not always the same, so we do not always have the same name”.

John paused for a few moments attempting to comprehend the implication of the child’s words, before saying,“You mean that you have different names at different times ?”.

The boy laughed, “when I am happy I am called ‘Jubal’, I am happy now so you can call me ‘Jubal’.

Jubal’, intoned John pensively, before adding, “and when you are sad ?”

Morir” replied the child succinctly.

“How many names do you have this way ?” continued John intrigued.

“Many”, answered the boy simplistically.

John sat for some moments dwelling upon the issue. There were to his knowledge, a number of West African religious systems which, through association with a faith in spiritual possession claimed that, upon an incidental basis, people may be invested with the attributes of a pantheon of spirit guardians known as “Orishi”, entities who, in a practical sense, were observed to assist them in the performance of a number of both agricultural and domestic tasks.

Could it not be possible, taking into account that such beliefs were widespread upon both sides of the Atlantic that these children, raised in near complete isolation away from the interests of mankind were, for some reason known only to themselves, compelled to adopt a similar framework of beliefs ?

John paused, uncertain how he should pursue the issue, before saying,“This ‘Drupe’ language that you speak, does it also apply different names to different states of mind ?”

Jubal’ hesitated uncertainly before answering, “yes” he said, casting a detached glance over the mural to which John was then directing his attention, “the symbols are sometimes names”.

“You mean they represent incarnations of the soul ?” continued John, kneeling down to examine the index more closely.

‘Jubal’ looked perplexed but said nothing.

“States of mind”, said John attempting to clarify himself, “temperaments”, he smiled and frowned to indicate the contrast between two opposed moods and pointed at the index.

‘Jubal’ laughed and performed a little dance shimmying back and forth in an animated manner as though amused by John’s attempt to understand the engravings but said nothing.

“What is your friend presently called ?” said John directing his attention towards the boy that had first admitted him into the tunnel network.

“Loris”, said Jubal smiling, “he is tired”.

Through conjunction with such proceedings it seemed to make increasing sense to John that the children could somehow have adopted one of the many belief frameworks which then served to distinguish both the Ivory Coast and the West Indies although both boys adamantly objected to the assertion that they had ever engaged in contact with anyone beyond the immediate vicinity of the dump.

“You say that your friend is tired”, intoned John glancing up from the engraved index on the wall, “Does this place have any dormitories ?” he placed his head gently against his hands and closed his eyes to indicate sleep.

‘Jubal’ hesitated momentarily as though uncertain as to what John was attempting to infer before saying, “follow me”.

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The chambers of the Nautilus’ shell are a wondrous thing, wound about their axis like an immaculate spring, they may be imagined, as they trap breath by degrees, holding it decanted in states of suspense, to represent an extension of their owner’s mind, an internal world viewed objectively in an absence of light, a thought process cast in mute surveillance over matters that would otherwise lie beyond it’s sphere, a looking glass through which the magnitude of external event may seem both smaller and larger than it would otherwise appear.

Some say that the Nautilus, having drifted an age beyond the harsh intrusion of light into it’s realm, is, in being accidental to nature quite circumstantially an exposure of it’s scheme, an incarnate manifestation of any principle which may be ascribed to such things, a spontaneous product of it’s material host, that, in being conceptually bereft of either subtlety or craft, simply exists as ballast or buoy to pollinate the ocean’s depths.

___________________________________________________________

These are the thoughts which occupied John’s mind as ‘Jubal’ led ‘Cocolo’, ‘Loris’ and himself into the labyrinth of tunnels that extended downwards into the limestone bed that was then observed to lie beneath the dump. “What if there was no rational order to nature ? What if things simply arose from the conspiracy of elements that proved capable of granting them life ?

The party made slow headway down into the labyrinth of limestone catacombs that lay beneath the dump, a descent that, in accessing terrain which presumably lay below sea level, was forged through a network of shallow subterranean fjords and rivers which were observed to have been partially flooded by the intrusion of water.

As a result of the procession’s confined circumstance, John was surprised to discover that he had begun to sweat profusely as he attempted to navigate the cave network’s sprawl, the tunnel system seemed to inexplicably radiate a manner of warmth peculiar to itself, neatly defying the chill which had earlier served to distinguish the site’s coastal aspect.

John knelt down cupping his hand to extract an amount of water from the floor of the tunnel in which he was standing, noting as he did so that it was fresh.“This water”, he said, attempting to attract ‘Jubal’s’ attention at the head of the procession, “it’s drinkable”.

The child turned toward John in efforts to confront the issue which the man was attending, “it comes from the ground”, he said simplistically.

“You mean that these tunnels are built over an underground spring”, said John casting ‘Jubal’ an inquiring glance.

The child was confused, “yes” he said after some moments of introspection, “it’s good, you can drink it”, he made a sucking sound with his mouth to indicate liquid refreshment before returning to the detail of the party’s progress through the cave.

John paused, wantonly wiping the fluid across his brow, the notion that the labyrinth had, at some point during it’s creation, been fashioned from a subterranean fissure served to inspire him.

He could remember before arriving upon the island that ‘Harvest’ had informed him the tip was of purely artificial contrivance, a land mass consolidated from nothing more than sewage, the thought that there had once been something else on the site, an underlying rock deposit replete with it’s own source of fresh water represented an unsettling prospect. “What could have occurred in the location to merit it’s selection as a dump ? Had the land been cleared, and if so where were it’s people ?” he had been employed to survey the area. “Why had he not been informed of such things ?”

At length ‘Jubal’ entered a cavern which in being some distance below the ground was too dark for John to accurately appraise.

“It is safe here”, he said after some moments of orientation, “‘Loris’ can rest”, he led John and the two other boys to a mat which seemed to have been fashioned from old clothing, a selection of garments not dissimilar to those which the children had themselves employed as garb, “sleep here”, he said.

John lowered himself onto the mat of discarded cloth, discovering as he did so that it was surprisingly dry, it had seemed that the passage towards the chamber had ascended upwards at an even camber after having plumbed the tunnel network’s depths, creating a pocket of air at it’s furthest extreme which successfully eluded the encroachment of moisture.

Despite the curious nature of his predicament John was re-assured by the proximity of the cavern’s walls about the cache of clothing that had been deposited within it’s confines.

The chamber was surprisingly well ventilated, sweetening the rank scent of sewage which had earlier served to typify the party’s descent and had, through association with it’s near complete isolation far beneath the ground, inexplicably appeared in John’s mind to represent a place out of time, a haven detached from the collision of the tides which incessantly smote it’s bounds.

“You seem to have a pretty good set up here,” said John reclining back upon the mattress of old clothing on the floor of the cavern. He could not help but marvel at the children’s ingenuity as he lay back upon the mat, the manner in which they appeared to pick things from the state of utter dejection that then distinguished their plight, consolidating their own notion order from the collapse of his own.

‘Jubal’ reached over to an alcove located at the chamber’s far end and extracted a bottle which appeared to have been salvaged from the dump, a vessel which he duly handed to John

“It’s good, drink”, said the child drawing an imaginary glass to his mouth with his hand.

John opened the bottle and smelt it’s aperture, discovering, after performing a few preliminary tests in efforts to discern it’s contents, that it was brandy, “you have alcohol down here”, he said casting ‘Jubal’ a furtive glance.

“It’s good” repeated the boy, “drink”.

John carefully imbibed a draft of the liquor, taking an opportunity to savor it’s texture on his palate, indeed it was good, perhaps the finest vintage that he had ever tasted, an instance in which he was drawn to notice that the drink had assumed a slightly bitter texture as though inadvertently flavored with cherries, it must have been maturing somewhere out at sea beyond the cares of mankind for years. “Where did you get this from ?” he inquired directing his attention to the boy.

“From the rubbish” said ‘Jubal’, circumspectly pointing out towards the dump.

John took another draft before handing the bottle back to ‘Jubal’ who duly passed it to the other children for refreshment, it was quite incredible what people threw away he thought as the spirit’s potency gradually claimed domain over his senses.

“Sleep now” said ‘Jubal’.

John placed his head upon the cache of moldering cloth which lay upon the floor of the cave and, surprised by the fatigue that he then felt following the day’s exertions, promptly fell into a deep dreamless sleep.

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CHAPTER 5

THE ISLAND OF THE LOST…

Among the many human settlements which presently range across the surface of the earth, coastal towns are witnessed to preserve the curious ability to reflect the character of the weather which incidentally strafes their bounds. During the Summer when the weather is fair, their streets and parades may be observed to shine with the optimism of freshly wrought steel, when rain falls and visibility is low, the atmosphere of oppression which they prove capable of mustering may appear to steam and fume through their midst like an extension of the sea.

It is largely due to this proclivity, an ability to embody the temperament of the climatic conditions beneath which they languish, that such towns are witnessed to decorate themselves in a festive manner, erecting fair ground rides and chalets upon their beaches, building promontories into the sea, painting their houses with a multitude of garish hues and pinioning their streets with amusement arcades, public houses and restaurants in efforts to both accentuate the providence of climatic clemency and salvage something of it’s warmth from seasonal adversity.

‘Hamilton’ was, despite it’s isolation, perceived to exemplify every maxim conventionally adopted by most coastal towns. It seemed that the city’s reliance upon a steady influx of oceanic trade had seen fit, at some point throughout the port’s history, to foster the prerequisite apparel of other more accessible locations, an equation which, in consolidating province, was circumstantially observed to insure the city’s prosperity.

It was in the port’s nature to welcome ships into it’s enclave, the affability of it’s demeanor promising to afford safe harbor beneath both adverse and propitious climatic conditions, that was ‘Hamilton’s’ purpose and it’s objective, it’s naval heritage was present in every part of it’s fabric.

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It was nine o’clock and the dusk was beginning to draw in over the villas and pavilions which then served to distinguish suburban ‘Hamilton’.

“Bob Harvest” had, upon being granted opportunity to watch the slow encroachment of twilight across the sky in the few hours that he had after work to appreciate such things, liked to humor himself with the thought that it rolled in from the sea.

It was said, in this instance, that there were climatic phenomena at work in the heavens around ‘Hamilton’ which rendered such a notion possible, but, in being of a rational persuasion, ‘Harvest’ was instead inclined to retain a detached distance from such conjecture, there was poetry in the dusk and this is the attitude which he preferred to espouse with regards to it’s daily claim.

He would sit out on his porch in the evening watching the night gradually claim vintage from the day, watching it bleed through the last hours of sunlight like a swab gradually saturated with a sober shade of naval dye, he had liked, in this instance, to think that the night sobered the day, it’s regularity had made him feel secure, small but secure, it served to provide him with the solace that he enjoyed in which to think.

It had been three days since he had assigned his chief operative, ‘John O’Grady’, to perform a survey on the Gyre patch to the North of Bermuda, the Sargasso had a talent for stranding sewage in open water, forming islands in the drift and the sea had, during the years in which it had found occasion to accumulate garbage, gradually become a hazard to shipping.

Having owed his descent to men of naval stock, ‘Harvest’, had ultimately been commissioned to assist in the problem’s control, there was no one else among his peer group suitably qualified to manage such a task, a pretext beneath which he had been justifiably proud to be awarded a house on the island and an almost limitless reserve of collateral to assist him in the detail of his task.

‘Harvest’ circumspectly looked down at his watch, he was a stout man who had lost the last of his hair years beforehand whilst dating his childhood fiancee at college, he had liked to think upon being called to observe his reflection in the mirror, that he had bright blue eyes, the idea, although self admittedly something of a conceit, served to take his mind off the toll of the years. “Maybe he ‘did’ have bright blue eyes”, the notion inspired him with a sense of lucidity which helped him to concentrate, he “was” the dapper king when granted opportunity to straddle a crossword.

‘Harvest’ had long since grown accustomed to eschewing faith in small confidences, he had been hospitalized through association with acute depression when young and both the doctors who had treated him and the harem of women with which they were inclined to associate had subsequently played a significant part in his life.

His comparative reliance upon the discrimination of such factions had, in his opinion, served to explain many of the intrigues which found occasion to occupy his time. The doctors would probably still avail their services to him, encouraging him to excuse his misgivings with moral peccadillo long after he was dead. That was, after all, what they were there for, their efforts sometimes seemed to work.

‘Harvest’ paused to reflect upon the issue of “‘O’Grady’s’ absence, the man should have returned with his report the previous evening, and would, judging from past records with regards to such matters, have called in upon having arrived back on Bermuda. In this instance he had not done so and the delay had correspondingly served to represent an issue of concern.

Pulling back a slug of whiskey, a draft taken from a special reserve which, in having mustered head in a crystal decanter upon his mantelpiece for almost a year, he had affectionately liked to consider inextricable from colonial existence ‘Harvest’ briskly unhitched his telephone from it’s Formica saddle and made a call.

“Hello”, he said impatiently, there was a moment’s silence as the recipient of the message spoke, it was a disposal operative who had been assigned to manage the dump that then persisted off the coast of the island , “Any news regarding ‘O’Grady’”, proceeded ‘Harvest’ peremptorily..

The conversation continued for some minutes, ‘Harvest’ growing increasingly irate at the service operative’s inability to furnish him with any useful detail regarding the whereabouts of his friend before, in failing to witness progress, he was ultimately forced to resign himself to the knowledge that ‘O’Grady’ seemed to have disappeared.

Harvest thought for a few minutes upon the issue of his friend’s absence, the Bermuda Triangle had, ever since it’s discovery, appreciated a reputation for stealing aircraft from the sky and naval vessels from the sea, there was some force which lay beyond human comprehension at work in the waters about the country, some form of temporal distortion which, despite compounding protracted research, yet succeeded in eluding qualification. “Why could it’s notoriety not also extend to encompass the disappearance of men ?” The island’s guise could be complete, thought ‘Harvest’ circumspectly ‘Bermuda’ could be a country of the lost, ‘Hamilton’ a city ransomed to itself. .

The thought had served to disturb ‘Harvest’ more than he immediately liked to acknowledge, he could remember, in initially having been commissioned to work upon the island, that he had feared the isolation represented by it’s curious location, the notion that the water’s which surrounded it’s extent could seize industrial hardware from repose concealing it without trace, did little to allay such fears. ‘O Grady’s’ disappearance appeared in this manner to represent the culmination of the many reservations that “Harvest” had subliminally sustained against the place. The land, so long in incubation, was finally claiming it’s own.

Taking a cab down to Hamilton’s police constabulary in efforts to inform the local civil enforcement authorities that O’Grady had gone missing ‘Harvest’ found cause to note the fragility of the island’s capital beset to it’s West by the Atlantic ocean as he passed among the festively painted terraces and plazas which typified it’s center.

He had observed upon his arrival in ‘Hamilton’ that, the older parts of the city bore more than a passing resemblance to an amusement park replete with garishly hued parades of villas and chalets radiating forth in neat file beneath the vast pan of the mid Atlantic sky, a scheme which in capturing and concentrating the finer optimisms of the island’s naval past had been fortified at it’s edges with the amorphous lagoons and tiered flanks of numerous high rise hotels.

The city had character, of this there could be no doubt, it had perhaps through association with it’s size and location, seemed to have served throughout it’s history as a crucible of colonial aspiration, ‘a last chance saloon’ which, in representing an only alternative to the progressive inclinations of passing navies, had been bestowed with more than it’s fair share of novelties.

It was the relative frivolity of the city’s scheme isolated at the center of perhaps one of the most mysterious stretches of open ocean on earth which had initially struck ‘Harvest’ with it’s paradox in the instance of his arrival upon the island, a curious quality which, for some reason that he could not quite elucidate, appeared to disguise the agenda upon which it rested with what could only be described as blithe facility.

‘Harvest’ felt sure there was something lurking beneath the surface of the festive veneer which the township sought to preserve, but as his days among it’s company lengthened into weeks, he found it easy to forget such reservations, superstition was after all nothing more than a figment of fate, time was measured in decades not in hours.

‘Harvest’ entered the constabulary and presented his account of O’Grady’s disappearance, he felt, in the instance of his arrival, that the police officer who was assigned to collect the details of the affair was a man after his own heart, slightly overweight, balding and of a largely parochial persuasion, maybe he had a talent, a gift which served in his distinction, but it was more likely that he consciously scorned such conceits, enforcement on the island was notoriously pragmatic, it’s employees were by nature impassive.

“So you say that O’Grady left Hamilton three days ago”, said the police officer striking off a figure upon a document which lay open upon the table of the office with a disposable pen.

“That is correct”, replied ‘Harvest’ curtly, he always felt slightly uneasy when called to converse with the island’s authorities, he had done no wrong, but the degree of formality that they represented in his mind served to oppress him.

“You would need a fine sense of humor to see the lighter side of this”, said the police officer circumspectly, “lost in the ‘Gyre Patch’ to the North of the island”, he smiled as though he were upon the verge of petting a lamb then took a handkerchief from his pocket and blew his nose, “hay fever”, he announced allowing the word to stick to his palate as he spoke.

“It’s the sea air”, answered ‘Harvest’ uncertainly before adding, “do you think that it would be possible to perform a search of the island ?”.

“A manhunt,” answered the police officer pursing his lips, “you think that O’Grady might still be on the mainland ?”.

“It is possible,” replied ‘Harvest’, “he usually contacts me after having completed his assignments, but he may have been diverted, I would like to be sure”.

“Very well,” said the police officer, “I will put his name up, if anything comes back I will give you a call”.

“Thank you” said ‘Harvest’ reaching into his jacket to extract a tube of mentholated sweets from his pocket, “here take one of these”, he said proffering forth the item, “…for the hay fever”.

“Much obliged,” said the police officer.

‘Hamilton’ was a pretty city, of this there could be no doubt, the garish hand painted sheen of it’s domestic quarter reminded ‘Harvest’ for some reason of an Augustinian priory in ‘Ramsgate’ that he had once found occasion to visit during his youth. Much of the old town was still on the coast, and the effect appreciated by the love invested in it’s creation so close to the open ocean was quite enchanting.

It persistently troubled him to think that the city was perhaps one of the most isolated township’s in the world, it had appeared to be fighting a war against the inconceivable conspiracy of elements that had gone into it’s being, prostituting itself before the insistence of the Atlantic sun in it’s efforts to deter the attentions of the phantoms that yet persisted beneath the waters off it’s coast, perhaps it could complete it’s ruse, finalize the detail of it’s proposition, but what then ? Would the strange land instead float an age in denial of it’s fate.

As ‘Bob Harvest’ left the constabulary he remembered that some years before his assignment to Hamilton, he had had been called upon to work for an individual named ‘Nelson Portaeus’, an affluent city broker who, upon having found occasion to invest in the shipping industry through association with insurance of ocean going liners, had circumstantially managed to secure an enviable stake in Bermuda’s economy, an agreement which, at the time of it’s consolidation, was perceived to have acceded the proportions of a monopoly over most of the freight that then entered and left the island.

Portaeus” had been an easy man to converse with, his speech drawn through a dead colonial drawl which, in successfully disguising it’s steel beneath what would ostensibly be considered a carefree manner, was reputed to be capable of wringing trade from the earth itself if the need arose, a discursive faculty which,in having earned the tycoon respect among his peers, had always struck ‘Harvest’ as implacable, betokening reference to nonnegotiable terms and the practice of indenture which then served among business circles to distinguish the harder end of trade.

Perhaps it was due to the strength of ‘Porteaus’ character that the present city had come into being, it’s existence isolated from conventional recourse in the mid Atlantic had seemed absurd upon any other term. It had appeared to stand apart from the sea, resisting it’s plight upon the strength of it’s convictions alone.

The township had, in this sense occasionally seemed like a waterlogged ant’s nest within ‘Harvest’s’ mind, a collective driven forth in pursuit of an unassailable ideal, bound together from the sum of it’s parts in an act of universal defiance for no other reason than that it was fated to do so, he was, in this sense, obliged to feel thankful that the city’s population was inclined to adopt a prosaic attitude towards the detail of it’s urban scheme, the attitude appeared to pay homage to a humanistic ideal which, despite apparent lassitude, he found easy to appreciate.

It was ‘Portaeus’ that had secured ‘Harvest’s’ position on Bermuda, furnishing him with all the items necessary to insure that he could proceed with his work once entrenched, and ‘Portaeus’ to whom he would ultimately be forced to refer with regards to the issue of ‘O’Grady’s’ absence, a resort which, in immediately representing an admission of failure within his mind and thus inferring his incompetence with regards to his commitments, he was, unless granted no other alternative, disinclined to pursue.

Racking his mind as to how he should approach the issue as it then appeared to stand, ‘Harvest’ eventually decided that he would hire a second operative to perform the same task to which he had earlier assigned ‘O’Grady’ in the hope that covering the lost man’s tracks would succeed in presenting some evidence as to his present whereabouts.

He quickly scanned through his address book in pursuit of a suitable candidate to take on the job, but none were,upon immediate appraisal, appropriately qualified to enter the Gyre Patch without some form of technical backup, an instance in which, being unacquainted with the peculiarities that then served to distinguish the area placed beneath investigation, their chances of success would,in his opinion, be low.

He sat beneath the Portico of his villa speculating upon how to tackle the problem as the sun gradually set over the horizon, there was,to his mind at the time only one way of resolving the issue, he would be forced to visit the ‘Gyre Patch’ himself and re-enact O’Grady’s movements once there, it would, at the very least, serve as a gesture of intent in the instance of failure, ‘Portaeus’ liked to think that his people tried.

Steeling himself for a long haul the following day, ‘Harvest’ duly turned in for the night, the dusk had, as a result of the engagement’s pressing nature, lost much of it’s luster to him that evening, there were issues to resolve.

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CHAPTER 6

GYROSCOPE…

The wind kicked up off the silvered gravel of the heliport sending fragments of mineralogical detritus spinning through a kaleidoscope of crazed arabesques in the warm coastal air, a morass of slow thermal currents which, through drab collusion with the still limbo that was the Sargasso, tended to bleed oppressively through every pore of suburban ‘Hamilton’ unless vigorously disturbed.

Bob Harvest’, had a passion for aircraft, it was how he had first made it across the sea to Bermuda upon his initial assignment to the island and how, given an almost unlimited amount of collateral through which to perform his work once there, he was inclined to conduct his affairs when faced with the proposition of travelling any distance from his home.

He loved the way that the comparative implacability of mechanical apparatus, objects which would ordinarily be considered inert, could prove capable of defying their circumstance through no more than the strategic employ of thrust. The miracle of powered flight had never ceased to amaze him, it had seemed to mock sense, making magic of the many contradictions which it immediately appeared to represent.

He could remember, as he watched the helicopter land, that he had wished to work for an aerodynamics firm during his college years, his grandfather had been a flyer during the second world war, and would reverentially refer to the prestigious nature of such pursuits when called to dwell upon the issue.

He could, in this instance, remember conversing with the old man upon the topic during the few occasions that he had found to fraternize with him before he died, it had brought the child out in him he had said, men could do anything once air borne, ‘anything’”,

‘Harvest’ had often wondered what his grandfather had meant with regards to such matters, but took it to be indicative of the enthusiasm which the old man was inclined to espouse towards any matters of an avian persuasion. Powered flight was the last liberty of mankind, the quantification of the infinite, an ability to defy gravity itself

He stood watching the helicopter’s rotors slowly come to rest, the manic scream of it’s turbine gradually subsiding to an inaudible whine as the engine cut out. ‘Harvest’ stepped forth,shielding his face with his hand in an approximation of greeting as the machine’s propeller gradually ran dormant. The brute power of it’s presence there upon the tarmac after the sheer exhilaration signified by it’s decent, never failed to impress him.

‘Harvest’ liked to think that such vehicles’ coachwork when fallow resembled atoms upon the eve of exploitation in a nuclear laboratory, a superb diagnostic which, despite specification, would never truly account for the sheer force invested in it’s animation.

He checked through his belongings before boarding the dormant helicopter, spare clothing, dietary provisions, map, homing device, gun, ammunition. He had decided, in the instance of the excursion, to arm himself in case he ran into difficulty, it was unlikely that he would need to use such an article given the nature of the engagement which he was undertaking, but the thought of having a weapon at his disposal nonetheless served to comfort him.

The helicopter duly took off, the machine’s rotor planing keen horizon from bowed inertia as it’s engine warmed up. The sound generated by the gyration of the craft’s array was in fact deafening as it’s carriage slowly ascended into the sky.

‘Harvest’ had often thought that the sheer energy invested in such a process could accede a physical principle unique unto itself, a novel effect which may feasibly be applied to the food or construction industries, a mechanical whisk for thickening milk or clarifying beer, the motion of the turbine seemed at least briefly, to change the natural scheme of all that it touched .

As the machine cleaved a precarious adjacent through the sky gently gaining both height and momentum, ‘Harvest’ found occasion to look down through the window that was neatly bolted into the floor of it’s cabin, a portal through which he could plainly observe the gaily festooned decor of ‘Hamilton’ gradually recede beneath his feet, it’s jaunty buildings and easy inclination towards the coast shining like a residue of broken glass washed up on a beach .

In the moment that ‘Harvest’ had been granted to appreciate the sight, he felt in the pit of his stomach that he was not dissimilar to a God, an ineffable arbiter cast in mute surveillance over the kingdoms of the earth, he always felt this way when aboard aircraft , “men could do anything when airborne, anything”.

After some minutes in the sky, the vista beneath ‘Harvest’s’ feet succeeded to a uniform shade of blue, the craft was now over the open ocean, the mirrored expanse of the Sargasso itself. The sense of liberty that he had earlier entertained succumbed to a new and unwritten definition of the term, a sentiment which he had often found occasion to liken to philosophy as the rules which served to define the parameters of existence unerringly fell away.

Wasn’t it ‘Plato’ who had observed that philosophy was the science of removing all preconceived obstacles to perceptive clarity and examining what was left ? ‘Harvest’ always liked to observe that there would not be much left in such an instance and that things were better that way.

The air flight over the open ocean was, to ‘Harvest’s’ dismay, relatively short, the ‘Gyre Patch’ was only about twenty miles off the coast of ‘St. George’s’ at Bermuda’s Northernmost extreme, and, within a matter of minutes the helicopter landed, setting down on a reinforced concrete platform erected over the larger mass of the dump.

Swiftly disembarking from the craft, ‘Harvest’ made determined headway towards the squat protrusion of the communications block that had been erected at the far end of the platform, a building which, in containing a number of residential quarters, garages and a storeroom of facilities for managing the festering pile of garbage which then swilled about it’s base, was surely the location within which ‘O’Grady’ had conducted his preliminary survey of the tip.

“Hello”, said ‘Harvest’ in efforts to draw attention to himself upon entering the building.

A short heavily built man glanced up from a switchboard equipped with a bank of video monitors which appeared to have been arranged in efforts to observe the dump’s extremities. He smiled cordially extending a hand for ‘Harvest’ to shake, “The names’s Roy Mac Rory, but my friend’s call me ‘Mac’” he said amicably.

“Pleased to make your acquaintance”, said ‘Harvest’. The man avowed the casual manner of one who, upon having been enjoined to engage in a daily gauntlet of managerial routines for years, had long since resigned himself to the monotony which customarily served to distinguish such things.

“So what brings you to these parts ?” said ‘Mac’ .

“I have lost a man out here”, said Harvest, “John O’Grady, have you heard of him”.

“‘John O’Grady’ the name rings a bell”, replied ‘Mac’, reaching over to inspect a sheaf of documents which lay upon a table to his right. “Yes I think that I may have the individual you are looking for”, he ran his finger down the pamphlet in his hand before triumphantly announcing , “here he is”.

“So he arrived upon the island ?” said ‘Harvest’ relieved that he had at least managed to follow the mystery of his friend’s absence through to his presence upon the ‘Gyre Patch’.

“It seems so”, replied Mac scratching his head as though perplexed, before adding,“I think that I remember him, a soft spoken man, tidy. We don’t get many people out here. Looking at the entry in the book, he should presently be holed up in the residential block.”

“Could you direct me to his quarters ?” said ‘Harvest casting ‘Mac’ an officious glance.

“The residential block is on the second floor, ‘O’Grady’ was staying in Room Four”, answered ‘Mac’ casually, “it the first on the right at the top of the stairs, you should have no difficulty in finding it.”

‘Harvest’, duly collected himself and ascended to the building’s second floor, discovering that he did not need access keys to enter ‘O’Grady’s’ room owing to the observation that the block was open plan.

O’Grady’s quarters were relatively small, a neat chamber which, although sparse, was equipped in accordance with the many conventions to which such things were customarily beholden, possessing a full compliment of domestic amenities, a bed, a kitchen, a toilet, a wardrobe, even a color television attached to an armature against the chamber’s far wall.

“Fine view of the sea,” thought ‘Harvest’ cursorily glancing out of the window, to observe that the larger part of the tip lay directly beneath his field of vision.

The gulls wove and heckled with inveterate zeal directly beyond the portal as though attempting to attract attention to the block’s peculiar circumstance in the middle of the ocean.

The room appeared to be absent.

‘O’Grady’ had, to ‘Harvest’s’ knowledge, been a heavy smoker, in instance in which he was inclined to observe that the man had, when granted opportunity to indulge his passion, also taken to smoking Marijuana and there were a number of joint butts discarded in an ashtray upon the premises, but the dull smell of hash smoke that customarily accompanied such things was not apparent, an observation which suggested to ‘Harvest’ that his friend had vacated the premises some hours earlier.

Cursorily scanning the chamber’s interior, ‘Harvest’ noticed that there was a chart lying open on the table at it’s center, a map of the ‘Gyre Patch’ which, in having been marked with a felt tipped pen, immediately inferred that ‘O’Grady’ had been performing a preliminary investigation of the tip’s geography before having disappeared.

‘Harvest’ searched through the assortment of bureaus and cabinets that were observed to line the room’s walls in efforts to find any information pertaining to his friend’s strategy in this respect before finally alighting upon a notebook which appeared to contain records relating to the schedule that the man had set himself.

‘O Grady’ had, judging from the information contained within the book, planned to set out across the dump’s Southern flank two days earlier, a perilous excursion owing to the instability of the rubbish in the area placed beneath investigation, it seemed that the man had thought it would be necessary to ‘lock’ the location in question to prevent drift, bind it, so that it would not float out to sea.

“Could the details recorded in the book represent a solution to the riddle of the man’s disappearance ?” thought ‘Harvest’ carefully examining the document in his hand. There may have been an accident, ‘O’Grady’ could have fallen and been unable to return back to the communications block ? ‘Harvest’ cursed ‘Mac’ beneath is breath for not having attended such an issue, the oversight immediately served to appall him.

Having pillaged the room for details pertaining to the missing man’s whereabouts ‘Harvest’returned to the block’s administration department to inform ‘Mac’ that he thought it would be necessary for him to remain upon the outpost for a few days in efforts to resolve the issue.

“Very well”, replied ‘Mac’ casting ‘Harvest’ a resigned look, “there should be spare accommodation up in the residential block”.

“I will stay in O’Grady’s room,” answered Harvest tersely, “it does not look like he will be needing it”.

“Will you be wanting breakfast ?” muttered ‘Mac’.

“What ?” replied Harvest momentarily confused.

“Will you be wanting breakfast ?” repeated ‘Mac’ dully.

“No, don’t worry”, said ‘Harvest’ curtly, “I will be out at dawn”. He duly collected his belongings together and returned to the chamber that his friend had recently vacated.

The following day, as the sun rose inexorably over the horizon, ‘Harvest’ duly set forth across the dump.

He recalled that he was uncertain at the time what he would find throughout the course of his investigation and decided to pack the gun which he had brought with him among the list of provisions which then filled his ruck sack.

He could not be sure in this instance why he had chosen to do so, he did not expect to be confronted by anything that would demand it’s usage, however, the weapon was, irrespective of such considerations, nonetheless conscientiously included in the receptacle’s inventory.

Making brisk passage across the mire of discarded refuse that was then observed to litter the dump, Harvest noted that the sea gulls which had earlier distracted his attention from the communication block’s window had begun their daily pillage of the dump.

He was drawn to observe in this instance, that there seemed to be enough birds picking at the rubbish to render the tip unstable by their collective effort alone, it was quite incredible, ‘Harvest’ thought, how such creatures amassed number when granted opportunity to feast.

Gradually making his way down to the artificial coast represented by the dump’s South facing aspect, ‘Harvest’ was drawn to observe that the view out to sea from where he stood would, beneath any circumstance other than that which he presently faced, potentially have been quite picturesque.

There was, to his mind at the time, no adequate way of describing how the vast reservoir of sewage which then bled forth into the sea beneath his feet, irrevocably defiled every beatitude towards which nature could, within reason, be presumed to ascribe.

After some minutes of circumspect navigation, ‘Harvest’ felt that he had located the site which ‘O’Grady’ had described in his notebook. A tidal inlet which, from what he could deduce, inexplicably appeared to rest upon an older bed of limestone.

‘Harvest’ checked through his details regarding the matter. Noting that no land was previously recorded to have existed on the site. The dump was observed to be purely artificial, a floating island, drawn together from nothing more than oceanic detritus.

It was known to him in this instance that the Sargasso was a relatively shallow body of water that seemed upon a seasonal basis to be capable of changing it’s parameters. an instance in which it’s unpredictability had achieved fame among naval circles for both concealing and exposing hitherto unknown tracts of land before the attentions of marine cartographers.

He thought back upon the many observation made by Atlantic sailors with regards to the matter, men who, in being inclined to testify that there were ghost islands in the sea, were drawn to observe that land seemed to both appear and disappear within it’s waters for no other reason than that the sand beneath them became caught in ‘Gyres’ much like that upon which he presently stood.

He paused momentarily to reflect upon the issue, “Was it not the celebrated American Congressman ‘Ignatius Loyola Donnelly’ who believed, through correspondence with Greek records relating to the issue, that the Sargasso once harbored the remnants of ‘Atlantis’ ?”

It occurred to ‘Harvest’ in this instance, that the the ocean had potentially always preserved an ability to conceal it’s secrets from the attentions of mankind. Perhaps the dump was built upon a tidal bed which had, as yet, remained undetected ?

Gradually descending down to the water’s edge ‘Harvest’ noted that a number of large scale industrial machines had been left fallow in the refuse to his aft, haulage apparatus which had presumably once been used to dredge the area within which the tip was situated.

He paused momentarily to inspect the site more closely. The imposition that the defunct mechanisms caused to the other articles of trash which had similarly been deposited upon the beach immediately appeared to form a hollow shell which incidentally served to shelter the dump’s Southern aspect from the elements.

Despite the state of dilapidation in which it was observed to languish, the sense of grandeur that the structure yet managed to appreciate was genuinely impressive. It immediately seemed to ‘Harvest’ to resemble a cathedral devoted to mankind’s insatiable worship of commercial providence, an edifice spontaneously generated from the garbage that then found occasion to extend endlessly about it’s girth, an abandoned municipality or a house in the tide, it’s bowels cast open to welcome the sea.

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CHAPTER 7

THE LIGHTNING IN THE GROUND…

John woke some hours after having engaged in drunken communion with the three children, the brandy had been surprisingly potent. It had crossed his mind, in the instance of conviviality, that the beverage may have lain undisturbed for years, perhaps even decades. Napoleonic Cognac was a rare commodity back on the mainland, a limited reserve that, in being depleted to the point of non existence by consumption, was generally diluted with younger vintages to preserve it’s age.

He had often found cause to wonder upon such things when granted the liberty of choice at the multitude of bars and restaurants which then festooned the island of Bermuda, “the blood ran thin”, he thought, “and in doing so, thinner”. There was, although negligible, usually a quantity of two hundred year old liquor in good Cognac, it was how the drink preserved it’s heritage.

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As John rose, his attention was distracted by ‘Cocolo’ who appeared to be engaged in heated dispute with ‘Jubal’ upon some matter which seemed to relate to him, he groggily stood erect and walked towards the pair in efforts to inquire as to the nature of their discussion.

The language that the two children were using to wage their argument was, although passed fluently back and forth between them, largely incomprehensible, it seemed that they preferred to communicate in ‘Drupe’ when he was not present among their company.

“Hello” said John greeting the two boys, “what appears to be the problem ?”

‘Cocolo’ turned to address John’s question bearing a flustered expression upon his face, “‘Jubal’ said that I should not have brought you here, he said that you will bring others, people who will take us from our home”.

John turned to face ‘Jubal’, “I apologize to you if I am unwelcome. Is there anything that I can do to allay your concerns ?”

He was compelled to confess that he felt mildly underhand upon pronouncing such an assurance, the boy was in fact, perfectly correct, upon returning back to the mainland John would indeed be honor bound inform the authorities of the gang’s presence on the dump and that would, within reason, spell an end to it’s nomadic existence upon the site.

“You don’t understand”, said Jubal hotly,”if strange men come to this place and try to take us from it, they will summon ‘Saul’ to bring us back”, he paled perceptibly as though suddenly smitten with fear.

Saul”, repeated John momentarily confused by the child’s convictions.

Saul” said ‘Jubal’ fiercely, a proclamation which caused the other two boys to cower back into the recesses of the chamber within which the party was standing.

“Who is this ‘Saul’ character ?” Continued John perturbed by ‘Cocolo’ and ‘Loris’’ reaction to their friend’s tirade.

It was ‘Cocolo’ that decided to break the silence, “‘Saul’ is the lightning in the ground”, he said animatedly, “he can perform magic, bring food, build houses, he can shine light into the darkness, he is strong”, ‘Cocolo’ quavered as he spoke. “If ‘Saul’ comes here then…” he drew an imaginary incision across his throat and closed his eyes, “…then we will all die”.

John was confused, “I thought that there were only three of you here ?”

“There are”, said ‘Cocolo’.

“So how can there also be a ‘Saul’ among your company ?” Cried John perplexed.

“When ‘Jubal’ is happy he is ‘Jubal’”, replied ‘Cocolo’ by way of explanation, “but when he is ‘Saul’…” the child paused as though striving to define some horror that he could not bring himself to dwell upon. “When he is ‘Saul’, he is the lightning in the ground !”

John strove to interpret what the boy was attempting to infer, an instance in which he was drawn to recall his earlier observation regarding the peculiar belief framework that the gang appeared to have adopted.

“Could it be possible that, in being isolated from all contact with humanity, the children had decided to pursue their destiny far beyond the economies of common wisdom”, he paused, “ could they, for example, have found occasion to embrace the concept of spiritual possession within their ideology ?”

“You say that Jubal is also ‘Saul’”, said John directing his attention towards ‘Cocolo’, “how can this be so ?, Does he believe himself capable of possessing more than one personality ?”

‘Cocolo’ glanced up at John with a cautious look in his eye. “When Jubal is ‘Saul’ we hide”, he announced adamantly, “it is not safe to be with him when he is the lightning in the ground”.

John was immediately amused but also strangely unnerved by the conviction which the boy appeared to espouse,“You seem to take the matter very seriously,” he said, “does he get angry and start to break things ?”

“No”, said ‘Cocolo’ simplistically, “No, he does not break things”, he paused as though uncertain how to express himself. “He ‘changes’ them”.

John immediately found what the boy was inferring difficult to concede. To his knowledge the ‘Orishis’ or spirit guides of the West African religious tradition were typically of an agricultural persuasion, assisting farmers in the cultivation of the earth and maintenance of livestock, their function in this respect, serving to bless men with a sense of purpose, a motive to persevere in what would otherwise be considered largely unnatural behavior.

It was true, in this instance, that there were also devils or ‘Bokor’ which persisted beneath the aegis of such faiths, specters who, in betraying a mischievous disposition, were inclined to bring misfortune upon those that attracted their notice, but the notion that a group of young children trapped on a sewage patch in the middle of the Sargasso would ascribe to such a distinction seemed improbable to John. A faith in spiritual intervention among human affairs was generally creditable to the innate need for guidance in matters that it’s adherents were compelled to face upon a daily basis, beyond this, he felt that the idea was largely groundless. Such things were, after all, no more than beliefs.

John was still confused despite the certitude which the boy appeared to espouse with regards to such matters, an instance in which he was incidentally drawn to observe that he was intruding upon the concerns of what would, to all intents and purposes, appear to be a fabric of long sustained convictions.

It stood to reason that, when challenged, such things would suffer to their own procrastination. It was, after all, why they became secrets, religious fanaticism was, in being preternaturally inclined to hide it’s quota of novelty from critical attention, something that it was frequently unwise to contest.

John conclusively remained undecided as to whether or not he should continue with his inquiry, the issues that had initially aroused the boy’s concern had seemed, at the time, to demand an amount of tact.

“How is Jubal also ‘Saul’ ?” Said John, a question which for some reason made him feel particularly stupid.

‘Cocolo’ extracted a fluorescent toy from the floor of the cave and rubbed it vigorously to the effect of inspiring it with a pale luminescence, before dutifully handing the article to John. “‘Saul’ is not Jubal” he said with a gesture of conviction, “ he is the lightning in the ground”.

John carefully examined the object which the child had given him, a plastic ghost of the variety that one may find hidden inside a chocolate egg through association with seasonal festivity, observing that it had been cast from luminous plastic, a novel feature which certain toy companies were occasionally witnessed to employ in efforts to accentuate the peculiarity of their ware.

The article was clearly a keepsake, a piece of flotsam salvaged from one of the many discarded caches of detritus that were then observed to litter the dump. It was, when placed against the sheer variety of rejected ornamentation that the dump presumably harbored, in fact fairly unexceptional, a tear drop in a sea of inadmissible sorrows, but, for some reason, it appeared to have merited special distinction within the gang’s ethos.

“Why ?”, Said John casting ‘Cocolo’ a confused look.

‘Cocolo’ repeated the gesture which he had earlier enacted upon John’s first entrance into the cave system, flexing his fingers in an agitated manner before slapping his limbs violently against the wall of the chamber within which the party stood, “it is the lightning in the ground”, he said animatedly. He paused puckering his lips and making an effervescent motion with his hands. “It is the ‘end’”.

“How can it be the end ?”, John mused introspectively, “it is only the beginning”. He did not know why he chose to say this, it occurred to him that, by way of contradiction, the analogy made perfect sense.

He momentarily felt ashamed at the concession towards banality which his comment seemed to imply and sought to clarify himself, in efforts to appease any misgiving that it may have aroused.

“You are young,” he said after some moments of consideration, “your life has just begun, it is not right that you should be inclined to dwell upon the issue of how things may ultimately come to pass, such matters are, to all intents and purposes, simply inconceivable,” he incidentally found cause to reflect back upon a paradigm that he had learned during his youth pertaining to the inconceivability of concepts that can only ever be proven too late. “Things will never come to an end,” he said finally. “It is not worth attempting to predict that they will”.

‘Cocolo’ smiled but said nothing.

After the two had finished talking, ‘Jubal’ approached and began to speak , he appeared to have changed imperceptibly throughout the course of the conversation being of a slightly taller and more angular persuasion than had earlier seemed to be the case, “I am now ‘The Dominic” he said imperiously, “the master of this house”.

John was immediately amused by the child’s proclamation, it served to remind him for some reason of the role enactment that he, himself, had been inclined to practice when young in efforts to boost his confidence, however he was nonetheless drawn to confess that there ‘did’ appear to be something markedly different about the boy’s demeanor, a strength of character which the child had not earlier seemed to possess.

“There was once another light”, continued ‘The Dominic’, his voice adopting the meter of a ritual chant as he spoke, “a light which ‘was’ the ground”, he paused momentarily for reflection, “a ‘goldenage of light”.

John noted, with regards to his earlier reflections upon the topic of role enactment, that the child was, in the instance of assuming his new alter-ego, undeniably a far more competent actor than he, himself, had ever been, the boy seemed to swell and broaden as he spoke, re-molding himself in correspondence with the dimensions of the persona that he then claimed to have assumed.

“A golden age of light,” continued ‘The Dominic’ his voice trailing subtly through the darkness like a funereal dirge, “an epoch which, after four thousand summers, came to an end”.

John was, for some obscure reason, compelled to reflect back to his earlier reflections pertaining to the inconceivability of things which can only ever be proven too late.“that is a very long time”, he said after some moments of consideration.

“It had been a good long time,” said ‘The Dominic’ shrugging the new width which then served to distinguish his shoulders, “it had needed to be so”, he paused collecting himself, “everyone agreed”.

At first impression, the child’s announcement struck John, in an almost archetypal sense, to resemble the recital of legend. He could, in this instance, recall having watched a number of television programs throughout his youth that convincingly passed forth their quota of fantasy in such a manner, shows which were usually graced by the rich timbre of an Irish baritone in a theatrical effort to substantiate what would otherwise seem to testify the insanity of their content. “So why did it come to an end ?” He said after some moments of reflection.

“It was impossible”, replied ‘The Dominic’ simplistically. “Impossible things are forbidden” .

John was immediately unsettled by the child’s convictions, it seemed that, in having been separated from the concerns of mankind, the boy had found cause to grant madness license among his thoughts. “How does this relate to our present situation ?” he said finally.

The Dominic’ remained silent for a time before announcing, “‘Saul’ is not forbidden.

Through coincidence with the child’s proclamation, John suddenly felt cold and protectively pulled the nylon sheaves of his cagoule about him, noticing as he did so, that the sweet dispenser which he had earlier collected from the beach had torn it’s pocket. “No”, he was mistaken, it merely protruded like an erect penis from the coat’s midriff threatening to do so. He preened the article flush with the jacket and shivered, “there is little in this day and age that is” he said finally .

After having spent some minutes engaged in such discourse within the confines of the cave, ‘The Dominic’ decided that the party should return to the upper section of the tunnel network where the light level was higher, he had claimed that there was work to be done upon the vast infrastructure which then served to distinguish the labyrinth’s entrance hall and was of the opinion that John would, in being familiar with such things, prove uniquely adept at providing assistance with regards to the matter.

The dimensions of the tunnel system’s entrance hall were, in contrast to it’s’ sleeping quarters, far more impressive than John had initially presumed them to be, the massive cast iron struts of the structure’s vault replete with rust blown girders and saucer sized bolts, ascended vertically like the spires of some crazed cathedral inadvertently devoted to the prospect of commercial catastrophe.

The hallway was, in beggaring the ambitions of most episcopal architectural projects, also paradoxically decorated with the bland familiarity of countless domestic appliances.

Gas stoves, refrigerators, washing machines, porcelain bathtubs and sinks, items which, but for their vertiginous arrangement and general state of disrepair, would not have looked out of place in a showroom devoted to the celebration of the civilian ideal, festooned every niche and portal within the cavern’s interior.

It seemed that the children had chosen to make cupboards from the towers of domestic apparatus which then served to buttress the structure’s walls, many of which were, in being beaten through, perceived to transgress otherwise inaccessible sections of the labyrinth’s anatomy.

The effort invested in the recreation of such detail was, to John’s mind at the time, quite incredible, each junction and intersection being marked with a selection of items crafted from the acreage rubbish that then littered the dump, a vast collage of mobiles, sculptures, effigies and ornaments being lovingly fashioned from pottery, glass, tinfoil, linoleum and rubber to mark each respective part of the building’s interior with the marquetry of craft.

Upon arriving in the hallway “The Dominic” set the group to work upon a bank of dead televisions, commanding it to gut the objects for usage as containers, a request which, in appearing immediately absurd to John, nonetheless seemed, beneath the child’s guidance, to be obligatory.

Indeed after some minutes devoted to the disembowelment of the defunct apparatus, John managed to convince himself that he was becoming genuinely engrossed in the gauntlet of tasks which had been presented before him, an instance in which he was, against his better judgement, even compelled to confess that he was beginning to enjoy himself.

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CHAPTER 8

HEAVY HAULAGE…

‘Bob Harvest’ stood at the aperture of the artificial cave, marveling at the sheer scale of the mechanisms which had been invested in it’s creation. They immediately seemed to represent remnants of a bygone age, a larger class of machine constructed beneath the wisdom of a different specification to that which was presently reserved for even heavy commercial apparatus. A single beam from one of the engines that he then beheld could, in his estimation, have permitted the passage of a car along it’s length, an arrangement which served to prop the roof of the cavern up almost one hundred meters over his head. When ‘Nelson Portaeus’ had assigned his men to construct the dump, he had surely spared no expense in his efforts to insure the proposition’s success.

‘Harvest’ recalled that the outpost had been ‘Portaeus’ brainchild, an answer to any doubt, whether naval or ecological which may serve to challenge his dominion over Bermuda.

He could, in this instance, remember conversing at length with the business-man upon the theme. “Big questions demand big answers”, ‘Portaeus’ had announced with a vaguely manic expression in his eye. “If you have access to the the right technology then you can crush mountains between your hands, you can do anything with the right tools at your disposal, ‘anything’”.

The industrialist’s turn of phrase had, in this instance, served to remind ‘Harvest’ of the sentiments which his grandfather had, many years earlier, been inclined to espouse towards powered flight. There was yet an element of wonder in the active realization of human ingenuity, a sense of achievement which, in binding men together, fueled it’s own advance as it’s stakes rose.

‘Harvest’ recalled that the plutocrat had paused after having spoken to allow his secretary time to annotate the significance of the assertion. The man had so many people on his payroll that his projects frequently appeared to supersede the population of the native communities among which they were staged.

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The gulls that ‘Harvest’ had earlier observed engaging in the harridan pursuits of aeronautic dispute, relentlessly skimming girth across the dump’s flank, had begun to pollinate the gnarled anatomy of it’s volcanic expanse with guano, gorging upon their pillage with a bravado which would have shamed the staunchest proclamations of moral conviction.

It had, in this instance, seemed to him that, like certain species of colonial insect, the birds adhered to the dictum of a collective instinct, feeding at once, fighting at once, courting at once and roosting at once. Like the ‘Cicada’ or the ‘Mayfly’, they seemed to congregate and vanish by unanimous accord, respectively rejecting and embracing the garbage upon which they feasted as though invested with a common motive.

“Maybe they were also blinded at once”, ‘Harvest’ thought reflecting briefly upon their choice of diet. Such things served to inspire a satirical element to his personality which he preferred to consider unconscionable. Perhaps the birds fulfilled an ecological purpose, having neither the time or the inclination to extend their margins far beyond all but the most immediate pursuit ? They seemed, in many ways, cursed to embark upon the pillage of that which was and only ever would play subject to their defilement.

He liked to think there was a tragedy in such things, and although causing him to wretch, the gulls were not exempt beneath this provision. They simply made the best of the hand which they had been dealt. That was their nature, their opportunism did not seem to extend far beyond the simple platitudes of it’s motive spur.

Examining the mouth of the cave before him, ‘Harvest’ felt sure that O’Grady must have disappeared from approximately the same location in which he was then standing. There was not much beach beyond the vast outcrop of the monolithic structure which stood beside him and the camber of the garbage that sloped down toward the coast would have made access to the greater part of the dump perilous if not impossible.

Maybe ‘O’Grady’ had tried to make the climb ? He thought to himself cursorily scanning the sheer pile of refuse that ascended up towards the apex of the tip, but he was of the opinion that the man would not have taken such a risk, not unless he had good reason to do so.

‘Harvest’ stood at the mouth of the cave for some minutes attempting to deduce what could have happened to his friend before deciding, for want of alternative, to investigate the recess formed by it’s imposition to the surrounding rubbish.

Accessing the derelict structure’s maw was, in this instance, fairly easy although ‘Harvest’ speculated that the hazard represented by falling detritus could threaten protracted investigation.

He paused, attempting to estimate the severity of an avalanche caused by dislodging garbage from the cavern’s base, observing that, if even a small item of trash were to fall from it’s roof, then the velocity achieved by it’s decent would result in injury.

As ‘Harvest’ inspected the floor of the cave he noticed what seemed to be a relatively fresh imprint made by a hiking boot, an indentation that, owing to a coagulation of excrement within it’s vicinity, retained a degree of distinction against the slow filtration of water which then bled out towards the sea.

Bending down to investigate the tracks more closely, he was pleased to discover a discarded packet of cigarettes lying within their immediate proximity, ‘Player’s № 6', the brand that ‘O’Grady’ had been smoking during his sojourn at the Communications Block.

It seemed, in this respect, that ‘Harvest’s’ initial presumption had been correct, his friend had surely entered the cavern and stood exactly as he was then standing beneath the derelict industrial apparatus before having disappeared, the question was, “what could have happened, in this instance, to have prevented his return ?”

Intruding further into the cavern in efforts to deduce the course of events which had premeditated ‘O’Grady’s’ absence, ‘Harvest’ noticed that a number of articles discarded among the rubbish appeared to have been positioned in accordance with a premeditated scheme, having been arranged square against the flank of the dump like plates of armor resisting the elemental encroachment of the tidal waters that then lapped at their circumference.

He stood for some minutes attempting to deduce how it was possible that the various items of trash placed before his scrutiny could have been organized in such a manner. Judging from the general inclination of the tip, he felt sure that they could not have been deposited by natural subsidence, they appeared to have been affixed to the side of the cavern’s walls like industrial cladding, side by side in an analogous manner.

Examining the curious predicament of the junk which then served to distract his attention ‘Harvest’ decided to tease it’s strata awry in efforts to discern whether or not there was any rationale behind it’s peculiar scheme, a process through which, in gently easing a discarded bath tub from repose, he succeeded in exposing a concealed aperture, a portal that, in expelling an indescribable stench when disturbed, he estimated to be approximately five feet in height.

‘Harvest’ stepped back from the opening, uncertain how to proceed. The thought had crossed his mind in this instance, that if every article which had been arranged in such a manner within the cavern’s precinct were to conceal such egress then, it’s structure would to all intents and purposes be lethally unsound. “Could it be possible that O’Grady had deigned to enter such a bore hole in efforts to deduce it’s purpose ?”

Glancing back nervously at the discarded cigarette packet which lay upon the beach to his aft, ‘Harvest’ was drawn to conclude that his friend had indeed braved one of the tunnels that presumably laced the dump, an observation which, despite the intense odor of decay that emanated from the site, ultimately compelled him to enter the bore hole which then lay open before him in efforts to resolve the mystery of the man’s disappearance.

Upon crossing the portal’s threshold ‘Harvest’ was pleased to discover that, although dim, the tunnel which lay immediately ahead of him was, in being lit from above, not dark enough to fully impair the investigation of it’s preserves, a circumstance beneath which he was able to observe that it’s length was, much like the structure’s ocean facing aspect, symmetrically buttressed with a variety of articles salvaged from the tip.

The sound of the sea receded as ‘Harvest’ progressed towards what he presumed to be the heart of the dump, an effect which lent the internal acoustics of the tunnel in which he then stood a peculiarly resonant property that carried noise about it’s bounds like a percussive ensemble.

It was perhaps as a result of such an effect that ‘Harvest’ believed he could detect the sound of movement emanating from some catacomb which then lay beyond his field of vision, an observation that, in serving to caution his advance, incidentally caused him to question his sanity. “What if ‘O’Grady’ had not entered the tunnel system ?” “What if he had been washed out to sea ?” “Only a fool would choose to pursue such a matter unless absolutely certain of it’s outcome”.

The bore hole widened as ‘Harvest’ made headway forth along it’s length, becoming a cavern of considerable dimensions before opening out into a larger chamber that would, to his mind, have convincingly defied the economies of all but the most ambitious ecclesiastical projects.

It was here, beneath the eves of the tunnel complex’s vast central hall, that ‘Harvest’ finally located ‘O’Grady’, engaged in what appeared to be the salvage of domestic junk from the tip.

‘Harvest’ was initially uncertain how to proceed, he found it difficult to discern, in the half light that radiated forth from the structure’s roof, whether or not he had truly found his friend, an instance in which he circumstantially feared baiting the attentions of any hitherto unknown factions who, for some reason that then eluded his deductive faculty, had also decided to take up residence on the tip.

‘Hello’ cried’ ‘Harvest’attempting to distract his friend from his labors, ‘O’Grady’ duly turned and, issuing a gesture of recognition, slowly approached him. “Ha !” he laughed expressing his amusement, “You have chosen a fine place for a re-union”.

‘Harvest’ stood momentarily at the mouth of the chamber uncertain how to proceed, it had crossed his mind that ‘O’Grady’ must have spent the night out on the tip, a period during which, judging from the state of dishevelment that presently served to distinguish his attire, he seemed to have wallowed in the excrement which then littered it’s expanse.

“What kept you ?”, said ‘Harvest’ breathing a sigh of relief as ‘O’Grady’ dropped the defunct television to which he had been devoting his attentions and strolled forth through the half light to meet him.

“It’s a long story”, replied John circumspectly.

‘Harvest’ felt as ‘O’Grady’ approached, that his friend had developed a curiously crazed manner during his sojourn upon the dump, there was a jaundiced sheen to his complexion which he immediately found difficult to place. Maybe it was just a trick of the light, but the man appeared to bear himself forth as though animated by a series of initiatives that bore nothing in common with those to which he was habitually inclined.

“You are a sight for sore eyes”, said Harvest guardedly , “what kept you ?”

“I was working”, said O’Grady laughing, “you disturbed me”.

Harvest glanced down at the scattered remnants of domestic apparatus to which ‘O’Grady’ had been devoting his attentions, noting that the items had been largely destroyed by his efforts.

“I hope you realize that I risked my life trying to find you here”, said ‘Harvest’ cursorily scanning the dimensions of the chamber in which he then stood.

“You should not have bothered”, said John issuing a gesture of gratitude, “I would have made my way back in due time”, he paused momentarily for reflection, “nonetheless I must confess that it is a fine thing to see you, it isn’t often that people are granted the opportunity to meet up in a place like this”.

“It’s incredible” said ‘Harvest’ precariously ogling the hall’s vertex, “This chamber alone must be wider than a football pitch”.

“It’s them,” said John, gesturing back into the darkness, “they built this place up from scratch”.

“Who are you talking about?” inquired ‘Harvest’ momentarily unnerved by his friend’s implication, “I thought that you were alone down here ?”

“The children”, replied John simplistically, “they have been hollowing this place out for years”, he paused, “it’s their sanctuary, their home”.

“Children ?” exclaimed ‘Harvest’ incredulously, “you mean there are children down here ?”

“I know that it’s difficult to believe,” answered John shrugging his shoulders, “ but, yes, there are children here”, he hesitated as though uncertain how to proceed, “they appear to have been here for years”.

As the pair spoke the three boys that John had earlier encountered dwelling upon the dump cautiously made forth from the darkness and interrupted the discussion”.

“Who is he ?” ‘Loris’ inquired directing his attention towards ‘Harvest’.

“Don’t worry”, replied John attempting to ease what he felt to be the boy’s mistrust, “he is just an old friend, someone that I have known since I was young”.

Despite John’s assurance the child appeared dismayed by ‘Harvest’s’ presence in the hall. “No”, he muttered quietly beneath his breath, “No, he should not be here, he has not been invited”.

‘Harvest’ stood silently as the two conducted their exchange, before choosing to speak, “I mean you no harm”, he said attempting to retain his composure as the boy approached, “I have just come to collect my friend”.

“No”, said ‘Loris’ repeating his previous sentiment, “it is not right, there should be no others here”, he paused, leaning down to whisper something in ‘Cocolo’s’ ear, a confidence which, in turn, served to move the latter boy towards speech.

“You must leave”, announced ‘Cocolo’ presently, “it is the prophecy, if you stay we will die”.

‘Harvest’ was initially uncertain how he should to react to the request. He did not, in having intruded into the tunnel network, inadvertently wish to arouse it’s occupant’s anxiety. “That is plainly preposterous” he said after some moments of consideration, “you are more likely to die if you remain here among the rubbish”.

“No”, repeated ‘Cocolo’ adamantly, “you will bring ‘Saul’”.

“What do you mean ?” said Harvest unnerved by what he then observed to be a markedly hostile attitude in the three children.

John turned to face ‘Harvest’. “The children are superstitious”, he said in an attempt to qualify ‘Cocolos’’ assertion , “they believe in a spirit that they call ‘the lightning in the ground’, an entity which, when invoked, will rise up and kill them to defend it’s home”.

“That is patently absurd”, replied ‘Harvest’ laconically, “they have surely been stranded out here for too long. When we get them back to the mainland, they will learn to forgo such things in favor of more customary discipline”.

John cast his companion a strained look, as though he were struggling to concede some observation to which he could not adequately lend voice,“you wish to take them back to the mainland ?”.

“Of course,” answered ‘Harvest’ with conviction, “it is simply inhumane to suppose that they should be left out here”, he paused briefly before adding, “and besides they are trespassing upon private property, it is a security risk to allow them to persist as they are within the dump’s bounds”.

John hesitated for some moments as though engaged in some internal negotiation with his conscience, “I know that this may sound unreasonable”, he said finally, “but your decision to remove the children from their home will serve to confirm the predictions which they are inclined to make”.

‘Harvest’ laughed, “you don’t mean to tell me that you agree with them ?”

“No of course not”, replied John self consciously, “I am just saying that their doubts would be justified by your attempt to extradite them”.

As the two spoke ‘The Dominic’ interjected, “Who is this man ?” He said addressing John with a note resent in his voice.

“An old friend”, replied John, “someone who has come to take me back to my people”. He hesitated momentarily as though uncertain how to continue. “My friend thinks that you should also accompany us on our return voyage”.

“What do you mean ?” Exclaimed ‘The Dominic’ suspiciously.

“He wants the three of you to join us when we leave,” said John.

“We will not,” said ‘The Dominic’ resolutely, “this is our home, it has always been our home, we will never leave”.

“I am afraid to announce that you must”, interjected ‘Harvest’ gently pushing John aside, “it is inconceivable that you should be granted the levity to remain here”.

There was a moment’s silence before ‘The Dominic’ decided to issue his response, “NEVER”, he screamed as though every idle fancy that he had ever found occasion to muster from the residue of filth which then littered the dump had instantaneously been betrayed by ‘Harvest’s’ presence in the hall, he paused for some seconds shaking perceptibly before adding. “You knew…. I knew… That we were here FOREVER”.

“But you must”, intoned Harvest firmly, “the issue is not up for debate”.

“NO” screamed ‘The Dominic’ his voice acceding a manner of pathos in the stagnant air of the hallway, a proclamation of defiance which the child swiftly chose to reinforce with a physical assault that served knock ‘Harvest’ violently to the floor.

“Damn you !” cried Harvest frenziedly losing his composure as “The Dominic” stood over him, circling his prostrate body like a leopard appraising quarry.

“NEVER” repeated the enraged child, straddling the fallen man and clawing at his face with his fingernails, an assault which immediately succeeded in drawing blood from ‘Harvest’s’ face.

Suddenly galvanized by what then appeared to be occurring, John rushed forward and tried to pull the boy from ‘Harvest’s supine form, hastily reaching down to place his wrists beneath the child’s armpits in efforts to separate the two combatants.

John did not, by his own admission, know quite how to react to the boy’s outburst in this instance, he was, in fact, loathed to admit that there was a degree of truth in the convictions which the child was inclined to sustain, a pretext beneath which John felt that he ‘had’, if only inadvertently, betrayed the gang with his presence among it’s company, however he was similarly compelled to understand that the boy’s occupation of the tip would have to be brought to an end. It was, as ‘Harvest’ was inclined to observe, inconceivable that they should be left alone upon the site to foster sustenance from it’s resource.

“NEVER”, screamed ‘The Dominic’ turning to punch John in the face, a blow which, in sending John reeling towards the edge of the subterranean hall, served to inspire the remaining two boys towards the impediment of his continued intercession in the brutal affair that was then observed to be occurring in the center of the hall.

“It is not fair”, muttered ‘Cocolo’ as both he and ‘Loris’ swept forward to restrain John’s efforts, a circumstance beneath which, despite his better intentions, John could but play audience to the action that was then witnessed to transpire in the cavern’s midst.

Observably enamored by the thrill of dispute, ‘The Dominic’ seemed to become frenzied, swelling perceptibly beneath the ardor of his exertions as he had done earlier in the tunnel network’s dormitory, a process through which he triumphantly acceded what immediately appeared in John’s mind, to be the stature of a fully developed man, raining blow upon blow down over ‘Harvest’s’ prostrate form as though invested with an appetite for physical violation.

There was, in this instance, a point at which John actually feared that the child would succeed in killing his friend. The dispute appeared to reach an increasing degree of momentum running through a maniacal cycle like a dynamo mustering charge. The child’s stamina had seemed quite incredible to John at the time, ‘Harvest’ was by no means a frail individual but the boy’s assault nonetheless convincingly appeared to subdue him.

It incidentally occurred to John that ‘The Dominic’s” sudden turn of strength was the ‘Saul’ character who had earlier struck fear into the other two boy’s hearts, a figment of the peer structure that the gang had found occasion to contrive during their existence together in the cave system. The berserk tenacity which the youth seemed capable of sustaining would, upon immediate appraisal, have proven enough to discourage all but the most resolute contention.

It occurred to John in this instance that ‘The Dominic’ was of a preternaturally predatory disposition, an attribute which he had, through association with what appeared to be the unpredictable nature of the youth’s identity, earlier failed to notice. The boy was like a gladiator granted occasion to define the parameters of his arena or a vandal that, in resigning himself to life’s imperfections, was inclined to reap advantage from their exploitation. He appeared to relish in the garbage with which he was surrounded, marking it with his spoor as he called it his own.

John had, through association with such an observation, been drawn to note that the child’s fury was, when viewed in the right light among tight company, relatively easy to hail as a thing of biblical proportions. He appeared, in the instance of outrage, to represent a David worthy of any Goliath, an individual capable of wringing victory from the most impossible odds.

The skirmish could have been a sexual adventure but for the mortification of it’s antagonists thought John abstractly glancing across at the pair as they engaged in conflict, it traded blows moving through it’s motions above and beyond any term that it incidentally seemed honor bound to destroy.

After some minutes of intense ferocity ‘The Dominic’ withdrew from the dispute, both his fists and mouth reddened by what appeared to be a significant quantity of human blood, an instance in which John was incidentally drawn to observe that his companion then lay motionless but breathing upon the hallway’s floor.

As this occurred John was released from the constraining influence represented by the combined efforts of both ‘Cocolo’ and ‘Loris’, a moment of liberty in which he proved capable of making it to ‘Harvest’s’ side in efforts to tend the fallen man’s injuries.

‘Harvest’ recovered consciousness, groggily rising to his feet and preening himself down, as John knelt down to inspect the damage caused by ‘The Dominic’s’ tirade, observing, as he did so, that his friend’s face had been badly lacerated by the boy’s fingernails, an instance in which ‘Harvest’ was incidentally drawn to believe, tenderly pawing his abdomen, that he may also have broken a rib.

John was, with regards to the matter, pleased to note that his friend was, at least, alive. “I don’t know what to say,” he breathed turning nervously to check that ‘The Dominic’ was not intent upon protracting the dispute, an instance in which he was relieved to observe that the child seemed to have been diverted by the other two boys. “We should leave”, he muttered quietly,”it is not safe to remain here”.

As John spoke ‘Harvest’ seemed to make a decision, reaching into his ruck sack with a deft gesture and withdrawing the gun that he had earlier found occasion to include within it’s inventory of novelties, a heavy instrument that, in possessing what seemed, at the time, to be an obscene amount of gravitas when brandished, appeared immediately unwieldy in the palm of his hand.

Methodically cocking the implement, ‘Harvest’ took aim and fired a bullet into the half light of the hall, an action which, in serving to inspire the comparative silence of the chamber with the percussive tattoo of a deafening report, instantaneously succeeded in startling the group of children towards flustered withdrawal.

As the sound of the weapon’s emission cleared “The Dominic” collapsed upon the floor in the center of the cave. It seemed, in this instance, that ‘Harvest’s’ aim had miraculously been true, the child appeared to have been forcibly struck in the chest by the impact of a bullet.

Drawing away from his companion John noticed with horror that a pool of blood was spreading silently across the earth beneath ‘The Dominic’s’ fallen form, a reservoir which, in seeping inexorably from the boy’s chest like a slick of oil planed over water, was observed to form a steadily widening circle in the stockpile of garbage that then littered the ground.

John hastily stepped over to examine the child more closely. The velocity of the bullet had, upon immediate appraisal, caused it’s sternum to implode, shattering it’s shoulder blade before leaving untidily through the rear of it’s body.

John placed his hand gently against “The Dominic’s’ mouth, there appeared to be no expulsion of breath emanating from the youth’s lungs, it seemed that ‘Harvest’ had killed the boy immediately.

‘Harvest’ collected himself and dutifully returned the gun to his ruck sack, “‘now’ we must leave” he said peremptorily.

“What about the others ?” said John overawed with what his friend had done.

“Call them back and I will kill them too”, said ‘Harvest’ shaking visibly in the aftermath of his exertions, “no more trespass on the dump”.

John suddenly felt an acute sense of remorse as though he, himself, had pulled the trigger of ‘Harvest’s’ weapon and sent it’s payload hurtling into ‘The Dominic’s’ body. “You should not have killed here”, he said after some moments, his eyes involuntarily filling with tears, “you should not have brought death into the children’s midst”.

“What do you mean ?” Replied ‘Harvest’ incredulously, “you saw what happened, the boy was an animal, when people behave like animals they should expect to be treated like them”.

John paused, “I don’t think that this one expected much,” he said finally before adding, “it is not right to kill children”.

‘Harvest’ was uncertain how to respond, “alright”, he said after some moments of consideration, “call the remaining two boys back and we will escort them to the mainland”.

As ‘Harvest’ spoke ‘Cocolo’ slowly approached the pair, bearing a curious expression upon his face, “what have you done ?”, He said directing his attention towards ‘The Dominic’s’ lifeless body.

“He is dead”, replied ‘Harvest’ fiercely, “DEAD you understand, D-E-A-D !” he chose to repeat himself in efforts to clarify the significance of the proclamation before casually walking across the chamber and kicking the fallen child’s body to confirm the assertion.‘The Dominic’s’ body lurched heavily beneath the impact of his boot but otherwise remained inert, “Now I must insist that you and your friend accompany us back to port,” he said

“You must come with us,” intoned John kneeling down to calm the boy, an instance in which he incidentally found occasion to notice that the youth was unaccompanied, “Where is ‘Loris’ ?” he said glancing up to scan the chamber for the child’s absent companion.

“‘Loris’ is gone’, said ‘Cocolo’ sheepishly, “he ran away”.

“Damn,” muttered John beneath his breath, an instance in which he was inclined to observe that the boy could effectively hide forever in the dump’s tunnel network if he chose to do so.

“Where has he run ?” John pleaded hoping that ‘Cocolo’ may present some clue as to the missing child’s whereabouts.

“He is gone,” said ‘Cocolo’ dully shrugging his shoulders.

‘Harvest” cast the child an apologetic glance, “I am sorry”, he said issuing a gesture of concession, “sorry that your friend is dead. But I am afraid that we are now obliged to leave this place, you must find your friend wherever he is be so that he may accompany us”.

“He is gone,” repeated ‘Cocolo’ blankly, “No one may find those who do not wish to be found”.

‘Harvest’ began to become irritated with the child’s obstinacy. “Your friend cannot just have disappeared, surely you must know where he is ?”

‘Cocolo’ glanced up inquiringly at ‘Harvest’ but said nothing.

“Very well,” muttered ‘Harvest’ after some moments of consideration. “If you cannot find your companion then you shall join us alone”, he turned to John, smiling, “we will settle this back at port, I am not going to spend my time staking out these caves without efficient back up”.

After some minutes of cursory speculation devoted to the matter of ‘Loris’’ disappearance, ‘Harvest’ resignedly decided to lead both John and ‘Cocolo’ back towards the communications block upon the far side of the oceanic dump.

“Things will be better on the mainland”, he said bending down to offer the boy his assurance as he made headway forth across the acreage of garbage upon the Southern flank of the tip, “you will see”.

____________________

All stories have a beginning and an end, it is in their nature to pursue a destiny through to it’s conclusion and, in doing so, to appease the many propositions which such a thing must, in wagering prospect, be presumed to entertain.

The small party’s passage forth against the onslaught of the elements which served to distinguish the ‘Atlantic Gyre Patch’ that evening, it’s determined progress against the wind, against the tide, against the incessant squabble of gulls that courted it’s riven expanse, could, in many ways, have been the end of ‘John O’Grady’, ‘Bob Harvest’ and ‘Cocolo’s’ tale. A group of three redoubtable individuals who, in having respectively suffered their share of misfortune, were presently heading forth to restore some semblance of faith in the safe decorum of civilized practice that yet awaited them on Bermuda.

It could have been an end to the story of the strange boy known respectively as ‘Jubal’and then as the ‘The Dominic’, a youth who, in having fought to establish province among the refuse which then stretched out across the ocean in kaleidoscopes of almost limitless profusion, fell at once before the impact of a ballistic shell, there to mingle with the tides from which he had once sought to distinction, to merge and drift, to melt and bond, a unit of dead flotsam in an unforgiving sea.

It could have been an end to the tale of ‘Loris’, a child who in having accepted strangers into his fold was compelled to seek refuge from the incident of murder that their presence ultimately brought about, a boy who, in having decided to evade capture, could effectively remain hidden from the affairs of mankind forever.

It could have been the end to all of these things, three diverse strands drawn neatly apart, it could have been the end, but it was just the beginning.

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CHAPTER 9

THE NOBLE SAVAGE…

The first capital of Bermuda was, in accordance with historic references pertaining to the topic, thought to have been founded in 1612 on ‘St. Georges’ upon the isthmus of land that may be observed to project precariously forth into the Sargasso sea from the island’s Northern aspect, a location that, in having been discovered quite accidentally when two naval officers named ‘Admiral Sir George Somers’ and ‘Lieutenant General Sir Thomas Gates’ sought to repair a degree of damage which had been wrought to their respective vessels following a tropical storm, was noted to have provided the crews of the wrecked ships with sufficient timber to construct two new boats named ‘The Deliverance’ and ‘The Patience’ within which to continue forth towards the East coast of America.

Circumstantially occupied by ‘The Virginia Company’ during the sailors’ sojourn in the area, a faction that, in having been left to establish province upon the island in the instance of the newly built ships’ departure, was to lay the first bricks of what was, in then being known as as ‘New London’, later to become the township of ‘St. George’s’. Bermuda duly earned the distinction of being the oldest continually occupied overseas territory in the British Empire, a heritage which, in assisting the deployment of munitions to confederate troops during the American Civil War, it is observed to retain to this day.

The country was, owing to it’s almost perfect isolation in the Atlantic, perhaps fortunate to have retained it’s provincial fealty to Britain for so many years, an instance in which the Roanoke Colony, a community of approximately one hundred and twenty people, which, in having been established upon ‘Hateras’ Island off the coast of Carolina forty years before Bermuda’s occupation, was observed to have disappeared without trace, leaving only the ominous word ‘Croatoan’ inscribed into one of it’s makeshift palisades to testify the mystery of it’s passing.

It seemed, with regards to such matters, that laying claim to land in the Atlantic was, in proving to be both precarious and insupportable when inadequately subsidized, not as easy as may at first be presumed.

It was not until the late eighteenth century, when ‘Governor George Hamilton’ decided, owing to the exposed location of what was then the center of British interests on the island, to redefine Bermuda’s commercial axis, that the city of ‘Hamilton’ was founded, a larger project which, upon being formally named in homage to the governor’s efforts in 1815, duly acceded to the distinction of becoming the island’s new capital.

Consecrated in 1911 with the construction of ‘The Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity’ within it’s bounds, a project that, in serving to define the areas’s architecture beneath the provision that the church’s spire should remain visible at all times from every quarter of the city, the geography of ‘Hamilton’s’ urban scheme was subsequently seldom observed to change much, persisting, in it’s fashion, as a time capsule of mid twentieth century colonial aspiration.

Renowned for serving as the headquarters of ‘Bacardi Rum’, following the outbreak of communist revolution in Cuba, an interest which, in sharing commercial attention about the city’s bounds with the manufacture of semi conductors and several investment firms, ‘Hamilton’, yet succeeded in preserving a markedly naval apparel, a large part of it’s extent being situated about a sizable harbor that remains bearing testament to matters of an oceanic persuasion to it’s aft.

____________________

‘Bob Harvest’, sat alongside ‘John O’Grady’ in the foyer of Hamilton’s police constabulary, awaiting the outcome of an inquiry pertaining to the custody of the child known as ‘Cocolo’ which had been mounted following his return to the city.

He sat reflecting upon the matter as he slowly leafed through a copy of the township’s local newspaper.

The boy had been subject to a mandatory screening procedure in the event of his arrival back upon the mainland, a process through which it was observed that, in having occupied the refuse tip that persisted off Bermuda’s North coast for some years, he represented a potential vector for the transmission of disease.

There had, to Harvest’s knowledge, needed to be a number of tests performed upon the youth by Hamilton’s medical authority’s in this instance to insure that he posed no threat to the island’s population, a term beneath which ‘Cocolo’ had effectively been placed in quarantine pending further notice.

‘Harvest’ put down his paper and leaned towards his companion, “poor kid”, he muttered, directing his attention towards the cell in which ‘Cocolo’ was then being detained. “You would have thought that they would have done him the service of making him feel welcome”.

“He has had a Hell of life”, replied John glancing up at this friend, before adding “I am sure that he will survive”.

Harvest returned to his newspaper, there was something in the soul of polite society that was inclined to take pity upon those it found occasion to refer to as ‘noble savages’ he mused silently scanning the broadsheet in his hand.

He could not be sure whether or not the attitude was an act of cultural self aggrandizement, the allocation of a safe catchment for all that yet remained unknown of man’s proclivity for diversity, but it had seemed to him during the times in which he was drawn to reflect upon such matters, that the sentiment had answered an innate yearning for liberty which lay unrequited at the heart of all men, an attitude which, in being of an unconscionable persuasion, may yet satisfy itself with the conference of it’s obligations upon others.

He sat speculating upon such matters as he awaited ‘Cocolo’s’ release, noting that authors had, almost since the time of their conception, been inclined to ply literary archives with such figures, Rudyard Kipling’s ‘Mowgli’, Charles’ Dickens ‘Oliver Twist’, John Davis’ ‘Pocahantas’, the list extended by abstract degrees through a myriad different shades of novel distinction, there were even aliens and Gods among such texts. “Were such figures pariahs, scapegoats or role models ?”, “Were they game or prize ?”

The conundrum served to vex ‘Harvest’, a serpent without a bite can be deemed a thing of beauty which within reason, may prove capable of expressing sentiments that would chide the temerity of mankind, but some of the most vibrant snakes on earth are also the most venomous. “How far can one load dice before a boon becomes a curse ?”

After some minutes devoted to matters of a largely tedious persuasion, a Doctor stepped from the cell in which ‘Cocolo’ was being held and began to speak. “The boy seems to be perfectly healthy, he smiled genially, “you should be able to take him from us right now”, he paused momentarily to inspect the details listed upon a clip board which he then held in his hand. “However owing to the peculiarities which surround his upbringing, I am afraid to announce that we will need to place him on probation to monitor his progress upon Bermuda”.

“A precaution ?” said ‘Harvest’ glancing up at the Doctor.

“It is procedural”, replied the Doctor politely, “the boy will need to return here upon a weekly basis to insure that he is settling in”.

“Very well”, said Harvest summarily, “I am sure there will be no problems” he added attempting to offer the medic his assurance.

‘Cocolo’ was sitting on a couch in a room which, in being lit naturally with a high window, preserved a climate of gray sterility of the variety that may be observed when viewing sunlight through blinds, he appeared to be pleased when ‘Harvest’ and ‘O’Grady’ entered to collect him, standing and greeting them in an animated manner.

“You have been given the all clear”, said ‘Harvest’ glancing down enthusiastically at the boy, “we will have you out of here in minutes”.

‘Cocolo’ smiled but said nothing.

“Cheer up”, said ‘Harvest’ noting the boy’s reluctance to speak, “There is a world of opportunity that yet awaits you on Bermuda, I will show you the sights. Have you ever seen a film ?”.

‘Cocolo’ remained silent.

There was a chill in the air as the party left the Constabulary, a palpable cold which appeared to be cast up from the sea as though in proposition of foul weather.

“Let’s get the boy home”, said John glancing up at the sky, “it looks as though we are in for a storm”.

‘Harvest’ directed ‘Cocolo’ into the back seat of his car and warmed the machine’s engine, the boy had never seen an automobile before and appeared to be intrigued by the vehicle’s motive ability. He had espoused a similar sentiment when called forth to board the helicopter on the ‘Gyre Patch’, a manner of intense concentration that, for some reason, ‘Harvest’ found occasion to identify with the solution of a mathematical puzzle.

“I will follow you later”, said John as the pair made to leave, I need to return to my flat to change my clothing. He lifted his hand and smelled beneath his armpit, before adding, “the dump has a curious ability to soil anything which enters it’s proximity”.

“Very well, I will see you soon”, said ‘Harvest’ drawing cautiously out into the road and setting off towards the town’s suburbs.

__________________

The air in John’s flat was still, a stagnancy which lingered over the stale scent of extinct cigarettes and old laundry that then served to distinguish the rudiments of what may, upon an incidental basis, be construed to have represented the stock hold of John’s daily life.

He felt unusual as he entered the premises, detached from it’s familiarity after his excursion, a sense of alienation, which for some reason caused him to dwell upon the attitudes that others, who like himself had, been estranged from their circumstance, would be inclined to espouse if they too had found occasion to access such preserves bereft of the spirit of engagement which was conventionally invested in their maintenance.

He could not place the exact sentiment which his return had inspired in him, in this instance, he immediately felt like a fly who, in having intruded upon what would within it’s mind, ordinarily have been a familiar preserve, was drawn to note with lucidity that it no longer truly presided over that which it had once taken for granted.

The sense of detachment was quite unsettling, John felt that maybe his continued presence in the flat would serve to lull him into a false sense of security, a spell broken in the instance of further engagement elsewhere.

The paradox had momentarily served to amuse him, the flat was equally as charmless whether he was present within it’s sanctum or not, any ‘Circe’ worth her salt would surely have won colors from easing his discrimination with respect to such matters.

John showered and changed his clothing, dutifully extracting a grey jogging suit from his belongings. He poured himself a cup of coffee and lit a joint taking time to savor it’s flavor, to his delight the rush that he received upon igniting the article was intense, it was the first cigarette that he had smoked since setting forth onto the ‘Gyre Patch’ and it tasted good.

As he sat staring from the window of his flat enjoying the joint that then burnt slowly between his finger, he drifted slowly into a dream.

____________________

The storm that John had found occasion to predict in the Constabulary’s car park, had after having mounted momentum in the heaven’s above Hamilton, deigned to open it’s bowels over the city, obscuring the detail of the city’s geography behind a sheer wall of rain, a tumult that, in inexorably gaining impetus in the sky, appeared to condense about a single cloud, a vast thunderhead that rose above the town like the residue of an atomic explosion.

John thought he could observe, as the thunderhead coalesced, that it’s underside was lit with virgin lighting, an internal glow which in boiling aggressively within it’s mass, strangely refused to earth, an effect which, in causing the cloud to resemble a vast anemone or the product of some alien technology which as yet eluded definition, glowered ominously from the heavens like a lunatic conspiring the realization of mayhem.

As John waited the gentle sound of thunder rolled in over the ocean, a ceaseless rumble that, in being almost imperceptible, served to fill the sky with the portent of catastrophe. Then, after some minutes of oppressive suspense, the lighting inevitably began to fall, cascading down against Bermuda’s mainland like a battery of Magnesium flares.

As the lighting arced through the sky cutting crazed pathways through the rain , the thunder finally began to separate announcing it’s presence with increasing degrees of protest.

John was, in this instance, drawn to believe, as the spectacle unfolded, that the sheer sound of the thunder clashing against the sky would be capable of moving inert objects from repose.

John had experienced tropical storms before during his time on Bermuda and this threatened to be bad one, he reached down towards his bed and withdrew a blanket from it’s covers.

Storms always made him feel cold, and this one was no exception, he wrapped himself in the item and returned to his vigil at the window.

The storm mounted pace acceding what within John’s mind at the time appeared to be the pace of a typhoon, a tropical cyclone of the variety that was reputed to be capable of hurling ships out to sea.

As it raged in the heavens raining lightning down upon the earth, appreciating increasing degrees of rapacity with every thunder strike, he became worried, there seemed to be something wrong, something in the maelstrom’s violence which extended forth beyond the simple platitudes to which foul weather is beholden. The storm seemed to swell and expand at an accelerated rate, it’s lightning lingering in the sky like blank sheets of paper torn from a book.

Beneath the thunder, he thought that he could hear something else, another sound, a choral anthem lent voice by the teeming multitudes of the sea, ‘Saul’, it appeared to sigh, “Saul, Saul, Saul”. John wrapped the blanket in which he was sitting tightly around him and strained to hear the motif more clearly.

As he listened the lightning suddenly froze in the sky, a sheer wall of light from which a minute figure seemed to descend, an apparition that walked slowly towards him as though gracefully descending a flight of steps.

The figure was initially tiny, a speck of darkness punctuating the light like a grain of dirt in a glass of milk, but it became more apparent with every step of it’s advance.

Within time John could discern the form of a child garbed raggedly in old clothing, it appeared to be either smiling or crying into the rain , it’s expression was difficult to discern.

However, as the apparition neared striding across the sky, John suddenly awoke, he discovered that he had, in the interim following his return to the flat, fallen asleep upon his bed.

Glancing out of his window, he noticed that the storm had also disappeared, the quaintly parochial scene of Suburban Hamilton stood, enacting the details of it’s daily routine as perhaps it always had done innocuously before his gaze, the ground was completely dry, it seemed that there had not even been rain.

John rose testing his reflexes, the dream had been remarkably convincing but of course entirely impossible, he took some moments to collect himself, chiding his culpability. It was strange how states of mind could, when granted plausible province, appear to invade sense.

As he waited slowly recovering from the ardors which had distinguished hid reverie, the telephone in his hall rang.

Throwing the blanket in which he observed that he had inadvertently wrapped himself as he slept aside, he dutifully rose to answer it.

“Hello,” said ‘Bob Harvest’ upon the other end of the line, “What appears to have kept you ?”.

“I apologize,” replied John groggily, “I fell asleep”.

“It’s been a tough few days”, replied ‘Harvest’.

‘Yes”, answered John blankly, “Yes, it has”.

“Do you think that you will be able to make it over sometime this evening ?” Said ‘Harvest’, “There is something that I wish to discuss”.

“Yes I should be able to do so”, replied John circumspectly, before adding, “what is that you want to talk about ?”

“The boy who we saved from the dump, ‘Cocolo’”, replied ‘Harvest’, “he has had a seizure”.

“What do you mean ?”, Said John.

“He started to shake violently and collapsed”, answered ‘Harvest’ simplistically.

“And”, said John.

“We will talk about it when you arrive”, said ‘Harvest’, “please be quick”, he added delicately replacing the receiver of his telephone upon it’s hook.

____________________

CHAPTER 10

GHOST TOWN…

The provinces of the sea are many and varied, where the Southern Ocean thrives with bio-luminescent plankton scourging it’s mists with the subtle luminescence of St’ Elmo’s fire, those of the Pacific extend endlessly in azure pleats across the vast gulf that divides America from Asia. Where the waters of Southern Australia harbor the calcified wilderness of the most extensive coral reef on earth, those of New Zealand remain semi-volcanic seething crimson with oxidized iron. Where the waters of India mingle with the vast freshwater slip stream of the Mekong Delta those of Greenland freeze about the hidden mass of submerged ice bergs imperiling the advance of European ships seeking Newfoundland via the thin margin of brine which yet serves to define the North West Atlantic Passage.

The general trend towards which such a a collusion of interests is inclined, as inferred by the name of the sou’wester Macintosh traditionally used by sailors to brave foul weather, slopes in an inexorable South Westerly direction towards Cape Horn. All oceanic water planes across the face of any map devoted to it’s study in this manner, it is the way of the world, the sea travels towards it’s Southernmost extreme.

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It was why, John thought, when boats drifted inexorably towards the equator after having been put to trial, they became mired upon the glittering planes of the Sargasso, trained sailors cut slip forging passage North upon a Western axis to beat the lull.

John could remember hearing, as he made his way towards ‘Bob Harvest’s’ home that, despite representing the terminus for all the world’s waters there was no rainfall in Antarctica, it’s vast geography being almost entirely arid, the continent’s ice shelves being composed of permafrost or ground moisture that froze directly into the thin atmosphere which coalesced above it. The ice was like balsa wood, porous and light, it reputedly cracked and powdered like plaster.

It was ironic he thought as he wove progress forth through Hamilton’s streets, the water moved towards the ice and, in losing it’s ability to retain humidity when airborne, entered Southern climes through their base, an infiltrator, swept forth on the undertow of a myriad different interests, there to bond and melt in a final act of congress.

“Was the water mad when it arrived ?” It was a question that John found difficult to answer, maybe when measured against the complex polygamy to which nature circumscribes, it was mad, it had after all ridden out the worst of such things and, in making it’s concessions as it saw fit, assumed the wider mantle of it’s destiny.

It was ‘the star child’, he thought reflecting briefly upon a science fiction book that he had once read devoted to such matters, a vast intelligence which, in drifting without substance, had somehow purified it’s soul and had nothing left to say.

Men were not so pure he mused, pausing briefly to reflect upon the issue, in farming the countries of the earth to provide themselves with resource, confirming their stake with the cultivation of narcotics, to produce crops where there were none, they surely realized the extent to which they were forced to depend upon others to survive. It had little or nothing to do with their work, they needed to live to set the term of their magnanimity, they had to preserve their mortal vestige to decide.

It was something of a contradiction, charity began at home, it did not matter how great the promise of ecological salvation was if there was no-one there to make it.

It was perhaps here, John thought that the madness of the water, it’s gay migration towards the pole, grated with the somewhat more familiar motives of self preservation to which men were customarily beholden, here that the provinces of nature, it’s stock holds and lets replete with their threats, certitudes, puritan philosophies and universal economies, loitered to become another madness, the madness of death shared among foul company as a common a unit of exchange.

Such a thing should be deserved John thought, it should throw it’s aces to win it’s hands, it should exchange wonders to call lots, filling it’s coffers with the musings of a thousand deranged violations, re-inventing itself to exceed even the grim reality of it’s own atrocities, it should negotiate and tally, trade secrets in the dark, it should live an age to grow wise upon the meat of such conjecture, mix and blend, ferment and mature. “What would be left amidst such abundance but for it’s moments of truth ?”

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John arrived at ‘Harvest’s’ residence in the early evening, he felt strangely invigorated by the walk which he had decided to take across town and was presently in good spirits.

“Hello”, he said greeting his friend, “so what has happened to the child ?”, he inquired added making forth into the house.

‘Harvest’ led him through into the room in which ‘Cocolo’ was located, the boy seemed drawn as though he had borne witness to some incident which he could not adequately reconcile.

“It started about two hours ago”, said ‘Harvest, “I was standing in my kitchen preparing some food for an evening meal to share with the lad when my concentration was broken by a peculiar moaning sound emanating from some point to my aft. Initially I thought it was a cat squabbling in the yard but, upon closer investigation, I discovered that the child appeared to have gone into some form of trance”.

“And”, said John intrigued.

‘Harvest’ hesitated momentarily bearing a pained expression upon his face, “the boy was sitting in my living room swaying from side to side with his eyes closed, he appeared to be mouthing something, some form of mantra over and over beneath his breath”, ‘Harvest’ paused, “I could not be sure but he appeared to be repeating a word or a name which he must have learned out on the dump”.

“Is he alright ?”, said John casting his friend a look of concern.

“I don’t know,” replied ‘Harvest’, “ you had better ask him”.

John knelt down and tried to engage ‘Cocolo’ in conversation, but the child appeared unwilling to communicate.

“What was he saying ?” John said turning to face Harvest.

“I don’t know” said ‘Harvest’ blankly, “it sound like ‘Saul’”.

Saul”, John exclaimed briefly remembering the peculiar intonations which served to distinguish the nightmare which had recently served to disturb his peace, “Did he say anything else ?”

“No just ‘Saul’” said ‘Harvest.’

John paused puzzled,

“You seem concerned”, said ‘Harvest, “what is the matter ?”

“It was the pseudonym of the child that you killed”, said John uncertainly.

“Oh”, replied ‘Harvest’ nodding apprehensively, “so you think that the boy in our possession presently understands himself to be among his enemies”.

“I don’t know”, said John, “The children had a strange relationship with each other”, he paused momentarily to reflect upon the issue, “they had collectively devised a language together, a tongue which they used to communicate with each other. It seemed to be an alloy of a number of different dialects, I didn’t understand it”.

“And”, said ‘Harvest’ intrigued.

John hesitated, “As I recall they had beneath this pretense, also developed a framework of religious belief. They believed they could adopt different personalities, become different people you understand”, he paused, “the youth that you shot claimed to be called ‘Jubal’ when I first encountered him, but then changed this name to “The Dominic”, a stronger individual who ostensibly avowed no relationship with his previous persona after having presumed authority over the child’s will”,

“And you think that has something to do with ‘Cocolo’s’ present state of mind ?” inquired ‘Harvest’.

John struggled recollection “the gang claimed that the dead boy was also capable of becoming a third personality, an individual named ‘Saul’”, he hesitated glancing across at his companion, “the other children appeared to be frightened of this occurrence, I think that they believed he would kill them when this happened”.

“It stands to reason”, said ‘Harvest’ remembering the dead boy’s ferocity when challenged, “so you think that ‘Cocolo’, has brought his superstitions back to the mainland with him ?”

“It would be as good an explanation as any”, said John glancing down at the youth who then stood motionless before him.

“Well there does not presently appear to be much that we can do”, said ‘Harvest’, ““it makes no sense to try and force confessions out of him when he chooses to be like this, the lad is supposed to be acclimatizing to our way of life not seeking refuge from it”, he paused shrugging summarily, “time is a salve that heals all things. I suppose we will have to leave ‘Cocolo’ to overcome his devils in the way that he sees fit, I am sure that he will eventually regain his senses”.

After some minutes of confabulation upon the matter of the child’s welfare the two men parted company, John returning to his flat to prepare himself for the following day, ‘Harvest’ remaining alone with ‘Cocolo’ to maintain vigil over the child’s condition.

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As John slept that night he had another nightmare, as before he was initially unsure that he was dreaming, but the peculiarity of the events which served to typify the nightmare’s circumstance could, to his mind, only rationally be credited to the fertility of his imagination.

He believed that had stepped out his house in his nightgown for an evening stroll, it was not something that he habitually did, and the peculiarity of his predicament there on the street in front of his flat clad only in his bed clothes served, by virtue of it’s incongruity among his thoughts, to trouble him.

Looking up he discovered that he had also misjudged the time in which he was making the excursion for, upon closer investigation, he noticed that the dawn had broken over the city some hours earlier and that the sun was already pursuing it’s daily course across the sky.

He remembered that he had stood for some minutes upon the street outside his flat in what appeared to be the early hours of morning glancing up at the sky.

He could not be sure at the time why was gazing heavenward, but noticed that others among the township’s community seemed to be doing the same thing.

There appeared to be a sound emanating from the sky, a reverberation which, in resembling the noise made by an assortment of metal plates being drawn reluctantly against each other, retained a strangely musical quality.

John strained his eyes attempting to locate the source of the resonance, it was as though an impossibly loud ensemble of brass instruments had been reduced to atonality by the spit invested in their usage.

The noise resounded through the heavens, at once mournful and outraged, like a ship seeking harbor after having spent too long at sea.

As he surveyed the heavens he noticed that there appeared to be a fire burning somewhere within the vicinity of the town for the sun was occluded by a thin haze of brown smoke, a gauze which served to discolor the sky, blessing everything beneath it’s aegis with a musty hue, a peculiarity which, in serving to unsettle John, was further accentuated by the appearance of what seemed to be a bridge of light gracefully ascending from some point about the city’s circumference towards the the sun.

Looking down he noticed that the phenomenon appeared to have affected the behavior of the town’s population of birds, creatures who, in ordinarily being inclined to celebrate the dawn in gay abandon from the bows of trees and the roofs of houses, were then observed to have congregated in vast flocks upon the ground, boiling against Hamilton’s streets like vermin glutting themselves upon an abundance of human providence.

He became frightened, the stratospheric event seemed entirely inexplicable, it was of such magnitude that it appeared to have been presented as a vast entertainment display, a fragment of frozen time, which, in having established premium, existed heedless of it’s audience.

He made forth to inquire among those with whom he was standing what they thought was happening, however, in attempting to distract their attention, he discovered them to be entirely unresponsive. It was as though they had been seduced by the apparition which they then beheld and, like fish laid upon the counter of a market stall, could no longer free themselves from the obligation of watching it.

As John waited he observed that increasing numbers of the town’s community were evacuating their houses to observe the sight each being transfixed in a state of stunned inertia in the instance of appraisal, it was as though they had lost their minds.

Within time it seemed that the entire population of ‘Hamilton’ was standing in the street each member of it’s number being held in a state of mute suspense by the miracle of what was then occurring.

As he watched, the people seemed to begin dancing as though embroiled in the festivities of an unplanned street party. “No” he was mistaken, they were not celebrating, they were writhing, the expression of their faces was one of anguish rather than enjoyment, he could not deduce what appeared to be troubling them but they seemed to be in pain.

This was when John’s dream became truly inexplicable, for as he stood monitoring the event’s progress, the townsfolk began to fall against the street as though collectively smitten by contagion, at first only a few and then more. It seemed as though some invisible skein which had, in bearing them erect, suddenly been severed, causing them to recoil in motionless heaps upon the pavement.

John watched as the town’s population fell lifelessly about him, the sight had initially served to terrify him, it was as though the people had forsaken their humanity and lined up to die.

It was then that he noticed movement among those claimed by the disease.

The town’s populace was not dead.“No”, it was palsied by some affliction that he could not correctly identify.

He knelt down to inspect the collection of cadavers which had fallen within his immediate proximity but found only their clothing, it initially seemed to him as though they had disrobed before simply disintegrating, and yet, regardless of their wearer’s absence, the sheaves of discarded fabric on the ground continued to boil and fester as though invested with a will.

He kicked the heap of clothing lying nearest to him with his foot to expose the reason for it’s continued movement, an action which caused the robe to erupt in a frenzied tumult of activity, it was infested with rats.

John noticed that every item of discarded clothing on the street appeared to be contaminated in such a manner. It was as though the town’s population had, in the instance of their demise, been consumed by the creatures.

He wretched, the scene with which he was confronted immediately appeared in his mind to resemble the finer imaginings of ‘Dante Alighieri’.

As John waited, the street within which he was standing began to swarm with a multitude of such vermin, he humored himself with the tidal motion of the creatures as they amassed steady number among the township’s fallen number, they appeared to push against each other like sperm entering a womb.

Their proliferation in the brief time that John was graced with to survey the scene was simply incredible, they appeared as a torrent, a moving carpet of fur and limbs which swept out across the street like a shadow cast forth from an eclipsed sun.

John found occasion to reflect briefly upon what little he had learned of such things during his youth.

There had, to his knowledge been two major plagues to have afflicted Europe throughout it’s history, both distinguished by the prevalence of rats among human concerns.

He recalled, in this instance that the fleas which the rodents harbored were thought to have been the cause for such things and, from what he could perceive of his present circumstance, such an assertion would make perfect sense, the creatures were everywhere smelling the air, nuzzling each other, driving in teams against the bounds of the city as though seeking to raze it to the ground.

As the rodents increased in number they began to engage in feudal disputes, at first in a territorial capacity but then far more aggressively.

John believed, as he stood braced against the seething tide represented by their progress that he could see them actively slaughtering each other. They appeared to leave a trail of death in their wake wherever they passed .

Unlike the township’s vanished community, the toll of violation that the rats left among their own number remained to decorate the city’s streets in garish profusion, festooning it with partially mutilated pieces of mammalian anatomy as though wishing to anoint them with blood.

John reeled as the sheer repugnance of what he was then perceiving occurred, it was there among the rats that the true horror of death struck him most acutely, they appeared to delight in enacting it’s measure.

It was as this cycle of events reached conclusion that John awoke, he was shaking and appeared to have sweated profusely into his bed sheets during the night, he rose rubbing himself down with a flannel and glanced across at the illuminated dial of his bedside clock to check the time.

It was five o’clock in the morning. He breathed a sigh of relief which caught bitterly in his throat causing him to cough before resignedly returning to bed. This time his sleep was dreamless.

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CHAPTER 11

ROSALIA…

It is something of a platitude in commercial circles that, whisked dairy produce should be aged to taste, the energy invested in it’s consolidation demanding a degree of relief lest it succeed in turning that to which it has directed it’s attentions into an indissoluble object.

In being subjected to an excess of kinetic force, dairy produce finds occasion to solidify as curd, a physical product which, in possessing a rubbery constitution, is observed to be more appropriate when aged, a pretext beneath which, in effectively overstepping a margin, it is witnessed to retrace it’s steps, flexing back and forth through states of partial congealment until considered palatable.

It seemed that such things were never quite right and fine tuning them took years, curd may be cooked, smoked, sweated, mixed with herbs, blended with beer, even infected with mold until deemed suitable for consumption.

In this sense, it was easy to imagine that such things could become a cultural reference frame, a book of hours which, in the instance of commercial distribution, bestowed something of it’s novelty upon those who were preternaturally inclined to avow an interest in such things.

When bread flour, a resource itself potentially derived from cultures of mold that have been treated with compressed air or heated beneath pressure, is mixed with water, it becomes dough and, as such, may be beaten into curd, an instance in which it’s fluid content waxes and wanes like the tides of the moon, much as it’s gradual degradation will also wax and wane in the light of it’s consolidation.

It breathes and perspires, respectively accruing and shedding it’s tears for years, before, as may observably be the case with regards to such matters, it is blessed with a name.

Sometimes this name is well known. Others it has yet to be recognized. It serves to puzzle and vex adherence, extending it’s prospect by abstract degrees in efforts to appreciate the notion of cultural continuum to which it is observed to be avowed.

Curd may even amuse itself in this sense, it leads a moist hard sexual life replete with an almost limitless variety of novel applications. It can be a fruit, a vegetable, a type of meat, it can be many things and possess many names. It could even be considered intelligent, a living being. An observation which would raise the question as to how it may be construed to perceive the world in which it exists ?

In considering itself mortal and bounded by the concerns to which it’s mortality ascribes. “Could such a thing prove capable of contemplating the event of it’s demise ? “Could it appreciate pain, anxiety, pity, remorse ?” “Could it attest loyalties and make vows based upon the strength of it’s convictions ?” “Could it preserve the temerity to try when those that had long grown acquainted with the ardors of contest would not ?” “Could that be it’s secret ?” “Did it laugh in the face of adversity defying it’s devils as it dismissed the absence of fortune which they heralded simply because it saw no sense in resorting to any standard other than that which had been invested in it’s creation ?”

“Perhaps people would consider the possibility of such a thing ?” Thought John abstractly as he turned in his sleep prospecting the following day’s breakfast. “Perhaps they would make their bread that way, heating yeast beneath pressure and mixing it with water, whisking it through turbines to separate it’s curd from it’s whey before aging it’s yield to a desired effect ?”

“Perhaps, owing to their inability to confirm the processes invested in it’s creation, they may just be inclined to ‘say’ that they did”. It seemed like a fair argument, after all, men had, in noting the unpredictability of rotary engines during the nineteen sixties, observed that they would need to actively maintain such things. Re-inventing them as stationary mechanisms made perfect sense, the processing of food or oil seemed like a perfectly rational method of application, it could feed the world.

Upon reflection why people did not ‘say’ such things remained something of a mystery to John. It seemed that they did not because they did not consider them to be true. It seemed that they they still had the taste of their mother’s milk on their lips and the money to buy it. “How could they risk straying any distance from such a premium without forsaking themselves ?”

“Maybe that was why ?” Thought John. “What people could not see would not hurt them”. “What they did not know would not matter”. It was the way of the world, the way of dying and of death. They would say as much beneath the same edict and suffer for that instead.

__________________

John slept until eight before rising. he had, in the idle hours after having decided to return to bed, managed to banish the nightmare that had earlier served to disturb his peace into the realms of the immaterial and felt surprisingly refreshed as he rose to greet the day.

After having prepared a light breakfast consisting of two hard boiled eggs, a slice of toast and a cup of coffee, he decided to make his way across town to check up on ‘Bob Harvest’s’ progress with the child who was presently in his custody.

As he set forth from his house he felt that he noticed a peculiar quality in the azure firmament which then loomed over ‘Hamilton’. Maybe it was his imagination but the sky above the town seemed to carry the almost imperceptible sound of distant steelworks upon it’s breeze, an auditory illusion which John observed was hypothetically caused by a cross wind coming in from the city’s dockyard.

He made his way into the town’s center and bought a newspaper, an item which he proposed to sit reading for a few hours in one of the quaint coffee houses which were then situated along it’s high street.

He loved attempting to complete the puzzles which such journals contained, the way that they appeared to make crooked sense of the world, their catalog of wonder running in like gear trains that, once primed could only move one way.

Such things were, at concept, supposed to work, he thought as he leafed casually through the printed article in his hand. They made cruel sense, establishing the logic invested in their formulation by increasing degrees of acuity until finally consolidating what may be termed an irrevocable premium.

He also loved the sense of lucid detachment achieved by abandoning such things once finished among the many commercial refuse tips that were devised to play receptacle to such sport. It was the way of the world, how men buffered their time. Life was a free for all, purpose a virtue, a planned obsolescence to civilize the wind.

As he sat poring over a particularly ambiguous cryptic cross word by the window of a small restaurant which specialized in a selection of rare and exotic ground coffee varieties, a catalog of delicacies that, if John understood the establishment’s detail upon the matter correctly, had been imported fresh from ‘Rio De Janiero’, he noticed a bird which seemed to be struggling against some form of impediment upon the pavement directly before his field of vision.

Taking pity on the creature, John stepped out of the restaurant to see whether or not he could offer it assistance, bending down to collect it’s body and examine it’s plumage in efforts to deduce why it was distressed.

He retrieved the bird easily from the street. It seemed perfectly suited to the concave of his palm, it’s tiny heart beating against the confines represented by the partial closure of his fingers about it’s shivering frame.

The bird appeared to be smiling, “of course it was not”, but John nonetheless observed that it’s beak was locked permanently into an expression of sustained mirth as though it were happy.

John investigated the little creature as it rotated it’s head smoothly from side to side in the cup of his hand. There did not, upon close examination, seem to be anything wrong with it, an observation which immediately served to puzzle him, “Why was it struggling to fly ?”

He opened his hand to form a horizontal plane and breathed on the bird to try and encourage it into the air.

It turned, looking quizzically at him for a few moments, an instance in which it seemed to be accusing him of having bothered with his Samaritan attentions, before finally opening it’s wings and erratically disappearing into the sky.

John had been mistaken, there had been nothing wrong with the creature, it had simply been preening itself. The natural world was full of such ‘faux pas’, that was how he felt that it chose preserve its mysteries.

____________________

John finished his coffee and made forth towards ‘Harvest’s’ house, arriving at it’s door at about ten o’clock in the morning. He stood for some minutes awaiting his reception. He was intrigued to know whether ‘Cocolo’s’ condition had improved and wanted to see the child.

‘Harvest’ opened the door and cordially invited John in.

“How is the boy ?” said John upon entering the property.

“He still seems to be fixated upon the ‘Saul’ character that you mentioned when we met yesterday”, replied ‘Harvest’ casting his friend a concerned glance, “I have tried to snap him out of it but he refuses to listen“.

“Where is he ?” inquired John.

“ Upstairs”, answered ‘Harvest’ simplistically. “I managed to coerce him up into the spare bedroom last night”, he paused, “it has a lock, I did not want him wandering about the house at night”.

John ascended the building’s staircase and entered the room in which ‘Cocolo’ was situated, “Hello” he said attempting to present a positive impression before the boy.

“Cocolo was sitting cross legged on the floor of the room with something in his hand. He appeared not to have slept since John had left the premises the previous day.

John knelt down to inspect the child more closely. The object in his possession was the small string of Rosary Beads that he claimed to have salvaged from the shipwreck that had initially served to strand him on the Gyre Patch.

He was mouthing something as he passed the beads through his fingers.

John could not be sure but it seemed that he was repeating the word “Saul” over and over beneath his breath irrespective of the conventions associated with the article’s religious usage. He appeared not to have noticed John’s entrance into the room.

John reached forth and removed the beads from ‘Cocolo’s’ grasp, the motion seemed to distract the child, drawing him from his trance.

“Don’t worry”, said John attempting to re-assure the boy, “You are safe with us”.

‘Cocolo’ looked up, “Why am I here ?” he said quietly.

John was uncertain how to answer. The question could have betokened profundity, it was the type of thing that religious converts were inclined to say after have achieved what they considered to be the transcendence of mortal concern, or it could simply have been a statement of fact based upon the child’s present circumstance, in either instance John chose to keep things uncomplicated,“Because we brought you here”, he said casting the boy a concerned glance.

“I should not be here”, continued ‘Cocolo’. “I do not belong here”.

John hesitated, examining the Rosary beads which he had succeeded in prizing from the child’s grasp,“Of course you should be here, you are one of us now”.

‘Cocolo’ sighed but said nothing.

As John fondled the Rosary beads in his hand it occurred to him that he could try to draw the boy to his senses by addressing him with the name that his family had been given him before their ship had been wrecked in the Sargasso…“Christopher”, he intoned remembering the title that the child had received at birth, “you can be ‘Christopher’ now”.

‘Cocolo’ glanced up at him with a look of incomprehension upon his face, “no”, he said after some moments of introspection, “I am ‘Cocolo’, ‘Cocolo’, the limpet of the rock”.

John, sat down cross legged upon the floor of the room next the the child, flourishing the rosary beads in his hand, “that time is past” he said attempting to humor the boy by adopting an Irish brogue, “you have a new life now”, he paused, “you can start again”.

‘Cocolo’, started to cry, “a new life”, he said pitifully, “is a new life”.

As the two spoke ‘Harvest’approached. “Well done”, he said directing his attention towards John, “you appear to have drawn the lad out of his shell, perhaps we can get some sense out of him yet”.

John hesitated before answering, “He seems to be finding it difficult to acclimatize, it will take time”.

‘Harvest’ paused glancing down at the Rosary beads in John’s hands, “Protestant or Catholic ?” he inquired speculatively.

John laughed casting his eyes down to the object in his possession. “Oh the Rosary Beads, they belong to the boy”.

“I had been meaning to ask about them”, said ‘Harvest’.

“It is a long story”, muttered John.

“I am very attentive”, replied ‘Harvest’.

“Very well”, said John clearing his throat to recite the tale of the boy’s initial destitution on the dump. “The beads in my hand were apparently given to ‘Cocolo’ by his mother in Ireland”, he said struggling recollection, “he said that his family were Christians from Newport”.

“The lad is Irish !”, exclaimed ‘Harvest’ incredulously.

“I believe so”, replied John, “apparently his father was a sailor, a ship builder, who had once wished to colonize the new world”.

“Land of the free”, muttered ‘Harvest’ smiling.

“The man’s ship was apparently wrecked as he attempted to make the crossing.” Continued John glancing up at his friend, “the boy said that he was the only one that survived the incident”.

“A castaway”, mused ‘Harvest’.

“It seems so”, replied John.

“Were the other two lads that we found on the dump also castaways ?” inquired ‘Harvest’ intrigued.

“No, I don’t think so”, said John , “They said that they had always been there”.

“That is absurd”, answered ‘Harvest’ furrowing his brow, “surely they must also once have had parents”.

“It stands to reason that they would have done”, replied John shrugging his shoulders apathetically, “but as far as I can recall they denied that they had ever lived beyond the dump”.

“Easier to get blood out of a stone”, muttered ‘Harvest’ circumspectly.

“They had led a hard life together”, said John.

“Damn”, muttered ‘Harvest’ biting back a tear of remorse, “I wish that I had not killed the lad who attacked me in the cave”.

“It makes no sense to cry over spilled milk,” replied John apathetically, “at least ‘Cocolo’ is safe”.

‘Harvest’ cast his friend a distraught glance but remained silent.

____________________

As the days passed, Cocolo’s’ condition appeared to improve.

Although still inclined to spend long hours frozen in the state of introspection that had served to distinguish his arrival upon Bermuda, he otherwise appeared more engaged and communicative than had earlier been the case, an instance in which ‘Harvest’ had, to his credit, been observed to successfully seduce the boy towards the investigation of a number of television programs, a resource which ‘Cocolo’ had, to ‘Harvest’s’ amusement, initially found difficult to distinguish from reality.

Within time the probation officer who was assigned to monitor the youth’s progress called to inform ‘Harvest’ that he would need to report to Hamilton’s constabulary in efforts to sanctify the issue of the boy’s custody.

The pair arrived in the early hours morning and, after having been received by the township’s medical authorities, ‘Harvest’ duly presented an account of the child’s progress on the island, a summary which, in including the event of the trance state which he had entered within it’s repertoire, served to arouse a degree of concern among those assigned to act as notaries for the case.

“A trance state, you say”, intoned the registrar commissioned to record the details of the affair.

“That is how it seemed”, replied Harvest shrugging affably, “the lad refused to communicate with me, he appeared to have become entirely self absorbed”.

“Unusual”, said the registrar studiously transcribing the event’s occurrence onto a piece of paper, “do you think that it could represent a problem ?”.

“I don’t know,” answered ‘Harvest’ furrowing his brow, “I found it unsettling but it did not seem to represent a threat to my life”.

“I see”, said the registrar dryly, he paused glancing across at one of his associates, “taking what you have said into consideration, I think that it will be necessary to place the boy beneath our observation,” he paused, “only for a few days you understand, simply to assess his behavior”.

“Surely not”, said ‘Harvest’ suddenly dismayed by the prospect of the child’s institutionalization after the years of freedom that he enjoyed upon the tip.

“To be certain” said the medic noting ‘Harvest’s’ distress, “don’t worry, I assure you that we will do him no harm”.

“Very well,” said Harvest after some moments of introspection, “How long will you need to make your appraisal ?”

“About a week pending complication,” replied the medic genially. “If there are any problems then we will let you know”.

‘Harvest’ bent down to inform ‘Cocolo’ of the medic’s decision, telling him not to be worried. He promised that he would return in a few days to collect him from custody and then life could proceed as he had initially intended that it should upon the island.

‘Cocolo’ nodded uncertainly and compliantly entered the holding cell that the medic had prepared for him.

After some moments of discussion to confirm the details of the matter ‘Harvest’ bade the child farewell and left the constabulary, returning back to his house along the coastal path to survey the contingent of trawlers that were then prospecting gaily for the town’s daily provision in the tide.

It was approximately three days after ‘Cocolo’s’ deposition with the city’s authorities that ‘Harvest’ received a call from one of the officials engaged in the study of the child’s behavior, informing him that the youth had disappeared.

To begin with ‘Harvest’ found what the man had to say upon the issue difficult to believe.

Apparently, despite having taken stringent measures to insure ‘Cocolo’s’ security, the boy had nonetheless managed to vacate his cell, an absence which, in correspondingly eluding every effort made by the establishment’s supervisory staff to effect resolution, had served to represent something a mystery among their number.

Upon inquiry there appeared to be no rational explanation for the child’s disappearance, the door to his cell had been securely locked and, from what could be deduced, had remained firmly sealed after his departure, ‘Cocolo’ had simply vanished.

‘Harvest’ duly visited the city’s constabulary in efforts to confirm the details of the absence, “How can a young boy, one who possesses no knowledge of the efforts taken to secure custody simply disappear ?” He said confronting the medic who had been commissioned to preside over the case.

“It seems impossible”, replied the medic sheepishly shrugging his shoulders, “we thought that the child may have tried to return back to you”.

“Why would he seek to do that ?” Replied Harvest mildly outraged, “he owes me no favors, in fact I was, judging from the way that he chose to behave beneath my care, probably resented by him”.

“Why would he resent you ?” inquired the medic mildly perturbed by ‘Harvest’s’ consternation.

“It’s a long story” said ‘Harvest’, “he potentially held me responsible for killing one of his friends”.

The medic paused momentarily before replying, “you killed one of his friends ?”

“Yes, out on the tidal dump to the North of the island”, said Harvest resignedly, “I was attacked by one of the boy’s companions and pulled a gun”.

“You did not inform us of this occurrence when you handed the child into our custody”, said the medic regaining the oppressive monotone to which was habitually inclined, “I hope you realize that beneath Bermudan law such a deed would constitute murder”.

“I acted in self defense,” said ‘Harvest’ mildly irritated by the obsequious manner in which the medic chose to salvage moral premium from what would otherwise plainly be a bureaucratic oversight.

It had, in fact, occurred to ‘Harvest’ at the time that most of the island’s authorities were semi-professional in this respect, they tended to choreograph their affairs in such instances to the effect of insuring that they would be left to preside over the mistakes of others.

The medic hesitated in momentary introspect before continuing, “I am afraid to say that, taking what you have said into consideration, we will have to re-appraise the term of the child’s custody”,

“What custody ?” replied Harvest incredulously, “he has vanished”.

“We will assign a team of forensic analysts to deduce how he escaped from captivity” answered the medic coldly, “if we achieve anything by way of progress in this respect then we will keep you informed”, he paused before adding, “I am sorry to announce that at present, there is not much more we can do”.

“Very well”, muttered Harvest resignedly turning to leave, “keep me informed”.

____________________

Upon vacating the pale sterility of the city’s constabulary ‘Harvest’ decided to head out towards ‘O’Grady’s’ flat’ in efforts to converse with his friend upon the matter of the child’s absence.

He felt in this instance that John had known ‘Cocolo’ better than himself and had, in his distinction, furthermore remained innocent of the crimes which then served to jade his own conscience.

“Disappeared you say,” mused John upon being told of the affair, “Do you think that he will try to make it back onto the ‘Gyre Patch’ ?

He appeared, for some reason that ‘Harvest’ found difficult to qualify at that time, strangely pleased with the news.“No”, he replied humorlessly, “no, I don’t think he will ever make it back there”.

“So he is currently the wild man in the woods”, said John circumspectly, “I am sure that the authorities will pick him up in due time”.

“The nature of his absence was unusual”, muttered ‘Harvest’ ambiguously, the man placed in charge of the lad inferred that ‘Cocolo’ had left the door of his cell locked after having escaped it’s confines.

“A ghost ?” Mused John introspectively, “yes I must confess that is strange, how do you think that he managed to make good his escape ?”.

“I don’t know”, replied ‘Harvest’ weakly shrugging his shoulders, “I was hoping that you might have the answer”.

“I would love to say that I did,” said John, “a lapse in reality perhaps, a hidden portal in time. But no, from the evidence at hand I don’t think that the mystery of the boy’s absence will ever adequately be resolved. It will have to be relegated to the realms of the unknown” he paused momentarily in consideration, “I believe that the town’s authorities are inclined to reserve a special place for such things within their daily catalog of event, they must have their own ideas about how the boy effected his escape”.

“All the best to them”, said ‘Harvest’ shrugging summarily, “it seems that the matter is no longer in our hands”.

The two conversed for some hours upon the issue of the child’s whereabouts before parting company. There had, in effect, seemed to be nothing that either party could do to resolve the issue as it then appeared. ‘Cocolo’ was gone, and by the child’s own admission when called to cast opinion upon such things, it seemed that “no one may find those who did not wish to be found”.

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CHAPTER 12

THE WRITING ON THE WALL…

When a culture dies, when it ceases to function as a productive entity, it is fated to leave evidence of it’s passing before the attentions of any who may be interested to know what it had once striven to achieve, a process through which the exact character of it’s tenure on earth is witnessed to become a matter of academic debate.

In prospecting brevity as they strive to preserve their legacy, some cultures may seek to leave only worthy resource in their wake, a series of lessons crafted to caution and advise any who might be interested in what their citizens were once honor bound to achieve, where others, being coached towards dependence beneath what must be considered to be greater interests than their own, may relegate such matters to the realm of the unknown in efforts to appease criticism. It being presumed, in this instance that a state of cultural ignorance need never attest more in efforts to smooth the scheme of other agenda.

One may, in this sense, spend years studying the remnants of an ancient library and learn nothing, for it’s authors have, in effect, never been assigned to devote their attentions towards any more than a reinforcement it’s legend and yet, in exposing the litany of a sibling convention written at the same time in a different tongue, learn how to destroy the earth. The highest possible stake shares grace with the most menial normality. One man’s disease is another man’s cure.

Perhaps the truth in such an instance may reside with the paradox that the two attitudes represent when drawn into context with each other, a paradigm which, in serving to blur the distinction between truth and falsehood, inevitably perishes it’s premium to celebrate harmless fantasy, redefining decorum to be no more than a melting pot of exotic ideas.

It is, in this sense, something of a maxim among archaeological concerns that a cultural reliquary fashioned in good humor may be indicative of an ethic that proposes to take years, keepsakes which reflect the most immediate circumstance being the constructs of civilizations that, in accordance with the wisdom to which such things circumscribe, effectively seek to extend premium forever.

As such the archaeological legacy of an extinct civilization represents something of a paradox. The sum total of it’s prospect being measured in minutes by it’s catalog of wonder, a reliquary that, upon being fashioned at once in the heat of the moment, is all that remains to flavor the wider scheme of it’s designs.

In this manner novel objects that preserve no purpose beyond the effort invested in their creation may seem to adopt a new and sovereign significance in the mind of their interpreter, becoming greater in retrospect than was perhaps ever intended to be the case by those that once made them.

____________________

Three days after ‘Cocolo’s’ disappearance ‘Harvest’ received a telephone call from the the body of men who had been assigned to effect the child’s restitution informing him that a number of discoveries had been made throughout the course of the investigation which they felt may demand his assistance.

Apparently the boy had inscribed a series of peculiar markings upon the wall of his cell before absenting himself from it’s confines and his custodians wished to know whether or not the symbols might possess any significance.

Upon hearing the news ‘Harvest’ duly called ‘O’Grady’ to inform him of the affair, a conversation which, in inspiring John to reflect upon the crude lexicon that the children had carved into the wall of the cave beneath the dump, resulted, after some minutes of discussion upon the theme, with the pair’s visitation of the city’s constabulary the following day.

____________________

“Markings you say”, muttered John, as he entered the child’s cell.

“Pictograms”, replied the constable in charge of the affair, “we tried to cross refer them with a number of local dialects but came up with nothing”.

John knelt down to examine the inscriptions, a series of concentric circular patterns similar to those that he had seen in the tunnels beneath the tip, they appeared to have been engraved into into the cell’s plaster work with a hard object, perhaps the crucifix of the Rosary chain that ‘Cocolo’ had been allowed to keep upon his person following his admission into custody.

John paused stepping back from the inscriptions, “I cannot be sure”, he said addressing the Constable, “but the symbols seem to be inscribed in the language that the children used to communicate with each other on the ‘Gyre Patch’.

“They had their own language ?” Said the constable incredulously.

“Yes”, replied John, “the boy mentioned it to me when I first encountered him”, he paused, struggling recollection, “I think he called it ‘Drupe’, I had never heard of it myself, but he seemed to speak it fluently”.

Drupe”, intoned the Constable withdrawing a small notepad from the table to his aft and taking the detail down, “it’s a type of fruit”.

“What ?” said John confused.

“It’s a type of fruit”, repeated the constable furrowing his brow, “a soft fleshed fruit, like a peach”.

John cast the Constable an inquiring glance but said nothing.

“This ‘Drupe’ language”, continued the Constable after some moments of introspection, “did it have any religious significance to the children ?”

“Yes I think so”, said John uncertainly, “as far as I can remember they believed that they could adopt different persona beneath the auspice of different names, they used the language to qualify such distinction, Christening themselves in accordance with the prerequisites to which they felt that their names then ascribed”.

“Unusual”, said the Constable, “so beneath such an understanding, the child in our custody did not not necessarily always consider himself to be who he appeared to be”.

John began to feel embarrassed, “It is only an idea”, he said sheepishly, “I did not expect the customs that ‘Cocolo’ found occasion to entertain with his friends on the ‘Gyre Patch’ to matter once he was brought inland”.

“Do you have any idea what the symbols engraved into the cell wall may mean ?”, Inquired the constable pensively.

“No”, answered John shrugging his shoulders. “No, I am afraid that I do not”.

____________________

After having presented what they knew of the inscriptions which ‘Cocolo’ had engraved into the the wall of his cell before the attentions of the city’s authorities, both ‘John O’Grady’and ‘Bob Harvest’ made forth towards the town’s library in efforts to see whether or not it preserved any references to the curious language that the children chose to use.

John noted upon examining the selection of texts which the library had to offer upon the matter that the closest correlation which could be drawn between it’s charter and the symbols described by the children were to be found in the aboriginal cave drawings of central Australia, a region so geographically remote from Bermuda that he was ultimately compelled to concede that any analogy which may be interpreted into such things was no more than a figment of his desire to construe sense from his inquiry.

He nonetheless decided to read through the information pertaining to the cultures which the library included in it’s repertoire if only to familiarize himself with their subject matter, discovering that the items which most immediately resembled the children’s drawings were to be found among the ‘Papunya Tula’ artworks of central Australia, an artistic convention which, in reputedly preserving a 50,000 year old oral tradition that it loosely referred to as the ‘Honey Ant Dreaming’, was notably observed to disguise the religious significance of it’s legacy behind dense arrangements of dots.

Perhaps thought John, examining the library’s stockpile of information upon the matter, ‘Drupe’ also concealed it’s true meaning behind the lexicographic peculiarities that were inherent in it’s contrivance.

“The language could once have disguised pictures”, mused John abstractly, “detailed sketches of the attributes that it was thought capable of conferring upon those tutored in it’s understanding, a gallery of vampires each immortal in their fashion, their features deftly planed over with linear script, a book of Gods long since defaced by the litany that had been devised to describe them, a catalog of demons reduced to symbolism for fear of courting misfortune. The list of possibilities was endless but, in John’s opinion, ultimately tenuous. It was more probable that the strange language which the children chose to speak had arisen in the wake of the peculiar relationship that they were observed to have shared with each other on the ‘Gyre Patch’.

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Weeks passed after ‘Cocolo’s disappearance’, a period which, in failing to expose any evidence of the child’s whereabouts among the various factions who had been ordained to effect his capture, resulted, perhaps through association with a natural disinclination on ‘Harvest’s’ part to commune with the island’s authorities unless absolutely necessary, in relegating his absence to the stagnant backwaters of forgotten event to which ‘Hamilton’ was habitually beholden.

It had in fact seemed to ‘Harvest’ throughout this time that ‘Cocolo’s’ presence upon the island had been no more than a dream, the matter was out of his hands and the longer it remained out of them the less predisposed he was to pursue their issue.

“What was the loss of one child in times such as these ?” The boy had hardly had a life to begin with, just another tarnished rain drop cast from heaven to dissolve, unrequited and unmissed, in an indifferent sea.

It was easy to forget things on Bermuda, it was part of the island’s allure, a form of cultural amnesia sustained against reality like a fly locked in amber by the sedate progress of everyday wonder.

There was mercy in the absence of responsibility that forgetfulness represented and truth in the maxim that time healed all injuries. On Bermuda it swept over them like morphine removing any questions that remained to obstruct it’s advance.

The general sense of apathy that served to typify existence upon the island was, as is customarily observed to be the case with regards to such matters, surprisingly persuasive, a pretext beneath which, in the weeks following ‘Cocolo’s’ disappearance, John found himself compelled to retire at an increasingly early hour in efforts to prepare himself for the ardors of his daily routine.

He found occasion, in this instance, to pride himself upon his ability to catch at least ten hours of sleep a night and yet rise as the first light of dawn spread it’s distant margin across ‘Hamilton’s’ seaward horizon, a sight which, in serving to grant his time in the city an appropriate sense of place, he successfully managed to incorporate into a daily ritual replete with the catalog of time honored conventions to which such things circumscribe.

It was throughout this period that John dreamed he was visited by the child who Harvest had slaughtered in the tunnel network beneath the ‘Gyre Patch’.

____________________

Unlike the earlier dreams devoted to such matters which he had experienced, John’s encounter with the boy seemed to appreciate a degree of plausibility through which it appeared practically indistinguishable from the general scheme of his daily life.

He was, as he recalled, lying somewhere between sleep and wakefulness upon his bed in the early hours of evening listening to the sound of the gulls cursing each other in the bay when, for some obscure reason, he sensed that he was accompanied by another person who had not announced their presence within his immediate vicinity.

He rose breathlessly to scan his bedroom for signs of an intruder, a survey which, in due course, exposed the figure of a young child dressed in discarded clothing standing in the corner of the room some distance from his bed.

The figure’s back was turned to him, it seemed to be watching something located above it’s head in the alcove represented by the juncture between the chamber’s ceiling and it’s wall.

As John rose the figure began to speak, “I have been expecting you” it said in a soulless monotone.

“Who are you ?” cried John, unsettled by the intruder’s presence within his house.

“You know me” said the figure, it’s voice adopting a peculiarly wry quality as though it had privately amused itself with some joke too depraved to withstand appreciation.

“I thought that you had died”, said John nervously.

“I had”, said the figure pausing momentarily as though in pursuit of definition before adding, “we had”.

“So how can you be here ?” continued John incredulously.

The figure continued to stare intently into the corner of the room’s but said nothing.

“I must insist that you tell me why are you here ?” cried John inexplicably frightened by the apparition’s presence within his proximity.

“To see the spider in it’s web”, said the figure gazing up into the chamber’s eves, “to see him perfect his ruse and beat the wind, to watch him struggle in the sun, to see him court the boundaries of space and hold the sky aloft”.

The figure paused momentarily in reflection, “who, in understanding such a thing, would ever trust another”.

John glanced up at the room’s ceiling, noticing as he did so that a cobweb hung loosely from the the alcove created by it’s coincidence with the chamber’s far wall.

“They say that the spider weaves the softest silk although, measure for measure, it’s slack is stronger than steel”, continued the figure gazing intently up at the ceiling,“pouches for eggs, pouches for flies, the fabric’s vulnerability is it’s strength”, he paused reaching up into the web and extracting an object which John immediately presumed to be a dead fly from it’s midst.

“Why are you here ?” Screamed John suddenly overcome with fear.

The intruder appeared to ignore him. “Take this” it said gently handing the article in it’s possession to John.

“What is it ?” Inquired John nervously.

“Food” replied the figure.

John cast the intruder a confused glance but said nothing.

“Eat it”, Continued the figure smiling.

“No”, replied John dismayed.

“Why not ?” said the intruder blankly .

“Because I do not eat flies”, replied John grimacing with disdain.

“It is not a fly” said the figure simplistically, “flies are flies, they can be nothing else”.

John opened his hand to examine the object in his possession more closely, it possessed a slightly rubbery texture which retained a pliable constitution between his fingers. “What is it ?” he said repeating his previous question.

“Asphalt”, replied the intruder. “It’s good, eat it”.

John was unconvinced, “Asphalt is not food”, he muttered after some moments of consideration, “why would I choose to eat such a thing ?”

“Because you can,” answered the stranger glancing up at John.

“There are many things which can be consumed that are not eaten,” said John perturbed, “Asphalt is generally considered to be a building material”.

“Why ?” Inquired the figure furrowing it’s brow.

“Because that is what it is used for,” replied John with an explanatory gesture, “there is a difference between building materials and food. It is unnatural to eat Asphalt.

“Those that lead brief lives comprehend nothing”, replied the stranger ambiguously, “they seize their immediacy and call it law, things take longer, there are times between.” It paused, “If people understood more then they would know why they chose to arm themselves with Asphalt rather than eat it”.

“Asphalt is not a weapon” said John confused, “it is used for laying roads and pitching roofs”.

“Roads are used for the pursuit of quarry, roofs for the defense of domicile, is this not a form of armament ?”, Replied the figure nebulously, “if it were that men chose to eat their hunt and not their captive then they would surely understand more in the time that they had”.

“What do you mean ?” inquired John disconcerted

“Things take years” replied the intruder ambiguously, “but philosophies of hours fall apart. Those who seek to shame rebellion, to perish it as fiction simply because it takes time are, by the same measure, inclined to forget that they must live.” The figure paused. “Rituals take years and move at once, they sleep an age to perform perfect service, it is no philosophy”.

“I don’t understand,” replied John.

“A philosophy of hours may strive to comprehend that which eternal rest cannot and fail”, said the stranger apathetically. “In living briefly, such a thing chooses to consume it’s armor not it’s captive”. The stranger paused drawing breath. “There is no time, there is custom and the methodology which one applies to one’s survival. Time is money”.

“I am sorry,” said John troubled by what he felt to be the figure’s accession towards groundless profundity. “That is just how thing appeared to be to me”. He did not know why he chose to say this, other than that he had, in a moment of irrationality, been compelled to interpret the stranger’s presence in his room at that time to be a form of retribution for the murder to which he had accidentally played audience on the ‘Gyre Patch’.

“There is no need to be sorry”, intoned the figure slowly drawing away from the spider’s progress in the corner of the room and turning to face John, a moment in which it’s features inexplicably appeared to flare in the ragged afterglow of a vibrant magenta flame before assuming their correct complexion, “One should not cry over matters which cannot be resolved.” The stranger paused. “One can only answer for them with renewed conviction”.

“Are you ‘Saul’ ?” said John frantically attempting to deduces the figure’s identity in the half light cast forth into the room by the steady encroachment of evening through it’s window.

The spectral child cast John an imperious glance but otherwise remained silent.

After some moments of indecision John finally decided to physically accost the intruder in efforts to put an end to his charade once and for all, an instance in which, perhaps as a result of the effort invested in committing himself to decisive action, he succeeded in waking himself.

Cursorily scanning the room for signs of the stranger’s continued presence within it’s confines, he discovered, with relief, that he was quite alone, a pretense beneath which he conclusively deduced that he must have been dreaming.

Rising from his bed to secure the vestibule’s door in efforts to confirm his solitude, he circumstantially found occasion to glance up at it’s ceiling, noting as he did so that a spider had, in accordance with the sequence of events to which his nightmare circumscribed, decided to pitch a web against it’s expanse.

Duly retracting a brush from his closet, John deftly brushed the cobweb from repose and resignedly returned to bed. Such things were, in contradiction to any conjecture that may be construed from their coincidence among human affairs, generally considered to be fairly unexceptional throughout Summer months on Bermuda.

_________________

Approximately two days after John had experienced the vision ‘Bob Harvest’ was found dead in the bedroom of his house. He had apparently died peacefully in his sleep.

The circumstance of the event was in fact singularly unremarkable, people grew old and, in suffering the gauntlet of circulatory disorders to which such things circumscribe, eventually passed away. It happened every day on the island and it’s people had long since familiarized itself with the details that pertained to such things.

Owing to the peculiar nature of Cocolo’s disappearance some weeks before the occurrence, a small inquest was performed by ‘Hamilton’s’ authorities to insure that foul play had served no part in the affair, an investigation which, in performing a forensic examination of ‘Harvest’s’ house to deduce whether or not it had received any visitors during the period immediately preceding his death, served to achieve little more than to confirm the largely incidental circumstance of it’s occurrence.

It was as the city’s authorities were performing the investigation that ‘John O’Grady’’ found himself standing over ‘Harvest’s’ bedside looking down upon the deceased form of his friend.

“A heart attack you say”, muttered John casting the medic assigned to preside over the the matter a distraught glance.

“That is how it appears”, replied the medic, “he had, from what I can deduce been a relatively heavy drinker throughout his life”.

“And you believe this to be what caused his death ?” said John.

“It occasionally happens”, answered the medic attempting to offer his assurance, “people are inclined to fall asleep beneath the influence of spirit and, in assuming an inappropriate posture as they rest, simply never wake up”.

“He was not much older than myself”, said John casting the medic a look of despair. “It had always struck me that he had preserved a relatively good state of health throughout his life.” He paused biting back a tear of pity. “I find it difficult to believe that he is gone”.

“Death can strike at any time”, replied the medic shrugging weakly. “It falls down to us to pick up the pieces. Here at least, in the event of demise, we may yet find grace to salvage some vestige of continuum from the whim of fate.”

“At least in the hereafter”, muttered John cynically, “I had not expected him to die”.

“It can happen to the best of us” answered the medic circumspectly. “In most instances we can but blame ourselves”.

John paused to look down at ‘Harvest’s’ prostrate form partially covered by the bedclothes within which he had died. Although the man’s complexion was sallow, his general attitude was one of transcendent peace, there seemed no reason to suppose that he had suffered any form of hardship before his demise.

“Thank you,” John said after some moments of introspection, “I don’t suppose there is much that can be done with regards to such matters once they have occurred”.

“Just the rituals” said the medic shrugging weakly, “we will always have them”.

John was immediately puzzled by the attitude of sheer resignation that appeared to be espoused by each respective member of the medical team who had been assigned to arbitrate over the affair, but said nothing. The men must long since have grown accustomed to the incident of death throughout their term of office.

“One man’s disease is another man’s cure” he mused glancing down to pay ‘Harvest’ his dues. It was then that John realized how much he hated ‘bloofer’ men.

After having payed his respects John turned to depart. He had, by his own admission, found the atmosphere in ‘Harvest’s’ room almost unbearably oppressive in the light of what had occurred within it’s confines and did not want to remain upon the premises for any longer than was necessary.

He decided upon leaving the house to take a walk along the old coastal road about the perimeter of the town before returning to his flat in efforts to liberate himself from the augur of death that then served to preside over him.

The gulls were out in force as he patrolled it’s extent, but the sea was calm.

It momentarily occurred to him as he gazed out over the concrete reinforcements that then served to buttress the harbor’s flank against the blue expanse which stretched endlessly before it, that the water was not even breaking tide, but he was mistaken, it crept in sure enough concealing more decisive currents beneath it’s mirrored surface.

It had for some reason, seemed to John at the time that the sea preserved it’s mysteries better that way.

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CHAPTER 13

KNOW TRAIN TO PORTER…

Weeks passed slowly following ‘Bob Harvest’s’ death, an instance in which it seemed that the sentiments which the man had circumstantially found occasion to espouse towards the fate of the child known as ‘Cocolo’ had ironically applied two fold to himself.

Few people either attended ‘Harvest’s’ funeral, a small affair held privately in one of Bermuda’s local chapels, or mourned his passing.

The man had, in being perceived to be a hireling unconnected with the island’s native population, always managed to maintain a discrete distance from ‘Hamilton’s’ community and the amnesty wrung from the collusion of circumstances that such a status represented had ultimately served to complete his isolation.

Of the the few who even cared that ‘Harvest’ had passed away, ‘John O’Grady’ was perhaps his closest acquaintance.

It had seemed in this instance that, the onus of regretting the man’s absence had, upon being left to a limited catchment of no more than two or three individuals, been incidentally discouraged by the general scheme of events that had followed the occurrence.

‘Hamilton’ had perhaps always been inclined to dismiss it’s dead thought John as he sat poring over a cross word in one of the city’s many coffee shops. The city appeared to preserve the quaintly optimistic veneer through which it achieved distinction in this manner, sweeping it’s quota of dirt seamlessly beneath some self contrived carpet, an item which, in having been employed to this effect, then remained inviolable for fear that the event of intermediary disclosure may rupture it’s weave and pour forth every indiscretion to which the township must, since the time of it’s creation, have presumably circumscribed.

It had occurred to John, as he sat in the coffee shop reflecting upon the topic, that the township was inclined to devote more attention to the perfection of such a ruse than to the any of the practicalities which may, within reason, be presumed to sustain it.

Perhaps this was the secret of ‘Hamilton’s’ success he thought, cursorily examining the cross word in his hand, the city seldom appeared to flinch when placed beneath duress.

____________________

It came as something of surprise to John in this respect that ‘Nelson Portaeus’, an individual who, in having once served as his friend’s employer, was reputed to be one of the wealthiest men on earth, had decided to take up temporary residence on Bermuda, following ‘Harvest’ s’ death.

It had seemed in this instance that, where ‘Hamilton’s’ people appeared to care little for the loss of their number, having resigned themselves to some half conceived notion of destiny which accommodated the questions that such an issue may be presumed to raise, the money which furnished their economy with wonder had other ideas.

Before his arrival ‘Portaeus’ had purchased perhaps the largest private estate on the island , a mansion which in, in once having been owned by one of ‘Hamilton’s’ governors, still possessed the remnants of a fine vineyard to it’s rear, a plot that, in extending out for some miles across open country, preserved an attitude of colonial decadence that shamelessly referred back to the city’s naval heritage.

It was to this building that John was called following ‘Portaeus’’ arrival upon the island.

Apparently the tycoon wished to clarify the exact circumstance of ‘Harvest’s’ death and, in observing it to pertain to the string of events which had occurred upon the ‘Gyre Patch’, felt that John was uniquely qualified to provide details of the affair.

___________________

Some days after having received the request to meet ‘Portaeus’, John duly made his way along Hamilton’s old coastal road towards the plutocrat’s house, in efforts to to ascertain what it was that the man sought to discuss.

It was late spring and the weather was fine as John laboriously forged passage forth towards the premises of the newly acquired estate, a route which, in granting him an opportunity to inspect the fine pox of trawlers which then strafed the waters at the periphery of the harbor, inexplicably caused him to recall the curious tale of Cocolo’s deposition upon the dump.

Although relatively close to the mainland, the thin spread of the vessels that were observed to mill jauntily against perspective’s vista from the shore nonetheless served to represent the state of acute isolation to which ocean going transit is preternaturally beholden.

Upon reaching the mansion John was greeted by one of the many men that “Portaeus” had incidentally contracted to maintain it’s bounds following his decision to occupy Bermuda and courteously led into it’s precinct.

The house was, upon immediate appraisal, surprisingly extensive, perhaps one of the largest private residences on the island, it seemed, upon being entered, to extend without limit from it’s heart in a splayed matrix of illustriously decorated corridors and architectural follies like a work of art fueled by the perennial dissatisfaction of it’s creator, a design scheme presumably instituted to reflect the status enjoyed by Bermuda’s governing body during the halcyon era of it’s colonization.

After some minutes of silent speculation as to exactly what manner of initiative could have gone into such a building’s formulation John was duly introduced to “Nelson Portaeus”, a well spoken individual, who, in himself appearing to owe something of his origins to the island’s Colonial past, reminded John for some obscure reason of the vintage spirit and rare oil which once served to constitute the larger part of it’s commercial resource.

“Did you know that the accumulation of rubbish on the ‘Gyre Patch’ was, throughout the first years of it’s conception, upheld to represent a necessary impediment to the general scheme of nature?” began ‘Portaeus’ courteously welcoming John into the building’s study.

“No the thought had never occurred to me”, said John impressed by the atmosphere of lavish decadence that the plutocrat had , since his arrival at the house, managed to cultivate about him. The man’s presence in the room appeared to cast a slow shadow over it’s inventory, as though having throttled grace from any novelty to which such a catalog may aspire before seamlessly silencing it’s protest with the prospect of opportunity,

“An artificial island”, continued ‘Portaeus’ lethargically,“to buttress the flow”, he paused momentarily in reflection. “It’s an old idea, the Romans did it in Northern Britain at the turn of the first millennium, and, to all intents and purposes, men have, ever since that time, been compelled to repeatedly re-enact the same standard”.

“Hadrian’s wall,” intoned John glancing up at ‘Portaeus’.

“The construct of a clever race”, mused ‘Portaeus’ abstractly. “Did you know that the Roman empire was, contrary to popular myth, not responsible for the construction of Rome ?” His eyes appeared to glow with a dull amber light as he spoke, a blank radiance which, in blessing all that fell beneath their gaze with a curiously opulent quality, coincidentally deadened the suggestion that such things should pronounce any other attribute.

“No”, said John confused.

It occurred to him in the moments that he had been granted to mete appraisal that conversing with ‘Portaeus’ was like looking into a vintage bottle of malt whiskey, years of unannounced sentiment seemed to swill lethargically behind the easy veneer which the tycoon presented forth before investigation, an instance in which the man’s turn of phrase appeared at first glance to be slow even retarded, an affectation paradoxically bolted down to such an extent that it’s inclination towards abstraction instead came across like a blunt instrument borne forth with inexorable conviction.

‘Portaeus’ cast John an easy glance, “The city was invaded about a thousand years after it’s foundation by Northern Europeans, it’s name was assumed after it’s defeat by those that had conquered it”.

“It makes sense”, said John shrugging, “fewer questions”.

“Northern Europeans” repeated ‘Porteaus’ genially stressing the point that he appeared to be attempting to make.“They shared their language across the extent of their empire for over a thousand years”. He paused momentarily before adding. “Latin script, the gospels of St. Augustine”.

“There were a lot of books devoted to such things at that time,” said John briefly remembering the effort that he had invested in studying the matter throughout his youth.

“Small fish, big ocean. Sand seeking sand”, mused ‘Portaeus’ dryly, “it’s a good place to start when attempting to qualify the true origins of the Roman empire, it answers most of the questions raised with regards to the issue”.

“I must confess that I have seldom found occasion to research such things in any detail”, replied John gingerly.

“Did you know that the Greek Stoics once pronounced a myth which described the poisoning of their crops by a race of intelligent fish called ‘The Telchines’”, continued ‘Portaeus’ lethargically.

The Telchines” repeated John confused, before adding “No I can’t say that I was aware of such a thing”.

“At about the same time that Hadrian’s wall was built,” muttered ‘Portaeus’ attempting to draw a tenuous cross reference between the assertion and the previous theme of the discussion. “When the Northern Europeans began to worship ‘Mithras’”.

“I thought ‘Mithras’ was Persian,” said John mystified.

“It got around”, replied ‘Portaeus’ gently stroking his cranium, “The race was alleged to have been blessed with the ability to summon rain and hail at will, a power which enabled it to poison fields with the waters of the river ‘Styx’.” He paused. “There are apparently references to the event preserved within the ‘Eleusinian mysteries’. The goddess ‘Demeter’ was,through coincidence with the destruction of crops, observed to have forsaken her vow to cultivate the earth until her daughter ‘Persephone’ was freed from Hades”.

“Intriguing”,said John mildly unsettled by the abstract character of ‘Portaeus’’ conversation, an instance in which it incidentally crossed his mind that the man was, in the manner of a common confidence trickster, attempting to draw some form of allusion between the wider schemes of history and his own business interests.

It was allegedly the ‘Telchines’ alongside the ‘Satyrs’ and the ‘Maenads’ that joined forces with the God ‘Dionysus’ during his celebrated military campaign against India many years ago”, continued ‘Portaeus’ abstractly.”

“Strange times” replied John perplexed.

“Highly unorthodox” mused ‘Portaeus’ casting John a sly glance. “The Romans undeniably left an impressive legacy behind them, when it’s novelty wore thin and they saw fit to pillage their vows, they took time to settle down,” he paused momentarily in introspection. “You could, in paying your tributes to ‘Hercules’ for crime throughout that time, yet have an adventure before being laid to rest beneath Roman providence”.

“Latin is a dead language” said John narrowing his eyes, “it fell out of usage following the Black death in the fourteenth century”.

“And yet it’s translation remains to bait intrigue”, said ‘Portaeus’ lethargically,

“Why did you call me here ?” said John suddenly tiring of the plutocrat’s inclination towards abstraction .

“You say that you fell into acquaintance with a gang of children on the dump”, said ‘Portaeus’ glancing up from a sheaf of documentation which then lay open before him upon a large mahogany desk in the mansion’s study.

“Yes,” said John self consciously, “they seemed harmless enough, I felt that I had won their trust”.

“They would have been trespassing”, continued ‘Portaeus’, he paused momentarily before adding, “Do you know who they were ?”

“Just children,” replied John nervously,

“No”, said Portaeus as though accusing John of inattention, “Do you know who they where ?” he chose to repeat the question stressing his words to lend them gravity.

“I have already told you,” said John anxiously. “Just children”.

‘Portaeus’ rose from the desk behind which he was sitting and stepped purposefully into the center of the room, there was a sense of murderous determination in his advance which, for some reason, caused John to fear for his life.

“There is a child in us all,” he said subtly softening is manner. “We have all enjoyed childhood, it seems to last forever but comes to an end,” he paused allowing the words to settle in the still air of the study, “The boys that you met on the dump were different, they were men before their time”.

“What do you mean ?” Said John confused.

‘Portaeus’ paused directing his attention to a map of Bermuda which had been affixed to one of the room’s walls, before announcing “Did you know that ‘Hamilton’ was not consecrated by the Roman Catholic church until the early twentieth century ?”

John was momentarily confused, “No”, he replied circumspectly, “I must confess that I did not”.

“In my opinion it is the only building in the city with any class”, said ‘Portaeus’ abstractly.

“What has this to do with the children that were found on the dump ?” Replied John.

“You have a Christian name,” said ‘Portaeus’ casually broaching the question, “therefore you must, within reason, be presumed to have paid at least some concession towards the influence of the church within your life ?”.

“I was baptized”, said John self consciously, “but I seldom found occasion to testify religious faith afterwards”, he paused. “In this day and age most people are compelled to forsake what they consider to be the trappings of youthful naivete upon reaching maturity”.

“You pursued an answer ?” Inquired ‘Portaeus’

“Yes I suppose so,” said John circumspectly,“when children become adults they are inclined to seek some form of explanation from life. If they are wise they will conclude their pursuit with the sovereignty of life over all other issues of concern”, he paused issuing a qualification gesture. “There is, in my opinion, really no other option in this instance, every other branch of philosophy is junk”.

“So you chose life ?” said ‘Portaeus’ summarily.

“It seemed like an appropriate decision to make”, answered John simplistically.

“Life over junk,” continued ‘Portaeus’ as though seeking confirmation.

“In not so many words”, said John, “it seemed at the time like the only way to remain sane”.

“There is money in junk”, mused ‘Portaeus’ reflectively, “it takes years to sanitize and decades to craft. I myself have made millions from advancing the progress of such things, it is how those placed beneath my providence are inclined to spend their time.” He paused momentarily as though seeking to impart confidence. “I have, in fact, achieved enough power in my life to deceive people in this respect, the work which I conventionally hire people to perform is, in most instances, unnecessary, it merely serves to gild the lily”.

“And ?” muttered John perplexed.

“When life comes to an end, it’s comparative importance within the canon of priorities to which my work ascribes is observed to demand special attention”, replied ‘Portaeus’ genially, “an instance in which the process of overhauling corrupt flesh is, in being absolutely necessary, particularly grueling.” He paused emphatically gritting his teeth.”When an indispensable tenet is entirely abhorrent to those who rail beneath it’s edict, then a rational argument is frequently necessary to sweeten the pill”.

“What do you mean ?” said John unnerved by ‘Portaeus’ turn of phrase.

“The enactment of such a process must be considered self imposed”, replied the plutocrat issuing an explanatory gesture, “and in being such, to prevail over those who are yet observed to err beneath it’s edict”.

“That which takes years comes crashing to a halt,” mused John struggling to understand the industrialist’s connotation. “It would make perfect sense that those enjoined to pick up the pieces should be considered better than those who had dropped them,” he paused momentarily in reflection. “But what has this to do with the children ?”

“The children,” said ‘Portaeus’ returning back to dwell upon the matter which had initially served to fuel the conversation, “Ah, yes, the children,” he paused momentarily collecting his thoughts. “In having found their own answers to the riddles of survival, the three boys that you found appear to have been able to persist for some years upon the dump beyond the shadow of their own culpability.”

“Their own culpability ?” Intoned John confused.

“To men of a religious disposition, God is stronger than Satan,” announced ‘Portaeus’ issuing a qualifying gesture, “In representing the preservation of life, he is observed to correct the margin of human error which his antithesis feels free to cultivate. It is a relationship which ‘Hamilton’ is, in being a cathedral city, presently honor bound to support,” he paused, “put simply the children that you discovered living upon the dump may, in having survived their quota of adversity alone, be presumed entirely unaccountable to such a convention, answering only to themselves and to no other faction.

“It stands to reason”, said John mildly disturbed by ‘Portaeus’ opinion with regards to such matters. “But how does this relate to the detail of our discussion ?”.

“What if it were that the things which we, as men, are inclined to take for granted on Bermuda were otherwise ?”, said ‘Portaeus’ casually broaching the issue.

“I don’t understand”, said John.

“What if the devil were to hold the ace ?” continued ‘Portaeus’ sluggishly animated by the prospect of anarchy that the suggestion entailed. “What if, with regards to the reservations that the church is observed to avow towards such matters, people were suddenly perceived to profit with impunity from acts of physical violation, committing deeds which, in being sustained in the name of the fibers that, beneath the devil’s providence, they were compelled to believe bound their convictions incarnate, were suddenly driven to forsake their premium for love of evil and depravity ?”

John hesitated momentarily in consideration, “well I suppose that people who adopted such an attitude would be making a mistake,” he said perturbed by what the plutocrat appeared to be attempting to infer.

“Would you not consider it possible that a sufficiently high rate of incidental injury may, in such an instance, threaten the promise of redemption which an organization like the church may propose to secure ?” mused ‘Portaeus’ abstractly.

“What do you mean ?”, intoned John.

‘Portaeus’ glanced slowly up at John, “Do you know that three and a half million people died in the first three months of the Bolshevik revolution in 1912 ?”

“I did not think that the figure was so high”, said John, unsettled by the tycoon’s tendency to refer back to an historical canon which bore no relevance to what he then observed to be the matters at hand.

“The mortality rate was, in the literature devoted to the subject, credited to the Russian winter,” announced ‘Portaeus’ slowly, “a crowd had amassed at the gate of the Winter Palace in ‘Petrograd’ during a particularly harsh chill to demand amnesty from the elements only to be fired upon by the standing body of Hussars that were then employed to protect the property from intrusion.” He paused. “Naturally when affronted in such a manner, the crowd revolted killing the Czars who owned the palace and claiming the property as their own,”

“It happens sometimes,” said John circumspectly.

“Not to the extent that was then observed to occur in Russia”, said ‘Portaeus’ fixing John with a look of peculiar intensity, “The crowd reputedly burnt the establishment’s furniture in efforts to keep themselves warm, eating the bodies of those that had fallen during the dispute throughout their period of occupation”.

“Surely not”, said John.

“It was the beginning of the Bolshevik revolution”, said the plutocrat issuing an explanatory gesture, “the peasantry had won momentary sovereignty in the light of their victory and were effectively granted reign to do as they saw fit”.

“So they burnt their pillage and ate their dead ?” mused John seeking confirmation.

“It seems so,” continued ‘Portaeus’ directing his attention towards John. “Later the rebels were called ‘Muscovites, there appeared to have been a reprisal which forced the people who had initially staged the coup to seek shelter in the Kremlin”.

“Communism was a popular movement”, replied John. “It was believed to grant people rights that they had previously never enjoyed”.

“‘Moscow’ is almost four hundred and fifty miles from ‘St. Petesburg’, three and a half million people died during that time”, intoned ‘Portaeus’ somberly, “Do you not think that a tragedy ?”

“I seldom find occasion to dwell upon such things” said John, “the Russian winter was, during the period which you have chosen to discuss, frequently considered to be lethally harsh.

“The mortality rate was epidemic, said ‘Portaeus’ quietly, “high enough to tear the heart out of any ethic that the Russian constitution may otherwise have been thought to have preserved at the time”, he paused slowly drawing breath. “To threaten the certitude of it’s ability to redeem the dissidence that was tearing it apart you understand, to break it in two and leave it sundry, food for the crows cast forth into the wind”.

“It seems to have survived fairly well,” said John pausing momentarily to reflect upon the issue.

“Things usually appear to do so in the wake of their collapse,” continued ‘Portaeus’ ambiguously. “They are at liberty to confirm their own myths as they weather change. Take the ‘Hasmonean’ revolution of the ‘Macabees’ for example. The rebels were awarded land by ‘King Herod’ of Jerusalem, and the result was the birth of Christianity”. He paused momentarily in thought”. Things move in cycles and appear better when confined to history books that are devoted to their study. These, at least, do not lose their ability to decide upon the issue of how things should appear”.

“You suggest that things are not always as they seem?” said John confused.

“Throughout my life I have always devoted my attentions towards the cultivation of harmless artistry among my fellow men”. Said Portaeus’ softening his manner, “I believe that my efforts in this respect may be proven to preserve decorum against the threat that insurmountable damage can come to represent among human concern”.

“I would not consider the disposal of garbage to be an art form”, muttered John mildly confused by the plutocrat’s proficiency for introducing a multitude of diverse subtexts into his arguments.

“I assure you that it is,” replied ‘Portaeus’. “All it takes is a little imagination”.

“Very well, I will take your word for it”, replied John, “but how does this relate to the children that were found on the dump ?”.

“It was made known to me that ‘Bob Harvest’ had been implicated in the murder of one of the boys who you found upon the site before the untimely event of his demise,” said ‘Portaeus’ quietly drawing breath, “I cannot explain at present how significant this occurrence may be.” He paused furrowing his brow in an affectation of concern. “The affair could hypothetically extend province across Bermuda and challenge the interests of all who yet reside about the island’s bounds”.

“You think that the children may threaten the future of Bermuda”, said John incredulously.

“There are things that men may be inclined to misjudge with regards to such issues,” replied ‘Portaeus’ mysteriously. “One can hardly expect them to do otherwise ? The citizens of Bermuda have always been conditioned to lead their lives in accordance with the dictum of rules that are fated to deny all that which lies beyond their sphere of interest credence ”

“The idea is plainly absurd”, said John. “The boys that were found upon the Gyre patch were just children”.

“I apologize”, said ‘Portaeus’ quietly, “I do not wish to concern you with the complications to which I believe that the present situation could ascribe. I only hope that I have arrived in time to prevent what may yet transpire in it’s wake.

After having spoken ‘Portaeus’ led John out through to the rear of the house telling him to enjoy it’s garden before returning home.

____________________

As John patrolled the Groves of lime trees which then lined the plot of land behind the mansion, he found occasion to reflect upon the plutocrat’s words.

“What was it that the man feared would happen and how would it affect the prospects of those who then dwelt upon Bermuda ?” The matter served to trouble him. It seemed, in the brief time that he had been granted through which to mete appraisal upon such matters, as though ‘Portaeus’ had circumstantially known things which he, himself, was not allowed to consider true.

After some minutes of idle speculation devoted to the issue he decided to let the matter drop, and proceeded to explore the house’s grounds, noting as he did so that, in preserving something of the uniformity that had been invested in it’s creation during the halcyon era of the estate’s foundation, many of the orchards upon the plot seemed to have been allowed to run wild.

John reached up to pluck a lime from the arbor of a particularly gnarled pollard which lay to his aft and, without peeling the object, bit directly into it’s hide, sucking the juice which it contained cleanly through the fruit’s skin in the manner of a wanton child.

The reserve of fluid which the lime contained was surprisingly caustic and, upon being tapped, involuntarily caused John’s eyes to sting with tears. He withdrew, spitting the juice from his mouth and forcefully throwing the fruit to the ground. Sometimes, he thought, certain things were better left undisturbed.

____________________

Some days after his encounter with ‘Portaeus’ John found occasion to reflect back upon the dream that he had experienced directly before ‘Harvest’s’ death. The vision had, in having initially been dismissed by him as a delusion, returned to haunt him with increasing frequency following his friend’s absence.

The sequence of events to which the dream had pertained, served in this manner to represent a puzzle that, in accordance with the practices to which such things ascribed, betokened some form of solution. “The figure’s presence in his flat, standing with it’s back turned to him in the corner of his bedroom as it monitored the progress of a spider about it’s web. What could it mean ?”

John sat cursorily reflecting upon the issue, “Could the intruder have been ‘Cocolo’ ? Had the child decided to visit him after having escaped from his cell before venturing forth to kill ‘Harvest’ ?”

The idea had struck John as improbable but possible. “Maybe the boy had scaled the walls of the room in which he had been held and managed to place himself out of sight against it’s ceiling. It was not inconceivable that the boy could have left the cell’s confines undetected in such a manner, slipping out through it’s door as it lay open. Perhaps the youth felt that ‘Harvest’ had been responsible for his imprisonment and actively sought to avenge the matter once free ?”.

Such an hypothesis would serve to explain the interest which the stranger had appeared to devote towards the spider that had circumstantially pitched it’s web in the corner of his room”, thought John, “but such things were hypothetical, dreams were dreams. They freely alloyed fantasy to reason in any way that they saw fit. That was their nature.

John attempted to recall the details of the encounter more clearly. “The individual that appeared to have entered his flat had immediately seemed larger than ‘Cocolo’, bearing himself forth with a manner of conviction which the child had, to John’s knowledge, never been inclined to espouse.

John could remember reflecting back upon the realm of incident to which the dream pertained, feeling sure at the time that the intruder was, contrary to the various schools of logic which may be presumed to apply to such things, almost certainly not ‘Cocolo’.

“Could it have been ‘Saul’, the persona to which the children were observed to have devoted faith during their life together upon the Gyre Patch”. John could not be sure. The idea seemed irrational and he was disinclined towards superstition,

‘Nelson Portaeus’’ untimely arrival upon Bermuda had similarly served to concern John. The man had, in his opinion, seemed to read more into the children’s affairs than he, himself was ordinarily inclined to suppose. There was, in this respect, something about the plutocrat’s manner that served to unsettle him. “Why would the man have chosen to move his base of operations to Bermuda for the sake of a missing boy ?” Surely such a thing would persist beneath his notice. He was a city builder, a maker of worlds, the escape of a vagrant child from custody would, within reason, hardly even be presumed to raise issue among his list of priorities.”

John allowed the matter to rest, he felt that he could not, owing to the groundless nature of his conjecture upon either matter, testify with any conviction what had happened in ‘Harvest’s’ house upon the night of his death. He was not prepared to allow the meanderings of his sub-unconscious mind to interfere with what he then observed to be a sound basis of fact.

____________________

CHAPTER 14

A FLY IN AMBER…

Among the most revelatory of ancient fossils within the vast stockpiles of petrified objects devoted to the study of what may, for want of other cross reference with regards to such matters, be deemed to constitute the very earliest epochs in the earth’s history, is the fly encased in amber. An object which, in preserving the anatomy of a given insect, replete with it’s armor, through collusion with the untimely ensnarement of it’s body in sap, has been hermetically bound for all posterity before the unassisted attention of the naked eye.

Such insects may, in having been cut into congealed resin like the carat of rare gems, subsequently be imagined to remain suspended forever in the throes a perpetual struggle, the final moments of their lives held up against the light of an ancient sun in what would be perceived to approximate a permanent enactment of mortal expiration. Their eyes, their mouth parts, the prismatic span of their wings, being granted grace to persist indefinitely beneath the sudden lens of a jaundiced sky.

No death rite is necessary, in the instance of such insect’s preservation, for their misfortune is also their boon. The gauntlet of accidents to which nature may, in it’s variety, be observed to circumscribe, rewarding the creature’s forbearance with unexpected posterity. They may reside in death far longer than they ever would have done in life.

Of the many observations that may be drawn from such specimen, the assertion that, in resembling extant examples of their kind, the general physiognomy to which such things observably ascribe has changed little, is perhaps the most striking. It seems, in certain instances, that evolution itself may see fit to preserve it’s marque, adopting the role of any preservative that it may circumstantially harbor within it’s scheme upon the repetition of it’s cycle.

____________________

Maybe thought John, in a moment of reverie devoted to matters of a peculiarly abstract persuasion, there had always been children on the dump, their existence alongside it’s tonnage of excrement being indivisible from the location’s circumstance in the Sargasso.

Perhaps ‘Cocolo’, ‘Loris’ and ‘The Dominic’ were incarnations of some malaise that had persisted unannounced beneath the tip’s surface since the time of it’s conception, figments of fate cursed to enact perpetual vigil over the site’s affairs like accessories to a crime which may take millennia to face trial ?

Maybe they were far more incidental, merely castaways that, in finding themselves trapped alongside the cumulative toll of a civilization’s refuse, had themselves become ensnared within it’s reliquary, there to preside in a fragmentary sense as vanguards of neglect frozen against the pan of cultural indifference like forgotten waste ?

____________________

Some weeks after Having been invited to ‘Porteaus’’ mansion, John received a call from one of the building’s staff informing him that a young child who claimed to have shared acquaintance with him was presently detained upon the premises.

Upon hearing the news John decided to make his way out towards the estate in efforts to forge contact with the individual that it’s people claimed to have taken captive.

It could only be ‘Cocolo’, there was no-one else that John could think of who fitted the description that the mansion’s staff had presented him with.

As John neared the estates’ perimeter he noticed that ‘Portaeus’ had, during his period of occupation upon the premises, decided to illuminate the exterior of the building with flood lights, a feature which, in serving to accentuate the property’s height, lending it the appearance of a small palace rather than a manor house upon the suburbs of ‘Hamilton’.

Upon entering the property John was courteously led to the room in which the individual in question was being held by one of the estate’s staff, a lavish parlor that in having been equipped with leather furniture, a television and a number of neatly finished domestic amenities had, in it’s distinction, been divided into two chambers with a transparent pane of perspex.

It was behind this partition that ‘Portaeus’’ captive sat, gazing morosely out of the room’s window. He appeared to be lost in a dream.

John observed as he stood at the periphery of the chamber that it’s occupant was ‘Cocolo’”, the boy had finally been found.

“We picked the lad up sleeping rough on the outskirts of the city” said the man that had initially accompanied John into the room. “we asked him whether or not he knew anyone in the area and he mentioned your name”.

As John stood in the chamber’s doorway ‘Cocolo’ turned and walked towards the perspex sheet which had been erected at it’s in the center, placing his hands against it’s expanse in a gesture of silent recognition.

“Hello,” said John uncertain how he should engage the boy beneath such a circumstance.

“I knew you would come,” said the child smiling, he paused glancing wary across at the man that had initially accompanied John into the room.

John was unsure how he should proceed, the perspex sheet immediately seemed to represent something of an obstacle to the proceedings as they then appeared, it served to oppress any notion of joy that may have been construed in the instance of re-union, “Did you know that ‘Bob Harvest’ has died ?” he said after some moments of consideration.

The child looked at him inquiringly but said nothing.

“You remember”, said John attempting to engage the boy, “the man that took you into his care when you first arrived on the island”.

‘Cocolo’ remained silent.

“Do you know anything about the affair ?”, Inquired John troubled by the notion that the boy could, through association his escapade, easily be presumed to have have been implicated in his friend’s death.

“No”, said ‘Cocolo’ after having devoted some moments of thought to the topic. “No, I do not”.

“Are you sure ?” Intoned John carefully examining the boy’s expression in efforts to deduce whether or not he was lying.

“I did not know that your friend was dead,” replied ‘Cocolo’ impassively.

It crossed John’s mind in this instance that ‘Cocolo’ was keeping something from him. Who would not in such a situation, but he chose nonetheless to accept the boy’s word, it was unjust to accuse people of crimes until they were proven guilty , regardless of their apparent culpability in such matters, “well he is dead”, said John, “he died about a month ago”.

“That is a pity” said ‘Cocolo’ quietly, “I had liked him, he was kind”.

As the two spoke ‘Nelson Portaeus’ entered the chamber. “I see that you are enjoying each others company”, he muttered calling the room’s attendant away.

“We go back some way”, replied John.

“The boy claimed that he knew you when my men brought him in”, announced ‘Portaeus’ drowsily, “It was about the only issue that he was prepared to pass comment upon following his arrival on the estate”.

“He can be stubborn when he chooses to be”, answered John.

“He also said that he had known ‘Harvest’”, muttered ‘Portaeus’ beneath his breath, “it is strange how coincidence draws it’s crooked loom”.

“What do you propose to do with him ?” said John directing his attention towards the boy.

“I need answers”, said ‘Portaeus’, “I will find a way of getting them one way or another”.

John momentarily felt a surge of apprehension in the pit of his stomach, he knew, from accounts upon the issue, that the plutocrat was capable of resorting to practically any measure to achieve his objectives, an instance in which it crossed John’s mind that here within the mansion, untroubled by the threat of repercussion, he could quite happily rend ‘Cocolo’ limb from limb in efforts to get his way.

“Are you going to hurt him ?” He said after some moments of introspection.

“I need answers,” repeated ‘Portaeus’, “If the child possesses any information worth knowing then I will have it from him”.

“And what if he refuses to collaborate with you ?” said John uneasily.

“Then I will be forced to resort to harder measures”, replied ‘Portaeus’ frankly.

“Do you think that the boy was implicated in ‘Harvest’s’ death ?” Inquired John mildly unnerved by the plutocrat’s convictions with regards to the matter.

“I cannot answer that at present,” answered ‘Portaeus’ evasively, “There is currently no suggestion to suppose that he would have been involved in the affair. ‘Harvest’ died of natural causes. The circumstances surrounding the event rest upon a basis of well documented facts”.

“So why are you holding him ?” Inquired John.

“Because he is a fugitive”, replied the plutocrat simplistically, “prisoners are supposed to stay in jail”.

“Are you going to release him after you are done ?” Continued John glancing across at the youth.

“You seem concerned ?” replied ‘Portaeus’ laughing. “He has no family, no status, no property. He plays no part in daily life on Bermuda and is effectively little more than a vagrant when granted the freedom to patrol it’s bounds. Why would I need to release him ?”

“So you propose to keep him here indefinitely ?”, Mused John uncertainly.

“No, not indefinitely”, replied the plutocrat smiling, “just for a while”.

__________________

After the interview John was escorted from the mansion and offered a ride in one of the many chauffeur driven saloon cars which lay prospecting conveyance about the periphery of the buildings, an instance in which, through association with both the claustrophobic premise of ‘Cocolo’s confinement and the oppressive haze of doubt and suspicion which was inclined to hang over any situation that involved protracted engagement with ‘Portaeus’”, he discovered that he felt strangely relieved.

He decided, as he sat idling his time in the back of the car, to engage it’s driver in polite conversation. Maybe he would learn something of the plutocrat’s methodology from those who had been assigned to work in his employ ?

“What does your boss do for a living ?” John began, attempting to encourage some form of a rapport between himself and the man at the wheel.”

“Who ‘Portaeus’?”, said the driver momentarily distracted by John’s attempt to start a discussion, “Why he manages men”, he paused, taking a smooth left towards ‘Hamilton’. “Best corporate manager in the business, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise”.

“Any scandals ?” inquired John circumspectly ?

“No, clean as a whistle”, replied the driver absently. “People look up to him, they compare themselves against him, any dirt would show. He keeps a clean house”.

“I find that difficult to believe,” said John, “most successful people tend to hide skeletons in their closets”.

“No, ‘Portaeus’ is clean, too many vested interests”, answered the driver. “Big closets tend to lie open. His shop has to seem legitimate. He keeps everything above board”.

“Have you ever had any problems working for him ?” continued John.

“I started out running taxis in West London”, said the driver distractedly. “Getting a job with ‘Portaeus’ was the best career move that I ever made. I am proud to work for the man. He pays well and there are dividends”.

“Dividends ?” Inquired John uncertainly.

“I get to eat at the best restaurants, stay in the best hotels and wear the best clothes”, the driver paused turning in towards John’s flat. “Dividends”, he said issuing a clarifying gesture. “I live like a king on ‘Porteaus’’ pay roll. I have never had any problems”.

John disembarked as the car pulled up to his flat. “Thank you”, he said stepping cautiously from the vehicle.

“Not a problem” replied the man smiling easily. “I will probably catch up with you the next time that you decide to visit the mansion ” he added drawing the car easily out into the road.

______________

John returned to his flat and collapsed exhausted upon the settee in his living room.

The day’s events had served to raise a number of questions in his mind, conundrums which he immediately found difficult to answer. He could not, for example, understand why ‘Portaeus’ would have chosen to apprehend ‘Cocolo’ unless he suspected the child to have been directly implicated in ‘Bob Harvest’s’ death.

In finding occasion to reflect upon the issue, John was inclined to recall that ‘Porteaus’ had ironically not seemed to consider ‘Cocolo’ guilty of murder, an instance in which the plutocrat contrarily appeared to believe that the boy was instrumental in far greater stake, an issue which could, in effect, serve to threaten the future of Bermuda itself.” He could not be sure. “The industrialist appeared to apply his own rhyme and reason to such things”.

“To what lengths would ‘Portaeus’ go in efforts to secure his stake in the child’s heart ? Torture, inquisition, psycho-surgery, narcotic addiction, the list of possibilities was endless. The plutocrat’s chauffeur had seemed fairly adamant that his employer stood beyond the usage of such methodology, but the boy was no more than a teardrop in an indiscriminate sea. What would it matter if ‘Portaeus’ decided to drop his guise in such an instance and employ the arsenal of techniques that were clearly at his disposal ?”

“It had struck John at the time, that ‘Porteaus’ could even kill the youth after having extracted whatever information it was that he appeared to want from him without raising so much as a murmur from his would be detractors, an instance in which the man could even win plaudits for ridding the island of it’s pests”.

The notion serve to unsettle John more than he liked to acknowledge. “What if the boy were innocent ?” He had been imprisoned twice since his arrival on the island, an instance in which John was inclined to feel that he, himself, had been at least partially responsible for both removing the child’s liberty and even threatening it’s life. It occurred to him in this instance that If ‘Cocolo’ had remained on the ‘Gyre Patch’ then he would almost certainly have fared better than he had done beneath the supposed benignity of the various orthodoxies which were ostensibly observed to govern Bermuda.

The thought served to vex John as he allowed the fatigue wrung from the day’s exertions to claim domain over his senses. The child was surely never meant to lead the type of life that ‘Harvest’ had proposed for him, an observation which appeared to become increasingly evident as time passed.

It had, in fact, occurred to him in this instance that, he should free the boy and return him back to the ‘Gyre Patch’ to end his days in the tunnel network that yet remained hidden beneath it’s surface. Then, at least, he could satisfy himself with the notion that he had not interfered with what appeared to be the natural scheme of things.

These are the thoughts that served to trouble John as he gradually lost consciousness upon his settee. Every party that had found occasion to become involved in the desultory affair on the dump would have fared better if it had never occurred.

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CHAPTER 15

SAUL…

Ghosts have throughout the course of human history perhaps always held a special place within the scheme of narrative fables, a tenet which, in being observed to reach something of a hiatus among European literary circles during the early nineteenth century, proved to be the staple of the Victorian vignette, a term beneath which ghost stories were, in accordance with the conventions of the era, witnessed to furnish both library shelves and bookstores with an abundance of ideas, each perfectly crafted in their fashion, each promising to share something of their wonder among those unfamiliar with such things.

In representing the immortality of the human soul after the extinction of it’s physical vestige, the ghost was, in this sense perceived to be capable of transgressing forbidden margins, sanitizing the crude axioms of decay to which those of a purely pragmatic disposition were, in being of a rational disposition, inclined to avow faith.

In bending the boundaries of reality, the ghost was granted reign to trespass as it would, courting metaphysics in it’s efforts to understand the peculiarities that had once presumably determined it’s existence. Like literature itself, the ghost could do anything, lending potency to what would otherwise be deemed no more than a given state of mind.

Like light projected upon a screen the ghost could appear to confound the senses and yet pass seamlessly into the shade, it could dance unrestricted by physical impediment and simply disappear, it could, in being a representation of the soul unsoiled by mortal substance even testify that there was life in such things, a pure life unaffected by disfigurement and disease.

Being a dreamer John felt that he was fairly familiar with the conventions to which such liberties ascribed, after all, in being of a largely immaterial persuasion, something suspected but never proven, were ghosts not ultimately attributable to the working of the subconscious mind, reflections upon what it was that yet lay beyond it’s grasp, concessions to reality when all things were permitted. Phantasms, harbingers, conservative lunacies, limits to the illimitable, fears of change.

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Some hours after having fallen asleep John was disturbed by the presence of a stranger in his flat, an occurrence which he was, through association with the earlier instances of spectral visitation that he had experienced since returning from the Gyre Patch, instinctively inclined to relegate to the realms of his imagination.

He rose groggily and scanned the boundaries of his living room. He had, owing to the repeated intercession of such visions among his thoughts, grown accustomed to the general schematic that they were inclined to pursue, and, in experiencing an acute sense of ‘deja vu’, half expected the incident of confrontation that was fated to transpire as the dream revealed it’s peculiar realm of incident before his attention.

Sure enough, as he rose to investigate the dimensions of his room, his notice was drawn to the presence of a figure standing in the shadow cast by a closet against the chamber’s far far wall.

John noticed, training his eyes against the darkness, that, as before, the intruder appeared to be a child garbed raggedly in a patchwork of disheveled clothing.

It occurred to him, in this instance, that the stranger was not ‘Cocolo’, how could it be ? The boy was was presently imprisoned in ‘Nelson Portaeus’ mansion upon the outskirts of ‘Hamilton’’.

He sat for some moments upon his settee frantically attempting to deduce the stranger’s identity.

It was not ‘the Dominic’ either, that was inconceivable, the youth, had died many months beforehand in the tunnel system beneath the ‘Gyre Patch’, the figure was larger and more angular than any of the three children that John had encountered on the dump.

He paused momentarily to reflect upon the issue before finally arriving at the conclusion that the individual who presently stood before him was someone that he had never met before.

Saul,” said John uncertain how to address the intruder.

The figure moved forward into the center of the room but said nothing, his face was gaunt but appeared to be illuminated by a subtle jaundice that played across its features like starved candle light.

“What do you want ?” said John nervously, “Why are you here ?”

“Do you believe in me ?”, Inquired the figure directing it’s attention towards John.

John was unsure how to reply. He subconsciously understood that he was dreaming but, as is customarily the case with regards to such matters, he similarly knew that he would not be able to control the sequence of events to which it’s incident ascribed. “No”, he replied after some moments of consideration. “No, I do not”.

The intruder cast John a confused glance, “Why do you address me as ‘Saul’ if you do not believe in me ?” It said quietly.

John momentarily felt ashamed, “because I am dreaming ?” he replied simplistically.

The figure paused, “And that means I do not exist ?” It inquired casting John an ominous glance.

“Dreams are not real, only fools believe in such things”, said John blankly. It had incidentally occurred to him at the time that if the intruder was not ‘Cocolo’ then the child would, as he had earlier suspected, be entirely innocent of ‘Harvest’s’ murder. It was an absurd thought, but, within the pretext of the dream it nonetheless appeared to make perfect sense.

“I am real”, said the figure with an air of conviction, “you simply fail to acknowledge my existence”.

“If I were to testify a belief in your existence then I am afraid that I would have to consider myself mad”, replied John adamantly.

The stranger’s ability to intrude among his thoughts served to trouble him. The figure appeared capable of entering and leaving the confines his flat as he saw fit, an instance in which attributing his existence to delusion seemed, in practice, to be the only rational argument through which to explain his current presence within it’s confines.

The figure smiled, his eyes flashing momentarily with a subtle incandescence which briefly illuminated his features with an inner light before continuing, “I will prove to you that I exist”, it said slowly.

“How” said John ?.

The intruder paused before venturing response, “Upon departing from your company, I will deposit an object for you to discover in your room”.

“What object ?” said John.

“A chain of Rosary Beads” said the figure quietly, “I will leave them hanging from your door”.

John was confused, “‘Cocolo’, he muttered reflecting back upon the Rosary chain that the child had held in his possession when incarcerated in the holding cells of ‘Hamilton’s’ constabulary. “And you believe that this will prove your existence to me ?” inquired John doubtfully.

“You will know” said the intruder.

“I am skeptical”, said John attempting the humor the intruder.

The stranger’s eyes glowed mercurially as though artificially illuminated, “If you avow no faith in my existence then I similarly do not expect you to believe that it was ‘I’ who liberated the owner of the Rosary that I will leave in your room from captivity”.

John was confused, “What do you mean ?” he inquired.

“It was simple”, replied the intruder, “why would people care for the absence of one who had never, in his life, once shared affinity with them ?”

You’ freed ‘Cocolo’”, exclaimed John.

“It was not his place to be imprisoned” replied the stranger.

John decided, owing to the protracted nature of the encounter, that if he could not immediately banish the phantom from his mind then he may as well humor it. “How did you free ‘Cocolo’ ?” He inquired nervously glancing across at the intruder.

“Reality is subjective” replied the figure ambiguously, “an imposition placed before a captive audience is merely an idea.” It paused. “If such an idea is disbelieved, if it ceases to retain meaning, then the augur of oppression which it represents can simply be dissolved”.

“I don’t understand ?” said John.

“You disbelieve your dreams yet you do not understand what disbelief can be”, answered the stranger quietly, “a wall placed before those that do not avow faith in it’s existence is no more than a state of mind”.

“You mean to say that you led ‘Cocolo’ from his cell because, in refusing to acknowledge the trappings of his captivity, he simply no longer observed it to be there”, said John struggling comprehension.

“All life here is no more than an illusion”, said the intruder nebulously. “Nothing is real”.

“That is plainly preposterous”, muttered John cynically, “I am afraid that what you have to say is simply inconceivable”.

“How do you think that I entered your house ?” inquired the stranger.

John cast the child a disparaging glance. “Because you are a dream, all things are permitted within dreams”.

“I am ‘your’ dream”, answered the figure directing his attention towards John, “I have always been your dream.” It hesitated momentarily as though in pursuit of definition before adding. “And so it is that ‘you’ are mine.

“Did you kill ‘Bob Harvest’ ?”, said John nervously glancing up at the stranger, it seemed like an absurd question to ask, but it was to John’s mind at the time, the most striking example of how the workings of his imagination may appear capable of extending province into reality.

“No,” replied the figure quietly.

“Did ‘Cocolo ?’”, continued John.

“No” said the stranger.

John momentarily felt a pang of remorse rising in his stomach. “Of course…” He mused silently to himself , ‘Harvest’ had died of natural causes. He had known that. It had been his own proclivity towards suspicion which had caused him to doubt ‘Cocolo’s innocence with respect to the matter.

It had, in fact struck John, in this instance, that the figure’s observation with regards to the topic would serve to exonerate the child completely and the notion that he was presently upon the verge of being interrogated for murder by one of the most unscrupulous men on earth served to trouble him more than he would ordinarily be inclined to admit.

“Did you know that ‘Cocolo’ was found and returned to captivity after having escaped ?” said John after some moments of consideration.

John could not be sure but, for some reason, it appeared to him that the figure seemed to be ‘moved’ by the assertion. “It is supposed to be so”, it intoned slowly.

It struck John in this instance that the intruder’s proclamation was more of a question than a statement of fact. Perhaps, in choosing to defy the parameters of reality, the stranger was yet bound by the rules which governed fate.

“How is it supposed to be so ? said John.

“A bird that flies a nest is supposed to be free, one that returns to roost is supposed to be bound”, answered the intruder ambiguously.

John was perplexed but said nothing.

“Soon there will be nothing”, continued the figure. “Of all the things that have been made, nothing will be left”. It appeared to be crying.

John found it difficult to understand what the intruder was attempting to infer. “How can that be so ?”, He said after some moments of consideration.

“Years pass, epochs wither in the void, eons of dormancy upon yet older times. There are reminders, keepsakes that remain to tell us of our past. It is ours to interpret them as we see fit,” said the intruder slowly. “Virgin life continues, that is it’s nature. It reproduces and divides. Swarms and multiplies, finding havens for itself to be what is left”, it paused. “Sometimes, in extending province to institute it’s term, it is left with nothing. It does not have a chance to learn from it’s mistakes”.

“I don’t understand”, said John.

“Things conceived to last an age, do not,” replied the stranger simplistically. “Identical terms may, in falling foul of their circumstance, begin to diverge.” It hesitated. “Such things can but err, that is the way”.

John cast the figure a pathetic glance but said nothing.

“Soon there will be nothing”, continued the intruder solemnly,“Nothing will be left”.

“And what if you are wrong ?” said John, “What if your predictions are false ?”

“What would it matter ?” replied the figure shrugging. “Who would care ?”

The stranger’s assertion served to disturb John more than he liked to admit, “What do you mean ?”, he said.

“Why should it matter ?” continued the figure casting John a sober glance. “It is often said that the idea of death is inconceivable in the mind of the living or that it’s event, when survived, may represent a lesson monopolized by those who feel most adept at curtailing it’s spread.” It paused. “Both are instances in which the extinction of life does not matter. The issue is always either confronted too late or left in the hands of those that feel they able to contend it’s edict at the expense of lesser concern”.

“You are mocking me,” said John.

“My prediction will not matter because it cannot”, replied the stranger mysteriously. “How is that mockery ?”

John considered attempting to formulate a suitable answer to the intruder’s question but, perhaps for fear of protracting the conversation, instead chose to remain silent.

After having spoken, the figure appeared to tire of the discussion and retreated back into the shadows from whence it had spawned.

John rose to follow the retreat, tracing the stranger’s withdrawal into the darkness but succeeded in finding no trace of it’s whereabouts. In keeping with the character of it’s premonitions, the figure appeared to have simply evaporated.

John thought that he heard the intruder whisper the word “Remember” as it disappeared, but, for want of certainty with regards to the issue, decided to credit the intonation to the inclinations of his imagination.

Through coincidence with the event of the figure’s departure, John woke up, discovering as he did so that he had been dreaming, an instance in which he was inclined to observe that the curious realm of incident to which such things ascribed appeared somewhat predictable upon repetition.

Rising slowly to make a cup of coffee and prepare himself a joint in efforts to settle his nerves, John was drawn to noticed that there seemed to be an object hanging from the handle of his living room door.

Kneeling down to inspect the article, he discovered that it was ‘ Cocolo’s’ chain of Rosary Beads. John paused, reflecting back upon the series of events to which his dream had ascribed. The articles’s presence in the flat was, beyond the promise that had been made to him by the ghost, decidedly inexplicable.

‘Saul’, John murmured beneath his breath. The word served to inspire a curious fervor in his mind, drawing him to dwell for some peculiar reason upon the issue of religious conversion. “Was it not ‘Saul of Tarsus’ who, in beholding a vision of the holy cross whilst travelling upon the road to Damascus, had decided to change his name in efforts to pledge fealty to the Christian faith.”

Maybe there was truth in the maxim that one needed sound proof to devote belief towards things that would ordinarily appear implausible John thought as he drew the Rosary delicately through his fingers, upon immediate appraisal the article certainly seemed to represent a fairly convincing statement of fact.

“Perhaps there was also truth in the information which the spirit had chosen to impart”. John mused, “Maybe one day, he too would become a convert. Perhaps, he too, would ultimately learn to believe in ‘Saul’.

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CHAPTER 16

INQUISITION…

It has perhaps always been a curious practice among medical circles to preserve the vital organs of those that have died in states of chemical suspense in efforts to provide what, throughout the sixteenth century was known as ‘materia medica’ for usage in seminars and lectures devoted towards the education of students and trainee practitioners in the workings of the human body.

Through association with such study, no part of man’s anatomy was, in effect, observed to be spared the attention of the surgeon’s knife, stockpiles of skeletons, dismembered limbs, eviscerated organs, samples of brain tissue and hair being packaged and preserved for posthumous investigation in a variety of peculiarly pungent chemicals, an instance in which pickling alcohol, formaldehyde and even detergent were employed to retain the physical cogency of items that would, in being received by nature, ordinarily rot away.

The observations made through association with such research were usually graceless and demeaning. It seemed that doctors had, in cataloging the respective parts of the human anatomy, in hording them like impossible proofs of life’s dynamic, yet to discover the exact nature of what it was that bore them aloft.

When such understandings were, as tends to be the case in the instance of protracted investigation with regards to such matters, applied to the living in efforts to hybridize what was known of dead things with the principles that were then observed to ascribe to life, a curious alloy of different disciplines was witnessed to evolve, a cult of injury that, for want of a complete appreciation in the issues to which it chose to apply it’s attentions, was yet capable of wielding a modicum of power over life.

Certain branches of medicine became trades rather than sciences, selling the notion of their benefice as they claimed domain over the weakened sensibilities of those that then adhered to them, an instance in which, perhaps by virtue of mischance, such schools of thought were compelled to observe that the dispensation of pain without life was not an acceptable proposition, a term beneath which the trade of anesthetics was adversely perceived to retain something of it’s value holding artificial peace for as long as it may last.

It yet remained, in this respect, within the ability of the human soul to care, and when purveyed as care, even acts of butchery may appear to be sanctioned. Anesthesia was considered humane even when lethal, the vandalism that it wrought to living tissue was, in presuming specification, ultimately embraced by all.

Neither the body or it’s vestige worked as they should but what did it matter ? Like debauched worlds, the flames of their ardor could but be extinguished.

This is the story of medicine and how it began to please the soul.

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John sat upon his settee smoking a joint. He had, since his arrival upon Bermuda made it his priority to preserve a token relationship with the island’s black market economy. It was a pleasure that he had found occasion to indulge ever since he was a teenager, there had been a place for such things among the post graduate community with which he had fraternized upon leaving school and old habits died hard.

He gently inhaled the article, allowing the heavy aroma of ‘Nepeta’ which served to distinguish it’s compliment, authority over his senses.

Though frowned upon by polite society, John believed that the drug retained a reassuring quality which he found difficult to acquire anywhere else. It appeared to banish all misgiving and reliably sanctify it’s loss with the same indifference to which he felt that the narcotic had always ascribed.

He knew through association with the extensive amount of documentation devoted towards such matters that that the narcotic would ultimately ruin his health, it’s effect was entirely indiscriminate, a by product of nature which, in having been left to grow upon the shocked flank of some alpine slope, stood beyond the petty indecision of mankind, but it’s subtlety nonetheless served to please his soul, allowing his mind to extend province far beyond it’s auspice.

When he was high nothing seemed to matter, he could live an age untroubled by the prospect of demise, he could lose himself in paradise.

As he sat granting the Cannabis contained within the joint license among his thoughts, his mind came to rest upon upon the matter of ‘Cocolo’s ’, implication in the event of ‘Bob Harvest’s’ death. “Was it right that the boy should be held against his wishes among strange company when he was, to all intents and purposes, almost certainly innocent of the crimes which had served to justify his incarceration ?”

John knew that it would hardly matter in such an instance whether or not ‘Cocolo’ was convicted. “Who would care ?” But the moral side of the argument nonetheless served to trouble him. It was something of a tragedy to divest those who had only ever known freedom of their rights for no other reason than that it seemed possible to do so.

He did not in fact know why he was suddenly so interested in the child’s well being, could it be that ‘Saul had somehow entered his soul and caused him to care about such things.

He was, in this instance, drawn to confess that, following the series of dreams which had opened his mind to the possibility of ‘Saul’s’ existence, he felt quite out of touch with himself. It was as though the list of priorities to which he was conventionally inclined to avow faith, had somehow ceased to matter, leaving a moral gulf that, in itself demanding appeasement upon new and unbidden terms, would necessitate the confrontation of risks which he would ordinarily be unprepared to take in efforts to clear his conscience.

He had, by his own admission with regards to such matters, perhaps always been inclined towards rebellion, the general air of negligence beneath which he was inclined to conduct his affairs upon a daily basis had, over time, appeared increasingly hollow. If it took spiritual possession to substantiate his convictions with regards to such things, then so be it, he would go mad and face the rap, after all what was life but a period of time ?

____________________

After having finished his joint, John set about tidying his flat. He liked to keep the place presentable, it served, in some small way, to compensate for the admissible indiscretion of narcotics usage.

Some hours after having cleaned his flat John was contacted by one of ‘Portaeus’’ men informing him that his presence was required at the plutocrat’s mansion, apparently there was an issue to resolve with regards to ‘Cocolo’s erstwhile occupation of the ‘Gyre Patch’ which was deemed to demand his assistance.

____________________

It was late afternoon by the time that John finally arrived at the periphery of ‘Portaeus’’ estate. The call had been inopportune and he felt that he needed a few hours to work the Cannabis out of his system before making forth towards the location.

Upon arriving at the house John was led into a starkly lit white room that, in containing an extensive array of medical apparatus, appeared to have been converted into a make shift surgery. It seemed that, in the hours following John’s last visit to the property, ‘Cocolo’ had been moved to another room.

John cursorily scanned the chamber as he entered noting that the diverse assortment of medical tools contained within it’s horde seemed, upon first impression to be fairly comprehensive. It occurred to him that ‘Portaeus’ had, in his time, found occasion to accrue an extensive knowledge of such things.

A machine capable of administering electric shock therapy stood at the room’s center next to an operating couch decked with forceps, syringes, lancets and scalpels. The plutocrat seemed to have equipped the house with the facilities to conduct a complete medical cross examination when he decided to moved into the building.

John noticed that the scent of chloroform and detergent permeated the air of the chamber, an observation which led him to the conclusion that a surgical procedure had been conducted recently within it’s confines.

‘Portaeus’ stood poring over a sheaf of documentation which lay upon a table as John arrived. “Welcome back”, he said.

“You have moved the child”, said John mildly unnerved by the arsenal of surgical apparatus contained within the room.

“I have my ways”, said ‘Portaeus’

‘Cocolo’ was seated on a bench at the side of the chamber. He appeared to be distracted.

John extended a hand to greet the boy, a gesture which for some reason ‘Cocolo’ chose to ignore, there immediately appeared to be something wrong with him, the boy did not seem to know where he was.

“Hello”, said John attempting to distract ‘Cocolo’s’ attention a second time, there was no response, the child simply continued to stare vacantly towards the far end of the room.

John stood for some moments attempting to deduce the reason for the child’s implacability.

It immediately occurred to him that the boy had been either doped or subjected to some form of indoctrination. He waved his hand in front of the youth’s face in efforts to elicit a response but succeeded in arousing no response.

John slowly turned to face ‘Portaeus’, “What have you done to him ?” He said nervously.

“I needed answers”, replied ‘Porteaus’ blankly.

John was momentarily appalled, “Cocolo’ is only a child”, he exclaimed outraged.

“Children lie”, said ‘Porteaus’ issuing an explanatory gesture , “they both fear things and fear losing them. It is like trying to wring blood from a stone to get truth out of them”, he paused. “They need help”.

“‘This is inhumane”, said John glancing across at the battery of devices which lined the room.

“Children lie”, insisted ‘Porteaus’ directing his attention towards the boy who remained staring vacantly into space at the side of the room , “in fearing evil and seeking to honor good, they hold their truth”, he paused issuing a clarifying gesture, “it is this proclivity for deceit irrespective of intent, which serves to threaten the sanctity of other’s interests”.

“The boy should be set free”, said John troubled by ‘Cocolo’s’ predicament, “he bears no relationship with what you appear to perceive to be your agenda”.

“To the contrary he has been accepted into my house”, replied ‘Portaeus’, “as such he must be presumed to feature among my concerns”, the man paused casting John a hard glance, “don’t worry, I do not wish to retard the child’s brain, I merely desire his compliance. To clear the water you understand, no submerged motives lying concealed beneath the waves”.

“This is disgraceful”, said John. “The boy has clearly been driven out of his mind”.

‘Portaeus’ withdrew an electrode from the arsenal of instruments attached to the couch in the center of the room and, flicking a switch elicited a spark from it’s tip, “electrical induction”, he announced, “perfectly harmless, even pleasurable, you can perform wonders with it and a dab of Morphine”.

“Surely not” replied John horrified.

“It is possible to animate dismembered frog’s legs with these things,” continued ‘Portaeus’ genially allowing a glimmer of electrical discharge to play about his fingers. “Certain muscle receptors react surprisingly well to electrical stimulation,” he paused. “If you know what you are doing you can buckle a man’s mind, get blood out of a stone. Love, hate, anger fear, you can get all of these things on tap, all it takes is a little understanding”.

“Why ?” said John incredulously.

“When you own a business, you have to watch your back”, said ‘Porteaus’ in a conspiratorial manner, “you have to predict the market. If your predictions are unpopular then you have to fight your ground”.

“And,” said John nervously.

“Well”, replied ‘Portaeus’ neatly preening the lapels of his jacket. “If you lose that fight and discredit your prediction when you yet have it in you to make good upon it’s term. If you are left alone to commiserate upon the issues which pertain to your defeat, then it would be reasonable to presume that you can only blame yourself for what has befallen you”.

“What has this to do with ‘Cocolo’ ?” said John confused.

“One is left among one’s own upon the prow of a vessel that can effectively only be scuppered by it’s minion’s inter-mediation,” continued ‘Portaeus’ deftly broaching the issue. “It is here that man’s proclivity for deceit proves to be one’s worst enemy. It becomes necessary to insure that those who prevail within one’s custody are not holding out “.

“But you appear to have destroyed the boy’s mind”, exclaimed John outraged.

“He will recover”, replied ‘Portaeus’, calmly, “the human brain possesses an unerring ability to recover it’s faculties after having been placed beneath duress.

John glanced over towards the figure of ‘Cocolo’. The child appeared to be entirely unaware of his circumstance, as though having forsaken himself for the pursuit of some notional nirvana which only he was capable of perceiving.

It had occurred to John in this instance that, despite his sentiments towards what was happening, he could presently do nothing to aid ‘Cocolo’s’ plight and chose, instead. to change the conversation’s topic. “You said that you needed information from me”, he intoned directing his attention towards ‘Portaeus’.

‘Portaeus’ hesitated casting John an ominous glance, “‘Cocolo’ informed me that he was not alone on the ‘Gyre Patch’ when you found him, that there were others there with him”.

“There were two other children with him”, replied John. “They appeared to have been friends with each other for some years before my arrival upon the site”.

“He mentioned in this instance that his companions had never found occasion to live among men, that he was the only one among his company who had enjoyed what may be deemed the term an orthodox upbringing”, continued ‘Portaeus’ calmly .

“Yes, it struck me as strange”, replied John, “‘Cocolo’s’ friends said that they had always lived in on the dump, he paused, “I must confess that I initially found their convictions in the respect difficult to believe”.

“So, if I understand you correctly, these boys are still there,” murmured ‘Portaeus’ quietly.

“Only one of them”, answered John recalling the affair, “the other was incidentally shot by ‘Harvest’”, we left his body on the dump before venturing return back towards Bermuda.

‘Portaeus’ paused reflectively for a few moments before speaking. “Yes I remember being informed of the affair” he mused quietly. “Are you sure that he was dead ?”.

“As sure as I can be”, replied John, “he had sustained a massive injury to his chest, it did not seem possible that he could have survived”.

“So given that this was so, there is to your knowledge still one child running loose on the ‘Gyre Patch’ ?”, Murmured ‘Portaeus’.

“Yes” answered John nodding affirmatively, “there did not seem to be anyone else there”.

“Thank you,” said ‘Portaeus’, “that is all I had wanted to know”,

“Why does the issue concern you ?” said John.

“I have my reasons”, replied ‘Portaeus ambiguously, “I hope you realize that the child presently in my custody could, owing to the peculiarities of his upbringing, be considered a foreign national”. he added as though privately amused at the thought.

“And this is why you were compelled to detain him ?”, Inquired John nervously.

“That and the incident of ‘Harvest’s’ death”, answered ‘Portaeus’ simplistically.

John paused, “As I recall ‘Harvest’s’ death was observed to be purely circumstantial. It would be morally wrong to accuse an innocent child of murder”.

“I will let you in on a secret,” muttered Portaeus quietly, “I am, with respect to what I have learned from the boy during the period of time which he has spent in my custody, compelled to agree with that verdict”.

“You don’t think that ‘Cocolo’ killed ‘Harvest’”, said John surprised.

“I am sure that he didn’t”, answered ‘Portaeus’ casting John a sharp glance.

“So why are you still holding him ?” inquired John bemused.

“Because, at present I cannot see how he can be released back onto the island upon a safe term,” replied ‘Portaeus’ shrugging weakly, “he would simply run vagrant again”.

“What are you going to do with him ?” said John.

‘Portaeus’ smiled but said nothing.

“I hope you realize that it is wrong to hold someone against their wishes without adequate cause,” muttered John. “The boy should be released”.

“You are mad”, said ‘Porteaus’ casting John an imperious look. “Surely you must understand that the boy is safe here, I don’t see why the issue should serve to concern you”.

_________________

After having spoken ‘Portaeus’ glanced down at his watch, “I am afraid that I am rather pressed for time at the moment and will have to abbreviate the conversation”, he said gently ushering John out of the room.

After some minutes of confabulation upon matters of an indeterminate persuasion John was led out onto the Mansion’s forecourt and guided towards one of the many chauffeur driven saloons which were then observed to line it’s flank.

Upon entering the vehicle John found occasion to notice that it’s driver was not the same man who had earlier conveyed him back towards ‘Hamilton’, ‘Portaeus’ appeared to have as many people on his pay roll as there were automobiles in his driveway. Each of them, in John’s opinion, as soulless and eager to please as the cars that they drove.

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CHAPTER 17

THE ESCAPE PLAN…

It was early evening by the time that John arrived back at his flat, the trip to ‘Portaeus’ mansion had for, no apparent reason, served to exhaust him. “Maybe the sense of fatigue which he then felt was the residual toll of the Cannabis that he had smoked that morning ? Perhaps it was the result of the day’s activities ?” He could not be sure, all he knew was that he was tired.

John was, in this instance, compelled to dwell upon ‘Portaeus’’ passing words before being led from the plutocrat’s mansion. “Maybe the industrialist was right ?” He thought, reflecting back upon the series of spectral encounters that had repeatedly served to invade his peace since returning from the ‘Gyre Patch’. “Perhaps he was mad ?” But he nonetheless found it difficult to concede that the evidence of torture which had been observed to occur upon the house’s grounds were acceptable.

As John mused upon the matter, he was inexorably drawn to the conclusion that Something had to be done to spare ‘Cocolo’ from ‘Porteaus’’ continued attentions. The notion that the boy should end his days institutionalized among the backwaters of society after having ostensibly survived for so long beyond the conventions of mankind served to strike him as tragic. There had to be some way to restore the child to grace.

Sitting on his settee John found occasion to refer back upon the events which had served to distinguish the preceding hours, particularly to the peculiarities which seemed to represent the current term of Cocolo’s imprisonment.

He felt certain, in this instance that the methodology which ‘Portaeus’ appeared to be employing in efforts to extract truth from the boy were wrong.

From what he could deduce, the plutocrat’s strategy with regards to the issue, seemed to resemble an act of calculated opportunism, a cruelty which, in being sanctioned by what John perceived to be the child’s comparative insignificance among the man’s affairs, could theoretically be swept beneath some bureaucratic carpet without raising issue.

The thought served to trouble him. He had initially been concerned about the possibility that ‘Cocolo’s’ liberty was being impugned by the island’s authorities. They had really possessed no right to presume jurisdiction over him, and the evidence of psycho-surgical molestation presently suggested by his treatment beneath ‘Portaeus’’ care correspondingly served to cause John genuine concern.

He sat speculating upon exactly what it was that the plutocrat planned to do with the child, knowing that the youth had no family as such and was entirely unacquainted with anyone on Bermuda except perhaps the body of medics who were observed to man the island’s constabulary. Before deciding, in a moment of sudden vindication, that he would attempt to free the boy from custody and return him to the ‘Gyre Patch’, if only to resolve the moral question which the present term of his captivity was observed to represent.

In being granted opportunity to reflect upon the issue, John felt with increasing conviction that this was what he would be forced to do in efforts to appease his conscience with respect to such matters.

The question was “how ?” He could not simply break into ‘Portaeus’ mansion and remove the youth from custody, the man had secured the place against intrusion more comprehensively than a military installation, unlawful access across it’s preserves was out of the question.

He spent some time speculating upon the issue, perhaps he could ‘negotiate’ Cocolo’s freedom.

‘Portaeus’ was essentially a businessman, an individual who spent much of his time wringing deals from industrial concerns. “Maybe he could contrive a pretext through which to except ‘Cocolo’ from custody for long enough to return him to the dump ?”

He paused momentarily to reflect upon the matter.

There was to his mind at the time absolutely no viable pretense through which to remove the boy from the plutocrat’s custody other than perhaps ‘Bob Harvest’s’ death, “but how, in this instance, could his former associate’s demise be construed to represent a viable excuse to separate ‘Cocolo’ from ‘Portaeus’ ?”

John sat for some time dwelling upon the issue. The relationship between ‘Bob Harvest’ and ‘Cocolo’ had, for as long as it lasted, effectively been good. The man had, in the time that he had known the child, been perhaps the closest thing to a friend that the boy had known following his arrival upon Bermuda.

It had occurred to John in this instance that the man’s death could, within reason, be presumed to ‘matter’ to the child, and that this would, in effect, be the best axis of negotiation at his disposal.

John hesitated momentarily sifting the details to which the issue pertained slowly through his mind.

“Perhaps he could infer that ‘Cocolo’ should visit ‘Harvest’s’ grave to pay the man his last respects ?” ‘Portaeus’ was a Roman Catholic, the idea would appeal to him. “Maybe there, at Harvest’s graveside, away from the arsenal of security devices which were then observed to pike the estate’s bounds, he would be granted the liberty to effect the mandate of his plan ?”

It was an insane idea which would, in proposing to defy the intentions of perhaps one of the most powerful men one earth, serve to discredit him, ruining his prospects for successful career, if not, judging from the evidence presented by the plutocrat’s treatment of the child currently in his possession, to entirely destroy him.

“Why would he choose to sacrifice his ambitions for the sake of a young boy ?” The idea made no sense, not even to himself. “Maybe he really was mad ?”

He paused reflectively for some moments to dwell upon the issue. “Maybe ‘Saul’ had, in invading his mind as he lay sleeping at night, served to bless what he then felt to be the closed vista of his world with a new sense of perspective, a new initiative through which to right all the wrongs that, beneath the spirit’s guidance, he then perceived to be occurring ?”

“What if there was more ?” Thought John, a new equation which would, in measuring the vast schemes of nature against the predilections of mankind, see fit to mock the general absence of integrity espoused upon a daily basis by those that were compelled to believe in such things. “What if ‘Saul’ were right ? What if life on Bermuda was no more than illusion when placed before the moral premium upon which it appeared to ride ?”

He could not be sure, all he knew was that ‘Cocolo’ was being wronged by ‘Porteaus’ and that his decision in how the issue should be resolved would be the difference between forging a new beginning for the child and facilitating a continuation of the half truths which were observed to cloud his conscience.

John felt in this instance that he would need to win grace from ‘Portaeus’ to consolidate his plan. It’s success would, to all intents and purposes, depend upon the plutocrat’s agreement in certain matters.

_______________________________

Two days passed before John found occasion to return to ‘Portaeus’’ mansion. He had wished to make the man a proposition, regarding the possibility of ‘Cocolo’s’ temporary discharge from custody and arranged to meet with the plutocrat to discuss the issue..

It took John about half an hour to travel across town after having hired a cab from one of Hamilton’s local taxi ranks and, within time, he duly found himself standing upon the pebble dashed forecourt of the plutocrat’s estate.

Hastily disembarking from the vehicle, John strolled towards the house and dutifully rang it’s door bell, waiting in time honored fashion for one of the establishment’s ground staff to greet him.

Within a matter of minutes, the building’s door opened and John was led into ‘Portaeus’’ study.

The man was sitting by the room’s window reading a newspaper in the harsh light of morning that then scoured the room’s confines. “Hello.” he said courteously rising to greet John, “So what brings you out to this neck of the woods ?”

John paused before replying, “I have been thinking about ‘Cocolo’”, he said, “I had wanted to know whether or not he had expressed any sentiments towards ‘Bob Harvest’s’ death during his time with you”.

“Why do you ask ?” Inquired ‘Portaeus’ amiably .

“The man was like a father to him,” answered John, “I thought that the death might have mattered to the boy”.

“He doesn’t talk much about it”, said ‘Porteaus’ abstractly.

John hesitated mustering his resolve, “I thought, taking into consideration that the two shared a fairly intimate relationship with each other, that it would be right to allow the child to pay ‘Harvest’ his respects”.

“Why ?” inquired ‘Portaeus’ surprised, “the boy has expressed no wish to do so ?”

“They were close”, said John, “It had seemed like the decent thing to do”.

“‘Portaeus’ paused casting John an uncertain glance, “And how do you propose that the boy should pay his dues ?”

“It is the custom to lay wreaths on the graves of the departed,” replied John plaintively , “I thought that ‘Cocolo’ could, taking into consideration the relationship that he was observed to share with ‘Harvest’, at least do the man this service”.

“You want the child to place a garland on ‘Harvest’s’ tomb” ? Said ‘Portaeus’ amused, “I don’t think that he would understand the significance of such a convention”.

“It would be appropriate”, replied John shrugging his shoulders, “if only as a formality”.

“Very well”, said ‘Portaeus’ after devoting some moments of consideration to the matter, “When do you require the boy’s company ?”

“I had set a few hours aside to visit ‘Harvest’s’ grave at the weekend”, answered John quietly, “it would probably be the best time to conduct the affair”.

“At the weekend,” muttered ‘Porteaus’ circumspectly. “When ?”

“Saturday afternoon is as good a time as any”, replied John calmly.

“As you wish”, said ‘Portaus’ summarily, “I will assign a chauffeur to escort the boy to the churchyard in which ‘Harvest’ was buried at two o’clock on Saturday afternoon, he can pay his respects then”, the plutocrat paused, “I will even send a garland myself, ‘Harvest’ had also been a friend of mine and I would not wish to appear irreverent”.

John smiled but said nothing.

“Anything else ?” ‘inquired Portaeus’ slowly returning to his seat.

“Would it be possible to see ‘Cocolo’ ? ”, said John.

“Why ?” Inquired ‘Portaeus’

“I am concerned about his welfare”, replied John.

‘Portaeus’ paused, “You are worried that the child has been harmed ?” he muttered after some moments of consideration.

“He seemed phased yesterday”, answered John.

“I assure you that he is fine,” replied ‘Portaeus’ smiling genially, “the cross-examination was merely a means of extracting truth from the boy, to insure that he was not holding out. It’s effect is only temporary”.

“Would it be possible for me to see him ?” insisted John.

“Very well”, said ‘Portaeus’ circumspectly shrugging his shoulders, “follow me”.

The man rose and led John into the chamber in which ‘Cocolo’ had been held prior to his interrogation. The boy was sitting staring intently at a picture book which he had presumably been given upon being moved to the room by a member of the estate’s medical team.

“Hello.” said John attempting to attract he child’s attention.

The youth glanced up and walked towards the perspex sheet which, as before, served to divide the room in two. “Hello”, he replied smiling.

John noticed that the boy appeared to have re-gained his senses following their last meeting and appeared to be alert.

“Are you well ?” he inquired cursorily inspecting the child’s attire, observing that ‘Portaeus’ had taken efforts to wash him and clothe him in a loose fitting square cut cotton garment of the variety conventionally worn by medical orderlies.

“Cocolo’ nodded.

“That’s good” said John. He was pleased to observe that the youth seemed to have suffered no ill effects following his ordeal.

“I have spoken with the person who is holding you here”, announced John after some moments of consideration, “he says that you will be allowed to join me in paying your respects to ‘Bob Harvest””.

‘Cocolo’ appeared to be confused but said nothing.

“You remember ‘Bob Harvest’”, continued John performing a crude impersonation of his erstwhile friend, “the person that you stayed with when you first arrived here”.

“You said that he had died,” said ‘Cocolo’.

“He has”, announced John issuing an explanatory gesture, “when people die, it is the custom to bury their bodies”, he paused momentarily in efforts to explain himself. “Because they are no longer with us, we are compelled to honor their memory”.

“To honor their memory ?”, repeated ‘Cocolo’ uncertainly.

“To commemorate the times that we had shared with them in life”, said John issuing a clarifying gesture.

“Why ?” inquired the boy.

“It is all that we can do,” said John plaintively, “we cannot reverse the edict of fate”.

“They are gone forever”, said the child casting John an inquisitive glance. “why do you bother ?”

“Because being gone forever deserves respect” replied John dully. “We visit their graves to pay our dues”.

‘Cocolo’ looked perplexed. “To say goodbye ?”, he murmured after some moments of consideration.

“Yes”, answered John. “To say goodbye”.

“Why ?” mused ‘Cocolo’

“It is customary to do so”, exclaimed John. “It is the least we can do”.

‘Cocolo’ said nothing.

“It will be an adventure,” continued John attempting to engage the child.

“An adventure ?”, repeated the boy.

“Yes”, said John, “You have never visited a church before. It will be an experience”.

As the two spoke, a member of the medical unit that had been assigned to assist in the child’s care approached “Don’t put the lad under too much pressure”, he announced gently drawing John away from the sheet of perpex which served to divide the room, “he is still recovering from therapy”.

“We were only catching up on old times”, answered John smiling.

“He needs a chance to recover”, said the medic casting John an officious glance, “maybe it would be better for you to conduct your conversation at some other time”.

“Very well”, replied John with an air of resignation, “I will see myself out”.

The two duly parted company and John was escorted to a chauffeur driven saloon, a mode of conveyance, which, as before smoothly swept him back to his flat with little intermediary distraction.

____________________

Upon leaving ‘Portaeus’ residence John decided that, owing to the plutocrat’s agreement with regards to the matter of the ‘Cocolo’s discharge, he was immediately capable of putting the plan that he had earlier contrived into practice.

The child would effectively be his for at least two hours in the old churchyard by the quayside where ‘Harvest’ was buried, a period during which he felt with an increasing degree of conviction that he could successfully effect the detail of the boy’s abduction.

John sat musing for some minutes over the logistical equation to which his scheme, as it then appeared to him, could be manifested.

He would need to hire a boat, a powered yacht or a small trawler to take the boy out into open water after having visited the cemetery. He felt sure that such a thing would be relatively easy to arrange on Bermuda, ‘Hamilton’ supported a thriving fishing industry and there were, to his mind, plenty of sailors willing to loan their vessels to tourists within it’s vicinity for recreational usage if the money was right.

Once out at sea John felt that it should be relatively easy to the make headway back towards the ‘Gyre Patch’. It was only about twenty miles off Bermuda’s North coast, a three hour journey.

He could deposit the boy back upon the dump and make it home before nightfall. His conscience would be clear and ‘Cocolo’ would be granted the opportunity to continue with the life that he should, in John’s opinion, have led before the incident of human intervention among his affairs.

It seemed inconceivable thought John, pausing at length to reflect upon the details of the scheme as it then seemed to him. The kidnap of a vagrant child from custody, his precarious reinstatement back upon the terrain from which he had once spawned. “Why would he choose to do such a thing, it made no rational sense ?”

It had, in fact, crossed John’s mind in this instance that he would be disgraced by his involvement in what he was then proposing to achieve. ‘Portaeus’ was not an individual who men willingly crossed, and to do so willingly would, within reason, spite the man’s ire.

The possibility served to trouble him. “Maybe he would conclude his life condemned as a madman before the bluff certitude of common wisdom for having crossed the industrialist ?” “Maybe he would win a degree of respect for having presumed province among the man’s conceits ?” He did not know why he had wished to conclude things this way. “Maybe it represented an answer to what he had, for many years, observed to be the comparative impotence of human sentiment in the matter of it’s destiny ?” A panacea of sorts, an irrational act of rebellion devised to shirk fate’s thrall for no other reason than it seemed possible to do so.

John could not be sure, all he knew was that ‘Cocolo’ belonged back where he had started, upon the ‘Gyre Patch’ in the Sargasso. It had been the boy’s removal from the dump which had caused ‘Harvest’s’ death bringing ‘Portaeus’ to Bermuda and the child’s presence on the island that had, through association with ‘Saul’, served to blight his mind with thoughts of spectral visitation as he lay asleep at night.

Whatever the true motives of his decision in this respect were, John felt that he no longer wished to ride heedlessly along the path towards which his life presently appeared to be bound. He wanted to return back to an earlier juncture in his past and, in avoiding the turn of events to which his current circumstance ascribed, start afresh from there.

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CHAPTER 18

THE FISHER KING…

As one may imagine, before the era of satellite navigation, the thought of setting forth upon ocean going voyages was, although frequently reduced, among those inclined to pass casual opinion upon such issues to a matter of convenience, perhaps one of the most harrowing prospects that, when fully appreciated, may arise to confound sense with the possibility of unknown shortcoming and the threat of death.

The blank face of the sea, it’s endless scheme, extending for mile after mile upon indifferent tides. It’s ability to harbor unseen risks, submerged reefs, icebergs, whales and sharks, it’s inclination towards extreme, periods of unremitting stagnation being broken only by episodes of relentless fury. A gauntlet of hazards that, in serving to complicate marine trespass, similarly saw fit to scorn any platitude which may be perceived to diminish it’s danger.

Although, in contemporary terms, it is relatively easy to attribute the sheer implacability which the sea must once be presumed to have represented within the human mind to the primitive specification of the vessels that were initially employed to scour it’s surface, the risks inherent in oceanic transit may, in effect, even now be observed to preserve much of their gravity among those compelled to try their provision when poorly equipped. The sea remains exactly as it has always been though the technology may have changed.

Having been derived from the practice of skipping coastlines in pursuit of safe harbor, the convention of plotting naval charts was, during the period of oceanic exploration which occurred in Europe during the eighteenth century, observed to collude with the usage of the astrolabe, a small hand held device employed to gauge the location of the Pole Star above open water, in efforts to permit the estimation of a given vessel’s location once out of port.

The two methods of orientation were, in this sense, perceived to conspire with each other to the effect of creating a unique reference frame, a language which, in being peculiar to the conventions of naval excursion was, to all intents and purposes, predisposed towards any ignorance that it may be inclined to sustain through association with the unorthodox nature of it’s measure.

Although perhaps prone to oversight, the system miraculously appeared to work. It served to divide the countries of the earth and estimate the extent of the fluid expanses that lay between them.

It even developed a map of the stars, charting the dimensions of space as they then appeared to the naked eye when viewed through a telescope from the deck of a ship.

Whether or not the observations which were made through association with such activities at that time were entirely true may be observed to remain a matter of conjecture, such things were, judging from the extensive body of literature presently devoted to the matter, simply taken for granted.

It was after all, the only science which men of a nautical persuasion had ever needed and the only geography that those who learned from them had ever known.

_______________________

‘Hamilton’s’ harbor was, in preserving the variety of aesthetic charm to which island ports are customarily inclined, a cluttered affair festooned with an assortment of small vessels that bobbed like trains of confetti in receding file out towards the sea.

The sheer variety of boats which the port boasted never failed to impress John, there were yachts which, in being employed by wealthy brokers to exploit the finer aspects of Hamilton’s geography, keened like sharks against the quay, trawlers used by fishermen to furnish the city’s market stalls with food, industrial ships and freighters held en route to America, even a small contingent of tramp steamers and paddle boats designed to please tourists staying on the island.

It struck him, surveying the garish profusion of assorted vessels which then floated in the water before him, that the harbor was, in terms of it’s diversity, not so different from the dump, a mottled expanse that, in being surfed by a multitude of different interests, appeared as though it had been stitched together by act of mischance. A process through which the port was, in miraculously proving capable of fostering purpose from what seemed to be the brink of it’s collapse, witnessed to preserve a curious quality which eluded immediate categorization. It persisted like a game worn through with the novelty of it’s own antiquity or an archetype stitched together from the sum of it’s parts, defying the efforts invested in it’s contrivance with a rustic nonchalance that simply weathered the flow.

It often seemed to John whenever he found occasion to patrol the city’s coastal routes that everyone on Bermuda owned at least one boat. It was in the island’s blood, the sea was an asset which simply could not be ignored.

Descending cautiously down towards the dock John made his way to the harbor master’s office in efforts to discover whether or not anyone presently moored at the port would be willing to loan their vessel for a short trip to ‘St.Georges’.

Initially the harbor master seemed undecided. It had appeared to be an unusual request to make at such short notice, an instance in which he observed that there were customarily a number of preliminary terms to be settled with regards to the issue of boat hire. Sailors, being acquainted with the unpredictability of the sea, were conventionally inclined to insure themselves against the possibility of loss and demanded adequate protection before agreeing to part with their vessels. However, after some minutes of cross reference with regards to the matter, the man nonetheless succeeded in finding an old mariner who he believed would be willing to conduct trade for a nominal fee.

John was duly led out onto the quay and introduced to a retired trawler man named ‘Bill O’Leary’, an individual who, in ascribing to every epithet conventionally reserved for men of nautical stock, being of a ruddy complexion with pearled eyes and white hair, owned a small fishing boat that had long since been resigned from usage.

“The Harbor Master says you want to hire my boat,” announced ‘O’Leary’ casually directing his attention towards John.

“That’s right”, replied John casting the sailor a speculative glance, “I have family and want to take a weekend trip up to St. George’s”.

“How much are you offering ?” said ‘O’Leary’.

“I don’t know”, answered John, “What’s the going rate ?”

“A hundred dollars” said ‘O’Leary’ with a weary squint, “five hundred cover”, he paused. “I’ll reimburse you upon your return”.

John stepped back to survey the vessel which ‘O Leary’ was proposing to loan him, an old fishing boat which, in having been mauled by repeated service may, he thought, at one time have been painted red.

“She’s not much”, muttered ‘O’Leary’ casting John a casual glance, “but she’s seaworthy”.

“You are sure ?” inquired John.

“She’s a good ship,” said O’Leary, “I used to bring in a good haul off the coast in her during my youth, ‘Lungfish’, ‘Rockfish’, ‘Lobster’, ‘Tuna’, even ‘Turtles’ and ‘Marlin’ at certain times of year. Since my retirement I started to hire her out, mainly for recreational reasons. Prospecting for fish is a popular sport in Bermuda and islanders frequently need a sturdy vessel to engage in it’s pursuit”, he paused. “I am surprised that you are not planning to catch anything during your trip”.

“Maybe I will “ replied John circumspectly. “I have yet to decide”.

“How long will you be out for ?” Inquired O’Leary casting John a weary glance.

“About six hours” answered John, “a round trip”.

“She sits nicely on open water when you get her out of port”, continued ‘O’Leary’ candidly, “I can remember angling for Marlin off her prow during my youth, beautiful fish, fastest in the sea, they used to call them swordfish when I was a boy, said they were the devil’s messengers, because they came in with the sharks and the gulls during squalls”, he paused, “best game I ever caught”.

“You must have learned a lot from your years at sea”, said John conversationally.

“You need courage to face open water” said ‘O‘Leary’, “even more so when you become familiar with what lies beneath it’s surface. There are things out there that have yet to be discovered, they ply the waves like shadows evading the light”, he paused, “people who see fit to testify with any conviction that they do not fear the sea, are plainly unfamiliar with it’s ability to hold secrets. I, for one, am still inclined to practice caution when I stray too far from port”.

“I shall not be travelling far from the coast”, said John with a re-assuring gesture, “I doubt that I will be troubled by such things ?”

“She’s a good boat”, said ‘O’Leary’ confidently, “she’s done fine service. I have never had any problems with her”, he paused, “When will you need her ?”

“Will Saturday afternoon be alright ?” said John.

“It’s short notice”, replied O’Leary furrowing his brow, “but it should be fine, she’’ll do nothing other than rust at port if she doesn’t get a taste of the sea in her bows over the next few years”.

“John extracted a brown leather wallet from his pocket and leafed through it’s contents before handing the sailor six hundred Bermudan dollars, “when can I have the keys ?” He inquired circumspectly.

“Friday,” said O’Leary casting John an am amiable glance, “I will need a few days to tune her engine”.

“Very well”, replied John, “I will return here on Friday.

____________________

After having arranged the details of the voyage John made forth towards the church were ‘Harvest’ was buried, in efforts to plan the exact sequence of events which would transpire in the event of his plan’s fruition. The establishment’s cemetery was about five minutes walk from the quay.

As John stared out across the graveyard’s riven flank, he contended that he would be able to call ‘Cocolo’ aside fairly easily beneath the pretense that he wished to impart him with some form of confidence, a diversion which, in separating the boy from the men that ‘Porteaus’ would presumably have assigned to guard over him, would ultimately grant him grace to make forth towards the water’s edge, where ‘O’Leary’s’ boat would duly be awaiting his convenience.

Once out at sea he estimated that it should be fairly easy to make it back to the ‘Gyre Patch’, then at least, he would be able to re-instate the child upon his home turf.

____________________

After having visited the church John walked into ‘Hamilton’ satisfied that, in the brief time at his disposal, he had at least managed to finalize some small part of his escape strategy.

It had, in fact occurred to him, as he strolled casually across town that, if ‘Portaeus’ decided to ambush his boat whilst it was out in open water then he may yet be cheated of his opportunity to return the boy to the dump, but supposed that, owing to the degree of inter-mediation necessary to organize such a rout, he would nonetheless make it back to the ‘Gyre Patch’ before the plutocrat’s men realized what was happening.

Returning back to his flat John deftly flicked a small portable radio situated upon a coffee table in the center of his living room to life in efforts to catch up on global events.

There had been a forest fire in California, a Mars landing financed by a leading software company, a bombing at a General Hospital on the West coast of America, a protest riot staged upon a university campus and the state execution of an African man who had, after having emigrated to the United States aboard a refugee ship, been accused of committing murder.

John reached forth to turn the device off, playing audience to such news tended to make him feel that even sensationalism was commonplace.

Reclining back on his settee he decided to roll a joint, extracting the necessary paraphernalia to achieve his task from an ornamental box located upon a shelf situated in the corner of his living room.

“Maybe ?”, he mused, as he fastidiously ground a bud of Marijuana into the woven entrails of a debauched cigarette, “his scheme would also make it into the news, there to share column space with the good and the great, a moment of irrationality in a world devoted to such things ?”

The thought served to amuse him, he had learned to doubt the astringent pang of predetermined news. It inferred that the conventions of clerical preparation stood beyond their incident.

Deftly lighting the joint in his hand, John’s thoughts returned momentarily to dwell upon ‘Saul’, the spectral child that whether by accident or design, had appeared to sanction his decision to embark upon his current course of action.

Who ‘was’ Saul ? He thought abstractly inhaling a plume of smoke, “was he a manifestation of some deeper inclination in the human soul, a sprite that, in being assigned towards the instigation of rebellion, sought to wring change from complacency ?”

“Had he possessed a life before his appearance in the peculiar belief framework which the three boys had devised upon the ‘Gyre Patch’. The reincarnation of some figure long since forsaken by the grandiose comparisons to which past event may be observed to ascribe, a wraith cursed to commiserate the outcome of some long forgotten war or an elemental driven towards minimalist profundity for want of substance within formal convention ?”

“Who ‘was’ Saul ? Was he, in having survived his own edict for long enough to grow wise, of immortal pedigree, an ancient cast in the aspect of a child, a being who, in having grown weary with both law and crime alike, may see fit to wager contrariety against itself, sanctioning amorality and delusion to preserve his fold from the blank imperatives of certitude that, when blindly pursued, could be perceived to seal it’s doom ?”

John did not know, the mystery eluded him, all he knew was that his encounter with the ghost had served to free him from the convictions which he was inclined to sustain with regards to what was possible.

If the human soul was, as he was drawn to believe when influenced by ‘Saul’s’ presence among his thoughts, not judged by the incestuous provision of it’s fellows but, instead, by a fabric of wider issues which lay beyond their notice, then a re-appraisal was necessary with respect to the moral initiatives that may be presumed to bear mankind’s priorities aloft. John felt that he would, in effect, need to do what ‘he’ thought right rather than adhere to the dictum of others.

____________________

Two days passed before John returned to the harbor to effect the reclamation of the keys which ‘Bill O’Leary’ had promised to him. The old sailor was sitting as before on the prow of his vessel watching the tide dance against the noon in the distance.

“Come aboard,” he said, offering John a casual greeting.

John stepped onto the vessel, noting that, in appearing to have suffered to the elements, it’s structure was surprisingly sound. It seemed that O’Leary had taken efforts to maintain the boat since his retirement and, though grazed, by years of usage, it managed to retain the variety of quaint charm to which such things customarily circumscribe.

“Here are are the keys,” said O’Leary plucking a leather fob from his pocket. “There are three of them, one for the cabin, one for the hold and one for the ignition. There should be enough diesel in the tank to get you to ‘St. George’s’ and back, if you need more then there is an auxiliary supply of fuel in the bow”.

“Thank you”, said John placing the vessel’s keys in his pocket. “I will try to take care of her”.

“That should be it”, muttered ‘O’Leary’ summarily. “If you have any problems there is an intercom in the cabin which should put you through to the harbor master’s office”.

“It is unlikely that I will need to resort to such things”, replied John. “It is only a family outing”.

“Well then I hope you enjoy your trip”, said O’Leary affecting a tidy salute, “I will reimburse your forward after you have returned”.

John laughed, “What could go wrong ?” he said jovially bidding the sailor farewell and returning back into town.

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CHAPTER 19

HALLOWED GROUND…

In terms of representing hard evidence with regards to issues of an historical persuasion the multitude of epitaphs written upon the many tomb stones which find occasion to furnish urban cemeteries is without doubt one of the most irrefutable resources that presently exist through which to deduce the event of occurrences which may, in the past, be presumed to have imperiled human life.

One can, for example, theoretically date the event of both epidemics and wars by correlating their circumstance with a marked rise in the amount of burials conducted during certain years, tallying the number of interments which occur at given points in time with whatever else is known of the periods to which they ascribe

In London, 1830, was such a time. The cemetery evidence remaining from this period representing such a stark testament to human fatality, that it would, within reason, be observed to demand explanation. “How could so many people have died at once during the period to which such evidence ascribes when the period was, in historical tracts devoted to such things, contrarily observed to be a time of comparative peace and prosperity ?”

One may, in attempting to resolve the puzzle that such evidence represents, be compelled, for example, to mistrust conventional historical references pertaining to such things. There was, in this instance, a ‘Potato Famine’, but that was in Ireland, there was also ‘The Great Stink’ in London but that was not considered lethal.

“What could possibly have caused such a dramatic rise in the number of burials which were observed to have been performed throughout the period placed beneath investigation ?” The figures seemed to border upon a cultural extinction yet they were coincidentally witnessed to correspond with perhaps one of the most productive periods in the city’s architectural growth. “Had there been a cover up ?” The contradiction appeared to make no sense.

Upon closer investigation the solution to the riddle was ironically observed to lie in the foundation date of the graveyards themselves.

London had, before the early nineteenth century, been a walled city which, for the sake of convenience was inclined to bury it’s dead in walled cemeteries that were witnessed to fester and fume in an unappealing manner above ground level, a predicament which, when alloyed to underlying fears pertaining to the spread of contagion, was noted to have inspired the large scale relocation of virtually every grave entrenched within the city since the time of it’s conception.

A thousand years of human death had, in effect, been buried at once during the mid nineteenth century, an instance in which many of the remains were ostensibly unaccountable but for the date applied to their re-interment.

It had seemed, in this instance, that the rose upon which the city had rested was sick and needed to be pruned, it’s cellophane had been wrinkled in the mail.

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John arrived at the churchyard at about midday, approximately two hours before he was due to meet ‘Cocolo’ .

He could see the harbor gently receding out towards the sea from the cemetery’s Western flank as he stood awaiting the child’s company.

It had occurred to him at the time that, with regards to the matter of interment, the plot was about as exposed as any on earth, the layers of soil which served to cover the graveyard’s fallen catalog seemed, in a peculiarly unforgiving manner, to represent an inadequate defense against the encroachment of the elements that mustered at their girth.

He believed, as he stood waiting, that he could even see ‘O’Leary’s’ boat bobbing in the tide in the lee of the harbor alongside the flotilla of other vessels that jostled for space pending oceanic excursion, it would only take him a matter of minutes to make it down to the vessel once ‘Cocolo’ had arrived, then he would be free to make his way up the coast without further interference.

The church was, although crafted in the customary manner with Gothic windows and an ornate spire, little more than a chapel, a place for resting the island’s dead.

John imagined that alongside ‘Harvest’s’ tomb, many of the graves situated upon the site belonged to sailors, there was about two hundred years of history associated with the place much of it naval.

At approximately two’o’clock a black limousine drew up into the establishment’s car park. It was ‘Cocolo’ accompanied by one of ‘Portaeus’’ chauffeurs.

John was inclined to observe that the presence of such a vehicle alongside what would ordinarily be considered a parish meeting house appeared oddly sinister. It had seemed to him at that time as though commerce and tradition were inclined to keep things from each other.

The driver opened the automobile’s boot and withdrew a large garland from it’s confines. ‘Porteaus’ had, as promised, donated a wreath for ‘Harvest’s’ grave, it would surely put the sparse offering of floral bouquets that were due to surround it to shame.

The pair slowly approached John. It seemed that ‘Cocolo’ had been granted the honor of laying the garland, for the obligation of carrying it appeared to have been conferred upon him.

“Sad place”, said the Chauffeur cursorily greeting John.

“Last Chance Saloon”, replied John circumspectly, “I don’t think that it receives many visitors”.

“Did he have any family ?”, inquired the chauffeur directing his attention towards ‘Harvest’s’ grave.

“Not on the island”, answered John,”I think we will be the only one’s paying our dues”.

“Pity”, said the chauffeur, “a man deserves respect”.

“It’s the same with large cemeteries” muttered John reflectively, “as they fill up those inclined to mourn their catalog dwindle”.

“Generational thing”, replied the chauffeur circumspectly, “love lies bleeding”.

“It lays the foundations” muttered John abstractly.

“Nothing ventured nothing gained”, replied the chauffeur disconsolately.

John knelt down to assist ‘Cocolo’ in the laying of the wreath, “It is the custom to place such things against the headstone of the deceased”, he said adjusting the article’s position on the tomb.

“I prefer it on the ground with the flowers”, replied ‘Cocolo’.

John cast the child a curious glance. “Such things last longer when placed upright,” he said gently setting the wreath against ‘Harvest’s’ headstone. “It keeps them dry”.

“Cocolo’ seemed confused, “You tell me that I will ruin things that are supposed to be soiled, why can I not choose how they should be arranged ?”

John was unnerved by what he observed to be the boy’s proclivity towards irreverence with regards to the matter. “Because you can’t”, he said summarily. “Such things are not subject to debate, they must be conducted in an appropriate manner”.

‘Cocolo’ looked hurt, “why can I not choose ?” He said after some moments of consideration.

“Because you are young,” replied John simplistically, “and the traditions associated with funerary rites pertain to an idea of decorum which stands beyond the predilections of youth”, he paused. “People don’t live forever, their lives come to an end. Insuring that the rituals which relate to the event of their demise are practiced correctly is the least that can be done by those who yet remain to honor the dead”.

‘Cocolo’ glanced down coldly at Harvest’s grave. “If people are good, death is not the end”, he said introspectively.

John paused, momentarily uncertain of what the child appeared to be attempting to infer. He was himself inclined to observe that, in being raised to distinguish good from evil, most people preserved a vestigial appreciation of virtue throughout the course of their lives, a pretext beneath which it was ostensibly inconsiderate to entirely condemn their frailties, but the boy was wrong to suppose death inconclusive. Men were mortal, there was no ulterior agenda .

“I am afraid that I must disagree with you”, he announced after some moments of reflection upon the matter. “Life comes to an end, there is no more”.

‘Cocolo’ looked troubled, “you believe that ?” he said quietly.

“I must believe it” answered John, “such things stand beyond question”.

‘Cocolo’ seemed dismayed but said nothing.

“I apologize,” said John, “I did not wish to upset you, but funerary rites demand a degree of respect”.

“Do you seek to control them ?” said ‘Cocolo’

“Control who ? inquired john.

“The dead”, whispered ‘Cocolo’ reaching out and touching the lapel of John’s jacket gently with his hand.

“Don’t be absurd”, replied John incredulously, “The dead are dead, they stand beyond such things.” He paused physically withdrawing from the child’s touch. “There is only earth, earth mingled with blood, earth, a stone and a wreath, surely you must know that”.

‘Cocolo’ paled appearing momentarily jaundiced in the overcast that then hung over the cemetery.“‘You’ know that”, he replied casting John a narrow squint.

“We both know that”, answered John throwing a concessionary glance back towards the boy,

‘Cocolo’ remained silent.

“We should say a prayer,” continued John collecting himself.

“What is a prayer ?” Inquired ‘Cocolo’ perplexed.

“A request to God,” replied John impatiently

“Who is God ?” Said the child.

“Someone who is always right,”said John, he momentarily felt embarrassed. “Was it right to force people that avowed no faith in God to recant prayers in his name ?” The question served to trouble him, surely such an entreaty would appear profane.

He knelt down to address ‘Cocolo’. “I will recite a prayer and you will repeat it after me”.

‘Cocolo’ looked confused, “Why ?” He inquired quietly.

“Because it is the custom to do so,” replied John simplistically, “like this”, he said recanting a short passage of verse and prompting the child towards a repetition of it’s meter.

‘Cocolo’ paused momentarily before hesitantly following John’s example.

After having spent some minutes educating ‘Cocolo’ in the conventions that were observed to ascribe to the reiteration of prayers, John stepped towards ‘Harvest’s’ grave and, placing his hands together against his chest began to recite the meter of a traditional Roman Catholic burial sermon.

“In our hands oh lord”

“We humbly entreat our brothers and sisters”

“In this life you embraced them with your tender love”

“Deliver them from every evil”

“And bid them eternal rest”

“The old order has passed away”

“Welcome them into paradise”

“Where there will be no sorrow no weeping, no pain”.

“But fullness of peace and joy”

“With your son and the holy spirit”

“Forever and ever”

“Amen”

The entreaty had seemed ironic John thought as he drew the prayer to a close, sorrow was, in being perhaps the only value that he had ever truly loved, the primary motive behind the many conventions to which funerary practice ascribed.

The idea caused him to reflect briefly upon the wisdom of those who had initially drafted the passage that he had been compelled to repeat, a train of thought which drew him to the conclusion that, in being intended for the dead, such sermons saw fit to draw a distinction between what was known of life’s physical limitations and some notion of peace which it may never truly know. After all, what more could be done in the instance of death other than to hope for the best in the hereafter.

As John finished the recital his thoughts came to rest upon how he should separate ‘Cocolo’ from the chauffeur, observing, with regards to the matter, that it would be necessary to find an excuse to enter the church alone with the child, an instance in which the building’s flank would, upon facing away from the cemetery, then hypothetically grant him sufficient cover to vacate the graveyard’s bounds undetected.

“It would be right to enlist one of the church’s pastors to sanctify the day’s proceedings,” said John casually directing his attention towards the driver.

“Is it really necessary”, said the chauffeur, “we have just come to pay our respects”.

“I would prefer to formalize the arrangement,” said John.

“Very well,” replied the chauffeur resignedly.

“Do you want to see a church ?” said John reaching down to take ‘Cocolo’s’ hand.

‘Cocolo’ cast John an inquiring glance but said nothing.

“The church”, repeated John directing the child’s attention towards the building at the far end of the cemetery, “come with me, you will find it enlightening”.

‘Cocolo initially appeared reluctant to follow John into the building, claiming that he could not see the point in doing so if no-one was buried there, an obstinacy that, in turn, served to fuel John’s resolve with regards to the fulfillment of the agenda which he had then set himself. “You must come with me” he pleaded drawing the child forcibly to his aft, “you will never understand why we are honor bound to pay tribute to the dead if you do not”.

After some moments of indecision in which ‘Cocolo’ was inclined to inquire what churches were and John to sell the idea that they had to be experienced first hand, the two set off towards the small chapel that then stood resisting decline in the lee of the harbor, a diversion which, as John had predicted, was observed to leave the chauffeur standing alone over ‘Harvest’s’ grave.

Upon arriving at the establishment’s entrance portico John became animated with his wish to capitalize upon what he felt would perhaps be his only chance to free the boy from ‘Porteaus’’ custody.

“We are going on a trip,” he announced impatiently drawing ‘Cocolo’ along the small gravel tow path that led from the chapel down towards the quay.

‘Cocolo’ looked confused, “What do you mean ?” He said confused.

“We are going back to the dump” said John issuing a conspiratorial gesture, “back to ‘Loris’”, he paused, “I have a boat, we can sail to freedom”.

‘Cocolo’ smiled, “back to ‘Loris’”, he said excitedly.

“Yes” replied John furtively, “ we haven’t much time, it is imperative that you follow me down to the harbor immediately”.

‘Cocolo’ initially appeared uncertain as to whether or not he should comply with John’s request , but, after some moments of flustered coercion, nonetheless decided to accompany him along the path down to the waterfront.

It seemed, in this instance that the chauffeur had not seen fit to question the pair’s absence in the time that it took them to arrive at the boat for John believed that he could see the man awaiting their return like a distant crow keening in the light that filtered down upon the headland from the vessel’s prow as he hastily fired it’s motor.

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CHAPTER 20

CHANNEL SKIPPING…

In covering seventy one percent of the earth’s surface and descending to depths of up to thirty five thousand feet, it may come as no surprise to those acquainted with oceanic matters, that the sea harbors secrets among it’s depths, imponderables which, despite serving as the pretext for extensive research through association with large scale naval exploration, yet succeed in resisting categorization, loitering in the backwaters of common awareness like myths that, in being recanted only once, may yet tease accepted wisdom with the thrill of unknown prospect.

There are, even now, after years of exhaustive study, regions of the sea bed which, despite protracted investigation remain almost entirely unexplored by the intrusions of mankind and things which, in never having seen the light of day, persist suspended in the throes of inexplicable courtship, pulsing and flashing with furtive incandescence beyond the attentions of mankind.

If one were, for example, to examine texts devoted to such matters, one would discover that the largest creature to course the earth’s waters was the Blue Whale, a giant baleen valved Cetacean, that, in measuring almost thirty meters in length can weigh up to one hundred and seventy tonnes, and yet, in confining such an observation to the generic scheme of the many catalogs that are honor bound to qualify such things, ignore the peculiarity represented by incidental encounters with larger creatures that, in only ever having been seen once, subsequently elude categorization.

Herman Melville’s ‘Moby Dick’, was, in this instance, witnessed upon an incidental basis, to be far larger than any whale which those who pursued it had ever seen, an observation that, upon being ascribed to the proclivity towards exaggeration which mariners are, through association with the Sperm Whale’s reputation for wrecking ships, inclined to espouse, refuted the notion that incidental encounters with creatures far larger than would ordinarily be supposed possible may, despite common wisdom, yet be perceived to occur.

The giant squid stands as another example of the manner in which standard categorization is inclined to refute evidence that breaks the rules which have been applied to such things, an instance in which creatures measuring no more than sixteen meters in length were, within certain woodcuts devoted to their description, nonetheless thought capable of engulfing ships whole.

Scandinavian texts committed to describing such matters were, in this instance, inclined to call such colossi ‘Kraken’, a variety of Cephalopod which, in resembling a small island, was believed to wait at the surface of the sea regurgitating food in efforts to attract scavengers into it’s maw, a trap which, in being sprung, would effectively serve to redefine any limit placed upon how large marine life could become.

It had seemed, in this instance, that the Greeks also avowed an understanding of such beasts, the ability of the whirlpools ‘Scylla’ and ‘Charybdis’ to wreck ships off the coast of Georgia during the early first millennium being witnessed to earn the recognition of both ‘Odysseus’ in the works of Homer and ‘Aenius’ in those of Virgil.

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John had often found cause to wonder upon such things, the notion that the sea harbored monsters, was something that had, throughout his youth, served to inspire him with dread and thus, within reason, to bait his intrigue.

Maybe it was the case, he thought, in incidentally finding occasion to reflect back upon the matter, that the war of attrition which was observed to be waged upon a perennial basis between Whales and Squid was not so dissimilar to the physical principles that were quite incidentally invested in the operative dynamic of the Gyre Patch.

As ‘Harvest’ had been inclined to observe before his untimely demise, “petroleum polymers did not dissolve in water, they floated trapping air in their midst, breathing in water like a crude facsimile of life, being derived from earthly pressures that similarly respired, limestone did not burn”.

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The weather started to clear as John steered ‘O’Leary’s’ boat smoothly out of the harbor, he could feel the vessel’s keel bucking in a re-assuring manner against the water beneath his feet. Her boards appeared to have been made for such things, they displaced their load well.

He glanced down at ‘Cocolo’ who stood staring into the oncoming tide from the bow of the boat, he appeared to be absorbed in the thrill of watching the water that then broke against the vessel’s hull.

It crossed John’s mind as he leveled the ship’s prow North to follow the line of the coast up towards ‘St. Georges’, that seafaring came about as close to representing a physical interpretation of destiny as anything ever could. In bearing witness to the infinite, the smooth trajectory of a boat across water presumed purpose from it’s absence.

Unlike the ‘Gyre Patch’, the coast of Bermuda was remarkably free from gulls. It seemed that, in being inclined towards opportunism, the birds preferred to defer their native ration for the easiest meal.

Maybe the dump ‘did’ serve a purpose thought John as he cranked the vessel’s motor to speed. It appeared to draw the incident of avian molestation away from open water.

John glanced back at the minute indentation to the island’s coastal scheme made by the receding structure of ‘Hamilton’s’ harbor.

Maybe ‘Porteaus’’ henchman was still standing as he had been left at ‘Harvest’s’ grave awaiting both his and ‘Cocolo’s’ return, perhaps not.

John cursorily ran through the course of action that the man would be inclined to take once he realized that he had been duped, he would undoubtedly return to his car and make a call to find out whether or not he should stay at the cemetery. The call’s recipient would be indecisive, and ask him to remain put pending further notice. He would then continue to wait for maybe an hour or more before finally making a second call to express his concern regarding the affair. This is when ‘Porteus’’ private militia would be brought in.

John felt sure, in this instance, that his flat would be cased, but it was unlikely that the plutocrat’s men would suspect throughout the course of their investigation that he had left the mainland.

Maybe they would perform a search of the island, ‘they were good at that’, he thought reflecting briefly upon ‘Cocolo’s’ period of imprisonment at the industrialist’s mansion, but he did not believe that they would directly interfere with his present progress towards the ‘Gyre Patch’.

He felt that he was, to all intents and purposes, entirely free of the tycoon’s attentions throughout the duration of the voyage. Nothing could stop him from completing the detail of his plan.

John glanced out across the ocean as it glittered silently against the sky. The sea around Bermuda assumed an exotic depth of color beneath the right conditions, it’s surface refracting light like cobalt stained glass.

He found occasion to dwell momentarily upon the swarming hordes of marine life that, in shying from the light, yet sought to muster resource from the azure expanse which then surrounded the boat.

He could, upon immediate observation, see nothing within the proximity of the ship, the sea seemed almost artificially perfect, a product of science rather than nature.

As John regarded the vista which then presented itself before the prow of the vessel, “Cocolo”, having tired of his surveillance upon the boat’s deck decided to join him in the cabin, “The sea lasts forever” he said abstractly, “I cannot see it’s edges”.

“It’s deceptive” replied John addressing the child, “but the ocean has edges, it is just that they are just very far away”.

It had crossed John’s mind that, in a strangely fatalistic sense, he was presently playing the role of the father which the child had never possessed, a final solution to the affairs that had served to wreck the youth on the ‘Gyre Patch’ so many years before.

Fate preserved it’s mysteries that way he thought, clipping back upon itself to make amends beneath whatever guise it’s circumstance may provide it with.

This time there would be no storm, no accidental separation. He would ride straight into Hell and greet it’s scabrous flank rejoicing in the shadow that it cast over the sea.

“Do you fear sailing aboard boats ?” he inquired glancing down at the child.

“No”, replied the boy, “what is there to fear ?”

John paused, “you mentioned that it was a shipwreck which first forced you to settle on the dump”.

“That was a long time ago”, answered ‘Cocolo’, “I often made rafts when I was there”.

John was amused by the notion that human ingenuity could, even among the young, be proven to prevail against adversity, “rafts ?,” he said attempting to engage the boy in gentle conversation.

“Yes, from the rubbish”, said ‘Cocolo’ distantly, “We would bind them together from plastic containers and play in the water”.

“Did you learn how to do that from your father ?,” inquired John circumspectly glancing down at the child.

“No,” replied ‘Cocolo’ perishing the suggestion, “I learned it when I was on the dump,” he plucked a knot of rope from the cabin’s floor and knocked it against an old fuel canteen, “it worked”, he said carefully replacing the article upon the deck.

“Junk floats” said John with a gesture of confirmation, “did you make anything else ?”.

“Cocolo’ took a mug from a shelf at the back of the cabin and held it inverted in his hand, “we made a raft for going under water”, he said drawing the item in his possession slowly down towards John’s feet and issuing a bubbling sound with his lips.

“A diving bell ?” remarked John uncertainly.

“We could breath,” said ‘Cocolo’, pointing his index finger up towards the roof of the cabin, “we could see”.

John was suddenly impressed by the degree of ingenuity which the youth suggested that he had employed during his sojourn on the the ‘Gyre Patch’, “you attached a snorkel to your invention ?” he inquired intrigued.

“A snorkel ?” repeated the child confused.

“A pipe”, said John in efforts to clarify himself, “for breathing”.

“We pulled the raft down into the water with a chain”, replied the boy, making a rasping sound with his lips, “it was like a house”, he paused reflectively for a few moments before adding, “that is why I am called ‘Cocolo’”.

“What do you mean ?”, inquired John.

“The limpet of the rock”, said the child issuing an explanatory gesture, “it was why ‘Jubal’ named me ‘Cocolo’”.

“So you don’t fear the sea ?” Said John broaching the issue.

“No, only the weather”, replied the boy distractedly.

“There is something that I have been meaning to ask you ?” said John after some moments of silence.

“What is that you wish to know ?” replied ‘Cocolo’ mildly disconcerted.

“How did you escape from captivity back on the Bermuda ?” said John.

“I don’t understand?” Mused ‘Cocolo’ perplexed.

“Before being commandeered by ‘Portaeus’’ you disappeared from the penitentiary in which you were being held. How did you manage to free yourself ?”

“I didn’t.” Replied ‘Cocolo’ nonplussed. “I was removed from captivity by ‘Portaeus’”.

“What do you mean ?” exclaimed John bemused.

“I was awoken two days after having been placed into custody and taken to ‘Portaeus’ house by one of his men”. Answered ‘Cocolo’ with conviction. “He seemed to consider prison oppressive and said that it would be a better place for me to stay”.

“I was beneath the impression that you had run away”. Muttered John surprised. “There was a man hunt, the island was scoured by the authorities”.

“No”, replied ‘Cocolo’ simplistically, “I was removed from custody by ‘Portaeus’, how could I have escaped, all access both to and from the building in which I was being housed was barred”.

“You are sure ?” said ‘John’ skeptically.

‘Cocolo’ shrugged apathetically. “That is how I came to be were you found me”.

John paused to reflect briefly upon the child’s account of the events which had premeditated his incarceration at the old coastal mansion. If there were any truth in what the boy was saying, then it would surely mean that both ‘Portaeus’ and Hamilton’s prison authorities were, for some reason known only to themselves, attempting to deceive to him. The question was why ?

John cast ‘Cocolo’ a dubious glance. “So you didn’t escape custody ?” He said after some moments of consideration.

“No” replied ‘Cocolo’ simplistically. “There was no reason for me to do so and besides I could not”. He paused momentarily monitoring John’s gaze. “You seem concerned”.

“I apologise”. Replied John self consciously, “I fear that I have misunderstood a number of things regarding the term of your tenure on Bermuda”. He paused nervously monitoring the deck of the boat as it cut steady slip through the water, “It seems that with respect to the general character of ‘Portaeus’ affairs in ‘Hamilton’, there are things that have been kept from me”.

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Before long John caught sight of the isthmus of land upon which ‘St. George’s’ was located off the boat’s starboard flank. It was only about seven miles from ‘Hamilton’, an easy run for a trawler of the variety that he was presently sailing in.

Watching the thin line of the coast run parallel to the side of the vessel, he realized that he was about to enter the open stretch of water which served to sever Bermuda from the dump. He would need to resort to the arrangement of tracking devices with which the vessel was equipped to ensure that he did not fall foul of cross tides, a course which, if pursued directly, would. in his estimation, take him about two hours to complete.

Glancing down at the nautical compass which floated inscrutably beneath a plastic shell situated upon the cabin’s dash, he knew that he would need to pursue a Northward bound route to arrive at his destination, the ‘Gyre Patch’ lay almost twenty miles to the North of Bermuda. It would be visible in the open water as the boat approached it.

He cursorily searched for a telescope among the assortment of objects which ‘O’ Leary’ had arranged in the vessel’s cabin beneath the pretense that it would assist him in locating the dump some way out at sea.

After some moments of investigation John found what he was looking for, a small brass telescope of the variety that are occasionally given to children with astrological inclinations as gifts, an object which immediately appeared to intrigue ‘Cocolo’, who seemed unable to understand it’s ability to magnify images.

“It’s a telescope” said John as the boy tried his eye against the article’s aperture and pointed it’s length towards the ocean.

“I can see boats”, said ‘Cocolo’, eagerly scanning the horizon.

“It makes things easier to find”, said John, “people use them to watch the stars”.

‘Cocolo’ withdrew the object from his eye and examined it carefully, “you can make fire”, he said after some moments of investigation.

“What ?” said John surprised.

“You can make fire” repeated ‘Cocolo’ casting John an earnest look, “from the sun”, he pointed the object towards the deck of the vessel and made an effusive gesture with his fingers.

John paused, uncertain as to what the boy was attempting to infer, “fire,” he intoned perplexed, “you mean to tell me that you used magnified light to set fire to things when you were living on the tip ?” The thought briefly served to trouble him, the possibility of disaster which such an activity entailed would, within reason, represent a genuine threat to the dump’s physical integrity.

“When it gets cold”, continued ‘Cocolo’ self consciously sensing John’s concern.

“Necessity is the mother of invention,” said John abstractly before adding, “I would have thought such things dangerous”.

“We were careful”, replied “Cocolo’ distractedly.

John glanced down at the manner in which “Cocolo” appeared to be using the telescope“Don’t break it”, he said cautiously, “I will need it later to chart the vessel’s course”.

‘Cocolo’ dutifully handed the item back to John, “How long will the voyage last ?” he inquired glancing out to sea.

“About an hour and a half, not long”, said John directing his attention towards the boy. “Do you know how to play ‘I spy’ ?”

“What is ‘I Spy’ ?”, said the child inquiringly.

“I look at an object but don’t tell you what it is”, said John calmly, “I then tell you it’s first letter and you have to guess what I have seen”.

The boy seemed amused, “You begin”, he said glancing up at John.

“I spy with my little eye, something beginning with ‘S’”, said John.

‘Cocolo’ appeared confused.

“What have I seen that begins with ‘S’ ?”, continued John attempting to engage the boy in the rule of play, “is it the sun ?” he said, prompting the youth towards participation.

“The sea ?” replied ‘Cocolo’ with a nod of comprehension.

“Wrong,” said John, “try again”.

‘Cocolo’ paused, “the ship ?” he said affecting a gesture of concentration.

“Wrong,” said John, “third chance”.

“Cocolo paused, scanning the cabin for the item to which John was referring, “I don’t know” he said after some minutes of speculation.

“You give up easily”, muttered John, “the answer is ‘soap’” he directed the boy’s attention towards an old cake of soap that ‘O’Leary’ had left upon the cabin’s shelf before the boat’s departure.

“That is a silly game”, said ‘Cocolo’ after some moments of consideration.

“Very well we shall play something else”, said John, “Do you know how to play twenty questions ?”

“No” replied ‘Cocolo’, “You will have to tell me the rules”.

“Someone thinks of something and the people that he is with have the chance to ask twenty questions to find out what it is”, said John simplistically, “the person can, in this instance, only answer yes or no in response to the inquiry and others must deduce what he is thinking about from this evidence, do you want to begin ?”

“Alright”, replied ‘Cocolo’.

“Have you thought of something ?”, inquired John.

“Yes”, said the boy.

“Is it bigger than that cake of soap ?”, said John directing the child’s attention towards the block of Carbolic which remained upon the shelf following the pair’s previous guessing game.

“Yes”, said the youth amused.

“Is it smaller than the ship’s wheel ?”, continued John with an air of anticipation.

“Yes” said ‘Cocolo’.

John paused, furrowing his brow, “is it made of plastic ?” said John ?

“No”, replied the child.

“Is it made of paper ?” continued John.

“Yes” said the boy.

“Is it a book ?” said John.

“Yes” said the boy.

“There, I have won”, announced John conclusively, “clever eh”.

“No you have not,” retorted the youth with a gesture of defiance, “it is ‘a type’ of book, you must guess which one”.

“That would take more than twenty question” replied John circumspectly.

“But I am not thinking of all books,” replied ‘Cocolo’ obstinately.

John reflected back upon the child’s reading habits whilst imprisoned upon ‘Portaeus’’ estate, observing that realm of choice with regards to such matters would be limited to the selection of tomes that had been contained within the plutocrat’s library at that time.

“Very well”, he said after some moments of consideration upon the matter, “is it the coloring book which you were reading when I met you at ‘Portaeus’’ mansion ?”.

The child appeared surprised, “yes” he said finally.

Now’ I have won”, muttered John victoriously.

‘Cocolo’ appeared defeated but said nothing.

“Do you want to continue playing ?” Said john circumspectly.

“No”, replied ‘Cocolo’ after some moments of consideration, “I am going to watch the sea.” he said slowly turning to resume his oceanic vigil upon the prow of the vessel.

John was suddenly saddened by the banality of the sport which he had found occasion to share with the youth. “Was it not an aspiration towards such novelty which had been savagely curtailed by the storm that had struck the boy’s ship en route to America so many years before ?”

There was certainly a tragedy in such things John thought casting a glance across the boat’s deck to observe the child standing at it’s helm.

In scouring itself of every pretense death could but be imagined by those who were idly enjoined to play the games that it left behind.

As he forged passage forth across the sea John found occasion to reflect upon the reputation which, through association with being perhaps one of the most well traveled shipping routes on earth, the waters around Bermuda had gained for sinking ships in their time, an instance in which John observed that references to the “Devil’s Triangle” had presumed priority among naval records devoted to such matters pretty much since the dawn of Trans-Atlantic travel when the celebrated mariner ‘Christopher Columbus’ was incidentally drawn to notice an assortment of strange lights in the sky within the island’s vicinity during his his early voyages to America.

The reputation had stuck, no fewer than fourteen ships were noted to have been lost in the triangle since ‘Columbus’’ era, not to mention a plethora of unverified incidents such the loss of what was recorded to have been an entire fleet of galleons placed beneath the command of ‘Francisco De Bobadilla’ during the halcyon era of Spanish shipping in the early sixteenth century, an instance in which John was apprehensively drawn to note that fourteen aircraft were similarly observed to have gone missing in the area. It seemed, in this instance, that the triangle’s inexplicable voracity was even capable of extending province heavenwards and affecting the sky above it’s extent.

Located respectively between ‘Florida’, ‘Bermuda’ and ‘Puerto Rico’, the three points of the triangle, were approximately a thousand miles apart from each other. An area of about one and a half thousand square miles.

John recalled that the diagnostic which had been presented by modern science to explain the region’s gift for physical translocation, pertained to a variety of cloud formation which occasionally coalesced within it’s bounds, a stratospheric phenomenon which was, through association with the event of violent storms, capable of exerting a downward force of such velocity, that it could effectively seal the doom of any vessel caught within it’s proximity.

He was pleased, in this sense, to note that his present voyage theoretically lay some distance beyond the triangle’s epicenter and the notion that it’s appetite was associated with storms served, through association with what he then observed to be a climate of almost seamless serenity, to go some way towards appeasing his concerns with regards to the threat that the matter may be presumed to represent.

Upon reflection, John was inclined to observe that oceanic disasters were, in this instance, not necessarily restricted to the legends that mariners were habitually inclined to espouse towards specified stretches of water. Some of the most catastrophic shipwrecks on record had, to his knowledge, been caused by rudimentary flaws in the design of the vessels that had suffered them. The sinking of the “H.M.S, Titanic” for example, having been an instance in which the infernal heat generated by the ship’s massive boilers, proved, when put to trial in the frozen waters of the North Atlantic, adept at rupturing the vast structure of it’s hull, rending it in two like a wax seal.

He could remember having watched a documentary devoted to the topic upon television whilst biding his time in ‘Hamilton’, the liner appeared to have gone down with many of it’s passengers still aboard, a contingent that, in notably being requested to return to their quarters due to a deficit of jolly boats in the instance of it’s evacuation, were noted to have been entombed for all posterity replete with the trappings of the Edwardian decadence to which they were beholden in the hermetically sealed enclaves of their cabins.

John nervously glanced down at the prow of “O’Leary’s” boat as it relentlessly cut slip through the water to it’s fore. At least the little trawler which he was presently aboard, would not succumb to such an oversight, he mused gently placing his hand upon it’s wheel, a notion which, for some perverse reason, immediately struck him as something of a mixed blessing.

After about thirty minutes of travelling John believed that he could see something upon the horizon, a speck of darkness against the vast plain of open water represented by the Northern Atlantic running up towards Newfoundland.

Withdrawing the telescope that then lay on the shelf before him, he performed a brief survey of the ocean in efforts to confirm his bearings.

His observation had been correct, the Gyre Patch stood smoldering like an extinct volcano directly to the trawler’s’s fore.

It’s utter isolation when viewed from the cabin of the vessel momentarily impressed him. From the boat’s present location the dump seemed to be little more than a wave against the enormity of the sea.

John drew the trawler into direct coincidence with the tip, it would not be long now before he arrived upon it’s coast.

He felt an intense sense of relief in the pit of his stomach, as the speck represented by the dump’s circumstance in the Sargasso increased in size, the voyage had passed without event, now he believed that nothing could stop him from progressing forth towards the tip and returning the boy back to where he had, before the intrusions of mankind among his affairs, ostensibly once belonged.

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CHAPTER 21

SHALLOW GRAVE…

In being employed as a primary component of certain varieties of perfume, ‘Ambergris’ is surprisingly observed to be constituted from the dung of the Sperm Whale, a term beneath which it is frequently employed to much the same effect as Musk, being refined and blended with alcohol in efforts to augment the natural pungency of the chemistry with which it is invested.

Being migratory Whales are thought to travel approximately four thousand miles through the earth’s oceans annually, a pretext beneath which the distribution of ‘Ambergris’ is, in being harvested from coastlines upon an incidental basis, witnessed to be both regionally and seasonally unpredictable, it’s availability playing subject to the dictum of circumstance rather than that of intent, a term beneath which it is, in fetching a high price on the open market, often referred to as floating gold.

Appearing as a dense calcified mineralogical deposit, a rock rather than a bodily excretion, the chemical composition of ‘Ambergris’ is, in fact, quite naturally witnessed to be saturated with alcohol, becoming both increasingly waxy when immersed in water and burning with a distinctive odor when set alight.

The mineral is, through association with such an observation, perceived to be a by-product of the Whale’s digestive process, a process that, in actively neutralizing the toxic content of the creature’s diet as it is digested, is witnessed, in many ways, to resemble a Pasteurization technique.

It seems, with regards to the qualification of such matters, that it remains within the ability of the compressed air harbored by the whale, to infiltrate and break down the proteins present in plankton, shellfish and shrimp, transforming them into a multitude of inert alloys that yet retain the constitution to exist for an indefinite period of time in a solid physical form.

Bezoar’, a stony accretion similarly produced by the digestive process of the whale is, in this instance, noted to have been revered by Arabian physicians as an antidote to poison, an application which, in similarly observing ‘False Bezoar’ to defraud the expectations those who were yet perceived to die through association with the consumption of both toxins and the mineral together, ultimately saw fit to consign it’s medical potential to the quaint exoticism of the perfume parlor, an instance in which Ambergris is presently noted to share space with the traditional array of fragrances that may, upon appreciation, be perceived to define rare taste.

_____________________

There had, to John’s knowledge been a degree of study conducted into how the forces that went into the creation of the perfume had been exploited by ‘Baleen Whales’, to moderate the velocity of their ascent and descent in water, an instance in which the giant cetaceans appeared to have developed an immunity to the ‘Hard Multum’, ‘Krill’, ‘Phytoplankton’ and ‘Daphnia’ that they harvested from the sea whilst siphoning air through their lungs.

It was the toll of their endeavor. The physical by product of the forces that they tempered, a spectrum of event that men may only observe to occur with the aid of scanning devices, such instruments were worth millions, they were useful research instruments”.

Having avowed an interest in such things since his youth, John was aware that such creatures were rumored to be intelligent, perhaps even cleverer than men, a pretext beneath which they could apparently see or sense things that men where incapable of perceiving without the aid of the machines.

John was, in this instance, of the opinion that resorting to such unnatural methodology in efforts to perceive things as whales may observe them, would ultimately achieve little more than to interfere with the general scheme of nature. Any half conceived attempt to accede understanding with regards to such matters would simply attract undue attention to itself and fall foul of it’s own shortcomings. Any doctor that used X-rays to see things beyond the visible spectrum would do nothing other than exploit the military potential of such an idea to sow as much dissent as possible before giving the object of his attentions back to those that he had affected in efforts to share in the responsibility of their usage.

Men were surely only supposed to see the world with the faculties which they had been blessed with since birth.He supposed that such things happen anyway in nature, but observed that it would be unwise for mankind to willingly attempt to play God in such an instance, there were too many variables.”

But of course, having said this, how else were people supposed to learn about their environment ? How could one justifiably criticize a species of physical phenomenon which was observed to occur quite naturally amidst terrestrial event regardless of whether or not one was aware of it ?

He paused momentarily in reflection. “Dolphins reputedly employed sonar to stun fish, if that was not interfering with the pattern of nature then what was ?” “If Dolphins where capable of manipulating their environment in such a manner then why not also men ?” Within what would amount to a state of perennial cultural stagnation human ambition should surely be prepared to embrace the possibility of change”.

John was aware, through association with his interest in the matter, that creatures like whales were, of a primarily solitary persuasion, their aptitude as musicians being of a largely introspective nature, they appeared to have neatly evaded many of the shortcomings that may be ascribed to their endeavors and, as such, have been granted an opportunity to excel where other species would be observed to countenance difficulty an instance in which he was inclined to suppose that such creatures would have to be quite intelligent to communicate in the manner that they did.

Pausing to dwell upon the issue, It crossed his mind that such a proclivity would render the giant mammals eccentric, forcing them to accept their own self contrived devils, a pretext beneath which they may, in conjuring phantoms from states of near perfect insularity marred only by the catalog of incidental abominations which the ocean may find occasion to spurn from it’s lower depths, quite naturally deem it right to tear the world apart.

What was eccentricity but a unit of comparison ? Such creatures were a clever breed. Who could even begin to appreciate how long they had been banishing their demons and preserving their saints to maintain the many equilibriums that they presumably saw fit to defend ? Who could wager estimation as to how long whales had, in tandem with the practice of discerning degrees of order from their circumstance, been perfecting the finer aspects of their song, sound was an inevitable by product of movement in space.

John paused to dwell upon the matter. Whales would through association with the internal dialogues which served to distinguish their migratory habits, probably have found themselves playing audience to the song of the ‘Aurora Borealis’ at the earth’s Southern hemisphere upon many occasions throughout the course of their lives, an instance in which they would perhaps even have been moved to understand something of the phenomenon’s significance.

“In being an optical phenomenon the ‘Borealis’ was, to John’s knowledge, also a magnetic disturbance and as such capable generating sound. The ‘Antiphony’ created at the earth’s Southern extreme when it’s ice thawed rising into the earth’s stratosphere as an audible tone. It was a Fortean effect that anyone who may find occasion to visit the ‘Arctic’ would ostensibly be compelled to notice.

Although intriguing in a portentous sense, such concerns were, in John’s opinion, ultimately no more than a matter of idle conjecture, he did not propose to visit the ‘Arctic’, he was too intent upon navigating his small boat across the stretch of open water which served to divide Bermuda from the risen stench of the Atlantic Gyre Patch.

_______________

After about thirty minutes of cross navigation John arrived upon a stretch of shallow garbage strewn coast line formed by the oceanic dump’s submission to the waters of the Sargasso.

The stench of the site’s payload of refuse was, after the period of reprieve that John had been granted from it’s proximity in Bermuda, physically overpowering, a noxious miasma that caused him to wretch violently as he settled the trawler and prepared to disembark.

He was inclined to think in this instance that such things faded with acquaintance. The shadow that the tip cast over all that fell beneath it’s compass immediately served to deter unfamiliar trespass upon it’s preserves.

The size of the dump still succeeded in impressing him. It appeared to tower out of the water like a dark plateau, a vertical elevation that, in persisting bejeweled with shards of broken glass, fragments of shattered plastic and lengths of semi corroded metal, lay like cobbles of discarded livery upon some forgotten battle field, an instance in which John was compelled to draw a precarious allusion between it’s structure and the nest of a giant bird, a beast that, in having maintained a passion for the requisition of trinkets, had indiscriminately pillaged the earth of waste in efforts to complete it’s labors.

The water about the circumference of the dump was, in accordance with ‘Cocolo’s’ observations pertaining to his exploits as a raft builder, witnessed to be festooned with items of loose flotsam that had separated themselves from it’s turgid mass, milk cartons, tin cans, glass bottles and plastic sheets, an assortment of objects which, in making direct transgression onto the tip hazardous, compelled John to drive the trawler through it’s spread in efforts to consolidate premium, a strategy that, in circumstantially risking the integrity of the vessel, nonetheless granted him the levity to moor some yards from the derelict haulage apparatus which had served to distinguish the entrance of the tunnel system that had earlier provided him with sanctuary.

After some minutes of tentative investigation to insure that the ground around the boat was stable, John and ‘Cocolo’ disembarked, scrambling up a steep incline composed of rotten fabric and emulsified paper.

It was easier to confront the dump through it’s clay thought John as he ascended towards the summit of the mound upon which he then stood, although it’s ability to mire trespass served to concern him.

Upon reaching the apex of the plateau John was drawn to note that, as before, the gulls were out in force, scourging the dump with their peculiar brand of outrage.

He momentarily feared that, owing to the comparatively exposed circumstance of his location, he would himself fall foul of their attentions, a turd beset by flies in the thin meniscus of water which swilled through the dump, but they appeared to be otherwise distracted by the assortment of delicacies which the tip had come to represent in their minds.

As John stood surveying the ‘Gyre Patch’s’ sullen expanse from the summit of the mound he noticed that there appeared to be an unusually large number of aircraft docked upon the raised platform of the communication’s block some distance to his aft, an aegis beneath which a large team of garishly clad laborers equipped with lorries and vans appeared to be moving freight about the tip’s extent, an instance in which, it occurred to him that there was some form of work in progress, a construction program of some description.

Perhaps this was the reason for ‘Porteaus’’ presence on Bermuda John thought abstractly monitoring the scene which then presented itself before him, “who else would devote mercantile attention to such a Godforsaken place ?”

The idea made sense, the dump had been ‘Portaeus’’ brainchild, his pledge to the world, he had gained plaudits for throwing money into the economic non-sequitur which it represented and won respect for confronting the difficulties that it’s establishment had presupposed. “Who else but ‘Portaeus’ would have hired the workforce that currently appeared to be patrolling the dump ? Who else would have access to the hardware that it appeared to be using ?”

The industrialist was, in John’s opinion, a manipulator that, in having seen men stripped of all conceit through association with his work, was observed to treat the notion of human dignity with the detached unconcern of a butcher. ‘Portaeus’ surely knew no reservations when it came to achieving his objectives. Humanity was, after all, no more than a bag poorly stitched together with the token currencies of cultural pleasantry and foolish indignation when placed before his attentions.

It had, in fact, occurred to John through association with such an observation that this was how his insane plan to abduct ‘Cocolo’ had, despite it’s impropriety, ultimately borne fruit. The plutocrat’s men could simply have entered his flat and claimed domain over his sensibilities as he lay sleeping, compelling him to enact the measure of some nebulous schematic for their employer above and beyond his right of refusal.

The nature of his present predicament immediately struck him with it’s absurdity, “why in God’s name had he decided to return to the “Gyre Patch ?”, such an expedition was surely the pursuit of the mad.

John paused for some moments to reflect upon the issue, “Could ‘Portaeus’ have stage managed the whole affair ?”

“Maybe he had set the children abroad on the ‘Gyre Patch’ apart from those with whom they would ordinarily have shared acquaintance as some form of punishment, a bizarre survivalist lesson contrived to familiarize them with the notion of genuine adversity ?”

“Could the industrialist have choreographed John’s own encounter with the boys to educate him in the dictum of the peculiar faith which they appeared to avow ?”

The hypothesis would indicate that ‘Portaeus’ had, for some reason known only to himself, proposed to undermine his sanity. “Why would he choose to do such a thing ? To render him pliable ?”

John momentarily felt sickened by the notion that the plutocrat may have found occasion to play with his mind as he languished blissfully unaware of such things in his flat on Bermuda.

John pensively furrowed his brow. “Taking such things into consideration, could it not have been ‘Portaeus’ who had ultimately sanctioned ‘Harvest’s’ murder ?”,

He paused to reflect back upon the detail of his friend’s death.“Maybe ‘Harvest’ had, during his time in ‘Hamilton’, chosen to interfere among the industrialist’s interests, perhaps there had been some form of disagreement between the two with regards to the management of the ‘Gyre Patch’ ?” John could not be sure, the depth of the plutocrat’s deception with regards to such issues was difficult to estimate.

____________________

After some minutes ‘Cocolo’ accompanied John upon the summit of the mound, he appeared pleased to have returned back to the tip and seemed to be in his element. “We must find Loris”, he said distractedly.

Upon ‘Cocolo’s’ initiative, John descended down the far side of the slope and made forth towards the derelict skeletons of the industrial mechanisms that lay embracing the tide like the primordial inlet of a volcanic fissure upon the far side of the dump.

Upon arrival John discovered that the struts of the giant haulage machines remained as he remembered them following his previous visit to the ‘Gyre Patch’, their bowed vertices supporting the accumulation of filth that bore down upon them like an absurd balancing trick which miraculously managed to salvage equilibrium from the prospect of collapse.

‘Cocolo’ swiftly pulled back the draining board which concealed the entrance to the tunnel network and entered it’s enclave, “Loris will be here”, he said indicating for John to follow him with a conspiratorial gesture, “but he may not want to come”.

The pair wove forth towards the vast hall that remained bearing the heavens aloft like an abandoned cathedral to some anarchic God.

The size of the structure’s central precinct still served to impress John. It was perhaps the largest enclosed space that he had found occasion to visit since his arrival upon Bermuda, if not the largest that he had ever seen.

“I shall call him from here,” said ‘Cocolo’, locating the drum that had earlier been used by ‘Loris’ to summon the attention of those entrenched within the fabric of passageways that lay beneath the dump lying abandoned upon a shelf to the side of the chamber.

The child proceeded to enact the peculiar ritual which John had earlier observed ‘Loris’ to employ in efforts to attract notice to himself, dancing and gibbering in the peculiar dialect which the children were inclined to use to communicate with each other.

“Do you think he will come ?” Inquired John as ‘Cocolo’ completed his dance..

“I don’t know” replied ‘Cocolo’ replacing the drum on the shelf.

John reflected back upon the death of ‘The Dominic’, noticing as he did so that the boy’s body had been removed from the location in which it had fallen after having been struck by ‘Harvest’s’ bullet.

‘Loris’ must have seen fit to relocate the corpse in the period following the episode, he felt a surge of apprehension in the pit of his stomach, as though he were somehow intruding upon hallowed ground.

As John stood mutely surveying the scene, ‘Cocolo’ keened attentively towards the aperture of a neighboring tunnel. He appeared to have heard something. “Wait here”, he said directing his attention towards John,“I think ‘Loris’ is here”, he paused straining his ear into the darkness, “I think he is frightened”.

Having spoken ‘Cocolo’ disappeared into the tunnel towards which he had directed his attention leaving John alone in the center of the vast chamber surrounded by it’s palisades of disemboweled televisions, defunct refrigerators, broken washing machines and other incongruous junk.

After some minutes ‘Cocolo’ re-entered the hallway, he appeared distraught, “‘Loris’ does not want to meet you” he intoned quietly, “he says that you should not be here”.

“Oh”, exclaimed John briefly reflecting back upon the series of incidents which had, some months earlier, served to surround ‘The Dominic’s’ death.

It crossed John’s mind in this instance that ‘Loris’ was right, maybe it was better that he should leave. He had returned ‘Cocolo’ back to the dump clearing his conscience with regards to the issue of the boy’s treatment at the hands of ‘Portaeus’. Things appeared to have been resolved to the farthest extent that they could be. There was nothing more to prove, no further wrongs to right. “Maybe now, after all was said and done, He should finally bid the ‘Gye Patch’ farewell ?”

As John stood reflecting upon the issue ‘Loris’ unexpectedly decided to enter the chamber in which the pair were standing. He appeared guarded as though fearing a repercussion of the events which had earlier served to destroy the labyrinth’s sanctity.

John noted, cursorily casting his eyes over the boy, that he seemed to have lost much of his vigor since their last encounter. He appeared upon first impression, to be troubled by an issue of gravity which, in burdening his conscience, had taken it’s toll upon his bearing.

“Why are you here ?” he said casting John a cautious glance.

“I thought that ‘Cocolo’ needed to be returned here,” replied John simplistically.

‘Loris’ cast John a nervous glance but remained silent.

“‘Cocolo’ told me that you want me to leave”, continued John in an effort to engage the boy.

‘Loris’ sighed before resignedly motioning for John to follow him into the passageway through which he had entered.

John was initially uncertain whether or not the gesture indicated that the boy had changed his mind and decided to accept him into his fold. “You want me to follow you ?” He inquired directing his attention towards the boy.

“Yes,” replied ‘Loris’ repeating the gesture which he had earlier elicited.

Both John and ‘Cocolo’ followed ‘Loris’ through the darkness for some minutes before finally being called to a halt by the boy in a small chamber that appeared to have been decorated in an approximately symmetrical manner with selected items of garbage.

Upon entering the room, ‘Loris’ pointed towards a small mound fashioned from soil and rubbish which had been entrenched into the earth at it’s center. “Why ?” He said quietly.

John was initially confused as to what the child was attempting to infer, before, having devoted some moments of speculation towards the matter, realizing that the chamber in which he then stood was ‘The Dominic’s’ tomb, it seemed that ‘Loris’ had taken efforts to inter the boy’s body in the refuse that littered the dump following his demise.

“You have buried your friend”, murmured John, momentarily touched by the child’s labors, he paused suddenly abashed by the intimacy to which the site appeared beholden.“I am sorry”, he said after some moments of quiet introspection, “I had not wanted this to happen”.

‘Loris’ started to cry. “Why is he gone ?” he said.

John was uncertain how he should respond to the child’s inquiry. How can one explain death to those who entertain no conception of such things ?

It was ‘Cocolo’ who broke the silence, “he has become ‘Saul’”, the boy announced with a note of awe in his voice.

“No”, replied ‘Loris’ tearfully, “he is not ‘Saul’”, he made a pathetic gesture with his hands before drawing himself motionless.

John glanced down at the floor of the chamber moved by the futility of the child’s efforts with regards to the sheer intractability of the issues which it had been forced to confront.

‘Loris’ had inscribed the walls of the room with the same peculiar symbolism which John had perceived to be present in the larger chamber to his aft.

It seemed that such things were deemed a suitable substitute for Christian iconography within the belief framework that the children had managed to foster during their period of tenure on the ‘Gyre Patch’, although the conventions of interment were, in effect, no different from those practiced elsewhere.

The observation made cruel sense to John at the time. The tip was, after all, a place for burying things. The diversity of it’s quota embraced an almost limitless parameter of cultural distinction, earth was earth, but the names emblazoned across it’s surface differed.

It struck John at the time that the dump would represent an acute example of how far such a possibility could be taken. Gods could rise and fall upon the whim of market trends within such a place, the blue God of Africa buckled like a cello against surplus cans of Okra. The White one of America keening ellipse against Colonel Sanders smiling face. Such things were purely subjective. People made of them what they could.

“Among my people it is thought that the souls of the dead go to Heaven,” said John after some moments of silence.

‘Loris’ looked perplexed, “Heaven ?”, he said quietly.

“The soul”, replied John, “the thing that makes us what we are when alive. It leaves the body and goes to heaven”.

‘Loris’ seemed unconvinced. “You go away ?” He said after some moments of consideration.

“Yes”, replied John, “to a good place”.

‘Loris’ smiled weakly but said nothing.

John momentarily thought about including Hell in his repertoire of possible destinations with regards to such matters but, upon reflection, thought the idea inappropriate. Those that did not believe in the existence of the soul would surely not need to attend the possibility of it’s damnation.

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CHAPTER 22

THE GUNPOWDER PLOT….

It is and always has been something of a naval tradition to construct prisons out at sea, the perfect isolation of small islands that cannot be put to any commercial usage being observed to represent a sound pretext beneath which to build a patchwork of inescapable strongholds in open water, fortresses that, for want of opposition owing to both their inaccessibility and logistical improbability, need not, in effect, defend themselves from attack.

The constitutional nature of such colonies was, accordance with the conventions ascribed to such things, observed to resemble the command structure habitually employed aboard ocean going ships, the enclosed circumstance implied by incarceration in prisons incidentally mirroring that which was witnessed to occur whilst voyaging the sea.

Perhaps as a result of the general unpredictability of such prisons’ circumstance, many boats were, during the Victorian era witnessed to be employed as convict ships, an instance in which it was effectively perceived to be unnecessary to deposit criminals upon islands to establish the term of their captivity.

The strategy proved effective and, over time, both quarantine ships and hospital ships were added to the navy’s canon. The admiralty effectively retaining the right to separate people from each other for a multitude of reasons beneath the pretense that both they and civilization in general, would fare better beneath it’s term.

The practice of deportation was, in this sense, also circumstantially witnessed to arise from the establishment of such conventions. It being observed that convicts could, in being held aboard ships, further be conscripted to work upon foreign shores in the name of what was then perceived to be the British Empire. A term beneath which they could effectively be vanished without trace or pronounced to be living productively in other countries when dead.

The only bond that tied the vast assortment of interests that the navy was inclined to accumulate with regards to such matters together were the victualing yards of the larger ports, pipelines for food and clothing which effectively served to sustain the insupportable pretext that prison colonies were then observed to assume.

Without these yards, such colonies would die, for their existence was, in practice, observed to be no more than a contrivance, an illusory continuum bound together with the loosest of string when starved of the resource which held them aloft.

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These are the thoughts that served to occupy John’s mind as he stood in the small burial chamber which had been entrenched beneath the ‘Gyre Patch’.

The dump had, through association with it’s isolation in the Sargasso, quite accidentally established a similar premium for itself as a prison colony, an island community that, in being cursed to persist upon the verge of extinction for want of either egress or charity, may but collapse inwards on itself until finding it’s place within the wider scheme of nature.

The novelty of the children’s predicament upon the tip had, in this sense, serve to intrigue John. Not only did they appear capable of harvesting resource from the rubbish with which they were surrounded but they had also developed their own cultural reference frame to communicate with each other.

It seemed that, far from suffering for want of their ration, they were the heirs of such a supplement’s collapse having already found their place within the dump’s dismal scheme.

They were what remained of optimism after the fascistic exception of provincial ambition had run it’s course. Maybe they were fortunate he thought abstractly appraising their predicament. Perhaps they were not.

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The party stood silently for some moments at ‘The‘Dominic’s’ grave, before it’s reverie was broken by a deafening sound which, in reverberating through the labyrinth’s midst like thunder, neatly called an end to the state of grace which had incidentally been cultivated about the periphery of the tomb.

“What was that ?” cried ‘Cocolo’ suddenly frightened.

“I don’t know,” replied John, scanning the darkness in an effort to identify the source of the noise.

‘Loris’ turned towards John as the noise subsided. “You” he said, a look of angst clouding his features.

“No”, intoned John attempting to calm what he felt to be a rising sentiment of hostility in the boy’s tone. “Not me, we came here alone”. He turned, directing his attention towards ‘Cocolo’. “Tell him that we came here alone.” He said urgently.

‘Cocolo’ duly turned to ‘Loris’ and explained to him how both he and John had arrived upon the island, informing him that there were, to all intents and purposes, no other factions involved in the affair.

After some moments of discussion pertaining to the matter ‘Loris’ appeared to regain his composure and, steeling his resolve, duly impelled the small company to follow him through the darkness in efforts to investigate the source of the noise.

Within time the party arrived at an impasse. It appeared as though the roof of the tunnel in which they found themselves, had suddenly collapsed in upon itself.

A glimmer of radiance shone through from the section of the dump that lay above the subsidence dimly illuminating the passageway in which the group stood with a pale light.

John could faintly hear the sound of workmen moving freight some distance from the breach. It immediately appeared to him as though it had been their endeavors which had been the cause of the avalanche. Whatever labor it was that ‘Portaeus’ had assigned the people to perform, it seemed to represent a threat to the integrity of the labyrinth in which the children had built their home .

John paused for some moments before turning to address his companions. “When we arrived here, I noticed that there appeared to be a fairly large body of men performing work upon the far side of the dump”, he said, “I cannot be sure, but believe that their presence on the site might be the reason for what has happened”.

“Why now ?” said ‘Loris’ still suspicious of John’s untimely presence in the tunnel system.

“Coincidence ?”, replied John attempting to ease the boy’s misgivings, “the men appear to have been here for some time. Have any other such collapses occurred through association with their activity in the past few days ?”

‘Loris’ paused reflectively for some minutes before leading the party into another section of the labyrinth where a similar event was observed to have happened.

“When did this occur ?” said John furrowing his brow.

‘Loris’ held two of his fingers up in the air.

“Two days ago ?” said John attempting to interpret the gesture.

‘Loris’ nodded apprehensively.

John stood examining the detritus which then lay before him, again light was plainly visible through a hole in the roof of the tunnel.

“Yes I am right”, he said after some moments of cursory investigation. “It appears that the labor which is presently being performed on the ‘Gyre Patch’ is changing the dump’s underlying structure”, he paused, “I am afraid that, if such work continues, then it will be unsafe to remain here”.

‘Loris’ seemed disheartened, he had invested years in securing the tunnel system from collapse, and it appeared to John that the prospect of it’s imminent dilapidation was not an issue which he was willing to confront.

“We can go down”, he said after some moments, “it will be safe below”.

“We need to deduce how extensive the changes presently being wrought about the dump are,” said John pausing momentarily to reflect upon the issue. “Have there been any other events like this in the past few weeks or are these the only two ?” He inquired directing his attention towards ‘Loris’.

‘Loris’ held up his left hand and the index finger of his right one before John’s gaze.

“Six,” said John interpreting the gesture, “there have been six incidents of subsidence ?”.

‘Loris’ nodded.

“I will need to perform a diagnostic survey of the area in efforts to deduce what manner of labor is being performed upon it”, said John abstractly. “If I recall correctly I have a telescope in my possession. It should be possible to monitor the activities of the workmen which I noticed earlier upon the tip with it’s aid”.

After some minutes of discussion devoted the matter, John decided to return alone to the boat which remained as it had been left floating in the lee of the tide off the dump’s Southern flank to collect his telescope.

He worked his way precariously through the morass of clothing and emulsified paper which then served to separate the vessel from the entrance of the labyrinth, before, having retrieved the article, re-ascending the mound of rotten garbage to find an appropriate location from which to monitor the activities that seemed to be occurring at the periphery of the communication block.

John withdrew his telescope and scanned the raised concrete plinth at the far end of the dump.

His previous observation had been correct, there were at least five light aircraft docked upon the expanse and a similar number of helicopters. There was also a large cargo plane standing in the shadow of the block, a vessel to which the presence of the lorries and vans upon the platform could, within reason, possibly be ascribed. A body of approximately a hundred garishly garbed men stood upon the platform moving what appeared to be an assortment of containers about it’s surface.

“What manner of freight were they moving ?” John adjusted the lens of his telescope to investigate the scene in greater detail, noting, as he did so, that the cargo appeared to be a consignment of petrol. The observation stood to reason, fuel would be necessary to power the vehicles which then stood upon the surface of the concrete expanse, but there was also something else. He directed the telescope towards the open gate of the cargo plane, the men appeared to stockpiling a cache of explosives immediately to the vessel’s aft.

John strained to achieve a clearer impression of the scene, almost falling from the mound upon which he was standing as he did so. “Yes”, he murmured carefully directing the telescope towards the rear end of the cargo plane, there was unmistakably a battery of heavy artillery shells situated upon the platform, he could see the metal plate of it’s housing protruding from beneath a length of tarpaulin.

“What could ‘Portaeus’ be intending to do with such a thing ?”, Thought John carefully monitoring the scene. “Why would he need to hold explosives on the dump ? Was he using the ‘Gyre Patch’ as a temporary depot for arms ?” Bermuda would, in John’s opinion, be a more suitable destination in such an instance, the dump struck him as being an inappropriate location for such things.

John could not be sure. He closed the telescope and placed it neatly in his pocket, before making forth towards the entrance of the labyrinth.

‘Loris’ and ‘Cocolo’ were waiting as John had left them upon his return, “My initial observation was right”, he began turning to address the children, “There seems to be an amount of work being performed on the dump,” he paused directing his attention towards ‘Loris’, “you mentioned that there had been six tunnel collapses in all”.

‘Loris’ nodded apprehensively .

“I need to see them”, continued John urgently, “I have a suspicion that something terrible is going to happen”.

‘Loris’ duly led John through a series of passageways until he came up against an impasse similar to those that the party had earlier encountered.

John knelt down to examine the rupture in the chamber’s roof, precariously pulling away fragments of residue that had been brought into the passageway in the instance of it’s collapse.

It crossed his mind, as he disturbed the garbage which then served to block the tunnel, that he risked exacerbating the damage which had already been done to the labyrinth’s structure but he proceeded with his labors nonetheless. He felt that he needed solid evidence to substantiate what he then observed to be the only possible solution to the question which the workmen’s presence upon the dump had come to represent in his mind.

After some minutes of investigation, John found what he was looking for, an explosive shell half buried in the rubbish. “Ah” he cried with a mixture of triumph and dismay , “I think that I may have the answer”.

He turned cautiously towards ‘Loris’, “I am afraid that things are going to get worse,” he said, attempting to remain calm. “Much worse”.

‘Loris’, appeared perplexed, “What do you mean ?” He inquired casting john a nervous glance.

John carefully cleaned the rubbish away from the device which then stood in the tunnel before him, noting as he did so that it was attached to both a large canister of fuel and an electrically controlled detonator. “I believe that the labor which is presently being performed upon the dump is going to destroy your home”, he said attempting to control his anxiety.

‘Loris’ initially appeared unimpressed by the assertion. “How ?” He said quietly.

John spent some moments attempting to explain the amount of destruction that explosive artillery was capable of causing when detonated, before informing the two boys that, if his suppositions were correct, they would be forced to leave the ‘Gyre Patch’ to preserve their lives.

‘Loris’ seemed unconvinced. “No”, he said casting John a suspicious glance, “we can go below, it will be safe”.

John was, owing to the, gravity of what he then believed was about to occur, disinclined to heed the child’s ignorance with regards to the matter, “If I am right then the entire dump has been rigged with these shells. When they explode there will be nothing left”, he said, “it is imperative that we evacuate the dump before this happens”.

John was, in this instance, drawn to note that he found it strange to repeat the same sentiments that he had earlier heard the apparition in his room espouse with regards to such matters.

“Had the child somehow been capable of predicting the outcome of what John then perceived to be transpiring ?” He could not be sure, all he knew was that, upon the fruition of the workmen’s labors, the ‘Gyre Patch’ would be no more.

“You must join me on my return voyage from this place”, said John directing his attention towards the two children, “if you remain here then you will almost certainly die”.

“No”, replied ‘Loris’ directing his attention towards the tunnel in which ‘The Dominic’ was buried, “this is my home, I have lived here my whole life. Many years ago I built this place. It has rooms in which to rest, chambers in which to hide,” he said, “when you first came here you killed my oldest friend and took my youngest from me. Why should I trust you ?”.

“You must !” insisted John, “if you do not then I believe that you must surely die,” he paused momentarily to reflect upon what he then felt to be the reason for ‘Nelson Porteaus’ inexplicable presence on Bermuda.

“There is an industrialist, a rich man, who does not care about your presence here”. said John, “he founded this place many years ago and, if my presumption is correct, he now proposes to insure that it’s existence is called to an end. If you remain here then I fear that you will perish alongside his creation”.

“No” said ‘Loris’, calling ‘Cocolo’ to his side, “No, I don’t believe you”.

“You don’t understand”, pleaded John urgently. “The man does not care about your existence here. Your life, your work, it is nothing more than a figure in one of his log books. If if I am right then your continued presence upon the dump will simply be swept aside, a quantity of flotsam thrown forth into the wind”.

‘Loris’ cast John a look of disdain but said nothing.

“The boat” said John directing his attention towards ‘Cocolo’. “Tell ‘Loris’ that it will be his only chance to leave this place when the workmen who have been assigned to conduct the labor that currently appears to be underway complete their task”.

‘Cocolo’ turned to ‘Loris’ and, as requested, proceeded to intimate John’s assertion, employing ‘Drupe’ to overcome the communicative difficulties that the older child was observed to experience.

‘Loris’ appeared to be confused. “Why did you bring ‘Cocolo’ here only to return him back among your kind ?” He inquired intrigued.

“I believed that he belonged here”, replied John issuing an explanatory gesture, “I thought that the ‘Gyre Patch’ would be the best place for him. He seemed to have survived here beneath it’s surface for years when his prospects among my kind were little more than an exercise in humiliation and indignity”. John paused self consciously for some moments before adding. “But not upon these terms. I could not have known what had been proposed with regards to the future of the dump when I embarked upon my scheme to return your friend to it’s midst. I had no idea that I would be placing his life in jeopardy, my intention was to free him”.

‘Loris’ looked perplexed, “we will be safe below”, he intoned, repeating the same sentiment that he had earlier espoused, “‘Cocolo’ will join me and things will be as they were before you found us”, he paused, “however you must leave us. This is not your home. It is not right for you to stay”.

John stared incredulously down at the child, knowing that his obstinacy with regards to the matter would almost certainly spell his doom. “You don’t understand !” He exclaimed his voice acceding a manic quality of pathos in the benighted confines of the subterranean chamber. “There will, if my assumptions are correct, ‘be nothing left’ when the work currently being conducted upon the dump arrives at it’s conclusion”,

‘Loris’ cast John a disparaging glance, before directing his attention towards ‘Cocolo’, “Come to me”, he said quietly, “join me and we will start again as we were before”.

‘Cocolo’ stood indecisively in the center of the tunnel system’s great hallway for some seconds, uncertain as to how he should proceed, before hesitantly making forth towards his friend.

John hastily reached forward to apprehend the boy, however, to his dismay he appeared intent upon joining his friend regardless of the attempt.

Upon accompanying ‘Loris’ in the center of the hallway ‘Cocolo’ turned to face John. He immediately appeared phased as though the exertions of the day’s travel had served to fatigue him. “‘Loris’ is right, I should leave you.” He said uncertainly, “I belong here now”.

“No !” Cried John impatiently. “You must come with me. I am sure that you will perish if you remain here”. He initially found it difficult to believe that, in the light of what he then felt sure was going to happen, ‘Cocolo’ was inclined to simply ignore his requests.

It had, in fact seemed to John at the time that ‘Loris’ shared a kinship with the boy which he had yet to fully comprehend, an instance in which the elder boy appeared to exert an inexplicable degree of influence over his sibling, a relationship that would, in effect, not suffer inter-mediation from any who were not bound by it’s tryst.

‘Loris’ cast John a defiant glance. “It is time,” he said after some moments of consideration. “We will remain, you must leave”.

With these words ‘Loris’ led ‘Cocolo’ quietly from the hallway into an adjoining tunnel and vanished from view.

John ran after the pair in efforts to force them to comply with his wishes but, by the time that he reached the aperture of the passageway into which they had disappeared, the two boys were gone.

John searched vainly through the darkness for a number of minutes before realizing that ‘Loris’ fully proposed to make good upon his intentions and remain upon the dump irrespective of the threat which then served to cast a shadow over it.

After some minutes of futile meandering at the periphery of the tunnel complex, John returned to the structure’ central hallway, an instance in which he was drawn to observe that, owing to ‘Loris’’ decision to remain within the labyrinth, he would, barring the children’s abandonment to face the brunt of ‘Porteaus’’ scheme alone, effectively be forced to wait upon the dump until they chose to re-appear.

John found occasion to reflect for some moments upon the nature of the dilemma with which he was then faced. “Should he wait in the tunnel system for the boys to return or simply leave ?”

“It would be easy”, he thought circumspectly, “he could simply return back to Bermuda and throw caution to the wind. What would it matter ? The children were, when granted reign within their native environment, little more than ghosts”.

He laughed bitterly, it immediately appeared to him that his initial decision to pursue his convictions with regards to the issue of ‘Cocolo’s’ well being would testify nothing more than it’s own impracticability in such an instance, resulting in the event of an atrocity that would, beneath any other term, ordinarily have served to shame the discretion.

It was perhaps through association with the moral futility which such a thought served to inspire in John’s mind, that he decided to remain in the tunnel complex for the night. “Maybe the children would re-appraise their circumstance and decide to relent ?” He could not be sure, all he knew was that, irrespective of their designs in such an instance, they would no longer be there when ‘Porteaus’ decided to detonate the payload of explosives which he appeared to have deposited about their home.

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CHAPTER 23

DREAM TIME…

It was the Greek polymath ‘Daedalus’ who had, in being employed by ‘Pasiphae’ the wife ‘King Minos’, to construct a maze within which to house her son ‘Asterius’, proceeded to devise the dimensions of what was later to become both the destination and cemetery of many Athenian youths.

It was ‘Daedalus’ who, in himself being imprisoned upon the island of Crete some years before it’s submersion beneath the waters of the Mediterranean sea, knew both the secret of the labyrinth which he had created and of ‘the Minotaur’, the name that ‘Asterius’ had chosen to adopt, through association with the murderous sport which was observed to be waged within it’s halls.

Conceived by act of union between ‘Pasiphae’ and the Greek God ‘Zeus’, a deity who, in having adopted the form of a bull to conduct his courtship, was observed to bless ‘Asterius’ with the attributes of both a man and an ox, ‘the Minotaur’ was, through association with ‘Daedalus’’ labors, permitted grace to stalk his father’s maze in pursuit of Greek champions who, in atonement for the murder of ‘Minos’ son ‘Androgeus’ by the people of Athenes, had been sent into it’s midst to confront him in dispute.

Over a course of twenty seven years, forty two youths were sent into the maze, to face ‘Asterius’’ in mortal combat before, in accordance with accounts devoted to the matter, the Greek hero ‘Theseus’, son of king ‘Aegeus’, was witnessed to bring ‘the Minotaur’s’ predatory pursuits to an end, liberating Athenes from it’s debt of honor.

Though Athenes had been released from it’s obligation to Crete, ‘Daedelus’ remained imprisoned upon the island. It seemed that the diabolical contrivance of his maze was still observed to hold currency in ‘Minos’ court though it’s monster lay dead within it’s precinct.

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John found occasion to dwell upon the tale as he sat in the great hallway which had been bored into the mountain of garbage that served to furnish the ‘Gyre Patch’ with disposable resource.

“Had ‘Daedalus’ remained imprisoned upon Crete as the volcanic eruption which was rumored to have destroyed the island at the turn of the first millennium raged fire down upon the confines of his cell ?”

“Was this why the Polymath had decided to build the artificial wings which, in accordance with the tales that saw fit to recant such things, bore both himself and his nephew ‘Icarus’ aloft upon the ruddy thermals of the Mediterranean sea ?”

The analogy struck John with it’s pertinence. “If the two children who had, to his chagrin, decided to remain upon the dump, did not return with him to Bermuda, then they would, themselves, need wings to escape the series of events that he then felt sure was about to transpire”.

He spent some minutes calling into the tunnel network in efforts to attract the children’s attention but they obstinately refused to answer, it seemed that, in making good their escape, they felt that they were at liberty to simply ignore his requests.

“No-one may find those that do not wish to be found”, he mused recalling ‘Cocolo’s’ observations with regards to the events that had served to separate him from ‘Loris’ during his first encounter with the children so many months before.

The words returned to haunt him as he stared down the array of passageways which then stood vacantly before him. When the children chose to hide in the tunnels beneath the dump, they could remain undetected forever, avoiding those that sought them out like smoke in darkness.

He knew, in this instance, that he would not stand a chance of exposing the boy’s position without their consent and the notion served to grieve him. He felt increasingly sure, with regards to the matter, that their reluctance to comply with his wishes would irrevocably seal their doom.

He prepared to bed down in efforts to wait upon the children for as long as he could, pulling an amount of fabric that he been discarded at the periphery of the the chamber about him in efforts to muster warmth. “Maybe the boys would venture return ? Perhaps the show of earnestness which his decision to remain with the tunnel network may be observed to represent, would yet conceivably compel them towards adherence”.

John pulled a pouch of tobacco from his pocket and began to roll a joint. He felt that he needed something to take his mind off the predicament which he was then obliged to face.

The stunt that the children had chosen to perform was essentially a waiting game, he did not believe that it was necessary to confront it’s rudiment at face value, if a joint could take his mind off the practicalities of his circumstance for a while, then so be it, judging by the way that things then appeared to him, such a diversion would make little or no difference to the outcome of his vigil.

He applied a match to a small block of Cannabis allowing it’s heat to permeate the article’s crust and crumbled an amount of charred resin into a cigarette paper mixing it with a few shreds of tobacco to taste before lighting the joint and inhaling it’s smoke.

It was good. He manipulated the block of resin’s mass between his fingers before returning it to his pocket. He believed, upon immediate appraisal, that it had been imported from Morocco, it bore the hallmarks of such fare.

The pang of the drug hung in the air for some minutes before gravitating towards the great hall’s eves like an angel purifying the foul air in which it lingered with a final act of martyrdom before making headway towards heaven. It struck John, in this instance, that there was not much more that could be done other than to wait.

As the influence of the narcotic began to reap it’s effect upon John’s mind, he found occasion to notice that the dimensions of the hallway in which he then sat seemed strangely familiar to him, as though despite both the chamber’s great size and it’s utter peculiarity in the instance of appraisal, he had somehow always existed there, an item of junk salvaged for some parochial purpose by the children’s thrift, a debauched television, an altar fashioned from aluminium cans, a faded bill poster, a length of rubber tire, a world unto itself replete with it’s own customs and conventions, a vista that, in being viewed adjacently through a warped lens, yet proved capable of preserving many of the commercial homilies which had once served in it’s inspiration.

John could not adequately qualify the sense of belonging that he was inclined to feel at that time, a sentiment of lucid detachment which, in granting his mind grace to perceive itself as an object, an item of rubbish interred in plaster, or a representative of some unsung convention subtly implied by the faded primaries and mildewed recesses of it’s heritage, served to welcome him as an old friend dissolving any distinction that he may seek to draw between himself and his circumstance, but he was inclined to believe at that moment, as though he had somehow always been entrenched among the dump’s bounty of rubbish, as if it would be a deception to suppose that he had ever been elsewhere.

His entire life, appeared before him in kaleidoscopic array as an act of sleight, an optical illusion facilitated by layer after layer of superimposed meaning, moral baggage designed to hold him from what he would otherwise consider to be it’s truth.

Rules upon rules, lies upon lies, promises upon promises, heartbreaks upon heartbreaks, a compendium of arguments presented forth in various states of absurd suspense by whatever, it seemed, was presumed to be his own predilection with regards to their detail.

He glanced over towards the wall where the strange markings carved into the rock by the boys remained as they had been left so many years before, and, collecting himself together, he began to read, absorbing the peculiar significance that the symbols then appeared to possess in his mind, sifting them through his brain like gold upon a sieve in efforts to extract some vestige of meaning from their spread.

He reached forth into the darkness and ran his hands minutely over the alphabet that then stood before him, investing perhaps as much effort into his interpretation of it’s scheme as had once gone into it’s creation, and, as he read, he began to understand, he began to perceive the greater plan to which the letters circumscribed, to comprehend every story that they had ever told, to see how they bred and multiplied, laying sod upon sod until Babel bowed down before the weight of it’s own boast, to observe how they broke glistening adjunct from their axis, describing states of mind that existed apart from themselves. Lunacies, loves and horrors of the void, every inflection every inference bound together at once, unified in clots yet frozen apart like pottery cast from loam.

As he stood before the wall of letters, he found occasion to recall ‘Saul’ the spirit who, in claiming to have inhabited the ‘Gyre Patch’ since the time of it’s conception, had subsequently seemed capable of entering his mind, teasing adherence from the absence of belief which he was inclined to espouse towards matters of a supernatural persuasion.

John could not be sure but it seemed to him at that moment in time, as he stood facing the peculiar lexicon of symbols which then lay before him, that the spirit was somehow present in the fabric of the hall, bleeding through it’s shadows like groundwater, coaching him subtly towards the act of comprehension, a final revelation of all that which had, as yet, remained unsaid about the cultural peculiarities to which the children had, since the time of their conception, been inclined to ascribe faith.

John began to understand the golden age to which ‘The Dominic’ had referred during his first encounter with the gang of boys on the ‘Gyre Patch’. “Four thousand years of light”, a perfect sovereignty, bound together in tales long since forgotten by the progress of time, a period which, in extending for more than twice that which had been allotted to the affairs of mankind upon earth, was, in accordance with the child’s observations upon the matter, inexplicably called to an end.

He saw the desert that premeditated this ending stretching forth for miles beneath a rock grey sky. He saw the agency of it’s punishment arrive in cross hatched file to suckle and bind it’s minion complicit, saw the war that then wavered between push and purge for what seemed an age in efforts to secure the issues of providence and fate. It all made perfect sense, it was how civilizations came to an end, there were reasons which would appear mad in the instance of their disproof and then, as was the way with regards to such matters, there were none.

He saw, in the words then emblazoned upon the wall before him, the image of ‘Saul’ riding the storm above his flat in Bermuda, striding across heaven like a planetary equinox, he saw ‘Saul’ in the rats that were compelled to feast upon the fallen citizens of ‘Hamilton’ as the sky groaned with the frozen percussion of countless shattered cries above their heads, he saw ‘Saul’ in the spider that wove fresh vintage from it’ silk, strengthening it’s domain as it then saw fit in the darkness of his flat, he saw ‘Saul’ foretelling the fate of the ‘Gyre Patch’, the destiny which John now knew that it must surely pursue.

He saw ‘Saul’ in all these things, observing, beneath what he then felt to be the spirit’s guidance, how correct they could be, and, in appreciating the novelty of their spread, how little that may matter. After all, when things come to an end other things begin, that is the way of both civilization and it’s subject, the two compare facts and what does it matter ?

As he read, he was drawn to the conclusion that the symbols were older than the boys had initially implied them to be, an instance in which the runes seemed, within his mind, to have been there, inscribed into the limestone beneath the rubbish for far longer than the dump itself had ever existed.

John reflected back upon the children’s observations with regards to the matter. They had claimed that the hallway had initially been illustrated by them much as they believed themselves to have lived forever within it’s precinct.

John remembered that the assertion had not made any sense to him at the time, the boys must surely once have originated from elsewhere, the notion that they had simply spontaneously appeared upon the dump was plainly inconceivable, and yet, as he stood poring over the text on the wall, interpreting it’s detail in the half light of the vast hallway, he began to perceive how the existence of both the children and the script could, in being bound to each other detached from the economies of common sense, yet persist an age at once together irrespective of his own presumptions with regards to such matters.

Stories were, after all, just stories, in being applicable to any situation and any time, they simply began and ended, divulging their quota as they ran their course, that was their purpose, they demanded no further explanation.

The inexplicable nature of the children’s presence on the dump had, in this sense, appeared to John, as no more than a story, a fixture drafted from elsewhere replete with the novel implications of it’s own peculiarity, a tale of disaster, defeat and woe to add to the many which had, throughout the vast spans of time that may see fit to measure the toll of the void, already been told.

The story had no true beginning and no true end, it merely recanted it’s realm of incident, stockpiling it in parts upon the strength of it’s detail, sorting it, collating it, categorizing it, homogenizing it.

It was the tale of distant star, floating amidst asteroids upon the edge of Kuiper’s belt, a story of comets falling through meteor showers against the vast pan of the sky, a tale of worlds formed replete with their own internal solar systems, a story of cosmic debris flung forth into the void.

It could, thought John, serve to tease the intrigue of reductionist philosophy if it were ever granted province among the affairs of mankind. However as it stood, it would dwell upon that which could yet surprise the ennui of those who had presumably once found occasion to attend it’s implication.

It had occurred to John as he read through the detail of the script that the collection of stories had taken years to accumulate, it stood to reason that they would take years to understand.

He hesitantly glanced back into the shadows which lay at the periphery of the chamber, the children remained hidden alongside the consignment of explosives that had been surreptitiously deposited by ‘Portaeus’ through association with some scheme which John had yet to fully comprehend.

He knew that, taking such considerations into respect, he would, by all accounts with regards to the detail of such matters, certainly not have years to comprehend the script which he presently beheld.

Where did it begin and where did it end ? John could not be sure, it was a compendium, a patchwork of disasters collated together from every corner of the galaxy, incorporating within it’s compass the accounts of every culture, every creed, every scientific hiatus that had, it seemed, ever occurred across the countless eons of time to which the lexicon was observed to circumscribe.

There were things included in it’s detail which, in citing the lessons learned from periods of conflict that could not even be remembered, predetermined the outcome of other situations which appeared almost contemporary. Laws made and unmade as times changed, different branches of science which, in being separated from each other by millennia, were observed to circumscribe to the same shortcomings, contradictory policies pertaining to what should and should not be acceptable pending the event of their circumstance, moments of confidence and moments of security, times of persecution and ambivalence which appeared to spread forth in varying states of abandon like dried hops upon the floor of a kiln.

The inscriptions attempted to make sense of their quota in this manner, with grand themes that could prove capable of unifying all things, ideas, philosophies, proofs and disproofs, it all seemed so rational, it could all be made to work.

John withdrew from the wall his mind reeling with the revelation of it’s horde. He did not believe that he could continue, it was all far too much to comprehend.

He would wait, such things took time to appreciate, when they were gone as he supposed that they would be when ‘Portaeus’ finally called his lot, they could take forever and what would it matter.

After having read the the series of symbols which had been inscribed upon the wall John wearily returned back to the bed which he had made for himself and, covering himself with the sheaves of discarded clothing from which it was composed, swiftly fell asleep.

His sleep was, in this instance, dreamless, he felt that he had already dreamed.

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CHAPTER 24

FIRE IN THE HOLD…

There exists a state between wakefulness and sleep in which the realms of the subconscious mind see fit to invade those that are customarily perceived when awake, a half world of occluded supposition and lucid imagining in which things that are ordinarily taken for granted may not be quite as they immediately appear.

Shadows may grow long when bound beneath the term of such a state, the retreat of ghosts that, that in betokening adherence with gilded fingers and wry smiles, coach spasmodic movement from what would ordinarily be detached unconcern, an auspice beneath which the inattention of thought may, in effect, be perceived to merge with the harder axioms of temporal existence, blurring the distinctions that exist between the two.

There are, in this manner, observed to be physical restrictions, moral considerations which detract from the sphere of entropy that such a condition may be presumed to inhabit, a contradiction of interests in which the native discretion of the sleeper is, in being challenged by what would appear to be the subversion of his will, forced towards re-appraisal lest he be held accountable for matters over which he avows no control.

Like the token currency which fury may be presumed to wield over states of cold submission, states that, in truth, may be observed to have no choice. The augur of conscientious reservation may be perceived to cast a shadow over the limitless parameter of it’s dreams, drawing them to order lest it spite it’s own resolve.

After all such things are purely subjective, how can it be known what species of initiative may, beyond pity, angst or remorse, serve to move the human soul towards decision. One can only pledge one’s word and strive to present accurate testimony upon behalf of others.

There were, after, all no secrets with regards to such matters. No submerged agenda. Human judgement was, barring self confessed indiscretion, necessarily always good, it’s crimes much as it’s accidents, were always it’s own.

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John was awoken by the smell of petroleum, a scent which, in invading his senses with the subtle euphoria to which such things may, through association with commercial fuel usage, be observed to ascribe, had presumably saturated the atmosphere of the great hallway as he lay sleeping.

He rose groggily, checking his bearings. The engraving which had been chiseled into the wall by the children at some immemorial time, lay as he had left them before having fallen asleep, their magic appeared somehow diminished in the harsh light of morning that then sifted into the chamber through the flaws in it’s architecture, little more than the aimless vandalism of disaffected youth.

The boys remained hidden somewhere out of sight in the matrix of passageways which then radiated outwards about the circumference of the hall in which he stood, he called into the tunnel network in one last futile effort to bring them to his side, but, as before they remained singularly inattentive. “Maybe they could hear him, maybe not ?” Whatever their verdict with regards to the matter, they chose not to answer.

The odor of petroleum was quite overpowering. It bled through the air like a narcotic elixir, causing John to feel unsteady. He immediately felt that he would need to leave the tunnel system lest the perfume succeed in claiming his consciousness, so he made forth towards the hallway’s exit and out towards the alcove formed by the limbs of fallen industrial apparatus that lay upon the dump’s coast in efforts to clear his head.

As John stood beneath the archway watching the tide shift through the loose rubbish at the dump’s edge, he found occasion to notice that there appeared to be no seagulls present upon the ‘Gyre Patch’ that morning. The absence immediately struck him as unusual, it lent the tip a peculiarly a somber quality which he had previously failed to appreciate.

After some minutes of recuperation John decided to perform a reconnaissance in efforts to divulge the cause of the smell which had served to blight the dump’s interior, ascending the mound within which the haulage apparatus was entrenched in efforts to conduct a brief survey.

Staring out across the sheaves of derelict rubbish that then glistened iridescently before him in the morning sun like a shoal of stranded fish left dead upon a beach, he noticed that the assortment of vehicles and aircraft which had previously stood upon the concrete platform which surrounded the communications block were no longer present. It appeared as though they had left during the night.

The absence served to concern him, he had found the notion of human occupation upon the ‘Gyre Patch’ strangely reassuring, despite the observation that he was not compelled to fraternize with it’s number.

As John surveyed the clotted vista which then opened before him, he observed that an assortment of metal armatures had been circumstantially erected across it’s expanse, a phalanx of right angled struts that, in being powered by what John believed to be a series of remote controlled winches attached to overhead wires, roved inexorably back and forth across the site’s surface like reapers claiming vintage from insufficient soil.

For some reason, the scene served to remind him of a number of biblical references pertaining to the ‘Nephilim’ which he had found occasion to read throughout is youth.

The inexorable passage of the metal limbs over the rubbish appeared to resemble the progress of a troop of tireless plowmen across a field, a contingent that in knowing neither law or the moral equations to which it may be presumed to ascribe, were observed to persist in their actions, grinding ceaselessly through their motions, for no other reason than that they did.

It immediately occurred to John at the time that the devices were fertilizing the mounds of refuse which lay beneath their aegis, they appeared to be attached to pipes that, in being trained through their length, were inundating the soil with fluid.

As he monitored the curious progress of the machines back and forth across the garbage John smelled the air, noting that the same odor of petroleum which he had noticed in the hallway was also present upon the surface of the dump.

It seemed that the arsenal of metal armatures were spraying the ground with fuel, it settled in pools across the extent of the expanse evaporating slowly in the morning sun.

John stood slowly examining the scene that then transpired before him, there was to his mind at the time only one possible reason why ‘Portaeus’ would be treating the area with fuel, this being to compound the effect of the ordinance which his work teams had buried beneath it’s surface.

He paused momentarily to reflect upon the issue, the industrialist’s scheme was clearly entering the last stages of it’s execution, within days, maybe hours, there would no longer be any waste disposal site in the Sargasso.

He reflected back upon the battery of explosives which he had earlier observed to be buried on the tip. When the bombs were detonated the rubbish would be incinerated, it would burn like a hearth from it’s base up, anything left alive upon the expanse would surely be fried.

He shivered at the prospect of what he then felt sure was about to transpire before deciding to re-enter the labyrinth in the futile hope that he may yet succeed in drawing the children forth from it’s midst.

Hastily entering the great hallway John decided to employ the small drum which ‘Cocolo’ had earlier used to attract Loris’ attentions, beating it vigorously as he composed the meter of a song which he thought would resemble the boys’ chosen method of address.

“‘Cocolo’, ‘Cocolo’”, he cried attempting to overcome his apprehension with regards to imminence of the matters that he then felt certain were about to occur, “for God’s sake, come back. You must come back. If you do not then you will surely die”.

He choked as he articulated the term of the plea, the smell of the petroleum in the hallway was heavy with the odor of the rubbish into which it had bled.

‘‘Loris’… ‘Cocolo’ come back here at once”, he cried struggling against the fumes. “It isn’t a game any more”.

The tunnel system echoed emptily with the sound of the tirade for some time, but, as before there was no response from the two children, they appeared to remain entirely unaware of John’s presence in the hall, much as they were presumably unaware of the petroleum vapor which he vainly hoped would lend gravity to his wishes.

“Cooccoolloo !”, John cried, his eyes watering as the scent of stagnant ether invaded his senses,“Cooccoolloo !”

He waited for what seemed an age attempting to bait some form of reaction from the maze of vacant passageways which radiated forth from the hallway before his efforts were interrupted by the sound of a Klaxon ringing forth it’s dirge from some gantry situated upon the surface of the dump.

John hesitated, glancing up towards the source of the noise. In bearing the connotation of evacuation within it’s meter, it served to fill him with an acute sense of foreboding.

He knew, at that moment, that he would be forced to leave the tunnel network with or without the children and make forth towards the boat if he himself was to survive the outcome of the mayhem that the Klaxon would, within reason, appear to be initiating.

“How long did he have ? Ten minutes, an hour”, he could not be sure, he began to perspire with anticipation, he felt sure that the children’s obstinacy would ultimately spell their doom, an instance in which he was drawn to note that there was, in effect, nothing which could be done to resolve the dilemma that they were then observed to represent. When the fire started, the boys would, to all intents and purposes, remain beyond his reach forever.

John waited for a few more minutes unsure whether or not he should leave the dump before his nerve snapped and he began to laugh. The climate of imminence within the vast hallway was almost unbearable, it circumstantially found occasion to assume the dimensions of absurdist comedy in his mind.

The sense of blithe abandon which, through association with despair, he then found occasion to entertain, was predictably broken by the detonation of the first bomb, it erupted against the fabric of the tunnel network like rain against foil.

The noise was deafening, a gulf of of heat spewed forth from a section of the labyrinth to John’s aft raging forth through it’s midst alongside the scent of all that which it had found occasion to disturb.

John cowered in the corner of the chamber as the sound of collapsing garbage and sudden wind rang about the heart of the labyrinth like a trapped bird.

The heat was infernal, the tunnel network immediately appeared to confine it’s spread concentrating it’s intensity like the gauze of a blowlamp.

As the petroleum in which the dump had been immersed caught alight, the hallway began to fill with smoke, the obstinacy of the rubbish over which the flames then played would take some time to disintegrate.

John was drawn to note, in this instance, that the fumes also served to complete the chamber’s darkness, blinding him as they impaired his breathing. It took moments for him to realize that he would not be able to remain in the hallway any longer.

As the smoke permeated the tunnel network, billowing forth through the shadows like the aftermath of some feat of conjuration, a second incendiary device erupted from another location in the tunnel network, reverberating around the labyrinth like an avalanche.

This time John could see the nebulous appetite of the fire which it spawned rolling up through the smoke like some vast beast that, in having conspired brutality for an age in the depths of the earth, had suddenly decided to indulge it’s will.

As the temperature rose John was inclined to draw a crude association between his presence in the hallway and entering the caldera of an active volcano. The primeval mist of some imminent catastrophe boiled and churned through the darkness with relentless appetite, inviting him to partake in the tribulations of Hell

He could hear tin cans popping in the heat, glass cracking, lengths of rubber and plastic spitting and wheezing as the fire encroached, it seemed in the infernal catacomb that such things were miraculously capable of defying gravity being rendered friable and buoyant in the thermal currents that wafted forth through the earth.

John’s hair and eye brows began to burn, he could smell the caustic scent of his own gradual immolation through the collage of odors thrown forth by the fire. It was an unpleasant odor which, beneath any other circumstance would have betokened caution.

His skin began to hurt, it was though his face and hands were, in having instantaneously been re-constituted from glazed porcelain in the heat of the fire, inclined to crack whenever he moved, searing his flesh to his bone and breaking it there in crazed sheets of pain.

He made one last desperate attempt to attract the boys’ attention, pleading through the heat haze like a martyr praying for relief before hastily withdrawing towards the hallway’s exit.

It immediately seemed to John at the time that, irrespective of his wishes with regards to such matters, the children would, as he had predicted, be forced to face the conflagration upon their own terms. The thought served to sadden him, their fate was entirely inhumane.

As John stood upon the shallow cove beneath the derelict haulage apparatus which served to mark the tunnel network’s entrance he found occasion to glance out across the dump observing that there was effectively no way that he could return back into the labyrinth to protract his search for the two boys.

‘Portaeus’’ team of laborers had been professionally trained and executed the specifics of their task well, the fire had spread across the entirety of the dump in minutes, within the next few hours it would consume the site entirely, there would be nothing left upon the ‘Gyre Patch’ by nightfall.

It struck John, with regards to the matter, that the affectation towards domesticity which the communication block built upon the site appeared to espouse would play forfeit to the industrialist’s scheme, an instance in which he was drawn to suppose that, in retaining vested interests in other locations, the plutocrat was prepared to sacrifice such things as he extended province forth to consolidate premium elsewhere.

Briefly taking stock, John knew that if he did not return to his boat post haste, it would also be claimed by the flames, divesting him of his own chance to escape the inferno.

Duly ascending the mound which served to separate the entrance of the tunnel network from ‘O’Leary’s’ vessel, John silently bade the two children farewell knowing, in his heart, that they would not survive the conflagration and made forth towards the water’s edge in efforts to plot his return back to Bermuda.

He swiftly boarded the vessel, noting as he did so that the sparks from the burning garbage had found occasion to spit forth their intent onto it’s deck placing it’s frame at risk.

Deftly starting the boat’s motor, John duly pulled out into the open water, at the periphery of the dump and turned it’s keel towards Bermuda. He would, in being cheated of his chance to save the two boys, undoubtedly find time to commiserate his losses after having left the ‘Gyre Patch’.

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CHAPTER 25

FLYING…

In serving to testify the combined might of both European and American commerce in the waters of the Sargasso, The ‘Gyre Patch’ could have been a permanent gesture, a temple to the almost limitless realm of diversity facilitated by mass trade, it breathed and bled, clotted and perspired, waxed and waned exactly as mass produced fare did, it had taken years to accumulate and could, if granted province, theoretically have taken yet longer to establish premium.

Maybe such things were subjective but John felt as he reflected back upon the fire which then raged across the tip’s extent that the site could, barring ‘Portaeus’’ hand in it’s destiny, perhaps have survived an age.

It had seemed to John in this sense that the site had suffered beneath the judgement of those that had created it. “Maybe that was it’s nature ?” a right of possession was, in the end, no more than a power of dismissal, such things played subject to any generalization that may be presumed of them, any sleight, any cruelty, any fate absolute or otherwise appearing permissible beneath the term of ownership to which their moniker ascribed. A dump was, after all never any more than a dump, it’s pretext was disposable.

These are the thoughts that served to trouble John as he edged ‘O’Leary’s’ trawler into the water.

‘Portaeus’ had been a man of commerce, his decision to incinerate the stockpile of refuse on the ‘Gyre Patch’ was in fact unremarkable, it was part of an aging process much like any other, the rubbish would be more manageable afterwards. But the thought of the two boys trapped in the midst of the inferno nonetheless served to grieve John more than he immediately liked to acknowledge, they were, although strange, ultimately human beings with human priorities and emotions.

He found it acutely distressing to observe that they could simply be swept aside like so much garbage through association with their incident on the dump.

_________________________

As John made headway towards Bermuda, cranking the engine of ‘O’Leary’s’ vessel to speed, he found occasion to cast his eyes back upon the stretch of open water which then served to divide the small boat from the dump, observing that, in the time that it had taken him to reach safety, the fire had succeeded in claiming utter province over the site’s payload of refuse.

It raged into the crisp air of morning like a second sun keenly breaking zenith against the horizon beneath a thick column of smoke.

The scene incidentally served to remind him of a documentary that he had found occasion to watch whilst at college, a short film which, in depicting the Atomic test series that had been performed on the Bikini Atoll in the South Pacific during the nineteen fifties, was noted to have heralded the beginning of the Kennedy administration in American politics.

The fire appeared in his mind like the virgin corona of a Hydrogen bomb reflecting blindly into the sea as it labored to clear the obstinacy represented by the rubbish which spat and churned like a train of reluctant gears at it’s base.

“That’s the broad brush of it,” John mused introspectively gazing back into the flames.

The residue left in the wake of the inferno would undoubtedly one day become a natural paradise, then perhaps the artificial island would be spared the attentions of mankind.

He had to admit, glancing back towards the ‘Gyre Patch’, that ‘Portaeus’ had his ways. “Buy low and sell lower”, the attitude struck John as being something of a killing joke.

There yet remained a place in big business for cynicism he thought, reflecting briefly upon what appeared to be the industrialist’s methodology with regards to his affairs, it served to define the moral pretext of any delicacies that might accidentally be passed forth across the counter of exchange.

John turned glancing down at the floor of the boat’s cabin cabin, there appeared to be something sliding across it’s boards, an object which was shifting back and forth in sympathy with the motion of the boat.

He knelt down to investigate the anomaly. It was ‘Cocolo’s’ Rosary, the child had left it on the ship before having disembarked.

John retrieved the article and uttered a silent prayer, it’s incident immediately appeared tragic in his mind. The keepsake of a warrior that, in having survived countless battles, had finally succumbed to the edict of fate, a futile reminder of all that which could have been.

The rosary served, in it’s fashion as a memento that, upon having been reduced down to the size of a domestic homily in the aftermath of catastrophe, lost none of it’s ability to move John towards compassion.

He tentatively rotated the ceramic beads of the item between his fingers, and, despite his better judgement, began to cry, he felt sure that ‘Cocolo’ and ‘Loris’ would have died in agony as the inferno claimed province over the dump.

He knew that, owing to the children’s obstinacy with regards to the matter, there was nothing he could have done to save them, but the thought of the death that they has suffered nonetheless caused him to shudder. The pain associated with physical immolation was indescribable, it’s only redemption further dissipation among the currents of the void.

Wars were fought because of such things John mused, perhaps they even ‘should’ be. It occurred to him in this instance that the children had not had a chance.

John reflected back upon what he knew of the labyrinth’s infrastructure, it had extended for some distance beneath the surface of the dump, entering into the deposits of limestone that lay beneath it’s mass, an instance in which he circumstantially found occasion to recall that there had been a fresh water spring located within the maze’s spread.

“Maybe there were catacombs beneath the site which followed the course of such springs out towards their source ?” “Perhaps ‘Loris’ had been right ?” “Maybe the tunnel network ‘could’ yet serve to provide both himself and ‘Cocolo’ with sanctuary ?” “Perhaps the two boys were still alive ?”

Although improbable the notion that the children could have survived the fire served to inspire John with a sense of groundless optimism, a sentiment which he felt could hypothetically yet redeem both the children’s plight and his own conscience with regards to the issue of the abandonment.

He preferred to view things this way. It served to ease his thoughts with regards to all that which was then observed to lie beyond his concern.

____________________

Bidding the children a silent farewell as he had done in the hallway beneath the ‘Gyre Patch’, John was momentarily compelled to dwell upon what may yet lie in store for him upon the island of Bermuda, an instance in which he observed that ‘Portaeus’ would, in having been called to attend the issue of ‘Cocolo’s’ absence, almost certainly have employed a team of men to stake out the small flat which he then occupied in ‘Hamilton’.

In being capable of obscene frankness with regards to many of his business activities, the plutocrat was, in John’s estimation, also capable of great subtlety, it was how the man’s interests had extended province into virtually every aspect of Bermuda’s economy.

It would not have surprised John, in this instance, if his flat had been ransacked. ‘Portaeus’’ men almost certainly had access to search warrants which could effectively grant them reign to trespass upon the island as they wished. That was how the plutocrat’s influence spread to encompass all aspects of Bermuda’s economy, his agents could come and go as they pleased, applying the peculiar methodology to which he was observed to avow credence as they saw fit.

John found occasion to dwell upon the matter as the trawler made steady progress across the water. The thought of the industrialist’s continued intervention among his affairs serve to unsettle him, an instance in which he felt that he would be forced to employ care upon venturing back towards his flat. ‘Portaeus’’ capacity for moral disregard was appalling at best, the consequence of having directly spited his ire was a genuinely worrying prospect to entertain.

As John approached the coast of ‘St.George’s’ he was incidentally drawn to observe that, owing to the decision which he had made to remain upon the dump for the night, he would not arrive back in ‘Hamilton’ until some time after he had initially proposed to return ‘O’Leary’s’ boat, a consideration which, in being compounded by the defacement of the vessel’s deck by falling embers would, within reason, demand some form of explanation.

John thought for some minutes as to how he could explain the lapse in judgement which had caused him to extend the term of the mariner’s agreement before deciding to scrub the trawler’s boards down with the cake of soap that the old sailor had circumstantially left upon the shelf in it’s cabin.

Although the block of carbolic served to re-ignite the pity that John was inclined to feel towards ‘Cocolo’s’ fate, he was nonetheless relieved to note that the marks left by the ash came away fairly easily beneath his attentions, and after some moments of cursory sanitation, John began to feel that he was at home on the boat having spent his life at sea engaged in the enactment of similar tasks, a pretense beneath which the vessel was within a matter of minutes rendered relatively presentable.

Pulling the trawler parallel with ‘St. George’s’, John watched the familiar coastline of Bermuda slide silently into view, it would take him approximately thirty minutes to reach ‘Hamilton’, then he would be forced to explain the reason for the delay.

He stood for some moments at the wheel of the vessel attempting to contrive a suitable alibi. “His family had been interested in Bermuda’s history and he had decided to dock at ‘St.George’s’ for the night to explore the area’s contingent of naval fortifications”. It seemed like a viable explanation, the seventeenth century arms depots to the North of Bermuda were perhaps the island’s most interesting feature. Hopefully the old mariner would accept his excuse.

The coast sang against the side of the boat as John neared ‘Hamilton’, it’s contingent of festively colored houses, streets and moorings glittering in the morning light like a wedding train. Before long he would be back upon Bermuda and the events of the past two days would be nothing more than a memory. A memory or a dream, time frequently proved adept at blurring such distinctions.

John found occasion to remember a line from ‘Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s’ poem ‘The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner’ as he pulled the boat into ‘Hamilton’s’ harbor. There was, to his mind at the time, a degree of truth in the observation that the quaint optimism of a familiar coastline may be construed to resemble a marriage reception after having grown accustomed to the indiscriminate majesty of the sea.

Pulling smoothly into ‘Hamilton’s’ harbor, John gently coached the boat into alignment with the quayside and disembarked leaving notification of his return with the harbor master.

O’Leary’ was waiting upon the dock as he made forth back across the bay to secure it’s moorings.

“Did you have a good trip ?” Inquired the old sailor greeting John amiably. He seemed mercifully unconcerned by the postponement of the boat’s return.

“Yes”, replied John self consciously, “it went well. The weather was good and ‘St.George’s’ was magnificent. We even had a chance to visit ‘Ordinance Island’”.

He reached into his pocket and delicately handed the vessel’s keys to ‘O’Leary’. “You have a fine boat”, he said after some moments of consideration, “I enjoyed sailing in it”.

“Much obliged”, replied the old mariner smiling, “she seldom disappoints”. He paused, extracting a leather wallet from his coat, “you will be wanting your deposit”, he said casually leafing through a sheaf of dollar bills.

“Any overheads ?” Inquired john circumspectly.

“Not that I can think of”, replied ‘O’Leary’ deftly handing John the five hundred dollars that had been laid down as insurance for the vessel. “A deal is a deal, you can spare that type of thing for usury.” He hesitated casting John a wry glance. “Come back to me if you ever need to hire a boat, she’ll be here waiting for you if your family ever want a taste of the sea”.

John took the money and placed it into his pocket, “Thank you”, he said quietly, “I might just do that”.

After having conducted the exchange, John bade the sailor farewell, wishing him the best of luck in his future engagements. ‘O’Leary’ had appeared to him in that instant like a permanent fixture in Bermuda’s economy, as much a part of the island as ‘Hamilton’ itself. The notion that he would be there, standing on the prow of his vessel like a physical incarnation of the port’s naval heritage, served, in it’s manner to offer John it’s own surety.

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CHAPTER 26

RESUMPTION…

After bidding ‘O’Leary’ farewell John returned cautiously to his flat, performing a brief reconnaissance about it’s periphery to insure that ‘Portaeus’ had not assigned a contingent of men to apprehend him as he committed himself to it’s enclave.

In having found occasion to familiarize himself with the customary fare of American Police Dramas throughout his youth, John was half expecting to see the sinister flank of one of the many black limousines which the industrialist was observed to employ through association with his business engagements situated innocuously at the circumference of the premises when he arrived, however, to his relief the area surrounding the property contrarily appeared to be practically devoid of life.

The conurbation in which John lived was largely residential and it’s inhabitants seldom found occasion to protract their domestic affairs far beyond the confines of their homes. “Perhaps the plutocrat had thought the presence of one of his cars in such a location would raise too many questions ?” John could not be sure but his access to the flat appeared to be clear.

Slowly turning the key in the rear door of the property, John hesitantly made forth across it’s threshold and, steeling himself for confrontation, nervously checked through it’s inventory in efforts to deduce whether or not the building had been entered in his absence.

Again he was relieved to discover that the flat appeared to have been undisturbed during his sojourn on the ‘Gyre Patch’.

John laughed, it immediately seemed to him, that the industrialist had decided to pursue the issue of ‘Cocolo’s’ disappearance no further than his boardroom.

He paused reflectively for a few moments, the singular absence of incident which presently served to distinguish his immediate situation found occasion to concern him.

The observation that ‘Portaeus’ had not, from the evidence represented by the sanctity of the flat, as yet chosen to interfere directly with John’s personal affairs, was no surety that he would not find some other way of drawing odds. It immediately seemed inconceivable to him that the industrialist would simply let the issue of the boy’s absence run fallow.

John sat down upon his settee and deftly flicked his radio on. A conversation between an Irish American fiction novelist who had, through association with the incident of cancer in his family, developed a new form of therapy and a college post graduate that had recently completed a book about ‘The John Maynard Keynes’ reservoir in East London was being broadcast by a B.B.C world service channel .

John turned the volume of the radio up. The show’s compere was an ex clergyman who, in himself having incidentally written a semi fictional account of ‘George Bernard Shaw’s’ life , was noted to take the program’s subject matter lightly.

The course of the debate turned through association with the Holy Trinity to reflect upon the manner in which man’s proclivity for error could, in terms of human understanding, be deemed to value the comparative innocence of childhood, an instance in which the clergyman observed that the sustenance of youthful naivete was, in representing both the ultimate objective of mankind and the gauge of it’s corruption, also the pretext beneath which any information which saw fit to prioritize the ignorance of children over the ideal which they may be presumed to embody would correspondingly be passed.

The clergyman appeared to think in this instance that there could be circumstances beneath which man was, far from being a patron of moral innocence, effectively just stupid, a pretext which, in frequently appearing to distinguish the true toll of fate from the optimism of those who would choose to protract the homilies of parentage or indeed those who would seek to sanctify their folly beneath the wisdom of the Trinity, seemed, in most instances, to do nothing other than bring it’s own oversights to an end.

“If perfect ignorance were ideal”, the clergyman explained, “then knowledge would, in adversely performing the service of reducing people to it’s platitude, serve to do nothing other than cultivate a climate of prejudice and superstition”, he paused drawing breath before posing the rhetorical question “What if, regardless of the positive attributes that may be read into such things, a reduction to stupidity was all and there ‘was’ no nobility in ignorance ?”

As John sat listening to the radio the conversation between the three men turned to how much money both respective writers wished to earn through association with their endeavors, an instance in which, to John’s surprise, ‘Portaeus’’ name was mentioned with reference to the reservoir’s finance.

It occurred, to him in this instance, that even mass media was not spared the obligation of paying some form of token homage to the plutocrat’s influence among global affairs, he seemed to appear anywhere that the topic of big business was raised as a forum for debate.

____________________

John reached over and switched the radio off. The less he heard about the extent of the industrialist’s interests with regards to such matters, the better.

It crossed John’s mind, as he reflected back upon the program’s detail, that with regards to the issue of ‘Cocolo’s’ abduction, the plutocrat’s revenge would potentially be meted over decades in a purely circumstantial manner rather than directly.

‘Portaeus’ had his fingers in every log book, ever census list, every bureaucratic charter on earth and retained the power to starve people out of any one of them.

There would effectively be nowhere left for John to run as the teeth of the industrialist’s trap silently drew closed, he would, within the chain of dependence that was then observed to define his existence on Bermuda, hypothetically be disgraced and die in poverty without raising further issue.

‘Portaeus’ had, to John’s knowledge, inferred that he did not consider ‘Cocolo’ to have been responsible for ‘Bob Harvest’s’ death, an instance in which the mortician’s opinion with regards to the matter was, through correspondence with such an assertion, observed to be that the man had died of natural causes.

It had occurred to John in this instance that ‘Harvest’ had been a relatively healthy man who seldom found occasion to suffer ailment and the Coroner’s verdict with regards to the matter had served, in it’s fashion, to grate against his better judgement.

He paused briefly to reflect upon the issue. “Could ‘Portaeus’ have played a part in the sequence of events which had ultimately led to ‘Harvest’s’ demise ?”

The industrialist’s arrival upon the island after the man’s death had, to all intent and purposes been entirely inexplicable, the plutocrat had, throughout the course of his life, accrued enough money to live anywhere on earth.“Why had he decided to occupy Bermuda ?”

John sat turning the sequence of events which had led to the death over in his mind.

“Was it possible that, in deciding to personally attend the detail of the ‘Gyre Patch’s’ incineration, ‘Portaeus’ had found occasion to confer with ‘Harvest’ upon the matter of how the work should be performed ?” “Could the two have had an argument pertaining to the project’s execution ?”

The industrialist was, in John’s opinion, surely capable of employing ruthlessness to achieve his objectives when challenged, “Could this have been why Harvest had died ?”

He was momentarily chilled by the notion that his friend may have played subject to corporate murder, an instance in which the civil authorities that had found occasion to preside over the affair were observed to have done nothing more than consolidate the felon’s stake.

“Maybe ‘Portaeus’ had sanctioned ‘Harvest’s death ? Maybe not ?” If it were the case that the plutocrat was inclined to freely resort to such methodology then it crossed John’s mind that his own life would presently be at risk. “Perhaps he would, with respect to such matters, not be granted the opportunity to suffer to the industrialist’s protracted discrimination at all ?”

As John mused over the true purpose of the plutocrat’s presence upon Bermuda he was drawn to reflect upon the fate of the boys that he had left to burn upon the dump, an instance in which the sheer futility signified by the circumstance of their deaths returned to haunt him with renewed acuity.

They had been wild, capable of surviving beyond the cultural conventions which now served to bind him into accord, a pretext beneath which their peculiar way of life had represented perhaps the only genuine alternative to the web of intrigue that ‘Nelson Portaeus’ then found occasion to cast over Bermuda which he had ever known.

It seemed that even here the industrialist was witnessed to have the last laugh. The children were dead for having defied the edict which the man had laid down for the people of ‘Hamilton’, an instance in which John felt that, against his better judgement, he was himself at least partially accountable for sealing their fate.

“Perhaps that was how things were ?” John thought resignedly, “In cheating ‘Portaeus’ of his chance to extend province among the boy’s affairs, he himself would be responsible for having killed any distinction which they could once have been presumed to represent, his moral reservations with regards to the affair being nothing more than a protraction of the self-righteousness which had facilitated it’s occurrence.

He would have liked to apologize but things had, for the children at least, gone too far. For them there remained nothing left of optimism beyond the swing of the pendulum and the toll of all that which would fall in it’s wake.

John pulled a newspaper from his coffee table and a began to solve a crossword.

It appeared to him at that time there was nothing left for him to do other than to wait. Whatever plans ‘Portaeus’ had for him would run their course in due time. He might even win a reprieve.

The man’s emotional attachment to ‘Cocolo’ had been utilitarian at best. After all, “what would the boy’s removal from custody have mattered to him ?” The event would, in effect, have achieved little more than to signify John’s disobedience, an indiscretion which he would, in due course, be forced to answer for upon it’s own terms.

As John set about completing the crossword, his thoughts inadvertently came to rest upon the topic of ‘Saul’. The child had, in avowing a proficiency for invading his dreams as he lay sleeping, come to represent something of an anomaly in his mind.

It had occurred to John in this instance that, owing to ‘Portaeus’ influence within virtually every aspect of Bermuda’s daily life, the boy had been nothing more than a contrivance, part of some master plan which the industrialist had decided to foist upon him in efforts to undermine his sanity

That was how the plutocrat worked, in being one of the wealthiest men on earth he was paradoxically also something of a ghost. He established his terms and called his lots as people lay sleeping, governing their priorities and establishing their motives in correspondence with the dictum of strategies which it was unlikely that they would, in being of a practical disposition, ordinarily even appreciate.

John paused momentarily to reflect upon the matter as it then appeared to him. “Why would the industrialist wish to drive him mad ?” He was, as an individual, almost entirely unremarkable.

It would, in fact, have been more probable that any confidence trick which the tycoon might incidentally wish to play on him would contrarily seek to reinforce his convictions rather than shatter them. “What purpose would a man like ‘Portaeus’ reserve for lunacy ?” The idea made no sense.

“What if, taking such a consideration into respect, ‘Saul’ were true ?” The notion had struck John as being absurd. He would have to consider himself mad to believe in such things, it played no part in the list of moral priorities to which he had fore sworn himself. Such an idea would effectively serve reduce the many conceits which he preferred to sustain with regards to the detail of his life to eye wash as they yet betokened his adherence.

The concept of ‘Saul’s’ existence stood beyond the cultural reference frame towards which he was habitually predisposed much as it existed beyond the scope of the gentle artistry that he had been raised to revere. It stood to reason that he would be disinclined to see sense in such things, they served to spite his understanding upon every level.

John paused. “Perhaps what had transpired upon the ‘Gyre Patch’ would spell an end to ‘Saul’s’ intrusion among his affairs ?” He would be only too pleased to relegate his knowledge of the child to memory and continue with his life, but the prospect of further spectral visitation by the boy nonetheless found occasion to disturb him. Such things appeared to correspond with their own logic, enacting the mandate of their own agenda as they saw fit.

John reflected back upon what little he knew of the peculiar belief framework that the boys were observed to have avowed on the dump, specifically to the relationship which ‘Saul’ appeared to share with them, observing that, in being refused the benefit of comparison, young children were inclined to idolize their monsters, a limbo without such things representing an irresistible falsehood, a strangely soulless pretext which, in effectively being perceived to last an age without effect, may yet find occasion to discriminate evil in the iniquities which it circumstantially happened to create.

Maybe the children had needed ‘Saul’, he appeared to have acted as their viceroy or their animus”. John was undecided as to which, “It seemed that the specter had, upon meriting distinction, served in it’s fashion, to define and qualify the color of their souls.

“Perhaps there had been more to the encounters with the apparition than he was habitually inclined to accept ?” The boy possessed a religious significance which ostensibly had little or nothing to do with ‘Portaeus’ methodology. He was the lighting in the ground, the rider on the storm, he feasted on the dead, watched spiders in the darkness, he could see into the future and reflect upon the past, he appeared to know more about either than any man alive.

John paused to reflect upon the peculiar lexicon which he had attempted to decipher in the labyrinth’s central hallway and the pantheon of devils that, through association with it’s revelations, he was compelled to believe had, throughout history, been perceived to try it’s edict.

Although, the belief framework which the markings described was observed to have suffered it’s share of trials and tribulations at the hands of evil. It’s catalog of disastrous heroes and old Gods were themselves not devils, in fact they paradoxically seemed to both call an end to such things and spite their pretense. They appeared to do so as adherence yet clung to it’s beliefs, ridiculing the notion that it could ever profit from it’s stake.

It occurred to John in this instance that a devil was, in accordance with the index’s dictum, not itself observed to be a monster, there existing a definite distinction between the two terms. An instance in which a Devil may be perceived adept at polishing his game where a monster would contrarily suffer to it’s edict.

By the same measure, the lexicon was inclined to observe that failed heroes may, in causing more damage than they could ever resolve whilst fighting for their lives, paradoxically be considered monstrous where a devil would not be, such figures being perceived to earnestly vouchsafe their convictions through to their dying breath, where a devil would, in sowing corruption to profit from comparison, at least immediately appear somewhat more benign.

“Maybe that was how things were ?” Thought John pausing to reflect upon the issue. “Sanctimony was, after all, a devil’s winning move. Codes of exception were at liberty to believe in their own popularity, it seldom affected the toll of destiny. Fate may resemble a king for a day, who would suspect the weight of it’s ardor ?”.

“It was, undoubtedly a devil’s stock in trade to capitalize upon the sweetest fruit of any given belief”, thought John, “it would be what served to divest faith of any humanitarian ethic which it may once have been presumed to represent.

Evil was after all inclined to presume domain at the axis of a belief directly over the spur of it’s initiative. It would be there that the division of prerogatives which were observed to further the interests of corruption would begin to spread.

It struck John in this instance that a devil’s last trick would, after having established it’s term, simply be to let things ride. People were essentially mortal and the fear that they espoused towards death was, by this measure, plainly justified.

It was, in effect, all that need ever matter to them. People either believed that they could avenge those that killed them or could not. They were, owing to their ignorance with regards to such matters, effectively unable to resurrect those that they lost when, to all intents and purposes, they could nonetheless lose them.

The children’s belief framework was, in this respect hypothetically, no more than a psychological tenet, a state of grace devised to vacillate between deceptive fears and frustrated furies without witnessing an effect thought John attempting to draw an allusion between it and other contemporary schools of faith. “It killed it’s bird sure enough much as it’s bird bade it’s intimations riddance. “Maybe then, as it’s mandate began afresh, it’s faith in innocence could be substantiated once again ?”

It occurred to John upon reflection that there was no accurate way of predicting whether or not ‘Saul’ would continue to wield influence among his thoughts, it seemed to him as he gradually completed the crossword in his hand, that there remained nothing left for him to do other than to wait.

John found occasion to reflect briefly upon the matter, as he sat on his settee. There was perhaps truth in the maxim that a fear of death worked best when it presided over the weak, a pretext beneath which any faith devoted towards it’s truth would ultimately ascribe to fate.

People simply lived until they died, it was the way of the world. The Greeks had been inclined to view things this way. “Why had people chosen to complicate such matters?”

Through association with such conjecture John found occasion to dwell momentarily upon how Greek religion could, in itself having attempted to propose a viable way of life for it’s adherents, once have been corrupted by the incidental trains of significance which were inherent within it’s scheme. “Was it not possible in such an instance that the edict of fate could yet be contaminated with extra-peripheral knowledge ?”

It had crossed John’s mind with regards to the issue that, in seeing fit to redefine a faith in the nobility of children as something malign, a crime wave or a viral epidemic, a parliament could feasibly encourage it to purposefully enact the mandate of it’s calling and put an end to it’s problems in spite of itself, until, of course, such an interest was, upon the diminution of it’s figures, adversely compelled to decide that it was more naive.

“Could this have been what had happened to the Greeks ?” Thought John abstractly. “Did they truly run with the devil and reap the wind until there were no intentions left beyond the tally of fate ? Or was there more ?”

It was a worrying prospect to entertain. Children were not considered to be of a preternaturally noble disposition in either the Greek religious tradition or that which had been described upon the wall of the dump’s great hallway.

Through association with such speculation John paused to reflect upon the general circumstance of his life on Bermuda observing that most of the cultural euphemisms which he had been raised to accept beneath the island’s providence simply didn’t matter to the wisdom of the commercial schematic which it sought to appease, books, films and songs, remaining of a largely neutral persuasion when undoubtedly afflicted by intrigue.

They could, to all intents and purposes, prophecy doomsday or the destruction of a world without raising issue. “Perhaps there was an amount of common ground with regards to such things ?” Consumerism was largely inured against any issue of significance which it may ultimately choose to court.

The notion that nothing need matter served, in it’s fashion, to both comfort and unsettle John, “In resting upon falsehood how could such a pretext go wrong ?” He paused momentarily to consider the matter, cursorily performing a summary diagnostic in his head.

The attitude presently espoused by mass media was essentially subjective. “If it were possible that factions which prevailed beyond it’s sphere of influence could change the way that it was inclined to view the world then there would effectively be nothing to stop them from doing so. It was, in this sense, perfectly conceivable that a rogue potentate could simply enter into a media environment and presume domain over it’s convictions”.

John found occasion, in this instance to reflect upon the analogy that ‘Nelson Portaeus’ had earlier chosen to draw between his business interests and a boat that could only be scuppered by it’s own crew. “Could it be, despite the commercial pretext which the industrialist’s holdings were observed to support, that he was yet inclined to believe in the ability of certain strains of erudition to affect their success?” John could not be sure. “Neutral philosophies differed from schedules, they sought to defuse the time that they had rather than render it routine. Perhaps the plutocrat thought that it may yet remain within the power of deceit to incite an invasion of the cultural pretext which he seemed intent upon defending ?”

The tycoon’s attitudes with regards to the detail of such issues served, in their fashion, to represent something of a mystery. He went about his business the way that he always had done, making his agreements and setting his terms as he saw fit, the rules of his game seldom changed and what did it matter if they did, they were as much a constant as any other aspect of the island’s economy ?”

____________________________

CHAPTER 27

LATE IN THE DAY…

There is, with regards to the topic of forgiveness and any moral charity which may be perceived to arise from it, a school of thought which observes that time heals all wounds, an attitude which, in permitting people grace to place their woes into perspective and re-appraise their priorities, is presumed to grant them the wisdom to relegate all that which need not immediately appear of importance within their lives to the realms of insignificance.

It was a platitude which ‘Hamilton’ like many other cities that presently find occasion to extend province across the earth proved adept at substantiating. It was easy to forget things when placed beneath the city’s aegis, the catalog of cares and worries which people habitually espoused towards the detail of their lives seemed to dissolve without consequence beneath the township’s influence.

“Maybe the attitude served as some form of a disclosing tablet, a cure all which, in rendering the reservations of caution transparent, was observed to present a comparatively honest apparel before cursory investigation ?”

“Perhaps it served as a clay, blessing such honesty with it’s quota of dirt to merit the execution of the measures which it claimed to aver ?” Whatever the truth with regards to such issues, the township was perceived to distort the concept of time, paling seamlessly before matters of significance like a limbo devoted to neglect.

John had upon occasion found ‘Hamilton’s’ ability to perish it’s incident in favor of the redundant notion of continuum to which it ascribed vaguely unsettling, the city seemed to eat time, digesting it over years to effect the creation of the colorless floss of half conceived ideas upon which it rested for no other reason than that it could, and yet, despite such reservations, the township continued to exist in it’s fashion gradually winning adherence from even the the most obstinate contention.

“Maybe it even could make good upon it’s premium and succeed in reducing it’s number to grudging acceptance ?” Such things were not impossible. It took years in the only way that years may be presumed to take. “Who was he to proclaim his own predilections over such an intention ?”

“Maybe that was how things ultimately worked ?” Thought John as he gazed out of his window at the constant passage of the boats jostling for space in the city’s harbor and the swarms of gulls that, in courting the breeze, found occasion to exult in the the thrill of haranguing them.

“Perhaps that was why the evil entered the fray to bear the standards of humanitarian conviction aloft ?” The paradox represented by the devil’s involvement in such matters could yet serve to dishearten and alienate goodwill.

It momentarily occurred to John through association with such conjecture that when a city like ‘Hamilton’ appeared coarse it fell apart and that it’s refusal to do so in such instances was how it may choose to draw it’s distinctions.

____________________

Some time after having returned to Bermuda John decided to take a stroll into ‘Hamilton’, an expedition which, as tended to be the case with regards to such matters, predictably resulted in his visitation of one of the small restaurants that were observed to frequent the city’s waterfront.

As John sat nursing a cup of coffee between his hands counting the steady stream of customers both entering and leaving the premises, he circumstantially found occasion to eavesdrop upon a conversation that was being waged between a number of local residents seated at a table directly adjacent to his own, a discussion which, in dwelling upon the presence of ‘Portaeus’ in the manor house upon the outskirts of the city, was also incidentally observed to encompass the issue of the plutocrat’s untimely departure from Bermuda within it’s scheme.

Being drawn to inquire upon the matter which was then noted to fuel the diner’s intrigue, John turned to face the small group of people who were sitting at the circumference of the table in efforts to glean more information pertaining to the topic that they had chosen to place before debate.

“You say that ‘Portaeus’ is planning to leave Bermuda ?” John remarked casually introducing himself to the party as it sat engaging in the variety of light lunch which was frequently perceived to be served in such locations.

“Why do you ask ?” replied the person who was sitting at the head of the table circumspectly.

“It struck me as unusual,” replied John casually, “it has only been a matter of weeks since the man first decided to move here”.

“People come and go” replied the diner simplistically, “‘Hamilton’ is like that, you can never be sure who is here and who isn’t at any given time”.

“Perhaps”, said John hesitantly, “but ‘Portaeus’ appeared to have invested an amount of resource in refurbishing the old manor house to the North of the city. I thought it strange that he should decide to abandon such a proceeding at a moment’s notice in favor of pursuing fresh accommodation elsewhere”.

“He was a rich man”, replied the diner shrugging his shoulders. “The property had needed a little renovation, I dare say he presumed that the work which had been performed upon the building would serve to boost it’s value when it was placed back on the market”.

“When is he proposing to leave ?” continued John apprehensively.

“He has already gone, he left about three days ago.” Replied the diner casting John an explanatory glance. “His entire household left with him. I had a friend who was employed to tend the property that was how I came to learn of the affair”.

“Do you know why ?” inquired John intrigued.

“I suppose that he was moving on ?”, Answered the diner simplistically, “Bermuda is an isolated location, impracticable in terms of any business that does not directly coincide with it’s own interests. ‘Portaeus’ was inclined to put money into the house. Maybe his trade relationship with the island ended there ?”, he paused, “perhaps it would be more appropriate to ask why he chose to come here in the first place ?”

“Good point”, said John smiling affably, “I had often found occasion to ask myself the same question”.

“Did you know him ?” Inquired the diner glancing up at John.

“Not personally,” replied John abstractly, “I visited the house upon two or three occasions. From what I could deduce the work that he had performed upon the property was fairly impressive”.

“It’s been there for years”, said the diner, “it needed a dash of paint”.

John smiled but said nothing.

“Are you local ?” inquired the Diner after some minutes of confabulation with his friends.

“Yes, I have lived here for about five years”, replied John circumspectly. “Up on the ridge in the city’s residential quarter”.

“Strange, I haven’t seen you around these parts before,” replied the diner.

“I tend to keep to myself”, replied John.

“Difficult thing to do in a place like this,” said the diner amiably.

“It’s the way things are” replied John shrugging his shoulders. “Tight communities crystallize, people are inclined to fraternize less with their neighbors”.

“I will keep my eye out for you”, said the diner issuing an informal salute and returning to attend the detail of the conversation which he had previously been engaged in with his friends.

____________________

After having discussed the matter of ‘Portaeus’ decision to absent the island with the party of diners, John bade the small gathering at the restaurant farewell and made forth towards the outskirts of the city in efforts to confirm whether or not there was any truth in what he had been told.

Upon arriving at the building John was immediately drawn to observe that the fleet of limousines which he had incidentally been inclined to associate with the estate were no longer present at it’s periphery, the house’s driveway being entirely devoid of the assortment of vehicles which conventionally crowded it’s expanse.

Cursorily trying the door he discovered that the bell which conventionally called the building’s staff to attend the arrival of visitors into it’s precinct seemed to have been disconnected.

The mansion’s door was similarly locked and it’s shutters had been closed about it’s windows, granting it the air of a continental chateaux. From what he could deduce it seemed that the people whom he had found occasion to meet in the restaurant were correct, the building had recently been vacated.

He tried to gain some impression of whether or not the state of abandonment indicated by the limousine’s absence was permanent by straining up to look through the shutters of one of the property’s ground floor windows, noting that the premises appeared to have been divested of the furniture which once stood within it’s halls.

Whoever had performed the removal had worked fast, it looked as though the building had been reduced to a vacant lot in a matter of days.

John cursorily withdrew from the side of the building and, for want of anything better to do, decided to take a walk through it’s garden beneath the pretense that there might be some sign of the estate’s continued occupation at the rear of the premises.

The weather was fine and the groves of Lime trees which he had earlier found occasion to notice striving verdure upon the plot remained as they had been during his previous promenade within the vicinity of the house.

It seemed that some things never changed, the orchard had probably been planted on the land during the seventeenth century by the country’s first occupants.

It occurred to John at the time that they were as much part of Bermuda’s heritage as anything else on the island.

John was intrigued by the history which could once have ascribed to such a place.

In being practically inedible, Limes were to his knowledge once used by the navy to counter the effects of dietary deficiency and it seemed that, in correspondence with this theory, many of the plants which had been cultivated upon the plot had been employed to this effect.

There was also ‘Cochlearia’, a variety of coastal cabbage once used to flavor ship’s beer growing beneath the arbor of the trees alongside the overgrown remnants of what may once have been crops of Sorrel, Spinach, Buckwheat and Rhubarb.

It crossed John’s mind in this instance that, perhaps, as was described in ‘Daniel Defoe’s’ novel ‘Robinson Crusoe,’ the plantation had once been granted to a castaway by a ship’s Captain in exchange for a boy.

The allusion served to amuse him, the navy appeared to leave it’s mark wherever it disembarked.

As John strolled casually between the gnarled groves which then served to distinguish the estate’s grounds his thought came to rest upon how ‘Portaeus’ would choose to exact his vengeance for the abduction of ‘Cocolo’, an instance in which he was drawn to observe that, owing to the industrialist’s sudden departure from the island, he may even be granted a reprieve.

The thought served, in no small measure, to comfort him, perhaps, in this instance at least, his indiscretions would be overlooked.

If ‘Portaeus’’ decision to incinerate the ‘Gyre Patch’ was, as John suspected with regards to the matter, his sole purpose on Bermuda. “Then what, in practice, would a vagrant child’s disappearance have mattered to him ?”

The plutocrat had left the island as he had arrived, both suddenly and without pretext, perhaps his absence would spell an end to the shadow that he had found occasion to cast over Bermuda.

John was inclined to feel in this instance that maybe he really would, contrary to his fears with regards to the issue, ultimately be relieved from the obligation of having to answer for his deeds ?

____________________

Looking up John noticed that the sun was beginning to descend over the horizon casting lateral vertices of Cumulonimbus clouds out towards the earth’s extremes, the sky had assumed a rich turquoise color, resembling the flank of an exotic fish beneath it’s influence. The view across Bermuda from the orchard was magnificent, one could, for a time at least, perhaps forget the island’s huddled compliment from it’s crest.

One could see for miles before the sun blinded one’s surveillance, one could imagine one’s self standing dwarfed by perspective’s blank vista upon the prow of a vessel heading forth into the void. The sea one’s hold, it’s court one’s shame.

John paused his thoughts returning to dwell upon the topic of ‘Saul’, was the spectral child ever part of the divine scheme which played across the scene ? Was he ever beholden to the progressive ethics that, in having established province throughout the first years of Bermuda’s foundation, ultimately felt compelled to pay their dues ?”

“Was the apparition a victim of persecution or it’s primary protagonist ?” John could not be sure, the memory of the ghost appeared to vanish before the majesty of things greater than itself, that was part of it’s power and it’s mystery, it was, after all, no more than a dream.

Turning from his vigil to make headway back towards ‘Hamilton’, John cursorily felt in his pocket for loose change, a process through which he succeeded in withdrawing a curious assortment of coinage from repose, some of it applicable to the island’s economy others of foreign extraction.

Opening his palm, John found occasion to notice a crown with the image of a pilot embossed into it’s face and an exquisitely rendered Brier bush printed upon it’s underside, an item presumably minted during the halcyon era of air travel which had once served to render Bermuda accessible to tourism.

The true origin of the item immediately served to represent an excruciating anomaly in his mind, he had tried to pass it many times but been repeatedly refused, it had seemed like legal tender to him. A noble pretext, but the marque was wrong.

Placing the article’s tail against his thumb he deftly flicked the item into the air, watching it glint in the fading light of the sun.

“Maybe it would stay there forever ?” He thought as it span erratically through it’s circuit, but, in accordance with the principles that were invested in such things, it inevitably fell to earth.

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A Victorian man trapped in the twenty first century

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Tom Scrow

Tom Scrow

A Victorian man trapped in the twenty first century

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