Stream of consciousness Sunday: The wrong stuff, part twenty three…
The Wrong Stuff.
Part twenty three – Predator becomes the prey.
It had taken a moment for Forrester to put his finger on what was different, when he’d first come round on the back of the cart, the realisation that he had actually travelled in time only sank in when he’d seen with a shock that everyone was in period costume.
Well, he corrected himself, not costume of course, it was just what they wore here (now), but it was that one thing in particular which drew his attention to all the other differences.
The lack of motorised traffic noise, for a start; the air was filled with sound, but not in the same way as the London he knew, the background noises were more human, somehow.
And the smell; a mixture of soot, horse manure, sewage and rotting vegetables, it assaulted the senses like a blunt instrument, battering his nostrils into submission and forcing Forrester to breathe through his mouth, that, or risk passing out from the overpowering stench.
Now he had overcome his initial nausea, only to find he was a wanted fugitive and as if that wasn’t bad enough, here he was faced with another irritating minion.
And such a polite one, too;
“That’s far enough, sir, please keep your hands where I can see them and step down from there.”
Forrester had turned to find a rather nervous looking young man, in an oversize belted greatcoat and high, domed helmet with a silver badge on it, one hand holding a small wooden truncheon in a vaguely threatening manner.
“Could you tell me what you’re doing, climbing into Mr Grainger’s delivery cart?” the young policeman was obviously making an effort to project authority, but he wasn’t fooling Forrester, who immediately dismissed him as a threat and advanced on him, smiling and opening his arms in a friendly gesture.
“My good man, there’s clearly some misunderstanding here,” still smiling, Forrester reached casually into his coat, “allow me to give you my card…”
The constable looked uncertain and opened his mouth to say something, but now Forrester was in front of him, whipping his hand out far too quickly to be giving him his card and he just had time to see the glint of a blade as Forrester viciously lashed out with it and jammed it into his throat.
The young man made a horrible gurgling noise as blood erupted from his mouth and he clutched at the place where Forrester’s knife was sticking out of his neck, staggered back a few paces and fell to his knees, his eyes staring at his attacker in confusion for a few seconds before falling forward into the gutter and lying still.
Forrester looked toward the mouth of the alley to check nobody had seen him then bent to retrieve the knife, pulling it out and wiping the blade on the constable’s coat.
Only then did he head down the alley, away from the bustle of the main road, eventually reaching a dead end and clambering over a wall to find himself in some kind of walled kitchen garden; greenhouses and vegetable beds were arranged in a neat grid pattern, with fruit trees growing at one end.
There was a recessed doorway in the thick stone wall on his left and Forrester hurried along the path until he reached the heavy oak and iron door, cautiously trying the latch and finding it unlocked, he eased the door open and peered through the gap.
Seeing nobody in the yard beyond, Forrester slipped through and quietly closed the door behind him.
He looked around, taking in the small outbuildings and gardening implements with a glance, then noticed a sign on another door in the wall opposite and moved closer until he could read the gothic lettering; Zoological Society of London. Botanical garden – PRIVATE – AUTHORISED ENTRY ONLY
So, thought Forrester, at least I know where I am now; Regent’s Park, where London Zoo will be.
It had originally been a private collection, dedicated purely to scientific study, until the Society was eventually forced to open the gates for paying customers, to raise the funds necessary for its upkeep.
Forrester had evidently been transported back to a time before the great unwashed British public had been allowed to roam freely amongst the newly discovered wonders of the animal kingdom, so the chances of him encountering anyone wandering around the grounds were slim. Nevertheless, before seeing what was on the other side of the door, he looked through the assortment of tools in the yard until he found a short, heavy hammer (a knife was all very well, but it was so messy) which he dropped into his coat pocket, then he stepped through the door into a dark, arched corridor between two buildings with the only light coming through an ornate iron gate at the far end. Seeing no other exits from the yard, Forrester shrugged, closed the door and headed for the gate.
He was almost at the end of the tunnel when he heard the sound of a whistle somewhere behind him and its relevance wasn’t lost on him;
Like a bloody police siren he thought They found the dead copper. Damn!.
He hurried to the gate and felt for the latch, frantically searching for a way get it to open, when the light was suddenly blocked out and he looked up to see two figures filling the archway.
“It’s him!” One of them shouted, “That’s that Forrester bastard from the posters! He killed Jenkins, get him!”
The man began rattling at the gate, while his companion stood back and shouted up the street, “We’ve found him, he’s at the back of the gardens!”
The sounds of running feet and more whistles came from the opposite end of the tunnel and Forrester turned to see the door opening and the silhouettes of several men, shoving each other out of the way in their eagerness to get to him first.
Then one of the men at the gate managed to get it unlocked and the screech of rusted hinges was the last thing Forrester heard, before the first of many enthusiastic blows from several small but surprisingly effective wooden truncheons rendered him unconscious.
To be continued (using next week’s prompt)…