Mr Cordite makes small work of the crowded street; his left had pushing people aside while his right pumps like a piston to drive him forwards. People skitter aside at the sight of the colossal figure, a man of his size not seen since the circus was in town several months earlier, and at that time the fellow was behind bars.
Ahead he can see Tom darting left and right to dodge sellers markets, people pushing trollies and barrows, and a mass of well to-do shoppers, several of the people admonish him with a raised fist before catching sight of his pursuer.
Not two minutes earlier had they entered the busy thoroughfare: meat vendors, cobblers, saddlers and fruiters line the street. This is market row, a place to sell goods and shop and while away a Sunday afternoon, not a running track.
Here and there shop doors open, dancing, wafting smells of roasting things catch in Mr Cordites nose, his simple thoughts almost betray him to change course and seek out the delicacies, his mouth salivates around deep breaths.
His pace quickens.
He stays true though and continues to pursue his prey, the ever-elusive Tom.
The lithe little man draws him into ever narrower and narrower corridors, low-slung signs of taverns and brothels cause the massive man to duck and at times almost grasp the ground with open palms. The intentions of this man are clear, he’s brought Cordite into this den of immorality to loose his follower.
Opium dens open to his left and right and the rich smell clings to his clothes, a long forgotten past loiters on his mind, the scent a lingering remnant of his times travelling through Asia in the militia, an addiction he feels his long shaken.
As drunkards and felons quickly descend into holes that emit foul smells and gurgling, Cordite manages to call to his prey, “You will not loose me man, I will catch you, no matter the course!” The thought of crushing the mans head left out but the sentiment there nine the less.
Tom hears the bellowing voice from behind and proffers a glance to gauge the distance. In the split moment their eyes meet, not more than ten feet apart, Tom’s toe catches a displaced pebble or the corner of a wooden cart, leaning forwards, his abdomen facing the ground, he tumbles end over end to stop at the foot of a tavern, The Slippery Eel.
With raucous laughter Cordite throws a vagrant aside to clear the path and descends onto Tom. The man’s shadow blocking all light, natural and otherwise, the bawling cackle of the thrown aside tramp the only sound audible.
Turning his head Tom looks at the fellow a shallow gash dribbles blood down his forehead, “Well looks like you were true to your word.” With a quick glance to the side, at the detection of a slight movement, Tom smile back, “Well close anyway.”
Sneering the big man reaches down with his open palm, the leathery skin broad enough to encompass Tom’s face, scalp and a good portion of his neck.
The scared surface covers his eyes, leaving only his ears to detect what’s happening, and the hand, like an all-enveloping mask, shields his face. Tom detects a hollow thud and the clatter of broken wood spilling across uneven stones, several fragments blasting his chest and legs.
Several bottles follow in a loud smashing cacophony that rings like a hundred church bells, as the glass settles Tom hears the many stoppered tops spin in oscillating spirals before they catch on stones and broken wood fragments and roll to a stop, one coming to rest at his foot.
As the weight of the big man settles as if night its self were falling on him, Tom manages a glance around the shadow as even more light is drawn from his world. Standing erect and proud, with the broken crate in one hand and a shattered bottle in the other, Alfred winks at his friend.
“You didn’t think I’d run away from a fight did you?”
“The thought did cross my mind chap, but since when do you stick to a plan?” Tom says while struggling from bellow the giant.
Tossing the debris aside Alfred helps him to his feet, “We’d better see what’s happened to Henry, no doubt the damn fool feel behind ands in a world of trouble.”
“No doubt.” Tom agrees through deep breaths.
Henry stands his ground as Änderson eyes him from across the street, in the distance the path of Tom, the giant and Alfred can be heard.
The two old acquaintances watch each other with hawk eyes, Henry watching, waiting for Änderson to make the decisive move.
“You could run ol’ boy!” Änderson calls across the thoroughfare, his voice carrying and landing plumb in Henry’s waiting ears. “I guess that’s what I expect from you Henry, you always were a coward.” The man baits his old friend.
Henry, rooted to the spot, the sum of his fears now standing before him, the fire at the orphanage a true testament to what this being is capable of, that action having cemented his initial thoughts of the man.
He says nothing.
“Well have it your way lad.” Änderson gloats with a smile.
As if suspended by wires, or wings, Änderson advances across the street, Henry watches on in stunned silence, his feet anchored to the spot. This sudden fear a mystery to the man, all the adventures, tortures and horrors he has bore witness to in the past months now a mere shadow of his past. This man, his old friend, now the embodiment of that fear, the sum of all his worry.
Änderson stops ten feet from his friend, his feet coming to a sudden stop, as he watches Henry sees a sudden shift in the fellows demeanour, a silvery blade ushers from his pant pocket. Sun glints of the shard, rays dance across Henry’s form like a torch.
Taking two steps backward Henry moves into the shadow of the alley, his feet kicking aside discarded newspapers and the occasional broken bottle.
“Good, good, lets make this discreet friend.” Änderson says as he continues to advance.
Several more steps and Henry’s shoes butt up against a broken milk box, the empty bottles within tinkle and ring like angel bells, apt he thinks as he hears them chirp.
A shadow grows around Änderson as he enters the lane, his shape now a dark shadow against the sunny street behind. People move in the light like ghosts, each one absent from what’s transpiring right besides them. Henry feels like he should call out, but the fear holds his lips shut, he mentally curses himself for his foolishness.
A single shaft of light breaks the shadow suddenly, then another, like meteors raining down from heaven. Three then four, five and six, now ten stream into the path, each ones trajectory aimed at Änderson, and all making contact.
The man stumbles backwards as they impact his chest, legs and head.
“What the hell is this Henry, what vileness have you drawn me into?” he yells while stumbling backwards into the light of the street, another ball of light impacts the side of his face.
Fear washes over the villain, the same fear that Henry’s been feeling at his advance.
Looking on Henry watches as the man is driven back across the street, a dozen onlookers a gasp at the fellow’s odd behaviour.
Henry now sees that the glowing missiles are nothing more than white stone broken from the architraves of nearby buildings, the glow nothing more than clean white sunlight caught on the pristine nuggets.
“This is far from over friend, far from over!” Änderson calls back as he steps over the threshold of his refuge. “And Gestalt will pay for this folly, mark my words.”
Standing still he watches as his foe vanishes into the doorway, a moment later Henry breaths, the cool London air chills his throat. Looking up, and seeing as if for the first time, he watches as a dozen dirty, grime covered children march from the shadows and alleyways, their tiny hands grasping the white stone chunks.
At their lead the urchin who helped them uncover Änderson hiding place, “You didn’t think I’d miss the opportunity of getting a bit more coin did you?” The child says using his hand to display his full pocket.
Henry simply smiles back at the boy, enough of a thank you for now.