Intermission: Tales from Cliffside – The Kettleworth Files 6

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But it wasn’t Marta just yet. There was one final thing to do. Her mind was kept hidden, carefully secure–the transference of her mind must come next, or else she was little more than a guileless puppet, bumbling and useless.

A sudden knocking echoed throughout the mansion. There was someone at the front door!

John froze, his brain swirling in confusion and disbelief. How did they get past the gate? A moments thought and he was certain–the Order had finally come for him! In a panic, he leapt across the room to an elaborate machine, covered with levers and dials. Frantically he began twisting and pulling at the controls. He had to finish! He had to put Marta’s mind back in her body before the Order found him!

The part of his brain that was not consumed with saving his wife from death wondered if he thought to lock the door. He honestly couldn’t remember the last time he had left the mansion, let alone used the front door. The knocking became loud and rhythmic–they were breaking the door down, he was sure, so he must have locked and bolted it.

He looked at Marta’s body. It was slowly moving, gripping the air and moving the mouth like a newborn. That’s what it was, of course. No mind to guide it, experiencing everything for the first time. It looked like it was trying to move–to stand.

Splintering wood echoed from above, and loud foot-falls scattered throughout the house like an army of rats. John tore his gaze back to the machine, as the cat leapt up onto the nearby table.

John dashed across the room, and hoisted his lover’s body onto his shoulders, yanking the wires out of her body and flinging her into a large metal chair next to the machine. Fingers fumbling, he strapped her arms down, and began to attach the twelve brain leads to her scalp, ignoring her confused mewling protests.

The cat stared on, unblinking.

John reached for the final lead when a crossbow bolt pierced John’s palm, spinning him about. The pain was immense, and he cried out as the cat jumped off the table, vanishing into the dark corners of the basement. Looking up from his crippled hand, he saw three red-robed figures, their faces hidden under thick hoods, standing at the stairway to the upstairs. Two held torches, glittering with holy flame. The other lowered the crossbow, deftly fitting another bolt in place, and pulling the thin lever that armed the string.

“John Troyden, you are found guilty of God’s Law,” he said, raising a white-gloved hand in reverence. “Have you anything to say before the flames of Our Father purge your sin from this land?”

John stared at them. He thought of Marta and her poetry, the true and horrible things she had whispered to him that day by the tree. He thought of the Truth of Things, and how he knew that death was not the boundary the world thought. He stared at the flaming torches, and tried to put everything he knew into words to let them know–to make them see!

His mouth hung open, hit tongue was still.

“May his holy mercy cleanse your soul.”

The monk’s hand dropped.

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