Midway Pt.3

“I don’t know. I’ll have a look and see what’s in” Kate says and looks through the formica fronted cupboards that line the side of the tunnel. She picks through rows of brightly coloured cans and packets, inspecting the labels. “Let’s see, we’ve got spam…more spam…or pot noodle. Chow mein flavour” “I think I’ll have pot noodle” Jack replies, with a friendly wink,  “I fancy a Chinese.” Kate fills a red enamel kettle from a rusty faucet and places it on a battered stove, lighting the gas with a long cook’s match. She shakes the match flame out with a flick of her wrist, but the slight action seems to throw her off balance and she falls crumple-kneed to the floor in a slow swoon. Jack leaps up and gently puts his arms under Kate’s, carefully lifting her back to her feet. “Are you alright pet?”, he asks, concern knitting its mark across his heavy brow. Kate puts her hands to the tabletop and leans over it, shaking her head from side to side to clear the fuzzy residue of her faint. She replies, in a small, shaken voice: “Same as always Jack.  You know how this place gets to me: I just can’t help it.” Jack puts his hands around Kate’s waist and gently turns her to him. He pulls a cork stoppered brandy bottle out of his tunic and hands it to her: “Here you go love. Have a little pick-me-up, won’t you?” She pulls the cork and drinks thirstily from the bottle, wiping a white lace gloved hand across her lips afterwards. Kate looks to Jack, the fear in her eyes turning to affection. “You’re a diamond Jack, you really are”, she says, kissing him daintily on the cheek; “you always know what to do when I come undone. Fair enough, ” she swigs from the bottle again, “the answer’s usually brandy, but, well, at least you know the answer, you gorgeous lummox, you.” She puts her arms around Jack. “Cheers pet. You mean the world to me, you know that”, he says, hugging her back. Looking over Kate’s shoulder, Jack stares down the tunnel, his eyes narrowing, as if trying to intimidate their subterranean gloom into retreat. Rapt with feeling, he whispers into her ear:  “I’m going to get us out of here Kate. I swear to it, on my life I do. I’m going to get us out of here”.

***

Jack and Kate. They alone remain of the hundreds once incarcerated  in the tunnels by the Municipals. The caverns had rung loud with he voices of centuries’ worth of voices: Latin,. Saxon, old French, rough and high spoken English, all intermingling as a great circus of spirits gathered in the damp confines of the subterranean factory. Legionaries, Crusaders and mill workers had gathered round oily smoked campfires. There, they  shared their stories, stories of  forest battles with woad covered Canti tribes, stories of blood spilling on Jerusalem’s sands, stories of arduous dusty work and uproarious drinking in lamplit taverns. But, gradually, the ghosts started to fade. Wild haired Cavaliers would find their high booted legs absent in the morning. Vikings couldn’t cast the runes because their hands had disappeared before their eyes. The ghosts faded, limb by limb, one by one, until eventually only Jack and Kate remained. Quite why was not clear. They had suffered the same as the other spirits: they too had been ripped from their haunts, they too had  seen their homes destroyed and, finally, they too had felt the crushing weight of the city”s collective forgetfulness, as even the memories of its ghosts faded to nothing. Homeless, starved and forgotten, the other spirits had wasted away in their underground prison. Yet, by a strange, kinetic fluke, Jack and Kate remained, sustained by some  intangible force. In part, it was love: a deep, heartfelt and inexplicable love between them, that kept them going. Love was the last thing Jack or Kate had expected to find when they were cast into the tunnels, yet in each other they saw the same deep, dark hurt that they carried and each other they found an answer to that hurt. Theirs had been an odd courtship, as any courtship between the long-dead-yet-not-dead is wont to be, but even in the damp black confines of the factory Kate’s colourfully foul mouthed humour punched through Jack’s brooding exterior, just as his rough charm made her  feel, well, alive, for the first time in decades. It was this love, fresh, new, living, breathing love, that sustained them when all else had crumbled to naught. But yet it was not love alone that allowed them to survive. Between them there was a darker, colder energy, something to do with the hurt and guilt that gnawed away at Jack and Kate, even in the midst of their happiness. It was something born of blood, death and misfortune, that they both felt but chose not to acknowledge. It was the thing that would drive Kate fainting to her knees without reason or warning. It was the same thing, too, that propelled Jack on long, fruitless searches of the tunnels, looking for an exit that would release them from the factory’s cavernous grip. Jack and Kate craved escape. They wanted to run, but the dark, treacherous  equivalent to their love wished to run with them too.

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About andrewday82

My psychoanalyst thinks I'm perfectly right. View all posts by andrewday82

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