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Cities within Cities.

Docked and feet back on familiar ground I was approached by two stout fellows wearing peculiar badges on the left breast pockets of their police uniforms.
‘Lord Game…’ said the taller of the two, both bowing their heads fractionally.

I was immediately taken back. These officers certainly knew who I was, it seemed.

‘Your presence is required by the Crown. If you would please accompany us to the City-

‘Hang on a minute there…mister officer. I’ve been away for almost two years, now I ain’t going nowhere till I’m good and ready, especially not for any fucking King of England!’ 

The men frowned, then shared a look. It seemed that I had missunderstood something here.

‘Forgive me Lord Game, it is not King George who summons you.’

The marines milled passed us and wooped into the arms of their loving families. Most of them avoided looking in our direction. I avoided giving a fuck. 

The oddly dressed police men waited, glances swapping back and forth. I wouldn’t say they were nervous, but, I don’t know, something wasn’t right about this picture. 

I zeroed in on the one who hadn’t said a word yet. ‘Talk then!’ I startled him. ‘Who has the fucking audacity to summon me, right fucking now, the precise moment I land-

‘The Crown!’ he blurted, cheeks flushing red. 

Some of the marines began ushering their families away from our little gathering as quickly as they could. I didn’t blame them.

‘Begging your pardon Lord Game,’ recovered the officer, stumbling over his apologetic mumbling. He stepped forward, fancy paper outstretched.

I noticed the coat of arms, “The City Of London”, in the top left corner. One word across the middle: Kratzenstien

I frowned at that word. Maybe I would finally find out who plucked me from the abyss of eternal unrest? I wasn’t holding my breath, not that that would kill me if I did, but something stirred. I felt hopeful.

Belatedly I felt ashamed that I hadn’t even spared a single thought for the tongeless surgeon who stitched me back together. I wondered what he was doing now. Then I thought of Claric…I turned away from the memory of my old friend. 

I conceded with a nod. The officers deflated in unison. I mused that now they looked even shorter. Dwarf secret policemen. Ha!

I gave the letter back to the gloved hand of the taller officer. 

‘The carriage awaits, Lord-

‘Look, it’s just Henry or Game, if you must, I ain’t putting up with all that Lord and Sir shit, all right?’ I think they smiled as I barged past them and into the waiting carriage, also festooned with the coat of arms of the City of London.

I don’t know what they found so funny.


Course Correction

Image courtesy fo

So there we were, wounded, tails tucked, racing across the atlantic to meet Napoleon head on; minus a General; minus all morale. 
The Americans had rallied at North Point, a little late if you ask me, but still, they weren’t chuffed that we’d burnt down their headquarters…we thought the fighting was over. 

Poor ol’ Bobby Ross had his balls blasted off. That left the troops dismayed. Lack of active reconnaissance had left us a little flat-footed. 

The lads were “sir”-ing Claric. It seemed in my absence he had been elevated from the humble rank of court jester. 

Admiral Claric, they confirmed, ordered us straight through the night and on to Fort M’ Henry, the last and most formidable gateway. A statement true in more ways than one. 

There it seemed the true American resistance awaited. They claimed the battle. The empire was sent scurrying. 

Claric, it seemed, had fallen. I refuse to believe he was slain. I almost refused to board the last Ship before it left the mortar pocked harbour. Almost, but truth is I didn’t have much choice. We were chased off by bullet and mortar fire. 

The topic of immortality never actually came up between us, me and Claric, believe it or not, but I knew that he was at least 300 years to the good. Somehow I suspected he was much, much older. Perversely, I found myself wondering where his hip flask lay. Wondering if it too had fallen to the icy depths of the harbour..perhaps some poor soul would find it one day and drink in the sweet cursed beor. Maybe that someone would be me. I would be so lucky.

The HMS Endymion quickly mutinied into a festering barge of egos. We had practically evolved into pirates! The crew needed a leader, a new general, a king – no, not a king, a President! God knows I hate the crown. Yes, the word President had a good ring to it. After all, they brought me back for one job, did they not? One order of business: to kill. And if anybody was going to be president of the killing business it would be me surely? Henry fucking Game.

I emerged from the thin shadow of my cabin, the wet cutting across the steel of my purpose. 

The chief bully was a marine known as Spike. He had taken the captain’s quarters for his war-room. He had guards by his door. Smart man. They eyed me as I wandered close. 

I nodded to them as I paused to peer out across the waters; not another vessel in sight…Our original orders, as given by Rear Admiral Claric, or whatever they called him, were to return to London, gather fresh supplies and then topple the nuisance of Napoleon. The crew had voiced other ideas shortly after Claric didn’t arrive on board…

I was happy to hold my tongue, keep to the shadows, but nothing stirs a mans stomach like the harsh Atlantic. I was owed a debt, a payment of French blood. 

The ‘Americans’ were not my enemy. I realised this as soon as I set eyes on one. They were no Iroquios, shit, they were basically us! Fucking colonised English, Irish and Europeans! 

That war was a war of merchant captilasm. 

Meanwhile I seeked revenge against those that had stolen the centuries from me. Gold was a soft and relatively useless artifact when weighed against the ledger of vengance.

The only way I could see the slate wiped clean was through this Bonaparte fellow, this little Beehive fucker who’d run amok in Francais, bleeding beneath my cold hard steel. The old way. You know I like to see a man’s light snuffed with my own eyes. Bullets are too efficient, too detached. Bullets are for cowards.

I straightened up from the rail and grebbed deep over the side. Cracking my neck both ways I turned to the marines and smiled. 

Fingers twitched toward holstered weapons. A moment was all the chance they would get. 

All I needed to do was line up the biggest of them, Spike the marine. The others would fall like dominos, they always do. 

A Game of two halves, the trail of blood…resumed

Stopping at a local safe house, I collected some essentials for the trip ahead. I could still smell the stench of burnt hair and shit. I realised, afteralmost vomiting from sniffing my sleeve that I would most definitely have to change before catching a flight to New York. I opened the sliding door of the wardrobe and plucked one of the many identical hanging suites from the polished silver bar, before quickly rinsing myself under a cold shower. I listened and tried to concentrate as the cold water nipped at my scalp. I could hear distant sirens, they must have reached the car by now…a faint pink trickle down my arm perked my curiosity as I tracked it back up to my shoulder and realised that I was bleeding. Shit!! I thought about heading back to the car as my mind began to formulate a plot to use my fake identifications and take control of the crime scene before any evidence could be stored…I had grown quite fond of the name Henry Game, I would be loathed to have to change it again. I scarcely dried myself before stepping into my new suit and a faint tapping sounded at the door. I thought about answering it, but stopped myself at the last moment. My hand resting on the handle.
    ‘Game, less of the nonsense and open the door,’ is that…?Fuck I wish these doors had a spy hole. I remained silent to keep up the pretence. ‘We both know you are stood there, behind the door, so do the sensible thing and open it before I come through it anyway’
    ‘Catspaw, is that you?’ The handle began to turn. I held on to it with both hands but I couldn’t stop it. It was opening whether I stood there or not.
    ‘Henry Game…you are predictable. Still using the same bolt holes and not changing them up as often as you should. If I can find you this easily, I’m fairly confident that others can and will.’ His words washed over me like another bucket of cold water mixed with a hint of relief. I stepped away from the door and allowed it to swing inwards.
    ‘All alone?’ I asked the towering form of Grim Catspaw, that filled the entire width of the door.
    ‘Am I ever?’ he replied as he swept into the room and kicked the door shut behind himself.
    ‘Well you just never change do you?’ I asked as he ran his fingers around the rim of his dripping wet fedora hat.
    ‘You…have a nose that forever sticks in places it shouldn’t. That’s why I’m here.’
    ‘So you know then?’
    ‘Of course I know! I always know and most of the time I find it amusing watching you get yourself into and out of all these scrapes, but this time you are walking headlong into something that… put it this way, even I would struggle to…survive. And for all the things you are Game, me is not one of them.’
    ‘Stop with the fucking riddles! What do you know?’ I demanded, not sure if I wanted to really know the answer. Could I be the only one who didn’t know I had a brother?
    ‘Lets start with tonight. I know you attended a dinner party, I know about the Archbishop and I know about your little gun battle earlier. The only good part of all of this is that the children of the world will sleep a little safer tonight. However, that does not deride from the complete cluster-fuck you are about to walk into.’
    ‘Ahhh, ok.’ I had no other words for it.
    ‘I know you have found out about your brother and you should now just forget about him equally as quickly. He isn’t the sort of person you get to know and have a nice family reunion with. He is not like us. He is a different breed altogether…however, knowing that you won’t simply take my word for it…don’t be a fool Game! We all know bullets can’t kill you, and I am sure as shit that if they know what won’t kill you, they will also know what will. You have been around for a long time, and we both know that if it wasn’t for a certain someone’ he said gesturing to himself, ‘your time here would have been ended a long time ago. So, here is how you will get onto US soil with your head still on your shoulders…Fly from Manchester. Take a cab, not a black cab, find a local firm. Flying from terminal two, you will board the 6.35am flight to Dallas and once you have made yourself comfortable, you need to get off again. Preferably before it takes off, but AFTER the doors have been shut. From the runway there is the baggage loading area, I suggest getting yourself on one of those luggage loaders and driving yourself back to the main airport-
    -Fucking Dallas!?’ I interrupted, much to his obvious annoyance.
    ‘The destination doesn’t matter, that flight isn’t going to land. Once you are back at the airport, find your way to the Costa and someone will deliver you are a care package. From there follow the instructions, once you land over there in the states, you are own your own. Great Whites don’t piss in the same puddles, Game.’
Great whites? Grim leaned forwards and passed over a business card, you know the type you can get for free on Vista print. I turned it over in my hand. It was a website;

    ‘A website?’
    ‘Yes my own corner of the internet, secure enough for our purposes. I’ll be seeing you Game, or not, who knows? Good luck my friend’ he finished with a tip of his hat and gusted out of the apartment. I turned the card over in my hand again before tucking it in to my pocket. I looked at what I had packed and decided that it would have to do. I grabbed my USA passport and heavy purse of US Dollars before I too, left the safety of my ‘not so safe’ safe house. The taxi pulled up to the pavement as soon as I stepped out of the building. I braced myself as I noticed the driver window slowly wind down. ‘Errr, hi jinx, hi jinx in low places?’ he stuttered to me out of his window. I laughed, I had too. That old fox! I waved a hand in the air just before getting in to the waiting taxi. I couldn’t see anyone watching but I knew he was there. He always is.


A Game of two halves…the trail of blood

   I thought I had seen it all. I was wrong. When you live long enough that you give up counting the exact number of years you’ve been breathing, and generally just round it down to the nearest decade, you too will believe that there is nothing ‘out there’ that can genuinely surprise you. This had been the way for almost 200 years, until the birth and revolution of the internet…then I was surprised again. However, that was twenty or so years ago. I had begun to believe that maybe I had seen all there is. Every sick and bizarre occurrence this planet had to offer. That was until last night, the night that made Henry Game realise; Henry Game, eternal and damned to walk alone, has a long lost brother…an identical twin, apparently, also found in the well, those many years ago. The order of St Oswald’s, a fellowship based close to the place of my birth and patriarch over religious discipline and keeper of secrets since the time of my…appearance, have extensive records that stretch back to as early as the 12th century. Anyway, I digress. Last night, upon arriving at the…I think it might be best if I leave exact locations and peoples identities anonymous…I happened to come face-to-face with the current head of the order, also known for his position of Archbishop, though again, his exact name and position must remain anonymous…for the benefit of all. Anyway, as I enter and begin the formal etiquette, as is custom, I see the snivelling skeletal puppet head straight toward me. I would have eventually made my way round to him and he would have smiled at me like he knows who I am, although deep down, he doesn’t even remember the names of his illegitimate children. He waits until I have finished showing my respects to Prince…ahhh, forget I said that. Before he unceremoniously pulls me into a smaller side room and we stand there in total darkness, just me and his perverted breathing, until I finally switch the light on.

   ‘Your eminence.’ I greet him before he waves my attempt at professional courtesy away with a dismissive flick of his old and well worked, clicky wrist.

   ‘Enough of that. Henry, I have been contacted by the Vatican. They have issued a judgement on your brothers head. They respectfully request that you do not try to aide in your brothers- 

   -brother?’ I say simply, then watch as his face contorts, almost comically, from confused to realisation to horror. His lips flap and breath wisps out like old stale air escaping a mausoleum after decades of incarceration. He stares at me. ‘Brother?’ I repeat advancing on him before the door swings inward and footsteps enter the room behind me.

It was as though somebody had flicked the lights off, or at least that was my first thought, before the rich red carpet hurtled toward my face. That was a big mistake, for them. Whether I am or am not an immortal is a question for another day, but hitting me on the back of the skull with the heaviest book in the world, all about the lineage of a certain Royal family, is only going to achieve one thing: pissing me off! I pretended to be out cold and waited for the shrivelled-up old turd’s feet to come close enough to my head that I could strike in one fluid movement.

    ‘Mason! What was that! !’

   ‘But, but your eminence, you said if he-

   -oh I know what I said, but it wasn’t…’ he let out a deflated huff, ‘it wasn’t necessary. Now we will have to deal with him. Tie him up before- 

   -Too late.’ I laughed as I reached up and punched the Archbishop in the side of the knee causing it to bend in the wrong direction, and with a satisfying audiable crack, it collided with his other knee. Before he even had time to cry out he was struggling to breathe with my forearm across his wind pipe and my free hand on the back of his balding pate exerting enough force to make him dribble, all over my new fucking Tux!! The back of my head hurt and itched at the same time but scratching it was out of the question. The moron who hit me with the book was standing there in the doorway, open mouthed, book still in hand. He was wearing the clothes of a house boy, but from his crooked nose and droopy eye, it was obvious he was more accustomed to cleaning up blood and teeth than pots and pans.

   ‘How did you…I’ve never seen anyone move so quick!’ He said with a look of doubt dawning on his ugly mug.

   ‘If I were you I’d be more concerned with whats coming next’ I snarled at him and released the old fart and dived ontop of Mason before he even had chance to drop the book. I yanked the book out of his grip and kindly straightened his nose for him before I pressed it down on to his windpipe and waited until his eyes closed and his convulsions ceased. The old fucker behind me was hawking and spurting on his hands and knees when I finally turned round and advanced on him.

   ‘Don’t, please dont kill me’ he said with his wrinkly hands feebly shaking in front of his face at some pathetic attempt of fending me off.   

   ‘Kill you’ I laughed ‘oh not yet. Not before you answer my question, you fucking pervert!’

   ‘What question’ he blinked at me before he lowered his eyes to the floor and uttered the single syllable ‘oh…’

   ‘Yes, that question. Again and for the last time, brother?’

I decided it was time to leave, preferably before anyone happened to notice that the Archbishop was missing. We took, I’m sorry, I make it sound as though we skipped away hand in hand. Let me rephrase, I dragged the weeping sack of shit out of the service entrance at the side of the…ahhh,building, then continued to stuff him and all of his frustratingly flappy-fucking bishop robes into the back of my vehicle. Before calmly leaving through the gravelled courtyard and proceeding down on to the secluded lane and into the heart of the English countryside. Rain was in the air, I could smell it. Muffled sobs and sniffles from the back seat reminded me off that dirty old bastard drooling on my tuxedo. Then I imagined him drooling all over my fabric interior.

   ‘Don’t you dare drool on my seats!’ I threatened over my shoulder as I approached a well lit dual carriageway. I cut across the lanes and headed east toward the ‘vault of records’ as he had put it. A petrol station approached and I realised that my stomach was howling at me. I pulled in. ‘If you try and escape, or make any sound at all whilst I am in the petrol station…’ I sliced my forefinger over my throat before emphatically stabbing it toward him to emphasize an already over emphasized point. The Archbishop stopped his mumbling and nodded softly. Good. I opened the door before I realised that my manners had failed me. ‘Where are my manners?’ I said as I leaned back in and peered over the back of the drivers seat, ‘Do you want a drink or a sandwich?’ He quickly shook his head and I slammed the door shut and locked the car with the fob. Little did he know that that would have been his last meal, had he taken me up on my offer. I ate my chicken and bacon mayo along with a can of Coke Zero, at the ‘closed for the evening’ Subway dining area. Rain had begun to fall as I climbed back in to the car. The Archbishop had gained some semblance of self respect since I had left and he sat there, seat belt on and back straight in total silence. Good. I had begun to consider whether beating him unconscious might be better than listening to his pleading and crying and sniffling and waah, waah fucking waaah!! I set off out of the petrol station and headed east, towards the ‘proof’ that I was found in that well with a sibling. A brother, of identical appearance and identical age. Along with further ‘proof’ that my brother left with a troupe of missionaries to explore the recently discovered Americas. Proof that my brother lives still and is heavily involved in religion and politics, the two things I have learned to steer clear of. I promised him I would let him live, should he make good on his promise to give me all of the information I might need to track this brother of mine down. Preferably before the hit men-eunuch, god-gobbling, choir boys of the Vatican do. Because, after all these years of believing that this was it for me, believing that I would never grow old and watch, helplessly, as each person I grew close to would perish and their corpses would whither to bones, and then to dust, had almost exhausted my will to continue. Now I am revitalised. I am invigorated to find this brother of mine. This is the most fun I have had since I watched the Whitehouse burn! It would be a shame if he died and I didn’t even get the opportunity to ‘play’ with him. Ian Mulliti, is his name apparently…and ahhh, a bit of a let down if I’m honest. I just expected him to have a better name than that! But I don’t know why. It is what it is.

   ‘P,p, pull in on your left and take the fourth exit off the round-a-bout’ stuttered the Archbishop through his cracking veneer of calmness. I answered by swiping down the indicator. I pulled off onto the exit lane and double checked my speed as I noticed a parked police car in the lay by. I was just touching seventy and rapidly slowing down as I travelled toward the round-a-bout. A feeling inside me sensed something was wrong, before even the stationary police car flashed blue and pulled out of its lay by. I continued until the flashing lights were unmistakably signalling me, forcing me to pull over as I exited the fourth exit signposted ‘Malmesbury’.

   ‘Keep your mouth shut.’ I said as the car came to a stop and I waited for the police officer to exit the vehicle behind me

Just I had begun to think my night could not get any more out of control, I was promptly proven wrong. Two shots fired, a smashed rear window and a sticky mess all over my rear seats-later, did the trick as I virtually burned my tyres down to the metal fibres in a frantic bid to escape the terminator 2 style cop, who had chosen the shoot first, ask questions later, mentality. I checked my rear view mirror but that wasn’t much use as I couldn’t see through the shattered glass, held together by the tinting film. Two tiny puncture wounds had created small windows of clarity that sent a steady spraying of rain water onto my parcel shelf. Something else was wrong, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it and I knew I didn’t have much time to hang around. I had to get off of this brightly lit main road and disappear down an unremarkable street. You know, the kind that you would just keep driving past.
‘How are you doing back there’ I asked over my shoulder whilst my eyes repeatedly checked the side mirrors for any sign that he was pursuing. The reply was a stony silence. You know, the kind you only hear when you are talking to a dead man. I glanced in the back quickly and wished that I hadn’t as I realised that the reason he wasn’t answering me was because the front of his head and most of it’s contents, was beautifully arranged all over my fabric-fucking-interior! I wanted to scream. Not in fear or sorrow, but in anger. I had only just had my car valeted and now it was all fucked up again. I mean, why the hell was he shooting at me anyway? Does he know who I am? Bullets don’t kill me, if they did I would have died a very long time ago.
Yeah I’ve been shot. A few times actually, once I got shot taking a bullet for the…ahhh, never mind. Back to the story.
So, if they know who I am and they are shooting bullets at my car, this would achieve only two possible outcomes; one, they want to fuck my car up and really piss me off! Or two, they want to shoot me down and capture me. What? I said that bullets don’t kill me, I didn’t say they don’t fuck me up for a while…Or three! the thought occurred to me as I tried to evaluate the damage to the interior, whilst waiting at a red light. Three: they didn’t want to kill me, they wanted to kill the Archbishop.
Holy fuck!!
Yes he was, but that is besides the point. What did he know that was so important that he needed to be silenced? What was I about to discover? The Archbishop had promised to give me the recorded accounts, in its entirety, of the missionary troupe my brother had left for the Americas with. A record that had been regularly updated, apparently. It would have his last know location, his alias’ and affiliations. All of the important shit I need to find him. Well, I guess now I’ll never know what he may have had waiting for me in this ‘vault of records’.
Slowly my brain began to shift into second, then third, as I slammed the brakes on and came to an abrupt stop in the middle of the road and waited. And waited. And waited…I knew it! No-one was following me and I had just driven away, as fast as my super-charged car would take me, from the only person who I could use to connect to, whatever the fuck was going on. I punched the steering wheel and then cursed in anger at myself for being so stupid. I knew that now I would have to use the only two things that I had to go on, if I am to discover the truth. Thanks to the old, snivelling sack of shit, leaking all over my foot mats, this night hadn’t been a total disaster. I have a name and a country, at least it’s a start: Ian Mulliti, USA.
Next stop: America

End of Part 1,



Henry Game’s (unofficial) trails through history

Henry Game’s (unofficial) trails through history.

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