It branded itself upon the moonless night, eclipsing each star in it’s wake. It was a sight to behold. A sight to prove an existence beyond our skies and domed prison. A sight that is lost in the modern technological age.
I closed my eyes and breathed in the humid air, turning my back on the ripples of Windermere. The meeting had been set here, by the waystone on the east shore, and so I patiently waited. My left foot clicked when I rolled the front of my toes in a circular motion…something wasn’t right about it. But, I was whole again and breathing in the stagnation from the scummy shore. Unlike good ol’ Humpty, who, by the way, isn’t a fucking egg. Who the fuck decided Humpty Dumpty was an egg? And, more to the point why would you try to put a shattered egg back together?
It felt good being back, allowing my mind to wonder, attaching itself to the back of the burning inferno trailing across the black sky and hurtling through the distorted reflections of the lake.
The comet heralded a change in times. In a way It seemed to be ushering in the dawn of the industrial revolution as we fell into it’s vice-like-grip. The age of the machine. The cogs of capitalism. The religion of despicabilities. Sacrificial offerings of true freedom. It heralded a change in me too, at least in my perceptions. The French had taught me the most valuable lesson. It’s true, they did, they taught me that I wasn’t unstoppable. Bastards.
A crunching on the pebbled beach behind me drew my eyes from the brilliance in the sky. Two shadows approached, one of them, through its egg-like shape I recognised as Claric, while the other, somewhat narrower shadow, beside him I did not.
Claric and the stranger stopped short, lingering around ten feet away from me, whispering and mumbling to one another.
After several minutes I grew impatient. ‘Ahem!’ I began, tactfully, ‘do I have bad breath or something?’
Claric laughed and playfully slapped the back of the other man, he did not laugh.
Together they approached, now I could see their faces beneath their trenched jackets. I continued to wait.
‘Take it in Ross, it’s not all that often you catch the Game wrong footed,’ slurred Claric to the other gentleman.
I rolled my foot around again, testily, it clicked. ‘What am I doing here Claric?’
This time it was the small man who laughed, ‘he’s a bit cock sure o’himself, ey, Claricuan?’
Another Irishman, I noticed. I was outnumbered. Too many Irishmen made me uncomfortable, especially when in England. ‘Claric, who the fuck is this little bastard?’ The heat beginning to rise in my face.
The “little bastard” stepped forward, his face about as serious as anyones I have ever see. ‘I am General Robert Ross, Mr Game, and as o’ tree days ago, the Empire has enemies on both side o’ the Atlantic.’
‘General?’ I frowned, mainly directing my question at Claric who was quietly sipping at a hip flask. If he heard me he chose to ignore it.
General Ross bristled as he advanced another step.’Listen to me Game, you’ve been brought back t’ help us win these wars.’
I took note of the plural. However, I was still totally at a loss, almost two hundred and fifty years had passed since I was last knocking around. Back then Britain had virtually ruled supreme. I wondered who these multiple enemies could be, maybe the Spanish, obviously the French, but I couldn’t think who else? “Both sides o’ the Atlantic” he had said.
Maybe my face gave me away as he laughed a flat and empty laugh. ‘Ah, but you know nothing do you?’
I didn’t appreciate his tone, if I’m honest, but he was correct so I kept my mouth shut. See! I told you I was a changed man!
‘It hasn’t been ‘officially’ announced yet, but, The United States o’ America have attacked two o’ our trading vessels, made plans t’ occupy Canada and have had the decision t’ declare war on us, on us! If you can believe it? Passed through Congress earlier this week.’
‘United States?’ I let slip, accidentally.
‘Two-hundred and fifty years is a long time. Entire countries can be born, yet still the Game can’t die? Huih!!’ Charmed in Claric between sips.
‘So who’s the other enemy then?’ I asked the General.
He looked back at me like he had just seen me eating shit. ‘Napoleon, of course!’ he snapped.
‘Two-hundred and, o’forget it.’ I began turning away from the General, ‘who and what the fuck is Napoleon?’
Claric’s face lit up as he gazed at the comet. ‘French. It could not be more perfect for you. Huih!!’
‘So let me get this right, my enemies are French and American, really?’
‘Call it a birthday present,’ teased Claric, his attentions turning back up to the great comet.
I smiled, breathing in the chilled night. The comet really was a beautiful sight.