The love of Solitude: Chapter Twenty

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Written By Abdun Nur

Chapter Twenty

The Locksmith’s Missing

“If a man is born ignorant to parents that are ignorant, in a society that is ignorant, lives a life of ignorance and eventually dies in ignorance..

Ignorance is a norm. So indoctrination can be called education, hypnotism can be called entertainment, criminals can be called leaders and lies can be called truth, because his mind was never truly his own.” Unknown

Gwen felt encouraged to look again into finding her brother, after Sill’s early success in uncovering some of the mystery surrounding her brothers disappearance. So first thing in the morning she decided to get the locksmith back.

The locksmith arrived just after dinner, at around one o’clock, Gwen told him to open all the doors in the cellar and left him to get on with it.

When Sill and Phil came in from the garden at six o’clock the locksmith’s van was still parked on the road near the gate in front of Gwen’s garden, the dean arrived and parked behind it, then walked briskly towards Gwen’s house and knocked confidently on the door.

Gwen invited the dean in and sat him in the living room with a cup of tea.

Well Gwen can we finalise a commitment from you?” The dean asked.

George, I’ve given it some thought. I’ve decided feeding a corporation is unhealthy, unproductive and harmful to change.

So in that spirit of money being your main focus, I’m potentially willing to do two things in relationship to the corporation of your university, and this offer is take it or leave it, we’re not haggling.

I thought you could pay me to create the feature sculpture in your main hall, if you wish, and in creating that students could help me and learn some of the skills involved. I’d leave the market price open to you to determine, but would require independent valuations on completion of the work to verify that estimate, requiring to be paid not less than 10% below market price, and from my payment all the students involved in the projected would have their student fees paid, and I’d receive the balance.

Secondly, I’m willing to work with Hiroki, and would be interested in creating a CGI animated movie, and would be willing to fund the project personally, for expenses outside the normal university service or unique production costs, the university would benefit from the training of students, which is what the students are paying you for, so contributing university resources and services would not be a cost, but just the students accessing resources themselves, having paid for that facility, additionally you are getting a teacher for free so in that you gain also. A reasonable division of any revenues could be established, between those working in the creation of the film, students and teachers, and any excess revenue generated could be used by other students to develop more creative CGI films through the formation of a reciprocal cooperative bond. But being realistic the university would contribute very little, so any claim to the movie by your corporation has little to no foundation.

If this offers is acceptable we can move forward, if not I’m happy to remain in obscurity.” Gwen finished and sipped her tea.

George had been writing down her offers, he put his note book and pen away.

Smiling he replied. “I’ll present your offers to the board and let you know what they decide. The board meet monthly, so it will be early next month before you’ll hear from them.

I’m hopeful on your first offer but am very doubtful about your second.” He sipped his tea and relaxed into the chair, looking around.

“It’s a take it or leave it, the offer is not two separate offers, it is two elements of one offer.” Gwen said with a smile.

“Oh. I see.” The dean looked a little disappointed.

The dean sipped his tea and took a biscuit from the open biscuit tin sat on the small coffee table. “The stories you create for the paintings are very broad compared to the painting.

I mean to say, you could create several paints from one of your stories.” The dean pondered.

I do George. I often do a series of paintings for one story.” Gwen explained.

This is a very beautiful in a very macabre sort of way, a painting of horror, true depravity.” George said gesturing towards a large canvas on the floor below another painting hung on the wall.

What’s the story of that painting?” George asked.

That’s one of a series of painting of the ship, ‘The Traders Flute’.

I could tell you the story of that, if you would like.” Gwen replied.

“OK. Thanks.” The dean said.

After finding the book Gwen made herself comfortable, composing herself before beginning.

“In the 16th century the Scots traded by sea with other communities; this was often a dangerous job, with risks of storms, criminals roaming the high seas and disease. But the ones who gained the most from such dangers did not share them, they simply had either the credit to gain loans, or the wealth to fund the risks others took, to allow their undeserved gains to grow.

The only risk the one with the monopoly on resources took was in loss, and this they offset by purchasing insurance, so their risks were little, while those who laboured to generate the wealth they hoarded, bore great risks, with little reward.

One such ruthless man had purchased a Dutch ship and hired a crew to trade. Dutch ships were mass produced and common in trade, and his plan was to trade large oak barrels filled with Scottish whiskey at the slave markets of Zanzibar on the East African coast for slaves. He planned to sail them to New Orleans and sell them at the slave markets to the Jewish buyers with whom he was well connected, who then either sold them on for a large profit, or rented them to plantation owners. Being Jewish himself meant he was already well connected broadly with people who could help him in any business scheme he wanted to pursue. He then planned to load the ship with refined sugar, which when docked back in the Scottish port would be used in further production of whiskey. The sugar was used in the production of barley beer, which was distilled into a liquor, which then became whiskey as it matured within oak barrels.

He part owned a distillery, so the cost of the whiskey was low, and the sugar would reduce the costs of production further, this was the cycle he wanted to developed believing it would gain him maximum returns, while building up his fleet of trading ships. All this was in his mind, choosing his crew was his most difficult aspect, he needed a crew that had no compassion or regard for the suffering of others, and he took great care in the crew selection.

He’d found captain Blair, a greedy, manipulative criminal, widely hated by local sailors, a vile weasel of a man, known for his cruel and abusive methods as a captain, few would sail with him, this the merchant felt was the ideal man for the job. The captain suggested most of the crewmen needed, and helped in the selection of the remainder, using the offer of greater rewards than could be gained from normal trading voyages, the ship was crewed.

Of course the merchant couldn’t declare his intentions to trade in people, it was against British law, so he declared his intentions to the authorities, of trading whiskey to New Orleans, and bringing back refined sugar.

He had the ship refitted in readiness to hold the maximum number of people, with chains and shackles. Then once the barrels of whiskey were loaded the ship set out.

The merchant waited for the ships return, but that ship was never again seen in Scotland.

The final sighting of his ship, was on the rolling high sea, where the eighty foot fluyt heaved and hove’d, the ship looked weather beaten and ragged, bereft of crew and passengers, a lonely ship adrift far from human knowledge.

The ships complement had suffered the horrors of disease and all were lost, leaving the wooden Fluyt a ghost, she’d been bought by the merchant from the corporation of the English government, who’d stolen her during the Anglo-Dutch war from the Dutch East India Company. The crew had credited this as the source of the curse that’d doomed them all.

This was her second winter adrift and the ship had weathered many storms, its foremast, mainmast and mizzen mast sails waved torn and tattered in the wind, with the yellow jack flying from the mainmast truck, creating an unsettling feeling of a malevolent ship of dark foreboding.

When she was sighted for the final time the sea was fairly calm with a swell of two feet. From the deck, only ocean could be seen from horizon to horizon.

The dead languished in the ship, the severe cold of the northern regions slowly mummifying the bodies, making them shrink down until the skin hugged the bones. No one would easily recognise them, transformed by the ravages of decay. The crews families, who’d waited expectantly for their safe return, had slowly given up all hope, some had mourned the loss, but now they had adjusted their lives knowing their loved ones would not return.

The ship originally had a complement of twenty crew and a captain, the merchant owner seeking to increase profit using minimal crew. They set out on the tail end of an autumn storm, fully loaded, docked at the African slave port, sold their cargo and loaded fully with slaves, unfortunately they’d taken on some uninvited guests; plague rats.

The fluyt left port, but it wasn’t long before the captain realised the crew were infected with bubonic plague, he’d seen the symptoms before.

He’d heard rumours in the port of plague, rumours the authorities were trying to keep quiet. He turned the ship to the coast, racing for land, and raised the yellow jack.

Only two of the crew had symptoms and they’d been isolated, in hope of stopping the spread.

Captain Blair looked upon the two infected crewmen coldly, while holding a rag over his mouth. “Throw them over the side.” He ordered his first mate. “Now!” Fear ran rampant through the minds of the crew, and none wished to die, so his orders were well received, but not so well received by the two dying crewmen.

The two helpless men were dragged thrashing and screaming on deck, and then heaved into the ocean, were their cries slowly faded into the distance as the ship sailed on.

The captain was a soulless fellow and knew the infected crewmen were lost, but he’d no intention of dying of plague.

He order all hands to set to work cleaning the ship, scrubbing a mixture of salt and lamp oil on everything they could, including the cargo of slaves, hoping to remove whatever was onboard causing the disease, he’d seen old women doing this to houses of people who’d caught the same disease in his home town, and thought it worth a try. The mixture had to be scrubbed away after a short time to prevent the ship setting alight, so this was a slow process, with crew pulling sea water on board for the constant rinsing, while the bilge pump was pumped to clear the waste.

He had the crew work through the night scrubbing the mixture onto everything, in the morning more crew were infected, but the captain made short work of anyone showing symptoms, and had them heaved from the ship.

But his efforts gained him nothing, after two more days the captain had a fever, he knew it was hopeless, nothing would save them now, that was that, he thought.

He stood at the taffrail, and stared across the wide ocean at the rising sun, he stared long at it, feeling both grief-stricken and powerless at the pointless loss of his precious life.

The captain pondered the future, he’d a headache and fever, but he’d seen what happened as the disease advanced, the stomach cramps and diarrhoea, vomiting, then as it progressed bleeding from every orifice, even bleeding under the skin, then finally gangrene, swiftly followed by death. He didn’t fancy that, and he was deciding the best course of action.

He carried a single shot black powder flintlock Toby Muff pistol on board, he talked to the crew explaining how the disease progressed and what options they had, and it was decided through a full consensus the best thing would be a clean shot to the head.

It was a solemn and painful event, but not for captain Blair, who found some pleasure in shooting each crewman in the eye, after each shot he loaded the gun and offered it to the crewman. Only one took it from his hand, when he took hold of it, he was shacking and terrified. The captain reassured him, but he could not do it, and he dropped the gun to the deck, sobbing.

Blair smiled and retrieved the gun, lifted it over the terrified mans eye and fired, he’d to fight back a smile of pleasure at each shot, once he’d dispatched the entire crew the gun dropped to his side like a lead weight, this last shot would be no pleasure.

The captain knew he must do it, the alternative was horrific, he decided swift action was the only way, no time to think just shoot.

He looked down at the gun, lifted it up, then pulled the flint hammer back until it clicked into place ready to strike the steel and spark the powder.

He took a deep breath and closed his eyes, as he breathed out he couldn’t do it.

Blair walked briskly onto deck, and he began to sob, he was terribly afraid to die, now he was alone he had no need of pretense.

Blair sat, he stared across at two dead crewmen for a long time, then as quick as he could he lifted the pistol under his chin and pulled the trigger, he slumped forward and the pistol tumbled to the ground.

All the crew were dead, and the small ship sailed forlorn upon the open sea.

No passing ship would board her, the yellow jack flew as if the grim reaper rode the mast. So the crew lay where they’d died, their families would be puzzling as to what had happened to them, and may never find the answer.

The little ship sailed ever onward adrift on the north Atlantic current, drawing it ever forth towards the arctic.

It happened that a Royal Navy vessel spotted the ship adrift on the open sea, the Captain examined the ship from a distance, and determined she had been drifting a long time, his greed motivated his guess that whatever plague had been onboard had gone, he wanted the ship as salvage.

He sent his crew onboard by long boat to clear the ship of bodies and make her sea worthy again.

The crew climbed aboard with cloth wrapped over the mouth and nose and rag gloves on their hands, they began to throw the bodies into the sea, but when they went into the cargo hold, they were confronted with hundreds of bodies chained down, 600 slaves packed like spoons,  in a scene of horror and cruel tortured death, the very sight of which, would tare a soul apart. Men, women and children, even babies filled that vestige of capitalist hell, a frozen shot of the malignant greed of soulless man, held fixed in time.

The four crewmen tasked with clearing the ship had no stomach to cleanse the cargo hold, they all stood and looked, never had they seen such a sight. “Burn it!” The bosun said in a quiet voice.

The ship was a tinder box soaked in the lamp oil, and the four crew mates barely made it clear of the ship before it was a raging inferno.

From the deck of his ship the captain watched her burn, it wasn’t long before she began to fall apart and soon the ocean consumed what remained, gone forever, along with the evidence of the crimes and horrors she carried.” Gwen finished her story with a sad smile.

George had listened to her story as he looked at the painting. “ These stories would really make an engrossing art exhibition if we displayed the full series of paintings in sequence, and had professional voice artists to do the readings, maybe with music, and sound effects.” George suggested.

If you allowed the university to display your work that is.” George said.

Gwen thought about the suggestion as she stroked Jasper and sipped her tea. “ That does sound an interesting idea.” Gwen replied after a minute.

George was a clever man, he thought to tempt Gwen into surrendering her work to the university. “Just a few of your stories, you could choose which stories you’d like to be presented, and the university would organise the readings and create the gallery setting for your work, we’d also, if you allowed, have the stories and artwork made into books, this would generate revenue for you and the university.

A few aspects of the stories may have to be altered, for political correctness, but otherwise it would be just as you dictated.” George added.

“What do you mean?” Gwen asked puzzled.

“Well, for example, we would leave out the references to the Jews, instead we’d just say a merchant. That sort of thing.” The dean explained.

“But the entire slave trade has for millennia, been dominated by Jews and still is, there are more slaves today than at any other point in human history, which says a lot about modern ignorance and society, and the power of the slave traders in dominating and functioning fully protected as slave traders.

Now of course the slave trade is more in forced sex slaves, rented to brothels by the Ashkenazi mafia.

The American slave markets of old, closed on Saturdays as the markets were run and used for trading almost exclusively by Ashkenazi Jews, and they don’t work on Saturdays. Ashkenazi Jew’s as a group had far more physical slaves than any other group in the Americas when slavery was popular. It wasn’t the bleeding hearts that ended physical slavery, slavery ended because economic slavery is infinitely cheaper for the owners, it gives better returns at lower investment, if that wasn’t the reality, physical slavery would be both legal and far more widespread.

They’ve repackaged physical slavery in America, using the industrial prison fiction, they kidnap and enslave people for mafia government code violations, and then rent prison slaves to corporations as very cheap labour.” Gwen explained.

They chatted for a short while longer, George sliding into the cognitive dissonance of his indoctrination’s the more Gwen chatted, Gwen could see this happening and made her small talk short.

As soon as George had left Gwen returned to her cooking.

When the three of them had finished eating the evening meal, Sill was curious to know why it was taking the locksmith so long to open the doors.

Could you take the locksmith this cup of tea Sill?” Gwen asked when she returned from the kitchen carrying a tray of drinks.

Sill carried the tea into the cellar, he walked across the room and through the open door of the workshop, and could see the previous locked door was now slightly open. He put the tea down and opened the door, it was completely dark, he called out to the locksmith but no one replied.

That’s odd’ he thought, he put his hand into the room feeling the wall for a light switch, he flicked it up and down but nothing happened, it was a odd darkness, the light from the workshop didn’t illuminate anything, it was a wall of black so Sill went back into the main house.

No sign of the locksmith Gwen, there’s no one in the cellar.” Sill told her.

Gwen rang the locksmith to see why his van was still parked in front of her house, thinking maybe it’d broken down, but there was no answer.

I suppose there closed at this time, I’ll ring again in the morning.” Gwen said.

They all sat chatting in the living room, Phil was becoming quite the chatterbox, he was coming more and more back into sociability, the more he healed the more he was at peace with himself again.

It was just after eight o’clock when there was a knock at the door, Gwen was painting, Phil was asleep in a chair and Sill was sitting stroking a cat in front of the coal fire. He got up and went to see who it was.

He opened the door to a middle aged woman, a little over weight and dressed for comfort. “Hello, could I speak with Gerry?” She asked

There’s no one here named Gerry, sorry.” Sill replied.

He came here today to open some locks for you.” The woman persisted.

Oh, the locksmith, yes, he’s not here. We were wondering why his van was still parked on the road ourselves.” Sill replied.

The woman looked more concerned. “He’s not here?

But were on earth can he be?” She asked distressed.

I’ll just find the torch, we can check the cellar, in case he’s down there in one of the unlit rooms. I checked for him earlier but I couldn’t see anyone at all down there.” Sill told her.

When they were both in the cellar Sill shone the light of his torch into the room leading from the workshop, its eerie stillness creeped him out, the light of the torch seemed to be swallowed up by the room, it didn’t illuminate anything, as if it shone into the abyss of starless space, it was that disconcerting it gave Sill goosebumps, “Not in here. Nothing seems to be in here, not even a room.” Sill added with a slight smile.

Sill thought to throw something into the blackness of the room to test the nothingness was just his imagination, he found an old glass demijohn with about a pint of some brown watery liquid at the bottom, and tossed it into the room, there was silence, it was swallowed up, Sill got a bad feeling from that room, he certainly didn’t want to go any further, he stood at the door straining his eyes to see anything while the torch did nothing to help.

Nothing in here.” He said. He looked around behind him to find another object to throw into the blackness, he found a dirty coffee mug and returned to the door, he gently tossed the cup into the blackness and it vanished, it made no sound, nothing hit the floor, it was just gone. He looked around for another object to throw, he found a large book, this weighed a lot, he heaved it into the blackness, silence.

Something wasn’t right. Sill wasn’t sure what to tell the woman who was stood near him watching what he was doing. “Let’s go back upstairs and we can talk with Gwen.” Sill suggested, the woman looked horrified and was shaking.

Sill led the woman back into the house, and asked her to wait in the hall, he went into the living room to speak privately with Gwen. “Gwen there’s something odd in the cellar, the room the locksmith opened is filled with blackness.” Sill said troubled.

Couldn’t you find the torch?” Gwen asked.

No, you don’t understand. It’s filled with blackness, light will not enter, and when I threw things inside they just vanished without a sound.

I think the locksmith went into the blackness and vanished.” Sill continued.

Sill that’s silly. Come on lets go down and search the room.” Gwen told him slightly amused.

Gwen walked straight out into the hall and met the woman waiting. “This is Gerry’s wife.” Sill told her.

Come on.” Gwen said walking straight outside.

When they got to the cellar Gwen walked immediately to the unlocked room and noticed the odd wall of blackness herself, the foreboding prevented her from moving into the room. “Sill could I have the torch please.” She said taking the torch and shining it into the room of blackness.

It was odd the torch light didn’t illuminate anything at all, Gwen stepped forward but she was instantly pulled back by Sill. “No Gwen. Watch.” Sill took the lit torch from her hand and tossed it into the darkness; it vanished without a sound, its light swallows instantly. Gwen stepped back in shock. They both stood staring.

What the hell is that?” Gwen asked.

I don’t know but I think the locksmith was consumed by that room.” Sill replied. They both moved cautiously away from the entrance and back into the light of the other room.

“No sign of your husband. Maybe you could give him a ring on your mobile?” Gwen suggested, not really knowing what to say to her, or how to handle the situation. Gerry’s wife dialed her phone and it rang, to everyone surprise inside the room they were standing.

It was easy to locate the phone from the sound of the ringing, it seemed Gerry had left his phone in the workshop before he walked into the darkness. Sill picked it up and handed still ringing to Gerry’s wife.

“He must be in there!” Gerry’s wife said, as she moved forward intending to go into the room.

“Don’t go into the other room, something isn’t right in there.” Sill grabbed her arm and pulled her back, but Gerry’s wife was having none of it, she half turned around and sloppily hit Sill in the face, pushing him out of the way, her greater size and unexpected aggression making Sill little obstacle, and he let go shocked. She headed into the room and was enveloped by the darkness. She was gone.

Gwen and Sill just stood there in silence looking through the door opening. “Shit.” Sill said.

Get a rope Sill, I have one in the back room near the greenhouse.” Gwen said. Sill went and after a few minutes return with the rope.

Throw one end of the rope into the darkness Sill.” Gwen told him. He took a few loops of the rope and throw it hard through the open door into the darkness of the room. It was held in the mid air within the blackness, you couldn’t see the rope, but what you could see was fixed at the point it vanished, held suspended in the air. Sill dropped the rope and it looked surreal one end tied it seemed to blackness. Again they both stood looking, not sure what to do next.

Their both gone Gwen.

Should we call the police?” Sill asked her.

Likely lose a policeman or two if we do, their not the brightest of souls.

I’m sure the police will come of their own accord shortly in any case, once they know two people are missing and were last here.” Gwen pondered. “Nothing can be done, their gone, maybe dead or gone to who know where, I’ve no idea what that darkness is, where it came from or how to get rid of it.

Isambard was doing something odd in there. Can you pull the rope out?” Gwen continued. Sill picked the rope up and pulled it easily back, looping it into a coil.

Gwen locked the workshop door as they left, and they both returned to the living room without talking, both feeling terrible, fearing the loss of two lives.

Gwen was worried, what should be done, the two cars were now parked outside the house, and if they decided to move them the keys had vanished along with the owners, Gwen knew it wouldn’t be long before the problems would begin. How could this be explained, what would the corporate agents of government mafia do about the darkness, would she be forced to move from her home?

I’ll go’en shift th’ motors.” Phil said after everyone had sat for half an hour without speaking. “Dae ye hae some gloves ah cuid uise Gwen?” He asked.

I’m not sure if that’s the best thing to do, maybe we should just ring the police. They’ll have family who need to know what happened to them. They may have children waiting for them.” Gwen replied.

Ah kin take the motors intae th’ lock, I’ve seen a place wi’ a drop, close ta th’ road, nae sure howfur deep it’s thare, bit it’s fur sure deep enough ta lose a motor or two.” Phil persisted.

Maybe we should just claim no knowledge, it maybe better all round in the end. Phil I’ve the address of the locksmiths, could you and Sill drive both cars there and leave them, you’d have to walk back a distance before getting a taxi?” She suggested.

Sorry Gwen, I can’t drive.” Sill told her with a weak smile.

It’s a’richt. Me ‘n’ Sill kin go t’gither ‘n’ drap th’ motors one at a time, we’ll hang back ’til efter midnight win th’ roads ur deserted.” Phil replied.

Gwen was very concerned, she felt guilty and frightened. “What was Isambard doing?

Is that where he went? Why did he create a blackness that devours everything, and why would he do that?” Gwen asked almost to herself.

This is the final chapter I will post, although I’ve written more. If you’d like to contribute to the further development of this book, please use the information below, thank you.