Chapter 2

Chapter 3: Nur Das Traute Hochheilige Paar

 Ianto followed Tosh as she weaved through the forest of glazed headstones. The fog still clung to the daylight making it difficult for him to see the uneven ground. He rubbed his eyes as he tried to focus in the melt of the churchyard but the weather was making everything shapeless. Tosh seemed oblivious, dissolving quickly into its mantle, as she followed the high-pitched whine of the device she was using to track rift activity. Ianto stumbled in his haste to keep up leaving the span of his hand on the frosted grass. He wiped it on his coat calling into the gloom for Tosh to wait; his voice bouncing back against the stillness of the day.

He tried his headset but it offered nothing but a static hiss. Ianto felt uneasy.

A figure approached staggering through the fog until he was level with the young Welshman. The man was naked, the entire top layer of his skin was burnt from his body, his eyes were closed, the lids swollen, his face scalded and blistered. He placed a tattered hand on Ianto’s shoulder and parted his lips. “Yperite,” he rasped, unable to draw breath.

He took a step backward. “Yperite,” his voice cracked again before he moved off and was swallowed up by the weather.

Ianto remained fixed as around him the fog retreated a little to reveal a muddy, lunar landscape. Trees like battle weary sentinels, stripped of their branches, stood destitute against the dull sky still churning with the remains of heavy artillery and the smell of cordite.

Someone began to whistle, its eerie sound muffled by the bank of fog.   A figure approached, the cheerful tune on his lips sounding threatening.  As he got closer Ianto could see he was soldier, an officer from the First World War.   Four others stepped out of the circling haze to join him.

A flame burnt into gloom adding a glare of colour but no warmth. One of the men dipped his head to light the Woodbine between the grimace of his mouth. He inhaled deeply and discarded the match from his skeletal hands with a crack of bony fingers. Ianto swallowed.

The man with the cigarette stepped forward revealing the ugly gaping wound that ripped apart his face. “While you’ve a Lucifer to light your fag,” he emphasized, raising his eyebrows knowingly and brandished the cigarette in the air.

He placed the Woodbine into the hole in his cheek and drew the rich tobacco to his lungs. “Smile, boys, that the style,” he continued with a mirthless laugh visible because of the smoke.

The officer took off his cap and began to polish its badge with his sleeve. Ianto could see an opening where a bullet had pierced the side of his head. The man placed it back on. “Go home,” he ordered.

Ianto felt a tap on his shoulder and discovered one of the men behind him. He turned his head slowly round to be greeted by a face that was buckled and crushed. The man’s forehead had caved in pushing his eyes sockets further apart and down toward his cheeks. “My arms have mutinied against me — brutes! My fingers fidget like ten idle brats, my back’s been stiff for hours, damned hours. Death never gives his squad a ‘stand-at-ease’.”

The man wiggled his fingers close to Ianto’s cheek; maggots dripped off the flesh squirming between the material of his coat and neck. He reeled away brushing desperately at the grubs and stumbled back into the mud.

He got to his feet instinctively wiping the cloying sludge from the leather of his gloves. “Would you like to see my pet?” another asked, indicating to a rat he held.

The creature sprang from the soldier’s grasp and scurried up his mutilated arm stopping to snack on his flesh. “Now, now, Fritz, I’ll be needing that later,” he said, tearing the ravenous animal from the open wound. “Here take this.” He delved around in his pocket producing a hunk of dried bread; the animal took it greedily between its jaws, moving onto its master’s shoulder to gorge itself.

The young soldier smiled and looked at Ianto. “He prefers it if the blood’s still pumping, sir, you see. Likes toes, does our Fritz, likes to nibble on them in the night, can’t resist the pull of fresh meat.” He made soft clucking noises as he fed the creature more of the mould covered loaf.

The officer stepped forward and laid a hand on Ianto’s shoulder. “Go home, Torchwood,” he advised again. “Only death awaits you here.”

He looked back into the fog and suddenly pushed Ianto to the ground. A shell exploded nearby shooting a tall column of debris into the air. The blast ruptured the silence, like a sudden violent storm, raining down its carnage upon them. Ianto ate mud, covering his head with his arms, while the officer used his own body to shield him from the deluge. The air turned to dust making it hard to breathe.

Ianto felt a rough tug on his shoulder as the man hauled him to his feet. He stood awkwardly watching as the lingering pillar of smoke began to expand out from the top stretching its reach like an angel unfurling its grimy wings. The men turned and walked towards its spectre until it engulfed them in its eddying shadow. Only the officer remained, a haunted look on his face, his eyes filled with a sorrow. “Go home,” he whispered desperately turning into the embrace of the dark mist.

When he had been swallowed by the inky vapour a face appeared in its pall and met Ianto’s stare.

He felt a chill as the fog closed in.

It was cold and still.

Tosh was mesmerised by the jump of digital numbers on the display.  A few moments ago it was dormant, with only the occasional encouraging blip, it now seemed intent on registering an escalating increase in activity way beyond what she had encountered before. She shouted for Ianto not taking her eyes of the mounting figures.

“Ianto,” she called again into the layers of fog. There was no response.

She pressed her Bluetooth. “Ianto.” The answering hiss made her tear it away from her head and press the affronted ear.

She looked back at the device, the small green light was flashing madly in the gloom, she could even feel the heat from its casing through her gloved hand.

“Shit,” she said with a swallow.

The ground shook making her unsteady on her feet. She fell backward, a headstone breaking her fall, making her drop the device. A thunderous burst of dirt and grit surged over her causing her to instinctively shield her eyes.

Moments later a figure stumbled towards her moving blindly in the murkiness. She rubbed at her sore eyes, reaching out a hand to grab at his coat and guide him to her. “Ianto,” she said with urgency.

The dishevelled young man looked at her without recognition. “Tosh?” He stuttered, grabbing onto her small shoulders.

“Yes, who did you…” But she was interrupted as he vomited all over her Jimmy Choo Bikers.

Copyright RMC Nov 2017

Wild with all Regrets – Wilfred Owen

Pack up Your Troubles – (George Asaf / Felix Powell)

Chapter 4

3 thoughts on “Angelystor

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