Chapter 5: Schlaf In Himmlischer Ruh
Jack sunk in the soft mattress of the bed resting his elbows on his knees. He looked over at Gwen. “What do we have?”
The young woman pushed a tendril of dark hair behind her ear and shifted her weight on the bed. She thumbed through her note book holding several pages between her pinch. “Aeddan Bach, sixty-seven years old, was born here but left to pursue a teaching career. Was a master at Marling Grammar School in Stroud for, for twenty years, retiring back to the village, with his wife, when his sister became ill.”
She turned her attention to the opened door as Ianto entered carrying an ornate tray of cups. She gave him a smile of gratitude as he set one on her bedside table.
“His sister?” Jack drew her back.
Gwen directed her concentration from the comforting aroma and turned the page of her A4 pad. “Dylis Bach, sixty-two, used to run the Post Office, here, until she became too sick. Never married.”
“Spinster of this parish,” Owen offered, taking a prolonged swig of coffee to savour the rich flavour and to confirm his suspicion that somewhere along the line Ianto had sold his soul to the Devil. “This isn’t instant,” he gauged.
With a steady hand Ianto paused as he passed Jack his cup. “And this isn’t the back of beyond,” he retorted. “This establishment does possess a coffee machine, a rather nice GAGGIA…”
Owen nudged Jack, as he sat heavily on the edge of Tosh’s bed, causing the Captain’s coffee to rock precariously on its saucer. “Better watch yourself, Harkness, looks like you’ve got a rival. Bet it’s all metallic and shiny, our tea-boy has a weakness for anything mechanical and shiny.”
“Owen!” Tosh rebuked hastily.
Ianto glared at the doctor who just smiled and dunked a Hobnob into his coffee.
Jack gave a heavy sigh as he tipped the spillage back into the cup from his saucer. “Do we know what’s wrong with her, the sister?”
“Cancer, terminal, she has a Macmillan Nurse staying with her,” Gwen answered.
Jack looked down into his coffee. “The witness’ statements were slightly confused as to the number of attackers and descriptions but one thing they did agree on was they were all wearing World War One Uniforms.” He looked back to the team.
“A few of the choir seemed to think they were disfigured in some way,” Gwen added, stealing a hurried sip.
“Well that narrows it down,” said Owen taking another biscuit from the opened packet and dropping crumbs on the bedspread.
“Have we established a connection between Mr Bach and World War One?” Ianto asked leaning against an old-fashioned wardrobe.
Gwen puffed out her cheeks. “Mrs Bach said her husband’s grandfather, William, served. Lost a leg when a bullet wound got infected, he was sent home.”
“A Blighty,” Jack said with a sad smile.
Gwen eyes narrowed. “A Blighty was a wound that would get you sent home,” Jack explained. “Do we know which regiment?” Jack glanced between the two girls.
The Gwen shook her head. “She couldn’t say.”
“Tosh?” Jack asked hopefully.
“I’ve contacted the National Archives, the Imperial War Museum and many others but I’m not holding out much hope, a lot of war records were destroyed in the Blitz. Even some of Torchwood’s archives were lost.”
“Ianto, did you notice if the men had any insignia on their uniforms?” Jack looked hopeful.
Ianto thought for a moment then shook his head. “I couldn’t make it out,” he said quietly.
Tosh bit her lip. “I found the word ‘yperite’, on several sites. “She looked up at Ianto and gave a small smile. “It’s another name given to mustard gas, used by German forces in 1917…”
“‘Peace upon earth! We sing it and pay a million priests to bring it. After two thousand years of mass we’ve got as far as poison-gas.'”
All eyes turned to Owen who held a soggy biscuit over his cup. He shrugged and placed it in his mouth. “We used to get lumbered with a great uncle every Christmas,” he explained, spitting out a few sodden lumps. “The daft old sod used to recite that little nugget while they played the national anthem, after the Queen’s speech; used to piss himself too and blame the dog.” He grabbed another biscuit.
Ianto moved to where he had left the tray and retrieved a manila folder from under it. He coughed into his hand. “Addoedsbren has a file in the Torchwood archives.”
He opened the file releasing its musty smell and pulled out a single sheet of aged paper. “Torchwood were sent to investigate the appearance of, ‘the Angelystor’ …”
“The angel of death,” Gwen interjected nodding. “Mrs Bach mentioned it when I interviewed her.”
“Last year fairies now this!” Owen rolled his eyes. “What next, dragons?”
Ianto ignored him. “Apparently, according to folklore, it announces the names of those in the parish who will shortly die.” He looked around the group.
“What did we find?” Jack asked.
“Torchwood drew a blank, sir. The only comment made was that the psychic, who accompanied them, became ‘agitated’ when in the proximity of an old yew tree. The file was subsequently closed.”
“And yet you found it again,” Owen commented into his cup.
Jack pinned him with a stare. “What year was the phenomenon investigated?”
Ianto checked the date on the top of the report, fingering the sheet loosely between thumb and forefinger. “Nineteen-twenty-eight.”
“I can confirm…” Tosh fiddled with the download cable attached to the hastily repaired rift device. She tapped a few keys and her screen flickered for a moment with a list of data. “Damn it!” She exclaimed as it faded from view.
She pulled a small watchmakers’ screwdriver from behind her ear and used it to tweak the gadget’s interior to restore the information.
“I can confirm,” she began again with a slight cough. “That the readings I took earlier coincide with the report, rift activity peaked around the area of the yew tree.” She looked to Jack.
He smiled. “Well I say that demands further investigation,” he exclaimed, jumping to his feet and sending Owen sprawling across the bed.
“Fuck, Harkness,” the doctor yelled, looking at the spill of coffee down his front.
Copyright RMC Nov 2017
Quote : Christmas: 1924 – Thomas Hardy