Holy Infant So Tender And Mild
The graveyard shook causing both Owen and Ianto to fall to the ground. The earth seemed to liquefy around them, turning itself over in a series of frenzied waves that poured from the heart of the yew. Clouds swept across the stare of the moon darkening the night still further until the only light that steeped the shadows was the glow of the tree.
Hailstones lashed the ground as the churchyard became caught in the wrath of a turbulent squall that shook the sky with ferocity and violence. Something inhuman screamed, carried on the burst of the storm, making both men cover their ears as its sound rushed over them.
The four figures, at the gate, were torn from the ink of the night, their imprint shrivelling into a smoky pall as they were consumed by the glow of yew in varying cries of pain.
Then everything went still.
Owen sat up, the melt of ice trickling down his back and smearing his face in streaks of ash. He dusted his hands together to dislodge the sting of small stones that scuffed his palms. He looked across to Ianto who was standing against the stone. “Owen?”
The doctor gestured he was unhurt with a wave of his hand. “Stay there,” he implored getting shakily to his feet.
The earth began to move again as the divergence of the yew’s capillary roots flayed the frozen soil freeing themselves from its confines in a rip of sod and grave goods. Bones, wood and cloth splintered into the air as they breached the topsoil exhuming several bodies that lay in their path. Gravestones fell into the earth, angels crumbled into weeping fragments, family monuments were uprooted in the release of anger and sinuous twists of fury that echoed in a throaty and wounded howl.
Owen turned to the church rattling the porch as he tried to open it, his eyes never leaving the serpentine arch of a predatory root. He fired several shots into the door, splintering the studded wood around the cast-iron lock but the bolt remained steadfast. He heard Ianto cry his name as he was struck hard across the back, his face colliding with heavy oak as he fell against the door and crumpled to the path.
Dazed, he was aware of being dragged back over the gravel, his firearm out of reach, as he scraped against the roll of the stones. He tried to dig his fingers into the solid ground, to stop from being hauled across the churchyard, but the pull on his body was far too strong and all he could do was watch the thawed track he was leaving against the grass.
A light splayed across the darkness from behind him as Agroná, once more, opened a bridge between past and present letting its beam rip through the graveyard. Owen felt the wrench of its vortex, even from where he was, as a small burst of static licked the air and nipped at the night.
There was another scream and something flared against the ebony gloom causing him to cough to avoid an unexpected spout of smoke. The pull around his lower leg went limp and he felt the touch of leather grab his wrist and yank him to his feet.
Confused, Owen pushed away from the steadying hand trying to blink through the blood oozing from the gash on his forehead. He was furnished with handkerchief which he pressed against the wound. “For fuck sake, Ianto, I told you to stay put.” Owen looked at the dusty coil of ash on the ground.
“And let you have all the fun.” Ianto guided the doctor back towards the stone.
“You call this fun; you really should get out more…” He surveyed the graveyard. “What’s it doing?”
“I think it’s licking its wounds.”
“Or rallying it forc…”
The rip in time exploded towards the two men engulfing them in a blaze of light and twisting shadows. The graveyard shattered from their perception falling like broken glass only to be crushed by the eddy of the vortex.
Ianto was vaguely aware of the screech of tires as his body was wrenched and stretched between the two points in time but it was obscured by the sound of rifle and machine gun fire that pounded with the sound of his own heartbeat.
He screamed as air was compressed from his lungs, the sound tearing flesh from his throat. Someone called his name but it was lost as he was smothered with shades of grey and abstract images that cried in blood.
Again his name bounced toward him in many varying echoes. “Tosh?” His voice was dense and to fractured in shifting tones.
He covered his ears gasping as the crush of time pulled at the sinews of his body and mind. “Tosh the manuscript.” It hurt to speak, like each syllable bit into his tongue.
“Remember, life, death, rebirth, the stones, it imbues the stones….”
Ianto began to fall into the slant of light. He thought he saw Owen balloon past him in the expanse but the flashes of clipped moments shredded his mind with their unrelenting flick of past images. Decades of blood and terror pulsed through him and under his skin, their fear and anguish becoming his own in their constant push through his mind.
He screamed but it went unheard in the desperate cries of the past above so many tools of misfortune. Then there was blackness and when he awoke there would be even more pain.
Tosh physically held Jack back as the two men were sucked into the current of time.
They heard Ianto’s broken voice cry out from the net of light. “Manuscript… Life… Death… Rebirth…. Stones…. Imbues….”
Jack looked over his shoulder at her. “He brought it with him?”
She nodded silently. “Then it’s in there.” He looked back to the vortex.
“No.” Tosh shook her head.
Her eyes held his in a moment of clarity. “He left it. I-I can feel it Jack, I don’t know how but it’s still here.” She turned to the graveyard something prickling her senses calling silently against the darkness.
Jack spared her a fleeting glance and Tosh felt its weight. “They’ll never survive,” he whispered, as the light began to fold in on itself.
“It could be a trap,” Tosh reasoned feeling his body pull away.
Tosh let go of his shoulder and stepped back. “You do what you have to. Gwen and I will take care of things this end.”
Jack turned and brushed her chin with his thumb. “If you get a chance to stop this thing then do it.”
Tosh closed her eyes and nodded, his touch gone from her face as he stepped closer to the shred of light. “Bring them back.”
Jack turned and smiled an acknowledgement before he plunged back into time, the glow surrounding him like a heavenly apparition before it swamped his figure and was gone.
Tosh stood alone in the darkness trying to blink away the speckled fragments of light stabbing at her vision.
Copyright RMC Dec 2017 Chapter 20
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