2.3 - THE GENERAL
Due to the town’s location, the sun both set and rose over the North Sea at Whitby, affording some of the most picturesque coastal panoramas. Before long, the second morning of the bi-annual festival would open with the streets bathed in soft autumn rays, the slight chill being lifted as the sun crept further inland.
The town stirred. Lights flicked on in buildings, chasing away dregs of the night and bleeding out between curtains and blinds. More spilt out over doorways as inhabitants started their daily chores; voices, engines and machinery all beginning to hum.
Gulls attuned to the times of year when visitors came to town, started to screech, forever hopeful some would ignore the signs placed by the council - “Do NOT feed the gulls”. They circled, hopped and waddled around the harbour, relentless in their pursuit of some easy pickings.
A few took to the wing as Samael walked along the harbour towards the Swing Bridge. It was early and therefore, thankfully, the bridge was not open for the passage of boats yet. With a muted bluster in his step, he crossed over to the winding streets on the opposite side of the river Esk. It was still relatively quiet, the weekend revellers at least having not presently arrived out in force and the majority of shops and establishments had yet to open their doors to the public.
He did, however, find a little coffee shop, which piqued his interest. It’s quaint sage-green frontage, bay windows with small panes were crowned by red-bricked upper floors. White signage painted on the canopy bespoke the culinary delights to be found within, ranging from coffees, breakfasts, cream teas to sandwiches and of course, fish and chips.
He caught the eye of a woman whom he presumed to be the proprietor. She was busy ensuring the tables, chairs and cruet sets were ‘just so’ when she’d spied him at the door. Samael gestured to his wrist and make-believe watch. The owner shook her head and flashed nine digits to tell him the time of opening.
Samael did not intend to wait an hour. With nothing more than a narrowing of eyes, he drew her to him. She stared, speechless, unable to resist the pull of the auburn-haired stranger. A quick flex of his fingers and hers reached to the inner bolts and mortice lock on the front door. She stood back and allowed him in.
He ordered a simple cup of tea and some toast, insisting on marmalade with no “bits” in it. He took a seat which afforded him an advantageous view of the street.
“Thank you,” he said as his order was laid in front of him a few minutes later. “I will require regular top-ups.” The corners of his mouth twitched with a restrained smirk.
The woman’s somewhat catatonic state made her nod agreement. She was dismissed with a wave of his hand.
He checked the tea was infused in its little pot then poured himself a cup, affording a splash of milk. Scraping some butter on his toast first, he then peeled open the little carton of marmalade and spread the contents lavishly. Taking a bite, he resumed his vigil of the street outside.
Minutes ticked by. Then an hour. Then two.
By then the little coffee shop had a few customers seeking breakfast. Cutlery clinked, plates clattered. Conversation buzzed as orders for full English or selective portions of eggs, bacon with beans to kippers and gluten free breakfasts started to pour forth from the busy kitchen.
Samael’s eyes passed over the clientele. Some were already adorned in their gothic attire whilst others roamed around in more casual-wear. None, however, realised that in their little happy world of make-believe an ancient creature sat, quietly observing their trite customs and habits.
He grinned to himself. Oh, but if only they knew what he was capable of. He could quite easily stand up and call forth the fires of Hell to consume all within the little cafe and beyond. But, before they’d burn they would witness true magnificence - red eyes blazing, condemning; wings buffeting the flames, keeping them at bay just long enough for them to see him in all his malevolent glory, then - oblivion. And still, somewhere, someone would report that the Hand of God had purified yet another den of sin. He struggled to stem his laughter.
How he loathed these talking monkeys with their pharisaical, deluded and misguided beliefs.
The only exception was the one he liked to consider a demi-god. His son.
It was a turbulent love he felt for him. How he had hoped that the fruit of his loins would have risen up, brought forth an army, a legion tenfold and more of corrupted, twisted, hateful beings. To have converted God’s pride and joy into malignant versions of his little ‘pets’ would have been joyous beyond words. How then would the Almighty have looked upon his Fallen?
Qayin’s senses had honed as the years passed: sources ripe in degradation, cruelty, slavery, debauchery even genocide - and nearly engulfed him. Hunger drove him onward across oceans, continents, over mountains and underground. Samael had hope that the boy would finally open his eyes and see how he had been betrayed.
But, no! His voracious appetite was always tainted by his need to prove devoutness and love for a baneful God. Even his mother, having eaten of the forbidden fruit, had seen Qayin bathed in blood in a dream and tried to warn him. She knew what he would do and how God would cast out her eldest son.
Yet still, Qayin could not see it. Initially, yes, he’d thought his punishment extreme. But, in time he came to believe that he was the right hand, appointed to rout those who had committed a multitude of sins against their fellow brothers. He’d saw it as an opportunity to cleanse himself of the very evil his own hand had committed; murder.
And where had his attempts at cleansing the world of such men and women got him? Did the Almighty smile upon him now? Was he forgiven for wiping out one who had dared to tarnish the very teachings of their Master? No.
Samael grimaced. What had the boy been thinking? The very fact the lamb’s sacrifice had been acceptable, bespoke of God’s lust for blood. Just not that of his little shepherd boy it seemed.
Stubborn to the core, Qayin still believed he could win God’s favour.
But, even without Qayin in their corner, the Fallen were not without resources. They had many success stories over the centuries what with despots, fanatics and all manner of seriously deranged individuals, groups and cults. If left to their own devices they could have wiped each other out centuries ago.
It had been a long laborious job, however, and it continued to be so. Not only had Qayin trudged on in his crusade for salvation, erasing some of those strategically placed by the Fallen to cause chaos, but now all the do-gooders kept interfering also. The Fallen continued to contend with the persistent faithful, but they also had insufferable charities, trusts, missionaries, political correctness brain-washers, not forgetting the tree-huggers, to name but a few.
He dabbed the corners of his mouth, ridding his lips of crumbs from his fourth piece of toast. The proprietor would be glad to see the back of him, he had no doubt. The smallest “sale” ever over the longest period.
She stared at him, her slightly nervous eyes instantly informing him she understood perfectly - breakfast was free of charge. He smirked.
Now it was time to work. Locating his son had not been too difficult this time although it often turned out to be a game of cat and mouse.
Yes, he would visit Qayin - or ‘Cain’ as mankind now referred to him - and inject a few subliminal messages into his restless, guilt-ridden brain.
It was the least a loving father could do.