Tides of Sorrow

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4.4 - MAW OF HELL

Walking purposefully across the moors, Cain made his way to the town. The memories of centuries ago floated away on the cool breeze as he moved, his focus now on the woman who was somewhere amid the streets of Whitby.

Down onto the A171, he cut along fields, close to the River Esk, avoiding detection. It took him no longer to reach town on foot than it took anyone else by car; even in daylight, he could move swiftly and easily. He resumed a leisurely stride, however, as he entered more densely populated areas.

The day was pleasant although cool and the expected goth army were making their presence known. He milled his way through the pedestrians, sometimes brushing shoulders and offering polite apologies. The atmosphere was light, filled with gaiety and anticipation of the days’ events.

For all the weekend provided the perfect opportunity to blend into modern society, his existence was still viewed as complete fantasy. The days of superstitions and fears of the night realm were long gone. He was not looked upon as an abomination of nature, or God, for that matter any more. If he was considered anything it was just weird. Still, not so in Whitby and certainly not during this weekend.

A little of last eve’s dinner had marked his jacket, but nothing too gratuitous or suspect looking really. He subconsciously rubbed his hand over the stain.

Then it hit him. Her scent. The suddenness of it made him reel. He steadied himself against the railings, attempting to look as if he were merely enjoying the view across the harbour. His fingers clasped the iron rail, knuckles whitening, his long nails grazing the heels of his palms.

Gritting his teeth he looked askance through his curtain of hair. The aroma was growing weaker, she was on the move. Pushing himself away from the railings he headed along the front, eyes scanning the way ahead. A flash of yellow caught his attention.

He watched as an open-topped bus started its climb up a steep hill. He inhaled. Without mistake, she had boarded the bus. Up ahead he noticed a sign about the tour and quickly he checked its route.

He looked over his shoulder across the bay. There, overlooking the town was the Abbey, the magnificent ruin standing in silent vigil. Somehow he just knew that was where she would disembark.

He turned back to head to the swing bridge when something else invaded his senses. A toxin which he had sensed down through the ages was nearby once more. It was somehow related to the presence he had felt on the moors though he knew not how. It too was fading but not as rapidly as the melancholy, so he took a moment and scanned the area. He looked at the bandstand, his eyes scrutinising the people.

If he was not mistaken, it had lingered there for a while. Its properties were not unlike a contagion, capable of infecting the least suspecting or perhaps heightening an already poisonous element. It was growing distant though and so he let it go and started heading to the Abbey.

The town was abuzz once more with the festival. Music carried on the air from various venues, people whether costumed or not mingled and enjoyed the atmosphere. He weaved his way through the throng and once at the bottom of the 199 steps, he climbed them quickly enough without drawing on his preternatural swiftness.

As with the night before, he attracted a few stares and salutations. He nodded politely but otherwise dismissed the attention. His focus was at the top of the climb.

Groups stood in front of the Abbey, posing for pictures, most of which had donned the customary finery associated with the weekend. Their fascination with the macabre and all things dark and gothic never failed to intrigue Cain. There were plenty of real monsters in the world who did not dress up. They left the make-believe ones deep in the realms of fantasy.

From ancient empires, dynasties and kingdoms Cain had routed some of the most heinous individuals over time be they emperors, kings or their subjects. With the fall of such lofty sovereignties, despots and fanatics continued on to build their own seats of power often laying claim to smaller countries, realms and states, but they nonetheless were as ruthless as their legendary predecessors. Greed and lust for power was a destructive force indeed and it made Man commit unspeakable crimes. Hate and prejudice also walked hand in hand with those defects.

Although his own crime was one he could never forgive himself for, nor rid his soul of guilt, there was no denying that some of the horrors humans inflicted on each other were truly evil. It was an arduous task God had set him, endless indeed. It did sometimes make him question why God still loved the human race. He would chastise himself for pondering such things feeling it was not his place to probe the reasoning nor supremacy of his Lord, God and Master.

Could he be blamed for mulling over such things though? He had walked this planet for millennia, mostly cold and alone, serving a bizarre form of justice in the name of the Almighty. And each time, was not the kiss of death plunging him deeper into the unyielding maw of Hell? Was there no end? No redemption? No hope?

His brooding was interrupted by the sound of an engine approaching. Looking up, the yellow tour bus neared the stop outside the main entrance to the grounds.

He stole his way over to the Abbey and waited.

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