Hidden By Fog: Walker: Chapter One

Walker: Chapter One

Year: 1661

Location: London, England

 

It is a cool summer morning in the city London. Standing in his bathroom, Dr. Allen Walker finishes getting ready for the day. Taking a moment, after washing his face, he stares in the mirror before him. His hand reaches for his face to trace the bags under his eyes. They’re getting worse. He has been looking increasingly tired these days, ever since the war. Shaking him from his stare, is his dog, Jinx. She has a beautiful coat, being a mix of black and white hair. Her nudging him so usually meant that it was time to go to work.

Dr. Allen heads down the staircase of his home and into the foyer. Putting on his top-hat and leashing Jinx up, they leave the house, locking the door and deadbolt behind them. Dr. Allen hears, as he locks the mahogany door, is one of the paper boys shouting about some sort of hanging and witchery happening in a small town toward Scotland. The shouting is normal but the object of the shouting is strange, especially to a skeptic such as Dr. Allen.

They walk to his office, as they do every morning, at the same time and the same path they always take. The repetitive nature of this has bored Dr. Allen for some time, especially since nothing new ever happens. That is probably why he became a doctor. There is always some new mystery to solve when it concerns medicine. But alas that train of thinking is but a fallacy. It is always a sore throat or a stomach ache that brought people to his clinic. Every one of his patients always thinks they are dying, thus are the times. People are so easily frightened of what they don’t understand, it is almost heartbreaking.

Eventually, however, the crier boy that was screaming about witches runs up to Dr. Allen, “Would you like a paper, sir?”

“Not particularly, no.” Walker replies, with a slight hint of annoyance.

“Please, sir, it is quite thrilling. And if I don’t sell enough I don’t get to eat.”

With a large amount of reluctance in his voice, “Aye, all right, I’ll buy one.”

“Thank you, sir!” The boy shouts excitedly.

Handing the boy a penny and taking the paper, Dr. Allen continues on his way, while reading. While he analyses the paper, he is reminded of his malice toward small towns. The reminder is the head-line, it reads; “Woman of Edzell to be hanged for witchcraft.” His hatred stems from the nature of the townsfolk of these tiny settlements. In his eyes, the entire scenario is bullshit. Their fear has caused some poor woman to lose her life.

In shear refusal to continue reading the paper, he folds it up in a fashion to hide the witch article. He doesn’t want people assuming their doctor is superstitious.

Finally making it to the clinic, Allen notices that the door is already open. It appears that his secretary has already unlocked the office and started the day. It was actually normal, she was always ahead of Allen. Heading inward, Allen removes the leash from Jinx’s collar and lets her run off to her little bed. She really does love to sleep. Closing the door behind him, Mary, his secretary, lifts her head from her paperwork and with her gleeful smile, greets Allen.

“Morning Dr.’ she says.

“Good morning Mary,” Allen replies, “what’s on the schedule for today?”

“Nothing new Dr., Mr. Baker is in with the same cold again.”

“Ah I see, did he not follow my instruction from last time?”

“Apparently not sir, He was saying that the herbs you prescribed were causing a headache.”

“That was one of the side effects, which I did mention to him. Anyway, I’ll see him. Send him in when you’re ready.”

“He’s already in the patient room sir.”

“Ah, thank you Mary, always one step ahead of me, I see,” Allen says with a slight chuckle.

“Of course, sir.”

Donning his apron, Allen heads to the patient room, where Mr. Baker is situated. Mr. Baker was one of his regular clients. He was always in for the same thing, always thought he was dying, typical thinking of those incapable of thinking. That was, of course, only due to the fact that he wouldn’t follow the doctor’s instruction. Dr. Allen enters the room to the familiar sight of Mr. Baker. With his receding gray hair, blue vest, and brass pocket watch, he sat there fumbling with his wedding ring.

“Hello Mr. Baker. What are you in for today?” Allen asks.

“Oh, hello, Dr. Walker.” Mr. Baker replies. He’s got a worried look on his face.

“Call me Allen, please. I see you almost every week. There’s no need to be formal any longer.”

“Oh yes, of course. Anyhow, this is about them herbs you suggested.”

“What about them,” he asks, trying his best to look invested in his plight.

“Well you see, they’ve been giving me a terrible headache for the past few days.”

“Ah. That is perfectly normal. I mentioned them as a possible side effect.”

“Why in the world would you give me herbs that fixes one problem but gives me another,” He retorts, “Are you trying to kill me?”

Knowing very well that if this conversation were to continue, Dr. Allen would lose his cool. He takes a moment to breathe and compose himself. Unconsciously, his habit kicks in. In an extremely rhythmic pattern he taps his fingers on the counter next to him.

Tap…Tap…Tap…Tap Tap Tap Tap…Tap…Tap… over and over.

“Look, Mr. Baker, the medication that I gave you would cure your ‘cold’ and then you would not have to ingest them any longer, thus removing the headache as well.” Allen says, in a low voice that seems to silence the idiotic argument from Mr. Baker.

In the brief silence of the moment Allen begins to prescribe a slightly weaker set of herbs but those without side effects.

“This should help. Quit taking the old medicine and take this one. It might take slightly longer for it to take care of the cold but there won’t be a headache,” He says to Mr. Baker.

“Thank you, Allen. Hopefully I won’t be in next week for the same thing,” Mr. Baker replies with a hearty laugh.

“You’re very welcome, Mr. Baker,” Allen says as he smiles and sends Mr. Baker on his way.

Taking a quick moment to reassert himself, he begins to prepare himself for the rest of the day. This is because he knows the rest of the day will be exactly the same as this last patient. Patient after patient, the day drags on and every patient was the same, as predicted. They all had some minor issue and thought that it might be life threatening because it was outside their norm. All those people and every single one of them were so scared of what was different. All the while, Allen was begging for something new to come along.

After the day had finally come to a close and Mary had sent the final patient on their way, after receiving payment, Allen took a moment to sit in his office and relax. Knocking on the frame of the open office door, Mary entered the room with her raincoat and hat on. She seems to be fascinated with how Allen could keep going after such days.

“I’m heading out, Dr.” she says, the wear of a long day showing on her face.

“All right, Mary,” he replies, “I shall see you tomorrow.”

“By the way sir, I meant to ask earlier, but did you hear about Edzell?”

Allen had a general distaste for superstitious paranoia, and Mary knew this. She always came to him when she needed to ease her own thoughts on such things. Allen, in fact, had a natural talent for dismissing her worries over the supernatural with his lack of belief in things of that nature.

“Aye, I did,” he replies.

“What do you make of it?”

“I find it an abomination that such a thing occurred. I mean, to kill a woman because you don’t understand something is completely ludicrous.”

“I agree sir. Anyway, I should be heading home. Goodnight Dr.”

Goodnight Mary.”

Waiting for a moment to hear the door close behind her as she left, Allen rested his head on the back of his office chair. The sounds of rain pattering against the window start to lull him. It is the sound of Jinx’s steading breathing as she sleeps and the simple silence of the room combined with the rain that finally puts him to sleep.

II

Year: 1650

Location: Somewhere in the English Countryside

Allen dashes through the fields towards a town on the horizon with Capt. John Jones sprinting just as fast next to him. They can hear hoof beats behind them. There must be about ten of them behind them. There’s no chance of them outrunning the beasts.

Allen notices a shack to the left of them as they run. He points to it indicating they should try to hide there to let the riders pass. With a sharp turn both Allen and Capt. John duck into the ruined hovel.

“Damn Parliamentarians,” John curses, “never could leave any survivors, could they?”

“I don’t disagree,” Allen replies, “but we need to keep quiet and keep our heads down.”

“Aye”

The sit beneath the rugged roof of the small shack and wait. Soon enough the group of horsemen come through, dressed in full plate. They ride their warhorses hard past the house.

Allen peeks out one of the windows of the hovel and watches the riders on galloping away. With a slight sigh of relief, Allen gestures to John that it was ok to move out. John stands up, his heavy plate mail clanging as he does, and slowly steps out the door of their temporary hiding spot. A thunderous crack ravages the air around them.

“J.J. get down,” Allen yells.

Before Capt. John could register Allen’s words, an bullet rips between his cuirass and pauldron. John falls to the ground with a heavy thud. Allen swiftly ducks behind the wall from where the shot came from.

“Capt.,” Allen whispers, “Capt. are you still alive?”

The only response he gets is the slight groan of pain from felled Capt. John. Slightly looking over the window seal, Allen can see a lone figure standing about a hundred feet away.

“Uriel,” the figure shouts, “Oh, Uriel!”

–K. E. Oskold

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