A Race Against Time – Episode 12


Elswita woke at the crack of dawn, dressed, and shut the front door behind her. The street where she lived was close to the university, but there was no-one about. She desperately needed to find George before her lectures started.

When Elswita reached George’s quarters he wasn’t there.

“He left about fifteen minutes ago,” the porter said.

“Do you know where he went?”

“I’ve no idea, lassie,” he said. “I don’t ask ’em their business.”

It was too early for lectures, so Elswita assumed George had gone for a morning run. She decided to sit and wait.

“You can’t wait here, lass. Them’s men’s quarters. You can wait outside if you like.”

Elswita didn’t have long to wait. When she spotted George striding towards his home at breakneck speed she stood up from the bench.

“George,” Elswita blurted out. “Did you know Edward is next in line to Christian?”

“Good Lord!” George said. “No, I didn’t know that. That makes matters rather worse.”

“Worse?”

“I’ve just found out that Edward’s father has been released from prison and is in Edinburgh. He found out from Edward exactly where Christian is. Now I am worried. Very worried indeed.”

Elswita heart pounded at the news. George took her by the hand. She didn’t need to ask where they were running to.

* * * *

Christian awoke early because he was feeling terribly excited. Hopefully he’d be released that morning, back to the comfort of his rooms at university, but he knew the nurse wouldn’t let him up until the doctor officially released him.

The only irritation was that his shoulder was stiff and pretty useless and his arm was strapped to his chest. The doctor had told him that for a week or so he should keep the arm elevated to prevent movement to his shoulder, until the wound healed internally.

When the door was pushed open Christian cheered up even more. Nurse Lilly was early, he thought. But it wasn’t Nurse Lilly. It was a man. Christian frowned.

“Surely you recognise your dear old uncle,” the man said.

He slunk into the room. Christian sat up as best he could, leaning on the elbow of his good arm.

“Don’t you recognise me, lad?”

“Uncle Horace . . .? But I thought you were in prison.”

Edward’s father stepped further into the room. His blond hair had been dyed black and he sported a full moustache, also dyed. But his eyes and the curl of his lips were the same.

“Thankfully, they let me out, Christian. I was the model prisoner. I dug holes. I lifted bricks. I worked my fingers to the bone. My dear boy, I was exhausted, but I never gave those brutes a moment’s trouble.

“Can’t you see how thin I have become? Can’t you see the lines on my face? The outside air turned me black as your dear and rather beautiful friend, Elswita.”

“Have you hurt her?”

“It’s not her I’m after.”

“Was it you who shot me?”

“I admit, my shooting skills are pretty rusty,” he said. “Otherwise we wouldn’t be speaking now.”

Uncle Horace was as charming as ever – just like Edward. He smiled; his eyes shone. If you didn’t know what he was capable of, you would trust the man with your life.

“I suppose,” Christian said, “you have come to finish the job.”

“Why, Christian, how on earth did you guess?”

“But why would you want to hurt me? Is it because Edward will inherit . . .?”

“Money means nothing to me now. If I was in your father’s position I would bypass Edward and give his fortune to a worthy and more distant cousin. I mean, Edward? That little weakling? I’m ashamed to call him my son.” He chuckled.

Christian didn’t want to die, but whatever his destiny he wanted to know why this man was so intent on sending him into the afterlife.

“What have I ever done to you?” he asked.

“It was you who informed your father of the theft of the jewels. You were watching me, weren’t you? I saw your scrawny little legs as you ran off. I couldn’t get to you in the nursery with your fat nanny’s beady eye. You might have been able to slip past her, but a grown man couldn’t.”

Alan Spink

Alan is a member of the “Friend” Fiction Team. He enjoys working closely with writers and being part of the creative process which sees storytelling ideas come to fruition. A keen reader, he also writes fiction and enjoys watching football and movies in his spare time. His one aspiring tip to new writers is to “write from your imagination”.