Alone in a different basement, Peregrine Falcon aka The Contrarian aka The Rainmaker lay on the floor in the dank dampness beneath St Patrick’s Cathedral. At least, he presumed it was St Patrick’s Cathedral, the journey in the back of the ‘official’ van had not been long enough to go anywhere else.
At St Bart’s the men had made their way to the fallen libertine, as he watched the outline of the Mason and Carey shimmer into non-existence, and as the duirwaigh faded from view, he had resigned himself to a quick and sudden death. That was the plan had the group had passed at midnight tomorrow night. But plans have a way of changing, and his had changed greatly, with no effort on his behalf. As the man stood over him, Peregrine had looked up, from his prone view, and grinned, the million watt grin that could cause a lady’s knees to loosen and to slip off her wedding ring, the look that could make the hardest gambler doubt his own hand.
It had no effect on the man standing above him. A quick jab from the butt of the gun, and Peregrine was mostly senseless. He had then been thrown unceremoniously into the back of an official car, landing on something soft. It also felt human. Donovan, perhaps. Players like Donovan never faded completely.
A short, jolting trip, and he was roughly hauled from his resting place. A trip, downstairs, judging from the bumps encountered by his head, and then thrown into this hell hole. It smelled of old books and despair.
And here he lay, as a choir somewhere above him practised the Easter Cantata. Peregrine put a hand gingerly to his face. He thought his nose had been broken, and perhaps an eye socket fractured, but right now he felt little: just an aching in the head like a jack hammer trying to excavate his temples and his occipital bun.
Wounded in the dark and waiting for the final axe to fall, Peregrine began to count his blessings, and give thanks.
He gave thanks that the group had passed, for better or worse, away from here. The passing tomorrow night would have been fraught with dangers from here, from those with knives and guns and a desperation to hide from the very truth. He gave thanks for the ladies he had known, who had comforted him (with no little comfort in return), for the sheer, sweaty smelly resilience of people, here and, hopefully, there. He gave thanks for the dead who were clustering around him imperceptively, waiting for final release, waiting to find their end. Notes’ Papp’s was there. Perhaps Manco too.
Tears burned the lacerations on his face as lay on the cold stone floor in the dark and summoned the only face that had given him absolute comfort for two hundred years; the sacrificial lamb to this ungodly slaughter. Emanuette. For her dark shining eyes and her dark hair, and her face that only he truly knew. He gave thanks for the centuries of companionship, of fruitless ambition, of the times that they had tried – and failed – for this particular passing. He gave thanks that he did not know what had happened after the transition, because it would destroy him to know they hadn’t reached the other side safely.
Mostly, he gave thanks for hope.
A dim light in an alcove suddenly indicated he was no longer alone. A bright light was shone from afar directly into his eyes. He squinted against it.
“They said not to kill him,” a young, guttural voice, “Looks like Smith nearly did the job.”
“Yo boy can you hear me? You’re going to be sore for a while!”
Peregrine grinned into the bright light. Stars were popping in his vision. He suddenly realised a couple of his teeth were loose, and another couple missing. He had the perfect response. It was all or nothing. And at one time or another, it was probably true.
Excerpt from Estrangement.