I do not own Francis Abberline, Lawrence Talbot, Gwen Conliffe, or Sir John Talbot. All other characters are OC. Short chapters-short story, but I wanted to continue Abberline's story. Feel free to review.
He was destined for hell now. The gaping wound on the nape of his neck spurted out blood which he attempted and failed to stem with his already completely soaked handkerchief. He winced, applying pressure to the tooth-shaped punctures. The fire crackling in the grate was near torture at this point. The sweat build up on his forehead drenched his hair in a foul smelling odor.
Damn you, Talbot. Damn you and all your family.
At that moment, his men supported Gwen Conliffe inside the cottage, having calmed and debriefed her outside. They escorted her into a moth-eaten armchair. Abberline saw the pale face, the bloodshot eyes, and the small scratches on her delicate skin from the night's events. She avoided his eye, which was understandable, but that didn't' prevent him from being extraordinarily angry with her. After all, she had prevented him from taking the shot and if she hadn't, Talbot would have died instantly and he, Abberline, wouldn't be at the mercy of the moon.
"You've spoken to my men," Abberline concluded. Still looking down, Gwen nodded, wringing her hands.
"Miss Conliffe, you are the reason that I was bitten by your friend, the werewolf, the least you can do is grant me the courtesy of making eye contact with me. I promise that, unlike Lawrence Talbot, I will not bite you."
Gwen shifted her gaze fearfully to his eyes, gulping.
"I need to know personally if there is any way of reversing this. Is there any hope of me returning to who I was before?" He expected her to shake her head, but he had decided it was worth asking anyway. "In that case, is a silver bullet sufficient to put an end to it?"
"The bullet has to be delivered by someone who cares unconditionally for you; otherwise you will only be wounded in the process of the shooting."
"And you learned this from the gypsy woman, did you?" scoffed Abberline. "Yes, that would be the dramatic way of doing it, but I'm confident that my shot towards Talbot would have put him out of his misery, despite my place in caring nothing for him. What if I were to put the bullet in my own mouth?"
"She said nothing of suicide-"
"This is not suicide, this is mercy! I will not allow myself to kill further innocent lives like the Talbots because of my own selfish means. If I must, I'll put a silver bullet in my brain. Do you have an objection to that?"
Gwen recoiled with a small voice, "Mr. Abberline, you're scaring me."
Abberline hadn't noticed how much closer he had come to her, how his fists were bawled, and how furious he felt. He sank back down onto the cot, groaning. Already, in less than five hours, he was feeling the effect of the wolf.
"Forgive me, Miss Conliffe. It would seem that the presence of the wolf makes me a perpetually angry individual."
When she rushed to him, grasping his blood-stained hands firmly, he had to admit that Gwen had more courage than any woman of any age that he had ever known. There were fresh tears running down the apple of her cheeks when she spoke. "I can't express how sorry I am Mr. Abberline. If there were anything that I could do to help you, I would do it."
Slightly embarrassed, Abberline shook his head, growling when he felt the wound. "A kind offer, but I don't wish you to have to deal with any more of this matter. My men shall escort you back to London in the morning where I trust you will stay and not come back to this place. I want your word."
"Your word, Miss Conliffe," he said a little louder.
There came a knock on the door and Jeremiah Romley and Nathaniel Pennington entered, looking far more solemn than Abberline believed to be necessary. He knew what was coming and allowed his men to secure him down to the cot by ropes. Romley readied a hot knife in the fire while Pennington offered Abberline a broad wooden stick to bite down on, but Abberline refused.
"Sire, you'll bite your tongue in half," Pennington protested.
"If I'm lucky, that's the only thing I'll bite," said Abberline through clenched teeth. Remind me again why you can't just shoot me instead of going through all this nonsense of closing up the wound."
"Well," said Romley, turning the knife over in the fire, "given that you, the commanding officer, are-shall we say-incapacitated, you are no longer in a state to give orders concerning intentions to deliberately harm yourself. We'll have to wait for other authorization before we can act."
"And we just couldn't bring it upon ourselves to shoot you, sir," added Pennington.
"Valiant of you," said Abberline sardonically. "Get on with it then."
Pennington added to the ropes on the cot by holding Abberline down tightly on his shoulders. Abberline turned his head sideways to allow access to the wound when he spotted Gwen still in her seat, watching in horror.
"Oi, hold up!" he cried. "Miss Conliffe, what are you still doing in here? Kindly step outside-this is not for a woman's eyes."
Gratefully, Gwen excused herself and Abberline braced himself for the pain to come. Romley held the white hot blade above him with the promise, "I'll be quick as I can, sir," before plunging in to it.
The blade met the exposed flesh, sending up smoke clouds. Abberline dug his fingernails into the cot's wooden frame, arching upward in agony. His vocal chords felt like they were longing to rip out of his throat. His body begged for an end to the pain that would never come. A single shot would have been nothing compared to this. Then, not nearly soon enough, the knife clattered to the floor and Romley shook him roughly.
"Sir, it's finished now, it's over."
Choking back tears, Abberline dropped his head back onto the cot. Pennington slapped his cheek ever so slightly. "Are you still with us, sir?" he asked concernedly.
Abberline nodded with the comment," You should have shot me." Overwhelmed by exhaustion and a now dulling pain, he closed his eyelids and slipped into one last peaceful realm of darkness.
The following morning he awoke feeling insultingly refreshed. The weather mocked him as the sky let a temporary sun shine down on him upon his exit from the cottage. He saw that four of his men had gone, taking Gwen with them, which left only Romley and Pennington. He knew that he'd have to wait for his other five men to return from the village with news on if he was allowed to enter amidst the people or if he had to be escorted to a hospital for the mentally disturbed and dangerous. He had sent his men out the night before which meant that they should be returning soon. During the wait he decided to shave off his ginger beard and moustache using Romley's blade and a mud puddle's watery reflection as his mirror. If he was honest with himself, he had always been rather fond of his facial hair up until he was introduced to the concept of being a werewolf. The very thought of hair on his face made him shudder.
For what might have been four or five hours he waited, sitting on a damp patch of grass while Romley and Pennington played cards behind him. Finally, the sound of hooves splashing through the muddy path reached Abberline's ears. He stood up, brushing off his trousers.
"Someone's coming up the road," he announced.
Pennington looked at him quizzically. "I don't hear anything, sir."
"Give it a moment and I think we'll hear it," said Romley. Sure enough, as the sound became unnaturally louder in Abberline's ears, Romley and Pennington stood up with him, reaching for their pistols.
"There's three of them," Abberline concluded. His guess proved correct when three mounted riders came galloping up the path from the south. At first, Abberline thought that it was some of his men returning, but a closer look told him that these men were strangers, save for the head rider. He recognized the deceitfully young features of a colleague and competitor of his, Kenneth Harlem.
Harlem was typically more liked by his and Abberline's peers, though he never boasted about it. In fact, Harlem had never gloated about anything that put him at a higher rank than Abberline, but that didn't stop him from having an ill attitude towards the fellow inspector on most occasions.
Now he slowed his house to a stop, spraying muck all over Abberline's shoes. His face was expressionless, though his voice seemed rather amused when he greeted, "Had a run in with the village idiot, did we Inspector Abberline? Or perhaps better known as the werewolf?"
"Where are my men?" Abberline asked.
"On their way back to London, I should hope," answered Harlem. "They explained your situation to me when I arrived in the village early this morning and I sent them home."
"You had no right to order my men away when I might have need of them Harlem. And on whose authority are you here in the first place?"
"Our peers," answered Harlem simply. "I was sent to assist you in the capture of one Lawrence Talbot, but it seems that I arrived too late, for the word is that he was dispatched, but not before giving you an affectionate nibble, am I correct?"
"Spare me the insults Harlem," snapped Abberline. "Who are these men with you?"
"Orson MacDonald and Clark Bishop," said Harlem, motioning to each man in turn. "They work with me."
Abberline nodded curtly at the two men who were eyeing him apprehensively. Annoyed, he assured them, "I have a month before you need to be afraid of me, so you can act like men and not insult me with those looks on your faces."
"We're rather uneasy about the task ahead, inspector," said Bishop.
"What task?" Abberline asked Harlem.
"Given your current situation, you need to be examined and taken care of by specialists. You haven't harmed anyone yet and therefore, I see no reason to have you chained up like the wild animal you'll eventually evolve into at the full moon. I kindly ask you to accompany us back to London."
"I kindly decline. Tests were already run on Talbot; there is nothing more to discover. Just lend me a silver bullet and a revolver and I'll save us all a trip."
"I'm afraid I can't do that."
"You're proving to be nothing but a nuisance," Abberline growled.
Harlem dismounted his horse to be on an even level with Abberline. "And you, Frederick Abberline, are being ordered to mount your horse and allow me and my men to escort you back to London for the verdict on your fate."
"He prefers Francis Abberline," Pennington corrected quietly.
"I don't look forward to being used as a science experiment Harlem. I wish to end my life before any harm can be done. Let me end my life for God's sake!"
"I am none too thrilled to be the bearer of bad tidings, but my orders are clear Abberline. You have served Scotland Yard well and they will only wish to provide you with a cure if such a thing exists. I cannot allow you to throw your life away so foolishly."
"Why would you give a damn about me?"
"You'll find that while I may not be an agreeable individual, I am sympathetic. I pity you inspector, and therefore, I shall ask you one last time to come with me before I must force you."
Abberline was more than willing to fight his way out of the situation, but he had more sense than that and decided to give in. He'd just have to wait and see what was in store for him.