Saturday, November 11, 2006

The Secret Order of Doom: Part Eight

Inspector Bradfield Bullock was, as well as being cursed with a silly name, known to his colleagues as 'the Ock', on the basis that there was no way he could be called 'the Bull' as Dan Brown got there first. Inspector with the King's Lynn Police, he was considered a high-flyer by many in the force, excepting the man who had heard his opinion on the murder in Litcham. He knew the chief superintendent, and was stepping out with the man's daughter. In fact, everything said he was facing a great future.

So, when one of his sources called his private 'phone and arranged a meeting at the great town church of St. Margaret's regarding a massive drugs shipment, he mentally carved another notch on his chart. Taking a sergeant with him, the inspector hurried to the great twin-towered church (there was a tall tower of the crossing, but that fell down a long time ago), anxious to know the information that might project him to the post of chief inspector.

The unmarked car pulled up outside St. Margaret's with a speed and recklessness that indicated the driver had watched too many American cop dramas. The stallholders in the market close by shook their heads and murmured dark things about the Police that need not be repeated here, as they are not relevant.

Inspector Bullock hurried in through the West doors, into an almost cathedral-like space (indeed, a space that is far more cathedral-like than the same space at Llandaff cathedral). he almost ran down the great nave. This being England, there were neither priests nor monks to tell him this was impolite, although some old ladies did disapprove loudly enough to be heard. Not that Bullock noticed, for he was not that sort of man.

He told the Sergeant to watch the doors, and hurried on alone, anxious to keep his appointment. Passing the nave altar, and thus allowing the author to demonstrate his knowledge of church architecture, the inspector made his way into the towering and mighty quire, where medieval stalls remained in place. His colleague lurked in an aise, looking around him like a tourist. Indeed, he even went to the quite unnatural length of picking up a guideook, when he realised the comparative absence of interesting memorials in the aisle in which he had chosen to lurk. After reading some of the guidebook, he looked up at the wooden roof and pretended to find that too fascinating for words.

"The architecture's wonderful, isn't it?"

A female voice shocked him out of his pretended tourism. When the sergeant looked at its source, he saw a pretty blonde in a green suit that fitted her trim curves like a glove. She was smiling, and also carried a guidebook.

"Yes," the Sergeant smiled, while admiring her architecture.

"I think the arches are Norman," Ms. Madison (for it was she) smiled sweetly. "You can tell by the curves on them." She was deliberately tacky in her approach, believing the man to be the sort who dream about being the sort of policemen in films, who have beautiful girls throwing themselves at them all the time. "Do you admire their lines?" (After all, she reckoned, he could hardly admire her lines - the spoken ones at least.)

"G...gug," the man said, as Ms. Madison moved towards him, smiling seductively. He had meant to say something smart and James Bond-esque, but his tongue had developed a temporary paralysis.

"Quite," Ms. Madison chuckled.

Meanwhile, the Inspector had entered the quire, and was looking for his source. But he saw no-one, not even a tourist. Only a piece of paper, stuck on one of the choir stalls. Hurring over, he reached for it.

Then he saw it. Carved on the choir stall. A face looking out at him from between luxuriant foliage. Foliage that was proceeding from its mouth. Although not a native of Norfolk, he knew exactly what that was a carving of.

Suddenly, the great church seemed very cold and empty. The Inspector was aware of a presence, very close at hand.

"Hello, Inspector Bullock," said the Green Man.

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