Whitechapel, London, 1881
Hell was not a fiery place for Jericho McKinnon. For Jericho, Hell was life, and life was a dank, squalid tomb, shared with an array of virulent vermin. Jericho was the star attraction of Gabb’s Oddities and Monstrosities, billed as the latter by its owner, Everett Gabb.
Jericho was kept deep within the bowels of a building, bloated with decay and waterlogged with London’s stinking runoff. In the catacombs of subterranean rooms that had once housed a thriving butcher trade, there now dwelled Gabb’s collection.
They were mostly of the human variety, though he also boasted a paltry menagerie of melancholic, malnourished beasts. Jericho was kept close to the latter, which he preferred, as beasts did not treat him any different to their handlers. It was in this indifference he found solace, serenity even, when he roamed the area in dire need of something tangible to boost his spirits. The more docile of the animals would accept hunks of meat and slivers of fruit from his outstretched hand, while he marvelled at the majesty of their design, at the radiance of their amber and ochre eyes.
He wondered at where they had originated from, somewhere there would, conceivably, be humans residing in these far-flung provinces that would accept him as an equal. People that would never shriek and faint at the mere sight of him. He knew that he would never be allowed the opportunity to explore the earth. Leaving the building, even for a brief period of time, was prohibited. This had been rigidly enforced since Jericho had last attempted to escape. Despite knowing this, Jericho had often implored his owner for the greatest mercy of the smallest leave of absence. A few hours, an afternoon at most, enough to visit a library, to attend a play or recital, to live that which he had only done vicariously through the recounts of worldly others and his own vivid (though empirically limited) imagination. Gabb invariably responded in his customary manner – beating Jericho into unconsciousness.
Jericho always awoke to find the family of dwarfs, the Olitz family, tending to his wounds with what paltry provisions they possessed. He adored all nine of them. The children would return from abroad with embellished stories of their escapades, sometimes with sweets, knowing Jericho was partial to toffee and peanut brittle.
The Olitz children never shied away from his appearance, though he could perceive from the sporadic wrinkling of their tiny noses that they were sometimes offended by the miasma his body produced. He tried to bathe as often as possible to combat the stench his untreated condition seemed to perpetuate. Though Gabb seldom saw fit to facilitate this request, given he felt a rank odour better suited the wretched abomination of a creature he sold Jericho to the general public as.
The nightly show played out with precious little deviation from the evening previous.
Gabb would begin with his standard disclaimer.
‘Those among you with weak sensibilities, or of the female sex, I must implore you to reconsider this, to turn away now and leave. There would be no shame. Though I find it pertinent to make mention now that no refunds will be offered whatsoever.’
Ever the incorrigible miser, Gabb would pause then, eyes sweeping the onlookers, hunting for someone who looked like they might strongly object to such a divulgence. When none were found, Gabb would resume.
‘God’s whim is oftentimes a capricious trait of his omnipotence, and it does irrevocable ill for select individuals to glimpse upon what he can create when his benevolence becomes malevolence.’
Gabb would let this sink in, waiting for the moment a complainant emerged. Always a young fellow endowed with the unflappable temerity of youth, his sweetheart at his side, shielding her face into the crook of his neck. Gabb would at that very moment spring to action with the usual theatrical flourish he prided himself on, sliding away the screen covering Jericho.
The act would reveal Jericho’s form, albeit covered in a simple shift not dissimilar to a monk’s. Even before he disrobed the sight of Jericho’s covered body was easily sufficient to send most people reeling. Some would fall over one another in their haste to get out, usually there were a couple of fainters, and funnily enough they often were the self-same ringleaders of the pack. They the most vocal and vulgar of men, who stood at the front of the cowering crowd, would tumble backwards as if felled by a blow, suddenly relying on their sweetheart’s ministrations to save them from dashing their heads on the filth-covered floor. Gabb would seize the opportunity to make another revenue stream through offering smelling salts for the unconscious (at exorbitant prices of course).
With salts procured and audience members revived, Gabb would proceed. Twirling his cane that he used as a pointer, his features florid from the flask he liberally nipped from, he would prod Jericho with the delivery of every order. If Jericho failed to comply within the time Gabb deemed reasonable, he would whack him. Always on the jutting dome of Jericho’s forehead, and always with enough force to ensure Jericho nearly blacked out with pain.
Jericho would strip.
His hunched posture caused by a grievously twisted spine prohibited swift and sure movement, but he had perfected the technique of removing the shift with minimal ire and interference from Gabb. There he would stand, clad only in a simple canvas strip fashioned in the likeness of a loincloth to cover his modesty. Jericho would turn when told, raise his arms to their extremities, swivelling around and tottering in his unsure, spastic gait.
Thankfully, they were mostly interested in the growths on his back, the mountainous range of cartilage and protruding bone. Eventually, the mob’s morbid thirsts for examining Jericho’s body up close were slaked and they would depart, the last of their chuckles hanging thick in the stifling air along with the acrid cigar and pipe smoke.
Jericho would be wordlessly dismissed then, he would usually return to his cell, exhausted with the sheer effort of standing solemn and attentive to the demands of Gabb and the heckling of the drunken spectators. He would try his best to take his mind elsewhere in place of his body, to cleanse his mind of all.
In his random searchings of the maze of rooms, Jericho had discovered a wealth of old Dickens serials, evidently left by the previous owner of the building, many of them crumpled to near ruin. But some of the volumes had survived the neglect, and had remained largely intact. So much so that Jericho could read the entire novels in the serialised forms, his mind prevailing when there were pages lacking. The bankrupt butcher who had formerly owned the site in his more prosperous of years might not have been literate, but he was unwittingly an avid collector of the work of Dickens and for that, Jericho was eternally grateful. Often reading A Tale Of Two Cities or A Christmas Carol was sufficient to rid Jericho of the enduring humiliation felt by each night’s performance, extracting from his mind the barbs of the crowd’s words as removing nettles from one’s hide. It was in these stories that Jericho felt he could connect with humanity. He could easily envision himself as one of the characters, be they a dashing, debonair young gentlemen or a rosy-cheeked, cherub-faced orphan. To be handsome would be grand, but to simple being as anyone else, indistinguishable in form, unremarkable in features, would be the grandest of all.
This evening had been an unmitigated nightmare.
The crowd had insisted on a prolonged, closer inspection, demanding that they touch the abomination and forcing their petrified sweethearts to do the same. One woman had latched herself onto Jericho, demanding a kiss until Gabb had reluctantly intervened, much to the chagrin of the onlookers.
Jericho endured the trauma with his customary veneer, outwardly indifferent, mute save for his haggard, hard-drawn breath. Gabb was exultant in his role, each of his arms draped around some cackling wench, likely plucked from the unsavoury establishments he frequented. Jericho prayed that, once the show was over, Gabb would stumble off into his own palatial quarters located somewhere above ground, and sleep the sleep of the newborns and the dead.
Once the group were satisfied with pawing at Jericho’s flesh and guffawing at his flinching, Gabb had departed, herding the rambunctious group with him. Jericho listened to their voices recede all the way down the corridor, the thumping of their feet fading as they mounted the rickety staircases leading to the ground level. When Jericho was sure he was on his lonesome, he turned from the grime-covered wall, struggling with retrieving his one item of clothing.
‘Here,’ a voice interrupted. ‘Allow me.’
Jericho immediately ceased and retreated back to the wall, keeping his gaze locked unwaveringly at its pock-marked surface. He could not believe he had been unaware of another’s presence in the room. He kept vigilant about such things, knowing that there lurked a sadistic few within any tour that would prefer to torment him privately without the supervision of Gabb. Gabb, for all intents and purposes, was Jericho’s minder. Despite his questionable treatment of him, Jericho knew full well that Gabb would not allow him to be subjected to anything too excessive be that corporeally of mentally (after all, it was Gabb he had to thank for implementing the total ban of mirrors in the vicinity). Whereas others that had no vested interest in Jericho’s welfare had no such concerns.
‘I’m so sorry,’ the same voice apologised. ‘I did not mean to startle you. Please forgive me.’
The figure did not descend on Jericho, did not lash out in frustration, or pummel him with malevolent zeal. Jericho was perplexed by the other’s inertia. He glimpsed from his peripheral a figure standing motionless and unsure.
‘May I?’ The figure, a male, stepped forward with slow, deliberate steps.
The man stopped short of Jericho, and with great care, plucked Jericho’s shift from the floor and draped it about his shoulders. Appreciating that the stranger was at least sparing him his nakedness, Jericho curled his arms around himself as best he could, holding the rough-spun garment in place. Jericho’s gaze swept over the young man standing before him.
He was well-dressed, conservative and clean. Dissimilar to the predominate type that comprised the tours, those with a penchant for the flamboyant dress of the obnoxiously wealthy or those with the threadbare, soot-stained rags of the poorhouse. With kindly features and eyes of almost wistful intelligence, enclosed behind a shiny pair of spectacles, the man’s hand seemed to rest constantly at the bridge of his chin, where a close-cropped beard was kept for stroking in pensiveness.
His features and dress, though pleasant to the eye, were unremarkable to the mind. What made the greatest impression upon Jericho was the way in which the man looked at him.
‘Forgive me,’ the young man inclined his head accompanied with an apologetic, self-deprecating smile. ‘I’m Cyril McFadden, Doctor Cyril McFadden that is, to be sure.’ He cleared his throat as if the excitement was physically lodged at its base, preventing him from introducing himself. ‘A house surgeon at London Central Hospital, across the road in fact. Have you heard of it?’
Jericho tried to control his breathing, tried to command his voice, producing a clear, sentence capable of being understood.
‘No,’ was all he managed.
‘It is a marvellous institution of modern medical science,’ McFadden explained. ‘Preeminent in the research of, and treatment of…’ He fretted with his hands, trying to conjure the right word from the ether. ‘Unusual conditions. Your existence was brought to my notice by Lady Walsham,’ at her mention, McFadden briefly ceased and nodded to the door. ‘It would be remiss of me not to carry out the proper introductions. Would you mind meeting her? She has expressed a great desire to meet you.’
The thought of meeting a woman always filled Jericho with a dread most devastating, based upon the incontestable precedence of woman shrieking and fainting at the mere sight of him. The hardened prostitutes and the like of Whitechapel could be unbelievably cruel to him, particularly when emboldened with liquor, and he had no wish to endure such another encounter. He failed to compose any reply whatsoever, and McFadden wrongly interpreted that to mean consent to the request.
‘Odelia,’ he called out, his voice reverberating out into the corridor, summoning someone while Jericho frantically tried to summon the courage to face them. ‘Mr McKinnon is ready for you.’
With the trepidation of the polite, not that of the frightened, in stepped a young woman, head upright, expression set and sure. A lady who was seasoned in all manner of social settings, handling herself with the effortless grace and poise only afforded the beautifully wholesome.
Jericho’s first thought was that of scorn at himself for failing to put his shift back on at his earliest opportunity, for now, he stood huddled, much of his bizarre design still exposed to her surveying, scrupulous eye. Instead of shrinking away and removing herself from Jericho’s presence, she smiled at him.
She was fair-skinned, the whiteness of her flesh almost iridescent against the grim hues of the room. Regal-featured and hauntingly beautiful, it was her smile that Jericho fixated upon, through its sheer innocence and warmth he found himself unravelling, his composure disintegrating.
‘Lady Odelia Walsham,’ McFadden introduced, tipping a hand to her and sweeping it back to the stupefied Jericho. ‘Allow me to introduce Mr Jericho McKinnon.’
‘Charmed.’ Walsham gave a short curtsy, and strode forward, any awkwardness had evaporated, she addressed Jericho as an equal, appraised him as she would any other man. ‘Pleasure to meet you, sir, belated I fear, but belated is better than never at all in my opinion.’
She extended a hand to Jericho, steady, bereft of the slightest quiver, as if he were a handsome gentlemen and they were meeting somewhere highly-regarded, glamorous even. Jericho wept then, could retain his resolve no longer.
‘Now, now, I didn’t mean to upset you.’ Lady Walsham said, her hand slipped into his, giving a tight, reassuring squeeze before withdrawing. ‘That was not my intention at all. Please, look at me, Jericho. Please, I’m ever so sorry. Do look at me won’t you?’
Jericho could not recall when he had been treated as such and that realisation only intensified his melancholy. McFadden and Lady Walsham stood silent, exchanging searching glances to one another, through his own veil of tears Jericho noticed that they too appeared misty-eyed.
‘Perhaps we should proceed?’ suggested McFadden.
‘Indubitably,’ assented Lady Walsham, dabbing at the corners of her eyes with a handkerchief. She offered the folded little square of perfumed cloth to Jericho after. He slowly accepted it with the reverence of someone bestowed an incredible gift akin to a religious artefact for a devout worshipper. ‘I had heard rumours that the condition in which you are kept in. That it was truly dreadful. But to enter into this godless place and see for myself the extent of it, is utterly beyond belief. What monster could be responsible for such an atrocity I wonder. Not a man, surely.’
‘I had approached Mr Gabb to discuss my proposition,’ McFadden confided, shaking his head ruefully. ‘But the scoundrel threw me out, threatening all manner of violence if I returned. Suffice to say I did not reveal my identity tonight, and the man was far too addled with alcohol to recognise me.’
‘His loss is our gain.’ Lady Walsham remarked, motioning to Jericho to wipe at his eyes, his sobbing had ceased. ‘Though we must be swift.’
‘To get to the point Jericho,’ McFadden said, stepping forward, industrious and enlivened with purpose, his excitement was infectious. ‘May I call you Jericho?’
‘Yes,’ Jericho assured, hoping that the close proximity would not cause the two to gag at his smell.
He repeated the affirmative several times. McFadden eventually understood.
‘I am here as a representative of London Central Hospital,’ McFadden continued, smiling knowingly as Jericho raised the handkerchief to his nose and inhaled deeply, marvelling at the perfume, its fragrance never experienced before, heavenly pleasant in such a hellish place. ‘I have already explained your case to a senior colleague of mine, a good, free-thinking man by the name of Quincy Shapter, a pioneer in the field really. He carries considerable clout within the hospital and substantial standing within the medical community, and he has displayed immense interest in your case, and would very much like to meet you.’
‘Time is ephemeral Dr McFadden,’ stressed Lady Walsham, casting anxious glances to the ajar door.
‘Right yes, too right.’ McFadden continued. ‘Getting to the crux of the matter at hand, my proposition is this – would you accompany us now, right now, it truly must be right now, lest incur the notice and ire of that villain Gabb, to the hospital across the road?’
He pointed to the wall as if they had an unrestricted view of London above and beyond before circling his hand into a fist and beating it upon his breast, a conduit to passion as a current of electricity.
‘On my word, you will be studied and treated fairly, well cared for, provisioned with food and clothing, all of that and more. Jericho, I swear this to you, on my honour. And I think I speak on behalf of Lady Walsham who seeks to be your benefactor in concert with the London Central Hospital.’
‘This is true,’ Lady Walsham confirmed, favouring Jericho with another smile. The glow made her ethereal, an angel from the Kingdom of Heaven, as delineated by Jericho’s mother when he was but a boy in another life.
‘Yes, well, yes,’ McFadden was harried with the feat of articulating. ‘So will you leave with us now? I do so solemnly pledge that you will never be treated in such a deplorable manner ever again. What say you?’
Jericho ostensibly could say nothing. His thoughts awry, struggling to comprehend what was being asked of him. His eyes swivelled to McFadden and Lady Walsham, and back again.
‘Well, man?’ McFadden asked again, nervous with the wait. His eyes drifted toward the door, to the unseen but encroaching threat that lay beyond.
‘Have you any family Jericho?’ Asked Lady Walsham, eyes speculative, face kind, mouth curled in a warm smile, unlike any that had ever been bestowed upon Jericho. ‘Any at all?’
Jericho daily thought of his family, what scarce amount he could remember and even that he had to buttress with the fantasy of nostalgia, gilding memories with his imagination. He had long ago accepted that his father loved him not and that his burdening became a constant source of dismay and disappointment for his mother, who treated him more favourably. Jericho knew she had gone to great lengths to try and keep him at the family home, though to no avail. Leicester proved to be the bane of his existence, and the family haberdashery proved to be the harbinger of his end. When that chapter decisively closed he had been cast aside, abandoned at the cigar factory until his condition deteriorated to such a point that he could no longer work there. Jericho could only faintly remember his parents, and his siblings not at all, only beatings and barrages of insults, sleeplessness and an empty stomach, dirt and tears, ingrained.
Jericho managed to shake his head.
‘Very well.’ McFadden said with the solemnity due, nodding once again before his eyes sought out Jericho’s once again. ‘So what do you say?’
‘What about my me?’ Jericho asked, the words sprang to mind, plucked from the ether, nonsensical, but poignant to him, encapsulating all that he felt, all that he needed to be understood by the two standing and waiting.
‘My me?’ Lady Walsham repeated, clearly, his speech was not as unintelligible as he thought it. ‘Is that what you said, Jericho?’
He nodded again, a slow and pronounced act, an acknowledgement, an entreaty.
‘I don’t follow?’ Lady Walsham volunteered, looking apologetic, she swung her gaze to McFadden for clarification.
‘Nor I,’ he admitted, his thumb twiddling at the beard on his chin.
Laboriously but assiduously, Jericho brought his hand up in a broad, sweeping gesture of his deformed body, as wide an arc as he could manage, encompassing from top to bottom. He watched the two, unsure of if they took his meaning at all.
‘You are referring to your condition?’ McFadden enquired. ‘That’s what you mean?’
Jericho nodded again, glad that the handkerchief was still clasped tightly within his hand, ready to be applied to his face if weeping took him, somehow his self-control prevailed.
‘The medical community will want to study you, Jericho,’ McFadden explained. ‘I grant you that, but not in this, perverted, inhumane fashion,’ he contemptuously flung a hand around the place where vermin corpses decomposed in corners, and everything was filthy to the touch. ‘You are unique, unprecedented and remarkable, staggering really, beyond compare or measure. I recognise this, and so too will other, more learned and distinguished men than myself within the broad field of medicine. The best minds congregate right here in London.’
Apprehension must have flooded Jericho’s features for McFadden’s eyes widened in response, desperate to appease any misgivings.
‘But we only want to learn from such an untapped resource of knowledge, you simply being you could further our knowledge decades, centuries even, ahead of our time. You will not be subject to any ridicule, you will not be mistreated in any definition, of that, I can wholly and unreservedly assure you of this. Will you permit us this chance, Jericho?’
McFadden proffered a hand, shaking with excitement, his breath bated, waiting for Jericho’s reply. After an age, Jericho took the hand. They shook vigorously and firmly, an understanding and an agreement established and forged in perpetuity, both of them mute with awe at what had been struck, what they had seen within the other. When their hands disengaged, Lady Walsham was weeping, tears pricked her eyes, mercury-silver in the shifting, flimsy candlelight.
Jericho returned the handkerchief to her.
‘Thank you,’ she replied, accepting the handkerchief and dabbing away the tears. ‘Shall we?’
‘We shall,’ McFadden said resolutely, retreating toward the door, turning to check that he was being followed. Lady Walsham outstretched an arm toward Jericho, befuddled for but a moment, he then slid his into hers and felt elated as she tightened hers. This was a comfort that he had never known, an acceptance he could never fathom, now bestowed him without preamble or an expectation.
Jericho lingered only to remove a single item among his meagre amount of possessions – his cap and attached hood that had been fashioned for him by a seamstress under Gabb’s employ. Designed purely for the rare occasion Jericho would need to leave his cell, allowing him to proceed undetected and undisturbed through the bustling London streets.
‘The coast is clear,’ McFadden announced in a whisper as he emerged from the cell. ‘At least it would seem. Let us hasten.’
‘Yes, let’s.’ Lady Walsham concurred, though she was mindful of Jericho requiring great care in order to safely negotiate the dark-enshrouded maze.
Jericho allowed himself to be led, proceeding in a numb state, bracing for Gabb to intervene. They were at the foot of the stairs when an intruder announced their presence unintentionally with a sneeze.
The trio froze, frantically flinging their gazes around, trying to identify the culprit among the phantasmagoria. Jericho’s field of vision was seriously reduced by the cumbersome hood, so he could only discern the pallid, fearful faces of Lady Walsham and McFadden.
Jericho felt a sharp tug on his shift. He was initially certain that it was caused by the jaws of one of Gabb’s half-rabid hounds, the beast primed to maul him to death while Gabb looked on laughing. Jericho rounded to face the threat, felt his hip collide with a soft, fleshy object, the collision of the impact knocked it over.
‘Good lord,’ McFadden cried.
‘Do keep your voice down,’ reproached Lady Walsham. Her calm exterior was at odds with the trembling Jericho felt in her touch.
‘It’s a child,’ McFadden announced. ‘Are you quite alright there young master?’
‘Don’t,’ a juvenile voice scolded. ‘No.’
‘I meant no harm.’ McFadden answered peevishly. ‘I was merely trying to help.’
‘Leave them be,’ Lady Walsham said. ‘They are not hurt. Are you, little one?’
Jericho unlinked his hand from that of the Lady’s and removed his hood. The gloom was immense, gradually he discerned the outline of a child as they hobbled out from the shadows.
‘That’s not a boy,’ Lady Walsham pointed out.
‘My apologies.’ McFadden replied. ‘It’s darker than sin in here.’
‘Hello, Kende.’ Jericho greeted his favourite of the Olitz clan as she approached. ‘I hope I did not hurt you.’
‘Not at all Mr McKinnon sir, not at all.’ Kende bounded up to him. ‘Is it true what these people are saying?’
Jericho knelt slightly in order to accommodate the hug. Kende wrapped her arms around his leg and they embraced in this fashion, with her squeezing tightly. Jericho and her disengaged, with Kende standing on her own accord, just over two feet tall at her full stature, at eleven years old she looked passably as a toddler. She was the most mischievous of her brood and the one Jericho would miss the most, the embodiment of the greatest piece of his heart left behind in order to actualise his new life.
‘Is it true?’ She asked again.
‘Yes.’ He conceded, never could he lie to someone he adored so, who had been so selflessly kind to him, bringing him confectionary, imparting hope.
In the dim light, he could see the understanding of what this would mean flicker across Kende’s face, then her features crumpled as her melancholy reigned.
‘You mustn’t go,’ she said, voice a pitch short of a wail. ‘Do not leave us, this is your home, with us.’
Jericho, who had to this point retained a solid composure given the extraordinary, life-changing circumstances he found himself thrust into, proceeded to break down. Seeing Jericho beset by a wave of emotion naturally caused Kende to also succumb to weeping. She clamped onto Jericho’s leg once again, her wailing stifled by burying her face into the folds of Jericho’s shift.
‘Now, now little one,’ Lady Walsham lowered herself to kneeling, her dress pooling around her, the pristine finery soiled by the accumulated muck on the floor, though she did not seem to notice. ‘There is no need for a tearful goodbye. We seek only to give Jericho the best life possible. You want that too don’t you?’
Kende wailed more and did not reply. Jericho could only embrace her tightly and look to Walsham and McFadden for guidance. They themselves appeared bereft of suggestions, Lady Walsham finally placed a hand of support on the child’s back, Kende did not shrink away from the contact.
‘Will you help us?’ She asked Kende, earnestly and softly.
After another succession of body shudders, Kende eventually mumbled. ‘How?’
‘By keeping this our secret,’ Lady Walsham explained in her most conciliatory tone, her hands brushing through Kende’s matted hair. ‘Your role is vital in this endeavour little one.’
‘Please, don’t leave.’ Kende implored, producing another series of cries, loudening after each one.
‘We must go I’m afraid,’ McFadden said, the angst as tangible as frost in his voice. ‘We are creating quite the disturbance.’
‘Jericho, we must away,’ Lady Walsham said, still stroking Kende’s hair, murmuring soothing nothings to the distressed child.
‘I’m sorry,’ Jericho said, stooping once more to hug Kende’s tightly. He hugged her as if in finality, the devastating certainty that they would never see one another again. He prayed that would not be the case, that his fortune thereafter would be more providential and he were granted the luxury of again seeing one of his dearest friends. ‘I’m so sorry.’
He repeated the word as a mantra until McFadden carefully placed a hand on his shoulder, rousing him from his inertia. Kende refused to let go and had to be lightly pried away by Lady Walsham. Jericho turned away, disgusted at himself for upsetting the child he adored so, ashamed that he was leaving her without and wailing. He could not bear to spare her a second glance when he turned, knowing that would be his undoing, that that would make him renege on his pledge to the opportunity most unexpected and unpredictable offered by Lady Walsham and McFadden. He applied his hood once more, grateful that the act distracted him briefly.
Kende rushed away, sobbing the entire time, refusing to return regardless of the trio’s entreaties called out after her. The sounds of her anguish shattered Jericho’s resolve, left him a tottering husk. He found the simple act of walking most taxing and required the ministrations of McFadden to half-carry, half-herd him out of the building. Miraculously, they did not encounter Gabb or his hounds, the man’s overindulgence in vices must’ve resulted in a deep sleep.
Outside, finally rid of the site that he had been entombed in for seemingly all eternity, Jericho paused. He deeply inhaled the crisp air, savouring the taste as the most beautiful of his life, that of freedom, that of a new chapter of his life commencing. The exquisite taste soon soured, when he thought of Kende, and how his unceremonious departure had wounded her so.
‘We’ll bring her over for a visit, you have my word,’ assured McFadden, reading Jericho’s mind. ‘Once you’re settled in naturally.’
Jericho could not muster a response, could only wonder at the veracity of McFadden’s pledge as he allowed himself to be escorted toward the hospital and the fate that awaited him there.