In Defence of the Realm

Chapter 11

I didn’t know what was going on. There was too much weird information and Jacob was talking to me like I was going to solve everything.

“Mr Brizelthwaite, I don’t get it. What you’re telling me is beyond normal. If you’d been anyone else I’m sure the men in white would be here in a flash, strapping you up and carting you away.”

Jacob rolled his eyes. “I know how it must seem, lad.” He shook his head slightly and pursed his lips. He seemed resigned to continue, come what may. “Derek, you’ve seen the letters. You’ve seen how the words were revealed. I don’t have it in me to do what is necessary. I’m too old and I’ve waited a long time for someone like you to turn up. Things would have been different if I could have sought you out, but it was against the rules.”

Things were getting weirder by the minute. “What rules?”

Jacob shut his eyes and shook his head again. “There isn’t enough time to explain everything; perhaps afterwards.”

“After what? What is this ‘Conversion’?” I almost shrieked.

“Let me finish explaining.”

Jacob downed the remnants of his tea and took a deep breath. “When it was apparent that the scientists would attempt to purge ‘natural wisdom’ from humanity’s knowledge and replace it with the new science and its discoveries, a council of the cunning folk and the Sidheóga was called. The council agreed to build a barrier to separate mankind from the Sidheóga. They were certain that the Enlightenment would lead a determination to ‘resolve’ all potential conflicts that could exist between the new thinking and the old.”

“I take it ‘resolve’ is a euphemism,” I asked.

“I’m afraid it was, my lad. We always spoke of it like that. The thought of mankind and the Sidheóga parting ways was bad enough, but the Enlightenment had given those humans with a blacker heart a way to shrug off the shackles of the Sidheóga, as they saw it.

“The Enlightenment was a greater enemy than Christianity ever was.”

Our shadows were suddenly cast upon the back wall of Jacob’s office as a brilliant light sliced through the gloom inside the building. A massive peel of thunder followed and it vibrated the partition wall that separated Jacob’s room from the post room proper.

We waited for another strike but none came.

“Jacob, what do you mean by ‘the conversion’?” I shook my head then said, “It’s nothing to do with rugby is it?”

Jacob smiled and coughed a slight laugh. “No. Nothing to do with rugby, Derek. I wish it were. Our lives would be so much simpler than they are now.”