In Defence of the Realm

Chapter 8

I didn’t know how to start. I didn’t know what to say. I’d screwed up royally, and probably destroyed the best thing I’d ever had since leaving the army.

I turned to face Mr Brizelthwaite, desperately trying to think of a legitimate reason why I would be in the building at this time of the morning, and, why, I would be in his office, looking at papers he’d filed for no one else to see, holding a torch. Nothing came to mind.

“I didn’t know why you’d kept these letters from me,” I blurted out.

Mr Brizelthwaite nodded. I couldn’t read his expression as the office was only illuminated by the torch I held and I certainly wasn’t going to shine it in his face.

“I’m sure I’m good enough at my job to deal with these dead letters…,” I trailed off with nothing else to say.

“Dead Letters is a good way to categorise them, lad,” he said.

I was now utterly perplexed. This was the last thing I thought he would say. With my mouth hanging open, Mr Brizelthwaite continued.

“They’re a warning; a message from the other side that something terrible is on its way.”

The tone of Jacob’s voice sent shivers through me. Whatever was in the letters was serious.

“And you have proven my choice as the right one.”

I blinked a few times and my chin made motions. Eventually I said; “Choice?”

“Yes, Derek. Choice. I’m too old to do what is required. Although, if you hadn’t come along, I would have, as there wasn’t a choice for me, in that case. But you’re here now. And you’ve amply demonstrated the qualities required.”

“You’re not going to fire me then?” Since Mr Brizelthwaite hadn’t started to bawl me out, the more mundane had become important to me.

“No. You’re here because I chose you. And you’re here because what is going to happen in the next few days – is your destiny.”

I stared at my boss, shaking my head. Nothing was making sense. I knew he’d chosen me because he’d given me the job. But telling me my work over the next few days was my destiny, although true, was a little bit over the top. I worked as a clerk in the sorting office of a marketing company.

“My destiny?” I re-iterated.

Mr Brizelthwaite nodded, solemnly. I didn’t get the good feeling I’d expected, now that I was aware the position in the sorting office was mine until the day I died. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to stay there forever. Apparently my boss had other ideas.

He walked around the table and I moved back. Then he picked up the letter. “Here,” he said. “Watch this.”

Mr Brizelthwaite opened his desk drawer and pulled out a plastic vial of what looked like silver glitter. The kind of stuff you would use for making Christmas cards or something. He thrust it under my nose.

“Glitter,” he told me. It was glitter. I couldn’t believe it. I had no idea what was going to happen next.

He picked up the letter I’d put on the desk. “Shine your torch on this, Derek,” he told me. I complied.

He pulled the top off the vial and gently sprinkled its contents across the meagre amount of weird words written on its surface.

For an instant I thought the words changed, and I could read them. For an instant I read the translation;

You deceived me. That was not good. The evil ones coming for you.

And then the mirage was gone.