Saturday, 19 September 2009

KINGDOM COME by Lee Hughes

Part Nine of Lee's epic The Osseous Box

Kingdom Come

The sky was a tedious gray, causing the sea to appear moody. It was fitting, for the water's surface was heavily creased like a frowned brow.The preacher stood with the brackish mist catching at his beard. He'd never felt so abused, so battered. He didn't dare get too close to the water's edge for his depth perception had been stolen from him in a brawl he couldn't avoid in a run-down, shit-hole of an inn.

The eye hadn't slowed him down as much as the limp. He'd picked up that hobble from wolves that had attacked in the depths of a midnight several nights ago.

It was the box, he knew it was. It brought out the darkness in people, even if they didn't know that they were harbouring blackness in their soul. When he crossed paths with animals it changed them too, mainly the ones that featured in the darkness. It excited them, angered them, fired up the hunting instinct and set the scent to the Box and ultimately him.

There'd been a night when he'd found himself at the Box. A rock grasped in his hand and on the cusp of driving it into the bone of the Box to fracture it and liberate its damned contents.

Sense had returned before the down-swing of the rock and he'd cast it aside. As he immersed himself into prayer to beg for strength he'd openly wept, knowing how close he'd been to undoing what the good-man Wulf had died to accomplish.

He asked God to forgive him as he stood at the sea's edge with the breath of the wind upon his face. The simple fisherman would live, but whether or not he would want to without his boat was another thing. The preacher knew he wasn't going to be able to return the small vessel. He'd assured the fisherman that he was securing a place in Heaven for his sacrifice to the cause.

The fisherman hadn't seemed convinced.


The tide turned.

The preacher pushed the feeble boat out and climbed aboard.

He saved his energy and allowed the tide to draw him out onto the unforgiving sea. He'd heard men talk of the sea, referring to it as if it were female, "The sea, she can be a harsh mistress." The preacher had his faith but he hoped that he wouldn't have to find out how harsh the lady could be.

He sat and watched England get small. With the bad weather it didn't take long for it to disappear from sight altogether.

The mist grew thicker.

It altered the way that everything sounded. It made the preacher think of cosier times, like a hungry man would think of food. The preacher started to vision a great hearth flooded with logs and flame. He now sorely missed the one back at Wulf's hut. Wulf had been eager to learn about the Lord and his charitable and holy ways. He'd been willing to share his roof in exchange for the preacher's teachings.

The preacher stared at the Box. He shuddered when he thought about what the world could have been like had those two peasants not been in the beast's path on its return to Hell from which it had escaped.

He rested his eyes as the small boat rode the waves. Its movement made him feel both queasy and tired. Tiredness won out.


The preacher saw the bodies. A woman with her throat cut, a man with his face caved in and the feet of a woman protruding from some form of table. They were dressed in a most peculiar fashion. The man in the centre of the room snatched his attention. He was standing with a shovel held aloft, ready to bring it down. The preacher followed the arc that the swing would take and gasped. The man was about to demolish the Box. The preacher made a run for the man. Just as he was inches away from tackling him everything faded.

The onset of rain woke him. He could feel through the swells that the sea was gaining in fury. The boat would ride up one-side of a pale-tipped wave and spill down the other.

The preacher held on for dear life. The skies had gone from grey to the colour of a bruise. Slaps of thunder and snaps of lightning began in earnest. The preacher brought his rough cloak about him as tight as he could as the storm progressed from angry to savage.

The only thing he could concede to the storm was that it was throwing him over towards Ireland. He'd travelled there, knew that there were many perfect places to hide the Box away from any that would profit from its unearthing.

He remembered then the vision. The box had been unearthed. It had been on the verge of being shattered and the demon inside let loose. He held on as the storm worked its violence, he pondered over whether he'd just been dreaming or whether it had been a portent.

The preacher decided he didn't have the luxury of supposing this, or supposing that.

As the ocean tossed him he vomited even though there was nothing left to come out apart from bile and the lining of his stomach.

He wiped at his eyes and thought about tossing the Box over the side of the boat to let the sea keep it concealed.

He'd seen what salt-water did to wood and such. He couldn't risk the Box rotting and then releasing its evil cargo.

It would have to be buried as planned but with something set in place just in case the time came when someone did manage to find the box and the premonition that he'd witnessed in his sleep came true.


Sometime through the night he'd drifted off to sleep again.

The preacher opened his eyes and saw the first light of the day. He breathed with relief when he realised that the night had kept a grip of the storm and not allowed it to continue into the day.

The preacher shivered as he sat upright, his stomach still raw with sea-sickness. His old bones creaked and protested after being stuck in the same position for so long and in such unforgiving weather.

He looked all around. He'd never felt so alone. It was just himself, the waves, the chill in his bones and a demon in a box.

His spirits rose sharply when over on the horizon he could make out what had to be a landmass. It was many miles away and he'd have to row but he hoped that it was Ireland, not so much because he'd be closer to securing the safety and secrecy of the Box but for the reason that he'd relearned one thing since climbing aboard the small boat and that was that he wasn't a good sailor. He vomited more bile over the side.


The landmass neared. He'd travelled to Ireland before but only as a passenger to spread the word of the Lord.

He'd no idea where it would be best to land. Which places would be safe from rocks that would tear open the boat and then break him in the same manner. Besides, the storm had probably altered his course so he'd have no idea as to which part of the coast he was approaching.

He began to row. He kept the small boat away from the rocks, whilst seeking a shingled stretch of beach to land.


His arms were burning and his back felt like stone. But he'd spied somewhere that looked safe enough. He rowed in as far as he could and climbed overboard. The freezing water shrivelled his balls and his cock retreated to cower behind a kidney, he gasped. The water stopped at his chest.

The preacher dragged the boat up onto the sands and looked around.

He'd a feeling that he hadn't gone far enough. It was the way that he could see the landmass curve around on itself in the horizon. He'd an inkling that he'd not made it over to Ireland at all, that he'd made it halfway.

The beach he stood on was likely to be part of the Isle of Mann.

The preacher had never stepped foot on land there. One place was as good as any. And the Lord had brought him to these shores for a reason.

The preacher lifted the Box and carried its burden himself.

In under an hour he missed Wulf's old and belligerent horse.


The preacher saw sporadic bursts of agriculture as he headed towards what he hoped would be the best place to bury the Box. It was the biggest mountain that he could see. He hoped it would be a place that no one would bother with. The preacher himself wasn't even sure that he could make it that far.


The few people he encountered looked at him with suspicion. Strangers were a far from common occurrence. The preacher knew that they would all be pagan. The Lord's work was still fresh and hadn't been sowed everywhere. The preacher smiled, one day it would be. His thoughts of what that world would be like spurred him on.


It took days to finally make it to the top. He'd lived of water from streams and meat from rabbits that he had managed to snare. His belly had never been full but it had given him enough energy in his legs to reach the tor.

The preacher stood and looked out.

The sky was clear, pure azure without the molestation of clouds.

He smiled, his straggly beard twitching.

He counted them.

The preacher could see England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, and the Isle of Mann beneath his feet. He could see the five kingdoms. He looked up and smiled. He could see six kingdoms, including Heaven.


The preacher had no tools and the task took him through the whole of the day and the majority of the night. He lowered the Box into the sunken hole and covered it. He slept beside it, weary but relieved that he had managed to secrete it.

In the morning he knew that he would have to head back down the mountain and put into place some form of safe-guard in case his vision of the man with the shovel came true.


Jon stared down at the box. He could see the malformed shadow of the shovel sprawl out before him. He couldn't help himself. It was inside his head, telling him to do it. Punish the Box, ruin it for all the harm that it had done.

The door flew open.

Jon looked.

The figure was silhouetted by the light from outside.

It all happened at the same time for Jon. The thunderous bang and the feeling of crumpling to the floor mixed with the swift darkness.


Lee's short fiction has or is due to appear in or on Thrillers, Killers 'n' Chillers, A Twist of Noir, Everyday fiction, Blink-Ink, The Daily Tourniquet, FlashShot, Powder Burn Flash, MicroHorror and the anthology Cern Zoo: Nemonymous 9. Find out more at


  1. As ever, another superb addition to the tale. Things are mounting now. Bring it on!

  2. These are getting better n better, Lee.
    Flowed like the ocean and eerie as hell.
    Someone seriously needs to novelize this.
    Do the research n send it off, mate.

  3. Cheers, Matt and Col. Once the tale is told I'll think about doing something with it.