A Man Comes Around

by Margaret

5th February 2004

Disclaimer: Not mine, not that I name any names, but if I did they still wouldn't be mine.

Rated: Rating: PG-13

Notes: A weird mood prompted me to write most of this, another weird mood gave me the inspiration to make it make sense. Thanks to my brother for inadvertently providing the inspiration and for hunting up the mood music as I was madly typing. Title and lyrics taken from the Johnny Cash song of the same name. For Em.

Summary: What exactly is natural justice?

And I heard, as it were, the noise of thunder
One of the four beasts sang 'Come and see' and I saw
And behold a white horse...

There's a man going 'round taking names
And he decides who to free and who to blame
Everybody won't be treated all the same
There'll be a golden ladder reaching down
When the man comes around


London, December 1888

His breath was harsh in his throat, loud in the darkness of the churchyard after the constant hum and bustle of the streets. Crouched and tense, he ignored the biting chill and waited until the faint scuff of cloth on stone spun him around to finally see his pursuer. The figure stood alone, long, black coat curled around him in the wind, like the wings of some graveyard bird, a deeper darkness against the night. In the moonlight, the angular face was as cold and pale as that of the marble archangel in whose shadow he stood and showed as little emotion. The dark head rose slowly to fix cut-glass green eyes on him and he shivered. He wasn't a superstitious man; the things he had done, he had done with as little fear of divine retribution as he had of the plodding constabulary, but for a moment the temptation to succumb to such fancies was strong. Primitive instinct froze his limbs, the same instinct that had warned him that he was being followed, that despite the twists and turns he took on the streets he knew so well, he had not lost his pursuer. It took conscious effort to move his hand towards the pistol he concealed within his own heavy coat, not his tool of choice, but useful all the same. He had been careful to remain undetected for months now; he was not prepared to allow some common footpad to unnerve him when the finest detectives had failed. This was a man, nothing more.

The wind moaned as it wrapped itself around the stone teeth and leafless trees of the churchyard, chill fingers plucking at flesh and cloth. Caught in its grasp, the dark coat billowed out like a living thing, swallowing what little light filtered through the clouds. As if released by the movement, he drew his pistol from his coat and fired in one smooth movement. The figure rocked with the impact - so much meat now for all its ominous appearance. Fear vanquished, a fierce exultation blazed bright, then turned to ashes in his throat. The figure had rocked, but it had not fallen.

A pale hand emerged from the depths of the darkness, long fingers dripping silent carmine. Green eyes glittered as they rose and he watched pale lips part, tongue snaking out to twine around the bloody digits, obscenely sensual as each finger was sucked between lips stained crimson. He could not help but admire the artistry of it - a perfect marriage of life and death that he had never yet achieved on his own canvasses. Clean now, the hand disappeared from view for a moment only to reappear, pale fingers wrapped around the familiar gleam of a sharpened blade. It was envy as much as fear that tightened his own fingers on the trigger once more and he watched those bloodstained lips curve into something that might once have been a smile. He squeezed the trigger - again and again and again, but the deeper darkness was already moving, inhumanly swift and fluid. Moonlit steel carved the night and the wind screamed silently as bright colour splashed across white marble faces, the angels' serenity undisturbed as they bore witness to Death - the unremarked conclusion to a string of murders in London's East End.


And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts
And I looked and behold a pale horse
And his name that sat on him was Death
And Hell followed with him.



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