“Stepney! Wake up! You’ve got to see this!” The voice cut into Stepney’s sleep and he shook himself awake. His neck ached. He looked about him; he had fallen asleep in front of the screen, still blaring out its messages. An “inspirational,” this time. Projected images sang the virtues of a positive attitude at him. He made a single gesture and they snapped into silence, the image fading into nothing.

Stepney approached the door cautiously, hoping he did not look as bad as he felt. He had opened it only a crack when Harlow made his way through, bursting into his home like a wind from some unseen source. Stepney regarded him coldly. “What is it?”

Harlow span theatrically, took a seat, gazed up at Stepney with a smile. “The note. The note you gave me.” He reached into his pocket and withdrew it. “I’ve figured it out. Part of it anyway. I had a dream last night.”

“Go on.” Stepney took a seat of his own, attempting to block out the pain in his neck and clear his mind. “Would this be the dream in which you do not bother me until a civilised time in the morning? If so, your dreams can be made a reality ever so easily.”

Harlow glared at him, the grin lost for a moment. “You asked for my help. If you -”

“Yes, yes. Sorry. Please continue.”

“I shall.” The smile, that mischievous little smile, was back. “My time is only beginning, that was what the note said. Don’t you remember?”

“Of course I remember.” Stepney rolled the words around in his head for a moment. They did seem oddly familiar, if only –

“The Gadiantons,” Harlow cut in.

The Gadiantons. Stepney felt the words echo in his mind. His heart fell. The Gadiantons. The old, old story. Dwelling in darkness, conspiring for their own power, orchestrating events for their own betterment. A parable, a fascinating tale – but above all, a story. A myth, a parable.

“The Gadiantons.” Stepney paused. “They are a fable, a story from days gone by. Nothing more.”

“They are much more than that, Stepney.” The smile remained, growing. “You see only in terms of what is. What is seen, what is heard, what is touched. I see what might be, what could be. The worlds of possibility which grow outside of your little walled garden.” He rose, began to pace, fidgeting impatiently with nervous energy. Stepney watched him, amused.

“Their history, the reality of their existence, is not known. Cannot be known. Some claim they do not exist in this world, that they never have and never will. Others blame them for all disaster and destruction from the dawn of man to today, every plague, every war, every famine. Still others see them as existing only in our time, arising in secret to control our world from the shadows. Yet more see them as but one of many recurring evils spread throughout history, throughout the world. It matters not.

“Their existence in this world is immaterial, Stepney. Their existence in the minds of men gives them power as an idea. And an idea can be the most damaging thing in the world. Or the most healing.”

“Our time is now.” The words sprang to Stepney’s mouth as if on command. By legend, the last words spoken before the world exploded into war and devastation, all those centuries ago, beyond memory, beyond history. Spoken by a Gadianton, one of those blamed for the war, those who had, legend told, orchestrated it from beginning for their own ends. History has dissolved, yet its echo remained, in legend, in myth.

Stepney gazed at him, his eyes clear, unblinking. “What does this mean?”

“What it means is this. There are those who would bring the Gadiantons from the world of myth to the world of flesh. Those who would make the idea a reality, who work in darkness to develop their own power. They are behind what is happening. I promise you.”

“You sound convinced.”

Harlow shrugged, smiling softly, his eyes unfocused. “I have seen it. I know.”

Published in: on April 20, 2009 at 7:32 am  Leave a Comment  
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