The Hanging Christian – Episode 8
The Sunday Serial builds towards its climax as Freya is forced to become part of a treasonous conspiracy…
Catch up on Episode 7 here.
“Tonight is the night we assassinate Prince William, erstwhile Duke of Cambridge!”
If Freya hadn’t been living in what felt like a week 5 stress-induced trippy as fuck nightmare for days she might have been surprised by the turn of events. As it was, her heartbeat merely elevated slightly. She wondered if the beat would be picked up by the recording device. The metal edges were icy cold against the skin of her chest, a constant reminder of her subterfuge.
Passionate clapping had greeted the speaker’s final words, and now Professor Seydowsky stood. As he did he turned a glanced quickly at her. It was just for a second, but his eyes briefly flicked down from her face to exactly the point in her chest where the recording device was affixed.
He knew. She didn’t know how. He knew and there was nothing she could do about it. She sat there, a dull kind of ache spreading through her, coupled with a jolting thrum of pure undiluted panic.
The professor stood in the centre of the circle, and surveyed his rapt audience. She wanted to cry out. She couldn’t move. He licked his lips.
“Our dear friend and fresh initiate, Miss Freya Lee, has kindly offered her services to act as the key ingredient in our plan – the bait.” Freya felt the attention of the room swivel sharply onto her. The professor continued.
“This brave self sacrifice might to some extent go towards ameliorating the betrayal of our trust and kinship she displayed when she visited the police this morning.”
Gloved hands grabbed Freya roughly and thrust her forward off her chair. She sprawled at Professor Seydowsky’s feet, scraping her knees on the concrete floor. She looked up at him, starting to mouth words.
“Did you really think we were unaware of your tittle-tattling? You are a stupid, silly girl. I am disappointed in myself; my aptitude for assessing potential is clearly not what it once was. Give me the wire.”
Shaking, Freya pulled out the recording device. The professor dropped it on the floor and ground it into pieces with his heel. There went her evidence. Not that it looked like she was going to be getting out of here any time soon… She tried desperately not to think about what was going to happen to her.
Professor Seydowsky looked at his watch, then clapped his hands. “Quickly, everyone. We only have an hour.”
The sun was just beginning to set, bleeding through the upturned udders of King’s chapel. King’s Parade was still bustling with tourists and the frequent whizzing cyclist. Freya walked slowly along the pavement, eyes glazed with animal terror.
One step in front of the other. That’s what she concentrated on. One step at a time. Don’t stop. Don’t cry. Don’t scream.
She reached the entrance of King’s and stopped, as she’d been told to. Now she just had to wait.
Their timing had been close to perfect. Within a couple of minutes she saw him, strolling nonchalantly along the pavement towards her. He was dressed casually, in sunglasses and a straw boater, and none of the tourists seemed to be recognising him.
As he was about to pass her she stepped slightly to the left, blocking his path. He stopped, looking annoyed. He was doubtless used to and thoroughly wearied by a lifetime of street harassment.
Freya swallowed. Then she addressed Prince William, Duke of Cambridge.
“Excuse me… I…” she trailed off, trying to blink back her tears. He had clearly noticed her state of discomfit, and took off his sunglasses. His features were even more equestrian than they looked in photos. But his eyes were caring, and he looked genuinely concerned, not merely annoyed at the delay.
“Are you okay?” he said.
She remembered that he was a father, and knew then that she couldn’t go through with it.
She spoke calmly and quickly. “I’m sorry, there are explosives chained beneath my blouse, I’m here to kill you. If I shout out or try to run they’ll shoot me. Run, please, I’m so sorry-”
At a table in Cafe Nero across the road Professor Seydowsky sat with an untouched espresso. Satisfied that the target was close enough, he triggered the detonator.