One so rarely gets such an opportunity, Charles Heath Jennings took extra care in tying his cravat that rainy April afternoon. The normally bustling city was gray and too quiet, subdued by the normative wet and unusual chill.
“No matter, it cannot be helped,” he mumbled to himself in the bright mirror.
Charles grimaced and wrestled his dashing mustache under control with a liberal dosage of wax. Once his visage was in order, he set about arranging his study. The sundry trophies and curios from an unusual lifetime of exploration and excitement were all positioned, just so. The bloodstained vellum map he paired with the ceremonial knife and undying branch of holly. The rough clay idol now sat with a tattered blue ribbon and a pressed bouquet of wild flowers.
He smiled languidly as he wound that threadbare ribbon ‘round the brittle bunch of small white blooms. It was all just so inappropriate to be found in a gentleman’s study. Good, he thought, let them wonder.
Charles crossed the room and took down a first edition of Blake from his well-ordered abundance of shelves, careful not to askew the adjacent volumes. As he sat at his desk he pulled his best cigar from a drawer and poured himself a deep glass of good whiskey.
He then tried to lose himself in the Songs of Innocence and Experience. He couldn’t help but glance often at the inevitable turning of the large clock on his desk. Otherwise, it was an enjoyable way to spend a pair of hours.
When the clock struck 8, the sky had faded from heather to charcoal gray. The gnome’s machine had been very exact. Charles carefully closed the book and sat it far to his right. He sipped whiskey and watched the seconds tick by. At 8:01:57 he tensed and held his breath.
At 8:03:01 his breathe exploded in a short, nervous bark that might have been a laugh. The machine was wrong. He smiled and shook his head, blinking.
He suddenly narrowed his eyes and sharply jerked his pocket watch into his sweating palm. He caught it as the second hand ticked from 8:01:59 to 8:02. A bullet crashed through his skull spraying blood across the terracotta idol.
As the second hand ticked to 8:02:02, the fiery orange eyes of the idol opened. Charles Heath Jennings’ revenge had begun.