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Wednesday 3 June 2020

๐Ÿ“š Segment 10: Mudlarks and the Silent Highwayman - Alan M. Clark

Welcome to the tenth segment in the serialisation of Mudlarks and the Silent Highwayman, an Historical Supernatural Illustrated Novelette by (, IFD Publishing, 69 pages). A story of hope enduring in the midst of illness and death.

If you missed the previous segments, you can catch up, find out more about the story, its serialisation and Alan M. Clark here, or jump to the segment you missed by using the links below.

|| Synopsis || Segments: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 || About the Author ||

      The grayness seemed to absorb Albert. His mind having nothing visual to grab onto, he lost all sense of direction and feared that he might make a circle, running into the boy again. Albert stopped and turned, saw the boy not too far away. He’d picked up his stick, gone back to poking at the mud, and didn’t appear to be a threat.
      A muffled cry of, “My eye!” seemed to come from the mud beneath his stick.
      “My apologies,” the boy said in a thin, cracked voice.
      Did I awaken or is this still dream?
      Albert looked closely at the back of his right hand, saw a smear of soil caught in the tiny hairs, the grit trapped beneath his nails, and a bit of dried grass caught in a sharp split of his thumbnail. He pressed that nail hard into his index finger until he felt pain.
      No, not dreaming.
      Continuing to back away from the boy, Albert found himself standing in a few inches of foamy river water. The current angle of his head allowed him to see what lay at his feet: A spill of blood oozing across one of his footprints.

"From The Sea": click here to purchase the original drawings by Alan M. Clark
      A tap on his left shoulder, and he spun around.
      George Hardly!
      Albert stumbled back and fell on his arse, scramble backwards on all fours to get away. Hardly followed.
      Albert could see only the boys torn breeches and feet, the shoe missing from the left foot. He turned onto his left side to see more of him.
      Hardly held his hands out to his sides. His scarred face, wide eyes, and trembling lips had a pleading look.
      Even so, Albert covered his head with his arms for protection, drew his knees to his chest.
      “I mean no harm,” Hardly said, his voice tremulous.
      Albert peeked up a him from between fingers. The older boy appeared on the verge of tears. Hardly reached out a hand. Though reluctant, Albert finally took it and stood with assistance. The two boys looked at one another.
      Hardly’s shirt was bloodied and had a hole in it on the left side of his chest. “He had a bigger knife,” he said with a grimace. “I fell down the bank, got lost. I recognize you, but nothing else.” He grimaced again. “What happened to your head?”
      “I fell on it.” Albert backed away. “Leave me be.”
      “I know… I-I harmed you,” Hardly said. “I don’t expect you’ll forgive, but I need to find my brothers. This wants help.” He gestured toward the hole in his chest, looking fearful. “Your head wants help too.”
      Albert continued shuffling backwards. Hardly kept up, walking slowly.
      “Stay away,” Albert said, and the other boy slowed, following from a distance.

Mudlarks and the Silent Highwayman copyright © 2020 Alan M. Clark

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