Appearing in the 1st Story
- Mr. Salt
Synopsis for the 1st Story
After having left the Hinchcliffe estate, George Suttle and his driver Bowes stopped at a coaching inn to regroup before returning to London. George reveals that Lord Falconbridge had put a strange thought into his head. The lord had made such a show of wanting to spare the Hinchcliffe's any shame or scandal, and yet he had cast the young heir John Hinchcliffe under suspicion. Lord Falconbridge likely wanted to make it seem as though the heir had killed his own father to inherit the family's wealth.
What's more troubling is how remarkably alike the father and son were. The resemblance is alarming, in fact. George believes that, perhaps, John Hinchcliffe did not murder his father, but rather, his father murdered him, so that his luxurious life as a Young could continue. George can certainly imagine that the elder Hinchcliffe might have come to owe a serious debt, and ended up making an atrocious ritual sacrifice in order to pay it. The missing right hand on the victim's body is just one indicator of the ritual nature of the murder, which cannot be separate from the secret organization, the Sons of Adam, to which the Hinchcliffes belong.
George decides to executee the warrant they took out on the artist Pretendleby's studio. Bowes breaks down the door, and the place seems empty. He remarks, though, that it smells of death and decay. Suttle spots the insignia of the Sons of Adam printed on one of Pretendleby's notebooks, as well as a strange number of mementos relating to Prince Albert, who was killed before the war. Examining the walls, they spot several drawings that they assume must be of locals in the area. Suttle orders the lot taken in as evidence, while he sees to a guest who has come to see him.
It is Sapphire, the girl from the thirsty house, who admits that despite her flirtation, she did happen to think of something else to help with the investigation. She invites him up to her room to hear it. Once they are in private, George tries to kiss her. She stops him, warning that she doesn't kiss. He reminds that she kissed him last time. Things progress until they have had sex, and lie naked on her bed. Suttle finds it unexpectedly satisfying, despite the apparent loss of appetite for sex or any other thing but blood, as a member of the Young. This is the happiest he's felt in fifty years as a Young. To business, Sapphire explains that she remembered another man who used to drink with Hinchcliffe besides the artist; a poet named Salt. George thanks her, and they have sex again.
Suttle gets dressed and goes to The Crown pub, where Salt is known to hang out, brushing past the Bright protesters outside. Inside, he draws stares from all of the Bright patrons, and orders a pale ale. In a corner booth, he spots a man pouring salt out onto the table, and recognizes him from one of the drawings in Pretendleby's studio. He correctly assumes that this is Salt, and takes the seat across from him.
Salt seems strangely aware of who he is and what he wants, noting the irony and folly of Suttle's being the last remaining man in the murder room at Scotland Yard, investigating the death of an already dead man. Coldly, Salt complains that the Cure and the resultant Young have killed the meaning in the universe, and will kill all others who remain. Suttle decides that Salt should accompany him back to the station for an interview, but the man throws the table up onto him, and rushes out the door.
George follows Salt out into the street, but the man escapes into the crowd of protesters, loudly calling out that Suttle is trying to drink his blood. George calmly states that he is a police officer, but the men beat him down with their signs. One man, whose signpost breaks, orders the others to hold George down while he is intent on thrusting the broken wood into George's chest, to kill him.
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