A Legend In His Own Lunchbox
The Rt Hon Gabriel Forstaller-Plumb wrinkled his nose while his intern gripped the too small wellington boot and heaved. Gabby squealed as he nearly tumbled over. ‘For Chrissake Carlton, be careful.’
The underling quailed and tried to tug with more control. Eventually the reluctant rubber gave up the struggle and the dyspeptic Member for West Wittering’s left foot popped into place. ‘Right.’ Gabby rubbed soft manicured fingers and looked at the assembled group. ‘Shall we finish this?’
A local man in waterproof jacket and much scuffed, mud-splattered hiking boots led the way. It wasn’t far. As the hand-picked entourage hemisphered around Gabby, he clapped his hands. ‘Who wants to explain why I’m here?’
No one spoke. His permanent secretary checked her phone while the senior engineer found something in the bracken to distract him.
‘Well? I was told the only thing holding up our being able to meet our election promise of delivering this much-needed piece of infrastructure was to be found here. So far as I can see we have a bit of scabby countryside, a babbling brook and some old stones which…’
‘Old stones!’ The local couldn’t contain himself. He’d been warned that severe if unspecified consequences would follow if he so much as farted out of turn while guiding the Parliamentary grouping to Arthur’s Stones but this oleaginous little flibbertigibbet was getting on his wick. ‘These are the only true remnants of the Arthurian age and you have the brass neck to…’ he ran out of steam, aware of the open-mouthed horror on the faces either side of him. The only expression that didn’t change was Gabby’s.
‘Don’t stop, Mr…?’
‘And what makes you the expert, pray?’
‘I’ve lived and walked here nigh on sixty year…’
‘A sodding yokel,’ sighed Gabby not quite sotto voce. ‘And what exactly am I meant to be seeing that has caused the considerable might of both the civil service and my unelected but essentially loyal advisers to have a virulent attack of the conniptions, sufficient to have them drag me here?’
Prendegast took a breath and crossed the stream to stand facing the Secretary of State for Transport. ‘It was here that Arthur confronted Lancelot about his affair with Guinevere and…’
‘Are you serious? Where’s the evidence?’
Prendegast wasn’t used to the direct and brutal challenges that a battle-hardened politician such as Gabby used without thought. He hesitated. Gabby, sensing he had the one he perceived as his main opponent on the run, stepped forward. ‘No, go on. This lot,’ he waved at the others now horseshoeing behind him, ‘believe you or I wouldn’t be here. Why’s this spot so special? What makes you so sure of the historical accuracy of your assertions that the British Government’s flagship infrastructure project might be derailed?’ He sniggered at his own little joke but no one else, even his normally instinctively sycophantic advisers noticed, so gripped were they by this tense tableau.
‘Well, see, this stream feeds the lake, over yonder and…’
‘Oh for the love of all that’s holy, are you trying to tell me that that’s where that woman’s arm emerged from the water…’ Gabby, utterly convinced of victory stepped onto the first stepping stone and stopped.
Slowly his expression changed from one of superiority to one of surprise. He looked down at the water and in particular the arm that had emerged. An arm that was holding a sword. A sword whose point was already pressing against the cabinet minister’s most sensitive portfolio. Gabby’s eyes, distracted by a stirring in the surface of the water peered beyond the arm and sword and into the stream. A woman’s face smiled up at him, one both ancient and young, innocent and all knowing. And inside his head he heard a voice that filled him with a terror that spoke of ages and experiences manifold and dreadful.
So he did.
I have written this in response to this week’s #writephoto prompt