The Flag of Our Fathers.

The great election has ended. Drinks flow as dark and deep as the Stolen River, in congratulations and in commiserations. Banners are removed and cut up for cloth, secret documents burned or hoarded, or sold on by suddenly unemployed workers. Churches close their doors and priests sigh in despair or private relief. The constables grumble at the New Justice, and order another pint. Lords and Ladies sneer and continue on with pretending they run London. Veilgarden is awash in honey and fornication; dockers cheer Jenny in incredibly raunchy song.

Tick tock tick tock tick tock tick tock tick tock tick

Watches are checked, hidden things hauled out. An urchin sings on the street corner. It is time.

A honey-mazed bohemian clutches his friend by the shoulders, and howls semi-conscious words of joy.

Abide with me, fast falls the eventide

Nods are exchanged, prayers muttered, men anointed with oil and water, and other more expensive things.

A revolutionary hurls his bottle at an election poster of Jenny and slouches home angry. He doesn’t make it home.

Tick tock tick tock tick tock tick tock tick tock tick

They hurry, six men, desperate and loyal, behind their boss. They don’t want to do this.

The darkness deepens, Lord, with me abide

They must. No one knows why. He’s done too much for them to say no. The others give mournful looks. None expect to see them again.

Tick tock tick tock tick tock tick tock tick tock tick

A Devil pauses in his salesman pitch to a young girl. Something is not right here. He shakes it off and continues.

When other helpers fail and comforts flee

The constables know what to do. They happen to not be there. The neddies are celebrating, dead drunk. They don’t feel the knives.

It begins; the long climb. Past endless strange signs. Three men will never grow hair again. Another loses a finger to a bat, and nearly his grip.

The boss is ahead, furious beyond the power of fear.

Help of the helpless, O abide with me.

Tick tock tick tock tick tock tick tock tick tock tick

It’s all in the sevens. Seven men, in seventy seven minutes. It’s a long way down, longer way up.

The Bishop is weeping, with none to see. He burns the old poems.

Harrow is struggling. He’s carrying the heaviest load. The most precious. He sweats like Christ in the Garden. It is also blood.

Horrors pass by, unseeing. No questions, just climbing. More. More. Dear Lord.

The peak. All of London, spread below, a sleeping patient ignoring the many wounds.

“Harrow. The flag.”

The boss is clad in unmentionable words. They all are. Something he made himself, or found, or was told. Who remembers?

It is brought out, as precious as a newborn. A sacrifice. A message.

The Radical kisses the flag as he would a lover. That’s what the thing wants, it may have one.

A great Union Jack, banned by all accounts. Many men rot in New Newgate for owning one. This one is fresh, the colours taken from the stolen banners of the Contrarian and Jenny. A bitter irony, should the Masters have a sense of it.

It- no…she. She is fixed to the spire. It is huge, on the streets this flag would be garish. Up here, how else to see? All must see it and believe.
As the long descent begins, silence creeps through London, venom in the vein.

All gawp, all see. The air fills with the mournful shriek of Special Constable whistles. The Union Flag, as bold as burnished brass, and twice as damning. It stands aloft for seven minutes, and vanishes.

In the New Justice, a veteran officer chuckles and shouts “He was lucky at Christmas, this is bloody daft! Come on lads. Lets git ‘em afore them bleeding nancy Specials get them.”

Tick tock tick tock tick tock tick tock tick tock tick

(to those wondering, I robbed the Bazaar. Makes sense to leave something of note behind, in these times.)
edited by The Black-Shirted Radical on 7/19/2016