Fiction, Life

Albertus Rockwell – The Man In the Shadows (1)

My name is Albertus Rockwell, I am a 27 years old Englishman and I have been invited by my fellow, Sir Jacques Pierre Brissot de Warville, to participate in the matters of his new organization.

He created La Société des Amis des Noirs (The Society of the Friends of the Blacks) earlier this month. It is February 1788, and even though English law takes a jaundiced view on slavery, this issue is still very concerning.

This organization will hopefully go further than our Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade and lead to the abolition of slavery. We are meeting in Paris, right under Louis XVI’s nose. The reception was going well until I heard Sir Etienne Clavière denouncing the direct abolition of slavery. He thinks that slave trade should be abandoned but that slavery is still necessary to the matters of the colonial economy.

Hearing this, I storm out of the room, upset by this notion Brissot and him voluntarily omitted in my presence. I then decide to take a stroll around the city to calm my nerves and think about my future involvement with the organization.

As I walk towards my hotel, I hear an ear-splitting scream coming from a dead-end street. When I arrive, I am met with the vision of a wealthy man trying to abuse a woman that looks like a lady of the night. I choose to intervene in this situation by hitting the man’s face. He loosens his grip on the lady and she takes this opportunity to flee the scene rather quietly.

Unfortunately, the man turns to me very quickly, he has a knife and angrily decides to use it against me.

You know how they tell you to never go to bed angry? Well apparently, I’ll rest in anger for eternity…

Those were my thoughts as I floated towards the light… but something happened.

A voice asked me if I was satisfied with my time on Earth. It seemed to come from the light itself.

I paused a moment to answer that I was not, indeed, satisfied. I was even disgusted by the turn of events. I has always dreamed of leaving a mark in History, and there I was, dying while helping a prostitute.

The voice said that I could be given the chance to leave my mark under very specific conditions…

I am a pragmatic. I am a man of science. I do not believe in the afterlife or other absurdities of that sort. Yet, I did not hesitate to accept whatever the voice was offering. I need not hear the conditions : if I have a chance, I have to take it.

When I wake up in my room the next morning, I feel groggy, as if the previous night had been a nightmare. I ring Matilda to bring me the newspaper along with my morning coffee. Surprisingly enough, she doesn’t notice the peculiar headlines. It reads as follows :

“Albertus Rockwell gives up Death in order to have a life… Is he really prepared?”

Shocked but curious, I decide to read the whole issue. The first article casually says that I ought to be careful because the conditions I did not listen to were coming my way.

Feeling overwhelmed, I run to the bathroom to wash my face and clear my ideas. I settle to read the rest of the matter later. When I look into the mirror, my reflection seems strange. “What have I gotten myself into?” I end up saying out loud. After a few seconds of gazing into my eyes, the reflection – much to my surprise ; I think I broke Matilda’s sink at that moment– says :

“ONE : NO QUESTIONS ASKED.”