Read Liberation (I Am Margaret Book 3) Online
Authors: Corinna Turner
PRAISE FOR I AM MARGARET
Great style – very good characters and pace.
Definitely a book worth reading, like The Hunger Games.
EOIN COLFER, author of the
An intelligent, well-written and enjoyable debut from
a young writer with a bright future.
STEWART ROSS, author of
The Soterion Incident
I AM MARGARET was awarded the ‘Seal of Approval’ by the
Catholic Writers Guild
in November 2014
PRAISE FOR THE THREE MOST WANTED
I cannot reiterate enough how much I am enjoying these books, and how talented this author is.
TIFFANY, blogger, ‘Life of a Catholic Librarian’
The I AM MARGARET Series:
I Am Margaret
The Three Most Wanted
Bane’s Eyes (out Summer 2015)
Copyright 2014 Corinna Turner
ISBN: 978-1-903858-09-7 (ebook)
Also available as a Paperback
Kindle Edition, License Notes
This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to your favourite ebook retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
Map of the Citadel, Malta and Gozo, and partial map of the Mediterranean
Chapter 2 – The Two Headed Snake
Chapter 6 – Schoolboys in a Sweetshop
Chapter 12 – Never-All-Right-Again-Ness
Chapter 14 – The Impatient Gardener
Chapter 15 – Guilty and Desperate
Chapter 16 – The Face of the Underground
Chapter 18 – Safety in Numbers
Chapter 19 – Silver Doves and Candles
Chapter 20 – The Cardinal Rule
Chapter 21 – A Superfluity of Bridesmaids (and Ribbons)
Chapter 22 – You May Now Kiss the Bridegroom
Chapter 24 – Kicked in the Stomach by a Carthorse Wearing Spiked Shoes
“If I cannot do my duty without peril and dangers,
yet by God's grace I will not be slacker for them.”
St Margaret Clitherow (1556 – 1586)
EYES AND IDEAS
Harsh daylight burned through my eyelids. I opened my eyes.
A beach. A bleak, barren beach. Bodies lay all around, sodden and dead. I scrambled to my feet and began searching. Familiar faces, all of them, from the flight from the Vatican. Bane, where’s Bane… I couldn’t be the only one alive. Jon, oh Lord! He couldn’t swim, he was injured… but he had a life jacket. Bane… Bane, where are you…
Running now, running along the beach, my eyes scanning the sand for coal black hair… I ran and ran ‘til I tripped and fell – sat up, panting in terror. A woodland glade. Dappling sunlight. Beautiful. But I had to find my way back to the beach and Bane…
Someone was blundering through the trees – my heart rose in an absurd wave of hope.
But the slender figure who stumbled into the glade had blond, blood-soaked hair. Not Bane.
The man turned empty eye sockets to me and rage choked my heart.
“Is there someone there?” he asked politely.
The rage prisoned me and the cold, angry, not-Margaret who suddenly controlled my tongue made no reply.
“I’m looking for my eyes,” said the bedraggled blind man. “I don’t suppose you’ve seen them?”
Not-Margaret looked down. My hands held two slick round things. When I opened my fingers emerald green pupils stared up at me like reflections of my own.
“Please? Have you seen them anywhere? I really need them back.”
I wanted to give them to him. Wanted it so much. But trapped in the back of my head, I couldn’t.
Not-Margaret eyed the Major with cruel eyes.
“Sorry,” I heard myself say, “I haven’t seen them.”
My hands closed viciously around those precious orbs. They burst, liquid dripping over my fingers as agony exploded in my eye sockets and the world went black as night. I reeled, slimy hands clutching my slimy face. I could see nothing…
A hand brushed my arm, gripped it.
“I hear soldiers!” The Major’s voice – an urgent hiss. “We should go.”
He wanted me to lead us to safety. Inside, I moaned in horror, floundering in the darkness, helpless as he was, but not-Margaret laughed in my head and didn’t move. She wanted him to be caught.
“Please? Let’s go…” A thread of fear finally touched his calm voice.
I felt myself shake him off, heard myself say, “Burn in hell!”
“Who are you?
” His voice moved as though he’d stepped back suddenly.
Heavy boots rushed into the clearing all around us, harsh hands wrestled me to the ground, my cheek pressing into soft grass – beside me the horrible, horrible sounds of a man being beaten to death with rifle butts... on and on... and finally... silence.
Something struck me – on the back of the head – blackness swallowed me…
…I could see again! Laudamus Domine! But…
I lay on a gurney.
...My lungs were heaving in enough air for a scream that would easily wake the whole corridor – I’d proved
often enough already. Grabbing the pillow, I buried my face in it and managed to let out the breath in more of a shuddering moan.
My lungs promptly began dragging air in for another try.
Silly little whimpering sounds crawling from my throat, I grabbed my dressing gown and bolted out into the passage, darting past Jon’s door and grabbing the handle of the next without doing more than brush my knuckles against the wood.
Moonlight streamed through carelessly drawn curtains and I saw Bane start upright, his hand, even after several weeks of blissful – comparative – safety, slipping underneath his pillow.
I’d just launched myself on him, flattening him against his pillows and burying my face against his chest, still fighting back those screams. His arms wrapped around me.
“It’s okay, Margo, it’s okay. Just a nightmare. Nothing’s going to hurt you.”
He held me, and rocked me, and rubbed my back, and I began to cry. Quieter than screaming, at least. Turned out there’d been unexpected advantages to being too hungry and exhausted to remember my dreams.
Bane went on pouring quiet comfort into my ear until my tears trailed off into smothered gulps, then groped for his dressing gown.
“Come on,” he said. “Let’s go to the TV room and I’ll get you a hot drink from the kitchenette.”
...Voices in the corridor. I blinked in the morning light.
“Seen Margaret, Jon?” Father Mark.
“Nope. Not ever.”
“Ah… you know what I mean.”
“Wasn’t in Mass, was she? I’m guessing she’s in here, then.”
Oh bother. There was a cushion under my cheek, not a pillow – I was in the TV room. Bane was slumped in the armchair opposite, just raising his head – and my alarm was back in my own room, unheard.
Jon’s head appeared around the door. “Margo?”
Thanks, Jon. You could’ve just said, I’ll let her know you’re looking for her…
Father Mark looked around the door as well, glanced at Bane and raised one eyebrow. More in an appeal for caution than in censure.
Blushing, I scrambled off the sofa and headed for the door, tying my dressing gown cord, but Bane made it into the passage ahead of me and punched Jon in the arm hard enough to make him drop his ‘long eye’.
“Ow! What was that for?” Fully dressed and leaning heavily on the thicker stick in his left hand, Jon poked around rather ineffectively with his foot.
Father Mark retrieved the thin stick for him, laughing.
“Margo’s parish priest just caught her spending the night in a room with a young man not yet her husband and you have to ask?”
Jon pulled a face.
“It’s not like they’re
“Your faith in their self-control is touching and, ah… potentially rather optimistic, I imagine. Anyway, the Holy Father would like to see you three.”
“Right now?” I said, aghast.
“Well, I think that’s what he had in mind. Of course, I’m sure he thought you were dressed already. So let’s just say a.s.a.p.”
“Aargh!” I headed along the corridor towards my room.
“Is it about my idea?” demanded Bane.
“I suspect so,” replied Father Mark emotionlessly. “He said I might want to sit in on the meeting.”
Only one of his skill sets made Father Mark speak in that tone. I shut my door behind me and hastily scrambled into my clothes. Light cotton things, it was so hot here. When I hurried back out Bane had beaten me to it. We headed off along the passage at Jon’s slow pace, my stomach rumbling audibly.
“You two go on ahead and grab something from the
,” said Jon. “You’ll still be there before me.”
“Okay, see you there.”
Bane and I quickly left Jon and Father Mark behind. The bullet hole in Jon’s leg was almost healed – the one in his side had a bit further to go. He was getting around, now, slowly and painfully. At least the Citadel was tiny.
Munching on Mediterranean sausage slapped between two slices of bread, we caught them up again as they crossed the sunken square. The little cathedral towered on our right, facing the wall and the gates at the lower end. Behind us was the old chapter house, now being used as living quarters for the staff of this miniaturised Holy See; ahead loomed the ancient Law Courts and administrative buildings of the former island state, being used by us for much the same purpose – the second purpose, anyway.
“Not too bruised, Jon?” I asked him.
a little tactless of me, wasn’t it?”
“A little.” I gave him my arm as we started up the steps on the other side of the square. Bane took his other arm and he didn’t protest, pausing at the top and leaning on the rail, breathing hard.
“Okay?” I checked.
“Fine. Fine. Let’s go.”
We trooped along the walkway and in through the main entrance. Two Swiss guards stood on either side just within, recognisable only by their ramrod-straight poise. Their cheerful red, orange and blue uniforms were packed away somewhere – Eduardo didn’t want anything bright or distinctive on show – even excessive loitering out of doors was discouraged.
Father Mark slipped off the long light-weight coat he’d thrown on over his cassock and hung it on a hook with several others, waiting to be used by people going back the other way. Sooner or later the EuroGov would figure out that the mother lode of the Vatican State hadn’t arrived in Africa and satellite pictures were one of the first things they’d be scrutinising.
Pushing the EuroGov to the back of my mind, I’d just eaten my last few bites of breakfast when we reached Pope Cornelius’s office. He rose to greet us as we entered, smiling. An energetic seventy-odd, he had kindly blue eyes and almost a complete head of snow-white hair.
“Margaret, you look tired,” he said, fixing those eyes on me now.
Tired. He could talk. The few weeks since the loss of his old friend Cardinal Hans had graven extra lines onto his weathered face.
“I just didn’t sleep very well, Your Holiness.”
He slept one floor up, but nothing was secret in a community of barely sixty people.
“Well, I pray they go away soon. Oh my,
. I’m a fool, I should’ve come across to you…”
“I’m fine.” Jon lowered himself into the nearest chair. “The exercise is good for me. And now I know where your office is.”
“Well, you’re here now. Bane, Mark, good to see you, sit down, everyone.”
Pope Cornelius settled himself behind his desk as I took a seat in front of it. Bane and Father Mark grabbed Jon’s chair and had moved it forward before he could finish protesting again just how all right he was, then pulled up chairs and sat as well.
“So, Bane,” said the Holy Father. “We’ve been so busy getting set up here – and you three definitely needed some recuperation time – but I hope you didn’t think I’d forgotten about the idea you so briefly laid out on board the
. Emptying Facilities?”
“That’s right,” said Bane. Jon and Father Mark listened without surprise. Bane had spent most of the last couple of weeks discussing the idea with anyone who could conceivably help, intellectually or practically.
Pope Cornelius spread his hands invitingly, so Bane took a deep breath.
“Right. Well. Way I see it, the thing we need above all is for people’s consciences to be stirred up enough for them to actually act on them. And I noticed as we crossed Europe that emptying Salperton Facility to save Margo had pricked rather a lot of consciences.
“But everyone will be saying to themselves, ah, yes, but he had a Resistance cell in his pocket. So we need to do it again. As many times as possible. Without any Resistance cell. Prove if you want to save someone enough, you can.”
“And if we start doing it,” I put in, “it will spread hope. And that will end the silent acceptance of Sorting almost overnight.”
will hugely undermine the EuroGov,” said Jon. “The EuroGov and the EuroBloc Genetics Department are pretty much one and the same, after all.”
Pope Cornelius listened attentively and now nodded slowly.
“Yes. This is how I see it as well. Eduardo too. So the question is, how will you do it?”
Talk about cutting to the difficult questions.
“We’ll need nonLethals,” said Bane firmly. “Margo is adamant we mustn’t injure any guards if we can possibly help it and I think she’s right. We can’t go around hurting people’s sons, husbands and fathers for doing something all of society is responsible for. Actually, I think we could, morally, to save innocents – unless I’m misunderstanding you people’s ideas – but it won’t help overthrow the EuroGov, will it?”
The Holy Father raised a hand, palm downwards, and tilted it from side to side.
“You could, with a strict application of the duty to save the lives of the innocent, make a case for killing or injuring Facility guards in that cause. But with the social situation I would find it an unpalatable interpretation – harming the guards would be too like harming innocents in itself. And the
reason for using nonlethal force is indisputable. So how will you acquire these weapons?”
“I think we know someone who can help. Mostly with advice – we’re not killing anyone to get the weapons either. His name’s Luciano Viscenti and he’s the leader of the Milan Resistance.”
“You really think he’ll help us? The Italian Resistance haven’t exactly distinguished themselves recently.”
cell got in bed with the EuroGov, not the Milanese. Luciano tried to stop them.”
“Ah, this is the man who brought you to Rome? I still think this is a totally different kettle of fish. They don’t like us, they don’t understand us and they don’t