"My God!" said Caruthers, staggering to a halt by the open hospital door. "We're too late!"
Theodore let out a startled cry, the stake and crucifix falling from his numb fingers as he caught his first glimpse of the evil one through the little round pane of glass. "The world! The world is DOOMED!"
Caruthers slapped him. "Damn it man, pull yourself together. We have to think of something!"
"There's nothing we can do! It was fortold by Nostradamus... He has arrived and we are all damned."
"Bloody hell," if there was one thing Caruthers had learned in his time fighting the forces of evil alongside young Theodore MacDougal, it was that his grasp of ancient prophesy was second to none. If Theodore said they were doomed, they were doomed. "I knew I should have had the full English breakfast at the B&B this morning. What's the point of having a low cholesterol level when the whole earth is about to be levelled by the hordes of evil?" He aimed a kick at a fallen bulb of garlic, sending it spinning through the maternity ward. "Are you sure this is what Nostradamus meant? The end of the world?"
Theodore nodded. "Positive. Nostradamus is never wrong. We're all doomed..."
Avignon Monastery of the Holly Seal Of Christ: Fifteen Sixty Three.
"Well I don't know, do I?" Brother Simon sat back on his hard wooden stool and rubbed his ink-stained palms across his eyes. "Can we not get some more sodding candles in here? Like trying to write inside a nun..."
"Well it's got to mean something, doesn't it?" said Brother Arbuthnot, pointing at the stretched badger entrails. "Looks a bit like sausages."
"You know, when I was wee I thought, I know: I'll sod off and become a monk. That'll be fun. Booze, women, fast horses, gambling, natty brown robes and a flash haircut... And now look at us."
"Come on, cheer up! Only five more prophesies to go and we can go get some boiled cabbage water for tea! God, I love boiled cabbage water night."
Brother Simon stood, carefully pulled back the sleeve of his scratchy brown robe, then smacked his companion over the back of the head.
"Owww! What was that for?"
"What do the notes say?"
"That really hurt!"
"You want another one?"
Brother Arbuthnot grabbed the scrap of paper off his desk and peered at it in the dim candlelight. "Something, something... An eagle? Or it might be a beagle. His handwriting's bloody appalling."
"Brilliant. 'Something, something eagle something.' Calls himself a bloody seer."
"How about... Ermm... March the fifth, Ares, you will meet a hairy man and he'll steal your chocolate bar. Lucky number is sixteen, lucky newspaper: tabloid."
"Owww! Stop doing that!"
"Idiot. It's got to be more arsey," Brother Simon pointed at the three cardinal rules, hung on the wall of their bare cell. Rule one: thy meaning must be sodding obscure. Rule two: if you understand rule one, it's not obscure enough. Rule three: whoever's birthday it is, buys the cakes. "'A hairy bloody man will steal your chocolate bar'..."
Brother Arbuthnot flinched. "Don't hit me!"
"No, what you want is more:" Striking a dramatic pose. "In the third month the Sun rising, the Boar and Leopard on the field of Mars to fight: The tired Leopard raises its eye to the heavens, sees an Eagle playing around the Sun."
Brother Simon let his arms drop back by his side, then shot Arbuthnot a wink. "See, that's how you prognosticate. Nostradamus can kiss my hairy, tonsured arse."
"Come on, I'm on a roll here. What's next?"
"Something about whelks and the end of days and the coming of the dark lord. Oh, and we have to chip in for the biscuit kitty. Someone's been helping themselves to the custard creams."
"OK... OK... whelks and sea and darkness..." Another pose. "Great Po, great evil will be received through Gauls, vain terror to the maritime Lion: People will pass by the sea in infinite numbers, Without a quarter of a million escaping."
"That's Eastbourne again, right?"
"How come every time we have a portent of great evil coming, you pick on Eastbourne?"
Brother Simon shrugged. "Dunno. Just seems to fit somehow... Still, look on the bright side, we'll be well dead by the time whatever it is arrives."
Four hundred and forty four years later John Rickards Junior is born. Coincidence? I think not...