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Authors: Morgan Gallagher

Tags: #supernatural, #tarot, #maryam michael

The Fool

The Fool


Morgan Gallagher

Osier Publishing

By Morgan Gallagher
© Copyright 2015 Morgan Gallagher

Discover other titles by Morgan Gallagher

Contact Morgan Gallagher:
Twitter @DreyfussTrilogy

Editing by Toni Rakestraw,
The moral rights of the author and artist have been asserted.
All rights reserved.

No part of this publication may be
reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any
form or by any means, electronic, mechanical or otherwise, without
the written permission of the publisher.

All characters and locations within this work
are fictitious and any resemblance to real people or places is
entirely coincidental.

This ebook is licensed for your personal
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hard work of this author.

This book is dedicated to my husband, David.
A wicked cool researcher, a brilliant maker of tea, an astoundingly
good giver of cuddles, and a fantastic father. His research skills
in particular, make my life so much easier. Usually. Some days we
require family therapy, to see eye to eye on conflicting
information. Therefore, in the spirit of marriage, I wish to make
one thing clear: all the good bits are mine, and all the mistakes,

—Morgan Gallagher, Scottish Borders, April

Table of Contents

The Fool

Other Books by the Author

About the Author


Maryam Michael woke as she always did, in
the dark. She left her curtains open so that when she woke, the
night was in the room with her. Sometimes this meant she awoke in
perfect darkness with a cloudy sky robbing all the night of light.
At other times she woke in brilliant moonlight, so bright she could
see her reflection in her dressing table mirror. This morning the
shallow dark of a star-studded sky greeted her, and she rose and
stared out her window, beginning her day with starlight and
chanting. Here, in the quiet of her country retreat, there was no
artificial light on the horizon, nothing to interfere with the sky
and her communion with it.

After so many years enclosed, she had come
to love the expanse of an unfettered sky. When she had left her
cell behind, with all its quiet memories and soul devoted comforts,
she had immediately relished the freedom of the sky. For years her
sky had been small, distant, dissected into squares. A thing that
she could glimpse now and then but which was out there, outwith the
walls of her inner life. Now she embraced it as an equal, although
she shied from that as an analogy; how could any single,
insignificant human soul be equal to the sky?

Like everything in her new life, her
routine, her habit, was a mixture of old and new. Carefully
preserving the aspects that she’d found useful, adding to them new
rituals and experiences that enriched who she now was. Therefore
when she finished her chanting and had rung the temple bell that
hung at her window three times, she bowed to the sky and went
through to her toilette. A warm shower, the body washed and the
hair cleaned through, she returned to her boudoir to dress. Rather
than the ritual of prayer that once accompanied the taking off of
her night attire and its immediate replacement with her day attire,
she relished the freedom to sit naked at her mirror and dance
cosmetics across her skin. The lightest of touches of moisturisers
and foundation, a faint blush to the cheeks, a perfect contour of
shade across her storm grey eyes, the lick of dark mascara defining
her long lashes and a minute sheen of soft colour across her

Her hair, as short as it ever had been, fell
into perfect layers, a testament to scissors as sharp as the talent
of the hairdresser that had yielded them. It required but one comb
through to settle smoothly, revealing her cheekbones in a way
striking to any women of her age. A cloistered youth had left her
with excellent skin and when she had taken off her coif her shock
of silver hair had been a surprise. Then it had been unusual for a
woman to go gray so completely by the time she had entered her 40s.
Now she was unusual only in that she choose not to colour it to
mimic youth. Her youth still came from inside. She found that her
age gave her a gravitas that she had sorely needed early in her
life and valued tremendously now it had arrived. It was not
something she was prepared to deny or to hide.

She dressed in delicate satin and lace
underwear, bespoke to her slender body, and finished with house
pyjamas and a long house coat in linen. Today would be spent in
paperwork and she would appreciate the soft warmth and flow of the
casual lines. She had always enjoyed the feel of cloth as she moved
and relished that she could now indulge her tastes in any fabric
and colour.

Although she rarely chose colour: her
pyjamas were black and her housecoat grey. Monochrome was still a
feature of her attire. She slipped soft leather slippers on and
went downstairs to the kitchen. The aroma from the coffee maker
drew her in and she poured herself a bowl. The timer was set so
that she invariably arrived just as the last few precious drops
trickled into the jug. She breathed in the warmth, holding the bowl
in both hands and tip-toed over the flagstone floor, slipping into
her study without waking up the Irish wolfhound that slept across
the back door. Edith, her housekeeper, would wake the behemoth when
she pushed open the door in a couple of hours. Once, Cullain would
have woken the second she rose and would have been at the kitchen
door whining and scratching when she came down. Now, even the
gurgling of the machine barely caused an eyelid to flutter. He was
getting old and knew he would be ignored until she’d eaten. So he
stayed asleep and she got more work done: it suited them both.


She had two reports to file for the Vatican
and two articles to translate from Aramaic, both for an American
university. The Aramaic texts were proving to be difficult and she
put her just awake mind to them first. After an hour, when her
forehead had begun to pound, she fetched more coffee and switched
to sorting out the references. She hated referencing her work and
always had to make herself do it as she went, in order to prevent
two weeks of agony at the end. Referencing was always a time for
her to consider her faults and sins; she often felt doing them was
some sort of penance.

By the time Edith arrived two hours after
that, bringing fresh croissants and bread, Maryam was grey with
fatigue. It was good fatigue, but her head hurt and her eyes stung.
Edith tutted at her as she called her through for a warming bowl of
sweet oatmeal. Maryam ignored the tutting, eating her portion
whilst scratching the back of Cullain’s hairy ears. Edith was not
backward in coming forward with her ideas about how hard work, tiny
amounts of food and very little sleep would ruin a person’s health.
Maryam, who’d found that slightly less sleep than you needed,
combined with slightly less food than you needed and a good solid
day’s work kept you agile and fit, ignored her. Edith fed Cullain
his breakfast as Maryam finished hers by dunking a croissant in
another bowl of hot coffee: sweet indulgence was good for the body
and the soul.

She changed into her outside clothes and
donned her thick boots and took Cullain out for his morning tramp
through the woods and hills. It was brisk and none too warm, clouds
scudded by and wind pulled at them both, but it was refreshing.
Cullain came alive on his walks and there was great pleasure in
watching him enjoy the scents and intrigues of other wildlife and
the undergrowth. Her legs were aching when she returned two hours
later and the aroma of the quail Edith was preparing for luncheon
was delectable. A shower, and then an hour or so of more
translation before eating... and then she could spend the afternoon
reading for leisure. As she started up the stairs the phone rang.
Edith popped her head around the kitchen door as she answered and
tutted. The switch to Italian and her tone were unmistakable. Edith
returned to the kitchen, clanging pots and pans. Madame was going
on her travels again, and this lunch and the dinner she was half
way through preparing would now be fed to the beast. How on earth
was she going to get her layabout son to walk Madame’s wolf dog at
this time of year?

When Maryam finished the conversation, she
phoned the local taxi company and requested they pick her up in
thirty minutes, to drive her to Marseille. Edith did some more
banging as she packed a decent lunch for Madame.


Thirty minutes was tight, but she could make
one of the afternoon’s TGVs to Lille if she hurried. Maryam
downloaded the files the Cardinal promised had been sent through,
and packed up her electronics and their all important leads:
laptop, phone, chargers and electricity converters for the various
European voltages. She showered the sweat off, dressed, and packed
her clothing and personal items in under ten minutes. Her work kit
was always full and ready to go; Edith took the three cases outside
whilst she hugged Cullain goodbye. Cullain whimpered and look
sorrowful but was asleep before she left the kitchen. She picked up
her heavy wool coat with its scarves and gloves in the pockets as
she left. The driver was eager, intent on carving a few minutes off
the hour drive; the local drivers loved to compete on such runs.
Edith looked grim as Maryam waved goodbye to her and Maryam felt
that grimness inside: she detested being called to work on a


She munched on her luncheon as they drove,
sharing it with Alain, the driver. Edith had packed enough for
three. They made the TVG comfortably and Maryam booked through to
London on the train she had aimed for. Lille was a faster journey
and transfer than Paris; she should be in London by late evening.
She set up in the business lounge before they left and was able to
call ahead and give her estimated arrival time before switching her
phone off.

Her slender frame in the luxurious chairs
allowed her to settle diagonally into her chair, with the laptop
screen facing away from the casual eye. She’d positioned herself at
the far end of the carriage, able to see all who approached in one
direction and the opening door to her side warning her in the
other. She closed the screen down at the stations: nothing of what
she was viewing could, or should, be seen by the casual eye.

What she was viewing was disturbing enough
in print; thankfully there were few photographs. That there were
photographs at all warned her that some political connection had
already been brought into play.


The murder had occurred in the Church of the
Mother of All Sorrows, in Peckham, London. A young man had been
spread out on the altar and his body slashed. He was naked and had
been laid out in the shape of the crucifixion. A series of long
cuts had caused a bleed out. The photos showed blood running off
the altar and pooling on the floor. From the amount of blood,
Maryam was sure the young man had died from exsanguination: he’d
literally bled to death on the altar. He was seventeen years

The slashes were neither random nor without
meaning. They slid in shallow swoops that had encouraged slow,
deliberate, bleeding. They were also words that had been scrawled
onto his flesh. It wasn’t English or Latin, or even Greek, but
Arabic script. The translation she’d received from Rome suggested
that the writing stated that the man had died as he was a pig and
therefore unclean. Not entirely trusting either the transcription
from the wounds, or the translation, she spent a good hour working
through the photos and sketches made by the police, piecing
together what she hoped was a rather more accurate version. The
script claimed that the man had been cleansed and made mention of a
Jinn. There were also random words on his limbs: swine, defiler,
heretic, but the gist was that he had been killed to cleanse him of
his stain. She was unsure if it was ‘stain’, and hoped she could
get a clearer understanding of the writing at some point.


Feeling both repulsed, and so terribly sad
for the young man and his stolen life, she switched everything off
and sat, her eyes closed, feeling the rhythm of the train as it
shot through the countryside. She’d learned that when faced with
horror, with death and blood and violence, that meditating was the
way to find safety. Once, she’d have prayed; prayed so hard that
she would partially achieve an out of body feeling, a sense of
spiritual release and ecstasy. She’d found, however, that this
could be an emotion just as deceiving as despair; different edges
of the same blade. Calm and lack was a more fitting home for the
troubled spirit. A core of emptiness from which to observe and
record; catalogue and process as opposed to feel. Prayer was
feeling; meditation was absence. In absence, there was room for
logic to examine the horror: to allow deliberation upon it that
could leave her essence untouched.

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