THE TABLE OF THE SEVEN SINNERS
‘It was built,’ the smallest man said, ‘originally for the encouragement of public virtue. To sit in it was to be subjected to the residuum of all your worst memories, keyed to the one of the core psychological weaknesses. Eventually after the Revolution had run its course and the time of the Intuitive Terror was over, it was locked away with all the other unhistorical artifacts; all the things we didn't like to admit we'd done.’
‘A sort of seige perilous,’ the curly haired man boomed,
shucking his multicoloured coat. I'm game, no ordeal can shake my resolve.’ He hesitated for a moment even so, between a blood red upholstered throne of a chair with a carved ruby eye set in its dark mahogany back, and a black spindly chair of iron with edges like razors.
‘I've always been tempted by anger and pride, but I doubt the Seige Prideful would stand up to me.’ His voice was mock ruthful. He drew back his foot to give it a hearty kick, but
seemed to think better of it.
‘We're just considering’
‘We haven't agreed yet why we are here,’ the untidy little man said, ‘being plonked down like skittles, and frankly if I'd wanted to be at everyone's beck and harry, I'd never have run away from home in the first place.’
The old man glared, ‘Run away from home? You make me sound like an errant schoolboy!’
‘Weren't we?’ the man in the smoking jacket asked, ‘if you face up to it. Didn't we want it all? Everything outside the iron prison yard. Everything that wasn't exile?’
‘Why!’ The tallest man exclaimed, ‘this is Gallifrey, nor am I out of it! Think you not I, who saw the ends of time and worlds beyond the scope of all our dusty years, am not tormented with ten thousand devils by being thus deprived of eternal bliss’
The eighth man held up a tentative hand, ‘Excuse me, would one of you mind explaining who you guys are?’ Hey, only kidding, I had this problem with amnesia, but it’s all fixed now.’
They gaped at him.
‘Yes, I know you all.’ He numbered them round the table starting with the old man. ‘One for sorrow..’ the little scruffy man, ‘Two for joy’.
The man in the smoking jacket leaned over, ‘Well he doesn’t remember you.’
‘He’s referring to my rendition of Beethoven’s Ode To Joy, for the Recorder,” Number Two hissed.
It was the Smoking Jacket’s turn. ‘Three for a girl’
Number Two beamed, ‘Fancy Pants!’
The tall bohemian took it on the chin, booming out ‘Four for a boy, ah I was a lad once’.
‘Five for silver,’ the fair hair of the cricketeer gleamed.
‘Six for gold,’ the curls of the man who until recently had worn the multicoloured coat, nodded as he smiled.
‘Seven for a secret never to be told.’
‘That,’ Number Seven said, ‘Is what we’re here to discuss.’
‘One to Seven,’ the forgetful man shouted, ‘I know you all now. You,’ he pointed at the old man who had levered himself up ramrod straight behind the table, ‘you were my old army sergeant. And you,’ he beamed at the scruffy little man, ‘you met me at the station with a magic box, or was that a dream. An evil wizard had stolen all the clergy and the Christmas Bells wouldn’t ring.‘ He ran up to the man in the velvet smoking jacket, and stopped puzzled. ‘But I remember you all raggedy’ He was almost pouting.
The man he’d accused of having a magic box sniggered, ‘Scarecrow,’ under his breath, and the third man scowled.
But the eighth man was after the bohemian now, only to be withered at a glance, as the fourth man lurched forward. ‘I? Oh yes, I was a dread sorceror, whether on the steps of Russia or the great oceans of the gulf of Arabia, I gave of myself to animate the inanimate, to heal the Czarina.’ He took a step towards the now scared, man – his eyes large and dark, ‘and in the end, I died and became a mentor in white in a House that Moved.’
‘Stop it,’ the fifth man said, ‘I thought we were here to help him.’
‘Let's hope its not the way he’ll remember you helping cows,’ the fourth man shouted eyes wild, ‘I’m the one he’ll remember if he remembers anyone.’
‘The one who was too stuck on himself to come out of a time eddy,’ Number Six said. ‘We’ve all had our chances, some here some there.’
‘We make the chances,’ the Seventh man said, ‘and what happens next here is up to us and to the Table.’