Contantine's trying to enjoy his first nights without Phoebe, but it's not going well at all - especially when a vision of a doctor from the black plague renders him unconscious.
The issue then flashes back to the 17th century as a plague doctor does his rounds, knocking on the door of a man called Fernby. The family assure the inspecting physician that the house is clean, but it's clear that he's more interested in what he can get from the family than their actual health. He offers the family a certificate of health, something that would let the family leave London for their family in Kent, if they let him sleep with their teenage daughter.
Back in the present day John wakes up in a hospital bed, where he is surprised to find Phoebe attending him. As she sees to John she brings up the 'date' at the end of the previous issue - the one she didn't attend. She apologises, saying that she couldn't walk through the door after she'd remembered John's lies about the scab children; he tells her that he wasn't there in the first place, having got Chas to wait for him. She's infuriated, but John says that things would never have worked out between them anyway. She leaves, telling him to stay put.
He doesn't. Instead he walks the streets of London at random until he comes across a building site for the 2012 London Olympics. He notices a piece of graffiti reading 'FUCK THE OLYMPICS' and emblazoned with a symbol of a plague doctor...
Back in the 17th century, Fernby pleads with a judge for a certificate of health but is denied. Increasingly panicked by the possibility of becoming infected by the plague, he goes to the church to pray - and wonders whether he will have to turn to the devil to escape.
In the present, John returns to the flat and, as he applies the last of Julian's skin, he listens to his friend Emil ranting. Emil's been out of the country for a little while as he's worried that the government are out to get him for his outspoken anti-Olympics stance. He believes that the Olympic committee's attempts to regenerate the city are destroying lives - and that his views have made him a target for the authorities. And now he wants to fight back.
Emil takes John out for a walk, explaining that the plague doctor graffiti was created by his team as a way of radicalising the people. A shortcut through a drainage tunnel leads to an Olympic building site - one that's just metres above a pit full of plague bodies. Emil asks John to stir up their spirits and get them to fight back, but before he can reply a voice behind him says, 'There are things worse than death...'
Back in the 17th century Fernby argues with his wife, saying that they should let the plague doctor sleep with their daughter...
...and back in the present day John feels the spirits getting stirred up. As he falls down with another headache, the ground begins to crack open, revealing a burning pit below from which the plague doctor rises.
Continued in Hellblazer issue 255.
- Emil was first mentioned in Hellblazer issue 251. He's the owner of the flat John was staying in.
- The issue came with a seven-page preview of the first issue of The Unwritten, by former Hellblazer writer Mike Carey.