The Fulham Fiend: Chapter 4

The room was small and lit by candles, barely illuminating the exotic and occult paraphernalia scattered around. There was a table in the centre, and a woman wearing a turban was sitting facing the door. Sir John entered the room.

“Miss Gypsy Rosa Marvelosa?” he asked.

“Who wishes to know?” said the woman haughtily.

“Er, I do,” said Sir John, sounding puzzled.

The woman looked at him balefully.

“You seek wisdom?” she asked.

“Yes,” said Sir John. “I’m looking for …

“Shush,” interrupted the woman. “Sit. The cards will tell me all.”

She shuffled a deck of cards whilst looking into middle distance. Sir John sat hesitantly in front of her. She drew 3 tarot cards from the pack and they both looked down at them. They were Death, The Tower, and The Hanged Man.

“That’s good?” asked Sir John.

“Are you thinking of making any long term business investments?” asked the woman.

“Not really,” said Sir John.

“That’s probably for the best,” she said and cleared away the cards. “Let me try something else.”

She produced a crystal ball and began staring into it, humming lightly. Sir John produced a small magnifying lens on a stick and peered into it.

“What are you doing?” asked the woman.

“Are you aware that object has no magical properties?” asked Sir John.

The woman moved the ball away, and Sir John pocketed his lens.

ff chapter 4“That’s Good?”

“What is it you want?” asked the woman.

“I am looking for … a creature of the night,” said Sir John.

“Well, if you go down the docks any evening you should find plenty,” she said.

“Really?” said Sir John. “I had no idea.”

“Yes,” she said. “There are women of every shape and size.”

“Oh,” said Sir John, “I think I’m looking for a man.” The woman looked surprised.

“Well, I imagine there are quite a few of them, too,” she said. “I’m not really up on that sort of thing.”

“Good Lord! How many vampires are there in London!” said Sir John.

“Vampires?” said the woman.

“Of course,” said Sir John. “What did you mean?”

“I … never mind,” said the woman. “I only know of one vampire.” She started writing something down.

“Is that an incantation to summon him?” said Sir John.

The woman handed Sir John the piece of paper.

“It’s his address,” she said.

“Marvellous!” said Sir John. “What do I owe you.”

“You must cross my palm with silver,” said the woman. “Two and six to be precise.”

“Oh, I only have a shilling” said Sir John.

“A shilling!” said the woman, eyes blazing. “Are you aware of the power of a gypsy curse?” At that point, Marie entered the room. The woman instantly pushed her chair back and stared in terror at her.

Mon cher!” Marie said. Her eyes looked red.

“Darling!” said Sir John. “Do you have any money?”

“Oh, don’t worry, it’s no trouble, no trouble at all,” said Gypsy Rosa. “A pleasure to help you, sir.”

“I thought you said …” started Sir John handing over the shilling. The woman looked at it in horror and backed away.

“Keep it! Happy to help. Need to close now, though. Getting late.” She quickly went out of the back of the room. “Please see yourselves out.”

“Well,” said Sir John to Marie, holding up the bit of paper, “you were right! I’ve had rather a bit of luck.”

Formica Mechanica

The Benthic Times is currently enjoying a sojourn in the United States of America. We rather enjoy the country, but we have found ourselves in a few scrapes. For example, in Southern California we were pursued by a species of giant mechanical ant.

Despite their size, they are mercifully slow and so we managed to find an building to hide in. We just shut the doors as one of the monstrous creatures crashed into it, its antennae protruding through the wood. Overcoming our obvious terror, we managed to procure a photograph of evidence of our adventure…

ants

The Fulham Fiend: Chapter 3

Marie walked into the wasteland and looked around her. This was the place the detectives had said the girl was murdered. She wandered around a little before discreetly letting a small pendant dangle from her right hand. She walked around some more, keeping her eye on the pendant. After a little while she stopped and looked puzzled.

She glanced up at a pile of rags on the edge of the scrubby area. It seemed to move suddenly, and Marie strode towards the pile. When she was a few feet away she looked down at it.

Chapter 3“Quelle Horreur!”

“’Ello?” she said.

“Your one of them, aincha?” said a voice from the pile. “Like me grandmother.”

“French?” said Marie, looking puzzled.

“No, no.” said the pile. “I’m not a Frenchy. No, you’re a … a clever lady. A wise woman.”

“Oh,” said Marie, “yes, I suppose so.”

A dirty old face appeared above the pile. It sniffed.

“Thought so,” he said. “I can tell these things.”

“Can you tell me about the girl?” said Marie. “It was you that saw her, yes?”

The man nodded.

“Yes, I seen it. Horrible thing, don’t care to dwell on it,” he said. “But you doesn’t need me to tell you. You can just look-see.”

“I don’t understand,” said Marie.

“You know, like me old granny used to,” said the decrepit looking man. Marie looked confused at him. He sighed, grabbed her hand, and put it to his forehead. Then …

Mon Dieu! What is this? You’re in my head now, seeing what I seen. Like my gran used to when she thought I’d been naughty. See, here’s what you want. The girl! And the vam … the fiend! She’s walking so strange, so carefully, like she’s in a dream. Maybe she had a little sip of liquor. Maybe, she seems … distracted. The man is so very tall and … with a hood? Oh, they’re stopping. This is it miss, are you sure you want to see this. Yes, yes I must … it’s, oh that’s awful. She doesn’t move. Doesn’t react, and he … I thought they was kissing, see, cos she does that little shudder. Oh! Quelle horreur! That’s her dying, I think. She’s falling now. And see, he just turns and leaves her there. His face! His face is so white, and his eyes are shining. I don’t see no eyes miss, just that cold, pale face and … Why is it dark now? Well, I hid miss, in me pile of clothes. Pulled me head in as I didn’t want to be seen. I can hear his footsteps. Yes, miss, slow ain’t they. Like he’s got all the time in the world.

… he let go of Marie’s hand and she staggered back. Her hand went to her mouth, and tears came down her face.

“I’m sorry miss,” said the man. “That weren’t a pleasant thing.”

“No, that was ‘orrible,” she said. “But now, now I have seen him.”

Cat Got Them, Perchance?

As part of the relocation of The Benthic Times we have inherited this lovely ornate piece of fireplace paraphernalia.

fireplace sepia

I’m rather taken with it, but the writer in me can’t help wondering what happened to the original tongs…

“Reginald! Use the tongs to pinch it’s nose, those are toxic fumes spewing from them…oh my word! It breathes fire!”

 

The Fulham Fiend: Chapter 2

Mon cher,” said Marie after the policemen had left, “this sounds very dangerous. Maybe we should not get involved. Maybe it would be better if it was someone else.”

Sir John was pacing round the room in an agitated manner, grasping a large glass of brandy.

“Well, I confronted that swine Clackprattle and no harm came to me,” he said, then took a large swig of brandy.

“But … vampires,” said Marie. “It’s a different thing, and we don’t know where to start even. We don’t have any books on these creatures.”

“Well, we can research, we can go to the British Library, they have every sort of book there,” said Sir John. He looked at his empty brandy glass. He crossed the room and opened the door. The maid fell into the room, clutching a glass tumbler.

FF Chapter 2“In Flagrante!”

“Marvellous!” said Sir John. “Could you fetch me another brandy bottle?”

“I’m sorry, Sir Jenkins,” started Mrs Flitwick.

“Jennings?” said Sir John.

“No Sir, Flitwick,” said the maid. “I’m sorry but I couldn’t help but overhear what you was saying.”

“I thought you were outside the room?” said Sir John looking puzzled.

“Yes, Sir Jenkins, I was, but I had this tumbler against the door. That’s what I couldn’t help. My previous employer had a meeting with some constables that didn’t end so well, so I wanted to make sure everything was alright before I found myself destitute again.”

“I see,’ said Sir John, still a little uncertain.

“So, I heard you mention something unmentionable, and it made me think of someone who might be able to help you, sir. She is a woman with uncanny abilities at seeing the future and finding hidden personages.”

“Go on,” said Sir John, “please explain.”

“Well sir, my sister’s husband went missing, and so my sister went to see this woman, the one I’m telling you about. This woman said that her husband was somewhere in Penge and that his life was in terrible danger, which turned out to be true.”

“How so?” said Sir John.

“Well, my sister’s best friend lives in Penge, so my sister went there to visit and found her friend with her husband … in flagrante,” said the maid, looking meaningful.

Sir John looked puzzled.

“Is that a foreign restaurant?” he said. Marie leaned over and whispered in his ear. He went bright red.

“Oh, yes,  I see, yes, so, er, what did your sister do?”

“She killed him sir, thus proving the fortune teller was right.”

“Very interesting,” said Sir John.

Marie sat up. “Where might we find this lady?” she said.

“Well, she’s in prison now, madam,” said Mrs Flitwick.

“No, I mean the fortune teller,” said Marie.

“Oh – she’s apparently called Gypsy Rosa Marvelosa, although I heard her real name is Agnes Pudding. She lives Hammersmith way and operates above a shop in the High Street.”

“Thank you, Mrs Flitwick,” said Marie. “You may go.”

“So, I don’t need to be packing?”

“Not at all,” said Marie. “Everything is perfectly fine.”

As the maid left, Marie turned to Sir John

“Why don’t you go see this woman?  I can go to the British Library for books,” she said.

“It doesn’t sound terribly … scientific,” said Sir John.

Mon cher,” said Marie. “We may learn something useful, and at worst it will be a minor diversion whilst the next steps become clear.”

Complimentary Literature

“Nice hat, it’s really rather fetching.”

Alternately, there is this…for modern devices.

http://madeleinedeste.com/2016/08/06/science-fiction-and-fantasy-free-book-promo-6th-and-7th-august/

 

The Fulham Fiend: Chapter 1

Marie and Sir John were sitting in the drawing room. Marie was working on some crochet and Sir John was reading the Times. He punctuated his reading with noises indicating astonishment, irritation, or pleasure in roughly equal measure. From time to time his hand would creep onto the table between them where there was a selection of biscuits. A biscuit would disappear behind the newspaper and the exclamations would be temporarily modified, if not reduced.

Suddenly there was a knock at the door and Sir John put down the paper and looked at the biscuit pile, which was much reduced.

“We get through these quickly don’t we!” he said to Marie, before turning to the door. “Come in!”

The door opened and the Jennings’ maid came in.

“Excuse me, Sir Jenkins, Mrs Jenkins, but there’s two policemen to see you.”

“It’s Jennings, Mrs Flitwick,” said Sir John gently.

“No,” said Mrs Flitwick, “it’s Dawlish and Symonds. Shall I show them in?”

“Please,” said Sir John, looking deflated.

FF Ch1“Bite Marks?”

The maid showed in the two detectives, who stood awkwardly in the doorway.

“Welcome!” said Sir John, “I am Sir John and this is my wife.”

“Good afternoon, Sir John,” said Dawlish, glancing at Marie. “We’d like to speak to you in a professional capacity.”

“Oh, good!” said Sir John. “Please sit!”

Dawlish and Symonds glanced at each other.

“Should Mr Jennings be present?” asked Symonds.

“I don’t catch you?” said Sir John.

“Jennings and Jennings?” said Dawlish.

“Oh!” said Sir John, “Mrs Jennings is the other Jennings.”

The two detectives both looked shocked.

“This … may not be a suitable topic … for a woman,” said Dawlish.

“Why ever not?” said Sir John. “Mrs Jennings has proved herself more than capable on our paranormal investigations.”

“It concerns murder,” said Symonds, “… of girls. Rather grisly murder.”

“The people murdered are girls?” said Marie.

“Yes, madam,” said Symonds.

“Do you know why these girls were murdered?” said Marie.

“No, madam,” said Symonds.

“Are any girls helping you to find out why?” said Marie.

“No, madam,” said Symonds.

“Have you spoken to any girls about the case at all?” said Marie.

“Again, no, madam,” said Symonds.

“Then maybe a woman will be ‘elpful,” said Marie. “Many of them used to be girls, you know.”

“Actually, now I’m confused,” said Sir John. “If this is murder, then why do you need us. We are primarily, well, we are actually, paranormal investigators.”

Dawlish sighed and sat down.

“I shall explain,” he said. “Then you can decide if you want to help. You see, there is an aspect to these murders that you won’t find in the papers. The girls have two marks on their necks. They look like … bite marks. They have been drained of their blood. And they were all … pure.”

“Pure?” said Sir John.

“As snow,” said Symonds.

Sir John still looked puzzled.

“They were untouched, Sir John,” said Dawlish.

“Their flowers were unplucked,” added Symonds.

“Their ships were unsailed,” continued Dawlish.

Sir John looked confused still, and Marie leaned in and whispered in his ear. He turned red.

“Right, I see, yes, I understand,” he said.

“For the last killing there was a witness, of sorts,” said Symonds. “His testimony is a little suspect, but he told us the killer was tall, very pale, and did not look human.”

“You see now, Sir John, why we want your help,” said Dawlish. “All the evidence suggests we are looking for a tall, pale, inhuman creature that sucks the blood of pure girls.”

“My God!” said Sir John, “a vampire!”

Now, Writer

Charles_Dickens_3A writer, most likely awake at night

Dear Reader

We believe that some of you are also dear writers, so we’d like to introduce you to a web community that an acquaintance of ours is hoping to build. It is aimed at wordsmiths willing and able to critique each others work. The idea, if we have it correctly, is to move beyond the usual grammatical and typographical commentary into an analysis of the more ephemeral side: tone, character, voice and all those other marvellous things that keep a writer awake at night.

Here is the link to this venture – Now Writer

Kind Regards

The Jennings

 

 

 

The Fulham Fiend: Prologue

The morning was cold and the fog was barely burning off as the wan sun struggled to push through a blanket of clouds. A middle-aged man, bowler hat, inexpensive suit, was walking across a patch of wasteland. In one hand he held a piece of paper and in the other a pipe from which he took deep drags. He came to a halt just before a younger looking man, also wearing a suit.

“Another one, Symonds?” said the older man.

“Yes, Inspector Dawlish,” said the Symonds, “just like the others.”

“The same…” started Dawlish, pointing to his neck.

“Indeed, let me show you,” said Symonds and indicated ahead. They walked off together and shortly came to the body of a young girl. A single constable was standing nearby, guarding the body, although it seemed the area was abandoned. The ground was covered by rubbish and effluence and a pungent, animal odour permeated through the fog. Dawlish looked down at the body and grunted. He bent down to examine it and took a pen from his jacket. The girl was dressed modestly with an attempt at the modern style. Dawlish pulled back the collar and saw what he was expecting. Two puncture marks. He looked at the girl’s face and noted how pale she looked. He stood back up and had to steady himself as the blood rushed to his head.

“Was she… like the others also in… temperament,” said Dawlish.

“I’m making enquiries,” said Symonds. “I believe she worked as a governess. I imagine I’ll know more when I speak to the family.”

“A bloody waste,” said Dawlish, looking down, “and we’re no further to finding the swine. I presume no witnesses again?”

“That at least is different,” said Symonds. “Although I don’t think our witness will be terribly helpful. He’s over here by this building.”

“Well, it’s something,” said Dawlish and the two men walked towards where Symonds had indicated.

FFprologue“Another One.”

“Inspector Dawlish,” said Symonds, “we need help with this. We need someone with specialist skills. It’s one a week now.”

“I’m aware of that,” said Dawlish, “but our best man’s away. In Switzerland, apparently.”

“There is this,” said Symonds, producing a copy of the Times and showing Dawlish a page.

“Washing taken in, enquire Miss Scrote, Cheapside?” said Dawlish.

“No,” said Symonds, “this other one.”

Dawlish read the paper then grunted.

“We don’t know that we need that sort of thing,” he said. “This could just be some fiend of a man. There might be a rational explanation.”

The men came to a pile of rags against the wall. Dawlish looked puzzled and Symonds leant down and spoke slowly to the pile.

“Mr Fringebucket? The inspector is here now. He would like to hear what you told me.”

The rags moved and roiled and a head poked out the top. The aging man’s eyes looked around wildly and he blinked and stared at the men. He cracked something like a smile although most of his teeth were missing. His skin was riven by marks of disease or violence.

“You want to know about the girl?” said Fringebucket.

“Yes,” said Symonds, “please, just as you told me.”

“You forgot already?” asked Fringebucket, looking confused.

“No, Mr Fringebucket, I just want you to explain to the Inspector.”

Fringebucket shrugged then started his tale.

“She come from over there, see, with this other one. That one must be, oh, six foot, maybe taller. So they walks over together and I just think, maybe they’re sweethearts or something. Then I was sure, cos he leans over her. Leans like he’s kissing her. And she leans into him, see… like she likes being kissed. A bit bold in public, I thinks, but then he steps back, and she falls to the ground. Then he turns and walks away. Not runs, walks.”

“His face…” said Dawlish. “Did you see the man’s face?”

Fringebucket nodded.

“Oh, I seen his face, but he weren’t no man. He weren’t nothing living at all. He were white as milk, white as bone. No he weren’t a man. He were Death! It was Death that walked with her, Death that kissed her and Death that took her life!”

There was a sudden crack of thunder and rain started to fall. The two policemen looked at the newspaper that was rapidly getting sodden. Dawlish looked up at Symonds and nodded.

“Jennings and Jennings it is then.”

One Thousand Apologies

Dear Reader

We can only apologise from the bottom of what passes for our hearts for our failure to post something last Friday. All we can give in the paltry way of excuses is that we are in the middle of an international house move. We offer this picture of a gargoyle from the Notre Dame in Paris, which will be featuring in a story in the near future, as recompense.

gargoyle_edited-1

 

We are also excited to announce that a new Jennings and Jennings story will be starting next Tuesday. You will gasp in horror, recoil in terror and be otherwise discombobulated by… the Fulham Fiend.