The Cornish Curse: Chapter 4

“So did you find anything, Sir John?” said Mr Mallum, hopefully.

The Mallum family and the Jennings were all sitting together in the front room in the darkness of late evening. Sir John looked up from the book of maps he was studying.

“Hmm, no, sadly not,” he said. “We could see nothing obvious from the direction Old Jim described. I’m looking now in the maps to see if there might be anything.”

“We did meet someone interesting,” said Marie. “Lord du Bois.”

“Oh yes, he’s a very fine fellow,” said Mr Mallum. “He visits here quite regularly. I believe he has taken a shine to our girls, and I believe they like him in return.”

Patience rolled her eyes and continued to stare out of the windows. The other girls continued with their reading or card playing in a stoic manner.

“Now then, Father,” said Mrs Mallum, “don’t vex the girls so.”

“But he’s such a wonderful gentleman,” said Mr Mallum, “with such a large estate.”

“Someone’s coming,” said Patience, who was still looking out of the window.

“That will be him now.” said Mr Mallum.

“No, it’s not his carriage, it’s … how odd, it has no horse,” said Prudence.

At this the family all looked out of the window.

cc-chapter-4“Someone’s Coming”

“Who is it?” said Joy, “I can’t see. You’re all in the way!”

“He’s coming to the door,” said Prudence, “I don’t recognise him at all.”

Sir John and Marie exchanged a quizzical glance. There was some conversation at the front door and then the butler came in.

“Sir Jennings, I believe it’s an associate of yours,” said the butler.

“Thank you, Marsh,” said Sir Jennings and a short, pale man in a baggy suit and cloak came into the room.

“I got your note and came here as soon as I could,” said the man to Sir John and Marie.

“Phlebotomous?” said Sir John.

“Mr Bosch,” said Marie, “what do you mean?”

“When I went to visit you, Miss Henderson gave me this,” said Phlebotomous, holding a card, which he began to read. “Dear Visitor, we are away on urgent business in Cornwall. We may be a few weeks.”

Sir John looked blank.

“I don’t follow?” he said. Phlebotomous took off his cloak and put it on a chair.

“Well, I understood you had an investigation so urgent that you didn’t have time to contact me,” said Phlebotomous. “But I managed to find the coach that brought you here and so found your destination. Pretty clever eh! So here I am.”

“But we didn’t…” started Sir John then looked at Phlebotomous’ proud and eager expression.

“We didn’t ‘ave time to let you know,” said Marie. “Mrs Mallum, would you have room for another guest?”

“Yes, that would be very helpful if you did,” said Sir John. “Mr Mallum, Mrs Mallum, girls, may I present Mr Phlebotomous Bosch, investigator … extraordinaire. In every sense.”

Phlebotomous looked round the room at the family as though he had only just seen them. They all looked puzzled at Phlebotomous.

“Don’t worry,” he said, “I’m a vegetarian.”

The Cornish Curse: Chapter 5

 

The Cornish Curse: Chapter 3

Sir John and Marie stood shivering on the moor a quarter of a mile south of Devil’s Peak and fifty feet north east of the Old Well and looked due south.

“Nothing,” said Sir John. “There’s nothing for miles.”

“Well, that’s the countryside, mon cher,” said Marie with a wry smile. “It’s not so easy to find things here.”

“We should have asked him how loud it was, or if it moved,” said Sir John. “Then maybe we could have estimated the distance.”

“I think we asked him enough,” said Marie. “He was quite cross-eyed at the end.”

“I’m not sure that was the questions,” said Sir John. “Well, let’s look at the map. I’ve marked the killings. This thing must sleep somewhere. Maybe we can draw a line south from here and see if there’s a pattern.”

He took the map out and tried to lay it on the ground, but the wind kept catching it. After a minute of fighting with the map he crumpled it up and put it back in his pocket.

“Perhaps we can do that later,” he said. “I hate to ask, Marie, is there some magical thing we, well you, can do? If we believe this is a magical creature, of course.”

“Which you don’t?” said Marie.

“Not entirely,” said Sir John. “The only spirits I’ve seen so far are the one’s in Old Jim’s glass.”

“Maybe I can try and look for a big dog,” said Marie. “I can use a pendulum.”

Sir John shrugged and Marie took off her necklace. She held it in her fingers and let it dangle.

Trouver,” said Maire and instantly the pendulum shot horizontal north toward the summit.

“My word!” said Sir John. “Good show!”

Just then a large dog appeared over the summit. It was nearly as tall as Marie and at the sight of them it bounded forward barking.

“Run!” shouted Sir John.

Marie just waved her hand and said, “calmer.” Instantly the dog sat down and Sir John stayed where he was.

“Was that for me or the dog,” asked Sir John.

“The dog,” said Marie, “mostly.”

du-bois-dog“Good Show”

A tall well-built and immaculately dressed man mounted the crest of the hill.

“Hoy, Arthur,” called the man. “Here, boy.”

The dog ran back to the man wagging his tail and the pair walked down to Sir John and Marie.

“Good morrow, good sir, good lady” said the man as he approached. “Please let me introduce myself, I am Lord Vulpine du Bois and this is my, rather enthusiastic Irish Wolfhound, Arthur. I hope he didn’t startle you.”

“Not at all,” said Sir John. “I’m Sir John Jennings, and this is my wife, Marie.”

“Oh, I’ve heard all about you two,” said Lord du Bois, “I get all the gossip. You’re staying with the Mallums, yes? Looking for the mystery beast.”

“For a moment we rather thought we found him,” said Sir John, looking at the dog. Lord du Bois roared with laughter.

“Oh, that’s a good one,” he said. “Old Arthur here is daft as a brush. The only danger is he’d lick you to death.”

As they talked the dog nudged his nose into Marie’s hand and made a whining noise. She stroked his head and he fell onto his back, sticking his legs into the air.

“Why don’t you come for tea one day?” said Lord du Bois. “I’ve not been long here myself, and I could use some news from the outside word. This little village is very pleasant but a little isolated.”

“We’d be delighted to,” said Marie. “Where do you live.”

“See that frightful old pile,” said du Bois, pointing to a mansion on the eastern edge of the village. “That’s Bennet House. Come see me anytime.”

The Cornish Curse: Chapter 4

The Cornish Curse: Chapter 2

“I were coming over the moor under the moonlight when I heard this unearthly sound…” started Old Jim, looking dramatically into middle distance.  He was a gentleman of advancing years with wild grey hair and bushy eyebrows. The wrinkled thick skin on his face came from a lifetime of work outdoors and the glassy look in his eyes from an afternoon spent drinking whisky.

“I see,” said Sir John. “Perhaps we can get a bit more specific.”

He produced a map of the area and laid it on the table of the public house, between Old Jim and himself and Marie.

“Could you indicate where you were exactly?” asked Sir John.

“I couldn’t be right sure,” said Jim. “It were dark and I had been … visiting friends.”

“Maybe you recall passing some landmark, or seeing one ahead?” asked Sir John.

Old Jim though for a minute.

“Reckon I’d just passed Devil’s Peak,” said Old Jim

“On the right? Left?” asked Sir John.

“On … the right I imagine,” said Old Jim. “I were heading back to the village.”

“So you were around here,” said Sir John, looking at the map. “There looks to be a well here, was that in front or behind of you.”

“That would be the Old Well, it were … in front,” said Jim, eyes screwed tight in remembrance.

“Was it far?” asked Sir John.

“Mebbe … fifty feet?” said Old Jim.

“So, that puts you quarter of a mile south of Devil’s Peak and fifty feet north-east of the Old Well.”

“Yes,” said Old Jim, “I were walking over the moor a quart’ of a mile south of Devil’s Peak and fifty feet nor’east of the Old Well, under the moonlight.”

“Where was the moon?” asked Marie.

“In the sky?” said Old Jim, confused.

“Where in the sky I mean?” asked Marie.

“It were … over the village, I suppose,” said Old Jim.

“So south-west?” said Sir John. He got out an almanac. “And this was a week ago, yes, so it must have been pretty full?”

“Yes,” said Old Jim, “I were walking over the moor a quart’ of a mile south of Devil’s Peak and fifty feet nor’east of the Old Well, lit by the nearly full moon from the south-west when…”

cc-ch-2“Unearthly Sound”

“You heard a sound, yes, could you describe it?” said SIr John.

“It were unlike nothing I heard before. It went ‘oow-ooo’,” said Old Jim, with some theatre.

Sir John produced a small set of panpipes from his bag.

“Could you do that again please?” he asked. Old Jim repeated the sound and Sir John blew in the pipes.

“A little higher, mon cher,” said Marie, and SIr John blew again. Marie nodded at the note produced.

“F sharp,” said Sir John. “Sorry Jim, would you mind doing that again?”

Looking sheepish, Old Jim made the sound again. Sir John tried a couple of notes until Marie nodded and wrote them down.

“So thats two notes, a quaver of F sharp and a dotted minim of A sharp,” said Sir John. He played them again.

“Which direction did it come from?” asked Marie.

Old Jim looked exasperated. He pointed to the left of him.

“Due south.” said Sir John, making notes. He showed Old Jim the paper. “Is this correct?”

Old Jim pulled himself up and looked into middle distance again.

“Yes,” he said, “I were walking over the moor a quart’ of a mile south of Devil’s Peak and fifty feet nor’east of the Old Well, lit by the nearly full moon from the south west when I heard a quaver of F sharp with a dotted minim of A sharp coming from the due south.”

“Thank you” said Marie, smiling. “‘Ave we missed anything?”

Old Jim leaned in at the pair, looking a little crestfallen.

“It were … unearthly,” he said.

“How interesting,” said Sir John.

The Cornish Curse: Chapter 3

The Cornish Curse: Chapter 1

The room was bright and decorated pleasantly, if a little old fashioned. Four girls and an older couple sat in the room, evidently the parents by virtue of appearance. The eldest was staring out of the window in a listless manner. Next to her, the second eldest girl was reading a book on the Temperance movement. Her sister sat next to her playing solitaire, and the final, youngest sat at a piano playing a light air. The father read a newspaper and the mother knitted. Apart from the fidgeting of the elder girl, the room seemed in calm repose.

card-game“Sisters, Please!”

Suddenly the eldest gasped, “They’re coming!” There was a sound of horse and cart and the man stood up and went to the door.

“Do you have to make such a fuss, Patience?” said the girl with the book.

“Just because you’d rather die of boredom, Joy,” pouted the eldest, “doesn’t mean we all should.”

“Sisters, please,” said the girl at the piano, “let’s not fight when we have guests.”

“Well said, Prudence,” said the girl with the cards as the other two sisters glared at each other.

The father came back in the room and everyone stood up.

“May I present, Sir John and, er, Mrs Jennings,” he said beaming. “Sir Jennings, Mrs Jennings, may I present Mrs Mallum.”

“Delighted,” said Sir John and Mrs Mallum made a small curtsey.

“My eldest, Patience,” continued Mr Mallum. Patience made a dramatic curtsey and then giggled.

“My daughter, Joy,” said Mr Mallum, and Joy nodded briefly.

“And the youngest two, Constance and Prudence,” finished Mr Mallum. The two girls smiled warmly.

“Delighted to meet you all,” said Sir John.

“So you’re going to save us from the dreaded ghost hound?” said Patience.

“Are you really French?” said Prudence to Marie.

“Girls, please!” said Mrs Mallum, “show some decorum. I am sorry Sir Jennings, Mrs Jennings, we get so few visitors, Especially … these days.”

“Please, think nothing of it,” said Sir John.

“And yes, I am French,” said Marie smiling, drawing gasps from three of the girls.

“Well, girls, perhaps you could entertain yourselves elsewhere, so I may talk with our guests,” said Mr Mallum. After some complaining from Patience, the quartet left.

“So, to business then,” said Sir John. “First, perhaps you can tell why you are so certain this is a supernatural phenomenon?”

“I’ve lived here all my life,” said Mr Mallum, graver now that the children had left, “and I have seen every form of wildlife that lives here. I’ve seen foxes and even the odd rabid dog in the countryside. But I’ve never seen anything make paw prints like that or cause such damage to livestock. I’m not alone in that assessment either, Sir John. I hear the gossip in the local village and the verdict is the same. Something ungodly is abroad.”

“You say ungodly,” started Sir John. “What makes you say that?”

“When a fox takes a chicken, he does so for food,” said Mr Mallum. “What this beast has done, it has done for sport. No creature leaves his prey behind, or leaves it rent apart, unconsumed.”

He looked at Marie then.

“I’m sorry, madam, if…” he started.

“Please don’t apologise,” said Marie. “We need the facts and we have seen … unpleasant things too.”

“Is there a witness we could perhaps talk to?” said Sir John. “Someone that has seen the beast?”

“Seen it, no,” said Mr Mallum. “But I can introduce to one that has heard it.”

The Cornish Curse: Chapter 2

The Cornish Curse: Prologue

Editor’s note: herewith and forsooth, as previously promised, the Cornish Curse in all its gory glory.

Dear Sir John,

I apologise for this unsolicited communication, but I am at my wit’s end. I hope you can forgive me and indeed find it in your heart to assist me in my most dire hour of need. I feel that only a gentlemen of your stature and talents can rescue me and my family from the pit of horror we find ourselves entangled in.

But I get ahead of myself; please, let me explain. My family is solvent with a modest sum in the bank and land sufficient to sustain us. My wife and I live on our estate with our four daughters, who are of, or are approaching, majority. Our land is in the fair county of Cornwall, so I daresay our way of life would seem old fashioned and rustic to you, but we are happy in our ways. Or at least, we have been until recently.

pawprint-copy“Giant Dogs”

You see, Sir John, a most terrible curse has descended upon my family. A fact so terrible I barely dare admit it, but I suspect I must to coax you to our aid. For it seems some manner of creature, some foul animal, some hound of hell, has taken residence on our farmlands. There are tales and rumours in the local village, such that none will venture to our house anymore. Tales of giant dogs, unearthly howls and the appalling scent of fantastic creatures. There have been killings, too; chickens at first, then sheep, now cattle. The farmhands have abandoned us for fear they are next. And I can do little to reassure them they are not.

All of this has had a devastating affect on our harvest, and our income this year has plummeted. But this is not my greatest fear. My four daughters are of marrying age. I want nothing more for them than to find suitable husbands, that they may wed and enjoy the many joys of matrimony, including the comfort and security that such a situation would supply for them. But, alas, with things as they are I feel they may be left unmatched. As our income plummets, the very land is seen as worthless and the family itself is seen as tainted and jinxed. For my own life, I care not one jot. I am an old man who has had his time. But the happiness of my daughters, and the contentment of my wife, is all that concerns me. I cannot sleep with fear for the future, for how they will live.

Sir John, I implore you to come to my estate and investigate this mysterious beast. I know you are an expert in the uncanny, and I can assure you, sir, from the reports I have seen and the animals slain, that the uncanny has come to rest in our house. I would be pleased to offer you a princely sum to come and send it back to its home.

I have enclosed our address and a photograph I had taken of a cast of the creature’s paw print. It will surprise you, sir, to learn that this was the size of man’s hand. Please send your response by telegram, and if, God willing, it is in the affirmative I will make space in our house for you to stay whilst you investigate this most disturbing and ungodly beast.

Yours faithfully,

Edward Mallum, Esq.

The Cornish Curse: Chapter 1

Making Other Plans for Sir John

So you wait months for a Benthic Times post and 3 turn up at once. All we can do, Dear Reader, is humbly apologise and explain that we have been much distracted with life in general.

I like to think that we are not alone and that other, greater literary titans have also enjoyed a similar experience. That perhaps the mammoth four year creation of Ulysses was less to Joyce’s persnickety editing and more to time spent in a Zurich Bureau des Etrangers. That maybe the Lord of the Rings prolonged production was less to do with the complexities of Elvish grammar and owed more to a tricky renovation and a problematic set of shelves.

In any event, here we are and we have finally published the last few chapters of the novel. “What next?” I hear you cry. “And should I perhaps start reading something with a more regular publishing cycle, such as the works of Harper Lee?”

Fear not, Dear Reader, as normal service, nay, exceptional service is resuming. We intend to

IMMEDIATELY commence re-publising the Cornish Curse and Sunnyport Shadow (as they follow the Paris Awakening)

SHORTLY publish both The Paris Awakening and the first Casebook as free to download ebooks

SUBSEQUENTLY create and publish brand new stories “The Clockwork Conjuror” and “The Regal Re-animator”

Well, Dear Reader, if that doesn’t make up for the disappointment of recent months, then truly we don’t know what will. With the possible exception of a large sum of money of course. Which for absolute clarity, is not on the table (either metaphorically or indeed, actually).

We thank you for your patience, and hope you are ready to get back on board the Benthic Bus to fun and adventure.

Yours

Paul Michael and Josephine Pichette

Nice Big Red Bus Attribution: By Chris Sampson (original), cropped by User:Ultra7 – Crop of File:First London Routemaster bus RM1562 (562 CLT), heritage route 9, Kensington High Street, 27 August 2011 (1) uncropped.jpg, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20226848

(Modded using superpowers by Mme Pichette)

The Paris Awakening: Invocation – Part 16

Marie walked into the study. She seemed more cheerful than when they had parted and filled with vitality. She kissed Sir John and sat down.

“Oh mon cher, what a journey,” she said. 

“The boat? Or the train?” said Sir John. 

“Oh that too,” she smiled. She took a biscuit from the tray and crunched on it. She pulled a little moue.

“Best we could do,” said Sir John. “The good ones have all gone.”

“Nevermind,” said Marie. “Is Miss Henderson in? I’d so like a cup of tea.”

“You just missed her. She’s out with that detective,” said Sir John.

“Her beau,” said Marie smiling.

“Is she… sweet on him?’” said Sir John. “I had no idea.”

Marie smiled. 

“I have so much to tell you mon cher,” she said. “But first we should talk about Pook and what we learned. It is a terrible thing.”

“Maybe I’ll get a brandy then,” said Sir John reaching for the bottle.

“One for me too,” said Marie. 

Sir John looked a little surprised then poured two drinks. Marie took a mouthful and swilled it around.

“Very nice,” she said. “So, you know Pook had these powers, more than any pookah should. Well until Calliope took them away. They were from something else, you know. He wouldn’t, I think couldn’t, tell us more. Just that there was a creature that he called the Spinner.”

“The Spinner?” said Sir John. “I’ve never heard of it.”

“You know Pook and Clackprattle controlled the Draco Viridis and Bisset’s organisation too. I think this Spinner wanted to control all these secret societies. Make some kind of global fraternity of, of…”

“Of?” said Sir John.

“Indeed, of what we couldn’t find out. I don’t know if Calliope’s powers had wiped Pook’s mind or this Spinner, but it had been pulling his strings for sure.”

“So Calliope didn’t kill him in the end,” said Sir John.

“No,” said Marie. “She wants to kill this Spinner instead.”

“So where is Pook now?” said Sir John. 

“Back in a wood, causing minor mischief, where he belongs,” said Marie.

“Seems he got off light,” said Sir John.

“He’s just a minor spirit that was allowed to get too much power,” said Marie. “It’s the wielder, not the weapon we need.”

“Hm,” said Sir John. “And how was the time with the family?”

“Oh it was wonderful, mon cher,” said Marie. “I had so many relatives I didn’t know about. All witches. I have so much to tell you. They taught me about my past, about my family, about, about me.”

She beamed at her husband who smiled thinly back.

“I’m glad,” he said. “Really.”

“What’s the matter,” said Marie.

“Well, I was thinking that now you have your family and now you know who you are and you have all this power,” said Sir John. “That… that you don’t really need me.”

Marie sat back and took a last big gulp of the brandy.

“You’re right,” she said. “You’re quite right. I don’t need you.”

Sir John’s head tilted down.

“But,” said Marie, “I do so very much want you.”

She clicked her fingers and the lights went out.

“Oh my,” said Sir John.

* Fin *

The Paris Awakening: Invocation-Part 15

Sir John sat at the desk in his study. Papers were covering every inch of the desk and indeed several chairs. He was staring intently and rather glumly at one of them. Miss Henderson came in with a tray with tea and biscuits.

“Oh bravo, Miss Henderson,” said Sir John. “Do we have any more of those butter biscuits we brought back.”

“The petty bores?” said Miss Henderson. “I’m afraid you’ve had them all. There’s just some nice oat biscuits from the baker.”

“Well I’m sure they’ll do wonderfully,” said Sir John with a forced cheerfulness.

“Is there any news from Mrs Jennings?” said Miss Henderson casually whilst needlessly dusting some papers. Sir John glanced down.

“She’s still with her mother,” said Sir John, “learning more about her family and their… traditions. It’s very important, you know. It’s what we went for, in a way.”

“Well you wouldn’t go there for the food,” said Miss Henderson. “I was glad to get back to some nice home cooking. Which reminds me, there’s a pot of mulligatawny soup I left for you.”

“Oh, are you off out?” said Sir John.

“Yes,” said Miss Hendeson patiently, “I think I mentioned it earlier. I’m having dinner with Detective Symonds.”

“How is he?” said Sir John. “You’re quite good friends aren’t you?”

“Indeed,” said Miss Henderson who looked downcast now. “Good friends.”

There was an awkward pause.

“Oh, and the trial of that villain Bisset concluded.”

“Oh good,” said Miss Henderson. “How many did he get?”

Sir John looked perplexed.

“How many years,” said Miss Henderson, “for… well, shooting me for a start. And Mr… I mean mon sewer, er Emile.”

“Oh, he got life,” said Sir John. “For attempted murder and aiding and abbeting actual murders. You know all those people who died? All those scientists and so on? He did the lot, with Clackprattle.”

“And what about that sinister organisation of his?” said Miss Henderson. 

“No sign at all, neither hide nor hair. The defence made out it was a fantasy,” said Sir John.

“But you don’t believe them?” said Miss Henderson.

“It’s the problem with secret societies,” said Sir John. “They’re hard to find by definition. Still life is life and that’s something, I guess.”

“I thought they chopped heads off over there,” said Miss Henderson.

“That was rather a while ago,” said Sir John. “Somewhat in history. Talking of which, Mr Bosch sends his regards. I saw him earlier today.”

“You know, I almost thought he might stay in Paris with his… friend,” said Miss Henderson.

“Me too,” said Sir John. “But it seems he returned. I understand Osvold wasn’t keen to leave Paris nor Mr Bosch London.”

“Distance can put a real damper on…” started Miss Henderson. “Oh, is that the time? I should be off.”

“Well, have a pleasant evening,” said Sir John wanly.  He started to work and presently heard the front door open and close. A short duration passed whilst he read the same sentence repeatedly before the door opened again. Sir John smiled to himself and opened the door.

“Forget something, did we Miss Henderson?” he said and saw his wife in front of him.

The Paris Awakening: Invocation – Part 14

“Marie!” said Miss Henderson and ran over and hugged the woman. She then remembered her position, stood back and looked a little embarrassed. “This is for you,” said Miss Henderson and handed over the key. 

Marie smiled, waved the key around her head and shouted “REVENIR”. The gargoyles all started to head towards the Notre Dame. As they reached the cathedral  they leapt up returning to their places.

“Marie,” said Calliope. “You look… different somehow.”

Et tu, non?” said Marie, smiling. “I think we have both come into our natural skin somehow. But please wait, I need to check something.”

Marie drew a circle in the ground around herself and closed her eyes. She looked deep in sleep for a few moments before her eyes opened again.

“My husband is safe, and the vampires too, although they have had the shock of meeting my mother,” she said.

“I thought your mother was dead,” said Morag.

“Is she a vampire too?” said Miss Henderson.

“No and no,” said Marie. “Is that all the gargoyles? We seem short some.”

“There’s another group coming,” said Miss Henderson. Marie nodded.

“The ones chasing my husband,” she said. “Here they come.”

The gargoyles filed past the women. Albrecht was one of the first.

“I tried to stop them,” said Albrecht, looking gloomy, “but this witch lady did a better job.”

“Thank you Albrecht,” said Marie. “Trying is good enough.”

“What about these two,” said Miss Henderson. She pointed at Pook and indicated Bisset by giving his face a little kick.

“Oopsie,” she said.

“Pook I’ll deal with later,” said Marie.

“He’s mine Marie,” said Calliope. “He took Emile.”

“Sabine… No, not Sabine…” started Marie.

“Calliope,” said Calliope, “Muse. Pleased to meet you, again.”

“Calliope, he’s a woodland creature that somehow gained extra powers. I need to know why. And… I am a witch. The woodland creatures are mine,” said Marie.

“There are laws,” said Calliope, looking sullen.

“He is the weapon, not the wielder,” said Marie, gently.

“This one is a wielder,” said Miss Henderson, kicking Bisset again. “He shot me.”

“For which he will go to jail forever,” said Marie. “There are laws.”

The last of the gargoyles was back on the cathedral and getting into position.

“What do we do with that?” said Morag, indicating the key.

“This, we do what we should have done from the start,” she said. “We leave it with the guardians.” 

Marie looked up at the sky and held the key aloft. From four directions came a jolly fat man, a bird-like woman, a walrus and a lizard. As Marie brought her hands down the key was in four parts. She held the four parts out as the four avatars took them. 

“When they are needed, we will give them,” they spoke in unison before departing the way they came.

“So, this whole trip was… for nothing?” said Miss Henderson.

Marie looked at the three other women, and the men on the ground.

“It was for everything,” she said.  “Ah, here comes my husband.”

Approaching from a distance were Sir John, Marie’s mother and Phlebotomous holding on to a hopping sack.

“For everything,” repeated Marie quietly.

The Paris Awakening: Invocation – Part 13

All three of them turned and stared. The gargoyles had suddenly stopped the attack. They stood stock still.

“She’s very good,” whispered Phlebotomous to Sir John.

The grey haired woman who had been seemingly holding back the horde looked puzzled and went up to a gargoyle. She flicked its nose experimentally and it flinched but didn’t move. She then tweaked another one’s nose, flicked a third’s ear and finally blew a raspberry in the face of a fourth. This one swore but didn’t move.

“I suspect this is something else,” said Sir John. “Madam. Madam…”

The woman came up to him and Phlebotomous and started talking French rapidly and excitedly. Her eyes flicked between the two of them and she seemed to be looking for something in their faces.

“Are you getting any of this,” said Sir John. “I think I heard something about the sea.”

From within the sack, Osvold started to speak French. The old lady looked perplexed and went over to the sack. She started to open it, but Osvold said something excitedly and she left it closed. She crouched down and talked to Osvold through the sack. She kept glancing at Phlebotomous and Sir John. Finally she walked over to Phlebotomous and hugged him tightly.

Mon fils, mon fils,” she said happily.

“This is your mother?” said Sir John, sounding perplexed.

“I don’t think so,” said Phlebotomous. “My mother is shorter with blue eyes, around three hundred years older and dead.”

“Well… you know,” said Sir John, “people don’t always stay dead…”

“True,” said Phlebotomous. “But it’s rather tricky to put heads back on.”

Sir John decided not to pursue that line of enquiry. The sack containing Osvold hopped over to the woman smothering Phlebotomous and started to talk to her. 

There was a sudden change in the gargoyle army. They all jumped back a few feet, then jumped up in the air. Then they crouched down for a while before standing up and holding out their arms. Then they turned around and hugged each other and finally the whole group turned away and headed towards Notre Dame.

“What in the world was that?” said Sir John. “Still… gift horses.”

Osvold spoke to the old woman again. She listened intently, laughed out loud and then went over to Sir John and held him tight. She looked into his face, winked and pinched his cheeks. Sir John looked horrified.

“Osvold, what did you say?” said Sir John. Phlebotomous leaned down as Osvold spoke.

“It seems Sir John that what passed previously was a misunderstanding. This is in fact your mother,” said Phlebotomous.

“I rather think not,” said Sir John looking down aghast at the woman. “My mother is from Surrey.” 

The old woman stopped holding Sir John and looked serious. She drew a circle in the ground with her foot and closed her eyes. Expressions passed over her face as if she was asleep before her eyes opened again and she smiled broadly at Sir John.

Osvold tugged at Phlebotomous and the vampire leaned down.

“Oh,” said Phlebotomous. “My mistake. Not mother. Mother-in-law.”