The Paris Awakening: Earth Part 6

Paris street

Marie meandered through the city as thoughts meandered through her mind.

I remember the running, she thought. I remember the running, but never the walking.

Walking first to meet the city, the sprawl and noise of it, the colour and aroma, meeting it wide-eyed. The country girl in the big city, holding her aunt’s hand as her aunt looked for clothes and food in the myriad of shops. Then later, older, looking herself for clothes to define her. The young lady about town, strolling around her city, heavy lidded and sharp tongued. Always something clever on her lips.

Then later again, in the siege, despite the madness, a walk of defiance, of pride. Having nothing but being everything, being, still, part of that city. The only city that mattered. Its streets her streets and its sights hers to see. Even when the shelling came and then…

And then…

And then the running. And the fear. And the remembering of a past she had forgotten.

So why did I remember only this, that I tried to forget. Fear and running? How had she forgotten the days walking in the sunshine and the rain, in all the seasons and feeling alive, fearless and above all, Parisienne?

She clutched the diary tight to her, afraid that if she lost it again, she would lose the memories it had brought back to her. She found she was walking by the river, by people dancing, by boats passing by.

Where am I now? she thought.

She turned left on instinct, up a street she had never visited but knew every inch of. Felt the strange tidal pull of something, someone calling her. Past the coffee and smoke of a café and the old guy on the corner sitting alone. He called something out as she walked into the road and there was a screech of machinery. Someone shouted at her and she glanced and moved on. Right, left, along.

I shopped there once didn’t I? That little boutique where she bought a hat newly made that morning, newly designed. The very height of fashion. Now right down this alleyway, a shortcut, but to where? Ah, of course, this little café where she had met her friends, now all, now all what? All elsewhere, all abandoned by her. She felt an ache then and headed across to the confectionary shop, lingered a moment looking at the artistry before the tug of that tide came again.

Left, left and over this square, past the lady in the shop eyeing her curiously. What is she calling out? Marie didn’t know as she went down the street and along the boulevard, listening to the tide, the call, his call.

And who was he? Not who I had thought. Not who I had thought at all.

Not far now, she thought. Right, left and up to this door. She knocked and waited, still and quiet, until the door opened up. An old man looked out at her, his expression of confusion.

“Hello Uncle,” said Marie.

The man’s eyes grew saucer-sized and his smile broke like a wave.


*Artwork by Jean Béraud, Public Domain, (modified)

The Paris Awakening: Earth Part 5

Eye looking through doorChaos reigned in Emile’s apartment. As he watched it unfold, Emile considered that whilst this was not a new phenomenon, the circumstances were somewhat unusual. There was a knock at door and Emile opened it a crack and looked out. Sabine glared back at him.

“Do you have a woman?” she said.

“No!” said Emile, “why would you say such a thing?”

“Then let me into the apartment!” she said.

Emile opened the door and Sabine breezed in dramatically. She went to speak then looked at the scene in front of her.

“What is happening here?” she said. “Are you having a party?”

“Well,” said Emile, “it’s like this: The two pale gentlemen over there are apparently vampires. One came from England, although I don’t think he’s English, and the other worked in Dinard’s shop. We have just worked out that the Clackprattle man and his pookah side-kick are in Paris, looking for a weapon, and probably killed Dinard.”

Mon Dieu!” said Sabine, “Sir John I recognise, but the other lady and the dog…”

“The dog is called Morag and is the daughter of the alchemist Sir John told us about. For a set of reasons I have yet to grasp, she is in the body of a dog. The tall lady is their maid.”

“And she has supernatural powers?” said Sabine looking in awe at the group.

“No,” said Emile, “but she is an expert in Kung Fu and other martial arts. They went to the hotel of Sir John and interrupted Pook who had mesmerised Marie. Marie is having a little lie down after that.”

“Of course, of course” said Sabine absently, then walked into the room.

Allo one and all,” she announced. “My name is Sabine Bellevoix and I am here to help.”
The assembled cast looked around and the flamboyantly dressed lady smiling broadly at them. Miss Henderson sniffed.

“Ah, you must be the maid,” said Sabine. “How fortunate that you happened to be at the right place at the right time.”

“I’m not sure I like your inspiration,” said Miss Henderson with a frown.

Sabine’s smile froze and she looked a little confused.

“As I’ve explained to your… gentlemen friend… I was showing Miss Henderson how to use alchemic powders for fortune telling,” said Morag. “We divined there was danger for the family and came as soon as we could. We were waiting in the lobby for Sir John when Pook arrived and so we followed him up.”

“Of course, of course,” said Sabine, “forgive me, I didn’t mean to sound critical.”

“I am uncomfortable when people cast excursions,” said Miss Henderson looking down.

“Oh dear,” said Sabine, “we seem to have got off on the wrong foot.”
Miss Henderson muttered something also that maybe included “off” and Sir John coughed.

“We do need to understand why Morag was unaffected by Pook’s influence,” said Sir John. “It may help us overcome his power. We should try some experiments, perhaps.”

Emile, Sir John and Phlebotomous all looked curiously over at Morag.

“Ye can get that idea right out of yon heads!” she said.

“If I may be so bold,” said Miss Henderson, “I would suggest that our biggest problem is one of location. Clearly Clackprattle and Pook know about the shop where Osvold lives and the hotel where Sir John and Mrs Jennings are.”

“Well you may stay here of course,” said Emile. “It will be a little cramped but…”

“Nonsense,” said Sabine. “I insist everyone stay in my rooms in Montparnasse. They are more than adequate.”

“You have rooms in Montparnasse?” said Emile incredulously.

“A girl has to have secrets,” said Sabine. “We are closer to the life here, it is too quiet there.”

Sir John stood up.

“I’ll go and wake Marie,” he said, “and let her know we are likely to be moving.”

“It is perhaps 20 minutes away!” said Emile. “I slept on the sofa… for weeks… to save you 20 minutes?”

“It was very noble of you,” said Sabine, “and quite unnecessary.”

Emile started to speak when Sir John ran back into the room.

“Marie!” he said. “She’s gone!”


The Paris Awakening: Earth Part 4

marie with diary 2p

“Well hello Mr Pook, why don’t you come in?” said Pook. “That’s what you’re supposed to say, Marie.”

He walked into the room while Marie stood by the door, dumbfounded.

“It’s been such a long time and so much has happened, Mr Pook,” Pook continued. “Do tell me all your news.”

Pook looked at Marie and smiled.

“That would be the civilized thing to say Marie,” he said. “But you wouldn’t say that, would you? And now, indeed, nor can can you. That must come as a little bit of a surprise, I imagine. To learn that I have acquired a more… persuasive ability since last we met. You may close the door now.”

Marie absently pushed the door shut and stared aghast at the creature in front of her.

“Oh Marie, if only you’d seen things my way from the start. We could have ditched Clackprattle and that buffoon you’re married to. We could have fleeced Anglestone of that marvellous little stone. We could have danced around the world with the power of life and death in our hands. What a most wonderful adventure we could have had,” he said, then looked down.

“Instead, you mocked and insulted me, rejected me. But Marie, you see, I don’t mind all that. See where I am now, don’t you want to come with me? That’s better than being stuck in here reading all day,” he said, glancing at the book she had.

“Oh my,” Pook continued, “a diary. How utterly fascinating. What wonders are in there, I can barely imagine.”

He moved towards her and there was a knock at the door.

“Room service,” said a lady’s voice.

Pook look annoyed then saw the dishes on the table.

“Wrong room,” he said, ”you brought food already.”

“It’s, er, dessert,” said the voice. “It’s prophet-a-holes.”

Pook walked to the door and opened it a little.

“Now look…” he started but the door crashed in on him. A large woman barged into the room and punched Pook in the face. Behind her came a large dog that growled at Pook as he lay on the floor.

Mon Dieu,” gasped Marie, “Miss Henderson and… Morag!”

“Silence!” said Pook sitting up and clutching his nose, blood seeping between his fingers. Everyone else in the room stood stock still.

“You see now, the importance of good manners,” he said. “My dear ladies, I’m afraid I have the upper hand now.

“Ahm afraid that I’m no lady,” said the dog with a deep Scottish brogue, “and if you don’t get your upper hand out of here now, you’ll be picking it out from between ma teeth.”

Pook smiled graciously.

Touche,” he said. He looked at the frozen women.

“Let’s not say goodbye,” he said, “Let’s say au revoir.”

Pook left the room and both Miss Henderson and Marie unfroze.

“What a bleeding cheek,” said Miss Henderson. Marie collapsed and was caught by the maid, just as she burst into tears.

Miss Henderson looked at the untidy room, the dishevelled look of Marie and finally caught sight of the French cuisine on the table. She sighed heavily.

“We shall have to find you some proper food, Mrs Jennings,” she said.

Sunshine for a Sunday

Sunshine Blogger

Hello Dear Readers

I  was given a little spring in my step and a smile on my face last week when I was nominated for the Sunshine Blogger award by the wonderful Soulitary Reaper to whom I offer immense gratitude.

For those of you not versed with this award, the details are here.

Here are the Rules of the Award:

  • Thank the blogger(s) who nominated you in the blog post and link back to their blog.
  • Answer the 11 questions the blogger(s) asked you.
  • Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award Logo in your post and/or on your blog.

And here within are the 11 questions I was posed and my answers to them.

1. Do you have a favourite family memorabilia/heirloom? What is it?

Sadly not. My somewhat peripatetic life has led me to exist with scant regard for physical possessions unless absolutely necessary. I did once possess my grandfather’s harmonica. He was by all accounts a musician of no small talent. Tragically, although he passed on the harmonica, he didn’t pass on the talent and my own efforts sounded like two asthmatic cats having an argument at midnight.

2. If you could go back in your own timeline, what would the ‘present you’ tell the ‘2008 you?’

Move to Switzerland and buy a top hat. Those two things between them have brought me all thats best in my life.

3. Which book character would you like to run away with?

I suspect I’m done with running away for a good while, but I would very much like to meet Otto from The Watchmaker of Filigree Street and have him around the house.

4. Do you like your job? What’s your dream job?

As a self employed artisan in my “day job” I would be forced to say yes to the first part. For the second, if I could wave a magic wand I would be a writer. With better teeth. And less grey hairs.

5. Which country would you like to travel to?

Japan – Ms Josephine Pichette organised a number of rebellions and revolutions there. She tells me the food is quite remarkable and the refuse collection unusually ornate.

6. What do you look forward to when you wake up each day?

Turning off the alarm clock. It’s really quite an irritating and jaunty sound and I don’t know how to change it. Making that infernal noise stop is definitely a highlight of the day.

7. If you can meet The Creator, what would you tell him?

I’d say – thanks awfully for existence and all that. But I wonder if you could do me  a favour. There seems to be some disagreement down here about exactly what you want, and some chaps are getting rather hot under the collar about it. Perhaps you could pop down in person, so to speak, and clear up any confusion.

8. What was your favourite show as a kid? (Why did Cartoon Network have to change…)

Scooby Doo – at least one of our stories has a non-too subtle reference to that show. And for absolute clarity, the series before the damnable Scrappy Doo.

9. What is the big announcement about your life that you’d like to give right now?

Unfortunately  I don’t have an announcement as such, but I do have a half baked idea I want to work on this year. I’m rather hoping to create some sort of a live entertainment cabaret for The Benthic Times. It would be a sort of Steampunk Kurt Weill. I suspect given my answer to question 1 I’m on a hiding to nothing, but you never know til you try.

10. Given a choice, which villain would you like to be?

Well none of mine for sure… they’re all awful in different ways. Perhaps Darth Vader as he is a fair swordsman, achieves personal redemption and manages to wear a cape with panache. Thats a rare talent these days.

11. How was your day?

It is just starting. So far I’ve had the joy of two coffees, answering these questions and I’m looking forward to an Italian meal for lunch. So full marks so far.

Thanks Padma for the lovely questions.

My nominated blogs for the award are (in no particular order)

Non Euclidean Sofa


Old Guv Legends

Daily Doodle

Little Fears


Steampunk Music Blog

Cogpunk Steamscribe

Vasa and Ypres

Slippery Edge


Dear Fellow bloggers, if you may permit me to trouble your busy day with a request to answer the following questions

  1. Why did you start to blog?
  2. Is that still the same reason and, if not, what has changed?
  3. If it was 1918, or even 1968, how would you “blog”?
  4. Which is your favourite post?
  5. Which is your most successful post (however you think of that)?
  6. Do you have a creative endeavour that came out of your blog, such as a book or other objet d’art?
  7. You host a dinner party with four other people, fictional or real, from any point in history. Who gets the invite?
  8. What do you cook?
  9. And what do you talk about?
  10. What is the question I haven’t asked, but should?
  11. And what is the answer to that?

Thanks all, have a marvellous Sunshine Sunday!

The Paris Awakening: Earth Part 3

journal 1p

Sir John and Emile sat in the shop whilst Phlebotomous went to the back to get Osvold. Emile flicked through the paper, a cigarette hanging down from his lip.

“Oof,” he announced, “looks like Marchauld has died.”

“The one from the Clairvoyant Research Institute?” said Sir John.

“Yes, that one,” said Emile, who then smirked. “Hmm, I wonder if he saw that coming.”

Phlebotomous and Osvold came in then and sat down opposite Sir John and Emile.

“Osvold,” said Sir John, “we wanted to ask you about the day M Dinard died. Do you remember that day?”

Osvold nodded slowly and sadly then looked down.

“Yes, of course, you do,” said Sir John. “The last name is his meeting book, perhaps the last person he met, was a Mr Clackprattle. Do you know who that is?”

Osvold looked thoughtful for a while and then leaned over to Phlebotomous and whispered.

“He thinks he’s a very fat man…” said Phlebotomous. Osvold leaned in again.

“…who vexed M Dinard enough to make him use bad language,” said Phlebotomous.

Emile coughed and laughed.

“That describes half of Paris,” he said. Osvold leaned in to Phlebotomous again.

“He was accompanied by a strange short man who spoke in long sentences,” said Phlebotomous. “And he rubbed his hands together a lot.”

“That’s them,” said Sir John, “Osvold, do you know what they wanted? Why they saw M Dinard.”

Osvold looked away again in thought and then turned back to Phlebotomous. He whispered in the fellow vampire’s ear.

“Oh gosh,” said Phlebotomous. “Really?”

Osvold nodded then leaned in again and whispered to Phlebotomous.

Emile turned in towards Sir John then.

“Are you sure these are vampires?” he said quietly. “They’re not what the literature has you believe.”

Sir John smiled.

“I can only assume that Mr Stoker didn’t meet an actual example,” he said.

They turned back to the pair to find Phlebotomous looking paler than usual with Osvold holding his hand. Phlebotomous was wriggling about in his chair.

“Oh dear, oh dear,” he said. “This sounds bad. It seems that Mr Clackprattle was asking Dinard about how to find some kind of magical weapon. It seemed to be in four parts?”

Phlebotomous glanced at Osvold who nodded.

“The parts were all hidden in Paris and M Dinard was in possession of a map to the parts. It was this he was planning to sell to Mr Clackprattle on the day he died.”

Sir John looked concerned.

“Osvold, do you know if Mr Clackprattle came here? If he got the map?” he said.

Osvold nodded once.

“And do you know if there is a copy of this map.” Sir John continued.

Osvold shook his head and looked to his feet.

“This is indeed bad,” said Sir John to Emile. “This weapon must be something special for them to go looking for it. If they have a map and we don’t…”

“You’re sure?” said Emile, addressing the vampires. “There was no copy?”

Osvold leaned into Phlebotomous again.

“Mr Clackprattle was apparently insistent. He paid a large sum of money to make sure it was the only copy. M Dinard said that it was only because of this money that he could deal with … what was that word Osvold?”

Osvold leaned into Phlebotomous again and whispered something. Phlebotomous went a light pink.

“I don’t think I can say that out loud,” he said. “It’s rather rude.”

Emile’s mouth dropped open and the cigarette fell from his lips into his lap.

Merde,” he said and retrieved it.

“It was something like that, yes,” said Phlebotomous.

“It was a set-up, that’s why he was killed!” said Sir John. “So no one else could look for this weapon.”

Osvold leaned into Phlebotomous again.

“Then we are, how do you say, stuffed in a hole,” said Emile. “Do we just wait until he finds it?”

“We have to do something,” said Sir John.

Phlebotomous coughed and they both looked round.

“Osvold says that although there wasn’t a map,” said the vampire, “there were some notes.”

“Osvold,” said Sir John, “do you think we might look at them?”

The Paris Awakening: Earth Part 2

napkin & knifeps

“So we’re going over to the shop again,” said Sir John to Marie. She looked up from the book she was reading and stared absently at her husband.

“We’re hoping to find out more about this possible Clackprattle link from this Osvold chap,” continued Sir John. “You’re welcome to come if you have time.”

Non, mon cher,” she said, lifting the book, “I should finish this reading.”

“You’ve…” started Sir John, “you’ve been reading that rather a lot. Which, of course, is fine and, and completely understandable. I just wonder whether some fresh air might, er, lift your spirits.”

Marie looked at Sir John quizzically.

“I’m fine mon cher,” she said and then looked down at her book.

Sir John stood for a moment more. His mouth opened then closed. Then he nodded a little, and left to go.

“I shouldn’t be too late,” he said as he left.

Marie barely registered him leaving the room. She came to the end of the book and put it down for a second. Then she glanced down at it and picked it up again, opening it at the start.

“Where are you?” she said quietly.

There was a knock at the door.

“Room service!” said the voice and Marie went over to the door, her eyes fixed to the pages in the book as she did. She opened the door without looking and a maid came in with a trolley.

“The usual place?” said the maid and Marie nodded.

The maid laid out two bowls and some cutlery on the table Marie had been sitting at. She then reached down and took a knife and napkin that had been lying underneath the table.

“These must be from lunch,” she said with a forced cheeriness. She walked towards the door and hesitated just at the entrance.

Marie looked up briefly at the maid, eyes unfocused. Then she blinked.

“I’m sorry,” Marie said and reached into her purse. She took out some coins and dropped them in the maid’s hand. The maid glanced down and then smiled and bobbed enthusiastically before leaving the room.

Marie sat down at the table, and, without glancing, used the fork to spear some of the food in a bowl. The fork was raised to her mouth as she kept on reading and she took a bite. She pulled back at the taste and looked at her fork, realising she had taken a fork full of the fruit salad and not the casserole on her table. She rearranged the dishes and the knife fell onto the floor. Marie ignored it and speared some of the casserole with the fork.

She read some more and a small tear ran down her face. There was a knock again and Marie looked down at the food on the table and then at the door. She walked over and opened it up.

“Hello Marie,” said Pook.

The Paris Awakening: Earth Part 1


It was late evening and the sun had sunk behind the horizon leaving Dinard’s shop bathed in a golden haze. The door handle rattled, then there was a click in the lock and Emile walked in, followed closely by Sir John and Phlebotomous Bosch. Phlebotomous was carrying a bag and looked admiringly at the shop.

“Nice shop!” he said. “But do you always have to break in to buy something?”

Emile looked suspiciously over at the vampire, not for the first time that evening.

“I’ll go find Osvold,” he said.

“Actually, it’s closed right now,” said Sir John, “following the death of the owner. But he has an assistant we’d like you to meet. You have something in common.”

Phlebotomous’ eyes widened and he gasped.

“He’s an inventor, too?” he said enthusiastically.

“Not that… “said Sir John as Emile emerged from the back room with Osvold.

“Oh!” said Phlebotomous, “He’s a vampire.”

Both Osvold and Emile flinched at that.

“Osvold, I like you to meet a… friend of mine,” said Sir John. “Mr Bosch, I introduce, er, Mr…”

Prinzregententorte,” said Osvold.

“Like the dessert?” said Phlebotomous.

Osvold’s head hung down and he nodded.

There was a short pause.

“Mr Bosch,” said Sir John, “Phlebotomous, do you have your special drink?”

“Oh yes,” said Phlebotomous. “Luckily, I have it with me to take to Maxim’s!”

“About that…” started Sir John, but Phlebotomous was in full flow. The vampire turned to Osvold.

“I have the ingredients and the recipe,” he said. “It’s a protein-based compound of mushrooms, soy, and plum tomatoes.”

“No animals?” said Osvold, looking surprised.

“None at all,” said Phlebotomous. “It’s ethical, nutritious, and delicious, too!”

Osvold took the flask that Phlebotomous proffered, opened it and took a sniff. He then gingerly took a sip from the flask. His eyes closed and a shudder passed through him. He drank the rest greedily.

There was a short pause.

“I don’t believe Monsieur… Osvold gets out much,” said Sir John to Phlebotomous with a meaningful rise of his eyebrows.”

“So, maybe he can come with us to Maxim’s?” said Phlebotomous.

“Actually… that wasn’t really the plan,” said Sir John.

“We’re not going?” said Phlebotomous.

“Not really,” said Sir John. “We had something else in mind.”

“So I brought the compound in vain?” said Phlebotomous, his shoulders sinking. “It’s just as well Osvold was here to drink it, otherwise it would have been a waste.”

Emile muttered something under his breath.

“Phlebotomous,” said Sir John, gently. “What we’d like to do this evening is for you to get to know Osvold a little better. Sort of – vampire to vampire.”

“Oh certainly,” said Phlebotomous.

There was a short pause.

“Perhaps we should go to a show?” said Emile suddenly, with rather too much exuberance. “Or find a bar? Or maybe a dance?”

Both vampires looked at Emile in shock and horror.

“I’m not sure that I would enjoy that, Monsieur,” said Osvold.

“Oh no – I find loud music painful to my ears,” said Phlebotomous.

“And I don’t enjoy alcohol,” said Osvold, “it upsets my stomach.”

Emile looked flabbergasted.

“What in ‘eavens name do you do for fun?” he said.

“I like collecting stamps,” said Osvold.

“Just French?” said Phlebotomous.

“Oh no,” said Osvold, “I have stamps from around the world. I have a Penny Black from 1840.”

“Really?” said Phlebotomous, eyes widening, “You must show me!”

“Come this way,” said Osvold and the two disappeared into the back of the shop.

“My friend,” said Emile to Sir John, “what has happened tonight?”

“I think,” said Sir John, “that we have just witnessed the birth of the world’s first vampiric philately society”

The Paris Awakening: Initiation Part 16


Pook sat at the large table and looked across at Bisset with a fixed smile. The Frenchman was studying the map and looking at books piled around him. His jacket was off, his sleeves were pulled up and his elegantly coiffured hair was starting to hang limply over his face.

“How is it progressing?” said Pook.

“Bon, bon,” said Bisset absently.

“Your fraternity certainly requires full use of your abilities,” said Pook. “One would almost think there was… no one else.”

Bisset looked up.

“What do you mean?” he said.

“That your fraternity has no one else in it,” said Pook, “with your ability.”

Bisset stared at him.

“We are an order of quite some importance and many aims. The satisfaction of one man’s obsession is not of great significance to us,” he said before continuing his work on the map.

“And your master is very, very obsessed with this… Jennings,” Bisset added casually. “Why is that?”

“Beyond what he told you, I believe Mr Clackprattle feels personally slighted by Sir John and highly aggrieved at his treatment. He wants some reparation, some public reparation, so it is clear who is the superior,” said Pook.

“And you,” asked Bisset. “What do you seek?”

“I am my master’s servant,” said Pook. “His needs and wishes are my needs and wishes.”

Bisset glanced up at the smiling, implacable face, his eyebrows raising slightly.

“Hmm…” he said. “You understood of course that my masters have needs and wishes too.”

“Indeed,” said Pook. “From our original conversation I inferred you had a use for Mister Clackprattle’s unique talent.”

“I have a list,” said Bisset, “of enemies of the fraternity. You will take the list and remove them. But not all at once, please. And you must follow the sequence of the list.”

Pook’s eyebrows raised then.

“That’s rather a strange way to arrange assassinations,” he said.

“Our reports from the shop say that everyone believed Dinard had died of old age.” said Bisset. “Your master’s talent leaves his victims looking unmolested. The list is by age, the oldest first so as to disguise our purpose for as long as possible.”

“Of course,” said Pook. “I understand. The deaths will seem to be merely the sad passing of an aging person, rather than an underhand act.”

“Just so,” said Bisset, then suddenly “Merde! It’s so obvious! Why didn’t I see it?”

He stood up, sighed and pushed back his hair into some kind of order.

“We have the first location. I will take some refreshment now and some rest,” Bisset said wearily.  He walked away out of the room whilst Pook continued to sit.

When the door closed  Pook looked over at the map then emitted a quick, high pitched giggle. He took a pen and a piece of paper and wrote on it.

“Master, all is going to plan, we will start tomorrow.”

He then walked across to the fireplace, the large fire dying down but still active. He threw the paper into the fire and watched as the smoke rose, twisting into shapes like letters. When the paper was burned and the smoke had gone, Pook went back to the table, picked up the map and left the room. The smile on his face didn’t change once.

The Paris Awakening: Initiation Part 15

appt book

Dinard’s shop was empty of people and the dust was dancing in the late afternoon sunlight. From the back room there was a rustling sound and an occasional sigh. The knob on the door to the street rattled.

“It looks like no-one’s in,” said Sir John from outside.

“Good,” said Emile. “Stand over there a minute, will you?”

“If you like,” said Sir John. There was a scratching noise at the door in the lock, then some clicking and finally the door swung open. The sounds in the back room stopped instantly.

Voila!” said Emile, walking into the shop.

“You can’t do that!” said Sir John, hovering outside the door.

“I just did,” said Emile. “Come on in Sir John and I’ll show you what I saw.”

“I don’t think I should,” said Sir John, still hovering.

“Then I shall bring it out,” said Emile.

“You shouldn’t do that either, it’s theft,” said Sir John. He hopped from one foot to another then sighed and came into the shop.

“I knew you’d see sense,” said Emile. “Besides, this is important.”

“Why couldn’t you tell me before?” said Sir John.

“Well, I didn’t want to scare Marie, and besides I thought you wouldn’t agree to come if I told you what I was planning to do,” said Emile. Sir John sighed again.

“You were probably right,” he said. “What is it you want to show me?”

Emile grinned and then vaulted over the counter. Sir John gapsed and waved his arms in the vague direction of the Frenchman.

“You can’t… that’s not…” spluttered Sir John.

“I was ‘ere the other day, the one after Dinard died,” said Emile from underneath the counter. “I had a book on order from him. I know the tat on the shelves is garbage, but he knew how to get the good stuff too. So I thought I’d try to find his order book and see what had happened to my order.”

Emile stood up and placed a small book onto the counter.

“I didn’t find it,” he said, “but I found something else. His appointment book.”

Emile opened the book and pushed it toward Sir John. The smile had gone now.

“Guess who he saw on his last day?” said Emile.

Sir John looked puzzled at the small book then gasped again.

“Clackprattle!” he said.

“Indeed,” said Emile. “It was maybe a couple of hours before you came in and…”

Emile suddenly stopped and put a finger to his lips. Sir John looked puzzled and Emile tapped his ear. He then darted into the backroom. There was a crashing sound and some shouting and Emile came back dragging a young, thin man with a pale face.

“Who are you?” Emile was shouting. “What are you doing in this shop?”

The young man was shaking and squirming out of the evening sunlight.

“I… I… I…” he said, “I work here, Monsieur, for Monsieur Dinard.”

Emile snorted.

“Well, I haven’t seen you before,” he said. “Who are you?”

“Os – Osvold”, said the young man. Still squirming and shaking.

Sir John stood very still and tilted his head.

“Osvold,” he said slowly, “do you mostly work at night?”

The young man nodded vigorously.

“And did M Dinard look after you… perhaps… bring you… food?” said Sir John.

Osvold’s eye’s dropped to the floor and he nodded.

“I think,” said Sir John, glancing at Emile, “we need to introduce you to a friend of ours.”

The Paris Awakening: Initiation Part 14

marie at window pp

Marie continued to stare out of the window of the small house. Sir John and the tenants, M and Mme Enrault, stood in the room as she did so.

“Would either of you like some coffee or perhaps some tea,” said M Enrault, looking nervously at Sir John. M. Enrault was still trying to work out why he had invited this strange pair into his house, a question his wife was also considering from the expression on her face.

“No thank you,” said Sir John. “You can leave us, we’ll be fine.”

The couple retreated willingly and Sir John turned to look at his wife’s back.

“You think I’ve gone too far,” she said. “That I should have just asked and not… done what I did.”

“I imagine you thought you only had one chance, and you were so anxious to see your aunt’s old house again, that you panicked a little,” said Sir John gently.

Marie’s shoulders shook a little.

“It has been 28 years,” she said, “to the day.”

Sir John’s face fell.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “Perhaps we should have waited.”

“No,” said Marie, “you were right, it is… fitting.”

Just then a woman in her sixties walked past and glanced into the window. She stared for a moment and then screamed. The woman dropped the bag she had been carrying and came up to the window. Her face was pale as she stared in at Marie.

“Mademoiselle La Fleur,” she said in disbelief. “Is that… is it really you?”

Marie’s head nodded and the woman went to the front door of the house. There was a knock at the door then a conversation in the corridor. The woman from the street came into the room and rushed over to Marie. She held Marie’s face with her hand and stared into it.

“Not a hair different,” she said in awe.  Marie smiled then.

“You are too kind Mme Duchamp,” Marie said. “My hairs are very different. Some are even grey now.”

The woman then looked over at Sir John and back to Marie.

“Is this… are you?” she said.

“May I present Sir John Jennings,” said Marie, “my husband. Sir John, this is Mme Margot Duchamp.”

“Enchantée,” said Mme Duchamp. “An English knight? How strange, but then you always were different. When I saw you now, when I screamed, I swore I thought you were a ghost. Especially today. What happened? Where did you go?”

“I am sorry to scare you Mme Duchamp.” said Marie. “All I can say is, after they died, my aunt, my uncle, I couldn’t be here anymore. I just had to leave.”

“My word, all these years!” said Mme Duchamp. “I can’t believe it, we thought you were killed with your aunt and uncle. Why did you not come back here? Your things were all here?”

“I did come back,” said Marie, “right after the shell took them. I saw it fall, I saw them die, right in front of me. I came back here and everywhere was their possessions, their life, our life. Now gone. It was too much, after my mother’s death. Too much for me. I took a bag of things I would need and I left. I didn’t have an idea to leave forever, but I never came back. And then. Then other problems. The commune and everything.”

Marie wiped away the tear which had run down her face.

“It was bad then for sure,” said Mme Duchamp. “A terrible time. But then did you find your uncle? He was looking for you.”

Marie looked confused.

“Mme Duchamp, my uncle was killed that day,” she said.

“No, not that one, the other one, the brother of your aunt. What was his name?” said Mme Duchamp. “Thierry? I forget his surname.”

“Oh,” said Marie. “He was not my uncle Mme Duchamp, he was just a family friend, I think. I called him uncle to be polite.”

“I think not, Marie,” said Mme Duchamp. “I’m sure your aunt called him brother. And besides, he came to look for you when he heard your aunt and uncle had died. Poor man looked so sad. So you didn’t see him? He didn’t find you?”

“No,” said Marie, “I… I didn’t know. Do you have an address for him?”

“I don’t,” said Mme Duchamp, “but this has reminded me I do have something you may want.”

“What is it?” said Marie.

“When we all were sure you had all died, your uncle said for us to take what we wanted from the house. I don’t think he cared to take much himself. So I took your books, and I have most of them still.”

“I don’t think I need them anymore,” said Marie, “but thank you.”

“No, you don’t understand,” said Mme Duchamp. “I just grabbed all the books without looking. I didn’t realise that one wasn’t a book at all. Marie, my dear, I have your diary.”