It was silent in Miss Copperwaite’s bedroom. Weak moonlight trickled in from the tall, thin windows, barely illuminating her as she lay in her catatonic state. The door began to creak open and a figure came in quietly. The figure kept to the shadows and looked down at the supine form of Miss Copperwaite.

“You cannot wake, and I cannot sleep,” said the figure. “I keep seeing that man whenever I close my eyes. The terror on his face. And it was my fault. All my fault. What is it, this terrible thing?”

Marie stepped out of the shadow.

“What is this mesmerism?”

She gasped.

“I knew it!” she said, staring at the bed.

The figure of Miss Copperwaite began to rise slowly out of the bed. She made one slow lurching circuit of the bedroom before heading to the window. Suddenly she slumped forward, her hands just inches from the floor. She grabbed the bottom of the sash window and stepped back, pulling it up. Then she placed one hand on the low window ledge. Miss Copperwaite continued to stare blankly as her hand felt around the ledge. Eventually it found some pieces of paper and brought them into the room. She walked clumsily to a desk, sat down and opened a drawer. Again, her hand acted alone as she stared ahead, producing a pen. The hand wrote quickly on the bits of paper, finishing each with a flourish. Then Miss Copperwaite gathered the papers in her hand, and walked back to the window. She put the papers back outside, closed the window then lumbered back into bed.

Marie watched all of this in silence from the shadows. When Miss Copperwaite was back in bed, Marie went to the window. She could see a figure, a short man, scurrying away in the distance. The papers were gone.

Marie carefully open the window again and put her hand out. The ledge was low enough that she could touch the ground, and she picked up a small stone from outside. She brought the stone up to her lips, kissed it lightly and said, “vivre”. Then she held her hand flat.

The stone started to shake a little, then small cracks appeared on its side. There were three cracks on each side and from each a tiny leg came out. Then two cracks appeared at the front and two antennae appeared. The stone insect walked around Marie’s hand a few circuits, trying out its new legs.

“Little one,” said Marie, “I have a job for you. You will be a stone again in a little while, and you will wait outside the window. A man will come in the night and come to this window. When he leaves, you will follow him and then come back to me. Then you will show me where he goes.”

MM Ch 8

The insect walked around a bit more then seemed to nod. Marie put it gently on the ground. The legs and antennae curled back into the stone and it was normal again. Marie shut the window and stared outside for a while.

“I will find you, you monster,” she said, then quietly left the room.

The Mancunian Mesmerist: Chapter 9

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