The Fulham Fiend: Chapter 5

Sir John and Marie sat in the drawing room of their house. Sir John seemed quite animated and was glancing from time to time out of the front window whilst Marie was working on some crochet. Eventually he made a contented sound and sat back. A few moment later there was a knock at the drawing room door and it swung open. Sir John sprang up.

“Well, gentlemen, I have had some success,” he proclaimed as the maid came in, alone. She looked a little non-plussed at Sir John.

“Tea, Sir Jenkins?” she asked.

“Was there nobody at the door?” asked Sir John. There was a knocking sound just then from the external door. The maid headed to the sound and Sir John sat down again. As the drawing room door swung open, he jumped up again.

“Well, gentlemen, I have had … ” he started then saw the maid was alone.

“Two gentlemen to see you, sir,” she said. “Two gentlemen of the constabulary. Again. Should I let them in?”

“Yes, yes, of course,” said Sir John. He sat down again and fidgeted a bit. Marie patted him gently on the knee. The two detectives, Symonds and Dawlish, entered the room with the maid behind.

“I believe you have had some success?” said Dawlish, the older man, as he was entering the room. Sir John sprang up, opened his mouth and then shut it again.

“Well, yes,” Sir John said, looking crestfallen. “How do you know?”

“We are policemen,” said Symonds, “it is our job to know things.”

The maid made a squeaking sort of noise and then quickly left the room.

FF Chapter 5“How Marvellous!”

“Well,” said Sir John, “I believe I have located the fiend. We have, sirs, an address. I suggest we go straight there and apprehend the fellow.”

“May we sit?” asked Dawlish.

“There’s no time to lose!” said Sir John.

“It’s daylight Sir John,” said Symonds. “The swine isn’t going anywhere.”

Sir John sat down looking defeated, and the other two men took it as their cue to sit.

“They are right, mon cher,” said Marie. “From the research I did these creatures can’t move in daylight. It burns their skin. They are also vulnerable to holy water and crucifixes. And the only way to kill them is to drive a stake through their heart.”

Dawlish’s mustache wobbled in appreciation.

“Excellent work, Mrs Jennings,” he said. “Then we shall need those items. Symonds, can you get those?”

“Most certainly,” said Symonds.

“Sir John, if you can furnish me with the address, I can post a constable outside to make sure there is no movement in or out,” said Dawlish.

“What can I do?” asked Sir John, handing over the paper.

“Prepare yourself, sir. I believe we may need your special skills. You will accompany us when we apprehend the villain,” answered Dawlish.

“How marvellous!” said Sir John. He sat back in his chair.

“Detective Dawlish,” said Marie, “do you really believe it is necessary for my husband to be there?”

“Have no fear, madam,” said Dawlish. “We shall keep your husband out of harm’s way. Our men will go in first. I guarantee that Sir John will come to no harm.”

“See, Marie,” said Sir John, “it’s like I said to you, there’s nothing to be worried about.”

Marie saw his hand was shaking a little.

The Fulham Fiend: Chapter 6

Two for Joy

I have discovered this week that Oscar Wilde’s “Bunbury” was likely a portmanteau of Sunbury and Banbury, following a tryst Mr Wilde allegedly had in a location twixt those two towns.

That led me to muse on my own writing and the fact that, in a less dramatic way, I do something similar. For example, Pook and Clackprattle stay at luxury rooms in Manchester Britannia Hotel because I once spent a unpleasant week in a terrible room there.

I pursued the thought to its conclusion and wondered if writers always hide some aspects of their lives in plain view like this. How many secrets of an author’s life are wrapped up in the warp and weft of their narrative, visible only to themselves and blissfully overlooked by the reader.

On the topic of unsatisfactory hostelries, the Benthic Times recently found itself in a hotel that can best be described as “adequate”. In fact it was probably the epitome of adequate.

And although the general blankness of the place worked nicely as a canvas for the imagination, it wasn’t terribly aesthetically pleasing. We did spy, though, these intriguing light fittings. It was most unusual, as we were several miles from the coast. They function as proof that even in the darkest spots, often especially so, one can find something Benthic.

light cropped


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.”

The Fulham Fiend: Chapter 5

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…


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.”

The Fulham Fiend: Chapter 4

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.”

The Fulham Fiend: Chapter 3

Complimentary Literature

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

Alternately, there is this…for modern devices.


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!”

The Fulham Fiend: Chapter 2