Sir John, Detective Symonds, and Phlebotomous Bosch were sitting in the drawing room around a small table. Mrs Flitwick had come into the room with tea and cake on a silver plate. She was eyeing Phlebotomous warily and seemed intent on staying on the other side of the table from him as she laid out the tea, cups, and plates.
“So, Mr Bosch,” said Detective Symonds, “although you appear to be innocent of the crimes, we shall want to speak to someone who can confirm your movements on certain nights. I’m sure you understand, given your … condition.”
Mrs Flitwick seemed to start muttering some sort of prayer as Symonds said this.
“Of course I understand,” said Phlebotomous, “and please call me Phlebotomous. My friend usually does. As fortune has it, I am often demonstrating my many inventions of an evening and I can check my diary for the dates.”
He held his left hand just in front of him and opened his jacket. A small book shot out of it causing Symonds to duck. It landed close to a table with some crochet on it, dislodging the table cloth. Mrs Flitwick made the sign of the cross and quickly left the room. Symonds reached down and passed the book back to Phlebotomous.
“That may need a little work,” said the vampire. He turned round to see Sir John peering at him through a small device like a telescope on a stick.
“What in the world is that?” asked Phlebotomous.
“It’s my portable ectoscope, for investigating magical artefacts,” said Sir John.
“Oh, how does that work?” asked Phlebotomous.
“Gentlemen,” said Symonds, “perhaps we can return to the matter at hand.”
“Of course,” said Phlebotomous and Sir John in unison.
“So on the night of the 14th?” asked Symonds.
“Let me see,” said Phlebotomous, opening his diary. “Ah! I dined with the Fotheringays, lovely couple, and demonstrated my patented Hair Untangler.”
“And they will vouch for you?” asked Symonds.
“I imagine so,” said Phlebotomous, “although there was an unfortunate incident with the dog.”
“What happened?” said Sir John.
“Well, I must have overcompensated for the feedback torque a little,” said Phlebotomous. “Long story short, the dog is now bald.”
“Oh, I had a similar experience with a Phantasm Trap,” said Sir John. “The medical bills were quite extensive.”
“Gentlemen…” started Symonds.
“How were you going to trap phantasms?” asked Phlebotomous. “Aren’t they largely non-corporeal?”
“I had an electromagnetic wire cage as a sort of containment device,” said Sir John. “The burns were rather nasty.”
“Gentlemen…” said Symonds again,
“How interesting,” said Phlebotomous. “And you use these devices to investigate supernatural phenomena?”
“Indeed,” said Sir John. “My wife and I, we work together, have so far successfully investigated a haunting and a case of mesmerism.”
“If we may continue…” said Symonds.
“And that’s all you’ve used? These devices?” asked Phlebotomous.
“And our deductive reasoning powers,” said Sir John. “And, Marie has, you know, a woman’s intuition.”
“I must insist…” said Symonds.
“Well, you must have great reasoning powers, sir, I’m impressed,” said Phlebotomous. “Usually these sorts of creatures and intelligences need a sort of … power … to work with them.”
“Gentlemen, please!” shouted Symonds. The two others looked at him with curiosity. Just then the door opened and Marie came in.
“Mon cher,” she started to say, then pressed herself against the wall, staring at Phlebotomous.
“Oh, of course!” he said. “Now I understand … your wife! A witch!”
“I beg your pardon!” said Sir John, “May I remind you sir that this is my house.”
“Oh, sorry,” said Phlebotomous. “Yes, I imagine it’s a secret that’s she’s a witch. I do apologise.”
“A secret?” said Sir John. “Sir, there is no secret. My wife is not a witch.”
He turned to Marie.
“My dear, I’m sorry for what this mad fellow has said. You’re clearly not a witch.”
He saw the look on her face.
“Marie?” he said.
“I’m sorry,” said Marie and fled from the room.
There was a sound of the front door closing and footsteps running down the street.
The Fulham Fiend: Chapter 8