The room was dark with just a little evening sunshine in one corner. It was filled with boxes and mechanical objects of all sizes with a large table in the middle.  A small, pale man walked into the room, yawning, and went to the table, carefully avoiding the light. He pressed a button and a clicking sound started from a far wall, followed shortly by a whistling sound. A small toy train emerged with a coffee pot on it. The train pulled up shortly in front of the man and the pot fell off, spilling its contents over the table.

“Hm,” said Phlebotomous Bosch. “Needs improvement.”

He pulled out a notebook and started writing when the door smashed open and five men burst in. Phlebotomous jumped up in horror.

“I can give you a refund!” he said.

“Quick, Symonds,” said Dawlish, “the crucifix!”

Symonds produced a crucifix as the men approached, and instantly a pair of dark glasses appeared out of Phlebotomous’ hat and landed on his eyes.

“Stake! Water!” barked Dawlish and the two men in uniform moved forward. One fired a small piece of wood from a crossbow at Phlebotomous, but a flat brass hand on a concertina extender popped out from his suit and deflected the wood. The other uniformed man squirted some water at Bosch, but an umbrella appeared from the small man’s coat and the water ran off. Dawlish ran forward and grabbed Phlebotomous and dragged him to where the sun came in. He flung open the curtains to expose Phlebotomous to the sunlight. From Phlebotomous’ hat a parasol emerged. Dawlish let go.

“So, gentlemen,” said Phlebotomous, “as you can see, I am invincible.”

He went to lean on a table that wasn’t there and fell onto the floor with a clatter. Sir John looked from behind the other four men who were peering down at the dishevelled heap of suit, umbrella, and parasol.

ff-ch-6-sepia“Needs Improvement!”

“Do you need some assistance?” asked Sir John and the other four men stared at him.

“No, no need,” said a voice from the pile of clothes and artefacts. “I have just the thing.”

Suddenly there was a loud noise like a bedspring, and the pile of clothes shot up to the ceiling, hitting it with a loud thump before falling to the ground.

“Actually, I may need help,” said the voice again.

Dawlish nodded at the two constables and they lifted the small man  to his feet.

“Mr Bosch,” said Dawlish, “Vampire! I am arresting you on suspicion of murder. Eight murders to be precise.“

“Murder?” said Phlebotomous, “I thought you were here about the folding machine. Hah! Well I can’t be a murderer, I’m a vegetarian.”

“You’re a vegetarian?” said Symonds.

“What, you’re not surprised I’m a vampire, but you’re amazed I’m a vegetarian?” said Phlebotomous.

“How do you, you know, eat,” said Sir John.

“I make a protein-based compound using mushrooms, soy, and plum tomatoes. It’s ethical, nutritious, and delicious, too!”

“Do you expect us to believe that?” said Dawlish.

“Of course not!” said Phlebotomous. “You can try it, I always keep some in stock. “

“No,” said Dawlish, “do you expect us to believe you’re not the killer?”

“Inspector Dawlish!” said a new voice from the door, “there’s been another one, a murder, within the hour.”

“But we’ve been watching this house for hours.” said Symonds.

“You see, I am proved innocent,” said Phlebotomous and went to lean on nothing again. Sir John caught his elbow before he fell down. Dawlish look furious.

“Alright, then,” he said, “so it seems. Constables, follow me. We shall investigate the murder. Sir John, take Symonds and this … creature with you. I want to know more about him.”

The Fulham Fiend: Chapter 7

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