“Anglestone … Anglestone …” said Sir John looking through a small booklet. “Yes, he has a telephonic device! Marie, I shall call and arrange a meeting.”

Sir John left the parlour and Marie sat and continued with her crochet. There was quiet for a while and then a knocking on the front door. Marie heard footsteps that sounded like the maid, Miss Henderson, and then the door was opened. There was a fearful shrieking from the maid then a series of thumping sounds. Sir John’s voice joined the cacophony and shouts and thumps came up the hall to the parlour. The door swung open and Sir John and Miss Henderson came through with a strange figure between them. It was smaller than a man and was covered with a thin white skin. Its face was smooth and blank with just two manic looking eyes and and a small slit where a nose might be. The creature was shrieking and wailing as Miss Henderson hit it from time to time. It started clawing at its face, grabbing the skin at the neck and peeling it back. Marie looked in horror as it peeled off its face to reveal…

“Mr Bosch!” said Miss Henderson, releasing the figure.

The vampire bent over and took great gasps of air for several minutes. He waved the white leather helmet he had been wearing at the others in the room, seemingly by way of explanation. Marie helped him into a chair as he got his breath back. Eventually, he was breathing normally.

aa-ch-3“Mr Bosch!”

“I was just passing by and though I’d drop in,” he said.

“Don’t you live on the other side of town?” asked Sir John.

“Yes, it was actually quite a struggle to pass by,” said Phlebotomous, “especially as I was wearing this experimental day-time suit. It was rather hard to breathe.”

“I’ll make some tea,” said Miss Henderson, who left.

“So,” said Phlebotomous casually, “how have things been? Any new cases that might need helping with.”

“Well,” said Sir John, “we do have a new case…”

Mon cher,” reproached Marie gently, “it is supposed to be secret.”

“I’m sure Phlebotomous won’t tell anyone,” said Sir John.

“How could I?” laughed Phlebotomous and looked down.

“Well, to be discreet,” said Sir John, “we are looking for some magical objects that have been stolen.”

“Oh,” said Phlebotmous, “then you should go to Albert Cunningham’s Second-Hand Emporium in Croydon. He often has knowledge of missing occult artefacts.”

“He is a clairvoyant?” asked Sir John.

“More of a receiver of stolen goods…” said Phlebotomous.

“Well,” said Sir John, “we are seeing a Lord Anglestone tomorrow to assist. Maybe we’ll see this other gentleman the day after.”

“I’m not sure I’d call him a gentleman,” said Phlebotomous, “but now I know what you’re looking for. I presume Diarmuid Mac Dubh’s artefacts have been stolen from the British Museum again.”

“Again?’ said Marie.

“It seems to happen every century or so,” said Phlebotomous. “No idea why.”

“Fascinating,” said Sir John as Miss Henderson arrived with the tea.

“I wonder,” said Phlebotomous, looking mournfully at his leather helmet, “if I might impose upon you to let me stay until sunset?”

The Auld Alchemist: Chapter 4

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