The Paris Awakening: Earth Part 9

La Fleur Compass pp

The noise of construction was quite constant in the church interior, and despite Sabine’s intentions, Sir John felt sure the only artistry was the colourful language coming from the workers. He was near the entrance and had taken to pacing and glancing occasionally out the front door, interspersing this with comments like “she doesn’t know we’re here” to anyone passing. When he finally saw Marie returning with Miss Henderson and Morag his heart leapt with joy.

“Marie!” he called as his wife arrived in the church and gawped up at the decoration. “You have returned.”

“Oh mon cher, I am sorry I left so suddenly, but I felt sure I could find him,” said Maire.

“It doesn’t matter my dear,” he said, then added, “Find who?”

“My uncle, look he gave me this,” said Marie holding out the compass.

“Oh,” said Phlebotomous, coming to see what the new commotion was, “it’s a sundial!”

“No Mr Bosch,” said Miss Henderson, carefully and slowly. “It’s a compass. See the little needle moving?”

“Oh that’s just to calibrate it,” said Phlebotomous, taking the device. “See I lift up the latitude arm here, open up the gnomon thus and…. Well perhaps you could check it Miss Henderson. I can’t really go out. But make sure it points north, that’s what the compass is for.”

“What a jolly good idea,” said Miss Henderson. “Morag, why don’t you accompany me? Mr Bosch, I expect your little friend needs you.”

“No Osvold is fine,” said Phlebotomous, “I can wait here until you get back.”

Miss Henderson’s eyes rolled up, then shot sideways at Sir John and Marie, who were looking awkwardly at each other. Finally she nodded vigorously to where Phlebotomous and Osvold were hiding from the sun. Phlebotomous looked confused at her then suddenly a surprised look spread across his face.

“Oh!” he said, “I’ve just remembered something very important that I need to do over there.”

He started to walk over to the little hideaway he had built for himself and Osvold.

“It’s best that I don’t tell you what it is,” he said, and walked on a little further before adding, “It is however completely safe.”

Miss Henderson sighed and walked out of the building with the compass, Morag following after her.

A silence grew between Sir John and Marie.

“My dear wife…” started Sir John, his voice a little hesitant.

“Oh mon cher, I am sorry for running off and how I have been lately,” said Marie. “Things have been so strange for me.”

“…you seem as if something in the diary has upset you…” continued Sir John, barely registering what Marie had said.

“Yes and…no,” said Marie. “It was not the diary itself but the memories it provoked. I had thought all my life my childhood was a sad one, filled with rejection and alienation. But the diary reminded me I was someone else back then, someone more confident than I am now. And it made me wonder who the real me was.”

“…would you like to talk about it…” Sir John said.

“I should have from the start I suppose, but I started to think that if I wasn’t who I thought I was, who would know the real me. I suppose I closed down a little. I started to think about my uncle, that he would know me better than I knew myself. So I started to search for him in my memories, but I couldn’t see where he was. Then it came to me, I should use my powers to find him. I wasn’t sure how, but I felt sure if I walked the city I could walk my way to him. And it worked and I found him. Oh mon cher, we talked for just a little while, but it made me realise that I am not this girl anymore, that she was the seed of who I am. And then I realised I needed to be who I am now, and be with the people I know now and be…”

“…with me?” said Sir John.

Marie’s face softened and she gazed at her husband. She took his face in her hands.

“Yes, mon cher, with you,” she said. “I need to be with you.”

Marie kissed Sir John and smiled.

“I should find Emile and we should get everyone together,” she said. “We need to find these things that Clackprattle and Pook are searching for.”

Marie went looking deeper into the church and Sir John stood stunned.

“I’m getting rather good at this husband lark,” he whispered to himself.

Miss Henderson walked in just then.

“Mr Bosch, this sundial thing doesn’t tell the correct time,” she shouted across the church. “I think the gnome is broken.”

The Paris Awakening: Earth Part 8

Artifact

Marie sat in the old man’s living room as he brought a coffee pot into the room with some old looking biscuits. He served Marie then sat down, barely taking his eyes off her.

“I can’t believe it’s you!” he said. “All these years… and you were alive.”

“Uncle, I am so sorry,” said Marie, “I had no idea we were really related. I thought… you were a family friend.”

“It doesn’t matter,” said Uncle Thierry. “All that matters is that you are alive. Have you been in Paris all this time?”

“For a while, but I live in London now, I’m married to an Englishman,” said Marie.

Uncle Thierry snorted.

“Well, each to their own,” he said, “but how can you stand the food?”

Marie smiled.

“You get used to it,” she said.

Thierry laughed long and hard. Marie thought how she had forgotten his laughter. How it had brightened up her home as a child.

“Uncle,” said Marie. “I wanted to ask you some things. Something about my mother.”

“Of course,” said Thierry, “but in truth I didn’t know her so well.”

Marie looked puzzled.

“But, you are her brother?” she said.

“Ah,” said Thierry, “I know why you are confused. No, I am your aunt’s brother, yes, but your aunt was not your mother’s sister. It was her husband that was your blood relative, Marie. He was your mother’s brother.”

“But… I thought,” said Marie.

“Yes, I think they told you the other way round,” said Thierry. “I don’t know why. Your mother was… well, she was… different you know. Had some unusual ideas.”

Marie looked at the kind face.

“How would you say she was different?” said Marie.

“Well she never stayed still for a start,” said Thierry. “First she came to Paris, then moved to that village when you were born…”

“She was in Paris?” said Marie.

“Yes, yes,” said Thierry, “That’s where she met your father. He died of cholera you know, in the outbreak, when you were still inside your mother. It was a miracle she survived, that you both survived. I guess that’s why she wanted to go back to the countryside.”

“So she came first from the village?” said Marie. “The one where I grew up?”

“No, not at all,” said Thierry, “She came from somewhere South I think. I never knew where. As I said, I didn’t know her too well, Marie. Your uncle didn’t talk much about her either.”

There was silence then as Marie looked into her coffee cup.

“Here,” said Thierry, “I have something for you to cheer you up.”

The old man rummaged about in a big cupboard, grumbling and cursing. Marie smiled at this, remembering other times.

“Here it is,” he said at last and brought forward a small brass object. He gave it to Marie and she stared down at it. It looked like a compass but with other gauges and attachments.

“What is it?” said Marie.

“No idea,” said Thierry. “It belonged to your uncle. He said it was special somehow. Never explained why. Come to think of it he was a little different too. It’s no wonder you’ve run off to England!”

Marie smiled again.

“Thank you Uncle,” she said and started to stand.

“Are you going already?” he said sadly.

“I should get back,” said Marie, “People will wonder where I am.”

“Well, come see me soon,” said Thierry. Marie gathered her things and pocketed the compass.

“By the way.” said Thierry, “How did you find me in the first place? I’ve only lived here five years.”

“It was… a bit of luck,” said Marie. She hugged her uncle and then left.

He pottered a bit around the room, then looked in the cupboard again. Inside he found a small piece of jewellry and held it to the light.

“I knew you were in there somewhere,” he said.

There was a knock at the door and so Thierry dropped the jewelry on the side and went to answer it.

“Marie?” he said, as he opened the door, “Did you forget something?”

Outside stood a short thin man and a larger fat man with a glove on one hand.

“I wonder sir,” said the thin man, “if we may possibly come inside for a short moment to discuss a matter of no small importance.”

The fat man took his glove off and Thierry stared at the strange green colour of his hand.

The Paris Awakening: Earth Part 7

Pipe Organpp

“It’s slightly larger than I imagined,” said Sir John looking at the building interior.

Emile walked in behind Sir John, stopped and stared.

Meeeeerdre!” he said, drawing out the word.

“Indeed,” said Sir John.

The building had seemed impressive enough from the outside. It had once been a church and Sir John had imagined it had been converted into apartments. He hadn’t expected that the interior was one vast vault. Nor that it had been decorated in this Art Nouveau style. Large green whorls and arches looped everywhere, the whole thing appearing to be a vast metal forest.

“It is intended to look like the Garden of Eden,” said Sabine as she walked in. “I had hoped to attract artists and intelligencia to create a commune of creators building a new paradise.”

“What happened?” said Emile staring in awe at the vast organ dominating one end of the room.

“It was not to be,” she said. “Everyone wants to be north of the river. Time will tell, though. I feel I may win in the end.”

“It will probably need dividing up into… rooms… or something,” said Sir John, “if we are all to co-exist here.”

“A very good point Sir John,” said Sabine. “I know just the man. He is quite the expert but is not cheap. I shall call him at once?”

Emile smirked and sat on the edge of a nearby table, whose legs looked like upturned ferns.

“Is it safe?” said a voice from outside. “Can we come in?”

Sir John looked back at the carriage. Inside, shying away from the light was Phlebotomous.

“There’s a little sunlight coming through the stained glass,” said Sir John, “but I see some screens you could use to shelter behind.”

A large blanket with two humps underneath came out from the carriage and made its way to the church. Once inside it walked to the area that Sir John indicated. One hump sat down and Phlebotomous emerged, pulling a nearby screen to block out the sun before pulling the blanket down over Osvold’s head.

“Do you think we shall be safe, living with two vampires?” said Sabine.

Sir John watched as Phlebotomous carefully tucked Osvold into the blanket and then moved another screen to make sure he was fully shaded from all angles.

“I’m not terribly concerned about that,” Sir John said.

Sabine made a small noise and headed out the door.

“I suppose we had better get our things,” said Sir John.

Emile looked up from the paper he was reading.

“Eventually, I imagine,” he said. “Good Lord, Pascale is dead now!”

“The head of that skeptic research order?” said Sir John, absently.

“The same,” said Emile. He looked up and saw Sir John staring into space.

“Are you alright my friend?” he said.

“I was just wondering if I shouldn’t be out looking for Marie,” said Sir John.

“I’m sure Miss Henderson and the talking dog will be fine,” said Emile. “They rescued her in the first place, after all.”

“It’s not her physical safety I’m worried about,” said Sir John. “She’s been… preoccupied for days. Since she found that diary, she’s barely left the hotel room.”

“Did you talk to her about it?” said Emile.

Sir John looked uncomfortable.

“It seemed like a private thing,” he said.

“She’s your wife!” said Emile incredulously. “You can talk about private things.”

“I just… wasn’t sure how to broach the topic really,” said Sir John.

“My God, you English,” said Emile, “you drive yourselves round a wall. It’s perfectly simple.”

There was a pause and Sir John looked at Emile.

“How might one… do that?” said Sir John. Emile rolled his eyes.

“You would say something like, ahem, my dear wife, you seem as if something in the diary has upset you, would you like to talk about it with me?”

“Won’t she think that’s a bit… pushy?” said Sir John.

Emile strolled over to Sir John and placed his big hand on Sir John’s shoulder.

“Sir John, my friend, I think of you like a brother,” Emile said. “But sometimes, in sheer frustration, I used to hit my brother. Talk to your wife.”

Emile smiled broadly at Sir John who nodded and looked worried.

Sabine came back into the room and walked up to the two men.

“Good news,” said Sabine, “the artisan can start work at once. Sir John, I’ll need you to write me a cheque for 1,000 francs.”

 

*The Pipe Organ of Notre Dame du Travail, a Creative Commons photograph by Mbzt, modified.

The Paris Awakening: Earth Part 6

Paris street

Marie meandered through the city as thoughts meandered through her mind.

I remember the running, she thought. I remember the running, but never the walking.

Walking first to meet the city, the sprawl and noise of it, the colour and aroma, meeting it wide-eyed. The country girl in the big city, holding her aunt’s hand as her aunt looked for clothes and food in the myriad of shops. Then later, older, looking herself for clothes to define her. The young lady about town, strolling around her city, heavy lidded and sharp tongued. Always something clever on her lips.

Then later again, in the siege, despite the madness, a walk of defiance, of pride. Having nothing but being everything, being, still, part of that city. The only city that mattered. Its streets her streets and its sights hers to see. Even when the shelling came and then…

And then…

And then the running. And the fear. And the remembering of a past she had forgotten.

So why did I remember only this, that I tried to forget. Fear and running? How had she forgotten the days walking in the sunshine and the rain, in all the seasons and feeling alive, fearless and above all, Parisienne?

She clutched the diary tight to her, afraid that if she lost it again, she would lose the memories it had brought back to her. She found she was walking by the river, by people dancing, by boats passing by.

Where am I now? she thought.

She turned left on instinct, up a street she had never visited but knew every inch of. Felt the strange tidal pull of something, someone calling her. Past the coffee and smoke of a café and the old guy on the corner sitting alone. He called something out as she walked into the road and there was a screech of machinery. Someone shouted at her and she glanced and moved on. Right, left, along.

I shopped there once didn’t I? That little boutique where she bought a hat newly made that morning, newly designed. The very height of fashion. Now right down this alleyway, a shortcut, but to where? Ah, of course, this little café where she had met her friends, now all, now all what? All elsewhere, all abandoned by her. She felt an ache then and headed across to the confectionary shop, lingered a moment looking at the artistry before the tug of that tide came again.

Left, left and over this square, past the lady in the shop eyeing her curiously. What is she calling out? Marie didn’t know as she went down the street and along the boulevard, listening to the tide, the call, his call.

And who was he? Not who I had thought. Not who I had thought at all.

Not far now, she thought. Right, left and up to this door. She knocked and waited, still and quiet, until the door opened up. An old man looked out at her, his expression of confusion.

“Hello Uncle,” said Marie.

The man’s eyes grew saucer-sized and his smile broke like a wave.

 

*Artwork by Jean Béraud, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1350726 (modified)

The Paris Awakening: Earth Part 5

Eye looking through doorChaos reigned in Emile’s apartment. As he watched it unfold, Emile considered that whilst this was not a new phenomenon, the circumstances were somewhat unusual. There was a knock at door and Emile opened it a crack and looked out. Sabine glared back at him.

“Do you have a woman?” she said.

“No!” said Emile, “why would you say such a thing?”

“Then let me into the apartment!” she said.

Emile opened the door and Sabine breezed in dramatically. She went to speak then looked at the scene in front of her.

“What is happening here?” she said. “Are you having a party?”

“Well,” said Emile, “it’s like this: The two pale gentlemen over there are apparently vampires. One came from England, although I don’t think he’s English, and the other worked in Dinard’s shop. We have just worked out that the Clackprattle man and his pookah side-kick are in Paris, looking for a weapon, and probably killed Dinard.”

Mon Dieu!” said Sabine, “Sir John I recognise, but the other lady and the dog…”

“The dog is called Morag and is the daughter of the alchemist Sir John told us about. For a set of reasons I have yet to grasp, she is in the body of a dog. The tall lady is their maid.”

“And she has supernatural powers?” said Sabine looking in awe at the group.

“No,” said Emile, “but she is an expert in Kung Fu and other martial arts. They went to the hotel of Sir John and interrupted Pook who had mesmerised Marie. Marie is having a little lie down after that.”

“Of course, of course” said Sabine absently, then walked into the room.

Allo one and all,” she announced. “My name is Sabine Bellevoix and I am here to help.”
The assembled cast looked around and the flamboyantly dressed lady smiling broadly at them. Miss Henderson sniffed.

“Ah, you must be the maid,” said Sabine. “How fortunate that you happened to be at the right place at the right time.”

“I’m not sure I like your inspiration,” said Miss Henderson with a frown.

Sabine’s smile froze and she looked a little confused.

“As I’ve explained to your… gentlemen friend… I was showing Miss Henderson how to use alchemic powders for fortune telling,” said Morag. “We divined there was danger for the family and came as soon as we could. We were waiting in the lobby for Sir John when Pook arrived and so we followed him up.”

“Of course, of course,” said Sabine, “forgive me, I didn’t mean to sound critical.”

“I am uncomfortable when people cast excursions,” said Miss Henderson looking down.

“Oh dear,” said Sabine, “we seem to have got off on the wrong foot.”
Miss Henderson muttered something also that maybe included “off” and Sir John coughed.

“We do need to understand why Morag was unaffected by Pook’s influence,” said Sir John. “It may help us overcome his power. We should try some experiments, perhaps.”

Emile, Sir John and Phlebotomous all looked curiously over at Morag.

“Ye can get that idea right out of yon heads!” she said.

“If I may be so bold,” said Miss Henderson, “I would suggest that our biggest problem is one of location. Clearly Clackprattle and Pook know about the shop where Osvold lives and the hotel where Sir John and Mrs Jennings are.”

“Well you may stay here of course,” said Emile. “It will be a little cramped but…”

“Nonsense,” said Sabine. “I insist everyone stay in my rooms in Montparnasse. They are more than adequate.”

“You have rooms in Montparnasse?” said Emile incredulously.

“A girl has to have secrets,” said Sabine. “We are closer to the life here, it is too quiet there.”

Sir John stood up.

“I’ll go and wake Marie,” he said, “and let her know we are likely to be moving.”

“It is perhaps 20 minutes away!” said Emile. “I slept on the sofa… for weeks… to save you 20 minutes?”

“It was very noble of you,” said Sabine, “and quite unnecessary.”

Emile started to speak when Sir John ran back into the room.

“Marie!” he said. “She’s gone!”

 

The Paris Awakening: Earth Part 4

marie with diary 2p

“Well hello Mr Pook, why don’t you come in?” said Pook. “That’s what you’re supposed to say, Marie.”

He walked into the room while Marie stood by the door, dumbfounded.

“It’s been such a long time and so much has happened, Mr Pook,” Pook continued. “Do tell me all your news.”

Pook looked at Marie and smiled.

“That would be the civilized thing to say Marie,” he said. “But you wouldn’t say that, would you? And now, indeed, nor can can you. That must come as a little bit of a surprise, I imagine. To learn that I have acquired a more… persuasive ability since last we met. You may close the door now.”

Marie absently pushed the door shut and stared aghast at the creature in front of her.

“Oh Marie, if only you’d seen things my way from the start. We could have ditched Clackprattle and that buffoon you’re married to. We could have fleeced Anglestone of that marvellous little stone. We could have danced around the world with the power of life and death in our hands. What a most wonderful adventure we could have had,” he said, then looked down.

“Instead, you mocked and insulted me, rejected me. But Marie, you see, I don’t mind all that. See where I am now, don’t you want to come with me? That’s better than being stuck in here reading all day,” he said, glancing at the book she had.

“Oh my,” Pook continued, “a diary. How utterly fascinating. What wonders are in there, I can barely imagine.”

He moved towards her and there was a knock at the door.

“Room service,” said a lady’s voice.

Pook look annoyed then saw the dishes on the table.

“Wrong room,” he said, ”you brought food already.”

“It’s, er, dessert,” said the voice. “It’s prophet-a-holes.”

Pook walked to the door and opened it a little.

“Now look…” he started but the door crashed in on him. A large woman barged into the room and punched Pook in the face. Behind her came a large dog that growled at Pook as he lay on the floor.

Mon Dieu,” gasped Marie, “Miss Henderson and… Morag!”

“Silence!” said Pook sitting up and clutching his nose, blood seeping between his fingers. Everyone else in the room stood stock still.

“You see now, the importance of good manners,” he said. “My dear ladies, I’m afraid I have the upper hand now.

“Ahm afraid that I’m no lady,” said the dog with a deep Scottish brogue, “and if you don’t get your upper hand out of here now, you’ll be picking it out from between ma teeth.”

Pook smiled graciously.

Touche,” he said. He looked at the frozen women.

“Let’s not say goodbye,” he said, “Let’s say au revoir.”

Pook left the room and both Miss Henderson and Marie unfroze.

“What a bleeding cheek,” said Miss Henderson. Marie collapsed and was caught by the maid, just as she burst into tears.

Miss Henderson looked at the untidy room, the dishevelled look of Marie and finally caught sight of the French cuisine on the table. She sighed heavily.

“We shall have to find you some proper food, Mrs Jennings,” she said.

Sunshine for a Sunday

Sunshine Blogger

Hello Dear Readers

I  was given a little spring in my step and a smile on my face last week when I was nominated for the Sunshine Blogger award by the wonderful Soulitary Reaper to whom I offer immense gratitude.

For those of you not versed with this award, the details are here.

Here are the Rules of the Award:

  • Thank the blogger(s) who nominated you in the blog post and link back to their blog.
  • Answer the 11 questions the blogger(s) asked you.
  • Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award Logo in your post and/or on your blog.

And here within are the 11 questions I was posed and my answers to them.

1. Do you have a favourite family memorabilia/heirloom? What is it?

Sadly not. My somewhat peripatetic life has led me to exist with scant regard for physical possessions unless absolutely necessary. I did once possess my grandfather’s harmonica. He was by all accounts a musician of no small talent. Tragically, although he passed on the harmonica, he didn’t pass on the talent and my own efforts sounded like two asthmatic cats having an argument at midnight.

2. If you could go back in your own timeline, what would the ‘present you’ tell the ‘2008 you?’

Move to Switzerland and buy a top hat. Those two things between them have brought me all thats best in my life.

3. Which book character would you like to run away with?

I suspect I’m done with running away for a good while, but I would very much like to meet Otto from The Watchmaker of Filigree Street and have him around the house.

4. Do you like your job? What’s your dream job?

As a self employed artisan in my “day job” I would be forced to say yes to the first part. For the second, if I could wave a magic wand I would be a writer. With better teeth. And less grey hairs.

5. Which country would you like to travel to?

Japan – Ms Josephine Pichette organised a number of rebellions and revolutions there. She tells me the food is quite remarkable and the refuse collection unusually ornate.

6. What do you look forward to when you wake up each day?

Turning off the alarm clock. It’s really quite an irritating and jaunty sound and I don’t know how to change it. Making that infernal noise stop is definitely a highlight of the day.

7. If you can meet The Creator, what would you tell him?

I’d say – thanks awfully for existence and all that. But I wonder if you could do me  a favour. There seems to be some disagreement down here about exactly what you want, and some chaps are getting rather hot under the collar about it. Perhaps you could pop down in person, so to speak, and clear up any confusion.

8. What was your favourite show as a kid? (Why did Cartoon Network have to change…)

Scooby Doo – at least one of our stories has a non-too subtle reference to that show. And for absolute clarity, the series before the damnable Scrappy Doo.

9. What is the big announcement about your life that you’d like to give right now?

Unfortunately  I don’t have an announcement as such, but I do have a half baked idea I want to work on this year. I’m rather hoping to create some sort of a live entertainment cabaret for The Benthic Times. It would be a sort of Steampunk Kurt Weill. I suspect given my answer to question 1 I’m on a hiding to nothing, but you never know til you try.

10. Given a choice, which villain would you like to be?

Well none of mine for sure… they’re all awful in different ways. Perhaps Darth Vader as he is a fair swordsman, achieves personal redemption and manages to wear a cape with panache. Thats a rare talent these days.

11. How was your day?

It is just starting. So far I’ve had the joy of two coffees, answering these questions and I’m looking forward to an Italian meal for lunch. So full marks so far.

Thanks Padma for the lovely questions.

My nominated blogs for the award are (in no particular order)

Non Euclidean Sofa

Simoneteffect

Old Guv Legends

Daily Doodle

Little Fears

Maxxesbooktopia

Steampunk Music Blog

Cogpunk Steamscribe

Vasa and Ypres

Slippery Edge

Inkbiotic

Dear Fellow bloggers, if you may permit me to trouble your busy day with a request to answer the following questions

  1. Why did you start to blog?
  2. Is that still the same reason and, if not, what has changed?
  3. If it was 1918, or even 1968, how would you “blog”?
  4. Which is your favourite post?
  5. Which is your most successful post (however you think of that)?
  6. Do you have a creative endeavour that came out of your blog, such as a book or other objet d’art?
  7. You host a dinner party with four other people, fictional or real, from any point in history. Who gets the invite?
  8. What do you cook?
  9. And what do you talk about?
  10. What is the question I haven’t asked, but should?
  11. And what is the answer to that?

Thanks all, have a marvellous Sunshine Sunday!

The Paris Awakening: Earth Part 3

journal 1p

Sir John and Emile sat in the shop whilst Phlebotomous went to the back to get Osvold. Emile flicked through the paper, a cigarette hanging down from his lip.

“Oof,” he announced, “looks like Marchauld has died.”

“The one from the Clairvoyant Research Institute?” said Sir John.

“Yes, that one,” said Emile, who then smirked. “Hmm, I wonder if he saw that coming.”

Phlebotomous and Osvold came in then and sat down opposite Sir John and Emile.

“Osvold,” said Sir John, “we wanted to ask you about the day M Dinard died. Do you remember that day?”

Osvold nodded slowly and sadly then looked down.

“Yes, of course, you do,” said Sir John. “The last name is his meeting book, perhaps the last person he met, was a Mr Clackprattle. Do you know who that is?”

Osvold looked thoughtful for a while and then leaned over to Phlebotomous and whispered.

“He thinks he’s a very fat man…” said Phlebotomous. Osvold leaned in again.

“…who vexed M Dinard enough to make him use bad language,” said Phlebotomous.

Emile coughed and laughed.

“That describes half of Paris,” he said. Osvold leaned in to Phlebotomous again.

“He was accompanied by a strange short man who spoke in long sentences,” said Phlebotomous. “And he rubbed his hands together a lot.”

“That’s them,” said Sir John, “Osvold, do you know what they wanted? Why they saw M Dinard.”

Osvold looked away again in thought and then turned back to Phlebotomous. He whispered in the fellow vampire’s ear.

“Oh gosh,” said Phlebotomous. “Really?”

Osvold nodded then leaned in again and whispered to Phlebotomous.

Emile turned in towards Sir John then.

“Are you sure these are vampires?” he said quietly. “They’re not what the literature has you believe.”

Sir John smiled.

“I can only assume that Mr Stoker didn’t meet an actual example,” he said.

They turned back to the pair to find Phlebotomous looking paler than usual with Osvold holding his hand. Phlebotomous was wriggling about in his chair.

“Oh dear, oh dear,” he said. “This sounds bad. It seems that Mr Clackprattle was asking Dinard about how to find some kind of magical weapon. It seemed to be in four parts?”

Phlebotomous glanced at Osvold who nodded.

“The parts were all hidden in Paris and M Dinard was in possession of a map to the parts. It was this he was planning to sell to Mr Clackprattle on the day he died.”

Sir John looked concerned.

“Osvold, do you know if Mr Clackprattle came here? If he got the map?” he said.

Osvold nodded once.

“And do you know if there is a copy of this map.” Sir John continued.

Osvold shook his head and looked to his feet.

“This is indeed bad,” said Sir John to Emile. “This weapon must be something special for them to go looking for it. If they have a map and we don’t…”

“You’re sure?” said Emile, addressing the vampires. “There was no copy?”

Osvold leaned into Phlebotomous again.

“Mr Clackprattle was apparently insistent. He paid a large sum of money to make sure it was the only copy. M Dinard said that it was only because of this money that he could deal with … what was that word Osvold?”

Osvold leaned into Phlebotomous again and whispered something. Phlebotomous went a light pink.

“I don’t think I can say that out loud,” he said. “It’s rather rude.”

Emile’s mouth dropped open and the cigarette fell from his lips into his lap.

Merde,” he said and retrieved it.

“It was something like that, yes,” said Phlebotomous.

“It was a set-up, that’s why he was killed!” said Sir John. “So no one else could look for this weapon.”

Osvold leaned into Phlebotomous again.

“Then we are, how do you say, stuffed in a hole,” said Emile. “Do we just wait until he finds it?”

“We have to do something,” said Sir John.

Phlebotomous coughed and they both looked round.

“Osvold says that although there wasn’t a map,” said the vampire, “there were some notes.”

“Osvold,” said Sir John, “do you think we might look at them?”

The Paris Awakening: Earth Part 2

napkin & knifeps

“So we’re going over to the shop again,” said Sir John to Marie. She looked up from the book she was reading and stared absently at her husband.

“We’re hoping to find out more about this possible Clackprattle link from this Osvold chap,” continued Sir John. “You’re welcome to come if you have time.”

Non, mon cher,” she said, lifting the book, “I should finish this reading.”

“You’ve…” started Sir John, “you’ve been reading that rather a lot. Which, of course, is fine and, and completely understandable. I just wonder whether some fresh air might, er, lift your spirits.”

Marie looked at Sir John quizzically.

“I’m fine mon cher,” she said and then looked down at her book.

Sir John stood for a moment more. His mouth opened then closed. Then he nodded a little, and left to go.

“I shouldn’t be too late,” he said as he left.

Marie barely registered him leaving the room. She came to the end of the book and put it down for a second. Then she glanced down at it and picked it up again, opening it at the start.

“Where are you?” she said quietly.

There was a knock at the door.

“Room service!” said the voice and Marie went over to the door, her eyes fixed to the pages in the book as she did. She opened the door without looking and a maid came in with a trolley.

“The usual place?” said the maid and Marie nodded.

The maid laid out two bowls and some cutlery on the table Marie had been sitting at. She then reached down and took a knife and napkin that had been lying underneath the table.

“These must be from lunch,” she said with a forced cheeriness. She walked towards the door and hesitated just at the entrance.

Marie looked up briefly at the maid, eyes unfocused. Then she blinked.

“I’m sorry,” Marie said and reached into her purse. She took out some coins and dropped them in the maid’s hand. The maid glanced down and then smiled and bobbed enthusiastically before leaving the room.

Marie sat down at the table, and, without glancing, used the fork to spear some of the food in a bowl. The fork was raised to her mouth as she kept on reading and she took a bite. She pulled back at the taste and looked at her fork, realising she had taken a fork full of the fruit salad and not the casserole on her table. She rearranged the dishes and the knife fell onto the floor. Marie ignored it and speared some of the casserole with the fork.

She read some more and a small tear ran down her face. There was a knock again and Marie looked down at the food on the table and then at the door. She walked over and opened it up.

“Hello Marie,” said Pook.

The Paris Awakening: Earth Part 1

mushrooms2

It was late evening and the sun had sunk behind the horizon leaving Dinard’s shop bathed in a golden haze. The door handle rattled, then there was a click in the lock and Emile walked in, followed closely by Sir John and Phlebotomous Bosch. Phlebotomous was carrying a bag and looked admiringly at the shop.

“Nice shop!” he said. “But do you always have to break in to buy something?”

Emile looked suspiciously over at the vampire, not for the first time that evening.

“I’ll go find Osvold,” he said.

“Actually, it’s closed right now,” said Sir John, “following the death of the owner. But he has an assistant we’d like you to meet. You have something in common.”

Phlebotomous’ eyes widened and he gasped.

“He’s an inventor, too?” he said enthusiastically.

“Not that… “said Sir John as Emile emerged from the back room with Osvold.

“Oh!” said Phlebotomous, “He’s a vampire.”

Both Osvold and Emile flinched at that.

“Osvold, I like you to meet a… friend of mine,” said Sir John. “Mr Bosch, I introduce, er, Mr…”

Prinzregententorte,” said Osvold.

“Like the dessert?” said Phlebotomous.

Osvold’s head hung down and he nodded.

There was a short pause.

“Mr Bosch,” said Sir John, “Phlebotomous, do you have your special drink?”

“Oh yes,” said Phlebotomous. “Luckily, I have it with me to take to Maxim’s!”

“About that…” started Sir John, but Phlebotomous was in full flow. The vampire turned to Osvold.

“I have the ingredients and the recipe,” he said. “It’s a protein-based compound of mushrooms, soy, and plum tomatoes.”

“No animals?” said Osvold, looking surprised.

“None at all,” said Phlebotomous. “It’s ethical, nutritious, and delicious, too!”

Osvold took the flask that Phlebotomous proffered, opened it and took a sniff. He then gingerly took a sip from the flask. His eyes closed and a shudder passed through him. He drank the rest greedily.

There was a short pause.

“I don’t believe Monsieur… Osvold gets out much,” said Sir John to Phlebotomous with a meaningful rise of his eyebrows.”

“So, maybe he can come with us to Maxim’s?” said Phlebotomous.

“Actually… that wasn’t really the plan,” said Sir John.

“We’re not going?” said Phlebotomous.

“Not really,” said Sir John. “We had something else in mind.”

“So I brought the compound in vain?” said Phlebotomous, his shoulders sinking. “It’s just as well Osvold was here to drink it, otherwise it would have been a waste.”

Emile muttered something under his breath.

“Phlebotomous,” said Sir John, gently. “What we’d like to do this evening is for you to get to know Osvold a little better. Sort of – vampire to vampire.”

“Oh certainly,” said Phlebotomous.

There was a short pause.

“Perhaps we should go to a show?” said Emile suddenly, with rather too much exuberance. “Or find a bar? Or maybe a dance?”

Both vampires looked at Emile in shock and horror.

“I’m not sure that I would enjoy that, Monsieur,” said Osvold.

“Oh no – I find loud music painful to my ears,” said Phlebotomous.

“And I don’t enjoy alcohol,” said Osvold, “it upsets my stomach.”

Emile looked flabbergasted.

“What in ‘eavens name do you do for fun?” he said.

“I like collecting stamps,” said Osvold.

“Just French?” said Phlebotomous.

“Oh no,” said Osvold, “I have stamps from around the world. I have a Penny Black from 1840.”

“Really?” said Phlebotomous, eyes widening, “You must show me!”

“Come this way,” said Osvold and the two disappeared into the back of the shop.

“My friend,” said Emile to Sir John, “what has happened tonight?”

“I think,” said Sir John, “that we have just witnessed the birth of the world’s first vampiric philately society”