“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.