The Paris Awakening: Water Part 3


“Of all the rancid, decrepit, foul smelling pox holes this cursed trip has taken us,” said Clackprattle, holding a tissue over his nose, “this is the worst. Are you sure this is the place Pook, sure they came here?”

“The stone bug was very specific,” said Pook, “Marie and Sir John came to this very room, not a few days ago.”

Clackprattle looked around the dingy hotel room.

“And what in God’s name did they do here?” he said.

Clackprattle looked at the only seat in the room and the hat resting on it. He moved towards the chaise-longue and looked critically at the seat. His hand moved to the hat.

“Don’t!” snapped Pook. “Master. I believe it may be…”

He was interrupted by the appearance of some smoke from under that hat.

“Yes,” said Pook, “as I suspected.”

Clackprattle looked quizzically at his servant as the smoke gathered into a column and the hat rose. The smoke formed once more into the shape of a reclining woman, the face obscured by the hat and with a cigarette in a holder protruding from under it.

“It was twenty years ago today,” said the smoke woman.

“How did you know?” said Clackprattle to Pook.

“You say yes, I say no,” answered the woman.

“Madam, I believe that you are… an oracle?” said Pook to the woman. “Is this correct?”

“It’s the dirty story of a dirty man,” said the Oracle.

“She can tell the future?” said Clackprattle. “Tell us what will happen to us?”

“Joan was quizzical, studied pataphysical science in the home,” agreed the Oracle.

“They must have come here with the key piece, asking about where to find the next one,” said Pook.

“She doesn’t make any sense,” said Clackprattle, “it’s all just nonsense.”

“Oracles are indeed most renowned for their circumlocutory manner,” said Pook. “It is believed to be a feature of their puissance, their tenuous grip on the present, that causes them to communicate so.”

“Nothing’s going to change my world,” said the Oracle.

“Well you and her should get on like a house on fire,” said Clackprattle scornfully. “She’d better be a bit more clear though otherwise she’ll get a taste of my hand.”

Pook winced.

“I think… Master, that here a more accommodating, more pleasant approach may be beneficial.”

Clackprattle snorted but fell silent.

“There’s nothing you can sing that can’t be sung,” said the Oracle.

“Madam,” said Pook with a ingratiating smile on his face. “I believe you may be able to, aha, divine what it is we need. Would you be able to assist?”

Behind Pook’s back, Clackprattle took of his glove to reveal his green tainted hand.

“You think you know me but you haven’t got a clue,” said the Oracle.

Pook winced again and Clackprattle glowered, moving forward.

“Madam, I think if any clarity could be forthcoming,” said Pook, “now would be the time.”

“Allez, allez, mettez dans vos chandail,” said the Oracle.

“Enough of this nonsense,” said Clackprattle. “Tell us or die.”

The oracle screamed loudly. Clackprattle moved forward and put his hand where her neck should be. His hand went through and he held onto to nothing. He started to curse when he saw the smoke turn green around his fingers. The roiling body of the Oracle started to turn the same green colour. Finally, and without a sound, the green smoke dissipated. The hat and the cigarette holder dropped onto the floor.

“Die then,” said Clackprattle, sounding bored. “Come on Pook.”

And they walked out the room.

The Paris Awakening: Water Part 2

oracle of paris

Marie and Sir John, Sabine and Emile crowded into the tawdry room in the hotel on Rue Git-le-Coeur.

“You’re sure it is here?” said Emile, looking around the shabby room. There was little in it but a small unmade bed, an aging chest of drawers, a large mouldy armoire and a tired chaise-longue.

“Positive,” said Sabine. “There is her hat on the chaise-longue.”

They all looked at the chaise-longue and saw a splendid lady’s hat in a very modern style.

“Is she out, perhaps?” said Sir John. “Does she do house calls?”

Emile snorted.

“No, that’s impossible,” said Sabine. “She lives here. She will be here.”

Emile looked around the room and shrugged.

“Perhaps she is hiding in that armoire?” he said sarcastically.

“Er… I don’t want to bother anyone, but I think the chaise-longue has caught fire,” said Sir John.

They all looked back at the chaise-longue where smoke was starting to billow. The hat that had been sitting on it rose into the air on the column of smoke. A lit cigarette in an elegant holder appeared underneath it. Eventually the smoke resolved itself into the shape of a reclining woman, the hat obscuring the face.

“Voila!” said Sabine triumphantly. “I told you.”

Je suis lui comme tu es il comme tu es moi,” said the smoke woman. “Wait, too many, too many. And you, Madame, are too early.”

“Let’s leave boys,” said Sabine, “I believe we are confusing her.”

She ushered Sir John and Emile out of the room leaving Marie alone.

“Hello,” said Marie, “I want to ask you something.”

“Picture yourself in a boat on the river,” said the Oracle of Paris.

“I have this thing, this key part,” continued Marie, getting the wire out of her handbag and showing it to the Oracle. “It is part of a set of four, I need the next one.”

“They get by with a little help from your friend,” said the Oracle.

“Do you know where the next part is?” said Marie. “I need to find it before, before some others do. The others are bad, very bad people.”

“He one holy roller,” said the Oracle. “I’d like to be under the sea.”

“Please,” said Marie, “if you could tell me something that would help.”

“Sunday morning go for a ride,” said the Oracle. “Doing the garden, digging the weeds.”

“I… I can’t make sense of what you say,” said Marie. “Can you be clearer, can you say something that names the place?”

Suddenly the column of smoke dissipated and the hat dropped to the bed.

“Fine!” said Marie in frustration. “Just go then.”

She stood there in silence, perplexed by it all. There was gentle knock at the door.

“How is it going?” said Sir John hesitantly, through the door.

“She has gone,” said Maire.

The others came into the room. Marie looked crestfallen.

“And…” said Sabine expectantly.

“I am not sure,” said Marie, “that I know any more now than I did before.”


*The Oracle of Paris modified from Edouard Manet’s Nina de Callais 1873 – Public Domain

The Paris Awakening: Water Part 1

water 1

At the Artists’ Church, the Jennings and their retinue sat around a large table. It was covered with the remains of exquisite food, procured by Sabine from “an acceptable restaurant” called Vefour. Fine though the meal was, the mood around the table was a little subdued. Marie and Sir John had just finished explaining the events at the Oisienne’s lair.

“So it is like your good news, bad news, yes?” said Emile, idly toying with a petit fours.

“Indeed,” said Sir John, “it’s good we have the key component…”

“But bad that we don’t why Pook has some… special powers?” said Emile.

Marie nodded.

“One time before, in Manchester, his powers had been increased by this artifact of Mesmer.” she said. “He had Clackprattle like a puppet on a string, and mesmerised a group in a room. But these were people, not magical creatures like the Oisienne or…”

“You,” said Emile, still staring at the tiny cake.

“Yes,” said Marie. “Me. And in any event, that artefact was destroyed.”

“Definitely?” said Emile, “Maybe it could still be…”

“I ground it under my heel,” said Marie and Emile winced. “I was rather annoyed at the time.”

“So, a mystery,” said Sir John, “but one with a precedent. Maybe Mr Mesmer had other toys that we don’t know about.”

“True enough,” said Emile. “What about the part of the key? Have we found anything?”

He looked to end of the table where Phlebotomous and Osvold were bent over the little box that Marie had been given. They had opened it and been deep in conversation for a while. Phlebotomous had barely touched the glass of milk in front of him.

“It seems to be…” said Phlebotomous, “hmm… probably best described as a metallic filament of unknown metallurgic composition and around three inches long.”

Osvold muttered in Phlebotomous’ ear.

“Oh yes, very true,” said Phlebotomous. “Three and a half inches.”

The table looked confused.

“It’s a small piece of wire,” he said.

“Bird on a wire,” said Sabine, looking distant. Miss Henderson shot her a glance.

“Can we use this bit of wire to find the next piece,” the maid said.

“That’s more good news, bad news,” said Sir John. “Technically we need the map, but if the notes that Dinard left are enough…”

Sir John glanced at Osvold, who then starting whispering in Phlebotmous’ ear. The two conversed back and forth in whispers for nearly five minutes.

“Probably not,” said Phlebotomous and paused.

“Is there a little more?” asked Emile.

“The notes identify around thirty highly probable places,” said Phlebotmous, “and around a hundred likely places.”

“Oh,” said Sir John and sank back in his seat.

“We could ask the Oracle,” said Sabine looking at her nails.

“What?” said Emile.

“The Oracle of Paris?” said Sabine. “She would likely know.”

“What? What?” said Emile.

“You keep saying that,” said Sabine. “It makes you sound foolish.”

“Well, I feel a little foolish!” said Emile. “The Oracle of Paris, what is this? What other secrets do you have?”

Sabine sighed.

“She is a… special creature, that does what all oracles do and help one see the future and perhaps find things. Although, like all their kind, she is a little opaque and capricious,” said Sabine.

“And I am a woman in Paris and have exactly as many secrets as I like.”

Emile leaned toward her.

“Why now, woman?” he said. “We have spent so much time looking for these bizarre things and only now…”

“Only now we have this key thing,” said Sabine, “so we have something to show her. Do you think we could just turn up and say oh, ‘we are looking for something and we don’t know what it is… where can we find it?’ Have you ever spoken to an oracle? The answer would be more vexing than the question. No, now, we have something concrete and we can get… a better answer.”

“I hope,” she added.

Emile threw up his hands and stood up.

“I’ll be in my apartment,” he said. “Let me know how it goes.”

“Sabine, can you tell us where this oracle is?” said Marie.

“Of course,” said Sabine, “we can go in the morning.”

Marie sat back and felt a little nudge at her shoe. She looked down and saw a small stone.

“Oh, hello little one,” she said. “You’ve come home.”