The Paris Awakening: Water Part 9


“So we had a most marvellous afternoon walking around a poncy park looking at some ugly statues,” said Clackprattle to Pook and Bisset as they sat around the table. “And we learned precisely nothing. Is it possible, Bisset, is it possible your crack team of witless map readers can suggest some places instead of us trailing around the Jennings’ wake like puppy dogs?”

Bisset smiled.

“It is entirely possible for my brothers to supply to you a list of possible locations. The problem is that that list would take a year to investigate. The Tuileries was indeed a candidate so it wouldn’t be a surprise they looked there,” he said. “Of course, they have the advantage of having spoken to the Oracle so may know more than we.”

“That pitiful creature was useless,” said Clackprattle. “She told us nothing but riddles.”

“Indeed that is the nature of an oracle,” said Bisset, “and our task is rather to solve those riddles. It is indeed unfortunate that she was killed when you met her as she may have been helpful. I have to say, some of the brothers are concerned by that and what it implies.”

“What do you mean by that, sir?” said Clackprattle rising, his glove slipping off his hand.

“I mean,” said Bisset, “they are concerned that maybe the… abomination that infects your hand also affects your mind, affects your judgement.”

“I believe I can interject here,” said Pook. “I can honestly say I can see no deviance between Master Clackprattle’s resolve and composure from before his acquisition of power. He is, and remains, as solid and reliable as ever.”

Clackprattle snorted.

“At least one man can see the truth,” he said, indicating Pook.

“Indeed, that is most enlightening,” said Bisset. “I will be happy to convey that to my brethren. But there is nothing you can remember of your conversation, nothing however insubstantial seeming that may help?”

“As I said before, it were nonsense,” said Clackprattle. “So I suggest your brethren pull their enlightened fingers out of wherever they have stuck them and find us some answers before we lose another key piece!”

Clackprattle thumped on the table for affect.

“This bores me,” he said. “I shall retire.”

After he had gone Bisset and Pook smiled at each other.

“This is a most unfortunate situation to find ourselves in,” said Bisset pleasantly. “I worry the order may lose patience if we do not progress soon. I am sure they can be placated in the meantime by the completion of your other task.”

“We are indeed very close to that goal,” said Pook. “But I must admit to a certain nervousness on that score. Were we to complete that task, and given our current difficulties, it would rather seem that we were exposed somewhat to any negative consequences triggered by the order. We would have, as they say, no chips with which to bargain, if push came to shove.”

“An understandable concern,” said Bisset, “but I can assure you, as a friend, that should push come to shove, it would be the architects of the failure that would shoulder the blame, not their agents or servants.”

Pook smiled.

“I feel I must press you for a little more clarity,” he said. “I believe for example it could be suggested that I may bear some small responsibility for the problems that were encountered in recovering the piece from the Oisienne. I would like to be sure I am not seen as the, ah, architect in that situation.”

“M Pook,” said Bisset, “whilst fingers were understandably pointed after those events, I think I may be able to reassure you here. For when push does indeed come to shove, any who assists in the, er, shoving are bound to be seen as above reproach in eyes of the brotherhood.”

Pook leaned back, his shoulders dropped a little.

“I am sure,” he said, “you will always find me a most willing servant in all your endeavours.”

“I would imagine nothing less,” said Bisset.

The Paris Awakening: Water Part 8

Drinks with Emile

Emile tidied the mess of papers on his desk and tried to concentrate. He reminded himself that he had an institute to run and started to focus on that. Despite his manner and demeanour he had a tidy mind when needed. Although recently it had deserted him a little.

As he looked at the pile of investigations and reports his hand went reflexively to the brandy decanter. Almost absently he poured himself a glass and he sat back reading the first report. A junior investigator was waxing enthusiastically about a haunting he was investigating. He had added a daguerreotype and mused that a small white blob in the corner may yet be proof of supernatural creatures. Emile snorted out loud and lit a cigarette.

This whole business with the Marie and Sir John had driven him crazy he was sure of that. And yet, something else was on his mind too, a strange urge he could neither define nor resist. He wanted to do something new, different. He wanted to create something, to paint, to sing, to write poetry.

Mon Dieu!” he said out loud. “What worse fate can befall a man than to become a poet?”

There was a knock on the door and Emile dragged himself up with the enthusiasm of a schoolboy. It was probably the landlord again, hoping for rent.

“I’ll have it Tuesday,” said Emile as he opened the door. Sabine stood behind it. She smirked.

“Have what exactly?” she said.

“The rent,” said Emile. “I thought you were the landlord.”

“Do I look like the landlord?” said Sabine, pouting a little.

“Not even remotely,” said Emile. “Come in. Do you want some Cognac?”

“No, no it’s far too early,” said Sabine. “I’ll have whisky.”

Emile poured a generous glass for her and sat opposite. Sabine pouted again and Emile looked away.

“Still angry with me?” she said.

“Yes, no, I don’t know,” said Emile. “Not you, or not just you.”

“You feel you’ve been hoodwinked?” said Sabine.

“No, I understand, more or less,” said Emile. “I just feel….”

“That you’re not special?” said Sabine.

“Have you been talking to Sir John,” said Emile.

“No, but I encouraged him to talk to you, as a friend, to clear the air,” said Sabine.

“Ah!” said Emile. “That explains it, poor man, he’s not very good at expressing his emotions, it was quite the trauma for him.”

“How about you,” said Sabine, “can you express your emotions?”

The sun set a little deeper and the room went quiet. Emile looked at his shoes.

“You know,” said Sabine. “You are wrong. You are special.”

Emile glanced up at her.

“Come back to the church. Come back to me,” she said.

“All right, you win, I’ll come back.” Emile said. “But look, I need to finish up here. Let me sort things out, set things up to take some time off. I’ll be there in a day or two.”

Sabine smiled and stood slowly up.

“Don’t take long, it’s too quiet without you,” she said and slinked out the door.

Emile took a long drag on his cigarette and exhaled loudly. He took a big swig of his brandy then looked at the next report, a smile forming on his face.

The Paris Awakening: Water Part 7


Sir John and Marie stood next to the north side of the Notre Dame admiring the gargoyles. They had sent away Miss Henderson and Morag who had both shown far too much curiosity in Albrecht. Emile had decided that he had, in his words, important things to do and had left for his apartment. His head had been shaking a lot and he had sworn a few times as he left. Since it was late afternoon in Paris none of this caught anyone’s attention.

“Albrecht!” said Marie calling up to the gargoyle, who seemed to be completely stationary.

“Albrecht? It’s us.”

The statue didn’t move and Marie looked perplexed at the situation. Sir John looked down and saw a couple looking askance at Marie.

“Is… your friend okay?” said the man, with an American accent.

“She has… had a little wine,” said Sir John. “And a little bit of brandy. Maybe some absinthe.”

“Paris!” said the woman to the man by way of explanation and they walked away,

“Pfff…” said Albrecht. “I thought they would never leave. I was caught in the most uncomfortable position when I saw them. You should be more careful.”

“I’m sorry,” said Marie. “But you wouldn’t believe what has happened to us.”

“Let me see, has your arch enemy arrived in Paris and begun looking for a key to a formidable weapon and they have one part and you have one part and now you both seek the third?” said Albrecht.

“Yes,” said Marie, looking crestfallen. “How do you know?”

“I’m sitting in the very heart of Paris surrounded by creatures who stare all day at the city and have nothing to do but gossip. If a mermaid sneezes in the Seine then we say Bless You.”

“There are mermaids in the Seine?” said Sir John.

“It’s a figure of speech,” said Albrecht.

“No it’s not!” said Marie.

“No… it’s not,” said Albrecht, “but keep that one secret.”

“Since you know our predicament, we wondered what else you knew, like…” started Marie.

“Where are the third and fourth keys, where is the weapon, what does it do?” said Albrecht.

“Yes,” said Marie, “exactly!”

“Well…” started Albrecht. “Oh, people!”

A crocodile of school children wandered by the cathedral. The leader pointed to various interesting architectural features of the cathedral as the Jennings stood there waiting. After an age they wandered off.

“Well?” said Marie urgently.

“Well I can’t help you,” said Albrecht. “We don’t know anything.”

“What?” said Marie. “Nothing?”

“We never heard of this weapon until you came along. Like I said, we’re just getting the news and gossiping.” said Albrecht. “It’s very interesting though.”

“Is that them?” said another gargoyle. “Are they the good ones or the bad?”

“Go away Lucas,” said Albrecht to the other gargoyle.

“Look, can you help us with the location of the next key?” said Sir John. “We’re a bit stumped.”

The two gargoyles looked at each other.

“What is stumped?” said Lucas. “Is that an English dish with suet?”

“No,” said Sir John, “I mean we’re stuck, we don’t know the answer.”

“We’re looking for a garden on the river, which has seen great happiness and sadness and witnessed a lot of death,” said Marie. “And where something was caged.”

“Hmm…” said Lucas, “I can’t think of one place.”

“Me neither,” said Albrecht.

“Apart from the Jardin des Plantes,” said Lucas. “Remember Albrecht, during the siege?”

Mon Dieu,” said Marie and went white.