The Paris Awakening: Invocation – Part 2

Henderson Prisma

Sir John suddenly appeared in front the doors of the Hotel Raoul; blinking into the Paris evening and said,

“Oh no, not again.”

This spontaneous comment had been prompted by the sight of Miss Henderson hitting the policeman known as Pierre very, very hard. The man looked surprised, offended and ultimately unconscious as he made his way down to the ground.

“Felicity!” said Morag, “You’ve punched a policeman! Again!”

“Miss Henderson,” said Sir John crossing the road. “We should probably have a talk about this.”

Miss Henderson stood over the policeman and breathed heavily. Her face was a deep crimson colour that Sir John hadn’t seen before.

“Wake up you backstabber,” said Miss Henderson. “Wake up so I can hit you again.”

“We really can’t keep on hitting policemen,” said Sir John, careful to maintain a reasonable distance.

“Feel free to stop anytime you like,” said Miss Henderson, staring at the constable and seemingly willing him awake. “I’m happy with the arrangements as they stand.”

“But Felicity,” said Morag. “He is on our side. Or was.”

“No, he was not,” said Miss Henderson. “I saw him look at the other chap, the poncey one, and before that he scratched his nose.”

“If you hit every copper that scratches his nose, we’re going to be hitting an awfa lotta coppers,” said Morag.

“What other chap?” said Sir John.

“The one that went in with you,” said Miss Henderson.

“The lizard?” said Sir John. “He was already there.”

“A lizard?” said Miss Henderson, finally turning away from the policeman. 

Pierre, apparently noticing he was unobserved, jumped up and ran off.

“Oh… Blast” said Miss Henderson, “Come back you coward, so I can hit you some more.”

“Does that ever work?” said Morag.

“Funnily enough, yes”, said Miss Henderson.

“Look everyone, stop please,” said Sir John. “What has happened here?”

Miss Henderson sighed, the anger leaking out of her.

“That so-called copper, Pierre was a fraud, I’d bet my life on it. Just before you went in Sir John, he looked down the road and scratched his nose, and the next thing you know this fancy looking fellow comes tearing down the street and runs into the doors. They glanced at each other.”

“Miss Henderson,” said Sir John, “I know we need to be cautious but, Morag was right earlier. It’s not strange to scratch your nose or look at someone running.”

Miss Henderson looked a little crestfallen.

“There was something else,” she said, “something that made me think…”

“Look, I’m sure they’ll understand if we explain, it’s an easy mistake to make and everyone is very on edge….” started Sir John.

Miss Henderson clicked her fingers.

“When did you tell him about the avatar?” said Miss Henderson.

“I didn’t,” said Sir John. “I mean we agreed…”

“He said, ‘Is that the avatar?’,” said Miss Henderson.

“Oh dear,” said Sir John.

“Did you see the other fella in there?” said Morag. “Did he get the key piece?”

“No, in fact, actually, well, without wishing to brag, I got the piece,” said Sir John. “So, no harm done.”

“Except,” said Miss Henderson. “if those coppers were in cahoots with Pook and Clackprattle, they know where we stay, they know where the other key pieces are and they know we’re all here.”

The three of them looked at each other then started running.


Miss Henderson

The Paris Awakening: Invocation – Part 1

Henderson Family Portrait

There were two things that annoyed Miss Felicity Henderson. Actually, that’s not strictly speaking true, many things annoyed Miss Felicity Henderson. There were two things that sent her apoplectic.

The first thing was being conned. Now, one would imagine that the daughter of the patriarch of one of the largest crime families in London would know every trick in the book and would be somehow impossible to fool, but you would be wrong. As it happened, everyone that Miss Henderson knew as she was growing up was extremely aware that she was the daughter of the patriarch of one of the largest crime families in London and was extremely careful to never, ever give the impression that they might be trying anything untoward. Whilst bad things might sometimes happen to good people, bad things always happened to people who crossed the Hendersons no matter what their moral character. Those bad things tended to involve impromptu surgery and that was often before a visit to a hospital. 

When Miss Henderson had decided to make her own way in the world she had been initially surprised at just how duplicitous humanity was, especially to young ladies. The kindly philanthropist with the warm smile and the wandering hands, the handsome young man with expensive tastes and the well-educated employer who somehow couldn’t count her wages correctly. She had come across them all, and whilst she was certain she wanted no support from her family, she was not without means to extract recompense by herself. What galled her was not that she might be somehow harmed, for that was a near impossibility, but at the sheer effrontery of people that thought she might be gulled. And it was all the worse if they were right. So she had developed what she hoped was excellent judgement as to the character of others and woe betide the others if she was proved wrong.

The second thing that was almost guaranteed to send Miss Henderson into a righteous and frankly often violent fury was when someone she considered under her wing was harmed. Miss Henderson had kept a sense of expanded family from her youth and had tended to extend that to her friends, people she was employed by and occasionally complete strangers she met who seemed on their uppers. Miss Henderson would travel a thousand miles to help someone she considered in her protection, possibly to find the perpetrator of the injustice and beat them senseless.

All of which explains what happened next outside the Hotel Raoul. Miss Henderson had had some niggling doubts about the policeman that had been allegedly protecting them, but had ignored her better judgement and dismissed it as prejudice. However, she had very clearly seen Pee-Air make a signal to someone when Sir John had opened the door. That someone had then run down the street and very definitely exchanged a glance with Pierre before disappearing into the door with Sir John. That meant that Pierre was, at a minimum, keeping secrets from them and far more likely in cahoots with their tormentors.

And so, immediately after Sir John and then Bisset entered the door, Miss Felicity Henderson hit the policeman known as Pierre very, very hard.


Family Portrait

The Paris Awakening: Fire – Part 16

Heirarchy of Angels Prisma

Once again Bisset found himself pretending to be fascinated by a mundane estate agent selling dilapidated properties in an impoverished part of town. He glanced down the street to see the Jennings entourage, or what was left of it, standing outside the strange doors of the Hotel Raoul. He had seen Sir John in a state of intoxication, seen him sniffing the wall like a dog and now he seemed to be approaching the door with, well, Bisset wasn’t sure. In fact. He wasn’t sure of the efficacy of any of these British people. The idiot Clackprattle might have thought that Sir John was a potent adversary, but Bisset just saw a drug addled idiot. Not, Bisset thought wryly, that would exclude him from people who could outwit Clackprattle.

All of this had been going through his mind when Claude their fake policeman had mentioned the word he was waiting for: avatar. At the sound of it and the sight of the secret sign, Bisset had run towards the door, lest it close before he might enter the place of challenge. That he might outwit Sir John, he had neither doubt nor fear.

Sir John had disappeared almost in front of Bisset and he had shot a disapproving glance at the faux constable on his way in. The man could have given him a few more seconds to make the run. Nevertheless, Bisset entered the doorway, although Sir John was nowhere to be seen. Instead he was confronted with a blasphemy, a six foot lizard with a crown.

“Five to one baby, one in five,” said the lizard.

“Out of my way, you idiot,” said Bisset and pushed past the obscene creature. He passed through a corridor of imbecilic art of the sort that might grace a Montmartre whorehouse before entering into a large room with a throne in it. He was momentarily confused until he looked up and saw the mural.

“Ah,” he said with some satisfaction as he gazed on the spectacle. The quality of the artwork was exquisite enough, but the subject matter was, in every sense, ideal. He saw angels, powers and principalities, arranged in perfect order. It was the very image of the heavenly hierarchy.

“My lords,” he said with a mixture of deference but also recognition that he had a place in this hierarchy too. As if to confirm this, the painting sprang to life, with the multitudinous horde pointing to the throne.

“Of course, of course,” he muttered as he walked to the throne. “This is for me.”

His hands touched the engraved wooden throne with anticipation and satisfaction. He wondered briefly at the serpentine carvings and the fate of Sir John, but only for an instant as this was his throne, his position, his destiny.

He sat on the throne and looked up at the ceiling again, to fix himself in his place in the firmament. His eyes filled with horror at what he saw, as angels, powers and principalities looked on aghast at him. Swords were drawn, fangs were bared and the host of heaven began a malicious descent.

Unable to move, Bisset screamed.


Hierarchy of Angels

The Paris Awakening: Fire – Part 15


Sir John walked down the wood paneled hallway and tried not to look at the art. Some of it was distinctly modern and whilst he imagined Emile might have been able to make sense of it, it wasn’t Sir John’s cup of tea. There was a nice painting of a place that was apparently called Sunnyport, but other than that little caught his eye. Eventually the corridor came to an end in a vast room, with white walls, empty save for a large throne on the opposite side. The throne was highly ornate with carvings of a serpentine nature. 

Confused by the absence of anything else, Sir John looked around and then finally up.

“Ah” he said, then “Aha.”

The ceiling was one giant mural. Like some of the artwork on the way it looked rather abstract, except that Sir John recognised the motifs. He stared up at a  collection of interconnected cogs, gears and machine parts, with flashes of lightning in between.

“This is how I see the world,” he said. “A mechanical, physical universe invigorated with the energy of spirit.”

As soon as Sir John had said this the mural started moving, gears and cogs turning and lightning flashing between the parts. Sir John stared up, fascinated. He then began to notice a pattern to the lightning. The bolts seemed to be following a path that converged over the throne.

“I bet that energy extends down,” he mused,” into the chair. I wish I had the ectoscopic glasses, they might be able to see it.”

Sir John touched his temples. They were on his head.

“Of course,” he said quietly and pulled them down.

Sir John could now clearly see the paths of power forking to the chair, and more, he could see a being formed out of that power. Sir John grinned.

“A fifth avatar, of course, from the four come the fifth,” he thought, “A being of pure spirit.”

Sir John looked at the creature. It was hard to make sense of as it was formed of lightning energy. But it seemed that it was speaking although Sir John could not hear. 

“I think I have the hang of this now,” said Sir John. “I imagine if I hold out my right hand, my Thanatograph would be here.”

Sir John touched the machine and turned it on. The machine, which was adapted from a gramophone and was intended to pick up spectral voices, began to spin. A deep and sonorous timbre came from the large horn on top.

“You seek the key piece then,” said the Avatar.

“Indeed,” said Sir John, “what must I do to acquire it.”

“You mean you don’t know,” said the voice chuckling.

“Ah,” said Sir John, “yes. Rather obvious. And to get home the same. I imagine.”

The Thanatograph was silent, but the avatar smiled. Sir John reached down and picked up a small metal rod.

“Well goodbye then,” he said and  promptly disappeared.

The Paris Awakening: Fire – Part 14


“Alright then,” said Sir John, “here goes nothing.”

He wasn’t, he had to admit, feeling very confident in this endeavour. Nevertheless, he moved towards the massive facade doors of Hotel Raoul. His hand gripped the imaginary key they had all spent the last evening making, if gripped was the right word. Or even making.  He  was having trouble focusing on pretending it was there. He felt a little foolish for a start.

He scanned the door to find where the key might go, but the door didn’t seem to be designed to accommodate any kind of key, imaginary or not. This was an unforeseen setback.

“I can’t see a keyhole,” said Sir John to the others across the road. “Can you see from over there?”

“Where do you think it should be?” called Miss Henderson after a pause. It seemed a strange question to ask under the circumstances.

“Well, I imagine it would be about here,” said Sir John indicating an area of the door just above waist height on the right. From a great height a penny started falling.

“Oh!” he said as it achieved terminal velocity.

For if this was an imaginary key then it followed that it may have an imaginary keyhole too. And that keyhole was most certainly likely to be where he imagined it would be. Sir John pushed the key into the space he had indicated. It fitted perfectly. 

“I think I may have found it. I’ll turn the key,” he said, feeling rather pleased he had solved the puzzle.

There was an audible click and Sir John stood back. The door was now ajar. Sir John squinted into the dark corridor that lay behind.

“Good Lord!” he said. A six foot lizard stood on two legs, a lopsided crown stuck at a jaunty angle and its arms held out to the side. Sir John couldn’t tell if it was intended as a welcome or not, it looked more like the lizard was mimicking a crucifix stance.

“Hello, I love you, won’t you tell me your name,” said the lizard.

“Well, hello to you too,” said Sir John. “I’m not sure I feel the same way, but it’s nice to meet you nevertheless.”

“I am the lizard king,” said the creature, “and I can do anything.”

“I see,” said Sir John. “Well, to answer your question I’m Sir John Jennings and I’m hoping to take the challenge. I assume you’re who I think you are?”

“The gate is straight, deep and wide,” said the Lizard King. “Break on through to the other side.”

“Yes, I’m ready to… break through?” said Sir John. “Is that what you said?”

The Lizard King pointed behind himself down the corridor. It was a wood paneled affair, with paintings on both sides. Sir John could just make out images of pyramids and circus acts. It looked like a gentlemen’s club or stately home. In something of a strange daze, Sir John walked forward and slipped into the house.