The Paris Awakening: Invocation – Part 7

The back of the Notre Dame under stormy skies

Sir John, Miss Henderson, Morag and Phlebotomous walked across the Archeveche Square, at the end of the Ile-de-la-Cite. The Square was dominated by the gothic magnificence of the Notre Dame cathedral. Despite the circumstances, Miss Henderson felt herself in awe of it.

They were wearing rather unusual hats, which alone would probably have raised eyebrows anywhere in the world, and Phlebotomous was wearing a full body suit that would normally cause uproar. But this was fin-de-siecle Paris, and they received barely a murmur of comment as they passed.

The quartet easily found who they were looking for. They saw Pook, another man of similar build but infinitely better dress sense and two large gentlemen holding a sack. This group stood close to the back of the Notre Dame. With glances at each other and one final nod, the quartet walked over.

As they approached, Pook saw them and smiled greasily.

“So nice to see you all,” he said. “I can honestly say it is an unmitigated joy for us that you chose to acquiesce to our humble request. If you would be so grateful to deliver to us the artefact we require, we may return your missing property and we can all continue our day mutually satisfied.”

Pook smiled, held out his hand expectantly then looked confused.

“Oh!” he said, “some manner of mechanical or magical subterfuge I suspect. Never mind, we did guess at such a potential outcome and came up with a means to redress the balance.”

Bisset produced a handgun and pointed it at Sir John. The two men with the sack pulled back their jackets to demonstrate holsters and pistols.

“I always find it prudent to have multiple options when negotiating,” said Bisset.

“You’re the man from the big door!” said Miss Henderson. “The one who ran in after Sir John.”

Bisset winced a little then recovered.

“Monsieur Bisset at your service,” he said. “Now, the key piece, please.”

“You’ll kill us as soon as you have it,” said Sir John.

“Not as soon as,” said Bisset, “but soon after, yes.”

“We need a guarantee of safety,” said Sir John.

“How about this,” said Bisset and shot at Sir John. Sir John gasped as his hat flew off and then he looked glassy eyed and stepped toward Pook, pulling the key piece from his jacket.

“No!” shouted Phlebotomous and suddenly his arms extended dramatically accompanied by the sound of gears whirring. One arm shot towards the wriggling sack between the two bodyguards and the other towards Sir John. Mechanical hands clamped on both targets and there was a sound of machinery as Phlebotomous’ arms reeled back in, pulling Sir John and the sack to him.

“Go!” shouted Miss Henderson and there was a sound of a spring. Phlebotomous, firmly attached to Sir John and the sack shot into the air and landed 100 feet away. There was another spring sound and the trio shot up and away again.

“Oh, how tiresome,” said Bisset and shot Miss Henderon. She clutched her stomach, looked confused for a second then fell to the ground.

The Paris Awakening: Invocation – Part 6

Large hat decorated with rose

“Well, here is the honeymoon suite, Mr and Mrs Smith,” said the hotel proprietor showing the couple and, unusually, their dog into the room. “I hope you like it.”

The man looked around.

“Yes it’s a good size, and the two rooms are good,” he said, “but I see there is only one bed.”

“Yes,” said the proprietor, suppressing a frown, “that is how most of our honeymooning guests prefer it.”

“I wonder if we could have two beds,” said the man. “One in the other room.”

“Let me see,” said the man, and went into the corridor.

“There’s always the bathtub, that could do, at a push,” said the woman.

“I wouldn’t dream of asking you to sleep in there,” replied the man.

“Actually, I was thinking of you,” said the woman.

The hotel proprietor returned with a younger man in hotel livery. “Gustave, can you go to one of the other rooms and bring a second bed for the happy couple,” said the proprietor.

Gustave looked utterly confused.

“You want me to…” he started.

“They are English,” said the proprietor, smiling.

“Ahh!” said Gustave. “Right away.”

“I shall leave you in peace,” said the proprietor and backed out of the room.

“Well,” said Sir John, “I guess this will do then. Hopefully we weren’t followed.”

“Aye, because nothing we’re doing is likely to arouse any suspicion at all,” said Morag.

Gustave returned then struggling with a large bed.

“Would you like some help?” said Miss Henderson and Sir John at the same time.

Les Anglais sont bizarre,” muttered Gustave as he moved the bed into the other room.

The proprietor then returned.

“Do you know a man called Monsieur Bosch?” he said.

“Short pale gentleman with unusual dentistry?” said Sir John.

“Yes exactly,” said the proprietor

“Send him up,” said Sir John, sighing.

Gustave came out of the room and walked slowly to the door angling for a tip. Sir John gave him a coin and Gustave was about to pass comment until he saw Miss Henderson glaring at him.

Bon soir!” he said and hurried out the room. There was a crash in the corridor and a series of French curses. Phlebotomous appeared at the doorway.

“Do you have any idea how many hotels I had to check to see where you were,” he said. “I must have asked hundreds of people if they had seen you. It’s lucky I had this daguerrotype.”

Sir John slumped down on the bed and put his head in his hands.

“I thought I would bring you the hats and we could discuss strategy for tomorrow.”

Phlebotomous put a top hat on Sir John, a large and fancy lady’s hat on Miss Henderson and a slightly oversized bowler hat on his own head.


The Paris Awakening: Invocation – Part 5

Bright vampire eyes looking out from black background

Sir John, Morag and Miss Henderson sat closely together on a large sarcophagus that was placed against the wall. All three of them stared across the vaulted crypt at thirty or so pairs of eyes that were staring back. The eyes belonged to a large group of short, thin and rather nervous looking vampires that were similarly pressed into the opposite wall. They had all moved there when Miss Henderson sneezed loudly in the dust.

Phlebotomous was apparently in conversation with several of this group. It was apparent only because they were moving like they were talking. There was very little actual sound.

“Out of the frying pan, into the fire,” whispered Miss Henderson without stopping to stare at the vampires. She noticed that none of them were capable of holding her gaze, although that wasn’t an entirely unusual experience for her. 

“Indeed,” whispered Sir John, “I’m only moderately terrified by this lot, but I wonder if they know any others. I rather got the impression they had some carnivorous acquaintances.”

“Circus vampires?” said Miss Henderson, brow furrowed.

“Here comes Mr Bosch,” said Morag as Phlebotomous came over.

“Well there’s good news and bad news,” said Phlebotomous with a forced smile.

“Let’s start with the good,” said Sir John.

“Well,” said Phlebotomous, “we discussed with Osvold’s friends how to protect ourselves tomorrow. We talked about the mind control that Pook used, thank you Miss Henderson for the tip. Everyone thinks that the best thing to do is use a blocking device built into a top hat.”

“I can’t wear a top hat,” said Miss Henderson. “It will look strange, even in Paris. Won’t it?”

“It would,” said Sir John, “but you don’t need a hat as you’re not coming.”

“WHAT!” roared Miss Henderson. The vampires all turned and stared, pushing their backs further against the wall. One made a little squeaking noise.

“You’re not going,” said Sir John, “It’s too dangerous, it will just be me.”

“And me to collect Osvold,” said Phlebotomous, with a stern look on his face.

“But, the meeting is in daylight,” said Sir John, “you can’t possibly come.”

“They’re building me a special outfit too,” said Phlebotomous, “so I can save Osvold. They’re really good friends.”

“Well, I suppose… it might be useful to have a vampire and a spare pair of hands,” said Sir John.

“That whole mind trick business disnae work on me,” said Morag, “and I can outrun anyone, so I’ll come too.”

“Well maybe you can as well, perhaps do some reconnaissance, but definitely not Miss Henderson, for safety’s sake,” said Sir John. He turned to look at the maid and then jumped back when he saw the look on her face. “I mean… it… it’s rather… you know… dangerous.”

“Aye,” said Morag under her breath, moving away from Miss Henderson a little.

“Sir Jennings,” said Miss Henderson in a calm, sweet, gentle voice. “As your employee I am obviously duty bound to follow the instructions you give me. But, and I do hope this isn’t too forward a suggestion, may I address you rather differently? As a friend?”

“Of course,” said Sir John, slightly warily.

“Thank you,” said Miss Henderson and took a breath. 


“All done,” she said. She glanced across at the vampires who emitted a chorus of squeaks.

“Thank you,” said Sir John. “That’s… abundantly clear. Perhaps we’ll all go then, eh?”

“I shall tell them we need to make a lady’s hat then,” said Phlebotomous, turning back towards the vampires.

“Oh, what was the bad news?” said Sir John.

“Oh yes,” said Phlebotomous. “Silly me! Um, word has got out you’re here, and in about an hour around fifty marauding vampires will be arriving.”

Without exchanging a glance, Sir John, Morag and Miss Henderson ran to the exit.