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.
“THOSE EVIL SCUM BAGS HAVE KILLED MY FRIEND, LIED TO ME AND CHEATED ME. IF YOU THINK I’M GOING TO SIT AT HOME MAKING A NICE CUP OF TEA WHEN I COULD BE OUT PUNCHING THEM HARD IN THE FACE YOU MUST BE TOTALLY CRAZY,” she yelled, took another deep breath and smiled sweetly.
“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.