The Sunnyport Shadow: Chapter 10

“Two teas,” said Mrs Pimplenick, dropping the teacups in front of the Jennings at the breakfast table. Some tea sloshed around in the saucer.

“Oh, we thought we might have orange juice this morning,” said Sir John.

Mrs Pimplenick went red.

“But I’ve made tea!” she said and left the table. Sir John went to the sugar pot and saw it was empty. He turned round to say something and saw Mrs Pimplenick staring at him.

“Thursday,” she said by way of explanation.

Sir John took a sip of his tea and pulled a face. Mrs Pimplenick was still staring at him.

“Very nice,” he said and the landlady left, a sour look on her face. Marie took the opportunity to pour her tea into a nearby plant pot. She stroked the plant’s leaves and apologised to it.

SS Ch 10.jpg“Very nice!”

“I was thinking overnight about this strange re-appearance,” said Sir John. “I think we need to speak to Wombly, try and find out what he remembers.”

“I was thinking to speak with the priest,” said Marie.

“That’s a good idea too, we can find him as well,” said Sir John.

“Maybe it would be better if I went alone,” said Marie, “Lord ‘Ollingbury may … set the priest off a little. I think he likes to irritate ‘im. Amongst everyone else.”

“Yes, fair point,” said Sir John, “well I can keep Lord Hollingbury occupied with the search for Wombly.”

The delivery man from a few days before entered the front room, preceded by an aroma of fish.

“Got the latest delivery, Mrs P,” he called out. He turned round and saw the Jennings and smiled sheepishly.

“Morning to you,” he said.

“I have remarked more than once on the correct entrance to use,” announced Mrs Pimplenick grandly, arriving from the kitchen.

“Sorry Mrs P,” said the man, “but it’s a devil to shift them that far. Oh sorry – do mind my French.”

Pas de problem,” said Marie and the man looked surprised.

“Yes, well, next time perchance you’ll remember,” said Mrs Pimplenick.

“Have you heard the latest news,” said the man. “About the promenade?”

“I’m sure Sir Jenkins doesn’t want to hear some local tittle tattle,” said Mrs Pimplenick and started to lead the man into the kitchen. The man unconsciously took off his hat and stared at the Jennings with awe.

“Actually, we wouldn’t mind at all,” said Sir John.

“Well, it’s been destroyed hasn’t it,” said the man, whilst Mrs Pimplenick looked on in annoyance.

“The promenade?” said Sir John.

“No, the latest attraction, the merry-go-round for the little ones. The paint wasn’t even dry on it and it was taken apart over night and broken up. Who’d do such a thing, eh?”

“It must be outsiders,” said Mrs Pimplenick, “like when those scoundrels from London with sticks had a fight with those gentleman who laughed at them.”

“Oh yes,” said the deliveryman, “the rods and the mockers.”

He was dragged into the kitchen and some strong sounding language came from behind the door.

“Well then,” said Sir John, “it seems like we have three things to investigate.”

The Sunnyport Shadow: Chapter 11

The Sunnyport Shadow: Chapter 9

“I still can’t quite believe it,” said Lord Hollingbury, looking pale and clutching a glass as he sat with the Jennings in the Cock and Bull.

“It must ‘ave been very shocking,” said Marie sympathetically. Lord Hollingbury glanced up at her with sad eyes.

“It was,” he said. “I fear my hands may never fully recover.”

“Are you…” started Sir John, “are you talking about the rowing?”

“Shush, “said Lord Hollingbury, “people will hear.”

“A man has died!” said Sir John.

“People die all the time,” said Lord Hollingbury petulantly. “It’s about the only thing they’re consistently good at. I never row.”

Sir John threw his hands up in despair then glanced down at the glass of brown liquid in Lord Hollingbury’s hands.

“Isn’t a bit early for that?” he said. “It’s barely 9am.”

Lord Hollingbury looked down at the glass in confusion and then back up.

“Oh, I haven’t been to bed yet,” he said. “After we parted I came back here to recover my nerves and see if the fishermen might tell me more. There was a lock-in, so I was here some time trying to find out something. Nobody spoke about the creatures though, no matter how much I plied them with drink.”

“So you’ve been here all this time?” said Sir John.

“Oh no. I went home with the barmaid,” said Lord Hollingbury, taking a sip of whisky. “And her friend.”

SS Ch 9“Barely 9am!”

Sir John muttered something under his breath. Just then there was a commotion in the main bar as a group of people burst in.  From the looks of them they were local fishermen. There were excited voices and laughter.

“Look who it is!” said one of the group. “It’s Wombly! He’s back!”

Everyone in the pub looked around, and the disappeared fisherman walked up to the bar surrounded by the group. They were patting his back and shaking his hand, large smiles all around.

“Well, well, well. Mr Wombly,” said the Landlord, warmly. “Where on earth have you been?”

“Oh, I couldn’t rightly say,” said Mr Wombly, sheepishly. “I’m just glad to be here.”

“Well, we’d better get you a drink then, a pint of the usual then,” said the Landlord, “A pint of water.”

There was much jovial laughter at this.

“Well you know me,” said Mr Wombly.

“How are you man?” said another person at the bar. “Are you well?”

“I feel as fit as I ever did,” said Wombly and a cheer went up.

The trio at table turned round to look around at each other.

“Well there you go,” said Lord Hollingbury. “There really was no need to chastise me about the missing man. If he’s anything like this one he’ll be turning up at the bar in a few days.”

Sir John looked perturbed at the scene.

“Whatever can this mean?” he said.

“It is like the priest said, n’est ce pas?” said Marie. “It is the resurrection.”

The Sunnyport Shadow: Chapter 10

The Sunnyport Shadow: Chapter 8

“It would probably help if you rowed a bit as well,” said Sir John, pulling on the oars in the little boat.

“I’m not the sort of chap to row,” said Lord Hollingbury. “I might get callouses on my hands, and then what would people think?”

“Then why do you own a boat if you don’t row?” said Sir John.

“I don’t own a boat,” said Lord Hollingbury, sounding perplexed.

“But you said we could use this boat,” said Sir John.

“I said we could use it,” said Lord Hollingbury. “I didn’t say I owned it.”

Sir John stopped rowing and the boat came to a halt.

“We’re stealing it?” he said.

“Are we?” said Lord Hollingbury. “Gosh, you’re rather racier than you seem. I had intended to give it back.”

Sir John continued rowing in silence. After a pause he spoke.

“You’re incorrigible,” he said.

“You say the nicest things,” said Lord Hollingbury. “But look, we’re nearly there, I think. The energy was arcing to this spot, wasn’t it?”

“Yes, I believe so,” said Sir John. “Let me get the lantern.”

Sir John shined the lantern over the side.

“What are those things?” he said, half to himself.

“Some sort of jellyfish maybe?” said Lord Hollingbury, staring down at the mass of yellow which surrounded the boat. “No, they don’t have tendrils. They’re more like … thin disks of translucent yellow. Looks like a sort of rubbery material.”

“Probably best not to touch them,” said Sir John earnestly. Lord Hollingbury shot him a look.

“So is this what the bizarre congregation were doing?” he said. “Communing with aquatic prophylactics?”

“Does it seem like there are more around the boat now?” said Sir John. “That they are clustering somehow?”

SS Ch 8“Man Overboard!”

“Ahoy!” shouted a voice from a little way off. The two men looked up to see a fishing boat moving towards shore at speed with another one close behind. At the front of the first was the man that had called out.

“Row, you fools, row!” he shouted at them, “Row for your lives! Get out of the sea!”

Sir John immediately starting rowing back to shore. There was a cry and a splash from the second boat heading to shore. A man floundered in the water.

“Man overboard!” shouted Sir John, pointing to the boat.

“Leave him!” shouted the fisherman on the first boat, “Save yourselves, it’s too late for him.”

Lord Hollingbury focussed the lantern toward where the man had fallen in. He was thrashing about in the water and dozens of the yellow jellyfish were crawling over him. He screamed one last time as one slithered over his face, and he was silent.

Lord Hollingbury grabbed the second pair of oars and locked eyes with Sir John.

“Promise you won’t tell anyone I did this,” he hissed as he started to row.

The Sunnyport Shadow: Chapter 9

The Sunnyport Shadow: Chapter 7

“What it the name of all that’s holy is that!” said Lord Hollingbury, staring into the bag that Sir John held up.

“I wouldn’t have thought you knew the names of anything holy,” said Sir John with a wry smile.

“Oh touché again,” said Lord Hollingbury. “You know you’re in terrible danger of developing some wit. But, seriously what is it, why are we here, and most pressingly, is it liable to explode?”

“Probably not,” said Sir John, “although the constructor has a bit of a track record. It’s called a Cryptozoetropometer, and it’s a device of my own inventing.”

“Well I hope the device is better than the name,” said Lord Hollingbury. “I think I shall call it the Omega Device. There, a decent name for you. No charge. What does it do?”

“The Cryptozoetropometer…” started Sir John.

“The Omega Device,” interrupted Lord Hollingbury.

“The Cryptozoetropometer…” started Sir John, again.

“The Omega Device,” interrupted Lord Hollingbury again. “I can do this all night.”

Messieurs!” hissed Marie. “We are standing here on the promenade, in the freezing cold! Can we maybe use the device now and debate the name later? Peut être somewhere warm?”

The two men looked at Marie.

“Yes, fair point, Mrs Jennings,” said Lord Hollingbury. “Stop getting hung up on the name Sir John and explain what it does.”

Sir John opened his mouth then shut it again.

“It can detect spectral energy for a wide variety of creatures, real or imaginary. I was mindful of what Marie said, of there being some presence but nothing she could recognise. I reasoned that if different creatures have different etheric patterns, if we were encountering something new, we may need to look for new energies. And hence I commissioned…”

“The Omega Device,” said Lord Hollingbury. “I see, I’m impressed. That explains the device. Now perhaps you could explain why you are intent on giving myself and your good wife pneumonia.”

“Well man,” said Sir John, “we could hardly come during the day. For one thing, there could be all sorts of background energies from any passerby and for another it would be too conspicuous, it would create a scene. It had to be midnight.”

“As an expert on the topic, I think I can reassure you that two gentleman and a lady wandering round at midnight are more likely to create a scene, but I take your point,” said Lord Hollingbury.

“So we are here, close to the church so we can detect any latent cryptozoological etheric energy across a wide range,” finished Sir John, with a flourish.

“Brilliant,” said Lord Hollingbury. “One flaw – the church is occupied.”

They all turned to look at the church a short distance away. There was no sound, but a low light which flickered.

“I’ve been around enough “seekers of the light” to know what a circle of candles looks like at 50 feet,” said Lord Hollingbury. “Someone is in there, having some sort of ritual, and I suspect it’s not a reading of the Book of Common Prayer.”

“Blast,” said Sir John.

“Maybe we can try anyway,” said Marie, “It is preferable to standing here slowly freezing.”

“Alright,” said Sir John, looking into the device’s eye piece. “I’m turning the dial now, going through the spectral spectrum…”

“Oh that’s quite good,” said Lord Hollingbury, “it would make a good name for a musical ensemble.”

“Nothing … nothing…” muttered Sir John. “Good Lord!”

“What is it?” said Marie as she and Lord Hollingbury crowded in to look. Sir John passed the device to Marie, who looked.

Mon Dieu,” she said and passed the device to Lord Hollingbury. His eyes widened as he looked in.

“Tell me what you see,” said Sir John, “so we’re sure we’re seeing the same thing.”

“There are … lines of … light or power,” said Lord Hollingbury. “And they are arcing like a rainbow,”

He looked up and at the Jennings.

“Arching deep into the sea.”

Sepia Church“Good Lord!”

The Sunnyport Shadow: Chapter 8

The Sunnyport Shadow: Chapter 6

“Moderately Explosive”

Dear Sir John

I was wondering as I was writing this whether “Dear Sir John” was the correct way to start the letter. Unfortunately, I couldn’t ascertain this because the local library is only open during daylight hours and my friend has been out of town for some time. At least that is what his butler informs me.

I was of a mind to deliver the device to you personally, but when Miss Henderson came to visit me with your instructions, she was very clear on the dangers. I do hope that the cloud of poisonous gas that has encircled your holiday resort clears shortly so that you may leave the town and indeed to allow visitors to approach it as well. Perhaps you could let me know exactly where you are, as Miss Henderson had a coughing fit whenever she said the name and I couldn’t be certain of what she said. I do hope she isn’t sickening for something. The same problem seemed to occur when she came back to pick up the device and this letter. I suggested a machine of my own invention that might help her, but she seemed a little startled when I suggested getting a closer look at her throat.

Anyway, I digress, I received the instructions in the telegrams and worked on the device as you asked. It might have been useful to show you exactly how to use it, but I will have to describe it here. I must admit to being intrigued by the nature of the investigation to warrant the construction of such a machine. What kind of situation have you encountered that needs a device to scan for all possible and even theoretical psychic energies? Or have you simply become bored idling your days in the sunshine and invented the device for fun?

Either way, I shall not bore you too much with some of the construction details. Suffice to say that mounting the ecto-plasmatic converter on the metallic crypto-zoetrope was quite fiddly and moderately explosive. Luckily for me, I keep a bucket of sand handy for such eventualities.

So as you requested, the device has a moveable sprocket connection to the main psychic flange which allows for adjustment of the measurement range. In short, you should be able to point the device at any object that you suspect may be infused by some magical force and adjust the range of energies measured even beyond that known to us paranormal investigators. The range is quite extensive; you should be able to detect energies both from strange eldritch creatures that live deep in the oceans in sunken cities or even beings from deep outer space, if such things existed! Excuse my fanciful nature, I have been reading some rather strange literature recently.

I hope this finds you otherwise well, and please let me know how your investigation into whatever it is and wherever it is proceeds.

 

Your friend

Phlebotomous Bosch

PS – Don’t turn the sprocket all the way to the left, the device is liable to explode

PPS – Or the right

The Sunnyport Shadow: Chapter 5

Sir John, Marie, and Lord Hollingbury sat in a snug in the Cock and Bull with a view overlooking the harbour and a small collection of fish themed horsebrasses. Lord Hollingbury was sipping his second double whisky, Marie had a glass from the only wine bottle in the pub, and Sir John had a pint of ale which was going cold. Marie’s wine glass was some distance away from her. When she had taken a sip of the wine she had said some words that Sir John didn’t know she knew.

SS Ch 5“*&!% ç*#&!”

“So,” said Lord Hollingbury, “did anything seem out of the ordinary in that church?”

“I have to confess,” said Sir John, “that I have no idea what you regard as ordinary.”

Lord Hollingbury pulled a small moue.

“Yes, you have a point,” he said. “Well did anything seem out of ordinary to you then?”

“The decoration was bizarre, the vicar was deranged, and the atmosphere was oppressive. There were motifs that I’ve seen in no church before, even some of the more esoteric ones.” said Sir John.

“Strangely, we’re in agreement,” said Lord Hollingbury,” perhaps it’s the scotch. Mrs Jennings, as an etranger, what was your view of the strange place.”

“It is nothing like I have seen either, and there was something … some energy or some feeling I cannot describe,” said Marie.

“Do go on,” said Lord Hollingbury, “I suspect at the end of that marginally incoherent sentence is something rather interesting.”

“Do you mind!” said Sir John. “That’s my wife you’re talking to.”

Lord Hollingbury smiled.

“Sir John, with the greatest possible respect, I’m fairly certain that if Mrs Jennings were in any way offended she could make me drop my trousers and walk down the promenade singing loudly and get me to thank her afterwards.”

“That sounds like the sort of thing you’d do anyway,” said Sir John.

Touché,” said Lord Hollingbury.

Messieurs,” said Marie in exasperation, “let me think. There was something there. Something I haven’t felt before. Every creature is a little different you know, has a different … pattern or … feel to it. A … a gargoyle doesn’t feel like a pookah, say. But this … this was more different than anything. Like a different sort of mind.”

“Something different even from paranormal creatures?” said Lord Hollingbury. “What might that be?”

“I can answer that,” said a man with unkempt white hair who suddenly sat down at their table. They all looked at him.

“What was the question?” he asked.

“Is everyone in this town some kind of lunatic?” said Sir John.

“I rather think they are,” said Lord Hollingbury. “It’s starting to endear the place to me.”

“I’m not mad,” said the man. “I can answer your question because I’ve lived here all my born days. So I can answer any question. I see you, all huddled up, you’ve seen something and you want to know more. Well I can help, see.”

“That’s very noble,” said Lord Hollingbury. “Is this desire to help driven by some inexplicable civic pride or is there some ulterior motive?”

“I’m sure the gentleman is just keen to assist,” said Sir John irritably. “Not everyone has a hidden agenda.”

“Indeed, I don’t have a hidden agenda,” said the man and pushed an empty whisky glass in front of him.

“Oh Sir John,” said Lord Hollingbury, “ever the innocent.”

A bottle of whisky was procured for the table, glasses filled and the man began his tale.

“See, like I say, I been here all my life. My name’s William Joseph, and I tend to the lighthouse. My father did the job before me and my grandfather before him. So this place is in my blood. And good blood it is, too. You know this place had a reputation for long life. Well that were true. My grandfather was 130 when he died and was fit as an ox to the last day. And do you know why?”

“He was an inveterate liar?” said Lord Hollingbury. The lighthouse keeper looked shocked when a hand landed on his shoulder.

“Come on Bill, time to stop getting drinks from the visitors in exchange for tall stories.”

The pub landlord beamed down at the quartet and looked at Bill Joseph.

“There’s a game of cribbage going in the corner, why don’t you go and join that instead.”

Bill Joseph got up grumbling and wandered over to the where the landlord pointed.

“Sorry about that,” said the landlord. “Nice chap but a bit do-lally.”

“Well, we seem to be running short of leads here,” said Lord Hollingbury, who then looked at the bottle of scotch he had bought. “As well as drinks.”

“Actually,” said Sir John, “I think I have an idea. Marie, we need to send a telegram home.”

The Sunnyport Shadow: Chapter 6

The Sunnyport Shadow: Chapter 4

“This is hardly typical church material,” said Sir John looking at the inside of the holy building.

The walls were a deep azure and baize green. Complex, sinister murals adorned them at every angle, showing bizarre aquatic imagery. Here, a deep sea fish, its baleful eyes regarding the world with disdain. There, a many tentacled creature holding a collection of strange, unworldly objects. Above, on the ceiling, was a mosaic of stars, arranged in a form like no constellation man had seen. At its apex, a gibbous moon hung proud and sinister. The altar was similarly peculiar, draped with fish nets and lobster pots, buoys and rods. Behind the altar was a man, arms outstretched but on a boat, not a cross. Seahorses, lobsters, dolphins and jellyfish all leaped towards him. Above his head a triangle hung in space with one eye staring unblinking into the world.

Aquatic 1“Strange Feeling”

“Is this one of those modern churches?” said Lord Hollingbury. “The ones where they do a lot of singing and dancing?”

“I don’t believe so,” said Sir John. “I have no idea what this is at all. Marie, does it seem … normal?”

“To my eyes not at all,” said Marie, “but I feel no magic. Or, rather, no magic I recognise. There is … something … some strange feeling.”

“It’s probably a natural reaction to the colour scheme,” said Lord Hollingbury. “I have to concur, I see a whole lot of strange, even for me, but nothing I recognise.”

“Well, what is it all about?” said Sir John.

“Jesus!” came a loud voice from behind them. They turned round to see an older man, wild hair, disheveled beard and manic eyes walking towards them. He was dressed in black with a tired looking dog collar.

“He was a fisher … of men,” continued the vicar. “He would have understood. He would have seen these paintings and statues and known what they meant.”

The vicar had drawn up to the trio now.

“Not like a bunch of land-lubbers and city dwellers,” he finished and glared at them all.

“Rev Philips, I suppose,” said Sir John.

“You suppose a lot,” snapped the vicar. “You suppose a lot indeed, but in this case you are correct.”

“We were sorry to ‘ear about Mr Wombly,” said Marie. The vicar’s head snapped round to look at her.

“He were a good man, they all were.” he said. “They will return. Oh yes, they will return at the resurrection.”

“So the church is primarily for fisherfolk?” said Lord Hollingbury. “Hence the, er, remarkable decoration.”

“Our parish is the sea,” said Reverend Phillips. “Our flock is a shoal. We tend to the fisherfolk as our patron saint would want it.”

“Who is that?” said Sir John.

“Saint Zyggryk” said the vicar.

“Polish? Hungarian?” said Lord Hollingbury. The vicar just glared at him.

“What are you all here for anyway?” he asked. “This is a place of worship, not a holiday home.”

“You’re in this guide to the town,” said Sir John, showing the vicar. He snatched the guide away and read it quickly, his lips twitching as he did.

“Them new folk,” he said half to himself then handed the guide back to Sir John. “You don’t want to believe everything you read.”

“Unless it’s in the Bible,” said Lord Hollingbury cheerily. He was rewarded with a glare.

“You’ll have to excuse me,” he said pointing to the door, “but I have to prepare for a service.”

The trio took their cue to leave and the vicar watched until they had walked down the street before closing the door.

The Sunnyport Shadow: Chapter 5

The Sunnyport Shadow: Chapter 3

The mournful foghorn sound carried over the bay to the small harbour whilst the beam from the lighthouse pulsed in counterpoint. The clinking of ropes on masts and the groaning of hull wood issued from the boats, barely visible in the fog. One final sound completed the symphony of Sunnyport Harbour:

“Come see the picturesque port,” said a man’s voice, dripping with sarcasm, “for a glimpse back in time to a gentler world.”

Mon cher,” said a woman, “please.”

“The only glimpse back in time here is to the primordial soup!” said Sir John, emerging from the fog and clutching a leaflet. “Enjoy the view; an artist’s paradise.”

The couple reached the edge of the harbour and looked across to the lighthouse, barely visible in the smog.

foggy faros“The Holiday?”

“You know it’s not too far to get home,” said Sir John. “Half a day most. We could be sipping brandy and eating biscuits by tea time.”

Marie smiled and put her head on her husband’s shoulder.

“But mon cher,” she said, “you know how it is. There’s no peace there. Mr Bosch would come by with some invention that would break and make a mess. Miss Henderson would come in and roll her eyes at the mess. Morag would need walking and someone to go with her, so she wasn’t caught as a stray. Then Inspector Symonds would come round with another case to see if there was a supernatural influence. There wouldn’t be, but he and Miss Henderson would exchange meaningful glances.”

“Inspector Symonds and Miss Henderson?” said Sir John. “Are they sweet on each other?”

Marie smiled and nodded.

“But he’s so…” started Sir John. “And she’s so…”

“Indeed,” said Marie, “that is the way of the heart.”

“I suppose you’re right,” said Sir John. “And at least it isn’t raining. It could be worse.”

“Aha!” called an aristocratic voice. “Just out for a little walk are we, by the harbour?”

“And now it is worse,” said Sir John.

Lord Hollingbury emerged from the mist.

“That’s a curious coincidence for two people who, and I quote, aren’t investigating the disappearances.”

“It was in the tourist brochure,” said Sir John, “although having visited the harbour, the disappearances seem a little less mysterious to me.”

“We heard about Mr Wombly,” said Marie.

“Yes, it seems the old drunk was swallowed by the drink,” said Lord Hollingbury. “Seems rather ironic.”

“Apparently he was a reformed man,” said Sir John. “I don’t imagine you know what that means.”

“Someone that was dull because they drank who became duller because they didn’t, I would say,” said Lord Hollingbury. “But I’m impressed, I hadn’t heard that story. You’re ‘not investigating’ is really yielding results.”

“Why are you investigating?” said Marie.

“Well, let’s just say there was an embarrassing situation back home in Brighton. I thought it would be best for all concerned if I was out of town for a few days. The nunnery in question was asking awkward questions in public.”

“So you came here…” said Marie.

“And was thoroughly bored. I was forced to drink all day to cope. Then I found out about these disappearances and suddenly I had something to do. To complement the drinking all day.”

“These are human beings,” said Sir John. “It’s undignified to be so flippant.”

“Sir Jennings,” said Lord Hollingbury, “being undignified and flippant is a way of life for me. It’s in my nature.”

There was a silence as both men looked at each other.

“Lord Hollingbury,” said Marie, “you remember what I am?”

“Yes,” said Lord Hollingbury.

“So imagine what is in my nature.”

There was a small rise in temperature, an imperceptible change of light.

“Forgive me madam, sir,” said Lord Hollingbury. “My manners are sorely lacking,”

“Apology accepted,” said Sir John, who didn’t look like he meant it.

“So, as you are not investigating and I am, tell me how the sot Mr Wombly became a sober member of society.”

“Apparently it was Rev Phillips’ church,” said Sir John, “if that makes any sense to you.”

“Oh yes,” said Lord Hollingbury, “that makes a lot of sense to me. I keep hearing about this church. I would rather suggest we visit. It seems to be connected to more than one disappearance.”

“Good idea,” said Sir John.

Mon cher,” said Marie, “the holiday?”

“Well the church is on all those awful tourist guides,” said Lord Hollingbury, “so you could call it sightseeing. Look, I’d go alone, but I have a morbid fear of churches.”

“Why is that?” said Sir John.

Lord Hollingbury pursed his lips and looked at Sir John.

“Well I’m hardly typical church material,” he said.

The Sunnyport Shadow: Chapter 4

The Sunnyport Shadow: Chapter 2

“Insufferable, pompous, arrogant, debauched idiot,” muttered Sir John as he sat in the breakfast room of the Shalimar.

“Are you still going on about Lord Hollingbury?” said Marie.

“Well of all the nerve,” said Sir John.

“Can I get you tea or orange juice?” said Mrs Pimplenick, landlady of the bed and breakfast.

“Do you ‘ave any coffee?” asked Marie. Mrs Pimplenick looked aghast.

“We have tea,” she said.

“Can I get tea and orange juice?” asked Sir John.

“It’s one or the other,” said Mrs Pimplenick in exasperation, pointing at a small menu on the table.

“Two teas then,” said Sir John. “For a change.”

Chapter Two“Two teas.”

A man came into the breakfast room wearing overalls. He carried a large box which had the warm odour of smoked mackerel.

“Here you go Mrs P,” said the man. “This month’s delivery.”

Mrs Pimplenick looked put out.

“This should really be delivered via the tradesmen’s entrance,” she said, suddenly acquiring the diction of a minor royal.

“It’s bloomin’ heavy though,” said the man as Mrs Pimplenick rolled her eyes.

“There’s been another one you know,” he said.

“I’m sure I don’t know what you mean,” said Mrs Pimplenick, trying to indicate Sir John and Marie by a tilting of her head. The gesture seemed to go unnoticed as the man continued.

“Another disappearance Mrs P,” he said, “another fisherman who didn’t come home. That’s the third this month. Mr Wombly this time.”

The landlady made a snorting noise and her accent descended several social strata.

“We’ll they’ll be mourning that loss in the Cock and Bull,” she said. “He never seemed to be out of there. I’m surprised he lasted this long.”

“That’s not true anymore,” said the delivery man. “He is, well he was, a reformed character. Went to that new church that Rev Phillips runs. He got right off the booze and on the straight and narrow. Tragedy is what it is.”

“Excuse me,” said Sir John. “What disappearances are these?”

The delivery man turned round and saw the Jennings for the first time. He face dropped in shock.

“Oh, oh, it’s nothing,” the delivery man said. “Just some local gossip.”

Mrs Pimplenick walked off shaking her head and carrying the large box of mackerel easily in her large arms. When she reached the kitchen the man leaned over the Jennings.

“But the gossip is there’s something not right about the water. Ever since they made that promenade, people have been disappearing. Fisherfolk and the like. All locals, never the tourists. Which is just as well as people here don’t want it getting out. Bad for business see. Don’t tell anyone I told you.”

At this the man left, looking about himself as he did.

“That must be what that lunatic was talking about yesterday,” said Sir John. “Something wrong with the water eh, maybe…”

Mon cher,” said Marie, “we are supposed to be ‘aving a holiday.”

Just then Mrs Pimplenick returned with two cups and a teapot.

“I’m afraid I’m out of milk,” she said, “so you’ll have to have it black. Also the sugar doesn’t come until Tuesday.”

The Sunnyport Shadow: Chapter 3

The Sunnyport Shadow: Chapter 1

The rain lashed down on the window of the Friendship Tea Rooms as Sir John and Marie stared out.

“Perhaps it will brighten up this afternoon,” he said morosely. “How long until we can return to the bed and breakfast?”

Marie looked at the clock on the wall, with the numbers 4 and 6 missing.

“About seven hours I think,” she said.

Sir John took the last sip of lukewarm tea in the cup in front of him, and put the cup down on its chipped saucer. Almost immediately the waitress appeared.

“Can I get you anything else,” she asked blankly.

“I think we’re alright for a moment,” said Sir John.

The waitress immediately glanced at a sign saying “no loitering”. Marie looked around the room, empty save for a dishevelled looking man in a gaudy outfit nursing a cup of tea. The waitress peered out at the rain.

“You’ve been unlucky with the weather,” she said. Sir John sighed.

“Two more teas, please,” he said and the waitress went away.

bandstand storm 2.jpg“Two Teas”

“We can’t stay here seven hours,” said Sir John. “We’ll be bankrupt by teatime.”

The other man in the cafe turned his tea cup upside down and spun it round. Sir John looked on curiously.

“Is he alright do you think?” he said. The man turned his cup back up and peered at his saucer. He look surprised then glanced toward Marie and Sir John. Sir John looked down quickly as the man walked over.

“Please excuse me,” said the man, “but I do believe we have a common interest. My name is Lord Hollingbury, and, if my Aunt Mabel’s parlour trick isn’t mistaken, at least one of you is, shall we say, in possession of special talents.”

Sir John looked confused at the apparent gap between the man’s appearance and manner.

“I beg your pardon,” he said.

“Well, if you need me to pardon you, you must have done something very wicked,” said Lord Hollingbury sitting down.

“Two teas,” announced the waitress as she returned. She looked distastefully at the development of social intercourse in the tea rooms and beat a hurried retreat in case it was catching.

“Let me get down to brass tacks,” said Lord Hollingbury. “I am, shall we say, gifted myself in certain areas. One might call me a magician, if you like, but I prefer the term Nouveaumancer. You are … well one of you … and I think I know who, is most certainly gifted.”

“The tea leaves tell you this?” said Marie.

“Indeed, I was carrying out a little old-fashioned divination,” said the Nouveaumancer. “I think even magic has a certain … terroir, n’est-ce pas?”

“Now look here,” said Sir John, “I don’t know who you are…”

“Yes, you do,” said the Nouveaumancer, “I told you. The reverse is true, I don’t know who you are.”

Sir John’s mouth opened and closed.

“I am Marie Jennings, and this is my ‘usband Sir John Jennings,” said Marie. “Pleased to meet you.”

“Enchanted,” said the Nouveaumancer, “and enlightened. You’re the investigators of the paranormal, aren’t you? I read about you in the papers. I had no idea that you were … poachers turned gamekeepers.”

“Now look here!” said Sir John.

“We’ve done that part and moved on a little,” said the Nouveaumancer. “Do try and keep up. So I presume you’re here to investigate the disappearances.”

Sir John looked confused and aghast.

“You can’t say things like that to a chap’s face,” said Sir John.

“Well which part of a chap should I address these remarks to?” said the Nouveaumancer.

“Please, both of you,” said Marie, “Lord Hollingbury … what disappearances?”

“Oh, I see,” said the Nouveaumancer, “so you ‘don’t know about the disappearances’ and I’m guessing you’re ‘just here on holiday’.”

“Yes, exactly,” said Sir John.

“Oh, well that’s a shame,” said the Nouveaumancer, “I was rather hoping to pool resources. Oh well, if you change your mind, you can probably find me at the Cock and Bull. It really is the only place in town to get half decent scotch.”

The Nouveaumancer stood up and left the tea rooms. As he walked through the rain it seemed to somehow fall around him.

“Has he gone?” said the waitress who had appeared mysteriously.

“I believe so,” said Sir John.

“Well you can have his bill then,” she said, passing the couple a small piece of paper.

The Sunnyport Shadow: Chapter 2