Making Other Plans for Sir John

So you wait months for a Benthic Times post and 3 turn up at once. All we can do, Dear Reader, is humbly apologise and explain that we have been much distracted with life in general.

I like to think that we are not alone and that other, greater literary titans have also enjoyed a similar experience. That perhaps the mammoth four year creation of Ulysses was less to Joyce’s persnickety editing and more to time spent in a Zurich Bureau des Etrangers. That maybe the Lord of the Rings prolonged production was less to do with the complexities of Elvish grammar and owed more to a tricky renovation and a problematic set of shelves.

In any event, here we are and we have finally published the last few chapters of the novel. “What next?” I hear you cry. “And should I perhaps start reading something with a more regular publishing cycle, such as the works of Harper Lee?”

Fear not, Dear Reader, as normal service, nay, exceptional service is resuming. We intend to

IMMEDIATELY commence re-publising the Cornish Curse and Sunnyport Shadow (as they follow the Paris Awakening)

SHORTLY publish both The Paris Awakening and the first Casebook as free to download ebooks

SUBSEQUENTLY create and publish brand new stories “The Clockwork Conjuror” and “The Regal Re-animator”

Well, Dear Reader, if that doesn’t make up for the disappointment of recent months, then truly we don’t know what will. With the possible exception of a large sum of money of course. Which for absolute clarity, is not on the table (either metaphorically or indeed, actually).

We thank you for your patience, and hope you are ready to get back on board the Benthic Bus to fun and adventure.


Paul Michael and Josephine Pichette

Nice Big Red Bus Attribution: By Chris Sampson (original), cropped by User:Ultra7 – Crop of File:First London Routemaster bus RM1562 (562 CLT), heritage route 9, Kensington High Street, 27 August 2011 (1) uncropped.jpg, CC BY 2.0,

(Modded using superpowers by Mme Pichette)

The Paris Awakening: Invocation – Part 16

Marie walked into the study. She seemed more cheerful than when they had parted and filled with vitality. She kissed Sir John and sat down.

“Oh mon cher, what a journey,” she said. 

“The boat? Or the train?” said Sir John. 

“Oh that too,” she smiled. She took a biscuit from the tray and crunched on it. She pulled a little moue.

“Best we could do,” said Sir John. “The good ones have all gone.”

“Nevermind,” said Marie. “Is Miss Henderson in? I’d so like a cup of tea.”

“You just missed her. She’s out with that detective,” said Sir John.

“Her beau,” said Marie smiling.

“Is she… sweet on him?’” said Sir John. “I had no idea.”

Marie smiled. 

“I have so much to tell you mon cher,” she said. “But first we should talk about Pook and what we learned. It is a terrible thing.”

“Maybe I’ll get a brandy then,” said Sir John reaching for the bottle.

“One for me too,” said Marie. 

Sir John looked a little surprised then poured two drinks. Marie took a mouthful and swilled it around.

“Very nice,” she said. “So, you know Pook had these powers, more than any pookah should. Well until Calliope took them away. They were from something else, you know. He wouldn’t, I think couldn’t, tell us more. Just that there was a creature that he called the Spinner.”

“The Spinner?” said Sir John. “I’ve never heard of it.”

“You know Pook and Clackprattle controlled the Draco Viridis and Bisset’s organisation too. I think this Spinner wanted to control all these secret societies. Make some kind of global fraternity of, of…”

“Of?” said Sir John.

“Indeed, of what we couldn’t find out. I don’t know if Calliope’s powers had wiped Pook’s mind or this Spinner, but it had been pulling his strings for sure.”

“So Calliope didn’t kill him in the end,” said Sir John.

“No,” said Marie. “She wants to kill this Spinner instead.”

“So where is Pook now?” said Sir John. 

“Back in a wood, causing minor mischief, where he belongs,” said Marie.

“Seems he got off light,” said Sir John.

“He’s just a minor spirit that was allowed to get too much power,” said Marie. “It’s the wielder, not the weapon we need.”

“Hm,” said Sir John. “And how was the time with the family?”

“Oh it was wonderful, mon cher,” said Marie. “I had so many relatives I didn’t know about. All witches. I have so much to tell you. They taught me about my past, about my family, about, about me.”

She beamed at her husband who smiled thinly back.

“I’m glad,” he said. “Really.”

“What’s the matter,” said Marie.

“Well, I was thinking that now you have your family and now you know who you are and you have all this power,” said Sir John. “That… that you don’t really need me.”

Marie sat back and took a last big gulp of the brandy.

“You’re right,” she said. “You’re quite right. I don’t need you.”

Sir John’s head tilted down.

“But,” said Marie, “I do so very much want you.”

She clicked her fingers and the lights went out.

“Oh my,” said Sir John.

* Fin *

The Paris Awakening: Invocation-Part 15

Sir John sat at the desk in his study. Papers were covering every inch of the desk and indeed several chairs. He was staring intently and rather glumly at one of them. Miss Henderson came in with a tray with tea and biscuits.

“Oh bravo, Miss Henderson,” said Sir John. “Do we have any more of those butter biscuits we brought back.”

“The petty bores?” said Miss Henderson. “I’m afraid you’ve had them all. There’s just some nice oat biscuits from the baker.”

“Well I’m sure they’ll do wonderfully,” said Sir John with a forced cheerfulness.

“Is there any news from Mrs Jennings?” said Miss Henderson casually whilst needlessly dusting some papers. Sir John glanced down.

“She’s still with her mother,” said Sir John, “learning more about her family and their… traditions. It’s very important, you know. It’s what we went for, in a way.”

“Well you wouldn’t go there for the food,” said Miss Henderson. “I was glad to get back to some nice home cooking. Which reminds me, there’s a pot of mulligatawny soup I left for you.”

“Oh, are you off out?” said Sir John.

“Yes,” said Miss Hendeson patiently, “I think I mentioned it earlier. I’m having dinner with Detective Symonds.”

“How is he?” said Sir John. “You’re quite good friends aren’t you?”

“Indeed,” said Miss Henderson who looked downcast now. “Good friends.”

There was an awkward pause.

“Oh, and the trial of that villain Bisset concluded.”

“Oh good,” said Miss Henderson. “How many did he get?”

Sir John looked perplexed.

“How many years,” said Miss Henderson, “for… well, shooting me for a start. And Mr… I mean mon sewer, er Emile.”

“Oh, he got life,” said Sir John. “For attempted murder and aiding and abbeting actual murders. You know all those people who died? All those scientists and so on? He did the lot, with Clackprattle.”

“And what about that sinister organisation of his?” said Miss Henderson. 

“No sign at all, neither hide nor hair. The defence made out it was a fantasy,” said Sir John.

“But you don’t believe them?” said Miss Henderson.

“It’s the problem with secret societies,” said Sir John. “They’re hard to find by definition. Still life is life and that’s something, I guess.”

“I thought they chopped heads off over there,” said Miss Henderson.

“That was rather a while ago,” said Sir John. “Somewhat in history. Talking of which, Mr Bosch sends his regards. I saw him earlier today.”

“You know, I almost thought he might stay in Paris with his… friend,” said Miss Henderson.

“Me too,” said Sir John. “But it seems he returned. I understand Osvold wasn’t keen to leave Paris nor Mr Bosch London.”

“Distance can put a real damper on…” started Miss Henderson. “Oh, is that the time? I should be off.”

“Well, have a pleasant evening,” said Sir John wanly.  He started to work and presently heard the front door open and close. A short duration passed whilst he read the same sentence repeatedly before the door opened again. Sir John smiled to himself and opened the door.

“Forget something, did we Miss Henderson?” he said and saw his wife in front of him.

The Paris Awakening: Invocation – Part 14

“Marie!” said Miss Henderson and ran over and hugged the woman. She then remembered her position, stood back and looked a little embarrassed. “This is for you,” said Miss Henderson and handed over the key. 

Marie smiled, waved the key around her head and shouted “REVENIR”. The gargoyles all started to head towards the Notre Dame. As they reached the cathedral  they leapt up returning to their places.

“Marie,” said Calliope. “You look… different somehow.”

Et tu, non?” said Marie, smiling. “I think we have both come into our natural skin somehow. But please wait, I need to check something.”

Marie drew a circle in the ground around herself and closed her eyes. She looked deep in sleep for a few moments before her eyes opened again.

“My husband is safe, and the vampires too, although they have had the shock of meeting my mother,” she said.

“I thought your mother was dead,” said Morag.

“Is she a vampire too?” said Miss Henderson.

“No and no,” said Marie. “Is that all the gargoyles? We seem short some.”

“There’s another group coming,” said Miss Henderson. Marie nodded.

“The ones chasing my husband,” she said. “Here they come.”

The gargoyles filed past the women. Albrecht was one of the first.

“I tried to stop them,” said Albrecht, looking gloomy, “but this witch lady did a better job.”

“Thank you Albrecht,” said Marie. “Trying is good enough.”

“What about these two,” said Miss Henderson. She pointed at Pook and indicated Bisset by giving his face a little kick.

“Oopsie,” she said.

“Pook I’ll deal with later,” said Marie.

“He’s mine Marie,” said Calliope. “He took Emile.”

“Sabine… No, not Sabine…” started Marie.

“Calliope,” said Calliope, “Muse. Pleased to meet you, again.”

“Calliope, he’s a woodland creature that somehow gained extra powers. I need to know why. And… I am a witch. The woodland creatures are mine,” said Marie.

“There are laws,” said Calliope, looking sullen.

“He is the weapon, not the wielder,” said Marie, gently.

“This one is a wielder,” said Miss Henderson, kicking Bisset again. “He shot me.”

“For which he will go to jail forever,” said Marie. “There are laws.”

The last of the gargoyles was back on the cathedral and getting into position.

“What do we do with that?” said Morag, indicating the key.

“This, we do what we should have done from the start,” she said. “We leave it with the guardians.” 

Marie looked up at the sky and held the key aloft. From four directions came a jolly fat man, a bird-like woman, a walrus and a lizard. As Marie brought her hands down the key was in four parts. She held the four parts out as the four avatars took them. 

“When they are needed, we will give them,” they spoke in unison before departing the way they came.

“So, this whole trip was… for nothing?” said Miss Henderson.

Marie looked at the three other women, and the men on the ground.

“It was for everything,” she said.  “Ah, here comes my husband.”

Approaching from a distance were Sir John, Marie’s mother and Phlebotomous holding on to a hopping sack.

“For everything,” repeated Marie quietly.

The Paris Awakening: Air Part 11

PAairpart11bug prisma

Bisset sat at the table of the great room and permitted himself a small smile. Things seemed to be improving considerably. Clackprattle’s list was being ticked off to plan. Pook had convinced the fat idiot not to try the next challenge himself. Best of all, he now knew the details of that challenge. The door creaked open and Bisset wore the mildly pleasant expression that seemed to work best for these two. He started repeating the mantra that kept the little pookah from invading his mind.

“Ah Bisset,” said Clackprattle as he beared down on the table. “Do you have any news for us or has your band of posh idiots failed us yet again?”

Bisset smiled indulgently.

“My dear sir,” he said. “I am able to report the best possible news.”

Clackprattle and Pook sat down.

“That does indeed sound most encouraging,” said Pook. “I am sure I can speak for both the Master and I that we would be most desirous to hear this news without even a second’s delay.”

Pook and Bisset smiled warmly at each other. Bisset felt his temples throb a little. “Not today, little one,” he thought.

“I can tell you not only the location of the next key… not only the creatures that guard it but also the nature of the challenge itself,” Bisset said.

“Creatures?” said Pook. “As in plural?”

“Just so,” said Bisset. “Scared you can’t influence a group?” he thought.

“What utter gibberish is this?” said Clackprattle. “You told us very clearly that there were four of these things, not a horde of them.”

“They are… somewhat unusual,” said Bisset. “They are something of a group mind, called the Oisienne.”

“The what again?” said Clackprattle.

Pook’s brow furrowed.

“If I were to hazard a guess, would I be wildly off the mark if I were to guess some manner of bird-like creature?” he said.

“Most astute, Mr Pook,” said Bisset. “For as ideas are things of air, the Oisienne are those ideas incarnate. They are in some sense the body politic of the thought of the city, the sum of current thinking and ideas of the intelligentsia.”

Clackprattle made a snorting sound.

“There can’t be very many of them then,” he said laughing heartily at his own joke.

Bisset smiled wanly.

“Very droll,” he said.

“The challenge then?” prompted Pook.

“The challenge is to be presented to and to debate in a… parliament, I think they say. To explain one’s ideas and thoughts and see if they are accepted or championed by the Oisienne. If they are, then the key is yours.”

Clackprattle chuckled some more.

“Is that it?” he said. “This one should be able to convince a bunch of bird brains in five minutes.”

He slapped Pook on the back, causing a flash of surprise to appear on the pookah’s face.

“It may not be quite so straightforward…” started Bisset.

“Nonsense!” said Clackprattle, cutting him off. “It’s all but ours. I’m going back to my room. Tell me when we leave to go.”

Pook and Bisset faced each other.

“What happens if one fails,” said Pook lightly.

“We aren’t certain,” said Bisset, “on that point. Except we notice there is another name for a collection of birds which can be called a parliament.”

“A murder?” said Pook.

“Just so,” said Bisset.

“I shall go prepare,” said Pook. As he stood up, a quizzical look passed across his face and he looked around the room. Eventually, he left.

Bisset allowed himself another small smile. Indeed everything was going most well. One way or another all the problems would get solved. He settled back in his chair then noticed with irritation that an insect was running on the armoire opposite. He resolved to speak most firmly with the staff on the matter of cleanliness.

The Paris Awakening: Air Part 1

Sabine's High Tea

Marie, Emile, Sabine and the two vampires sat around a table in the art church that had become their home in Paris. In front of them was a collection of papers and a 3 tiered tray with sandwiches, small cakes and and scones on the top. They were untouched and everyone was looking morose and thoughtful.

Sir John, Miss Henderson and Morag came into the church talking loudly.

“I’m just going to get changed,” said Sir John, oblivious to the air of gloom. Miss Henderson looked in confusion at the high tea.

“What is that?” she said, just managing to keep annoyance out of her voice.

“I made it,” said Sabine, brightening a little, “to lift our spirits and remind you of home.”

Miss Henderson glowered at the indignity of being offered a treat from Sabine. The maid sat down at the table and sniffed at the food.

“That clotted cream looks a bit strange,” she said.

“It’s creme fraiche,” said Sabine, elegantly scooping some onto a spoon with a flourish. “I couldn’t get this English cream.”

Miss Henderson took the spoon and put it in her mouth. She pulled a face instantly.

“I don’t think it is fresh at all Miss Bellevoix,” said Miss Henderson patiently. “It’s really quite sour.”

“Ooh, what’s this?” said Sir John arriving at the table. He grabbed a scone and liberally plastered butter, jam and cream on it. “So what have we found so far?”

“Do you want the bad news first?” said Emile.

“There’s some good news?” said Sir John.

“No,” said Emile, “the other news is very bad.”

Sir John looked a little deflated and took a bite of his scone. His expression turned to one of surprise and he put the scone down. Miss Henderson suppressed a little smile.

“Do tell,” said Sir John, now eyeing the rest of the tea with suspicion.

“Well, we know Pook and Clackprattle have the first part of the key. We also know they have the map, and hence should be able to find the second part of the key,” said Emile.

“But have Dinard’s notes” said Sir John, “they should help, shouldn’t they?”

“Yes and no,” said Sabine, “I have read the notes and they tell us something disturbing. It seems that to find the second key, you must have the first. The map is not enough. There are some five or six possible places, which Dinard identified, but you need the first part to be sure.”

“And so we are, as you say, stuffed up,” said Emile.

“Hmm,” said Sir John, “that is a conundrum.”

“So…” said Miss Henderson, “we can’t find the next part of the key, but Pook and Clackprattle can?”

“Indeed,” said Emile, “the situation in a nutshell.”

“So we need to find them, then,” said Miss Henderson. “Pook and Clackprattle.”

Everyone looked at Miss Henderson.

“Why didn’t I think of that,” said Emile.

“Miss Henderson has some interesting family connections,” said Sir John, “Marie my dear, can you, er, think of a way.”

“The stone bug!” said Phlebotomous, “She made one before.”

“Yes, but that was using the mud of the gollum,” said Miss Henderson. “We don’t have a gollum.”

“But there was one before,” said Morag, “You told us about it, that followed Pook didn’t it?”

“Everyone, please,” said Marie, looking mildly panicked.

“What is this bug?” said Emile. “What did you do,”

“Ah,” said Sir John, “erm, its, well…”

Marie sighed.

“It’s alright, mon cher,” she said. “It is time to explain, I think. Emile, Sabine, I am a…. I am a witch.”

“I knew it!” said Sabine and grabbed a petit four in triumph.

The Paris Awakening: Earth Part 16


The three men wore fixed expressions as Clackprattle ranted on. They were sitting around a table with Clackprattle at its head, his goblet dripping wine as he swung it round manically.

“And it is I that has triumphed,” he shouted. “It is I that have succeeded and it is I that have the key.”

Pook smiled insipidly at his employer.

“Indeed, Master, it is a great success, one that, I feel sure will be greatly remembered for years as a stepping stone to a most splendid achievement,” he said.

“Stepping stone!” roared Clackprattle, quite red in the face. “Don’t you see Pook, you fool, see how easy it was for me? The other three keys will be ours in a week and we shall then hold the weapon.”

Pook, who had flinched only slightly at the insult, went to speak but was interrupted by the man opposite him.

“Indeed, Master Clackprattle is correct,” said Bisset. “We have achieved a famous victory and the next steps will proceed as quickly as possible.”

“I trust we haven’t forgotten our bargain?” said Clackprattle, waving his gloved hand. “We aren’t stalling, are we?”

“Most certainly not,” said Bisset. “We are indebted and I trust our support is clear. Indeed, even now we are working without pause to locate the other three parts. But, you have had a tiring day, no doubt. Why not retire to your chambers whilst we continue the investigation?”

Clackprattle sat down.

“It is true,” he said. “The exertion required is quite astounding.”

“Of course it is, Master,” said Pook. “Monsieur Bisset makes a valid point, why tire yourself more when we, your willing servants, can carry out your biding while you rest?”

Clackprattle made a grunting noise, his head lolling onto his chest.

“It would expedite matters if we could take temporary possession of the key-piece,” said Bisset, still smiling.

Clackprattle rotated a bloodshot eye at the man.

“You mean to take it from me?” he said groggily.

Bisset went to speak when Pook interrupted.

“I, your most loyal and devoted servant will be here all the time,” he said. “Nothing untoward or unseemly will occur.”

Clackprattle seemed to think on that for a minute. He made another grunting noise and dropped the round key-piece on the table. He then stood up woozily and headed out of the room.

Bisset and Pook looked across at each other, both still smiling.

“You need the key-piece to find the next one,” said Pook, “I surmise.”

“Most astute,” said Bisset. “Not only must the pieces be retrieved in order, it is necessary to use the first to find the second, and so on. You won’t mind if I take the piece to look?”

Pook shrugged.

“I am sure you will return it in good measure, after what Master Clackprattle has done for you,” he said.

“Naturally!” said Bisset brightly. “But may I ask you one question?”

“Please, feel free to do so,” said Pook.

“Earlier by the fire, what were you doing?” said Bisset.

“I was warming myself,” said Pook. “I find that I feel the cold quite acutely.”

Bisset frowned.

“It looked like, you…” he started, then shook his head.

“What shall we do with him?” said Pook, indicating the man at the end of the table, dressed in an acrobat’s outfit.

Bisset looked at the ashen face.

“Someone will deal with him,” he said and got up from the table. “I will take my leave and will start on the key.”

As Bisset left the room, Pook and the other man both stared into space.

“What a remarkable day indeed,” said Pook, turning to the other man. “I imagine you’ve not seen one like it before?”

The acrobat, long dead, stared vacantly in front of him.

Pook made a little giggling sound then got up to leave the room.


 * The superb bronze sculpture of the acrobat can be found in the city of Montreux along the beautiful shores of Lake Geneva.


The Paris Awakening: Earth Part 15

Earth 15

“I say sir!” said Sir John, echoing his wife’s annoyance. But Marie had gone, while the bearded man sat and laughed.

There was a roar of excitement from the crowd and then a sigh of disappointment.

“Where’s Marie?” said Sir John, perplexed at the absence of his wife who had been there just a second before.

The crowd started to slowly move away from the famous windmill.

“She was just here?” said Emile, equally perplexed.

“Did that man…” said Sir John, turning to look where the bearded man was sitting. He moved towards the table, his view obscured by the departing crowd.

“What did you do?” said Sir John as he pushed his way to the table, but he found he was addressing an empty chair. The man had gone too.

“What is going on?” said Sir John to himself.

The crowd was still dispersing around him as he wandered back to where he had been standing. Miss Henderson was there looking around distraught.

“I’ve lost Morag,” she said. “I had her with me one moment, then she went the next.”

Sabine emerged from the departing crowd.

“It was an acrobat,” she said. “Doing some trick on the sails of the windmill, jumping from one to another. At the end he stood on the roof and waved with something in his hand. Then he went in.”

“Something’s happened,” said Sir John. “Marie and Morag and that obnoxious gentleman have all vanished.”

Sabine looked unperturbed.

“Be calm, Sir John,” she said. “It is a big crowd in Paris, they are probably somewhere in it. We will wait here and all will be fine, I’m sure.”

“But the man…” said Sir John.

“Even in Paris people sometimes leave a café,” said Sabine.

Emile leaned close to his friend.

“You know earlier, when Marie said we needed a witch,” said Emile quietly, “what exactly did she mean?”

“Well,” said Sir John, “it’s funny you should ask that…”

“We’re too late!” said Marie, emerging from the crowd with Morag. “They have it.”

“Who has what?” said Emile.

“The key, the part of the key,” said Marie.

“You mean the part of the weapon?” said Sir John.

“No… yes,” said Marie. “Whatever it is, they have it. There was a man on the sails…”

“An acrobat,” said Sabine, “from his costume.”

“Yes, that was the task, the man at the café was the elemental, the task was to go around the sails three times while it moved. The acrobat did it and… something appeared in his hand.” said Marie.

“We tried to get to the windmill, but we were too late,” said Morag. “Even with everyone frozen for while.”

“When was everyone frozen?” said Miss Henderson. “I didn’t see that.”

“Aye, well,” said Morag, “you were one of them.”

The crowd had thinned out now and the street was mostly visible again. As the group looked at Marie and Morag they missed the fat man, short man and acrobat getting into a carriage.

“The point is,” said Marie glumly, “the point is, we lost.”

The Paris Awakening: Earth Part 14

crowd at moulin rouge

The Place Blanche was filled with people all seemingly staring at the Moulin Rouge. From the back of the crowd it was hard to see exactly what was catching their attention, beyond the lights starting to seduce in the pall of dusk. But there were audible gasps and fingers pointing in the direction of the windmill.

“What’s happening?” said Morag to the group.

A young man staggered past, visibly drunk and even more visibly perturbed by a talking dog. He looked in horror at the bottle of absinthe he was drinking and hurled it to the ground before running away. Emile winced at the sight of it.

“It’s a bit hard to make out,” said Sir John, clutching his wife. “Something on the windmill maybe?”

“Oh for ‘eavens sake!” said Sabine and started pushing through the crowd. Her apologies were quickly followed by her blows to the ribs or backs of the onlookers. People turned and made exclamations as she pushed her way to the front but she seemed oblivious to her impact.

“Not very ladylike,” said Miss Henderson to Marie, before casually standing on the foot of a drunken man leering towards her. He howled in pain and fell backwards. Emile made a moue of approval.

“Ho ho, so you brought the maid,” said the fat bearded man at the café, sitting in the same spot as before and once more with a crowd around him.

Sir John glanced over and muttered something.

“Ignore him,” said Emile, under his breath.

“It’s annoying,” said Sir John, equally low voiced, “and ungentlemanly. In London he would be horsewhipped.”

“My friend,” said Emile kindly, “you are not in Kensington now.”

Sir John made a noise.

“Which one is your maid,” said the man. “The amazon?”

Miss Henderson rolled her eyes.

“Or is that your wife?” said the man.

Monsieur!” hissed Marie and swivelled round to confront the man.


…everything stopped….

…nobody moved….

…time halted…

…and sounds faded to silence.

“Is that you?” said Morag, walking up to Marie and looking at everyone now still as statues.

“No!” said Marie, confused.

“It’s just no-one else is moving.” said Morag.

The bearded man let out a big earthy laugh.

“Well, nearly no-one!” he said.

“You!” said Marie. “You’re the elemental.”

The man nodded forward, his demeanour seeming to change from brusque bon vivant to gentle man-mountain.

“Enchanted,” he said, “quite literally. And what may I ask are a witch and a… I’m sorry m’dear. What are you?”

“I’m an alchemist,” said Morag. A frown crossed the man’s enormous forehead.

“We’re looking for the weapon,” said Marie.

“The weapon?” said the man.

“The four parts,” said Marie. “The weapon in four parts.”

“You mean the key,” said the man. “The key in four parts.”

“The key?” said Morag.

“Yes, the key,” said the man, looking a little uncertain. “I guard one part and administer a test for it.”

“Yes, that,” said Marie. “What is the test?”

The man looked at the windmill on the Moulin Rouge.

“The test is simple, one must stay on top of the sails of the windmill for 3 full turns. A garçon over there is trying to do it as we speak,” said the elemental.

Marie tried to squint.

“I don’t see, what garçon,” said Marie.

“The one that came with the English men, the fat pompous one and the thin one that rubs his hands,” said the elemental. “They came yesterday, spoke to me, and I explained the task. Today they came back with an acrobat, I think. They started a little a while ago and he has made two turns now.”

The elemental turned to look at Marie and Morag, but they were gone, pushing through the stationary crowd and towards the Moulin Rouge and its windmill.

The Paris Awakening: Earth Part 13


“And what did you find there?” said Sabine, rapt.

“Nothing,” said Emile flatly.

“Nothing?” said Miss Henderson.

“Nothing,” said Sir John.

“Nothing at all?” said Phlebotomous, prompted by Osvold.

“Not a thing,” said Emile. “No elemental creature, no challenge, no weapon.”

“But Clackprattle and Pook were there,” said Morag, “and there was still nothing?”

“Is my accent a little confusing?” said Emile, sounding irritated. “We saw nothing, found nothing, heard nothing, smelled nothing!”

There was a pause during which a peacock walked into the church. It looked at the group sitting around the table and made a noise.

“Is that new?” said Sir John, pointing to the peacock.

“It matches the decor,” said Sabine waving a hand round at the reworked church hall, now filled with rooms made with ornately decorated panels.

“We lost the noise of the workmen and now we have the noise of this overdressed chicken,” said Miss Henderson to Sir John, with a poor attempt at sotto voce.

Morag barked and the peacock ran out of the church.

“It’s a bit wary of me,” said Morag. “Probably with reason.”

“So what do we do next?” said Sabine.

“We go back, I think,” said Sir John. “We can take some of our investigative devices to see if that helps. Phlebotomous, do you think you have anything?”

“It’s not exactly my area,” said Phlebotomous,” but I could probably make a sort of elemental detector. Something that registered when one element was out of balance. That might help you find this creature.”

“Sounds perfect,” said Sir John, “and we can take the Ectoscopic Glasses. They may help with identifying supernatural sources. Emile?”

“I’ll see what I can find, but I have an Ethereal Detector that may help,” said Emile.

“And we’ll need someone who can carry out the physical challenge,” said Sir John. “When we find out what it is.”

There was a short pause.

“Of course!” exclaimed Sabine excitedly. “It is obvious. I will do it.”

“Ah,” said Sir John, “we were actually wondering…”

“Nonsense,” interrupted Sabine. “The duty falls to me. I insist.”

“Sabine,” said Emile, “we wondered if Miss Henderson would volunteer.”

They all looked at the maid.

“Well of course, mess sewer,” said Miss Henderson. She did a strange sort of half-courtesy and tried to hide a smile.

“And since I’m the only one who can’t be hypnotised by that numpty Pook, I’d better come along as well,” said Morag.

“Osvold and I will stay here,” said Phlebotomous. “Since it’s day time.”

“Well, that’s settled then, I guess,” said Sir John. “Let’s go tomorrow, first thing and find whatever it is.”

The door to Marie and Sir John’s room swung open and Marie walked out.

“You’re forgetting one thing,” said Marie, smiling. “You’re probably going to need a witch.”

“Did she say what I think she said?” said Sabine to Emile, her sotto voce as bad as Miss Henderson’s.


Picture adapted from W.H. Bradley “The Modern Poster – Frontis art” under Creative Commons License