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

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.

Yours

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, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20226848

(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.