The Paris Awakening: Fire Part 6

vials

“I thought they’d never go,” said Miss Henderson coming into the church with Morag and letting her off the lead.

“I thought you liked the police?” said Morag, innocently.

Miss Henderson sighed and put her hands on her waist.

“I have a very good friend who happens to be a detective, yes that is true,” said Miss Henderson. “That doesn’t mean I like all of them. Especially not with my family.”

Morag chuckled, then stopped.

“Sir John,” she said, “is something wrong?”

Sir John was sitting at the big table staring at his hands. He looked pale.

“Emile is dead,” he said. “Poisoned, apparently.”

Miss Henderson gasped and took a seat.

“Who?” she said.

“The police rather seem to think it’s Miss Bellevoix,” said Sir John. “They found her keys there.”

“That’s not proof,” said Miss Henderson, “that’s, what does Detective Symonds call it… circumcisional evidence.”

“Nevertheless,” said Sir John “we haven’t seen her for a day or two. And they want to speak to her.”

“Perhaps she’s with Marie,” said Phlebotomous, emerging from the vampires’ lair with Osvold. “We haven’t seen her for a day or two either.”

“Ah,” said Sir John, “you noticed.”

Miss Henderson glanced at Morag.

“We all sort of noticed,” said Morag. “But we didnae wanna ask.”

Sir John sighed and continued to stare in front of him.

“Mrs Jennings… Marie… has gone to find her family. She discovered that the pendant and the moondial seem to behave strangely when they are together. The compass, it points south. So Marie was following it to find out why. She thought she wouldn’t be missed because… because…”

“Emile and Sabine were still here,” said Morag. “Now one is dead and one is missing.”

“And we,” said Sir John. “We are alone.”

The room was silent for a moment.

“Poor Emile,” said Miss Henderson. “He seemed like such a kind man.”

“He was a rogue and a joker,” said Sir John. “He was a thorn in the side of professional idiots and… my friend. I shall miss him.

“You don’t think,” said Miss Henderson. “It’s not possible that Sabine…”

“No,” said Sir John. “She’s not a poisoner. I’m worried for her safety. I think she dropped the keys in shock. I hope she’s just… spending some time away. I hope she’s back soon.”

The silence returned.

“Mr Bosch,” said Morag, “Did you manage to find anything about the next key?”

“Well, it’s been a little bit harder without Sabine to translate the ancient Greek, but we have made some good progress.” said Phlebotomous.

“Oh, that’s good,” said Morag.

“Yes,” said Phlebotomous, “we’ve managed to get the list down to around one hundred possible places.”

“Ah,” said Morag.

“What’s the criteria?” said Sir John.

“Well, last time we had the Oracle to help,” said Phlebotomous. “This time we just have the notes. They’re a little more obscure.”

“…than the Oracle?” said Morag.

“There are references to aristocrats born, kings dying and doors to nowhere and everywhere,” said Phlebotomous.

“So we’re stumped then,” said Sir John.

“It’s fire isn’t it,” said Morag. “The element of imagination?”

“Yes,” said Sir John. “Why do you ask?”

“Well, as a practising alchemist of several hundred years, I may have something to help,” said Morag. “But, I’ll need a spare pair of hands.”

The Paris Awakening: Fire Part 5

hand keys prisma

Sir John sat alone in the Church of the Artists. Miss Henderson and Morag were out walking and the vampires were huddled in their lair, trying to work out where the final key piece lay. Sir John had dropped the mask of enthusiasm he had been wearing and stared vacantly ahead. Occasionally he sighed. There was a knock at the door, and he pulled himself up and walked to it, opening it slowly. Outside were two men in police uniforms.

Madame Bellvoix est-elle ici?” said the taller one.

“I’m sorry,” said Sir John. “My French is… Je parle seule un peu Francais.

Anglais?” asked the Policeman. “Parlez Anglais?

Oui, yes,” said Sir John. “Both.”

The Policeman looked puzzled.

“I am English and I speak English,” Sir John said. “What is the matter?”

“Is Madame Bellevoix here?” said the Policeman.

“Er, no,” said Sir John. “She went out… I don’t know when.”

“But she lives here?” said the Policeman.

“As much as she lives anywhere…” said Sir John. “Has something happened?”

“Do you recognise these?” said the Policeman and held up a set of keys with a fob. Written on the fob was Sabine’s name. “Do these belong to Madame Bellevoix.”

Sir John squinted at the keys.

“Maybe,” said Sir John. “I couldn’t swear to it. Did you find them somewhere? I can keep them and see if they are hers when she returns?”

The two policemen glanced at each other then spoke quickly and quietly in French. Sir John couldn’t quite keep up. The shorter man stepped forward.

“We want to speak to her as a witness to a suspected murder,” he said. “The keys were found at the scene, so we cannot let you have them. But we would like to know if you see her. Can we take your name please?”

“Yes, of course,” said Sir John. “It’s Sir John Jennings. I live in London but we are visiting here.”

“We?” said the Policeman.

“My wife and I,” said Sir John. “She’s French.”

“May we speak with her?” said the Policeman. “She may know something.”

“Er…no,” said Sir John. “She is away.”

“She will be back later?” said the Policeman.

“Not today, not… well I don’t know when,” said Sir John and looked down.

The policemen glanced at each other.

“Does anyone else… stay here?” said the short policeman.

“My maid…” said Sir John, “ and… er… some friends, some times, but they are out too.”

“May we come in?” said the taller policeman.

“It’s not very convenient at the moment,” said Sir John.

The policemen spoke quickly in French again.

“Do you know an Emile Planquette?” asked the short man.

“Yes, yes,” said Sir John. “He is a friend of mine. But he’s not here either.”

“We are aware of that,” said short policeman.

“How do you kn…” started Sir John. “Wait, is it Emile? The victim?”

“Yes,” said the short policeman.

Sir John moaned, tipped back and held on to the door frame.

“Dead?” he said.

“Yes” said the policeman.

“How?” said Sir John. “What happened?”

“We believe he was poisoned in his home, from the condition of the body. We found these keys next to his corpse. So naturally we are keen to speak to Madame Bellevoix.”

“Sabine?” said Sir John. “They were… they were very close… they were…”

“Lovers?” said the policeman.

“Something like that,” said Sir John. “I don’t believe it.”

“That she killed him?” said the policeman.

Sir John shot the policeman a sharp look. 

“That he’s dead!” shouted Sir John. “I’m sorry she is not here, but Sabine would never hurt him.”

He slammed the door on the police.

“Would she?” he said.

The Paris Awakening: Fire Part 4

Glove 2

“So Bisset, we have kept our end of the bargain,” said Clackprattle, throwing down the list of names on the large table. “All your terrible foes are dead.”

“Indeed,” said Bisset. “The fraternity is most grateful for your service. We will be free from the interference that scrutiny can bring. But, I have to say, you have not perhaps kept all of you bargain? There is, shall we say, a little lacking somewhere?”

Clackprattle snorted.

“We did more than your band of merry men could do. We have one piece of the key, if that trivial matter is what you are referring to,” he said.

“The very same,” said Bisset. “And whilst we understand the difficulty of the undertaking, we cannot help but feel a little… disappointment.”

“We’ve barely begun,” said Clackprattle, waving his hand. “Wait and see. Now that we aren’t distracted by your petty requests we’ll have the key in a week.”

“I’m afraid you are mistaken,” said Bisset. “We rather feel you are in fact, at an end.”

“Why you…” roared Clackprattle and pulled off the glove to reveal his corrupted hand. He started to lurch round the table to Bisset.

“Mr Pook?” said Bisset, arching an eyebrow lightly.

Pook nodded once and turned to face Clackprattle. Suddenly the fat man’s hand turned back towards his face.

“What is this?” he roared. “What is happening?”

“I’m afraid,” said Pook, “that I am not only in agreement with M Bisset, but I also have an agreement with M Bisset. We both feel you have, how shall I put it, run out of rope? And as such, you will rather have to swing.”

“But,” whined Clackprattle as his own hand locked around his throat and the terrible green depravity spread to his skin. “Pook, man, we have been companions.”

“Mr Clackprattle,” said Pook. “And please, allow me to call you mister. We have indeed been, shall we say, travelling companions. But I am afraid we have had different destinations for a while now.”

Clackprattle slumped onto the ground, his face green and aging, his hair falling, his eyes staring in confusion at Pook.

“And I am afraid that this is your final destination,” said Pook.

He stood over his former master as the last uttered a final wheezy plea before collapsing dead on the floor. A moment passed.

“Very elegant,” said Bisset. “And now that, as they say, the gloves are off, perhaps the masks can fall too?”

“Indeed,” said Pook, still staring down at the corpse. “For example, I think I can infer that you are not merely the servant but indeed the very master of this fraternity. Am I right?”

“Just so,” Bisset said. “And in return I may assume that your master, the one who gives you these remarkable powers, is not the ludicrous corpse slumped on the floor?”

“Indeed that is the case,” said Pook. “But there the mask must remain a little longer. It does not behoove me at this time to reveal that snippet of information.”

“A shame,” said Bisset. “I had hoped we might work further. The brotherhood is still most keen to capture the weapon. It is a matter of honour now.”

“Well then I can give a mixed report to you sir, and an offer nonetheless,” said Pook. “It seems that our little stone bug has left Paris and headed south.”

“Another failed ploy,” said Bisset, standing now and gathering his things. “Such a pity.”

“It means either Mme Jennings has left Paris, which would be an interesting development, or the bug has been detected and tampered with,” said Pook. “We will only know for sure if we investigate the situation where the Jennings are staying. As you have mentioned, your members are too public to carry out this kind of task. Which leaves you at an impasse.”

Bisset paused.

“Go on,” he said.

“But due to the ah, unfortunate and untimely demise of Mr Clackprattle, I am, as of this very minute, the head of a large secret society of fine, well educated men and women, I need only click my fingers and a team of anonymous investigators from London can appear,” Pook said, before looking up at Bisset. 

“That would be… most useful,” said Bisset.

Pook clicked his fingers and there was a knock at the door.

Bisset looked at the door then at Pook.

“How?” he said.

“I knew this day was coming last week,” Pook said. “I told them to arrive here right now.”

 

You can find Mr Clackprattle’s glove here and the floral background here.

The Paris Awakening: Fire Part 3

keys 2

The corpse of Emile lay withered on the floor of his apartment. The note that Pook had read was dropped by his face and the room was silent. His dead hands clutched at empty air.  Dust motes circled aimlessly as Emile’s blank eyes stared at nothing, his face frozen in confusion.

There was a knock at the door.

“Emile?” called Sabine. “Emile? Let me in.”

There was a short pause and a sigh from outside. Then there was another knock.

“I know you must be there,” said Sabine. “You never get up til lunch. Open the door.”

There was another short pause and the doorknob rattled.

“I thought we had made a rapprochement,” said Sabine. “Is there something new that has happened?”

She rattled the door handle again.

“Or someone new that has happened? Are you… are you seeing someone else now, is that it?” said Sabine. “Don’t make me look for these blasted keys, you know my bag is a mess.”

There were sounds of rummaging from outside the door followed by a sound like a sack dropping and a loud “Merde!”. More rummaging followed before the distinctive rattle of keys was heard.

“Found them. I hope your new hussy isn’t there,” said Sabine. “Because I’m opening the door.”

There was the sound of a key being pushed into the lock, more cursing and the clatter of dropped keys which provoked another “Merde!”.  Finally the door was unlocked and swung open.

“Is she pretty?” said Sabine marching into the room, looking furious.

She looked around, slightly puzzled then looked down to see the corpse at her feet. The keys dropped from her hands and she stared down at the body. For some time she stood motionless looking down and then she made an unearthly, low keening sound. She fell to her knees and her hand went over her mouth. She gasped for air like she was drowning and her eyes looked up for a moment before staring back down at the remains of Emile.

“No,” she sighed. “No.”

“No, please no,” she said louder, then like a prayer, “no no no no no.”

Her hands left her face and held the frail head of Emile, she stroked the remaining hair.

“Why… why you… why you?” she whispered. “Why you?”

She keeled over and held his head to her chest. Lying on her side and clutching Emile to her she made a guttural sound in her throat. She then emitted a series of rhythmic sobs.

“We would have been so good, my love,” she whispered. “We would have made such magic, such poetry, such beauty. We would have lived a life so wild and vivid.”

Sabine’s eyes closed and she moved no more as tears trickled down her face. After a little while like this, she disappeared.

The Paris Awakening: Fire Part 2

moondial necklace prisma

Sir John looked at Marie. He was feeling exhausted and a little anxious from the encounter with the Walrus and had not yet had a chance to speak to Marie. He’d noticed she’d been preoccupied with the pendant and the moondial she had acquired and had barely met his eye.

“What is it?” said Sir John nervously.

“I think I have figured this out,” said Marie, holding up the moondial and the pendant. “You see they have the same stone, and when they are together the compass behaves strangely.”

“I see,” said Sir John, who was thinking it wasn’t just the compass behaving strangely.

“It points south,” said Marie. “When they are together. Not north”

“Maybe that necklace is a little magnetised?” said Sir John.

“No I checked,” said Marie. “No matter where I place the necklace, it always faces south. Do you see?”

“I see,” said Sir John, who didn’t.

“You know what I think this means?” said Marie. “I think it is pointing to my mother, or a connection with my mother, somehow. The necklace and the moondial are from my family.  And the moon… not a sundial, you see? I think it is a way to find them.”

“But Marie, your mother is dead,” said Sir John. “You said your aunt told you.”

“She said many things,” said Marie, “not all of them true. She was not even my blood relative, that was my uncle. The Walrus said, well, it implied she might be alive, that my aunt might have lied.”

“You think the Walrus told the truth?” said Sir John.

“It said that it told, what was it, emotional truths?” said Marie. “I don’t know, but I know that there is a chance she is alive and this could lead to her. Don’t you see mon cher, this is what I have been looking for. A way to find out who I am.”

“But what about Clackprattle, and, and Pook and the key and everything?” said Sir John.

Mon cher, we have most of the key now, and there is Sabine and Emile and the others,” said Marie, “and… you. You won’t need me for the rest.”

“You want to go… alone?” said Sir John.

“No of course not,” said Marie, “but you are right, it’s better for you to stay because of the situation. But for me, I have to go, I have to find if she is still alive.”

“Well, if you’re sure you don’t need me to go…” said Sir John.

Pff,” said Marie, “I am a French woman in France. What could be safer? I’ll be fine. I’ll just follow this lead and come back as soon as I can. You won’t even notice I’ve gone.”

Marie headed to their living area excitedly. She whistled a popular tune under her breath. Sir John watched as she started piling up clothes with wild abandon and little apparent discernment. She picked a suitcase and threw the clothes in, before sitting on it to close it. 

“If you’re sure you don’t need me,” said Sir John again quietly.

The Paris Awakening: Fire Part 1

key piece2

A small piece of metal sat in the middle of the table. It looked like a tiny smoking pipe, with a narrow cylinder ending at a bowl. Around the table sat Miss Henderson, Sabine, Phlebotomous, Osvold, Marie and Sir John. Morag lay next to the table, staring into space.

“Well, well done everyone,” said Phlebotomous and started to clap. The other faces at the table looked at him impassively so he slowed the clapping before coming to an awkward halt. 

“You must all be pleased!” he added and looked around the table. Nobody looked very pleased. 

Marie was playing absently with her moondial and necklace. Sir John kept glancing at her and back to the table. Miss Henderson had red eyes and was staring at the metal piece and Sabine kept glancing at the door. Phlebotomous looked down at Osvold who shrugged.

“How did you do it?” said Phlebotomous, trying to keep a cheerful tone in his voice. He felt that this was one of those moments where something was happening that he wasn’t fully aware of. This sort of thing had happened to him before. It put him slightly on edge as sometimes it ended up with people running at him with garlic and crosses. He actually didn’t mind the garlic and crosses, it was the people running at him that he didn’t like much. He had quite a pronounced personal space.

“How did we do it?” said Sir John, looking around the table. “Or rather, who did it?”

“It was me,” said Miss Henderson. “That walrus said some upsetting things that I won’t repeat and I sort of said something clever back. Although truth be told I didn’t mean it then and now it’s just sort of haunting me what he said.”

“Yes,” said Sir John, “Yes, I understand. I also… I also heard some things I’d rather not have heard and don’t care to relate now. Morag?”

“I dinnae wanna talk about it,” said Morag and went back to staring into space.

Sir John glanced at Marie who was now engrossed in her moondial and pendant, moving the pendant back and forth.

“How did we get back?” he said. “I don’t remember.”

“You were all a bit away with the fairies,” said Miss Henderson. “But since we’re in Paris no-one seemed to notice. No offence, Miss Be… Belle…”

“Sabine,” said Sabine, facing the door. “And no offence is taken. I am not originally from Paris for one and I am extremely hard to offend for another. I’d rather know what people thought.”

She turned back to the table.

“Where is Emile?” she said. “He said he would be here.”

“I’m sure he’ll be here presently, Miss… Sabine,” said Miss Henderson. “I’ve no doubt he’ll want to see you.”

Morag lifted her head and looked at Miss Henderson.

“You’ve changed your tune,” Morag whispered quietly.

“Sometimes it takes a dramatic moment to see people for who they are,” said Miss Henderson, to no-one in particular. Sir John looked at her and then at Marie.

“I have had enough waiting,” said Sabine, “I will find that idiot man and bring him here whether he wants to come or not.”

She stood up and left the church.

“I think we need to get some things ready,” said Phlebotomous to Osvold, “just in case.” At that, the two vampires left.

“How about a nice walk, Morag?” said Miss Henderson. “To lift our spirits. Mrs Jennings, Sir Jennings?”

“No thank you,” said Marie, absently.

The maid and the dog left the church too, leaving Sir John and Marie alone. Marie looked up at her husband.

“There’s something I have to say,” she said.

 

Odobenus Rosmarus and Cetonia Aurata

Victorian Walrus

Greetings Dear Reader!

We interrupt your usual, if sporadic, reading with a message from the creators. We have frequently been struck by the strange, synchronistic phenomenon that often accompanies the writing process. The writer Alan Moore has, I believe, encountered John Constantine in a sandwich shop. After writing a story about some confusion between a bicycle and a head, we were amazed to find a poster containing both appear opposite our house. We have many, merry little tales of events from the page intruding into every day life.

Most recently, whilst our characters were being emotionally tested by an imaginary walrus, we found ourselves being tested by some very real walruses. We sat down one evening to watch Our Planet, which we had naively assumed to be a pleasing animal documentary with some walruses in it. Dear Reader, at this point you either understand exactly what we are referring to or we recommend you watch the aforementioned television show with a box of tissues to hand. For we were truly moved to tears by the horror show we saw.

We decided that immediate action was necessary and so are now the proud adoptees of a walrus from WWF.  In turn, we would like you, Dear Reader, to consider a donation of some kind to this most worthy cause.

Yours imploringly

Paul Michael

The Paris Awakening: Water Part 16

Emile

Emile sat as his desk organising papers into neat and largely random piles when there was a knock at the door.

“I’ll have it Saturday,” he shouted without moving.

There was a short pause then another knock.

“Alright, Friday then,” said Emile.

The door knocked a third time and Emile got up with a sigh. He went to the door and opened it.

“Thursday is probably…” he started but was stopped when a green coloured hand grabbed him by the throat. Clackprattle pushed Emile back into the apartment while Pook followed after and quietly closed the door behind them.

Emile was making soft choking noises as Clackprattle held him. The skin around Emile’s neck and chin was starting to age rapidly, wrinkling and thinning.

“We’d better make sure, before his face is gone,” said Pook and took out a piece of paper from his jacket. He looked at the small daguerreotype of a man and the details written on it, then at Emile then back and forth rapidly.

“Emile?” Pook said, “Emile Planquette? Of the Société d’Evénements Mystérieux?”

Emile looked over at him, his eyes wild as the skin around his mouth aged rapidly.

“I’m pretty sure it’s you,” said Pook. “Let me check these papers.”

Clackprattle continued to stare at Emile as the corruption spread up to his nose.

“Sab…” breathed Emile liquidly, “Sab…ine.”

“Is that a lover, wife or mother do you think?” said Pook looking at the piles on the table. “It’s always women at the end isn’t it? Ah, yes, this is definitely the right chap. He has signed something here.”

Pook turned back around and saw Clackprattle continue to stare manically at Emile as the aging reached his eyes. They bulged rheumily as the aging spread further over the temples, Emile’s hair fell out in chunks onto the floor and at last the eyes went blank, all light behind them gone. Clackprattle let go and and the wizened corpse of an old man fell to the ground.

“Well, that was the last one,” said Pook. “I imagine this one will arouse a little more suspicion given the state of him.”

Clackprattle put his green hand back into its glove and looked around the room for the first time.

“Filthy,” he said.

“Well, shall we be off?” said Pook.

“Yes, yes,” said Clackprattle, then hesitated.

“This is the last one, isn’t it Pook?” he said.

“Indeed Master,” said Pook. “We have discharged our side of the bargain in this regard.”

“I just wonder, a little,” said Clackprattle. “Now that we have done what they wanted and given the blasted luck we had with the key, whether, whether the order may see us as… disposable in some sense.”

Pook’s eyes widened dramatically.

“Master Clackprattle,” he said, “I am sure that a company as prestigious and courteous as theirs would always understand that bad fortune could befall a man and would in any event be certain to value one as esteemed as your good self in the highest possible manner. I think you need have no fear in that regard.”

“And you…” said Clackprattle hesitantly. “You will be there to support me?”

Pook looked at his feet and smiled vacantly.

“I will always be there to do the bidding of my master,” he said. “Always.”

Clackprattle nodded once.

“Your a good sort Pook,” he said and the two men left the apartment.

 

Charles Baudelaire + personal archives

The Paris Awakening: Water Part 15

Henderson hand

“In we come everybody, in we come Sir John, Mrs Jennings, Morag,” said Miss Henderson at the door of the artists church.

Mon Dieu!” said Sabine, jumping up from the big table. “What happened?”

“Let’s get these lot in,” said Miss Henderson, “and I can try to explain.”

She brought the trio in, arms around the Jennings and one hand on the lead of Morag. Sabine helped her get the humans into chairs and the dog onto a comfortable rug. All three had a vacant look in their eyes and their lips twitched occasionally. Miss Henderson sat down at the table.

“I think, under the circumstances, a nice cup of tea might be in order,” she said. “I’ll make one in just a minute.”

“Have you been crying?” said Sabine. “Your eyes… never mind tea I think this calls for brandy.”

Sabine disappeared for a moment then returned with an ornate bottle and two glasses.

“It is extra old, from Cognac,” she said as she poured two glasses.

“Oh well, I suppose it will do anyway,” said Miss Henderson. She took the glass and took a big gulp of the drink.

“That’s actually quite acceptable under the circumstances,” said Miss Henderson. “Thank you Mrs… I mean Madame Bell… Bell..”

“Sabine, please,” said Sabine, “under the circumstances.”

“Under the circumstances,” agreed Miss Henderson, and drank the rest of the glass.

“So what happened?” said Sabine, refilling the drink.

“Well we went to see the Walrus and we had the test,” she said. “I was last, but even though that was the case I don’t know what was said to the others. It was like he spoke to them, but you couldn’t hear, like his words were underwater. But after he spoke, they were in this state, all gin and tonic as Morag says.”

“Did he speak to you?” said Sabine. “What did he say?”

“He said… well he said,” started Sabine then took another big gulp of the brandy. “There’s this gentleman… and some difficulty.”

Sabine patted Miss Henderson’s wrist.

“With gentlemen there is always some difficulty,” Sabine said. “They are naturally difficult creatures.”

“Actually,” said Miss Henderson, “It’s not a difficulty with the gentleman. It’s a difficulty with family and friends. It’s a question of what people might think.”

“Felicity, do you mind if I call you that?” said Sabine. “Felicity, what matters is what he thinks and what you think. Other people, they either like you and will accept you or don’t and then you don’t need them. Good friends are good friends not because they like who you are, but because they like you no matter who you are.”

Miss Henderson looked up at Sabine and nodded slowly. Sabine raised her glass and smiled and the two women clinked glasses together. They both drank.

“So, I suppose we have to go back and try again,” said Sabine sighing. “Maybe we can work out what’s needed to pass the test next time.”

“Actually,” said Miss Henderson. “I’m not sure we do.”

She pulled her hand out from under the table, still clenched in a fist. She opened her whitened fingers one by one to reveal a small piece of metal.

The Paris Awakening: Water Part 14

ghost walrus 2 prisma

“Are you ready?” said the Walrus.

Sir John glanced at Marie, Morag and Miss Henderson. Marie nodded lightly.

“I believe so,” said Sir John as a small fish passed in front of his face.

“Then we’ll begin,” said the Walrus.

She doesn’t need you, John. She hasn’t needed you for a while now. She’s more powerful than you. She had found out more with her wits than you have with your clever toys. Even as we speak she learns more and more about who she is and what she can do. How long before she leaves? How long before she finds people, creatures, beings that she does need?

And what will you do then? Lick your wounds and fly home? Build more pointless machines? Look for phantasms that you’ll never find? For if she doesn’t need you, then no one will.

Mon cher?” said Maire, looking at her husband, her brow furrowed. “Mon cher, are you alright? What was said, mon cher? I didn’t hear.”

Why do you think she’s dead, Marie? You never had proof except from an aunt who lied to you. How do you know she didn’t lie about your mother? Or is it easier for you to believe she is dead? After all, running away is what you do, isn’t it?…is what you always did. Is it easier to run from the possibility of your mother than to search for her? Is it easier to believe there is no family at all anywhere? That you, with all your powers, couldn’t find a family if they did exist? Have you really come to Paris to find who you are, or are you just running again from who you’ve become?

“They’re catatonic,” hissed Morag, “What did it say to them to do that?”

And why do you think he’s dead, Morag? Your father stuck by you for centuries, made sure you were safe. He dragged your soul from death, even in the wrong body. He tortured himself every day for that mistake. He worked tirelessly to create the stone to liberate you both or keep you alive until he could. And then when he vanished, magically, you forgot about him. You didn’t try to see if anything had happened, not one operation, not one conjuration to see if he was alive. Was it such a relief for him to be gone, after all he did, that you turned your tail and walked away?

“Morag?” said Miss Henderson. “Marie? Sir John? What… what’s happened to you?”

He can never marry you, Felicity. No matter how much he loves you or you love him, you can never be man and wife. How could you be? Your family are criminals and he is a policeman, a detective even. How would that work? What would the wedding be like? At least there would be no need for introductions as the left aisle has likely been arrested by the right. If you were to marry, what would happen to you both? He would be rejected by your family, suspected at work. He’d have to leave the job he loves and he would come to resent you for that. And you, how would you feel about your family, or them about you? You could be ostracised, you could be abandoned. It is impossible to see how you could be together.

A tear slowly trickled down Miss Henderson’s cheek and she looked down.

“That…” she said, “that would be a very sad thing, because in truth, I like him very, very much and I think he likes me and I think together, just us, we could be very happy. But if what you say were true… if that were true…”

She looked up at the Walrus and stuck her trembling chin out.

“There are plenty more fish in the sea.” she said.

The Walrus smiled and the aquarium vanished. Miss Henderson stood in the gloom with her three companions. She wiped the tear with a clenched fist.