The Paris Awakening: Prologue Part 2

“As you say I grew up in a small village, but my mother hadn’t always lived there. She had grown up with her sister in Paris and moved just before I was born. I don’t know why, but it seemed something bad had happened to her there. That’s not so strange I think in a big city. So I suppose she wanted me to grow up somewhere safer.

“The problem was the place wasn’t safe, but for an unexpected reason. Because of me. When I was young I found I could influence things around me. People a little, but mostly animals. Never anything inanimate, just things that thought. Everyone thought I just had a way with animals, as they would always come to me. They had no idea I was calling them.

“The problem with villages is that there is no escape from people there. Everyone knows everything about you. The other children were jealous that I was considered special, and I had few friends. Then one day, I saw him.”

Marie stopped to have some soup. Sir John was looking at her closely as his soup was all gone.

“Saw who?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” she said, “I mean I don’t know what he was. One day I was walking alone by the river making the ducks swim alongside me when I saw a man fishing. When I got close though I saw he wasn’t a normal man. He was very short with hairy legs and with horns.”

“A faun?” asked Sir John.

“Maybe,” continued Marie, “I stared at him for a while and he turned to look at me and said ‘Oh, a little witch.’ I knew the word was bad, and I was scared of the creature so I ran. I tried to tell my mother but she didn’t listen and said I was making up a silly story. I thought maybe I was myself, so I asked the children in my school if they had seen him. They all said they had and that we should all go and say hello. I was quite surprised. After school we all went together and I felt pleased to have some friends at last. When we got to the spot by the river I saw the strange man, the faun, again. I said hello to him but all the other children just laughed at me. They said – you know children can be cruel – they said I had no friends so had to make up an invisible one. I was so upset pointing to the creature asking if they could see it and they just laughed harder and harder. Eventually, I just shouted ARRETER and they did. They all froze solid.

paprolpart2“Very good!”

“The creature said ‘Very good little one, that will show them,’ and then he turned and disappeared. I didn’t know what to do, surrounded by these frozen children. I ran to my mother and brought her to the children. When she saw them, she screamed. She shook me asking what happened, and I was crying saying I didn’t know. I said I wished the children would move and suddenly they all did again.

“No-one at all spoke to me after that. Within a week my aunt and uncle came. They took me to Paris. The last time I saw my mother was from the back of the carriage. I was never allowed to visit her and she never came to see me.”

 

The Fulham Fiend: Chapter 11

“Marie … I …” said Sir John.

He looked down from the mirror and sighed.  Then he looked up again.

“Marie! I!” he said then looked down and shook his head. There was a knock at the door. He span round to face it.

“Come in!” he said with a tremulous voice. The door swung open.

“Marie? I …” said Sir John. Behind the door was a young maid.

“Sir Jennings?” said the girl. “There’s a French lady at the front door to see you.”

“Ah, that will be my wife,” said Sir John. “I hope. Show her in please.”

The maid started to leave the room when Sir John said,

“Wait! Who are you?”

“I’m Miss Henderson,” said the maid. “Mrs Flitwick, she’s my cousin’s aunt’s best friend, she said you would need some help as she had become spontaneously indisposed.”

“I see, very good,” said Sir John. “Please send in my wife. Oh … wait!”

Miss Henderson turned back into the room.

“What did you call me?” asked Sir John.

“Sir Jennings?” said the maid. “Have I got your name wrong, sir?”

“No, not at all,” said Sir John. “Welcome to my home.”

ff-ch11“Sir Jennings?”

Miss Henderson did a sort of curtsy then left. Shortly after, Marie came hesitantly into the room. She dropped her hat on the sideboard and looked at her husband.

“Marie, I…” started Sir John, then paused. There was silence.

“Marie. I.” said Sir John and paused again. Marie’s eyes started to water, and her chin trembled a little.

“Marie! I don’t care what you are,” said Sir John. “You’re my wife. We belong together.”

He moved to Marie and held her.  She gave a couple of little sobs.

Je t’aime,” she said.

“And I t’aime you too,” said Sir John, “with all my heart.”

“I want to explain, mon cher,” said Marie, “but first you must call the police. The fiend has struck again and …  I …  I found where he lives.”

“He has? You did? How?” said Sir John. Marie looked down.

“I’ll tell you later. I’ll tell you everything later,” she said. “But please, let Dawlish know. Farm Lane.”

Sir John left the room and Marie sat down. She looked at the crochet and picked it up absently, her fingers working as she stared into space. Presently, Sir John came back in the room and Marie stood up.

“All done, they’ll come over in the morning,” he said.

There was a pause.

“You could have told me,” said Sir John quietly.

“I … I could not,” said Marie, “I was afraid.”

“Of me?” said Sir John.

“No, not of you,” she said. “Maybe a little of what you would think. But mostly of me. Of what I can do … I … I barely know.”

Sir John stepped close to her and smiled warmly.

“We can do experiments!” he said excitedly.

Mon cher?” said Marie, a little taken aback.

“Nothing surgical, obviously, “ said Sir John, making a scissor motion absently with his fingers. Marie looked down in shock at his hand and Sir John followed her gaze. He jumped back in horror and shoved his hand in his pocket.

“I mean,” he said, “we can work this out together.  As a couple. As we should.”

Marie’s face softened and she moved close to him again.

“We certainly have all the equipment!” he said and held Marie in his arms. She rested her head on his shoulder.

There was another pause.

“What do we do now?” said Sir John.

“Something else for which we have all the equipment,” said Marie. Sir John looked puzzled.

“What’s that exactly?” he said. Marie whispered in his ear.

“Oh!” he said and turned red.

The Fulham Fiend: Chapter 12

The Fulham Fiend: Chapter 9

“She’s a witch,” said Sir John staring blankly ahead of him.

“Perhaps,” said Symonds, shooting a glance at Phlebotomous, “we’ll finish our conversation at another time.”

He got up to leave and indicated to the vampire, who looked puzzled at him. Just then Mrs Flitwick came in wearing a hat and coat and carrying a suitcase and parasol.

“Oh, Sir Jenkins, I’m terribly sorry and I hope it isn’t inconvenient but my sister in Newcastle has just had one of her turns, and I should really go to her as my other sister is in prison.”

“She’s a witch,” said Sir John staring blankly ahead of him.

“Well, Sir Jenkins, that is a little strong, but my husband says something similar,” said Mrs Flitwick. “I shall enquire amongst my friends and family and see if anyone can come assist with your … particular needs.”

She shot a nervous glance at Phlebotomous and headed out the door with such haste that the case and parasol became stuck in the door. Symonds opened the door for her and they both left.

ff-ch-9-sepia“Quite Quickly!”

“She’s a witch,” said Sir John staring blankly ahead of him.

“So you say!” said Phlebotomous sounding cheerful. “So you keep saying!”

“Actually,” said Sir John, still looking vacant, “you said it first.”

“So I did, silly old Phlebotomous,” laughed the vampire nervously.

“How could I not know?” said Sir John.

“Well, lots of couples don’t know little facts about each other!” said Phlebotomous. “For example my sister didn’t realise for years that her husband disliked herring. It’s very similar to your situation, not knowing your wife was a supernatural creature of immense power.”

“I’m an investigator of the supernatural,” said Sir John, “I mean, I try to find supernatural creatures.”

“And look,” said Phlebotomous, “you succeeded! In fact you married one.”

“She must be laughing at me,” said Sir John.

“When she’s laughing, do tears usually pour down her face?” asked Phlebotomous. Sir John turned to look at him curiously.

“I don’t see a lot of people laughing,” explained Phlebotomous. “Mostly they look nervous … unless I’m demonstrating a device! Actually, they tend to look nervous then as well.”

“No, she doesn’t usually cry when laughing. Why?” said Sir John.

“Then she wasn’t laughing when she ran down the road,” said Phlebotomous.

“She was upset?” asked Sir John.

“When she’s upset, tears pour down her face?” asked Phlebotomous.

“Typically, yes,” said Sir John.

“Then I’d say she was upset,” said Phlebotomous.

A look of horror passed over Sir John’s face.

“Oh, what have I done?” he said. “She probably hoped I would help her, support her, with, with these powers. She was always interested in my research, and no wonder. And I practically threw her out.”

“Actually, I think she ran out,” said Phlebotomous, “quite quickly.”

“It amounts to the same,” said Sir John, “I rejected her. She’ll feel lost, abandoned. I must prepare for her return … oh … if she returns.”

Sir John stood up and opened the door and looked at Phlebotomous.

“Oh, go ahead,” said Phlebotomous. “I’ll wait here.”

“Mr Bosch,” said Sir John, “I need to be alone.”

Phlebotomous got up to leave.

“Well, it was nice having tea with you,” he said. “Well, until that business with the … when I said about … well … I’ll see myself out.”

The Fulham Fiend: Chapter 10

The Fulham Fiend: Chapter 7

Sir John, Detective Symonds, and Phlebotomous Bosch were sitting in the drawing room around a small table. Mrs Flitwick had come into the room with tea and cake on a silver plate. She was eyeing Phlebotomous warily and seemed intent on staying on the other side of the table from him as she laid out the tea, cups, and plates.

“So, Mr Bosch,” said Detective Symonds, “although you appear to be innocent of the crimes, we shall want to speak to someone who can confirm your movements on certain nights. I’m sure you understand, given your … condition.”

Mrs Flitwick seemed to start muttering some sort of prayer as Symonds said this.

“Of course I understand,” said Phlebotomous, “and please call me Phlebotomous. My friend usually does. As fortune has it, I am often demonstrating my many inventions of an evening and I can check my diary for the dates.”

He held his left hand just in front of him and opened his jacket. A small book shot out of it causing Symonds to duck. It landed close to a table with some crochet on it, dislodging the table cloth. Mrs Flitwick made the sign of the cross and quickly left the room. Symonds reached down and passed the book back to Phlebotomous.

ff-ch-7-sepia“A Witch?”

“That may need a little work,” said the vampire. He turned round to see Sir John peering at him through a small device like a telescope on a stick.

“What in the world is that?” asked Phlebotomous.

“It’s my portable ectoscope, for investigating magical artefacts,” said Sir John.

“Oh, how does that work?” asked Phlebotomous.

“Gentlemen,” said Symonds, “perhaps we can return to the matter at hand.”

“Of course,” said Phlebotomous and Sir John in unison.

“So on the night of the 14th?” asked Symonds.

“Let me see,” said Phlebotomous, opening his diary. “Ah! I dined with the Fotheringays, lovely couple, and demonstrated my patented Hair Untangler.”

“And they will vouch for you?” asked Symonds.

“I imagine so,” said Phlebotomous, “although there was an unfortunate incident with the dog.”

“What happened?” said Sir John.

“Well, I must have overcompensated for the feedback torque a little,” said Phlebotomous. “Long story short, the dog is now bald.”

“Oh, I had a similar experience with a Phantasm Trap,” said Sir John. “The medical bills were quite extensive.”

“Gentlemen…” started Symonds.

“How were you going to trap phantasms?” asked Phlebotomous. “Aren’t they largely non-corporeal?”

“I had an electromagnetic wire cage as a sort of containment device,” said Sir John. “The burns were rather nasty.”

“Gentlemen…” said Symonds again,

“How interesting,” said Phlebotomous. “And you use these devices to investigate supernatural phenomena?”

“Indeed,” said Sir John. “My wife and I, we work together, have so far successfully investigated a haunting and a case of mesmerism.”

“If we may continue…” said Symonds.

“And that’s all you’ve used? These devices?” asked Phlebotomous.

“And our deductive reasoning powers,” said Sir John. “And, Marie has, you know, a woman’s intuition.”

“I must insist…” said Symonds.

“Well, you must have great reasoning powers, sir, I’m impressed,” said Phlebotomous. “Usually these sorts of creatures and intelligences need a sort of … power … to work with them.”

“Gentlemen, please!” shouted Symonds. The two others looked at him with curiosity. Just then the door opened and Marie came in.

Mon cher,” she started to say, then pressed herself against the wall, staring at Phlebotomous.

“Oh, of course!” he said. “Now I understand … your wife! A witch!”

“I beg your pardon!” said Sir John, “May I remind you sir that this is my house.”

“Oh, sorry,” said Phlebotomous. “Yes, I imagine it’s a secret that’s she’s a witch. I do apologise.”

“A secret?” said Sir John. “Sir, there is no secret. My wife is not a witch.”

He turned to Marie.

“My dear, I’m sorry for what this mad fellow has said. You’re clearly not a witch.”

He saw the look on her face.

“Marie?” he said.

“I’m sorry,” said Marie and fled from the room.

There was a sound of the front door closing and footsteps running down the street.

The Fulham Fiend: Chapter 8