#1 Lockhart & Doppler Six Part Penny DreadfulNote to my readers: This was the very first story I wrote with the characters of Lockhart and Doppler, I had been involved in the Steampunk community for a short while and decided to turn mine and my daughter's alter egos into pulp, penny dreadful style characters. A new magazine Clockwork Chronicle, produced by Stuart Farrar and Charli Anderson, accepted this short six parter for their next issue, Stuart has agreed that I could post this on my blog.
Remember, you will be able to read it in paper format once the Clockwork Chronicle is distributed.
Miss Penny Dreadful introduces:
“The Life and Crimes of Lockhart and Doppler”
I had retired to my bed early one night, after a repast of some cold mutton and a glass of fine Bordeaux, when an almighty crash from below had me tugging on my boots ( Rule number 5; always protect your feet ) and racing down the stairs grabbing my pistol en route for the laboratory, where I knew Doppler was working on some hideous experiment this night, but Doppler doesn’t drop things, she may be absent minded at times but Doppler is careful with her instruments and equipment, so I knew something was afoot.
I skidded across the hallway, hitched my nightgown, booted the door open (see Rule number 5) and levelled the gun at a knotty pair struggling and flailing about. A rather grim looking chap in dreadful attire and in desperate need of a barber, had grabbed Doppler about the waist and swung her against the heavy table; I couldn’t shoot, I might hit Doppler, she gave a cry as her hip smashed against the aged oak.
“Damn you man, unhand her!”
I shouted still pointing the useless weapon, quickly his hand reached up to her right temple with what appeared to be a small pistol, Doppler, outraged but feigning fright, reached for the pearl hair pin that grand mama left her and savagely gouged the side of his face. The affect was astonishing, he howled like a stamped upon cat and loosed his hold immediately, I dashed forward and delivered a solid kick to his bawbles, he folded like an accordion, making as much noise, whereupon I kicked the weapon from his weakened grip and stamped on his fingers for good measure..
Half an hour later, having bound the intruder to a sturdy chair and stuffed his yapper with a rag, Doppler and I viewed him over our teacups.
“So, Lockhart, what do we do with him, call the crushers?”
“I want to know what he’s after before we get the police involved” I replied.
Turning to the grubby fellow,
“So, what’s your game eh?” I removed the stuffing from his toothy maw, “Speak up, I’ve little patience for men who go about accosting my partner, the fact that we are not informing the police should give you some idea of our moral position, eh?”
He sneered through his grimy beard,
“What ya gonna do eh ladies, keep me tied to this ‘ere lounger? You can’t keep me forever, you’re gonna have to let me go at some point.”
I grabbed a handful of his whiskers and twisted, unable to help himself he yelped.
“Just an opportunity, just thought I’d give it a go, saw the ‘ouse and figured I might find summat, looked like fair game.” he squealed.
“Don’t believe you sir!” I retorted, giving his side whiskers a tweak.
“Let’s put him in the cellar!” smiled Doppler, “With the other body!”
We eyed each other thoughtfully, I paced the room swinging my pocket watch.
“No-one will hear him down there” she exclaimed.
I glanced at our guest, he was beginning to look worried, to my delight, not so tough now I thought.
“But what will happen to him if ‘it’ gets out of its crate?” I asked, “We could have a real mess to clear up”
“Just let it take him” Doppler replied, “Who will know?”
We carried on this charade for some minutes. Of course we didn’t have anything dangerous in our cellar, I don’t think! We did have crates of straw and various findings from our travels abroad, a few trinkets that we thought the Royal Society wouldn’t miss (I never said we were ladies of honour).
“Now come on ladies” he interjected, a rising panic in his voice, “I ain’t done nothing, you’re both alright aren’t you? If you let me go, I promise to keep away, not say a word, come on now, you don’t want to put me in with the, b…body.”
I was bored now, so between us, we dragged the smelly wretch down the cellar steps, in the dark of course, he wriggled and tried to holler through his muffled mouth, to no avail. We placed him so that his back was to the bottom of the steps and facing a large wooden crate with obscure writing, obscure to him I hoped, it was simply Arabic and contained some as yet unpacked items from the tomb of some minor royalty from the Old Kingdom, 5th Dynasty I think.
“What's your name?” I asked, removing his gag once more.
“Flower ma’am, B-Bert Flower.”
“You don’t smell much like a flower Bert, and you’ll smell even less like one after we leave you in here for a couple of days.”
“Please missus, I was just looking, for ‘im you see.”
“Who him?” “Can’t say missus, please, let me go.”
At that moment from the darkness beyond came a skittering, scraping sound, he heard it too, his eyes widened, I smiled, he hadn’t detected Doppler quietly advancing from behind, she jabbed him hard in the side of his neck. Bert gasped and twisted in terror. Doppler walked into his line of vision, bending from the waist towards him, she showed him the mighty syringe, now empty.
“Mr Flower, you have received a deadly dose of Tantum Aqua, I don’t really know its full affects, but I suggest you begin talking so that I can administer the antidote as soon as possible.” I myself had never heard of the stuff, my Latin was almost nil.
Flowers’ eyes bulged and rolled, his chin trembled, and he looked pleadingly at the pair of us. I must admit, I didn’t have a clue what Doppler had given him and wasn’t sure how long he would last, hitching my skirts, I crouched in front of him, he really did smell bad now, oh dear, ensuring my gown didn’t drape into the wet patch on the floor I quietly said,
“Bert, talk, now, or it really will be the worse for you”
I glanced over my shoulder at Doppler, her oh so young and smiling face with the deadly syringe held next to it, looked like she was watching a cheap turn at The Comic Revue.
“The Frenchman missus, don’t know his name, never said.”
“What was he after?”
“He said it was a trifle, it belonged to him anyway” “What is he after!”
I roared rising to my full height, I pulled my iron and placed the muzzle against his forehead.
“The stone of The Sons of Horus!” he shouted in pleading agony, then defecated and promptly feinted.
Doppler and I looked at each other,
To be continued...
Reader's Note #2: you will by now have gathered that I am no Bill Gates when it comes to online technology. Believe me, I have tried to make the work as legible as possible, I have followed instructions from good friends from Facebook, Thank You Keith Winnard, Hubert Huzzah, Alan Banks and Jeffrey Jahloon for your kind assistance, as you see it was not completely successful! Thank you to Kit Cox for giving constructive feedback on the first piece blogged. P.S: I am checking this on the blog page as I go and somehow this seems to have changed colour half way through - and I have tried to rectify it, you will just have to bear with.