#3 stand –alone story
The Life and Crimes of Lockhart and Doppler
An Illustrated journal of amusement, adventure and instruction
The Diary of Theodora Doppler
(Written up from original shorthand and code…)
Let me begin with facts, verified by experimentation, recording in situ and repetition, not to be confused with experience and memory. Experiments in animal characteristic transpositioning and restoration. To bestow life or restore life to dead tissue… I have been working on and off for months now, will I ever understand?
The more I see of the subjugation of women, the more determined I am to act. My suffragist sisters need to be more pro- active. I will be selective; the cruel, the tyrannical, the oppressor, he who pushes my sister down and keeps her under his heel will feel my wrath.
I continue with my experiments. I now have a fine collection of concoctions of various properties, strengths and hues – opiates, sweet vitriol, malonic acids, not forgetting the Shem that Major Jack Union had warned us about, I have something in mind for this. Continue to work on my outfit. After trial run, literally, I had to leg it down that alley last week, have decided I need something more terrifying than a big black cloak…
My hand is shaking with an exhilarating mix of fright and hilarity. I must compose myself before I go down to supper. Tonight I wore the outfit for the first time and headed to the edge of town to experiment. The boots that I had Eli Schumacher make to my specifications are perfect, whilst feeling totally protected, they are also incredibly light and barely discernible. Eli sold me, at great expense I have to say, some of the fine Cordoba leather, a pliable, soft black that is like baby skin, from which I made the cape. Of course, if I had Eli do the sewing for me it would have been perfect, unfortunately I cannot have another see this item – unless I choose!
It was amazing. I found this fellow chatting to a young street girl – God, she couldn’t have been much older than me – he was roughing her up a bit as they made their way down the alley, I walked behind some twenty paces, practically silent, amazing. I ducked into a small yard, climbed onto the wall and continued to follow from up there. He shoved her roughly against a rickety backyard gate and I made myself known. I stood up tall holding my arms out wide, so it must look to him like I had wings, my shaped black mask concealed my identity and I crowed out loud before dropping down beside him, pulling a syringe from one of my boots and stuck him like the pig he is, pumping him full of TD 3, an experimental barbiturate and opiate mix. The girl screamed.
“You silly tart! Get out of here, don’t you know when you’ve been rescued?!”
I tried to push money into her hand so she didn’t have to ‘work’ the rest of the night, but she was stuck, staring at the bloke writhing on the ground making weird mewling noises. I had to push her to get her to move. I crouched besides him and questioned him as to his symptoms, it was necessary to get immediate confirmation of the effects of my new brew; burning in stomach, stretching of his limbs, the cobbles wavering like the sea. It was because I was busy with this berk that I nearly got caught, a couple of people came out of their back gates and I had to run for it, cape flapping. Thank you mother for all the running and leaping, it came in useful.
I hope Mrs Figgin hasn’t made mutton broth again for supper.
Some news in the papers about a vigilante of the night attacking the customers of night-flowers. Peelers on the alert. One chap died. Must make a note of which concoction I used for that one. I think it is time to lay low for a few days at least.
Lockhart was called before the Royal Geographical Society, again! Another trip to London then, fortunate timing. So I was free to roam. I visited the British Museum and searched the books for alchemical processes from the East, brews from Africa and Asia. I encountered a delightful young lady in the Enlightenment section. The impression I had was of a strong, wilful individual with a hint of otherworldliness. Mary, for that is her name, invited me to take lunch, we attended a small, exclusive coffee shop and spent a wonderful afternoon exchanging pleasantries. Mary is a year or two older than me and has had a not dissimilar start to life as myself - I have never met my father and this has been a source of discomfort in certain circles, Mary lost her mother when she was but a babe and her father remarried a neighbour. We are both liberal thinkers and Mary has set her sights on becoming a writer whilst I seek to become an independent in the field of science. So easy did we find each other’s company and so easy was our conversation that I did reveal to her who my mother is. She has heard of her and was not surprised to find that a mind such as mine should have been developed through such unfashionable, nay, adventurous nurturing. We parted with promises to write and kissed each other fondly on the cheek.
That evening in our rooms, I told Lockhart of my new found friend – I did not however tell her that I had revealed my maternal identity. I am pleased to have found a friend of my age, with my values and of the same mind as myself. The amount of travelling that we do means my childhood has often been devoid of companionship of comparable years.
Mother has gone on a trip to Bavaria or some such place. Trying to go digging in Bohemia for the lost crown jewels of King Wenceslas apparently, sometimes I think she just goes looking for trouble. Finally home I can get on with my own things, as long as Mrs. Figgin doesn’t interrupt too much. The woman gets on my nerves shoving her dusting cloths around my laboratory and telling me what to eat and when to eat it – you’re not my bloody mother Mrs. F, is what I’d like to say, but I can’t…
I have continued my readings of the works of Galvani and Volta today, bioelectricity is a fascinating field of science. I already possess some of the equipment necessary; electrodes, electric generator, coils and capacitors. I need to make myself a voltaic pile and make or obtain an electro static machine.
Didn’t eat yesterday, Mrs. F gave me a telling off – mind your own business woman! Spent all last night and early hours of this morning assembling for the experiment. I had put a moth in the killing jar and began the first trial. The insect simply frizzled away – negative results.
This afternoon I went into the garden with my butterfly net and made a collection of Lepidopterans, beetles and a finch. Each met with similar lack of success, although I am convinced that the finch made some minor signs of movement – I need to run it again with same size creature…
Spent last couple of days locked in my lab, despite the extortions of Mrs. Figgin and her ghastly brawn pie. I feel I am getting closer. Sat out in the thunder storm last night, how marvellous lightening is, such power.
Six house sparrows, 5 Neg.1 Inconclusive.
Two greenfinch. Neg.
One mouse, Inconclusive.
One rabbit. Neg.
Mary came to visit. We spent all of the day discussing the Rights of Women, Galvanism, literature, sleep induction and Nietzschian individualism. We are of one mind, Mary believes that we have a connection that goes beyond sisterhood. If I were a believer I might say a spiritual connection. But what is the spirit? Simply an invention of man to quell the fear of the end of life, a fear of the unknown, a fear of becoming nothing. Are we not but higher forms of animals that mostly wander aimless through life then die? No.
There is no God.
Tonight I visited the filth of the city alleyways again. I managed to rescue three women from the clutches of their male aggressors. One was a husband and wife, he was beating her with such force and cruelty that I did not hesitate to use a strychnine and arsenic blend, he convulsed, vomited and spasmed. I watched him die, his wife stood beside me, unmoved. She was, I think, satisfied with the results. As she had children to feed I gave her funds to last a week. As she had sewing skills, I directed her to a tailors in the city that was newly opened and looking for seamstresses.
I have modified a stun gun to emit a lower pulse rate. I believe that the dead animals I have been using may be too long dead or they have hearts that are too small to withstand the electricity coursing through them. The gun initially caused small beasts innards to explode or to kill then outright. I have tinkered and think it is almost right. So many animals that have crossed into our garden have ended on my slab; hedgehogs, the occasional rabbit, a young rat. I have carefully dissected, made records and retained specimens.
I have done it! I have given life!
This very night I have made a sparrow live again after it had been dead for half a minute. It flitted about the lab, seemingly blind as it battered into shelves and cupboards and the large window. Many phials and beakers have been smashed, it lasted a mere ten seconds – but it worked!
Today was a mistake, but science demands some sacrifice…I needed something bigger. The neighbour’s cat, Edison, came slinking into our garden early this morning. I was sat near the potting shed with my trap baited waiting for birds. I had decided to forget the sparrows and insects, I was hoping for a pigeon or a crow, much larger birds to work with. However, Edison arrived. As he rubbed up against my calf I bent to collect him up in my arms, stroking his short, sleek fur. I wasn’t really thinking, I didn’t actually plan for this to happen, my hand seemed possessed of a life of its own. Before I was consciously aware of what I was doing, I had injected poor Edison with formula TD12, it had never been injected into a living creature before. I was going to try something new. I have decided that there needs to be some other agent involved in the process, not just electricity, something chemical. I have spent the last nine days working my way through various chemical processes and inventing new ones. I know I have been putting off the inevitable, I know what I really need to use.
I finished Edison off, then began the restoration process. Electrodes attached, generator performing, the uranium capacitor glowed, sparks jumped between the electro static probes. The air had a metallic tang, I breathed deeply. I injected Edison with Shem and turned up the accelerator dial. The cat came to life with a tremendous jolt. It shot off the table, dragging electrodes, tubes and apparatus with it. Wearing my gauntlets I attempted to catch hold but is squirmed fiercely from my grasp. It pelted around the room with ferocious speed, all the while making horrid howling noises. When I approached it as it stood in a corner, it hissed and lashed out with claws extended. Grabbing my notebook I wrote as it fled from floor to shelf, surface to surface in a mad panic – no, not panic, this beast was a new thing, it stared at me with a malevolent yellow eye. The other being completely white, blind. The noise emanating from its throat was totally bestial, primal. I observed as it prowled towards the cages where I was keeping a couple of white rabbits. The rabbits retreated as far into the darkness of their huts as they could, noses twitching frantically. Then with a sudden, dare I say, calculated move, the cat began to tear at the wire with teeth and claws, until it had made a gap wide enough to venture in and seized one of the terrified creatures by the throat. It shook it the way a terrier would a rat and when the rabbit went limp, began to devour it with a hunger I had never seen before. The second rabbit being too terrified of moving was soon dispatched the same way, but the cat did not consume this one, merely annihilated and devastated the body. It prowled the walls, as if searching. I observed it as it weaved its way, turning its head left to right, and keeping me in its view, when of a sudden it dashed at me, as I stepped back, it lashed out at my calf with it claws. Only my boots protected me. Thankfully I was not wearing my night prowling, soft leather ones. These were my day to day, practical, old tough leather, yet the claws scored through the leather like knives, almost reaching my skin. I couldn’t let this…thing, free again. Searching quickly around my lab, my eyes came to rest on the voltaic pile. I wrenched the battery free of its wires and as the mad thing closed in, I brought it down heavily on its head. I smashed it repeatedly.
It is dead.
I don’t know what went wrong.
I received a letter from Mary today, she has met the most adorable man. Percy is a poet with connections in the literary world. He is definitely her kind of man with his dreamy yet positive views, he is also an atheist. Mary is to go on a tour of Europe with Percy and friends, she is hoping that she will get some inspiration for a story. She says she has been influenced by our discussions on life and death and science. I do hope she marries Percy, it would be such a perfect match and she does deserve a kind and gentle husband. Unlike the pig I encountered last night near the taverns of the Poole. A massive brute with knuckles like carved stone. He had approached a lady who was passing by and insinuated himself into her favour, she did not strike me as one of the regulars, or even a Flower of the Night at all, she seemed out of place, lost. He pulled this woman into a nearby jigger and proceeded to accost her, her struggles were to no avail. As he groped at her with one hand over her mouth I presented myself with my usual flourish, leaping out of the shadows and crowing in an especially venomous manner. He was, as can be expected, utterly startled and speechless. I cried “Unhand her you beast of filth!” and as he turned I could not believe it, he had about his dark attire a white collar! A ‘man of the cloth’. I felt sick, I felt horror and immense anger building up inside. As he turned his attention from the woman, I pulled out my blowpipe and shot him with another experimental concoction. As he slapped his hand to the side of his neck, I stepped forwards and stuck him with another and another. The woman fled screaming in terror. I don’t know how many doses I gave him. I could not remove from my mind’s eye the image of him preaching to the downtrodden, the destitute and the wayward about the sins of the flesh.
“Hypocrite!” I shouted in his face as he tumbled to the stones, clutching at his belly, his feet scrabbling for purchase. I bent to whisper in his ear, “I will be watching you. I have eyes everywhere, the birds of the air will see your every move, the rats in the sewers have more morals than you. If I hear again of your misdemeanours, believe me… I will kill you.” And with that I leapt into the night.
6 March,Newspaper report; Reverend William Boxy, found hanged in the vestibule of St. Michaels and All Saints…
I am sure that the Shem was a most excellent partner with the electric at reanimating Edison. I have buried the creature at the bottom of the garden. This day, I will begin with a new attempt. I will increase the dosage and mix with my own development of a mix from the adrenal glands of the creatures I dissected plus some ingredients which I have written in my notes. This time the subject will have a heart more able to withstand the voltage of electricity, large enough to cope with a sudden shock. I have set things in motion…
…Mrs. Figgin dutifully slipped on the stair carpet I had loosed. I believe her neck was broken. She lays before me – she was moved with great difficulty, how can a small woman be so heavy? I have attached the electrodes plus more. There is an aroma in the room from the mixtures in the phials bubbling away, not completely unpleasant. The syringe in her arm is attached to a drip running to the retort so that a pure distillation will enter the body. Outside the rain lashes the windows covering the humming of the electro static machine. The heat from the furnace is not as welcoming as it might be this night. I have begun…
Oh horror of horrors. The experiment did work. I reanimated the corpse. May whatever passes for a deity in this world forgive me. She came awake with a start as the cat did. Sitting bolt upright and turning her head slowly began to scan the room. That which had been Mrs. Figgin, housekeeper, cook, domestic, leapt off the table causing disarray, heading straight for my collection of samples and bottles of specimens in alcoholic suspension and began, before my very eyes, to remove lids and consume the contents. Pungent liquid slopped across her chin and clothing, pieces of jelly like matter clinging to her face, she gorged on the remains of mammals, insects, pink pulpiness. I had to swallow hard to keep down the bile. And then, oh I can still fell them looking at me, opaque, fishlike eyes turned to me, and I struck her with the first things that came to hand, glass flasks, apparatus, a brass incense burner that hung overhead. She was not Mrs. Figgin. It was intent on one thing, advancing with arms outstretched, with mouth stretched wide, a horrible sound came from the depths of its throat. I backed away, I couldn’t see how to get to the door, my trembling hand found a wooden shaft, the furnace shovel. I swung it hard at the thing and it immediately fell at my feet. Leaping over it I ran for the door and as I pulled it open I heard the scraping and scuffing as it got to its feet. I knew I had to keep thinking, keep a level head, what was I to do, what?!
I allowed the shell that had been our housekeeper to follow me. I descended the stairs to our cellar, where Lockhart kept all her treasures, all the wooden crates and straw packing, the golden figures from ancient Peru (please forgive me Lockhart) the heat from the furnace above could be felt down here through the vents. The thing moved with unsteady jerks, it seemed blind as it battered into doorways, yet seemed to have a preternatural sense of where I was. I ran down into the cellar and using the shovel I still carried, began to frantically lever up the paving stones. I had two up by the time Mrs. Figgin’s body reached the top of the stairs, I began digging. By the time the creature had entered the cellar, I had dug a shallow pit and removed a third slab. I stood my ground. As it reached me, stinking of formaldehyde and fleshy breathed, I hit it, hard, and again…
I do not recollect how many blows I delivered, I kept at it until the figure lay prone, its face a near pulp. But yet more horror, even as I covered it with earth and began replacing the stones, the thing began to twitch. Involuntary muscle movements I’m sure caused by remnants of electricity. Its fingers spasmed as I dropped the last stones in place.
As I turned away, my ear beheld a faint scratching. The smell of the earth and decay was everywhere. Was that a distant mewling I heard or was my imagination getting the better of me? I turned to the furnace vent and began removing bricks, hacking until my breathing became ragged. I raced up the stairs to Lockhart’s study, collected supplies and then back to the laboratory – that hate filled place – I placed the explosives close to the furnace and ran the lead through the open window. Outside I found the fuse. I lit it and took cover.
We lost the back part of the house. But, I buried it. I buried it as deep as I could. I was terrified of what it might do. I was more terrified of what Lockhart would do to me should she find out what I had done.
She must never find out…
Diary extract ends…