Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Lockhart & Doppler

The final episode. I wish to thank Kit Cox for consenting for me to use his own creation; Major Jack Union, I have not made any alterations to the Major as he is not mine to play with !

  Miss Penny Dreadful introduces
 “The Life and Crimes of Lockhart and Doppler”
Part Six The Stone of The Sons of Horus
The Major was, Major Jack Union. Renowned Monster Hunter; R.H.A, N.R.D, Defender of Her Majesty that is Victoria, upright British officer, bon vivante, charmer…                                                                                                     
“Is that why you have a cutting of him from the newspapers?” Doppler enquired significantly.                        
 “That’s research, it was for the article.” I stated feebly,                                                                           
“Needed to know what he was doing with all those body parts. I mean, what can one man possibly wants with all those Jub-Jubs, Jabberwocks and…anyway, you’re distracting me, I’m compiling a letter.”
The letter was sent from the Edinburgh Instagram Scan Service. One simply wrote the message on a sensitised plate, the lid closed like a large sandwich and, by a process far too technical and boring to set down here, a facsimile was sent to a receiving office, who would then tear off their portion and send someone running, bicycling, roller skating or hopping the final stretch to the recipient. Who could, should he or she choose, tootle along to their Instagram Scan Service and reply immediately – marvellous. Back at our lodgings I made preparations. Clothing; dark, practical (this meant pants –oh the freedom of bifurcated legs!), accommodating. Equipment; portable, concealable and appropriate. For this last, we would have to wait for a reply from the Major.
The reply came:
Dear Mses Lockhart and Doppler,

Ladies, (remember, we hadn’t met the chap!)
What a disturbing communication. Of course I will do my utmost to advise you in ridding our great Empire of this creature you described. It seems clear to me that what you are facing is a ‘Construct’. I refer you to the pages of my Practical Guide to Monster Hunting which I have taken the time to Instagram Scan for you. The device stolen from the museum possibly is a housing for Shem, the liquid of animation – whatever you do, please return the device to the museum, on no account utilise the Shem!               
  My other concern is regarding the pair who are performing this atrocity. Your description raises, as yet, unidentified unease, I highly recommend you proceed with extreme caution. I would say find a stout man to accompany you, but I fear this advice would fall on deaf ears, in which case, against my better judgement, take some cannon fodder.                                                                                                                                                                                                           
 Ladies, I bid you Good Luck and I look forwards to hearing the results of your undertaking, maybe over a cup of Earl Grey or even a refreshing gin and tonic.
Yours most faithfully
Jack Union. Major
I read the correspondence twice over, Doppler grabbed it from me, speedily scanned it, dropped it to the floor and rummaged about in her packing case, emerging with what appeared to be a mediaeval stiletto dagger. I hadn’t seen this implement before and a demonstration was provided. With a flick of the wrist such as I use with my whip, Doppler caused the blade to extend from its usual six to eighteen inches, tapering to the most wicked point I’d seen on any blade. In fact it was so fine as to be quite difficult to see at certain angles –lethal in the dark. Doppler smiled at me as she tucked it safely into her waistband at the small of her back. We didn’t take regular guns, we didn’t want the noise to attract unwanted attention, so we had my Tesla gun and pistol flamethrower from Meadows, Lady Celia Fox’s’ Butler (remind me to tell you about them sometime), a couple of daggers down the sides of our boots and we were ready.
We made our way across the city, back to the mean streets beyond the Old Town of a partially sleeping Edinburgh, for one thing I had learnt whilst here, was that this resplendent city always had one eye open.  On the corner of Leith Street stood a horrible little public house, outside of which stood and sat pairs and small groups of lads, men, boys and ex-mariners. Smoking pipes, drinking small ale, playing quoits and peeing against the neighbouring walls. We were noticed. Two ‘gents’ strolled and slunk over to where we loitered. They were probably the same age, and probably the same class. That’s where the visual similarities ended. One was like a greasy rat, dark, lank hair hung from beneath his Cambridge bowler, the rest of him smothered in a once black cloak. The other was wearing a battered top hat and a grey frock coat that had seen better days. His nose was wide like it had been broken a number of times. They had Irish accents. Both were shifty. Both contemptuous. Cruelty and malice given form.                                                                                                                                 
 And so we ‘hired’ them.                                                                                                                                             
They didn’t ask our names, I didn’t want to know theirs. We told them the job was an in and out. But the whole place had to be cleared. I gave them all the money I was carrying and promised fifty-fifty on goods retrieved. I could see they thought I was a complete amateur. They eyed Doppler up and down like easy meat, she smiled back sweetly.                                                                          
 And so we arrived at the familiar neighbouring yard. Broken nose barely glanced around before kneeling to the lock and applying a homemade pick. Of course, I could have accomplished all this more quickly and easily myself, but I was taking the Majors advice! Ratty was living up to his name, jigging from foot to foot, licking his lips, clenching and unclenching his hands. I could easily imagine what he thought was going to happen when we all got indoors. (Poor deluded fool).       
The door was finally unlocked, the two men advanced first, I followed closing the door behind me, gently. There was very little light in here, what there was crept through the weathered slats of wood and seeped slowly through grimed windows from outside. There was a dreadful smell, a smell I recognised, the smell of the grave.                                                                                                                  
I pulled down my night goggles. Nose and Ratty edged into the room. I could hear one of them rattling matches from his pocket. I looked about and saw the stairway – through the broken limbs, torsos and fragments of what had possibly been the neighbours.                                                                                                                            
“Roight ladies” leered Nose as his match flared.
At first not realising what was about him.
“I tink we might have a change of… what in the name of Jesus, Mary and Joseph!”
 As Nose and Ratty stared about in horror I became aware of an odd glow, turning around to face a semi clad individual, who opened his mouth as if to speak and emitted only a dry, grating. I stepped away as Nose (quite bravely, I thought) charged and punched the monster on the jaw. A sound of contact, Nose shaking his hand then a flick knife appeared as if by magic in his other hand and he went at the thing again. Maybe he didn’t know what he was fighting, I thought as I stood by watching the show. He was pummelled, he dropped to his knees and spat a tooth. Ratty, was attempting to light another match when a whistle from the next floor dragged my attention away. In a brief flash of match flare I watched as Ratty and Nose took turns stabbing the construct, slashing at the construct and being shaken by the construct.
On the next floor were three doors leading off, a weird light emitting from the open one. I raced forwards, the huge dead man Doppler had described was a walking, talking travesty. The room, lit by an odd glowing globe set on a side table, was sparsely decorated; three chairs, three side tables, a writing bureau. A Turkish rug added much needed colour to the otherwise Spartan surrounds.                                                                                                                                                            
“I’ll let the Marthter know you are here” it creaked “maybe you would care to wait downthtairth.” 
And began to head for the next flight of stairs heading upwards. Although I had thoroughly read Major Unions account of the constructs, to actually experience it was unbelievably chilling. The man was clearly dead, at least his body was. His skin was colourless. There were odd pustules, punctures and lacerations about his torso, but that was the least of his worries – for the man had a massive wound in his chest, the sternum having been ripped open by some means and, pulsing like a sickly buoy, the device from the Pilkington Museum of Chronological Curiosities was wedged  in –some distress signal! I needed to prevent the construct from alerting its ‘Marthter’.                                                                                                                                 
“Ahem. I was hoping…”
 I needn’t have bothered. A shrill cry from below and racing footsteps up towards us cut me off.                                                                                                                                      
 “Christ Almighty! What’s goin’ on here? Ye trollop, you led us into a trap!”
Nose yelled, panting, bloodied, one arm hung limply at his side. Then he noticed the second figure, taller, broader, and more alert as it turned towards him. It moved at frightening speed, knocking into Doppler as it passed, flinging her aside like a child’s doll, she stumbled into a chair. I pitched myself sideways to avoid the hulking form as it bore down on the felonious fellow. I saw him raise his good arm, knife ready, the construct grabbed it in one hand, then using his other on Nose’s shoulder to get leverage, ripped it from its socket. Nose screamed like I’d never heard before, high pitched, tortuous, and final. The limp form was tossed down the stairs. The construct turned on us as the two figures from the museum arrived at the base of the second flight of steps. Without their darkened glasses, we could now see their eyes –and they were definitely not of this world.
 This new and incomprehensible strangeness caught me off guard. A peculiar clicking sound passed between them. I pulled my Tesla gun and fired, hit the male who doubled over in evident pain, the female paused. But the construct didn’t, it reached for my outstretched arm as a metallic slick sound caused me to duck. Doppler whipped horizontally with her extending stiletto, striking the creature squarely across both eyes. It stumbled, raising its hands to its face. I was trapped between the construct and the two ‘aliens’, I pulled the flame thrower out and stood my ground between them, a gun pointing in either direction.  The construct began flailing blindly, hoping to catch something, it was like a horrid game of Blind Man’s Bluff. Doppler raced up behind it, waited for her moment, and plunged her dagger into the dead man’s lower back, hung on as he twisted in annoyance and then yanked the blade sideways. I heard metal on bone. It fell to its knees. The other two were backing off up the stairs, a curious and disquieting hissing coming from them like some kind of reptiles.
I fired at the retreating forms then turning to the construct, I placed the Tesla gun to the back of its head and fired and kept on firing. The dead man shook as the electricity poured through him, crackling over the surface of his skin like tiny lightning bolts. Flesh burned, hair sizzled and the few remaining vessels of blood burst like flowers blooming across his pale skin. Finally, he was still. I looked up at Doppler who was watching, fascinated as if at a lecture at the Edinburgh Medical School. A peculiar humming suddenly made its way through the haze of singed flesh, blood and fury.                                                                                                                                                                 
I shouted, and raced two at a time up the darkened steps, turning a corner to expect to come onto the third floor landing. I slammed into an invisible force and fell flat on my backside, Doppler almost falling over me. She leapt sideways over my shoulder and stopped. Before us was, I didn’t know what it was.  As wide as a house at the base, smooth as polished glass all over, a metal conical flask enclosed at the top, no seams, joins, welds. The odd humming was coming from this. The male, standing before it, had his hand stretched forward towards me, palm and fingers spread. As I scrambled up, he pressed forwards and I fell back. What was this magic?          
 A flash of steel and a knife appeared, sticking from his shoulder. He grabbed at the injury and turned his attention to Doppler, she fell onto her back and began writhing, struggling to get upright, then began a low growling which grew to a pained cry. I dived for the occupied entity, sticking my dagger into its neck. A sticky gloop slopped onto my hands, the knife slipped from my grasp. The sound was becoming more of a vibration now, I could feel my teeth oscillating against each other. I had my hands around the creatures’ neck, squeezing and squeezing, when it spat in my face.
Momentarily startled, I ceased, frozen in position. Then I felt the burning begin. I released my hold, and began wiping at my eyes. I was shoved severely, I staggered and fell, backwards. I could sense the empty stairwell beckoning behind me, when, the edge of my duster was grabbed. The force yanked me around and I fell sideways, slap onto the floor. Doppler was pushing my hands away and pouring water into my eyes. Snapping a tiny glass phial and pouring the contents into my mouth. The building about us began to tremble, creak and strain. Splintering wood, shards of glass and fittings blasted outwards as if by a hurricane. Doppler bent over my head. We curled together as we were shaken across the disintegrating floorboards. A sudden updraft…then silence and stillness.
I don’t know how long we huddled there amidst the remains of numbers 11, 13 and 15 Corby Street. But thank the Gods for Tesla, chemistry, water and the Major. Doppler’s quick action, pouring water into my eyes, washed the majority of whatever the vile sputum was, from my eyes. No lasting harm, although it did leave an effect that lasted about an hour; that was, whenever I looked at something then away, I had a strange kind of visual ‘echo’, a trail of images in vibrant colours, purples mainly. We retrieved the museums device from the chest of the burnt, double dead man, plus one from the first construct we encountered. There were spiral shavings of brilliant metal which we collected in an old canvas postal bag. And some other little ‘trinkets’.
 The Shem container was returned to the museum (after Doppler had managed to extract a small amount!) plus the shavings, which we saw no use for, and received a handsome reward and a personal letter from the Chairman of the Board of Chronological Studies. They would have the spirals identified and send us the results. We sent an intriguing item to Rene de Cavellier, after all, this ‘holiday’ had been because of him, we had caused the fellow immense trouble, and I wanted to keep him sweet. Only two by six inches, less than half an inch deep, it was an ancient Egyptian bas relief of Akhenaten, in profile, raising his hands to his single deity.  Except it wasn’t. The metal was not any we had seen before, it looked very much like the shiny vessel that had taken off in Corby Street- a fine addition to a private collection.
A complete and comprehensive report was forwarded to Major Jack Union. Information about the two ‘foreigners’, I believed, may be of use in his further endeavors. I included illustrations of the monstrosities, living and dead, made by yours truly. Sample phials of the Shem and phlegm were enclosed, with a copy of the Edinburgh Evening Standard, whose front page report on the ‘amazingly brave actions of two English ladies, which saved the City of Edinburgh from foreign invasion’ (in this case, they were blaming the French) and for ‘the intelligence provided by one Major Jack Union, Defender of The Empire’.
Of course, we kept some finds for ourselves, goes without saying. As we were packing to return home, something caught my eye on the cover of the Evening Standard. A small article at the bottom of the right hand column;
Bodies Are Missing Criminals
Two bodies found in a collapsed building on Corby Street, have been formally identified as missing grave robbers Mr. William Burke and Mr. William Hare. Our reporter can confirm that both men were brutally mutilated. Burke and Hare had been suspected of not only grave robbing, but of murder and selling parts to medical professional, Doctor Robert Knox, who is himself now a suspect in the murder of the two men. Burke had; “one arm ripped from the roots, there was blood everywhere,” said Police pathologist Mr. Holden Megroin.  “Hare had the most severe injuries of multiple fractures, a broken spine and crushed skull”.                                                                     
 Police are not asking for witnesses.
The End



























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