#3 Penny Dreadful
The Life and Crimes of Lockhart and Doppler
An Illustrated journal of amusement, adventure and instruction
The German Affair part six
And so, dear reader, this is how I was obliged to leap from parapet, to balloon and off again. I did neglect to inform you that the uniforms on the parapet firing at me were Generalinspekeur Kutz’s Putzfrau, eight female combatants in the pay of Kutz. The hulky one that had attempted to arrest me in the tavern at the lead, before I leapt I had aimed the Llap-Goch Discombobulator Device at her – full power – and she had stopped in her tracks, dazed and confused. The tiny winking green light was flashing continuously. The balloon basket I had dropped into contained, of course, Herr Kutz…
“You are under arrest, Ms Lockhart.”
I leapt from the basket, firing the Device as I went, the tiny light was winking red. I landed with an ‘oof’ on an enormously large, reflective cigar. Pulling my knife from my boot, I began to hack a hole in the treated cotton, just enough to squeeze through. I dropped onto a structural crossbeam then clambered down past a swollen gas cell onto a gantry. Maintenance staff could be seen at various positions and moving about, if I could just find my way to the passenger decks unseen. I moved carefully from upright to engine station, on one occasion utilising Sergeant Snooze to get past one point that a fellow would not leave. Written signs were shown to be in German, French, Italian as well as English, a mixed crew then. I saw one indicating the stairwell to the decks when a voice called out in German to stop, I kept moving.
Nearing the stairwell a figure stepped out suddenly onto the walkway before me, arms folded across his chest, I spotted the spanner in his hand. The rear male was closing in. I scanned about. Nothing to climb here and the forward fellow was blocking the way to the sides too. Aware that I must look a state with my sailors bag slung crossways over my back, my duster being dusty and probably my face too, I raised my hands, palms facing out to shoulder height, then making a fist of my right bent and fired, the engineer immediately went into ready stance, frowning at the apparently useless item. I shook it, then as he stepped towards me I abandoned the idea and instead punched him hard in the face.
The projecting part of the Device jabbed his cheek, gave a whistling twitter and fizzed. The man staggered, slightly surprised, under the impact of fist and fizz, rubbing his eyes then with curiosity, his cheek, he looked at the blood on his fingers puzzled. The rear fellow paused,
“Vat have you done to him?” he pushed by me to attend to his comrade. I dashed past and headed down the stairwell,
“Oi! You there, stop!” he began to follow.
I spiralled down the stairs and dashed aimlessly along a corridor, frantically inspecting notices and signs as the engineer pounded behind yelling. Ahead in the corridor, a young uniformed officer turned into the corridor, head down reading a roster or some such thing, he looked up at the sound of yelling and running feet,
“Hey!” he called in fey tones, “What’s…”
“Stop ‘er!” yelled the engineer.
I turned down a side corridor, leapt over a chap knelt down in the passageway tying his shoelace and skidded around another corner, careering into a middle aged couple and had to untangle myself from her stole before making another sprint leaving them to attempt to stop the engineer to enquire what the Devil was going on. I began reading the ornate name plates on the passenger cabin doors and finally found one that contained a single female; Ms. A. Marbles. I knocked, glancing impatiently along the corridor awaiting the pursuer, as the door opened hesitantly, I barged in slamming the door shut behind me. Leaning against it panting, I looked into the small, puzzled, wrinkled face of an elderly lady.
“Are you here to change the bedding dear?” she enquired
“That’s right Grandma. And we’re checking the guests’ wardrobes too.”
I moved toward the sleeping area and began searching her outfits.
“Oh, I say, is this a new thing? I’ve never heard of this before.” She quavered “Do you need to check what I’m wearing too?” she opened her arms wide.
I turned to answer in the negative, when I noticed what she was wearing.
Half an hour later Ms Agatha Marbles stepped out, wearing a deep purple ensemble and sporting a hideous spoon bonnet, the advantage of it being that it hid ones’ face from the sides and had a veil. Some judiciously applied make-up and a silver topped cane assisted the overall effect of elegant elderly lady. I headed for the dining room. I had been on the move for some time and needed re-fuelling. The rest of the journey passed uneventfully. A couple who had boarded alongside the real Ms Marbles were pleasantly surprised by her sudden regaining of her mental faculties. Arriving in Paris, everyone disembarked, collected their luggage and took carriages, trains, automobiles and so forth to their final destinations. I found a fairly decent hotel and spent two days in my room ensuring my shoulder was better healed.
Later I sent a Telegram to Doppler informing her of my impending homecoming, another to the Royal Academy about the location of the Nibelungen gold hoard and a third to a contact in the underworld regarding an item I would be interested in selling.
On the day I was about to catch a private sailboat home, (I had met a charming mature Parisian gentleman about town, we dined, visited the theatre and I massaged his… ego, he was happy to assist), I had dressed practically, Pierre found a woman in pants and goggles exciting, the small crew was ready to shove off when a small, precise figure hurried towards us flanked by two gnarly women. I stood on the quayside, hands on hips. Pierre watched with curiosity.
“Frau Lockhart! You are under arrest!”
“Really Kutz? Don’t you ever give up?”
“Well that’s a shame, as you see, you have no jurisdiction here. This is not Saxe-Coburg in case you hadn’t noticed, in fact, you have no jurisdiction in Bavaria, Mecklenburg, Schleswig- Holstein, Prussia or any of the other twenty six constituent territories, and especially France.”
I watched his face turn from scarlet to puce to a sickly cheese white. Taking the hand proffered by Pierre, I stepped on board.
“Where is it?!” cried Kutz feebly.
I shrugged. Pierre doffed his hat and turned to attend to business.
“Where. Is. It?!!” screamed the little fellow with his plastered hair lifting in a breeze.
I pulled my goggles down against the wind and glare of the sun, smiled and tipped a jaunty salute, leaving my finger resting on the lenses and magnifiers, where a small addition glinted teasingly. Kutz’s jaw dropped.
“Auf wiedersehen Generalinspekeur!”