22 September 2010
Our Mutual Fiend: Part Four
For the previous chapter, please click HITHER.
AND SO, there he was – Mr. Evan Hellsinger, that smug-faced, toss-brained, so-called ‘vampire slayer’, wafting back into my life like a bad smell, and about just as welcome.
“I would say it is good to see you again, Hellsinger,” I remarked. “But that would be a terrible lie.”
Hellsinger grinned as he lit a cigar. “Shucks, you’re still as hospitable as ever, aincha Likely? An’ after I’ve jus’ saved your life, too.”
“I fear being reacquainted with you is a fate worse than death.”
“Well, if I didn’t know any better, I’d have said you was already dead. Or are you always this pale an’ cold?”
I bristled. “What brings you here, anyway? Has America decided it doesn’t want you back?”
“Heh. No, Likely. If ya must know, I’ve been branchin’ out since we last met. I don’t jus’ go after them blood-suckers no more – I’m a bona-fide all-purpose Monster Hunter now!”
“A Monster Hunter?” I snorted derisively. “And just when I thought you could not get any more ridiculous…”
“So, anyway,” Hellsinger continued, ignoring my excellent jibe, “I was jus’ passin’ through when I heard talk about ol’ Charlie Dickens walkin’ the streets again – sounded like somethin’ I should look into, y’know?”
“Well, you’ve looked…now kindly bugger off!”
Hellsinger opened his mouth as if to make some futile retort, but before he could waste his breath a scream echoed out from behind us. I quickly spun around, to see Bella pointing down the darkened street.
“”Ere comes another one of them beasts, Mr Likely!” she gasped, indicating towards another shuffling figure slowly making its way down the road. What fresh evil was this, I wondered. We watched as the creature staggered nearer and nearer, a putrid stench getting stronger and stronger with each shambolic step. I readied my cane, while Hellsinger cocked his rifle, and we braced ourselves for the worst.
But, as the figure ambled into the gas-light, I could see it was worse than I feared.
It was my man-servant, Botter.
“Oh, it’s jus’ your little servant guy,” Hellsinger observed, lowering his weapon.
“Oh yes,” I said, moving toward my man-servant. “So it is.” And with that, I clubbed him around the head with my cane, causing him to cry out.
“Owch! What the bleedin’ heck was that for…uh…milord?” Botter cried.
“I was just making sure,” I replied. “Plus I despise you, of course.”
“Very good, milord,” Botter sighed.
“So what brings you here, Botter? I left you in that public house for a very good reason, you know. I did not want to be seen out and about with you.”
“Well, I was sittin’ there all on my own, and thought I’d scan the news-papers to see if there was anythin’ curious like that might help us in our investigations.”
“Yes,” I said, completely disinterestedly.
“Well, I was lookin’ through this paper here, and look….look what I found,” Botter beamed proudly, thrusting the news-paper into my hands.
“‘Gentle-Man’s Hat Sold Into Slavery,’” I read aloud from the journal. “I hardly think this is relevant, Botter.”
“No, underneath that, milord. The advertisement.”
“‘Coming Soon – The Complete ‘Mystery of Edwin Drood’, by Mr. Charles Dickens.” I read. ”All Twelve Parts in One Handsome Leather-Bound Volume.‘” I lowered the news-paper. “And?”
“‘The Mystery of Edwin Drood’ was never finished, milord.” Botter explained. “Mr. Dickens died before he could complete it, about half-way through. Doncha think it’s kind of odd that they’re offering the complete story – by the author himself – around the time that all these sightings of Mr. Dickens have been reported?”
“I find it odder still that you seem so knowledgeable about literature, Botter. Don’t you working-class types eat books, or something?”
“I think Botter may be onto something, Likely,” droned Hellsinger. “I’ve learnt of numerous sightings of ol’ Charlie around the Bloomsbury area, near some of the publishing houses.”
As much as I hated to agree with either the American arse-pipe or my miserable man-servant, the evidence presented before me was rather too compelling to ignore.
“Alright, gentlemen,” I concurred. “Let us pay this publisher a visit – I rather suspect he is not doing everything by the book…”
WE flagged down a nearby hansom cab and hurried along to the publishing-house in question.
“Right, here we are, then,” I said as we pulled up outside a tall, dark and imposing building. “Gentlemen, I suggest you arm yourselves. Bella, I shall pay the cab-driver to take you on home now.”
“Oooh, I don’t want to be alone tonight,” Bella whined. “Not after all the fings I’ve seen!”
“But earlier you said – ”
“Please, Mister Likely! I can’t bear the thought of being on me own! What if one of them fings gets me?”
“Fine,” I acceded. “Heavens, the female mind really is as changeable as the weather. And both are more than capable of ruining a picnic.”
WE descended from the cab and made our way up to some rather formidable-looking steel gates. Botter quickly made short work of the lock thereon, and we slipped through them and into a large courtyard.
“Alright,” I whispered, “Everybody stay together and try not to get – ”
“LUMME!” exclaimed Bella. “I’m bein’ bloody eaten!”
I swung round to see the poor girl under attack from what appeared to be some sort of zombified Ebenezer Scrooge. Without a moment’s pause, I ran across and pulled the apparition off of Bella, hurling it to the floor. The creature groaned and hissed, as it struggled back to its feet.
“BAAAAAAH….HUUUUMBUUUUUUUUG….” Scrooge moaned.
“I am fresh out of humbugs, I am afraid,” I replied. “But feel free to SUCK ‘PON THIS!” I roared, whipping out my pistol and shooting the demon straight through the forehead.
‘Suck ‘pon this’, I mused. I really am most frightfully witty.
As the creature collapsed to the floor, I rushed to Bella, who was nursing a rather nasty wound on her neck.
“Are you alright, m’dear?” I asked sympathetically.
“‘Course I’m not bloody alright! Some bleedin’ monstah’s just taken a chunk out of me effin’ neck!” she retorted. It was a fair point.
“Likely,” said Hellfinger softly. “You should probably step away from her now.”
“What are you jabbering on about, you cock-trumpet?”
“She’s infected.” Hellsinger intoned seriously.
“I thought as much,” I sighed. “These whores usually are. Herpes, is it?”
“No…it’s worse than that, Likely….”
Hellsinger was cut off, however, as Bella started coughing profusely, blood spraying from her mouth. I stepped back in horror – and so as to not to get blood on my expensive suit, of course.
“What the? – ” I began, and then Bella fell silent, her head flopping forward as if she were made of rag. She was dead. I felt rage consume me, but kept my stiff-upper lip intact, and merely took off my hat and bowed my head out of respect for the deceased.
“YYYYOOOOOU SHALLL NEVVEEEEERRRRR LEEEEEAVEEEE!” rasped a voice. Looking up, I saw that where beautiful, voluptuous Bella had once sat, there was now some mean-faced, wizened old crone with milky-white eyes glaring at me.
“Who the arse is that??” I yelled.
“It’s Miss Havisham, from Great Expectations!” Botter exclaimed. “And she’s hungry for brains!”
- Lord Likely.
IF YOU enjoyed this chapter (and who COULD NOT do so?) please consider donating via the button below. All your contributions toward the running of this webbed-site, and the feeding of my scribe, Mr. A. D. Fanton, are gratefully received and allow us to keep astonishing you week after week! MANY THANKS!