23 September 2010
Our Mutual Fiend: The Finale
Illustration by the supremely talented Mr. Stuart Linfield.
For the previous chapter, please click HITHER.
T he zombified Miss Havisham dragged herself uneasily to her feet, and slowly advanced upon me. There was something about her that led me to believe that she dearly wanted to open up my cranium and feast hungrily ‘pon the brain-matter within – perhaps it was the fact she was moaning ‘BRAAAAAIIIINS!’ and flailing wildly at my head that made me think so.
“What is going on?” I cried, as I fended off the horrifying haridan with my walking-cane. “Why am I under attack from a fictional creation?”
“It’s some kinda infection, or something,” Hellsinger replied as he draw out and checked a gun from the recesses of his coat. “Musta started with Dickens – when he bit someone, that person mutated into one of his characters, and when they bit someone else, so it went on, and on. I guess there must be some dark magic behind all this. Mind your head, Likely!”
I promptly moved to the side, and watched as Hellsinger took aim and fired a bullet straight through Havisham’s head. The creature groaned and slumped to the ground, dead. Or at least, more dead.
“You killed my strumpet, you swine!” I remarked.
“She was dead the moment she was bitten, I’m afraid,” Hellsinger mused sadly. “There was nothing left of her after that.”
“There’s even less of her left now,” I observed.
“Um, milord,” Botter interrupted. ” It looks like we’ve got company.”
I looked behind me to see a large group of the undead stumbling out of the door to the publishers, slowly making their way to us.
“I see,” I said straightening my tie, and grasping my cane with both hands. “In that case…BRING IT FORTHWITH.”
Hellsinger beamed, and drew out a large axe from a holster on his back. “This is gonna be FUUUUUN,” he cackled.
With that, we ran up to the gaggle of ghouls, and set about dispatching them as quickly as we could. Hellsinger roared with joy as he chopped his way through the crowd, heads and limbs flying each and every way, while Botter deployed the tried and trusted method of shooting the zombies through their fiendish heads.
I, meanwhile, took to driving my cane with great force through the skull of a zombified Martin Chuzzlewit, before spinning around and deftly smashing in the face of a rather surprised, beastly Fagin. As I paused to wipe the blood from my cane with a handkerchief, a disgusting undead Tiny Tim hobbled up to me, using some poor chaps’ severed leg as a crutch.
“GOOODDDD BLESSS USSSS, EV’RRRRY ONNNNNE!” he groaned.
I calmly folded up my handkerchief and replaced it in my pocket, before taking my cane and, using it much like a golf club, I twatted the wretch, sending him spinning through the air, until he came to a rest impaled on the railings surrounding the courtyard.
“I’m an atheist, you insolent little bastard.” I quipped.
“That’s the last of ‘em,” said Hellsinger, walking up beside me, clutching what appeared to be the severed head of Nicholas Nickleby. I turned to survey the blood-soaked carnage behind me, Botter doing his best to pick his way towards us without slipping up on any entrails or guts.
“Very good, gentlemen,” I nodded. “I think it’s best we had a word with this publisher fellow, hmm? If he is indeed behind all of this, then I shall leave him in a similar condition to one of his cherished paperbacks….WITH A BROKEN SPINE.”
WE burst into the dimly-lit office of the publisher, weapons primed (Hellsinger having now opted for a lightweight crossbow instead of his heavy axe), only to find that our arrival had already been anticipated.
“Ah, Lord Likely,” cooed a figure at the other end of the room, gazing out of a window. “I’ve been expecting you.”
“Well, that shall certainly save us wasting time on introductions then,” I replied.
“Oh? But don’t you want to know who I am?” the figure asked.
“Not really. I don’t plan on getting very well acquainted with you, to be honest.”
“Ha. Such arrogance,” the man answered, turning to face us. He was a tall, lean fellow, with a thin, angular face, and an eye patch covering his right eye. His black hair was slicked back over his head, and the black motif was carried on by his clothing, clad as he was entirely in black, with a black frock coat and trousers. And, as if he already did not look preposterous enough, he had a crow perched on his left shoulder. “I am Arial Black,” the man grinned, nodding slightly.
“Hmmm,” I mumbled, disinterestedly. “I thought your name might be something ridiculous like that, judging by your appearance. I mean, I do understand you’re trying your best to look villainous..but the crow? That is rather overdoing it, I fear.”
“Crow? What crow?” said Black.
“The one on your shoulder, sir.”
“What? Agh!” cried Black, shooing the bird away. “Bah. They’re always flying in and doing that, damn things. I really should demand that the cleaning staff close the windows in the evening.”
“So, I assume you’re here to try and stop me and save the day, etcetera, etcetera.” Black smiled, walking around a large desk (black, naturally) and picking up a piece of paper off of it. “But I’m afraid there really is nothing you can do, it is all perfectly legal, you know.”
“Perfectly…LEGAL?” I spluttered.
“Oh yes…I believe you know my client, Mr. Chalres Dickens…” Black smiled, clicking his fingers. At the click, the undead Dickens appeared from behind a curtain, shuffling into the centre of the room.
“What the?…DICKENS?” I exclaimed.
“In the rotting flesh, your lordship. You see, back at the end of 1869, Mr. Dickens here signed a contract with us, to provide us with twelve instalment of his latest work, ‘The Mystery of Edwin Drood‘. Here is the contract, see?” Black held up the piece of paper, revealing it indeed to be a contract, signed by the author himself.
“Of course, Mr. Dickens failed to deliver on said agreement,” Black sniffed, “which is really bad form, you know.”
“He died!” Hellsinger interjected. “It wasn’t somethin’ he did on purpose!”
“Whatever the circumstances, Mr. Dickens did not uphold his end of the bargain, therein lies the point. I was left without the work I had been promised.”
“You poor bastard,” I said.
“However, I do not give up that easily,” Black continued. “When I sign an author, I expect them to deliver, your lordship – no matter what! And so I turned to the ancient practice of voodoo to help me out.”
“You do voodoo?”
“I do do voodoo, too true.”
“Anyhoo, I met up with a fellow who knew something about black magic and such like, and he informed me that it was quite possible to resurrect someone from the dead, and have them live again! Oh, imagine my delight, your lordship! I could bring Dickens back, and have him complete Edwin Drood at last! What a coup!”
“That’s one word for it,” I mused.
“Book sales always go through the roof after an author dies, you know. Have you ever noticed that? It’s a curious phenomenon. People like their celebrities, but much prefer them dead, it seems. Here I was then, primed to capitalise on this, with England’s greatest novelist of all time, and his great, unfinished masterpiece, no less! How could I not try it?”
“Is this rambling anecdote coming to an end anytime soon, Black?” I huffed. “Else I fear we shall all die of boredom.”
Black glared at me haughtily, but carried on. “And so I set about bringing Dickens back from the grave, using this very contract, a lock of his hair, and an ancient spell. Needless to say, it worked PERFECTLY…well, aside form one unfortunate incident where my associate got a bit mauled…”
“You are sick and twisted, Mr. Black,” I noted, quite correctly. “What about all the poor people who have died in the meantime, just to further line your pockets?”
“In the war for more readers, there shall always be some tragic losses, I’m afraid,” Black ginned, placing the contract back on his desk.
“Right, I’ve heard enough from this freak,” Hellsinger snapped, drawing up his crossbow.
“Oh, I wouldn’t do that,” Black smiled, clicking his fingers. At the sound, Dickens snapped into action, lunging forward and grabbing Botter from my side. “One wrong move, and I shall have Mr. Dickens here make your friend here rather dead. He does anything I tell him, does Mr. Dickens. And he won’t harm a hair on my head, either. I’ve added a few clauses to his contract, just so nothing can stop me.”
Hellsinger looked at me. I looked at Botter, who was pleading me to save him, then I looked back to Hellsinger.
“Lower the bow, Hellsinger,” I said. “I don’t fancy having to get a new man-servant just yet.”
“Good, good,” chuckled Black. “You are finally seeing sense, your lordship.”
“Mmmm ,” I pondered. “I really think I am. I must say, I am awfully impressed by the whole scheme. Now you’ve talked me through it, I truly appreciate what a marvellous money-making scheme you have here. Top notch work, sir. Top notch!”
“I try my best,” Black bowed.
“You have excelled!” I cried, clapping my hands together. “I think this calls for a celebration. Won’t you join me for a cigar, Mr. Black?”
“Do you know, I don’t mind if I do, your lordship!”
“Excellent!” I beamed, producing a couple of fine cigars from my coat pocket, and offering one to Black. “You are to be commended for your sterling work, I feel!”
“I am so glad you see it that way,” Black said, lighting his cigar.
“I see it all,” I grinned, lighting my own cigar. Then, as quick as a flash, I dashed over to the desk, scooped up the contract, and put the lit cigar to it, and watched with satisfaction as the paper caught alight.
“What are you…Nooooooooo!” screamed Black, fear filling his eyes (and possibly his trousers too, I shouldn’t wonder). “Mr. Dickens, stop him!”
But Dickens did not respond, and released his grip on Botter as the contract went up in flames.
“Mr. Dickens,” I shouted. “You are hereby officially freed from your contract!”
“Muuuuuuuuuuuh!” Dickens groaned.
“You may now dispense with Mr. Black services as you see fit.”
With that, Dickens ambled over to the publisher, arms outstretched.
“Keep away from me, Mr. Dickens! You…you keep back now!” Black stammered, as he edged back from the undead author. “Ah, bugger it!”
Black made to flee, but Hellsinger was prepared, and taking up his crossbow he fired an arrow straight through the sleeve of Black’s coat, pinning him to the wall.
“Gotcha!” Hellsinger beamed.
“Keep back, you devil! Keep back, don’t come any nearer…” Black exclaimed, kicking pathetically in the vague direction of the oncoming Dickens. “Back, you bastard! Back! BACK! BAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRGGGGGHHHH!”
There was a sickening squelching and crunching as Dickens fell upon Black, and feasted upon his former publisher. Black screamed and flailed uselessly, and then was silent, leaving Dickens to gnaw away happily at his brains.
“Good work, Likely,” Hellsinger beamed, slapping me rather too heartily on the back. “For a moment there I thought you really DID think Black was some sort of genius.”
“Well, to be honest, it wasn’t all that bad a plan. But Dickens? Eugh. Could never stand his work. All that whining about the working classes. Complete, stultifying drivel.”
The reanimated Dickens stood up, his mouth covered with Black’s blood. I could not say for sure, but it seemed like Mr. Dickens performed a small, grateful bow, before the last of the contract turned to ash, and he collapsed to the floor, at peace once more.
He might have bought me a drink though, the bastard. Typical author.
~ The End ~
- Lord Likely.
AS to-day is my birthday (be sure to celebrate wildly!), this cracking conclusion is only the first of a special, DOUBLE update to my esteemed journals! Be sure to return to enjoy the first part of my ALL-NEW audio adventure, ‘The Filching Fog of Finsbury Park’.…
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