Let the Good Times Roll! Vampire’s Touch Part 2
June 23, 2011 § Leave a comment
It’s done! It’s over! Assuming I didn’t fail, then I just finished my Master’s! In history!
The best part is that I actually feel it. Handing it in actually brewed a little excitement in my stomach. When I graduated, it didn’t really feel like anything, but when I walked through that door and passed over that paper…sigh. I think I made a mess.
But, because I feel I’ve been neglecting this thing already (What? Starting a major time commitment right in the middle of the largest project in my life is a bad idea? Nonsense!), as a sigh of my good faith, I’m giving you more content! Yay! Hooray! I hope you liked yesterday’s, because you’re about to get a heaping, steaming pile of more!
I’m also doing this because I have no idea how to parse it out. This story was my sick, or tired, or in space cop-out, but that won’t work for serial fiction. So I guess I’ll post double time this week, and, I don’t know, maybe write more? Ridiculous. Not when there’s internet to waste time on.
And monkeys to feed watermelon to. More story!!!!
Bond couldn’t resist himself, and thrust up two fingers at the Captain’s departing back. Three footmen led the coach away, while the rest went into the house to leave Bond alone with the peacocks and the carpet. He went to follow the Prince when he heard a soft cough behind him.
The blood ran cold in his veins as he turned. There, standing at the end of the gravel road like two hungry beggars with murder in their smiles, were the esteemed (the most lovely, and assuredly unattached) Mina Harker, née Murray, and the lowly, vile, vicious and vermian Dr. Henry Jekyll. They whispered together while he laughed at something known only to the two of them. With a flourish, he offered her his arm as they walked down the carpet.
She was resplendent in a perfectly fitted, black, high collared gown that swept down to her ankles, occasionally showing a hint of blue beneath. A simple necklace of golden chain hung about her neck, and she carried fine deerskin gloves with her pale, pale hands. A broad black touring hat sat atop her head, but her unbound, and shockingly red, hair blew about in the breeze like a mane of flame behind her.
Dr. Jekyll was singularly undignified in a rumpled grey frock coat, a hastily and poorly tied bow-tie, while a sweat-stained brown derby sat atop his greasy hair and a chipped tippling stick filled his hand. It was common knowledge that the stick was filled with both a sample of his “marvellous” potion, and more often than not, cheap gin. He smiled through a mouth of broken teeth, but Miranda seemed quite taken with him, talking and laughing animatedly. A spurt of jealousy, bitterly hot and filled with bile, sprayed up inside Bond. He could barely contain a sneer at the good doctor.
They came up to Bond, where Mina gave a shallow curtsy and Jekyll offered his hand. Bond shook it, trying his best to smile.
“Good day, Campion. Good day indeed. It was capital of you to invite us into your home. It has been a very long time since I’ve been out of the laboratory, what with Fu Manchu’s latest disappearance and all that.”
“Good God Doctor, I can’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t want to invite you out. Were the invitations from the zoo not forthcoming enough?”
Jekyll smirked, but a sadness filled his eyes. “Sadly, Mr. Bond, we are not all as gifted or as lucky as yourself. But in any case, the invitation is appreciated. Has anyone other than…his Eminence arrived? I do dread another retelling of how his great-great-uncle fought off the Emir of Turkey with nothing but a diabetic elephant and a bowl of hashish. I admit, the part about the blind assassins is amusing, but a man tires of the same stories from wasted greatness.”
Mina laughed, her voice like a thousand silver bells being played by deaf and drunken men. “Come now Henry, would you prefer Griffin’s or Quatermain’s stories? They tend to go something along the lines of: “I saw the animal from a mile away, using my spectral talisman I won from a shaman in a game of plinkets. Capital fellow, wore nothing but ostrich feathers. I pulled out Matilda and bang!” She mimed firing a gun, even as she had slipped into a perfect imitation of Allain. At once, she changed her voice and spoke with the gruff voice of Hawley Griffin, colloquially known as the Invisible Man, although in Bond’s opinion, whether he earned the moniker “Man” was debatable. “Or would you prefer Hawley? ‘I saw a pretty girl, so I followed her home and watched her change out of her bloomers because I’m invisible!”
Bond laughed, while Henry politely tittered. Henry rarely went out of his way to earn the enmity of the others, mostly because in his case, it was freely given. They turned to go in the house when Mina put a hand on Bond’s arm. “Campion, a word, if you would. Go along Henry, we’ll be in in a moment.”
Henry politely excused himself, while Bond’s heart leapt into his throat and began pulsing thickly. He nodded at Henry and turned to look into Mina’s coal-black eyes. He had always been slightly terrified and enormously attracted to Mina. However, the terror was always disproportionate to the attraction. He smiled nervously at her predator eyes. It was so easy to forget that she drank blood for a living.
“You ought not to go so hard on Henry. He’s had a difficult life, and for the most part, he has overcome everything in his way.”
“Overcome? The man still turns into a raving beast at the drop of a hat! How can I treat him with respect? He made himself a monster!” Bond scoffed.
“Indeed? A monster? And do we hate all monsters?” Mina’s eyebrow arched into dangerous territory.
Flustered, Bond tried to regain some of his composure. “Well, what I meant to say was that the man had no choi…(neither did Mina) ergh, that he cannot always control him…(neither can Mina) argh, rather that I meant…”
Mina interrupted him by putting a finger to his lips. “I believe you mean to say “I am sorry, you are correct, I will go and apologize to Henry?” For from what I have seen of the world, all that you’ve said about monsters and raving beasts applies equally to men of “class” as it does to your “monsters,” Campion. Especially men who think that dead deer are suitable decorations for a party.”
Bond’s eyes shamefully followed the trail of disturbed gravel, blood droplets, and scraped fur to see the massive behind of the deer sticking proudly around the corner of his house. He could only pray the leaves in the tree hid the dangling foxes from her sight. He sighed, and nodded to Mina, only just realizing how close her face had gotten. A strange look came over her face, one that filled Bond’s personal areas with urgency just as it filled his animal areas with dread.
She sniffed very clearly at the air around Bond, sticking her nose out in a very unladylike fashion. Bond fought the urge to take a step back, and fought an equally strong urge to kiss her.
“I say Bond…what…cologne are you wearing?”
“Uh, cologne? I touched up with a few drops of lemon after my bath, but I’m not wearing…”
“It’s marvellous. I, I…it is simply breathtaking.”
She had begun breathing heavily, and Bond took a step back. Campion Bond was not the most experienced of men, but he could see danger when it was so close to him. Especially when it had fangs an inch long which were almost brushing his neck. It seemed to do the trick, as Mina blinked and looked around with confusion on her face.
“Are you alright Mina?”
“Of…of course Campion. I was only a little distracted. Come along, the others will wonder where we’ve gone to.”
“Go on without me, I’ve a behind to deal with.”
She went inside, and Campion strolled over to the side of the house. His heart was pounding and his palms clammy, but a strange excitement filled him. Mina had never gotten so close before! Even to berate him! Progress was progress, and he began to whistle as he dragged the animal behind the house. Without the fear of being caught, it went much smoother, and he was very nearly content as he finished.
He fixed his jacket, settled his hair, and, checking his face in a bucket of water, was satisfied that he was again prepared for meetings of class. The front of the house was empty but for a few clucking peacocks and the carpet spattered with droppings. He opened the door, and turned to shut it. It caught slightly, and he gave it a hard pull. Something yelped, and Bond started from the door.
A familiar, if unwelcome, voice began accusing Bond.
“Oi, fancy that, you bleeding rotter! Chap tries to go through the door and the big ponce acts like he can’t see em? Well excuse me a poor, working fellow can’t deck himself in finery and the jewels of the fecking Orient, don’t mean he’s below your sight!”
“Griffin? Is that you?”
“Is that me? Can’t you fecking see?”
Bond stared blankly at the open doorway and driveway. There was no-one there. One of the peacocks looked up at Bond and splayed his tail feathers. He was no help.
“No, Hawley, I can’t. You are invisible, remember?”
The open door began to wail. “Oi, what’s that all about? Got to remind a chap of his fecking infirmity all the bleeding time? It’s never, “Mr. Griffin,” or “Lord Hawley,” it’s always the fecking “Invisible” Man. Do I call Mina the “Vampire Woman?” Do I call Allain the “White Devil?” Nah! I’ve got the fecking decency to call em by their name!”
Bond was perplexed. “Hawley…I just did…”
The Invisible Man was having none of it. Bond let him rant over the injustices of his life over how difficult it was to be afflicted with invisibility. Griffin bored Bond to no end. He was the definition of a ruffian, without respect for anyone but himself. His attitude of constant persecution won him no friends, but in all fairness, neither did his smell, his lechery, or his larcenous attitudes. Regardless, he was a Gentleman in (good?) Standing, and Bond had invited him.
A sudden thought occurred to Bond. “Hawley, are you…” his voice fell to a conspiratorial whisper, “Naked?”
The voice went silent.
Bond stood awkwardly, making sure his hands were firmly attached to his sides.
“You…wouldn’t happen to have a pair of decent clothes for a chap, would you?”
Bond sighed deeply. “I will send Charles upstairs to pick some clothing for you. Wait in the salle de bain, and he will be along presently. Now go, before anyone sees you.”
Hawley muttered a quick “Thanks,” and a set of dusty footprints walked upstairs.
Campion waved Charles over, and explained the situation as quickly as he could, and with all due graces.
“The bleeding idiot didn’t wear any clothes. I sent him up to the bath. Can you find him some clothes and make sure he’s…as presentable as Hawley Griffin can be?”
Charles sniffed. “Of course sir, although lacking a teacher of manners, several tailors, a battalion of priests, and several bottles of gin, I am afraid I am doomed to failure.”
Campion waved him off, and satisfied that everyone had arrived without (much) incident, he entered his salon, a cheery smile on his face.
Quatermain was sitting on an ottoman by the fire, a disassembled gun spread across the carpet. Allain was still wearing his boots, and was entertaining Hannah with stories of Africa. His booming voice entertained the others, whether they wished to be or not. Dr. Hyde sat with a glass of champagne in front of him, barely touched, while Mina was boisterously laughing as she quaffed a highball of Dark and Stormy and listened to Mycroft Holmes, who contented himself with tea. Nemo sat beside Mycroft, servants standing quietly nearby, talking loudly whenever he got the chance.
Bond nodded cheerily to everyone, and sat in his chaise besides Hyde. He leaned in to speak with Hyde when he suddenly shot out of his seat.
“Mycroft! You’re here? But you said that you couldn’t attend! I received your RSVP two weeks ago!””
Mycroft looked up at Bond, his bland, jowled face betraying none of the surprise Bond was sure he showed. He brushed his plain grey suit and leaned back in his chair. “Ah, Mr. Bond. I deduced that the enemies of the Crown would be shamelessly eager to do Brittania harm should they learn that the entire League was in the same place at the same time. Therefore, I set out both to mislead them and astound them, and the deception was necessary both to protect yourself and the interests of the Crown. First, I made sure I was seen entering the office this morning in London, exactly 76.64 miles away from your estate here. Second, I left the office precisely at 10:34 AM, after changing my clothes and establishing a dummy in my stead. Estimating that the dummy would fool a common thug for, on average, twenty-three minutes, I hurried into the Underground. I boarded the 10:43 to Hammersmith, where I got off the train, changed my clothing again, and boarded a motorcar. After following the M25 to Maidstone, to fool any trackers, I arrived at a secret airship landing pad at precisely 2:21 PM, well ahead of schedule. Risking nothing, I hid the motorcar in a forest, underneath a peculiar specimen of Pinaceae and traversed on foot to the pad. Meeting with the crew, tongueless Eunuchs liberated from China, they took me aloft in a micro-zeppelin. I then abseiled from the gondola to your backyard three minutes and twelve seconds ago. Finding it quiet, I entered through a small window that you had cleverly sealed and locked. Slipping through your house, I dressed as a servant to avoid detection, and inserted myself into this room 52 seconds before you met Mr. Griffin at the door, requested a tea from your staff, and settled myself to await your arrival.”
Bond’s head spun, but none of the other Gentlemen seemed plussed. In fact, they were entirely nonplussed, treating the Head of the League’s paranoia and ridiculous security measures as completely normal. Bond nodded weakly and took his seat by Hyde again. He waved down a maid and asked for enough rum to float a boat, with two ice cubes.
Hyde leaned in and whispered to Bond. “Mycroft is still wearing an apron.”