Blergh. And Vampire Part 5

July 13, 2011 § Leave a comment

Blergh says it all.

Between getting back to work, 2 back-to-back inventories, no sleep, and a truckload of other stuff, I’m kind of burnt out and bummed out. BUT I’ve been neglecting my super secret ominous Friday project: getting a submission in to Machine of Death 2: The Re-Deathening (It’s not actually called that, but I want it to be).

I have something so far, a noir Detective story featuring the Machine in 1910’s Berlin, but I’m not a huge fan of it so far. I really like the characters, but writing short fiction can feel like tearing nails off of your fingers. The story just isn’t working, and I’m not sure I’ll have time to fix it before I need to send it off. I don’t mind getting rejected, but I don’t want to send off something crappy (and needless to say, I want to send something off).

So I obviously need to drown my guilt in Shogun 2: Total War. Obviously.

Anyway, more story for you. I’m talking to Nova tonight, and hopefully by Friday I will have both good news and more stories for you.

Jekyll took a drag of his cigar, before coughing and laying it on the ash tray. Bond sat staring at the fire, lost in his thoughts while the conversation flew by without him.

“If I may, a word of advice Bond?”

Bond looked into Jekyll’s sallow face, made all the more wasted by the fire. He looked a thousand years older, his features melting into a morass of wrinkles, scars, and pain. Jekyll did not look aged so much as ravaged, even though he was but seven years older than smooth-faced Bond.

“What, did you think that Allain’s advice wasn’t sufficient?”

Jekyll laughed, a horrible sound for it’s mocking sadness. “Bond, I am not yet old, but I have spent most of my life seeking to make up for one gross mistake. In a flash, a life of wealth, comfort, family, peace: these things were denied me because of my hubris. When you have spent much of your time pining for what you cannot have, you learn to recognize that in others. You do not look like a man who has just been given the Keys to Heaven; you look like a man who has had the rug pulled from under him.”

“I think that I wish I had Hawley’s power now, so that people would stop knowing how I think before I do.” Bond grumbled.

Jekyll laughed again. “And I wish I had Nemo’s wealth, Mycroft’s intelligence, your looks, and Quatermain’s…well, I would not say conscience, but I’d take his confidence. And yet I would give all those up and more to live once again as a simple doctor.” He took a sip of gin before continuing.

“I’ll ask this plainly, Bond. Are you an evil man?”

Bond coughed as his rum choked him. In surprise he turned on Jekyll, who sat with a half-smile on his face. Bond wiped his lips on his arm and smiled at the others who looked at him with concern. He turned to Jekyll and dropped all pretences at good humour.

“What in blazes does that mean, am I evil? Of course I’m not! What sort of question is that to ask a fellow?”

Jekyll’s snaggletoothed smile was beginning to annoy Bond.

“Then why are you contemplating coupling with Miss Murray tonight?”

“Hah, I’m not thinking of that at all!”

“Then why are you still wearing the suit?”

Bond found himself without an answer. He opened his mouth to speak, but nothing true would come out. Jekyll continued right along.

“You do know she thinks highly of you, if such a thing from her is possible. Mostly, she does not always speak lowly of you, understand? I will not say that such things as love and romance have much of a place in her heart anymore, but nonetheless, a certain, care still fires her soul. She has not lost herself to the disease inside her.

“And you, even though you could put the late Lord Byron to shame with some of your excesses, you have never crossed the line, so to speak. I know much of monsters, being one myself, and can tell you that although the gorilla may be fierce, he is dumb. He is no more a monster than a lightning bolt, while a man who beats his wife, though a respectable gentleman to society, is worse than any savage could be. If you do this knowingly, you are as bad a beast as myself and Hawley.”

Bond stammered for something to say, but could dredge up nothing. Mycroft swooped from the blackness to take Allain’s former seat, speaking in a conspiratorial whisper.

“Of course, there is a simple test that would enable you to maintain your honour, and for her to maintain hers.”

Bond and Jekyll leapt from their seats. There was a ripping sound and a crash as Hyde’s chair was crushed beneath him. Everyone in the room turned to the giant Mr. Hyde who sheepishly stood over the remains of the fine chair he had been sitting in until recently. His suit was torn all about his monstrous frame, and Bond could only thank his stars that the man’s pants had held together. His face, distorted into a bestial frame that only magnified his inherent ugliness, turned crimson and he hurried out the front door. Mina excused herself and raced after him, while Hawley’s laughter echoed in the room.

Campion surged up and grabbed the Invisible Man by the front of his jacket (well tailored for one Sir Campion Bond, esq., by Davies and Son) and dragged him from the room.

“I invite you into my home, I give you the liquor in my cabinet and the food from my pantry. I even give you the clothes on your back, and you repay my kindness by mocking the misfortunes of my guests, pawing at the others, and insulting my staff?”

Hawley stuttered as Campion pulled at him. “But, Bond, he’s just Hyde! He’s a laugh, a poor fecking slammer! He’s nothing more n’a savage, isn’t ‘e? Just a bit of a laugh at the old ape.”

Campion threw open his door, still reeling from Hyde’s escape, and threw Hawley into the dust. Plumes of dust coated Griffin, revealing the rough outline of his head and giving dimension to his black eyes.

“Keep the clothes, Griffin.”

Bond shut the door with such vehemence that the frame rocked. He stalked back into the salon, his heart pounding. Mycroft still sat sipping his tea as though he expected that, while Nemo stood with several of his servants.

He turned to Bond. “On behalf of Mr. Griffin, I must protest! He is a Gentleman in good standing and is not to be treated in such an ignoble way!”

Bond’s voice turned as soft as the silk sheath of a knife. “Oh, Captain? How should I have treated him then? Hmm? I fear I do not have enough servants to kindly escort miserable louts out of my home, and decided that I would have to sully my own hands.”

Nemo sniffed, and with that sniff, tried to remind Bond just how great a gulf there was between the minor nobility of England and the storied Royalty of India. Nemo picked his words with immense care, as a man with no shoes picks his way through downtown London.

“Hawley’s roughness aside, a man of breeding should never use violence against another outside of the nobles arts, such as fencing, or warfare. I fear that you have shamed yourself in front of your companions.”

One of Nemo’s servants understood the expression on Bond’s face and attempted to get Nemo’s attention by bowing deeply, but he stood behind the Rajah. Seeing that, Bond’s smile widened as wide as the Cheshire cat.

“Indeed? And how should we remedy this?”

Nemo plucked a glove from his hand and gently brushed it across Bond’s face.

“A gentlemanly duel should set you in your place, Bond. It seems the spy must be reminded of his place among true nobility. You are pretending at a place that is not for you and never will be.”

Bond felt incredibly at ease, as though his soul had found paradise. It was all so clear now, and he could only wonder how he had never seen it before. His face became as placid as the image of the heathen Buddha in far Tibet, and he nodded to Nemo.

“Of course, a duel. I accept.”

And with that, he kicked Nemo square in the trousers. There was a meaty thud, and the Rajah’s eyes went as wide as the sapphires in his turban. With a pathetic meep, Nemo collapsed, cupping his whirlygigs and spasming slightly on the ground. A servant rushed forward, but Bond stopped him with a glare.

“Would you dare interrupt a gentlemanly duel?”

The servant was torn between listening to Bond and helping his master. His dark eyes fluttered as they danced between Bond and Nemo, half hunched over his collapsed employer. Bond pointed a finger right at him.

“See him off the premises. As you can clearly see, we had a duel over my treatment of Hawley Griffin, and it was resolved to satisfaction. I expect that this will never be brought up again, understand?”

The servant nodded meekly, finally in a place he could understand. A richer man than he was yelling orders at him, all was right in the world. Nemo was carried out without grace, moaning softly and cupping his Nebuchadnezzar, while his violinist played to cover his exit. Bond returned to his seat, while a flushed and smiling Hannah poured him a double scotch and re-lit his cigar.

Allain walked back in the room, tucking his shirt back into his pants. “What was that all about?”

Bond shrugged. “Nemo took offence to something I did, so I kicked him in the tackle.”

Quatermain laughed loud enough to rattle the windows. “Hah! We were waiting for someone to do that! Uppity little Rajah needed to be reminded he was still human! Stupid blokes like him wave their money around and sneer, and wonder why everyone else can’t stand ’em. Good show, Campion. Just wish I was here to see it.”

Bond tossed down his Scotch, feeling at peace again. He turned to Mycroft. “Apologies, Holmes, but I was interrupted there. What was your idea?”

Mycroft was nowhere to be seen. Bond looked up and saw that it was not Charles tending the fire, but Mycroft wearing the butler’s suit. He called over his shoulder, and Bond could see that, somewhere, Mycroft had found a replica moustache that matched Charles’ exactly.

“As I was suggesting, you should simply remove your suit and speak with Mina. Should she indeed value you for who you are, then there should be no difference in her approach. Should the suit be modifying her attitude, then she will revert to her normal, combative self, and thus you shall have your answer.”

Allain stroked his beard for a moment. “It would work, but I still say he should take what’s offered. It’s not his responsibility to look out for her.”

Bond replaced his glass. “I hear you, but that can no longer be. I will do as Mycroft says. Gentlemen, the day has been long. I look forward to seeing you all tomorrow. Should you require anything, Charles, or Hannah in your case Allain, will be happy to assist you. I imagine you already know where your room is, Mycroft, so I will bid you adieu. Good night to you, and for God’s sake don’t wish me luck Allain.”

Quatermain looked offended. “Wish you luck? Never! I was simply going to give you this talisman.”

Bond took it. It looked like a piece of dried meat, but was long and crooked, and slightly sharp to the touch. “What is it?”

“A mummified tiger penis. The Mez’hu’uati people value them as symbols of fertility. It’s served me well, I can assure you of that.”

Bond immediately shifted his hand to hold it while touching the barest minimum of it. It hardly needed to be said that Bond wanted to handle Allain’s sexual totem as little as possible. “Allain, I’m…thank you.” He made his excuses and hurried upstairs. 

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