Ever since the strange animal with the musical nose trumpet had first mysteriously appeared, padding down the steps of the Poincare Machine in the warehouse lab of Lady Alexia Laplace and Aristophanes Brown, they had wondered about some of the creature’s odder quirks.
One of the oddest of these was its obvious great interest in any passing moth or butterfly that fluttered past is Cleopatra eyes. On its muzzle disguised walks, the sight of a red admiral would always cause it to emit a “hoo-heee-hoooooo” of joy. But now it was autumn, and butterflies were less numerous on the Embankment.
However, in the equinoctal nights, moths would flail in through open windows, and the moon-a-muck would behave very differentlly. It wouldn’t be excited, it would be as calm as a manatee in a warm ocean having its tummy tickled by a mermaid.
The cause of this was the night-time moths of autumn, the yellow underwings, the drinkers, the vapourers. They would swarm around the moon-a-muck, gently landing on its silvery-grey fur, and everytime one did so, the creature would gently croon “woooooo” until it fell asleep, more satisfied even then when it hooted up a whole bowl of crystals.
The moon-a-muck’s love of moths must mean something. But what?
Copyright Bloody Mulberry 09.09.15
The crowd gathered as the sunset over the stones, and sat politely and waited for the dawn. June 20th 1899. There was music, a strange but fair string quartet of ladies playing Holst’s “The Planets”. There had been hawks in the wind in the twilight, looking for titbits from the picnics.
Stonehenge. Where antiquarians gathered in the sounds of the pipes of pan.
3AM. Now the 21st. Just before twilight began to paint the eyelid of the horizon. There was a fuzzy crack of lightning, and a flash of blue radiation washed out over the crowd like Thor had hit his hammer.
They ooohed. They ahhhed. They swallowed their laundunum for the sunrise and looked for their gods.
And sitting atop one of the triptychs within his Poincare machine, Aristophanes Brown and the moon-amuck chuckled and hooo-eeh-hoo’d their little heads off, before repeating the process as they headed back to London
Because Ari has been under neglect.
“One gets a sense of perspective up here, I find” said Aristophanes Brown, as he surveyed the London he loved so much from a relaxed slouch.
“That phrase, Ari, is a cliche now, was a cliche before and will be a cliche long into the future of this pitiful planet.”
“Well often cliches are cliches because they are true. I love looking at the West End from up here, puts me in my rightful place above the sycophants and cretins of Theatreland!”
“Anything you say” sighed Lady Alexia Laplace as she went back to minding the compressor controls. “I’d hate for anything to take you off your lofty perch,” she muttered, before giving a swift twist to a valve, causing Aristophanes’ chair to lurch drunkenly back and forth.
“Ow! Stop that!” he said from his eyrie about the roof of their warehouse.
He was sat, in smoking jacket and rather raffish striped trousers cut for him by Sieberg of Chelsea, in his favourite garden lounger, some 15 feet above the parapet of their building. A flexible india rubber tube of some length reached up to the chair before splitting into four just before the legs, whereupon they were directed downwards to provide upward thrust. A device with little practical purpose other than to act as an ego trip for the dandy theatre critic, it was far too earthbound top ever provide an easy form of transportation.
And as Aristophanes found when he looked back down to find Alexia gone inside, it’s lack of onboard controls were a nuisance.
Copyright Mulberry Lightning 07.07.15
“Well, rather expected that would happen” said Lady Alexia Laplace in her usual dry as dust manner, as the tumbler of Tom Collins Aristophanes Brown had been playing with rather than drinking on a warm spring afternoon, met its maker on the tiled floor of the Warehouse kitchen.
“Bloody thing, always should have known to buy cheap glass that bounces instead of decent crystal, Alexia. We’ll be getting cuts if we are not careful, and as for the moon-a-muck’s feet, poor thing.”
“Ari, your concern for the creature is touching, but there is no cause to worry. I’ve been working on something, allow me to show you while that ne-er do well Carina is out taking the muck creature for a walk.”
Clad in her khaki-gold overalls, hair knotted in a scarf, she clomped across the flagging to the door of her small laboratory, reserved for her more lightweight projects. The sound of clinking, chinking and a gentle clattering could be heard, as Aristophanes made up for his clumsiness by taking a sneakful pull from Alexia’s glass, hurriedly replacing it just so as she returned, carrying a ceramic white tube about a foot long.
Sher pointed it at him, exclaimed “Observe!” and then set herself down onto the floor upon one knee. As she waved the rod around, Aristophanes noticed with a start that it was attracting up shards of glass, from large to tiny, without any effort like the attraction of static electricity.
A couple of self satisfied sweeps from the Lady Alexia, and there was not a trace of any glittering glass splinters on the floor.
She straightened her back, looked at Aristophanes across the table, and pressed a button on the end of the device. All the accumulated glass dropped nicely onto a dish Ari had been eating cake off just shortly before.
“Alexia! You are truly even more of a genius than I ever realised! We shall call it, we shall call it, “The Glagnet” – and more funding for our good work shall come our way.”
“Not “We’ll make millions!” Aristophanes? You surprise me.”
Aristophanes just shrugged.
Copyright Mulberry Lightning 20.05.15
Overall, written in about 20 minutes, inspired by a conversation I had with a colleague where the concept of “The Glagnet” erupted into shattering life.
Spring poured in through the windows, yet no-one wanted to play with the moon-a-muck, all Cleopatra eyed and sad as sad can be on its purple velvet bed – stolen by Carina from a dog owning worthy in Mayfair after they left their door open to clear the room of the legacy of a “gift” left by their four legged delight. The same Carina was now running the flower stall on the Embankment today, while the Lady Alexia Laplace was making welding based repairs to the Poincare machine. Beyond the locked door, magnesium sparks illuminated the gaps round the frame in erratic crackling bursts.
Aristophanes was out, who knew where.
Bored, the moon-a-muck trundled across to a small box of crystals Alexia was making jewellery with. They were’t Alum, so they creature had little or no use for them. Instead, it rummaged with its nose trumpet into the box until it found a lump of liquid green peridot, the size of a golf ball. which it held in place with a constant inhalation.
It dropped it to the floor, before seeking out another crystal, this one of smokey yellow citrine which found a home next to the peridot. Finally, another snuffling sort out unearthed a huge amethyst nearly the size of a tennis ball.
With all these gems in a line, the moon-a-muck pondered momentarily, as yellow flashes lit up its dark dark eyes. Then, it snaffled up the peridot, and with a sharp “Hooo-eeee PHUT!” puffed it up into the air before catching it again with a sound like a cork being pulled from a bottle. The satisfaction evident in the extra-terrestrial’s eyes was evident. “Hooomp!” it said to itself. It then repeated the act with the crystal of citrine, caramel yellow comet lighting the sky from trumpet back to trumpet.
Finally the moon-a-muck eyed up the larger amethyst, glowing with the colour of empire, and chuckled to itself. “hoo-heee-hoo-eee-hooooooo”. Then it moved in…
….an hour or so later Lady Alexia Laplace of the auburn hair suddenly remembered her act of neglect, and shutting off her welding torch and pulling of her micah coated facemask, grabbed a handful of alum crystals and opened the door from the Poincare chamber into the large kitchen. And there, her elegant mouth dropped open in a most unladylike fashion, surprising for a lady who made her boiler suit look like the height of Ascot style.
For the moon-a-muck, perched upright on its stocky little hind legs, was spitting the three crystals into the air in turn before catching them back in its nose trumpet. And as it did so, the crystals actually flashed with inner light and left glowing paths in the air.
All the while, the moon-a-muck sang. “Hooo! Heeee! Haaaa! Hooo! Heee! Haaa!” as the crystals drew colours on the sky and even hummed in resonance with the creature’s song.
Catching a glimpse of Alexia, it didn’t stop, merely blew the three crystals higher above its head, and cheekily snorted an alum crystal out of her pretty hand before she could move.
Copyright Mulberry Lightning 13.05.15
When I’m short of inspiration, I can always imagine the moon-a-muck doing something.
“Ari, you must be careful. You may use this device only twice in a year, my analysis has concluded.”
It wasn’t just Lady Alexia Laplace who was concerned. Carina sat in a corner, nervously arranging posies. The moon-a-much hooted nervously, perhaps more at the sight of Aristophanes Brown, his fair hair concealed underneath an odd silvery helmet with a somewhat rough and ready gladiatorial feel. Two inputs entered at the back, stepped down from the power source that fed the Poincare machine, and two outputs, rather thinner in cabling, exited from the temple.
These cables wound along the floor in a rather haphazard fashion, before leading up a wooden table leg to encounter a series of cunning actuators and pistons. One set to a crudish mechanical claw, the other to a set of hinged metal joints terminating in pseudo fingers, wracked with seeming metalloid arthritis, clenched round the grip of a kitchen knife.
“Close your eyes, and have a vision of what you want to do,” went on Alexia. “But if you feel any discomfort, you must tell me immediately so I may cease the experiment. I have no wish to damage your brain.”
Aristophanes, eyes hidden within the helmet but messy strands of fair hair edging the headpiece like a feathered nest, nodded.
“Very well” said Alexia softly. “I’m turning on the power.”
She threw a large dipole switch. A crackle of power fused the air into smoke, and Aristophanes jerked.
Upon the table, the metallic hands began to tremble and clench. What was visible of Brown’s face below the nose was a gargolye of seizure. The moon-a-muck looked terrified.
“Concetrate man! Envisage the knife in your hand!” shouted Alexia.
Brown’s nod was a collapse of his neck into his shoulders, head tilted at a terrible angle. “Increase power” he managed to strangle.
“NO!” countered Alexia. “You must increase thought!”
Sparks were dancing between the inputs. Carina leaned forward.
Upon the table, the knife was raised. Aristophanes managed to stretch his neck back out like a waking tortoise, and the knife drunkenly straightened up in the grasp of the metallic talons. In the other “hand” a carrot was held firm, the forces upon it limted artificially for fear it would have been crushed out of existence.
“Nyyyyeeeeaarggghhh” groaned Aristophanes Brown, and the knife descended upon the vegetable in a sweries of hesitant, jagged sawing motions as devoid as smoothness as a cactus.
Both ladies stood on tiptoe, breath held.
The sound of organic matter. The sound of organic matter being rendered. Being cut. Being sliced. The knife lifted again, the process was repeated. Hesitant and clunky to be sure, the carrot was indeed being sliced up as the ladies turned virtually blue, and sweat turned Aristophanes Brown’s morning clothes to a swamp of sweat. He kept going for as long as he could, straining for every breath as the visions in his mind were made into the motions of the knife. But eventually it was all too much, and he fell forward, making a slicing moment with his hand as he did so.
Alexia ran forward, and helped the adventurer out of the helmet. His face was white, and where the power inputs had entered the helmet, his hair had been scorched the black of anthracite.
“You’ll wear those marks for a while yet, Ari” she said, doing a good job of hiding her relief. Brown didn’t even have the strength to nod.
Meanwhile at the table Carina was examining the vegetable of their labours. The carrot had been cut up as if by a sickly beaver, and its orange flesh too was scorched in places.
“It’s a major achievement, to be sure, but it seems an awful amount of effort for the world’s most hopeless salad…”
Sharp, sharp and withering glares from Alexia.
“I think your flowers are wilting, Carina” was all she said.
The moon-a-muck emerged from hiding, and hooted joyfully that the noise and fuss were all over.
Copyright Mulberry Lightinng 22.02.15
Half an hour’s work after thinking about slicing up salad with the power of the mind
Lady Alexia Laplace was thoroughly glad to be out of her warehouse home by the river. Such had been the industriousness of the moon-a-muck, there had been more and more flowers cluttering up the building and the sting of alum made quite an unpleasant mix with some of the fruitier flowers Carina had been rescuing from disused gardens and the compost heaps of graveyards for the musical creature to revive with its song.
She needed rest, and relaxation, and clear air. She might find the first two where was going, or maybe not, but the third would be in perilously short supply once she arrived at her destination.
Off the underground in Ealing, she hailed a Hansom Cab, and found her way to Portabello, where up a side street not worthy of the name, and down a set of stairs behind iron railings, she came to a red door that had replaced the previous green one after the wife of a Lord had been found morally wanting.
Morals had no interest for the stern-ish and direct Lady Alexia. Behaving well was one thing. Making a big fuss of it was another.
She knocked at the door, three-two-three short-long-short.
The door was opened, and she passed a weighty coin to a tall blonde woman standing by a small table within. No words were spoken
Smoke issued forth from down the corridor, beckoning her in with ashen curling fingers. Within, she found her customary table for one decorated with a fern, took a silver conveyed gin that she hadn’t had to ask for, nodded polite greeting at the seven or eight other ladies sat in similar arrangement.
A woman of the South Seas, perhaps, took up a violin, and played a curious tune, half Vivaldi, half sea shanty from the bawdiest of harbour brothels. A gentleman, looking rather like a cricketer in grey and maroon flanneling, took the stage and at once began to dance. His cream shirt of finest linen he unbuttoned at the top, before offering the fastenings to a coppery haired ne’er do well woman with the look of socialism about her.
She undid two more buttons, and snapped a note, inked and white, into his black waistband. More licenstiousness on her part was to be denied. He caught the eye of Alexia, and advanced towards her, face gleaming by the oil lamps. Her hand raised towards his chest.
Her heart began to pound.
Copyright Mulberry Lightning 13.02.15
The Lady Alexia Laplace deserves more stories, I feel. 12 minutes, one gret afternoon