The bell rang, the air rattled slightly, and Lady Alexia Laplace sighed, put her tea cup down, and left her consulation of “The London Chronicle of Science” for another time.
The master called from across the sea.
Carina was inspecting some jewellery with an eyeglass, black hair gathered out of the way in a bonnet.
“How’s the world of high crime?” asked Alexia as she swept by.
“Alexia Laplace, how dare you besmirch my name so! This is an investigation, and these were paid for, not…er…re-appropriated. Mr Brown was tipped off that the jewellers in the Oxford Street Arcadia was as bent as the proverbial. The tip off was in the right of it, these are paste.”
She held up a string of emeralds to the light, dangling them on their silver chain, before slamming her hand shut contemptuously and slapping them down on the table. The moon-a-muck had raised its head in anticpitation at the sight of the glittering crystals, but on realisation that they were evidence rather than lunch, sank back onto its cushion in disappointment.
“Come on, let’s see what his nibs has brought back with him this time” suggested Alexia.
They entered the transportation room, and the conduction pole for the Poincare Machine was already humming, and beginning to crackle with a violet glow. Alexia ascended the dias, and threw the great layer.
Lightning flashed down from the roof, and acrid ozone odour filled the room. Pale blue and violet radiation played about, and then, with a flash the Poicare machine appeared,a giant silver atom in the molecule of madness.
Carina was used to this by now, but still she jumped and she caught her chest with her hand.
The outder door opened, the rails fell outwards and inner sphere of the machine presented itself with the groove of metal on metal. Shortly, Aristophanes Brown jumped out with a solitary bottle showing dark against his outfit of tweed.
“I’m fairly sure I win the Beaujolais race!”
“Pity you can’t tell anyone,” said Alexia in a sandpaper tone. “All this energy expended on a single bottle of wine.”
“I investigated the sightings of Le terreur de la singe!”
“Let that writer do that, he was there first. You were just getting in the way.”
“I caught the Ant Man.”
Alexia nodded in the direction of the moon-a-muck. “You had help.”
There was a pause. “Harrumph. No Beaulolais for you. I shall share it with Carina.”
Carina was indignant. “I want more than just over-rated fresh trodden plonk after sorting out your gem flogging shyster!”
“Oh! Well done! Well, I’m sure we can find something better.” flapped Aristophanes Brown as he stepped down onto the floor.
“Indeed” stated Carina, looking up. “Like rainwater perhaps?”
Aristophanes and Carina turned, comedically slowly, to see a thick, grey nimbus cloud rolling out of the Poincare cube, and collecting at the ceiling of the transportation room. As they watched rain was falling from the cloud, but rather than flood the floor, it seemed to dry almost immediately.
“Not-a-bloody-gain” moaned Brown. I thought our new calculations would ease this flotsam problem.
“You must admit, since my alterations, we have had less of these problems” stated Alexia firmly, crossing her hands over her khaki shirt.
As she spoke, there was a wetly slapping sound. Brown’s eyes rolled as the three of them looked down to see fish of perhaps eight inches in length wriggling on the floorboards.
“You were saying?”
Alexia ambled over. “Look like whiting. By heavens, a drop of Forteana!”
A fish clouted Carina across the shoulder. “Ow! Some drop!”
Attracted by the commotion, the moon-a-muck waddled into the room, and eyed up a fish that had bounced over in its direction. It sucked the piscid into its trumpet, then spat it out again in disgust with a “Hooo-HEEEEE” snort of disgust.
Around 50 fish had fallen from the cloud, and the upper halves of the three humans were soaked by the time Alexia had ascended the podium to reset the machine. As she threw the lever on and off (“in the future we won’t have to do this,” stated Brown firmly) the rain of fish and water stopped, and Carina ran around gathering up the fish. “Do you think we can sell them to a restaurant?” she was asking.
“I need a couple frozen for research purposes” instructed Alexia Laplace.
Aristophanes sat on his haunches, pulling the cork from the wine. It failed to do so with no pop, leaving half of the cork in the bottle neck.
“Damn french guff. Stick to gin.”
Copyright Mulberry Lightning 10.01.15
Written over 90 minutes, a day of day dreaming, a day of listening to the wind and wishing I could watch the angry sea.
Cryptozoology is mainly nonsense, but I love it when something is discovered that really feels like something out of Jules Verne.
This is the big fin squid, an 8 metre deep sea giant very sketchily known to science, and until recently never filmed…
Feel the cold grip in the inky inky depths…
“It is clear from the reports received over the years from Stronsa, St Augustyn – indeed photographs in this case, HMS Daedalus and other impeccable sources such as naval vessels rather than the rantings of drunken fishermen just awoken from a rum delerium, that there are indeed creatures of the deep as yet unknown to us, perhaps with the capacity to destroy ships and devour sailors.”
“The categorisation of these entities may be organised as follows…serpent types, as seen from the Daedelus…kraken – giant squid – as so nearly captured by a French vessel – and the lusca, a giant octopus with tentacles as long as a ship with suckers the size of cart wheels.”
Aristophanes Brown was speaking these peculiar words into the pewter horn of an Edison type Baraograph device. As he spoke, the sound was transferred to a rubber drum, the vibrations of which etched his speech onto a wax cylinder rotating under the power of electricity. He flipped a chunky dipole switch to stop the rotation, gathered his thoughts, then signalled “shusssh” with a finger at Lady Alexia Laplace as she entered his office. She nodded her understanding, then stood quietly, clad in a pair of moss green climbing breeches and black silk shirt.
Aristophanes resumed his recording.
“Serious experts regard the lusca as the greatest threat of all to life and limb. In the Indian Ocean specimens have been seen to tear shipwrecked men limb from limb with their tentacles, before devouring the heads and torsos of their unfortunate victims. By grasping round the hull, they have dragged even large schooners to their doom in the depths, before settling down to feast on the flesh of both the living and the dead, using powerful crushing teeth within their mouths.”
“They have been reported in both the Pacific and the Indian Oceans, with evidence that they have spread even into the colder waters of the Atlantic. It may be that Lloyds of London comes to refuse insurance to vessels because of the dread of the lusca, and so the giant octopus may come to dethrone the British merchant navy from its formerly powerful position.”
With finality, Brown stopped recording, the wax cylinder slowed to a stop, and he took out a cigarette from a silver case and went to light it, before remembering his manners and throwing it to Alexia.
“All rubbbish, of course,” he said, as he took out another cigarette, tapped the end on his desk and lit it. “The Stronsa beast is a decayed basking shark, the sea serpent an oarfish, and the St Augustine monster is a mass of blubber.”
He sat right back in his chair, and blew out smoke with satisfaction.
“The lusca is such a load of the proverbial cobblers.”
“Then why do you record it, you fool?” asked Alexia flatly.
“Devilment Alexia. People want to hear of terror, of creatures of the imagination made flesh. A world of dead sharks and whale blubber holds no excitement, or profit, for anyone. I’m going to get these cyclinders copied, and sell them. It amuses me to tell tall tales.”
“Really?” Alexia sighed. It was both a question, and a sigh of resignation.
“Indeed dear Lady Laplace! I shall call them “Aristophanes Brown’s Mysterious World” and write a book too! I’m sure it will do well.”
“I’m sure you’ll end up being belted about the face by angry shipping agents and insurance brokers Ari. But nothing shall dissuade you I’m sure.”
“True that. Oh Alexia, the world is tedious. Why isn’t it filled with monsters, there is no reason why it shouldn’t be.”
Alexia took a long look at him. “I think a man with a Picare machine should never, ever, be bored.”
This was written in a total of about 25 minutes in two stints, inspired by my current studies in Oceanography, and my long term interest in Cryptozoology. I like the mischief element of Aristophanes, and the long suffering practicality of Alexia