Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Be careful what you wish for

There are some things in this world that I will never truly understand, the professor, Nareth, embodies most of these. It was Nareth that taught me the limitations of our science, showed us all that there are powers both mysterious and frightening that exist beyond our knowledge. She called them gods, elder gods, and yet I have no reason to think that they are in any sense our creator or warrant a debt of servitude. It was from these monstrosities that Babbage and the world we live in was saved by the professor and now as we face the return of Moriarty and whatever his plans are I have been hoping that the professor, her cold but self assured demeanor and wisdom beyond my own capacity, would return and advise us. "Be careful what you wish for, lest it come true" they say.

I was sitting in the bakery/café my thoughts in disarray, I had failed young Myrtil for having worked with Rip and Orchid to uncover the plot against her we had acted too late, she had been taken, I have not recorded these events, there is much now in the public archives following the safe recovery of Myrtil and the death of her cousin, but at this point, perhaps a fortnight ago, as I write, such an ending seemed impossibly beyond hope. Strangely it was the events of that day, passing comments that may have led to her salvation, the strangest twists of fate.

A young lady entered, stopping to read the for sale sign that had been hung in the window. She was well dressed but somehow out of place, her hair an unusual colour, or that is to say, the top half of the hair was of one colour while the lower half seemed drained of colour. She picked up a pastry, leaving some coins on the counter and turned to face me.

"Good day", she smiled sweetly. I responded in kind, asking if she were new in town. This set her giggling. "Not exactly," she smirked "but I doubt you'd remember, I was a beastly child."

"There's a lot of them around", I retorted, a little more sharply than perhaps I ought to have following recent issues. She nodded.

"Yes, especially Coal", I looked up from my tea at this, there was only one person who had ever used that name. The young lady came at sat at the table with me. I enquired as to where she knew that name from, apologising for my distracted state of mind. She said no more, I looked at her closely, her face, something familiar, maybe.

"Elenore? my my that's amazing.", I had not seen Elenore for perhaps 9 months now, maybe longer, certainly no more than a year though, and yet, the girl sat before me was in her mid-teens, 16 or 17 perhaps, I'd last seen her as a rather obnoxious 6 year old. "Are you here with your Mother?"

"My Mother..yes the professor is with me. Why are you so distracted?". I explained the tale of Myrtil, who Elenore remembered as Oats, she seemed a little dismayed at the news but said little. She paused, a short absence, "Would you accompany me to the hideout above the theatre? I think the professor would like to see you". I agreed, of course, there was nothing more at that moment that would have brought cheer to my heart, but why the hideout? I left the question unasked.

We climbed ot the hideout through the opium den and stood in the gloomy evening light of the hideout, Alongside the rough wooden bunks used by the children lay a pair of coffins, left over from halllowe'en, I presumed. Elenore kicked idly at one of the coffins.

"I don't want you to be scared, but I'm not the only one who has changed", with this she drew back the lid of the coffin. I stepped back aghast.

"Is she dead?"

"No, not dead, not technically dead"

The body, in the casket moved and pulled itself up, groping at dark goggles to cover its eyes even in the gloom. Yet it was not Nareth, this person was younger looking, perhaps of Asiatic descent. The corpse spoke, its voice low and dry but somehow still Nareth, her precise delivery, her choice of words unmistakable. The thing that seemed to be Nareth, clawed at some goggles, pained at the soft glow that passed for daylight in the gloomy windowless attic rooms above the theatre. Then stepping wearily from the casket and, guided by Elenore, she sat at one of the tables.

The new Nareth sat for a while staring at me, and I at her, for she was not the Nareth I knew, not physically.
"This body, was a present from my daughter, the previous owner was Chinese I believe, I was never quite certain.". Nareth removed her goggles squinting despite the increasing gloom brought on by the setting sun. In the shadows Nareth's eyes looked like dark pools of black water, the shadows I presumed, but as I grew more accustomed to the darkness it was clear that this was no trick of the light.

I enquired as to what had passed to bring this change and the professor related her tale, dispassionately save for a small moment as she talked of a friend Wilhelmina, Mina, who I believe is now dead. Though she is strictly speaking not yet alive, this time travel concept, is not one that I feel will ever sit easily with me.

She explained how she had been living in London in the year 1897, and here she had become involved with this Mina, and a man known as Vlad Tepes, Dracula. A vampire. They fought him and won but in the process Nareth was cursed to be a vampire herself. They travelled then to Romania to seek out a cure but found nothing and leaving a trail of bodies behind them, returned to England.

Now vampires are another anomaly of nature or unnature, they do not appear in the science books but live in tales of horror to scare children and adults alike. It seems however that once again the professor challenges the very fabric of my world and adds to the list of strange enchanted beings, that of the blood sucking vampire.

I was unwise and chose my words without tact, not wishing to look upon the professor whose uncaring account of the death that she left in her wake in Romania chilled me. The professor angered by my words spat darkly a short, threatening retort. "I could not leave anyone alive having seen me".

"So am I next?", I snapped back, no time to be scared.
"Is that an offer?", with that the Professor laughed, a callous rattling laugh. "Be careful Beq". The night had come, and the professor was hungry, I looked worriedly at Elenore who explained that the professor had not killed a person for some time now, no one in Babbage and was living on rats and dogs as best she could find in the streets. Sickened at the image and shocked at both the threat and in truth most deeply hurt by the apparent loss of one that I had regarded as a true hero, a mentor even. As I walked home, somewhat nervously, I considered the meeting. What had I seen? how much of Nareth had I seen? how much of her was now this monster?

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