Hello, hey, how are you, lovely peanut bloggers?
Or whatever kind of bloggers you are. I don’t know where that came from.
Basically Jem provides us with a writing prompt composed of three images (observe the latest example below):
And then, we write whatever comes into our strange little heads based upon the prompt. What could possibly go wrong? (Don’t answer that.)
My result contains lots of things with which I have absolutely no experience, including (but not limited to):
- Being an alchemist (guys, I barely know what alchemy is…)
- The nineteenth century…ish
- Familiarity with the smell of chloroform
But it also contains things that I do have experience with, including (but not limited to):
- Being a snob (I have a great deal of experience with this! Which isn’t necessarily a good thing…)
- The avoidance of human interaction
So I did write what I know, at least partially.
Well, let’s get to it, shall we?
The Clockmaker’s Brother
As I descended the smooth, marble steps of the alchemy college I shoved my hands deep into the woollen pockets of my dark great coat, hunched my shoulders against the frigid air, and silently cursed myself for not grabbing my umbrella that morning when I had left home. The clouds overhead loomed ponderously and promised to leave me soaked to the bone and miserable before I reached the safety of my own front stoop.
By the time I reached the bottom of the wide steps the first nearly frozen droplets of water were stinging the back of my neck. Of course I had been stupid enough to forget my hat as well. Oh, that’s right, I didn’t have a hat anymore—I had mislaid it the last time I—
Just then a man bumped violently into me, rudely interrupting this last thought and knocking me off balance.
“Pardon me—” I began with hypocritical politeness. I was irritated and knew perfectly well that I had done nothing that would necessitate the request for a pardon, as the collision was entirely the other party’s fault. But before I could quite regain my composure, the man had grabbed me by the arm and dragged me around the corner. As I opened my mouth to protest, his other hand clamped over my mouth.
My eyes widened, and I took an involuntary sharp intake of breath. A horrid, strong smell shot through my head. Ah, I thought, Chloroform, and then I lost consciousness.
When I came to myself again, I was lying on my back on cold, somewhat damp pavement. It was dark, save for the pallid light from a workman’s lamp which sat several paces to the left of my head, and the distant glow of streetlamps. I was looking up at the blackened and slimy underside of what I thought was a bridge, though I wasn’t sure which one. The dull patter of rain whispered in my ears.
I slowly pushed myself into a sitting position.
I found myself confronted with two persons: the first was a roughly dressed, thug-like man holding a heavy looking club, presumably meant to intimidate me—it did somewhat achieve its goal, but I endeavoured not to let him know that by the expression on my face—and the second was a slightly smaller, far better dressed man with his hand resting on a white cane. He wore a long, blue coat and a top hat. It was hard to tell with the dim lighting, but his face seemed to be very grey—almost transparent.
“You are Lucas Addleby?” the well-dressed man demanded without so much as a ‘hello’ or a ‘sorry to bother you like this’.
“If I say no, will you let me go?”
“Your sister is Amelia Addleby, the famous clockmaker?” he went on, ignoring my question. He took a step closer to where I sat and peered intently at me. His eyes looked white and bizarrely blank in the odd light. I suppressed a shudder.
“I have some questions for you,” he said.
I sighed. “Why don’t we make this a little quicker? I will just give you the answers:” –I counted them off on my fingers—“Yes, my sister is really dead—Yes, I am absolutely certain that she is really dead—No, I did not murder her—No, I wouldn’t tell you even if I did—No, I don’t have the same talent with clocks (it’s not as if it’s hereditary)—Yes, I am absolutely certain that I don’t know how to make clocks—No, you are not going to get a penny of ransom money out of me so why don’t we all just go back to whatever we were doing and forget this ever happened?”
The man stared at me, taken aback. He blinked.
I sighed again, boredom and weariness threatening to overwhelm me. “This is the third time I’ve been kidnapped this week. It’s getting old.”
The man looked confused. Then furious. Then bewildered. Then rather crestfallen.
If I had been a more charitable person I might have felt sorry for him. But I wasn’t, so I didn’t.
“You picked a nice spot for it though,” I commented, looking up at the underside of the bridge again. “The last one was in a tunnel running next to the sewers—most revolting.” I looked back at the man, who hadn’t moved. “If it’s all the same to you, I think I’ll be going now.”
I made as if to stand, but the man with the club shoved me back down. I shot him an indignant look.
“I’m terribly sorry,” I said in my most hypocritically polite tone. “But I’m afraid I can’t help you gentlemen.”
There was the chance that they would toss me in the river. I hoped that they had better manners than that.
Thankfully, they did. The well-dressed man gave some kind of signal to the man with the club and they both began to back away. In a moment they turned and disappeared into the shadows of the bridge.
Two hours later, dripping with rain and bent with exhaustion and profound annoyance, I stumbled up the steps to the house, inserted my key in the lock, and let myself into its shadowy depths. I had dismissed the staff two months previously so there was no one to fuss over me and ask me unnecessary questions about what had happened and why I was home so much later than expected.
I was hoping to collapse into bed without having to think too much about anything, but as I was removing my coat, I noticed an envelope on the mat just inside the door. It had a muddy footprint on it. I must have stepped on it when I first came in.
I almost ignored it. I had received more than one unpleasant piece of mail in the past two months, and certainly this one could wait until morning.
But then I noticed something that made me stop and pick it up.
It was addressed to ‘Little Skunk.’ A childhood nickname that my sister had given me. No one had ever called me that but her.
The message inside was equally intriguing, and equally mystifying:
Can I still trust you?
There you have it. And unlike the last Quirk I did, I actually have some more ideas for this story. Something may or may not come of it. It all depends on how much I can get away with being clueless about alchemy.
Many thanks to Jem for giving me the opportunity to flex my creativity muscles! (Not that I ever think of creativity as actual muscles…but anyway.)
Go to Jem’s blog to check out the previous prompts and the cool things everyone has been writing for them! And it’s never too late to add a quirk of your own.