Note:  This is a first draft of my short story.  Comments and critiques are wanted and appreciated.  Thank you.


To Whom Shall You Inquire?

By Kent Whittington

 

“You have a very serious problem here, doctor.”

 

“I know that, Mr. Abraham,” Doctor Winscomb replied with perhaps less tact than he had originally intended. Being a man of science and an eminent physician in and about the London community, Doctor Edward Winscomb could hardly admit to the supernatural whether in theory or in practice. Surely in his own mind he could noy believe in the existence of ghost, specters or things that go bump in the night. It just wasn’t cricket!

 

After the events of the previous day, however, something had to be done. Whatever this thing was had decided that it would manifest itself in the middle of tes with Lord Ransom, knocking over tables and lamps in the parlor and causing objects to be propelled at dangerous velocities at the two men and quite nearly beheading his housekeeper, poor Mrs. Prescott. It was then that Lord Ransom had recommended the Order to him.

 

“Order?” Doctor Winscomb had said, “What are these people, some divergent sect of religious fanatics? Spiritualists perhaps (a type of people Doctor Winscomb had little regard for)? Secret societies? Surely, my good fellow, you seriously do not mean to recommend lunatics to me, do you?”

 

He remembered Lord Ransom laughing as he replied, “My dear doctor, The Royal Order of Hunters is nothing like that at all, at least not in full. The members of this Order are more akin to men of science who also employ spiritualistic techniques in the practice of eliminating threats of a supernatural nature.”

 

Doctor Winscomb had scoffed, “Magician, you mean to say, Lord Ransom?”

 

“If you prefer the term, sir, then yes, I suppose that you could call them that. It is as fine a moniker for them as any.”

 

Winscomb scowled, “Ah, but if I were to to take your recommendation, then should I not consider myself the laughing stock of all of London?” Lord Ransom had smirked at the remark, adding nothing more to the conversation. Winscomb added, “Besides, what do I really know of spirits? Perhaps what we experienced was nothing more than the shaking of the earth beneath our feet? Perhaps a shifting of the land?”

 

“Perhaps,” Lord Ransom said, acquiescing to the good doctor, “for not, doctor, we shall think upon it no longer, but do keep an open mind, won’t you? The Order does come highly recommended in matters spiritual.”

 

“By whom?”

 

“Why, by the Queen, of course,” said Lord Ransom as if it were a known fact.

 

 

Later that evening, Doctor Winscomb had pushed all thoughts of tea and the Royal Order of Hunters from his mind and would have forgotten about the matter completely had it not been for what had occurred in his bedchamber that very same evening.

 

Just as the good doctor had slipped between the covers of his bed and eased in for a good nights sleep, the apparition manifested from head to full-torso. A pale, gaunt specter, the phantasm had the form of a woman who had been half starved to death. Fully emaciated, the creature stood at his footboard, a free floating entity, eyes hollow and black, its mouth agape in a silent scream.

 

“Wh-who are you?” Doctor Winscomb had remembered saying, barely able to form the words for a fear that chilled his soul. In response, the haunt screamed, a horrible, unearthly wail, sending the entire room into disarray and upsetting everything including Doctor Winscomb’s nerves. With a final roar the fire in the hearth flared to dangerous levels, threatening to set the room alight in its passing as the apparition rose up into the ceiling and disappeared. Doctor Wiinscomb had become so frightened by the ordeal that it took him a good hour to compose himself enough to call for Mrs. Prescott.

 

 

Doctor Winscomb slept no more that night.

 

 

The very next morning Doctor Winscomb called upon Lord Ransom, imploring him to contact the Order on his behalf.

 

As the clock in the hall chimed three in the afternoon the doorbell rang. Mrs. Prescott answered the door and let the Doctor’s guest into the house. Asking the two to wait in the foyer, Mrs. Prescott entered the parlor where Doctor Winscomb had sequestered himself, saying, “Doctor, there is a Mr. Abraham and his...associate here to see you, sir.”

 

“Associate, you say?” Doctor Wiscomb had asked.

 

“Yes sir, and if you ask me, the whole thing is a bit unorthodox.”

 

Curious as to her meaning, and eager to greet members of the Order, Doctor Winscomb said, “Show them in, please.”

 

Mrs. Prescott exited the room to return seconds later leading the doctor’s guests into the room. The man, who was obviously Mr. Abraham, was a gentleman, roughly in his twenties, dressed in nondescript brown suit and tie, waistcoat and bowler. His shock of dark hair threatened to overwhelm his hat as he removed it from his head, although in contrast he sported a neat mustache and goatee. He smiled as he was introduced to Doctor Abraham. Everything about the young man said ordinary, aside from a large brown satchel he carried with him, very similar to what he himself carried when going to visit his patients.

 

His young companion, on the other hand, was a contradiction in terms. While her features were beautiful and striking, she wore her red hair long under a cowboy hat that sported what appeared to be an odd set of goggles upon its brim. She wore a dark waistcoat, similar to her companions, but rather than a fashion befitting a lady, the woman had chosen to dress in a man’s white collared shirt and brown vest (forgoing a tie, the doctor had noticed for some reason) and, of all things, loose fitting leather trousers and cowboy boots, everything she wore spoke of decidedly American affectations. On her waist, Doctor Winscomb noticed a leather belt, slung low on her hip. It had slots sewn into the strap for what appeared to be bullets. Was she carrying a gun as well?

 

The good doctor was momentarily distracted by the woman’s appearance, a fact that seemed to please her if one were to note the expression on her face.

 

“Mr. Abraham,” Doctor Winscomb had said, recovering remarkably fast and rising to take the man’s hand, “so good to make your acquaintance, sir.”

 

“A pleasure, Doctor Winscomb. May I introduce my associate, Isabella Stanton.”

 

Isabella Stanton held her hand out demurely in stark contradiction to her appearance, “A pleasure to meet you, doctor.”

 

He took her hand, noting their accents, “American?”

 

“Yes sir,” she replied, “my family hails from Pennsylvania, but I’ve spent much of my life on the frontier.”

 

“Hence the attire,” Abraham added.

 

“Your accent is slight, sir, but I detect a touch of Germanic?”

 

“Very good, doctor,” Abraham said, genuinely pleased, “I have been in Britain for some time now and have been slowly losing it. You have a knack for accents.”

 

“I have traveled some in my youth abroad,” he said. “Can I offer you and your companion a drink, sir?”

 

Abraham shook his head. “For myself, no, thank you doctor.”

 

Stanton’s face lit up at the offer, “I wouldn’t mind.”

 

“Sherry?” Doctor Winscomb said, noticing the scowl that suddenly swept Abraham’s face.

 

“Please.”

 

As the doctor poured the sherry for Stanton and himself Abraham said, “please forgive me, doctor, but Isabella has never been one to pass up a spirit, either non-corporeal or alcoholic. I myself prefer to work with a clear head.”

 

“Yes, please do forgive him, doctor,” Stanton replied taking the drink from the doctor’s hand, “Johannes would prefer the two of us sober during our outings.”

 

“Oh, that’s quite all right, Miss?”

 

“Missus actually. Formerly anyway. My husband was a lieutenant aboard theVirginious.”

 

The doctor’s eyes widened, “The Virginious you say? Terrible business that.Blasted Spaniards!  You must have been quite young when he passed. My condolences to you, madame.”

 

“Yes, terrible business indeed,” Abraham replied solemnly, “but, be that as it may, we are here to work.”

 

“Yes,” Doctor Winscomb replied, “please sit down.”

 

Johannes Abraham took the comfortable looking chair across from where Winscomb had been sitting only moments before, resting his satchel in his lap and leaving his companion to take the settee. Isabella Stanton draped her body across the seat. Thoughts of her departed husband haunted her memory, but determined to enjoy herself and her drink until the work actually began.

 

“Ah,” Abraham said, “very nice. So, doctor, please do tell us your tale.”

 

“I take it that Lord Ransom has not informed you of my plight?”

 

“Just the opposite, Doctor Winscomb,” Stanton chimed in, “but we prefer to hear our clients personal accounts.”

 

“Yes,” Abraham added, “second-hand accounts often lack some truth and the more the story is told, the worse the actual details become until the tale becomes wholly incongruous with the actual events.”

 

“Of course,” Winscomb said as he let the events that had transpired the previous evening unfold before them.

 

“Interesting,” Abraham said, “and the first event took place here, you say?”

 

“Right in this very parlor, sir, yes,” Winscomb replied.

 

Abraham nodded and rose from his chair. “Isabella?”

 

“As you say,” Stanton said, rising,“let the show begin.” Stanton removed the strange, green-lensed goggles from atop her hat and fastened them over her eyes. Aside from the green lenses, Winscomb noted other lenses of varying sizes, thickness and colors attached to the sides of the goggles by miniature armatures. Stanton, he noted, wandered about the room, flipping the strange lenses down or up as seemed necessary.

 

“Anything?” Abraham asked.

 

“Nothing yet, Johannes. I’m getting some flashes here and there, but nothing concrete.”

 

The doctor’s interest was peaked, “Mr. Abraham? If may ask, what are those things on her face?”

 

Abraham smiled, “I call them spectrometric spectral detection goggles, doctor.”

 

“Johannes’ invention, doctor,” Stanton said as she surveyed the room, “they magnify and measure light, heat and spectral energy. They also look quite lovely on my hat.”

 

“Spectral energy, did she say?” Winscomb asked.

 

“Yes, that is correct. With those goggle we can detect spirits.”

 

“Remnants of spirits actually,” Stanton chimed in, “usually when we have arrived, it is almost always after the fact. these goggles allow us to trace the spirit in question.”

 

Abraham added, “Stanton has a keen eye, doctor. I designed the goggles to modify what she could already see.”

 

“She can see spirits?”

 

“Spirits, entities, ghosts,” Stanton said, “I’ve been able to see the dead since I was a young girl. Usually no more than their ectoplasmic remnants however, hence the need for the gog--” Stanton stood stock still, staring intently at the ceiling corner behind Doctor Winscomb.

 

“Isabella? What do you see?” Abraham demanded.

 

Stanton’s voice became a whisper. “It’s there, Johannes,” she said, pointing at the spot, “A woman. By the goddess! Johannes, It’s a--uh--it’s sitting there, on the ceiling watching us. Careful, now.”

 

Abraham opened his satchel and produced a small device. It was black and metallic with brass corners and what appeared to be a crystal ball mounted atop it. Abraham moved slowly toward the corner and gently placed the device on the floor below it.

 

“What is that thing?” Winscomb demanded, “What’s going on?”

 

“No questions now, please doctor,” Abraham replied, “the work we do now is quite delicate. Any disruption could prove detrimental.” Abraham backed away from the corner asking, “Is it still there?”

 

“Yes, but it seems to be curious about the trap.”

 

“Trap?” Winscomb asked.

 

“Good,” Abraham said choosing to ignore the doctor, “that is as it should be. Perhaps we won’t need the guns this time after all.”

 

“Guns!” Winscomb cried out, suddenly remembering Stanton’s holster, “you intend to fight this thing with guns? In my home?”

 

From Stanton’s perspective, the ghost, who had until then been slowly reaching out to the trap, suddenly jerked its spectral hand away from it and bolted straight up into the room above.

 

“Damn!” Stanton cursed, “it’s running!”

 

“Which direction?”

 

Stanton was on the move before she answered, “upstairs!”

 

Abraham retrieved the trap and as he rushed out the door he said to Winscomb, “You have a very serious problem here, doctor.”

 

“I know that, Mr. Abraham,” Doctor Winscomb replied as he followed with perhaps less tact than he had originally intended, “but I wish to point out that if it is your intention to fire weapons at, well, whatever this thing is, that simply will not do!”

 

Abraham stopped abruptly, causing Winscomb to nearly rush into him, “Doctor Winscomb, we are professionals I assure you. I myself have been doing spectral evictions for many years now and at each one my one sole requirement is that the client does not interfere! Your outburst in the parlor just now may have aggravated your problem tenfold.” Abraham turned and rushed up the stairs behind Stanton.

 

“But what do you mean by aggravate? Abraham! I demand that you answer me this very minute!”

 

Abraham kept moving and as he reached the top of the stair said, “It knows it is being hunted, doctor! This spirit is a powerful entity and will wreak havoc upon your home, your life, and the lives of those who live here as well. So I say again, doctor, please leave us to it!” Both men suddenly turned then when there came a loud series of crashes followed by a scream. Stanton flew out of one of the rooms and was subsequently slammed into the wall in the hallway.

 

“Isabella!” Abraham cried, rushing to her side.

 

“I’m alright, Johannes,” she said weakly, “just a little dazed ‘sall.”

 

“The specter?”

 

“Left through the window. Johannes,” she said clasping her hand in his own, “I know what she is! She will return.” Stanton turned to Winscomb and through haunted eyes said, “I know it.”

 

“Return?” Winscomb said, “you did not evict it?”

 

“No,” Abraham chimed in, “it is as I said, doctor, we must be allowed to proceed as we know best if you wish this horror of yours to end. Isabelle, are you certain about the specter?”

 

“I knew it the first time I saw its face. Johannes, do you remember our investigation in Cumberland last year?”

 

“Cumberland? Yes I remember. An apparition haunting a farmer’s home. But that was a--” Abraham stopped in mid sentence as the realization dawned upon him, “Isabelle! Surely you don’t mean...”

 

“Yes, Johannes, the very same.”

 

Winscomb curiosity could no longer be contained. “What is it? Mr. Abraham, Mrs. Stanton, I beseech you please. What is this creature haunting my home?”

 

Abraham released Stanton and rose to meet the good doctor’s eyes, his expression both concerned and sad, “My dear Doctor Winscomb. I’m afraid the news is rather dire.”

 

“No!” Stanton said, desperately clutching Abraham’s trouser leg, “You mustn’t tell him!”

 

“He has a right to know, Isabella,” Abraham said and helped Stanton to her feet. She was still unsteady from the impact as Abraham held her up and said to Winscomb, “As I was saying, doctor, the news is rather dire. What is haunting your home is not an average spirit. The haunt is a powerful entity and extremely dangerous. Irish myth and folklore speak of it as an omen of death.”

 

“Death?” Winscomb said aghast, “who’s death?”

 

“It could very well be yours, doctor. I’m am both afraid and saddened to say that you are a victim of a bean sidhe. It has come for you.”

 

 

 

As night loomed near, Doctor Winscomb sat in his parlor finishing off the last of the sherry. Through an alcoholic haze he asked the two investigators, “Are you certain that this’s absolutely necessary? Am I actually to become bait for this creature, this, this banshee?”

 

“Yes, doctor,” Stanton replied, “absolutely necessary. The bean sidhe has marked you and will arrive with the setting sun. My actions drove it from the house and weakened it, but it will grow stronger once night has fallen and it will return with a vengeance.”

 

“But why me?’ Winscomb pleaded, “I am a good man! I am a healer, for God’s sake! Why do I deserve to be haunted by this thing?”

 

“I do not know, doctor,” Abraham said, “no one does, really.” Abraham took the trap from his satchel and handed it to Stanton who, in turn, placed it in Winscomb’s hands. “When you see the bean sidhe, doctor, you must wait until it comes to you. When that happens and only then will you need to rotate the crank on the trap.”

 

“Like this?” Winscomb said, turning the small crank on the trap about as he asked. Winscomb sat thoroughly amazed as two small doors in the base of the crystal slowly opened. The crystal, designed as an amplification device, illuminated the entire room in a greenish ghostly glow. Winscomb stared down into the crystal, there to be mesmerized by the sight of a small green flame, alight without any visible source of fuel. “Oh my...” he uttered in a whispered breath. As the ghostly flame seemed to draw his senses into it.

 

Abraham quickly snatched the trap away from Winscomb and turned the crank, closing the aperture. “Please, have a care, doctor! This is highly sensitive equipment you have here, sir. If you had continued to stare into it, it might have killed you.”

 

“What is that thing, Mr. Abraham? What was that tiny light inside?”

 

“It is a ghost flame, doctor, a Will-o-the-wisp I managed to capture and trap in this device.” Abraham said. He handed the trap back to Winscomb and continued, “they are quite dangerous to mortal folk, actually when found in their normal habitat. They have the ability to mesmerize and draw in a soul. In a living creature such as yourself, sir, the Will-o-the-wisp would have to lead you to your death first before it could consume your spirit, usually by drowning, but it can employ other means as well.” Abraham placed his hand on the trap’s crystal ball, “It might have convinced you to plunge both you and it out of the window just now in an effort to free itself and then feed upon your spirit.”

 

Winscomb held the trap a bit more gingerly than before, “How horrible! Why would you use such a creature?”

 

Stanton placed her hand on Winscomb’s arm, “Please understand, Doctor, the Will-o-the-wisp is a spirit devour. For all of their peril to mortals, they are equally dangerous to creatures of pure spirit as well, perhaps moreso, for such a thing as this would destroy a pure spirit utterly.”

 

“The device is perfectly safe,” Abraham added, “so long as one does not look directly at the ghost flame. For pure spirit the flame is a lure, nothing more. As the spirit is drawn in by the flame, it becomes trapped in the crystal. There are thousands of facets within which both confuse and frustrate the creature within once it is trapped.”

 

“So you do not allow the spirits destruction then?” Winscomb asked, appalled that such a thing would even be considered.

 

Stanton’s voice was soothing and sweet when she replied, “No, doctor. Our order does not destroy these creatures. We...employ them in our research, rather, studying their nature so that we may better utilize our resources in future endeavors such as this. Please, doctor, be at ease. As Johannes has said, wait for the bean sidhe to come close before opening the aperture.”

 

“And do not look at the flame,” Abraham added once again.

 

 

As the hour struck eleven, Doctor Winscomb, tired of waiting, had dozed off as his lack of sleep from the previous evening finally caught up to him. Abraham and Stanton sat opposite Winscomb, placing a table between them and had begun a game of cards to pass the time, the only illumination in the room coming from a small gaslight placed on the table between them.

 

“I should think the waiting the worst of it,” Abraham said, playing a card, “Gin.”

 

“Bugger!” Stanton cursed quietly, “that is your third win a row.”

 

Abraham smiled, “fourth actually.” Abraham looked about the room, “anything yet?”

 

Stanton dawned the goggles and looked about, “No, but the hour is late and midnight is approaching. It will be here before the first chime of the witching hour, I’m certain. Even spirits have rules to follow, as you well know.” Abraham dealt another hand and sat silent for several moment, contemplating his cards. The silence in the room was too much and Stanton said, “Johannes, why is it always the work for you?”

 

Abraham laughed quietly, “Isabella, you know I can’t take you seriously when you eye me with those things on your face.”

 

Stanton pulled the goggles off of her face and said, “I am quite serious, Johannes. Even in a lull such as this you are calculating odds and planning out the events to come. Do you not think of other things ever? Don’t you ever think of us?”

 

“Isabella, you know my true feelings for you, but this is my vocation. I, and you, are both priests in the Order.”

 

“But you are a hunter, Johannes, as well as a priest, and there are no oaths of celibacy in the Order’s charter. Won’t you consider it?”

 

“I have, Isabella. I think about it everyday. Please, my sweet, allow me time to come to grips with what it is that we do first.”

 

Stanton bowed her head and quietly said, “It’s because of what happened to her that you do this, isn’t it?”

 

Abraham placed his cards on the table, “The werewolf incident was ages ago.”

 

“And yet it still haunts your dreams! You know very well that I have watch you sleep many times before during our investigations and your sleep is far from restful.”

 

“I killed her, Isabella, and it haunts me all of my days for what I did.”

 

“Stanton reached across the table, taking Abraham’s hand in hers, “You had to, Johannes. Your wife was attacked and turned during the following moon. She killed your father, and would have killed you too if you hadn’t--”

 

Stanton’s voice cut off as a chill entered the room and the gaslight’s flame flickered and rose in response. Abraham said, “It’s here.”

 

Stanton replaced her goggles and surveyed the room, pointing, “There, Johannes! I see it by the window!”

 

Abraham cautiously moved toward Winscomb’s chair, waking him, “Doctor Winscomb, it’s time.”

 

“What?” Winscomb replied, shaking the cobwebs from his head, “The banshee?”

 

“Yes, doctor. Remember what I said. You must wait for it to get close to you before the aperture is opened. Do you understand?”

 

“Uh, yes. Yes, I understand. Open the aperture and do not look at the flame.”

 

Abraham smiled, patting the doctor on the shoulder, “Good man. You just might survive this yet.” Abraham turned to Stanton whose eyes stayed fixed at the window, “Isabella?”

 

“It hasn’t moved yet, Johannes. It’s watching us. I think it’s waiting for us to leave the room.”

 

“Bugger that,” Abraham replied, “If it wants Winscomb that badly, it must act soon, before its power wanes.” Abraham backed away from Winscomb, “Remember, doctor, only when it gets close.”

 

Winscomb’s dread was self evident as he said, “I-I don’t know about this, Mr. Abraham! I-I can’t do this!”

 

Winscomb wanted nothing more than to bolt from the parlor in mortal terror, but Abraham moved to his side again, steadying him, “Get ahold of yourself, man! Just do as I have directed. You are perfectly safe so long as you follow my instructions. Do not move!”

 

Wincomb's feared played across his face once more, but he gave Abraham a shakey nod and said, “All right. Yes, buck up, old man.”

 

“That’s the spirit doctor.”

 

“Johannes, It’s moving. I think it will manifest soon.”

 

“Good. Prepare yourself now, doctor.”

 

No sooner did the words escape Abraham’s lips as the bean sidhe coalesced in the moonlight. It hovered inches above the floor as it moved toward Winscomb. It’s featuers were fuller than before, by the Doctor’s estimation, appearing less emaciated. It was dressed in a white shroud and it’s clothing and stark white hair moved independently of any breeze. the face of the creature had not changed at all, however. Still the same pale shadow, hollow eyes and mouth drawn in a silent scream. Winscomb’s face turned deathly pale as it approached and he seemed to fidget as if he would flee the room if given half the chance. “Good God!” he exclaimed, “the banshee!”

 

“No sudden movements now,” Abraham said to Stanton, “we don’t want to provoke the thing.”

 

“I know my job, Johannes.” she said as she drew her weapon, “draw yours.”

 

Johannes did as Stanton requested. Winscomb noted that the guns they each held were not of ordinary make. While styled like revolvers, the weapons were larger with a rounded housing in which Stanton and Abraham began loading the strange capsules that he had seen on Stanton’s belt earlier that day. The barrel of each ended in a conical opening. Both flipped a small toggle on their weapons and a hum pervaded the room.

 

The bean sidhe turned suddenly at the noise, and realizing the danger it was in, caused the cards on the table to suddenly fly into the air, momentarily blinding the two hunters. A sudden whirlwind erupted, sending other objects flying into the air. Abraham and S”tanton each huddled behind the chairs they had been sitting in earlier. “Isabella! are you alright?”

 

“Fine!” Stanton cried out, exasperated, “It senses the trap!”

 

“I know!” Abraham cried out through the maelstrom, “We have to force it nearer the doctor! On my mark!”

 

Abraham yelled “FIRE!” and he and Stanton rose and pulled their triggers, sending lightning shooting across the room to connect with the banshee, each using their weapons in an effort to corral and redirect the entity. As soon as one would fire, sending the creature in one direction, the other would fire, redirecting the bean sidhe ever closer to Doctor Winscomb and the trap.

 

“Now, doctor! Open the aperture!” Winscomb hesitated a moment, but fought for control as he made his hand turn the crank, almost forgetting not to look inside. Abraham and Stanton ceased fire and at the same time Winscomb noted the maelstrom ebbed. Objects twirling about the room ceased their flight and fell back to earth, the room a shambles.

 

The bean sidhe had turned just as the greenish glow from the trap lit the room. Curious (and much to Winscomb’s discomfort), it moved still closer peering into the box. It reached out and seemed to sigh, mesmerized by the lit of the ghostly flame within and, as it did so, was drawn into the crystal. With a sudden and final wail the bean sidhe was entrapped, caught within the multiple facets of the crystal trap.

 

Abraham rushed to Winscomb side and snatched the device from his hands, turning the crank in the opposit direction and closing off the green flame. He then moved to his satchel, placing it on the table. Stanton drew near him, “We’ve got it, Johannes!”

 

“Yes,” he said as he removed the crystal from its housing.

 

Winscomb rose from his chair and joined the to hunters as they stared in amazement at the crystal. “This is the banshee then?”

 

Abraham stared at the swirling mass inside that was the bean sidhe, “rendered harmless in quartz crystal for all time.” Abraham removed a square, velvet lined wooden chest from his satchel and placed the crystal within, closing the lid as he did so. Placing the box and the trap back in the satchel, Abraham turned to Winscomb, “Commendably handled, doctor! Thank you. The baen sidhe will cause trouble no longer.”

 

Winscomb composed himself and, straightening his jacket, said, “No, Mr. Abraham, it is I who should be thanking both you and Mrs. Stanton for your help.”

 

“You’re welcome, doctor,” Stanton said as she replaced her weapon and goggles.

 

“Yes,” said Abraham, holstering his weapon as well and taking Winscomb’s hand, “and please do not hesitate to call upon us again should you ever require our services.”

 

Winscomb laughed, “Considering the disarray this spirit seems to have caused, that is one occasion I should hope to never have to consider. But please, is there any amount of compensation that I can offer in gratitude for what the two of you have done?”

 

“No. Thank you, doctor, really.” Stanton replied, “It is our calling, and that requires no compensation at all.”

 

“We’ll take our leave of you now, doctor,” Abraham said as he placed his hat on his head and both he and Stanton donned their waistcoats, “if there is nothing more you require.”

 

As the two turned to leave, a perplexed and frightened Mrs. Prescott choose that moment to enter the room, “Doctor, I heard the most terrible noise coming from downstairs and I--” She stopped mid sentence as she noticed the state of the parlor, “My word! What happened here?”

 

 

Abraham and Stanton stepped out into the streets of London and hailed a hackney cab waiting along the road. Once seated and on their way to the mother house, Abraham opened his satchel and removed the chest containing the crystal trap. Abraham opened the lid and studied the bean sidhe trapped inside.

 

“I couldn’t help but notice that you didn’t tell him,” Stanton said.

 

“It is my opinion, my dear Isabella,“ Abraham said, “that there are certain things that mankind is not meant to know, nor do I feel it is my place to tell him.”

 

“Perhaps,” Stanton said, “but did we do him a kindness in hiding it from him?”

 

“I believe so, although I take no pleasure in it.”

 

 

One week later

 

 

Stanton returned from her errands to find Abraham in the library. She was dressed presentably, in a fashion befitting a lady of London society. Other priests sat about in conversation or study while others practiced incantations or conceived of rituals. Abraham sat alone in a corner chair, reading the newspaper by the morning light. The swish of Stanton’s skirt as she moved toward him brought him out of his perusal, “Guten tag, Fräulein Stanton.”

 

“Good day to you, Johannes,” she said, “You’re not in the lab today.”

 

“No, the lighting in the library was so pleasant today I couldn’t resist. Have you read the paper today yet?”

 

“No,” Stanton said, understanding Abraham’s meaning immediately, “so, it’s happened then.”

 

Abraham didn’t answer, but instead turned the newspaper over to the section he had just read to show her the caption:

 

 

Prominent Doctor, Edward Henry Winscomb,

Mysteriously Murdered, Police Baffled

 

 

“I wish we could have told him,” Stanton said.

 

“One door closes, another opens,” Abraham replied.

 

“Meaning?”

 

“As the paper reads, Winscomb died under mysterious circumstances. The Order wants an investigation into the matter.”

 

Stanton read the paper, “Blood loss...puncture wounds? Johannes, has this been verified?”

 

“The papers say it is the work of a deranged maniac, however the coroner interviewed is a member of the Order. He has used the usual methods to test the body and confirms the account’s veracity. There is a vampire afoot in London and since Winscomb was our last client, it has fallen on us to investigate.”

 

“I’ll go get changed while you get the stakes and the holy water,” Stanton said with a smile.

 

 

 

Afterward

 

 

It has long been my intention to try my hand at a steampunk/horror tale. If one reads between the lines, it’s easy to see elements of Ghostbusters within the pages (the title being a Victorian equivalent of “Who You Gonna Call?”;), along with a smattering of my other inspirational authors, Ann Rice and Jim Butcher. This is my first foray into the steampunk genre and it is my great hope that it is an enjoyable one.

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"Feeling grateful to Bill Bodden, who has donated to keep https://steampunkwriters.ning.com/ online for another year! Thank you so much, Bill!"
Jun 13
Lia Keyes posted a status
"Delighted to announce that https://steampunkwriters.ning is now SSL certified. #steampunkchat"
Jun 6
Lia Keyes posted a status
"Huge thanks to Gaslamp Used Books for their donation towards keeping SWAG online! You're amazing!"
Jun 5
Lia Keyes posted a status
"Thanks to donations from angels like Shirley Hailstock, we are looking healthier this evening than we did this morning. Hugs to Shirley!"
Jun 5
Lia Keyes posted a status
"Huge thanks to Scott Kinkade for his donation towards SWAG's continuation! Huge hugs to you!"
Jun 5
Lia Keyes posted a status
"We're still in need of donations to enable necessary updates to the site to improve your experience here. Any & all donations are valuable!"
Jun 5
Lia Keyes posted a status
"Thank you, Jon Decker, for your extremely generous donation, which will keep SWAG going!"
Jun 5
Lia Keyes is now friends with Richard Shayne, Collette Micks, SheriA. Friedman and 3 more
Jun 5

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