Night Work

As Constable Rowan approached the end of Hob’s Lane and turned left into Brewer’s Walk, the warm smell of malt wafted over the wall of the Merton & Son Brewing Company and caressed his nostrils. Their Blackwell Porter was a particular favourite of Sergeant Webb’s, but the scent always reminded him of one of his first cases with the Black Museum, that of the Merton Cask Murders.

He still recalled his sense of horror as he confronted the grinning ape responsible, on the slick tiles of the brewery roof, as it gleefully stuffed another broken and mangled corpse into a barrel. If it had not been for the presence of Sir Aubrey Michaels, the renowned big-game hunter, and his elephant gun, that could have spelt the end of both Rowan’s career and his life.

Rowan turned right past the gates of the brewery onto Blackwell’s main thoroughfare and followed the Blackwell Road until he reached Victoria Circus, site of the Blackwell Police Station and current home of the Black Museum. Dodging amongst the costermonger’s carts and hansoms circling the statue of the Queen, Rowan walked up the steps to the station and stepped into the cool quiet of the interior.

Sergeant Randall was on duty that evening and as it was still early, was catching up on some paperwork before the usual parade of ne’er-do-wells starting filtering in. He nodded to Rowan as he passed through the vestibule and into the station proper, to be confronted by a wicker basket placed in the centre of the corridor, which appeared to be buzzing.

“I wouldn’t touch that, if I were you…” said a voice and Rowan turned to see Sergeant Doyle stepping out into the corridor. His usually pale features were marred by several welts scattered across his face like buckshot.

“What have you got there, Doyle?” Queried Rowan. 

“These little buggers” said Doyle, tapping the basket with his toe, which increased the angry buzzing from within, “are what’s been causing issues over at Pemberton Gardens. Someone reported a fairy ring by the bandstand and it appears that rather than docile little Faeries, it was a bloody Wysp nest. So rather than calm them down, the smoker got them all riled up and the little sods got me good and proper.” Doyle scowled at the basket, “If it had been up to me, I would’ve torched the lot of ’em.”

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Doyle gingerly picked up the basket, after ensuring the catches were fastened.

“If you’re on your way to see the Inspector,” Doyle continued, “watch yourself down by the armoury – Murray and Arkwright are testing their Galvanic Rifle and their aim’s a bit off.”

As Rowan reached the top of the stairs leading to the basement, he heard raised voices.

“There’s nothing wrong with MY design, Murray” snapped Arkwright, “it’s your ham-fistedness that’s causing the issue.”

“And absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the regulator overheating and causing the barrel to yaw?” Said Murray. “Watch…”

There came a crackling sound, a burst of actinic light and the smell of ozone – followed by the tinkling of broken glass.

“There…” said Murray, “definite yawing.”

“You may have a point,” conceded Arkwright, “hand it over and I’ll take a look.”

“Coming through, Gentlemen!” Called Rowan as he cautiously descended the stairs. As he reached the door to armoury, Murray stuck his head out, his face breaking into a grin when he saw Rowan.

“Stanley!” He crowed, “good to have you back. We heard about your encounter – fae women can be a bit of a handful, so glad to see you’re unscathed. Arkwright!” He called, “it’s Stanley.”

“m’busy” muttered Arkwright, tinkering with a long metallic object on his workbench.

“Don’t mind him,” said Murray, “he’s correcting a flaw in his design…”

It’s NOT a flaw!” Shouted Arkwright. Murray winked at Rowan and went back in to help his colleague.

Inspector Neame was busy poring over various reports when Rowan finally reached his office, looking up as Rowan gently knocked on the open door.

“Ah, Constable Rowan,” said Neame, “good to have you back on duty, especially with Moore still recovering from being stabbed.” 

“Thank you, sir, it’s good to be back.” Rowan cleared his throat, “However, I think there’s something we really need to discuss, sir…”

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17 thoughts on “Night Work

  1. Another great instalment Jez, giving a little insight into past exploits, and current minor problems, while carefully leading up to what could be a vital point. Will constable Rowan reveal all to the inspector or just the facts ? Only time will tell

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    • Thanks Dave. I usually have a vague idea of where the story is headimg next, but sometimes surprise myself in the direction it takes. Half the fun is seeing where its heading, the other half finding suitable imsges to illustrate the tale. I’m glad you’re enjoying it.

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  2. I like the meander through the station and especially the Q like encounter (I almost imagine there.. a Victorian James Bond scene, only more League of Extraordinary Gentlemen in style tone – a mix of the two anyway). NOW I want to know abut the case of the Merton Cask Murders and the murderous grinning ape. All these tasty snippets do somewhat feed the appetite. The photos used really add a lot to the unfolding tale and all in all, another great episode.

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    • Thank you, Hils. With this episode, I wanted to provide some additional detail, to flesh out the world I’m building, so as to make it richer. I think it gives a better picture of the Black Museum and introduces some new characters who will no doubt show up again. I also like dropping in details of past cases, as it’s fun coming up with bizarre crimes that the Black Museum has had to deal with. Of course, I won’t be the ONLY person playing in this world, will I Hils? πŸ˜‰

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    • “You are formally invited to contribute to the Christmas extravaganza that will be occurring in the London borough of Blackwell. Appropriate dress is required and please be respectful of the inhabitants. The Black Museum has issued a formal warning that a red-garbed figure has been seen on the rooftops and several young children have gone missing from their bedchambers, replaced in their beds by paper cut-outs. It is believed that the celebrated unnaturalist, Dr. Davis Stone, has been summoned.”

      Happy now? πŸ˜‰

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    • Thank you Michael. I’m having a lot of fun building my world and these little details do tend to make it more ‘real’ to me. And as Hils and Tarot will be providing some additional content, it’s just going to keep on growing.

      As for Sir Aubrey, we will learn more about him as the tale unfolds. I’ve already got some photos I took in Dublin for his townhouse and ‘collection’ and his particular skill set will prove very useful in the near future.

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