Author’s note: After a few of you had said how much you enjoyed the London Fog post I did, I thought I’d introduce you to a secret. I’ve been working on a Steampunk novel which is provisionally titled Britannia Unleashed. Mortimer Headlock is one of the main characters that will run through a selection of intertwined stories. I just wrote this in the style of the former post to give you a taster. I hope you enjoy it.
It did no good to reveal oneself along the harbour front, undesirables roamed like packs of wild dogs and I was not about to do something irreconcilably stupid. Life expectancy for my profession was already short enough, and I had no intention of making it shorter.
I inched my way along the dark, dank warehouse wall until turning up Beggar’s Alley. Why the lane had such a cheery name, I never knew, because Alley of the Eternally Damned would’ve been far more appropriate. I shivered, and not because of the midnight fog, rather, those cloying remains of the deaths that haunt such places. Pulling up the collar of my trench coat, I moved on stifling the desire to retch.
The familiar incline of the alley made a devil of the sodden cobblestones and I cursed beneath my breath at the incessant slipping of my leather-soled feet. If truth be known, I made barely a whisper, but Beggar’s Alley had a way of making one feel somewhat more conspicuous than normal.
All lay smothered in a layer of grey gloom. I saw nothing, heard nothing, not even the slapping of the Thames on the boardwalk; all was still as the grave. Then, in a reminder of someone more famous than I once declaring — let there be light — there was.
It was an eery introduction to a domain one would rather have avoided, those lanterns flickering like bodiless ghosts, just floating about ten feet from the ground, watching, always watching. I moved from one light to the next, the prior smothered by the London fog almost the moment I stepped away from it. And thus I progressed, one disembodied guardian of the night at a time.
Investigatory situation aside, this was one of the cases that I, Mortimer Headlock, had wished he’d never accepted. Though to be fair, when Her Majesty Queen Victoria, Queen of England and Empress of India, decreed such things, one had little choice but to accept.
If Sir Magnus Monk, slave to Alunia that bitch from another world, heard the workings of my inner mind, they were not acknowledged in auditory form, just in the shivering lantern lights. I felt them in my soul.