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August 13 – Unexpected Preparations

Bookworm Hienrichs sighed.  She *would* have to stay late at the Militia Headquarters the night before her boxing match.  But there was the fact that Mr. Holmes was missing–Dr. Watson had told her earlier in the day, and she’d started some inquiries that she hoped would bear fruit.  She’d also finally received a reply from Falun, asking that she have the body of Mr. Callenby sent back, and she needed to finalize those arrangements.

She sipped her tea, her mind ranging to what would happen tomorrow.  She was *not* looking forward to the boxing match.  While she felt physically fit, and had been trained by Mariah Lanfier in street fighting, boxing was definitely another style of fighting, and one week really wasn’t enough time to learn it.  She just hoped she wouldn’t be too roughed up to heal before her party.

A yawn nearly split her head, and she sipped her tea again, hoping it would wake her up.  The writing on the reports that cluttered her desk began swimming before her eyes, and her head began to droop.  The cup of tea, nearly empty, dropped from her lax hand…

———–

Several minutes later the door to the militia headquarters opened, and a blunt-nosed face wearing a painfully obvious fake beard peered around the doorframe.    Enrico Nom lumbered into the room, wearing a chainmail vest, furry boots, and carrying a horned helmet under his arm.   He looked at Book’s unconscious form for a full minute before stepping over to the desk and poking her shoulder roughly.  Nodding to himself, he put the helmet on his head, and with no apparent effort, hoisted Bookworm over his shoulder, and carried her out to the street.

Just outside, a small lorry waited, with “Nom, Nom, & Nom Confectioners” emblazoned on the side, except “Confectioners” had been hastily crossed out, and “Morg Pick Up and Dillivery” written underneath.   Enrico looked up and down the street before tossing the unconscious Bookworm into the back of the truck, and then climbing up inside himself, and closing the door.

A medical exam table practically filled the back of the truck, leaving little room for Mister Nom, who shifted Bookworm onto the table before nodding at the other occupant of the truck, the notorious Doctor Obolensky.

“So pleasant to see you again, Miss Hienrichs!”, he said to her unconscious form.  “I see you’ve been sampling your usual blend….or at least, what you *thought* was your usual blend.”, the old man chuckled, and strapped her to the table before lowering an oversized helmet over her head.
“What’s that you say?   You’d like to be the subject of a highly risky experiment that will either drive you mad, or ensure your victory at the boxing match tomorrow?   Why I believe I can help you there.”  The Doctor flipped a switch, and the machinery hummed to life.

“Curnick!” gasped the unfortunate under the helmet.  “We meet again!”

Doctor Obolensky nodded.  “Yes, yes, I’ve heard it all before.   By the way, Mister Nom… is there a reason *why* you’re dressed as a viking?”.

“I’m in disguise, Boss!”, replied the goon, proudly.

 

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——–

Bookworm woke with a start, feeling a rather monstrous ache in her head.  How long had she been asleep?  She glanced at her watch–with the Clockwinder still “indisposed,” she trusted it more than any of the clocks around.  It looked like she’d been asleep for about three hours.  Her hand groped on the desk, looking for…something…but what?  Finally, she shook her head.

‘If no one’s come around by now, they won’t be here tonight,’ she thought.  ‘Best go home and get some sleep.’  She scrabbled her papers together, then grabbed her rifle from its corner by her desk, and stood up.  As she passed one of the other desks, she saw something out of the corner of her eye, and without thinking, took it up with her as she walked out the door.

As she walked along the dark streets, her fingers opened the small pouch, removing some of its contents and packing them into the bowl expertly.  She took out a match, struck it, and held it to the bowl, drawing in a breath to get the contents smoking.  Then she took a deep lungful–

And immediately coughed it out again.  She stopped abruptly, looking at the pipe now in her hand.  ‘What in the world am I doing?’ she thought, bewildered.  ‘Why am I trying to smoke a pipe?’  She knocked the contents of the pipe out into the street, then continued on, planning to return the pipe and tobacco pouch to their owner tomorrow.  Tonight, she just wanted to get home and sleep, and hopefully shed her headache before the morning.

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4 Comments

  1. Bookworm Hienrichs Bookworm Hienrichs August 14, 2011

    Bookworm woke the next morning with her headache, thankfully, well abated, though not completely gone. She dressed and went down to breakfast, eating rather abstractedly, her mind on the upcoming match of the evening. She walked from the dining room to the main room, noting the presence of the pipe and tobacco pouch on the table by the front door, ready for her to return to Militia Headquarters.

    Settling down on the couch by the fireplace, she stared into the fire, brooding. After a few minutes, she inhaled deeply…and began coughing again. The pipe, filled with tobacco, was back in her hand.

    ‘Why do I keep doing this?’ she wondered in complete bewilderment. She emptied the pipe out into the fireplace–and immediately wished she hadn’t, as the strong tobacco scent filled the room. Mrs. Pritchard, the housekeeper, hurried in, wrinkling her nose at the smell.

    “You’d better open a window and air the room out, Mrs. Pritchard,” Bookworm said. “I’m…I’m going out for a while.” She quickly grabbed her bag and left, stuffing the pipe and pouch inside it, intending to return them to their rightful owner immediately.

    And yet, she somehow didn’t get around to it. She wandered through the streets of New Babbage for hours, seemingly mindlessly, and yet with a motive that never quite made its way into her consciousness.

    Finally, though, as she passed a pawn shop, something in the window caught her eye. She went inside, bought it, and hurried home.

    A couple hours later, Mariah entered the main room. “Oh! I didn’t know you played the violin,” she said, breaking into the music.

    Bookworm looked at the violin and bow in her hands, then back at Mariah. “I…” She couldn’t finish her sentence. She had no idea what to say.

    “Well,” Mariah continued. “It’s early for supper, I know, but you should eat something before your match. Come–I made sure Mrs. Sawyers made something that will help you keep your energy up. Plenty of protein.”

    Bookworm set down the instrument carefully, as if she thought it might explode, and wordlessly followed Mariah into the dining room.

  2. Tepic Harlequin Tepic Harlequin August 15, 2011

    oh no! errrr….. i think Miss Bookworm may have discovered a certain missing person…..

  3. Orpheus Angkarn Orpheus Angkarn August 15, 2011

    my thoughts exactly! I suppose that explains the goofy hat I saw here wearing the other day….

  4. Gabriell Anatra Gabriell Anatra August 15, 2011

    Indeed. The game seems to be afoot.

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