I sit here in my robe and lounging clothes after a long and intense bath. Not only is Vernian Sea water rough on the skin, but New Babbage lube can make the process of cleansing even more arduous; especially with a lacerated foot.
I had heard of the poor unfortunate fellow killed in the trolley accident in the Academy of Industry district, not far from my home. The hospital he was taken to is right next to my home, I could not help but note the incident. As I was unfamiliar with the poor man, I thought to stop by the Militia Office, hoping they might have some information on him. I did not know what I could do, but I felt compelled to at least try something.
When I arrived at the Militia Office, there was no one there. I looked around the building; apparently no one had been there for at least a few hours. The teapot was cold. Looking for some documentation or at least a clue concerning the recent death, I took the liberty of looking through a few documents sitting in plain sight on Captain Undertone’s desk. The first few I stopped reading once it became obvious to me it had no bearing on the incident I was interested in. But then, I came upon a note from Ms. Bookworm Heinrichs.
The note stated something about going to Dr. Obolenski’s observatory to search for evidence, and for him to stop by her apartment at the Mechanix Arms to talk. She also stated that if she was not there, she might need help.
I set the brief note back down on the desk and continued my search, thinking, “She’s just going to the observatory, what could possibly go wrong…”. I stopped, and a cold shiver went down my back, as if someone had just walked upon my grave…
I made my way, with all due haste to Ms. Heinrichs apartment and knocked repeatedly and loudly upon her door. There was no answer. I thought to myself, “What has that poor woman gotten herself into?” I ran to the closest dock granting me a view of the observatory and stared at it a few moments. I looked around, hoping in vain to find an unattended boat nearby. I had no such luck.
I estimated the distance to the observatory. A good swim; I had traversed greater distances in my younger days in the Navy. Surely I could do this. I took off my jacket and removed my shoes as I started taking deep breaths. I looked out accross the water to the small island, ignoring the intervening distance, and dove into the cold water.
I focused on remembering my times swimming all those years ago. Finally, I had reached the rocky shores of Doctor Obolenski’s island observatory. I paused for several moments, gulping large quantities of air. It has been years since I had done that, I am too out of practice. Finally, I was able to make my way around to the entrance of the observatory. I went in, looking cautiously around. I saw one of those strange bees buzzing about, but saw no apparent source of oil….strange.
Seeing nothing that struck me as odd, I took the lift up to the next floor, and looked; nothing suspicious. I did the same for the third and fourth floors as well and found nothing; no sign of foul play, no sign of Ms. Heinrichs. I looked out the windows of the observatory, perhaps he had her hanging by her toes from the top of the building, but again, I saw nothing. I made my way back down to the ground floor…
Again, I search desperately for some clue, some sign, something out of place…nothing but a can of…..wiggyfish? “Since when has Dr. O acquired a taste for…”. I quickly examined the can and found it, instead housed a button activated mechanism. I pushed the button…
And immediately, the middle of the floor opened up revealing a set of spiral stairs leading to a secret lower level! Despite his ethics, I must grant the man his genius. I descended the stairs quickly, and was shocked to see the largest bee, outsizing a man by five times. “The queen no doubt,” I thought to myself. My mind was racing; I looked around to see swarms of smaller bees all around the place, and then, I was shocked to see Ms. Heinrichs inside some sort of glass vatt, up to her chin in oil.
Frankly, I was in shock. I honestly did not expect anything like this. I ran over to the glass paneled container holding Ms Heinrichs, desperately looking for any kind of knob or latch which might open the thing. I found none.
She was conscious, fortunately. I shouted to her through the glass, “How do I get you out?”. She responded “I don’t know!”. I looked at the container and could think of only one way, break the glass. Surely, this must be a thick reinforced industrial glass, not so easy to break…
I remembered back to my younger days in the service. My friend Chaz and I would frequently spar in the officer’s gynmasium. He would often demonstrate techniques and teach me maneuvers he had learned in the Far East. And I remember how he taught me to break boards with my bare hands and feet. I paused and calmed myself, focusing my mind on the task I had to complete, and focusing my energies, as Chaz had taught me. I envisioned myself completing the task, over and over again,..
My left foot was slightly numb as I pulled it from the broken pane of the container. I swept away the remaining broken glass as oil poured out, and I helped Ms. Heinrichs out of the container. Fortunately, she has maintained a trim figure, otherwise she would not have been able to squeeze through.
She warned me that the bees might attack at any moment. I agreed, and told her firmly, “Go!”. She made her way up the stairs as best she could, trailing oil all the way. I followed after her, using both my feet and hands to get up the stairs. Once up, I pushed the button in the can of wiggyfish to close the access to the lower level, hoping that might hold off the bees for a moment.
I realized at this point how ill-conceived my rescue attempt was. I had no boat to bring her back with. I asked if she could swim. She replied that she had a row-boat, but after several step, she saw that the boat she had brought with her was no longer there. Swimming was our only way off the island.
We swam back to the city; Ms. Heinrichs adopted a backstroke approached which made it easier for me to help her along. Finally, we reached the docks in Port Babbage. I helped her out of the water, and we both rested for a moment, catching our breath. After a while, I suggested that we go back to her apartment so that she could change into clean, dry clothes. I followed her back now noticing the cut on my foot as i left a slight trail of blood along the way.
Finally, we made it back to her apartment; I waited outside while she cleaned up and changed clothes. Afterterwards we spoke, and she assured me she was alright. I recommended she stay with friends for the next several nights, it would not be safe for her to stay by herself. And I told her to contact me should she need anything. I apologized for dripping on her carpet, and made my way home, to tend to my own needs.
I could dismiss Ms. Heinrich’s actions as foolish and ill conceived, but the truth of the matter is, I must admire her for her courage and desire to do something about the circumstances at hand. I have heard it said, that “All that is needed for Evil to succeed, is for good men to stand by and do nothing!”
Ms. Heinrichs, you did Good!