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Sweet Sabotage

Underby bent over and dropped a dollar coin into the hand of Urchin Bill, then swiftly cuffed him on his ear as he turned to run up the stairs. The child looked back with wide eyes, holding his reddening earlobe; his bottom lip quivered slightly. The tall gaunt wraith glared at him with the strange goat eyes. With a swift jerk, Urchin Bill bolted toward Clockhaven. Children are uniformly dreadful, Underby thought, turning.

Underby walked back inside the Bucket, wiping his hands on his trousers. Urchins were invariably sticky. The sweet mingled smell of alcohol, tobacco smoke, and blood filled the air, he breathed it in deeply… it was good to be alive. Pip hummed an eerie off-tune song around his pipe as he polished a glass slowly behind the bar.

Mr Underby leaned on the wall, watching the small man for a few moments. Pip stopped, without turning. ‘wot is it then?’ he asked.

Underby smiled. Wiping the corner of his mouth, he asked: ‘Are you still looking for revenge against the Macbain woman, or is your nightly wall symphony satisfying enough?’

Pip turned around on his heels in a swift manner completely unnatural to living beings. ‘wot’s going on, mm?’

‘I have word that Miss Macbain leaves on an airship tonight.’

Pip stared from beneath the brim of his tophat. ‘issat so?’

‘It is.’ Underby said, and lit a cigar. ‘It would certainly be a shame if something were to happen to her… well outside the city.’

Pip stared still.

Underby smiled, and exhaled into the air. ‘Difficult to find help, one would imagine.’ he added.

Pip tossed his rag on the bar, ripped off his apron, and ran up the stairs behind the bar. Underby, still smiling, sat down at the bar and poured himself a tall glass of Hot Nemo. ‘Such a pity,’ he said to himself, and raised his glass in the air. ‘To Miss Macbain, may she learn who is worth crossing, and who is not.’

Underby drank.


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