. The Beautiful One Has Come
The rock walls forming the natural limestone caverns beneath the streets of Clockhaven had an unusual property about them in that some contained a phosphorescence that filled their particular subterraneum halls with a luminosity that was almost otherworldly.
The caverns beneath the Dunsany Institution for Social Control, extensively excavated over the years to create a series of connected chambers, glowed with the eerie phosphorescent substance. Here beneath the streets was Joseph’s true office and library—filled with an eclectic mix of leather bound tomes; the classics, philosophy, world religions, science—it was all there, more books than could be read in a lifetime.
Standing in such a wonderful library evoked a sense of self-reflection in Nelly Faulkner leading her to consider how she felt about the recent sequence of events that brought her to this underground palace— fascinated? awestruck? she was never one to ever clearly define her emotions. At her side she held a vicious creature by a chain and somehow it remained docile. That made her feel excitement, of that she was sure; a doubly thrilling emotion because she so rarely felt it.
“Why doesn’t she eat you?” Nelly asked
“I am her father; she obeys me,” Joseph replied with a note of distraction as he leaned in to perform a cursory medical exam on the small, vile looking creature that somewhat resembled a child. “I don’t believe she is the one that killed Mrs. Chandler. Note the face and hands.”
“She should have dried blood caked all over her,” said Nelly.
“Correct,” Joseph replied. “We will let her go.”
Nelly looked about again, trying to commit every detail of these underground rooms to memory before being compelled to return to her cell in the laboratory up above. “Who was that woman?” she asked, pointing to a colourful bust atop a marble pillar.
“That was Queen Nefertiti, the beautiful one,” said Joseph. “She lived over three thousand years ago. My father acquired this bust on one of his many forays out east.”
“She must have been powerful if people still speak her name.”
“It was a better time,” Joseph nodded. “A time when power was absolute and those with a vision could impose their wills upon the rest.”
“Do we have to go back up above?” asked Nelly. “It is much nicer in this library than in that dingy laboratory.”
“We must,” Joseph replied. “There are many of her kind in these caverns and I know not how they will react with so many people at the institution. Already I see evidence of more incursions into these upper levels than is typical. Also, some of our guests in the Dunsany Institution are already suspicious of my work. I must return to monitor and control the movements of everyone staying at the facility to ensure investigative curiosity does not disrupt the balance.”
“What about her? Can I keep her?” Nelly asked looking at the creature. She found a certain fascination with its misshapen features. “I want to draw her picture.”
“You are more than capable of drawing your picture from memory,” Joseph replied even as he was unlocking the collar that bound the creature by the neck. “The light hurts her eyes. This one is better suited to the deeper, darker caverns.”