“Oh my gods, Lapis!” sighed Emerson Lighthouse with great exasperation. “It’s only been how many hours now… and already you are driving me crazy.” The two men, along with Junie Ginsburg and Captain Maynard Quinn, sat around the galley table aboard the magnificent sub-aquatic vessel The Leviathan’s Bane.
Lapis seemed to shrug off Emerson’s rhetorical complaint as if it were merely some piece of soot which had landed upon his shoulder from above. After an uncomfortably lengthy silence he asked, “To which ‘gods’ are you referring Mr. Lighthouse? I’m curious. Enlighten me please.”
“Oh come on Lapis, there will be time enough for that discussion later, if you know what I mean,” said Emerson. “But first things first; we seem to have a stowaway on board. It is the only explanation for why so much food is mysteriously disappearing.” Emerson looked at Junie and winked.
“I’m sure there are other explanations,” Lapis replied. “For example I’ve observed that you, Mr. Lighthouse, seem quite prone to raiding the ice box at various times… perhaps to satisfy a sudden craving. I’m willing to bet that explains a great deal of the missing food right there.” Lapis furrowed his brow before adding, “besides, how much food could be missing? We’ve been underway less than a day.”
“All right then,” conceded Emerson, “forget the food evidence. Just take a look at ART Hoo though.” He indicated the small clockwork owl merrily bleeping away across the room. “For crying out loud, Lapis! I left him alone in this room for less than ten minutes with nothing more than a simple screwdriver and when I came back he’d been all remodeled. How do explain that?”
“Oh, yeah…” Junie murmured to herself as she leaned in close to focus on the ART Hoo Unit. Then she asked, “what’s wrong with his mouth?”
“He’s got fish lips!” replied Emerson. “I mean who ever saw an owl with fish lips? It’s ridiculous.” Emerson paused for a moment before adding, “speaking of lips… that is a nice shade you are wearing, Miss Ginsburg… a great match to your hair I might add.”
“Why thank you, Mr. Lighthouse,” replied Junie as she held Emerson’s stare.
Captain Maynard made a sour expression. ““Would you two try to limit that a bit? Need I remind you that until we reach the shores of New Nublar, we are all confined to the rather tight quarters of this sub aquatic vessel?”
Emerson broke his gaze with Junie and glanced across the room. He then shook his head and shot Lapis the dirtiest look he could muster when he saw the brother nodding in exaggerated agreement to the captain’s admonishment.
“I think Emerson has a point,” said Junie, returning everybody to the topic at hand. “When I was in my cabin getting changed earlier, I kept thinking I could hear someone, or something, running through the passageways. At one point I swear I heard that someone or something listening at my chamber door… as if they had their head pressed right up against it.”
Lapis looked over at Emerson with an inquisitive expression to which Emerson shook his head and mouthed the words ‘not me.’
Captain Maynard glanced at Lapis and said, “I’m sorry, Brother, this time I’m going to have to side with those two.” He cocked his head towards Emerson and Junie. “I think we have ourselves a little stowaway to take care of.”
Lapis nodded. “The evidence would seem to indicate that possibility.”
“A thorough search of the vessel is in order.” said Captain Maynard.
Emerson, Junie, and Brother Lapis made their way down the dimly lit passageway. All was silent but for the sounds of the ship, the echo of their footsteps and the occasional conversational exchange.
“Hey, I was just struck with a thought,” Emerson said.
“Apparently not hard enough,” said Lapis.
After a few moments, Lapis spoke again. “Well? Are you going to enlighten us or keep us guessing?”
“If I tell you, you’ll think I’m paranoid,” said Emerson.
“If you don’t tell me I’ll know you are paranoid,” Lapis responded.
“Well, what if the stowaway is a serial killer? Or perhaps even some kind of alien-like monster? It could be stalking us right now through the bulkheads. It will start picking us off one by one as we get separated from one another and then taunt and terrorize the rest of us with gruesome scenes of bloody body parts and psychological mind games. In the end Junie and ART will be the only two left alive on the ship. The monster stalks Junie throughout the ship until finally, looking determined and all sweaty she uses herself as bait to lure the alien, into one of the sub’s airlocks; then through trickery and cunning, she manages to lock it in the air chamber before throwing the switch and watching with grim satisfaction as the creature is blown deep into the ocean. She then strips down to her undergarments and wanders around the ship looking all forlorn before crawling into her bunk with ART Hoo for the remainder of the voyage to New Nublar. Is that paranoid?”
There was a stunned pause.
Finally, Lapis spoke. “No, that’s not paranoid,” he assured Emerson. “That’s just old-fashioned crazy.”
Suddenly they were interrupted by a distinct yet muffled thump which came from behind a small door leading to one of the galley’s storerooms. The unexpected sound interrupted the discussion as all three investigators stopped… listening. For the first time there really was a sense of silence. Even the ship seemed to be holding its breath in nervous anticipation. From a distance of about ten feet, they watched as the handle of the small door slowly began to turn. The sudden click as the latch released made Emerson and Junie jump. Slowly, the door began to open.
“Bugger! You startled me!” said the wild-eyed and excited urchin as he stepped from the shadowy passageway.
“It’s that Gadget kid who’s been jumping around Wheatstone all week!” said Emerson. “What’s his last name again?” he asked, looking around the room.
“Looks like we got ourselves some scullery service,” said Captain Maynard, entering the room and regarding Gadget with a steely stare.
“As long as scullery involves tending bar,” said Emerson.
“Gadget,” said Junie with a touch of concern, “have you been in there all this time?”
“I was miss…” Gadget affirmed, sounding none the worse for wear, “what with all the absinthe and dancing last night I musta wandered in an’ fell asleep behind some crates on my way ‘ome… but bugger if I weren’t alone in there.”
Just then a second figure stepped from the passageway. At the very moment of recognition Emerson called out “Shoot him Lapis! Now! Don’t waste a second!”
“Are you daft?” shouted Captain Maynard. “Never shoot a gun on a sub-aquatic vessel!”
Lapis pulled his dagger and stepped forward. The dark figure was quick and clearly not bound by Captain Maynard’s rules of submersible combat. The figure stepped forward, taking aim at Lapis with a Navy Colt. Whether Lapis could have disarmed the intruder before being fired upon was anybody’s guess. Before he had a chance, quite suddenly, a single shot rang out!
Emerson’s jaw dropped as he stared at Junie, who held a smoking revolver in her outstretched hand.
“Oh my gods!” he shouted. “Junie Ginsburg, you killed Petharic!”
Lapis looked at the body. “That bastard.”
((This adventure is very much a group effort, thanks everyone))