This is the first submitted writing chosen by the editorial staff for the Mad Scribblings Development Project.
Written by William Knox Griffin, the story is from the steampunk horror genre. It pits a ‘Time Bounder, (Cole Wessex) against a Springheeled Jack in Victorian England. It features cross dressing ‘mollies’, a little explored urban folktale monster, a controversial slave relationship and a groundhog day form of time travel performed by the title character. In short all the things missing from our lives.
What follows is a character and setting sketch introducing us to several of the main characters in the story, which is where the development process will begin.
Coleridge Beaumont Wessex stood in the crumbling brick entrance of an alley that he already knew was a wrong turn.
The mixture of mud and animal shit caking his boots only got deeper once he walked into the threshold and already the iron sick smell of the syphilitic whores blood was sifting through the vomitous smells of the street. There was no sign of her violated body as yet, but he knew that octopus like splay of her intestines and internal organs was spread out onto the muddy alley trash heaps like an intricate red flower.
He pulled his perfumed cravat closer to his face and tried to breath without gagging.
Where was Darden, he wondered, hoping that his competent friend would not lurch into sight with that damned lamp and alert anyone else to their presence.
Miss Polly Downlea waited with a noticeable lack of patience for Lavinia’s much too anticipated return.
Really she was beyond belief.
Lavinia was nothing more than a common thief and Miss Polly Downlea, for one, didnt care at all who knew that she had the opinion of her.
That and more.
How she had the gall to stand there and pretend that she had discovered the conveniently misplaced and wholly impenetrable carved box that had suddenly placed Cole Wessex into the midst of London’s most recent intellectual controversy.
She had pinched the box, obviously.
Obviously. There were things that one put up with and there were things that one did not put up with.
Miss Polly had no intention of splitting hairs.
The Jack smothered a t of giggles and instead bundled a little closer in the nippy night air of London’s sooty rooftop world. Still slick with the whore’s blood, his hands rubbed sensually against his barely exposed lips and he could smell delightful things in the cold oozy liquid.
Below him in the alley he could see the stylish outline of The Nobby, Cole Wessex creeping blindly through the lightless scene of merriment. Now there was an interesting chappy the Jack couldn’t help but thinking. One could only hope to dance with that Nobby.
Suddenly he remembered the perfect spot hitting bottle of brandy in his long coat pocket. Nip and Tuck, Sip and Pluck, Rip and Suck. Slip and ….giggles bubbled indeed this time.
The Jack took a long fresh sprint and jumped to next roof top, thirty of the Queens feet away from the edge. He landed lightly and the giddy joy of run and jump was too delightful.
His laughter pealed through the night air, chasing him faster and faster away.
The sound of a jolly end’s laughter trickled none too easily into the lane upon which the desecrated body of Miss Amelia Bland, 732 Chatham Street lay in a pool of blood under a spiderweb veil of her own innards.
Cole knew everything he needed.
He drew his revolver, the fancy six shooter his father had had custom made for his grip.
“There aint nothing about nothing on my part,” he announced to any other unseen observers.“Nothing about Nothing.”
He backed out of ankle deep muck and kept an eye on the star backed black outlines of the rooftops.
Cole sprinted through the filthy streets, kicking up unspeakable muck as he ran along.
Darden was nowhere to be found.
He turned from the stark desertion of Chatham onto the boil of activity on Leek.
There was an uproar and drunken fisticuffs exchanging at the door of the Leeking Horse, the most notorious mollie bar of the working class sporting set.
In Charleston, such a place would have resulted in a fire of such apocalyptic proportions as to insure wildly popular support as well as a proper opportunity for picnic style spit roasting.
There were interesting men at the Leeking Horse. The wretched refuse often referred to in American prose could hardly feel matchless inside the stinking snaggletoothed interior. Scum of every description lounged about in varying degrees of physical ruin and remaining bodyparts and competed for the attention of burly working class men dressed in petticoats and frilly dresses.
The Mollies, as they were called, sang bawdy songs and spoke in high pitched obscenely vulgar accents and referred to themselves in the feminine gender.
Cole judged that if there were trying to imitate the habits of women, then theirs must have been hard lives indeed. One wondered how women of such behavior could have induced any sailor in the world into breeding with the sweetest among them.
He supposed that there were always the pirates. Then something really caught his eye.
At the bottom of a very large pile of ferociously angry working class men in horseshit soaked frocks rolling around in the filthy mud with all the gusto of queered farming sows was his man, Darden.
Cole stopped dead in his tracks.
He hated to spoil anyone’s fun.
“Darden!”, he managed, scandalized.
“Darden!, I say, Darden! What in hell’s hot pastures are you doing down there?”
Darden wrenched his head around at the sound of his voice, nearly losing an ear in the process. The look in his eyes was both pained and harrassed. Before he could manage a word, a well executed assault on his midsection prevented any further consideration for Cole.
“Darden!” Cole demanded. “Darden, Now stop mucking around down there, and get your wits about you man, we cant dawdle here all night. Get up from underneath there this instant, if you don’t mind.!”
Whatever Darden had to say to this lost much of its clarity but none of its bitterness in the grunting squealing cursing writhing pile of bloodthirsty mollies.
Suddenly a muffled but no less mistakable gunshot cleared a little silence into the clamour.
Cole waited as patiently as he could.
On the ground, Darden was beginning to make a little headway. There was another cracking gunshot and one of the mollies started screaming with a dreadful din. The general movement of the assault mob away from the dangerously armed body of Darden MacClintock increased until it became a positive frenzy.
From nowhere, a steam locomotive of a lower end yob attacked Cole from behind. Excruciating pain exploded along his back as the ham sized st of a 360 pound ashman connected solidly below his right shoulder.
Half from the force of the blow, Cole spun around to confront his attacker. The unmistakable odor of alley brewed grog poured off of the wretched body like a peafog and the nearly shut heavily lidded eyes didn’t look capable of feeling pain.
Behind the ashman four others were advancing with heavy and serious looking weapons. Cole went down to his leather boots, yanking out a cunningly crafted texan knife and without a single pause plunged it into the gut of the hamfisted heathen.
This seemed to truly agitate the mountain of flesh into visibly opening his eyes. Behind him, Cole sensed that the rout of the mollies was begining to reverse.
Darden, on his feet finally, stood there naked from the waist down, covered in foul street muck, eyes wild with activity and revolver busily pointing in this direction and that. Three mollies looking like the last of pandora’s avenging angels, shreiking rage and wagging filthy fists were beginning to circle.
Without comment on Darden’s attire, Cole tossed him the Texan blade. After all it was obvious that the ashman needed his arguments bullet sized and well aimed. The Ashman, brick seeming to materialize in his hand from nowhere swung the damn thing directly at Cole’s temple.
Cole ducked successfully and kicked with all his might into the spot on the creatures gut which had so recently hosted his blade.
At this, the ashman began to vomit wretchedly.
He doubled over onto the street and enormous gobbets of undigested mutton soaked in bile and grog began to force themselves through his gobbet. The effort to choke themselves out onto the street seemed in danger of splitting the man’s throat open.
Cole managed the revolver out and open for business.
Sally Pinkbottom, the hairiest ape in a dress ever to fancy herself a fair bit of crumpet shreiked suddenly out.
“Back away girls! It’s none other than Mr. Wessex”.
The mollies, to the last one gasped. Without warning, a riot of flight erupted and Cole found himslef alone with the vomiting yob and his man, Darden.
“Do you mind dressing yourself Darden? People will begin to talk”
Darden shot him a glance laden with complex meaning and without further ado, hauled his naked ass down the street into the shadows of Leek Street.
Cole watched with a mix of dismay and satisfaction as a wiry ghost of a shadow took a left on Chatham in the correct direction to 47 Whistlethorpe.
He didnt bother trying to straighten his attire and instead followed the excellent example of the gentleman from Cincinatti.
None of which interrupted the gastric erupting of the vanquished ashman.
Prunella Bohrmann moved as slowly as she could stand and gently pushed back the suffocatingly comfortable goosedown blanket.
Her marriage bed had become a tomb and the snoring walrus of a man sharing it with her was as welcome as the Angel of Death to her marital mysteries: an eternal and ghoulish companion dressed in black whose every word was a source of dread and foreboding.
Hermann Borhmann the celebrated financier was snoring with the sound of a man who is sucking the mucous out of his own nostrils. The sound revolted her nearly as much as the boundless rolls of fat sagging over his thoroughly unwelcome penis. It was like a withered plantain sticking out from a bush of shaggy gray moss and it smelled of old sh and rotten cheese.
She walked to the grand window of their formal bedroom and looked out over the balcony onto her quiet and tastefully appointed street.
She should never have married a German, she thought.
Violetta waited in the squalid little apartment for the return of Amelia. She hated when Meely stayed out with a roger all night, it made her anxious with jealousy and resentment.
Poor Meely. Turning tricks every night to pay their rent.
And rent for what? Two rooms and a half closet?
Violetta sat up in bed, and Mr Clive, their starved pet cat took the invitation to nuzzle up against her. he was so pitiful looking for a little affection that she burst into tears without warning.
Hermann Borhmann’s son Braxton was sturdy stock, his expensive suit told several secret stories to the various domestic help at the Borhmann Summer Residence in tony Picadilly. Braxton was exceedingly well armed, for example. The Borhmann family tailor had come to regard the various secret pockets and seamless underpinnings which Braxton required to conceal over thirty weapons ranging from blades to revolvers to dart guns as a bit of an artistic statement.
Braxton also posessed perhaps the largest pieces of equipment belonging to any of the male scions of the upperclass. Special paddings and restraints had to be designed into the design of each of his pants in order to conceal an alarming bulge that would have been quite unacceptable in sexless society circles. It had been pierced and a fixed with the notorious Prince Albert, the so called ‘gentle mens ring’ so that it could be anchored to a leather strapped that encircled his substantial lower thigh.
Braxton was every inch the pride of his fathers prodigious accomplishments. But there were things his father did not know and definitely would not have approved of.
Braxton was a bit of a sport and loved gambling at mollie houses. What Braxton did not yet know was that his father owned them.
Darden MacClintock toileted in the full luxuries and amenities afforded by 47 Whistlethorpe’s absurdly well appointed guest house.
Oakmoon, an imported young African beauty straight from the grand old state of South Carolina clucked disapprovingly over his sorry state and had graciously helped him to wash. Actually she had done more than that, quite a bit more.
She and Darden had struck up quite an acquaintance since her arrival at 47 Whistlethorpe. Cole’s father definitely had the instincts of an animal when it came to providing hospitality to strangers, but despite the lush abundance of her body, Darden had found himself helplessly drawn to Oakmoon’s straightforward approach to her life. He found the whole matter of her situation disgusting. She stayed despite his offers of purchasing her passage discreetly back to her home. Night times had become a paradise of lustful abandon.
Spent, he slipped into deep sleep surrounded by the luxuries of white silk and chocolate colored velvet skin.
Han Chin Wang dismissed the errand boy and considered the written request. The English were pigs he already knew. Sometime she didnt mind changing their slop dishes, and sometimes it nauseated him. The request in front of him filled him full of a deep and ancient disgust.
He filled a cup of very exotic tea and considered his options.