Monday, 3 February 2014

Mothballs: The Resurrection of Frank Clarkson

It had started with a pair of scissors, or primordial soup if you want to be pedantic. The scissors had cut a red ribbon. The red ribbon had fallen to the flash of magnesium. The man in the top hat had pushed open the door. The door had opened and people had walked around, amazed. The next day, workers had flooded through those doors. Lots of pieces of metal were sent around the factory. And then a gun fell off the production line. Mr Jeremy Parker of Sipple Row bought it, and played with it in a field. Word spread. It was apparently the best gun you could get. Everyone wanted one. Almost everybody got one.
Mr Billy Lauridsen had bought one on the fourth of January 1901. He'd moved to London from Denmark twenty three years ago, and since then had become increasingly depressed. And now he couldn't stand it anymore. When his children found his corpse, there wasn't much left. That was what forty four calibre guns did.
Then his widow started to become depressed. Off to the opium dens she went. And so, number twenty nine Grimmer Place was abandoned, derelict and demolished. Or so everyone thought.

Verity Laurisden was six years old, and she had a pet cow. He was called Sebastian, and needed to be walked daily. They'd set off walking at six o clock that morning and, as with each journey, she'd ended up riding the cow home. They were just walking up the path towards the door of twenty nine Grimmer Place when the clock rung a loud chime around the city. Verity wasn't an idiot, so she knew that it had chimed three times since she'd set off. That meant it was nine o clock. Time was important to her late father. Time is the key, he used to proclaim. She pushed the door open and the cow trotted onto the path. She climbed off him and walked over to the ring that hung from the broken rafters. There was no roof, just a few plates of wood with canvas strewn over them. There also no floor from the front door step, so it was essential you pulled the ring that hung from the broken rafters. It pulled a lever that slid several wooden planks across the large gap in the floor. They walked across the temporary bridge and on the surviving elements of the house, and the bits her brothers had helped make. A single tiny hallway, with greying walls, led her to the main room where her brothers ate. Her eldest brother, Septimus Claret Laurisden was twenty one, with a jutting chin, uncut hair and overalls. He wore welding goggles and always had a tool near him, unlike her other brother, Aksel. He liked animals, it was him who had bought Sebastian, in exchange for some beans, and was very good at cooking. He was also good at chemistry, but that very rarely came in handy.
She sat down, leaving Sebastian to graze on the grass they'd been growing, and took up the summary of the newspaper Aksel, who was fourteen, wrote up for her everyday. Nothing interesting was happening.
Septimus started tinkering with his fog watch. It didn't work properly, the cogs were out of place due to the blast of the forty four calibre bullet. It had been his fathers, who got it from his father and so on. It hadn't told the time since seven fifty three pm on the Fifth of January 1901.
"I hate this!" Shouted Sebastian, spitting out the grass he'd been drinking. "It's so boring."
Aksel stepped away from where he had been attaching the voice simulator to the family cow.
Septimus turned to his younger brother. "I wish you hadn't attached that thing to him, Aksel! It's such a pain having to listen to his sarcastic comments!"
Aksel walked over. "I don't see why no one else finds a talking cow interesting!"
"Because he's annoy," Verity started, being confused over the words. "ing. An-noy-ing."
Sebastian stared at the girl. "I carry you around town for three hours every morning, and you say I'm annoying!"
"You give me a tour of everywhere!" She really emphasised the 'everywhere' with gestures. "Even the places you don't know!"
Sebastian was just about to reply when they heard a chime. It was the envelope box chime. Aksel went off to get whatever had been put through the envelope box, that shouldn't have been put through it. He came back, carrying it. It was a brown paper parcel, tied neatly with white string. He placed it down on the table. It was unusual that a confused letter boy would post something to them, instead of next door, which had been given the title of twenty nine Grimmer Place.
Septimus took his pliers from his belt and snapped the string bow. It fell apart and left the paper ready to open. They unwrapped it, curiously, the paper falling pleased as a foot high box sat in the centre of the table in the oval room they called home. Verity reached to the lid and took it off, revealing the mysterious contents. It was a flyer. 'Madam Bazarians Seances, feel the return of past lives in Madam Bazarians magical service.'
Seances happened all the time in their city. But the next line was different. 'For the first time ever, not just the spirit will return. So will the body.'
Septimus smiled at the way Verity was reading it. At the age of six, it was really quite amazing she could read at all, never mind so well!
Sebastian trotted over to the table and started gnawing on the tablecloth. Verity brushed him off and handed the flyer to Aksel. The animal lover turned it over, peering at the writing on the back. It said some simple words. "How long has your house been in Mothballs? Make sure you're there because the Mothballs are going to blow away."

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