Thursday, August 2, 2007
The Journey to…the Mysterious Island - Amber's Prologue - Installment One
I groaned in a decidedly unpleasant manner, and threw the blankets over my head, disturbed at the unpleasant feeling of sudden unexpected rays of sunlight stabbing at my sleeping eyes, and the god-awful sound of Millie singing to herself in a raspy, grating voice that only is perfected with the practice of nurturing untrainable vocal chords for 70-plus years. Head still pounding from last night's adventures with the bottle, and something else I still coudn't put my mental fingers on, I rolled over in my bed in disgust.
"Good morning to you, m'lady!" Millie sing-songed, her voice causing my ears to itch as if a dozen fleas decided to take up residence there.
Why I keep the woman I don't know. She can't clean worth a lick, and is a horrid cook. Oh yes, that's right. Some years back, at the Hotel in Steelhead, I had gotten into an Absinthe drinking contest with Lord Bardhaven. Half-way through, we had settled on this bet with a ridiculously high monetary value, to see who can out-drink the other. I was totally stunned that I had actually lost to the man. His constitution far exceeded that which I expected of him, as pale as he always looked. In any event, dear ole brother Gott had just sunk the entire family fortune in a business venture involving the production of gun-powder propelled Hydrogen-balloon airships on the island nation of Zwabalabbaland. One of the local drunken native workers decided to smoke a cigar while sitting on a powder keg and fell asleep. Needless to say, the factory as well the entire island no longer exist and there went $50,000,000 Lindens up in smoke. As poppy was the major cash crop of the island, the plume that arose from that island was soon drifted over another island, getting all the locals there so high as they went on a rampage, and then ran lemming-like over the cliff. In short, I had no money, and Lord Bradhaven insisted that he would be genteel enough as to let me take the hag off of his hands, "as she is quite expensive to room and board," and I would be saving him more money than he would have gained if I actually could pay my debt. So now I was stuck with this pathetic excuse for a maid. I soon found out she was hardly an expense, seeming content to sleep in the cellar and eat the resident vermin there, but her brutish personality and clumsy skills often caused me such consternation as to think Lord Bardhaven isn't as noble as he pretended to be. Sadly, the burden of noblesse oblige settled heavily upon my shoulders, and as I can't bear the thought of sending even the most villainous of souls out in the streets homeless, I was stuck with the cretinous servant till such a time availed of itself whereas I could pawn her upon some unwitting person. Hmmmmmm. Colonel O'Toole is in need of a new servant. Maybe I can challenge him to an Absinthe duel...
It was senseless trying to sleep any longer. Millie was hovering over my bed, prattling some nonesense about "Phillip." I opened my eyes, and there she was, her one good bulbous eye nigh unto popping out of its socket, all pale and glazed over, peering at me. Her other eye was missing, the skin over its former home sewn tightly shut. How she lost I don't know, and didn't want to ask. I always suspected though that one of her meals was still alive while she tried to eat it, and bit back. She grinned at me, well if you could call the peculiar way she contorted her mouth a grin. She had less teeth than a viper, and the one she did have was jagged and stained an odd greyish blue colour. Her hunched body was literally hopping up and down from foot to club foot in manic glee, her wisps of hair whipping about like Medusan adders, wringing her gnarled fingers together nervously.
"Wake up, m'lady, wake up!" she croaked, her fetid breath washing over my face as she leaned in close to me, "It's Phillip! Phillip is here!"
My internals heaving nauseously, I decided to close my eyes again, and threw the covers over my head for good measure. Goddess, I drank too much last night, and this wasn't helping me any.
"What nonsense are you talking about Millie?", my muffled grumbles enquired of her, "Is King Phillip Linden coming to Caledon for a visit? If it is to him you are referring, you will use the proper address of royals!"
"Noooooo, m'lady, Phillip...", she ended her statement with a shriek of fear. The cause of her terror-laden wail was the same cause that had me suddenly jolt upright in bed, the blankets and sheets sliding off my naked body. Because at that very moment the whole house shook violently. Even though it was a clear day, it suddenly got darker as a black roiling cloud passed over the face of the sun. Goosebumps covered my flesh, and my skin tightened in the most inconvenient of places, considering the circumstances. Feeling Millie's leering gaze upon my body like rancid oil sliding over me, I quickly pulled my blankets back up over my body.
"what in blazes was that!?" I tremblingly asked.
"Phillip, m'lady! Phillip!" she rasped, going back to her hopping about.
Surely the woman was mad. At that moment, the ground shook again, waking up poor Elijah Bastillion. Raivyn Elizabeth slept on, oblivious to the commotion. Elijah on the other hand was now caterwauling, so I directed Millie to bring him to me. Even though Dr. Mason cured both my children of their vampyrism, Raivyn liked to sleep the days away, and Elijah never lost his fangs, and still liked to bite. He especially liked to bite Millie. Which he promptly did when she picked him up. She grimaced but brought him to me nonetheless, knowing I could have quite a temper in the mornings. For some reason Elijah now seemed content, and was smiling and cooing by the time he reached my arms.
I could hear a banging on the door downstairs, so I sent Millie out to see who was so insistently knocking. As soon as she left the room, I arose from bed and put the now content Elijah in his crib, while I got dressed. Looking out the window, I could see that there was alot of smoke in the direction of the Cay. I wondered if maybe the aliens were attacking again. By the time I was dressed, Millie returned, holding an envelope. I proceeded to take it from her, and ordered her to get me a martini. Shaken, not stirred. Extra dry. She would probably mess it up, but I needed a stiff drink. I opened the envelope. It was a telegraph from my Steward, Sir Alex Chadbourne. He urgently insisted I come to the Cay, post haste, as it was an issue of national emergency. The ground shook again, which set Elijah to wailing once more. Sighing deeply, I picked up my bairn and rocked him till he was soothed, awaiting my drink, and pondering what was happening. Earthquakes, black belching smoke, national emergency in the Cay, crying babies, banging headache, and an incompetent maid who was taking way too long to get me my martini. This was going to be one of those days.