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  • Mackenzie O'Rear

Momento Mori

Edited by Brien Bigelow

Illustrations by Lucas Marra

He tried to turn into mist, but the twilight still prevented him. He tried to get up when another shot rang out and hit him in the shoulder. He screamed out in pain, as the window to Maria’s room flung open. Richard stuck his head out and smiled, soon followed by Maria.

‘Vincent?’ Cried Maria. He tried to respond when a small army of plague doctors revealed themselves from the shadows and surrounded him.

‘Cover its eyes!’ shouted Richard. ‘And get him into the transport!’ His vision was soon blocked, as a piece of cloth was tied around his eyes, followed by his being lifted and thrown into what appeared to be a prison wagon. He listened, as what appeared to be pipes soon came to life with running water. He was trapped.

‘You can’t beat me,’ said Richard through the bars. ‘You never will. Can’t use any tricks this time. You lost to a real man.’ Vincent was about to respond, when the horses of the wagon began to trot him away. The last thing he heard was Maria screaming his name in the distance.

The first thing Vincent heard upon waking up was the rush of water all around him. He opened his eyes to see he now occupied an unfamiliar cell below the asylum. The smell of the decayed corpses that were born from him still permeated the air, but they were further away.

It appeared the room he now occupied was new. It was much bigger than the previous ones, almost as cavernous as indicated by the worn-away walls, freshly struck away by the blows of a pickaxe. It was clear they wanted to keep their distance from him, where a small stream kept away the wretches that had been infected with his blood, a ten-foot wide river swirled around him on all sides. They hadn’t even bothered to place bars at the edges, with only a small strip of land on the far side of the room , with a lone door as the only means of exiting and entering the room.

He stood and dusted himself off and began to search himself for the bullet wounds he had received on the rooftops. To his relief, they had both healed with nary a scar to be seen. Even without his consuming blood, he seemed to be rather durable.

‘Ah,’ said a familiar voice. ‘You’re awake.’ Vincent spun round wildly to see Marlowe walk through the door, his hands behind his back and smiling with the same expression a cat would have after catching its prey.

‘Marlowe,’ said Vincent. His eyes began to glow red as he stared into the eyes of the captor. ‘Stop the flow of water and let me leave.’ His demands were met with a small laugh from the older man across the way. Vincent stared at him, confused.

‘It was a bit of a gamble, but I wanted to wager something,’ said Marlowe. ‘You see, I hypothesised your little trick of the mind only worked on those that could be considered to have a weaker will than your own. I am pleased to say I was correct, though the guards were under strict orders to act just in case I wasn’t.’

‘Bastard’ said Vincent.

‘You said it would make me better,’ hissed Vincent. ‘That I would be stronger than before.’

‘I would say I succeeded, said Marlowe, mater-of-factly. ‘To be honest, I was in agreement with Mr. Williams. You weren’t really much of a man. But now look at you.’

Sarah didn’t know what to make of Jack, only that he wasn’t human. Either that or he had been too human for her to comprehend. It was a mystery she had no real interest in, being more preoccupied with the task at hand.

Finn and Sarah had taken temporary refuge in a dilapidated house. They had narrowly avoided the angry mob that had chased them through the streets, set upon them by the mysterious figure that seemed to be plaguing Finn.

When Finn had urged her they needed to leave the city, she had agreed but not before she performed a ritual. She had been dead-set on finding others like them, and she insisted she perform the spell while still within the city where they resided.

‘Isn’t it fated anyway?’ asked Finn. ‘Shouldn’t we cross paths wherever we’re going?

‘It doesn’t quite work that way,’ explained Sarah.’Choice matters. I need to ask the goddess Neith what choices they are most likely to make.’

‘If you say so,’ said Finn, having no idea what she was saying. ‘But the sooner we leave, the better.’ Sarah nodded. She turned back to a make shift they had cobbled together from various pieces loom of junk they scavenged from driftwood and old wagon wheels. The thread she carefully wove into a pattern had consisted of torn-up clothing and horse hair Sarah had managed to weave into spectacular patterns. Colours that could not have been created from the various pieces sprang up out of nowhere to create a beautiful landscape of London.

Two of the threads had been made special, one borne from Sarah’s precious bandages and the hair of the wolf, both dipped in their respective owner’s blood. Those threads that were previously separate now wove together intermittently in the pattern of the city. At one point, they conjoined with two other threads of black and green.

‘There,’ said Sarah, pointing to where the four threads met. ‘Those are our companions.’ She began to tear at them, undoing her work.

‘What are you doing?’ asked Finn. ‘That was a lot of work.’ ‘I need to reweave it,’ said Sarah. ‘To ensure we meet.’ She began to work blindingly fast, as though possessed, creating beyond the visage of London. Soon a mermaid appeared followed by a forest sprung up in the pattern that soon gave way to long stretches of greenery and wildlife. Finn became nervous as he saw more colors surrounding him, one of which happened to be the colour of strawberry blond, much like his sister’s hair.

Separately, another scene took place with the other’s threads. A great ship sprang forth in a deep blue ocean, this one covered by vines and fruit, followed by darkness and a city drenched in blood he couldn’t recognise, only to be followed by what appeared to be a battlefield littered with corpses. Whatever these companions were in for, it wouldn’t be pretty.

‘That is as far as I can see,’ said Sarah. ‘Everything diverges too much after this point.’

‘Is that good or bad? asked Finn.

‘I cannot say,’ whispered Sarah. ‘What concerns me most is this.’ She pointed to a gold thread that seemed to be hidden under many of their own threads. ‘I do not know who this is, but they seem to be watching us.’

‘Are we being watched right now?’ asked Finn. ‘Are they after us?’

‘No,’ replied Sarah. ‘They seem to only be watching for now, though I can’t tell if they’re interfering or not.’

‘This is all very confusing,’ said Finn, scratching his head.

‘The future often is,’ said Sarah. ‘We need to burn this and leave.’ She pulled out a box of matches Finn had swiped from one of their pursuers before they hid and struck it. She lit the tapestry which burned slowly in a blue flame. ‘For Neith,’ she whispered as the flames danced upward. When the tapestry had been reduced to ash, Sarah stood up.

‘Ready?’ asked Finn. Sarah nodded and grabbed his hand.

‘We head east,’ she said, and began to guide through the back streets. They did their best not to be noticed, narrowly avoiding the paranoid citizens of London, until they came to the docks, crawling with people. They stopped in the shadows of one of the buildings and watched.

‘There,’ said Sarah, pointing to one of the ships labeled The Siren’s Kiss anchored in the harbor. ‘The mermaid from the tapestry. It will take across the English Channel.’

‘We’ll need to sneak aboard,’ said Finn. ‘Can’t risk being seen.’ They didn’t need to wait long until an opening had presented itself. They ran aboard and snuck down into the lowest part of the ship with the cargo and hunkered down in the darkness and waited.

They sat in complete silence as the ship began to move after what seemed like hours of waiting. It wouldn’t take long before they reached France, or so Sarah said. The hardest would be hiding at night when the wolf came out, but she assured them they wouldn’t be found, knowing full well it would be a messy exit.

As the sun fell, Finn began his change into the wolf who was none too happy to find it was somewhere confined. It began to growl until Sarah had placed her hand on the beast’s head and sang to it.

‘Soon’ she whispered. ‘Just a little longer.’ The wolf closed its eyes and let the sound of the ocean carry them away. Once or twice, a crew member would come close to their hiding spot, and she had to do everything in her power to prevent the wolf from giving them away. An hour soon passed, and Sarah stood, the wolf following her lead.

‘Now,’ said Sarah, hopping on the wolf’s back. It bounded forward, running through the various layers of the ship and scaring the crew half to death. Many of them would go on to tell the tale of a kelpie of some sort, ridden by a siren trying to drown them or their grandchildren. Others would go on to never speak a word of it.

Sarah and the wolf made their way to the deck of the ship and stared outward. Sarah looked around her and saw the coast of France almost a mile away. She whispered into the wolf’s ear, who bounded off the side of the ship into the water, just as the wits of the sailors began to return to them.

A mile in the water was nothing to the wolf, who paddled fiercely against the rolling waves. Sarah had no fear of drowning, having no lungs to fill with water, but held on tight to her beastly companion’s fur on instinct, never having learned how to swim. They soon reached the shore, where she let out a sigh of relief, as the wolf panted heavily. The wolf soon shook itself it an attempt to stay dry, spraying Sarah with sprinkles of water, causing her to laugh. She patted him on the head.

‘Good job, Finn,’ she whispered. ‘But our journey has just begun.’ She looked out to the wilderness of France, and took a step forward. She remembered always wanting to see Paris before her resurrection, and could barely recall being there when she was a half-made mad spirit. Something excited her about it, and if she still had a heart, it would have been racing with possibilities. She checked her satchel for Finn’s clothing, and her jars before smiling to herself. For the first time, she felt alive, living the dreams she had always wanted, with revenge far out of sight.

The wolf nudged her with its snout, unsure as to why she had stopped. She smiled down at him, causing him to wag his tail, and they were soon off with it carrying her through the woods. Sarah was aware of something horrible awaiting them, but for now she was content with seeing Paris. She leaned forward and held the wolf close and closed her eyes, smiling to herself.

‘I am monster,’ said Vincent. ‘I’m barely human anymore.’

‘I will admit,’ said Marlowe. ‘There are some things about your transformation that hinder its usefulness. For one, I would like to be able to enjoy a nice steak dinner in my immortality.’

‘How do you know that?’ asked Vincent. ‘You shouldn’t have been able to tell that from before.’

‘Like all good scientists and doctors,’ said Marlowe. ‘We experimented on others with your blood, though we never seemed to be able to come close to the success we had with you. Do you know why that is?”

‘Can’t say I do,’ replied Vincent.

‘No matter,’ said Marlowe. ‘We will suss out the secrets soon enough. Those creatures did provide a wealth of knowledge, however. From them, were able to deduce you can’t cross running water for whatever reason. Another little weakness we hope to remove.”

‘I should have hunted you down the moment I escaped,’ said Vincent. ‘I should have ripped your throat out and bled you dry.’

‘Empty threats, my boy,’ said Marlowe, who began to pace back and forth. ‘I still remember the frail little coward who couldn’t pass his surgeon’s examination due to a fear of blood. You had to settle for being an assistant to Bellefonde. How humiliating.’

‘If you are to insult me,’ smiled Vincent, baring his fangs. ‘I assure you that Richard has outclassed you by miles.’

‘Ah, yes,’ said Marlowe, annoyed. ‘Mr Williams does have a knack for such banter. But his real talents lie in hunting. It took all I had to convince him not to stuff and mount your corpse on his wall.’

‘He does a lot of that for you, doesn’t he?’ said Vincent.

‘Oh, yes,’ replied Marlowe, stopping as he looked at Vincent. ‘He is quite the asset to our research, even if one would describe him as unstable. Even at a young age…’ He drifted off as he remembered some of the more violent signs Richard had shown as a child. ‘So many dead animals.’

‘He’s a mad dog,’ said Vincent. ‘He’ll bite the hand that feeds him the moment you turn your back.’

‘Perhaps,’ said Marlowe. ‘But by then, I am hoping we can crack the conundrum of your blood and anything he might try would be a minor inconvenience.’As he turned away, Vincent said something that made him stop.

‘I certainly hope you crack it soon, doctor,’ said Vincent in a whisper that sent a shiver down Marlowe’s spine. ‘After all, I’m not sure you have much time left.’ Marlowe turned around, fury in his eyes.

‘You have no idea what you say,’ he replied. ‘Just another empty threat.’

‘Is it?’ asked Vincent. ‘I can hear so much. Birds chirping from miles away. The passion of lovers in another building. And…I can hear your heart failing you.’ The colour drained from his enemy’s face.

‘You be quiet,’ he said. ‘You fowl thing.’

‘Struck a nerve, have I?’ asked Vincent. ‘I’d say you have maybe a month or two left.

You could always have me turn you, of course.”

‘I would never allow myself to become something so base,’ he replied, offended. ‘You’re far too flawed for my liking.’

‘Do you know what it felt like?’ asked Vincent. ‘Your researchers never asked. It was a slow process, though I’m sure you heard me screaming, as my blood caught fire. I died that day.’ Marlowe took a deep breath. Vincent could hear his dying heart pumping as fast as he had ever heard it, rushing blood through his system, a mixture of fear and anger.

‘I was going to make things easy on you,’ said Marlowe. ‘But now I think starving you is the best option. You won’t die, that we know for sure. But eventually you’ll be too weak to move, and we can take as many samples as we wish. Good evening to you, Mr. Harrow.’ Marlowe turned around and opened the door to the peculiar cell. Before he closed it, he turned around to face his captive.

‘Shall I tell you a secret, Mr. Harrow?’asked Marlowe. ‘It’s about Miss, soon to be Mrs. Bellefonde.”

‘You’re not worthy to say her name,’ spat Vincent. ‘You leave her out of this.’

‘Would that I could,’ said Marlowe. ‘But your obsession with her has proven most useful, so I will tell you this. If you do anything to try and escape…well, death would be a blessing for the poor girl. Good-bye, for now, Mr. Harrow.’ With that, he closed the door to Vincent’s small island of a prison.

Vincent stared at the door for a long while, wishing he could cross the water and break it down. He wanted to run wild and drain every one of the friends who ran the asylum dry of their blood. To hear them scream and beg for mercy.

Alas, the same unknowable force that prevented him from walking into a residence without an invitation could be felt all around him. He sat down on his damp little spit of stone and cursed the world for containing such cruelty, the greed of man for his endless consumption at the suffering of others, and most of all he cursed himself for ever being born, a weak fool who never seemed to learn.

‘Nonsense,’ said Father Grigori. ‘This is utter nonsense.’ He was growing frustrated by Blake’s demands, which were becoming harder to come by. The ritual Blake would perform would take several weeks to get right, and his patience was running thin.

‘You’ll do as I say, or you’ll be sent back to Siberia’ said Blake, staring at Father Grigori with contempt. Father Grigori fumed at his tone. No one talked to him like that, but he had been given specific orders to do Blake’s bidding.

‘Very well,’ said Father Grigori. ‘But I fail to see Flamel’s connection to the book.’ Blake sighed.

‘I told you,’ he said. ‘This is the book that Flamel learned from. It’s the basis of older alchemy.’

’It is irrelevant then,’ said Father Grigori. “We should be focusing on the perfected techniques!”

“Yes,” said Blake. ‘Because that worked out so well for you. Now get back to work, we still need to skin the crocodile.’ Father Grigori relented and grabbed a pair of sheers from the equipment rack before disappearing down the stairs. Blake turned to Frederick, who was sitting back in a chair, lost in thought.

‘How did you ever put up with him?’ asked Blake. ‘He is entirely backward.’

‘We shared a common goal,’ said Frederick. ‘Though I personally believe there’s no such thing as magic.’ Blake laughed.

‘You’ll see soon enough, Baron,’ said Blake. ‘Seeing is believing, after all.’ Frederick sighed. Blake had insisted in calling him by his hated title ever since he arrived. He seemed tone obsessed with nobility, often referring to Father Grigori as ‘commoner’ when he left the room.

It forced Frederick to remember the dilapidated castle in Switzerland that had been so prevalent in his childhood. A crumbling effigy to his family’s failures, with the land long since devoid of any subjects. They had left long after realizing just how little his family had cared for the peasantry. He had even tried to sell the estate at one point, but no one would buy the eyesore.

The only thing good to have come out of his inheritance had been a small fortune, which he had used to fund his experiments and educational expenses. That too, soon dried up when his research had failed to produce anything worthwhile, save for Igor, who had now been unceremoniously cremated and Corrine, who angered him greatly.

He had given her life, and she betrayed him. She should have looked upon him as a god after resurrecting her, and instead, she fled into the night without so much as a thank you. She didn’t even have the common decency to be predictable, having completely avoided her home, as well as that suicidal drunkard that used to be her husband.

None of that concerned him now. He simply wanted his creation back. She had been so perfect, so flawless, he was sure only he could have created her. Science had been halted due to her selfishness, as well as any notoriety he could gain from it. Marlowe wouldn’t resupply him until he could inspect Corrine, as if Frederick’s word weren’t good enough. They needed a living, breathing subject to present to him.

‘Where did you get that book, anyway?’ asked Fredrick. ‘As far as I know, Flamel had no teachers.’

‘You above all should know how alchemists are,’ replied Blake. ‘Stealing from the dead and claiming the knowledge as your own.’

‘I didn’t steal anything,’ lied Frederick. ‘The parts were provided by the asylum and Marlowe. You have any moral quandaries about that, then you can take it up with him.’

‘Not at all,’ said Blake. ‘But to answer your question on where I got it, that’s quite a story.’

‘Did you steal it?’ asked Frederick, half mockingly.

‘On the contrary,’ replied Blake. ‘Although I admit to spending some time and money looking for the tome, that was not how I came about it.’

‘How did you find it, then?’ asked Frederick.

‘One day,’ said Blake. ‘It showed up on my doorstep. Just like that.’ He snapped his fingers.

‘Surely you must be joking,’ said Frederick. ‘Magical and ancient tomes simply don’t fall out of thin air.’

‘I agree,’ said Blake. ‘I think it found me.’ He began to stroke the book, almost lovingly. ‘It knew I was looking for it, so it found its way into my possession. A perfectly preserved copy.’

‘Until your mummy ripped the pages out,’ said Frederick. ‘That must've been unpleasant.’

‘You would know,’ said Blake, stopping his hand over the cover. ‘But why I think you’ll understand the most. More than that commoner. You know what it’s like. To give something life, only to have it betray you.’ Blake’s face twisted in anger as he remembered the empty sarcophagus. The spilt mercury staining the inside. He never figured out where it came from, but if his daughter had an accomplice, they would pay as well.

The truth was, Frederick did know how it felt, but he would never admit it to the sycophant in front of him. He was so sure Blake couldn’t so much as light a fire by himself without setting his whole house ablaze, let alone raise the dead. Not like he could, in his perfect way. But orders had been orders, and, though he would never admit it, he was out of options in finding Corrine.

‘How much longer until this …ritual of yours is complete?’ asked Fredrick.

‘Curious, are you?’ said Blake, smiling. ‘Two more weeks. We must wait for the full moon to rise, but we should be plenty prepared by then. Speaking of which…we will need a personal possession of those we wish to find. I have mine, of course.’ He pulled out a small, ragged doll out of his pocket to show Frederick. ‘What about yours?’

Frederick hesitated. He had swiped Corrine’s wedding band before the resurrection, not only to prevent any variables from interfering with it, but he was also hoping he could sell it for a decent price, in order to continue to fund his research. He didn’t want to give it to Blake, but he lacked anything else of hers. He nodded at Blake.

‘We have something,’ said Frederick, reluctantly pulling the ring from his pocket. ‘This.’ He held the golden band up for Blake to see. A simple little thing with G.D.M + C.D.M written on the inside. Blake reached for it, but Frederick pulled it away before he could grasp it.

‘I will hold on to it for now,’ said Frederick. ‘You worry about the rest.’

‘Very well,’ said Blake, upset. ‘I will continue the preparations.’ He grabbed his book and headed down the same flight of stairs Father Grigori had descended.

Frederick fiddled with the ring between his fingers, watching it reflect the candlelight. He had contemplated telling Blake, whose subject had been, lauding over the fact he had the corpse of a noble to experiment on, but decided against it. Blake held the identity of his own corpse in complete mystery. Bodies were becoming harder and harder to come by, and a noble like him couldn’t have risked leaving any connection to whatever graveyard he’d have used. Occasionally, he would catch Blake referring to a ‘she,’ but he knew the man had not been married, so he wasn’t pining after some lost love. No, this was a deeper mystery, one that seemed fascinating to Frederick. A pawn he might be able to use against Blake if need be. Until then, he would bide his time and wait to see if the man wasn’t completely mental.

The wait would be unbearable to him otherwise, so Frederick began to do some research, not just on Blake, but Father Grigori and Marlowe. He decided it was time to become a player, not just a piece on the board to be moved around, and if he was going to accomplish this, the best way to do so would be to know the other players. It was simply a matter of waiting.

Maria had watched in horror as the prison wagon rolled away at high speeds down the streets in London. She had tried to leave through the door, but Richard ran past her and blocked it somehow. All she could do was watch as Vincent’s prison disappeared down a random street.

She slowly sank to the floor, as it weighed on him how Richard had used her. Memories of the day flooded into her mind, seeing that wagon nearby, and appearing wherever they had gone, just waiting for Vincent to reveal himself to her. She clutched her chest as it began to ache from the pain, knowing full well the hell that awaited Vincent under the asylum.

Not long after the wagon disappeared, she heard Richard’s footsteps walking up the stairs, a spring in his step. He grunted as he moved whatever object he had placed in front of the door to block it out of the, way before exiting with his dazzling smile.

‘Now that that’s all taken care of, where were we?’ said Richard. He sat down next to her, brushing her hair aside in an attempt to kiss her when she pushed him away. He took a deep breath and regained his composure. ‘Don’t tell me you feel sorry for that thing? It’s not even Vincent anymore.’

‘You’re wrong,’ said Maria. Richard was taken aback.

‘Excuse me?’ he said. ‘What did you say?’

‘I said you’re wrong,’ she replied. ‘And you used me.’ ‘I just did what any good hunter would do,’ he said. ‘I used its obscene obsession with you to our advantage.’ Maria began to cry into her hands. ‘Now, now, no need for tears. Its influence will fade.’

‘He didn’t do anything to me,’ said Maria. ‘He just wanted to be better.’

‘And look where that got you both,’ said Richard. ‘You’ll see my reasoning soon enough, and once we’re married, this will all become a bad memory.” He reached for Maria when she stood and pulled away.

‘I’m not marrying you,’ she said. ‘The wedding is off.’ He smiled at her.

‘Don’t be hysterical,’ said Richard. ‘We’re going to be married and that’s that.’ He attempted to kiss her only to be slapped away. His eyes went wide.

‘That wasn’t very smart,’ said Richard, massaging his cheek. He began to approach her when she pointed at him.

‘Make another move and I’ll scream,’ she said. ‘This is still my family estate. You won’t make it far.’ For the first time since Maria had met him, Richard’s well-practised facade of dignity began to crack. He stared daggers into her very soul, where she suddenly became aware of just how dangerous he was. He sighed deeply, regaining his composure.

He flashed his brilliant smile again, though now it had become something else. Whereas it had once seemed flawless and inviting, it now resembled a predator that had just caught its prey and was now just playing with it before the kill.

‘Very well,’ said Richard. ‘We will postpone any liaisons until the wedding.’

‘There isn’t going to be a wedding, Richard,’ said Maria. ‘I never want you near me again.’

‘There will be a wedding, my dear,’ said Richard. ‘And if there isn’t, I daresay that creature I just captured will pay the consequences.’ It had been laid bare. Maria now saw Richard for what he was, and silently cursed herself for not being able to see it sooner.

Like so many others before her, she had fallen for that smile and the charm that came with it. The wit and bravado. It had all been an act to hide the true nature of the beast that stood before her.

‘You’re a monster,’ she whispered. ‘A damned monster.’

‘I would have you change your mind before our wedding, dear,’ he said. ‘For now, I’ll leave you to think on things.’ As he straightened himself and walked over to her, she closed her eyes and opened her mouth when he cupped his hand over it. He smiled at her before forcing her to kiss him. ‘Until the wedding, my love.’ He let go and was out of the room in an instant, as if he had never been there.

She stood and ran to the window, where she watched him leave, hiding behind the curtain, in case he looked up. Something was beginning to well up inside her. Whereas once she had felt sorrow, she now felt rage and anger towards the man that had tricked her. She was not going to sit idly by, while Vincent suffered.

Maria got dressed and flew down the stairs and out the door, knowing full well her Watson needed her, but she, in turn, would need help. She needed to find Corrine, but had no idea where to start. Her name meant nothing to Maria, so that wouldn’t be very helpful, and the names of the ones who brought her back were equally unknown to her, but sitting around her home would bring her nothing.

The sun was low when she left her home, the darkness chasing after her. A constant reminder of how little time there would be to waste. She had left in a hurry, without a plan, and it was beginning to show. Even when the fog began to roll in, she refused to give up.

The hours began to slip away one by one, a sense of hopelessness filling her heart. Her legs had grown tired, causing her to seek refuge on a nearby bench where she began to cry to the empty streets.

‘How could I have been so foolish?’ she cried. ‘My poor Watson…’ ‘Is that his name?’ said a familiar voice. ‘I admit I never asked.’ Maria whirled round to see Jack smiling at her.

‘You,’ she said. ‘What do you want?’ He bowed to her.

‘You always ask the most fascinating questions,’ he laughed. ‘To put it simply, I want what you want. The freedom of the…what is it again?’

‘Vampire,’ said Maria, guarding herself. ‘And his name is Vincent.’

‘Quite right,’ said Jack, appearing behind her. She was ready and stared him down, which only caused him to laugh more. ‘Oh, I like you.’

‘What do you think of being free?’ she asked.

‘Simple,’ said Jack. ‘It’s no fun.’

‘Fine then,’ said Maria. ‘I’m out of options. I’ll accept your help.’

‘Very good!’ said Jack, taking her hand in his and shaking it vigorously. ‘A little bird told me you’ll find the one you seek, the stitched together lass, very close to your man in the asylum.’

‘Where?’ asked Maria. ‘Where is she?’

‘It’s no fun if I just tell you,’ said Jack. ‘But I’ll give you a hint: she chose madness over salvation. A bad choice, but that’s where you’ll find her.’ He made to leave but stopped. Jack slapped his head an turned back to Maria. ‘I almost forgot, the valves will be off at midnight in three days.’

‘What does that mean?’ asked Maria. ‘Is it another riddle?’

‘Haven’t the foggiest idea,’ said Jack. ‘The little bird likes to talk. Best of luck, though.’

This time he disappeared from the street entirely. She thought long and hard on the riddle, until she remembered the old building across from the asylum. A place of salvation as opposed to the madness of the asylum.

‘The Abbey,’ whispered Maria. ‘It’s been staring me in the face this whole time.’ Vincent had been there all along. So close to her, and she was none the wiser. He was always clever like that, and hiding in plain sight was brilliant.

She soon stood in front of the large door, took a deep breath, and slowly opened the door. It had stood for so long, and yet she had never paid any attention to it before. There was a somber beauty to it, though she couldn’t quite understand what drove Vincent to reside here. As she looked around, Corrine turned a corner and saw her.

“Maria?” Said Corrine, who ran over to her and gave her a hug. “What are you doing here? Have you seen Vincent by chance?” Maria told her everything that happened as Corrine listened intently, occasionally stopping her to ask a question. When she was done, Maria was nearly in tears and would have given in if Corrine hadn’t been there to comfort her.

‘I see,’ said Corrine. ‘We’ll have to get him back, won’t we?’

‘How?’ asked Maria. ‘They’ll have him guarded this time, for sure.’

‘True,’ replied Corrine. ‘But it’s something we’ll have to risk. We’ll make a plan.’

“We have three days,” said Maria. ‘That man said something about the valves being off. I don’t know what it means yet, but it sounded important.’ Corrine placed her hand on Maria’s.

‘We’ll break him out,’ said Corrine. ‘I promise.’ Maria smiled at her, but her gaze was soon drawn to the asylum through the window. It seemed so ominous now, looming over her. Somewhere in there was her precious Watson, and she had to get him back. There would be no going back after this, and somehow, she seemed to be just fine with that.

Presented by Lake Arrowhead Repertory Theatre Company

Victorian Nightmares 2018

All Rights Reserved

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