Tuesday, August 6, 2013
Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 362
"Isn't it a pity, really?" Ulrika Rittenhouse purred. "If only we had one of those...what are they called? Picture machines...you know?"
"Whatever for?" Orpha asked, resting her stump on a nearby table.
"So that we might preserve this moment for all time." Ulrika smiled, pointing to Gamilla who was bound and gagged. "It's just too, too delicious. Here we all are. This African girl has a history with both of us--with me in New Orleans and Marionneaux and with you here. And, really, her fiance even cut off your hand. Before that, you stabbed him. We're all connected. And, soon, this girl will be our future. I think that's worthy of one of those photographs."
"We don't need a photograph. Marduk will soon be eternal. Through this sacrifice, he will regain his strength and he will live forever!"
"Glory!" Ulrika shouted. She paused and looked over at Fern who had been silent. "And, you'll soon be a bride!"
Fern didn't respond.
"Really, girl, if you're going to be so sour, we're just going to have to put you back in the cupboard." Ulrika scowled.
"Have you nothing to say, Fern?" Orpha snapped. "After all, you stand to benefit from this as well. Not even a bit of thanks?"
Fern shook her head.
"You're ruining our little pre-sacrifice hen party!" Ulrika stamped her feet on the ground.
"If you want to sacrifice someone, kill me!" Fern shouted finally. "Gamilla's never done a thing to you."
"Believe me, really, I'd love to kill you, but, no." Ulrika sighed. "Fern, no one would miss you. The point of the sacrifice is so that Marduk can feed on the pain, really. If we killed you, no one would notice. Besides, we need you for other things."
Fern looked up at Gamilla who, shook her head slightly.
"Stop looking at her." Orpha waved her stump at Fern. "You'll ruin it."
"Orpha, should I take the girl back to her cupboard?" Ulrika rose. "Or, better, yet...let's just use our little surprise now. Just to see how it works!"
"No." Orpha shook her head. "That's only for emergencies."
"I'll take her back to her cupboard, then."
"Yes," Orpha nodded. "At least until Giovanni returns. Send Johnny Donnan up, too, if you would."
"Certainly." Ulrika cooed. "Oh, wait! Johnny is in the attics, preparing the acid--remember?"
"Oh, yes." Orpha nodded.
"Don't bother him. I just need some help with sharpening the knife."
"Giovanni won't be much longer, I'm sure." "Then, perhaps, we can have a bit more entertainment at this party." She winked at Orpha. "That is if we can spare the time." She grabbed Fern by the hand and pulled the girl to her feet. "Come on." She dragged the girl into the hallway. "You've bored us. Into the hallway, with you!"
Orpha smiled at poor, wretched, bound Gamilla. "I know the waiting is terrible, but Marduk just isn't hungry yet."
Suddenly, a commotion arose from the hallway.
"Well, well!" Ulrika shouted. She returned to the parlor not just with Fern, but also with Maudie.
"What's that?" Orpha narrowed her eyes.
"I found her sneaking up the back stairs." Ulrika smiled.
Gamilla moaned through her gag.
"Gamilla!" Maudie broke away from Ulrika's grasp and ran to her friend.
"What?" Orpha stood, laughing. "Do you really think you're going to free her and escape from us? You, a little girl alone?"
Maudie began to untie Gamilla. She looked back defiantly at Ulrika and Orpha. "Not so very alone, you two sows." Maudie smiled and, as the gag was removed from Gamilla's face, she, too, smiled.
Orpha and Ulrika followed the gazes of Maude and Gamilla.
"Oh, bother." Ulrika sighed.
"Good morning; I've come for my bride." Gerard growled as he walked across the room and took Gamilla's hand.
And, Gerard wasn't alone. With him stood Lennie, Mr. Punch and Robert.
"Gerry!" Gamilla wept, wrapped her arms around her soon-to-be husband.
"How sweet," Orpha snarled. "And, look, it's the whole family come to the rescue."
"Fern, come here." Punch said sternly.
Fern did as instructed.
"Shall I ask how you managed to get in?" Orpha asked.
"Our Maude used to work here. She knew a way past the lock on the area door. We happened to all meet here at the same time. I suppose being a family has given us similar thoughts. Or, at least, not the devil's thoughts--like yours." Punch explained. "And, now, we shall leave."
"We've a wedding to attend." Robert added.
"And, I would hate to continue to breathe the same air as the two of you." Lennie smiled.
"You'll find getting out to be much, much more difficult than getting in." Orpha shook her head.
"Listen, slag, I'll cut off your other hand, and your head if you get in my way!" Gerard barked.
"Ohhhhhhh." Ulrika shivered with delight.
"Gerard," Punch shook his head. "There'd be no point in cuttin' off 'er head once I bash it in."
Lennie laughed. "I'd prefer to do it. You can have the ginger."
"If you prefer." Punch smiled
"As you can see, Ulrika, Orpha, you're out-numbered." Robert shrugged. "And, soon, you'll be all the more so. The Queen's guards are literally galloping here as we speak."
"All they'll find when they arrive is a pool of your blood." Orpha replied. "Ulrika? Start wherever you like"
"Oh, yes." Ulrika stepped forward, slipping her hand behind a cushion of the settee. She withdrew a pistol which she quickly cocked and fired.
Gamilla and Maudie screamed and Mr. Punch, Gerry and Robert scrambled as Lennie and Fern both fell to the floor.
Did you miss Chapters 1-361 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square? If so, you can read them here. Come back tomorrow for Chapter 363.