Monday, August 12, 2013
Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 364
A Thousand Wounds
"Where Giovanni?" Ulrika asked, showing an unusual alarm. She spotted the pistol in Johnny's hand.
"Step aside and put your back against the wall, Miss." Johnny said plainly.
"Oh, really..." Ulrika purred, suddenly herself again. "Johnny, you suddenly look quite handsome."
"Do it, lass!" Johnny barked.
"You'll wake the baby!" Orpha spat. She stood, Marduk cradled in her arms. The conjoined twins hung limply in her one-handed grasp.
"Not much will wake that poor, wretched thing." Johnny shook his head.
Punch, Robert, Maudie, Gamilla and Gerard followed Johnny into the room.
"Orpha, we've come for Fern, we have." Punch said quickly. "We're goin' to take 'er home with us, we are, as her mother wished it--and you won't stop us."
"You will do no such thing." Orpha shook her head. "She's to be Marduk's bride." Bathed in the growing morning light which flooded in from the window behind Orpha, she looked spectral--her pallid, corpse-life face almost floating in a glowing, humanoid shape, not unlike an angel of death.
"Those children are dying, Orpha." Robert spoke up. "You...you don't seem to realize it. But, listen to me when I tell you, because of your mistreatment of these ill, sad children, they will die."
"Don't realize it?" Orpha squinted. "What I realize is that people are forever taking from me. If Marduk dies, it's on your head. You--you who've come into my home to take Marduk's dinner."
"Is that meaning me?" Gamilla asked, holding tightly to Gerard's arm.
"Well, of course, you..." Orpha snarled.
"That's enough!" Lennie shouted. "You have the audacity--and by audacity, I mean hubris, overweening pride--to stand there and complain that people have taken from you. What of all you've taken?"
"Really, Orpha..." Ulrika groaned from the corner where she remained, "as much as I enjoy these delicious displays of emotion, is the bland, little thing going to bring up that little matter with her name again? How tiresome."
"Bland, am I?" Lennie snapped. "I'm engaged. Are you? And, it was no 'little matter,' Miss Rittenhouse. The woman took my name, insinuated herself into my brother's home and caused havoc and destruction. She took many lives. Dear Mrs North. This man's son--" She pointed to Johnny, "who was also my other half-brother, Finlay. She killed sweet Jenny and tortured Ethel. She took the lives of two women who only tried to help her and of William Stover, a man who did nothing at all to her. She's taken away Fern's chance to have a decent, comfortable life as well as drove the girl's mother to hang herself in this very house. Strangest and sickest of all, she sired a child with her own brother and killed him! That man was Fern's father, and, no, he wasn't a good man, but you butchered him and made the girl a party to it. She's your own niece, Orpha!" Lennie inhaled. "None of that was a 'little thing' nor was poisoning my brother nor trying to get Lord Colinshire framed for murder. I won't even mention the hell of confusion you thrust upon Roger Barrett. And, yet, you stand there with your monster--your bastard, incestuous monster--and complain that you're the victim!"
"Dear Lennie," Punch put his arm around his sister's shoulders. "Don't upset yourself. She's not worth getting yourself upset."
"She's not, Aunt Lennie." Fern said, coming into the room behind all of them.
"Fern, you're confused, Orpha is your auntie." Ulrika called out.
"I'm not confused." Fern walked past Lennie, Punch, Robert, Maudie Gamilla and Gerard. She stood next to Johnny.
"Little, lass," Johnny began, "this ain't no place for ya. You don't need to see an' o' this."
"You don't know all I've seen here, Mr. Donnan."
"Fern, come stand by me." Robert said.
"I will, Uncle Robert, but first, I want to tell Orpha that she's not worth anything. Not worth breathing the air or feeling the sunlight." Fern replied.
"That's fine, and, now you done so." Punch nodded. "Now, come here by me."
"I will, Uncle Punch." Fern replied.
Fern looked to Orpha. "This was once my house. I lived here with my mother before she died. You remember how she died? How you convinced her to take her own life?"
"Miss Fern," Maudie stepped forward. "It's no use you gettin' upset. Come with me and Gamilla. We'll go home. Gerard will take us. The palace guards are comin'.. Your Uncle Punch and Uncle Robert went an' got 'em jus' to come and take this woman away forever. You ain't never got to worry 'bout 'er again."
"That's right, Fern." Punch spoke up. "We're finally to be rid of her, we are."
"We'll never be rid of her as long as she draws breath." Fern shook her head.
"Locked away, she won't bother no one." Punch continued.
"It's not good enough." Fern shook her head.
"She'll most likely be hanged, lass." Johnny added.
"Hanging is too merciful." Fern sighed. "She should suffer a thousand wounds."
Fern suddenly lunged forward, leaping with such force that she seemed to fly off of the floor. She aimed her body toward Orpha and Marduk and struck them with such force that they were propelled backward.
As Fern fell to the floor, Orpha and Marduk continued backward, plunging through the window.
With a terrible scream, mother and children fell to the ground below, atop a mosaic of broken glass, reddened by their blood.
Did you miss Chapters 1-363 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square? If so, you can read them here. Come back tomorrow for Chapter 365.