MR. CUSS INTERVIEWS THE STRANGER
I have told the circumstances of the stranger's arrival in Iping
with a certain fulness of detail, in order that the curious
impression he created may be understood by the reader. But
excepting two odd incidents, the circumstances of his stay until
the extraordinary day of the club festival may be passed over very
cursorily. There were a number of skirmishes with Mrs. Hall on
matters of domestic discipline, but in every case until late April,
when the first signs of penury began, he over-rode her by the easy
expedient of an extra payment. Hall did not like him, and whenever
he dared he talked of the advisability of getting rid of him; but
he showed his dislike chiefly by concealing it ostentatiously, and
avoiding his visitor as much as possible. "Wait till the summer,"
said Mrs. Hall sagely, "when the artisks are beginning to come.
Then we'll see. He may be a bit overbearing, but bills settled
punctual is bills settled punctual, whatever you'd like to say."
The stranger did not go to church, and indeed made no difference
between Sunday and the irreligious days, even in costume. He
worked, as Mrs. Hall thought, very fitfully. Some days he would
come down early and be continuously busy. On others he would rise
late, pace his room, fretting audibly for hours together, smoke,
sleep in the armchair by the fire. Communication with the world
beyond the village he had none. His temper continued very
uncertain; for the most part his manner was that of a man suffering
under almost unendurable provocation, and once or twice things were
snapped, torn, crushed, or broken in spasmodic gusts of violence.
He seemed under a chronic irritation of the greatest intensity. His
habit of talking to himself in a low voice grew steadily upon him,
but though Mrs. Hall listened conscientiously she could make
neither head nor tail of what she heard.
He rarely went abroad by daylight, but at twilight he would go out
muffled up invisibly, whether the weather were cold or not, and he
chose the loneliest paths and those most overshadowed by trees and
banks. His goggling spectacles and ghastly bandaged face under the
penthouse of his hat, came with a disagreeable suddenness out of
the darkness upon one or two home-going labourers, and Teddy
Henfrey, tumbling out of the "Scarlet Coat" one night, at half-past
nine, was scared shamefully by the stranger's skull-like head (he
was walking hat in hand) lit by the sudden light of the opened inn
door. Such children as saw him at nightfall dreamt of bogies, and
it seemed doubtful whether he disliked boys more than they disliked
him, or the reverse; but there was certainly a vivid enough dislike
on either side.
It was inevitable that a person of so remarkable an appearance and
bearing should form a frequent topic in such a village as Iping.
Opinion was greatly divided about his occupation. Mrs. Hall was
sensitive on the point. When questioned, she explained very
carefully that he was an "experimental investigator," going
gingerly over the syllables as one who dreads pitfalls. When asked
what an experimental investigator was, she would say with a touch
of superiority that most educated people knew such things as that,
and would thus explain that he "discovered things." Her visitor had
had an accident, she said, which temporarily discoloured his face
and hands, and being of a sensitive disposition, he was averse to
any public notice of the fact.
Out of her hearing there was a view largely entertained that he was
a criminal trying to escape from justice by wrapping himself up so
as to conceal himself altogether from the eye of the police. This
idea sprang from the brain of Mr. Teddy Henfrey. No crime of any
magnitude dating from the middle or end of February was known to
have occurred. Elaborated in the imagination of Mr. Gould, the
probationary assistant in the National School, this theory took the
form that the stranger was an Anarchist in disguise, preparing
explosives, and he resolved to undertake such detective operations
as his time permitted. These consisted for the most part in looking
very hard at the stranger whenever they met, or in asking people
who had never seen the stranger, leading questions about him. But
he detected nothing.
Another school of opinion followed Mr. Fearenside, and either
accepted the piebald view or some modification of it; as, for
instance, Silas Durgan, who was heard to assert that "if he chooses
to show enself at fairs he'd make his fortune in no time," and
being a bit of a theologian, compared the stranger to the man with
the one talent. Yet another view explained the entire matter by
regarding the stranger as a harmless lunatic. That had the
advantage of accounting for everything straight away.
Between these main groups there were waverers and compromisers.
Sussex folk have few superstitions, and it was only after the
events of early April that the thought of the supernatural was
first whispered in the village. Even then it was only credited
among the women folk.
But whatever they thought of him, people in Iping, on the whole,
agreed in disliking him. His irritability, though it might have
been comprehensible to an urban brain-worker, was an amazing thing
to these quiet Sussex villagers. The frantic gesticulations they
surprised now and then, the headlong pace after nightfall that
swept him upon them round quiet corners, the inhuman bludgeoning
of all tentative advances of curiosity, the taste for twilight
that led to the closing of doors, the pulling down of blinds,
the extinction of candles and lamps--who could agree with such
goings on? They drew aside as he passed down the village, and when
he had gone by, young humourists would up with coat-collars and
down with hat-brims, and go pacing nervously after him in imitation
of his occult bearing. There was a song popular at that time called
"The Bogey Man". Miss Statchell sang it at the schoolroom concert
(in aid of the church lamps), and thereafter whenever one or two of
the villagers were gathered together and the stranger appeared, a
bar or so of this tune, more or less sharp or flat, was whistled in
the midst of them. Also belated little children would call "Bogey
Man!" after him, and make off tremulously elated.
Cuss, the general practitioner, was devoured by curiosity. The
bandages excited his professional interest, the report of the
thousand and one bottles aroused his jealous regard. All through
April and May he coveted an opportunity of talking to the stranger,
and at last, towards Whitsuntide, he could stand it no longer, but
hit upon the subscription-list for a village nurse as an excuse. He
was surprised to find that Mr. Hall did not know his guest's name.
"He give a name," said Mrs. Hall--an assertion which was quite
unfounded--"but I didn't rightly hear it." She thought it seemed
so silly not to know the man's name.
An incredible being that lives off the energies of humans and is the other half of the very famous Doctor Jekyll.
The Hollow Man
Empty as a bottle without liquid, but driven by pure hatred for all life. He is set upon conquering the world and converting everyone to zombies!
One of many Moriarities who have chosen the path of evil and uses his giant intellect to subjugate and dominate those about him with the ultimate goal of conquering the world!
These are just a few of the monsters and fiends that the Baker Street Heroes must battle.
The Baker Street Universe
The Battleground where heroes and villains live along with their authors in the same space. Who will win and who will die"
The Baker Street Universe
A blog of the Victorian World that lies parallel to our own written and moderated by John Pirillo, the author of this site.
The Baker Street Universe
(New) "Pews" An Invisible Man Story By John Pirillo, artwork, tutorials & stories at www.johnpirillo.com
An Invisible Man Story
By John Pirillo
Professor Langdon had a rough week. The classes had been grueling especially. He had a stack of grades to get out that stood as tall as the top of his office door and a list of students who needed his tutoring equally as long. Not a man to be daunted by such things usually, he found himself shying away from everything, which was distressing his sense of honor greatly. The true source of his discomfort at this time was not the workload, but the new flat he had rented so he could live closer to his work. And not just the flat, but what he had done in it. And his second one adjoining it, which he had gotten for a better price because the prior owner...Doctor Jekyll...had left it in a state of shambles.
But to understand that trepidation and discomfort we have to go back to when he decided to rent not just one, but two flats. That rent would soon serve to be a very large learning platform for him. For he found out only too late in the game that his neighbor, a jolly older man, named Mister Snides, had a very pernicious dog that loved to hurt and tease cats.
It made the mistake early on of doing so to Professor Langdon's cat and his cat had a long memory for wrongs accumulated.
But getting back to the story, it was not his personal flat that accrued the attention of his plight and horror, but rather the second. He was converting the second flat, which adjoined his living quarters and had a door to it, into a laboratory so he could continue his experiments on invisibility. Ever since his remarkable escape in the adventure with the Mummy things with Sherlock and his fellow Baker Street friends, he had been trying to come up with a way to not only make himself invisible to the eye, but also to matter. He had started out with the smallest of creatures, testing tiny worms to see if he could not only make them invisible, but completely porous to matter that might strike them. It had worked after many months of fruitless research and many mangled worm bodies.
Even though they were not sensate like a human, he knew they still possessed some portion of God's gift of self awareness and that caused him to cringe inwardly as he tested his formulas upon the helpless creatures of the earth. But all that anger at himself went away when he was able to smash a hammer on his invisible worm, which he had carefully inked an outline of, and have the hammer leave a deep indentation of the wood the insect was upon, but not harm even one atom of its body.
He removed the invisibility of the insect and saw that it was indeed totally intact.
"By Jove, this is quite remarkable." He praised himself.
Happily, he had brought the experiment home to his flats, to refine the formula and give him more personal time away from the dismal laboratories of his school, so that he could do his work in a spot more congenial to his emotions. He kept his new laboratory complete with beautiful works of art, as well as statuary he accumulated over the years from travels with either Harry Houdini or Professor Challenger.
While not innately a venturous man when it came to exploration, he did sometimes give into his friends and their desire for companionship and accompany them on their various explorations of the Orient and its as yet remarkable mysteries. He had even explored the fallen Atlantis with Challenger once, though that experience had soured him on that aspect of history so much that he begged off entirely when Challenger requested his presence on another trip to such lands.
So that evening it was with great trepidation he carried out a new line of experimentation, using his favorite cat, Pews, for his test subject. He had already made the poor cat invisible numerous times to very hilarious results, especially the time when Pews had smitten his neighbor's dog on the snout without being caught.
Pews rewarded him afterwards by rubbing vigorously against Langdon's kitchen table, its favorite rubbing post. It would go from one leg to the next, each offering its own source of comfort and resolution to the cat.
His poor neighbor couldn't think for the world of him why his dog would no longer come anywhere near Professor Langdon's flats, but would slink hurriedly past them whenever out for a walk, or whine if taken too slowly past by its owner.
"Naughty Pews." He had scolded his cat, but Pews had merely chosen that moment of infamy to begin licking its front paw, its eyes cocked on him as if daring him to accuse him of anything so dastardly, but Langdon knew better, he had seen the scratch marks on the poor dog's snout. Only one thing could have made it. His cat. Pews.
So it was with great care that he laid Pews down with his favorite catnip toy to sniff and play with, and applied the new invisibility tonic to his fur, starting from the tail and working his way up. At first Pews had given him an accusatory look, causing some degree of guilt, but when the cat smelled the latent catnip in the formula his eyes rolled up in pleasure, and he began purring happily.
Professor Langdon put a special formula on the cat's paws so he could track him with his special lens that were coated to catch the light reflections the cat's paws would make, then he completed the painting of his cat.
Invisible now, Pews rose to its feet. Langdon could see that because the paw prints became visible on the table top, then on the floor when Pews leaped to it.
Langdon was pleased with the results so far, and decided to go with the next portion of his experiment, but gently as he didn't want to chance hurting his little monster if his experiment had gone astray in the slightest.
He produced a swatter he used to knock flies from the air and slapped it towards where the bottom of the cat should have been. It passed completely through, but poor Mews, unknown to Langdon had turned to lick its bottom and when it saw the swatter coming at it, had let out a howl of terror and sprung for the wall nearest it.
Being invulnerable to matter, it had passed through the wall directly into his neighbor's flat. Langdon had become puzzled for a moment over the vanishment of the paw prints at the wall, but when he heard barking and cat howls and screams of the neighbor, he had run to his front door, flung it open and pounded on his neighbor's door.
The jolly old man opened the door and his dog raced out, yelping like a struck puppy.
"I don't know whatever has come over that little beast. I'm terribly sorry for the noises it's been making."
"Oh no bother." Professor Langdon said. "I was merely checking to see if you were all right." He lied.
Mister Snides scratched his wispy old white beard, then his chin, then his chest, which was open to the air, revealing strands of curled gray hair. "Peculiar thing is I could swear I heard a cat's voice, but for the world of me, I can't imagine where it came from, as none were in my flat."
"I understand." Professor Langdon cajoled. "How about I see if I can bring your errant friend back to you?"
"Oh would you ever? That would be so kind to these old feet of mine. Not as strong as they used to be." He admitted, a sad look in his eyes and a frown on his face. Then he brightened. "I have his leash and collar."
"Great." Professor Langdon said, waiting for him to get it and return.
He looked at the floor and saw the paw prints led towards the stair well. Not good. He was about to follow them, when Mister Snides returned with his leash and collar. "I do hope you can find him before he's hurt himself or gotten himself into some kind of trouble."
"I'm sure I can." Professor Langdon said soothingly. He took the leash and collar and rushed for the stairwell.
Not so much of a hurry to catch the dog, but to hide the fact that his left hand was beginning to fade away. A not so nice side effect of the experiment which had turned him into the Invisible Man.
He reached the lower flats, and was dismayed to spot the front door open and the paw prints going that direction. Now he was truly in a hurry. He ran out the door and immediately spotted the paw prints headed for the next block.
He ran as fast as he could, then froze at the sound of a horrified dog howling as if it had all the terrors of the world attacking it.
He ran into the alley and there stood the dog on its hind paws, trying to fend off Pew's cat strokes as it played with his doggy friend, who sensed Pew, but had no idea where he could be exactly.
"Pews come here immediately." He hollered.
"Mew!" Was the answer.
He dropped to a knee and a warm body bumped against it, then as he reached for it, Pews began to lose his invisibility.
Mister Snides' dog saw the cat and bared its teeth, making a horrible growling sound.
Pews turned around to face the creature it had been torturing with claws unsheathed for battle. They both approached each other like two gunslingers, waiting for the right moment to spring into action.
Professor Langdon went invisible and swept both the dog and the cat under his arms. "That'll be enough of that from the both of you."
The two creatures became docile in his grip, though both remarked quite frequently and loudly at each other as he walked back to his flats. Neither would give an inch of civility, but the moment he reached the flats, he resumed visibility and set the dog down by Mister Snides door and knocked.
The older man opened his door after much fumbling with its locks, then dropped to a knee and scooped his dog up into his arms. "Snoodles, you bad dog! Don't you ever run away again!"
Snoodles made a whining sound, gave Professor Langdon's cat a nasty glance, and then began licking Mister Snides' face.
"Well, all's well that ends." Professor Langdon told Mister Snides as he headed for his own front door.
Mister Snides rose to his feet. "Don't you mean that ends well? Ends well?"
"In this case. No." Professor Langdon said without further comment, then opened his flat and shut the door.
Pews broke free from his grip and ran for his eating bowl, where he began eating voraciously, his tail wagging happily.
Professor Langdon sighed. "I guess he was right. It did end well, didn't it?"
Langdon rose and went to cross his kitchen and struck something into his stomach and then backed off. "Oh bloody hell!" He cursed.
Pews had rubbed the chemicals on its body on the kitchen table legs. Somehow the formula had transferred and made the entire table invisible.
Another problem to solve he cursed to himself, as his fatigue caught up with him.
He yawned deeply, and then sought his bedroom. Several minutes later Pews leapt onto the bed to take up its favorite spot beside his right armpit and began purring as it shut its eyes to nap with him.
It took a further five days for the formula to wear off the kitchen table, as well as two bruised knees, a number of falls and numerous other painful reminders of his invisible table.
John Pirillo"Writing fuels the heart and soul!" Science Fiction, Fantasy and Adventure Tales to Take Your Breath Away!