Only a Maid (A Dracula fanfic)

[AN: This one was, I’m pretty sure, never actually published in any sense. It’s just been sitting on my hard drive since I was in high school. What makes it notable is that I’m fairly certain this is the first fanfic I ever wrote – back before I knew that fanfic was a thing that existed and had a name. I’d had the idea to write a compilation of short stories retelling bits of more famous stories from the POV of  minor characters. This was one of a very tiny number that actually got written: that one part of Dracula, from the point of view of that one maid with no name.]


I was only a maid. No-one ever paid much attention to me. Even Miss Lucy, who everyone always said tried so very hard to be sweet to everyone she knew, didn’t always notice me around the house. Sometimes even the other servants ignored me, because they were all older than me and thought I was just a silly girl their mistress had taken pity on. Maybe I was.

My mother took me to England the same week my dad died. She said she knew of a well-off woman in London, a Mrs Westenra, who knew her of old and might be willing to let me live in her house and work for her to earn my keep, now that we didn’t have anyone working to give us an income. Sure enough, the Westenra woman gave me a job helping to look after the household – and Mistress Lucy too. It wasn’t a very well-paid job, true enough, but I got some… perks. Unofficially, like.

Oh, all right, I took stuff. But it wasn’t just me; all the girls were doing it. Well, OK, maybe not all of them. But I know for certain I wasn’t the only one. I definitely saw Mary trying to slyly slip one of the Westenra woman’s silver spoons into her apron instead of washing it, when she thought no-one was looking. Anyway, it wasn’t like I ever took anything very big, or anything that would really be missed. It was just trinkets. That old house was full of trinkets that nobody else ever noticed. So, sometimes, I’d just help myself. I was thinking of mum, you see. She wasn’t getting any younger and she couldn’t really afford to be working herself what with her bad back and all, so she was relying on me to make ends meet. It wasn’t her fault. That was just how the cards came up, as she would have said. She was a terrible one for cards, was my mother. Back when we had the money.

Anyway, nobody noticed the things I took, so I thought it must be that nobody cared for them and so I just kept doing it, whenever there was no-one about. It only got easier when the Westenra woman got sick, and then Miss Lucy came down with something too and there wasn’t really anyone watching any of the servants. I never found out properly what either of them had; I was only a maid, no-one tells us these things. There were all sorts of rumours about among us though – they said that Mrs Westenra had some sort of terrible disease of the heart, and Mary swore she’d overheard the doctor saying she only had a matter of weeks to live. I can’t really say I felt very sorry for the woman. I never knew her myself, she was just a friend of mum’s, and I was more worried about what would happen to my salary if she went. I was quite sure that Miss Lucy would keep at least most of the servant-girls on after her mother’s death – Miss Lucy was always a bit of a soft touch and didn’t like having to reprimand us – but I couldn’t be sure, because she wouldn’t need as much looking-after on her own, and she was going to be married fairly soon too.

They wouldn’t say what Miss Lucy was ill with – I don’t think most people even knew, even the doctor, because he had to get some foreign man in from Germany or Holland or somewhere around those parts. Some sort of specialist, I suppose. He certainly walked like an important, educated man. Talked like it too, but in a sort-of nice way. Mostly. Even between them they couldn’t seem to cure her – she just got worse every time we thought she was getting better. Everyone was worried about her, especially the doctor. He’d always been sweet on Miss Lucy; you could see it in how he looked at her. Mary said he’d even proposed to her but been turned down, although how she should know I have no idea. I think she was just jealous really, because he was a quite handsome man and I reckon Mary badly wanted him to notice her, except he never looked at any of us because we were just servants.

The foreign specialist at least seemed to think he knew what was wrong with the young mistress, although he never spoke about it. Whatever it was he thought she had, it was different to any illness I’ve ever heard of, and even in my short life I’ve encountered a few. It made her go very pale and weak, as if her very blood was draining away – except that there were no open wounds that I could see, and there was never blood on her pillow when I came into her room in the mornings. It was a pity, really – she had been so very pretty before.

Whatever it was, the foreign doctor filled her room with wild garlic flowers as part of his attempted cure – they were everywhere: on the windowsill, the shelves, her bedside table, even around her neck. The whole room stank of it, but we got used to it after a while. We weren’t allowed to take any of it away – the foreign specialist was very clear on that. I think the smell must have had some curing properties after all, like they say certain flowers can have on all those diseases that you get from the air, because often after she’d spent a night in the room, surrounded by all the garlic, she would seem better in the morning – more like her old self. One of the doctors would always sit up in the room with her as well, though none of the girls knew what they hoped to achieve by merely watching their patient sleep. If it was just the usual doctor I would have thought it inappropriate, but the foreign man was doing it too, so I can only assume there must have been some medical purpose. The odd thing though – every time Miss Lucy took a turn for the worse, it was always when neither of the doctors was there. Perhaps just the reassurance of having them nearby was what was helping her to recover.

Anyway, there was this one night – it was in early autumn, I think, but I was never too good with dates – when suddenly everything started to get very strange. I was quite frightened actually, except I didn’t tell any of the others that because they’d only laugh at me. It started out like any other, normal night – I made sure Mistress Lucy was all right, then I finished off my rounds and headed for my own bed. I thought I was woken in the middle of the night by some sort of horrible crash, but at the time I thought it must have been merely a bad dream, and I went back to sleep. It was only when we had to get up to start the morning’s chores, and I was heading towards the washroom in the hope of catching a quick bath, that I ran into Mary and two of the other girls, and they asked if I had heard such a noise, because they like me had apparently all heard it and ignored it at the time.

Afraid that something might have happened to Miss Lucy in the night, we went – all of us still only in our nightgowns, mind – to her door, and a weak, terrified voice called to us from inside. We rushed inside and – I’m not embarrassed to admit – all four of us screamed. It was horrible. Miss Lucy was lying on the bed, pale as ever, and Mrs Westenra – her own mother – was lying on top of her. I didn’t know then if she was alive or dead, but something awful had obviously happened. The window was shattered, as if blown inwards by some unstoppable force, and there was broken glass everywhere, mixing with the garlic flowers that had fallen from their places around the room.

Mary and the other two moved the Westenra woman’s body and hid it under a bed-sheet – I think I was too shocked to move, myself. Miss Lucy seemed to have come to her senses, though, and told us we should go have a glass of wine to calm our nerves. I didn’t need telling twice, I can tell you – I hadn’t been so nervous ever since before my old dad died. The wind blew a door shut as we were leaving, and even though we knew what it was we all screamed at the bang and ran like a rowdy mob into the dining room – that’s how on edge we all were.

Mary yanked open the sherry decanter as soon as we got in and took a gulp straight from the bottle before handing it to the rest of us. I have to admit I’ve never really been much of a drinker, not like some of the other girls, but I think between us we must have drained over half the bottle there. And then, just as we were calming down and before any of us knew what was happening, everything started to go all blurry and the floor seemed to slide under my feet, every time I tried to step on it. Now, I said I wasn’t that used to drink but I certainly wasn’t new to it enough that I could lose my balance and vision just with a few measly gulps. Something was definitely up – especially since it was happening to the other three as well. The last thing I remember before I started to dream was the look on Mary’s face as she toppled over and crashed onto the carpet at my feet.

I had the strangest dream that morning, before I awoke to find myself alone on the couch. I’m not even sure now that it was a dream, though I don’t know what else it could have been. I remember there was this… man. This tall, greying, dark-haired, foreign-looking man. But it definitely wasn’t the foreign doctor that had come to deal with Miss Lucy. Oh no, this was someone else. Someone… crueller. I don’t know how I know that, all right? I just did. He had this bad feeling about him.

He wasn’t doing anything, just standing in the middle of the room, with this big dark coat or cloak wrapped around him like the wings of a sleeping bat. He was very tall; I remember that – I had to look quite far up to see his face, even considering I was lying down. When he saw me looking, he smiled at me, but it wasn’t a nice smile. He had these very, very white teeth, whiter than snow or milk almost, and framed by these lips that looked so red they could have been coated in fresh blood. They were very long, too, and sharp, especially the two pointed ones on either side – I don’t know what they’re called, I’m not a dentist.

Somehow I was transfixed by that mouth. All I could think of was those red, red lips and those white, white teeth. I imagined them speaking to me; laughing at me; kissing me; caressing me… biting me. I know it sounds stupid, but I couldn’t think of anything else. He must have been two or three times my age as well, maybe more. I don’t know what my mother would say.

Anyway, this man… assuming it was a man… sort of glided over to me and knelt down, gracefully, like a cat, with his hand gripping the back of the couch, forming an arch over my body.

“They fought me,” he said, in this quiet, gleefully cruel voice. “But I think I win, no?” And then it seemed he was gone. As if maybe he’d just vanished into the shadows or, more likely, I’d just gone back to sleep. Assuming I was awake anyway.

Whatever happened, it all seemed in the distant past when I woke up. I think it must have been almost afternoon at least by then, and here I was still in my nightdress. Mary was just coming in to pull down the blinds, and she told me – rather scathingly – that while I’d been asleep the doctors had arrived – both of them – and the Westenra woman had been declared dead, and Miss Lucy was on the brink herself, and lots of people were very worried and apparently her husband-to-be might be coming over soon, and there was also an American man who she’d been fond of waiting patiently in the hall. Embarrassed, I ran upstairs, trying not to catch the eye of the confused-looking American in question, and tried to occupy myself for a while with getting dressed and tidying the house as best I could without disturbing anyone.

For the rest of that day and most of the next, me and the other girls tried to keep on with our duties as if nothing had happened. I think it was just our way of making sense of the situation, I don’t know. Miss Lucy kept being visited by one or other of the doctors, or the American man, or – towards evening – by Holmwood, the man who was meant to become her husband in a few days or so. We didn’t imagine any of us would be allowed in, of course, since we were only her servants, so we mostly tried to keep out of everyone’s way.

I asked Mary what was going to happen to us if Miss Lucy did die, and we were left without any employer to attend to. She just laughed and said that even if by some miracle Miss Lucy was back to perfect health by morning, she wouldn’t be staying in that house for a second longer than it took her to get paid off and resign. It’s all right for her; she doesn’t have a family to support. As far as I know. I thought about telling her of my dream, but I knew she would only laugh more and I wasn’t in the mood to be mocked. I was too worried about what I was supposed to do, and what mum would say if I had to tell her I didn’t have a job any more.

Miss Lucy’s absence did mean that there was no-one to notice if the necklace in her room I’d had my eye on for a while went missing, but somehow I just didn’t feel like taking it right then.

Letters for Miss Lucy kept getting delivered, which for want of anything better to do with we simply left sitting in what had been her room for someone else to deal with. We were still all pretty much in the dark as to what was going on – nobody ever tells the servants that kind of thing, do they? No, we have to just carry on like nothing’s wrong and only get told afterwards that someone’s died or worse. To keep my mind off things, I opened and read a few of the letters, as sneakily as I could. Most of them were from a friend of hers, someone named Mina – I think I can vaguely recall her as one of the visitors Miss Lucy had often had round in the past. It felt a bit odd, opening someone else’s mail like that, but the way things seemed to be going downstairs it didn’t look like anyone else was going to need them. I suppose it was quite sad that the young mistress had happy friends elsewhere who didn’t know what was happening, though. Still, it wasn’t my job to inform them; I was just cleaning staff.

Somehow we all managed to keep going until a day or so later we were given the inevitable news: Miss Lucy was dead, and as soon as all the immediate matters were sorted out I would be unemployed. Most of the servants helped out with the funeral arrangements and the undertakers and all that stuff. Somehow, I just couldn’t bring myself to do much. It was like up until then I’d been following a road, and now the road had ended and there was just barren land in every direction.

That night I made up my mind to go and see Miss Lucy’s corpse. I don’t know that I wanted to say goodbye – she was, after all, my mistress, not my friend – but I did feel somehow that it would bring some sort of sense of… I don’t know… closure, maybe. I crept down the corridor to the room she’d been lain in once everyone else had gone to bed.

At first, when I lifted the sheet to see her, I thought there had been some mistake and she wasn’t dead at all. She didn’t look much like a corpse. In fact, she looked better than she had done for a long time, not since before the illness. But what caught my eye even more was the tiny, golden crucifix lying on her mouth. I didn’t know where it came from, but it was so beautiful. My father, before he died, had been a very strong-minded Catholic, and he had brought us along to the chapel every week. There was this magnificent crucifix on a stand at the front, placed so that the light from the windows would bounce off its gold surface and make it look almost like the glory of the real God was shining out of his carved face. I loved that crucifix when I was little. I always used to dream of one day owning something so beautiful, but I knew I would never be able to afford it, even if I worked every day for a million years.

But now, sitting in front of me like a last gift from Miss Lucy, was the most wonderful little miniature version of that very crucifix, or so it seemed to me. It felt almost like I was supposed to have it, like it had been destined for me all along. So I took it. It was on a little golden chain, so as it could be hung around someone’s neck, so I put it on, replaced the sheet and ran back to my room as quickly as possible. It just felt so right.

It didn’t feel right in the morning though, when I was woken by rough hands seizing me from my bed and snatching the cross from around my neck. I almost cried out, before my assailant silenced me with a look. It was the foreign doctor that had come to help Miss Lucy. He pushed me roughly away from him and hissed,

“What wicked thief is this that would steal, not only from those who live, but from those whose breath have left them? Do you know what you have done?”

He seemed so very angry that I started to cry. There was something about how he looked or how he spoke, I don’t know, but it was clear that the little crucifix meant something special to him, or to Miss Lucy, I don’t know which. It was if I had betrayed them both, like I had ruined Miss Lucy’s last wish.

“You have cause more harm than I hope for your sake you will ever understand, girl!” the foreign doctor hissed again, in his stilted English, his eyes flashing in accusation, before he wheeled around and marched from the room. I just collapsed, shaking, on the bed and cried.

I left the house that same day. Nobody noticed, in all the business. I didn’t have much to pack, and even Mary was too preoccupied to pay any attention when I walked past her on my way out. I knew mum would be disappointed, but I didn’t care any more. I felt that somehow the house didn’t want me there any more; like my one action the previous night had turned the very air against me. I still don’t see how anything could have been my fault. How was I to know? I was only a maid.



 

If you’re cool and not a vampire, you can support the Court of Ranternal Affairs here. Even if you are a vampire, to be honest, I’m not picky.

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This Court Doesn’t Pay for Itself You Know

Or rather, it does. That is, precisely, the problem.

 

You have probably noticed that the Court of Ranternal Affairs is a pretty small organisation. Currently, it’s just me, my hair and my evil robotic alter ego.

The Hair is unemployed, and I fear it too much to demand it pay rent. Eviltron suffers from a faulty motivation circuit and also from being fictional. That means all the work and upkeep that goes into keeping this place running is all my responsibility.

Which is fine, usually. I mean, “work and upkeep” mostly just here means keeping myself alive and finding the time and energy to write. Unfortunately, my day job has very awkward hours and is a huge sink of energy, and my unreliable mental and physical health makes the “keeping myself alive” part surprisingly challenging.

Right now, I’m off work on medical leave, severely reducing my income while not significantly reducing how much it costs to keep myself upright. You see my problem.

What I’m saying here is, if you hadn’t noticed yet, the Court of Ranternal Affairs is looking for financial support.

 

Follow the link on my support page to see my Patreon of Wonky and Rustic Beauty. I put a lot of very stupid jokes on there, so if you’re into stupid jokes you’ll probably want to give it a read. (And if you’re not into stupid jokes, why do you ever read anything I write?). If you have no regular income or a crippling fear of commitment and find Patreon’s regular-giving model impossible, don’t worry – the same page also has a link to donate to me through Paypal, so you too can bask in the warm glow of charity.

 

Love and gratitude,

Calum P Cameron

(The P stands for Phinancial-Support, which I bet is not what you were expecting.)

Calum P Cameron Annotates Dumb (and Now Also Utterly Incoherent) Stuff on the Internet: My Immortal Edition

[First published on Facebook on 10/6/13]



Previously:

Black Bl’ack Senility Black Direction, Solar System’s Lamest Vampire (whose name is ENOBY) tried to have a fling with Draco (In Leather Pants) Malfoy. So far as I can work out, God Himself then decided it was His job to break the two apart, because first Draco turned out to be bisexual and an ex of Not The Harry Potter You’re Looking For, enraging the filthy filthy homophobe Bl’ack, then Voldemort inexplicably turned up inside the Hogwarts grounds and decided to kill Draco (ILP) unless Bl’ack murdered NTHPYLF for him, then when Draco (ILP) found out about this he randomly decided to commit suicide. Bl’ack comforted herself at this point with an egregious act of self-harm, a bath and a change of clothes. A being whose identity resonated endlessly between that of Professor Snape and Snap the Rice Crispy elf filmed this event for… some reason. And someone called Loopin chewed along. And then a lot of people ran in, there was a lot of shooting, I think Loopin and Snap(e) got away with the film in the end, it wasn’t very clear at all.

Still, I remain confident that this next chapter will be a return to semi-coherency – it can’t get any worse, right?.

Right?

…well that settles that.

Chapter 12.

So far, so coherent. False sense of security: well and truly lulled into.
The following chapter contains… uh… to be honest, I have no idea, but I’m pretty sure it’s not child-friendly, whatever it is.

AN: stop f,aing

…?
What does that even mean? Stop alternating between F and A, possibly?
In which case I can only presume that our flamming drummers from earlier have bought a keyboard now or something.

ok hargrid is a pedo 2

Hargrid is an original character of Bl’ack’s who is small, a student at Hogwarts, a Satanist, in love with Bl’ack, has a confusingly-similar name to Rubeus Hagrid and is now confirmed to be either a paedophile or a Greek child (hard to say which). I think. Something like that, anyway. Maybe?

a lot of ppl in amerikan skoolz r lik dat

…I… think she’s saying that a lot of people in American schools are either paedophilic or Greek children. I… don’t really know why that’s important, since Hogwarts is in Britain.

I wunted 2 adres da ishu!

…?
Well, I THINK the last bit was the sound a sneeze makes.

how du u no snap iant kristian

Compare for yourself.

This is Snap:

snap

This is Kristian:

kristian

plus hargrid isn’t really in luv wif ebony dat was sedric ok!

…I… um… I think this is an indication that the last line of the previous chapter was not, as I had guessed, spoken by Hargrid (in fairness, it lacked any context whatsoever) and was in fact spoken by someone named Sedric (Cedric Diggory, perhaps? She ignored Dumbledore’s death, so why not his?)

Well, that was excruciating. The actual narrative, as always, is better, although not by much this time, presumably because 30% More Lucifer Girl had to try and proof-read this on the way to hospital to be treated for her alcohol poisoning.

I was about to slit my wrists again with the silver knife that Drago had given me in case anything happened to him.

DRAGO? The Russian guy from Rocky?
I think, judging by that, he probably intended you to murder Mr Balboa with it, not exacerbate your current faintness through blood loss, young lady. You are disrespecting the memory of a great boxer and military hero there.

He had told me to use it valiantly against an enemy

That sounds like poorly-translated Russian, right enough.

but I knew that we must both go together.

…that makes no sense.
I cannot interpret that sufficiently to annotate it, so instead, here is a Tom Lehrer song.

‘NO!’ I THOUGHT IT WAS HAIRgrid

Pretty sure a hair grid is a rigid hair net.

but it was Vampire. He started to scream.

OK, I’m lost already. Bl’ack is trying to self-harm, Vampire is screaming. I think. Why? Feck knows. Here’s Edgar Allen Poe with an appropriate facial expression:

poe2

OMFG! NOOOOO! MY SCAR HURTS!

Apparently, when NTHPYLF is in pain, he speaks in MSN-speak.

‘Wait,’ I hear you cry, ‘I thought this version of Harry no longer had a scar?’ You are correct, eagle-eyed reader. Tara addresses that later, though, and I don’t want to spoil the surprise.

and then…..

Five points of ellipsis. Count ’em. Five.

his eyes rolled up!

You ever see that joke in Tom and Jerry where Tom’s eyes act like roller blinds if you tug on his eyelid just right? That’s what I’m picturing now.

You could only see his red whites.

I tried to picture a red white, but after a while it gave me a headache and I started hearing the voices of the dead, so I stopped.

I stopped.

Hang on, stopped what? Self-harming, I guess… although she hadn’t actually started yet.

‘How did u know?’

How did he know… that his scar hurts?
BECAUSE HE HAS NERVE CENTRES YOU INDOMITABLE MONOLITH OF IDIOCY.

‘I saw it!

…wha? You SAW your scar hurting? Rather than FELT it?

And my scar turned back into the lightning bolt!’

poe3

‘NO!’ I ran up closer. ‘I thought you didn’t have a scar anymore!’ I shouted.

SO DID I!
WHY ARE WE SHOUTING?

‘I do but Diabolo changed it into a pentagram for me

Diabolo‘ is Ron Weasley’s nickname. Ron Weasley, as we all know, isn’t great at transfiguration. My guess is that he was TRYING to heal the thing over completely for some reason, and ACCIDENTALLY turned it into a pentacle through which he unwittingly unleashed some demonic power that infested him and Harry, resulting in the characters we see here.

It was a really dumb demon, clearly.

I checked a Catholic forum, and found a thread asking whether or not stupidity could be caused by demons (no really), but they never gave the guy a straight answer, so my theory is neither validated nor invalidated so far.

Although my wariness around Catholic fora may well be.

and I always cover it up with foundation.’ he said back.

I guess that’s what I’d do if I had a star carved into my forehead… maybe.

‘Anyway my scar hurt and it turned back into the lightning bolt!

Part of me wants to believe this will all be explained in future chapters, but I have to admit from experience it probably isn’t.

Save me!

…from what? The story? I wish I could, man.

then I had a vision of what was happening to Draco….

…which, at this point, is probably ‘decomposition’, no?

Volfemort has him bondage!’


I…
…huh.

I think that’s meant to say “Voldemort has him in bondage”, implying that the Dark Lord has stolen Draco’s corpse and has it tied up somewhere, presumably for use in some horrible black magic or other.

Or maybe this is an unrelated declaration that Voldemort has a collection of Him Bondage, which I believe is a type of homosexual pornography.

Anyway I was in the school nurse’s office now recovering from my slit wrists.

FINALLY someone actually goes to the nurse.

The nurse, we’ve established, is presumably Madame Pomfrey but may or may not have changed her name to Bloodrayge DeBoules.

Snap and Loopin and HAHRID were there too.

So, someone actually caught the villainous cereal pixie and his accomplice off-page I guess. And now they’re being treated for the “gazillion” bullet-wounds that ought to have been left by last chapter’s fight, one presumes.

No indication of whether HAHRID is the same person as either Hargrid or the yet-to-appear Hagrid. The fact that it’s in all-caps would indicate that it’s actually the name of a computer. Maybe Bloodrayge DeBoules got some kind of magitech medical AI.

They were going to St. Mango’s after they recovered cause they were pedofiles

Arbitrarily deciding her own characters to be guilty of paedophilia seems to be a new hobby which Tara has picked up.

(Sadly there are no actual saints named Mango).

and you can’t have those fucking pervs teaching in a school with lots of hot gurlz.

OK, I can understand not knowing how to spell ‘paedophile’ but how do you mis-spell ‘girls’ so badly?

Also, suppose I should mention while we’re nitpicking that by the time a girl is old enough to meet the standard definition of “hot” (as opposed to “cute” or “pretty” or even just “beautiful”), you’d already presumably be technically looking at ephebophilia rather than paedophilia. Both are illegal for very good reasons and neither would be expected to be permitted in a school, I imagine, but the distinction remains.

Also maybe if you agree that perving on them is wrong you should just not call schoolgirls “hot”, Tara?

Dumbledore had constipated the cideo camera they took of me naked.

Cideo is a French marketing company. They may or may not sell cameras too, although I doubt their cameras are capable of being constipated if they do.

I put up my middle finger at them.

It is impossible to tell why they haven’t been secluded somewhere more private, but meh.

Anyway Hargrid came into my hospital bed

…excuse me?
Pretty sure that’s sexual harassment.

holding a bouquet of pink roses.

…not making it any less creepy here.

‘Enoby I need to tell u somethnig.’

Clearly, Hargrid reads Tara’s Author’s Notes.

he said in a v. serious voice, giving me the roses.

Yes, she just abbreviated ‘very’ to ‘v.’ in a piece of narrative fiction prose.

‘Fuck off.’ I told him.

That’s our Bl’ack.

‘You know I fucking hate the color pink anyway, and I don’t like fucked up preps like you.’ I snapped. Hargrid had been mean to me before for being gottik.

Uh… isn’t Hargrid himself a goth? He plays in your gothic metal band, remember? Unless “gottik” means something different.

He’s also a Satanist, which doesn’t seem very preppy to me.

‘No Enoby.’ Hargrid says.

Tense change aside, Hargrid seems to genuinely believe Bl’ack is actually called Enoby. Maybe it never was a typo?

‘Those are not roses.’

…THESE are what I call roses!

‘What, are they goffs too you poser prep?’ I asked cause I was angry that he had brought me pink roses.

Bl’ack doesn’t get angry when her life is put in danger or she’s almost raped, but she just can’t stand pink roses.

In fairness though, the sarcasm is almost funny.

‘I saved your life!’ He yelled angrily.

Is that what happened? I was kinda confused, to be honest. Thanks for clearing it –

No you didn’t I replied.

-oh.

You saved me from getting a Paris Hilton p- video made from your shower scene and being vued by Snap and Loopin.

It seems Snap and Loopin intended to release their film at the Vue.

It also seems Bl’ack doesn’t know how to use second person.

Who MASTABATED (c is dat speld rong)

Yes, T. Definitely

to it he added silently.

Wow, that sounds kinda poetic. Pity it doesn’t mean anything.

‘Whatever!’ I yelled angirly.

I guess, since ‘anhydrous’ denotes a lack of hydration, ‘angirly’ must denote a lack of girliness.

He pointed his wand at the pink roses. ‘These aren’t roses.’

He’s repeating himself creepily now. I am reminded of The Manchurian Candidate, and not in a good way.

He suddenly looked at them with an evil look in his eye

Yeah. You goin’ down, flowers.

and muttered Well If you wanted Honesty that’s all you haD TO SAY! .

poe4
Edgar Allan Poe is unimpressed by your rambling.

‘That’s not a spell that’s an MCR song.’ I corrected him wisely.

OK, IF that is meant to be irony, THEN it is genuinely amusing. I’m not sure whether to be confused or scared by that thought.

‘I know, I was just warming up my vocal cordes.’

I hate all of these people and wish them nothing but failure and swift termination.

Then he screamed.

[BLINKS]. Huh. It worked.

‘Petulus merengo mi kremicli romacio

I spent twenty minutes with an internet connection and a Latin dictionary trying to translate that, and I THINK it’s poorly-spelled Dog Latin for “The leaves that My Chemical Romance deserve”.

(4 all u cool goffic mcr fans out, there, that is a tribute!

This isn’t an author’s note; Hargrid actually says this.

specially for raven I love you girl!)

The love of Hargrid for 30% More Lucifer Girl is one that spans the boundaries of time, space and reality, stretching from fiction to fact. I’m almost moved.

imo noto okayo!’

This is presumably the end of the incantation that he interrupted to proclaim his love for his author’s proofreader. The full incantation translates from Awful Latin to English as “The leaf that MCR deserves, indeed, the known okay.” I think.

And then the roses turned into a huge black flame floating in the middle of the air.

Totally logical effect for that incantation to have, I’m sure you’ll agree.

And it was black.

The black flame was black. WHAT A TWIST.

Now I knew he wasn’t a prep.

PREPS DON’T KNOW USELESS FLOWER-DESTROYING SPELLS. THAT WOULD BE SILLY.

‘OK I believe you now wtf is Drako?’

I’m glad you asked.

Drako is an asymmetrical card-based board game for two players, with one player leading a team of three dwarves who are experienced dragon hunters and the other playing a red dragon that has spread terror amongst local peasants. The dwarves have managed to trap the dragon in a shady valley at the foot of the mountain where it lives – apparently dragons can’t resist the smell of freshly slaughtered sheep – but despite being in chains, the dragon is still young and ferocious, providing the dwarves with the difficult task of killing it without being killed themselves.

Hairgrid rolled his eyes.

I know that feel bro.

I looked into the balls of flame but I could c nothing.

The flame has now formed itself into balls. And I think Bl’ack believes that by staring into the balls she can learn more about what’s going on with Draco’s corpse-bondage. Or something.

If this chapter goes on for much longer I’m gonna need some ice-cream.

‘U c, Enobby,’ Dumblydore said,

Ebony, Enoby, Enobby, what’s the difference?

Also, why is Dumbledore here? What is going on?

watching the two of us watching the flame. ‘2 c wht iz n da flmes(HAHA U REVIEWRS FLAMES GEDDIT)

Once more, there is no indication that the parenthetical aside is from the author rather than the character. I guess Dumbledore’s Angry Marine persona is trying to break free again.

u mst find urslf 1st, k?’

Wat.

‘I HAVE FOUND MYSELF OK YOU MEAN OLD MAN!’ Hargrid yelled.

I… what? You… you have found yourself OK? Uh, good, I guess. No self-loathing, no arrogance, just “meh, I’m OK”. Sounds pretty sweet. Why does that make Dumbledore a mean old man?

dUMBLydore lookd shockd.

Well, yeah.

Man, I’m really starting to worry about 30% More Lucifer Girl.

I guess he didn’t have a headache or else he would have said something back.

I love how this fanfic has led to me taking it in my stride that Dumbledore becomes an Angry Marine when he has a headache.

Hairgrid stormed off back into his bed. ‘U r a liar, prof dumbledoree!’

I think we can just agree that Hargrid is an unstable, babbling loon.

Anyway when I got better I went upstairs and put on

Aw heck.

a black leather minidress that was all ripped on the ends with lace on it.

I’m pretty sure if you were to compress Bl’ack’s wardrobe enough you could reconstitute it into an actual cow.

There was some corset stuff on the front.

Hey, it’s our old friend Corset Stuff!

Then I put on black fishnets

And the fishing net cape returns too! It’s like Nostalgia Central over here!

and black high-heeled boots with pictures of Billie Joe Armstrong on them.

Billie Joe Armstrong is a member of Green Day. Bl’ack’s music tastes grow ever more eclectic.

I put my hair all out around me so I looked like Samara from the Ring

Not actually seen the film, but the bit where Samara wears black high-heeled boots with pictures of Green Day on them clearly didn’t make it into the trailer.

(if u don’t know who she iz ur a prep so fuk off!)

The number of criteria you need to meet to avoid classification as a prep makes me wonder how any other cliques ever managed to exist at all.

and I put on blood-red lipstick, black eyeliner and black lip gloss.

For those who were wondering, black lip gloss over blood-red lipstick looks as ugly as it sounds.

‘You look kawai, girl.’ B’loody Mary said sadly.

Hard to tell what’s going on here. “Kawaii” is a Japanese term roughly meaning “the quality of being adorable” and occasionally used as a complimentary adjective by anime fans in the Western world, so it could be that B’oilermaker Smith is going for that and mispronounced it. However, that would rely on her firstly finding the above-described outfit adorable, which seems unlikely, and secondly being an anime fan, which also seems unlikely.

As it is, I can do nothing but take her words at face value, in which case she just accused Bl’ack of resembling a piano.

‘Fangs (geddit) you do too.’ I said

Bl’ack’s comic timing has returned to normal states.

sadly too, but I was still upset.

You keep using the word “but”. I do not think it means what you think it means.
I guess it makes sense that they’re both sad though; one way or another their band is down a member right now.

I slit both of my wrists feeling totally depressed and I sucked all the blood.

For a Vampire, wouldn’t that be the equivalent of drinking your own urine?

I cried again in my bathroom and put the shades on so Snap and Loopin couldn’t spy on me this time.

Irrational paranoia IS a common side-effect of trauma. Tara probably doesn’t know that, but even a broken clock can be right twice a day.

I went to some classes.

I’m surprised they’re still on, what with the recent events that everyone is going to need to deal with the aftermath of, but ok…

Vampire was in the Hair of Magical Magic Creatures.

When NTHPYLF gets traumatised, his standard coping mechanism is to gather together the fur of all of the magical creatures he can find, and snuggle up in it all like a big toasty cinnamon bun.

He looked all depressed because Draco had disappeared and he had used to be in love with Draco.

For Tara, this is actually kinda normal-sounding…

He was sucking some blood from a Hufflepuff.

WOAH, weirdly dark weirdly quick. And, yeah, nobody elaborates on this, so we have no idea whether this was consensual or what.

Tara’s back, ladies and gentlemen.

‘Hi.’ he said in a depressed way. ‘Hi back.’ I said in an wquallysaid way.

Wquallysaid is not, and never has been, a word in any language. I hope for all our sakes it never WILL be.

We both looked at each other for some time. Harry had beautiful red gothic eyes so much like Dracos.

You do realise that in both cases those are not their natural eye colour, right?

Then…

OH MY GOSH DRAMATIC PAUSE WHAT SHALL HAPPEN NEXT?

we jumped on each other and started screwing each other.































…nope.

‘STOP IT NOW YOU HORNY SIMPLETONS!’ shouted Professor McGoggle who was watching us and so was everyone else.

Bl’ack’s understanding of privacy is certainly inconsistent at best.

However, more importantly: DAME MAGGIE SMITH IS BACK TO WIN OSCARS AND KICK ASS.

AND.
SHE’S.
ALL.
OUT.
OF.
NOMINATIONS.

[DETONATES PYROTECHNICS]

‘Vampire you fucker!’ I said slapping him. ‘Stop trying to screw me. You know I loved Draco!’ I shouted and then I ran away angrily.

What Bl’ack is trying here – pretending to be an innocent victim so as to shift the blame entirely onto one’s comrades – is a popular variant of what sociologists and tropers both call “The Wounded Gazelle Gambit“. Dame Maggie Smith don’t care, though. You can’t fool Dame Maggie Smith. If you try, she will just become enraged.

Just then he started to scream. ‘OMFG! NOOOOO! MY SCAR HURTS!’

This is the other, less effective variant of the Wounded Gazelle Gambit, where you try to confuse people into forgetting your crimes by faking a medical emergency.

and then….. his eyes rolled up!

Hey, waitaminute. This sounds familiar.

You could only see his red whites.

Yep. Deja vu. And it STILL doesn’t make sense.

‘NO!’ I ran up closer.

Having just run “away” and then immediately run “closer”, Bl’ack is presumably just trying to enact a scaled-up variant on the Hokey Cokey.

‘I thought you didn’t have a scar anymore!’ I shouted.

Bl’ack has a poor memory, apparently.

‘I do but Diabolo changed it into a pentagram for me and I always cover it up with foundation.’ he said back.

So does NTHPYLF, it seems, since he neglects to follow this up with “how many times do I need to exposit dumbass plot details at you?”

‘Anyway my scar hurt and then I had a vision of what was happening to Draco….

Ah, yes. This again. Altogether now:

Volfemort has him bondage!’

Yes. Yes he does.
Whatever the heck that means.

SPECIAL FANGZ 2 RAVEN MY GOFFIX BLOOD SISTA WTF UR SUPPOZD 2 RIT DIS!11111111

This special greeting from Tara to 30% More Lucifer Girl, and the (presumably joking) admonition of “YOU’RE supposed to write this!” indicate that, against impossible odds, I was spot on with my earlier assumption that poor 30%ML is hospitalised right now and Tara had to write this chapter herself. Whoda thunk?

Of course, this being Tara, she suddenly remembers another, even more important message she needs to pass on to her ill friend:

HEY RAVEN DO U KNOW WHERE MY SWEATER I

We can only assume that the question cuts off so abruptly because someone physically hauled Tara away from the computer at that point.

Did I say ‘assume’? I meant ‘hope’.



 

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I Have Decided that Sherlock Holmes’s Mother was Probably Named Violet Lecomte.

[Originally published on Facebook on 17/1/2014]


Bear with me here.

Holmes mentions in-canon [in The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter, specifically] that his grandmother was a sister of “Vernet, the French artist”.

The only female member of the (at-least-three-generation) Vernet artist family that I can find on-record who lived during the right kind of time frame to potentially be Holmes’s grandmother (assuming Holmes to have been born in 1854 since he’s mentioned to be 60 in 1914) is Camille Vernet, who was the sister of Horace Vernet and the wife of Hippolyte Lecomte.

We’re probably dealing with a maternal grandmother here, firstly because male children would be more likely to show up on the French records if they existed, and secondly because he ALSO describes himself as descended from a line of “country squires” (roughly the English equivalent of a laird), and landowners of the era usually didn’t allow their daughters to marry lowly artists’ sons, whereas a male landowner could more-or-less marry whomever he liked and get away with it (who’s going to stop him?).

Therefore I’m presuming that his mother was the daughter of Hippolyte and Camille Lecomte, and since everyone seems to have pretty-much agreed that his mother is called Violet (it was Conan Doyle’s favourite name, apparently), Violet Lecomte is as good a name as any.

Also, it sounds badass. Seriously, “Violet Lecomte”.

Badass.



 

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Bodaks Aren’t Lovecraftian But Only Because Lovecraft Was Racist: A Weird Set of Thoughts on the Hidden Arbitrariness of Genre

Hoo boy, my titles are getting clickbaitier. OK, let’s get into this.

There exists a familiar concept that can be perhaps best described as “emotionally/psychologically/spiritually pained by the sheer scale of a thing”.

When given positive framing (nature documentaries, romantic poetry, sermons about God) we tend to use the word “sublimity“, but when given negative framing we call it “cosmic horror”.

In a piece of efficient synecdoche*, “Cosmic Horror” is also the name of the genre that we consider this concept to be the lynchpin of.

That genre that is also called “Lovecraftian fiction”, because H.P. Lovecraft so iconically codified it.

The other thing always cited as archetypical of Cosmic Horror or Lovecraftian Fiction is an idea of amorality. In particular, this is generally given as a necessary or even definitional part of the sublimity thing – the things that are So Big They Scare Us are beyond our moral framework. When they hurt us, it’s not because they’re bad, it’s because they don’t think about what they’ve done to us any more than we think about what we’ve done to the microbes we kill when we take a hot shower, or any more than the vacuum of space thinks about what it does to anything that dies in it. It’s entirely plausible they might help us instead of hurting us, but it will inevitably be similarly unintentional. Azathoth, we are told, created the universe we live in, but did it by accident and will one day destroy it equally unthinkingly.

Here’s the thing, though. I recognise that place of being emotionally, psychologically, spiritually troubled by the sheer scale of a thing. I’ve been there.

It’s never, or rarely at least, been with things outwith my moral framework.

I mean, I don’t LIKE the fact that we are as mayflies in the face of amoral things like disease or a comet or the sun or whatever. I can appreciate the idea of that alone being used as the premise for horror, sure. Heck, I like traditional Cosmic Horror, very much. I’m the guy who wrote this.

But what actually, really, viscerally gets me to go full “the most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents…” is the sheer scale of regular human evil. The scale of injustice. The scale of cruelty.

Literally like less than an hour ago I actually briefly became unable to function because just for a moment I consciously thought about how BIG the problem of racism is. I no longer even remember what I read that triggered that, all I remember is the sensation of being overwhelmed, first with anger, then with hopeless fear, and finally left with a creeping dread that lingers still. That moment where I briefly actually saw something unfiltered and realised it was SO BIG, and SO EVIL.

I’m pretty sure if I wanted to I could give myself a panic attack right now by thinking really hard about the sheer scale of the cruelties of capitalism. I’m not going to, don’t worry. But, well, that’s what I mean – I don’t feel like it’s my inability to grasp “how many atoms are in the sun” or “how many deaths the sun will have caused by the time it explodes” that is the most merciful thing in the world. That stuff’s kind of unsettling, sure, but… the most merciful thing, I feel, is my mind’s ability to usually be not viscerally aware of how many murdered corpses my world is built on, and how insurmountable are the systems of human civilization that perpetuate those murders still.

There is literally no reason why that idea of Cosmic Horror, that idea of threatening sublimity, of sheer scale as a source of discomfort, MUST or OUGHT TO be tied to things outwith human morality.

The ONLY reason why we invariably count that amoral element as a definitional part of the genre of Cosmic Horror is because that’s the way Lovecraft did it.

And Lovecraft, I strongly suspect, did it that way because he was an unpleasant person.

Here’s the thing. Lovecraft, it seems, did not value justice or compassion, and thus could not really fear injustice or cruelty. Lovecraft’s Outer Gods actually embody perfectly everything that was “not good” in Lovecraft’s personal ethical system; it’s just that Lovecraft’s personal ethics weren’t about “good is benefiting others and bad is harming them”. Lovecraft was a hyper-tribalist conservative cryptofascist. His ethics revolved around the idea that “good” meant “NORMAL”, “RECOGNISEABLE”, “LIKE ME”. And anything that wasn’t like him – or anything that challenged the idea that things MUST be like him or OUGHT to be like him – was, to Lovecraft, Bad. Evil. Obscene. Against the common decency of honest folk.

Based on his writings, when Lovecraft is afraid of the sheer scale of things, it’s the sheer scale of DIVERSITY. He’s afraid of how UNFAMILIAR the universe can get. How ALIEN the gods might be. How DIFFERENT FROM HIM things existing alongside him could seem. But, I mean, if you’re looking at things from the point of view of a man who openly praised Hitler in one of his letters… what would be the DIFFERENCE, at that point, between those things and this man’s idea of evil? To a man who thinks it’s good to kick all the Asians out of America and evil to encourage more of them to move there, there really isn’t anything “beyond good and evil” about aliens who come to your planet and disrupt your way of life because they do not adhere to your ways or care for your values – such aliens would be as textbook an example of “pure evil” to a worldview like Lovecraft’s as the usual towering injustices we all think of as unambiguously evil are to the rest of us.

Lovecraft’s horror isn’t just about the sheer scale of the cosmos in the abstract – it is specifically about the sheer scale of diversity and unusualness that can be found within that cosmos.

If a person of greater moral character than Lovecraft had been the first person to hit upon the idea of “emphasising sheer scale to make it scarier”, their version of Cosmic Horror would presumably likewise be about emphasising the sheer scale of the cosmos’s capacity for the things that are considered bad by a NON-Hitlery worldview. It’d be about the scale of injustice and of cruelty that the cosmos was capable of supporting.

Imagine if it was considered normal to use the tools of the Cosmic Horror genre to explore THAT kind of fear.

It IS something we try out occasionally – the idea of cruelties so awful that to look upon them unfiltered will drive humans to madness has cropped up with the Reavers of Firefly or the Bodak of Pathfinder/DnD.

But we don’t usually think of THOSE examples of “sheer scale of thing is incomprehensible to human mind” as really counting as “cosmic horror”, because we’ve all, all this time, been tacitly, unthinkingly accepting the hidden arbitrariness that cosmic horror and a lack of clear morality are supposed to go together.


 

*OK completely unrelated sidenote here: my computer doesn’t recognise the word SYNECDOCHE now, apparently? And it wants me to change it to INDOCHINESE? What the hell?



 

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The Extracanonical Expanding Tadpole Sea of Dante’s Inferno

[Slightly adapted from something I posted to Facebook on 6/1/2015]


In 1588, Galileo Galilei (yes, that one) gave two lectures to the Florentine Academy on the shape, location and size of the Hell depicted in Dante’s Inferno, with dimensions extrapolated from hints in Dante’s writing and earlier calculations by Antonio de Tuccio Manetti.

If you extrapolate the dimensions of the Circle of Limbo from these analyses, it is given as a perfect circle of diameter 87.5 miles (140817.6 m) and surface area, therefore, of about 15574128648.3 square metres.

One could assume for the sake of argument that Dante Alighieri, as a Catholic, may have held beliefs that would these days be (somewhat misleadingly) termed “pro-life” – i.e. that dead embryos ought to count as people under the divine system – at which point those unborn deceased are, by definition, what Dante calls “innocent unbaptised”, (according to Catholic doctrine on what officially counts as a baptism you literally can’t baptise an embryo still in the womb – not without causing severe damage, anyway – and it’s also pretty much impossible to commit any sins while unconscious and floating in a sealed sack of amniotic fluid, so any deceased embryo is surely at least as innocent as the Roman poet Virgil) and therefore destined for Limbo by Dante’s cosmology.

(Strictly speaking, one could also argue that, based on his own writings and also on history, Dante probably wasn’t “pro-life” in the modern sense, or at the very least had never really thought about it. While modern Catholic doctrine tends to affirm the notion of embryonic personhood, the prevailing view in the 13th Century even amongst Catholics was actually that ensoulment – the development of a human soul within a foetus or child – was in fact a slow and gradual process, and they therefore didn’t count as a “person” as opposed to merely a “creature” at least until the foetus was fully formed and viable. That’s why abortion, according to arguments by the likes of Thomas Aquinas, was probably a sin but wasn’t murder. But, look, just go with me on this one; I’m doing a thing here.)

So. Compare the dimensions of Limbo to estimated yearly figures for number of pregnancies terminated by miscarriage or abortion.

According to the World Health Organisation, there are about 211 million pregnancies each year, of which 46 million are terminated by abortion. I’m told that conservative estimates say about 1 in 4 pregnancies is terminated by miscarriage – so that’d come out as 52.75 million per year.

Obviously those figures are going to have been different in previous periods of history, because the Earth’s population was lower, the birth rate was higher, abortion was less safe and prenatal healthcare was way, way worse than today. But I can’t find enough data to even hazard a guess at what the proper figures ought to be for different periods throughout history, so I’m just gonna use the modern ones. I strongly suspect that’s going to result in me lowballing the figure here, but I did already say I was using “conservative estimates”.

The poem describes Dante as entering Hell on Good Friday, 1300 AD. The most relevant question now is, how long had people been around for by that point? Or, more specifically, for how long had people been dying tainted by the Original Sin which according to Dante condemns even the innocent unbaptised to Hell?

La Comedia Divina, of which the Inferno is the first instalment, seems to explicitly take place in a Creationist world wherein the events of the Book of Genesis are literal. Adam and Eve literally turn up in person towards the end. Dante was a Catholic writing partially in Latin, but in 1300 AD the Latin Vulgate Bible hadn’t yet been adopted as the official canon Bible of Catholicism. It is therefore unclear whether the Inferno should be interpreted as fanfic of the Vulgate or the Septuagint, and the two differ considerably in how long Adam and Eve’s descendants lived for, and therefore on the implicit dates of the Genesis stories. Based on the wording of the Biblical quotes sprinkled throughout the work, the Vulgate seems like a better bet. That places the date of the creation of Adam at about 4000BC, give or take a handful of years. The age of Adam at the point where Adam and Eve first became mortal and tainted by Original Sin is unclear, but per the Vulgate his third son, Seth, was born when Adam was 130. Seth was born after Cain killed Abel, and Cain killed Abel at a point when both were the appropriate age to be off on their own doing farm work unsupervised, and Cain and Abel were both born after the Fall, so that already narrows the date of the Fall to somewhere between 4000BC and about 3890BC. Beyond that it gets hazy, but we can draw some implications from Genesis 4: 16-24, which in the narrative of Genesis is placed before the story of the birth of Seth and describes several of Cain’s descendants as being the first people to ever perform their particular jobs. We can perhaps infer from this that these several Generations of Cain existed between the death of Abel and the birth of Seth, when Cain’s family were basically the only people around. There’s seven generations of Cain’s descendants mentioned in this passage, which is easily enough time for Adam to have aged over a century, so let’s say that for our purposes, within the world in which the Inferno seems to be set, the Fall happened shortly after Adam’s own creation, at about 4000BC.

Over that 5300-year period between the Fall and Dante entering Hell, the number of embryos arriving in Limbo can be estimated at 5300 x (52.75 million + 46 million) = 523,375,000,000.

I genuinely went looking and couldn’t find a figure for the average cross-sectional area of a human embryo. However, the vast, vast majority of human miscarriages and abortions, both historically and in modernity, happen in the first few weeks of pregnancy, at which point the embryo is maaaaybe pushing 30mm at the widest point. But obviously the few late-term miscarriages that do happen each year are gonna bump the average up quite a bit, so I’m gonna assume I can simplify the average surface area of a deceased embryo to be approximately equal to a circular blob of 30mm diameter. That makes 706.858 square mm (0.0007 square metres) each, for a combined total of 369951983.697 square metres of space occupied by deceased embryos by the time Dante enters Limbo.

That means that by the time Virgil started showing Dante around, assuming foetal personhood is theologically canon in the world of the Divine Comedy, somewhere upwards of at least 2.375% the surface of Limbo was entirely coated in an ever-spreading thin layer of embryo. Coincidentally, that’s about how much of the Earth is composed of nickel or how much of the world’s water is currently in the form of ice.

Why did I choose to calculate this? No idea.

Is there something profoundly wrong with me? Probably.

But of course, to Dante and Virgil, neither of whom were likely to recognise a 10-week-old mammalian embryo, it would have looked like Limbo was being invaded by a sea of tadpoles. And, to be fair, it might not even be worth mentioning the Inexplicably Expanding Tadpole Sea when they’ve already been through the Hallway of Indecision Bees.



 

What IS canon in the Inferno is that you can escape being condemned to the Circle of Avarice by being generous with your money. Coincidentally, you can support the Court of Ranternal Affairs here