Saturday, 15 August 2009

Surprises come in all shapes

I write this addendum with haste, I leave the city earlier than I expected. I cannot believe it has come to this. The gods smile not upon me, no, they point and make mirth at my cost.

As I was writing the preceding entry there came a loud knock upon the door. Expecting a thug of some hue or other, I took up my pistol and called out as if I were busy.

"Who is there? Hold on I won't keep you a moment.", I moved quietly to the window, the ill-fitting wooden frame jammed, creaking as I leant hard against it. Hitching up my skirts I hooked my leg out over the ledge, breathing deeply as I regarded the drop to the cobbles below.

"It's a long drop, Madam.", an oddly accented voice called out from one side and I started before looking up to have my gaze met by none other than the monkey, the very same simian that had been in the bars around the port district.

"So I am to die by the hand of a tiny after all.", I called back. The distaste I held for that kind thick in my intonation. He blinked, sighed and shook his head.

"Madam, you are no use to me dead, nor maimed upon the cobbles. Please now, I have a proposition for you, kindly climb back inside so we can talk like civilised people.". He had a look of almost comic sincerity. "and do please adjust your skirts Madam.". His comment, so unexpected made me smile, as I looked down at myself, pitifully perched half in, half out of the small window, and so, somewhat bewildered, I half clambered, half fell back into the room, and still straightening my clothing, opened the door, the pistol still gripped firmly in my pale fingers.

"Miss Hindenburg, I presume? Allow me to introduce myself.", the monkey ignored the weapon, waving meaninglessly in its face and entered the room with a half hopping, half walking gait. "My name is Vix Indigo and I do believe that we may be able to help one another out. If you would care to hear my proposition?". His eyes stared past me as he nodded to the room. I stared in disbelief, what could this beast have to offer me? But at this point anything short of a sharp blade was a worth considering. He sprang over to the table and sat upon a chair. "Do shut the door Madam, I would prefer we do this in private.". Dumbfounded, I pushed the door shut, locking it.

The monkey called Vix, waited for me to come over and sit at the table before continuing. "I will not play games, Miss Hindenburg, I am the engineer on an airship and we are short of a Captain. I have had trouble finding a Captain who is both skillful and trustworthy and that includes yourself.". He looked me up and down, demonstrating quite adequately that his offer was made not in good will, but in resignation; like me it seemed, he had come to the end of the path and had few options remaining.

The monkey was well spoken and yet not gentrified like so many of the preposterous tinies I had met in the past. Indeed as it came to pass, he was no tiny at all. "We are in need of a captain, someone who has both the skill and the...", he paused, "...personality to pass without suspicion through the steamlands."

"But what makes you think I am any of those things?", I asked, my heart was pounding furiously, was this some kind of trick?

"Oh I think we can both accept that there is more to you Miss....Hindenburg, than meets the eye, and unless I am sorely mistaken I was not who you were expecting. Truth be told, madam, I have little choice in this matter and neither do you. My ship needs a Captain and you wish to acquire yourself a ship, it seems we have common ground.", he indicated to my small pack of personal effects, "I see you are already packed, come on then let's go.". I fumed at the presumption in his words. "or I can leave you here now, and perhaps the next knock at the door will have a better offer for you?". I snatched up my pack and grudgingly nodded acquiescence. We left through the back door just before the first light of dawn and as I stomped haughtily along, sulkily ignoring the blue primate that bounded along by my side, I turned over this development in my mind. I had my commission, my employer may not have been to my taste but I had finally found the first rung of the ladder; I could finally start to climb out of here.

Now I find myself the captain of an airship, we will depart shortly, my odd crew and I. 

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