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    Here is the first installment of a story I hope to continue in a serial fashion. Do comment to encourage me to finish.
    Boredom is a great motivator. I mean, when you're sitting doing nothing it can be three things: relaxing, irritating, or just stolidly boring. If you've been busy, and you've successfully completed a project, doing nothing for a while can be the best thing ever. Or if you are waiting for something to happen so that you complete an assigned task, then you spend the time fretting about who's not doing what, why the situation won't allow you to complete that task, or steadfastly avoiding said task. If any of these situations perseveres, however, soon a normal human being will get fidgety, and start picking at her nails or chewing on the table, or just something which occupies a bit of your manual attention.

    At least, that was what was occupying Baxter's mind. Even hanging from a hook over a pit full of scorpions can get old. The situation was untenable.

    Finally, after an eternity, during which Baxter had calculated how many bricks lined the pit mathematically, and then check his work by counting each, his earpiece buzzed.
    "Baxter, you there?"
    "Yes, sir."
    "Ah, good. Hold on a bit, I've got to find your location ... Got it. The old scorpion pit, eh?"
    "Correct, sir."
    "Be right there, don't go anywhere."
    "No, sir." If his strict sense of propriety had allowed it, even bound and hanging over a dank hole, Baxter would have rolled his eyes. Exactly Mr. Reynold's sense of humor.

    The long chain gave a jerk, and then Baxter began to slowly ascend.
    Thankful People: Glorious Swain
    • CommentTimeFeb 14th 2007
    Well! A new perspective on the superhero thing. Cool. I'll have to write the beginning of my superhero one now. Not quite as original as yours.... but yours is very original. Like it!
    "... but the only critism I might make, Susan, were I to allow myself that luxury even in my sleeping dreams, is that sometimes I am concerned to detect a hint of impatience in Mr. R's manner towards the little proprieties of life. Certainly, it was no small feat to conquer the rabbling hordes of Vilificent; however, Mr. R very nearly declined to wear the proper tie at the funeral. I cannot fault his physical appearance, but I have, though I would fain disbelieve it, occasionally caught him looking into the windows of some of the baser types of apparel shops. He has a drawer which he keeps locked, and I have a suspicion that there is a pair of 'jeans' in there. Not only jeans, but ones with holes ... I shudder to think.
    As to other matters, I was pleased to receive your account of Master Jeffrey's success in the way of paper aeroplane construction ...

    Baxter carefully sealed up the envelope containing his latest missive to his sister. Susan was one of the few people who knew of his employer's hobby. Indeed, she had been distinctly in the forefront during one of the first escapades Baxter had participated in. Since that time she had married and settled down in a cottage which had been constructed over the site of Maliguel's Cavern. Root cellars are not cheap, as Susan very well knew.
    • CommentAuthorCyranoPen
    • CommentTimeFeb 14th 2007
    Ah, my first comment on anything. Congratulations to you.
    Yes, this is me encouraging you to finish seeing as I hate not hearing the end of the story therefore your failure to finish it will result in my extreme frustration.
    • CommentAuthorCrazyThor
    • CommentTimeFeb 14th 2007
    Ok now that i have started to read i must finish which means you, Anemone, Must finish this story thus you have alot of work to do.
    As Mr. Reynold was out in the sports car riding around with friends this evening, Baxter felt himself free to peruse a few incunabula that he had previously marked in the library. Mr. Reynold had an extensive library in his mansion, and greatly enjoyed both the reading of these books and the prestige of owning many of the collectors items which he had purchased over the years. Baxter knew him to be independently wealthy, and to have many investments on which he spent his business hours, but he was still surprised that tastes for cars, books, and all the fripperies that came along with a technologically advanced crime-fighting unit could be sustained on even the largest bank account.
    Baxter was nicely settled with an ancient illuminated text and a cup of tea when he heard the faint sound of music playing at a distance, but with the bass turned up. He sighed, and carefully replaced the book on the shelf. Carrying his tea, he walked back to the kitchen area and past the pantry to his nook. The screen on the wall was lit up with a kaleidoscopic screen and an icon was blinking down in the lower right hand corner. Baxter clicked to activate the icon and spoke to the computer.
    "Yes, O Great Panjandrum? How may I assist you?"
    "Abacot, I need six cocktails and a tray of various ... Oh, you know. I'm entertaining five friends down in the Plangentarium."
    "Yes, sir. I shall be down shortly."
    • CommentTimeFeb 18th 2007
    More! More! More!

    ...Very well, I'll control myself. Remember, though, you have been warned. (see member introductions)
    About 7.63 minutes later, 'Abacot' descended in the secret lift, with his mask securely attached and a small cart with small sandwiches, drinks and their various components, and a bucket of ice. He wheeled it through the silently sliding doors and out onto a parapet. This deck-like structure contained four small tables, an array of chairs, and six people. The view from the railing, which was approximately 20 feet away from the wall where the lift extruded, was dim, and yet somehow spectacular. Although there was moderate lighting over the enclosed area, the only lights currently illuminating the rest of the cavern were small lines that extended outward from the deck, seeming to disappear into the void beyond. This gave a restrained impression of a never-ending horizontal abyss, and Panjandrum was quite proud of it.

    Three ladies in full-length gowns and two other gentlemen in tuxedos, all wearing masks, turned towards Baxter as he, with a slight flourish, displayed the options on one of the glass-topped tables. There were six cocktails already prepared, which he distributed around the guests and master, and then he stepped back to stand nearly against the wall. His mask and clothing were black, and except for a slight bright white of cuffs and shirtfront, he was practically invisible against the ebony rock which made up the walls of the cavern.

    The Panjandrum smiled at his guests and gestured towards the sandwiches. "Can I offer you any other refreshment?"
    • CommentTimeFeb 28th 2007
    What took him so long? A whole 7.63 minutes? Any butler worth his salt could do it in 5, flat.
    I granted him the extra 2.63 minutes because of the time in the lift and to put his 'costume' on. He couldn't just show up in the butler suit, because that would have given the whole game away, eh?
    • CommentTimeFeb 28th 2007
    Point conceded. But you can't always win these.
    Something about this story feels slightly. . . English to me. Well, I'll be interested to see how much more than his fair share of excitement the butler gets. :D
    Yeah, this one is set in an 'English' setting; however, I don't know enough geography to give you specifics. I may end up making up a town or something, I dunno for sure yet.
    • CommentTimeMar 10th 2007
    If you become a town founder, you can name it after ... me!
    A tall, dark-haired woman with a peacock mask and a brilliant blue and aquamarine dress which flowed in waves to the floor had accepted a cocktail from the Panjandrum. She held the glass delicately between a thumb and forefinger, raising it in a toasting gesture. Abacot recognized her as a frequent visitor to the Panjandrum. She liked to go by the alias Marine, and her blue-green eyes perfectly coordinated to the colors of her attire.

    "I should like to propose a toast, O Great Panjandrum. To the Truth! May it always be displayed, and resist those who try to twist it to their own designs."

    The Panjandrum gave a nod of his head in appreciation, and downed the glass. "As we are here toasting to Truth, Marine, shall I ask whether you are speaking to an ideal? Or do you anticipate a sudden unmasking of all present, and revelations galore to grace the evening?"

    Marine gave a half smile. "Indeed, Panjandrum, it was more a toast to a dream, an absolute, or a desire to be striven for than an actual tangible result. I should no more expect you to unmask than I would expect Abacot here to speak aloud his own thoughts in company, or to throw a pastry in your guest's face."

    Panjandrum laughed aloud. "And yet, madam, although my good Abacot here has never done nor shall ever, I trust, think of doing the former, he has performed the latter function for me. And admirably. There is no one whose aim I should sooner trust."

    "Then perhaps, my dear Panjandrum, there is hope for an unmasking yet." Marine turned to one of the other gentlemen in the room. "As for you, sir, can we hope to learn your true identity? Or by which face will you greet us tonight?"

    The fair-haired young man grinned back below his golden eye-mask. "I fear, Marine, that you shall have to refer to me as Pixie for a while yet. I am not so sure of everyone in this company as to be able to gaily throw aside all pretense at pretense." The silver-haired and silver-masked girl beside him giggled slightly. "I must agree with Pixie, as you well know. Although I am allowed to speak in public, Belle is nonetheless a side-kick."

    The other two members of the group, a black-haired girl in bright red dress and mask and a gentleman with a royal blue mask nodded in agreement. "Especially after what happened to Frankenstein, we have nothing to gain by being precipitate." The bass voice of Azrael was grim, resounding loudly through the echoing cavern after the giggles of the silver Belle. Siren said nothing, merely taking a seat in one of the deck chair and crossing her legs underneath the red slit skirt.
    • CommentTimeApr 11th 2007
    Who to pick for a favorite? I think Siren. Maybe I could draft her into my organization. Her number please?

    The Trenchcoat over all Trenchcoats
    I'm afraid Siren has declined to disclose her identity, and she is also averse to posting any information about how to contact her on the internet. I could possibly act as a go-between ... Depending on the assurances of immunity I receive ...

    Throughout the conversation Baxter had stood quietly with his back to the wall, his breathing barely noticeable. He had allowed neither the inner eye-rolling at the Panjandrum's laughter nor the secret smile at the recollection of the incident with the lemon cake to crack his exterior stolid demeanor. Complete invisibility was his goal, and he knew he was near to accomplishing it when Siren leaned over towards Azrael. She whispered what was meant for his ears alone, forgetting that the Abacot was near enough to hear all that passed between the guests. While the Panjandrum began to show Belle how to operate the searchlights in the cavern, illumination in turn his various vehicles and special containment and operations quarters below, the conversation between Siren and Azrael was crystal clear to Baxter.

    "Az, why are we here? I thought we were breaking off this acquaintance."
    "Well, I was going to talk to you previously, but this whole party was brought together so quickly I didn't have a chance." Azrael glanced at Marine, who was indulgently watching Belle and Panjandrum, and then at Pixie, who seemed determined to taste every single confection on the tray Abacot had carried in earlier.
    "We can't afford to lose the good will of the Panjandrum. I thought we could go it alone, but after last week -- we can't risk it."
    Siren frowned, pushing a strand of hair back behind her ears. "I'm not happy with this. You know how dangerous it is to meet at a predetermined destination, all of us together." She bit her lip. "I can't put my finger on it, but something around here is screwy. Sometimes I'd like to know everyone else's identities, and yet keep mine secret."
    Azrael laughed softly. "You know how well that idea would go over around here. Nothing doing, Siren." He put his hand on her knee. "Come on, we'll be fine. I've know the Panjandrum for nearly six years."
    "I know." Siren let her mouth smile. "I'm still concerned, though. Let's please be careful. Don't give out our plans anymore -- keep it unknown what we're going to be doing next."
    "I will, as much as I can. But you know that reciprocity is what keeps us going around here. Otherwise, there'd be no meeting in the first place."
    "Ha. Well, on this particular occasion, I think I can guess who the Panjandrum's benefactor is. This cavern must be somewhere in the Traneck district, and we all know who the big boys over here are." Siren cocked an eyebrow at Azrael. "Just don't be stupid, okay?"
    "Okay. But you really shouldn't worry so much." Azrael got up and moved over to the group surrounding the searchlight.
    "So, Panjandrum. What is the occasion for the meeting tonight?"
    The Great Panjandrum, still leaning close to Belle and gesturing out towards the far walls of the cavern, paused as he heard Azrael's question.

    Stepping back slightly from Belle, he stood upright and grinned.

    "I thought no one would ever ask! Of course, I brought you here because I wanted to show off all the fancy equipment I have." Panjandrum bowed facetiously. "And to portray my implicit trust in each of you. Or was it to flush out a ... Nah, must have been the implicit trust bit." Siren raised a skeptical eyebrow.

    Pixie chuckled, and swiftly countered, "Oh, of course, and that's why we just got through explaining why no on e was going to remove his or her masks tonight. It's all perfectly clear, now." Silver Belle gave another clear giggle, twin to the one which had escaped her lips earlier.

    Panjandrum took the jibe in good humor. "Quite true, Pix. The reason I brought you all here tonight is that I have some information I'd like ot share. And I'm hoping to gain some input from any of you that have pertinent facts."

    Abacot stepped forward and handed Panjandrum a small silvery pointer, reminiscent of an old television remote control. Panjandrum punched a series of commands into it, and the lighting in the cave changed.

    Strands of bright halogen lights began to gleam along the black walls, and over head five large spotlights made popping sounds as they warmed up. The light levels in the cave slowly began to increase, and the rest of the room came into view. Marine gazed appreciatively at the seven vehicles that came into view, and Pix seemed to be taking a mental inventory of the computer equipment and technological gadgetry pushed against the lower walls.

    The balcony they were on jutted out over another bay, so that no one could see what was in it, but most of the cavern was spread out beneath their eager gazes. Only Siren maintained her frosty attitude, obviously wishing they had never joined this particular party in the first place.

    Abacot activated the button on the elevator as Panjandrum ushered his guests towards it. "Ladies and gentlemen, let me give you a bit more of a tour. Please descend with me to the actual working environment of the Panjandrum. When he's at home, anyway. Welcome to the Plangentarium."

    "It's true," Marine smiled, "we all seem to work from home."

    When everyone was in the elevator, Abacot pressed the button labeled 'Fundament.' Belle squealed. "Finally, to see the Panjandrum's Lair!" She excitedly clapped her hands.
    • CommentTimeJun 16th 2007
    I found a typo! :) Could we have more description of all the neat, cool, wonderful, shiny things in the lair? Siren is acting rather odd, I'd advise Panjandrum to keep a close eye on her. Or Baxter, since he doesn't have much else to do. She shouldn't be guessing at Panjandrum's benefactor or wanting to know secret identities. Makes me want her in my organization more than ever. Have her meet me at the corner of Laurel and Wisteria at 4:27 p.m. on June 30. I'll be all in black, she should wear all red and a large sun-hat.
    What color sun-hat? And what City? What if there's more than one city with corners of Laurel and Wisteria?

    Or is that part of a test? And should I just shut up now?

    Shutting up ...

    ... as an incentive to join a sort of task force. The Panjandrum has always been of a slightly melodramatic temperament; hence the costumes, cars, and sobriquet. This instance of bringing mere acquaintances, not to say strangers, into his private domicile and into the Plangentarium -- I should not be surprised at any time to have to fight off a horde of midget ninjas, or some such offering from a 'dearly beloved enemy,' as the Panjandrum calls them. Viperous criminals, more like. I felt it my duty, though I would much rather have remained silent, to gently remonstrate with him after that gathering in the cavern. "Sir," I said, "Would you not think it advisable for me to check the fingerprints and Dioxyribonucleic Acid of your visitors from the evening against our register of profiles?" He merely laughed, declaring that I would suspect a mosquito. I would not call mosquitoes innocuous, but I daresay I took his meaning. I took the liberty of running the fingerprints and any DNA which was salvageable on my own responsibility, and I discovered something rather interesting. I shall not divulge it at this time, however. This is not out of a desire to spite you, sister, but a reasonable caution until I can verify my deduction.

    Although I had my reservations during the aforementioned gathering, I did find it interesting to watch the interactions of some of the various guests. There was one young lady who made no attempt to hide her distaste for the meeting overall, and I overheard her remonstrating with another guest. Her remarks were along the same vein as my thoughts, honestly. I don't know whether it was Mr. Reynold's winning personality or merely politeness, but no one else seemed to share our concern about the possibilities for problems arising out of an excess of candor.

    I know Lisa is going through that phase for young girls when they are interested in fashion, so I have attached some photos which I think almost do justice to the remarkable ...
    "Abacot, I have had an idea!"

    Baxter put down the Frangentalien that he had been wiping, and turned his attention to the Panjandrum.

    "Oh, sir?"

    "Yes! A grand idea! I'm going to throw a party."

    Baxter picked up the Frangentalien and resumed wiping the matte steel surface with a lint-free cloth. "Very well, sir. May I inquire as to the occasion?"

    "I think it would be an interesting experiment. I shall invite people in their true personae, not the masquerades we've been holding. Seems eons since I've held a true dinner party, with dancing. We shall have lamb, Baxter. And asparagus."

    "As you wish, sir. Do you have a rough estimate as to the number of guests?"

    "Hmm. Say forty or so. I shall send out invitations this afternoon. Carnael's will print them on that new-fangled stylish paper, and I will start writing a guest list immediately."

    "Very good, sir. When shall this endeavor commence?"

    "Let's plan for the Saturday two fortnights from now. That should be plenty of time, eh?"

    "I shall begin the menu immediately, sir. Are there any other dishes you particularly crave for that occasion."

    "Chocolate éclair cake. Heavy on the frosting, if you please."

    "Yes, sir."

    Thus began the party.
    Baxter gently sighed in frustration. Although nearly unnoticeable, it was evident from the very occurrence that he was very upset indeed.

    The music and conversation leaked from the great room only occasionally, as the large teak door opened and closed with the passage of each assistant server hurrying back and forth with food and drink refills. Dinner was over, and dancing was being encouraged in the great room, along with coffee and a variety of small, delicate pastries for those who had still not had their fill of sugar. Judging by the number of refills, the guests were working up a completely new appetite.

    The slightly warm breeze wafted through the narrow, open windows which studded the three outside walls of the Grand Ballroom, bringing in the floral scents from the landscaped garden outside. An open patio graced the southern wall and was set with many small tables and chairs.

    Baxter, in all-black and completely proper butler's attire, had been mingling with the guests. A variety of people from the same high society ranks as those frequented by Mr. Reynold danced and browsed the generous buffet. The Panjandrum himself was vibrantly garbed with a bronze waistcoat, although at this point he had discarded his dinner jacket over a nearby chair. He was waltzing with a young lady who had particularly thrilling blue-green eyes -- the governess and companion to the youngest Milance, Lady Rebecca, who was 18 and under very close observation by her family. Overjoyed at being allowed to attend this private event, she had been chattering gaily to a selection of friends on the patio, sure of being able to boast for weeks of her attainment.

    The happenstance which so upset the impervious Abacot had begun quietly, as most problems of this kind do. Lady Rebecca and her mother, Lady Milance, had been introduced by Mr. Reynolds to one of his friends, a young Mr. Staunton. All of the courtesies demanded by impeccable manners had ensued, and Mr. Staunton had asked the favor of Lady Rebecca's hand for the quadrille and was accepted.

    As the dance began, Lady Milance was watching Lady Rebecca with an eagle eye. This eye unfortunately relaxed as she saw the competent Mr. Staunton faultlessly lead Lady Rebecca through the intricate steps. Thus, no one really knew how it happened that Lady Rebecca ended up in the punch bowl. Mr. Staunton was horrified, and unable to coherently explain. Lady Milance was also horrified, but in a more aggressive manner. She and the governess whisked Lady Rebecca away to a back room, and began to repair as much damage as possible.

    Mr. Reynolds took Mr. Staunton to another room, still endeavoring to get an explanation. He had to put him into Baxter's care and return his duties as host before Mr. Staunton had completely recovered.

    So Baxter found himself ministering to three rather emotional females and one apparently very frightened male, who kept repeating, "I don't know what happened, it was all so fast, she just flew through the air. I don't know what happened. What happened?"

    All in all, it was much less than satisfactory.
    • CommentTimeJul 29th 2007
    Well. Here goes.

    Some insane evil-genius is testing his gravity destruction, transporter ray at the Panjandrum's party. Lady Rebecca was the unfortuante subject of the test because?? Or does the evil genius have a secret grudge against Mr. Staunton?

    Right ho! Carry on.
    Mmm, not bad. Perhaps I shall adopt one of your theories.

    Easier than coming up with my own. ;-)

    After the incident, which most people had noted only partially and in passing, Mr. Reynolds returned to entertain his guests. He was cheerfully expanding on his theory of unaided human flight -- "If somebody wants to try it, more power to them. I'll just stand back and take notes, thank you very much" -- and carrying copious amounts of punch to all the ladies whose eyes met his. This included the governess, when she emerged from a back corridor, obviously in search of someone.

    "Miss Chalice, can I perhaps interest you in a drink? You should surely sit down, let me help you."

    "Thanks, but I'm fine. I think you should come back to see Mr. Staunton, though; Baxter seems to be having some kind of trouble with him. He asked me to fetch you."

    "All right, let's meander back to check on him. How fares the Lady Rebecca?"

    "Much better, thank you, although I fear the dress may be a complete loss. Baxter has very kindly supplied her with some spare clothes from about three centuries ago, and Lady Milance and I will take her home as soon as our car can be pulled around."

    "My dear Miss Chalice, permit me to extend my most abject apologies for this accident. I really can't understand what happened -- Mr. Staunton is the most cautious of gentlemen, and would never intentionally let anything like this happen."

    Miss Chalice smiled. "I shall accept your word for the gentleman's behavior, but even so we really must take her home. I am afraid she may have some nasty bruising tomorrow, not to mention it's rather late already."

    "Is it? I hadn't noticed. Ah, here we are. Baxter, what seems to be the trouble?" He spoke to the still impeccable butler who was standing outside a door in the hallway.

    "Sir, Mr. Staunton is asleep."

    "Well, isn't that good news?"

    "It may be, sir, but I should be grateful if you would examine him. I fear it may not be a natural sleep."

    Mr. Reynolds laughed in a disbelieving manner. "What, you mean drugged or something like that? Surely not, Baxter. How could that have occurred?"

    "I could not say, sir."

    Mr. Reynolds turned to Miss Chalice. "I fear I must really go to check on him. Baxter will help you and Lady Milance see Lady Rebbecca to the car. Perhaps we shall meet again, under more auspicious circumstances?"

    Miss Chalice gave a slight curtsy. "Thank you for an almost perfectly lovely evening, Mr. Reynolds. I am sure we will meet again. Good night."

    Mr. Reynolds opened the door softly and stepped into the room, closing it behind him and leaving Miss Chalice and Baxter in the hall behind him.

    "Your car will be here shortly, Miss Chalice -- shall I have them pull around to the side entrance? It is just at the end of this hall; otherwise Lady Rebbecca would have to traverse the party again to reach the front door."

    "The side entrance will be fine, Baxter. Thank you, I will fetch the Ladies."

    Baxter gave a slight bow. "I will return momentarily."
    Mr. Reynolds entered the darkened room, and after closing the door quietly walked towards the couch which was a mere ten paces away with its back to him. A mumbling came from the other side, where Mr. Staunton was laying, rather disheveled and fretfully tossing his head back and forth. Mr. Reynolds leaned over him. "Eddie, how are you?"

    The young man started violently, and recoiled into the depths of the sofa. "Who ...?"

    "Eddie, it's Cad. What happened? Are you all right?"

    "Cad! Cad, Cad, I don't know what happened. She fell down, slipped, something. I don't know. Your man brought me in here and left me, and I don't remember what happened, I really don't. Don't let him come back, I didn't do it on purpose."

    "Baxter? Here, Eddie, let me get you something to drink." Mr. Reynolds poured a short drink from a decanter on a stand near the door, and offered it to him.

    "No, no, not Baxter. Baxter's a good chap, he gave me a drink, too. He left, went to help Rebe-- Miss Marance. The other man, he asked me how it felt."

    "How what felt?"

    "He wanted to know what it felt like. He made me fall down. He asked me how it felt. And made me fall again."


    "I don't know. He did it. I don't know what happened. Cad, I want to go home. Let me go. I'm - I'm leaving. Find my car, I'm leaving."

    "Okay, Eddie. Did you see the man's face?"

    "No, no, I'm leaving. Let me go. Cad -- is she all right? Lady Rebecca? She's not hurt? Did he see her, too?"

    "Lady Rebecca's mother is with her, and Miss Brightson the governess. Don't worry about her, she's on her way home."

    "I want to go home. I'm leaving. Cad, where's my chauffeur?"

    "I'll call him for you, Eddie. Stay here and drink the rest of that. I'll be right back."

    "Hurry, Cad. Don't let him come back."

    Mr. Reynolds opened the door, and glanced down the hall to either side. There was no one in sight.


    "Yes, Eddie?"

    "Tell Rebecca I'm sorry."

    "Okay, Eddie. I'll be right back."

    Mr. Reynolds closed the door and briskly walked down the hall towards the side entrance.
    Baxter assisted Mr. Staunton into his car with a polite "Good evening, sir" and closed the door firmly behind him. He waved the driver on, and retreated back into the house. The remaining guests were still cheerfully chattering, dancing, and grazing the sideboard. Although he did not feel quite comfortable with the idea, Mr. Reynolds had ordered him to leave the remainder of the party duties to the regular staff, supplemented with the temporary hired help for the evening. Baxter slipped back to his own room, swiftly assembled his costume, and descended down to the Plangentarium.

    The Panjandrum was already attired in his mask and was opening the doors which allowed the car to exit. "Did you see them off safely, Abacot?"

    "Yes, sir."

    "Okay, now we get to go catch them again. Ah, sometimes I love my job ... Buckle up."

    "Yes, sir."
    The Panjandrum's sleek black car silently crept out of the Plangentarium. Not quite black, there was an eerie greenish tinge to the paintwork, and very little silver accent. The headlights were out, and the interior invisible through the one-way glass.

    Staunton's car had head start, and while it was meandering at the local speed limit, that was still fast enough that he should be quite ten miles away at this point.

    As soon as the Panjandrum had cleared the gravel driveway, he began to accelerate steadily, his speed climbing as the road began to blur on either side.
    • CommentTimeSep 27th 2007
    Second paragraph could use a little bit of clarification. I get it, but the 'they' parts are slightly ambiguous

    Like the car. Does it have a name? Mrs. Merdle or some such? Bullet-proof glass, I presume. What about a hood ornament in some fancy silver shape? That'd be cool.
    The Panjandrum did not exactly live in the country. Nor did he live in the city. The family had, for generations back, owned a large plot of land with a mansion set in the center. The acres around were fields, groves, and some small shareholder lots for rent. As the land around began to develop, this acted as a buffer to the large mansion. You could wake up in the morning, look out of the window, and feel completely isolated. Add to this the fact that it was at the bottom of a slight impression, thereby creating an illusion of ever-retreating land, yet no sight of the city skyline. The city was a mere 20 minutes away, down a winding lane (which meandered through the more picturesque and natural portions of the estate) and a few minutes down a local highway. The lane encompassed nearly 10 linear miles of wandering in and out, over and through the estate of six square miles. While this may seem an illogical route to follow, not being the shortest distance between two points, the consideration of land shape and stability had greatly affected the construction of the road hundreds of years ago, and the current heir was adamant that the extra traveling time was of no concern to him, so long as the avenue remained.

    And this brings us back to Mr. Staunton. Briefly pausing at the extreme end of the road exiting the colossal property, his chauffeur, Frankson, turned onto the main highway. Mr. Staunton did not live in the city either, but on the far side with a smaller mansion and estate. His family was not as established, however; his father had invented a pneumatic easy chair, and subsequently purchased their estate several years ago. The place was yet another 20 minutes away, circling the town and driving through hills and byways. The chauffeur thought he saw an animal moving along the road behind him as he pulled out -- he dismissed it as a fallow deer or some such animal belonging to the Reynolds family. Eddie was lying back in the rear seat, having swallowed yet another dose of brandy and beginning to feel even more lightheaded. He dozed off as the chauffeur expertly retraced the steps between the two houses.

    They were halfway around the other side of the city when the pursuer made his move. Suddenly lighting his headlamps, the green monster brought them to bear high in the rear window of Mr. Staunton's BMW. The chauffeur, glancing behind, was momentarily blinded, taking his foot from the gas as a result and beginning to slow to the left side of the road to let the overtaker pass. It did so, in a flash of black shimmer and green iridescence. Muttering under his breath about idiot drivers out in the middle of the night, Frankson started to pull back out onto the road, only to realize that instead of continuing ahead, the inconsiderate Voisin had come to a stop mere meters in front of him, effectively blocking the road. Mumbling even more, he peered ahead, trying to make out the shape and possibly the license, for reporting at a later time. Unfortunately for him, the light from his headlights seemed rather to be absorbed by the strange vehicle, instead of illuminating it for him. While he was still fuzzily puzzled by this, a tap sounded on his window. A shape stood silhouetted in the dark. Frankson lowered his window by an inch and snapped at the shape. "What is it? What do you mean by blocking the road? Please remove your car at once!"

    "I beg your pardon," came a soft reply, and suddenly Frankson scented an unfamiliar, heavily sweet scent in the air. He started to reply, but the world began to swirl, and he intelligently decided to lay his head down on the steering wheel before it fell off.
    • CommentTimeNov 4th 2007
    Again, Very Good.

    but didn't the chauffeur thought rather than though? he saw an animal?
    Yep, good catch. It's fixed now.

    Keep on it :) Not going to add anything atm, but I will get back to it.
    Abacot slowly turned the car around and headed back to the mansion once the Panjandrum had loaded the still form of Eddie Staunton into Millicent's back seat. Not surprisingly, considering what he had been through earlier that evening, Eddie had promptly fainted when he saw the Panjandrum. That character, in complete costume, had incapacitated the driver known as Frankson before opening the door and inviting the young man to step out. Abacot was cautious in his driving on the return trip and tried to avoid sharp turns which would catapult the inert occupant against the inside of the car.

    The Panjandrum was drumming his fingers against his leg in an irritated fashion. "I wish we didn't have to do this, Abacot."

    "Yes, sir."

    "The poor kid's already been through too much tonight -- but, that's how it goes. He was incoherent when -- when Mr. Reynolds tried to draw him out. Perhaps someone he views as indestructible will have more luck. Or fear could elicit more honesty."

    "Forgive me for mentioning it, sir, but it appears that if he attained a higher level of fear, he might become catatonic."

    "Yes, that's true. Hmm. I shall have to consider the best way to go about this." The Panjandrum's brow furrowed, causing his mask to crease unattractively and ride up over his nose. "And another thing: how is the new mask design coming along? This one is driving me crazy." The Panjandrum examined his face in the mirror, experimenting with facial expressions for a second. "Look, it hardly stays on at all."

    "Yes, sir. I am nearly finished with the prototype, sir."

    Panjandrum sighed, and leaned back to stare at the ceiling of the car. "How should I best commence the questioning ..." He lapsed into silence, working out his strategy as they once again approached the lane leading deep into the property. "Take us directly back to the Plangentarium, Abacot."

    "Yes, sir."
    Eddie awoke slowly, and opened his eyes to absolute darkness. He was quite comfortable, and seemed to imagine that he was at home in his own bed. Abacot, from his place concealed in the darkness, watched as Eddie stretched and then stiffened, something perhaps causing him to question his whereabouts. There was a lamp on a table next to the bed, and the Abacot flipped a switch which caused it to illuminate. The circle of light extended a mere three feet in each direction, bringing Mr. Staunton's face into clear view, but leaving the rest of the area surrounding him enshrouded in obscurity. The Panjandrum slowly approached, and stood just outside the light. "Edward Staunton."

    Eddie's eyes grew wide, and he sat up, pressing himself against the head of the bed. The Panjandrum continued. "You are safe here. I have brought you here to protect you. I am the Panjandrum."

    Abacot watched as Eddie struggled to say something coherent, but was unable to find words in his mouth.

    The Panjandrum walked a bit nearer, so that the captive could see his distinctive green and blue costume, which Abacot always found to be slightly reminiscent of an ancient English bandit. Unlike the fancy dress he had worn for the secretive meeting a few weeks earlier, this was a simple outfit, pants and a fitted long-sleeved shirt, with a sash around the waist which concealed a type of accessory belt. Comfortable boots, gloves, and a mask which tied behind the head completed the Robin Hood-esque look, yet were easy to move around and efficiently fight in.

    There was a certain amount of relief in Eddie's eyes as he recognized the well-known vigilante -- yet he had suspicion in his voice as he was finally able to respond. "What am I doing here? Where am I?"

    "You are in my Plangentarium. I have heard about your experience yesterday evening, and I am concerned for your safety."

    "That -- I thought that was a dream." Eddie shakily shoved his hair back with his hand, then folded his arms as if suddenly cold. "But I wasn't the one -- Rebecca! What about Rebecca?"

    "Someone is watching over her. She will be safe. However, I need to know exactly what happened. Can you tell me?"

    Eddie shivered slightly. "It's all so fuzzy, as though it were really a dream." He pulled the blankets closer around himself.

    The Panjandrum contemplated him for a moment. "Tell me."

    Mr. Staunton stared back at the mask. "I was dancing with Lady Rebecca Marance. We had reached the end of the line closest to the buffet table. Suddenly, I felt a tingle, and then she suddenly shrieked and flew across the room into the punch bowl. I tried to catch her, but I just slipped and fell on the floor. When I could stand up again, her mother and Miss Brightson were helping her up and out of the room. Then Baxter, the butler, came and assisted me to another room to sit on a couch. I asked him to check on Rebe -- Miss Marance, and he gave me a brandy and left." Eddie's hand went to his forehead, as though a headache had caught him by surprise. "I was sitting there, waiting for Baxter to come back, and the light suddenly went out. There was another tingling sensation, and I couldn't move. Someone -- I don't know who -- started to question me about what happened. I can't remember what I said. Once, I must have upset him, because I felt myself lifted into the air and then slammed back down onto the couch. After a long time he was finished. He told me not to tell anyone about his visit, then made me drink something and left. I can't remember anything else, really. I have a vague recollection of Frankson driving me home, and then I woke up here." He stared at The Panjandrum again. "Why am I here?"

    The Panjandrum did not answer his question. "Your clothes are on the trunk at the end of your bed. We will give you breakfast as soon as you are ready. Abacot will help you if you need anything."

    "Okay." Eddie looked doubtful. "How long am I staying?"

    "As long as I want you to."
    Ooo scary! He made him drink something.

    Mr. Reynolds sat in the kitchen, pensively sipping a cup of coffee.  Baxter was washing up from the breakfast, with an apron over his uniform. 

    "It sounds like some sort of ray, Baxter.  And yet, I don't think we've come across one like this before.  The function, as described by Eddie, is reminiscent of a sort of gravity beam, working with or against mass to create a sense of weight, or destroy someone's physical relationship to the ground.  Eddie alternately described a slippery feeling at the ball, a sense of being thrown across the room, and then, later on, the pressure into the couch combined with a lifting up and slapping back down."

    "Yes, sir," allowed Baxter, examing the surface of a stainless steel saucepan.  "If you will forgive the interruption, sir, there is a very fine set of cookware which I have recently seen for sale -- your current pots are in sad disrepair at the moment.  I fear it is a result of that cook you had up until last month, combined with the help from last night.  Someone appears to have boiled something dry in this pan, then left it on the stove until I discovered the lapse this morning."  Baxter frowned at the spots in the metal, and then began to wipe the pot with a rag.

    "Yes, yes, whatever you think best," Mr. Reynolds said absently.  "I say, do you suppose someone has really discovered a sort of ray?  Think what an advance for science that would be!  Of course, it is very distressing that it appears someone with very little care in application has decided to experiment with it."   He shifted in his chair.  "Baxter, I am very nearly upset with whoever this is.  To experiment, in my house, on my guests!  It's unpardonable.  Not to mention the uses this type of device could have.  I shall have to begin to decipher how it works, and how to defend against it."

    "Indeed, sir.  One might venture to say that however exciting the new development is for science, it may cause a good deal of trouble for those tasked to defend against it."

    "Quite.  How is it that the villans always come up with the fascinating new technology, anyway."

    "I daresay, sir," Baxter noted as he placed the saucepan in a cupboard below the countertops, "that is has some part to do with a sense of amorality and carelessness in allowing for the results of their actions."

    "You may be right.  Sometimes I can't help admiring their ingenuity, though, Baxter."  Mr. Reynolds finished his coffee.  "Eh, well, I suppose that good people do come up with fancy inventions, but then they end up marketing and mass-producing them, and before you know it they're commonplace and don't excite the same interest.  When photography first came out, it must have been very interesting for everyone involved."

    "Quite so, sir."  Baxter removed his apron, refilled Mr. Reynold's coffeecup, and moved to the pantry.  Revealing the secret panel behind the canned tomatoes, he activated the closed-circuit camera program to verify that Edward Staunton was still in his room.  The picture showed that gentleman, dressed again, sitting at a desk in the room making notes upon a piece of paper.  A tray of used plates, flatware, and a teapot sat on a small table by the door. 

    "It seems Mr. Staunton has completed his breakfast, sir.  I will go fetch his tray.  Is there anything else you require at present?"

    "No, thank you, Baxter.  Please inform Eddie that I -- I mean the Panjandrum -- shall drop in for a moment in an hour or two.  Ask him if he needs anything; perhaps a book or two from the library."

    "Yes, sir," Baxter replied, retiring to his quarters to re-costume himself.  Keeping prisoners was always such a hassle on the wardrobe.

    Thankful People: Dynamic Juggernaut
    • CommentTimeJun 3rd 2008
    What evil lurks in the shadows, beneath the Panjandrum´s gaze? What genius plots to conquer and destroy the known world? What will Baxter serve the prisoner for tea? And .... What will become of the inferior cookware?

    Return next time to learn the answers to these questions and more!
    • CommentTimeJul 19th 2008
    The Trenchcoat is coming, hey ho, hey ho
    To Anemone's ocean, hey ho, hey ho
    The Trenchcoat is coming, hey ho, hey ho
    To cause destruction and havoc, hey ho, hey ho

    Canon and trumpet are roaring loud,
    The Trenchcoat is coming to overcome
    People are fleeing before me now,
    The Trenchcoat is coming and bringing fear

    (to the tune of 'The Campbells are coming')

    Be warned, o quivering Anemone, that I will punish those delinquent in their updates.


    I may look delinquent, but it's only looks, I promise.  (To admit delinquency is to die, no?)

    Oceanic Anemone

    I shall sink your battleships!


    Mr. Reynolds thoughtfully stroked the blue button on the end of the stick he was holding.  Brightly brushed aluminum in appearance, it was actually a hand-held energy generator, capable of producing kilojoules and focusing them tightly.  The laser applications of this were clear -- however, the master of the house was more interested in other possibilities at the moment.

    "Baxter, if I take this and add a responder to the end ... but no, that still doesn't address the problem."  The end of the rod sparked with a flame of lightning, which lanced across the room and crackled on the surface of a large, black orb.

    "Sir, if I may suggest," Baxter mildy replied, "You may wish to quantify the gravity field first."

    "Oh, I know, I know.  It's just that the theory doesn't make sense in my mind.  I can use the spectrometer to measure the pull of gravity on anything -- light, for instance -- but if I cannot reformat the energy to interfere with that pull, I have accomplished nothing.  Mass is what does the trick in space -- but although black holes will pull light in, that's hardly something you might carry around in your pocket to a dinner party."  He frowned in frustration.  "No, there's something we're missing.  Something that has attractive qualities."

    Baxter thought briefly of aquamarine eyes under a golden mask, but judiciously kept his mouth shut.

    "Hmm," said Mr. Reynolds.  "We can attract electricty.  That much is clear.  Magnets also do not produce much difficulty.  Is there another field which can be attracted or interfered with in the human body?  Or in any body, for that matter?"

    Baxter thought for a moment.  "Well, sir, you've established that the mass correlation will not suffice in this example.  Perhaps we ought to take another look at the particulate elements which form this planet.  Are there other attracting and repelling atoms and molecues which might aid us?  Not looking at it from the electron standpoint."

    Mr. Reynolds pulled up a diagram on a computer which sat on a desk.  The table of elements stood in all its glory, although there were a few additions which would not have been evident in any schoolroom.

    "I say, Baxter, you may have something there.  Look at these two.  Do you remember when Maliguel had that generator in his cavern, the one that blew up and created such a nice addition to your sister's cellar?"

    "Indeed, sir.  I remember it well."

    "Well, I think he may have been on to something.  Only it may be hard to maintain stability.  Let's use the stansitron and set up a containment field."  He rifled a drawer, found some heavy gloves, and put them on.  "I'm going to make this work, or die trying!"

    "I was planning to prepare chocolate eclair cake for dessert tonight, sir."

    "Oh.  Well, then, I'll postpone the dying.  But we're still going to do it."

    Baxter considered how ironic it was that sweeping statements never seemed to come out quite right unless one was at the movies.

    • CommentTimeAug 6th 2008
    aquamarine. pretty.
    I want to know why Baxter didn't speak up about the eyes!
    • CommentTimeSep 10th 2008
    He's a butler. They only speak up about the private life of their gentlemen when absolutely necessary. Such as, if the Panjandrum were to buy a ring, choose a red rose and ask for a bottle of wine from the cellars. In that case, Baxter might make a suggestion for the best way to propose. I don't think it has gone that far yet, though.
    Oops, I guess I missed that implication!
    Mr. Reynolds has sure been experimenting for quite a while now. I wonder what he has come up with. If he hasn't died that is. I guess it all depends on whether the Baxter finished the cake in time.

    He is not dead!  Further developments are impending?