Palpatine 10/18/17 09:43 pm Granted, and thank you, Pari, for pointing that out to me, so that I could write to the author and address the issue personally. I'm most grateful. Pari 10/07/17 01:42 am @Palpatine authors are in charge of the banners they add to their stories, so you will need to contact them personally to let them know their banner pic is not showing. Pari 10/07/17 01:41 am @kelticmoon, I added some back but they are not updated, meaning things you find on the default skin may not be on the other skins :) kelticmoon 10/05/17 10:47 pm Where are the other skins that use to be here? Palpatine 10/05/17 03:52 pm Some of the pictures seem to be having real trouble being looked at, they keep on saying "enable third party hosting", a real problem it seems. Pari 09/25/17 10:11 pm Hey nmcil we got this strightened via email, thanks for the donation. Thanks to all who donated as we are now paid up through/to Jan 2019! nmcil 09/21/17 03:08 am How can we contribute using PayPal? nmcil 09/21/17 03:05 am What happen to the PayPal donation. I USE PayPal. squawks 05/18/17 09:16 am pj! I remember wishing one of your stories would be finished seriously about a decade ago. Amazing. I just tried an old password I used to use and amazingly got in too. Memories! pj 03/20/17 06:20 am 10 yrs later, i finally rem my username and password. Pari, you rock. Hope you are well.
This is a sequel to “Yours, William,” which is archived on this site. I’d planned on writing an entirely different story, but this sequel crawled into my head and set up camp. So here it is! Final warning: It will be darker than “Yours,” and feature vampires, demons and slayers. There will be blood.
This is my second story and I have to start by saying thanks so much for the wonderful welcome you’ve given me. Spuffy fans > anything else in the world, even chocolate.
I’ve missed you. It’s great to be back writing again. Many thanks to Lutamira, MsJane and DoriansKitten for beta help. Love to hear what you think! And now, on with the show! (Said in the voice of Harold Zidler from ‘Moulin Rouge.’)
"Today is the greatest day I've ever known" -Smashing Pumpkins-
My Elizabeth could charm the very birds from the sky, William thought, before chiding himself for being so ridiculously sentimental. A grin spread across his face as he watched his wife from across the bustling Liverpool dock. She was chatting animatedly with the ice cream vendor as the large Italian man laughed and offered her another sample from his cart.
"William?" She called over the crowd, causing several people to cast disapproving looks over their shoulders. A lady didn’t shout at one’s husband in such a common fashion. A lady certainly wouldn’t converse freely with an ice cream vendor. And yet Elizabeth was quite happily doing both. Worse yet, he couldn’t have been enjoying himself more at the spectacle.
"William! The Hokey Pokey man says they have peach flavor. You’d prefer that to lemon, wouldn’t you?" And she had the audacity to grin at him wickedly.
"That would be fine, darling." He kept his voice somewhat below shouting level, attempting not to shock the crowd of porters and passengers bustling along the walkway.
"Peach for both of us then!" She yelled happily before turning to continue her conversation with the vendor.
He couldn't help but take a moment to admire the spectacle that was his wife: Elizabeth. She was wearing a beautiful linen gown of white and lime-green stripes, her golden locks just peaking out beneath a small hat adorned with yellow and green ribbons.
Upon further contemplation, he concluded that he had quite underestimated her charms. No, his bride was able to charm far more than the birds from the sky. His Elizabeth would surely put any woman to shame - real or mythical. Helen of Troy? She had nothing on his wife. Even the biblical Eve paled to her. Indeed, had his Elizabeth been in the Garden of Eden, matters would have ended quite differently. Once she'd talked Adam into eating that bit of fruit, she'd have convinced the serpent to join them as well. And when God himself came down, full of wrath and banishment, she'd have coaxed a smile from Him, charming Him into creating the idea of picnics and blankets and eventually joining His creation in tasting the fruit . Or, perhaps, ice cream.
"He also has chocolate!" Elizabeth's voice broke through, scattering his musings like a flock of sea birds. "Which flavor would you like, George?"
William heard a small gasp coming from behind him and turned to see the porter, half hidden behind the small hill of luggage strapped to the cart. A dark mop of black hair crowning a scrawny boy of no more than sixteen, whose name, apparently, was George. The porter looked at him a little helplessly and said, "Sir?"
"Oh, I cannot help you when it comes to my wife, George. I’m afraid you’re on your own, lad."
"Chocolate, lemon or peach, George?" Elizabeth shouted.
"Sir!" George repeated, almost desperately, in a carefully controlled Liverpudlian accent. "The lady cannot buy me a cornet of ice cream. I’m on duty, sir. And well, it’s just not..."
"It isn’t done," William said, not unkindly. "But my Elizabeth excels at doing that which should not or cannot be done. She does it quite regularly."
George nervously met William’s gaze, then dropped his eyes to the ground, blushing furiously.
"I suggest you call out a preference of ice cream or my wife may take it in mind to purchase one of each flavor for you."
George looked back to William, his mouth taking on a shocked "o" shape, before calling out, almost fiercely, "Lemon!"
William turned, partly so that poor George wouldn’t mistake William’s grin as taking pleasure in George’s own discomfort, but mostly so that he could admire the vision of his wife gathering up their ice creams and swishing through the crowd toward him. His face was beginning to hurt, just slightly, from smiling.
She handed a paper cone to William and then gestured toward the warehouse behind her.
"Mr. Bonetti told me of a wonderful shaded spot just behind the fugly building."
"The Hokey Pokey man is 'Mr. Bonetti' now, is he?" William laughed. "I thought by now you'd be on a first name basis with the man."
"The spot he mentioned has trees and a bench. If we have our ice creams there, we can watch the seagulls steal fish from the boats," Elizabeth said, sounding very pleased with her suggestion.
From behind him, William could hear George letting out a small sound - halfway between a squeak and a sigh. With a sigh of his own, William realized it was time to once again intervene between his wife and the nineteenth century.
"Darling, as wonderful as that idea is, I do believe George’s employer would take issue with him sitting down to have ice cream with us while he’s supposed to be escorting us to the ship."
She glanced down at the cone of lemon ice cream with a pout. Victorian working standards seemed to chafe terribly against her egalitarian nature, but she nodded in reluctant agreement. "George, I'll carry it for you until we're on the ship. But once we're on the ship, I'm going to have to insist that you have your treat."
Eager to get his charge to their destination, George nodded and once again nosed the luggage cart out into the throng milling about on the dock. The little party of three wove their way through the crowd, toward where their ship was docked.
"What can you tell us about our vessel, George?" William asked with genuine curiosity. "Have you been with her long?"
"Not long a‘tall, sir." George replied, his Scouse accent making the cadence of his words rise and fall in an almost musical manner. "Since this May. This’d be my third crossing."
William nodded, as the nervous boy pushed the cart over the uneven planking. The lad seemed to be relaxing, but only just a little, the longer he spoke.
"You’re on one of the stars of the White Star Line," George said.
Elizabeth came to a full stop. "White Star Line?" She asked, worriedly.
George stopped as well, looking over his shoulder to nod his confirmation.
"Oh, that would be just too perfect, wouldn’t it? If the movie that haunted my high school years followed me back in time."
George shot a puzzled glance to William, who remained stoically unmoved. These little episodes when Elizabeth would try to meld the 19th and 21st centuries came along often enough that they no longer alarmed him.
"Our ship isn't The Titanic, is it?" Elizabeth asked George, and then, before he could respond, she answered, mumbling quietly to herself, "Can’t be the Titanic! Leo and Kate had sex in a car and those certainly haven’t come along yet."
Unfortunately, Elizabeth's mumblings had just managed to be not quiet enough. William heard the sound of George sucking in air. And blinking. He could actually hear the lad blink.
William smiled and patted George on the back. "Well, then, that’s settled. What is the name of our ship again, George?"
"The Adriatic," George replied, his voice squeaky and unsure as he resumed leading their little group through the masses.
"Ah yes. Well I can understand my wife's confusion, as all of the White Star ships end in a similar fashion: The Baltic, The Germanic, The Britannic," William clarified.
"This ship-that-ends-in-ic has a good safety record though?" Elizabeth asked as she twined her fingers about, nervously. His wife actually looked worried. He was accustomed to her attitude of facing danger fearlessly. From home intruder to his uncle to London society, she took them all on without batting an eye. The woman he was looking at in this moment, so clearly filled with trepidation, was quite unlike the woman he knew. He moved beside her and slipped his arm about her waist - decorum and proper English gentleman be damned.
"Oh yes, Mrs. Pratt, very safe. The ship is actually quite un-..."
"Please, don't say ‘unsinkable," Elizabeth interrupted.
"I was going to say ‘unusual,’ ma’am." George continued, "She’s been recently retooled in the manner of The Oceanic. The first class cabins are placed amidships, which is much quieter and you’ll hear less turning of the ship's screw. She’s also got hot and cold running water in every cabin." George looked at Elizabeth with pride.
She flashed him a bright smile. "That does sound terribly modern, George."
He blushed furiously under the wattage of her smile, before blurting, "She’s got electricity too! A system of electric bells, by which you can ring for a porter or you can be called to dine."
"These modern conveniences stagger the mind!" Elizabeth shot a knowing smile to William as she listened to George expound on the wonders of The Adriatic.
As the throng on the dock began to thin out a bit, the object of George's affection came into view, tied up bright and gleaming on the dock. The ship really was a thing of beauty. Nine years old, and still touted as the pride of the White Star Line.
She was made of dark wood, with white cabins and decks topside. Four large masts were set out down the length of her, with a white and red smokestack settled midway between them. The lower gangway was thick with lines of people queuing up for third class. George led them on a wide curve around steerage and over to the gangway intended for first class.
As they approached the first class entrance, Elizabeth looked over her shoulder to the crowd entering the lower deck. "How many people are in third class, George?"
"A thousand, ma'am. And 166 in first class." George slowed down and stepped to one side, gesturing that they should take the lead on the gangplank.
Elizabeth slowed for a moment, looking at the long line winding around the dock toward steerage - her expression unreadable, before turning back to George. "And it's got enough life boats for everyone?"
"Yes, ma'am," George replied, as William reached out to take Elizabeth's arm in his, guiding his lady before him. George followed behind with the luggage.
Elizabeth shot a concerned smile to William as she placed her foot on the wooden bridge to the ship as she whispered. "I swear, this would go such much easier if I didn’t have Celine Dion warbling away in my mind's inner soundtrack."
William gave her that look. The look, was a very familiar to them both now. It said, "I don’t understand you, darling, but I’m certain you’ll fill me in on this later."
She was always making references to her other life, when she was 'Buffy' and not yet 'Elizabeth.' Sometimes he could infer her meaning, but most of the time, he could not. It was all right with him. He could wait. He would gather up these names and ideas that she dropped, small packages wrapped up in a mystery - like gifts. At the end of the day, as they readied for bed, he would carefully unpack them. Ask her what she meant. Quite often she would explain that she'd been referencing something that she referred to as a ‘moo-vee,’ which she described as a kind of play. Often she’d unwrap a musical gift, a song she had listened to during her day. And sometimes, the best times, he would unwrap a package to find that it was a memory from her life. He would sit back as she would tell him of her sister Dawn, or her mother, or the Skoo-bees; these were the brightest gifts she gave him.
"William?" He was jolted from his thoughts by the feel of her small and confident hand being placed inside his. "No more daydreaming. Our big adventure is waiting for us. And besides, George's ice cream is making a real mess down the front of my dress."
The first mate, dressed in a blindingly white uniform, was strategically stationed at the top of the gangplank. He gave a gentleman's nod to William, and William returned the acknowledgment. The deck was graced by a light breeze and it felt a world apart from the crush of the dockside crowd.
George maneuvered the luggage cart around William and murmured, "If you'll just follow me, sir."
George led them along the starboard promenade, which was shaded by a lateral extension of the upper deck. The fittings were all brass, polished to a bright shine.
As they passed a pair of public rooms, Elizabeth asked, "Is that a barber shop?"
"Oh, yes Ma'am," George answered with pride. "The Adriatic has a barber shop, bathing rooms, a smoking-room, a bar and two lounges."
"You wouldn't happen to have a library on board, would you?" Buffy questioned.
"In a manner of speaking, Mrs. Pratt. The forward lounge has the largest selection of books. It's quite close to your cabin, actually."
"And the crossing will really take ten days?"
"Yes, Ma'am, give or take a day on either side. But she usually makes the trip in ten - just as advertised. Captain Parsell has a reputation where that is concerned."
The passage was becoming narrower at this point - a tidy line of numbered doors indicated that they had moved away from the public rooms and towards the private cabins, though they were still solidly amidship. Just toward the end of the row, George stopped his cart before room seventeen, starboard side, and pulled open the latch with a bit of a flourish. The boy grinned down at Elizabeth and said with pride, "Your cabin, Mrs. Pratt." Looking at William, he stuttered with a bit of panic, "And...er...Mr. Pratt."
As he made his way past the boy, William leaned down and whispered reassuringly in George's ear, "Please don't concern yourself. She has precisely the same effect on me."
George entered the room last, hoisting the luggage cart over the raised threshold with a grunt. "If you'd allow me to kindly show you some of the features of your cabin," he offered.
Elizabeth slid past the men, no easy feat in the narrow cabin, and closed the door behind them. "George, I've been patient with you, so far. But I'm going to have to insist..."
George looked at her, puzzled.
"Your ice cream! It's been waiting for you and it's becoming somewhat drippy."
George shot a hopeful glance to William.
"There's no hope for it, lad. Might as well enjoy your ice cream," William said with a grin.
A visibly relieved Elizabeth thrust the dripping paper cone into George's hands as she slid past him to explore the far end of the room.
"I'm supposed to tell you about the features of the room," George protested, but without much force.
"For now, we'll explore on our own. Enjoy your ice cream." Elizabeth replied, brooking no argument.
The room was small, ten feet long by eight feet across, but beautifully appointed. The walls were covered in mahogany, adorned with several oil lamps. The floor was covered in a thick carpet of blue and gold stripes. In the far corner was a small mahogany wardrobe; next to that, strapped to the wall, was a small folding table and two camp chairs. In the other far corner of the room was a small wash stand with, as promised by George, taps for hot or cold water. The wall which bordered the hallway had two low tables, complete with straps, presumably for storing trunks. Along this wall were a series of hooks and life vests were strapped near the door.
Just across from the door was a portal, far larger than William was accustomed to. The portal faced the sea and would afford them privacy. Just beneath the portal, and taking up most of the floor space, was the bed, adorned with a blue and gold covering; it was both smaller and higher than a standard sized bed. A mahogany lee board ran the exterior length of the bed, which would provide security during stormy seas, but would make entering and exiting the bed somewhat problematic.
A problem, he reasoned, that could be easily solved if they simply never left the bed. He must remember to offer up this solution to Elizabeth.
William busied himself unloading the top two trunks from the luggage cart and arranging several of the smaller packages that Elizabeth had purchased while in Liverpool. By the time he'd sorted through his satchel, George had finished his ice cream; Elizabeth took the paper cone and discarded it in the small waste bin.
"George, could you please place the two larger trunks in the hold?" William asked.
"With pleasure, sir," George gushed, a little too zealously. "That is to say, thank you, sir...ma'am. I don't know when I've enjoyed my job more." George said, blushing furiously at his own boldness and backing toward the door.
"Thank you, George. I'm sure we'll be seeing more of you on the trip," Elizabeth waved an enthusiastic goodbye to him and George hoisted the luggage cart over the threshold and left the cabin, closing the door behind him.
They spent the next hour sorting through their luggage and arranging things inside the cabin. Since space was limited, it was critical to only leave out necessities, storing the remainder in the trunks that were strapped to the wall.
As he'd finished his own unpacking, he watched as Elizabeth carefully hung her dresses in the small wardrobe at the foot of their bed. She was deep in thought, smoothing out the folds of a blue and green frock.
"What is it, Elizabeth? You appear to be concerned about something. Earlier you'd expressed reservations regarding the seaworthiness of the vessel. Is that bothering you?"
She flashed her gaze to him, her lips held in a reassuring smile. "It's not that at all."
"What is it then?" he pressed.
"It's these dresses. I know that we're supposed to wear black and be in mourning and all - since the death of your mom. It's the way you people do things."
"You say 'you people' as though we English are a kind of tribe."
She bit her lip and raised her eyebrows, but said nothing. And she still looked concerned.
He moved to her side and touched her cheek gently with his fingertips. "Darling, we've spoken of this at length. We could not have been wed had we maintained mourning. It simply, well, it would not be done. It's a decision we did not come to lightly and one that I do not regret. My concern is that you are regretting it."
"I just don't want you to think that we're forgetting your mother."
"We're not, my love. But we needn’t wear costumes in order to remember my mother. These customs are not carved in stone. The vast majority of mourning practices are a matter of fashion. They came along with Queen Victoria and will likely leave with her as well."
He tucked his hand beneath her chin and pulled gently, so that she looked directly at him.
"Mother is part of the warp and weave of our life's fabric. You couldn't pull a thread without finding her there. We carry her with us every day and we will continue to honor her in our way - not in the way society dictates. We tend to not do a great many things that society tells us to do. Please, darling, no regrets."
She smiled at him and nodded. As she lifted the gown to place it in the wardrobe, she dislodged a parcel wrapped in brown paper.
"Oh, there it is. I'd been wondering where it had gotten to." Elizabeth gave a sigh of relief.
"What would that be?"
"Our wedding photo!" She began to unwrap the package eagerly.
He couldn't help but chuckle. "Sweetling, I know you're terribly fond of the photograph, but I'm not certain that a ship's cabin is the ideal place to display it. I fear we'd be forever dodging it as the waves would send it flying from one end of the room to the other."
"I'm not a complete idiot, William." She rolled her eyes, then pulled open the cabin door and slipped out onto the deck. Rather than follow her, William finished strapping Elizabeth's trunk to the wall and busied himself checking the remaining wall straps.
In just a few moments, Elizabeth reentered the room with a red-faced George close behind. She was mid-conversation and William only caught the last bit. "...which is why I thought of you, George. Because I'm sure someone has had this problem before."
"Yes, ma'am. If you could just let me know what the problem is..." George trailed off, helplessly.
"Our wedding photo," Elizabeth replied. "If we set it out on top of anything, it will end up zooming around the room and making a mess. And there's no way to hang it on the wall either."
George watched her, wide-eyed.
"So...how do we do it?"
"Do it?" George repeated.
"How can we display it?" Elizabeth looked at George as though displaying the wedding photo was a crucial factor in the voyage - just possibly more critical to the journey than working steam engines.
Desperate to please, George looked around the room. "A gentleman on a previous voyage had a similar situation regarding several maps that he wished to display. You might do what he did, if you don’t mind an unusual solution, Mrs. Pratt," he began nervously.
"Unusual solutions are our absolute favorite thing. We specialize in them. What have you got, George?"
George gestured toward the low ceiling, where several pipes ran along the length of their cabin.
"If you would be amenable to afixing the photograph to one of these pipes, I would think that it would be quite secure for the journey, Ma'am. It would be displayed on the ceiling rather than the wall, however, which would be..."
"Brilliant, George!" Elizabeth patted him on the back with such enthusiasm that George stuttered forward a step. "And we can have a perfect view of it while we're in bed, William."
Although William would have thought it impossible for George to have blushed a more crimson shade of red, the boy somehow managed to accomplish it all the same.
"How should we...you know, afix it?" Elizabeth queried.
After a brief pause, George spoke. "I've some twine I use for luggage. It's quite crude, but you're most welcome to it." After digging in his pocket, he produced a roll of thick twine.
"Oh George, I don't know how to thank you!" Elizabeth leaned over and gave the boy a tight hug.
Following such an embrace with a lady, George was left with no words at all. His mouth hung open - a forgotten garden gate.
Photograph and twine in hand, Elizabeth climbed up on the bed and proceeded to place the portrait just above where they would lie. With the low ceiling, there wasn't quite room for her to stand, so she knelt on the bed as she set to her task, winding the twine around the edges of the photograph.
George moved toward the cabin door.
"George? Don't you want your string back?" William asked.
"Oh, no sir. Your missus is welcome to it. Most welcome," he stammered. "But I must get on with my duties, sir."
"Indeed, George. My gratitude again," William replied, as George gave a brief nod and hastily backed out of the room.
William admired his wife as she stretched up to tie a length of twine to the portrait. Her movements pulled her bodice tightly across her breasts and it afforded William a most pleasant view.
"I could assist you with that, darling," he said, already knowing what her response would be.
"I've got it well under control, husband. But thanks for your chauvinism, I mean chivalry, all the same." She grinned widely at him as she tied off her final knot and collapsed back down onto the bed to admire her handiwork.
"Oh William, come here," she gestured excitedly.
Join his wife? In bed? William couldn't quite move fast enough, lifting his legs over the troublesome lee board with an ease that surprised him.
He settled in beside her, tucking one arm about her waist, as he lay back to join her in admiring the photograph - their wedding portrait, taken a mere three days prior. They'd arranged to visit the studio immediately following the ceremony. The wedding itself had been small and circumspect, held at a Scottish church just on the outskirts of Liverpool. It had been a necessity to have a wedding outside of his church - to have married Elizabeth immediately following the death of his mother would have simply not been done in his own parish.
So they'd waited until they'd arrived in Liverpool and found an agreeable congregation of Scots Presbyterians who were more than happy to accommodate the couple. He'd feared desperately that his bride would be disappointed with the simplicity of the affair, but Elizabeth seemed nothing short of delighted by the brief ceremony. Her enthusiasm for the event had delighted the vicar and his wife. She was so charming, in fact, that the vicar's wife managed to throw together a small reception in her parlor on short notice. After they'd nibbled on shortbread and punch, they'd chatted up the few congregants who had shown up at the ceremony and then arrived for their scheduled wedding portrait on High Street - a short walk from their hotel.
As he looked at the photograph, he leaned over to brush a kiss against his wife's cheek.
"You do like the picture, after all, don't you?" she asked.
"Very much, Elizabeth," he murmured.
And he did. Though the photographer protested throughout Elizabeth's endless suggestions, in the end, his wife charmed the befuddled man into taking the portrait exactly the way she'd envisioned.
The portrait itself was slightly unusual for the time - just as the couple it represented were two or three steps out of sync with Victorian society. For in this portrait, the couple did not wear solemn expressions; the bride was not demurely seated upon a chair with her husband standing behind her, his hands upon her shoulders as though she might bolt at any moment.
This bride and groom were standing, side-by-side, with clasped hands. The groom was not wearing a hat; indeed, his hair was curly and unruly enough to suggest that it had been quite recently mussed by an overenthusiastic wife. The bride's hair was even more unsettling; instead of being tied back in a proper bun, it was flowing down, arranged in no style at all. And these oddities weren't even the most remarkable aspect of the portrait. Not at all.
The thing that really set it apart was the expression on the faces of both bride and groom. They were looking into the camera and beaming blindingly bright smiles.
William chucked to himself. It was odd, it was simply not done, and it was bloody marvelous.
Elizabeth tucked her head just beneath his chin and nudged the tip of her nose under his jaw line. When she leaned in to give him a gentle, suckling kiss, he felt the air whoosh out of his chest - absolutely powerless to her.
"The ship will set sail in just under an hour. It should be quite a spectacle," William said, more out of duty than from a desire to see the said spectacle. He had desires, oh yes, but not the kind that had to do with ships.
"There's to be the traditional firing of some kind of gun," he continued. "A once in a lifetime event, not to be missed. And the throngs on the docks become quite celebratory and will..."
Elizabeth bit the tip of his earlobe gently, which effectively swept all ship-related thoughts far out to sea.
"You know," she purred, "I do believe our door locks, Mr. Pratt."
William sighed. "It would seem to be a standard feature which we should...test."
She slid her hand down the length of his chest, leisurely, before sliding her clever fingertips just beneath his shirt.
"And...the bed." William said, his mind becoming muddled in the fog of desire. "It would be prudent to...gah!" She ran her fingertips across his abdomen, teasing his tensing muscles with the slightest pressure from her fingernails.
"Prudent to...gah?" Elizabeth teased.
"To test...the bed...for..."
"For safety?" she suggested.
"Exactly so," he said, as he reluctantly climbed over the lee board to slide the door's locking mechanism into place.
Elizabeth sat up in bed and removed her hair from its bun, as was her habit when they were alone. She kept her gaze steadily upon him as she began to slowly undo the buttons of her bodice, a secret smile playing at her lips. Watching her, he felt phenomenal joy and a feeling of overwhelming gratitude at the fantastic luck he'd been given. That an unremarkable man such as he would be granted this kind of wife, this kind of life.
He placed his hand on his chest, just to steady himself, the silly romantic fool that he was. His Elizabeth was watching him still, but she didn't mind, didn't see him as a fool. Her smiled only widened at the gesture.
As he climbed over the troublesome lee board, he knew that there could not be on the face of the whole earth a man more contented than he. He slid into her arms, back home where he belonged, and the faint sounds of the farewell celebration caught on a breeze and carried through their cabin walls.
Just below them, on the Liverpool docks, within a tightly-packed group of crates, a creature waited.
The creature had chosen this temporary tomb, this crude wooden crate, but had chosen it only out of necessity, only out of the promised (hungry, so hungry) reward. The Shining Man had promised; the creature had chosen.
The crate was painstakingly constructed to carefully conceal what was hidden inside. It featured two thicknesses of wood, so it would be impossible to glimpse the contents, even through a crack in the planks. But even with no window to the world, the creature could tell where it was - exactly where it intended to be. The smell of ocean and of sweating men confirmed that it was waiting on the Liverpool docks (and hot, so hot, but mustn’t make a sound).
The creature could feel the box being jolted and then slammed roughly down on its side before being lifted, apparently by two men - one at either end of the crate. The creature repositioned itself (but carefully, carefully) while the container was hoisted down a series of stairs and turns.
Eventually, with a loud thud, the crate was slammed to the ground (mustn’t cry out, mustn’t make a sound) before being slid across a few feet of floor. After a few more thuds, the creature could hear the sound of men's footsteps, thumping away.
It was cooler here. Darker too, the creature could tell. Moving to the corner, the creature sat down, back against the wood. No longer uncomfortable with heat, consumed instead with that steady throbbing (so very hungry) that always beat steadily away from within it's core. The hunger, with sharp teeth (spiny legs of sharpest glass), crawled up the creature’s throat. Oh, the creature had a creature of it's own, living down inside: the constant, pitiless hunger.
And the creature waited in the dark, listened to the sound of its hunger and waited. (Soon now, the Shining Man promised, time to feed and feed and feed.)
Chapter End Notes:
Author's note: Ice cream was the rage in Victorian England, and vendors were primarily recent Italian immigrants, who were called Hokey Pokey men because of their call for ice cream was “Gelati, ecco un poco!”
With any luck, here you will see a photo of The Adriatic. I don't think I've taken any liberties at all where the ship's description is involved. She had many journeys between Liverpool and New York City in 1880 and I feel pretty certain that Elizabeth and William were on board for the August 13 sailing. :)
This site is not affiliated with big scary corporations that could sue my pants off, I don't own Buffy the Vampire Slayer (though I desperately want Spike:) This site and its content is meant to entertain, not infringe:)