Thursday, December 6, 2007

Watching the Watchers

Father — or rather, the man whom I was raised to believe was my father — tried to instill in me the importance of journals and thorough note-keeping to any and all scientific endeavors. In that respect, I have failed the man. Here, I have made no entry since Monday, November 26th, 18--. A period during which much of note and consequence had transpired, and a period I do not presently have time or energy to recount. Instead, I will focus on yesterday, for I believe that yesterday bodes ill, indeed. I will note, though, that numerous residents of New Babbage have confirmed the "cuckoos'" interest in myself, and more alarmingly, in my daughter, Elenore. It began with a worried note from Miss Janus, and has been followed by warnings from such varied townspeople as Miss Alina Standish, Dr. Arkitekt Undercity, a young girl name of Pollyanna Nightfire, and the enterprising urchin Loki Eliot. The messages range from the vaguest of inquiries to a claim that the two twins wish to give myself and Elenore "a surprise."

Yesterday, after passing many hours over a particularly sticky chemistry problem at the Abney Park laboratory, I strolled south, past the Museum, on down to the Canal District and the skating rink across from Ruby Flanagan's public house. There I was greeted, once again, by the pale staring twins. Since I first mentioned them in my November 8th entry, the pair have made themselves increasing conspicuous, and I would daresay that, at this point, the majority of the city's populous has seen them at some point. Regardless, there they stood, on the avenue running north to south (bordering the skating rink on the west). They were on foot, without their usual bicycles. Determined to make some headway into this mystery, with Miss Paine at my side, I confronted them. It is difficult to convey in words the sense of dread they impart, even in one such as myself, who has encountered many dreadful beings. They spoke first.

"Good day," one said, and the other finished the salutation, "Professor."

I said that I'd been told that they wished with speak with me, and immediately one of the two informed me "That. Is. Mistaken. We. Not speak yet."

At this point, Miss Paine asked, " Do you mean to speak with her in the future, then?"

And, growing impatient and angry, I said something like, "I would have you know, though, I am watching you, and I have watched worse."

"We. Watch. Too." one of the cuckoos replied, but the other asked Miss Paine, "What is future?"

I told Artemisia to let the matter rest, that they would speak to me when they were ready and not before. But the twins continued to ask about the nature of the "future," inquiring as well what I might know of them. I replied, "I know that you, like me, are not of this world." They persisted with their question about the future, and I replied, "Time. Now. Before. Later," attempting to recreate something of their syntactic pattern. Their response? "All. Events. Are. There is no before later. Future is Before. Future is now." Fixing their stark, staring faces, I said, in all earnestness, "I have had times when I would tend to agree with you, yes. But there is a sort of...utility to the notion of future."

When I confronted them about Miss Beq's report that they'd said they wished to gift myself and Elenore with "a surprise," one of the two answered, ""Perhaps. Later." At my wit and patience's end, I left the two and walked across the skating rink to speak with young master Loki, busy assembling a fruit stand. The "cuckoos" stood on the street and stared at me for quite some time. Finally, I returned to the clock tower at the center of the rink and stared back at them. I was joined there by Dr. Undercity, and we spoke briefly of the twins. Soon, the two moved away north, towards Babbage Square. I confess I was relieved to see them go. The encounter could not have lasted for more than half an hour, start to finish, and yet it is certainly my longest meeting with them thus far.

A little later, Miss Paine and I were returning to Abney Park. As we passed the Imperial Theatre, Miss Paine paused and asked if I minded if she went inside. Though uncertain why anyone — and the two of us, least of all — should desire to enter that dreadful place, I nonetheless acquiesced and followed her down to the basement where the deactivated Eliot device is still stored, displayed for curious sightseers. And there, Miss Paine almost at once discovered an odd hemispherical mechanism, no larger than an orange. It pulsed softly, giving off a violet glow. Realizing at once its provenance, I told her we must go to the laboratory and search it thoroughly. I knew — and I cannot say how, anymore than I may explain how Miss Paine found the original device — that if a second mechanism was to be found in Abney Park, it would be in the loft where Elenore was born. And, indeed, I quickly located it beneath a stack of crates. I attempted to move the object, but discovered that it seemed to exist slightly out of phase with this reality, and I was unable to touch the thing, much less lift it from the floor. Later, Miss Paine discovered a third device, on the second level of Ogdred Weary House. The pattern here is undeniable, the associations with myself and Elenore, as well as the awful Porta Terrarum Device.

I have too many questions. Do the "cuckoos" merely seek some way of leaving this world? Are they merely stranded, as I once was? Or is some more diabolical force in back of their presence here? Most of all, I fear for Elenore's safety, and I am considering sending her away to be with Bellatrix Bracken in Steelhead until this crisis passes. Truthfully, I miss the now-disbanded League. Leon Susenko and the robotic reincarnation of Lucuis Sin are nowhere to be found. Little is seen of Gloriana Maertens. I have Miss Paine and the urchins. I have Miss Beq Janus, who seems almost as distrustful of me as she does of the twins, having accused me of knowing more of them than I have told. She is correct, of course, but I have learned from the episode with the Eliot Device and Jason Moriarty: few here are to be trusted, and panic is the likely result of shared truth. I am still seen as an outsider, and an odd one, at that, and I must not risk Elenore's well-being by drawing undo attention to myself. I cannot incite the sort of suspicion I suffered during the Eliot affair. I am very tired and will try to write more later.

Addendum: Shortly after dawn, Miss Paine located a fourth device, identical to the three mentioned above, in the Palaeozoic Museum. Is it the last?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Editor's note:

On the evening of the 26th of November, Prof. Nishi released the following general announcement to the populus of New Babbage:

This is an urgent warning from Prof. Nareth E. Nishi to the citizens of New Babbage. There has been an accident in my Abney Park laboratory involving a small but potent quantity of radium, and though the incident has been contained and poses not [sic] threat to surrounding structures, I ask that all persons stay clear of the laboratory until the deadly radioactive matter can safely be disposed of. Thank you.

Monday, November 26, 2007


It has now been four full days since the birth of my daughter, whom I have named Elenore, in accordance with her express wishes. I was alone at the Abney Park laboratory, Miss Paine having left to run an errand for me, when the contractions began. Or, rather, what I at first mistook for the usual sort of muscular contractions preceding a birth. Though I was unable to make it back to our rooms above the Museum, with great effort did I gain the loft in the laboratory, and there lay down, hoping that Miss Paine would soon return.

I have already made a more extensive and, I hope, a more objective and scientific account of Elenore's birth and posted it to Bellatrix at her home in Steehead. Here, I wanted only to write something of how the event has effected me, and of my fears of the days that lie ahead. I am still not fully recovered, and I tire much too easily. I have made a great show of being well for the benefit of both Artemisia and the people of New Babbage. I must do my best to keep the latter from finding Elenore, from seeing her, until she is ready to be seen.

I lay on the freezing floor of the loft, my breath fogging as my body was wracked with the paroxysms of my daughter's coming. Though I had tried my best to learn all I could of the reproductive biology of the Nebari race, the truth is that I learned very little, and I was therefore entirely, wholly unprepared for what next occurred. Having managed to remove most of my clothing, I watched in horror and amazement as a vertical slit opened from a point just below my sternum and extending the full length of my abdomen to a point just above the Mons Pubis. Beginning as a shallow furrow, it soon widened and started to excrete a clear mucosal substance mixed with my blue Nebari blood. Within a span of time that could not have exceeded much more than ten minutes, the furrow had grown to a width of at least eight centimetres. I could clearly see, through a thin membrane, certain vital organs, as well as the thick, distended amnion.

At this point, the pain became almost unendurable, and my observations of the events that followed are not to be considered reliable. I believe I must have lost consciousness for several minutes. I came around to the cries of Miss Paine, who had returned to discover me lying on the loft floor with that gaping maw where my abdomen ought to be. I believe I asked her to remain at the door and not come near me, but I am not sure. Regardless, she came to me and held my head as the birth proceeded, overcoming her terror to whisper such attempts at comfort as she could manage.

The amnion swelled until it simply spilled out of my body, at which point the furrow in my belly rapidly began to close again. Almost immediately, the ovum was discharged, a huge transparent thing, and I watched in disbelief as it sprouted numerous tentacles or arms and began to drag itself towards a corner of the room. I could, at this point, clearly see the foetus curled inside the egg. The whole thing continued to expand at an incredible rate, and suddenly it ejected some coiled and fibrous process which smacked loudly, wetly against the low ceiling. There they stuck fast, and the tentacled ovum or amnion hoisted itself upwards until it dangled approximately a metre above the floor. There was, at this tme, a hideous, squelching noise, and the egg "coughed out" a great quantity of some soupy reddish matter not dissimilar to a mammalian afterbirth. I later examined a sample of this tissue, and determined that it did, in fact, contain haemoglobin, and so I have concluded it must be Gallifreyan in origin and not Nebari tissue. As the egg hung there, my daughter dangling head-down above me, the waving tentacles sprayed something not unlike spider silk, shrouding the whole of the egg and adding, I suppose, another protective layer.

It is my belief that during my battle with the "Great Old Ones" invited into this world by Eliot's Porta Terrarum device, Elenore must have managed to secure hereditary molecules from those alien beings, matter she suspected would help protect her during this vulnerable period. The tentacles, ringed about on two tiers, bear a powerful neurotoxin (though I seem to have been granted immunity).

I am too tired to write any more now. I do not know how much longer it will be until Elenore emerges. Only Beq and Gloriana have seen her thus far, and my greatest fear is that she will be discovered in this interim. I cannot entirely blame the fearful attitudes of the men and women of Babbage following the events of September, but my first and foremost duty is to my daughter and my creator, Elenore. I will defend her however I may, and even unto my own death, if needs be. I hardly sleep now, and will remain here in the loft whenever possible, keeping this vigil.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Various and Sundry, and Elenore

As of my last entry in this journal, I had every sincere intention of forcing myself back into the habit of keeping it current. But the world has other plans, always, and too many dire matters vie for my attention, and the days slip so quickly by.

It is with tremendous relief that I report my attempt to restore Miss Paine to her proper age has met with success. Though I still only partly understand the forces at work in her unfortunate transformation, I suspected, after long hours of calculation, that I might reverse the process by sending Artemisia through the TTC, after having carefully placed one of the temporal "needles" where the mysterious carousel so recently stood, inside the auditorium of the dread Imperial Theatre. I think the greatest difficulty lay in persuading Miss Paine that this was, indeed, the correct course of action. I confess that I waited too long to try to reverse the effect, being delayed and distracted by other pressing things, and her mind had begun a regression in tune with that suffered by her physiology. But, afraid and doubtful and, I think, resentful, she passed through the cabinet at Abney Park and rematerialised but an instant later in the Imperial. I found her there, sitting alone in the theatre's front row, close to tears, but an adult once more. She continues to be afflicted by a melancholy which I attribute to these travails, and which I can only hope will pass with time. As for the tales of a spectre or phantasm named "Angry Jenkins" and the possibility that such a being played a role in Miss Paine's transmutation, I dismiss these rumours out of hand and the basest superstition.

Alas, I cannot dimiss the matter of the alien "cuckoos" who have come to New Babbage, but more on this problem later.

My pregnancy seems to be proceeding as expected, based upon what little I could discover about the reproductive anatomy of this body. I suspect the developing ovum will be expelled in less than another week, and we are making provisions for its safe keeping at Abney Park, as I cannot hope to attend it until it is mature enough to attend itself. Itself, I say, and see the callousness in my words. Some part of me still wishes to view this whole affair as completely apart from me, another experiment or problem requiring only the requisite consideration to solve. Which proves my resurrection in September did not entirely rid me of all my foolish ways. I have met this child, grown into a woman, more than a hundred years into the future of this timeline and across an unimaginable gulf on space. I have spoken with her in another time and on another world. Elenore Darwin. My daughter, and as I begin to understand, my mother, as well. I do not try too hard to comprehend this paradox. I am trying simply to accept it. That, long ago, a Gallifreyan woman made provisions for her eventual rebirth, once the weapon created by her master had been undone...but I get so far ahead of myself. I have stood with her, hand in hand, and looked into her eyes, and we have talked of so very many things. She be...a beautiful woman, and sane, and for that last part I am supremely grateful. The horrors of this past year have not been in vain! Ah, but there was fear on her face as well, and many things she would not or could not tell me. One paradox is too much a danger, and I must weather the rough waters ahead without the foreknowledge she might have given me. Above all things, I must keep this child safe.

She moves inside me. It is the most extraordinary feeling. I have existed in so many incarnations down the millennia leading me to this place, and I have witnessed such miracles and wonders. And though many are your equal, dear Elenore, not one yet ever has exceeded this sensation inside me, or the fact of so frail a life existing in the hostile, unforgiving, and more often than not simply indifferent void of this and every universe.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Return to New Babbage

Editor's Note: Following the Elliot affair, Prof. Nareth E. Nishi disappeared from New Babbage for a period of almost two months. Her whereabouts during that time remain a mystery. The story spread by her assitant, Artemisia Paine, that Prof. Nishi was at an undisclosed location in the tropics gathering cuttlefish, is best viewed with suspicion. What follows is her first entry to this journal following her return to New Babbage.

— Bellatrix Bracken

I have missed this dirty old town. I truly have. In my many weeks away, the terrible pall that seemed, in my mind, to lie draped across the city has dissipated. For so long after that terrible day at the Imperial Theatre, I could not even bear to think upon this place. But I feel I am returning home. Though, I must admit, returning home to new and terrible chaos. Through some mysterious contraption erected in the Theatre, Miss Paine has been reduced to an state somewhere between ten and eleven years of age. I suspect that Loki Eliot is innocent in this matter, and that the old carousel which rendered Misi thus was affected by a residual temporal flux. The Eliot device, on display is the Theatre's basement, remains inactive. I have re-examined it closely. After many days of studying the situation, I believe that I may be able to reverse the process of Miss Paine's unwelcomed re-adolescence. The Temporal Teleportation Cabinet has been unpacked and is running again in the Abney Park facility. I merely need to calibrate it to the correct coordinates at the Imperial and send Misi through. I believe she will be quite safe, and the process should be effective. I will place a small vortex at the other end, through which she will pass before re-materializing.

Also, I fear a new alien presence has manifested itself locally. I will write more on this later, but I have little doubt that this case is closely related to that of the "Midwich Cuckoos." I confronted a pair of these peculiar "children" outside the lab on Hallowe'en night, and let that entity know that I recognised it for what it was. They only stared back at me silently. There have been other sightings, before and after my own.

Finally, by some as yet unexplained means, I find myself with child. I have learned what I can of Nebari reproductive physiology, and I suspect I shall likely give birth to the ovum or "egg" in another month or so. I can hardly think of any development that would have been more inconvenient. There is much to be said on this subject, but I must say it another time.

Last night there was snow in New Babbage, the first of the winter.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Shutting the Door: Part Three

The days rush past, a dizzy flurry of hours and minutes, and here I have allowed almost a week's worth of them to come and go since last I sat down to record my part in the events of last Saturday. Too easily and agreeably am I distracted from recalling this terrible affair, and I have welcomed the work the Museum has required of me. But I know that I must keep my promise, and so I will now make an end to this account, though I doubt it will satisfy you, Bella. What you desire is quite beyond my ability to recall, much less document.

I will also here note the arrival this past week in New Babbage of a physician by the unusual name of Akiteckt Undercity, a rather peculiar young woman whom I have taken into my confidence. I will admit that I find myself somewhat at a loss to explain this sudden trust, and I am wary of making another mistake of the kind and magnitude I once made with Molly Underwood. Dr. Undercity claims to have begun her own experiments in time travel, though I have come to suspect that she is not half so knowledgeable as she would have me believe her to be. I have done my best to discourage her from the path of her investigations, and I fear I have told her many things I would have been better off keeping to myself. Time will tell, of course. She did not witness the events at the Imperial Theatre, though it seems news of those events may have led her here.

Bella, I really must make my conclusion to this account as brief as possible, for my nerves cannot endure any lengthy or detailed recollection of that day.

As I have said, when the portal opened by Eliot's device parted the veil of space and time, allowing those beings some have called the "Great Old Ones" entry into this world, I opened a second vortex, one leading back to the universe of my birth and to the machine I have here called the Whole. Believing that I had decided to allow myself to be reclaimed, she welcomed me, and as those dreadful elder things began to fill the skies above New Babbage, I transmitted the extraction protocol. But I had managed to situate my vortex so that rather than pulling me to her, the Whole dragged towards her the creatures summoned by Jason Moriarty. Inside the theatre, I used myself as a sort of conduit, redirecting the energy flowing out of the Porta Terrarum mechanism in such a way that is was fed directly back into the device, almost immediately causing it to overheat. A terrific explosion followed, filling the auditorium with smoke and great billows of flame, and the delicate innards of Professor Eliot's contraption were fused and rendered useless. Moriarty's portal was slammed shut.

Immediately, the blue-white plume rising from the Imperial vanished, leaving only the three monstrous "Old Ones," which only moments later were claimed, one by one, by the vortex I had created. And then I sealed that doorway after them. It is at this point, in a final, vicious surge of power from the Whole, guessing my deception too late to forestall the consequences, that I fell, plunging back to earth, landing unconscious upon the bridge which spans the canal between Ginsburg's and the theatre. I am told I spoke a few words to Miss Paine and Gloriana Maertens, though I myself have no such recollection.

And here it is that I come to that portion of the tale, Bella, that I suspect you are most keen to hear, but also that portion which I am the least eager to relate. Though I have only just said that I was "unconscious," the truth is that while my body lay upon that bridge, my mind was occupied elsewhere. In a darkness so perfect and profound I found myself unable to even remember the very fact of light, I listened as someone or something spoke to me. And eventually I realised that the speaker was, in fact, the same voice that had called upon me to stand as a shield against the "Old Ones." I would name it the voice of this world, though in so doing I know I only raise more questions. But that is what is was, truly. And from it I learned that my automaton shell had been battered beyond all hope of repair in the encounter and could not now hope to survive. And the voice then offered me two paths, from which I might freely choose: I could "die," which I believe would have meant the merciful release of senseless oblivion, or I could return in a new body provided me by this world. I chose the latter, and from memories stored within my failing self was that new form constructed. Not a body of liquid metal as I had previously inhabited, but one of living flesh and blood, sinew and bone, fashioned after the race known as the Nebari, whom I encountered at the age of "seventeen" during that first accident in my father's time cabinet.

On the bridge, before the startled eyes of any number of New Babbage's populace, I vanished, reappearing shortly thereafter in the garret above the Museum. Briefly possessed of some vestige of my former telepathic abilities, I called out to Miss Paine, and she heard me. She came, bringing with her Loki Eliot and the orphans, and the sight of them gladdened my soul (if I ever may be said to possess such a thing). Though alarmed at my somewhat altered appearance, they were relieved to see me, as well, and I lay on the chaise lounge while they milled about and asked questions I could not ever hope to answer. Glory was there, too, and more briefly, Captain Susenko. But, as you may well imagine, I was confused and exhausted, and too soon found it necessary to end our joyful reunion. I fell into the deepest sleep of my life, then, and if I dreamt, I did not dream of the Whole and her burning seas and endless halls of blinding light.

Make of these words what you will. For now, they are the best I can do, but I will not be insulted if you dismiss them as a lie or as the raving of an unhinged mind. I must go now, for work calls, but once again, and hopefully not for the last time, I thank you, dear Bellatrix, and hope that these pages find you well.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Shutting the Door: Part Two

I am trying to return to the day-to-day business of managing the Palaeozoic Museum, reopened now since Friday. I crave the mundane work of science once again, though, I must admit that part of me is becoming restless, following the chaos and uncertainty, the fear and danger of the past month. Last night, Miss Paine and I wandered down to the Canals and sat a while with Gloriana and the orphan Jimmy Branagh, and I told her of Bella's decision. We were delighted when Lucius showed up, quite unexpectedly, for we see so awfully little of him these days. He was eager for news of Moriarty's defeat and, I think, somewhat shocked at my altered appearance.

I am not keen to continue the narrative I began yesterday, but, as I've said already, it is the least I can do for Bellatrix. For without her level-headed intervention in July, Miss Paine might never have "recovered" from the werewolf attack in Kittiwickshire, Caledon. Still, I hardly know how to pick it up again. By the hour, the details seem to fade, and my reluctance to recount them redoubles.

My first warning of the impending disaster on Saturday was Moriarty's sudden, sickening presence in my mind, while I attended a meeting beneath Babbage Square. Quickly, I discerned that Myrtil had kept her appointment, and, still passing myself off as someone working towards the same fiendish ends as Moriarty, I asked him not to touch her, to leave her to me, hoping in this way to at least spare her life. Truthfully, he was so elated to have Victor Wunderlich's piece of the Eliot device, I think Moriarty had lost any interest in murdering any single person. As quickly as I could, I rushed to the Imperial, sensing little time remained to forestall his plans. When I arrived there, I discovered Myrtil, along with Mckay Beck and one or two other of the urchins, all of them terrified and dashing about. In short order, I learnt that Moriarty had all the components and that he had retreated into some heretofore unsuspected subterranean chamber below the theatre. Soon, working together, we had located the trapdoor leading down to this chamber.

I am sorry, Bella, but from here, any straightforward narrative is not possible, not for me. I shall do the best I can, but already the proceeding hour or two have become a blur.

Still believing I was his confederate, Moriarty admitted me to the room where, I discovered, he had re-asssembled and triggered the Porta Terrarum device. I stared in horror at the machine, at its genius and in full knowledge of the damage it had already wrought upon this world. Moriarty talked, and I listened, responding only with such words as would not betray my genuine purpose. He informed me that, via alchemical and biological studies, Eliot had made of his own grandson the true third component of the device, and that young Loki's blood was the key. The man was insane, and I knew there was no hope of appeal to reason, of dissauding him from the course he had long since charted. I did my best to keep the orphans clear, shutting myself in that pit with Moriarty as the device thrummed and the very fabric of space and time began to bend about me.

There were many witnesses to the crackling plume of blue-white energy that rose from the center of the theatre, passed from the Porta Terrarum device up into the theatre's "projector," which them carried it across the auditorium to the "screen" — in truth some mechanism that magnified and redirected the beam heavenward. I shall not here waste my strength and patience in describing it, though I have heard some compare it to a gigantic flower of light and heat. Certain of his victory, Moriarty lowered his guard, as the sky was rent with the loathsome howl of the otherworldly creatures that had begun to enter by way of the vortex forming high above the Imperial. I did the only thing I was certain would give me any possible advantage. I opened myself to the Whole, dropping all my carefully built defenses, and calling her to retrieve me at last.

As the Old Ones emerged in the skies of New Babbage, I sent the codeword that had eluded her. My body responded, taking that truer form, casting aside so much of the illusion of flesh, and I shoved Moriarty aside. Furious at my betrayal, he demanded to know what I was doing, and so I told him. Whatever shreds of sanity the man might still have harboured were, I believe, lost in that instant. He transformed once more into wolfish form, but compared to the things he had invited into this world, even that fiendish visage seemed tame. I ignored him and set about attempting to contain the immense flux of energy the Eliot device was releasing. As the theatre filled with roiling balls of flame, I rose above the building and met the tentacled nightmares in the sky. And it was then that the Gallifreyan weapon, that entity I call the Whole and of which I was created to serve, opened a second vortex to claim me.

So near to the end, I would prefer to conclude this account now and be done with it. But it shall have to wait, as I am being called away by Miss Paine to attend to matter downstairs in the Musuem.