Episode 3 - "Barefoot in the Big City"
by Camille LaGuire
The one shoe Plink had left had been useful for feeling her way along when she went from the track to the road, but it was more trouble than help in walking, so she took it of and walked barefoot along the road toward the city and her second home in north Thronden.
The pain in her feet made it impossible to think, or to count time, but at least it made her less aware of the pain in her head. And her back. And her knees.
Thoughts swirled in Plink's mind as to who might want to kill her, but she was so weary that it was more like a bad dream of fractured images and idea, flitting by like angry flies.
She walked on, through muddy pools of what she hoped was water. She walked over sharp stones. She was barked at by dogs, and still never saw any place she'd like to stop for help. Or any place she thought there might be someone who could help.
But presently the streets became more narrow and buildings more crowded. She was too numb to really look at them. It still seemed silent and dead, but soon, perhaps she'd see a policeman or a place to call for help.
As she passed the dark specter of one more abandoned factory, its open door like a gaping maw of hell, two figures stepped out of that darkness. Unsavory men, lurking. Their voices were thin and reedy in the echoing night, but she could hear them well enough.
"Here, this looks like a bit of interest," said one of them.
They moved closer and the other, with a nasty sounding voice, called out, and not at all kindly: "Where you from, missy?"
Plink looked at them, decided they were not the sort of person she should speak to without introduction (a rule she normally did not follow, but here seemed appropriate). She saw a glint and realized one of them had a knife. They separated slightly as though to trap her.
She couldn't run away. They'd have her in a second. But she'd be blasted if she'd just faint on them. The honor of the Beethinghams demanded some reaction. So she let out scream and ran straight at them, raising her arms as far as the heavy cloak would allow, which wasn't far.
She imagined she looked rather like an angry goose, with her flapping arms and waddling uncertain gait. She hadn't the lung power to give a good solid highpitched scream, so it came out a deep ghostly howl.
The men turned tail and fled into the darkness whence they came. Plink staggered a few more steps and wrapped herself around a lamppost.
"Honk, honk," she said after them, in rather the same tone of voice you'd say take that!
She figured they might come back if she stayed too long and looked too weak, so she pushed herself away from that post and continued on her journey. The incident gave her a new surge of energy and she focused her mind on the nice hot bath she had waiting at home. And breakfast... yes, breakfast! She was starving.
The sky was quite bright by the time she staggered into Kerrington Lane, dreaming of bacon and sausages and grilled tomatoes, and toast and jam and kippers in that lovely cream sauce that only Mrs. Lister could make....
Mrs. Lister answered the door very quickly like she was waiting for the knock. She was fully dressed in her black housekeeper's habit. She wore it like a priest wore his vestements or a butler his waistcoat. But to be wearing it at this time of morning, she must have been waiting.
"Oh, your ladyship!" she cried, before Plink could say a thing. "We've all been so worried about you. They thought you had an accident!"
"It was no accident, Lister," said Plink and she staggered inside.
"We should get you to bed, your ladyship," said Lister.
"A bath," she said in reply. "A hot bath and then breakfast."
"I'll draw your bath and then call your aunts--"
"No!" said Plink. "No, I don't want anyone to know where I am."
"But they'll be worried, ma'm."
"Lister, someone tried to kill me. I don't know who, and I don't want them to know they failed. I don't want to tell anyone until I've had a chance to think."
Lister was silent. She was an old-school servant and did not like to contradict her betters, but she also had the backbone to do it anyway.
"Miss," she said, using the term of address she'd used when Plink was a child. "You can't just hide while everyone worries. And if someone is looking to harm you, how safe will you be here on your own? Let me call the police at least. And a doctor."
"I'll be better able to receive tham after a bath," said Plink. Lister made a slight harrumphing sound but accepted that.
Lister helped her upstairs and drew the bath while Plink dumped the cloak and peeled off her hat and dress and the remains of her stockings. The dress was a beaded, clinging affair, and its weight had become unbearable. Next party, she's wear silk chiffon, regardless of how scandalous it might be.
"What would you like for breakfast, ma'm?" asked Lister.
"Everything," said Plink, in a deep, haunted sort of voice. Mrs. Lister took her arm and helped her into the bath.
"Then you shall have everything, little miss."
It was GOOD to be home.
And she could always think better in the bath. If she didn't fall asleep.
Stay Tuned For Episode 4 - "Breakfast with the Rozzers"
(Available after 8am EST, Thursday)
(Available after 8am EST, Thursday)
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