A 2-post collection

Fanfic Time: Bayville by Gaslight, part 2

Continued from yesterday:

  The still of the night. Theoretically, a time when every God-loving creature slept soundly. Millie left her quarters, eyes well used to the night, and found the master keys. She took extreme care not to make a sound as she slid silently into the darkness of the basement.

  The hallways beyond the familliar caverns of the laundry engines were much like residences in some kind of bomb shelter. It was a gloomy and eerie place, devoid of life.

  The level below, however, was not.

  Glass panels in the walls showed underwater scenes. Or so she thought until something within… *moved*. Millie caught the vaguest glimpses of something sinuous before she bolted around the nearest corner and concentrated on staying awake until the Vapours[1] dissipated.

  The last thing she needed to happen was to be found disobeying instructions.

  Now that her heart had stopped attempting to escape her ribcage, Millie became aware of a distant thumping, much like the beating of a giant heart.

  And since it was the giant heart, or the unknown wriggling things in the dark, Millie decided to chance the heart.

  As she crept closer, other noises made themselves known to her ears. Rattling, thumps and the hissing of a steam engine. Clattering clanks and an odd twanging, like someone attempting to play a mis-strung guitar.

  There was a big word on the door. Millie could recognise the letters from her evening lesson, but what they made together mystefied her.

  _Cerebro,_ in big letters, followed by, _Please ensure personal cleanliness before entering,_ in a smaller script underneath.[2]

  Not understanding, Millie opened the door as quietly as she could.

  What lay beyond was a giant maze of scaffolding, ratchets, cogs, gears, what appeared to be half an astrolabe, a globe of the world, and an astounding conglomeration of bits and pieces that millie barely recognized… and lots of parts that she didn’t.

  She was standing on part of a metal walkway that strung itself throughout the construction. No stairs. Just lots of ramps. Either the Professor frequented this - labyrinth of gleaming metal… or someone else who did was similarly incapacitated. Sparks above drew her eye to a native Indian[3] doing something peculiar to the confusion surrounding her. Millie quietly made for the nearest darkened corner of the walkway, lest he see her and raise an alarm.

  “Ah, Weatherby,” said a stranger’s voice behind her.

  Millie turned. He had his back to her, and was busy labouring at a type-writer.

  “I trust you remembered the existing file cards?” He turned, revealling himself to be hirsute[4] above and beyond the call of duty.


  He was *blue*.

  “You’re not Weatherby,” said the creature.

  Millie kept focussing on those great fangs erupting upwards out of his mouth, even though her eyes skimmed over his massive bulk and gorilla-like stance, when he stood, they returned anew to the fangs.

  She backed away out of instinct…

  And was caught on the verge of falling by the Indian.

  “I’d watch your step, miss,” he said. His English was remarkable[5]. Aside from that and the grease-stained denim, there was something horribly wrong with his other arm. It was merged with metal in some unholy union. “It’s a long way down to the boiler.”

  Millie shrieked, twisted out of his grip, and found a darkened passageway between the twin threats. Monster and savage[6] behind her, Millie desperately tried to remember which way the exit was.

  “Whup. Not so fast.” The creature that leaped up into her path - literally - was a bandy kobold covered in soot. His long arms spread out, blocking her path. “Don’ wanna go that way, yo[7].”

  No way to the sides, and the kobold jinked to meet a panicked stampede before she could think of trying one. His too-wide mouth showed many odd-coloured teeth - thankfully flat ones - as he chuckled.

  Left with no recourse, Millie turned to attempt bolting past the savage and the monster.

  Only to encounter another monster.

  He was tall and grey-skinned, likewise clad in denim and a work shirt, both of which fit him oddly. His mouth was like a wound in his hairless, dead flesh.

  “You are in the wrong place-sssssss…”

  The Vapours came to claim her.


  Todd caught her before she could hit the catwalk. “Gotta love it,” he said. “Not even a yelp. Smooth.”

  “I did not do anything,” grated Caliban. “I merely sssstood in the way.”

  “Yo, but'cha look like Frankenstein’s monster, y'know?” He hefted her with a slight grunt. “So where’s this li'l pretty belong, then?”

  “I do not know.” Caliban stood aside for him. “Sssssshe is not one of ussss.”

  “Oh *great*.”

 [1] “Coming down with the Vapours” is a synonym for fainting.

 [2] Because a babbage machine would also be persnicketty about fluff caught in its gears.

 [3] Yay Forge!

 [4] That’s ‘hairy’ to those who failed to swallow a thesaurus :D

 [5] 'Cause Indians all speak like Tonto in Millie’s world.

 [6] You just *gotta* love Victorian assumptions…

 [7] Yes, it’s Todd. Because he’s not paying for his schooling, he’s working with Hank as a sort of apprentice.



  “Girl?” Millie opened her eyes weakly to the rather incongruous sight of a lovely brunette, seemingly as fragile as porcelain, with an eyepatch.

  “I-I,ah…” Millie stammered out, feeling horribly confused. There had been a strange blue beast, and a corpse-like creature, a weird metal-man and a froglike kobold.

  “I think you’ve been sleepwalking,” the woman said firmly. “You’re the new maid, aren’t you? What’s your name, child?”



  “M-m-Mill-” she started, before the vapours rose up and claimed her completely. It was just too much. Honest, decent maids shouldn’t have to deal with such nonsense!


  At some point, she roused enough to feel arms carrying her- strangly thin ones, but strong enough to carry her weight. Turning her face slightly without opening her eyes, Millie could smell the faint odor of mossy water under sweat. She knew, in a sort of distant way, that she really ought to be jumping up and running scared about now- but the dark was just a little too comforting a barrier against thoughts of walking corpses and kobolds and women with eye-patches, of all things.

  So in the dark she stayed, quiet and still.



  Millie shot straight up in her bed, gasping. Oh, what dreams, what dreams she’d had-

  But that was just a dream. Probably just taking off on the small oddities she’d seen, making it into a great scary mess in true dream form. There was work to be done, she was sure, and a decent wage to be earned- oddities be cursed, she had a job and she was going to do it.

  So she rose and dressed, pushing the night out of her mind. As she buttoned her shoes, Millie glanced at the small dresser where she’d put her things on arriving and blinked at the sight of a bedraggled flower, almost unrecognizable and definitely wilted. [1]

 [1] Todd’s got a little crush, and is showing it with what he can afford- namely, a scrounged leftover. But it’s the thought that counts in a creepy inappropriate gothicy attraction…


  Man works from dawn of day, the old rhyme went, 'till set of sun - but a woman’s work is never done.

  Millie should have started before the sun thought of peeking above the horizon. As it was, now, she hurriedly bathed, rushed into her uniform, and began scurrying about to do her duties. Her face reddened at the thought of being abed until *five*[1].

  Some kind soul had already laid wood in the fireplaces[2], so all she had to do was light them. And thank the Lord that the kitchen had one of those new-fangled Arga stoves[3], and made it a simple matter to whip up scrambled eggs, bacon, sausages, flapjacks, and even a batch of her mother’s famous fruit muffins[4].

  Only then, did she attempt to catch her breath. In doing so, she spied the students undergoing morning calisthenics on the lawn. Odd that both they and their instructor wore peculiar white pyjamas whilst doing so. Well. Most of them.

  One figure stood out amongst the pyjama-clad throng, and he was wearing that same voluminous coat that he’d been seen in the previous evening. Insofar as Millie could tell, he was moving with the class. A class that had more student bodies in it than the students she’d been introduced to.

  This place was peculiar, but where else could she go?

  Millie dismissed her rambling thoughts and readied a tray for the Professor.

 [1] Servants usually do stuff *way* before their masters are out of bed.

 [2] Just one of the things Kurt does out of habit.

 [3] Invented as an oven/stove for the blind, the Arga uses a perpeual fuel source to stay warm. It didn’t achieve true popularity until the 1920’s, but Millie’s bound to have heard about them from her work.

 [4] Because she’s still learning to read, Millie wouldn’t dilly-dally with a book.



  Returning to the kitchen, Millie bumped into the new student. Again he wore that large coat, again he hid himself within his hood, again he avoided her gaze. She turned back to look at him as he stepped into the dining room, and her sharp eyes caught sight of- something- twitching out from the coat’s hem.

  It was blue. It was spaded, much like the Devil’s tail which she had seen in pictures. It moved. So Millie did what any good Victorian girl would do. She screamed.


  {Bamf!} Just like that, the newest student was gone, leaving nothing but a foul-smelling cloud where he had been. And even then, those noxious vapours dissipated quickly.

  By the time help arrived in the form of the stripling Scott Summers[1] and the near-skeletal and so-far-mysterious Weatherby, all they saw was her pointing in mute horror at a patch of thin air.

  “*Miss* Jones,” creaked Weatherby in tones of faint, yet highly-polished disapproval. “What *ever* has got into you?”

  “Should I fetch the smelling salts?” said Mr Summers.

  “I am *not* going to faint,” she said, more to dispell the encroaching vapours than to her erstwhile rescuers. “There was… something… cloak… demon…” the world hissed and buzzed and Millie became all too aware of her corsets[2] and their place in keeping her from much needed oxygen. She tried to will herself into consciousness, or at least into clarifying her half-gasped words, but darkness claimed her anew.


  Foul stench of the salts and the prickling of horsehair.

  “…get used to this happening with new help.” The cracked voice of Weatherby. “Though one has observed that precedent wears off within a week or so. Once it has, one must be next aware of sudden changes in fortune whisking them away.”

  Millie opened her eyes. The drawing room. So far, it was Weatherby - a gnarled stick of a man - and Mr Summers. No-one else seemed to know about her most recent date with the Vapours. She sat up and straightened herself. “Terribly sorry, sir,” she said. “I must make the table, now.”

  “That’s been seen to, Millicent,” said Weatherby. “In future it may be wise to lace one’s undergarments a trifle looser than normal. At least until one is well accustomed to some of the more… *unconventional* occurrences here at the manor.”

  Either these poor souls were ignorant of the danger they were in or - and Millie shuddered at the idea - they welcomed it, somehow. Whichever it was, she now had a concern to raise with the Professor. “I’ll… remember,” she said. “I have to see to the linnens.” She stepped lively, blushing all the while at her frequent bouts of unconsciousness. She’d lived her life in terror and only *now* was she letting it rule her. Well. There was something that could be done about it, so she was going to damn well *do* it.

  She rapped on the Professor’s door.

  “Come in, Millicent.”

  A brief chill overcame her as she did as she was bade. “Sir…” Millie began. Her voice stopped dead in her throat.

  It was the one-eyed valkyrie from the night before. Only this time, she was dressed in proper clothing[3]. A sweep of raven-dark hair almost hid the eyepatch and its attendant scar.

  “Callisto was telling me you found one of the basements.”

  “I…” _wasn’t sure it was real until now…_ “I must have been sleepwalking.”

  Callisto raised an eyebrow. “She must have,” she said. “She was looking more than a little vacant.”

  _Thankyou, I think,_ thought Millie. “Sorry if I… upset anything,” she babbled.

  “Or anyone?” prompted the woman.

  Xavier cleared his throat. “Perhaps you and young Mr Toynbee should attempt to counsel Mr Wagner.” Xavier tented his fingers. “Perhaps you may find you have a lot in common.”

  Callisto rolled her eye in a very eloquent suggestion that perhaps she may find the moon painted with buttercups, or mice singing quartets before such a thing occurred, but she marched out of the room, nonetheless.

  Xavier sipped his tea[4]. “I take it you have a concern about the new student?”


  “Something of a… little parlour trick,” he said. “You saw something that - unnerved you?”

  “I saw a demon’s tail!”

  “You’re certain?”

  “*Yes*! You’re all in danger!” Millie couldn’t understand how he was so calm. “You have a *demon* living under your roof.”

  “We do?” Xavier sounded mildly amused. “There’s a chapel in the west wing, if you feel like praying for salvation. However, I must make certain you’re sure of this. Millicent. There are no demons here. Only students, and the staff.”


  “I know what you saw. I also know that your current alternatives of action are… severely reduced.”

  That was a mild way of putting it. Most potential employers looked at her family and not at her. Xavier even trusted her with the silverware. “Yessir,” she said.

  “I maintain my statement that you are safe here. I give you my word as a gentleman towards that fact.”

  “But - what about–?”

  “Mr Wagner? He’s… a little upset. Nothing more. I’m sure if you took the time to acquaint yourself, you might find him a very rare fellow, indeed.” Xavier smiled. “A diamond in the coal mine, if you will.”

  “But I *saw*.”

  “You have nothing to fear from Mr Wagner. In fact… he’s more afraid of you than you were of him.”

  Millie found that more than impossible to believe.

 [1] Victorians had quite a different set of values, up to and including what constituted 'fully grown’.

 [2] Children of both genders were put into corsets as young as five. True stuph. Almost - but not quite - as bad as the tradition of foot-binding in Asia.

 [3] as opposed to a pair of denim overalls and a work shirt and cap.

 [4] Earl Grey, hot :D


Alas, this is all there is :( I’ll be putting it up on Titanpad as soon as I can get Titanpad to frelling work for me :(

Fanfic Time: Bayville by Gaslight

Interactive fanfic going below the cut:

From the pic at and the phrase, “Born into a world that clucks it’s tongue in ungentlemanly disapproval of them…” from Lesli’s site ^_^ I got the mental image of Scooter in a straw boater and wondered exactly how… *gothic* I could make such a fanfic foray.

Then I realised that I have next to zero time to write any fanfic,

Read more »