We’re starting to get all Christmassy on the orbital death platform. We’ve strung up
vile humans fairy lights, wrapped tinsel around the lasers, hung a wreath over the mainframe and even attached a single, tiny bauble to each end of editorial assistant Nick’s moustache. It’s all looking rather festive!
We hope you’re all feeling similarly jolly. If not, here’s a Christmas story by Ishbelle Bee, author of dark fairy tales The Singular and Extraordinary Tale of Mirror & Goliath and The Contrary Tale of The Butterfly Girl, to get you in the
deathly festive spirits.
The Chiswick Cannibals
A mini peculiar Christmas adventure of John Loveheart Esq.
Christmas Eve, London
This entire blasted Christmas holiday, Constable Walnut and I have been investigating a nefarious flesh eating cult located within Chiswick, a west district London slum pit whose residents have become deformed over centuries of interbreeding and tripe worship.
This particular cult has proved tricky to catch, despite several ingenious attempts to lure the acolytes out- one such being, Walnut disguised as a poor Little Match Girl selling her wares on the steps of Chiswick town hall. Unfortunately this plan was abandoned as Walnut proved surprisingly popular as ‘rough trade’ to the locals; the ensuing fracas ended in several arrests including that of Walnut who in the defence of his innocence had head-butted a local dignitary.
Now it is Christmas Eve; exasperated, we are in my office re-reading old case notes, hoping to find some clue as to their exact whereabouts before the police Christmas supper later this evening, which I’m informed involves a shadow puppet re-enactment of the Jack the Ripper killings by our newest recruit, Constable Spud.
Outside, great handfuls of snow are falling, obscuring the city in a thick blanket of white.
Glancing up, to my surprise I see Mr Loveheart with a sprig of holly in his hair leaning mischievously against the door, dressed in festive silver embroidered with scarlet hearts, nibbling on a mince pie which he has no doubt plucked from Mrs Sultana’s tea trolley
‘A very merry Christmas Detective White and dear Walnut,’ he says, ‘How goes the hunt for those naughty cannibals?’
‘Not well,’ I reply, ‘If only we could get even a fragment of a clue.’
‘They’re in the basement of the Old Nut,’ and he winked
‘And you’ve failed to mention this before because!?’ I said aghast
Loveheart raised an eyebrow, ‘Well, I rather enjoyed seeing Walnut dressed up as The Little Match Girl.’
Infuriated, I gathered my pistols and Walnut his rocket launcher and the three of us headed off to Chiswick without further delay.
Under a full, rather glorious Christmas moon we arrived outside the Old Nut which was drenched in snow dust.
I picked the lock of the cellar door while Mr Loveheart decided to construct a snowman near the outdoor privy.
As the door creaked open, we descended on tiptoe into the gloom while Loveheart stayed behind engrossed in his artistry.
Slipping on the remnants of what I can only hope was a piece of plum pudding, we fell screaming to the bottom of the cellar steps.
‘The element of surprise has been lost I fear,’ squeaked Walnut, as we landed.
‘I concur,’ replied a sinister hooded figure sat round a table with two other hooded acolytes. The table was ornamented with flickering black candles, a heap of human organs and a solitary Christmas card.
I whipped out my pistol and aimed it at the one I suspected was the leader, ‘Enough tongue flapping! I am Detective White of Scotland Yard and I am arresting you for the procurement and consumption of human flesh. Kindly stand up and follow my Constable, whom you will notice is gripping a rocket launcher and has been given no formal training in the handling of such a formidable unlicensed weapon.’
‘That’s right, none whatsoever. It didn’t come with a manual,’ said Walnut.
The leader of the Chiswick cannibals smiled nervously, ‘I think you may be over reacting. Let me introduce my little group – this is Rod and Wesley (both hooded figures waved), and I (and he flipped off his hood), I am Gordon. Please, it is Christmas – don’t jump to irrational conclusions- this is not what it appears.’
‘Oh really, would you like to explain to me why three grown men are wearing hooded robes in a basement with a pile of intestines. What conclusion would you like me to jump to?’ I waited for an answer.
A flash of inspiration crossed Gordon’s face, ‘I can explain. Rod had a terrible accident and his bowels just fell out.’
‘SILENCE,’ I screamed
Rod gulped, ‘I have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with this. I was kidnapped. Knocked over the head.’
‘Me too,’ said Wesley, ‘I don’t know who these people are.’
I waved the pistol, ‘All of you get up and start moving.’
Gordon stared at Walnut, ‘Wait a minute, you bloody weirdo- you’re that cross dressing little match girl!’
Walnut fired the rocket launcher.
After an hour, Walnut and I managed to dig ourselves out the rubble. Mr Loveheart had finished his snowman and looked rather critically at his creation, ‘I must find a carrot for the nose.’
I dusted debris, a plank of wood and a human scalp from my coat and tried to focus as my vision was blurry, disorientated and probably in need of a surgeon, ‘Walnut, are you alright?’ I shouted out.
‘I’m not sure Sir,’ was the reply, ‘I’ve been blown up. Should I get a shovel and scoop the remains of that cult into an evidence sack?’
‘No, we need some medical attention first.’ My legs wobbled beneath me and I gripped Loveheart for balance.
‘Fear not, I’ve summoned the police surgeon, that ghoulish fellow Doctor Manglefoot,’ said Loveheart holding me upright.
Walnut hobbled towards us before collapsing face down in a heap of snow. I felt myself losing consciousness – a harem of glittering stars above me, winking and disappearing into black galactic soup.
I awoke on a stretcher carried away under starlight with the beady black eyes of Dr Manglefoot peering down upon me.
‘Is Constable Walnut alive?’ I asked half delirious through a chloroform soaked rag that he had applied to my mouth.
‘Tish tosh! Hee hee hee do not worry yourself Detective, your constable is fine. In shock of course but I can’t foresee any permanent brain damage ha ha ha HA
‘What are you laughing at?’
‘Help! Mr Loveheart, I’m not sure he’s medically qualified,’ I shouted. Before passing out I heard the swoop of a blade through icy air and glimpsed a freshly decapitated head zooming off into the darkness.
I awoke inside Mr Loveheart’s ancestral home to the sound of manic church bells tolling in Christmas morning. Mr Loveheart and Walnut were sitting by a roaring fire.
‘Happy Christmas Sir,’ said Walnut whose arm was in a sling.
Sitting up I suddenly noticed with horror the head of Dr Manglefoot impaled on the top of the Christmas tree. The baubles glowed strangely
Mr Loveheart offered me a bag of small sticky sweets.
‘ Humbug ?’ he said.