Last week’s thunderstorms and wild seas cast a great many fish onto the bridge, and our platform out on the Devil’s Fingers. Amongst the more usual residents of the ocean, was a mermaid. Once the storm abated, her enthralling singing drew many folks towards the bridge. Those of us who remember the last such experience stuffed our ears with wax and fabric to keep the singing out, and mounted a barrier on the bridge to keep people at a safe distance. Some of our younger men (my unfortunate nephew included) made efforts to get out to the mermaid, but we were able to keep them safe.
Our venerable Doc Willoughby, who really should know better, was completely overwhelmed, and, unable to gain the bridge, threw himself into the sea. He was fortunate, his clothing prevented swimming, and the mermaid herself was unable to get down from the platform, or else he would surely have been drowned and eaten. Jed Grimes had to knock him unconscious before the good Doctor could safely be returned to dry land.
When Doc Willoughby regained consciousness, and had his ears blocked, he was all for a few of us going down the bridge and ‘killing the ghastly creature’. There was much support for this and some folks went so far as to arm themselves. However, Sophie Davies made a plea for compassion. She asked if anyone had the decency to return the mermaid to the water. Not a single man offered to help. (In my defence, I was preoccupied with keeping the bridge closed). Annamarie Nightshade stepped forward however. We were treated to the unlikely sight of the Reverend’s wife and the resident witch assisting the mermaid back into the water. Despite their fierce reputations, the creature did not attack either woman, and made a rapid exit. It is said to be tremendously bad luck to kill one, but worse luck still to be lured by their fatal music.
Since last week, Reverend Davies has exorcised my camera. Annamarie Nightshade has charmed it. Doc Willoughby took the lens off and cleaned it with alcohol, and Arthur Gibbous, glasses maker and inventor, took the whole thing apart and put it back together again.
Currently, photographs, once developed, all look like the image I have published alongside this article. Consequently I cannot tell you if this is the picture I took of Parables Chevins’ remarkable meese (they’re emerging early this year!) or my attempt to capture an image of the sea creature that appeared off our shores on Tuesday. It might, equally, have been the outrageous street scene that followed a fire in a house of ill repute on Wednesday, or the frankly improbable wedding dress worn by Chastity Jones for her marriage to Exodus Chevins on Friday last. I didn’t know we had that many rodents on the island, and the patience required to skin and stitch them must have been tremendous.
Last week, dear readers, you may recall I was rather strident about The Vendetta being a free press. As those copies return to me for pulping and re-use, I feel I am eating my words. Since the last publication, I have suffered the most vile outbreak of boils on every part of my body. I will spare you the details.
Annamarie Nightshade visited me as I was poised to compose this week’s paper. She tells me that the boils are of her own making, and that, if I cease printing Doc Willoughby’s adverts, my discomfort will cease. As a journalist, I feel troubled. But, my journalism has not benefited from not wanting to show my face, nor from being unable to sit down comfortably.
I have reached a compromise in that I will print no further articles from either party, at least on the subject of medicine. However, if I am still disfigured and suffering when the time comes to write next week’s news, you can be quite sure whose side I shall be taking henceforth. Equally, if Annamarie Nightshade proves to my satisfaction that she does indeed have the power to give, and remove such afflictions, I will be obliged to hold her skills in much higher esteem in the future.
Annamarie Nightshade is a liar and a fraud. I am the only formally trained medical man in Hopeless. If you want cures that consist of weeds, toenails and charcoal, then by all means go to her. This is just the kind of thing I meant when I said we needed a proper council to sort things out in this town. A proper council, proper laws, proper order and structure. That’s what we need, and an end to this kind of quackery.
Editor’s note: This is a free press. Anyone can pay to have their words published. I don’t agree with the Doc where councils are concerned, but he’s welcome to have his say. That’s one of the main differences between him and me, and why I don’t want a council.
The only kind of spirit Doc Willoughby knows anything about is the kind that comes in bottles. He knows rather more about them than is good for him! How many times do I have to say it? I AM NOT A SATANIST. I am a witch, there are a lot of differences. Doc Willoughby’s medicine might very well be god-fearing, if I was dishing out that kind of rubbish, I’d certainly be fearing the wrath of gods. Do not be duped by scaremongering tactics.
Is quack medicine letting you down? Are you tired of dubious pseudo-science? Consider natural alternatives for all your health needs. Herbs and charms prepared by a fully trained witch could be the answer to all your problems! Visit Annamarie Nightshade for a healing experience that actually works.
On Thursday of last week, I woke to find my house in utter darkness. By my watch, it was early morning, and wondering at the lack of light, I lit a candle and drew back the curtains. Beyond the window was darkness, and in the darkness there were eyes. The vision was horrible beyond words, but I checked other windows and found the same. I confess, dear readers, to feelings of terror and did not venture beyond my door. I could only imagine what nightmare had befallen our town.
I might have remained cowering in my house for more than the three days I endured, had it not been for the timely arrival of Jesper Peeps bringing old paper back for reuse. I was persuaded that however things may appear, it was safe to venture out. While my house had been covered in what I can only describe as an infestation, life in Hopeless appeared otherwise untroubled. Darkly furred things clung to every available surface, blotting out the light while their hideous eyes stared in upon me.
Why did this nameless dread affix itself to my windows? Is there meaning behind it, or just the whim of fate? Annamarie Nightshade sold me a charm which did indeed remove them, but she refused to comment on what they might be, or why they had attached themselves to my home.
It is not the habit of this reporter to write himself into the news. I aspire to be nothing more than a careful observer, but circumstances this week mean I know nothing beyond my own experience. I cannot include births, deaths or marriages, having spent too long a prisoner in my own home, and the rest of the week removing the creatures that had taken me hostage!