Tag Archives: Balthazar Lemon

The Lighthouse Balthazar Lemon Built

He never really meant it to be a functioning lighthouse. It started life with the battered remains of a ship – one of those iron steamships that had just become popular. Even metal had proved no match for the vicious rocks around the island. Balthazar reckoned, from the look of the thing, that a larger than average kraken had also had a go at it.

He could not live on land. He could not bear the way it stayed still, especially when he was trying to sleep. He never felt quite at home, or properly secure in an unshifting bed. And so he built a wooden crane, like he remembered seeing at docks around the world, and he used a salvaged boiler, several sturdy buckets and all the pipes he could beg, buy or steal, and he powered it with an engine. Swimming out to the wreck nearly killed him, but he managed to tow the back of the boat to shore. The front of the boat sheared off during this process and sank beneath the waves to join the multitude of wrecks on the seafloor.

He did the best he could with what he had. The result was round, and could never be steered, but it did float, in a low and wallowing fashion. It moved, and that was the main thing. As soon as it was sea-proof, Balthazar set up a hammock inside it, and felt a good deal better about life. His wife preferred to stay in the sea, and it meant he could be closer to her, which he preferred.

He called the round boat The Elegant Dolphin, in a fit of irony. Agile, The Dolphin was not, but sturdy she was. She survived that year’s winter storms, which were more violent than any he had ever known. So violent in fact that two giant cuttlefish washed up just round the coast. They were entwined, although whether they were fighting or had been trying to save and comfort each other, was anyone’s guess.

It was cold enough that they didn’t start rotting for quite some time. Being giant cuttlefish, they were not pleasing to eat, but they could be eaten, and they were right there, and sometimes he picked up fresh crabs who were scavenging from the carcasses.

When the spring came, it took them a while to rot. The crabs, and the crows did their best to speed the process. When the tide was high, the thing that inhabited the bay semi-emerged to feast. Eventually, only the bones remained.

Balthazar knew there would be enormous bones. He’d had months, waiting for them to emerge. Time to wonder, and dream, and plot. He had a fancy to build upwards. Why not? He liked lighthouses as an idea, had been glad of them many times when at sea. He knew the currents would wreck ships regardless of whether he put up a light. It was more a case of liking the look of them, and wanting something to occupy his life now that he could not travel.

It was only when he started turning giant cuttlefish bones into sections of wall that he also started wondering whether a light could have any other purpose, alongside signalling danger to those at sea.

Balthazar Lemon – a love story

Sometimes, people ask Balthazar Lemon about the mother of his child. He lies to them. He has never bothered to keep track of these lies and does not worry about what anyone else thinks. It’s not about misleading people. There are things too precious to share or speak of and he simply does not want to explain.

They met in the sea, of course. Balthazar spent his early life in boats and has never felt at ease on dry land. There’s something troubling about the way it keeps still, and you cannot see through it. The lighthouse he built was the closest thing he could get to a boat on a coast that eats boats, and eats anything that was in the boats.

Alraune came from warmer, kinder seas than these. A shallow sea, rich with kelp beds, sea grass and eels, and full of secrets. It was a good sea for diving, and for testing diving suits and devices. In those days, Balthazar had been obsessed with staying underwater for as long as he could. Pipes connecting him to the air were always at risk of damage, or could get him trapped. Carrying air made it hard to sink, and there was never enough of it. He thought about gills a lot in those days.

The mermaids fascinated him, apparently able to breathe in air and in water, but quite unlike the humans and fish they resembled. As far as he could tell, they tolerated him, and perhaps found him amusing. Sometimes he tried to talk to them, but their language was like no human speech he had encountered. It sounded more like dolphin, and he had not learned to speak with dolphins. By the time he was twenty, Balthazar could talk about tools and engines in an unreasonably large number of human languages. He had yet to find a language in which he could not persuade someone to sell him alcohol. Mermaid words were a bit more elusive.

So they didn’t really talk, at first, and it was a long time before he learned her name. He swam, or sank, of half drowned himself trying to get diving helmets to work. She watched, effortless in the water, clearly finding him entertaining. Balthazar had never enjoyed being laughed at before. It was, inevitably, a rather peculiar sort of romance.

(A collaboration between Nimue and Dr Abbey, with art by Dr Abbey)

Balthazar Lemon

Balthazar Lemon is the father of Melisandra, grandfather of Salamandra. He shipwrecked on the island of Hopeless Maine as a young man, and took up inventing. He’s rather good at this – having built the lighthouse, restored the church organ, and undertaken assorted other strange and wonderful projects.

He has what appears to be a weird fish fetish. This may have a great deal to do with Salamandra’s missing grandmother, who was a mermaid and who swam away when she got bored.

Balthazar is a significant presence in Hopeless Maine: Inheritance (the second half of The Gathering in the Sloth Comics publications). He also features in prose novel New England Gothic, and remains an influence on the island through his creations.

Balthazar is the embodiment of eccentric invention. It is also his considered opinion that all the best projects have a bucket in them somewhere.

Our Organ Restored!

What does God smell like?

(Frampton Jones)

I am pleased to announce that the repair of our church organ has been an almost complete success. Testimony Albatross’s fabulous device has been repaired by Balthazar Lemon, with some curious additions. The repaired organ was played this Sunday by Mrs Sophie Davies, and the music delighted everyone. Some doubts remain however, over the smells the organ now releases. The original Testimony Albatross design included a large tank, the purpose of which no one had truly understood. It is now full of fish (see photograph). I suspect it is no coincidence that, when played, the organ now fills the church with a distinctly fishy smell.

Questioned on the matter, Balthazar Lemon said, “It’s obvious this is how the organ was designed. It sounds better now.” He has a point. Filling the tank seems necessary. Lemon continued, “The organ is a thing of beauty, designed to bring us closer to God, through sound, scent and visual impact.” I asked him why he had filled the tank with fish, and not, for example with flowers, fruit or some other more appealing thing. He responded by saying, “What do you think God smells like?”

An Unexpected Guest

The creature at rest

(Frampton Jones)

Last night’s storm brought a strange arrival to our shores. It was discovered by Hermitage Trott while he was harvesting seaweed yesterday. Assorted learned citizens went down to the beach in order to view the new arrival. No consensus has been reached as to its nature, but so far it has done nothing to suggest it is actively dangerous. However, given the size of pincers, and the speed at which it can move, the curious are advised to view it from a distance.

Despite the glowing eyes, Reverend Davies does not believe that it is inherently Satanic. I watched Jack Ephemery from The Crow make several attempts to capture the new arrival – no doubt with a view to cooking it. The creature resisted, scuttling off at surprising speed whilst making some unearthly noises.

While opinions are divided, my own theory is that this may in fact be a giant brother to the hermit crab, but the shell it has borrowed is unlike anything I have ever seen before. It has an almost metallic sheen, but it is hard to imagine how such a thing could have formed. Balthazar Lemon postulated that someone had made it, but no one who has viewed the shell can imagine any possible use for it. “People don’t always make things to be useful,” Lemon pointed out, and he should know!

Organ Repair Appeal

The Organ

(Frampton Jones)

Yesterday Reverend Davies launched an appeal to do something about the dire state of his organ. The device, built thirty seven years ago by the infamous Testimony Albatross, is a remarkable feat of engineering and musical genius that Hopeless has perhaps taken for granted. In the many years since the demise of Albatross, the organ has gradually lost tone and some of its more creative functions no longer work. In the last few years, it has lost all semblance of tunefulness, and is consequently only used for funerals.

Inventor and repair expert Balthazar Lemon proposes an overhaul of the fabulous instrument. However, to fix the biggest organ in Hopeless, will require help from the whole community. Donations to the project much appreciated. Any small metal items, including wire, would be of great help. Balthazar Lemon requests any left handed sprockets, cat-stoppers and fids anyone happens to have spare. He would very much like some clewgarnets as well, and a selection of spoons in varying sizes, from teaspoons through to large serving spoons – metal, not wood. Donations can be left at the church or the lighthouse.

Delays on the Bridge

 

Excavation site at dusk

 

Work to lay the foundations for Balthazar Lemon’s bridge to the mainland hit a setback. The small headland to the south of the harbour had been determined as the best spot, facing where our brightest thinkers understand the mainland to be. However, this small headland turned out not to be rock, as first imagined. Excavations to put down support posts revealed wood. Work on the bridge has stopped because all of those involved were far more interested in finding out what this buried wood is from, than in building the bridge. Your humble editor is not a man of science, but feels the future should take precedent over the past.
 
Man hours have been lost in digging up the sandbank. This work has revealed the remains of a ship. A large one, as far as can be ascertained, although the vast majority remains buried. Already tales are flying around, filling the wreck with imagined treasures. I would like to assure readers that based on my observations, the ship is filled with mud, slime and old seaweed.
 
Plans to lay the bridge foundations are delayed, but I have been assured the work will continue.
 

A Hopeless Bridge?

The way forwards

Last night’s meeting at the Town Hall was a remarkable gathering, and I’ve not seen the place so crowded in years. Balthazar Lemon’s bridge plan has everyone talking. For anyone who wasn’t there, the man responsible for our island’s lighthouse plans to build a bridge connecting us to the mainland.

Unlike many of us, Mister Lemon was not born on Hopeless, and has seen something of the world. He is certain it can be done, and that science will defeat the currents where seamanship cannot. The bridge project calls for flotation devices, and a modest quantity of wood, which might be salvaged from derelict houses so save on work. On paper, it looks tremendously complicated to me, but one cannot help but be impressed by the sheer scale of Balthazar Lemon’s vision.

Imagine the possibilities, dear readers, if we are able to walk across the sea to the mainland! Think of the wonderful benefits, the opportunities for our younger people! We will be able to import coffee rather than depending on the odd shipment washing ashore! There might be proper whiskey on a regular basis rather than the eye watering stuff Doc Willoughby ferments – from what I dare not speculate! Balthazar Lemon needs your help, your spare timber, and whatever time you can donate to this most excellent cause. Let us build our way out of isolation and into a bright future!

No Marriages

There was a peculiar scene at the Church last Wednesday when Balthazar Lemon appeared with a very large and dead cod that he demanded to be formally married to. The union did not take place, Reverend Davies having carefully explained that the sacrament of marriage involves one man and one woman, not one man and one expired fish. Mister Lemon’s longstanding and well known fish obsession has caused some speculation as to whether he is the one using them as a writing medium.