31. I have been in room 10…

There’s just been a terrible accident – an electrification ‘thing’ or something very bad with a sauna. I don’t really know. But misfortune elsewhere this evening has been a blessing in disguise for me: the guard outside cabin 10 was called away on a shrill whistle and various shouts of alarm (Alf Grunham, I’m guessing from the rota, despite explicit orders to the contrary – poo, poo, to you, Alfy!)

Praying the cabin wasn’t currently occupied, I shot across the hall, brushed down my frock, smoothed my hair, and calmly opened the door, as if I sauntered into mysterious cabins every day.

I have been in the dancer’s cabin!

I frighten myself sometimes, but never more than just now. Oh, oh, oh! Was it crazy?

Halfway in, all I wanted to do was run back here and start writing as fast as my pen would go. So call me Loopy Lucy – I don’t care.

Anyway, the cabin was as neat as a pin. Not even one of those interminable trays. Nor even the tiniest mouthful of bloody steak. Instead, a smell of aged leather and perfumed flowers, yes, and of camphor, and a musky odour below it all that felt oddly unpleasant.

That heavy, red dressing gown casually discarded over a chair back. The scent of smoke upon it, though wood, not pipe. There, a small stack of cards on the writing desk, along with a soft, leathery blotter, that gives to my fingertip like fatty skin. On the blotter, a beautiful pen – a virtuoso instrument in tortoiseshell enamel (a ‘proper dipper’, Maud would say), thick-headed, with a nib like a barb. Within languid reach, the ink in a glass mustard pot with a silver neck, resting in a filthy, black scorpion. Iron, perhaps? Ugly, anyway.

And a name, upon a just-written card…

I loomed above it, the beautiful letters sinuous, sweeping and relentless. And whose name was there? Guess a million times, you’d never get it. Why, why, why, would my name be written on one of those little cards? And why was it written in the same, flowing hand as Velma’s card – the one that had been discarded amongst her possessions?

I almost fancy – it’s silly, I know – I almost fancy that He wanted me to find it. The room has neither been left open nor unguarded, since.

I know I must endeavour to uncover this mystery, though I have little courage to try the latch again.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *