The Abridged Seventh Instalment

The Abridged Seventh Instalment

Foreword

Welcome to The Interactive Novel, the novel that allows you the reader to decide what happens during the novel.
At the end of each weekly instalment will be at least one poll where you will decide either:
• What happens next
• A setting
• A character to be introduced

Whatever option receives the most votes decides what happens. To take part, read the instalment below and then make your vote.

Voting closes Thursday 13th December at 8am GMT

If your new to the interactive novel or what a refresher what has happened previously find a quick reminder below or read all the other instalments at http://www.theinteractivenovel.com including the full length instalment


Previously in the Interactive Novel

After a terrifying encounter in a haunted house Nigel Briggs, assistant to Professor Ashcroft debunker of the supernatural, decides to resign. Before he can write his resignation letter he is summoned to the professor’s study where a girl, Anne Farmer, who hints she can foresee the future, requests his help. Moments later Doctor Downer from Elmwich Asylum restrains her and takes her away. On leaving Nigel asked how the doctor managed to find her. The doctor reveals Anne had caved Nigel’s name and address into the walls of her cell.
The next morning Professor Ashcroft requests that Nigel accompany him to an auction. Going under the hammer is a supposedly cursed artefact (the Amulet of Nergal). However, the auction is interrupted by some armed robbers. During their robbery a porter is killed, and the amulet vanishes.
Returning home after the auction Nigel is handed a note by Gertie (a servant in the professor’s house). Gertie believes the note was left by the mysterious Anne Farmer. The note is an address of a property in a slum district of London. Exploring the property, Nigel and Gertie discover the body of one of the robbers from the auction house. In his hand is the cursed amulet.
The police hunting for an escaped patient from Elmwich Asylum raid the property. Nigel and Gertie are arrested. They are later released without charge and Nigel agrees to forget all about the amulet and Anne Farmer.
That is until something Nigel receives another message from Anne asking for his help.
Professor Ashcroft believing this letter is part of a scam sends Nigel to the Elmwich Asylum. Doctor Downer refuses to give Nigel access to see Anne. Instead he gives Nigel a tour of the asylum. Nigel suspects that not all is right at the asylum as the patients move in a mechanical unnatural manner. Furthermore, when Nigel asks about the cursed artefact Doctor Downer lies about every hearing of it. Suspicious Nigel returns to London to find….


Seventh Instalment

Tuesday, 25th September 1860

Walking back from the station my eyes were drawn to a man in a bowler hat. I couldn’t say what made him stand out from the crowd, but some primitive sense warned me to be on my guard.

Turning on to Uxbridge Road I sped up. On the other side of the road was Hyde Park. The man with the bowler hat was thirty paces behind me. I knew then, he had to be following me.

I noticed a short gap in the traffic. I darted out into the road cutting in front of a carriage. All along the road carts and carriages skidded to a standstill. I didn’t stop. I sprinted into Hyde Park.

I looked at the mayhem caused by my sudden dart across the road. There was no sign of the man in the bowler hat. My gambit had worked. I had lost him
I hurried deeper into the park towards home.

****

 A Black Maria was parked outside the Professor’s house.

“We have no time to dawdle,” the Professor called spotting me.

I climbed inside the carriage. Moments later the carriage trundled forward.

“What is going on, sir?”

“There has been a death. There is something unusual about the circumstances.”

On the journey I recounted my trip to the asylum. He did not look impressed with my deduction that there was something wrong with the asylum. I then told him about the man that had been following me.

“You are being dramatic Nigel. Your paranoia has turned an innocent man into a threat. You have got to stop letting your imagination run away with you Nigel.”

The carriage shuddered to a halt. The back door opened to reveal a street of terrace houses. At number nineteen a pair of constables stood beside the black door. Without an invite the Professor walked past them and into the house. I hurried after him into a narrow hallway. The kitchen door was open. A dark-haired woman sat at the table, her face buried in her hands, sobbing.

I closed the front door. Drawn by the sound Inspector Finch emerged from the front room.

“I am afraid I am a little in the dark over why I am here,” the Professor said

“The deceased is Detective Moore.”

I had been suspecting something this since he pocketed the amulet. He had become another victim of the curse.

He led us into a homely front room. On the green wallpaper strange symbols had been etched in dark ink. The green paper in the corner of the room was stained black with smoke. I wrinkled my nose at the pungent odour in the air not dissimilar to the smell from the knacker’s yard on Pear Lane.

“What do you think?” Finch asked.

“The symbols all over the wall are some sort of writing,” the Professor said. “Now where is the body. Ahh it certainly is most peculiar.”

 He was looking at the little that was left of Detective Moore, a mound of black ash and a charred hand clutching an amulet with a blood red ruby in the centre.

Tuesday, 25th September Continued

“It’s the amulet of Nergal,” I stated. “Detective Moore is the latest victim of the curse.”

“Nigel,” the Professor hissed. “There are no such thing as curses. We do not even know this is Detective Moore.

“His wife witnessed him spontaneously combust. She is in the kitchen with a neighbour.”

“Nigel will you go talk to Mrs Moore.”

“But sir, what about the amulet?”

“It is police property.,” Finch said

“Nigel,” the Professor snapped. “Off to the kitchen.”

I tapped lightly on the kitchen door.

“Mrs Moore, my name is Nigel Briggs I was wondering if I could ask you a few questions.”

The dark-haired woman lifted her head from her hands for the first time.

“I’ll put the kettle on.” The neighbour went outside to fill the kettle with water from the standpipe.

“The strange symbols on the wall. What are they?”

“I don’t know,” she said. “Daniel wrote them on the wall in blood. He had a cut on his finger that he used like a pen. He was talking in tongues as he stared at that grotesque piece of jewellery.”

“The amulet.”

“That’s it. At first, I thought he was ill. He would just stare at it for hours on end. He claimed I wanted if for myself. He has never been like that before. He was like a different person.”

I wondered if the amulet had possessed the detective.

“I found him writing on the wall. He had that ruddy amulet is his hand. I was going to leave when I noticed wisps of smoke drifting out of his clothes. Then he suddenly went up in flames.”

“And you saw no sign of where the fire came from?”

She shook her head. “He just burst into flames.”

The door opened, and the neighbour returned with a kettle of water and an envelope.

“I was told to give this you,” the neighbour said handing me the envelope.

“Who gave it to you?”

“Some urchin child just now at the standpipe.”

Nigel
Take the amulet and destroy it before it is too late. Don’t let anyone else take it out of the house. Find Brown
Anne

I raced to the front room. Finch was already gone. My heart sank.

I was too late. The amulet was gone. But too late for what? Only Anne knew.

*****

 I sat down in the front room to update my journal. Gertie dropped into the chair opposite.

“Detective Moore is dead?” I informed her

“Somebody kill him for the amulet?”

“According to his wife he spontaneously combusted.”

“Where is the amulet now?”

“The police confiscated it.”

“Then that is the end of it all.”

“I had another letter from Anne. Somehow she knew I would be at the detective’s house.”

I took the letter and reread it to her.

“What is brown?” she asked.

“I have no idea. A colour, perhaps a name, maybe even a place. All I keep coming back to is Elmwich Asylum. Somehow it is connected to the amulet.”

“So what are we going to do about it?”

“I don’t know,” I admitted.

“We could get you institutionalised.”

I met her eye. She had meant every word. “It wouldn’t work. Doctor Downer knows who I am.”

“They don’t know me,” she said.

“No. I am not letting you go in that asylum. I forbid it.”

It was the wrong thing to say. Gertie stiffened. She set her jaw defiantly.

“Nobody forbids me to do anything,” she said coldly.

“What I meant to say was inside the asylum you may be confined to a cell with no chance of escape. We have other options. I could ask the Professor to write to the asylum for permission to see Anne. If not, we have to find out how Anne is able to send messages from inside the asylum. There is also figuring what brown is? One way or another we will figure this out.”

“And if we get nowhere?”

“Then we have to do something a bit more drastic.”

What happens next is up to You!
The choices with the most votes will decide what happens next, so choose wisely from the options below


Voting closes  on Thursday 13th December at 8am GMT

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