The Winner is…

Welcome to The Interactive Novel, the novel that allows you the reader to decide what happens during the novel. This winter the interactive novel returns as a short story.

The winner of the first poll is below. 

The next three options to choose from will be published on Friday 27th November 2020

 



Option 3 – The Great Discovery

Not for the first time fourteen-year-old Nigel Briggs felt out of place. Since entering Professor Ashcroft’s, employment as his apprentice it was becoming a recurring theme. Tonight, he stood beside the mantlepiece in the large parlour of the stately home enjoying the warmth of the fire against his back. He scanned the paintings adorning the walls, rather than watching the groups of distinguished men sat deep in discussion. Professor Ashcroft was across the other side of the room, a tumbler of whiskey in his hand, deep in conversation with an elderly bearded man.

Nigel sighed. This was certainly the most boring party he had ever attended. Their host hadn’t even appeared. Instead he had left his guests, some of the most prominent minds in British science, to amuse themselves. Feeling the need to stretch his legs Nigel left the room. He wandered the hall looking at the paintings. In the dim candlelight he had to squint to make out the finer details in the portraits of family members, biblical and mythical scenes and in one room paintings of black wolf like dogs. He passed pockets of men in small groups so absorbed in their conversation they stood in the middle of the corridors oblivious to his presence. In another large parlour with red walls and furnishings to match he found the wives and mistresses gathered. Feeling even more uncomfortable than with the men he hastily backed out of the room. He passed servants carrying silver trays with food and drink hurrying between the rooms.

He looked down at his pocket watch. Only an hour has passed since their arrival. He wished the Professor had left him at home. He had not wanted to attend, but the Professor had insisted. Their host, a recluse but with a reputation for being a genius in the field of Chemistry, was going to announce a mysterious and in their host’s own words, a monumental discovery that would change the way humanity viewed the world. As some of the world’s best minds would be in attendance the Professor had said it would be an opportunity for Nigel to learn something. However, as expected Nigel had been abandoned to look after himself. He now wandered the corridor ignored and bored. He headed towards the dinning room. At least there was a free buffet.

The room was empty, apart from the large table big enough to sit thirty filled with platters or food. Nigel wandered the length of the table plucking morsels of sliced meats, cheeses and pastry’s as he passed. Nibbling on a pickle and ham tart he stopped by the fireplace. Above the mantel was a painting of a muscular naked man brandishing a flaming torch as he climbed out of a dark hole.

“Prometheus,” said a voice beside him.

Startled Nigel turned to find a girl of a similar age to himself. She was dressed in a dark green ball gown and her brown hair was pulled into a fashionable bun. From her attire she wasn’t a servant, but she was far too young to be a wife or mistress.

“Prometheus?” he repeated his mind preoccupied puzzling over the girl’s identity.

“In Greek myth he stole fire from the underworld and gave it to humanity,” the girl said. She smiled at him, whether it was condescending or not, he was not sure. “It is my father’s favourite myth. He wonders what other secrets of the gods can be stolen from them.”

“Your father?”

“Do you just ask questions? My father is your host. He has invited you all here to show off his latest discovery. Most of his guest are boorish old men and then there is you. At first I thought you must be a servant.”

Nigel shook his head. She hadn’t been the only one. On several occasions one of the guests had forced an empty glass into his hand with the expectation that he would replenish their drink.

“Then I thought you must be some sort of child prodigy, but I think I may be mistaken on that too. So why are you here?”

“I’m Professor Ashcroft’s apprentice. He has insisted that I accompany him so that I might learn something.”

“Well you have learned about Greek mythology, so he was right,” she held out her hand. “Eve Crosse.”

“Nigel Briggs. Do you know what your father’s discovery is?”

She gave a bitter laugh. “It is a closely guarded secret. My father keeps to himself. So much so, that I have not seen him in four years and three months. My mother and I live with my grandparents. Considering we have not spoken to Father in such a long time he still sent us an invitation for tonight. Strange don’t you think?”

Nigel shrugged. “He is obviously proud of his discovery and wants you and your mother there to witness that your sacrifice was worth it.”

“You really do not know my father, but then who does? Did you know that the local villagers believe he is in league with the devil? That he is carrying out inhuman experiments into the occult? That he may have opened a portal to hell?”

A shiver crept down Nigel’s spine. He could not have a night away without tales of the supernatural raising its ugly head. Eve continued not noticing his discomfort,

“If I told the other guests here, they would say the superstitious locals just don’t understand the marvels of modern science. That there is nothing that cannot be explained by rational logical thinking.”

“That sounds familiar.” He had heard those words hundreds of times from Professor Ashcroft.

“But what if science cannot explain it? My father is due to make his announcement at 8 o’clock. I suppose we will then find out who is right…”


The next three options to choose from will be published on Friday 27th November 2020

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