Misi

Episode 19: A History Lesson | Scryer's Gulch

It was with some surprise that Lockson received the schoolteacher in his office this Saturday. "Why, Miss Duniway! What can a simple newspaperman do for an erudite lady like yourself? Classified ad, perhaps? No, no, I shouldn't think so. Why, Miss Duniway, it is a stroke of good fortune, a miracle not far removed from that of the Prophet of the Method and His Delivery of the Good Woman of Persia from the Fiery Furnaces of Indecency, that you have sojourned to our offices today. Yes, Miss Duniway, let me assure you that I have longed this month to approach you for the purpose of acquainting my audience with the details of your life, one of education and perspicacity I am sure, a saga that would be a most edifying one for our readers."

"Come again?" said Annabelle.

"I'd like to interview you," said Lockson.

Episode 18: Servitude | Scryer's Gulch

Mamzelle had a time of it under Charity's orders the next day.

She scrubbed the floors, beat all the rugs, bathed Charity's disgusting little pug dog, shined the copper weathervane atop the gingerbread-encrusted turret, mucked out the stables, and blacked every boot in the house as well as the stoves--all in her best silk dress, now tattered and stained. Blacking smudges covered her face, not all of them self-inflicted, and shoeprints stood out on her dress where the occasional kick had landed.

"Too bad about about the dress. It was so flattering on you, too. I bet you never affront me again!" smirked Charity as the housekeeper fidgeted behind her.

"Oh, no, madame, I wouldn't dream of eet!" said Mamzelle, face downcast; her eyes reflected a dangerous ruby color in the wooden floor she'd polished to a perfect finish; neither human noticed.

Episode 17: Evidence | Scryer's Gulch

"You look happy this morning," said Jed from the depths of a big tufted leather chair.

Mamzelle returned to her boudoir from the balcony. "I am always 'appy at the full moon," she said, settling on her chaise.

"Don't sit down. Bring me my coffee."

She narrowed her eyes to slits, but got up and poured him a cup. "I wonder, 'ow badly this would sting eef I threw it in your face?" she said.

"Go ahead. Then you'd find out how it feels to lose an eye."

"Eet's a rrrhetorical question. I can't hurt you anyway."

"Just remember that," he smiled over the cup's rim.

"I will, even as I eat your liver while you scream for mercy. That is not rrrhetorical."

Episode 15: What's in Its Pocketses | Scryer's Gulch

Annabelle opened her eyes to a scratching at the bedroom window. How had she ended up sitting on the bed? She held the codebook in one hand, and a letter in the other. Someone had lit the lanterns against the night, and the coal fire burned in the little sitting room stove. She must have fallen asleep, but apart from where she sat, the bed was undisturbed. A chill struck her.

Episode 11: Moonrise | Scryer's Gulch

In Mamzelle's boudoir, the madam and the cat were still embroiled in their murderous heart-to-heart. "But I do not understand, chéri," she said. "Why would you not wish me to keel your master?"

"Two reasons," Misi answered loftily. "For one, I can't reciprocate. You'd have to maneuver your master into a situation where he became a direct threat to my master."

Mamzelle laughed. "You underestimate me."

"Oh, I doubt that. But for me the more important reason is the second. If anyone kills my master, it's going to be me," he growled. "I've been plotting it for eight years, and no one is going to deny me that pleasure."

Episode 9: Rabbit's Time of the Month | Scryer's Gulch

Misi had almost fallen asleep in Mamzelle’s lap, when she said, “Well?”

“Well what?” yawned the demon cat.

“‘Ow are we going to keel our masters?”

“Ah. That. Yes.” Think fast, old boy. “Yes. There’s a problem with that.”

“Eh?”

“I’m under orders...general orders...not to kill humans.” It’s even true! he thought, though it hurt his pride to confess to such a weakness. It’s so humilitating, being owned!

Episode 8: Plots | Scryer's Gulch

Annabelle felt the same tingle at her wrist the next day when Georgie and Jamie entered the schoolroom together. Jamie's grim face and Georgie's flushed one told her the boys had been arguing.

When it came time for the children to go home to lunch, she asked Georgie to stay behind. "I don't know anything about it!" he blurted as soon as the other children were gone.

"Don't know anything about what, Georgie?" she said, narrowing her eyes.

"The school, miss. That's why you wanted to talk to me, weren't it?"

"'Wasn't it,' Georgie, and no, that's not why I wanted to talk to you. But as long as we're on the subject, what is it about the school that you don't know?"

Episode 7: An Accusation | Scryer's Gulch

As soon as they entered, Annabelle's bracelet pricked at her wrist; she hid her surprise. "Children, please sit down. Little ones to the front, older ones to the back. I'll return in a moment."

"Wonder where she's going," she heard Georgie whisper to Jamie.

"Maybe she's gotta pee," said Harry Lockson. Georgie and Jamie guffawed. "But maybe she does!" Harry repeated in earnest concern.

Annabelle rolled her eyes, and walked quickly up and down the street, as if looking for errant pupils; her bracelet made not a tickle. The schoolhouse stood off to itself enough that she knew nothing came from a nearby building. No, it was in the schoolhouse, and it came from either Jamie or Georgie.

Episode 6: One-Way Cat Fight | Scryer's Gulch

While Misi stood on the windowsill at Hopewell's worrying about Annabelle, she herself was still visiting students. She'd met Jamie Runnels and the Prake twins, and the two children of L.L. Lockson, publisher of the Voice of the Gulch. Now she walked back up the boardwalk toward the great mansion on the hill to acquaint herself with Lily Bonham.

Just past Prake's Hardware, her detector bracelet buzzed and pricked at her wrist. She returned to the store, masking her excitement as she pretended to windowshop; the sensation faded. She strolled back up the street until the pricking became nearly unbearable: it came from the ethergraph office.

Episode 4: Detectors and Detectives | Scryer's Gulch

While Annabelle waited a day for the schoolhouse repairs, the best use of her time would be to visit her students in their homes, get a sense of them. That’s what a real schoolteacher would do, she decided the next morning, and it gave her a chance to scan for the anomalies she’d been sent to investigate without raising suspicion.

“What exactly are we looking for, anyway?” said Misi from a perch atop the wardrobe. “You might have said,” he added sulkily.

Annabelle looked up at the demon cat as she buttoned up her bodice. “Daniel asked me to wait as long as possible before telling anyone anything, including you.”

“Who’s Daniel?”

Pages

Get an exclusive free ebook from the world of the Intimate History! Exclusive content, contests, new releases and more.