Frankenkitty Chapter 2. #amwriting #WIP

High School Biology.

A few days later, in the morning, on a school day, and at breakfast, Jennifer surprised her parents. “I think I’d like to try medicine, help people.”
Her mother perked up, “A nurse?”
“No, a doctor.”
“Why the sudden change, Sweetie-pie?”
“I don’t know. It just came to me last night.”
“You know, you’ll have to take a lot more science, and math.”
“And do well at them.” Her father groused, while her annoying little brother snickered at the thought.
Jennifer said, “You’ll see.”
“I hope so,” her father, suddenly serious, continued, “if you’re willing to work hard at it, I’ll talk to the guidance counselors. Get your schedule for next year changed.”
So far, Jennifer had been put in the “nice girl” track. Enough courses to get into a junior college, and some sort of business job after that. It would let her tread water until she met the right man. Or at least a man willing to marry her. She would have been firmly cemented into the pink collar ghetto.
“You will?”
“I’ve never thought much of pre-algebra as a final course in mathematics, and just learning to use a word processor is not a good class in computers.” His unhappiness at his daughter studying that limited curriculum was evident in the tone of his voice. “I’ve always thought you could do better if you wanted to.”
“I do.”
Jennifer’s resolve survived into biology class. They were dissecting frogs today. Like most of the ‘nice girls,’ she had opted for a computer simulation instead of the real thing. It was only the boys, who sniggered and joked their way through it, and the few nerdy girls who braved the smell to see what the real insides of an animal looked like, who dissected actual animals. She started to join her friends, then stopped and walked to the teacher.
“Mr. Jefferson?”
“Yes, Jennifer”
“Can I join one of the teams that is dissecting real animals?”
Mr. Jefferson did a double-take. He didn’t, as a matter of principle, approve of simulated dissections. Nonetheless, he followed the school district policy, and that was laid down by the town politicians. “You want to dissect a real frog?”
“Yes, please.”
There was one team of the nerdy girls that was missing a student. There were only two students on that frog instead of the three or four that were mandated. Mr. Jefferson asked, “Mary and Amber, would you be willing to have Jennifer join you?”
“Do we have to?” Mary and Amber enjoyed working together.
“Yes, unless you have some very good reason why not.”
That Jennifer had been a ‘C’ student and they ‘A+’ students wasn’t quite a good enough reason.
Their reserve lasted all of ten minutes. Up until Jennifer had a turn with the scalpel and delicately laid open the frog. She quickly identified the liver and heart, then with Mary’s help pulled the intestines to the side to see the blood vessels behind them. Mr. Jefferson remarked that it was one of the best presentations he’d ever seen a student team do.
Amber asked, barely keeping the astonishment from her voice, “Where’d you learn that?”
Dr. Frankenstein’s lab notes would be the truth; he had worked with frogs before trying bigger things. That was so clearly unacceptable that Jennifer skirted the truth and said, “I looked it up in study hall. I wanted to be prepared for class.”
Jennifer had another advantage. She had taken art, and while her drawings were in the normal blocky badly scaled high school style, they were far better than either Mary’s or Amber’s. Some training was better than none. Thus, between the three of them, Amber and Mary turned in their normal and Jennifer her first, one hundred percent on a lab report.
Jennifer’s father proudly taped it to the refrigerator, and called the guidance counselor the next day.
Biology class was moving on to the highlight of the term, dissection of fetal pigs. This time Mary and Amber insisted that Jennifer join them. She was glad to. What had started out as an accidental seat assignment was developing into a solid friendship. The study habits Jennifer was learning from her nerdy friends were helping her grades no end.
Not that the benefits only went one way. While Jennifer wasn’t of the ‘cheerleader class’ who could make or break a girl’s social status on a whim, she was reasonably popular, and some of her popularity rubbed off on Mary and Amber. They were even invited to a party, and, for once, not invited out of pity. Not only that, but they no longer had to eat lunch alone, at the nerd’s table.
Dissecting the pigs was a two-week long dive into the smelly gross insides of a preserved animal. The smelly preservative didn’t easily wash off, and Jennifer’s little brother took to wrinkling his nose and teasing her about it at dinner time. She replied by wiping her hands in his hair. This was, if anything, even grosser, but at least the smell of little brothers washed off.
It wasn’t until halfway through the pig that Mary and Amber noticed something very unusual about Jennifer. She really knew her anatomy. There were details that even Mr. Jefferson missed when he walked around the groups brave enough to dissect, that she would point out.
“Jenny,” Mary asked, “where did you learn this, and don’t tell me study hall. We were all doing math last time.”
Amber concurred. “I was helping you with consecutive number problems.”
“I have this book, these books, at home. They’re all about anatomy, and um,” she paused, “a few other things as well.”
“Can we see them?”
Jennifer couldn’t say no to her friends. So that evening, after dinner, the doorbell rang twice. First for Mary and then a few minutes later for Amber. After a quick and perfunctory chat with Jennifer’s mother and father, they went to her room.
Jennifer pulled the shipping crate from under her bed and opened it. “These are the books. They’re very old, but”
Amber took the first one and tried to read it. “It’s in German. You don’t read German, do you?” The high school used to teach German, before budget cuts forced them to pare the foreign language program down to Spanish. They would have removed that as well, but there were enough Hispanic students in the district that they couldn’t.
“I know a little, now, but they’re mostly written in English.”
Mary carefully sounded out “Experimente in der Reanimation von abgestorbenem Gewebe,” and then said, “That doesn’t mean experiments in reanimation, does it?”
Jennifer nodded, “Yes. It does. Experiments in the reanimation of dead tissue.”
“And the name inside,” Mary continued, “That’s not really Frankenstein, I mean the Frankenstein?”
“It is. My neighbor Mrs. Jones gave them to me. She was his great-granddaughter. These are his lab-notes.”
Amber laughed, “Do you think they’d work?”
“I’d like to try. Bring back my cat Mr. Snuffles.”
“That’s not possible. Dr. Frankenstein must have been insane.”
Jennifer then sat between her friends on her bed and showed them what she’d found. An hour later, when her mother knocked on the bedroom door and said that her friend’s parents had arrived for them, they were still engrossed in the notebooks. Whatever was there, no matter how ill-conceived or incorrect, wasn’t insane. Jennifer closed the book and put it back in the crate.
Amber sat there, slightly stunned, “You know, Jenny. It might just work. We’d have to be careful with that much electricity, but it might work. Why don’t you see if you can visit my house tomorrow and we can discuss it?”
“In the lab?” Mary asked.
“Where else?” Amber’s parents were chemistry professors. As long as she promised not to blow the house up or set it on fire, they let her use the basement for her ‘laboratory’ and even found or bought her supplies. Her experiments had been pretty tame so far, but that was about to change.

Frankenkitty (c) 2015 R. Harrison

FrankenKitty 4 #wewriwar

Frankenkitty

Welcome to Weekend Writing Warriors.  This is a sample from my work in progress, “Frankenkitty”, and I hope you enjoy it.  It started out as a young-adult superhero book, and well, you’ll see. In last week’s snippet Jenny’s friendship with Amber and Mary grew, and in the midst of the highlight (or low-light) of high-school biology -fetal pigs- she let them in on the secret.  Today we begin to see where they’re going with it.


Mary carefully sounded out “Experimente in der Reanimation von abgestorbenem Gewebe,” and then said, “That doesn’t mean experiments in reanimation, does it?”

Jennifer nodded, “Yes it does, Experiments in the Reanimation of Dead Tissue.”

“And the name inside,” Mary continued, “That’s not really Frankenstein, I mean the Frankenstein?”

“It is, my neighbor Mrs. Jones gave them to me. She was his great-granddaughter; these are his lab-notes.”

Amber laughed, “Do you think they’d work?”

“I’d like to try; bring back my cat Mr. Snuffles.”

“That’s not possible; he must have been insane.”

Whatever was there, no matter how ill-conceived or incorrect, wasn’t insane.  Amber sat there, slightly stunned, “You know, Jenny, it might just work. ”


This is a work in progress. In other news, I’ve become a booktrope author, but more on that latter. It has meant a change in pen-name. Last Weeks is here and you can read the whole chapter if you’d rather.

I’m also looking for reviewers for my nearly ready book “The Curious Profession of Dr. Craven”

FrankenKitty 3 #wewriwar

Frankenkitty

Welcome to Weekend Writing Warriors.  This is a sample from my work in progress, “Frankenkitty”, and I hope you enjoy it.  It started out as a young-adult superhero book, and well, you’ll see. Last week’s snippet introduced two new friends, Amber and Mary. This week Jenny makes an important decision – to take up medicine. Her friendship with Amber and Mary grows, and in the midst of the highlight (or low-light) of high-school biology -fetal pigs- she lets them in on the secret.


Dissecting the pigs was a two-week long dive into the smelly gross insides of a preserved animal. The smelly preservative didn’t easily wash off, and Jennifer’s little brother took to wrinkling his nose and teasing her about it at dinner time. She replied by wiping her hands in his hair; this was, if anything, even grosser, but at least the smell of little brothers washed off.

It wasn’t until halfway through the pig that Mary and Amber noticed something very unusual about Jennifer – she really knew her anatomy. There were details that even Mr. Jefferson missed when he walked around the groups brave enough to dissect, that she would point out.

“Jenny,” Mary asked, “where did you learn this, and don’t tell me study hall;  we were all doing math last time.”

Amber concurred, “I was helping you with consecutive number problems.”

“I have this book, these books, at home; they’re all about anatomy, and um,” she paused, “a few other things as well.”

“Can we see them?”

Jennifer couldn’t say no to her friends.


This is a work in progress. In other news, I’ve become a booktrope author, but more on that latter. It has meant a change in pen-name. Last Weeks is here and you can read the whole chapter if you’d rather.

The Art of Deception, a WIP #workinprogress #regency #sweetromance

A Work in Progress.

I’ve been struggling a bit with this one. I had a whole series of chapters describing how Alice was recruited and trained, with a few to try to introduce the hero, Roderick Lord Hightower. It wasn’t working. I realized I could cut all that out, introducing it as background, and suddenly it’s going again.  The bits about codes and secret ink I’d posted earlier are for this one.

Let me know what you think.

Funny Doings in Bristol.

The Asp scudded up the Severn, riding the tide towards Bristol harbour. A fast monthly packet from New York, she’d stopped off the coast of Ireland near Cork. Then after spotting Land’s end she’d worked her way up Bristol Channel. She carried Roderick, Lord Hightower, lately military attaché to the British embassy in Washington and his friend Edward Spode.

A month of dreary cold North Atlantic spray followed by several days of tedious tacking had left both men ready for land. Even if Edward had only joined the ship at Cork as part of his duty to meet the monthly packet and escort diplomatic couriers. They’d tried to hop a shore boat as soon as the Asp lowered anchor in the Avonmouth. A day later, they were, finally, ashore.

Lord Roderick nodded to his companion, “That young chit.” He pointed to a servant on the low rise above the harbour, “she’s counting the ships.”

“No, she’s just watching the workmen down in basin. Probably has a special friend or possibly even a husband at sea. You’re seeing things.”

“I tell you. She’s counting. Didn’t you see her while our ship was docked in the Avonmouth yesterday?”

“Roddy, old chap, you need to relax. I know it was hard, spying on those bloody rebels, but we’re home, England, Bristol. You’ve been on the jump since I met you on the packet boat off Cork. It’s someone else’s problem, if it’s a problem at all.”

“There is something to what you say. Edward. Suspicion is an occupational hazard in our line of work. However, I don’t think I’m jumping at shadows.”

“This is England, we don’t do things like that. Even the blasted French spies are polite. It’s not like poisons are available in every druggist like rhubarb.” Edward watched his friend; he seemed to relax. “If you’ll stay out of trouble so that I have the chance to do it, I’ll send the express to Lord Grey that we’ve landed.”

“Good, can you also check about my other shipment?”

“Which one? Sorry, you mean the one from Philadelphia?”

“Yes, I gave my manservant Thomas the cipher machine, code book and correspondence, we, ah recovered, in Washington. Good thing too, my bags were thoroughly searched in New York.”

“Along with his wife? You said earlier that you had someone, a servant, in the President’s House working for you. Damn Roddy, you’re good.”

“Wasn’t a servant, a slave. We had to decamp in a hurry. I home Mr. Merry was up to cleaning up the details. It was rather a mess.”

“Anthony Merry? Don’t worry, I’ve worked with him before, he’ll smooth things over. He may only be a wine-merchant’s son, but he’s a professional, one of the best.”

“Can’t be worse than Sir Robert was.”

The girl gathered up the sheets she had been exposing to the sun, and put them in her basket. Roderick noticed her writing something on a piece of paper and then tucking it away. After that she started walking back into town. Lord Roderick told his friend, “See you in a few minutes Edward, some business to attend to.”

“Roddy, Drop it!”

Lord Roderick raced through the streets. Edward shook his head in disbelief and then followed. The express would have to wait. Roderick paused to catch his breath, smoothed his garments, and sauntered, deliberately casual, over to her.  He said, “Mademoiselle, bonne journee, est-il pas?”

Without missing a beat, the young lady replied, “C’est bien, ou allez vous Mousier?” in an excellent Parisian accent.

“The Swan, I think that’s where I’m booked.”

“And then London, on the stage, I’d think. Or are you staying in Bristol?”

“It depends.”

“Depends, on what, Sir?”

“Whether the assembly is worth the candle.”

“I wouldn’t know, Sir. My Mistress likes it.” She nodded to him, curtsied, and then walked off. He waited a few seconds and followed her. As he watched from a distance, she put a small piece of paper under a stone near a street corner, and then marked the wall with chalk. It didn’t take her long, and had he not been watching her carefully he’d have missed the whole thing.

“Come on you laggard,” Roderick called to his friend, “We’ve got her. She’s a real professional.” He dashed up, took the paper from under the stone, and started to read it.

“See, Edward, it is a count of the ships. Profes-”

He didn’t get to finish his statement. A member of the militia, delegated to watch the docks, tapped him on the shoulder and said, “Sir, if you’d please. You’re coming with us.” Another soldier stood behind him, ready to back him up should force be required.

“What for?”

“We think you’re a spy. Information has been laid to that effect.”

“What do you mean?” Roderick rapidly looked around, and then saw the chit, still carrying her basket, standing a few yards away. She smiled at him, mockingly curtsied, and then turned to continue her daily chores.

After several hours of tedious conversation and explaining, which only ended when he showed his credentials to the commander of the guard, Roderick was finally freed of his confinement. His friend Edward met him as he left.

“I booked us rooms at the Swan for a few days. The Assembly’s tomorrow night and rumour is that there are some dashed pretty young ladies in Bristol.”

“I see you have your priorities in order.”

“Your’re not expected back in the city for at least another week. I telegraphed[1] Lord Grey and he said so himself in his reply. Why not enjoy the trip? Besides there’s no point in catching the night mail to London. Tedious in the extreme, not to mention dashed uncomfortable.”

Roderick gave his friend a rueful grin, “I don’t know what I’d do without you. Gives me a chance to track down that French agent. Clever one, her, reporting me to the watch.”

Lord Roderick spent the next morning watching the hill where that servant had been. Even though it was a fine sunny morning, excellent for the airing of sheets, she did not turn up.  Edward did, “Roddy, old boy, leave it.”

“She’ll be here. I will catch her. No brown-haired, blue-eyed chit gets the drop on Roderick Lord Hightower. No matter how pretty she is.”

“Roddy, it’s most likely not her washing day. She’s off doing, I don’t know, whatever housemaids do when it’s not washing day. Scrubbing floors or something equally dreary. You probably were the best thing that happened to her yesterday, if not in her life.”

“I suppose you’re right, but she used a dead-drop, and was quick about it. A trained professional. A French professional.”

“If you say so, but I still think she was playing a game with you Roddy.”

“Very likely, but something wasn’t right about that chit. I could smell it.”

“You’re making a spectacle of yourself waiting here.”

“How many maids speak perfect French?”

“Not many, I’ll admit, but maybe her mistress is an emigre, or maybe she is one herself. There’s bound to be a perfectly sensible and not very mysterious reason. You need to stop jumping at shadows, Roddy.”

“If you say so.”

“I do, now how about we find ourselves a good public house and something worth eating.”

“In Bristol?”

“They must eat something here, and the beer isn’t half-bad. Or we might find some half-decent Madeira.”

Sir Roderick shrugged, “I suppose you’re correct, as usual, Edward. Lead on MacDuff.”

“It’s Lay on MacDuff, but I second your intent. Once more into the breach, dear friend, once more.”

The Horn, the pub Edward led Lord Roderick to, for their repast, had a well-deserved reputation, even better than the Swan’s, for the quality of its food and drink. While Edward negotiated with the innkeeper for the hire of a private parlour and an impressive spread, Lord Roderick idly watched the crowds in the street.

“It’s her!” He shouted. “That servant.”

As he ran out the door, Edward shouted after him, “Roddy no! I’ve just arranged for … Damn.” As he dashed after his friend, he shouted to the innkeeper, “Please hold the parlour for me, shan’t be long.”

Roderick followed the servant girl while she walked along the street. She turned to talk with a street vendor, and he dodged into a doorway. Then she continued on her way, apparently unaware of his presence.

He followed, carefully avoiding her direct view.

Minutes later, she turned into a stylish Modiste’s establishment, Madame Fanchion’s. He rushed to follow her inside. He ran into a young woman on her way out. “I’m sorry. I nearly knocked you over.”

The young woman was obviously not a maid, as she was dressed in the latest style.

She curtseyed, “I’m sorry. Should have been watching out myself.”

“Are you hurt?”

“No,” she smiled, “Not at all.” Lord Roderick could not help but notice she had a beautiful smile. “Can I help you?”

“I was looking for a servant, a girl. She turned into this shop.”

“She did? Amazing. Imagine turning into a shop.”

“No, I mean she entered the door.”

The young woman turned to the modiste, herself, “M. Fanchion, did you see a servant girl enter? I didn’t.”

Mais non, Madamoiselle.”

The woman shrugged, “Sorry, can’t help you.”

Lord Roderick peered inside. If the servant had entered, she had vanished into the backrooms.  He shook his head, “Lost the spoor …What has become of my manners?” He bowed, “May I introduce myself, Roderick Lord Hightower.”

The young woman curtsied again with a blush, “Delighted, Miss Alice Green, daughter of Lady Green.”

They would have conversed longer, but a stout middle-aged woman joined them, “Miss Alice, talking to strangers. What would Lady Green say?”

If they’re rich enough, nothing. “I don’t know Martha.”

“Well I do. Come.” The woman led her charge away, off to a waiting carriage. “You are needed at home.” Once they were aboard the postilions prodded their mounts and it clattered off, cleaving a path through the crowd with the imperious disregard only noble status could provide.

Edward finally caught up with his friend. “What happened Roddy?”

“I don’t know. You’re right, I need a repairing lease. I’m jumping at shadows, seeing things. I’ll send an express to London and then stay a couple of weeks in Bath.”

“Stout idea, but dinner first. I hope that parlour’s still open.”

“Stout, save me from stout middle-aged harridans.”

“Governess? They can be intimidating.”

****

Meanwhile Alice was being evaluated in the carriage as they rode out of the city. In addition to ‘Martha’, Mrs. Hudson, the woman in charge of training new female agents, gave her critique. “Did you tell that man your real name?”

“Y-yes.”

“Why?”

“I don’t know. It just, I mean he smiled.”

Mrs. Hudson stared at Miss Aldershot. “What do you think?”

“Other than that, she did well. That trick of hers, yesterday, to put the watch on that man. Masterful.”

“Yes. … Coming up against a French agent on your first test. It does make for an additional level of difficulty.”

Alice inserted, “Was he a real French spy?”

“Oh yes my dear. Very much one.”

Alice smiled, “Good. I thought something was odd about him. How did he escape from the watch?”

“Most likely a few guineas dropped into the right pocket. Jobbery will be the death of us.”

“Did you like my reports?”

“Most observant. They were accurate and timely… Miss Aldershot, what do you think, is she ready?”

“I think we’ve taught her as best we can. Mr. Ou says she’s earned her black belt, and we’ve both seen that she’s mastered the ciphers and concealed writing. Time for her to move on. Bath?”

“Bath it is. I shall be sorry to see you go, Miss Mapleton, but -”

“Needs must?”

“Indeed.”

“I was wondering,” Alice said, “but no probably not.”

“What?”

“The assembly tonight. Could I be permitted to attend, perhaps with Lucinda?”

“Teach that sluggard some tricks?”

“If you wish. It might motivate her to get on.”

Mrs. Hudson laughed, “That it might, or I might be lucky and have her meet someone. I’m sorry to say she’ll be a better squire’s wife than an agent. I had my hopes for her. Loyal to a fault, but -”

“Not quick on the uptake?”

“Precisely, Miss Mapleton.”

“Then may I make a suggestion?”

Mrs. Hudson nodded.

“Have Lucy play the heiress, and me her companion. No one watches companions, and with luck she might meet someone.”

****

Lord Roderick slowly walked back to the Horn. He shook his head in sad disbelief. Edward met him, “At least you didn’t get arrested this time.”

“I must be losing my grip. I would swear that servant went into the shop. She didn’t. Or, …, No.”

“No, what old chap?”

“I bumped into her on the way out. The old quick change. Edward, we’re dealing with a trained professional agent.”

“Hope you’ve put the scare into her then. Come on, dinner will be cold, and the Horn does one very special spread. You must miss fresh food after those weeks at sea.”

[1] The optical telegraph linked ports and coastal points with London during the Napoleonic wars. It would only have taken a few minutes to send a query and get a reply. At least during the day and in good weather.

FrankenKitty 2#wewriwar

Frankenkitty

Welcome to Weekend Writing Warriors.  This is a sample from my work in progress, “Frankenkitty”, and I hope you enjoy it.  It started out as a young-adult superhero book, and well, you’ll see. Last week’s was an introduction, where Dr. Frankenstein’s notebooks emerged. This week Jenny makes an important decision – to take up medicine. She asks to dissect a real frog in biology class, unlike nearly all the girls, and is paired with two ‘nerdy girls’ Amber and Mary. Things are about to ‘get real.’


“Do we have to?” Mary and Amber enjoyed working together.

“Yes, unless you have some very good reason why not.”

That Jennifer had been a ‘C’ student and they ‘A+’ students wasn’t quite a good enough reason.

Their reserve lasted all of ten minutes; up until Jennifer had a turn with the scalpel and delicately laid open the frog. She quickly identified the liver and heart, then with Mary’s help pulled the intestines to the side to see the blood vessels behind them. Mr. Jefferson remarked that it was one of the best presentations he’d ever seen a student team do.

Amber asked, barely keeping the astonishment from her voice, “Where’d you learn that?”

Dr. Frankenstein’s lab notes would be the truth; he had worked with frogs before trying bigger things. That was so clearly unacceptable that Jennifer skirted the truth and said, “I looked it up in study hall – I wanted to be prepared for class.”


This is a work in progress. In other news, I’ve become a booktrope author, but more on that latter. It has meant a change in pen-name. Last Weeks is here and you can read the whole chapter if you’d rather.