I alighted at Kings Cross, exhausted by my enforced convalescence in the country. The presence of Doriana my cousin’s young daughter, charged with nursing me in her mother’s absence, had kept me abed for weeks. Still, a change is almost as good as a rest. London’s toxic atmosphere was a tonic to my replenished organs, infusing my blood with its murky oils.
I’d planned to take a carriage to the nearest brothel in accordance with my own traditions. To know a city’s whores is to know the city. But the sight of an hobgoblin tickled me onto a diversion. He was skulking past mountains of luggage on the platform’s edge. The fellow seemed normal but for his legs, which were so truncated as to bely the speed at which he scuttled past the last of the disembarking passengers. I have a fascination with the freakish and he fit neatly into my Case of Intriguement. His unwholesome facial hair attempting to escape his chin and cheek by clinging to the woolen scarf and hood which enshrouded his lumpy skull. Startling eyes attempted to climb out of his face, subtly aglaze; perhaps more promising than my intended diversion.
I followed him obliquely, taking time to read the Times and the pornographic graffiti as he scurried through the station. Pausing beside a peeling Cadbury’s advertisement he seemed rather like the pixieish child depicted there, though grotesquely mangled. Then he bared his frightful teeth and ducked through a chained doorway. Allowing him some headway, I slipped through the forbidden exit behind him.
There followed a dark corridor (ever the route to bliss), dripping darkly about my boots. Stubs of candles guttered hazily in the gloom. My quarry had slipped out of sight. I sensed that this subterranean realm could hold a treasure greater than the Cave of Methylated Spirits or the Fungal Palace of Leeds. The tunnel seemed endless and its dampness became entwined with a smell I assumed to be from fish oil candles. Promising…
Abruptly my passage was blocked by the emergence of two shadowy figures and their rather obvious clubs. I scarcely had time to comment on the pairing of a burly thug and mincing goon before I was beaten into a violent slumber.
A greasy orange firelight pushed at my eyelids and the ill-educated chanting of Londoners thrust their way into my ears. Reluctantly I split my lids to find my view occluded by an over-tufted moon waxing out of its breeches; my gaze was fixed until it shuffled away. I was bound to a pillar in a cellar thronging with the refuse of the capitals misbegetting population. Da Vinci would have been horrified by these digressions from his golden proportions. Bestial would be too kind and I suspected I was witness to the birth of a new species. Or possibly several. I can scare enumerate the variations of hue, limb and facial architecture.
Oh, I’d also been stripped save for my decency-maintaining cravat, and smeared with the fishy waste their culture was based upon. Whilst I am used to disporting my talents at a dinner party, I rarely find myself with quite such attention upon me as was weighed upon me in that dank cavern.
Indeed, as they waved their stumps and webley appendages I recognised in their manner the frothy spasms of spiritualism, here hijacked by the gutter-tongued cockneys. The hobgoblin I’d followed from the railway beat his way to my side and in a passable imitation of English brought order, or at least a grunting silence to the gathering.
They brought forth a chalice of some frothy liquid, intending to force it down me. I’d a powerful thirst by this point and cheerfully tossed it back, to the sub-trolls audible awe. The fluid foamed in my mouth tickling my teeth with its narcotic buzz. Now here was something new – not a poison as I’d feared it might be. Witnessing the horde also guzzling away – more a liberating liqueur.
Suddenly freed from my bonds I gave in to the intoxicants urging and scampered, hooting like an elegant baboon. The crowd capered with me, at the hobgoblin’s signal. Feeling a little delirious I clambered onto a rude dais and began a mighty oration. Its exact subject eludes me now, but my invective and imperation were loud and clear. Quite what decisions I’d made I shall never know, but I led that horde of manimals out of their troglodytic meeting place, proudly bearing one of their trouty braziers, into the midst of the English public.
The Times informs me that we razed much of the British Museum and tainted the rest with our disdain for anatomical perfection. I apparently lead my convoy of ugly into a freny of vileness when we gatecrashed a gathering of the gentry. It’s possible they took us for clowns or a theatrical troupe seized with success or despair at our latest show. By all accounts it was a fine afternoon. We occupied a shopping arcade, performed unelective surgery in Harley Street and stole all the clotted fudge we could find.
The police responded according to their nature by clubbing wildly at the fray, harming beast and man equally until both parties fled. I myself awoke under a railway arch, the cloven feet of a dwarven girl clasped to my chin. What an exciting return to the City, but I figured I ought to quit London just as swiftly despite the rebellious thrills I’d tasted. Ah, Doriana’s freckled cheeks beckoned once more.