Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
“Well, let’s not just stand here. Why don’t we get to work?” Mrs. Q clapped her hands amiably and affectionately, as if she were a grandmother urging her young grandchildren to get on with their homework.
Duan FeiZhou didn’t want to start working at all. Then again, most people in the world would think like him. Only workaholics like Miss Acheson were a rare breed of human beings who should be admired in the ‘Museum of Man.’ He walked into the office and sat down behind the desk he had sat at before. The one across from Z. Miss Acheson got up and approached him. She held a pile of papers.
“Since you’re a clerk, help organize the files.” Duan FeiZhou felt the tabletop tremble as she placed the dictionary-like files on the corner of the desk. “Do you know how to use a typewriter?”
“Not really.” Duan FeiZhou said honestly.
“I’ll teach you. You can practice by typing a few first,” Miss Acheson said. She moved the typewriter on the table in front of Duan FeiZhou, and began to demonstrate how to use it. Typewriters of the era were extremely cumbersome to use. They needed the ink manually pushed back to the starting position after typing a line. 1 The good thing was that the keyboard’s key distribution was the most common modern, QWERTY type. Duan FeiZhou, who was used to using computers, could easily adapt to it.
As long as those inconveniences were overcome, operating a typewriter wasn’t much trouble. Miss Acheson was amazed to see how quickly Duan FeiZhou evolved from being a clumsy typist to an expert at blind typing.
“Did you go to typing school before?” she asked uncertainly. In this day and age, being a typist was a respected profession, and there were even schools that specialized in training typists.
“Uh, no.” Duan FeiZhou said. He had to find an explanation for why he was so familiar with typewriters. “My uncle who passed away was a typist,” he said. “He left behind a typewriter. I don’t really know how to use it, but sometimes I tap on it and play with it.”
Miss Acheson stood there in awe. “So you’re a genius with no teacher.”
Duan FeiZhou was a little ashamed by her compliments.
“Just type up these handwritten files, and organize them according to the labels.” Miss Acheson patted the mountain of files. “It may take a long time, but it’s all old files so there’s no rush. If you have questions, feel free to ask me.” After saying that she walked back to her station.
Duan FeiZhou thought it was an illusion, but he felt that Miss Acheson’s typing speed seemed to have become faster. Maybe she was provoked to win because of Duan FeiZhou, or maybe she was afraid that her skills were going rusty.
Duan FeiZhou took out the top file, placed a new sheet of paper in the typewriter, and began to work furiously. Mrs. Q and Mr. R also buried their heads in paperwork. Mr. R went to the blackboard that hung on the wall and wrote some new names on it.
Duan FeiZhou had just typed two pages when he heard something go “knock, knock, knock, knock,” on the window. He looked out the window and saw a raven resting on the windowsill as it pecked at the glass with its beak. Duan FeiZhou got up, pushed open the window, and the raven leapt into the office as it turned into a man with black hair and yellow eyes.
“You’re late!” Mrs. Q looked at Xenophon with condemnation.
“We’re detectives. We need flexible working hours,” Xenophon said pompously. The guy was so far ahead of his time that he knew about ‘flexible working hours.’ He turned to Duan FeiZhou, as if he had just noticed that there was someone else there.
“Oh, you’re finally coming to work?” he said gleefully. “Miss Acheson’s burden is finally lightened a bit, isn’t it?”
Miss Acheson ignored him, and continued to bury her head in typing.
“Why did you turn into a raven to come to work?” Duan FeiZhou asked.
“Because it’s faster. And to avoid traffic.” Xenophon wandered over to his own seat, sat down with his bottom on the chair and crossed his feet on his desk with the open attitude of, ‘I just want to be a salted fish today.’
The office door was suddenly thrown open with a bang, and Z stood in the doorway. He looked out into the corridor, and said, “Take your time, Your Excellency.”
His tone was indifferent, as if he couldn’t wait for Secretary Carter to get out as fast as possible.
“I hope you can produce results soon,” Carter said in an official tone. “Don’t let Her Majesty down.”
Z grunted and walked into the office, as he closed the door with his backhand.
“What’s Carter doing here?” Xenophon asked lazily.
Z didn’t say a word, he just grimaced.
Mrs. Q answered Xenophon’s question in his stead, “He asked for secret control of Jack the Ripper to use him to find that suspicious restorer from Aberdeen – Duncan McKellen.”
“…Carter’s finally gone mad?” Xenophon wasn’t at all surprised by His Excellency the Secretary’s request. As if Carter going crazy was something that was bound to happen sooner or later.
Z sat at his desk, annoyed, took out his cigarette box and shook out a cigarette. “Then we’ll have to be led by a madman.”
“Him? Leading us?”
“He brought the Queen’s edict, so we have to do whatever he says.” Z gritted his teeth. “I wish I could rip his head right off. It would cut our troubles in half.”
He was about to light his cigarette, but immediately realized that Duan FeiZhou was sitting across from him, so he put down the match resentfully. He raised the corner of his mouth. “Would it be disappointing to witness the dark side of the Abnormal Case Investigation Unit section on your first day on the job?”
Duan FeiZhou felt that this question was really an impossible question. Answering ‘yes’ could also mean ‘no’, while answering ‘no’ was death. He had to change the subject. “Isn’t the man in the picture you showed me, Carter, His Excellency, the Secretary?”
“That’s right.” Z said.
Duan FeiZhou was really surprised that he was so calm. He shouted, “He could be the one behind the Perlilla Manor incident!”
“Indeed. But we have no proof.” Z downplayed it.
“You’re letting such a suspicious guy lead us?” Duan FeiZhou was displeased. Wait, ‘us’? Since when had he subliminally considered himself a member of the Nightmen?
Xenophon squeezed Duan FeiZhou’s shoulders and pushed him back into his chair with one shove.
“We know he is suspicious, but he doesn’t know we know.” Xenophon looked like he was speaking to a child. “It’s just the right opportunity to spy on him, isn’t it?”
Z nodded. “As long as he’s a fox, he’ll show his tail sooner or later. We might as well obey his orders first to get him to let his guard down.”
Duan FeiZhou gave them a heartfelt look of understanding. Good man, he thought. You guys are going to play Infernal Affairs in front of Secretary Carter? Was infernal justice some kind of police Nightmen tradition? At first glance, he seemed to have integrated into the group by lurking within the police Nightmen!
Z turned to Mrs. Q. “We’ll need to bother you to cast a mind control illusion on Jack the Ripper.”
“It’s too dangerous! Do we really have to do that?” Mrs. Q was full of worry.
“That’s what His Excellency the Secretary ordered.” Z was unhappy. “R, you go with and protect Mrs. Q.”
R gave a curt salute.
Duan FeiZhou’s eyes widened. “Is Mrs. Q also…”
“Also an occult practitioner, same as me.” Xenophon said proudly. “She specializes in séances and illusions.”
Although this guy was always going on about, ‘occult philosophy is not a good thing to learn,’ Duan FeiZhou could see that he was still proud of his status as an occult practitioner. Mrs. Q and Mr. R left the office and went to the dungeon. Duan FeiZhou had never seen the Nightmen’s dungeon before, and he prayed he never would.
HIs first day as a Nightman was spent typing, typing and typing. The typewriters of the era were so laborious that Duan FeiZhou’s fingers were about to break. He never knew that typing was such a tiring job.
Duan FeiZhou didn’t want to know what kind of magic they were planning to perform. It was creepy just to think about it.
At 6:00 p.m. they all left work on time (except for Miss Acheson). Xenophon turned into a crow and flew away on wings, which made Duan FeiZhou a little jealous of his ability to do animagus anytime, anywhere. So it was just him and Z again, shoulder to shoulder, through the long, dark corridor to the Scotland Yard gate.
“How’s your first day on the job going?” Z asked in an old leader-like tone.
“Just typing, nothing more.” Duan FeiZhou moved his sore shoulders.
“If you’re just typing all day long, you should be glad. The days when nothing happens are rare for the Abnormal Case Investigation Unit section.”
“And what’s the common scenario?” Duan FeiZhou asked.
“Sitting in the office, on the edge of my seat for colleagues who are out in the field. If they come back, I help them write their reports. If they don’t come back, I will help write their obituary.”
Z’s tone was flat, as if the phenomenon was commonplace, but Duan FeiZhou’s heart pounded.
“Do you want me to take you back?” Z asked.
Duan FeiZhou kind of wanted to answer ‘yes.’ He would be happy to spend more time with Z, and talk about non-work related things. However, after he thought about it he finally said, “No. I’m not a kid who needs to be picked up by his parents every day.”
Z laughed. When he smiled, even London’s gloomy sky brightened up. He waved his hand and got into a carriage. “Then take care.”
Duan FeiZhou also took a carriage back to 49 Frances Square. After a hard day’s work, he desperately needed Al’s cooking to replenish his energy. Unfortunately, before he could enter the house, he heard the sound of eager conversations from inside.
A visitor? Was it Mr. Yeats?
Duan FeiZhou pushed in the door and was greeted by a huge body. It was Mr. Lynn, the lawyer he hadn’t seen for a long time.
“Gee, I was just talking to Al about you, boy!” Mr. Lynn ran cheerfully to Duan FeiZhou.
“What brings you here?” Duan FeiZhou was surprised. The last time he had met Mr. Lynn was the day he went to his house to enjoy, ‘a feast from the sea.’ That was a meal he would never forget.
“If the mountain won’t come to me, then I have to go to the mountain,” 2 Mr. Lynn quoted. “I came to see you a few times, but you were out of town. You’ve been really busy lately!”
“I’m sorry, something came up recently. I wanted to visit you as soon as I got back to London, but I just couldn’t make it…” Duan FeiZhou handed his jacket to Al, but the teenager smiled and didn’t reach for it.
“I know, I know.” Mr. Lynn waved his hand to show he didn’t care about the details. “Al told me all about it. You got hired at Scotland Yard, didn’t you? Scotland Yard! If your uncle’s spirit knew about this, he would be moved to tears!”
Duan FeiZhou believed that Joseph Chester would cry if he learned that his nephew was in the Scotland Yard, but not with joy, but with anger. He smiled bitterly, “I’m just a clerk, and not full-time, only three days a week.”
“That’s great! That’s your first step into society!” Mr. Lynn’s eyebrows were raised. “To celebrate this great event, you must come to our house for dinner!”
For a moment, Duan FeiZhou seemed to see Joseph Chester on the clouds, accompanied by a group of little angels, as they waved at him. He screamed in his heart, That would be a big no!
He now understood why Al didn’t take his coat. He was about to go out again.
Too bad Al only knew one thing and didn’t know the other. If he had tasted Mrs. Lynn’s, ‘masterpiece’, he might have stolen all the clothes in Duan FeiZhou’s house overnight, so that his master couldn’t go out, and he wouldn’t have to suffer from those ‘masterpieces.’
“I know my wife’s cooking skills are really…” Mr. Lynn coughed in embarrassment. “But the food isn’t the most important thing, it’s who you’re having dinner with, isn’t it?”
…What, was dinner at Lynn’s so bad that the guests would rather eat with other guests?
Mr. Lynn pushed Duan FeiZhou out the door, and blocked his escape with his own body. So, Duan FeiZhou had to go downstairs, and walk to the Lynn residence with a sad expression on his face, as if he wasn’t going to dinner, but to the guillotine. Al locked the door and followed them, but kept a certain distance. As a trained valet, he must be at his master’s beck and call, but not interrupt his conversation with the others.
Mr. Lynn said cheerfully, “My daughter Louisa is coming home today, and this meal will be a reception for her.”
“Miss Lynn was on vacation?” Duan FeiZhou asked.
“Oh, no, no, no. She just got back from her aunt’s in Derbyshire,” Mr. Lynn explained. “Her aunt took her on a trip on a steamship! I’d love to hear about her trip!”
Lynn’s house wasn’t far away and they arrived soon. Like last time, Mrs. Lynn opened the door herself. She kissed Duan FeiZhou warmly on both cheeks, and greeted Al.
“How is your mother?” she asked. “How is the business of the tailor shop?”
“Thanks to you, business is booming, ma’am.” Al said politely. Mrs. Lynn was a long-time customer of his mother’s tailor shop.
“With the social season coming up, I thought it was time to take Louisa to order some new dresses.” Mr. Lynn added.
“You and your wife are always welcome. We’ve got new patterns in the store that you’ll love.”
Mrs. Lynn smiled, and said to Duan FeiZhou, “Al has become a very bright boy. When I used to see him, he was always sullen and not very talkative. Now he can talk. He must have learned how to handle people after he worked for you as a manservant, right?”
Duan FeiZhou didn’t think Al was dull before. The boy had always chattered so much in front of him that a parrot would be dwarfed by him.
Mrs. Lynn led them into the living room and asked the maid to serve refreshments. Al, as a servant, had no business sitting at the table with his master, so he went to the kitchen. There was food prepared especially for the servants. Everyone was in place except Duan FeiZhou, who felt a deep sense of alienation from his current circumstances.
Mr. Lynn was eager to tell his wife about Duan FeiZhou’s new job. “I can’t believe this young man is so promising!” Mr. Lynn gushed. “How lucky the woman who will become his wife will be! What an honor it will be to be his father-in-law and mother-in-law!”
Duan FeiZhou stared into his cup of tea, his face tense, as he pretended not to understand the implication.
Mrs. Lynn, however, wasn’t impressed. On the issue of her daughter’s marriage, she and her husband’s attitudes were diametrically opposed. “Is it honorable for a couple to have no son-in-law?” She glared at her husband.
Just as the atmosphere was about to turn awkward again, the doorbell saved Duan FeiZhou.
Lynn’s maid went to open the door. “Welcome back, Miss.”
Everyone stood up at the same time to welcome Louisa home.
She staggered into the house wearing a blue schoolgirl uniform and carrying a leather suitcase. The maid held out her hand, and asked her to hand her the suitcase. However, Louisa walked right past the maid, unconcerned.
“Ah, Louisa! Look who’s here for your reception!” Mrs. Lynn greeted her daughter joyfully.
Louisa stumbled toward her parents, staggering as if she was drunk or seriously ill.
“You probably don’t know this, but Leo, he’s at Scotland Yard…” Mr. Lynn’s voice trailed off. Even the most jovial part of him sensed that something was wrong with his daughter.
The young girl gave a weak, hollow smile. Then she fell straight down.
The maid screamed, “Miss! What happened to you, Miss?!”
Mr. and Mrs. Lynn rushed to their daughter’s side in a panic, Mr. Lynn picked up Louisa, and transferred her to the couch. Mrs. Lynn panicked and ordered the maid to find some emergency medicine like smelling salts.
“May I look at her?” Duan FeiZhou asked.
Mr. Lynn was sweating, but remembered that he had studied medicine, and although he wasn’t licensed it was better than the rest who knew nothing about medicine.
“Ahh, of course! Please…” He stepped away from the front of the couch.
Duan FeiZhou knelt down on the carpet and probed the young girl’s pulse and nose. She had an extremely fast heartbeat and was breathing heavily. At the same time, her skin was so hot that it seemed like a branding iron. Duan FeiZhou couldn’t resist retracting his hand after only a few touches, for fear that he would be burned. This wasn’t an ordinary fever. How could the human body temperature be so high?
Duan FeiZhou opened her eyelids and found that the whites of her eyes had turned red and were extremely congested.
The maid found some smelling salts. She waved the smelling salts in front of Louisa’s nose, and while Louisa’s eyelids twitched, she didn’t open her eyes.
Mrs. Lynn let out a loud howl, “What’s wrong with her, Leo? Can you diagnose it?”
Duan FeiZhou shook his head, looking grave. He had never seen this kind of disease before. Not only had he never seen it when he was an unlicensed black doctor, he had never seen it in modern medical textbooks either. It was reasonable to say that such a special sign should be a rare but well-known disease. However Duan FeiZhou searched his memory for half a day, recalled every textbook he had read, and couldn’t find the answer.
“I think it’s better to rush to the hospital,” he said apologetically.
The noise in the living room startled Al in the kitchen, who came up curiously to see what was going on, but as soon as he saw the bright red veins on Louisa’s arm, he gasped. “I’ve seen this disease before!”
Everyone looked at him at the same time. The teenager’s face was so pale that even his lips had lost their color. This scene seemed to remind him of some kind of horrible and painful past.
“What exactly is the disease, Al?” said Duan FeiZhou urgently.
The teenager’s lips quivered. “It’s Etheric Disease!” He shivered. “I’m absolutely right! My father died of this disease!”