From the journal of Jenny Flint, 1895.
One afternoon, Madame Vastra and I were sitting in our conservatory in our usual wicker chair when Strax entered. “Madame Vastra, there’s a boy for you at the door. And a girl with a gigantic head.”
“Send them in, Strax. I’ve been expecting them.” Madame Vastra pointed at a bare spot near the fountain our wicker chair was located. “And set aside another chair.”
Strax retrieved our visitors from our front door in Paternoster Row. The “boy” was a woman who appeared no younger than in her early twenties. Her brown hair was tied up and hidden under a purple hat covered in flowers. She wore a purple walking dress and carried a purple umbrella with her. The “girl with a gigantic head” was a man wearing a curled moustache and a bushy goatee. He looked no older than forty. He wore a black bowler hat, a grey coat and waistcoat, with a red cravat to give his outfit a bit of colour.
The man helped the woman sit down in her chair opposite the fountain. Strax placed another wicker chair down beside the chair that was there, and the man sat down.
“I am Madame Vastra.” Madame Vastra clasped my hand. “This is my wife, Jenny.”
“It’s nice to meet you,” I said.
Madame Vastra turned to the woman. “I’ve heard so much about you. People think you’re dead. Or at least the Doctor does. He’s been looking for you.”
The woman placed her umbrella in her lap. “I’m not looking for him. Not yet. I’ll come out of hiding for him when I’m ready to see him. Will you promise not to tell him about me?”
Madame Vastra nodded. “Certainly, Ashildr.”
The woman blinked. “Who’s Ashildr?”
“The Doctor calls you that.”
“The Doctor hasn’t visited me in years. I told him what my name was the last time he met. I see he still doesn’t respect who I am now.”
“Who are you, then?”
“I am Me.” (Dear reader, this is not a typo. The woman calls herself Me. As she later explained to us in our conservatory, her memory is not the best, as I’ll explain later. Me is easier for her to remember as a name than anything you or I might consider a name.)
Madame Vastra nodded. “Certainly, Me.”
“And this is Sam Swift.”
Madame Vastra turned to Sam. “I assume you still go under the name of Sam Swift.”
“I haven’t thought of changing my name.” Sam’s voice was more jovial than the serious, stern tone of Me. “I don’t know what else to call myself, Madame.”
Dear reader, the details of Me’s life could fill a thousand books. She said she’s actually done this, write down what she cares to remember in several journals of hers. Indeed, she is a friend of our friend the Doctor. Our other friend, Clara Oswald, along with the Doctor, went to Me’s village, somewhere in Scandinavia during the age of the Vikings. Me spoke fondly of Clara, talking at length about her looks, her beauty, her scent. Not so much with the Doctor—she had some bitterness towards him that I know for certain Madame Vastra doesn’t have for the Doctor. After a battle with aliens known as the Mire, Me died, but was revived using a repair kit, a device that repairs the Mire in battle but has kept Me alive for centuries. Me travelled the world until the seventeenth century, where she elected to live near what is now London.
Around this time, the Doctor visited Me again, where she was looking for an alien transport device known as the Eyes of Hades. The Eyes of Hades were almost used to open up a portal to Delta Leonis, a galaxy that was, at the time, dying, and nearly killed Swift, who was Me’s rival in their highwayman days, in the process. Me saved Swift by using a spare Mire repair kit, and he has been alive ever since. Me keeps a watch over him, the only promise Me keeps between herself and the Doctor. They both live on the alien refuge hidden in London, the one where Me is the mayor and Sam is a bartender for all those that drink.
“That’s why I’m here,” Me continued. “There’s a man roaming the streets of London with a hunting gun. They say he’s looking for aliens to kill and mount on his walls. They call him William Falstaff, 3rd Earl Whitworth. Or, as he’s properly known, Lord Falstaff.”
I gasped. “Lord Falstaff?”
Madame Vastra clasped my hand. “It’s okay,” she whispered in my ear.
“You know him?”
“Most certainly,” Madame Vastra said to Me. “He tried to take my life before, while I was feeding ducks in Hyde Park.”
Me nodded. “I’m not surprised he’s a coward. But I’m afraid he might harm several of my charges.”
“So where does Sam come in?”
“Right here.” Sam grinned. “I was getting some bar supplies from a warehouse when I bumped into Lord Falstaff. He asked me about the necklace I was wearing underneath my shirt. I told him it was my necklace and that it wasn’t for sale. He tried to snatch the necklace from me, but I managed to duck and run the other way. I’ve tried getting rid of it, but in the end, I’ve learned I can’t live without my necklace.”
Me pointed to Sam and herself. “We could take Lord Falstaff on and survive, but we want him out of our lives for good. And that is why we’ve come to the Paternoster Gang.”
Vastra nodded. “At least we can all agree a man as dangerous as Lord Falstaff should be imprisoned for the good of London.”
Strax called Madame Vastra, Sam and I a hansom cab. The three of us rode to Marylebone, to see the wax sculptors at Madame Tussauds. You may recall some of our previous adventures where Madame Vastra, Strax, and I have interrupted the sculptors while they were repairing Charles Dickens’ head or casting Serbian royals no one will stop and observe. When we arrived at Madame Tussauds, two employees there were moving Dickens to the Chamber of Horrors. From what I could parse, it was to celebrate the inspiration behind Dickens’ book Bleak House for a month. Madame Vastra was given access to Madame Tussauds through a service entrance; the employees were not expecting us. The employees nearly dropped Dickens and his head again when they noticed us.
Madame Vastra lifted her veil that was covering her face. “I’m sorry to disturb you while you are in the midst of planning for a new exhibit, but I was wondering if you could make a waxwork for me by tomorrow.”
One of the men moving Dickens looked at us in disbelief. “Madame Vastra, it would take two weeks for us to make a waxwork for you! Well, actually, a month. The scales and all.”
“Oh, no, this figure is not for me. This is for my friend Sam Swift.”
Sam tilted his hat. “Hello.”
“Two weeks,” the same man said to us.
“I recall around two years ago, there was a murder trial in Scotland. Tussauds Limited decided to make a waxwork of the suspect on trial before a verdict was handed down in his case. The suspect was found not proven. The suspect later sued Tussauds Limited for libel over Tussauds making a waxwork of him.”
“Are you suggesting we hand over a waxwork we don’t have on display now?” the other employee asked us.
Vastra nodded. “It’s not like you were going to do anything else with the waxwork. Other than melt it down to make whatever murder you have lined up next for the Chamber of Horrors. And if you don’t have that specific waxwork, one of your royals will do. Didn’t one of you tell me visitors only care for the English and French royals?”
The first employee we talked to squinted and looked at Sam. “We can put a moustache on the Scot in the back in an hour.”
“What about the Eyes of Hades?” Sam whispered in Madame Vastra’s ear.
“May I also request one of your biggest pieces of costume jewellery? Specifically a necklace with a big purple jewel attached.”
Sam froze, then nodded. “That’ll do.”
Paternoster Row is close to London’s most notorious slums—Whitechapel, Spitalfields, Old Nichol, Bethnal Green. In Madame Vastra’s study, as Sam’s hastily-made waxwork watched us, we plotted out our caper. A common lodging-house owned by W------ C---------- on Dorset Street would be where we set up our trap. We determined a poor and crime-ridden street like Dorset Street would be the perfect street for a coward like Lord Falstaff to walk in and out of a lodging-house to steal a jewel.
Madame Vastra would be heavily involved, along with Sam and Me. Strax and I would hide in the shadows, monitoring things from an alley in case things went wrong. It was clear from Madame Vastra’s plans that she was putting her life on the line for a man who had shot at her with a rifle while she was feeding ducks at a lake, unarmed. And even if she had her sword on her person, it would be no match for Lord Falstaff’s gun.
“Are you sure you want to expose yourself to Lord Falstaff?” I asked Madame Vastra.
“Yes. He still wants to kill me for his mantle. Why would I not be the perfect bait? Strax would be too slow and you are a human.”
“I don’t want to lose you.”
Madame Vastra took her fingers, being careful not to scratch me, and stroked my right cheek and my chin. “I’ll be okay, Jenny. I promise I’ll come out of this alive, because I don’t want to lose you, my dear.”
Lord Falstaff looked ridiculous in his Norfolk jacket and hunting rifle on Dorset Street; he would very much look in place anywhere else in London. But he was very easy for Strax and I to spot in our room across from where the trap for Lord Falstaff was set.
“That human scum wanted to kill me!” Strax suddenly exclaimed. He almost left the room we were sequestered in, but I ran quickly to block the door. “Not now, Strax!”
“Step aside, boy! He must die for the glory of Sontar!” (Strax didn’t actually mean that, wanting Lord Falstaff to die “for the glory of Sontar.” He always puts on a brave front—of pretending he’s still fighting for the Sontarans, and that one day the Sontarans will come to Earth, rescue him, and allow him to fight as a solider, not a nurse—for the two of us. But he did want to kill Lord Falstaff and blow our cover.)
“No, Strax! We need him alive. Then we’ll make sure he stays in jail for a long time. You can’t kill him now. You didn’t bring your blaster.”
Strax relaxed. “You are right, boy. I will resume my place at the window and look out for that human scum.”
I sighed in relief. “Thank you, Strax.”
Strax and I returned to the window and watched Lord Falstaff. He hadn’t moved far. Something had caught his eye—Sam, dressed in a ragged brown suit, being carried to C----------’s lodging-house, with Madame Vastra and Me, dressed as a young boy in a tattered brown suit. Her hair was pinned back and hidden under a newsboy cap. Lord Falstaff backed up and stood near the entrance of the lodging-house.
(The next few paragraphs were recounted to me personally by Madame Vastra.)
“Thank you, Madame Vastra,” Me said as Madame Vastra and she entered the lodging-house. I don’t know what has driven my father to drink so much.
Sam let out a dramatic groan, but that groan wasn’t enough to not fool Lord Falstaff.
“Let me find some coffee for your father,” Madame Vastra said to Me. “That should help him recover from all the alcohol he has consumed.”
“Do you need help?”
“I should be fine finding the coffee for your father, but if you would like to come along, you may.”
(I return to my observations on that day with Strax.)
Strax and I saw Madame Vastra, Sam, and Me arrive in their room in the lodging-house. We also saw Lord Falstaff fall for our trap. And while Lord Falstaff raced up the lodging-house to get to the room we rented for Sam, Sam hid in the lodging-house’s closet. Meanwhile, Madame Vastra and Me fluffed the pillow and covered Sam’s wax figure in the bed. They went to a coffeehouse, to have an alibi if Lord Falstaff was to get suspicious.
Madame Vastra later told me she ran into Lord Falstaff while Me and she were headed to the coffeehouse. Lord Falstaff nearly turned around and pointed his rifle at Madame Vastra, intending to shoot her, but he changed his mind, rushing up the stairs of the lodging-house.
Lord Falstaff entered the room after Madame Vastra and Me left. As we predicted, Lord Falstaff shot Sam’s waxwork, believing Sam to be alive and in bed. Lord Falstaff ripped the costume necklace off of Sam and fled the lodging-house before anyone could catch him.
When Strax and I knew Lord Falstaff was long gone, and we knew he couldn’t possibly harm Madame Vastra or Me, Strax and I went into the lodging-house to check on Sam. I opened the closet in the lodging-house room Sam was in. Sam looked shaken up, but he tried not to show Strax and I. He clasped his hand on right shoulder and gave me a huge grin. “Fear not, milady, the great Sam Swift is still breathing.”
Strax and I took Sam back to our house, where we waited for Madame Vastra and Me to return from coffee. They both arrived safely moments later.
Our work was still not done. We needed to prove that Lord Falstaff was attempting to murder, at the very least, an innocent man. Although Madame Vastra and I have a good working relationship with the constables and the Metropolitan Police, the laws currently in existence would make it hard to prosecute a man for the attempted murder of a Sontaran, let alone a Silurian. We had to make a plan to lure Lord Falstaff to a place where he could confess to attempted murder. In a couple of days time, if I was successful in trying to lure Lord Falstaff to our home, we would reunite to finally see this villain off to prison where he belonged.
Even after Madame Vastra returned, I was shaken up about her being in the vicinity of a man who had tried to kill her before. She gave Strax the evening off and advised me to go to bed, so I could sleep my worries away. I took off my clothes, went to bed, and waited for sleep to arrive, but it did not come; the images of that villain Lord Falstaff lingered in my head. Madame Vastra joined me in the nude to encourage me to sleep. In the darkness, I let her examine my white belly and thighs, and in turn, she let me examine her scales glistening in what light leaked into our room. My anguish started to leave me when I felt Madame Vastra’s scales upon my skin. I asked Madame Vastra to scratch my back with her claws, and she did as I asked. By the time we were experimenting with a rubber good and Madame Vastra’s tongue—even though Madame Vastra is careful in not using the venom in her tongue to discolour and change human skin, we err on the side of caution—my fears of losing Madame Vastra left me. Now relaxed, I went to bed, knowing I could be prepared in finally imprisoning Lord Falstaff for good.
Madame Vastra dressed me up in a grey travelling suit the next day. We discovered where Lord Falstaff lived, and I travelled to his residence in Belgrave Square in a cab alone.
Lord Falstaff knew who I was. It was I who pretended to be a reporter to confuse Lord Falstaff into thinking Madame Vastra was me, to save her life. I was going to continue my guise as a reporter again, to lure Lord Falstaff into our home at Paternoster Row.
I walked up to Lord Falstaff’s door, not letting the rows and rows of expensive, stucco-covered houses intimidate me. A servant of Lord Falstaff let me into Lord Falstaff’s home, after I lied to him and said was “Jenny Beauclerc” of The Sketch. I met Lord Falstaff in his parlour. He was still wearing a Norfolk jacket, even though it looked like he had no plans to leave his residence that day.
“Of course I remember you,” Lord Falstaff said after I introduced my alias to him. “You’re the woman that I thought was...was...”
“A lizard,” I said, nodding.
“And of course you’re not a lizard. What brings you to my home?”
“I wanted to interview you. With your heritage, and your lifestyle, I thought the readers of The Sketch deserved to learn more about you. My editor, Mr W------ I-----, agreed with me. Would you like to be interviewed for The Sketch, Lord Falstaff?”
“Why, of course! Being in The Sketch is a major honour. Why would I turn the offer down?”
“I’d like to interview you at my home, in Paternoster Square.”
“That’s not a problem. I get around London easily. I can be at your home tomorrow for tea. And is it a low tea? I have a big dinner planned that night at my home.”
“Yes, it will be a low tea.”
If Lord Falstaff wanted afternoon tea, we would give him afternoon tea. Lord Falstaff knew where I lived now, but he didn’t know Madame Vastra and Strax lived with me. And he didn’t know we were allies with Sam and Me. We aimed to make tea with Lord Falstaff a tea he wouldn’t forget.
Sam and Me arrived at our home well before Lord Falstaff came to tea. We dressed them up as servants. I sat in our conservatory alone while Strax, Sam, and Madame Vastra hid near our conservatory. A table was laid out in our conservatory for low tea; it was covered with one of our best tablecloths. A vase with flowers in it was placed in the middle of the table, leaving enough room for sugar, cream, slices of lemon, and sandwiches on plates.
Lord Falstaff arrived at our door, still wearing his favourite Norfolk jacket. He didn’t bring his gun with him for once. He was wearing the piece of costume jewellery he thought was the Eyes of Hades. I stifled my laughter as Lord Falstaff treated the costume jewellery as if it was worth several thousand pounds. Me answered the door and led Lord Falstaff to our conservatory. Noticing that we didn’t have a male servant present, Lord Falstaff pulled out his own chair and sat in front of me. Madame Vastra did notice Lord Falstaff wasn’t armed. She briefly left her hiding place to retrieve and hide her sword near her person, in case she needed it. She also encouraged Strax to have his blaster nearby in case he needed it.
“Lady Beauclerc, are you ready for high tea?” Me asked me.
I nodded at Me. “Yes, you may bring the tea out now.”
Me left for our kitchen. I then proceeded to pretend to interview Lord Falstaff. And it was a tedious interview. He talked of his school days as if he was reading from an erotic novel. Mercifully, as Lord Falstaff was beginning his tales of military exploits as if he was a character from a story in Boys’ Own, Sam appeared with the tea.
“Your tea, Lady Beauclerc,” Sam said, pouring tea from a kettle into our teacups. Lord Falstaff looked at Sam and stopped speaking. He blinked his eyes several times until Sam left the conservatory.
“What’s wrong, Lord Falstaff?”
Lord Falstaff shook his head. “Nothing. I thought I bumped into that man the other day on the street.”
“Maybe you’re seeing things. I only have a maid with me here. No butlers or any male help.”
Lord Falstaff nodded. “You’re right. Now where was I?”
Lord Falstaff returned to his dry story of his military service. Me brought out a small plate of bonbons. Lord Falstaff never missed a beat on his story. That is until Strax came in with the sandwiches. “Here are your sandwiches, you pathetic humans,” he said before leaving for the kitchen.
Lord Falstaff looked at me. “Did you see that?”
“What’s a Sontaran?”
“It’s a type of alien. I’ve read about them in a book.”
“My maid brought out those sandwiches. Why would I live in a household with an alien I know nothing about?”
Lord Falstaff shook his head. “You’re right.” He picked up one of the sandwiches Strax brought out and ate it. “Where was I?”
Still on his boring military career, to be exact. He stopped again when Madame Vastra walked from out of her hiding place and picked up a bonbon from one of the trays on our table.
“That was a Silurian.”
“You mean the ancient British tribe? The one from Wales?”
“No, not the ancient tribe! Something else.”
“What else could it be?”
Lord Falstaff sighed. “Never mind.”
Lord Falstaff finally moved on from secretly boring me with his military service to something equally as boring—hunting animals. Things like foxes in England and tigers in India. Sam walked up to our table and nodded to me.
Lord Falstaff pointed at Sam. “You’re supposed to be dead.”
“My maid? Why do you want her dead?”
“No, not your maid. A man I met in the streets of London. A drunk.”
Sam’s eyes filled with rage, but he didn’t move.
“He had a big purple jewel on his neck and I wanted it. So I looked for him in a place where London’s drunkards reside—Dorset Street. And I found him and his lodging-house. I killed him and took his jewel. And now I see his ghost is haunting me, just like that Sontaran and the memory of that Silurian.” Lord Falstaff stood up and looked into Sam’s eyes. “Why must you haunt me, you wretched man?”
Me walked into the conservatory as Lord Falstaff made his confession. She gasped after he was done. While Lord Falstaff was distracted with Me’s theatrics, Sam fled the conservatory and hid again.
“Did you hear that?” I said to Me.
“I did, milady.” Me nodded.
“Fetch a policeman post-haste. I can’t in good conscious lodge a thief and a murderer.”
Me nodded again, and ran to fetch one of the policemen loyal to Madame Vastra, Strax, and me.
Lord Falstaff also attempted to leave our home. But Madame Vastra, sword drawn, and Strax, armed with blaster, met him at our doorway. “You will stay in place, human scum,” Strax said to Lord Falstaff.
Policemen arrested Lord Falstaff at our home and charged him with theft. Madame Vastra showed one of the policemen the waxwork of Sam Lord Falstaff “killed” at the lodging-house; Lord Falstaff was also charged with attempted murder. The last we saw of Lord Falstaff was his body being hauled into the back of a police wagon. Hopefully that will be the last all of us see of Lord Falstaff.
Sam and Me changed back into the clothes they arrived at our home with. At our doorway, Me clasped Madame Vastra’s hands. “Madame Vastra? Jenny? Strax? Thank you all for getting rid of Lord Falstaff. We can return to the street we live on in peace without fear of London’s alien population being harmed.”
“We are always available if you’re in need of our services,” Madame Vastra said. “But Sam, I noticed when you were talking about the Eyes of Hades, you said tried getting rid of it, but you couldn’t live without your necklace. It makes me think that you’re not sentimentally attached to the Eyes of Hades, but that you’re literally connected to them. Am I correct?”
Sam took off his coat and waistcoat. He slid his cravat to the side and unbuttoned his shirt. There, embedded in Sam’s chest, were the real Eyes of Hades. Sam explained why the Eyes of Hades were in his chest. The gateway for the galaxy of Delta Leonis required a dead body. Sam was scheduled to be executed in front of a gathering of people in Tyburn. What better place to kill your rival than in front of the public eye? And so Me thrust the Eyes of Hades into Sam’s chest, killing him. Me later realized she was tricked into allowing an invasion from Delta Leonis into our galaxy. As I have mentioned before, the Doctor had given Me a spare Mire repair kit. She used the kit to restore Sam’s life. The side effect of the Mire repair kit in Sam’s body meant it treated the Eyes of Hades as if it was a part of his body. Sam tried many times to remove the Eyes of Hades from his chest, to destroy them and keep them away from anyone who might want to use them to summon the people of Delta Leonis to Earth. But the Mire repair kit kept embedding the Eyes of Hades into his chest. Sam gave up and accepted the Eyes of Hades as a part of him. Sam wasn’t afraid of dying at the hands of Lord Falstaff because he knew he wouldn’t die. He wanted to avoid the pain of trying to extract the Eyes of Hades from his body, and he knew that with someone like Lord Falstaff, trying to remove the Eyes of Hades might lead to torture of some sort.
Sam put back on his clothing. “Thank you, ladies and Strax, for all that you’ve done for me. Now, I must be off to serve some aliens whatever they can drink from my bar.”
I embraced Madame Vastra as Sam and Me left our residence, and I noticed a hint of sadness in Me’s eyes, as if she wanted a love like ours.
The next day, Madame Vastra and I were sitting in our conservatory in our usual wicker chair when Strax entered. “Madame Vastra, there are two boys at the door. The one called Clara and the one called Me.”
“Let them in, Strax,” Madame Vastra said, “and set two chairs for them.”
As Strax was setting the chairs, Clara and Me walked in our conservatory, wearing matching travelling suits. I expected Clara to be happy. But Me? Me was beaming. They held hands as they sat across from us.
“We were in the neighbourhood and we wanted to visit,” Clara said.
“I thought the day after I left your home with Sam would be the perfect time to visit you two,” Me added.
“Why are you here?” I asked.
To my surprise, the Me that was in our parlour wasn’t the same Me from the other day. She was a Me that was billions of years older! And Clara looked and appeared human, but she, as as she explained for lack of words, was saved just before the moment she died! For some reason,our Me has a knack for killing people, as a gambit she made against the Doctor backfired and cost Clara her life. Me was devastated, even as she managed to survive to the end of the world. But she was rescued by the Doctor and this immortal version of Clara in a stolen time machine, much like the Doctor’s blue box. Me thought Sam had perished in a war several decades from where we are now, and the war touched London. Clara and Me were able to find Sam and send him to a place where he could happily spend his days, all without affecting Clara and Me’s past—a place in the galaxy where the streets were lined with coffee shops and happy intergalactic travellers taking rest breaks. After Sam was saved, they decided to come to our time for a visit, not only to our home, but to a place that readers of the works featuring R--- C---- may be familiar with. Me was seeking penance for her past misdeeds. Judging by the smile on her face as she squirmed in her seat, and the devious grin that appeared on Clara’s face as she watched Me squirm, Me had already served that penance.
“We’re in a relationship now,” Clara said.
“I didn’t want you to think of me as sad and lonely after I last left you,” Me added. “I found Clara. And I’m finally happy again.”
Clara and Me kissed when Strax walked into the conservatory. “These boys are kissing. Should I stop them?”
“No, Strax,” Madame Vastra said. “Fetch us some tea. We would like to spend the afternoon chatting with old friends.”
That’s what we did—we sat in the conservatory, chatting with old friends, telling tales of exploits in the past and in the future, and having a lovely evening.