Sara Locke listened to Reverend Gemma More Art preach a new religion, the Golden Dawn Star, to a standing room crowd at the Royal Albert Hall.
Sara, under her stage name Sherlock Handcuff Holmes, filled crowded rooms too. When she was escaping three padlocks while upside down underwater in a locked glass box.
This was merely her hobby. Debunking spiritualists preying on weary minded souls. The streets were full of them after the Great War to End all Wars.
Reverend Gemma raised her hands and pointed up to the gold star on the roof of her tent. She held up her hands and spoke of Omega love in the face of the asteroid that was coming to take believers up to Valhalla where they would be made new Olympians with Pele and Hiʻiaka. She spoke of the third eye the asteroid had opened up within her.
She had members of the audience stand up and she knew everything about them. This one's mother was an alcoholic. That one had just come home from a trip to Surrey.
Sara leaned down to John. "I can do that." She never pretended that her Alpha essence imbued her with anything other than the ability to rut, which was the most common ability in the world. One third of the population could do it. Observation however, that was a less common ability.
John agreed, "You do that once a night and twice on Sundays, with every other Sunday and Monday off." John kissed her cheek. Beta and calm. "You look like that kettle of mine you decided would be an excellent part of your act."
John would never let her live that down. Still, she leaned into the kiss. She needed John's hard won calm.
Reverend Gemma laid her hands on people from the crowd and healed the sick. It was amazing what a little morphine in the sacred tea of the Golden Dawn Star could do for an hour or so. If they fell ill again later, it was because they didn't believe strongly enough.
John squeezed her hand to hold back her explosion.
One show woman to another, Sara thought Reverend Gemma talked too much.
Reverend Gemma signalled and a small projector cast an image on the wall of life like dinosaurs grazing. The crowd gasped. Reverend Gemma waved her hand at the images. "This is the verdant land that I promise you."
Sara muttered, "If she showed the rest of the Lost World, they might not be so happy to go there."
Reverend Gemma clearly knew they were in the audience. Why else show footage from the movie based on one of John's ridiculously overwrought books.
Although, Sara had to admire the showmanship with which Reverend Gemma pulled a golden cloth off a silvery mirror in the centre of the stage. A golden star was affixed to the top. "And this is the portal to that land." She placed her hand upon a handprint and a glowing light formed within the mirror. It was, Sara was forced to admit, a very good effect. It was useless to speculate how it was being done without closer inspection.
"All you must do is sign away the possessions that you will no longer need and pass on into paradise." Reverend Gemma pressed her palms together. "Join us in paradise under the Golden Star."
Sara pushed her way to the front of the murmuring crowd. "I would like a chance to inspect this mechanism." Her first thought was trap door and cudgels, but there had been no trace of that at the hall in Liverpool.
"Oh, Mistress Sure Lock Unlocked, what an honour." Reverend Gemma bowed. "I'll require no entry fee from such an august entertainer." She turned to the audience. "Don't worry, we'll be right back in just a tick. Be sure to talk to the figures in the white robes and be precise as to the nature of your holdings. Paying for the psychic energy to open the portal is not cheap."
Sara nodded to John who was watching carefully for trapdoors. Sara stepped through the mirror and the hall in London was gone. In its place was a cauldron of molten fire.
"Neat trick, isn't it." Reverend Gemma gestured at Sara with a small Omega's revolver. "I found the mirror in some poor fool's attic in Hampstead Heath." She giggled, "Its actual magic. Only transports us around the planet I'm afraid, but I do find that dumping the bodies in an actual volcano is so convenient. Don't you think?" She straightened her aim. "Now be a dear and jump into the volcano. Mummy doesn't have all day."
Sara spread her hands and jumped.
Or rather, she appeared to jump, smoke bombs and flash paper were quite useful that way.
She grappled for the gun. There was a shot, but neither of them were hit. From somewhere behind them, something exploded in a gout of fire that formed a sort of waterfall of burning stone. Reverend Gemma might be used to volcanos, but Sara had spent fifteen years on the circuit. She was used to close explosions. She twisted the gun from Reverend Gemma's hand and tossed it into the caldera.
Reverend Gemma laughed. "You are the equal of your reputation. Not like these cattle that beg for the slaughter. Join me and we'll rule the world."
The air smelled of sulphur and noxious gases. Even so, Sara could smell the scent of an Omega. It was an allure that had never called to her. Sara whispered into that Omega's face. "I may not be an angel, but I am on the side of the angels."
Reverend Gemma laughed. "There are no angels. Only new gods. Don't be boring love."
Sara wished, as they struggled, that she had studied some physical training beyond what was required to get out of a straight-jacket. She almost lost her grip on the hillside, when with a stumble, Reverend Gemma fell into the fire falls with an echoing scream.
Coughing, Sara turned around, but there was no silver door. Whatever mechanism holding it open had closed with Reverend Gemma's death. "That is a bit not good."
She considered her situation. She walked away from the fiery cauldron down the side of the mountain into cleaner air. It was rough going on the black stone under the hot sun. She was near the equator.
Eventually she found her way to a small fishing village, where she questioned the residents.
"Hawaii!" That was half the planet away from London.
"Yes, Ma'am," said the smiling Beta. "I have to ask, my Rose went to San Francisco last year, and she has a framed picture on her wall. Are you Mistress Sherlock Handcuff Holmes, the Amazing Alpha of Escape?"
Sara sighed and signed some autographs. She wasn't able to send a telegraph until she reached San Francisco months later, and had been obliged to do daily card tricks to earn her way.
Still John was waiting in New York by the time the train pulled into Grand Central Station.
He kissed Sara right there in front of everyone, which was a delight. He said, "Don't ever do that again."
"I think," sighed Sara into John's neck and inhaled Beta calm, "I can promise that."
She really shouldn't have made that promise, but that's another tale.