Monday, April 8, 2013

The Shadow 24

Sarah held up the invisible shirt for Marissa to examine. “What do you think?”
It seemed so silly to even respond when there was nothing there, but as Sarah shook the garment Marissa could see a shimmer of blurry movement. She reached out and grasped the material.
“I worked on it while you were out with Simon,” Sarah added.
Marissa sighed inwardly. They had been on the Isle for three days now and Simon had managed to monopolize most of those days. That morning he had come calling with a request to take only Marissa for tea in the village. Sarah had eagerly agreed to stay behind, wanting to finish the invisible shirt and pants before the seventeenth.
Marissa took the shirt and put it on over her own. Her upper body immediately disappeared beneath a strange blur. “You can almost see it, can’t you?”
“I noticed that as I worked with the fabric. It’s almost like it reflects the surfaces around it. If you are paying close attention you can probably see the shirt move.” Sarah held her hand up. “I finished the trousers earlier. Try them on and turn invisible. I want to see something.”
Marissa moved behind the changing screen and removed her dress, corset and underclothes. She put the invisible pants on and slipped the shirt over her head and then focused on the Shadow persona. Checking the mirror she moved out from behind the screen and navigated the room.
“Can you see it at all?” she asked.
“Not really. There are a few places in the good light that you can tell something is there, but in the dark or dimly lit areas you will be completely invisible,” Sarah replied.
“This is much more comfortable than traipsing around in your skin,” Marissa said with a laugh.
She returned to the dressing screen and changed into her robe. She held the invisible suit out to Sarah. “Try it on. I want to see what it looks like on someone who can’t turn invisible.”
Sarah took the clothes and changed. Marissa watched when Sarah stepped out from behind the screen. She focused on the invisible parts and marked her movement around the room.
“If Jarvis’ man is still visible and uses a suit like this, then we should be able to see him. We just have to look for the blur. It’s almost as if you can see the skin tone beneath, but it blends with the walls and floor around you,” Marissa said, with satisfaction.
“And because you can turn invisible it isn’t nearly as pronounced.” 
“This is good. At least we know what to look for.” 
Sarah returned to the screen and changed back into her dress. She carefully draped the invisible clothes over the screen so they wouldn’t fall. “It’s strange how it doesn’t make inanimate objects disappear, but human flesh does.”
“It must have something to do with John’s potions. They react with the body. I heard Jarvis talking with another man and he mentioned having to use hair in the material to make it disappear,” Marissa said thoughtfully.
“I  just hope he thinks I’m dead, otherwise he will use the potion to turn invisible and the antidote to change back,” Sarah said worriedly.
“We will just have to stop him and his man before he can. I just wish I knew why he was doing this.”
“He was getting paid a great deal to develop the potion. I heard him and John discuss their financier. He sounds like someone not to trifle with.”
“We know Minister Cherington wasn’t financing this experiment, but he was the contact at the palace. Their new contact has apparently given them the date and time on the paper I found.”
A knock sounded on the door and Marissa jumped. “Come in,” she called in a slightly shaken voice.
“Ma’am, this just arrived,” the maid said, with a curtsy. She brought a fancy envelope over to them.
Marissa opened it and pulled out a formal invitation.
“What is it?” Sarah asked coming over.
“It’s an invitation to a celebration at Osborne House for Victoria’s birthday.” Marissa looked over at her mother. “It’s set for May 17th and we are to arrive by seven in the evening.”
“It can’t be a coincidence,” Sarah said slowly.
“I highly doubt it. I think the Shadow needs to do a little bit of investigating tonight. I need to know more about this celebration so we can put together a plan,” Marissa declared.
“Just be careful, Marissa. We don’t know if Jarvis’ man is here and what he might do if he finds you.”
“I know, but we can’t go into this blindly either.” She reached out and touched the invisible material. “I’ll leave after dark.”
Sarah nodded and left her alone to consider her plans for the coming evening. Marissa thought about everything that had happened. She was stupid to have drunk that wine, but in the end she had her mother restored to her. Though she had lost Sean in the process she couldn’t regret the choices she had made.
That night after dark she slipped into the darkness of the park around the house and made her way toward Osborne House. It was a long walk in the cool evening, but much more pleasant than the London streets. When she finally reached the borders of the house she removed her shoes and cloak. She was grateful for the layer of protection the invisible clothes offered. It was much preferred to walking around in just her skin.
She watched the uniformed soldiers as they patrolled the grounds and easily avoided them to inch closer and closer to the house. Luck was with her when one of the kitchen helpers left a door open. She slipped inside and went in search of the maids. House servants knew almost everything that happened in the halls of any establishment and Marissa figured the royal family was no different. She finally located a likely pair of maids and followed them up a set of stairs.
“We need to make sure everything is spotless for the celebration,” the older woman said firmly.
“Yes, ma’am,” the second replied.
“Guests will be arriving between six and seven so I want the staff in place by five thirty.”
“Yes, ma’am.”
“The Princesses and Princes will arrive three days prior. Make sure their usual rooms are prepared.”
“How late are we expecting the guests to stay. The Queen Mother will tire easily,” the young one asked.
“I expect them to stay until after midnight, but the Queen plans to retire around ten.”
“I’m still surprised she is inviting anyone. She’s been so ill lately.”
“It’s not our place to question her decisions.”
“It’ll be mighty fine to see the fashions on the ladies from London.”
The conversation drifted from fashions to cleaning and Marissa decided that was all the information she would get from the two women. Victoria planned to stay until ten and then retire. If the guests were still in house then it would prove easy for one of them to slip away, change into the invisible suit, and attack the Queen.
She continued following the maids, memorizing the layout of the house. After a half an hour she had a good idea of where everything was. She spent the last few minutes scanning the hallway where the royal suit was situated. There were two guards posted at each end of the hall, but they could easily be incapacitated by an invisible assailant. Marissa decided this would be the best location for her to watch for the man.
Satisfied, she headed for the kitchen door she had used to enter. The staff had finished most of their preparations for the evening and retired, but a few still remained completing end of the day tasks. Marissa waited until it was clear and slipped out the door. The walk back to her house was quiet and she spent the time pondering what she could do to stop the invisible man.
Determined to discuss it with Sarah she made her way to the kitchen door and slipped inside. As soon as she did she felt the hairs prick on her neck.
“I thought you might come here, my dear Shadow,” the dark voice said from the corner of the kitchen.

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