Amberville Arson

There was nothing Lucian Blossom hated more than writing slanderous stories about the Ambervilles. If given a choice, he much preferred uncovering the true story behind a situation. But when Today’s Weekly – the largest newspaper trust in the Madhad State of Great England – sets you on a task, you grit your teeth and do it!

A nasty rumour circulated about Milton Keynes. It claimed that Vivian Amberville – the adopted daughter of the prominent Darien and Aniya Amberville – had grown sour of her adoptive parents and decided to burn them, right there in their home, in the dead of night. Now Lucian didn’t know much about Vivian’s temperament, but surely murder and arson were no defaults of a teenage girl. There simply had to be more to this story.

One cold afternoon, Lucian made his way to the Amberville Manor – recorder in hand – determined to find out the truth behind the western wing fire. His contact at the Manor – a young lady by the name of Patricia Kate – had known Vivian Amberville since their time at the children shelter. He needed to take her statement and hear her side of the story.

‘Nice to see you again, Lucian. Come in, come in!’ said Patricia Kate at the gates of the Manor. Lucian automatically removed his fedora. Silver hair and sea-green eyes aside, there was something remarkably alluring about the young lady. ‘The sitting-room is ours for the day.’

Lucian was seated on a large sofa in a vast, lavish chamber that made no effort in hiding its luxuries. He pulled a simple e-pen and a transparent tablet from his business satchel and launched out his first question. Halfway into the interview, Lucian found it more and more difficult to concentrate. There was something about Kate’s presence that took the air out of the room. The fact that Kate was one of the most beautiful people he had ever laid eyes on didn’t help in the least.

Kate spoke candidly of Vivian Amberville – her best friend and benefactor – and seemed to owe quite a lot to the girl so wrongly accused of murder. Just when Lucian was about to establish Vivian’s unquestionable innocence, the Manor’s rear gardens caught flame, and at the center of the chaos was a skinny little girl with long black hair and eyes like black marble: Vivian Amberville in the flesh.

Lucian Blossom went home that afternoon, not knowing what to believe. He wanted to believe so much that Vivian didn’t set the fire that killed her adoptive parents, but on the other hand he couldn’t ignore what he had witnessed in the Amberville gardens. As far as he was concerned, Vivian’s pyromaniac tendencies were beyond question.

As a man of the truth, Lucian decided he was to report back to Today’s Weekly, come the morning, and let public opinion decide Vivian’s guilt or innocence. But story had it, he never came round to reporting anything. A strange call arrived that night through the Holophone, along with Kate’s ardent request to come to the Manor at once.

‘What do you mean, a hole in reality?’ he asked the semi-translucent floating head of Patricia Kate. ‘And Vivian fell through it?’

‘It sounds utterly mad – I know – but it IS what happened!’ said the holographic face of Kate. ‘She fell, Lucian. She fell off the face of existence!’

Lucian Blossom rushed to the Amberville Manor, unaware that he was about to embark on the most interesting journey of his life; a journey that would take him through numerous perils beyond the very fabric of reality, and eventually lead Lucian to his purpose.

- Louise Blackwick

Advent 2017