by SP Howe
An audition piece for the CLASH! Original Character Tournament.
Name: Victor MacLaren
Victor MacLaren is an engineer from Edinburgh, who moved to London in order to pursue development in sonic technology. He is the exact opposite of physically imposing, but fiendishly clever to compensate. His vices include alcohol on a good day, and opium on a bad one. He suffers from mild insomnia, which perpetuates his substance abuse problems. He is believed by many in the scientific community to be insane, and his Scottish heritage makes him an inherent outcast, however he has made a bit of a name for himself among the English aristocracy.
The unkempt man stood on his corner, with his usual drink of choice. The lamps dim, the moon and sun low; the quiet of the slumbering city calmed his feverish mind as the ale warms his gaunt body. The brick and fire coalesced with the darkness into, only to be interrupted by the glare of crimson.
She ran through the darkened streets, her body glistening in the low light. With a whoosh, the motion of her sprint rustles the man's messy brown hair as if to announce her presence. Without delay, a spiteful looking man in regal dress made his subsequent appearance, piquing the unkempt man's interest.
You see, despite his appearance, the man was somewhat familiar with the aristocracy, though far from a member. To him, two of the upper-class in the streets of the common could only mean the unseemly, and that had his curiosity running wild.
The options were to be weighed in his mind. Caution dictated the man not involve himself, but his inquisitive nature was steadily becoming overpowering. He reached into his pockets to find two small copper disks attached to one another in each. He figured he might as well take a look.
He walks down the sleepy streets, lit only by the occasional gas lamp, along the path of the woman in red and her frenetic pursuer. The tap of shoe against brick echoed down the street, contested only by the crescendoing sounds of sobbing. The unkempt man followed the sobs, ready for whatever he may find once he reaches their source.
He arrives at an intersection in front of a small, run down pub.It was a pub he quite liked, despite, or perhaps because of, it's somewhat unruly reputation. There in the dim lamplight, lay the woman in the red dress with a bloody nose and tears streaming down her face, her pursuer standing above her.
"Now, that's why you don't run", he smugly declared. "Does it hurt?"
The sobbing continued.
"And look, you've got your blood on my shoes. I wonder, does whore's blood wash off easier.
It was at this point where the unkempt man drew his attention.
"Well now, who have we here."
The unkempt man ended his walk, and simply stood. He knew his manner of speech often attracted ire among men of his counterpart's ilk.
"I'm sorry, I couldn't quite hear you; could you speak up?"
The unkempt man reached into his pockets.
"I'm afraid this matter doesn't concern the likes of you." The man pulled out an ornate pistol. "In fact, I find your presence rather bothering."
The bottom of the man's shoe collided with the woman's face yet again
The unkempt man's better judgement lost this time.
"Well, when ya start beating a lady in the street, it concerns me a little bit."
The regally dressed man smiled shamelessly
"I should have known a man with such distinctive lack of courtesy must be a Scotsman." he stated, "You should mind your own paltry affairs. Besides, this pitiful creature here is far from a 'lady.' Now, I will not warn you again; back off." He cocked his pistol.
The unkempt man fiddled with his right pocket, grasping the two-disk contraption. He slid the disk facing outwards from his leg downwards.
"I don't take too kindly to threats." He replied.
The regal man let out a pompous chuckle.
"And what exactly is it you plan on doing?"
The unkempt man slowly began walking towards his counterpart, an unnerving look striking his sharp, blue eyes. In that moment, the regal man's superior facade slowly gave way to a more nervous state. The unkempt man began to fiddle with the contraption in his left pocket, doing the same as he did with the right. Suddenly, with a minuscule yet furious thunder, the glass of the lamps crumbled, falling to the street like hail.
It was at this moment the regal man truly saw the devil in him. Without a word, he put his pistol back in its holster, and began to bolt as the stranger continued his approach. In his haste, a small piece of paper slipped from his jacket to lay along the glass adorn streets.
The woman in red stared in horror as this stranger began walking to her unimpeded. It was as she noticed him fiddling with his pockets, that her anxiety began to lessen.
"Are you alright M'am?"
Despite her condition, she managed a reply.
"I've been better."
"I don't doubt that."
The man walked over to help her onto her feet.
"Thank you Mr..."
"Well Mr MacLaren, that was awfully kind of you."
Victor MacLaren walked over to the now abandoned piece of paper.
"My name's Eliza by the way."
"Well Eliza, might I ask what that little scuffle was all about?" He inquired.
"That arrogant son of a bitch chasing me is named James Pritchett. He's young, cocky, and most importantly, wealthy. Fits the description of my usual clientele."
"You're line of work being?"
"Well you heard him didn't you."
"I figured he was being rhetorical"
"Well, I heard through some of my other clients that he was soon to be married; figured I'd use that information to make some money on the side. You saw how that turned out."
"Aye; you need to work on your blackmail."
The two stood silently for a moment
"If you don't mind me asking, how did you shatter the glass?" She asked.
"It wasn't witchcraft if that's what ya wondering."
"Well, I considered it a possibility."
Victor reached into his left pocket and pulled out the two-disk contraption.
"This here is an ultrasonic emitter."
Eliza stood there, puzzled.
"And that means..."
Victor waved the little contraption around as he explained, "This little device sends out a sound. This sound is so high pitched we can't hear it, but it's enough to rumble the glass ta bits. Not much more useful than that I'm afraid."
"Well, it got Mr Pritchett to fill his pants."
"To be fair, he doesn't strike me as much of a genius."
With the flick of a wrist, Victor launched the device to Eliza.
"You might wanna keep this just in case."
Surprised, Eliza replied "Are you sure you want to give me this?"
"I've got more than plenty at home. Now if I were you, I'd run along. Streets aren't safe for a well dressed lady."
"I'm not that ladylike I'm afraid."
Eliza began her walk through the darkened streets, as Victor let out a charmed chuckle. Within seconds, she had vanished as suddenly as she appeared.
Victor began to read the slip of paper. It was a little cutout from the Times; a letter from Dr. Peabody Plumpocket. Victor was familiar with the name as he'd studied some of his clockwork designs, but he'd never met the man personally. The gist of the letter was simple; Dr Plumpocket's clockwork security had gone haywire, and he needed someone to help him shut it down. The reward was unspecified, but Victor figured this would be his best opportunity to secure funding for his designs.
The morning came, and with it the aftermath of a night spent drinking. As his head started ringing, one thought went through his mind; "It's time to get work."