Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte
Miss Charlotte sits behind her desk, the wood covered in tiny tally marks gouged into the paint. Everything is clinical, white. The only personal item is a mug featuring a cartoon devil and the legend: I’d Tell You To Go To Hell But I Work There. It is pristine, but gathering dust. She hands over the registration forms, something shifting behind her eyes, as if something not quite belonging to this body is using them to peer out at the world. From the expression on her face, she doesn’t like what she sees.
Dr Monday and Miss Charlotte first arrived in Pagham-on-Sea c.1818.
They met in London, where Miss Charlotte was a strict law-abiding governess by day and a criminal mastermind by night. After formulating a dastardly plan to use the orphans and street urchins of the city to create an elixir of eternal youth, Miss Charlotte’s dangerous experimentation on herself led to her becoming rather more than human.
Mary Doherty, a workhouse orphan with banshee in her bones, escaped Miss Charlotte’s ‘death coach’ and sought out a demonic legend: the Man of a Thousand Faces, known to appear to the destitute and oppressed, and heal them in return for a face to hide behind.
Dr Monday, the dapper, kindly (but human-skin-mask wearing) physician, became drawn into a cat-and-mouse game with Miss Charlotte in a bid to protect the street urchins he helped. After a thrilling battle of wits with his brilliant adversary who could be in more than two places at once, involving a gang of bodysnatchers, a reclusive alchemist and a worrying amount of Mad Science, Dr Monday managed to bind Miss Charlotte and make her his prisoner for a thousand years.
He has been attempting to rehabilitate her ever since.
Trapped in her present form and, despite her lofty aspirations, now no more than a doctor’s receptionist, Miss Charlotte counts down the days until her release when Dr Monday has no power over her anymore.
96,996 down, 268,244 to go.