Adventurer Raymond Swift stars in......

Trail of the HMS Fortuna

A Far-Flung Epic in 8 Chapters!

by Andrea Tran
About the author

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Previously: Adventurer Raymond Swift is called in by the Ministry and told the scant known details about the vanished airship, HMS Fortuna, and how everyone who could be consulted about the mysterious Project Meridian has either mysteriously killed themselves...or gone mad! Meanwhile...

Episode 3: The Daughter and the Dastard


  ANNABELLE KRAMER WAS STILL UPSET. The hot bath had not helped in dispelling the anger towards her father. She was sitting on her bed, her bathrobe wrapped around her slim body, the long fair hair still wet.

It had been a long day at the Archaeological Society, with all the recently acquired artifacts to record and classify. And for the past week she had kept thinking of the last encounter with her father, of the rushed farewell he had come to announce, out of the blue. Of course, being her father, no details of his destination nor for long he would be away could be obtained, no matter how much she had insisted. She turned to the framed picture on the bedside cabinet. There he was, the brilliant Professor Kramer, his arm on the shoulder of his only living family member, Annabelle.

She sighed, a line of worry marking her attractive face. This sudden journey was most unusual. For years her father had refused even to leave on holiday, locked in his laboratory for his secretive research. She had learned to live with the aura of mystery surrounding his studies, she had learned not to ask questions. But this departure was too much. Tomorrow she would go to the laboratory and confront his two assistants. She had to know the whereabouts of her father. He was not a youngster anymore, and might need her help.

She stood up, crossed the room to the window, then pulled the curtains closed. It was getting late, the night outside dimmed by a thin mist.

Suddenly the lights of the house went out, leaving her in darkness. She halted, sensing something was wrong. She instinctively hugged herself in the white bathrobe. Her body was silhouetted against the faint light coming from the window. She waited there motionless for a moment. ‘It’s just a power cut, don’t be silly’, she eventually thought. She was just imagining things. Annabelle waited for her eyes to get used to the darkness, then made her way slowly towards the living room, where she could find a torchlight.

She stepped out of the bedroom. She barely had the time to register an open window, white curtains moving like ghosts in the dark, when suddenly strong hands seized her by the arms! She tried to yell, but her scream was muffled by another hand, pressing violently against her mouth! She was forced down in a chair, her desperate attempts to free herself useless against the brute force of her assailants, their ruthless hands bruising her delicate white skin.

~~~

‘Come, now, my friends. Have you not got any manners?’ a deep voice seemed to materialize from nowhere. Annabelle was startled. Then she realized the dark shape of a man was sitting in an armchair in front of her!

The voice was eerily soothing, well educated, with a slight foreign accent difficult to place. ‘Forgive the brutality of my colleagues, Miss Kramer. They don’t know how to treat an exquisite Lady such as you.’ She caught a quick motion of the man’s arm, the sound of fingers snapping. At the signal, the fierce grip on her arms was released, the hand on her mouth removed.

Annabelle jumped out of the chair, started to scream, when a strange light suddenly appeared in the darkness in front of her, just where the mysterious man was sitting. The scream died in her throat, she was instantly paralyzed. It was a small circular white light, with a strange, black, spiral-like pattern inside. Her eyes were magnetically drawn to it. She could not look anywhere else. Despite the dangerous situation, she no longer felt frightened. She slowly sat back into the chair, her movements dream-like.

‘See? ‘ the voice continued, softly. ‘we mean you no harm, Miss Kramer. I just want to... indulge in polite conversation.’ The voice sighed. ‘It is so rare, nowadays, to find such educated, charming company, my dear. Conversation is a dying art.’ The light seemed to pulsate, changing intensity. A slow, warm pulse. Annabelle was fascinated by it. The black spiral was beautiful to look at, it almost seemed to invite her into its enveloping curves...

The telephone rang loudly in the quiet room.

Annabelle blinked in surprise. The man with the light stood up. He stepped closer, the light getting bigger. Her eyes glimpsed around the dark room in confusion, then could not help being drawn back to the light.

‘I told you to cut that phone line, Hugo!’ the man snapped sharply, a new, malevolent tone replacing the soothing voice. One of the figures beside her chair rushed to the phone, the nasty sound of a switchblade was heard, then the loud ringing ceased.

‘My humble apologies for the interruption.’ The soothing tone again. Now he was close to her, he could have touched her if he only wanted to. ‘Now my dear, tell me about your father...’


On to Episode 4

Back to Episode 2 : The Vanished Secret


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On the Trail of the HMS Fortuna is copyright by Andrea Tran. It may not be copied without permission of the author except for purposes of reviews. (Though you can print it out to read it, natch.)