If Wishes Were Debutantes

Belle is tired after her meeting with Gentleman Jack. She’s always tired.

Exhausted by her responsibilities. By  refereeing the petty squabbles among her employees. By Jack’s independent, unauthorized VTR experiments in “real-world” settings. And now by Maribel.

She thinks back to her days at the Academy and remembers fun. She has distant memories of balls and debutante parties. Picnics and ice skating.

Running her own lab has its own rewards. Beyond the satisfaction of the theoretical work, Very Thin Rubber has great commercial potential. She is proud of her accomplishments and the life she’s built, all through her own efforts. But none of it is much fun.

Oh to be young again! Back when she and Maribel were rivals the first time. To follow her heart and be swept away by it all. Belle wants to do something to satisfy her school-girl self. Something ill-advised and out of character. She may just run away with the next smooth talking man who comes looking for her.



Secrets are not Safe

With her staff in shambles and her research nearly at a standstill, Belle explains the recent lack of progress to the only other person who knows what she’s been working on.

It’s never bothered Belle that Gentleman Jack is an unsavory character.   That he’s also unscrupulous has never been Jack’s most attractive quality, but it may be just what she needs to help deal with Maribel.

"What does she know?" he asks her when they meet.

"Only enough to want to know more.  She’s been asking about the VTR project."


"We’ll have to do something. It would be a disaster if she found our data on Very Thin Rubber. Speaking of, when will we have new results?"

"Soon. They were starting the latest tests when I left the Lab. I’ve been told they will take no more than 4 hours to complete."

After years of pulling Jack out of one unsavory fix after another, Belle feels she’s entirely reasonable for expecting some sympathy over Maribel’s machinations. But as always, Jack has his eye fixed on the big score—at least until the next pretty girl comes by.


In Which Gossip and Dissent are Sown

Maribel quickly installs herself in Belle’s home and business.  Immediately setting to charm both the clients and the employees.  Wherever Belle looks she sees Maribel talking to someone.  Peals of laughter ring from everyone around Maribel.  Belle can’t get close enough to hear what what is being whispered behind the fan, but she recognizes the tone and the too-well-remembered look of glee when Maribel gossips.  


Rumors and whispers are nothing new at Madame Belle’s. Contrary to popular belief information is the business’ real stock and trade. But this isn’t business. These stories are personal, and as they are retold tension builds among the staff.  The air of relaxed hospitality that Madame Belle is famous for grows frustrated, even oppressive. 



Even worse the discord in the House has started to extend itself to the Lab too. Research and productivity come to a near stop.



Introducing Maribel Ruiz

Maribel Ruiz – one time debutante and finishing school mate of Belle’s.  Maribel isn’t her name – not that it matters. Once you’ve lied, cheated, stolen, fought and essentially terrorized an entire student body of gently reared young ladies with your ever so genteel smiles and acidic gossip, the world is your oyster.  

After years of preying on the unwary at school, Maribel left under a cloud of rumor and speculation.  The limping prefect and hastily cleaned blood in the lower form’s bathroom  only fueled the flames of speculation…until the spring term when Penny Dimwimple caught the pox from a passing Carnival roustabout thus unseating Maribel from the collective student memory. 

Fame is so fleeting…


Blackmail is an Ugly Word

"Cut the crap, ‘Maribel!’ You may have fooled everyone else at school.  But I’ve always known you were the meanest, two-faced, vitriolic harpy in the place. Your name may have changed but I’m sure that hasn’t."


“Neither of us is the girl we were back at Miss Felicity’s Faux Finishing Academy. Our classmates would be shocked to learn that a woman of your background would be here. Running this sort of business.  Imagine if they found out.  Imagine if EVERYONE found out.”

"I need a place to stay. Someplace nice. Your place will do just fine."


Blackmail is such an ugly word.

Ugly but appropriate.


And effective.


Penny Dreadful: Absinthe Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

Belle Breeze is enjoying the relative calm that follows the stabilization and normalization of the temporal and dimensional disturbances in Aerodrome.  She is “at home” receiving guests in her parlor, unsuspecting that an entirely different type of instability is looming.  It’s not a time-flux creating this new crisis.  It’s her own past come to call on her.

Maribel.  The name on the card doesn’t mean anything to her.  She’s never known anyone by that name.  But as her guest is shown into the room Belle guesses that this woman hasn’t been calling herself that for long.

“This *is* a surprise!” Belle forces a smile as she connects the new name with a familiar face.


The woman steps close and air-kisses Belle’s cheeks.  “When I learned that this lauded establishment was run by my old school friend, Belle Breeze — well, I just had to come see it with my own eyes!”

"Then, I take it you’re just visiting the Aerodrome?  It’s really too bad you can’t stay.  It’s lovely seeing you after so long.  Let me walk you out!"

“Well,” came the heavy, sobbing reply, “actually I don’t have anywhere to go.  I’m… recently widowed, and things have been going horribly since.  I’m afraid I have no money or place to stay.  In truth I came looking for—employment.”



A Short Thank You to Our Readers

Ah, gentle readers, if you attended the Circle City Aerodrome Grand Masquerade Ball you witnessed the culmination of our Penny Dreadful created for your entertainment.  Thank you so much for your attendance & many kind words!


If you missed our Ball, fear not!  We shall continue to chronicle doings at the Aerodrome after a short holiday to revitalize ourselves.  Meanwhile, please peruse the many fine photographs of the event shared on our Facebook page:



Mirrors, Manners and Mercantile Speculation


Eveline comes crashing through Widow Millport’s mirror. As she pulls herself up she sees Gentleman Jack and several strangers.  One of the women is becoming hysterical.

What are you all doing in my foyer!?” screams Rosemary in frustration.  ”I’m not even 'at home' this morning.  Have you no consideration, no thought … no MANNERS?

The woman looks directly at Eveline she takes a deep breath and states loudly and slowly, “You. Need. To. Go. Home. NOW!”

"Why are you talking like that?" asks Eveline while Jack groans and Belle rolls her eyes.

"Because people don’t just pop through mirrors into my house. It is RUDE!"


"You have no one but, em yourself to blame," says Dr Dane. "Those spectacles of yours created… the connection to her, um, well where-ever she came from."

"Eveline’s crystal may have contributed to the vortex too," Jack says, "But it seems to have overloaded it. It’s not giving off any energy now."

"Be that as it may, You need to go back. Now!" the Widow points an accusing finger at Eveline.

"I don’t think it’s safe to send her back. Not through this Portal."

"Noooo!" wails Eveline in horror.  "How will I get home?"

"Not to worry, we can find a way to return you," soothes Dane, "What were your dimensional coordinates?"

"My what?" quavers Eveline. 

"Rosemary dear -we have loads to talk about it seems.  Be a pet and let’s all go sit down." Belle says with a smile you could cut glass with.

The Widow Millport leads the group to the back of the house and into the kitchen. There is no telling what filthy place these new arrivals had come from, it certainly wouldn’t do to receive them in the salon.


"Soooo … it appears that unknown to me, my crystal spectacles are causing some sort of dimensoinal…"

"Oh cut the crap Rosemary!  You knew the effect the spectacles were having! ” interrupts Belle.  

"I didn’t know for a fact that the spectacles were causing the fluctuations!" moans Rosemary, "I accidently discovered that if I used them to look into large mirrors I could glimpse activities in other ports.  It’s fascinating to watch actually…."

Dr Dane picks up the spectacles gingerly.  ”You must NOT use these in any mirrors Rosemary.  In fact, I should lock them in the lab.”

"NO!  I need these for the Ball tonight” inists Rosemary. “I give my word not to use them other than for my own vision.  No mirrors. I promise!”

"Erm…. well if you give your word" agrees Dane, his words measured while thinking of the influence that Widow Millport has on the Board and its funding.

"Hmmmm…" mutters Jack as he leans back and considers the spectacles on the table.

"Hrumph! Snorts Belle - "Anyone taking bets on how far to trust her?"

The Widow doesn’t dignify the insult with comment but turns to Eveline, “Now you, young miss, you can’t stay here.  I don’t have any work for you.”

Eveline, in shock “I don’t work.”

Widow, frustrated, “But… but… this is outrageous! I must prepare the Silent Auction and for the Ball!”

Eveline brightens, “Oh, I DO go to balls.”

"Honey, come with me" sighs Belle. "My girls can find you something to wear, and I guarantee you a night you’ll never forget!"


The Return of the Prodigal - Jack’s Back

The mirror in the Widow Millport’s foyer begins to ripple.  Rosemary pulls her spectacles away from the interference, but the ripples grow and begin to swirl.  A voice, nearby but unseen, shouts.

"Watch out!"


The warning is too late. Jack crashes through the rippling mirror surface into Rosemary’s arms.

"You?!" snarls Rosemary as she disentangles herself from Jack.  "What are you doing in my foyer mirror!?"

"Fascinating… " murmers our good doctor as he steps back a pace.

"How dare you!" Rosemary demands, regaining her composure.


"Really Jack, you have simply stunning timing" chortles Belle.

"This isn’t my doing," Jack says. "I was showing Eveline her mirror and testing to see what effect her ring has on it.  Then suddenly the energy level spiked and it pulled me through."

The rippling mirror flashes again.



This foyer is very crowded.


Some Answers are Really Questions


Belle starts walking, setting a cracking pace. Dr Dane follows reluctantly after her.  He would prefer to remain in his laboratory conducting further tests, but Belle has given him no choice.  

They arrive at the Widow Millport’s house and knock on the front door.  Marsters, the Widow’s faithful butler, shows them into the red salon where they wait for the Widow to join them.

"To what do I owe this extremely early visit Madame and Doctor?  Why, it isn’t even 11 yet!"  states Rosemary upon entering. "No one is "at home" until after 11!"


"Cut it Rosemary!" snaps Belle. "I’ve one nerve left and Hal here has strained it."


"Now Belle," interjects Dane - "please let me explain Widow…a-hem.  Yes…"

"What Hal is trying to say " interrupts Belle in frustration "Is that we know about the effects of your crystal spectacles.  The Port stability issues as well as the dimensional flux they cause in mirrors."

"Why that’s absurd!  These are merely an aid I use due to the severe eye strain my business causes me" replies Rosemary.   

"Now Rosemary", counters Dane "I observed unusual amounts of dimensional energy from these same spectacles just yesterday at the Aerodrome transport hub."

"Ridiculous!" sniffs the Widow  "Why just seconds later the port alarms were going off. How dare you insinuate that my spectacles were the cause. I think your compass was simply picking up the Aerodrome port instabilities.”

"Why look -do you see anything special about these spectacles?  Here’s a mirror even!”


Belle is baffled for the moment and Dane certainly does NOT want to further intrude and anger one of the most wealthy Aerodrome board members.

"Well… yeeesss.  I am not picking up any dimensional flux energy at the moment" admits Dane with some embarrassment. "Perhaps this needs further testing…" he mutters as he stares into space considering the theoretical implications.

"Now, feel free to contact my office any afternoon of the next week. I simply don’t have a minute free today with the Aerodrome Ball this weekend" purrs Rosemary smugly as she leads them to the foyer.


Rosemary can’t resist one last dig as Belle and Dane prepare to leave - “and really, would I knowingly put the Aerodrome at risk?  Why look - nothing to see here!” as she holds the spectacles up to the foyer mirror.

"Er —Widow!!" stammers Dane…..

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