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By Sarah Hapgood

Brother Iggy’s gruesome demise caused immeasurable shock to the Indigo-ites. But it wasn’t just the nature of his death which proved upsetting in the extreme, but the fact that the authorities in Magnolia Cove refused to treat it as a murder inquiry. So backward in being forthcoming were they that Julian made the grim quip that he wouldn’t have been surprised if they had tried to pass it off as suicide!

The only good that came out of the non-investigation was that the authorities were only too keen to release the body for burial. Kieran took custody of it, and said he would bury Brother Iggy in the forest near Hegley’s home.

“I’ll give him a real Catholic funeral with all the trimmings”, Kieran told the other Indigo-ites “It might help to give him the peace he was looking for in life”.

Bardin took the death worse than anyone. He felt guilty for not being able to care about Brother Iggy as much as the little monk had wanted. He felt guilty for moving him to the bedsit, even though it had been what Brother Iggy had wanted. And he felt guilty for not having gone to see him since the move, it was always one of those things he would do “later”.

“This won’t do, young fellow”, said Julian, finding Bardin upstairs in Indigo Towers one afternoon, the day before Brother Iggy’s funeral. He sat down on the mattress next to him and patted his leg. “You can’t force yourself to love someone”, he added “You’re going through what I’d probably go through if anything happened to Piers. It’s guilt, pure and simple, but it’s irrational guilt. No person who can possibly call themselves human can blame you for what happened”.

“Who did it though?” sniffed a tearful Bardin “It wasn’t Crowley was it?”

“No”, said Julian “Crowley is a lot of things, but he’s not a cold-bloodied murderer. Kieran thinks it’s a bit too neat for Angel. He would have ripped our friend to pieces, not surgically cut out his heart. Whoever did that did it clinically, not consumed with animal blood-lust”.

“What’s your theory then?” said Bardin.

“There’s something rotten at the root of this town”, said Julian “It bares possible comparison with the evil that had penetrated Lixix, but this is even worse in some ways. I think it goes deeper”.

“Look at the way the authorities weren’t interested in the case”, said Bardin.

“If Brother Iggy’s landlady hadn’t come and told us exactly what she’d found”, said Julian “I doubt we’d have been told at all. They would have said he’d disappeared of his own accord. It happened in my time, and it happens in this”.

“Oh God, this is all so dangerous”, said Bardin “What chance do we have against all of them?”

“Every chance”, said Julian “We’re held together by more powerful components than they are. Come downstairs before Bengo has a nervous breakdown”.

Bengo was waiting at the bottom of the stairs, talking to Tamaz. When Julian and Bardin appeared at the top, Tamaz yodelled and pointed up at Bardin.

“Thanks, Tamaz”, Bardin growled “Just when I DIDN’T want to make a grand entrance!”

Tamaz led the way into the library, where Bardin quailed at the sight of a coffin which had been planted in the middle of the room.

“He’s been delivered”, said Tamaz.

Kieran decided to spend the night in a vigil by Brother Iggy’s coffin, and Joby joined him. Both of them sat on the sofa, wrapped in blankets and drinking copious amounts of wine, to keep out the early autumn night-time chill, plus the unease generated by sitting near a corpse, even if it was hidden from view in a box.

“We’re gonna have to see Crowley again at some point”,s aid Kieran “We still haven’t got round to asking him about what the farcical escapade at his house in the mountains was all about. But the real answer lies in that other damn house, the one Piers disappeared into. We have to get into it too. Whoever is in there is controlling what’s going on in this town. If the house is built on rolling parkland there must be some way to get in, a gap in the boundaries somewhere”.

“I wouldn’t bank on it”, said Joby “Anyone who goes to all the trouble of keeping guard-dogs and nightwatchmen ent exactly gonna be very lax in security! And you’re pretty conspicuous. Everyone recognises you. It’s not even as if you could disguise yourself as the milkman and call at the front gate!”

“We haven’t cased the joint from any other angles yet”, said Kieran “I’ve been looking at those maps Bardin got of the area. It’s public woodland on all sides of the grounds, and there’s nothing to stop us going for a walk in the woods now is there?”

“Can’t say I’m too thrilled at the thought of it”, said Joby “But I’d also like to hammer the bastard who did that to Brother Iggy”.

The door creaked open and Adam came in, carrying a torch.

“It’s getting quite blustery out there”, he said.

“We can hear it”, said Joby “The amount of creaking and rustling this house makes! I keep thinking it’s Brother Iggy trying to get out of his coffin!”

“What time is it now?” said Kieran.

“Ten-past three”, said Adam, putting down his torch and helping himself to some of the wine.

“Oh God”, Joby groaned “Still another 3 hours til daylight!”

“How’s Lonts?” said Kieran.

“Asleep now”, said Adam “He’s taking it very hard, but he’s determined to be dignified for the funeral tomorrow, or rather today I should say”.

“Are you alright?” said Joby “You look a bit upset yourself”.

“Jules and I had a fight earlier”, said Adam “He struck me in the face, he has never done that before, ever”.

“I hope you hit him back!” said Joby.

“Too shocked I’m afraid”, said Adam “He did apologise. It’s all getting to him like it is to all of us”.

“The wake tomorrow should help”, said Kieran “We all feel a terrible guilt, it’s crushing at times”.

“And yet it’s nonsense really isn’t it?” said Adam “The person who is really to blame is the one who did that terrible thing. Also we don’t have any idea what led up to it. His landlady thinks he must have known his killer”.

“There was no sign of a forced entry in his digs”, said Joby.

“Quite”, said Adam “Which implies he let whoever it was in”.

“God, what was that tapping sound?” said Joby “It wasn’t him trying to get out was it?!”

“There’s someone in the hall”, said Kieran.

“Kieran!” Joby exclaimed “Cut it out will you!”

“No, straight up”, said Kieran “There’s someone in the hall”.

It was Josh, looking even more ragged and unsavoury than ever.

“You’ve gotta let me doss down here for the night”, he pleaded “Anyone with an ounce of human kindness in ‘em would let me stay”.

“Yeah, but you’re staying over here”, said Joby “We’re not letting you on the sloop. We’d lose everything we’ve got”.

“From what I’ve heard that ent much these days”, Josh sneered.

“Well what we have got left we wanna hang onto!” Joby retorted.

“You can’t make me sleep in here with THAT!” said Josh, pointing at the coffin “Who is it anyway?”

“Brother Iggy”, said Adam “Surely you’ve heard? There must be gossip in the town about it”.

“Haven’t been in town”, said Josh, making himself at home in an armchair “I got a job as a potman at the ‘Night Jar’, that’s this really weird bar out of town, up the coast a bit”.

“So why aren’t you there now?” said Adam.

“What’s the betting he lost his job?” said Joby “Had his hands in the till no doubt”.

From the expression on Josh’s face it was clear Joby had hit upon the truth.

“So what happened to him then?” said Josh, of Brother Iggy.

“He was murdered”, said Adam “In a particularly sadistic, revolting way”.

“No shit?” said Josh.

“No shit”, said Adam.

“And you’re gonna make me stay in here with his body?” said Josh.

“Be grateful you’ve got shelter for the night”, said Adam “If you weren’t you’d be sleeping in a ditch I expect”.

“Best place for him if you ask me!” Joby muttered.

The funeral procession set off early that day, with Brother Iggy’s coffin placed on the hay-cart, driven by Hillyard, and everyone (including Josh, whom it was felt it wasn’t safe to leave at home on his own) followed on behind, making their way solemnly across the fields.

Hegley had marked out a grave for the little monk in the forest near his house, and he was buried in as much majesty as they could muster. Bengo remembered Brother Iggy’s coming over to Midnight Castle to get clowning lessons. He collapsed into floods of tears, and Bardin had to take him into Hegley’s kitchen to calm him down.

“Just remember this”, said Bardin, mopping his friend’s face with a handkerchief “Whoever did that to him will suffer for it. We are going to fight this evil”.

“I hope I’ll be a help to you, Bardy”, Bengo sniffed.

“Of course you will”, said Bardin.

“It’s so sad thinking of those days”, said Bengo “The Castle …”

“Bengo, you have to face the fact that we may never see Midnight Castle again”, said Bardin “Those days are gone. The evil bastards have seen to that”.

“Not for a long time now perhaps”, said Bengo “But who’s to say what things’ll be like in the distant future? I think we will see the Bay again. I feel it in my bones”.

Many voices drew nearer outside, as the others approached the house. Hegley’s renowned cider punch was mentioned, and the wake for Brother Iggy began.

Things took on a lighter note the following day when Bardin was asked by the local t.v company to take part in a quiz, which was to be televised from the town hall one evening. The Indigo-ites had abandoned any pretence of keeping a low-profile after Brother Iggy’s murder, and urged Bardin to accept the offer, taking a secret delight at the idea of Bardin the proud theatrical clown appearing on the despised television.

Bardin accepted and was a sensation. He had gone out with the other clowns prior to transmission and got completely pissed. In the studio he lavishly insulted everyone on-air, except the production crew, as his long experience in showbusiness had trained him to always keep them on-side, but it was open season on everyone else.

The audience loved it. These quiz programmes had long since had a reputation for being banal and predictable, and Bardin’s drunken anarchy was a welcome change. From a highly safe format to no one knowing what was going to happen next was a delicious transformation.

At home Adam watched it on their clockwork television set and sighed in exasperation all the way through it, Lonts hooted with laughter, and Joby said he wished all light entertainment shows could be that good.

After the show Bardin graciously granted an audience in the improvised green room with some local reporters.

“Will you be appearing on the show n in the near future?” one asked Bengo, who was also present.

“Oh no”, said Bengo “I’m too busy at home for all that”.

Bardin shot him a look of annoyance, as it implied that he, as Captain, had nothing better to do with his time than to appear on t.v quiz shows! He got up to leave.

“Just one more thing, Mr Bardin”, said a reporter “How do you manage to look so young? Have you had plastic surgery?”

“Do I look as though I’ve had bloody plastic surgery?!” Bardin exclaimed, pointing at his harelip.

“I’m really jealous you know?” said Farnol, as the four clowns staggered home along the old towpath “I’m supposed to be the star around here these days!”

“I think Bengo should go on as well”, said Rumble.

“No I couldn’t!” Bengo quailed at the thought “What if they asked me a question?!”

“They’re not likely to do that!” said Bardin.

“Then what would be the point of me being on it?” said Bengo “Just to act as your stooge I suppose? Well I won’t. I have my professional pride. People will think all I’m capable of these days is being shouted at by you! Anyway I’m a physical comedian. I’m useless with lines, and I can’t ad-lib like you can”.

“You’re doing yourself down”, said Rumble “You play off each other well. When Bardin chucks you a line you’re good at catching it”.

“And at least you wouldn’t have any fears about seeing yourself in the camera”, said Bardin “I caught sight of myself at one point and I couldn’t believe how ugly I looked! I wouldn’t be surprised if the viewers complained!”

On the contrary he was a big hit. The local newspaper a couple of days later published a rare good review, supported by quotes from the public, about how Bardin had single-handedly breathed life into a tired old format. The only slightly negative note was from a woman who said she had found Bardin the scariest panellist she had ever seen on the show.

“She wants to see him at home sometimes!” said Bengo, who was mixing up batter for Yorkshire pudding in the galley.

“Well the rest of us enjoyed it”, said Joby “Apart from Adam that is”.

“I was just dismayed he had to be quite so rude”, said Adam “People will think we’ve brought him up to have no manners!”

“You’ve gotta admit it’s funny though ent it?” said Joby “I mean, Bardin’s always been such a snob about television, so he goes on there thinking he can cause anarchy and wreck it, and it gets its own back by turning him into an overnight success!”

“Overnight success?” Bardin spat, thumping down the galley steps “I’ve been in showbusiness since I was 7, some overnight success! And I’ve got a bone to pick with you, Joby, what’s your brother still doing here?”

“I dunno”, Joby shrugged “I haven’t spoken to him since the funeral. You’re Captain, it’s up to you to ask him to leave if you want him to”.

“That’s nice, that’ll give you some work to do, Bardy!” said Bengo.

Bardin shot him a filthy look and continued at Joby.

“I have spoken to him”, said Bardin “He was bloody fucking rude. He said he’s your guest, so only you have the right to ask him to leave!”

“So what is it you want me to do then?” Joby sighed, throwing a spoon on the table.

“I would have thought that was obvious!” Bardin squawked “Ask him to leave!”

“You’d better do as he requests, Joby”, said Adam.

“It aint fucking fair”, said Joby, stamping over to the stairs “I didn’t ask him here did I!”

“You’re gonna have to go, mate”, said Joby, when he found Josh sitting on a rickety bench outside Indigo Towers, swigging from a bottle of beer “You shouldn’t have upset Bardin like that. You’ve made an enemy of him and he has the final say round here”.

“Then I’ll stay out of his way”, said Josh “I won’t set foot on the boat. I’ll stay in this place. You can’t stop me from doing that anyway. It’s not as if you own this old ruin. No one does. Anybody can live in it if they want to”.

“What do you wanna stay here for though?” said Joby “Apart from to annoy me that is!”

“You’ve got one bad ego problem you have”, said Josh “Must be everyone kowtowing to you ‘cos you’re with the Irish midget! Actually, me staying here hasn’t anything to do with you. What it is is I wanna stay away from town for a while, I’m a wanted man there”.

“No you ent!” said Joby “You stole a bit of petty cash outa someone’s till, that don’t exactly make you Ned Kelly!”

“It wasn’t just that”, said Josh “When the landlord caught me well I lost it didn’t I? I nutted him”.

“You prat!” said Joby.

“He’s alright, he’ll live”, said Josh “But he threatened to get the Town Guards onto me. That’s why I came here, it was the first place I could think of”.

“And if the Town Guards had any bleedin’ nous at all, which they obviously haven’t”, said Joby “It’d be the first place they’d think of and all!”

“They won’t come out here”, said Josh “They’re scared of Kieran”.

“Are they?” said Joby “Now that’s useful to know”.

“See?” said Josh “I can be useful to you, you know”.

“I’ll believe that when it happens!” said Joby “Anyway, keep out of Bardin’s way, and go easy on our beer!”

Just as an added precaution Joby asked Hillyard and Rumble to move the beer supplies onto the sloop, “out of harm’s way”. Bardin was furious that Joby hadn’t got Josh to leave, and didn’t believe Joby’s comment that “you play your cards right and you won’t ever have to see him, or even know he’s there”.

“I wish you’d make it up with Joby”, said Bengo, the next morning “You two normally get on really well. It pains me to see you two not speaking to each other”.

“How can you SEE people not speaking to each other!” Bardin snapped, washing himself in the cabin.

“Oh you think you’re so smart since you appeared on a quiz show don’t you?” said Bengo “Not that I saw … HEARD you answer a single question!”

“Haven’t you got any work to do?” said Bardin.

“Look, Josh won’t bother you if he’s over at the house”, said Bengo “I felt sorry for him last night. It was quite stormy, and he was over there all on his own. It must have been really gloomy for him”.

“Yeah, like I care!” said Bardin.

Bengo picked up the wet flannel and hit him in the face with it. Bardin snatched it and hit him back.

“Rumble told me you’re thinking of going on another of the quiz shows”, said Bengo.

“I mentioned that to you the other night”, said Bardin “But you didn’t bloody listen! I’ll do one more, ‘cos it’s good money. Crazy money if you ask me. I can earn in one evening on that what we earned in 2 weeks slogging our guts out at the Cabaret of Horrors and at the Little Theatre”.

“You’re getting a taste for it”, said Bengo.

“No”, said Bardin “It feels too weird working without you. Brings back bad memories and all”.

“Oh Bardy!” Bengo hugged him.

“I’ve brought you your food for the day”, said Adam, carrying two pails into the hall of Indigo Towers, where Josh had set up a camp-bed “And some shaving-water for you. That’s if you intend to shave that is, you seem to be favouring the Count of Monte Cristo look at the moment!”

“Well I’m treated like your bleedin’ prisoner aren’t I!” said Josh.

“Nothing could be further from the truth!” Adam retorted “We would be only too delighted if you’d ‘escape’, but you seem singularly reluctant to do so!”

Adam turned to leave via the library.

“Hey!” Josh called after him “Is it true you once did time for GBH?”

Adam gritted his teeth and remembered in time not to slam the door behind him. The last time anyone had done that a heavy dusting of plaster had fallen from the library ceiling.

Josh picked up the small shaving-mirror Adam had put amongst his daily supplies, and winced at his far-from-picturesque reflection. Someone knocked frantically on the main doors. Josh bad-temperedly opened it to find Hegley standing there, looking like a rabbit fleeing from a gun-dog.

“I need to speak to Kieran”, he exclaimed.

“He’s over on the boat”, said Josh.

“Can you take me to him?” said Hegley.

“No, take your bleedin’ self!” said Josh, slamming the door on him. He got plaster in his rations as a result. Hegley scampered round the outside of the house, and yelled for Bardin’s attention. Bardin was on the forward deck, supervising some general cleaning. By the time he had escorted Hegley up to the poop-deck the poacher was in a state of nervous collapse. Bardin fanned him with his cap, and ordered Toppy to run for brandy.

“It’s Clarissa”, Hegley gasped “I should never have left her there with that lot. She’s such a pretty girl you see. I should have known they’d get their claws into her”.

“Who is Clarissa?” said Bardin, trying to calm him down.

“A lovely girl …”

“Yes o.k, I’ve gathered that, but try and start from the beginning”.

“Clarissa works at the S&M building”, said Hegley “She was on-stage with me, you must have seen her. She’s young and pretty, not like some of the rough old tarts they have there. She’s not into all that, she just did it to earn a living, but I was always telling her she should have done modelling, she’s so pretty …”

“Were you and she sweet on each other?” said Bardin.

“I’d live to have …” said Hegley “But I was always afraid to say anything like that. I mean, I’m no great catch am I? Not for a girl like her. She was always kind to me, and we kept in touch after I’d walked out on that rotten lot”.

“What’s happened to her?” said Bardin.

“She’s disappeared!” said Hegley “I should have known that would happen. We always met up for a sandwich out on the prom every Thursday, but today she wasn’t there. I went round to her digs, and she landlady said she’d just walked out, without paying her rent. Well that’s just not like Clarissa, she’d never let anyone down”.

“Did she take all her things with her?” said Bardin.

“No”, said Hegley “And that’s another weird thing isn’t it?”

“Have you any idea where she may have gone?” said Bardin “Willingly … or otherwise”.

“It’s something to do with that lot, I know it is”, said Hegley “They’re evil, evil! They make pots of money doing these really dodgy films, and I’m scared they’ve taken her for all that, against her will!”

“So she could be in that building in Temple Street?” said Bardin.

“No, they don’t do their really iffy stuff there”, said Hegley “Not right in the middle of town, it’s too risky. It’s all run from that house where Julian’s brother went. I’m sure they do it all in there. We’re talking big money here. Between them they’ve corrupted this entire town, it used to be a nice place, but not now. It’s got seedy and run-down, and it’s all due to them! That’s why the Guards wouldn’t open a murder enquiry on Brother Iggy, because they know why he died and who did it!”

“You think it was part of their films?” said Bardin.

“It makes sense doesn’t it?” said Hegley.

“O.K”, said Bardin “But we have to do this with careful planning. First thing’s first”.

Bardin arranged that that evening most of them were going to go over and see Aleister Crowley. His reasoning was that Crowley had worked on the films, writing pornography for them. Even if he had nothing to do with the snuff side of it, he could still be a mine of useful information.

“And no pussyfooting around with this guy”, said Bardin “We effectively kidnap him, bring him here, and keep him here until he’s told us everything”.

Planning all this made him feel like he was going on a bear-hunt. Crowley was a big man with a powerful personality. He couldn’t exactly be stuffed into a holdall and carted out!

All the Indigo-ites went over to Crowley’s house in the hay-cart, except Farnol and Hoowie, who had to stay at home and make sure Josh didn’t help himself to what little money they had left hidden on the sloop.

“Can I be the one who announces us?” said Hillyard, as they trundled up the lane.

“Yes!” said Ransey “Now be quiet, I have to concentrate on what we’re going to do!”

Crowley was found in a back room at the cottage, along with 5 of his acolytes. None of it was a pretty sight. His Scarlet Woman, Thetis, was sitting in a hip-bath of water and chicken-blood, placed in a the centre of a pentagram chalked on the floor. On one wall was a series of photographs of a butt-naked Crowley in various ritualistic and meditational poses. Against another wall was an enlarged black-and-white photograph of a handsome woman in full evening dress, sucking the toes of a blood-stained statue in a garden. It was a still from a film.

“Alright, nobody move!” said Hillyard “This is a raid. God, I’ve always wanted to say that!”

Crowley was apoplectic with rage. His minions, who all looked pathetically young and undernourished, could only stare wide-eyed at Kieran and the other Indigo-ites. Thetis meanwhile no longer looked the menacing vampire she had seemed to the others a short time before. She ow just looked like a spaced-out woman sitting rather pointlessly in a disgusting bath-tub.

“And what am I supposed to do?” she said, standing up in a rather queenly fashion.

“I would suggest having another bath, old love”, said Adam “A proper one this time though!”

A female minion came over and draped a fur-lined cloak round Thetis’s majestic, but somewhat bloody, shoulders.

Adam found Julian in the kitchen thumbing through an antiquated book.

“What are you doing?” Adam exclaimed “Reading pornography at a time like this!”

“Gathering vital evidence actually”, said Julian, passing the book to him “This isn’t just any old pornography”.

“’Justine ou les Malheurs de la vertu’”, Adam read from the frontispiece “Sade’s stuff, in the original French”.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if it was one of the original print-run”, said Julian “It’d be worth a small fortune back in our time. I wouldn’t be very surprised indeed if it proved the link between Billy Bunter in the next room and the Frog Marquis!”

Back home on the sloop Julian thumbed through the illustrations in the book. Few of them were truly erotic, apart from one of a naked figure being thrashed with a strap by an enraged man in 18th-century costume, which rather appealed to Julian. Most of them he found too unnatural to be sexy. Sade had had a mania for devising complex physical positions involving several people, as though he was a mathematician trying to work out human equations.

“He was like that when he organised that orgy with us”, said Bardin “He couldn’t leave us to just get on with it, he had to keep rearranging it”.

“I don’t need reminding of that!” Julian snapped, and he marched off to the hold with the book.

“What have you said to upset Julian, Bardy?” said Bengo, outside the cabin door.

“I didn’t feel I’d said anything!” said Bardin “He has no reason to get jealous of Sade, it’s crazy! C’mon, let’s see how the interrogation’s going”.

Everyone else was crammed into the hold, standing in a wide circle around Crowley, who was sitting on a stool in the middle, nonchalantly fitting a cigarette into a tortoiseshell-holder. His rage at the Indigo-ites breaking into his magic circle had evaporated, and he was now enjoying the drama of the moment, chiefly because of himself being at the centre of it. He also found it amusing that they had hung onto one of the black cats, which Finia was now holding and stroking.

“I have never met the Marquis de Sade”, said Crowley, when Kieran flourished ‘Justine’ at him “Although it pains me to admit that, due to financial considerations, I have accepted work from him from time to time”.

“At the S&M club?” said Kieran.

“Silling Productions is the name of his little porn empire actually”, said Crowley “As I am sure you already aware, Silling was the name of his fictional chateau in ‘Sodom’. I wrote screenplays, if you can call them that, for some of his films”.

“And he gave you this book?” said Kieran.

“Apparently he thought it would be a nice gesture of gratitude on his part”, said Crowley “Rather lost on me I’m afraid. I know I have bragged about being an accomplished linguist in the past, but my French is actually rather limited”.

“What sort of things did you write for him?” said Kieran.

“Tediously tame stuff”, said Crowley “Not at all what you’re hoping I will tell you! He liked my chamber-pot poetry, liked vivid descriptions of young woman evacuating their bowels. One of the young ladies at Silling Productions said that when Sade invited her to the house he stuffed her with chocolate mousse so that she would get diarrhoea. He enjoyed having the results filmed”.

“She’s been to the house?” said Kieran.

“Yes”, said Crowley “My dear Irish friend, contrary to what you may believe, that house is not the gates of Hell. People have been known to go in and out quite safely”.

“But you haven’t been in there yourself?” said Kieran.

“I’ve never been invited”, said Crowley “I have gatecrashed places in my time, but on the whole you see, I rather prefer people to come to me, not the other way round”.

“What do you know about a girl called Clarissa?” said Kieran.

“A charming creature”, said Crowley “Although I strongly suspect that it was her name that has secured our little French friend’s interest in her. I don’t know how well up you are on English literature, but Clarissa was the name of a heroine created by Samuel Richardson in the 18th century, one of the first novels as we know them that was written. It was a very long book, all about a young woman of supreme beauty and goodness, who goes through all sorts of happenings but with her virtue intact, and gets rewarded for it at the end with a splendid marriage and lived happily ever. Sade loathed this scenario and wrote ‘Justine’ as a riposte to it”.

“So on hearing of a real-life Clarissa”, said Kieran “He’s taken her away to see if he can corrupt her?”

“The fact that she is young and pretty will of course be an added bonus to him”, said Crowley “Or for him I should say”.

“What do you know about the stuff that is filmed at the house?” said Kieran.

“Highly ambitious projects”, said Crowley “In his writing he pushed at every boundary, he intends to do the same with his films. Knowing human nature as well as I do, I’m not surprised he’s making an absolute packet out of it!”

“And you didn’t want to get in on all this, Mr Crowley?” said Adam.

“Whatever you may think of me”, said Crowley “I, the Great Beast, am a religious man first and foremost. I am as shocked and repelled by the soulless, superficial decadence and depravity of this venture, as I was by the hedonism of Hollywood in the 1920s. Your brother is in that house now I believe, Julian?”

“Piers always was a bloody fool!” said Julian.

Crowley gave a look that said he understood Julian’s feelings went deeper than he was prepared to let on.

“Monsieur de Sade”, said Crowley “Sees all society as based on hypocrisy. He’s still shadow-boxing you see, still trying to tear down the scenery, still trying to get back at the people who punished him all his life, and who he felt had no right to judge him. And who’s to say he isn’t right after all?”

“What concerns me is whether he’s got Clarissa or anyone else for that matter there against their will”, said Kieran “And if people are being tortured … and killed. And was Brother Ignatius simply part of one of these so-called ambitious projects of his”.

“I can’t tell you anymore than I already have”, said Crowley.

Kieran wound up the interrogation, and the others began to file out of the hold. Before he left Crowley impulsively grabbed Kieran’s hand and kissed it.

“You have the softness of a young girl”, Crowley whispered “In fact you could be a lady. Both you and I are hermaphrodites really”.

The spell was broken by the sound of stiletto heels charging across the forward deck overhead. Thetis descended below like a Valkyrie coming to claim a corpse from the battlefield.

“My pet!” she bellowed, coming into the hold “I have come to take you home again”.

“Kathleen!” said Julian.

“Before I leave I will quote my own epitaph to you”, said Crowley.

Joby groaned.

“I composed it myself at the end of my life”, said Crowley.

“That tends to be the way with epitaphs I’ve found”, said Adam.

“’He had the gift of laughing at himself’”, Crowley went on, unabashed “’Most affably he talked and walked with God, and now the silly bastard’s on the shelf, we’ve buried him beneath another sod!’”

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