Sunday, May 3, 2009

Chapter 52: Kvornan Is Told It Will Rot

Weds, November 25, 2074 1:12 pm: Holles St. and Paddington Blvd.- Downtown, Pleasantview


It was unseasonably warm. Kvornan ran his fingers through his sweat-drenched hair, not bothering to repeat the experiment when the same hair fell back into his eyes. The sun reflected off of the glass display case in front of him, a full-spectral corona, clean white at its core.

He didn’t know what had made him stop here. He had not been to this section of Pleasantview since before Elise was born. In those days, the toy store facing him had been a run-down juke joint. Foul booze, good music, standing room only. When Alexei could be found nowhere else, he would be found in a place like this, piss drunk and chatting-up a woman who had come in with someone else.


Throughout his reminiscence, the dolls in the display case were watching Kvornan with painted eyes. Kvornan thought wildly that they looked on him-- A monster, a murderer, a mere passer-by-- with the exact same fondness that they would show to the child who took them into her home, coddled and adored them, called them hers.

And this hypothetical child (who was all sunshine and pigtails in his imagination) would pour the dolls invisible tea, engage them in a one-sided conversation, perhaps even offer them plastic cakes, never expecting the faintest spark of acknowledgment in return. Kvornan knew this routine of expecting and receiving nothing very well by now. This was how he served his God.

To the left of him, Kvornan heard the steady approach of tiny, booted feet.


"Look Millie, it's the new Patty Peppercorn doll!" Two redheaded girls came racing around the bend, one leading the other by the hand. They smelled like deep clay, winter rain and silicon dust. Kvornan thought that they must have been from Dorset or thereabouts. Their life forces were stained with industrial waste.

An older gentleman and a small boy of similar genetic make-up were close on their heels.

"You girls keep where I can see you," the man shouted, ushering his boy along. But the girls were too enraptured to heed him.

"When I get one, I want mine to have blond hair and a green coat," the girl called Millie said. The older man shook his head, an indulgent smile playing across his lips.


"You got kids?" The older man had turned towards Kvornan. Kvornan did a double-take, surprised to have been addressed. For an instant, he'd felt like a non-presence-- An outside observer perched high atop a cloud, indifferently pairing his fingernails.

"Four," Kvornan said absently, though he did not know what had prompted the response.

"Really? Young guy like you," The man asked incredulously.

"I'm older than I look."


A black and battered pick-up truck sped by, honking furiously at a stray dog in the middle of the road. Kvornan stared at the undersides of the first little girl's boots as she climbed to the tips of her toes to get a better view of the dolls. There was a space where her pale rubber soles met their navy shadows on the ground and Kvornan wondered what Elise was doing. He lamented having missed the period in her childhood where something as simple as a doll might have excited her.


"They look so real," the first little girl said wistfully. "Don't you think so? Really, really real. Almost alive."

April 14, 1994 4:17 pm: The House of Fallen Trees- Gothier, Pleasantview (Eighty Years earlier)


Jennail grabbed Kvornan with one of her impossibly soft hands, beaming spiritedly.

"It's extraordinary, isn't it? Come, let's have a look," she said, pulling Kvornan forward. When he didn't budge despite her urgings, she kissed his cheek and pranced away, obliging him to follow. Every so often, Kvornan's overly curious wife would convince him to use his magic to unfasten the locks on her father's laboratory. But the glowing machines and acrid air held little fascination for him. He found pleasure only in yielding to her whims.


At the far corner of the room, an enormous, circular apparatus hummed as though it were occupied by a swarm of hornets. What was equally uncanny, a life-sized copper doll sat crouched on the floor beyond the circle, hooked to an intravenous tube.

Jennail swept her fingertips along the rusting walls and pulsating mechanisms as she passed them by, almost skipping. Kvornan followed behind her, innocuously forging a path through the glittering lace of her gown with his eyes. She halted suddenly at the feet of the copper woman. For a time, they stared at it in silence.


“Well…” Kvornan’s voice trailed off as he cleared his throat. “I suppose that all work and no play would make your father a dull boy.” Jennail sucked her teeth in disgust.

“You’re so vulgar,” she hissed. Her cheeks crimsoned just dark enough and the corners of her mouth drooped just low enough to imply that she was considering the possibility that Kvornan was right. The caged chickens behind the stairwell fluttered their wings nervously. Kvornan snickered.


"I'm only joking," he said, stroking a hand down Jennail's arm.

"Still," she whispered.

"Children!" Jon Smith-Tricou's voiced boomed, causing Jennail to jump. She grabbed the cuff of Kvornan's sleeve and skittishly cowered behind him, no doubt embarrassed at having been caught. Jon crossed the room, looking more pleased than angry at the intrusion. His young assistant strode briskly by his side, his pointed face etched with a grim reprimand. "How splendid of you to join us! You're just in time for the show."


"Actually Daddy, I think we were just leaving," Jennail murmured.

"Nonsense. Mahadeva, may I presume upon your extraordinary talents," Jon asked brightly. Jennail gave Kvornan a pleading look but he only smirked devilishly. They had already outstayed the life of her curiosity. Below them, Jon's assistant was unfurling the copper woman's limbs.

"Naturally, Dr. Tricou. I am at your disposal," Kvornan twittered. Jennail narrowed her eyes and bit down on her lower lip, wordlessly conveying her annoyance. She would be as sultry as a cadaver in bed that night but Kvornan had a feeling that whatever Jon was planning would be worth it.

"Splendid. I need you to lift the subject from the ground just high enough for us to work underneath it. This will only take a moment," the good doctor said.

"Take as long as you like," Kvornan implored. He focused his energy through his hands and placed them, palms up underneath the copper body. The gesture was essentially unnecessary-- He could have lifted the thing from a mile away with his hands behind his back but he had long ago discovered that people were more comfortable with his abilities when they thought that they could see his process.


Jon and his assistant opened a panel on the subject's torso, winding gears and setting circuit boards into place. A red and sticky substance was slowly oozing around the curve of a copper breast and streaming into the pit of a copper arm. Kvornan moved his hand to avoid coming into contact with it.

"She appears to be leaking," Kvornan said, tilting his head to side as he watched what he could only assume to be oil drip from her armpit to the floor.

"Yes, that happens at times. Mortimer, if you would please wipe that up," Jon said, securing a bolt. Mortimer reached into his coat pocket and wiped the liquid away with his handkerchief. Jon closed the chest panel and climbed out from underneath the doll. "And now Mahadeva, the subject must be moved into the circle, standing upright with her feet on the glass."


Kvornan flipped the doll around as though she were no heavier than a balloon and perched it on the inside of the circle as he had been instructed. Mortimer scurried over to the machine, snapping the doll's arms and legs into place.

"How are the connections, Master Goth," Jon shouted much louder than needed.

"Ready," Mortimer piped up.

"Splendid," Jon said, flipping a switch on the wall. Kvornan turned to his wife who was staring blankly at the floor. When he caught her iron-blue gaze, he mouthed the word, "nutter". She flushed with aggravation.


A deafening whirr resonated throughout the laboratory, shaking windowpanes. Kvornan reflexively clasped his hands to Jennail's tiny ears. The circle expanded to become a globe, a great network of metal bars, protectively clutching the doll inside. It was like nothing that Kvornan had ever seen.


The floor was vibrating now. White hot currents of electricity flared from the base of the globe, shooting up its sides and Kvornan could have almost sworn he saw the doll flex her fingers. Jennail took his hands down from her ears and inched her way behind him like their son did when he was frightened. Jon rubbed his hands together in anticipation.


"Nothing to be worried about," Jon shouted to no one in particular. "Everything is going exactly according to plan." The noise was beginning to subside. Jennail wrapped her arms around Kvornan's waist and buried her face in his neck. She was a timid, easily overwrought person by nature and he wondered if they should have stayed behind after all.


Kvornan heard something that he took for valves releasing air pressure. The metal globe was collapsing. The electric impulses subsided and Kvornan felt a noticeable shift in the energy of the room. Something small was in there with them- A bird in the rafters or maybe a field mouse in the doorway. The doll released her grip on the handle bar by her own accord.


She slumped forward, her knees half-way buckled. Kvornan froze in shock. He could not have been seeing what he thought he was seeing. The plated band of metal that was the doll's midsection expanded and contracted. It was breathing.

Jon stepped forward, supporting the doll by the shoulders to keep it from falling over.

"Impressed," he asked, winking jovially at Kvornan.


"I- How does it work?" Kvornan's palms were sweating. This was science. It was computer chips and battery acid and-

"You are a far more qualified expert on the subject than I am, dear boy. You see, this apparatus is alive," Jon said, prolonging the last word as though to make it stick. Alive. Kvornan took a step closer and the metal woman lifted her head. He waved a hand in front of her face but she did not flinch.


"No sensory input, I'm afraid. That's a project for another day," Jon said with a slight frown. Kvornan did not know what to think. If a man could build a living body out of metal and breathe life into it with electricity... Kvornan's eyes darted over to the caged chickens by the stairwell. Suddenly, he did not wish to know how it worked.

"I can see its life force," Jennail murmured in his ear. And he could see it too. It was weak. It was erratic. But it was there. The copper woman very slowly began to collapse. Kvornan could feel her life slipping away.


"The subject is failing, Dr. Tricou," Moritmer said matter-of-factly.

"We could expect no more," Jon replied. "All in all, I would call this experiment a success, wouldn't you?" Mortimer responded with a terse nod of his head. The metal woman convulsed twice before falling noisily into a heap on the floor.

"Is it dead," Jennail asked, not daring to look.

"As a doornail, my flower," Jon said. He extended a hand for Mortimer to shake. "Excellent work, Master Goth. Just wait until Primo Fiorello hears about this."


"What does Mr. Fiorello have to do with anything?" Kvornan folded his arms over his chest, feeling much easier knowing that the doll no longer walked amongst them.

"Ah well it was his wine that we used to sustain the life in the chicken's blood that was used to animate our subject, here bereft of her existence," Jon said, rocking on the heels of his shoes. "Now the real fun begins. I'm expecting the copper to go the way of all flesh. Master Goth will be observing this body as it decays. Ashes to ashes and all that rot. Eh boy?" Mortimer said nothing but stared indifferently at the copper mass laying spread-eagle on the floor.


  1. “Well…” Kvronan’s voice trailed off as he cleared his throat. “I suppose that all work and no play would make your father a dull boy.”Bwahahaha!!!! WIN!!!

    I loved these shots Pen! Some of these angles were very impressive. It was almost like I was there the way you were describing it! Interesting glimpse into the past. Very, very interesting.

  2. Ooooh, so Mortimer was Dr. Tricou's apprentice... interesting...

    I like how Kvornan didn't realize he was thinking of the Mindelsohns (spelling?) when he said four. Nice effect there--makes it all the more clear that he cares even more than he realizes he does :)

    "They look so real," the first little girl said wistfully. "Don't you think so? Really, really real. Almost alive."

    That made me smile. How did you get the toddlers to stay so still? Some awesome posebox that I lack the expansion packs for, I'm sure :(

    Heheheh, the copper woman totally made me think of a Robaxacet commercial :)

  3. Phoenix:

    Heh, yeah Kvornan used to have a sense of humor. Who knew?

    Thanks Phoenix! The past holds all of the answers... Er, or at least most of the answers in DBL.

  4. Van:

    Yes indeed Mortimer was Dr. Tricou's apprentice. Dina mentioned it in passing once but I didn't expect anyone to remember that so it was imperative that I stick him in this chapter. And check out how much he looks like Isabella! I never noticed it until I had to make a teen Mortimer.

    Yay! I'm glad you caught that. I was hoping it wasn't too ambiguous what four children he was referring to.

    hehe Here's the secret- Those really are dolls! Someone made them over at MTS2 from what looks like face 1 toddlers. Or at least I assume that's where I got those from.

    And what pray tell is Robaxacet?? I have to look that up on ye olde YouTube now.

  5. It's this medication for back pain--I could have sworn they had it in the States too. They've had these commercials on for as long as I can remember, with these little wooden puppets dancing around with pins in their backs representing the pain, and then someone pulls them out. I think my earliest memory is of one of those commercials.

  6. Weeiiirrrddd. Now I MUST look that up. I've never seen those commercials but that doesn't mean much. I haven't owned a tv in about 5 years.

  7. Holy flashback, Batman! Alright, despite your excellent attempts, Penelope, I'm not going to go all goggle eyed over pre-scary vampire Kvornan. I am completely commited to the scary version...

    You're right, I'm lying, he's hot.

    Awwww, Kvornan has feelings and stairs into store windows and watches little girls giggle over toys... awwww... he had better kill somebody soon.

    I KID! But this reminds me of his worry over Emergarde(spelling-name-fail)and how sweet his is to Elise... well back before he practically shunned himself fromt them.

    That metallic woman is freaky. I swore she was deco, until you started moving her. AWESOME SHOTS. I love the look of the lab.

    And lastly, Mortimer GOTH!

  8. But Veron, pre-scary vampire Kvornan actually has a lip color distinguishable from the rest of his face! hehehe And he's trying to kick that whole "killing people" habit! Alexei taught him better than that. Shockingly.

    Yes, I might just be prefacing something here. You may for instance be wondering why Kvornan is in Pleasantview at all...

    teehee, I think that Jennail and Kvornan might have had a similar moment with that metal woman, Veron!

    Ach, Mortimer. He's the cause of a lot of bad things, Veron! A lot of bad things!

  9. I had this awful feeling that metal girl had something weird going on when you described the IV she was hooked up to...LOL at Kvornan's remark though.

    Interesting comparison with the children looking at the really really real dolls and the metal girl. It was actually eerie now that I look back on it. All in all a very freaky chapter. What's the deal with the chickens and Fiorello's wine? Not sure I want to know the answer to that...Jennail's father was one seriously disturbing guy. And Morty obviously learned a great deal...he gets to observe as it turns to ash. I bet he enjoys every minute of it.

    Kvornan's fascination with the entire process was disturbing.

    I am stunned at the shots! Vivid and OMG the decor!

  10. Here's what we know about the Fiorello wine thus far:

    1) It was found to have medicinal properties.2)During the course of his research into the wine, Mortimer hypothesized that immortality was a possibility.3)Jorge's been drinking it for years.---

    Hmmm. Jon Smith-Tricou wasn't really that disturbing of a fellow. Or at least I never intended him to be. Did he come off that way? He was extremely, extremely eccentric. And maybe too smart for his own good. Mortimer on the other hand was a little left of center. And a very apt pupil.

    Anything having to do with metaphysics fascinates Kvornan. Seeing an inanimate object come to life brings to mind quite a few questions about the nature of existence. Maybe I should have played that up but I really just wanted to get this chapter out of the way as soon as possible yesterday. Also, Kvornan is fascinated by life an a tangible force. He thinks about it a lot both as a vampire (who, therefore depends on other people's life forces to survive) and as the earthly embodiment of death. He's a complicated man. :p

    Thanks, Gayl!!! This was one of the first sets I ever built for this story. Fun times.

  11. Hmm, maybe disturbing was the wrong choice of words. He just seemed so caught up and enthralled with the entire process that I guess it was disturbing to me...

    Thanks for the links! Now that you mention them, I remember...duh! Makes me want to go back and read the citations however because now that I know what I know, I would like to read that into the context of the links.

    OK I am not making any sense...

  12. hehe I totally understand what you meant! I try to write the story in such a way that it isn't totally cryptic (or at least I hope it isn't) but at the same time, you can always go back and pull out details that might have been missed the first time around.

  13. Oh my goodness, Pen, I think I just figured something out!! But it's probably crazy. I'll just have to wait and see.

  14. It probably isn't that crazy. The story is crazy. :p

  15. weird and totally unsettling, starting with the dolls in the window and finishing with this thing which was briefly "alive". Wonderful!

    And the set is fantastic.

    I can't even come up with a word to describe the shots. I'm in awe. Stunning, just stunning.

  16. Thank you SB!! I try to connect the flashbacks to the current action as best I can. ;) I was lucky to have a clear transition with this one.

  17. Why do I get the feeling that Kvornan is deep down saddened, disheartened by all that is happening??? has happened, including that last scene with the doll dying after only briefly living?

    Wonderful glimpse into the past! Great screens and Great writing!!

  18. I can see where Kvornan would be a bit worried about this. He'd just seen a human do something that, to his knowledge, could only be accomplished by the Ka of Deus Rex. But I might be getting ahead of myself with that? I'm not sure.

    Thanks, Cherie!!!

  19. Ok, that moving copper doll thing definitely spooked me. That was creepy, animate dead objects by chicken blood and 'wine'? It was as creepy as chucky my dear.

  20. hahaha Sadly enough, I didn't even think about Chucky when I wrote this. But having grown-up in the 90's, you'd have thought that Chucky would be my first reference point.

    Oh it's definitely wine. It's where the wine was grown that makes the difference. Getting to that. ;)

    Another thing that I should probably mention (if anyone is still reading the comments several days after the chapter was posted :p), Adriana Fiorello was Don's mother and his father Nicolo worked in the Fiorello vinyard for six years. That's six years of being exposed to that land and what was growing in it, ten hours a day. And Adriana naturally drank a few bottles in her day.

    Thanks, Karen! If I've creeped someone out, then my job with this chapter is done.

  21. The posting of this shot:

    Made me so jealous. Such clever composition!

  22. Thanks, Jasper! I think I may have to attribute that one to luck. I take between 60-150 images per chapter because I can't always imagine what they will look like once I shrink them. I may have taken that one from a dozen different angles before stumbling over one that worked.