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Time Waits For No Heroine


by


Avery "Whiskey Jack" Leckrone


and


M. "Lady Quantum" Kilby



Quantum Publishing

2018

Copyright

Time Waits for No Heroine

Copyright © 2018 by Avery Leckrone and M. Kilby

All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review or scholarly journal.

First Printing: 2018


Art by M. Kilby, copyright © 2018.

Quantum Publishing

Shawnee, OK

2018

Prologue


You ever have one of those days where you think everything is going really well, and then suddenly it all goes to Hell in a handbasket? Yeah...one of those. My morning started out great. A big Texas breakfast with all the fixin's, a big cup of coffee, the company of my best friend and snuggle bunny, and the newspaper already delivered to my front door.

It just don't get any better than that.

Then I go out to pick up the mail, which also has my business mail in it for Rads and Radicals, and found something in it that disturbed me far beyond anything I'd seen before. An envelope from the New Scotland Yard addressed to Lady Quantum care of Rads and Radicals and Dr. Terressa R. Martin. My heart nearly burst out of my chest, and my knees almost buckled as I frantically opened the sealed envelope to find out the contents. "How could they know?!" I thought to myself in panic, but in the end it was a false alarm, as they were just trying to get hold of my alter ego at her last known location from the news. What was inside, was another point of interest. A picture of an old photograph dated 1891 of none other than...well...Lady Quantum...ME! And of all places London in 1891!



The photo was old, no doubt, and seemed to be partly burned. It was in a plastic baggy and tacked to a wood backing, but was fairly easily seen through the clear plastic. It had writing on it clearly describing is date and place of origin, and the person in the photo could be no one else but Lady Quantum as far as I could tell. There was a report in the envelope about tests ran on the photo for carbon dating for authenticity, and such, but as far as the New Scotland Yard was concerned it was the real deal, which lead to the letter...

----------------------------------

New Scotland Yard 

Broadway, London, SW1H 0BG

Territorial Operations Dept.

TO-H Division

To Whom it May Concern, and the American Heroine Known as Lady Quantum,

On 26th, June 2015 it was brought to our attention by an intern researching some old cases for a disertation on the minds of serial killers, where it was found with other relics from investigators of that period, which has caused some rather disturbing information to come to light. The copy of the photograph enclosed with this letter has been authenticated over a dozen different times, and I can assure you, it is not a fake. It was found in a medical bag marked with a brass tag, and the letters "J.H.W." along with other documents in our Jack the Ripper files, seemingly overlooked. As our scientists have verified the age of the photograph, so too have our historians gone through our records to try and find to whom this bag belonged to. Sadly, J.H.W. is all we have to go off of at this time, and we are hoping that perhaps you could shed some light on this mystery, since, obviously, it must be your Great Great Grandmother in the photograph. Any information that she might have passed on to you about this matter is of the utmost importance, since this could pertain to one of the most infamous and widely known serial murder cases in history. Please feel free to contact me at anytime at the number on the contact sheet enclosed in the envelope.

Yours Sincerely,

E. Arnold

Supt.

Head of Historical Branch

01-563-8826

---------------------------------------

To be blunt, I was stunned. Not only was I looking at a copy of a photograph of what appeared to be me in 1891, but on top of that it was talking about someone having that picture of me, but that they had no idea who it was. On top of that this New Scotland Yarder had called me my Great Great Grandmother! I mean REALLY?! My legs are nowhere near looking that old! Bastard... With a huff I put the letter down and began getting dressed first putting on my costume before reaching for my work clothes that would be put on over the top of them. Suddenly, a portal opened up behind me, the likes of which I'd never felt before. The power of it was immense, and I began to fight it's force with my powers, but before I could do much of anything I was hit with some kind of blast and then yanked into the swirling vortex. Before I knew what had really happened, I was on my feet again, on cobblestones no less, with the sounds of horses, revelry, and it was dark and foggy.

"Ah crap..."


Chapter One



June 27th 1891


It was on the evening of the 26th that it can truly be said that I, Dr. John H. Watson, became involved in the events described herein. I was enjoying a nightcap in my apartments, when an insistent knocking came from my front door. Upon investigating, since obviously someone must be in trouble to be seeking a doctor's residence at such an ungodly hour, I made a most stunning discovery: a woman, dressed in a most strange fashion, (almost like that of a whore, although I'd never seen a whore in such a garment), in a mask no less, who had been slashed several times as if by a knife or razor of some kind, lay bleeding on my stoop and appeared to be in dire need of stitching lest she exsanguinate on the spot.

She looked up as I bent to examine her, and whispered, “Help me.” before passing out straight away. I grabbed the woman as if to help her up, but she was heavier than she appeared, and I had to call for my housemistress, Mrs. Hudson to help me get the larger woman into my operating theater. Once we had her on my operating table I was actually able to get a better look at the woman and her wounds. They appeared to be like those brought on by fighting off an armed assailant, mainly on her hands and forearms, though she did have two particularly bad slashes on her chest and abdomen, as if she had been unable to mount a proper defense against them.

As I sewed up her wounds, being sure to keep the stitches small, lest she have scars, I noted that her flesh was difficult to put the needle through, more like toughened leather instead of the pale, soft, skin of a woman. The woman appeared to be in her late twenties or early thirties, and was...remarkable, to say the least. Having gone to war in India, and traveled throughout most of Europe, I can safely say that I have never before seen a physique like hers- except perhaps among depictions of Olympian Goddesses crafted of marble rather than the flesh that lay upon the table before me. She wore, also, some kind of colouring on her lips and fingernails, a bright red, like that of a harlot, which, along with the clothing she had worn, led me to the conclusion that, perhaps, she was likely a victim of the Whitechapel Ripper. The fact that she survived was owed probably to her larger than normal size, her strange, tough skin, and that the woman managed to find my doorstep.

After I’d cleaned the slashes, finished her stitches, and dressed her wounds, I left her in the care of Mrs. Hudson. Her clothes were...interesting, to say the least and made of a material I'd never seen before, but were bloodied, and needed to be cleaned and repaired before they could be worn again. I instructed Mrs. Hudson to see to the garments and find our patient some new ones; the look she gave me reflected my own doubts as to how she was going to come up with something appropriate at three in the morning that might accommodate the woman's larger size. In the end, Mrs. Hudson used spare sheets to create a kind of toga for the woman that covered her well enough and once again reinforced my distinct impression that I might be witnessing one of those fabled Greek goddesses. Mrs. Hudson and I placed her as gently as possible into a wheelchair and took her into the guest room, then went to the library for a drink that I thought we could both use, after which we retired.

The next morning I arose to the sound of Mrs. Hudson exclaiming, quite vociferously, that our guest shouldn't be up and moving yet, and that a proper young lady ought not to be wearing next to nothing, nor calling on a proper gentleman's door in the middle of the night. I dressed quickly, and went downstairs to find my housemistress attempting to stop the larger woman from leaving the house with a broom.  I came down the stairs with a stern look on my face, and the two women turned to look at me with a fair measure of shame written on theirs.



“What's all this then?” I asked in a grim tone, and Mrs. Hudson began to explain that the woman was up out of her bed, which was obvious; that she was trying to leave the house in nothing but the bed sheet toga that she had been given to wear, also obvious; and that she shouldn't be running around like a tart in barely anything at all to wear, because it was not what a proper woman would do— a valid point.

I looked at the woman, who had kept her tongue throughout Mrs. Hudson's tirade, and she looked back at me coolly, with no fear in her eyes, which, I noted, were an almost luminescent light blue. “Well then, young miss? Do you have anything to say for yourself?” I said to her in my best gruff, nearly fatherly tone.

She looked down at us from her height— good Lord she was tall!— nodded, and said, “I thank you for the assistance you have given me, but I need to get out of here as quickly as possible. You don't understand the dangers involved, and I'm afraid that if I do explain them, then I could do even more damage than I've already done.” Her eyes bored into me, her voice carried the weight of authority, like a true royal, and blast if I didn't think she was telling the truth.

I steeled my spine, for, as a doctor, I could neither let a charge walk out into the street without clothing, nor without making sure that the wounds I had tended were healing properly.

I harrumphed and cupped my jaw in my hand, thinking about the situation, then gave my answer to the two ladies. “Mrs. Hudson will see you to the library, young miss,” I told my charge, “where she will take your measurements. I'll not have a patient of mine running around half-bared for all who comes to see. Later, we will talk and you can tell me more about this danger.  For now you need to rest. You have received wounds that most would not have lived through; it would be best if you sought your bed instead of trying to give doctors and their housemistresses chest pains.

“Mrs. Hudson, spare no expense. Make sure our guest is dressed properly.” The woman started to object but I waved her away, and Mrs. Hudson buttled her off to the library to fulfill her task. I confess, I was more than a little curious, myself, to see what wondrous metamorphosis the young lady might affect with a proper wardrobe; clean and mobile, she was not only physically imposing, but regal.  With a modicum of that special care that only a proper lady might provide, I suspected she could be quite lovely, as well. As soon as they’d departed, I made use of the tele- to ring a friend— if you want to call him that— to my home.

Chapter 2


Lestrade came as I'd asked him to; it had taken him a bit longer than I had expected, but I had taken the time to review some medical texts on gigantism to perhaps enlighten myself about my patient. When he arrived he had shed his uniform and was in customary apparel, so we sat down for a drink in the study before I broached the subject I was most interested in. “Tell me, Gregory. What news of this killer in the night? This Ripper, as the newspapers have been calling him; have you found who has been doing this?”

Lestrade looked a bit nonplussed, and poured himself more brandy, saying only, “You know John, if you'd wanted to know more about the case, you could have come down to the Yard. I'm sure that a man of your skills would be welcomed.”

I shrugged and deflected his hints with more questions: “What's better? That I should come to the Yard and ask questions of people I don't know, who might then conceal the truth of what is really going on, or that I should invite a friend to my home for a drink, who could then share details that might be pertinent to me?”

Lestrade started to his feet and looked at me askance.  “Pertinent? And when did the murder of women in Whitechapel suddenly become pertinent to a doctor on Baker Street, eh?”



I looked Lestrade in the eye, and smiled at him from where I sat in my leather chair, “Why, since I have apparently saved the life of someone who might have, but for my aid, become another victim of the wanted man in question, dear boy.”

The air of bluster and indignation seemed to go out of Lestrade all at once, at that point, and he sat back down in the leather chair opposite mine and took a large drink of his brandy. After a few moments, he returned to his senses and approached me with his own inquiries, “You must tell me who this victim is! If she...it is a she, yes? If she were to be able to describe the killer, we would be able to put an end to hunting for this murderer, and the newspapers and penny dreadfuls would be off on something else! Please John! Who is she? You must bring her in to the Yard!”

I set down my drink and stood up, pacing the room thinking, “Gregory, we've been friends for years, and I've helped you with many cases wherein my expertise as a doctor, and, I flatter myself, some small eye for detail, has come in handy. This Ripper business...is something else. I think it means something else, and I cannot allow a patient who has just undergone surgery to leave this house or have constables badgering and pestering her as she is trying to heal.”

I paused to let my words sink in.  Lestrade looked so thoroughly deflated that I was forced to relent, ever so slightly.  “Now, I can tell you this. I treated a woman last night who had wounds similar to what has been described in the newspapers. She apparently gave battle to the one responsible and thereafter made it to my doorway. Owing to her...singular nature...she managed to survive. I have sent Mrs. Hudson to get her properly attired, and when she is ready, I will invite the authorities- in the form of your person- into my home so that she might give testimony to them.  For now, however, she needs rest.”

Lestrade nodded, “Very well John. I understand, and I'll keep the secret for now.” He sighed and stood up, drinking another mouthful of the brandy, “What I can tell you about the Ripper case is that we've questioned hundreds of people. We've been thorough about it. We're trying to rule out people with any kind of skill with a blade. Doctors, butchers...all that lot lumped together as skilled with a blade. Can you imagine?”

He smirked, but when I didn't warm to his humor he continued, clearing his throat. “Still, the problem is the fact that with all these people coming into London right now, there's a lot of violence, and a lot of violence against women. It's been hard for us to distinguish what killings are properly the murders that the Ripper has done, and what are just the results of some drunk bastard in a row with some whore.”

I nodded, “I understand Gregory, and I'm not criticizing your work. I am merely trying to find out the facts. That is all.”

Lestrade sighed, “All right. Understand John that I'm not a doctor or even an Inspector yet, but what I can tell you is this: we only truly know that three of the murders were done by the same man. There have been two more, which seem to fit his pattern, the last of which was in April, but...no one is sure anymore.”

He grimaced, and added, almost under his breath, “With all that the newspapers have done, we don't even know if there might be some twisted bastard that copying the killer.”  He shook his head and went on in a more certain voice, “We also know that there is another killer skulking about that likes cutting the bodies to pieces, and hiding them about like some bloody pirate burying lost treasure! It's a mess, John. A right, bloody mess.”

I bade Lestrade quiet himself, and strode across the room to shut the doors. “Listen Gregory,” I said, turning and addressing him conspiratorially, “I do not know which of these killers assaulted the woman I saved. What I do know is that she was cut with a knife or razor, but that she survived. How? I do not know. Any other woman, I dare say, could not have done so, but this woman still lives and may give us the information that we seek.”

Lestrade frowned, “You keep referring to this patient of yours as ‘woman’ and ‘patient,’ but you have yet to put a name to her. Do you yourself not yet know who she is, or at least who she claims to be?”

I sighed and shook my head, “I confess Gregory, that I do not know her name at this time, but I put to you that her name is not an important matter at this point in time. What matters is if she can aid us in the capture of this murderer, this Jack the Ripper, and put an end to a reign of terror in East London that has gone on too long.”

Lestrade stood up and paced over to me to clap a hand to my shoulder, “Very well, John. I will not interfere at this point, nor will I tell my superiors. What would I tell them after all? That a whore was cut and staggered five miles through the streets of London to get aid from a doctor? Rubbish!” he snorted, then added, more thoughtfully, “or so one would think, if we were not in times such as these, when people fear for their very lives from a shadow. Find out your patient's name and get what information you can from her, then give me a ring. If all goes well, it might help me in my career.” He smiled, then opened the door to the study. “Thank you for the drink, John. Good day.”

I nodded and smiled, letting Lestrade go, then exited the study to check on my charge.

Chapter 3


Crossing the hallway and heading left, I stopped outside my guest’s door and knocked, allowing time for her answer. From within the room came her voice, this time softer and more dulcet than the strident tone she'd taken when she'd spoken earlier. Indeed, her voice was almost musical as she bade me enter. Mrs. Hudson had been gone half the day to the seamstress and had only returned just before Lestrade had arrived. The vision that awaited me was one of rare beauty. With the exception of my Mary, who had been gone some six months, by this time, I cannot say that I'd ever seen someone so radiant before.

Mrs. Hudson had done a wonderful job of acquiring a bustled dress for her with a corset, and the effect was stunning; the dress was a patterned cream, similar to her own skin colour, and fit her snugly, which, with the corset hugging her waist and making it seem all the more slender, was an effect that was indeed breathtaking. She wore white shoes with gold buckles, and the corset and trim on the dress matched, a darker brown paisley. Dressed like this, and sitting on the bed, she seemed almost...demure- and not the giant of a woman that I knew her to be.


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