Book I: 1919Edit
Chapter 1: The HeistEdit
The English countryside was quite peaceful at half-past midnight. Unlike the forest nearby, which was teeming with life, the large expanse of farmland was quiet. The blue light of the moon shone down on the fields without a cloud in the sky. While the land was distinctly man-made, with the labor of the farmers clearly represented, there was something natural about the land, as if it were meant to be exactly what it was. All was in place perfectly, except for the railway. The tracks seemed to scrape across the landscape like a metal gash, a wound afflicted on nature. The tracks began to shake as a train made its approach. Almost as if the countryside were preparing for its arrival, a gust of wind began to shake the wheat to and fro under the moonlight.
The train's rapid pace and cantankerous noises made it seem as if it were running away from something. Towards the back of the train, Tristan, a boy no more than sixteen, began to swiftly move about the cars. He glided through the doors one by one with a speed that rivaled that of the train itself while not attracting attention to his actions. His target was a luxury car in the front of then train. There, a wealthy old widow, Madame Connors, was situation with a vast array of valuables. Tristan was dressed in rags, but his movements suggested a much more cultured background. He did not slouch or move about in a way that suggested low birth. As he shifted between rooms, Tristan felt a sharp pain in his gut. "Damn. It's starting again", he thought to himself.
Tristan sneaked into an empty cabin as the pain began to spread to other parts of his body. By the time he sat down, his entire torso was in pain. It was excruciating, as if acid were eating away at his insides. Tristan winced as he into his jacket pocket. Inside were twelve small glass vials. Eight carried a gray murky liquid, while the remaining four were clear. Tristan made sure not to use the clear vials, they would knock him out cold. Instead, he quickly downed some of the gray liquid. Within a minute, his pain had subsided. He sighed in relief, and used his opportunity of solitude to start the next phase of his plan without the prying eyes of other passengers. Tristan carried a tattered sack that seemed of little importance on the outside. Its contents were quite the opposite. In the sack, Tristan carried the finest clothes, befitting a gentlemen of London's highest social circle. He changed into the clothes swiftly, and left the bag under a seat in the cabin.
The boy made his way out of the cabin, and began to calmly walk toward the car in which Madame Connors and her valuables were situated. Running through the train would attract too much attention now. He was in the realm of nobleman, and more importantly, their valuables. When travelling on a train with people of varying social stature, the more wealthy passengers did not feel that their belongings would be safe in a luggage car, where any sort of vagrant could break open a box and steal something. Instead, the passengers chose to have their luggage in the very same cabin they were staying inside. In addition, the most affluent passengers, particularly Madame Connors, had a handful of bodyguards to protect not only themselves, but their belongings. This made Tristan's job much harder, but he had prepared for this.
The car reserved for the nobility was in the front of the train, the farthest away from the "vagrants" situated near the cargo area. The car was the epitome of opulence, and had a full-service bar, a billiards table, and plenty of expensive furniture for the upper class socialites to recline on while socializing and intoxicating themselves. The car had six shared cabins and two private cabins, one of his was occupied by Madame Connors. All the passengers were assigned to the shared cabins, much to their disdain, as Madame Connors purchased both the private cabins. One was used for herself, and the other was used to store her valuables. Most of the passengers were not used to being in such tight spaces with other people, and as a result, left their cabins empty and preferred to use the seating in the lounge area of the car. When Tristan entered the room, the majority of them were quite drunk. This was to his advantage.
Tristan's plan was to blend in with the drunkards on the sofas and patiently wait for the guards at Madame Connors' cabins to switch shifts. As they switch shifts, he would get up, and break into Connors' storage cabin.
The Trash BinEdit
Author's note: I decided to rewrite the story from scratch, but I wanted to keep this story material nearby in-case I wish to reuse it. Feel free to read it, if you want.
23 JULY 1845
I'm finally on my way to better prospects. This morning, I boarded the ship, the Edelweiss en route to America. The ship is quite interesting, as are its passengers. Most peculiarly, the passengers are a mix of London elites and the class I belong to. We are what the elite call the "downtrodden". While the ship is a mix of two very different groups, the crewman make sure we are kept separate. Those with money are kept on the upper deck, where the "good stuff" is. Gourmet food, drink, and of course luxurious rooms, one per person are all up there. Back in London, they're always so quick to pity us, but now that we're all packed together in the middle of the Atlantic, those idiots want us shut below deck. Hypocritical bastards.
My "quarters" are basically the bilges. Nobody has their own room, and we're all lumped together in one big area that smells of shit. I don't really know anyone on board, but I didn't expect to. I tried to get Alfie and Trevor to come with me, but of course, neither of them agreed to. Much like most of the people in the slums of which I lived, they have no sense of a greater future. They've accepted their fate, but I know better. With just some time and effort, I can pull myself out of this situation. I know for certain that I will put in the effort, but time is a matter I'm most grievously concerned over. For every success story I've heard of from America, there's a dozen where men sit in the same job, in the very same poverty for decades. I don't want to be an old man and still be in the place I'm at. If I'm going to make this journey worth anything, I'm going to have to be smart about it.
26 JULY 1845
These past two days of the voyage have been uneventful, for the most part. The majority of my fellow passengers are passing the time either by socializing or sleeping. I choose to spend my time by doing the latter. Virtually all of yesterday I slept, with the exception of grabbing a bowl of the slop we were fed. We're down here eating like pigs while those bigots upstairs are probably eating prime rib. Today was no different, save for one amusing, albeit disgusting occurrence.
A woman by the name of "Vera" was making the rounds with the men below deck, selling herself as a self-described "part-time prostitute, this voyage only". The whore had the nerve to wake me and offer her services. No way in hell am I trading the little money I have for temporary gratification. I need what I have just to be able to survive the first few days in America.
27 JULY 1845
This evening, something just short of impossible occurred. One of the wealthy men came below deck and began socializing with us. He wore clothing befitting a man of status, but his skin was noticeably darker than that of the common London gentleman. Perhaps this is why he came to visit us. It is not entirely out of the realm of possibility that the arrogance that presides on the upper deck did not deem him fit enough to be within their company.
When he talked to us, there was an obvious cultured accent, but at the same time he spoke as if we were his equals. It was quite refreshing to see a man of his stature act so relaxed around us. He talked of generalities to the larger crowd, with topics such as the voyage thus far, and where were headed in America, insignificant things that that. All the while, I could see his eyes were studying each individual person intently, as if he were looking for something. A few of the men he looked at did pique his interest. He took about five of them off to the side for a private conversation for which the rest of us were not privy to. After doing so, he left and went back upstairs. Quite peculiar indeed.
29 July 1845
Yesterday, the man, who I overheard to be called Mr. Pierce returned this morning, and stayed here for the duration of the day. He interviewed about a dozen more of us "privately," and then left without another word. Some of the passengers are beginning to have their sentiments over him sour. For some petty reason or another, some of them are becoming jealous of those he has interviewed. I for one see no reason why that should be the case. Perhaps they think he is giving his interviewees money or some other kind of support. He did not interview me either, but even if that were the case, it's no reason for jealousy. Whatever he talked about with those gentleman is of no concern to me. I suppose the change in climate among the passengers is somewhat entertaining, though. It is refreshing to have a different atmosphere, even if negative, when the scenery is the same every day here.
30 July 1845
Today was by far the most interesting day of this voyage. Much has happened. I suppose I should start at the beginning.
This morning, when I went to get my bowl of slop, that whore Vera was going around boasting about some opportunity she acquired. She said that Mr. Pierce has taken her under his wing, and will be paying her large sums of money for her services. I didn't believe a word of what she was saying, and to an extent, I was right. Vera's flaunting exacerbated the already distasteful stance most people had toward Mr. Pierce.
When Mr. Pierce returned for a final round of "interviews" later in the day, quite a few of the passengers demanded that he give them money, like he did to Vera. When he declined, things got violent. A group of five men surrounded him and threatened a beating if he did not give them all the money he had on his person. When Pierce declined, they made good on their threats. Pierce was resilient, even after beating beaten to a pulp, would not let the men take his money. The men then took out some knives.
As I viewed this entire ordeal, I felt terribly bad for Mr. Pierce, but tried to keep my head down. I did not want to be in a quarrel when we were so close to America. I could have kept my head down and would have been fine, but I didn't. Something about Pierce appealed to me. Maybe it was because I saw him as my ultimate goal. I'm not a noble, I'm not a gentleman, but with enough time and effort, I could be as rich as one. He is exactly that person.
I got up and rushed at the men, tackling one of them. I was too late, or so I thought. The other four men began stabbing Pierce in a horrendous fashion. But then, it turned out I was not alone. A group of six other passengers followed my lead and took out the remaining muggers.
Pierce was still alive, but just barely. There was blood everywhere, and it looked like he had been stabbed in both the gut and the chest quite badly. Shockingly, he was still conscious. I came over to him, as he lay on the floor, and stood him up. He was losing quite a lot of blood, and it was my intention to help get him to the doctor onboard. He adamantly agreed until we were above deck, free from any witnesses. He told me under no circumstances should I take him to the doctor. I thought he was absolutely mad, but then I saw that his wounds were healing at an extremely fast rate. He was no longer bleeding out. In fact, it looked as if the blood splattered everywhere was being attracted to him, and entering back into his body through the wounds. I had never seen anything like this before. It was both mesmerizing and horrifying. Within seconds, he was able to walk unassisted. Seeing the shock on my face, he invited me up to his room for an explanation.
When we got to his room, he seemed quite disappointed. He introduced himself as "Mr. Lucien," rather than "Mr. Pierce". When I pointed out this discrepancy, his expression changed, and he commended me for my perceptiveness. He began to study me intently, just has he did those people below deck these past few days. He explained that he was worried that he would have to "shut me up," but now that he had gotten a good look at me, he was relieved. I could "do nicely". He began asking me a series of questions, and the interview had begun.
I only remember a select few of the questions he asked me, as there were quite a few. The first thing he asked about was my place of birth. He didn't even bother asking why I was coming to America, as that answer was clear. I'm a poor bloke who is looking for a better lot in life. He was curious as to my place of birth and early upbringing due to my vocabulary. He noted that I was extremely well-spoken for someone of my class, something I know all-too well. It was always a source of ridicule by the other children. I don't regret a single bit of it. The first step to bringing oneself out of poverty is to look and act like one who ought not to be there. I have the mannerisms down, now I merely need the look, and that will come in time.
"Lucien," or "Pierce," whichever it is went into great detail in my educational background. The fact that I learned so much from self-study impressed him. He said he too came from humble beginnings, and referred to his kin as "barbarians". After quite a few hours of questions toward me, he let me ask a few of him.
He would not tell me what his real name was, but explained that "if I stuck with him, it would be revealed in time". He went on further to explain that in America, he is referred to as James Lucien, while in Britain, he is Walton Pierce. In a facetious manner, he instantly switched from an aristocratic British accent to that of a native-born American. I was quite impressed.
I asked him about his "interviews" with the passengers below deck, and he explained that he is looking for candidates for a "social and moral experiment". He had three candidates on the ship so far, with only one coming from below deck, until now. He offered me the fourth position in his little experiment. He said that the experiment would pay well, and that many other "gifts" would be given as well. I would have until tomorrow night to decide, when a meeting of all four candidates would be held in his room at midnight. Before bidding me farewell, he asked that I keep his "secret" about the wounds, and said that all would be revealed tomorrow at the meeting.
This has really been quite the day. I don't know what my future would hold if I agree to work with this man. Everything about him is inspiring, but at the same time frightening. I'm not one to believe in magic or witchcraft, but the way he healed is certainly something that seems to come from that "realm". Perhaps there is a more innocent explanation. I shall see tomorrow.