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The 12 Placebos

By Maolsheachlann Mac Diarmada All Rights Reserved ©

Mystery / Fantasy

Blurb

Drunkard James Malcobh ups ship and moves himself from 1800’s London to a friend's country estate where he hopes to find something more scintillating than the humdrum life of alcoholism and socialising. Once there he encounters Clara a young maid in the house who knows a thing or two more about presentability than James. Taken by her elusive nature and her brilliant innocence James becomes infatuated. As passions arise and the secrets of the estate begin to emerge James must keep a tight grip on reality if he’s to prevail through this fantasy as all is not what it seems.

Chapter 1

On the morning of October the fifth, I awoke to find a rather peculiar letter on my desk. Amongst the invoices and other such mundane items that one is concurred to oblige in the normal running of the times, was a letter and it ran as follows:


Dear Dr. Malcobh,


I understand that you are a great friend of The Earl of Swipshire, his grace the eminent C.J Alton. I wish to bring your attention to this, for the Earl has been taken ill and in his absence he wishes you to take his place in the running of the lands. We would be most grateful if you would reply to this request as soon as possible and we shall give you ample time to get your life in order to suit this rather sporadic engagement.


My Regards,

Kevin Forester

Secretary for Earl Alton’s estate


This was rather shocking and yet I did not feel compelled to discard this chance to act as a deputy Earl. My mind then seemed to wonder and I began to think of the life of an Earl, all of that splendid opulence and then another thought stuck my mind.

I remembered a story I had read in my younger and studious years at Paris’ University of Economics where I had went to study. I was waiting in a hotel lobby room for a man named Dr. Henskovick who was a lecturer at the college. He did not come straight away and a porter came down to tell me that he was sorry and would be down in an hour but that if I would like a drink then the bar was open to me.

The Doctor would have any expenses charged directly to him. So I sat down ẃ

furious that he has been saved, kills the girl and the depraved pleasure he derives from this act of homicide leads him to murder again and again.


The book ends on the fact that even though the count died at a young age due to an opium overdose if he had lived to be a hundred years old than he would not have been found out. This gave me an idea; when I am in Swipshire, I will have free reign over a substantial number of people and though I did not want to murder anyone, I would still be able to do whatever I want and no one could say a thing against me.

However I realized then that these were sober ratings and decided to get a drink. I then decided to get out of bed. This task was a more challenging one than I previously had anticipated.

Firstly getting up out of my bed which was deliciously warm to say the least was always a threat to my sanity, (as leaving made no sense to my rational being), however the fact that I had slept in my clothes the previous night meant that when I did finally jump out of bed, as I do, for I find it easier to leave when one does leap out the bed, it was not to the chill of the room but into the warmth of the clothes on my person.

From that point I slowly walked into the smoking room, this being directly opposite my own and so the journey was made in a matter of seconds. When I opened the door I rang the bell that hung to the left of the door.

Larry called up the stairs

furious that he has been saved, kills the girl and the depraved pleasure he derives from this act of homicide leads him to murder again and again.


The book ends on the fact that even though the count died at a young age due to an opium overdose if he had lived to be a hundred years old than he would not have been found out. This gave me an idea; when I am in Swipshire, I will have free reign over a substantial number of people and though I did not want to murder anyone, I would still be able to do whatever I want and no one could say a thing against me.

However I realized then that these were sober ratings and decided to get a drink. I then decided to get out of bed. This task was a more challenging one than I previously had anticipated.

Firstly getting up out of my bed which was deliciously warm to say the least was always a threat to my sanity, (as leaving made no sense to my rational being), however the fact that I had slept in my clothes the previous night meant that when I did finally jump out of bed, as I do, for I find it easier to leave when one does leap out the bed, it was not to the chill of the room but into the warmth of the clothes on my person.

From that point I slowly walked into the smoking room, this being directly opposite my own and so the journey was made in a matter of seconds. When I opened the door I rang the bell that hung to the left of the door.

Larry called up the stairs “I’ll be up in two minutes sir”.

I looked around the room. The walls were a dark shade of blue and the panels at the side of it were mahogany, the whole room had been renovated the previous year. In one corner was a couch and then there were several other chairs as well. There was a fireplace in the left-hand side of the room and the marble was shining in the sunlight that was slowly dripping into the room.

Then Larry entered the room; the door slowly creaked open and he revealed himself.

Larry was a tall, gaunt man of around only forty or fifty years although he looked a lot older. He wore a completely black suit, as I was rather morbid when picking out the clothes for my servants the previous October and had not had the chance to purchase any new clothes for them since.

“Yes Sir” the man spoke in a dark sinister, but not monotonous tone.

“Ah Larry” I replied ‘ I would like you to open a bottle of one of the good ones, and then take this note to Mr. Kellingway on Prensington avenue”.

With that I jotted down the note and handed it to him. He always took great pride in his work and so was off as swift as a March Hare. I looked at my watch it was nine o’clock, that meant three hours before I could get into the Hunters Lounge. This is why I had sent the note to Mr. Kellingway; he just happened to be the opium seller for the district.

Within a few minutes Larry returned with the wine and so, I sat down and lit up a cigarette. I was smoking, drinking and thinking at the same time. I remember thinking on the subject of marriage.

Myself, being a rather morbid character as you now by know regards only one thing more final than death and that is marriage. My father had selected me three brides once and said that if I could have one of them, I could own the estate but that if, I wasn’t married by the time he died then the estate would be sold off.

What he didn’t tell me at the time was that he was joking. This was unfortunate as he died the next week. Low and behold I wasn’t married. My family, however kept the story alive and said he would leave it to the rest of the family until such time as I was married. Life being life, I was not able to marry any of them.

The first was just not the first looked terrible, the second was already engaged and the third was never in the country for me to even talk to her.

My room was now overflowing with smoke from countless numbers of cigarettes. I pondered some more on the state of my affairs. I could not prove that my father was actually joking, but my family’s testimony could.

However, my family was not the closest, but when one needed help the rest would try their hardest to make sure they could not get it.

So I was trapped in this town house for a few years I had to live off an allowance given to me by my family. However when I saved enough money I bought a small factory and then sold it off at a higher price. This now along with many other business ventures keeps me alive until I get married and although I should love to return to the squire’s life, I want to experience the world before I settled down.


At around half eleven Larry returned with a small bag, within the bag was a small amount of Opium and a note. The note read: “just enough until you pay me”.

This was true, as I owed the man (Which is unusual for me) a small, but substantial amount of money. I decided that I would keep the opium until I came back from the Hunters Lounge. It being almost twelve I bade farewell to Larry and headed down the street.

The sun hazed through the wispy grey clouds and the air outside had a deathly chill to it. As I walked upon the smooth surface of the footpath a carriage passed and then the sound of the hooves clapping the cobblestone drifted off into the cold winter’s air.

I then saw a man whom I recognized straight off as Lord Howdcraft. He was a good friend of mine. He was also a gentleman as interesting and friendly as they come.

“ Jimmy” I shouted at the top of my voice.

“Ah Mal” for this is what my friends call me “ how are you?”

“Good, good” I returned “Say, are you going to the Hunters Lounge?” I then added hopefully. “No, no I cant I’m afraid, you see my aunt Nellie and her daughter Mary are staying with me and I promised I would be down to them for luncheon” he replied listlessly.

“How long are they staying” I inquired with a glint in my eye.

“Don’t even think about it Mal, she’s a fine and respectful young girl and needs none of your influence.” He stated with a smirk on his face, as if he had deprived me of a great pleasure.

“Still you can come for one can’t you?” I added in a persuasive tone.

“Well, I can’t go to the Lounge with you, but if you can walk as far as the Workman’s Hovel I shall share a drink with you there”.

So on we went through the wide-open streets that had a dismal amount of people in on place and then as soon as you turned a corner the closeness in proximity to people became so close as to case nausea.

“Why people seem not to spread themselves evenly around this town has always amazed me,” I commented to Jimmy.

We soon came to the Workman’s Hovel, which was on Tendon Street. The street was very narrow and small and the pub was mostly frequented by the lower classes.

The only reasons the Lord went there were: “the cheap ale, the good banter and its on my doorstep” as he would often say.

The Lord did not really care what people said about him, I was actually accustomed to saying the phrase “it is better that everyone has an opinion of the you, good or bad, than no one knowing you at all” when the Lords extravagant behaviour was brought up. The reply as always being “Your no better yourself.”

We entered the dingy, smoky place that although was rough around the edges; had a rural charm that one who has been taken away from the countryside, longs for.

“What’ll it be today sir” inquired the grinning (and most probably drunk) publican from behind the bar.

“Two large Irish Whiskeys and two pints of cider my good man,” said Jimmy.

When he finished his drinks Lord Howdcraft was on his way back home and I decided it was best if I went to the Lounge. Jimmy told me that he would be there at around seven.

I meandered slowly toward the Lounge but it was almost half one before I arrived there. I had decided against taking a cab for the simple reason that I needed some fresh air and yet in complete contradiction to myself I smoked at least ten cigarettes and two of my special Taiwanese cigarettes.

These could have any amount of opium and cannabis inside them and made walking in the cold a lot more bearable.

As I walked into the Hunters Lounge I handed my coat and hat to a pretty young girl who waited at the door. As I was feeling right for some quite contemplation I did not have it announced to the guests that I had arrived, this being the norm in the Lounge. A well-built man with a pale face and small squinting eyes acted as my waiter.

“What’ll it be today sir” he asked in a tired voice as I sat down on a large velvet armchair.

“Eh” I hesitated for a few moments, at which my waiter threw his eyes up to heaven, “I think I shall have a double whiskey, thank you.”

“Anything else sir?” asked the waiter.

“No, thank you.” I replied politely.

Within a few moments I was drinking down my double Whiskey and smoking my special Taiwanese cigarettes. However the smell wafted across the room and before I was even mildly disorderly I was told to ether stop smoking or to leave the premises. I decided that I would leave, it was now only two o’clock and I needed to do something.

I then remembered about an invite to dine with Lord Falford and his wife at their home, I was of course not the only one invited, but I could not remember how many others were coming as well. All I remembered was that the dinner was on at five. I decided then to go home and ready myself for the dinner.

The first thought I had when I got home was to tell Jimmy that I would not be at the Lounge at seven.

I however realized then at half three that I had far too much to drink and to smoke. As I gently fell on my sofa I slipped to one side, the heat from the fireplace made my head heavy. The last thing I remember before drifting away for the night was everything around me slowly melting away.



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