Inferno News 1881

(with thanks to the London Times and various other worthy publications)

*** PEACE DEAL IN FRANCE?   The leaders of Imperial France have reportedly
offered their Revolutionary foes a ceasefire pending negotiations, which
can only be seen as positive by Englishmen sickened by the bloody war
ravaging across our Channel. Whether these overtures were prompted by Lord
Southville's lightning visit to the Imperial Court, or whether by the
recent purge of a handful of high-ranking rebel leaders, who can say.

SQUIDS IN   SquidDance's popularity rages on, on both sides of the
Atlantic, and now it is joined by a new show, SquidDance II: The Power of
the Tentacles. Another Sullivan / Fulbright production, it fits basically
the same format as the earlier show, but is lighter in tone. This one will
run and run... In other news, Mr Sidney Weaver's play Ants and The Man has
gone to America, where it has been received with fully as much bafflement
as here, and God and Anti-God is touring the provinces to mngled
controversy and acclaim. (by our Theatrical Correspondent)

TROUBLE IN RUSSIA   The long honeymoon of the Communist government of
Russia seems to be at an end, with civil unrest spreading throughout the
land. Monarchist sympathies thought long dead, nationalist tendencies in
the farther-flung provinces, disloyalty in the armed forces, logistical
mix-ups, suspicion that the government is divided amongst itself and has
assassinated prominent dissidents, and success by the Turks in Armenia have
all combined to shake the regime which last year looked as secure as any in
Europe. As Mr Karl Marx himself might say, the tensions inherent in a
politico-economic system might take time to express themselves, but express
themselves they eventually will.

IMPERIALS DEFECT   The forces of the French Empire have been hit by
desertions this year, with persistent rumours circulating that their
commanders are a nest of devil-worshippers. This may all seem rather rich
given that the Revolutionary forces are led by General Perisson, about whom
exactly the same things have been said in the past. The independent Khiron
Commission, headed by Mr Ferdinand Lancelot Gaboon, is looking into
allegations of battlefield atrocities, and it is hoped they speedily
achieve results.

FIRST WOMAN LAUREATE   In a break with the centuries-old tradition, the new
Poet Laureate is Mrs Julianne Breca, née Fulbright, a surprise but popular
choice. Mrs Breca, wife of Foreign Office mandarin Sir Kit, is best known
of course as the librettist of SquidDance, and for her 'Poems on the
Omnibus' scheme. Supporters of Mr Rudyard Kipling, the favoured candidate
of many, have described him as 'exceedingly disappointed'. It is thought
that Mrs Breca's recent publication of a volume of romantic odes, inspired
no doubt by her engagement, and a long poem written from the point of view
of a talented but aged artist looking back over his career, tipped Her
Majesty's opinion in her favour.

*** PRUSSIA, EMPIRE INVADE FRANCE   In scenes hitherto unwitnessed on the
fields of Europe, the mighty armies of Prussia and Byzantium have combined
to drive into Alsace. Both Revolutionary and Imperial French forces have
recoiled before them, and quite what is going on here is anybody's guess -
with propaganda offices one day saying the invaders seek to restore the
Emperor, the next saying they are aiding the Revolution. With Kaiser
Wilhelm currently spending some time away from Berlin on holiday, seasoned
Teuton-watchers are hazarding guesses that Chancellor von Essen's grip on
power is firmer than ever - particularly with the recent expulsion of the
Kaiser's mysterious French lady-friend from Court.

WARRANT OUT FOR ROSS   Rogue politico Sir Derek Ross, who fled the country
nigh on a decade since with corruption charges pending against him, is now
the subject of a manhunt in the Far Eastern colonies, suspected of
responsibility for the plague of vampirism that has been causing such
trouble in those parts. Lord Southville's initiative against them was this
year led by Mr Tamworth-Smith and Sir William Bang, and the troops have now
cleared our colonies of the blood-sucking foe - although there was one
tragic incident, at a small village called My Lai, when over a hundred
innocent locals were killed under the impression that they were vampires.

DARKENFORD NETS ANOTHER PRINCESS   Mr Peter Darkenford, whose first wife
Princess Amalie of France died tragically giving birth to their son, has
now laid aside his mourning to wed again, this time to the Spanish Infanta
Maria, younger sister of Crown Prince Ferdinand. Mr Darkenford, whose
French home was this year the target of a vicious attack by French
revolutionary partisans aided by mercenaries and a troop of mysterious
armour-clad knights, is now in the fortunate position of being the
brother-in law of one monarch and the son-in-law of another.

STONE THE CROWS   Disgraced inventor Mr William Stone, whose Stone Wave
devices have seriously endangered the health and happiness of the entire
nation, is seeking to win his way back into the public's good graces with
the Stone Initiative, an appeal to the government to invest more in
teaching and education in rural areas to help the young plan for their
years ahead. Very fine sentiments, Mr Stone, but thanks to your
life-jeopardizing inventions they probably have rather fewer years ahead to
plan for.

VENI, VIDI, BICCI   Mysterious Florentine widow Signora Carlotta di Bicci
hosted the finest parties in Italy last year, with the King and members of
the Government among the many notable guests. Signora di Bicci, an investor
in the tourism and film industries who has been in secluded mourning for
the last two decades, is well connected with our Green friends, having one
of them as a son-in-law: her half-human, half-Green grandchild, a strapping
young lad / squid, is a fine advertisement for the rewards of cooperation
between the two species.

*** AUTOMATON MENACE: ALL BECOMES CLEAR   At last the puzzle of France is
cleared up, with Prussian, Byzantine and British forces combining with both
kinds of Frenchman to attack an army of automatic clockwork men, lurking in
the Massif Central. Who is responsible for the construction of these
menacing items, nobody seems to know, but we can be confident that the
might of European military technology will not take long to clean them out.

GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY   In a development that has baffled seasoned
Orient-Express-watchers up and down Europe, the continent's best-loved
luxury train has disappeared. It entered the Simplon tunnel, on its way
from Switzerland into Italy, and developed engine trouble. The passengers
were evacuated back along the line to Brig, and while they awaited the
arrival of workers to repair the engine, the train simply vanished from
within the tunnel, along with driver Mr Harold Cleghorne.

IT-FILMS REGENERATED   The Italian film industry, devastated by the
anti-Stone Wave backlash, has revitalized this year with its adoption of
Lord Maguire's hitherto-despised Cinema-to-Graph technology. Lord Maguire
has entered into partnership with film mogul Signora di Bicci, producing
among other delights a spectacular about his lordship's recent visit to
Mars, starring the talented young British-American actor Mr Charles
Chaplin. The scene where Maguire, having crashed into the remote Martian
canal, is forced to eat his own boots is worth the price of admission by
itself, such is the giddy mix of pathos, wonder and humour.

*** AUTOMATA SMASHED, HUMANITY SAFE   We can all breathe again, thanks to
the prompt and effective action of the leaders of Europe. France is even
more of a blighted wilderness than it was this time last year, but at least
we are not all set to be murdered in our beds by cunning clockwork fiends.
Three cheers for Chancellor von Essen, Emperor Constantine and Lord

A LETTER TO THE EDITOR   "Sir, I must protest in the strongest terms
against the libellous and fanciful allegations that have been levelled
against the noble Order of the Poor Knights of Christ and the Temple of
Solomon. These are ludicrous fabrications and an attempt to divert the
attention of the faithful away from the dreadful events of these Last Days.
I would not be surprised if they were not the work of the same scurrilous
rumourmongers who accused the very Archbishop's chaplain of participating
in a Black Mass the other year. I say to you, forget this nonsense and look
to the purity of your own hearts lest they be found wanting on Judgement
Day! Beware the Beast! Yours faithfully, Sir Parsifal von Schwartzlich."
The Editor responds: do something about the plank in your own eye, 'Sir
Parsifal', before you seek to draw our attention about the mote in ours.
Why this secrecy as to your location and identity, if you have nothing to

FREE SCHOOLS FOR ITALY   After last year's introduction of a nationwide
healthcare system, the Italian government has now pioneered free education
for all the country's children to the age of 16, with means-tested grants
for those who wish to study further. Quite how the public purse is paying
for all this remains something of a mystery, but the Italian economy is
likely to prosper mightily with a healthy, well-educated workforce. Lord
Southville has promised that similar measures will be in place in this
country by the turn of the century: the nation waits to see whether he can

ORIENT EXPRESS REAPPEARS, 'SABRE' BLAMED   In a baffling twist to the
Orient Express story, the train has now reappeared within the Simplon
tunnel, safe and well, after an absence of nearly a fortnight. Driver Mr
Harold Cleghorne, also safe and well, insisted that the masked vigilante
known as 'Sabre' was to blame: apparently the well-known criminal savagely
attacked him while the train waited in the tunnel, and he knew no more.

MOIRA IS SAVIOUR'S SISTER   Yes, the plucky Irish lass has completely
convinced this correspondent, at least, that she is none other than the
incarnation of Rachel bar Joseph, sister of Jesus Christ. In an extensive
interview she satisfied all of my doubts. As a result, this will is the
last column I will be writing for you: I am leaving The Times to preach
Rachel's gospel to the heathens of South America. (by our recently-resigned
Religious Correspondent)

HONOURS ALL ROUND   Prime Minister Lord Southville has taken the
opportunity of the Birthday Honours to reward some of those who have served
Britain well. Prominent women's rights agitator Lady Catherine
Trippinghurst is granted an Earldom in her own right; war hero Captain
Jonathon Hazelmere, recipient of the Victoria Cross, is elevated to the
peerage; and so is noted private investigator Miss Charity Wells, althogh
quite what she has done to merit such recognition is by no means apparent.
Lord Southville has also taken the opportunity to reshuffle his Cabinet,
replacing Sir Hugh Janus with prominent NWO leader Lord Hamilton as Foreign
Secretary, and appointing promising newcomer Mr William Tamworth-Smith, who
has quietly risen to leadership of the influential Munday Club of
back-bench MPs, to the long-vacant post of Home Secretary. Cynics are
speculating that Lord Southville is trying to stuff the House of Lords as
full as he can of 'Charlie's Cronies', in case he wishes to pass any more
controversial legislation.

RED DUST PHENOMENON STRIKES AGAIN   This year London, Paris, Munich, Venice
and a number of Martian towns suffered the curious 'rain of red dust'
phenomenon seen at Bicester last year, which has so baffled meteorologists.

MARTIAN EMBASSIES   Britain and Italy have established embassies on Mars,
now that the capability to reach our neighbour planet has been perfected.
Cultural exchanges, and gifts of the best of Earthly art and craft, have
been the order of the day. "I shall keep this brief, ladies and gentlemen,
as we have important work to complete. All I would like to say at this
historic moment is that  am honoured to be of service to both these proud
countries as they extend the hand of friendship between planets. I would
also like to take this opportunity to thank Signora di Bicci, for without
her vision and commitment, no such feat would be possible." So spake Lord
Maguire, as he accompanied the embassies aboard the MaryAlice II.

SITUATION VACANT   The Times seeks a new Religious Correspondent -
journalistic experience ideal, vehement atheism essential if you are to
retain this challenging post.

A LETTER TO THE EDITOR   "Dear Sir, From my experiments with grafted apple
stock, and the transplantation of limbs and organs, I have come to the
conclusion that a transplanted plant or animal is, obviously, no less alive
because one branch or ear or whatever is not its own - in the same way that
a human with spectacles or a wooden leg is no less human. What difference a
mechanical leg (as proposed by Captain Hazlemere)? Or an entire mechanical
body, with a mechanical mind inside! What defines a living being - the
ability to feed, to move, to grow, to reproduce? A mechanical creature
could be capable of all these - in ways that may seem strange to us, no
doubt, but the ways of the clam and the ant and the apple tree seem strange
to us, too, and no one would say they are less alive. Indeed, a mechanical
being with the gift of rational thought might be considered more alive than
these simple creatures - the equal of humankind itself!! Yours faithfully,
Mr Charles Darwin." The Editor responds: or alternatively it might be
considered a nightmarish clockwork menace.

NEW DETECTIVE AGENCY   This booming industry continues to thrive, with a
new agency opened by Mr Ferdinand Lancelot Gaboon, proprietor of the famed
Flying Circus.

PRINCESS TO WED?   Persistent rumours circulating in the tiny state of
Liechtenstein hint that its beauteous Princess Arabella is to wed next
year, with favoured candidate for groom being the enigmatic inventor Comte

WORSE THAN THE DISEASE?   Hamilton Industries has launched another new
automatic man, the Tock1911, an improved version of last year's Tock1900
hunter-killer automaton. It is designed to scour France for renegade
automata, despatching them with a cheery "Au revoir, mon cheri". A few have
also been given to Lord Southville to help deal with the vampire menace in

 'COLOSSUS' UNVEILED   Enigmatic inventor Comte Bertrand has revealed his
greatest creation yet, the giant steam man known as The Colossus - towering
over London, it can swim, walk and fly through air or space, with a crew of
over 100, and is large enough to carry all his previous steam creations in
its arms without undue effort.

WEAVER SNEAKS IN   The by-election for the seat of Putney, vacant after the
death of Sir Magnus Munday, has seen a surprise victory for Equity
candidate Mr Sidney Weaver, playwright, reformer and slayer of Count
Dracula, who conducted a determined 'below-stairs' campaign and garnered
the bulk of the vote of the numerous servants and menials of this
prosperous area. This result may well cause other Tory MPs who thought
themselves safe to look over their shoulders. Mr Weaver has wasted no time,
assuming the leadership of the Equity group in Parliament and appointing a

TRANSPORT OF DELIGHT   The Marquess of Salisbury has unveiled the largest
private carriage ever to be seen on the streets of London, pulled by a team
of eight horses. Remarkable for the six large black boxes fastened around
its sides, the carriage has great difficulty turning in some of the city's
narrower streets, but with the Marquess being the leader of society that he
is, we can be sure everyone will want one just the same.

CITY UNDER THE SEA   Noted public benefactor Lord Armstrong has constructed
an underwater habitation, named 'Britanis', at an undisclosed location
beneath the North Sea, suitable for the indefinite maintenance of life.

BABIES ALL ROUND   Lady Athena Chelmsford has been delivered of a healthy
girl baby, and in a unrelated development Baroness von Poelzig has given
birth to a son.

KING, PRINCESS TO MARRY - EACH OTHER   In a move that has surprised even
seasoned Munich-watchers, young King Paul of Bavaria has announced that in
the New Year he is to marry his own twin sister, Princess Perdita. This
unlikely (and illegal in most countries) match is made all the stranger by
the fact that the royal couple are only ten years old. One hesitates to say
it, but given that their father King Otto was renowned for the delicate
balance of his mental temperament, blood may be starting to tell. What a
relief for us that our own dear Queen was sensible enough to marry her
first cousin, not that she had any brothers anyway of course.

RECENT PUBLISHED WORK   "There's a little woman poet to the south of
Hampstead Heath / And that she should be our Laureate is quite beyond
belief / ..." (from The Eye of the Little Yellow God: Or, Envious, Me?, by
Mr Rudyard Kipling)

MORE BOMBS ON MOON   Moon Base Alpha has been dogged by security worries,
with several of its buildings destroyed by explosion. A purge and clampdown
are now under way, announced spokesmen for Comte Bertrand's Steam Inc

RESPECTED ENTERTAINER KILLED   The Honourable Auberon Wylde, Master of
Obfuscation, prestidigitator to the crowned heads of Europe, has been found
dead at his home in the former St George's Church, Limehouse. Mr Wylde has
been ripped limb from limb, as though by some savage beast, and the
manuscript of the novel he was working on, entitled Sarah through the
Looking-Glass, was rammed down his throat. His scientific laboratory had
been completely destroyed. Police confess themselves baffled.

BOOTH SCANDAL   "Yes, 'General' William Booth, founder of the
holier-than-thou Salvation Army, has a secret skeleton in his closet. The
Ham & High has learned from a close childhood friend that Booth was not
always such a 'saint' as he now portrays himself. When at Harrow School,
aged 14, 'Wicked William' once received half an hour's detention for
'accidentally' breaking a window in the refectory! And this is the man who
tried to lecture us on whether we can drink alcohol or not!" (from the
Hampstead & Highgate Gazette)

EQUITY FOR ALL   Mr Giuliano d'Aventine, tireless proponent of the
Universal Equity movement, has announced an international conference to be
held in Geneva next year, as well as conducting a speaking tour at which he
spoke compellingly of the necessity for Equity principles to be embraced
everywhere, stressing that this must be achieved by peaceful change rather
than revolution. Given that the vaguest notion of democracy is still alien
to most of the governments of Europe, one cannot but feel that Mr
d'Aventine has some way to go before his dream is realized.

NAVAL GAZING FOR ITALIANS   The Italian navy, long the joke of the
Mediterranean, is to be expanded and modernized under a new initiative of
Minister of War Giuliano d'Aventine.

AN ADVERTISEMENT   "Man can travel to the stars and the depths of the
ocean, however for the first time man can leave the confines of the
underwater vessel and walk freely, von Giffard brings you the Triton suit,
man can become at one with fish."

AN ADVERTISEMENT   " "Now I will believe / That there are unicorns, that in
Arabia / There is one tree, the phoenix' throne, one phoenix / At this hour
reigning there". And so from the flames of the Pegasus rises the Phoenix, a
passenger Heavier than Air Craft, God bless all who sail in her."

GIFFARD KEEPS BUSY   Noted inventor and philanthropist Mr Henri von Giffard
has had a productive year, rolling out an underwater suit and also
developing his Pegasus heavier-than-air craft concept into a much larger
passenger model called the Phoenix. A large chunk of the profits from this
venture will go to the Pegasus Foundation, which has already done so much
good for the poor of Prussia.

RELIEF FROM EQUITY   Mr Sidney Weaver, leader of the Equity group of MPs,
has announced a new relief effort for those affected by the release of
weapons of mass destruction, particularly in France. This charitable
endeavour has received generous support from kind folk all across Europe.

A WHOLE NEW BALL GAME   Players and spectators alike at the recent friendly
football match between Christian Rovers and Greyfriars School were amazed
to see Rovers' creative GOC midfielder ThT&u pick up the ball in his
tentacles and run to the far end of the pitch, swerving past defenders with
a shimmy of his numerous hips, to score an 'effort'. Bemusement was soon
replaced by enthusiasm, and the new sport of 'Squidby' is now catching on
like wildfire.

*** NATION MOURNS PRINCE OF WALES   Prince Bertie, as all his parents'
subjects knew him, died in a tragic hunting accident in Yorkshire. Becoming
separated from the rest of the hunt, he tumbled from his horse, being
unlucky enough to land on a carelessly-placed pitchfork and then to roll
into a water-filled ditch. Valiant attempts to revive His Highness,
valiantly led by the Right Reverend Reverend Wright who was on the same
hunt, proved in vain. Tragic Princess Kathy, devastated in mourning, has
placed young Prince Georgie, now heir to the throne, in the care of beloved
family friend the Archbishop of Canterbury for his tutoring and raising.

NEW MESSIAH - IT'S OFFICIAL   Representatives of the three united churches,
speaking for 90% of the world's Christians, have examined the new Messiah
and concluded that he is 'the real thing'. "All Christians should repent
and turn their eyes towards Jesus, who shall be visiting this land under
Christian protection some time in the near future," announced the
Archbishop of Canterbury. "Tear down your false idols of technology and
democracy, abase yourself before God along with your fellow faithful, GOCs,
Militia of the Lamb, Church authorities and the Royal family, reject those
in the press, politics, workplace, your own family which try to dissuade
you, false prophets and blasphemers the lot of them," he added. Religious
hysteria is too mild a term for the scenes which greeted this announcement,
with up and down Europe previously sensible people renouncing the ways of
the flesh and heaping their heads with ashes. The Pope has called for a
mass pilgrimage to Jerusalem, echoed by Patriarch Photios. Here the feeling
is that the Messiah speaks with an English accent, and the new hymn "He's
coming home, he's coming home, he's coming... Jesus's coming home" has been
heard at every church up and down the land.

SHAMAN HOLIDAY   Mrs Aramintha Savage, proprietress of the noted special
school (which this year gained the Green ambassador YuT#ng as one of its
governors) has invited a group of South American shamans to visit with her
in Buckinghamshire, where their outlandish feathered head-dresses and the
discs inserted into their lips have not failed to spark discussion among
the locals.

MORIARTY MIGHT   Professor Moriarty, ruler of the West African utopian
state of Accra, has increased that realm's armed forces to near advanced
European levels, and been proclaimed Generalissimmo.

JESUS IS MALE AND FEMALE SHOCK   The new Messiah, in one of his more
intriguing pronouncements, has declared that he contains within himself
both male and female nature, and so in a very real sense can be considered
the Daughter of God as well as the Son - and thus his own sister. This
updating of the Trinity for a modern gender-egalitarian age has been hailed
by women's rights campaigners.

SOCIAL REFORMS PRESS ON   Lord Hamilton, that tireless campaigner, has been
adding art galleries, theatres and other stimulating things to his urban
developments, hitherto characterized by rather more mindless forms of
entertainment. "I was much moved by Mr Weaver's play God and Anti-God,"
explained his lordship. "If we are to give our people any comfort we must
have a care to set their souls free from the machine; not tie them to it.
Material comfort is nothing without the chance to develop the spirit." Amen
to that! says The Times.

*** MESSIAH MARTYRED ONCE MORE   The new Messiah, sent by God to bear away
all our sins, has been killed in Jerusalem. Onlookers described how a look
of ineffable peace came over her features, her hands dropped into her lap,
and she whispered "Father, they know exactly what they're doing!", then a
shimmering human shape materialized out of the clouds in front of her and
hewed her head off with a big shiny sword. The Messiah's body turned
instantly to dust, which drifted up to Heaven. Quite what all this means to
the Christian faith is still being hotly debated by theologians. Rumours
that a small group of Knights Templar were seen in the area can only add to
the suspicion surrounding this shadowy Order.

TAMING THE THUNDER USA-STYLE   New technological developments in America
have seen industrial pioneers Messrs Cadillac, Chevrolet and Chrysler
establishing new plants up and down the East Coast for the purpose of
'harvesting the lightning'. Using the British ThunderTrap design, lightning
storms are captured and stored, so that the lightning can be released when
needed, particularly helpful for processes such as welding and refining
metal. The process also has the benefit of distracting electrical storms
away from cities.

DEATH BY CHOCOLATE   Tragedy struck this year at Mr Gaboon's famous
chocolate facto
ry, with over a hundred orphans being accidentally poisoned by a spoilt
batch of sweeties. "I have no idea how it happened," said the clearly
distraught owner.

SALVAGE OPPORTUNITIES   The new Mecca for salvage businesses is the central
African city of G'harne, where recent rumours tell that large deposits of
assorted metals are to be found lying about or close below the surface. The
scrap-dealers of the world are converging on the site.

LUNATIC ESCAPES   Residents of Epsom and the surrounding area are warned to
be on the lookout for lunatic Miss Sarah Savage, who has escaped from the
Coltrane Institute, killing several warders on her way out. Police have
indicated that she is likely to be extremely violent and dangerous,
particularly around the time of full moon.

GOING OFF WITH A BANG   Midsummer night in Hyde Park saw the biggest
firework display ever witnessed in Britain, courtesy of Sir William Bang,
who generously provided food, shelter and entertainment. Members of the
Royal Family and the Government were in attendance, and were heard to cry
"Oooh!" with the best of them.

NAUGHTY OR NICE   This Christmas thousands of children across the country
were surprised to wake up to find that Santa Claus had brought them an
extra gift, in the shape of a tiny pet gremlin-looking creature. By Boxing
Day parents up and down the land were tearing their hair out at the
creatures' mischievous antics, but the children certainly love them, and
they seem innocent enough, for all their naughty ways.

NORTH YORKSHIRE GOC-FREE ZONE   The Greens are not welcome everywhere, and
the area around Langley in Yorkshire is being kept well clear of them by
the bully-boy antics of a group of armed thugs. The Times can only condemn
such intolerance in the strongest terms. Italy, too, has seen anti-Green
agitation this year, and newspapers (not this one, it must be said) have
been carrying anonymous adverts with repugnant slogans such as "You can't
even trust the government, so why trust the GOC?", "Keep Earth for the
Earthlings" and "What're slimy and get up your nose? Greeners!"

Britain woke today to find itself under military government, Parliament
ousted and Her and His Majesty, the three Princesses and little Prince
Georgie seized and whisked out of the country. "This measure was necessary
in view of the Government's incompetence in the face of threats from the
Continent," said Field-Marshal Lawe, spokesman for the new military regime.
Is it that simple to overturn eight centuries of Parliamentary democracy?
asks The Times. It would appear so, as very little has actually changed for
the man on the street, and the coup has been near-bloodless in its
execution. So far...