That morning, Silus Splendid had received his cheque in exchange for helping a man sue his employer, Mr. Arnold Gregory. Gregory was a major business consultant who Silus considered to be somewhat of a rival. He claimed to be "ethical". He claimed to do things "by the book". It made Silus's stomach turn. All those things meant was that Gregory was on the side of the faceless corporations who every day trod their inferiors into the dirt. Silus's ways may have been unorthodox, devious, and may even send him to Hell one day. But he'd be damned if he ever had to see another underdog kicked to the dirt while an already powerful-beyond-belief man added another shilling to his empire. Not if Silus could help it.
He felt so good he decided to take an air carriage downtown for a drink. He had drink at home, sure, but at home he didn't have the opportunity to show everyone else how pleased he was with himself. And if Silus Splendid was anything, he was pleased with himself.
The streets were bustling. Glistening black and gold cars chugged past, expelling steam at an alarming rate, taking the working folk to and from the city. In the distance, the airships were dipping over the rooftops, pulling in to dock for the night. And the air carriages were starting to dribble into the stream of traffic as London's night life began to wake.
They were impressive and relatively new contraptions that the city council had opted to introduce at peak social hours, to reduce how many rum-riddled, droopy-eyed cretins would veer their automobiles onto the footpaths and into the sides of buildings in the small hours. It was also a poor attempt at keeping the vulnerable off the streets when the sun went down, to give them a more secure means of returning home that didn't run the risk of being stabbed and raped and bleeding out on the cobblestones. Which was always nice.
Air carriages were towed by a single horse, the colour of which indicated how expensive the cab ride would be. White was usually the most expensive, with brown being the most affordable. A single or double compartment was then hoisted into the air by a large canvas balloon, which usually stated the name of the cab company. The driver perched above the compartment, steering the horse. Almost of littler value than the horse itself, Silus often remarked.
He stepped into the street, waving a hand to flag down the first carriage that came into view. The white horse whinnied and was pulled to a stop.
"Evening, old chap, how much to the Penny Farthing? It's a little watering hole down by -" Silus froze, his eyes falling on the carriage driver's face. "Warren? Warren Meriwether?"
Warren's cheeks flared with shame as Silus stepped on board the air carriage's one-man compartment, balancing in the doorway on his toes and stretching up to address him, a most amused and intrigued look on his face.
"Well, well, well! Isn't this an odd turn of events?" Silus said with a toothy grin.
"No," Warren snapped. "It isn't. Not at all. Considering how long your two.... psychopathic goons are taking, I've had to take this humiliating job just so I can pay my debts. The bank already came to my house. They took my gold octopus."
Silus made a face. "Did you want a gold octopus?"
Warren screwed up his face in confusion and defeat. Beyond naming her Betsy and polishing her once on the day she was bought, he'd never developed any emotional attachment to the ornament. "I - no."
"What are you whinging about then? My 'psychopathic goons' - and by the way, if they ever hear you call them that, you won't have a hand or a penis left to wank with - are, in fact, professionals, and your interests are in good hands. In the meantime, chop chop! You're taking me downtown, cabbie, and I will be availing of the friends-and-family discount." Silus ducked inside the compartment and shut the door.
Warren grumbled to himself as he shook the horse's reins and they pulled out into the hissing and clapping stream of cars and carriages.
I hope she suffers, he found himself musing. He no longer just wanted her death. He ached for her suffering, her torture, her burning in the fiery depths of the next life. Where her and all other abominations like her belonged.
In the meantime, he experienced a splatter of brown sludge across the side of his face as a carriage sped past him, its chestnut pulling-horse kicking up a mound of dung with its back hoofs.