The Demons of Constantinople – Snippet 41
Joe was out today, almost on a day off. He was patrolling the Bosporus Straits and grabbing some snacks, instead of sitting at the docks of Constantinople, waiting for Pucorl to need a ride. As part of the deal, he had a crew of five officials of the Constantinople bureau of tariffs.
They were approaching a galley showing a Genoese flag. And Joe had a bad feeling. Suddenly a rain of arrows shot from the galley and three of them hit his decking. They hurt.
Squid aren’t particularly aggressive. In truth, they are shy and retiring creatures. But Joe wasn’t a squid. Joe was a kraken. And, as of this moment, Joe was a pissed off kraken.
As the customs agents made for his cabin, Joe, using jet and tentacles, maneuvered his stern to face the galley and reached out with his tentacles. Grabbing oars and jerking, he pulled and used that pull to lift his stern out of the water, and then reached up with his tentacles and grabbed the port sidewall of the galley and pulled it down.
The galley wasn’t designed for that. It flipped, pouring sailors into the drink, and shoving Joe’s bow below the surface. Then Joe had to work to keep from sinking himself.
Joe knew he wasn’t supposed to eat people. But it did seem a horrible waste, watching the crew of the galley sink into the Bosporus and drown. He’d be eating if he could, but he had specific orders on the subject, and demons are under the control of the owner of their vessels. So, however much the waste, he could not eat the crew of the galley. He did use his built-in crystal set to call Pucorl and complain about unreasonable restrictions.
Pucorl got Joe’s call while he was in his netherworld lands, and he had a thought. Two ideas. First, he sent back to Joe Kraken, Grab a couple and put them on the deck. See if you can revive them.
Once Joe had done that, he called Joe to him.
Pucorl’s lands were on the edge of the Elysian Fields, which — among other things — meant that Pucorl had a coast. It wasn’t much of a coast, a few hundred yards long, over on the other side of the garage from the dryad’s grove. But Pucorl had reshaped the land into a dock after he got Joe. Until now, he had never had any cause to call Joe to his part of the netherworld.
Annabelle was in her office with Royce, looking at a steam cart design. It wouldn’t be anything like Pucorl, but Annabelle insisted that it would be better than the ones they were making in Paris. More importantly, this one would be designed based on the US Army WWII jeep, and it would be used by Bertrand’s army.
It wouldn’t be like it was back in the world. Mass production didn’t exist. Each jeep would be handmade, and each and every one would need a demon to make it work, because they couldn’t make spark plugs or distributor caps, at least not yet.
If they got ten of the things built this year, they would be pulling off a miracle. That wasn’t the only thing they were working on. The twenty-firsters were introducing as much as they could of the tools to build the tools to start an industrial revolution.
Not only steam engines. Steam hammers and drop hammers, powered by wind and water. There was a master ironsmith working with the twenty-firsters to build a Bessemer forge as soon as they figured out what a Bessemer forge was.
Bill Howe was working with the Constantinople city guard on developing a department of detectives, who would investigate the rare crime where the perpetrators weren’t known from the outset, and finding the perps when they went to ground. Something that was mostly not done in this day and age.
“Annabelle, we have guests,” Pucorl told her.
She came out of her office with its drafting table and asked, “What’s up?”
Pucorl opened his driver’s side door. “Come have a look.”
Sergios looked up in shock. They were no longer in the sea off Constantinople. They were in hell. A quiet corner of hell, but hell nonetheless. Looking out from the quiet little cove they had arrived in, they saw waves seeming to raise a mile into the sky, shifting from blue to green to blood red, then to some color that no human eye should ever see. And within the water, Sergios could see monsters of every imaginable shape. Worse, the monsters didn’t stay one shape, but shifted in the blink of an eye from fish to bird to crab to something that looked like it was wearing its stomach on the outside.
“Calm down,” Joe Kraken said over the speakers in the cabin. “Pucorl will be here shortly, and these are his lands. The waves will not enter his cove. I know they are strange to you, but they are quite orderly and pleasant by netherworld standards.”
This is orderly? Sergios thought in horror.
Then the magical van drove out onto the dock and a door opened. The young woman they knew to be Pucorl’s friend, mistress, or something, got out and quickly leapt across to Joe’s deck. She ignored the customs agents, and went to the two men who were lying on the deck. Quickly checking the first, she flipped him onto his stomach and started pressing on his back. Water poured from his mouth and more, then he started breathing and coughing.
She moved to the next, and though she got the water, at least some of it, from his lungs, he didn’t start to breathe. So she flipped him on his back and started CPR. She kept it up for two minutes before finally giving up.
Several dryads came to the dock, picked him up, and took him away.
It took awhile to get everyone calmed down, especially the Genoese sailor who was the second officer of the galley. He was convinced that he was dead and in Purgatory.
“Not so. You’re not dead, and you’re in the Elysian Fields, not Purgatory. You can even return to the world of the living . . . if you tell us what we need to know,” Pucorl told him.