Subsubsection: Saturday 12 July 1930 Up Section: Soho Subsubsection: Sunday 13 July 1930 

5 July 2017 (An Inordinate Fondness for Beetles)

The group knocks at the first door, hears a squawking sound, and enters. There’s a large bird, perhaps four feet long and mostly horizontal in orientation, perching inside; it squawks at them in what seems to be communication rather than threat, but they’re unable to establish any sort of common language. Milly and Audrey look out of the window to see forest tops far below; this building seems to be a tower. The room also contains a latrine area and a supply of food; there’s a courtesy lock on the inside of the door, not the outside.
Other rooms contain other birds of different types; one of them’s picking at some rotting meat, but it doesn’t appear to be human-shaped. Looking out of one of the end windows shows another tower in the distance.
Up to the next floor, the light’s rather dimmer, apparently emanating from fungus on the walls; it’s warm and humid, smelling of rot, and the group feels light-headed for a few moments. There are no windows, but towards one end is a clothed skeleton with a few scraps of flesh; there’s no obvious sign of damage to the bones. Gertrude goes through the pockets and finds a watch, notebook, and some other items.
Opening a door (with rounded corners) leads to a large insect rushing at the group, mandibles forward; Lin Tan manages to get it closed before the creature reaches them, and it doesn’t try to get out. As the group’s planning to head further up, Milly notices a small beetle crawling over her shoe; she catches it and puts it in a tobacco-tin.
The next floor has a dim greenish light, and windows that look out into a lively jungle, somewhere between canopy and jungle floor; a four-foot moth flies past. The doors are single pieces of mother-of-pearl. When the group opens a door, a lizard looks round at them, pushes its spectacles up its snout, and makes some gestures; the magic swirls round it, and all the group feel pressure on their minds. Lin Tan is the only one who succumbs, and she finds herself in conversation with the creature (which seems to be speaking good Cantonese). (Later, Gertrude and Milly join in; Gertrude hears it speaking her own form of Romani, while Milly hears it in cultured English.) After some establishing of basics (and great restraint on its part as it tries to resist the obvious comparisons with the monkeys it knows), it explains that this is a hospital (it’s waiting while its left forearm regrows), and it seems to have become connected to a great many other hospitals (hundreds, it thinks, and the order moves around). Mention of Aubrey and untrained magic does seem to worry it, and it suggests that some training would be a really good idea. It does have their “companion”, but it had to “stop” her because she was screaming too much.
It opens a cupboard and lifts out a woman in nurse’s uniform, frozen in mid-scream, then “starts” her again; Gertrude and Milly catch and reassure her, and they head back down, Milly releasing the beetle back on its own floor.
When they get back to familiar territory, the matron’s waiting; the nurse is fed hot sweet tea, and the group describes some of what’s going on (and hands over the watch and other things, which were indeed the orderly’s). The matron is willing to believe them, but can’t release Aubrey against the wishes of his family without some sort of medical order.
Milly and Gertrude talk with Aubrey, who writes a letter to his regular doctor (Mr Farquharson of Harley Street) to explain the situation; his lawyer’s the family lawyer, but he gives details in case the group can find a rival. He asks for a set of Shakespeare’s plays if they can’t get him out reasonably soon.
The group heads back to the inn to sleep.
 Subsubsection: Saturday 12 July 1930 Up Section: Soho Subsubsection: Sunday 13 July 1930