Carl's DiaryCousin Shelley
I aggravated Van Helsing yesterday, again. Note to self: Keep up the good work.
I didn’t mean to, at least not in the beginning. Let’s just say, Diary, that if aggravating him yesterday had been one of my experiments, it would have been a smashing success. And I would repeat it many, many times in the name of science, of course, to make sure the end result could be duplicated.
It all started with a small black powder device I created in the hopes of making a self-detonating explosive device. A device that gives the user more control over the detonation, unlike my brilliant Glycerin, which is admittedly just a tiny bit unstable. Even a large bump can set it off, which has proven unfortunate on more than one occasion, to say the least. Brother Caleb’s eyebrows never have grown back in properly. He now only really has one, on the left, and I find its shape rather alarming. It looks like a small rat near his nose with a very long tail that runs out to the side of his face. I think he should shave it off and hope for something better next time. He thinks I should do things he cannot say out loud, if his glare is any indication. I told him I was working on a tonic for hair growth that might help his eyebrows, and then I pointed out that it might help the problems he seems to be having with his hair (very dry scalp or some kind of itch, I think) that make him constantly run his fingers through it and tug on it like he wants to get it off his head. Maybe it’s some sort of mental problem, or strange self-destructive compulsion. I’m not sure I could help him with that.
Anyway, I got off the subject, Diary. My black powder device. It’s about the size of large ball that you could hold in one palm. I won’t go into the details of its inner workings because I have those notes already written, in the lab.
Van Helsing hadn’t seen it before, because as you know I like to keep my creations to myself until they’re in a somewhat presentable state. As it happened, I wasn’t yet finished with it and really didn’t want anyone to see it yet, when Van Helsing walked up behind me in the lab. I had just polished the brass to a fine glow.
“Carl, that’s gorgeous,” he said, taking it from me without asking. He does that.
“Thank you, but I—“
“What is it?”
“It’s nothing; I’m not finished with it yet.”
“The engraving is really beautiful, Carl, as usual.”
He smiled at me then. I’ve told you before what that does to me.
“Thank you,” I said and then reached for it, which of course prompted him to hold it above his head and pretend he wasn’t going to give it to me. Which makes me reach higher for it and then my body bumps against his. You and I have talked about that before, too.
“Have you finished the modifications we’d talked about?”
I was supposed to be modifying the grappling gun so that it could be easily retrieved after use. Van Helsing thought that would be a good idea. I thought it was hellishly unnecessary, but I’m happy to try to give him what he asks for.
“So you’ve been doing this instead?” he asked.
“And it does . . .?”
“Nothing.” Now Diary, I know that wasn’t true. But I wasn’t even sure it would work, so I hated to say what it should do and have it fail in front of Van Helsing later. You know how I am about that.
“So it’s just . . . beautiful?”
“Well, yes. It’s . . . just for decoration,” I said, agreeing
with him. I could tell he wasn’t really worried about the grappling
gun. He knew I’d finish the modifications, if they were possible,
before we had to leave again. He was just teasing me.
“Van Helsing, you really shouldn’t do that.”
He tossed it again, and I still didn’t faint. It wasn’t that he was in any danger. He wasn’t. I didn’t even have powder in the device at the time. But I couldn’t help thinking that given how well the man knew me, and how he knew that some of things I created really shouldn’t be tossed into the air, that he must have—
“HAVE YOU TAKEN A DAMNED LEAVE OF YOUR DAMNED SENSES?” I shouted. I wouldn’t have written that in all capitals for a normal shout, either. I probably sounded like I was about to turn hysterical.
He looked at me like I was already there. And then he realized what he’d done.
I have never seen Van Helsing’s eyes look quite so dark. And it wasn’t that they got darker, Diary, but his skin faded to a strange pale shade I don’t think I’ve seen before.
“Carl . . . did I almost, maybe . . . blow myself up? Because that’s not really just for decoration? And for some reason, you didn’t tell me? Carl?”
I put the device in a safe drawer and started backing up. “You should know better than—“
Van Helsing managed to go just a little paler. He whispered, “Did that thing have Glycerin 48—“
“Oh my God, no! I would have told you!”
He only looked at me.
“But there wasn’t any in it at the time.”
“Then why, Carl, did you shout like a maniac?”
“Because you should have known better than to just grab something of mine and manhandle it!”
He looked at me again, only he was suddenly much less pale. He looked down at the floor for a moment, then back at me, up at the ceiling, back at me, then the palm of his hand for a minute before he looked at me again.
“Well, yes,” I said.
“Do you have any Glycerin or black powder anywhere on your person at the moment, Carl?”
“No,” I answered, frowning in confusion.
“No . . . explosive devices?”
And, Diary, he was starting to laugh as he said it, and he actually glanced down my body. You know what I’m talking about I hope, because I’m not comfortable writing it. I’ll just whisper it. Okay, I whispered it.
I could feel myself starting to tremble just a little bit, in disbelief that Van Helsing was saying what I thought he was saying. But he was!
And I found myself playing along. “I’m not sure . . . maybe. But nothing that will go off . . . unexpectedly.” I covered my mouth with my hand then, because I was so surprised at the entire conversation, and looked around nervously. No one was near enough to hear, thank goodness.
“So if I grabbed you and manhandled you, that would be all right.”
IT WASN’T A QUESTION, DIARY. He said it, and lurched toward me, and just instinctively I ran like a child about to punished, even though, if I had been given the option to run or stay and be “manhandled” you and I both know I’d have happily held my ground.
He ran after me, like we were playing a childhood game. And this has nothing to do with my actual story, but I discovered today that when we ran out past Brother Caleb, he assumed we were running because something was about to explode, and he took cover under his table, hands over his eyebrows, and stayed there for a full half hour before anyone could convince him it was safe to come out. I really need to figure out why my hair growth tonic doesn’t work.
Anyway, Diary, naturally I ran to my room. Where else would I
have gone? And he ran right behind me. And I really don’t think I can
write the rest of it down, but I don’t need to. I won’t forget it
anytime soon. Note to self: Aggravate Van Helsing again tomorrow.