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The Mudcat Cafesj

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BS: Mudcat Orient Express

Peter T. 06 May 01 - 08:13 PM
MMario 06 May 01 - 06:30 PM
Fibula Mattock 06 May 01 - 06:22 PM
Caitrin 05 May 01 - 12:10 PM
katlaughing 05 May 01 - 12:21 AM
CarolC 04 May 01 - 11:30 PM
Naemanson 04 May 01 - 11:08 PM
JenEllen 04 May 01 - 10:44 PM
JenEllen 04 May 01 - 10:42 PM
CarolC 04 May 01 - 10:05 PM
Peter T. 04 May 01 - 04:57 PM
Peter T. 04 May 01 - 04:41 PM
JenEllen 04 May 01 - 04:19 PM
Naemanson 04 May 01 - 12:20 PM
Les from Hull 04 May 01 - 12:15 PM
mousethief 04 May 01 - 12:07 PM
MMario 04 May 01 - 11:42 AM
mousethief 04 May 01 - 11:35 AM
Caitrin 04 May 01 - 11:18 AM
MMario 04 May 01 - 11:02 AM
Peter T. 04 May 01 - 11:02 AM
mousethief 04 May 01 - 10:59 AM
Caitrin 04 May 01 - 10:27 AM
katlaughing 04 May 01 - 09:42 AM
Dave the Gnome 04 May 01 - 07:07 AM
Dave the Gnome 04 May 01 - 06:55 AM
Naemanson 04 May 01 - 06:16 AM
katlaughing 04 May 01 - 01:58 AM
JenEllen 04 May 01 - 01:42 AM
katlaughing 04 May 01 - 12:36 AM
JenEllen 04 May 01 - 12:27 AM
Naemanson 03 May 01 - 10:37 PM
Caitrin 03 May 01 - 10:23 PM
CarolC 03 May 01 - 06:51 PM
Les from Hull 03 May 01 - 06:49 PM
Lonesome EJ 03 May 01 - 06:35 PM
mousethief 03 May 01 - 06:15 PM
Lonesome EJ 03 May 01 - 05:58 PM
JenEllen 03 May 01 - 05:54 PM
mousethief 03 May 01 - 05:19 PM
GUEST,Matt_R 03 May 01 - 05:01 PM
Morticia 03 May 01 - 04:58 PM
Peter T. 03 May 01 - 04:57 PM
Caitrin 03 May 01 - 04:44 PM
JenEllen 03 May 01 - 04:07 PM
CarolC 03 May 01 - 03:54 PM
Les from Hull 03 May 01 - 03:38 PM
katlaughing 03 May 01 - 03:09 PM
mousethief 03 May 01 - 02:21 PM
Morticia 03 May 01 - 02:17 PM

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Subject: RE: BS: Mudcat Orient Express
From: Peter T.
Date: 06 May 01 - 08:13 PM

After a minor delay, the Orient Express continues on Track 2.

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Subject: RE: BS: Mudcat Orient Express
From: MMario
Date: 06 May 01 - 06:30 PM

"ZWOUNDS!*" thought the porter. "I don't remember that tunnel!" It seemed to him that they had been in the dark for almost a day. surely he would have remembered such an experience on previous runs, but scour his memory as he could, no the slightest trace of such an occurance flitted through his brain cells. Perhaps it had something to do with all the other extra-ordinary things that had been happening on this trip.

*sub-title - "Gosh, golly gee willikers"

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Subject: RE: BS: Mudcat Orient Express
From: Fibula Mattock
Date: 06 May 01 - 06:22 PM

refresh (I'm enjoying the story)

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Subject: RE: BS: Mudcat Orient Express
From: Caitrin
Date: 05 May 01 - 12:10 PM

Celeste tried to remain calm. "Good evening, monsieurs." she said with a nod to Napoleon and the priest. "Now, if you shall excuse me, I have business to conduct."

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Subject: RE: BS: Mudcat Orient Express
From: katlaughing
Date: 05 May 01 - 12:21 AM

Dawn reached over Miss Penny Waistcoat's back and lit on the neck of the Arab, his black coat shining with the sudden light. They were both tired; she'd stopped once to rest and water them both. They'd managed to leave the train far behind.

Slowing him to a careful walk, she glanced up ahead, watching for the old disused railroad water tower. (But of course they ahd steam trains there, too! Nicht? Even the Express? But not using this tower!) As the sun rose higher in the sky, she saw it, there, just a few yards away. Glancing around she watched for anyone astir. She stopped, led the horse into the copse nearby, tied him to a tree and took off the saddle and blanket.
Rest well, my fine've done a good job, but we may have to run for it, again.
*Mach schnell, bitte*
Oh! Not, yet! Down boy, down!
*Um...schlafen zie, ist gut!*

As she walked towards the water tower, she began to whistle...As I walked out in the streets of Laredo...she stopped, turning her head to listen for a reply. From inside the water tower came a faint As I walked out in Laredo one day...

James? Is that you? Put the ladder down, so I can come up. Villenueve is dead and the papers are lost! Is Artie with you?
*I've had the worst night. Get yer sorry ass down here and help me and make me a cuppa! And, it better be dry in there!*

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Subject: RE: BS: Mudcat Orient Express
From: CarolC
Date: 04 May 01 - 11:30 PM

No sound came from the dwarf as he stared at her blankly. It was as if he couldn't hear the words coming out of her mouth. She realized that something was seriously wrong with him when he turned and ran from her, disappearing down the long stretch of corridor. He is behaving like one who is on drugs, she thought to herself.

She knew there was nothing for it. She would have to take care of things herself. She went into the compartment and began looking around. It only took a few minutes for her to find the items she needed. Now, what she needed most was time...

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Subject: RE: BS: Mudcat Orient Express
From: Naemanson
Date: 04 May 01 - 11:08 PM

SHE was there. He faced her, ignoring the trollop who scrambled down the corridor towards the dining car. He couldn't meet her eyes. She was silent as they stood in tableau, swaying slightly to the movement of the train.

In his dreams, and in his waking moments she was always there, accordion in hand and dreamy smile on her face. It was for her that he left the circus and started the correspondence courses. It was for her that he had left the United States and was wandering across Europe, it was for her that he had...

But no, now he could never face her after what she had just seen. He turned and ran. His chest felt as though it would burst from his chest and his breath came in ragged gasps. He rushed through the lounge, on through the dining car, and finally into the baggage car. There behind a pile of crates he hid himself and sobbed out his grief.

As the paroxysm of sobbing passed he became gradually more aware of his surroundings. He was sitting on something cold but soft. It was dark but he struck a match and looked on the dead face of his old friend and long past circus comrade, Dr. Anton Villeneuve. He dropped the match in shock.

He lit another and conducted a swift examination of the body. His throat had been cut, that much was evident. the question was, why would anyone murder such a sweet, gentle man? Had he been up to his old tricks again? Honore had always enjoyed the spy tales Paul used to tell but had always assumed they were fictions told to amuse.

He went through the pockets but the body had already been thoroughly searched. Honore thought back to those stories. Something Paul had once told him, what was it, he kept something hidden in the seams of his coat. Honore produced a small pocket knife and began to search. As he did he determined that whoever had done this to his friend must surely pay.

Ah, there it is...

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Subject: RE: BS: Mudcat Orient Express
From: JenEllen
Date: 04 May 01 - 10:44 PM

When the knock came a week later, Annette found Lise at the door laden with books and papers. She entered, gave a curt nod to Curioso, and dragged the startled Annette to the bedroom by the arm.
"When you brought me the notes from Fermi, what did he tell you?"
"Nothing, you know Enrico, he's a show-off. I never take him seriously." replied Annette.
"Look at this, tell me what you see.."
Annette took the jumbled mess of papers to the bed, laid them out and quickly scanned them. When she looked up, it was as she'd seen a ghost. Lise had to help her to a chair.
"That's it, isn't it. The final result? It worked? The runaway reaction worked? Mere de dieu..." gasped Annette.
"Yes, and Otto can't be found. His housekeeper says that he has gone to Copenhagen to escape the Nazis, but I am not so sure." repiled Lise
"What are you going to do?"
"Niels has offered to help me reach Sweden, but I also need your help, and his.." she gave a quick nod to the door. "From Stockholm, Niels has arranged for his man to carry this information to Istanbul. I need you to make sure it gets there. As a Jew, it's too risky for me to travel, and I feel that my correspondences are making unscheduled stops now as it is.." she trailed off.
Annette, pale and shaking, replied "We'll do it."

And there he sat. Otto Frisch in the flesh, talking with the bright-eyed hulk of Morzik. They weren't discussing football scores, that much was certain. They hadn't seen her yet, they were too engrossed in their own conversation to pay much attention to the other travellers. She was at a loss. Confronting them one-on-one, she would have no trouble with either, but this pairing forever changed the rules of the game.

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Subject: RE: BS: Mudcat Orient Express
From: JenEllen
Date: 04 May 01 - 10:42 PM

The train rocketed on into the night, and Annette Marceau was feeling the need for a drink. She sat for hours with the worn chunk of rosin in her hand, it's warm smell filling the comparment as day turned to night. The taunting infuriated her almost as much as the fact that her presence on the train was no longer a secret. She had worked too hard for this to be played with now.
The notes that Villenueve had carried weighed heavily on her mind. All that wasted time. If the Nazis got hold of that discovery, they would all be goose-stepping their way to hell. Enrico had been such a fool, forcing them all to speed up their research while he paraded his ideas around like a trick pony. Telling the Americans was his greatest mistake. Manifest destiny well underway, the Americans were almost as revolting as the Nazis. She could re-create the experiments on paper, given enough time, that was certain. There just was no time.
She reached the chaos that was the clubcar, made her way to a far-flung table, took out her notebook, and ordered a bottle of wine. Lise would be so dissapointed in her. As if the Naturewissenschafeten article fiasco wasn't bad enough, there was this to contend with. Lazily, she doodled on the paper. Faint sketches of Curioso's shy smile intermingled with equations, 235+n=92+142+n drawn lightly into the collar of his woolen coat.
She was brought out of her concentration by the smell...the smell of anchovies? When she looked up, she saw them at a table near the bar. That rat-bastard Otto Frisch sitting with a poorly disguised fish-fumed Morzik.
One rare sunny afternoon a month back, Lise and Annette had sat in the cafe, drinking coffee and talking as women do.
"It is of no use, dear." Lise had told her. "It goes all the way back to Mileva Maric, and probably beyond that. The Code Napoleon doomed us all, I'm afraid." Lise laughed, but her voice had a sharp edge to it that Annette knew too well. "The gentlemen rely on us to check the work, but are not always as generous with the results. Otto Hahn is no different from any other man on this earth." Annette was indignant, as most young women will be, and muttered all sorts of excuses, but Lise patted her hand. "I'll come to see you next week, we'll talk more.

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Subject: RE: BS: Mudcat Orient Express
From: CarolC
Date: 04 May 01 - 10:05 PM

A cold chill ran through her veins when she saw the trollop exiting Honore's compartment. She knew it meant one thing. Someone was on to them. She continued walking past the door and ducked into an unoccupied compartment. After the trollop was out of sight, she joined her friend in his compartment, out of breath, but relieved.

"Honore!" She exclaimed. "This is bad. Did she find anything? You know how you talk in your sleep. You could have told her everything! You know what we have to do now, don't you?"

The little man went pale. He nodded his head in agreement, but the lump in his throat made it impossible for him to speak...

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Subject: RE: BS: Mudcat Orient Express
From: Peter T.
Date: 04 May 01 - 04:57 PM

Somewhere in the late afternoon, he gave his shadow the slip, and immediately headed for Buda. He crossed the Danube, left the signal, and hiked up onto the Bastion. There he promenaded for an hour, until just before dusk. He saw Tomasz coming a long way off, and he went forward to him. They shook hands and then together watched the sun set. Not a word was spoken for a few minutes.
"Some good news," Curioso said finally.
"You are always bringing me bad news, my friend, and calling it good."
"Lise Meitner is now in London, and will soon be in Sweden."
"No? That is good news. "
"And some bad news. Villeneuve was killed last night on the Express. They have started operating far earlier than we had hoped."
"Ah," said Tomasz, "And Annette, she is -- well?"
"Oh, hell, Tomasz, she can take care of herself."
"You are so transparent, my opaque friend."
Curioso thought of a retort, but stifled it. Instead he said: "In any case, you have to warn Istanbul. The notes are safe, but there may be some delay, a day or two at most."
Tomasz nodded. "There is one thing I would like to know, my friend. How can you be sure of what is in those notes?"
Curioso looked around. It was getting very dark. "Did you ever hear of a woman named Ida Noddack?"
Tomasz shook his head.
"She worked with Otto Hahn. And Annette was her protege. Brilliant, scary. They are the three Fates who are spinning the future - Ida, Lise, Annette -- they will not get the recognition, but they will be the ones. "
"But do you think it can be?"
"Lise and Annette had a conversation 3 weeks ago that I caught only a fraction of, and after a while they both said yes. They were excited by it -- and frightened."
"Ah" said Tomasz, "Lenard thinks maybe yes, maybe no."
"Lenard is a fool and a Nazi."
"Well," said Tomasz, "It is too deep for me. Come and we will have a drink or many drinks. Then I will contact Istanbul."
They moved down into the narrow streets, and the night swallowed them up.

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Subject: RE: BS: Mudcat Orient Express
From: Peter T.
Date: 04 May 01 - 04:41 PM

Somewhere in

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Subject: RE: BS: Mudcat Orient Express
From: JenEllen
Date: 04 May 01 - 04:19 PM

The drawings from the children were innocence in chalk, lovely sketches of the family, the pony, the stars. Annete clutched them to her chest and could feel the hands of the young ones upon the drawings themselves.

The dossier on Villenueve was old news, as fas as she was concerned. Laissez le repos mort. He pointlessly ran from pocketbook to pocketbook like a hound begging for scraps. Maybe the afterlife held some joy for him now.

The file on Morzik held the most interest for her, at the moment. The fact that Hank brought it to her must mean that Morzik had turned. She could barely make herself read the contents. The man who had risked his life to save hers was now just another enemy. The early information, she knew by heart. From the days when she would grab wine and cheese and go to the rooms that Curioso and Morzik shared above the bakery. The three would talk until the sun came up. The middle years, she knew because she had been a part of them. Her working as a dancer in the brothel had given them easy access to information, and to clients. Her gentlemen protectors were much more experienced than she, but they allowed equal partnership. When she reached the first of the latter pages, she recoiled from the touch of them, like they had been contaminated by the hunt that they explained.
The Germans were on to her. That much had been certain. She took the train to Berlin that evening knowing full well that she would probably lose her life. Morzik was to meet her there and then continue on to Istanbul, Curioso held her hand for a moment and told her that she didn't have to go. They both knew she did.
The Germans had to have been alerted. The small band escorted her off the train and into a waiting car. She tried to resist, and even managed to wreak havok on one guardsman's--how did the Inspector say...goolies?--No matter, the young man was incapacitated, and the others were enraged. Her next conscious moment found her bloodied, tied to a chair in a wet, dark room. Torture was indeed torture.
All this time she had thought it was Morzik who saved her. His nimble fingers untied the ropes, his voice urged her to stay awake, and his arms carried her back to France. Pas aussi. German intelligence seemed to have been alerted, by a man fitting Morzik's description, to her entrance into Germany.
It was at this point that the first tear fell and began to run the ink on the page. "Femme stupide," she thought, "Revenge is simple enough, finish the job, find Morzik, and kill him."
The was then interrupted by a knock at the door of her compartment. A small covered silver tray lay on the floor before her door. Funny, she didn't order lunch. She looked up and down the hall, but it was empty. She took the tray into the room, and there she lifted the lid. On a lace doily, there lay a worn chunk of rosin.

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Subject: RE: BS: Mudcat Orient Express
From: Naemanson
Date: 04 May 01 - 12:20 PM

Honore woke with a jerk. He rolled over and looked at her. This wasn't the accordion player! He didn't know who she was. But from the way she was picking at her teeth he could tell she was definitely low class and not his style.

"Who'n hell er you?" he snarled.

"Oo lah lah, moncherie, please don't be short with me." Her accent was a mix of Parisian French and downtrown Brooklyn.

"Ah'm short with everyone! Who air ye?"

"Well," she replied, "You definitely aren't short in ALL aspects." She winked at him but he missed it. He was climbing out of bed and into his clothes.

"How'd ye git in heer?"

"Zhee door was open and you were snoring." She winked again, "You didn't snore for long, mai non?"

"I don't snore. Geddout."

"But honee, why don't you come back to bed and we can talk about it." She patted the sheets next to her.

"You can go dressed and on your feet or naked and on your butt! I leave it up to you!"

She sulked but threw back to sheets and started to dress. He kept a critical eye on her watching for any sign of theft.

"A gentleman would turn his back to a lady as she dressed."

"I ain't no gennelman and you ain't no lady!"

She pinned her hat on her head, checked her makeup in the mirror, and announced that she was ready. He grunted and held the door open for her. The train was swaying and she and he stumbled out into the corridor. As he helped her to her feet he looked up into the eyes of the accordion player...

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Subject: RE: BS: Mudcat Orient Express
From: Les from Hull
Date: 04 May 01 - 12:15 PM

Morzik was ready. He had managed to board the train, thanks to the rerouting and delay caused by Curioso, but he was not happy about the way that he and Annette had played him for a fool. All they were interested in was the money they could get for the papers, the unprincipled dogs. This was not what he had fought for all these years. Had they no idea? Had they not conscience? Why could he still smell anchovies?

He knew that, whatever happened else happened, the papers must be destroyed. They unlocked a secret, a secret that any government would pay handsomely for, but a secret that would only be used to oppress fellow workers throughout the world. And so he, Morzik, would have act. In the disguise he had adopted, nobody, not even his own mother, would recognise him.

An old lady passed him in the corridor. "Morzik!", she exclaimed happily. "Drashnar stravelska"*, he hissed, as he slunk back into the shadows to continue his ceaseless watch. Morzik was ready - Morzik was ready to die.

* subtitle - Hello Mother

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Subject: RE: BS: Mudcat Orient Express
From: mousethief
Date: 04 May 01 - 12:07 PM

Does it, then?

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Subject: RE: BS: Mudcat Orient Express
From: MMario
Date: 04 May 01 - 11:42 AM

*ahem* "Modesty panels"?

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Subject: RE: BS: Mudcat Orient Express
From: mousethief
Date: 04 May 01 - 11:35 AM

The set was over. The applause had been gratifying, and some people actually got up to dance when the train was in the station in Germany -- very gratifying, indeed.

Now l'Orchestre Philharmonique Parisienne was putting its instruments away, folding music stands and those little wall-like things (*there MUST be a name for those) and packing it all onto the carts for the porters to put them back into the luggage car. It had been a good gig. Tomorrow they would be in Budapest, and then soon they'd be on their way back home. It was a living.

The music folder with the secret plans went into the reinforced case labelled "les Papiers Musiques" (*what do you think it means? Sheesh, we can't do ALL your work for you!) and onto the cart. The conductor/first violinist wearily trudged back to the sleeper car compartment he shared with the bass player, crawled up onto the upper bunk, and fell fast asleep.

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Subject: RE: BS: Mudcat Orient Express
From: Caitrin
Date: 04 May 01 - 11:18 AM

The plans had to be in the case! They simply had to be. But there was no sign of them. Not in the case, not in the violin itself...obviously, someone had gotten to the violin before her. Celeste took a sip of her martini, slowly calming down. This situation called for subtle action, not panic. Panic got people in her line of work killed.
Whoever the enemy was, he'd lifted the rosin from the case as well. Thus, the culprit must be another musician. But who? There were more musicians on this train than in the Parisian Philharmon...
The Parisian Philharmonic! It was the perfect cover for a spy! Who would suspect a simple violinist of working for the government? Celeste leapt from her seat and started toward the club car door. But just as she was making her way out, she found Napoleon Duchamps and a Russian priest blocking her path.

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Subject: RE: BS: Mudcat Orient Express
From: MMario
Date: 04 May 01 - 11:02 AM

my sides HURT! owww! oWWWWWW!

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Subject: RE: BS: Mudcat Orient Express
From: Peter T.
Date: 04 May 01 - 11:02 AM

He stood in the battered Szepmuveszeti in front of his favourite painting in the world. Whether it was a self-portrait of El Greco or a St. James he didn't much care: the lean bearded figure stood in the shimmering borealis of the soul, cast down, human like few other paintings. He had been there already an hour, and was happy to spend another hour if that was what it took. But it wouldn't. He could hear the clickclack of Marina's shoes as she came up the staircase, and he stifled a sudden wish that it would be Annette who would appear at the top, and that they would forget all this and the coming war, and the secret that was consuming them all.
But it was Mariana: beautiful in her own way, certainly stylish, certainly Romanian in the old sense -- what someone once called the Latinate peasant. The guard who had fallen asleep, woke up, and grunted his approval.
"Ah, El Greco," she said, striding up to him. "Another damned saint".
"Actually, Mariana, that is very acute. He does look like a damned saint."
They embraced. Curioso said: "Lunch or just talk?"
"No time for lunch today, Her Majesty is with the American ambassador. Munich has of course thrown us all for -- what is it Americans call it -- loops?"
"A loop."
"A loop."
They went arm in arm down onto the teeming street. Behind them, at a marginally discrete distance, a constant shadow followed them.
He shouted at her above the streetcar noise: "It is safer to talk out here in the street than anywhere else!"
Mariana replied: "Her Majesty is very grateful -- " a streetcar whooshed past -- "is very grateful for services rendered. She wants you to know --" the lights changed, and they moved with the stream of pedestrians -- "that the Orange did get sent to your cousins in London."
Curioso gripped her arm. "Tell her, tell her, it means a lot, more than she knows."
"Oh, you are always going on about the importance of this, and the importance of that. Why don't you enjoy yourself a bit more?"
"I seem to recall that it was you who couldn't stay for lunch."
"I didn't say anything about dinner."
"Oh, I have an appointment I can't break, Mariana." They came down the fashionable side of the great Josefs Boulevard, still full of beautiful clothes and objets d'art, the sun everywhere in a darkening world.
"You are a bad liar, Curioso. That woman and that train are still 24 hours from here."
"And you seem to know everything."
"Budapest, my dear Curioso, Budapest. " She turned and gazed dryly at him. "Well, if not, not. I must turn in here." They embraced again. She put her hand on the golden bar leading into the Golden Restaurant, and looked back over her shoulder.
"Oh, one important piece of information you might be curious to know, Curioso, you faithful soldier. Villeneuve was murdered on the Orient Express last night. Goodbye."
Curioso stood in the street, the waves of humanity passing either side of him, the cars and the horsecarts passing by. He looked back down the street. The shadow lingered. There was nothing for it. He had to be patient. They had planned it all out, there was no going back, she would carry it off with her usual panache. He hoped. He looked at his watch. Istanbul had to be told, and the submarine alerted.

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Subject: RE: BS: Mudcat Orient Express
From: mousethief
Date: 04 May 01 - 10:59 AM

"But of course, Mademoiselle," purred the conductor. "'Elp yourself."

Celeste grabbed for the violin case like a drunkard grabbing the first drink of the evening. Clutching it to her chest, she nearly flew back to her compartment. In her hurry she failed to notice the tall Russian priest in black robes just coming down the corridor as she darted into her room.

Father Popovich and Napoleon Duchamps watched as Celeste darted into her sleeping compartment, and heard the bolt slide to.

"She's got it," said the inspector.

"Yes," said the priest.

Suddenly a shriek came from behind the exquisitely polished wooden door, and Celeste exploded out of the compartment, flying back up the train to the club car, leaving the door banging against the bulkhead with the rhythmic rocking-lurching of the train.

"Shall we?" said the inspector.

"I think we shall," said the priest.

The two men opened the door and went in. The violin case lay open on the bottom bunk. There was a violin inside, but (of course) no secret papers (and no rosin either, but that hardly concerns the story at this point).

"Wrong violin?" asked the priest.

"I don't think so," said the inspector. "I'm beginning to think there was something *IN* the case that is now missing."

"Something Mssr. Villaneueve was delivering to someone -- in Soviet Union?" asked the priest.

"Zuit Alors!" (*Very probably so, now that you mention it.)

"State secrets? Military secrets?"

"Mais oui." (*I think you have hit the nail on the head, my friend.)

"I think we need a drink," said the priest.

"I am not thirsty, Monsieur," answered the inspector.

"Raskolnikov!" (*you unenlightened son of a pig-dog!) "Whatever is going on here is going on in the club car!"

"Soup du Jour!" (*your powers of deduction are amazing!) "Let us go there, then."

"Da." (*I'm right behind you.)

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Subject: RE: BS: Mudcat Orient Express
From: Caitrin
Date: 04 May 01 - 10:27 AM

Saxon violins? Oh mercy me...

Celeste eased quietly into Villeneuve's compartment. It was a damn shame he had to go get himself killed--he knew better than that. Besides leaving her without male companionship for a spell, it also left her in something of a professional lurch: there was no sign of the violin or its case anywhere. If she didn't find that formula quickly, Celeste would miss her contact in Germany.
Celeste removed herself from the compartment, carefully shutting the door behind her. Now, where else could it...
There! With the Philharmonique's instruments! Celeste would know that case anywhere...Paul had used it to knock Morzik out the night she met him. The memory of it almost made her feel guilty about taking his formula and giving it to the English.
Almost. But not quite. There were bigger forces at work here than Paul Villeneuve ever would have understood. His mind was simply on his own fortune, while Celeste's was on the fortune of the world. She didn't trust Stalin, not any further than she could throw him.
As the orchestra paused, Celeste put on her most charming smile and sidled up to the conductor. "Excuse moi, monsieur...might I slip by you here to get my violin? It seems to have been mixed in with your group's instruments."

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Subject: RE: BS: Mudcat Orient Express
From: katlaughing
Date: 04 May 01 - 09:42 AM

Aside: Bravo on the puns!!! LMAO!!!

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Subject: RE: BS: Mudcat Orient Express
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 04 May 01 - 07:07 AM

In the meanwhile a vital piece of information was being discovered by Higgins of the Yard.

In the empty instrument case was the makers name. Herr Dimiti von Polakov. 'Ere, plod, watcher reckon on this*'. (*Look at this constable, what do you think it means.)

"Well, sir." replied the obviously university educated but held back from promotion by a nocturnal misadventure with a superiors partner constable. "A man with a Czech name, from Poland, using a Bavarian title. There is only one region in the world I can think of that borders onto all those places."

"My god! You mean we are looking into a case of ...

Saxon violins...."

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Subject: RE: BS: Mudcat Orient Express
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 04 May 01 - 06:55 AM

"Package for Monsieur Parrot. Package for Monsieur Parrot" intoned the porter, shambling down the corridor and glancing into the compartments.

"Poirot, my good man. That should be Poirot." Tutted the dapper little Belgian in the first class seat.

"OK, guv. Poirot for Monsieur Parrot..."

Poirot opened the package carefuly as the porter limped back up the corridor cluching his lower regions.

"Aha!" he smiled. "The leetle grey cells, Hastings. They have not let me down this time. Call everyone into the dining car. I will reveal the most evil criminal mind of our time.."

"Not so fast, froggy" A grey haired frail lady popped her head into the carriage. "Marples the name and it is me that will reveal the secret.."

"'Scuse me, scuse me..." A man with an obvious glass eye, dirty raincoat and smelly cigar pushed into the already crowded room. "Before you do can I ask you just one more thing....?"

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Subject: RE: BS: Mudcat Orient Express
From: Naemanson
Date: 04 May 01 - 06:16 AM

Honore staggered to his feet. His head swirled with the images he had just experienced. This is going to take some time to get over. I'd better lie down. He headed for his compartment.

As he made his way down the length of the train the porter's voice kept a rhythm with the wheels. " violins in the straits...", " violins in the straits...", " violins in the straits...". Angrily he shouted, "O, pun, the dour harbinger of death!" It did no good. The phrase kept running through his mind and now his toes hurt.

Finally he stumbled into his compartment, the riot of bright colors that he loved so well soothing and calming his brain.

" violins in the straits...", " violins in the straits...", " violins in the straits..."

He thought of the events of the day so far. So many deaths, senseless deaths. Or were they? Could they all be connected somehow? And why were violins involved? What was up with that?

His head swirled and he lurched across the compartment to his bed. As he sank into it he just caught the barest whiff of perfume. He had time for one quick thought, "SHE'S been in here!" before the drug took him away.

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Subject: RE: BS: Mudcat Orient Express
From: katlaughing
Date: 04 May 01 - 01:58 AM

As Penny rode through the night, the words of an old song lilted through her mind...
From stirrip to saddle she mounted,
She threw her legs over like a man;
All the way that she gallop'd, she shouted
Now catch me you rogue, if you can.

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Subject: RE: BS: Mudcat Orient Express
From: JenEllen
Date: 04 May 01 - 01:42 AM

****communiqué to Berlin****

The American has been found and dealt with. The parcel was not found on his person. His only possession being a stamp-sketch of Venice with a note attached. Sending for analysis.

Ma Chere; Hoping that this finds you well. I have begun the journey, but our friend met with an accident and will not be joining me in travel. Take care and much love

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Subject: RE: BS: Mudcat Orient Express
From: katlaughing
Date: 04 May 01 - 12:36 AM

Miss Penny Waistcoat could see the way things were shaping up. Just as the train slowed to a stop in Germany, she jumped off, stole her way to the nearest stable of the closest inn. Greeting the inquiring nickers of the resident horses, she whispered gently to them, looking for a nice little Arab. In the farthest stall there he was, a jet black stallion, proud head on an arched neck, prancing back and forth in the few feet allowed, blowing air at her softly through his nostrils. Quietly she slipped in with him, laid her hand along his neck and spoke to him, There ya go, boyo, that's mah good boyo, oh drat, maybe all you know is German? Uh...das gut, darlink, sehr gut, shhhh, shhhh. *Alright ya bugger, be quiet!*

Grabbing the nearby bridle, she slipped the bit in his willing mouth and tied the reins to a hook near the door. Putting the saddle blanket over his back, then the saddle, she braced her foot against his belly and cinched it up good and tight. It would be a long ride, so she threw open her satchel, switched into long breeches, stuffing her Western outfit in the bag and tying it to the back of her saddle. Throwing the reins around his neck, she stepped up in the stirrup, swung his head around and headed out the stable doors. Just then she heard the long lonesome cry of the train whistle; it hung on the air of the dark night like someone's dirty linen in the rain. Giving the Arab a swift kick, she headed off in the night, racing to beat the train to the next stop, hoping to find her compadre, James West II, before the papers were discovered. He had a few tricks up his sleeve, along with the help of his sidekick, Artemis Gordon, Jr. but, without their special train car, she knew they would be in the dark about what had happened. On into the night she road, avoiding well lit areas, following the railroad tracks as much as possible. The sturdy little Arab made tracks, leaving the lumbering train behind as it gathered steam.

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Subject: RE: BS: Mudcat Orient Express
From: JenEllen
Date: 04 May 01 - 12:27 AM

Annette closed the door of her compartment behind her, she leaned back against it and sighed. The lanky one was gone. Not a trace of him remained on the train, not that she could find.
As the train slowly pulled to a stop, she checked her make-up and holster, wrapped her coat around her shoulders, and prepared to set her feet on German ground. As she stepped onto the platform, she noticed the RiechtRats swarming around the Express. They can't possibly know about Villenueve, can they? As she was looking at the activity on the platform, one of Hitler's finest grabbed her by the arm.
"Can I help you find something, fraulein? Or perhaps someone?" he held her like a vise.
"Non, monsieur, but you can tell me...are my seams straight?" (*remember my ass, don't remember my face) She casually used her free hand to lift the hem of her skirt and extended one of her calves a fraction more than was lady-like. The visegrip loosened, the young soldier blushed, and stuttering he went back to his collegues to gloat. This hardly concerned her now.
She stood a few moments longer when a deep voice whispered over her shoulder
"Some days you are the pigeon."
To which she replied, "Other days you are the statue." She turned and found herself face-to-face with the toothy grin of the American, Hank Jones.
"'Allo Henri" she said and she kissed each cheek.
"Hi ya toots. Long time, no see, eh?" he picked her up in an waltz embrace and spun her a few feet across the platform. "Pretty nice gig, huh? Beats the hell out of you having to do the can-can in semaphore!" His joviality wore out it's welcome with Annette fairly quickly, it always did.
"Merci, Henri, please, you have something for me, non?" He hugged her again, much to the delight of the soldiers, and slipped a small parcel under her arm.
Hank walked her back to the train, and paused a second before helping her to board the steps, "You take care of yourself, dollface. You don't know how these guys can be when you have something they want." She once again, brushed her lips across his cheek, and then she climbed the steps.
She walked quietly to her compartment, entered, and slid the bolt locking the door. She sat on her bed and untied the string around the parcel Hank had given her. Three separate bundles fell out, the first of which appeared to be more info on the Villenueve man, the second contained information of Morzik's gradual slide into mental instability--no great secret as far as she was concerned, and the third was titled "LesEnfants" and contained pastel drawings that her nieces and nephews had given to OncleHank to pass along. She grabbed these first, and settled back into her bunk. Tucking her feet under her, and her blanket around her, she began to read.

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Subject: RE: BS: Mudcat Orient Express
From: Naemanson
Date: 03 May 01 - 10:37 PM

Suddenly the train left the tracks and flew up into a sky filled with brilliant saphires and rubies. The trees seemed to lean down to hold on the the train but then they helped to fling it higher. Inside the train the colors of the drapes leaked into the wall paper and stained the irises of his eyes. The music thumped in his nose and left him with tears in his ears.

"That's the last time I steal someone else's mushroom omelette." muttered the dwarf.

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Subject: RE: BS: Mudcat Orient Express
From: Caitrin
Date: 03 May 01 - 10:23 PM

The starting of the swing music gave Celeste just the opening she needed to scoot on through the car. Villeneuve was supposed to have been in this compartment here...perhaps his belongings remained. Celeste delicately turned the doorknob, hoping no one would notice her entrance.

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Subject: RE: BS: Mudcat Orient Express
From: CarolC
Date: 03 May 01 - 06:51 PM

The bright circus colors hurt her eyes. You can take the dwarf out of the circus, but you can't take the circus out of the dwarf, she thought. She was looking around the compartment of her friend and compatriot, Honore Brett. Scattered around the compartment were remnants of a lifetime of work under the big tent. Clown costumes, fake noses, silly hats and orange wigs. Even the big shoes.

It was a shame he had to shoot the accordion, but it was a casualty of war. The pretense must be kept up at all costs.

"Sacre merde" she tought (*mercy me). Where is that funny little fellow, anyway? She didn't know if she should wait for him, or proceed with the plan without him...

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Subject: RE: BS: Mudcat Orient Express
From: Les from Hull
Date: 03 May 01 - 06:49 PM

Ingrid Sorensen, chambermaid at the Hotel Esplanade, Stockholm, inspected the sheet she had found at the back of the linen cupboard. How this sheet had managed to escape the laundry she had no idea. As she turned it over she saw it was very heavily soiled. For some reason she was reminded of the Turin Shroud.

Only this was ink. There was no doubt about it. It was as if someone had used the sheet as a jotter, although she could not understand any of the markings.

Suddenly, seized with inspiration she held the sheet up to a mirror. Yes, mathematical symbols and drawings, all tightly crammed into the space that might be occupied by say, a man's back, although she had to admit to herself, a curiosly misshapen man's back. "Yerden sperden gerherden berderden"* she shouted, as she flung the offending object into the laundry basket.

*filthy foreigners

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Subject: RE: BS: Mudcat Orient Express
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 03 May 01 - 06:35 PM

It should have posted about noon today. Ah well, c'est la vie! (that's the way the ol mop flops)

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Subject: RE: BS: Mudcat Orient Express
From: mousethief
Date: 03 May 01 - 06:15 PM

LEJ, where exactly should it be inserted into the flow of the story?

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Subject: RE: BS: Mudcat Orient Express
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 03 May 01 - 05:58 PM

The Express had reached the German Border at dawn. With a gasp of steam and two short blows of the whistle, the great train pulled up to the platform. Duchamp peered out of the window of the club car at the two jack-booted German officers with their clip-boards who waited for the Express to come to a full stop. The waiter appeared and placed omelettes and coffee on the table in front of Napoleon and Matilde. "And what have you discovered, Nappie?" she asked him.

"Well, everyone but the two of us seemed to be aware that Villeneuve was carrying some sort of secret document. In his berth, I have found a leather satchel, but he was seen by the Conductor with a violin case as well. This violin case, of course, is missing."

"Someone murdered him and stole his violin?"

"Oui, cheri, it seems so. Perhaps they didn't care for his playing?" The conductor entered the club car accompanied by the German officers. Duchamp frowned at the swastika armbands that they wore, muttered "fasciste! and took a large bite of his omelette. The officers were checking passports at the end of the car, and Duchamp secretly motioned the conductor to him. " would not be a good idea to mention to these, gentlemen..our little unpleasantness of last night. They would love to detain the Express and everyone on it, ce va?" The conductor nodded his head. "Seig Heil!" The shout caused all of the morning diners to turn toward the plump German tourist in his Austrian Alpenkappe and lederhosen who had sprung up from his table to extend his right arm in salute.

"That fellow is a German agent," Napoleon told Matilde. "He has been in Paris some time, and had met with Villeneuve several times. In fact, there are so many foreign agents on this train that the very air is, as the English say, "thick with intrigue". First there is the retired circus midget, Honore Bette. I believe him to be an American spy. The Russian Orthodox Priest, Popovich, was not near berth 9 when the murder occurred, but he has reasons for seeking gain: He has a struggling mission in his native country to support. Inspector Higgins, who was arrested last night by the vice squad in Poelle des Ouefs, may be acting on behalf of the British Government. Annette Marceau is known to be active in the Serbo-Hungarian Independence Movement in association with the two terrorists Curioso and Morzik. Then there is Dame Cricklebat and her, shall we say, plus delicate' butler. The Dame once served as a liason to the Italian Government. And Celeste Mondrian, with whom we have some history in Department...she is an infamous blackmailer, and was known to be carrying on an affair with Villeneuve." Duchamp paused as the two German Officials checked their papers. "Sank you!" Said the taller and blonder of the two. "Enchoy your stay in the Third Reich." They exited the train, and the Orient Express crept forward then gave a slight sideways lurch. "What is that, Nappie?" said Matilde.

"It seems were are taking another line of track. Interesting." He sipped his hot coffee, then lit a Gauloise. "One thing seems certain. We must find the violin case to solve the murder case. And another thing is also certain..."

"Yes, Cheri?"

"There are more violin cases on this train than in the Berlin Symphony."

*(Alright, I know I'm a bit off the story timeline, but I've been trying to post this all day, damn it)...LEJ

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Subject: RE: BS: Mudcat Orient Express
From: JenEllen
Date: 03 May 01 - 05:54 PM

Annette left the dead man's compartment in search of the thief. There was no sense putting it off any longer, she needed those papers. The commotion ahead in the clubcar made her turn around and begin her search in the rear cars. All of the pieces but one, and if she lost this, she'd never forgive herself. She passed a young man in the coachcar that was reading TheWorldSetFree, and she barely resisted the urge to rip it, and him, from the seat and throw them both to the rails. She had made a vow to never again drink scotch with HerbertGeorge, but she hadn't promised not to throw any precocious children from trains.
The baggage car door seemed to be locked? She wrestled with it a moment before hearing the whistle. Next stop, information. The package was supposed to be left at the station, she hoped at least this would go smoothly. Banat or Apuseni? What of the queen herself? And what were her old friends Rutherford and Chadwick up to these days?
She returned to the previous car, passing a small man who gave her the look-over before continuing on to the baggage car himself.

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Subject: RE: BS: Mudcat Orient Express
From: mousethief
Date: 03 May 01 - 05:19 PM

The first violinist and conductor of L'Orchestre Parisienne Philharmonique, one Guy Lombarre d'Eaux (*le "pun" mal) watched his musicians set up their music stands, and open their instrument cases. He knew that all pandaemonium was breaking out up and down the length of the train, but a paying gig was a paying gig, and he was damned well going through with this one. They would get off in Budapest, catch the night train home, and be back in time for next Friday's concert at the "Chateau de la Lumiere Rouge" (*total dive).

He ambled over to the cart where the instrument cases were. There were two violin cases left. One his, and the other one he had never seen before. "Quelle une chose!" (*Gor blimey!) he said under his breath. Inconspicuously, he picked up both, and retreated to his spot behind the music stand and the knee-high faux wall segments (*I know there's a name for these things but I can't remember it). He opened the strange case, and found it was stuffed with what appeared to be scientific papers. He deftly lifted the papers out of the case, searched for subcompartments and found a chunk of rosin and a curious coin, both of which he pocketed. He stuffed the papers behind his music in his music folder, closed the violin case, and quietly returned it to the cart.

Soon the orchestra was beginning "It Don't Mean A Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)," and the passengers in the club car, still somewhat shell-shocked by the happenings of the last hour, started to relax. Some even started tapping their toes.

Meanwhile, in the luggage car, Father Popovich was snoring loudly when a loud "Thud!" woke him up with a start. He looked up and found that the smoke from the incense had cleared, and furthermore that the once-empty car was filled with luggage, boxes, and other assorted cartage. And directly at his feet, in a dried pool of blood, was the body of Dr Villanueve.

"Rimsky Korsakov!" (*hell's bells) the priest swore. He struggled to his feet, and began arranging the body for burial, as he had done countless times before with countless parishioners whom he had ushered in to the Beyond.

But before he could finish, the door burst open, and in strode Napoleon Duchamps. "What are you doing here?" he bellowed.

"I am arranging the body for burial, friend," said the burly priest.

"Oh, Father Popich, is it?" said the inspecteur.

"Popovich, oui," said the Russian.

"Well, I am not a religious man, Father," said the inspector as he bent to kiss the priest's hand, crossed himself several times, and genuflected slightly. "But I can't say how glad I am to see you."

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Subject: RE: BS: Mudcat Orient Express
From: GUEST,Matt_R
Date: 03 May 01 - 05:01 PM

And boy, could Zundapp tell a Mauser rifle from a javelin.

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Subject: RE: BS: Mudcat Orient Express
From: Morticia
Date: 03 May 01 - 04:58 PM

Carruthers,who had been in the act of mopping his pale and perspiring brow with a somewhat florid hankerchief,gave a small sigh and slid gently down the wall and into the lap of the Second Violinist....a fact which he would have been infinitely more delighted about had he still had a pulse. Dame Cricklebat let out a small but genteel shriek."No," she cried" No, it is too bad....really it is!Who on earth will arrange my appointment book now?"A statement which, although it says much about the relationship between employer and employee, says more regarding the Diva's morals, priorities and almost complete inability to either read or write.

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Subject: RE: BS: Mudcat Orient Express
From: Peter T.
Date: 03 May 01 - 04:57 PM

It was sublimely hot in the great ornate baths in Budapest, green and yellow, like being inside some strange Hungarian dragon. Curioso stepped into the waters and heard the echoes revolving around and around his head. He smiled as the warmth enveloped him, and lay back. So far everything had gone beautifully well, except for the little byplay with Morzik, and they had always known that there had to be someone in the network who was piping the information. Maybe Morzik, maybe not. It hardly mattered. They had brought them out into the open anyway, and the hunt was on. He looked around, and saw only the usual collection of old, rich Hungarian men, bobbing here and there like they were bait for young rich Hungarian women just below the surface of the water. He couldn't help laughing when he thought about the great theatrical scene he and Annette had played out for the benefit of the bug attached to the underside of the bed; followed by some extraordinary exertions just to make the man on the other side of the wall with the headphones very very very lonely. When they were done for the moment, she whispered in his ear: "The things I do for science, mon amour." "I know, I know," he whispered back, " it is terrible, but how else can we get the plans through?"

He came back to the baths, thought better about getting out for the moment, and turned his attention to the problem of Marie of Romania.

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Subject: RE: BS: Mudcat Orient Express
From: Caitrin
Date: 03 May 01 - 04:44 PM

Yes, that was the unmistakable crack of a Mauser. Celeste quickly flattened herself against the wall, trying to find the direction of the noise--it sounded like it came from the clarinet section, but it could just as easily have been the flutes. She peered through the musicians, looking for the source.

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Subject: RE: BS: Mudcat Orient Express
From: JenEllen
Date: 03 May 01 - 04:07 PM

Annette, left alone in the bloodstained compartment, felt herself falling prey to two equally powerful emotions. She could cry, or she could get herself the hell out of this. She sat on the padded bench across from the bloodstain, rested her chin in her hands, and stared at it congealing mass on the upholstry.
Pensez. There had to be something she could do.
The sky outside the window grew increasingly more gray, and as the wind and rain began to beat at the window, she was reminded of the little gray island where this all began.

Her Curioso, as long as he continued to wind around her like Mlle.Reynoldses Chat, she didn't ask, and he didn't tell. She had a penchant for expressing herself in the visible, drawing sketches (to illustrate herself, as it were), and Curioso's broad shoulders were the perfect slate.

"Non, chere, like this..." She began to trace across his back with one finger. "Everything is made of l'energie, let's say, the good and the bad? For each smile, you have one frown, non? I have seen this that Niels is working on, and I think he may be, how you say, on to something?"
She swiped her hand across his back in erasure, and then stood up, wrapping the sheet around her as she went to the dresser. She lit a cigarette and began to pace the floor, trailing the end of sheet behind her like a wilted ball gown.
"He doesn't even know, chere. All day he works in the laboratory, staring it in the face every day, and yet he is ignorant!" With this she crushed the remains of the cigarette out in the ashtray, and leapt across the room to the foot of the bed in one fluid motion.
"Don't you see, chere? The uranium? Add another sad to l'atom, and...PSSSSHT!!" Her fingers danced in the air like the sparks from chinese fireworks. "Kings will line up to dance the can-can in front of me for this, chere, and you can share it with me."

Her mind then jumped to an episode in the same room a few short days ago.
"That sonofabitch!!" she screamed. Curioso sat in stunned silence. You knew it was bad when Marceau tried to wrap her tongue around english curses. He thought for a moment that he'd pay to see her wrap her tongue around just about anything, but he thought better of mentioning it aloud.
"That cretin! imbicile!....that jackass!!! It's gone...all of it...gone!! That rotten little Dane has taken it away!! I'm sure he gave it to Villenueve to hide from me, the rat bastard. I will find him, and when I do, chere, I will take back what is mine.

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Subject: RE: BS: Mudcat Orient Express
From: CarolC
Date: 03 May 01 - 03:54 PM

Pity about the German box, she thought, feeling thankful for the first time about the leaky valve on her precious Italian accordion that made the loud and obnoxious German box a temporary necessity.

As she passed the waiter bearing trays of food labeled "Parisian Philharmonique Orchestra" (*pretentious gits), she thought she saw him dust the food with a fine powder that looked suspiciously like ground up mushrooms. The world is going mad she thought, and she determined that only she and her little friend and coleague were the only sane people left in it.

With a last lingering look at the ruin that was once her Hohner, she left the cafe car...

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Subject: RE: BS: Mudcat Orient Express
From: Les from Hull
Date: 03 May 01 - 03:38 PM

On and on and on the pigeon flew, its silver wings reflecting the late afternoon sun as it flashed homewards. Over mountain, over flatlands, over sea it flew, each beat of its sturdy wings taking it nearer and nearer to its goal. Instinct drove the bird on. It ignored the changes of weather, the wind at first driving it onwards and then later holding it back as it struggled ever on and on. Early the next morning it found what it was looking for, what it had spent these long hours striving towards. A flock of its fellow creatures circled below promising rest, shelter, food and company.

Bert Royce reached out and took the strange bird in his experienced hands. "Worra ya doin' 'ere ya daft bugger?"* he enquired of the bird, and then he noticed the strange canister fastened to the bird's leg. Intrigued, he removed it, opened it and took out the piece of paper he found inside. He narrowed his eyes and stared at the crabbed script, turning it this way and that, holding it near and far until at length with a brief "What the fuck.."** he screwed it into a tiny ball and threw it away. He didn't notice as the tiny cylinder leapt onto the wire mesh at the front of the cage with a satisfied magnetic 'ting'.

It was one of the strangest things that had even happened to him all the time that he had lived in the West End of Derby.

* How odd, a strange bird
** I can't read it

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Subject: RE: BS: Mudcat Orient Express
From: katlaughing
Date: 03 May 01 - 03:09 PM

Miss Penny Waistcoat tossed and turned. Finally, giving a great sigh of exasperation, she flung the covers from her and arose. Some dame with mighty bellows was demanding to know things and Penny was going to find out what and why!

Enough with this damn playacting, I'ma gonna show them mah true calurs* (*'bout time I kicked some arse around here!*) she thought. Throwing her nightgown to the floor, she stepped into her Wild West costume, with fringed leather skirt and matching vest; high-necked, yet provacative silk blouse of a shimmering green which matched her eyes, and lastly, her high boots of the softest leather both sides of the Pecos. She might not have been born and bred within hollering distance of the High Sierra, but she'd learned the part. Strapping on her belt with the dual, tooled leather with silver studded holsters, she took out first one six-shooter, then the other, checked the chambers to make double sure they were full (she always kept them loaded, but never failed to check), spun the cylinders, and stuck one of them back in its holster. With the other one in her hand, cocked and ready to aim, she slowly opened her cabin door.

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Subject: RE: BS: Mudcat Orient Express
From: mousethief
Date: 03 May 01 - 02:21 PM

She's a munificent site? Oh dear! Some typo's are just simply delicious!

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Subject: RE: BS: Mudcat Orient Express
From: Morticia
Date: 03 May 01 - 02:17 PM

Dame Cricklebat swept into the salon, a magnificent and, indeed, munificent site in her deshabillee (*jammies)."I demand to know what is going on!"she cried,her operatic tones ringing around the chaotic and panic -stricken carriage." Where is my secretary, Carruthers?Where is my beautiful Stradivarius? And where, more importantly, is my breakfast???"

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