Monday, June 20, 2016

Tales Of New Albion: High Cliffs Tea Rooms

Steampunk Dog enjoying tea
Here is a sneak preview of the third story in my New Albion series.  This time we find out a bit about the back history of Ellen Hall, whilst also getting to explore a bit of the mad, sprawling restaurant complex that is the High Cliffs Tea Rooms.  Enjoy, and if you would like to read the rest then drop me a line.

 ‘Oh flipper-de-jig I am completely lost,’ exspluttered Reggie Peabody to no one in particular since, indeed, no one was paying him the slightest attention.  Somewhere between the overpriced air taxi and the over heated Mongolian Barbeque he had taken a seriously wrong fork in the corridor and was now unlikely to make his dinner reservation. ‘Oh flipper-de-jig,’ he muttered again, turning about face and wondering if retracing his steps to the Polish delicatessen might help in any way.  Mind you the somewhat partially well named High Cliffs Tea Room was, quite frankly, a very easy place to get lost in.  Set over some 20 or so stories on the outside, and much more besides on the inside, of an imposing white cliff at the very end of the homeland it was very much the place to dine. Assuming naturally you had the money, desire and sense of direction required to reach the restaurant of your choice.  ‘This really is too much,’ he sighed, regretting now his decision not to ask for directions at Bellisima Italiana when a kindly maître d’ had offered to assist. ‘They really should have guides or something in this place…’ Barely had these words escaped his lips when a head popped out of a previously hidden serving hatch and asked,
‘Are you in need of assistance sir?’ The voice, and head, belonged to what gave every appearance of being a teenaged girl wearing a rather natty fur trimmed porter’s jacket and matching pillbox hat.  Before Reggie could so much as gather his thoughts the face continued, ‘I am at your service.’  The hatch in question turned out to be merely the top half of a cunningly concealed door, wallpapered in the same peculiar flock design as the rest of the corridor, which now swung fully open to reveal the young lady in her entirety.  The girl sported cropped boyish blonde hair beneath the hat, which rounded off not at all unpleasant, if a little over eager, features including a particularly fine chin.  Smart, but obviously homemade, black trousers and highly polished but clearly second hand shoes, completed the look. ‘Ellen’s the name, Ellen Hall. Are you lost?’ She pointed an accusatory finger, ‘I can certainly help you, oh please do let me…’ This last plaintive exclamation caused Reggie to furrow one eyebrow,
‘Now see here, are you an official guide?’ The girl squirmed slightly and shifted on her heels.
‘Well not official as such, but I know this place better than anyone. Oh do let me help, I’ve even memorised the guidebook.’   She smiled as convincingly as anyone had ever smiled and Reggie felt himself soften to her a little.  To buy a little time before replying he reached into his waistcoat pocket and pulled out his brass pocket watch. Nonchalantly flicking open the cover he glanced askance at the time, the revelation of which caused him to jerk alarmingly upright and turn slightly pale.
‘Do you know Pierre’s?’ he gulped through gritted teeth, barely able to get the words out.
‘Brasserie or bistro,’ chirped Ellen, determined to be of maximum usefulness.
‘Brasserie,’ swallowed Reggie feeling suddenly rather faint.
“Yep, certainly do,’ grinned Ellen, ‘you’re about 10 floors away and on completely the wrong side, but I certainly know it, yes siree, that’s not a problem.  Tell me though, when exactly is your reservation?’
‘Oh dear god,’ inhaled Reggie, ‘ barely twenty minutes’.
With this Ellen’s face lost a little of it’s rosy ebullience also, but without a moment’s hesitation she reached back through the door, grabbed a ragged over-stuffed leather bag, flung it over her shoulder, took his hand and headed off down the corridor with a somewhat bemused Reggie in tow.

‘We’ll talk on the move.’

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