Wednesday 24th January 1923

 A cold and foggy day in Venice today. Over breakfast Albert pointed out a follow-up article in the paper about the murder of Arturo Faccia. It appears that his mutilated body was found hanging from the roof of the cathedral. The injuries were so extensive that eye witnesses to the discovery claimed that it could only be “the Devil’s work”. A short biography of Faccia mentioned that he had recently returned from a business trip to Turkey.  

We decided to split in to two groups. From our notes we know that a section of the Simulacrum was brought to Venice by Napoleon’s invading army so Darling Antonio, Albert and myself headed along the Grand Canal to the Bibliotheca Marcianna. Meanwhile Father P and Detective M headed off to try and find the Church of St. Mary Celeste where (according to the research that Darling Antonio carries out in the British Museum) we could find a book called The Devil’s Simulacrum.

I must admit, Dearest Diary, that I found Venice by day was scarcely more appealing then Venice at night. That was until I reached Piazza San Marco. Both the Ducal Palace and the Bassilica San Marco looked very impressive but out destination was the Bibliotheca. Albert mentioned that he believed that the L-shaped building had once been a stable but at some point an impressive glass roof had been used to transform an internal courtyard in to an airy reading room with multiple floors of book storage (“stacks” I believe my old English Lit teacher called them) on all sides. The three of us spent pretty much the whole day there but our results were hardly spectacular. Our biggest difficulty was, of course, that everything was written in Italian and only Albert could make head-or-tail of it all. Luckily, towards the end of the day, Darling Antonio proved that he had brains as well as beauty when he played a hunch and looked for any records of strange plagues springing up in the wake of Napoleon’s invasion. Sure enough in November of 1797 we found mention of a mysterious malady that swept the city that left its victims crippled in the left leg. We have decided to return tomorrow to continue our research but it would help if we could recruit more Italian speakers to help. Perhaps some students from the nearby Academia.

Detective M and Father P’s attempts to find St.Mary’s took an unexpected twist. Enquiries with the hotel staff as to where the church was drew a blank as did asking local water-cab drivers. The pair made enquiries at the Basilica Santa Maria and the Basilica San Marco and eventually discovered that the church was destroyed in a fire in 1569. The church had been in the Castello district, renowned for its ship building. A fire, believed to have been started by Ottoman saboteurs, had broken out in the naval arsenal and destroyed several buildings including the church. Still the pair had found the churches old address and Detective M had decided to find out what the land was like now. He decided to go on his own as Father P’s behaviour had become increasingly odd throughout the day with the Good Father going into raptures of pleasure at the sight of the gold, jewels and works of art in the Basilica’s.

It was as we headed back to the hotel that Darling Antonio, Albert and myself first became aware of an appalling smell that was coming from a black, oily film on the surface of the waters. Detective M told us that it had been far worse during the bulk of the day when he and Father P had been traveling the city. From their boatman the pair had learnt that the slime, whatever it was, was not a normal occurrence in Venice and many of the locals took it to be a bad omen.

As we enjoyed dinner at the hotel we had an unexpected, but very welcome, guest in the form of the Dreamy Georgio. He thanked us for our intervention on Maria’s behalf the previous evening and asked if he could talk to us in private after the meal. Dreamy Georgio took us to a pleasant café where he poured his heart out to us. He and Maria were in love but, like something out of a Shakespearian tragedy, the difference in the social status (Maria, it would appear, came from an old and venerated family) had meant her father had forbidden the union. Dreamy Georgio had applied himself to his studies with gusto in an attempt to prove his worth and earn Giovani Stagliani’s blessing but the old man’s untimely demise meant that it now would never be. On top of that there was the unwanted and ungentlemanly attentions of Fatty Alberto hovering over Maria. Dreamy Georgio was certain that Fatty Alberto was responsible for Giovanni Stagliani’s death, although he had nothing to back that up other than his obvious dislike for the man. Dreamy Georgio spoke at length at the clashes between the fascist Black Shirts and the Communists and it was clear that his sympathies lay with the Reds.

Dreamy Georgio also asked if we could attend Giovanni Stagliani’s funeral that is scheduled for the day after tomorrow at 11:30 so Maria can thank us herself. I wonder if he fears that Fatty Alberto will make a scene and wants allies just in case? We agreed of course but I took the opportunity to ask for a favour in return. Since Dreamy Georgio spoke such good English could he help us with our researches at the Bibliotheca Marcianna tomorrow? He agreed and promised to bring along a friend who was also a fellow student and English speaker to further help out.


Topics: Horror on the Orient Express, Italy |

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