(Serious) Author's Note: Before the story begins, I have a couple of things to mention.
Firstly, as you may have already established from the story's description, this story takes place in an alternate universe, with everything leading up to this chapter having been the same as everything leading up to 'The Bad Beginning'. In other words, all the characters have canonical backgrounds.
The second thing I'd like to mention is that this story will use a Snicket-esque narrator, although it isn't actually Lemony Snicket, but another narrator created myself. I would've gone for Snicket, but the Lemony Snicket character is likely to feature in either this story or its eventual sequels at some point.
I hope that you all enjoy my first attempt at A Series of Unfortunate Events fanfiction :)
(Fictional) Author's Note: Dear reader,
I am writing to notify you that this is my first endeavour into the Series of Unfortunate Events fandom, a phrase which here means "this is my first attempt at ASoUE fanfiction, and will probably end up discarded on a heap of papers in the corner of my bedroom along with countless Harry Potter fanfics."
I also feel inclined to mention to you that during the course of this novel, the Baudelaire orphans (or not orphans, as the case may be) will encounter many unpleasantries, including, among others, a terrible fire, a despicable villain, a secret society in turmoil and cold soup for breakfast.
I'm sure that many of you would wish to read on further, but I implore you to stop and once and leave this story for your least favourite family member, perhaps your little sister or that stuck-up auntie, or possibly even your neighbour's cat, so that their life can be filled with misery, and not yours.
With all due respect,
At various points in your life, you might find yourself hearing the phrase "out of the frying pan, into the fire." Of course, very rarely is this phrase used literally, as very few people find themselves in the position where they are likely to become part of a fried breakfast, but this phrase could be applied figuratively towards the Baudelaire family throughout the course of this sorrowful story.
You see, much like the egg (or sausage, if you prefer) being fried to a crisp in the aforementioned expression, the Baudelaire family find themselves within the grasp of misfortune time and time again, and yet despite their many attempts to leave their bad luck behind them, they always end up finding their way into a situation somewhat more serious than the one that they have just left. Maybe some of you out there are yet to experience such tragedy in your lives, and those lucky few who happen to be reading this should give up this venture immediately and take up a far more joyful pastime, such as lacrosse or fishing.
I'm sorry to have to document the tale of the Baudelaires in such explicit detail, but that's just how the story goes.
Klaus was bored.
It was a cold, foggy day in the city, and the three Baudelaire children were at Briny Beach. Being the bright, well-read boy of twelve that he was, it was unusual for Klaus to be bored during a day trip to the beach. But this morning his parents had woken him and his two sisters, Violet and Sunny, early in the morning, insisting that they venture to the beach - a phrase which here means "forced them out of the house to 'make the most of the weather' at a cold, sunless beach."
Klaus, being the avid reader that he was, spent most of his time in the extensive library that his parents owned in the Baudelaire mansion, and had managed to read a great many books. Of course, being only twelve, he hadn't managed to read all of the books in their library, although he hoped that one day he would, but his intelligent mind already held more information than those of most adults.
He had been in the middle of reading a book about small molluscs before retiring to bed the previous evening, and had been eager to continue reading on this particular grey day. Now, having explored the tide-pools at Briny Beach as he loved doing on every trip, he had become frustrated to find that he knew everything about all the little creatures lurking in the murky waters of the tide-pools aside from a few small orange-brown molluscs, which he had been hoping to read up on that very same morning.
With nothing better to do, he averted his attention away from the tide-pools to look out along the foggy beach. It was almost deserted; it was a weekday, and it wasn't quite lunchtime, so the beach was yet to be inundated with stressed, important-looking businessmen and workers, who often took to the calming beach during their lunch-break, and due to this, the beach was very quiet.
It may be quiet, but it really isn't tranquil, thought Violet Baudelaire, the eldest of the three siblings. She had come prepared for the day's grim weather, being wrapped up within a fabric coat, her collar turned up to protect her face from the biting wind.
Whenever Violet came down to Briny Beach, she often found that she enjoyed walking along the pebbly shore and skipping stones into the water. She had always thought that she was quite good at stone skipping, as on a good day with a nice, flat pebble, she could manage to get the small rock to jump across the surface of the sea at least fifteen or twenty times before it finally succumbed to the siren song of gravity and was pulled under the waves.
But today was not a good day. The sea was grey and choppy, and there were remarkably few good stones to be found for skipping. It was a rarity that the beach would be so quiet, and Violet felt disappointed that she was unable to enjoy the full potential of the moment, as the lack of people made the beach seem desolate, and a sense of foreboding hung heavy in the air, a phrase which here means "Violet felt as though something awful was just around the corner, waiting to happen."
Still, she tried to make the most of a bad lot, and was attempting to engage her quick, inventing mind in trying to create a device that would be able to help her retrieve favourable stones from the sea after she had skipped them across the waves.
Frustrated by the wind, she reached into her coat pocket for a thin strip of blue ribbon, which she used to tie up her long hair, stopping the wind from blowing it in front of her eyes. She often found herself doing this, as her fourteen-year-old mind never wanted to be distracted by anything as trivial as her hair.
Despite not being distracted by her hair, her dismal performance at stone skipping that morning was enough to irritate her keen inventing mind, and Violet gave up, sitting down on the beach next to her baby sister, staring out into the sombre sea.
Sunny Baudelaire was by far the youngest sibling, and often felt that she had already passed out of babyhood, having already reached her second birthday. However, her brother and sister refused to share this opinion, partly due to the fact that Sunny was very small for her age, and had not yet managed to learn to walk. She was, however, quick-minded, and already her speech was beginning to show through, with odd words being comprehendible to the adult world. Her brother and sister were the only two people she knew capable of understanding her unintelligible murmurs, moans and shrieks that one would expect from two-year-old infants.
As Violet sat down next to her, Sunny reached out to grab her sister's arm, comforting her. She rested her little head against Violet's shoulder as her elder sister sighed in frustration, staring out to sea. Turning to look along the beach towards her brother Klaus, Sunny noticed a dark shape approaching them from the fog from behind her brother.
"Togi!" Sunny shouted, which meant something along the lines of "there's an ominous figure in the mist behind you!", pointing over Klaus' shoulder.
Violet, who was still looking out into the unruly sea, misunderstood Sunny, and believed that her sister was trying to console her.
"It doesn't matter, Sunny," she said, still staring out to sea. "I can always try again another day."
Only with repeated cries of "Togi!" and Sunny nudging her shoulder repetitively did Violet understand what her sister meant.
Klaus, however, had understood his baby (not not-quite-baby) sister immediately, and had been edging backwards away from the shifty figure until he reached Violet, who had stood up and held Sunny in her arms.
But the figure did not stop advancing, and as the Baudelaires stood perfectly still on the beach on that fateful day, they became aware of the noise that the figure was making as it appeared to stumble towards them; coughing, spluttering and possibly even crying.
"Violet!" the figure called out in a harsh, ragged voice that sounded familiar to the eldest Baudelaire. She knew in an instant who the voice belonged to, but part of her hoped that she was wrong.
"Klaus!" the voice called between sobs, and the middle Baudelaire also knew who the voice belonged to, although he also hoped that the figure would be an entirely different person.
"Sunny!" the figure wailed, and even though Sunny had kittle over two years of experience in the world, she had lived enough to recognise the voice of the figure, who at that moment burst out of the darkness of the fog and dropped to their knees in front of the Baudelaire children.
At this point, dear reader, I am sorry to say that the Baudelaire children have reached the first unfortunate event in what will eventually become the miserable tale of their lives. Of course, the Baudelaire children did not know this at the time, much as I did not know that when I first arrived on Briny Beach many summers ago, there would be a man telling me to attend a garden party the following weekend in a city I barely knew whilst wearing my second-best tie-dye t-shirt, and that there would be a copy of my favourite novel at the party, within which there would be a note consisting of three letters waiting for me from 'a man that I once knew.'
The person in front of them was a woman, who if the Baudelaires hadn't known better, could have been aged twenty-five or fifty. She was of average height and quite slim, but the clothes that she wore were blackened and charred, and soot covered her skin, with only her bright eyes and white teeth sticking out from the blackness as she hung her head sadly, as though in defeat. Tears were flowing steadily from the woman's eyes, forming tracks down her sooty cheeks.
Her hair may have been scorched and thinned in places, and she may have been bent double trying to cough up the horrid chemicals that were embedded within her lungs, but the Baudelaire children were still able to recognise their mother within the broken person who knelt before them.
"Mother!" cried Violet, dropping to her knees in front of her parent. "What happened?" she asked desperately.
The Baudelaire parent took time to compose herself before answering.
"There was a fire," she croaked, struggling for breath between new waves of sobs. "The Baudelaire Mansion... Our home... It's gone!"
"Gone?" said Violet and Klaus incredulously, and at the same time.
"Poof?" said Sunny, not quite understanding.
"Yes," the Baudelaires' mother said, "the whole house was razed to the ground. Bertrand and I..."
"Where is father?" asked Klaus, concerned. Just like his sisters, it had taken him a minute for him to truly understand what his mother was saying. Now that the news had sunk in - a phrase which here means "Klaus had realised thar his home was gone, and that he could never go back" - he had taken off his glasses and was rubbing them against his shirt as the first tears ran down his face.
"I don't know," said his mother, who was slowly starting to regain her composure after the traumas of the morning. "He managed to escape it, though. But only just, like me."
"Mama!" Sunny said, crawling up to her mother and sister on the beach, embracing both of them.
And there, for a few moments, the Baudelaires cried, shocked by the unfortunate event that had befallen them.
"Mother," Violet asked through her tears. "Who did this? Surely this wasn't an accident?"
"I don't know," Mrs Baudelaire cried. "All I do know is that the city isn't safe before," she said, with a determination that the Baudelaire children hadn't seen all morning.
"What does that mean?" asked Klaus, who was distraught.
His mother never answered him. Instead, she uneasily got to her feet, wiped the soot and tears from her eyes, and said, "I must find Bertrand."
And with that, she turned on her heel and walked away from the children into the mist as the first unfortunate chapter of their lives unfolded.
(Serious) Author's Note: If you liked the first chapter, please review! Any constructive criticism is welcomed, as I'm really not sure what to do about the writing style. I have just one question: should I carry on with this Snicket-styled narrative? It'd be simple enough to convert the story to use 'normal' narrative techniques if the current narrative is at all tiresome.
Again, I hope that you enjoyed the first chapter of what may well be a very long story.