My protagonist, Elizabeth Parker, is a young woman with a penchant for Jane Austen, all things English, sarcasm, and rash behavior. Not only that, but she has a face that prompts most family and friends to advise her to avoid playing poker. Ever. Therefore, the idea of her infiltrating a cult gives me pause. (Actually, it makes me laugh out loud in that horrible snorting manner that I’ve been trying to curtail, but I thought the whole “gives me pause” bit sounded better.)
Anyway, that said, there are only a few cults I could see Elizabeth infiltrating with any kind of believability. They are as follows:
· The Cult of Jane Austen – Originated in 1915, by Miss Emily Jacobs of Devonshire, England, this cult not only promotes the constant reading of Jane Austen’s works, but its members are required to insert portions of Ms. Austen’s dialog into their daily conversations. Members are also required to be able to recite both Captain Wentworth’s letter to Ann on command, as well as both of Mr. Darcy’s proposals to Elizabeth. Failure to do so results in immediate punishment, which varies from public rebuke all the way to the dreaded ‘Lydia Treatment’ wherein the member is tricked into thinking they are going to a Scottish retreat, but instead are sent to a dodgy part of London and forced to entertain a drunk man. Members meet once a month at a hidden location, where they dress in Indian muslin, drink tea, eat marzipan, and engage in snarky batter. The precise number of members is unknown, but it is thought to be in the millions.
· The Cult of Colin Firth – Founded in 1996 by Ms. Edwina Jennings of Trenton, New Jersey, the Cult of Colin Firth was created for one simple purpose; the tracking and monitoring of Colin Firth. Members are required to be able to recite every movie Mr. Firth has been in (in chronological order), recite most of the dialog from these movies, and know his current location within a tenth of a mile. The ultimate goal, of course, is to find him again emerging from a lake wearing a thin white shirt. Members are punished by being forced to watch continuous showings of two of Mr. Firth’s regrettable cinematic forays, What a Girl Wants and Mama Mia!, for days at a time.
· The Cult of Wanting to be English - Founded in 1932 by Ms. Jenna Marshal, the cult’s philosophy is very simple; the life of the upper class English, as depicted in the movies and books of the day, is preferable to reality. Members learn to speak in the upper class manner that suggests they are being slowly strangled. Muttering is also encouraged. Members must learn to ride (or at least be able to discuss riding at length) and must be able to not only play and understand cricket, but become irate if their access to the latest scores is in anyway thwarted. Female members must wear enormous, structurally unsound contraptions on their heads to every social function, and men must own at least three tweed jackets, eight scarves, and one bloodhound named “Duke”. All members must smoke. Members are punished for any infraction by being sent to Las Vegas for a month, and while there are forced to watch A Tribute to Manilow nightly. Its membership numbers are in the millions – with a particular spike occurring after most Superbowl halftime shows.
These are the cults that Elizabeth could penetrate, if needed. They are not well known, but they are not to be trifled with. Should the occasion arise for Elizabeth to infiltrate and right a wrong inflicted by any – or all – of these cults, you can rest easy, and know that she has the talent and ability to get the job done.