In with the new….
I started what I thought was a novella before Christmas, following the somewhat successful completion of three novellas which I offered free on my website and which have amassed nearly 150,000 pages viewed in just over two months. See them at: www.chronometerpublications.me
Like best laid plans in life, the novella has gone astray. 200 pages astray. The end is in sight for the first draft which I thought you might like to taste here. It is the first short chapter and exactly how it came out on the page. It’s called A Woman Who Kills and is a take on superheroes, here set in a dystopian future where the internet has gone kaput.
She sat hunched with her back against a broken dry stone wall on the hilltop of a bumpy ridge in the Farmsteads. The bony line of uplands ran down most of the centre of the country so she could see hundreds of square miles to the east and the same to the west, sugared with frost. Not far away, its motor chugging on vegetable oils like a steamroller, stood the camouflaged car. Built like a tank, every external element of it was designed to withstand bomb and bullet. It had three rows of seats, the central one for its cargo; the wealthiest of private passengers, senior civil servants, gangland bosses and Cabinet Ministers. And her.
Far away, coming out of the southeast, its fuselage flashing in the low winter sun, was an armoured tank of a car with two motor cycle outriders moving in a shallow arc up the escarpment towards her. Her mobile phone had sent her exact co-ordinates towards it. The newly positioned tele-communications satellite was making work that much easier for those with membership of its elite population of clients. Everywhere, people had mothballed their once state of the art video-phones against the day that prices dropped sufficiently for them to subscribe to the new network. For at least another couple of years the devices would be worth next to nothing. There was talk that Spacecell Inc., which had launched the satellite, was planning to keep the new systems incompatible with the old.
She stood up from her shelter, into the wind, its razor edge making her eyes water. Then she stepped gingerly over the springy bog turf towards the meadow with its circle of standing stones. The car drew to a halt fifty metres from the prehistoric site. A tall man in a long black cashmere coat and balaclava climbed out. She pulled a scarf around her nose and lower face and entered the circle. He came in from the other side.
â€œGrace,â€ he acknowledged with a moneyed accent.
â€œSir,â€ she greeted him in return, her tone light and amused at the lengths he went for secrecy.
â€œAre you well?â€
â€œNo news from your father?â€
â€œNo. None expected.â€
â€˜He was always a reprobate. But we must be thankful that he and your mother produced you.â€
â€œIt was no fluke.â€
â€œIndeed. Your biography confirms it. Time for the ultimate work now.â€
â€œI am listening.â€
â€œItâ€™s all on here,â€ he said, taking the drive from his pocket in a yellow, card envelope and passing it over.
â€œIâ€™ll take a look.â€
â€œGood. Threat to Parliament. Plots against our noble realm. The prevention of a meltdown of life as we know it, eh? As if we hadnâ€™t melted enough already. Nobody is exempt. Even me. â€
She laughed. â€œI hardly know you, so that wonâ€™t be a problem. What about my relations with Bloque?â€
â€œMaintain them as normal. Bloque is especially interesting which is why I introduced you. He eats too well for a Service Head. He will suggest you eliminate a retired she-hag. Do so. She deserves retribution. But use his commission to seek out her network. She is not far from the centre of my concerns.â€ The man turned away. Then he looked back at her, offering a small metal badge stitched on to leather. â€œYou might need this from now on. Youâ€™re official. Show it sparingly.â€ He took a pace away, â€œItâ€™s good we could meet here. My first visit to Arbor Low. Gives a bit of spice to our rendezvous. What do you think of its ambience?â€
Grace stilled her mind. She picked up a faint fizz of static. â€œIt has presence.â€
â€œYes. Once the communications satellite of its time. Ok Grace. You can go. Iâ€™ll meditate awhile.â€
Her last image as she glanced over her shoulder was of him facing the keystone with its hole for the winter solstice, arms crossed in front of his chest, palms on shoulders. Everyone to his own.