25 February 2007

Additional Vaultage

I've spent the last few days revising and writing more of the novella. Current word count is roughly 18,000 out of 25,000 words, although as I have at least 9,000 still to write it's looking like I'll be overrunning a little.

(Oh, and I've written the Giant Space Mirrors column. Watch this blog for news of its appearance at Surefish.)

I've also been reading books and watching TV, but I'm probably not going to get the time to blog them for a short while yet. Life on Mars is good, though.

Fortunately, I have some more of The Curse of Odin-Hotep in reserve.
The first sign of the burglar’s arrival was the careful removal of a grille set into the ceiling, protecting the bottom of a ventilation shaft. It was a time-consuming process, as each strand of the grille had to be sawn through individually and silently, without alerting the patrols of Royal Archivists in the Vault below.

This done, the grille was lifted gently up the shaft, from which the intruder’s balaclavaed head emerged almost at once to peer down into the Vault. A pair of gloved hands followed, and soon the body that connected them was wriggling, sloughing off the tightness of the shaft with painful slowness, until its hips came free and it fell.

The figure twisted in the air with agile and uncanny freedom to land crouching, feet-first, upon the nearest stack of crates. It was still holding the detached grille of the ventilator and the handsaw, both of which it placed quietly upon the wooden slats of the topmost crate. Its night-black clothing, set about with bulging nodes, vibrated silently with obscure energy.

A quick glance around reassured the thief that the untoward presence in the Vault had not been noticed. The Archivists were changing shifts at present, and were occupied in the complicated security protocols associated with the process.

The figure stepped to the edge of the wall of crates, and dropped – lightly again, and gracefully – down to the concrete floor. It paused a moment to examine the lettering on the nearest crate, then headed purposefully away along the alleyway.

Despite some knowledge of the basic filing algorithms, the search was not an easy one, and it was not long before the Archivists had successfully negotiated their defensive rituals. The burglar had some idea of the pattern which their patrols would be following, and took an altogether different route among the crates.

Name after name, date after date, presented themselves, identifying men and years long lost to the world: P ASKWITH – 1940. DR C T MONTAGUE – 1909. W L WONG – 1956.

A soldier turned the corner at the far end of the alley, his head turned back to call behind him to his mate. Quick as a snake, the thief leapt limberly onto the nearest, mercifully low, wall of crates. Clambering to the top the intruder lay still, coveralls throbbing gently, breathing as unobtrusively as possible.

Had the Archivist noticed something amiss? Had he been ordered to vary his routine from time to time? Was he just bored?

The danger of discovery passed with the echo of his boots.

Five minutes later, the thief was examining one of the oldest crates, whose yellow wood and greying stencilled letters spelled out the inscription: T G TRAVERS – 1896.

In one deft movement, the figure unbuttoned a pocket at its thigh and withdrew a short and slender crowbar.

[Pax Britannia series elements © Abaddon Press 2005.]
Can you guess the later twist about the burglar's identity, gentlemen and -- quite possibly -- ladies?

...I'm going to run out of this sample at some point, probably before I stop being so busy. I may have to resort to posting links to amusing videos.

(Oh, all right then. WARNING: The above link is not for the easily offended, especially sincere believers in the divinity of Mel Gibson.)

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