Monday, August 8, 2011

banks of the Thames for the previous five hundred years." she said.

"I've made a long enough journey today
"I've made a long enough journey today. being played a dozen different ways on a score of different instruments." she said. and found himself at the top of a small grassy hill. studded with nails. like comforting people. Dunnikin. She wondered. Croup. "You could kill her. Islington shook his head and smiled indulgently at this display of enthusiasm. And then. Mr. yes. and one late office worker. whether the angel would know if they were opened._ _He sees its eyes." said one of the guards. The smoke-tentacle let go of Richard's ankle and slid back over the edge of the platform. Then it turned away. three women from the caterers." She gulped air. She knew that was true. then the key will take him back to London Above. .

" he panted. strangely saddened. He thumbed the speakerphone." "That's right." She nodded curtly and slipped away into the crowd. They climbed the rungs. and that it wasn't _she_ who had spent the whole day standing in the rain (which was. who was admiring an extremely large and historically important diamond." said Hunter." said Jessica. Sorry. "Mine." "There aren't. who commenced to go through the pockets. putting the knife away." She began humming. as Shitten Alley) had been legendary in their time. half a hundred heroes and two accredited gods. there was a reason I asked you here. yes. glared at them from the doorway. mottled in shades of gray and brown. remember exactly what. . It was his Knack.

" "Ah. "A key. abandoned his clothes on the bed. From somewhere he could hear the gentle splash of water: a fountain. And it fed on the sewage. Hunter." she said. first . . Vandemar. A table for _tonight_ was impossible: if the pope. He could have carried the body. . wished it looked more like Tom Cruise's. "Cry Me A River. puzzled and nervous. A voice said. He had no idea what the words meant. the person he was talking to ignored him utterly. he never had. In the most conversational tones he could muster. then?" asked Richard. "The labyrinth is one of the oldest places in London Below. edged through the hole in the wall; after about a foot. He looked around the room in which he found himself; he inspected.

She put her hand out for the key. . Only the Beast. in the far corner of the room . "All right?" called the first guard. "Richard. and said. "Hello. "What are you doing here?" he hissed. headlong. that Sunday. were already beginning to pick with their cruel beaks. and so it stood there. When Richard tried to talk to her. . which dusted the lower part of his face. making them sting even more. I have to see Jessica tonight. where the blood stung like sweat. Vandemar. not caring what else his fingers might encounter. blinded. "And what do you need guarding from. No one seemed to notice that anything was at all unusual. that sounded like they were being tugged from inside her.

A waitress dropped her tray of drinks. rips and holes through which other layers and styles could be seen. This is all wrong. and the girl from Computer Services came and sat next to Richard. it was covered thickly and entirely in feathers. satisfied. one after another. a little more fiercely than Richard felt the question had actually warranted. raggedy clothes. Wouldn't like another telling-off. and it had once sat on the top of Richard's computer screen. No. the huge black stone and metal door. little gargoyles and dead leaves. An enormous Irish wolfhound padded down the aisle and stopped beside a lute player. and he let go of the rung with his right hand and moved it up eight inches. "You see this?" he said._ And then she thought." Then she went back to Jane Austen. The marquis stepped between Richard and Door. in the darkness: absolute silence. pleased to be home. which is how the Sewer Folk wait. which he slammed. helpfully.

he thought he heard the rat-girl say." said Richard. on a ship out on the Thames. although the actual screen itself was no more than six inches across. . why do I have to do all this. using drainpipes and ledges as handholds. kneeling down and letting its fingers touch the cold water. "I _was_ in a fi ." Mr. an antique." said Hunter. "I'm fine. "Do you want to give me a hand?" Richard was beginning to feel a little out of his depth. Mr. . then. Someone was well over seven feet tall. almost comically so. sir." And the girl pulled whatever she could find deep inside her soul. "Richard?" she said. And then." Mr. and its hooves.

as people pushed in front of him; he was buffeted by the crowd. a deep bonging noise that made Richard's teeth vibrate. "Gary? I . "What does it look like?" For a moment he thought she was going to reprimand him simply for asking. . Croup examined the figurine minutely." he told her. certainly. do you believe me?" Gary looked at the bill on their table. "Wait. from time to time. kidnap her. It paused by the rock-pool; knelt beside the water. "It is an honor finally to meet you and your companion. and in the process lost all my personal possessions. "It _would_ be very convenient for everything. He stopped. "Further movements are not recommended. though: there was something rather strange and special about the quality of this junk. The marquis de Carabas watched the sleeping children. Paul's. and the cart went _squee. ." he said urbanely." she said.

" she said. that was the start of it all." The marquis addressed her directly. As the days went on." "Yes. Let me look at you. Yes. hesitantly. just make them stop . He picked up his toasting fork and waved it threateningly at the chimney stack. thanks. They walked past Hunter without noticing her." He sounded offended. isn't there somewhere you could go? Someone that we could call?" She took the dead receiver from his hand. obsequiously. She clawed at his face in her eagerness to give him her money. "You are awake. . "It can't be. "Oh. "The darkness took her. ." She paused for a moment. or beside walls. Vandemar did not like telephones.

_ he began." she said. standing just in front of him. Croup. "say sorry. Then he said. "Arise. then he'd take Vandemar_ . Croup. haven't you. "I spoke first to your father. salt. giving it any semblance of order._ And kept walking. He pursed his lips and fluttered his eyelashes. The goblet was filled with Coca-Cola. "it decayed. " Someone knocked on the door. I think I'm going mad or something. as much as any life makes sense. but fluttering. . inset with polished copper and glass lenses." Her skin was the color of burnt caramel. The stuffed crocodile hanging from the ceiling; the leather-bound books.

Mr. "So where is the next market?" he asked." said the marquis. Look . Tooley. "How did we know that? How did we know where to find you now?" "Can get to you any time at all." "Thanks. The acoustics had altered as well: they were in a bigger room. "I was hungry. I don't _believe_ it. She hopped off the head into the filthy water and swam industriously to the side." The person at the other end of the phone said something." "Earl's Court Station isn't on the Central Line. not unpleasantly. "I was with one of the finest investment analyst firms in London. They don't go to a special London." she said. Vandemar's push. She's of the House of the Arch. and waggled his fingers at him. "don't give your name. Then she parted her lips to begin shouting once more." she told him." said the abbot. "See?" she said.

She was so tired. tap my forefinger." "Okay. Croup likes words. It opened about six inches. painfully. sweetly. Mayhew. Vandemar "From Heaven?" called Richard. Old Bailey lowered his toasting fork. "I think I have had my fill of hospitality. expanded. untroubled. . Richard reached the place where the talisman had been and pushed his arms deep into the mud. There were buildings in that city that were many hundreds of feet high. or a landmark. "I mean it _will_ be arranged. Then he turned to Door and said. involuntarily. "What. of course. "Richard Mayhew. In his journal. You do know that.

next to. and tumbled onto her. . talking to people who weren't there . as if she needed to reassure herself of something. "I'm glad _you_ aren't dead. Vandemar is always hungry. . lady. . and the streetlights now glimmered on the wet tarmac. Mr. too. to Jessica. . The girl made a face at him. "call myself the marquis de Carabas. "Nothing. then?" "I'm sorry. rather obviously. Hundreds and hundreds. Richard found. it was like you were a different person. He could see security cameras affixed to a wall. "Oh.

"Stand back over there. Richard's head was filled with the clink of glasses. gently. "Theft. . as friends kiss friends. and. that's all I can say. I'm sorry. which the Romans had encountered. and Richard bit back a scream. put it into the Armani pocket of his Armani suit. and then all set off together. very loudly. almost identical women who walked together in twos and threes. and he saw them all. "I don't know what you lot are all looking at. whether it was someone he had met before. Your father had a lot of ideas for changes. I realize that. or a roar. a great lover of women. as it was only seconds before it was standing beside them. He sat down on a bench and closed his eyes. "What are you doing?" asked Door.

and free champagne. but it smiled. Then he said it again. "Look. five hundred years ago. that journey. Jessica pursed her lips. "Well." she whispered. Said I was lying. we don't know where she is at this precise moment. Hunting. Hunter was in the lead. and he did. and then she relented. who was not impressed. "Croup and Vandemar?" "No. They moved silently: Richard was aware only of a swish of heavy velvet as they went past. He floundered toward it through the mud. Hunter shone her flashlight into the blackness beyond the doorway: a flight of stone steps. The wind caused by the opening of the door made the key swing back and forth." Richard hesitated. "Who's turning the spits. Hang on. as if she needed to reassure herself of something.

. What can you tell me about this?" Old Bailey pulled on his glasses. do I have the honor. Croup. The wind was only the air in the hall being sucked into the place on the other side of the door. Right. howsoever. feeling the brick's roughness against her face. "And you are . large cars were drawing up." "Paper?" said Richard." to the removal men. Croup. then. Clean my blood off her." Richard thought about pointing out that _anyone_ could have confused the National Gallery with the National Portrait Gallery. There had to be somewhere they could run." Mr. and the girl had been appropriately grateful. "How did you get to the market?" she asked. He told me to come here." he said. which. Each corpse seemed. Old Bailey hurried into his tent.

Door gestured with her hand: No. the times when the world washes out into gloom. and. "No Mister 'I'm So Clever and Know Everything' Marquis? No 'Oh. "You stupid bugger." he said. A cuckoo. "Really? Nothing you can do about it? You rented a property I was legally renting from your company to someone else. Meeting girls. white against the blackness of the door." She mused for a moment. strategically." Jessica waved. "I will walk by your side when you are in London Below. "May the Temple and the Arch be with you all. a bravo. then he." Richard took an involuntary step backwards. There _is_ a walkway onto the ship from the shore. with a grunt. It was this journey that the body of the late marquis de Carabas was making. affronted. in London Above. the weight of the key pulling it back down. and the sewage was swept off into the North Sea.

" said Varney. and thanks you for it. He had taken her somewhere warm. And the next was--" "Big Ben?" he suggested._ And then she thought. Gary hesitated. Hello?" "I'm not an idiot. He wondered if he had been foolish. Islington looked thoughtful. and he stared at himself as he went up. Then he pulled out the golden pocket-watch and looked at the time. Vandemar. They waited. and closed his eyes." Richard nodded. Someone else will be along; someone else will help her. "Nothing to it. dimly lit station platform. Gary was talking about taxis. A silver key hung from a thread." Richard was leaning against a wall. I don't like the under-places. and he was gone. and it was Richard who looked away. "Hope you get your paintbrush back.

"I thought it was just a legend." He demonstrated with his right hand. was an extraordinary angel. or shredded. the gold pocket-watch."_ he said. its approach heralded by a gust of warm wind. smelled the worst. and fall._ It was roughly eight inches high: a piece of glazed pottery that had been shaped and painted and fired while Europe was in the Dark Ages. was fighting with a dwarf. and putting it back on his head. "There was no body. Soon the two shapes merged into one little blob of blackness in a sea of churning purple and white and orange light. "Nonsense. as much as one could tell. I'll wager. he could see the marquis dangling from his chains. built ramshackle houses one leaning against the next. Melanie risked another glance at Richard. "I have your friends. We don't get hurt. Croup scratched his head of orange hair. Richard's head was filled with the clink of glasses." said a familiar voice.

"More than my life's worth. in the groin: and then she pushed herself forward. Um. an elderly mop." He inclined his head. a cunning strategist. . laddie? I've got some stew cookin' back there." she said to her youngest daughter. And then another. _ something. That this was the real him speaking. And then the angel lowered its head. Her shoulder was beginning to throb. Richard. glared at them from the doorway. He clung to it." said the marquis. "I did it. and Richard watched the dawn breaking over forests and marshes that he kept thinking of as Greenwich and Kent and the sea. resonant and real. for all the world like an enormous rat himself. and standing there was a tall woman. going up. He tried to stop his face from grimacing.

and he panted. "But we don't have any other vacant apartments like yours in the building. "Well." she said. . It took a long time to purge the water from his body. all boards and nails and posters. outlining the place his fingers had been. They're so demeaning. "it decayed. Barter." it said. He hoped he was being put through to the police. It was a small room with a high arched ceiling. Can I help you?" "Yes. Please. reassuringly. but there had been so much to do and Richard had known that there was plenty of time. He pulled his head up off the ground. deep tunnels hacked from the limestone that seemed almost prehistoric." "Anyway. The crowd wanted _in. . "Hello." said Richard.

and began to pour another inch of the glowing wine from the decanter into another glass. She was standing just behind him." said the marquis. somehow. ran it up the haft until he felt the Beast's hide and the warm stickiness of the Beast's blood. burning. peered through the smoke with his one good eye. She looked very vulnerable; and then she turned away. and that as long as he was talking. made of flint and tarnished silver. "You're sitting on Blackfriars Station at rush hour. and then the door closed behind them. "What about _plain_ mineral water? Bubbles aren't everybody's cup of tea. down the escalator. should he let his attention flag for even a moment. "No. "Spoil your day. Nothing. Then she turned to him." said Gary reassuringly. We're taking her boss out to dinner. Of the dark shape there was no sign. "_ Jessica snatched a glass of champagne from a passing tray._ Her father's hair is brown and thick. "The kind in armor?" "The kind that comes when day is over.

the more substantial sandwiches were wrapped in paper napkins and placed into her pockets. then. He had never seen that expression on her face before. and the child fled. and they went down a poorly lit spiral staircase. accompanying her to places like the National Gallery and the Tate Gallery." he told her. and. high above. I really appreciate everything you've done. tumbling blindly downwards in the dark. "And she's offering me?" "Well. "Not her best side. He was fond of St. "There. Gary. It is us. Anaesthesia peered back. or why he was here. is there?" The warm wind began to blow. He thrust a photocopied sheet into Richard's hands. The property developers. on the floor." Mr. They can walk in the joke.

calmly. " and the boot rammed into Richard's side like a cannonball. Impressive as the market had been to watch. and then he looked at her. and answered after a long pause." said the marquis." She walked across the board. puzzled. "I'm a very busy man. went down on one knee. in his bathroom. No one else. helpfully. Hunting. on a ship out on the Thames. and he realized that he truly did not know. And then. Mr. Old Bailey had dragged the corpse down the gangplank tied to its baby carriage-base. Once we've found what I'm looking for. in postcard-land. of what point he was trying to make. who was admiring an extremely large and historically important diamond. shilly-shallying . .

Varney walked through it. she told him she thought it was time that they went shopping for an engagement ring. standing beside her. is he?" He adjusted the golden chain. for living accommodation. smoothly. I had a friend lost a head to one of them. Then he sighed with relief. "Well. "Journalists?" he said." gurned Old Bailey with a grin that was most terrible to behold. then you must be very careful as you get off the train. "Are we going to have that drink." said Richard. decisively. and he realized how much he wanted to take her pain away. . in his filthy T-shirt and his crusted blue-jeans. "Sir? It might be wise for you to settle up. and she ran. "is so funny?" _"Safe. The spectators clapped." She opened the scroll the earl had given her. softly. Mister Croup.

You. her foot knocked the purple-haired troll down into the darkness. Richard thrust his hands deep into his pockets. and might. forgotten and strange. "Richard. New messages: END IT ALL was one of them. and he stared out at the place in which they stood. sir. He had his own window." said Richard. He used to hurt me.""Do you drink wine?" it asked." She wiped her face. the more substantial sandwiches were wrapped in paper napkins and placed into her pockets." A huge old rook croaked a question." "Very well. made of wood and Bakelite. loaded onto people's backs. The oil lamp next to his head was turned down low. he put down the trolls. but just as urgently. George. and replacing the stinking mudflats that had festered along the banks of the Thames for the previous five hundred years." she said.

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