Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Wet Paper Bags

Someone once said that dropping through the space-time continuum was like dropping a stone through a wet paper bag.*

Whatever happened to paper bags? Everything used to come in one and yet you don’t even see bread in them these days. I remember watching Harold when he was small. There’s an aqueduct on the Kelvon and Anith canal on the outskirts of Laverstone and he would take a few brown paper bags – the small one that he bought six penn’orth of sweets in – and wait for a car to come up the lane underneath. Then he’d fill one of the bags with canal water and drop it off the bridge. If he timed it right it would crash on the top of the car with an almighty bang and scare the driver half to death.

Then he’d run.

I remember him being chased for almost a mile once by an irate driver who thought he’d hit something. The souls I’d mark off for future collection because of that must have numbered in the dozens. I was so proud of him. He didn’t know me then; couldn’t even see me because we’d blocked his natural sight.

My point is that dropping through the magical field is nothing like that. Imagine instead falling down a really tall chimney. One of those ones you see being knocked down by a man with a beard and a box of matches. Dropping through a magic field is like falling down one of those, except that every few feet there’s a piece of very thin, razor-sharp wire stretched across the diameter. Every wire you hit cuts through you and releases a little bit of your magical energy, so by the time you hit the bottom you feel drained and empty, and something else is taking advantage of all that free power.

That’s what will happen here one day.

Laverstone attracts magical beings like poo attracts flies. Each being that arrives adds another stone to the rubber sheet of magic that overlays the landscape, making its circle of influence a little bit wider, which attracts even more magical beings… You get the picture.

When there’s enough magic here we’ll get meltdown and a big hole will be ripped in the Planar Continuum and allow all the creatures from all the planes to come pouring through. We call that time the Apocalypse, and all it needs to happen is a critical mass of magical beings to converge on Laverstone at the same time.

That’s why we don’t want an antichrist here. One of those would be like dropping a steel Chinese tinkly massage ball into a paper bag full of feathers.

A wet paper bag at that.

I need to find out who the father of Meinwen’s child is. I know the Lord Azazel had a fling with her last year, but the foetus is no more that a fornight old and I don’t thing the fallen grigori could sustain that much interest in a mortal woman. If it is his, though, something will have to be done. Even if it turns out to be a boy (and therefore not an antichrist), a child of Azazel’s could have enough power to tip the balance.

I tried to think of a delicate way to ask her who the father was, but she slapped my face when I did. Apparently “Who are you shagging these days?” isn’t a polite question to ask a lady.

*Yes I know it was Douglas Adams in The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy but I didn’t want to give him the publicity. He’s doing very nicely, if you’re interested, in the Publicity Department, answering complaints for BT. I think he’s even allowed to use commas now.

Later. X

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