Saturday, August 28, 2010

Dead Rite chapter 20.01

Chapter 20

There was a silence.

More than a silence, there was an absence of noise.

Silence is never really absolute. It is filled with breath, wind, the beating of a heart, the hum of the central-heating boiler, the drip of blood from the ceiling. What was here was a complete absence of any sound whatsoever. An absence of noise that would drive a mortal mind mad in seconds and leave them hurling themselves over the banister just to break the silence.

It was broken by Jasfoup taking a long breath of air and letting it all out in a sigh. "Typical. Seventy-nine floors up and still no tea." He peered up the dark stairwell. "Do you think there might be a cafe up there selling tea and small slices of overpriced lemon drizzle cake?"

Devious followed his gaze. "Not really, sir. No."

"I thought not." Jasfoup sighed and crossed to the nearest bookshelf, almost in the shadow of the streetlight from the well of eternal desperation, aka the spiral staircase in the centre of the Tower of Records. "These shelves are made of gravestones."

"An aesthetic choice, sir, but an odd one considering the extra strain their weight must put on the superstructure." Devious traced the words etched into the nearest shelf.

Elizabeth Augustine Dolittle 1871 - 1974
Gorn but not Forgotten

He frowned. "I'm not sure these are real gravestones, sir."

Jasfoup glanced at the imp and pulled a torch out of his pocket, the fat-soaked rag at the end giving off an oily black smoke as it burned, and read out the nearest inscription.

The Railway Children 1905 – 1970
there's a pair of bloomers for you

"You're right, Devious. These are the records of lost innocence and the dreams that inspired them. The tower is more comprehensive than I thought. Imagine the accumulation of knowledge that lies mouldering in these stacks, crumbling to ashes and being eradicated from mortal history.

"Yes sir." Devious pulled out a cellophane-wrapped doll of a soldier in British army uniform, circa 1970. The face was squashed, as if by a great pressure. "A bit like the BBC I suppose, when they dispose of their old episodes of Dr. Who to make way for new ones of East Enders."

"Indeed." Jasfoup looked down. "I remember that doll. Harold bought it for five shillings but when he realised it wasn't a genuine action man he tried to ask for his money back. The vendor taught him a great lesson that day."

"What was that sir?"

"Caveat Emptor. Let the Buyer beware. it carried him through all his dealings for the rest of his life." He fished a folder out of the box. "Look! Here's the receipt for his trusting nature."


stephanie said...

I love all the tidbits of Harold's history when we get them.

"Not really, sir. No."

Love it. That and the concept of the records of lost innocence and dreams. Lovely.

Leatherdykeuk said...

Everything that ever made someone say "Curse you, God!"

Leatherdykeuk said...

Everything that ever made someone say "Curse you, God!"