As ever, to read the previous 33 chapters, please click here.
And to read the first four parts of Chapter 34, you need posts #34a and #34b-d below this one.
Now Chapter 34 concludes thusly…
Wednesday 13th November 1985: 13.45 – 14.15
‘Okay, Sal, I’ll be off then.’
‘Sally, if you don’t mind. You have your notes?’
‘Yep. Thanks for those. Who’d have thought 14th Century Singapore novelists knew exactly what present-day British teenagers needed for passing their O-levels?’
Sally was using her ‘even’ stare — number five on her scale that ran from ‘well, I don’t mind you really’ to ‘don’t think I even begin to approve of you in any way, shape or form’. Number five was the one she knew discomfited Kevin above all others; so neutral, he couldn’t start to guess what she was thinking about him. Really — the poor devil was so easy to wind up.
She knew she shouldn’t; but, hey, until he stopped being so awkward around her, and finally asked what she’d known for two years he wanted to ask, she wasn’t going to make things easy for him.
Hello. Was this it, at last? An invitation to go with him, perhaps? A couple of nights in Aberystwyth, leading who knew where?
‘Erm — Kev. And, erm —’
She waited. Honestly — you could kick them sometimes, couldn’t you!
‘Well — if, erm, you could contact Joe, just ask him if he’s able to get in; give you a bit of a hand; do some of the filing, that kind of thing…
Oh, for goodness’ sake!
‘Yes, I’ll contact Joseph.’ She turned her stare up to number eight, the one that was just over half-way towards commencing ‘gl’ rather than ‘st’.
‘I have it on my “to do” list,’ she added, using the voice that matched the expression. ‘It’s directly under the item that tells me to remind you that if you don’t get a move on, you’ll miss your train and won’t even get to the festival.’
‘Oh, right. Yes. Erm — well — erm. See you, then.’
She watched as he practically ran out of the door, then shook her head. Really…
Oh well. She stood, and went into Kevin’s office. A pile of manuscripts sat on one corner of his desk; all but one of them from HL ‘I’m the greatest novelist that’s ever set fingers to typewriter’ Danvers, of course.
She flicked through the pile, finding the exception to the Danvers rule four down; directly underneath the three that had come by special courier that morning. Which, she noted with no interest whatsoever, had the thoroughly alluring titles: Slave Life-forms Of The Charms Of The Oolaxianic Empire; You Cannot Resist The Charms Of The Oolaxianic Empire So Stop Trying To; and The Oolaxianic Empire Conquers All Of Known Space Until A New Form Of Life Is Found That Is Impervious To Its Charms And Manages To Instigate A Rebellion Which Finally Rids The Universe Of The Oolaxianic Empire Completely.
Maybe somewhere there was a new form of life that would rid the universe of HL Danvers completely. She could, for Kevin’s sake, only hope.
She settled herself at the desk, and opened the new author’s manuscript. As Kevin had remarked yesterday, it was somewhat thicker than she remembered. Good title, though. Punchy, and to the point. She made a mental note to find out something about the saint whose name appeared in it.
The author’s name could do with a bit of re-think, though. That ‘Z’ was totally ridiculous…
She stared at the phone. Now, if the same thing happened as yesterday; and, according to Kevin, every other time he’d opened this file…
She waited, counting down under her breath, then frowned. No — nothing.
Oh well. She shrugged, and began to read.