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Angel Wedge has been at 3 events

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Ingress4,599,691Shaper Septicycle 2014.42: AF02-GOLF-05 (Recife, BR)  AF04-SIERRA-01 (Ponta Delgada, Azores)  AF07-PAPA-03 (Casablanca, MA) [V] AF07-ROMEO-09 (Seville, ES) [V] AF09-SIERRA-11 (Montpellier, FR)  AF13-SIERRA-00 (Athens, GR)  AF14-CHARLIE-11 (Durban, ZA)  AF14-SIERRA-09 (Ankara, TR)  AM01-FOXTROT-06 (Denver, CO, USA)  AM01-GOLF-09 (Omaha, NE, USA)  AM01-JULIET-03 (Madison, WI, USA) [V] AM01-KILO-05 (Toronto, CA)  AM01-KILO-12 (Columbus, OH, USA)  AM02-ECHO-01 (Albuquerque, NM, USA) [V] AM02-GOLF-13 (Wichita, KS, USA)  AM02-HOTEL-12 (St. Louis, MO, USA)  AM02-LIMA-11 (Alexandria, VA, USA)  AM03-GOLF-00 (Houston, TX, USA)  AM03-KILO-10 (Atlanta, GA, USA)  AM05-JULIET-11 (Merida, MX)  AM06-HOTEL-04 (Guatemala, GT) [V] AM06-NOVEMBER-05 (Caracas, VE)  AM15-MIKE-01 (Santiago, CL)  AS10-GOLF-01 (Colombo, LK)  AS10-KILO-05 (George Town, MY) [V] AS11-MIKE-10 (Ho Chi Minh City, VN)  AS12-ECHO-03 (Mumbai, IN)  AS13-PAPA-04 (Taichung, TW)  AS14-ALPHA-07 (Riyadh, SA) [V] AS15-PAPA-09 (Shanghai)  NR01-ECHO-00 (Budapest, HU)  NR01-ECHO-13 (Belgrade, RS)  NR01-FOXTROT-02 (Zagreb, HR) [V] NR01-FOXTROT-06 (Vienna, AT)  NR01-GOLF-03 (Milan, IT)  NR01-GOLF-06 (Geneva, CH)  NR02-FOXTROT-04 (Dresden, DE) [V] NR02-FOXTROT-15 (Warsaw, PL)  NR02-GOLF-08 (Hanover, DE)  NR02-GOLF-12 (Dusseldorf, DE)  NR02-HOTEL-03 (Utrecht, NL)  NR03-GOLF-00 (Oslo, NO)  NR03-GOLF-09 (Copenhagen, DK)  NR04-DELTA-08 (Nizhny Novgorod, RU) NR04-KILO-11 (Reykjavik, IS)  NR13-ROMEO-10 (Portland, OR, USA)  PA01-ALPHA-14 (Nagano, JP)  PA03-ROMEO-11 (Canberra, AU)  PA04-PAPA-08 (Brisbane, AU)  PA07-SIERRA-08 (Christchurch, NZ) [V] Shaper Septicycle 2014.43: AF02-FOXTROT-11 (Salvador, BR)  AF07-SIERRA-02 (Porto, PT)  AF11-SIERRA-13 (Naples, IT)  AF13-CHARLIE-10 (Johannesburg, ZA) [V] AF14-ROMEO-10 (Alexandria, EG)  AF15-NOVEMBER-01 (Jeddah, SA)  AM01-CHARLIE-07 (San Jose, CA, USA)  AM01-ECHO-06 (Provo, UT, USA)  AM01-LIMA-12 (Syracuse, NY, USA)  AM02-DELTA-04 (Las Vegas, NV, USA)  AM02-DELTA-12 (Tijuana, MX)  AM02-JULIET-06 (Bloomington, IN, USA)  AM02-KILO-00 (Cincinnati, OH, USA) [V] AM02-KILO-11 (Charlotte, NC, USA)  AM03-FOXTROT-03 (Ciudad Juarez, MX)  AM04-KILO-01 (Tampa, FL, USA)  AM05-FOXTROT-05 (Leon, MX)  AM07-KILO-06 (Panama City, PA)  AM07-LIMA-02 (Medellin, CO)  AM12-MIKE-01 (Arequipa, PE) [V] AM12-NOVEMBER-08 (Santa Cruz de la Sierra, BO)  AM14-ROMEO-11 (Ciudad del Este, PY)  AM15-PAPA-11 (Rosario, AR)  AS02-NOVEMBER-09 (Perth, AU)  AS07-NOVEMBER-11 (Surabaya, ID)  AS10-KILO-08 (Phuket, TH)  AS11-PAPA-04 (Cebu City, PH) [V] AS12-HOTEL-01 (Kolkata, IN)  AS13-PAPA-07 (Kaohsiung City, TW)  AS15-SIERRA-15 (Kagoshima, JP)  AS16-NOVEMBER-08 (Beijing, CN)  AS16-ROMEO-04 (Busan, KR) [V] AS16-SIERRA-13 (Hiroshima, JP)  NR01-GOLF-08 (Zurich, CH) [V] NR01-GOLF-10 (Luxemburg City)  NR01-HOTEL-10 (Lyon, FR)  NR02-CHARLIE-08 (Krasnodar, RU)  NR02-KILO-02 (Cork, IE)  NR04-CHARLIE-03 (Samara, RU)  NR04-FOXTROT-09 (Helsinki, FI)  NR05-SIERRA-09 (Portland, ME, USA)  NR06-CHARLIE-05 (Omsk, RU)  NR06-SIERR#Darsana Global2014-11-15 09:00:005336  
Angel Wedge1,282Rescheduled because last time people either couldn't make it, or didn't RSVP. Please, let me know you're coming. Chistopher's been hiding out with a friend in Manchester, but a shocking new revelation brings him back into town. And meanwhile, Nathan is coming to terms with recent changes in his situation. Who's having the bigger problem of the two?Reboot of Dracula RPG - Week 18 (rescheduled)2014-03-06 19:00:004  
Adam “Hairthulhu” Boenig26,932I'll be doing Flash Fiction Monday through Friday until I am recharged to work on the book. If you have an image that you feel needs a story, here's a place to put it!Flash Fiction!2013-02-04 19:00:0021  

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Most comments: 6

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2017-06-10 11:21:37 (6 comments; 1 reshares; 6 +1s; )Open 

I would like to present, part 50 of Mr Hook's Big Black Box, a first draft serialised for #SaturdayScenes - in which we finally get to find out what's in the Box. Can you guess what it is yet? Please, please tell me if you are surprised or not.

50: The Secret Author

“Again?” Ferrari smirked, “I thought you’d somehow managed to miss out on the world going to hell the first time. You didn’t even realise the Russians had guns.”

“Well, maybe. But my plan to move the Box had already failed once, and ‘leave it in the room while we decide what to do next’ had been pretty much a disaster even if I didn’t know the full story.”

“You got very poetic words,” Destinee beamed at Dwayne, “Maybe you should write a book or something.”

“And make a deal with Cheese House Publishing? No thanks. No, maybe I’m justnaturally a good storyteller? Did... more »

Most reshares: 2

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2017-05-06 08:55:20 (4 comments; 2 reshares; 8 +1s; )Open 

This week's entry for #SaturdayScenes is a bit clunky, I know I need to remove some unnecessary or unclear description when I come to editing it. All comments welcome; guesses about what's in the box extremely welcome, before you find out some time next month. If you like this, maybe let your friends know; more readers would be a great motivation for my editing volunteer

45 / Marco Schmidt: Day Two

I figured that if we’re going to keep this Box safe, we need to move it off campus. I didn’t know if we’re even allowed to do that, but I hadn’t seen anything against it in the rules. So I was up early enough Wednesday morning, and I brought my truck around to the back of the Mendeleev building. It was a surprisingly long drive. See, from my flat on campus, I could go over the pedestrian bridge to the other side of the main road, and a few hundred yards down there wasthe par... more »

Most plusones: 17

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2017-04-15 10:59:11 (4 comments; 1 reshares; 17 +1s; )Open 

This week's #SaturdayScenes continues from last week. This is still a first draft; comments and reshares very much welcome. And I'm getting impatient with my own story now; I've commissioned a picture of the contents of that mysterious crate, and really wishing the point where it's opened will come quickly so I can show everyone. Will it be May? June? July, for the anniversary?

Would very much appreciate any guesses about what might be inside, and/or who you think will manage to get it open.

Marco has admitted now that he's betraying the LUSARS, trying to open the Box on his own. And maybe Dwayne has just handed him a perfect opportunity.

42 / Marco Schmidt: The Box Moves

…I was more concerned with getting this situation over with than learning the truth now. We needed to move.

I slid the trolley’s forks under the bottomof ... more »

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2017-07-22 09:58:34 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 5 +1s; )Open 

It's #SaturdayScenes, and another piece from the first draft of Mr Hook's story. The guys are finally getting the box off campus, but there's someone standing in their way. Why is everyone so interested in this box? Can you guess who's in it?

56 / Ferrari Delguessimo: Thinking Quickly

My heart was pounding as the truck turned down the lane to Creswell House. It was one of the university’s older buildings, missing the 1980s concrete aesthetic that permeated most of the place in favour of timber-framed buildings, stone, and maybe some worn red brick. I’d heard the old farm was a listed building or something, the university’s builders hadn’t been able to knock it down. It was also supposed to be a building with character, which was why it had been chosen for the offices of a number of interesting ventures. Chief among them was the Business AdvancementCentre,... more »

It's #SaturdayScenes, and another piece from the first draft of Mr Hook's story. The guys are finally getting the box off campus, but there's someone standing in their way. Why is everyone so interested in this box? Can you guess who's in it?

56 / Ferrari Delguessimo: Thinking Quickly

My heart was pounding as the truck turned down the lane to Creswell House. It was one of the university’s older buildings, missing the 1980s concrete aesthetic that permeated most of the place in favour of timber-framed buildings, stone, and maybe some worn red brick. I’d heard the old farm was a listed building or something, the university’s builders hadn’t been able to knock it down. It was also supposed to be a building with character, which was why it had been chosen for the offices of a number of interesting ventures. Chief among them was the Business Advancement Centre, where local firms could meet with students with an entrepreneurial spirit, who might help the last generation’s tradesmen embrace the magic of the twenty-first century.

Right now, I was more concerned because it was a dead end. I’d not been to this building, but the campus map clearly showed a single short driveway connecting it to the rest of campus, and there were heavy blocks of white stone placed every two feet along both sides of the path, so we couldn’t strike out across the sports fields if we were cornered here. I really hoped Marco didn’t think this was going to be a good venue for a showdown, especially if he was planning to do anything stupid with the rifle he was trying to hide under his seat. As we came closer I saw that the old farm had quite a few low outbuildings, that might once have been stables or sheds of some kind. Agriculture wasn’t really my strong suit. I wondered if that was Marco’s plan, to lure our pursuers down one of the alleys between the buildings and then loop round behind them, to get them out of the way.

Again, I hoped my friend wasn’t that foolish. We already knew that the people watching us had at least four vehicles, with two men in each, and we knew they were prepared to wait rather than following immediately. I gripped one of the elastic cords across my lap more tightly, knuckles growing white as we turned down narrow cobbled alleyways. This wasn’t a good place to get into a firefight with anyone who knew what they were doing, even slightly. We were outnumbered for sure, and there were too many places they could come around behind us.

The truck edged slowly through an archway, stone pillars only missing the wing mirrors by a couple of inches on either side. The sign at the end of that particular area advising that no motor vehicles should be brought this way, not even by the building’s own janitors, was presumably there for a very good reason. I suppose they couldn’t put in bollards if the historic preservation order applied to the cobbles as well as the walls, or something.

Then I finally saw why Marco had brought us this way, the lane leading off campus ahead, and let out about half a sigh of relief. Because as I saw the scattered cars parked in front of Creswell House, I also noticed the faint trace of exhaust fumes coming from one of them. It was about twenty past nine now, either too early or too late for most people who might have legitimate business here this morning. Someone was sitting in a car with the engine running, and there was no way I could warn Marco before the vehicle shot forward to block the gate and there were two men in badly fitting suits sauntering towards us, trousers sagging under a weight that I could only guess was a gun on each belt.

“Get down,” the guy on the left jerked his thumb towards the back of the truck. He was half turned, trying to keep one eye on me and Monty while also looking through the windows into the cab. If they could get us off the back of the truck,it would be a lot easier for these guys, whoever they were, to keep control of the situation.

“Let me help you with that,” I whispered to Monty, and started to loosen some of the straps around her legs. Really she could have scrambled out with just a little coordination, but there was no sense moving any more quickly than we had to. Like this, two guys were stretched to keep an eye on all of us, and I was just waiting for the smallest opportunity to do something. And then looking down to untangle where one cord had snagged on my boot, I saw how I could make an opening. It was just a matter of timing.

The other guy leaned toward Marco’s window. He was reaching in to take the keys, like a cop at a traffic stop. But uniformed cops didn’t wear suits, detectives didn’t carry firearms without a holster, and his pose was sloppy and uncertain like he’d never done this before.

“Can we help you?” I asked, nodding towards him. I couldn’t strike the confident pose I normally would, my hands busy with a knot of elastic cords around the Box, but maybe looking like I wasn’t a threat would be the better option today.

“Special Agent Barton, CIA,” the goon turned to me as he introduced himself, and reached into his jacket for ID. I knew before he pulled it out that it was going to be fake. The CIA has no official authority in the UK, and if he had legitimate reason to be here an agent would be supported and chaperoned by British police or SIS personnel. He wouldn’t be coming here without backup to show a bunch of kids his badge, and he certainly wouldn’t have a faint trace of a Norfolk accent.

I stepped away from Monty sharply, both hands going for the sword on my belt. He reacted pretty quickly, eyes locked on my weapon and one hand going for his gun. That was the wrong move; it meant that he wasn’t looking at where my hands had just been. He didn’t see one bungee cord stretched as tight as it could go until the plastic-coated metal hook on the end smacked him in the face. It was hard to tell when everything was moving so fast, but I think it managed to send a couple of teeth flying. He was still reeling when I leapt off the truck and landed beside him, sword drawn in my off hand just in case he needed something else to keep his attention, while I coiled around for a textbook sucker punch.

I didn’t care about his gun. We were going to be out of there in seconds, and he would be on the ground for at least a minute. But I snagged the fake ID, in case we needed some evidence to deal with these guys. It was almost reflexive to hold the wallet by its edges, making sure that the smooth plastic on the inside would retain a couple of perfect fingerprints for Mr Barton. I ran straight to their car and leapt in, then yelled to the guys that they should get moving. I didn’t like leaving Monty there, but I’d tightened the straps over her waist under the pretense of helping her out, so I knew she wouldn’t be falling off or anything.

“I’ve got the key,” I called out on impulse. Even if the fake spooks were able to find another car in a hurry, they wouldn’t know which of us to chase after. I drove out as quickly as I could, letting the gatepost slam the passenger door. I’d ditch the car as soon as I got a chance.



If you'd like to see some more of my writing, and maybe help me pay the rent for another month, I've got a collection of fantasy shorts just released. http://smarturl.it/intodreams should take you to the right Amazon site for your country___

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2017-07-19 19:31:00 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

How's this for a way to promote a book? Offer anyone who's read it a chance at a prize as a reward for sharing the fact.

Running across all the social sites I'm on; a competition that might spread a little further. One prize initially, expanding if more people join in, maybe with some bonus prizes for categories like most improbable place to be reading, or worst use of Photoshop.
Book is at: http://smarturl.it/intodreams
Contest entries will be at: #readingIntoDreams

How's this for a way to promote a book? Offer anyone who's read it a chance at a prize as a reward for sharing the fact.

Running across all the social sites I'm on; a competition that might spread a little further. One prize initially, expanding if more people join in, maybe with some bonus prizes for categories like most improbable place to be reading, or worst use of Photoshop.
Book is at: http://smarturl.it/intodreams
Contest entries will be at: #readingIntoDreams___

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2017-07-19 16:48:55 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

A pic every 3 days for #SelfieProject; in the pub because I don't feel up to cooking today. Probably not looking too good. Bad migraine day.

A pic every 3 days for #SelfieProject; in the pub because I don't feel up to cooking today. Probably not looking too good. Bad migraine day.___

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2017-07-16 11:32:47 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

I always love the mystery tees; in the past I've ended up watching something on TV so I can know what I'm wearing. And that's always been worth the time ^_^

Just 12 hours remain to get today's Last Chance Tee: "Free Random Tee!!!" on Qwertee: https://www.qwertee.com/5kbp8aa6j £11/€13/$14 till the timer reaches zero then it's GONE! Be sure to "+1" this for 1 chance at a FREE TEE today "Share" it for 2 chances and "Comment" on it for a 3rd chance. Thanks as always:)

(This promotion is in no way sponsored endorsed or administered by or associated with Google+.)___I always love the mystery tees; in the past I've ended up watching something on TV so I can know what I'm wearing. And that's always been worth the time ^_^

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2017-07-15 11:33:40 (0 comments; 1 reshares; 5 +1s; )Open 

Saturday, #SaturdayScenes, an excerpt from the first draft of my upcoming novel. Please point out anything that needs changing. I know it needs to be cut down some. Click on the collection name to see earlier installments of this story, or go to http://smarturl.it/saturdayscenes2017 to see what other authors have been working on. All comments much appreciated!

55 / Marco Schmidt: Too Fast to See

He pointed to the side of the main farmhouse, where there was a long whitewashed wall flanked by wooden beams on either side. I reached down for my seatbelt, and then saw something lash out to slap him across the side of the face. It was too fast to make out what it was, too fast even for one of Ferrari’s awe-inspiring iaijutsu strikes. The guy tumbled away from the truck, and then Ferrari was standing right next to him, sword drawn. The weapon she’d chosen today was real steel, theone... more »

Saturday, #SaturdayScenes, an excerpt from the first draft of my upcoming novel. Please point out anything that needs changing. I know it needs to be cut down some. Click on the collection name to see earlier installments of this story, or go to http://smarturl.it/saturdayscenes2017 to see what other authors have been working on. All comments much appreciated!

55 / Marco Schmidt: Too Fast to See

He pointed to the side of the main farmhouse, where there was a long whitewashed wall flanked by wooden beams on either side. I reached down for my seatbelt, and then saw something lash out to slap him across the side of the face. It was too fast to make out what it was, too fast even for one of Ferrari’s awe-inspiring iaijutsu strikes. The guy tumbled away from the truck, and then Ferrari was standing right next to him, sword drawn. The weapon she’d chosen today was real steel, the ones she’d only use for kata practice or for decapitating straw dummies when we put on a show at open day.

“I got the key!” she yelled, “Drive!” Without giving any of us a second to think, she leapt into the other guys’ car. They’d left the engine running when they jumped out to interrogate us, and when the guy who would have been talking to me turned to face Ferrari, he’d neglected to take my keys from the ignition, which I was pretty sure was normal police procedure. She gunned the engine and shot forward out of the gate, one hand out of the window to point threateningly at the second man. For maybe half a second I wondered how she’d found time to grab the gun from Barton’s belt without me noticing, but then I realised it was just a feint, an empty hand. Barton’s partner flinched for half a second, moved like six inches away in the time it took him to realise it wasn’t real. That was all the time I needed to hit the accelerator and zoom through the gate before the guy could gather his wits and pull his own weapon.

Then we were off campus. A narrow road with hedges on both sides rarely clipped, nowhere a car could lie in wait without disrupting regular traffic. I just hoped they weren’t prepared to inconvenience dozens of uninvolved drivers and risk the police showing up, just on the off chance of us going this way. I put my foot down as much as I dared, staying mostly on the middle of the road where it was in a better state of repair, and peering over the hedges in the hope of seeing vehicles around the next bend before they saw us. We were driving two minutes maybe, about a mile from campus, before I calmed down enough to reduce the pace. And only then, I thought about Monty sitting back there on the truck bed, not knowing what we were planning.

--

“I barely saw any of that,” Dwayne admitted, “I was right next to you, but I didn’t see the action.”

“It was over so quick, blink and you would have missed it,” Marco looked over at Ferrari, “Now we got there, I kind of want to know how you did that. Secret agents with guns, that must take some courage.”

“I thought we were leaving Ferrari’s story a while?” Kris looked between the two of them, “But I’ve got to admit, if she’s developed some new lightning-speed killer technique that we’re not familiar with, I’d be quite interested to know. What do you think, Dee?”

“Sure,” Destinee grinned, leaning forwards now with elbows on the table and chin resting on her hands, “I want to know everything that happened, especially the bits I was right next to. Let’s hear Ferrari’s story, then we can go back to Marco after the bit where you drive off.”

“If you insist,” Ferrari stood up again, never quite able to break a habit she’d inherited from her father of pacing when she needed to give a monologue. “It’s nowhere near as exciting as Marco makes it sound, though.”

Ferrari Delguessimo

Before we left campus in Marco’s truck, I did my best to make sure Monty was safe. The Box would have slid all over the truck bed on its own, but Marco had provided a variety of straps to hold it down. Some of them were sturdy canvas straps with friction grips to pull them tight, and some were bungee cords of various elasticities. The number of straps we used was probably overkill, but we were all dreading the tarp coming loose and revealing our cargo on the road, or even a nightmare scenario like the Box coming open along the way. It was like some surrealist spider’s web, so there were plenty of points to hold onto, or to slip your legs under the various restraints like it was a normal seat belt. I made sure Monty was doubly secure, but left myself as free as I could manage. Under enough bits of webbing to hold me in place if the truck swerved off the road, but giving me freedom of movement in case there was some problem that needed dealing with.

The first problem I saw was a couple of guys who’d seen too many movies and had a very bad stereotype in their minds of how a secret service guy should dress. Black suits, white shirts. Tie and dark glasses, though both had the glasses in their pockets which made them pretty much useless for preventing a target knowing who you were looking at. We were just driving slowly around the ring road, and the guys didn’t move to intercept us, so I didn’t say anything right away. I kept on talking to Monty like nothing out of the ordinary was happening, which she seemed quite good at.

Actually, Monty wasn’t good at talking about normal things at the best of times. She was so open minded, if you dropped any random fragment of new-age holistic ideology into a conversation, her mind would scoop it up and fit it seamlessly into her belief system. I already knew she believed in gods, land wights, ghosts, spirits (apparently not the same thing), muses, guardian angels, fairies, and dryads. Not demons, though. Sometimes I wondered if the fairies and angels weren’t just some way for her to avoid giving up on her childhood imaginary friends. So, we were carrying on a conversation about as normal as she usually gets, which meant she was telling me that the Box didn’t like being jostled around so much, and would be much happier if someone could look after it for once without all the stealing, fighting, and chasing.

Come to think of it, that would be a fairly reasonable assumption to make.

The second pair of suit-clad men in a black car drew my attention. They were watching us too, but one of them reached a hand under his jacket, making sure he could draw a weapon quickly if he needed it. I wondered for a fraction of a second if they might actually be government men. Still, if something was going to happen I needed everyone on their toes.

“Can you ask her to be ready for some more jostling,” I whispered to Monty, not letting my tone or posture change. I didn’t want these guys to know we were onto them. Then I shifted one hand to my belt and used the hilt of my sword to tap on the glass behind me. No visible movement from our observers’ point of view. I couldn’t see if Marco had noticed or not, but I could at least point at the guys observing us. I kept my hand almost flat against the window, making a clear signal to those in the cab while Monty’s body shielded me from the view of the men in suits. “We’re being watched, but it’s okay. We can deal with them. It’s all going to be alright.” And then, feeling a bit silly but wanting to help my friend avoid panic, I laid my hand on the Box, round about where the shoulders would be if it really was a coffin, and repeated, “You hear me? I won’t let anything bad happen to you. It’s going to be alright.”



If you'd rather read a story that has already reached the end, I've just released a book of short stories, available in paperback and on Kindle. Please, check out http://smarturl.it/intodreams - and help fund my writing habit___

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2017-07-11 13:00:07 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

A little distraction from writing today, to finish reading a great book. I couldn't put this one down towards the end :)

If you'd rather hear about the stuff I'm writing (including notification when I've got a free book out), you should check out my author page on the other site, www.facebook.com/angelrwedge

A little distraction from writing today, to finish reading a great book. I couldn't put this one down towards the end :)

If you'd rather hear about the stuff I'm writing (including notification when I've got a free book out), you should check out my author page on the other site, www.facebook.com/angelrwedge___

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2017-07-08 10:16:41 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

Free Book notification - July 8th/9th
Hey hey!
Just to let you know that it's today A Dozen Secrets is free. Now updated to fix the typos that slipped past my editors the first time!
http://hyperurl.co/12secrets

If you already have the book on Kindle, you should be able to get the new version by visiting Amazon and clicking on 'Your Account' » 'Content and Devices'.

A few of my other books will have revised versions out, or be free for a few days, through this week, leading up to the release of Into Dreams, which contains a huge selection of my fantasy short stories. Available for pre-order on Kindle; or in paperback now.
http://smarturl.it/intodreams

Free Book notification - July 8th/9th
Hey hey!
Just to let you know that it's today A Dozen Secrets is free. Now updated to fix the typos that slipped past my editors the first time!
http://hyperurl.co/12secrets

If you already have the book on Kindle, you should be able to get the new version by visiting Amazon and clicking on 'Your Account' » 'Content and Devices'.

A few of my other books will have revised versions out, or be free for a few days, through this week, leading up to the release of Into Dreams, which contains a huge selection of my fantasy short stories. Available for pre-order on Kindle; or in paperback now.
http://smarturl.it/intodreams___

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2017-07-08 09:05:49 (0 comments; 1 reshares; 6 +1s; )Open 

It's Saturday, which seems as good a day as any to post #SaturdayScenes. An excerpt from the first draft of my novel; comments welcomed. Look through the collection if you want to catch up on the story so far, or check out #SaturdayScenes to see what other authors have been working on.

Marco's driving now, and they've just noticed a couple of guys watching them.

54 / Marco Schmidt: Exit Strategy

“They’re watching,” Dwayne said, but he had been thinking a bit more deeply about their motives, “They’ve got a couple of cars around the perimeter, I bet they got guys in the parking lots as well. So if we go to any building on campus, they’ll know where we parked. Who knows, maybe they’ll all run across campus when they know where we’ve stopped, and we’ll be swarmed from all directions. Or maybe they’re just watching the buildings where welive, and the depar... more »

It's Saturday, which seems as good a day as any to post #SaturdayScenes. An excerpt from the first draft of my novel; comments welcomed. Look through the collection if you want to catch up on the story so far, or check out #SaturdayScenes to see what other authors have been working on.

Marco's driving now, and they've just noticed a couple of guys watching them.

54 / Marco Schmidt: Exit Strategy

“They’re watching,” Dwayne said, but he had been thinking a bit more deeply about their motives, “They’ve got a couple of cars around the perimeter, I bet they got guys in the parking lots as well. So if we go to any building on campus, they’ll know where we parked. Who knows, maybe they’ll all run across campus when they know where we’ve stopped, and we’ll be swarmed from all directions. Or maybe they’re just watching the buildings where we live, and the departments we’re enrolled with?”

“Let’s see what they do when we leave campus,” I gripped the wheel more firmly. I couldn’t be sure, but if these guys were watching us there was a chance they’d try something to stop us leaving. I didn’t want to be driving with any kind of speed while Ferrari and Monty were on the back of the truck, but I was equally worried about being shot at again. I told myself these guys were probably low wage rent-a-cops, used to checking doors and issuing spare keys to stranded students more than to any kind of violence, but something just didn’t sit right in my mind. I was sure there was something going on that was just outside my understanding, and that made me really nervous. As we came up to Melrose Lane, I glanced down at the gun sitting in my footwell. Ferrari had told me the night before to throw it away, but I’d been too scared of ending up without a weapon. I didn’t know if it would help me now, though.

“Creswell House!” Dwayne barked suddenly, when we were almost at the turning, “We can get through the gateway and maybe it’ll take them a few minutes longer to figure out we’ve left.” I looked to the right, and saw that he had a point. Some of the sports societies had lockers in the outbuildings of Creswell House, an old farmhouse on the edge of the campus. It had been left intact when they built the college because one of the walls had historic significance, built in an unusual style or some such, so the farmhouse had been adapted for use by some college facilities without changing the structure. They’d see us turning along the short drive, but they were far enough away that they couldn’t follow right away.

I turned into the old cobblestone courtyard, where we really weren’t supposed to bring vehicles but most societies did at one time or another. Between two rows of low stone buildings, whose style was a sharp contrast to the blue and white signs that suited every other doorway on campus so well. A dozen tiny storage areas, for the societies who might need to get their equipment out onto the sports fields regularly. The track team had one, and so did their eternal rivals in the athletics club, who approached the same group of hobbies in a slightly different way. I had a key, and I might even have thought of stashing the Box here and arranging for the other copy to be lost, if the locker wasn’t already filled up with so much junk that nobody really needed.

After the last tiny building I turned left, and right, and right again. Through an archway between two ancient farm buildings, into a courtyard with cleaner and less worn cobbles in front of Creswell House. There were a couple of vehicles here, this courtyard was staff parking for the farm buildings, but more importantly it had access to Melrose Lane, the winding road that had served the farm before the university was built here. Melrose Lane was a tiny road, where cars going in opposite directions would slow down to pass without touching, so it was almost never used by anyone who wanted to go into town. There were a couple of places along the road where the mysterious men in suits could have stationed a car to ambush us between the university ring road and here, but there were dense hedges along both sides of the road past here. So once we turned out of the Creswell House parking area, they wouldn’t see us until we were well off campus. There was nowhere they could be lying in wait to stop us.

Except, of course, hiding among a half dozen other vehicles on the sandy cobbles. A black saloon pulled forward to block the gateway just as we arrived. Two men sauntered closer, one coming to either side of the truck. I glanced down at my weapon again. Would I even be able to draw it? Of course, if they were just campus security wanting to know what had happened, I wouldn’t want to. And just having people riding outside the vehicle would give them enough legitimate reason to hold us. I wound down the window, ready to address the guy as cheerfully as I could.

“Can we help you gentlemen?” Ferrari asked first, and the guy who was about to lean in through the window turned to give her his attention instead.

“You probably can,” the big guy grunted, and reached into his pocket for some kind of badge. I didn’t see it, but as his jacket swung open I got a good view of a pistol stuck in his belt, gleaming menacingly from the shadows. I knew in an instant these guys weren’t campus security. Both were massively built, the kind of physique you get from hours in the gym or lifting heavy loads every day. The one on the other side had a nose that wasn’t quite straight, probably been broken years before. This one had scars visible on the back of his hand, and probably others where they were harder to see. He was aware of what was going on around him, I’d probably guess he was a fighter, but one who relied more on instincts than any kind of formal training. Hired muscle, maybe. But for who? The Russians clearly had all the thugs they needed.

“Special Agent Barton,” the guy was introducing himself, “Central Intelligence Agency, British anti terrorism liaison. We have reason to believe you may be unwittingly transporting a weapon of mass destruction. We’re going to need to impound your vehicle. Get out and stand against the wall.”
___

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2017-07-06 22:53:23 (1 comments; 1 reshares; 3 +1s; )Open 

Hi folks!
Anyone want a new book? This collection of short fantasy should be out on Amazon in a day or two (both print and Kindle); and the paperback version is available on Createspace now.

http://smarturl.it/intodreams

Hi folks!
Anyone want a new book? This collection of short fantasy should be out on Amazon in a day or two (both print and Kindle); and the paperback version is available on Createspace now.

http://smarturl.it/intodreams___

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2017-07-02 13:12:28 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

Finished reading another book. Interesting story, but I found it a bit hard to get past some of the errors.
I might look into book 2; not sure.

Finished reading another book. Interesting story, but I found it a bit hard to get past some of the errors.
I might look into book 2; not sure.___

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2017-07-01 09:24:02 (1 comments; 1 reshares; 12 +1s; )Open 

Mr Hook's Big Black Box, the story I'm posting an excerpt from each week for #SaturdayScenes. This is still the first draft, so please don't think too badly of me when you see the clunky bits of description that need pruning down; and please let me know if anything doesn't make sense. And the calendar reminds me that it's exactly a year since I started writing this, for #campnanowrimo last year. It feels like forever!

“…at least the Box would be safe, being looked after by professionals.”

53: The Real Story

“Some professionals,” Dwayne muttered under his breath, “I wouldn’t trust them with anything valuable.”

“You trusted them with the Box,” Kris cut back, “You all did. Don’t make out like you had some misgivings about this plan, because I’m sure none of you saw through it right away.”

“Not untilwe got there,” Marco said, “Y... more »

Mr Hook's Big Black Box, the story I'm posting an excerpt from each week for #SaturdayScenes. This is still the first draft, so please don't think too badly of me when you see the clunky bits of description that need pruning down; and please let me know if anything doesn't make sense. And the calendar reminds me that it's exactly a year since I started writing this, for #campnanowrimo last year. It feels like forever!

“…at least the Box would be safe, being looked after by professionals.”

53: The Real Story

“Some professionals,” Dwayne muttered under his breath, “I wouldn’t trust them with anything valuable.”

“You trusted them with the Box,” Kris cut back, “You all did. Don’t make out like you had some misgivings about this plan, because I’m sure none of you saw through it right away.”

“Not until we got there,” Marco said, “You gave us the directions, and said it was someone you trusted. We took your word for it, but when we got there we could all see something wasn’t right.”

“How could you tell that? I mean I know Spenser isn’t the sharpest knife in the chopping block, but he maintains a distinct air of respectability. Even before you factor in his illegitimate earnings, the legal money from his shipping business is enough to lead him a comfortable life.”

“Half the guys working at that warehouse have tattoos, and probably a shoe size larger than their IQ.”

“Can I slap him?” Marco jerked a thumb in Dwayne’s direction, “We know you’re a nerd, but a shipping firm normally hires for brawn, not brains. Can you put your prejudice out of the way for a minute?”

“I’m no racist,” Dwayne waved his hands in the air as he tried to find a better way to explain what he had meant, “It wasn’t their colour, or accent, or even looking like they were built out of bricks. It was the way they stared at us all the way in. Looking at us like we were prey or something. Like they were hungry. Not to mention the guys following us on the way, and the cops at the gate.”

“Did someone try to stop us getting in?” Destinee asked, leaning forward excitedly now. She barely knew any of this story, but she was managing to line up where her scant memories fitted into it better than anyone could have expected. Just seeing how excited she was to learn the truth, Kris was starting to regret that he hadn’t shared his own version of the truth with her years before.

“You could say that,” Dwayne declaimed, and the others could see now that he had his phone standing up on the table in front of him, running the texts he’d written so many years before like some kind of autocue, “Before we even got to the warehouse, there was someone on our trail. Marco did his best to shake them off, but he’d never learned defensive driving, and he was constantly worrying about Ferrari and Monty on the back, so –”

“Hey,” Marco interrupted, “If you’re talking about my elite pursuit-evasion skills, I should be the one telling the story. I was the one doing everything, after all.”

“Wasn’t Ferrari the narrator just a few minutes ago?” Kris interrupted.

“Well, yeah, maybe,” Marco hesitated, “But the story pretty much goes two ways here. You wouldn’t know, you were in your lecture. But before long we had to part ways, and we had the Box so that’s the more important version of the story.”

“I had some guys to fight,” Ferrari nodded, “But I wasn’t with the others for long. I think we should let Destinee choose. Do you want to hear my story, leading the people who were following us on a wild goose chase? Or would you rather go with the part you were there for?”

“I think let’s stick with me now,” Destinee said with virtually no pause for thought, “We can always go back to Ferrari’s part.”

“I guess I’m up then,” Marco tilted his seat back to lean against an intact part of the wall, and began to speak.

Marco Schmidt: Getting Out of There

I’d never thought that all the cords I used to secure stuff in the truck bed could be used as a seatbelt, but Monty was fitting herself in pretty well when I got back to the truck. Using the building’s loading dock had made it easier to get the Box on the back, but it was quite a narrow space, so going round to the main exit was easier than jumping down for me, especially as the truck’s paint job was relatively new and I didn’t want to scratch it.

When I first saw Monty up there I wanted to ask if she knew what she was doing, but it was pretty obvious there’d been some discussion between the girls in the few seconds it took me to get around. They surely knew what they were doing. I put the key in the ignition and started the engine, then paused once more to stick my head out of the window.

“You okay back there?”

“Just drive!”

It was all the instruction I needed. I pulled out of the car park and onto the main ring road that circled campus. It was quite a long road, nearly two miles, and pretty much the only way to get from one part of the site to another because of the main streets and walkways all being laid out for pedestrians. So once I was on the road I just had to drive slowly until I reached the exit. There were actually two ways off the campus, and this time I figured it would make sense to take the smaller road, rather than get caught up in the morning traffic turning off the highway for the town centre.

I was pretty much moving on autopilot, I’d done this journey often enough not to really think about every turn. There were a few other cars on the road, but it wasn’t anything like heavy traffic. Most students lived on campus, after all, and walking direct to lectures was almost always easier than driving all the way round the ring road and then looking for a free parking spot along one of the radial avenues. Only once I had to wait at a junction for someone else turning out.

I was jerked out of my reverie by banging on the window behind me. The rear view was partly obscured by a tarp in the back, and partly by two girls sitting against the window, but I could see Ferrari gesturing frantically toward something to the left. There was a car stopped at the end of a side street with the engine running. A dark saloon car, black or navy or some colour like that. Two men in the front seats, with almost-matching monkey suits. Engine running and looking ahead, but making no move to pull out. They could have been waiting for someone, giving a kid a lift home or something, but they were stopped right at the junction, as if they wanted to be able to move as soon as they saw something. Both turned their heads to watch as we passed, and one of them said something.

“More of those guys from last night?” Dwayne asked nervously, gripping the seat belt like he was afraid he’d fall out. I glanced back at them, and shook my head.

“No. The guys last night acted like they were in uniform, every movement calculated. They were disciplined and experienced, almost like real soldiers. Those guys, one of them’s chewing gum. They’re heavily built, they could be ready to fight, but they’re not looking at us like fighters. Violence is like their second or third option. And they don’t look comfortable in the suits. Someone’s told them they need to look smart and they’re not too happy about it.” I paused a little to give myself a mental pat on the back. A year earlier, I would never have managed to pick up on any of that, but Ferrari had been coaching me some on reading an opponent’s stance. The last time we’d been to an actual kendo tournament, she’d been walking me through the little nuances that let her separate the crowd into competitors, amateurs, and observers just by their posture and eyes. I hadn’t realised I was getting so good at it.

“Maybe cops,” I hazarded, once I’d got over congratulating myself, “But plain clothes cops would be used to dressing so they don’t stand out. Campus security’s my bet, trying to figure out what happened after last night. The wannabe cops among them will jump at going undercover, playing at men in black, and don’t realise just how obvious they are.”

The next couple of mall cops we saw were parked almost under the small trees beside the road. They were hard to see from any distance, but the trees must obscure their vision of the road too. We probably saw them before they saw us, and we could easily have turned off if we’d wanted to. I had to wonder what they were planning. They didn’t make any effort to intercept us, or pull out after us. So maybe they were just watching. I could live with that.
___

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2017-06-26 09:47:50 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

I think I've run out of books to read. This is the last one in my pile.

I think I've run out of books to read. This is the last one in my pile.___

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2017-06-24 07:24:10 (0 comments; 1 reshares; 6 +1s; )Open 

Week 52 of sharing this work-in-progress for #SaturdayScenes, and you're a little more than a fifth of the way through the first draft. Can you guess what's in the Box now? There's one fairly obvious guess, but I'm unsure how likely the typical reader would consider it.

New cover artwork by http://claudiacangini.deviantart.com - Claudia Cangini

52 / Ferrari Delguessimo: Don't Stop Moving

“What the hell?” Marco yelled, anger clear in his voice as he raced towards me. The slap-slap-slap of his track shoes on the tiles was almost as fast as my heartbeat, and I didn’t know what to say as we both stared at the devastated crate. The only silver lining I could see was that the crate wasn’t so important. Maybe this Box was slightly smaller, maybe the Russians or whoever didn’t know what it really looked like and would be expecting a crate. But onthe flip ... more »

Week 52 of sharing this work-in-progress for #SaturdayScenes, and you're a little more than a fifth of the way through the first draft. Can you guess what's in the Box now? There's one fairly obvious guess, but I'm unsure how likely the typical reader would consider it.

New cover artwork by http://claudiacangini.deviantart.com - Claudia Cangini

52 / Ferrari Delguessimo: Don't Stop Moving

“What the hell?” Marco yelled, anger clear in his voice as he raced towards me. The slap-slap-slap of his track shoes on the tiles was almost as fast as my heartbeat, and I didn’t know what to say as we both stared at the devastated crate. The only silver lining I could see was that the crate wasn’t so important. Maybe this Box was slightly smaller, maybe the Russians or whoever didn’t know what it really looked like and would be expecting a crate. But on the flip side of that same reasoning, a miniature sarcophagus like this was unlikely to pass unnoticed in any location.

Monty came down the corridor before either of us had moved. We were just looking at the Box, trying to form an opinion on this strange construction. I had no doubt, none of us had expected it to look anything like this once we got it open. Marco seemed nervous, like it was an actual coffin. I didn’t really care, I figured it was some designer trying to create a specific impression, but all I could do in response was wonder why. But Monty ran towards it, like a kid delighted with her new toy. She said it was beautiful, and ran her fingers across the immaculate, polished-metal finish. This, I guess, was what the unknown artist might have been hoping for.

“Come on,” I said, “We need to get this thing onto the truck.”

It was surprisingly easy to move the Box. It was a little lighter than the crate, the timber slats must have had some weight, but I was surprised by how much difference it made. Maybe it was the shape as well, the metal plates seemed to give hand holds in just the right places, so we could easily move it between me and Marco, taking one end each. Monty helped as well, though her assistance was mostly limited to holding open doors and whispering platitudes to the Box, “to keep her calm” as she described it. Ascribing sentience was a classic sign that Monty considered it important; a little strange, but reassuring in its own way.

We managed to haul the Box onto Marco’s truck without too much trouble. He backed it up to the loading dock and then walked round to help me lift the crate over. As well as the toolbox, he had a heavy tarpaulin in the back of the truck, that was probably just the thing for keeping this Box out of sight. We were finishing wrapping it when Dwayne appeared, coming down the nearest set of stairs and seeming more than a little out of breath.

“What should we do with the crate?” Marco asked as he straightened up.

“Keep it somewhere safe?” Dwayne said as he came up behind him, “Isn’t that what we’re here for?”

“No, the pieces of the crate,” Marco said. It seemed to take him a second to realise that Dwayne hadn’t seen the Box yet, and for those moments the confused panic in Dwayne’s eyes was priceless. “Oh, the crate broke apart in the corridor, it wasn’t designed for moving so much. The thing we’ve got to keep closed is the Black Box inside.”

“Oh, right,” Dwayne shrugged, “Would have been nice if they’d told us that. Anyway, best get moving.” He went over to the passenger side of the truck, and I stepped onto the back. There were a dozen straps holding the Box in place now, attached to secure anchor points, so it would be relatively simple to hold on to those. Better than being sandwiched between the guys in the cab, at any rate, where I wouldn’t have any clear view to see if someone was following us.

For a second I felt sorry for Monty, as the only seat available if she wanted to come with us would be in the middle, with two guys’ elbows in her ribs. But she didn’t seem to care, and stepped up onto the truck bed.

“Are you okay?” I asked her, “There’s space for three in the cab, you know, and Kris isn’t here.”

“Yeah. I’d like to ride with her, though,” she rested one hand on the tarp-shrouded top of the box, “She’s been alone all this time without anyone to look after her. She needs a friendly voice.” I thought she was crazy, but I couldn’t say so. Monty’s eccentricity was occasionally annoying, but mostly endearing. And sitting on the back with me, I was pretty sure I could make sure she didn’t do anything particularly stupid. She was a little naïve, more than a little, but she was observant and intelligent, so she could well spot a danger I’d missed.

“You okay on there?” Marco was a little uneasy to have two people on the back of his truck. It wasn’t exactly designed for the purpose, after all. I glanced to my left, where Monty had sat down with her legs under the straps around the Box. She wouldn’t fall off easily, and because we were facing the wrong way any sudden braking would slam her back against the cab rather than stressing the restraints.

“I think we’ll manage,” I offered, “Monty, if the truck starts going fast, you press your back hard against the cab, right?” She nodded, and grabbed two of the cables to push herself back in demonstration. I figured that was about as good as we were going to get, and hopefully safety wouldn’t be an issue. We were just driving to a warehouse on the far side of a moderately busy town, we weren’t going to end up in a high-speed pursuit or something with Marco at the wheel. Even if somebody wanted to follow us, I was pretty sure they wouldn’t try anything when there were so many possible witnesses around.

Marco nodded. I wasn’t sure if he actually trusted my judgement, or if the previous night’s events had left him too emotionally drained to argue. He went back into the building and quickly reappeared to climb behind the wheel. We’d had enough trouble getting this far, but I was pretty sure that in just half an hour the Box would finally be safe, in the care of professionals.
___

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2017-06-23 17:19:35 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

This is pretty awesome

This is pretty awesome___

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2017-06-19 10:19:51 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

Half way through this book now; you can see my bookmark progressing.

Balls! All the balls. And an abstention represents lack of balls.
They've had the proposal now, had the voting (with balls), and I can't wait to find out what happens next.

Seriously, try it.

(And kind of hoping to see a prequel telling Drybutter's story. Like a period drama kind of thing)

Half way through this book now; you can see my bookmark progressing.

Balls! All the balls. And an abstention represents lack of balls.
They've had the proposal now, had the voting (with balls), and I can't wait to find out what happens next.

Seriously, try it.

(And kind of hoping to see a prequel telling Drybutter's story. Like a period drama kind of thing)___

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2017-06-17 10:31:01 (0 comments; 1 reshares; 11 +1s; )Open 

This week for #SaturdayScenes, here's a piece of the first draft of my upcoming novel. All comments very much welcome. New cover art was a commission from Claudia Cangini, http://claudiacangini.deviantart.com - check out some of her other work

51: An Impact

“Wow,” Ferrari shook her head, “That description’s even better than Dwayne’s. Were you writing a book too?”

“It just kind of stuck with me,” Marco shrugged, “The impression it made on me the first time I saw it. I know it’s probably redundant, you all saw the thing enough times, but I felt like it’s a part of the story. You can’t tell the story past that point without saying how it looked.”

“I just want to know how the crate got broken,” now it was Dwayne’s turn to sound serious and suspicious, “I just assumed you dropped it trying to get it out of the elevator. Itcan’t have been leaning against t... more »

This week for #SaturdayScenes, here's a piece of the first draft of my upcoming novel. All comments very much welcome. New cover art was a commission from Claudia Cangini, http://claudiacangini.deviantart.com - check out some of her other work

51: An Impact

“Wow,” Ferrari shook her head, “That description’s even better than Dwayne’s. Were you writing a book too?”

“It just kind of stuck with me,” Marco shrugged, “The impression it made on me the first time I saw it. I know it’s probably redundant, you all saw the thing enough times, but I felt like it’s a part of the story. You can’t tell the story past that point without saying how it looked.”

“I just want to know how the crate got broken,” now it was Dwayne’s turn to sound serious and suspicious, “I just assumed you dropped it trying to get it out of the elevator. It can’t have been leaning against the door, because the door was just open a floor and a half higher. Were you moving it around on your own for some reason? And why wasn’t Monty in the lift?”

“I was trying to turn the crate round while I waited for the elevator to start moving again,” Ferrari brushed off the question, “I said Monty should take the stairs because I knew there was a chance of an accident, moving something so heavy. And I thought she could use a minute or two of exercise, she looked like she was starting to space out. That could really be dangerous when we’re carrying a heavy Box.”

“Sorry,” now it was Destinee’s turn to look embarrassed, “I don’t remember it, but I was probably trying to…” Kris silenced her with a hand around her shoulders, and her smile returned.

“You don’t need to apologise,” he reminded her, “And you don’t need to worry about what happened in the times you don’t remember. If something in the story jogs your memory, then let us know.”

“Thanks.”

“So, Ferrari,” Dwayne turned to look at her, “You were turning the crate around?”


Ferrari Delguessimo: A Little Accident

So, I was in the elevator with the crate. I told Monty that because she’d used the emergency button to open the doors, we’d have to press the close buttons both inside and outside before it would start moving again. So she stepped out to close the doors, and I think that must have been right. The outer doors closed, but it took a few attempts at pressing the button before the ones inside the elevator closed too.

That was when I started moving the crate. I was thinking about what was the quickest way to get it to the truck. I just walked it on the back two corners, pivoting around a stable point, until I had it lined up so that when we opened the door we could just tilt it out. But there was a hole in the timber, and when I gripped it the lid flexed slightly, like there weren’t enough nails to hold it in place. The jolt as the elevator started moving came at just the right time to make that lid start to come off, and the whole crate started to topple.

I could have pulled harder, could have dived around to grab it, I know my reflexes are good enough. But I also knew how easy it was to be injured moving something heavy. As soon as the lid started to separate, with the Box not standing solidly, I knew it could twist in any direction without warning. I dived back to the far side of the elevator, programmed on an instinctive level to let the cargo fall on its own rather than risk it hitting me.

I dived to the corner and covered my face with my arms in case of flying pieces of broken wood. But it was solid, the Box leaning neatly against the inside of the door. Neater than I could have imagined, I thought for a second that if I grabbed the bottom corners and Marco took the top, we could just lean it back a little more and carry the whole thing straight down the corridor between the two of us. Then I realised how dumb that thought was, and tried to erase it from my mind while I worked out what to do about the open lid.

We weren’t supposed to open the Box, I knew, but I couldn’t resist taking a little peek. I didn’t open it more than it already was, but the lid was already off. If we were going to be disbanded or whatever, taking a look what all the fuss was about wouldn’t make any difference. And maybe if the cracks in the Box weren’t too serious, we could pin the lid back on and nobody would be any the wiser. It was hardly our fault in any case, if this thing wasn’t sealed tightly enough to stay closed on its own.

I peered through the crack along the edge, between two nails whose tips now barely touched the edge of the crate body. I couldn’t see much between, but I could tell right away that the crate had been custom-made for the task. The lid was a half dozen parallel planks, with a rectangular border made of more planks both inside and outside, to give structural strength. There were also four short battens on the inside, dividing the surface into squares to prevent it flexing, I assume. That could have been any crate, I could guess the structure with just a quick glance. But in this case, two of the battens on the inside of the lid stood slightly proud, and were less than a quarter inch apart. There were a couple of solid bolts driven through both and tightened, to firmly hold something between them.

It was a key. I could just about guess that much, and that meant that the dark bulk filling most of the crate was another container. A Black Box, and that meant that we hadn’t failed at all. We had a Box, and we had a key that went with it, and with all the jolting the crate had received, it wasn’t going to break. It wouldn’t come open by accident, we couldn’t fail this task unless one of us deliberately inserted that key and turned it. Or re-inserted, I should say. Because with the key’s head sandwiched between two bits of wood like that, it looked like the crate was designed to hold it in the keyhole. I couldn’t see any reason for something like that, but it wasn’t our problem. All we had to do was not open the Box.

Our problem right then, it turned out, was some unexpected behaviour in the elevator’s behaviour pattern for emergencies or power failures. Or maybe Dwayne had pressed some button in the plant room. As I was looking, the slow movement of the elevator drifted to a stop, and then I heard a different motor engage as the doors started to open. I didn’t know if I had time to grab it and brace myself to support the weight before the doors moved, but I could tell that trying and failing would be a disaster. So I leapt away, ducked down and shielded my face. The crate disintegrated in a crash, and when I looked again there was a coffin shaped construct of crimson-black metal lying in the corridor.

It was like the metallic paint they’d put on cars a few years before, a pointless fashion statement. I couldn’t tell if it was metal underneath, but the whole styling of the thing struck me as pointlessly gothic. As it fell, the elasticity of the crate lid had pushed the key back into its hole, and it now stood proud of the surface with two fragments of plywood on either side of the key head. The Box wasn’t lying evenly, there were wooden pieces of different sizes underneath it, but it was stable and I didn’t think it was going to fall or slip again.

To me, it looked like it was supposed to be scary, but it really wasn’t. The clockwork visible through the cracks could have been from an earlier age, and the simple lines of the engravings on the surface were distinctly primitive, reminiscent of those Peruvian earthworks or similar. But I was pretty sure that metalized paint, or coloured metal, was a technique that had only recently been developed. This thing had to be some student’s sculpture project, a gothic construction designed to look like something out of a horror movie, rather than an actual historic artifact. But that just raised again the question of why so many powerful interest groups would be looking for it, a question to which I so far had no real answer.___

2017-06-16 09:55:34 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

Done my reading for the day, even if I'm still not woken up. Will probably continue later if I can find a few moments of free time. Still on The Pauline Conversion; no more pages fell out today. A few phrases that tickled me (though I'm not entirely sure why) include "the Hendrix fellow – along with other pseudo-Hendrices", "The Wet Margarine", Otto's wonderfully terse debating technique, and the reference to Harvey as his "other third".

Loving this book so far

Done my reading for the day, even if I'm still not woken up. Will probably continue later if I can find a few moments of free time. Still on The Pauline Conversion; no more pages fell out today. A few phrases that tickled me (though I'm not entirely sure why) include "the Hendrix fellow – along with other pseudo-Hendrices", "The Wet Margarine", Otto's wonderfully terse debating technique, and the reference to Harvey as his "other third".

Loving this book so far___

2017-06-14 14:40:17 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

Right now, I am so tempted to find a photo of an explosion, fire up my preferred photo editing software, cut out all the people whose pictures are in my feed right now and post an album of them not looking at explosions.

No idea where this idea came from.

Right now, I am so tempted to find a photo of an explosion, fire up my preferred photo editing software, cut out all the people whose pictures are in my feed right now and post an album of them not looking at explosions.

No idea where this idea came from.___

2017-06-13 12:42:56 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

Read a couple more chapters of The Pauline Conversion today. Another page fell out; doesn't seem to be any pattern to them as far as I can tell. Pages not stuck in at all, so as soon as you open the book to them, they slide out. Almost enough to make me consider moving away from them for the print versions of my own books.

The story's going on well. The mysterious note sender was an unexpected twist, but one that entirely makes sense. As soon as they started thinking about crossword clues, I was trying to solve it :p Look at the least common letter in the anagram, the 'v'. My first thought was the Archivist or some variation, but there's no 'h'. Hit on the correct answer a little before Dennis did, but couldn't make anything out of the rest of it. I don't think we've heard that name mentioned earlier, so in this case maybe the reader couldn't have... more »

Read a couple more chapters of The Pauline Conversion today. Another page fell out; doesn't seem to be any pattern to them as far as I can tell. Pages not stuck in at all, so as soon as you open the book to them, they slide out. Almost enough to make me consider moving away from them for the print versions of my own books.

The story's going on well. The mysterious note sender was an unexpected twist, but one that entirely makes sense. As soon as they started thinking about crossword clues, I was trying to solve it :p Look at the least common letter in the anagram, the 'v'. My first thought was the Archivist or some variation, but there's no 'h'. Hit on the correct answer a little before Dennis did, but couldn't make anything out of the rest of it. I don't think we've heard that name mentioned earlier, so in this case maybe the reader couldn't have solved it.

Good going, and a way to get my brain active again :)___

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2017-06-12 21:13:26 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

I think I'm about a third of the way through reading The Pauline conversion now; and the count of pages fallen out reaches 3. I'm surprised it was single pages, rather than a group together. Makes me wonder if the binding process is different for PoD books, or something. Because when I've had old and heavily-worn books lose pages before, it's always been in blocks of 4 or 8.

The story's coming along well. Dennis is trying to be persuasive, and some of his detractors have arguments that sound pretty valid.

Favourite lines of the day:
» "If you aim for Switzerland you might hit Austria"

» the fellows in council might fall into line without fart or murmur

» as the Germans catapulted doodlebugs, VW Beetles and Küchenspülen at us

I think I'm about a third of the way through reading The Pauline conversion now; and the count of pages fallen out reaches 3. I'm surprised it was single pages, rather than a group together. Makes me wonder if the binding process is different for PoD books, or something. Because when I've had old and heavily-worn books lose pages before, it's always been in blocks of 4 or 8.

The story's coming along well. Dennis is trying to be persuasive, and some of his detractors have arguments that sound pretty valid.

Favourite lines of the day:
» "If you aim for Switzerland you might hit Austria"

» the fellows in council might fall into line without fart or murmur

» as the Germans catapulted doodlebugs, VW Beetles and Küchenspülen at us___

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2017-06-11 20:50:51 (2 comments; 0 reshares; 1 +1s; )Open 

Another half hour reading The Pauline Conversion by +Anthony Camber​, and the first negative experience.

The story, I'm enjoying immensely. Finally heard Red's secret; not too surprised, but it's a nice twist. Wondering how his father knew to go looking for him at St Paul's, though.

Two questions for anyone who's had a book come apart like this:
1) Is there a way to repair it without causing more mess?
2) Should I mention "book falling apart" in a review? It impairs my enjoyment a little, but I don't know if that's likely to be of interest to anyone else; or if it's a one-off or an issue the publisher should be aware of.

Another half hour reading The Pauline Conversion by +Anthony Camber​, and the first negative experience.

The story, I'm enjoying immensely. Finally heard Red's secret; not too surprised, but it's a nice twist. Wondering how his father knew to go looking for him at St Paul's, though.

Two questions for anyone who's had a book come apart like this:
1) Is there a way to repair it without causing more mess?
2) Should I mention "book falling apart" in a review? It impairs my enjoyment a little, but I don't know if that's likely to be of interest to anyone else; or if it's a one-off or an issue the publisher should be aware of.___

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2017-06-10 20:47:53 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

Another half hour into The Pauline Conversion.

Joe was wrong about Red getting a go on the bollock. Seems like plans are in motion now, everything's going well. I find myself waiting for the other shoe. Interesting to hear about Dennis's national service. I stopped reading (because I was fixing dinner for housemates and the oven timer pinged) half way through Red marking an essay. Can't wait to see where that goes; but need to catch up on my own writing first.

Loving this one.

Another half hour into The Pauline Conversion.

Joe was wrong about Red getting a go on the bollock. Seems like plans are in motion now, everything's going well. I find myself waiting for the other shoe. Interesting to hear about Dennis's national service. I stopped reading (because I was fixing dinner for housemates and the oven timer pinged) half way through Red marking an essay. Can't wait to see where that goes; but need to catch up on my own writing first.

Loving this one.___

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2017-06-10 11:21:37 (6 comments; 1 reshares; 6 +1s; )Open 

I would like to present, part 50 of Mr Hook's Big Black Box, a first draft serialised for #SaturdayScenes - in which we finally get to find out what's in the Box. Can you guess what it is yet? Please, please tell me if you are surprised or not.

50: The Secret Author

“Again?” Ferrari smirked, “I thought you’d somehow managed to miss out on the world going to hell the first time. You didn’t even realise the Russians had guns.”

“Well, maybe. But my plan to move the Box had already failed once, and ‘leave it in the room while we decide what to do next’ had been pretty much a disaster even if I didn’t know the full story.”

“You got very poetic words,” Destinee beamed at Dwayne, “Maybe you should write a book or something.”

“And make a deal with Cheese House Publishing? No thanks. No, maybe I’m justnaturally a good storyteller? Did... more »

I would like to present, part 50 of Mr Hook's Big Black Box, a first draft serialised for #SaturdayScenes - in which we finally get to find out what's in the Box. Can you guess what it is yet? Please, please tell me if you are surprised or not.

50: The Secret Author

“Again?” Ferrari smirked, “I thought you’d somehow managed to miss out on the world going to hell the first time. You didn’t even realise the Russians had guns.”

“Well, maybe. But my plan to move the Box had already failed once, and ‘leave it in the room while we decide what to do next’ had been pretty much a disaster even if I didn’t know the full story.”

“You got very poetic words,” Destinee beamed at Dwayne, “Maybe you should write a book or something.”

“And make a deal with Cheese House Publishing? No thanks. No, maybe I’m just naturally a good storyteller? Did you ever think that the electrician-turned-programmer might have an active left-brain as well?”

“Right brain,” Ferrari corrected under her breath, “Left is logic.”

“No,” Destinee got as close to panic as she ever did, at the thought she might have inadvertently offended one of her friends, “I like it! I was impressed!”

“It does seem a bit out of character though,” Marco said, “I never thought you’d put so much effort into your wording. And defensive like that, you almost make me wonder. Is that what these reminiscences are really about? You’re writing a book about it or something, cash in on the current contemporary fantasy boom, and you want our stories to fill in the gaps?”

“Sharing stories wasn’t his idea,” Ferrari just shrugged, “And I wouldn’t mind. It’s great to put together all the pieces.”

“Okay, you caught me,” Dwayne sighed, blushing again, “When I heard about the time capsule thing, I thought I’d write it up like a story, our adventures deciding whether or not to open this thing. When we opened it in the end, I’d say ‘Why don’t we put this in?’, and years down the line it might go viral or something, if I was lucky. I wrote loads up on my phone, I had a word processor on it so I could write as easily anywhere as in my office.”

“Doesn’t everyone?”

“Now, yes. Back then it was still pretty primitive, but it meant I was taking notes. When it became obvious this wasn’t just a time capsule I carried on writing, mostly out of habit. Just something almost normal I could hold onto, you know?”

“That is so neat,” Destinee smiled again, “Anyway, you should continue. How did stuff go to hell? I mean, I know I was there. I’ve got the vague memory of shaking as the truck moved, faster and faster. And Ferrari calling out it’s going to be alright. But that’s about all.”

“More than I’ve got,” Dwayne shrugged, “I was lying on my back in the plant room, plugging a circuit breaker back in and trying to wipe my fingerprints off everything. I texted Marco when it was ready to go, and then I had a blissful hour and a half thinking everything had gone to plan.”

“How about I take over, then?” Marco asked, then glanced around the table to see if anyone wanted to argue. Nobody did, so he stepped back into his own, somewhat less rehearsed, narrative.



Marco Schmidt: Matroskya Box

Dwayne headed off upstairs, and Kris handed his note to Ferrari. I guess he figured she’s the most trustworthy. But that action made me sure right away that I could trust Kris. He wasn’t allied with some other department, because then he wouldn’t have been so eager to dash off to his lecture. I knew he was in trouble, probably almost as much as me, but if they were going to make his graduation depend on opening the Box, he would have every reason to prioritize that. I trusted Dwayne as well, but right in this case I couldn’t be sure he wasn’t working for another department. He was going to leave three of us alone with the Box, but going up to the plant room hadn’t really been a choice, and in any case he could have trusted us not to touch it when we were together.

I mean, really, I trusted everyone. You were all nice guys, but there was a chance we had conflicting objectives, and right in that moment Kris was the only one I could be completely sure of.

I hurried out to my truck to fetch the trolley. I knew that left both the girls with the Box, but I wasn’t worried too much about that. Monty, I don’t think she ever had it in her to lie to us. Not to mention, she’d been alone in a room with the Box before and all she’d done was talk to it like some child’s imaginary friend. Ferrari was probably the one I’d be most scared of if she did have a secret plan, because she had so many talents that would be actually useful for a stealth Box-stealing ninja. But I didn’t have any signs that I couldn’t trust her, and she’d seemed like the voice of reason in most of our discussions so far. Not to mention that she couldn’t do anything with Monty there, she couldn’t be that ruthless. Maybe she could secretly open the Box and just hope Monty didn’t notice, but the odds on that working were no better than fifty-fifty at most; not something a scheming antihero would gamble on.

I was approaching the bottom of the elevator just as the door slid open and the Box fell out with a crash. In a second my heart was pounding and I was running the last thirty yards towards the destruction, panicking both over the Box and my friend.

“Are you okay?” I yelled as I got closer, in my panic not paying enough attention to determine who was still standing there.

“I’m fine,” Ferrari grabbed my arm, trying to get me to stand still, “The Box slipped, but I think…” and then her words trailed off into silence. Monty came running up from another corridor as we stood and stared, and I could only guess that she’d decided to take the stairs rather than ride with Ferrari and the Box.

“Wow,” she whispered, “That’s kind of scary.”

“I wasn’t expecting the whole steampunk aesthetic,” Ferrari was probably trying to make it sound normal, to take our minds off what we were actually seeing. For me at least, it wasn’t working.

The fall had caused the crate to burst open. Maybe my efforts to open it without the right tools had stressed the joints, or maybe it was already battered from having been passed around between so many different groups. Maybe it was just because it had somehow been leaning against the doors when they opened, and a heavy box fell hard against the tiled floor.

We hadn’t lost the competition, though. We hadn’t violated the terms, I had to believe that because otherwise my academic life was over. And I could just about believe it, because the thing inside the crate could possibly be described as a Box, though that isn’t the word I would normally use.

It was almost the same size as the crate it had been packed in, which could have been built around it. Certainly, the scraps of cheap pine had been shaped so that the Box itself wouldn’t rattle around or move within the crate. It wasn’t quite cuboidal, being noticeably narrower at the bottom, and it looked like there had been timber batons inside the crate at regular intervals, steadily wider to ensure a snug fit. But even within its overall box shape, there were a dozen different pieces of metal, jointed and overlaid in an incredibly complex pattern.

It was also not black, despite being described to us as Mr Hook’s Big Black Box. It was dark metal, with a faint red tint where the light caught it. It looked blacker than the crate had been, at any rate. It was highly polished, like the surface of a car whose owner took every care to ensure the finish was absolutely perfect. It was made up of at least thirty plates, some curved slightly and some with angles in around the edges, but it gave the impression more of a machine, or a bizarrely complex clock, than a passive Box. I think it was like four or five concentric boxes, but every one with parts missing to let you see the one beneath. Each made of metal plates a sixteenth of an inch thick, and with just the edges of gears visible between as I paced around to look at it from different angles.

The outer layer wasn’t plain, but embossed with some kind of design. At first I thought it was just an abstract pattern of lines, like the tribal style tattoos that were so popular at the time, but then I saw the face, and the letters, and my whole perception of the thing shifted. It was hard to make out the words, but easy to guess that they spelled out a warning. If the psychology students had made this to test students of future generations, if this was indeed part of their experiment, then I supposed they wanted to see if fear would deter people who might otherwise have considered opening it. The whole design, steampunk or gothic or whatever you called it, was almost terrifying. It was inviting though, too, in its way. It made you curious what might be inside such a strange package. And the key protruding from the heart, with its head still wedged protectively between two pieces of the outer crate, was almost an open invitation.

My subconscious still didn’t want to call it the Box, though. When I looked at that shape, regardless of the outlandish styling, there was only one word that came to mind. It was clockwork, it was polished metal. It had joints and moving parts like a puzzle box or a transforming action figure, and there was a key sticking out near the centre, and it had engravings and patterns on the surface that must have taken an artist weeks. But none of those things could disguise its basic shape.

The Box was a coffin.



Please, all comments welcome. Let me know what you think, and what you thought. Let me know what I could improve on (besides cutting down on the introspection that litters my first drafts).___

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2017-06-09 21:54:58 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

Some more reading. Really starting to get into this book. Somehow, I always seem to take ages to get started with Anthony Camber's books. Like the first dozen pages takes me a half hour to read.

Liked the description of the chef; can visualise the guy in just a couple of lines. Not surprised that Red is coming to find Dennis. Can't wait to find out what's changed his mind.

Some more reading. Really starting to get into this book. Somehow, I always seem to take ages to get started with Anthony Camber's books. Like the first dozen pages takes me a half hour to read.

Liked the description of the chef; can visualise the guy in just a couple of lines. Not surprised that Red is coming to find Dennis. Can't wait to find out what's changed his mind.___

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2017-06-08 20:09:48 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

Another half hour of reading The Pauline Conversion. Tension building up a little. I want to know how he's going to find Red again now. I'm thinking the Archivist is going to find out something and cause trouble at some point in the near future.
Is that something that really used to happen at certain universities? A member of staff making a detailed record of who's doing what in case the college needs to blackmail an alumnus… seems a little over the top.

Another half hour of reading The Pauline Conversion. Tension building up a little. I want to know how he's going to find Red again now. I'm thinking the Archivist is going to find out something and cause trouble at some point in the near future.
Is that something that really used to happen at certain universities? A member of staff making a detailed record of who's doing what in case the college needs to blackmail an alumnus… seems a little over the top.___

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2017-06-07 09:02:56 (2 comments; 0 reshares; 2 +1s; )Open 

Starting reading a new book today; The Pauline Conversion by +Anthony Camber​. Really looking forward to this one.

Really need to catch up with my stack of outstanding reviews.

Starting reading a new book today; The Pauline Conversion by +Anthony Camber​. Really looking forward to this one.

Really need to catch up with my stack of outstanding reviews.___

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2017-06-03 09:36:05 (0 comments; 1 reshares; 7 +1s; )Open 

Another extract of the first draft of my novel! This week is part 49, and we've passed 20% of the story now. Please, leave a comment if you can point out the weak areas; try to guess what might be in the Box and who's going to open it; let your friends know if they might be interested in reading this; and check out the collection https://goo.gl/cVfTjL or the hashtag #SaturdayScenes to see what other authors have been writing.

49 / Dwayne Carlisle: Everyone has a hidey-hole

Last week, the LUSARS were trying to find a place to store the Box where it won't be in danger…

“I think I’ve probably got space,” Ferrari muttered, “And I’m possibly the best equipped to defend my property if they come back.”

“Still could be a problem,” Kris pointed out, “All your skill with martial arts means nothing if they’re willing to wait untilyou’re out and then b... more »

Another extract of the first draft of my novel! This week is part 49, and we've passed 20% of the story now. Please, leave a comment if you can point out the weak areas; try to guess what might be in the Box and who's going to open it; let your friends know if they might be interested in reading this; and check out the collection https://goo.gl/cVfTjL or the hashtag #SaturdayScenes to see what other authors have been writing.

49 / Dwayne Carlisle: Everyone has a hidey-hole

Last week, the LUSARS were trying to find a place to store the Box where it won't be in danger…

“I think I’ve probably got space,” Ferrari muttered, “And I’m possibly the best equipped to defend my property if they come back.”

“Still could be a problem,” Kris pointed out, “All your skill with martial arts means nothing if they’re willing to wait until you’re out and then break in. Also to mention, you dwell on the third floor and your building has no elevator. How would we get it up there?”

“But if they’re going to break in, nowhere’s safe,” Marco pointed out, “Unless one of you has a second home somewhere that you haven’t told us about, that wasn’t on the society registration paperwork. Now I guess we could rent a lockup, there’s like six hundred quid in the society budget that we haven’t spent yet…”

“But if we spent it on that, the address would go to Societies Council on the spending report,” Ferrari shot the idea down immediately, “If we’re trying to keep the location a mystery, we need to do it without club funds as far as possible.”

“I could look after her,” Monty shrugged, “There’s space in the basement I think.”

“Wouldn’t be safe,” Kris shook his head, “When we registered the existence of the society for the coming year we had five members on record to hold the mandatory administrative positions, and our home addresses are all on the paperwork. You have a basement, Montgomery, so should I assume a house in the city? I don’t recall seeing your home, and I handed in the pro forma without looking at the address.”

“Well, it’s my parents’ house really, but I got a room to myself. Daddy keeps all his important stuff in the basement, but he’s said I can put something valuable there if I learn the value of a good status symbol.”

“I’d rather not risk intruders in your family home,” Kris said after a few seconds thought, “We would still have the problem that any society with someone on the Committee can find out your address relatively easily.”

“I’ve got a cousin who’s got a farm like a dozen miles away,” Marco offered, “I emailed him last night, left a message saying we might have this Box and we need a safe place to store it. Might take a while to get back to me, though, he doesn’t exactly live in the twenty-first century. I mean, maybe they could peek at all our rooms through the windows, see that we haven’t got space for the Box, and try looking closer at the places that do. But checking out every relative just in case would be casting their net a bit wide, there’s no way any group has that much manpower. So we could put it in an outbuilding or something, a shed somewhere in however many acres of farmland. That’d be safe, because nobody’s going to break into twenty buildings just on the off-chance that one has the thing they’re after.”

“I had the same concept,” Kris nodded, “Not a cousin, but a shipping company that has done business with my uncle’s firm, who owes me a little favour for some help I gave my uncle a few years ago. It was an ugly fix but I was there at the right time, and both companies reaped the advantage. I called last night, and they have just messaged me back with the address of a warehouse on the Lanchester South Industry Park. They say it should be no problem if I wish to store a single crate among the hundreds that pass through there, off the books of course.”

I couldn’t think of anything to say, I just nodded. That was the best hiding place I could possibly imagine. If Marco’s cousin’s farm was hiding a needle in a haystack, then this was hiding a needle in a bin full of other needles. The only trouble would be getting the crate there. And, of course, getting access to it to retrieve Cassie’s video.

“Marco’s got his truck parked outside,” Ferrari said, making it clear that everyone was thinking along the same lines, “If you can just power on the elevator again, we’ll get it down there and take it to this warehouse.”

“Are we all going?” I asked, “If we’re doing this as a club thing, it seems kind of symbolic that we do it together, show that we’re a team.” It sounded a bit wishy-washy after I’d said it, the kind of holistic stuff that Monty normally suggested. But right now, it was the only excuse I could think of to make sure that I knew where the crate actually was.

“There’s room for three in the truck,” Marco pointed out, “If we squeeze someone in the middle. Me and Kris if we want to be comfortable.”

“I’ll ride on the back,” Ferrari leapt in first, “We need to be sure nobody’s following us, and there needs to be someone to scare off the Russians if they try anything stupid like last night.”

I wanted to interject, but I couldn’t argue that Ferrari knew what she was doing. I’d seen her in a scuffle with those guys last night, whoever they were, and if it hadn’t been her someone would probably have got hurt.

“I have to go,” Kris looked nervously at his watch, “My bachelorate is at risk if I miss another lecture. Could you drive haphazardly for an hour to deter anyone trying to follow, and then I should meet you? Or I could write down the address and tell the staff at the warehouse I will be sending my assistants?”

“Give us the notes,” Marco gave a kind of half shrug, “If they see us driving around everywhere they might be able to make a plan. We want to get it out of the building and away before those guys figure out we’re moving it by road, so they can’t find out where it is.”

Kris nodded, and started scribbling on what could quite easily have been a napkin, copying an address down from his phone. I jerked my thumb towards the roof in question, and Ferrari nodded. Time to go upstairs and plug the breaker back in. I was sure that in half an hour we’d be handing the crate over to some storage professionals, or putting it in a shipping container, or whatever the protocol was for hiding a crate in a warehouse. Then I’d just come back once in the afternoon, tell the guys who worked there that we’d missed something that should have been in the crate. They’d have seen me with the rest of the group earlier, and if there was any paperwork it would be my signature on there as the secretary, so there would be no problem.

Half hour, tops. I’d have a dirty video, my friend’s reputation would be safe, I might have earned a reward, and more importantly there wouldn’t be Russian guys in black threatening my friends any more.

Of course, while I was climbing the stairs up to the plant room, I managed to miss everything going to hell. Again.



Please, leave a comment. Can you guess what's in the Box yet? The clues have been there.___

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2017-05-27 12:21:35 (0 comments; 1 reshares; 10 +1s; )Open 

This week for #SaturdayScenes, another extract from the first draft of Mr Hook's Big Black Box. It's the morning of the second day, and everyone's gathering at the Mendeleev Building, where the Box should be in an elevator. Dwayne would have got there first, if he hadn't overslept.

Please, comment and reshare. This is still a first draft, and my first pass of editing is taking a long time to catch up with what I'm posting, but any suggestions are still very much welcome.

48 / Dwayne Carlisle: A Missed Chance

I dragged myself awake after a couple of unsuccessful attempts. It had been like the longest, most confusing nightmare ever. I kept thinking I’d woken up, only to get pulled back into this bizarre fantasy. The day before had shaken me up more than I realised, not just the change in routine, but the fact that I’d seriously broken the law fora g... more »

This week for #SaturdayScenes, another extract from the first draft of Mr Hook's Big Black Box. It's the morning of the second day, and everyone's gathering at the Mendeleev Building, where the Box should be in an elevator. Dwayne would have got there first, if he hadn't overslept.

Please, comment and reshare. This is still a first draft, and my first pass of editing is taking a long time to catch up with what I'm posting, but any suggestions are still very much welcome.

48 / Dwayne Carlisle: A Missed Chance

I dragged myself awake after a couple of unsuccessful attempts. It had been like the longest, most confusing nightmare ever. I kept thinking I’d woken up, only to get pulled back into this bizarre fantasy. The day before had shaken me up more than I realised, not just the change in routine, but the fact that I’d seriously broken the law for a girl, and I didn’t really understand what was going on. My subconscious mind was trying to make some sense out of what was going on, so I kept going back, again and again, to experience variations on a dream. Tiredness could have had something to do with it as well, I hadn’t slept well in a few days and now it was starting to catch up to me.

When I awoke, I was just staring at the ceiling for a good few minutes before I realised that the buzzing wasn’t some part of my dream, and it wasn’t an unfamiliar alarm clock app on my phone. It was the harsh sawtooth wave emitted by the intercom, which was normally piercing enough to cut through any attempt at sleep instantly. It buzzed with a steady rhythm, as someone took their thumb off the button every couple of seconds and then pressed it again. I knew that to get into a pattern, they must have been at it for some time. I leapt out of bed, wrapped the sheets around my ankles, and tumbled to the floor. Thankfully my piles of books and discarded clothes weren’t too hard, though they weren’t exactly comfortable either.

On a third attempt, I got to the intercom panel and pressed the button.

“Dwayne,” the voice from the other side sounded concerned, and despite being half asleep still I could recognise Kris. The guy who had taken over from me as LUSARS president, but still let me make all the decisions that I cared about. Even among friends, that meant he was one of the people I respected most. “Are you okay? Your message said to meet at half past.”

“Crap,” I glanced over at my phone, which said it was nearly nine in the morning now, and realised I was already late. I quickly grabbed for my coat and a comb, brain not quite firing on all cylinders, and ended up in a pile of laundry again. I think the state of me within about a half hour of waking up is probably one of the reasons why, at that point anyway, I’d never got close enough to anyone to be comfortable waking up in the same bed.

“Are you coming?” his voice still came out of the speakers.

“Sorry, you go ahead if you want,” I called as I somehow managed to find some clothes that were clean enough to pass in the company I normally kept, “What was on the agenda?”

“You’re still asleep on your feet,” he called back, “I’ll wait here. Marco said we’re meeting at Mendeleev ECA:217.”

“The…” I stopped for a second, and the disjointed memories of last night snapped back into focus. That wasn’t just a dream, at least half of it had really happened. This early in the morning it was still hard to tell how much was real and how much a figment of my imagination, but thinking about the Mendeleev Building elevator, locked in place with such a precious cargo inside, finally jolted me out of my fugue. “I got this, I’ll be right there!”

He was waiting patiently when I burst out of the flat, and was kind enough to remind me to turn around and lock the door behind me. Still not quite with it, but coming closer every step, we rushed on towards the Box.

Arriving at Mendeleev, I was disappointed to find I wasn’t the only one who’d figured out that the doors were on a separate circuit. I was the electrical engineer, that should have been something only I would spot. The fact that Monty had found it, and that opening our supposedly safe hiding place was as simple as pressing a big red button, was even more humiliating. But, nobody had touched the Box yet.

It also crossed my mind that this was the first time all five of us had been in a single place since we’d first heard about the Box. Marco and Kris standing as if on guard a little way down the corridor, me and Monty sitting on the edge of the elevator, and Ferrari pacing nervously around the Box itself. That wouldn’t last long, though. I could miss my first appointment of the day, I was doing well enough with signal processing that I could get away with skipping a tutor meet, but Kris was in more of a hurry.

“Right,” I said, “Before Kris has to go, we need to decide what we’re doing with this thing. We already know other societies are prepared to break into our club room to get at it. They could probably invade a society storage locker, or one of the store rooms in Micklewhite Tower, just as easily. So we need a place that’s not connected to us on paper.”

“Could we use one of our rooms?” Kris suggested, “Campus flats are small, but they wouldn’t actually invade someone’s home to get it.”

“I think they would,” Marco shook his head, “Those guys last night looked way too serious. Like they wouldn’t stop at killing if it would get them what they wanted. Over the top, but they terrified me.”

“No way,” I spoke without thinking, and took a while to stop myself, “Nobody would go that far for…” and then my brain froze for a moment as I realised I couldn’t reveal what I knew. It took a second for me to come up with “…for a Box.”

“You want to keep it in your closet, then?” Ferrari raised an eyebrow. I thought for a second. I was like ninety percent sure that no other society took the competition seriously enough to break into someone’s actual home. That would be way over the line. But they’d already crossed one line by breaking into our room, so I couldn’t say anything about their actions. And I could just imagine getting it to my room and opening the big wardrobe to find that every inch of space was filled with almost-organised stacks of notes, and nothing-like-organised heaps of laundry and bags of snack food that I had nowhere else to keep.

“Not mine,” I shrugged, “My closet is full already.” I almost suggested Monty’s, I knew she was a bit of a dreamer but she didn’t seem to care much about possessions. We’d all seen her reading over her lecture notes, memorising it she said, and then folding them into amazingly elaborate paper planes to throw off the roof when she thought she knew them. It was entirely possible that her room was almost empty, cycling through the same half dozen outfits because they fitted her, and with nothing on her desk except what she strictly needed. It was also possible, coming from a pretentious and overbearing upper-middle-class family, that she had a larger room in one of the more expensive buildings; I don’t think any of us had seen it yet. But before I could make that suggestion, that ten percent chance, or five, came back to mind. I wouldn’t suggest putting Monty at risk no matter how small the chance.

“I think I’ve probably got space,” Ferrari muttered, “And I’m possibly the best equipped to defend my property if they come back.”
___

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2017-05-21 14:30:22 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

Finished reading a book. Which one should I do next?

Finished reading a book. Which one should I do next?___

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2017-05-20 08:17:18 (0 comments; 1 reshares; 9 +1s; )Open 

This week for #SaturdayScenes, Kris thinks about making a move. He's not overthinking his plan as much as Marco, and is willing to ask for help when he needs it. As always: This is a rough first draft; comments much welcome; please try to guess what's in the Box.

47 / Kris Alexandros: Friends in Bad Places

I’d hurried over to the north end of campus early in the morning, expecting some kind of extraordinary club meeting. I got to Mendeleev Building just as the janitor was opening up the main doors, but there was a sign stuck in front of the elevators now, ‘Out of Order’. I shrugged and went into the stairwell, moving past a few other students who were here to drop off sporting equipment in some club room or arrive early for their first tuition of the day. I ran all the way up, feeling pretty out of breath, but probably nowhere near as quick as my friends the daybefor... more »

This week for #SaturdayScenes, Kris thinks about making a move. He's not overthinking his plan as much as Marco, and is willing to ask for help when he needs it. As always: This is a rough first draft; comments much welcome; please try to guess what's in the Box.

47 / Kris Alexandros: Friends in Bad Places

I’d hurried over to the north end of campus early in the morning, expecting some kind of extraordinary club meeting. I got to Mendeleev Building just as the janitor was opening up the main doors, but there was a sign stuck in front of the elevators now, ‘Out of Order’. I shrugged and went into the stairwell, moving past a few other students who were here to drop off sporting equipment in some club room or arrive early for their first tuition of the day. I ran all the way up, feeling pretty out of breath, but probably nowhere near as quick as my friends the day before. I noticed there was a dent on the guardrail at one point, and a long streak of paint missing from the wall where some object had gouged out a thin strip of plaster. I didn’t think anything about it at the time, I assumed it had been someone stumbling in their hurry to get out when the alarm sounded yesterday, a dropped item taking a chunk out of the wall as it went over the rail.

Then I got to the club room, and nobody was there. The door out onto the roof was standing open, blowing slightly in the wind. I went over to close it, but found that the locking mechanism had been broken, and the push-bar no longer had any effect on the bolt. I wondered if some other group had broken in here, trying to get at the Box, and I cursed myself for not going to move it somewhere safe as soon as we found it. I realised Dwayne and Ferrari had probably been right, and it was good the Box was somewhere safe. But because I hadn’t made the order, I didn’t know where they had put it. I was feeling frustrated and out of the loop. I also didn’t know where we were supposed to meet; clearly not here, as it was already 8:30 and not even Montgomery was present.

Back down the stairs again I hurried, and in the direction of Dwayne’s home. He was the closest, so in the case of damage to the club room there was a good chance we would hold a meeting in his flat. I was sure enough of my deduction that I was already walking that way as I phoned him. However, all I got was a monotonous ringing, as he failed to answer. Next I called the number Sal had given me. There were people in this area who owed the circle a favour, he had told me, and I should get in touch with them once I knew where the Box was so they could help with the extraction.

“Yes?” the voice that answered had a rough accent, not foreign but not local. Southern maybe, as well as I could understand the voices of this country.

“Mister Spenser?” I tried to keep it businesslike. I was working with the mafia now, something I’d suspected half my life but only recently had confirmed, and felt I had to make a good representation of my family, “I am Isadorios Kristo Alexandros, I believe Salmoneus of our circle has spoken to you.”

“Isadorio? What kind of name’s that? You know where the Box is?” I found it a little challenging to understand him with the accent, making his words run together, but the terse sentences made it easier.

“Not yet, but I expect to have it some time today. Some of my friends have the Box, and I would like to have them leave it without any unnecessary violence.”

“You sure you can get it off them? Because your Sal made us promises, see. If you can’t give us the Box in three days, some of our guys might have to get a little creative. Don’t think you’re running the show, you’re not in Greece now, Izzy.”

“Please, call me Kris. Do you have a secure location where I could ask my friends to leave the Box? They might be edgy handing it over to someone they don’t know, but if there’s a venue without any people I could say I have got access to somewhere we can store it safely, and my people will make the delivery none the wiser.”

“I like the way you think, kid. Yeah, there’s probably somewhere we can give you. I’ll give you a message when I found something with my guys. Hope you’re as good as your word.” He hung up, and I didn’t know if I should be regretting it. But I would have had to call him sooner or later anyway.

I called Dwayne again, and there was still no answer. By then I was almost at his home. The campus was huge, like a town in itself, and most of the student populace lived in buildings very much like this one, an orange stucco cube with a thirteen by five grid of identical windows on each side. It might look something like a cell block, or a giant game of whack-a-mole if your mind worked like that. It was ten minutes after we had agreed to meet now, and I knew that I should check I was heading in the right direction. So I decided to call Ferrari, who I had nominated to be the society accountant entirely because she was always responsible and I thought most likely to give me a quick answer. A quick search of the contacts list on my cell phone revealed that I only had her landline number, so was unlikely to reach her if she was already at this meeting. So I dialled Marco instead.

“Hi, Marco,” I spoke quickly, “I got your text to meet, but you didn’t say where.” I heard him muttering in the background, and guessed that he was relaying the message to someone else. There seemed a good chance that I was last to the meeting, but then why hadn’t they realised that I didn’t have the location? If they had discussed it the night before, it seemed possible that Dwayne, Marco, and Ferrari might have been the only ones to arrive, and not yet realised that their message to me and Montgomery was missing a detail.

“The Box isn’t safe here,” Ferrari’s voice came on the line after a faint bleep, “We thought it would be okay until we found a better place, but we’ll have to stay with it until Dwayne gets here.” She gave a room number in Mendeleev, which I wasn’t familiar with. I guessed they had obtained a spare key to a store room or something, and we would be carrying the Box out of there.

“Okay,” I answered, “Do you want me to check if Dwayne is up yet? I’m near his residence anyway. You might need to call Montgomery as well, the message I passed on to her last night didn’t mention a location.”

“I’m here, kaityou-sama,” Montgomery’s voice was a little louder, and with odd echoes. She was clearly shouting because she was standing farther than the others from the phone, and misjudged how well I could hear her.

“I’ll just check on Dwayne then,” I answered, already on the stairs into his building. The keypad on the front door had a code to enter, but six of these blocks had the same code, all the buttons on the right hand side of the keypad. I could go up the stairs to the end of his corridor, and then press the buzzer there which was bound to wake him, or bang on the connecting window with the communal kitchen that each corridor shared if he had left his phone in his room while making breakfast.

I thought I had the best plan at that point. The Circle’s contacts would get back to me with a lock up, a warehouse, or some similar facility in town. I would tell the rest of the LUSARS members that a friend of a friend had said we could store some of our equipment in whatever facility it was, and I thought they would accept that because a locker with no clear connection to our society, well away from campus, would be the best place to put the Box. And then Spenser could do whatever he needed to do with it, extract the paperwork or switch it with the correct Box, and if I went back to tidy up after them and make sure it was neat, my friends would never know that anything had changed, even in a month or more when they returned to claim the Box and pass it back to the Societies Council.

It was a great plan, and I was sure nothing could go wrong now.___

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2017-05-14 16:47:19 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 2 +1s; )Open 

Every 3 days, a picture for #SelfieProject… I think that makes 45 pictures now

Every 3 days, a picture for #SelfieProject… I think that makes 45 pictures now___

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2017-05-14 07:53:04 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

Geohashing :) Now, where's today's?

Geohashing :) Now, where's today's?___

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2017-05-13 15:57:29 (1 comments; 1 reshares; 12 +1s; )Open 

This week's piece of story for #SaturdayScenes; Marco was hoping to get to the Box before the others, but it turns out Ferrari was there too. So what's he going to do now? Will he manage to find a moment alone in the elevator? This is a first draft; I still need to go through cutting out all the unnecessary bits as soon as my alpha reader and editor has looked it over. Until then, all comments welcome

46 / Marcho Schmidt: No plan survives contact with your friends

I needn’t have worried. Ferrari wasn’t alone here, and she’d managed to meet the one person I could consider even more trustworthy. She was standing in the corridor taking to Montgomery, who was as animated as always. Monty was a small girl, and always seemed a little childlike to me. Naïve, certainly, but cute enough that most guys would probably find it hard to harbour a mean thought about her. Andwhatev... more »

This week's piece of story for #SaturdayScenes; Marco was hoping to get to the Box before the others, but it turns out Ferrari was there too. So what's he going to do now? Will he manage to find a moment alone in the elevator? This is a first draft; I still need to go through cutting out all the unnecessary bits as soon as my alpha reader and editor has looked it over. Until then, all comments welcome

46 / Marcho Schmidt: No plan survives contact with your friends

I needn’t have worried. Ferrari wasn’t alone here, and she’d managed to meet the one person I could consider even more trustworthy. She was standing in the corridor taking to Montgomery, who was as animated as always. Monty was a small girl, and always seemed a little childlike to me. Naïve, certainly, but cute enough that most guys would probably find it hard to harbour a mean thought about her. And whatever went wrong, she was always the happy one. I let myself slow down, and breathed a sigh of relief. It wasn’t until I got closer that I realised the elevator door was standing open.

“What happened?” I asked, not caring enough to notice that I was interrupting what Monty was saying, “Why’s the door open?”

“You hid the Box and you didn’t even tell us,” Monty pouted, “That’s not good teamwork, and we’re supposed to be on the same side. So I went looking, and I heard her crying. She said she’s lonely, so I pressed the button for the doors.” Then she hopped into the elevator as if it was perfectly normal – it was about two feet below floor level, with some of the mechanisms on the car roof visible in the shaft above – and leaned against the crate. It was still right where I’d left it, but I’d swear that Monty was whispering to it. She was a bit open minded, to the point you could probably stretch her mind out of her ears if you pushed hard enough, but this was just a little crazy even by Monty standards.

“She?” I whispered to Ferrari, wondering if it was me or the world that wasn’t quite making sense.

“The Box, apparently. I guess it’s no stranger than giving her sword a name and talking to it. And some well-respected kendo professionals do that too, so maybe it’s not as crazy as you’d think. Maybe it’s a kind of animism.”

“I guess,” I shrugged, “But how did she get the door open?”

“There’s an emergency open button. I guess it’s on a different power circuit or something. It’s supposed to be locked, but maybe it gets unlocked automatically when the lift doesn’t have power? That’s all I can think of.”

“Dwayne should have figured that out,” I said, “But we can’t really blame him. We were all thinking on the spot yesterday, right?”

“None of us thought of it either,” she answered, staying perfectly reasonable, but I could tell she was almost as upset as me, “And it came out alright. Somebody could have got to it, but they didn’t. But I think we need to be a lot more careful in the future.”

Monty was sitting on the floor now, with her feet swinging freely an inch above the bottom of the elevator. She had a sketchpad in her lap again and was creating what was probably another imaginative masterpiece. She was still speaking softly, but I couldn’t tell if she was talking to the Box or just mumbling to herself like she always did when she was lost in thought. I might have stepped closer so I could hear what she was saying, but that’s when my phone rang. I answered and listened for a couple of seconds.

“It’s Kris,” I said to Ferrari, “We said meet at 8:30, but didn’t say where. Are we still going to the café?” She shook her head. I pressed the speaker button so she could join the conversation, rather than having to repeat everything to Kris.

“We can’t leave the Box unattended,” she said, “it’s not as safe as we thought. Meet us here, outside Mendeleev ECA:217. We need to figure something out and get moving as soon as Dwayne gets back so we can get it out.”

“Right,” the voice from the other end of the phone was suddenly extra-serious, “Dwayne’s not there yet? I’ll go past his residence and pick up him, you two can phone Montgomery and make sure she knows where to meet us, then we’re all ready. We need to get this done quick, as I’m supposed to be watching a lecture at nine.”

“I’m here, kaityou-tan!” Monty shouted, “We’re just waiting for you.”

“I’ll be right there.”___

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2017-05-12 14:48:25 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 1 +1s; )Open 

Yay for unexpected presents :)

Yay for unexpected presents :)___

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2017-05-12 14:05:28 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

Helpful!
What's up, #Ingress?

Helpful!
What's up, #Ingress?___

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2017-05-11 15:04:41 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

How +Samsung Health​'s (ooh, automatic tagging? Shiny!) workout detection matches up with the route I actually walked (sketched freehand)

How +Samsung Health​'s (ooh, automatic tagging? Shiny!) workout detection matches up with the route I actually walked (sketched freehand)___

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2017-05-11 11:52:39 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

I'm not the only person who starts counting when a timer appears onscreen…

___I'm not the only person who starts counting when a timer appears onscreen…

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2017-05-10 13:14:33 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

Finished reading another book. One of these dys, I'll get around to posting all those reviews

Finished reading another book. One of these dys, I'll get around to posting all those reviews___

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2017-05-06 08:55:20 (4 comments; 2 reshares; 8 +1s; )Open 

This week's entry for #SaturdayScenes is a bit clunky, I know I need to remove some unnecessary or unclear description when I come to editing it. All comments welcome; guesses about what's in the box extremely welcome, before you find out some time next month. If you like this, maybe let your friends know; more readers would be a great motivation for my editing volunteer

45 / Marco Schmidt: Day Two

I figured that if we’re going to keep this Box safe, we need to move it off campus. I didn’t know if we’re even allowed to do that, but I hadn’t seen anything against it in the rules. So I was up early enough Wednesday morning, and I brought my truck around to the back of the Mendeleev building. It was a surprisingly long drive. See, from my flat on campus, I could go over the pedestrian bridge to the other side of the main road, and a few hundred yards down there wasthe par... more »

This week's entry for #SaturdayScenes is a bit clunky, I know I need to remove some unnecessary or unclear description when I come to editing it. All comments welcome; guesses about what's in the box extremely welcome, before you find out some time next month. If you like this, maybe let your friends know; more readers would be a great motivation for my editing volunteer

45 / Marco Schmidt: Day Two

I figured that if we’re going to keep this Box safe, we need to move it off campus. I didn’t know if we’re even allowed to do that, but I hadn’t seen anything against it in the rules. So I was up early enough Wednesday morning, and I brought my truck around to the back of the Mendeleev building. It was a surprisingly long drive. See, from my flat on campus, I could go over the pedestrian bridge to the other side of the main road, and a few hundred yards down there was the park-and-ride for town, where I had a season pass. But because the road’s a dual carriageway, I had to turn away from campus when I came out of the car park, go all the way down to the next junction to turn round. And there was construction work again, with a forest of orange cones that meant I had to go halfway round the ring road. In the end it took me like ten minutes to get to where I’d left my truck, and nearly half an hour back onto campus. So I arrived like ten minutes before we’d arranged to meet.

I had tools in the back of the truck. So I could leave the trolley and the crowbar, and a hammer and a bag of panel pins, outside the elevator. When the others arrived I’d point to the truck, ask whoever was there to get the engine running and back it up to the loading dock, while I went to bring the Box out. With everything already in place, I could probably spring the box lid, get my picture taken by the cameras in there looking suitably surprised, and then hastily tap six pins in to close it again before bringing it out. If I was super quick, you’d never even wonder what kept me.

“Hey, Marco!” Ferrari ran out waving as I drove round to the back of the building. Of course, as the guy with a truck I’d taken us to society events before. Especially our first few attempts at a reenactment for some culture festival in the town, because I could fit all our gear in. And my truck was black with a blue flames decal along the side, so not something you’d miss if you’ve seen it before. I cursed myself then, because if Ferrari was here I wouldn’t be able to take a crowbar and hammer into the building without arousing suspicion.

“Hi,” I rolled down the window, “You’re early. I thought I’d better bring the truck round, we’ve got to move that thing off campus if it’s going to be safe.”

“Good plan,” she nodded, “I was going to suggest meeting in Birkett’s, get some breakfast while we talk about where to put it. I think your wheels will be safe here for fifteen minutes.”

“We should check it’s still there, I think,” I had no idea where I was heading now, my plans had all gone out the window. But if I could get in the same place as the Box for a few minutes, and get Ferrari out of the way, that was all I’d need to end the experiment. I’d look for some opportunity to split up once we got inside, assuming there were no soldiers to deal with. We went in through one of the side doors, which the janitor had already opened. He’d be going through emptying the bins, the same as if nothing had happened here last night, and would open up the main doors for students on his way out. On the ground floor, there were two short hallways signposted the Merriwether Lecture Theatre. The hall occupied the ground level of what would otherwise have been part of the courtyard, and was one of the university’s larger lecture theatres. It was also wired with full 7-channel surround sound, an expense which had been partly covered by the cinematography club, so they could use the space as an indie cinema. But we were looking for a door covered by a folding screen, between the lecture theatre and the outer corridor.

The lecture theatre had two corridors, giving access to doors on either side. From one, a side door led to the projection room, while on the other side it was connected to the freight elevator. It was here that we would have to unload the Box and bring it around. We hadn’t actually used it before, so we had to try both sides before we found which was the right door. Ferrari jabbed the elevator’s ‘call’ button with her thumb, but there was no faint flicker of illumination and no sound of rumbling motors. The breaker was still out.

“We should check it’s still there before anything else,” Ferrari muttered, “Elevator doors don’t actually lock, for safety reasons. The Box can’t get out if it’s between floors, but we could look at it to make sure nobody’s been in there and tampered with it.” I nodded, then realised this was just the opportunity I was looking for.

“Do we need a lever to open the doors? I got a toolbox in the truck, I could bring that in.”

“Good idea. I’ll check the stairways for any lingering soldiers. Meet you outside the elevator on the second floor,” and just like that she hurried off. I rushed back to my truck so eagerly that it was a good few seconds before I realised that she could have been playing me. Having the toolbox inside would make it possible for me to open the Box if I got a moment alone with it, but it also meant I was giving Ferrari some time if she’d already found tools. I was outside by the time I realised, but I laughed at my own paranoid response. This much time certainly wasn’t enough for what I’d had planned. Still, once I had the toolbox I sprinted up the stairs and along the corridor to find the freight elevator access.




Now, go to https://goo.gl/cVfTjL if you want to see what other authors have been working on for #SaturdayScenes, or https://www.patreon.com/mrangel if you want to help a struggling author, or http://hyperurl.co/angelwedge to see the books I've already released___

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2017-05-05 12:31:34 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

Latest new irritation.

Four days into the month, I get a full screen popup notification to tell me that my time for walking 3km is a personal best for this month. That isn't really worth mentioning.

Also, this looks like the kind of thing Samsung Health had before the last redesign. A big fancy photo, coupled with the absolute minimum information possible on each screen.

Latest new irritation.

Four days into the month, I get a full screen popup notification to tell me that my time for walking 3km is a personal best for this month. That isn't really worth mentioning.

Also, this looks like the kind of thing Samsung Health had before the last redesign. A big fancy photo, coupled with the absolute minimum information possible on each screen.___

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2017-05-05 12:25:47 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

Taking panoramic photos… brightness adjustment based on where you start off pointing your phone, so the only things that are visible are the edges.

Really wish there was a way to manually adjust it, like there is when you're taking a non-panorama photo.

Taking panoramic photos… brightness adjustment based on where you start off pointing your phone, so the only things that are visible are the edges.

Really wish there was a way to manually adjust it, like there is when you're taking a non-panorama photo.___

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2017-04-28 23:19:54 (0 comments; 1 reshares; 6 +1s; )Open 

This week for #SaturdayScenes, another excerpt from my novel in progress. This piece is a bit shorter than most, but I didn't think it was short enough to justify including the first few paragraphs of another scene as well. All comments still welcome; especially guesses about who is going to open the Box or what might be in it.

Opening day will be chapter 50; at which point I can finally start using a new cover image, showing the crate's contents.

44: Who's Up First?

“And we all got the message,” Dwayne nodded, “The Box is safe, meet at 8:20 to move it.”

“We didn’t all understand why it was so early, though,” Kris shrugged, “Or why you had already elected to move the Box. We were meeting up for planning, and then everyone except me and Monty disappeared. The next thing we know, there is an alarm going off somewhere else in thecampus, that we... more »

This week for #SaturdayScenes, another excerpt from my novel in progress. This piece is a bit shorter than most, but I didn't think it was short enough to justify including the first few paragraphs of another scene as well. All comments still welcome; especially guesses about who is going to open the Box or what might be in it.

Opening day will be chapter 50; at which point I can finally start using a new cover image, showing the crate's contents.

44: Who's Up First?

“And we all got the message,” Dwayne nodded, “The Box is safe, meet at 8:20 to move it.”

“We didn’t all understand why it was so early, though,” Kris shrugged, “Or why you had already elected to move the Box. We were meeting up for planning, and then everyone except me and Monty disappeared. The next thing we know, there is an alarm going off somewhere else in the campus, that we might not even think about. It’s just a background whine behind the music. And then a message on my phone, to say the Box is somewhere safe.”

“Well, you heard the story now,” Ferrari shrugged, “The more you know!”

“I didn’t get a message,” Destinee mock-pouted, “Nobody bothered to tell me what was going on.”

“You didn’t have a phone, dear,” Kris reminded her, “And even now you do, I think most of our close friends don’t have your number.”

“Well, I’ll let you off for that one,” she giggled, still flipping through the pages of the sketchbook, trying to remember or imagine the scenes that might have inspired each image. “But I hope soon you’re going to start talking to me. I must have been lonely back then, nobody telling me what’s going on, nobody thinking I’d be able to help.”

“Don’t worry,” Kris hugged her closer, “Your part of the story will be starting real soon now. But for it to make sense, from our perspectives at least, we should probably continue with the next morning. Like who among us showed up early to try getting in the Box first? I sincerely don’t know that detail.”

There was a moment of silence in the old club room as each of the five tried to avoid meeting each other’s gaze. The three guys had already admitted that they’d been sneaking around behind the rest of the society’s backs, so it was natural to assume that at least one of them had decided to show up ahead of the scheduled time.

“You didn’t?” Ferrari turned the question around to Kris, “I would have expected you to be first on the scene, you always said you were a naturally early riser.”

“But I didn’t know where the Box was at that point. If I did, and you were all in bed, I would probably have called Uncle Sal’s people and had them get it out of the elevator.”

“Dwayne?” Marco was next to point the finger of suspicion. Everyone’s eyes turned accusingly, while Dwayne just looked down at the hands in his lap, and blushed crimson.

“Something you’d like to tell the class?” Ferrari made light of the situation, and there was just a moment more silence before Dwayne answered.

“I was planning to go in and check it out before anyone else woke up. It was a great idea, none of you would ever have known, and Cassie could be safe knowing that nobody else would ever see that video. Perfect plan, right?”

“So what happened?”

“Typical, really. I overslept. With all the excitement it took me forever to get to sleep. Slept right through my alarm, and then I arrived on campus and you were all there. But I wasn’t the only one to think of it, or you wouldn’t have asked. Who was there first?” Marco and Ferrari looked at each other, paused a second.

“Okay,” Marco shrugged, “I thought if I got into the building in the morning I could be waiting with the trolley when Dwayne powered the lift on again. I thought I had a plan, and it was going to be great. But then Ferrari came running up as I was parking the truck, and we weren’t even the first there.” He turned to look at Destinee, who was almost on the edge of her seat, excited by the story. “Of course. Don’t suppose you remember any of the morning’s conversation?” She just shook her head, leaving Marco to carry on with his version of the story.




If anyone cares to check it out, I'm now on Patreon. https://www.patreon.com/mrangel - Not sure if anyone is that enthusiastic about my work, but I can keep my fingers crossed___

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2017-04-27 15:03:07 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

Old and new.
I've had a few of the new coins, but think this is the first time I've had both in my pocket at the same time, so I can compare them.

Old and new.
I've had a few of the new coins, but think this is the first time I've had both in my pocket at the same time, so I can compare them.___

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2017-04-26 16:28:08 (1 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

Today's #SelfieProject image. How many is that now?

Today's #SelfieProject image. How many is that now?___

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2017-04-26 01:41:52 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

First love?

First love?___

2017-04-25 09:05:55 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 2 +1s; )Open 

A Dozen Data
↑ That's all. Do you think it would be a good title for a book?

A Dozen Data
↑ That's all. Do you think it would be a good title for a book?___

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2017-04-22 10:29:19 (2 comments; 1 reshares; 6 +1s; )Open 

This week in the first draft of Mr Hook's Big Black Box, we have a little triumph. Please, share/+1 if you like it, and comment if you can see anything I could improve, or if you can guess what's inside. Then check out what other authors have been working on, click #SaturdayScenes or https://goo.gl/cVfTjL Thanks

Last week, Marco had finally got the Box to himself, in an elevator. If you want a more detailed recap, just click on the collection name

43 / Marco Schmidt: A Lever and a Place to Stand

I wedged the ruler under the top of the crate, and put all my weight on it. It shifted something like an eighth of an inch. Maybe less. I worked it in lower down, and pulled again. No more luck. I didn’t even hear the elevator doors sliding open behind me, and I practically jumped in shock when I saw the empty corridor. If there’d been gunmen waiting on this level,I w... more »

This week in the first draft of Mr Hook's Big Black Box, we have a little triumph. Please, share/+1 if you like it, and comment if you can see anything I could improve, or if you can guess what's inside. Then check out what other authors have been working on, click #SaturdayScenes or https://goo.gl/cVfTjL Thanks

Last week, Marco had finally got the Box to himself, in an elevator. If you want a more detailed recap, just click on the collection name

43 / Marco Schmidt: A Lever and a Place to Stand

I wedged the ruler under the top of the crate, and put all my weight on it. It shifted something like an eighth of an inch. Maybe less. I worked it in lower down, and pulled again. No more luck. I didn’t even hear the elevator doors sliding open behind me, and I practically jumped in shock when I saw the empty corridor. If there’d been gunmen waiting on this level, I would be dead by now. But there weren’t, I had good enough luck to cover my inattentiveness. I worked at the lid again, pulling pins out and leaning on the ruler, but the only result was that the ruler bent in the middle, with a twang like a measuring tape extended too far.

I went out and looked in the nearby rooms. It was all I could think of, listening at the doors briefly before I went in. I struck gold, finding a long metal hook that must have been used for pulling a projector screen down, before they were all automated. It was on a fairly sturdy pole, so would serve as a lever. I got back to the Box, pounded my screwdriver into the crack under the lid. The wood splintered pretty badly, but other parts of the Box were already worn. The damage might not be obvious right away. Then I withdrew the screwdriver and forced the pole into the space it left. I pressed gently at first, but building up the force in the hope that the Box would give way before the pole itself.

That’s when I heard the helicopter outside. The only thing I could think of was that the soldiers had brought reinforcements. Somehow, men with guns had become soldiers in my mind, and it was easy to assume soldiers had access to whatever military hardware they could need. I never stopped to think what actual soldiers might want with our Box. I just thought that more soldiers meant more chance of being caught, and I couldn’t let that happen. I hammered on the edge of the box with whatever heavy implements I could find, pushing the nails I’d managed to loosen fully home again. Then I managed to lift the Box just enough to turn it by ninety degrees, and leaned it against the side of the elevator. With the lid against the wall, there was no chance of Dwayne getting into it on his own, because there was no way he’d be strong enough to lift it. Probably the same for Kris. Not that I didn’t trust you guys, but I knew that somebody would be giving you guys contrived excuses to try to get at it, so I wanted to be sure.

Then there was nothing else I could do. I stepped out of the elevator, and pressed the ‘ground floor’ button on the wall outside. As expected, the doors slid closed and it started to descend. It was maybe ten seconds later that it suddenly stopped with a clang. That, I guessed, would be some kind of emergency brake locking on in the event of a power failure. It always gets to me how engineers manage to think of all these things, so many details you’d never imagine in even the simplest things.

Like the level above, there was a short corridor with an emergency exit at the other end and teaching rooms or offices along both sides. However, this time there was no ashtray standing out on the metal grille balcony that connected to the fire escape, so it was safe to assume the staff in this area hadn’t found it such a convenient place to nip outside for a smoking break. If I opened the door, the fire alarm would likely go off, which in the circumstances was just what I wanted. Dwayne and Ferrari were still up on the roof, and the building contained any number of guys with guns, maybe even a helicopter dropping more of them in. The imminent arrival of the emergency services would be just what I wanted. Hopefully these guys weren’t crazy enough to risk an all-out firefight with the police, because that kind of conflict could only escalate.

I took a deep breath and counted to three in my head, hoping to steady my nerves. My heart was still racing, but with a plan I was about as calm as I could get. I pushed the bar down with both hands, and congratulated myself as the alarm began to shriek. But rather that heading down the fire escape, to meet campus security staff who would be quick with disciplinary action and fines, I ran back along the corridor and through one of the classrooms. A door secured with a Yale lock and a small pane of glass made it possible to watch the men running past outside, clearing the building. Just what I could have hoped for.

I waited sixty seconds. Maybe the soldiers had cut the alarm cables or something, to make sure we couldn’t call the police, but the fire alarm siren was so loud I thought my ears might start bleeding. If there wasn’t an automatic call to the fire station going out, campus security would be sure to have called them. And that meant the soldiers’ only realistic option was to get out of there in a hurry. Maybe they’d set up a cordon somewhere, thinking we couldn’t get past them with the Box. Or maybe they’d buy whatever Ferrari had set up, and they thought it was already outside. In either case, my response was the same. I waited for the flurry of activity to die down, and then hurried to the nearest staircase and out of the building. Even if these guys wanted to cause a scene, they weren’t likely to try it in front of hundreds of bystanders.

When I hit the quad, there were a trickle of other students coming out. We weren’t the only society with rooms in Mendeleev, after all. Many of them were visibly shaking, or crying. Most looked scared. Maybe some had been shocked by the alarm, but I couldn’t imagine those soldiers hadn’t run into anyone else. That’s when I went from being scared to angry. It wasn’t like we’d asked for the Box, but it was still our problem. There was no call for anyone to go threatening people from other courses, who didn’t even know what was going on. But there was no sign of men in black uniforms now, other than the much smarter costume of campus security. I mingled with the crowd and slowly walked out, sending a text message to the others to let them know it had gone according to plan. I just hoped nobody had been hurt.




The end of a chapter for now; hope you're looking forward to next week. If you want to support my writing, please check out my latest book http://hyperurl.co/12experiments or some of my others; they're paying for my continued existence here.___

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2017-04-19 16:33:01 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

___

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2017-04-16 19:10:48 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 1 +1s; )Open 

I know I've failed to post these videos for quite a while, editing them has been a lot more work than I expected. However, I think I'll be able to manage more easily with a slightly different format. This one was recorded last sunday, and over the course of the week I've managed to find enough time to edit it.

In week 14 of this year I managed to work 30 hours; write 26487 words, finish editing a book ( http://hyperurl.co/12experiments ), and walk 17.87 miles (exceeding my goal of 2.15 miles on 5 days, rather better than the 3 I aimed for)

I've done other stuff as well, such as reading the rather excellent Malus Domestica by S. A. Hunt, and mostly managing to keep the house clean and cook dinner for everyone. And, of course, getting a bit better at making videos.

Hope you like it :D

I know I've failed to post these videos for quite a while, editing them has been a lot more work than I expected. However, I think I'll be able to manage more easily with a slightly different format. This one was recorded last sunday, and over the course of the week I've managed to find enough time to edit it.

In week 14 of this year I managed to work 30 hours; write 26487 words, finish editing a book ( http://hyperurl.co/12experiments ), and walk 17.87 miles (exceeding my goal of 2.15 miles on 5 days, rather better than the 3 I aimed for)

I've done other stuff as well, such as reading the rather excellent Malus Domestica by S. A. Hunt, and mostly managing to keep the house clean and cook dinner for everyone. And, of course, getting a bit better at making videos.

Hope you like it :D___

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2017-04-15 10:59:11 (4 comments; 1 reshares; 17 +1s; )Open 

This week's #SaturdayScenes continues from last week. This is still a first draft; comments and reshares very much welcome. And I'm getting impatient with my own story now; I've commissioned a picture of the contents of that mysterious crate, and really wishing the point where it's opened will come quickly so I can show everyone. Will it be May? June? July, for the anniversary?

Would very much appreciate any guesses about what might be inside, and/or who you think will manage to get it open.

Marco has admitted now that he's betraying the LUSARS, trying to open the Box on his own. And maybe Dwayne has just handed him a perfect opportunity.

42 / Marco Schmidt: The Box Moves

…I was more concerned with getting this situation over with than learning the truth now. We needed to move.

I slid the trolley’s forks under the bottomof ... more »

This week's #SaturdayScenes continues from last week. This is still a first draft; comments and reshares very much welcome. And I'm getting impatient with my own story now; I've commissioned a picture of the contents of that mysterious crate, and really wishing the point where it's opened will come quickly so I can show everyone. Will it be May? June? July, for the anniversary?

Would very much appreciate any guesses about what might be inside, and/or who you think will manage to get it open.

Marco has admitted now that he's betraying the LUSARS, trying to open the Box on his own. And maybe Dwayne has just handed him a perfect opportunity.

42 / Marco Schmidt: The Box Moves

…I was more concerned with getting this situation over with than learning the truth now. We needed to move.

I slid the trolley’s forks under the bottom of the crate, and tried to lean it back. The thing was heavy though, and I didn’t have quite enough leverage, so I had to ask Ferrari to help by pushing back on the top of the crate, to tilt it away from the wall. I slowly wheeled it over to the fire exit, where the alarm had been broken for years. The Box was too long to fit through the door, though, so I ended up asking for help again. With an extra pair of hands supporting the top, I could lean it back to forty-five degrees, and then it would go through the doorway onto the roof outside.

It was already starting to get dark, always the best view from up here I thought. As the sky dimmed, you could just make out the pools of slightly different coloured lights all over campus. Another half hour and the city would be visible on the other side of the hill, a chaotic constellation of tiny pinpricks to give the landscape some shape. I turned my head to look at the people we could see streaming like ants across distant courtyards. The campus was under two miles from one side to the other, home to three thousand students, and I wondered just how many of them were completely oblivious of everything going on up here. More than usual, I thought. Probably less than one percent of the guys out there had ever imagined gunmen in the college, and any who had wouldn’t have the first clue that they were here right now.

The elevator was right where Dwayne had said it would be. He was also right in telling us there were no buttons, but ten seconds after we arrived the doors slid open. This elevator had double doors, large enough to take some pretty big cargoes, so it was less effort to carry the Box inside and lean it against the wall. I slid the trolley out carefully, thinking that I didn’t want it to move unexpectedly if there was a jolt when the lift went down. It was better off without its wheels until the morning.

“I think the Russians got onto the roof,” Ferrari spoke softly, urgently, “Probably looking for access to our club room. It won’t take them long to figure we’re out here, we need to move now.”

“Right,” I looked at the column of buttons inside the elevator. I should have been thinking about the Russians, but right now I was wondering if it would be possible to dive inside just before it started going down, and get the Box open before the others figured it out. Then I saw one of the switches was a key, and that got me thinking along different lines altogether.

In my first year, one of my friends in the athletics club had been Big Abe. His name was presumably Abraham or something, but we only knew him as Big Abe, and his reputation for pranks was legendary. Among other things, he was prone to start spinning the most ludicrous tales after a couple of drinks. The kind of stories that must have started after a couple of beers too, and generally started with the kind of plan that would have seemed hilarious at the time, if the time in question was shortly after the bars closed. But right now, just one of the stories he’d told jumped into my mind, about somehow managing to lock himself inside a lift. The story itself was pretty crazy, and I doubted that what he’d described was actually possible. But he’d mentioned a key sticking out from the corner of the lift’s control panel, where instead of a button with a number on there was a kind of lock.

This one looked to be fairly simple. It allowed the lift to be operated in two modes, one of which required someone inside the car and one which didn’t. If I just turned the key to the left then it would cancel whichever button you’d pressed if someone stepped through the doors before they’d closed. An easy way to stop students messing about, and all kinds of pranks. In that case, someone would have to go down inside the elevator. Dwayne had already mentioned that on lower floors, there was a control panel outside the lift. So I could come out on the 2nd floor or something, then press the ground floor button outside, then Dwayne would pull the breaker. It was a perfect plan.

I twisted the key, then pocketed it while Ferrari was looking away. It wasn’t a real key, just one of the hexagonal things that they use to open train doors and similar. To prevent anyone changing the setting of the switch unless they knew what they were doing, not to deter an intruder.

“They could be here any minute,” she barked as she turned back, “Is it stable there? Can we send it down?”

“There’s a problem,” I spoke as quickly as possible. I heard once that if you rush your speech, it changes the rhythm of the words and makes it harder to notice a lie. I don’t know where I heard it, maybe it was in a spy movie or on TV or something, but I figured it was worth a try, “We can’t send the elevator down. The doors –”

“Can you find a way to deal with it?” she interrupted, cutting off an explanation that probably would have been full of holes if I’d had time to finish it. “Those Russians are going to be looking all over. I’ve got an idea how to distract them for a minute, and maybe convince them we went down the fire escape already. But I’m going to need to call in a big favour, so I haven’t got time to deal with engineering problems. That’s a thing for you guys.”

“Can do,” I gave her a thumbs up, “I’ll call Dwayne and sort it out.” She nodded and walked away, phone already to her ear. I didn’t hear who she was calling, but I didn’t really care. Some other society, maybe, who might be willing to run a distraction in the quad and send the guys with guns chasing after them. Maybe they had a big crate that they could wheel across the quad, let these guys think it was us with the Box. That really would be a big favour, and I hoped that whoever it was wouldn’t get hurt.

As soon as she was gone I called Dwayne. Told him the elevator wouldn’t go down if I pressed the button and then went out. As it happened, I didn’t even need to show Ferrari that this was actually the case. He agreed that I should ride with the box down to a level where there were buttons on the outside. This was a freight elevator, after all, so there wouldn’t always be people inside when it was packed with heavy gear.

My heart was racing as it went down. One level and then another. The double doors at the front of the elevator were extra wide and extra high, but they didn’t have windows in so there was no sign of movement except for the feeling of lightness shortly after the door closed. I set to work with my multi-tool right away. Pliers weren’t really made for the job, but I figured they would be good enough. Grabbing each of the nails around the edge of the lid and pulling it out. After three or four I was already getting into a rhythm, but I knew it wouldn’t be long before the lift stopped.

I reckoned I’d pulled out two thirds of the nails. I hoped that would be enough. I didn’t have a prybar, obviously, that would have been too suspicious and the guys would have been certain I planned to betray them. But the trolley was a simple thing made of lengths of aluminium tubing, and I’d been able to slip a long steel ruler inside one of the tubes. Hopefully that would give enough leverage to get this lid off.___

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