Summer 1964 – A Wall of Cement and Disdain


Captain Palmer entered the cell and slammed the door. He leaned against it as if holding back the forces of politics and bureaucracy. He said, “Miss Taylor, I don’t know how you got here but you better be able to prove to me that you’re on our side. Because if you’re not, I can’t help you. You’ve picked the worst place in the world to be a mystery. We don’t like mysteries here.”

I folded my hands together and looked at him over the arrangement. I said, “I am here at the request of powers that care nothing for the disagreements between East and West. They have waging their own little wars in this part of the world since before your species of humanity learned the benefits of agriculture. They don’t care about you. They don’t really care about me. I am just a tool that one side is using to poke at the other. I will to do my duty and then I will be gone. If you decide to hinder me in carrying out that duty we may both have much to regret.”

Captain Palmer removed his weight from the door and squared his shoulders. He said, “Is that a threat?”

Unblinking, I looked him in the eye. “No,” I said, “It is one rabbit telling another that there are owls hunting tonight.”

Summer 1916 – The Adventure of the Somnabulist’s Corpse


Fuchs pointed the pistol and fired. Persephone’s hand moved more quickly than I could observe. She caught the bullet and hurdled it back with almost equal speed. It thunked loudly into the wall just to the left of Fuchs’ left ear. His mouth went wide and he dropped the gun. Persephone turned her unblinking eyes in my direction. She opened her mouth slightly and hissed. 

Winter 1878 – Every Devil Has A Mailing Address


“Why would you give me this, Pudovkin?” I asked. I looked again at the notebook. The addresses were written in the alchemist’s clear, tight cursive. 

“Would you believe that my conscience drove me to it? The men listed on those pages are poor scientists. They are driven more by their ambitions and the empty hungers of their intellect than by beneficent curiosity.” He gave me a tight and wholly unconvincing smile. None of his teeth showed between his lips. 

“No, Pudovkin, I do not believe that your conscience could rise you out of your chair if your house were on fire. Do you have a more convincing lie to tell me?”