A preview extract, with exclusive art by Malcolm Harrison
words (c) Sam Enthoven / visuals (c) Malcolm Harrison 2010. All rights reserved.
Click here for previous parts: 1 , 2 , 3 , 4
Final Sneak Peek
‘You accept my offer then, Steadman?’ I asked him, through the young man’s mouth.
‘Not . . . quite.’ Even through the speakers on the pit walls I could hear the smile in Steadman’s voice.
‘To the left of your pit,’ he said, ‘there is a door. Through it you could go anywhere you want, but the door is shut and the only one who can open it is me. To the right of your pit is a second door: that door is open. It leads to the building above us, a building known as the Barbican. There I’ve set up . . . a little bet.’
I waited. I had waited a long time. I was patient.
‘You’ve never seen the Barbican, of course,’ said Steadman. ‘The Corporation completed it in nineteen sixty-nine – rather after your time. Then, it was the largest performing arts centre in Europe. Now . . .’ He paused. ‘Well, you’ll find out.
‘I’m giving you a chance to prove yourself, my Queen,’ he went on. ‘If you show me that you can do what you claim, I’ll accept your offer. The first door will open. We’ll go through. Together, you and I will take charge of this world and run it the way it should be run.’
‘And if I . . . displease you?’
‘This room, along with the whole of the Barbican, is rigged with explosives. At midnight precisely they will detonate. The entire building will be destroyed, erasing all evidence of tonight’s events – including, if I have not opened the first door, you. Do we understand each other?’
‘Yes.’ I understood him better than he knew.
‘Then go, my Queen,’ said Steadman. ‘You have less than six hours. If you’re as powerful as you say, you’ll know what to do. And I can hardly wait,’ he added, ‘to see you do it.’
Already my hands were moving. All of them. The pit resounded with soft, crawling sounds.
My wait was over. Now, at last, I could begin.
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