Tweet She expected to land on her face on the cold library floor. Instead, she lay face down on wet cobblestones. A hackney cab careered past, the thundering hooves of a black stallion inches from her outstretched left hand. Selina scrabbled to get to her hands and knees, and crawled out of the gutter onto the filthy pavement. The book lay open, and mud from a passing cart splattered the empty pages.
Selina leaned onto the cobbles to grab the book. She stared at it in amazement. She flicked through the pages again, trying to find the void. Empty and muddied pages flicked past, with no sign of stars or space.
“'Ere, clear off, you! This is my patch, and I ain't sharin' it with no newcomers!”
A strident voice screeched in her ear. Selina looked up into the pinched face of a middle-aged woman. Knotted red hair hung about her shoulders, and she wore a faded green dress. White face powder settled in the wrinkles around her cruel blue eyes, and two angry red circles of rouge burned on her cheeks. She looked like one of the prostitutes on Commercial Street.
“Sorry, I didn't mean to intrude,” said Selina.
She stood up and looked around her. The woman looked like a Commercial Street whore, but this was not Commercial Street. A muddy gash cut down the street between the uneven pavements. Crooked buildings crammed together around narrow alleys and filthy courtyards. Dirty windows gazed down at her. Scrawny children played in the gutter, oblivious to the degradation around them. Even the Vertigo City slums didn't look like this.
Selina hurried down the street away from the harridan. She clutched the book to her chest. She passed more women in gaudy clothes. Some of the younger ones exposed their chests to the passing carriages, hoping for trade. Selina looked down at her own pale grey shirt and dark grey jodhpurs tucked into knee-high black leather boots. She felt over-dressed. The men stared at her, and the women threw curses, afraid she might steal their business.
The street opened out onto a wider street, an imposing white building on her left behind tall railings. Thick pillars held up a grand portico, while a pointed tower rose from the roof like an accusing finger. Two lengths of stone topped the tower, forming a cross. Selina had never seen such a building before. The architecture of the portico reminded her of the grand buildings of the former Council district of Vertigo, but she couldn't guess as to the purpose of the cross.
A pub stood on the street corner to her right. Gold lettering spelled out 'The Ten Bells' above the door. Light spilled out of the door onto the broken pavement outside. Selina darted across the street between two carts and slipped inside the pub.
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