Quantum Steam Theory - Part 3 of 5

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

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.

Part 1 : Part 2

10 comments:

Adam Byatt said...

Enjoying this vignette about Selina. Really want to know what the book is. A pub is a great place to take refuge.
Wikkid.
Adam B @revhappiness

Carrie said...

Enjoyed this installment!

Crybbe666 said...

Having a great time with Selina and really interested in the contents of this book. Bring on Part 4!

Sam said...

Oooh, Selina's in Victorian (or earlier?) London, near St Paul's, right? I really enjoyed how you handled her transition to the unfamiliar setting, there's a real sense of Selina's bewilderment about this installment. I hope the pub's punters don't mistake her for one of those other women. Can't wait for the next installment!

Gracie said...

I'm caught up now. Really glad she didn't lose that book. I wish this series could go on for 30 episodes...

Simply excellent stuff. Descriptions are vivid, and characters jump right off the page. Love it!

Icy Sedgwick said...

Adam - Put it this way, you can't find it on Amazon.

Carrie - Good!

Paul - Only a week to go!

Sam - Almost...you'll find out for definite next week...

Gracie - I think I might do some more adventures with Selina!

Jason Coggins said...

Oh you and your historical London riff (which you always do so well). I'm wondering if The Big Smoke is linked to Vertigo by some strange quantum hiccup. Will be back to find out ...

Icy Sedgwick said...

Oh you know me, Jason, I couldn't go for long without sneaking some London history in there...

David G Shrock said...

Great transition, Selina stumbling into a new locale. And the book with the lion--mysterious.

Harry said...

Very cool Icy! I'm digging this story and looking forward to more!

Post a Comment