Quantum Steam Theory - Part 5 of 5

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

The men taunted her, staying several paces behind. In Vertigo, she could call for a Weimar patrolman, or a district lawman. Selina saw no reassuring badges of authority here. The footsteps behind her quickened, and Selina broke into a run. A cart trundled out of a side street, blocking her flight. Panic gripped her, and she threw herself sideways into a dark alley. Clambering over piles of rubbish, Selina plunged into the gloom ahead.

Selina collided with a figure hunched over a heap in a doorway. The figure let out a shout as it fell to the ground. Selina rolled off the man, and scrambled to her feet. She looked down and saw a bloodied knife in his hand. Her eyes flicked between the knife and the motionless heap. Legs streaked with mud stuck out from filthy skirts pushed up to the waist.

“There she is!” shouted one of her pursuers.

Selina took flight, rushing headlong down the alley. She couldn’t stop to think about the heap, or the knife.

What kind of place is this? she thought.

A commotion erupted as her pursuers ran into the man with the knife. One of them shouted a curse, and scuffling filled the air. Cries of ‘Murder!’ echoed around the alley. Windows flew open and heads poked into the darkness. Selina ignored it all, and the fracas grew faint as she rounded the corner. Relief flooded her mind as her pursuers forgot her.

Selina’s foot caught the edge of an abandoned cart and she stumbled forward. The book slipped out of her grasp, and fell open. Selina just had time to notice the starry void opening beneath her as she dived headfirst into space.

* * *

Selina woke up on the floor of the library. Cold flagstones supported her back, and a thumping in her skull told her she hit her head when she fell. She parted her hair and felt a lump. The black leather book lay open on the floor, just beyond her grasp. Blank pages stared up at her, telling nothing of her adventure.

Selina picked up the book and closed it with a thump. She pushed it back into its slot on the shelf. Selina shoved it onto the shelf as far as it would go, and the shadow of its neighbouring tome fell across the shiny golden lion.

Dusting herself off, Selina dabbed at the mud splatters on her boots with a handkerchief. Taking her time, she walked back to her table in the reading room. Quantum steam theory suddenly didn't seem so boring after all.

Part 1 : Part 2 : Part 3 : Part 4


Adam Byatt said...

You do action so well in your stories. Love it. And I like the aside to a particular Jack of a ripping variety.
Adam B @revhappiness

Sam said...

Yes, I agree with Adam, you do action really well. I thought after the last episode that Selina might be done for. I really like how you worked Jack into the narrative.

Jason Coggins said...

Oh ... this feels like it ended a tad too soon. I liked the way you cunningly wove it with historical events (something you always execute so beautifully) but I think you had more mileage with the whole Vertigo City/Whitechapel murders thang. Of course, if your intention was to keep our whistles whetted before your next Vertigo City opus you succeeded admirably x

Icy Sedgwick said...

Adam - Teehee, that was what I was building up to!

Sam - It's taken a lot of practice but I think reading comics and watching movies helps when you're writing action.

Jason - Oh this was just a mini serial to tide everyone over until I write the next one. I suppose you could consider it my first attempt at "alt history", and a nod to Mike Mignola's "Gotham by Gaslight".

Harry said...

No, Quantum steam theory is certainly not boring! Loved this series Icy!

Draco Torre said...

Great ending. Selina fell back into the library nearly as mysteriously as she stumbled out. Some books pack all kinds of adventure. Although, that White Chapel place didn't seem all that nice. Good to be in Vertigo.

-David G Shrock

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