Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Part 12, Chapter 2 - Are We At War Yet?

Maybe the Psychlos' baffling and stupid biology is actually clever symbolism. Like, the fact that their hearts are where their stomachs should be is indicative of their voracious hunger for wealth and resources, you know? Like they're a species ruled entirely by their appetites? And the "eyebones" and "mouthbones" represent... you know what, never mind.

So Jonnie's waiting in a coffin in the minesite morgue, using a "hand viewer" to keep an eye on the outside thanks to a well-placed camera. No mention of air holes. He's a bit tense:

For today in the space of just two exact minutes, he had to cover certain exact grounds and do very drilled and exact things, and to them in an exact time, or the whole project would fail and he would be dead. And Chrissie and Pattie would die as well. And all the Scots and others left on Earth.

It hurts to read sometimes.

Two hundred Psychlos teleport in as part of the annual personnel exchange, and Terl's busy making sure there's no special agents or a replacement Planet Head amongst them. He shoos away Jonnie's horse, which is hanging around the morgue for a mysterious reason, and then Terl starts inspecting his X-marked coffins.

He patted one of them fondly. He took a deep breath. Maybe eight or ten months from now he would be digging these up some dark Psychlo night in the isolated and dreary cemetery on Psychlo. And it would be riches, power! The fruits of his project were hard won. They wouldn't be that hard to spend!

The whole planet has one cemetery?! And you're hoping that the gravediggers or mortuary personnel don't notice the strange markings on the coffin lids when they're being buried, and then leave them alone over a period of ten months?! And nobody will notice a grave-robber sneaking around trying to carry ten lead-weight coffin lids that night?

Things are already going wrong. Terl notices that for Jayed's coffin he misspelled the dead agent's alias of Snit as "Stni," and then the guy operating the space forklift comments that the coffins feel unusually heavy - they normally weigh in at seventeen hundred pounds, but the operator thinks they feel closer to three thousand. And then he asks about Char, who hasn't shown up for his trip home yet. Terl just laughs it off, saying that they should have checked in "the beds of the female admin people" and that Char can catch the next semi-annual teleportation.

Of course the other guy buys it, and the coffins are dumped onto the firing platform. In minutes the process of teleportation will begin, an irreversible hour-long sequence that will send the dead Psychlos home... but suddenly, "from within the morgue, the empty deserted morgue, came a voice!"

Oh, the unbearable tension. Next chapter, an action sequence, I guess.

Back to Chapter One

1 comment:

  1. "Stni"?


    How in the heck do you misspell Snit as *Stni*? I just...ugh.