I present to you tonight a fragment from my novel in progress. As you will see, it is almost a complete artistic work, with only a few small changes to be made to plot, character, structure, form, style, motivation, description, scenery, technological details, environmental details, social details, miscellaneous details, costume, props, logical consistency, prose, punctuation, the arrangement of chapters (most of them), the inclusion of chapters (all of them), the exclusion of chapters (not enough of them), the meaning, the message, the chosen medium of storytelling, and everything else, before it is ready for publication. I anticipate that it will be a future winner of the Miles Franklin Prize, and will be a work widely acclaimed by critics with such words of praise as 'dull', 'dreary', 'disgusting', 'devastating', 'damning', 'dim-witted', and 'derriere'. I hope you like it as much as they will.
CHAPTER 1: THE ASSIGNATION OF SOULS
The night was dark and stormy that day, as the two of them saddled their horses, and rode in opposite directions together along Route 66, as the train swayed along the tracks and continued into the night. They were both twins to different mothers, but apart from that they were unrelated; and if it were not for the horrifying spider-web of conspiracy that was about to simmer and embroil them in its bloodcurdling, tentacle-like grasp, then they would not have had anything to do with one another.
As she stood at the carriage-window with a cigarette, which she did not smoke, dangling from poised-yet-limp, nervous-yet-calm fingers, she noticed a tall, blond-haired, blue-eyed stranger, with a squat body, a coal-black head, and dark brown eyes standing still and swaying towards her across the rattling carriage. She kept her eyes, which never left the form of this mysterious stranger, firmly fixed on the landscape outside the train; and when he hissed, "Roger has ze cargo ready," into her right ear, she was careful not to move a single muscle of her body in response, but only to nod, and signify assent with her left hand, her right knee, and her left and right big and middle toes.
She had no idea what he meant. But, she realised, she had no idea what any of it meant; no idea what life meant, or did not mean, to anyone. On these cold, snow-swept mountains, as the sun beat down on the plains of the desert with a merciless heat, a heat that blasted the verdant fields of pasture, with the laughing milkmaids, and the mean, crowded, narrow city streets in which she had lived all her life, she realised she had found no answer. No answer to the perpetual 'Why' that life threw in her face, like an instantaneous thunderbolt of blood, in a few cold, precise knife-slices of the hammer.
She took the ancient parchment that he had slipped into her pocket, as he looked directly into her face, with his eyes casually averted; she took it, unfolded it, and carefully read through the message. It was written in Spanish, by a French hand; and she could only speak German: but nevertheless, with the aid of a passing knowledge in semaphore, she was able to translate the whole thing:
THE BARON HAS ESCAPED FROM ALCATRAZ STOP
PROCEED ASSASSINATION PLANS STOP
IT IS ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL STOP THAT YOU STOP THE WAR STOP
HAVING LOVELY TIME STOP
WISH YOU WERE HERE STOP
She hastily set fire to the message; then, while the flames mounted higher, shredded it, and swallowed them, until they were nothing but red-hot ashes and embers. Finally, she would have her revenge for the devastating murder of her three brothers, who were now living happily in three Tuscan Villas on the white cliffs of Dover. She went back to her carriage, took her crossbow out of its glittering medieval scabbard, and armed it with the twelve silver bullets that had been given to her by the Voodoo High Priest, and also Catholic Archbishop of the Presbyterian Church, and High King of Romania; then, when she had done that, she pulled the cord ordering the street car driver to stop, and spurred her coal-black Palomino stallion into a gallop, and pulled over at a shabby little desert diner on the corner of 49th and 77th Street, Manhattan.
"Get me a coffee," she snarled at the first waiter she came across. "Make it long, and make it black."
Tim, your links stink, you fink!
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