Tue, Feb
10
2004

Perpetua Underground

Tue, Feb 10, 2004

The ninth installment of the Carnival of the Canucks is now up on Blamblog (undergoing renovations). Just be warned that the links may not be work-friendly, but the content is udderly fantastic (sorry).

I especially like the animated gif he made out of my photograph, to the right.


Just a quick television review: Rick Mercer's Monday Report is doing well, but the show that's captured my attention on Monday nights is This is Wonderland. It's not your average Law and Order, that's for sure. I highly recommend it.


receiving.jpg

This is a first draft, so please expect roughness. The Night Girl is simmering nicely in my mind. There's still a lot of enjoyable setup that I can write about if I want to rekindle my momentum, and there's still a lot of time to think up a credible threat to destabilize the situation (which remains alarmingly stable at the moment).

For those new to The Night Girl, the first part is here, followed by this part here (in both cases, Perpetua bears her older names, Viktoria and Viqtoria). This scene below leads directly from the third part, which is here.

Thanks to Chris, by the way, for putting me onto the scene possibilities for the unseen utility areas of the Underground City. I have not seen them myself, so the descriptions here all arise from the mind's eye images that resulted when he described them. I hope I've done them some justice.

Perpetua sat at the edge of the river of people like a child tempted to throw in a stick. She spread her gear out on the food court table, her rucksack on one chair, bag of clothes across the table, an air of solitude keeping the other chairs free. She leaned back among the brown and orange hues, the wash of halogen potlights, and jotted notes in her journal while her coffee grew cold and the corridor babbled and squeaked.

The flow of crowds slacked, changed direction, grew, peaked and slacked again. The lights turned off at the food counters and the corridor silenced until you could hear the individual clicks of high heels receeding into the distance, the strains of muzak, and the scuttling of a bucket being towed by a janitor. Perpetua set down her journal and smiled, serene.

Packing her stuff, she swept out of the foodcourt and marched through a stairwell door, descending along the same route that took her to her job interview. Only this time, she got lost.

The stairwell was as she remembered it, narrow and white, dusty railings getting dustier the deeper she went, clammy and smelling of car exhaust. She burst out the bottom door, past its sign declaring "AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY" and into a cavernous space. Fluorescent lights turned the concrete a pale blue. The floor was smooth and slippery, ramping up into the distance. Two tractor-trailors were parked to one side, their backs open, carts laden with boxes resting discarded, for now. Her footsteps echoed among the distant shout of the receiving workers.

She was in Subbasement 2B. She turned for the doorway to the stairs down to Subbasement 3 and stopped, starring at a bare concrete wall. She ran her hand along the cold and rough surface, then looked around for where the door had gone.

There was no other door. She stepped back, taking more and more of the dusty corner in. A battered garbage can, dusty and full of cigarette butts. A pile of tattered papers. A bulletin board inviting everybody to last year's office Christmas party. But no door to Subbasement 3.

"Hey!" someone shouted. Perpetua whirled around.

A man in dirty work clothes hopped off of a receiving dock and approached, eyes narrowed, his skin pallid from lack of sunlight. "Restricted area," he barked. "You shouldn't be here."

"I work here," said Perpetua.

"Yeah?" said the man. "Then why ain't you working?"

"I can't find the place," Perpetua snapped. "I only just got the job. It was here yesterday, I'd swear."

"This is as low as you can get in the Sunlife Tower," said the workman. "You're lost, lady. Why don't you go back the way you came and call for directions?"

"Look!" Perpetua glared. "I know I'm supposed to be here, I recognize this receiving area. I know there's another flight of stairs down. Where are they?"

The man blinked at her. "You work in that cappucino shop?"

Perpetua stopped, swallowed, licked her lips. "I pass it, yeah. You know it?"

"Sorry, miss," said the man. He pointed over her shoulder. She looked and saw a small door, dirty white with a rusty smash bar, beside the one she'd just emerged from. "That's the door. It'll take you right there."

She stared at him. He gave her a gap-toothed grin. "Don't worry, miss, you'll get used to it... after a while."

Perpetua glanced from the door, to the man and back. "Thanks," she said, and turned away. She slammed through the smash bar and clattered down a flight of metal steps. These she remembered, as well as the metal utility door, surrounded by rusted pipes and lit by a single flickering bulb. She pushed through.

Her feet struck tile. The door swung behind her and she was surrounded by soft hues, backlit storefront signs, and the sound of muzak over the PA system. At the coffee shop, the proprietor nodded to her while he dried a mug.

T.P. Earthenhouse Rare Coins, Bouncers and Art Installations was dark. She marched over to the door the handle. It was unlocked. She stepped inside for her first day at work.


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