Aug. 9th, 2009


Found something of yours. Will be by to drop it off.


That's all there is, though Aziraphael reads the text wave over several times.

There's no postscript; there's no attachment. He reads it forwards; he reads it backwards; he applies every one of the considerable number of ciphers he can think of, including seven that civilians are quite probably not supposed to know, and three that haven't been used since invisible ink fell out of fashion. He looks and looks for hidden messages that fail to appear - that in fact seem bound and determined not to exist at all, despite his diligence in seeking them.

The problem, of course, is that it's Raguel. With Raguel, Aziraphael has learned, nothing is ever that simple - except when it is.

And so he frets, although he tries not to. The surface message of the wave is itself worrying enough; it might be the next day that Raguel decides to come by, or it might be next year. Of course, the knowledge that it could be any time doesn't stop Aziraphael from scanning the skies nearly all the time, in between trying his luck with Raguel's useless link. It gives him the same message over and over: UNABLE TO CONNECT - INTERFERENCE.

This does nothing for his nerves.

As it happens, however, it's only about two weeks later that a bustling novice, far too officious for his tender years, brings him word of an incoming craft. Or rather, an incoming craft that doesn't then appear in reassuring black and white when Aziraphael listens to the sudden certainty in his gut and goes to check the planner. And as he expected, nobody is expected.

And so it's midafternoon of a lovely Persephone day - beaming and blue-skied and with just the right amount of breeze to provide relief from the sun - that finds Prior Fell making his way up towards the landing dais a short distance from the main buildings at Southdown Abbey.

His pace is just a little too brisk to be called a stroll.



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