The Slemnec Stone (Episode 1)

This is a novel I started to write some 20 years ago after leaving Manchester University. A few samples of the opening chapters will be published on this blog and the rest will be available on amazon kindle soon.

CHAPTER 1.

Professor Heinkel watched the lit university as he shivered hiding in the bushes flanking the small lane leading up to its entrance. It was a cold October evening and he’d been waiting three quarters of an hour for the two security men occupying the booth next to the main doorway to start their rounds. From his dank hiding place he could see the two security men clearly, but they could not see him. He knew they started their routine check on the top floor, the fifth; this would give him about an hour to find what he wanted; plenty of time for his purpose. An owl hooted close by giving Professor Heinkel a fright. Jesus. About to give up and head back to the warmth of his apartment the two security men folded their newspapers almost simultaneously, got up and headed through the inner entrance doors towards the lift. He waited for another five minutes, just in case the lift was already on the top floor and had to descend. Then he crept out of his hiding place certain no-one was watching him, and walked quickly to the main entrance of the geology department. Just dreary old glass doors, nothing so fancy like the arts building. When he reached the double glass door he glanced around checking again nobody was watching, convinced he was safe he quietly let himself in.

The plan of the building was an empty rectangle with the main entrance facing the shortest corridor, and the long arm to the right about ten feet away. Outside in the centre there was some shrubbery and a small waterfall. During the hotter weather some of the lecturers could be seen from inside eating their pack lunches and smoking in the quadrangle. His intended destination was the office at the end of this nearest long corridor. Professor Heinkel hesitated and started down the pitch-black of the passage. This was it. Before the end of the academic year in the staffroom he’d manage to pinch Dr. Chandos’ key to his office from his patched tweed jacket and quickly had a plaster cast made of it before returning the key under pretence that he had found it under the coffee table near to where his younger colleague had been drinking his morning glass of port. Soon he would discover the secrets of Dr Chandos’ new project, and why he was so unwilling to discuss his work with any of his fellow lecturers. He’d come so close to finding out last term just why Chandos was so keen to guard the content of his work, but the telephone had rung the same evening he had had the key made. The petrochemical industrial giants sponsoring his research requested his presence in Germany for three months so he put his investigation on hold and booked a flight for first thing the following morning. He’d cursed his luck but Dr. Chandos would keep. Now he was about to know his secrets. Oh yes he was going to know alright.

Saliva dribbled down his chin, he was drooling as he began to make his way to Dr Chandos’ office. In the darkness he crashed in to something superficially hurting his knee. The sound seemed to echo through the building, he knew it just seemed that way in his heightened sense of awareness, the security men were on the top floor. He quickly realised he’d toppled over a small table students used to pile their work on during term time. He picked the table up. Muttering something obscene, he carried on with his furtive sortie towards the office. Why the hell didn’t the others make use of the pigeon holes they were given. At the end of the corridor he stopped and cocked his ear to Dr Chandos’ office door. All quiet, good, stop being silly, of course it was quiet. Dr Chandos was in new Zealand and wouldn’t be returning until tomorrow.

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