Panic struck him when the key jammed in its hole. Forcing himself to relax a little he tried again. A sigh of relief escaped him as the door creaked open. The key must have been slightly imperfect due to heat deformation of the plaster cast or something. That was one answer to the hindrance but now was not the time for theorising he thought as he glanced at his watch. Fifty minutes left before they made their down and caught him in flagrante delicto. The situation was too risky to chance turning the light on, if the security men caught a glimpse of a light from one of the opposite long corridors on the higher floors, they would be down in no time. With three months to plan this little jaunt Professor Heinkel was primed good and ready. He rummaged in the deep pockets of his long black trench coat and withdrew a small torch.
There were so many pot plants scattered around that for a second Professor Heinkel had the surreal feeling of being thousands of miles away, not in Blackdale, but in a tropical jungle or a rain forest. Some of the plants were seven feet high and just about touched the ceiling. The windowsills were so full of plants that it was difficult to actually see out of the windows. He contemplated turning a light on, but decided that was not such a bright idea. Between the plant pots there was a potpourri of different types of rocks spread at random. Rocks covered the floor as well as the window sill basalts, granites, gabbros, komatiites and various other exotic types. The surreal feeling soon passed and he wondered where to start looking.
The filing cabinets, which surely held the vital information he was seeking stood against a wall to the right hand side of Dr Chandos’ desk facing the door. Forty five minutes to go before the security men started to check the ground floor. Ten minutes just to get here and look around. Good going. He started flicking thorough the first filing cabinet. Another fifteen minutes passed and he was still none the wiser. Each filing cabinet had three drawers, five minutes per drawer. Must speed up. Forty minutes passed by and he had just about finished going through the last drawer of the third cabinet when his flashlight threw a beam upon a red file. This was the one; the others had been black. He remembered Dr. Chandos boasting the previous term, in the staffroom, the work in this file was going to revolutionise the field of geology. That day Professor Heinkel seethed with jealousy as Dr. Chandos danced from the room waving a red file above his head.
Professor Heinkel began to read the file which had ‘Plans for October 2015’ scrawled across its plastic front in black marker pen. His attention was interrupted when he saw the second floor lights go out, and a few seconds later the first floor lights came on. They were slow this evening, at least another ten minutes at least before I need to get my skates on. There was a reclining padded leather chair tucked under Dr Chandos’ desk. Chuckling to himself he pulled the chair out, sat down, reclined the chair rested his feet on the desk, and started to read.
Half way down the first page a quiet humming disturbed him from his reading. The sound came from directly behind him. He abruptly turned around. The noise stopped. A wasp was resting on a gigantic leaf of one of the tropical plants which filled the office. I’m getting jumpy in my old age, he thought and laughed out loud. Two pages into the file he frowned at what he was reading. “Just what the hell is this? It certainly isn’t geology”.
A long time ago and many light years away on the planet Huggleh lived a young Hugglian called Altebon. Unfortunately Altebon was born a freak of nature in respect to his fellow planet Hugglians who really were quite ugly in that he was extremely good looking, but as if that wasn’t a cross enough to bear for him he was extremely intelligent as well.
As he grow older he found that he didn’t have to say much to attract the opposite sex and the female Hugglis so for a few years he did what young men do without going in to too much detail here and without thinking too much of it either. Needless to say Altebon sailed through all the Hugglian exams around without so much as giving a second thought to what was said in the classroom when he was out of the school door.
TO BE CONTINUED…
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.
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.
This is just a short piece on the agency name: ‘DERNIER CRI’. It is in fact a French term that has become accepted in the English language and can be found in any dictionary worth its salt. The Chambers dictionary definition is as follows:
“the last word (literally cry); the latest fashion”
So it is in fact very similar to the phrase avant garde. With regards to the pronunciation of the phrase most people know the more familar French word derriere in everyday English usage and Cri rhymes with Tee so if you think Derriere Tee and use that to pronounce DERNIER CRI you will be along the right lines.
I’m Alan and lead web developer at Dernier Cri Web Solutions. After studying for ‘A’ Levels in Geology, Chemistry and Maths with Statistics at Barrow 6th Form college I graduated in 1992 from Manchester University with a BSc Geochemistry degree. I then retrained as a computer programmer in traditional languages such as COBOL and ‘C’ before being employed as a programmer in the local shipbuilding yard which was called VSEL then and is now BAE Systems.
In the early part of the new millennium I decided to take a slightly different direction to become a web designer/developer and studied through The Open University for an IT Degree specializing in this area. And relocated from Barrow-in-Furness to North Manchester to further this career goal now residing in Radcliffe near Bury.
After some years contracting and experience of office life am keen to make a go of it in a more quieter working environment running my own web agency.
My other main passion in life is music and have been playing the guitar for many years.