Books written by Ray Sullivan

Friday, 18 November 2011

Da Dan Brown Code Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty
‘Oh that’s just being childish,’ continued Bradford, returning to the map the policeman had given them, trying to ignore the new chapter.  ‘Pass me a pen,’ he said, reaching out absently and tutting when he realised he’d been passed a crayon.  He looked up but it wasn’t apparent which one had passed him the writing implement.  Returning to the map he used the crayon to mark the libraries clearly and to draw lines between the twelve locations.

‘If we start here,’ he said, picking a library at random, ‘and draw a line to this one, then this one, then so on,’ he said, joining the dots up in a seemingly random manner, ‘ we end up with a perfect Star of David, a Zionist symbol,’ he said.

Lady Bartholomew and Belsen looked at each other and shook their heads.

‘That’s never a Star of David,’ said Lady Bartholomew, ‘it’s got twice as many points as the Star does.  And what about the two libraries in the middle?’  Bradford had to admit it – she had a point.  Reaching behind her, Lady Bartholomew picked up one of the photocopies she’d made when they’d arrived at the all-night café.  That was one of the things she liked about being a fictional character – the ability to do convenient things that would be impossible in real life.  The other bit she liked was the holidays.  She took the crayon off Bradford and drew a few sweeping lines.

‘What is it?’ asked Bradford, turning the map around several ways.

‘Two pentagrams on a bicycle,’ replied Lady Bartholomew.

‘That’s ridiculous.  Bicycles are mysterious symbols used to denote magical places, they'd never be seen dead near a pentagram’ reeled off Bradford.  Lady Bartholomew seemed less than convinced.  Belsen interrupted.
‘Doesn’t a pentagram have five sides?’ he asked, drawing looks of annoyance from both Bradford and Lady Bartholomew.

‘Five-ish,’ she hissed.

Belsen took the crayon and a fresh photocopy of the map and smoothly run the wax around the paper.  He sat back, clearly pleased with his creation, carefully laying the crayon on the table.

‘What is it?’ asked Bradford again. 

‘It’s Growler, my pet dog,’ he answered.  Both Bradford and Lady Bartholomew nodded appreciatively – it was possible that they could turn this into a clue.  In the grand scheme of things it was as likely as anything else they’d witnessed.  Bradford was just conjugating a mouthful of bullshit when Lady Bartholomew poured scorn over the drawing, making the ink run a little.
‘Hang about, there’s thirteen libraries on your drawing.  We had to make do with twelve.’  All three leaned in towards the map and agreed – there was an extremely obvious addition that shouldn’t have needed reference to the two earlier maps, one which only the most dim witted readers would miss.

‘It’s the eye,’ said Bradford for the benefit of the dim witted readers, ‘it isn’t on the other two maps.  Lady Bradford looked back at her map and noticed that, actually, it was on hers, just peeking at the edge.  All three sat back casually trying not to embarrass those readers looking back at the maps.

‘I don’t believe it,’ she said, ‘it seems to be in different positions on each map.  I think it must have been just outside of the boundary on yours,’ she said to Bradford.

‘What kinda goddam library moves around?’ asked Bradford.

‘I thought you’d majored in Non-American Studies,’ spat Belsen, caustically, burning his tongue in the process.  Bradford felt his face turn red, probably due to caustic spatter.

‘Your point?’ asked Bradford.
‘Well, you should be conversant with British library culture.  Every school has one, some churches have one, each town and city usually has one to keep the dog-eared tat that passes for popular culture in…’  Bradford held his hand up.

‘Whoa!  Just a moment, I have no idea what you’re thinking,’ he declared.  He saw the look in Lady Bartholomew’s eyes and knew he’d made a classic error.

OK, if that’s how you prefer it.  On top of these locations for libraries we have the mobile library.  That’s what the moving dot is.  Bradford looked absently at Lady Bartholomew.

‘What is he on about?’

‘I thought you were supposed to know all the stuff bright non-Americans know?’ she replied, siding with Belsen.  Bradford felt extremely uncomfortable about all of this; it could affect his fee and anyway, it was his turn to dance.

‘I’m up to ‘J’.  Once I’ve done that I’ll do ‘K’, then ‘L’.  I guess I’ll learn about libraries then.  I may have to wait until I get to ‘M’ to learn about the mobile ones, though.’  Why would they want to move a library around?  How would they ever get the books back? He thought.

Why do you think there was an overdue library book in the cathedral, stupid?  replied Belsen, gaining Lady Bartholomew’s instant approval.  Bradford was against the ropes and had to do something to regain his credibility.

‘The mobile library is the clue.  Get in there and we find out what we’re supposed to find out, what the kidnapper wants us to know.’  Lady Bartholomew wasn’t convinced.

‘Why doesn’t he just tell us what he wants?’  Bradford rolled his eyes, regretting it immediately – the café floor was dusty.

‘If they did that we’d have a short story, a magazine two-parter at the most, possibly a blog book, if such a thing exists’ he said, reaching for the remaining photocopies.  He spread them out carefully and circled the mobile library dot on each one.  ‘It looks like it’ll be near here in about four minutes’ time,’ he calculated.  He picked up the book they’d found in the cathedral and urged the other two to drink up.  ‘Come on, this may be our last chance, we can’t afford a second's delay.  If we hesitate or let ourselves be stalled for even a fraction of a nanosecond we’ll miss the library.’ He turned and found himself face to face with the tallest buffoon of a policeman he’d ever encountered.

‘It’s a bad time,’ he said, trying to push past, ‘I’ve got to get this book back to the library.’  The policeman took the book out of Bradford’s hand and flicked it open.
‘At two-thirty in the morning, sir?  When it’s already three weeks over-due?  Bradford’s heart sank.  He’d met the buffoon before the end of chapter twenty and had caught one of Lady Bartholomew’s congenital illnesses into the bargain.  The next chapter looked like being extremely complicated.

Missed the beginning? Click here to go to Chapter One

'Da Dan Brown Code' will be published in early January as 'The Last Simple'. Anyone who is registered as following either my blog or Twitter account will receive instructions on how to obtain a free e-copy of 'The Last Simple' shortly after it is published.

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