“Partridge Publishing, how can I help you,” a cordial female voice queried.

Harmon didn’t recognize the voice. Even, whispy, detached.

“This is Harmon Kessel. I’m calling in regard to a prospective submission. Mr. Partridge previously expressed interest in my work.”

“He’s been expecting you, Mr. Kessel.”


Harmon arrived in the city with little more than the clothes on his back and the female secretary’s words echoing in his head. The gleaming towers of the corporate district shading his passage to the docks and from there to the ferry that led to a small artificial isle to the north-east. Steam-strewn air and humming neon illuminating the salt-smattered dusk. After disembarking he traversed a smooth drive and let out before a great manse of no familiar style.

He rapt upon the door and waited. No sound save the roiling of the wind and the gulls turning pirouettes above the spray.

Shortly, a eye-level latch slid open, unveiling amber eyes surrounded by olive skin.


“Harmon Kessel. I’m expected.”

“Obviously, otherwise you’d not be here. One moment, please.”

The latch slid shut. Half a minute later there came the sound of a keyhole’s turning.

The door swung open.

The monolith’s gloam beckoned.


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