Toward the back of the lecture theatre a figure fought to conceal a smile. It was a losing battle, and James O’Connell, second year arts under-grad, cast his head down humbly, hiding the smirk. That sort of smile felt unhealthily good, he decided. It was a superior smile, and not unwarranted, given the lecture.
Doctor Gregory Powell admired Orwell – that much was obvious. There was an animation about him whenever the ‘O’ word was mentioned, and James enjoyed the sight of this slight man in his late fifties, almost hidden by the bulk of the podium, shake rapturously and visibly colour – blush, really – as choice phrases like ‘uncritical humanism’ and ‘the innate dichotomy of character’ were flung out into the crowded audience. Dr Powell admired Orwell, loved him, really, and it seemed entirely possible that he should– in some underappreciated sense – actually know what the man had thought.
Of course, he didn’t. Powell might have admired him, but James, a tall, red-haired creature who hailed from a South Shores farming community, aspired to be him. He’d adopted all the mannerisms of the late, great George Orwell; had fallen in love with nature, bought a motorcycle, taken to an ostentatious display of tea-lore, bemoaned the death of the left, publicly lamented the simplification of modern English. He’d been careful, however, to avoid the unintentional uptake of any of the moods or motives of Orwell’s host, the insufferable Eric Blair. No twee little moustache, no undermining class snobbery, no hatred of dirt, or shocked recoil at the poor, no disingenuous aloofness. The only thing he had in common with Orwell’s reviled lesser-half was a leaning towards shameless womanising. Like Eric’s, this was often unsuccessful.
He raised his head, just a little. There was a striking young woman one row forward and a seat to his left. He could just make out her profile in the half-light of the auditorium; the wave of her hair, the sharp-cut cheeks, lips describing a mouth where anything but a smile would be a travesty. She was beautiful. She was also unaccompanied, although, James reflected, it would hardly matter if she were. He leant forward, conspiratorially, and whispered, “It’s all bollocks, you know.”
“I should say ‘Bollix,’ actually,” he hissed, “because that’s what the great man himself always said, but I think it sounds a bit like gravy powder, so I don’t. Bollocks will have to suffice.”
“What’s Bollix?” she asked, without once removing her gaze from Dr Powell, who, by now, was so excited that he’d removed his vest, rolled up his shirt-sleeves and was pacing the boards before the podium.
“I’m James,” he offered. “Whom might I be addressing?”
“What’s Bollix?” she asked, again. She hadn’t yet turned. In the shadows she bore a passing resemblance to some half remembered pre-war starlet.
He folded his arms beneath his chest and leant as far forward as he dared. “This,” he offered, nodding his head toward the stage. “This lecture. This crap about finality. It wasn’t Orwell’s finest work – we never got to see any of that because he died before he’d ever be able write it. They all want you to think that there’s some sort of plan, or pattern – they’re all Marxists, even if they don’t realise it, and Marxists like their patterns as much as they like their inevitable progress. They want you to think that his life was leading up to this point where he wrote it, but, god, there’d have been things after that, better things. Works you’d never imagine…”
“Oh,” she said, and laughed. “That old thing… Well…”
She turned, shifting in her seat, and smiled – the mouth ran the show, and then the body gradually followed suit. James had never seen an entire person smiling before – she really was beautiful.
“What do you think,” she continued, and made to rise. “Would anyone miss us if we snuck out for lunch?”
There was a café hidden away along the southern edge of the great lawn. You had to know where to look – past the flowerboxes, crowded to overflowing, down a flight time-worn stairs and along an almost forgotten sandstone cloister. In a grassy courtyard stood an ancient plane tree with five or six tables in its shade, and the café itself, which was buried in the foundations of the philosophy department. It was nominally a staff retreat, but there was no actual rule barring students, and James and a gaggle of acquaintances had appropriated it soon after learning of its existence.
James and the mystery woman took a table outside. She was still smiling.
“Nice place,” she said, glancing around.
“Thanks.” He smiled, too. It was impossible not to.
“What shall we have?” she asked.
After much deliberation, mainly on his part, it came to an elaborate roast-beef sandwich, a Spanish omelette and polenta chips to share.
“And a pot of tea,” he added, before the waitress could glide away. “A large one. Darjeeling. And none of that nonsense about ‘one for the pot’ – if it’s good tea, you shouldn’t need to do that, otherwise it’ll be overpowering.”
“Impressive,” the mystery woman observed, after the browbeaten waitress had retreated.
“Thanks.” Still that smile, but there was a predatory set in the teeth – such brilliant teeth – and laughter, dancing in her eyes.
“Oh, by the way, I’m Anna. Anna Karst.” She swung back in her chair, hands behind her, resting on the plane tree’s trunk – bringing those dangerous, languorous legs into view. James struggled to maintain eye-contact.
“A pleasure to meet you, Miss Karst.” He said, carefully. “Karst. It certainly is an interesting name.”
“It’s a slippery hole in the ground that leads to subterranean kingdom of limestone caverns and magical grottos. It’s a good name. I chose it myself.”
“So why are we here, today, then, Miss Karst?”
The smile grew broader. “Orwell,” she said.
The polenta was too soft, too greasy. James pushed the bowl to one side and began the laborious process of cleaning his hands.
Anna, picking at her omelette, paused mid-mouthful and produced a photograph from her breast pocket. She proffered it, sliding it across the table. Tiny and black and white and almost square, showing an emaciated man, wearing a pencil moustache and a pained expression – James ran the napkin once more across his right thumb and retrieved it.
“Is this… is this original? How did you get it?”
Anna swallowed, and grimaced. “Not important.” She took another bite, and resolved, belatedly, to abandon the omelette.
“You do literature?” he asked, fervent. “You’re an Orwell follower, too? Is this from one of the archives? People are going to be pissed off by this, you know…”
“I’m in physics.” The tone was matter of fact. She reached across the table, skewering his sandwich with her fork. “Is your food OK? Might I have some?”
“Physics?” He said, hardly noticing as she excised a greater portion of his lunch, transferring it with delicate precision to her plate.
“Physics?” he said, again, uncertain.
“Yes.” She took a tentative mouthful and coughed. “I’m sorry,” she said, after taking a huge draught of tea, “but that was terrible. Why do you even come here?”
“I have to admit, the food’s gotten worse over the last few months. It’s all a little mysterious.” He paused, for a moment, and was struck by a thought. “Maybe that’s why none of the staff eat here anymore.”
“Anyway,” she continued, “I am in Physics, but it’s a rather special branch, which overlaps with arts, and even classics, sometimes. Oh, and musicology, too. What we do is… Well, James, just listen. There are four fundamental forces in the universe; Strong Nuclear, Weak Nuclear, Electromagnetism, and Gravity. The first three forces all have observable carrier particles, gluons and so forth, which all work on a quantum level… and… I’m losing you, aren’t I?”
James nodded. She smiled. He forgave her.
“Bear with me. Let’s just say that the first three forces are very strong compared to gravity, and no-one knows why. Now gravity doesn’t seem to have a carrier particle. This is where strings come in. For the purposes of this argument, let’s just say that those observable carriers are all open loops of energy…”
She made a little arch shape on the tabletop with her thumb and index finger.
“…moving around on the four dimensional membrane – this tabletop – of our universe. They’re tied down, and we can see them. They make up everything around us, this tree, that awful food…”
She reached out and tapped him on the forehead.
“…you. But gravity, gravity is a different matter. Physicists seem to think that it’s a closed string, unconnected with out singular universe. I’d be like a soap bubble, floating above the table, except it could move through the table if the need arose, and that’s where my analogy collapses. Anyway, gravity, in the form of its carrier particle – Gravitons – floats between all these separate universes. So the reason why gravity is so weak is because it’s diluted, spread across a host of other dimensions.”
“So?” Asked James, intrigued.
“So if you could harness those gravitons, you could move things around in those other dimensional membranes. Special things – reference points for a quantum entanglement bridge, call it a gateway, if you will. The brilliant thing is that gravity exists in a sort of meta-dimension, this eleventh dimension, and in relation to our four-dimensional universe you can move that gateway anywhere…”
She stopped suddenly, and peered under her plate.
“I suddenly thought, ‘maybe they’ve just hidden the real food,’” she offered, by way of explanation. ‘You know. As a challenge. This is a university, after all – you should always be alert and on your guard. Who knows what could happen?”
“This all sounds incredible,” countered James, lying desperately, for he couldn’t bear losing her. “But it’s all theoretical, isn’t it?”
Anna simply smiled.
Nineteen minutes later, after settling the bill – Anna had paid, insisting that he was doing her a favour for which she was deeply indebted – James found himself at the foot of a disused fire escape that lead to the old biology ward. Anna alighted upon the stairs, talking as she climbed.
“…Physics is good, fascinating, really, but it’s more a means to an end. I like literature. I like it a lot. I like Orwell, too. Can you believe I never read any of his stuff until a month ago? Hadn’t found it, but when I did – God. It’s like a searchlight in your soul, you know? So that’s why I’m studying him, now… It’s interesting to follow all those disparate threads and weave a story out of them, all the might have beens and missed possibilities. Streptomycin and all that. Nineteen Eighty Four is my favourite, although it’s a horrible read.”
James knew, shockingly, that he was in love. On the third story landing she stopped, fished about for a ring of keys, and unlocked the fire-door. They passed into a long corridor, parquetry thick with dust, which was sent scurrying with every footfall. The filtered glow emanating from begrimed windows, dust-motes in golden slices of sunlight, Anna’s voice, reverently quiet, whispering secretive literary observations he’d thought unique to his own experience. It was heaven.
“You think the world of him, though, don’t you?” She asked, passing through a doorway into an unremarkable storeroom.
“Yes. God yes. He’s perhaps the greatest man ever. So true. Amazingly true. Nothing about him was a lie, I mean, he was… a saint, really. A secular saint. I am the way I am because of his writing.”
She locked the door behind her and stalked over to the far corner. “And you still think he’d have bettered nineteen-eight-four, had he lived?”
“Of course!” He almost laughed. “Of course he could have. It was only his final novel in a pragmatic sense. God. The stuff he’d have written. The stuff he should have written. It pisses me off that people like Anthony Powell survived and he didn’t…”
She was kneeling, now, concentrating on a strange assemblage of rods and wires, drawing it upright into a vaguely portal shaped frame. There was a bare stretch of wall behind it. “Ops say you should never dismantle it in the field,” she muttered, hooking a skein of wire over an upright strut, “because you never know when you’ll need it, but I don’t think it’d be wise to have strangers wandering blindly in places they oughtn’t to be. Present company accepted – you’ll be supervised.”
She stood and stretched, and James longingly watched as shoulder-blades slide and the back arched and legs pulled taut as she stood on tip-toe. “What are you staring at?” she asked, still facing the contrivance. “There’s no time for rumination. Step forward. Take my hand.”
He did so without further prompting. They stood side by side before the device; she brushed one of the pylons, fiddled hurriedly with some sort of toggle, and then kicked the base. “We’ll just jump across,” she confided, tightening her grip on his hand, “and slide out into George’s time, Ok? Now… don’t get freaked out by any of this…”
There was a mournful moan that seemed to come from everywhere, and a sensation of severance, and then the wall beyond the framework shimmered.
“Follow me…” Anna whispered to an unwilling James. Hand enmeshed in hers, he found he had little choice.
Anna had once been told – by a rather overeager young tutor – that the universe sang, and, while it was undeniable romantic twaddle, he was right. It certainly sang, and she’d heard it.
When you were in the tunnel, in the split second between worlds, the song was there, roaring and screaming in the spiky quantum menagerie beyond the barriers. For a moment the noise was all – was all around, was inside you; in your bones and blood and brain. It was a tumbling crash of surf, an unending monsoonal downpour, a Sahel duststorm, an Airbus ploughing into a city block. They’d warned her about it, warned everyone, but its sheer enormity was impossible to impart. After her first passage she’d spent the better part of a week in a state of shocked recovery. She thought she’d gone mad, but the corps knew better, and had pushed her through, again, and again, and then again, once more, and she’d found that the terror diminished with each leap. Given time, she’d grown used to the song.
James hadn’t, but Anna still thought he screamed far more than was warranted.
There was still a fragment of the refrain echoing dangerously within his skull. Anna was kneeling over him, face inches from his, hair a cascading curtain so all the world was just him and her and that perfect smile. She ran a hand gently across his forehead.
“You hit your head when you fell,” she said, softly, and then, as an afterthought “That was after I knocked you out. Sorry.”
“Where are we?” he asked, as she helped him to his feet.
“Canonbury Square,” she replied, whispering.
“1946?” He straightened his collar.
The room was tiny; bare but for a cot in the far corner where a dark haired toddler slept, oblivious. James crept across to the window; sash held half open, panes begrimed. There was the hum of traffic and the far off rumble of controlled demolitions – the rough step march of a changing guard.
“London. 1946. Really?”
The pneumatic crescendo of jackhammers, closer still. Anna covered her ears and shot a glance at the slumbering child.
“Really. I don’t know how he sleeps through all of this…”
The door opened inwards, revealing a narrow hallway leading on to a frigid sitting room; a coal fire smouldering in the grate and a young woman crouched religiously before it. She sprang upwards at their approach – thin, elfin features registering shock and surprise, the handkerchief at her throat leaping to a tattoo of nervous, angry breaths.
“Susan Watson,” James whispered, leaning confidentially across to Anna. “His housekeeper. And nanny. I don’t think he ever actually slept with her…”
Susan took a measured step backward. “Who are you?”
Anna patted her jacket theatrically and produced a diminutive notebook. “Could we possibly have a word with Mr Orwell?”
And then the voice, from what James knew to be the study, the voice unheard, unrecorded – all radio records destroyed, as legend had it, by Orwell himself – for a half century; a monotonous, steady, upper-class drawl.
“Susan!” It called. “Susan! Who are you talking to? What do they want?”
Susan brought them tea.
“There’s a shamble of equipment in your nursery. Thanks in advance for not touching it.…” Anna said. She was very serious.
The travellers stood – James before the bureau, Anna, in the corner, notebook at the ready – as the unmatched mugs were dispensed. The tea was dark and as sweet and thick as treacle – James, for all his affectation, couldn’t manage more than a single sip. He placed the mug reverentially on the desk.
“That’s a very nice jacket.” Orwell offered, gazing appraisingly at Anna. “My wife used to have one like that. It suited her, and it suits you…”
There was a photo of Eileen – dead that last year – on the desk, alongside the typewriter, the review copies of novels and the sheaf of broadsheets – a good photograph, James reckoned, as far as ever-lasting memories went.
“I was just about to fetch the sword,” Orwell intoned. With the mug-bearing hand he gestured toward an oriental scabbard pinioned to the far wall – half drawn, exposing a silky suggestion of a blade.
“A relic from Myanmar,” he continued, “and about the only one I’ve left. Still useful, despite its history. I heard you two out in the hall and I’ll admit to being alarmed.” A draught of tea, and then he grinned, a disarming sight in a man so thin and frail. “But only for a moment – that sword’s very sharp, and I’ve no problem with murder, as long as it’s happening to strangers. Anyway… while we’re on the topic, just who the hell are you?”
James knew the lay of his hero’s allegiance as an implicit truth. “We’re not communists,” he admitted. Anna’s perpetual smile broadened.
“What’s that got to do with anything? I asked who you were, not what you are… And, even if you were, so what?”
“Well, sir,” James began, momentarily taken aback, “…you don’t…”
“…I don’t like communists.” There was real rancour in that voice. James recoiled. Orwell continued. “Yes. I blame Animal Farm for that. It’s apparently impossible, in this modern age, to be both anti-totalitarian and pro-left. If you criticise the Stalinist method, you’re accused of undermining socialism, and now everyone thinks I’m either some sort of Trotskyist saboteur or, worse, some superannuated blimp, brought back to life from the heyday of the empire…”
“No… no!” James was fervent. “Nothing like that, it’s just…”
“Well, you’re right. I don’t, as a rule, like them. They don’t think and they tell lies, and the left shouldn’t behave in such a manner…”
“We’re not communists,” Anna interjected. “We’re critics.”
“Oh, bollix,” and Orwell sighed. “You know, that’s even worse…”
“You’re going to die.” James said, deadly solemn.
“Oh, I know that.” Orwell tapped his chest. “But how do you?”
“We can’t tell you, Mr Orwell.” Anna said, levelly. “It would ruin the outcome.”
He seemed to accept that. “Well, there’s life in me yet. Enough for a good decade or so. Enough to see Richard grow up… Especially now Eileen won’t…”
“No. You’re going to die sooner than you expect. You think that an artist can’t perish until all their life’s work is complete, but you’ve only got one book left in you. It’s a good book, yes, an amazing novel, but it’s not worth killing yourself over. That’s what happens, you see; the pressure of writing it kills you.”
“It’s the one about the last man in Europe, isn’t it?”
“Winston Smith? Yes, it is. And I wanted to tell you that it won’t ever be too late to write it, that you needn’t go to Jura to waste away in windswept isolation – that you’ll be the greatest writer to come out of this war, and you’ll be needed, afterwards. The world you imagined is coming… Fuck. We need you, Mr Orwell. Save yourself…”
Out of the corner of his eye, James saw Anna smirking, pen skittering across the notepad. This unnerved him more than anything else that had happened that day.
“Myself?” Orwell scowled, fierce. “The world I imagine is darkness, pure and simple. I saw it in Spain and I saw it here, when the revolution didn’t come. In thirty-nine I thought ‘here it is, British socialism’ and the beast stirred and suddenly everyone was conscious of the fact that capitalism didn’t work, and there was change in the offing – and…. Now? Demolition, and fat women in Rolls Royce’s, and a labour government without a clue. It is darkness, and it’ll only be broken by the blast of atom-bombs, dropping here and abroad – and then, after that? Time stops, but the regime will go on…”
Orwell coughed. “I’m not sure how much of that is a joke, and how much of that is down to an inherited class pessimism. I dare say others will see it differently…”
“But you’d rather live? For Richard, if not your work?”
“Yes. I would…”
“Don’t go to Jura… Slow down. There is time.”
“Mr Orwell?” Anna levered herself away from the wall with her elbows. “I’m terribly sorry, but we’ll have to cut this interview short; there may be time for you…” – she met James’ gaze – “…but for us, it’s running out.”
Orwell deflated. “Do you live around here?” The comment was levelled squarely at Anna. “Perhaps you’d like to have dinner sometime – neither Susan nor I could be called cooks, but there’re an awful number of places roundabouts that…”
“I’m flattered, George, really, but I’m a stranger in a strange land, and such affection is best reserved for someone a little more, well, forthcoming. Cynthia’s a nicer gal than Sonia, though. Don’t forget that. And, now…” From her breast pocket came a second cigarette case – a leather affair with a sheet of folded paper attached by a length of elastic. “…Forty-Eight adult doses of Streptomycin, and instruction on its administration for your backward English doctors.” She grinned and the bundle was deposited beside the photo-frame. From within the monochromatic timelock, Eileen, too, seemed to smile.
“Do you know how rare that is?” Orwell asked, incredulous.
“It’ll put the spring back in your step,” she countered. “Now, James, come, come. We’ve got to run.” She turned to face Orwell, brought her face level with his – a stretch, for he was a tall man, and she had to push herself up on to tip-toe to equal him – and kissed him on the cheek. It was chaste, and the man was practically a demi-god, yet James still felt the stirring pangs of jealously, and was suddenly thankful that the writer had less than four years left to live. When they left, there was no regret; just a deadening absence of curiosity as they brushed past the gaunt figure of the sanest man in Europe, sped through the sitting room – with Susan, suspicious Susan, Richard hugged tight against her breast, watching on – down the hall, into the nursery, and through the gateway. The song was there, but from James there was quietude, for Anna wrapped one arm around his neck, and another over his mouth, so that he was suffocated by elbow and strangled by wrist, and he couldn’t say or scream a thing.
Late afternoon found them in Red Paris, in a dismal underground bookstore in the Latin Quarter. The owner was eyeing Anna lugubriously but James was past caring. “Why did you have to strangle me,” he asked, massaging his neck, “and why are we here.”
“One,” she said, sifting through a pyramid of shop-soiled paperbacks, “I can’t abide screaming. It unnerves me. Two, we are, oddly enough, looking for a book.”
“Which book?” he winced as one of the vertebrae manoeuvred itself into a less comfortable position.
“One of his.” She, said, as the search was transferred to a low-lying mortuary complex of hardbacks.
“Communist France? Nicest country in the western bloc, and a wonderful object lesson. Did you see the Eiffel tower from the window upstairs?”
“That’s because it’s not there any more. Melted down for pig iron in the early fifties. Symbolic gesture; there’s a much bigger tower now, communications, right – all concrete – smack dead in the middle of the ile de cite.”
“Where Notre Dame used to be.” There was the tumble of books as a colonnade of leather-bound reprints collapsed, and then an exclamation from Anna. “Aha!” she said, triumphant, holding up a thick volume with a photographic dust-jacket. The man on it looked ancient, blanched white like long-burnt coal, but he was smiling; smiling even as he hunched over his beaten typewriter, cigarette in one hand, tea mug in the other.
“Orwell, when he was eighty,” Anna explained, and turned the book around so she could scrutinise it. ‘Y’know, he became a bit of a caricature in the end. Carrying on like he did. I don’t think anyone hated him for it, but he never became that saint you so revere.” She handed the book over to James. “I’m not sure if that’s actually a bad thing.”
“It’s an anthology?” he asked, after studying the title page.
“Yep. Nineteen-eighty-four and a couple of others – they weren’t ever really that incendiary. Animal farm’s the only one blacklisted by the reds, and it’s seen as something aberrant by pretty much every commentator in this branch. Nineteen-eighty-Four’s upbeat, for fucksakes – a tale of one man’s successful struggle against a totalitarian process. No Ingsoc, no great book-within-a-book by Goldstein – just a simple, sweet narrative about some English chap thrown against a totalitarian machine. Very parochial. The later ones are even stranger. In the ‘Road to Mandalay’ an old imperial officer returns to Burma to grapple with his colonial roots in a post-colonial world.”
“You sound like a review,” he sniped.
“It is. I wrote it a while back…”
“But we’ve just gotten here; how could you…”
“Time, James, there’s always more time. I’ve been here before – We’ve had ops in and out of here, and the sidelines, for months; it’s an interesting branch, really interesting. I’d never have guessed that we’d be the offshoot cause, but if it wasn’t us, it’d be someone or something else. Everything has to exist, and the forces that make it have an awful tendency to come about no matter what it is that you want to do.”
“Back there,” he ventured, passing the book back. “Back in London, you told him that the truth would mess up the process. The outcome. He didn’t know, did he, but I do… So, why me? Why’d you tell me?”
“Well, my dear, dear Doctor James Daniel O’Connell, while I respect Orwell, and want at least one of his multiples to be happy and content, I couldn’t care a toss about you. I don’t care if causality is messed up, or if your life breaks out on some awful tangent. You’re a petty, pedantic man, James, and you probably deserve it. Besides,” and she reached out patted him on the head, “in a thousand other universes, this never happened.”
“But… It has happened. It’s happened to me. Where do I go from here?”
“In a thousand other universes, you spend a decade mincing through historical archives, eventually publishing a whitewash treatment of Orwell that suggests his best work was still to come.”
“You’re wrong. The man who wrote nineteen-eighty-four was the man who died writing it. So many could have beens – the bullet in Spain, the cystic tuberculosis – but the best outcome, for everyone bar him, was the one that condemned him at the end of the manuscript. Nineteen eighty four’s horrific and moving because the author is dying, ever so slowly, and you can feel the madness growing, that race against time, and the inevitable defeat.
My world doesn’t have this – no high art since the reformation and the outlawing of the papists, nothing but science, marching on. My world has such a shit creative output because we’re so comfortable. No war. No famine. Nothing. We only discovered this whole universe of pain-made-art a decade ago, and it’s been amazing. An eye opener. That’s why we jump to your tunes, that’s why we study you and your progeny and that’s why I disagree with you. There’s a gift in pain – not in the event but after it, in coming to terms with it… All of your worlds have this, to some degree. We don’t…”
“But why bring me back; why that conversation? Why the antibiotics?”
“Isn’t there something ironic in a critic dismissing and disproving his own theory? Anyway, it will all look brilliant once I write it up; What a story… And then I’ll get more run time, and I’ll do bigger projects; Orwell meets Twain… No! Orwell meets Dickens!” She sighed, content. “This is the life, Dr James. Your studies have nothing on this…”
She rummaged for her wallet. “If you want,” she said, softening, “I’ll buy you the book, and then take you home…”
“No!” he cried, and the urgency in his voice shocked him. “No,” he said, quieter, as the storekeeper looked on, interest aroused. “You’ve got the whole universe… time itself… as your plaything…”
“Trust you to see it from an egoist’s point of view,” Anna muttered.
“It’s amazing, amazing what you can do. I’m not a doctor yet, and I know I can change. Take me with you…”
She looked dubious.
“Please?” He was imploring…
“Well,” she admitted, sizing him up, “we could probably find a place for you…”
The steppes sped past in a blur. James felt himself slipping from the saddle rug.
“Mr Genghis Khan!” He called out, over the tumult of pounding hooves. “A few words, please?”