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The Last Watch (Watch 4) - Page 2

'How COME I could do it?' Geser asked. 'And why couldn't you?'

We were standing in the middle of a boundless grey plain. My eyes could not make out any bright colours at all in the overall picture, but I only had to look closely at an individual grain of sand and it would flare up in tones of gold, purple, azure and green. The sky over our heads was a frozen swirl of white and pink, as if a river of milk had mingled with its fruit-jelly banks and then been splashed out across the heavens.

There was a wind blowing too, and it was cold. I always feel cold down on the fourth level of the Twilight, but that's an indi vidual reaction. Geser, on the other hand, was feeling hot: his face had turned red and there were beads of sweat trickling down his forehead.

'I haven't got enough Power,' I said.

Geser's face turned deep crimson.

'Wrong answer! You are a Higher Magician. It happened by accident, but you are still a Higher One. Why are Higher Magicians also known as magicians beyond classification?'

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'Because the differences between their levels of Power are so insignificant that they cannot be calculated, and it is impossible to determine who is stronger and who is weaker... ' I muttered, Boris Ignatievich, I understand that. But I haven't got enough Power. I can't get to the fifth level.'

Geser looked down at his feet. He hooked up some sand with The toe of his shoe and tossed it into the air. Then he took a step forward - and disappeared.

What was that, a piece of advice?

I tossed some sand up in front of myself. Took a step forward and tried in vain to raise my shadow.

There was no shadow.

Nothing changed.

I was still where I had been, on the fourth level. And it was getting even colder - the steam of my breath no longer drifted away in a little white cloud, it fell on the sand in a sprinkling of sharp frosty needles. I turned round ?in psychological terms I always found it easier to look for the way out behind myself ?and took a step forward, emerging onto the third level of the Twilight. A colourless maze of stone slabs corroded by time, lying beneath a low, motionless grey sky. In places the desiccated stems of plants trailed across the stone, looking like oversized bindweed killed by the frost.

Another step. The second level of the Twilight. The stony labyrinth was covered with a carpet of interwoven branches...

And another one. The first level. Not stone any longer. Walls with windows. The familiar walls of the Moscow office of the Night Watch ?in its Twilight version.

With a final effort, I tumbled out of the Twilight into the real world. Straight into Geser's office.

Naturally, the boss was already sitting in his chair. I stood there, swaying, in front of him.

How on earth had he managed to overtake me? After all, he had gone on to the fifth level, and then I had started making my way out of the Twilight!

'When I saw you were getting nowhere,' Geser said, without even looking at me, 'I came straight out of the Twilight.'

'From the fifth level into the real world?' I asked, unable to conceal my amazement.

'Yes. What do you find so surprising?'

I shrugged. There was nothing really surprising about it. If Geser wanted to present me with a surprise he always had a huge range to choose from. There's an awful lot that I don't know. And this...

'Its annoying,' said Geser. 'Sit down, Gorodetsky'

I sat down facing Geser, folded my hands on my knees and even lowered my head, as if I felt guilty about something.

'Anton, a good magician always finds his powers when he needs them,' said the boss. 'Until you become wiser, you won't become more powerful. Until you become more powerful, you won't master higher magic. Until you master higher magic, you won't go into places that are dangerous. Your situation is unique. You were affected by' - he frowned - 'the spell of the Fuaran. You became a Higher Magician when you weren't ready for it. Yes, you do have the Power. Yes, you do know how to control it... and what you used to find hard to do is no problem at all to you now. How long were you down on the fourth level of the Twilight? And now you're sitting there as if it was nothing special. But the things that you couldn't do before...'

Geser stopped.

'I'll learn, Boris Ignatievich,' I said. 'After all, everyone says I'm making good progress. Olga, Svetlana

'You are,' Geser admitted willingly. 'You're not a total idiot, you're bound to develop. But right now you remind me of an inexperienced driver, someone who has driven a Lada around for six months and then suddenly finds himself at the wheel of a Ferrari racing car! No, worse than that, a dump truck in a quarry. A huge BELAZ truck weighing two hundred tonnes, creeping up round a spiral road on its way out of the quarry... with a hundred-metre drop at one side! And there are other dump trucks driving down below it. If you make one false move, turn the wheel too sharply, or let your foot slip on the pedal ?then everyone's in trouble.'

'I understand,' I said, with a nod. 'But I never asked to be a Higher Magician, Boris Ignatievich. It was you who sent me after Kostya...'

'I have nothing to reproach you with and there are a lot of things I'm trying to teach you,' said Geser. And then he added, rather off the point: 'Although you did once reject me as your teacher!'

I said nothing.

'I don't even know what to do...' Geser drummed his fingers on the file lying in front of him. 'Send you out on routine assign ments? "A schoolgirl has seen a hobo werewolf," "A vampire has shown up in Butovo," "A witch is casting real spells," "There's a mysterious tapping sound in my basement"? Pointless. With your Power, nonsense like that is no problem for you. You'll never have to learn anything new. Leave you to rot behind a desk? That's not what you want, anyway. Or what then?'

'You know what to do, Boris Ignatievich,' I answered. 'Give me a genuine assignment. Something that will force me to develop and mature.'

Geser's eyes glittered ironically.

'Sure, coming right up. I'll organise a raid on the special vault of the Inquisition. Or I'll send you to storm the Day Watch office...'

He pushed the file across the desk:

'Read that.'

Geser himself opened an identical file and immersed himself in the study of several pages from a school exercise book, covered in writing.

Why did we have these old cardboard files with tatty lace bind ings in our office anyway? Did we buy several tonnes of them last century, or had we picked them up a little while ago from some charitable organisation providing work to housebound invalids? Or were they produced in some ancient factory that belonged to the Night Watch in the provincial city of Flyshit?

But anyway, it was a fact that in the age of computers, photo copiers, transparent plastic folders and elegant, robust files with convenient clips and pins, our Watch still used flaky cardboard and string... What a disgrace ?we should be ashamed to look our foreign colleagues in the eye!

'It's easier to apply protective spells that prevent long-distance sensing to files made of organic materials,' Geser said. 'It's the same reason why we only use books for studying magic. When a text is typed into a computer, it doesn't retain any of the magic'

I looked into Geser's eyes.

'I never even thought about reading your mind,' the boss said. 'Until you learn to control your face, I don't have to.'

Now I could feel the magic that permeated the file. A light defensive spell that caused no problems for Light Ones. Dark Ones could have removed it with no difficulty too, but it would have created a real din while they were at it.

When I opened the file ?the Great Geser had tied the laces in a neat bow ?I discovered four fresh newspaper clippings that still smelled of printer's ink, a fax and three photographs. The three clippings were in English, and to start with I focused on them.

The first clipping was a brief article about an incident in a tourist attraction that was called the Dungeons of Scotland. This establishment seemed to be a fairly banal version of the standard 'room of horror'. But a Russian tourist had been killed there,'as ,a result of technical faults'. The dungeons had been closed and the police were investigating to establish whether the personnel were responsible for the tragedy.

The second article was much more detailed. It didn't mention any 'technical faults' at all. The text was rather dry, even pedantic. I grew more and more excited as I read that the man who had died, twenty-year-old Victor Prokhorov, had been studying at Edinburgh University and was the son of 'a Russian politician'. He had gone to the 'dungeons' with his girlfriend, Valeria Khomko, who had flown from Russia to see him, and he had died in her arms from loss of blood. In the darkness of the tourist attraction someone had cut his throat. Or something had cut it. The poor guy and his girlfriend had been sitting in a boat that was sailing slowly across the River of Blood, a shallow ditch around the Castle of the Vampires. Perhaps some sharp piece of metal protruding from the wall had caught Victor across the throat?

When I got to this point, I sighed and looked at Geser.

'You've always been good with ... er ... vampires,' the boss said, looking up from his papers for a second.

The third article was from the yellow press, one of Scotland's cheap tabloids. And of course, in this case the reporter told a terrible story of modern-day vampires who suck the blood of their victims in the dismal darkness of tourist attractions. The only original detail was the journalist's claim that vampires did not usually suck their victims dry and kill them. But, like a true Russian, the student had been so drunk that the poor Scottish vampire had got tipsy too and then got carried away.

Even though the story was so tragic, I laughed.

'The yellow press is the same everywhere the whole world over,' Geser said without looking up.

'The worst thing is that that's exactly the way it was,' I said. 'Apart from him being drunk, of course.'

'A pint of beer with lunch,' Geser agreed.

The fourth clipping was from one of our Russian newspapers. An obituary. Condolences to Leonid Prokhorov, Deputy of the State Duma, whose son has been killed tragically...

I picked up the fax.

As I expected, it was a report from the Night Watch of the city of Edinburgh, Scotland, Great Britain.

The only slightly unusual thing about it was that it was addressed to Geser in person, and not to the duty operations officer or head of the international department. And the tone of the letter was just a little more personal than was normal for official documents.

The contents were no surprise to me, though.

'We regret to inform you... the results of a thorough investi gation... total loss of blood ... no signs of initiation were found... searches have discovered nothing... our best men have been put on the case ... if the Moscow department considers it necessary to send... give my best wishes to Olga, I'm very pleased for you, you old co?

The second page of the fax was missing. Obviously the text on it was personal. And so I didn't see the signature.

'Foma Lermont,' said Geser. 'Head of the Scottish Watch. An old friend.'

'Aha...' I drawled thoughtfully. 'And so...'

Our glances met again.

'Oh no, you can ask for yourself if he's related to the Russian poet Lermontov,' said Geser.

'I was thinking of something else. "Co" ?is that commander?'

'"Co" is... ' Geser hesitated and glanced at the page with obvious annoyance. '"Co" is just "co". That's none of your business.'

I looked at the photographs. A young man, that was the unfor tunate victim Victor. A girl, very young. His girlfriend, no need to guess there. And an older man. Victor's father?

'The circumstantial evidence suggests a vampire attack. But why does the situation require intervention by us?' I asked. 'Russians are often killed abroad. Sometimes by vampires. Don't you trust Foma and his men?'

'I trust them. But they don't have much experience. Scotland is a peaceful, calm, cosy country. They might not be up to the job. And you've had a lot of dealings with vampires.'

'Of course. But even so? Is the reason that his father's a politician?'

Geser frowned.

'Twenty years ago the young man's father was identified as a potential Light Other. A rather powerful one. He declined initia tion, and said he wanted to remain a human being. He sent the Dark Ones packing straight away. But he maintained a certain level of contact with us. Helped us sometimes.'

I nodded. Yes, it was a rare case. It's not often that people reject all the opportunities that Others have.

'You might say that I feel guilty about Prokhorov senior,' Geser said. 'And though I can't help his son any more ... I won't let the killer go unpunished. You're going to go to Edinburgh, find this crazy bloodsucker and reduce him to dust in the wind.'

That was a direct order. But I hadn't been about to argue in any case.

'When do I fly?' I asked

'Call in at the international section. They should have prepared your documents, tickets and money. And a cover story'

'A cover story? Who for ?me?'

'Yes, you'll be working unofficially'

'Contacts?'

For some reason Geser frowned again and gave me a strangely suspicious glance.

'Only Foma... Anton, stop mocking me!'

I gave Geser a perplexed look.

'"Co" is the beginning of the word "cocksman",' Geser blurted out. 'We were young then, you know... the free and easy morals of the Renaissance... All right, off you go! And try to catch the next flight out.' He paused for an instant, and then added: 'If Svetlana doesn't object. And if she does, say that I'll try to persuade her.'

'She will object,' I said confidently.

What was it that had upset Geser like that? And why had he explained to me about that word 'cocksman'?

Svetlana set a plate down in front of me, full of fried potatoes and mushrooms. Then a knife and fork appeared on the table, followed by a salt cellar, a saucer of pickled cucumbers, a little glass and a small carafe with just a hundred grams of vodka. The carafe was straight out of the fridge and it immediately misted up in the warm air.

Bliss!

Every man's dream when he comes home from work. His wife fusses over the stove and puts delicious things that are bad for you on the table. Was there something she wanted to ask me? My daughter was playing quietly with her building set ?at the age of five she had already lost interest in dolls. She didn't build little cars and aeroplanes, though. She built houses ?maybe she was going to be an architect?

'Sveta, they're sending me to Edinburgh,' I repeated, just to be the safe side.

'Yes, I heard you,' Svetlana replied calmly.

The little carafe on the table lifted into the air. The round glass stopper twisted out of its neck. The cold vodka flowed into the glass in a thick translucent stream.

'I have to get a plane today,' I said. 'There's no flight to Edinburgh, so I'll fly to London and transfer there...'

'Then don't drink a lot,' Svetlana said anxiously.

The carafe swerved and moved away towards the fridge.

'I thought you'd be upset,' I said, disappointed.

'What's the point?' Svetlana asked, serving herself a full plate as well. 'Would you not go?'

'No, I would.'

'There, you see, Geser would only start calling and explaining how important your trip is.' Svetlana frowned.

'It really is important.'

'I know,' Svetlana said, nodding. 'This morning I sensed that they were going to send you somewhere far away again. I phoned Olga and asked what had happened in the last few days. Well... she told me about that young guy in Scotland.'

I nodded in relief. Svetlana knew all about it, that was great. No need for lies or half-truths.


'It's a strange business,' she said.

I shrugged and drank the forty grams of vodka that I had been allocated. I crunched happily on a pickled cucumber and then asked, with my mouth full:

'What's so strange about it? Either a wild vampire, or one who went loco because he hadn't fed for too long... that's pretty normal stuff for them. This one seems to have a distinctive sense of humour, though. Fancy killing someone in a tourist attraction called the Castle of the Vampires!'

'Quiet.' Svetlana frowned and indicated Nadya with her eyes.

I started chewing energetically. I love fried potatoes ?with a crispy crust, and they have to be fried in goose fat ?with crack ling, and a handful of white mushrooms, fresh ones if they're in season, or dried ones if they're not. Everything's all right, mummy and daddy are talking about all sorts of nonsense, about movies and books, vampires don't really exist...

Unfortunately, there's no way our daughter can be fooled. She can see them all quite clearly. It had been a struggle to teach her not to mention it in a loud voice in the metro or on the trolley bus. 'Mummy, Daddy, look, that man there's a vampire!' Never mind the other passengers, they would just put it all down to childish foolishness, but I felt awkward for the vampires somehow. Some of them have never attacked people: they drink their donor blood honestly and lead perfectly decent lives. And then in the middle of a crowd a five-year-old kid jabs her finger at you and laughs: 'That man's not alive, but he's walking around! 'There was nothing we could do ?she could hear what we were talking about and she drew her own conclusions.

But this time Nadya took no interest in our conversation. She was putting a red tile roof on a little house of yellow plastic bricks.

'I don't think it's a question of anybody's sense of humour,' Svetlana said. 'Geser wouldn't send you right across Europe for that .The Watch in Scotland isn't full of fools, they'll find the blood sucker sooner or later.'

'Then what is it? I've found out everything about the victim. A decent guy, but no saint. Obviously not an Other. The Dark Ones have no need to kill him deliberately. The boy's father once refused to become an Other, but he cooperated unofficially with the Night Watch. A rare case, but not unique. The Dark Ones have no reason for revenge.'

Svetlana sighed. She glanced at the fridge ?and the carafe came flying back to us.

I suddenly realised that she was worried about something.

'Sveta, have you looked into the future?'

'Yes.'

It's not possible to see the future in the way that charlatans and fortune-tellers talk about it. Not even if you're a Great Other. But it is possible to calculate the probability of one event or another: will you get stuck in a traffic jam on this road or not, will your plane explode in mid-air, will you survive or be killed in the next battle? ... To put it simply, the more precise the question is, the more precise the answer will be. You can't just ask: 'What's in store for me tomorrow?'

'Well?'

'There's no threat to your life in this investigation.'

" That's great,' I said sincerely. I took the carafe and poured another glass for each of us. 'Thanks. You've reassured me.'

We drank ?and then looked at each other grimly.

Then we looked at Nadya ?our daughter was sitting on the floor fiddling with her building set. Sensing our gazes on her, she started trilling: 'La la-la la la-la.'

It was the kind of song grown-ups often use to represent little girls in jokes. Horrid little girls, who are just about to blow some thing up, break something or say something really nasty.

'Nadezhda!' Svetlana said in an icy voice.

'La-la-la...' Nadya said in a slightly louder voice. 'What have I done now? You said Daddy shouldn't drink before he flies away. Drinking vodka's bad for you, you said so! Masha's daddy drank, he drank and he left home...'

There was a subtle weepy note in her voice.

'Nadezhda Antonovna!' Svetlana said in a genuinely stern tone. 'Grown-up people have the right... sometimes ... to drink a glass of vodka. Have you ever seen Daddy drunk?'

'At Uncle Tolya's birthday,' Nadya replied instantly.

Svetlana gave me a very expressive look. I shrugged guiltily.

'Even so,' said Svetlana, 'you have no right to use magic on Mummy and Daddy. I've never done that!'

'And Daddy?'

'Neither has Daddy. And turn round immediately. Am I talking to your back?'

Nadya turned round and pressed her lips together stubbornly. She thought for a moment and then pressed one finger against her forehead. I could hardly hold back a smile. Little children love to copy gestures like that. And it doesn't bother them at all that it's only characters in cartoons who put their fingers to their fore heads when they're thinking and real live people don't do it.

'Okay,' said Nadya. 'I'm sorry, Mummy and Daddy. I won't do it again. I'll fix everything!'

' Don't fix anything!' Svetlana exclaimed.

But it was too late. The water that had been in our glasses instead of vodka suddenly turned back into vodka. Or maybe even pure alcohol.

Right there in our stomachs.

I felt as if a little bomb had gone off in my belly. I groaned and started picking up the almost cold potatoes on my fork.

'Anton, at least say something,' exclaimed Svetlana.

'Nadya, if you were a boy you'd get my belt across your bottom!' I said.

'Lucky for me I'm not a boy' Nadya replied, not in the slightest bit frightened. 'What's wrong, Daddy? You wanted to drink some vodka. And now you have. It's already inside you. You said vodka doesn't taste nice, so why drink it with your mouth?'

Svetlana and I looked at each other.

'There's no answer to that,' Svetlana summed up. 'I'll go and pack your suitcase. Shall I call a taxi?

'No need. Semyon will take me.'

Even that late in the evening the ring road was packed, but Semyon didn't even seem to notice it. And I didn't even know if he had checked the probability lines or was simply driving with the instincts of a driver who has a hundred years' experience.

'You're getting snobbish, Anton,' he muttered, without taking his eyes off the road. 'You might at least have told Geser: I won't go anywhere on my own, I need a partner, send Semyon with me...'

'How was I supposed to know that you like Scotland so much?'

'How? Didn't I tell you how we fought the Scottish at the battle of Sebastopol?'

'Not the Germans?' I suggested uncertainly.

'No, the Germans came later,' Semyon said dismissively 'Ah, (here were real men in those days... bullets whistling overhead, shells flying through the air, hand-to-hand fighting by the Sixth Bastion... and there we are, flinging magic at each other like fools. Two Light Others, only he'd come with the English army... He got me in the shoulder with the Spear of Suffering... But I got him with the Freeze - frosted him all the way up from his heels to his neck!'

He grunted happily.

'And who won?' I asked.

'Don't you know any history?' Semyon asked indignantly. 'We did, of course. And I took Kevin prisoner. I went to see him later. It was already the twentieth century then... nineteen oh seven... or was it eight?'

He swung the steering wheel sharply as he overtook a Jaguar sports car and shouted through the open window:

'Use your brakes, you stupid ass! And he wants to swear at me!'

'He's embarrassed in front of his girlfriend,' I explained, glancing at the Jaguar as it disappeared behind us. 'Letting some old Volga cut him up like that.'

'A car's not the right place for showing off to a girl - the bed's the place for that. The consequences of a mistake there are more upsetting, but less tragic... Ah, I tell you what, if things get tight, call Geser and ask him to send me to help. We'll call in to see Kevin, drink some whisky. From his own distillery, by the way!'

'All right,' I promised. 'The moment the pressure comes on, I'll ask for you to come.'

After the ring road the traffic was calmer. Semyon stepped on the gas (I'll never believe that he has the standard ZMZ-406 engine under the hood of his hurtling Volga) and fifteen minutes later we were approaching Domodedovo airport.

'Ah, what a wonderful dream I had last night!' Semyon exclaimed as he drove into the parking lot. 'I'm driving round Moscow in this battered old van, with one of our people sitting beside me... Then suddenly I see Zabulon standing in the middle of the road, dressed like a hobo for some reason. I step on the gas and try to knock him down! But he just waves his hand and puts up a barrier. We go flying up into the air, and somersault right over Zabulon. And we drive on.'

'So why didn't you turn back?' I needled him.

'We were in a hurry to get somewhere.' Semyon sighed.

'You should drink less, then you wouldn't be bothered by dreams like that.'

'They don't bother me at all,' said Semyon, offended. 'On the contrary, I enjoyed it. Like a scene out of some parallel reality... Oh, hell!'

He braked sharply.

'More like its lord and master...' I said, looking at the head of the Day Watch. Zabulon was standing in the parking bay that Semyon was just about to drive into. He gestured for us to come closer. I said, 'Maybe that dream was a hint? Will you have a go?'

But Semyon was not inclined to try any experiments. He drove forward very smoothly. Zabulon stepped aside and waited until we'd halted between a dirty Zhiguli and an old Nissan. Then he opened a door and got into the back seat.

It was no surprise that the door's locking device didn't work.

'Evening, watchmen,' said the Higher Dark Magician.

Semyon and I exchanged glances. Then we looked at the back seat again.

'Almost night,' I said. Semyon might have a thousand times more experience than me, but as the one with the greater Power I would have to do the talking.

'Yes, night,' Zabulon agreed. 'Your time. Off to Edinburgh?'

To London.'

'And then to Edinburgh, to investigate the case of Victor Prokhorov.'

There was no point in lying. Lying never helps anyway.

'Yes, of course,' I said. 'Do you object, Dark One?'

'I'm all in favour,' Zabulon replied. 'I'm almost always in favour, strangely enough.'

He was wearing a suit and a tie, only the tie knot was lowered slightly and the top button of his shirt was unfastened. He looked just like a man who was in business, or who worked for the state. But the mistakes in that assumption started with the word 'man'.

Then what do you want?' I asked.

'I want to wish you a pleasant journey,' Zabulon replied coolly. 'And success in investigating the murder.'

'Why are you so interested?' I asked after an awkward pause.

'Leonid Prokhorov, the father of the deceased, was identified as an Other twenty years ago. A powerful Dark Other. Unfortunately,' Zabulon said with a sigh, 'he did not wish to undergo initiation. He remained a human being. But he maintained good relations with us and sometimes helped us in small matters. It's just not acceptable when your friends son is killed by some petty bloodsucker in a raving fit. Find him, Anton, and roast him on a slow fire.'

Semyon had not been present at my conversation with Geser. But, to judge from the puzzled way he was scratching his clean shaven chin, he knew something about Leonid Prokhorov.

'I intend to do that anyway,' I said cautiously. 'You have nothing to worry about there, Great Dark One.'

'But what if you need some help?' Zabulon asked, as if it were the most natural thing in the world. 'You never know who you might run up against. Take this...'

An amulet appeared in Zabulon's hand. It was a figure carved in bone, a snarling wolf. The little figure had a distinct aura of Power.

'This is contact, help, advice. All together.' Zabulon leaned over the back of the seat and breathed hotly into my ear: 'Take it... watchman. You'll say thank you to me.'

'I won't say that.'

'Take it anyway'

I shook my head.

Zabulon sighed.

'Very well, let us have the foolish theatrical effects ... I, Zabulon, do swear by the Dark that in presenting my amulet to Light Magician Anton Gorodetsky I do not entertain any evil intent and do not intend to harm his health, soul or mind, nor do I demand anything in exchange. If Anton Gorodetsky accepts my help, this does not impose any obligations on him, the Power of Light or the Night Watch. In gratitude for his accepting this help, I grant permission for the Night Watch of Moscow to make three interventions using Light Magic up to the third level of Power inclusive. I do not demand and shall not demand any gratitude in response. May the Dark be my witness!'

A small dark sphere like a miniature black hole appeared, spin ning on his palm beside the carved figure. A direct confirmation of his oath by the Primordial Power.

'Even so, I don't think I would? Semyon began.

At that moment the cellphone in my pocket rang and switched Itself into loudspeaker mode. I never used its multitude of various functions: speaker phone, organiser, games, built-in camera, calculator, radio. I only used the built-in music player. But this time the conference-call function came in handy...

'Take it,' said Geser. 'He's not lying about this. We'll work out what he is lying about later.'

The connection broke off.

Zabulon laughed and carried on holding out the carved figure. I raked it off the Dark Magician's hand without saying a word and put it in my pocket. I didn't have to swear any oaths.

'Well then, good luck,' Zabulon continued. 'Ah, yes! If it's not too much trouble, bring me a little magnet from Edinburgh for the refrigerator.'

'What for?' I asked.

'I collect them,' Zabulon said, with a smile.

And then he disappeared, dropped straight down to some deep level of the Twilight. Of course, we didn't follow him.

'What a show-off,' I said.

'For the refrigerator,' Semyon muttered. 'Yes, I can just imagine what he keeps in his refrigerator ... A little magnet... Bring him a little jar of strychnine. Mix it into some of that Scottish haggis and bring that back for him.'

"Haggis" is a brand of nappies,' I said. 'They're good, we used them for our daughter.'

'Haggis is a kind of food too,' said Semyon, shaking his head. 'Although, as far as taste goes, there's probably not much difference.'

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