Hammersmith’s Apartment

Figured it might be fun to post another extract for you.

This is the moment, early in the novel, where the perpetually suicidal George Bailey (No, not that George Bailey – just Coincidence having a laugh)  has to see his Guardian Demon’s home for the first time in the 83 years of their shared destiny. See what you think.

 

The Tate Modern at night

The Tate Modern. Right at the top. And generally invisible. You are here.

Hammersmith didn’t exactly live anywhere. Or rather, the penthouse apartment in which he lived wasn’t really ‘there,’ in any sense of which a respectable non-quantum physicist would approve. It was invisible to the uninvited eye, though not exactly intangible. Anyone who happened to be strolling around the roof of the Tate Modern’s tower on a moonlit night and who wandered through the space where Hammersmith’s apartment appeared not to be, would feel a deeper, growling chill, and be instantly seized by the idea that they wanted to get the hell away from there, really really fast. That was because the apartment was built out of supercooled negative energy, which had a tendency to give off its own low-level fuck-off vibe.

They approached the apartment now, and Bailey felt the queasiness crawl up and over him like a big slow hairy spider. ‘I don’t like it here,’ he said.

‘Diddums,’ said Hammersmith. ‘’S’not like I want you here, George. If I could trust you not to practice your cordless bungee routine every time my back’s turned, I’d leave you out here. But as it stands, you’re with me. We’re not staying long in any case. Just need to pick up some supplies.’

‘Supplies?’ said Bailey.

‘Of course supplies. Don’t expect me to go up against an Original empty-handed, do you? Whaddaya take me for?’

Bailey thought of answering him. Then he thought about not answering him. That was better. He shuddered. ‘The supplies are for the plan, are they?’

‘Changed my mind. Plans are bad. You ask anyone. Any time some daft bugger’s ridden into death or glory, or decided to try and take Moscow in wintertime, you can bet your bottom they had a plan.’

‘Dollar,’ said Bailey absently, still feeling the creeping spidercrawl of the energy.

‘Hmm?’

‘Bet your bottom dollar. That’s the expression.’

‘You’ve never played poker in Hell, have you?’ Hammersmith smirked.

Bailey shuddered. ‘Why the Tate?’

‘You don’t want to get me started on that one.’

Bailey nodded, waited a second. ‘Why the Tate?’ he asked again, like a two-year-old.

Hammersmith sighed. ‘Look across the river,’ he said, as if that explained everything.

Bailey did. The impressive dome of St Paul’s Cathedral stuck up into the night sky.

‘St Paul’s?’

‘Exactly. Wren’s folly!’ Hammersmith spat. ‘Brilliant man, Christopher Wren. Brilliant man in an age of extremely brilliant men – and women too, actually. A polymath, did all sorts of things. Scientific things, amazing things. Involved in setting up the Royal Society, you know?’

‘And so you want to live opposite his greatest achievement?’

‘Greatest achievement be damned!’ Hammersmith spat again. ‘That thing,’ he snarled, pulling Bailey suddenly by the arm and pointing, ‘represents the shackling of scientific and architectural genius in the service of the Church. Everybody’s always “Oooh, isn’t it pretty? Isn’t it clever?” Hideous bloody thing. I despise everything it stands for.’

‘And so you live opposite it?’

Hammersmith shrugged, took a deep breath. ‘The Tate’s an interesting shape,’ he explained. ‘I was involved in the construction of this building. I mean, don’t get me wrong, there were perfectly good solid reasons why it needed a big tower in the middle of it. But I was determined to get them to build it, whether it was necessary or not.’

‘You’re… Wait a minute, you’re giving the finger to St Paul’s Cathedral?’

Hammersmith grinned. ‘Won me some brownie points Downstairs, this tower.’ He strode back to the area of conspicuously blank space and snapped his fingers at the patch of thin air in front of them. A ripple seemed to run across a surface that was defined by not being there.

‘Show yourself, it’s me,’ he said, and another ripple went through the shape. Now though, instead of going over the invisible surface and dissipating, the wave seemed to stick wherever it touched, adding shape and substance and colour to the building. Within seconds, Hammersmith’s apartment was visible in front of them. It was large and flat-sided, like a shoebox, and equally as unprepossessing from the outside. It had a note pinned to its simple white front door. Bailey leaned in to read it.

‘Go ahead. Burgle me. I dare ya.’ Bailey rolled his eyes, and Hammersmith grinned at him again, pushed open the door.

 

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