In Still Point, my multi-dimensional gumshoe finds himself trapped in an unsolvable labyrinth, playing Scheherazade to a behemoth. As the story unfolds, he realises it’ll take more than hardboiled storytelling to save the Still Point of the Turning World from destruction at the hands of a Fool.
Still Point is the fourth of The String City Mysteries, a series of fantasy noir detective novelettes that form a prelude to my interdimensional thriller novel String City. As well as the behemoth, we’re also introduced to some zombie cops and an angel on work-release, plus my favourite character from the series: Jimmy the Griff.
I also found references to my novels creeping in too. Fans of Stone and Sun will know a little about the Fools, and the Turning World motif is, of course, central to Dragoncharm and its sequels. But most of all I enjoyed the dialogue between the gumshoe and the behemoth – an unlikely double act that just seemed to work from the word go. That, and imagining what it might be like to kiss an angel …
- “[Rivals] the worlds of Lewis Carroll or Douglas Adams on the strangeness index … you’re in for a treat” – The Fix
- “Over-the-toppitude in the New Weird mode” – Internet Review of Science Fiction
Still Point by Graham Edwards was first published in the December 2007 edition of Realms of Fantasy. Illustration by Tony Shasteen. Still Point received an Honourable Mention in The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror 2008.
Extract from Still Point
The door opened, revealing a thin, hooded man, pale and erect. He was quite dry – the rain just didn’t want to touch him. Behind him the clouds were black and low. From inside the clouds came the boom of a circling thunderbird.
‘Good afternoon,’ said the man. I couldn’t see a face beneath the hood, mostly because he didn’t have one. ‘Do you know what day it is?’
I shrugged. I did know, of course, like I knew exactly who he was. I just didn’t want to give him the pleasure.
The man drew a rolled parchment from the folds of his cloak. His arm moved in little jerks, like a heron’s neck. The rain slithered past him. His fingers were like razor-edged chopsticks.
‘It is my duty to inform you,’ said the hooded man, ‘that the lease on this property is due for immediate renewal. If you fail to submit the necessary down payment by midnight tonight, I shall be forced to terminate your contract. If you elect to remain on these premises after the last stroke of twelve, you will be forcibly evicted. Have a nice day.’
Just as he finished speaking, his cloak fell open. I tried to look away, but couldn’t.
Inside the hooded man’s cloak was a cavernous space filled with wooden scaffolding. His internal organs hung pulsating from a Chinese puzzle of struts connected by dangling strings and straws. Black termites bustled over the scaffolding from heart to lungs to liver, carrying tiny buckets of blood. When they saw me watching them, the termites stopped and crowded to the front of the hooded man’s timber ribcage. Their eyes were huge and red and curious. I stared at the empty space inside the man’s hood. I could feel his gaze like a wind, stiff and cold.
Landlords. They’re all the same.
At last I managed to look away. I found myself staring at the mountain of papers on my desk. At all the bills, written in red. At the invoice ledger, empty.
‘Terminate away,’ I said. ‘I’m finished.’
The whole street shook as a thunderbird landed in the road and ripped up the delicatessen three doors down. I ducked as slates and salami rained from the sky. The landlord remained motionless.
The thunderbird flew back into the clouds, trailing bricks and bratwurst. I watched it disappear. When I looked back, the landlord was holding out a quill pen.
‘Could I have that in writing?’ he said.