Friday, January 28, 2005


Tried all day to call 086, trying not to make it obvious that I was almost screaming with tension. Mostly the phone just range, but several times there was a curt message to call back later. Finally, just before I went home, I got the voice of an entity irritably demanding to know who it was. I told them.
"Ah... it's you. Come and see me on Tuesday at 1000. Must rush."
I put the phone down, trembling.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

A Summons

I'd more or less given up, actually. I'd decided that 086 had found somebody else for the job and that no-one had remembered to tell me. Came to the office this morning feeling unusually bilious - raining, delays on the underground, escalator out of service, thinking I have got to get out of this city somehow. Even Freetown when the sun shines and the waves crash on the beach didn't seem so bad suddenly.
It was there when I arrived: a parcel advertising itself as a prospectus from a Lyran-owned finance company. As I opened it, a holo image of 086 popped up holding a placard with a telephone number on it. "Call me when you have a moment" it said in a tinny voice, before smirking and slowly fading away. Frantically scribbling the number down, I thought, OK, this is it.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Still Nothing

Still Nothing

Friday, January 21, 2005



Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Meeting 086

With somewhere around a hundred billion Lyrans to choose from, it's hard to be a legend in your own lifetime, especially if your lifetime is about a thousand earth years, as ours is. But 086 has managed that: he was pretty well known even before we landed here, and, since we've been here, he's pretty much taken over what Lyrans call the Dark Side - the hidden manipulation of things. It's not true, in spite of what you hear, that Darth Vader is actually a portrait of 086, but , well, who do you think got George Lucas that job? If you look at it closely, Star wars is absolutely stuffed with Lyran references. On the other hand, he's not the easiest guy in the world to see. I sent a message asking for an appointment. Who knows how long it will take?

Tuesday, January 11, 2005


I thought about it a bit. The main thing was the GM project. There's nothing worse in a bureaucracy than working hard on a project that nobody thinks is important, and, after ten years I'd had enough. GM is important, but everybody has forgotten that. When they remember it again there'll be Tiger Teams galore and lots of rushing around and shouting. I've done my bit. It's time for something more interesting. Anything with 086 around is going to be interesting.

Friday, January 07, 2005


When 148 asked to see me I felt the usual cynicism everybody feels about personnel departments and the way they work. Personnel as a discipline (now called Human Asset Management) was invented by Lyrans of course, and the emollient phrases probably sound a bit better in Lyran. (I should explain that "people are our most important asset" is actually a line from a famous Lyran comedy about a greedy manufacturer. When you see people crease up at that line, it usually means they're Lyrans. )
Anyway. When I went in, he looked at me and said "shame about the tsunami."
I looked stunned. Lyrans are notorious for not worrying about what happens to earthlings: they are only a means to an end, after all.
"One of ours was killed" he said. "2271."
I made the Lyran V-sign of farewell to the dead - unfortunately taken over by earthlings to mean something else.
"The thing is" said 148" he was doing a rather secret and sensitive job in Paris, and we need someone to replace him ... soon."
"What's the job" I said, trying not to sound bored.
He shook his head. "You'll have to see 086 about that. I honestly don't know."
I felt my internal mandibles flutter. 086 was from the stratosphere, an entity hardly anyone ever saw, but believed to be in charge of all the top-secret stuff. He'd been linked with the death of Diana, the assassination of Robert Maxwell, the OJ Simpson business and half a hundred other things. He also ran the Clone Preparation Unit, which copied and killed major world leaders and businessmen. He'd organised the unsuccessful attempt to nuke Seattle in 2002 and get rid of the Nameless One. I wondered what we could possible want with me.
"Think about it" said 148 "and let me know after the weekend."

Thursday, January 06, 2005

New Horizons?

"I've been recommended for promotion every year since 1931" I said.
148 shifted awkwardly in his chair and flicked through the pages of my personal file again.
"I must emphasise" he said "how much the organisation values the work you do. But in the present climate ...." He looked thoroughly weary of the whole thing, as you might expect in a man who's been Head of Personnel for a hundred and eleven years, moving, as we all do, from one Lyran front company to another. And at his level, there are no jobs he hasn't done apart from Head of Finance, which he doesn't want, and neither does anyone else.
"You know the statistics" he said. Of the three thousand, four hundred and seventeen Lyrans who survived the Incident, exactly eighty have now succumbed to old age or retired from active work. This year, there are precisely three new vacancies. With the best will in the world ..."
Something seemed to strike him. "How long have you been in London?"
"Oh, since 1937, why?"
"Would you miss it if we sent you somewhere else?"
I thought for a moment. Cold, rain, lousy food, rotten public transport, no culture. Probably they had somewhere worse in mind. Vladivostok? Monrovia?
"It would depend" I said.
"I'll have a look" said 148. "Come back in a day or so."

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Happy New Year

On Lyra, our year is actually 461 of your Earthling days, and there's actually a guy in the building whose job, for the last 44 years, has been to produce a dual calendar showing where the two planets are. There's some complicated formula that puts us in synch every 113 years or something. This year it's all being put onto computer, and 2386, whose job this has been, is going off to help run the Liberal Democrats. Work that one out....