Quick wits and loyalty confront high-tech crime in space
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Richard Abbott

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Extract from The Liminal Zone

It was early afternoon, and she had been in Percy’s suite of rooms for a little while. Percy was older than Lance, the oldest person she had seen on Charon so far. He had let himself go entirely bald, but his eyes were clear, and his conversation was neat and precise. She had no doubt that his memories of past events would be clear and accurate. So far, the conversation had been cautious, exploratory, but they were now starting to delve into the past.

“Well, you never know. But I’m not taking chances. I like it out here, and it’s my home. But you’ll hear tales that there’s people who’ve been asked to leave, just for saying the wrong thing at the wrong time to the wrong person. Anyway, that day, I was first through the lock. Except that I knew I wasn’t first. Someone had been there before me.”

Something about his expression made her stop.

“But you didn’t actually see anything?”

He drew back slightly.

“Seeing’s not everything there is. Haven’t you ever just known something for sure?”

His eyes held hers, suddenly very intense, and she felt a little internal quaver run through her body. She had hoped it wouldn’t show, but then she saw the trace of a smile cross his eyes.

“I’ve got Welsh blood, you know. It helps me comprehend things which maybe can’t be seen with the naked eye.And what about you, Nina? Where do you come from?”

She went blank.

“I grew up in Lacus Gaudii.On the Moon.”

He shook his head.

“Not that recent. Go back a few generations. Where did your family live? Before they came up to settle in that lunar lake of yours.”

The noise of the kettle was maddening. She withdrew inside herself, trying to escape the pressure.

“I… I don’t know. I suppose I could find out. Somewhere in southern England? Or maybe Eire? It’s never mattered.”

“Ah, but it just might make a difference here. We live with such a narrow perspective most of the time, don’t you think?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, when all’s said, everything we know is like a tiny island of light, somewhere in the middle of a vast ocean of shadows. What we don’t understand dwarfs everything that we know. I’m sure that every now and again you wonder what’s out there, beyond the little circle of your confidence. Maybe your heritage will give you some sort of insight into that liminal zone.”

He looked away, letting the moment pass. She took a long breath and tried again.

“But did you actually see anything?”

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