An Annoying Fan Writer in New London

Part 24

by Maureen

Meanwhile, a bit earlier and halfway across New London....

"I'd love to change clothes," said Maureen, wrinkling her nose. "But we can't get them without, credits. Anyway, it's a big city. There's always got to be a few weirdos walking around."

"But people are looking for us," said Mary again, starting to look a bit hunted. "That makes it a little more important."

"Why? Since we're already..." Brittney's voice dropped. "...wanted by the Yard...why don't we just steal some?" she suggested practically.

Mary and Maureen traded dubious glances.

"What? It's not like we can get into any more trouble."

"I think clothing stores in this time have pretty good security against shoplifting," said Mary. "I remember thinking about that when I was planning a story."

"Also, none of us are actually guilty of any real crime at this point. I'm not sure it's a good idea to change that," Maureen said thoughtfully. "Lestrade comes down really hard on petty thieves. And stealing is wrong, of course, and it would be a pain in the butt to reimburse the store owners. We'd be better off raising the money ourselves."

Now it was Brittney's turn to trade dubious glances with Mary. "That's a very nice plan, Maureen, except that we don't have any way to do it."

"Not so," said Maureen, looking more cheerful by the minute. "You fail to reckon with just how geeky I am -- geeky enough to have a book on me at all times."

It was true. She hadn't even thought about it; it was as automatic an action as grabbing her keys and locking the door behind her. She had just picked up her little plastic fanny pack with her current reading inside and put it on. She had forgotten all about it, since it was turned toward her back -- and her butt and the back of her legs were just about the only parts of her that had been free from mud.

She pulled the fanny pack around toward her front now, unzipped it, and triumphantly displayed the contents -- an old paperback wrapped in mylar. The front showed a sixties sort of palace, a meadow, and a bunch of cats, as well as a sticker with "$6" written on it. Maureen made an annoyed sound and peeled off the sticker with a fingernail. Then she raised it again.

"Ladies, allow me to present our new clothes. The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath, otherwise known as 'H.P. Lovecraft imitates Lord Dunsany'. The only novel and just about the only happy story Lovecraft ever wrote. In the Ace Modern Fantasy edition, what's more. Though it's slightly rubbed along the front." She frowned. "It's gonna take me forever to find another copy, and I doubt I'll ever get another from the Modern Fantasy series. But all we have to do is hit the used book dealers along the Charing Cross Road and look like big ol' suckers. And I bet there are still used clothing stores and thrift shops on that road, too."

"Along with Diagon Alley," murmured Mary.

"Hey, that's right," said Brittney.

Maureen turned green and shot a perturbed glance at Mary. "With what we did to Harry...and the fact he's probably a powerful enough wizard to still be alive...."

"Ah," said Mary. "Then let's avoid pubs named The Leaky Cauldron."


Fifteen or twenty minutes later (it was amazing how close together everything was in an old city like New London), Maureen had offered up "this old book I found in a street market -- is it worth anything?" and gotten horribly rooked by a used book dealer she wouldn't have bought a used car from. He paid her with a very greasy anon-card loaded with sixty-five credits. Since she'd wanted money and no questions, she felt very happy with the deal.

She came back outside, waved the card at Brittney and Mary, and grinned. "Let's hit the racks."

They were not exactly picky shoppers. But this was Charing Cross Road, home of the odd buy and buyer. The shopgirl barely blinked at the hospital gowns. The European size system gave them more trouble, but soon they were all dressed in clothes which didn't look all that bad. Only Brittney was brave enough to wear one of those short minidresses. Mary and Maureen stuck to long tunics and pants, which were a bit more forgiving of their figures.

As they headed down Charing Cross Road for the Tube station, Maureen reflected that she rather liked her tunic's eyesearingly bright purple with blue piping. It wasn't what she'd wear at home, but hey, this was the future, and....

"No," she whispered.

"What is it?" said Brittney. "What's wrong?"

"I was thinking about my clothes," said Maureen. She could feel the blood draining from her face.

"Well, what's wrong with that?" said Mary. "I mean, you have to think about them sometimes."

"I was thinking about the color of my tunic's piping," said Maureen with horror. "Good God, I can go for months without even thinking of the word 'piping'. What next, description of the jewel colors of people's eyes and the styles they do their hair? I mean, pretty soon I'll be going on about how I have curves in all the right places, and for two or three pages! I'm turning into either a Mary Sue or a piece of badfic!"

Mary shuddered. "We'd better get on the Tube and head for Baker Street."

Brittney shivered. "And pronto. I'm too young to be a Mary Sue!"

"Marylebone, actually. There's no Tube station on the 221 part of Baker Street, so Holmes' statue is at the Marylebone station."

Mary and Brittney traded looks again.

"What?" Maureen looked defensive. "So I like trivia. Sue me."

So they went to the Marylebone station, walked a little ways until they got to Baker Street, turned the corner, and then, because they were talking too much to look where they were going, they bumped right into KID. Whom they of course instantly recognized. Yet another friend from the messageboard had fallen into this sticky, futuristic, interdimensional web of strangeness.

In her horror, "Sumimasen" was all Maureen could say.

On to Part 25!

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