Welcome to weekend writing warriors. Many fine authors, and me, contribute short snippets for your delectation. This is the start of a new work, Illegal Aliens. It is something of a cross between a horror story, a science fiction tale, and a romance.
Roland, an archaeology instructor at Reading University (academic ranks in the UK are different than in the US, he’d be an assistant professor in the land of the free), is on his way to London. He’s on call when something unusual turns up in the works on the new underground. Something dashed odd has turned up and he’s on his way.
Roland settled back in his seat on the 15:11 from Reading to Paddington, and pulled a sheaf of papers from his bag; he was working through them when a young boy committed the social solecism of asking what he was doing.
“Are those hieroglyphics?”
Roland studied the boy for a moment; he was about six, maybe seven; his son Thomas, if he weren’t at the bottom of some lake in Wales or rotting in the heather nearby, would have been that age; he said, “Not quite, they’re Demotic, almost hieroglyphic, but…”
The boy’s mother started to apologize for her son.
“No, it’s fine; I like children; this is how ancient Egyptian people wrote; something like cursive instead of printing.”
“I guess they don’t teach penmanship in school these days.”
“What’s it say?”
“This is a religious book, a codex to the book of the dead, invocations and prayers to the Gods.”
“Gods, they teach that there’s only one God at my mosque?”
Great Britain and England in specific, is layered with history. You can’t stick a spud in the ground without finding something (well you can, but you know what I mean). Reading University runs an excavation at the nearby Roman site of Calleva, where they are doing their best to undo the depredations of earlier, less skillful archeologists.
This picture, from 2010, shows the works.
Calleva itself, was roughly the size of Londinium, but for a number of reasons (mostly that it isn’t on a navigable river and the Anglo-Saxons sadly let the road network go to Hades) was abandoned. Today it’s a walled livestock field about 10 miles to the south of Reading.
You can, if you are somewhat bored and insane, sample my writing here.