The High Wire (13)

By: William Haggard
January 25, 2015

the-high-wire

HiLoBooks is pleased to serialize William Haggard’s 1963 novel The High Wire, the fifth title in his acclaimed Col. Charles Russell espionage adventure series — which, at the time, was considered by critics (if not the general public) superior to Ian Fleming’s Bond series. “Haggard lacked Fleming’s snooty dilettantism, and was better at creating subtle layers of political intrigue,” Christopher Fowler has written. “Haggard treats his women with more respect, too. They are investigators and heroines with lives of their own. As for exoticism, try Haggard’s character Miss Borrodaile, the elegant, black-clad, former French Resistance fighter with a steel foot.” Under the editorship of HILOBROW’s Joshua Glenn, the Save the Adventure book club will reissue The High Wire as an e-book for the first time ever. Enjoy!

ALL INSTALLMENTS

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Chapter 13

Robert Mortimer was a tactful man, too tactful to rush Maraldi. He knew that his arrival wouldn’t have passed unnoticed — in the circumstances nobody’s arrival would pass unnoticed — and he gave Maraldi twenty-four hours to get in touch with him. When he did not Robert felt free to take the initiative, and on his second day he walked down to the ski school after breakfast. The classes were being sorted into groups by patient instructors, and a man was leaning against the wooden barrier. Like Robert he wasn’t in skiing clothes. He nodded cheerfully as Robert came up. ‘It’s nice to see you, and we needn’t pretend not to know each other. Naturally I’ve been busy or I’d have called on you before. I’m staying at the Conte under my own name, and Mr Hadley and Miss Francom are there too. Victor is at the Vallata, also under his proper name.’ Maraldi laughed. ‘This seems to be routine, but just the same I’m delighted to see you. Come and talk it over.’

They strolled away across the snow and Maraldi asked: ‘Do you intend to ski?’

‘I can’t. As it happens I’ve never been in a winter sports resort before. This is an eye-opener.’ Robert stopped, looking about him at the wide nursery slopes. It was early still but the ski-lifts were busy. Groups passed on the way to them, some chattering, some serious, polyglot and colourful. The sun was warming from a cloudless sky, the air was superb. Robert filled his lungs. ‘Maybe I’ve been missing something.’

Maraldi shrugged. ‘It’s a habit like another. If you start young enough it gets you hopelessly. Your life revolves round a winter fortnight in the snow.’

‘It’s more crowded than I expected.’

‘There are a great many French. The snow across the frontier is pretty poor, so they’ve flocked up here. And today is a public holiday. People start from Torino at dawn and motor up. They’re the genuine enthusiasts, but they bring nothing to the posh hotels and the managements don’t like them.’ Maraldi’s voice changed. ‘However, we’ve no great interest in anybody coming in for a day’s skiing and leaving again at night. We’re concerned with certain residents.’

‘Starting with Victor.’

‘Quite. And I can’t see what he’s doing here; I can’t see what he thinks he’s doing…. Another attempt at kidnapping Hadley? But humanly speaking that’s out. For one thing I don’t think his own people would allow him to try that again. I’ve been reading the English papers and they’re pretty explosive. So is the international situation and I just don’t believe that Victor’s masters would let him blow it finally. That’s an opinion of theory, but on the practical side this isn’t at all a good place for a kidnapping, especially if your opponents are on notice of the possibility. Admittedly the frontier’s pretty close, but at this time of year and with this sort of snow there’s no slipping a body across it by some mountain path. There are just two ways across by road, and you can take it that both posts have been alerted.’ Maraldi waved a Latin hand. ‘You may trust me,’ he said.

‘Of course.’

‘Then come and have a drink.’

They walked to the ski club, ordering coffee and Vecchia Romagna. Robert tackled them with appetite. He was feeling extraordinarily well — so well he was obliged to remind himself that he mustn’t be over-optimistic. He liked Maraldi for he had very good reason to, but when it came to detail….

Perhaps it was just his manner.

Robert drank reflectively. He had told Charles Russell that Maraldi was a colleague of long standing, and in fact he was something more. It had begun by Robert capturing him in the Western Desert. It had been an honourable capture too. Maraldi’s Division had been the Ariete, and it had fought extremely well. He had been far from the incredible rabble clamouring for the bag, its sheer weight almost breaking the administrative machine, almost turning what had been victory into a defeat. Maraldi had been taken honourably, and he had honourably escaped at the first opportunity. In the circumstances it hadn’t been difficult. And several years later, in Italy itself, Robert too had been captured, escaping in turn and much more arduously. He had been picked up starving by a band of partigiani, and Maraldi had been its leader. Robert had stayed with them for seven months. They hadn’t, he knew, been wasted.

They hadn’t been wasted but they had been very irregular, and Robert Mortimer, painstakingly trained in the Security Executive, had since learnt to mistrust the irregular. Angelo Maraldi, for example. He was competent and resourceful — Robert had seen him working — but he wouldn’t have inspired confidence in the top corridors of Whitehall. For one thing he laughed too easily, and that was always fatal.

Robert was in a difficulty: this wasn’t his manor but Angelo’s; he couldn’t interfere and he mustn’t appear to be probing. He ordered more brandy, saying across it casually: ‘So Victor’s at the Vallata and it won’t be another snatch. Then what is he up to?’

There was a formidable shrug again. ‘Your guess is as good as mine.’

‘Oh no. I’m English, and we’re bad at guessing.’

‘And I’ve acquired some of your dislike of it. So far it’s a little like one of those tediously contemporary crime stories — I mean that there’s nothing to go on, no respectable normal motive, so you buy a handbook of psychiatry and push it along from there. Victor has had a considerable failure, and I don’t think his masters would let him forget it. What’s more he’s getting on. No man of that age and with a career like that behind him would want to leave in failure. Men of that age act strangely.’

‘Then he’s been acting oddly?’

‘Yes, in a sense, since so far he’s done nothing. I needn’t say he’s covered every second of the day. So for that matter are Hadley and Miss Francom, but he’s made no attempt to meet them; far less to act. Yesterday he went for a little walk, watching the skiers, and in the evening he drank in a bar; he might be a widower in advanced middle age enjoying his first holiday alone for years. And he seems to have a passion for the cable-ways, all three of them, but that isn’t unusual when you neither ski nor skate. He had lunch in the restaurant at the top of Banchetta, chatting to the engineers. It’s all very innocent, quite beyond a policeman, so out with the mumbo-jumbo book.’

‘I’d rather stay a policeman.’ Robert considered. ‘But what does he have here — people, I mean?’

Maraldi’s brown face crinkled shrewdly. ‘I know what you’re thinking… Maraldi — not a bad chap, efficient enough in a slapdash way, but Italian of course, and over details —’

‘I was thinking no such thing.’

Caro mio, be quiet! You are English and I can read you like a book. I always could. In any case the question was perfectly reasonable, so I’ll give you the answer. We’ve checked every soul with a bed in this village, and we know enough about Victor’s people to feel confident that if one of them tried to come up here we could spot him. That has meant committing a good many men, but you can take it I’ve committed them. In any case, to do anything effective Victor would need more than a single man. That would mean a gang of them, with proportionately better chances of noticing anybody odd. No, all Victor has here is a couple of honest stooges. Pretty lowly ones at that. The second porter at the Vallata is one of his men, but he’s every bit as old as Victor. He’ll bring or send messages, he’s Victor’s ears, but he’s never been a strongarm. And there’s a man in the transformer house who once did a job for him. That was ten years ago and he wasn’t Italian then. He’s not a rough either.’

‘Has Victor been meeting them?’

‘So far as the porter goes, of course. But they’re both too experienced to have given anything away. And as for the electrician, Victor hailed him in a bar quite openly last night. He hailed him as a friend in arms from days in Indo-China, and it happens to be true. They had three drinks and that was that.’

‘And Francis de Fleury?’

Robert had expected a mild surprise but Maraldi disappointed him. ‘I know you’re staying at Aunt Anna’s too. It’s the best food in town if you like native cooking.’

‘De Fleury seems to.’

Maraldi said firmly: ‘I’m not worried about de Fleury. He’s an ex-military attaché and he’ll be carrying the can. They wouldn’t dare use him, not in any way at all. He’d be spotted at once, as indeed he has been.’

‘Then why is he here?’

‘He’s a professional blackmailer and this is a fashionable resort. There are a good many men here, rich, and mostly they’re married. There are also pretty women and alone. What better stalking ground?’

‘I can’t dispute the theory.’ Mortimer sounded doubtful, but Maraldi said equably: ‘But it isn’t only theory. If you’ll allow me to say so we’ve again done our homework. De Fleury was here at Christmas and he was booked to return.’

‘We knew that too. If Rex Hadley had come back here then de Fleury could have followed him.’

‘So he has come back. No doubt with a different object but at least there’s nothing strange about his presence. He had somewhere to go to when his work for Victor crashed, and a standing professional motive. He was booked at the Conte and he’s changed to Aunt Anna’s, but I hardly think that’s sinister. The Conte costs money and he’s just lost a job. But he can drink at the Conte’s bars, dance there if he wants to, operate —’

‘Has he spoken to Rex Hadley?’

‘No.’

‘To Mary Francom?’

‘They met face to face in the Conte. He bowed and she smiled at him. I’m told it was a friendly smile.’

‘De Fleury deserved it.’ Robert Mortimer thought again; the question he was considering could easily seem an impertinence; he said at last tentatively: ‘Victor… if you could get him out of Sestriere….’

Maraldi sighed patiently but he wasn’t offended. ‘My very dear friend, I am doing just that. But it isn’t so easy. I don’t deny that if we had known he was coming we should probably have found something at the frontier, some irregularity in his papers, to turn him back, but once he’s in it’s quite another matter to eject him. There was a time in this country when a police officer could conduct a foreigner to the frontier for no better reason than that he didn’t like his face. Not now. You could call it part of the price of a democracy. Be that as it may, there are now formalities. Rest assured they are in train. In three or four days….’ Maraldi spread his hands.

‘You almost persuade me —’

But Maraldi had risen; with the first hint of reserve he said: ‘But I am not trying to persuade you except to enjoy yourself. It’s a pity you don’t ski, but the skating instructress is a charmer.’ The reserve disappeared as quickly as it had come. ‘A really beautiful figure.’ Maraldi made a gesture with finger and thumb. ‘Quite feasible in a lesson. Delicious. And excellent exercise — skating, I mean.’ He held out a friendly hand. ‘I don’t think I ought to ask you to the Conte when Hadley and Miss Francom are there too, but I’ll drop in at Aunt Anna’s. If you happen to want me urgently I’m mostly around the rink. But I don’t think you will.’

He strolled away.

Robert Mortimer walked back to lunch. Maraldi had been reassuring — logical Robert sighed softly. It was Charles Russell’s favourite precept that in security logic meant nothing.

*

Rex Hadley woke in the night at the Conte. He lay silently, watching Mary. She slept on her back but she didn’t snore. Irene had snored intolerably. Remorselessly articulate awake she hadn’t in sleep been merciful. But Mary breathed evenly beside him. He loved her, he thought, but he didn’t yet know her. So much the more exciting for the future. He didn’t understand her. For instance in the matter of de Fleury. Naturally they had discussed that extraordinary evening at his flat…. Waving a gun at a woman he claimed to love, threatening to kill her and apparently meaning to, and all because he had discovered she was an agent. Who had been spying on him certainly, who had done her job well. But pointing a pistol, talking incomprehensibly about betrayals…. To Rex it had been simply an outrage — the man had been drunk or touched. He had said so to Mary and she’d quietly agreed. Perhaps, he thought now, too quietly. She too had been thinking, and her conclusions weren’t as simple as his own. She hadn’t explained and maybe she couldn’t. Rex Hadley smiled. He wasn’t jealous of de Fleury for he had very good reason not to be.

He slipped from the warm bed carefully, walking to the window, pulling the curtain and catching his breath. The moon rode serenely, crowning Banchetta, flooding the white valley in inhuman light, etching the firs the starkest black. The snow had a private life, something apart from men. The pylons of the cableway strode up the mountain purposefully, man’s only intrusion in a world which wasn’t his.

An intrusion but a convenience: the run from the top of Banchetta was one of the pleasantest. With a little more practice Rex felt he could manage it, and Mary had always skied well. The piste would be fun in the evening, marvellous as the moon rose. He must look at the calendar, work out the timings. The cableway closed down at dusk, but it shouldn’t’ be impossible to make arrangements. A few thousand lire should do it.

Rex went back to bed, his hands behind his head. He didn’t expect to sleep again. The busiest days of his life were only just behind him, and he had been grateful for the activity since he hadn’t had time to think. There had been statements to the discreetest of officials, other officials, discreet again but unmistakably firm, to help him with the pressing attentions of the newspapers; then a visit from Sir William Banner and the unequivocal instruction to take himself off on holiday. All this he had welcomed, for he had known subconsciously that a revulsion was inevitable. He had soon thrown off the physical shock of being shot over in his forties, but he knew that he wasn’t scatheless. Sooner or later his mind would pay what healthy nerves refused to.

Suddenly he was terrified. He’d never quite believed it all — something had happened but not to himself. Major Mortimer had told him about an earlier attempt, and probably he’d looked incredulous, for Mortimer had explained with deadly under-emphasis. There had been a research worker in Dortmund who had been beaten to death for the secret of some automatic mortar, and Project A was a great deal more important than a mortar. Rex had at once understood, but instinctively he had rejected the implications. Dortmund was in a foreign land, and this extraordinary organization Mortimer had talked about, somebody called Victor, utterly ruthless — all these were foreign too. It couldn’t happen here.

And now it had and more than once. The second attempt they’d almost got him. Project A wasn’t yet a secret in the normal sense, but Rex knew its progress. So suppose they had taken him. He stiffened suddenly. There was something called interrogation, and nowadays it didn’t mean asking questions. Major Mortimer had been serious about Victor: Victor would stick at nothing. Rex had seen too much pain to believe that men could resist it long. From the Inquisition to the cellars of the Gestapo, sooner or later the bravest talked, and he wasn’t especially brave, or didn’t think so. The stiffening broke in a shaken shudder. So what would he have told them?

That if Project A succeeded there would be a conventional explosive ten or twenty times as powerful as anything previously known. Which could be fatal to a fading Power whose only real asset in the international free-for-all was the mass of its conscript army. But that they would know already. So a little more fire and a little more iron and, and….

That if you took certain chemicals, none of them esoteric, but put them with a catalyst which a chemist had stumbled on by accident; that if you froze them down to absolute zero or nearly, tenths of a degree, then hundredths, then finally perhaps….

That would be the truth but they might not accept it. Not at once certainly, perhaps not at all. So days of it, weeks, screaming your ignorance at emotionless professional faces, finally a cripple, impotent….

Rex slipped out of bed again, caught in a horror he had known was inevitable but had somehow contrived to stifle. He ran a bath quietly for he had begun to sweat; he lay in the lukewarm water motionless, trying to relax. He climbed from the bath at last, towelling himself slowly, careful not to sweat again.

When he returned to the bedroom the bedside light was on. Mary was sitting up and watching him. As she saw his face her own changed quickly.

‘Rex, what’s the matter?’

He hesitated; told her shamefacedly.

‘Come here.’

He went across to her, uncertain still. When he was near she said: ‘But I know about that — dear God, I know.’

‘You never told me they tortured you.’

‘They never caught me. It wasn’t the thing but the fear of it, the nightmare always with you. Oh yes, I know all right.’

‘I suppose I’m a bit of a coward.’

Astonishingly she began to laugh.

‘Is that so funny?’ He spoke without anger.

‘Of course.’ Through the laughter she said unevenly: ‘Dear Rex, you’re very English. I love you but you’re a stranger. The English don’t, think about courage. Sometimes they think about fear, and then they sweat.’

‘Yes, I’ve been sweating.’

‘A waste of time.’ She slid down into the bed again, said suddenly, unexpectedly: ‘I’d hate to be up against you.’

‘You said that once before to me.’

‘It’s all you need to know.’ She took his arms and pulled him down, holding him firmly.

Not for the first time Rex Hadley drew strength from her.

*

Victor’s thinking had been as logical as Maraldi’s and his conclusions more precise. He had come to Sestriere without a definite plan, almost on impulse if he had been capable of such a thing. He knew he was on probation, but he hadn’t supposed that the tall man would be so stupid as to put him on trial but remove from him all authority and the tools of his trade. Nor had he. Maraldi had been right that Victor had only two agents in Sestriere and that neither was a thug, but he had something else which Maraldi hadn’t spotted. It was a record-player of a popular make, and unless you had been sufficiently interested to take it to pieces that was what it passed for. Victor started it at six o’clock every evening. His taste in music was the severest — the Lydian quartets and Gregorian chants as formalized as a bull fight. Then at half-past six precisely he stacked his records, pressing a hidden switch. The pre-tuned circuit wasn’t especially powerful but it was efficient over thirty miles, and thirty miles away across the frontier were Victor’s real ears.

As it happened they had sent to him only once, but the message had made him think furiously. Mr J. Wallis Danziger was leaving Washington for England, and most men had heard of J. Wallis Danziger.

Victor had heard plenty. Danziger had been smuggled out of Germany in 1945 under the noses of the Russians and taken to America. There his career had been remarkable, since he had not only kept himself in the first flight of physicists but had amassed a fortune applying his knowledge. Victor smiled ironically. That wouldn’t have been possible in Europe: the European tradition was that a top-grade scientist shouldn’t also be successful as an industrialist. Even to try seemed somehow a little wicked. The facts remained that in America Danziger had established himself as a considerable tycoon, and that Danziger was flying to England. The Marshal would know that too. He wouldn’t like it…. Those intolerable Anglo-Saxons were getting together again. To exclude him, of course, and finally. And Danziger hadn’t booked in London but was going direct to Birmingham. Where no doubt he would talk with Sir William Banner. Victor was sure of it. The Danzigers of the world didn’t fly round it for pleasure. The English did have something and the Americans wished to share.

Victor frowned intently. He had less time than ever now. Danziger’s journey meant that Project A had succeeded, or at least that there had been an essential advance, and of those who would know the secret Rex Hadley still stood first. Victor nodded briefly…. And so? He had already dismissed another attempt at kidnapping. He himself would not have shrunk from it, but he didn’t believe it would be permitted. The tall man hadn’t stripped him of authority, he could still receive news, give reasonable orders to subordinates who would obey him, but to organize another snatch would mean orders of a kind which the Marshal must inevitably hear of. Whereupon he would countermand them. So Victor was back on routine resources, and in Sestriere they weren’t impressive. But in theory the problem was unchanged: essentially it was still to get Hadley alone for half an hour or better…. No, it had changed. Hadley had a woman with him, one he intended to marry. So get them together, both of them. Go to work on the woman and the man would talk in no time.

The Church had exploited that one, the Dominican Inquisitors. Victor smiled grimly. Where there was a woman there were indeed possibilities.

He put on another record, not listening but thinking. So all he need do was get Hadley and this girl of his alone for half an hour. But that looked impossible — he hadn’t a hope. He knew that he was watched. It was being done competently, but he was too experienced to miss it. He had recognized Maraldi, which meant that the whole machine was on notice and in gear against him. And the porter had told him of de Fleury’s arrival. Who was probably now working for the other side. The rat. Not that a playboy mattered.

It had once occurred to Victor that in Sestriere there was just one place where it might be possible to be alone with Hadley. It was about the size of an ordinary lift and it could be made entirely private. But he couldn’t see how to do it. The shot wasn’t on.

He put on his coat and went for a walk, spotting his shadower but ignoring him. The lights of the township were coming on, climbing up the hillside from chalets and pensioni, shining invitingly from the shops in the Portico. Victor walked into the colonnade. From the tea-room a dance band thumped indifferently, and a man was singing in a vacuous tenor. Victor loathed popular tenors. Italian tenors sang with their testicles and the Irish indulged a wholly repellent edge. He would have admitted that he was in a very bad temper. The careless gaiety offended him. He stood with his legs apart, head forward, unconsciously scowling; he scowled at the knots of girls, enticingly entrousered; he scowled at the lean brown boys. Many were his compatriots…. Degenerates, accepting too casually an ease they hadn’t earned, children of a class which was destroying the old values. What did they know of the world they encumbered, of decent discipline, of hot doomed forts in some tropical ricefield? Of impotent internationalists negotiating not for the lives of the garrison but for the face of two potentates not even directly engaged? Victor looked down at his empty sleeve and his mouth twisted angrily.

He began to walk towards the ski club — at least he would be spared the band there. It was warm in the hall and he walked to the bar. The instructors were stacking their skis, rubbing their legs and chatting. In its neat little bay the cable-car to Alpette was already parked, but the last from Banchetta was just coming in. Victor took his brandy to the window, watching it as it slid safely home.

…No bigger than a lift. Three people could be quite alone there.

Presently the attendant came in. He stamped his cold feet and walked to the bar. There Victor joined him for he knew him already. He had spent a good deal of time on the cable-ways — Maraldi had noticed it. Victor bought more brandy. He had drunk one already and the spirit had restored his self-control, though not his goad humour since he owned none. Over the drinks he asked: ‘A tiring day?’

The attendant shrugged. ‘No worse than usual. But thank God we shut down at dusk.’

‘You always do that?’

‘Oh yes.’ The shrug again.’ Sometimes we’re asked to make a special trip — honeymoon couples and when there’s a moon.’

Victor’s face didn’t move and his voice didn’t change. ‘And does that happen often?’

‘They ask, but we don’t often do it. It’s expensive, you see — we have to make them pay. There was a couple inquiring this evening as it happens. An Englishman. Mad, but the wife was beautiful. Coming down by moonlight…. Well, when you’re rich….’

‘I’d like to do that too.’

‘That would be up to him. I heard they were at the Conte.’

‘When are they going up?’

‘Not for three days. The man had it all worked out. There’s a moon on Friday by a quarter to eight, so I’ll start them at seven-fifteen.’

‘You’ll be going up with them?’

‘I’m supposed to, but in the circumstances….’ There was a tolerant smile. ‘They’ll come down on skis of course, and we can always pull an empty car down — empty, that is, if you’re not yourself in it. It’s a very private trip though, and I can’t just include you. It’s up to you to fix it.’

‘At the Conte, I think you said?’

“That’s right. An Englishman.’

They exchanged good nights and Victor rose quickly. He walked not to the Conte but direct to the Vallata. For the first time that evening he smiled. Victor knew a break when he saw one.

NEXT INSTALLMENT | ALL INSTALLMENTS SO FAR

***

RADIUM AGE SCIENCE FICTION: “Radium Age” is HILOBROW’s name for the 1904–33 era, which saw the discovery of radioactivity, the revelation that matter itself is constantly in movement — a fitting metaphor for the first decades of the 20th century, during which old scientific, religious, political, and social certainties were shattered. This era also saw the publication of genre-shattering writing by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Sax Rohmer, E.E. “Doc” Smith, Jack London, Arthur Conan Doyle, Aldous Huxley, Olaf Stapledon, Karel Čapek, H.P. Lovecraft, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Yevgeny Zamyatin, Philip Gordon Wylie, and other pioneers of post-Verne/Wells, pre-Golden Age “science fiction.” More info here.

READ GORGEOUS PAPERBACKS: HiLoBooks has reissued the following 10 obscure but amazing Radium Age science fiction novels in beautiful print editions: Jack London’s The Scarlet Plague, Rudyard Kipling’s With the Night Mail (and “As Easy as A.B.C.”), Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Poison Belt, H. Rider Haggard’s When the World Shook, Edward Shanks’ The People of the Ruins, William Hope Hodgson’s The Night Land, J.D. Beresford’s Goslings, E.V. Odle’s The Clockwork Man, Cicely Hamilton’s Theodore Savage, and Muriel Jaeger’s The Man with Six Senses. For more information, visit the HiLoBooks homepage.

SERIALIZED BY HILOBOOKS: Jack London’s The Scarlet Plague | Rudyard Kipling’s With the Night Mail (and “As Easy as A.B.C.”) | Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Poison Belt | H. Rider Haggard’s When the World Shook | Edward Shanks’ The People of the Ruins | William Hope Hodgson’s The Night Land | J.D. Beresford’s Goslings | E.V. Odle’s The Clockwork Man | Cicely Hamilton’s Theodore Savage | Muriel Jaeger’s The Man With Six Senses | Jack London’s “The Red One” | Philip Francis Nowlan’s Armageddon 2419 A.D. | Homer Eon Flint’s The Devolutionist | W.E.B. DuBois’s “The Comet” | Edgar Rice Burroughs’s The Moon Men | Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Herland | Sax Rohmer’s “The Zayat Kiss” | Eimar O’Duffy’s King Goshawk and the Birds | Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Lost Prince | Morley Roberts’s The Fugitives | Helen MacInnes’s The Unconquerable | Geoffrey Household’s Watcher in the Shadows | William Haggard’s The High Wire | Hammond Innes’s Air Bridge | James Branch Cabell’s Jurgen | John Buchan’s “No Man’s Land” | John Russell’s “The Fourth Man” | E.M. Forster’s “The Machine Stops” | John Buchan’s Huntingtower | Arthur Conan Doyle’s When the World Screamed | Victor Bridges’ A Rogue By Compulsion | Jack London’s The Iron Heel | H. De Vere Stacpoole’s The Man Who Lost Himself | P.G. Wodehouse’s Leave It to Psmith | Richard Connell’s “The Most Dangerous Game” | Houdini and Lovecraft’s “Imprisoned with the Pharaohs” | Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Sussex Vampire.”

ORIGINAL FICTION: HILOBROW has serialized three novels: James Parker’s The Ballad of Cocky The Fox (“a proof-of-concept that serialization can work on the Internet” — The Atlantic); Karinne Keithley Syers’s Linda Linda Linda (which includes original music); and Robert Waldron’s roman à clef The School on the Fens. We also publish original stories and comics. These include: Matthew Battles’s stories “Gita Nova“, “Makes the Man,” “Imago,” “Camera Lucida,” “A Simple Message”, “Children of the Volcano”, “The Gnomon”, “Billable Memories”, “For Provisional Description of Superficial Features”, “The Dogs in the Trees”, “The Sovereignties of Invention”, and “Survivor: The Island of Dr. Moreau”; several of these later appeared in the collection The Sovereignties of Invention | Peggy Nelson’s “Mood Indigo“, “Top Kill Fail“, and “Mercerism” | Annalee Newitz’s “The Great Oxygen Race” | Flourish Klink’s Star Trek fanfic “Conference Comms” | Charlie Mitchell’s “A Fantasy Land” | Charlie Mitchell’s “Sentinels” | Joshua Glenn’s “The Lawless One”, and the mashup story “Zarathustra vs. Swamp Thing” | Adam McGovern and Paolo Leandri’s Idoru Jones comics | John Holbo’s “Sugarplum Squeampunk” | “Another Corporate Death” (1) and “Another Corporate Death” (2) by Mike Fleisch | Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer and Frank Fiorentino’s graphic novel “The Song of Otto” (excerpt) | John Holbo’s graphic novel On Beyond Zarathustra (excerpt) | “Manoj” and “Josh” by Vijay Balakrishnan | “Verge” by Chris Rossi, and his audio novel Low Priority Hero | EPIC WINS: THE ILIAD (1.408-415) by Flourish Klink | EPIC WINS: THE KALEVALA (3.1-278) by James Parker | EPIC WINS: THE ARGONAUTICA (2.815-834) by Joshua Glenn | EPIC WINS: THE MYTH OF THE ELK by Matthew Battles | TROUBLED SUPERHUMAN CONTEST: Charles Pappas, “The Law” | CATASTROPHE CONTEST: Timothy Raymond, “Hem and the Flood” | TELEPATHY CONTEST: Rachel Ellis Adams, “Fatima, Can You Hear Me?” | OIL SPILL CONTEST: A.E. Smith, “Sound Thinking | LITTLE NEMO CAPTION CONTEST: Joe Lyons, “Necronomicon” | SPOOKY-KOOKY CONTEST: Tucker Cummings, “Well Marbled” | INVENT-A-HERO CONTEST: TG Gibbon, “The Firefly” | FANFICTION CONTEST: Lyette Mercier’s “Sex and the Single Superhero”

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