‘The horror! The horror!’, I said.

And so I concluded my account of the decline and fall of the Runic Empire, dear Reader.

Roberta brushed away a tear as she tucked her notebook back into her holster. The other nameless students shifted uneasily on the sofa while casting loving glances at their iphones.*

I did not move a muscle, dear Reader. No, I stood there, framed in the patio windows, silhouetted in the low winter sun, my arms outstretched, head thrown back.

I waited.

Once the students had applauded, I tossed them the cage key, and turned for a moment to gaze out of the window.

The robin pecked happily at a small metacarpal bone, singing its Christmas song of peace, love, and goodwill to all the little creatures of the Earth. A red Ferrari 250 GTO sat in the vice-chancellor’s parking space.

It was in this moment of rare peace, dear Reader, that I heard another knock at the door. The students froze. I sighed, and glid for a third time over the polished parquet.

But just as my sensitive, pianist fingers touched the doorknob, dear Reader, the door swung towards me with a dread creak.

There stood Obadiah, his eyes bulging.

‘Marvellous!’ I said. ‘I expect you’ve come to oil this creaky door. Never let it be said that University Estates are a bunch of lazy good-for-nothings who ignore requests for new lightbulbs for months on end. Here’s tuppence for tiny Obadiah, my good man!’

Obadiah stared at me.

And then, dear Reader, he slowly toppled forwards, a small, pearl-handled dagger bearing the initials ‘AL’ quivering between his shoulder blades.

And from the dimly-lit corridor behind him, dear Reader, came footsteps.

Asafetida hopped over Obadiah.

‘Hey, Dr A’, she said, winking at me.

‘Ms Lovage’, I said. ‘I think we need to talk.’


*Confiscated from them on entry, and placed in a custom-built cage placed between the acid bath and drinks cabinet.


6 thoughts on “Asafetida Always Knocks Thrice

  1. its like the mary celeste round here dr a. thought I would have to go through the comments as usual with the tracking programme but nada zilch zip. but best not to be complacent you know. its like a computer virus – you think you’ve got rid of it it but it pops back up again when you least expect it. well happy xmas dr a I have left the timesheets next to the cage.


    1. I think you’ll find Darren that the comment box has fallen into an appalled silence out of respect for Obadiah and his family. I owe him a particular debt. He lent me a Zandra Rhodes hat from the janitor’s dressing up box when the porters refused to let me past in my charity shop Vivienne Westwood.

      1. Yeah that would be the bonnet I saw him in this am. He is always having a sleep in the janitor’s room you know so I make it a rule to shout hey Obi-wan wazzup as I go past. he usually jumps a mile 😉 but he was pretty fast asleep this am as far as I could see what with the great flowery bonnet pulled down right over his face. 😦

        PS If you are the new Prof of PLDO you need to sign some timesheets smartish. Have left them next to the prism in yr office.

  2. I have decided for the time being to work from home where nobody cares what I am wearing and where I judge myself to be healthier and safer. I will fill in my own time sheets online and send them PDF. (Pretty damn fast?)

  3. Dear Ada, do you think the budget could stretch to some heat for the poor students? Not the ones who live at home and swank in without a thermal, but the poor ones, with all the layers. Of course, with the HR/ window problem I was just reading about, it may be a problem. You have so many things to think about, Ada, in your esteemed position.

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