‘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.
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.