Saturday, July 3, 2010

Mystery and Deception and Manuscripts: Part 1

Three days ago, INTERN arrived in England under Mysterious Circumstances—but even INTERN could not fathom just how mysterious they would turn out to be.

She was met at Heathrow by an anemic-looking footman dressed in purple velvet, who conducted her by stagecoach all the way to Cornwall, the stallions' hooves trampling the heather flat. At midnight, they arrived at a huge but crumbling castle, where the footman left INTERN without a word of explanation and took off at a gallop.

Inside the castle, INTERN climbed a stone staircase, her path lit only by the white LED on her keychain. At the top of the stairs was a wooden door. She opened the door to reveal a dimly lit office. An elderly man with slicked-back hair and a frilly lace collar looked up from his desk, narrowed his eyes, and said in a grating voice "So you've made it after all, INTERN—or should I say, Baroness Shamsbury-pon-the-Spoor."

At that moment a bat squeaked, and INTERN noticed the pile of legal documents sitting on the desk. Noticing her surprise, the elderly gentleman continued.

"Ah. I see that the news of your great-uncle's death comes as a shock to you. The old baron died of lead poisoning. You are his only heir. This castle will be yours, and the lands surrounding it too—if, of course, you can meet the condition."

INTERN looked around, taking in the rich furnishings and the antique stonework. With a castle of her own, and income from the peasants' rent, INTERN wouldn't have to do so many odd jobs. Techie Boyfriend wouldn't have to write another line of code. They could grow turnips in the courtyard and eat all the boiled nettles they liked.

"Sounds good!" said INTERN. "What's the condition?"

The lawyer cleared his throat and adjusted his tie with a leisurely, self-satisfied gesture.

"Your great-uncle was the executive editor of a publishing house."

"HOW COOL!" squealed INTERN.

The lawyer smirked.

"A failing publishing house. Not a single book published by Shamsbury-Pon-the-Spoor Editions has ever sold through. At the time of his death, your great-uncle muttered ceaselessly about a manuscript-a manuscript which he believed would be so commercially successful it would save the house. He died before he could publish it."

INTERN interrupted here to inquire: "What kind of manuscript? What was it called?"

The lawyer looked pained.

"Young Adult. Working title The Gales of Thistledown Moor."

INTERN cringed.

"That title will have to go. But the category's hot."

Not looking amused, the lawyer went on.

"The condition of your inheritance is that you save Shamsbury-pon-the-Spoor Editions from bankruptcy by making a bestseller. Then—and only then-will the castle be yours."

"Done and done," said INTERN. "When can I get started?"

The old lawyer said nothing but gestured to a bookshelf. Thinking he was indicating the location of the manuscript for The Gales of Thistledown Moor, INTERN strode to the bookshelf and yanked out a blue folder.

A hidden mechanism within the bookshelf began to whine, and the bookshelf rotated slowly to reveal a hidden publishing office on the other side. As more of the hidden office came into view, the old man behind the desk stuffed his pipe with tobacco and lit it with a match. Smoke filled the room.

INTERN stepped through the passageway and the rotating bookshelf ground into place behind her.

Now, she was locked in—but where was the manuscript?


  1. I'm going to England on Monday, and now I'm really looking forward to it. Perhaps I could be your rugged sidekick!

  2. I believe I'm holding the manuscript, because it's so amazing that I wrote it.

    Now go and make it a bestseller, kthxbai.

  3. Geez, I hate when that happens ...

  4. Le GASP.
    The thing is, I would totally read this if it were a book.

  5. You are SO my hero, INTERN. Now...find that manuscript! :D

  6. Oh, INTERN, I love you. I really, really do. I never had a daughter (just four sons who have never uttered the word "thistledown"). May I adopt you? Please?

  7. I only have one thing to say:

    I love you.

  8. As the author of Gales of Thistledown Moor, may I just express my excitement and enthusiasm at your great uncle's edict? After being rejected by 274 agents and 68 publishing houses (including PublishAmerica), your uncle was my last, best hope of seeing my work in print. THANK YOU O MYSTERIOUS GREAT UNCLE FOR KEEPING MY DREAM ALIVE!

  9. Intern, all you need to say to get out of there is "Put. The. Candle. BACK."
    (Young Frankenstein)

  10. Are you really in England? Tally ho and all that English stuff. Are you trying to tell me that the airlines lost your luggage, and now your stuck in a not so nice hotel room with nothing to wear? Ahh, INTERN, you certainly have me on the edge of my seat waiting for the next installment.

  11. Behind a loose block above the fireplace!

  12. - insert creepy, manic laughter here -