Midnight at the Oasis

Oh, Wednesday. You’ve dawned cold and gray again, just like your sister Tuesday did yesterday, and this morning I sit, huddled and cold, in my windows at my desk, shivering and wondering if I will ever feel warm again.

Yes, I do tend to overreact in the cold, thank you for asking/noticing.

I have not written a word on the book since before I left for Kentucky; nor, apparently, have I since. This is distressing; the idea was to follow Nanowrimo and have a strong first draft finished by December 1, so I could spend December working on other things and cleaning this manuscript up before starting a new project I must begin on January 1.

Well, didn’t finish writing this this morning, did I? Sigh. I woke up really tired and didn’t want to get out of bed; the cold gray morning didn’t help much, and before I knew it–it was time to get ready for work and now I’m home and here we are.

I did read another short story, though: “Citadel” by Stephen Hunter, from Bibliomysteries Volume Two, edited by Otto Penzler:

The Lysander took off in the pitch-dark of 0400 British Standard War Time, Pilot Officer Murphy using the prevailing south-southwest wind to gain atmospheric traction, even though the craft had a reputation for short takeoffs. He nudged it airborne, felt it surpass its amazingly low stall speed, held the stick gently back until he reached 150 meters, then commenced a wide left-hand bank to aim himself and his passenger toward Occupied France.

Murphy was a pro and had done many missions for his outfit, No. 138 (Special Duties Squadron), inserting and removing agents in coordination with the Resistance. But that didn’t mean he was blasé, or without fear. No matter how many times you flew into Nazi territory, it was a first time. There was no predicting what might happen, and he could just as easily wind up in a POW camp or against the executioner’s wall as back in his quarters at RAF Newmarket.

I’ve not read Stephen Hunter before, but this story! It was more of a novella than a short story–close to a hundred pages–but it didn’t seem long to read; because it moves along at an incredibly rapid pace. The premise is that Bletchley–notably genius Alan Turing–needs a book to break a book code and the only extent copy, besides the one in the hands of the British traitor, is in an archive in one of the Paris museums. So, an agent has to drop into France, make his way to Paris undetected by the Nazis, get into the archive, and photograph the necessary pages of the old book, and then somehow get back out of occupied France and back to England. Danger is everywhere–and I do mean everywhere–and the tension continues to ramp up with each page, each new obstacle, each new twist to the story.

And Hunter saves the biggest twist for the end.

God, I love World War II espionage stories!

And now, I should get back into the spice mines and write some more.


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