Friday, May 08, 2015

Friday Novel: To Cambridge

For the whole trip from Chicago to Cambridge, Alan had the funny feeling that he was being watched. He wasn’t quite able to put his finger on it. There was a guy on the plane, for example, whom he had seen several times in the airport in Chicago. Then there was someone at Heathrow airport in London who later ended up on the same train to Cambridge.

Alan was also surprised to find Mr. Fox waiting for him at the station when he arrived in Cambridge.

“Welcome to Cambridge, Mr. Randolph,” came the voice of Mr. Fox the moment he stepped off the train.

“I didn’t expect to see you here at the station,” Alan answered.

“I thought I’d walk you to the house where you’ll be staying for the next couple weeks.”

“I won’t be in Grantchester?”

“No. You’ll be in a house here in Cambridge until we can get you oriented to your new circumstances.”

“My new circumstances?”

“Yes,” Mr. Fox said and paused for a moment. “You are a legacy. Your father was a member of the society. Most new potentials do not have any enemies. Indeed, the enemies of the society usually do not know when new students are coming or going.

“In your case,” Fox continued, “your father is well-known and has a few talented enemies. If you do not want to take on the risk, you are welcome to leave. If you do not make it past the first quarter, no one will likely pay you much attention thereafter.

“But if you continue, there will always be a small risk that someone will try to hurt you or your family, if you choose to have one. This is of course one of the reasons your father never married your mother.”

The comment hit Alan like a ton of bricks. Could it be that his father had a good reason for staying somewhat aloof from him and his mother? The thought had never even occurred to him.

"We will train you to defend yourself, of course. And you will always have an added layer of security around you of which you probably will not even be aware. You should recognize that, if you join one of the schools, you will lose a good deal of privacy for a time.

"Mostly importantly," he added. "We will give you the tools of the trade, shall we say."

"The what?" Alan puzzled.

"Let's just say that once you are equipped, the chance of a successful attack significantly diminish. Thus there is a high motivation to get to you now, like a defenseless egg that has just hatched. Later on, it won't really be worth it."

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