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Excerpt of Dining Out On Planet Mercury by Clare O'Beara

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Dining Out Around The Solar System #4
Author Self-Published
August 2017
On Sale: August 18, 2017
Featuring: Donal; Myron; Surrune
158 pages
ISBN: 1910544094
EAN: 978-1-910544-
Kindle: B074Y53JMX
e-Book
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Science Fiction, Science Fiction Romance, Mystery Amateur Sleuth

Also by Clare O'Beara:

A Dog For Lockdown, September 2020
e-Book
A Dozen Dogs Or So: New Edition, July 2020
e-Book
Dogs Of Every Day: New Edition, July 2020
e-Book
A Pony For Quarantine, June 2020
e-Book
Dining Out On Planet Mercury, August 2017
e-Book
Murder Against The Clock, September 2016
e-Book
Dining Out with the Gas Giants, September 2015
e-Book
Rodeo Finn, November 2014
e-Book
Show Jumping Team, September 2014
e-Book
The Prisoner In The Tower, September 2014
e-Book
Dining Out With The Ice Giants, September 2014
e-Book
The Prisoner In The Tower: Short Story & Big Cat Bones, September 2014
e-Book
Murder at Dublin Mensa, September 2013
e-Book
Murder at Irish Mensa, September 2013
e-Book
Murder At Scottish Mensa, September 2013
e-Book
Murder At Kildare Mensa, September 2013
e-Book
Dining Out Around The Solar System, September 2013
e-Book
Murder At Wicklow Mensa, September 2013
e-Book
Silks And Sins, August 2013
e-Book

Excerpt of Dining Out On Planet Mercury by Clare O'Beara

DINING OUT ON PLANET MERCURY PART ONE The media live on caffeine, with just a few exceptions, so when I was asked to be an official escort for a murder suspect from Mercury, my first thought was not delight, but that I would have to endure caffeine withdrawal. I’m not proud of the fact that I hesitated. Myron and I were enjoying the late summer afternoon sun looking over the roofs of London. At this time of year lots of pop-up bars and cafés open to serve the tourists; some of them to serve the locals who want to escape the flow of tourists. This was a pop-up rooftop bar, high on a building in the City, also called the Square Mile. Across the Thames from us at the far end of London Bridge was the elegant Shard, now casting a long shadow. Golden light gleamed on famous landmarks, while tiny dark people were visible, antlike, on the walkways outside the green dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral. Those people were elevated from the street but their view didn’t compare with our roof in the modern banking district. Nearby we could also see the poking flame atop the pillar of the Monument to the Great Fire. On one occasion, I’d told the tour guide at the Monument that this edifice featured in 'Stone Heart'. He’d never read it. Summer’s West End riots had been summarily quashed, the participants identified and jailed. The City streets we’d strolled through had been filled with young men, bankers and gamblers, as Myron referred to stockbrokers, all standing outside work in white shirts, suit trousers and ties, with pints of beer and affable expressions. Tourists were brightly and casually dressed, in the main, while young locals wore t-shirts, ripped jeans which were cooler for summer, micromesh scuffs to let air get to feet, skimpy tops, short skirts, flat sandals. Food, drink and the general scent of humanity wafted up on the warm air. Other than the nightly exchange of air from the North Sea outside the Thames Estuary, there hadn’t been a breath of wind in weeks. “You could work this in as an adult entertainment review,” I was saying. “Given the gorgeous tour guide.” The lady in question was a striking young blonde woman from Australia who was roller-skating around guests at the edges of the roof answering questions about what everyone could see, such as the Gherkin, Cheesegrater, Walkie-talkie buildings nearby, Tower Bridge and the new banking district of Canary Wharf to the east. She wore a flower-printed bikini and sarong. Myron had already tried to chat her up but she was too professional to spend long with one group. The bar staff were more usually dressed in white polo shirts and navy shorts as they served beer and cider, wine or soft drinks. I noticed a tourist wearing a t-shirt which read ‘I Stand With The Miami Boat People’. “Sure, but it’s fine for anyone. Might bring the saucepan lids up here on the weekend,” he returned, meaning kids. Myron was a single man at this point but his Cockney side of the family contained many first cousins, all younger, and he looked after them at times. Myron is one-quarter Jamaican, three-quarters Stepney. “Is that the young cousins you used to bring to family days out?” asked George, one of our editors. “’At’s right. They’re doing great. Young Jake is well into his teens now, he wants to be a hack when he grows up.” “He is grown up,” I said with a chuckle. “Tall lad.” “They grow like weeds these days,” said George, an affectionate note in his voice. “Must be the heat. London is five or six degrees warmer than Bristol though. It’s autumn already at home.” “Urban heat island effect,” I agreed. “How is Flynn? He seemed like a bright lad.” “Enjoying Bristol University. He’s had the summer to work and get experience.” George had been our first editor; when he stepped back to being an assistant editor he could work from home, so home then became his family’s house in Bristol. His wife worked in Bristol University. He’d come up for a conference and to talk matters over with the rest of the editors, prior to the autumn’s general election, so when his meetings were over for the day we’d naturally collared him. He’d been strict, but he’d taught us well, and he was probably the best friend we’d ever had. “You messed that one up badly,” had been his first words to us today. “Yes,” we’d said, hanging heads. Then we dragged him off for a drink. I’ve described our early years with the zine 'London’s Eye' elsewhere; suffice to say that this was the first time we’d drunk with an editor outside the Christmas party or a staff social evening. George was a well-built man, with brown hair, now greying, trimmed because of the meetings. He looked fitter and in better shape than many citygoers, who don’t get the good fresh rural air. Today he was wearing a pale shirt, with a dark tie which was now stuffed into a pocket of the jacket he’d dropped onto his chair. Plain black scuffs ended his black trousers. Myron is a handsome, smart looking Jafraican guy, with short hair and no beard today; this varied. His face is long rather than round, and he smiles frequently. His shirt was a particularly decorative short-sleeved one he’d picked up in Rio on our way home from South America. This made it appear as though many-hued tropical birds were sharing our rooftop eyrie. He wore dark jeans and odd scuffs, a bottle green one and a brown and black one. This footwear was the height of fashion. I wore odd scuffs too, though they were both black. My trousers were black and my shirt was white. Nothing new for me. The trousers had solar panels on the sides of the thighs, soaking up sunlight to trickle charge my fast- charger which kept my gadgets fed as I required. I have that pale skin, lightly tanned after summer, and bright red short hair and blue eyes, which let you know I’m Irish before I open my mouth and confirm the guess. My accent and phrases have been modified, of course, by living in London since the age of ten. The flat roof with waist-high edge walls was laid out as a green roof patio. Many of the plants were in tubs, like little lemon and orange trees and bay bushes, but a central area was permanent with tight, tough ground cover, horizontal cotoneaster, heathers, hebes, rosemary, thyme and lavender, centring on clumps of bamboo with black stems. The whole effect was of a varied and fragrant shrubbery. I heard a faint buzz and traced it to a couple of bumblebees, happily visiting flowers, though goodness knows how they’d found their way up here. Maybe the hot air was buoyant. A former girlfriend of Myron’s had tipped us off about the location because she was involved in the plant maintenance. Green roofs and even green vertical walls are increasingly popular because cities are getting more densely built up and the plants absorb heat and water. But most roof gardens incorporate bamboos and grasses, because they cope with the drying winds, rather than anything which is useful to the native insects and birds. The guide squawked enthusiasm about a launch from Stansted. People had mainly been facing the Thames, south of us, because that was where the sun lay; they moved to the north side of the building, jostled to see over heads. We looked anywhere but nor-nor-east. Both Myron and I were from mining families, meaning asteroid mining. George was watching us, a saddened smile on his face. “You doing okay, lads?” he asked. “Yeah,” we assured him. “It’s gone quiet though. No more insider tales.” “We may have got all we can. The penalties they’d face for speaking to a journalist are just too great. You’ll just have to wait for the right opportunity.” I stared across roofs at a giant temporary geodesic dome. This, with transparent panels, covered a building site, and I could see machinery working under the cover, bright reds and yellows. Machines don’t need a dome, but people do, now the climate has warmed. The domes are air conditioned so that people can work all day on building sites during summer. At the end of the contract the dome would be dismantled. Then my phone rang. “You carry phones now?” asked George as I took it out and checked. “Yes and no,” said Myron, and I heard him explain that we were phonable only via the zine reception and rotated the phones around the zine stock weekly, as I spoke to Frances in the office. “Police officer looking for you, Donal,” she said, reassuringly calm. “In connection with?” “He said he was recommended to contact you by the Mercurian Embassy in Holland Park.” “Put him through,” I said, nodding. “Thanks.”

Excerpt from Dining Out On Planet Mercury by Clare O'Beara
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