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Prelude: Geburah is a Bitch
A file recovered from Stella's defunct Newton
December 29, 2007
Source: Stella Maris' Newton
Stella Maris scowled and hit “Play” again, cranking up the volume to drown out the telephone. Those background vocals sounded truly horrendous, like screaming hamsters in heat. And there goes that blasted phone again. What was the point of bloody hamster harmonies screaming in parallel fifths? The vocals would definitely have to be completely re-recorded, that’s all there was to it. Sighing, Stella stopped the track and answered the phone.
“What?!”, she shrieked into the receiver, then burst into giggles, aware that her own voice had now taken on the timbre of a screaming hamster. I really need to get back to Paris, she thought, a few Pimms Royale at the Deux Magots would put this dog’s dinner of an album into perspective.
It was Jason, her studio manager. She could hear an echoing radio and the shrieking of air ratchets in the background, he sounded like he was in an auto repair shop.
"The good news is I'm alive," he reported in his usual droll manner, "The bad news is that Hildegard is up on a car ramp again." Stella groaned. Every time she lent one of the recording engineers her car, it got totalled. She had figured that at least, with Jason, there wouldn't be any hassle because it would be his job to get it repaired, anyway, if he damaged it.
"I swear I didn't do anything," Jason continued. "I was backing out of a parking space and the brakes just went, there was brake fluid all over the tarmac. If it had happened on a motorway, I probably would have been killed."
Stella wasn't processing this information at all, her mind still half on the small fortune it would cost to re-record those dire vocals. As his own company car had needed some obscure part at the last minute, Jason had been driving all over the countryside in Stella's BMW, sorting out clients' recording projects in the run-up to Christmas so that they could take the holidays off for the first time in years.
"Idiots," she finally retorted. "BMW just replaced the brakes during the last service, so at least it'll all be under warranty. Just leave Hildegard where she is for now and get her towed back to the dealership in the New Year. Go ahead and take an account cab home."
"It's more complicated than that, I've been trying to phone you for hours." Jason sounded tired now, even after a couple of precious days off.
"I'm already at the dealership, I managed to track the manager down. As soon as they worked out what the problem was they called the police, who sent over a forensics officer." More air ratchets in the background. "A brake pad on the driver's side is missing. It looks like the brake caliper had been contracting, trying to make contact with thin air for about a week before it finally snapped, haemorrhaging brake fluid."
"BMW insist that it isn't faulty workmanship. If the brake pad had broken or dropped out, the wheel well would be scored with debris and this is perfectly clean. The police think it was deliberate - that, by removing the brake pad, the caliper was meant to snap before you even got to the end of your street. It's a tribute to BMW engineering that the mechanism managed to last all week and a complete fluke that I have been driving the car instead of you. In any case, because the remaining functioning brakes would have pulled you away from the traffic before the system drained, they suspect that this stunt was only meant to scare you, not to actually kill you."
"Only meant to scare me?", Stella repeated, resembling a digital delay effect. "Who on earth would want to do something like that? I produce bloody pop music for Chrissakes."
"That's exactly what the police want to find out. They're on their way over to see you now, to determine why someone would want to deliberately sabotage the brakes of your car."
"Oh, shit," said Stella.
Newton Coordinate:- December 27th, Feast Day of Saint John the Evangelist, on the Greenwich Meridian.