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Open Sesame

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Open Sesame

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Author: Tom Holt
Publisher: Orbit, 1997

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Book Type: Novel
Genre: Fantasy
Sub-Genre Tags: Fairytale Fantasy
Comic Fantasy
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There was something wrong! Just as the boiling water was about to be poured on his head and the man with the red book appeared and his life flashed before his eyes, Akram the Terrible, the most feared thief in Baghdad, knew this had happened before. Many times. And he was damned if he was going to let it happen again. Just because he was a character in a story didn't mean that it always had to end this way.

Meanwhile, back in Southampton, it's a bit of a shock for Michelle when she puts on her Aunt Fatima's ring and the computer and the telephone start to bitch at her for past misdemeanors. But that's nothing compared to the story that her kitchen appliances have to tell her.


Michelle woke up.

If she'd been on the jury when Macbeth was brought to trial for murdering sleep, she'd have argued for an acquittal on the grounds of justifiable homicide. Loathsome stuff, sleep; it fogs your brain and leaves the inside of your mouth tasting like a badly furred kettle.

"Wakey wakey," trilled the alarm clock. "Rise and shine."

"Oh shut up," Michelle grunted. She'd been in the middle of a very nice dream, and now she couldn't remember a thing about it. She nuzzled her head into the pillow, trying to find the spot where she'd left the dream, but it had gone, leaving no forwarding address.

"Jussa minute," she said. "Did you just say something?'

Tick, replied the clock.

"Shut up," Michelle replied, "and make the tea."

It was a radio alarm clock teamaker, a fee gift from an insurance company - free in the sense that all she'd had to do in order to receive it was promise to pay them huge sums of money every month for the rest of her natural life. She'd managed to disconnect the radio, but the tea-making aspect still functioned, albeit in a somewhat heavy-handed manner. First, there was a rumbling; until you were used to it, you assumed something nasty was happening deep in the earth's crust, and expected to see molten lava streaming off the bedside table and onto the carpet. After the rumbling came the whistling, which generally put Michelle in mind of a swarm of locusts being slowly microwaved. The whistling was followed by the gurgling, the snorting and the Very Vulgar Noise; and then you could have your tea. You were also, of course, wide awake. If God has one of these machines, then He'll be able to use it to wake the dead come Judgment Day. And have a nice cup of tea ready and waiting for them, of course.

"Drink it while it's hot."

Michelle blinked. If this was still the dream, it had taken a turn for the worse and frankly, she didn't like its tone. She raised her head and gave the clock a long, bleary stare.

"What did you just say?" she asked.

Needless to say, the clock didn't answer. Clocks don't; apart, of course, from the Speaking Clock, and there the problem is to get a word in edgeways. Not that it ever listens to a word you say. Michelle shook her head in an effort to dislodge the low cloud that seemed to have hot into it during the night, and swung her feet over the edge of the bed.

It was half past eight.

"Oh hell!" she shrieked. "You stupid machine, why didn't you tell me?"

Scattering bedclothes, she lunged for the bathroom and started to turn on taps. So loud was the roar of running water that she didn't hear a little voice replying, somewhat resentfully, that she hadn't asked.

Copyright © 1997 by Tom Holt


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