I felt like writing another Holly Jahangiri story, so I did. Holly Jahangiri is a real person who won two contests to have her name in a story, and has thus become a regular character of mine. The Holly stories take place on Llannonn, the world I invented for my science fiction comic crime novel, FORCE OF HABIT. Pel Darzin is a character in that novel, although Holly didn’t come along until later.
This is also the fulfillment of the Quills and Quibbles writing group’s writing exercise for this month.
Holly Unravels A Plot
by Marian Allen
In the common room of the family lodge in a tiny village in Meadow of Flowers Province of the planet Llannonn, Elderly Spinster Holly Jahangiri sat knitting a pratty harness for her youngest nephew. She smiled as she worked, seemingly absorbed in her task, while two visitors from Council City talked to her.
“Frankly, we’re baffled,” said the older of the two men, head of the Planetary Smuggling Stoppage Taskforce. “PSST has no clue how these people pass information to one another. We know who they are, but they take sadistic delight in thwarting us.”
Dunnllevvy had come at the behest of his friend, Retired Policing Chief Pel Darzin, who said, “You helped me so often when you were Head Librarian of the Living Library in Council City, I thought perhaps you could help Dunnllevvy.”
“I can try.”
“You see,” said Dunnllevvy, “these two fellows – Call them Suspected Felon A and Suspected Felon B – have been spending credits they shouldn’t have, given their legal employment. It’s coming from somewhere, and it always comes just after a wave of contraband goods hits the streets.”
“What sort of contraband?”
“Oh, nasty stuff! Sugary sweets, unattractive hair dye, paintings on black velvet, that sort of rot.”
Holly tsked and shook her head sadly. What was Llannonn coming to? It was quite different from when she was a girl.
“But,” Dunnllevvy went on, “the two never meet. We monitor their communications, and they never communicate. They don’t go to the same places. They don’t know the same people. Darzin, here, picked up on a silly thing and dragged me away from the investigation to talk to you about it.”
“Perhaps it is silly,” Darzin said, “but it’s the only thing the two have in common. They both patronize the Council City Living Library, and they’ve checked the same book out several times each.”
“That’s odd, indeed,” said Holly, knitting needles clicking in a ladylike staccato.
“After Darzin pointed it out, I withdrew the book, myself, and had him recite himself to me. Darzin was there. What did you think, Darzin?”
“Wonderful book,” Darzin said. “Very strange. Very funny. It’s no wonder the suspected felons like it well enough to listen to it more than once.”
“What’s the book?” Holly asked.
“THE THIEF OF TIME by Terry Pratchett.”
“Oh, one of my favorites! I thought he had retired. A new copy must have come in.”
“He’s rather young,” Darzin noted.
“Frankly,” said Dunnllevvy, “you’re welcome to it. Rubbish, I thought.” He snorted. “The table of contents was the best thing about it.”
Holly stopped knitting. “I beg your pardon? What did you say?”
Somewhat defensively, Dunnllevvy repeated, “I said the table of contents was the best thing about the rubbishy book.”
“Taskforce Head Melkorp Dunnllevvy,” said Holly, “arrest those men, and arrest that book! I know how they’re passing information. I’ve read THE THIEF OF TIME. It isn’t broken into chapters. It has no table of contents!”
~ * ~
Any resemblance between the characters in this story and any Miss Marple, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: Write a story of 500 words or FEWER using the words contraband, table, and sadistic.
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