The brakes screeched like fingernails across a blackboard and Professor Griffin, bringing to mind the awakening of Frankenstein’s monster, opened his eyes. Squinting at his pocketwatch, he was baffled by the delay. He cursed British Rail for his missed connection and himself for giving his publisher, Teddy, another excuse to read him the riot act.
“Oh, hell,” said Griffin when the train pulled in; the station sign welcomed him not to Peterborough but instead to London Kings Cross.
Griffin bought a ticket for the last northbound train and dashed to a payphone. “Looking forward to the manuscript,” said Teddy, “though I do wish you’d trade in your HB for something more twentieth century.”
Griffin tapped his hip, then dropped the receiver. He began trembling like a California quake, clutched his chest and, hearing the muffled sound of a station announcement, collapsed in a gasping heap. His satchel, along with eleven years of blood, sweat and worn-down pencils, was gone.