'Jennifer Strange,' I replied, handing him a brochure and rate-card.
There was a pause.
'Can I speak to someone in charge?'
'Oh!' he said apologetically. 'You seemed a little young.'
'I'm sixteen in two weeks I think think,' I said. 'And I've had a driver's licence since I was thirteen. You can talk to me.'
The Kingdom of Hereford was unique in the Ununited Kingdoms for having driving tests based on maturity, not age, much to the chagrin of a lot of males, some of whom were still failing to make the grade at thirty-two.
'Commendable, Miss Strange, but I usually speak to Mr Zambini.'
'Mr Zambini is regrettably... unavailable right now.'
'Where is he?'
'Indisposed,' I replied firmly. 'How can I help?'
'Very well,' said Mr Trimble, once he could see I would not be moved. 'I represent the Consolidated Useful Stuff Land Development Corporation.'
'I'm sorry to hear that,' I replied. 'But unless you you really want to change, there's not a lot we can do.' really want to change, there's not a lot we can do.'
'I don't regard it as a problem, Miss Strange,' he replied testily.
'Oh,' I said, having got the wrong end of the stick, 'sorry.'
'Never mind. Do you have any reliable pre-cogs on your books?'
'I have two,' I answered happily, glad that this morning wouldn't be all bad news. The Consolidated Useful Stuff Land Development Corporation was the property arm of Consolidated Useful Stuff, and there wasn't much that ConStuff didn't do and own. They even had their own kingdom in the chain of islands to the east of Trollvania, which managed to make cheap and shabby goods far more cheaply and shabbily than anyone else a clear advantage that allowed them to dominate the Ununited Kingdoms' cheap and shabby goods market. It was said that of every pound, spondoolip, dollop, acker or moolah spent, one in six went into ConStuff's pocket. No one much liked them, but few didn't shop there. ConWearStuff had recently introduced an 'all you can wear for five moolah' section, and on my miserable allowance, I couldn't afford to shop anywhere else. To my credit, I felt guilty afterwards.
'Two pre-cogs?' said Trimble, taking a chequebook from his pocket. 'That's excellent news. I wonder if any of them have predicted the death of the loathsome Maltca.s.sion recently?'
I hope he didn't see me flinch.
'Well,' continued Mr Trimble genially, 'it's just that my aunt had a vision last night of the Dragon's death.'
'Did she say when?'
'No; this year, tomorrow, who knows? She's only rated a 629.8, so her predictions are a bit wild. But I can't ignore it. All that land ripe for claiming. The precise time of the Dragon's death would be invaluable to a property developer, if you get my meaning. Land is so much better managed when there is only one company administering it. Having the general p
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