C L Spillard

The Blackmail Engine

Two hundred years after the Black Flash destroyed all electronics on earth Harry Neville, runaway dissident bearing a secret from his own country, is hidden by Night Huntress Katya Yablokova and the people of her village.

Harry accepts an offer of shelter from the Commissar of St Lenins (formerly St Petersburg, Russia) but Katya, now working for law guardians White Watch, discovers the Commissar intends to blackmail him into sharing his secret - the Enhanced Difference Engine - and use it to enslave the city.

Then Katya, colour-blind and out of her element in summertime St Lenins where no night comes, herself falls victim to blackmail: from White Watch...

“So, Commissar: the idea of Enhanced Tithe, and White Watch to uphold it by ‘Watching from Above’, was born out of poverty: out of desperation. But we find that it still works well, and performs a necessary task, to this day.”

The Countess opened the file.

“The miscreant is, with the utmost discretion, informed of the price and arrangements for payment. And of the consequences of failure to pay. Among other things display of the crime in the Hermitage: the Profumo Gallery, which I believe takes that amusing name from a scandal in Anglia in the mid-twentieth century.”

“Yes. I’ve seen the gallery: a most entertaining exhibition. But tell me, how are enough details known?”

“Witnesses, Commissar,”  she lowered her voice,  “Witnesses are everywhere.”

“But, for example, a crime committed in a bedroom_”

“Even in bedrooms, Commissar.” Noting his discomfiture, she pressed her advantage: “Especially in bedrooms.”