professor zender's experiment - 1. encounter in a back street
by coraline o'connell
illustrated by roy dismas, rhoda penmarq and konrad kraus
a back street, in a city somewhere in europe. in old europe. but then, all europe is old, is it not? old and very tired. ah, dear reader, i did not mean to put you off so quickly. bear with me.
where were we? a city somewhere in europe. our tale will deal with exiles - the self-exiled and the not-so-self-exiled. an easterly city, then - trieste, potsdam, baden-baden? perhaps one of the faded cultural glories of the weary continent - venice, florence? or even one of the monstrous modern metropolises, where all or anything can be lost or hidden - paris, berlin? in any case, a back street. but near the water. a sea, a river, a canal. but are not most cities near water? humans, being living creatures, naturally congregate near water. thank you, professor, for that insight.
so. twilight, a back street, a boat hooting in the distance. in an old city. let us take our time here. no? ah, dear modern reader, so impatient, so impatient! let me meet you halfway. despite our ancient setting, let me assure that the tale we are about to unfold will not deal with the old at all, but with the new! the newest of the new, the most modern of the modern! but the new, being new, is always threatened by the old, is it not? therefore it must proceed slowly, cautiously - at first, only at first! and hide itself among what is old, like a phoenix burrowing beneath the ashes, prior to bursting forth in all its unique glory! let us, likewise, proceed cautiously. but only at the beginning, i assure you.