Preview of
Professor Howe and the Moon Maker


A short, roly-poly woman of mature years with a mane of unmanageable salt-and-pepper hair stood leaning lightly on one of her ski poles. She took a deep breath as she puffed heavily. She was getting too old for this. 

She was wearing an unflattering scarlet Mammut jacket and ski pant combo with Atomic Bent Chetler 100 skis and a Nordace Siena Smart Backpack. It wouldn’t have looked out of place at Klosters, but it made her look like a giant glacé cherry. Exactly why she was dressed in such a manner and standing on a snow-covered mountainside somewhere in Switzerland was a long story and one not worth delving into here. What was important though was that she had the item and no one knew about her theft… 

…no one that is except the entire complex around three hundred feet away from her resting spot that was. 

Sirens blared out in anger above her as she set about skiing back down the mountain. Escape was crucial otherwise the risks she had already taken would be worth nothing. She set about sliding gently across the snow in her descent to safety as her pursuers appeared.  

Blanco and Unravellec were dressed in a clichéd black uniform, wearing skis and carrying machine guns. They were the on-duty security staff and deployed their downhill skills to a world class standard. They were eating up the ground between them and the thief fast and they didn’t evenhave to use a knife and fork.  Closing in, they raised their weapons and let off a volley with their fearsome M2-Browings. 

The spray of bullets missed their target and fizzed harmlessly through the air. It was not as if the thief zagged and zigged, but more that she increased her speed rapidly as life preservation took hold by diving down a particularly precipitous gully. Bravely, considering her lack of skiing ability, she took the steepest route in a desperate bid to get away. 

More bullets flew – bursting through the top of the snow and falling short of the skier who was now holding her distance. She wasn’t skiing particularly well; she was extremely uncoordinated with arms and legs flailing everywhere and yet somehow she was moving as quickly as the proficient security on her tail. 

It was more by luck than any form of judgement that she was still alive. Instinctively as the pursuers fired again, she ducked but there was no need. She was out of range. She turned her head and grinned as she saw the men in black pull up to a halt. She had escaped. 

Facing back down the mountain she quickly realised that the relief she felt was a brief intermission. The snow-covered mountain was running out rapidly. She tried to stop but lacked the skill and ability and just plunged headlong off the cliff. 

Blanco and Unravellec grinned like archetypical villains at the thief’s demise. They were about to congratulate themselves on their good work when there was a loud clang from beyond the precipice. Peering toward the bright sunlight and the snow glare, they could have sworn they saw the rotundfigure scrambling on top of what appeared to be a giant floating metal cake tin which was rising slowly above the cliff edge. Unholstering their weapons again, they opened fire. 

Aboard the floating metal disc, the woman was scrambling to get a grip. Her head was full of all number of mixed up, messed up thoughts including where was the key to her craft and how hard and painful landing on metal could be when you jump from thirty feet. The dangner, however, had not passed. Her hands slid, almost frictionless across the metal, and she was running out of flying saucer to cling onto. Just in time as she was about to plunge over the edge, she finally managed to get a good grip.  

Hanging precariously from the rim of her strange ship, it was perfect target practice for the armed pursuers. They skied closer to get her back in range and opened fire again. As the metal flying saucer rose through the air, they were still shooting. It wasn’t a question of the thief escaping capture or surviving; it was just a matter of the precise second of her demise. 

The woman thief was clinging onto the metal edge with one hand and desperately rummaging in her pockets with the other. 

“Damn and cocks,” she mumbled to herself as a bullet whistled past her ear. “Where did I put my key…”  

“Give us back what you stole right now and we might not kill you,” screamed Blanco. 

“I wouldn’t shout like that,” the woman replied, her grip slipping slightly. “You’ll only go and cause an avalanche.” 

Blanco looked nervous and looked quizzically at his friend and colleague with raised eyebrows. 

“Don’t listen to her,” said Unravellec in his faux-French accent. “There’s been barely enough snow to ski on thanks to climate change. There’s not been a blizzard for over a month.” 

Grinning like a Cheshire Cat, Blanco raised his weapon. “Nice try, but I’m not falling for that,” he shouted back. “Before I shoot you, tell me who the hell you are!” 

She cursed again and, in a rare moment of clarity, she remembered something that was quite important. Before this daring escapade, she had finally managed to fix the voice recognition door release which had not worked for the past five hundred years. 

“The name’s Howe, Professor Howe”, said the woman and the door to her craft slid open.  More pleased than the first Beatles album, she jumped inside. 


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