Actions

Work Header

Extracts From The Cardiff Book of Hours

Work Text:

"I miss London. This city is like a huge, grey stone that presses down every time I exhale. All it ever did was crush and grind and now I'm trapped in this stinking pit beneath would-be glitterati Cardiff, where we've fucked the ecosystem, and the chips the gulls and the girls from the Valleys are fighting over cost more than they used to. Sometimes when I'm with Lisa, all I can think is that I want to go home, but the Hell of it is that I already have."

Unearthed as part of the cache discovered during foundation excavations for the construction of the Great Cobalt Pyramid, the Cardiff Book of Hours (so named after its author's habit of including small illustrations, and the way he often makes note of cyclical occurrences) is both a spectacular example of diary literature from the cusp of the pre-Earth Empire period as well as a historically significant personal record of early Torchwood protocol prior to the Institute becoming fully public during the mid-21st Century, and the Institute's formal recognition as an independent extra-national entity following the Dalek invasions of the 2160's.

"Spectacular lights above the Bay tonight when I went out to get the takeaway (Spice Merchant). Had a mind not to tell the others about it except that Suzie called my mobile when I was fifty paces from base. Lied, told her I hadn't seen, but now I'm worried they'll check up on my on the CCTV. If they do, I've got to bank on Harkness being the one to want to discipline me instead of her. Funny how rolling around on a warehouse floor after catching a pterodactyl builds rapport."

While the volume appears to be primarily the work of a single author, smaller notes by several other authors appear throughout; most of these are affixed using ferrous metal that attach them to the book's bound leaves. These notes include items as diverse as a printed tract detailing typical social protocols (which historians generally accept as being part of a separate, earlier work) to another that appears to be the lyrics to a long-lost folk song called "My Humps."

"Unsure of what to think of our newest addition. I'd say she's clearly an improvement over Suzie, both in terms of general affect and statistical likelihood of discovering Lisa except that she quite handily discovered Torchwood twice in spite of some competent basic cover-up work. Probably best to keep a low profile with her. Considering Owen's antics, I should be able to get away with anything up to and including a small nuclear explosion."

The volume itself is constructed in a manner consistent with 20th and 21st century manufacturing techniques, though the actual construction borders on archaic for its period. The covers are leather from the terrestrial Earth animal Bos primigenius (an animal commonly kept as livestock until its near-extinction during heavy solar flare activity during the early 29th Century) with a sewn binding. The leaves are made from acid-free bond paper, which suggests that either the author or the book's manufacturer intended that the object should be made to last.

"Harkness says he's coming for Lisa's boxes. Rules and regulations. I told him to get fucked and rang off with sufficiently extreme prejudice that I won't be getting my security deposit back on this flat. We'll see if he's brave enough to try. I know all about rules and regulations. This so-called suspension is just a pretty name for Retcon or a bullet, and it's all the same in the end. I was wrong before. Cardiff isn't a great, crushing stone. It's a sky burial."

That the Cardiff Book of Hours survived at all is something of a miracle. While many of the other objects discovered as part of the Mudflat Cache (named after the natural tidal flats on which the Cobalt Pyramid is still being built) were preserved initially by the Torchwood Institute in small containment units, the book itself was not. The majority of the newly-discovered Cardiff complex was liquidated before being filled and sealed, but the niche in which the cache was untouched. Whether this was by accident design is unknown, but the cache remained so well-protected by that effort it evaded water infiltration until its discovery.

"Shopping today. Coffee, HobNobs, milk, washing-up liquid, etc. Jack's convinced we'll have a slow Rift week, but the last time he said that the bloody Sontarans showed up and the atmosphere exploded. Still, Gwen and I have a wager, but it seems like bad luck to write them out until I have gloating rights."

While we know certain facts about his life – that he was born and raised in Cardiff, that he perceived many things about his personal life to be difficult to broach outside of his work cohort, that he was prone to self-invention rather than owning his origins – the author's name remains lost to us. The Cardiff Book of Hours was not untouched by the ages, and only about 55% of the text has been reconstructed thus far. Still, what remains paints an intimate portrait of the author, of the 21st Century, and of the early Torchwood Institute.

"I don't think about London anymore. Well, that's a lie. I'm writing about it, aren't I? It's like a fever dream now, though. Paperwork, that flat we all swore was a stepping stone to something more flash, Lisa when she was alive and human. It's just I caught myself the other day looking out at the marina at sunset and found myself how fucking brilliant it all is. Granted, I'd just managed not to be eaten by a Hoix, but I felt…happy. Like I belong here with the others. Cardiff is more mad and fantastic than a dozen Londons. It's stupid and twee, but there you go. And with that Disney moment out of the way, I'm off make another go at scrubbing the rest of the Hoix shit out of the SUV."