Gah. There's this new fantasy novel out called Tome of the Undergates by Sam Sykes, and I keep seeing it in bookshops and mentioned in blogs and every time I see it I misread it as "Tome of the Undergraduates".
I think my title would make for a much more interesting book
Skarek felt his rage blossom into something powerful and dangerous, a thrumming current, like an unseen rush of water felt through a stone wall. "Oh yes," he muttered, "my rage makes me powerful." A glow filled the edges of his vision, a dull orange pulse. He felt as if a forest fire were raging at his back. He turned to his nemesis, that fool Belosuk, and spoke with a voice like thunder, like hammers on anvils, like the groan of the earth itself.
"Do the f--king dishes NOW, Bel!" Skarek reached forth, effortless, extending only a single finger, and Belosuk's bong vanished into vapour.
"Jesus, Ska!" Belosuk shouted. "I'd just packed the cone!"
As Derek approached the lair of the beast he could feel the fear begin to rise in him. Wozza had returned from here half the man he had been and what happened to Boz was the subject of much whispered conjection in the mead halls of the campus. "They say only his uggboots were found!" "I heard someone found his head in the Great Refectory, still wearing his fedora!" "The Librarians took him! They took him and buried his corpse in a place no one ever goes: the Welsh Philosophy stacks!"
Nervously fingering the talisman the witchwoman had given him, he took a nervous step down the darkening hall. With each step his heart beat faster; with each step the urge to flee screaming out into the night became stronger. His feet became heavier as he walked, the air thickened with scents emanting from the dread portal of the lair: marijuana, tweed and, underneath it all, blood. The stench filled his head 'til he thought it would burst, yet at the very moment when he thought he could take no more he found himself standing before the portal itself. The portal of death and madness.
Swallowing compulsively, he knocked once a pushed it open revealing hell.
Textbooks piled on textbooks disappeared in great towers beyond his ability to see them. The dirt compacted floor was riven with great cracks from which roaring flames burst, while hanging from the walls on hooks where the still writhing forms of undergraduates that had not submitted their papers on time. Dominating it all was great desk, stained with blood and scored with the marks of a thousand knives, while upon on it teetering in great heaps were back issues of the Green Left Weekly. And there, behind the desk, was the object of his quest.
It sat wreathed in smoke and darkness, an indistinct form possibly that of a man and possibly of something much, much worse. It watched him, waiting.
"Um" squeaked Derek. "Um....I would like to ask, uh, to ask....for an extension."
For moment there was no response. For a moment there was a flicker of hope, then with guttural growl the beast of shadow leapt at him. Before he could react, before he even had time to piss himself in fear, he found himself pinned to the ground, a great taloned hand clasped around his neck, the beast's indistinct face pressed close to his. The growling grew worse.
Clutching his talisman even tighter with his free hand he brought it between the beast and himself. "Please" he gasped, "I have a note from my doctor..."
The growling stopped. There was a pause in which Derek was sure his beating heart was the only sound in the world. Then a slit split the beast's formless head where its mouth would be and revealed rows of shiny, needle sharp teeth in the cruel parody of a smile.
"Well then" said the beast in a voice that made his bowels somersault "let's see what we can do for you, Mr Derek...."