Unseen academicals

Unseen Academicals
A Novel of Discworld
Terry Pratchett

This book is dedicated to Rob Wilkins, who typed
Most of it and had the good sense to laugh occasionally.
And to Colin Smythe for his encouragement.

The chant of the goddess Pedestriana is a parody of
The wonderful poem ‘Brahma’ by Ralph Waldo Emerson,
But of course you knew that anyway.

IT WAS MIDNIGHT in Ankh-Morpork’s Royal Art Museum.*

It occurred to new employee Rudolph Scattering about once every minute that on the whole it might have
Been a good idea to tell the Curator about his nyctophobia, his fear of strange noises and, he now knew, his
Fear of absolutely every thing he could see (and, come to that, not see), hear, smell and feel crawling up his
Back during the endless hours on guard during the night. It was no use telling himself that everything in here
Was dead. That didn’t help at all. It meant that he stood out.

And then he heard the sob. A scream might have been better. At least you are certain when you’ve heard a
Scream. A faint sob is something you have to wait to hear again, because you can’t be sure.

He raised his lantern in a shaking hand. There shouldn’t be anyone in here. The place was securely locked;
No one could get in. Or, now he came to think about it, out. He wished he hadn’t thought about it.

He was in the basement, which was not among the most scary places on his round. It was mostly just old
Shelves and drawers, full of the things that were almost, but very definitely not entirely, thrown away.
Museums don’t like things to be thrown away, in case they turn out to be very important later on.

Another sob, and a sound like the scraping of…pottery?

A rat, then, somewhere on the rear shelves? Rats didn’t sob, did they?

‘Look, I don’t want to have to come in there and get you!’ said Scattering with heartfelt accuracy.

And the shelves exploded. It seemed to him to happen in slow motion, bits of pottery and statues spreading
Out as they drifted towards him. He went over backwards and the expanding cloud passing overhead
Crashed into the shelves on the other side of the room, which were demolished.

Scattering lay on the floor in the dark, unable to move, expecting at any moment to be torn apart by the
Phantoms bubbling up from his imagination…

The day staff found him there in the morning, deeply asleep and covered in dust. They listened to his garbled
Explanation, treated him kindly, and agreed that a different career might suit his temperament. They
Wondered for a while about what he had been up to, night watchmen being rather puzzling people at the best
Of times, but put it out of their heads…because of the find.

Mr Scattering then got a job in a pet shop in Pellicool Steps, but left after three days because the way the
Kittens stared at him gave him nightmares. The world can be very cruel to some people. But he never told
Anyone about the gloriously glittering lady holding a large ball over her head who smiled at him before she
Vanished. He did not want people to think he was strange.

But perhaps it is time to talk about beds.

Lectrology, the study of the bed and its associated surroundings, can be extremely useful and tell you a great
Deal about the owner, even if it’s only that they are a very knowing and savvy installations artist.

The bed of Archchancellor Ridcully of Unseen University, for example, is at the very least a bed and a half,
Being an eight-poster.

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Unseen academicals