The year is 2046.
Across the United States of Europe, millions live under Sharia law in Special Islamic Zones. Four European cities have been contaminated by radioactivity from dirty bombs. In the Middle East, Israel has been incinerated by nuclear war.
In the East London Special Islamic Zone, Aisha Sharizi is on the run from the religious police after having an affair with a kuffar boy. In Sydney, the body of a former cabinet minister is fished out of the harbour. And at the University of the South Coast, failed historian Harry Davidson has just stumbled on a secret that the security services on both sides of the Atlantic are desperate to protect.
The Versailles Memorandum web site
The Versailles Memorandum
Dirty bomb explodes at the Gherkin tower in London (From The Versailles Memorandum pp.14-16)
It took two or three seconds of silence before the screaming began. As people on lower floors began to realize what had happened above them, there was a rush for the stairwells. Many of them remembered New York's Twin Towers collapsing thirteen years earlier. Believing their lives depended on getting out fast, they pushed and squeezed and elbowed and fought and remonstrated with each other as they spilled into the emergency exits and barged their way down a thousand stairs.
Outside, young men in suits covered their heads with newspapers and women lost their high-heeled shoes and sprinted for cover on bloodied feet as the glass rained down and carpeted the plaza with splinters. City workers began to emerge from the restaurants and wine bars in nearby Leadenhall Market, leaving their meals to go cold and their bills unpaid as they joined the gathering swell of people in the street, gazing upwards and asking each other excitedly what had happened.
A bewildered swarm of Japanese tourists clustered together under umbrellas waiting for their tour leader to raise her pennant and tell them which way to go. A visiting American started to record the chaos on his digital camcorder, but a zealous security guard grabbed the camera from him while his wife loudly chided him for ignoring her fat, bleeding forearm. Two young Australian backpackers in shorts and tee-shirts stood gawping under the cover of an awning before texting their sleeping friends in Adelaide on their mobile phones.
In the middle of the sunken plaza, a young mother with a pushchair was trying to pick a jagged fragment of glass from the leg of her screaming toddler while a crowd of office workers escaping from the bombed building surged past her. She was sent sprawling and the child was spilled from its pushchair into a sea of shards and onrushing feet. Nobody stopped to help. Everyone was running, running for their lives.
Far above their heads, dancing and swirling and twisting and floating in the thermals created by the massive heat of the explosion, tiny, unseen particles of cesium chloride dust were carried high up into the air before slowly starting their descent to earth. After a few minutes, this dust began to settle, softly, silently, like tiny flecks of weightless, invisible snow.
It landed on the medieval roof of St Andrew Underschaft Church, the Gherkin's oldest and nearest neighbour. It stuck to the walls and windows of the exclusive boutiques with their displays of Mont Blanc pens, Rolex watches, Yves St Laurent fashionwear and Church's shoes. It clung to the glass elevators swishing up and down the walls of the Lloyds Building across the road.
As it wafted along the pavements and alleyways that cut their narrow swathes through the City district, fine particles fused with the hoods of traffic lights and the fluorescent tubes of street lamps; clung to the tyre treads of buses, the boots of cars and the bonnets of taxis.
The invisible radioactive dust drifted west towards Bishopsgate. It fused with the vertical walls of the Tower 42 Building, and clung to the Great War memorial outside the Bank of England in Threadneedle Street. A few minutes later, traces of dust brushed the branches of trees and blades of grass in the royal parks, and a few particles began dropping like mayflies onto the shimmering surface of the Thames. At the Tower of London, a few fine grains settled on the wings of the ravens. Wafting from the sky like down from a duckling's feathers, it caressed the heads and shoulders and arms and shoes of thousands of unwary Londoners.