Lost Memories…

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Christine Freemantle awoke gently, finding herself on a new bed, but one made up of plastic sheets.  The wallpaper seemed different too, ever so clinical she thought to herself.

I haven’t decorated any of the rooms like this, or have I, she thought to herself.  Slowly lifting herself off the bed, she stepped over to the window, opening the blinds.  She wanted to look out, and gaze at the rolling hills and trees, and maybe the odd bird or two.

Instead she was horrified, instead of hills and trees, she saw institutionalised concrete buildings each and every where she looked, not a single grassed area, anywhere.  More disquieting to Christine, were bars on the windows.

“So, what are the bars doing here?  Where am I?”

She glanced about the room, and heard a scream come from somewhere, then another scream.  Then a man wearing a white coat burst into her room.  He looked familiar, but she could not place, where she had seen him before.

He grasped her shoulders tightly.

With a forceful voice, he asked “What is your name?”

I gazed blankly at him, and I couldn’t for the life of me, remember my name, as I burst into tears.

“Damn,” he muttered quietly to himself, as he ran his fingers through his blonde hair.  “I want you to listen very carefully to me.  Ok.”

I nodded in response.

“Your name is Christine Freemantle, and you are a medical officer,” he firmly said.  “You are being treated at the Plymouth Institute and recovering from a nervous breakdown you suffered six months ago.  I am your doctor; Christian Holland.”  Hoping to see some glint of recognition in her eyes, as if it were all coming back to her.

“Doctor, I am trying to retain my composure as best as I can,” replied Christine, as she felt the stinging of tears against the back of her eyes, as she blinked.

Dr.Holland looked thoughtful for a moment, leaning against the wall.  His hand went for his chin, as if he was stroking the beard, he recently removed. “I think you are ready for something a little less heavy-handed.  I will have it ordered.  It will let you relax, using your memories as backup to recovery.  With no after effects,” he smiled.

She nodded slightly, withholding a supreme feeling of accomplishment behind her wee smile.  This is a real sign of improvement, she thought, to herself.

She heard the door close, and the lock shut tight.  She cried …

Finding love on the net

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“Daniel!  How much longer are you going to be on that blasted computer?” Susie spoke in a frustrated voice, “you seem to spend every minute on it when you’re at home.

“Daniel slowly looked up from his monitor and gazed upon the interruption from his partner Susie.

“I didn’t know you were sitting there,” he replied in a casual manner.

Susie glared at him.

“I’ve been sitting here for the past half hour,” said Susie and all you’ve been doing is surfing the internet, what for, to see what you can spend our hard-earned cash on.”

“Wouldn’t it be nice if you gave me the same attention you give to that machine,” she asked in an angry sounding voice.”

Daniel’s manner became crafty.  But I could Susie, if you would only let me buy those much needed attachments I keep telling you about.  That faster modem, processor and larger hard disk to cope with the new programs.  Then surfing would be so much faster and with all the time I’d save we could…

Susie rose to her feet, stormed from the room, slamming the door in disgust as she left.  “I suppose that’s a no,” he said to himself.

He returned to his keyboard, wiped the screen of the web-site he had been looking at and entered the address of his special one, when Susie wasn’t around.  “If you can’t beat them,” he said softly to himself.

The following day Susie noticed Daniel had gone off to work in his taxi as usual.  Leaving his computer switched on again.  She meaningfully strode over to the machine, intending to turn it off, but her action froze in mid air.  Daniel had left it connected to the last web-site he’d been looking at, and her eyes were stunned by the words on the screen:

‘meetamate’ said the heading.

Open-mouthed, Susie read the captions beneath.

Bored?  Lonely?  Looking for that special someone?  If so, just click the box.  We have girls and guys waiting to meet you.

They’re waiting.

They’re on-line.  Now!

It was a computerised ads column!  Daniel was using his computer to talk to other girls…perhaps while she was even in the same room!  Furiously Susie reached out to cut the hateful machine off in its prime and yank its plug from the wall.

She stopped abruptly, staring at the screen.  There were two columns listing guys and girls to be talked to via the Internet.  There were dozens of females, she noted but only one male: Mark.

Next to his name was a flashing yellow box.  Click here, it said.

Cautiously Susie sat down in front of the machine and reached for the mouse.  She faltered for a moment, then moved it towards Mark’s name.

If he can do it so can I, she said to herself, as she clicked the box.

The screen cleared, and for a moment, nothing happened.  Then all of a sudden a message flashed up.

Hi. I’m Mark.  What’s your name?

Susie jumped and couldn’t stop herself looking around to check that she was really alone in the room.  When she turned back to the screen, the words were still there, glowing quietly.  Feeling foolish, she tapped in her name.

There was a pause, and then more words appeared on the screen.

That’s a nice name.  Tell me about yourself, Susie.

Susie blushed, but she couldn’t help it.  Nobody had ever told her Susie was a nice name before.  Certainly, Daniel never had, but then Daniel hardly ever paid her a compliment of any kind.

Settling back in the chair, Susie began to tell Mark all about herself.

Daniel slowly poked his head nervously round the door after returning home from work, later that evening.  “I’m sorry about last night,” he said, as soon as he saw Susie.

She got up from the couch, slowly strode over to the door where he was nervously standing and kissed him on the cheek.

“No,” she said.  “I’m sorry, it was my fault.”

Daniel gulped.  “You are?”

She nodded her head.  Yes, I was being selfish; I should take more of an interest in your hobbies.

“You should?”

Susie nodded again.  Yes she said.  To prove it, why don’t we sit down right now, have a look through some magazines and you can order those things you wanted for that machine of yours?

She took him by the hand and gently steered him over to the settee where a cup of coffee and a pile of glossy computer magazines were placed on the side table.

Daniel swallowed again.  You mean, I can get that modem, processor, and the hard disk.

“Will that make talking to people over the Internet quicker?”  Daniel nodded slowly.  She poured him a coffee.  “Then that’s just what I mean.”  Susie said in a meaningful manner.

Talking to Mark has been a revelation, but as Daniel had always told her, it was so frustratingly

The man from the Computer shop was round two days later to install some of the equipment that Daniel and Susie had ordered.

“It’s rare to find a girl who knows her ROM from her RAM,” he said with a cheeky grin.  I’ve had a very good teacher, said Susie.  She thought to herself, he had very nice eyes and a charming manner.

Mark was assembling a new machine at the workbench in his Computer shop, when the door flew open and Daniel stormed in.  Mark slowly rose, his words of greeting were frozen by the harsh look on Daniel’s face, as he advanced in a menacing manner, slowly Mark backed away.  “Is there something wrong?” he asked.

“You could say that,” Daniel snapped.

“But Daniel,” he protested, I did everything you told me to.

A few moments later Mark and Daniel were sitting at the rear of the Computer shop.  Mark summoned up all the tact he could manage.  What is wrong?

Daniel remained silent.

I mean. I set up that dummy site as we agreed with my name on it.  I sat around waiting for her to click on to it and when she did, I spent hours talking to her, taking it slowly as you said.  It went great.  In return, you got the bits and pieces for your computer, and I got the profits from the sales.  What could have gone wrong?

Daniel gave a scornful look in anger.  “Nothing,” he barked.  “absolutely nothing.”  Except you have forgotten one thing?

Mark still looked puzzled.  Daniel spat out the words.

“Your new assistant.  The guy you sent to install   the stuff.”

Mark frowned.  Dave?  There’s nothing wrong with Dave.  He knows his stuff inside out.  Mind you, he hasn’t been around the last few days.

Daniel nodded heavily.  Oh, he knows his stuff all right.  The reason you haven’t seen him is that he’s gone off with my Susie!

Daniel’s head slowly sank towards the tabletop, his words were muffled by the arms he brought up to cover his head.

“She said she never knew computing could be so interesting until he showed her his hardware!”

There was an uncomfortable silence.

Oh.  Ah.  I see.

Almost against his will, his eyes were drawn from the sight of his suffering friend to the boxes of computer accessories piled up all around them.  “So, will you be wanting that new laser-printer and flat bed scanner now or not?”

Warning from the Future

It was nearly eleven o’clock, when Inspector Rigby, a tall man in his late fifties, with greyish hair, and a slim moustache, breezed into the Police Station’s reception, shaking the sprinkling of snow from off his long grey coat.

“Nasty weather out there,” the desk sergeant commented, as the Inspector entered the doors, leading to the offices.

“Sure is,” he replied.

Minutes later, the middle-aged Inspector climbed the stairway to the CID squad room on the second floor.  Heading meaningfully over to the window by Sergeant Frazer’s desk, he stopped, said nothing, just gazed out of the window as a soft shower of snowflakes, fell upon the city.  He thought to himself, what a picturesque view, just like those found on many a Christmas card scene.

“Morning Inspector,” Frazer said, gazing up at his superior, from his paperwork for a brief moment in time.

As an unusual looking bracelet, was placed upon his desk; immediately catching his attention.

“What do you make of this?”

Frazer looked up at the Inspector, then reached forward, picking up the bracelet, and carefully examined it.  “It’s just a simple bracelet with a central disk in a silvery blue colour, with the words: The Earth’s Alliance 2215, inscribed into its face, along the bottom.

“So where an earth did you get this?” asked Frazer, “don’t tell me, you got it at a joke shop?”

“Let’s be serious now, it came from a body we dragged from the River Wensum this morning, now laying in the morgue.”

“Have a look, see what you make of it, there was no identity on the body, just this bracelet.”

Frazer sprung to his feet.  “Come on Marshall, I’ve got to see this for myself.”

“Okay Okay,” Marshall replied automatically.

“I will leave this in your capable hands; the Medical Examiner at the morgue is expecting you,” replied the Inspector.

Frazer, a man of slim build in his late thirties, previously an officer in the Military Police, looked into his Inspectors eyes, “we will get over there directly.”

He walked across the office with meaning as though on parade ground, with Marshall ambling along behind, picking up their coats as they exited the office.

Clearly, the dead man was in his early thirties, with wavy blonde hair, and a severe wound to the chest.  His clothes look different, a single piece garment with no buttons or zips, and it is as though this belongs to a different time-line in history – possibly the future?  The only item he had on him was the bracelet.

“So, he was shot in the chest, and that’s what killed him,” Marshall said, looking at the Medical Examiner. 

“The wound to the chest, certainly killed him, but it wasn’t caused by a bullet as we know it.  It a high powered blast, leaving burnt edges around the wound, and totally destroying his insides,” quoted the good doctor. “The weapon was either military or he is not from our time, which could explain the weapon, but in any case these are no more than idle thoughts, which will not be found in my report,” he stated with a wistful grin.

“Like a laser?” asked Frazer.

“You could be right, but we work on facts, not on the realms of science fiction.”

“Is there anything else you can tell us?”

“If you pay close attention to his clothes – it’s a coarse material, the like I have never seen before.”

Both Frazer and Marshall felt the makeup of his clothes – leaving coarse abrasions on their skin.

“You’ve got a mystery on your hands, Frazer,” the Medical Examiner said with a cheeky grin.

As they left the Morgue, Frazer cast his eyes into space.  “So who or what killed the time traveller?” He said for those about him to hear.

“No one would believe your thoughts of a time-traveller, not in this day and age,” commented Marshall.  “So where was the body recovered from, that would be a good starting point,”  trying to bring him down to earthly thoughts.

Pulling out his notebook, he replied, “down by the Old Tower.”

“He was found carrying no form of identification.  Just this bracelet,” passing it over to Marshall, “so it is obvious he must have been staying in one of the hotels near by.”

“That’s why you and I are going to trawl round every local hotel in the area, near where the body was discovered.” 

Frazer and his sidekick Marshall battled the deteriorating weather, snow was settling fast, roads were slippery, yet they pursued their relentless quest for answers.  They had checked out the majority of small hotels in the area, with no success.  Their route brought them to the run down Royal Hotel, of Georgian design, located opposite the Railway Station.  The stone steps leading to the entrance were well worn; they sagged in the middle, where many had trod these steps over the years.  A stocky middle-aged man greeted them on arrival, dressed in a dark grey suit, standing at the reception desk.

Following a strained and hesitant discussion, the hotel clerk confirmed, that the victim at present lying in the city morgue, was a guest at the hotel, from the photo.

“What’s his name?” asked Frazer.

“Mr Marquaist,” replied the clerk.

“May we see his room?” asked Frazer.

“I will have to check with the manager first,” he stated in a hoarse sounding voice.

Entering the rear office, the ongoing discussion could be overheard; explaining that one of their residents is dead and the police request.  Minutes later he emerged, removed the key from the wall board, and handed the key over

“He was in room 24, you’ll find it at the top of the first flight of stairs,” the clerk explained, “please return the keys when you have finished.”

Upon searching the single bedroom, they were surprised to find no suitcase or clothes of any kind. 

“So where’s all his belongings,” Marshall spoke out loud.

“Good question, our mystery man has travelled very light indeed”

“Hey, look he has left his watch; it seems to have fallen down between the bed and bedside cabinet,” as Marshall reached down to retrieve it.

Frazer took the watch styled object from his partner Marshall, stood by the window examining it for a few moments.  It was deep blue with a flat circular screen, with buttons located on the metal clasped band.  “I don’t think this is a watch!”

Marshall in a jovial manner replied. “Maybe it comes from the future,” laughing away to himself.

Frazer looked but he was not smiling.

Frazer, returned to the object, he was wondering what the buttons did, just as he was about to press one, Marshall piped in with a warning, “is it a good idea.”

“I don’t know, but I don’t think we have any choice, and we need some answers now.”

A few buttons were pressed, but alas nothing happened, he was just about to give up, the screen flickered a few times, then lit up, activating a map of the area.   Frazer noted a cursor flashing in the top right hand corner, and a red spot to the left of centre.  Finally, he thought to himself.  “I do believe this to be some form of homing device, but to what.  The flashing cursor must be us, and the red spot equals home,” he spoke out loud.

Marshall looked over Frazer’s shoulder with much interest.  “I know where that is, Hall Road, therefore by process of elimination, the red spot can be none other than Tuckswood Green.”

“I believe you could be right.”

“Let’s head over there and test our theory, concerning the homing device.”

The officer’s exited the hotel, dropping the room keys off at reception desk, “we will be in touch soon, “ to an on looking hotel clerk.

As they drove across the city of Norwich, towards Tuckswood Green, in search of their quest, the settling snow, greatly reduced visibility, and driving conditions, causing the car to swerve all over the road.  The flashing cursor, moved, nearer and nearer to the red spot just off centre, of the screen, they knew without doubt they were heading in the right direction.  What lay before them was a mystery – of this world or the future?

They parked the car, along the dirt road leading to the green, alighted, crossing the snow covered green, all the time watching the homing device.

“What are we looking for,” asked Marshall gazing about them, “a time machine?” he said laughing.

“You just never know what you will find,” replied Frazer.

“If you are so sure it could be a time machine or space craft, what does it look like, and where is it?” Marshall said, glaring at Frazer in disbelief.

“I believe all your answers are about to be answered.  At that moment, the homing system’s cursor and red spot were nearly covering each other.  What the truth is has something to do with this area, or this is nothing more than a hoax,” stated Frazer.

Frazer and Marshall moved about until they reached the spot where both cursor and red spot covered each other – still nothing happened.

Frazer started pressing buttons at random on what they knew now was a homing system, but nothing appeared to happen.

“Why not put it on your wrist, and try again?” suggested Marshall to a horrified looking Frazer.

An uneasy Frazer placed the device on his wrist.  The first button he pressed located at the front activated something; a square tunnel appeared, with a swirling mist-like appearance, and there in the distance stood a young woman, standing before some controls.  He could not believe his eyes, and Marshall’s mouth fell open in surprise.

“If you have got his watch, you must have his body,” she asked in a metallic sounding voice.

“Who was he?” Frazer asked.

“It doesn’t matter anymore,” she replied.  As she brushed her long, blonde hair with the front of her hand, “his death was an accident, an energy surge back fired in your atmosphere.”

“What a waste, he was trying to protect our civilisation from the past mistakes that you made – contamination of the water supply.  This will set the project back, and many more will die.”

“What project?” enquired Frazer.

“I am unable to answer that, only to say it would divert the time events as we know it,” she replied.

“You understand don’t you.”

“Only vaguely,” Frazer said whilst shrugging his shoulders.  “My name is Sergeant John Frazer of the local Police Constabulary.” 

Then without a word, she appeared to walk through the tunnel from the future to the past – walked right up close to Frazer, and brushed the back of her hand across his cheeks.

 “It looks like good looks, run through the family.”

“Then who are you…?”

She stepped back, whilst grinning for a moment. “Celine Frazer, and that makes you my great, great, grandfather.”

The shock was more than his body could take, sending him reeling; he would have fallen had it not been for Marshall grabbing him.

When he had gathered his thoughts, he asked.  “What is it like in your time?”

“Its hell, pure hell, purgatory!!!  Future generations have suffered from the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and radioactive material released into the atmosphere by the Chernobyl Nuclear Reactor melt down.  Numerous wars fought around the globe using nuclear, atomic, and chemical weapons; just to name a few have left their mark on your world – and future generations are now suffering.  Your use car engines have left permanent smog in our cities, showing little signs of abating after all these years.  Life expectancy in our world is short, you are lucky to survive past fifty.”

She turned and retraced her steps back into her world.  Frazer moved forward, to hand over the homing system and bracelet; she put up her hand, and shook her head.  “Give them to your son, then his son, for one day in the future we will return.  We will call upon you to help save our planet, so watch and wait.”

Frazer just nodded – as he watched her go.  The tunnel in space and time disappeared as fast as it had appeared.

Back at the office, Frazer looked at the bracelet and homing device, “who would believe us, what we have seen and experienced this day, “ he spoke in Marshall’s direction.  “Close the file on the body in the morgue – John Doe.”

“It’s pure fantasy,” he muttered to himself.

CONCLUSION:

Celine Frazer was born on the 21st January 2197, to Graham and Hannah, on the eastern borders of the provincial capital, known as London.

Although at the time she was born, planet Earth was little more than a wasteland.  The planet’s population suffered from chemical diseases and radiation poisoning, due to the neglect of our homeland by our ancestors, who knew no better.

The events of past generations had set the stage for her life … trying to save her planet before it was too late.

Would they listen!   Would they understand!

Revenge is Sweet and Final

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Christina Howard heard the outer gates slide open, it was that time again, her eyes remained closed, as she listened to the slow footsteps of the Prison Officer’s, on ‘F’ Wing.  One by one the cell doors were unlocked, she knew that time had finally come, after serving fifteen years for a crime she hadn’t committed, she was finally being released.

She did not think of it as going home, because she had no home anymore.  It was not surprising, her being a convicted murderess.  What friends she had, didn’t want to associate themselves with her, and what family remained had made it clear, that in their eyes she no longer existed.

Finally, the permanent facial frown was gone, making way for a face of beauty and intrigue, with those cool blue eyes, which bore down into you.  Fifteen years ago she had entered this institution, and remained here for the best years of her life, saying goodbye to her past life.

The words she remembered from the trial, were the Judge’s comments; calling her callus and a disturbed individual.  From her teens, her young life had been a mixture of drug and alcohol abuse.  From petty thief, turned murderess in two easy steps.

She was seventeen years of age, when she started her life sentence for two counts of murder, and at the age of thirty-two, with much of her life before her, was being released back into society on licence.

As she closed her eyes, the only image before her was one of a room, splattered with blood everywhere.  Her skin and hair drenched with her victim’s blood.  She had been there, convinced to this day; she was no more than a watching victim.

Therefore, who killed them, and why?

Her only memories of that time had been a drug-induced life.  After fifteen years, living in an artificial environment, she was drug free, and the world looked different to her.

At that moment, a screw banged on the open door, bringing her back to this time, “come on girl, have you forgotten what day this is?”

She quickly scurried around, putting all her treasured possessions in one bag, not much to show for fifteen years.  Then sat back on her bed drinking her final cup of coffee, the minutes dragged by endlessly, as she waited to be, escorted from the wing.

She finally passed through the foreboding gates of High Holloway Prison, as she trudged away to the halfway house, daring herself not to look back, as she heard the gates shut behind her.  At last she knew and believed she was free!

“Free at last after fifteen years of confinement,” she said to herself.  As she breathed the fresh air, and took in her surroundings.

Without realising it, she headed to the train station, boarded and watched intently as it headed back towards the heart of the city.  She disembarked and walked along the old streets, once a familiar site to her, expecting to see shops or people she might recognise.  The area had changed so much; she felt a stranger here, an area she had grown up in many years ago.

With much apprehension, she walked up the narrow path to the front door of her childhood home.  After much trepidation, knocked and watched as her mother, much older now walked up the hallway.

Suddenly the door flung open, and her mother stood their speechless.

“Hello, Mum…”

The look upon her mother’s face, was one of sheer hatred.

“Get lost, Christina – and don’t ever show your face round here again.  They should have locked you up for good, and thrown away the key, you’re trouble, nothing but trouble, so clear off.”

Slamming the door in her face, as she looked on.

She fell in a disjointed heap on the doorstep, and sobbed for a moment, as she hadn’t expected that from her mother.  She sat awhile hoping the door might open again, but in her heart, she knew it wouldn’t.  She knew it never would.  Having disgraced her family, more than, words could say.

In a distressed and frail condition, she walked away from the family home, as she headed for an old friend, who lived close by, near the old Gasworks on Layer Road.  Their had been no contact from her whilst she had been inside.  She wondered what type of reception; she would receive, frosty?

Jennifer Cummings heard the doorbell, as she lay snuggled down under her duvet, eyes closed and trying to ignore the sound.

However, it was no use, the doorbell rang again, followed by the caller hammering on the knocker.  In a disgruntled mood, leapt from her bed, grabbing a dressing gown as she headed to the front door of the flat.  The door opened slowly and hesitantly, with door chain still attached.

“Christina Howard!  I thought you were inside?”

Christina gazed back at her for a moment.  “Got released this morning, well can I come in?”

Jennifer removed the door-chain.  “Of course you can come in its good to see an old face.

As she walked into the flat, she was taken aback by the lingering smell of; fried food, stale perfume, alcohol and drugs.  A smell she hadn’t smelt in a long time.

“Coffee, tea or something stronger?”

“Coffee please, black no sugar.”

“So how long has it been?  It seems ages, since we hanged around together.”

“Its’ been fifteen years, and its good to see a friendly face,” as she followed Jennifer into the kitchen diner.

“I was working last night, didn’t get into three, this morning.  Of course you wouldn’t know, the old Odeon Cinema, was demolished some five years back, and is now the home of Jacinto’s NightClub.”

As she spoke of Jacinto’s NightClub, she spoke with a nervous twitch in her voice; this bothered Christina, what had she to hide?

Jennifer eyed Christina; it was obvious the years inside had been kinder to her, than she expected, looking good for her age.

“You look good Jennifer,” but Christina lied, being kind to her, the years had taken their toll upon her.

Jennifer placed two old battered mugs of steaming hot coffee on the table.

“You’re out on license aren’t you,” Jennifer asked, she had to know.  “I mean that’s what happens after a long stretch for murder.”

“Yeah, if I put a foot wrong, they can throw me back inside, but that ain’t going to happen.”

“There’s one thing I’d like to know?  Did you really kill those two people, you were convicted for?”

“To this day, I can’t remember, the only recollection I have, is of being a victim not a murderer, but I was found at the scene, covered in blood, my fingerprints were everywhere, especially on the murder weapon.  As far as the court was concerned, I was guilty.  Now I am free, having served my time.”

“So what are you going to do now?”  Jennifer enquired.

“Settle back, and get my life back,” Christina replied, trying not to give anything away, as she had her own agenda, but as yet didn’t know who to trust.

“So where are you staying, with your parents?”

“No, called round there as soon as they released me, but my Mother told me to clear off.  The prison have arranged for me to stay at a halfway house, across the other side of the river, talking about that, I had better make my way there, or they will think I’ve got lost.”

As she left, Jennifer said.  “Come back soon, and we can talk about old times.”

“I’d love that,” she thought to herself, just what I needed to hear, maybe jog a few old memories.

Christina awoke to the banging upon her door, to find an old woman with silver-grey hair, standing before her.  She greeted her with a smile.

“Angie Maxwell, that’s my name.”

It was a statement, rather than an introduction.

Christina smiled, and nodded in response.

The old woman outstretched her scrawny hand.  “I’m in the room next to you.”

“I’ve been in the same situation as you, a convicted murderess.  They released me some ten months ago, and have been here ever since; it takes time to acclimatise one self to life on the outside.  I’m not prying, but if you fancy company anytime, just bang on the wall.”

She smiled with her semi-toothless grin, and walked off.

Christina wasn’t ready to make new friends, this encounter had left her fearful, her heart pounding away inside.  As she returned to the confines of her room, she listened in sufferance to the radio blaring through the wall.  Lying back on the bed, the one thing she desired most, was to be free of this place.  She couldn’t stand people prying into her business, just because she was new.

Friendship, had once been her lifeblood, now the thought frightened her.  As she closed her eyes, she saw once more the two bloodied bodies and the sickly feeling in her throat.

For the time being, friends were a luxury she could well do without, it would be safer to trust no one!

Marcus Philby, the owner of Jacinto’s  NightClub, and one time friend of Christina, was overjoyed when news reached him, she had been released.  For deep down, he feared what she might do in retaliation, if she ever discovered the truth of that fateful night.  Having been set-up to take the fall, by a close friend and her sister.  The thoughts of her, being locked away all these years had preyed much on his mind.

Although, what had happened that night should never had happened, he knew it went too far, and should never have set her up to take the fall.  If it wasn’t for Christina’s sister Maxine, egging him on, none of this would have happened.  Christina, Maxine and I were always looking for a fix, but Christina was always on a high, strung out on whatever she could get her hands on.  Drugs were an illness, whatever people thought of us then; it was a self-inflicted illness, which resulted in two deaths.

At that moment, Jennifer walked over to him, as he was preparing the club for its’ evening trade.  “Christina’s back in town, have you heard.”

He looked up for a moment.  “Yes, I have heard, bad news travels fast,” he didn’t know what else to say to her.

“Look Marcus, I ain’t trying to add to your problems, but Christina, is not exactly flavour of the month around here.  All I’m saying is have a word with her.  There are still a lot of people who feel she paid for a crime she wasn’t capable of committing.”

“What do you expect me to do, about it?”

“Have a word, clear the air.”

“Are you mad girl, I just can’t, and I don’t even know where she’s staying, and if I did I…”

“Remember, I did warn you.”

“Its’ no good going on about it, her sister doesn’t even want to discuss it.”

“You’re a fool, she looks good, and all I’m doing is trying to avert a disaster waiting to happen.  Remember there are many people out there, from the old days who kept their mouths shut, but will they continue, you’ve got to ask yourself that?”

He watched her walk back to her table; she wasn’t a bad girl really, great at the poker table.  However, at that moment, he hated her for raking up the past, knowing his wife Maxine, was in the back, and would go berserk at the mention of Christina’s name.

He knew he was a coward, but with Maxine acting like she is, always going berserk at any small thing, it would be dangerous to mention Christina’s name!

Three weeks on, and her probation officer, had arranged an interview for her at the local Job Centre.  Before her release, she had been informed her chances of employment on the outside was slim.  Nevertheless, she tried.

Her future life would be under the watchful eyes; of her probation officer, social workers and the police.  She had to become a model citizen, or they could return her to prison, to serve the remaining three years of her sentence.

As she sat listening to the employment Officer, a bombshell was dropped on her lap; an interview for a job.  Utter disbelief and bewilderment struck her, after all she had heard.

“Mr Carmichael, owner of Carmichael,s Engineers, is prepared to give you an interview.  He read the case in the papers, but still he’s prepared to consider you, for a vacancy in his stock department.  Pay is not very good, but as you have no work history, it’s a start.”

Minutes later, Christina was on the way to an appointment at Carmichaels’.  She desperately needed to make a good impression, she wanted, and she desperately needed this job.  It didn’t matter how much the pay was, it would be a start.

In the old times, money meant everything to her, it paid for dope – cocaine – heroin, and life without her daily fixes, were unbearable.  That had been in her past life, now she needed to build a new future.  Having been given a second chance, she needed to prove herself.

Carmichael gestured Christina to a chair as he sat behind his large oak table, piled high with papers.  He was a well-built man in his late forties.  She felt his eyes glancing over her, a feeling she had not felt for a long time, but she ignored it.

He sat reading her CV, as it was;  “I see you have qualifications in Computer Technology and Accounting.  The vacancy is for a Computerised Stock Controller, which you are well qualified for.”

“Times go slow in prison, and I needed something for when I was released.”

“You spent a long time there, I see you got out three years early on good behaviour.”

I nodded.  “When I was first admitted to prison, I was a Category-A prisoner, and eventually moved down the categories until I was transferred to an open prison.  Now I have been given a second chance, and I must not waste it.”

He smiled, but said nothing.

“Cards on the table, we both know I am a convicted murderess, and have served fifteen years out of an eighteen year sentence.  I am over qualified for this job, but if you give me a chance, I won’t disappoint you.”

He glanced at her for a moment, remembering those gory photo’s in the papers when she had been convicted.  She looked good, even in those old clothes, but with smart clothes could be a stunner.

“Can you start on Monday?”

“Yes!”

“I look forward to seeing you hear at 8.00am, and we will show you your duties, and where you will work.”

She felt light-headed with joy as she headed back to the halfway house.

Christina, with much caution answered her door, standing there was Alice Galloway, who looked after the house and all us girls.

“Well done, I just heard you got the job.”

“You can’t possibly go to work in that outfit.  A local Charity helps us out with clothes, these recently came in, and I thought of you.  They look about your size.  One navy and one grey trouser suit, and a few white-embossed blouses,” she handed them over to an over-whelmed Christina.

“Just what I needed, I don’t know what to say.”

“Nothing to say.  I hope they fit!”

“Christina, you have been given a second chance of a new life, embrace it, and try and leave the past, where it should stay – in the past.”

“I’ll try – but memories are hard to forget.”

After Alice left, Christina tried the suits and blouses on and they fitted her perfectly.  It made her feel good about herself, the first time in a long time.

It was the first night in many years; she had a good nights sleep.  No dreams of that dreadful night, but she would always remember, until truth prevailed.

She had taken her first step, in a long road fraught with obstacles, the beginning of a new life.

Carmichael sat in his office, gazing out a Christina in an adjoining office, recalling the day of her interview.  Six months had now passed; her first four in the stock department, then moved up to assist him in the running of the company accounts.

Christina had become one of those small band of workers, who never asked questions, just got on with her job.  However, deep down, she could see the accounts revealed, income payments from elsewhere, used to support an ailing company.  In her mind, she always questioned was this legal?  But she didn’t want to know.

She had become embroiled in an unattainable situation, being constantly under the supervision of her parole officer.  If she left this job, she would have to say why.  Better to say nothing.  Carmichael, was the first person to give her a chance in many years?

As Carmichael watched her working away, he couldn’t believe it possible, this woman was a murderess, it just didn’t sit right with him!

Christina felt it was time to rake up the past, she had secured herself a job, and everything was going well.  Her memories of her previous life, before being imprisoned were patchy.

Some would say forget it, and get on with your life, but fifteen years of her life, had been, taken from her.  Memories of that fateful night will always remain with her, until the truth is finally, revealed.

Every Saturday morning on her day off, she would rise at 7.00am, wash quickly followed by breakfast of Corn Flakes and toast.  Catch the 8.15am bus at the bottom of the road, to the town’s public library, a two-storey redbrick building.

A short petite woman occupied a counter by the main entrance, with a youngish man near by, both heads turning in my direction as I entered.

“Good Morning,” I said.

“Good Morning,” they replied in unison.

“I’d like to view the back issues of the national and local papers, for the period 1987-2002,” smiling at that moment.

“The early years are stored on Microfilm.”

“That would be alright,” I replied.

Seldom is this machine used, except for the older issues, it is now located at the far end of the reading room.

“Thank you.”

The petite Librarian opened one of the metal cabinets behind her and withdrew a small grey-box.  “I’d better explain the machine to you.”

“There’s no need.  I’m familiar with microfilm viewers.”

The expression on her face, was one of dread as she handed over a box of microfilms.  I was her worst nightmare.

“Don’t be alarmed, I have been coming here the past few weeks, viewing the files.”  I said trying to reassure her.  At that moment, her face resumed its normal stance.

Settling down at the machine, I checked through the boxes within the carton, and inserted, the film, and wound it through the viewer.  The machine was a manual operation unit, making it slow and time consuming.

Within minutes, text and pictures came in and out of focus, and so the weekly headache had begun.  I flicked through spool after spool, returning to the front desk; eventually the sympathetic librarian allowed me three boxes at a time.

I skimmed quickly over charity events, church socials, minor crimes, vandalism, garage sales, car boots and announcements, of births, deaths and weddings.

By mid-morning, my head pulsed and my blood sugar had dropped to a dangerous level, incapable of sustaining life, as we know it.  Stealthily, I slipped my hand into my pocket, withdrew a chocolate bar, and quietly munched my way through it, as I watched yet another spool.

Eventually, I was able to switch over to files stored on the computer, as was the storage method of later years.  One of the entries in the local paper, stood right out, I just sat there looking at it in disbelief.

Youngest son of Michael Philby, local crimes boss; Marcus marries childhood sweetheart Maxine Howard, sister of local murderess, jailed for life.  Marcus and Maxine, were given Jacinto’s NightClub, by Michael Philby as a wedding gift.

Christina sat their stunned beyond belief, “I just can’t believe it,” she said under her breath.  Childhood sweetheart, it was originally Marcus and myself.

This left Christina bemused, but the mention of Michael Philby changes everything, he would do anything for his son!

Her eyes moved to the accumulated printout’s she had acquired from subsequent visits to the library.  As she ruffled through the pages, looking for a reference within a local or national newspaper, suddenly she found what she sought.

Local man on the Mount Pleasant Housing Estate, when interviewed by the police spoke of a young man and two girls.  In his opinion, one of them seemed worse for wear, as they forced themselves into the couples flat on the evening of 12th September 1987.

On that same evening local man, Daniel McConnelly a close neighbour of the couple passed their second floor flat on his way home after his evening shift, at the local cash and carry.  His eyes were taken aback, by the sight of blood outside their door, and blood on the doorframe.  Quickly he rushed home, and called the police.

Police Constable Anderson responded to the call and forced an entrance into the flat, where he found an elderly couple battered, one already dead lying facedown in a pool of blood in the living room.  Whilst the other was located in the hall, in a serious condition.  In the kitchen on the lower floor a third person was found, a young woman dressed in black, unconscious with what was considered the murder weapon close by, and covered in blood.

The local CID arrived at the scene shortly, along with paramedics and doctor, who confirmed one, was dead, and had apparently been beaten to death in a frenzied attack.  Before the second victim died, he is reported to have said to the CID Officer that he told the younger of the two girls’, where the money was but she wasn’t interested she just kept attacking us for no reason.

The police had their murderer, and they looked no further.  She who was found to have slipped on the stairs and knocked herself out whilst under the influence of alcohol and drugs.

The other couple have never, been traced.  Believed to be connected with some form of loan shark business.  During police investigations, evidence proved that the victims, were running a loan shark business on the local housing estate, in opposition to Michael Philby.  Rumours abounded that Marcus was trying to prove to his father, that he had the ability to sort out the opposition, but it went tragically wrong.

The police believed, people in the area knew who the missing couple were, but were not talking, for fear of repercussions.

As she looked at the collection of articles she had attained from the library, whilst sitting quietly in her room, back at the refuge.  It stood out, Maxine must have killed them, and Marcus had covered up everything for her, because he was in love with her.  Set up by my own sister and boyfriend, and covered up by Michael Philby local crime boss.

However, now that Michael Philby is dead, can these questions be truthfully, answered? 

Marcus and Maxine have no one to protect them now, is there, anyone out there who will talk now?

No wonder they are scared since my release, they don’t know what I remember of that night!  That is my strength, but to prove their guilt, that is a different story.

For weeks Maxine thought she was being followed, but was that fear, following various sightings of her sister in the vicinity of the club.  Several times in the night, she awoke, and each time felt a presence in the house, but fear prevented her leaving her bedroom.  These feelings, were further enhanced, by rumours that Marcus had heard at the club.

“Christina’s, been delving into the events that sent her to prison,” stated Marcus.  “But I’ve got a hunch she knows what happened that fateful night or is very close to solving it.”

“Don’t worry Maxine, I will protect us.”

“But who will protect you?  Anyway its’ not you she’s after, its’ me, stated Maxine.  “I’m the one who killed those two people that night, and left my sister to take the blame.”

“But we were both there.”

Fear of being caught, swelled up in her over the next few days.  In an effort to resolve the problem hanging over her, she took one of Marcus’ rifles, and parked up across the way from the refuge, waiting for the return of her sister Christina, from work.

Christina turned on her room light.  As she walked across to draw the curtains, a bullet splintered through the glass catching her in the shoulder, sending her reeling to the floor.  A second shot shattered the adjoining window, glass fragments falling on her body, enhancing the burning pain from the first shot.

As she gazed at her dress, blood seeping over it from the wound in her shoulder, her hands covered in it.  Her heart beat at a fantastic rate, fearing for her life.

The pain to her shoulder was excruciating as she lay on the floor, in a pool of blood.  Five more shots penetrated her room, then silence as police sirens, were heard in the distance.  “At last, someone had come to my rescue, saving me from the blaze of bullets that had ransacked my room.”  Christina thought, while she lay on the floor.

Almost at once, the reality of what had happened seemed to overwhelm me, as the police and paramedics arrived on the scene.  After leaving the hospital a few days later, I was interviewed by D.I.Dawson, following the attack on my life.  During which I explained what I had done since being released from prison on licence.  How I had obtained a job, and was in the process of getting my life back, and my weekly visits to the library, reading up on the events leading to the dreadful murders.

He was one of the new breed of police officers.  By the end of the interview, he was convinced, there was a possibility that my sister and boyfriend had eluded justice.  But as he pointed out this had been an open and shut case in the eyes of the law as you were found on the property, unconscious, but your finger prints were on the murder weapon.

Justice, had to be seen to be done, and you were charged and brought to justice quickly.

Christina pulled from her folder of library print out’s a letter she received some months after her release.  Within the contents it stated: I know that you were not responsible for the two murders, and for answers you should look closer to home.

After which she was allowed home, leaving the police with many unanswered questions.

My room was a mess, but at least I was alive!

“Are you okay?  Asked Alice Galloway.

“I’m okay.  They had their chance, now I want mine, I want justice!”  Christina spoke in a defiant tone.

Marcus was horrified that his wife had tried to kill her own sister.

“Do you know what you’ve done, you silly bitch.”

“Hopefully, warned my sister off.”

“No, more likely made her more intent in finding out the truth.”

“But trying to shoot her, that was stupid, it won’t take the police long to become suspicious of the connection between the both of you, and using one of my guns, how could you.”

“You worry too much, we got away with murder last time.”

“Yes, but my father was much respected and a feared man in the community.  He sorted everything.  But he isn’t around to help us this time, and many of those still alive, who were around during those murders, will remember you killed them and framed your own sister.  Those same people are unlikely to help us this time.”

“What you’ve done, might anger some of the old firm, thus putting us in a dangerous position.”

“The best thing you can do for now, is keep quiet about the whole affair, and if approached by the police say nothing without me being present.  Also keep clear of the club for the next few day, give things a chance to blow over.”

Maxine scooped up the national newspaper from behind the front door, turned, kissed her husband as he left for the club.  Standing in the porch, watched as he drove away that morning, knowing that they should be going together, but her actions had jeopardised that for the time being.

She closed the front door behind her, and emptiness enveloped her as she walked through to the conservatory.  She sat down, poured herself a black coffee, as she scanned the paper to see what’s new.

Maxine was horrified that her sister had made the news, again.  Christina Howard; an attempt had been made on her life, and police are following up enquiries.  “Wish I had got it right.”  Fear got the better of her.  She wrote a short note explaining to Marcus, her husband that she would be in touch soon, hastily packed a few clothes into an overnight bag and headed for the M11 motorway, and Cambridge in her red Triumph Stag.  The sound of Barbara Streisand, played on the radio, freeing her from all thoughts of time.

For hours on end, she drove mile after mile without any destination in mind; she just wished she could turn the clock back, to that night in September 1987.

In the heart of the English Countryside, she found quaint pub miles away from all her troubles, in the village of Barton on the outskirts of Cambridge.  The barman within gave her a reassuring gaze, as she ordered a white wine, and deposited the glass in front of her.

A youngish priest, who observed, she was troubled, joined sitting at a corner table, close to a roaring fire.

“Can I be of assistance my dear.”

“I wish you could, but I feel it’s too late for that.”

“Nothings too late, things can always be sorted, one way or another.”

“I wish I had met someone like you many years ago, and maybe I wouldn’t be in the mess that I am.”

“Things can’t be that bad, why not tell me all about it, maybe I can help.”

She thought for a moment, but all the while she was shaking with fear, knowing the police were close behind, and it wouldn’t take them long to piece it all together, so what had I got too loose.

“I framed my sister for two murders, which I committed, whilst high on drugs.  Since her release, she has been close to finding out the truth, and I tried to kill her, to stop it coming out.”

“My parents believe her to be wicked, when the guilty one is really me.  Many of my husbands associates and my friends, know I am guilty of these horrendous crimes, and still they have kept quiet all these years, but for how much longer?”

“My dear you are in a predicament, aren’t you.  One that’s eating you away with guilt.”

They talked for a long time, and it had been the first time in many years, she had openly talked about the events.

“I think it’s time to admit to your parents, that you were guilty of these crimes, and put things right with your sister, once and for all.”

“You mean confess to the police, don’t you Father.”

“Yes my child, but the choice has to be yours.”

“I’m scared, would you come with me?”

“I would be pleased to assist you in your time of need.”

Later that day before entering the Cambridge Police Station, Maxine rang her parents.  She explained to them that she had been guilty of the original murder in 1987, not her sister, but with the help of Marcus, they had left her there to take the blame.  Furthermore the recent events, as accounted in the newspapers of her attempted murder; it was I who am responsible for this, I could not allow the truth to be revealed.  If you are in any doubt, ask Jennifer Cummings, she’s one of many who know, but feared for their safety, if she spoke out.

Her parents stunned by these revelations, found they were unable to comprehend her actions, and they had raised a daughter to lie.

“You’ll more likely hear from the police shortly, as I am going to confess to the police at Cambridge Police Station.”

“Please forgive me.”

Photo by Lucian Petronel Potlog on Pexels.com

James Howard, Christine’s father entered Jacinto’s NightClub mob handed, with pain on his face, looking for justice.  As he walked up to the bar, surveyed the place.  Two men sat in the corner, tooled up, he knew them both, and they acknowledged him, but did nothing, just observed.  He yanked the barman over the bar.

“Where’s Marcus?”

“He’s not here, should be back later,” the barman replied in a frightened voice, as James’ henchmen tore the place apart.

None of the patrons spoke, they hurriedly left the club, fearing for their safety.

The place was damaged beyond repair, and everyone knew Marcus would know all about it, but still they didn’t care.  They knew it had been a long time coming.

James walked behind the bar remnants and poured himself a large scotch.  The only thought in his mind, was how Christine had served time for this piece of scum.  She deserved justice!

After finishing his drink, threw the empty glass against one of the remaining mirrors, and kicked, opened the locked office door, and ransacked it.

Finally, they grabbed the frightened barman, “don’t forget to tell Marcus, it was James Howard who wrecked his joint.  Also, the truth of September 1987, is out!”

By the end of the day, Christine’s nightmare was over, both Maxine and Marcus were in police custody!

Christina sat in the police station, answering questions and listening to her probation officer Margaret Hanks and Detective Inspector Dawson.

“Since the attack on you, many people have come forward, originally connected with the Philby’s, and recalled the events of 1987, clearing you of the original murder.  Your sister Maxine walked into a police station in Cambridge and confessed to the murders of September 1987 and the subsequent attack on your life, and her husband Marcus Philby has been picked up and charged to being an accessory.”

Christine realised, Maxine’s confinement along with Marcus, meant justice, had been served at last.  They would learn to accept their punishment for their crimes.

As D.I.Dawson gazed into her eyes, he noticed the surprised and relieved expression within.  His heart went out to a woman, who had suffered so much, she had a look of vulnerability.  He guessed that it was this part of her, which got her into so much trouble when she was young.

She looked as if she had gone into a trance, for a moment, then when she spoke her voice was laden with sorrow.

“It’s in the hands of the CPS?  I hope they’re thorough with them both as they were with me.”

Dawson, looked on unable to reply to her comments, he just nodded in confirmation.

Holloway Prison didn’t impress Maxine Philby.  The smell, reduced lighting and mixing with other women.  Sharing a cell with a murderer and a junkie was not what she expected.

Her first visit since being on remand was from her father.

“All right Maxine.”

“What do you think.  So what are people saying about me?”

“The public response is not good, you were well out of order, setting up your own sister to take the fall for you.  You are considered as bad as the family you married into, if not worse.”

“So where’s Mum?”

“Well, she’s upset obviously, that you set up your own sister, to take the fall for you – you murdered two people, and left your sister there, doped up to the eyeballs.  Then after arranging evidence, fled knowing the police would discover your sister.”

“Let’s just say, your Mother has made it known, that you no longer exist in her eyes.  Finally when released, tried to kill her, to prevent the real truth, coming out.”

“But I did give myself up to the police.”

“That’s the only good thing you’ve done, but you waited sixteen years.  You took away Christine’s life, her home.  I will never forgive you for that.  Neither of us will be at your trial.”  He rose and left the prison, not turning to take a final look at his daughter Maxine.

Her father was a great comfort to her now, as they sat together, the first time in sixteen years at the local Chinese Restaurant.  They ate slowly, Christine, enjoyed her food, after many years of stodgy prison food.  They sat there, both aware they had much to discuss.

“What are you going to do now, Christine?”

“Try and make up for the lost years, and make you and mum, proud of me.”

“Things got so bad back in 1986/87, that me and your mother, had to step back and let you and Maxine, get on with your own lives, you were both out of control.  We just couldn’t take any more of your drinking and drug binges.”

Tears welled up in her eyes as she listened to his words, realising the ordeal she had put them both, through.

She searched out and grasped his hand.

“I’m ever so sorry, Dad.  I still think to this day of the old couple.  I only remember snatches of that night, but most important to me, I knew I hadn’t killed them.”

She swallowed deeply, as tears ran down her cheeks.

The recent events, allowed her to face up to life, she had no false expectations, and made no demands.

He put his arms around her, until she ceased crying it reminded her of her childhood years, when he was there to comfort her.

She looked around the room that had become her home and felt nostalgic for it.  However, she knew the day would come when she would have to leave.  It would be a big step, after all these years of confinement.

She would immerse herself in her remaining family and try and make amends for the lost years.

Time passed, slowly but surely time passed, and with each passing year of her life imprisoned as a double murderer, she had felt strong and able to cope with what she was supposed to have committed.  She remembered lying in her cell, knowing the door was bolted on her and the light turned off.  Even in summer, the confines of her cell were cold.

She glanced at herself in the mirror and saw a middle-aged woman in a fine-looking suit, with good skin and a trim figure, with sad looking eyes.  But she was alive, she had survived the rigours of prison life, and now those responsible were doing the time they so justly deserved.

It was good to be free at last!!!

THE  END

Natural Forces Declares War

I heard it on the radio that the world was coming to an end.  The dark purplish clouds that had been forming in the sky were not adverse weather conditions, as we had been told, but clouds of meteors on a direct course with Earth.  I just could not believe the words I was hearing.  I switched from one news station to the other … it was true; the world was coming to an end as we knew. 

I looked out from my window, there was much commotion, people were packing up, and heading out of town … but to where?

That night our world changed as the news reader had said it would.  On the edge of our town, we were treated to a colourful display of lights, but they weren’t any old lights, by morning small craters had formed close to the town.

The craters housed meteors, about the size of a cricket ball, and they glowed from the intense heat they gave off.  By late afternoon, hundreds more objects burst forth from the skyline, streaking across the tree-line, crashing into houses, shops, bridges and petrol stations, setting them ablaze.  Who would have believed something so small could do so much damage.

As darkness enveloped our town, once home to 25,000 people, more than half the buildings were ablaze, and still these deadly meteors kept on coming, like missiles on a pre-arranged course…  Was this natural or man-made I asked?

People looked for safety, from this natural enemy, destroying their home, and their way of life.

How many had survived, such blatant destruction, on such a scale.  Billions lay dead, countries wiped out.

Natural forces, in their own way, had declared was on planet Earth.

Our planet all but died over the next few months, surface temperatures rose to three hundred degrees and more, if that did not kill you, the radiation surely would, but it would be slow and agonizing.

The seas turned to ice.  What was once beach-side property disappeared under mounds of ice?  It was the start of a new ice- age, sending our planet back in time, to a period; pre-technology.

Frightened, yet determined to survive, we built our new homes below ground.  Four regional centres; Norpin, Gamelan, Cytherial and Magnellan colonies, each housed domed like structures, with inter-linking tunnels connecting them to a central dome, being the heart of life upon this planet.

Smaller domed structures have sprung up over the years surrounding the regional centres, used to provide homes for our ever-growing planets population.

The early colonists of the Gamelan region of our subterranean world, was where our farms were located, supplying much of the food we needed.  We had our own lighting source, from the moon orbiting our planet, as it breached cracks, and by breaking up rocks from old volcanoes.

We lacked manual knowledge so to speak, for we had relied heavily on technology to solve our problems.  Now we had to think like our ancestors did before us, how they would have solved a problem, by pooling ideas together, and experimenting.  We would learn, we would make mistakes, all in the name of survival.

Over the years the earth’s moon broke through the thick atmosphere surrounding our planet, and was known to breach the cracks and shine down upon our city, giving us hope!  I came to accept, that this was our Guardian Angel, looking over us, and protecting us in some way … letting us know life still exists.

I wonder what will happen to us, in the long term, will we create a new world?  Will we ever be able to live above ground again? 

The Perfect Murder

Sister Susannah was in the break room, mouthing off excitedly with one of the doctor’s receptionists; “I never thought of him as a murderer, distant maybe, but murderer no.”

Dr Carl Maxwell was sitting in front of his television, watching Taggart re-runs, but his concentration wasn’t all there, his mind was drifting else where, when the constant ringing of the telephone brought him back to his senses.  He considered for a moment or two, whether to answer it or not.

It had been four days since the funeral; the biggest turn out the Church had seen in years.

He had run the local doctor’s for more than fifty years, and inherited the practice from his father, much like I have inherited from mine.

It would probably be one of mine or dad’s acquaintances phoning up to express his or her condolences.  Whatever, I just didn’t want to hear it; I just want to mourn in peace.

Out of sheer utter frustration Carl answered the phone.  “Hello?” There was silence, “hello?”  I was just about to slam it down when an automated recording started.

“I wish he was dead, and I could get on with running the practice my way.  I feel like paying somebody to shoot him or something.  Oh, how he can be so frustrating.”  I recognise the voice as my own, but can not remember saying those words.

The recording came to an end, and the line went dead … sending utter fear through every bone in my body.  “Why?  Who”

“When had I said that?”  Trying to recall how the caller had obtained the recording?  Finally, it came to me, “that must be some three months ago, when I had too much to drink at a friends birthday party, and he rang checking when I would be home, as he wasn’t feeling too good.”

Anger and fear spread through his body, they were doing a good job of frightening me.  If they had taped that what else have they taped?

The phone rang again.  Trying to sound calm, answered it attempting to show no fear in my voice.  “Hello.”

“Hello Carl, you have heard my recording, so it is time to arrange payment,” said the metallic sounding voice.

“What?” Carl shouted, unable to believe what he is hearing.  “Who are you?”

“You were overheard wishing a job could be done.  It is done and now we have to be paid,” the metallic sounding voice stated in a calm yet authorative manner.

“You are crazy, I never wanted him dead.  Thoughts I have said to myself don’t count, they are no more than thoughts, when things don’t go right.”

“Maybe so; your father is dead, and it is time to pay up.”

“I won’t pay you a penny,” Carl said getting very distressed.

“You don’t pay, and the tape we have wishing your father dead will be sent to the police.  Would you want the police investigating you and your business interests?  Like where you buy some of your drugs, for the surgery’s pharmacy?”

“What are you talking about, it is all legal and above board,” stated Carl, but in his heart, he knew that some drug suppliers, could be classed as questionable, in the eyes of the medical council.

“There are reasons for everything,” stated the voice.  “We don’t ask for more than you can afford, start putting it together, we want £100,000 and no tricks.”

“I can’t raise that type of money.”

“You forget, we are fully acquainted with every aspect of your life … we know you have inherited the business plus your father’s savings and investments, and you are the sole benefactor of his estate.”

“How do I know you did it, and not just another of those crank calls, one receives after a death?” asked Carl.  “My father had enemies from the past; it could have been one of them?”

“It doesn’t matter if we did it not,” stated the voice.  “If you want the police kept out of it, then get the money.”

Finally the line went dead.  Carl was left there in the room with nobody to ask.  What was he going to do he asked himself over and over again, as he looked into the mirror.  The voice was right though; he could get hold of the money, and had been put in a situation where he had no choice.

“Did the voice kill him or was it the drugs I gave him to hasten his departure,” Carl asked himself.

The dreaded call came five days later.  “Yes,” replied Carl, trying to keep calm, but his nerves were on edge every time the phone rang.

“You’ve got the money?” asked the voice.

“Yes,” replied Carl.

“Put it in a holdall.  There’s an alleyway on Trinity Road, next to the Cat Parlour.  At the far end you will find two wheelie bins, place it behind the green one.  Leave it there tomorrow at 11.00am.

“But what if …?” asked Carl.  Before he could finish asking the question the line went dead.

Trinity Road was good he realised whilst driving there.  It was a quiet road.  They could pick up the money and just disappear across the waste land at the rear.  Also he couldn’t hang around for he would be seen.

He parked up in Trinity Street, and lifted the bag from the car, walking up to the bins.  Gingerly he placed it down and walked back to the car.  He could feel the eyes upon him.  It’s nothing, he told himself, and he might not even be here yet.  Trying not to rush he put the car in gear and drove out into the traffic.

Right now Carl wanted to put as much distance between him and the money.  They knew a lot about him, but they didn’t know everything.  He chuckled to himself.

My father had loved his garden; little did he know that it actually killed him.  I added Paraquat to his nightly ice-cream desert, and it hastened his death.

Three days after the blackmailer had been paid his money, there was a pretty forceful knock at the door, and I was still on edge.  Nearly knocking over my glass of whiskey, but managing to grab it by the rim, before it toppled over.

He was tallish, a good six feet, with long hair pulled straight and tied at the nape of his neck.  He looked at me with a strange little smirk on his face.

“Yes?” I said.

“I have come for my money.”

“Excuse me?”

“I have come for my money,” as he pushed past me into the entrance hall and made his way into the living room.

I was trembling, fear spread through every bone in my body.

“We both know you killed your father, so pay up, and no more will be said.”

“You have been paid, and you’re not getting any more,” as I reached behind me grabbing the whiskey bottle off the drinks trolley.  With one good swing I brought it down on the left side of his face, and he stepped back, dazed and stunned by my actions.

“That was a bad mistake, you just proved your guilt in the death of your father, it has gone from natural causes to murder,” at that moment the door burst open, and three uniformed police officer’s burst in.  “The games up!”

“I call that entrapment, and you have no proof?”

“We have the tapes, wishing your father dead, that’s enough to exhume the body and perform another autopsy.”

What I believed was the perfect murder … was what had caught me out.  One simple mistake and my life lay in ruins.

I was sure Paraquat would never be discovered, but still they have to prove beyond any reasonable doubt, my guilt.

The Curse of the Amulet

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Valley of the Kings stands on a narrow gorge on the west bank of the Nile, near Thebes, where most of the Pharaohs were buried in highly visible pyramids.

Each tomb lies at the end of a succession of descending corridors, punctuated by shafts to prevent grave-robbers reaching the burial area.  This would consist of a burial chamber containing a sarcophagus, and other rooms of furniture and equipment it is believed he would need in the afterlife.  Many rooms would be decorated with carved and painted hieroglyphic texts, magical and symbolic scenes depicting his life.A flickering of light danced upon the dark walled passageways.  A man dressed in a three-quarter cotton white tunic, raised a fire torch: illuminating four golden candlesticks, standing at each corner of a raised platform, where the gold casket bearing his Pharaoh would be placed.

The eyes glanced off into infinity, gazing at the long line of stationery guards that stood in death like silence, from the chamber to the entrance.

Silence was broken, by the whispering sound as Ignatius Reator, in his strap sandals, scraped over the stone floor, moving along the tunnel to the vast gallery.  With its twenty-foot-high domed ceiling, and pillared arches.  Its walls laced with cavities bearing ornate gold and pottery ornaments.

Ignatius examined the large collection of wooden crates stacked to one side, checking numbers against those on a scroll he flattened out, on a small stone table.  Sweat began to show through the layers of dust blanketing his skin, in this dry and airless chamber.  Finally satisfied all was in order, rolled up the scroll and slid it into a sash about his waist.

Ignatius was not a young man, considered old for his time, reaching the age of fifty-two.  As he retraced his steps to the anti-room, he exhaled a deep sigh of regret; he would never see or touch this wonderful array of artefacts, symbolising the life of his Pharaoh.  The face heavily lined, with sunken cheeks, and the dragging of his feet, exposed his weariness.  Yet, within he felt satisfaction, the project neared its end, and a great burden would soon be lifted from his shoulders.

His Pharaoh was dying, having just day’s to live; and soon his remaining artefacts would take their place in his burial chamber.  His guard of honour would be entombed, in a time honoured tradition, with their Pharaoh.

Passing by many tunnels to other parts of the pyramid, he remembered one, which entombed thousands of slaves, who died in the construction.  For them, better to have died in the service of their Pharaoh, than suffer prolonged misery at the hands of the Empire.

His mind was elsewhere, when screams echoed through from the outside shaft, jolting him back to the present time.

Ignatius out of concern breathlessly hurried to the entrance; as he stepped out into the light, the heat rays of the sun, forced him to squint his eyes.

News rocked him that his Pharaoh had died…  Day’s later his embalmed body was placed in its Sarcophagus, and taken to his burial chamber.  Placed with him were four Canopic Jars containing his organs; as tradition states, they would assist the dead to assist through the after-life.

Over the coming weeks; two ebony effigies of the Pharaoh gold sandaled, with staff and mace, were positioned either side of his tomb.  A collection of inlaid caskets; alabaster vases, black shrines, and a gold throne were set about his chamber.  The final doorway sealing his chamber contained a hand carved seal of the Pharaoh: Tutankhamen upon it, marking his final resting place.

The legend of the Pharaoh Tutankhamen, buried with all his wealth, in the Valley of the Kings, brought many an archaeologist or treasure hunter in search of fame and fortune.

Many tried to find the fabled burial chamber, only to find entrances that led nowhere, but to an early grave.

Seven years previous, on another dig, the Mantle brothers; James and Daniel, found a Canopic Chest, containing four Canopic Jars containing the stomach – intestines – lung and liver.  A scroll found within, named the architect of Tutankhamen’s Pyramid: Ignatius Reator, along with rough plans of the build.  It was enough to put them in the general area of the Pyramid, and lead them to the biggest find ever!

“I am hot, and exhausted, can we stop for a moment,” called out Daniel in a weary voice.

James, paused and looked behind him at his brother Daniel, coming up behind him.  “It is not safe to stop here, much of the shaft is unstable.”

At that moment, a tremor was felt in the shaft, as their scaffold and boarded support vibrated violently above them.

“Do you feel it?” asked Daniel.

“Of course, I do, it must be a quake, the third one this month,” James said in an uneasy voice, “wedge yourself between the poles, it is our only hope.”

“If this shaft shakes much more, it will collapse with us under it,” suggested Daniel, while sand was falling away from the sides.

Briefly and violently sand fell away from the tunnel sides, they feared the scaffolding would soon fall about them.  However, the gods must have been on their side, for as quick as the quake started, it stopped in a matter of minutes.  Slowly their gaunt faces emerged from the sand, spitting out lumps of sand, whilst clearing the grit from their eyes.

“I warned you, it would be a risky adventure, before we started this, but the profits and fame would well be worth the risks,” James reminded his brother Daniel, gazing back at him, as he brushed away the loose sand covering him.  “We have spent four years digging this tunnel, from the upper to the lower floors, in our belief of finding the fabled tomb… many believe we are wasting our time, but I know we are in the right area.  So, let’s clear away the fallen sand and re-fix the scaffold.”

James expected Daniel to reply, but there were a few groaning moans.  Daniel looked in the direction of James, and lifted himself out of the sand, pushing it to the side, and re-fixing the scaffold.

As Daniel pushed the sand against the sides, his hand felt a shape protruding from the walls.  “I have found something; it could be a seal or something?”

James waited patiently as Daniel brushed away the sand, hoping it could be what they desperately craved, for he knew they were in the right area according to the map…  So many times, over the last six months they thought they had found something, believing it might lead to an entrance, only to find yet another dead end.

“It is the hand carved seal of Tutankhamen, well worn, but I would know it anywhere,” Daniel laughed and smiled with joy.

“If we hadn’t had that cave in, we might have gone right past it,” suggested James.

Their life-time dream, and four years of sweat and toil was drawing to a close, when in March 1922, they made that magnificent discovery… the hand carved seal telling them they had found the burial chamber of Tutankhamen, the Egyptian Pharaoh of the 18th dynasty… This was to send the airwaves clattering around the world, for they became famous overnight, having found, what many had sought.

Their first glimpse within the burial chamber revealed; two black ebony effigies of the Pharaoh, gold sandaled, with staff and mace, stood out from the dark cloak.  The walls lined with golden coaches, caskets, alabaster vases, black shrines with a gilded snake, his gold throne, gold chariots, and much more… they were speechless.

At the far end another doorway, set between two guarding statues; at that point they knew they had found the final resting place, of the boy Pharaoh … untouched since the day he was laid here in his sarcophagus.

The tour guide, a young, dark-haired woman in her early twenties, crossed the wide gallery, her low heels clicking off the polished hardwood floor precise as a metronome.  When she reached the archway that led to the grand staircase, she turned and waited for the tour to file into the room.  It was a large group today, and the gallery was one of the most popular rooms.  After this room, she could expect several to drop off from the tour and head for the gift shop or even the parking lot, their curiosity had been satisfied.

She took a microphone from its hook on the wall and waited.  When the group had settled into rows of standing, waiting faces, she flashed her best tour guide smile and began.

“Welcome to Exhibition House, previously known as Mantle House, once the famous home of archaeologists James and Daniel Mantle …”  She said , her voice amplified by several small speakers perfectly concealed about the room.  “Exhibition House is one of the oldest and best preserved homes in this part of Knightsbridge.”

She waited, for someone to ask the most relevant question… there was always one on every tour.

“What about the Mantle deaths?” asked a voice from the rear.

“It all started on the 8th March 1972, the 50th anniversary of the Tutankhamen find, when the Mantle brothers were found dead.”  She looked around, all eyes and ears were on her, listening to her every word.  “An amulet from the dig lay on the coffee-table, now situated in the display case to my right,” as she pointed out. 

The police were summoned, and all London was buzzing with curiosity and fear.  People questioned who had committed this dreadful deed, and the pathologist questioned how two healthy people died of natural causes on the same night, and at the exact same time.

The police received a challenging autopsy report from the pathologist.  The joint medical opinion stated they had not been poisoned, brutally murdered or killed by any known means they could find.  At the time of their death, they had been in perfect health, except now they were all dead.  Each body had the look of terror upon its face, and they had been frightened to death all at the same time.  What event caused this, is anyone’s guess … it has become one of the great unsolved mysteries of our time!

The mysterious deaths caused great concern to the police.  They had two dead bodies, and no witnesses!  If only the house could talk, its memories have been locked up within, never to be resolved.  Since that fateful day the place remained locked, never to be lived in again, that was until 1994, when according to solicitors acting on behalf of the Mantle estate, stated one Trevor Mantle, came of age.  It was he who has it brought back to its former glory, under the terms of the will, and re-opened it as a museum.

“What about the ghosts?” someone asked.

The gallery is said to be haunted by several ghosts, although historical identities of the spirits are unknown.  The ghostly sightings began in the early 1900’s, shortly after the main house was built.  The first ghost to be seen at Mantle House is believed to be that of Herbert Asquith, Prime Minister from 1908, who died in 1928.  He is made up entirely of shadows, with burning red coal for eyes.

According to witness statements of 1912, ghostly sightings of one referred to, as the man in grey, so unnerved the master of the house at that time that he took a loaded revolver from his desk, and shot himself through the mouth.

The servant is said to have run from the house to a neighbour’s residence.  Her story of terror seemed too real to be a charade.  In fact, the servant suffered from the trauma for the rest of her short life.  She died mysteriously in an asylum three years later.

When neighbours rushed to investigate the servant’s wild tale, they found the master’s body stretched out on the floor; his revolver lay close by.  The corpse had been burned nearly to ash, yet the remains were cool, and the rest of the house showed no signs of fire. 

In the late 1930’s, the Mantle’s had an extension built on the side of the house, where we are now standing, to store their collection of artefacts from many archaeological digs.  Some years later, visitors report of seeing Tutankhamen, sitting at one end on his gold throne.

To this day, the ghost of The Grey Man, Tutankhamen,  and the one believed to look like Herbert Asquith look alike stalk this house, and have been seen by staff and visitor’s alike.

The tour guide smiled, and took her thumb from the microphone switch.  The tour group stood in a single silence, their expressions ranging from shock to peculiar exhilaration.

“If you will please move forward, we will continue to the next room.”

The group had just begun to move, when a young man to the rear of the group asked.  “What about the ghost of the Mantle brothers?”

The mention of the Mantle sent cold waves through the group.  A woman screamed then collapsed.

The episode lasted only a matter of minutes, but it was enough to put everyone on edge.  The woman who fainted recovered and was helped to her feet, by other members of the tour party.

“Young man,” she spoke with a stern voice.  “Starting on the 8th March, and ending on the 22nd March, each year, numerous unexplained events would take place:  Display cases are known to crack, lights would shimmer on and off, or would explode without reason, room temperatures would drop below zero one minute, followed by a fire engulfing the far wall, hot to look at, but cold to the touch…ghost like images would openly walk the corridors.”

The faces of the group said it all … she had sent fear into each and everyone.  “That is why we don’t speak their names out loud, during those two weeks.  The mention of their names would invoke terror!”

The young man put his fingers to his face, and they came away wet.  The blood vessels in his right eye had burst, and he was weeping bloody tears. 

“See what I mean,” stated the tour guide.  He nodded in response.  “There’s a first aid station next to the gift shop.”

Archaeologists James and Daniel Mantle found the ultimate prize; the Tutankhamen burial chamber … but the curse on the amulet was to cost them their lives.