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The Loadstone Daniel Robert Kibblewhite- Pounds 61a Steep Hill Lincoln LN2 1AH Pages 226 (approx) Word Count 55953 (approx)

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Prologue On these pages are written a book that I didn’t write, it wrote itself, I joke of course but if often appeared to me that characters appeared from nowhere changed their names and fitted. I had this story with me since I was sixteen years old and it has pursued me through most of my adult life, much like the characters in this book. When I relax and there is nothing else to think about this book would pop into my head asking me questions about itself like a child; what does that do?, why does that do that?, who’s he? And why’s he doing that? I doubt it will end even now I’ve finished it. Thank you too my long suffering partner has had to put up with me ranting at speed about subjects, places, relationships and much more that she has no understanding of because they existed only in my head. Thanks to my family who has always supported me if not through words then through actions. Apologies; people and friends who have asked me what this book is about and has been met with an extremely short or massively long drawn out answer also quantum scientists

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and mathematicians, I appreciate that there maybe holes in my theories and do not wish to undermine or insult any established schools of thinking, it’s just a book. A good analogy of this story is a long ball of string (yarn maybe?) that has been straightened, rolled into knots and shoved carelessly in to the pocket of chaos. Ripping apart reality we follow our everyman as he tries to discover how his journey ends. It’s a story about the difference between fate and destiny. My last egotistical outburst is as follows; if you think this is me telling you ‘I’m good enough to entertain you’ don’t because even I’m not sure, this time” ; ) Dan Kibblewhite-Pounds. These times Chapter 1 Saturday 14 May 2005 Somewhere in the strings of time and space, far beyond the comprehension of common man the invisible wheels of chance are begin to turn in a way they rarely do. From the expanse of chaos, options of chance began popping out of existence, narrowing down to a billion or so options, the have their own singularity, positives, negatives, however, one by one they blink out like dead stars. Instead of a flat blank canvass we are looking at tube a single point this reality flies toward us , one universe, one Planet, one continent, one country, one county, one town, one building and then… one man. Stillness.

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* In Britain, inside the fringes of the midlands, nestled like a dormouse in a wooded valley is a charming town called Smallwood. Thick green forest gives way to houses with long pretty gardens attached to combinations of roofs and spires. A large, lush, square shaped park gently and politely pushes apart the brick houses. Moving past Victorian properties is a successful town centre with, independent local shops comfortable against their big brand rivals, a popular cinema and thriving theatre. Passing through Smallwood to its northern side one encounters sharp and modern apartments which offer commuters better access to the motorways allowing good access to the capital without paying London’s property prices. The ‘well to do’ is tolerated but the towns people had both welly booted feet firmly in the soil of the land. Evening was crashing against the shore of sky and some how the combination of gases had managed to do justice to the word beautiful again, stretching feather boas of clouds in colours of pinks, purples and oranges across its almost blue canvas. Instinctively making one release a breath of relaxation and bringing a slight smile. Farmers finish and brush the dust and heat from themselves as they cross the farmyard, 9the blue collar masses watch anxiously from behind their car windscreens at the evening as it blooms and threatens to slip away from them. Families come together for their evening meals and the high temperature cooled from ‘almost sticky’ to ‘bearable but difficult to sleep’

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The evening air is heavy with the smells of cut grass, pollen, wood smoke and every other countryside scent. As the sun and moon share the sky like warriors at either end of the field of war the small town (as its name suggests) and its good size population, low crime rate and overall cheerful grin is bathed in the red warm evening glow of the setting Sun. As is the main past time of the majority, most pub gardens throng with revellers, many back gardens host BBQ’s and two house parties raved with tipsy adolescents. Smallwood is the type of town where children can play out in the streets and very few houses have alarms. Police officers retire themselves to the district and Fire engines are really for displaying at the annual fates and school fundraisers rather than flying through the streets like Hollywood movies. Near the flaking park gates is the Greenman Public House and family Restaurant. It’s a Grade II listed building that has a slouched aged look, as though it’s been made with warm butter. Smooth uneven white walls, old bricks and strategic re-points had kept the character. Outside in the prim beer garden at a wooden table sat a group of men the four of them chuckling to a story that the muscular, black, long distance lorry driver called Ed Briars was telling in a hushed voice. He had almost come to the end of his confession, “I didn’t think about it and that’s when I found out” His vocal range and annunciation betraying him, allowing a clear insight in to his speckled education.

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John Maddock was a down-to-earth history teacher, he had long curly ginger hair was slightly built with glasses. John wore sensible clothes and lived a relatively healthy life he’d met Patrick many years ago as a member of the Greenman football team, now disbanded, they had been beneficial for each other Patrick giving John the much needed lads night out and shocking behaviour required to maintain a healthy mentality. John had giving Patrick the grounding and sound advice he had rarely had from his other friend or family. Ed had not stopped talking to him since he’d starting drinking at the Greenman as far back as he could remember, John didn’t mind. John tried to stop laughing. Sitting next to him is Patrick O’Connor, dripping with gold, his Irish accent making him poplar with the local women. He looks stunned at the story that is being recounted and almost chokes on his Guinness. Although Patrick went under many titles the most correct description was wide boy. If any one needed it, he had it, could get it or would be able to sort it out, his connections ran deep and those that knew him knew not to ask, not because he wouldn’t tell but because he would and laugh at the basis violence and vice he had enjoyed. The strange twisting situations he’d found himself in and how he’d avoided danger, imprisonment and injury. It was like listening to a madman laugh from the depths of a black rabbit hole. If for no other reason than only to stop himself from realising what he’d witnessed should be making him scream. Opposite Patrick the youngest member, Max Trees is nervously watching everyone else’s reaction before giving his own response. Max nineteen knows everyone through Ed. Max is starting to surface from a troubled teenager in to a more rounded adult. Ed

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had discovered Max while working as a lorry driver at a refuse collection company, the young Max had been getting a hard time from the other lads on the shift and Ed seeing things only in two ways right or wrong became Max’s friend and with the behemoth next to him Max’s confidence had grown and he’d left the job and now had a better paid work as a factory operative. They had been thrown together by their sense of humour but in truth too the naked eye they where a strange mixture of individuals. John Maddock holding the table and laughing so hard that his lungs, throat, cheeks and eyes hurt, he almost can’t breathe. He tries to talk. “No stop…No stop…Ha…Sh” he slurs as Ed tries to finish his story. John regains composure. They all pause and draw breath. “What? It’s not funny” Ed’s crest fallen look doesn’t help him. John tries to speak almost laughing before he can say the words. “Hanging on…Gasp…Didn‘t the Adams apple give it away…Bw ha” His composure lost he laughs uncontrollably again. “Get knotted John. She I mean he looked well hot. I don’t even know if I’m gay or not?” Said Ed in his bewildered, self-deprecating way. At 25 years of age he acted more like 17. The group laughed even harder. Patrick regained control of his breathing, his Irish brogue slides smoothly through the air,

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“Well, ha ha, if you bit into a pie and find it’s a chicken pie instead of steak and kidney pie, it doesn’t mean that you like steak and kidney” interjected Patrick with his sagely Irish advice. Ed was captivated by this golden piece of guidance, “Yeah thanks, Paddy” smiled Ed with his big Cheshire cat smile full of big white level teeth. While everyone chuckled Ed joined in unaware he was still the butt of the joke. “So Patrick are you saying that Ed’s eaten all the pies” Max beamed at his friends. Patrick and John fain shock, hiding their chuckles. Max’s face colours and he stares down into his pint. Unfortunately for him his prayers aren’t answered and the world doesn’t open up and swallow him. “I need more beer” announced Ed, draining nearly a full pint. The table erupts in heckles and arguing as they all offer to by the next round and a quick poll decides that it’s Max’s turn to go to the bar and get the round in. “Lager” scowled Ed “Guinness” smiled Patrick “Vodka and coke” slurred John “Right, that’s every thing” confirmed Max, straightened his hoody and cap. He struts across lawn and busy patio to the double doors. As he leaves John follows. “Drain the main vein” he indicates

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Patrick slowly turning to his friend one eye on Johns rambling walk to the pub door, “Stroke of bad luck there with the… well you know” Patrick didn’t have the word transsexual in his vocabulary and so didn’t use it. “Yeah well that’s Thailand for you” Ed shrugged and lit a cigarette. Patricks mind rolled an idea around. Ed blew a thin stream of smoke in to the night air and added, “I got that stuff you wanted” “Oh thanks that’s grand. So where are you going next?” “I got two days here with Michelle and then its back over to Spain” He shrugged. Patrick saw his chance and took it, “If I give you another list of things to pick up while your out on the road will you get them for me” Patrick used his winning smile and Eds frown melted away. “Yeah course I will” said Ed unaware of many of the customs laws. If Ed had been a hotel the lights would all be on but he would have had a flashing neon sign advertising the word ‘Vacant’ in the window. Patrick made his apologies and also left for the toilet. Inside Max had negotiated his way through the Saturday night throng of t-shirts, dresses, aftershave and lipstick. He got to the bar where Ken the landlord noticed him while serving another customer, “Max, take that stupid hat off” Shouted Ken over the hubbub. A few people looked over

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Nodding and blushing Max did as he was told, “You shouldn’t let him push you around like that. You spend enough in here” said John bumping into him. “I thought you was outside” Max frowned, John paused looking worried and then suddenly drunker. “Just going for a pish. Can you make mine a triple vodka coke?” Grinned John. “You sure? That’s four quid. I aren’t made of money” grumbles Max “Don’t tell the guys. Here’s a fiver” John hands the sweaty money to Max who grabs it. Without another word John staggers off into the crowd.

In the toilet at the one of urinals John sways. There’s a flurry of motion behind him and an anonymous cubicle door slams, making him jump and urinate on his shoes. Cursing he finishes moves over to the sink and begins washing his hands. Patrick comes in singing and makes his way across the large washroom. Approaching the mirror and sinks Patrick jokingly checks his hair and notices Johns’ beleaguered reflection. John looked drunk, “Well, looking at the state of you, you won’t be too good tomorrow” Patrick produces a small comb and slicks his dark cascading hair back. John looks up at Patrick in the mirror and raises an important looking finger and says,

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“Yes well it’s better to have lived another day and lost, than too have never loved at all” a puzzled expression appears on Johns face as he tries internally to translate his own words. He realises that he has just butchered about a four or more proverbs and mentally ticks himself off. Patrick begins chuckling and puts a meaty tattooed arm around Johns shoulders. “The good news for you… And bad news for me, is its nearly last orders and closing time” “Oh no, Susan will be home from her Yogasize classes and be wondering where I am. Better make this my lashed drunk, I mean drink” Surmised John, wobbling out of the men’s toilets and leaving Patrick chortling. Crossing the patchy green lawn Patrick nods his head to an attractive lady who had been blatantly staring at him and joins his friends and finds them debating the merits of Max’s cap. “It’s nice and everything but I don’t want one, I mean, I’d look like a right Muppet in one wouldn’t I. Alright my names Ed, do you like my cap? I don’t think so” Ed did a little sitting dance for the group. “Well I don’t wear it cause’ anyone else likes it. I like it” defended Max chin in the air. “Good for you, there, young man” encouraged Patrick raising his glass.

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“I don’t like people in hatsh, I mean, what are they trying to hide under there?” slurred John waving his free hand above his head his behaviour influenced by the fact that he had nearly finished his last heavily loaded drink. John’s alcohol intolerance was well documented and only 5-6 drinks where needed for him to be swaying like a reed in a storm. Patrick looked warily at Ed and nodded in a way that said ‘look at the state John is in’. On cue Ed leaned over practically nose to nose with John “Are you alright? You gone, all like, cross-eyed” Ed looked at John very closely with a concerned puppy dog expression and John tried to focus on Ed. “Yesh just finishing my lasht drink then I’m going home, thank you Mr Ed…Bwha…Mr Ed...Like the horse…Bw ha” John roared with machine gun laughter and splashed some of his remaining drink on to the table. “What’s a Mr Ed Horse?” Ed asked his other two companions, with a bewildered look. This resulted in everyone else laughing loudly. Ed Just smiled innocently. After feeding John a glass of water they say their good byes and head out in to the night. As John staggers away from the pub toward the park a bizarre figure stepped out of the shadows and follows him.

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Birds in flight Chapter 2 Sunday 15th May 2005 Miles away after a night of drizzle, a summer Sunday morning dries away the moisture and insects come to life again. The sun is low and it’s early, on the motorway a car is speeding along. The car is stolen and its engine roars, the man behind the wheel is bedraggled and wired, big red rims round his eyes. His body aches as do the several angry wounds on his right leg. He’s desperate and running, the police may have started tracking him, trying to find him. He wasn’t use to failure, he was a man of violence accustom to winning. His clothes have little to no odour but they’re dirty, unwashed and stagnant. A mass of layers that are an attempt to keep out the cold, even the sunlight couldn’t warm him. His sickness he called a curse from god and one man his body was chilled from the inside out. His throbbing limbs begged for ‘sleep’ but he pushed onwards and the car swerved as his head bobs as exhaustion forces him to doze. He snaps awake instantly and seeing some services he drags the car off the motorway and hurriedly pulls into the car park. He smacks the keys and the engine dies.

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Slumped over the wheel he feels beaten, he closes his eyes and rests his head on the steering wheel. Just a moment to rest is all he needs. Then he thinks of his leg the strange puncher wounds that are slowly emptying him out, he has to get up, move on. Slowly he lifts his head and opens his eyes. The world is double for a second and begrudgingly comes back into focus, “Snap out of it” he shouts at himself, punching the dashboard. Grabbing an opened can of Red Bull from the cup holder on the dashboard he drains the rest of the can, crushes it and carelessly drops it on the floor. He swings his body out of the car favouring his good leg, he doesn’t lock it as he’s far to preoccupied with walking. A careless footstep makes him stop briefly as the pain spin up his thigh and in to his groin. He grunts, regards the nasty, sharp looking purpose built Motel and sneers. A bright yellow sign with a worn sun logo almost warned people ‘Pit Stop Services, Restaurant, Facilities and Motel’ it was a building that with age had all but faded, dull curtain less windows and grey leprous paint. Remembering his purpose his motivation kicks in. He shuffles through the first sets of double doors into the halfway foyer, cursing his wounded leg. He passes two silent garish pay and ride space ships for children. Through the second door he finds a large tiled expanse, the whole place ominously empty. It wanted to be full of customers, the void was unpleasant and almost annoyed. It reminded him of the start of some old zombie movie he seen almost a lifetime ago.

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Standing completely still he scanned the area; a closed burger bar, a separate coffee shop with open plan seating, bleeping and flashing arcades, a newspaper and convenience shop that would contain everything except alcohol. He would locate an off licence later as tonight he wouldn’t be able to sleep again with out help.

He limps in to the shop and over to the shelves smiling he finds a travel first aid kit in a bright green box, as he leaves he spots the CD rack selects one CD and blatantly puts it in his clothes. He walks past the woman serving behind the counter. She stares at her fingernails and chews gum, she doesn’t register his presence, stop him or say anything to him. Neither of them speaks and he leaves without paying. Hobbling into the toilets, he slides in to a cubicle, finds a comfortable position and cautiously rolls up his trouser leg. He grits his teeth as he checks his wounds. Three deep and nasty wounds, two where deep and struggling to repair the third hosted a nasty livid red clot. He tore open the packets of bandages with his teeth and applied them tightly to the punctured calf muscle. He washed his hands, tided up his hair and left the toilets, leaving traces of blood and ripped packages. He limped across the tiles in to the relative dark of the arcade, over to a change machine he starts feeding the notes from the stolen wallet into the slot, pound coins nosily crash down in to the tray. The memory rolling through his head of the victorious moment when he had made him fall, when his victim had dropped powerless like a sack of potatoes. The weight of the knife in his hand, flashing lights makes him blink and sober his mind from the drunkenness of those thoughts.

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He drops some money but roughly puts £30.00 in pound coins in his pockets. His head hurts too much he has to get this finished and get out into the fresh air. Before leaving he more or less empties the vending machines of snacks and another vending machine of coke and caffeine drinks. He’s an old hand at this, reaching in to the main folds of his over sized over coat and producing two carrier bags. He fill them both to bulging, he clutches the bags and unsteadily leaves, a smile crosses his unshaven face as he makes the door swing violently shut behind him almost shattering the glass in it. Inside the woman behind the counter jumps and awaits a customer, after ten minutes she becomes confused and disheartened. Back at the car he throws the bags on the passenger seat and forces the engine in to life and drives straight out of the car park on to the motorway. It’s a summer’s morning, early, very clear and a Sunday thank god. His leg felt better and he was looking forward to the CD, maybe that will keep him awake. Anbury can’t be that far away. The speedometer reads 100mph and that was how it was going to be all the way.

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Dead man walking Chapter 3 Saturday 14 May 2005

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The night before the stolen car ever started its journey revellers where leaving ‘The Greenman Public House and Family Restaurant’. The night is still fresh but a practiced nose would have smelt rain coming in to the valley. As John walks home on his usual route from The Green Man Public House and Family Restaurant his mind wanders. ‘Mr Ed horse? Adams apple" Chuckles John. Expectedly or unexpectedly the fresh air and the vodka combine and the pavement won’t stay still. John starts staggering, every twenty yards he has to stop himself from falling and annoyingly regroup his efforts. After the thirteenth attack of pavement rage, the frustration begins to build and he starts coaching himself but to no avail. He grabs the park fence and stops for a few minutes. ‘I need to breathe and stand straight. Come on it’s not a long walk’ John slurred under his breath. A couple passed him and laugh quietly to themselves at the drunk who was speaking to himself. John didn’t see them; he was lost in his dilemma. ‘Got to get home, start to think this through. Right John Maddock your a Teacher of History, you have a masters degree, you have a beautiful wife, you played your father in law at squash and won.’ John bolstered his confidence. Feeling convinced he lets go of the fence and stands rigid trying not to sway.

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Following Park Lane like a man with one leg longer than the other John makes slow progress albeit at a strange angle, arriving at the park, he raises both arms and lets out a small cheer as he enjoys an intoxicated sense of enflamed achievement. When John was about eleven years old the park had been the centre of the local community, a big multi layered park of gardens, playgrounds, sports pitches, buildings that had been tearooms, public toilets, specimen trees and at the centre a great big lake with an mysterious island. His school summer holidays spent playing here, until either too sunburnt, tired or in trouble to play anymore. The park was a mid way point for many journeys, terraced houses faced on to the south and west side. The Green Man Public House and Family Restaurant was on the northern side, behind it the transition in to the town centre, and the east side of the park had detached larger houses, this was John’s destination. He started instructing himself again as he staggered. The yellow streetlight fading as the gloom in the park took hold. His eyes struggled to adjust to the dark and so instinct and memory guide him. In the distance a familiar light shone he headed toward it. He carried on with ‘two steps forward and three steps back’ for a while and took a right hand turn in the path. It’s clearly lit by a single white lamppost, with a graffitied red dog toilet bin begrudgingly strapped to it. Further ahead the path begins to get darker. He slouched on with blurred vision through the rose gardens that had won numerous awards for their beauty which was lost in the darkness. Crossing the centre of a football pitch he’s almost half way across home.

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Leaving the sports field, he follows a tarmac path that runs alongside a meandering stream where, as a child he had caught Tadpoles and Millers Thumbs, but in those days the stream was more of a small river than a shallow rivulet. The bushes on either side brush against him as he staggers left and right. The temperature drops although John doesn’t notice. ‘Nearly there, not far to go’ John smiled. Suddenly a figure steps out of the bushes in front of him. John doesn’t have time to react and walks into him. They stand for a moment in silence then before John can focus and without warning the figure lashes out. Johns brain tries to react; He’s hitting me, a fist in the mouth. I can feel pain, I’m overwhelmed and a punch in the stomach, I’m winded, can’t breathe. I’m doubled over. His fist comes up again in to my nose, there’s a crack and more pain my head lashes straight back. Oh god I don’t fight, what do I do?

My legs are weak and I’ve fallen down into the bushes, I’m being sick, I can’t breathe and he’s pulling at my jacket, taking it off me. Then he starts going through my jeans pockets, he’s fast and strong. I need to breathe, I’m moving trying to get air and again his fist comes in to my face.

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He didn’t want a fight. I didn’t want to be mugged…

Rain drops on my face my mouth hurts. I sweet air sweeps in to me and tasty iron and feel blood running from my bleeding nose down the back of my throat. I realise it’s raining, big splats of drops on my face and I’m getting cold, lying in a bush, he got my jacket, my wallet, wanted my………..unconsciousness. The figure stands over his prone victim and shoves the car keys, wallet and house keys into his layers of clothes. He licks his lips, nervously aware of this being his long awaited prize and slowly opens a large lock knife. The same knife that had got him years ago, he hears a voice and stows the blade momentarily. He turns to face the interruption and at that end John’s life had been saved.

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Goddesses Chapter 4

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Midnight 14th May 2005 Throughout Smallwood people looked at watches, clocks, asked partners and pressed the time button on their TV remote controls to discover what time it was. Joining in with this activity was Patrick O’Connor’s on/off girlfriend Katie Crabtree. A woman that was never without make up on, stern on the outside and feline on the inside. She tossed and turned trying sleep, in a large double bed that felt too empty, in an apartment that was more like a show piece than a home, one of two she owned. Her sleep disturbed by the stress of an impending presentation to the board of directors on Monday. She opened her eyes and looked at the “state of the art media console” on her bedside table. It had email, Internet, radio alarm clock and hands free phone all rolled in to one. Its illuminesent backlit flat screen display read 12.45. She sighed and rolled away to the empty side of the bed and realised that she was really missing good hard stress busting as Patrick put it ‘shag’.

Max Trees’ skinny and track suited Girlfriend Sandra Walker watched the Addias clock in the lounge and waited. Upstairs fast asleep was their six year old daughter Leah Trees, who was an angel with pigtails. She had missed daddy saying goodnight, where as Sandra mostly wished Max would never come back. Leah’s Daddy worked hard in a big factory and the factory sometimes let him bring crisps home for her when he done really well.

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Sandra on the other hand had got pregnant at sixteen and found that exciting, funny Max did nothing except go out with his mates and play computer games. She had told Max to be back by midnight. She was livid at the idea that he may be home a minute past and she continued to watch the clock. Ed Briar’s Fiancée Michelle was very drunk and wobbling around the high street with a group of her friends, from the bakery where she works, double shifts on a Thursday Friday and late shift on a Tuesday and Wednesday. She’s a cute, dizzy, little blond girl who loves Ed with all the innocence in her. She’s almost lent up against a bollard in the market square car park, checking the time on her mobile phone, she disappointedly tutted. Looking up, she smiled when she saw Ed coming in to sight. He waved both hands, smiling and shouting “OY, OY”. John Maddocks’ wife Susan Joy Maddock was a steady and beautiful woman who retained her English rose beauty, in the way a blank canvas can be painted, simple beauty but powerful. Intellectually Susan could converse seriously on almost any subject. She sat in her plush brown dressing gown with her hair wrapped up a matching brown towel, nursing a large, half full, glass of white wine while patiently watching the closing titles of the local news station.

Max had stopped off at a mate’s house and was currently rolling a joint to see him home on the last leg of his journey and to numb the pain he would receive from the woman he had impregnated accidentally three years ago. He chatted to his friend enthusiastically

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about his daughter but due to the huge amounts of THC circulating in his companions’ blood stream Max received little more than grunts peppered by Hyena like laughter.

Susan Maddock didn’t object to John going out and socialising, she encouraged it. She loved John and would hate him to think that she had ever criticised any of his friends or family. Although most of his friends could be excused, Patrick O’Connor had crossed the line once or twice too often, always ‘borrowing’ things. Her main concern was the fact John would get too drunk and likely to be wrapped up in Patrick’s corrupt world. She hated herself for thinking that her husband needed to be molly coddled and looked after but maybe, just maybe, it was that she needed him to need her. She snapped out of her train of thought. The time was now 1.30am. John had rarely ever been this late without ringing. He would of course be half cut and babbling apologies but never without prior arrangement. She drained her second glass of wine of the evening and headed to the hall of the Victorian, bay windowed, house. The property was healthy size with a good length garden and room for children some day she hoped. The thick carpet was soft under her feet and she frowned at the now falling rain on the windows.

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She picked up the receiver from the coat/telephone stand and cordless phone in hand returned to the lounge, curling up on the settee she turned down the television and dialled his number. She grew visibly smaller as the automatic answer machine took the call, ‘Hello this John here, leave a message and I’ll call you back as soon as possible. Bye’ ‘Bleep’ “Hi, it’s me. Where are you I’m getting worried……? I’ll call Ed and Max………. I miss you bye” She hung up and immediately a lump formed in her throat. Then she realised with irritation that sat on the coffee table next to the arm chair was her husbands mobile phone. She often reprimanded him for not taking it with him, but being a technophobe was one of Johns endearing qualities. Besides how often can you use a phone when you work in a school? Her mind turned gloomy and she began assuming the worst. Selfish pig he’s out at a club with Patrick, the arsehole or gone round to Ed’s to jam on guitars and drink Jack Daniels. Both of these heinous relationship crimes had been committed by John before and she reminded him of them when their rows got too heated, too drunken or both which was about once every four months. The phone rang suddenly Susan jumped out of her skin, dropped the phone and scrambled across the settee for it. Laying prone across the large sofa with her head towel a mess she pressed the answer button. Before she could say hello the other person desperately spoke over her. The voice was hushed but urgent on the phone,

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“There you are, why’re not answering your mobile, yah great bollocks. Any how if Kate rings you say you was round at my mothers and we got nice and drunk and that’s the last you saw of me, asleep on the settee at me ma’s. OK” A thick syrupy Irish accent filled her left ear. “Who is this” Snapped Sue enraged, then before the response, the pieces of the puzzle fitted and she spoke again.“Patrick is that you?” “Oh Hi Sue. John not back yet?” The cocky confidence gone and a distinct embarrassed tone coming over Patrick’s Irish drawl. “No. So he’s not with you then?” Sue confirmed to herself out loud. Sitting bolt up right on the settee nervously, loosing the towel, sumptuous damp curls of dark hair fell around her shoulders and face. “Nope, last time I saw your man he was doing the vodka shuffle towards the park” whispered Patrick. “Oh” there was worse things than being in a club with Patrick the arsehole and Jamming with Ed and drinking too much Jack Daniels and that was Susan not knowing where he was. “Hey Sue. He’ll be fine. Christ knows he’d had a skin full, well a John skin full. Get some rest and leave the back door on the latch” cooed Patrick “Patrick if this is some sort of cover story or game, I bloody have you” she spat getting angry.

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“Look darling you can’t blame me for all that’s wrong in the world. Truth is I was after John covering for me” Patrick realised he had almost certainly said too much but the alcohol in his blood stopped him from caring. “I just want him to come home” she begged ignoring his confession, tears beginning to bubble out of her. “Take deep breaths, relax, no more wine and get some rest.” Patrick whispered. “Bye” she hung up. Dropped the phone on to the settee and slouched off to bed feeling miserable and a bit tipsy. She fell into a deep sleep and never heard her husbands’ car being stolen.

Elsewhere in the town of Smallwood ‘Right time for a shag’ thought Patrick, rubbing his hands together. Putting his mobile phone back in his pocket, he gracefully appear from the downstairs toilet and returned to his companion who was sitting in on a settee, in a very posh house that Patrick had never been into before. He smouldered as he entered the room. “Sorry sweetheart, when nature calls, she calls” smirked the Irish Romeo “Well I’m nature and it’s my turn to call” growled the sex victim

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As the light drizzle got heavier on the windows and roofs of Smallwood, Patrick smiled as he escorted a very drunk and extremely grateful lady called Elizabeth upstairs. She had been watching him in the pub garden all evening and was currently smiling form ear to ear, her heart attack of a husband was currently out of town on a monotonous business trip and she was on a sure thing, with a man much younger than her. John had a slug on his face, not that he would have noticed.

Explanations

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Chapter 5 Sunday 15th May 2005 In a bush in Smallwood Park, John Maddock regained consciousness and as the razors of old alcohol cut in to him he started regretting it. I’m asleep, in the bit between waking and dreaming when every thing is soft, warm and safe. Sensations begin to arrive slowly then like a blanket being ripped off you in the morning, I realise I’m awake. I realise everything’s wrong, even before I open my eyes, I can feel a slimy sensation on my face, cold air around me and wet under me. I can sense hot breath on my face and hear a slobbering and sniffing noise. There is a pungent, sort of, wet dog smell! I open my eyes, one at a time and the light makes me blink. Bizarrely all I can see is the face of a cocker spaniel with a brown patch over one eye, all wagging tail, bad breath and licking my face. Where, the hell am I? I look up there appears to be bushes covering me I try to focus further. The park, I’m still in the bloody park, oh god! Sue! The park is hazy and bright. It must have rained in the night I’m freezing, my body so cold, I’m not shaking just stiff and tense. Its early morning, I lift my arm and look at my watch, its difficult to see the time because the suns breaking through. With my watch 2 inches away from my face it reads 7.43 am.

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I start to remember the walk home. The alcohol returns abruptly and it feels like a massive rusty plough is being dragged through my head, ripping a hole in my brain, obviously thinking too hard and too quickly. Slowly think, what day is it? Must be Sunday, hopefully it’s Sunday. I lay there for a second, the spaniel stands, wagging its tail, barking and sniffing. I have been mugged that I know. I hate dogs they scare me but I ignore it and carry out a personal itinerary; He had taken my jacket which had contained my wallet. My glasses where still on my face. He hadn’t taken my watch or my wedding ring. My jacket had also contained my keys. The dog bounces around me in the bushes making them shake dew onto us. A figure blocks the sun and casts a shadow over me. I recoil, “Ship” I yell surprised. My bottom lip swollen, making me sound like Joseph Merrick, the Elephant man. My vision is blurry but I can make out a grey haired man. He stops, staring through the gap in the bushes at me. I feel unusual, exposed, embarrassed. I must look odd, even stranger lying in a bush covered in mud, vomit, dog spit, bruises and blood. After a breather he surmises, “Walking the dog” Says the old man without batting an eyelid. He points his walking stick at the spaniel, which, at the time is sniffing my ear. I try to sit up.

The old man continued to talk, as if he needed the silence to be filled up with words. I just stare at him. He has a bushy grey beard and wild white hair. It’s like his eyes and

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nose are in the middle of a huge grey pompom. His army issue trench coat is dark green and sticking out of one pocket is a newspaper, in the other a dog lead. He’s wearing big black boots carrying a walking sticking in one hand with metal shield badges all over it and a pipe in his other. “He found you first, if wasn’t for your leg sticking out like that I’d of missed you” the spaniel continued to lick my face. The old country gentleman lit his pipe that stuck out of his mouth through an ancient beard and sucked on it. “Err, yeah, I think I was mugged” I answer my voice coming out all raspy and awkward, like tyres on gravel. “Right, then best get you up” he said then surprisingly nimble bends over to help me. I crawl on to my hands and knees then try to stand, head swims, I stagger and he catches me. “Thanks” I wheeze “Phew, you stink of booze! Who mugged you? The drink or a lady” he chuckles, putting my on to my feet. “I think it could have been a man” he didn’t react. “By the look of you, you need to talk to the police” his eyes don’t meet mine and he whistles for his dog.

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We begin a slow walk in the same direction. My head feels like it’s going to explode, I rub my temple and catch a bruise, ouch. “No point, I didn’t see him” I say without thinking. The mood changes and the old man sighs, stops and deftly put his walking stick out in front of me like a sword, shepherding me to a standstill. I have to stop. He turns and pointed a bent leathery finger at me, his eyes twinkling, “See ere, people like the one who done this to you, they do it again and if you don’t tell the police, well…what happens next is up to you”. He turns away then looking back he says “sermon over” A massive shiver runs down my spine, “It’s like someone just walked over my grave” “By the look of you, they could have” the old man smiled through his beard. “Yeah” I try a smile but my lip hurts. Up ahead I spotted something on a bush some way up the path slightly battered and soaked. “What are you starring at?” the old man asked following my line of vision. “My jacket I think” we walk over together, I pick it up. Empty and slightly blood stained. Nothing in it, not even my polos.

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Anger rose and fell in my weakened body. It’s my jacket I bought it, I like it and I’m going to wear it. I slithered my arms in and it squelched, in an act of defiance, I felt and properly looked like the dictionary term of disgusting. Something bounced in my spirit as though I’d come through something huge and survived. A tattered action hero bruised and bloody still lives to fight the good fight. “That’s not very nice” grimaced the old man. I shrugged and the jacket farted in response At the top of the path we reached the gate to the park, it was a set of the huge oldfashioned Victorian type. I had climbed all over them as a child in the summer of 1983 when the climbing frame was been replace in the playground, now the grand gates where covered in rust and flaking paint. They’re where no longer used for security and never locked. It’s a warm morning and the street is reasonably quiet. I invite my new companion and his dog to my house for a cup of tea and a bowl of water, however he assures me that he and the spaniel had had enough excitement for one day. And that he too had to get home to his wife. My reasons where selfish, he just made me feel safer to be honest. I had about 20 minutes more walking left to do and could have used the company, maybe the reluctant hero then. On the walk home, thinking about the pub and the amount that I had drunk it didn’t make sense, 5 vodkas and coke and I was staggering around like I’d had 15 pints. My head pounded reminding me like vicious bully.

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I turn the corner at the top of my street. Home, Three bed rooms, bay window Victorian, semi detached, with own garage, rear access, great sized garden, big ‘man world’ shed, my wife’s in there somewhere. We made the mortgage repayments and still got to go to Minorca or Majorca once a year. In a ball of lead forms in my stomach, my car’s gone, I bought it for cash from a young guy in the paper who lived across town he was really proud of that car and insisted I looked after it, have I let him down? Guilty for not being a stronger man Swearing under my breath as Chris Rea and John Lennon have also been stolen, for some strange reason I miss my CD’s in the car more than the car itself. Panic begins to crawl up my neck, what if the car thief got in to the house. Automatically I tear in to a full sprint with pistons full of adrenalin. The living room curtain twitches and the front door swings open, Susan stands in the doorway in her dressing gown. The vision of her slams in to me like bricks. She’s beautiful. We had met at Ed’s Party years ago, her friend Kate had brought her. I miss heard Ed on the phone and thought he’d said ‘togas party’ and turned up dressed as a Caesar, obviously everyone else was dressed normally eating Tapas food. It was September and I spent three hours trying to hide in the garden, thinking no one would venture out in to the frigid air but she spotted me through the French windows. We spent the whole night talking and got so drunk and laughed more than I had ever done. I waited 12 months before popping the question, her “daddy” a bull dog in a suit

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made it obvious he didn’t approve, but “mummy” did the rest was ours. Her eyes are steel grey now, her chin out and lips pursed could only mean she isn’t happy “Where the…?” then she looked at me again and her eyes softened. “What the hell happened to you?” I could smell bacon. Susans one and only comfort food. I feel defeated my strength’s gone I can barely talk let alone explain “I was coming home from the Greenman. I was in the park, by the stream and this huge ape of a man tried to mug me, I put up a fight but he was heavily built and knocked me out and took all my stuff” I feel tears welling up and struggle to control my inner child. As always she deals with everything extremely well she gathered me together, she was my home. She hugged me as I stepped through the door, regardless of my sordid condition. “I saw your car had gone and just thought you’d left for your mothers early” we walked in to the hallway. I cursing myself I had agreed to visit my mother and now not going would proberly have her worrying or ringing me or both. Dad went the way of the dodo after the big C got him about 15 years ago and Mum and I had been closer ever since. I would ring later and explain but that phone call would have to wait.

“He took my keys so he must have taken the car, dam it” I groan standing in the kitchen.

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“And your house keys” Susan’s eyes where wide and open, I read panic on her face. She plopped down on to a chair next to the table. It’s like she’s discovered an embarrassing dirty secret. “uhuh” I can feel the rising heart burn of dread. Susan’s mindlessly pinching her bottom lip between thumb and forefinger, looking in to space, dead ahead and she talks unedited, “This is serious, he knew where you, I mean we, us. You and I live and proberly when you would be walking home, he has the car and he could come back when he, I mean, I say he but it could have been a she, but, no but your saw him and you said it was a him, unless there’s more of them, a team, a group. They could come back. No that’s silly, right. I have to think straight. They have the keys they can gain access. I’ve got it! ” She locks concerned eyes with mine. I’m feeling numb, happy to be home and safe. I don’t know the words to say so I nod. Susan doesn’t babble, she told me as a child she had a stutter and had extensive speech therapy, the result being she can talk at 100mph. “Simple solution we will have to change all the locks” she surmised. Her features had narrowed purposely and she had the answer. “I never thought about it like that, I mean it didn’t occur to me, I mean we should...” I whine and slump on the worktop. Noticing my condition properly she grimaced and said “Go upstairs and get cleaned up and I’ll call the police”

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I hate the police. When I was 10 years old my dad had been beaten up by a group of youths they had been picking on the owner f the local shop my dad had told them to sling their hook and when he got outside they all jumped him. We used to watch The Bill and had every faith and the police would nail the bad guys and they would go to jail but when they found them the police couldn’t do anything about it. After that we moved to Smallwood and I suppose that’s one of the reasons why I’m a teacher to help from the inside. I turning on the shower, took off my glasses, studied my face in the washbasin mirror. Split lip, bloodied nose, mud in my hair and a black eye. I lift my shirt a tender bruise on the left hand side of my stomach. The steaming hot shower reinforced how good it feels to be home. The knots of muscle in my back relax under the jets of water. I was in the bedroom and had just gingerly pulled a fresh jumper over my head when the doorbell rang, Police.

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Police Chapter 6 Sunday 15th May 2005 In the kitchen I voraciously devour a bacon sandwich it feels like I haven’t eaten in months ignoring the pain in my lip. Susan as always is playing hostess and has supplied

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refreshments and had proberly asked the police to be patient with me as I was a bit delicate. She glides in to the kitchen and tells me the police would like to speak to me now. The four of us sit in the lounge, introductions are made. The younger officer looks shocked at my injuries, the older PC squinted and smiled, he seamed to gather motivation upon seeing my condition. Joyfully brandishing a notebook he clicked his pen in to life. Had this been in Dickens’ time he would have joyfully licked the end of his pencil. “Well it’s obvious from your apparent injures that your story collaborates with the situation, ahem, I mean incident” PC Young was wearing an uncomfortable looking black vest with more gadgets than batman. He’s using flowery words, force of habit I assume just another way to confuse the lower I.Q. monsters that he must encounter. His black hair slightly speckled with grey and most annoyingly he’s sitting in my chair. I don’t like him, he’s entirely northern and surly.

Across from him in the other arm chair next to the television is P.C Bamberg. He is young, fair-haired, no more than 20 years old and looks as stupid as a bag of snails. We are all enjoying an earl grey tea and bourbon biscuits. PC Bamberg’s smiling broadly which I find very disturbing for a police officer. Susan’s sat next to me on the settee holding my hand to reassure me that everything will be fine.

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“So did you get a good look at the assailant?” PC Young commands pointing his raised pen at his notebook. “No” I exhale “I understand, but if you can just think back and maybe try and remember” He pushes the point, frowning. I try to think, my mind struggles to take me back to that place, it’s dark, it’s very dark the figure, I can see, I can see the eyes of my attacker. My mind pushes away the image. “No” I shrug “Height then, Average, Fat, thin” “You said he was built like and Ape” Offers Susan. The two police officers shoot each other a knowing look. I smile apologetically. “I know it sounds odd Mr Maddock but try closing your eyes and concentrate” he nods. I take a deep breath, “Sure” Squeezing my eyes shut I can see the grass on either side of the path. A figure ahead in the distance, tall...

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All of a sudden my chest goes tight painfully tight, my skin’s suddenly super sensitive. If this is a heart attack then I’m really not ready, I’m hot and sticky, other worldly, aware of every vibration in the room. Opening my eyes wide everything’s in slow motion, the mantelpiece clock ticks like a gong, Susan’s heartbeat is a deafening boom, boom and the policemen’s heartbeats are also loudly beating. I feel as though I can drift and follow the noise of a passing car, my minds floating through the glass of the window. Outside the house there are visible waves of colour from the music playing on a radio in a nearby garden it’s so vivid. There’s white noise the world goes black, I’m somewhere strange not in my home, my body is hurting. It looks like an aquarium some kind of box I’m laying on a floor, I’m inside an aquarium looking, out trapped.Pain tears down my pine as I shift my body weight to force my way out, raising my hand, it’s covered in blood. My index finger is point at a horrific angle. Confusion, panic, get out, get away, get back to the house out and of this box. I try and move ignoring the pain but there’s little room and I desperately need to make sense of this and escape but I can’t workout how to break out. The glass has steamed up but I can make out the letters on a sign on building in the distance “OP SERV”. There’s white noise and I’m back, it’s gone, like the hypnotists clicking his fingers and saying ‘and you’re back in the room’. My heads still woozy, PC Bulldog is talking, “Sorry Mr Maddock. You said ‘OP SERV’. What do you mean by that?” PC Young talks like he’s in slow motion, I can’t understand to begin with, I turn my head to one side like

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a befuddled animal and he repeats himself. Concerned cartoon faces looking in on me from all sides. I stare at the police officers, their faces are blurry and twisting, like putty. They slowly come in to focus. I realise I’m leaning forward, swaying, open-mouthed and drool slides off my bottom lip. I catch it in a sucking action and suddenly feel very ill. “I feel sick” I don’t really finish the last word because I’m running to the downstairs toilet door. Throwing the small cupboard toilet door open and sliding to my knees, head in the pan and retching bacon sandwich followed by dry retches horrible and painful. It hurts my bruised side and after six or seven I roll away from the pan, eyes streaming and slump in a heap. There’s a tap on the door “It’s me” Susan. “I told them to leave”, she makes everything better “are you OK?” “I’ll been fine just need to pull myself together” my voice is throaty. “What does ‘OP SERV’ mean?” she asks. I stand shakily up and open the door. She smiles slightly, worry painted across her face and I want to say ‘no don’t worry’ but I can’t I’m wrapped up in my remorse, in myself. She grabs my hand and I smile. “If I tell you, you won’t believe me” I’m almost firm.

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“Darling, I will always believe anything you say no matter how wild and unlikely. Remember toga?” she chuckles. The party we met at flashes in my minds eye. “Yes and I remember you trying to ride a garden bench to the nearest kebab shop” we exchange smiles enjoying shared memories. She has me and I know she’s on my side. We sit down in the kitchen, I rinse my mouth out in the sink and then join her at the table. Her mouth says nothing but her eyes practically shout, waiting for further information. “O.K, I was sitting on the settee and everything went weird, it was just a funny turn” I’m not lying to her I’m just protecting her. “Oh! You looked so scared, the way you looked me and at my hand was like it was… well I don’t know” she trails off. She can sense I’m holding back. “If I tell you, you promise not to get worried” I say hands, out palms down, as if trying to fan a fire, almost comedy Liverpudlian. She nods quickly. “I felt like I was removed from my body. I was somewhere else. In a box or something with a big glass roof or side, I’m not sure. I tried to get out and there was blood, my blood” She interrupts “Blood” Susan echoes. “Yes, I was hurt all over really. I couldn’t work out what to do and then, through the window I saw the letters ‘OP SERV’” I was staring at the floor rerunning the images through my mind.

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“Oh God” she tries not to look concerned. “What do you mean ‘Oh God’?” “The policeman said that they, Oh they left a card.” she handed it to me and continued, “They said that they would need a full statement and you will have to be checked out and they would get a copy of the medical report. But they said” she was looking tearful. She breathed deeply and said with some difficulty in keeping her voice level, “The policeman said you could have concussion” her eyes well up and I grab her hand. “I feel fine. If anyone has concussion it’s that meat head P.C Young” I smile, hurting my lip. “You need to go to hospital” she said sternly her voice wobbling. “No I don’t, it’s only a few bruises” I tried to avoid her eyes but fail. They’re like lasers of reason and I feel them burn in to me. “Please honey for me, I know you’ve been through a lot” Susan is without doubt is my hero and she often saves me from myself and most of the time even in spite of myself. The hospital is dreary and uneventful except for a man with his foot pointing the wrong way in A&E. Doctors and nurses asking me to follow lights with my eyes and testing reactions, simple and a waste of time really. They take pictures and I’m asked not to smile.

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We get back home late and pick up two portions of fish and chips from town. My mother rings to ask why I haven’t visited and I tell her that everything’s OK and tell a white lie that I had a bit of a fall. “I hope Susans looking after you properly?” She typically asks. I look at Susan who is balancing a bag of chips on her knees while struggling with the brown sauce bottle. “I couldn’t ask for better care,” I answer cradling the phone in my neck and chin while opening the bottle for her.

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Phone a friend Chapter 7 Monday 16th May 2005 Patrick O’Connor gluttonously devoured the large fried breakfast in front of him. He had almost finished and was mopping the sauce and grease up with a piece of unbuttered bread. The mixture had gone cold but he noisily and gratefully chewed it, swallowing hard. The plate was empty and as he swiftly drank the half mug of tea, his mother stood by the sink cradling her own mug with the word Ma on it. The pride in her eyes was immense. Patrick had risen from his make shift bed on the settee at about midday, staggered about in his boxer shorts for half an hour. His mother had scolded him and sent him off to the bathroom to get washed and dressed. Now fed, watered and awake he would need to make haste as he was due to work as a bouncer on the door of a local night club, but first he need to get some supplies. He never touched drugs himself but he sold a lot of them,

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quietly, cautiously and to the right people. His security employment strictly cash in hand and off the records. “So are going to fix the tumble dryer today or not?” his mother asked in a deep Irish lull, “Ah, ma I’ve got to get to an appointment” He whinged. “So when are you going to fix it?” She asked sternly. Patrick crossed the kitchen of the two up to down council house and slid the dirty plate, mug and cutlery in to the sink of foamy water. “I’ve got a lot on” He quickly hugged his mother and kissed her on top of her head, he being nearly six foot and she being deniably under five foot. “As you’re in no hurry I’ll ask your brother Mick” Her ruse worked and Patrick’s pride was injured. “That bollicks, he’ll blow the house up” “Patrick language” she scolded him “I’ll do it tomorrow” He smiled. “Good lad” she grinned. “Now Ma could you sub me I’m a bit short” Patrick had been waiting for the right point to slide this in to the conversation. His Mother had also been waiting for this to happen as it always did.

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“How much do you want this time? Is fifty enough” she asked and answered. “Oh ma you’re the best” Patrick’s eyes shone as his mother reached in to her bra and produced a hefty roll of notes. Pocketing the cash, he walked in to the next room picked his jacket up and checked everything was in place, wallet, cigarettes and lighter. He checked his phone 83 missed calls. The phone vibrated in his hand and he answered mechanically, “Hello. Yes I’m working tonight. Yes well last night I had some stuff to sort out. No I’m meeting a friend in Anbury. Yeah, the museum. Don’t worry I’ll be there” Patrick’s mystery caller had just changed his plans but he could work round it. “Ma… I’m taking the car” He grabbed the car keys on his way out the door.

Just another, like any other Chapter 8 Monday 16th May 2005

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John Maddock I woke and the alarm clock read 6:31, almost half an hour before the alarm was due. I rolled on to my back, I could see Susan breathing deeply under the duvet. Looking up at the ceiling I remember having strange dreams, I was travelling alone on a motorway in my car but it was different, damaged somehow the dream is washed away. I feel as if I’d hardly slept. I softly pull back the duvet and silently slipped on my dressing gown, not wishing too wake Susan. The shower woke me up suitably and I noticed some of the bruising had gone down. Outside the morning mist had almost cleared and I sat eating breakfast in our new kitchen the sales man had said “Welcome to your silent shut, ivory glass fitted kitchen, with more storage space than an ocean liner”. The T.V was on but I’m staring at it rather than watching. On the screen Fern Britton sat primly, next to her co host and said in her chirpy way, “Coming up the woman born with two vaginas, she was told that she would never have children, imagine her surprise when she found herself pregnant.” I groaned out loud, irritated. I move to switch the TV off .but I’m distracted as Susan enters dressed in her normal office attire which I find sexually tormenting it’s not revealing in anyway just well fitting. We chatted over breakfast.

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“Are you sure” She asked between slices of her grapefruit. “Yes, Susan. I’m not going to sit round here all day” I growled She pulled a face “It’s a good job that I’ve organised a lift with Shelia. What are you going to say to the kids? What will Gary say?” Finishing her breakfast, she crossed the kitchen and nosily put her plate next to the sink to punctuate her frustration. Gary was the headmaster he was no ball breaker just very traditional. “Just the truth, I’ll tell the kids not to worry and Gary the truth, that’s it” I bit into my second slice of toast. This final point covered she lost interest in persuading me, “The lock smith is here on Wednesday. I won’t feel safe until then” she leant against the worktop and hugged herself, her eyes distant. Leaving my toast and tea, I rise out of my chair and put my arms around her. I kiss her and say, “Don’t worry. I have a good feeling about this. Every thing is going to be O.K” We kiss again in a way that makes us breathe hard and my lip hurts but I don’t mind. I consider suggesting returning to the bedroom but I don’t. She picks up her brief case from its spot next to the backdoor and smiles. Then in that soft voice, “I love you, you’re braver than me” She says, all eyes. “We’ll see about that when you having my baby” I smile

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She opens the door and is gone. I swallow the rest of my tea and my dirty dishes join Susan’s on the work surface. I walk along the hall into the dinning room, I often use the room as a make shift office it drove Susan mad mainly because her father had insisted on us having a proper place to eat or dine as he would say. He had purchased, as our first anniversary gift, a mahogany dining table to seat six people, of course it didn’t end there and with its insert in the centre it could seat ten in total. The extra chairs and mahogany insert sat gathering dust in our spare room along with all the other knick-knacks. I was grateful and outwardly showed it but a part of me would have liked to work hard saved and bought it with our own money. Susan’s family was ‘new money’ in Smallwood when I first met her and they had not really approved of me, average teacher. I had her fathers Masonic connections too thank for the strings he pulled to get me the job at the best school in the county. I had creeping feeling sometimes that my life would always be just a few string pulls away from his influence. As I collect all my files and marking, matching wooden framed photos from abroad grin at me through tans. Putting it all into a briefcase and doctors case my grandfather had given me. I glance out across the patio through the French doors. The back garden was tidy and practical. It was going to be a good day I affirmed. “John,” a voice it’s distant, familiar but sounding strange. I turn round excepting to see Susan, There’s no one.

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Strange, one bump on the head and it can affect your mind. All those idiots that pump drugs in to their bodies or get in the boxing ring have no ideal of the long term… “John” My thoughts distracted by that voice again. I look around the dining room and walk through it to the living room. “John” It’s repeating. Not unpleasant. I’m drawn to the big front window, sun is pouring in and it’s difficult to see out. Across the road I can just make out the stationary figure of a man.

“Time to travel” Why did I think about travelling? Then I remember the strange dreams and it makes sense. Time, I quickly look at my watch. It’s nearly 8.20am and school begins at 8.45am. Oh God. I grab my things and rush to Susans car. Once outside I look up but there’s no one standing where the figure had been. I almost forget the spare keys and then I’m hurtling down the streets, into steady traffic around the park, across the roundabouts and through traffic lights the town becomes less dense and I’m onto the ring road it rises and I turn a left down a wide leafy road covered on either side by woodlands known locally as Bagley woods, trees take up less of the roadside. Rapidly it was there a grand old building that opened up on the right hand side of the road it made no apologies, set way back across 14 acres or so of lush green fields and sports pitches.

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Richard Williamson School for Boys, previously a 17th century stately home is a magnificent structure built in the wooded grounds just out side of Smallwood. The pupils whose families can afford to allow their children to attend fell in to three categories the lower upper class, the upper middle class and the rich and stupid. The car whispered up the driveway and rattled over a cattle grid and crunched on gravel. I follow the 5 mph signs into the staff car park at the back of the building passing the kitchens with the rising steam of freshly prepared breakfasts. Stepping out of the car I notice the staff room windows are full of bodies jostling in to what I recognise as the early morning meeting. I’m not late yet and burst in to a run through the maze of corridors and stairs. Ahead I can see a little yellow warning sign on the floor by the time i registered what it said “caution wet floor” I was slipping in to the back of an figure wearing a baseball cap and blue overall. We crash to the ground and I apologise but he’s on his feet like a prize fighter staring down at me eyes a blaze. “Sorry” I offer, the caretaker recognises me immediately “I sorry Mr Maddock, I’d no idea t’was your good self” His thick Somerset accent making my smile slightly. He reaches for me and plucks me from the ground surprisingly strong for a simple caretaker. “My fault entirely I’m late for the meeting” I simper

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He eyes my face suspiciously “I’d didn’t take you for an man of violence Mr Maddock” “We’ve all been in the wars at one time or another, eh” I jokingly punch him on the arm. “When” His eyes darted around the corridor “Sorry I don’t follow you” “You don’t?” “Look I’m sorry... Paul, it’s Paul isn’t it. I really have to dash I’m sorry” “I better get on all the same” He scuttled off shoulders down as usual. Minutes later I am panting at the staff room door. Stopping to regain my breath, cover the worst of my bruised forehead with my hair and straighten my tie I enter the room. “Ah John, grab a chair and sit down” Gary the headmaster has the love and attention of Father Christmas but the common sense of a moth near candlelight, his bright mind now dusty and unpredictable. I glance around all my fellow colleagues and teachers, all of them wearing their best miserable Monday morning faces, until of course they spot my visage and then they appear concerned, disapproving or amused. We settle in to the circle of chairs.

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“I have some dreadful news” Gary the headmasters face all serious and sullen. He reminded me of Stephen Fry in a pantomime way. He’s stocky fellow, handle bar moustache and always dressed in a very nautically. We all referred to him as headmaster because to call him Gary was somewhat unfitting on a base level. He continued after his dramatic pause, “Our long standing head of the history department has contracted meningitis and is currently receiving private medical treatment in Smallwood General Hospital.” A mummer runs around the room making people noisy. The headmaster raises his hand for quiet. “Please, Mr Graves has had the kind forethought to suggest the following people to handle his work load while he recuperates. I have assessed this and it appears to me to be a fair and thoughtful distribution of work. You may want to take note of this” Another far more industrious mummer occurs of pen lids and writing pads, rustling. He runs through the various classes that Mr Graves had, being the head of the department he either dealt with the super stars or the no hopers. I’m unlucky enough to get dumped with the latter. That idiot Graves never did like me. It started in a pupil versus teachers fundraising evening 7 months ago. We where on the same team our subject of course was history the pupil’s subject pop songs. He would answer all three questions as our team captain and each time I would blatantly tell him

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the correct answer. However he ignored anything I said and answered the question incorrectly. I was 100% correct he got all three wrong.

The children won of course and the school raised £5,000 in donations and sponsorship but could have won £9,000. By the side of the stage as they presented the awards Graves muttered something to me about public humiliation, I asked him if he wanted me to apologise and he called me a smart arse and walked off. The first lesson with Graves new class was today at last period. I tried to talk to the headmaster over the issue at lunchtime. The hall was as always too noisy and he was far more interested in what he sports teacher was enthusing about. I quietly gave up and sat in the staff room revising Grave’s class notes on Egyptology. The bell went to signal the end of lunch, most sensible teachers with form groups, count to ten after the bell has finished avoiding the rush or getting to their form rooms early. I had been lost in the preparation notes for the new class and cursed. I stepped out of the staff room. The smell of school dinners wafted from the dinning hall was slowly being replaced by the scent of bleach and wood polish that saturated the immaculate establishment. The united sounds of the afternoon registrar began to echo through the corridors, Muffled adult voice and muffled child’s response. I made way to the classroom, the midday sun warmed the deep brown polished wooden floor of the corridor through the, tall arched windows that ran the length the hallway,

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turning right at the end it met up with another corridor to create a perfect square court yard of the quadrangle, that sat within the maze at heart of the school.

I looked up from the wooden floor, a head appeared out of my classroom door, the boy looked up and down the corridor, upon seeing me, his form teacher, the pupil let out a small yelp and darted back inside. I increased my pace as I reached the door the hum of activity could be heard through its frosted glass panels. I swung the door open, it threatened to shatter against the wall that housed it, but I held the handle firm and stood in the door way. Give them dramatics and they have something to remember you by give them education and they get nothing but forgettable education. I looked around the room at all the wide-eyed faces starring at me, an audience held captive by my beaten face and sudden entrance. One empty seat that had been full this morning I groaned internally, Neville Matthews again.

“Well” I boomed. The class jumped, clenched and drew in breath. I tried not to smile. “Firstly where is Neville Matthews and secondly what’s going on here”, I let go of the door, raised a hand and pointed my index finger and moved it across the shrugging crowd like a cross hair. I looked almost like Elvis, Thankyouverymuch. “Pullets” My finger aimed at small quivering boy who had stuck his head out of the door moments ago.

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“Yes” came the appropriately small voice. “Do you know where the elusive Mr Mathews can be found?” “Well I, Well, there,” The small boy stuttered and spluttered, his eyes flashing between another child and me. I immediately picked up on his guilty secret, body language is a great ally. I cross the room to my desk and place folders, registrar in a tidy pile and a brief case on the floor. I sitting down, I close my eyes and hold my hands as if blessing a congregation. “O.K, O.K, who does know where Matthews can be found” Silence, more eyes looking at the same child, George Peters. My trick is being able to almost completely close my eyes and watch the other children’s faces through my eye lashes. George Peters a product of an unbelievably affluent family, his parents too rich and busy give him the time he needs, they give him material objects and all he wants is love and attention. He had neither the need nor the desire to achieve. Stubborn, violent and intelligent he excelled only in Rugby where he played as captain and enjoyed the safety that the position provided, thanks mainly to Gary our antiquated Headmaster. “George Peters, stand up, he stands slowly, why is it every time there is a problem I end up talking to you?” I fain exhaustion George Peters stands and glares at me as if trying to intimidate me. Peters shrugs and smiles, just once ever so slightly. He is also a known bully

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“You tell me where that pupil is or you’ll be in a lot of trouble” I realise that I’ve raised my voice and blush slightly. The other children in the classroom become quiet, afraid that any backlash would involve them and punishment. I look over them as colleagues, I guide and I control, someone once said to me that I must really love children to be a teacher, no I said, if you give them anything of you at the ages I teach they will only turn it bad and try to poison you with it. “He’s in the toilet sir” George smiled looking round at his classmates. “And how long ago did he go to the toilet?” I ask softly “Lunch time” never more than the answer, no elaboration “Right, Pullets go and get Matthews” I order quickly. Pullets jumps to his feet and make his way out on the room. “Shall I sit down now sir?” asks George in an innocent tone. “You may stand outside and I will deal with you afterwards regarding your behaviour” I replied sternly. He marches across the room I open the registrar and began the role call after six or so names Pullets appeared alone. After a few questions it appeared that the boys in question are out side in the corridor with another teacher. Irritably I open the door to be greeted by the scene of Ms Karen Calloway a Romany coloured woman with long dark hair and smouldering eyes that had the sixth form boys

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going crazy. Neville Matthews, a large fat boy, who appeared to be soaking wet and he had small pieces of white toilet paper on the shoulders and sleeves of his black school jumper and George Peters. “Boys, boys, boys” She scolded “Ahem” I cleared my throat and made myself very obvious. “Good afternoon professor, I have spoken to the boys and the problem has been resolved” Smouldered Ms Calloway “I appreciate your input but I’ am completely capable of dealing with my own pupils” I snap and usher the boys inside by their collars, one wet, one dry. Although she can be a capable member of staff, she has no form group of her own and has takes it upon herself to police the corridors of the school much to the other faculty members’ irritation. Following questioning and holding them back after the bell had gone, making all three of us late, it appeared that George and some of his fellow rugby team mates had encouraged Neville to look at the fictional Blue fish at the bottom of the toilet bowl. I dealt out suitable reprimands. This is shaping up to be the start of another great afternoon.

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New Teacher, New Class, New Rules Chapter 9 Monday 16th May 2005 I shuffled through multitude in the corridor to my first lesson with my new class that Stevenson had left me in his ill will. I had just come from a meeting with the Headmaster in his office during afternoon break. We had been drinking green tea and having a ‘quiet chat’. He had asked me to ‘pop in’ regarding the state of my health after ‘recent social complications’ as he had put it. I had explained that I had been attacked and that the police had taken all the details. The headmaster looked crest fallen and reassured me “I’ve got some bloody good associates at the golf club that are in the local constabulary, rather high up too, I’ll lean on them a bit see if we can’t get you some, err, what do the Americans call it? Closure, yes Closure” His features had all come together in the middle of his face as he finished the sentence. “Thank you Headmaster, but I would rather put the whole thing behind me” I tried to reason.

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“Nonsense, someone attacks one of my staff then I’m going to ensure that the degenerate is hunted down and destroyed” and he slammed his fist on the large wood and red leather desk, a framed picture of his fragile thin wife fell over.

Shaking my head I moved through the noisy corridors and for the umpteenth time that day reach the history department. I had read 8C’s latest lesson notes and realised why that arse Stevenson had opted for their classes. Easy going no pressure, no difficult questions I breeze in through the open glass panelled door. A class of pupils ignores me. “Afternoon Class” I greet them as I make my way across to the desk and receive monosyllabic responses. Time to crank up the volume. “GOOD Afternoon Class my name is Mr Maddock” having reached the desk, I turn and fix them with my battered looks and hard eyes. Most respond. “Good afternoon Mr Haddock” a united response and a few giggles. I realise that my pronunciation is not absolutely clear de to my fat lip. I turn and write my name in large letters on the old black board. This classroom had not yet been refurbished and in this part of the school the equipment was very old, but serviceable. How historical I had often thought. “Mr Maddock” I correct, this is met by sniggers. I carry on. “Mr Stevenson will be back in two weeks or so. I will be taking you classes and dealing with your homework assignments, any questions?” I ask looking around the class.

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A thin arm is raised some where at the back of the huddle of bodies. The unruly pupils always sat at the back of the class in a group, why they did this confused me, there where a few gothic children sat away from the main group. “Yes” I responded. A boy stood and fiddled with his hair as he spoke “Well Sir, Mr Stevenson had arranged for us to attend Anbury Museum on Wednesday”. “Yes” I looked like I knew what he was talking about. But nothing was further from the truth. “We where all looking forward to it and we wondered if we would still be going” lots of nodding heads. “I’m not sure” I answer honestly. Suddenly a pupil erupted out of the crowd and the polite child disappeared in a flurry of blazer. This pupil who was now standing was obviously huge. “I don’t like it when people lie at me cause it makes me angry” he bellows. “You boy, what s your name” I retort ignoring his complaints and threat. “Russ, err Russell” he quietens like a lamb. “Russell, Russell have you filled out a permission slip” he nodded my heart sank. “Has everyone’s paid there money” the whole class nodded, the last nail in the coffin lid. I was bound by the only two get out clauses, permission and funds.

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He appeared to be getting redder. I mentally flicked through the class notes. Russell, Russell, Russell Smyth-Crow severely dyslexic, immature tendencies, lowest marks in the group. Great name Russell Crow you couldn’t invent this. The gladiator panted, glared at me and a lump formed in my throat and thankfully he sat down “I’ll have to look into it” a sudden uproar of grief from the whole class, Russell got up momentarily. “Which doesn’t mean it’s been cancelled, however, any more out bursts like that and I will refund your money personally” I add and the classroom becomes deathly silent until the ill looking child in the second row sneezes. The rest of the lesson had been dismal. All throughout I found myself under constant bombardment about field trip to Anbury museum. They explained, not as though it would make any difference, to view an Egyptian exhibit. The exhibit was on short-term loan and would, as it turned out, be leaving Anbury after only two days. Worse still was to come, I had to close the curtains and switch off the lights. Slide image after slide image of Egyptian temples. The pupils had quickly grown more and more bored and more and more disruptive. At the point where I’d had enough of the shouting, coughing and chatting, I opened the curtains to find three of the terrors missing. Happily the bell rang and my conscience was heavy. I rang Susan, “Well don’t be too late” Susan replied

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“I won’t its just the class I’ve been given has been promised a school trip and I need to speak to the Museum” I offered “Why don’t you just ring them tomorrow, you know I don’t like you working late” “It won’t take long one, two hour tops” “Why don’t you take the train it’s usually quicker” “This is rush hour and they have been delayed lately, I don’t want to be any later than I have to be” I reason, that and I hate public transport. “O.K, I’ll have a bath and wait for you before I start cooking dinner” she purred. “OK, I love you” “I love you too Bye” The phone went dead. I hung up and walked out of the school reception. It was quiet the pupils had returned to their dorms or gone home. I walked briskly through the warren of corridors and out in to the staff car park, bits of litter whipped around in the breeze, making tiny twisters. I undid my tie, pulled open my shirt collar and gripped my brief case that was full of papers for marking. Finding the car keys I slumped in to my wife’s car and started the journey. Smallwood was an hour or so from Anbury and I knew a few short cuts. Joining the motorway the traffic was surprisingly light for a Monday and I made good time.

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As I drove through the city of Anbury the museum rose before me, located next to the river. I had spent many an afternoon badgering my parents to bring me here at weekends, my adolescent enthusiasm making way for my career. The recent renovations had been extensive and had changed the building from a dusty looking wholesome building to a glass and steel edifice of architectural pompousness, I missed all the hiding places and fading labels. In the warm sunlight I pulled in to the car park, I could see the cars where few and far between. The buildings shinning glass exterior left me with mixed emotions but I was looking forward to viewing its contents. I moved with speed towards the main entrance. My mind wandered and I could imagine Susan in the bath soaking away the office grime and stress. The main entrance annoyingly impresses me every time I walk through it, as it should considering the cost. The staff always makes certain that a superb display greets you. Standing in the middle of the massive open area I look all the way up to the ceiling that houses at least six floors, as many supported walk ways and numerous veranda style corridors all opening out in to this one area. Unfortunately, except for well placed lighting the colour scheme is mainly greys, black, browns and green tinted glass. Either side of the main desk stand large Egyptian statues each about 18 feet tall, on the left hand the dog headed Anubis in human form, the God of the Dead and the Guardian of Sacred Esoteric Mysteries. He has two forms, that of a Jackal and that of a man with a Jackal's head. The second Horus depicted also as a man with the head of a falcon. Horus is wearing the costume of a king and the double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt.

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They’re both depicted in a black marble finish with gold and white clothes. The museum was going all out for this exhibition.

“Fabulous aren’t they” a small voice next to me says. Still in awe of these superb specimens, which I assume to be good reproductions, I turn my head down and to the left. A small old man who looks roughly late 70’s stands staring at them with me. I can see his bald spot, he’s wearing a hand knitted jumper and I notice his ‘pleased to help badge’ which states his name is Roger. “Oh yes, reproductions of course” I cough and adjust my glasses “True. But what majesty” he still stands transfixed hands raised. “I wondered if you could help” I drag my eyes away from the display. He smiles and proudly points to his badge. “Ah yes, Well I’m hoping to speak to the Curator or headman” I find myself wondering if ‘Roger’ is also a train spotter. “I’m the head advisor” He beams showing me his teeth. “Sorry I’m not looking for advice, I’m here from Richard Williamson School for Boys I have a school trip arriving Wednesday at midday and leaving at 2pm. So I was eager to speak to the curator to discus health and safety etc. It’s a bit boring but the original

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teachers unable to attend and I’m taking over for him” I try not to rattle on but I appear to fail. “Yes I know I have spoken to a Mr Steve Graves he also works at your school, nice man. The problem is we close at five sharp and the only people left are the set up crew and volunteers” He turns and starts to walk off. I check my watch 4:35pm. “Oh! So it’s all arranged then?” I march after him. He stops and turns, “Why yes of course, but I was unaware of Mr Graves’ illness. Nothing serious I hope?” he smiles sympathetically. “Not really. Will I need to speak to the curator or manager?” I ask “We’ll need the alterations in writing, you know because of the children being involved” he shrugged an apology. He leads me quickly to the reception desk and scribbles the details on a piece of headed paper and hands it to me. Looking at the headed paper he has written the curators email, currator1@anburymuseum.gov.uk “Have we may have met previously” he questions me “I used to come here a lot as a kid, Thanks for the email” I fold it carefully and put it in my jacket pocket. I pat my pocket and a pregnant silence falls among us. “So have you seen it?” he finally whispers and smiles mischievously. “What” all manner of variables spring to my mind. I look suspiciously at his trousers.

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“The exhibit!” he enthuses. Almost clapping his hands. “No. Can I?” curiosity sliding over me, hugging me, I relive the feeling of being here aged 11, when it looked, smelt and tasted like a proper museum and although weary my excitement rejuvenates me. “It’s not open yet and the build team is still setting up but I suppose we could sneak a quick look, it won’t hurt. Follow me” he walked from behind the reception desk and I tag along almost rubbing my hands together with glee. We pass all sorts ancient objects, Indian canoes, medieval finds, Roman artefacts and a hundred lifetimes of other memorabilia. “What do you know about the exhibit?” asks Roger “Very Little” I salivate.

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Flashes Chapter 10 Monday 16th May 2005

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“We finished orientation on the exhibit this afternoon. You can ask me anything” boasted Roger sauntering past skeletons and armour. “What is the exhibit?” I ask momentarily distracted by a Neanderthal man fending off a stuffed grizzly bear. “Most of the artefacts where discovered in 1929 by Victor Smallwood, the relics that he discovered date to the reign of a The Pharaoh Thutmose the 3rd, he was a magnificent Pharaoh. The main part of the exhibit is the stone” he rattled off, very pleased to demonstrate his newfound knowledge. “The stone?” I mimic. Great that sounds like fun. How inspiring. My final paper at University had been on ancient Egypt and I was fairly surprised I hadn’t heard of the exhibit before now. “The big stone, yes the Load Stone as it was named by Victor Smallwood came from an incredible device housed in the centre of a giant Egyptian temple complex which they believed had been heavily guarded. Thutmose the 3rd was a fantastic architect” He almost radiated confidence. “Who?” I enquire “Victor Smallwood, he had at one time been the black sheep of the town’s rich ancestral family but he had retired to Scotland along time ago.” He’s irritated at my obvious lack of local knowledge, as am I. “What was the device for?” I skip the local stuff.

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“No one knows for sure but the pictures from that time show indications of a calendar days, months and years. It was a very complicated there where many levers, cogs and pulleys. The hieroglyphics were the stone was found had inscriptions which once translated are a record of Thutmose the 3rd joining together all the people across the world and that we would rule as the God and how he would unite the afterlife and become the one and only God. He was a great Pharaoh and built over 50 temples across Egypt and waged many successful campaigns which expanded his empire.” Proud of his knowledge Roger nearly misses the turn off the corridor. We back track. In no time at all we arrive at the Egyptian collection, Rogers voice dropped as in respect. The Egyptian artefacts had increased in number since my last visit, some ten years earlier. Restored Animal mummies had been laid neatly near the human mummies in awesome displays. My mind rolled back to an old memory of when I was twelve my mother and I where sat in the museums tearooms, that has now been replaced by a self-service restaurant. My mother said how she thought that it was unfair that dead Egyptians where called mummies. I had laughed so hard that Banana milkshake had squirted out of my nose. I explained that the Arabs settled in Egypt in the eighth century AD. They plundered some of the tombs and noticed that the bodies were covered in black sticky stuff that they thought was tar. The Arabic word for tar is ‘mummia' and it developed from our phonetic translation. Canopic jars sat in a display case the wooden lids of the jars representing the Sons of Horus; the baboon-headed Hapy (the lungs), the jackal-headed Duamutef (the stomach),

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the falcon-headed Qebhsenuef (intestines), and the human-headed Imsety (the liver). The four minor gods protected the organs that they contained. The heart was left in place as it was regarded as the centre of the individual's being, both physically and spiritually, therefore the location of the mind and memory. My eyes drank in everything as we passed, the state of the art atmospherically balanced and hermetically sealed cases. I know I’m a nerd because the display cases fascinate me as much as the artefacts inside. “Tea Break” a shout from ahead the voice is deeper than Rogers “Don’t worry” Roger the tour guide reassured me. A small troop of men and women in overalls walked through the display units. Roger sort of half ducked behind a raised sarcophagus and I followed. Ahead I could see a large door with the words ‘NO ACCESS’ on it, closing slowly. I felt like Frodo being lead by Gollum as we approached the door Roger reached out for the handle then said, “It’s in here” He pulled the door open and I squinted, the light inside was bright, several bright yellow construction style standard lamps, stood about the hall illuminating it while the exhibit was under construction. In the corners and crevasses shadows climbed the walls escaping to the darkness of the ceiling. The whole room is a huge reconstruction, painted in reds, yellows, whites and blues, of a mock pyramid chamber. It had been made to look carved with elaborate Pyramid Texts,

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religious and magical utterances that were intended in death to facilitate a king's journey to the Afterlife and the journey of the sun through the sky. Packing boxes are dotted around, some lay open in places, with straw and bubble wrap. My eyes adjusted and there in front of me are magnificent reliefs, paintings, statues and stelae commemorating several military victories. I have often seen the Third to Sixth Egyptian Dynasties (2686-2181 BC) as the epitome of the whole of ancient Egypt. There examples of the stone remains of the early royal pyramids, architectural elements and sculptures from the tombs of officials that ran the country. In one of the glass cases I spot a papyrus and a buzz inside me leads me to believe it could be from important administrative archives of the period. It was as though the room was holding its breath. “Do you remember I mentioned The Loadstone?” questioned Roger. “Oh yes of course” I’m not really listening my eyes absorbing the room as a set piece and then each item individually. “Look over there” I strained and looked around, I couldn’t find where he was pointing, just boxes and equipment. “Where?” I strained my eyes in the patchy gloom “Near the back of the room” He replied. I weaved between the packing boxes and found him there already. Sprightly and excited he was standing in front of an open glass exhibition case in the centre of the floor, the massive display unit open wide enough to contain at least ten men.

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Inside standing on a black base, ‘The Loadstone’ a huge piece of shimmering stone that could only have been a swirling mix of Tigers Eye and Obsidian or some other form of volcanic glass. It had been shaped into a round cornered triangle about eight-foot square with a huge gold metal ring at its peak that had been clamped on to the stone with intricate fittings that hugged the tip of the stone like a gold claw. My eyes ran across the surface which was a precise multitude of hieroglyphics ran together to meet at a 2-inch diameter hole at its centre. Although unnecessary it had a small black velveteen base on which it sat. The piece is so tactile I cannot understand why such a thing of beauty could be kept behind glass away from human hands? Next to the centrepiece another black velveteen upright display about three and a half foot high and about a foot wide with three empty ten-inch long groves this puzzled me momentarily but then my attention once again returned to the stone. Mesmerised, I drew closer to it and traced a cartouche across its surface with my finger and found that the stone was warm. My mind began running the hieroglyphs like a combination lock in my mind my memory remembering them, match them up with similar images like tumbler lock clicks and then the picture and symbols change in to meaning full words. There are millions and I’m unable to string any together immediately “What do you think?” Roger asked, standing back grinning like a proud father. He snaps me out of my daze and I find myself annoyed by the disturbance, I turn back touching and pointing, desperate to translate to another the marvel of the stone. “Uh, oh yes. Quiet marvellous, the markings within these concentric circles are not usually found in this period, see here where it mentions Thutmose the 3rd as the mighty

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bull arising in Thebes and how he endures in kingship like re in heaven. Here it mentions the power and strength of his holy crown. No it’s not, this is his literal translation of the name Thutmose the 3rd and these are predictions at this birth” I lecture. Roger pulled a face it was obvious that he didn’t understand. I tried to explain but to no avail. He apparently I had over reached his orientation. Looking crest fallen again he sat, with a bump, on a metal packing case while I studied The Loadstone. The stone was alive with information and drank it in as much as I could. I annoyed with myself for not having a note pad and pen. . The concentric circles’ regularity matched the diameter of the 2 inch centre hole, the markings had been divided like a pie chart and each section ran through a series of events. I relayed all the information to Roger who sat like a fervent pupil. Abruptly Rogers radio went off, he jumped, scrambled for his radio and impressively fell backwards off the crate, all at the same time. Unfortunately because he wasn’t very tall his little legs went up in the air and he disappeared completely behind the crate, which fell over the clasps snapped open leaving it in an untidy mess. I went to him to assist and tried not to laugh. “Bloody hell” Cursed Roger, Jumping up. His voice echoed around the room. “Come in support, Roger, this is main control, Roger, come in support, Roger” Crackled the radio.

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“Roger, that this is support, Roger, come in control, Roger” Replied Roger now completely upright. I tried not to listen to the confusing conversation but my mind was fascinated. “Issue at main entrance, Roger, Disturbance needs attendance, Roger” Ordered the voice. “Wow, it’s really happening. Ahem. I mean, Roger. Roger on my way, Roger Out…err Roger” His eyes narrowed like Clint Eastwood and he puffed out his chest. “You stay here you’ll be safe” He grimaced at me, looking about as scary as a bunny rabbit with pink bow in its hair. He swaggered out of the hall. I bent over to pick up the fallen case. I jumped as soon as I touched it, I could feel or hear something inside. I opened it completely my head hummed. The sound was not unlike the faint buzz of an electrical appliance on standby. Inside where three gold sceptres about 14 inches long. The craftwork on them was in such amazingly great detail. I turned and looked at the display case, these sceptres must fit in the last empty section of the stand next too the stone. I reached out to pick up the first sceptre, but they’re like a butterflies’ wing, surely would I destroy a thing of such beauty with a single touch. I stopped my hand shaking centimetres above it, I would never get a chance like this in my life again. I tell myself, it looks as though it’s made from gold and you can’t break solid gold by touch alone. Breathlessly, I pick the middle one up with both hands and hold it out in front of me

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cradling it like an infant. It feels as though everything’s melting away for an instant millennia and I gaze in awe. The striking 14-inch sceptre is inlaid with diamonds at one end, mother of pearl and rubies the other, possibly the top, had the effigy of Horus. I turn the piece over in my hand, long scratches run the length of the sceptre. I turn facing The Loadstone and decide to put the sceptre in its display, moving slowly and carefully. I hardly dare to remove my eyes from the sceptre, I felt stolen honour in the moment. My thoughts are only of the sceptre until it passes in front of the centre hole of the radiant Loadstone. My brain computed the current specifics, scratches on the sceptre, a hole in the stone, could this sceptre fit in the hole? What happened next shocks me. My hands are not my own they are being used, guided by some one other than me. Swiftly and carefully I put the diamond end it to the centre hole. Gripping the head of the sceptre I push slowly, it’s spellbinding. The hole appears to get smaller inside as though it where slightly cone shaped. There’s a click. I hear feet behind me some one running, Roger’s coming back if he sees this I’ll be in trouble with everyone. I pull the sceptre to remove it and my hair lifts, I sense static electricity in the air, the Loadstone hums and the concentric circles light up, one by one starting from the middle spreading out. My eyes are dancing over the stone, alarmed horror wraps my brain in cotton wool, I can’t think. My mouth dries and I swallow as several cartouches gradually begin to pulse in time with the circles. In an instant I realise the gravity of my situation, everything’s happening hideously

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quickly. Get away, get away, screams through me, just as I try to let go of the sceptre, a nerve shredding surge of electricity pulses through me and every muscle contracts instantaneously. My mouth forces out an asphyxiated shriek. Cognitive thought escapes me and I nearly vomit, then I feel my skin burning stripping away from my bones. Still crouched and blind I feel the explosion inside me then energy shifts into a force that blasts me up and through the air. That’s when I realise I’m still whole still one thing, my scorched limbs are thrashing wildly. I struggle to breathe through lungs I had thought where destroyed. Then recognize I have survived as I crash against some thing big and hard. The pain of the impact an affirmation of being. Panic, blindness and self-preservation mix in me and I howl like a wild thing scrambling to my feet. My eyes dart around the room as I stagger and sway. The room is different some how dark or am I sightless, no boxes. Immediately lots of different colours rush by. Is it flames? Is the whole building on fire? I can’t understand, controlled by fear, I don’t know anything but just get out and get away from the explosion. The air is thick and smoky. I tumble through the corridors like a drunk. Crowds of people walk and run past me I can’t see their faces, I can’t focus, everything is a blur there are too many people. The museum’s supposed to be closing, where did these people come from? I can see light, a door out and into the bright white morning. Staggering across the car park, I realise I’m moaning like a wounded animal. I trip over a small wall and topple into a bush. My head is hammering; I see blood dripping down my clothes. I wipe my chin and nose more

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blood. I can only think of getting further away and crawl into the cover of the trees and bushes. Sitting, hidden by the leaves, on the dewed earth, knees tucked up against my chest, my eyes danced around as blurred images of cars and people entered the car park darted to the building and left again, forming multiple streams of colour or maybe it was the emergency services. My eyes are watering and it’s a mess of colour, all backwards and faceless, all to fast to understand or believe. It was like a slow shutter picture of a motorway. The air became thin and I struggled to breathe. Rubbing my eyes I try to focus, the hammering in my skull causing me to physically flinch again and again. Darkness and light fly through the rapidly changing sky. Looking up and then away as it speeds up, almost strobe light in frequency. It’s just shock, it’s all O.K. got to breath, don’t want to throw up. I stare at the ground trying to make sense of everything. A single drop of blood falls from my chin to the ground it hits a small stone turns brown and within seconds fades to nothing, my head pounds harder. The bushes pinch and chafe against me, the air is suddenly filled with a high pitched whine, I throw my arms over my head to cover my ears as my brain struggles to keep up and the stabbing sensations continue. Another spasm rips through my head as I rock back and forth, suddenly darkness followed by cold rain or is it the firemen and their hose? I’m soaked to the skin and then bright white drying me filled the sky again.

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As the strobe effect stops I chance a look up and the full moon moves through the sky with the speed of an aeroplane fast but slowing. On the ground around me I’m aware of the pattering of tiny animals. The incessant whine in the air gives way to a mumbling drone, finishing with a dull pop. For a moment I sat, hands over my head panting. Squeezing my eyes shut and pressing the sides on my head. I risk opening one eye expecting to see a burnt hulk where once a building stood. The sky’s one consistent colour, my grimace suddenly felt absurd as a pigeon flew across the sky. Moving my arms I hear humming traffic, then birdcalls and wind whistling. The pain stopped. I collapsed confused, relived and exhausted.

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Logical Chapter 11 Unknown I’m breathing hard, could I be dead? I open my eyes and I see a sky, blue and beautiful clouds thrown across it. The ground is dry and the sun is on my face. I stand and I realize that I’m still holding the sceptre my heart sinks. Like a drunk that had forgotten the night before it all comes rolling back sending rockets off in my mind, swirling images assault me. Standing waist deep in decorative shrubs I look around. The second time in three days I’ve woken up in a bush, things weren’t looking good. The car park is almost empty and the museum is a lot quieter now. Rogers in there somewhere I’ll have to find him and explain. I slide the sceptre in the inside pocket of my tweed jacket. Finding my legs I stride to the entrance. Crossing the car park my internal clock tells me its morning, Oh Christ I’ve got to get to school and Susan will be wondering where I am. I check my watch. The hands say 5:00. I almost miss it. I double take, the second hand is going in reverse it hits twelve then returns in the clockwise direction. I stop walking giving my watch my full attention, and as it reaches twelve again the second hand returns in a pendulum motion anti-clockwise. I shake my wrist, take the watch off and turn the winding motion. I check again and

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nothings changed, it still tracks back and forth across the face, proberly the explosion. I assume besides I have more important issues. I push the watch in to the back of my mind but its pricked me and I find I’m a little paranoid, aware that the world around me feels different, tangibly similar but made of props and scenery. I carry on to the museum trying to muster a renewed feeling of alertness. The automatic doors open silently. There is very little activity in the foyer just few people milling around and then I remember the nosebleed, there is blood on my hands and face. Looking down to avoid detection I head straight to the toilet wash up and then I’m back out in the foyer, I scan the large expanse for Roger. Surely he had to be around here somewhere. I spot him some way off crossing the left hand side of the hall, wearing another tasteless knitted jumper. I run over to him. “Roger” I yell as I jog. He ignores me. I shout again, waving. He ignores me. I reach him and put my hand on his shoulder. He jumps as though scolding water had been poured on his lap and puts his hand to his chest. He composes himself, turns and smiles at me. “May I help you sir” “Roger!” I beam slightly breathless. “Yes” he affirms pointing to his badge. His face tells me he hasn’t yet recognised me. “You know me, John, John Maddock from Richard Williamson School!” I enthuse “Well, I was expecting a Mr Graves” He frowns “Yes, yes and I came instead. Last night” I try to remind him.

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“When?” more furrowed brow, confusion painted on his face. “Last night. I think. We looked at the Egyptian exhibit together” I’m talking with my hands and all the time I seeing an image in my minds eye of my broken watch. “The Greek exhibit” he corrected. He managed to look even more confused. “No ‘The Loadstone’” I found myself almost begging. The people rushing around backwards played in Technicolor in my head, but no that was the lights of the fire engines. I look away from roger as my head thumps again, but no burnt building, no broken glass. Not even a closed sign on the door? Roger put his hand to his chin and took three paces around me as if trying to recollect. My eyes follow him, he has the key to explain this away and my paranoia peeks because the world does a very bad thing. Incomprehensive, strange but in a wrong way Behind Roger I could see the reception desk, as it had been, however, the statue of the Egyptian God Anubis had been replaced with a marble effect statue of the Greek god Zeus. Next to Zeus, seductive Hera, his sister stood where Horus had been. Then the last section of mental reply, I’m crouching in front of the stone, the Loadstone, scepter in hand, hearing the click and it’s once again lighting up in front of me, cartouches glowing and boom. My legs felt weak. “Are you alright sir” Roger asked. I swallowed hard.

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“Oh yes, just um indigestion” Then I chose to make a leap of faith. “What I meant to ask is, are you expecting the Loadstone exhibit soon?” the words where slow and felt fat in my mouth. My mental perspective changing, it’s as though I’m standing on stilts, high above looking down when he answers. “Next weekend” he lets me look at his wide toothy smile. “Oh” From my high view point I feel my stomach drop. How could this be? A dream, I would wake up next to Susan and this will all have been a dream. No need for panic. Just a dream. I flinch as if physically punched because this has to be a dream because in reality the man I recognise standing at the reception talking to the girl behind the desk is none other than, critically ill, Steven Graves, head of history, all round arse and my boss at Richard Williamson School. He is pointing towards us getting directions, he begins walking toward us. What’s Steven Graves going to say when finds me out of school? That is if I’m even supposed to be in school. He begins following the directions and getting closer to us. How do I explain? I can get through this. Ah! The dream theory. He walks directly up to Roger and extends a hand. I cringe expecting the worst, “Good morning, my names Steven Graves head of the history department at Richard Williamson School, you’ve been expecting me?” Rogers arm is shaken sternly by the hand.

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“Hi my names Roger” He uses his free hand and points to his badge as usual. “Excellent, Thank you for seeing me on a Sunday. I wanted to run over the inventory for the trip on the 18th”. He releases Rogers hand. He’s blanking me. I have been ignored before but this is amazingly rude. “I was just talking to your colleague” mentions Roger gesturing at me. “Colleague?” Questioned Graves. He looks at me or through me as though I’m in the distance as apposed to a foot away from him. He squints and stares harder. Then he jumps back. “Jesus John. Where did you spring from?” Roger and I exchange befuddled glances. “The bushes” I say once again from my high up far away view point, shrouded in a protective mental dream bubbles. I giggle slightly as the grip of sanity slides away. “Pardon” Graves wrinkled his nose. “Oh yes, in the car park” My heads nodding, maybe too much. “You don’t look too well old man” His eyes staring at me. “Well I should go now, I’m due to wake up soon” I turn on my heel giggling, they take turns looking confused, throwing each other searching looks. I leave them chatting about the trip and head out of the building to the car park. My heads swimming and my rational minds sinking fast.

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I walk over to the spot where Susans car had been. Empty tarmac and a crisp packet are all that remain. “Damn” I whisper. I pull my mobile phone out of my pocket to ring Susan and explain. I flick it open, no power. “Damn” I whisper again. I start pacing. If this is a dream I want to wake up now, right now. I close my eyes and concentrate really hard on being in bed asleep and I think meditation, Zen, Karma, but when I opening my eyes nothing changed. “Damn Damn” I curse loudly. Right quick solution, get home and explain. I turn and start heading towards the reception area again, Graves meets me at the door. “John!” His tiger sense of knowing when you’re at your weakest on full alert “Steven” I try to negotiate around him, he blocks me. “Everything OK” he says standing in the doorway. “Just trying to find out some bus times” I’m still trying to play ‘getting past him’ twister. “Car trouble” His eyes digging in to me like claws. I stop struggling like a pinned Gazelle. “Um, no I got dropped off. Need to make my way back on a bus” I resign lifting my hands and dropping them dramatically. “Well we can’t have a member of my team struggling through filthy public transport. I’ll give you a lift “A Tigers grin forms on his face and I swear he licked his lips.

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“That would be great� My fake enthusiasm obvious to any lay man but Steven Graves is at a higher level of conceitedness.

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Statues Chapter 12 Sunday Unknown Steven Graves smirked as he bragged about his new surgically white BMW. “Such a comfortable car” “Oh” We’re driving through the streets of Anbury and everyone looks strange like they’re walking through invisible syrup. There are very few people on the street, the weathers fine but as it appears to be Sunday morning most people are proberly doing other things.

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“Good cars these never let you down” He patted the wheel, what a prick. Then I remember I had gone to the museum because Steven was off work yet here he was, bold as brass. Confusion rattles around my aching skull. My head feels like porridge. “I heard you had been unwell” I pry. “Just a headache” He shifts uncomfortably “Oh, I though that Gary had signed you off for a week or two?” “No, I’m a territorial soldier a bit of a headache won’t hold me back” “He said Meningitis?” “No such rubbish” he blows This gives me an idea. “Steve, look over there, she’s got her top off” I point toward to his window but behind him. His head spins. Well he’s a man, what do you expect. “What, Ouch, Christ” he takes his left hand off the steering wheel and cradles the back of his neck. “Oh no sorry, my mistake” He glares at me. “What‘s up with your neck?” I ask. “It’s just a bit stiff”

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“My friend had a stiff neck, headache and couldn’t stand bright lights. Turned out he had meningitis. I couldn’t believe it” I’m proberly saving his life but I’m enjoying it. We’re out of Anbury and on to the Motorway. Steven flicks the radio on and James’ song ‘Sit Down’ fills the car at the second bar of the opening. I relax and watch the livestock in fields as we speed past. The song finishes and the drippy local radio DJ cheerfully interrupts my mood. “And that was a great golden oldie, James and Sit Down. Remember today’s talking point is Anburys proposed ring road. Now over to the news with Pete Lock, Good Morning my names Pete Lock and on the 7th of May 2005 at 9.30 am today’s head lines are” He doesn’t finish the sentence because I’m yelling “What did he just say?” jostling the car around, I reach to turn the radio up. “Blood hell John Calm down it’s just the news” Snaps Steven. Lights come on in my head, I remember this broad cast it, had woken me up about a week ago in the morning. Oddly I could remember it word for word. “Then how do I know that he’s about to tell us the final amount of people killed in a plane crash in Lockhart River, Australia is 15 people” “You read it” Scoffed Steven. “Final news, hot in, regarding the Lockhart river crash, we can almost exclusively reveal that….” The words came through the radio as I’d predicted.

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“That’s weird” Steven wrinkled his nose again. We turn off the motorway and soon we pass the school where we both work. In Smallwood the same invisible syrup makes statues of people, no life to them. I shoot a glance at Steven, he looks a bit pale and slightly unwell. We approach Park Lane and my heart soars as we get near to my house, I jump as something moves in my jacket. The sceptre hums. “You can drop me off here” I mumble seeing the Park entrance “Are you sure?” “I could do with the air. Sorry for behaving oddly. I think I must be coming down with something” I apologise as I leave the car. “Me too” coughs Steven. He drives off without a second glance, I head towards the park, looking forward to the walk and fresh air. In the park I narrowly avoid being run over by two cyclists and a jogger. The morning air tastes stale and fails to fill my lungs in the normal refreshing way.

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Step by step Chapter 13 Sunday 7th of May 2005 Walking through the park I try to work out what’s going on, the explosion, my watch going haywire and Roger not knowing who I was? I’ll get home and sort out this mess. I’ve almost broken in to a jog as I leave the park, stopping at the top of our street. There neatly placed and folded like a serviette in a Michelin star restaurant was my house. The elderly couple down the road busily trimming their hedge. Two almost cars sat proud and gleaming in the new sun, but if Susans car was there then I can’t have taken it to the museum. Then I realise that my car is also back. The police must have picked it up and brought it back, would they do the same to Susans car?

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I felt tired, haggard and confused, very confused. It was if there where too many questions buzzing around me like mosquitoes, each one draining my energy, each one needing to be mentally swatted away. I was dizzy. I stood across the road from my house and considered my next action. Slow intermittent traffic hums in the background. A big ginger cat struts past and stops by my foot, sits down and begins washing itself, “What would you do?” I ask the big ginger tom. The cat ignores me and carries on licking and washing. It has a gold sparkly collar on. “Yep do nothing” I reached down to stroke my new friend. As I touch the cat something happens, the cat screeches in shock, my vision ripples and I feel dizzy again. I stare at a visible ripple in the air radiate out from me, like a massive heat shimmer you see on the road when you’re driving, Dad called them sun puddles. The air feels loaded like at the beginning of a race then bang! The surprised cat bolts across the road in fear, directly in front of a passing car Mr Frey, a neighbour of ours, is driving. His face twists shock. He swerves to miss the cat, his car violently veers to the left and mounts the pavement. Car tyres screech as the brakes are firmly applied but he continues towards the drive way of my house up my drive way and into the back of Susans parked Nissan, there’s a sickening crunch, the sound of metal shredding and a car horn rings out piercing the morning. The horn rings for too long. I’m just about to run over when the front door flies opens. Susan stands there framed in the

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doorway. She takes my breath away standing bare foot in the towelling dressing bought by my mum last Christmas. Amidst all the confusion I can see Susan on Christmas morning kneeling on the floor and opening the large parcel, gratefully thanking my mother who had a paper cracker hat on. The gown hung loosely gathered at the waist by my barbeque apron showing the form of a scantily clad French maid. Her face worried and confused at the scene in front of her. Curtains and lace nets twitch up and down the street. The old couple who had been gardening up the road jog over to help. I’m standing with my hand over my mouth watching.

Out of the front door of my house a man appears next to her in my matching dressing gown, average height, squinting through glasses. Anger flares, betrayed all because I... I feel physically sick when realise who the home wrecker is, because when you see yourself in the flesh you don’t always recognise that person as being you. You know your mother, father, partner, children, friends and colleagues, even from a distance. I imagine that unless you’re on the big screen you rarely recognise what you look like to the naked eye, in the mirror your backwards but there I was.

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There was me, I mean him, I mean me, the old me, not me now, me then. I was stand on the other side of the road and he was stand in my, door way. The view of the world rolls to the right and my legs buckle, I’m falling like a feather. My nose is bleeding before I hit the ground. I painlessly slump on to the pavement, my head thumping just like before at the museum. I don’t blink. I lay on my side and watch, frozen, paralysed with perplexity. In the drive way and garden everyone’s around Mr Freys car. Mrs Frey’s there and most people are shouting and hand waving. I’m watching myself trying to calm everyone down and coordinate the situation. Which is typical of him-me.

I see small dark wisps of smoke coming form the front door of the house, I try and shout out but just croak something eligible. I try again nothing comes. Susan’s the first to notice and tries to tell me-him, but he is busy trying to wrench open Mr Freys door with the help of a few other people. The shouting and the car horn bring more people out of their houses, the noise fills the air and more people add to the deafening jumble. Susan runs back inside our house. The smoke is becoming heavy and thicker, licking the white emulsion around the top of the doorframe turning it brown. I try and move but I can’t and then the sceptre starts humming again. Susan could get hurt she could be in danger. I have to get to her but I still can’t move. Someone, one of the old couple who had been gardening, notices the smoke and shouts over to me-him. He turns and double takes the front door. Letting go of the car he falls on

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to the lawn exposing his/our boxers short clad legs, stumbles to his feet and runs in to the house. He penetrates the dark maw of the door three seconds tick by and they‘re still in there. I’m forced to keep watching. Without warning an explosion rockets through the air replacing the car horn, people scream. A flock of pigeons scatter from a roof across the street and swirl through the air, the sceptre hums. Instead of more smoke a second louder explosion immediately shatters the down stairs living room window. Susan. I realise I’m getting up. I’ve got to get to Susan and make sure she’s OK. I tear across the road, vault the small fence and bedding plants and land firmly on the lawn. Sprinting in through the front door the smoke blinds me, I cover my mouth and excepting to cough or choke. Moving through the corridor I pass my prone self laying on his back. Burn marks and raised skin on his face and hands, eyes closed but his breathing is shallow but he’s-I’m alive. The dressing gown he’s wearing is badly charred and alight in places. As I pass I stamp out a proportion of the material that’s on fire. In the kitchen the cooker is a mess of flames and charred wood. The small cupboard above the hob gone, most of the wall units are alight. The main source of the fire is from the opposite wall at shoulder height there’s a torrent of flame coming from what used to be our gas boiler. Through the smoke and flames I can see Susan’s leg, slim, pale and unblemished but the rest over her is covered by her dressing gown and I can’t see through the smoke. I realise I’m not coughing even though I’m stood upright, another mental mosquito.

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Searing heat dries my eyes and I’m blinking to compensate. I take a step forward my hair crackles, and my skin dries the heat makes me move back. I have to get to her before it’s too late. One of the wall cupboards near Susan collapses she doesn’t react. Heat bloated tins, lit wood and ash fall over the floor and her. I drop to my knees and to get under the flames, I begin crawling under the vicious flow of roaring flame. As I come out the other side I notice the blood, too much blood. Her dressing gown has gone up and over her head. She’s lying prone on one side amongst pieces of broken kitchen table. The blood soaked dressing gown makes me react on instinct. Still on hands and knees I move towards her clearing the debris. I can see she not breathing, pulling back the dressing gown I see her beautiful perfect face. Her eyes are grey and lifeless. God no. “Susan” My face not far from her own. Her head’s also to one side, I repeat her name and I cup the back of her head to move her and feel a terrible softness and the stomach-churning sharp bone fragments of her skull digging in to my fingers. I recoil from ghastliness of the gruesome reality. She’s gone, my world, my wonderful wife, my best friend had gone and I would never be able to hold or talk to her again. She’s gone, dead on the kitchen floor in our house that should have sheltered our future children and us. Sitting on my knees on the floor of our burning kitchen I held my head in my blackened hands and screamed,

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“Susan” Time is lost to me and my chest is hurting, raw emotions making me ache. I don’t think I heard it the first few times. Then over the roaring of the flames it becomes clearer, a coughing and a hacking noise. I could hear it but I didn’t care, I sat on my knees holding her hand as it grew colder, she was gone. Nothing else mattered and I hang my head. “Susan” A voice shouting manically. It repeated and repeated, getting louder and louder. I turned, through the wall of flame and through tears I could see me-him on all fours, hair singed and patchy, skin red and blistered. Saliva hung from his mouth and his teeth, lips and nostrils where black with soot. The difference was the eyes. The flames reflected in them as sees me, “Get away from her” He snarls, looking like a rabid dog. He carries on crawling towards the body of Susan and the flames. His breathing becomes more laboured. He pauses only when the coughing and hacking racks his body, “I’m sorry she’s dead... dead” I shout to him. “What?” he replies with a childish look. “Susan’s dead.” I answer, It was if you’d removed the adult from him, the fight leaves his eyes and they well with tears. He stops crawling.

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“But, I. She is” He gasps as he tries to understand. His eyes roll back in his head and without warning he looses consciousness and collapses face down into the smouldering debris. Then the vibration of pairs of feet running and sirens, I’ve to get him-me out of here fast before we both end up dead. I carefully put Susans hand across her chest and steadily move toward my own dressing gown clad form. The flames are still thunderous and I can’t make out if he is breathing. Half crouching, half crawling I gradually make my way under the firestorm. My head snaps around alerted by metallic groaning noises that are suddenly competing with the rushing flames. The last pieces of the gas boiler fall away from the wall. The final portion of the pipe turns viciously towards me, I’m in the torrent of fire, it’s licking around me. My clothes turn brown and black and patches catch on fire. My vision is assaulted by reds and oranges. Screaming I run in to the corridor spreading fire up the walls, igniting pictures. Firemen in respirators leap backwards when they see me. I sprint through the dining room door and throw myself at one of the French windows it shatters, glass slices in to me across my back and thigh as the window explodes spraying glass across the garden. I crash down in a heap on the patio amongst the broken glass shards. Awkwardly I stand the flames gone. I’m no longer on fire, I dash to the back gate. As panic often does it makes you survive. Then darkness.

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Continue living Chapter 14 Some day in May of 2005 How or when I got to the Rose gardens in the park I don’t know. I don’t understand any thing, I feel like a rag doll, left by mistake on one of the benches around the gardens.

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Wind blows across me, charred clothes flap and I feel nothing. There’s an old woman standing in front of me, she’s wearing a red coat, too thick for the time of year, and a fluffy black hat. Around her feet attached by a lead is a small dog sitting, like me just sitting. I look up and her mouth is opening and closing. Words should be coming out but I can’t hear them she’s waving a pink tissue at me. I stop looking and ignore her and at some point she leaves. My hands are black and there are slashes in my skin that don’t hurt. I don’t know what’s happened at the house but I can only hear the flames in my ears. I can’t get Susans blood off my hands, I’m rubbing and rubbing but the sensation won’t go, the feelings of her head, wrong, so wrong. Maybe she’ll be O.K. maybe the hospital can fix her, they can do amazing things. A football hits my legs. I feel nothing and then a child runs past my line of vision mouthing more words that fail to make sense. If they can fix her then I need to be at the hospital, I can’t just sit round here. I can still hear the sirens if I get back to the house they can give me a lift. I stand too quickly, sway and sit back down again. Then I realise, there’s no way she’s alive. Half her head was missing and it was my fault. Stupid Mr Goody Goody. Sort out the car mess and make another even worse mess. If you’d turned around you would have seen the smoke. You stupid dead. DEAD? What if I’m dead? What do I do with my life now? No wife, no house, no nothing. I’m up and clinging on to a wall, how long have I been standing? Hours, minutes? NO LIFE. My everything’s gone.

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Children run as I make my way, I lurch through the football pitch, screaming at them like a wild man, “Bloody football, do something useful. Build a life. Go on. Just so they can take it away.” I’m on the street pitching and reeling. I’m looking at them analysing them, I’ve got to help them they could end up like me, ruined, and lost with nothing. People aren’t people any more they’re all just brightly coloured plastic bags attached to hands, attached to flesh bags, attached to scared eyes move that look away from me. I’m in a car park somewhere I don’t recognise. Bumping into cars that sound their horns and drivers shout through their open car windows. Every car is Mr Freys car in the driveway grotesquely entwining with Susans. “Susan” I yell thinking that she’ll come from out of the sea of faces, that we will be united again. They’re in my way all these people I don’t have time for them. I turn on them my screeching lectures attack the shoppers but they don’t see me. They bump in to me, tutting, swearing and pardoning themselves. “Shopping, do some crappy shopping, go on fill your trolley, fill your soul, take it home, store shopping in special plastic boxes that you bought, then put shopping in the designer kitchens that you bought, then eat some filthy shopping and eat your soul. You’re rotting on the supermarket created piles of self inflicted, land-fill damaged, toxic earth, while you try and scoop up armfuls of wealth that you have no claim too, as you watch the world through a box that flashes different coloured lights at your empty government educated head. While pushing pre-packed, prepared, pre-digested, filth into your already

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obese, cancer prone bodies while crapping out children you don’t even understand how to parent.” People scatter as I wobble through the crowds in the town centre. Security guards whisper in to shoulder mounted CB’s. I hand out more advice to the few people that bump into me, “You’re living because futile social and religious pressure massages gives you huge guilt complexes then it uses your guilt to make you think you should stay alive for the good of man kind, given half a chance a third of you would slit your wrists yourself to escape the mundane bollocks that you resign to call your life because you been brought up to believe that this is all you can have” Cobbles and paving slabs pass under, my legs cart me ever onwards to the unknown destination. I’m searching for Susan now I catch glimpses of her and she’s darting around corners, teasing me I can hear her beautiful, tinkling laughter, see snatches of her head and face. Then I ‘m out of the town past the alleys and the side streets, country lanes twist and I’m running now I can hear her laughter I know she’s not far. I stop it’s getting dark and I’m a bridge over looking the duel lane ring road. How did I get here? Darkness is rolling in. The headlights whoosh under me in sets of two. My head hangs over the railings and I stare down at the roads surface and all I can see is her face. One foot on the railings Susan’s still laughing. Next foot on the railings, Susan’s smiling. One leg over the railings, Susan going again I’ve got to follow her, got to get down on to the road. I open my arms close my eyes and Susan smiles as I lean into the void.

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Hands on me, all over my clothes pulling them, pulling me off the railings away from the whooshing lights. A face in the darkness, a car door opens I’m pushed inside and lay on the back seat. Cold now, shaking now. Then I realise I’ve been screaming and weeping the whole time. My throats raw and I croak’ “I’m madman John” “You’re in a world of pain John” I can hear a familiar Irish voice.

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Organisation Chapter 15 Tuesday 9th of May 2005 Patrick sat and watched the now limp body of his good friend curled in the foetal position John Maddock. It’s midday and they where in his girlfriend Katie Crabtree’s apartment, thankfully it was impervious to daylight due to the expensive blinds. He couldn’t take him to his Ma’s house and Kate was away on business. As usual she had left the plant-watering job to Patrick. This entailed Patrick drink the fridge dry of all the Shiraz, Fituo, Lager and eating all the food then bringing other women back to the apartment after drunken nights out for debauched sex. Watching porn on the huge flat screen television and calling the bookies from the landline. It suited Patrick perfectly.

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Sitting watching John in the bed where Patrick himself would normally lie, Patrick fingered the sceptre that he had found in his friend possession. He was in no way an intellectual, just a street smart man, its weight and markings suggested it was old and made of gold. The stones appeared to be ruby, diamonds and mother of pearl. He had made some phone calls, purely out of interest, and found that if his description was correct that the sceptre would have street value of about £5/6,000.00 minimum. He swallowed two aspirin. He’d never really suffered with hangovers or headaches. But recently they had started and where getting worse. John rolled over in the bed and groaned the name Susan. ‘He doesn’t remember’ thought Patrick and carefully shook his head. He had been travelling to a Job centre interview when the local radio had reported a house fire. He reprimanded himself when he considered how he’d just ignored it. Later he was in the Public house called Bakers Dozen with a few regulars from the job centre when they told him exactly which house and on which street it had been, small town mentality. He’d left his pint half full, lit a fag and then began ‘banging the drum’ as he called it. He first rang John’s phone and got a continuous tone, deadline. Then he rang Ed, who was uselessly on a job in Spain, Ed rang his girlfriend. Ed had rung back, his girlfriend, Michelle, had said that it had been John’s house and that both John and Susan had been reported dead but she was sure that she had bumped into John in town. He’d walked past her in a right mess. Ed was upset and consoling him took longer than extracting the relevant information. He called Max who said he’d heard about the fire but didn’t know it

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was John. Patrick had heard a woman screaming angrily in the background and Max said he’d had to go. A few calls to his generous police friends, ambulance contacts and a visit to the remains of the house confirmed that someone had been seen leaving the Johns house during the fire, John had been found dead in the house from shock and smoke inhalation, Susan had died due massive head trauma. Patrick sucked hard on his cigarette and tried to focus. Patrick had one last lead and made his way to the school where John worked. On his way there he had found the dishevelled replica, which now lay in Katie’s bed, hanging off the ring road bridge, screaming and wailing.

He had seen the blood and scorch marks on the clothes and didn’t understand. He had questions and a possible interest in a large profit. John stirs -------I awake, its quiet and dark. I don’t recognise the scent in the room. I remember the wound on my back and reach to touch it, just normal skin. I’m naked except for my underwear. The beds soft but it’s not mine. There’s someone else in here, I can hear his or her breathing, silence runs away scared, “So you’re awake then?” asks voice which sound like Patrick’s.

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“Huh? Patrick?” I try to focus and sit up. There’s a figure sitting on a chair at the bottom of the bedroom. “That’s me and I said ‘so you’re awake then’” he stands and paces the carpet at the bottom of the bed. “Where am I?” I look around the room it’s nice but unknown to me. “Kate’s you’ve been asleep for almost 24 hours” replies Patrick. He’s biting at his thumbnail and looking uptight. “What?” I ask as my head starts the Big Ben impression. Patrick stops and waves the sceptre at me. “That is the same question I’m going to ask you. What the fecking hell are you doing wandering around when you’re supposed to be lying cold in the morgue?” “So I’m, well he’s dead then… What about Susan?” I blurt out. He stops and seethes. “What! I’ll nail you to the fecking cross in an instant, god help me, if you don’t tell me who the Jesus Christ, you are?” I know that pose. Patrick’s gone ridged and he’s talking through his teeth. Next stop is ‘kick arse central’ as he likes to call it in the pub. “Patrick calm down it’s me John Bartholomew Maddock and I’m the one in trouble this time a lot of trouble” I’m frightened Patrick can be extremely dangerous if provoked. His shoulders relax, the air is still electric the whole situation could go either way.

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“Then why don’t I believe you? Who’s the dead fella, what’s this wand thingy?” he scratches his head with the sceptre. “The answers are; me and an ancient Egyptian artefact” I turn my legs out of the bed and try to understand the large complicated chrome alarm clock on the bedside table. My stomach knotting as anxiety returns, I feel rested but damaged. “Look, if you know me, then don’t piss me around, how can you be here and dead at the same time?” He’s pacing again and scratching his head with the sceptre. “That thing your holding did it” Patrick stopped scratching his head with the sceptre “Did what exactly?” He looked at me incredulously I reassured him and explained the events at the Museum. How I had seen the fire and tried to help by the time I’d stopped talking he was looking at the sceptre like he had been scratching his head with a loaded shotgun. “So this isn’t exactly stolen then?” he asks trying to put things a perspective he can appreciate. “To be honest, I don’t know. All I know is my wife died in a fire. A man who looked just like me died in the same fire and it looks like I survived the whole thing without a scratch, but I know I injured myself but there’s no wound, no mark” I hold out my hands and we both look at them. No cuts, grazes or scratches. “Well you’re not the first person to have gone through the mill and come out fighting” Patrick says distractedly while staring at the sceptre.

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“I got pretty messed up; I was set on fire, jumped through a plate glass window. I felt the pain of the injuries, I saw the injuries but their gone. How long was I asleep?” Patrick warily puts down the sceptre and lights a cigarette, he points the packet at me but I turn down the offer of a cigarette, shaking my head. “Well I picked you at about 10.30 last night you where screaming and crying, then you just went quiet, started acting weird. I dragged you back here. I had to basically put you in the shower. You went to bed about twenty minutes later. I went out for some beers and a Chinese when I came back you’se was asleep” He blew the smoke out hard. “I don’t remember that” my stomach knots further and I groan. The loss of Susan in the fire, my mind was fuzzy, I kept forgetting things. Patrick spoke again and I jumped. “You where waking round like that fecking ‘Rain Man’ feller off of the film, talking to yourself. Now what was it you’re saying to yourself? That’s it ‘Got to go back again’” I looked up at Patrick he looked at me, smoked and shrugged. My own words rang through me like a lost lullaby, a memory that hits hard and I began shaking. “Got to go back again?” How would going back to the house save Susan, save me and how did the loadstone fit in. “Ah great, that old fecking nonsense again” Patrick flopped down on the brown suede settee at the end of the room. “So you’re telling me, John Maddock pen pusher and brain filler extraordinaire suddenly becomes Captain Fecking scarlet” he adds with a theory of my injuries bubbling behind his wily eyes.

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“What?” I have a vague recollection of the title of the program but I thought it was about puppets, he’s wearing that cheeky grin building himself up, “You know the puppet, thunderbird type thing. Oh Jesus, look the thing is he can never die” He points his lit cigarette at me and raises his eyebrows, looking like a young Jack Nicholson. “Bollocks” I laughed at him. He stood up took a puff of his cigarette and looked at it, blew on the lit end. All of a sudden he’s on top of me. His hand on my chest and I scream as I feel the burning cigarette in my chest. He leaps back like a cat and stands firm. Rage explodes in my head and chest, my faces turns in to a growling mask, “You total wanker” I charge at him. He smiles and moves skilfully, I trip over his foot and run into with the wall. He’s fast, the wind’s knocked out of me and so is the fight. Patrick’s looking bewildered and amused. “Wow wee where did that come from” he smiles. “Bugger off” I stand up and realise I’m still in my boxer shorts and blush. “Let’s see if it was worth the Jean-Claude van Dam experience, what does your chest look like?” He punches the air like a boxer a few times and nods at me. “You burnt it you…” I stop short, nothing, no burn and no mark.

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“Captain scarlet” He stands straight and salutes me. I ignore the joke and try to comprehend. That doesn’t normally happen and when I was in the car I predicted the Radio. The tumblers of facts are starting to click into place. “What’s the date today” I ask quietly sitting down on the bed. “9th of May 2005, what is this land of the apes” Patrick threw his hands up in the air and added “who’s the president? I’m away to get some coffee, you want coffee?” I can’t hear him my thoughts are racing I grunt a response. Based on the Sherlock Holmes theory, remove the possible and whatever’s left no matter how impossible had to be the truth or something like that; the explosion at museum, the loadstone, the pharaoh story, the people and cars moving bizarrely, the radio, the date and the duplicate me. Time Travel as described by H.G.Wells, this is the past. I have moved back in time, all things have already been done. The facts dash at me now swatting huge swarms of mental mosquitoes. So many questions answered my stomach almost un-knots entirely. Then it re knots worse than before my interactions could have catastrophic results. I need research. Patrick should get on with his life otherwise his life may be drastically altered. I need more data on the Loadstone, Time travel, Physics, everything. Some how, just some how I might be able to save Susan. “Have you got internet access here?” I say pulling on a small red silk dressing gown. “Well there’s a computer in the spare room,” he notes the dressing gown “that’s Kate’s take it off. You can borrow some of my stuff, it’s in the bathroom,” He points to the door.

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“Time to get organised” My mind sharp, I focus. Locate the Loadstone, get back to it and destroy it, save Susan. But first investigate, with knowledge is power and right now I was powerless. Later, dressed in t-shirt and tight jeans I settle in front of the computer and begin surfing. Patrick’s gone already I told him my theory and he looked petrified and based on the two recent deaths he decided that I was probably right, being a teacher that can’t die he said made me smart enough to know about this stuff. He’d decided to stay with his at his mothers that night. I put down my mug of tea and typed, time to learn.

Education Chapter 16 Wednesday 10th of May 2005 I sighed and lean away from the computer rubbing my eyes, I stretched out a yawn. Patrick hadn’t come back which I was glad of, I’d used the time alone get as much

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information to understand what had happened to me. I had established a lot about the Pharaoh that had owned The Loadstone, thank god for wikipedia. Thutmose III meaning Son of Thoth who was the god or scribe of all knowledge and is often picture in the wall carvings of the weighing of the heart in the afterlife. He was the sixth Pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty. During the first twenty-two years of Thutmose's reign he was co-regent with his stepmother, Hatshepsut, who was named the pharaoh. He served as the head of her armies. When he eventually became pharaoh of the kingdom, he created the largest empire Egypt had ever seen seventeen campaigns or wars where waged the Battle of Megiddo proberly was the largest battle. He conquered from Niya in north Syria to the fourth waterfall of the Nile in Nubia. He also brought more technological advancements than any other Pharaoh before or after with glass making among other things. Officially, Thutmose III ruled Egypt for almost fifty-four years and was buried Valley of the Kings as were the rest of the kings from this period in Egypt. Not bad for a time travelling Pharaoh I had found a lot but it felt as though I had made little progress. I picked up the notes that I had scribbled on pieces of paper, I roughly gathered them together and began sifting through them, discarding the first one which is covered in coffee rings and doodles, second one I read aloud. “Bubble theory is an infinite number of open multiverses, each with different physical constants. The bubble universe concept involves creation of universes from the quantum foam of a "parent universe." On very small scales, the foam is frothing due to energy

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fluctuations. These fluctuations may create tiny bubbles, if the energy fluctuation is greater than a particular critical value, a tiny bubble universe forms from the parent universe, experiences long-term expansion, and allows matter and large-scale galactic structures to form� Further down the page it read, The earliest known records found in ancient Hindu cosmology, in the Puranas texts. They express the idea of an infinite number of universes, each with its own gods, inhabitants and planets, and an infinite cycle of births, deaths, and rebirths of a universe, with each cycle lasting 8.4 billion years. The belief is too that the number of universes is infinite. This may link the Pharaoh in but how? I sighed and tried to piece together the information in my head. The bubble theory works but there are alternate universes, quantum universes, parallel worlds, alternate realities, alternate timelines, Time slips, time loops, ripple effects and multiverse. Most of which are only real in Quantum calculations and science fiction which in some opinions are the same thing. On the next page is written in bold. 1.

Went back in time / crossed over universes

2.

Here now but dead

3.

Multi layered reality

4.

Same matter cannot occupy same space

5.

Same matter can occupy same time

6.

Cross over again

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This reality was now in full motion, I had caused the flow of time to change, the events where now different and based on the bubble theory, when I cross over again the events that I have created and the timeline alterations that have occurred in this alternate reality may altogether cease to be. If I had not have been involved with the current time stream and just sat somewhere quietly I could have watched as I-me had gone to the museum and stepped back into the role of myself but now he-me was gone I had nothing left and no choice but to go back again. Simple ideas can be the best solutions and I had it right there go back but do it quietly, don’t even breathe hard. My headache has gone and I feel tired I had lost track of time, Time what a wonderful concept. I leaped up ran out of the study and did a victory lap around the lounge, “Susan will be alive” I jumped and punched the air shouting out loud. “I will be alive” I jumped and punched the air, “The house will be OK and everything would be back to normal” I jumped and punched the air again. I abruptly tripped over the leather and glass coffee table stumble on to the settee, fell over it and landed in a crumpled heap behind it. I was out of breath and laughing. I lay there for a while feeling the relief wash over me, I will be able to hold Susan, talk to Susan and see her laugh again. This timeline had nothing of consequence it couldn’t hold me back, I was about to get up and run around again when there was knock at the door... Oh god, I realise that I must have been making a lot of noise

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The caller rapped again and rang the doorbell. Patrick would have a key, unless he was drunk the wall clock said 5.45pm, too early for a drink but this was Patrick. I cautiously approached the door and peered through the spy hole, there was a massive brown eyeball staring back. I yelped and jumped back. “Patrick I know your in there” Ed’s droning accent filtered through the door and proberly the other three doors on the floor. Panic begins to take control, what do I do? “I brought that porn round that you wanted” Ed started having a loud and rational conversation with a locked door. If he draws too much attention this could all go wrong again. “I decided I don’t want it” I blurt out in a hammy Irish accent, did it work?.. “Get stuffed, I had to pay for these. Listen you can’t get Happy Humpers 4 in the UK, Let alone Lord of the Ringers the frillogy. Hang on you sound funny” “I got a cold and need to sleep it off. Come back tomorrow” I respond then hold my breath. “You said to meet here. I got a whole load a porn DVD’s you asked me to get from Spain and I want my money this time” He’s getting louder and whiney. “I said get lost, I’ll call you tomorrow” Maybe this tactic will work.

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“You’re a tosser sometimes. Wanker” I could hear him walking away. The sound of the lift doors opening, I held my breath. “If you fink you’re funny you Irish tit bag then you wrong” Ed’s voice, is he talking to me? “What are you talking about you great bollix, it’s so good to see you” Patrick’s voice. Oh god no, he’s arrived to meet Ed. The whole thing just got more complicated thanks to my interaction. When will I learn? We didn’t need Ed in on this. “You being in the flat messing around, then you must of run round got in the lift and met me here” Ed sounds angry. There’s a pause, a long one. “Oh that. I was just kidding around. Let me get you a beer. Is that the list of stuff I asked for? Fantastic. I owe you some money, your looking well” Patrick’s voice sounding chummy, cheesy and getting closer. I dash across the flat to the bedroom and push aside dresses, Blouses and squat in Katie’s wardrobe. I stay in the wardrobe for about an hour, I check my watch but that does the pendulum motion. Just as my calves start to ache I hear the flat door open and close. “John is you still here?” Patrick’s broad accent rings out. I walk in to the lounge and he’s looking dog rough, sitting drinking a beer on one of the settees, on the coffee table is a white carrier bag on one side spilling adult DVDs across the table and a newspaper. “What happened to you?” I point at his dirty clothes

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“Had to fix my Ma’s washer dryer” he nods at the white powder marks on his legs and brown stains on his shirt “Did you tell Ed anything?” I snap “Nope, but it sounds like you’ve been doing impressions” he shrugged. “Well what was I supposed to do?” I complain. “Sit quietly and do fecking nothing” There was something in his voice. Some thing was wrong. “What’s up with you?” “Take a look at the paper genius” He lights a cigarette. Sitting down I grab the Smallwood Crier the local paper on the front page.

MYSTERY MAN SEARCH

AFTER HOUSE FIRE

The Police have been looking in to the tragic house fire that broke out at a house in Smallwood on Sunday morning. Reports of a third person seen leaving the property have sparked a fresh investigation by police. One fire fighter

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claims the mystery person was badly injured and fled the scene without receiving suitable medical attention. Unsure of the third mans connection police have launched a series of enquires. Police Sergeant Jameson has realised the following statement “Efforts are being made to locate the individual who may require immediate hospital attention, we also need eliminate him from our enquires”.

Earlier today the police named those who lost their lives in the fire as husband and wife John and Susan Maddock. The Head of the fire department said their initial thoughts where that the house fire had been caused by a frying pan being left unattended due to an incident outside the property but because of the third person they where carrying out a detailed search. Mr Maddocks mother has appealed for anyone who may know anything to report it directly to the police. She has been quoted as saying, ‘Losing my son and daughter in-law has been bad enough but to consider foul play was involved is unbearable. I can’t wait for the whole thing to be over’. Susan Maddocks parents

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where unavailable to comment. Strong links have already been made to the reports of an injured man shouting and staggering through small wood town centre the later the same day, several eye witnesses have come forward… Next to the article there was a wedding photo of Susan and me smiling broadly. I dropped the paper unable to read any more and held my head in my hands. “So clever bollix what’s next” Patrick crushed his cigarette out into the ashtray. “Don’t know, lay low I guess” I run my fingers through my hair and sigh. “You could always try the one armed man routine, it worked for The Fugitive, I mean how much more can one man screw up his life eh?” He’s trying to lighten the mood but he’s being too sarcastic. My anger rises but I swallow it down. This is not my reality, nothing really matters here. I try to convince myself but its not working. Patrick sighs, “There’s a bit of a problem with the living arrangements” Patrick’s pulling his apologetic face. “Let me guess, Kate’s back?” I jump in. “Yes, come on, it’s her place. I can’t just turn round and kick her out can I?” “You could have delayed her, you know what situation I’m in”

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“Look at it this way she’s coming back early from LA for your funeral” “Whoopee doo, thanks for this, this is great. Thanks a bunch” “What am I supposed to say? Sorry darling you can’t come back home because the man that probably started the fire that killed your best friend by kicking a cat across a road is sleeping on your couch” Patrick’s up out of his chair pacing the floor, talking with his hands. “I didn’t kick it, it ran off. What am I supposed to do now?” “You got yourself in to the situation. I’m sorry you’ll have to get yourself out, Jesus knows I’d like to help but I’ve got nothing to offer” Patrick’s showing me the palms of his hands and looking honest. “Oh thanks. All the times I covered your back and now I need your help and you leaving me in a right mess” I’m shouting and he’s looking angry. “Feck off, I dragged you off that bridge and I’ve fed you. Given you my clothes and put a roof over your head” “That’s nothing when I consider all the things that I have done for you” I shout “No, not you, the guy who did that for me is getting buried next Monday, god rest his soul. You, you’re not even him. Even you don’t know what you are. He’s dead and soon to be buried, you’re just, just an abomination” He’s waving his hands around.

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“I saw my dead wife lying on the floor of our burning kitchen and I’ve got to live with that you don’t have to. I’m all you’ve got left, it’s your problem if you don’t like it” I respond slapping myself on the chest. Spit coming with my words. “Jesus Christ, poor you. Who caused that hey John? You think it’s easy having to avoid our friends, yeah what about Ed and Max? Their all hurting cause you’re dead and I’m acting like nothings happened because I’ve got my very own pet John at home waiting for me” He’s jabbing his finger at me again talking through gritted teeth. “It’s always about your problems. Maybe your right, the Patrick I know helps out his friends. Maybe this reality is different, I’ll see myself out” I grab the sceptre and a leather jacket. “The Patrick you knew, you mean. I want those clothes back” He shouts after me. “In a different lifetime” I sneer back closing the door.

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Detection Chapter 17 Wednesday 10th of May 2005 While John and Patrick argued in Katie’s apartment two police officers enter the lobby of the same building they are on official business. PC Young and PC Bamberg where chatting, mostly about football, as they walked through the reception. PC Young who had recently transferred from Hull after a doctor diagnosed him as suffering from acute stress, supported Hull FC and was defending his team. PC Bamberg a local man was a ‘never been to a football match but if asked I support’ fan of Manchester United. PC Neville Bamberg was convinced that his was the better team in comparison and PC Keith Young could be bothered with another meaningless debate.

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The officers had recently visited the home address of Patrick O’Connor and had been told by his mother that he could be found at his ‘stuck up’ girlfriends a Ms Katie Crabtree, which was fortunate because they had some enquires with her as well, regarding the recent house fire. “Do I get to ask the questions?” asked an enthusiastic PC Bamberg “We both ask the questions. OK” responded an irritated PC Young “OK, cool” Smiled Bamberg. PC Keith young shuddered at the term ‘cool’ used in connection with a serious series of police enquires. “Look this is serious. The Maddocks! Remember, have you read the file?” They stepped in to the lift and punched the third floor button. An automated female voice said ‘Door’s closing. Going up’. “Yeah of course, a possible murder mystery in Smallwood, it’s well exciting. Except for that time farmer Arnold blew his head off two years ago this is the most interesting thing to happen around here in ages” PC Bambergs mouth was opening and closing but he really wasn’t thinking about the words coming out. I fact his eyes wandered around the lifts furnishings like an easily distracted child. “Bloody hell, this place is boring” Resigned PC Young. Smallwood had been more than a bit of a disappointment to the aging officer. His formative years had been on the potent streets of Manchester and then moving on to vibrant Hull. Things there where light-years faster than this sleepy town. He felt like a coiled spring. His wife told him it would pass,

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but he liked to believe that he still had the blood hound instinct and after a few beers would say ‘it’s an impulse, a gut feeling and you can’t teach that!’. “I never been here before its posh isn’t it” PC Bamberg soaked in the fixtures and fittings as though he was at Buckingham palace. “Not the building, Smallwood, oh never mind” He sighed PC Keith Young groaned, due to his seniority the sergeant had decided to pair him off with the softest 25 year old in the force in a hope that PC Young would guide the naive recruit, however, at 47 he really didn’t want to be having such frivolous conversations. Shift finishes in 2 hours thank god, he thought. The lift stopped and automated voice said “third floor, doors opening”. The doors open. They step out of the lift and PC Young collided with a man, medium built, glasses with ginger hair wearing a leather jacket. “Sorry officers, I wasn’t looking where I was going. After you” The ginger haired man apologised and stepped aside allowing the officers to pass. “No need to apologise could happen to anyone” Replied PC Bamberg nonchalantly. He had turned on the police voice but even that made him look like he was trying too hard. PC Young turned toward the gentleman and smiled as the lift doors where closing. He was about to say something polite but the words had stuck in his throat, his open mouth

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paused in astonished silence. The automated voice said ‘doors closing, going down’. PC Bamberg carried on walking down the corridor, “What number apartment is on the job card?” he asked. Sensing he was alone he turned back to see PC Young feverishly going through the folder in his possession. Stopping suddenly and dropping everything on the floor except for a small square of paper. A hand went up to his mouth and shock blazed across his features. “Jesus Christ” He looked up at his colleague, his face was white and he was holding out a colour photograph. He’s having a heart attack, thought Bamberg “Keith what is wrong?” “That was John Maddock” Spat PC Young, shaking. Bambergs eyes rolled “Don’t be dense he’s dead” Said Bamberg waving the picture away “Look at bloody the picture” Roared PC Keith Young, trembling with adrenaline. PC Bamberg shook his head and looked at the picture. It was a picture of the deceased John Maddock. His mind rewound the situation and replayed, repeatedly and then with a migraine inducing crunch his psyche collapsed through the curtain of realities and begrudgingly allowed him to see the man at the lift door. It was the same man. “Stairs, Quickly, I’ll radio it in” They both said together. The officers charged at the door marked stairs.

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John was impatiently clapping his hands together, pacing the descending lift nervously. Annoyingly the lift stopped the voice said’ Second floor. Door’s opening’ a wealthy fat woman carrying a small dog on a leash stepped in to what she thought to be the empty lift. John squeezed himself in to one corner and tried not to be noticed. She chatted away to the dog as though it where a baby and then thinking she was alone she raucously passed wind, the dog whined. John gagged on the shockingly foul gaseous remnants of whatever rich and expensive food she had consumed. ‘Door’s closing. Going down’ John watched the doors close with a feeling of impending doom and gulped air through his mouth, holding his nose. He ignored the nausea in his stomach and tried to cling on the sandwich he’d had for lunch. His mind quickly returned to the situation in hand. He had seen the officer’s face, he knew he had been spotted, realising mainly due to the moronic stare that had been plastered all over the officer’s face as the lift doors had closed. He recognized both the officers from the mugging interview, it felt like a year ago and briefly he tried to recollect the police office’s name, he failed, the interview that now would never happen, how where you supposed to get your mind around all these different probabilities. He tapped is foot anxious to leave the confines of the stinking lift and swore never to use one again. ‘Ground floor. Door’s opening’.

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The woman bent slowly and placed her fragile dog on the floor carefully. John had little time for such delicacies and swiftly pushed her out the way, she screamed, fainted and farted again. John ran at full speed towards the exit, he shoulder barged the left hand double door and as he connect with the reinforced plate glass he heard the immortal words “Stop Police” Young and Bamberg legs hammered down the stairs. Perusing their suspect across the road, along the pavement, just as they made some progress the suspect turned down an alley way. PC Young radioed for back up a second time and updated his headquarters on the movements of the fleeing suspect. He was assured officers where on their way and would be blocking the far end of the alley. The alley way was 10 foot wide and easily blockable. For five long minutes John sprinted as fast as he could, he glanced back too see the officers chasing with iron determination and bared teeth. The officers stab vests and other equipment where jiggling around independently of their bodies. It occurred to John that this was why people aspire to become police officers, the high octane police work, the arse kicking and the uniform. PC Young’s grin grew wider as he heard an approaching siren. He realised that the suspect could also hear the siren because he had started scanning the walls of the alley way to find another escape route. This was what Keith loved and soon that little prick would be in custody and he could enjoy the back slapping.

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John heard the siren and was trying to find a door or window to escape through but none of them looked suitable. The alley turned right then left and suddenly the end was in sight but it was blocked by a squad car and three police officers who are standing like wicket keepers roughly one in front of the other. They hadn’t seen him he was surprised to pass the first waiting officer untouched, he was some way ahead of his colleagues, John had just reached the second officer who was staring blankly ahead when from behind him the same commanding voice began shouting orders. “Get him. Grab him, take him down, don’t just stand there” John passed the last perplexed officer and vaulted the bonnet of the squad car. Sliding to a stop in the street, in away that made him look like he had six knee caps he turned to check the progress of his pursuers. He watched as the officers come together in a mashed lump, they careered into one another and hit the squad car as a whole. There was shouting and swearing as they started scrabbling over the car. John began running again, seeing lines of vehicles at the traffic lights further up the road he ran towards them and disappeared around a corner. The officers made chase, three where unsure who they where looking for and the other two felt angry, frustrated and generally pissed off. The officers reached the corner only to find a vaguely empty street and no suspect. They all panted and cursed. Half an hour later PC Young and PC Bamberg where back at the police station desperately reviewing CCTV footage taken at the apartment building over the last week. Even when they showed their colleagues grainy footage of the chase strangely no one

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noticed anything strikingly about the obvious similarities between the suspect and the deceased. Paper work followed paper work, PC Keith Young was an hour late getting home, missed the family dinner and argued with his wife about being late. PC Bambergs mother reheated his ‘spag-bol’ and talked about the upcoming local fete. John was crashing through the leafy safety of the ancient woodland known locally as Bagley woods.

Hidden Chapter 18 Thursday 11th of May 2005 The morning has been threatening to appear for some time now and the sun is cresting the trees that frame the large building of the Williamson School for boys in front of me. I’ve been sitting on the wooded edge of the school grounds seeing all the children slowly making into the dinning hall for breakfast yawning and rubbing at the remnants of sleep in their eyes that they have forgotten to wash away. I can feel my stomach growling, it feels like an age since those sandwiches at Patrick’s and I’m weighing up whether to walk back in to Smallwood or venture into the kitchen bins shortly.

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I remember hunger before all this but my stomach aches with another full feeling, guilt, I’m responsible for all this, the blood shed, dishonesty and the fire it’s all my fault and my stomach is always plagued a strange sickly full feeling and every now and then it rises up, clawing at my neck giving me hot wet sweats. I can’t shake it off unless I’m totally absorbed in something else. The canteens clearing, crossing the sports field I’m very aware of my surroundings and slide around the back of the building staying tight to the shape of the building. As I reach another window I realise it’s the staff room I can hear the tones of The Headmaster; “Terrible waste of life and my heart goes out to his family, today’s assembly will give us a collective remembrance of Mr John Bartholomew...” The Headmasters voice drowned out by a rampant fit of sickly sounding coughs and hacking, a cracked voice apologised once they had subsided. I twisted my head around and at the back of the room with a handkerchief pressed to his mouth was Mr Stevenson Head of History. I could only just see him, he looked pale, waxy even and a shudder ran though him every now and then. He smiled a weak smile. The Headmaster was looking at him disapprovingly, he continued standing at the front of the gathered teachers. “Yes As I was saying. The pupils will have either heard or read something about the fire as your all aware Ms Karen Calloway has been kind enough to look after Mr Maddocks form group which have already been offered a certain level of grief counselling which

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once again Ms Calloway has also been kind enough to offer her expertise as a trained councillor” Looking around my collected colleagues they all appeared sullen and silent. This was moving as I had chosen not to get in to the social side of work. I chatted very little to them but they all looked genuinely concerned. Silence was suddenly thick and apparent, looking back at the head master I realised he had paused and raised a fist, and was crushing his eyes together. I could almost detect a tear in the corner of his face nearest to me. “And these rumours of there being some foul play will have to be squashed as it’s effect on the pupils that have exams coming up is a distraction that is not to be encouraged, even theoretically” he said staring directly at one of my colleagues who shrank in to his chair. Anger and guilt made me want to smash through the window and run over and grab him and shout ‘you insensitive shit she’s dead, I’m dead and that’s not theory that’s real life’. I chose to move away from the window, I was big news, controversial news. The guilt flipped over in my stomach. I moved tentatively to the entrance. Looked at my watch automatically but it was a little use, hands running metronome like, once all the way clock wise and back anti clockwise. I loitered by one of the double doors waiting for the bell to ring so that I could make my wall by wall in to the building once every one had assembled in the hall.

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Standing in the empty canteen I can hear the dinning staff busy in the kitchen, the cereal and milk are all that is left of the morning menu I swoop on to the plastic tubs and grab a bowl. Checking the tables are empty I look across the empty metal serving hatches hot water steam out through gapping holes where hot metal trays of bacon and eggs, pancakes and others offerings would have been available. A staff member appeared from one on the doors that lead in to the kitchen, cloth in hand. I duck behind the counter juggling the milk and a full bowl of museli. “Who’s taken the milk?” A muffled response was returned. “Well I don’t know either, if it’s one of those...” her voice trailed away in to the kitchen. I stay crouched pour a good amount out of the milk jug and drink more directly from the lip. Putting back the jug and then blindly grasp for a spoon and scuttle to the back of the dinning area. Leaning against huge wooden doors on the floor below table height I am able to see any one coming in or going out from their feet. The adjoining door shifts as I lean on it. The assembly on the other side, however, I’m not worried about being discovered as the wall to floor hinged dividing door is rarely opened for indoor games or larger activities. I can hear the assembly as it begins with the Lords’ prayer. Eating quickly and pushing the thoughts and sounds from the assembly from my head I jump when part of the door opens at the far end of the room, cowering from the

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possibility of being discover a boy worms his fat body through a narrow gap. It’s the pupil called Matthews from my form which is now Ms Calloways class, he stands and brushs his uniform down with his podgy hands. Marching over to the serving hatch looking for staff, “Hello, I say, is there anyone there” The same woman came out and upon spotting the milk jug raised her eyebrows “So you thought you borrow the milk did you?” “Pardon” “The Milk, just thought you’d help yourself did you” she said picking it up and cradling the jug defensively. “What, I mean No, I wanted another of you delicious sausage sandwiches” “No sorry, stopped serving ages ago” “But I would like another sausage sandwich please” “No, go away... You’re lucky I don’t report you for milk theft” She went to turn back into the kitchen. “Listen here I have asked nicely and now I’m asking again, don’t make me ask a fourth time” His voice was crisp.

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I felt disappointment this boy is one of my better pupils or so I had though, i had no idea he would be abusing staff. I expected it of others but Matthews was prompt, polite and helpful. I go to stand up to say something but realise that I shouldn’t, I can’t. “What did you say” the look of shock and disbelief was fleeting as I assumed this wasn’t the first time the fat boy had been in here after bell had rung. “I said don’t make me ask again, woman” I could see his eyes where bright and wide as where the teeth in his mouth, set in cruel snarl. “Well I never, I should have preferred if you’d just asked nicely” He cut her off. “ I did and you said no, if my father hears of this, Jenny, he’ll report you to the headmaster and you’ll lose your job, now run along and get me my sandwich with tomato sauce” he eyed her name badge and glared at here finishing with a sycophantic smile. She said nothing and hurried in to the kitchen returning shortly with a plated sandwich made red around the centre with sauce. He sauntered over to a table away from me and the door and sat down quickly and began devouring the sandwich like a ravenous dog. I realise I still have museli in my mouth and swallow hard. I notice Jenny from the kitchen standing and watching a devious grin on her lips and I suspect that there maybe a little more in the sandwich than Matthews was aware of. He chewed and swallowed veraciously and soon was finished, my stomach turned and I lost interest in the museli, he finished the food with a loud rattling belch and kicked the chair back.

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He waddled back to the door and slid through the whole again. “ Jenny, he called me Jenny. I know it’s my name but the cheek” A voice from the kitchen high pitched and angry. “Oh he got one alright, you know that, bin scraps, i had to was the muck off em before I put em in the sandwich”. I left my bowl on the table in front of me and made my way through the empty wooden panelled corridors. I’m listening for foot falls, checking the clocks on the wall so not to be caught out in the open by a pupil or colleague, strange to think that I still refer to them as colleagues. I found the door I’m looking for luckily it’s unlocked the words No Access once gain marked another opportunity for failure. The corridors are dusty and rarely used but I make my way down in to the vaulted basement. I had heard of the basement and the whispered ghost stories from the children. Things scuttle from me as the electric light gets dimmer. “So I see the reports of your death have been grossly exaggerated” A voice in the darkness. I grab the sceptre and prepare cool panic rises form my belly and throttles me. “Who’s there” I can pick out a figure in the black first the forehead then the eyes. “You don’t know me, no ones see me, I’m the invisible man” He looks like a wolf a man born in battle. Baseball cap gone, black long shaggy hair, big side burns, bushy eye brows.

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“Paul what are you doing, you’re the caretaker! What’s happened to your voice” Fear replaced by confusion. “It appears we all have our secrets, you’re from the government and your here for me, you presumed I wouldn’t recognise a military man. Well I did, I’m not going back and you can’t make me” Something cuts through the air and smashes in to the back of my neck, the world slips out of focus and I’m floating in blackness.

Chalk and Cheese Chapter19 Thursday 11 May The interview room was once new but the faded carpet ran up that wall to meet a dado rail was just as scuffed and tattered as everything else. There is an epidemic of dust. The dado rail contained an alarm which served as a panic button should the officer need help, it to was in need of attention as a several stickers proclaimed “do not use”. In the far corner are a stack of 6 unused office chairs, two empty eyed computer towers and boxes of discarded accounts paper work. The single window was small and clean. Patrick had been asked by the two officers to attend an interview and it had been going on for about ½ an hour.

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“Well I’m sorry I haven’t got any information” signed Patrick dramatically “The suspect looks like the deceased and he’s at large” Growled PC Young “Well not that he’s done anything” Smiled PC Bamberg “What do you mean, just be quiet” Snapped the senior officer. The younger officer pouted an looked away muttering ‘You said I could ask the questions’ Patrick smiled, PC Young picked up on Patricks grin and at that point decided that this wasn’t going to be a good day. “Do you find this funny?” “The double act or the fact that my friend is dead in a morgue somewhere and you think That I... I HAD SOMETHING TO DO WITH IT’ Patricks cool gone the words of the other John, the alive John rattling around his head. ‘go back, go through the stone again and make it alright...it must have been Monday the 16th... Anbury Museum... See you in another life time!’ “If you’ve quiet finished, I have footage of a man leaving your apartment that looks just like your deceased friend” “Leaving my apartment?” Patrick raised an eyebrow “Yes”

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“Clear footage of the suspect you say?” “Yes” PC Youngs neck grew warm as he realised that they truth was beginning to blur “Looks like you’re about to land yourself a big fish then doesn’t” Patrick templed his fingers and squinted. “Yeah he told me he’s going to crack this one and then those smug bastards can see what real police work is all about” grinned P.C Bamberg looking for his colleague to confirm the statement. Patrick Laughed out loud and stifled the reaction in to a cough. “I thought I told you to be quiet!” A red faced P.C Young snapped “Look P.C Young you said I could ask the questions, well some of them, and you’ve asked them all, so far” Retorted P.C Bamberg. P.C Young put his head in his hands, withered and groaned, “Oh for f... go on then P.C Bamberg” The younger man smiled and retrieved a notebook from his pocket, unsnapped the black elastic and licking his thumb began leafing through the note pad mouthing words like, shopping list, fantasy football, Christmas. “Ah right, do you know of any enemies or anyone that may have a grudge against the deceased?”

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“No” answered Patrick taking the questioning far to seriously and relishing the reaction of the older policeman. PC Bamberg ticked the list that Patrick could not see. “Can you account for your whereabouts on the morning of the incident?” “Yes” another tick from the officer “Can anyone cor... car... corroborate your whereabouts?” “Yes” Another tick. “Do you have any information about the house fire you think could be useful to our investigation?” “No” Another tick. “Thank you very much I have no further questions” He snapped his book closed and placed it firmly back in his top pocket. Patrick looked expectantly at the other officer. “You know, I like him a lot more than you” he said as a matter of fact “Thank you MR O’Connor you are free to leave. We have no further questions” “You sure, you know you’ve a big fish and those smug bastards need teaching a lesson” “No thank you”

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Patrick pulled out his chair and chuckling, left the room. “WHAT WAS THAT” P.C Young shouted at Bamberg “Your just jealous because he likes me more than you” Sulked Bamberg “No I ‘am pissed off because you lost us a major witness you fucking moron, THAT GUY KNOW SOMETHING, HE’S IN IT UP TO HIS BALLS AND I CAN’T DO JACK SHIT ABOUT IT” Open mouthed and blinking with shock P.C Bamberg sat statue like frozen with shock. P.C Young stalked out of the room.

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Kate Chapter 20 Friday 12th of May 2005 Patrick had just finished tidying up the apartment when the front door opened and his girlfriend Katie walked in. She looked beautiful, executive and exhausted, she let her shoulder travel bag slide off her on to the floor. She causally dropped the other bags she was carrying in the middle of the hall way. She slipped out of her court shoes, pushed them together with her foot near the door, wiggled her toes in the deep pile carpet and moaned “Honey I need wine� She said upon seeing Patrick.

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“Ah the wine, Jesus, I’ll pop out and get some.” He tried his best to look apologetic. He and John had drunk and eaten almost every perishable item in the apartment. “Don’t go any where, I haven’t seen you in almost a week” With that she grabbed hold of Patrick and kissed him firmly, Patrick responded. Breaking apart Patrick could see lust in her eyes and he played it cool. “I better get the wine” He held out his hand and waited. Katie grunted in annoyance, fished around in her handbag, located her purse and shoved her debit card in to his open hand. Patrick grinned and kissed her on the cheek “You get settled in and I’ll be back in no time at all” He put his jacket on kissed her on the cheek again and headed out the door. Katie walked through in to her lounge noticed the almost mess men leave cushions unplumped and in the wrong place and the collection of newspapers on the coffee table, she ignored it and flopped down on to a settee. She felt good to be home, feeling was replaced by remorse as she remembered her friend Susan, the reason for her return home. Walking through to the bedroom she idly picking up her bags and emptied them on her bed, religious folding and hanging clothes. Patrick returned with two bottles of wine and six beers for himself. Katie felt better after a change of clothes. Lighting dimmed and Simon and Garfunkel whispering from the stereo, her music a secret pleasure that only a few people knew. Patrick approved, she knew they had similar tastes. They sat around the coffee table on the floor. Kate chatted about her trip and her job. But Patrick wasn’t listening just nodding in the right places. Katie noticed,

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“Patrick what’s wrong, are you missing John?” He shifted and she knew she was on the button. He hesitated uncharacteristically, “Kate there’s something I need to talk with you about” it had taken a lot to say that, he didn’t confide in anyone except John but now he was gone. Patrick poured Katie a glass of wine, it made that satisfying glug, glug sound and passed it to her. Her heart stopped when her mind considered infidelity. “What!” she yelped? “The fire, you know the one that Susan died in. Well it was an accident but the police have got the idea in to there heads that there may have been another motive. That there could have been someone else involved” She barely noticed he hadn’t mentioned John. “Oh no” She put her hand to he mouth. “The police came round here asking all sorts of questions” he drank his beer. Best not to mention the questions about the sighting, he reasoned with himself. “Oh God and?” A massive amount thoughts and images passed through her mind. “They need to ask you some questions too” He stroked her hand. Looking in to her eyes “But I don’t know anything” She reasoned. “That’s true. The thing is I know what truly happened but ,and this is the hard part Kate, I can’t tell the police what I know because they won’t believe me and neither would you, so whatever you see, hear or read in the news is not true. Their deaths where clean deaths

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and no mistake” Kate blinked trying to except the information that Patrick was presenting. With out thinking she asked, “Why what happened?” Patrick sighed. “I could tell you but that means you’d know and you can never un-know anything. You can forget but it’ll come back and you’ll be at risk” he could see she was getting annoyed. “My best friend died and you can’t tell me what really happened. I don’t understand Patrick, what the hells going on” she started to raise her voice and backed away from him staring accusingly. “Everything’s OK. It’s nothing I’ve done but the thing is there’s more” He looked reluctant. “I can’t believe this, I leave town for a week and all hell brakes loose, you better tell me what’s been going on?” She yelled “I can’t. The truth is, I don’t really understand myself” he shrugged “I want my old life back” She crept on to the settee away from the floor and Patrick. “Exactly! And that’s the best way to keep things. All I ask is that you trust me” He joined her on the settee and caressed her hair. “That’s asking a lot.” She brushed his hand away. “I’ll explain, but not now” He softly held her hands in his.

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“So just pretend, but I know that you know something.” She simmered, cooling down. “I’m telling you, they’ll treat me like a madman and I’ll get thrown in a loony bin or something worse” He shrugged. “So what do we do?” She snuggled into him “Carry on as normal” He said putting his head on top of hers. “If I didn’t love you I wouldn’t be able to trust you” She felt Patrick stiffen and then relax. It was the first time she had told him. “Ok” Patrick cursed himself for such a feeble response to this revelation. “I suppose that’s all we can do” She agreed. They lay like that for a while saying nothing just enjoying each others company. Katie’s stomach made a noise. “I’ll order some Chinese” Patrick broke the silence “Why is it always Chinese?” she asked moving out of their embrace. “I just like asking for chicken and pork balls” he chuckled. Katie smiled and the mood changed. They discussed the options on the menu and worked out what they wanted, rang and made the order. While they waited Kate said without thinking,

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“I’ve decided to wear my ankle length black dress, the all in one number for the funeral” “Uh Huh” Patrick stood and went to get another beer. “What are you wear Mr Jeans and T-shirt?” she shouted after him “Feck off, that’s Armani Jeans and Calvin Klein T-shirt. Thank you all the same” He responded walking back in with a fresh beer. “What are you going to wear?” she pressed the issue. His eyes became heavy and his shoulders dropped “I’ll not be going. I’d feel all weird an all” He shrugged in apology and cracked the can open. He noticed her expression change and colour rise in her face. “You’re going if I’m going” Affirmed Katie “Ah don’t start all this relationship crap now, you’ve only been through the door ten minutes” He started to object but was cut down. “John’s been your friend and Susans been mine for a very long time. We met at that party because they invited us. You don’t have to go because of me you have to go because of them” Kate was angry and this was a nonnegotiable situation. Her way was the only way. “It’s just that I’d feel weird” He repeated

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“Look, you asked me not to ask any questions. But if your unwilling to come to their funeral then, I don’t know what that makes me think” She retorts. Patrick tried to answer but Katie held up a hand and stopped him. “You’ve persuaded me, that I don’t want to or need to know, however, He was your friend and last time I counted you haven’t got many of those around” “Ay, your right” Patrick exhaled and grew even smaller. She was right and as his mother said women often where and that, she told him, explains why he didn’t stick around the same one for too long. He picked up the extensive remote, it controlled everything as far as he could conceive. He struggled with it momentarily and worked out how to switch the music off and the TV burst into life, he gulped down his beer and ignored Katie. She sighed, Patrick had shut down and when he was ready to talk again he’d talk. She watched him drinking his beer straight from the can. She could tell he was angry because he’d lost the debate and probably angrier at himself for being angry. Patrick sat and thought. The TV jabbered away but he wasn’t watching it. His mind rolled thoughts around like bricks in a cement mixer, John had died and he’d come back. “I have to go back.. Monday 16th May” his words echoing around Patricks head. He had saved John and then kicked him out, this he knew but he couldn’t help feeling that maybe he’d imaged it.

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Then he remembered the ruined clothes in the kitchen bin, they where the only thing he had to prove that he’d been standing talking to a real man and not his imagination. His jaw tightened with frustration, the shell of a house that he had visited, the water logged front lawn bits of black every where, windows smashed, police and firemen milling around. John and Susan had such hopes and dreams in that house. Patrick realised that maybe needed a few of those, maybe he needed to do the right thing for a change. The door bell rang, snatching him out of his thoughts, the Chinese had arrived. Katie and Patrick sat down around the glass dining table. Patrick poured more wine and offered Katie a smile which she accepted. They laughed at the fortune cookies and Patrick felt good and appreciated that he had missed Katie. Katie looked at Patrick and felt complete, later they fell into bed. Maybe it was because he’d witnessed a beautiful relationship die or the alcohol in his blood stream, either way Patrick recognized he had feelings for Katie. That night Patrick made love for the very first time in his life.

Ghost Stories and war heroes Chapter 21 Friday 12th May

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Late evening and the Richard Williamsons school for boys creaked and groaned with the change in temperature. Along one of the corridors that was now strictly out of bounds to boarders came a hushed kafuffle. “Don’t worry we won’t get caught” “I thought that all staff except the wardens went home at night?” “Would you two shut up, we won’t get caught and he has no where else to go” “Why?” “He says that he’s ex Special Forces and that if he goes out the army will catch him” A group of pupils rounded the corner two wide eyed, one little the other large and one with rodent determination. George Peters clicked on a torch and brought the light under his chin and made a noise like a Scooby Doo ghost. “Stop it.’ implored Russell Smyth-Crow the larger of the three boys’ you know I’m scared” “Scared of what?” chuckled Sam Pullets, George Peters joining in with the laughter. “I can’t see if there are any spiders” “Oh yeah I forgot to mention he lives in the basement”

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The Larger boy stopped, the other two carried on walking but turned back for their friend, “I can’t do it, I can’t go in the cellar, it’ll be heaving with allsorts of bugs and ghosts” “Russ my man you’re the size of a house what’s you problem with small things and as for ghosts, you can forget ghosts, zombie and vampires that’s kids stuff” “Yeah, you’re the big man, the cannon. Let us get this on, let us do this mother” enthused Sam. The two boys Russ and George looked at each other and then at Sam “What are you are talking about” they said together. “err nothing” Blushed Sam Pullets “We’re here” whispered George shining his torch on a door marked No Access, except for the sign the wooden door was hidden within the Oak panelling. George pushed and the door clicked and opened out. The two other boys chorused Cool. The smell of damp and stale air greeted them as the stepped in to the darker corridor, Russ flinching and holding his wide arms away from the cobwebbed walls. “Paul” Whispered the leader George. The stairs dropped dramatically into a vaulted corridor that disappeared into blackness, the arched ceiling dropping in the corners to shoulder height. The doors running the length of the corridor on either side promised adventures to the three teenagers, stacked folding chairs where arranged in neat piles between the closest of the two sets of doors.

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They squinted in the poor glow from the strip of yellow and rusted lights that disappeared with the corridor somewhere beyond the line of sight. “Why are you whispering now? You could’ve been heard in the next county” Hissed Paul the caretaker from one of the darkened doors. They followed the voice into a brighter tidy room that contained a cot bed, a small book shelf, Old school desks used as work surfaces upon which one stood a combo grill and oven. The doors at that led off the room in either wall where curtained in old faded school flags. The room smelt of sweat and cigarettes Sat in the corner at a desk over a sheet of paper in the sharp glow of a spot lamp was the twitching caretaker. “Oh him, I know you, you’re the caretaker” Beamed Russ “Yeah and your the school genius” Smirked Paul “Hey there’s no need to be like that” moaned Russ “Sorry, just are a bit difficult, things are getting difficult” he said to himself rather than the others. “Paul was in the army, SAS” George swelled with pride.

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Suddenly Paul was across the room and in the boys face, then realising his threatening stance backed away and began too pace. “You need to forget that, it was all lies. I made it up” muttered Paul, his traditional cap that he always wore was on the cot, discarded and long thick black hair sprouted up and out of his scalp making him look feral. “But George told me that you know all the Special Forces fighting moves, he showed us some on the sports field” Volunteered Sam. The caretakers shoulders dropped and he turned back toward the small nervous teenager. His eyes like slits, “Oh really what else did he tell you?” “Nothing...No...Nothing” stuttered Sam moving to the book case. Russ had finally realised this situation was a bit odd and he was starting to resent this strange man picking on his friends. “Hey what’s your problem? We came down here to be sociable and you’re being mean” “Sorry, I’m sorry I’m struggling” He dropped on to the bed and sighed head in his hands. “You told me that you had been experimented on and escaped, tell them what you told me” Pleaded George. “I’m sorry they where just stories” dismissed Paul.

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“What’s this then” Sam was by the book shelf leafing through a battered paper back. Between his thumb and forefinger was a piece of old cloth, a shield shaped badge, on it a dagger with wings sprouting from the blade and a scroll with the words ‘who dares wins’. It was tatty burnt and in poor condition. “Proves nothing” snorted Paul moving over to inspect Sam critically “O.K, Sam just it put it back. It doesn’t matter. We came to talk to you about Matthews” George said deflated that his hero had let him down. “Oh” enquired Paul. The boy was a source of irritation for all the domestic staff and the pupil was using his parents wealth to threaten and intimidate all except the teachers who where convinced he was an impeccable student. “Do you know that today he only had a go at Jenny in the kitchen about getting a sausage sandwich? He’s been stealing milk too” shared Paul “He’s also been pinching our cigarettes and other banned stuff” Paul stopped and thought. “you need to fit him up some how. You’ll have to steal something of extreme importance hide it among his possessions and then expose him as the culprit or get him to steal it in the first place” “How do we do that?”

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“Simple, tell him your going to steal it first, but not directly. To defeat your enemy you must be come your enemy. First rule of train...” he stopped staring off in to the distance reliving the experience that had haunted him all these years and now it was here, in the old meat store a few rooms down securely bound and gagged. His tactics where already planned had been from day one. Implement operation ghost. Lost in his thoughts he had fallen away from the conversation and came back to it. “Caught him setting light to the toilet paper in the boys toilets so I sprayed him with water and told him if I caught him doing it again I’d shove his head down the toilet and flush the chain” beamed George “No way” goggled Russ “Yeah, our new teacher Ms Calloway has made him the class boy” groaned Sam. George nodded at Russ and realised that Paul was still acting odd. He was chewing a finger nail and looking at the wall. “What’s up?” he asked “Nothing, are you going home this weekend” His heart was in his mouth “Yeah we all are, I think a few are staying over” Sam answered. Paul felt beads of sweat prick his forehead. “Oh, who?”

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“Matthews and a few of his mates are staying, probably to sneak around and pinch stuff and some of the seventh years I think” Answered George, he produced a cigarette and the other boys tensed excepting Paul to explode. Paul blatantly ignored the action, re approached the lit desk and leafed through the stack of papers. George gave his friends a nod and whispered. “See told you he was cool” Holding a fist full of papers urgently he asked, “When do you get back from your parents?” George blew out a line of bluish smoke, “Usually after 5 o’clock...” Paul cut him short, scribbling notes. “and that’s the same for everyone” he didn’t look up from the notes he was feverously writing. “Yeah, mostly what’s this all about?” Asked George “It’s not important” said Paul without looking up. Suddenly a loud crash some where nearby, spread silence among them turning them into statues of fear. Paul looked at one of the flagged off doors. George instantly extinguished his cigarette.

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“What was that” whispered Russ “You have to leave now” Growled Paul “Why what’s going on?” asked George “Out now, that’s an order” snapped Paul The crash be came a grinding of wood on stone “There it is again” stated Russ. “Just go, I don’t want you down here anymore I’m sick of your annoying whining. GET OUT” the boys broke in to a confused trot, expecting to find a teacher who had rumbled them at the top of the stairs. They popped open the door in to the empty corridor.

Paul curled up on the cot and crushed his eyes closed, the noise continued to grind he ignored it, pulled bottle of tablets from under his pillow, dispensed one in to his hand and swallowed it and slept.

Prisoner Friday 12/05/2005 Chapter 22

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John Maddock My mouths full of something horrible and dry. The corners my mouth hurt where someone’s pulled gag tight. The worlds undefined there’s a hood over my head I’m on a chair my arms are tide to the chair as are my legs. I feel woozy almost drunk. The sceptre is still in my pocket, so he hadn’t searched me then? I remember earlier hands on my face forcing my mouth open a pill and a finger in my mouth making me gag and water almost choking me then nothing again. The smells damp, cigarettes and a human smell. I can hear voices young peoples voices. Oh no he’s got one of the pupils, no there’s three distinct voices and his. He sounds confused and angry but the boys’ sound fine, maybe their unaware of the danger? I’ve got to warn them but how? I move my weight the chair shifts slightly, I work against the binds and lean to the left and the throw all my weight to the right the chair teeters on two legs. I scream through the gag as pain explodes in right elbow as my body weight crushes it against the chair back. My ears are pounding with the blood pumping through me but I can hear Paul shouting. I’ve got to get to the kids and shuffle the chair again. Then I can hear feet pounding the floor tiles, followed by silence and then I can’t hear any thing except a mechanical rumble in the distance. The boys had hopefully got away. I remember going in to the basement and he’d seen me. How long had I been down here?

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Struggling with the ropes I can’t do anything. I’m. Shuffling around I can see a light source through the cloth over my face and start shuffling toward it suddenly I feel a pull from behind, grunting I pull forward again and something stops me, he’s obviously tied the chair to a something like a leash. Oh god what’s he going to do to me? I continue to grunt and struggle, the house fire and the loadstone fell so long ago. I had to find away out and get back. I thrash until my limbs ache and I’m exhausted.

Smoke Screen Chapter 23 Saturday 14 May 2005 Paul had risen earlier than usual and checked on the prisoner who had managed to get his legs free but was still very secure and either ignoring him or asleep. He didn’t disturb him and went back to the desk. The plan memorized and concrete he gathered his papers and books in to a brown cardboard box along with the posters on the walls. All his personal affects that where no longer essential where placed in the box.

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From under the bed he pulled out a webbing belt and began putting the important items in to the many pockets. He’d miss the school but he had to think of himself, the armed forces had located him and any further delay would have consequences.

John Maddock though, he pulled a manila file out of the cardboard box which had a staff photo of John on the front and he leafed through the information that he had collected on him, his wife and their background. John had been an excellent mark, of all his suspects John was at the very bottom of the list, which was something he now remembered the intel guys teaching him and his fellow soldiers as they sat with clean shaved heads in the ops room all those years ago. If your intel tells you nothing, that suspect should be at the top of the list because that in it’s self is a suspicious trait. He smiled at his own incompetence and now how obvious the house fire had been a smoke screen, once John had managed to disappear then he could close down his target. It was almost beautiful.

He threw the folder back in the cardboard box and checking under the bed he picked up the box and walked into the corridor, all the way to the end where the great old beast of a furnace groaned and roared. Using a complicated metal pole he opened the inspection hatch light and heat poured into the room, sweating he approached the hatch and threw the box and contents in.

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“Good bye Paul the caretaker” he saluted the burning hole. Closing the hatch he turned back to his room. As he walked passed the old wooden door he could here the prisoner grunting and ignored it. He picked up the his webbing and heard and almighty crash from the prisoners room it echoed along the corridor. ****** I heard him unlock the door come in and walk around me. Laying here thinking all the facts, I had calmed myself and looked for all the answer in all the facts. Let the tumbler roll allow the answer to fall in to place. The drug he’d forced me to have had worn off and I could think straight no more blind panic. The sceptre hums and I bring my knees up to my stomach and roll forward awkwardly on to my knees, my neck down. I still can’t shake the bag off. Getting my balance I whip my left leg out and put my foot flat on the floor, rocking backwards and forwards I lunge forward and stand up. The leash snaps tight stopping me from falling forward. Uncomfortably I shuffle backwards counting the steps, they come to nineteen. Walking forward again I can feel my heart pumping in my chest, the taste of the gaga and my aching contorted limbs, the leash snaps again, I hope this works. Running backwards as fast as I can I smash the chair into the wall behind me I feel my left shoulder pop and my hands mash in to a metal pipe. I scream into the gag and the chair loosens but not completely I can’t feel my left hand.

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Susan needs me I stagger forward again the loose chair making movement eaiser. I crouch forward bending my knees. I can hear him in the other room. It’s got to fucking work throwing myself up wards and backwards, I’m air born for all of a few seconds, suddenly I feel a burst of new pain in my back and bile rise in my mouth only to be stopped by the gag the chair explodes. With my right hand I rip the bag of my head I try to use my left arm to grab my gag but I’m unable to move it, squinting I can see Paul’s in the door way, knife in hand staring. As I stand pieces of the chair fall away from me some still attached to my arms by the tight ropes. My left arm shoots upward and my shoulder pops into place but below my elbow my arm is pointing in a nauseating direction and my fingers are a confusion of blood and bone. My arm sways and then flicks it’s self out horizontally and the elbow nits together, it’s as though ants are crawling over skin, I’m in no control of this at all. My fingers snap and wiggle as I stare astonished at the repulsive spectacle. I realise my arms healthy again and flex it and look at Paul, “You better have a very good reason” but I stop sensing something in my back. I reach my new left arm around my back and find a chair spoke logged in my body just next to my spine. I grab it and squeal as I pull it out, the rush of warm blood spreading out from the new hole quickly stops. I drop the piece of wood in front of me. “For starving me, tying me up and drugging me?”

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“They have been busy, what are you a super solider or something” “What? No. I’m just trying stay out of everyone’s way, I come down here and you tie me up and lock me in here” Paul staying stock still. “You don’t fool me, I bet you’ve got a team coming down here as we speak. First you smoke screen your place. Good work by the way” he growled “Team, what team” “SAS, my old team, 5 man team... no way” His eyes rolling in his head. “I’m not in the army I’m a school teacher” I pleaded “Oh yeah I’m the Queen of Sheba, See this knife, I carry it always just in case vermin like you crawl out of the government sewer trying to find me” He snarled. “I’m a school teacher I’ve known you for as long as I’ve worked here” His eyes softened “Fair enough for old time sake then” In one fluid motion he stepped backwards and swung a huge Iron door closed shutting me in. “What the fuck!” I shout my voice echoing. “You can shout as much as you like by the time the weekends over you might be found” “ You can’t do this” “You right I could kill you but that’s the old me, by John Maddock have a nice life”

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Metal scrapped against metal and a loud clunk signified the locking of my prison cell. I sat down in the corner of the room and untied the ropes still attached to me.

The Greenman Chapter 24 Saturday 14/5/2010

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The Lazy sun was bathing the sky in red and the crickets had come out to serenade the ramblers, friends, couple and families that filled the poplar bar and beer garden of the Green man public house and family restaurant. “So much for a welcome home drink ain’t nothing to celebrate” Grumbled Ed Briars nursing a Pint of larger in the beer garden. “Yeah it’s not the same” nodded Max staring in to the bottom of his glass. “Come on lads if John was here he’d want us laughing and sharing jokes” Smiled Patrick “Yeah but he’s not, to John he was my friend” Said Ed raising his glass. Patrick felt a sudden hint of disgust for Ed and he shook his head “To John, I know we didn’t know each other that long but I enjoyed laughing with you. He was my friend” Added Max A few of the locals looked over and nodded in respect hearing the sway of the conversation. The feeling in Patrick grew and he looked away from the two mourning fools. “Well” motioned Ed with his glass. “Come on Paddy” Slurred Max “What?” Snarled Partick

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“What do you mean “what”, ain’t you got no respect for the dead” Challenged Ed his shoulders squaring. “Easy Ed” cooled Max sensing the mood change. A few conversation among the gathered drinks staggered and breaths held. “Why do you care” scowled Partick “Why do I care? More like why don’t you care? Fuck sake he helped you out of more scrapes than any of us” bellowed Ed stand up, Patrick Stood and faced him across the wooden table, “You sound just like him, I helped you, you fucked me over, well I’m glad he’s gone” Spat Patrick. The space between their table and that of other the other drinkers was becoming wider. Bodies didn’t move they just melted into the crowd who, on the whole tried to look away. At this Ed sat down mouth open, “I can’t believe you just said that” Max Goggled. “Fucking hell” Exclaimed Ed to himself. Patrick’s stomach hurt and he didn’t know why, he felt his eyes prickling. “Standing over me demanding my help, he, he just couldn’t...” Patrick crumpled to the table and wept in front of his friends, carelessly. The crowd exhaled in unison and became slightly noiser.

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The three friends reaching to each other assuring themselves that it was OK and they understood how the other felt. Finding his voice again he croaked “To John you are my friend” Then Patrick whispered in to his pint of Guinness “where ever you are”

Thieves in the night Sunday 15 of May 2005 1 am Matthews moved through he school liked a fattened rat, the night was dark and thick. He was on an ultimate quest. He had heard two of his worst enemies arguing over a bet. It had been in the common room in front of the other students and many had goaded them on bearing witness. George Peters had challenged Sam Pullets to a bet that he would be the first one to steal the picture form the headmasters office of the headmasters wife. Pullets being a peasant had challenged with a £10, bet Peters being of a better class had offered up £50. Matthews had been almost tempted to challenge them the full £60 of both bets that neither of them could achieve the goal, but he had hesitated. Better that he make tem both

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look fools by taking the prize for himself and so he had sneaking back through the corridors in the frigid silence. His father would be so proud when he explained his trick, then he stopped his trick? Or is it their trick? All those people in the common room, when they’re normally gathering their belongings to for the short weekend at home, that was odd. The picture in his hands suddenly felt heavy and hot, “follow your intuition� his father had always taught him. Now what, put it back? No hide it away... then those to idiots would try and spring their trap (if it was there to be sprung) or if not then he could see them both fail. A place was required far away from the dorms but of easy access he had searched the grounds and buildings extensively. The cellars connected the whole estate, in some cases leading to the old horse stables, tunnels popped up every where but what of the caretaker that lived in there. He was a dullard easily avoided. Slipping through the corridors he entered the large hall the tall windows letting in the star light. He headed to the back of the stage in the assembly hall behind the full length curtains that covered the blank wall he found the secret door and pushing it felt it spring back unlocking. The cellar was darker than the corridors and the long burning furnace growled quietly in the tombs.

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The door was bolted but easily opened, Matthews confidently stepped inside and suddenly felt dizzy. He shook his head and moved across the room towards his hiding hole between the pipes at the back of the room cursing his slippered foot kicked something hard sending what sounded like a peice of wood skating across the floor. He left dizzy again as he detected a noise a groan not from the ancient pipes but defiantly from a creature. Suddenly a flapping ragged sound filled air around him and through thdarkness a ghost whispered tohim. “Matthews is that you? Oh you’ve come to rescue me you clever boy” Then the darkness took shape, two big round eyes behind glasses and a kind smilling mouth of his dead teacher Mr Maddock. The world became light and airy, like the time when he’d sneaked in to the study smoked three of his father cigars and drank half a decanter of Brandy. A clowns smile spread across Matthews face, “Good morning Mr Maddock I was just stealing again sir” “Oh Matthews that’s disappointing you are normally so well behaved” “Yes I know sir, but it’s just a game, I think all the adults here are stupid” “i don’t think that’s very nice, I have to go now but remember that you should be nice to everyone and got to bed it must be very late”.

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Neville Matthews turned and walked out of the cellar and went straight to bed, in the morning the picture of the headmasters wife was clutched to his chest as he lay in bed. The headmaster was called and Mathews left school that day never to return, stress related illness was discussed at length in the next assembly.

Farwell Chapter 25 Monday 16th May 2005 In a different part of Smallwood mourners gathered. Saint Margaret’s Church is traditionally Christian in ever sense of the word. Inside the old impressive stained glass windows threw mixed light across the good sized congregation and war memorials. Patrick O’Connor sat on a hand carved pew four rows down from front. He was shifting uncomfortably in the suit that Kate had bought for him from Topman. The suit fitted perfectly and his well defined body looked good in the black cloth. Shirt black, tie black, shoes black. He hadn’t worn a suit even when he worked as a doorman and felt very contentious. “I feel like a fecking puppeteer, that or I’m trying to impress a judge” He had commented the day before, standing in front of the full length bedroom mirror in Kate’s apartment.

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Kate had told him to be quiet and then and complimented him on how good his body looked in the outfit, especially his ass. Sitting next to Patrick was Kate and behind them Ed and Michelle. Max was next to Michelle minus his cap, his hair swept across in to a ’your mum combed your hair’ side parting. He had come alone, his girlfriend’s exact words had been “I isn’t going to a church for one your friends, why should I? They wouldn’t come to my funeral” So Max sat with a lump in his throat for two reasons. One for the loss of John and the other for the tongue lashing he would get once he had returned home. Ed was dressed in a very sharp suit and was weeping quietly into an Arsenal Football Club handkerchief while Michelle comforted him. The rest of the congregation sat in revered hush. No children had been permitted in the church as was frowned upon by Kathy Maddock, Johns mother and Susan‘s parents. A reporter from the local paper had been loitering around the cemetery gates along with a wiry looking photographer, both respectful enough not to pester the mourners but willing to get a comment or two later. The hearses dually arrived, first one then the other, from a distance the photographer jumped in to action. Sombre gentlemen alight from the hearses and start the process of opening the doors and removing the caskets while the photographer snaps away. The service begins; Susan’s eulogy is beautiful and read out by Susan’s father. He talked about the happiness that she had brought them and how grateful they where of John’s family who’d welcomed them in. How she had been a great lover of the arts and music.

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Then he said that, as was her request, all the money that she had saved would be donated to three very reputable charities to allow her to live on by their good work. There are tears and tissues passed. Susan’s mother tries in vain to read aloud her prepared piece but has to be helped to her seat as she becomes inconsolable. Patrick listens to the words and heard the sobbing around him but in his chest he can feel a flame ignite, hope. John’s still out there and he can change all this. The eulogy finishes and it is followed by the hymn ‘he has the whole world in his hands’. John’s Uncle Henry, a Norfolk man stocky and ruddy faced, stood from a front pew and approaches the altar, he crosses himself and begins John’s eulogy. “Ladies and gentlemen, friends and family thank you for coming today, I’d like to start by saying that as I walked up the path before I entered this church today, and I can say hand on heart, I swear I briefly saw John’s smiling face looking back at me from over the wall of the car park’. I know it was my imagination but it gives me strength to know he’s living in all our hearts. When I think of John I often remember when he was just a small child he’d, help me on my allotment, he had great enthusiasm for the plants and the soil. Nothing was too much for him, he‘d always offer to help. That was John, enthusiastic and always ready to help” Ed roared with tears while Michelle sobbed softly. Kate cried and Max wrung his hands together. Patrick struggled to know what emotion to convey, he definitely couldn’t cry on demand and he didn’t feel upset. John’s eulogy continued,

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“One day while we dug a great big hole for a post, John found some old pottery and he asked me why where people living underground? I explained there weren’t and from there his love of history started” As the eulogy persisted Patrick could feel a sense of panic rising within him. He wanted to stand on his pew and shout. “Yeah you bunch of hypocrites you feel sorry for him now, but how well did you know him? Not as well as me that’s how much” But he didn’t, he remained seated and tried to stop the smile from growing at the corners of his mouth.

Kate turned and looked at him and with tears in her eyes whispered, “What’s up with you?” “Nothing” He mouthed “Why are you smiling?” “I’m not” Then a giggle happened and he coughed over it “Did you just laugh?” Hissed Kate. “No” That was followed by a snigger. “What’s wrong with you?” Said Kate through gritted teeth.

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Patrick tried hard to control his emotions and realized that the overriding feeling was relief. His friend wasn’t dead, John was fit and well and about to walk in to Anbury museum, in fact he’s better than well he’s god dam invincible. He chuckled again and people turned, Johns Uncle was relating a story about how John had always been academically gifted, he tried hard to ignore the disturbance and continued. Patrick put his head in his hands and tried to cover his chuckles “He’s not dead” he said quietly once his laughter had died down. “Your making a fool of yourself people are looking” whispered Kate, aware of the eyes on her and Patrick. “Yeah. Patrick man shut up. Show some respect” Added Ed. Leaning forward from his pew. Patrick found himself in that difficult predicament, his conscious brain bellows NO but the defiant child like subconscious screams, YES, YES, YES. John wouldn’t have to be buried, Patrick could walk up to him tomorrow and shake his hand, slap him on the shoulder and offer him a pint. The joke was on these poor sods and it was hilarious. Patrick started laughing uncontrollably. John’s uncle stopped reading and coughed ‘Ahem’ loudly to try and regain attention but the church rang with Patrick’s laughter. Out side the reporter and photographer heard the noise, looked at each other and in Wild West fashion produced pen, pad, Dictaphone, flash and camera. They raced across the grave yard to the doors of the church.

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Inside things weren’t very sombre. “Now son don’t cause a scene” Threatened Patrick’s Uncle from behind the podium. “What do you mean you great eejit” Patrick had fallen off his pew and managed to stand in the isle laughing. “Will you please leave” John’s mother had stood up, turned on him from the front pew and red faced, shouting tears turning in to anger. “Oh, I’ll go but John’s not dead, oh no he’s very alive. Not like your man over there would say ’living in all our hearts’ and digging fecking holes, but walking around breathing the air. All you’ve got in there is a corpse not John, not his spirit.” Kate grabbed his hand and violently pulled him down to her. Bent over Patrick was face to face with her. “Shut up and get out” She said with resentment building in her eyes. “Listen to me. This was the thing you’re not supposed to know. Remember in the apartment? Two Johns, that’s the secret” he chuckled. “What!” She blinked her expression changing as quickly as a slap. “The mystery man, the secret is John, he’s travelled through time or something and he’s going to make everything O.K again. Come on I’ll show you” He whispered to her with mischievous eyes, he reversed Kate’s grip and grabbed her hand.

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“What! Wait” Kate looked at the congregation and faces where angry, unamused and building in to a generally seething crowd. “Young man, young Lady. Get out of this church now” Screeched John’s mother. “I think you better come with me” said Patrick and Kate quickly agreed. They trotted down the isle and just before they left. Patrick turned and faced the angry assembly. “Your mystery man, the bloke in the papers. There’s your proof. That’s John Maddock not that box of bones, I know you won’t believe me but I spoke to him and he can change all this” Patrick felt the relief of exposing the secret that had for days kept him from sleeping. Out side the church doors the reporter snapped open his mobile phone and said, “Boss this is important, wait till you hear this” then he played his Dictaphone in to the mouth piece. Patrick’s words clearly recited. Patrick burst through the church doors with Kate trailing in hand and knocked over the two men from the newspaper. The fleeing duo charged for Kate’s car. The alarm was going off and it made her stop for a second and gave the vehicle a hasty once over. “Where are we going Patrick?” Kate asked breathlessly “I need to tell you everything but we can’t do it here” he nodded at the press men.

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They jumped in and drove away. They where followed from a safe distance. The congregation settled down and the eulogy continued without further disturbance. Later it was decided, on mass, that the death of Patrick’s close friend had turned the poor man momentarily insane. Later as they left grave side Ed apologized to John’s mother for the outburst in the church, she simply said. “Grief does strange things to people” The Newspaper reporter and photographer waited in a beaten up Vauxhall Astra out side Katie’s apartment block. “This could be a massive story” Said the reporter. “Yeah, Pulitzer prize stuff” Agreed the Photographer The reporter’s phone rang. The reporter answered it instinctively, “Yeah, we followed them, both of them the Irish guy and the cute bird with the big knockers. They’ve gone in to the apartment building on the Southside. No, nothing except for her car alarm going off it’s still going off now blood thing. Yeah our engines running. Don’t worry I won’t, yep.” He snapped the phone closed. “Was that the boss?” The photographer asked. “No it was the queen of bloody Sheba. Just take the photos David Bailey” Sneered the reporter.

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They sat in silence, smoked and waited.

One Giant Leap Chapter 22 Monday 16th May 2005 In the interim John had come to the end of another long journey. After gorging myself in the canteen in secret, I had got to Anbury, however, the Bus ride had been eventful. I had decided to walk to the outskirts of Smallwood, assuming it would help me avoid being noticed or causing a scene in the centre of town, which could have drawn police attention. I’d tried to flag down a bus but it sailed past. It was then it dawned on me, the bus driver hadn’t seen me, couldn’t see me and none of the following 6 bus drivers did either. I was about to give up and walk back in to town when a little old lady walked along the road, waited at the bus stop and raised a hand, the bus stopped. She stepped on and I had to leap through the double doors as they where closing the commotion nearly gave the bus driver and the old woman a heart attack.

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Looking up from under my hooded top I stared at the glass front of the museum. The evening skies colours reflected in the glass. Back again outside the Anbury museum, the sceptre hummed in my pocket. Due to the wait for the bus I had got to the museum much later than I had hoped. I stood on the first step of the museum and felt a surge of adrenaline course through me. “Do or Die time” I whispered to the air. I ascend the steps and cautiously stand in front of the electric doors. Deep breath, and step forward, doors open and I’m through. I search the empty reception with my eyes, just as before on either side of the main desk there are two large Egyptian statues each about 18 feet tall, dog headed Anubis and Horus, they almost smiled. Seeing them again felt utterly reassuring. “Good to see you boys” I allow a smile for the first time in a long while. I begin to feel confident and step forward in to the Museum. “Good too see yourself yah great bollix” A voice from behind me. I’m over come by fear and relief at the same. My smile just gets bigger. “Patrick you old bugger what…” I turn around and stop mid sentence. Looking back at me is Patrick O’Connor and Katie Crabtree. …the hell is she doing here?” I finish. Katie’s mouth is hanging open. She’s pale, sort of sick green colour and won’t stop blinking.

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“I thought I’d come to claim back my jacket. When I got back to the apartment I was in a bad mood and I’m sorry, it’s good to see you again” Patrick O’Connor smiled offering me a handshake that I fail to register. “Forget that why is she here, I mean she doesn’t know and you shouldn’t have. I mean no offence Kate, but this is a very delicate situation and to bring you in to it appears to be a little” I’m failing to find the words to politely point out that this is all outright WRONG. Patrick interrupts my polite British babble. “Look, I had a bit of a funny turn at your funeral and I needed to bring Katie along otherwise she was going to finish with me and between you and me I’ve quite fallen for the girl” He finished leaning in to me in a whisper. Which was pointless as Katie was agog at me. She kept mouthing words that made no sense. Suddenly Patrick’s words sink in. “Oh no, what sort of funny turn?” I feel my legs crumble and grab his shoulder. “Well the thing is, I let the whole secret thing slip” His eyes staring at the floor. “Too who?” I’m holding both of his shoulders at this point begging him to say one or two. “Sort of everyone” He pulled his sorry face. Katie nodded quickly. I’ve stopped looking at them, I’m looking over his shoulder through the big glass doors behind them at the thin man with the professional camera and zoom lens. Next to him is a

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bigger man in a tan overcoat with a Dictaphone. The camera flash is going off again and again. “You’ve brought the local press with you, you stupid Irish prick” I scream and start to run. Patrick looked at me puzzled “What are you talking about?” but he’s too late the doors open behind him and he and Katie are knocked in to a heap on the floor. “Glad to return the bloody favour” I hear the London twang of one of the pressmen. As I turn the corner in the corridor I hear the beginnings of a fist fight. The slap of flesh on flesh Patrick’s saving my arse at last. Suddenly Katie’s next to me as I’m running, “Patrick’s handling the situation. We have to hurry the woman on reception has called the police” She pants as we speed pass the Indian canoes. “What are you doing?” I wheeze, our shoes beating on the concrete floor. “Patrick said to stick with you in case anything happens” “Ok, but it’s up too you” I pant “Patrick explained everything, he sounded crazy. You are going to save Susan aren’t you?” “Absolutely” I grit my jaw and furrow my brow. Get out my way world I’m coming home.

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We reach the Egyptian Exhibit and the door ahead clearly states ‘NO ACCESS’. On cue the troop of curators appears and makes their way though to their staff room. I duck and Katie follows as they pass. We creep on haunches over to the door I pray it’s not locked. “What’s in there?” Katie’s still staring at me. “I’ll show you, Come on” Pulling the door open I squint in the bright light. The several yellow, construction style standard lamps, stand about the hall illuminating it while the exhibit is built and finished off. The same as it had been in what seamed so long ago. “Over there” I hiss. We continue creeping through packing boxes, straw and bubble rap. Once again standing on its black base, the huge ‘Loadstone’ shining like it was wet to the touch. I knew that it would have to be destroyed next time round too much power but all the history recorded on its surface. The stone was taunting me, I was terrified of it and jet unable to resist the power it had. My mix of emotions almost stunned me to silence. Had it been that long ago? A week ago I put the sceptre into the hole at the centre of the triangular stone and everything had gone terribly wrong, now I had to put it right. Fear spread outwards from my belly. Next to me Katie pouted, looking slightly confused, “So which piece of the puzzle is this? It’s beautiful” She stroked the stone. I pointed at the other empty part of the exhibition stand, “That display stand with three empty groves is where this should go” I produced the sceptre.

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“What happens then?” She frowned at the sceptre. Her hand moved absentmindedly along the stone toward the hole, I quickly grab it. “That’s a good question. Last time I ended up a week back in time and killed two people, started a media circus and nearly got arrested twice” I crouched down in front of the stone. “Patrick said you thought that if you go back again you could correct everything” I nodded. The cartouches look to be different in some way I traced a line of them across the surface with my finger. I had forgotten about the warmth the stone gave of. “What are you thinking?” She asked. “I put this end in here and….” I put the sceptre in the hole by about a centimetre. Katie jumped. “Wait, last time you killed Susan and yourself. The risk is too big what if you die this time” “The risk is worth it, look do you want me to save her or not?” I snarl suddenly very angry. How dare she judge me and my situation? I notice a blue spark in the hole connect with the sceptre. Katie grabbed my arm pulling my hand and sceptre back. Her voice came in nervous gulps, “Of course but she’s gone you have to let it go John. You have to move on with your life, I can’t let Patrick loose you all over again” She let go.

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“My life has gone, I’m on the run from the police, my wife is dead and you think that I can correct all that by staying here?” She looked defeated momentarily but wouldn’t give up. “We can explain” She argued. In that one brief second my mind escaped, I felt the relief of not being part of this. I would be able to move on, my friends would adjust all of a sudden I thought of her parents and I realized “What do you think it’ll do to her parents and my Mother?” I countered finally. The conversation was over and she tried but found no ground. “John I just …I .” she never finishes the sentence. Abruptly the door burst open at the far end on the chamber. “Police, Nobody move” There’s a rush of shadows and people moving with speed across the room behind me. Katie looks at me. “Bye Kate” I push the sceptre in to the hole brace myself and…. nothing happens. Katie looks at me and I look at her. Her beautiful eyes grow large as she realizes it hasn’t worked. “Madam raise your hands slowly” She does as she’s told. She never takes her eyes of me.

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“Please save Susan” Her eyes moisten around the edges and a single tear rolls down one cheek. What did I do last time? Then I hear a click and a northern voice of the Pc Young the bulldog police officer who had pursued me through the alley. “You again? No where to run this time. Put your hands above your head and then stand up slowly” Gripping the head of the sceptre tightly I pull it back toward myself as hard as I can. “Who wants to run?” I said quietly. Boom. I’m air born, sailing across the room, different pain this time a wash of electric pulses. I crash down as before and scramble to my feet. No nose bleed, I look around the atmosphere is extraordinary, the air is thick and it’s like being in a blizzard without the deafening wind. The world is gritty sea, the grains of time, the very building blocks of reality, people moving through it like characters in a story, enter stage left, exit stage right. The police are running back out the door. Katie’s’ talking to a figure that looks like me. I calmly walk over to them but they’re kind of blurry and moving fast. I watch as heme puts the sceptre back in my-his pocket. I remember the one I have in my hand and do the same. Time for action, I’ve got to leave. I jog out the door and down the corridor. Patrick’s in a reverse fist fight with the press men. First the thin photographer slides backwards across the floor, squeaking as he moves towards Patrick and then leaps off the floor via an unseen force. His face grimacing as his jaw lands on Patrick’s fist, the pressman stands up. Patrick then crouches down in a reverse upper cut. As a fist flies backwards over his

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ducked head, standing he reaches out his arm and in the far corner of the hall a camera leaps up in pieces reassembles it self and flies into his hand and he puts it back in the hands of the shocked but healthier looking camera man. Next the reporter appears from a wrecked display the figure staggers across the floor and I notice behind the reception desk that Colin is hiding almost expertly from the carnage. The unconscious reporter stands up right like a scene from a horror film Patrick greets him with fist in the chest and then grabs him by his collar and firmly removes a nasty head butt from his face. I will never forget the moment I witnessed the brutal ballet. I sprint down the stairs and spot Katie’s car. An idea crawls in to my head. By the time I’ve got to the car Patrick and Katie are standing at it having some kind of backward heated argument. I open the back of the car door, hop onto the seat and shut the door within seconds the car stops and we are in Smallwood. They leave the car I move across the back seat to open the door but there’s a terrible screeching sound. I try the door to get out, but before I can escape their back in the car again. This could go awfully wrong if someone tries to sit on me, I don’t know what could happen. I’ve got to get out. The car stops and I waste no time and tumble out of the door. I hit the ground hard and try and get my bearings. Looking up I can see an old stone wall. The grainy sand storm is making everything a mist of blurs, I grab the wall and stand looking over it. I stare and focus slowly I can make out grass, tomb stones, a spire, and a church. I attended a christening at this church I recognise it as St Margarets. Suddenly two white coffins appear to float through the air, either side of them a blur of black suited men walking backwards, they slide the coffins in to the back of two waiting hearses and drive off at

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speed. I’m at my Susans funeral! Then a crowd of blurry people zoom out of the church and I push myself up against the wall as the car park I’m stood in empties. The world around me is flashing light and dark as day spins and crashes in to night. I walk carefully out of the car park and along the pavement around the Church the noises around me blending into a dull hum. Its happening, it’s really happening I’m going back. I leap in air there’s a small popping noise and something hard slams in to my back sends me flying against a metal bench and then black.

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Paradox Chapter 23 Monday 16th May 2005 Back in Anbury Museum Katie Crabtree watches as John begins to shake and glow, one of the packing crates explodes at the back of the room. She can barely look at him and covers her eyes there’s a brilliant flash of yellow light. Everyone in the room tries to shield there eyes. Searing light fills the room and John disappears out of their reality. The almost atomic dazzling light causes Katie to see the bones in her hands through her closed eyelids, later she compared it to being a living x-ray. There was no noise except a dull and disappointing pop. PC Young’s who now has an incredibly dark tan is looking around him, Katie’s similarly tanned and crying. PC Bamberg, who didn’t close his eyes in time, is staggering around at the back of the hall screaming “my eyes, I can’t see”. Patrick sprints in the room behind the PC Bamberg who is blindly grasping for his crackling shoulder radio. Patrick casually runs over to him, yanks the radio from the shoulder holster and throws it hard across the room, where it explodes against a stone

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bust. Scanning the room for John and Katie, he spots the other officer. Taking the advantage he darts over, like a gazelle steps up on to a box, leaps through the air and delivers a lighting quick elbow strike across the face of the temporarily stunned PC Young who crumples into unconsciousness. “Kate you’re alright?” He says holding her, the adrenalin from the fight with the now injured journalists still coursing through him. “I can’t see you very well. It’s all blobs of light, what was that noise” She tries to focus through the kaleidoscope of colours. Patrick looks at the heap that was a police officer, “Nothing important. Where’s John?” Pants Patrick. “Poof” Kate rubbed her eyes and pointed to the loadstone Patrick could see it had strange pulsing markings on it. He watched amazed as the glowing faded. “This is the Police, young lady stand perfectly still and keep talking so that I can locate and arrest you properly” PC Neville Bamberg whined although blind his stupidity relentless as he tries to complete his duties to the crown & country. “Ignore blind old Mr Magoo over there. We got to go” He turns to leave. Past criminal experience has taught him well and he knows that the 5 minute window of escape is nearly closed. “I feel sick Patrick” Says Kate sitting on a packing box near the load stone. Patrick’s fox like instincts are alerted, more people are coming towards the room. Then he hears

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“Stand down PC Bamberg” the whisper reverberated around the chamber. “Get up now, we've got to go” Patrick pulls Kate’s hand.

She blinks and rubs her eyes as she tries for the seventh time, to focus. The light is low and she can see clearly again. She immediately squeals and her face a mask of horror, the first thing she witnesses, as her eyesight returns, is the bloodied looming figure of PC Young rising behind Patrick baton in raised ready to strike. She moved back and fell off the case, dragging Patrick forward, he narrowly escapes the crushing strength of the descending baton, wielded by an incensed and bleeding PC Young. Katie and Patrick tumble to relative safety, the box beneath them opens and spills it’s contents, Patrick grabs the first thing he touches to use as a weapon. His hand falls on something hard, cold and grasping it, he finds it’s heavy. Without looking he swings wildly while turning around. The ancient Egyptian Sceptre, a relation of Johns, connects with PC Young’s Jaw. Its diamonds tear the skin and the combined force and weight of the gold makes the bone beneath the skin of his jaw break cleanly, causing searing pain to scream throughout PC Young’s head, he falls backward shattering an open crate. It’s not the first time the sceptre has been used as weapon. Patrick’s world move in an adrenaline soaked, slow motion and he watches Kate being dragged backwards by a third police officer, realising there are many more officers in the room charging toward him. He looks at the weapon in his fist and almost drops it through

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shock when he recognizes that he’s holding another gold sceptre just like the one John had shown him. The police officers are advancing quickly Patrick weighs up his odds and realised they where bad, very bad. John had told him what had happen, the image of Kate saying ‘Poof’ passed through his mind, no other way out. He looked at the sceptre and then over his shoulder at the loadstone and makes his choice, survival. “Kate cover your eyes” He shouts. Katie was suddenly aware of his decision. Although captive she struggled against the officer holding her and shouted, “No, Patrick don’t do it” Standing, facing a police officer he watches as the police officer leaps at him, claw like hands, flaring nostrils, jaws open. Patrick swings his hand backwards and by chance the sceptre connected with the hole, Click. Patrick twinkled and became an iridescent plume, he disappear. The police officer lost his sight and crashed head first in to the load stone, knocking it back off its perch and through the plate of glass behind it. Patrick’s unseen screaming body was propelled forward into black space. The last thing Katie ever saw or heard of Patrick O’Connor was a yellow supernova of light and his final words ‘Feck me’.

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Holy saviour Chapter 24 Unknown The sceptre in my hand connects with hole and there’s a click. I feel it pull. The police officer is inches away from me and he stops still in the air, mid leap. Kate is furiously frozen trying to pull away from another police man. Silence then pain up my arm spreading across my body. The Museum disappears, all I can see is black and for a split second I have the worrying thought that John got the whole time travel thing wrong and I’m falling into the bowels of hell for all my sins. “Feeeeeeck” I’m sailing off my feet, I still can’t see. Tiny ripping explosions go off all over my body and my skin feels tight like a blanket squeezing every last bit of air out of me. Wood explodes and fractures all around me. I’m still falling but I can see the rooms changed its bigger and I’m falling across the room from the ceiling I smash into the opposite wall and more wood explodes. My right shoulder cracks and I tumble through the darkness and land in a heap. I can hardly breathe but I stand quickly. “Thank you Mary mother of god” I whisper.

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It’s dark around me and all I can see is neatly stacked two meter square wooden packing boxes on huge shelves. They stretch up seven rows and about 14 metres into the roof. I’m in a dead end I stagger 10 meters. I step on something and my foot rolls from under me and I’m on the floor again, looking round I see a gold glow. I crawl over and find the sceptre. The thing hums in my hands I look at it briefly and put it in my pocket. I stand walk carefully along the corridor and stick my head around the corner. Where the hell am I? Either way I look, more packing boxes same height, they run along the floor of what I can only see to be a warehouse. A big warehouse, “OOOHOOH” A noise rushes past me and blurry image. Oh god it’s haunted. I look round for the quickest route of escape. I turn to the left and sprint as fast as I can. Another sprit at the far end of the dark corridor is rushing towards me, it’s moving all wrong, jolting and flitting. I close my eyes and it brushes past me with a terrible, “SSSAAAALLLLL” Oh god in heaven save me. I don’t want to open my eyes in case its there hovering above me. I repent for all the sin I’ve ever done. I carry on running after a few minutes I’m brave enough to open my eyes. I get to the end of the long corridor stop and peer around the corner. I can see a room at one end with a big strobe light next to it. It’s clear so I run to the room but before I get half way I can hear strange noises again,

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“BBBZZZZ,aaaaasssshhhhNNNNNNhaaaaa” I turn round there’s swarms of faces everywhere, all around me shoving and bumping into me. Then the packing boxes are flying past me, their trying to kill, me evil spirits trying to kill me, where the hell am’ I?

I run for the door and realise that the strobe light is another door next to the room which must lead to the outside, I consider trying it but its opening and closing at such a phenomenal speed that I would never get through. In the room there are plastic chairs and tables. The tables and chairs start moving and disappear, different chairs appear, older ones. I can smell cigarette smoke, the rooms still full of blur. I cower in the corner the faces are still rushing around, my nose is bleeding. The lights start flickering, there’s a repeated banging noise and a high pitch whine followed by a dull pop. “Patrick, Get up” His voice again. “John, John is that you?” I look up and it is. He’s wearing different clothes. I’m cowering in a ball next to a drinks machine in a room full of tables, chairs and vending machines standing up I ask, “My god you look like crap. Where are we?” John’s walking around the room quickly looking at magazines and newspapers. He picks up a newspaper

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“’The Daily Post’ a Scottish newspaper, it’s on these tables and this is a TV guide is for the week starting Saturday 11th May too Friday the 17th May 2002” he throws the guide on to the table knocking over a pot of salt. “What does that mean? What’s happened to Katie?” I wipe the blood away from my nose. He answers with a touch of wildness in his voice. “It means I’ve had to follow you back here and after I’m through with you I have to wait three whole years until I can go home” He’s digging through his pockets. “What are you talking about?” “Take a seat” He pulls a chair out for me and sits on the opposite side of the table. A man walks in wearing a blue overall and starts using the vending machine, “Patrick, concentrate. He can’t see or hear us unless he touches us and if he does I’ll ask him politely to sling his hook” He’s serious, different, harder some how. “Where are we?” I feel as though he’s distancing himself from me. “In Scotland in the year 2002” His eyes are tiny. Looking at him he’s dressed like a bomb has gone off. “Where’s your glasses” “It’s a long story” He looks away.

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“Well we’ve got three years” I smile trying to lighten the mood. He put s his hands on the table. “We have?” He’s rolling the words around his mouth like he is entertaining me. “At Katie’s, you make this speech about interacting with other people’s realities or something. That’s what’s happened hasn’t it?” “Yes, although for me I have been through it a few more times” He’s looking me up and down. His hand is right flat on the table surface but there’s something underneath it. He draws himself up as though the next question is heavy and hard to ask. “I have a question. What is it that you do, your job?” “I’m on the dole, although I do a bit of door work, you know all this why?” “Delivered any messages?” How could he know about that? In my time in Ireland I did some muscle work for a few of Belfast’s money lenders. “Sometimes I do a bit of….Err freelance enforcement yeah. Why” I’m getting twitchy. I can tell that he’s going on about something dark. He’s nodding and looking too serious. “You wouldn’t ever hurt a friend though would you?” John’s talking through his teeth. I’ve had enough ‘cat and mouse’ bollocks and start to loose my temper.

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“What the feck are you talking about John? You’re beginning to irritate the hell out of me” I start to get up. “Don’t do that” John snarls. I look back and his eyes are cool but his body is completely firm and ready to go. I’m angry.

Meddling Action Chapter 25 Saturday 14th May 2005 Somewhere very different John is coming round. I try to move my hand and find I can’t, in fact I can’t move my arms or legs. Oh no I'm paralysed or dead. I open my eyes, the world isn’t flashing black and white any more there’s a single plastic light fitting making me squint on a ceiling of white plastic and I’m rocking like I’m in a vehicle? A woman comes into my vision and shines a light into my eyes, “Hello, can you tell me your name” “John Maddock” I croak.

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“Ok, John your in an ambulance, you had a nasty bump and we are taking you to Smallwood hospital” “Uh Hum” I grunt. This delay could jeopardise everything but I’m surprised to find I’m not concerned. “Do you feel any pain?” she’s scribbling on a clipboard. “No, pain. I need to get out of here” She ignores me, offers me a plastic smile and nods. The motion decreases as the ambulance stops. The rear doors opened and light floods in. I’m moving and above me I can see as clouds and blue sky. Through doors, my view changes to more white ceilings. My trolley is wheeled through a noisy area but I can’t see anyone properly A male doctor and a female nurse appear, their wearing operating scrubs and face masks “Now nurse, what have we got here then” The doctor asks in an Indian accent. “A Mr Maddock hang on this doesn’t make any sense the ambulance report is….” I can see one side of her face and she looks perplexed. The doctor lets out an aggravated sigh and snatches the clipboard off her. “Let me see that. R.T.A, sever trauma to the abdomen, Head injuries and massive blood loss” He reads of the report and moves my clothes around with his free hand. “There are no wounds on this man” The doctor cries, the nurse looks angrily at me

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“Why are people wasting my time with this nonsense? Get him out of the crash room, on to a ward and check for neck injuries and reflexes, Next” Shouts the Doctor. His voice fades as the trolley is whisked along. Later I’m in a hospital bed with my head spinning. I had undressed but instead of taking off the hoody and Patrick’s old jacket. I had removed my tweed blazer and my slacks, They had been more or less destroyed in the fire and I’d left them with Patrick but some how the space time continuum needed those items back and so my clothes are returned to me undamaged. My watch still does the pendulum motion. My mobile phone has a weak signal but doesn’t work. I had pulled the partition curtains around me and stayed hidden. I’m sitting here and I know I’ve got to make sure Susans OK but I feel drunk. I guess that my brains reprogramming and it hurts, I can almost feel bits of information disappearing a sensation not to dissimilar to someone pulling barbed wire through my head. The curtains open, in walks a leathery doctor. He looked around my bed and squinted at me and then jumped, I know entering someone’s timeline is serious but sometimes it can be funny. “Hello my name is Doctor Halifax and I’m here to give you once over to see if you’re fit to leave” He said coughing and fiddling with his tie. “I feel fine Doctor” I offer. He lifts up my chart at the end of the bed and makes two humming noises and one aha noise.

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“I heard about this, I mean you. So has anyone told you what happened to you?” He was tapping his right index figure on his chin. He reminded me of the TV detective Clumbo. “No, just a bump” I shrug. He moves around the bed looking inquisitively at my head. “Your bump was a rather messy R.T.A. You where hit by a car as it tried to park on the curb, your tummy bounced of the wing mirror and you head butted the corner of a metal bench, a bit of a mess as you can imagine” He pointed to his various parts of his body to illustrate his point. He moved towards me and placed his hands carefully around my neck and felt along my neck checking vertebra. “Nothing wrong their Mr Maddock, Do you have feel any pain or discomfort” his eyes where searching me like I was a mystery “No. I’m fine like I said” My headache had gone and I was starting to get anxious. “You’re a miracle and one of the stranger cases Mr Maddock” “If you only knew the half of it doctor” I moan “Just one last test” smiled the Doctor. Doctor took a light pen from his top pocket and shone it into my eyes.

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My world turns white and all I have was peripheral vision. Suddenly the cubicle is filled with people, faces, some old, some young, black, white, people in suits, people in medieval dress, and some in Egyptian costume. “What the hell” I shouted try to get up. The doctor leaps. With the light out of my eyes, the people disappear as quickly as they had appeared “What’s the matter?” asks the agitated Doctor “There where people in here” “People! How many people?” He’s looking around and coolness enters his eyes. “Lots” I reply. What the hell is this new thing, seeing ghosts! The doctor looks concerned and asks, very calmly and quietly, “Are they still here?” Realising his behaviour and the format of question I sigh and answered. “No, No doctor they are no longer here, it must have been the light in my eyes” The doctor outwardly relaxed his stance, “It appears you may have concussion but we will have to x-ray your skull for fractures, is there any one we can call for you”

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“No” I respond flatly “O.K a nurse will make you comfortable and I will see you in a short while” The doctor leaves through the curtains. I climb out of bed and put my clothes back on. My jackets fine, trousers scuffed, shirts a bit of a mess but with the buttons of my jacket done up you can’t see any blood. I don’t bother discharging myself and leave the hospital hugging the walls, so I don’t bump into anyone. Before leaving I pass the hospital shop full of sympathy teddies and chocolates. I grab a paper off the stand in the reception and check the date Saturday 14th May 2005. This means I haven’t gone back far enough I’ll have to wait another two days and go back again. What the hell was going on now? Why hadn’t it worked? I tried to reason. The sceptre maybe that was it, I brought it back with me from last time maybe it was losing power. It vibrated in my pocket as if it where listening to me. Suddenly snapping me out of my thoughts my mobile phone buzzes and then rings. I answer the call and head outside the hospital avoiding the patients and staff alike. “You alright mate?” It’s Patrick. I let out a long sigh and go to answer but another voice speaks first “Yep. Just got off the phone from my mother I’ve got to go to her house for Sunday lunch tomorrow” It’s him-me on the other phone I’m having a three way phone call with Patrick and myself from this timeline, but that means no fire, no death, Susans alive, my heart thumps in my chest and I feel tears in my eyes. I stay quiet and listen.

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“Nothing like the Taste of you own Ma’s cooking. That’s what I say” Patrick drools “You would say that” He-I laughs. “So you still up for tonight?” “Too right” I can hear enthusiasm in my-his voice. Tonight? Saturday? Then I remember the pub, the drunkenness and the mugger “Greenman 8pm” Confirms Patrick. “See you then” the call ends. I realise I have a duplicate of the other mobile phone and this one also works. My heart beat increases when I remember the mugging. I can taste my anger. One thing is for sure that while I can’t be hurt I’m going to find the man that mugged me, kick seven bells out of him and to hell with the consequences. I look up at the clock above the entrance of the Hospital 5.12pm. That’s enough time to get to the pub and watch out for the mugger. The crowd will keep me covered and I won’t get noticed if I don’t make contact with anyone. Susan she must be alive, I had to see her, I run over to the bus stop people pile in, hands full of carrier bags and children in pushchairs I jostle among the crowd and avoid the bus driver. I travel for free as a free man.

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Vendetta Chapter 26 Saturday 14th May 2005 I’m excited now, me, John Maddock travelling on a bus from the hospital, I never knew it could feel so good. I had sat next to a coloured lady who chatted to me about her children and I said things like ‘we’re hoping for children one day’ and ‘isn’t that nice’. I got off the bus near the park and wandered through it. Then I had remembered something so amazing that I had jogged across the park and sat on a bench near the basket ball courts. Waiting and hoping that my mind isn’t too confused. I remember the events of this day a week ago or is it two weeks ago. I look down the sloping path and about 200 yards away Susan rounds the lake. She’s wearing a white blouse, tan jacket and a purple gypsy full length skirt. The sun looks warm in her hair, she has creamy glowing skin and bright eyes. She’s whistling a tune that I can’t quite hear and watching the ducks on the lake. I want desperately to run over to her, snatch her up in my arms and squeeze her, kiss her

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and hold her. I can’t understand how I let someone so beautiful get so horribly killed. I can’t touch her and yet there she is. I’m crying softly, my god I love my wife. She’s returning from the library happily swinging a blue macramé bag with books in, I remember her showing them to me later that day. The library is a long walk but she insists on making the trip every other Saturday. She passes about 50 yards in front of me and then stops. She starts to look as though she’s sniffing the air or she can hear a distant voice shouting her name. She turns and looks directly at me and smiles. She can’t see me oh god I’ll mess every thing up again. I stand and walk off at speed, wiping my face with my sleeve. Turning back I can see she wasn’t looking at me she was looking at Katie Crabtree who’s wearing a pink tracksuit and listening to headphones. They met at the bench and start chatting. Time to make my way to the Greenman Pub, I make goodtime and watch him-me arrive, I make a mental note to improve my wardrobe. I wait outside for half an hour before walking in and I almost bump in to Ken the landlord straight away. I move like a shadow, sample a few people’s drinks and mange to pinch some food off the plates that have been left unfinished in the restaurant. Ken had introduced an economy style, cheap two for one eatery that was never going to be considered fine dining so the avoiding the waitresses wasn’t a problem. I drift around the room avoiding the growing crowd and drunken rabble, scanning the crowd for someone suspicious. It’s getting more and more crowded, a young girl in front of me

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steps backwards and I do likewise and bump in to someone behind me. I turn round and, Oh god, it’s Max. He looks at me. “Max, take that stupid hat off” Shouts Ken the landlord. I never knew that Ken spoke to anyone like that especially Max. He nods and blushes taking of his cap “You shouldn’t let him push around. You spend enough in here” I say, I’ve got shut up and get away. “I thought you was outside” Max frowns, my mouth has run away with itself, I’d obviously had too much to drink and I’m being far too confident, I would have to improvise and decide to pull the drunken trick and need to ask for something unusual. “Just going for a pish. Can you make mine a triple vodka coke?” I roll my eyes and grin stupidly. “You sure? That’s four quid. I aren’t made of money” Grumbles Max “Don’t tell the guys. Here’s a fiver” I put my finger to my lips and dig around in my pockets for some money. I find a five pound note and hand it to him. I try and look like I’m staggering off into the crowd without touching anyone. I head to the toilets to see if I can hide in the cubicles until closing. I step through the door and standing with his back to me is me-him swaying and urinating. Before I decide to leave I can hear an Irish voice singing Money for nothing by Status Quo. Status Quo

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happens to be Patrick’s favourite band. Realising I’m trapped I grab a cubicle door and slam it loudly someone swears. I can hear him-me chatting drunkenly with Patrick and listen in, I remember the conversation and it’s like listening a teenage version of my former self. I chuckle at the slurred words and wait until they leave. I head out the front door avoiding the danger of the beer garden. I can hear my own drunken laughter ringing out it to the night and I cringe.

I watch as he-me staggers across the road and spends a lot of time gripping stationary objects to stop him-me from falling over. It’s like a horrible alcohol awareness TV advert. I’m just about to follow him when somebody bumps into me and a hand slaps me on the back and a familiar voice says “Oy Oy” Ed’s beaming face wobbles into view “How are you?” I grin trying to keep one eye on me-him. “What do you mean? How are you? I’m brilliant. Are you alright to walk home on your own? I mean you’re pretty trashed. S’O.K I can text me bird and tell her I’m going to be a bit late” He drunkenly tries find his mobile. “No, you go and see Michelle” I shake his arm off my shoulders.

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“As long as you’re sure, because I love you man. I don’t want anything happening to my best friend” He’s trying to put his phone back in to his pocket. “I’m sure” I nearly shout. “OK, OK, so touchy” picking up on my reaction he raised his hands innocently. “Sorry mate must be the drink. I’ll see you later” I make to leave his company “Not if I see you first” He laughs and walks in the other direction. That was close, now where did I-he go? I jog along the road and into the park it’s difficult to know where I-he went because I was so drunk I can hardly remember. I look around in the gloom, desperately trying to remember. I know where the mugger attacked because that’s where I woke up. I head towards the foot ball pitch and narrowly avoid Patrick kissing a woman under a street lamp. I can tell straight away that it isn’t Katie Crabtree, he’ll never learn. Last time I saw Patrick he was telling me that he’s in love with Katie. Maybe that was a space-time fluctuation, two dimensions, one with a faithful Patrick and one with a bed hoping Patrick. I turn a corner, the long grass on either side is dewy and I can hear the stream babbling to my left. In some way up in front I can see two figures struggling one falls to the ground the other is leaning over the toppled figure which I know is me.

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Anger fires in my brain, adrenaline pumps and muscles prepare themselves. Time to enjoy a fight for a change. “Oy leave me-him alone” I shout spit coming with my words my walk turning into a run. The other figure rises, the light’s behind him, I can’t see details just a figure, with my head down I charge. I hit the attacker square in the stomach and lift the figure of its feet. We’re tumbling across the ground, he’s up first and kicks me in the face hard, my glasses brake and fall to the ground, but I can take it. He can’t hurt me now, I’m up and swinging we exchange blow after blow, it feels like forever. The rain starts to spit down out of the sky. My fists connect again and again with his rain slick skin we exchange blow for blow, dodging the harshest of my attacks. He’s fast and I find the world spinning and fall to one knee but I’m not giving up, his fist comes in quick and I step back and stand up. My face hurts but I work through it. I hit him twice in the face as quick as I can the second fist hits hard and there’s a crunch, he staggers to one side, I bring foot up into his groin, he whines and doubles over. In the dark I see the flash of a silver object. I think knife! And back away. He swings at me and I lean out of his way then in towards him punch as his throat as hard as I can. He gags and crumples slightly. I take a chance and seize him putting him in a tight choke hold. His arm goes limp and drops the knife. “You’re making a mistake” his voice rasping like dirty gravel. “You mugged me, you made the mistake” I tighten my grip. He shifts his weight, reaches behind, grabs my collar and he slides on the sodden grass turning it to mud and we move

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together. I tumble over his back landing hard and prone on the floor. He stands ominously and his hand goes to his throat, his foot comes down hard on my neck pinning me. My hand falls on to something wet and hard. He presses down on my neck, he croaks something I can’t hear. Rain runs in to my eyes and I can’t breathe or think, in my hand is something solid, I realise I’m holding the knife gripping the handle. I swing my hand up and stab his leg repeatedly, blood mixes with rain water and runs over my face instantly the pressure is released from my neck. He howls and falls down. Now I’m up on my feet and he’s lying on one side holding his ruined leg. I look down at the black shape in front of me pathetically writhing in the wet grass. “Have I made my point?” “es” it croaks and nods its head “Now piss off or I’ll get really angry” I turn my back on the mugger who shuffles off. I rub my neck and from the bushes I can hear muffled snoring noise. He’s-I’m not dead. I walk back over to where the victim-me, is lying my-his chest is rising and falling. He’s snoring, I never knew I snored. I’d asked Susan about it but she always said no. I want to cover him up or shield him from the rain but I know that interfering would only lead to more trouble. Then I realise he’s got no jacket, the mugger still had all my stuff. I look over and he’s gone. I run after him. I get half way along the path and find my jacket the stream. No keys, wallet or polos. He’ll go for the car. I throw the jacket on to a

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bush and I start running to my house. I know he can’t get there quickly his leg won’t let him.

Chase Chapter 27 Sunday 15th May 2005 The attacker makes his escape his thoughts spiralling. I slip in a puddle and almost lose my footing. Pain bites in to my wounded leg. He had been fast and surprisingly strong, I hadn’t expected to loose to him again. Maybe I was weaker now after the physiotherapy. That arsehole had put me in hospital for a year, 12 months and now just as I think I’ve got him out the way everything changes. No fire, their both fine and I try again to kill him and he saved by who? Himself, the selfrighteous, pretentious, prick. I reach the top of the street I know my leg a mess but I don’t look at it and just push through the throbbing pain and get to the car. He’s not far behind me. I scurry up the drive way and slam into his parked car in an attempt to keep the weight of my leg. I scramble with the keys and jump in behind the

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wheel. The suns beginning to rise and the black night sky is a dark blue. I free wheel down the driveway and start the car. Up ahead of me John Maddock sprints across the top of the road, knife in hand. I put the engine in gear and drive straight at him. Maybe there is away after all, if I can spread him across the road then perhaps he won’t get up. He’s standing in the road looking at me the early sun breaks through the sky behind me. He folds the knife away and puts it in his pocket. Twenty feet away, 20 mph I can see the red of the sun reflected in his eyes. He bares his teeth and puts his hands out. Ten feet away, 30mph He doesn’t look like he’s moving. Then he’s as dead as he should be. Five feet, 35mph “Die” I scream at him through the windscreen. In that split second clearly for he first time he realise who I am, his mouth drops open, he drops his hands. Anger replaced by confusion and betrayal he mouths my name. I close my eyes and there’s a bang, the car pulls to one side and I struggle to control the vehicle. I open my eyes he’s gone and pull the wheel to the left as the car screeches around the corner at the top of the road.

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Releasing the accelerator sends shooting pains along my leg. I can feel blood pooling in my shoe. Heading for the town centre I pass a Pharmacist but the shutters are down and there’s no way in. I search the streets but there are hardly any people around and no shops are open. I pull in when I get to the town centre, I heave as a wave of nausea rises in my stomach. Breathing deeply to hold down the little amount of food in my stomach I peer through watery eyes and directly opposite me someone is putting out the newspaper headline boards and letting down a shop canopy, the newsagents is opening up. Oh thank Jesus and Mary I’m saved. I struggle out of the car, hop across the road and a bell jingles to mark my arrival. The fat shopkeeper looks up at me from behind the counter and shrugs his blonde dirty hair hangs over his round face. Behind the counter there’s a bamboo curtain that must lead into a store room or accommodation. I look around there’s no bandages of any kind just food and newspapers. I’m bleeding badly I can’t understand it I’ve usually healed by now but the blood is still running. I need a fag so badly and decide to make a distraction. I approach the counter he’s reading a copy of the Guardian. There’s a tin of beans on the shelf behind me, I pick it up, take a good aim and throw the tin of beans as hard as I can over the counter. It flies through the curtain which crashes open. The shop keeper jolts nearly dropping his paper, he looks around his shop cautiously.

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“What the bloody hell was that?” He asks nobody. And looking back one last time he disappears through the curtain to investigate. I slide round the counter grab eighty Benson & Hedges, a lighter. On the way out I pass the fridge. I grab four cans of Red bull and leave. I have been doing this far to long, no one can see me unless I want them to and unfortunately it takes all the fun and skill out of being a thief. I slump back into the car, empty my pockets on to the passenger seat. Light a fag and rub my eyes. I’m shattered, I crack open a can of Red Bull take a swig and put it in the cup holder on the dashboard. I gun the engine maybe there’s some services on the way.

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Chasing Chapter 28 Sunday 14th May 2005 Three years in the future John Maddocks devastated body miraculously hangs on to life unable to let go. The image is burned into my brain, Patrick was behind the wheel of my car as it bore down on me, Patrick was the mugger. The car tyres squeal as it turns the bend. I feel faint, very dizzy and sick. My body hurts in everywhere. I can’t breathe at all but I’m still alive. I try to turn my neck and I can’t. I move my arms and the bone in my left arm grates between the wrist and elbow, the other ones stiff but workable. I’m laying face down and I can tell my mouth is badly damaged because I can’t feel any teeth. There’s warm blood on my back and in my clothes. Susan. Like a heartbeat. I’ve got to stand up. Susan, like bomb blast in my head. I don’t know how but I’m up and running. The world is a blur and my head rolls back and forth on my shoulders, my ruined neck clicks and snaps and mends until its well enough to

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take the weight of my head again. My aching left arm flaps too and fro for a while until I can clench my left fist. My tender left leg bends at the knee in both directions and I have to hobble for the first ten steps then it starts to work correctly. My mouth has stopped feeling too big and cold inside and now feels like lips and teeth again. I can only see out of one eye for about two minutes until the morning light comes back in to focus. Something slides around in my back and I nearly scream and adjust my stance. Then like a diver coming out of the water I take huge gulps of air. I know I’m still bleeding from my knee, head and a slash in my side but I look around trying to locate my stolen car. I realise that my glasses are lost in the previous fight but in warm sunlight I realise that I no longer need them, I’m short sighted. I see my car turn around the park about 100 metres away. I start shaking as I’m running, sprinting on my tiptoes, my arms are pumping back and forth and I feel like I’m hardly touching the ground. I can just about see the next road that the car turns down. Muscle and sinew correct themselves and I run head down grunting, teeth bared, now I’m the policeman. Try and kill me, I’m unstoppable, my thoughts snarling behind my eyes. I’m far behind and eventually I loose the car. I tumble into the centre of town I bend over and hold my thighs, panting. I can’t believe I lost the car. I hearing shop door bell ring I look up across the market place there’s a newsagents that’s open. I have to double take but parked in the centre of the market place in the empty pay and display car park is my car.

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I race across the road, I can smell the hot engine and notice flecks of my own blood above the wheel arch. Feeling bile rise I look away and grab the front door it’s unlocked, there’s no keys in the ignition. Opening the door quietly get in the back, scuttle across the back seat leaving my blood on the upholstery and land in the boot. Peeking over the top of the back seat I watch the door of the newsagent opens and Patrick steps out limps towards the car with cans drink clutched to his chest. I find myself smiling at the thought of him limping and shake it off. I feel caught in the stare and almost let him see me as he swings the door open and drops into the seat dumps his stuff on the passenger side seat and fiddles with the radio, lights a fag, opens a can. The car starts up he revs the engine and we lurch out of the car park. I have no Idea where we’re going, I’ll wait and I’ve got time. I’m in a lot of pain still and I’ve got to heal properly. How did I survive again? No time to worry about that now.

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Stops Chapter 29 Sunday 15th May 2005 Even though I hate enclosed spaces I’m drifting in and out of consciousness. The car rocks from side to side. Patrick’s obviously tired too as the car keeps jolting and jerking. The car veers left and slows to a stop. I can hardly keep my eyes open. I hear Patrick swearing about something the car door opens and closes. He walks away. I’m getting a headache and feel dizzy. I close my eyes and rub the bridge of my nose. My eyes flash open when I hear

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“So did you get a good look at the assailant?” I can hear the voice of that nasty P.C Young but I can’t see him. “No” I didn’t say anything but that’s my voice, the world bends in a strange way and I can’t feel anything. “I understand, but if you can just think back and maybe try and remember” Stop the strange words PC Young Its too dark, can’t keep out the thoughts I can see a memory that’s too vivid, got to push it back got to keep it out got to, it happens again, painful visions and I’m wholly and completely in another place,

There are two police officers in a room, the room is my living room. They are sitting on big new looking, familiar and comfortable arm chairs, sitting, one holding a cup of tea and bourbon the other a note pad and pen. “So did you see who did this?” I look round in slow motion at this new environment. Then in shock makes my stomach rise and I can taste bacon and brown sauce. I’m home with Susan, she’s sat next to me her hand in mine, my headaches. I lift my hand and there in my hand is hers with perfect finger nails and her wedding ring. I look at her and she’s smiling the way she does and I’m relived and scared all at the same time. I hope to god that the nightmares over. We’re sat in our beautiful living room with the two Police officers I automatically flinch when I

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recognise them. Susan looks at me with her big loving eyes, I have no words just stunned open mouthed joy and admiration. I don’t know how to tell her that I missed her so much and that I’ll never leave her again. I blink and realise I’m in the boot again lying on the floor moaning out loud, in the foetal position. Hands over my ears, I shake my head. The images start to blur and the headache begins to go. I open my mouth to scream the word NO but I hear the car door opening. And then I see it through the back windscreen of the car Pit stop services or the two parts I see when I lie still are “OP SERV”. Suddenly I feel colder, all that time ago I was doing this flitting around. I feel like some part of sanity is crumbling and broken. I have seen be hind the curtain and seen how the magician doses the trick and I want it to go away. Patrick’s back at the car he grunts and unloads some thing heavy on to the passenger seat. Lights another fag and we’re off back on to the motorway. Anger makes me strong and confident. Seeing Susan, smelling her perfume and holding her hand. I have to have that and I will have that. My focus returns and I’ve got to get too the museum and Patrick’s in the way. I know I no longer fear pain and that I can withstand any physical punishment, it was time to get Patrick’s attention. I quietly find Patrick’s 5 inch lock knife in my trousers pocket and open it. I watch him over the seat, he’s checking his rear view mirror regularly. He looks down, and opens a CD Case and inserts the car stereo. Status Quo and Patrick start singing ‘Whatever you want’. I carefully slide over the back seat. I’m behind the drivers’ seat. I reach around the seat with my right hand and swiftly put the knife under his chin, I feel him tense.

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“Whatever you... what the?” I twist the knife and he shuts up. “I want to know why you’re trying to kill me and what the hell is going on. Exactly like you said at Kate’s if I don’t believe you I’m going to get angry” I hiss and I untwist the knife “John, I’m driving at 100 miles an hour. If you stick that in me we’re both dead” I twist the knife and he squawks and goes quiet. He’s wrong maybe he’s dead but I won’t be. “Firstly your wrong and secondly you didn’t answer the god damn question, be quick” I untwist the knife. “Ok, Ok you know when you last went back using the loadstone at the museum after you disappeared all hell broke loose, people where blind and police everywhere and I sort of followed you” I can see over his shoulder the speedometer going down we’re now doing 60mph “Don’t slow down, explain what you mean by ‘sort of followed you’” I watch the speedometer increase. “I went through the Stone” He spat. “Why would you do that? You could see what a mess I was in and you thought that copying me was your best option?” “I panicked” “Obviously” I twist the knife.

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“For Mary Mother of Christ sake, John you need to listen to me” Patrick pleaded. “I have asked to do just that but yet you’ve answered none of my questions and I’m left thinking, why let the bloke who mugged me, tried to stab me and ran me over (which by the hurts) talk anymore?” “Listen I was angry” He confessed I allow him too continue. “When I came back you where in the warehouse waiting for me” another truthful sounding confession. “No, I wasn’t, I haven’t been to a warehouse” was he talking nonsense? “Yeah, you said that I’d tried to kill and… you and that you’d no time for explanations” I interrupt him by twisting the knife and feel a tiny bit of hot wetness on of my fingers, Patrick breathed hard. “This is not what I asked for. I have swallowed your lies over the years, I have taken your side and defended you in front of others. But now you’re in my reality. I don’t need people to like me anymore and I don’t have to listen to what I know to be bollocks. I never even been in a proper fight until this happened to me but I discovered I’m not scared of pain and I’m not scared of you” I tense my arm ready. “Oh god, Oh mother Mary in heaven, you’re not him you’re not that man you don’t have to do this. Come on your bigger than this.” He’s pleading.

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“You are though aren’t you Patrick. You’re the man, the man who runs people over, mugs them at knife point. What would have happened if I hadn’t turned up? Would you have killed me? Was it a mugging or a failed murder attempt?” Suddenly my hand is being smashed against the driver side door I drop the knife. The cars swerving across the road there’s CD’s and papers flying everywhere. Patrick’s accelerating. The traffic’s building up as we reach Anbury. Cars dotted along the opposite side of the road ahead there was the back end of an articulated lorry. I’m thrown across the back seat. “Let’s take a detour” Says Patrick manically the car takes a sharp left hand exit off the main road. The car passes a sign, ‘Duckmere 3 miles’, although Patrick’s slowed down its approaching fast. He’s ranting and raving. Driving like a mad man, swinging the car erratically all over the road. The road straightens and he shouts over the engine noise. “John. You’re a teacher and so am I. I teach people lessons they don’t forget, that’s what I do John. I deliver messages to people who want the messages to be remembered” he’s checking the dash board clock 9.49 am and his watch. The car begins to run parallel to the train track that passes outside Duckmere. I move across the seat and reach round and try to squeeze his neck in a tight arm lock. His right hand is hitting me randomly in the face. The car swerves and suddenly he stops hitting me.

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Like lighting the drivers seat flies back and folds backwards pinning me to the back seat. I lose my grip instantly and I can’t reach him over the seat the car turns right and there’s a screech of hot tyres, the car spins 90 degrees stopping on a level crossing. “You need to end here. When you went back you made Katie fall in love with me and I’m going to get that back, Katie will never fall in love with me in this reality. I guess you’ve made me a bit soft. I think I could be in love” Patrick opens the door and limps away at swiftly. I can just about see over the dash board the cars pointed the wrong way on a level crossing. I start struggling and the sound of the ringing bells lets me know there’s train a coming. I begin to move faster, I can see it coming towards me and it’s sounding its horn. I ‘m free from the seat and leap forward desperately changing gear in one swift motion the reverse gear screams as I put my foot to the floor the vehicle pitches to the left as I swing the steering wheel. The train rockets past and my wing mirror explode sending plastic, glass and sparks everywhere. The car shakes as the train passes. Status Quo sings ‘here we go-ho rocking all over the world and I like it, I like it, like it, I like it, I la la la la like it’ I’m alive and breathing very hard. The Train passes. I survey the damage; front end of the car is in a bush but the rest is on the road and across a pavement, one wing mirror missing, the drivers’ seat is fine, there’s a lot of scratches down left hand side of the car but that’s all. Luckily the crossing gate is about half a mile outside Duckmere and is the old fashion kind with only two gates and somehow I managed to find the right gap.

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The cars still running, Patrick’s out there somewhere and I know where he’s going. Sirens sound in the distance, I need to leave and make sure Patrick doesn’t interfere anymore. I tear down the country lane away from the scene.

Watchman Chapter 30 Sunday 15th May 2005 I’m sifting through the pile of junk food on the passenger seat and find a pre-packaged Sausage roll. While holding the steering wheel I struggle but manage to open the packet. I take big bites and chew slowly. The cars racing along the motorway in the opposite direction back to Smallwood, I guzzle the not so refreshing caffeine drink in the cup holder.

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If I was Patrick I would go back to the source and finish the job, cut off the head and the body dies. I had to get back and ensure that he doesn’t attempt to kill me-him again. My mind can’t focus and I struggle to remember where I had been today, on this day. The evening is turning the yellow sun into a wash of purple and orange. Parking the car a little further down the road I warily make my way up my street, toward my house. I choke back the tears when I see it’s all clean and healthy, no smashed windows or trace smoke damage. The fire really hasn’t happened it takes a while to register, that a magic wand had been waved and the fire the chasing none of it had happened. “Susans alive” I whisper to myself. I’m seeing my old house with completely fresh eyes and it’s beautiful. There are no cars in the driveway. My memory returns, we had gone to the hospital to have my head checked, I think of Patrick and grit my jaw, he’s the only thing that remains a problem, baggage that needs to be cleared up. Another chance for closure as the Headmaster would have said. Through the front window I can see something or someone moving inside the house, my hand grips the knife in my pocket and I stealthily move to the front door. I try the door, locked. I walk around the side of the house, under a fake stone I locate the spare key and slowly unlock the backdoor. I step in to kitchen, my emotions race as I experience a sudden flash back of the fire, the devastation lying over the perfect room like a transfer, shaking the images from my head, I cross to the door. Stepping cautiously into the hallway I peer into the dining room, nothing. I open the living room door, empty. I move

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through the downstairs slowly knife in hand. I know this house inside and out but now it feels like every step is unconfirmed, I’ve no confidence here. At the top of the stairs I turn in to the bathroom, nothing. Study is also empty. I step in to our bedroom and swallow hard, feeling alien. I look at the marital bed and over the crisp linen, at the bottom of the bed is Susans Brown dressing gown. I move towards it tears coming and pick it up and bury my face in the soft material, the smell of her skin and perfume overwhelming my nostrils. Sitting on the bed I grieve for all the lost days, the horrors I had witnessed and the long choking sensation that I would have lived without her in my life. I felt blessed to be in my own bedroom and knew soon I would be in it again, holding her. Pulling myself together put everything back and head out of the room. Standing at the bottom of the stairs I wonder if I had been seeing things, had someone been in here or not. I almost mess myself when the phone rings, Without thinking I pick it up. “Hello 543082” “When I see you again I’m going to kick your teeth in” Patrick growls down the phone “If you come with two feet of him I’ll kill you” I snarl “I’ll go where I want …. Fizz ….crackle” he responds with his phone signal nearly giving up. “If you come anywhere near Anbury museum tomorrow evening you’ll regret it” I’m trembling with anger.

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“I’ll see you there then” The phone cuts out and the line goes dead. So he’s going to be at the museum tomorrow. That’s no surprise. Everything here is safe for now. I leave locking the back door and after finding another comfortable spot in another bush, I stand sentry on the other side of the road. I’m ignored by several members of the public. Strangely Mrs Freys (whose husband had been the driver who had crashed in to Susans car and injured in the House fire version of events) almost noticed me, she stood for nearly thirty seconds just looking through me, then at me and then through me again. They arrive home I can remember fish and chips, they leave the car and my stomach growls. Sitting on my haunches, my legs ache and I yawn. I watch the lights go off, finally the bedroom light winks out and all I can imagine is how good it feels too wrapped up in bed holding Susan. Sitting on the ground I lean against the fence behind me. I start to fall asleep and I’m dreaming of a warehouse an empty canteen, Patrick’s lying dead on the floor there’s blood every where on the light bulb and windows sprayed on almost every surface. His blood is all over me I’m holding his knife which I drop it falls in slow motion and lands point first in the floor as it hits the room changes in to the kitchen, flames licking every where Susan’s dead on the floor in front of me and I’m awash with burning flames. A hand grabs my leg and I look down to see a dead and burnt hand the skin black and shrivelled white finger bones visible. Digging in to the skin on my leg. The corpse lying on the floor behind me is me it’s dragging me backwards, the eyeless dead skull looking at me.

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A car roars and I jump awake to see Susan in a strange car leaving, its morning and I have drool on my chin and shirt collar. Frightened I stand to see who’s stealing my wife and relax when I realise that it’s just Sheila giving her a lift to work. She’s fine but what about me-John. As soon as I think my name the ground almost shakes and the air ripples. Checking everything is Ok I try again, ‘John’ The same reaction, it’s like I can feel him, kind of a telepathy maybe. ‘John don’t go to the museum you’ll time travel” I feel nothing maybe that was too much. ‘John’ “John + Loadstone = Time travel’ I can see the equation in my head. There’s a figure in the window looking out at me. Morning sun light is pouring in and I can see him-me, every line on my-his face. He has some bruising on his face, his glasses look awful because he’s squinting out from behind them but I appears to be bruised but healthy. ‘Time travel” I mentally scream the ground vibrates. He lifts his wrist and looks at his watch then he’s gone from view.

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Happy that he’s safe, I return to the car and follow him to School and then leave him knowing that he’ll be safe inside Gary’s fortress of education. As long as Paul stays balanced due to no house fire everything should be fine.

Closing stages Chapter 31 Monday 16th May 2005

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I’ve never been here before, I’m parked at the roadside in Anbury. I look out of the car window at the buildings around me, lock ups and small soulless looking offices it’s a business and industrial estate. I’m sitting in the car taking the time to eat and my mind comes back to Patrick who has tried to kill me twice, he mugged me and almost stabbed me. Then he say’s I threatened to kill him, the disturbing dream comes back and I shiver. The last time I came back he was in the car with Katie and I didn’t talk to him. I couldn’t I went directly to Smallwood then stupidly the hospital. I encountered him next at the pub and I didn’t even speak to him. I don’t understand what’s happened to him. I remember him running away from the car at the level crossing he was dressed differently from the last time he was at the museum. He wasn’t running he was limping. In the park we stood and fought for along time and he took the blows but when I stabbed him in the leg he got injured but if he has gone back through the loadstone then he can’t get hurt. I’m thumbing the knife in my pocket when I realise, he must have come through the loadstone with this knife. This knife is a part of his reality, his time line which means it can affect him. I reach inside my jacket and get my sceptre put the diamond encrusted part of it on the back of my hand and drag it across my skin. I feel the citrus sting of my skin slicing and stop, there’s a 2cm thin red line on the back of my hand. A single drop of blood runs

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from it, I watch and it does nothing. It does not heal. Proof, I brought this sceptre back with me this is my reality it can hurt me. I put the sceptre away and take out Patrick’s’ knife, open the blade and run my thumb along its edge, the same sharp pain but when I look at the wound it’s nearly gone this confirmed the final thoughts about the watch, I’m only damaged for as long as the watch needs to turn back on itself, 60 seconds. That’s why the knife hurt him, this is part of his reality and can affect him. I have to stop him and now I have away. He threatened to meet me tonight and if he gets through the loadstone again there’s no knowing where he’ll end up, I have to stop him. I try to start the car but nothing happens the fuel gauge is on red. I step out of the car and notice the distinct smell of petrol. Underneath the car an oily puddle has formed must have caught the fuel tank on the rail way line, I look back into the car the clock reads 3.30 pm I need to get there. An hour later I’m running into the car park of the museum. My lungs are bursting I rest a second on the gate post of the car park and take a wary look around no sign of Patrick. My brain falters when I see myself in the distance trotting up the steps in to the waiting doors. I’m dumbstruck and try to shout to warn him but he’s gone already it’s too late he’s too far away and the glass doors have swallowed him. I stop catch my breath, when my breathing slows I continue sprinting. I’m up the step and through the glass doors. I search the reception area nothing then it hits me he’s on his way to the Loadstone. I start running again this time through the corridor as I turn a

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corner I run into a crowd off set up crew and volunteers, the same ones that I had avoided before, I offer my apologies as I trip and stumble across the concrete floor. “No running this is a museum” Shouts one of the crew. I ignore them and they disappear round the corner. A fist comes from nowhere and I’m staggering backwards. “The nice man said no running” Patrick shuffles out from behind a canoe. I ignore my shattered nose as it knits back together quickly. Two choices go for Patrick or sprint across to the Egyptian exhibit and stop the other John from going back. Patrick can’t be able to run too well on that leg. I make a snap decision as he lunges for me but I dart past the display cases and through an arch way in to the Egyptian exhibit. The door is closed and the words ‘NO ACCESS’ acts as a reminder of my own stupidity. Patrick’s not far behind shouting obscenities, I reach for the door handle which moves forward to meet me as does the entire door. I’m stunned as the heavy door knocks me over. Patrick’s charging up the centre isle and he collides, chin to forehead with a much flustered advisor called Roger. I jump to my feet and step over them and run in to the chamber towards the stone, a crate next to me explodes shattering wood everywhere I throw my arms over my head and splintered wood bounces off me a quiet pop noise fills my ears and white light fills the ceiling, floors and walls. My shield my eyes see pink and then white.

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Patrick’s brings me down hard. The wind is knocked out of me. Then he’s kicking me again and again, I grab his foot and twist and he wails and grabs his leg. Then I’m up and we’re both circling each other fists raised like boxers. For the first time I can see him properly, face to face he looks older. His clothes are a mass of layers which are varying shades of grey and black. His neck is exposed and a thick white zigzag scar runs from his neck up to his chin. I’d never seen it before. He notices me looking at it and an ugly smile crosses his face “What happened to your neck?” I demand “You did, Three years ago” He swung out a fist and I ducked. “Why would I do that to you?” “How the fecking how am’ I supposed to know. Fate I guess” he swung again “Is that why you’re trying and kill me?” “Yeah I suppose. I was slightly angry that you’d hacked most of me in to tatters. You know that anger that builds when you’ve got to piss into a bag through a hole in your side it’s kind of hard to ignore. You tried to kill me three years ago. I was luck to be alive, I was in a coma for 14 months and then 12 months of on going physiotherapy. No one could see me they had to give me my own nurse. I’d sit there in a wheel chair trying to get peoples attention but they couldn’t see me. I would have recovered sooner but people kept loosing me or tripping over me. You did that you took away my life, took away my honour. You’re an abomination to god and I’m going to make you pay” His teeth are

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clenched and I notice two are missing, top and bottom. He’s drooling slightly. I shudder I can’t imagine doing that to an animal. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. That is not my fate. I’m not going to do that?” I’m begging him trying to calm the torrent of anger spilling from his eyes. “Destiny John you can’t avoid it. I have been to hell and back. My trip lasted 3 years, I forget my exact age. As soon as I could walk again I had to find this hunk of rock and now I have it back I’m going to kill you and then I’m going to use the Loadstone to make my self rich, the whole of reality will be my play ground. I had the chance to read plenty while I was in hospital” he’s waving his hands around. Rogers back in the chamber he’s desperately trying to juggle the pieces of his now broken radio, “Sir, Mr Maddock please stop this isn’t necessary” Bleats Roger “Roger stay out of this” I shout “Yeah Roger keep your nose out” Patrick snaps, belittling the fearful Roger We’re still circling each other when Patrick nods over to Roger with a questioning look, “He’s just an advisor” I answer his unasked question. “Head advisor” corrects Roger pointing to his badge.

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“Does anyone mind telling me what the feck’s going on” Another voice, Irish but fresher. My attention is drawn I expect to see Mick, Patricks brother but striding across the hall in the leather jacket that I had borrowed, in tight jeans and white t-shirt is another Patrick. I look at him he’s so bright, clean shaven. I look at the other decaying Patrick, the difference was remarkable the Patrick with the knife looked grey, scarred and twisted. “What’s he doing here” we both ask each other at the same time. We stop circling and look round at the other Patrick standing behind Roger “John, you invited me” He answers us both, looking confused and angry “No I didn’t” I frown. Keeping one eye on the old grey Patrick “Yes you did, I rang you at home yesterday and you said come to the museum this evening. I tried to catch up with you in the car park but you where running, so I followed you in. Then these people gave me a load o grief until Roger turned up and explained. You where going to tell me about Saturday night. Is this arsehole given you some grief?” He eyes his physical counterpart. My mind races back revaluating events. When I had returned to Smallwood and gone home to check on my other self and when I was in the house the phone call that I’d answered. I thought that I had been speaking to the other one, the threats on the phone weren’t threats they had been jokes, all the static and bad reception must of made him miss hear me. I had told this new Patrick where I would be he’d come innocently to meet me and now he’s here starring at himself, realise with ice cold terror the vast destructive potential.

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I have to send him away. “Patrick you shouldn’t be here, this is dangerous” But he’s stopped looking at me and is looking at the limping Patrick, his alter ego. “Leave John alone otherwise you’re dead” Warns the new Patrick. “I’m you, you great eejit” reasons the hobbling Patrick. We all pause, Roger looks around nervously I look from one Patrick to the other. My mind only skimming the possible thousands of outcomes my gut instinct tells me that the only outcome will be violent. I have to find away of explaining I open my mouth but it’s too late. There’s an explosion of movement, my heart races as physical realities smash into one another. I weakly step back unable to stop them. The Patricks are fighting, smashing through boxes, shouting, swearing and punching they roll around the chamber in a blur. The limping Patrick is holding his other self in a complicated arm lock, the actions stops for a brief second just long enough for the injured Patrick to command, “Fecking packet in” Then the new Patrick’s up there’s a blur of silver and the limping Patrick staggers back with a knife sticking out of his left breast. He laughs and pulls it easily out of his chest. They pace each other like wolves fighting for pack supremacy, they smash together again. I try to follow them as they brawl around the floor, suddenly they separate the new Patrick’s holding his throat blood’s dribbling through his fingers. “Oh bloody hell” The words escaping my mouth. This is not going to be good.

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“That’s you fault you prick. I’m blaming you for that one” Patrick’s pointing the bloodied knife at me and spitting. His mortally wounded doppelganger staggers and drops to his kneel and then floor blocked from sight by few boxes. “How the hell does that work? You shouldn’t even be here any more” I snarl “Neither should I. I’m just going to leave” Roger disappears through the door. “Don’t know, don’t care” he shrugs off my comment and starts coming at me knocking over boxes that are in his way. I clutch the knife I have been waiting to use and unfold it in my pocket, holding the handle tightly I prepare. Patrick charges we exchange of punches and slashes then brake apart. My jackets’ torn across the front and my sceptre falls out of my ripped pocket and on to the floor where it rolls slowly across the smooth floor stopping at Patricks’ feet. “So you got your own knife as well” He rasps and I can see blood on his hands and in his mouth. “No you psychotic prick I’ve got yours” I seethe confident in having the upper hand. “And it appears I’ve got your sceptre” He struggles to bend over but picks it up regardless. We clash again and he brings the sceptre down across the back of my head and the world shakes, stars dance in front of my eyes, I slice up across his chest and arm with his knife. We brake, sweating I can hear a coughing noise.

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In front of a yellow spot light the other Patrick’s laying flat on his back lit cigarette in his mouth, his chest has stopped rising and falling. His dead arm is out too one side, in his pale outstretched hand is a lit Zippo touching the yellow packing which quickly catches fire with a woof. I can feel blood running down the back of my neck Patrick’s holding his chest with a dark patch of blood on his clothes. A crate catches fire. I notice something at my feet glowing in the light of the flames. “It looks we have each others sceptres as I’ve got yours” I smile holding up his sceptre. Police burst in through the door and the flames rush to meet the new oxygen engulfing several crates and unboxed artefacts, creating a circle of flame, a wall between us and the police. The shield themselves and look around resourcefully. The police produce fire extinguishers but it makes little impact Patrick looks at the flailing officers and laughs stopping to only cough. I hear Roger shout “The sprinklers are off to protect the exhibit from accidental water damage”. The damaged Patrick raises is arms and swings around looking at he group of people “Well as we have a fecking Audience” He never finished the sentence, he lets the knife and sceptre he was holding fall into the flames around his feet. My hand pulls the five inch blade from his chest and drives it again hard in too his rib cage. He turns and looks at me his eyes tired and relieved,

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“John? You didn’t kill Susan… I started the fire…. I was trying to kill you, I went through the back door” he coughs gasping for breath. “But how their alive?” The colour drained from him immediately “I saw a ripple in the air on Saturday, I watched it change everything. People, cars, birds everything, cough” Life flickered on his face and was gone. He fell forward in to a mass of flame. Blue sparks turn in to a pyre and flying into the air. I’m getting burnt and I look around at the damage. Panic rises when I realise I’m now vulnerable to injury, back on my own timeline. The fire brigade have arrived there hacking a slashing through the heat and flames how the hell am’ I going to untangle this mess without ending up in prison. The flames are growing and I back across the room away from the heat. Some thing big stops me, turning around the loadstone is glowing in reflected red of the flames. I have one other option I crouch down in front of the stone and push the sceptre in to the hole. Then too late I remember, Patrick had my sceptre and I had his, he told me three years I try and pull it out. Click. Boom.

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Loose ends Chapter 32 Thursday 19th May 2002 John tumbled back through time and found himself falling in to a strange warehouse which looked some what like the one he ad dreamt about. After wandering through the isles of crates he discovered a cafeteria room and to his distress Patrick whimpering in the corner. Three years ago John and Patrick continue to converse somewhere in Scotland. “If you talk to me like that again I’m going to rip your testicles off.” He’s unimpressed. “Patrick, please sit down” I ask politely “That’s better now what the hells going on?” He looks so innocent so harmless. “There’s no time for explanations” The words hang in the air like a bad smell. I recognise the words. I stop and question myself, all I find is anger towards the man sat opposite me. A burning desire to destroy him like ice water being thrown at me I grasp at the truth that the paradox begins here. I see its endless looping diagram in my mind and realise that I have to stop it.

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“What explanations? What are you going on about?” he shifts on the plastic moulded chair. My blood boils and instead of reacting I recognize I’ve got to keep calm and break the chain, I’m tired and it’s not easy. I have to fight myself I’m a sum of my experiences but they haven’t happened but yet they could. “I’m sorry. I’m not being very clear I’ll tell you…..” And I do. I tell him everything. After an hour he interrupts, “Stop, wait, all this happened because you tried to kill me” He looks incredulous. “Yes, although I haven’t in this timeline or reality” I answer coldly. “What are you trying to say?” He frowns. I feel the knife under my out stretched palm on the table. I look at him and realise that this man is an opening, a chance to destroy the wrong and set the course of history straight and yet a friend, a man who had protected me like a brother. I could loose both or take either. “You are the one person who can make sure all this goes away” I reason. “John, if you think I’m going to kill Susan you’re very much mistaken and as for killing you, I have no reason too”. He leans back on his chair shrugging and raises his open hands. That neck so exposed, no scar. I could see the zigzag scar in my minds eye the uneven texture of the discoloured skin, this could all be over in minutes. I might put him down

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and never have to consider that he would hurt Susan again. I feel drunk again and out of control. I try and clear my head “This is very difficult for me because as I said earlier, you have already done these things, I have witnessed them” He absorbs the words then levels his gaze looking at me from under his eye brows and says slowly and calmly. “If you betray a mans trust or his honour then you are going to get both bloody barrels” There’s no emotion behind his words just ethics. How do I respond? He’s just clarified my position. He has betrayed me by killing my wife, he has dishonoured me by attempting to kill me and he sits there like butter would melt in his mouth. I feel my self rising from the chair and I know I’m going to kill him right here and now, but I have to stop and struggle to answer verbally. The air is thick and heavy, super charged. Through my teeth I carefully say. “You can see my problem then. These things that you have done or will do are definitely very hard for me too forgive” I’m having pace my words to subdue my desire to rip him apart. Patrick’s loosing the debate. “Why would I have the slightest inclination to even raise a hand to you?” he’s acting cool and confident but I notice a bead of sweat on his forehead, his eyes are slightly too large. “It’s fate, those where your own words and because I haven’t decided if I’m going to kill you yet” I counter. He slides his chair back, it squeaks against the yellow laminate floor and his eyes are on the door. A man walks in wearing a dirt blue boiler suit, he looks like

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a fat old teddy boy. We both watch as he gets a sausage roll from the vending machine and hastily unwraps it. “John cool down now you’re taking this the wrong way. I won’t do those things. I promise on my Mams life. Jesus and Mary I promise” He looks scared. I’m surprised to find I have to hold back a laugh. Patrick scared of me. “I hope that you don’t. What if I told you that in this world you and Katie never fall in love?” he colours and glares at me leaning forward in his chair. His eyes turn in to slits and like dog listening to a strange noise he turns his head to one side. “What are you talking about now?” His mood has changed and I can feel anger in his voice. I have considered this and offer him my theory. The roles are reversing I’m calming and he’s getting agitated. “The only reason you fell in love with Kate is because I came back in the first place. I even saw you kissing some tart in the park a day or two ago” I coolly say. “I did what now?” He looks shocked. “I passed you after the pub the night you tried to mug me. You didn’t experience the night at the pub because in your reality I had died in the house fire. Do you remember that we agreed to go to The Greenman for a few drinks, you see originally we had all gone all to the pub for a beer as arranged, to celebrate Ed getting back from Spain? I saw the Patrick, you from that reality in the park and he was kissing a different woman under a street light” I don’t know how badly he’s going to take this.

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“I wouldn’t do that. So you’re saying your fecking cupid” He gestures towards me with a pointed finger. Smirking and shaking his head. “I changed the past, yours, mine, everyone’s and I have to work out how to put it right and killing you maybe the answer” I sound apologetic. He’s biting his finger nails again his mood has switched and his eyes are big and worried. “How the hell is that going make any difference? You said you tried once, you failed and that caused the whole problem, killing me is not the right choice” He’s back to defensive and deliciously scared but it’s slowly turning into back to anger. “I believe you have a slightly bias view on this” I lecture. He looks baffled. “What do you mean?” He demands looking insulted “You’re scared of dieing because it may be painful” I explain and he sits up looking like his pride is at stake. “Feck off I’m not scared. I just really don’t want to, who does?” He’s trying to look calm. “OK you stay alive and you may kill people. I know your capable I have seen you kill someone” My words making me angry as I mentally revisit the burning Kitchen. He stares in disbelief “Who” I way up the answer and I know that Patrick can not comprehend the answer, if I hadn’t seen it happen with my own eyes I would not have believed. It still confused me.

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“This is something I didn’t tell you. In the fight at the museum you’re ‘then self’ turned up and this sounds crazy but its absolutely true… you killed yourself!” His eyes are like saucers his mouth hangs open, “Fecking killed myself. Bollix no fecking way. You’re off your head” He looks at me shakes his head and folds his arms, then looks at me again, shakes his head again and says, “Pfft” through his lips. As though words couldn’t take away what I had said, he knew after all our years of friendship that I wouldn’t lie about this. I hold up the unopened knife it’s still dirty from the fight and he swallows, unfolds his arms and swallows again. “This is your knife isn’t it?” he nods “I saw you fight and cut your own throat with it. Then you left yourself bleeding to death all you wanted to do was kill me, I heard you take your last breath” I touch the back of my head and wince as I wipe a finger over the gash left there by the sceptre. I show him the blood on my fingers. He doesn’t know whether to shake or nod his head. “Oh my god, oh my god. The whole thing is true isn’t it” He whispers. I nod slowly and precisely. He goes on “the travelling back, the whole universes thing, and the fighting it’s all true. I feel like I’m so small and yet I‘ve done so much damage. But it can’t be, I’m only one man” He’s talking to me and then himself and then me again. I have to convince him.

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“Patrick. What does a nuclear bomb do?” I ask slowly he surfaces from his thoughts and focuses on me. He absorbs the rhetorical question “A nuclear bomb… it explodes and it blow things to pieces” He’s looking like he’s lost in the dark and I’m holding the only lit candle. I’m leading him somewhere and he knows it “How big is a nucleus?” I give it to him straight. “It’s smaller than a piece of dust? I think?” I watch his confused face turn and bloom in to a flower of understanding, he opens his mouth and the words come slowly, “So that means… I’m like a fecking bomb” he looks pale, his eyes have no sparkle. “That is true” I agree. Then his soft faraway eyes focus sharply on me, his face turns again, eyes darken and his lips thin. “If I’m a bomb then so are you, you’re the… the original bomb” Then it’s my turn to look shocked. I’m unsure. “No” I hesitantly answer. “Yes you are. You’re the one that has to be stopped” He’s pointing at me. “We both have to be stopped, that’s what I’m going to do” I argue raising my voice “Oh no! I’m going to put things right and get Katie to love me again. You’ll just feck everything up again” He’s eyeballing me, shaking his head and looking serious. I’m

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about to answer when without warning he turns the table over on top of me. My chair and I fall backwards, I drop the knife and he stands up kicking his chair away and snarls, “I just remembered I’m like captain scarlet now. No dying. You think I’m scared of Fecking pain. I am pain” I can’t see him my chairs on it back and I’m trying to get the table off me. The table comes off me quickly and Patrick’s standing over me. “You sit there telling me that you’re going to kill me. You’re a teacher John you push kids around for a living your not a man. You can’t hurt me” He pulls his lock knife out of his pocket. He puts one foot on my chest and I’m pinned, I struggle. He waves the knife in my face, I stop struggling and try and grab the blade next to me. He stamps harder on my chest and leans back, standing upright and he turns his blade towards himself. “You see John. Destiny is never fixed, because this time you die. I can’t die” He’s fast and stabs himself three/ four / five times in the chest. “Ha see think you’re the… one… with…cough…” he’s looking at the knife and he smiles at his own confusion. He coughs again blood dribbles out of his mouth and down his chin. He’s loosing colour rapidly and staggering he holds himself up with at a table his shirt and jeans are slowly turning red. “FECK, What the hell John... You fucking lied, I saw you the fag on your chest” I get up and he weakly holds the knife out at me and I snatch it off him. His arm flops on to the table. I look pitifully at the mortally injured Patrick swaying at the table.

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“I never really mentioned which particular knife and that’s because the one in your pocket is the only thing capable of hurting you” He looks quizzical coughs and gurgles, there’s more blood. I pull up a chair, sit down and continue. He flops in to the nearest chair bloodied up turned hands between his legs. “What are your talking about?” “I have a copy of that knife and you brought your knife with you through the loadstone in your pocket, because you brought it through the Loadstone it’s your reality that means it can affect you or if you like hurt you. I’m sorry Patrick but you have solved the problem, it’s a shitty thing to say but you’re still my friend” “I Know, Ouch fuck this hurts” There’s more blood on his lips. “So you’re really love Katie, huh” I ask feeling a lump in my throat “Cough, yeah I was going to ask here to, you know” His heads leaning to the left and his eyes are closing slowly. “Oh god I’m sorry Patrick” I feel tears welling up, all this death and loss “Fecking twats” He says, his eyes waver and he slides down in the chair in to a heap. I found myself agreeing with his final words. I have my satisfaction but it’s empty. I don’t want any reward he followed me through. I should I have killed him myself, but how would that have changed me?

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I put back the furniture and I gag when I notice the smell telling me all of Patrick’s muscles have relaxed. I put my hands under his arms and drag him out in to the warehouse. No ones around its getting dark, I find an empty crate and heave his body into it. After locating some nails and a hammer seal the lid. I don’t know how to feel and walk away. Stepping out into the fresh air I narrowly avoid being run over by a fork lift truck Three years is going to be a long time. Susan I love you. Revival Chapter 33 Monday 16th May 2005 In the plush bathroom Susan slid under the bubbles in to the ‘nearly take your breath away’ hot water. The candles flickered and the track on the stereo ‘Only Time’ from the album A Day without Rain by Enya floated through the open door from the bedroom room stereo. Susan exhaled and felt the stress of Monday soak away in to the sweet smelling water. Susan worked with Patrick O’Connor’s girlfriend Katie who had been in an awful mood regarding their relationship. Susan had already known the extent of Patrick’s immoral behaviour after Saturdays late night phone conversation. Susan had consoled her friend as best she could without giving to much away but confirming what Kate already knew.

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Kate had been at the new years party at Eds house when she met Patrick 6 months ago, Susan had introduced them and now felt recurring guilt every time Kate spoke of him. The last thing Susan had witnessed that day at work was Kates’ appalling attempt to pitch her marketing plan to the board of directors. As manager of the fundraising department Susan had been on the board at the meeting to offer objective advice to her peers. It had not gone well. She pushed it from her mind. She breathed and relaxed, in through the nose out through the mouth, just like at Yogasize classes. She heard the front door open and close, the up beat tune of ‘Lazy Days’ bounced through the door. “Crazy, amazing days” Sung Enya. She sat up quickly as she heard a crash in the kitchen. A wave of water rolled along the bath and splashed over the taps. Her fair firm body shone silky and wet in the candle light, grabbing her towel she felt worried and exposed. There was a bump in the lounge below her. Grabbing her dressing gown and pulling it on she made her way out of the bathroom turning right she stood at the top of the stair. A figure entered the hallway at the foot of the stairs. Susan swallowed hard it was too early for John. The light flicked on the face at the bottom of the stair well smiled back it was worn and tired. A bunch of fading flowers shook in his right hand. “Susan, Susan!” He shouts like he hasn’t seen her in the longest time

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“John whatever’s the matter? Are you injured?” She was at the bottom of the stairs her arms around him. His embrace crushed the wind out of her his kisses falling all over her head, tears rolling down his face. “Susan. You can see me?” She could hardly breathe, braking the embrace she led him to the settee in the lounge, he followed as though in daze. “Yes of course I can. Come on what’s wrong? Where’s your glasses” He looked ill, pail and dishevelled. “I lost them” He admitted guiltily gulping air between sobs. “You don’t look well” She smoothed his hair and wiped away his tears. “The kitchen looks great” He beamed enthusiastically showing some of the man she knew. Susan looked out of the door enquiringly, “I washed up that’s all? Why what was wrong with it?” She asked. He physically jumped “Oh nothing.” He grinned “You look exhausted” She smiled “I feel like going to bed” He answered big fat tears rolling down his face. “You went to the museum what happened?” She patted his hand worried at his distress “I’ll tell you about it someday, but right now I’m so tired”, he whispered, “I bought you your favourite flowers” his face had an apologetic smile

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“I don’t understand but thanks” She took the flowers that seamed more than lifeless. “I’m really tired” He admitted. John looked about as life slowly returned to normality, around him it was as though the black and white world was being painted with Technicolor, mono sound returning to surround sound. “Ever close your eyes? Ever stop and listen?’ Enya’s voice faded as the album began again with Wild Child.

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Epilogue The Loadstone and its three sceptres where visited by John and Steven Graves’ class. They all marvelled at the Egyptian display, ignoring his pupils John spent most of his time there writing down inscriptions from the large stone in the middle of the room. * Then the Loadstone was packed away and put back in to the large warehouse. John put his sceptre in a very safe place. He never told Susan what had happened. * Susan became very pregnant soon after Johns return. John got promote at work but never left her side. John had a strange way of watching his shadow and sunbathed whenever it was possible. * After a long and gruelling courtship Patrick eventually married Katie, who eventually left him for a stock broker. Patrick never stepped foot in Anbury Museum. * Max Trees left his girlfriend won custody of his daughter and they now live very happily on a farm.

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* Ed and Michelle married and had twins (which of course initial confused Ed “what two?”) and opened their own bakery. • Roger still likes knitted jumpers. • Steven Graves recovered from meningitis and retired early to Spain. • Gary the Headmaster is still called The Headmaster. • Some years later The Loadstone was stolen but that’s a whole different story. The End

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The Loadstone  

Novel of a man who's pulled through realities and ends up having to save those he loves while protecting his own sanity. One wrong turn and...