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Stream of consciousness Sunday: The Accumulator, part twenty three…

A bit of a late start to SoCS today, so it might be a short post, we’ll have to wait and see what Linda G Hill left us in the way of inspiration, so that we can find out what happens next in this continuing story

Ah, it’s another one of her multiple choice prompts;

” “so/sow/sew.” Use one, use ’em all, use ’em any way you’d like. Bonus points if you start and end with any of them. “

Is that all? Well, we’d best get on with it, then…

The Accumulator, part twenty three.

Scene: A private hospital room. Dr Braithwaite and his patient are having a heated argument. It is less than an hour ago.

11.10 – “So what do you expect me to do about it?!”

The young man with the scarred head paces about the room in agitation, shooting angry glances at the doctor, who is watching his patient’s hands as they repeatedly flex and clench into fists. His bare hands.

“All you have to do is tell me exactly what happened when that man came in here, the one posing as Dr Maddox. What did he do, what did he say to you, what did you do to make him collapse like that?”

“I already told the guards, I didn’t do anything!

“He just walked in here and grabbed hold of you and then collapsed, just like that?”

Subject:Beta abruptly stops his restless pacing, coming to a halt in front of the doctor, who takes a stumbling step back and trips over his briefcase, landing heavily on the hard floor with a grunt of pain. 

“See, even you’re afraid of me! What have you done to me, you bastard? Did I do that to him, just because he touched me? Tell me!”

Felix Braithwaite stares up in horror as the monster he has created takes a step closer and reaches for him with one of those deadly, pale-skinned hands, his face a twisted mask of rage.

“No, please, I’ll tell you. What do you want to know? Remember, I saved your life, you’d have been dead long ago if it wasn’t for me.”

“I’ve changed my mind, I’ll find out for myself.”

With that, the young man known only as Subject:Beta leans forward and places his splayed hand on top of Felix’s head.

*****

Scene: Another hospital room, seen from above. The shot tightens on the drawn and lined face of the old man in the bed until we can see only his closed, rapidly twitching eyelids.

Then the eyes snap open.

After a moment the camera pulls back, the shot opening out to show us that Patrick is now smiling.

*****

The director cuts sharply back to the previous scene and we see what happens next in a super slo-mo sequence that he probably had to save most of the effects budget for.

We see a close-up of Subject:Beta’s hand as it makes contact with Dr Braithwaite’s head, then the shot cuts away to a side view of the two men and the SFX boys really go to town.

The doctor’s body is lifted from the floor like a rag doll in a hurricane and flung high into the far corner of the room. But it isn’t so much the impact which is shocking, as the way Felix appears to collapse in on himself before hitting the wall; as if an unseen force is crushing him into a ball as easily as you would crumple a sheet of paper. Only with a lot more mess.

The body is held there for a second, a mangled, dripping horror, then slides down the wall, coming to rest in a bloody heap, one which wouldn’t be recognisably human unless you took the trouble to sew it back together. Only then does Subject:Beta lower his outstretched hand and slump to his knees, as the shot fades to black.

*****

Scene: The overhead view of Patrick’s room.

11.55 – Patrick, eyes now closed peacefully, a faint smile on his lips as he sleeps, is woken by Cathy as she hurries into the room, peers cautiously out into the corridor, where there seems to be a frenzy of activity, then closes the door and turns to Patrick

As she turns, the shot cuts to his POV, so we see the excitement on Cathy’s face as she moves next to the bed and takes his hand in both of hers, the handcuff chain rattling on the metal frame.

“Patrick, it worked! There’s security and police everywhere, they’re saying Dr Braithwaite’s patient killed him and the guards outside his room, then escaped.”

He looked up at her, the relaxed smile she hadn’t seen for so long already making him appear more like his younger self.

“Well what do you know, the good doctor finally learned his most important lesson, the one Endicott learned to his cost; You reap what you sow.”

**********

To be continued (using next week’s prompt)…

#SoCS

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Stream of consciousness Sunday: The Accumulator, part twenty two…

Ready for another round of SoCS strangeness?

Ok then, let’s see what Linda G Hill has left for us, so that I can find what happens next in this odd tale;

” “hair.” Use it any way you’d like. “

Fair enough…

The Accumulator, part twenty two.

Scene: A taxi. Dr Felix Braithwaite is sitting in the back seat, checking his watch as the car creeps forward in the slow moving traffic. It is just over an hour ago.

10.53 – “Isn’t there a quicker way to get to the hospital than this, I should have been there by now?”

“Guv, if there was a better way to get there, don’t you reckon I’d’ve taken it by now, it’s like this all over, innit? They’re working on the bypass, it’s got the whole city jammed up.”

The doctor sat back in his seat with a sigh, resisted the temptation to look once more at his watch and turned instead to gaze blankly out of the window and wondered who this mysterious stranger was who had visited his patient and then apparently collapsed. There were reports of him having dramatically aged in appearance, of his hair going prematurely grey in the space of a few minutes; but these were not effects that Felix recognised from his limited study of the young man’s recent enhancements, so perhaps his abilities were evolving and gaining power, an unnerving thought, indeed.

Had Subject:Beta attacked him and revealed his powers in public? That would be disastrous, Felix shuddered at the very thought of trying to explain such things to ignorant and suspicious police officers and the hospital authorities. It was imperative that he discovered the imposter’s identity and, if necessary, terminate him at the earliest opportunity. Nothing must endanger the success of the Accumulator programme, not when they were so close to perfecting the process with Subject:Beta.

“Here we go, sir, looks like they cleared a blockage up ahead, we’re on our way.”

He looked round at the driver, who was grinning over his shoulder at the doctor, and saw the car in front draw away from them as the jam eased and traffic began to move more freely. 

“We’ll be there in no time now, you see.”

Felix Braithwaite started to relax, it was all going to be fine, he would soon have everything under control and they could forget any of this ever happened.

*****

Scene: A hospital lobby. Doctors stride purposefully back and forth, whilst a uniformed security guard answers calls at a busy switchboard behind the large check-in desk.

11.19 – A taxi pulls up outside and Dr Braithwaite can be seen through the glass wall of the reception area, paying the driver and hurrying to the revolving door at the entrance.

He approaches the desk and withdraws a pass, which hangs inside his jacket from a lanyard around his neck, tuts impatiently as he waits for the man to finish his phone call, then starts talking before the receiver is back in its cradle.

“I’m Dr Felix Braithwaite, they’re expecting me on the fourth floor.”

The security guard looks at him with a frown and pulls a printed form from a stack in front of him.

“You’ll have to fill out a visitor’s form, sir, I’ve been told not to let anyone up there without authorisation, sorry.”

“That doesn’t apply to me, you stupid man, I’m the one who gave the order to secure that floor in the first place!”

“There’s no need for abuse, sir, I’m only doing my job.” 

The man scowls ever harder and pickes up the phone. Then he takes Dr Braithwaite’s pass and drags it across the desk to study it more closely, causing the doctor to lean sharply forward and lose his balance, grabbing hold of the desk to steady himself as the guard sniggers and punches in a number. There is a pause, during which the two men maintained silent, glaring eye contact from a distance of about six inches, then the call is answered and the doctor is released from his undignified stoop as the other man speaks to his superiors.

“Hello? Yeah, I’ve got some bloke here, says his name is Braithwaite, Felix. Claims he’s a doctor and that you’re expecting him on four, is that right?”

He listens, then nods and pulls a red laminated pass out of his desk drawer and beckons Felix to hand him his pass once more.

The doctor lifts the lanyard over his head and silently hands it to the grinning guard, watches him attach the red laminate to his regular pass and hand it back to him, then picks up his briefcase and marches off in the direction of the elevators without another word.

Riding up to the fourth floor, Felix Braithwaite takes the opportunity to focus his mind and rehearse what he will say to the hospital administrators, should they ask any awkward questions about his unusual patient. He takes half a dozen slow, deep breaths and when the doors opened on an empty corridor a few moments later, he is calm and ready to face anything.

He makes for the double doors to his left, pauses briefly to check his pass is showing, then steps through into the restricted area and sees two more uniformed guards stationed outside Subject:Beta’s room. One of the men stands up as he approaches, stepping in front of the door and folding his arms in a gesture of finality, just in case the visitor is in any doubt as to who was in charge.

Felix stops and brandishes the red laminate he had been given by the man downstairs.

“I don’t have time for any more of your little power games, I’m Dr Felix Braithwaite and I demand to be allowed into that room right now.”

The security guard looks slightly taken aback by his tone, but still takes a minute to examine the doctor’s pass before nodding tersely at him and turning to the door. He reaches for the handle, then pauses and looks back at Felix.

“We couldn’t have known he wasn’t legit, you know. The other guy I mean, he had all the right paperwork and everything, even had a letter of introduction.”

Felix looks disdainfully back at him and thinks about this a moment.

“What did he look like, this imposter?”

“Umm, average-looking I suppose, about forty maybe, dark hair, six foot, 160 pounds. He was with some nurse, she’s been looking after your man in there; Cathy, I think her name is. He was calling himself Maddox.”

“Hmm…do you have security footage of them arriving,” Felix nods to a camera on the wall, trained on the door, “if so I’d like to see it?”

“I’ll check, sir, you go in and I’ll call the control room now.”

He opens the door and moves aside to allow Felix to step past him into the room, which he does, closing the door behind him.

**********

To be continued (using next week’s prompt {which can now be found HERE)…

#SoCS

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Stream of consciousness Sunday: The Accumulator, part twenty one…

Greetings from the wet and windy West Country, from whence I bring you this week’s episode of SoCS, today based (probably very loosely) on Linda G Hill’s insistence that I continue this increasingly elongated story by using this prompt;

” “wood/would.” Use one, use both, use them any way you would like.”

Ok, then…

The Accumulator, part twenty one.

Scene: A hospital corridor, seen from the perspective of someone speeding down it on a gurney. It is two and a half hours ago.

09.30 – From our horizontal POV, the indistinct sound of voices fades in and out and the picture slips in and out of focus, suggesting we are seeing through the eyes of someone who is barely conscious. A hand comes into shot holding a hissing face mask, which is clamped to the unresisting face of our host and our view of the scene darkens around the edges, then fades to black.

*****

Scene: Subject:Beta’s hospital room.

09.45 – The nameless young man is sitting on the bed and one of the security guards is sitting on a chair in front of him, while the second man stands guard next to the door.

“Right, just so we’re clear, before all the bloody doctors turn up and start asking stupid questions; you’re saying that the man who came in with the nurse this morning wasn’t who he says he was and that he attacked you.”

“Yes, he grabbed me and was raving about getting me out of here, he seemed deranged, I told you.”

“And then he just collapsed, just like that?” The man looked at Subject:Beta’s gloved hands nervously, “You didn’t…do anything to him at all?” 

“No, I told you, he grabbed me and then he just fell down and didn’t get back up. I thought he was dead, a heart attack or something, he looked awful.”

“And the nurse, she didn’t do anything, to you I mean?”

For reasons the young man couldn’t explain, he didn’t want to get the nurse, who had told him she was called Cathy, into any trouble, so he shook his head and changed the subject.

“When will Dr Braithwaite be here, I have some questions to ask him?”

“I doubt it will take him long to get here, once he hears about this fucking ball-up.” He looked his client over appraisingly once more and added, “But at least you’re ok, that’s the main thing, am I right?”

The guard raised an enquiring eyebrow at his young charge and Subject:Beta realised he was worried he and his partner would get the blame for the security breach, so he smiled at the man and reassured him.

“The imposter seemed very convincing to me and I’m sure he had all the right documentation…”

“Oh he did; his i.d, a letter from the hospital confirming his appointment, a hospital pass, they all checked out.”

“Well there you go, you can hardly be blamed for being taken in by someone who was so well prepared, after all, he fooled that pretty nurse. I expect Dr Braithwaite and his colleagues will understand completely, once you explain all that to them.”

The security guard looked uncertain about that, but he nodded and rose from the chair, then walked over and spoke in a low voice to his partner for a moment before turning back to face the young man on the bed.

“We’ll be outside if you need anything, I’ll let you know when the doctor arrives, ok?”

“Ok, thank you, I’ll make sure I mention to Dr Braithwaite how helpful you’ve been.”

The guard looked like he might be about to say something, then he opened the door and the two of them left the room.

“Ha!, that was fun,” Subject:Beta threw himself back on the bed and laughed; this was turning into an interesting day, “somebody is going to be in deep shit, hahaha.” 

He held up his right hand and balled the leather clad fingers into a fist, then opened it out flat and, one finger at a time, he slowly began to pull off the glove.

*****

Scene: A hospital room, seen from above. An apparently elderly man lies in the only bed, one arm handcuffed to the rail, eyes closed, chest rising and falling regularly beneath the crisp while sheet.

10.19 – Cathy enters the room and approaches the bed. Now our POV drifts downwards and the shot tightens on the face of the old man, who we now know is Patrick. The camera remains focused on the lined and hollow face as we hear Cathy speak.

“Patrick. Patrick, can you hear me?”

His eyelids flicker and his tongue licks dry lips, then Patrick’s eyes slowly open and he turns his head. He smiles at Cathy and tries to raise his hand, then frowns and lifts his head from the pillow with a grimace, seeing the chain that restrains him.

“Ah, I see that I’m a prisoner.”

“Well, not a prisoner, exactly,” Cathy returns his smile, but her eyes look strained and tired, “they’re waiting for you to wake up, so they can question you about why you were impersonating a doctor.”

“But they don’t know you’re involved, how did you manage that?”

“I have no idea. If I was that poor man, I would have given us both away, but he only told the guards about you grabbing him when they came bursting in and they just yelled at me to get a doctor.”

“So where is he now, Braithwaite’s latest prodigy?”

“Still under guard in his room, last I heard. The good doctor hasn’t arrived yet, apparently he was having to fly in from Europe somewhere and his flight was delayed, he’s expected anytime now.”

Patrick closed his eyes and thought about this for a minute, then he looked at Cathy and shrugged.

“I’m not certain, but I think we may have made more of an impression on Felix’s guinea pig than it seemed. If he had no doubts about the doctor and his motives, he would have given you away, don’t you think?”

“Well, yes, I suppose…” she didn’t sound convinced, “but what exactly are you saying?”

“I’m not sure, it’s just a feeling, but I think we should wait and see what happens when the esteemed Dr Braithwaite arrives and anyway,” he rattled the chain of the handcuffs on the bed rail, “I’m not going anywhere for a while, unless you’ve got a pair of bolt cutters on you.”

“Ok, I’ll go back to work and try to keep an ear out for news and you get some sleep, you’re going to need all your strength when the time comes to get you out of here.”

She reached out and squeezed his hand, then leant over and kissed him on the forehead before turning to leave.

“Cathy.” 

Patrick called out softly as she opened the door and she turned back to see him staring at her intently.

“Don’t trust anyone, we can never know who’s been enlisted by The Department to cover Felix’s little experiment here, so just be careful.”

With that, he closed his eyes once more and lay back on his pillows with what Cathy thought sounded like a contented sigh. She looked at him for a few seconds, still shocked at the change which had come over him in such a short space of time, then stepped out into the corridor and closed the door gently behind her.

**********

To be continued (using next week’s prompt {which can now be found HERE})…

#SoCS

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New short(ish) story: “SCOOP!”…

As you may recall from this post, I have recently formed a new partnership with the lads from FoulEnt, on the Niume blogging platform. I had initially supplied our page with several of my existing short stories, which were all written for Linda G Hill’s Stream of consciousness Saturday feature, but I have finally gotten around to writing an all-new story which was posted on Toileterature earlier today.

It was an interesting experience, sitting down to intentionally write an original story, with no prompt and no specific theme in mind, but nevertheless I soon took the familiar route of just making it up as I went along, with no plan at all of where it would end up, so I suppose I’m lucky it didn’t try to turn itself into a novel.

Since this blog is my primary site and only exists for my own amusement and the benefit of you, my lovely readers, I thought it only fair that I should post it here in full. 

So here is Scoop! I hope you enjoy it.

{For those of you with sensitive dispositions; there is quite a bit of strong language, so consider yourselves warned} 

Geoff

Geoff Standish stared down at the keyboard in irritation, then back up at the pristine white screen of his computer, willing his brain to come up with a new angle. His stomach rumbled loudly and looked at his watch, noticing he’d missed his break and wondering if he could sneak out before his boss returned from yet another extended, boozy lunch

He hadn’t appreciated how easy he’d had it, when he’d been chief writer on the tiny local paper at home and, until he started as junior crime correspondent on the Evening Echo, it hadn’t occurred to him how difficult it would be to make his name; now he had to compete for stories with Darren, the ambitious young reporter who ran the crime desk. 

It wasn’t that Geoff was a bad writer, exactly, but he had done a fair amount of blagging at the interview to secure this, the next step on the road to his dream job of reporting for the nationals. He knew it had been a risk, lying about his qualifications, but he had figured his resumé would be enough to convince any new employer of his suitability for the position; especially since the editor at his last paper was his ex father-in-law and Geoff had reckoned on a getting a good reference from him, even if it was just to make sure he left the paper and didn’t come back.  

Splitting up with Mandy had obviously been a factor in him changing jobs, but he managed to persuade himself that he’d finally made the move to the big time because he had outgrown the parochial little rag he’d worked for since leaving school (conveniently ignoring the fact that Mandy’s father and two brothers had promised to beat the shit out of him if he  ever spoke to her again) and, despite everyone else knowing his ex-wife had taken his job like the opportunistic bitch she was, he knew his destiny as a Pulitzer prize winning journalist was still within reach 

The trouble was, there wasn’t a lot to report on around here and he had been reduced to writing a weekly “around the courts” column, which was no more than a list of neighbourhood drunks, vandals and bored teenagers, fighting in the city centre on a Saturday night.

What he needed was a proper crime, something he could really get his teeth into.

*****

Mandy

She drained the last mouthful of cheap coffee, dropped her paper cup into the bin with an expression of distaste and glared around the empty office. Why had she taken this bloody dead end job in the first place? If she hadn’t been so keen to fuck Geoff over, she never would have accepted her father’s offer to “make a bit of extra spending money”, particularly if she’d known how much of her time it would take up.

What was even worse, that useless little turd had got himself a proper job with a big city paper, which he wouldn’t have had the guts to apply for if it hadn’t been for the family cutting him loose when they divorced last year. She didn’t know why her father hadn’t cut out the middleman and sent her  to the Echo with a glowing reference, and simply sacked her idiot ex-husband. 

Except of course, she did know; alimony. If Geoff was out of work, she wouldn’t get the money her father’s flash lawyer had managed to screw out of him in the divorce.

She was almost disappointed that he hadn’t tried to get in touch with her since they split up, if only because of the kicking her bothers would happily inflict on him if he dared come around here again…
All of a sudden Mandy became very still and for a while she appeared deep in thought.

After a minute or two, she began to smile.

*****

Darren

“Fuck!” 

Darren Blake wasn’t having a good day. 

“You bastards, I’ll sue you to fucking smithereens, you wait and see!”

He stood on the kerb, shaking his fist at the recovery vehicle as it towed his brand new Porsche away from the restaurant, the bright yellow clamp easily visible against the gleaming black paintwork.

He’d only had a quick working lunch and a couple of drinks, he couldn’t have been more than half an hour over on the parking meter, 45 minutes, tops. And when he came out, those two fucking gorillas in hi-vis jackets were winching his beloved car onto their bloody flatbed truck like it was some piece of scrap to be junked. Well, if they’d as much as scuffed the tyres, he’d have their bollocks for desk ornaments.

Darren smiled grimly, “bollocks for desk ornaments”, that was a good one, he’d have to remember that, for when he was recounting the story of this shitty day to the lads in the office…he looked at his watch;

“Shit.” Darren looked up and down the busy street, “Taxi!”

*****

Geoff had just finished the last of his court reports; a case involving a dispute over the height of a conifer hedge, a story not even the most sensationalist reporter could make interesting, when the sound of a phone ringing made him look up. It wasn’t his phone, he hardly ever got calls from outside lines this late on a Friday afternoon, so he stood up to look over his cubicle and saw a light flashing on Darren’s fancy desk console.

Should he answer it? It could be a huge story, he’d kick himself if he missed his big break through indecisiveness at a time like this. 

He stared at the light, flashing in time with the phone’s insistent ringing, sounding loud in the deserted office.

“Oh, what the hell.”

He walked quickly round the partition, proud of his ability to make snap decisions, and snatched up the receiver in a way that he (wrongly) thought of as being the way a go-getting, thrusting young executive answered the phone. Sadly, the cord was a lot shorter than he’d realised and the receiver sprang out of his hand and clattered against the side of the desk before Geoff got it anywhere near his ear.

“Oh, for fuck’s sake.” 

He was just bending down to retrieve the dangling phone handset, from which he could hear the tinny “Hello…hello?…”  of the caller’s voice, when a voice a lot closer to home made Geoff grit his teeth and groan inwardly.

“Whoa there, Geoff! You taking up phone juggling? Hahaha!” 

He looked up to see Darren, striding in through the double doors of the office, like he was making a grand entrance at a fucking state dinner, shrugging out of his poncey camel hair coat and peeling off those ridiculous fucking driving gloves he insisted on wearing, (he would have been even more furious if he’d known Darren had arrived by cab) then reaching out an imperious hand for the phone as Geoff finally managed to wrestle it into submission.

“Fuck you, Darren, I got to it first. Who the fuck do you think you are anyway? Swanning around like you fucking own the place, you’re not fit to shine my shoes, you piece of shit…” 

…Is what Geoff wanted to say.

But instead, he just meekly handed the phone to his smirking boss and scuttled back to his cubicle, seething with self-hatred and, more importantly, Darren-hatred, as he listened to the one sided conversation.

“Hello, sorry about that, my assistant is rather clumsy today.”….(Geoff could feel a vein in his temple throbbing)…”Yes, yes this is the crime desk, Darren Blake speaking, how may I help you?”…..”Oh, hi Stacey love, I thought I recognised that sexy voice, haha, what have you got for me?”…..”Really? And where was this?”……”You’re a star, Stacey, haven’t I always said so?”……”Hahaha, oooh, you’ll get me into trouble one of these days, you little minx. Let me buy you dinner one night, ok?”…..”Mmm, I’d love to. I’ll speak to you soon, gotta go babe, call me. Ciao Bella, mwah!”

Darren glanced over at Geoff’s cubicle, from where there came a sharp splintering noise and some muffled swearing. He frowned and snapped his fingers loudly a few times, as if summoning a particularly inattentive waiter.

“Geoff?” **snap snap**  “Geoff, I need to borrow your car, mate.” **snap snap**  “Come on, keys, I’m in a hurry.”

Geoff paused in the act of picking splinters of the pencil he’d been holding out of the palm of his hand and slowly rose from his chair, peering suspiciously over the partition at Darren, still holding his hand out impatiently.

“Come on, come on, I haven’t got all day.” **snap snap**  “That was my police contact, with a tip about a robbery over in Thornbury. I’m going over there to interview the alleged victim now and my motor has been fucking clamped, so I need yours.”

“Umm, but I was…”

“Yeah, well you’ll have to get the bus home, won’t you? This is a big story, I’m not losing out to some hack from the nationals, just because you got all precious about your bloody Citroen Picasso.”

Geoff hesitated, maybe he could reach some sort of compromise;

“How about if I drive you?” He fished the keys out of his pocket, but stopped short of handing them over.

“Nah, sorry Geoff, this is strictly need to know, old chap,” Darren took a quick step forward and snatched the keys before he had a chance to react, “confidential informants and all that, you know how it is.”

He turned to go, the camel coat flaring out dramatically from his shoulders as he pocketed Geoff’s keys, then as an afterthought, he looked back with a grin.

“Don’t forget to keep your bus ticket, you can put in a claim for travel expenses, hahaha.”

Then he was gone and Geoff was alone in the office once more.

*****

Stacey grinned to herself as she hung up the phone. She didn’t know what sort of prank her friend Mandy was pulling on that twat, Darren from the Echo, but whatever it was, he deserved it. “Ciao Bella” ? Really? What a prick.

*****

Geoff stepped through the front doors of the Evening Echo building and turned up the collar of his jacket against the drizzle, just in time to see his own car pull away from its parking space and head for the main exit. A taxi pulled up and four girls from the typing pool got out and pushed past him without even glancing in his direction, chattering and laughing together, completely unaware of his existence. He glared bitterly at their retreating figures, despising them for their happiness, turned back to the cab, then looked once more for his car and saw it was just pulling out into traffic.

Then, on the spur of the moment, feeling like a real investigative journalist for a change, he yanked open the taxi’s rear door, jumped in and held a twenty pound note over the seat to the startled driver.

“Follow that car!”

*****

Mandy stood at the window, smoking nervously and watching the gated entrance of her gravel driveway for the arrival of her guest. She was confident the call to her friend at the police station would make her pathetic excuse for an ex-husband come running, hungry for The Big Story that would make his career, and she didn’t want to miss the start of the show.

She didn’t have long to wait. Mandy was stubbing out her cigarette in an overflowing ashtray when she saw a car swing into the drive. The rain, falling more heavily now, was visible in the headlight beams as late afternoon turned to dusk and dusk, in turn, lost its battle with the gathering storm clouds, the resulting gloom filtering everything through a grey murk that reduced visibility to a few yards.

Geoff’s Citroen pulled up by the front door and Mandy frowned in irritation as he parked the wrong way round, brake lights flaring briefly through the rain. The interior light came on, she saw his silhouette lean across the seat to grab something and a few seconds later he climbed out, shrugged into that grotty old raincoat of his and hurried to reach the shelter of the porch.

*****

Darren flipped the wipers on as the drizzle turned to a steady downpour and peered through the windscreen, trying to make out road signs as he passed yet another narrow junction on the unlit country lane.
“Bloody hell, Geoff, haven’t you ever heard of SatNav, for fuck’s sake?”

He glanced down at the open notebook on the seat next to him, checking the address once more and looked up just in time to see he was approaching a crossroads. He slowed Geoff’s car to be sure he didn’t miss anything, scanning the signpost on the corner,

“Barnfield Road, yes! Thank fuck for that.”

Darren turned left and continued for another half a mile before he saw lights ahead of him, which as he got closer he realised were attached to gate posts. This looks like the place, he thought, pulling into the gateway and driving up to the large, ivy-covered house, where he parked and looked up in distaste at the shitty weather outside. Not wanting to get his expensive coat soaking wet, he took one of Geoff’s that he’d found on the back seat, picked up his notebook and stepped out into the rain.

Turning the collar up, he ran to the front door and had his foot on the first of three wide stone steps when he was grabbed violently from behind and a heavy sack was thrown over his head. Darren tried to yell for help, but a punch to the kidneys knocked the wind out of him. While he was gasping for air something was pulled roughly across his mouth, his head was yanked back as the coarse material of the sacking cut into his face and tongue and he gagged.

His attacker was not only unseen, but also silent, emitting only the occasional grunt as he easily held onto the struggling crime reporter, but then he heard another voice, shockingly close to his right ear.

“Hello, Geoff, looks like you’ve been a naughty boy, coming round here where you’re not wanted.”

The owner of the voice tutted, as if this was a personal disappointment to him and that Geoff had badly let him down.

“Except I’m not fucking Geoff!” Darren wanted to scream, but he couldn’t make anything more than choking, wheezing noises, so he just frantically shook his head and prayed this was all some kind of horrible mistake.

Then he heard a door open somewhere in front of him and a woman’s voice spoke to whoever held him.

“Take him into the barn, we don’t want a mess in the house.”

His captor’s grip loosened as he switched hands for a brief second and Darren broke free and made a run for it. He desperately sprinted away from the voices, only half-registering the sound of laughter, thinking he had to be heading away from the house and towards the road.

He thought that for about five seconds, because after that he ran into the side of Geoff’s car.

Hard.

*****

Geoff, meanwhile, was crouched in the shadow of a dripping conifer hedge halfway down the drive, having successfully tailed his own car in a taxi all the way to…Mandy’s house!

He couldn’t fucking believe it, how did Darren not know whose house this was? Her old man was in newspapers, for fuck’s sake, he attended all the press piss-ups and had even visited The Echo once as a guest of their chief executive. Some bloody crime editor he is, Geoff thought bitterly, I could do his job standing on my head.

He watched as Darren climbed out of his car and scurried to the front door.

“That’s my coat, you thieving…”

Then Geoff saw Mandy’s two brothers; a couple of gorillas in jogging suits, jumping out of the flower beds that surrounded the area in front of the house and grabbing Darren as he got to door of the porch. One of them dropped a hood over his head and gagged him, before the door opened and his ex-wife appeared.

After Darren’s abortive escape attempt had left him unconscious on the immaculate gravel, Geoff watched in horror as the gorilla twins dragged his limp body round the side of the house and into the darkened barn. A few minutes later, Mandy came out of the house and followed them inside, closing the door behind her.

*****

Mandy felt a thrill of excitement as she walked quickly through the rain to the barn; she had been waiting for this for too long not make the most of it and now it was actually happening, she wanted to savour every minute.

The door swung closed behind her and she headed to the far end of the darkened building where the small tractor and plough was parked under a circle of yellow light, cast by a single shaded bulb. It also illuminated the sad figure of Geoff, who was tied to a wooden chair, sack over his head and rope gag still in place. Mandy saw with amusement that he hadn’t got rid of that horrible old coat, which must be all of ten years old by now, but then Geoff never had been any good at buying clothes, as she had constantly pointed out to him, to no avail.

Her brothers, Derek and Kevin, were standing either side of the chair, looking very pleased with themselves indeed, so she gave them a nod of gratitude as she approached the strange little tableau; like a gangster, about to exact terrible revenge on a rival, she thought, with two of her top wise guys there to back her up.

“So, Geoff, you seem to have got yourself in a spot of bother. Why on Earth would you come round here on a night like this, when you surely knew the kind of welcome you’d get?”

At this, Geoff began to make some very odd noises and started to thrash about in his chair a fair bit, all of which Del and Kev found highly amusing and let him continue for a moment, before Kev gave him a swift back-hander round the side of the head and he toppled over. 

Right onto the upturned blade of the tractor’s folding plough.

The tip of the sharply pointed blade punched straight through sack, skin and skull as if it were no harder than the clay soil in the fields. The bound figure jerked violently for a couple of seconds, then slumped and hung, shifting with an unpleasant cracking noise as the weight of the body in the chair was preventing from reaching the ground by the steel blade buried in its head. 

Mandy stared in horror at the rapidly spreading pool of blood, more pouring from the stained sacking by the second and she tried to scream. Nothing came out except a strangled squeak and her legs buckled under her; she collapsed to her knees on the hard bricks and the last thing she saw before she was swallowed by the black pit of unconsciousness were her two brothers, being noisily sick on each other’s feet.

*****

Darren

Eeerrghh, Ow, what the fuck?  What the FUCK!?  Who was that crazy bitch?  And why did she think I was that twat, Geoff, for fuck’s sake?  I can’t fucking move…Wait, I’m fucking tied up!

“Mmmffghff drrg ghrrffff mmnggff!!”

This fucking gag, I’m going to choke, you bastards. What the fuck do they want? Wait, what’s that…footsteps?  The bitch is back, shit. 

“So, Geoff, you seem to have got yourself in a spot of bother…”

I’m not Geoff, you fucking stupid cow! Why don’t you understand, whatever you think I’ve done, I’m not him!  Look, just take off this fucking hood and you’ll…

Owww, you cu…

Oh shit, I’m falling over, catch me you bastards…

Whooaaaaa…

Crunch.

*****

Geoff ran to the door of the barn as soon as it closed behind Mandy and peered in through a knot hole. He watched events unfold, clapping a hand over his mouth to stop his cry of horror giving him away as Darren met his sudden demise, then turned and half ran, half stumbled to his car. With a sigh of relief he saw Darren had left the keys in the ignition and he simply got in and drove away.

When he was a safe distance from the house, Geoff pulled over and rested his head on the steering wheel for a moment, until he got the shaking under control. Then he made two phone calls; an anonymous one to the police and another, slightly more satisfying one to his editor, who he interrupted while he was at a press association dinner.

“This had better be bloody good, Standish, they’re just bringing out the brandy. Have you finally found your Big Story, you bloody well better have?”

“Yes sir,” said Geoff, staring out into the rainy night, “I think you could say that, yes.”

 

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Stream of consciousness Sunday: The Accumulator, part twenty…

Here we are again, wading into the unpredictable waters of SoCS, for another chapter in the continuing story of Patrick and his strange gift, today inspired by Linda G Hill and this prompt;

”  “glass.” Use the word “glass,” or find something that’s made of it and use that in your post. “

The Accumulator, part twenty.

Scene: A private hospital room. It is 9 o’clock this morning, three hours ago.

The opening shot is of white, perforated acoustic ceiling tiles, seen from the POV of someone lying in the room’s only bed. It lingers there for a few seconds and we hear the sound of distant traffic and nearby birdsong, before our host turns their head and looks to where sunlight streams into the room through a window with a view of treetops and blue sky.

We see a hand reaching for a glass of water on the nightstand and then for the first time, the voice of Subject:Beta takes over the narration;

“Today is the first day I woke up without a headache and that weird feeling in my hands hasn’t returned, which is good because that was REALLY starting to get to me. I can’t explain what it was that disturbed me so much about it, but it almost seemed alien, or…malevolent maybe? 

I know, I know, it sounds mad, but that’s what it felt like; like something was inside me, changing me somehow, something out of my control.

It must have been from the brain injury I sustained in the accident, and Dr Braithwaite did say the sensations would take a while to fade after the surgery. He seems to have been right, though, I haven’t felt as relaxed as this since…well, since I can’t remember when, really.

That’s the other strange thing; my memory was permanently damaged, so the doctors say, but I can remember everything after I woke up here, it’s my life before the accident I can’t recall. 

None of it, not a thing.

It was horribly frustrating at first, not even knowing my own name, but after Dr Braithwaite started the treatment I wasn’t anywhere near as anxious about it, (even if some of it was painful at first, especially the electric shocks) and now it doesn’t bother me at all. 

Dr Braithwaite, (he asked me call him Felix, but it didn’t seem right somehow) he told me I’m his special project and that I’m destined for great things when I’m better. I’m not sure what he meant by that, but it all sounded rather exciting.”

Now we hear the door opening and our view swings in that direction as Subject:Beta sits up in bed, to see Patrick and Cathy entering the room. 

Patrick closes the door and he and Cathy stare silently as the voiceover continues.

“I had no idea, of course, that something was about to happen to change all that. I hadn’t realised that I wasn’t the first person Felix Braithwaite had experimented on and when these two strangers walked into my room this morning, my short, newly constructed life began to fall apart.”

“Hello, my name is Patrick and this is Cathy, we’ve come to get you out of here.”

Patrick smiled as reassuringly as he could, looking down at the young man with the vivid triangular scar on his head, thinking back to what had happened to him since his own time under the care of Dr Felix Braithwaite. The wasted years spent on the run, always looking over his shoulder, the things he’d had to do in order for them to survive, the trail of death and horror that haunted his dreams; and now this one final act, the final entry on his list of crimes. 

A tide of anger rose inside him and he had to force himself to remain calm as he walked over to the bed.

“What do you mean, get me out of here?” 

The young man known as Subject:Beta sounded nervous. He swung his legs off the bed and planted his feet on the cold tiled floor

“Did Dr Braithwaite send you?”

“Braithwaite? No, we’re here to save you from him, but we need your help.”

“Save me, what are you talking about? Dr Braithwaite saved my life, I don’t need saving from him, who are you?”

Without waiting for an answer, the young man lunged for the alarm next to the bed and was fumbling for the switch when Patrick caught hold of his wrist and tore his hand away.

“Listen to me! Felix Braithwaite isn’t who you think he is, he’s an evil bastard who wants to use you as a guinea pig for his twisted experiments, but with your help, we can stop him.”

“You’re mad, get away from me!”

“It’s true,” Cathy looked nervously at the door, worried their voices would attract the guards outside, “I used to work for him, he doesn’t care about you, he’s only interested in getting you to work for him.”

“Working for him, doing what?”

“Killing people, that’s what.” 

“We don’t have time for this. I’m sorry, it’s the only way.”

With that, he closed his eyes and focussed all his concentration on the young man whose wrist he still held. Cathy watched as Patrick went completely still and his face took on a tense expression, then his body suddenly jerked and Subject:Beta cried out in pain, falling to his knees at Patrick’s feet. Still Patrick clung to his arm, veins beginning to stand out on his forehead as he channeled all the terrible power he’d accumulated in preparation for this moment into Dr Felix Braithwaite’s latest abomination. Then he started to change, the strain of storing all that destructive energy finally extracting its awful toll on his body. 

His skin became taut and grey, his shoulders slumped and his legs buckled, even his hair took on a brittle and wispy look as he reached for the nightstand to support himself for the last few seconds, before falling to his knees beside the shocked young man, releasing him from his death like grip and finally collapsing, unconscious

“What happened? What has he done to me?”

*****

To be continued (using next week’s prompt {which can now be found HERE)…

#SoCS

Pingback to Linda G Hill.

 

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Stream of consciousness Sunday: The Accumulator, part nineteen…

Another weekend, another trip down Stream of consciousness Saturday Sunday without a paddle, this week using Linda G Hill’s prompt to continue this story by including;

” A word that starts with “P.” Find a word that begins with the letter “p,” and make it the theme of your post. Bonus points for starting and ending your post with a “p” word. ” 

No problem…

The Accumulator, part nineteen.

Scene: Patrick and Cathy’s car. They are sitting in rush hour traffic, travelling to the hospital. It is this morning.

08.07 – Patrick looks at his watch for the third time in ten minutes and groans in frustration, craning his neck to see past the line of cars, as Cathy pats his arm reassuringly.

“We’ve got plenty of time, don’t worry, I don’t start until nine.”

“Yes, but I want to make sure we’re in time for the changing of the guard.”

Patrick drums his fingers on the wheel, leans back in his seat and tries to relax. Then the car in front moves a few more miserable yards and stops, so he releases the handbrake with a sigh of resignation and they roll ever so slightly closer to their destiny, as we hear Patrick’s narration for the final time;

“We were so close to the end now, I could almost taste it, so the traffic really wasn’t helping my nerves, but Cathy didn’t seem the least bit concerned. It was her plan, after all, maybe that was why she was so chilled out about it all.

It was a simple enough idea; obtain a hospital security pass; (the sort of thing we’d been doing for nearly ten years in order to stay one step ahead of The Department, anyway) get me into the building under the guise of a visiting psychologist; (Cathy had earlier intercepted a letter intended for the real “Dr Maddox” and I was keeping his appointment for him) then walk into Subject:Beta’s room in plain sight, so to speak.

What I was going to do when I got in there was still rather vague and dependent on several unknown factors, but of one thing I was certain; for either myself or Dr Felix Braithwaite, this was very much the end of the line.”

Patrick’s voiceover ends as the traffic starts moving again, but our perspective remains fixed, watching the retreating tailgate of the car in front, until Patrick pulls forward and the rear windscreen appears to pass straight through us, then the camera rises slowly and cars pass beneath us, heading into the city to begin another day and the shot fades to…

Scene: A hospital corridor. The camera shows us a straight on view of two uniformed guards, stationed on chairs either side of the door to a private room, one fiddling with his phone and the other dozing, a newspaper on his lap.

Cut to…

08.55  – Double doors at one end of the corridor open and two more of the private security operatives head towards us.

Cut to…

The guard with the phone kicks his sleeping partner’s foot, waking the man with a start, who looks round blearily and quickly tries to shake himself into alertness as he sees their replacements coming towards him.

Cut to…

Patrick and Cathy, both dressed in white hospital coats; Patrick, with the obligatory stethoscope hanging from his pocket, a clipboard in one hand, a bulky file under his arm and an official hospital laminate round his neck, looks every inch the consultant specialist he is impersonating. They are watching “the changing of the guard” as Patrick had called it, from the doors at the opposite end of the corridor.

We watch through a round window in the door as the four men chat for a few seconds; one looks briefly into his client’s room, then the new arrivals bid farewell to their colleagues, who disappear the way the others came, before they take up position outside the door.

“Right, I think that’s our cue, are you ready?”

A whole swarm of butterflies do frantic somersaults in Cathy’s stomach, but she just smiles tightly and nods.

“Yes, let’s go get ’em..”

Patrick grins back, gives her hand a quick squeeze and pushes open the door.

Cut to…

We see Patrick and Cathy come down the corridor and stop as the reach the guards, both of whom stand up as they approach.

“Yes, can I help you?”

“Yes, I’m Dr Maddox, I’ve come to examine the patient. I have all the paperwork here somewhere.” 

Patrick produces the letter of introduction they intercepted, which the guard examines, along with his pass, while Cathy smiles sweetly at his partner until he seems satisfied they are legitimate.

“Wait here.”

The one who checked them over goes into the room, closing the door behind him. Patrick nods at the other guard amicably and receives a blank stare in return, so he turns to Cathy.

“Nurse, has the patient had any further sensory distortion, since Dr Braithwaite removed his dressing yesterday?”

“No, doctor, he seems a lot more comfortable and his headache appears to have receded completely.”

“That’s good, we’ll have to see…”

Patrick stops as the door opens and the guard returns.

“You can go in now.”

“Thank you, most grateful. We will need to take him to the CT imaging department later, could you arrange for a porter, do you think?”

“We aren’t on the hospital staff, sir, you’ll have to make your own arrangements, I’m afraid,” he looks at Patrick disdainfully, “and you won’t be going anywhere without us, that’s for sure.”

“Ok, thank you anyway, we’ll make our own arrangements, as you say.”

With that, Patrick nods his thanks to the stony-faced sentries, Cathy opens the door and they step into the room to discover the final part of the puzzle.

**********

To be continued (using next week’s prompt {which can now be found HERE})…

#SoCS

Pingback to Linda G Hill.

 

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Stream of consciousness Sunday: The Accumulator, part eighteen…

Time once again to dive into the murky waters of Stream of consciousness Saturday Sunday, to see what inspiration Linda G Hill has left us, prompting the next installment of Patrick’s strange tale;

” “coat.” Use it any way you’d like. “

Ah, a nice easy one, ok…

The Accumulator, part eighteen.

Scene: A hospital. The opening shot is a long slow glide down a bustling corridor; double doors swing open ahead of us as we float past a busy nurses station and hear the sound of talking and laughter; a weary looking intern sits reading a newspaper while sipping coffee from a plastic cup; we drift through a waiting area filled with patients, orderlies and junior doctors, into a quieter section with private rooms, where the white coated staff hurry about their duties with silent dedication.

It is yesterday.

The camera slows its advance and turns to the left, gliding us smoothly to a halt as we draw level with the open doorway of a private room.  

Now the view swings downward, to show us a medical chart on a clipboard, which we realise is held in the hand of the person whose perspective we are sharing. The chart belongs to someone called simply, Subject:Beta.

Having consulted the chart, we are transported into the room by our unseen host and we see the young man who survived the car crash; head still bandaged from his surgery, he is sitting up in bed reading a book, which he closes and places on the bedside table as the visitor enters. We see the hand holding the clipboard reach out, hanging it on the foot of the bed and, as the figure turns to inspect a medical monitor, we catch sight of his face, reflected in the screen of a digital display.

The man is Dr Felix Braithwaite.

The camera zooms in on the reflection of Dr Braithwaite’s face, until the edges of the display screen move out of shot and we see him in close up for a second. Then the shot widens and we see the director has done some fancy editing and we are now seeing the doctor from a new perspective and can watch the scene unfold from our own point of view.

“So, how are you feeling today?”

Felix favours his patient with a benevolent smile and moves closer to the bed. 

“I have a headache, but the dizziness has gone and the strange feeling in my hands hasn’t come back.”

“Well that’s a good sign, the headache is merely a result of the surgery and will soon recede, but I’ll prescribe some painkillers to make you more comfortable. Now, let’s take a look and see how you’re healing, we should be able to have those bandages off today, I think.”

The doctor takes care to check the young man is wearing his gloves, before leaning over and gently starting to unwind the gauzy ribbon from around his shaven head, revealing a neat triangular scar, one corner two inches above each eyebrow, the third in the centre of his skull.

“Hmm, that looks like it’s healing nicely. The scar will fade considerably of course and your hair should completely cover it when it grows back.”

“Thank you, doctor, but what about these?” 

Subject:Beta holds up his leather-clad hands and turns them this way and that, studying them as if for the first time. 

“When can I remove my gloves, my hands feel ok now, do I really still need them?”

“I’m afraid so, yes, the gloves are a precaution, nothing more, but I’d rather you were safe than sorry. It won’t be for much longer, I assure you, so just be patient and you’ll be out of here before you know it.” Felix Braithwaite smiles, but the smile doesn’t touch his eyes, which are cold and hard. “Then our work can really begin in earnest.”

***********

To be continued (using next week’s prompt {which can now be found HERE})…

#SoCS

Pingback to Linda G Hill.

 

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