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March of the Internet Nobody, day four: Sender…

For the fourth time I’m going forth, on my quest to bring my forte to the fore, and I’ve decided to try a short story, so here goes…

Sender.

The first thing he felt, as he came round from whatever they’d stuck him with on the bridge, was a heavy weight on his legs, pinning him down. He did a slow inventory of body parts and decided that he was more or less in one piece, but couldn’t move his legs or right arm. His outstretched left arm, he could move freely enough, albeit only a short distance before his fingers encountered something that felt like cheap carpet. It was dark, although he could see a flicking orange light, coming from somewhere above or behind him, it was difficult to tell, he was still badly disoriented and was having trouble making sense of where he was.

His right arm was pinned against his side, by whatever obstruction had immobilized his legs, so he explored as far as he could with his left hand; thumping the carpeted surface with his fist produced a hollow, vaguely metallic sound and he found a strap of some sort with a square metal buckle on the end. 

Aha, trapped legs, seatbelt, cheap carpet; I’ve been in a car crash.

He was becoming more aware of his surroundings by the minute, as the fog in his brain cleared and now he realised he could smell petrol. More worryingly, he could smell something burning nearby, the acrid fumes of melting plastic making him cough and bringing tears to his eyes. Again he tried to move his legs, achieving nothing more than straining muscles and making red spots dance in front of his eyes, so he forced himself to calm down. Then he had a horrible thought and twisted awkwardly, reaching his free arm across his body, the restricted movement just allowing him to feel the hard lump of the thumb drive in his jacket pocket. He relaxed, at least they hadn’t found that yet.

Which was when he noticed that sound was coming back and it was then that it occurred to him; his world had been cloaked in silence since he’d awoken here and it was only now that his hearing was returning. He heard the unmistakable crackling of a fire behind him and a muffled voice was now audible from somewhere overhead.

“Hello, is anyone in there, are you ok? Hello, hello, can you hear me?”

“Hey!” 

He pounded once more on what he guessed must be the floor of the overturned vehicle, desperate to attract the attention of whoever was outside.

“I’m in here!”

He paused to listen for a second or two and hearing nothing, was about to begin yelling again when the voice of a child was suddenly, shockingly close to his right ear. 
“It’s ok, I can see you now.”

He turned his head to the side, noticing for the first time a small triangular hole where the door frame was crushed, through which, by the wavering orange light of the flames he saw the wide-eyed face of a little girl. She gazed at him with her head on one side, frowning with an intensity he found slightly unnerving, so he smiled reassuringly and tried again.

“Hello, are your mummy and daddy here?”

The little girl, no older than ten years old, remained silent, looking him straight in the eye.

“You shouldn’t be near the fire, it’s dangerous, can you call your parents for me?”

“Are you going to die? You are, aren’t you?” 

He was shocked at the causal way she asked the question, her voice was cold, detached. Then he realised she was probably in shock; maybe the vehicle he had been travelling in had collided with her parents’ car and they were laying injured somewhere like him.

“I need you to find another grown-up, I need help getting free from the car.”

“There’s only me.”

He looked at her face, she didn’t seem injured at all, but there was something..off..about the emotionless voice and quizzical stare.

“Do you have a phone?”

“No, there’s only me, there isn’t anyone else.”

She looked up, her face disappearing from his line of sight for a few seconds, then she turned back to him and inspected the gap in the door. She grabbed the edge of the window frame and gave it an experimental tug. The door moved a couple of inches with a groan of twisted metal but then stuck fast against the tarmac and refused to budge when she heaved on it the second time.

Suddenly there was a roaring WHUMP! noise from the rear of the vehicle and the orange glow instantly rose to a bright glare, illuminating the girl’s face as she stared into his eyes.

“I can’t save you, I’m sorry.”

He wrenched at his trapped legs in frustration, desperately twisting this way and that in a vain attempt to escape a fiery death, then the sound of the flames rose to a roar and he stopped struggling and made his final decision. Looking at the strangely calm little girl’s face, he reached into his jacket and removed the thumb drive and held it out to her.

“You must go now, the car is going to blow up, you must run away, you understand? Take this, take it, that’s right. Can you remember a name for me, just one name?”

“Yes, I have a very good memory.”

The girl’s face breaks into a broad smile, one of her top teeth is missing, he notices, as the flames bathe her in their unforgiving light, making her grin lopsided.

“Take this, it’s for a man called Fallon, Mike Fallon, he works for the government, can you remember that?”

A loud hissing noise starts to rise in volume behind him and he knows the tank is about to go, but now he feels unnaturally calm, resigned to his fate.

“You must go, now. Remember; Mike Fallon, ask a grown-up, maybe they can get policeman to help find him. Now, RUN!

He lies back and closes his eyes, he’d done all he could do, he’d made peace with it and now he waited for the end without fear.

Something is…what the..?..how..?

He opened his eyes and gasped in shock.

He was lying on a hard metal table, topped with cheap carpet, the sort you might find in a car, perhaps. A wide metal plate was clamped across his legs and a strap held one arm tightly against his side. A chair was placed next to the bed, but other than that, the room was empty.

He heard a noise behind him and twisted his neck round, straining painfully to see who was there.

“Who’s there, where am I?”

 “It’s only me, don’t you worry.”

He craned his neck still further and saw the little girl with the gap-toothed smile, opening a door in the room’s blank white wall. She held up the thumb drive and grinned again, but this time it didn’t look so sweet.

“Mike Fallon, you said? Thank you so much, I’m sure everyone will be very pleased, they were jolly keen to know who had been naughty.”

With that she stepped out of the room and closed the door.

*****

In a darkened observation room next door, two men watched the bewildered agent in satisfaction as he struggled against his restraints. Then, as two large men dressed in black fatigues entered the room and approached the table, he started to shout and swear furiously and one of the watchers leant over and turned off the monitor. 

“Very impressive, how did she manage it?”

“The girl’s a Sender, she can put pretty much anything in your head and make you believe it, we have had some exceptional results from her.”

“And him, what will he remember of all this?”

“Oh, you shouldn’t concern yourself with such things, sir Malcolm. Now, shall we have a spot of lunch?”

***********

 

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

Today we return to this story after a week off and I’m ready to dive back into the fast flowing waters of SoCS, assisted by Linda G Hill and this prompt;

” “how.” Start your post with the word “How.” Bonus points if you end with it too. “

How am I going to manage that? We’ll have to wait and see…

The Accumulator, part twenty four.

Howard

Only a few weeks previously, in a life that was forever lost to him, the young man now known simply as Subject:Beta had been a promising recruit in army intelligence and his name had been Howard Grainger. 

Howard would never know this of course; Felix Braithwaite and men like Endicott had rebooted his entire personality from scratch, providing him with an elaborate and deeply embedded backstory he believed so completely, that it would stand up to the most rigorous interrogation techniques. 

As far as he was knew, he was an orphan with no immediate family and he had recently survived a nasty accident (technically true, but only because The Department had engineered the car crash which had killed both his parents, leaving him alive and in the hands of Dr Braithwaite) before which he had lived the quite and unassuming life of a city office worker. Obviously the terrible injuries he’d sustained in the accident had damaged his memory, and although the doctors had been helping him to piece together his past, Felix had warned him against dwelling too much on the past and had suggested he look to the exciting future ahead of him and build a new life. 

A clean slate, that’s what he’d said, a fresh start.

Which was all very well if you had something to start with, but he had nothing and nobody, he was on the run from almost everyone and the only one who seemed to have any idea what was going on was the mysterious man who had come to see him, the one Howard was afraid he’d hurt very badly when he’d collapsed earlier this morning.

Now, nearly three hours later, Howard/Subject:Beta is crouched behind some boxes in the back of a laundry truck parked at the loading dock behind the hospital, listening to security guards shouting to each other in the parking lot and praying they have already searched the truck. Apparently they have and after five minutes or so he hears a door slam and all is quiet once more. He waits, listening for signs of further activity and then cautiously emerges from his hiding place with a mission clear in his mind. 

He will have to get back inside and talk to the mystery man, to find out what he knows, he just has to work out how…

*****

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…

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

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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

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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

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Stream of consciousness Sunday: The Accumulator, part seventeen…

Welcome to the first 2017 edition of SoCS, wherein Linda G Hill provides us with the inspiration to continue this story by leaving us this prompt;

” “first/last.” Use one or both words, or find words that mean the same. Bonus points if you start your post with “first/beginning/start” etc. and end with “last/end” “

Well, if you insist…

The Accumulator, part seventeen.

Scene: Starting from high above the Earth, the camera plummets down through ragged tendrils of cloud, breaking out into bright sunshine and continuing down towards an urban sprawl that stands out like a scar against the green patchwork of the countryside. Our rapid descent slows as individual streets become visible and levels out until it feels as if we’re speeding along above a quiet housing estate. It is two weeks ago.

The camera sweeps along the street from our high vantage point, dropping below the level of the rooftops and slowing as it turns to face the neat gardens and gravel drives of a middle class neighborhood; finally coming to a halt opposite a house indistinguishable from the rest and zooming in to a window on the ground floor.

The shot carries us magically through the double glazing without so much as a scratch and we find ourselves in a modern fitted kitchen, where Patrick and Cathy are seated at the breakfast bar, drinking coffee.

The camera floats straight past our heroes, however, heading out of the kitchen and making a slow circuit of the property, showing us a comfortable house that has a lived-in look. As we take a look round, Patrick’s voiceover returns, narrating over images of mundane domesticity.

“So, here we are in our latest home; we’ve become suburbanites as you can tell, in accordance with our policy of “blending in”, but it’s taken us a while to get here.

Since we fled our sanctuary in continental Europe, quite a bit has happened, although I’m not sure you need to know all the ins and outs of how we got here. Suffice to say, I employed a similar method of commandeering the property of nefarious ne’er-do-wells and illicit entrepreneurs as I had on our arrival in France, amassing quite a decent little war chest in just a few months. 

We reintegrated ourselves back into English society without any problems; the polite young career couple in search of rented accommodation is so ubiquitous a demographic these days, I doubt the letting agent even bothered to check our carefully faked references. 

We both got dull, nine to five jobs as soon as we had a postal address to send applications from; opened bank accounts under our newly manufactured identities; spent unremarkable amounts of money on our credit cards at unremarkable high street retailers; made casual acquaintances amongst our unremarkable neighbours and work colleagues and generally disappeared into the background of suburban life for over a year.

All the time we were alert for signs of the enemy’s unseen tentacles, stirring just beneath the surface of everyday life, waiting to emerge from the shadows and snatch us back into the dark underworld we had worked so hard to escape. We installed a powerful computer system in the basement, (ostensibly for use in my job as a graphic designer) which we used to scan the press, tv news and internet for clues to their spreading influence, keeping track of destabilized regions of the world, noting the rise in coups and assassinations and looking for connections between suspicious, mysterious or unsolved murders and sudden new political appointments. It took us nearly nine months of patient digging, but two days ago all our hard work eventually paid off and we started to plan our revenge. 

Cathy had been working at the private hospital our investigations had led us to, using her past experience (and some more “creative” references) to get herself a transfer to their psychiatric ward, where she had been working with an amnesia patient. About a month ago she heard rumours that the young man had been held in isolation since being admitted, having been the only survivor of a car crash. The circumstances of the otherwise fatal accident had drawn the attention of a private firm of “security consultants”, who’s client had requested that a sentry was posted outside his room at all times, only permitting nursing staff to enter whilst chaperoned by one of the armed guards.

Her nameless patient had been in an induced coma for three weeks, recovering from emergency surgery on a serious head injury, before Cathy was even permitted to attend to him without one of the silent watchmen looking over her shoulder; but two days ago, on the first day she was alone with him, something happened that told her our search was over.”

By now, the roaming camera has returned to the kitchen and we see Cathy and Patrick in earnest conversation, a laptop open on the counter in front of them.

“…so I was plugging in his drip, when his eyes snapped open and he looked straight at me! It scared the shit out of me, I tell you, but not as much as it did when I saw his hands.”

Cathy turns to Patrick with a tense look of excitement on her face.
“I hadn’t noticed them before, they were hidden under the sheet, but he shot his arm out, grabbed my wrist and stared right at me, and he was wearing black leather gloves.” 

He stared at her, feeling the blood pounding in his temples, not daring to hope that this was what it seemed.

“Are you sure they weren’t just for protection, maybe he was burned or something?”

But he knew that wasn’t it, he knew they had finally found what they had been looking for all this time. And, if there had been any doubt, Cathy dispelled it with her next words;

“But that’s not all; I read his chart, I saw who his doctor was. Patrick, the surgeon who performed the operation, it was Felix Braithwaite!”

Patrick leant over the remains of breakfast, kissed Cathy on the forehead and smiled with satisfaction.

“At last, I think our mission might be coming to an end.”

**********

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

#SoCS

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Stream of consciousness (not)Sunday: The Accumulator, part sixteen…

Yeah, yeah, I know. 
Because; Christmas, ok?

Anyway, here we are once again, to see what Linda G Hill has left us to inspire this last week’s SoCS post, in which we continue with this peculiar tale

And the prompt is;

” “cook.” Find a word that means “cook,” (or use “cook” itself) and use it any way you’d like. “

Let’s get going, then…

The Accumulator, part sixteen.

Scene: Interior of Patrick’s wrecked Renault hatchback. The opening shot is a close up of the shattered, opaque widescreen, slowly pulling back and turning 180° to show Patrick and Cathy, dazed but uninjured in the front seats. It is two years ago.

“Bloody hell, Patrick, you could have given me a bit of warning…”

“Never mind that, are you alright?” Without waiting for an answer, Patrick continues, “Quick, we need to move, can you open your door ok?”

Cathy gives him a look that promises further discussion at a later date, but says nothing and instead twists round to try the handle of her door. She has to shove all her weight against it a couple of times, but it finally comes free with a protesting creak and sags open on bent hinges. Patrick has more trouble forcing his door; most of the impact was absorbed by his side of the car and the driver’s side door is badly crumpled. After only a few seconds attempting to escape that way, he gives up and turns to Cathy.

“Right, quickly now, out you get, I’ve got to climb over your side.”

“I’m trying, my belt is stuck.” 

Cathy is tugging ineffectively at her seatbelt, which seems to be wedged into its anchor point, jammed by the sharp force of the crash, when they hear signs of movement from the BMW, then a voice, shockingly close.

“Hey, Carl…Carl?” A pause, followed by heavy breathing, then; “Shit. Stupid, cocky little bastard, seatbelts not good enough for you? Think you’re fucking indestructible don’t you, you youngsters..?” 

The voice trails off and is replaced by more sounds of  creaking metal, presumably Carl’s unseen friend trying to extricate himself from the wrecked vehicle. Patrick, having by now freed her jammed seatbelt, silently motions for Cathy to get out and awkwardly clambers over the seats to follow her.

As he slithers out onto the road and straightens up beside Cathy, Patrick notices her stare is fixed on the BMW and he turns to follow her gaze. The passenger, a man in his late forties dressed in a smart suit, with a smear of blood across his forehead and the beginnings of a nasty black eye, looks straight at them from behind ruined windscreen, just visible through the web of cracks that radiate from the driver’s side, where a blood red circle and a bulge in the shattered glass suggests someone else wasn’t quite so fortunate.

Patrick moves quickly, heading for the BMW driver’s door as the passenger tries once again to free himself, yanking desperately on his door handle until Patrick draws level with the car, then he gives up and makes a break for the rear seats, presumably with the intention of escaping through the back door. But he’s too slow; Patrick leans in through the open window and, pausing only to clasp the wrist of the dead driver, (there isn’t any need to check the state of his health, the crushed skull and glassy staring eyes are sufficient evidence of his demise) he reaches past the body and grabs the fleeing man’s ankle as he contorts himself in a frantic attempt to evade an equally unpleasant fate. 

“Don’t move! I mean it, I’ll send you the same way as your friend here if you keep struggling.”

The terrified man reluctantly ceases to resist, leaving him in the undignified position of being halfway across the back seat of the car with his backside in the air and one leg still stretched into the front, which Patrick is still tightly gripping by the ankle. Patrick carefully unlocks the door with his free hand, then changes his grip so that he can open it fully and push the broken and bloody corpse onto the road whilst continuing to keep hold of the one remaining man from The Department who was actually of some use to them.

“Now, I’d like to think we can be civilised about this and I’m not going to have to kill you,” he smiles as the man looks back at him and nods with a panicked expression, “although I’m perfectly happy to do so if you’re planning on being difficult, it’s already been a bit of a stressful day and I’m about at the end of my tether.”

“Hey, I’m just a foot soldier, I don’t get paid enough to do the selfless acts of sacrifice, I’m not going to give you any trouble, trust me.”

“Trust you? I don’t think so, but I’m sure we can come to a mutually beneficial arrangement,” he grins at the man’s look of relief, “one in which we are allowed to go peacefully on our way and you remain the same shape you are now, with all your bodily fluids on the inside.”

Then Patrick catches a flash of something shiny and metallic, clipped to other man’s belt under his jacket and he turns to Cathy, who has been watching events from a safe distance and points to the opposite side of the car.

“Cathy, go round and open the back door; don’t worry, our friend isn’t going to cause you any trouble.” She hesitates and he jerks his head in that direction, “Go on, I’ve got him, you’ll be fine.”

Cathy cautiously approaches the rear of the BMW, taking a wide berth around the driver’s body and opens the door. She stares in at the man, who looks extremely uncomfortable as he tries to support his upper body on his arms while Patrick holds his leg up in the air, leaving him defenceless. He stares back at her and waits to see what Patrick has in store for him.

He isn’t in suspense for long.

“Right, if you lift up his jacket I think you’ll find a pair of handcuffs on his belt.” 

Patrick looks at her encouragingly until she shrugs and leans into the car, keeping her eyes on the man’s face as she feels for the cuffs. As her fingers find the smooth metal she glances at the strap holding them to his belt just long enough to remove them, then quickly steps back and lets out a breath she hasn’t been aware of holding and looks at Patrick with a shaky grin.

“Easy. Now what?”

“Cuff his hands to the headrest.”

“Right, ok…” 

Cathy leans back into the car and is just reaching for the man’s wrist when she stops and turns at the noise of what sounds like someone slapping the back of the driver’s seat. She stares at the small round hole, six inches from the end of her nose for maybe three seconds, a puzzled frown beginning to form on her face, then the man from The Department breaks his silence.

“Shit, they’ve found us!” Hey, please, you’ve got to…”

The next bullet comes through the rear window, right next to the man’s head. He jerks sharply as the high velocity round removes a large chunk of his skull, spraying Cathy with a fine mist of blood, then goes limp. But, trapped between the two seats as he is, his body has nowhere to go and it hangs there like some sort of gruesome hunting trophy as Cathy screams and Patrick reels from the savage burst of energy that pours into him, from his contact with the dead man’s skin.

Apparently not content with killing their own man once, whoever is shooting at them puts two more bullets into his lifeless body, making Patrick think that these are either different armed lunatics trying to kill them, or very ruthless men who can’t get a good angle to shoot from and are hoping to shoot through him to get to them.

Reluctantly deciding that the second option is the more likely of the two, Patrick grabs Cathy’s arm and drags her down and away from the car, leaning back against the steep bank at side of the road, hopefully out of the line of fire, for now at least.

Cathy is staring blankly at nothing, her face splashed with gore and in her hair there are globs of something probably best not examined too closely. Patrick carefully picks out most of the squishiest bits and turns her unresisting head to face him, so he can wipe as much of her face as possible with his rumpled handkerchief.

“Cathy. Cathy, can you hear me?”

She doesn’t even blink.

Patrick sighs, shakes his head, then takes a step back from her.

“Sorry about this, babe.” 

Then he slaps her. Hard. Him slapping her in the middle of the road seems to have become their thing.

Her reaction isn’t the one he expects; she barely moves, just sways slightly and slowly brings a hand up to touch the red mark on her face. Then her eyes gradually swim back into focus and the slack expression fades, replaced by a worn out but aware look which he is relieved to see, despite the pain he sees in her face.

“Why are they doing this, why can’t they just leave us alone?” 

Her voice is small and tired, but there is a spark of anger there, too and that’s good for him to see, it means that his Cathy is still in there, just temporarily subdued by the sudden horror.

“I don’t know, but we’ll never find out if we stay here. We’re going to have to find more transport and it’s got to be soon, I doubt it’ll take long for them to get another couple of goons here.”

“The club.”

Patrick is about to ask what she means when he remembers the country club. They had passed the entrance to the exclusive private golf club and hotel as they raced down the hill and it couldn’t be more than a hundred and fifty yards back up the road. Cathy had applied for a job there as a cook when they were first trying to establish themselves in the area, but her culinary skills weren’t up to their sous chef’s standards and she didn’t even get a response to her interview, snobby bastards.

“Yeah, good idea, let’s move.”

He looks at her to check she’s really ok, or at least as ok as she could be, after getting plastered with someone else’s brains, then takes her hand in his and keeping below the hedge line for the first few yards, they hurry up the hill in search of a replacement getaway car.

The camera tracks the fugitive pair as they disappear round a bend in the road, then swings back round to focus on the site of the crash.

At this point, the director does one of those fancy multi-layered cross-fade sequences to indicate the passage of time;

Fade; a motorist appears, jumps out of his car and runs towards the BMW, but stops in horror and runs back to his vehicle, punching numbers on his mobile phone…

Fade; the first police car arrives, two officers cautiously approach the wreckage, guns drawn, until they are close enough to see the carnage inside…

Fade; the forensic teams turn up, white-suited and paper-masked and start marking out the crime scene…

Fade; the detectives finally arrive, picking through the detritus of violence and trying to piece together events…

And over the images, we hear Patrick’s measured voiceover;

“We found a nice little Alpha Romeo that some entitled dickhead had left the keys in, on the first try at the golf club, then just drove out past the valet parking guy, he even gave us a cheery wave as we left. After that we took the back roads up into the hills and headed north, stopping overnight at a campsite to rest, before continuing on to the ferry port at Roscoff the following morning; (I had made a point of obtaining ‘genuine’ passports for us both, at considerable cost, to replace the stolen Department credentials, soon after we settled in France and we had become used to carrying them at all times, in case of emergency situations such as this).

The time to hide had ended, it was time to go back into the lions den…”

On screen, the shot slowly widens, camera rising up higher and higher, the busy crime scene falling away below as Concarneau comes into view; the old walled town jutting out into the harbour where the sunshine glitters on the blue water as the scene

Fades to black.

***********

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

#SoCS

Pingback (finally) to Linda G Hill.

 

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