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

Time to continue this strange tale, as part of SoCS, this week using the inspiration provided by Linda G Hill and this prompt;

” “project.” Use it as a verb, a noun, or both. “

Right, let’s get this show on the road…

The Accumulator, part twenty five.

Scene: The nurses station of a hospital ICU. It is two days later.

The camera executes a slow, dramatic 360° pan around the bustling lobby as we see; a circular reception desk staffed by civilian administrators and nurses, a team of paramedics rushing past with a stretcher, a group of doctors consulting medical charts, a seating area where anxious relatives wait for news of loved ones and, incongruous amongst all the white coats, two uniformed and armed police officers, standing guard outside a private room a little way down one of the four corridors that converge here.

After completing a full circuit of the lobby, the camera glides down the main corridor until it reaches a door marked Stairs and as we draw level the door opens and we see Cathy, dressed in her nurse’s uniform, cautiously look both ways down the passageway then duck back inside. A second later the door opens again and Cathy re-emerges, this time with a little more difficulty as she is pushing a wheelchair. 

Cathy leaves the chair by the door to the stairs and walks to the nurses station where she makes small talk with a couple of orderlies while making herself a coffee in the small kitchen area. After a few minutes one of the orderlies looks down as a beeper goes off on his belt, checks the message and nudges his colleague. The pair drain their drinks and toss the cups in the trash before leaving as Cathy glances at her watch before turning her attention to the police sentries.

Having studied their routine for the last two days, she’s fairly confident that…Yes, here he goes…one of them will go on a lunch run to the canteen, Cathy’s one window of opportunity.

Not even waiting for him to reach the bank of elevators, which will take the policeman down the two floors he needs to get to the canteen, Cathy hurries back to where she left the wheelchair and quickly ducks through the door into the stairwell. This time however, the camera goes after her and we follow Cathy, crossing the landing and unhesitatingly punching the red EMERGENCY button next to the fire escape, immediately setting off the hospital’s alarm system.

She goes to collect the wheelchair and heads quickly but calmly back to the lobby, turning the corner to see the single police sentry looking concerned and alert, hand on the butt of his sidearm as he scans the corridor for danger. 

Cathy keeps walking and smiles nervously, slowing down as she passes him, nodding back the way she has come.

“Some drama going on down there, I expect that’s where you friend is, is it?”

“I’m sorry?”

“Oh it’s none of my business, of course, I just thought that since you were on your own, maybe your partner was dealing with the security breach.”

“Security breach?” 

He seems unsure, but the alarm still sounds and hospital staff are going through emergency procedures, so he comes to a decision and looks at Cathy.

“You’re the one who treats him aren’t you?” He jerks a thumb at the closed door he’s guarding and she nods, “Keep an eye on him, don’t let anyone in, I’ll be two minutes.”

Without waiting for a reply, he sprints off towards the lobby and vanishes round a corner, which Cathy takes as her cue to proceed. She opens the door to Patrick’s room, pushes the wheelchair inside and we watch the door slowly swing shut. 

The camera remains steadily focussed on the closed door for about fifteen seconds, during which time we see a couple of nurses walk past, then the door opens and Cathy appears, pushing a figure in the wheelchair. It is apparent to any casual observer that the patient has suffered terrible injuries, since his entire head is swathed in bandages, with only small slits for his eyes, nose and mouth and with the hands tightly bandaged it suggests they are a burns victim.

Cathy wheels her silent charge along the corridor to the elevators, where she stands waiting for what feels like forever, her heart pounding in her chest, until the doors slide open and she pushes Patrick inside. 

The shot stays fixed on the elevators and we see Cathy and Patrick facing us from inside the one on the left, as the doors on the right also slide open. We see the second policeman stepping out of the right-hand elevator, carrying a tray of food and drink and he steps out into the corridor as the doors of Cathy and Patrick’s elevator slide closed.

The scene cuts to the interior of the elevator, where we see Patrick standing up and tugging at the bandages on his hands, as Cathy unwraps the ones from around his head. Cathy then pulls a doctor’s white coat and stethoscope from the back of the wheelchair and Patrick shrugs into it just as the elevator stops and the doors open onto the ground floor reception area.

Leaving the wheelchair and the pile of bandages in the elevator, they stroll casually across the lobby towards the main entrance and step out into the sunshine, where Cathy lets out a sigh of relief. She takes Patrick’s hand and turns to him as they walk quickly away from the hospital.

“So, what now?”

“Now? Now we have to put a stop to Dr Felix Braithwaite’s final science project.”

**********

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 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)…

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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 {which can now be found HERE})…

#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)…

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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 (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

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Stream of consciousness Sunday: The Accumulator, part fourteen…

Time once again for Linda G Hill to provide us with inspiration for SoCS, enabling me to continue with this slowly evolving story, by using the prompt;

” “bear/bare.” Use one, use both, use ’em any way you please. “

Come on then, let’s see what happens…

The Accumulator, part fourteen.

Scene: A busy café, Concarneau, northern France. Tables with parasols are arranged outside in the street, most of them occupied by families of camera-toting tourists. It is two years ago.

The camera angle changes to face the opposite direction, giving a view of the medieval walled town in the harbour. Holidaymakers stroll back and forth across the drawbridge, the only access to the fortified island, wearing their bare, sunburned skin like a badge of honour.

We are observing this pleasant seaside scene from the POV of a café patron at one of the pavement tables, a fact which becomes obvious when a hand reaches into shot for the cigarette that smoulders in a glass ashtray.

As the hand picks up the cigarette and brings it toward the camera, the angle changes once more we see that the hand holding it belongs to Patrick; relaxed and tanned, dressed in a white cotton shirt, navy blue shorts and white espadrilles, he looks every inch the local resident, an impression that is reinforced when he beckons to a passing waiter and places his order in impeccable French.

The waiter vanishes into the café and Patrick takes a final drag on his cigarette and stubs it out, just as his mobile phone rings, vibrating against the tabletop. 

“Hello. Yes, I’m here, but there’s no rush…….Yeah, that’s fine, I’ll be there,” he looks at his watch, “give me half an hour, I’m just having lunch. Ok, bye.”

Patrick goes back to watching the passing crowds of tourists, eyes hidden behind sunglasses, as his voiceover returns.

“This is probably a bit of a shock, the change of surroundings and all, but there’s a pretty simple explanation for it, really. At least, my version of it is pretty simple, because the narrative style of these things doesn’t allow for much in the way of elaboration. 

So, some bullet points:

– Turned out the Mercedes we pinched from the two goons in the petrol station had all their fancy Department ID badges in the glove box and some security pass on the windscreen which nobody ever seemed to question.

– The story about me being a fugitive from justice had been planted in the paper by Endicott and his smarmy army, something we found out when we ran into two coppers at a motorway services and they didn’t look at us once, let alone twice. This was subsequently confirmed when we discovered a radio in the car and were able to eavesdrop on their transmissions for a short time, until they discovered their fallen comrades, then all radio traffic went silent.

–  We made it all the way to the south coast without incident and tried our luck with the Department pass at the docks in Dover, (by then, we’d smartened ourselves up a bit, I’m not proud of how we acquired the means to do that, but I’ve been trying to atone for my past sins ever since) driving straight onto the first cross-channel ferry with no questions asked. It appeared that Endicott’s Department men didn’t even require passports to travel around Europe, the strange, photoless ID cards and our car pass seemed to open any door.

– We set up in a small cottage in the Brittany countryside after a month of roughing it in the Merc, using money from a smash and grab we did on a drug dealer we’d been keeping an eye on. Cathy played her part perfectly (a strung out junkie, looking for a fix) and we got away with a lot more than we had anticipated, selling drugs is obviously a better business than I thought.

– Cathy got a job as a nurse after a few weeks, working in a local nursing home and I started a small photography studio, here in Concarneau, catering mainly to tourists and doing occasional shoots for travel brochures.

– I found it easy to pick up the language (maybe it was a skill I had before, who knows?) and after a few months of patient trying, Cathy became fluent enough that she no longer has to bear the raised eyebrows of the locals when she shops in the market.

– Nobody from The Department has contacted us in the nine years we’ve been here and as far as I knew, they had no idea where we are.

– I’m at that café because I was supposed to be meeting with a man who wanted me to do a shoot for his hotel, but he rang and told me he’d be late, so I’m meeting him in the Old Town later.

Or so I thought, because the next thing that happened was, well, just watch…”

The camera shows us the waiter, coming out of the café carrying a tray and approaching Patrick’s table. Patrick moves the ashtray and his phone to one side, clearing a space for his plate of mussels, knocking his cigarette packet off the table in the process.

As he bends to retrieve the packet from the floor, the waiter makes a strange coughing noise and Patrick looks up just in time to see the man fall to his knees, a shocked look on his face and a rapidly spreading red stain in the middle of his chest. The bowl of mussels on the table suddenly shatters and Patrick feels a sharp pain, looking down to see a deep graze in his upper arm, then someone starts screaming and Patrick is moving, ducking into an alley and running to where his old Renault is parked behind the café.

He slams the door while punching numbers on his phone, jamming the key into the ignition and slamming the car into gear.

“Come on, come on!” Patrick yells, wheels spinning on the cobbles as he speeds down the narrow street “Pick up the damn phone!”

Finally, someone answers.

“Hello, I thought you’d…”

“It’s happened, they’ve found us!”

**********

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

#SoCS

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