“Because the council receptionist said so” was apparently in no way an acceptable explanation for Mrs Shanks as to why her husband would be setting off to his almost certain doom shortly after a hearty breakfast. She though of herself as rather tolerant of her husband short comings, and not especially demanding but this was wholly unacceptable.
***You may notice a change from 1st person. Ill go back and change the other three parts tomorrow – proving a bit messy and restrictive to do it that way***
Hysterical as she may have become she was also a practical woman. He didn’t even have a decent pair of walking boots, never mind whatever else one requires to enter a space time fracture! What about the children? What was she supposed to tell them?
“It’s all good and well gallivanting to heavens knows where wearing only a thin summer jacket” she shouted, “but what if it’s cold. What then?”
Armitage wrapped his arms around her pulling her close. 17 years they had been together and despite all the reasons they both had to dislike one another they still made each other happy enough to still be together and were for the most part a rather good match.
“Kate, we both Know how things work” he said. “Since when does anything make sense anymore.”
Armitage put his hands on her shoulders. She looked tired, her eyes red and her face pale and drawn.
“I’m doing this for you and the boys, they’ve assured me you’ll be looked after while I’m away”.
Armitage had some vague recollection of the receptionist making a promise along those lines. He also recalls more clearly her offering to cast him into the rift with his family if he preferred, which of course he did not.
They’d been up all night going through the same things over and over, and getting precisely nowhere. They had decided that they would not be telling the children, but beyond that none of this made sense. There were endless rumours and speculation about what had come through the rift, and what they were, but none of it ever made what passed for news these days.
“I’ve a mind to go down there and give her a piece of my mind” she said, though Armitage knew full well that she wouldn’t. He shuddered at the thought of her confronting the receptionist. It was pretty obvious to him that there was something very unnatural about her and he made it quite clear to his wife that in no way was she to go to the council offices.
“Lets just have breakfast before the boys wake up” he said, taking her hand and heading to the kitchen. “I could do with a cup of team and some toast. Do we have any marmalade?”
A nice cup of tea and a few slices of toast and lime marmelade later he kissed his wife, reminding her of how much he loved them all, popped on his light summer jacket and headed out the door. He didn’t look back but he knew she was watching from the window, tears streamlining down her face.
He reached the end of the street and was about to turn down towards the bus stop when a battered old VW beetle pulled up next to him. The driver rolled down the window and called him over.
“Mr Shanks” the man said, a long thin finger beckoning him over “Please, get in”.
He was a middle aged man with blonde hair and a head that seemed to be too large for the body it sat atop. His piercing blue eyes were also more widely positioned on his head than you would expect, so much so that the combination of the two gave him the look of a startled gold fish.
Little did Armitage know, but that was precisely what his driver was. Or had been. Many things had come through the rift and even more things had gone into the rifts that were scattered around the globe. Mr Goodwin was the result of one of the earliest experiments. He went in a fairground gold fish and came out the creature that was now revving the mustard coloured Beetle impatiently.
Armitage climbed in the passenger seat pulling the door closed, the seat belt clicking reassuredly.
“Call me Goodwin” the fish headed gentleman said, putting the car into gear and pulling out into the road. He was wearing a black suit, white shirt and black tie. He smelled a little damp, like a towel that hasn’t been hung up properly after being used. “You really must have upset somebody to get this gig”