Room 101 – Out of Reach

It’s been far too long, and sometimes anything will do…

I used to do these – 101 words only. This might be a bit longer. This is also using one of M’s prompts.


Rosa clasped the stem of the rose tight in her palm, its sharp barbs digging into her skin. The pain made her feel alive and she squeezed tighter, not wanting to let go.

“Why are you so upset?” Carlo asked, the cold wind blowing through him as he watched the tears roll down her cheeks. “You know it will be okay. It always is.”

Rosa shook her head and sighed deeply, pulling her dark coat tight about her as the rain began to fall.

“You said you wouldn’t leave me.” she whispered to herself.

“But I came back” Carlo replied trying to catch her eye as she stared at the ground. “I said I would and I did right? I promised. I kept my promise Rosa.”

Rosa shook her head and began to turn, the wind catching her hair as it did and blowing it across the soft pale features of her face.

Carlo reached for her, desperate to touch her, to wipe her tears and make everything better, but she slipped through his fingers and before he could stop her she walked slowly away.

“Rosa wait” he shouted, he tried to move but felt paralysed. “I’m back now Rosa.” His words trailed off as they were strangled by the wind. And then, for the briefest moment Rosa stopped and began to turn, but shaking her head once more she walked slowly away into the rain. He looked down at his feet and there was the rose, its dark red petals in sharp contrast with the fresh, rich dirt.

Carlo opened his mouth to scream but it was too late, soil began to rain down and cover him as the grey skies opened and the service drew to an end…

Along The Weathered Winding Trail – Room 101

A start of somethign perhaps…

In response to M’s writing prompts which you can find at the link below.  These are often just quick pieces, ideas or glimpses of what might be…Fun to do though.  I used to try do them in 101 owrds but meh, it’s close enough…See the prompts here

The lights of the night beyond splashed across the hotel bedroom walls and painted his body in neon pinks and blues as he walked towards the window. Breathing deep he slid open the heavy glass panes and the noise of the city spilled in with the cold winter air. Shivering he lit a cigarette and watched below, the smell of her cheap perfume still on his skin and that god awful noise she made ringing in his ears.

Fighting against the wind Dennis folded the map and forced it angrily in to the side pocket of his pack.

“So, where now?” Cath asked taking a drink from her canteen and motioning towards the valley below them.  “Down there?  Seems the best route I think.”

Dennis took a deep breath and counted to five in his head as he watched the water glisten on her lips.  She licked them noisily and it made his stomach lurch uncomfortably.   

“No, we need to head up.” He pointed westwards to where the sun was beginning to arc towards the snow covered peaks.  “The pass is another couple of hundred feet up and a few hours beyond that we should be not too far from the cabin.”

“A couple of hours?  Jesus Dennis how are we so far off track?  I thought you said you knew how to read a map” 

Dennis snatched the canteen and took a drink. 

“Careful” Cath snapped back, “that’s got to last us until we can find water again and you know I get thirsty.”

He stared at her as he felt the water slip down his throat and down through his chest like a knife slicing slowly into him.  His heart was racing and he wondered if anyone would believe him if he said she’d slipped and fell into a ravine.

“Sorry, you’re right” he replied.  “I don’t know where we went wrong.  We need to get moving though as we need to be there before dark.”  He knew exactly where they had gone wrong, they had gone wrong when Cath had insisted on taking charge because he always got these things wrong apparently. 

Dennis hauled his pack onto his back and pulled the straps tight.  There was snow in the air and the temperature was dropping.  Probably too cold for her to die from hyperthermia if caught out he thought, far too early in the season.   Pity.

“This way then” he said setting off along the narrow track along the cliff top.  To their left tall pines climbed into the sky and far below he could hear the babble of water. 

“Maybe you should go down and get some water before we set off” Cath suggested shaking the bottle. 

“Maybe you should get mauled by a bear in the night because your sleeping bag has been filled with bacon” Dennis thought to himself before insisting that there was a waterfall on the map not far away and that they could hold out until then. 

“I’m really thirsty “ Cath replied taking another drink.  “Are you okay waiting until we get there?”

“Yes dear of course” Dennis replied, his fists curled into a ball wondering whether there were wolves in the area.

They walked quietly for a while, the beauty of their surroundings lost on Dennis as he stared at the ground counting the steps as he went.  This was supposed to be a trip to help fix things but just a day in and things were resuming their usual patterns of accusation and recrimination. 

“Gorgeous isn’t it” he said looking up and motioning to the white tipped mountains in the distance.  “The brochures really don’t do it justice.”

Cath didn’t respond and when Dennis turned around he saw that she had her ear buds in and was humming along to whatever she had playing.  It was probably Bach.  She liked Bach.  Bach made him feel stupid because he simply could not appreciate it like his wife and her university friends did. 

“Fuckin Bitch” he said aloud. 

God that felt good. 

She looked up, removing one of the buds from here ear.  “Did you say something?” She asked.

“No Dear” Dennis responded.  “Not long to go now though and we should be at the waterfall.”

“Ok” Cath said and went back to her music.

“I want to screw your sister” Dennis muttered under his breath smiling.    

Cath removed her earbuds again.  “Are you sure you didn’t say something?  You do have a habit of mumbling as you know.”

“Bears” thought Dennis.  Bear would probably eat all of her, even her fat arse.

“Up there look” Dennis said “the waterfall.”

The last hundred metres seemed to take forever as the path grew steeper and underfoot large rocks made the going difficult.  By the time they reached the summit they were both breathing heavily. 

“God look at that, isn’t it amazing” Dennis said.  Before him a river cut through the rocks and plunged downwards to the valley below.

“Yeah its lovely” Cath said handing him the canteen.  “Fill that up will you I want to take a photo.”

Dennis watched as she walked up to the edge of the bank where the river fell over the cliff edge.  Unfortunately it wasn’t particularly fast flowing so there was little chance that she would be washed away.

“Hey Dennis, come and take a photo with me” Cath called out.   

Dennis walked over reluctantly, his usual smile plastered across his face. 

“One for the scrap book” He said standing next to Cath, the heavily wooded valley stretching far into the distance. 

“Indeed it will be” Cath said as quite suddenly she pushed Dennis hard in the back and he stumbled forward twisting slowly as he plunged over the cliff top.

Looking up he saw her smiling down at him as he fell towards his death.

“Fucking bitch…”

The fizzled enchantment and other stories of ruin – Room 101

A start of somethign perhaps…

In response to M’s writing prompts which you can find at the link below.  These are often just quick pieces, ideas or glimpses of what might be…Fun to do though.  I used to try do them in 101 owrds but meh, it’s close enough…See the prompts here

The lights of the night beyond splashed across the hotel bedroom walls and painted his body in neon pinks and blues as he walked towards the window. Breathing deep he slid open the heavy glass panes and the noise of the city spilled in with the cold winter air. Shivering he lit a cigarette and watched below, the smell of her cheap perfume still on his skin and that god awful noise she made ringing in his ears.

Snow began to fall slowly as she emerged below and stepped out onto the street, already he could sense the life beating inside her, feeding hungrily. He hated himself almost as much as he hated them, but their soft pink bodies made great hosts…

Slingers – Part 1

I might give this a second part…

Part 0 can be found here

Dee sipped her tea from a mug and stared out of the window towards the old Victoria station.  The rain was falling, as was it’s tendency most days these days, and though it was the middle of the day the skies were dark and neon bathed the streets.

Once one of the destinations at the heart of London’s transport network, Victoria was now little more than a dirigible mooring station, the once endless stream of trains now a thing of the past and long replaced by the overland maglev’s than sprawled across the city and onwards to all corners of the country.

“You going to eat that?” Drax said motioning to Dee’s bacon sandwich.  It had been a long night bringing in Carlo and he was still rather peckish.

Dee shook her head as she watched the swarms of delivery drones buzz high above street level and disappear into the mists that covered the tops of the hab zones.

“I don’t like this Drax, not one bit.  It’s going to get us killed.”  She said watching the rain run down the window of the small café.

“Or” he said taking a large bite of the sandwich  “or it could make us rather rich Dee.”  

“It could make us rather dead more likely.”

“I will have you know that no one kills Drax the destroyer Dee, no one.”  Said Drax with a mouth full.

Dee rounded on him.  He was damn good at his job, and unnervingly lucky, but he was also incredibly annoying when it came to anything other that killing.

“Bloody hell must you persist with that ‘destroyer’ nonsense.  As if Drax isn’t stupid enough a name already, you really don’t need a nick name to compound it.  And stop talking with your mouth full.”

“Do you think I should buy a cape” Drax asked,ignoring everything Dee had said and finish off the sandwich.  “maybe something in crushed purple velvet?”

Dee sighed and looked back out of the window as a black taxi cab dropped down out of the mist and hovered just above the ground picking up a fare.  A think man in a dark coat scurried through the rain and jumped inside before it shot skywards again.  Turning back to Drax she took another sip of her tea.

“For one” and she raised a finger, “This is a recovery job.  Hardly our thing given that we are not required to kill anybody.”

Drax nodded and shrugged.

“I’m adaptable.”

“Two, we have no idea where she is and we need to somehow recover her from the Zentras.  Now the last time I checked they still controlled most of the north bank and are not to be messed with.  Why would you want to do this.”

Drax grinned and Dee knew this was not going to end well.

“Did I mention that we would will make a ton of money?  The sort of money that you need Dee.  Now what’s the worse that could happen?”

Dee knew that the worse that could happen was likely considerably worse that she could imagine.   The Zentras controlled everything from Battersea to the Black wall tunnel and were not to be taken lightly.  They ran every racquet imaginable and then some and they loved their bio-augmentations which made them particularly problematic when coupled with their maniacal obsession with such ridiculous notions as honour and family.

“I don’t like messing with the aug’s any more than you do Dee but there’s a kid out there that needs to be found and I might actually have a way to get us a bit of intel.  What do you say?”

For the briefest of moments Dee almost believed Drax’s sincerity.

“Exactly what intel might this be then?”

“My sister, she’s well in with…”  Drax never got to continue.

“Are you kidding me?” Dee exploded.  “After last time?  Drax why is she any less likely to try and kill you now than she was before?”

Drax smiled broadly and winked.  “She’s Zen now Dee,  Zen don’t kill family…”












Finish the story – #11

Been meaning to get to this forever. Sorry for my tardiness…

Welcome to Finish the Story

The Haunted Wordsmith started a story, tags someone to pick up the story and add to it, then hand it off to another person, etc., until the story is complete. This has proven to be quite fun in a blogging situation since we all have different approaches.


1 Copy the story below as it appears when you receive it (and the rules please)

2 Add somehow to the story in which ever style and length you choose

3 Tag only 1 person

4 If you choose to not participate or finish the story, please comment/tag this post so that The Haunted Wordsmith knows.

The Private Detective

One of the first lessons Eric learned the hard way after leaving the force and going into business for himself was to never ask the client why they wanted his services. The less he knew, the better it was for everyone. Something about this case, and the creepy man who hired him last week, just didn’t sit right though.

As he sat in the old blue Buick flipping through his notes, he saw her coming down the step of the opera house. He snuffed out his fifth camel and started the car. She was all dolled up in a victorian get up. Looked like something out of an H.G. Wells movie. Eric watched as she crossed the street, entered the park, and hailed a carriage.

“Shit!” He couldn’t follow her in the car through the park.

The carriage turned the corner and …

A Guy Called Bloke

… and disappeared from his view!

“Buggerations!” Eric snorted as he quickly got out of the car and hop, skipped and jumped his way across the street into the park. He could just see the end of the carriage as it made its way merrily across the lawn tracks!

As Eric chuffed along behind the carriage, he was becoming more and more startled as he saw smoke billowing from the top of the carriages’ roof, “What on earth?” Eric thought.

After only a few minutes, the carriage came to a standstill beside the fountain of Silver Waters, and she stepped out. Eric quickly hid behind a man selling balloons! He saw her talk to the driver, who doffed his hat and moved the carriage forwards by fifty or so feet before coming to a standstill again.

He watched Vicky [he had called her this because of the garb she had been wearing when he first caught sight of her. He didn’t know her name, Mr Creepy hadn’t passed on that nugget of information, so Vicky would have to do for the time being] walk up to the fountain, and as she approached from within her bulky skirts she withdrew a large bottle of something. The contents he could see were bright green almost luminous!?

“What on earth??” Eric gasped!

Vicky stopped in front of the fountain of Silver Waters and seemed to be speaking to the statue on the top, a funny looking gargoyle [l know, who would have thunk it?] and as she did so, the statue moved and so spake back in a kind of sing song accent and turned  and looked at the balloon seller – who was already becoming quite twitchy as he didn’t usually have another man quite this close to him when hiding!

Suddenly the balloon seller disappeared in a plume of green smoke with silvery tinges and Eric saw the balloons take flight to the skies!

“Blimey! That’s burst my bubble of disguise!” Eric thought, “Now what?”

Meanwhile Vicky and the gargoyle were looking directly at Eric and seemed to be speaking in the language of the elephant shrew [Eric knew this as his Son was studying the very same language in the elephant shrew school – l know how freaky as a coincidence is that?] As Eric tried to look as inconspicuous as possible which was somewhat difficult in his bright yellow zoot suit, Vicky and the gargoyle were speaking rather fast now and as they were doing so, the air around them cracked, and groaned, and creaked – yes creaked! The more Eric looked the more he could see wrinkles appearing before his eyes, the air seemed to be visible, the atmosphere was heavy, was that a portal opening, and was that another Vicky stepping out, was that another Vicky stepping out, was that another Vicky stepping out?

Eric closed his eyes for a moment thinking alternative reality and feeling somewhat faint and when he opened them again …

… he sat on his old Harley flipping through his ipad, he saw her coming down the step of the museum. He snuffed out his twenty second Marlboro and started the Harley. She was all dolled up in a Gothic get up. Looked like something out of an old, well Gothic movie. Eric watched as she crossed the street, entered the zoo, and hailed a camel.

“Chocolate Smarty Cake!” He couldn’t follow her on the bike through the zoo.

The camel turned the corner and Eric thought, Thunder Pants and then he ….

The Britchy One

…..started to feel very giddy. What was going on? He was uncoordinated, disorientated and sank slowly to his knees as he lost consciousness.

He woke with an IV in his arm Ina hospital bed. A nurse was busy with a chart and it took her a minute to realise he was awake.

“Welcome back! You had us all worried for a bit there!” She chirruped. “What happened?” asked Eric “I’ll see if the doctors here to see you” she replied, neatly avoiding his question as she sashayed out of the room. Eric noticed wryly that her scrubs fit in all the right places – obviously he wasn’t too out of it!

He looked around, bored. The room was a bland, beige, instantly forgettable room with a stunning view of a solid brick wall six feet away. If you weren’t sick before you would be after a couple of hours here he thought.

There was a peremptory knock on the door. Before Eric could respond and officious looking man in a bespoke suit walked in. His shoes looked expensive. Handmade burnished Italian leather glowing as only shoes polished by a valet could. His apparel and demeanour screamed upper class like the foghorn on a cross channel ferry.

“So you’re awake” he barked in a short staccato burst of verbal gunfire. “Do you know who you are?” “Yes of course I do”said Eric giving his full name “Why am I here and where are my clothes?”.

“All in good time my man, you were brought in without any identification two days ago. You were dehydrated and had concussion. Let’s get some details shall we? He proceeded to ask Eric’s full address, profession and if he knew what day of the week it was, what year it was and other questions Eric presumed were to assess his cognition. “What happened do you remember?” the man concluded.

Eric’s Mind was a blur. Full of bizarre dreams – or were they?

“I don’t really know” he admitted. “Do you know why you were in the park?” I was following someone on orders from a client.”

The man leaned forward quivering “Ahh and what do you know of this client? he purred.

Just as Eric was about to answer there was a knock at the door. A short tired looking Indian man shuffled in. “Hello I’m sorry to keep you waiting. I’m Doctor Raina”

Wait! exclaimed Eric turning to look at the first man “If this is the doctor then who are you?”….

Mel Gutiér

Just at that moment, everything froze around Eric except for the elegant stranger who seemed familiar to him now. Eric’s mouth opened wide.

“I’m the Time Keeper. You have something of mine. Do you remember what it is? You’ve been jumping from time to time, wandering. It will take you some time, but you’ll remember.”

“What are you talking about? How are you doing all this?”

“Damn! You’ve gone in too deep. I tried explaining it to you. You didn’t give me enough time. You just had to run after her, didn’t you? They’re going to kill you if they find you, you know that?”

“Time Keeper?”

“Eric… you don’t remember the vault? You don’t remember the lock breaking and Lydia disappearing? You don’t remember taking the compass from my office? Eric… you’re in danger and I need the compass back to find Lydia.”

“Stop! You’re a mad man! You’re the devil!”

“You don’t even remember my name, do you?”

“Fuck you!”

Lost and confused, Eric got out of the bed, pushed the stranger aside running out of the room. He became dizzy as he tried walking passed the still figures in the hallway. Indeed, time had stopped somehow. Everyone in the hospital had stopped in their place, their space. The elegant stranger ran after Eric hopeful that he would wake up to full memory. He needed that compass.


“Leave me alone! I don’t know anything about a compass!”

“I can help you! Just stop for a moment! Let me help you!”

Eric ran outside and stopped in his tracks. He was stupefied. The air seemed to be missing and nothing was moving. Birds locked in midair, sound in a vacuum, a single leaf traveling to the ground was floating still before him. All living things stood motionless before him, as if wax figures stood in their place. Even the motionless buildings looked different, shifted somehow and he noticed a curtain in one of the houses stopped outside its window as if held out by an invisible string, the dead wind. How was this possible? Somewhere in his head a familiar connection began to emerge. He knew something about this magic, but it was still a blur.

“I’m Logan. I’m your Time Keeper. You’re a time traveler. We try to set things right in the world.”

The elegant stranger, a stranger no more, put his hand on Eric’s shoulder. Eric’s breath was heavy, and his mind was racing in the still of time. Something began to stir in him as he turned to look at Logan. His breath grew stronger and he broke down in tears.

“Lydia!” He gasped.

“Yes! You’re remembering! It’s okay… it takes time. You’ve been through a lot. You’ve traveled for months looking for her, chasing the wrong woman. I had to get you to stop somehow. This was the only way.”


“The institution, the visions. The client.”

“The client… he has your compass.”

“No! What did you do?”

“I don’t know! I don’t know. Oh God!”

“That was no client, Eric! Do you realize what they’re capable of doing with that compass! If they have Lydia, if they touch her… Eric! You have to remember where that client is. We have to get that compass back!”

Eric looked at Logan, took one last breath and disappeared. Logan fell to his knees as everything came back to normal. Movement… time resumed, but Eric was gone… again.


Michael @ Afterwards

Eric watched the tea lap against the edge of the mug as he dropped in another cube of sugar with a reassuring ‘plink’.  His mother had always said what when in doubt sit down and have some tea, preferably in a cup and saucer, and it will help to put things into perspective.

Unfortunately the diner didn’t have any saucers, or decent china cups for that matter, so he settled for a plain white mug of something approaching a loose description of tea and some silent introspection.

A large breasted, friendly faced waitress walked over and asked him if he was ready to order.  Eric shook his head.

“No thanks, just the tea will be fine thank you.”

“Suit yourself darlin, you let me know if you change your mind now'” she said with a wink and a smile and sauntered back over to the long counter that ran the length of the room.  He continued to watch as she took a pot of coffee and filled a cup for herself.

Returning to his thoughts Eric took a sip of his tea and considered recent events, not least how he had ended up in the diner, fully clothed and with a pocket full of cash.  As diners do it was a nice enough place, stereotypically so in fact with just the right amount of plaid shirted trucker looking types, chequer board flooring and a good selection of pies.

He searched his memories but could not remember how he had got here.  Staring out of the large window into the half full car park beyond he stirred the tea again, allowing fragments of memories to come back to him.  The spoon swirled through the hot dark liquid as mysterious strangers compelled him, gaping hospital gowns left him feeling rather exposed and the smoking of rather a lot of cigarettes left him feeling that perhaps some life changes might well be in order.

The memories were jumbled and overlapping, nothing seemed to be in the right place and everything seemed to contradict itself.  There was also a most uncomfortable feeling that he had lost something and really needed to find it.

He looked up as the waitress walked past again and smiled.  He smiled back and noticed her name badge.

‘Lydia’.  Nice name he thought…

Tagging: Dorinda @ Night Owl Poetry




The In-between – Part 33 of 31 – A possible beginning

The End

Just a little something,  I doubt I will take it further for now but I don’t like to keep things back…

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8 Part 9 Part 10 Part 11 Part 12 Part 13 Part 14 Part15 Part16 Part 17 Part18 Part 19 Part 20 Part 21 Part 22 Part 23 Part 24 Part25 Part 26 Part27 Part 28 Part 29 Part 30 Part 31 Part 32

Armitage smiled and sat back in the chair.  There was something quite homely about the place, with its high open fireplace and dark wooden bookshelves.  He fingered the leather of the tall wingback chair and finished his tea.

“He looks fun” he said motioning with his empty cup to a picture that hung above the fireplace.

An impressively moustached fellow stood defiantly legs akimbo in front of an erupting volcano.  Armitage placed the tea on the small low table in front of him.  There was something so familiar about the clink of the tea cup on the china saucer.

“So you say we’re part of ‘The Office of Entropy” he asked looking at the small grey haired woman sat next to him.  “And we’ve been here before?  If you ask me this all sounds a bit dangerous to be honest.  Are you sure about this because I am a renowned coward.”

The old lady laughed.  “Oh dear boy, we’re dead remember.  I think we can perhaps put to bed some of those worries.  All seems to make perfect sense if you think about it.”

Armitage threw her a most confused look.  “How the devil does any of this make sense?”

McCann offered more tea.  “Don’t let it worry you Armitage” she said as Armitage shook his head.  “Trust me, you’re a natural.  It will all come back to you.”

He let out an unconvinced “hmm” and sat back in the chair.

“So what happens now then?” he asked.  “Whilst I enjoy tea as much as the next man I would assume that there is more to this existence.”

McCann smiled.  “I have something to show you, come with me.”

Old Walter McDad

Really not sure where this came from…

You can listen instead of reading if you prefer.



Old Walter McDad finds such joy in the sad

The depressed and the rather quite tragic

He would dance with delight if your shoes were too tight

Spilled your tea on your crotch? Oh quite magic!

Caught your knob in your zip? Caused your foreskin to rip?

He would high five in great celebration

Birth defects?  He loves those.  Diabetic? Lost toes?

Well to him they’re such cause for elation


Enjoys watching the poor, mocks the sick and what’s more

Steals the cash from the tramps at the station.

Takes a dump on your lawn, tells your kids to watch porn

Big wide grin at your grandma’s cremation

Fingers crossed at the vets they declare that your pets

need to be put to sleep with much haste

Phone the docs and the answer is that you have cancer

He’d take joy, he knows its in poor taste


For Walt spends all his days in such terrible ways

Don’t ask why he just does ‘cos he can

At a hundred and one he’d still rodger your mum

He’s a rather quite nasty old man

So watch out and beware at the top of the stair

As he’d gladly push you in the back

You go head over tit and he’d chuckle and sit

Watch you bleed as he enjoys a snack


Beginnings – 5 – Unexpected Revelations

The tale of Darren and Julie

M does a marvellous set of prompts each month, today the prompt was Spontaneous Eruptions.  I am sure you aren’t surprised at what I came up with.  I recorded it too though so you can listen rather than actually reading it.  See how kind I am…I hope it works.

The tale of Darren and Julie


Once a chap said “I Do”, his wife said she’d be true

And in bliss they did spend all their days

In bed things were quite hot and they cared not a jot

For the flaws in their deeds and their ways


For they say love is blind but alas her behind

Grew quite plump and his ardour it waned

And he seemed now quite dull and there came then a lull

In the bedroom “Boring!” she complained


“Well your cooking is foul” he proclaimed with a scowl

She complained that his chores were undone

and with pinky quite crooked she complained how he looked

“You’re a cow” he did cry “like your mum”


There were slamming of doors, and so started the wars

And she went for a drink with his mate

So he signed up online had a jolly good time

Second base from an internet date


They fought over the cat she poked fun at his fat

Rotund tummy, he scoffed at her thighs

So she scratched up his car, he cut up her best bra

And on facebook he posted foul lies


So she slept with his dad and that made him quite mad

So she dry humped a tramp near some bins

Then he had a tattoo of her name and some poo

She jerked off a red head pair of twins


And at last it did end, for they just could not mend

The sweet love that was now oh so broke

And they went separate ways but that’s not how it stays

Even though its been weeks since they spoke


For one night on the booze he did text “I did lose

Something dear how I wish wed not split”

And she lonely and sad (and she quite missed his dad)

Said “I miss you come round in a bit”


Now they’re trying again and it might end the same

Or they could this time round find love true

Now he needs to just find a tattooist most kind

To remove what he inked near his bum…  



Beginnings – 4 – Spontaneous eruptions

The legend of Arty McFarty

M does a marvellous set of prompts each month, today the prompt was Spontaneous Eruptions.  I am sure you aren’t surprised at what I came up with.  I recorded it too though so you can listen rather than actually reading it.  See how kind I am…I hope it works.

The Legend of Arty McFarty


Once a fellow of some girth, a man of little joy or mirth

Who sad spent all his days self loathing and most glum

Teased by all and not respected and each night upset reflected

On his life which was quite empty and no fun


He had no wife and children none and friends alas were all now gone

And so he pondered his existence and felt small

And he came to the conclusion he was under the illusion

That he really ought to not be here at all


Quite intent to bring an end and without life or love or friend

At the cliff top he now stood, but lo a vision

It was the ghost of his dead mum and she insisted with his bum

He’d seek revenge on those who point with such derision


She spoke kinds words and reassured and from the cliff top he was lured

And she reminded him that he was in her heart

and he indeed possessed a gift and it so gave his heart a lift

when she proclaimed he had the world’s most fearsome fart


And so with deadly fierce eruption he blazed a trail of fowl destruction

Wreaking vengeance on all who had made him sad

At work he let off in a lift, three people had to miss a shift

it made a lass have fits and nearly killed one lad


His bottom spewed such fearsome gases that his neighbour now wears glasses

When into her letter box he let one out

He could hear her scream and stumble and she dropped her apple crumble

And threw up when out into the street ran out


He blew off down at the store and the milk curdled and then more

Or less the whole place had to be evacuated

At the pub he was oft goaded so near the fire he exploded

Watched it burn with joy, oh how these folk he hated


Farted then into a pram and in the face of an old man

then on a beggar who would oft be rather rude

And to a church he made a visit, left his own unholy spirit

and to a shelter where he dropped one on the food


And so he found his true life calling with his anus most appaling

Havoc he did wreak and eyes did stream

And all his days he spent unleashing anal thunder most unpleasing

Vile bottom burps most nasty and oh so obscene



Beginnings – 2 – Turning back Tuesday

Serena stared at the news headlines scrolling across her vid implant as she weaved her way through the mass of morning commuters. Grey skies stretched into the distance, the rain seemingly never ending, and pulling her hood over her head to keep off the rain she watched as the report showed the fall of Mombassa and the rout of the Central African Forces.

M does a marvellous set of prompts each month, and whilst I couldn’t face anything more than the nonsensical last month after my In-Between effort of May this month I am good to go again and am going to do a series of things that could be the beginning of something.  The prompts give me something to latch onto and to see what I can do with them and will be between 250 an d 500 words.  They may be the beginning of something they may not.  Sometimes I need to see it on paper to know how I feel about an idea and whether it will grow wings all of its own.

Today the prompt was Turning back Tuesday.  I am sure you can see why…

Serena stared at the news headlines scrolling across her vid implant as she weaved her way through the mass of morning commuters.  Grey skies stretched into the distance, the rain seemingly never ending, and pulling her hood over her head to keep off the rain she watched as the report showed the fall of Mombassa and the rout of the Central African Forces.

 “Hey watch yourself” barked a dark suited man as she nipped in front of him, clipping the briefcase he was carrying.

 “Sorry mate.”  She raised a hand by way and smiled to herself.  People could be such stiffs. 

 Stood waiting for the lights to change Serena changed channels to ‘K-Pop-100’.   Above, the buzz and whine of the faster vehicles darting through midtown filled the air, their neon undercarriages cutting through the gloom, while down at ground level the heavier transporters and trams rumbled through the puddles.

 A breaking newsflash interrupted Serena’s vid as the lights blinked green and momentarily distracted she stepped out into the road.  Before she could finish the headline she heard a scream and felt a hand on her shoulder and was dragged back onto the pavement as a heavy goods wagon thundered past inches from her face, the wind throwing back her hood.

“Oh my god” she started but as the words left her mouth everything froze. 

Everywhere fell silent, unmoving, people mid stride and cars suspended in the air. 

“Who the hell stopped her?” came a harsh voice from the crowd waiting to cross the road.  “This was carefully planned.  What threw it off?”

 “No idea sir” came a second voice, this one more timid than the first.  “Timings seem to be about a second out according to my readings.  I can rewind and recalibrate if you want.  We have enough time to do it over.”

 There was a pause as a tall blonde haired man pressed through the bodies in front of him and stood in front of Serena.  He wore a long dark coat over black trousers and shirt and his face was gaunt and pale.  He reached out a hand and caressed her face. 

 “Shall I do it sir?” The second man asked as he squeezed past the unmoving pedestrians, a glowing tablet device in his grip.  “We have about a minute to redo and resync the time line.”

 The taller man sighed and cracked his knuckles before turning quickly and disappearing back into the crowd.

 “Okay, rewind and redo,” he shouted, “and let Head Office know she’s incoming.”  He paused for a moment before continuing.  “And Po” he added menacingly.

 “Yes?” said Po as he punched at the screen of the device in his hand.

 “Don’t get it wrong.”

Beginnings – 1 – The Right of Wrongs

The pale lights lining the corridor flickered and dimmed as the ship descended slowly towards the planet surface. Je-Sar grimaced as the unfamiliar pull of gravity dragged on her, every movement suddenly a huge effort.

M does a marvellous set of prompts each month, and whilst I couldn’t face anything more than the nonsensical last month after my In-Between effort of May this month I am good to go again and am going to do a series of things that could be the beginning of something.  The prompts give me something to latch onto and to see what I can do with them and will be between 250 an d 500 words.  They may be the beginning of something they may not.  Sometimes I need to see it on paper to know how I feel about an idea and whether it will grow wings all of its own.

Today the prompt was The right of wrongs and it got me to thinking about right and wrong (obviously I hear you say) and the wrong of right and the rite of wrong and so on.

The pale lights lining the corridor flickered and dimmed as the ship descended slowly towards the planet surface.  Je-Sar grimaced as the unfamiliar pull of gravity dragged on her, every movement suddenly a huge effort.  The black clad guards pulled at her arms to keep her on her feet, their heavy jackboots clanging on the metal plate flooring..

“On your feet” the taller of the two barked. “You’ll get used to it soon enough.  Now get in there.”  He punched a flashing green button in a panel and it turned red and a door slid open with a hiss.

The second soldier laughed, his eyes cruel and a hand on his rifle. “It’s time to go home” he said.  “We’ve looked after your kind long enough.”

Je-Sar fell through the door and turned to watch as it clanged closed behind her.  The pod was small, with her arms spread wide she could touch all four of the plain metal walls that stared back at her.  Save for a low metal bench along one side and a thick rimmed portal window there was nothing else inside.

She stared out through the small window as the planet below grew larger.  A vast arid landscape stretching as far as she could see.  It was A home she had never known. 

A world to which she was being returned because there was no longer room for her kind up there.

Slingers – Part 0

A something that might be a something or a nothing. We shall see.

Just something I was dabbling with…

With a broad grin spread across his face Drax slammed the blood stained hessian sack down on the counter top.

“Pay up Carlo” he said wringing his hands together.  “Five thousand credits I believe it was.”

Carlo was nearly as wide as he was tall and his round, sweaty and rather hairless head held the appearance of being connected directly to his shoulders.  Gold chains hung around where his neck ought to have been and his pink stubby fingers were adorned with a collection of heavy sovereign rings.  He looked up slowly from behind the counter and removed his holovid.

“That was just getting good, this better be worth it Drax.” He poked at the sack with a pen.  “Who is it?” 


“Really?  He seems to be a little smaller than I recall Drax.  Where’s the rest of him?”

“Hey, just cleaning house, making the streets a safer place and all that.” He leaned in towards Carlo, a serious look creeping across his face to replace his usual broad smile.   “He put up a bit of a fight so we only have the head” he said.  “Now I know you normally deduct sixty percent for an incomplete but I can explain what happened to the rest of him.”

“I really don’t care Drax, You slingers know the rules.”

“Carlo, would I lie to you?  You know me I’m straight up I swear It was unrecoverable, surely you can make an allowance.  I can even show you the vid footage.  Let me transfer it over, come on.” 

Carlo heaved himself from his chair breathing heavily.  “Is Dee with you?” he asked peering over the counter top.

Dee looked out from behind Drax. 

“Hey Carlo, good to see you.”

 Carlo grinned wiping his mouth with his hand.  “Dee, you’re looking as lovely as ever, what you still doing with this loser?  You can do better you know – my cousin Luca is on the lookout for a new partner, you and him would be great together.”

Dee tucked her long red hair behind her ears and pushed past Drax smiling.  “It’s my curse honey, we all have our burden’s to bare right.”

Carlo peered inside the bag and then closed it up again.  “We do indeed and yours is not only your beauty but this useless excuse for a partner.”

Dee laughed and placed her hands on the counter top and leaned forward to give Carlo just enough of a peek down her top.

“So are you going to give us a break this time?”  She flashed him a smile.  “It was my fault we lost the body but this is no scam.  There’s no way it survived the things that call the Thames home these days.  It’s gone.”

Carlo licked his lips and mopped his brow. 

“If anyone finds it they’ll have my license you know that right?  There’s a reason you’re meant to bring the whole body in Dee.”  He shot a disapproving glance at Drax.  “We really don’t want the man on the street knowling what’s out there.”

 “Trust me okay.  We’re good.” She said and put a hand on his arm.  Men were such fools.

Carlo sighed, took the bag from the desk and placed it on the floor next to him. 

“I’ll give you four and a half.”  

Dee smiled.  Four and a half wasn’t bad for just a head.

“And the other Five hundred?” Drax asked knowing full well that it would end up in Carlo’s pocket.

Carlo ignored Drax and slipped Dee a red credit card sized token.  “Four and a half Dee, spend it wisely.”

“You’re a gem” she said and winked as she slipped the card into the inside pocket of her jacket.

“So do you have anything else for us?  I could use a decent payday?”






I’m going to keep doing these as the mood takes me and they’re kind of snippets or starts or ideas and mostly just done to see how they feel when I press ‘publish’.  I think one will stick then I will carry on with it.

Avalon sat on the old porch swing kicking her legs playfully and singing to her favourite doll.   The night air fell cool on her skin and as the swing creaked in time with the song of the crickets she watched the sun set slowly behind the mountains.

“Bed soon Avalon” shouted her mother from inside.  “We have a long trip tomorrow and need to be on the road to Picayune before seven.”

“Yes mom” said Avalon as the last rays of light sank below the towering peaks and the feint ribbon of fire on the horizon gave way to darkness.  “Can I have just five minutes more, I want to watch the stars with Ophelia?”

“Okay sure” her mother replied over the clink of the dinner dishes “but no longer.  I don’t want you to be tired when we see grandma.”

Avalon squeezed her doll tight and pointed out across the dark fields into the moonless sky, the silhouette of the barns and water tower now barely visible as night fell.  “Ophelia, that’s Sirius, the brightest star in the sky” she said knowledgably.

The family farm was huge, and with barely a light to be seen for miles the milky way blazed a trail across the night sky.  Avalon loved nothing more than to sit out, and though she was only nine already knew most of the major constellations by sight.  

“Look there” Avalon said excitedly pointing to the west just above the tops of the mountains.  A meteor blazed and then fizzled to nothing in the atmosphere.  “There will be more if mother let’s us stay up.”

She kicked her legs and pushed off on the swing, the squeaking quickening.  Another meteor burnt up on the horizon and her mother called again.

“Come on now you two, time to come and get ready for bed”  she said popping her head around the screen door.  Avalon considered asking to stay up later but the look on her mother’s face already told her it wasn’t going to happen.

“Yes Mom, coming” she said hopping down,  and with Ophelia hanging by the arm she skipped across the porch singing quietly under her breath.  On the other side of the door she could see her mother wiping dishes in the kitchen, but before she could get inside there was a flash of light as bright as day and a loud bang filled the air.

Avalon instinctively fell to the floor clasping Ophelia tight and tried to cover her ears to block out the noise.  She heard her mother shouting from inside the house and hurried footsteps on the wooden floors but everything was shaking, and unable to move she stayed curled up in a ball in front of the door.

“Honey, move, I can’t open the door” she heard her mother shout over the sound of breaking glass.   Heart pounding she peered through her fingers as the bang was replaced with a roar that sounded like a thousand waterfalls crashing down together and a bright green light lit up the yard in front of the house.

Her mother screamed and Avalon felt the door dig into her side as her mother forced it open.  “Avalon, come on” her mother shouted lifting her from the floor and into her arms.

“Wait, Ophelia…” she said panicked reaching for the doll that had fallen from her grasp, but her mother was already running across the porch with her.

“No, there’s no time” she said as she took the steps two at a time and stumbled out onto the wide grassed area in front of the house “we need to get to the car now.”

The car was at the other side of the house, and she regained her feet she set off across the lawn.  The noise grew louder with every step and the light began to pulse and flicker obscuring everything and making it difficult to make out the way.  She felt her mother’s hand pull her head tight to her chest as a violent wind whipped up dust all around them until there was no way they could see which way was forward.

“Take my hand” she shouted putting her down on the ground.

The wind rocked her and unable to see anything but the dust and bright green light she fell to the floor.  “Mom I’m scared” she cried as her mother reached out a hand to try and locate the house to get her bearings.  

“This way” she shouted and dragged her by the hand through the swirling dust and wind.  Avalon covered her eyes as they ran and there was a familiar crunch of the gravelled drive underfoot and as she stumbled again she felt the cold metal of the truck against her shoulder.  “Quick, get in” he mother said and there was a click-thunk as her mother forced the truck door open against the wind as it grew in intensity.

Avalon scrambled into the footwell and turned to watch her mother clamber in but as she reached inside there was a roar as the wind pulled her from the vehicle and screaming she was thrown beyond Avalon’s view and the vehicle door slammed closed.

“Mom” she screamed as she pulled the handle and pushed against the door –  but the wind was now too fierce and it slammed back each time she attempted to open it.  She pressed her hands against the glass and stared out into the night desperate to see the shape of her mother heading back to her, but there was only the bright green light and the swirling dust carried on the wind that buffeted the truck.

Staring out into the night she waited, tears cutting through the dust that covered her from head to toe.  She brushed her hair from her face as the roar of the wind grew louder and louder and the light brighter until quite suddenly, without warning,  it stopped.  Darkness returned and as the dust slowly began to settle she saw a shape walking towards her through.

“Mom” she shouted pulling at the door handle and pushing against it with everything she had.  This time it gave way and she scrambled down, the gravel crunching beneath her feet.  “Mom, mom over here” she continued and ran arms flung wide as her eyes grew accustomed to the darkness.

“Hello Avalon” came an unfamiliar voice and she stopped in her tracks.  It was deep and rasping and as the dust cleared, her heart racing, she stared at the shadow as it emerged from the settling dust.  It was like nothing she had ever seen, taller than any adult – dressed all in grey – and skin grey like that of a shark.  It was vaguely human in appearance with large eyes set wide in a broad head.   There was no nose, only small nostrils and a wide lipless mouth stretched across the face.

Avalon tried to scream, tried to run, but her legs would not move and nothing came out when she opened her mouth.

“Come now” the creature said scooping her up in his arms, “there are people waiting to see you.”




#FOWC – Inertia

Fandango has kindly provided the prompt: “Inertia”.

Going to try do these in 500 words or less I think and use them to try a few new ideas and see if anything sticks.  A bit like the room 101 stuff  – they may be starts, or ends or middles.  We shall see.


Gill clled to McCabe as he stood staring out into the inky blackness of space.  “Captain, sub light inertia drives have gone off line due to a massive solar burst.  Switching to impulse.  We will breach real time barrier in 60 seconds.”

The deck shook as McCabe walked over to his chair and buckled in.  After 6 years they were so close to being home, this was the last thing they needed.  He punched the comms button on the arm of his chair and a siren blared out across the ship.

“All crew brace for real time barrier breach in 30 seconds.”  He looked back at Gill.  “Bring us out gently son.”

The Aspidistra lurched as she slowed, every atom of the ship and those within her stretched across the immeasurable expanses between the stars that powered the ship.  McCabe held his hand up to his face and watched it dissolve into a million stars before his eyes and then reform as they smashed through into real time.

“System status ” he barked, the massive ship still shaking.

Jennan the second office scanned the battery of screens before him.  “All systems online Sir, real time confirmed – Sol cycle 2245.”

“Gill, location please.”

McCabe waited before asking again.

“Gill, please confirm location.”

Gill turned slowly.  “Captain – we’re about three weeks out from Earth on impulse drives sir, just short of Mars orbit.”

The look on his face told him there was more.  He unbuckled his belt and strode over to where Gill sat behind a bank of screens.

“Spit it out lad what is it.” He said trying to interpret the data flooding across the displays in front of him.”

Gill knew that if not for McCabe none of them would be here, they all knew that.  The war with the Va-a had taken it’s toll but he’d promised to bring them home and he was a man of his word.

“I’m sorry sir” he said “but were too late.  She’s already gone.”





A Sprinkle of Balderdash

M has another month of fab prompts that you can see here

Today it is A sprinkle of Balderdash.

For those of you who might have seen my blog in the last month you will have seen that I wrote a 30000 word story, day by day using M’s prompts. Given that my preferred medium of expression is the glorious 5 lines of a limerick, and the longest post I have ever done was about 500 words, I am not sure where the confidence came from but there you go.

Mostly it started out as waffle and balderdash but as the month went on I really rather enjoyed it and whilst it is not quite the 50000 words NANOWRIMO might ask of you it’s a start, so I thought I would share a few thoughts on the experience.

  • It was so important to make sure I wrote every day. I got behind after a weekend of enjoying the royal wedding and it was so hard to catch up so should I do it again I would ensure that time is put aside at all costs.
  • I discovered afterwards that there are two types of writers. Those that plan and the ‘pantsers’. ‘Pantsers’ are apparently people who make fly by the seat of their pants and plan very little. I think I lean more towards being a ‘pantser’.
  • Encouragement really matters. Those wonderful people amongst you who took time to read and comment, M for just doing the prompts, Dronsta who really helped with advice or people on Twitter who posted things on their own timelines which I found encouraging – it all really motivated me when I was struggling.
  • Editing can come later, this was pretty much a public first draft but getting the draft down became such a motivator. I can now revisit and do whatever I want with it but it is mine to play with at my leisure.
  • I had only ever written short flash fiction pieces before and the idea of writing 1000 words was massive daunting for me but day by day, line by line, I found that the stamina built pretty quickly and by the end I could churn out an unedited 2500 words in about an hour and a half.
  • When I completed it I wished I was a dog because It was such a thrill that I would happily have licked my own bollocks, and not just for hygiene reasons I tell you.
  • For a few days afterwards I have found it really hard to write. Oddly I found myself going through quite a few emotions having put so much into something over a short period. At times I felt stupid for doing it, others proud, and I really missed it which made doing anything else feel pointless. I did a bit of reading and this is apparently normal it seems.

So, if you’re wondering whether you can do it, absolutely you can just put some time aside, find people to support you and write, write, write…

The In-between – Part 32 of 31 – THE END

The End

What? I don’t like rules. Plus its only a short one. That’s it. Job done. 🙂

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8 Part 9 Part 10 Part 11 Part 12 Part 13 Part 14 Part15 Part16 Part 17 Part18 Part 19 Part 20 Part 21 Part 22 Part 23 Part 24 Part25 Part 26 Part27 Part 28 Part 29 Part 30 Part 31

“You don’t want to be going over there” came a voice out of nowhere. “It won’t end well.”

It was the first noise I had heard since I awoke in this place and I spun around, desperately searching for it’s source. There was no up and no down and for as far as I could see a grey nothing stretched before me in every direction.

She was a pretty girl with dark hair dressed in a flowing white dress with a blue butterfly clip in her hair.

“My name’s McCann” she said extending a hand to me and smiling. “You need to come with me Armitage.”

The name sounded familiar.

“Is that my name” I asked.

“It is yes” McCann answered as she took my hand. “And this is Margaret” she said as a warm faced grey haired woman stepped out from behind her.

“She is new here too, I think you two are going to get along quite famously.”


The In-between – Part 31 of 31

I awoke lying on the grass soaked to the skin and the rain falling on my face.  Eyes opening slowly I stared up into a starless night sky and on the horizon lightning crackled and fizzed lighting up the clouds.  

Okay so I’m doing M’s prompts going to try and do a full month as one long story with no planning. Today it is ‘Anchored Avenues’.

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8 Part 9 Part 10 Part 11 Part 12 Part 13 Part 14 Part15 Part16 Part 17 Part18 Part 19 Part 20 Part 21 Part 22 Part 23 Part 24 Part25 Part 26 Part27 Part 28 Part 29 Part 30

I awoke lying on the grass soaked to the skin and the rain falling on my face. Eyes opening I stared up into a starless night sky and on the horizon lightning crackled and fizzed lighting up the clouds. As I sat up I could feel the low far off rumble of thunder in my bones.

With my thoughts a blur I scrambled at the edges of vague images, confusion slowly clearing and giving birth to thoughts of Plumduff and Thrumhall, O’Rourke and the face that always haunted my thoughts at times like these.
I dragged myself to my feet, rain running down my face and the cold night air clawing at my throat. Instinctively I reached for my shoulder, but there was no pain, no blood stained shirt, no bullet wound.

Unsure and confused I looked about, struggling to make out anything familiar in the darkness. Though the wind blew the rain into my face I could just make out that I was stood in a wide grassed area, perhaps a park, with the dark silhouettes of tall buildings behind me and the outline of trees to the sides and ahead. Beyond the trees there was a pale light, barely visible, and being the only real point of reference I headed towards it.

Wearily I walked, my legs heavy and my mind attempting to make sense of what had happened. I checked my hand and could feel the ring tight around my finger but there was no grey periphery. I could see everything. My watch and wallet were still missing but once again I had the jacket I had not had since the hanger.

Pushing through the trees, the crunch of fallen twigs and leaves beneath my feet, I could hear the feint crash of waves and as the rain began to lessen I came out at the side of a road. To the far side of the rode a fence cordoned a short run off to where what must have been a cliff edge because I cold hear only hear the waves and into the distance what little light there was danced across the water. A solitary streetlight lit the area in front of me and the rain glittered as it fell.

I fought the urge to call out to Quora again, intent for once to deal with whatever lay before me and looked along the road. To the right it stretched into darkness, the white lines fading to black and to the left I could make out the arched supports of a bridge someway off..

Instinct told me to head to the bridge and as I set off, the sky lit up as lightning arced across the night sky and once more and the thunder rumbled ever closer.

“I could do with some advice right about now Plumduff ” I said to myself. Even O’Rourke’s unique approach would have been welcomed and wandering through the unlit stretch of road I tried to understand why Quora had sent me here. I knew now that Thrumhall had caused key events of Plumduff’s life never to take place, and assumed that using the device he had done something similar to Crompton but here and now, this felt like oddly familiar.

I pulled the collar of my jacket around my ears and pushed on against the wind which was now blowing straight at me. With my vision obscured by both the darkness and the rain in my face the bridge drew closer and, some way off to one side, I could just make out the glowing tip of a cigarette.

Hurrying my pace I veered to the near side of the bridge, the sounds of the waves growing louder. It was hard to make much out in the darkness but the burning ember briefly sparked into life again and I could make out the face of a woman. It was the woman I had seen in my mind so often.

She jumped as I said hello. “Please just leave me alone” she said.

“Oh sorry, It’s just that I’m kind of lost.”

She drew deep on the cigarette and exhaled, the wind catching the smoke and whipping it upwards.

“You not got a car or anything?” she asked.

“No, like I said I don’t really know where I am.”

She nodded in the direction to our left. “Keep going that way you’ll find a pub about a mile up the road. The Goat and Hound.”

I paused staring at her face in the dark. “Do I know you?” I asked.

“I don’t know, do you? You from around here?”

“Maybe, I think so yeah.”

“Well what is it, do you or don’t you?” She took a final drag of the cigarette and flicked the stub out into the darkness.

“It’s hard to explain, I just…”

“The Goat and hound” she said again pointing up the road. “Won’t take you long.”

She took another cigarette from the packet and put it into her mouth.

“What ” she said staring back at me.

Every part of me said to not go but I did exactly what I knew not to.

“A mile you say? That way?” I said pointing up the road.

“Yeah” she replied and shielding the flame of the lighter from the wind she lit the cigarette.

“Okay thanks” I replied and slowly walked past her. “What’s your name by the way, I’m Armitage.”

“Isobel” she answered without looking up.

I paused, desperate to keep talking to her but she turned her back towards me away from the driving rain and out to sea.

The rain was now getting heavier and I made my way across the bridge, the lightning crackling overhead and the whole area lit up like daylight. I flinched at the sound of the thunder as it followed almost immediately after and out of the corner of my eye I made out a familiar shape in the dark.

“Hello Armitage” said Thrumhall, his voice as unmistakable as his form. He walked over from a knot of trees at the end of the bridge, a broad smile across his face.

I wanted to run but the only way was back towards her and something inside of me told me that I needed to keep him away from her at all costs.

“No need to run Boy” he continued, “it’ll all be over soon don’t you worry.”

“You know Thrumhall, you really are …” I paused struggling for the right words.


“You’re worse than that.”

“Careful now boy you’ll have me thinking you’re trying to get into my good books.”

I wanted to run, to fight, to warn Isobel but I just stood silent.

“Why did she let you through” I said, “Why didn’t she just leave you there?”

“What are you talking about. You mean the girl?” He seemed genuinely confused.

“Quora. The tree. Why did she send you through with me.”

“I think you must have taken a knock to the head because you lead me here. And grateful I am too because it was next on my list of places to see.”

The night lit up again and he noticed me looking at he damage to his face that O’Rourke had done.

“Handy fellow your Cardinal” he said licking a deep cut in his lip. “Went down like a true warrior.”

He saw me ball my fists and laughed. “Come on boy, you’ve had your fun but it’s time to give me back my device and we can get this over with.”

He reached out and grabbed my jacket, pulling me towards himself and rummaging through my pockets.

“Where is it, what did you do with it? And where are the Shadows? I need to get that portal open.”

My face told him before my words did that I didn’t have it and a look of anger spread across his face. He pulled out his pistol and pointed it to my head.

“I’m only going to ask you once meat sack.”

“I don’t have it, Quora sent…”

“Quora, I don’t know any Quora Armitage. Now give me my device.”

I shook my head defiantly. I couldn’t give him what I didn’t have but if I kept him busy for long enough maybe Isobel would somehow get away.

“I’ll tell you what we’re going to do shall we?” he said. The question was obviously rhetorical though and he brought the pistol down heavily across the side of my face. I could taste blood in my mouth and my legs turned to jelly. I would have fallen to the ground had he not be holding me up.

“Shut it” he barked slipping the pistol back into its holster as I mumbled something obscene about his mother hoping to distract him. It was to no avail though and ignoring my insults about the circumstances of his birth he began to drag me back across the bridge towards Isobel.

Her back was still to us, and with the rain hammering down and the flash and crash of the thunder and lightning she did not hear us approach. I struggled, my head spinning, but I was too weak and before I could stop him he reached out and wrapped an arm around her neck pulling her into his chest.

Isobel tried to scream, but his arm was cutting off her air and with nails clawing at his arm and legs dangling he lifted her from the floor.

“You still don’t get it do you” he said. “And I though you Entropy boys were meant to be bright.”

“”Let her go” I begged. “Please, she doesn’t deserve this she hasn’t done anything wrong.”

He threw me to the side and wrapped all of his arms around her.

“Armitage, if she dies you don’t get to save her and if you don’t save her you don’t get that shiny badge. ”

“But why not just kill me?”

He laughed and walked over to the guard rail. Isobel struggled against him but she was too weak to resist him. “You can’t really kill what’s already dead boy.”

As he lifted her up above the rail, her legs thrashing, I summonsed every last bit of strength I had and lunged forward for his pistol, pulling it out of the holster that hung at his side. He spun to try and kick me away but it was too late and as I scrambled to my feet I pointed it at him.

Lightning cracked overhead, and I could that Isobel’s eyes were closed and she her kicking had almost slowed.

“Let her go Thrumhall, it’s over.”

“Over? It isn’t over boy. Not until I say so.” Once more he dangled her over the rail and laughed. “What you going to do now then?”

I walked forward purposefully, fearful and desperate despite the weapon I held in my hand. “Either let her go or I finish you right now. We all go down together.” The words seemed unfamiliar coming from my mouth and Thrumhall could tell I was afraid.

“I don’t think so” he said and steadying himself on one of the heavy steel supports stepped up onto the guard rail still holding her. “This really how you want it to pan out Armitage?”

Desperate I held out the pistol and placed it on the floor in front of me. “Okay, you win” I said my hand shaking. “Take it.”

He grinned and jumped down from the rail and kicked the pistol away from me to where he stood.

“You know what Boy” he said, his eyes now wide and a grimace on his face.

“What” I said. Not that I cared what he had to say.

“You should have pulled the trigger when you had the chance.” and with that he dropped Isobel’s limp body over the side and into darkness.


Part 32

The In-between – Part 30 of 31

…I had expected to drift off into nothing, so you can imagine my surprise when it turned out that the afterlife would turn out to be an experience that, whilst not the Hell the door knocking Christians assured me I was destined for, was never the less turning out to be a pretty awful state of affairs.

Okay so I’m doing M’s prompts going to try and do a full month as one long story with no planning. Today it is ‘Velvety Violets’.

The instructions are to simply write for ten minutes or so each day and that’s about it. It’s certainly taking me longer than ten minutes and now looking like I will probably do all 31 as one long story. Who’d have thought eh…

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8 Part 9 Part 10 Part 11 Part 12 Part 13 Part 14 Part15 Part16 Part 17 Part18 Part 19 Part 20 Part 21 Part 22 Part 23 Part 24 Part25 Part 26 Part27 Part 28 Part 29

In life I was not at all a religious type, preferring a scientific view of the universe and all within it and it was one that I was wholly comfortable with and that, for the most part, served me well.  On my demise I had expected to drift off into nothing, so you can imagine my surprise when it turned out that the afterlife would turn out to be an experience that, whilst not the Hell the door knocking Christians assured me I was destined for, was never the less turning out to be a pretty awful state of affairs.

“Armitage, your shoes” said O’Rourke pointing as I staggered to my feet, my face contorted. The searing pain in my shoulder made my head spin wildly and every movement I made was agony. What was left of Plumduff pooled at my feet staining my shoes once more.

“I don’t want to be here anymore” I said hobbling forwards towards O’Rourke. “I would very much like to be somewhere else so would you mind terribly if we left because I really don’t feel very good?”

“Armitage, I’m sorry” said the remaining Plumduff walking over and placing a hand on my arm. “I know you were friends. She was so worried about you when you became separated.”

“Yes, I guess we were” I said. “Funny how you get used to somebody so quickly isn’t it. It’s as if we had known each other for far longer than we did.”

“She was a damn fine woman indeed” said O’Rourke.

“And then before you know it” I continued, “they are little more than a tide line on your only good pair of shoes.”

O’Rourke placed his hands on my shoulders, not seeming to care that it was absolute agony for him to do so. “Okay boy, it’s been a long day hasn’t it.”

I nodded and turned to Plumduff. “What about you Margaret, what happens now?”

Plumduff forced a smile. “I will be just fine” she said, “I have no reason to stay now. I only came back for Clarissa.”

She fell silent for a while and O’Rourke and I shuffled uncomfortably where we stood. “Before you go though are you going to tell me why you came here? Or how? I’m sure you realise how little sense all of this makes right?”

“We’re all out of sense I am afraid” said O’Rourke, “and by way of answers the cupboard is a little bare too. I do know though that you were supposed to…”

And before O’Rourke could say any more he realised with a gut wrenching terror that in all of the chaos we had neglected to tie up Thrumhall.  He noticed as the giant hulk of a creature stirred on the floor, “You two get out of here now” he shouted pushing past me and hurling himself through the air towards where he lie.

Groggily Thrumhall threw out an arm instinctively and roared as O’Rourke was sent flying across the floor and on wobbly legs got to his feet shaking his head and turning first to where O’Rourke lay and then towards us.

“Quick now Margaret, go” I said grabbing her by the arm and pulling her towards the stair case.

O’Rourke raised himself back up and stood fists clenched. “Come here you big bugger” he said rolling his neck until it clicked. “Let’s finish this shall we?”

Thrumhall looked at the pool on the floor and then over to where Plumduff and I were heading for the staircase and let out a booming laugh. “Looks like I win Cardinal, and you tried so very hard didn’t you” he mocked.

“Oh shut your cake hole” O’Rourke replied and with fists balled and white knuckles he threw himself at Thrumhall.

As much as I wanted to stay and help which, if I am honest, was a matter for debate, I didn’t and Plumduff and I hurried down the stairs and into the room. Each step made me wince and as we crossed the floor we could hear the fight above as it thundered throughout the building. I heard Thrumhall roar in pain which was soon followed by a crash as if something large had fallen to the floor.

“You go Maggie” I said pointing her to the door. “Down the hill to the river I will catch you up.”

“Where are you going?” she asked. “You’re hurt you need to get away, O’Rourke said so.”

“Just go, you’ll know where you need to be when you see it. I need to make sure he’s okay.”

I pushed her towards the door and watched her squeeze through the gap and out onto the veranda. “Keep going, down the hill.”

There was another crash and the sound of breaking glass and I could hear both men shouting.

“That the best you got big man” shouted O’Rourke. “Come on, you don’t get to have a breather” and his footsteps thundered across the floor above once more. I peered up the stair case as I pressed against the wall to try and get a glimpse but unable to see anything I climbed the stairs slowly.

About half way up Thrumhall shouted something in what I could only assume was his mother tongue and a single shot rang out. The footsteps suddenly stopped and there was a thump as something hit the floor.

Instinct told me to flee and as Thrumhall let out a wild guttural roar I bolted down the stairs as fast as I was able and across the floor. I let out a scream of pain as I squeezed between the hanging doors and heard Thrumhall bellow from above.

“I hear you down there” he said his voice wild and full of hatred. “Thrumhall’s coming for you boy.”

With my heart racing and head spinning adrenaline coursed through me, my instincts screaming to run as fast as I could for the portal and to not look back. Run I did but as I rounded one of the houses at the brow of the hill I turned back to see him burst through the doors and step out onto the veranda.

“I see you boy” he shouted and squeezed a shot from the pistol which tore into the corner of the building just above my head. His face twisted with rage and his eyes bulging he kicked over a clay pot filled with violets as he strode down the stairs sending it cashing into the side of the building opposite.

I needed to further invitation to run and despite the pain tore off as fast as my legs could carry me. Weaving between the buildings I could hear his booming voice behind not far behind me.

“Armitage, here” came a strained voice as I reached the brow of the hill. I skidded to a halt on the pathway next to a small building with a collapsed roof. Plumduff was hidden away just inside the darkened doorway.

“Margaret, what are you doing?” I said stretching out my hand, panting. “You cant stay here come on, we need to go now.”

“This is my home Armitage, I don’t want to leave. I can’t.” The look on her face was one I had seen before and I knew she was not going to change her mind.

But this was her home, not mine, and I had no intention of staying. “Margaret I have to go. I’m sorry, just stay down okay I’ll lead him away.”

“Then go Armitage, and be careful.” She surged, smiling a last time before sliding away into the debris of the house.

My legs felt like lead as I pushed on down the hill, and as I looked back over my shoulder I could see Thrumhall in pursuit his form silhouetted against the setting sun.

“I see you boy ” he bellowed and a shot tore into the ground next to me.

I weaved and ducked as another rang out, the portal now in sight and growing larger. The more I focussed the more the grey in my periphery grew until only a thin slice of reality waited before me, urging me on. More shots exploded in the earth around me but I refused to look back, all my will concentrated on fighting the pain in my shoulder and the fire in my legs.

It was so close now, so close that I could feel the hum in the air vibrating through me and with a final lung bursting effort I slid down the sandy bank and splashed through the shallows of the river. The cold grey beyond the portal rim was right there in front of me and with my heart feeling like it would explode I hurled myself through and tumbled through to the other side.

I could barely get the words out as I lay crumpled my chest heaving “Close it” I shouted, close it now.”

I lifted my head and could see Thrumhall scrambling down the bank. “Quora, close the portal now” I shouted.

“Hello Armitage” she said, her voice cold and harsh. “Did you find what you were looking for?”

Thrumhall splashed through the river, I could see a broad grin on his face and he raised his pistol as he neared the portal.

“Close it Quora, close it.”

As Thrumhall tumbled through the portal after me my head began to spin and the pain overwhelmed me.

“Oh Armitage” she said laughing “you really don’t see how this works do you. I told you there would be a price to pay.”

Part 31

The In-between – Part 29 of 31

As I lay on the floor I think of her again, the face of a woman both kind and gentle and she reminds me that it is good to be brave, but it is also good to be careful and that if you are careful then you will not get into situations that require you to be brave.

Okay so I’m doing M’s prompts going to try and do a full month as one long story with no planning. Today it is ‘Candy Curtsies’.

The instructions are to simply write for ten minutes or so each day and that’s about it. It’s certainly taking me longer than ten minutes and now looking like I will probably do all 31 as one long story. Who’d have thought eh…

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8 Part 9 Part 10 Part 11 Part 12 Part 13 Part 14 Part15 Part16 Part 17 Part18 Part 19 Part 20 Part 21 Part 22 Part 23 Part 24  Part25 Part 26  Part27    Part 28

As I lay on the floor I think of her again, the face of a woman both kind and gentle and she reminds me that it is good to be brave, but it is also good to be careful and that if you are careful then you will not get into situations that require you to be brave.

I hear Plumduff giving orders as I slip in and out of consciousness, the pain in my shoulder burning like fire.  “Untie O’Rourke and then bring the ropes, we need to bind this one before he comes around.”

In my confused state I imagine it is me they are talking about and swing my good arm wildly through the air before collapsing back onto Thrumhall.

“Never going to take me” I insist as Plumduff hooks me underneath my arms and drags me free.  “Hey your shoulder is okay, we’re like twins Maggie.”

“Let’s not get too familiar eh boy, Its Margaret to you thank you very much” Plumduff replies without once moving her lips.

“Hey how did you do that?” I ask my face a study in confusion.

“Armitage, over here.”

I look towards the source of the voice to realise that there is now a second Plumduff and confused I then look back to the first, then back to the second and then back again to the first.

“Margaret, you look like you but…younger.”

“Yes, yes thanks for that” Plumduff two replied curtly.  “We really don’t have time for this.”

Plumduff the younger was busy untying O’Rourke and once his hands were free he quite quickly extricated himself from the binds and hurried over to where Thrumhall lay.

“Tie him up and put him with the others” Plumduff the elder instructed pointing to a corner of the room where a number of Thrumhall’s henchmen already lay.

“Are they dead?” I asked straining to get a better look.

O’Rourke grinned even more broadly than usual.  “All in a day’s work boy, that’s what happens when you…”

“James, Please” snapped Plumduff  “He could come round any minute.”

O’Rourke stopped smiling and started to look the rope around his arm.  “Oh relax Maggie, Armitage here gave him a right old blow to the noggin, he’ll be out some time for sure.”

My Plumduff, as I decided to call her, leaned in and took a look at the wound in my shoulder.  She lifted me forward to see an exit hole in the back of my jacket.

“Straight through boy you’ll live,” she said and turned to where she had been before I barged into the room.  I looked to see a young girl sat leaning against the wall on a bed at the far end of the room.  She must have been no older then 12 or 13 years old and was dressed in a pale white dress “Clarissa, throw me that bag from the bed would you.”

A moment passed and Clarissa didn’t move.  “Clarissa, the bag, we need to get this patched.”  When she never answered a second time Plumduff shot to her feet and ran across the room just in time to grab her by the shoulders as she slumped onto the bed.

“O’Rourke, here now” she screamed, her voice panicked.

“What the hell happened Maggie” he asked stepping over Thrumhall.  Plumduff the younger followed and all three stood over her.

As Plumduff the younger climbed onto the bed, she took the girl from her older self and held her close to her chest  O’Rourke placed a hand on her stomach and pulled it away, red with her blood.

“The bullet Maggie.”

“No, no, no this can’t be it” she shouted staggering back.  “This isn’t how its supposed to end James.  This isn’t how it ends.”

O’Rourke turned to face her, his face ashen.  “It’s too late Maggie were losing her there’s nothing we can do.  We did our best.”

She caught the eye of her younger self who shook her head and with a single motion of her hand closed Clarissa’s eyes for  a final time.

“Armitage” she said turning to me.  She look old and worn, her shoulder bandaged and her yellow cardigan stained with blood.  “You need to be strong because our best wasn’t good enough, I am so very sorry.”

“Maggie wait, there must be something we can do” said O’Rourke wiping his blood stained hands on his trousers.  The desperation in his voice terrified me.  “This isn’t what happened but we can fix it, there must be a way back.  Armitage made it here, he must have the device so we can change it back.  You can still save her, there has to be something we can do.”

But there wasn’t, because her timeline was forever altered and the very reason for her existence within the fracture was no more and with that Margaret Plumduff dissolved into a pool on the floor before me.

Part 30 is here


The In-between – Part 28 of 31

The more she spoke the more I found myself growing impatient, she seemed intent on labouring the point and my concern was for Plumduff and O’Rourke and not for the dramatics she quite obviously enjoyed

Okay so I’m doing M’s prompts going to try and do a full month as one long story with no planning. Today it is “Hickory Dickory’.

The instructions are to simply write for ten minutes or so each day and that’s about it. It’s certainly taking me longer than ten minutes and now looking like I will probably do all 31 as one long story. Who’d have thought eh…

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8 Part 9 Part 10 Part 11 Part 12 Part 13 Part 14 Part15 Part16 Part 17 Part18 Part 19 Part 20 Part 21 Part 22 Part 23 Part 24 Part25 Part 26  Part27


Sometimes we do things that define us, that shape us and that show what we are truly capable of.  They are a measure of the very core of our character and speak of the nature of our person.  They are the fork in the road that dictates our path evermore and picking up the device from Plumduff’s desk and shoving it inside my jacket I considered that this could well be that moment for me.  I also considered that it was a particularly foolish idea and would almost certainly result in something quite terrible happening to me.

Before I had chance to second guess myself I slipped out of the office and into the courtyard with it.  It wouldn’t be long before McCann and the Gadzooks realised that I had disappeared with the device so I needed to move quickly and as I passed through the gates, heart racing, I slipped the ring from my finger and shoved it inside my pocket.

All around the my reality began to fade away, grey replacing the world around me and the still familiar sense of nothing filling my senses.  Once more I felt alone and lost and with no reference points for up or down my head began to swim.

“I wondered if I would see you” came a voice through the nothing.  I could hear it but I could feel it also, deep inside me as if trying to escape.  “I had so hoped you would heed my call but such are the hearts of men that your unpredictability is both your greatest strength and a weakness that so often betrays you.”

“Who are you?” I asked.  I could feel her clawing at my mind, exploring my thoughts. 

“You know of me Armitage, let’s not pretend, you came here looking for me and we met long ago when you first walked this plain.”

It had felt like mere days since I had first encountered her but I was in no way inclined to argue given all I had seen since I last stood in this sea of grey.  I spun around searching, and as quickly as the world I had known had faded to grey she was there, towering above me.  A feint hum filled the air and standing close I could see a blue light coursing through her.

I pulled out the device from inside my jacket and held it out in front of me.  It was cold and heavy in my hand and as the petals unfolded it crackled, shimmering with the same blue light that flowed through her.  “I need your help, my friends are in trouble.”

“You busy yourself with such toys and trinkets Armitage, would you not rather stay here with me instead?”  She asked as I looked up through her branches.  Though there was no sun to be seen I was suddenly now bathed in dappled light as it flooded through the canopy above and a sense of warmth and safety flooded over me.  “Let me give you respite from this reality.”

I could feel her presence surrounding me, speaking to me from inside my head.  “But my friends need me” I replied, every fibre of my being straining to resist the draw of the promise of rest.

“There will be a price you must pay if I am to help you Armitage.  Are you willing to pay what is due if I am to help you find them?”

Without waiting I answered that I was and that I would do whatever was necessary should she help. 

“It will be a heavy price Armitage” she continued “and I will insist on payment”.

The more she spoke the more I found myself growing impatient, she seemed intent on labouring the point and my concern was for Plumduff and O’Rourke and not for the dramatics she quite obviously enjoyed.

 “If it’s okay with you I really do need to be getting on” I replied.  “Are you able to help me get to my friends or not?”

“So be it” she said, her tone immediately harsh and cold.  The sunlight filtering through the leaves disappeared and a chill spread through me.  “Place the device at your feet and step back.”

Without waiting I did as she said, the hum in the air growing louder and the blue hue around the device pulsating and brightening.  The energy flowing through her began to pulse faster in time with the glow of the device until, with a loud crack, a bright arc of energy leapt from the tip of one of her lower branches to the core of the device.  As a second and third arc fizzed through the air and attached itself  a portal opened to the side of me, a deep orange circle cut into the air and beyond was the high banked river bed and the ramshackle wooden settlement I had seen back in the hanger.

“It’s time Armitage, go find your friends.” She said, her voice cold and angry, and without another question I ran and jumped through the portal.

Landing on the other side I was taken somewhat by surprise given everything was still grey.  The portal remained open and I could see the blue flickering light but apart from that everything was the same.  Gone was the river bed and the sloping hill, there was no collection of wooden buildings, just more grey. 

“Well that’s just great” I said to myself. 

I walked back over to the portal and peered through, my head in one reality and my body in another.

“I’m really sorry about this” I said feeling a little embarrassed, “don’t mean to trouble you again but I can’t seem to see anything at all.  Is something broken?”

For a moment there was no response other than what sounded very much like a sigh.

“Put the ring on Armitage” she answered.  “It’s in your pocket.”

“Oh yes” I said reaching into my pocket.  “Thanks.  Really.  I erm…I’ll just get going now” and turned back to my own side of the Portal. 

Slipping the ring onto my finger there was an explosion of colour as the grey nothing receded to my periphery, and in front of me I could see the settlement near the top of the hill that stretched away before me.   Above the sun shone bright in a blue sky and looking down at my feet I noticed, and by this point could feel, that I was ankle deep in the shallows of the river that crawled across the landscape. 

“Bugger” I exclaimed and slopped out onto the bank.  I could see there were knots of trees on each side of the hill but my instinct told me that I needed to head straight ahead. 

Scrambling up the river bank with the sun on my back I headed as quickly as I could up the hill until approaching the brow I stopped for a moment against the first ramshackle building.  It was set back some way from the others and as I peered out from behind it I could see nothing but desolation and destruction before me.  

A strong smell of burning drifted through the air, with the old wooden buildings scorched in places and completely destroyed in others, and debris was strewn across the worn dirt paths between them.  It was eerily quiet and the sound of my own breathing was all I could hear.

“Where are you Margaret?” I mumbled to myself as I continued down an overgrown path that lead towards the a small grouping of four buildings at the heart of the village.  Standing between them I looked about , they grey of my periphery revealing more buildings stretching away back down the hill, most of which looked to have been completely destroyed. 

As I approached the largest of the four central buildings, a double storied construction with a wide veranda and heavy doors that hung crookedly off their hinges, I was startled by a pair of large black birds that burst from one of the broken upstairs windows.  They disappeared into the distance and my heart raced.  I laughed, the madness of the situation not lost on me, and as I stood hand on hips to catch my breath I caught the feintest sound of voices.

As quietly as I could I hurried over to the side of the main building and pressed myself up against the wall just below a tall window.  The glass had been broken from the inside and I winced as it crunched beneath my feet.  As the sound of my own breathing calmed I picked out the unmistakable sound of Thrumhall and O’Rourke, it seemed to be coming from upstairs and though it was hard to make out what they were saying, from the tone I could tell that O’Rourke’s luck might have run out.

I walked back around to the front of the building and stepped onto the veranda, keeping as close as I could to the front of the building.  It was at this point, as I prepared myself to push through the gap between the doors, that I realised that I had in my possession exactly nothing that would be of any use in a fight.  Looking about I picked up one of the spindles that had previously been part of the balustrade  to the front and weighed it in my hands. 

“Great, and what exactly do you presume to do with it?” I whispered to myself feeling wholly out of my depth.  Obviously I should have brought McCann and the other Gadzooks but I’d had enough of other people getting me out of trouble.

As I squeezed through the gap in the doors I could hear stomping from the floor above, and Thrumhall’s laugh boomed out.  The room had a large dark wooden table that ran from one end to another and upturned chairs were scattered around the room.  On the walls there were tattered remnants of banners and brightly coloured flags and a cooking fireplace sat against one wall.  Towards the back of the room was a single staircase that lead to the floor above.

“Not got such a big mouth now do we Cardinal.” Shouted Thrumhall.

“I will have you know that this is not even in my top five beatings you fish headed son of a swine.”

The footsteps stopped and there was a loud crack and I could hear O’Rourke gasp.

“Okay, okay, top five” he said, his voice shaking “but you’ve a long way to go until you get top three.”

Thrumhall roared with laughter.  “I like your spirit, even if it going to get you killed.”

“Again?” Replied O’Rourke.


“Again, killed again.  The Prussians beat you to it but you’re welcome to have another crack at it.”

Thrumhall struck him again.  “Do you ever shut up?”

My heart leapt as I heard Plumduff shout, that familiar matronly tone in her voice.  “No he doesn’t.  James, just be quiet will you.”

With the baton in my hand I tiptoed across the floor stepping over the broken chairs and other detritus that was scattered about.  I moved onto the stairs and slowly, step by step, ascended –  holding my breath each time the boards creaked.  About half way up I could see enough to look into the room and the first thing I saw was the back of Thrumhall and a glimpse of O’Rourke beyond.  Plumduff was nowhere to be seen.

“Let’s do this then shall we?” Said Thrumhall pulling his pistol from his holster.

“Thrumhall, you don’t need to do this” Plumduff shouted. 

“Oh but I do Margaret, I need to most definitely do this and once I have done this then I’ll deal woih you and the rest of the Office of Entropy.”

“Come on you big freak, do it.” Shouted O’Rourke. “Do it, do it I can’t be killed don’t you know.”

He raised his pistol.  “We’ll see about that shall we?”

It was at this point that I did the only thing I could think if and taking the last few steps two at a time burst onto the upper floor with the baton raised and ran for all I was worth towards where Thrumhall was still talking.

O’Rourke saw me before Thrumhall heard me. “Oh you’re in for it now” he shouted straining against the ties that held him to a heavy wooden chair.  At that point he must have heard my advancing footsteps and turned bringing the pistol to bare on me just as I brought drove the baton into his face right between the eyes.

The weapon discharged as he fell to the floor, the sound deafening.  As Thrumhall fell at my feet motionless I collapsed on top of him screaming, a searing pain in my left shoulder and my head spinning .

I heard Plumduff call my name as I fell and as I hit Thrumhall and twisted I looked up to see her rushing across the room.  Perhaps it was the pain or the adrenaline but I was pretty certain that there were two of her.

Part 29 is here


The In-between – Part 27 of 31

As we left the hustle of the main through fare behind and headed back to the office my mind turned to Plumduff and O’Rourke. It had been hours now since they disappeared into the portal behind Thrumhall and I felt helpless to do anything about it.

Okay so I’m doing M’s prompts going to try and do a full month as one long story with no planning. Today it is “Hobnobbed’.

The instructions are to simply write for ten minutes or so each day and that’s about it. It’s certainly taking me longer than ten minutes and now looking like I will probably do all 31 as one long story. Who’d have thought eh…

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8 Part 9 Part 10 Part 11 Part 12 Part 13 Part 14 Part15 Part16 Part 17 Part18 Part 19 Part 20 Part 21 Part 22 Part 23 Part 24 Part25 Part 26

Back at Eldin’s McCann put the device on the table.  “There must be something you can tell us” she insisted.  ” We need to find Plumduff, you won’t get your money if we cant work out where they are and she ends up dead.”

I watched from the bed as the remaining Gadzooks poured over it.  Eldin picked it up and turned it in her hands.

“You have it all wrong McCann, you need to ask yourself ‘when’ and not ‘where’.”

McCann shot her a glance that insisted she continue.

“The thing I showed Plumduff, before she sent you to fetch this lot” and she waved a hand dismissively at Taylor, Jones, Simpson, Sparrow and Mason “was this.”  She walked McCann over to the computer screen and pointed.  “You see?”

“What is that?”  McCann looked confused.

“You still don’t get it?”

“They’re going back to stop her” said Taylor who had joined them. “Right?”

“Bingo” said Eldin.  “Pretty simple really, they take you out before you even know they’re coming for you an you will never know you’re even in trouble.”

I could tell from the silence that McCann had no idea what to do and got up from the bed and walked over.  “When are they going to?”

Eldin pointed at the screen.

“But that’s her date of death?”

Pulling up a chair she sat down in front of the screen and began to punch the keys.  Her fingers were a blur and pictures and data flashed before them.

“Margaret Rebecca Plumduff, primary date of death, location, timeline – it’s all there.”  She wheeled away from the screen to allow us to a better view.

“If that’s her date of death then why kill her then?  Makes no sense.”  Said McCann.

“Since when did ‘sense’ have anything to do with this?” I said.  If I had learned anything in the last few days it was that the least sensible option was more than likely going to be the answer to whatever question you might pose.  “So how do we get there Eldin, there must be something we can do to get that thing working?”

She smiled and pushed her hair behind her ear.  “Armitage, if I could help you I would – you seem nice enough – but I have no information on this thing other than what I have seen.  Unless you can get your hands on a couple of shadows I really don’t know, and even then I have no idea how to use it.”

“Okay, thanks Eldin”.  As far as I could tell she seemed to be telling the truth and had no reason to lie to us.

“He did ask for something else too.”

“Do tell” said Taylor.

“He has information on all of you, and was especially interested in you Armitage.”

I knew I ought to be afraid but after all that had happened I simply couldn’t muster anything other than something that came close to anger.  Perhaps not quite anger but certainly something of a mix of defiance and indignation.

“Well let him come for me” I said putting my hands on my hips, legs spread wide.  I saw McCann smile and suddenly felt rather self conscious and  shoved my hands into my trouser pockets and shuffled uncomfortably.

“That’s the spirit” she said turned back to Eldin.  “I need a copy of everything you gave him please.”

Eldin handed her a data stub.  “Figured you’d ask.”

“So what now then?” Asked Mason, “what’s the plan boss?”

“Back to the Office I guess” she said picking up the device from the desk.  We need to get this thing working.

“There is one more option” Eldin added as we turned to leave.

“Is there not perhaps a non risky option?” I asked.  “Maybe one that involves cups of tea?”

Eldin ignored my question.  “You could go and see her McCann, Quora.”

As we walked back to the office, the streets still full of life, McCann was unusually quiet.

“You going to force me to ask then aren’t you?” I said catching up with her.

“I’m sorry” she said as if a million miles away.  “Lost in thought I guess.”

“Who’s Quora?” I asked.

McCann didn’t reply so I asked again.  “McCann, Quora, who is she?”

“Do you remember when you arrived here?  When everything was grey and you wandered lost through the nothing?”

“Yes” I said.  I remembered it all too well and given the events of the last few days it held a certain appeal still.

“You met her then Armitage.”

“I never met any…Oh, I see.” I said realising that she meant the tree.  “I didn’t much care for her I will be honest.  Gave me the willies.”

“Eldin has a point though, may be worth a go.”

“Is there anything here that isn’t an immediate threat to life and limb” I asked.

“Perhaps we should just head back to the Office and talk about it there” McCann suggested.

As we left the hustle of the main through fare behind and headed back to the office my mind turned to Plumduff and O’Rourke.  Not only did we not know where they were but thanks to the device even the ‘when’ was an unknown.  If we were to find them then we were going to need some luck, and unfortunately our luck had disappeared through that portal with Plumduff.


Part 28 is here


The In-between – Part 26 of 31

Its actually looking like I might finish this…who’d have thought.


Okay so I’m doing M’s prompts going to try and do a full month as one long story with no planning. Today it is “Century of Certainty’.

The instructions are to simply write for ten minutes or so each day and that’s about it. It’s certainly taking me longer than ten minutes and now looking like I will probably do all 31 as one long story. Who’d have thought eh…I had a real problem with this today, just no real time to write and when I did it was in fits and starts so it has felt all over the place but you know, I need to keep ploughing on and plough on I will and I will fix it when I edit it one day 🙂

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8 Part 9 Part 10 Part 11 Part 12 Part 13 Part 14 Part15 Part16 Part 17 Part18 Part 19 Part 20 Part 21 Part 22 Part 23 Part 24 Part25

“Should we not wait for the other Gadzooks?” I asked I watched Plumduff going through her bag. She pulled out a device and laid it on the table in front of her, her face still large on the screens. She held a small gold dial in her hand and watch as the handles moved slowly until they came to a stop.

“They’ll catch us up I am sure boy, but we need to move fast. According to this your watch is not on Nin, not yet. But they’ll be back soon enough.”

O’Rourke had found a bottle of something and was pouring himself a large glass of a golden liquid. “And exactly where will you find them?”

“I won’t” she replied her gaze fixed on the device. “The ‘where’ I am going to leave up to you.”

“Probably a pub then” I said joking. Neither of them laughed.

“If McCann is right about you then it’s only a matter of time until we find them again. Destiny, fate, luck – call it what you will – you have a knack O’Rourke and this time you can use it for something other than getting out of an unnecessary scrape or winning on the horses.”

O’Rourke grinned and took a long drink from his glass.

Plumduff put the device inside her cardigan pocket. “Eldin will you bring up a map of Nin for me please.” Eldin obliged and Plumduff poured over it on the screen for a while. “Where to then James?” she asked stepping back from the screen. “Pick a place.”

O’Rourke said nothing and simply pointed to a location on the map and continued with his drink. I think he was enjoying the attention and casually wandered over to stand next to Eldin who promptly walked back to where he had just walked from.

“You sure?” Asked Plumduff.

He nodded and smiled. There was something both charming and unnerving about him and you really would not want him spending any time with your wife.

“Thank you Eldin” said Plumduff heading for the door. “I will make good on our arrangement when this is all over I assure you.”

Eldin said nothing but raised a hand and waved briefly and watched as O’Rourke and I followed her from the room and out of the building back down to the streets below.

“Margaret” I shouted as I ran to catch her up.  “What’s going on?” I asked struggling to keep up with her. “What did she show you?”

“I wouldn’t worry yourself” she replied weaving her way through the crowds. It was late but there will so many creatures from every reality scurrying back and forth. “It’s more a hunch than facts anyway.”

“I thought we were meant to be partners” I insisted placing a hand on her shoulder. “Where are we going?”

Plumduff stopped and spun around to face me, O’Rourke a short distance behind us as he fought distractions at every step.

“He’s after me Armitage, and he probably intends to do to me what he did to Crompton and if we don’t stop him then he will not stop until he finishes us all off. Now keep up, we need to hurry.”

“Margaret, could we maybe stop off here?” O’Rourke shouted as he peered through the window of the ‘Goat and Hound’. “It looks most welcoming and I do have quite a thirst.”

“No you certainly cannot” she shouted back curtly, and we set off again.

Twenty minutes later we had left the bustle of the Nin’s main thoroughfare behind and we climbed upwards through winding streets. Gone was the neon, the high hab blocks giving way to smaller industrial zones which sprawled away into the distance. The streets were dimly lit and Plumduff lead us onwards with a determination and clickety clack of shoes which echoed in the still of night.

“Much further Maggie?” Asked O’Rourke trailing behind.

“There’s a dirigible yard up ahead, that’s where we’re heading” she answered and reached into her bag to check the dial linked to my watch.

“And why are we going there again?”

“Really O’Rourke, are you actually paying any attention at all?”

“No, not at all” he answered sharply.

“This way” she said taking a turn to her left and leading us through a wide set of open gates into a broad forecourt. In front of us was a huge hanger. On one door was a logo of a transport dirigible above the skyline of a city and on the other the company logo which read “Foreshaw Dirigibles”.

“In there then is it?” I asked, pointing to a small door within the larger hanger door.

Plumduff stopped and waited for O’Rourke to catch up, again checking the dial and popping it back into her bag. O’Rourke stood and looked up at the doors towering above us.

“Big doors” he said quite matter of fact.

I wasn’t really sure how to answer so didn’t, instead waiting to see what Plumduff would do next.

“Moment of truth gentlemen” she said turning the handle of the smaller door. There was a click and she opened it about an inch. No alarm went off.

“If McCann is right, and O’Rourke is somehow blessed with immense luck then I am trusting that at some point in the evening to come we will encounter Mr Thrumhall and his colleagues.”

O’Rourke grinned and slapped me on the back. “Come on Lad, adventure awaits” he said and unholstering his pistol pushed through the door ahead of Plumduff.
All clear he shouted back.

“After you Armitage” Plumduff said and pulled the door closed as she followed through behind me.
You sure about this? I asked turning her. “How can you be sure?”
“Armitage my boy, I have been here for more than a hundred years and I have never been less certain of anything but we have no other options. Now lets not dilly dally eh.”

The room was big, bigger than big, it was downright huge.  Machinery lined the walls and above winches and chains hung from the roof which was barely visible in the dim light provided by strip lights on the walls. A small dirigible floated at the far end of the hanger and a small windowed cabin was suspended beneath the long oval balloon section and the whole thing was tethered with a long rope to a steel hoop embedded in the hanger floor.

“Back there” said Plumduff pointed towards where it hung, “we need to find some cover.”

“You sure about this Maggie?” Said O’Rourke. “I had hoped for something a little more…shooty.”

“No, I’m not sure at all. But time will tell.”

O’Rourke wheeled a number of tool cases over and lined them up to prevent us from being seen by anyone coming through the doors and Plumduff pulled out the dial and sat on the floor with it in the palm of her hand waiting for it to move.

I tried to make small talk with them both but they seemed quite happy to sit quietly and wait. I still had so many questions about so many things yet now didn’t seem the time. Plumduff was especially quiet, the reality perhaps preying on her mind. We waited for a couple of hours with O’Rourke’s snoring the only noise and Plumduff constantly checking the dial.

As I lay staring up at the roof, my jacket propped beneath my head, Plumduff shook my leg and pointed at O’Rourke sat propped up against the tool case. “Wake him up boy” she whispered.

I shook O’Rourke and he opened his eyes slowly. “What is it, breakfast?”

Plumduff shushed him and gestured to the dial. I crawled over to her and it was moving, the hands rotating slowly and coming. She grinned as they stopped moving. “They’re on Nin.”

I crawled back to where I had been laid and peered out just as a bright blue flash lit up the room. The lights dimmed and then went out and for a moment the hanger was plunged into darkness. Moments later I watched as an orange circle appeared hovering just above the ground and from within stepped Thrumhall, four shadows and three of his gang. Plumduff looked over at O’Rourke who shrugged and gave her a thumbs up. She shook her head frantically as he pulled out his pistol and readied himself to stand.

“No” she said as quietly as she could. Wait.

The portal closed as quickly as it had opened and Thrumhall walked towards the centre of the room, the device visible in his hand. Plumduff motioned for me to stay low as she squeezed herself beneath the tool store to get a better look.

From the dark I continued to peer out and watched as Thrumhall placed the device on the floor and the shadows positioned themselves at either side of it. He stood over it bathed in the blue light emanating from it and as we had seen at Eldin’s, and arc’s of silver and blue electricity fizzed between the shadows and the device. The stars in the blackness of their forms burned more fiercely and with a crackle portals began to appear all around them.

Nearest to me I could see the volcano I had seen in the painting of Crompton, the red crown spewing lava high into the air as smoke billows upwards. There were oceans and plains, mountains and cities. Nearest to Thrumhall I could see a city that seemed so familiar yet as I scrambled through my mind to place it it slipped through my fingers and the thought was lost.

“What the devil” said O’Rourke his head just above mine as I peeked out. “That’s quite a thing don’t you think?”

I nodded and shushed him as Thrumhall walked over to a portal beyond which I could see a tree covered hill and a small wooden shacked settlement. A slow flowing river with high banks ran close to the opening. He turned to those with him and called them over, pointing into the portal and giving them instruction that I couldn’t quite make out. Daktar nodded and the three of them stepped through and disappeared. Thrumhall waited for a moment, pulled his pistol from his belt, and then passed through after them with .the two remaining shadows.

Plumduff had slid back out from underneath the trolley and was now stood behind us, and she dragged us both back by the collar.

“O’Rourke, we need to go now” she said her face pale and panic written across her face. “Now James, we need to get through after them.”

That was all O’Rourke needed to know and he burst into a sprint after them, Plumduff on his heels. I scrambled to my feet and took flight after them convince that this was by far the most stupid thing I had ever done. O’Rourke closed in on the portal and not looking back threw himself through it and disappeared.

As Plumduff neared it the shadows suddenly sprung into life, taking up a defensive position around the device and coiled as if to pounce.

She skirted the first as it lashed out at her narrowly missing. “Keep going boy” she yelled as she tumbled through after O’Rourke. It was too late though and the shadows now stood between me and the portal, their eyes burning like the sun and arcs of electricity cutting through the air.

I took a step back thinking that I might be able to take a run and get past but they began to advance on me. I scrambled backward and fell, my pistol spilling across the floor and they continued to bare down on my position. Reaching behind I tried to find it but it had slid under the cabinets behind which we had hidden and was out of reach.

They were now close enough for me to see the stars burning in the blackness of their bodies, and I thought this was it – my luck was about to run out – when suddenly they stopped. The blue glow emanating from the device dimmed and they instantly scampered back to it but it was too late, the connection between them and it had been severed and the portals quite suddenly disappeared as the hangar was plunged into near darkness.

I took the opportunity to scramble towards the back of the hangar and in the direction of a small door I had noticed when we had been waiting earlier. Feeling around in the dark I found what felt like a handle and pulled. A door opened and I quickly ran through pulling it closed behind me before collapsing to the floor against it with my heart pounding in my chest.

Sat in the dark I waited for the shadows to find me, convinced still that this was the end of the line for me once again. I had no idea what had happened to O’Rourke or Plumduff and had no way to contact McCann or anyone else from the Office. I put my ear to the door and listened. I could hear something outside, something scratching and scraping and coming closer.

Gripped with panic I scrambled around on the floor reaching out in the dark looking for anything that I might be able to defend myself with. As my hand felt something hard and cold and as I examined it I realised it was a chair. I picked it up by the legs and held it up ready to swing as the I heard the door handle turning slowly. Holding my breath I waited, prepared to make one last stand against the shadows.

As the door flew open I screamed. It was not a particularly manly scream, but it was a scream none the less and as I swung the chair wildly it met something soft and there was a groan as something hit the floor.

“Bloody hell, steady on Armitage” said McCann. “We’re on the same side remember.”

Part 27

The In-between – Part 25 of 31

“Keep an eye on her Armitage” Plumduff said as O’Rourke laid Eldin on the bed. “She’s going to be a little feisty when she wakes up I expect. Elizabeth, give the boy a hand will you.”

Okay so I’m doing M’s prompts going to try and do a full month as one long story with no planning. Today it is ‘Frilly frocks’.

The instructions are to simply write for ten minutes or so each day and that’s about it. It’s certainly taking me longer than ten minutes but I will keep going with this for as long as I can and see where each days takes this.

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8 Part 9 Part 10 Part 11 Part 12 Part 13 Part 14 Part15 Part16 Part 17 Part18 Part 19 Part 20 Part 21  Part 22  Part 23 Part 24

“Keep an eye on her Armitage” Plumduff said as O’Rourke laid Eldin on the bed.  “She’s going to be a little feisty when she wakes up I expect.  Elizabeth, give the boy a hand will you.”

“Sure thing” she replied.  “You off somewhere Margaret?”

Plumduff turned to reveal blood soaking through her cardigan.  “No, just need to patch this up.”

“Here Maggie” O’Rourke called as he rummaged through a small cabinet hanging over a sink at the far end of the room. “Looks like there’s some bandages in here.”  While O’Rourke helped bandage Plumduff up McCann bound Eldin’s hands and feet.

“Is that really necessary?” I asked.  She seemed pretty harmless.  “I would have thought she’d be grateful to us when she comes around.”

“Just a precaution Armitage” McCann insisted.  “Better safe than sorry.”

I looked down at the girl on the bed.  She was wearing a long grey cloak over a long flowing white dress with frills around the bottom.  Jet black hair fell about her shoulders and I would have said she was human were it not for what seemed to be gills in her neck and the scaled pattern that ran from her chest up towards her ears.   McCann saw me staring.

“Balerian” she said. “You don’t see many of them on land so trust me, there must be good reason for it.”

“No harm done?” McCann asked sitting on the edge of the bed.

I shook my head and grinned.  “No, I was too busy hiding.  I did see her again though.”

“The girl?”

“Yeah, seems to be happening more and more.”

McCann patted the bed next to her.  “You know Armitage, you’re lucky to be here – we all are.  Most of our kind are gone when they’re gone.  You should try enjoy yourself and let go of the past.”

“Enjoy.  Right” I said sitting down.  ” I don’t even know who she is Elizabeth.”

McCann didn’t respond because Eldin started to stir, opened her eyes and began screaming at us at the top of her voice.

“Woah steady on” McCann said putting a hand over her mouth.  Eldin struggled and thrashed around on the bed as she did so. “Hold her legs down.”  Eldin’s eyes were wide and she was surprisingly strong for her size. “Calm yourself girl, we’re the good guys okay, you’re safe now.”

Her eyes darted around the room as she breathed heavily, her gills opening and closing in time with her rising chest..

“Everything okay over there McCann?” shouted Plumduff.  Eldin seemed to recognise the voice and strained to try and see the source of it.

“Hello Eldin.” Plumduff walked across, her arm now in a sling folded across her chest.   “You can untie her Elizabeth, we’re old acquaintances.”

Eldin remained fixed on Plumduff as McCann pulled out a short bladed knife from inside her boot and cut the ties around her hands and feet.  She looked at me for a moment and then at O’Rourke and  eventually back to Plumduff.

“Where did they go?” She asked, her voice soft, warm and almost lyrical.  “Where’s Thrumhall?”

“Gone my dear” O’Rourke said striding over and straightening himself.  “Fought them off almost single headedly don’t you know.  James O’Rourke at your service.”  He gave a clumsy half bow.

Calm yourself cardinal” Plumduff said as McCann smiled knowingly.  “So Eldin” Plumduff continued.  “I think we have a lot to talk about don’t you.”

Eldin sat up and swung her legs over the edge of the bed. She winced and touched her face where a large bruise was already forming.  “What have you got yourself mixed up with Margaret?  Those are some pretty nasty sorts and they are most interested in you and your officers.”

“Don’t let me stop you” Plumduff said.  “Carry on.”

“You know who he is right?  Thrumhall.  You know what he has and what he plans to do with it?  I assume that’s why you’re after him.”  McCann shot a glance at Plumduff that told Eldin that the most esteemed Office of Entropy knew a lot less than she did and started to laugh.  “Oh my god Maggie you have no idea do you.”

Plumduff didn’t find it funny in the slightest.  Eldin hopped down from the bed and walked over to the machines sat on the table.  “That’s what they were after”.  She pointed at the screen and the colour drained from Plumduff’s face.

“I’d suggest you work out a way of finding them before they find you Maggie, all of you.”

Plumduff turned sharply on her feels and waved a hand towards McCann.  “You need to get the rest of the Gadzooks and bring them back here as quickly as possible.  And make sure they’re armed okay.   Don’t tarry girl, chop chop.”

McCann didn’t stay to ask why and with a nod of the head ran from the room, her footsteps echoing down the hall until the outside door slammed closed behind her and she was gone.

“Anything else you can tell us” she asked turning back to Eldin.

“You going to pay me for this?” Eldin said folding her arms defiantly.  “Information doesn’t come cheap you know.”

“When it’s all over you can name your price, but now I need you to tell me what I need to know.”

Eldin considered her position and decided that perhaps she had more to gain from being owed by Plumduff than she did by Thrumhall.   “All I can tell you is that that to trigger that device he needs the shadows, and he needs them at their most powerful.”

At this point I had a moment of clarity of the sort that had avoided me since I had arrived at the In Between and for once I was ahead of Plumduff.

“That’s why he brought us back here” I said.  “And why he always has them with him.”

“Got yourself a bright one there Maggie” Eldin said.  “Cute too, for one of your kind.”

I felt myself blushing as she turned back to Plumduff smiling.  “So what’s your plan then?  I don’t reckon you have long Maggie.”

Plumduff straightened herself as best as she could with her good arm.  “Armitage, be a dear and fetch me my bag would you.  I have an idea.”


Part 26

The In-between – Part 24 of 31

For the second time I found myself back in Plumduff’s office wondering whether I might be able to get a new pair of shoes. McCann handed me a drink and Plumduff paced back and force behind her desk.

Okay so I’m doing M’s prompts going to try and do a full month as one long story with no planning. Today it is ‘Pastel Perspectives’.

The instructions are to simply write for ten minutes or so each day and that’s about it. It’s certainly taking me longer than ten minutes but I will keep going with this for as long as I can and see where each days takes this.

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8 Part 9 Part 10 Part 11 Part 12 Part 13 Part 14 Part15 Part16 Part 17 Part18 Part 19 Part 20 Part 21  Part 22  Part 23

For the second time I found myself back in Plumduff’s office wondering whether I might be able to get a new pair of shoes.   McCann handed me a drink and Plumduff paced back and force behind her desk.

“He was a good man” she said, “he deserved better than that.”

“You never saw anything at all then?” McCann repeated.

“No, nothing.  One minute he was about to ask me for something the next he was gone.”  I finished the drink in one and held out the glass for McCann to pour me another which she did.  “Has to be Thrumhall though, just has to be.”

Plumduff stopped pacing.  “You are likely right but how do we explain this?” She said and pointed to the picture above the fireplace.  Where once Crompton had stood so proudly now only the volcano and daffodils remained.  “It’s like he never existed.  This is something else.”

I took another drink.  “I don’t know how they did it but The witches, Gravita and Sadara, they greed that Crompton would be first.”

“First?” said Plumduff.

“With the rest of us to follow yes.”  I finished my drink and held it out for McCann to refill again.  As if witnessing what happened to Crompton wasn’t enough I probably had a similar fate to look forward to.

“What else did you see” McCann asked filling my glass.  “What was the device, what does it do?”

“From what I saw something to do with travelling between different realities within the Fracture.  He also insists on having shadows with him at all times, and he insisted we needed to come to Nin, where you found us, but beyond that I don’t know Elizabeth.  A lot of it is a blur to be honest.”

McCann and Plumduff exchanged glances and McCann shrugged.

“What was it that Crompton wanted from you?” Plumduff asked.

“I think it might have been my watch, I’m not completely sure though because before he could finish he….”

“Why would he want that?” McCann asked before I finished.

“No idea, wouldn’t have mattered anyway” I answered rubbing my wrist. “One of Thrumhall’s goons took it from me just after the witches left me with them.  They took my badge as well.  Seems they like shiny things, I was lucky they didn’t take my ring too but managed to keep it hidden from view.”

“They have your watch?” Plumduff said a note of excitement in her voice.  “You’re certain of that.”

“Yes, think his name was Daktar.  Not the brightest of types, large head, lots of arms, foul temper.”

“What are you thinking Margaret?” McCann asked.  Plumduff seemed lost in thought as she began to pace again.

“The dials will tell us where they are, we can use them the same way we used them to find Armitage.”  I looked up hearing my name and Plumduff continued.   “But I don’t think this is a matter of where they killed Charles.”

McCann looked confused.  “What do you men?”

“The picture Elizabeth, That was taken painted after Charles arrived here and he disappeared from it as if he never existed.    They didn’t murder Charles somewhere, they killed him somewhen and whenever it was it was before that painting was made.  They were never even here when they killed him.”

Plumduff saw the confused look on my face.

“It’s the device Armitage, whatever it is it allows them to be somewhen else, that is why we struggled to find you when you first disappeared.  You weren’t here to be found you were somewhen else nd only when you returned to Nin could I track you down.”

“Super” I said noticing my drink was again empty and feeling a little light headed.  “Do you have any tea?” I asked.

“No time for tea my boy, get your stuff together” she said reaching into her drawer, pulling out a pair of silver pistols and placing them on the desk in front of her, “and wake O’Rourke up.  It’s time for a spot of revenge.”

McCann smiled and quickly exited the room to rouse O’Rourke.

“You okay?” Plumduff asked me placing the pistols in her handbag and walking across to where I sat and taking a seat next to me.

“Not really”

“No me neither” she said putting a hand on my arm.  “Been a pretty rough few days hasn’t it?”

I nodded still looking down at my shoes.

“You want to stay here?” she asked.

I very much wanted to say yes but given everything I had been through and all I had seen it seemed wrong to hide away at this point.  If Thrumhall was responsible for killing Crompton and they were coming for the rest of us then I wanted to at least go down fighting if this was to be my fate.

“No, I’m coming Margaret” I said looking up.  Plumduff smiled and reached into her bag and handed me one of the pistols.

“Ever used one of those before?”

I shook my head.  I’d seen enough of weapons when I was alive and got the general idea.

“You’ll work it out” she grinned.  “What’s the worse that can happen eh.”

“Pistols, oh goody” boomed O’Rourke as he walked into the room.  He had shed his Cardinal robes and was now wearing all black and sporting one of his own on one hip with his sword still hanging on the other.  “We’re going in heavy then are we Maggie?”

“Precautions my dear” Plumduff replied.  “Don’t want to get caught short a second time.”

“So what’s the plan then?” he asked.

“I need to grab a few things from Crompton’s office” she said and hurried out, returning a few minutes later and heading for the office door that lead out into the courtyard.  She shouted back at us the familiar click clack of her heels echoing on the cold stone.  “Do keep up people, we have work to do.”

As O’Rourke, McCann and I hurried after and we took the now familiar path and found ourselves on the outskirts of Nin once again.  It was late at night, stars burning in the clear sky above and the Neon lighting up the darkness down below.

“So where to then Maggie” O’Rourke asked.  “We could maybe grab a drink while we’re here, see how things pan out.”

Plumduff scowled at him.  Small she might be but she “was a fearsome woman when the mood took her and she was in no mood for more of O’Rourke’s shenanigans and I was inclined to agree with her.

“We need information and there’s someone that I think can help us out.” She said. “Someone I know down hear the markets, Elden.  If  you want to know something she’s the person you want to speak to.”

She lead the way as we threaded our way through the busy streets, the hab zones towering high above us and the noises and smells of a busy city all around.  Nin had developed as a trading post for so many of the other worlds that spanned the fracture and at every turn there was something more incredible to be seen.

“O’Rourke, keep up” Plumduff barked as he stopped to stare into the shop front of what I assumed was a sex shop of some sort.  I couldn’t quite work out what the creatures were or what they were doing to one another but from O’Rourke’s face I could tell it was inappropriate.

“How did he end up here Margaret” I asked.  “He seems very.” I paused.  “Different.”

Plumduff laughed.  “Another of the mysteries of the Fracture my dear” she replied.  “O’Rourke, now” she demanded.

O’Rourke grinned and ran to catch us up as we ducked down a dark passage way and up a flight of steel stairs.  Plumduff declined to knock on the heavy wooden door before us choosing instead to shoot out the lock and barge inside.  There were shouts from inside as she stormed through.

“Heads up people” Plumduff said raising her pistol, “sounds like Elden has company.”

I decided that I would be more use bringing up the rear and allowed McCann and O’Rourke to push past me and watched all three quickly running down the hall away from me.  The pistol was heavy in my hand and whilst I wasn’t afraid to use it was more concerned that I might accidentally hit one of the others.

Another door at the end of the hall was kicked open and the three of them burst through into a large open space that I decided must be where Eldin lived.  It was sparsely furnished with a bed against one wall and a few pieces of furniture scattered about. A number of what looked to be computers at on a table near a window which overlooked the bust street below.

In the middle of the room, and I assumed this was not a regular feature, were a series of portals hovering just above ground level, a different coloured pastel hue emanating from each  Beyond each I could see another word and stood in the middle of them holding the device was Thrumhall.

“Armitage” he roared a beaming smile spread across his face.  “Fancy seeing you here.”  His heavily armed gang stool to one side pistols raised.  “Steady boys” he cautioned.  “Let’s not be hasty eh.  These are Eldin’s guests.”

A woman lay at his feet who I assumed was Eldin.  She was probably not a great deal taller than Plumduff but considerably younger and seemed to be unconscious.  Her face was bruised and bloodied.

“How are you Armitage” Thrumhall continued, “No Crompton with you I see.  He not feeling well?”  HIs posse roared with laughter and Plumduff walked forward a steely look in her eye and her jaw clenched.

“What did you do Thrumhall” Plumduff demanded her pistol raised.

“Put the weapon down woman” he snarled the smile now gone from his face.  Two shadows curled themselves around his legs, their eyes burning bright as they stared towards us.  “You’re outgunned and outmanned and if you know what’s good for you you’ll leave the way you came in and be grateful you get to live another day.”

“For now” one of the henchmen said laughing.   I recognised him as the one that had taken my watch and badge.

“Maggie may I?” O’Rourke asked walking up beside her.  He leaned down and whispered something into her ear.”

“You again” Thrumhall howled training his pistol on O’Rourke.

“Indeed” he replied and without warning threw himself forward through the air towards Thrumhall and squeezed off three rounds from his pistol.  At that point all hell broke loose and once gain I found myself scrambling for cover as pistol shots rang out across the room.

Plumduff’s agility belied her age and she and McCann managed to throw themselves behind the bed as shots ripped into the walls around them while I somehow found myself stumbling through the doors and back in the passage that lead to Eldin’s room.  More shots rang out and I could hear O’Rourke shouting loudly.

“Come on then” he screamed as he skidded across the floor, the first of his shots nicking Thrumhall’s shoulder and the other ricocheting around the room.

“Scram, now” shouted Thrumhall dropping his pistol and shoving the device into his tunic.  He turned and dived through one of the portals as O’Rourke came to a halt just in front of Eldin.  I peered around the door and could see the others followed suit and piling through the glimmering holes and then, in the blink of an eye as the shadows leapt through, they disappeared.

For a moment there was silence, eventually broken by O’Rourke’s booming voice.

“Bloody chicken’s the lot of them” he complained.  “Every time they turn tail before we can get properly acquainted.”  there was a real disappointment in his voice.

“Armitage, you still alive and kicking” shouted McCann as she and Plumduff emerged from behind the bed.

“Yes thanks” I replied walking back into the room to where the three of them now stood over Eldin.  “She okay?

McCann kneeled down over and checked her pulse.  “She’s fine, she’ll come around I’m sure.”

“Good” said Plumduff walking over to the computers where a picture of her filled half the screen. “Because when she does she is going to start by explaining whey she has all this information on me.”











Part 25 coming soon