Books that bite. Copyright P. Audcent.

Have you ever picked up a library book to find someone has marked the
pages with their corrections? Sometimes its spelling and grammar, but
sometimes they dispute the authors facts and list their grievances in
the margin. Indeed often they themselves are wrong. Don ’t you dare
touch these pages they might bite back!

Graham Stourton lived alone in a small shack high in the Nevada ’s,
surrounded mainly by rocky outcrops in the summer, and freezing cold
winds in the winter. It was then that he wrote, next to a large wood
stove that he had dragged up from the valley below. In fact everything
he had there had been carted up at sometime during his lifetime. Now
he was contemplating retiring to the sun and sea. Frankly he was
saddened and dismayed. Last summer on one of his trips down to
civilization he had visited his local library and discovered his latest
novel mutilated. The cover itself looked perfect, and it was with some
pride he had plucked the book from the shelf and gently flicked it ’s
pages only to find a hideous scrawling amongst his very words. To Graham
words were his life, and though his spelling was indifferent at times
it added to his books flavor. His characters came alive by their very
indifference to normal spelling as they spoke. He placed the book back
on the shelf.
“They shouldn’t be allowed to disfigure a book,” he complained as
he sidled past the Librarian, she just nodded and continued her
conversation on the telephone.

Thus it came to pass that after he had collected his supplies and was
loading the truck up, old Jack Fleeting Horse came out of the barbers
and slapped Graham on the back in greeting. They agreed a beer would
go down nicely so they repaired to the bar. It was here that Graham
finally got his anger out of his craw. Old Jack just nodded and asked
him what he wrote with.
“Pencil” said Graham.
“Ah, that’s fine if you want to rub out the words later on, but if
you want ‘em to stick you use charcoal crayon.”
“No such thing Jack, its either one or the other.” Graham laughed and
drank his beer.
“What youse need is biting words.”
Graham nodded his eyes now lit in amusement.
“Old Rocky Moondance, she showed me once, when I was a kid at lessons.
Believe you me Graham I was bit all over. Story book about a young bull
bison if I remembers correctly.”
Graham signaled for another two beers, perhaps this story he could use.
“All you do is break the charcoal up finely and mix it with the local
beeswax and grossweed, you get a charcoal crayon. ”
“OK that’s fine for the paper you write on, maybe and I’m not entirely
agreeing with you. But how does it get transposed to the printed word?
Got you there Jack.”
Jack shook his head.
“That I don’t know, but take it from Rocky Moondance it follows through

once it’s been writ. The book I read was one she had written, and like
you had it published and printed all formal like. Coloured pictures
an’ all.”
Graham sank his beer and slapping Old Jack on the arm, laughingly he
marched out and drove back up to his shack. That drive up through the
pass and onto his land gave him time to think, well there was no harm
in giving it a whirl. He stopped on the way and plucked a bunch of
grossweed from the road side.

He collected some charcoal from his heater and mixing it with wax and
grossweed, rolled it out into strips then cut them to size. He put them
in a box for later use, when the urge to write was upon him. That was
usually the late Fall when snug in his shack, he had no place to go.
He tried them but the coolness of the cabin made them awkward to write
with and he gave up after a few attempts. The problem was the pressure
he needed to exert to get any viewable characters. He stuffed them back
in the box, and reverted back to pencil.
Ultimately he sold up and moved to the warmer climes, his fame had
reached the sunny shores of California. Once settled he visited his
library and was instantly pleased to see his whole range of novels
neatly stacked on the shelves. Imagine his horror at lifting up the
first books cover and finding a review by an illiterate reader brazenly
scrawled on the front piece. ‘This is a piece of„.’ Graham picked
up another of his books and this one had heavy ballpoint under many
of his sentences, with exclamation marks! Hideous, outrageous. He
stormed from the library and remembering Old Jacks story returned to
his unit and hunted out his box of charcoal crayons.

It wasn’t so much a fictional piece, as a story of his time in the
mountains and the folk he had met. The crayons wrote smoothly in the
warmth of his room. Occasionally he would make an error both in spelling
and grammar. Sometimes forgetting a stop or a coma. When he finished
he bagged it up for his publisher attaching a note.
The note said 'no changes were to be made to the text'.
His publisher called and said they had found twelve errors.
“Leave them there,” said Graham, “How’s your manuscript reader?”
‘Funny thing Graham she’s covered all over in insect bites.’ Came
the reply. ‘Still we have changed the text and the printers have got
it now.’
The book was printed and Graham was sent a copy. He was elated none
of errors had been affected. His publisher called him.
‘Sorry about this but the printer says they printed exactly what they
received; apparently our own changes didn’t take. The run was massive
so do you have any objection if we release them as they are. ’
“None whatsoever.” Graham smiled. He opened the cover of his book and
read, “This book is dedicated to the memory of Rocky Moondance whose
wisdom permeates these pages - so beware!” He packed it up and mailed
it with a note to Old Jack Fleeting Horse, with an invitation for his
friend to come and stay.
‘And Jack’ he had written, ‘we will write another but this time
together, with those fantastic crayons so bring some charcoal with you

when you come.’

That book was later published as well; you‘ll find it under
Stourton-Fleeting Horse.
Old Jack provided most of the dialog.

CRASH copyright P.Audcent
I wrote this when I was in my early twenties. A rather nasty automobile
accident had occurred not far from where I lived near London. The crash
affected me since I was also both young and a driver myself. I felt
at the time great sorrow for the loss of young lives, and I hope the
story carries a message, as well as a plea for safer and careful driving.

The offside wheels were now stilled, and the steam had subsided though
a trickle of water from the radiator could still be heard faintly
against the silence of the peaceful night. She had stood there in a
dumb stupor for an eternity, unable to move, incapable of sobbing; her
eyes mesmerised by the savage wreck before her. Her feet by instinct
moved her toward the car - John's car - and as the image of his face
edged into the dizzy cavities of her mind she cried out his name. Once,
twice, and yet again she pulled at the driver's door - John's door -
but her strength seemed sapped, and his body lay completely caged by
the crumpled steel of the chassis. She climbed onto the bonnet and
in a frustrated fury pitched, herself through the shattered windscreen
to try to catch the lapels of his coat, but she had no streng th to pull
him free. She saw his faint gasps for breath; a welling of blood beneath
his forehead had begun to weep from a gash above his eye. His pulse
was slowing; she could almost feel his life slowly ebbing away. She
climbed back up to bank, she must get help, he must live, for her he
must, he will live.

She ran on to the road, in which direction she did not care, as long
as she got help. She was in one piece at least, but John? She must
get to a telephone and quick. It was now raining but she felt no
discomfort, for the determination to help him had sealed all passages
to pain save the underlying dread that her efforts might be too late.
Without his love she would feel lost forever; her life would be joyless,
it would become a world without meaning. She would die with eternal
grief. Each terrible thought speared into her mind as she plunged
headlong down that dark and lonely road. Her eyes had now become
accustomed to the blackness and as she glanced around she could clearly
see the high forest on either side rearing upwards toward the sky.
Gradually her senses had cleared and all were strained for the slightest
sound, the faintest blink of light that could, or would, mean help.

Suddenly through the darkness of the wood's she spied a chink of yel low
light that flashed momentary behind trees each time she took a step.
She stopped and gazed steadfastly at that dim beam of hope for some
seconds, as if surprised by its sudden appearance. Further up the road
there stood two gateposts, sentry-like, on either side of a driveway,
and in a twinkling her feet had reached the gravel where they once again
paused to check her bearings. With her eyes searching the dim track

ahead she launched her body forward through the leaning pines, their
scent thick and brisk, their closeness to the driveway shielding the
night from her pensive eye. She kept as well as she was able to the
middle of the curving drive which wended its way toward the back of
the distant building until the pines gave way to lower shrubs. To save
time she opted to use the better light conditions and take a direct
path through the shrubbery
where she could see a sizeable mansion surrounded by lawn. The
building was hallooed by two large arc lights which stood beaming at
each end, whilst each window was gaily lit on two floors. In a large
square forecourt she passed countless cars, but she hurried on. Now
she could hear music and voices. Her pace quickened, she heard them
so clearly, shouts of laughter and chattering. She stepped on the
first step, she visualised smiling faces laughter and gaiety, then
concern for herself and John, and eventual rescue by these strangers
within. The mahogany door was before her, on the left a large white
bell push. Her hand leapt to push. In a few moments she would tell
them, she would break down perhaps, but she would get John help. The
long seconds ticked by, her hand again flew to the bell push and prodded
several times in quick succession. She could not hear it ring. The
music was load. The band was playing a quickstep. He loved dancing.
She felt the music calm her mind, but she steadied herself and reached
for the large bronze knocker above her head. She could not move it.
It seemed pinned solidly to the door; angrily she wondered why people
put such ornaments up that were entirely useless. She then ran to the
bay window on her left. Through the net curtains she could see a hoard
of well-dressed people dining and dancing. The air inside was hazy with
smoke, but their mouths chattered and were wreathed in smiles.

Her knuckles tapped the windowpane, but no one looked in her
direction, no one came. Her hands beat palmwards onto the glass, then
quickly leapt to her face to cover the sobs that had welled up inside
her and which now burst out in a torrent of frustration, anger and pain.
Her hair mingled with her tears as she pressed her tormented face to
the cold glass. Venom rose and filled her heart, anger had replaced
anticipation and cold hatred rifled her mind. In her anguish she saw
only foolish, ugly preening people locked into self-enjoyment, unaware
of the sadness outside their circle. Too involved in their petty
pleasures to answer the door or to see her sorry stare at their very
window. She, a picture of dejection, degraded by their infantile
prancing and she fighting to save a loved ones life, he locked in a
crushed metal cask, hurt and blood stained. She smacked her fists
against the panes.

“I didn’t know we had been invited to this party, I think we are
supposed to be somewhere else my love.”
She turned dumbfounded. Her taut and angry eyes softened as she met
John’s bright steel blue eyes shining from the reflections from the
house, a smile of self-amusement playing upon his wonderful unblemished
face. She rushed to his embrace and they walked h and in hand softly
across the forecourt and down the driveway. They stepped though the
shrubs and the rising dew, passed under the sleeping pines, the down
onto the lane to welcome the impending dawn, whose amber shafts soon

enclosed them in veils of golden liquid.

The same golden dawn revealed a mail van had stopped by a scarred
passageway through the pines along the same lane. On reconnoitring,
he found a car badly crushed, lying on its side, its maroon coachwork
creased and crumpled. He leaned over the bonnet and peered cautiously
inside. He drew back and vomited, for death was such a repugnant end,
especially for two as young as these.

DEXTER THOMAS. Copyright P.J.Audcent 2000
I once spotted such a youth homeward bound, and not at all keen to get
there. Through my windscreen I saw him study every tree he passed, and
in my mirror he had stopped at a notice and was avidly reading it.
The school bus stopped at Tenderfield crossroads discharging three
weary passengers; their school coats were the same sky blue, lavender
piping stitched around the lapels. With bags slung over their
shoulders, they trudged off up their different gravel roads. Dexter ’s
left lapel piping was loose and fluttered gently as he walked the brown
gravel, his shoes occasionally kicking up the dusty surface. One sole
was slightly loose and gave out a flapping sound as he walked. He turned
and waved to Angela, who had taken the road directly opposite to the
one he was on, she waved back. He then glanced at Ricky whose head could
be seen bobbing over the stone wall along his road. They lived in the
county sub-divisions, mostly ten or twenty acre sections. They called
them ‘hobby farms’ but few could make a real living on them except
old Mrs. Martin, her raspberries and strawberry patches being an
exception. Most of them had grassy fields for their horses, and grew
nothing but overly rich and smelly compost heaps. Dexter ’s sister
Belinda made a handsome profit selling plastic bags full of the
droppings to passers by for their gardens. Her spot up by the crossroad
had only one bag left; he put the thought to the back of his mind to
tell her.

Ricky turned and saw Dexter looking in his direction, and shouted that
he would ring him tonight about their homework. Dexter replied with
his thumb up, then continued walking around a slight bend taking him
out of view from the others. He quickened his pace for he had spotted
a large white notice pinned to the fifth tree along the roadside, once
there he glanced up at it, probably a fair or garage sale he presupposed,
but then he read it avidly.
He stood in silent contemplation looking up at it for a full minute.
It had been pinned at least a foot above his eleven year old head, but
the letters printed upon it stood out crystal clear. ‘Um’ he said to
himself then continued along the road. He soon passed Mr. Sandleson
out in his front garden, dead heading roses. Mr. Sandleson looked up
as Dexter passed. ‘Nice day for September’, but Dexter made no reply,
Mr. Sandleson continued snipping. He eventually rose up and stretching
his back looked around for Dexter who by this time had walked right
past the lane leading to his house. Mr. Sandleson shrugged, ‘Must be

Give Mrs.” Belinda spat out. keep the porch light on. she had always called her son by his full name.Thomas arrived home at seven and was confronted by one furious wife and daughter.” Belinda marched out the back door and banged on the shed wall. you used to really enjoy that. “Ricky was there but not Dex.” She sighed to Belinda.” No answer. we must leave soon. “Where on earth is Dexter Thomas. just you wait. Mr. “You best stay behind Belinda.” “Did you find him?” asked Mrs. “He’s only fifteen minutes late. Mr. “Wrecked our whole evening Dad. maybe he and Ricky Trent are skylarking. just to get out of this hellhole once a week.Trent a ring Belinda now we must go soon. “Its SHOPPING DAY. or eaten by ants. Trent says they ’ve changed the closing hours to nine at night so we do have time Mum.Thomas. “If you are hiding in there Dexter get out here quick. you wait Dexter Thomas when your Father gets home. Belinda shook her head. In the corner on the concrete floor Dexter had arranged his spare shirt and trousers next to a low pile of shorts and socks. “Dexter” Belinda screamed at their back orchard as she came out.” Mrs. Thomas turned. they’ll all be shut.Thomas grabbed both her handbag and husband and walked him to the door. so she pushed the door open and glanced inside.’ and started to pull out the thorns from his garden gloves. “Or maybe he’s crept into the shed?’ Dexter lived in the outhouse. Sides you have the horses for company.” “You should find yourself a job missy or a boy friend then you might get out a bit more.off to a friends.” Shouted Belinda from her bedroom. DARN HIM he KNOWS WHAT DAY IT IS. The mattress on the floor yielded nothing except a few magazines on aircraft.” Belinda did as she was told but she returned shaking her head. ” “Thank the Lord. their house only having two bedrooms.” Mrs.” “Why should I. “Better go shopping now. we’ll worry about Dexter Thomas later. Thomas sat heavily down on a barstool. Now stay here for Dex and don’t give him a hard . you know Mum and I love shopping. He’s only ten minutes late. We need him to wheel the trolley and carry the bags. Except for a bare light bulb strung from the roof this was the sum total of furniture and fittings. “Go and see doll. “Maybe the bus was late. anyhow Mrs. it ’s shopping day unless you had forgotten. Belinda?” Dexter’s Mother peered out the kitchen window. the supermarket shuts at five. These she picked and threw close to an old warped bookcase.” “If he is he’ll„he’ll. Skylarking well we’ll see about that. its getting dark. “Get us a drink pet. maybe he was run over.

” “He came home with Ricky Trent. but I will ask the night patrols to look out for Dexter. ” Mrs. Missy seemed upset about something.’ “Helicopter with the searchlight?” asked a worried Mr. stayed late. Thomas. could have been someone else from his school. just kept walking on by. That is what the Duty Sergeant told him. and shouting ‘Nonsense you bludger Stanley Crabtree!' she smashed the phone down. “We’ll check your neighbor’s first Jim. Half an hour later Jeff Kehoe drew up in his patrol car. heavy cloud. well I can’t do better than that Jim. now come on Jim. or at his back as he passed. He’s probably got a rational explanation. but not a word from him. she being on higher ground. maybe he’s run away from home?’ Mrs. “There’s a couple of the junior lads live along here as well. Your Dexter’s a real bright kid. seemed to be heading down towar d the river.Thomas grabbed the phone from her husbands hand. Hang on Jeff Kehoe says there plenty of hay ricks around this time of the year.” Jim Thomas said. so he can ’t have gone far. Jim Thomas looked at her. as he had the wind behind him.’ “As tax payers we are entitled to receive better attention than this Stanley Crabtree. Sandleson called me so I saw no more. recognized the lapel piping flapping in the wind.” Was all she was prepared to say.” “No Jim. it was your Dexter alright. he could hide in to get out of the cold night.” “How’d you know it was Dexter if he didn’t look at you." the patrolman nodded at the Sandleson’s place as he slowed down by the house. in the meantime he was on foot. ‘We’ll send someone up tomorrow morning. you only glanced at him side on. he looked at his watch it had gone ten.” They thanked him and drove on up to the Martin place.Thomas shouted over her husband’s shoulder. time we called the police. did you think of ringing the school? Maybe he’s got detention. About time your missus sewed it up. then Mrs. quickly too. He checked first with the Thomas’s in case Dexter had returned. ‘Why if it isn’t Flora Thomas herself. not back till tomorrow. his blue school uniform you say. It was pitch black outside. Went right on pass your turnoff Jim.” Mrs. “I knew the bludger at school. Belinda switched on the porch light and there it would gleam until her parents return. shopping now.” Said Mr. no moon. The patrolman . She was out amongst her canes about that time. Thomas hauled her husband to his utility. where Missy invited them in for coffee. “OK. expected him to say his usual hello. and a rainstorm in the air. Maybe Missy Martin saw him. both been like that since goodness knows when. ‘On duty elsewhere. and you got out your glue gun. and that damn flapping shoe he’s got.time when he turns up. “Yep. He collected Jim Thomas and they both went back to the bus drop off point.Thomas.

I’m sure nothing untoward has happened so a cup of coffee would go down great. something will happen.” “Its Debbie’s anniversary. he’s gone to visit her. its about Jim ’s boy Dexter. must have passed Dexter as he headed for the river.” “How’d you mean. Funny that. Whilst she was out in the kitchen Jeff turned quietly to Jim. Ultimately she began to see apparitions. it ’s a wonder they don’t up and die with that treatment.” She wrung her hands and left the room. “Ah yes I did see him as I said before. ” “But about Dexter„” Jim Thomas interrupted. . he’s staying over with her. Sandleson said you were working in your patch.calmed her down. I remember Dad when he was in the force telling Mum and I that she was so grief stricken loosing her sister that gave her these premonitions of getting Debbie back.” Missy said as the two of them headed for the door. I’ve seen your Belinda Thomas read it when it was lime green. about time your wife sewed his lapel up Mr.” Jim looked up as Missy came in with a tray and steaming cups. “Well Missy that’s just fine but can you tell me when you saw Dexter Thomas walking along the road today. Jim just grunted. Sandleson who was in mortal combat with his wife’s roses. Dexter was no swimmer and that rivers pretty fast flowing Jeff!” “I mean you think back to her phone calls telling us her sister Debbie was still alive. Oh long before Mr. “Um. he drove past in his Ute.” “Dexter?” said Officer Kehoe gently.” “I was indeed. nothing grows unless you care for it and new seasons fruit grows on new season wood. She’s fixing his collar or something. “Just a few questions Missy. He was reading that white poster on the fifth tree. Mr.” “First I’ve heard about Mrs.” “Did you see any vehicles that could have picked him up at the time?” “Now you mention it that no good sheep stealer Jonny Lambton. Changes colour too. she’s always had a penchant for blowing things up. ” “Why would Dexter head for the river. “Debbie lives there you foolish man. “Indeed I still do have a sister and she’s just told me Dexter’s fine. it got something to do with the anniversary. but only Dexter when it was white. and the weeds have to be kept at bay so I dig ‘em up and replant them behind the barn over there. Its there off and on. Martin having a sister. he certainly didn ’t like fishing?” Jim Thomas scratched his head. Both men looked at one another. and swearing and more hacking and shocking language.” Missy’s smile was radiant. Thomas. Thomas. and drove Dad and Stan Crabtree up the wall with her incessant calls. I felt it in my bones when Dexter walked past your turnoff Mr. And others. hacking them he was. “I’m sure Missy is exaggerating.

” Jeff Kehoe called out as he opened the car door. you got a useless wife there. When she came from her room.They drove down to the bridge. do you know where he might be. does as he is told. towards the bridge. “I reckon we’ve done all we can tonight. “Saw the kid going down the road. ten bucks. They found nothing. ” “I’d like to take a look.” “Maybe Jim he’s not a happy lad.” “Dexter Thomas has gone missing.” “Did you stop?” “Yep.” Jeff Kehoe pointed at the cottage then at the shed. ten dollars is his ‘know nothing price’.” “What Missy Martin had to say about her sister. it was obvious from her reddened eyes she had been crying as well. I’ll ask the sergeant to organize a search party early tomorrow. but the kid said thank you no. I want to ask you some questions. Bric -a-brac. he’s a quite lad. there wasn ’t a sheep in sight. probably with a computer. then left. Jeff Kehoe asked her about the poster. Tockington. so she started to weep again. green and printed. Wood smoke came curling up from the chimney and a door opened as Jim Thomas swung the gate. Jim Thomas stood glaring at Jonny the n followed Jeff.” They arrived at the Thomas place and Jim’s wife hurried out.” Jim yelled for her. “he ups his price if he knows something. “Officer Kehoe wants to speak to Belinda.” “He knows. . You know mister that kid of yours has torn his coat lapel and its still not fixed. ask your wife she’ll know. but he shook his head. what was all that about?” “I keep forgetting you’re not local.” Jim took twenty dollars from his wallet and placed it on the ground. “Put the weapon down Jonny.” “Amazing the number of people who’ve mentioned your Dexter’s coat. Jonny let him past. So I drove on up here.” “He hasn’t had a spate with Mrs.” “Meaning. “Can you remember what it said?” “Garage Sale this Saturday. and he picked it up. and then on up to Jonny Lampton’s place where a small wooden cottage surrounded by an assortment of animals sat squarely in the middle of a sloping paddock. asked if he wanted a lift. you ever asked him? Still lets ask your Belinda what the poster said. Jonny came out with shotgun cradled in his arms.” whispered Jeff Kehoe.” She answered between sniffs. “ I guess it was A4 size. I guess Dexter has never gone missing before Jim?” “No. “Cost yer twenty bucks for that. 14 Chantry Close. Jonny didn ’t move. “Cost yer. Jonny motioned them to step back. for it sure wasn’t there when I came past. Thomas or his sister?” “Not that I’m aware of.” Jonny shrugged his shoulders. past him in my Ute.

was anyone with you at the time.” Meanwhile Jeff Kehoe was interviewing Mrs. leaving Jim to ask his wife about Missy’s sister Debbie. you know the type of thing?’ Jeff Kehoe nodded. I’ve told Jim we’ll organize a search party first thing in the morning. “Seems I best get over there then. it was a long time ago and surely our missing son is more important. It was late at night so I guess she was asleep and didn’t hear the wake up call her neighbors say they gave her. she says. she’s been seeing Debbie often. my husband. Water damaged.” “What was it.household furniture. five of the cottages were swept away. or do you know anybody who might have stopped to read it?” Belinda shook her head but her mother replied that Ricky Trent’s mother had mentioned it when she rang to check if Dexter was there. “Missy’s just a strange old bird.” “What did the poster say Mrs. Illustrated capitals. I remember because I asked Mum if could go to it. They reckoned she must have been staying with Missy. a mile down river once the flood had subsided. and I will help you.” “It was a white one. So as you read it you also heard the words spoken in your mind. “There’s not much more we can do. Thomas took a deep breath. beautiful lettering. we have to wait until morning.Trent.” Her mother nodded. yes I remember it well. Jeff and I searched the river bank with his car spotlight. “Why do you ask Jim. Debbie was killed in her cottage twenty odd years ago. We had a tremendous storm and the river overflowed its banks.” “You’ll think me a fool but the words kind of spoke to you. sort of gothic like you see in those old prayer books. But no one wants her put away. like the tinkle of water on a hot day. Come to the bridge and we will .” she said. Debbie’s was one of them. I was tempted but I saw Belinda coming along the road and she’s been spreading rumors about Ronnie.” “It said PLEASE.” “And?” “PLEASE HELP ME. But obviously she wasn’t. “The posters gone now.” “That’s nonsense. she thought I was quite mad.” She glanced at his upturned eyes. Trent.” Jeff Kehoe left. so we all accept she ’s strange and leave it that.” “What did the text say please. They found her drowned and severely beaten by the pounding rocks a day or two later. and I didn’t want to talk to her.” Mrs. “The poster. “but what did the words say. “I thought you wouldn’t believe me.” “Yes that was it. in the mind that is. Really weird but wonderful. the helicopter will be back as well. I told Flora Thomas the same thing when she rang looking for Dexter. only Missy said Dexter was staying with her sister.

” The following day Dexter boarded the school bus. ” “You mentioned Belinda was spreading rumors may I ask what they were about?’ “Ronnie has disappeared. Jeff Kehoe went straight to the site where one of the volunteers had found it. I remember my father helping. county has built a levee all along there. “7 Riverbend. not far from the riverbank leaning against a gnarled old apple. Belinda has told people around here that we ’ve split up. Jim Thomas came down to check its contents and agreed it was Dexter’s. Jeff Kehoe found him self in the Council Chambers studying old survey maps. So the search concentrated along both banks. I was shocked. The school advised the Police and Jeff Kehoe was sent to interview him. we had a row.” Jeff Kehoe left totally bewildered. her name was Ramsay. Dexter’s school pack was found early on.” “Why?” “The poster had my name on it. The following day was taken up by a thorough ground and air search.” “Yes. owned by a Miss D. he’s such a nice person and I wish his mother and sister would appreciate him.” The clerk went to another office and brought with him a leather bound book. But I do hope Dexter will be found safe.” “That’s all. He rang Ricky yesterday night. let me check my Rate notices. “ Would you tell me where you’ve been your parents have been scared out of their minds?” “I doubt it. He then went to the Tax Rates clerk. he’s been gone a fortnight. that would be about twenty two years ago. Mrs. now where have you been hiding?” . “No one now. But I know Ronnie’s gone to his brothers for some peace and quite.” “Ramsay?’ “You know Missy Martin up Tenderfield way. “Who lived in this spot please. “We have been searching for you for over two full days Dexter. You know Mr. The river was only inches deep. before she was married.” “You will think me quite insane now.meet. I saw Belinda on her way. Susan Trent. at the bottom.” “ There were several cottages washed away some time ago. No trace of Dexter was found so by the late afternoon after a frustrating negative day. Ricky and Angela were delighted to see him but he said ‘Hi’ and then clammed up.” Dexter looked directly at the officer. Kehoe there’s none so blind as those that live with you. so I left quickly. at the river bend that Dexter’s bag had been found. Ramsay.” He pointed with his finger. several in fact.

” “OK I’ll get back to you. just started. caught the bus to town.’ A thought made his brow arch.” “Could be taking a walk. Jeff here” “Get anything out of Dexter Thomas yet?” “No. Mrs.” “What colour was the poster?” ‘What on earth does that matter. ‘Maybe some of you guys will one day come into the department and maybe not.” “Well just finish will you and get up to the Sandleson ’s. “Jeff it was white. ” There was a knock on the door and a teacher put her head though. A hardened old detective had given a series of lectures on detection.” “Me and Missy Martin I guess. “Officer Kehoe can you contact your station sergeant at once. Sandleson is missing. but not that poor stupid Mrs. and not to worry.” “The poster would have had Mr. ” Jeff asked Dexter to stay put and went outside to his patrol car and picked up the radio. ” “You what!” ‘Wet furnishings for sale. ” “Exactly what were you told?” “That you were told I was safe. A murderer’s weapon doesn’t have to be a gun or a knife.“I believe you were told. a The radio sparked into life.” “You maybe Stan.” Jeff drummed his fingers on the steering wheel as he waited. Stan would you recommend a busy body in the neighborhood?” “You mean someone who’s nosy enough to know everything?” “Exactly. still those skills are just as useful on the beat as in the m urder room. take my word for it. Tockington.” “She still seeing Debbie then. By the way its now longer there. ” “Apparently young Dexter paid him a visit before the lad caught the school bus. Martin who sees apparitions all the time. I’ll ring her and ask. . Strangely the house seems to fit. Seems the poster is back and Mr. His mind now picking up what he’d learnt at the training school. Sandleson saw them talking at the door.” “Jeff you asked me who. And Missy parents once owned the house at Chantry Close. don’t tell me my old station sergeant believes that rubbish. “Yes Stan.” “It does. I bet it burnt down or something. visiting friends. now get on up to the Sandleson ’s. then get onto the county. And find out who lives at 14 Chantry Close. at least I was told you were. and I told you. about him going there.” “Apparently.Sandleson’s name on it. ” “So” “She heard them talk about something in the river.

” “Thank you Dexter. I wouldn’t presume to call her by her Christian name.” “I’m only eleven. By the way both your parents and your sister were deeply affected at your disappearance. Thank you very much.” “She said she hoped you would find out. I expect it was the white one. bye for now. Ramsay. “I presume you also checked where I left my bag.” “I doubt that Mr.” “I’ve asked and asked. Kehoe. it couldn ’t have been your mother as you boarded the bus directly. He rose from his chair and came closer. “And presumably Debbie Ramsay did” “Yes” “And you have been with Debbie in her cottage these past few days? ’ “Miss. Do you have any idea where he might be? ’ “I suppose he must have plucked up courage and read the notice.” .” said Jeff quietly. Sandleson to visit her. “Dexter who mended the piping on your coat. Over and out.” “Will you help Miss Ramsay?” “Indeed I will.” “I think so. get Belinda to do it. you’ve helped me a great deal.” “Yes I did.” “Miss Debbie Ramsay’s cottage. But Dexter went on.” “Things will change for you young Dexter. not a mans job she’d say. but Jeff put his hand up. so you haven ’t been home.I’ll ring Jim Thomas to pick up his son. goodbye for now. then he glanced at his coat.” “Do you know why. Kehoe.” “True. ” Jeff Kehoe returned to the room Dexter was in. Sandleson has gone missing so I’ve been ordered to go and find him. The colored ones are for jumble or garage sales you know. Miss Ramsay wanted a conduit to encourage Mr. not in real terms.” Dexter sounded extraordinary sad. “Sergeant Crabtree is arranging for your father to take you h ome. Dexter frowned but continued. Jeff looked up and stared at Dexter’s face.” Jeff paused. Miss Ramsay.” “Swept away in the flood.” Dexter Mr. Sandleson has gone today. now wait here for your father. but why she would not tell you is beyond me.” “And that’s where Mr.” “What did Miss Ramsay have to say?” “She said they were crying. I even volunteered to sew it myself but she always refused. “She doesn’t exist Mr. I think she said. there is still a missing piece in this jigsaw. but Belinda never would and so„” the words poured out of Dexter.” Jeff smiled at Dexter’s deference. detect it.

” “The tragedy was laid to rest though Stan. ” “Murder? Who could tell. Sandleson. I never did entirely believe her. . “Did you go up to the Sandleson’s Jeff?” “No its you I want.” Jeff interrupted. The afternoon was still light and he could make out a figure walking towards him.” “At a guess I don’t think we will find him. Sandleson’s body stretched out in the river as the water gushed and gurgled over his head drawing out hair in long silver strands. “He’s up here in the river Mr.” “Stan give me a clue. ” So Jeff Kehoe stopped for a belated lunch. ” “So?” “Sandleson was also sweet on his future wife the present Mrs. Which reminds me you are supposed to be going up to Tenderfield to find him. a part of me does.” “Where had he been all this time. They checked his pulse. at a guess it was felt expedient to close the a tragic case.” “Um perhaps.” “You have any idea who it might be?” “Yes.she gets her info from a reliable source.” They proceeded up the narrow path through scrub and bramble and Jeff spotted Mr. in a sky blue school coat. there was talk of an engagement ring being handed over. was she pretty?” “Very. I mean Miss Ramsay. he’ll be where Dexter’s been. Jeff. there was talk she and„. Dexter helped him pull the body to the bank. just go and have a look Jeff.” “I was a bit worried for Mr. the same nosy cop who can tap into everyone ’s problems. ” “Now I know you’re taking the water out of me Jeff. The coroners report on Debbie’s battered body. least not for two days or so.” “Her sister. Sandleson so I came down here to see if I could help.Jeff found Sergeant Crabtree sitting at his desk eating a hamburger. but the cop inside doesn’t. pull the other one. Sandleson and she were sweet on one another.” “Mr.” “Meaning?” “It could have been bashed prior to reaching the water. then drove up to the bridge road and parked on the nature strip where No 7 Riverbend used to stand. that make sense?” “How about this. the flood was a massive wall of water cascading over the rocky bed. Dexter pointed up river.” “How come you are here.” “Just to please me. To find the ring that is. and Dexter knows I’m sure. “Now listen.” “Alright try me but Missy Martin’s better than me. the apple tree was loosing its leaves. there was none.” “Down at Riverbend with Debbie. Kehoe.

Father then broached the subject of our intended excursion whether it rained or not. That Sunday in May was no different from any other. what ’s he clutching?” Jeff gently prised the old mans fingers apart.’ We all moaned. none of us were the least bit excited and we rather dragged our feet to put away our trowels and gloves .“Best not move him anymore until the doctor gets here. washed and cleaned for an early lunch. Maybe she had planted it when they had got engaged? Missy would know. If the sun was shining and he had sufficient fuel for the excursion we would be rounded up from our weeding duties. Jeff placed Mr. Pennington’s garden. This was not a trip out of the ordinary. he did find it after all. Then with a leap of my heart I said we had forgotten our gloves and trowels and surely we are too well dressed to weed? . Mother smiled. There was no urgent rush for the washbasin and certainly no picnic basket with raspberry vinegar cordial. The report said heart attack. whilst Father drove smoothly and quickly down to the Rosepoint crossroads where we were to meet the Professor.’ I wondered which. ’ I looked at my watch it was twelve noon and I asked Father how long were we to drive? ‘About an hour or two. A trip to do some weeding. So we dressed. “Oh. ‘We’ve been invited to visit my old lecturer Professor Pennington and he has told me a most delightful garden. Then we would be packed int o the van like proverbial sardines. © Paul Audcent 2001 My father often liked to drive out to the country most Sunday afternoons. nor windy ancient monument. ‘He said it’s a bit of a trial to find them as there are lots of little lanes dotted about so we meet him there in an hour. Short distances did not merit a picnic basket. ‘Your Father says the Pennington’s are some distance away and it’s a cheese sandwich for you all as we drive there. But Mother was there in a flower print dress and rearing to go. Hello. Often or not Mother would pack a picnic. and invariably led to friends or a cousin living close by. But Jeff Kehoe had his doubts. rushed downstairs to a lunch that had not been laid on the table. Father would not say where he was going. A belated April shower drenched our weeding excursion and we all landed up in the greenhouse with the patter of raindrops on the glass. Debbie had gone as well. no beach.” Said Dexter softly.Sandleson’s fingers back over his palm and they both walked back to the patrol car. In his palm lay a battered diamond ring. Missy didn’t.’ We embarked clutching our sandwich. the apple tree had also died. and this was a clue how far we would likely travel. We are to have tea there on condition we all do a little weeding. it was to be a surprise. But at least now Dexter’s life had changed for the better. indeed no visit to an old established manor.

‘So please only use the masks when you are in that section. Here we sat whilst the adults chortled away. with a hedge or wall as a boundary. What a delight. ‘You may of course. and wondered what could possibly occur by not using the mask. and then perhaps if time allowed. there were trees and shrubs and hedges and glorious places to hide.’ ‘Overpowering. The exotic garden has plants in it which have an intense perfume.’ said his wife. I was soon to f ind out. But Jonathon said we should weed for an hour first. ‘Strange. There was much fussing about as Mrs. ’ I was immediately aware of his use of the word ‘advise’. By now we children were quite fed up with the whole charade of an entertaining afternoon out. ‘But first we should see the layout of the garden. to be honest we were all likewise. I’m sure the Professor has arranged for the proper implements to be available. But there was a wild old gentleman in a green blazer and red waistcoat waving to attract Fathers attention. Eventually after twenty minutes or so we returned to the conservatory. so we don ’t get lost. I wonder if we have seen every corner?’ Jonathon looked at the map the Professor had given us. But we livened up when we swept though a substantial gate and driveway to arrive at the Pennington’s abode. ’ There was a stunned silence. ‘No we have been to every garden.’ said I ‘We saw no gas mask notices.’ said I eager to try the gas mask on at the appropriate garden room. Then the Professor turned to us and said shyly. Jonathon agreed and we retraced our steps and took a more cautious walk though the various courtyards that we came across. I sat at the back and lazily watched the road markings disappear into the distance. Pennington welcomed us all and took us into t heir enormous lounge. ‘May’nt we smell the flowers then?’ asked my sister. and in fact you need only wear the gas masks in the exotic’s garden. The journey was uneventful and the showers turned away giving us blue sky and a shiny tarmac road to follow. He scrambled into an old Utility and beckoned us to follow. well outdoors rooms. Cross that is. look I’ve ticked them as we went . We picked up a gas mask and a basket and then proceeded into the garden. it has two entrances and both have warning notices advising use of the gas mask. They do come in various sizes so I expect you select the correct fit yourselves. You see our garden is divided up into. We put on aprons and gloves and were each given a small fork with a little lever welded to the back.‘Not a bit of it.’ I subsided into my sandwich. I have placed there a gas mask for each of you. Occasionally we would cross our paths. have a game after. ‘Your Father has kindly offered you services as labourers in the garden and there are aprons and gloves for you all in the conservatory. Some two and a half hours later we arrived at the crossroads.

As I turned I spied a tall pole by the side of a green metal gate. and gently I returned to the seat where I gorged upon the succulent fruit. I was suddenly aware of rising upwards across the path and thence up the trunk. Once again I rose seemingly by my will power. The trees were enormous and appeared to be the fig type with long hanging roots. as the gardener had already dug where the daffodils had been and had started to plant a herbaceous border. Thus I looked around me and decided to go and help our little one. What greeted me stunned my eyes.’ . my hands merely slipped after the trunk body until my hands themselves reached the date frond. I gazed up to the dates and found the cheese sandwich had not stilled my appetite one iota. So I concentrated and nothing happened. then took the mask off.’ said Jonathan. I had just passed an oriental stone seat and I seemed to float back down onto it. How I would have loved to sample those juicy dates.through them.’ I gently lifted my gas mask over my head. Now my experiment let me rise up again and see if I can spot the others. which I collected and scurried off to the house. Now only pick out those plants you know are weeds. I think he ‘s been very well fed. leave anything else alone. I past through and shut it diligently behind me. It took me only five minutes to return where I met my father with a very cross face. I said time to go down to myself. Indeed my patch was very easy. ‘Ah there now in the far distance I saw the house and yes. so I walked up to it and read ‘Gas Mask area though the gate. its past six. most were in flower and I cheated a little by sliding my finger under the rubber mask to take a quick sniff. only to find nothing but a wilderness that went on and on. Once again I slipped my finger into the side of the mask and sniffed the sweet scent of the air. I wondered where the others were then remembered they were by the house. Around me the garden seemed to grow and as I walked along the stone path I felt I was walking on air. ‘We’ve been looking everywhere for you.’ ‘In his own garden?’ said my sister. The ground around the roses was heavily mulched and after a quarter of an hour I had finished. and with trembling fingers unlatched the gate and entered. Truly I could not identify one. I had a centre left courtyard filled with white roses and the remnants of daffodils. to look over the forest top story. I clasped the mask closer to my face and looked up to see a magnificent date palm with a huge bunch of dates hanging way above me. for everywhere shrub upon shrub spilled over themselves and into the trees. and there I picked several. I rose and determined to try an experiment. ‘You’ve missed a glorious tea as well. I clutched it so that I might stop the movement but to no avail.’ Jonathon then directed us to our positions. and perhaps he’s mistaken. There were my gloves and basket by the new planting.’ he said angrily. a group of children! I lowered myself quickly and retreated back along the path until I came to the green gate. Walking further on I turned a corner and to my amazement came upon a pristine rain forest. ‘I don’t think it will bother him too much somehow. ‘Well nevertheless we are loosing time and each of us will select an area and fill their baskets with weeds.

‘Jonathan said there wasn’t one and although we looked in every corner when you were lost. Johnson was a tall athletic man with golden hair and deep blue eyes. As to his father no mention was ever made.’ I said. ’I was here all the time. and not before time. I nodded. Copyright P. At least that was what his aunt had told him. ‘And a date palm with gigantic luscious fruit. The miracle was that he had grown up at all. ‘Did you’ I asked in return.’ said my Father as we drove home.Audcent 2001-01-29 Johnson. her aim was superb in bringing him down with one shot and splintering the mower with the second. She shook her head. Of course by then his Aunt had been institutionalized. She had accosted him leaning from her bedroom window with her Father's old shotgun. she had caught the neighbor mowing his lawn at 7:30 am and had taken exception to being woken at that unruly hour. ‘Did you find the exotic garden?’ my sister asked on our way home. he was always called that even though he had great list of first names bequeathed to him by his most singular family. In short he was shy. none of us found any sign of it. Thus his aunt nominated him as an Augustus Thomas Treasure Poppit. But no one ever called him Augustus let alone Poppit. In spite of her age. then winked. ’ ‘Funny. on my Biology studies and found an enormous rain forest. ‘I came here several years ago. In fact he was entirely deaf by the time he had reached his teens. so Mr. Thus Aunt was led away to face eternal damnation at a local nursing home. One would have thought he would have been a great catch for some scheming wench.’ The acquired family. the last two had been selected by his birth mother.The Professor held my hand and prised a sticky date from my grasp. His Aunt Jenny had supported him when his mother died bringing him kicking and screaming into the world. his Aunt was of fearsome disposition and though not given to berating her nephew with a few comely whacks. With two barrels packed with shot she had pulled the triggers and opened fire. Singular in the sense he had only one and then at a distance. The others stopped their teasing. Alas he was cautious. her needle sharp voice would pierce the thickest eardrum with the result poor old Johnson had a serious hearing problem. Bisley's prize Dahlias were sprayed with a splurge of fiery vapor. so Johnson he became to those near and far through school and college and ultimately to work in biochemistry.‘ I was instantly called a warper of the truth by my brothers both of whom dug me in the sides. when spoken to he would mentally crawl up inside of himself and hide in the darkest corner of his mind that he could find. Johnson was seconded to a . introverted. Alas the petrol tank was plastic and the shot hot.

Bisley's backside. Johnson then set about restoring the house to a home and after he had attended college he would return after each semester to add some piece of furniture or artwork. She then left returning with a large tray of food for him to select. perhaps Johnson would help her in this matter? So Johnson acquired school uniforms and various clothes for Celia and her youngest. School was to start soon and Celia asked Johnson if he minded dropping the two elder children off on his way to work. She meantime would take the youngest to the kindergarten nearby. Johnson suspected they had all slept in the park so he ushered them in an d suggested a shower for the little ones whilst he showed Celia the rooms she could have. Though his speech was indecisive his ability in all things chemical was brilliant. and each evening Celia would proceed to her room and dump the offending newspapers into the waste basket. . she hadn't been in the town long and needed a room or apartment until she could find work. His garden full of exotic greenery matched his neighbors to perfection. Celia duly arrived next morning with her children. a fellow traveler in the excellence of compost heaping and prudent gardening. Soon the house. In fact Johnson truly enjoyed it as he sat on a sofa pretending to enjoy the music and chat around him. Mr. Her name was Celia Anne and she was a divorcée.nice little family around the corner from his high school. Bisley saw in him. both inside and outside. He was overwhelmed by her kindness and with short shy stammers he commenced to converse with her. But still they had not spoken one word to another. she had three little ones to care for and she had found landlords were apt to view her family with some alarm. an acquaintance of a friend of his colleague. Each day Johnson would carry the newspapers home for Celia to read. Until one day. Would it be allright if she could stay with Johnson for just the week until she had found somewhere else? Johnson was taken aback but he remembered being taken in by that other family when his aunt had re-arranged Mr. There he remained almost forgotten until his aunt's solicitor called one day. Finally a mousy haired lady sat beside him and offered him a plate. He would buy a paper each day to help her locate an apartment and a job. He was always invited to functions but would sadly shake his head and point to his ears as if they were the real reason that kept him away from any social activity. Incidentally they would need school cloths. the one he had recently been bequeathed. and he quickly rose in the company's ranks both in position and pay. No. in fact they would all need new attire. The family packed his bags and drove him back to his aunt's house. A nod over the fence and cutting given or received but neither ever had actually spoken. Needless to say he paid all the bills. Alas. became comfortable and cozy. Indeed Johnson won several awar ds for his garden planning. Thus Johnson migrated from college to his first gainful employment. He grinned at each one who passed his seat and nodded his head quite violently in appreciation of those who spoke to him. so he said yes she could stay for that week. a colleague of Johnson's was leaving and insisted he come to his farewell function. And did he know of somewhere she might stay.

"And close the door we don't want the children to hear do we." "No problem. "About time you came to me Johnson. you can't leave that blue spruce alone. Do you hear me Johnson?" She slurped at her wine and Johnson sat unsteadily on the sofa. His treasured conifers suffered constant bombardment. as if they were my own I promise. well I've given it something to last a lifetime. . It was you" said his belligerent sister. His standard roses became un-standard and his little corner greenhouse suffered cracked and broken panes. Celia's little tribe were unruly. That night he lay awake and wondered. Bisley. Bisley looked over the fence. that prickly tree could have injured my children. totally out of control." She spluttered as she spilt the wine down her nightdress. Johnson. been gardening again. he entered Celia's bedroom." "Ah you can talk then. When he had finished replanting it and had tamped the earth around it. it will grow a treat. Mr. He got the potting mix down from the shelf and a clean small pot. "It were sharp prickles on him so he tore it off. Still its got to be looked after Mr." "I've been fertilizing the blue spruce Mr. "Morning Mr." That morning Johnson was up early. "Bring me the bottle from the kitchen and can you put the kids to bed now. could you get that Celia to calm them down please. the children are mine now Celia stormed out last night. walked out to the greenhouse." Johnson did as he was told and ushered the children into the bathroom and so to bed. just right to raise the blue spruce and put the surplus soil into the compost heap. it was fortunate it was winter." Said the eldest a sly ten-year-old pointing to the youngest. Tomorrow I want you to cut that Blue Spruce down and put something softer in its place. The blue spruce and something softer! He rose and. and the covers are off your compost heap. He returned to house to see the children romping around the lounge room. There was a very angry Celia glaring at him sitting in his TV chair with a glass of wine balanced precariously on the arm. He stayed there somewhat embarrassed to retur n. we all love it so. "No he didn't. without knocking." "Indeed." "And those rowdy kids of yours." "No we don't want them to hear. Johnson. the youngest came in from the garden clutching the top most trunk of his beloved blue spruce. The final straw came one evening a month from when they had first moved in.His garden had become the ceaseless playground of Celia's offsp ring and he began to understand why landlords were so cautious about whom they took. I see you've got fresh earth for it. as Celia would no doubt be berating her children. "You should be more careful what you plant. still that spruce of yours is a real beauty and all the neighbors agree. "Oh look" she said as she eased it off her. Johnson picked it up and with a tear in his eye. but I will look after them Celia.

He shook his head and turned back down to the village Post Office. Bronwyn was awaiting the arrival of her errant husband Donald. It wasn ’t as if she needed a wig. Where's Mum?" "She's gone away. Mr. I took the top off that prickly tree. Her stout legs buttressed her ample frame.Well smashed out to be more truthful. By the way I've got a cutting of the blue spruce in the greenhouse. so the game this weekend is on me. bit formal calling you Mister all the time. More red than auburn." "And I'm Augustus. when she twisted her head the wig would continue turning. the knees bent inward to help support the weight.Audcent 2000. Bronwyn Gladys Tucker stood wedged between the door jams." "Fine Augustus. He felt a surge of well being when Tim the eldest came downstairs." "Great we're staying. Yes Celia would keep it growing nicely." "You mean we can stay?" "It means you must all help. ‘Have you bought the post?’ she barked as he stomped up the valley road up to their level. with the sharp Welsh wind assailing round the slate roof and Bronwyn with that auburn wig she bought last birthday before last. tell you what. He snorted. He normally called into the pub on Thursday payday and he knew her vigilant gaze would be directed down in the village where he was quaffing his third beer." "Great idea Dan. let's take the kids to the game this weekend. she got it at sale price. Copyright P." The autumn of discontent. her own mousy hair was still substantial. if it takes would you like it?" "Too right I would." "Have a good day then." Johnson wrapped his arms about his chest and surveyed the blue spruce. my names Dan. and there it would stay for an hour or more skewed around." "For long?" "For good I suppose. Bye for now Augustus. I'm sorry. Johnson. but I'd like to think that I had acquired a real family with you three. Bisley has invited us to the game this weekend. He went back in to wash up and make the children breakfast. Even so he wouldn ’t have minded except it didn’t fit her. this was no living. . "It were me Mr. He sighed and picking up his leather case. She wouldn’t always place it back. made for the mountain top terrace where they lived. Bronwyn was no wolf. surrounded by coal slagheaps. He thought of a wolf in sheep’s clothing but erased that from his mind.

’ He nodded his farewell and set off once again for the terraces. she allowed her gaze to caress the bare hills and gray heaps most of them dotted below. She clutched her head and with a shout of annoyance stamped back to the doorway and lifted the wig off a twisted nail high up on the jam. She sighed. then there were her two sisters both married to miners and living locally. but he says you be passing and this lot were late from the train. your Missus keeps my Morgan in his job. generally Morgan took up a sack at all hours. seems a light load it being a Thursday. but when the sun rose in the morning and pierced the coal smoked village. “Mrs. Morgan wondered what all your mail was for. Her mother still lived just below with Aunt Freda and all her tribe.” Bronwyn handed him the hammer. That ’s what she told him when they first married. “I’ll do it after tea. “Now I don’t want to be inquisitive Donald.” She looked at him with daggers. you ’ve hardly time to read them all?” but Bronwyn had turned on her heel and stamped off to pour the tea. she went into the kitchen to make tea. Are you collecting stamps its seems to come from everywhere?” “Have you both been reading my letters then?” . ” “Then why can’t he take this lot up?” “Ah there's a tale and a half. “I was going to fix that nail it’s been irritating me these past few months.” Donald said as he arrived puffing. but why does she get so much?’ Donald shrugged his shoulders and replied with a. Besides her family were here and he had none. Bronwyn loved her birthplace. “Best do it now’” she said as she took the bag of letters from him. why do you want so many. When they were both seated before a plate of baked beans on toast. Their terraced house stood on the highest ground. Donald tapped the paper bag. And the rent was cheaper here. Morgan had today. “That’s all Mrs. “ Where’s the rest of them Donald. at least he never talked about them.” Donald nodded agreement. she knew Donald missed the Scottish Highlands and she had hoped he would acclimatize to her We lsh valleys.Mrs. This was home and as she waited for her recalcitrant husband to return. Donald reached up and smacked the nail back into the wood. the first to see snow each year and lashed by wind and rain it might be. except Thursday football training days that is. Morgan had a large paper bag full for him to collect. and that was tantamount to admitting he hadn’t anyone. She saw him starting out from the village and leaving the door open for him. their terrace was the first to reap the sunlight. “You see Donald. After all to be a valley you had to have hills around. sometimes the Morgans’ had a bag for him to collect. This is the smallest your Bronwyn has had this past few weeks. ‘I suppose it keeps her happy.

The other tins went into the fridge. spaghetti and a tin of mangos. Do you here Bron?” Donald knocked on her door. He picked one up and shook it. it was Mrs. bright and shiny with their tin casings reflecting the ceiling light. you seem to receive holiday brochures. Morgan.” “HE was coming up here with a special delivery. just the senders addresses. and he added the jingle for me. from his hand fluttered an open envelope. plus the boxes?“ “It’s the boxes that keep us fed. mushrooms. is plain stealing. we have to take it easy.“No. A month to the day Donald tramped up the steep road from the mine. Donald went from room to room. His doorbell rang. ” “Anyhow tell Mrs. He shook his head as he poured milk over the peach’s then called Bronwyn.” She yelled back down the corridor then slammed her door. He pushed the front door open and called out. then the next ‘beans or spaghetti’ and so along the line. Morgan to mind her business and you as well. it ends next Monday so I got Morgan the Post to send it special airmail. opened it and found it to be spaghetti. You’ll just have to take pot luck!” Came the muffled reply. picked her mail up and stalked to her bedroom. the manufactures wouldn ’t send us multiple replacements. “I only just made it. ‘Soup’. Do you here Bron. Then we wouldn’t eat.” Donald picked the beans can.” “Oh!” said Donald not the least bit interested. “And make sure you go easy on the washing liquid Donald. Stacked up in the room were boxes of tins and cartons reaching to the ceiling. “Bronwyn where are the labels to these cans. If I didn’t complain about nails or hair in the tins or the chocolates. Then turned in. Its fifty thousand.” “In the post. the mine is closing next month. The fourth tin produced sliced peaches. “I’ve just been given notice. Stacked in an orderly line stood twelve cans. I don ’t want to taste it on my food. Besides Bronwyn Tucker. “My Dai hasn’t come back from his round.” “To us?” . clothing catalogues and charity organization newsletters. no more shopping for competitions. but she didn’t appear so he ate both. claiming damaged food when its you who’ve put in a nail clipping or a piece of your wig then sending it back. Least ways not on what you earn as a third grade clerk.” “But if we moved closer to civilization I could get a better job. Pineapple. “We’ve all been given notice. after all clerking is all I can get here. so he tipped that into tw o dishes. it opened as he pushed against it but Bronwyn wasn’t there. there was this competition.” Bronwyn shoveled her toast in two furious gulps. Donald looked at the kitchen table.

it was the third time it had appeared.” . Morgan. “Hold on a minute. Alas they couldn’t trace him but they did uncover a Mr. Some cannery or other. you may be right all her good clothes have gone and our best suitcases as well. In fact our only suitcases. but he felt elated. Morgan walk down towards the village. since nobody would buy in a village without a stable employment situation. well. Some years later the terrace houses were pulled down under a comp ulsory purchase order. Copyright P. “Yes. they’ve been seeing each other and have run off. The Coroner could not explain the large brown envelope from the cannery found under Bronwyn ’s body. She bent in sorrow as she slowly made her way. Donald served out his time in the mine office. few in the village regretted their loss. Audcent 2001 Phyllis looked closely at the advertisement on her television. Being kind hearted he kept in touch with Mrs. Morgan pulled a flowered handkerchief and started to sob. so the bulldozers and trucks moved in to remove the rubble and the council tried to trace one Donald Tucker to pay him the purchase price of his house. until he moved over to the islands and settled on a small holding. For a time that is. Best you get home now and I’ll come down tomorrow. though in truth he had little expectation of selling it.” He ran down the hall and was back in a second. A sum of money was provided by the county for beautification. ” Said Donald. he gave Bronwyn a jingle.” “They had entered a competition. Morgan said it was bound to be special and he seemed to know where it came from. “Its on again. “What?” Came a gruff muffled reply from the shed. we’ll need to tell the Post Office. but his mind raced all the same. followed by a clang of a dropped spanner on concrete. and advertised his terrace home for sale.” Mrs. I’ll check Bronwyn’s chest of drawers. He collected his redundancy pay and together with his meager savings and one substantial cheque he moved up to Fife. “Don” she called from the window. His dream of selling up and moving back to Scotland seemed attainable now.“Your Bronwyn had a special letter. registered and insured it was too. It was empty. we must get one tomorrow. But in the deep hole where the two had lain were stacks of cartons and cans.” Donald watched Mrs. The Bread Machine.Tucker when tree planting had started. they’ll be all sold out. with none of their labels attached. fishing for his food and running a few goats and sheep. “Is that what you call it. and muffled oaths. Morgan and Mrs. Donald put his arm around her.

” “It’s a challenge Phyllis. now if you could just let me have your address please. How do we . but a CORN HARVESTER. “Means a trip to the store to get the ingredients. and ultimately gave her the number to ring. They signed for the package and shaking with expectation they tore the wrapping and opened the box.” Don took the book and stretched out on the sofa.” Her sister laughed when Phyllis told her.” “That’s a cake. I want one of those. The phone had been disconnected. A week later large cardboard carton arrived at their doorstep . We get fresh bread from the Robert’s store every week. goes well with cheese and jam. They gave their bankcard to the nice lady who answered their call.” “I mean daily fresh bread. fresh and the smell. ‘Mrs. Madeira is the first. Oh please Don can we have one?” “I guess so as long as you quit going about my harvester. Waywood you are the one hundredth customer to call and will receive a special gift in your machine. Don rang the bank and the money had been cleared. “I’ll not finish building this corn harvester if you keep interrupting Phyllis.” So they phoned the bread ad people. You said. “Well we don’t need to go today. our own home baked bread. put a lot of bakers out of work. for what purpose could you possibly want with a harvester. I wouldn’t expect you to understand. can you imagine it?” “No can’t say I do. Here you are Don just have a look through it. ” “Done. “Is it too late to stop payment of the bankcard?” asked a chastened Phyllis. “Never mind there’s always one that gets caught. now what the devil are you talking about? ” “Well first of all Don Waywood why build a huge abomination like that when we live in the middle of the city. even small aircraft in their backyard.” Breathed Phyllis. Phyllis had jotted down the number. ‘sides which what were you yelling out about a TV ad? ” “It was the bread machine. “There’s an index I’ll read out the different kinds you can make. “Oh good. Inside was a bright white bread making machine. I do hope they’ve sent the right machine. just because you saw a picture in the paper. besides which here’s the instruction booklet. Phyllis had spoken to her sister. smaller loaves.’ Strangely enough the ads no longer appeared on subsequent evenings.” Said Don begrudging a wasted hour to drive into the mall. I’ve heard of people building large boats. let’s decide what loaf we need to make first.Don shut the shed door and stomped angrily into the house.

“They told us to expect a gift.. Herb. Milk. French. where ’s the actual slip of paper with the recipe on Don?” asked his sister in law. Select ‘Other’ on the dial. “I guess your free gift may have been just the first batch. in fact your little machine has paid for itself five times over.” “Yes Don there is an ‘Other’ there.” “Yes its got money here but its hand written. Phyllis it’s got a recipe.” They searched everywhere. “You don’t suppose it got mixed up in the bowl by mistake?” Phyllis asked. no get the warm water and I’ll get that typing paper we have in the study.” Phyllis stamped her foot. there is bread I’m coming to it. and a new kitchen wouldn’t come amiss either. lets get the presses rolling.” “There’s nothing inside. Meanwhile Phyllis rang her sister.” Shouted Don as he galloped for the door. “Tell you what I’ll drive over to pick up twenty reams of photocopy paper. Sultana.” “Dam the harvester how about some new clothes for me. “What?” said Don as he continued to flick through the book pages. “I placed it on top of the copy paper.” “No you said ‘Mon. So they tried again making sure the water was exactly tepid and twenty grams in weight. Standard White. ” An hour later they took out the mixing bowl only to find a sort of paper mache’. Then switch on at the plug. I need to buy more bearings for the harvester. said Phyllis.exchange it if there was no return address or manufactures name? ” “Just hang fire there Phyllis. Someones added it to the list. what was it again?” “Milk Bread you know it’s made with milk not water. Again paper mache’. “Money. Wholemeal. “Did 200 gram of paper produce all of this?” “Indeed it did my dear. come on over and join the fun.” Phyllis said sadly. They twice weighed the fresh paper and switched on. not printed. “How’s the bread?” “Well its printing out money at present.” Phyllis had opened the lid and pulled out the mixing bowl. . It fell onto my lap. 20 grams clean tepid water. ” “What does it say?” “200 grams white paper. “Gracious. Money. Shall I get some paper?” “You are ahead of me.” “How do you mean?” “Its hand written at the back on a slip of paper.” Half an hour later they were surrounded by high denominati on bank notes. ” “I didn’t catch the last one Don. now lets try another batch.

” “But it cost so much. looks like you’ve got two of these now. What will they think of next? The Collector. “Indeed I am.” Sharon waved him off then returned to the kitchen and picked the book up.” Her husband rose up from the table and reached for the parcel containing the book. and Don’s still working on his infernal contraption.” she said to the clerk. one for your collection and one for the next garage sale.’ Condition B+. They have sent me a Margaret Bentley book of poems. like the proverbial colander. I have got her poems already!” Her husband shrugged his shoulders. Its trip hadn’t done it much good and the front cover was bent. “Dam auctioneers.” she ran to the bookcase and retrieved a catalogue. “Perhaps they mistook the book when packing it. this was .” wailed Sharon in response. “Look it definitely says LOT 23 a first edition Margaret Bentley ‘A case in point. however we can give you the name and telephone of the person who may have received your book. ” Sharon quickly flipped though the booklet and gasped. “Well Sharon. She looked at the advice/packing note and rang the Auction house.Audcent 2001 ‘Its strange. really strange’ Sharon Colletti whispered to herself. the cove r is bent and the front piece is torn. “But you sent the wrong book„” they had rung off. look in the catalogue in case they have a poems book. I have your book ‘A case in point’ and you obviously have my poems. but the bread machine does make a fantastic standard loaf. She grabbed the parcel from her husband and sent it flying across the room. They can surely contact the proper owner and swap the book. Her heart sank. ‘I know I filled the form out correctly’. “It’s damaged. she quickly told him what had occurred. and it’s not the right book. the flysheet was torn. “But did you. “She rang the number they had given her and a gruff voice answered.They never did find it. Now I’ve got to be away. “Can’t take it back if it’s damaged. perhaps we should meet and do an exchange. I have every one of her books and publications. ” “I’m afraid your book of poems came in a damaged parcel. ” With that the Auction house wiped its hands of the affair. see you tonight. Copyright P. The Sultana one is unbelievable. “Well all you can do is ring them up and complain. “Oh yes. she slammed it on the table under her husband’s nose. She pointed her finger at the Lot 93 ‘Bentley Book of Poems’ she read out.” “Are you a serious collector of Margaret Bentley?” asked the voice. you know how your mind is these days.

” Sharon levered up the box lid. “Meet you here tomorrow. so you obviously can afford it. she knew he had spent a lot to get it. “Very well. H appy Birthday’ A tear crept into her eye. ‘To Sharon my great little wife from her adoring husband. After the telephone call she looked up at her bookcase where her fine collection lay. Each one looking as new. she knew the truth of that. Well you came in a chauffeured car I see. a small card slid out which she stopped with her thumb.” said the gruff man. “I believe I should be recompensed with some reward for returning this to you. she had spent the best part of twelve years and thousands of dollars collecting them. You don’t think I would have been foolish enough to bring the real thing. placed the card in the damaged book and put it up on the shelf. where can we meet?” was all Sharon could say. Still she moved over to the table and repacked it in the Auction house box. They exchanged parcels. you bid against me. “How much were you thinking of asking?” she inquired.” Sharon nodded. ” Sharon . she walked to the car. It really was in excellent condition. I want four thousand dollars.’ she thought. It was convenient that both lived in the same vicinity. She put on her coat and taking the parcel under her arm. it’s just a book on oriental cooking.” “I’m sorry I couldn’t agree to that. “Well I did bid for a book in good condition and maybe you should keep the damaged one and give me the one from your own collection? ” the gruff voice sounded petulant.” The gruff voice laughed out aloud. They met in the local park. ” “Its not a chauffeur. She took it down and opened up the cover.the very last one I had to get. So very rare. same time. Whereas the poems were later and there are more of them out there.” “Perhaps I should have the book of poems back just in case.” ‘Oh dear perhaps I shouldn’t have said that he may want a reward. Besides I don’t have four thousand on me. and the book she now held in her arms had cost a fortune. its one of my husband’s employees. Bring the money and I ’ll have your book. “Open the parcel you foolish woman. “In fact that book was her first publication and in a limited edition. after all I did win this at the auction. “I was after it myself. “I’m not thinking. She moved the small stepladder closer to them and stretched up to retrieve the poetry book. and indeed her precious book was not there.” “You were the bidder on the phone?” She nodded.

It screamed with rage and clutched desperately to the bronze bars but the contraption was too heavy. With tears in her eyes she kissed him when she had opened them. he was after a reward.” “The book is precious. It was rare for her to venture out. but not with money. at least she hoped so. Then he gently grasped Sharon and lifted her onto the small stepladder. In his arms he bore two boxes. she always had her husband do things for her. with tentative st eps came slowly to the ripe fruit under the trap. “Finished” she breathed excitedly.felt a man’s shadow over her shoulder. “Yes. Well she will just have to source another book of poems. She moved closer to her husband as he gripped her around the waist. I’ll drive the gentleman home then go and join the Boss. I don’t want to loose it.” he sighed and smiled. . Copyright P. I believe I do. He took the book of poems and replaced it on the bookshelf and threw the damaged one into the fireplace. even on an insect. I’ll ring for another car to take you home. let alone a mammal.Audcent 2001 Wu Che watched quietly as the monkey descended to the floor of the forest.” “Yes M’am. Punctually her husband returned home at six. she wanted to savour the joy of completing the venture that had taken her twelve years. the last book to complete her collection. they did sometimes come up for auction. that’s all. “You didn't pay that outrageous man?” “In a way. The Imperial Zoo. he would specially admire the bronze red strips across the forehead. “Thank you Tony.” “Can I go now Boss” asked the employee from the doorway.” “Then can you take this book with you. quite finished. “You heard Stanley?” “Indeed M’am. but this was important. and handed them to a surprised Sharon. Its part of the exchange you see. Her husband’s employee led her away from the gruff voice that lay guffawing on the bench. With a leaping heart Wu Che jerked the cord and the monkey was trapped.” “Yes M’am. Wu Che had never seen such vivid markings as these. then handed her the ‘Case in Point’ book. The animal.” Sharon arrived home quite ill. Tee Won moved quickly to slide a heavy board under the animal thus trapping it on all four sides. She bent down to retrieve the little white card that had fallen into the grate. She placed it carefully next to the others and stepped down. Was he threatening you?” “No not really.“ the Don motioned him out. The animal had a brilliant coat and the Emperor would be pleased. his large plump body quivering at each chortle.

Whilst Wu Che set out his writing case he found the quill end broken and hurling the quill at Tee Won ordered him to sharpen it. Wu Che then refused to allow his apprentice to help him. Alas too much haste to please his Excellency brought about a calamity.” Called Wu Che from the tree he had been hiding in. .” Wu Che looked thoughtfully at the monkey. Nobody at court had seen such a remarkable coat and forehead. “Liar. But Wu Che still angry came into the room and slapped him hard against his head with such a blow that Tee Won was knocked unconscious. handing it to the animal.” Cried a tearful Tee Won. Wu Che was the imperial taxidermist and set about his task with impatience. I cannot do this all alone. Wu Che raved and ranted at his apprentice. An eager primate hand grasped it and ate it quickly. “No. I was not to have any part in its preparation. Master? ” Tee Won asked. we will need the special poison for the fruit.” “But you specifically told me to stand away. “Shall we place him in the smoke house after. If his Excellency permits then we will add the specimen to the collection. Tee Won removed the dish of poison as Wu Che reached inside the cage for the dead animal. Wu Che knew that the poison was expensive and the Emperor loathed using it except for the most important specimens. I shall personally write a note to his Majesty and send it with this monkey. Tee Won with a gloved hand. this special piece was to be his alone so he immediately commenced to work upon the poor creature. “You should have helped me Tee Won. This monkey was one such. we will cage him for the Emperor to see first. and then he dipped the cherry into the sweet smelling liquid. You Tee Won will most surely be beheaded.“Lift him carefully and place him gently in the sack you idiot apprentice Tee Won. ” Wu Che picked up a leather cord and whipped the unfortunate apprentice. Tee Won. He scrolled a short note that the messenger was to give to the palace. Tee Won in fits of crying did as he was told and taking a sharp knife carefully crafted a new nib. Tee Won then lifted the cage upon his shoulders and they repaired back to their quarters. The imperial command had been forthright about the value of this specimen. and the fur was spoiled in the tanning process. Wu Che then placed the animal into a gilded bamboo cage and sent for a messenger to transport the an imal to the Emperor. he placed the quill on a box above the saucer. ” Came the frigid reply. Several days later the animal was returned in the same cage with orders for its mounting. and shaking he reached for a rag to brush away the poison. He was aghast. Whilst returning the knife to its holder. it is your fault the coat is destroyed. the Emperor will be told how you ruined his most favorite specimen. As he turned his shirt caught the quill and rolled its nib into the liquid. expertly removed the animal from the bronze cage and carefully dropped it into a cloth bag which he then handed to his master. “No smoke house for this one.

“Quite. 'Author – Tarnsworth' 'A Message from the past' 'Ref Tar456' 'IN'. he did the primate. She stepped back and rechecked but she could n't find it. She looked either side but there was no Ref. He allowed it to grow and expand and then set to work. Attached to Wu Che was a note simply written. she had that eager expression written all over her face. he then dipped it into the ink well. Rita Young parked in the City Hall car park that Saturday and walked through the mall to the main Library. get carried away. A story written for my Librarian sister.“Serve you right you useless apprentice. Just in case others behind her were after the same book. ’ The Emperor at first taken aback studied the two creatures more closely. 'F to H'. Copyright P. 'No Tarn'. This was her twelfth visit in a month. She dived down the ally and with finger poised she moved urgently down the shelf 'St„Su„.” The Impossible book. now how will I start it?” Wu Che scratched his ear and licked the nib end to wet it for the ink to run smoothly. Downhearted she . He slumped forward and died. this note will do for you. Her heart leapt and she wrote the reference number down quickly then erased the search screen. She waited patiently in line for a terminal to be free. Tar456. Eventually her turn came and she dropped into the seat and started keying. for there was the ruined skin of the monkey as well as his poisoned master. then on until she reached the 'S to U' shelves. She knew the book was registered here to this main library. 'Author – Ester Tarnsworth'. A lifelike Wu Che appeared holding the spoilt monkey skin. She waited with bated breath. Eventually he left his seat and poked Wu Che sharply with his stick. 'Press Enter'. bring Tee Won to me he shall be rewarded with his masters position. She had asked on her first visit when they had showed her how to use the computer search facility. Tee Won. Now when Tee Won regained consciousness and gathered his wits he realized he was in deep trouble. this shall be the centerpiece of the collection. quite excellent. ‘I did this work on the human. Quickly and efficiently he applied his art and when two evenings had run their course he called for both a messenger and a cart.Sz„Tad„Tam„Tas'. She sped quickly past the 'A to D'. Now the Emperor was keen to see his latest specimen and the both messenger and cart were given priority treatment. yet don't get to the point of exactly what lies between the pages. The Emperor quickly ordered the cloth to be unwound from the tableau set before him.Audcent 2001 So many people read a book. A thought crept into his mind as he sat forlornly on a bale of stuffing.

For a week Rita became immersed in the Tarnsworth novel. In the bath she read." She said so she returned home and rang Henry for consolation. she handed it down to a delighted Rita. then dived back to chapter twenty. "I'm afraid this book has a long waiting queue already." 'Ah well such is life'. whilst listening to the newsreader she read. Tuesday and Wednesday went the same way. said Rita. "I can let you have the book on loan for one week only. she lay back and murmured 'Magnificent.' She picked up her car keys and went back to work." "Can't for a few days. while she ate she read. Later she thought about ringing in sick. "It seems to be our most popular book at present." The assistant climbed up and retrieved the books and picked out Tarn456. "Something important has come up. "Excuse me". "I've just checked for Tarn456 but its not on the shelf. she looked up high. I'll get our step ladder. Rita walked rapidly to the counter and handed the book to the Librarian together with her card. "I do believe it could be one of those. showered. you should have rung in. great girl. "Doctors Certificate?" "I'm sorry Rita but yours was only a casual job and we had to find someone else to fill in. It was a large volume of some thirty chapters." She said. I'll insert your name at the head of this list. but it must be returned within the week." Rita thanked her profusely and scurried out into the mall with a happy glow. but Rita woke.returned to the main alley where one of the assistants was loading the shelves with returned books from a trolley." This was at least half truthful. "Enjoy." "Oh. it should have been held here when it arrived back. Henry rang they were supposed to be going to a first night play his sister was in. sorry Hen. but instead she read on. ate breakfast and continued to read. Friday afternoon she had finished the book. met someone really great at the play. she cut him off. The Librarian a kindly lady noticed. said Rita to herself. friend of my sisters. it was on the computer as 'IN'." Monday and workday came." The assistant followed her down to the shelf and checked herself. Bye Hen." "But we were supposed to be going on a picnic with your parents. you go and I'll stay home with a good book. It was on her way to the . "Sometimes we have to place them on the top when the shelf is full"." Rita was crestfallen a tear crept into her eye. Her telephone rang it was Henry her boy friend. Thursday she dived out to do some quick shopping at the local store." The Librarian keyed a few characters into her machine and passed the book across to Rita with her ID card. I have no idea how it got on the shelves Miss Young. "Sorry Rita. "I'm sick I haven't been to work even Hen. to be re-issued to the next on the queue.

" Rita was taken aback. "You don't by any chance have any other books by Ester Tarnsworth?" she asked. Tell you what I'll add my name to the end of the list." She clicked a few keys on her computer and deleted her name from the her list of interesting authors. mind blowing. like most children I know. her friends and family were alienated from her. Ester Tarnsworth published only the one book. I read in a library magazine that she did have someone she loved. And who is to say that this is only a work of fiction? Did you have a little invisible friend when you were young? Jane Goodall was born one September morning during a ferocious storm. I think that's why she lived alone. in the meantime that little blond lady over by the music cassettes. When she had been issued with the book she nodded gratefully to Rita and scurried out the door. Was it?" "Oh!" said Rita as she turned from the counter and slowly made her way through the sliding doors. "I've bought it back. Sam ’s was ." she said quietly. The Librarian smiled.Audcent C2000. which her Grandmother predicted she would be a rather special little person. prior to her death that is. Her parents had no other thoughts than to be pleased that they had been delivered a girl to follow two elder brothers." "The story goes that she was always interfering into other peoples lives. on the whole I think not Ester Tarnsworth. "Unfortunately." "Oh how very sad. or fortunately which ever side you are on. 'No. The Lioness copyright P. someone with that immense talent and so young. "or perhaps you may know of one she is still to publish?" The Librarian shook her head. back out into the real world." "Well that seems to be every readers comment. "How was it?" "Magnificent.library that she had another thought. gone through a phase of having an invisible friend. This little story is a warning to those who bully and a comfort to those who are bullied regardless of their age." gasped Rita. Still you enjoyed the book and your life wasn't changed by it. She was even here when we opened up you know! I'll let her know it's arrived. Eventually even he was driven away. I really must get time to read it myself. "Oh what a shame. With her book safely tucked under her arm she approached the Librarian's counter with an air of expectation. "In fact I believe he wrote the article about her. The author had looked so young in her photograph on the cover sheet. The Librarian fixed her a thoughtful stare. Sam and Ted were some ten and eight years older and both had. she's been awaiting your arrival." The Librarian held her hand up high and the blond lady beetled over to the counter.

I’ll ask Nurse Smithers when she comes by and I can talk properly.” Do you have a name for her. The boys were at first careful not tease their little sister about her newfound friend. because I wasn’t sure I could keep her. who later disappeared into the rea lms of his youthful memory and eventually to be forgotten. “Yes. but Missy only accepted the imaginary milk that Jane conjured up in her mind. Ted would ask his mother to lay a plate for Ethel on these special visitations. she would begin to wonder why Ted stopped having Ethel to tea. Jane apologized though her gagged mouth and sign language. Naturally the nurses did not mention the small pool since the little girl had only recently awakened. and upon awakening she had discovered a little lion cub squatting and passing urine. The nurse was so pleased to see all the food eaten. even when Jane tried to introduce her new friend. and her parent’s house. ‘You know Missy you can’t live on dream food alone. “I rather think that Missy has come to find you. ” “Not all.” Asked Jane to Nurse Smithers.” Said the nurse. Do you give all the children who come here a little lion. Ted on the other hand had a little imaginary soul mate called Ethel who would walk him to school each day reminding him not to step on the paving cracks lest he have bad luck. I’m sure you are a lady lion. “Do you think my little cub is a girl. In her third year she was duly operated on. Her mother had explained that the surgeons had done an exceptional piece of surgery and the best they could do. Yes. and bent down to pick the little cub up. At first Jane tried to feed Missy real food from her drink bottle. Her operation had still given her a small harelip and she began to notice adults would turn their head as she went by with her family.” “Thank you. I will give some meat. I do believe she is. ‘I shall call you Missy.” And so Missy came to live as a permanent fixture in Jane’s life.” Nurse Smithers was smiling.” said Nurse Smithers. but others were not so thoughtful. Once he was at senior school he no longer mentioned her. As Ted grew older and Jane began to talk. Shortly after Jane’s birth the Doctors said she had a cleft palette and an operation would need to be performed when she was strong enough to take the anaesthetic. But the nurses only smiled a knowing smile. She would change fr om skirts to trousers and sometimes be by his side for supper. but Missy cuddled up close to her and slept contentedly.a little fellow called Squeaker. ’ She thought to herself. its Missy. when my stitches are out and I can have solid food instead of just soup and milk. but I’ll keep that as her name instead of a proper one like Mary or Pam. ” “Yes of course you may. Jane accepted the fact that her mouth . Maybe the twist in her lip would grow out or not. “And may I take her home with me and care for her.’ Sure enough that day was not long in coming and Missy tucked into Jane ’s breakfast tray.

“No I didn’t but Woof (the dogs name).” Ted’s friend shook his head in disbelief and took his Woof straight home away from this peculiar household. The cowardly thugs made a complaint to the police who visited the Goodall home to pick up and destroy the dog that had done the damage. It happened so quickly that the thugs could not give a reasonable account of what occurred. without success to get her parent’s to give Sam a telling off. but it had stopped dead. So the situation stayed like this with Jane firm in her belief and the rest of the family not. The police questioned the neighborhood in an effort to find the culprit but without success. Then it began to weave out in front of them and Jane cried out to Missy to let the ball go. I do hope you will grow up soon. playfully grabbed my shoe and Missy took offence and nipped him. who also happened to be the Mayor ’s son. without success. Now the boys were looking forward to their sport in the park and were angry with Jane. By the time Sam came back with the ball the thugs had fled and Jane was helping Ted to his feet. The scratches on the thug’s leg were similar to a large cat so a patrol car scoured the area for such a cat. and Missy certainly did not seem to care about it. And that from now on she should stop feeding this phantom under the table at mealtimes. on meat and bone scraps cadged from the local butcher. but they both rubbed their eyes in astonishment. but her growing lion cub was some recompense for a misshapen lip. One of Ted’s friends bought over his dog. Just before Jane started junior school she and her brothers went over to the park to play.would not be perfect. Jane would surreptitiously feed Missy in the back shed away from prying eyes. “I think we’ve all had enough of your invisible friend that doesn’t really exist Jane. She would act as goalkeeper between the posts made from their clothes. “We don’t have a dog. he and the boys were going up to the park to play football. Neither Sam nor Ted made any comment. The leader was one Danny Santos. She tried. Father Goodall then made a complaint against the thugs who had interrupted his children’s game but nothing came of it. The dog yelped when it was in the yard with Jane by herself. The boy’s rushed out and accused Jane of hitting it. But they smiled and said he had told the truth. Sam ran after it leaving Ted with Jane. But the result was the thug standing over Jane had his jeans ripped open and his ankle broken. She was no where near it.” Said their mother. Sam said. Needless . They continued practicing their shooting skills when a gang of thugs crossed over the grass and kicked the ball away. Sam aimed a ball some distance from where she was crouched. only Jane’s little lioness.” No more was said. but it made Jane unhappy that her own cub was purely a figment of her imagination. but one of the thugs pushed him over then confronted an angry Jane who ran to defend her brother.

Now quit delaying and let’s get into them. Ted grabbed Sam by the collar and steered him to one side. And here by pure chance was the youngest. “No. Sam quickly pulled away Danny’s almost severed arm from . “Now we’ll have all three. “You a coward then Ted. only infuriated Danny Santos and he was determined to hit the Goodall children one at a time.” Sam shouted as he started to run towards the gang.” “Thank you Jane but I really do think Missy is from your head. who warned him and Ted to be careful. and we will arrange to collect you from school when Mother can’t” Sam smiled at Ted who was still a little pale. and raising his arm pointed to the two brothers running toward them. eager to retain his fellow thugs’ respect. “Thank you Jane for your offer.’ Was the friend’s advice. but quickly shot his hand back to his side. Anyhow if you do really believe in her you should have her for protection for yourself.to say Mr. they won’t hurt Jane. you dolt its plain cotton like the one on your bed. Sam and Ted rushed in and picked Jane up between them.” Sam patted her on the head.” He gasped. ” Sam pushed Ted’s arm away. Jane amongst that lot. they are after you and I. “Surround the piglet. In the distance he could make out the running figures of her two brothers. “Listen Sam you got one heck of a furry pillow then. Sam heard this via a school friend. Danny Santos picked Jane up by the scruff of her collar and shouted to her oncoming brothers. Goodall’s complaint went no further in the police department. “Missy’s climbed on your bed and has her head on the pillow. Think man there are nine of them. you could give her a tickle behind her ears if you like.” Jane nodded to Ted who leaned over. “Missy’s growing quickly because I’m feeding her meat and bones. but she had already left so they both ran down the highway to try to catch her. I know what I saw but I still can’t bring myself to believe. What followed was a melee of torn arms. though it was successfully stifled. “Now hold up Sam. they had called at the junior school to pick up Jane. Sadly this complaint.” he ordered his gang. Some days later. Danny Santos. you could borrow her to take with you. shredded jackets and blood flowing out of open wounds. but his shouting turned into a scream.” Ted forced his brother around to face him. she needs rescuing. he went quite white. Jane heard Sam and Ted talking in their bedroom about what they should do to protect them all. Alas Jane was indeed confronted on her way home by the gang. had decided to take it out on any of the Goodall’s he came upon. but you keep Missy.” he sneered. ‘Walk together and stay alert.

“Dinners on me Missy. and this event only happened every half century. Nathan had no intention of refusing for this was official and that was that. neither did she really. The Mayor had sworn to avenge his son’s injury. The high gate had clicked open and an irritating buzz sound came from within the sleep room that lay to his left. Thus he pondered for a few minutes in his quarters of how happily he had lived here. not even the police could believe two young men and a little girl. The boys kept this little adventure to themselves.” said Sam as they ran down to the supermarket and the butchers. I wrote this story back in the early 1960’s. Then I was into reading science fiction. for it was written on the rule board in his lounge. He shrugged his shoulders. its breathing on my hand.Audcent. and it was here that he was standing now. the detective didn’t fancy the Mayor’s chances. Course I didn’t believe her. Do you mind asking it to move. no.” Jane owned up. and Missy of course. could inflict so much harm on a gang of thugs. He knew exactly what the signal meant. There were his four rooms in all set edge to edge leaving a small square courtyard in the middle.’ they both said when the detective called. The Road. inches thick with large internal bolts. ”My wife told me about you having found a lion cub in hospital.” Detective Smithers rubbed his wet hand. This central area was called the ‘Walk zone’ and the gate that had just opened was situated in his ‘Sleep room’. deeply contented. he knew where his duty lay. The rooms themselves were necessarily small since the whole of Earth’s population would need to be accommodated. The door of each room faced inwards to the courtyard. Nathan looked very surprised. The odds of being selected maintenance person were. It was the first Earth law. Jane turned and called Missy to them. and the planet was only so . “It was really me. There were no outside windows in any of the walls and Nathan had so spent his whole life within the confines of an area no more than fifty square metres. Jane’s mother just added more meat and bones to the weekly shopping list. Copyright P. It was a sturdy metal one. he calculated probably in the region of thirty billion to one. ‘It was Jane. in fact. and importantly what would become of us. perhaps not surprised more curious and faintly suspicious. but he was apprehensive. but he was puzzled why he had been chosen. In the grass verge Sam could see huge paw prints come racing toward them.his sister’s coat and then ran on. So I wondered how we humans would apply all the new gadgets still to come. and left shaking.

he would awake and eat his food pills that always arrived precisely on time in his ‘Sleep room’ via a small automatic porthole in the wall. set into the floor. he was safe and content. A flower. He presumed even the oceans were utilized with underwater building. Up until he was fifty years old his computer would only receive schooling material and transmit his answers to set examinations. It was mandatory to study ‘Maintenance Personnel’ and ‘World Laws’. Most of the films he saw showed the horrors that previous generations had to suffer and these horrendous depravations never now occurred. The Leisure room was an area for enjoyment and would show films and documentaries from ages past or. It touched him to his very core as he walked into each room and remembered how happy he had been. He knew what a tree was but never had actually touched one. school lessons. The buzzer sounded a nd he stepped quickly through the gate. He was thus able to speak a number of languages. which was linked to a World Computer. art and animal husbandry could be reflected on the screen. Nathan had neither direct nor indirect contact with others of his race other than through his computer. He had no other comparisons to make. The room also contained a screen and keyboard. The ‘Sleep room’ was completely bare save for a simple soft plastic mattress. showing no sign of inquisitiveness merely performing these actions as he had been taught. and as he grew older particular subjects that took his inte rest. He was never over tired or irritated and it seemed to him to be perfection in lifestyle. by selecting keys on the keyboard. The last room was his most important one. Next to it was a water fountain and plastic mug. The second room was the ‘Leisure room’ and within its confines was a large plastic screen on the wall. His cloths he would wear for a week and then dispose of them in a small chute. He carried neither bags nor souvenirs.large. He would open a new gown from a storage cupboard in his ‘Leisure room’. He would then have a shower and retreat to the ‘Learning room’ for most of the day. it was the ‘Learning Room’ for here daily Nathan would listen to relayed music. The gate closed softly and he turned to see a thin plastic track road with a bubble machine that ran in a slot. he could pull up any number onto to his screen and write credible poetry about their beauty. They were made from a fine linen like paper. Its door was open so he sat inside and put on the harness. The third room was his ‘Cleaning room’ where at regular times he visited his shower and the toilet. In the early evening he would retire to the ‘Leisure room’ and watch the re-runs before an evening meal of biscuit style food served from his food porthole. As the door closed and the bubble moved off he did have a strange feeling of excitement at the velocity that the machine was achieving and he smiled in . music. the sun invariably always shone in his courtyard. recite World Laws. In front stood a large heavily upholstered chair with a swiveling keyboard mounted on the side. But grasp one he couldn’t. and take a variety of examinations and degrees on subjects that he himself chose. His day started as any day.

this control room managed and ran the entire world processes. He had expected a clean glass and stainless steel environment. He contented himself by lying back in the comfortable seat to enjoy the journey for indeed the vehicle now entered worm like tub es at increasing speeds as it hurtled though oceans and mountains. but dutifully carried out his role of maintaining the system until his dying day. dials and knobs set in a curved control unit. This room was the only one with a door and inscribed on it were the words ‘Maintenance Only’. They were musings from the previous inhabitants of this room. He was the last of the human race. linked by high translucent walkways. As he crossed over the plastic tiled floor he walked upon a metal plate. He remembered the complexity of the old cities of the world and presumed this area had been one of them. not this was a dirty unkempt sight. He put them aside then dutifully picked the manual up. Thus he lived amongst the cabling. Indeed the bubble slowed and ultimately stopped in front of a rusty moving escalator. The odds had been one to one. air. he stooped down to read its inscription. He opened it slowly and saw a bank of electronic screens. But here at the close of his journey he traveled through a maze of sky high factory buildings. content he had fully maintained the system and happy that he had served his millions of brethren. just bare rock and water. It read ‘Human Disposal Unit’. It took him an estimated three hours to reach his destination. Little did he know that he had originally been selected because the odds were not as large as he had originally estimated. He stood up in shock. Down the thin plastic road it sped passing continuos walls of abodes like his own and occasionally crossing different colored roads. all controlled from this one room. There was a manual on the control desk with a chair for him to sit upon. So he lay down on the metal plate. When one day he felt overly tired and withdrawn. And then he saw the sun. these were the first human communications he had ever seen in another human hand. A sign indicated that he should walk to it and mount t he stairs. this huge golden red ball and he stared. It explained his role. . switches and dials for nearly thirty years. only turning his head when his eyes hurt. He opened the manual and out spilled several notepapers. He picked them up and read them. water purification. He had passed great metal domes and spewing factories lodged closely by the accommodation blocks. He gasped at the immensity of it all. Often he would see the blur of similar accommodation blocks to his own some many stories high. sewerage. He’d left a little poetry on some notepaper and placed it amongst the other musings for the new person to enjoy. There was no natural scenery. clothing.satisfaction. he knew his time was nearly up. Shortly a new maintenance person would come. Food. The sun he’d seen in the films was much smaller and yellow. He followed them obediently along a labyrinth of interconnecting corridors until he reached a large control room. He came up to a huge reception hall and illuminated signs started to flicker into life.

They were having a fearsome time of trying to avoid the submarine wolf packs and the Corvettes were no match for them in the boiling seas. I got into conversation with my newfound host. “ You were kind enough to buy a old sailor a beer. and pulling a chair up opposite me eyed my ale glass furtively. though in truth I had no idea who he was. “Our own depth charges were puny and the ‘U’ boats were fast enough to keep well clear of us. Whenever the wind abated up would come the periscopes and out would come the torpedoes. He shook his grey head in pain as he remembered the merchant ships exploding and disappearing under the waves.The Rock.” he replied and he hailed the Innkeeper for two Rhubarbs with cream. as the drizzle descended on that West Country coastline I sat before a blazing fire with a plate of lobster. side salad and a pint of lager beside me. “Well I had done this trip a number of times and on two previous occasions I had in the group two old tubs one American and one Canadian.Audcent 2001 Sometime in the 1970’s the Admiralty in London requested that an island in the Atlantic be erased from the charts. I invited the landlord to pour another for my unwanted companion. At least for the next thirty minutes. Copyright P. I’ll buy you a slice of tart.” he paused and a ghost of a smile lit up his face. Nobody could find it! At least not any more! I had driven down to Dawlish Warren to visit an old classmate. Eventually he reached the command of a small Corvette escorting vessels from North America to Britain during the second war. So. First inquiring whether I would follow the lobster which the Inn ’s famous Rhubarb tart and clotted cream. Goodness knows what they carried but whatever it was always got through to the Thames. we had a very one-sided chat. mainly coming from his direction. . “So our Landlord employs you to sell his vitals?” I said with a broad smile. Since it was a gloomy grey day I decided a lunch at the local inn would be a great idea. As I placed the cutlery upon my finished plate he started to speak. who quaffing his ale slowly at least allowed me to finish the meal. Astonished as I was. it was the large merchant ships that suffered the hits. I had taken no more two bites of my delicious lunch when an old fellow hailed me from the other side of the room. though in fact our orders were to keep a cer tain speed and not drop back for the slow ones. Apparently he was born in Bideford and the river there soon led him down to the sea. He joined the Navy as a midshipman and was eventually selected to go to Devonport Coll ege. The Corvettes themselves were safe. But they were slow. They were fat and lazy not much bigger than ocean going tugs. I stopped eating and waved back. Well that my first mistake for the fellow plodded over. who happened to be out when I arrived. We were hesitant about leaving the smaller slower shipping behind.

to my horror there were the same two old tubs wobbling alone in the rear station where I had been ordered.On this trip they lay aft of my Corvette and because of the atrocious conditions we were able to slow down enough for them to keep up. Eventually we were left far behind and the two old tubs wallowed and belched their way forward with my vessel close behind. I received a ‘Watch your backside next time Corvette. War is not a matte r for hilarity. I heard little back but I was the laughing stock of my base. Once clear of the fog we were able to proceed with some speed until we reached mid Atlantic. and the laughter.’ the other sent a ‘Trust you can keep up with us brother. surprisingly it was granted. The tub on my port side partly hid us so the enemy could not see us sufficiently well.” I interrupted him with a ‘Surely you wouldn’t risk the convoy for two small vessels?’ “That I did and I had every man except the engineers on deck to spy out for enemy ripples in the sea. In broken English the German sailers were aping the size and speed of the two tubs with great jollity. we could not take you on it would be our disgrace for ones so useless and little. As we swung around we heard above the lap of the water shouting. So I sent a ‘Godspeed’ more in hope than anything else.’ I politely declined to reply. ’ Further roars of laughter followed until they spotted the Corvette. Our radar and aircraft protection had improved except for the central seas. we now were warned that a pack were probably heading for that area. and even my attempt to hit the thing failed. I was stationed behind the tubs as . Some idiot in London had told the whole story and made me look a right fool. they were probably out of torpedos and their deck gun was certainly a smaller bore than ours. a huge tonnage had been lost that week. but received no reply. I flashed a message to them both. and yelling like his crew. Deck gun inoperable. bid us an uneventful cruise. A submarine on the surface was at its most defenceless. Ahead we spotted a black object rising from the sea and to my surprise a ‘U’ boat came into view with its bow facing us. I reported these events to our base commander and on it went up to Admiralty. By the time we were close to Ireland the wind and waves died and the group were ordered to steam full ahead. But I wondered why the Germans had not put a torpedo into the stern of my Corvette. It didn’t take long to surmise. thus we would we be at the mercy of any pack for the next forty hours. Several months passed and I was on another convoy coming from Newfoundland. So I slowed down to come around the tubs with the intention of firing our deck gun. They called ‘You safe. alas the breech of our gun was stuck with ice and the German crew were able to disappear and dive before we could get over to ram them. No depth charges. I requested permission to stay at the rear so I could keep a sea eye out for the little tubs. The officer in charge of this menace of a submarine obviously had a similar sense of humour for he came to the surface behind us. So we were now entering the waters that aircraft could not patrol since they were too far from the coast. one ‘U’ had been sunk some hours earlier.

‘But they are only little fry. I then had warning from the radar that an incoming torpedo was coming my way so I circled and headed for its departure point. which began to change its pinging tone. They had switched on hidden diesel engines! We started off more sedately. ‘I go below fifteen minutes from now I come. but I hold this and I believe you to be a real seaman. Good day Commander. I radioed the two tubs and commanded them to put as much steam up to get away then ordered my own craft full speed intending a continuous weaving around our charges.’ And then it popped out of the sea behind us with a man appearing with a loud hailer and a white flag. with my full power on. ‘We are at war you know’ I shouted across the water. ‘Submarine behind’ came the shout.’ ‘I thought you B’s might have run out of armament. I set up depth charges ready to do battle. The ‘U’ boat came alongside some thirty metres away. ‘I could sink you now with my deck gun. Its needl e shape adding to its water speed. we had two left. I needn’t have bothered both tubs roared off at double the speed my Corvette could do. but couldn’t agree whom we should aim for. you have fifteen minutes and I have orders for them.’ Said I angrily. I turned as quickly as I could but the other craft . dropping the charges where the ‘U’ boat should have been. ‘Besides you missed the ram last time and your aim is not good.’ He pointed to the two tubs. for breasting the waves in the far distance was the long fin of the conning tower. ‘Our esteemed Admiral was furious for letting you all go last time. We also had a new innovation on board. I kept station and soon the convoy was lost over the horizon.usual and the convoy was ordered to full speed. I managed to crawl back their lead somewhat. I like a fool returned it.’ ‘Not so. I ordered the gun loaded and slowed the Corvette. It was ludicrous but the sub Captain still held his white flag. ‘True’ said the sub Captain. All hands were once again on deck. Explosions.’ I shouted in earnest. ‘thirty and three hundred and closing. I had a radio message from one of the tubs to go if I wished . Naturally the tubs could not follow and ploughed behind until the rest were several miles ahead.’ He waved at the tubs. not like those you guide. Ah I go. eh. I kept an eye on the tubs which. the sub would move much faster on the surface where it would use its diesels. Now I was certain that those two tubs were not merchantmen and having a radio on board surprised me. no oil.’ ‘I will give you fifteen minutes start then I will attack. ‘Depth and distance please’ called I. binoculars grasped firmly surveying the sea in all directions. ’ He said slowly.’ He saluted.’ By this time all four craft had come to a halt and we all lay bobbing in the North Atlantic. ‘Not so little’ said he. ‘Very true. ’Coming alongside for talking’ the loud hailer called. It dawned on me the torpedo was a feint to get me out of the way. but immediately an order came from our command destroyer to hold my position and would the convoy ships not interrupt naval procedure.

unless you have strong lungs you are welcome.’ ‘Ah. ‘Why were you so insistent on going for those tubs. ‘It would seem you have me Commander. for I’m sure that rock is marked on my chart. We were now close enough to hear the rending of metal plate upon the rock. remember the torpedo tubes are at that end’ he called as he rose over the conning tower.’ ‘You may leave me here.were well ahead of me. but I suspect Hans knows. Come aboard if you please now as my gunner will hole you now.” . I have radioed them to collect my crew and myself. ‘Secrets gone. Were it not for this dam rock pool I would have had them. we are in mid Atlantic are we not?’ ‘It would seem Captain your navy had not read the journeys of Columbus or John Cabot. I presume your torpedo at my Corvette was just an invitation to dance. suddenly the fin submerged and disappeared. “What was in them. ‘I have started a fire. My orders did not go into detail. did you ever find out?” “No.‘ said I. ‘I come. Shortly after as I gained on the tubs they separated around a hidden object and two explosions rent the water behind them. As I veered around to follow the tub on the starboard side the submarine came rearing up and beached itself upon a rock shelf. He refused so the Gunners sent a shell to close to his bow.’ I called casually.’ I was to learn later that indeed those tubs were never used again.’ he smiled and I ordered them all down below and our full speed from the rock. ‘I would like to see inside your boat please. With my gunners pointing at the stricken sub I looked to see where the tubs were. He saluted me and a small explosion came from the sub hull. Their Captain returned to the inside of his boat and I called him to come. I suspect what was in those tubs was worth more than twenty Corvettes. ‘I would like to invite you all aboard. ’ he said as he climbed up our lines. I could make out the tubs close to the horizon and the ‘U’ boat closing. then slow to come up to the shelf. then you will caught by the pack and we will all go down. followed by a cocky smile. my colleagues will be here soon. The white shirt or flag came up though the hatch. We deposited the German crew into Portsmouth and the ‘U’ boat captain saluted me. we had a gale warning and neither you nor your boat would last ten minutes. they had disappeared over the horizon. ’ ‘You put it so well. ’ I nodded to the gunner and the sub screw received a round. ’ ‘Indeed. This bought up the submarine crew in haste and we caste over lines for them to come aboard. I caught his shoulder as he turned to leave under guard. Later I was to learn he had destroyed his cipher machine. and I ordered half speed. though I suspect the tubs will be put out to pasture now. What may I ask is it doing here.

There were two large Acer trees at the next indentation and he wondered whether he should move down to that entrance since this one was locked in some way. On either side of it stood two huge Italian cypresses. Where are your parents to allow you both to go parading around naked?” Lester was getting really grouchy. A few years later a small press article caught my eye. He jerked his thumb in the direction of the Innkeeper. I also made a mental note to fly to the States in future rather than take a cruise liner.“Hans?” I queried. Just then a small girl jumped out from behind the cypress. “We partners now in this.” I said as I counted out what was left in my wallet. “Hi. He wondered how many gates there were in this hedge. “Secrets. “Twelve thousand and forty two. he didn’t like this place or cheeky children either. in the end they presumed it was an old fly spot on the original map s and the error was compounded at each printing. Leste r turned to the girl who was dressed exactly the same. The welcome place. a change to their mid Atlantic chart. “did we frighten you?” “Yes you d„ well did. Copyright P. Then the hedge some three metres tall trailed away. Along its length were little indentations and he presumed they housed similar entrances? He turned his head and saw the same on the other side.” he waved his hand around the pub and then at the old seaman. “We were expecting you a bit earlier but I expect some complication arose?” she looked him directly in the eye. .” “I beg your pardon. it was a release from the navy. It had a band of gold leak around the edge and was strapped to his small frame by a silver cord.” A boy with dark curly hair stood on the other side of the gate.Audcent 2001 Lester Thompson shifted his gaze from the little picket gate in front of him to the hedge that ran as far as his eyes could see. and I put a contribution into the ‘Lifeboat’ on the bar as I left.” Yelled Hans from behind his bar. with hedges you can’t see over and stupid little gates.” she said with a smile. what the heck is this place. Lester stood back to see the lad better. the navy had spent considerable energy attempting to locate the said rocky island. A rocky island was inadvertently marked by the early mariners. Ya. Again he turned to the other side and noticed two large Plane trees at the next entrance. Facing the wooden gate again he took in its gleaming white paint but apparently no locking device. “You are a good salesman. and where are your clothes. The boy pointed to his loincloth. I thought of the two sailors at Dawlish Warren. He had pushed at the gate when he had first arrived but it held fast. but the story was worth it.

‘Why?’ said I. He turned to look at the children but they were gone. They rose and turned towards him and he knew he was home at last. He held her tightly then followed Tess through the gate. He had opened the door. but instead bent down to check Tess out. He then crept along the floor searching with his arms. and then his eyes focused on his new silv er cord and gold trimmed loincloth. she was between you and the flame. ” The girl had cambered on top of the gate and stared down at him. Lester rose up on his knees and fell backwards as a flash of black and silver thrust a wet tongue over his face and hands. But where was he. Grief rode over him like the tide. ‘Just give you time enough to visit our ancient church. he remembered his head throbbing and then the smell of smoke.” Said the curly headed boy. and why am I here. Behind lay thick rolling gray cumulus clouds scudding along the ground and high in the air like a huge moving curtain. “She seems as right as rain. choking smoke.” Said the boy. he fou nd her whining at the door.” He grinned and waggled her ears. Lester looked behind.” He looked down at her.Audcent 2001 I was visiting a small port town and was early for my appointment. now where is this place.” Lester nodded. She didn ’t appear to have a hair out of place. scrambling out of bed he called for Tess. I stopped off at a local restaurant and ended up having just a coffee. He and Tess were inseparable. “Same way as they did yours. and where is my dog?” He shouted in rage. How had they disposed of her poor burnt body? Tears rolled down his cheeks.” “You don’t remember the fire?” Lester shook his head. and then the force of the super heated air and blankness. a bit thinner maybe but still the same twinkling brown eyes and happy panting face. She jumped up with her sharp little paws on him.” Said the boy sadly.” said the girl as she patted the dog. “She died. He turned and closed it carefully. this is a bad dream he thought. “both of you that is. “Am I in some hospital. “Thank you. Ahead of him the children scampered towards a couple who sat quietly on a bench close to a tinkling waterfall. Copyright P. Was it or wasn’t it. the gate was open. “Now watch my clothes Tess its my best pair of pajama’s I’ve got on. “They say grief is selfish. ’ said the lady who served me.“Well if you are expecting an apology you won’t be getting one. In the distance he could paths coming down from the hedge toward a central complex. I was expected in an hour for lunch. ‘It’s a lovely walk over the cliffs and you did say you were going . for one only thinks of oneself. “You need to be registered of course. Lester sat down heavily on the gravel path.

” I was perplexed by the answer as well as looking around me all the time. but after a few centuries it gets very boring. All old doors creak and this one was no exception. “What about my vehicle?” “Just leave it behind our building. you ’re just as bad as those brass rubbers who come here with their scrolls of paper and charcoal. “If everybody did that the effigy would soon get rubbed out. the war. I rubbed my finger along one of the tombs by the side.” I looked up at the stained glass and had to admit it was gloriously coloured.up to see the Cheviot’s. and enjoying the expanding view I admit. Just a quick look then. they’re just past the church on the left. well we ’ll see. The church was surprisingly large for such a small township.” I nodded. ”the children have wrecked the atmosphere.” “Crayon probably. “The two side panels I said. “Excuse me but whom am I talking too?” I asked rather sharply. whomever my guide was seemed to know his history.” So there I was climbing this tarmac path. Atmosphere. I came up on the brow of the hill somewhat weary. The ground levelled out and I came through the cemetery gate and entered the ancient portals. “Don’t take that tone with me. ” “The two centre panels are original and depict our ships and trade in those days. I decided to sit in a pew so I moved on down the side aisle just quickly glancing at the various plaques and tombs. The Church itself was lit by a huge stained glass window over an alter.” “No.” I had decided to miss the church and go on to my appointment. “Rich people build rich buildings. with three long pointed side windows in clear glass.” Came the equally sharp reply right next to me. Surprised I looked all around me but I didn’t see a soul.” she called over her shoulder. It wasn’t gloomy at all and surprisingly clean. Reminded me of one of those creepy movies. “Its alright it it’s the first time you’ve seen it. Some children passed by followed by an irate teacher. that’s before the port became silted up. “If you are thinking of going into the church don’t.’ “Um” said I. Thus having passed though a factory site and two fields. “We exported a lot of minerals and animals. She gave me a nod. So I leaned against the dry stone wall and caught my breath. .” “Which one?” Asked I. I really think its quite grand and very modern looking.” “The one with load humming noise and splutters in the air. The panels at each side were commissioned by our late vicar to celebrate the end of the war.” “Oh. but the teachers remarks and the gaggle of children all leaping and jumping in front of her changed my mind.” I said as I turned around to see my interloper.

Some hose and a leg appeared.” He said sadly.” “I’m sorry. and he was almost solid.” “Presumably they managed to escape these walls then.” He looked at me.” “If I was laid outside I would be freer to roam the countryside.” I said cheerfully. to wake up to see who’s about.” “It squeaks” “That’s my signal. here I am laid and here I stay. They were playing hide and seek and I joined in. What was the weather like outside?” “Warmish. “I’ve heard every sermon from different lips for the past three centuries. Something rustled beside me and I looked down. I ’ve never seen them about. you see the tomb of Robert and Matilda. but they all leave through that door and I‘m alone again. never hear complaints from them. Look over there. who complained that her charges had disturbed the atmosphere of your church.” “You don’t seem particularly disturbed by my presence. “Sundays must be busy. “Let me ask again.” I turned to him. I gave one or two a look at me. and though I could see through him. Fact is.” . giving the history of this place. every letter on every plaque.” was all I could think of. I think a shower may be on the way for I saw dark clouds coming over the sea.” “I only passed a dozen children and their teacher.” “I guess this is your home. you have been here three centuries and you have never been outside?” “Yes. “Takes a lot of effort this appearing. “I don’t get many visitors and few to play with. come to think of it. its being laid here. and the children were great fun. I suspect I’m the only one here. ” “It’s not MY church at all. That’s when she got the trembles and ushered them all out.” he straitened his cuffs. “So you are a ghost after all. he really had materialised well. Of course by that time some of were really interested and didn’t want to go. what a disappointment. but the woman called them liars when they told her I was about. followed by a chest and head. There were parts of it quite wrong so I tried to push it out of her hands. ” “You are able to travel out of doors?” “Can’t. I‘ve counted every stone.I thought it might be a loud speaker but the eerie voice seemed so close to my ear. which she read from. She then marched them down this aisle forcing them to read each and every plaque. Well I‘m laid over there and can roam around within these walls. She had a book in her hand. I thought you were them coming back. I had a distinct impression his eyes were blue. “May I ask whom you are?” “You should know you passed me a while ago. in a way I’m trespassing. I‘ve had weddings and the other. it was the woman who ruined it. and some of them only managed to outpace the snores.

” “What business. ” “It’s the other way around. I’m sure its all in your mind. Can’t stand those brass rubbers though.” I thought deeply as to why this person was imprisoned here while others were not. they were the family I was to visit. you and Mary Ann?” He nodded then tapped me on the shoulder. Come let us go. I heard them say I should never leave when I was laid here. for if anything is going to get me through that door it’s a visit to Cheviot Hall.” “You’re reading my mind. that’s what you think. They mortgaged their property and he is calling in the loan. then I felt him relax in his manner as we both walked to freedom . Ultimately they disposed of me. They go all quite and holy but their little brains are chattering away for the most part. I married one Mary Ann Cheviot. I have business to settle with the m.” My ears pricked up. Can you see up there in that dark corner? There I watched. “And tell me who is it that has vanquished these Dukes of theft? ” “A Mr.” I said quietly.” As I passed down the aisle I stooped quickly to double check whose tomb it was. I will follow the congregation to the door but am unable to pass through. there is absolutely no reason why you cannot leave here. ” “Yes I am a lawyer. I was a merchant. “You never married Giles.” “An unusual name.” I ventured to get up and walk back up to where his tomb lay I glanced and saw his Christian name.” “So you obeyed their instruction.” He nodded and smiling led me back to our pew. At the time I was looking down at them all from up there. you’d be surprised what I learn from people coming in. “Go on.” “Oh yes. I with no family. the tomb they built here was to imprison me. Oh how they loved my money. “I’ve often wondered that. they were Dukes. I’m representing a man to whom they owe a great deal. I am keen to go but something stops me. Throgton. “I read in your mind you were to see them. Come in here as if they own the place. But lets get back to your case. mostly things about poor old Lance over there.” “Because I have a single tomb. Mary Ann was the lure. was a Knight you know.“Never seen the rain sweeping across the hills. he has a good piece of brass. but you are wrong. and what be he?” “Well I suppose in your day he would have been a successful merchant. they will suck you dry.” “Then I will come with you to the House if I may.” “Heard it. “She should be buried with me but her family objected. they are like wolves. Oh yes. Rub a Dub and prattle on. and when they had me they drew all my lands and mines into their grasping hands. that is why you are here.” “Did you have any children. Before me.

Sleep well! . for he was now quite invisible as he hung on to my arm. he with a broad smile upon his face. “So a grandson followed in his ancestors footsteps? ” “True. He linked arms with me and we travelled as two companions.through the door. and he now owns all this!” I waved to the landscape and pointed to the turrets of the Cheviot House in the distance. At least I suspected it. THE END.

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