Before I post this story below I would just like to note that the pug in the story is inspired by one I was fortunate to meet in Green Park earlier today. So, if by some extremely weird and unlikely coincidence you are reading this, owners of Olive the Pug, thanks for letting me say hi to your gorgeous dog.
Also, the real Olive was quite young, and as far as I’m aware has no odour issues.
Anyway, this week’s suggestion was from London NaNoer, Ben Lovejoy, and is thus: ‘A mistake. A failed attempt to correct. And a truly wonderful result.‘
2014 – A Year In Stories
Welcome to the Family
Sally rang the buzzer on the wall outside of the office of the animal rescue centre. The day had finally arrived, and she was here to pick up her new dog, Benji.
Benji was a Dalmatian who had been found in an alleyway behind the local Tesco. The centre estimated that he was only about a year old, and that he had likely been abandoned as a puppy when the owners couldn’t sell him for one reason or another.
Sally and the whole family had met him twice now, and her two little girls, whose idea it was to even get a dog in the first place, were head over heals for him.
It was sweet, in a way. Neither her or her partner, Rowena, particularly cared for dogs, but the girls had been so insistent that in the end they had both caved. They had made it very clear, using their very stern parent voices, that the dogs would be the girls responsibility, and walls and feeding would be up to them. Sally wondered how long it would last. Rowena had bet a steak dinner that it would be a fortnight.
Still, the two’s hearts of ice had melted somewhat when they first laid eyes upon Benji, and they had both grown secretly quite fond of the pooch on their second visit.
It felt like an age, but eventually Mrs Wilson, one of the volunteers who worked at the centre, buzzed her in. Mrs Wilson was a kind hearted old lady who had devoted her life to the care of animals since her husband had passed on. She was sweet, and obviously very dedicated to her role, but Sally wished she wouldn’t go on about her dogs so much.
Sally trudged up the two flights of stairs to the office. Rowena was at work and the girls were at school, so it had been left up to her to complete all the necessary paperwork – on her day off no less.
She wanted to be mad at the dog for taking up her time already, but then she pictured Benji’s face, cocked inquisitively, an expectant look in his eyes and his tail wagging fiercely, and she simply couldn’t. The damn dog had bewitched her already.
Mrs Wilson brought her a cup of tea and some biscuits as she sat down to iron the last details out.
Ten minutes later everything was considered shipshape, and Sally was led through the warrenlike building down to the ground floor where the kennels were located.
Simon, another one of the volunteers, led her through the kennels until they reached Benji’s cage. Benji was waiting with his head cocked as usual. Sally was beginning to think it might be his signature look.
“We’ll be sad to see Benji go,” Simon said to her. “He’s got a grin that lights up any room he’s in.”
Benji barked, and simon ruffled the fur on his head.
“Of course, we’re always happy to see any of our charges move on to a loving home. Come on, boy. One last kiss for uncle Simon?”
On cue Benji leaped up as Simon bent down and licked his face.
“It’s always hard to say goodbye,” Simon said.
“I understand,” Sally replied. “I hope that he’ll be as nice with us as he is with you.”
“I have no doubt.”
Simon helped her out to the car with Benji and all the accoutrements she had needed to purchase from the centre’s shop. Just as they were loading all of the items in to the boot a cacophony of barking erupted from the kennels.
“I’ll be right back,” said Simon, “I just have to go deal with that.” He ran off in the direction of the kennels.
At that moment Sally’s phone rang. She stepped away from the car to answer it. There was no sound for ten seconds and then an automated message began to play.
“Have you taken out a loan or credit car…”
That was as far as it got before Sally angrily hit the end call button.
Simon re-emerged from the kennels and between them they put the last of the things in to the boot. Sally drove off with Benji tied to the front passenger sets, fully alert as ever. Simon and Mrs Wilson waved them off.
Twenty minutes later Sally heard the crunch of gravel as she pulled in to the driveway. She parked her car, making sure to leave enough room for Rowena, and started to unload all of the dog’s possessions from the back seat and boot.
As she came to a pile of old blankets that her sister had donated for the doggy bed, she hesitated. She could have sworn that the pile moved as she approached it. She moved her hand closer again, and a loud sneezing noise greeted her from the pile.
Sally was no expert but she was pretty certain that blankets weren’t predisposed to sneezing, so she approached carefully and lifted up a fold to be greeted by a pair of sad brown eyes. The eyes sneezed for a second time.
Sally threw off the top layer of blankets and in doing so revealed the rest of the creature that was hiding underneath. It was a black pug; an old looking thing that was panting as if it was sitting on the surface of the sun. It snorted indignantly at her and then let off a fart that, though silent, delivered the most almighty stench it was ever Sally’s misfortune to smell.
“What the hell are you doing in there?” she asked the creature whilst holding her nose. It merely sneezed again in response. “Let me have a look.”
With her free hand she found its collar. “Olive,” she read from the tag. “Olive the pug.”
Following the collar around she found a lead, or rather the remains of one, still attached. It looked as though the lead that Olive had been on had snapped. The old girl must have sneaked in to the back of the car whilst Sally had been answering the phone.
There was only one thing for it, she would have to go back. She finished unloading the remaining goods in to the house and shut Benji in the back garden in order to give him a chance to get used to his new surroundings. As she went to leave Benji trotted over to the gate and gave Olive a big lick on the face. He started to whine as Sally tied the pug to the front seat.
“It’s ok, Benji,” Sally cooed. “I’ve just got to take this little lady back home.”
This did not have the desired effect and Benji’s whine became a howl as Sally drove off. What would the neighbours think?
Back at the centre she hopped out, and with Olive in two made her way up to the office to explain the situation.
“Oh I’m so glad she’s ok,” Mrs Wilson said as they sat over the desk, with Olive snorting away to herself in the corner. “We were worried that she might have run out on to the main road or something. She doesn’t look like much, the old girl, but when she gets loose she goes tearing off before you have a chance to stop her.”
“I think she probably jumped up in to the blankets because they were warm,” Sally said. “Anyway, now that she’s back safe and sound I’ll be off.”
“It’s a shame really,” Mrs Wilson said as Sally was putting her coat on.
“A shame? Why?”
“I suppose it wouldn’t really have made much difference if she had made it out on to the road. She doesn’t have much time left anyway.”
“What do you mean?” Sally asked, her arm frozen halfway inside the sleeve of her jacket.
“Well the poor old girl has been with us for 3 months now. Couldn’t find a home for her. She’s old, well over ten years old. Came in after her elderly owner couldn’t take care of her anymore. Got lots of problems too. Allergic to basically everything and has a rather nasty gastrointestinal problem.”
“Yes,” Sally said. “I’ve encountered the latter already.”
“After three months, if we can’t find a place for them, we have to put them down to free up the space. It’s the kindest thing, especially for the older ones like her. It’s no life, living in a cage, you know?”
Sally looked at Mrs Wilson, who was shaking her head sadly, then at Olive, who had falling asleep flat on her back and was snoring gently, then back at Mrs Wilson.
Half an hour later Sally was back in the car, having finished loading up the second set of doggy supplies she had purchased that day. As she prepared to drive off from the rescue centre she turned and looked at the dog sat on the front passenger seat.
“Now if any of your brothers and sisters are hiding out in the boot of the car I want you to tell me right now,” she said. I can’t afford a third trip back here today. The first two have been costly enough.”
The dog looked back at her and snorted loudly by way of reply.
“If I find out you’re lying to me…” Sally said as she pulled out on to the street, then immediately rolled down the window as Olive let off another one.
Sally stood at the door of the house as Rowena and the girls came up the path.
“Can we see Benji?!” Freya, the elder of the two girls asked excitedly.
“Come on mummy, can we?” Bethany, the younger, asked.
“Of course you can,” Sally smiled as Rowena gave her a peck on the cheek. “But first of all I’ve got a bit of a surprise for you…”
“Oh, what surprise would that be?” Rowena asked, folding her arms and raising an eyebrow.
Sally reached behind the open front door, and picked up a snorting, sneezing and farting Olive.
“Surprise!” she said, as the girl’s mouths dropped.
Benji came over and gave Olive a friendly lick.
“Now before you say anything,” Sally said to Rowena, “let me explain…”
Hello all, another new story is below. I quite enjoyed writing this one. I think this is the style of story I enjoy writing the most. Slightly absurd situations that can easily have humour derived from them.
Anyway, not much more to say this week so without further sod, as suggested by Jonathan S. Cromie: ‘A priest dies, but instead of meeting God in heaven, they are confronted by a pagan deity of some variety. Awkwardness ensues.’
2014 – A Year In Stories
Along Came Polytheism
“Father Mulcaney, come quick!” the sister called down the corridor of the cottage. “Father James is near to death and calls for you.”
The priest ran as fast as it was possible to do so whilst simultaneously keeping his robes from getting beneath his feet. Skidding to a halt as he reached the door, he bade the sister stand aside with a gesture.
“Father James,” he said in a soothing voice as he entered the room. “What nonsense is this that Sister Mary tells me that you’re at death’s door. By The Lord, you’ll outlive us all.”
“I fear that on this occasion His wisdom has failed you,” Father James replied from his sickbed.
His skin was pale, and his cheeks, drawn more tightly than normal, gleamed slightly with a hint of dried sweat. The pallor of the features betrayed a man who was very ill indeed, and Father Mulcaney was inclined to believe his old friend and colleague this time.
“Tell me, Father, what can I do to help ease your passing?”
“You can pour me a glass of the 18 year old single malt you keep in your desk,” Father James replied, with a laugh. It was a hoarse, tired, bark of a laugh that quickly descended in to a fit of dry coughing.
Father Mulcaney grinned wryly. “You always were a sly one,” he said.
His friend’s face took on a more serious demeanour. “You must read me my last rights, for I have not much longer to live.”
“Very well, my friend. For you, it is the least I could do.”
Half an hour later Father Mulcaney moved his hand down over the eyes of Father James, closing them for the last time.
He embraced Sister Mary, who had broken down in tears.
“Weep not for him, sister,” he said, “for Father James is now in a better place than us all.”
Father James awoke. He sat up from his resting place with notable ease. He had not felt this good in a long time. As his eyes cleared of sleep and focused on his surroundings, he realised that he was somewhere he had never been before. Yet somehowe, it seemd utterly familiar to him.
He was surrounded by white, as far as the eye could see in all directions. It was as if he was riding on the back of a giant sheep, with only the blue sky above him, not a cloud in sight…
“Oh,” he said, as the realisation dawned on him. “I finally croaked, didn’t I?” he posited, to no one in particular.
His suspicion was confirmed as he looked at his clothes to find that he was clad in a robe of pure white, a choice he would never make outside of his duties as a Catholic priest.
Father James brought himself to his feet and shielded his eyes from the sun. “It must be around here somewhere,” he muttered as he cast about.
After a moment he found what he was looking for, as the sun glinted off a construct some distance away. Father James picked up the trailing white robes and wandered off towards it.
About five minutes later he came up to the construct, a large set of gates that glimmered with all the different colours of the rainbow. Cherubim hovered above the gate poles, playing beautiful music on golden lyres, and the sun’s reflection on the pearl facade intensified as the gates opened on his approach.
Father James clasped his hands together and smiled, waiting for his first meeting with the gatekeeper. A robed figure approached through the glare.
“St. Peter!” Father James declared.
“What? No.” the figure replied. Throwing back the hood of the robes it revealed a green face that boasted nine eyes, two noses and several other features of note besides. “Wait. Did you say Szimttpetarr?”
“No…” Father James said, a look halfway between bemusement and horror on his face. “I…I said St. Peter.”
“Oh, easy mistake to make,” the…thing said. It consulted a sheet of paper that appeared to be nailed to the other side of one of the gate posts. “No, St. Peter doesn’t work Tuesdays.”
“What do you mean, he ‘doesn’t work Tuesdays’? He’s the guardian of the pearly gates, the warden at the entrance to heaven. How can he take time off?”
“Well I hear he likes fishing,” the beast said, from one of its many mouths. “Can’t go fishing if he’s at work, can he? He’ll be back in tomorrow if you really want to talk to him, though Lazarus says he can’t half go on a bit about the benefits of live bait.”
Father James stood in stunned silence for a moment.
“Are you quite sure he’s not here?” he managed, eventually.
The beast checked the sheet of paper again.
“Yep, says right here on the rota.”
“Then who are you?”
“I told you, I’m Szimttpetarr. I fill in when St. Pete has, shall we say, scarpered.”
“I am afraid I just don’t understand.”
“I’m a god. Well, an ex-god. Mayan. Everyone who works here is. Thor reads people their judgements. They stuck me here because my name is similar to Pete’s and a lot of people think I’ve just got a cough or something.
“They’re one step away from a ‘You don’t have to be omnipotent to work here…’ sign, I swear. Even Zeus pulls shifts on one of the other gates. He’s got the beard you see, people pass him for Peter…”
“Wait, there are other gates?”
“Well yes. Approximately 154,889 people die every day. We would have a line a mile long and then the rest if they all had to come through one,” Szimttpetarr said, rather pointedly adding “Particularly if people dilly dally about the whole thing and start asking questions.”
“154,000?” Father James asked in disbelief. “That many Christians die every day?”
“Christians?” Szimttpetarr replied. “No mate, we get all sorts up here. Christians, Muslims, Hindus, pagans, Buddhists. We’ll take anyone in. Like I said, I’m Mayan. One if the minor ones. But I’ve had nothing to do since some of your late came over and did for them so I’ve been doing odd part time work on the gates to keep me sane.”
“But I’m a Christian. No, I’m a catholic priest. I was taught that ours was the only true god.”
“You and the Muslims, and the Hindus, and the Greeks and the Romans and the Vikings and the Aztecs and the Mayans before you. Belief is a powerful thing my friend. Belief breeds existence, and once we all exist we all had to go somewhere.”
“So there’s more than one heaven?”
“Sort of. Or at least, there used to be. The older guard; my lot, the Norse, the Greeks etc, they used to like to keep it separate, to prevent fraternisation and whatnot, but when our flows dried up they petitioned your god, Allah and a couple of the other new breed to bring it all together in one, to keep things efficient.”
“So, what? Can I go and see my Lord?”
“If you want,” Szimttpetarr said, and began chewing on an apple he had produced from his robe. “He’s got a big office over in the western annexe, but he’s generally booked up for a few months at a time. Popular guy, you know?”
“Oh, I see. What about Jesus?”
“Oh he’s on holiday down on earth at the moment. He heads down for a couple of weeks every hundred or so years to spook up some locals. It gives him kicks.”
“You talk about our Lord and Saciour as if he was some kind of frat boy!” Father James protested.
“Well he basically is. Look, is this going to take much longer?” Szimttpetarr asked. “I know this must come as a surprised but I’m supposed to be on my lunch and thanks to this game of 20 questions I’m already several people behind quota for the day. I don’t mean to be rude but do you think we could wrap this up?”
“Oh yes, of course,” Father James replied, looking dejected. “I’m sorry to have wasted your time.”
Szimttpetarr felt a pang of guilt. “I’m sorry,” he said. “Look, it’s pretty good in there. It’s still the heaven you expected, it’s just a bit more crowded than you were counting on. And hey, as a catholic priest you’ll have a lovely suite in one of the towers. They save the best ones for the priests. All your old mates will be in there. You’ll have a blast.”
“I suppose I’m just still getting used to the whole ‘more than one religion is right’ thing.”
“Yeah, I can imagine that would take some getting used to.” Szimttpetarr threw away the finished apple core and began rummaging around behind the gates. “Here, take these,” he said, emerging with a bunch of leaflets in his hand. “They should help make the transition easier.”
“Oh, thanks…” Father James said, taking the literature. He began to walk through the gates and off in to the kingdom of heaven.
“Oh, Father?” Szimttpetarr called after him.
“Yes?” the priest replied, turning back.
“If you come back around the same time tomorrow, I’ll have a word with St. Peter, see if I can get him to give you a do-over. You know, so you have the authentic experience?”
Father James smiled. “Thank you Szimttpetarr, that is very kind of you. You are alright for a heathen devil pagan.”
The Mayan god watched as the priest trudged off before shutting the gates behind him. He pulled out a sign that said “CLOSED FOR LUNCH” and then retrieved a copy of a book from a bag hidden in the fluffiness of the clouds.
“Right,” he said, sitting in an armchair that seemed to have appeared out of nowhere. “Fifty Shades of Grey. Where was I?”
Business as usual this week (aka me leaving it to the last minute) after last week’s landmark. The World Cup final is to blame for this one. But I’m still getting this in before midnight and that’s what counts.
This week’s story has actually coincided rather nicely with the birthday of the person who suggested it. Andrew Murray, who will be 29 next Sunday (OK, it could have coincided a little better) suggested I write a story about ‘the fence on the edge of reality’.
2014 – A Year In Stories
On the Planet Earth, one of many planets inhabited by intelligent life during the history of the universe, a debate raged for many centuries between a scientists about whether the universe was a finite or infinite construct.
In a way, they were both right.
The universe, at least the universe as it was inhabited by the people of Earth did indeed have an end. Rarely did any living creature, from Earth or otherwise, make it to the edge of the universe, but those that did found something they didn’t expect. That they were fenced in.
The rare few who stumbled across the fence all came to the same conclusion: that some ancient, long forgotten civilisation had built it in order to keep whatever lay on the other side out. This was an incorrect assumption. Something wanted to keep them in.
The being of pure energy waited, and observed. It had done this for a thousand centuries, and it anticipated doing it again for a thousand more. The waiting was the reason for its existence.
It observed the fence, but from the outside. It was one of many that observed large sections of the fence, to scout for approaching threats. Threats were determined to be any objects composed of matter that came in to the vicinity of the fence.
Its species existed in the space outside of the universe. In human terms it was the difference between reality and unreality, a difference between dimensions. Different laws of physics applied here, and no living creature from within the universe would be able to survive for very long outside of it.
The opposite was also true for the beings of purple energy. Any matter coming through the fence that bordered the edge of reality was deadly to them.
The fence could only take so much impact, and that was why they stationed sentries along its edge. Any potential intrusion was a major threat that had to be stopped before it broke through and caused major damage.
Thetis, as the being was known, glowed as it became alert. There had been no incidents on this section of the fence for a very long time indeed; longer than was conceivable to any mortal being, but Thetis’ entire existence was dedicated to dealing with moments like this, and that allowed for an instantaneous reaction. Immediately it was checking the fence for signs of weakness and evaluating data on the incoming object.
The object appeared to be primarily metallic, and Thetis calculated that it had been drifting through interstellar space for millions of years, longer even than Thetis had been in existence or would exist for. It wondered where the object had come from.
The object drifted ever closer to the fence. Light from a star that was, by the scale of the universe, relatively nearby glinted and illuminated four letters written on the side. NASA.
Thetis observed the object. It’s probing determined that there was data accessible within the storage drives of the object. It allowed as much of its energy as it dared to penetrate the fence and interfaced with the ancient databanks.
The probe’s storage units whirred in to life, and Thetis was presented with thousands of years of data collected during the probe’s working life. It was exposed to information of planets, galaxies, stars and much more that it had never previously been able to comprehend.
Calculating the length of time before impact, Thetis decided that it had plenty of time to continue to scan through the information. Some time later, when it had finished, it disconnected from the probe and gave thought to what it had experienced.
Voyager 1, it thought as it processed the information.
It had experienced things it could never had imagined and felt itself a changed being for the experience. None of its species had been in to the universe for hundreds of millennia. It was the first of its kind to receive such information for all that time.
And it had to destroy the source. Its species was one of logic and reason, and not given to outbursts of emotion, but it felt uneasy at the thought of having to remove this object from existence, purely because it constituted a threat.
For the first time in its existence Thetis hesitated. It would be a simple thing for it to divert power from surrounding sections of the fence to shore up the area that would be struck. But it didn’t want to. It wanted all of its species to be able to experience the forbidden wonders that this ancient probe had stored inside it.
The time was approaching when Thetis would have to make a decision. If it was left too much longer then it would be too late, and the probe would cause untold damage to the dimension Thetis inhabited, to its people. But it did not seem right.
With its full power being back inside its own realm, Thetis used the collective consciousness it shared with the rest of its species to consult them on the best course of action.
It explained the situation as beet it could, that it was a unique situation and the species as a whole would never have a better opportunity to learn more about the universe that was so deadly to them.
Immediately Thetis received a cacophony of responses that ranged from urging immediate destruction of the object to statements of support for its proposal to keep the object for its informational value.
But it was one suggestion that struck Thetis as the most sensible, and the most practical. Fence guardians had the ability to remove and repair sections of the fence that were damaged or had become worn throughout the aeons. Replacement sections were stored nearby to every outpost, and there were plenty spare near to where Thetis was stationed.
If it could build a much smaller version of the fence, large enough to contain the probe, then it would be possible to keep it within the realm outside of the universe, whilst simultaneously neutralising the threat it posed by keeping it, technically, within its own.
Thetis immediately began the necessary calculations. It already knew what the zone of impact would be, so, using its consciousness it moved sections of replacement fence in to position to create a bubble on its side of the divide. It then carefully removed the section of the actual fence that would be impacted, creating a catch pocket. When the time came it would quickly seal the ball with another section and replace the original in order to prevent any excess matter from escaping through the gap.
It waited. It was good at that. It waited for the precise moment the probe entered the pocket, making sure to seal it up and detach it from the main structure as quickly as possible. If the probe touched the inside of its new enclosure it would be destroyed, or at the very least damaged beyond recovery, and so the ball had to be kept moving at a speed constant to its contents if both were to remain intact.
Once this was achieved Thetis immediately set to replacing the now vacant section of fence. The job complete, it reflected warmly on the experience. It had preserved some information that would have an extremely positive impact on the future of its race, it was sure.
Now that the object was secure within its container Thetis devised a way to slow it down. It reduced the energy on one side of the fence structure to be as low as possible without posing a danger of it breaking and slowed the structure down. This allowed the probe to come to a gentle halt against the inner wall, the impact glowing along the outside of the container.
It would not be long, Thetis knew, until the great leaders, thinkers and scientists of its species would come to this corner of the realm outside of the universe to investigate the probe themselves. It only had a limited time to himself to experience the full wonders found within before it would be taken somewhere were more research could be conducted.
Thetis moved closer to the probe.
Voyager 1, it thought again.
Gently Thetis probed the most minute element of its being through the protective barrier and interfaced with the storage systems of the object.
It probed deeper than it had previously and encountered a curious object, a disc made from what seemed to be a different metal. It spun the disc and was amazed by images of a planet it had never before seen, and the creatures that inhabited. It continued searching through the disc and was presented with music of many different varieties, the likes of which it had never even imagined.
Thetis felt so privileged to be the first creature, possibly ever, to hear and see these things since they had been placed on the probe.
It came across a recording on the disc of a voice.
“My name is Jimmy Carter, and I am President of the United States of America on the planet Earth. If you are listening to this recording then you are an intelligent being, and to you I say hello.”
Hello, Jimmy Carter, it thought. I am Thetis.
Well here we are. I am now officially halfway through this self imposed challenge and much to my own surprise I have actually made it this far without dropping a week.
When I decided to start doing this at the end of last year I honestly didn’t know if I was going to get this far, or whether I would even make it out of the first month.
Anyway, here I am, 26 weeks, 27 stories and 2 competitions later, and I’m still going. Will I make it to the end? Who knows. Come back in another 26 weeks and see!
This week’s story is one reluctantly submitted by my girlfriend, Eileen (who has been incredibly supportive throughout this whole endeavour) and is based on an experience she actually had a while back: ‘Woman overhears gang activity on a train, becomes vigilante.’
So if there are any criminals reading this who think they might have a witness to deal with, get in contact. If you cut me in I can point you in the right direction.
2014 – A Year In Stories
June breathed a sigh of relief when the train pulled up to the platform 25 minutes late. She had already been travelling for four hours, and frankly just wanted to be home.
As the doors opened June lifted her heavy suitcase up on to the the train and found her way to a seat in the nearly empty carriage. She was exhausted thanks to her long journey, and it wasn’t long before she had dozed off to the rhythmic sound of the train’s wheels running over the track.
June woke some time later as the door at the other end of the carriage slammed shut. She blinked herself fully awake and looked outside. The scenery that went by was dark. She figured she must’ve been asleep for a while. She had definitely missed her stop.
Just as she was about to get up to try and work out how far she had gone by her station, a voice came from the other end of the carriage.
“Are we alone?”
It was a man’s voice. June glanced around her and noticed that she was so far pressed in to the corner of her seat that she would not be visible over the top.
“Yeah, looks like it,” a second voice, female, replied.
“Do you have the stuff?” the man asked.
“What are you, stupid?” the woman replied, incredulity in her voice. “I’m not going to carry that much coke around with me on a bloody passenger train.”
“Alright then,” the man said, sounding frustrated. “Where is it?”
“I’ve hidden it.”
“Hidden it?!” the man practically shouted. He made an effort to modulate his voice as he carried on speaking. “That wasn’t part of the deal. You were supposed to bring it with you. I wasn’t expecting to have to go on a treasure hunt.”
“Oh get over it, you’ll get the stuff. It was much safer this way.”
“But what if somebody finds it?”
“No one is going to find it.”
“Alright then,” the man sighed, “where is it?”
“Just follow me after we get off, I’ll show you.”
June didn’t know how to react. She was sat there, in a train carriage, listening to a real life drug deal happening before her very ears. She was clearly alone in the carriage, not count in the two criminals.
A million scenarios flashed through her mind. Should she raise the alarm? What good would it do? If she did anything now she could alert one of the criminals to her presence, and she didn’t know where they were going in order to report it afterwards. She couldn’t just do nothing.
June decided that she needed to at least get a look at the pair, and shifted slightly in her seat in order to peak over the top. As she turned around, however, she accidentally knocked a water bottle off the table in front of her, and it clattered to the ground.
“What was that?!” the man asked. “I thought you said we were alone!”
“I thought we were!” the woman replied.
June ducked back down in to her seat. This was it, she had been found out. She would be front page centre in tomorrow’s newspaper. If they ever found the body.
“Look,” the woman said. “There’s a suitcase in that rack. Someone must be down there.”
“Good job sweeping the carriage,” the man said sarcastically.
“Oh shove it,” came the reply. “Let’s just find them and deal with it.”
June could hear them working their way up the carriage. She began to eye the carriage door and thought of making a break for it, but if it went wrong and they caught her she was screwed.
She became aware that the train was slowing down. The familiar crackle of the train’s tannoy system becoming active could be heard, followed by the voice of the train manager.
“We will shortly be arriving at Schofield. Will anyone alighting here please remember to take all their belongings with them?”
“Shit,” the woman said. “This is us.”
“But what about…?” the man said, uncertainly.
“Oh leave it, it was probably nothing anyway.”
June heard the pair turn around and walk back to the door at the other end of the carriage, and leave. She waited a few seconds before making a decision and getting up just as the train came to a halt. Grabbing her case she went through the door and, confident that she wouldn’t be recognised, alighted on to the platform.
She looked around furtively, until she spotted a man and a woman standing some way off on the platform looking suspicious. June decided that they were definitely the pair and that there was only one course of action. She would have to follow them. It was her civic duty.
She quickly ducked in to the station, found the left luggage facility and dropped her suitcase off. After all, the trundling wheels would be a dead giveaway in a tail.
Her luggage deposited, June returned to the platform and saw the pair walking out the back entrance to the station in to the car park and, pulling her overcoat around her shoulders, she followed them.
The two were obviously nervous, and were regularly casting glances around to make sure they weren’t being followed. June regularly had to duck in to nooks and crannies to avoid being seen, and eventually found that she was following the criminals along winding country lanes.
As the roads became more remote June felt herself getting really involved in her private detective role. She became more and more inventive with her hiding spots, especially as she was aided by the ever growing dark.
After about twenty minutes walking down the country roads the couple stopped. As stealthily as she could possibly manage June edged closer, until she ws near enough to the activity to hear what was going on.
“…down there on the left, in the tree stump behind the blasted oak, covered with some sticks and bits of bark.”
“Yeah, fair enough,” the man said. “No one is gonna find it down there. Can we go and get it now?”
“Not yet,” the woman replied. “Johnny says he wants to see the money first.”
“Isn’t your word good enough?”
“You already told me where the coke is, why shouldn’t I just get rid of you now and take both the drugs and the money?”
“Ha!” the woman scoffed. “Firstly, I might be lying. You could be down there for hours looking for it and never find it. Secondly, you don’t have the stones. You’re small fry. I’m willing to bet you wouldn’t have the stomach to even hurt someone, let alone murder them and dump the body in a lane. Finally, you’re scared of Johnny. All of Marcel’s lot are. You’d be strung up within days.”
The man laughed. “Fair enough,” he said.
The woman walked over to a lay by a few metres down the road and opened a car door.
“Come on,” she said. “I’ll take you to see Johnny.”
The man walked over to the car and got in. June pressed herself as far in to the hedge at the side of the lane as she possibly could before she was lit up by the headlights of the car, and waited there until the pair had driven away.
As the lights disappeared off round a bend June ran down towards where the criminals had been. Activating the torch on her phone she went off down the short track they had been looking down. Before long she spotted the blasted oak that the woman had mentioned.
She began scrabbling around in the oak and found the pile of sticks and bark that was referred to. Pulling the detritus away, June quickly came across a plastic bag. The woman had been telling the truth. Unwrapping the plastic bag she found what looked like a large amount of cocaine inside.
She felt a swell of pride in her chest as she dialled 999 on her phone.
Two hours later, her statement given to the police after the criminals had been arrested upon their return, June sat in the station and waited for her train back.
She reflected on her day. If the train hadn’t been delayed or she hadn’t fallen asleep and missed her stop she would’ve gone home and had a nice cup of tea before going to bed. But here she was. June Morgan, vigilante at large. She almost didn’t want to have to go home, back to the drudgery of normal life.
She took solace in the fact that her earlier prediction of making the front page of the paper had been correct, although in this case she would be granted the boon of anonymity.
Oh well, she thought, sighing. A couple of hours and she would be home, back to business as usual.
She heard a person walk on to the platform behind her. She glanced around to see a young man in a smart suit holding a mobile phone to his ear.
“Yeah, I’ll do it,” the man hissed angrily in to the phone. “No I’m not going to chicken out like last time. He’s got to be dealt with.”
June smiled as a train pulled up to the platform. She looked at the platform sign and noticed it was not her train. She also noticed that the man in the sharp suit got on the train and smiled to herself.
The real world can wait for a little while longer, June Morgan, Private Investigator decided.