Jan 21st

This is for all those who wonder what they teach kids in school these days :P

By The Clockwise Man II
I dont know if anyone knows what Sochcahtoa is but basically its something to do with trigonomitry. Well no one could remember it so Mrs Siddle (my quite old maths teacher) told us to remember it like this:

Sex
On
Horseback

Can
Acctually
Happen

To
Our
Amazment 

 
Jan 21st

On... writing...?

By EzBloke
Curiously... devoid of smut, this one. Dissapointed? I know, so am I. I'll still swear though; can't be doing with all that clean language at my age. Fuck it. Today I shall astound you with the wonderful world of EzWriting… Some of you have read the first draft of Paradise Falls, my Hopeless Opus. For those of you that have been saved this misfortune I can say it is without doubt the worst tosh I have ever had the misfortune to have set eyes on – and I’ve read all the Dan Brown novels, so there’s a yardstick to beat me mercilessly over the head with. Now, I don’t necessarily revel in the rubbish I have written, but I am a gloatingly smug kind of person, especially when you realise that it is finished. It’s complete crap, but it is finished. I have the words “The End”, appropriately enough, at the end, and prior to that there are some one hundred thousands words; some are real, some are imaginary and most are found in what can be considered “sentences” by any six year old. This is important for many reasons; one, I never finish anythi (See what I did there? Chuckle.) Ahhh, anyway… So I have a “complete” collection of words. Do you notice the care I am taking with collective nouns? I shall endeavour to refrain from calling it a “novel” because that has a tendency to romanticise the scrap paper it is currently printed on. And, some of you are aware that I have been systematically reading, editing and refining those words for at least a year now. My current exercise is, because PF is written entirely in the first person perspective, to write every single scene from the perspective of every single character in it and then to merge those together. To achieve this I have employed the use of a little (free) program called YWriter5. This expects you to either, in your original Word document, delineate scenes by special characters (which I have not) or to cut and paste every single “scene” (which I am doing). The truth is, reading tripe created by mine own hand is bad enough, but having then to analyse it too, is a nightmare. But it is absolutely amazing what you learn from it. I have learned, for instance that I have the attention span of a gnat. I’m in a deeply moving, serious and important scene and then bam! I’m off flying over rubblised fortresses and poking chicken spits in people’s arse’s. I have whole scenes that consist of two fat blokes running after another bloke, lasts for three (granted tortuously long) sentences and then terminates. And I don’t do this once, oh no, the whole bloody manuscript is full of the sodding stuff. I have more scenes than the whole Lord of The Rings Trilogy put together. Throw in the soon to be released “The Hobbit” and hey presto! I’ll still have more bloody scenes. So the culling begins… and this is where it gets interesting; if my whole writing premise is to make you buggers laugh, then where’s the snigger when an old fella dies of fright? With a metaphorical wave of the inky wand, ‘tis gone and with it, about seven hundred words that set it up, pad it out and warm it’s jets. Nice. Character list is now down one old fella and I’m off and running again. YWriter5 (and this is not an advert, I promise) also wants characters, locations, objects and plots listed against scenes too. It is with this toolset (still to be done, sadly) that I shall reduce my mountainous pile of locales, my scrofulous pile of characters and curiously my complex box set of plots. I won’t say interwoven neatly into the novel. It’s more, thrown in with gay abandon and left to fester where they fall. Sigh. So that’s what I’ve been doing these past weeks… what about you? How have you been? Ez
Jan 20th

Calling all Stateside Cloudsters

By Tony
I've got a bit of a break coming up. This day fortnight I'll be unpacking in Vegas, halfway up the Stratosphere. Not sure, though, if I'll risk the world's highest rolercoaster that overhangs the roof of said resort. I'll be taking in a few shows and a multitude of sights before flying on to San Antonio to pay hommage to Davy Crocket, Jim Bowey and all the lads who defended the famous Alamo for 30 days and held back Generalisimo Santa Anna long enough for the Texans to  get their act together and win independence for the lone-star state.

Then it's on by Greyhound all the way across to Houston where I'm booked to do the behind-the-scenes tour of the Space Centre including lunch in the astronauts' restaurant  - Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters for two, please.

Next, I catch the Amtrak and run all the rest of the way through Texas and on into Louisiana, destination New Orleans, for the run up to Mardi Gras. Then it's fly home again. Should be fun.

The point in saying all this is to ask if any of you nice Yankee Cloudsters hale from Las Vegas, San Antonio, Houston or New Orleans and would like to meet up and say Hi.

Maybe see you soon.
Jan 20th

Pilots - the rest of chapter 12 - because you're worth it

By Inzie

 

“We’re being set up,” Frank concluded as the three of us clattered into his apartment.

 

I was still finding it difficult to put any words or thoughts together after seeing Colin’s carved up form. When he and I had co-hosted in George, death hadn’t mattered – if George had been killed it would have been ok, we could just go back and get a new one. He was properly dead though…

 

“What, the fact that he was found in one of our time-machines, with our DNA all over the place…?” Gordon’s eyes fell on me.

 

“I guess it’s my DNA on the casket,” I whispered.

 

“Who else knew about mini-pilots?” Frank barked.

 

“I think we’ve established that it’s my fault,” I held up my hands in resignation.

 

“No-one from me,” Gordon spoke flatly.

 

“Same,” Frank finished the little confessional.

 

“Ralph or Chris then?” Gordon started.

 

“I, I dunno – I’ve seen Chris’s ruthless side…”

 

“Maybe Ralph’s just more quietly efficient?” if I didn’t know any better, I’d say Frank was enjoying this.

 

“I don’t think so…” I stumbled.

 

“What do you know? You can’t even remember who you are!” Frank snapped at me.

 

“Whoa there,” Gordon jumped in, “the last thing we need to do here is fight amongst ourselves. What we need is a plan of action,”

 

“Do you honestly think I’d have lived with Ralph all these years in the knowledge that he was capable of this?” Ralph just didn’t look like a murderer.

 

“Who knows?” Frank growled, “For all we know…”

 

“For all we know Barney and Ralph lived together happily exchanging little bits of information in wonderful symbiosis…?” Gordon stood between us, facing up to Frank.

 

“So it’s Chris then?”

“I suppose…but killing someone in Pilots is different…” I began.

 

How’s it different? She still killed a human being – a person who she’d…” Frank had nudged past Gordon again.

 

“Who she’d shagged? Who she loved?” my voice was raised now.

 

Gordon put his hand on my shoulder, “Doesn’t look good, does it mate?”

 

“No…no it doesn’t…you’re right…how long have we got?” I felt resigned.

 

“To do what? Cover her tracks? Dispose of the body? Hide the caskets? Relocate mini-pilots…”

 

“Look you greasy little shit,” I grabbed Frank by the shirt, “I’m trying to think of ways to get you two out of this…”

 

Once again Gordon dived in, “We’re in this up to the neck…there is no way out…”

 

I looked down at Frank – he looked scared – I pushed him away, “How would it be if I took all the blame – it’ll be my fingerprints they find on the casket…I could say it was just me…”

 

“That’s ridiculous – they know we’re involved…” Frank came back angrily again.

 

“What more do they want?” I spoke slowly, “They’ve got a body and a guy saying he did it…? If they wanted to scare us…if they wanted to fuck up the whole of mini-pilots…they’ve managed it…I’m handing myself in – I am, after all, the guy who’s nuts…”

 

I felt strangely calm as Gordon drove me back to my apartment. I decided I would go in, go to bed and then confess all to Ralph first thing. We’d left Frank back at his apartment since I’d punched him…and when the conversation deteriorates to that level…well…

 

“Is there anything…you know?” Gordon shook my hand in the car park.

 

“I don’t think so…will you guys be able to restart your little revolution again?”

 

“Yeah, we’ll just wait a couple of hundred years for the heat to die down…”

 

“What will they do with me?” bit late to ask really.

 

“Given your er, mental problems, they’ll probably keep you in the long stay part of the clinic…”

 

“Oh that’s not so bad…Dr Pope’ll keep me entertained.

 

“…pending…”

 

“Pending what?” I suddenly found it hard to breathe.

 

“Well that’s it, I guess. I don’t know – I don’t ever remember there being a murder. I don’t know what they’d do if…”

 

“Promise you’ll visit me…you know, while they’re deciding…”

 

Gordon pulled me to him, “Of course, of course…”

 

“And leave the greasy twat at home…” I grinned menacingly.

 

“I don’t think he’ll want to come…that’s a fine right hook you’ve got…” he jabbed the air.

 

“I feel sick about Colin…” I suddenly felt devastated thinking of him. What the fuck had they done to him? He wouldn’t have put up any fight…fucking bastards.

 

“Me too – it must be worse for you though – you were in his head for a while…”

 

“Yes…d’you know I don’t think I’ve ever felt closer to another person?” I hadn’t.

 

“Of course…what about the people who did it? What do we do about them?”

 

“Chris? Fuck, Gordon, I don’t know…I thought…I think I love…I don’t know…”

 

“Are you sure you want to do this?”

 

“Do I really have any choice? Those are my fingerprints…I’m tired, you know Gordon? I’m tired – I want out of this – to be honest I don’t care what happens to me…”

 

“Hey…come on…there are people who love you…” four out of ten for conviction, bless him.

 

“I know…I’m going up now – take care of yourself…and don’t forget to slap Frank everyday…he needs it…”

 

I walked into the semi-darkness of the flat. What the fuck was I doing? Did I really not care? I thought about Chris…fuck, if she had had anything to do with this…How could I have any feelings for her, after all she’d done…No, nothing mattered now. I lay fully clothed on my bed and waited for the first light of dawn.

 

****

 

“You did what?” it was hard to work out if Ralph was angry or just incredulous.

 

“I killed Colin…” I wasn’t sure how to behave in circumstances such as these, so I remained calm and factual. The cold-blooded killer. I guess if I’d been ranting and raving I could be the psychotic killer…?

 

“Why? What was your motive…?” Ralph was crying.

 

“I’m not sure…we started arguing about something and nothing…he said something about shagging my mum and I just flipped…”

 

“Where’d you get the knife?”

 

“I…er it was just lying on the shelf nearby – it was impulsive, you know…it was there…?”

 

“So where did you stab him…?”

 

“In the wrists and on the neck…”

 

“The wrists and neck?”

 

“He was kind of protecting himself with his hands…and I stabbed his wrists…”

 

Ralph closed his eyes, “Ok,” he opened them again, “I’m going to get you admitted to the clinic…I’m going to be so close to this fucking case…”

 

“Ok…”

 

“We’d just been talking about how it all worked. How it all came together. Why would you do this? In all the years I’ve known you…”

 

“Don’t…” I held up my hands, “Please don’t…”

 

****

 

“You tell me this man was your friend?” Dr Pope spoke quietly, her voice calm and steady.

 

“Yes…” she fucking knows.

 

“What would drive you to do such a thing…?”

 

“I’m not sure, maybe I still had residuals from my time as an insect – they kill without feeling – without judgement…” all the time I kept my tone flat.

 

“Tell me about your anger…”

 

“What do you want to know?”

 

“What had you been talking about?”

 

“My mother – he told me how he’d had sex with my mother…”

 

“But you said he was in a relationship with her…?” why is she pissing around, she knows?

 

“Yes…I couldn’t stand the thought of it. I loved her…it was me she loved…” yep, that was sounding proper crazy now.

 

Her composure wavered for just a second, “Er…tell me about…mini-pilots, is that what you called it?”

 

“I stole the technology…”

 

“How? It must have been difficult logistically moving those caskets…?”

 

“It was…Colin had a van…?” fuck.

 

“Really?”

 

“Yes…” I couldn’t actually recall ever seeing a van in this world.

 

“Thank you, that will be all,” she stood up and walked out.

 

I was back in my clinic room – or one that looked damned like it. I wondered how long it would be before I started to crack.

 

****

 

Days blended into more days. I hated the synthetic light. I had no idea how long I’d been in there. At least Gordon and Frank would be able to start up again – at least there was a future where someone was kicking against…

 

“Hi Barney…” Ralph smiled as he walked in – he shook my hand warmly with both of his.

 

He sat down next to me on the sofa, “How have you been?” he grinned in an over friendly manner.

 

“I…er fine…the food’s a bit…”

 

“Do you know what this is?” he grinned, slightly maniacally, as he pulled an object from his bag that looked not unlike the product of a cross between a remote control and a potato peeler.

 

“I, er…I can’t say I do…”

 

“I call it my sonic fucker…”

 

Before I could only imagine what he was going to do with me he started to walk around the room, “Watch…” he smiled, eyebrows arched.

 

There was a high-pitched, almost imperceptible whine as he held his gizmo up to the corner of the room next to bathroom. There was a small explosion as the bits of a previously invisible thing cascaded to the floor.

 

Bugs! Don’t you just hate them?” he laughed as he wandered around the room systematically destroying all the listening devices.

 

“But won’t they…?” I tried to protest in amongst the chaos.

 

“You don’t need to worry about them…” with a flourish he turned the sonic fucker on the back wall.

 

The wall exploded dramatically. It was one-way glass – they’d been observing my every movement – the three men in white coats who were suddenly revealed scurried for the door at the back of their small room.

 

“Fucking voyeurs…” Ralph shouted after them in a most un-Ralphlike way.

 

Slowly he turned and sat down next to me again, “Ok Barney, there are no listening or video devices – there is me and there is you – talk,”

 

“I…er…”I was terrified, “What do you want me to talk about…?”

 

“Tell me again how you killed Colin,” hand on chin, looking terribly interested.

 

“I stabbed him…”

 

“On the wrists and the neck…”

 

“…more slashes really…”

 

“…slashes…hmmm?” he looked thoughtful.

 

“Slashes, yeah…”

 

“…and where did you stab him?”

 

“In, the…er…middle room?”

 

“And what did you do with the knife afterwards?”

 

“I must have thrown it away when I ran…”

 

“Ok Barney,” Ralph smiled warmly at me again, “Let me help you out here…First of all – you didn’t stab him in the middle room…did you?”

“I…Ralph…”

 

“All…and I mean all of the blood that was spilled from Colin was found either on him or in the bottom of the casket. What do you think that means?”

 

“He was stabbed in the casket…?”

 

“But he wasn’t stabbed, was he?”

 

“Well, more slashed…”

 

“…yes, slashed, but not by you…”

 

“What?”

 

“Colin killed himself…if you’d looked closer when you found him in the box you’d have seen the bloody, pun intended, murder weapon in his right hand…”

 

“Ralph, I really must protest,” Dr Pope pushed her way into the room with two men in black uniform in hot pursuit.

 

Ralph ignored her and instead looked at the men chasing her, “Will you get this fucking woman out of here?”

 

They duly dragged her off amid rants that she would complain to the government.

 

Ralph smiled at me, “Barney, it’s me, Ralph…your friend…you didn’t kill Colin – say it,”

 

“I didn’t kill Colin…”

 

“Then why did you say you did?”

 

“I thought Chris had killed him – I’d only told two people about mini-pilots and I thought…well I thought it couldn’t be you…”

 

“What was his mood like when you saw him?”

 

“He was flat…down…sad…”

 

“Why, why do you think that was?” quietly, soothing.

 

“He loved my mum…he’d lived a life with her…he…”

 

“…couldn’t bear a life without her?”

 

“I wonder…”

 

“Barney, Colin killed himself – I think it was kind of symbolic for him that he did it in the casket – you know, that’s what brought him to this point – something like that…”

 

“Really?”

 

“We’re certain he killed himself – ultimately we can only guess at the whys of it all…”

 

“Ralph?”

“Barney?”

 

“Why all the explosions and destruction? What have you done with Dr Pope?”

 

“Our problem was that we were pulled in by Novokov’s principle…”

 

“Who’s we?”

 

“We – the government – thought that Pilots was the answer to everything…”

 

“The answer to what?”

 

“The boredom…the sameness…the homogeneity…you were right all along…this is all too safe…”

 

“What about Pilots then?”

 

“We’ve closed it down…”

 

“Why? I thought so many people got so much out of it…?”

 

“Too much…”

 

“Too much?”

 

“Barney, there’s hundreds of people like you. The thing is, a lot of them have taken their own lives. They’ve seen what life can be like and they can’t reconcile that to here and now,”

 

“And they forget…”

 

“Yes, they forget – they can’t remember their friends – their lives – their world – they just want to go back and keep going back…”

 

“And Dr Pope?”

 

“She was using pseudo science to keep it going – by pathologising the poor sods who’d used Pilots she was actually keeping Pilots in the clear…”

 

“She was saying we were sick – when it was Pilots all along?”

 

“Yeah,”

 

“Nasty cow…I never liked her…”

 

Jan 20th

Revenge of the Haggis

By Ancient Woodland
Burns' night approacheth and so did my 7 year old son, requesting help with a suitable story for his Beavers Burns night storytelling session. This is what we came up with. Written by said 7 year old, of course. *cough*

Revenge of the Haggis

Hamish watched the big red haired human as the man wandered over the hills, checking his traps. When he found a haggis in a trap, he would pick it up and stuff it in his bag with the others. Some of these haggis were Hamish’s brothers and sisters, Hamish was mad. He knew the man would boil up his friends and family and eat them for dinner!

He decided he would do something about it. Now, Hamish was a big haggis, a very, very big haggis. He knew he would make a fine meal for the human and so he made sure that the Hairy Haggis Hunter saw him and then ran as fast as he could (which wasn’t very fast – he was a very big haggis after all).

Hamish led the Hairy Haggis Hunter to the river and then hid in a bush. The Hairy Haggis Hunter got to the river and could see no sign of his prey and so he decided that the huge haggis had swum across. So, before he could remember that he didn’t swim so well, he dived in and drowned.

Hamish undid the knot in the Haggis Hunter’s bag and let his friends and family out. They thanked him and ran off. Hamish found the Hairy Haggis Hunter further down the river and decided he would get his revenge. So he ate him. By the time he was finished he was enormous.

Hairy Haggis Hunters tasted good, really good. In fact, he could eat another.

And so, Hamish, the massive haggis, went into town and ate another Hairy Haggis Hunter. All the other Hunters ran away!

No-one felt like hunting haggis any more. When Burns Night came around the next year, no-one tried to trap Hamish’s family and friends. They had potato scones instead. It was safer.

Jan 20th

Memories

By Cazza

I’ve been doing a lot of clearing out lately and came across a box of photographs from my teens. 

 

OMG!

 

LOL!

 

Not phrases used back in my day, but very apt for the contents of the box I unearthed. 

I found shots of me in the tightest jeans imaginable, so tight I had to lie flat on the bed, thread a coat hanger through the zip and ask my Dad to pull it up while I tried to fasten the top button.  God, how the memories that flooded back when I saw me in the red leather biker’s jacket I loved like a best friend, but had to keep hidden from my parents because it had a hash leaf embroidered over the left breast pocket.

 

And my hair!  I must have had a love affair with the crimping irons, and I never left the house without my navy-blue eyeliner and lip gloss.  Me and my friends had rips in our jeans because they were so old, long before it became a fashion statement.  Oh and the obligatory rock-band  t-shirts: Hendrix, Zeppelin, Motorhead.

 

I sat for hours remembering all the gigs we attended in church halls, back rooms of pubs and community centres.  Everyone knew somebody in a band and we all wrote songs.  We spent our Saturday afternoons in the summer, drinking cider and smoking on Eldon Green in Newcastle city centre.  Huge crowds of us would sit around chatting. Someone might bring a guitar or a cassette player – not a ghetto blaster – and we’d soak up the sun ‘til the pubs opened again in the evening. 

 

Tales of a misspent youth - you could say that.  I wasn’t a star pupil by any means and when I did go to school I didn’t last the full day.  I was more interested in being with people I could relate to.  On the days I left early, I would head straight for a café in town attached to the one of the cinemas.  It was always full of students, but in a corner beside the counter, I would always find, Kip. 

 

Kip was an inspiration to me.  He carried a penny whistle in his pocket and played it whenever the mood took him.  He painted his nails black, always wore something bright red and wrote poetry about sex, drugs and life in the town and would sketch people on napkins and sell them for next to nothing. 

 

I’ve no idea how old he was, I was 15.  When I look back it was a bit of a strange relationship, but it never felt that way at the time.  I think he was thirty-something, but I could be wrong.  His skin wasn’t good because he drank and smoked so much, so he could have been in his early twenties.   He did loads of sketches of me.  He loved to draw my hands and eyes.  He was fascinated by cigarette smoke and capturing it on paper.  He was a strange guy.

 

Kip gave me the red biker’s jacket.  He said he won it in a bet and it was too small for him, but I’d seen it hanging in a second-hand shop the week before and fell in love with it.  It didn’t have the cannabis leaf embroidered on it then, but it was definitely the same jacket.  I still wonder if he embroidered it or got some else to do it.

 

I got to the café one afternoon and he wasn’t there. Nothing unusual, he wasn’t part of the fixtures, I thought he’d gone to sign on, but when I got to the counter the waitress, Muriel, gave me a napkin.  She said Kip had left it for me.  I went with my cup of tea to his spot and opened the napkin.  It was a sketch of me, smoking a cigarette with smoke curling around my face.  That was him saying goodbye and it was thirty years ago, but looking through those photo’s last night brought it all back and I shed a couple of tears over Kip again, strange man that he was.

Jan 20th

London

By Foxy6569

 

Sixteen years after the second world war

I walked proudly down your streets,

Which used to be desecrated

And covered with firey sheets,

The blitz, the bombs, the siren sounds,

People taking refuge in the undergrounds,

Children evacuated to the country side

Like cubs taken away from their pride,

Families severed, suffered, died

Houses burned and bodies fried,

Listed buildings torn apart

Like they were built on sand,

The angry giant of war passed by

And smote the city with his hand.

It would've broken Sir Christopher's heart

If he was still around today,

To see his wonderful works destroyed

In such an abominable way.

She used to be an over-turned cart

With her wheels spinning round and round,

Ravaged and destitute of peace

Now she makes a joyful sound,

She rose again from the dead

Like the first-fruits of them that slept,

And pushed her way up to the top

Into the sunlight she leapt.

Now she blooms in all different colours

A multi-cultural-flower with white,

Blood is red but love has no colour

Sweet city of pure delight.


 

Jan 19th

For all the cat lovers on the cloud

By Chanty
For all the cat lovers on the cloud, you have got to check out this website and watch the little movies. They are hysterical, cried with laughter... My fav is 'fly guy'. 

 http://www.simonscat.com/films.html
 
Warning need tissues.... lol 
Jan 19th

Pilots - the beginning of chapter 12

By Inzie

“Have you seen Colin?” Gordon’s face on the screen next to my bed looked terribly concerned.

 

“What? Gordon…do you know what time it is?” this was a trick question – I had no idea what the time was. I’d gone for the early night option following my particularly heavy conversation with Ralph.

 

“It’s about two…he was supposed to meet us for a drink last night…”

 

“Why wasn’t I invited?” I was so easily wounded.

 

“Er…I…Oh I don’t know…” he sounded a little vexed.

 

“Gordon…” I’d put on my special middle of the fucking night schoolmasters voice.

 

“We were going to talk about you with Frank…as it was…”

 

“You spent a whole evening on your own with Frank?”

 

“It wasn’t that bad…”

 

“Had he washed?”

 

“Barney! Colin’s missing – he never misses a night out at the Golden Jug – never…

 

“Is he at home?”

 

“No…” that could have been met with so many levels of sarcasm – I was grateful for the straightforward reply.

 

“Where could he…”

 

“You were the last person to see him…” accusatory?

 

“Hey, now, come on…we met in the play park round the side of my apartment…Play park? Grown up swings and slides – who are they trying to kid?”

 

“He didn’t say where he was going?”

 

“No, I just assumed he…”

 

“What did you talk about?”

 

“I er…let’s think…he told me that you guys had kind of fallen out…”

 

Fallen out?

 

“Something like that – those weren’t his exact words – he told me that he’d decided never to do the co-hosting thing again…”

 

“That’s right – I don’t think you could call it an argument though…”

 

Gordon – I’m not suggesting you’ve got anything to do with this…”

 

“With what?”

 

“His disappearance…”

 

“You’re saying he’s been disappeared?”

 

“Eh, no…I’m saying we don’t know where he is…you said he was missing,” I had no idea what I was nearly being accused of.

 

“What else?”

 

“What else, what?”

 

“What else did you talk about?” angry and a little desperate.

 

I told Gordon about Colin’s happy tales of his life with my mum, and how they’d lived a loving and fruitful life together…

 

“So he was happy when he left you?”

 

“Well no, no he wasn’t – he seemed pretty flat…”

 

“Fuck! I’ll meet you at the park…” with that his image vanished from my screen.

 

I had no idea what to do. Colin was a grown man… I wondered if I should wake Ralph – he’d have a sensible explanation. No, I couldn’t do that…Gordon was terrified of him – he’d never forgive me.

 

“Why here?” Gordon was sitting on the swing next to me, just as Colin had done only hours before.

 

“Two reasons – first of all, we’re only being monitored with video surveillance out here…”

 

“…and, since this is the last place I saw him…?”

 

“Exactly. Did anyone know you were meeting him here?”

 

“I er…” had I mentioned it to Ralph? Had I been monitored and followed? “I didn’t tell Ralph but they…” whoever the fuck they were, “…might have picked up that we were meeting in the park…”

 

“But what would they want with Colin?” Gordon looked blankly at the side of my building complex.

 

I felt a shiver go down my back. Weird, I wasn’t cold – more freaked out than anything. I was suddenly aware though that the temperature here and now in the middle of the night was about the same as it was during the day.

 

“Who would want him? Really, who would want to take this mild-mannered, quiet guy…?”

 

“It’s a shot across our bows!” Gordon exclaimed, “They’re scared of us…they’re warning us…”

 

“What…you really think that the powers that be would be bothered with a tiny band of minor subversives…”

 

“We’re not minor subversives…don’t you see? There are no other subversives – anyone rocking the boat would be seen as a major headache…”

 

“But why not take me? I seem to be the biggest pain in their collective arse…”

 

“You’ve got Ralph to speak up for you…it could have been me, or Frank…”

 

“Does Ralph know about mini-pilots?”

 

“I, shit, yes…yes he does…but I don’t think…surely you don’t think…”

 

“Come on Barney, he works for the fucking government…No matter what his loyalties are to you, sooner or later…”

 

He was right. Surely all those years ago when Ralph started to live with me there were ulterior motives bouncing all over the place. I needed him and he needed to keep an eye on me. We had become close friends – I still needed him – and, because he worked for the government, he had to keep throwing them some scraps. Perhaps Colin was one of these scraps?

 

“But we don’t even know if Colin’s missing yet…not for sure…”

 

“We have to assume they’ve got him…”

 

I thought about myself in a similar position. I’m sure I’d tell them everything if they employed dirty tactics like harsh questioning and threatening to ban me from the pub.

 

“What do you think he’ll tell them?”

 

“We have to assume he’ll spill everything. We need to get to mini-pilots now. I’ll call Frank on the way – we need to relocate…”

 

It felt hopeless as I looked at the passing city as the car trundled it’s way safely to our not-terribly-secret hideaway. I imagined the plot of ‘Bullitt’ with everyone adhering to the fucking Highway Code.

 

We met Frank outside. Sure enough the doors of our little travel-agents had been disturbed – they were still slightly ajar with a tiny sliver of light spilling into the street.

 

We stared helplessly at each other for a moment. It was Frank who burst into action. He opened the doors into what could laughingly be called the reception area. There was no sign of life as we walked towards the doors to the middle room of the complex. Gordon held up his hand – indicating we should stop and listen.

 

I could feel my heart pounding as I held my breath. Nothing, either there was nobody in there or they were very good at keeping quiet…I wasn’t made for this kind of thing.

 

Gordon opened the doors revealing nothing. There were the three plastic bucket seats; one had been toppled over. The door to the casket room was open. Whoever they were, they’d got through to the inner sanctum. To be fair it wasn’t exactly your Indiana Jones level of difficulty, all they’d had to do is walk through a couple of doors.

 

Both caskets were still there. One open and one closed.

 

“Who…?” I put my hand to my mouth. Goldilocks sprang to mind.

 

“Look,” Frank whispered pointing at the power lead connected to the closed casket. The wire had been corroded right through by some chemical that had been spilled on it.

 

“Should we…I mean can we open this up?” I tentatively pulled on the handle.

 

“I, er, it should be ok – we just need to get the power back to it…” Gordon pulled out a little pocket tool thing and set to work rejoining the two ends of the cable.

 

“Is there someone in there?” I turned to Frank who was standing open-mouthed watching his friend at work.

 

We both squinted at the translucent cover – it was hard to tell. Suddenly the light within flickered on.

 

“Open it,” Gordon hissed.

 

“Who me?” I was suddenly aware I was the guy with his fingers on the handle.

 

“Yes…” they spoke in unison.

 

I pulled the handle – there was a hiss as the lid came up. Colin was inside. He was clearly dead. His eyes were very slightly open and his lips were blue. His face was tilted slightly to the right. Both his wrists had been cut – as had his throat. All three cuts were deep – whoever had done this wasn’t taking any chances. A large amount of blood had pooled at the bottom of what was now his coffin.

Jan 19th

Unit T Special Forces

By quackers

Unit T Special Forces is my latest book due out at the end of January. It follows on from 'The People Traders' and 'The People Trafficker'. You can read all about it and even look inside of my previous books at: http://www.keithhoare.com

Unit T Special Forces