Monday, 30 December 2013

Find The Lady

Before I begin, this isn't really allowed. I mean, I'm allowed to blog about things that happen at work, but this case isn't really something the commissioner likes to boast about. But I'm going to blog about it anyway, as I think you'll find it interesting. I was driving down an avenue in the early hours morning on a Monday when my airwave handset crackled, telling me to go to a house on the other side of town. So that's where I drove, putting on the sirens to make sure any drunks, staggering home after a night on the town, weren't knocked down by me and my Vauxhall Astra mark 5, which I've been driving since we got them in 2007. I called the car 'Herbie' as I'd always wanted a beetle and my first call out in this car was to a drugs bust. But anyway that's why I loved driving IRVs in the early morning. The roads were empty and you usually only got called to reports of drunks and thefts. But this was neither and both at the same time.
Emma Polonskous, respected therapist, ex-taxi driver and budding recorder player, was seen being dragged from her home and put into a white van, by a drunk staggering home. He wasn't going to call the police, as he didn't really want to be a 'grass', but was almost hit by the van, so he reported it himself. I sat him down, in the back of my car, and took his name, his address and a statement. According to his statement, he was walking down the road, when he saw the door being kicked open, by a man with a hat pulled too far over his face for a positive description. Miss Polonskus, who was identified by her iconic ginger hair, was seen being dragged across the floor by the man then thrown into the back of the van. The van reversed onto the road, gently bumping the lamppost and then drove forward, lights blaring. It pulled to the right, trying to get into the right direction to drive, but ending up going slightly to far and nearly running the drunk over. He fell over the small bush and knocked half a mole hill into the pond. The van pulled forward, knocking into the bush and then pulled out, driving off.
Miss Polonskous' sister- who lived in the same house- didn't give us much information, apart from thinking she heard some noises downstairs and not finding her sister there the next morning. She also said that half way through the night, there had been a tiny bit of light shining through the curtains.
The stories seemed to make sense, the lights that the other Miss Polonskous reported were presumably made by the van. The pond the drunk reported to have kicked the mole hill into did actually have bits of dirt in, but there was no sign of an original hill. The bush did have a space where a van could have hit it and another space where the drunk could have jumped over. So I wrote all this up and, after being finally relieved about five hours later, went to bed.
When I woke up, I got a call from John on the desk at the station. Apparently they had a lead they wanted me to follow. Some patient of Miss Polonskous' had been causing a fuss for her, giving him a motive that went along perfectly with his means and opportunity. And he happened to be a magician.

So I took the tube to the station, signed in, changed into my uniform, collected the address from John on the desk and then drove there in Herbie. The Astra pulled to a stop outside a theatre alongside a white van, quite possibly the one the drunk had mentioned, and climbed out. A mouldy poster hung on the brick wall behind a box showing that the theatre was currently showing 'Miles Fletcher: Illusion.'
I opened the doors and walked in. A women came out from behind the check in desk and looked inquisitively at me.  "Hello? May I help you?"
"Yes." I flashed my warrant card. "Detective Sergeant Powell. I'm here to see one, Miles Fletcher."
"Through those doors, down the road then he'll be up on the stage about now."
I thanked her then followed her directions. I brushed besides a man holding an inflatable pig who had a picture of Mr Fletcher on his shirt and a name badge. I continued walking util I came into the main auditorium. A large sea of red chairs were sitting in front of the stage, with stage managers and technical experts watching, as Mr Fletcher showed an impromptu trick. He finished and then started rehearsing again. By the time I finally got to the stage, Mr Fletcher, a young man in a blue suit with ginger hair, was rehearsing a trick where he predicted a random word in the dictionary. He kicked the floor. "No, no, no, no, no!" He shouted. "The cut needs to be quicker, more realistic, more, more, honest!"
A man walked onto the stage and went over to him. "The footage isn't that good. It's harder to cut than you'd think, Miles."
The magician leant over to the mans name badge and peered at it. "Right, James. That's fine. If you could get the camera working, we'll re film it and then reset the entirety of the illusion!" He cried.
"I'm sorry, Miles, but-"
"When I first started out, I had half a coin and a few bits of string. You know what that's made me learn?"
"No, Miles."
"We have to work with what we've got." He calmed down quickly. "That's all. Ok. Now, go sort it. Who's that on your t shirt?"
"It's you, Miles." James replied, walking away.
"Oh, of course. Now, can you tell me who you are and why on Earth you don't have a name badge?" Mr Fletcher asked, turning to me.
I ran up the steps to join him on stage. I pulled out my warrant badge and flashed it at him. "DS Powell. I'm very sorry to say, Mr Fletcher, but you're under arrest."
"Whatever for?"
"Suspicion of the kidnap of this woman. Can you tell me who she is?" I showed him a picture of Miss Polonskous.
He looked at me and smiled. "I've never seen her before in my life, officer."
"You meet with her three times each month!" I cried.
"It doesn't mean I haven't seen her. Who is she?"
"Your therapist."
"Really? She's been kidnapped?"
"Yes. And we believe you're guilty." He came without a fuss, down to the station and, after some questioning, sent me off to look at his therapy notes.
When I came back, he was teaching the officer I'd assigned him a basic card trick. "And then you remove the ace from your left shoe. Hey presto and your friends are amazed."
"Excuse me." I interrupted.
"Hello, who are you?" He asked me.
"Mr Fletcher, it's me, DS Powell."
"Oh of course, terribly sorry."
"You're free to go, on the condition that you stick around here. We may need future interviews with you."
"Ok. Thank you very much, DS Powell. See you around."
He walked out and bumped into my boss on the way out. My boss asked."That's Fletcher, is it not?"
"Yes sir."
"Why's he leaving?"
"Because he couldn't possibly have kidnapped Miss Polonskous."
"Because he couldn't possibly have differentiated her from her sister."
"Why not?"
"Do you know why he was consulting the therapist in the first place, sir?"
"No. Why was he consulting her?"
"Because he suffers from face blindness."

Monday, 23 December 2013

A Yuletide Horror (part 4)

I think David was enjoying it all a little too much. I mean, it was fun making weapons for our fight against the Christmas trees, but I think laughing madly and explaining it was the greatest day of his life was taking it a stretch too far. We'd come up with an essential set of weapons, three in fact. The professor was acquiring us some guns, basic rifles that didn't need that much expertise to shoot with. David was making, what he called, 'baked bean bombs.' They were basically tin cans, with explosive charges on the bottom and bits of metal and glass inside. And the rest of us were making petrol bombs, but with wine and other cheap alcohols in. The Christmas trees weren't going to know what hit them. Not that they should be able to. They are Christmas trees after all.

Seven thirty. Dobbies. A blue transit van pulls up. Unknown registration plate. That's what appeared on crime night the next month. It also says that the occupants were unknown. The occupants are Me, Suzy, Steve, David and Professor Orchard. We didn't bring Billy; he didn't really understand what was going on. Professor Orchard had driven his van to our house and so we had climbed in. He issued us each with a gun, then one of those leather belt things that you put over you chest to carry bullets. We had thanked him then given him three 'baked bean bombs' and two petrol bombs without the petrol.  We drove to Dobbies and went over one last run through of the plan. And so we climbed out.
We strolled towards the door looking awesome. The professor stood at the front of us, me and Suzy to either side of him and then Steve and David bringing up the back. The professor kicked the door open and stepped in aiming his gun around. Me and Suzy prepared ourselves then ran off to the back of the shop, where we'd seen the hoards of trees. Steve and David headed off to the basement to get our contingency plan ready.
Suzy and I were just entering the range of shed when we saw our first Christmas tree. It was about six foot. Its baubles were red and shining and it had its branching aimed at us. I couldn't move, so Suzy lined up her rifle and pulled the trigger. It gave an almighty bang and then the tree snapped in half.
That's when we heard it. The rustling of trees getting ready to attack. I looked at Suzy. Suzy looked at me. "Run." We said in unison.
We ran through the shed section, occasionally taking shots at Christmas trees. I usually missed, but I hit a few. We ran into a shed by accident and headed to the door when a hoard of Christmas trees advanced on it. We seemed to have no escape, to be killed by trees. So I spun on the spot and shot at the wall. It broke and we climbed through. "Back up plan sorted." My radio buzzed. "On our way to help the professor."
"Rodger that." I replied.
Suzy took a petrol bomb without the petrol from her belt and lit the rag sticking out of the bottle. She threw the bottle and it set fire to the shed. It started burning and set fire to all the other sheds, trapping the trees inside. "Genius, Suzy!" I cried. "Absolute genius!"
But she didn't answer. As she'd seen the thing that was behind me. The king tree. "Duck!" She cried.
I fell to the floor and watched as she shot at it. A large chunk of bark blasted off but the king tree continued dauntless. And then it blasted a cascade of pins from the branches. "Suzy!" I screamed.
I jumped up and fired a shot at the tree. I reloaded then shot at it again. I repeated this sixteen times and the tree started to move slower. I took a 'baked bean bomb' from my belt and lit the bottom. I threw it at the tree and started to walk towards Suzy. It exploded and destroyed the tree. I didn't look around though. Not because I was being awesome but because I was worried he might not be fully dead. Suzy was pinned to the wall by the pine needles. "Suzy, are you ok?"
"I'll survive." She whimpered.
"Wait whilst I free you." I said, moving closer to her.
"No. You must go on!"
"No! I can't just leave you!"
"Go, fight Christmas trees. Leave."
"Not without you!"
I heard the rustle of amassing trees and turned to her. "I'm not leaving you."
"It's your destiny mate! You must vanquish the trees. Go forth, my friend! Save Accrington."
"Alright Suzy! But I'm coming back for you!"
I jumped over a picnic table and shot a tree, kicking over a gnome. A staff only door exploded out in front of me, so I stopped and watched in trepidation. David and Steve came out of the corridor, guns blazing, shooting at dangerous trees. "Hello mate!" Shouted David. "Got a petrol bomb for me?"
"It doesn't have petrol in, but there you go!" I handed him the bottle with the rag in.
"Thanks mate!" He lit it and threw it into the corridor they'd just come out of. The trees started to burn.
"Where's Suzy?" Asked Steve.
"She heroically said she'd stay behind whilst I went on."
"Good on her!"
"Where's the Professor."
Steve pointed up, so that's where I looked. On a balcony high above us, the professor was using his rifle to duel the Christmas tree. "How swashbuckling!" I cried.
He shot the tree once more and then dropped down to join us. "We need to be getting out of here." He said. He then pointed to the army of trees that were coming to get us. "Avanti my friends!"
So we ran, across to the entrance. Professor Orchard, Steve and David ducked and ran outside. But I tripped. I hit the floor and looked up to see the Christmas trees stampeding over me. "Do it!" I cried.
David picked up the two connectors and plugged them together. Electricity surged through them and lit up the gigantic wire Christmas lights that Steve and David had set up as our contingency plan. The trees didn't realise, though, that the wire was lighting up. As the trees hit the wire, they set on fire, just like the piece of paper David had been playing with when Suzy was originally blogging.
I couldn't climb up. As the trees hit the wire, they bounced off it and fell onto me. They started to pile up and it became harder and harder for me to move. And then I felt a hand on my shoulder. It pulled me up then took my other hand and pulled me up some more. I climbed out of the trees and smiled. "Thanks Suzy."
"You're welcome. Let's get out of here."
We climbed up the tower of trees and then  jumped through the wires and down to the van. And we drove away. After that, we started becoming experts in the banishment of possessed Christmas trees. In fact, its what I do today, ten years on. The others do, as well. Steve and his wife provide us with our weapons, Suzy finds us reports of activity, the professor conducts investigations into it and David looks after our gear. I'm normally the one who goes and gets to spend hours on end observing the trees. At the moment though, I'm investigating into some bloke I met down the pub. His house disappeared, as did his existence. It's quite interesting really, and I guess the reason I'm writing this is because the bloke doesn't believe me. Neither does anyone else. So now you know the truth.
And, as my old head teacher used to say, be careful this Christmas. She always used to tell us to watch out for the ice that we could slip on, but I'm telling you to be careful of the Christmas trees. They are capable of ripping you apart, stabbing you with pine needles and bashing you with baubles. And it's sitting in the corner of your room already. It's looking at you, plotting how it'll dispose of you. It's dangerous and scheming and there's almost nothing you can do to stop it. Merry Christmas.

Monday, 16 December 2013

A Yuletide Horror (part 3)

Me and Steve- or Steve and I- ducked behind a crowd of people as Suzy came out. When we were sure she had disappeared down the corridor and into the courtyard, we jumped out from behind the crowd we hid behind, got shouted at and then ran into the Professors room. Professor Wendall J Orchard is a professor of biology by day, but by night, he dons a mask that really doesn't hide his face and becomes a teacher and a student on the social understanding of supernatural phenomenon as effected and changed by everyday life. To be truthful, if you'd met him, you wouldn't think he'd be able to say something so long. Standing at five foot three, the professor had long flowing hair, wore mustardy colours and started studying biology so he could understand the frogs better. Instead, he ended up dissecting them.
"What do you want to know lad?" Asked the professor.
"The possessed Christmas tree sir, the one you were telling Suzy about." Steve answered,
"Oh, yes! What do you want to know about it?"
"Everything!" Cried Steve.
"Everything?" Replied the professor. "I can't tell you everything!"
"Why ever not?" I demanded suspiciously.
"Because I don't know everything, of course!"
I nodded.` It made sense. "Well at least tell us, where do they come from?"
His answer wasn't what we expecting. I was expecting it to include a location. It actually included balaclavas and night vision binoculars.

Dobbies. A garden centre that, surprisingly, came after the elf. It also sat next to a set of allotments. These allotments stood in front of a forest. The forest was where I was attacked. Me, Suzy, Steve, Professor Orchards and David- or I, Suzy, Steve, Professor Orchards and David- lay in a bush in the allotments at six o clock at night. It was winter, so things were getting dark. That's where the night vision goggles came in. We took it in turns to peer through the metal fence and into Dobbies, and for over an hour, it just felt like we were lying in a bush observing a garden centre and freezing to death. I announced my feelings to the professor. His reply was, "Hang on. I think that gnome just moved."
I took up my night vision goggles and stared into the garden centre. And sure enough, the gnome had moved. It had fallen off the bench it was on. And I could see what had knocked it off. A propelled pine needle. And then more and more gnomes fell off, as a Christmas tree fired pine needles at it. "Holy cow." Whispered David.
The Christmas tree raced forward, destroying the bench as it moved and then we saw the others. A pantheon of over, what must have been, 100 trees, amassing on this first tree. They each had their own personalities, some strong and tall, others thin and weedy. But they all had one thing in common. They were all deeply malevolent.
Having seen what we'd come to see, we climbed out from the bush and pulled our balaclavas off. "I don't think I've ever seen something so, so-"
"Evil?" I suggested.
"Malevolent?" Suggested Steve.
"Deeply frightening and terrible on a level of empathy only felt by the strongest souls?" Suggested Suzy, as overly dramatic as ever.
"Monstrous?" Suggested David.
"I was going to say festive. But hey! We've just gone and discovered a completely new species! And a malevolent one at that."
Suzy nodded. "Good point. What do you think we should do?"
"Do what any good human being would do!" I cried.
They all turned to me.
"Destroy it."

To be concluded...

Monday, 9 December 2013

A Yuletide Horror (part 2)

Not to disappoint the universal stereotype of students being a unruly lot, I've never actually taken drugs. Apart from Calpol. I used to take that by the galleon when I was a kid, mainly because I was ill a lot. Not my mums fault obviously. Sorry Mum. As I was saying, I don't do drugs. But I can tell you something, the stuff they were injecting me with in the hospital was making me want to slightly change my mind. Only slightly though. I'd been lying in a bed for six and a half hours at the local hospital. Suzy had been really helpful to me, making a blog about the standard of food in the NHS. I decided to let her off though. When we were in the forest, and I got attacked by the stick, she'd used a large heavy bar she found in a bush to hurt the stick enough that it would jump away from me. That effect wasn't as good as it could have been, because it took some of the skin of my neck with it, and then collapsed. She then gave the stick a few more wacks. Once she was a hundred per cent sure it wasn't moving, she phoned the police, to report the large heavy bar, and then the ambulance, for me. And so here I am. In a hospital. The doctor had put some cream on my wounds and bandaged me up, so now I was just waiting for piece of paper to be signed saying 'The Patient is ready to go home, but if he dies, it's his fault for checking himself out.' Or something like that.
After, what I presume, was a distinct shortage in ink, followed by a drought in all biro retailers in the known universe, I finally coughed up my own pen and had the doctor sign the form in front of me. With my dignity in tatters, due to the gown they asked me to wear, me and Suzy got a taxi home, where our friends were curious to find out where we'd left the dog.

The next morning, tired from searching through a forest for a possibly dead dog all night, we returned to campus, empty handed. Me and Suzy went our separate ways, her studies based around advanced computer science and architecture, me looking into rhetorics. I had one lecture that day, straight in the morning, and she had the day off! Lucky her. I walked into one of the main corridors, to be confronted by Steve, a tearful anger on his face. "Well?" He demanded.
"I haven't found it." I replied, tiredly.
"You better!"
"I don't see why you care so much, it's not as if you ever actually liked that cursed mutt!"
"I know, but my parents loved it. If I were you, I'd be scared of them!"
I remained silent. When I first met Mr and Mrs Steves parents, I'd made a joke and from then on, I rotted in the underworld whenever they looked at me.
"Yeah, I thought that was what you'd say."
Two hours later, me and Steve left the lecture hall of rhetorics. We were on our way, back to the flat, when we saw a sight we weren't expecting. Suzy's trademark blue hat in the window of one of the biology professors. But, if my collated memory of un-useful information was anything to go by, he specialised in the supernatural. Which wasn't good at all. "Come with me!" I cried.
A bit confused, Steve raced behind me towards the professors room. We got to the door and I pulled us to a stop. Pushing my ear to the door, I made an attempt to listen to their conversation.
"An alien stick?" Inquired the professor. "No, no, no."
"What do you think it is then, Professor?" Asked Suzy's voice, curious and inquisitive.
"Habentes Abietem." I believe the professor said. I had to Google Translate it because  misheard.
"Possessed fir tree."
"I believe this Christmas Tree you speak of is possessed. And I believe it has been possessed by rage and evil."

Monday, 2 December 2013

A Yuletide Horror

"Accrington is a town under siege!" Announced Suzy, a friend of mine. She was normally overly dramatic, came with the profession I suppose. She was a blogger you see. Literally, if it was capable of being documented of, it appeared on her blog. She had recently discovered the world of 'Vlogging' so me and the others were always messing about in the back ground of her latest video.
Steve stuck his head into the frame and shouted, "The penguins are slowly taking our sanity away!"
Suzy punched him. "Accrington is a town under siege."
"You've already said that!" I shouted.
She ignored us and continued. "Over the past five days, three murders have been committed, barbaric murders that couldn't possibly have been committed by the hand of man."
"Maybe it was a woman!" Cried  Billy, the most idiotic of our gang.
She continued, dauntless. "But what is to blame? Aliens, animals, monsters from under the bed?"
Matthew, welsh and suffering from mild pyromania, climbed up from his chair and carried the plug to a socket across our dormitory. He plugged it in then returned to his chair. On the table, he had a voltage stabiliser connected to two crocodile wires which clipped onto a thread of wire. Turning the voltage stabiliser to its maximum capacity, the piece of wire glowed red like an ember. And blew the electricity. The computer stopped working and we were plunged into darkness. Which was probably quite good, as what happened to Matthew next sounded quite painful.

To be truthful, she was dramatizing the situation. Accrington wasn't so much under siege than in a state of disrepair. Sure, these murders were pretty barbaric, but things like that had happened before. Me and Suzy were walking down a street in Accrington, not that I know what it's called. I don't remember things like that, I think the information is silly. There was a child called Jeremy or possibly Jensen. Or even Jack. Definitely something starting with a J. Or possibly an L. Or maybe a K. It definitely started with one of the letters of the alphabet. I hope. Anyway, this child was crying. His mother consoling him. By which I mean telling him not to be silly.
"But the Christmas tree was looking at me angrily!" He cried.
"Don't be silly (insert either the names Jeremy, Jensen, Jack, something beginning with J, or L, or K or one of the other letters of the alphabet) a tree can't look at you!"
I ignored it of course, because that's what any sensible student would do. Me and Suzy were chatting for most of the walk. With the dog of course. Steve had told his parents that he was married and lived in a house of his own, so they sent him a dog. Now we were suffering as well. We couldn't be bothered to walk the full distance, so we took a shortcut down the back of the allotments through the wooded area. Blitzer, as that was the dogs name, was attempting to steal every stick ever known to man. He ran into one bush and we waited whilst he retrieved a stick. He ran back out and brought us one. It was that of a fir tree, otherwise known as Christmas tree. Appropriate really, it was December after all.
It wasn't very Christmassy though, when it grabbed my neck and attempted to kill me...

Monday, 25 November 2013

The Professors Nightmare (part 4)

Susan Applade could still feel the finger marks on her neck. It was the only part of her that was hot, as she sat on the ramp of an ambulance, with a blanket wrapped around her shoulders. Jim came over. "This trip was doomed from the beginning."
"Your girl friend would tell you this is the prime reason not to continue with this job." She wheezed.

"Yes well, I won't tell her."
"What happened, Jim?"

"You know what happened. Your brother tried to murder you!"
"But why? And why did he stop?"
"I wacked him. Quite hard, with an archaeological mallet. And when he simply fell back, I threw those egg cups you were given by Albin. They poisoned him, as there were still bits of egg in it. He suffered a severe shock and is now in hospital. What I don't guess is why he did it?"

"I have a feeling it's to do with the umbrella."
"The umbrella? What's so special about it?"
"It had Wicca symbols on."
"My brother worshipped it."
"Did he?"

"I don't think he was worshipping it to a point of insanity. I just remembered him being thrown out by my parents once because he was worshipping a different religion. And he said, at hospital when he was being treated for the motorbike accident, he was on the way to some worship ceremony to do with the summer solstice."
"So you reckon there is an evil Wicca curse on the umbrella?"

"No. But think about the murders. Albin was found dripping wet! You use an umbrella to protect you from the rain. Runcorn was found sun burnt. You use an umbrella to protect yourself from the sun! It makes sense."
"But he tried to strangle you! What's that got to do with umbrellas?"

"I was using my umbrella as a walking stick. It's one of the many things you can use it for!"
"Very clever! But why has it been cursed?"
"I don't think it has. Don't know why. Just a feeling."
"What Wicca symbol was it?"
"The symbol of the goddess of the three moons."
"So you're thinking the renewal of life and death is the curse."
"I don't know."
Jim paused for a second and thought. Then he kicked the ground and screamed. "I've got it!"

"Why it was cursed!"
"Tell me more."    

"The Goddess of the three moons is a special symbol that represents-"
"Life and death. We've already done this part."
"I was going to say the new moons."
"So, your brother was going to a summer solstice ceremony when he was involved in the bike crash. The umbrella was sold by the African bloke here, at Stone Henge- the sight of many hundreds of special ceremony's, for the summer solstice! The returning of the umbrella to it's place of birth must have triggered something, and the fact that your umbrella caught his foot, raising memories of the original injuries, must have done something."
"Genius, Jim! You're brilliant!"
"Thank you. My only problem with that theory is that it sounds too, I don't know, far fetched?"
"All the best theories are. Where's the umbrella now?"

"I don't know." He went to ask the paramedics who had found them out in the field. "No idea."
They continued talking, bouncing ideas, to a point where she couldn't talk any more- because she'd nearly been strangled. Obviously! And then they returned to the hotel. Surprisingly, she was never given a chance to do a trip ever again. Well, not until the incident at the church, where the bat creature attacked.

But as for the umbrella, she never found it. In fact, it had disappeared that night as it was washed away in a sudden flood. And it would float through the night for ages after, to a point where it was hundreds of miles away. Until the day where a budding professor ripped it from the water and thought the irony that an umbrella was submerged in the substance it was meant to protect from. And so the DCI thought, as he considered the irony of a budding professor with his umbrella was killed by the very substance it was meant to protect him from. 
And so the professors nightmare continued...     

Monday, 18 November 2013

The Professors Nightmare (part 3)

"And that's the leading theory in the creation of Stone Henge." Finished Susan. She went and sat down next to her brother, who she was having to take along for: A. he still needed supervision and B. they needed people to help to supervise the students. "A good talk to you made there Susan." He said.
"No it wasn't. I've done much better in the past, Mark." She replied modestly.
"Not that I've heard. You really are great at this type of thing."
"Well I thank you very much." They'd be sat on the bus for three and a half hours and, because they hadn't gone over everything before the trip, she had been giving lectures for a majority of the ride. "Back in a second, Mark. I need to talk to Jim."
She climbed from her seat and walked over to where the assistant teacher was sat. The bus braked suddenly and she stumbled. But she carried on over to wear Jim was sat, talking to three or four girls, making them laugh with his usual array of jokes. Susan shooed them away and sat down. "You know you can be sacked, even possibly arrested for chatting up students."
"Only if you're a proper teacher. I'm a friendly assistant, who you drag into lesson."
That annoyed her. For once, he'd outsmarted her. "Yes, well anyway. I've got a message from Professor Runcorn. It says to turn to page three hundred and seventy six."
"Of what?"
"No idea. Like all eccentric geniuses, he hasn't dated his journals so I have no idea which to look at."
"How many have you got?"
"Twenty six of them."
"That's gonna be a lot of fun looking through. Which reminds me, what are we looking for?"
"Weird as it sounds, anything with information on Wicca Symbols or umbrellas." She noticed her brother went tense when she mentioned Wicca Symbols.
"That is weird. Any particular reasons?"
"Just a little theory." She reached into her satchel and pulled out the journals. "Let's get looking through!"
It was the last book they looked through that held the information. Information that didn't make nearly as much sense as it could.
When they finally arrived, they threw everything straight into the hotel rooms and rushed to Stone Henge. As they were entering, via the tunnel underneath the road, Susan realized that she was carrying Runcorns umbrella. Funny really. She didn't remember picking it up.
"One of my own umbrellas that." Said an African accent. She turned and saw an elderly African man with a wispy grey beard. It's scary how often stereotypes come into story telling!
"I'm sorry?" Answered Susan.
"I make a lot of umbrellas and walking sticks. I recognize that as one I made for the summer solstice. Ended up selling it to a professor though. Professor Denteld or something. I remember he died, quite mysteriously. In the middle of a storm. How did you get it?"
"I got it from a professor who died. He got it from a professor who died. And I'd wager he got it from a professor who died too."
"I wouldn't like your chances."
"Neither do I."
"Good luck. Miss Applade."
She continued walking. And then she turned around, curious. "How did you know my name?"
He was gone. She put it beside her though, and continued. Nothing was going to ruin this trip.
They spent the rest of the day, writing about what they thought of stone henge, discovering strange artifacts and, of course, having a great time.
But then a group of the students wanted to go for a walk. So she decided to take them for a stroll through the hills, with her brother and Jim.
She was using the umbrella as a walking stick, as it was one of the many things that and umbrella could do, such as: protection from a storm; a shield in the rain and even block out the sun. They'd gone about a mile, when they students said they wanted to head back. Jim said he'd take them whilst Mark and Susan went for a bit of a further walk. They were walking and then she accidentally speared Marks foot with her umbrella. "Oh sorry, Mark! No harm meant." She continued walking but he didn't.
She turned back and saw him there. Standing, angry. "Are you ok, Mark?" She asked.
He remained silent.
"What's wrong?"
He screamed with rage.
"Mark. What's going on?"
He rushed towards her and punched her face.
"Mark?" She said, holding her face. "What are you doing?"
He grabbed her neck and started squeezing it. "Mark?" She wheezed. Her lungs not receiving the air.
"Mark, release me."
"Praise the goddess of the three moons. Praise the goddess of the three moons." Chanted Mark.
"JIM!" Screamed Susan as she nearly stopped breathing. "JIM!"

To be continued.

Monday, 11 November 2013

The Professors Nightmare (part 2)

"What do you mean 'sunburned'?" Demanded Jim Nightingale.
"The detective said, Runcorn was the same as Albin in every way apart from the fact that Albin was drenched and Runcorn was sunburnt." Replied Susan Applade.
"Right. What do you think any of this actually means?"
"No idea. They've both been hit on the head with an sharp instrument. It's scary really."
"Excuse me, Professor, but how does any of this relate to Pagan rituals?" Asked Linda Sebble.
"Oh, yeah." Replied Applade. She climbed off the desk where she was sat with Nightingale and drained her cup of coffee. "Right. Everyone put away your books, this work isn't helping anyone."
She was still teaching the forty other students that Runcorn was meant to be with. "Two thirds of you aren't learning anything from studying second year Pagan Rituals. Until we get a new teacher we're going to do a little project. About murder."
There was an excited whisper.
"But it's going to take sometime to get all the facts right. Here's what we're going to do: for the next week, we're going to study famous murders from throughout history- but I'm not going to tell you how it was done or who did it. You'll have to study the clues to the case and if you can, as a class, deduce the true culprit and means, I'll let you guys do something slightly more difficult."
She didn't allude to what it was though.
A week in and the class had deduced the motive in the Julius Ceaser murder, the Abraham Lincoln Assassination and found the culprits of the Mary Queen of Scots case. Which was when Applade revealed her new idea. Nightingale was sat in his seat, taking a sip of his tea, when she announced, "We're going to investigate the recent murders of Professors Runcorn and Albin."
Jim spat it straight back out. "What the hell?"
"We're going to investigate the death of our professors. What could possibly go wrong?"
And so they investigated.
It was Derren Banks who made a breakthrough. He came to the conclusion that both professors had been outside and remembered they had left something in the classroom. When they had returned, they were killed.
The theory seemed likely, so the class started to work new theories around that.
And then the day of the trip arrived and everybody was climbing up onto  the coach, preparing to go, when Jenkins ran out with a bag. "Ah, Professor Applade, good to see you. You weren't at Professor Runcorns will reading."
"No I wasn't. My brother was having an operation."
"Yes, I believe so. Now, because you were one of his friends, he left many things for him." Out of the bag he pulled each item. "His journals, all twenty six of them, his favorite books, some artifacts and some equipment he knew you needed."
He handed them over. "Thank you professor. I must be going now."
"And one more thing. He left you his umbrella, the one that he was left by Albin. It said in his will, check page three hundred and seventy six. See you."
Jenkins passed her the umbrella and walked off. On the bottom of the handle of the umbrella was a picture, illustrated with a Wicca symbol. It was a pagan religion set up in the twentieth century. The symbol was the one at the top of the page, the symbol of the three moon goddess. It symbolizes life and death. Reincarnation and rebirth.
And there was a bit with gold paint in it. It was the part that demonstrated death.

Friday, 1 November 2013

The Professors Nightmare

The wind was howling through the empty yard. All the students had left and now the lights were slowly beginning to die. Professor Albin was walking to his car through the blisteringly cold rain when suddenly he remembered, “My umbrella!” Walking back through the dark eerie corridors of the university he noted how haunting the place was at night. Finally he arrived at his classroom. Barging into the door it scraped open. He stepped in and picked up his umbrella which was lying against his desk like he had left it. Noticing that one of the windows was open he put his bags down and went to close it. That’s when he heard it. A flapping noise like that of a leathery bird, “No. But how, why, no, no. Noooooo!” He would never get to his car that night. In fact he would never leave that room on his own two feet.

Professor Susan Applade was a teacher at Tarrison University. She taught archeology, as did the other twelve teachers, and was one of the best teachers in the whole of England, never mind the Lake District. She was running late, as usual, and had barely had any breakfast. It's a good job too as, when she entered Professor Albin's room, she would have met it again. Two paramedics and several policemen were gathered around his body, which had severe slash marks to his temple. She knew this because one of the detectives was saying it into a dicta phone. "The victim appears to have severe slash marks to it's temple. It appears that our victim was closing the window, based upon the water trail of the cabinet next to it, when something grabbed his attention from behind. He spun on the spot, as evident from the muddy swirl on the floor, and was then presumably his with the sharp weapon. The victim had a hat, jacket, gloves and a scarf on at the time of death, the hat having had been knocked off at the time of impact. All were wet, so it's apparent he had been outside before returning back in." The detective flicked a button then turned to Applade. "Who the hell are you?" 
"Professor Susan Applade. I was just coming to borrow some brushes for later. Whatever happened here?"
"I can't divulge that  information right at this moment, although I believe there is going to be an assembly amongst the teachers, as to what happened, in the main hall. Can you vouch for where you were last night at twenty past seven?" 
Susan thought for a second. "I was at my home with my brother. He's recently fallen off a motorbike so I've been taking care of him."
"Ok. We may need to call you back later on though so we can ask questions. Can you give us an address?"
She took off her fedora and pulled a card from between a band and the actual hat, which had her name and address on. 
"Thank you, Professor Applade. We shall consult you further on in our inquiries."

Five Minutes later, she was leaning against the back wall of the room whilst the other twelve teachers piled in. Nightingale came in and joined her, bringing with him two cardboard cups of coffee. "I heard what happened. Thought you might want one of these."
"Thanks." She gratefully accepted ones of the cups.

"It's tragic isn't it!" 
"Yeah. You didn't put nearly enough milk in this."
"No. I meant the murder."

"Oh right. Yeah. I guess it is."
"You seem preoccupied."
"Do I?"

"Well if I do, it's because of the trip."
She had planned a trip to Stone Henge with her second years. 
"Worried that you won't find someone to replace Albin as a helper?"
"No. I'm worried that the trip will be cancelled all together. Anyway, how's Bella?"
Bella was Nightingales girlfriend.
"She's fine. Still want's me to get another job."
She didn't agree with the digging up of old things. 
"Do you think you will?"
"I hope not! I love this job. It's great!"
The doors burst open and a bloke with hair the color of chalk stains and stains on his lapel the color of white hair. "Sorry I'm late. Terribly sorry indeed. Everyone please sit down." He was Professor Jenkins, the university master.
"What's the devil is going on?" Demanded Professor Runcorn- he was the eldest of the professors, and Applade's mentor.
"Yes." Cried Professor Felicity Lemmington. "Where is Albin?" Her favorite area of history was the medieval era. 
"I've 'eard rumors of 'im being dead." Interrupted Doctor Danton.  He was a big man, with a small brain who drilled students on the maintenance and creation of trenches and tools.
Nervous muttering echoed around the room.
"Yes well. This morning Mister Benton, our caretaker, was doing his rounds and found Professor Albin dead in his room. The police are conducting an investigation into what happened. I am sorry as to tell you that  you all will be interviewed at some point or another until the police can eliminate you from their inquiries. Now, classes have been cancelled for the rest of the week-" which was an understatement as it was Friday- "and students will return next week. In four days, the reading of his last will and testament will take place and everything will be distributed amongst us lot as his wife passed away three months ago and no other family members are known." The meeting continued on for several hours and many questions were asked but it's boring so I won't bore you with the details. 
In fact, instead we shall skip to four days in the future, when the last will and testament was read. Everybody got something, some better than others, like Felicity Lemmington who got a car and possession of several bank accounts unlike Professor Runcorn who got an old dingy umbrella.
Jim Nightingale was quite lucky because he got fourteen first edition books and a lovely selection of hats. Albin really didn't like Susan and so she ended up with several egg cups. 
She was egg yolk intolerant. 

Two weeks later and she was running late again. This time she was actually running, Jim was with her. They pushed through the busy crowd and climbed over a fence into a small courtyard with a large tree in the center.

Running across the yard they came to their classroom window which she looked through, yes, she thought. The class wasn’t there. She broke the window and climbed through it replacing it with one of the spare slabs of glass she kept under her desk. Jim went and sat down at his desk in the corner and started to get his appropriate books. Susan smiled and then headed to the door. Just before she pulled the handle, she looked into the mirror. She tidied herself down and observed what she saw. There was a 32 year old lady, reasonably tall, exactly five foot nine, quite thin. On her head perched a grey trilby, covering salt and pepper hair, which held a feather and a series of business cards. Her eyes were like that of a sun dawn over in the horizon. She wore a long brown coat and a mulch-coloured scarf over a grey tweed jacket and dress. Across her shoulder rested a battered, weather beaten old satchel, which contained pretty much everything an archeologist could need.
She took a deep breath and pulled open his door.
“What on Earth?”
Instead of her normal second year class of twenty students there were sixty. “Right then, my normal class come inside anyone else, stay here.”
Her class walked in and, after checking twice to see if the others  were still there, she slammed the door shut. The classroom was strange. Its door was next to the right wall which went about around in a half square which led up onto raised platform where his desk was. The front wall was covered with a big black board and the left wall was completely windows with tables underneath. The back wall was covered in bookcases and the middle of the room was taken up by desks. The whole room was completely made of wood. After waiting for everyone to sit down, Applade addressed his class. “What the heck is going on?” 
“It’s the Professor, Miss.” Shouted Derren Banks- one of the prominent stars of her class.

“Which one?” Asked Applade.
“Professor Runcorn.”
“What about him?”
“He’s... He’s...-“
“Spit it out boy!”
“He’s dead.” Said a voice from the door. Applade turned towards the voice and was greeted by the sight of an elderly man in a battered old suit. It was Professor Jenkins. 
Applades world sank, Runcorn had been her mentor and her friend, she wouldn’t have this job without the old Professor for goodness sakes!
“Professor Jenkins, that is terrible news but still why are there forty extra students waiting out there?”
“They are the class that Professor Runcorn should be teaching.”
“With all respect sir, I don’t have a lesson prepared for fourth years studying Roman antiquary.”
"You are more than capable Professor. You have Mister Nightingale with you so I'm sure you can find something."
"We were meant to be doing work essential for the trip, but I imagine it will have been cancelled now?"
"No, the trip will still by continued, but I would prefer it if you were to come back early."
"Of course, sir."
The lesson continued up until the point where Susan heard a familiar voice outside the room. It was that of the detectives from when Albin had died. Susan raced out of the room and bumped into the detective.
"Ah, detective-"
"Detective Shadan, are you here regarding the death of Professor Runcorn?"
"Yes, I am. How can I  help you?"
"How did he die? I'm one of his best friends so he would have wanted me to know."
"Well, I'm not allowed to tell you but, funnily enough, if I were to accidentally say something over the phone to another officer, and you were to over hear me, then I guess that would be fine. Oh look, my phone is ringing!"
Susan smiled as the detective spoke into his phone.
"Yes, the murder was similar to the Albin case. In fact, it was identical in every way, apart from one, instead of being wet, the victim was sunburned."

To be continued.