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...