Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Firy of the Christmas Trees (part 4)

The Volvo Tank- or as I like to call it, the National Forestry Commissions Worst Nightmare- was exactly where I'd want to be in the likely chance of a Christmas Tree Apocalypse. As the trees began to swarm towards us, they were ripped apart by a constant barrage of gunfire from the sawn-off barrels on either side, fired by Suzy and Elise. As the two took a moment to reload, the trees tried to swarm the car, but Steve threw the rear end out and knocked most of them over. A few Trees- God knows how- managed to cling on to the car, but I and David saw to them with the mini chainsaws we had equipped the car with. For the second time in two years, I had feeling we would be appearing on Crimewatch. (Which I would like to take a second to apologise about. Sorry.) One of the people they interviewed on Crimewatch had watched us out of their bedroom window, believing us to be terrorists. It was them who called the police as well.
The Police seemed to come out of no where, six panda cars alongside a dark blue van holding the English alternative of a Swat Team. Their government provided tyres drove over the newly deceased trees, crumbling the Pine bark. The blue lights atop their cars shone great beams of light like something from the disco's the people of the 80's seemed to call home. Their sirens wailed like a baby once it got within three metres of me, appropriate because that distance was about the same as the one between our car and the nearest Police car. The Trees continued to swarm out of nowhere and turned their attention to the Police Cars, noticing they were less armed. Suzy and Elise aimed their guns again and fired towards the Christmas Trees on the Police Cars.
"Stop!" Shouted the Professor. "You're firing at the Police! I'm sure that's even more illegal than firing at a civilian."
"We're trying to save them!" Suzy shouted.
"Do you think they'll believe that?"
"Good point." Suzy said, and the two of them stopped firing.
"Professor!" Steve cried. "Look, it's just as you expected!"
"Rude exclamation." I whispered.
Accrington Town Hall has a selection of rooms, one of which is ideal for line/barn dancing. I know this because I once sulkily attended a line dance there and decided that, were I ever to become a cowboy, I would travel the Wild West making that genre of dance punishable by death. Unsurprisingly I'd be called the Line Ranger. Sadly however, the Line Ranger would be of no help against the massive Christmas Tree that stood outside. Shiny baubles hung from all branches with a red glass star at the very top. It began to spin faster and faster as we approached until it was a green and red blur. A malevolent green and red blur.
"Fire the Cruise!" Steve cried.
The Cruise was of course the barrel on the roof- because it was a Top Gun- and it could be fired by loading shells into the complicated mechanism on the back. We did so and then pulled a long lever which fired a puff of steam to force the shell into the barrel. "3, 2, 1!" David cried and then pulled a lever. The entire car shook as the barrel spat the shell out. It flew through the air and hit the tree dead centre, but that only seemed to anger it. "Concentrate our fire on it!" The Professor cried. "We fell the King Tree, we fell them all!"
"What a surprisingly medieval system these Christmas Trees conform to!" I exclaimed.
Steve yanked back the twin strings and the twin bonnet guns fired a torrent of bullets towards the trees. I hoped that the Town Hall had a budget for vacuum cleaning because, alongside our fallen bullet shells, were the fallen pine needles. Hopefully nobody will be wondering around barefooted. The Tree lashed out with gigantic arm, smashing down onto the roof of the car, breaking the super glue bonds that held the 120mm M256 Smooth Bore Cannon to the roof. It rolled off the roof and bounced against the floor. "Activate the Toaster!" The Professor cried, beginning to lose faith in our supreme weapon.
On the press of a button, a jet of pure fire exploded from the bonnet and engulfed the tree in a burning inferno. The tree silently wailed, shaking in chaos as it tried to drop the fire from it's needles. Jumping from their van, the English Swat Equivalant discharged their guns, slaying the tree. That gave us a chance to sneak away, past a CCTV camera, the footage of which made an appearance on crime watch, disappearing into the dark of the night.
Aka student accommodation.

So there it is, the Paranormal Christmas Tree Agency- none of that Pine Resistance rubbish- vs the Firy of the Christmas Trees. Perhaps the most explosive of our exploits and certainly not the most strange. No, that would be an adventure at Halloween the year after...

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Firy of the Christmas Trees (part 3)

The only problem with a miraculous, brilliantly designed super weapon is that if someone- certainly not Steve, because he can't put a foot wrong- forgets to plug it in every week, it takes a good two hours before we can rush into action and save the world. So, what do a group of twenty year olds, waiting for a super weapon, do in their spare time?
"Christmas Tree 101." Professor Wendall J Orchard, the Pine Resistance's chief scientific advisor and purportedly responsible adult, announced. "Tree's take between 6 to 10 years to grow to the 4 or 5 foot height we've come to expect."
"Yeah," I said, "but there were some as tall as me, and they take 15 years to grow."
"They can't have been growing undetected." Steve pointed out.
He was right. I and Suzy had printed off fake council identification and then driven to every single Christmas Tree Farm in the entirety of the North. We had then had the great fun of pulling a section of needles from each tree on every farm and putting them in separate plastic bags, matching numbers on tags hanging to the trees to the numbers written on the bags. Then Orchard had carried a collection of tests that I had pretended to be interested in and, receiving the results, I, Suzy, David and a large chainsaw returned to the Christmas Tree Farms, all 39 farms, and David used the chainsaw to deal with any trees that had came up as positive for possessed genes. Unlucky Steve and Elise, however. They had to do the same with all Tree Farms shipping out to places in the north. Although, I imagine they probably enjoyed the trip abroad. Most students spend their summers drinking, partying and whatever it is cool people do. The Gang and I spend our summers cataloguing Christmas Trees. Still, we did find some very nice motorway cafes.
"What do you think then?" Suzy asked. "Some sort of miraculous new tree species?"
"Or illegal growers." David suggested.
We all looked at him.
"Illegal growers?" I frowned.
"Illegal growers?" Suzy exclaimed in distaste.
"Illegal growers?" Steve demanded.
"Producteur ill├ęgales?" Elise cried.
"Illegal growers." David attempted to justify himself.
"Illegal growers!" Professor Orchard cried, grinning. "Illegal Christmas Tree Growers! Imagine, drug dealers set up in a house to grow heroin or whatever your stereotypical drug of choice is."
"Calpol." I interjected to a range of quizzical looks.
"Now, let's say last year, when those big drug raids were going on, the dealers think: 'Ah! What do we do if they raid us?' so they go off to B&Q/Homebase/your generic Christmas Tree shop and buy a shedload. Because shops start selling them so early, they're on sale in October, and because it was before we began investigating trees, they get their hands on a couple of the habentes amients. Growing the trees, the entire stock becomes possessed and then, for some reason, they attack now."
"We're fighting Paranormal Christmas Trees that are high on drugs?" I asked.
"Grass, weed, why not Christmas Tree?" He grinned.
Once that was cleared up, we ended up sat around a table playing cards, because I always carry a pack with me. It's so I can make the joke, "I'm decked out with cool stuff!"

Eventually the charging was done. The led on the plug had flickered off and the many extension cords were to be rid of. David grabbed the long chain hanging from the ceiling and gave it a tug. The corrugated door rolled open and revealed the large canal path outside. "Let's do this." I cried.
Steve, the leader, pressed down on the acceleration and the ultimate weapon rolled forwards, out onto the river bank. We turned and drove up the large slope onto the road, turning. We had considered a tank, but our budget didn't stretch very far. Instead, we ended up with a pale blue Volvo 240 Estate. Salvaged from an actual tank, a 120mm M256 Smooth Bore Cannon was strapped to the roof, connected to a complicated firing system which had taken David many an hour to build. Sticking out of either sides were sawn off barrel toting rifles, loaded with 50 calibre bullets. A couple of guns had been connected to the bonnet, activated by pulling a rope looped around the triggers, and in the centre was a flame thrower. When we built a weapon, we built a weapon. (Which in hindsight is a stupid phrase, because if we hadn't built a weapon, we wouldn't have built the weapon to suggest we had in the first place. The English Language. I really don't know how I cope!)
We drove up the ramp and onto the road, the makeshift tank accelerating fast. Steve grabbed the radio transceiver and shouted, his voice amplified through the speakers on the roof, "Ready or not, trees! Here we come!"

Monday, 8 December 2014

Firy of the Christmas Trees (part 2)

"Steve! Get out quickly!" I cried, leaping back into the crash car as the Tree's roared towards me.
He groaned slightly, stretching in his confinement. "Can't I have another five minutes, Duncan?"
"No." I said. "We're about to be ripped apart by overly evil Christmas Trees, this isn't exactly the time for lying in. You too Elise. Quickly!"
We climbed out of the other side of the car as the Tree's came back for another turn, shredding the section of the car in which I and Steve had been slumped merely seconds earlier. We ran across the road towards the curb, leaping into the bushes and running until we came to a fence. My head, far above most others, stuck out of the bushes so I could see the Paranormal Christmas Tree's milling about, very pleased by the destruction they'd caused the car. As was the scene in most apocalypses, there was already a car on fire, sat just beyond our's. Screams played on the wind and wide spread disaster was beginning to set in. I think I could see a couple of smashed windows in the distance.
I turned back to Steve and Elise. "Right, somehow the Tree's have managed to amass their troops in such haste we haven't noticed. We need to get to the lockup so we can get the ultimate weapons and stop them before it's too late."
Steve looked at me. "I'm sorry, who died and put you in charge?"
This would be the point in the bestselling Scandinavian book series where I pulled a gun, shot him and then said, "You did!" But this is a poorly written exploit in a genre I don't think actually exists so I actually replied, "Sorry, Steve. What's the plan?"
"Right, here's the plan: we can't face this lot unless we have the ultimate weapons, so we need to get to the lockup to retrieve them and save the world."
"Not so much the world," Elise pointed out, "As the entirety of Accrington."
"It means the world to me, goddammit!" Steve cried.
"You need to get your priorities straight." I said.
"To the lockup!" Cried Steve, and we thundered through the overgrowth towards the lockup.

About halfway there, my phone began to ring. We hid in a bus shelter, not an easy thing to do when you reflect the Christmas Tree's were marching up and down the road and the Bus Shelters were all transparent, and I answered. "Hello, Duncan of the Paranormal Christmas Tree Agency speaking."
"Duncan, it's Suzy."
"Who is it?" Demanded Steve.
"Suzy." I told him.
"Why's she calling you?" He demanded back.
"Why are you calling me?" I relayed to her.
"Because I thought you may want to know we're heading to the lockup?"
"They're going to the lockup." I told Steve, holding my hand over the microphone at the bottom.
"No, I mean why isn't she calling me?" He demanded.
"He want's to know why you didn't call him." I told Suzy.
"Tell him that he left his phone at home."
"Look, I'm just going to put it on Speaker Phone." I said.
"NO!" They both screamed. I looked at Steve for explanation.
"The Christmas Tree's may be listening to our plans."
"And I'm sure if they are," I said, "They'll be more than distracted by the way we look like an odd version of the Apprentice to be eavesdropping."
"No means no, Duncan." Steve protested.
"Fair enough." I replied. "But I'm just saying, I doubt Wild Christmas Tree's have ears."
"We do actually." Cried the Christmas Tree's who'd sneaked up on us.
"Leg it!" I cried.
"I'm sorry," Steve asked, "Who's in charge here?"
"Priorities, Steve,  priorities."
We legged it out of the bus shelter and ran down the street towards the Aqueduct. Passing under it, we ran further and further until the glorious sight of Oswald and Twistle Mills crept over the horizon and we knew we'd made it. The Hoard's of Tree's were far behind us by the time we rushed into the Lockup on the bank. Suzy, David and the Professor were already inside as we barged through the doors and we all gave each other high fives, celebrating the fact we had survived so far. But the hardest was to come.
Next, we were to take on the Firy of the Christmas Trees!
(See what I did there?)

Monday, 1 December 2014

Firy of the Christmas Trees

"Where's the Professor?" Cried Suzy, running into the front room with her collected coursework gripped tightly in one hand.
"Nutjob's Anonymous." I replied, staring intently at the game of Operation that I and Steve had been playing for the last twenty minutes.
"Not again!" Suzy cried. "People are going to start believing he's one of the Nutjob's, when he actually runs it!"
"Suzy, he may run it, but he almost certainly is one of the Nutjob's." I said. "Why do you want to know anyway?"
"He said he would have a look at my coursework before I handed it in."
"And you're wondering why he's suddenly spending so much time at his Youth Clubs for Lunatics? Reading your work would be worse than being locked in an asylum!" Steve cried.
"Rude." She said and slumped down to the sofa.
"Unfortunately, that's life." He grinned, as I reminded him for the twentieth time that it was now his go.
"Alright, alright." He chimed, impatiently. He reached for the Butterflies in the Stomach but Suzy jumped forwards and grasped his shoulders with her hands, causing the red nose to flare into life.
"Suzy!" He cried, turning to her irritated. "I was almost going to win!" He turned to me. "It doesn't count, because it's unfair."
Suzy grasped his shoulders again. "Unfortunately, that's life."

The Pine Resistance- aka the Paranormal Christmas Tree Agency to anybody with taste- was a year old that month. It was also a year since a possessed branch had jumped out of the undergrowth and attempted to strangle me to death. My neck had almost fully healed, but I still had to go to the hospital occasionally. We'd discovered a lot about the Christmas Tree's in the year and had managed to devise the perfect weapons against them. Sadly, because of the law- that pesky thing! It always get's in the way- we weren't allowed to keep these weapons in the house, rather in a dull storage facility about half a mile away, which wouldn't be too useful in the event of a widespread apocalypse.
Although I imagine that in the case of a widespread apocalypse, we may be slightly more concerned about the widespread apocalypse rather than the bus journey to the weapon storage.

As I said, I still had to go to the hospital occasionally, and the day after the Event of the Operation Sabotage was one of those days I had to visit. Steve, the only one of us who owned a car, offered me a trip and I accepted, but then began to wish I hadn't when I discovered his girlfriend, Elise O'Hallain, was tagging along with us. I had nothing against Elise, she was a suitably pleasant human being, but the way in which she and Steve flirted in varying languages was simply quite irritating. It was like having a vacuum cleaner's nozzle forced up one of your nostrils then turned on and off repetitively whilst some terrible music- such as Black Lace's Agadoo- played forever as a hideous remix from every single corner of a room painted a sickening shade of orange. Actually, looking back at that comparison, I can tell why my parent's volunteered me for counselling when I was six. The car came to a stop in the hospital car park and Steve almost had a heart attack at the price of the parking tickets. I told him that a hospital would be the perfect place to have one. He looked at me with all the amazement of a sedated goat. The three of us hopped up the curving stairs and passed the barrage of ambulances to get to the big entrance. I waved at the receptionist who knew me quite well by now and she told me that Doctor Rasheed was ready for me. I went through and met him, sitting down on the uncomfortable chair to the side of his desk. He had a nearly bold head and a flower of grey hair expelling from the corners of his head. He asked me some questions and then began to squeeze my neck. "Has it been hurting?" He asked.
"Yes." I replied.
"What does it feel like?"
"Someone taking his fingers and squeezing my neck twice a month."
"You are a very sarcastic man."
"Thank you." I smiled.
"It wasn't a compliment."

Once he'd finished causing me pain and asking me if I had experienced any, I was released with some painkillers and told that I shouldn't return. I asked what I should do if my foot fell off. Rasheed told me it was unlikely and left me at that. I found Elise and Steve in the waiting room, flirting and so I held my hands over my ears as I told them we were ready to go. We climbed into the blue Citroen Saxo, perching on the particularly comfortable covered seating and once more I couldn't help but wonder what the point of having seat covers was. Out of annoyance, I finally asked.
Steve, looking at me through the mirror with the pity in his eyes, replied, "To stop the seats from getting dirty."
I looked at him scrupulously. "But what's the point, because you're never going to see the seats if they're always covered."
He was just about to give me a reply when the car rolled and the roof and windows crushed slightly. There was a pattering blinded to me slightly by the throbbing in my mind and ears but it slowly got louder. I swung myself around and used both legs to kick out one of the windows, three, four, five times. The window smashed and I crawled out and then instantly felt myself with fear. For storming over the car, as furious as the agents of the Devil they were, were a hoard of Paranormal Christmas Trees. And they all turned to face me.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Mothballs: Iron Path to the Black Forest (part 4)

It seemed as if every carriage on the train had been occupied by White Hoods, armed with thin hammers. With almighty swings, the White Hoods smashed the windows and picked up large pieces of machinery. Spinning barrels firing storms of projectiles sat on tripods, resting on the jagged frame that looked out at the darkness engulfing the forest. When the first Hood pulled their trigger, it was nothing but the ricker rack of gunfire for the rest of the night.
The Laurisden's were falling through the air, the Obscured Man's carriage far out of sight by the time they tumbled into the icy slush of the sloped sides. They rolled through the sludge, falling into a wiry net of brambles. They crushed a bushel of blackberries, spilling the inky juice through the snow. From a far, it may have appeared they'd been shot and killed, but they were very much alive. The three of them rolled to a stop and began to sink slowly into the new patch of snow they'd landed on, their bodies numbing in the cold. Bullets flew above them, pulling chips from the trees, but Aksel- who had studied the route the train took quite intently- knew any second the train would dip, allowing for more accurate fire. "We've got move into the forest. It's safer."
Septimus pulled himself up, Verity too, and they began to trek inside the forest, ducking beneath the spray of lead projectiles. The ground was tricky beneath their feet, at first crackly as broken leaves were finished off but then softer as their feet broke through the snow and the ice into the slippery mud  that lay beneath. The trees grew taller above them as they ran, their empty branches still blocking the last dregs of sunlight from the nights sky. The Laurisden's ran quickly through the dying light, kicking up globules of snow and leaf, scratching themselves as they raced through a bare bush, luckily not finding any bears inside it. It seemed to stretch on forever, the bush that is, until it spat them out. In front of a new pieces of railway.
The train raced in front of them, whipping up leaves and plastering the trees and bush behind them with bullet holes. The Laurisden's had dropped to the floor to escape the wrath, but they could feel it's rumbling penetrating the ground below them. The train seemed to go on forever until it disappeared beyond the trees, and the Laursiden's continued across the ever quivering lines and into the forest beyond. They delved further into the Black Forest, searching for separation from the loud clacking of the train, but it always seemed to catch up with them on tracks that Aksel didn't know existed. They'd passed endless tracks and dropped to the snow laid floor so many times that they were dripping wet and freezing, every inch of their dirtied skin prickled with the customary goose bumps that seem to travel with the cold like pilot fish with sharks. They collapsed and felt the snow beneath them soak in their clothes, freezing their skin. The three of them sunk down as the snow melted beneath their non existent body heat. A sharp feeling etched into Verity's shoulder, causing her to give a sudden scream.  Aksel and Septimus hurried over as she moved out of the way. There was nothing, no- what was that? It looked like a thin plate made of snow. And then it began to quiver and rumble, as vibrations raced through it. Little sheets of snow fell off and suddenly the train was in sight. The Laurisden's leap over the line and ran into the open beyond, their tired bodies struggling to carry on. The explosions of firing bullets remained present in their ears at all times and then suddenly Aksel screamed, falling to the floor. Liquid gushed from his right shoulder as he squirmed in pain. The snow was red, and it was't with squashed blackberry.

The Laurisden's will return

Monday, 17 November 2014

Mothballs: Iron Path to the Black Forest (part 3)

"Carriage 15!" Cried Septimus. He straightened his useless goggles and jumped down, Aksel ready to follow behind him. They landed with a thump and Septimus instantly drew his spanner and began to work on the door. He levered it around and around and then the handle fell out as the door clicked open. He pushed it open and stepped in. Aksel, wishing the freezing cold good riddance, walked in and then saw why his brother had frozen before him. A hoard of White Hooded Men, the carriers of the dead from Madame Bazarian's Freak Show, held guns, two facing towards the brothers and the third placed directly against Verity's head. "You let her go!" Aksel screamed, but was silenced immediately by the unwavering pose of the gun.
"Or what, young Mr Laurisden?" Asked a voice from the back of the room. He shivered. It was that of the Obscured Man, the voice of the devil incarnate to the Laurisdens. Aksel searched the room for the source of the voice and saw it was emerging from behind a straw veil facade in the far corner. Flickering bulbs in white lamps hung from the ceiling, illuminating mock bookcases on the walls. Oak desks were positioned all around the room, holding leather rectangles and open books, ink fountain pens positioned randomly. In one corner there was a piano with a seat in front of it, next to a oak stove. First class was considerably nicer than the coal carriage they'd been staying in.
Aksel didn't have a reply, but the Obscured Man seemed to. "Exactly as I expected. You are simply disappointing."
"Tell me, what was your plan when you finally got here?" The Obscured Man demanded.
"To make you give us Sebastian." Septimus said.
"Why do you care about the cow so much?"
"Why do you?" Aksel instantly retorted.
"Clever answer. Mine is equally clever. You, Aksel Laurisden. You are a genius. How in the name of sanity did you manage to create a device that could make a cow talk?"
Aksel didn't answer. To answer would be what the Obscured Man wanted.
"It really is quite clever. And think of all your potential! All of this, it's a trap for you."
The old mission statement. Let them two get away, protect them. Three, two, one. He charged forwards, knocking the barrels of the guns to one side, grabbing Verity and throwing her out of the shot of the gun. It exploded a loud shot, tearing chunks out of the wall. All three White Hoods fell to the floor quickly and Septimus barged into the straw veil. He knocked it over hoping to catch the Obscured Man, but instead revealed a gramophone. "He was never in the room." He cried. "He'd already written the script." He turned to Aksel. "Much like you."
"Great minds think alike."
"Don't compliment the villain." Verity said.
The carriage shuddered. "What was that?" Aksel demanded. It shuddered again and the windows to the left smashed and more White Hoods jumped in. Verity, Aksel and Septimus jumped out of the right into the Black Forest to the sound of the gunfire.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Mothballs: Iron Path to the Black Forest (part 2)

Septimus swung the makeshift hook and straightened the rope, grinning. He stretched out his foot and kicked the window open, tossing the hook out and swinging it. The first swing, it failed. He swung again and failed to catch it. He tossed it up and heard the piece of metal from the spade clank onto the roof. He pulled the rope till it was fully stretched and then edged his way out of the tiny window. He thanked God for his makeshift goggles as they prevented a large pebble from piercing his eyes.
With all the skill and grace of a paralysed barnacle, he clambered onto the roof and dug his fingers into the roof. Verity came next, almost falling from the window, but one of Septimus' long, muscular arms grabbed her and heaved her up. She struggled on and glared at him, as Aksel wormed himself up as well. The wind pulled at their clothes, ripping at their hair and spattering against their goggles. Septum struggled to clamber to his feet, but as he moved, a gust of wind nearly made him fall back down. With his long fingers, he began to pull himself forwards and then climbed up, staggering through the darkness. He could hear Aksel and Verity's footsteps being pulled away by the wind.
They ran quickly but suddenly the train turned in a strange direction, sending them tumbling. Aksel flew off the side of the train but threw the hook quickly, tugging into the train and smashing into the side. As the passengers in the side of the carriage turned to look, they saw two pairs of legs scrambling up onto the roof. His body ached as he climbed up and he imagined that without Verity's childish lack of strength, he wouldn't have been able to get back up again. They continued down the train until it suddenly jolted onto the bridge and they all fell forwards. Verity stumbled down a gap between two carriages and merely her screams of terror, apprehension at being lost forever from her brothers, warned them that she'd fallen.
"Where is she?" Septimus cried, the howling winds ripping at his voice.
"I think she fell." Aksel replied, water beginning to dampen the interior of his goggles. "We need to go back for her."
Another twist in the bridge sent them both tumbling, cracking one of Septimus' lenses. "We can barely make the way ourselves." He thought a second. "Verity can you hear me?"
A muted shout replied, "Yes, I'm down here!"
Septimus cupped his hands around his mouth. "You need to make your way through the carriages. Your rucksack should have some tools in it. Use them how I showed you."
"Where should I go?"
Septimus had noticed when they first boarded that the number of each carriage was in the back right corner of the carriage painted in white numbering in the middle of a crimson square. He quickly checked it, carriage 24, and he shouted, "Carriage 15. That's the beginning of First Class, so that's where we'll meet you. Good luck."
"Thanks!" She shouted and was gone. Septimus and Aksel clambered up, the wind stinging at their now exposed eyes, and blistering their faces with salt. They began to run but found their selves weighed down by the wind and the cold. Aksel overtook Septimus and felt the tip of his toes pointing over the end of a carriage. Septimus ran into him and cried in shock as Aksel flailed his hands in a mad attempt to balance. Septimus put his hands on Aksel's shoulders and steadied him, and Aksel felt a tear trickle from his eye. His father had done that once, before it had all got too much. Septimus was similar in so many ways, the jutting chin, insatiable curiosity and tinkering. Too similar.
Steadied but not as aware as they'd want to be, the two Laurisden's continued across the train in the darkness, the shadow of the Black Forest far in front.

Below them, Verity stumbled through the carriages, avoiding the curious glare of the seated passengers. Every time she opened the door at the end and stepped into the next, she looked up into the dark chill and wondered whether Aksel and Septimus were jumping over head, progressing through the dark. She opened a door and stumbled into the next carriage, the lull returning and light burning her eyes. When the fizzles of light broke away, her sockets opened wider and wider. There in front was Sebastian. That was the good news which made her smile. Immediately her grin died as she saw the bad news. The White Hooded Men who guarded him.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Mothballs: Iron Path to the Black Forest

Aksel Laurisden had heard many tales about exotic travellers in faraway lands and, despite being reasonably clever, he'd always believed they could be true. Since they'd sold their every belonging to fund their pursuit of the Obscured Man, he'd discovered the ugly truth. They weren't.
Verity, his little sister, had been struggling to sleep. As Septimus, his older brother, had reminded him during those rare seconds of rest bite whilst Verity found the path to dreamland, she had always been closest to Sebastian, their pet cow.
The bouncing of the carriage on the rails of pure iron had managed to lull Verity asleep, and she lay under a rough blanket on the cold metal floor, her chest rising and falling with dainty movements. Aksel and Septimus had taken blocks of coal from the mound in the corner of the carriage they were stowed away in and used them to sketch images, from the hastily packed blue prints that Septimus had stuffed his bag with, onto the white panelled walls of the carriage. "Are you sure you heard nothing?" Aksel said.
"I'm sure. Why they're so interested in the speech collar I've no idea." Septimus replied. He smiled at the brilliantly redrawn blueprint, before turning his attention to a selection of maps he'd pinned to the floor. "According to our research, the Obscured Man took a hidden route to Germany, intending to board the train on the other side of the Canal d'Alsace. Our train stops just before the bridge in about an hour and by midnight we'll be over the bridge and pulling to a halt outside the train station. The train then stops and doesn't start till midday. Furthermore, the Obscured Man is expected to get off at the station after. The distance between is a days travel meaning we have a day to track him down and make him tell us where Sebastian is."
There was a scream behind them and they spun to see Verity waking up. Aksel rushed over and knelt down. "Are you ok?"
"Yeah, I've just had that nightmare again." She wiped a veil of sweat from her forehead and climbed up. "What's the plan then?"
Septimus repeated what he'd just said and then explained the plan itself. "When we stop just before the bridge, we jump off the train, leg it up the side and climb aboard at the back of first class. The Obscured Man is meant to be quite wealthy, so that's where will find him."
"What if the train sets off without us?" Asked Verity.
"I doubt it, and I'm sure we could find someway to get back on." Septimus replied, but he was as early as confident as he sounded.

An hour passed but there was no sign of slowing down. Septimus flipped open his fathers pocket watch to reassure himself. There was a skeleton key tightened to the chain, a faithful reminder that Time is the Key, and his finger graced against it as he moved up to straighten his hat. There was a box leading from one corner of the room to the other along the joust. Inside were several taunt wires. The taunt wires vibrated with messages, resent at checkpoints dotted along every three carriages. Septimus had spent the first two days they'd been on the train designing and building a device to read the wires and he applied it to them as a new message rattled through. "They're not stopping."
"What!" Aksel cried. "Why?"
Septimus retuned his gadget. "An anonymous passenger requested for them to hurry to the bridge."
"The Obscured Man." Aksel realised.
"But we won't be able to get to the front unless we do it now." Verity said.
Septimus estimated the odds in his head. "Aksel, did you bring the goggles?"
"Yes, why?" Aksel replied.
"We're going to need something to keep the smoke from our eyes."
"Why?" Demanded Verity. "Why would there be smoke in our eyes?"
"Because we're going over the top. We need to run across the top of the train."

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Fandoms against cyberbullying

IT homework! It's probably the best of all homework, or so I think. It gives you a chance to use your imagination and express yourself, something that other subjects seem to want to prevent you from doing. My IT homework for this holiday was to make an advertisement about Cyberbullying. Which is why I created Fandoms Against Cyberbullying! Beneath you can find the kind of posters I made and feel free to share them with #FandomsVCyberbullying or share your own and include the hashtag. We need to get this trending, because Cyberbullying is wrong, and it's about time that Fandoms stood up to them!




Friday, 31 October 2014

The Haunting of Benjamin Creed

“Aye, it’s all done now, sir.” Said the fumigator. He was a mid height man with a dodgy accent, and his white suit included one of those masks you see people wearing when they spray paint cars, which only went to muffle his voice further.
“Good, good.” Replied Benjamin Creed. The years had been good to him personally, but not too good for his health. Thousands of hot dinners with extra trimmings and beer had left him with a tyre shape wealth of fat around his waist, and the inability to go more than a mile without his face flushing red. Even worse, however, he’d often noticed a small gap growing in the centre of his scalp, where his once voluminous amount of hair was beginning to ware away. He’d noticed that it was thinning and greying, but this black hole of sorts was even worse. “That’s an awful lot of equipment for some fumigators.”
“Not for the prices you’re paying them.” His wife Lucinda snapped. She didn’t have any complaints about him paying large amounts of money, she just didn’t like it when the money was spent on someone other than her. She was towering over him and had a tendency to wear dresses that made her look like she was mourning, and cause her to be mourning if someone was to point that out.
“Shush Lucinda.” Benjamin said, instantly regretting it. He felt a great pang burn into the back of his head, and reflected why he was going bald was quite obvious.
“It’s a pleasure doing business with you.” The fumigator said, accepting the money in cash, and climbing into his black van. He couldn’t wait to get out of there, there was an eerie feel, but the long path beneath the tunnel of overhanging trees made it an unpleasant escape. There was a mile between the front of the mansion and the golden gates that entered out onto the private road which led between the mountains. As secluded manor houses go, that place would win awards. Everybody knew why it was so secluded, and had all those German Shepard's and rifles. But nobody would dare say why.

Six months passed like excitement of getting something you deeply wanted but didn’t need, and yet the fungus that the fumigators had eradicated didn’t come back. Lucinda realised they had done quite a good job, but she wouldn’t dare admit it, as that would mean she was accepting she was wrong. Her private car, a black BMW with blacked out windows, had delivered her into town that morning so that she good spend Benjamin’s money, all in cash that was stored behind the wall in the living room, on frocks and shoes she’d wear maybe once. As her chauffeur, the new one because the old guy had gone for an extended holiday, drove her down the mile and into the swinging arch in front of the mansion, she saw a collection of black Jaguars parked outside. She inhaled deeply.
The DeMattio’s.
They were the big family who owned most of the city. The commanding male figure was Luca DeMattio, an Italian immigrant who had moved here with his brothers in the 90’s. He was married to the closest thing Lucinda was one of his wives friends, which was how she’d met Benjamin at one of their parties. Benjamin was one of the DeMattio’s artists, until he’d been promoted to look after and restore the famous art that the DeMattio Brothers owned. He’d made a lot of money which was how he bought the great mansion in front of her. It was unlike Luca DeMattio to ever leave his Househole, nowadays he preferred to send his sons everywhere, but sure enough, the Stygian Beauty was parked outside the mansion that day.
She rushed in and found Benjamin and DeMattio in the drawing room with a hoard of his thugs, sons and brothers around him. Benjamin looked as if he was about to gulp. “Mr DeMattio, I would be honoured to do that for you. Please, give me the opportunity.”
“You would do wrong to fail me, Mr Creed.” DeMattio said. Despite having lived in England for twenty years, he still clung desperately to his Italian accent. It made him more threatening.
“How is your wife?” He asked.
“She’s fine, thank you.” Benjamin stuttered, despite Lucinda being stood directly next to him. 
“Good, I’d hate any harm to come to her.”
With that, he walked out, his assortment of accompanying people following. Benjamin was left in the armchair, shaking, although whether it was with fear or excitement he couldn’t tell. “He’s asked me to sell a painting for him. For 2.3 million.”
A smirk grew over Lucinda’s face, casting away any doubts about the tone of falseness in his voice. Think of all the dresses she could buy with that.

That night, Lucinda went to have her shower. She was stood beneath the jets of hot water when she looked down and saw the bottom of the separate shower was painted with blood. And crawling in the blood was a spider. She screamed, tripping out of the shower and falling to the floor. Benjamin rushed in and saw the scene in the shower. “Holy Jesus and Mary.” He muttered, a converted Catholic since his association with the DeMattio’s. He grabbed a flannel and used it to crush the spider into the bottom of the shower, watching as the blood engulfed it. He then washed the blood away and led his wife from the bathroom. He didn’t let on, but he was shivering again, with fear.
The following morning, he went into the bathroom to take a shower. He pulled open the steamed up glass door to the showering room and saw a giant spiders web stretching all over the room. He cursed and turned on the water supply and watched it being flushed down the drain. He spat on it to help it’s journey.
That night, there was no problem with the shower. Both of them washed quite successfully and climbed into bed. They spent an hour watching television on one of the twenty flat screen TV’s they had in the house and then turned it and the lights off, sinking into slumber. As Benjamin felt the first  drug of slumber drag him down, there was a deep thump beneath them. He ignored it, but again there was another. He tried to ignore that, but it got stronger and louder. He climbed out of bed and hurried downstairs, the throbbing getting louder and louder. And then, as he barged the door to the room below open, it stopped. He searched the room and then closed the door, only for the beating to start again. He opened the double doors and it stopped. Irritated, but a puzzle solver nonetheless, he left the doors open and returned to bed. As he tucked himself in, rolled over and closed his eyes, the beating began again as a shallow throb in the room upstairs. He put some cotton buds in his ears and went to sleep.
The next night, he fell asleep, having left the doors to the room above and below open. But then a glow played with the skin on the front of his eye lids and he began to shake. 
“What the hell is that?” He screamed. Furious, he climbed out of bed and marched towards the source of the glow, seeping in beneath the door. He threw open the door and he was blinded by a white flash. He fell back, smashing his head against the bed cabinet. His eyes reeled and he kicked the door shut. He flailed around on the floor and then that infernal drumming began to pick up from everything and everywhere. He screamed and crawled towards the door, as the green glow seeped through the bottom of the door. Benjamin pulled himself up, grabbed the handle and ripped it open. Silence. Darkness. As if it was all in his head. He really wished it wasn’t.

Lucinda was sat in the study, looking out at the tunnel of overhanging trees. It was the day of the big transaction.  Benjamin and host of DeMattio’s men had left the house in a rush that morning, driving their procession of black cars, each with tinted windows. Sometimes she joked that the windows were tinted so that the drug addicts wouldn’t see the dealer until it was too late, but that was usually met with a frown of disapproval. She’d had a member of staff make her some food and carry it up to the study, where she sat, looking out of the circular window, searching for the first signs of the cars returning. She saw that sign too early in the afternoon, as the cars accelerated too quickly down the little tunnel and into the drive. Seven had gone.
Six had come back.
She rushed down the great marble stair cases and into the hall as one of DeMattio’s men threw Benjamin threw the grand doors at the front and to the ground. “You stupid man! What in the name of the Virgin Mary did you think you were doing?”
“I’m sorry,  he just went for his gun and I got there first!”
“It was a cop you moron! You a cop killer now? Is that what you think we do?”
“I’m sorry!” Benjamin pleaded.
DeMattio’s man delivered a blow to his stomach. “You stupid man! That guy had kids and a family! Do you want to rob them? You are taking their only income! You should have got outta there, man!” Another kick.
DeMattio’s man pulled him up and took him into the kitchen, throwing him into the counter. “You idiot! You blinking idiot! Pedro, get me some soap!”
Pedro ran off and came back with a block of soap. DeMattio’s man took it and smudged it into Benjamin’s face, before pushing his face and hands into the sink and running a stream of steaming hot water. He rubbed and rubbed and for the second time, the water in that house was bloody. Once DeMattio’s man was sufficiently gratified, he pulled Benjamin out of the sink and threw him to the cold, stone floor. “Wait till I tell Luca DeMattio about this, amici,” the man chuckled, “he ain’t gonna be pleased!”
With that, DeMattio’s men marched out and Benjamin was left on the floor, panting for forgiveness.
Lucinda stepped in from where she was hiding and saw that light the water, Benjamin’s shirt was dyed red. By blood.

A few days past of seclusion induced paranoia, and Benjamin was looking worse for wear. More and more of his hair had fallen out, and the remaining strands were now grey with stress. His eyes were heavy and drawn, and the stubble beneath his nose was longer and dirtier. He hadn’t changed his clothes in the few days, simply sitting in a chair and muttering to himself, dark and neglected murmurings. Occasionally, Lucinda would try to talk to him, but that had resulted in the bruises and cuts that surrounded her eyes. She looked gaunt and hanging on decrepit now, the food having already run out, leaving her starving as Benjamin refused to let her leave the house.
Eventually, Benjamin decided to get up and go to bed, but as he washed his hands, blood oozed from the taps and covered his hands. Lucinda found him in the corner of the bathroom, cowering from his own hands that were splayed out before him, dripping. 
She cleaned his hands and took him to bed, holding back tears every time he lashed out and hit her. Then she put him in bed and turned out the lights. He writhed and turned and sweated in his sleep, so much that the bed shook and became damp. And then the giggling began. It was quiet at first, whispering it’s way around the room, until it amplified and began to giggle directly into Benjamin’s ear. He jerked up and heard the giggling run to the door, which slammed shut. He spun out of bed and ran to the door, grabbing the handle. It was slippy, but he managed to rip it open. He burst out into the corridor as something swooped past him, knocking him to the ground. The giggles got louder and louder, until they turned into cries. A similar green glow opened up at the far end of the hall. He trailed towards it, until it flared into bright lights. He fell back and two figures emerged. Children. Crying children. “You killed our farther.” The Girl cried.
“And in turn our mother.” The Boy sobbed.
“I did no such thing.” Benjamin protested, his voice quaking.
They crept towards him. “You have left us to poverty. We will no doubt die soon, all your fault.”
“I’m sorry.” Benjamin moaned. “I’m so sorry.”
“If you were really sorry, you never would have killed my father.” The Girl said.
“I didn’t. I really didn’t.” Benjamin lied.
The children became dark and menacing phantoms, hanging over him with a vengeance. “Then why is his blood on your hands?”
Benjamin looked down and saw his hands were covered in blood. He screamed and ran to the bathroom to wash the blood from his hand and calm himself. He threw open the door and saw that the entire room was filled with spiders and spiderwebs. He screamed as his skin crawled and then raced out, itching, roaring through the corridors and out into the biting winds of the night. The gravel that Lucinda had insisted he covered the drive in bit into his feet, drawing blood, and the cold of the winter night rippled his flesh with goosebumps. The darkness of the seclusion and the silence of the night meant he could see and hear nothing except the desperate pumping of his clogged up heart, and the blood rushing through his ears. He broke into the forest that lined the road out, and long branches tore at his skin and pinged at his eyes. Beneath him, dying leaves broke apart beneath his feet. He smashed his head into a large hanging log, and a swelling grew. Blood trickled down his face and screamed. Then he heard the padding of multiple footsteps behind him and the howl of dogs on his tail. The German Shepherds that normally protected him were now hunting him down. They moved quickly, ducking under there trees that ripped skin from Benjamin’s arms. They caught up, moving quicker than he could possibly expect, and launched onto him, but he stepped back and fell. The pounding in his ears stopped, the rushing of his blood stopped as well. He simply fell and fell until he hit the ground and his back screamed in pain. But at least the dogs couldn’t get him. As he lay in silence, darkness and calm, he felt no upset. He was safe down here, in the darkness. Thank goodness!
A green glow opened, and then suddenly it exploded into white light that burnt his eyes and the beating throb of those infernal drums filled his ears. The two children stepped out in front of him and grabbed either of his arms, raising his hands to show them to him. They were dripping with the blood of the man he killed. The white light hurting his eyes, it then went all black.

The Ghost Boy released the arm and put gaffa tape over Benjamin’s mouth. He signalled for the lights to be turned down and they were, the flood lights disappearing and normal lights taking their place. He pulled off his costume and smiled at the Girl, Joan. “We did it!” He cried.
“Indeed we did, Spud.” She smiled.
“Your time with Peter is showing.” He pointed out as they climbed a ladder up into the forest and walked down the road to the house. Miss DeMode and a ground of Occult Bailiffs were stood around their vans in front of the house. “Is it done?” Miss DeMode asked.
“It is.” Joan grinned.
And so the Occult moved in…

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

The Four Jacks (part four)

//This post contains the answers to the titular magic trick, so don't read if you wish to avoid spoilers.// "Are you sure about this?" I asked the Infamous Blackburn. "A lot could go wrong."
"They say that about being a lollypop man/woman but it never deters them."
I gave him a sceptical stare, and then knocked on the glass window. Katie, sat in the hub of the helicopter, turned to look at me. "Shall we be off?"
"Yep." I replied.
She nodded and switched the engine on. "Next stop, the house of Charles Desole."
With a quick swinging of the propeller blades above us, the helicopter and the four of us were in the air. Jimmy grinned, "This was my first magic trick, so I guess it's appropriate it might be our last."
"What a lovely thought." I said.
The Four Jacks was one of the most famous card tricks that available to the general public. You perform it quite simply, with the main misdirection being in the story telling. The idea is, there are four robbers, in the form of the four jacks, and they plan to break into a building, just as we did.
The trick begins with the four jacks being shown to the audience, which is what we did, landing on top of Charles Desole's house and flaunting at the police below. The magic of the trick happened right then. The audience thinks that the magician puts four jacks on top of the deck, and so the police think that there are four jacks on top of the building, but in all reality, the magician has placed seven, as had we.
Desole had three members of staff, who were all going on their holidays a week before the break in, so we replaced them with three of our people. Desole predictably made his way up stairs to find our three members of staff tied to the floor. When he knelt down to untie them, a gas was released from the roof that caused him to fall unconscious. Then our insiders climbed up and knocked him unconscious also.  All the while, we're distracting the police by landing on the roof. There was no clock in the room where Desole was tied up, because then he couldn’t tell the police when he was knocked unconscious, thus ruining the illusion.
The second stage, which I guess I’ve already covered, is the infiltration of the deck. Three cards are taken from the top of the deck and placed at random intervals, one to represent the thief at the  basement, one to represent the thief at the ground floor and the third to represent the thief at the first floor. The magician would state that the three jacks had split throughout the house, and that one had remained on top as a sentry. In reality, the four jacks were still on top, and the decoys were split throughout the deck. Exactly what was happening as I think. 
Our decoy servants quickly ransacked the different floors of the house, messing the cheap stuff up and taking what was expensive, carrying it up and stuffing it into the helicopter before returning to Desole and tying themselves to the floor as the police officers entered. The trick ends with the four jacks remaining at the top revealing themselves, and that’s what we did, flying away as the police burst out.
I remember the Infamous Blackburn summing it up with the words, “We may not be Oceans Eleven, but boy are we good!”

We went for a Chinese afterwards, as what else are you going to do after you’ve pulled off a heist? Once that was finished, we went our separate ways, until we united at the studios to do the commentary for the show. It was during this that the Infamous Blackburn pointed out we hadn’t humiliated any police officers, so I vowed to do it, and I knew just how. We had a spy at the station and we got them to suggest that the culprit was a magician, and that it would be a good idea to investigate any magicians in the area, aka me! We staged the theatre so that when the policeman entered, we were in the lobby. 
I saw him enter, but I didn’t trust my faceblindness not to mess it up, so I strolled over to him and said, “You a policeman?”
“I don’t wear the stab vest and high vis jacket for fun.” He replied.
“Because I asked nicely.”
“Yes I am.” He replied.
“Hello Aaron, it’s nice to meet you.” I said.
“Well of course I could tell you, but it doesn’t mean you’ll believe me, and it certainly doesn’t mean that I have to.” I replied, resisting the temptation to wag my finger.
“The world isn’t, Aaron. The world isn’t.”
“I’m afraid you’re going to have to come with me to the station.” He said.

“Lend me your warrant, please.” I said, putting my hand out.
“Why?”
I could tell he was curious as he begrudgingly handed it over, and I took his attention with me as I strolled over to the girl behind the desk. I’d briefed her, and told her to listen to me briefly, then look at the policeman, then me and then at the doors. She then pressed a green button and the doors clicked open. I slid the badge and card out of the wallet and swapped it for a My Little Pony membership card. Then I closed the wallet, handed it back and led him into the auditorium. I’d read his name from his card, and said, “I presume that you’re Aaron Cox.”
“Sir, you’re meant to call me PC Cox.”
I smirked. “I’ll call you Aaron, and you can call me Mr Fletcher.”
“Mr Fletcher, can you tell me where you were in the early morning of the 29th of September 2014?”
“I’m afraid I can’t.” I said, watching him realise that I had a selective memory, before adding, “You couldn’t believe me, you see.”
“Then you could tell me.”
“You’re not being extremely helpful.”
“Sure.” I smiled.
“You’re not going to put up a fuss?” He asked, surprised.
“No, of course not.” I grinned. “Cause then you’ll just cuff me, and that would be a waste of time.”
Little did he know, there was a camera man filming the entire thing.

I embarrassed him at the station so much that he was suspended, and when he came back in revenge, I decided to put him out of his misery. “Is that Aaron?” I asked.
“No, Mr Fletcher. It’s PC Cox.” He replied, angrily."Is that Aaron?" He asked, as I thundered up the steps.
"Down with the formalities. It's Aaron, isn't it. Tell me, did you find your robbers?"
"No." He replied.
"Of course not, because there are no robbers."
"What do you mean there are no robbers?"
"I'm afraid I shan't be saying anymore unless you show me a warrant." I replied, smirking.
"Well, luckily for you, I have one with me." He said and whipped my card from my pocket.
I looked it up and down. "Don't take any offence here, please, but I don't like My Little Ponies."
Cox frowned and then turned the card. My Little Pony membership card. "What?" He said, searching through his pockets, but I couldn't find my card. "What have you done?"
"Breathed, a lot." I replied.
"I mean to my card." He exclaimed.
"Oh! I thought you meant over my entire life span. Well, I just handed it back then, if that's what you mean."
"Why are you so arrogant?" He demanded.
"Is that an official statement?" I asked, patronisingly.
"No." He said, his gaze to my eyes not wavering.
"Well, the answer is quite simple." I replied, giving in. "I and my friends Jimmy, Katie Morrissey and the Infamous Blackburn broke into the building, humiliated the Lancashire Constabulary and got away with it."
"What?" He demanded.
I gestured for a camera man to step from the wings, revealing he was filming our every moments. "Smile at the camera." I exclaimed, grinning.


The Infamous Blackburn and Fletcher will return at some point next year…

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

The Four Jacks (part 3)

//The following post contains an explanation of an iconic magic trick. Don't read if you wish to avoid spoilers!//
 "I'm sorry." I said. "Do I know you?"
"No, Mr Fletcher." The lady in the red dress said. "I'm just one of your fans. I work for Channel Four, in the department that deals with shows on Magic. We're thinking of a doing a show about magic and crime, and we'd like to recruit you."
I grinned and sat down in the lobby of the Channel Four building. "Tell me more."

Katie Morrissey was one of the best escapologists the country had to offer. I'd worked with her just the once on a group magician performance and it had been brilliant. The final trick that we had done was a recreation of Houdini's Water Chamber trick. I grinned at the memory of it. The crowd of a 1000 had expected Katie to do the trick, but instead I had, which had made it all the more impressive when I'd appeared at the back of the theatre and ran forward as she kicked open the chamber and climbed out. Of course, the magic trick was quite simply, even if it worked in a slightly different way to the original. At the beginning, I was lowered into the water, suspended by the ankles and as the locks on the top were locked, the locks on the bottom unclipped. Then Katie dropped a sheet was dropped on top of my chamber and the trapdoor opened into a pipe that led out into a pool. I was sucked down into the pool and climbed out, racing directly beneath the audience whilst being frantically dried by stage assistants. Meanwhile, Katie disappeared down a staircase out of sight and swam up the shoot, bolting the trapdoor as hoses in the corners of the chamber filled the chamber back up again. I then drew the audiences attention by shouting, "Over here!" ,whilst she undid the lid of the chamber and waited for me to whip away the cloth so she could jump out. It currently had over 50,000 views on Youtube.
The second member that they'd pulled together was Jimmy. He had no second name and was world famous for his prank tricks, like Saw the Football. He started by offering a deck of cards to a random member of the audience then burnt the card. Then he'd welcomed them to choose a random football from the selection. He'd drawn a saw and then asked her to cut it in half. As she was doing so, a character wearing a mask from Saw jumped out of nowhere to scare her half to death. Much to the annoyance of Jimmy, that'd only had 40,000 views.
The third member was the Infamous Blackburn, who I knew better as John Darwen, which was nearish to Blackburn hence the name. I also knew him as the man that had trained me in everything I knew, which it turned out was how I got this job. He was a tall man with the type of face and attitude that demanded a scarlet and black velvet cape along with a top hat and silver topped cane. He was known as the Infamous Blackburn due to a dice trick he once did without telling the venue holders in which he almost blew up the building they were in.
We were sat around a table in the Channel Four Building and the lady had a file. From it, she pulled a picture. "Anybody know who this?"
"Yes." We all moaned. It was Charles Desole, the famous critic. He'd given each and every one of us a bad review at least twice, and worst of all, he'd started a petition to have "The Infamous Blackburn and Fletcher" put out of the business. He was almost the perfect mark.
"The plan would be to break into his house and steal as much as we can whilst humiliating the police. Everything would be returned in the end and most of the work would be around filming the making of the heist."
"Could we put a bit in about humiliating the police?" The Infamous Blackburn asked.
We all laughed. "The Rozzers been upsetting you again, John?" I asked. He was infamous for being in trouble with the law, a great patron of the rock and roll age of Illusion.
"When aren't they?" Katie laughed.
"I'm sure we could work out something." The lady smiled.
"Baring the in mind," Jimmy said, "I reckon I've got a way to break in. If we were to blow the electricity, we could then race in under the cover of nightfall and drop a sedative gas into the air con."
"Let me stop you there." The lady said. "The house doesn't have air con and the channel would like the heist to include elements of magic. The house has two floors, a roof garden and a basement, and Mr Resole employs three members of staff."
I grinned. "The Four Jacks."
"None of us are called Jack." Jimmy pointed out. "But a great name for the show."
"No, I mean the magic trick!" I exclaimed. I drew a deck of cards from my bag and gave it a quick shuffle, then drew the four jacks and put them at the bottom. I fanned them out from the bottom and then realigned them. I took them from the deck and put them at the top and took the first card and put it at the bottom, then put the second half way through and the third just above, leaving the first at the top. "The Four Jacks, lost around the house. Then I give it a tap."
Then I drew the four cards from the top and showed them as the Four Jacks.
The others grinned and the lady said, "How did you do that?"
"A little bit of misdirection." I grinned.

To be concluded...

Monday, 13 October 2014

The Four Jacks (part 2)

"So, that brings the total lead count up to...?" Asked the Inspector.
"Exactly none, Inspector." I replied. We'd taken dibs of who would break the awful news, and it ended up that it was my job. I'd been dreading it, and I certainly wasn't enjoying it now.
"And you are the best coppers in the region. What have forensics found?"
"Nothing, sir." I answered. "The only DNA that could be found belonged to the house owner and his staff. No irregular fabric and fibres were found and the helicopter people called back, the helicopter isn't registered to anyone. Seriously, these people must be expects."
"What about that ridiculous magician theory?"
"We had no proof to arrest him at all." I replied.
"And Cox made a cock up." One of the other PC's said.
"No I didn't!" I exclaimed.
"Calm down, gentlemen." The Inspector said. "How did Cox mess it up?"
"He told the magician everything. All the intricate details."
"This true, Cox?" Demanded the Inspector.
"Not on purpose, Inspector." I replied.
"You leaked the details of this case to one of the suspects?"
"Yes, sir." I moaned.
"You are a disgrace to modern policing." He said. "I want you take some leave. Don't come back in for a bit, at least until this investigation is over."
"Sir," I began to protest.
"No, Cox. Get out of my sight."
"Yes, sir." I moaned, and walked out.

There was only one way I could prove I didn't leak those details, and that was to prove Fletcher was behind it. And I couldn't do that until I'd interviewed him once again, and actually got some details. I popped in the locker room and grabbed my card holder, then I returned to my car outside. I drove it all the way to the theatre and marched in. I found Fletcher in the main auditorium, as I had the day before, and he watched me approach. "Is that Aaron?" He asked, as I thundered up the steps.
"No, Mr Fletcher. It's PC Cox." I replied.
"Down with the formalities. It's Aaron, isn't it. Tell me, did you find your robbers?"
"No." He replied.
"Of course not, because there are no robbers."
"What do you mean there are no robbers?"
"I'm afraid I shan't be saying anymore unless you show me a warrant." He replied, smirking.
"Well, luckily for you, I have one with me." I said and whipped my card from my pocket.
Fletcher looked it up and down. "Don't take any offence here, please, but I don't like My Little Ponies."
I frowned and then turned the card. My Little Pony membership card. "What?" I said. I searched through my pockets, but I couldn't find my card. "What have you done?"
"Breathed, a lot." He replied.
"I mean to my card." I said.
"Oh! I thought you meant over my entire life span. Well, I just handed it back then, if that's what you mean."
"Why are you so arrogant?" I demanded.
"Is that an official statement?" He asked, patronisingly.
"No." I said, my gaze to his eyes not wavering.
"Well, the answer is quite simple." He replied. "I and my friends Jimmy, Katie Morrissey and the Infamous Blackburn broke into the building, humiliated the Lancashire Constabulary and got away with it."
"What?" I demanded.
He gestured for someone to step away from the wings, and a camera man stepped out, filming our every moments. "Smile at the camera." Fletcher exclaimed, grinning.

*Authors note*
Curious as to how Miles Fletcher, Jimmy, Katie Morrissey and the Infamous Blackburn broke into the house? Read on over the next two weeks, as Fletcher documents his adventure so far...

Monday, 6 October 2014

The Four Jacks

Three thirty AM. A hoard of ex panda cars holding fully armed, yet apparently inconspicuous, policemen are parked down a single road in the posh district of this fair city. Merely the dimming light of the lamp posts illuminated our view of the great towering building held in darkness before us. Suddenly there was a swirling rush of wind, the metallic swinging of propellers and then a great spotlight cast us in bright light. The Inspector stuck his head out of a window and looked up, gesturing for us to do so also. There was a helicopter, swinging through the air above us, it's spotlight casting us in a white glow. It landed atop the large building, it's propellers still spinning. "Quickly!" The Inspector shouted.
We all clambered out of the car and raced across the road, the armed policemen in front of us leading the way. They got to the door and kicked it open and then ran in, their barrels covering every hiding place. The Inspector led me and the other constables behind him, and we followed him upstairs all the way to the top floor, flanked by a circle of armed, black wearing coppers. Every floor was ransacked, everything taken from where it should have been, and by the time we got to the top floor, we realised that we had failed. All the staff and the owner of the household, who has asked to remain anonymous, were rolling on the floor, their mouths duct taped and their legs and arms bound. We rushed up the fire escape and saw the helicopter, with it's crew of four, lifting off with a bounty of contraband. The Inspector stamped his foot and cursed. I sighed and turned back. We were meant to have got them then, but they were always one step ahead.

My name is Aaron Cox. I'm a Police Constable for the Lancashire Constabulary, and one week ago, I was part of a stake out for an impossible crime. And it was only solved when we turned to our final resort. A face blind magician. And strangely, he'd started as our only suspect.

When we'd been generating leads, it had occurred to someone that the crime was quite reminiscent of a grand magic trick of some sort. The magicians could possibly be the robbers and the escape would be the magic trick. I was assigned the duty of looking into this, probably because it was seen as a dead end, and dead ends were what constables lived for. I started by checking out all the magicians in a certain radius, then when that came to one, I requested his file and decided to go and visit him. He'd been trouble with the law several times, mainly for causing harrasment due to his documented 'face blindness.' I pulled my car to a halt outside the theatre and walked in, to discover the man himself standing angrily in the centre of the lobby, amidst a throng of impatient stage hands. I thought it was a strange place for the magician to be, rather than the stage itself which I presumed were behind the white push doors with the glass circular windows in. "You a policemen?" He asked, as I strolled over.
"I don't wear the stab vest and high vis jacket for fun." I replied.
"Lend me your warrant, please."
"Why?"
"Because I asked nicely." He said.
Begrudgingly, but curiously, I handed over the warrant badge and watched as he strolled over to the girl behind the counter. He said something then drew the girls gaze towards me  before directing it back to himself and then over to the twin doors. The girl gulped and opened the doors, gesturing for him and the crew to go through. He handed me back the warrant card and led me through the double doors down a small corridor and into the large auditorium. "I presume that you're Aaron Cox." He said.
"Yes I am." I replied.
"Hello Aaron, it's nice to meet you."
"Sir, you're meant to call me PC Cox."
A snigger danced across his face but died quickly. "I'll call you Aaron, and you can call me Mr Fletcher."
There was something about how he never looked in the face that sent shivers down my spine. "Mr Fletcher, can you tell me where you were in the early morning of the 29th of Septemeber 2014?"
"I'm afraid I can't." He replied. It made sense, after all. The file had mentioned a selective memory. "You wouldn't believe me, you see." He added.
"Then you could tell me?" I replied, confused as to why he was being tricky.
"Well of course I could tell you, but it doesn't mean you'll believe me, and it certainly doesn't mean that I have to." He replied, in a way that almost required a wagging figure action to accompany it.
"You're not being extremely helpful."
"The world isn't, Aaron. The world isn't." He replied.
"I'm afraid you're going to have to come with me to the station." I said, reaching for my handcuffs.
"Sure." He said and gestured for me to lead him out.
"You're not going to put up a fuss?"
"No, of course not." He said. "Cause then you'll just cuff me, and that would be a waste of time."

We arrived at the station and I took him into a questioning room. I questioned him none stop for two hours, and by the end of it he stopped me and smiled. "Aaron, I presume that you're new to the job."
I didn't know why he'd guessed that, I was always told I'm a very mature looking person.
"My main clue was the fact that you are a police constable." He said, presumably noticing my confusion. "And the fact that from the information you just gave me, I could probably solve the crime."
"Rubbish." I said.
"Really?" He asked me. "How come I know there were three members of staff and four people in the helicopter, and that hardly any time passed between the helicopter landing and taking off, yet the entire house was ransacked?"
I stared at him, blank. "Because you're the mastermind!"
"Don't be stupid." He replied. "I believed it was rather obvious to be truthful. You leak little details without knowing, and I'm trained to pick up on them. Now, if you'll allow me to leave, I will be on my way." He smiled at me, a patronising smile that knew I had no reason to keep him further. Begrudgingly, I let him go, and watched as he walked from the door of the nick, a glee in his step. I wasn't even looking at his face but I knew it was probably painted with a smug grin. I stamped my foot in anger. Why wasn't it legal to arrest someone for just annoying you?

Monday, 29 September 2014

A Brilliant Day at Bispham Endowed

Today I visited Bispham Endowed, my old primary school, where I read an extract from the Quest for Verdisc part 1 and an extract from the Monster Hunters: Malice of the Media. The children were absolutely brilliant, asking some fantastic questions in the Q and A that followed. A couple of times I felt really stretched, I never in a million years would have thought of some of them. Afterwards, I handed out some sticky notes and the children designed some brilliant magical characters, who will be appearing in the sequel to the Monster Hunters, which comes out next year. I'm writing this post to say thank you to the children, who were all fantastic, and also congratulate them on their challenging questions. I wish them all the best luck with their writing in the future, and I can't wait to start including their characters in my novel. Thanks again, Year 6. You were extremely welcoming, and very fun.

Luke Bateman, Monday 29th September 2014

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

A Bit of Poetry

Today, I was lucky enough to visit Dove Cottage in the Lake District, home of William Wordsworth. After a horrible journey there, where I may have fallen asleep about halfway through, me and the other students were greeted by two members of staff who answered all our questions and really helped us learn more about Wordsworth, a man that I don't think any of us knew much about. We then went into the Cottage itself. Despite being either freezing or boiling, and me almost cracking my skull on the low ceiling in the kitchen, the tour was informative and fun, giving us inspiration for some poems that we wrote immediately afterwards. We then had a talk with a poet and wrote another poem. The rest of the day was fun, with a workshop on reading and understand poetry, followed by a visit to the museum, where I wrote ekullbat.blogspot.co.uk using a quill. It was a great day over all, and it led to the production of two pieces of poetry, which you can find below.

No More

Silent at first, as eerie as the grave, when the cry of children pierces the air
Feet upon granite floor, the hurried pattering of chilled footsteps
met by the smell of smoke, it’s inferno source hidden by the smoke itself.
The room is cast in gloom, lit merely by the ember glow of burning coals.
Onwards, to the confinement of a boiling claustrophobia, lit merely by small
windows, a view to the freedom of the world outside.
Ticking guides our sight- Cuckoo! Cuckoo! It’s shrill cry showing us
the inky black hell pit offering food for the blaze and hosting writhing life
of despicable needs, and above an object of synecdoche
as solemn and as simple as the brass house key.
Steep steps, cut at rough angles, lead us up to the landing.
Where, upon the black circle burnt into the floor,

patiently waits a grandfather clock that ticks and tocks no more.

The Day the Mice Came Home

To bleak sky, the grey similar to the tiles of the house that obscures my view, I recite my whispered excitement.
There is something sad about the solemn scene before me, but a pleasing melancholy,
after all, as a wise woman once said, Sad is merely Happy for deep people.
It’s abandonment, it’s decrepitness, the way in which it seems to sight, entices me into wondering of it’s aim.
The gloom of it’s ruin, silent for the roar of motor cars, eerie as the grave,
until it becomes surrounded by the joy of young children, and the blur of red jumpers,
a shadow in the light.
It will never be restored, it’s fortunes never realised, but it carries it’s hope nonetheless.
And the day that hope is rewarded, I imagine, will be the Day the Mice Come Home.



Sunday, 21 September 2014

Doctor Who Marathon 2014

Because I could be described as having a none existent social life and having a near complete obsession with Doctor Who- check out the mini series happening on this blog if you need a proper confirmation- every year I do a marathon of my Doctor Who collection, in chronological order from beginning to end. If you follow me on twitter- seriously, if not why not- you'll probably know that I finished the DVD section on the 23rd of August, just in time for Peter Capaldi to make his debut, and what a debut it was! Due to the fact I was asked what the point in my marathon was, I have decided to give an x/10 score for every story on the marathon. The scores are not given on the quality of production, or the greatness of the script, but instead on the enjoyability of the episode, from a fan's view, not a critics. Because of this, I apologise for how much I like Adric and most of the Steven Moffat episodes. Here we go:

The First Doctor, played by William Hartnell.
Number of stories from his era that I watched: 1
Mode of scores: 5/10
Thoughts: Due to only having seen one story, I feel that I can't comment much on him, except for the fact that I'd like to find out much more. He was a very interesting portrayal of the Doctor, or should I say extremely normal portrayal seeing he was the first, but I definitely would love to discover more. If you have any good suggestions of what to watch, please leave them in the comments box.
Episodes watched:
An Unearthly Child: 5/10

The Second Doctor, played by Patrick Troughton.
Number of stories from his era that I watched: 2
Mode of Scores: 8/10
Thoughts: I've only watched two of his stories, but I can already tell that Troughton is a brilliant Doctor. He's amusing and curious, a young boy to Hartnell's old man, but what really makes him brilliant are his companions. Jamie is a fantastic companion, one of my favourites of the classic era, and Victoria, whilst not being brilliant, is still quite good. Also, in the two episodes I watched, we further discovered the famous villain that first appeared in Hartnell's final episode. The Cybermen, and if it wasn't for Troughton, they almost certainly wouldn't be as infamous as they are.
Episodes watched:
The Tomb of the Cybermen: 7/10
The Invasion: 9/10

The Third Doctor, played by Jon Pertwee.
Number of stories from his era that I watched: 5
Mode of scores: 6/10
Thoughts: Jon Pertwee is flamboyant. Seriously, flamboyant. It was as if the clothing department thought, well we've got colour television now, so we may as well show it off. He's dynamic, clever and a master of Venusian Akido. But what I like the most about him is how he brought the alien invasions to Earth, and managed to save a general, or other boss character, most of the time as well. Pertwee's era also introduced three of the most loved characters of all time. The dastardly Master, the brilliant Brigadier and of course the lovely Sarah Jane Smith. All three are corner stones of Doctor Who, and helped to shape the show as it is today.
Episodes watched:
Spearheads in Space: 6/10
The Mind of Evil: 7/10
Frontier in Space: 6/10
Planet of the Daleks: 8/10
The Time Warrior: 10/10

The Fourth Doctor, played by Tom Baker.
Number of stories from his era that I watched: 12
Mode of scores: 10/10
Thoughts: Tom Baker is Doctor Who. If you went up the majority of people on the streets before 2005 and ask them to describe the Doctor, Tom Baker would almost certainly be the man they'd describe. Tom Baker's era changed Doctor Who like nobody had done before. Not only did he travel with two of the most popular companions of Classic Who, Sarah Jane and K9- not Harry and Adric- but he also helped to redefine Doctor Who as we knew it. Suddenly, the Doctor became a chaotic lunatic of a madman, alien to the human's that his last regeneration had surrounded himself with. He also fought some of the famous villains of Doctor Who, having more encounters with the Sontaran's as a villain than any Doctor, and introducing the likes of Davros. He may not be my favourite classic Doctor, but he's certainly up there.
Episodes watched:
Robot: 5/10
The Sontaran Experiment: 5/10
Genesis of the Daleks: 8/10
The Deadly Assasian: 8/10
The Talons of Weng Chiang: 10/10
The Invasion of Time: 10/10
City of Death: 10/10
Full Circle: 6/10
State of Decay: 4/10
Warriors Gate: 5/10
Keeper of Traken: 7/10
Logopolis: 7/10

The Fifth Doctor, played by Peter Davidson.
Number of stories from his era that I watched: 5
Mode of Scores: 7/10
Thoughts: Peter Davidson was the first classic Doctor that I watched, so I imagine he'll always be my favourite classic Doctor. There was something about the way in which he chases around Castrovalva, clueless and disorientated whilst a group of teenagers had to look after him that I found quite entertaining. He, much like Matt Smith, managed to capture that boffin in a young man's body feel to the Doctor, which I thought was played perfectly. A lot of people dislike him, and his companions, but I can find no grudge, as they are amusing and fast and play in the story fantastically. And even if you hate Adric, which I certainly don't, you have to admit that Earthshock was brilliant.
Episodes watched:
Castrovalva: 7/10
Earthshock: 10/10
The Five Doctors: 6/10
Revelation of the Daleks: 7/10
Caves of Androzani: 9/10

The Sixth Doctor, played by Colin Baker.
Number of stories from his era that I watched: 2
Mode of scores: N/A
Thoughts: Colin Baker is better than you'd expect. He portrayed a fanatically complex Doctor, who's suffered from post-regenerative madness like no-one before. I find him exciting and new. The only thing that let him down were the episodes he was in, and his hideous outfit. With a modern writer, and a team that cared about the show, such as those who brought the show back, or maybe even Philip Hinchcliff, Colin Baker would have been one of the best Doctors there was. Sadly, however, this wasn't the case.
Episodes watched:
Attack of the Cybermen: 6/10
The Two Doctors: 2/10

The Seventh Doctor, played by Sylvester McCoy.
Number of stories from his era that I watched: 4
Mode of scores: 8/10
Thoughts: Again, Sylvester McCoy was another Doctor who could have been great, if only the entire team had cared. I used the phrase 'entire team' as I believe that Andrew Cartmel and his team of writers really wanted to return the show to it's former glory, unlike John Nathan Turner, who I believe was there to make sure the show ended. This Doctor's era paved the way for the 2005 revival, not only by getting the show cancelled, but by making the companion- the brilliant Sophie Aldred- an essential character and by introducing the story arc. Over all, I think Sylvester McCoy's era is very promising indeed.
Episodes watched:
Remembrance of the Daleks: 9/10
Battlefield: 7/10
Ghostlight: 10/10
The Curse of Feneric: 8/10

The Eighth Doctor, played by Paul McGann.
Number of stories from his era that I watched, read and listened to: 4
Mode of scores: 9/10
Thoughts: Paul McGann was awesome. He was the steampunk Doctor, with a wooden console and candles, trailing around like a lost romantic poet. Despite his time begin cut shockingly short by the complete failure that was the movie, he returned in force in Comics and Audiotape, then finally in a minisode for the fiftieth anniversary. One thing is for sure, I'd love to discover more of his Doctor.
Episodes enjoyed:
The Movie: 7/10
Oblivion: 9/10
Dark Eyes S1 E1: 8/10
Night of the Doctor: 9/10

The Ninth Doctor, played by Christopher Eccleston.
Number of stories from his era that I watched: 13
Mode of scores: 10/10
Thoughts: Christopher Eccleston is one of those Doctors that gets better with every story I watch. He brings an entire new element to the Doctor. Suddenly the time lord was Phil Mitchell. And northern. Not only was he brilliantly gritty, yet genius, he had a great chemistry with some of the best companions of the twenty first century. Rose Tyler- I'm currently preparing to be killed by fangirls as I type this- was awful with David Tennant, far too whiny and she suddenly became a character there merely to be in love with the Doctor, but with Christopher Eccleston, she was her own character, amusing and strong willed, if not with a dubious amount of boyfriends. He was also the first Doctor that you could imagine going for a pint, and he was given plenty of male friends to do so with. Mickey and Jack are obvious example of them, both brilliant characters in their own right but better with Chris, and he even managed to get the best out of Adam, who I shall refrain from talking about further. If anything is wrong with modern Who, it is that we never got to see him and Lynda with a Y have adventures in the Tardis, as I'd most certainly enjoy that more than I did David Tennant's first series.
Episodes watched:
Rose: 7/10
The End of the World: 6/10
The Unquiet Dead: 7/10
Aliens in London: 8/10
World War Three: 6/10
Dalek: 5/10
The Long Game: 8/10
Fathers Day: 5/10
The Empty Child: 10/10
The Doctor Dances: 10/10
Boom Town: 10/10
Bad Wolf: 10/10
The Parting of the Ways: 10/10

The Tenth Doctor, played by David Tennant.
Number of stories from his era that I watched: 45
Mode of scores: 8/10
Thoughts: David Tennant is the fan favourite. Nowadays, if you said Doctor Who, your average would describe David Tennant, but for me, he'll never be my favourite. He's got everything you may want. He's funny and quick, clever and charming, but the fact that he became the Doctor everyone fancied took away from him. His first series was quite dire, completely to do with the bond between the Doctor and Rose, of which I'm not that fond. For me, the Doctor shouldn't fall in love, or at least not have it as his main drive in life. His third series was brilliant, however, with a good storyline in the form of the Master and the introduction of Martha, who is, quite unpopularly, better than Rose in every respect. Series four is alright, better than series two at any rate, and Donna Noble is a brilliant companion, making her fate even more unfortunate. The specials, however, are terrible, and the final two parter do this majorly popular Doctor a major discredit.
Episodes watched:
The Christmas Invasion: 7/10
New Earth: 6/10
Tooth and Claw: 8/10
School Reunion: 10/10
Girl in the Fireplace: 9/10
Rise of the Cybermen: 8/10
Age of Steel: 8/10
The Idiot's Lantern: 8/10
The Impossible Planet: 9/10
The Satan Pit: 8/10
Love and Monsters: 7/10 (please don't judge me. It may not by the best episode of Who, but it's entertaining.)
Fear Her: 1/10
Army of Ghosts: 7/10
Doomsday: 9/10
The Runaway Bride: 9/10
Smith and Jones: 7/10
The Shakespeare Code: 10/10
Gridlock: 6/10
Daleks in Manhattan: 6/10
Evolution of the Daleks: 6/10
The Lazarus Experiment: 8/10
42: 1/10
Human Nature: 4/10
Family of Blood: 5/10
Blink: 10/10
Utopia: 8/10
Sound of the Drums: 10/10
Last of the Timelords: 10/10
Voyage of the Damned: 6/10
Partners in Crime: 7/10
Fires of Pompeii: 1/10
Planet of the Ood: 3/10
The Sontaran Stratagem: 7/10
The Poison Sky: 7/10
The Doctors Daughter: 7/10
The Unicorn and the Wasp: 9/10
Silence in the Library: 10/10
Forest of the Dead: 10/10
Midnight: 7/10
Turn Left: 6/10
The Stolen Earth: 8/10
Journey's End: 9/10
The Next Doctor: 9/10
End of Time p1: 6/10
End of Time p2: 7/10

The Eleventh Doctor, played by Matt Smith.
Number of stories from his era that I watched: 39
Mode of scores: 10/10
Thoughts: Matt Smith is my Doctor. My first was Christopher Eccleston, and I grew up with David Tennant, but Matt Smith became the Doctor as I became a major fan. He was also the first Doctor of the Moffat Era, the most controversial era since the Cartmel master plan back in the 80's. Whilst many people hate the interweaving story arcs of Matt Smith's three series, I love them, believing them to be clever and original. Smith also has some of the best companions since the show came back, in the form of Amy, Rory and Clara, as well as River Song who, despite not being liked that much, remains one of the most intriguing companions to appear. Of course, Matt Smith's era also contains the simply brilliant Day of the Doctor, the best of all the anniversary specials in my opinion. It may be the most controversial of eras, but for me, it is the best.
Episodes watched:
The Eleventh Hour: 10/10
Time of the Angels: 8/10
Flesh and Stone: 8/10
Amy's Choice: 7/10
The Hungry Earth: 8/10
Cold Blood: 8/10
The Lodger: 9/10
Vincent and the Doctor: 8/10
The Pandorica Opens: 7/10
The Big Bang: 7/10
A Christmas Carol: 10/10
The Impossible Astronaut: 9/10
Day of the Moon: 9/10
The Curse of the Black Spot: 5/10
The Doctor's Wife: 10/10
The Rebel Flesh: 3/10
The Almost People: 2/10
A Goodman Goes to War: 10/10
Let's Kill Hitler: 10/10
Night Terrors: 8/10
The Girl Who Waited: 5/10
The God Complex: 10/10
Closing Time: 8/10
The Wedding of River Song: 6/10
Asylum of the Daleks: 9/10
Dinosaurs on a Spaceship: 9/10
A Town Called Mercy: 6/10
The Power of Three: 9/10
The Angels Take Manhattan: 8/10
The Snowmen: 9/10
The Bells of Saint John: 10/10
The Rings of Akhaten: 3/10
Cold War: 5/10
Hide: 3/10
Journey to the Centre of the Tardis: 6/10
The Crimson Horror: 10/10
Nightmare in Silver: 8/10
Name of the Doctor: 6/10
Day of the Doctor: 10/10

The Twelfth Doctor, played by Peter Capaldi.
Number of stories from his era that I've watched: 5
Mode of scores: 9/10
Thoughts: I was heart broken when I discovered that Capaldi was going to be the Doctor. For two reasons, A. it meant that Matt Smith really was leaving and B. I knew he was going to be nothing like my favourite Doctor. Between the date of his announcement and Christmas Day 2013, I clung to every rumour I read that really it was part of Moffat's master plan, and that Capaldi was a decoy. And then on the 23rd of August, I sat down and watched Deep Breath and I decided that I was an idiot, because Capaldi was awesome. He is brilliant, yet another testimony to the Moffat era of Doctor Who. I find him witty and clever, with that right amount of alien that made Tom Baker brilliant. So far, I've watched five of his adventures, and I can't wait to see more!
Episodes watched:
Deep Breath: 10/10
Into the Dalek: 9/10
Robot of Sherwood: 9/10
Listen: 10/10
Time Heist: 7/10

Other things:

Theme Tune Ratings:
1st/2nd Doctor: 10/10
3rd Doctor: 7/10
4th Doctor: 5/10
5th Doctor: 6/10
6th Doctor: 6/10
7th Doctor: 0/10
8th Doctor: 2/10
9th/ 10th Doctor 1: 9/10
10th Doctor 2: 8/10
11th Doctor 1: 7/10
11th Doctor 2: 8/10
12th Doctor: 1/10

Top 5 Companions:
1. Clara
2. Adric
3. K9
4. Jack
5. Martha

Top 5 Villains/ Monsters:

1. The Cybermen
2. The Master
3. The Sontarans
4. The Daleks
5. The Weeping Angels

Top 5 Tardis:
1. 12th/11th Doctor
2. 9th/10th Doctor
3. 8th Doctor
4. 1st Doctor
5. 4th Doctor's Secondary Console Room

So that is the conclusion of my Doctor Who Marathon this year. Please feel free to comment on what you disagree with, and if you have any suggestions of episodes I haven't watched that I should have.