Monday, 26 January 2015

Are You Sitting Comfortably (part 5)

The Elizabeth Tower. A beautiful piece of modern architecture which has stood ever watchful over the streets of London since it's completion in 1858. Most people knew it as Big Ben, but not Alfie Fredrickson. He knew it as his single goal in life- to report from outside it's ancient halls. And there was only one way he could ensure he was the only reporter to grace it's beauty.
To eliminate the rest.
Channel 4 was the first stop. They had a patronising oaf of a reporter called Wilf Studwick, who took pleasure in his weekly political report from outside Big Ben. Alfie had pictures of the lumbering oaf plastered all over his wall, screen shots from the telly, and a red pen hung by a twine string, ready for use. He had studied Wilf's usual behaviour and actions but had a very simple idea of what to do. He knew he wouldn't be able to present from Big Ben if he was arrested for murder, so he had to be careful. Stabbing him in the back would be too obvious, as would shooting him from a long distance. And, anyway, if any killer, he was a flamboyant killer.
That night, he switched on the television and tuned into Channel 4. The normal anchors looked at him sincerely and said, "We're sorry to report the unfortunate loss of our political reporter, Wilf Studwick. Wilf was a valued member of the news team, and it's certainly a terrible day to say that he was murdered. Here's Beth Strouder with a report."
It cut to a teary eyed Beth Strouder, stood outside the Studwick Household. "Thanks. I've just been talking to the police inspector and he has confirmed that the death was accidental. It's a terrible fate that our star reporter was killed by his umbrella snapping shut and the sharp edges severing his head. The umbrella company is being looked into for manslaughter charges."
Alfie switched off the television and smiled to himself, standing up. He walked past a table with a set of pliers and several sheets of curled sharpened metal placed on it. He arrived at the pictures of Wilf Studwick on his wall and then grabbed his red pen, drawing a large line through it. "One down." He muttered.
The next target was ITV's political correspondent Chantelle Woodcock. Her picture was just above Wilf Studwick's. Now the umbrella trick had been used, he needed to find a completely new way to deal with her. But he had a few ideas. Savage Beheading was old news now. Perhaps poison would be an interesting plan? But not administered in the usual way. Oh no. That would be far too obvious.
The following night, he switched on the television and tuned into ITV 1. Once more, the normal anchors looked at him with eyes slung with misery. "After yesterday's tragic loss of Wilf Studwick, we are heartbroken to inform you that our very own reporter Chantelle Woodcock was pronounced dead earlier today. Here's Peter Mathewson with the full story, Peter-"
"Thank you." Peter Mathewson said, turning up on screen. "Yes, I'm sorry to be the one to deliver this new. Our very own Chantelle Woodcock was discovered earlier today in her London residence. Police coroners have confirmed that the death was suspicious. Pathologist's have come to the conclusion that Miss Woodcock was killed by poison vented out from a rigged bulb bought by the day previous. Upon being switched on, the bulb burst and allowing poison gas to kill her."
Alfie switched the television off and tightened his fists. How could he be so obvious? He climbed up and went across to the picture of Chantelle Woodcock, crossing it out with a red line. He'd already put  his new plan into action. He grinned at the picture of the BBC Political Correspondent.
Alfie watched the television with expectant anticipation the next night. This was it, the last kill. The general election was next week and only one television network would be providing coverage, the BBC. And if their key reporter was dead, then there would be only one person who could do the job. Alfie Fredrickson, deputy political reporter. If he was the only one left, he'd be the only one who could do the job. He'd be the only one who could present in front of Big Ben. He felt like laughing an evil laugh.
He switched on the television and watched. Just one familiar anchor this time but the same apologetic tone. "We are sorry to inform you that Alex Fraser, our political corespondent, was found dead in his home this morning. The latest victim of the Political Journalist Murderer or an unfortunately timed accidental death? Here's Cathy McCarthy with the full story."
Alfie personally knew Cathy McCarthy and he really hated her, so he decided not to watch her report, knowing full well that Alex had died from a poison injected into the eggs she had used to make a birthday cake for her daughter. He'd simply broken into her house whilst she was at and then dipped the top of each egg into a cup of vinegar, softening the shell so he could inject the poison in. Genius.
Once Cathy had finished her report, he continued to watch the anchor standing in front of a powerpoint screen. "With the recent deaths of the three news correspondents, police have provided an area inside the Houses of Parliament from which the new correspondents will able to present from during the upcoming elections to protect them from this terrible murderer."
Alfie switched off the television and gripped his knuckles, tight in anger. He'd tried to make sure he was the only journalist outside Big Ben, but he'd ended up ensuring he wouldn't be outside Big Ben at all! He stormed straight to the phone, ticking Alex Fraiser's face in the process, and called his producer. "Hi." He said through gritted teeth. "I was just wondering, about how news correspondents are being asked to present inside the safe room, well would it be possible for me to present from outside?"
"No." The producer said. "I'm sorry Alfie, but it's just not safe."
"It's a once in a lifetime opportunity, Steve! Please, you've got to let me."
"I'm sorry Alfie, but we're not taking the chance. It's either this way or you're fired. We're not dicing with people's lives."
Alfie hung up in anger, slamming the phone into the cradle. He went to his workbench and picked up a homemade explosive, weighing it up. If he couldn't have Big Ben, no-one could.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Are You Sitting Comfortably? (part 4)

"We gather here today," proclaimed the Vicar in a painfully high voice, he wore black robes with the tiny white card beneath his collar clipping against his Adam's apple, "to witness the joining of Jerome  Green and Catherine Maddens. If any of you know of any reasons why these two may not be lawfully wed, speak now or forever hold you peace?"
Jerome went to say something and then retracted his hand, giggling. Catherine smiled, bumping him on the arm playfully. She was a wonder in a large meringue dress, a veil previously pulled away from her head. Jerome, not nearly as striking as her, suited his sharp black suit, although the red tie was a little itchy.
"Catherine, do you wish to take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband; to live together with him in the covenant of marriage? Do you promise to love him, comfort him, honour and keep him, in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all others, be faithful unto him as long as you both shall live?"
Catherine decided to return Jerome's favour by stroking her chin, indecisively, before grinning and saying, "I do."
The Vicar turned to Jerome, smiling. "And Jerome, do you wish to take this woman to be your wife; to live together with her in the covenant of marriage? Do you promise to love her, comfort her, honour and keep her, in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all others, be faithful unto him as long as you both shall live?"
Jerome had rehearsed the two words over and over again in his head, and he knew exactly what to say. "I do."
The Vicar turned to the witnesses, Kevin and Sophie. Kevin had always been obsessed with Catherine, but his best mate, Jerome, from the petrol station where they worked, had won her over and he settled for Catherine's mate, Sophie, or as he thought of her, second best. Little did he know, she had the exact same feeling's for Jerome, being one of Catherine's mates at the crisp family.
"Do you witnessing these promises also promise to do all in your power to uphold these two persons in their marriage?" The Vicar asked.
"We do." Announced Sophie and Kevin in unison.
The Vicar nodded and then it was Jerome's turn to take his vow. "In the name of God, I, Jerome Green, take you, Catherine Maddens, to be my wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until we are parted by death. This is my solemn vow." He gave her his ring.
Catherine took Jerome's hand, as he had taken her's, and said, "In the name of God, I, Catherine Maddens, take you, Jerome Green, to be my husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until we are parted by death. This is my solemn vow." She gave him her ring.
The Vicar put his hands together. "Catherine Maddens and Jerome Green, having witnessed your vows of love to one another, it is my joy to present you to all gathered here as husband and wife."
He turned to the groom but before he could say anything the small white doors of the registry office creaked open and an asian girl wearing a blue nurse's uniform walked in, looking tired. She was pushing a table on wheels with a mug of steaming drink and a plate of food under a plastic cover.
"Mr Welsh," she said, not looking up, "I've brought your dinner." She looked up from the plate of steamed vegetables. "Oh, Mr Welsh, it's me, Mina. I've brought your dinner."
Mr Welsh, the wiry old figure with the spectacles and the thin grey hair, was standing in front of the window looking out onto the courtyard, where speckled hens ran around. The grey walls loomed over him as he danced a strange pattern around the room, stopping and talking. He was currently looking at her, but not talking to her. "You may now kiss the bride."
He danced to his right, not looking at her but the left wall. He went to kiss an invisible figure, only to dance round to where that figure was and kiss the space where he'd been sitting merely a few seconds ago. Mr Welsh then danced away from where he was standing, closer to Mina, but looking to where he had been. "I can't do this anymore, Sophie." He said and leapt up, racing forwards to where'd been.
"Catherine!" He cried. "I love you."
He ran back to where he'd been crouched and said, "Well, neither can I, Kevin!" He raced over to where he'd been stood and cried, "I love you, Jerome."
Mina left the trolley where it was and snook back out of the door, bolting it's metal hulk shut and snapping the hatch closed. "How is he?" Asked Sister Redfern.
"He's more delusional than usual." Mina replied.
"Split personality," Sister Redfern said, "it's a terrible thing."

Monday, 12 January 2015

Are You Sitting Comfortably? (part 3)

Gladys Jones lived in a village. It wasn't a particularly big village, neither was it a particularly profitable village, but the local newspaper had once described Ethel Silver's bowling club flower display as picturesque, so the word had hung around. Gladys had never seen Ethel Silver's bowling club flower display, besides when it had appeared on the "News Where You Are," segment of the BBC News. She didn't get out much, merely when she needed to top up on soup and overpriced meat from the "Delicatessen" section of Sainsbury's, and even then she scurried along quicker when she saw someone from that ghastly knitting society her son had suggested she went to.
She often received calls from her son, normally when he needed money, and occasionally from her daughter, occasionally when she needed to be picked up from work, and these little social interactions were more than good enough for her. It was, however, unfortunate that those blasted people next door had taken the opportunity to take a chainsaw to the tree in the corner of their garden that had fallen and then ripped down the phone lines. It had taken those people at BT, or whatever the current name for the phone people was, almost two months to come along and fix it, and when they did, they'd sent a child who was almost certainly still in school!
"There you go love," shouted the 'child,' over pronouncing every word as if the beige hearing aid in Gladys' ear was faulty, "all fixed now."
"Thank you, dear." Gladys replied. She began to usher him towards the door and as she opened it she said, "Could I interest you in a cup of tea?"
Before he could answer, she pushed him out of the door and said, "Really? I couldn't? What a shame! Bye then!"
She slammed the door shut and then shuttled back to her kitchen, flicking on the kettle. It began to whir as it turned on when she heard her phone ring, the raucous bell toll she was accustomed to but hadn't heard for months on end. "Aren't I busy lady!" She remarked to Moggy, a ginger tabby cat that she had once more forgotten wasn't alive anymore. "A call within minutes of the phone lines being put on! Will probably be another of those blasted salesmen, trying to sell me insurance!"
She pick the phone up and pressed the button. "Hello!" She chirped.
"Is that Mrs Jones?" Asked a voice she didn't recognise.
"Yes, it is." Gladys replied.
"I've got a job for you."
"I'm sorry, I'm happily retired."
Silence at the other end of the line until a sound like a nod with understanding. "Ok. Please can you come to," and then there was a pause and then an address which the secretarial blood flowing through Gladys' veins made her write down.
"Of course." Gladys said and then hung up, no intention to attend whatsoever.

The day she'd been told to attend hurried along quicker than she'd expected, and she was disappointed to discover that the trip to the Chinese she'd been expecting to go on with her son had been cancelled because he'd found another wealthy relative to go out with. Disheartened, she slumped back into her chair and saw the pad with the address circled on it. She had a free evening, as she normally did, what harm could it do?
At 19:00, she left home in her Honda CRV, giving her an additional hour and twenty minutes to get to  the location. She got there just in time after 80 minutes of angry horn beeping behind her and then circled up the slope to the roof of the multi-storey car park where a dubious looking youth was waiting by the boot of his car.  Gladys pulled to a stop and the youth ran over. She locked the door out of fright.
"Mrs Jones?" He asked.
Gladys unwound the window and looked out. "Yes?"
He looked taken aback. "You're not what I was expecting."
"What were you expecting, young man?" Gladys demanded.
The young man didn't answer, instead pointing over to the boot of his car and walking. Maybe this particular youth wasn't as dangerous as the others that stalked the village. She climbed out of the car and wandered over to the boot. He flipped it open and revealed a gun, like one of those from the video games her grandchildren played.
"It's one of those toys isn't it!" She cried.
"It's hardly a toy, Mrs Jones. It's a 50 calibre, grand distance assault rifle." The young man exclaimed.
"Dress it up all you like, it's still a toy." Gladys shook her finger.
"Look, are you going to do your thing or not?" The young man, suddenly agitated, demanded.
"Ok, ok." Gladys said, playing along. "What do you want me to do?"
"Take the gun, shoot over there."
Gladys couldn't help but frown. Why did he want her to play with his fancy toy? It was very nice, but she was an old woman. Really she couldn't be expected to put up with that kind of silliness. But she may as well. Something to tell the grandkids. She picked up the gun and went over to the edge of the carpark.
"What do you want me to 'shoot?'" Gladys asked, noting the heft of the gun.
"That window over there." The young man pointed.
"Pew pew!" Gladys said. "Pew-" she pulled the trigger and there was an ear wrenching explosion of sound as a tiny metal stud flew through the air and shattered a window. "My god!" Gladys screamed, spinning around with the gun and facing the youth. "What just happened?" She accidentally pulled the trigger and the young man's chest exploded. "Ah!" She screamed.

Far, far away at BT, or whatever it was the phone people were called nowadays, a young phone technician banged the desk in the realisation of a mistake.
"What is it Mike?" His co-worker asked.
"You know how I did that patch up job for that old bird in the village?" Mike said.
"Well I gave her the wrong number!"
"You did?"
"Yeah. Two people on my call list called Mrs Jones! I mixed them up."
"You better call the other one, explain the mistake."
Mike picked up the phone and dialled the number. Several rings and then suddenly someone picked up.
"Mrs Jones." Spoke a Russian accent. "Assassin for hire."

Monday, 5 January 2015

Are You Sitting Comfortably? (Part 2)

People were going missing. It had started as a sequence of missing cats, but had slowly begun to escalate into the decline of people in the small seaside town of Billings. Many people had blamed the Billings Bum Biter, a mythical creature who was rumoured to live under benches and bite your bum if you attempted to sit down. The council was beginning to worry, as was their forte, that the town may become a ghost town. There wasn't many people there in the first place, after all. William Jenkins and his wife Tabitha had always been interested in the genre of crime fiction- Tabitha had bought the Sherlock 3 series box set within an hour of it's release! They were so passionate about solving crimes that they'd bought each other deerstalkers the year previous, as well as painting their caravan the colours of the mystery machine.
When the tenth person went missing, Bill- William's preferred name- and Tabitha raced to their Dacier Duster and accelerated out into Billings to discover the true culprit once and for all!
The police, however, didn't want a couple of stupid amateurs in matching Dear Stalkers messing up the crime scene, so they sent them home. Bill and Tabitha were obviously quite upset by this, but, as Tabitha pointed out, the police didn't exactly like their idol 'Sherlock Holmes' at first, either. With boundless optimism and some doughnuts from the petrol station, the Jenkins jumped in their car and flew off, looking for clues.
They arrived in an old forest on the outskirts, the place the first victim went missing. They padded around the woods, searching for clues. Tabitha found one and grinned. It was a discarded phone. She ran to Bill and tried to give him a high five, as they did when they found a clue, but he left her hanging. His eyes were fixed on something in the far distance. It was a graveyard. It looked old, cobwebs and dust, but obviously it was new because of the dates. They were the graves of the people who had gone missing.
There was a crack and a scream behind him. He spun and saw a hooded figure, Tabitha slung over one shoulder, racing off into the obscured distance. Vowing to return at some point, he chased after the hooded figure. Plantation crumbled under foot and Bills face suddenly became cut and bruised from the springing branches he knocked. He came to a large building, a glorified shed of sorts, perched in the centre of the opening. The door was swinging in its rotten frame and he half expected it to fall apart as he knocked it open further. He walked into the darkness and felt a sudden unsteadiness because he could see. He pulled some matches from his pocket and lit a small light. Walking forwards, he looked around. It seemed empty but he felt something bump into his back. He spun but there was nothing to be seen. Running to a wall, he saw there was a light switch and he pulled it. Large lights on the roof flashed into life, blinding Bill. Once his eyes had begun working once more, he stared in horror at Tabitha, swinging from one side of the room to the other by a rope around her neck.
It wasn't the first time he'd left her hanging.

Friday, 2 January 2015

Are You Sitting Comfortably?

"He's coming!" Cried Peter, rushing through the giant golden gate and out to the edge of the gate. "He's coming to talk to us!"
"Why would he want to?" Asked Peter's apprentice. "We're just the human liaison."
Peter leant back against the giant pearl gate behind him and said, "I think that's the point."

Elsewhere, Trevor McDonald was walking down the street. Not the Trevor McDonald, I imagine ITV have copyright on his likeness, but in fact another man who shared the name. This Trevor certainly wasn't as impressive, and neither was his job. Working at KFC had been ok until they'd discovered his second name and the less intelligent ranks of staff, which he was the self nominated leader of, presumed him a spay sent by a certain clown. Nonetheless, Trevor was happy as he crossed the road that fateful day, Simon and Garfunkel loud in his ears through white Apple Earphones. I guess that's a good thing, because you shouldn't be upset when you're hit by a bus.
Instead of waking up in the 80's as certain television shows would suggest, Trevor woke up in a chair in the middle of a freezing cold expanse of whiteness. A man who looked nothing like Morgan Freeman strolled towards him and smiled, "Hello Trevor."
He gulped. "Hello. Who are you?" He paused a second. "Where am I?"
The man smiled back, "You know where you are and who I am."
In a way nothing like that of Sherlock Holmes in that modern programme, Trevor observed two of the details presented. The White Fluffy Beard and the heavenly whiteness could only mean one thing.
"This is the North Pole, and you're Santa!" Trevor exclaimed.
If the man hadn't been as majestic as he was, he might have face palmed.
"Tell me, where did you deliver my bike in 1987, because it never got to me."
"I'm not Santa, Trevor." The man replied, before suddenly realising something. "You are Trevor McDonald, World Respected News Broadcaster?"
"No." Trevor bobbed. "I'm Trevor McDonald, head of Customer Service at KFC."
"They got me the wrong person, again! I asked them for Fiona Bruce and they gave me an Australian drag queen. This is so typical. I need to warn my humans about how the world is going to end quite soon, and my incompetent staff can't abduct me a newsreader. Look, whilst you're hear, you may as well ask me a question."
"Who are you?"
He sighed. "I'm God, Trevor."
Trevor felt a sudden responsibility wash over him. On half of the human race should he ask fir an end to world hunger, or to end war, or to unite everyone in love and harmony?
Speaking of love and harmony, Trevor thought, "Can you put Simon and Garfunkel back together?"
"Sure." God said, and clicked his fingers.
The moral of this story is: You should never cross the road, unless you're a journalist.