Thursday, 30 April 2015

Publishing Demands (part 5)

We entered the bottom floor of the Glasgow Gazette's buildings and went over to the main reception desk, where I used the power of Lodders at my injured shoulder to demand entrance to the basement, where the printers were. The receptionist, who was surprisingly frightened, gestured one of the security people over and asked him to take us over. As we walked, Robin said, "I guess it makes sense that they'd be hidden here, as then they wouldn't have had to make the getaway in the black car."
"Exactly." I said.
"I did find one flaw with your logic, however." Robin said.
"You did?"
"Indeed. The police searched the entire building whilst you were in the hospital, so they would have found them."
"No." I said, shaking my head. "Because there's one place where you aren't allowed to go during the day, or night, remember?"
Robin went to say she didn't, but immediately remembered. "The printing press." She grinned.
"Exactly. And, if I'm right, we should find our culprits in the very centre of it."

The presses were huge machines, rolling cylinders encased in metallic struts, health and safety signs littering every destination of the eye. The sound of it's thundering printers echoed through the blue painted hall they inhabited, known as the Pressroom in most places. We went over to one of the many operators and told him to shut down, Lodders flashing his warrant card again when he refused. There was about ten minutes of the thunder calming and then a minute of gentle whirring, before the press' closed down. Lodders came back over to me, having spent the eleven minutes talking to his sergeants and the operator. "I hope you're right, Rathbone, because they're charging us twenty pounds for every half hour they have to have it switched off."
"You can tell he's angry cause he's calling you Rathbone." Robin pointed out.
I nodded. There was quite the chance I was wrong, but it was certainly worth the risk if I was right.
We thundered up the metal steps, over the bridges that looked down onto the rivers of fresh paper, and then jumping onto the iron platforms that were the control house. The Glasgow Gazette had unusual press' because they were controlled from the inside, meaning that during operating hours, they wouldn't be able to leave. It was also the entrance to the engine room, which was located directly beneath and housed the paper and ink supplies when they were filtered in. The operator in the room looked annoyed at the pause to printing, probably because it meant he wouldn't be paid, but he cheered right up when Lodders flashed his badge.
"This is becoming ridiculous how many people are scared of your badge." Robin said.
"The power of the law is a glorious thing." He replied.
"Mr Douglass, can you let us into the engine room?" I asked the operator.
He was hesitant at first, as if there was a reason why we couldn't enter the room, but then he nodded slowly. He went over to his desk and pulled out a single drawer, from which he drew a brass key on a length of ribbon. Then he put it into my outreached hand and wandered off, his eyes displaying an absent mind. I saw Lodders stick out a thumb and gesture for one of the sergeants to follow him, as Robin and I stepped around the circular entrance to the engine room. "Unto the abyss." I said, making my voice as melodramatic as possible.
"You are such a dramatist." She said, shaking her head. "I think you're in the wrong profession."
"And so are you." I said. "Such cynicism doesn't fit journalism- actually, yes it does. Ignore that."
I levered the key into the hole and twisted it, the manhole cover clicking and then opening as we heaved it up. There was a circular cage encased ladder leading down, but before anyone could go down it, I dropped something from my pocket down.
Six loud gunshots echoed from the hole.
"That must have hurt." Robin said. "I'd estimate they were fifty calibre bullets from the sound of the guns."
"Don't worry, those things wouldn't have felt a thing." I said. "They were painkillers."
She sighed.
"Peters!" Lodders called, gesturing the only one of his sergeants who'd thought to bring a bullet proof vest over. "You're going down first."
Peters gulped.
"When you get down there, check around for gunmen. If you see any, come straight back up. Do you understand?"
Peters nodded and went over to the ladder, beginning to make his way down. We heard each of the rungs thudding with his footsteps, felt every one of his worried breaths. And our hearts thundered with his as he landed on the floor at the bottom. We expected to hear more gunshots, the reverberations of the last still present in the ether, but there was no such sound. Just a surprisingly high voice shouting, "All clear down here."
"That means we're going to have to go down, doesn't it?" Robin asked.
"The things we do for justice." I said, and went over to the ladder.

The engine room was lit well, by strip lighting on the roof, and when the rest of the policemen entered, their fluorescent jackets only went to further shine alongside the barrels of paper. "This is gigantic." Robin said, staring at the pure immensity of the room. "Absolutely gigantic. It'll take hours to search. I'd be surprised if the Strathclyde Police's budget wasn't entirely spent on paying them upstairs for turning off the machines and, more importantly, forming a party to search this cavern."
"Found them." Shouted an officer about twenty yards in front. We all raced to him and looked down to the clearing of paper barrels, where the hostages were all- minus the editor, of course- being held.
"Well, that was quick." I said. "Where are the kidnappers, though?"
"Good question." Lodders said, turning around and raising his hand above his brow in a prolonged salute. He stared around the room and then shook his head. "They're nowhere to be seen. Something's wrong."
I hummed in agreement, and then there was the seventh gunshot of the evening. It was even louder down here, the sound waves reverberating from every wall, every fixture and every barrel, until they hit our ears and drowned out our hearts beating, never mind our thoughts. We all ducked behind the barrels instinctively, apart from Peters who looked very pleased with himself and showed that off by remaining standing. And getting shot in the head. I tell you something, if you think looking at corpses is horrific- which, in all rights, it is- try looking at a person becoming a corpse. Completely revolting doesn't evens stretch to cover it.
Lodders threw out his hands to gather his sergeant's attention, and began to tell them what needed to be done. "Priority is to get the hostages out. We don't go after the gunmen unless ordered."
But I didn't listen to him as I said that, because the gods of cliche and stereotypes were chattering away to me, and this time it was personal.
I leapt up and raced towards the gunmen, ducking behind barrels as they discharged their guns. Somehow, a bead of sweat must have eased it's way beneath my tightly packed shoulder because I felt a sudden spike of pain propel itself through my head, despite the explosions of sound around me as bullets dug holes into concrete pillars and metallic struts. My vision centred upon the gunmen and I realised that there was a definite chance I wasn't going to come out of the scrap with all of me left. It was in that instance I realised how much of an idiot I was.
I smashed into the main man with my good shoulder, knocking him to the floor and kicking him in the side. The other men turned their guns on me, so I rolled over with him on top of me. He became riddled with bullet holes, the close proximity gunshots hurting my ears. For a second I laughed at the fact that, with a pulverised shoulder, I was doing better in a fight than I'd normally do completely able bodied. Funny how things work out.
I slid one of my feet out and kicked one of the other men in the exact same way I'd once accidentally kicked the school's best promising footballer in Year Nine. That poor chap had gone on to become bank desk helper. A paralysed bank desk helper, which was surprising because I'd always suspected footballers wouldn't be able to count. That guy fell to the floor, dropping his gun, which accidentally set off and shot one of the other men in the ankle. It was going surprisingly well up to that point, but there were still another four men, and they were getting quite annoyed.
They nudged their dead boss from me and began to kick my sides, my legs, my head, anywhere their Dickies Boots could get. I squirmed up on the floor, each blow a thousand lights pushed up against my eyes, but ever worse, and thought happy thoughts. Like rabbits, books, Rachel and Pot Noodles.
Ah, how beautiful. Pot Noodles.

"So how was it done?" Rachel asked, as she drove me home from hospital three weeks after she was meant to have originally.
"How was what done?" I asked.
She sighed. She'd been doing that a lot recently, sighing. I think I'd annoyed her, potentially by being reckless in the engine room or possibly by running away from the hospital, but everything I'd tried to do to make it up to her had simply made it worse. I had that effect on people, I guess you could say. "The picture with the newspaper." She said.
"I thought that was obvious." I said, and then kicked myself for using such a term.
"Of course it is." She replied, offended I'd think she wouldn't understand. "I was just wondering whether your cognitive faculties were still working."
"Well, I guess that makes sense." I replied. "The kidnappers were in the basement all along then, right? With the hostages and the editor, more importantly. They came up with the picture thing around the same time we did, it was the obvious thing to do, really."
"And so they took a copy of the newspaper from upstairs on the day it was written, took the picture and arranged it. Then they sent it up to their guy in Comrie, how, I'm not sure, and set about killing the editor whilst we went about all our top secret shenanigans with the multiple letters, and everything."
She smiled. "Exactly what I thought."
"I was going to say you were looked beautiful when you smiled." I said. "But then, you always look beautiful."
She became silent as we drove, until we pulled onto the road where our apartment was. I went to over my mouth and she turned and snapped, "Don't think that I'm forgiving you, Gabriel. If there's one thing I'm good at, it's the cold shoulder."

Rathbone will return! (However, whether he'll be out of trouble or not by that point is another matter altogether.)

Monday, 27 April 2015

Publishing Demands (part 4)

We spent most of the day up at the police station closest to the scene of the crime, watching as particularly clever forensic officers pieced back together the body and attempted to work out the cause of death. DNA tests were taken, as well as pictures that were to be shown to the Editor's next of kin, if the DNA tests failed. His wife wasn't needed in the end, however, as the Editor had once broken into a shop as a kid, which meant his DNA was on record and easily identified. "It's who you thought, Rathbone." Blake told me. "Do you want me to send word ahead to Inspector Lodsbury?"
"No, don't worry." I said. "We need to return any time now, so I'll tell him myself. We're going to have to change our plans, though. No chance of paying a ransom now."
"Indeed." Blake laughed. "I'll get one of sergeants to give you a lift, Mr Rathbone." He stuck out a hand. "A pleasure to meet you."
"Pleasure to meet you, too." I smiled.
Blake repeated the process for Robin, who asked, "Can you give us a time of death, Inspector Blake?"
"We don't have specifics, Miss Greenhouse, however we expect it was some point before the last twenty four hours. I'll forward you an exact time when we get one."
"Thank you." Robin said, shaking his hand. "I look forwards to working together soon in the future."
As we climbed into the sergeant's car, Robin said, "It makes you think, the kidnappers had no intention to ever take the picture, or any of that."
"Indeed." I replied. "You've got to wonder though, why did they go through all that rigmarole if they had no intention to do it? What did they spend the time doing instead?"
Robin shivered. "I'd prefer not to think."

We pulled up outside the only other police station in Glasgow and raced up the steps, taking passes from the lady at the desk. I attempted to move my arm as I ran, but felt a slight twinge of pain racing through me. In the heat of the corpse's discovery, I'd almost forgotten what had happened. That, or the painkillers I'd almost overdosed on were too good.
There was a buzz in the air as we entered Lodders' office, a buzz that didn't seem to fit the morbid news we were about to present. "Gabriel?" Lodders asked. "Whatever's the matter?"
"The body in the Clyde belonged to the Editor of the Glasgow Gazette." I said.
Lodders stared at me, bemusedly. "What?"
"The body that was pulled out of the Clyde was the editor of the Gazette. He'd been ripped apart by the water, suggesting he'd been in there a while, and the forensics officers thought that he'd been dead for about twenty four hours." Robin explained.
"That doesn't make sense." Lodders said. "Look what we've just received."
He handed me a ripped open brown envelope with a large picture protruding from it. I took the picture and stared. "That's not possible." I said.
Robin, on her tip toes, stared over my shoulder at it, announcing, "But that was taken today, purportedly, right? The Editor was dead yesterday."
The picture was of the kidnapped people holding the newspaper we'd posted them, stood in a dark room with plenty of stubble on their faces, the same stubble as was on the Editor's head.
"Is this some kind of wind up, Gabriel?" Lodders asked. "It's certainly not in the best spirit."
"No, I'm being serious." I said, slumping into a chair. "Check with Blake, if you want."
Lodders gestured to a sergeant to do so.
"That means this picture is a fake." Lodders said.
"Obviously." Robin said. "Question is, why? And how?"
"It's not a fake." I said, everything dawning on me. "And I reckon I know where they're being held."
"Somewhere near the River Clyde isn't a location." Lodders said.
"Don't worry." I grinned. "Much more specific than that. Now, quickly. To a car!"

Lodders drove us out from the police station in a battered old Vauxhall Astra. I rode shotgun, Robin annoyed in the back, and gave directions at every junction. "I don't see why you can't just tell us where we're going?" Robin cried.
"It'd spoil the surprise." I said. "Turn left here."
"Robin has got a point, Gabriel." Lodders said. "I always like to know where I'm going when I set off. There's a reason why Sat Navs don't have a random destination button."
"Well, personally, I think that would be a brilliant feature." I said. "Imagine all the fun you could get up to! Right here."
"Hang on, I know where we are." Robin said. "Are you sure about this Gabriel?"
"Of course." I said. "Where else to hold the victims, if not the place where they were kidnapped from?"
And with that, we pulled to a stop outside the Pavilion Post's building.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Publishing Demands (part 3)

"Where's Inspector Lodsbury?" I demanded, as we walked into the Police Station.
The desk sergeant briefly looked up from his desk and said, "He's in his office. Who's looking for him?"
"Gabriel Rathbone." I said. "We've got a breakthrough with the Glasgow Gazette Kidnapping."
The desk sergeant's eyes widened, looking up. "You better come this way, sir." She said, and led me and Robin through a myriad of corridors into the control room for the case. Lodders and a group of other brightly coloured policemen stood in front of a white board with pictures of the missing people.
"Inspector, some people think they've got evidence on the Glasgow Gazette case."
Lodders turned around and cried, "Gabriel? Why aren't you in the hospital?"
"Who can lie around when there are cases to be solved?" I asked. "The black car the eye witnesses saw doesn't exist."
"I told you!" One of the other officers cried. When we looked at her, she explained, "One of the cameras I looked at earlier didn't show footage of the car. Only the minority of footage showed it, yet most of those were the more trustable of sources."
"What's the conclusion, then?" Lodders asked. "They were kidnapped by a phantom car?"
"Well, obviously," Robin said, "the footage with the car was fake, planted almost. Your trustable sources weren't too trustable."
"That doesn't explain the eye witness reports." A sergeant pointed out.
"Who gave the reports?"
"The usuals." Lodders said, picking up a printed manuscript of the interviews. "The Homeless, shop keepers, taxi drivers."
"The Homeless are easily bribed, shop keepers are unreliable due how busy they are, and taxi drivers never tell the truth to police!" I cried. "And anyway, even if any of them had seen a car, it's quite possible they saw it a few days before and got confused. It would explain how the footage was filmed, and the main cameras were bribed to replay the footage."
"So we're back to square one." Lodders said.
"Yes, but we know something definitely." I said. "The kidnappers can't be far away."
At that exact moment, a desk sergeant ran in. "We've a call from the kidnappers."
"Patch it through." Lodders announced, "Julian trace it will you?"
Julian nodded and clicked a button as Lodders pressed the speaker switch on the phone. "Hello?" He called.
"Is this Inspector Lodsbury I address?" A morphed voice asked.
"Yes, yes it is. May I ask your name?"
"No, you may not." The voice replied. "How is the ransom coming along?"
"It isn't. We don't have any proof that the hostages are still alive."
"Then how do you ask for proof?"
Lodders pondered for a moment, but I knew he already had a plan, he was just buying time for Julian to find their location. I quickly swallowed a pain killer, as my shoulder throbbed. Lodsbury cleared his throat, announcing, "You are to take a picture of the hostages alongside todays edition of the Pavilion Post. You send it to us and then, only then, do we begin to consider your demand."
There was a sudden beep and Julian threw his thumbs up.
"I presume that means you've just tracked us?" The distorted voice asked. "As you can see, we're a fair way out."
"They're right sir, they're on the frontier of Comrie." Julian said. "Although, further up that way, you wouldn't be able to get a good phone reception."
"Your tracking man is right. We are further in the countryside than it would appear, I just took a ride to the frontier so I could make this call. Now, here's the deal, by post, it's going to take a day for the paper to arrive by our calculations, so you send tomorrows. When that arrives, the day after, we'll send you a photo by post, due to the lack of wifi for an email. That'll take a day to get to you. When it does, then you can send us the ransom. Understood?"
Lodders replied positively. "We'll phone you when we send it."
And with that, he hung up. "Julian, get down to the tech department, I want a tracker in the envelope with the paper tomorrow. Perry, take an off roader from the carpool, get to the frontier, ask around for the sign of any land rovers or other vehicles like that. It would probably be logical to look for them."
"Consider it done, Inspector." They both said, hurrying off.
"Right then, Gabriel, Robin. Time to settle down for the night."

The Following Night

"There we go then." Lodders said, as we watched the bleeping icon in the letter come to a stop on the screen. "The address we were given at the pub was pretty helpful, with the half dozen officers we posted there."
"Posted being the optimum word." I laughed.
"Quite." Lodders replied.
A phone at the back of the room began to ring loudly, screeching it's trill at all of us, still ignoring it. One of the sergeants picked it up and answered it, holding it in the crook of their shoulder, announcing, "A body has washed up in the Clyde. Do you want it?"
"Give it to Blake." Lodders said. "We're still busy on this."
"Mind if I go have a look?" I asked.
"Sure." Lodders shrugged. "I've never seen you so restless."
"Something isn't right." I said. "I can feel it."
Lodders laughed. "You're so paranoid."

One of the sergeants gave us a lift to the docks, where the body had been pulled out of the water. Bit by bit. There was a separate examination table for each body park, after the water had ripped the body parts apart. "You used to looking at corpses?" Blake asked, as I and Robin stared at the chest.
"Yes, we've inspected quite a few." Robin explained. "By the looks of things, this one was tortured before death."
"Barbaric really." Blake said. "How anybody can bring themselves to do something like this, well I don't know."
"Can we have a look at the head?" I asked, stepping away from the torso.
"Sure." Blake gestured. "It's over here."
We walked over and the forensic officers cleared away around it, showing us the head. It was disfigured, but easily recognisable. Robin gasped. "Good God, that's the editor of the Glasgow Gazette!"

Monday, 13 April 2015

Publishing Demands (part 2)

"Do you want me to arrange counselling for you?" Lodders asked, after we turned off the news.
"I think I'll be able to cope." I replied. "Just, get out there and investigate without me."
"However will we solve the case?" Lodders laughed, climbing up. He bid me the best of luck getting better and then made his way out, gesturing Rachel in. Robin looked up and saw her walking in, ducking under the door frame.
"I should probably go." Robin said, making to leave.
"Only if you can come back at nine o clock, with my things. Bring them in a brown paper bag."
As Rachel stepped into ear shot, Robin mouthed, "Why?"
I nodded, widening my eyes in a manner that said, "Just do it," and then turned to Rachel smiling.
"Hey, how are you?" She asked, bending over to kiss me on the cheek.
"Good thanks."I replied. "Although, for reasons unknown, my shoulder does hurt."
Rachel laughed and sat down in the seat Robin had just exited. "Hi, Robin!" She grinned.
"Hello." Robin said, before turning around. "I was just going. See you later, maybe."
"I know what you said," I told Rachel, once Robin was gone, "but I still don't understand what's up with her."
Rachel sighed. "I'll explain it to you at some point when I have much more patience and will power! Now," she continued, reaching to her bag, "I bought you some grapes, but then I remembered you were allergic to them and, more to the point, I saw some adorable chaffinches, so I decided to feed them instead."
"Your concern is much appreciated." I smiled, leaning back.

When the radio controlled clock on the wall announced it was nine o clock, Robin rushed through the door, over to my bed and pulled the curtain around, so that nobody could see. I climbed out of bed, my right shoulder stinging, and opened the bag with my left arm. It stung slightly as I pulled each item out and smiled, before feeling terror spread through my face as I saw my beloved red and black top. The right shoulder had been cut off, leaving a large opened gap. "What in the name of all that is holy have you done to my shirt?"
"I cut a hole for your sling to go through." She replied, as if it wasn't a problem.
"But this is my favourite shirt!"
"It's not a shirt. It's a top." She protested.
"What does that matter?" I asked.
"Well, you can hardly accuse me for destroying your shirt if I haven't destroyed a shirt."
I sighed, knowing there was no chance I would win that particular argument. I knelt down and, struggling, pulled my socks on, before standing up and staring at Robin.
"What?" She asked.
"Aren't you going to exit the cubicle?" I asked.
"You sound like an air stewardess."
"The exits are there, there and there." I replied, sarcastically. To point to 'there' I had to lean my left arm over my sling, which caused endless pain, but a look of humour from Robin.
Whilst I recovered, I continued to stare, before saying, "Aren't you going to get out then?"
I grimaced, frustratedly, "I can't changed if in you're in here."
She widened her eyes in bemusement and scepticism. "Seriously?"
"Just get out." I insisted.
"You are such a child." She muttered, walking out.
"That isn't an insult." I replied, and then, happy she'd got out, began to change.
I whipped back the curtains and stepped out, pulling my jacket over my shoulders. "You look like a mob boss." She told me.
"Good you mean?"
She furrowed her brow.
I shrugged, causing pain, but still managing to say, "Vanity is my favourite sin."
"What's the plan, then?" She asked, packing my typewriter into the large grey case.
"I know that normally we wouldn't do kidnapping cases, but this time," I grinned, "it's personal."
"Now you sound like a mob boss."
I grinned. "We're going to run our own covert investigation, and hopefully find these perpetrators before they do something stupid."
"Right, have you got bail?"
"This isn't a prison." I said. "And anyway, I haven't been discharged. They're all too worried about me, which is partly why we've gone behind Rachel's back about this."
Robin's face lit up like something a lot more efficient than the Blackpool Illuminations. "Let's go then."
She carried my typewriter, due to it being so heavy, and we made our way into the corridor. I'd chosen nine o clock as our break out time due to that time being when I knew the nurses rotations best. "How do you know the rotations so well?" Robin asked.
"I spent a lot of time in hospitals when I was young with my sister." I explained, not wanting to go into further detail. It was still a bit of a sore subject. "As exciting as a heart monitor machine is, it got boring sometimes, so myself and my brother would go off and make notes on the rotations."
"You and your brother were weird."
"What do you mean 'were'?" I asked. "We still are."
We ducked into a doorway as a nurse passed the bottom of the corridor, and then darted out and down the stairs. We managed to sneak through the reception and into the car park and then we ran to the bus stop. After such a daring escape, it was a slight anti-climax as we waited twenty minutes for a bus to pull to a stop.

On the bus, myself and Robin went through our plan of action. "We need to get to the street that the Gazette is based on." I explained. "There's a selection of security cameras on it, and I'm sure at least one will have picked up the car. We don't need to track it, because I'm sure the police are doing that already. We just need the registration plate number. Then we can move out in general skills, deductions based on the size of the men there, their characteristics and the way they do things. Understand?"
She nodded. "I think we may be able to sort some of that already, I think."
It turned out Robin had a friend who owned a shop opposite, who also had security cameras. "Brilliant." I grinned.

Camilla, Robin's friends, had two important things. An awful name and a lot of cats, and I mean a lot of cats. "Have I seen this one already?" I asked, as a ginger tabby cat pursued my ankle.
"No. That's Benjamin." Camilla explained. "The other ginger tabbies you've seen are called Alexander, Chris, Dusk, Evergreen, Freud and Gabriel."
I rolled my eyes. I'd almost forgotten she had a cat called Gabriel.
"Well, they're all charming, aren't they?" Robin insisted, stroking the one I think was called Alexander.
"Yes, completely." I lied. I was more of a isolated book freak than a cat person. I gently kicked Benjamin away and said, "So, Camilla, can I have a look at the CCTV?"
"Sure." She said, gesturing towards a selection of TV screens. "The cameras all face the front of the Gazette Building, so the police have all looked at them various times."
I switched the button on, the video already fast forwarded to the correct time from the last police viewing.
"However, as I'm sure you can see, it doesn't show you what you want to see."
"I'm sorry?" I asked, staring at the screen, but she was right. The black car the eye witnesses had seen was no where on the screen. "That's curious." I said. "That's very curious."

Monday, 6 April 2015

Publishing Demands

“I despise meetings.” I told Robin, as we sat in the waiting room outside the Glasgow Gazette’s Editor’s Office.
“Really?” Robin replied, sarcastically. “I don’t think you’d told me that enough times.”
“Sorry.” I replied. “It’s just the constant need to wait that annoys me. I mean, what does any of this achieve? I have a weekly article on page 8. Do I really need to be here to help Lawrence Brooks beg for the Glasgow Gazette to give us another six months use of their printers?”
“Well, he could always be doing what Rachel suggested.” Robin said, but I could tell her it was annoying to admit my girlfriend was right.
I sighed. Rachel had said the other night, whilst we dropping Robin back at her flat, that Brooks might sell the Rathbone Investigates Column to the Gazette, in an attempt to broker a peace treaty almost. “It would certainly explain why we’ve been brought here.” Robin said. “How would you feel about working for the Gazette?”
“I’d miss writing Pavilion Post on the envelopes of my drafts.” I said, then realised how petty that sounded. “But, what would we be without change?”
“Exactly.” Robin replied. “I”d quite enjoy it. Should be nice to work somewhere outside your flat.”
More so she didn’t have to put up with Rachel as much. I really didn’t see why she was so concerned about that.  I went to mention it but was rudely interrupted by a gunshot. It was the type of sound that normally I’d never hear, just see the after effects of. And then, quite strangely, a quirk of the speed of sound and light, I saw the after effects before the sound. The door handle in the corner of the claustrophobic waiting room exploding into a hundred splinters of wood and then, as the door was kicked open, I heard the ricocheting bang, ripping through the air. Six men, dressed in black, marched through the door and I had a terrible flash back to a night the previous September, when a group of bailiffs had paraded through the flats I lived in. But it wasn’t them now, I knew that for sure because Lochlan McFarlan, leader of the bailiffs, was behind bars thanks to me. The question was, who were this lot. And why in the name of all sanity were they facing a gun at me?
“Where’s the Editor?” The leader asked. It was a Comrie accent if ever I knew one.
I looked him dead in the eye, or at least dead in the slit of balaclava wool where his eyes should be, and defiantly said, “Which one?”
The next thing I knew, my shoulder was reduced to nothing more than a pulped soup of oozing blood and constant pain, but it didn’t last very long, because next I was unconscious.

“You’re a very lucky man, Mr Rathbone.” The Nurse was telling me, a week later. “A few inches to the right and I doubt you’d still be alive.”
I smiled weakly. To my side, a heart monitor was beeping slowly. Stiff blankets enveloped me a cliched cocoon of warmth, but it was an unmovable cocoon nonetheless. A wobbly table on wheels was positioned over my bed and there was a chair to the side that Rachel and Robin took shifts to sit at and smile politely, masking a wall of terror. I’d been in this same position for maybe a week now, and the Doctors expected there to be another four weeks until my shoulder was safely healed.
With that, the Nurse turned on her heal and began to walk away. There were three other patients in my ward and two of them would stare at me angrily when I used my free hand to press the keys of my typewriter. The other patient, an older man who insisted the only reason he paid a snobby ginger  lad to deliver the Pavilion Post to his house was to read my article, was fascinated by the typewriter, and often wandered out of bed to come and look at it; much to be annoyance of the Nurses.
"I've never seen such a fine Olympia Deluxe, good sir." He said, prodding it with his finger.
"Thank you." I replied. "It's one of my pride and joys."
The double doors at the end of the ward swung open and a nurse hurried in, ushering Inspector Lodsbury after her. "Good to see you, Gabriel." The Inspector said, accepting the chair as the other patient strolled back to his bed. "How're you beating up?"
"Good, thanks." I replied, offering my left hand to shake. "I miss home, though."
"Looks like you've got all your earthly possessions sorted." He said, gesturing to the Typewriter.
"It was kind of Rachel to bring it," I grinned, "but I feel embarrassed not being able to type at my amazingly high speeds."
Lodders laughed. "You do type very quickly."
I smiled. "So, Lodders, why are you here?"
"I knew you'd be interested, so I've got you the details of the abduction."
"What happened?" I asked, interested.
"The men went into the office and made a few threats to the people inside. According to those we can interview, they had a methodical search method. Using this, they managed to separate the Editor of the Glasgow Gazette and his six key journalists from the visiting Pavilion Post staff and lead them out at gunpoint. According to sources inside the building, they led the hostages out into the street and loaded them into a black car, maybe a Range Rover. The police turned up about ten minutes after they left."
I nodded. "Any sign of them since?"
"No, so we're fearing the worst."
I nodded. "I guess I got off rather lucky, all considering."
Lodders cast a glance over my shoulder. "That is a truly worrying concept."
At that exact moment, the twin doors burst open, revealing Robin, running at full pace. "Quickly, put the news on!"
The old man in the next bed leant over and pressed the on button. The large television flickered into life and showed us ITV.
"Oh, I love Dickinson's Real Deal!" One of the ladies across the ward exclaimed.
"Put it on BBC 1!!" Robin exclaimed.
The old man pressed 1 on the remote and the BBC channel appeared. A stern looking newsreader was staring into the camera, announcing, "In a turn of events, the armed gunmen present at the Glasgow Gazette building have released a ransom demand. Some viewers may find the following images disturbing."
A grainy video appeared, showing the Glasgow Gazette's editor being held at gunpoint. A muffled voice, it's words matching those of the white subtitles beneath, announced, "You have six days to pay us one million pounds for every person we have hostage. Otherwise, they die."