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."

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