The man who died twice.
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If you like what you read, then this and other stories are available in my book 'Mr Fletcher.' Check out the homepage for details of how to get this.
I'm currently working on my second novel (The Saderstrohm Prophecies) but have decided not to self publish my first 'Fallen Leaves,' and instead have opted to search for an agent first.
Read excerpts from this from the homepage, see what you think, and wish me luck.
27A Melbourne Avenue, Cheshire, England. Saturday 31st August 1991.
For Justin it was just another slow, lingering torment laden day.
Every single day, every single molecular wrenching event a constant source of worry and apprehension.
It hadn’t always been like this.
Everything seemed somehow different now, but the strangest thing was that he could not recall the day…The day it all changed.
It was the shrill tone of the alarm, the loudest of three on his mobile, that had awoken him with an almighty slam of ear splitting nausea. Turning for the intrusion angrily he instinctively tapped snooze for another thirty minutes of blissful ignorance.
It was short lived.
He instantly became aware of a huge dirty fly, buzzing repugnantly around his head.
Flies were dirty, he hated flies, filthy, putrid beasts that feast on vomit and defile the very air you breathe.
Twenty minutes later the tiny putrid beast was no more and he was alone once again, deep within his dreams.
When he finally awoke, his first thought was to go and check the windows and doors for any sign of a break in.
Satisfied, he headed for the bathroom.
He caught his reflection in the bathroom mirror, looked at himself solemnly and tapped his left cheek precisely four times with the palm of his right hand, then moved onto the toothbrush.
After four minutes of vigorous brushing until his gums bled dry, he returned the toothbrush to its pristine clear glass of exactly four millilitres of mouthwash solution.
He sighed, today was a day he was not looking forward to. It was Friday and the next few days away with Frances had been planned previously, but this did not stop the constant panic attacks and intense feelings of despair from the very moment she had suggested the idea.
How was he going to hide it?
He didn’t want anyone to find out about his secret habit…about his daily rituals.
She was due to arrive at eleven…a little over two hour’s time. There was much to be done first.
He dressed, pulled on his jacket and stepped out of the house. Upon locking the door, he stood motionless in the open air, then turned back several times to check if it was locked by way of four gentle shoves. Once satisfied he headed for the local grocery store.
Mr. Raani the store owner was his ever usual happy self and greeted him with a smile and the obligatory ‘Morning, nice day today isn’t it?’ that awaited each customer, every single day.
Justin raised a nervous smile as he passed Mr Raani. He was just another gluttonous conglomerate who was more concerned with acquiring his money than his friendship.
Sometime later he arrived home sweating repulsively. He’d endured the Grocery store, the Post office queue and the terrifying walk home past all the strangers and disease ridden public, but for now it was all over. For now he was safely home within his own protective shell.
At times he wondered if all the tension, all the turmoil that lived in his head would ever go away, would one day end. Then sometimes he’d want more…More talk, more vile suggestions, more chaos. In a twisted kind of way the voices in his head taunted him, but they also served to soothe him, to caress and nurture his psyche.
Frances arrived at eleven thirty five...
A little late, but being on time was never one of her most saintly traits. The Lake District beckoned, a two hour leisurely drive away.
He feared his own mind.
Luckily, the trip was uneventful and the remainder of the day was stress free.
It was the morning rituals he feared the most.
He awoke early the next day, immersed in brilliant amber light. Earths nearest star was heralding the start of a brand new day and had chosen his humble canvas shelter as a starting point to announce its glory to the world.
Brilliant orange light danced across his vision, minute dust particles liberated by the light sparkled and soared like weightless particles of gold from some long forgotten fairy lore. Somewhere in the distance a tractor was rumbling across a corn field and a cuckoo was singing.
And somewhere in Justin’s head the voices too were just beginning to stir.
He couln’t recall when the voices in his head had begun, as he reflected on the finer points of his life.
Amongst many other suppositions his favourite thought at the moment was the idea that he may have just been born with certain flawed synapses. Or maybe his torturous childhood played a part, or maybe it was ‘good old paranoid schizophrenia,’ a derogatory, hurt-felt phrase that he’d rained down freely upon himself throughout his bewildering teenage years.
His blue tablets were of no use and served him little refrain from his turmoil.
They only served to control the voices but not suppress.
On days like today the voices actually became a friend
…so why the hell would he want to silence his friend.
Friends can be good, occasionally, they were a colossal pain in the backside, but you wouldn’t want your friends to be quiet all the time.
So why take the tablets indefinitely?
The voices were a mere whisper inside his tortured head, albeit a slower, rasping evil drawl of a whisper and somewhat slightly akin to a Hollywood, demonical possession slither.
He glanced over at Frances.
She was still sleeping, a little slurry of saliva hung from her lips as her breasts slowly heaved in sync with the rhythm of her heart beneath that hideous pink sleeping bag of hers. Justin longed for her…yearned to kiss her soft, pink lips and fondle her soft nubile breasts as she slept…but the voices had other desires.
They wanted to hurt her, to carve her open and inter her twisted innards to every corner of the globe.
He could not shake the voices or the constant twitches or the vomit induced feelings of nausea. He longed for them to fade at times like this, so his heart could soar once again, yearned for the voices to fly away or vanish into the abyss, never to rise again.
Why the hell did everything have to be in fours though? He hollowed inwardly.
He knew the answer long before his thoughts had even begun to nurture…because the voices bid him so.
A slave to the voices, he could not resist any longer. Reaching forward, his right hand outstretched he connected with Frances’s taut, squashy breasts. Gently he traced four, gracious caressing touches across the sleeping bag…then withdrew sharply.
His hands began to tingle, to crave more from the female beside him, but his head oblivious to his hand yearned for her heart only. But, the head sought more of a meal with the fleshy organ, fried, sliced and gently seasoned with garlic.
Frances stirred, oblivious to his lecherous touch, then wearily massaged her temples.
“What time is it…?” She asked wearily.
“Just after nine.” He replied with a cruel smile.
“Camping heh, who suggested it? My backs killing me on this floor, I didn’t sleep much…you?”
“Slept okay suppose. You were asleep all night, I woke up a couple of times for the toilet but you were always away with the fairies.”
“Was I? I coulda sworn I woke up a coupla times, must have dreamt it.”
“Well if you did, you must have woken up when I was asleep, but you did seem to sleep well.”
“Hmmm.” She yawned, placed a hand over her eyes and squinted. “Suns a bit bright today. How long you been up?”
“Bout an hour, been down to the local shed that passes for a shop. Got a local crappy newspaper, some bacon and eggs and a few cans of coke, but nothing much else happened.”
“Got any cans left my throats a bit dry?”
“Yer I’ll get you one, I left them in the car. I Borrowed your keys hope you don’t mind, just that there’s not much room in here to store anything.”
“No no. Not a problem.” She yawned, unzipped her sleeping bag and shook herself free.
“So what you wanna do today? There’s some nice walks around the lake and some fantastic views if we can manage to climb some hills…what do you say?”
“Yer suppose so. We’ll have a look around take in the views, might even find a nice pub or two.” Justin countered.
“Yer sounds good I’ll get dressed.”
She crouched with her neck slightly cricked to one side, one of the more unglamorous parts of two people occupying a confined space. She was clothed in a striped purple and red bra and beige hiking shorts.
“I’ll…eh, I’ll. Yer I’ll just go and wait outside, take a walk or something whilst you get dressed.” Justin stumbled nervously.
“It’s okay I’ll get dressed over at the shower block you can wait here. It’s not all that cold today I’ll put my cardigan around me and go over.”
She gathered up her towel along with numerous beauty products, her hairbrush and clothes and pottered away towards the shower block.
Justin followed her with lecherous, scrutinizing eyes as he drooled inwardly at her firm butt and merciful bouncing breasts as she swayed happily away towards the showers.
Once out of sight his actions swayed into automatic. Completely out of his control, he scrambled instinctively for his rucksack and nervously fumbled around inside. Then he had it, his most precious possession…his other true friend.
Clasping it high into the light of the sun that continued to stream relentlessly through the canvas, he began to sneer as the cool, polished sparkle of steel reflected ominously in his eyes. She was nothing but a whore to him, a cheap dispensable commodity he no longer required. For too long they had been friends, but now that friendship had to end.
Of course Justin wanted nothing at all to do with this hideous, unspeakable act of violence that he was about to commit. Only the voices had commanded and spoken, and he was their docile, malleable receptacle.
Taking in the benign beauty of the pristine polished metal he drew a slow, sensual drawn out sigh then tapped the handle four times with his right thumb…then proceeded to hasten countless more groups of quadruple taps until his ears caught the trundling sounds of Frances footwork just beyond the canvas.
The throbbing voices in his head intensified as he spied her return with hankering, wet lips and kicked himself for resisting the urge to touch her, or even try to fondle or make love previously.
He desired her, lusted for her and yearned for his mighty tool of creation to soothe, explore and penetrate her with gentle but relentlessly firm, lurid and rhythmical thrusts. Voices that had been circling inside his head now began to swarm, coalesce, evolve and dance around his miscreant psyche like a vast approaching locust swarm intent on destroying his entire crop of sickly, sweet-centred angelic synaptic pathways.
Deep within his own head he desperately strived to swat the locusts away, aggressively splaying them with mighty flamethrowers, pesticides and outlawed napalm. It was all to no avail as a single swarm, a single voice came together as one, strong, relentless, determined, rising in crescendo and pitch until he swore his head would actually implode.
“Go away. go away.” He screamed.
Throwing both hands up to his throbbing temple he fell to his knees and cried.
“Kill the bitch.” The voices raged.
In his head battles were raged, whilst his heart loosened its grasp upon the last hardy soldiers of love as it began to fade into the miscreant abyss of eternal damnation.
Frances heard his cries as she approached and called out to him. Slowly prising open the tent flaps she delicately peered inside, afraid of what she might see but concerned for her friends welfare. She’d had her suspicions over the last few months that his medication was failing, his mind becoming weaker, allowing the demons to take control once again. Little, subtle signs that only a true friend would notice, the nervous twitch of the neck, the wiping of the nose with outstretched forefinger, the headaches, the sweating, the OCD returning. All had begun to resurface with alarming regularity.
She had only seen her friend like this once before and it freaked her to the deepest, darkest corner of her soul, but by some means, though she knew not how, she held on, lifted her head up, banished her own fears aside and stood steadfast at her friend’s side.
Eventually, together they had conquered his mind.
But the dark psyche within Justin had only retreated, regrouped…it never lost the war.
The dark troops were massing inside his head again, and they craved revenge more than a teenager craved their freedom.
She presumed the ominous glint of silvery blue that bore down towards her were the bright cool tones of that magnificent nuclear furnace up above. Only as the cold, numb blade penetrated her flesh, swiftly ripping and tearing a jagged searing line across her chest did the realization hit.
Justine thrust and ripped at her with the ferocity of a cornered beast and the instinctive mindset of ‘kill or be killed.’ He reached out across her breasts and held them firmly with his left hand, caressing them as his right had continued to stab, rip and claw. Warm, raspberry blood covered his clothes, his hands and his face as he licked his lips in admiration and continued his deadly caress.
Frances fought back hard but the shock, the pain, the insidious comprehension that death may be moments away was too strong and she slowly succumbed to the haze. Initial screams began to ebb away into the cool morning air, swiftly replaced by slow rhythmical rasps, and then finally concluding in a slow drawn out wisp of wheezing, escaping air as her lungs lapped up their last fill of life.
Justin’s hand still caressed her breasts as she fell, her eyes fixed upon him in a convulsed and diverse state of fear, bewilderment and love.
Then, the army of darkness retreated once more as he silently sauntered back into the battlefield of his mind. Falling abruptly to his knees he dropped the blade and howled piercingly to the heavens above.
Sometime later after checking and re-checking his pristine, polished blade he hurriedly ran over to the shower block to wash away the scarlet stains of life from his person.
He passed a small boy and his Father coming out of the block as he entered and snapped a terse “Morning,” then scurried along on his merry way. The father chose not to reply, there was something about the stranger that unnerved him, as he casually took his sons hand and hastened their steps. Not daring to look back.
Justin stepped or rather fell into the shower. He concluded that people must have heard Frances screams and time therefore was something he did not possess in abundance and hell would soon break loose once more. Luckily it was Justin who passed the Father and his son, and not his own personal dark entity that dwelled insidiously within his head.
Approaching distance sirens caught his ear as he began to scrub furiously away at the last remaining globules of dark plasma.
A few still remained but there was no time.
Slipping on his shorts he gathered the remainder of his clothes and crashed through the rear fire exit. Stumbling towards the road on the far side of the field he located a secluded ditch and leapt inside. Slowly inching his head above the brow of the ditch, he watched trembling as a squad car entered the main entrance of the campsite.
What the hell have I done? What am I doing? he scolded.
Oh God. What the hell is the matter with me?
Quickly he eased into the remainder of his attire.
A sudden ‘Snap’ of twigs followed by a loud, snotty sniff alerted his obsessive, heightened senses.
“What you doing in the ditch? I saw you run over here.”
Above him through a small gap in the hedge, that screened the ditch from the road, stood a small boy maybe six or seven years of age. He was clutching a muddy white football and clad in blue shorts atop a matching blue and white striped t-shirt of equal, if not a greater magnitude of dirt.
“I’m playing hide and seek. I’m hiding from my girlfriend in the shower, but then I saw her coming so I ran over here to hide.”
The boy look puzzled then countered;
“That’s cheating; you’re supposed to stay in the one place til she finds you. You can’t run away and hide again.”
“Pretty smart for a small boy aren’t you.” Justin hissed.
“Wanna play penalties.” The boy sniffed, oblivious to the compliment he had just been paid.
“No thanks, go away I’m hiding remember.”
“Can’t go away.”
“Why not? Just go.”
“Gotta stay here and wait for my dad.”
“Dad where…I mean what do you mean wait, where is he…your Dad?”
“Just coming we’ve been to visit the toy market. I got this football.”
The boy turned and indicated back towards the far end of the road, just beyond a curve in the distance.
A males voice broke the still country air.
“Tom wait there, don’t cross the road.”
Oh shit. Justin mouthed under his breath.
“You swore.” The boy laughed. “Dad there’s a man in the ditch here swearing.”
“Come back here Tom, come here now.” The voice cried with a now elevated degree of concern.
The boy smiled innocently.
Justin sighed, then scampered out of the ditch and ran.
After just a few yards he stopped, turned back towards the boy then walked calmly back to the ditch. His demeanour, his gait and his general air had suddenly changed.
“Hey kid.” Justin shouted. “I’m gonna fucking kill ya.”
Justin was sat in a dull, shredded beige leather armchair inside a cramp darkened cell, encased within the walls of his own mind. Tapping his fingers furiously in rapid sets of four along the arms of the bedraggled armchair he roared with anger.
Let me out. Can anyone hear me? Let me out you sick cowards.
He was now a prisoner of the army of his own darkness and they had just dispatched their best warrior to quash the innocent, grubby football boy by the hedge.
Police Constable Geoff Harris had just returned from extended leave. There’d been the usual pat on the back. The obligatory ‘how you holding up,’ ‘sorry for everything mate.’ ‘Hope you’re fine,’ ‘really sorry to hear what happened, if there’s anything…’ and finally the obligatory ‘good to have you back.’
All that pumped up sad perceived transference directed at him. Nobody could really discerned his pain though, could even experience one iota of his soul obliterating pain.
The hardest part of the last three months had been the loneliness, the numb silence and the auditory hallucinations of his son’s excitable tones. Now he was back in the thick of things, a fresh unforeseen challenge had surfaced. He sighed as the memory of a lonely house returned to him.
No boisterous, foul mouthed, ill-mannered slob of a teenager there to greet him, dressed violently asunder in ripped jeans and ‘Snow patrol’ T-shirt silently slurring demonic mutterings under his heavy, tobacco stained breath.
…God he missed Benjamin.
His second wife Jeannette had died of cancer just before Benjamin’s third birthday. Heart heavy with tears and breath laden with sadness he made a last, heart torn pact to his near departed to nurture their son, to rear him to be the very best and to make his Mother proud.
It wasn’t an easy climb. No one had ever laid foundation stones for him and he never found a bricklayer in any shop of life he ever browsed. After Benjamin had been suspended from school for the second time that term, Geoff pondered if he could ever fulfill his promise to Jeanette.
Ironically, it was Jeannette’s best friend and the jokers at the station that had eased his nerves, settled his mind and allayed his woes.
“My little bastard brat got suspended more times than I can count, went through three different schools in 4 years and assaulted a teacher. But you know what…that’s all in the past. Little bleeder’s now training to be a solicitor and he’s the most polite, well mannered, respected guy you could ever wish to meet…or wish to have as a son.”
Geoff’s colleague Hamish had spoken about his own son just before the tragedy that claimed Benjamin’s life. Geoff’s only wish was to see his dear son fight off the dirty, contagious epidemic of a teenager and mature into a fully fledged, upstanding citizen.
Now, he stood retching into a sea of dull, yellow dandelions silently swaying amidst a vibrant, hazy sea of soggy green at the side of a bright orange tent.
The call had came in some twenty minutes earlier.
Anonymous reports of blood curdling screams and loud scuffles at the ‘Packhorse bridge’ campsite. They were greeted by silence and a vast field of six singular canvas shelters.
It was the tangerine coloured shelter they searched that had caused their senses to bleed, and their eyes to blind in disbelief. Sergeant Jenkin stood next to Geoff as he struggled to control his gag reflexes.
“You alright Geoff?” Jenkin choked in between gasps.
Geoff lifted his head and drew a slow, silent drawn out sigh then choked…
“What kind of sick bastard gets his kicks from this kind of thing Sarge?”
Wiping damp, salty sweat from his brow Jenkin forced himself to stand and placed a hand upon Geoff’s soldier.
“I don’t know, I don’t know. I sometimes think Human’s are the vilest creatures to ever walk upon God’s earth. All you need though on your second day back heh? We need to seal this off though, call it in and let the CSEs do their magic.”
“Bloody hell…let them do their magic. They need to conjure up more than magic to face what they face everyday and catch this evil bastard.”
“Call it in heh?”
“That sleeping bag, you see it? I thought it was a red sleeping bag Sarge. I literally thought it was a red sleeping bag…didn’t… I mean I didn’t…I can’t…I can’t comprehend…I just.”
Jenkin pressed his hand further into Geoff’s shoulder and slowly edged him away from the blood-soaked tangerine tomb.
Geoff managed a more humbled five paces before succumbing to the vile, loathsome images within his head, retching once more just as his knees buckled under their heavy frame.
“I can’t stop seeing her head Sarge; I can’t stop seeing her head.” He bellowed, but directed more towards the dull grey morning sky above.
“Oh shit…” Jenkin muttered as he reached for his radio.
Leena back at the station answered with her usual, consummate, professional tone.
Jenkin blurted out the situation.
“We need the forensic geeks as well.” Jenkin concluded. “Some poor woman’s been butchered. Well at least we think she has…cos we only found her head…”
Geoff retched once again as Jenkins last words to Leena floated past his earlobes like a gentle wafting breeze silently carrying a cruel, insidious end of days prophecy. Leena gasped, composed herself then assured her colleages that assistance was on the way.
A child’s gut-tearing scream suddenly pierced the damp, crisp morning air.
Geoff retched again as he attempted to stand.
“Fucking hell what now?” Cried Geoff.
“Come on, get up…fraid your days not over yet.”
Geoff slowly clambered to his feet as Jenkin reached out a hand to steady him.
Swiftly, they ran towards the sound then halted.
A lone man clambered out of the ditch ahead of them. He took maybe two, three steps forward then stopped. Just a tad too far away to comprehend his expression he stood leering fearlessly and arrogantly at them. His hands dropped to his sides and began to tap rhythmically in short, four burst taps…
Both hands in unison.
“What the hell is he all about?” Geoff enquired to Jenkin.
“Don’t know, but I bet you any money he’s our man. Look at him; even from here I can feel the evil fucker’s aura.”
“Maybe we should wait for back-up? Maybe…”
“What and let him get away. We’re two grown men…evil son of a bitch or not we have our pepper spray…”
Geoff shot Jenkin a cold puzzled glance.
“Great. You know Sarge when I started this lark some twenty years ago there was no need for pepper spray, just a nice friendly word or a hard smack on the back of the head usually did the trick. Now though in this day and age, you know what? I wish I had a bloody gun like the Americans.”
“Where’d he go?” Jenkin quizzed. “I swear I never took my eyes off him, I’d bet my life on it.”
An eerie emptiness emanated across the campsite.
Jenkin swiftly scanned the area, his focused eyes searching for clues, desperately scrutinizing the Males modus operandi’.
“Split up, keep in contact let’s go find the scum.” Jenkin ordered
“Okay…but ain’t we supposed to watch the crime scene prevent anyone…”
Jenkin cut in mid stride. “I know that, but something tells me that’s our man and this may be our only chance to get the bastard…Now let’s move he’s already got a head start wherever he is.”
Geoff moved forward then noticed a family ahead, over in the opposite corner of the site.
Four adults were sat in front of their canvas home slowly sipping various alcoholic beverages and listening to their favourite Jazz CDs.
They’d no concern as to their children’s whereabouts and had been pleasantly smoking the wild plant all morning too, and the little brats were the last thing they wanted around right now.
Geoff made his way towards them. Maybe they’ve seen or heard something he pressed to himself.
Glancing back towards Jenkin he watched him scurry away towards the ditch.
“You alright?” Geoff hollered across the void of green and grey.
Jenkin didn’t turn but raised a solitary hand above his head, to signal his acknowledgment, then continued onwards.
Geoff couldn’t budge the heavy image of the carnage inside the tent from his organic memory board, but struggled onwards as his right hand continued to form a fleshy barrier between bile and air.
Got to get it together…he hissed.
He approached the merry reveling adults.
“Morning pig.” One of the them muttered.
“Pardon?” Geoff barked back.
“Sorry officer I apologise for my brother.” One of the adults replied as he glared back towards his brother. He was dressed in blue jeans and a psychedelic blue, green and yellow striped sweater. Geoff deduced his age at about forty to forty five, whilst the other three were much harder to place, he guessed maybe late thirties but he couldn’t be sure.
“Shut up you dick, you could get us arrested.” Psychedelic sweater man quipped.
“Pphhh!!” Replied his brother.
“Don’t Pphhh me, just shut up for a minute.” He turned back towards Geoff and continued. “Sorry again can we help you?”
One of the other adults seemed to be dressed inappropriately for his years. He was draped in slippers, tussled shirt, black jeans and a dull blue cardigan. His face angled inquisitively upwards towards Geoff.
“Just wondering if any of you have seen or heard anything suspicious, about half hour or so ago?”
“Suspicious in what way?” Psychedelic sweater probed.
“Any loud disturbance, shouts, screams that kind of stuff?” Geoff probed wearily.
“Could you turn that down as well?” he added pointing towards the bright blue sound box resting snugly on the PVC table at their side.
“Can’t say we did officer.” The first adult responded. “Sorry, turn it down Joe for Christ’s sake.”
“No don’t suppose you did with all that noise blaring out.” Geoff snapped.
Young cardigan wearing adult slid forward on his chair, eyes still fixed upon Geoff. “Yeah officcerrr don’t sweat it…chilllll man., come on have a…”
“Be quiet.” Psychedelic sweater cut in swiftly.
“Sure you not seen or heard anything.” Geoff probed.
“No, no we’re sure, don’t mind him, we’ve had a few beers that’s all…He’s on holiday, it’s his birthday week...Honestly”
“Pphhh…Pigs…” The psychedelic male began to scoff again repeatedly.
“You lot been taking anything I should know about? On second thoughts forget it. It’s your lucky day today guys as I have a bigger problem to solve.”
Now wasn’t the time to warn them over their behaviour, there were wider consequences to consider.
“Yep…yep” Young cardigan wearing adult absurdly chanted.
Psychedelic sweater halted his mutterings and smiled in silent relief.
“Oh and stay here, there’s backup coming, but for your own safety please don’t talk to anyone.” Geoff finished, then sauntered swiftly away.
All four shrugged together, waited for Geoff to turn away, then silently clambered for their dried stash of wonder-leaves that was clandestinely hidden inside their empty battery compartment of their electric/ battery radio. Insipid, foul smelling carcinogens had barely lodged within their lungs when a fresh scream ran out from across the field.
Geoff sprinted towards the sound and pressed his crackling radio to his lips.
“Bloody hell Sarge…what was that? You okay? Sarge. Sarge!”
Nothing, only crackle scorched his ears.
“Sarge…Sarge, answer me goddamnit.”
Still more crackle.
He turned to see another two squad cars enter the site and breathed a sigh of relief.
It was only brief.
He froze and snapped around as another torturous scream pierced the stale Cumbrian air.
Sunday 27 November 1864, Wharf Hill, Smithfield,
Virginia USA 1.23pm*
General Zachariah Smythe had just received word that his small clandestine safe haven of tired, rag-tag troops were about to be tested. His Scouts had just returned, from a two day mission combing along the James River, with grave news.
The war was not going to plan and Smythe knew in his soul that the end was unavoidable, that the demons were now massing for their final onslaught.
His scouts had reported huge numbers of Union troops milling along the river. He gambled they were not aware of his flailing camp and formulated a plan.
Dark questions dogged his thoughts.
What if they were aware of us, what if they were planning one final massacre at this very moment?
He’d pondered over this conundrum for over an hour and time was not a luxury that afforded him much abundance. His mind set, he sighed heavily, slowly lowered his chipped coffee mug and hollered croakily for Bonners.
There was one last Gambit he was willing to play before history would succumb to the Union. Bonners flailed unceremoniously into the tent, and then abruptly righted himself.
“General.” He stammered.
Smythe was a heavyset, rotund man with heavy eyes and long dark brown hair. His sagging, lacklustre soil encrusted uniform had been his companion on many a skirmish, along with his thick, curly crumb laden moustache. Other camps had fallen where Smythe’s Troops had always prevailed. His size was only equal to his colossal strategist brain and his lauded appreciation of the enemy, how they fought, how they behaved.
Some say he was the first philosopher of war, the first great applier of battlefield mind-games. Others scorned at this and argued he learned from the past, that he studied great warriors and formulated his own plans based on the numerous ruminations of others before him.
Whatever the reason, he was hailed a Messiah by the Confederate States of the South and it was to him and him only that they now entrusted their lives, their victory and their pride.
The Confederate River Navy had been decimated two years previously; the Battle of Gettysburg one year later had also burdened the Confederates with enormous losses. Union States had gradually amassed more troops, ever germinating into a stronger unified force and were rapidly emerging as the victors in each and every battle they fought. General Shermer of the Union States now controlled Atlanta and most of the Southern States.
Smythe’s dear ideals were fading, his soldiers hungry, his country divided and his wisdom questioned. He was his Peoples last hope…their last stand.
“Bonners, that crazy filth ridden soldier you locked away bring him here.” Smythe gruffed.
“General, you sure?”
“Bring him to me, I have plans for him.”
“Sir he’s an animal. He killed two of our finest men.”
“Yer that he did, but he’s also slain hundreds of our enemies and we can’t have him languishing in a sweaty ditch when he’s done that now can we? This man may just turn the tide for us Bonners. Now go get.”
Bonners slithered away leaving Smythe alone with his inner demons.
A short time later, as Smythe eagerly mulled over various frayed maps and charts of Virginia, Bonners entered. Behind him clad in shackles and cuffs stood a putrid, dank mud covered individual. He was flanked by three burly soldiers who proceeded to haul him forward unceremoniously at Smythe’s silent nod. His feet were bare and black, his hair dry and mud encrusted, his clothes torn and mould laden but his eyes remained alert, strong and dignified.
“Leave us.” Smythe croaked to all present.
“But…” Bonners protested.
“I know the risks Bonners, besides the man’s in shackles and I can take care of myself despite my girth, do you not agree?”
“I erm, yes I never suggested otherwise General, it’s just that the man cannot be trusted.”
“I know y’all fear for my safety and that’s sweet Bonners, oh so sweet.” Smythe languished in the revelry of the moment despite the animal that stood before him as he churlishly lounged back into his wicker chair and concluded the conversation with a wave of his thick, callous embroiled hand.
“Now go leave us. Go!”
Bonners retreated reluctantly and motioned for the three soldiers to follow.
Smythe leaned slowly forward, placed his elbows upon his desk, clasped his hands together and grinned playfully at the forlorn figure that stood before him.
“So tell me your name again Soldier.”
The figure before him straightened and heaved his chest forward as in defiance of the indignity that he had been dealt. Both hands clasped in front of him within irons he began to slowly and rhythmically tap his crusty hands against his groin.
Tap, tap, tap, tap, four quick successive taps, then four more, then four again all in successive motion and perfect symmetrical allusion. Smythe either ignored what he pertained as nervous, impatient tics or did not register the subtle, rhythmic taps as the figure spoke.
A slow drawn out southern drawl sprang forth from the figures lips.
“Y’all know my name.”.
It’s utterance almost a chore, a lazy effort to achieve a nuance of acoustics.
“That I do Soldier, but I want y’all to say it.” Smythe leered, still grinning profusely like a vengeful Greek God toying and teasing their servitudes as they glowered sadistically down upon them through the smoky white clouds below.
“I can snap y’all neck like a twig, disembowel you before you utter a single sound, gouge your eyes out before they perceive my coming. There are many ways I can end y’all life General and placing me in that ditch will hardly make me ya friend now would it?”
His hands still tapped with pristine rhythm, his demeanour still remained defiant but Smythe wasn’t fazed as he leaned forward a little more to meet the figures eyes with a steely, controlled gaze.
“Why did you kill two of my men? They fought on your side.”
“My side General! We are all the enemy, we are all friends, and we are all together.”
“You talk nonsense but there’s no denying, whether you fight for the devil or fight for God, you fight like a dozen angry lions Son.”
“Why am I here? I liked the ditch, can I go back there?” The figure patronisingly smirked.
Smythe had heard enough.
He stood and hurled his mug skywards.
“Enough of this I’m not here to play games with you. We’re losing this war and you could just help us win it back. You understand?”
The figure inched further upward, raised his head higher and inhaled sharply. His eyes screamed craziness and his manner highlighted indignant insanity as he spoke in a more somber tone.
“I am no mans property and I fight for my own enjoyment.”
“I could offer you riches beyond belief if you help me win this war. I’ll give you a whole town, damn even a whole state to govern with all the money that entails too, and all the women you can desire, to do with as you wish. Does…that…not…entice…any…man?”
“It does entice some men but not all men are the same.”
“Are y’all trying to tell me that what I offer does not interest you in the slightest Son?”
“If I want land I will take it, if I want to live I will kill whoever stands in my way and if I want women I’ll go get them.”
“Mighty words from someone in chains Son, you didn’t exactly plan this well did y’all? I can help you though. What d’ya say Son?”
“I say I don’t care which way this country of ours goes. As long as I have food, a roof over ma head and women and souls to take I’ll be happy.”
The figure continued his incessant tapping whilst Smythe talked his plans, a sinister misdirection until he could seize the moment.
Smythe straightened, pulled down his tunic and sidled around his desk to face the figure.
“You’re a madman, but you could be so much more. You refuse what others strive all of their lives to achieve and I do know your name solider. So tell me my only son Justin…Just what kind of a man are you?”
Both men’s eyes seemed to be locked in a mental, strenuous game of wits for what seemed like an eternity. Then Justin pounced with the swiftness of a gazelle.
In one continuous sweeping motion his clasped hands parted effortlessly from their iron clasps and lunged forward to take hold of Smythe’s collar. He possessed immense strength, evident as he yanked Smythe towards him and bit down hard into his face.
Biting into bone Justin likened the sound to crunching underfoot as you walked along a pebbled river bed. He swiftly withdrew, spat out bone and dark globules of plasma as his hands clasped together once more and thundered into Smythe’s chest sending him reeling over his desk brutally and fast.
Smythe felt his chest bones crack as he stumbled backwards, his heavy frame only serving to assist gravity as he fell back and down awkwardly onto his neck like a flailing puppet that had just had its strings viciously hacked.
Justin bent, worked his leg chains free with the tunic pin he had silently secured from one of the soldiers who had dragged him forth earlier, then inched forward and peered sneeringly over the desk at the pathetic figure below.
Smythe writhing in agony fumbled for his pistol.
“Your nose is on the floor over here if y’all want it father?” Justin mocked.
Smythe tried to shout for assistance but no words came; only a long painful wheeze penetrated the air.
Oh my God, oh my God…My nose you’re a madman, Smythe tried to call out but still nothing.
“What’s a matter with y’all father? Can’t call for your precious Bonner or your soldiers now can ya? Fraid I broke your sternum too…Oops!”
Smythe could feel warm liquid oozing along his face and down onto the floor below as he continued to wheeze, vigorously fumbling for his pistol through the immense pain.
“Now after I end your life I want a bath, your sumptuous tent as well and oh what’s that? What y’all searching for father? Not after your pistol now are y’all. That wouldn’t be very nice of you now would it heh?”
He spied Smythe’s pistol just inches from his outstretched hand. He stepped forward and placed his bare left foot onto the pistol as his other foot slammed violently into the hole left by Smythe’s former nose.
He reeled back in agony clutching the void that had now become his new persona of a face. His dark liquid still lingered around Justin’s mouth as he licked them dry and inhaled erotically. His right hand began to tremble and shake.
He could feel the darkness stirring once again.
Tap, tap, tap, tap. Tap, tap, tap, tap. Tap, tap, tap, tap.
Quick successive rhythmic hits against his right side like a future careering steam train at full pelt.
Do it, do it. The putrid voice inside his soul cried.
It took him by surprise.
He was the divine one and no one takes him, no one.
Sounds of gunpowder crammed his ear canals as fine black smoke billowed lazily around his eyes.
Dull, burning pain seared through his chest as more black noise and smoke tore into his shoulder and knee and caressed his nostrils.
He went down hard.
Smythes dying eyes met with his own soulless gaze as he writhed in agony and frustration.
Smythe forced one last ironic smile. My son who was to lead us into salvation, the one who could turn the tide, shot by blundering Bonners…
Bonners; far from being a blundering idiot was also an excellent strategist and a brilliant marksman come horseman. He’d heard the clatter of the cup that Smythe had thrown across the tent. Sensing something was amiss, he’d quickly gathered back up and made for the General’s tent despite orders to the contrary.
Bonners was too late to prevent serious injury to his General but he figured the death of Justin would be recompense enough. Smatterings of dull grey bone from Justin’s knee and chest littered the ground below Bonner and his men and crunched vilely underfoot as they approached their Generals lumbering, woeful mass.
“Don’t even try to breathe you maggot. I knew it was foolish to let you out.” Bonners bellowed at Justin.
He was standing with his arm outstretched, pistol in hand and no longer seemed to be out of the moment. Bonners was one of the few geniuses on earth that appeared foolish, bumbling and unpractical to all but his closest allies. Fortunately, his genius, confidence and commanding demeanour took centre stage and commandeered a front row seat whenever grave situations arose.
Justin looked down at his limp shattered body and began to laugh.
“Y’all think I’m done don’t you Bonners?” He hissed through the mass of splintered calcium and crimson stains. “I love the pain and if I die here I will return. Do you heed me? I will return?”
Bonners took a step forward, placed his pistol firmly against Justin’s head then glanced back at his soldiers for affirmation.
They each in turn gave a silent nod.
“Silence.” Bonners cried and pulled the trigger.
Six months later.
In the early days of 1865 the Confederates lost the war, slavery began to be torn apart and the Union States of the North declared victory as they began to rebuild and re-unite a once great nation.
Smythe survived, was subsequently tried as a war criminal, but granted clemency due to his horrific injuries, and sentenced to live out his days under house arrest.
Justin’s body was thrown into an unmarked grave somewhere just outside Smithfield, Virginia with no honours, no cross and no blessings.
Over time grass grew freely around his grave.
Vivid wild flowers poked their weary buds through sublime, fresh greenery in the springtime. Shiny wet, iridescent coloured leaves flittered abundantly down in the fall-time, birds scampered merrily across it in the summertime and the winter bore cold, glistening wet snow that enveloped and cradled the grave in a blanket of sparkling blue, white crystalline flakes.
Throughout the seasons slimy glistening worms burrowed blissfully beneath and slithered aimlessly through his dry decaying husk. He was soon forgotten, a lonely insignificant wisp hidden deep within the forgotten realms of history.
Many, in-fact millions had bared the name Justin across the eons of time. Many Mothers sired a Justin too and many knew a Justin as a friend or as a consummate lover or companion.
Neither of these had ever re-risen.
Geoff sprinted across the campsite to where he assumed the piercing scream had emanated from. His training kicked in fast as he scrambled for his radio again. Adrenaline began to surge into every pore, propelling him forward with an equal quantity of fear and gusto. As more adrenaline surged into his organs he fought for breath, momentarily stumbling over a large stone, temporarily losing the ability to co-ordinate his lower limbs.
Come on get it together, you knew you’d come across something like this one day, now come on.
He picked himself up, kept pumping his radio, constantly hollering for a response as he ran.
Reaching the far edge of the field he came to a halt and pressed his clammy sweaty palms tightly against his thighs. He took a few seconds to re-orientate him-self, exhaling several sharp slivers of heavy dry air.
He tried the radio again.
Still a lonely, eerie crackle.
Straightening to wipe his brow he spied a small opening within the hedge and made towards it.
Once through he glanced around.
A small ditch edged away into the distance either side of him. Beyond that, a main road meandered away to the nearest village.
Glancing back towards the opening he could just make out the campers he conversed with earlier. They seemed to be in ignorance of his earlier warning as their hearty laughter and raised voices permeated the air with an oblivious degree of foolishness.
He turned his thoughts back to the moment.
Where did that scream come from, there’s no one here. I’m sure it came from here.
Suddenly his inner eye flashed the picture of Frances and he began to gag once more.
Pull yourself together, gotta stop this and get back to the tent. Gotta let the specialists handle it, or do I look for Jenkin? He shuddered, but continued to stubbornly mull over the situation within the deepest rim of his coastal mindscape.
Sarge can take care of himself, but where is he? What’s more important looking for my partner or getting back to the crime scene?
A strange unnerving sound rang out from across the road causing him to twist his head violently.
With a rapidly pulsating heart he twisted the rest of his body around to the sound and stood silently, staring into the distance for what seemed like an age.
Still nothing…the sound ceased.
Recalling it made him shudder. He compared it to a low melancholic gurgle coupled menacingly with a high pitched grating, rasping hiss.
There it was again…
He sprang back to his senses and instinctively sprinted across the road towards the chilling sound that had just cut through the still Cumbrian air.
He leapt into the far ditch and scanned the area.
What the hell was that and where did it come from?
Then the sound assaulted his ears again. This time he caught his breath as his cerebellum snapped into overdrive to determine the origins of the sound.
It’s coming from behind this bloody hedge. He shivered.
Precariously he pushed the bushy thickets to yet another vast field beyond.
Spice girls saved my life.
Funny, how the brain recalls nonsense when in a time of a crisis. He was scared witless, his first week back and he’d experienced nothing like this in all the years he’d served with the quiet Cumbrian force. Now, when he needed to be in control of his senses, when they needed to be his constant companion all they could give him for protection and comfort were the ‘Spice girls.’
He’d spied the headline from the corner of his eye some months earlier in a petrol station whilst paying the cashier. It was emblazoned across a low rate, absurd women’s magazine. The kind of magazine you read, after a friend passed it on, but never buy.
He thought it amusing and stupid at the time and managed a wry smirk. The moment and the smirk immediately vanished after exiting the station, never to return…until now.
Sadly it wasn’t the spice girls that saved his life. Thinking about them blinded him to the figure beside him who had been silently lurking in the hedge.
The figure stood quietly, then swiftly made towards his blind side with a mighty cry.
“I AM A WARRIOR…”
Geoff tried to heave the rest of his torso through the thick hedge as he perceived the shout.
Sweat poured forth as his palms became violently awash with his body’s own salty liquid. In one deft blurring motion the figure clamped onto Geoff and yanked him through the thick hedge. Grasping him by the collar with both hands the figure proceeded to lift him upwards.
As the ground loomed below, he began to kick and flail relentlessly at the figure before him. The figure stood fast, his head down, long bony arms outstretched as he continued to hold Geoff with very little effort.
Still flailing, he feverishly fumbled for his pepper spray, but it was of no use, his glistening hands too wet and slippery to grasp anything substantial.
Then the figure raised his head.
“I am a Warrior and you will die my enemy.”
Geoff had never experienced such a profound dread. His mind clamped onto distant memories. Distant heart wrenching memories of chasing down hoodlums, coming to blows with suspects, murderous scenes of confusion and apprehending countless other crazed maniacs had never beseeched his soul with so much terror as to that which now coarsed through every inch of his petrified flesh.
He stared into the figures eyes as a chill as dark as a lonely childhood stormy night raced across his heart.
Pure incensed evil stared back into his petrified eyes and licked the still morning air with a raw, brutal smile.
Growing tedious the figure tossed Geoff aside as casually as a passing businessman tosses a handful of coins into a shivering, forsaken busker’s hat.
He tumbled onto the hard grass below, landing awkwardly upon his left side.
Winded he feebly gazed up at the figure.
“Please I have a wife and Children.” He pleaded.
A total lie but he needed time to stall.
Justin had never felt so strong; his friend within him had now become his mentor, his saviour, the other half to his pitiable soul. It intertwined, coalesced and spread through his synapses like an insidious black ant colony working together as one.
His soul had become dark, controlled and ordered. His mind now as one with his demonic friend…and it felt good.
The voice within him had nurtured him throughout his youth, prepared him for the evil to come. It even played with his emotions occasionally stirring him to kill, culminating with three experimental slayings throughout his insipid adolescence.
It was time, time for his dark companion to come to fruition, time to test his loyalty for his insidious friend and time for the ultimate killing spree…The slaying of a police officer…or three.
He swaggered towards his prey, his arms swaying in a hormonally boastful manner.
A broad hedonistic smile crossed his cheeks.
“What do you want with me? Please, there will be others here soon.” Geoff pleaded, desperately trying to scramble away.
“You’re nothing to me, a waste of human flesh but I am a warrior and I will rip you apart.” Justin bellowed.
Hands still saturated with perspiration, heart still pounding, fingers still shaking Geoff frantically fumbled for his pepper spray one last time, but it was no good.
His radio suddenly crackled into life.
Justin reacted instantly to the sound and pounced upon Geoff with the speed of a hungry lion.
Arms flailing in desperation Geoff fought frantically to stave off his insidious assailant. Lashing and punching, gouging and scratching but Justin remained firm, smiling.
Geoff’s relentless succession of instinctive flails had no effect as Justin ripped triumphantly into his prey with one last, satanic grin. Satisfied, he released his hold upon his blood-soaked victim, who now lay lifeless upon the damp morning grass, and stood.
His lips and cheeks awash with blood, he spat out a lone soulless eye, along with a sliver of eye socket amid a spray of scarlet and grey.
Geoff’s radio crackled once more.
Justin threw it a glance, gazed up towards the morning sky and howled into the wind, just as the bullet tore into his left shoulder.
Leena had sensed the urgency to send armed Officers to the scene. They’d emerged from the two squad cars that sped into the campsite earlie, and after discovering Frances’s bloodied corpse along with the twisted body of Jenkin they’d deftly spread out, scouring the area for the crazed suspect.
“Get down on the floor now or we will shoot again!” The voice echoed.
Justin ignored the pain and blocked out their pathetic cries as he foolishly stumbled forward with an arrogant, egotistical air.
“Pathetic creatures, I am a Warrior you cannot harm me. I will rise again, I grow stronger each time and I will crush you all.”
He spied his attackers rifle glistening through the far hedge and ran to it with a full on arrogant sprint.
Another shot rang out and tore into his right shoulder as he shrugged off the pain and continued to sprint.
“Stop or the next shot will be fatal, on the floor now.” The commanding voice echoed.
Justin kept on.
A third and final shot rang out across the misty countryside haze. Justin flailed, stumbled, then hit the ground hard, slamming his jaw into the soft, wet soil. His left knee was shattered by the third bullet but still he seeked out his attacker and slithered forward.
“You cannot harm me. You cannot slay me; you cannot rid the world of me I am the supreme one…” He inwardly bellowed in arrogant defiance.
From the hedge a figure approached as Justin defiantly searched for his trusty steel companion. A uniformed figure stood above him, rifle in hand.
“Stay down and stay still, don’t be a bloody fool. Help is on its way…stay down.”
Justin smiled calmly as he continued to secretly fish for his companion.
“You are pathetic; You will die…not me.”
“Shut up and stay down.”
With lightning dexterity Justin located his companion and thrust it effortlessly into the uniformed figures left shin. In one fluid motion he withdrew the blade then thrust it inwards again, twisting the cool metal hard against the scraping bone.
Blood oozed from the figures flesh as his body instinctively caved beneath him. Justin lunged for the calf and pulled it towards him with surreal strength, continuing his relentless thrusting and twisting.
Pain seared through the officers calf and began to envelop his entire body. With shaking hands he searched the wet earth for his rifle as the blade tore repeatedly into his flesh. His hands located the cold, wooden barrel as his mind momentarily pushed the pain aside as euphoria enveloped him.
Justin spied his hand upon the barrel and pushed the rifle aside, as another shot rang out, exploding red, grey and girly pink brain matter into the officer’s eyes, mouth and nostrils.
Police Marksmen always work in pairs and the downed officer began to laugh as the reality of the moment sank in.
With hazy eyes he perceived a swirling mass of shapes approach.
They began to speak.
“Dom, Dom you okay, it’s over, it’s all over.” The second Marksman yelled as he hurtled across the field towards his injured partner.
Turning away he glanced at Justin’s pathetic corpse and wiped the stinging matter from his eyes, then with little effort he succumbed to the unconscious blackness that encroached upon him.
Justin was now deep within the dark, malevolent world of unrelenting torment that welcomed him openly from far, far below.
Loch Lomond, Eastern shore. 1.2 Kilometres south of Inversnaid Village, Stirling County, Scotland.
1:22pm Tuesday 24th April 2012.
“Dom, Dom ya there? Dom!” The radio crackled.
Dominic Fareburne was 56 years of age and an ex Police Marksmen. Shortly after his 50th birthday, with a heavy heart and soulful regret he’d seized the opportunity to take early retirement due to ongoing post traumatic stress disorder. Along with his long supporting Scottish wife and soul mate Janice they’d chosen Inversnaid as the perfect retirement idyll. Over the past six years they’d resided peacefully in a small two bedroom cottage overlooking the majestic and awe-inspiring Ben Vorlich mountain range, imposing its beauty across the Legendary Loch Lomond. Truly amazing in every season, Scotland’s Majesty had always held a special place in their hearts. Twice weekly trips or more upon his beloved boat ‘Bleu Montagne’ had acquired them the most profound mouth-wateringly fresh Salmon and the occasional iridescent coloured trout for the better part of the past two years.
It was a calm, sunny afternoon as Dominic sat upon the wooden stern of his boat, rod firmly in hand, his exotically carved walking cane at his side and Radio 4 radiating warmth in the background. Memories of the past were far from his mind as the boat’s comms blared into life. Only after glancing lazily back towards the cabin did he espy the blue flickering LCDs upon the console.
Placing down his rod, he turned the volume down on the radio, deftly stepped over the slithering trout he’d caught and ducked into the cabin.
“Dom, Dom ya there, Dom come in.” Janice’s voice crackled across the still Loch air.
Puzzled, he reached for the handset with a hesitant trepidation.
“I’m here Janice, everything okay?”
“Kind of, where ya been now? I’ve been calling ya for ages, even called ya mobile but you left it in the kitchen you oaf.” She gurgled with foolish impatience.
“I wondered where I left it, told you I’m getting old. What’s the matter?”
“It’s Carly Dom, oh my God; Oh my God I can’t believe it.” She screamed.
Dominic’s heart started to race. Janice’s voice screamed excitement but this could be hysterical shock. He could not shake the sudden encompassing dread that something terrifying had befallen his only daughter.
“What, what’s the matter is she okay, is she?” He replied with a trembling voice and racing adrenaline.
“Don’t worry she’s okay. She’s bloody fantastic, she rang to say…wait for it…she rang to say…”
“Come on what?”
“…That’s she pregnant.”
With one fell swoop he felt the handset fall from his tightly gripped hand as he fell to his knees, raised his hands aloft and cried openly to the clear abyss above.
“Dom, Dom you okay? Dom, did you hear Dom, did you hear? Dom…DOM…”
West Cumberland Hospital, Whitehaven Town, Cumbria, England
3:17pm Tuesday 18th December 2012.
Dominic sat in the crisp, clean but sparsely occupied waiting room of his beloved daughter’s local hospital with his wife Janice as they awaited the arrival of their very first grandchild. Since the news had been broken to him out upon the loch, he’d prayed, wished and hoped beyond all hope that Carly’s pregnancy would be successful. Second only to his own beautiful wedding was the immeasurable joy laden day of Carly’s wedding to her sweetheart that he’d so lovingly attended eight years previously. News of Carly’s pregnancy came as such a tremendous euphoric shock due to the struggling hurdles she’d encountered trying to conceive. Sadly due to complications with her physiology, resulting in several operations and numerous failed attempts at IVF over the past five years the loving couple had yet to muster a child of their own. A year previously they were forlornly taken to one side and advised to give up hope, that modern medicine had absolutely nothing left to offer them. They were to remain childless, but together, until their last breath.
Miraculously the storm passed as blue skies heralded a new day. By some quirk of nature Dominic’s lineage would continue.
“How long we been waiting.” He probed, turning wearily to Janice.
“Only a couple of hours, it could take some time Dom. Labour is never easy you know.”
He sighed. “You want a coffee then?”
“Yeah, decaf though. No hold on, on second thoughts I’ll have a Latte.”
“Okay I’ll go to the restaurant down the corridor though, coffees better there than the crabby machine stuff they have here.”
“They’re more expensive there though, you want some money?”
“No I got it, besides its a happy occasion so I’m gonna splash out and treat us to a proper coffee.”
“Oooh listen to you big spender.” Janice laughed.
Adrian arrived just before his in laws, was proudly directed to his wife’s side and had promptly waited patiently until the first signs of birth began to surface.
Dominic was silently waiting in line to purchase his coffee oblivious to the screams of his only daughter over in the labour room of Ward 11.
“One more push, come on Carly one more push you can do it, come on” Nurse Adkin encouraged, as Carly strived to heave her little miracle into this complicated world of wonders.
Doctors, nurses and midwifes scrambled energetically for the limelight as they monitored and soothed their patient, coercing the baby forth with a determined professionalism and heady conducive flair. Adrian’s hand was lovingly crushed as he sat beside his wife with a smile as big as a red-lipped clown at a loony travelling circus.
“Come on, one more push Carly. I can see the feet. We have the head and the shoulders out and I can see it’s a boy. We just need one more push for the legs, come on Carly.”
“I AM BLOODY PUSHING.”
“That’s it we got him. Congratulations it’s a boy.” Adkin cried.
A handful of the doctors present knew of their long struggle, prompting a few tears to be shed as the room erupted into a spontaneous and rapturously joyful applause.
As per procedure Nurse Adkin gently washed away the blood, faeces and Motherly fluid, then delicately snipped the umbilical cord. Wrapping a soft blanket around the new-born, she delicately carried it away to be weighed and assessed for any complications.
Carly sat up painfully and eased herself into a comfortable position. She grimaced but her heart was filled with so much euphoria, emotion and heavenly blissful feelings that she never imagined she would ever feel.
“Congratulations, I’m really pleased for you both, what are you going to name him?” Doctor Pashwani questioned.
“We’re, we’re not sure. We’ve narrowed it down to two names, William or Harley, but we’ll think about it more later after she’s rested.” Said Adrian.
“Sorry…” Doctor Pashwani and Adrian announced collectively.
“Justin, I want to call him Justin.”
“What, but…I thought we agreed…” Blabbered Adrian.
In the nursery nurse Adkin laid the baby down onto the scales and tenderly soothed his cries. She turned for an instant to calibrate the machine as the tiny new-born began to slowly unfurl one of his miniscule hands.
She turned back as he ceased his crying and gazed up questioningly to the huge figure that loomed above him.
“Aah look at you, don’t you look cute now?” She cooed.
Unfurling his hand slightly further and displaying almost incomprehensible movement’s way beyond his years, he began to agitate his four fingers together. Slowly he eased and curled the top tips down and back a little in a slow, controlled wave. Barely indistinguishable the miniscule wave of fingers came in a miniature rhythm of four.
“Oh look are you trying to wave, are you now heh?” Adkin continued to coo at the tiny figure beneath her.
Four tiny waves.
Followed by a few seconds of inaction…
Then four more tiny waves…then the inaction, then the waves again as if tapping the air, tasting and testing this new environment…this new world.
Copyright C. Anthony Boot 2012-2020