Works In Progress

The Stretch

Chapter One

Time does not exist in the traditional sense. Not the way people think anyway, eternity is one long endless moment, time is man made, measured by the earth, sun and moon, there movements and rotations cut down into seconds, minutes, hours, days, months and years. Life revolves around this basic rule, your watch ticking away in measured time, counting away relentlessly, moments lost to the past never to be seen or experienced again, but that is just an illusion, our solar system is a speck of sand on a huge beach of space, does one speck of sand dominate the beach? Does it determine the rules? Our tiny planet and ant like selves do not dominate time, our sun and moon are not the gate keepers to time, the universe is just too big to be bossed around by us, and nature laughs at our measurements. Time is still, it does not move, objects move and grow and die, but time does not, everyone has it back to front, time does not move forward, we do, we move on from those moments we wish we could experience again, those memories that are so dear to us, the longing for the past haunts us all in some way. Those moments and memories are not lost, they have never moved, we have, by getting older, by the earth getting older, by accepting time has moved on, that it is all in the past, but I realized the obvious truth and started working on a project that would stop me moving, to keep me still, and I knew if I could achieve that, then I could also move back in time as everyone else would believe, but it is simply stretching space, bridging the gap from here to there, stepping outside of the ticking clock and not being dominated by its rules makes it possible. I just needed to build the bridge once I was on the outside and still, not moving forward in time second by ticking second, I needed to stop in order to build the bridge and stretch space so I could move freely outside of the rules. I achieved this goal, I created a device I named the Stretch, it breaks through space, and time is no longer a factor, space is not simply a black nothingness, it is more like an ocean, waves of black are everywhere, the movements of space crashing against each other, the Stretch is a machine that warps the space, designed like an arrow head or strange looking small plane, it vibrates at a frequency that breaks down the barriers and stops the movements, which stops time and keeps everything still, frozen like a statue, space folds and warps into each other because of the vibrations creating tiny pockets, or black holes, that is the entry to what people call the past, but something that is right in front of you is not the past, it is the present, you just have to walk through a door once the bridge leads you to it. How did I do it? That is a question not easily answered, but the really difficult part was controlling time, to find any door and choose where I wanted to go, at first it was random, the frequency I used was to stop time and create pockets, I needed the frequencies that would allow me to move anywhere at any time, I was stuck in the year 1908, that was where the first pocket I opened took me, the Stretch did not move, space did, surrounding me and my machine like a wave of water, stopping time and sending me back, it was still, I was in a field and life did not move, a horse was eating grass and the sun was shinning. A farmer was stood with a shovel in hand looking up at his scarecrow who was not doing his job, a crow sat on his hat, I imagined it was mocking the farmer and laughed at the sight as I looked around in amazement. I got out of the Stretch and walked up to the farmer, clicking my fingers and waving in his face for signs of life, but he was still, I continued up to his farm house a short distance away and entered with guilt, I am not a fan of invading peoples privacy, and stood in a kitchen. It was a typical farmers kitchen, pretty much the way you would imagine any old wooden farm house kitchen to be like, everything was made out of the same wood with a huge oven made out of stone, and two rabbits hung upside down from a beam ready to be skinned for a meal. I sat at the breakfast table and picked up a news paper, February 2 1908 was the date.

“I can move objects, time is not still, it must be moving forward at an infantesimal rate” I said to myself. I stood up from the table and approached the door which I had left open and peered out. The farmers shovel was being held a foot from the ground, and it was previously standing upright against the earth. I quickly made a calculation in my head, the amount of time I had been there and how far the shovel had moved and worked out a basic and approximate number of how slow time was moving. I ran back to the Stretch and sat in the leather seat before punching numbers into the computer, I adjusted the frequency and the Stretch began to vibrate before a pocket enveloped me once more, sending me to another time and place. It was a desert, as far as I could see there was dusty white sand, I remained in the Stretch and began my complicated calculations, I assumed time was completely still now, and I was on the outside of its rules, that was the first step to breaking time wide open and creating a time database on my computer system, in theory I could map doorways and read the frequency automatically. The Stretch would work out the mathematical code of time, and that would give me full access, time would bend to my will and I could go anywhere by simply punching the date into the Stretch which would work out the frequency and open the door, sending me to my desired destination. It took me only a few short hours, time is not as complicated as people would believe, or so I thought. I completed my database and sat smiling to myself. I should really go back there in the Stretch and shoot myself, and stop the devastation that was about to come, but in my experience, it would probably make things worse. I now knew that wherever I went time would move forward normally, and I would be able to experience it all as it happened, but I never thought about the dangers, no mathematical sum could work out the solution and conclusion of a two minute stay in one place. I chose a date at random to test out my database and the accuracy of my frequencies. I chose the date 1885 and appeared in what was a small village, I did not know where I was, I did not enter a destination, which is just longitude and latitude, and a lot of mathematical equations to work out so that I could choose an exact location. I had thankfully created a cloaking device for the Stretch using a series of mirrors, but it was still dangerous and could easily be found, I was on a patch of grass near a large oak tree and decided to move the Stretch closer to it where some bushes could help keep it safe. Having moved my machine and protected it from sight as best I could, I walked down the road and looked around at the living past, life was all very normal and quiet, just people living there lives as always, children played in the dirt and mothers rubbed at dirty cheeks as they chided them. Women washed cloths in barrels of water and men worked the farms and drank ale. It was what appeared to be a poor village, but I supposed most places must look like this in 1885, nothing but dirt path ways and no toilet facilities, I stepped around human and animal mess more than once. I was pleased with my accomplishment of reaching back in time, but the thrill I was expecting was not there, I walked down the road and felt deflated. I walked passed a few little shops, one selling vegetables and another was a blacksmith, a horse suddenly whined loudly and galloped away from its owners reach, it was heading towards a young girl who was carrying a huge sack of what looked like potatoes, she could not see over the top of it at the danger that was coming, a cart was rattling after the beast who was obviously full of fear and used for carrying things around. The girl stood with an open mouth unable to move when she finally caught sight of the furious horse who came within a few feet of stomping her into the ground, but I ran to her aid and pulled her away from the stomping horses fury before she was killed. A man pulled at the horse and calmed it down before leading it away.

“Are you alright?” I asked the girl as I helped her to her feet after dragging her to the ground and away from flaying hoofs.

“Yes I am fine, thank you, sir” She answered looking down at her feet and looking scared.

“You are welcome, what is your name?” I said feeling sorry for the girl who did not look happy.

“Klara, sir” The girl said slightly curtsying.

“Klara! What happened girl!?” A man said shouting from a distance as he walked at a quick pace down the road towards us.

“She was almost killed by a horse, sir” I said to the man as he reached me and looked me up and down with a look of disgust.

“That so?” He said to the girl who nodded in reply. “I am Alois, and this is my servant, thank you for your assistance” He tipped his hat grudgingly and took the girl by the arm, leaving the scattered potatoes on the ground and pulling her away.

“Your welcome” I muttered to myself as I I walked away and got back to the Stretch.

“Getting out of this place” I shook my head at the lack of enthusiasm I had, and punched in the date September 19th 2019, my 32nd birthday, I missed my party because I was working on the Stretch, time to put that right I thought. The Stretch vibrated as the frequency took me home to my own time. I was in a basement, it looked like my basement only different, old and full of dust and cobwebs. I scratched at the stubble on my chin as I thought, before getting out of my seat and looking around. It was my basement alright, but my tools and blueprints and equipment were not there, and the stairs were different leading up to the door in the kitchen. I walked up the stairs and opened the old door with my shoulder because it was stuck, nobody had been in the house for a long time. As I suspected the house was empty and had not been lived in for years, the kitchen was bare and the windows had boards of wood covering them from the outside. I kicked the back door of the house open after several failed attempts to open it, and stepped outside. Everything was different, the houses, the road, the lamps, everything was old and falling to pieces.

“Is this the wrong time, or have I changed everything?” I said in shock as I stepped back into the house and down to the basement, I sat back in the Stretch and checked the date, it was correct, I then linked up to the world wide network, which was the same by some miracle.

“I only met two people, this must have happened because I saved that girl” I muttered to myself as I wrote “1885, Klara, Alois” into the search engine. I did not really expect to get any results back, but what I saw shook my soul and made me vomit over the side of the Stretch as I looked at what I caused. Alois and Klara where married and had children, one was called Adolf, Adolf Hitler, and he was described as the most evil man that ever lived, his German army stormed across Europe and the second world war caused five years of death and destruction, I skipped the details of how and why, it did not matter, what did matter was that I saved that girls life and it caused a world war, the second world war, in my history there was only one war. Then I continued my research and discovered many other things had changed, scientific discoveries like the cure for the common cold had never been discovered, but organ transplants were now every day things, that was new for me. It appeared that not all of the changes were bad ones, but the deaths of countless people in a world war trumped all of the good changes, and I was in a state of shock, confusion, and self loathing at changing the world. A thought suddenly came to me, and I did a search on my family. My grandfather died in Belgium just a year into the war, he was a pilot and crashed, he lived for a day, but his injuries were too severe. My father was never born, meaning I was never born, one of my theories had been proved correct by this piece of knowledge. I still exist even though I was not born, people do not simply vanish, it does not matter where they come from or about the past, I stopped my father being born which means I was never born, if I am never born then I can not go back and stop him being born, its the old chicken and egg problem. Which comes first? I never understood that question, the answer is the egg, chickens do not spring from the air, who knows where the egg came from? who cares? chickens are born from eggs, simple. I was born, I am alive, history has changed but that does not change me, or where I came from, I had lost my grandfather and father, but what about my mother? The world changed on an enormous scale, the odds of any of the same people existing was beyond impossible, but to my surprise she was alive. Her parents were American, and the Americans entered the war late, but her family was in Canada in the 1940s, maybe the same things happened even though the war broke out, whatever the answer was it did not matter, she was alive and living in Miami according to the information I found online. I am the son she never had. I decided to go and see her, I found her address and phone number, I had no idea what a cell phone was, or as some people call them, mobile phones, quite simple really, I felt quite inferior when seeing my first cell phone, maybe this new timeline was better in more ways then I had thought. Although I would still trade it for the old timeline, and no world war two. I called her number from a phone box, which took me hours to find, but the number was no longer in use, so I went to Miami to find her. I did not know why I was going, I was a stranger to her, she would not believe me if I told her the truth and she would not want to talk to a stranger, she always avoided talking to people she did not know. Do people have the same personalities growing up with a different future? I thought at least some part of her would be recognizable as the mother I had once known. I waited outside of her apartment building for two days, there was a bench across the street and I sat there waiting for her to come out or to turn up and go in, but I never saw her. I had hidden the Stretch by placing it in a fountain a few miles away, I hoped nobody climbed in or threw a coin that would clank against it. I was relieved when I reached the fountain and climbed in while nobody was looking and sat in the seat, hidden from peoples gazes by the cloaking device. I was still working on a hand held control that could faze the machine out of time slightly, making it invisible and untouchable, in theory I could park it in the middle of a road with no problems, and no fear it would be discovered, a few simple equations and it would faze back in to step with the time I was in, but like I said I was still working on it, and I could not make a mistake and risk losing the Stretch, I had to take extra care. I came up with another plan to find my mother, I had a DNA scanner, I dropped a little of my blood on to the glass plate and slid it home, a lot like an old car CD player, only more ingenious. The scanner read the DNA sample and located the same DNA in every record available on file through the world wide network. Once it found a match, it automatically brought up a file on the person, and a map with a little red dot indicating the exact location of the person in real time. It was a traffic cam that had found my mother, it took minutes, and I shook my head tiredly at being so stupid.

“Why did I not just do this in the first place?” I said to myself mockingly. I think I wanted the surprise of seeing her, me just sitting on the bench and her just walking down the street, and in to her building. Sentimentality had cost me two days and I had no sleep in that time, so it would cost me another 12 hours or so to sleep, I had to be sharp and fully alert, and I forced myself to have those 12 hours, even though I just wanted to go and see my mother. I knew it was stupid and pointless, but I thought if I saw her one last time I could say goodbye and move on, then I could perform a new experiment. I was so stupid, I thought it was harmless, people make thousands of decisions a day that map out there fate. Turn left down the road, or turn right? Have coffee, or have tea? Have that extra 5 minutes in bed, or get up early? Say good morning to your boss at work, or don’t, and just go straight to your desk? Decision after decision, for everyone, I wanted to see the impact and difference to the world by one decision. I remember thinking the Hitler mistake was just bad luck, I could have saved anyone else in the world and nothing would have changed. Such a fool. After my 12 hours of sleep and rest I decided to go see my mother, she had stopped at a hotel. She was still in Miami, so I went and sat in the bar. It was really expensive by the look of the carpets and tables, you can tell from a glance what sort of prices you had to pay in a place like that. Even the barman who was arranging bottles of liqueur looked like he was from a wealthy home. One glance at his gold watch told me that. He looked like a head waiter, and I thought it amusing that a wealthy young man like him had to work in a hotel bar. His parents probably owned the place, it was the only explanation I could muster up, unless the hotel payed stupendous amounts of money to there workers, which was not likely. I sat and looked around, thinking why my mother would even be here, she had a home and she did not live far away, maybe she was rich and just wanted a change, but I doubted it. Her apartment building was nice enough, but not that nice, not nice enough to live if you are filthy rich, like the people who go to five star hotels. Eventually she appeared, I spotted her walking down the stairs, from her room I imagine. She wore a long red dress and healed shoes, with a face full of make up and her hair held up elaborately, her heels clicked and clacked as she entered the bar and sat a few seats away from me. I was nervous, and just kept glancing at her as she looked down at her phone.

“What can I get for you my friend?” The barman asked me suddenly snapping me out of my half daze.

“Sorry, I was miles away, whiskey and ginger please, and a Martini for the lady” I answered him and nodded to my mother from another life. She looked up with surprise.

“Thank you, Martini is my favourite drink” She said to me with a happy smile.

“Yeah it is my mothers favourite drink, you look a lot like her, it is quite unnerving actually, but in a good way” I added the last four words quickly, making her laugh, the same laugh, same smile, but different hair, and a stronger accent.

“Well that is nice, but I hope your mother looks 23, then I can be flattered” She said laughing before gulping down her drink in one mouthful and clicking her fingers for another, which she also gulped down, barely giving the barman time to place the drink on the bar.

“Looks like you have had a hard day, if you don not mind me saying?” I said to her as she continued clicking her fingers for more drinks.

“Every day is hard, and I do mind you saying, just because I am drinking a lot you think you can make comments, and insinuate things, just like all men, but do not worry, I do not hold anything against you” She smiled at me with a side glance as she put her glass to her lips and slowly drank it dry to make her point.

I sat back shocked, she was different, a lot was the same but she was very different in a lot of ways. The way she sat, the way she drank, her overall presence was just different. That is not my mother, my mother is gone I thought as I drank my whiskey in one and paid the barman.

“It was nice to meet you” I said before turning and leaving, she waved her hand without looking, and I felt stupid, I should have known she would not be the woman I knew. I turned at the door for one last glance as she gulped down another drink. She could put the drink away, that made me think she had problems, but so did everyone, and I doubted she would want my help, she certainly did not want me commenting on her day or her drinking. I was a stranger, and she was a stranger to me. I returned to the Stretch to continue my work on my remote, but I could not focus. My mind was full of memories of my mother and father, I had destroyed that life, and I could not imagine how many others. I was a man of science, and I would continue my experiments, I believed I could shape the future, and every time I changed something, bad things would follow, but also good things, I had already discovered so many new things, and already had the information saved to my computer on the Stretch. Everything that was discovered in my original timeline and the new was all there. If I changed it again, would humanity come up with the answers to other problems? These ideas and thoughts over took those of my family, and I knuckled down to work. Within six hours my remote was ready, and I was ready to change the world again.

Chapter 2

My experiments were a lot of work to prepare for, I had the idea of researching one person or family, every piece of information I could find, and even meeting them and watching them from an early age to the day they die. After I knew everything I possible could, I would change something, stall them at a traffic light, or bump in to them in the street, I wanted to see the outcome and changes to there life by one simple difference. I knew it would be extremely hard to make it an accurate test, I had to make sure nobody else saw me, or there lives would also be changed, and that would change countless other lives. It is like a plague, it spreads from one person to another, one person does something different and every person they make contact with has a new fate, and every person they make contact with has a new fate also, changing the whole world. I needed to decide how I was going to make the change, and who the person or family would be. It had to be somebody well known, with a lot of information, pictures, videos, letters, tweets and status updates, which I discovered was something you did on Twitter and Facebook, which I had no idea about, but was a great source of information for millions of people all over the globe. There was so much to learn, and I downloaded the world wide network. I now had the knowledge from two different time lines, which would prove to be priceless, with all of the scientific and medical discoveries. Not to mention the music, which I had fun listening too, so many varieties. I had thought about trying to change the world back, and having all of this stuff to share with my family and friends, I could be and do anything I wanted. I even day dreamed about becoming the biggest and best song writer in the world by stealing all of the songs and melodies from this reality. I was finally starting to embrace what I was doing, and the amount of knowledge I had at hand made my head spin. I had a sudden feeling of euphoria, I craved more, the possibilities of what I might find and learn spurred me on with my work. After several hours, I decided to stop and rest, the euphoria had turned down a notch and I was hungry. I had my meal converter which was boring, but practical, it was simply a machine that spat out a pill, it contained all of the things that are vital to live, instead of eating a meal I ate a pill that had all of the same stuff in it. That filled me up, but it was not satisfying, and that made me want roast beef, and ice cream for afters.

“I should have brought a little freezer” I said to myself. I did however have a coffee machine, which I could not live without, I could not survive on water, and alcohol is nice enough, but not for every day use to stop myself from dying of thirst. I was just looking for some normality within the confinement of the Stretch, it was a small space to live, eat and sleep. I ate my pill and drank my coffee with my eyes closed, imagining being home with my parents. Conversations we used to have, and games we used to play. I opened my eyes and shook my head, trying to snap out of my day dreaming, I knew it was not helping. I took several deep breathes and cleared my thoughts, before knuckling down to my research. I found somebody I thought would be the perfect subject to perform my experiment which I named project butterfly for obvious reasons. This was the butterfly effect theory, which was not really a theory, it was just an obvious truth, what I was doing was trying to isolate the butterfly effect and keep it contained to one person. It did not work. I will not go into to many details, but the subject died of a heart attack three years after I changed his fate. I tried the old traffic light trick, made him miss the green light. Stupid of me. Everyone else behind him also missed the light, and the experiment failed instantly. I continued to track the subject however, it was already done, and I could still see the changes in his life. I skipped forward month by month, and researched him. Where he had been, who he had met, and so on and so on, until the day he died. He never had a heart attack originally, something caused it. I have no clue of the cause, a bacon sandwich, a glass of beer, I just do not know. I decided not to investigate the how and why of his death, I caused it by changing his life, another death on my hands. At that time I did not know why I was even doing that experiment. What would it accomplish? Was I trying to mould the world to my will for some sort of superiority complex I had? Or just destroying reality after reality because of curiosity? I do not know anymore. All I do know, is that the universe would not allow me to be the superior power. I thought I could control time. Again I say, I was stupid. I was deflated by my failings, and wanted to enjoy what I was doing. No more death. A holiday was my next mission. A break away from changing the world, and getting nowhere. I began to think about the future. My theory, was that the future did not really exist, we shape the future by our decisions. It would change every time I go forward. In constant flux with no continuity, because a split second decision can be changed. It was a theory that had no real basis and nothing to suggest I was actually right. As much as it pained me, I decided I was probably wrong. Or maybe I just hoped I was wrong. I had often dreamed of the future, with space vessels that travelled across the Galaxy and beyond, into the unknown. What an amazing thing to experience. Humans had already started journeys into space. The had reached the moon, and they had reached Mars with robots because the journey was too far for mankind to reach and survive. Being a man of science and knowledge, I knew it was totally possible to reach out and land down on another planet. They had already reached Mars and other planets with small devices. Taking pictures and landing unharmed to explore. If that can be done in my time, surely a few thousand years in the future, people will be making those journeys. It is unthinkable that it would not happen. I was alone in a world that I barely knew now. What did I have to lose? Was I going to continue to change the world hoping to discover new cures and technologies forever? No. The human race will work out what needs to be worked out as time goes bye, they would figure it all out. I made the choice to go forward, not back or stay where I was. I wanted to see the progress of the human race. Experience a life among the stars.

“Maybe I could call myself Mr. Spock” I chuckled to myself as I picked a nice rounded date. The year 5,000. Star Trek was one of my favorite shows as a kid, and I was delighted to discover that it was exactly the same even after all of the changes I had made. It had survived my tampering, and I was thankful for that. I rubbed my hands together as The Stretch began to vibrate and shake. Something was wrong. It was making a noise like a whistle that was getting louder and louder like an old steam kettle. The shakes and vibrations were getting stronger and more violent. The time dial still said 5,000 as The Stretch was enveloped in black darkness. I let out a terrified cry and clung to my seat as The Stretch vanished, moving forward into the unknown depths of time. TO BE CONTINUED…

Mr. Smile

Epilogue

The girl let out a muffled scream in defiance as the gag loosened around her mouth. The man puffed out air and made a mental note to pull it tight in future, he could not have somebody hearing the noise.

 Passers bye, or just a neighbour who is a little bit nosey, that would not be good.

Stepping towards the tied up girl, he snapped his fingers and pointed at her with a look of malevolence that stopped her struggling, and stopped her muffled voice better than any gag could. That made him smile.

 After fixing the gag, that was now so tight it threatened to tear the sides of the girls mouth, he parted the curtains creating a small gap to scan the dark street. Silence. Nothing but the rustles of the trees and a flickering lamp post. It was late, and there was not even any cars to be seen. A chuckle escaped through his smiling mouth, and he closed the curtains again.

Spinning on his heel, and clapping his hands before rubbing them together, he decided it was time to get to work. He left the lounge with the girl tied to a chair, and entered the kitchen where he had placed everything he needed for the nights event. Dragging his heavy body bag filled with his things into the room he had just left, he began pulling out long pipes and tubes that a plumber might carry.

 Looking on terrified, the gagged girl began to struggle again, she did not try to scream or shout, but her eyes were wide and glassy, on the verge of tears and too afraid to make a sound.

The pipes were placed side by side as more and more things were pulled out of the death bag. A big rubber mat was unrolled and placed flat on the wooden floor. The girl noticed that it had a shape or word cut into it, making it look like a huge stencil. Still struggling with fear, she began to make gasping noises around the gag with panic.

He stopped his work with a huff, and walked up to her with a gun he suddenly pulled out of a holster on his hip, flashing a police badge, and cracked the terrified girl on the back of the skull, putting her to sleep. When she finally woke up in a state of confusion and probable concussion, the man was not there, and the lounge was full of the pipes. He had built a huge structure from them, almost like he was making art that people said was amazing and inspiring, but was really just a mess thrown together that made no sense and had no beauty.

The pipes were attached to each other and stood like a sculpture. The girl thought it was spelling out a word, but could not be sure. If it was then it was backwards as she looked at it. Her vision was blurring and a cold substance that she was certain was blood, trickled down her back, and her head felt like it was exploding as she winced.

“Ah, you are awake, just in time” the man said with a smile as he walked back in to the room. He was carrying a black marker pen and a medical case, as he got down on one knee in front of her. Pulling up her white shirt, he began drawing on her stomach, causing her to cry silently and her body to heave as if vibrating. The man stood up and backed away to inspect his work from a short distance.

“Perfect” was all he said as he approached her once more and resumed his previous place. Opening the medical case, he took out a scalpel.

“Sorry” he whispered looking in to her eyes. The girl began to scream around her gag and closed her eyes tightly. The man began to cut in to her skin, following the lines of his pen work with practiced skill, the girl passed out once again from the pain and he continued his work. When he had finished, he pulled out a cotton pad and medical tape, and covered the fresh wounds. There was one more step to achieve, and he would be finished.

“This is going to be a sight to remember” he said with that smile once more.

. . . .

Alice was the only person there, and she had to try and stop the travesty that was about to happen. She cursed under her breath as she sneaked towards Molly with her hands up in the calming manner that people do, to try and stop something bad happening, but it never really helps or makes a difference.

“Alright Molly, don’t do it, alright? Just stay still” She stepped as softly as she could, one foot in front of the other. Molly looked at her and Alice knew she was close to doing it.

“Molly, come on, don’t do it, please” Alice pleaded with her hands stretched out in front of her. Her phone suddenly rang, and she gasped with shock.

“No!” She shouted as Molly did it. She nudged it of the windowsill with her tail as she turned and jumped out of reach at the sound of the ringing, sending the glass urn smashing into the hard wood floor, scattering the ashes of Bryan, her husbands grandad.

“Stupid cat!” Alice shouted as Molly ran for the cat flap in the kitchen, and disappeared outside.

“Unbelievable” She said taking her phone out of her pocket and answering the call.

“Detective Wade” She said with frustration and gritted teeth. She listened as the caller spoke and her eyes narrowed as she listened.

“Wade, Bear wants you at the station, he is pissed about something, better get your skates on, the smelly brown stuff has hit the fan”

“Shit” She shook her head knowing her boss was on the war path.

“Yeah, that is the smelly brown stuff”

“Alright, I’m on my way Lewis” The phone was stuffed back in her pocket with anger, before she walked quickly to the kitchen to pick up the small sweeping brush to save the ashes on the floor, and she placed them in a giant sized soup mug.

“Sorry Bryan” She said to the mug feeling guilty, before picking up her badge and gun, and leaving the house.

 She got in to her car and looked at her face in the rear view mirror to check her make-up and hair.

 “You look like crap Alice” she said to herself with a scowl. It was her thirtieth birthday and she could already see the difference from being twenty nine, with a dozen new wrinkles which she could see around her eyes, and her blonde hair which looked slightly gray with the sunlight shining on to her head. The truth was she was just tired. She had been up late the night before, arguing with Nick her husband, and now the ashes of his grandad were sitting in a mug and he would be furious. She knew putting the ashes on the windowsill was a stupid thing to do. Pushing the thought away, and firing up her car, she headed to the station.

Chapter One

Detective Alice Wade stepped out of her car and slammed the door shut behind her. She walked furiously towards the entrance of the Police Station and locked her car by pointing the keys over her shoulder and pressing the button. She burst through the doors and stopped dead.

“Surprise!” A dozen people shouted and snapped some party poppers.

“You mother fu…”

“Happy birthday! how old are you then, Wade?” Lewis said cutting her off.

“Twenty one” she answered while another officer put a pointy party hat on her head and patted her on the back, making everyone laugh.

“Is that in dog years then?” Lewis chuckled.

“Funny”

“I think it is yeah, I wasn’t lying on the phone by the way, Bear is waiting in his office for you, got a nice present for you I imagine” He chuckled again.

“Perfect” Wade pulled the hat off her head and walked towards the bosses office. She knocked on the door twice and heard Bear stand up from his seat from behind it. The door opened in one swift pull.

“Where the fuck have you been?! get in here” He said walking back to his seat, shifting his large frame from foot to foot. It was obvious why people called him Bear. He was over six feet tall and had a huge beard that covered most of his face, his arms were just as hairy. Not to mention his name was Bill Beringger.

“Home sir”

“Don’t be a smart ass, and close the fucking door” He was in a bad mood and Wade knew that was not good. He was about to lay a whole lot of crap on her doorstep.

“Sorry sir”

“Christ do not start, you know I hate people who apologize, especially when they have no fucking idea what they are sorry about, just sit down and listen will you” Wade nodded and sat in the seat in front of Bears desk. She looked at him and waited for him to speak.

“Julia Anderson, thirty two years old, last seen sometime between 15:00 and 15:30 yesterday afternoon by a woman walking her dog” Bear lay down a file and pushed it across the desk towards Wade.

“Yesterday? Got a body?”

“No”

“Blood?”

“Nope”

“What then?”

“She is just missing”

“I work homicide, not missing persons, why you giving this to me?” Wade was on the verge of blowing up and stood up from her chair when Bear put a hand up to calm her and explain.

“Hold up, and listen” He waited for her to sit back down “This woman is a cops wife, Alex Anderson, you know him?”

“Vice Alex Anderson? The dirt bag who shot his partner and pinned it on that pimp? No fucking way am I taking this” Wade pushed the file back towards Bear with force.

“You do as I fucking tell you, and there is no evidence that Alex shot anyone or pinned shit on anyone, so until you find evidence to support that accusation I suggest you keep that shit to yourself”

“Come on sir, you know as well as I do that Anderson is as dirty as a dogs arse”

“Like I said, if you have evidence of that then please share it, or shut the fuck up and do your job”

“My job is homicide, not this, it hasn’t even been twenty four hours, she has probably went to some guys house to get humped, why dump this shit on me?”

“If you would pull your head out of your ass and fucking listen, I could explain to you” Bear lit a fag and put his boots up on his desk as he waited for Wade to submit. She pulled the chair closer to the desk and picked up the file again with a face like thunder.

“Julia Anderson has been working under cover with the feds, don’t ask me about it, I know as much as you, but they want her back. She has knowledge that those pricks don’t want to get out” Bear said before taking a big drag and blowing smoke towards the ceiling.

“So? Whats that got to do with us? If she was dead then by all means bring it on, I would be all over it, doing my job, but this is not a homicide case”

“No it is not, it is a find the fucking woman before the feds climb up my ass case, so just do it, and close the fucking the door” Wade stood up and walked towards the door.

“This is bullshit sir”

“I said close the fucking door” Bear was in a worse mood than usual and Wade felt like she was being pushed in to a case that had nothing to do with her. She opened the door with force and slammed it shut behind her. The sound of Bear growling at the slam followed her as she walked to her desk and sat down. She picked up the phone and listened to her messages, she deleted three of them as soon as she heard the voices of the callers, knowing who they were and what they wanted. A reporter who wanted an interview, a lawyer who wanted to discuss her client and cut a deal, but Wade wanted him to go down forever and was not interested, she would go all out in court and see him get locked away until the end of time, and her mother. Now was not the time to listen to her ear bashing about missing lunch a few days earlier. Her phone vibrated in her pocket, and she pulled it out.

“Shit, you pick your fucking moments”

A message from her husband Nick. He was going to the house later that afternoon to pick up some of his things.

“Who you talking to partner? Your imaginary cat? Old people do that don’t they?”

Lewis her partner was standing in front of her with a huge grin on his face.

“Message from Nick, he is packing his bags today, happy fucking birthday to me” She answered him with a sarcastic laugh and ignoring his joke. Lewis made bad jokes most of the time and today would be full of even worse ones.

“Sorry partner, that sucks ass”

“Yeah, it will suck even more when he finds his grandad in a soup mug”

“Shit… you didn’t take it out on a dead guy did you?”

“Molly knocked the urn of the windowsill, poor Bryan scattered everywhere” She felt terrible but the look on Lewis’ face made her laugh, he was turning a weird shade of purple trying to hold his amusement in check, but like everything else in the world, it came out, and he burst in to hysteria along with Wade.

“Never mind Wade, you don’t need Nick anyway, you got Molly and your other imaginary cat to keep you company”

He punched her in the arm with just enough force to make her wince and threw a small box on her desk before walking away.

It was a ring size box with a ribbon wrapped around it, making it look like a miniature sized Christmas present. Wade picked it up and opened it. It was a key ring with a picture of her and Lewis at the Halloween party. She was wearing rags and had fake blood on her face, she was supposed to be a zombie but looked like a homeless person, and Lewis was wearing a skeleton suit with face paint. They looked totally stupid, but it made her smile.

“Wade! Get in here now! Hurry up!” Bear had opened his office door and shouted, looking sick and edgy.

Wade got back up out of her chair and quickly walked back to his office.

“What have I done now?”

“Shut up, somebody just called the station, and said a woman who was snatched off the street yesterday is about to die, here is the address”

“You think this is Julia Anderson? Who was the caller?”

“Didn’t say. I am guessing it is our kidnapper, and he said you have to go and save her”

“Me? He mentioned me by name?”

“Yes, so get Lewis and get her out of whatever situation she is in, this is obviously a trap for you, who have you pissed off recently apart from me?” Bear was glaring at her accusingly.

“No idea, but I will find this prick who ever he is, this is a home address, we will need a team, maybe a few snipers, sounds like a hostage situation, probably wants to trade Julia for me, but I have no clue who would want me”

“Yeah, me neither, so get the fuck out and do your job, and do not trade yourself for her if that is what he wants, just shoot the fucker, the feds want Julia bad”

“Roger that” Wade smiled. She had been given the green light to kill the kidnapper without all of the bullshit negotiations that almost always ends in a blood bath anyway. But who is this guy? He obviously knows me, and has a vendetta against me, for what? She mused as she walked towards the exit of the building and waving Lewis over to her to follow.

“What the fuck happened now” Lewis said jogging to keep up with her as she sprint walked to car.

“Kidnapping, possible hostage, the kidnapper asked for me, by name, so and the victim is working under cover for the feds, we have to get her out, and kill this fucker whoever he is”

“Shit” was all Lewis could say as he tried to take in the information.

They got in to the car and started the siren as the wheels spun and they raced towards there destination.

Chapter Two

Wade and her partner Lewis drove onto the street where the victim was said to be held. They stopped a short distance away from the address provided by Bear, and scoped the house out. The unit that was sent with them followed. Wade and Lewis got out of the car and looked around for anything out of the ordinary around the street and surrounding area of the property, but everything seemed normal. Or as normal as could be expected with dozens of cops and the flashing lights from all of the patrol cars. The press soon turned up and tried to get answers and a statement about what was happening. The truth, was nobody had any idea what was happening. A perimeter was set up around the house, and the public were moved back and away from potential danger when they all came out of there homes to see what was happening.

“This does not look like a hostage situation, the place looks empty. You think we have been led up the garden path? Literally”

Lewis was scratching his head and could not work out any explanation other than this was a hoax.

“Fuck, this is bullshit, if someone was in there with a hostage then we would have had demands, or the fucker would have been shouting his mouth off that he was going to kill her. Silence, just bloody silence”

Wade was pissed off. They had gone pretty much all out, and now the press was here.

“Unless she is already dead, do we have statements from the neighbors?” Lewis asked a cop who was writing in a note pad.

“Yeah, nobody has seen or heard anything, and this house belonged to an old woman called Valery Breen, she died three days ago, no family”

“Anyone have cameras around here?” Wade pointed to the houses around the supposed hostage hold.

“No. All of the neighbors know each each other, real tight around here, they all say the same thing, no need for security, they thought it was amusing that I even asked them, like this is Brady Bunch town or something”

“Thanks” Lewis said shaking his head. “Now what?” He lit a smoke and leaned back on the car and crossed his legs knowing this was going to be a long day, and probably a huge waist of time. The cop nodded to them both and went back to writing in his pad and walking away in to the crowed of cops keeping the public out of the way.

“Call Bear, update him on this shit” Wade asked her partner before walking a little closer to the house. A rookie cop was standing close by with a pair of binoculars and she snapped her fingers at him to hand them over. She took them and had a real hard look. The curtains at the front of the house were closed, but she could make out a small crack between them. She walked a little closer and sideways to her left, trying to get a glimpse into the house through the small gap. Now a fair way down the street, looking at the window from a tight angle, she could see in to the house.

“Bear is updated, you see anything?” Lewis asked.

Wade continued to look through the binoculars without saying a word for a few moments.

“I’m not sure, but I think I can see a woman sitting on a chair, gap through the curtains” Wade handed the binoculars over to Lewis and pointed to the window.

“Yeah. A leg and a chair leg. No movement” Lewis handed them back.

Wade’s phone began to vibrate in her pocket, and she took it out to see who was calling. Unknown number. She refused the call and put the phone back in her pocket.

“Go and get me a mic, if this prick is does not answer then I am going in, that girl could be seriously injured” Wade said to Lewis with gritted teeth.

“And get yourself killed? No, your not, your getting old but your not going to die today, grandma” Lewis joked in a serious voice without looking amused.

“Just fucking do it will you” Wade continued to stare through the window, willing the victim to move and show some signs of life. Lewis shook his head and retrieved a microphone for her.

“He will not answer you, he would have spoke by now” Lewis handed her the mic.

“This is the Detective Wade! Come out with your hands up, now! You have ten seconds or I am coming in!” She said down the mic. Thirty seconds went by and her phone vibrated again in her pocket.

“Who the fuck is this!” She said pulling it out of her pocket again. A text message, unknown number again. She opened the message and her eyes went wide with shock. She dropped the mic on the floor and threw her phone to Wade, before running towards the house.

“Wade! No!” Lewis shouted after her, but she did not listen. Wade kicked the garden gate open and sprinted down the path towards the front door, squashing a few daffodils that were over hanging from the grass. She did not stop or wait, she ran at the door and put her boot through it, bursting through, and in to the living room, there was no passage or hallway. The second she entered the room, she realized it was a trap. The front door was attached to ropes that pulled with force from the violent entry of Wade. The other end of the ropes were attached to the legs of the chair where the girl was sitting. The chair was ripped from under her, and she flew to her feet, attached by other ropes, like Jesus on the cross, facing away from Wade. Blood gushed out of her stomach. Hooks were in her skin that was pulled away, and also ripped her belly open, killing her in seconds. The blood gushed down into a funnel that was positioned beneath her, and was attached to pipes that were standing in a structure.

“No!” Wade screamed after a few seconds had past, and she realized she was the one who just killed the girl. If she went through the back door or a window, the girl would have lived. She walked slowly towards the horror that was in front her and walked to the side to see it fully. The pipes looked like writing in 3D, standing up and suddenly turning red. The pipes were translucent to begin with, but now blood flowed through them and out of them onto a rubber mat that lay at the feet of the dead girl. It was thick and had a stencil cut into it. It was a huge pair of open lips, and the blood filled them in, colouring the picture a deep red. The blood spilled out of two gaps at the bottom of the rubber smiling mouth, making the smile bleed from either side of the lips like Dracula.

“Holy fuck” Lewis said following her in to the room “Crazy son of a bitch” he mopped his brow and put his hand over his mouth, either in shock or to stop his vomiting.

“I killed her, he rigged the room, the second I came through that door her stomach was ripped open and then this” She said pointing at the structure of pipes and smiling red mouth on the floor. She moved around carefully to see the girls face and stomach. Another stencil was ripped from her stomach as well as ripping her open, it was one big upper rose bud lip, like a cartoon drawing, and beneath it the ripped gut.

“I read the text. He said she was close to death and you had to get in here now before she bled out, but how does he have your number? It must be somebody who knows you, a vendetta”

“Maybe” She replied.

“Smile” Lewis said.

“What?” Wade said without looking.

“The pipes. It says smile”

TO BE CONTINUED…

Jules And The Hidden World Of Magical Creatures

Chapter 1

“Alright! Up! Come on! Up!”

The sound of Mrs Grand shouting from the corridor, woke Jules with a start, and was as tender to the ears as nails down a chalk board.

With a groan, she pulled her pillow over her head, knowing what came next.

Bang bang!

Mrs Grand rapped her walking stick against her bedroom door, and continued to shout.

“Up! Up! Come on!”

Jules sat up with another groan as the footsteps, and tapping of the walking stick against the floor  moved off down the corridor to wake the other girls. Jules could still hear the shouts, and wished she had a better way to wake up on a morning. Like an alarm clock, the kind with two huge bells that clatter and make it jump until it falls over, she saw one on television, and the woman backhanded it of her bedside table in frustration when it would not stop ringing. Or maybe a rooster? A rooster sitting on the fence outside, waiting for the first sign of sunlight to cockadoodledoo.

they are surely better than Mrs Grand and her walking stick.

One day she would have an alarm clock she decided, roosters may need looking after, and you can turn an alarm clock off, she knew she could never turn Mrs Grand off, her voice had no off switch and a battery that never ran out.

She wiped crusted spittle from her cheek and stretched with a long yawn. Swinging her legs around, and placing her feet on the hard cold floor, she sucked in her breath, and whipped her feet back up, like she had stood on snow barefoot.

Slippers. One day I will have fluffy warm slippers, or a carpet where your feet sink down, just like the one Mrs Grand has in her bedroom. Jules and some of the other girls had to act as nurses for her a few months earlier when someone spilled water in the kitchen and she fell, breaking her arm. They had to bring her meals in bed, and generally be at her bedside constantly as she asked for a newspaper or a drink. Jules did not mind, she got to feel the soft carpet beneath her feet and watch the huge television.

“One day I will have them” she said aloud while opening her small draw and pulling out thin socks. She put them on and got dressed in her old second hand clothes, which was a gray jumper that was big on her, and black trousers that were short on the legs.

“Summer dress” she said adding clothes to her wish list, “red with flowers” She had an overwhelming certainty that she would have everything she desired one day, and she constantly made mental notes about all of the things she would have when she finally left the orphanage. Maybe she would even get a job at that lovely store in town that has beautiful dresses and shoes, that would be nice.

The shoes she had were the only thing she did not mind, they fit her and were comfortable. Slipping them on, she walked over to her window and got down on her knees. Listening for sounds coming her way, and hearing none, she pulled up a loose floor board where she hid the two most precious things she had. Smiling, she pulled out a card she was given for her eleventh birthday, it was the only one she had ever got. It simply said.

Happy Birthday, hope you enjoy it, H

It was left on her windowsill along with a gift, a telescope. She looked at the card everyday and looked from her window every night with her telescope. Jules suddenly heard the familiar steps and taps of Mrs Grand coming along the corridor, she panicked as she put the card back on top of her telescope in the floor, and slammed the plank of wood back in to place just before her door burst open.

“What are you up to?” the old lady asked spitefully with her broken and cracked voice, like she smoked a pack of cigarettes a day. Jules was now sitting on her chair next to the window, with her legs crossed, chin on hand and elbow on knee, looking defiant, and guilt free.

“Nothing” she answered passively with an innocent smile while drumming her fingers on her cheek.

“Get up out of that chair, and get in to that kitchen, the porridge will not cook itself, and brush your hair! You look like a witch” She said angrily while pointing the walking stick at her.

“Yes, Mrs Grand” Jules answered in her most polite voice as she fluttered her eyes and smiled, mocking the old lady and making her growl. The old woman continued moving along the corridor and shouting at some of the girls who had not yet left their rooms. Jules let out a breath of relief. She would be utterly devastated if she no longer had her telescope and card, they were the only things she loved, and they meant everything to her.

Who “H” was she had no clue, she only knew one person who’s name started with a H, Harriet, a nine year old girl who could never get her hands on shoe laces never mind a telescope, and even if she could, she would not give it away. Tomorrow she would be twelve. Maybe H will bring me another gift? Maybe it is a distant relative? She thought. Jules had no family that she knew of, being in an orphanage it did not seem likely that the gift was from a family member, if it was, then why leave her there. All of her thoughts had to be pushed to the back of her mind, the mysterious H entered her thoughts way too much, and dreaming about all of the things she wanted just made her feel sad, but also determined, and she had breakfast to cook.

 Jules decided to keep her gift a secret from everyone, nobody could be trusted, Mrs Grand had a way of bribing the girls with boiled sweets to give her information on the girls doing things they should not be, or to be more accurate, doing things she did not allow.

 Jules eventually left her room to go to the kitchen to cook breakfast for everyone, just like every other day, and life was hard. All of the girls worked, some did laundry and others cleaned, Jules cooked and cleaned the bathroom. After another long day had ended, she entered her room with a tired sigh, and plopped down face first on to her bed and lay there for several minutes before sitting up. Exhaustion was completely normal for her and the girls, but Jules always felt it more than everyone else because she stayed awake very late every night to gaze out of her window with her telescope. It was the highlight of her life, and fatigue was the small price she did not mind paying. Slipping in to her huge mans football jersey she used as a nightgown, she got in to her bed and gazed at her window, and told the sun to hurry up and go away so that the moon and stars could come out and keep her company. Eventually the sunlight faded, and the moonlight took its place. Jules waited for complete silence in the house, Mrs Grand liked to walk the halls and listen for anyone who was still awake, she would bang her walking stick against their door, and growl at them to be silent. The time ticked away slowly and Jules forced herself to remain in her bed, there was no way she would risk being caught with her telescope, and proved herself quite correct to be cautious, because she could hear somebody outside of her room, listening for a sound, and trying to catch her out. Mrs Grand was relentless in her pursuit of catching Jules doing something she should not be. Jules waited two whole hours after hearing her outside of the door, before sneaking out of bed and taking her telescope out of its hiding place. It was after midnight and it was technically her birthday now.

“Thank you” she whispered to the sky as she gazed out of the window with her birthday present from the year before, imagining the moon and stars were wishing her many happy returns.

“You be a lot welcome” a voice whispered to her in response.

Jules backed away from the window in fright, too scared to make a sound, not only because a voice spoke to her, but always because Mrs Grand would be in her room swiftly, she always had that terrifying thought rattling around in her mind at night. Spinning around, she scanned her room looking for the source of the whisper. Nothing.

“Who said that?” she asked in another whisper spinning back around and looking out of the window once more.

“My name are Hatfield” the voice said from behind her, it was a smooth and well spoken voice, like someone high born or from a rich English family. Jules hesitated before slowly looking over her shoulder to see what appeared to be a short bald old man with a top hat and pin striped gray suit sitting on her bed. He held a cane made of marble with a golden ball on top that shone in the moonlight that was coming through the open window. Jules was shocked and span around quickly as she saw him.

“What do you want?” she asked him in an unsure and shaky low voice.

“To tell happy birthday, and ask her if her is ready to be gone, from here place” Hatfield answered kindly.

“What? I do not understand what you are saying” she said with less fear, there was something about him that made her feel comfortable.

“Forgiveness, I be learning your speaking” Hatfield held up his hands in apology, and smiled shyly.

“Oh, you are learning my language, where are you from? Did you give me the telescope? Thank you” She walked towards the strange little man who nodded.

He was strangely dressed, and she looked at him more closely, he could not have been much more than four feet tall. He had what looked to be an old mans face at first glance, but at closer inspection he did not look old at all, his skin was a pale gray, and he had lines that could be easily mistaken for wrinkles, only these wrinkles were long, and not short like other wrinkles. His eyes were a perfect blue and his lips were a strange shade of green that strangely seemed to match his skin tone. A smell of lavender filled the room and Jules thought the smell was beautiful. Hatfield lifted his cane and pointed out of the window before saying.

“Up” and continuing to smile.

“Up? You mean space?” she said excitedly and trying to keep her voice down.

“No, no breath in space, world, up and out, far” He whispered and prolonged the word far, like it was an amazing mystery.

“Another planet? That is brilliant! What is it like?”

“Gone now, but not much seconds to be talking, I and she must be gone with fast” Hatfield gasped as he stood up and walked up to Jules, taking her hand, and moving towards the window.

“What? You mean leave? by going out of the window? Do not be crazy, I do not know you, and it is too high to climb down” Jules said pulling her hand away.

“Trust, or be staying with horrific madam” He said pointing at the bedroom door. Jules could here someone coming along the corridor, Mrs Grand had heard her, and was coming to her room.

“Lets get out of here” she answered quickly picking up her clothes and telescope that Hatfield placed inside his top hat making them disappear like a magician, before they took each others hand.

“Time to being magic, Jules” he said grandly as he took several steps back from the window, and ran hand in hand with her towards it.

They both jumped out and were gone as the bedroom door burst open. Mrs. Grand looked around frantically and went to the window as fast as her walking stick could help her. Jules and Hatfield came out of nowhere and flew past her, scaring the life out of her and making her fall backward with a yelp. They laughed gleefully before flying off into the distance, leaving the orphanage behind.

Chapter 2

Jules clung to Hatfield as they flew through the night, over tree tops and in to the unknown. “Why am I not screaming in terror?” She said in her mind. It was silent, and the stars were shinning bright above them. Jules loved the night, the mystery of the universe now filled her mind, and she was finally living her dream, flying through space, well she knew it was not space, but she looked up at the black sky and imagined it was, “Of course I am not screaming, this is amazing” The trees below them swayed and shook in the wind, and the moon shone down on them, illuminating the view. She was free, and had never felt more alive.

“How are we flying Mr Hatfield?

“Mystic” he answered holding her hand and opening up his pinstriped jacket with his one free hand, and pulling out a small bag.

“Mystic?” Jules said confused as she looked at the small bag. “What is that?” Hatfield looked at her also confused before realizing his mistake.

“Ah! Magic! This is what I speak” he smiled and shook his head “This is magic, gifted me, from friend”

“Magic” Jules looked at the small bag that sat on the palm of his gray hand, and was in awe. “But what is it?”

“Difficulty telling her, magic are magic, from Humbert, friend” Hatfield tried his best to explain to her, and Jules had no idea what he was talking about or where they were going. But she was content, and was not scared as they flew through the night. Jules suddenly became aware of the chill as the wind picked up, and she shivered.

“Her Ice? No afraid, clothing soon, drink, feel hot” Hatfield said handing her a small glass bottle.

“Good, it is getting really cold” She drank the liquid that tasted like peppermint and was freezing, and strangely it made her feel warm and cosy, like sitting in front of a fire in winter with a mug of cocoa, not that she had ever done that, but she imagined it was a perfect description for warmth and contentment, most of her thoughts about things were speculation, she had no experience of them and her imagination was her only reference with such things.

“Her heat now?”

“Yes, I am warm now, thank you” Jules smiled “Clothing you said? From where Mr Hatfield?” she asked him feeling snug, although she was flying through the night in a football jersey with bare legs.

“Place we go, with friends” Hatfield smiled. They flew for a short time, over forests and fields, and a small lake, until they approached what appeared to be a distant mountain.

“Where are we? How is there a mountain?” Jules asked excitedly, and surprising herself, she should really be afraid in this situation, anyone else would be, right?

“We go far distance, friends being here, no scared, safety” Hatfield spoke in a calming tone, fearing Jules would be apprehensive. Jules nodded and smiled in reply, there was no fear, only questions.

“Who are you Mr Hatfield? Why did you get me out of the orphanage? I do not know you” Jules spoke quickly, the questions came out in a hurry and she still had more desperate to follow. None of it made any sense.

“Understanding your needing clarity, her knowing soon, we are being here, eyes” Hatfield spoke and pointed at his right eye before turning his finger towards the mountain wanting her to look. It looked like an island sitting on a huge body of water, it could have been a river or ocean, or even sea, but Jules did not really know the difference between them, it was simply a mountain sitting in water. They flew closer to it and Jules noticed what appeared to be a door, a huge door that reminded her of a castle you see in cartoons. It was made of dark wood, and had strips of metal running through it with a spiked fence above it.

“We are going in to the mountain? Why is the door so big Mr Hatfield?” Jules asked.

“Yes, we go, door so big for Humbert, he being extra tall” Hatfield said lifting his free hand above his head to explain his friends height.

They reached the door and touched down in front of it, it was even bigger than Jules had first thought. She imagined it was at least the size of a house as she looked up at it. Hatfield smiled at her before walking up to it with his blue marble cane. He twisted the golden ball from the end of it and touched it to the door. A bright white light came from beneath the ball spreading across the door looking like an eclipse. The door began to move up, not open up, like Jules had expected. The fence above it began to rattle and shake as the door bumped and nudged it on its way up. Jules bent down to look inside and let out a gasp as her mouth hung open and her eyes widened with a sense a magical awe at the view.

“Come Jules, warmth clothes and meeting friends” Hatfield said holding out his hand for her to take, and to follow him into wonder. Not answering, she took his hand with her eyes glassing over as if in a trance from the sight, and they walked through the now fully open arch way where the door instantly began to retreat down as they stepped inside. The entrance was lit with candles the size of lamp posts with flames flickering with the wind, and the walls were flat and smooth, not like a mountain should be, all rough and ragged, but perfect. The light coming from the candles gave everything a golden shine, they were in a high hall way made of marble, the same as the cane Hatfield carried, and there were little men in what looked to be a lounge in the short distance, they looked just like Hatfield, except for the suit and cane, and they wore plain white all in ones with white shoes to match. The dozen or so men were all sitting drinking tea. Laughter and conversations echoed towards them, and Jules noticed everyone was so small, and she wondered why, since everything was so big. The little men were talking extremely fast, and she could not work out what they were saying, if it was even her language, she doubted it was. Walking towards the lounge with Hatfield, and passing by enormous paintings of dragons and fairies that hung from the walls, one of the small men noticed them and stood with the biggest smile Jules had ever seen, it took up at least half of his face leaving little room for his small button nose and gray eyes.

“Hatfield! You are back! And have brought a dumdum with you, how rebellious of you!” he said in a similarly posh way to his friend, continuing to smile widely, flashing white teeth and winking at Hatfield with his hands in his white pockets, rocking back on his heels.

“Yes Ellis, this is Jules of five” Hatfield replied in a voice that was almost a challenge, before he winked back at him and lead Jules to one of the three sofas that sat in the middle of the room. It was a huge place for small people to live, and there was a fire place that made Jules gasp with excitement before she realized that the conversation Hatfield had with his friend was perfectly understandable.

“Mr Hatfield? How did you just speak normally? And 5 of what?” Jules asked before thinking her question may have been rude, but Hatfield smiled and nodded as he pointed for her to sit.

“Magic Jules, everything here is very different to what you know, I did not speak normally, Ellis and I spoke our own language, and the five bit is complicated, answers soon” Hatfield said with his still noble sounding voice “we can talk easily now, but first, clothing for you, as promised” He walked over to the burning fire place and stuck his arms inside.

“Mr Hatfield!” Jules shouted in fear and ran towards him to pull him out of the flames, but she was a second late, and he removed his arms from the fire with no burns or evidence of ever being exposed to heat.

“I am quite fine Jules, do not worry, it is not real fire” He smiled handing her a big box. She looked relieved and smiled as she opened up the box from the flames to find a red dress with flowers.

“How did you know?” she said taking it out of the box and placing up against her chest before performing a twirl with giddy laughter.

“I did not know anything, this fire place gives you things you need, it knows what you like, but I fear it needs upgrading, you can not wear that dress outside, it will be snowing soon, and you will need something warm, it should have known that, what kind of warm clothing do you like?” Hatfield ask her as she inspected the beautiful dress with pleasure.

“Warm clothes? I don not really know Mr Hatfield, I have never chosen clothes before, I just seen a dress like this in a shop window once, and thought it was the best thing in the world” Jules replied.

“Ah, I see, that is why it gave you the dress, it is the only item of clothing you have ever desired, well, never mind, I will get you something appropriate” Hatfield put his arms back into the flames and rummaged around, before pulling out another box, much larger than the other one, and placed it on the floor in front of her. Jules looked upset, and put the dress back in the box and handed it to Hatfield.

“Why are your eyes dripping?” Hatfield looked curiously at her “Does it mean you are sick?” He said suddenly looking concerned.

“What? No, I am sad, I am sorry Mr Hatfield, you must think me ungrateful, thank you for the clothes” she answered him opening up the new box to find a warm winter coat with fur around the neck and mittens attached to the sleeves. There was also a plain black jumper with a hood and black skinny trousers.

“Oh, human eyes leak water when they are sad? How strange. Why are you sad Jules? Are you afraid? This must all be very odd for you, in a mountain with strangers” He said more to himself then her, knowing the way he got Jules out of the orphanage and brought her there was not very good, and should have scared the girl silly.

“No, it is not that, I just really love the dress” she answered quickly, too quickly for her own liking, thinking she sounded truly ungrateful now.

“The dress is yours Jules, the fire gave it to you, I am not taking it from you, but I do suggest you wear the warm clothes outside, snow is coming, and you will need some boots” Hatfield looked at her confused again, not knowing why she would think he would take her dress away.

“Oh, Mr Hatfield, thank you!” she said with delight and hugged him, making him even more confused before she let him go looking embarrassed.

“Is holding a custom humans use to show gratitude?” he asked her, with his mind trying to work out how humans act.

“Yes, sort of, it is called a hug, people do it to say thank you, and they do it to make each other feel better” she answered him thinking hard about the question.

“So it is magic? Holding each other heals pain?”

“What? No, well yes, it is hard to explain, when people are upset you give them a hug, It makes them feel good, or it is supposed to, it shows them you care and are there for them, to support them and help them” Jules said suddenly realizing that it does sound extremely confusing, even to her.

“Humans are very different to other creatures” Hatfield said taking off his hat and scratching his completely bald head, before replacing it.

“So where are you from? You said another planet, how is that possible?” Jules said now curiously.

“Yes, we came a very far distance, we all did, many different creatures from very different worlds, a huge variety of beings” he answered.

“But why?”

“Because we are hiding, and we had to find the five, they are the only ones who can save us from him” Hatfield said in a quiet voice as he looked down.

“Hiding? From who? Who is the five?” she asked him.

“A bad and evil creature, he wants to destroy and enslave everything and everyone, he thinks he is special, kind of like a god, but he is not, and the five are the leaders of the five stars, the five stars are planets that are right next to each other, you can see them as close as you see your moon. The five are the only ones powerful enough to stop him, but they vanished a very long time ago, and they are here, I am certain”

“They are powerful?”

“Yes, the are the magic givers, they created it, long long ago, my people think the five are just a legend, a story, mythology without substance, but I believe they still exist, or at least their ancestors” Hatfield smiled.

“You called me Jules of five, to your friend, you do not think I am one of them, do you?” Jules said scared. She did not want to break his hopes and dreams by telling him she was just an orphan, with nothing to offer him in terms of help, and certainly not magic that can fight off an evil creature.

“You are one of them, you do not know it yet, but you will soon enough” he winked at her and smiled kindly “Anyway, forget that for now, it is late in the night, you must be tired, I will show you to your room” Standing up and carrying the two boxes, he led her through a door that was the same height as the entrance door, and that brought them to a corridor. It had lots more huge doors that lead to bedrooms, and more lamp post sized candles. Hatfield showed her to the closest room, where he left her to get some sleep.

TO BE CONTINUED…