The life of a Pound Coin
Joel was excited as he walked though the woods with his Mum and their dog, Sunny. He had four pound coins to buy a colouring book and chocolate. He showed his Mum the strange little nick on the side of one of the coins before putting it in his pocket. Sunny was enjoying the walk too – scurrying around chasing the odd bird or two. Joel raced round with the small dog from time to time – both of them enjoying the fun of the pseudo chase. The trio reached the post office where Sunny was tied up outside while Joel and his Mum went in. However, when they got to the till, Joel found that the coin with the nick in it was missing. He was near to tears but trying his hardest not to cry. His Mum offered to buy him a smaller bar of chocolate as compensation which wasn’t so bad as he still had his book and some chocolate.Joel looked around the woods on the way home in case he managed to find the lost coin.‘I don’t think there’s much point in looking pet’ his Mum told him‘It’s like looking for a needle in a haystack.’In fact there was no point at all as a cheeky magpie had seen the coin glinting in the sunlight and had carried it up to her nest. That done she settled down for a snooze dreaming of the worm she was going to catch for her tea. The sun was setting when she woke so she sensed she didn’t have much time to find that worm but she managed to catch one that was stupid enough to rise to the surface just as she was watching a few leaves on the forest floor. She returned to her nest hoping the barn owl wouldn’t be doing much flapping and cooing during the night or the breeze wouldn’t get any stronger.Sadly, the magpie’s hopes were dashed as the breeze gradually built up to become a gale that shook the tree so the barn owl flapped and called in an alarming way waking everything in the wood. For once the magpie was glad, as she only just managed to flee her nest before her branch gave way and crashed to the ground! She tried to find her treasure but it was too dark. There was nothing for it but to shelter under a low bush – the fox lurking in the same bush, however, couldn’t believe his luck!The next day two brothers, Scott and Danny, with their friend Arty, who was really more of a hanger on were walking through the woods in their usual mucking about way. As they almost fell over a large fallen branch Arty noticed a heap of bits of coloured plastic and silver paper in a tangle of straw and twigs.‘Oi bruv’ he shouted to Scott who was more interested in scrapping with Danny over a girl. ‘I’m not your bruv’ Scott shouted back ‘and never will be – he’s my bruv’ he pointed at Danny almost poking him in the eye. ‘Cum here and look at this – looks like someone’s been collecting bits of stuff.’ Scott sauntered over to see what Arty was on about this time.‘Blimey- lots of bits of plastic Arty – must be worth a fortune! You takin’ it home then?’ Scott was laughing so much his brother came to see what the carry on was.‘Crikes you’ll need an escort to make sure you get home with that lot’ Danny carried on with the mockery . ‘ Woah – there’s a pound coin there Arty – better watch out no one’s tailing you to nick it.’ Arty hadn’t seen the coin but quickly picked it up and stuffed it in his pocket. It might be just what he needed to show them once and for all that he was‘thelad’! The brothers walked off leaving Arty to follow until he shouted he was going to his Gran’s. They neither answered or acknowledged him.‘Hello Gran’ Arty called as he burst through the front door into his Uncle Alistair’s house where his Gran lived‘howare ya?’ Gran didn’t stir – she was asleep with her mouth wide open snoring as only the very elderly can. Alistair heard Arty so came to see what the lad wanted.‘HelloUncle Alistair – how ya doin?’‘Better than you I suspect’ replied Alistair condescendingly ‘ What are you after now?’ ‘Nuthin’ mate – just to see me gran oh and you of course. Is there a cuppa on the go?’ ‘I suppose’ Alistair muttered with a ‘Bloody kid!’ under his breath. In the next moment the doorbell rang so Alistair went to answer it. It was the Kleeneze man with their order who started his usual chat about the weather and the state of his order book. Arty knew this would last a while as the man also came to his house. Quick as lightning he was in the cupboard downing a couple of shots from the vodka bottle then almost leapt to the back porch to extricate a tenner from his Uncle’s wallet before roughly putting it back in a jacket. He also stole a fiver from his Gran’s purse which was on the table beside her sleeping form. Arty then rushed to the front door casually remarking he had no time to wait for the tea. Alistair soon discovered why Arty had left in such a hurry ‘ Wretched kid’ he said to himself ‘He’ll end up paying for all this one day.’ Arty had seen the dealer hanging round the school gates and asked him how much the sweetie drugs were a few days ago. ‘Sixteen quid for two’ he was told. So now he had enough thanks to his thieving and the pound from the woods. He only had to wait until he saw the skinny lad to score which wasn’t long. It was home time so, when he saw Scott and Danny, he swirled round and downed one of the‘sweeties’before they saw him with the dealer. ‘Oi lads where ya goin’ he shouted.‘What’s it to you – we’re goin’ on an adventure’ Danny crowed ‘ so you’s better naff off cos you’re a coward.’ ‘I’m not. Anyways I got me some help.’ The brothers shrugged and carried on their way while Arty trailed behind. The two brothers had decided to climb the tower behind the fire station the men practiced on so they crept round the back of the building. Arty had begun to feel the effect of the drugs and was swaggering about and shouting obscenities while the two brothers tried to pretend he wasn’t with them.‘Shut the hell up’ shouted Scott in a sort of subdued way ‘Doya want to tell the whole world we’re‘ere?’‘Haha don’t give a monkey’s’ yelled Arty. At the back of the fire station they stood trying to figure out a way of getting to the ladders while Arty carried on messing about trying to climb up poles.‘Get bloody down off them’ yelled Scott. Arty did get down off the pole but not in a way anyone imagined as he fell in a heap on the ground gasping for breath. Suddenly a voice came from a window in the fire station‘You lot – what the devil’s going on?’ The brothers tried to run down the side of the building but simply landed in the arms of two firemen who held them while another ran to the prostrate Arty.‘What’s happened here then?’ they were asked but, of course, neither of them knew. Police and ambulance were called while Scott and Danny were kept there until the police had found out where they lived and put them in separate cars to take them home. Their Dad was furious – more at the police cars outside than the boys. The hospital quickly found out what Arty had taken due to the second ‘sweetie’ being in his pocket but he had lapsed into a coma by then. His Mum was told that there was nothing they could do but monitor Arty’s signs on the life support machine and wait. They could do no more until the remaining drug came back from the lab. Sadly, it would to be too late for Arty by then. The police eventually got a description of the dealer from Scott and Danny as well as a few of the other kids. An unmarked police car was placed in the road outside the school until he turned up again when officers then chased him down the road until one of them rugby tackled him to the ground but not before the stash and cash had been dumped. It all went down a drain leaving only a few coins to roll across the pavement. The dealer was arrested and charged but none of this did any good for Arty lying in the mortuary. The next day Joel and his Mum came to meet his brother at the high school so they could all go to their Gran’s. Joel was skipping along beside his Mum when he suddenly tugged her hand and pulled her towards the school railings. ‘LookMum’ he shouted there’s a pound coin, just there see.’‘So there is’ replied Mum ‘ You lost one and now you’ve found one!’ Joel picked it up but couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw the small nick in the side.‘It’s the same one – the one I lost’ he said jumping up and down.‘So it is’ his Mum said.‘This time you can take it the bank for your savings so it won’t get lost again!’ A few days later Joel’s Mum took him to the bank when but, when he handed over his book with the pound the cashier asked him to just wait a minute and disappeared into an office. When he returned he looked rather glum as he told Joel ‘Sorry son I’m afraid your coin is a fake – not worth anything at all.’
AN INTERESTING DAY OUT
Tamsin loved the days when she had time to browse in her local library. Even picking up a book to examine the cover and slowly turn a few pages gave her a thrill but, when she managed to find one by her favourite author that was the icing on the cake. Poetry was one of the things she liked most so she wandered over to the prose section and picked up a collection of the great Lord Byron’s creations. The book was obviously quite old so Tamsin savoured the feel of the leather binding and wafer thin pages. The book was nothing like any she had seen in the library before so she wondered why she hadn’t noticed on the shelves during her previous visits.
She had only turned a page or two when a young man approached and commented on her good taste.’She walks in beauty like the night, of cloudless climes and starry skies, and all that’s best of dark and bright, meet in her aspect and her eyes’ he quoted so beautifully and with such feeling that Tamsin became a little light headed. She couldn’t help notice a slight musty smell emanating from the young man’s clothes but just thought that wasn’t unusual given the conditions impoverished, as that what she took him to be, lived in these days. She imagined him in some damp attic six floors up in a gothic house writing his own poetry just as beautiful as the great bard himself. His clothes were also rather eccentric too so maybe the linen shirt and silk cravat had been sourced in a local, rather damp, charity shop. She loved the look he had created anyway and his voice was so lyrical that it seemed to transport her to another world full of roses and butterflies.
When the young man asked if she would like to take walk with him she had no hesitation and followed him in the style of an adoring puppy with a slightly unsteady gait. The rather unmatched pair strolled down the busy high street with Tamsin still hanging on the young man’s every word. The way he spoke coupled with his classic good looks and entrancing if somewhat dark personality made it impossible to turn away even for a second. Eventually, Tamsin plucked up the courage to ask if he would care for a coffee at a rather twee cafe with the usual tables outside under a bright awning. After a slight hesitation the young man agreed and the pair sat down at a table with just two chairs – chosen by Tamsin as she had no intention of sharing him with anyone else.
After a few moments a waiter appeared and asked in rather broken English what they would like. Tamsin read the choice from the menu but this just seemed to confuse her escort so she just ordered two cappuccinos. The waiter seemed rather puzzled by her request and questioned whether she really said two which Tamsin quickly confirmed putting the confusion down to the waiter’s lack of understanding due to the slight language barrier. The waiter left and the pair sank back into their conversation of prose and poets of the nineteenth century. The young man’s knowledge of anything written later seemed lacking but Tamsin was quite happy to stick to what he was comfortable with as she was thoroughly enjoying listening to the young man’s lyrical quotes.
The waiter reappeared with their beverages and, after some hesitation, managed to put them down in the correct places on the table. Tamsin sipped hers as delicately as she could, longing to spoon the chocolate sprinkled froth into her mouth but not daring to in front of her new beau who seemed happier to continue their prose like conversation rather than drink his coffee. Suddenly, a baseball capped youth ran past their table making a reach for Tamsin’s bag as he did so causing her to make a grab for the bag just managing to save it by hanging on to the bag leaving the youth running down the street with nothing more valuable than a broken strap! The only casualty was the young man’s coffee which the youth had managed to knock to the ground breaking the fancy cup in the process.
Naturally, Tamsin was rather shaken by this incident so, when her friend made no move to attempt to settle the bill, she went into the cafe clutching her now broken bag to pay for the coffees. One of the waitresses had seen what had happened and graciously asked if Tamsin was alright. She was only a little shaken but was rather taken aback when the waitress then commented that it probably wouldn’t have happened if she had been sitting with another person. However, she just wanted to get away from the scene of the crime, so to speak, so assured the waitress she was fine and made her way back to the street where the young man was waiting for her. He didn’t seem very concerned over the attempted bag snatch but Tamsin put that down to his demeanour which seemed not to address the real world in hardly any sense at all.
The pair walked on until they came to an old overgrown cemetery which had always intrigued Tamsin and she had heard that you could actually get a guided tour of the graves of the great and famous who were buried there. The young man paused and looked at the great iron gate which formed the entrance and she wondered whether he had the same idea and would like to accompany on a tour one day. She was just about to ask when her mobile phone demanded her attention making her fish in her bag which was now rather a chore without it’s strap so she turned her back on the young man to try to disguise her frantic rummaging. She would have ignored it but she had made a tentative arrangement to meet her best friend for lunch so thought she had better make her excuses so that she could stay with her present companion. She kept her conversation as short as possible frantically inventing excuses that sounded almost plausible and ended the call. However, when she turned back to face the cemetery gate there was no sign of the entrancing young man!
More than slightly miffed at his sudden disappearance she stood looking up, down and across the road thinking he must have wandered away so as not to appear as if he was eavesdropping on her call but there was no sign of him anywhere. An older, somewhat scruffily dressed, man then stopped at the gate and appeared to be checking the large lock on the gate which Tamsin had only just noticed.’Got to watch out nothing’s broken’ he said looking askance at her almost as if she may have tried to get into the cemetery’Stuff’s vandalised on almost a daily basis these days you know’. Tamsin didn’t – that sort of thing just wasn’t part of her world. ‘If you want to go on a tour the number’s over there on the board’ the man went on ‘Very interesting it is with all the fancy graves. Even Byron’s buried in there!’
The Fairies Revenge!
Squiggly and Wriggly the pixie twins were on their way to visit their friends in the Fairy Glen on a magical island guided only by the stars. They were so happy with their pixie walking clogs in such a bright red that they glowed in the moonlight. They had their tiny walking sticks made from deer antlers and their Harris Tweed cloaks, cobbled from pieces they found in the bin behind weaver’s house, wrapped tightly round them.’How much further is it?’ asked Squiggly”We should be there just before Mother Moon has risen’ replied Wriggly shouting above the noise of the wind that bounced around them from the sea. ‘I’m getting very tired’ Squiggly shouted back.’Don’t worry brother – we shall sleep in the shelter of the glen then seek out our friends when the sun rises’. The moon was indeed beginning to rise when the twins arrived in the glen so they found shelter and lit a little fire to heat some pixie soup. The soup warmed them so well that they soon fell into a deep sleep before Mother Moon had risen completely. They slept curled up together as they had since they were born so never heard the faun that came to watch over them or the curious fox who came to investigate the new scent in the glen. They had never been apart for a moment in all their lives which spanned over a hundred pixie years.
The twins awoke as the sun crept over the glen and a vivid rainbow appeared over the sea reflecting all its colours on the waves. As they yawned and rubbed their eyes the fawn silently crept away to his den in the trees at the edge of the glen. The little fire was brought back to life so the twins could have their pixie tea with a biscuit or two stolen from the goblins. Suddenly a glow appeared from behind a large rock ‘Look’shouted Wriggly’ourfairy friends are waking – let’s tell them we are here’. The three fairies Tippitoe, Slipalong and Corralie, were taking their early morning flight around the glen to make sure all was well and soon saw their pixie friends.’Oh we are soooh glad to see you’ declared Tippitoe ‘Did you have a good journey?’ The twins were glad to see their friends but were momentarily distracted by the sight of the glen.‘What has happened here?’ asked an astonished Wriggly.’We don’t really know’ replied Slipalong a lone tear sliding down her cheek ‘So many humans have been here this green time the glen seems to have changed so much we hardly recognise our home anymore!’ Squiggly and Wriggly could hardly believe their eyes as they looked around at the weirdly balanced piles of stones ripped from walls, remains of fires made from branches torn from trees, piles of peculiar ‘humanstuff’ with round things that glinted gold and pools of mud where there was once green grass. Tippitoe took off in flight shining her fairy lights on the various forms of devastation but, she flew too close to a stack of stones and dislodged the stone at the very top. It wouldn’t have been a great calamity but, the stone rolled towards Corrallie knocking her to the ground and trapping her by her wing which broke with a loud snap! The little group of friends rushed to the tragic fairy but there was clearly nothing they could do.’Oh Corralie’ exclaimed Tippitoe with a catch in her throat ‘Iam so sorry – what are we to do?’ Slipalong decided to take charge and flew off to raise the faun who would surely be able to lift the stone. Corralie was in great pain and could only whisper a faint ‘Helpme’.
The faun arrived and managed to lift the offending stone from the crumpled wing which would clearly need a replenishing spell from the Fairy Queen. So the little group of pixies, fairies and the faun gently lifted Corrallie to her feet while discussing how they could get the Fairy Queen to help.’The only way is to go to the Fairy Bridge and cast a spell to summon her’ declared Tippitoe with some trepidation as she knew they would have to get Corralie there somehow. Corralie was in no state to contribute to any solution so Slipalong decided the two fairies would have to fly over the loch holding Corralie between them. Tippitoe agreed although it would be an arduous journey it was their only option.’You two can stay here in the glen to keep an eye on things’ she told the pixies’ the faun will help.’ There was no time to waste so Tippitoe and Slipaong took hold of Corralie’s hands and flew gingerly off across the water.The journey was exhausting but at last the trio made it to the Fairy Bridge to set about summoning Essamae the Fairy Queen. The only trouble was that there was a large tin box on wheels inhabited by some noisy humans right beside the bridge so they knew that Essamae would not agree to appear while that was there.’We’ll have to hide under the bridge’ advised Tippitoe ‘we just can’t risk being seen by the humans!’ ‘But it’s cold and wet’ argued Corralie with as much strength as she could muster.’ There’s nothing else for it my dear – come hold on to us as we slip down the bank.’
It was indeed cold and wet but a friendly sheep appeared with some loose wool which she shook off for the fairies to wrap themselves in. At one point the humans came down to the stream near the bridge and poured some foul smelling liquid into the water causing the fairies to almost faint but they managed to stay alert somehow huddling closely in the fleece so were never seen. Shortly after this incident the big tin box made a roaring noise and disappeared leaving behind a cloud of dingy smoke. The two able fairies then cast their spell to summon the Fairy Queen hoping upon hope that she would come to their aid soon as Corralie was becoming weaker by the minute. At that moment a faun with a glistening snow white coat that shone like diamonds appeared out of the mist surprising the now rather damp fairies. The faun told them Essamae would come as soon as she had finished dealing with a kingfisher caught up in some human plastic rubbish which would die if not freed. Tippitoe conveyed her best wishes to the faun, told him to make sure the queen knew of their plight and how grateful they would be if she came as soon as she could. The faun nodded causing little droplets of sparkling rain to fly from his coat like crystals before hurrying away back to the queen.
Soon Essamae appeared in her flowing golden coat carrying the Fairy Flag – a symbol of her ultimate power – accompanied by several lightning strikes which caused the wee fairies to quake in their tiny pointed shoes. The sparkling white faun hovered in the background keeping a lookout all the time.’Behold- I am come’ the Queen announced’ tellme quickly why I am summoned.’ Tippitoe managed to help Corralie towards the fearsome queen so her injury could be seen.’What caused this?’ Essamae bellowed. Tippitoe explained how the wing had been broken.’Iwill not tolerate this interference by humans’ uttered the Queen with clenched fists ‘I will deal with it once and for all!’ With that she pointed her golden wand at Corralie’s wing, which, with a flash, was healed. She then muttered some words that the fairies ears could not decipher and told them to go on their way before disappearing accompanied by so loud a clap of thunder that the earth shook. The fairies were so glad to see Corralie was recovered that they did a little fairy dance before setting off home.’What did she do?’ asked Corralie’ She fixed your wing’ replied Slipalong’ but there was something else as well which I was unable to hear. So we’ll have to wait and see.’ They returned home at last to find the twins and the fawn had prepared a feast which they all ate under the stars along with a celebratory goblet or two of pixie wine. The fairy trio were very grateful but were so exhausted they bid everyone goodnight and retired to their fairy house as soon as they had eaten. The next morning the group ate their breakfast at sunrise but, as it was a beautiful day, the hordes of humans soon arrived to explore the glen so the little group decided to hide from view in a hole under a rock. As they watched the human antics they were surprised to see that the stones pulled down became heavier the further they were taken from the walls, the branches on the trees flailed around if anyone tried to tear them away slapping the human faces and the’offerings’they tried to leave simply flew up from the earth before they could be laid! The little group of fairies and pixies laughed so hard they were afraid they would be heard but the sound was never meant for human ears just as their beautiful glen was never meant to be spoilt by the actions of mere mortals!
The new houses, with their neat red bricks edged in white and windows that glinted in the winter sunshine, were all ready for their new owners to move into. The estate was still subject to some controversy as opinion was divided as to whether they were actually within the boundary of the ancient, much revered battlefield, or just beyond the lines defined by the historical society some years ago. Of course, all the folk who had bought the houses thought it was a wonderful place to love so were eager to move in – despite the protests the building had evoked. The local police had long since dealt with the flag waving zealots that had regularly appeared during the ground preparation and beyond.
Ceitidh was particularly looking forward to moving out of her apartment in the city and into the show house which was tastefully decorated and even part furnished as well as coming in at a greatly reduced price. She loved the way it had been finished and couldn’t believe how similar it was to her own taste. All she needed was some matching bedlinen and a few other accessories to achieve absolute perfection. Now the day had finally come. She had hired a van and her brother, Cameron was helping her with the move. Ceitidh already had her beloved black cat, Hannibal, aptly named for his love of catching and eating dead things, into a basket despite his protests.‘Itwill be alright darling’ Ceitidh said, trying in vain to stop the howling and spitting coming from deep within the confines of Hannibal’s temporary prison.‘You’ll love it there with so much room to roam.’
‘Come on Ceit ‘ Cameron shouted from the roadside‘Ithought you were in a hurry to get there?’“I’m coming now – just trying to get Hannibal settled’ answered Ceitidh while taking a last look round the cramped abode in case he had missed anything.‘Wretched creature‘mutteredCameron under his breath ‘should leave the damn thing behind. Got the keys?’ ‘Yep got everything Cam – we’re coming out now.’They both piled into the van – Ceit more carefully with the still howling basket in hand.‘Can’tthat thing go in the back’ Cameron complained.‘Certainlynot’ Ceit almost shouted.“Anywayyou’ve closed it up now so he’ll just have to sit on my lap!’‘Rather you than me’ Cameron mused.
It didn’t take them long to arrive and unload the van so Cameron wandered off to have a look round the house as well as outside. He was actually one of the doubters as to whether the houses should have been built here at all but had never mentioned this to his sister as he didn’t want to burst her bubble. He had just finished his tour of the small garden and was staring out at the view of the battlefield when Ceitidh called him to get some home made soup which she had brought with her.‘What were you doing out there?’ Ceitidh asked.‘Lookingfor ghosts.’ Cameron replied almost as if he was somewhere far away. His sister laughed – as if there were such things she thought!
When Cameron left he hugged his sister as if he really didn’t want to leave her alone there.‘You’llbe OK won’t you little sis – you know I love you even though I don’t always show it.’ ‘Of course I will – don’t be so daft. I love this house and this place.’She had tidied up and put away most of the stuff brought from her old home which took her a while as it was surprising how you looked at things as if you had never seen them before when you delved into the boxes. Hannibal wasn’t allowed out which caused much disgruntled howling but Ceitidh wanted him to stay in until he was more used to the place in case he tried to make his way back to his old home. She finally fell into her new king size bed and slept like a log until the chirruping of the birds woke her in the morning.
She took her time making coffee in the cafetiere while wandering around her new home and admiring the view out of the huge windows. Suddenly she saw a movement in the garden of the next house so quickly dodged back from the window in case anyone saw her in her pyjamas. She hid behind the curtains to get a good look at the man there who, rather surprisingly, was dressed in a kilt! Unable to hide her curiosity for long she ran upstairs to get dressed and took her coffee out into her front garden.‘Good Morning’ Ceitidh called to her new neighbour.‘Oh hello there – how are you doing?’ came the friendly reply.‘I’m Ceitidh – pleased to meet you’ she replied. “Fergus MacKenzie – I presume we are neighbours?’ ‘Yes’ answered Ceitidh rather guardedly – she had only just met this man after all. ‘Imoved in yesterday – my brother helped me.’ ‘I saw you but didn’t have time to come to say hello then as I was revising my battle strategy for the reenactment on Saturday.’ Ceitidh must have looked puzzled as Fergus went on to explain that he was part of a society that dramatised various Scottish battles.‘Howinteresting’ Ceitidh enthused‘Iwrite historical novels!’ ‘We must have a good old chat sometime then but I must dash now as I’ve a battle to get to. Cheery for now lass.’ With that Fergus disappeared into his new house leaving Ceitidh to look out over the battlefield and wonder what the reenactments were like. She had never thought of studying battles in her research but imagined that Fergus could be a good source of information if she ever needed it.
The following day Ceitidh decided she would pop down to the retail park for some supplies and to look in the home store to see if there were any tempting knick knacks. She hadn’t seen Fergus for a few days so was surprised to see him over on the battlefield dressed in all his gear leaning on a huge claymore ‘Hi Fergus’ she called and when she didn’t get a reply just assumed he hadn’t heard her so carried on getting in to her car. As she drove away she glanced across to where she’d seen Fergus and was surprised to see a few other men dressed the same but just presumed they must be practising for their display. She thought no more of it until she returned from her shopping trip and caught a glance of two of the soldiers through her front window!‘What the hell’ she thought ‘how on earth did they get in there?’ Furious at their cheek Ceitidh leapt out of her car and dashed to the front door – keys at the ready never giving a thought to the fact that the house was locked securely when she left it.
Upon opening the door she shouted ‘ What the devil do you think you’re doing in here and how did you get in anyway?’ But her anger only fell on the emptiness of her bright new lounge. Ceitidh was rooted to the spot in the doorway leading from the hall – she needed to search the rest of the house but couldn’t get her legs to move. Eventually she recovered enough to get through to the kitchen where she found Hannibal cowering in the gap left for the washing machine.‘Oh baby’ she cooed as she reached in to rescue the frightened creature but her tenderness was rewarded with an angry growl and a swipe with a paw that drew blood from her hand!‘You naughty boy’ Ceitidh countered as she rushed to the sink to bathe the deep scratch‘thathurt!’
Her anger at the cat had urged her into having a look round the house to make sure nothing was stolen or broken by the two men she had seen‘Surely they couldn’t be friends of her new neighbour – I’ll have to have a few words with him’ she said out loud. As she went through the bedrooms and upstairs bathroom she became more and more bewildered as there was nowhere two large men could have hidden – she didn’t even have a wardrobe yet and there was only a small shower room next to the kitchen and a cupboard under the stairs on the ground floor. It was also a mystery that both the front and back doors as well as the french windows were still locked and none showed any signs of a break in. Ceitidh thought about it but decided she couldn’t call the police as nothing seemed to have happened apart from her thinking she had seen two soldiers from a bygone age in her lounge through the window! Then she had a thought, maybe they were on the battlefield near to where she had seen Fergus when she left and it was a reflection she saw – that must be it she reassured herself.
The rest of the week passed without any more sightings of soldiers or anything else in the house except a cat that seemed to walk sideways everywhere with it’s hackles up most of the time. Ceitidh just put this down to one of Hannibal’s moods caused by having to leave his once familiar surroundings. She spent the time rearranging her bedrooms several times so that her study would be in exactly the right location for her to carry on with her writing. She had an idea for a new book and had made some tentative notes but knew everything had to be right for her ideas to really start flowing. After nearly a week had passed she decided it was time to let Hannibal out to explore his new surroundings so she opened the back door for him and unlocked the cat flap she’d had fitted so he could come and go as he pleased. He seemed rather reluctant to go out at first but he went eventually and Ceitidh made a cup of coffee and sat in the kitchen with her notebook to wait for the cat to return. She had made a few notes for some chapters when the rattle of the cat flap announced her pets return but was surprised to see the cat make a dash for the space in the units again and crouch in the corner issuing an angry snarl as it went.‘Not again’ Ceitidh muttered in the vague direction of the snarling ball of black fur but just assumed Hannibal had met another cat outside and lost the scrap for territory. After the last occurrence she decided to just leave the cat where it was until it got over the presumed skirmish.
Over the next few days the cat got used to the cat flap and it’s new home so came and went as it pleased not showing any of the distress it had a few days before. Ceitidh breathed a sigh of relief and settled into a routine of shopping, tidying and writing more notes for her book. The various engineers came to install the landline, internet connection and satellite dish for her new smart television so all was well, except for Ceitidh still puzzling over her two strange visitors from time to time. However, all too soon her cosy new world fell apart when she came home to find Hannibal by the back door with his head almost severed from his black body! Ceitidh screamed but was in the grip of such horror that she didn’t know what to do. She hadn’t seen Fergus for a few days now but went to knock on his door – there was no reply and the house the other side was still empty. Through her panic and tears she managed to call the police who informed her they would get someone to see her as soon as they could but it might not be for a day or two. She then phoned the vet to tell them what had happened and was told all they could do was to dispose of the cat’s body if she needed them to.
Ceitidh was so upset she didn’t want to be in the house so decided to stand outside and use her mobile to call Cameron. He would know what to do. As she was dialling her brother’s number she saw Fergus running towards the house still in his battle gear and, as he got nearer, she was horrified to see his face was covered in blood which seemed to be coming from a large wound near his right temple! ‘Fergus’she called ‘ what on earth has happened?’ Fergus just kept on running his breath coming in short, distressed gasps as if the air would run out of him altogether at any moment. A few seconds later a group of four soldiers came running in the same direction but these were different – different uniforms and English accents could be heard as they shouted at each other. By now Ceitidh was quite scared -‘If this is a reenactment she thought – I never want to see one!’ So horribly realistic was the scene she had witnessed. When she managed to get through to Cameron she was in such a state that he could hardly understand what she was saying so just assured her he’d come over straight away.
Her brother got Ceitidh back into the house, moved the unfortunate cat’s body, wrapped it in an old towel he had in his car and put the kettle on.‘Perhaps a wee dram would be in order sis? Come on try to tell me exactly what’s been going on.’ Ceitidh couldn’t really – not in a way that made any sense. Soldiers in the house and then running up the road all bloodied and breathless with a group of enemies in pursuit and on top of all this an almost headless cat!‘You’ve been researching your book too much’ suggested Cameron – it was the only thing he could think of to say‘Had you been looking in to a battle of some sort?’‘Not at all’ answered a bewildered Ceitidh ‘ I’m working on the clearances for my next book and that was a completely different period.’ She told Cameron about Fergus, her neighbour, and thought it was something to do with his practising for the battle reenactments.‘Well he bloody ought to be more careful, och – excuse the pun’ her brother looked at her from under his eyebrows trying to lighten the mood a bit ‘ not to upset folk who don’t know what’s going on!’‘I’m sure he doesn’t mean to’ Ceitidh replied ‘ I just didn’t realise it was so realistic that’s all.’ Come on’ Cameron suggested ‘let’s go out for a wee drink in the pub down the road then I’ll bury your poor cat for you in the back garden.’
It took a while for Ceitidh to get over the events of the last week and she couldn’t concentrate on her writing at all. The crescent of houses had been very quiet which wasn’t surprising as not many of the occupants had moved in yet and the ones that had were at the other end so not really neighbours to speak to. She had seen one lady walking a small dog come past her house on the way to walk on the battlefield but that was all. So she was quite glad, although a bit nervous, when she saw Fergus in his front garden again especially when she saw he was dressed in jeans and an oversized sweater. She took a deep breath and went out to say hello.‘Ah there you are’ Fergus called over ‘ How’s everything been going – are you settled in yet?’ Ceitidh didn’t know what to say so was glad when he carried on‘I’mglad to be back so I can get on with getting everything sorted. Spain’s nice but I miss my homeland.’ Ceitidh’s mouth dropped open at this point and she felt quite dizzy.‘My sister lives there you know so I get over there a few times a year. It was a bit awkward for these last couple of weeks with me just moving here and all but she’d had a wee stroke so I had to go.’ ‘So you haven’t been here at all since we last spoke?’ Ceitidh asked clutching a fence post to stop her falling.‘And would there have been anyone else practising reenactments here?’No lass’ came the dreaded reply ‘ I left almost straight after then as soon as I got the news about my sister. Was lucky to get a flight that day I can tell you! The only reenactments here are organised by me so no one else would have been doing them. Why do you ask?’ Ceitidh couldn’t answer – she could only gasp as she dropped to her knees and fainted!
Mavis and Harry had always had a tempestuous relationship which had become worse over the years and had now reached crisis point.‘If she tuts at me one more time I won’t be responsible for my actions’ thought Harry as his shrew of a wife bustled about the shiny new kitchen that he had had fitted in a feeble attempt to shut her up.‘I shall be glad when I get that new shed finished in the garden with it’s own electricity so that I can hide away from her all day every day.’ ‘I suppose you’ll be working on that damned shed’ yelled Mavis in her usual condescending tone almost as if she had read his thoughts. ‘Whycan’t you just do something useful in the house?’ ‘There’s not much more I can do in here my dear. You’ve got your new kitchen and we’re waiting for the plumber to finish the bathroom before I can decorate it.’‘Always some excuse’Mavis shouted back ‘Useless as a chocolate fireguard you are Harry!’
Harry knew there’s was no point in continuing the argument – Mavis was always right even when she was wrong – especially since their lottery win. He wouldn’t have minded but he had bought the ticket and it was just unfortunate that Mavis’s bingo pal had been in the shop when he went in to have it checked. Mr Patel was so pleased with Harry’s win, as he would get some money himself, that he shouted out at the top of his voice how much the ticket was worth! ‘No escape now’ thought Harry as his vision of a new life on his own vanished into the ether. He couldn’t even keep a bit back for himself now that the amount had been shouted out to all and sundry in the shop.
He had had quite enough of Mavis and her evil jibes so he opened the French windows and stepped out into the relative peace of the garden. His mate, Dave, had brought his digger to make the hole ready for the concrete which would form the base for his new shed so Harry busied himself with tidying up the edges while he waited for the concrete mixer to arrive. However, his peace wasn’t to last long as Mavis appeared and shouted at him in her usual short tempered fashion ‘If you’re going to hang about out there you can get the washing in’! He turned and almost plucked up the courage to tell her to get it in herself when the washing basket was dropped with a loud plop onto the patio followed by the french window being slammed shut with such force he was afraid the glass would shatter. ‘Oh well, just the usual day’ he muttered under his breath wondering all the time just how much more he could stand.
Harry didn’t have to wonder long as the next day Mavis insisted on going to the golf club for lunch in their brand new Range Rover. His fears about such an event was realised as Mavis nagged him about his driving then about the way he behaved at lunch which resulted in a huge row rearing it’s ugly head as soon as they arrived back home.‘Fancy you managing to use the wrong knife for the steak’ Mavis shrieked at him ‘then having the nerve to say it was tough. I could have died!’ ‘A pity you didn’t’ Harry replied while clenching his fists behind his back.“What did you just say’ Mavis spat back at him.‘You’ve caused nothing but trouble since we won that money with your common ways. I’m ashamed to be seen anywhere decent with you!’ ‘And you think you’re any better yelling like a fish wife all the time?’ That did it – Mavis picked up the nearest object which happened to be a heavy glass paperweight and threw it. The ornament missed Harry and hit the large, new art deco mirror sending shards of glass onto the new marble fireplace.‘Now look what you’ve made me do’ she yelled as she ran towards Harry. Mavis never made it to her cowering husband as she tripped on the new zebra skin rug and hurtled towards the marble fireplace landing in a heap with a large shard of glass through her right eye. Mavis would shout no more. It took Harry a few moments to realise that all his dreams had come true and a few more minutes to figure out what to do. It never occurred to him to call the police and he knew it was far too late to bother the good folk of the ambulance service. All he could think about was how to get rid of the woman he had hated for so long so he wrapped her lifeless form in the now blood soaked zebra skin rug and went to put the kettle on. He made a cup of tea and revelled in the fact that he could have as many biscuits as he liked while he polished off a whole packet of custard creams.
Harry was deep in thought about how he could get his wife’s body out of the house and into that hole in the garden when a figure appeared at the kitchen window making him jump out of his skin until he realised it was only Dave bringing the concrete mixer.‘Can’t stop Harry’ Dave shouted ‘ Me mates helping and he’s got to get the truck back to his work. You can pay me another time.’ Harry breathed a sigh of relief as he waved them off not quite believing his luck that they didn’t want to hang about or come in the house. That evening he waited until the light was just about fading before heaving Mavis, still wrapped in the rug, into a wheelbarrow and tipping her into the hole. The concrete was glooping beautifully in the mixer as he let it pour over the body in the awful rug when suddenly the machine stopped. ‘What on earth’s wrong with the wretched thing’ Harry wailed through his panic as he went over to peer into the mixer in an attempt to see what had happened to make it stop. He tried prodding the mulch with a spade to see if he could loosen it but he couldn’t quite reach so he went to fetch a pair of steps.
He fetched a bucket of water in case the mixture was too thick and gingerly carried it up the steps to pour it into the mixer. However, as he leant over to pour the water in the machine it shuddered then started up again making Harry loose his footing and slip into the bowl. He just managed to let out a piercing scream as the concrete and the blades span towards him!
THE LIGHT ON THE HILL
Judy looked out across the loch from her new, wee cottage in the Highlands. She was glad to be out of her job and out of the city both of which seemed to hold sinister threats for her. All that’s behind me now she thought – time to revel in a peaceful life full of long walks with the dog in the hills and reading books she had always meant to but never quite managed it. No more messing about with computer technology trying to find people who’s main aim in life was to remain hidden!
She yawned and thought about going back to bed for a while as somehow the very stillness of her new home by the water was so peaceful that she had begun to be troubled by sleepless nights. She was used to the noises created by a bustling city that complete silence must be disturbing her subconcious.‘How strange ‘ she murmured to herself ‘You would have thought it would be just the opposite. I guess I’ll get used it before too long.’
After several weeks she still found herself waking at 4am even though the clocks had gone back by then so it was still completely dark at that time in the morning. She had got into the habit of going downstairs to make a cup of tea and let the dog out before going back to bed hoping to catch a couple more hours of sleep. An old shoulder injury was troubling her lately so she grabbed some painkillers to take with her tea. Just as she turned out the kitchen light she thought she saw something on the hill across the loch – a light! How odd she thought – there’s nothing up there but a few bushes and a bit of heather. Fascinated she stood and watched as the light bobbed about in a zig zag fashion sometimes disappearing then reappearing a bit further down the hill. Judy almost laughed as she thought about her time in work where she had to investigate strange goings on such as this and almost wished she could drum up a covert team to look into it. She stood perfectly still, transfixed as the light weaved its way down to the shoreline before disappearing altogether. She waited a few minutes but no boat appeared so it was a complete mystery where the person – she was sure someone must have been carrying the light – could have gone. The hill was now in complete darkness so the only explanations were that that whoever it was had either turned the light off and remained motionless in the dark or had been carried away in a silent craft showing no lights.
Puzzled, but not troubled as she would have been in her old life, Judy went back to bed to enjoy her cuppa and a couple of chapters of her book. She managed a little more sleep until she was awaked by the phone ringing. She reached out to answer and thought it would be one of the few friends who had her new number calling to see how her retirement was going but there was only silence! Must have just been a wrong number she thought but when the same thing happened several times in the next few days she began to find the calls a little unsettling. She awoke at 4am almost every day now and had almost become accustomed to seeing the light on the hill but when it became brighter seeming to shine straight across to her cottage it became rather sinister. It must be creelers she thought – mustn’t it?
It was the following Thursday when the submarine appeared in the still waters of the loch silently creeping along like some prehistoric sea creature and reappeared every few days after that. Judy had heard that naval exercises were reasonably common in the area as the loch was supposedly very deep but she never expected to see them so often. Several men appeared on the turret with binoculars on a few occasions so she decided it was time to stay indoors with the curtains closed. She thought of calling her old boss but had been told not to contact anyone in her old job under any circumstances. They changed their numbers almost as often as they changed ther underwear anyway. Surely no one could find me here with my new identity in such a remote place she thought as she frantically tried to reassure herself.
She knew she was wrong when she saw the submarine settled in the dark water directly opposite her cottage when she dared to open the curtains one icy morning. It was almost no real surprise when three shadowy men in wetsuits moored a dinghy at the shoreline and walked purposefully up to Judy’s gate.
The Super Recogniser!
Once the case was over Suzy knew she could never go back. She was sorry to leave her friends and everything else behind but, there really was no alternative. The police officers in the witness protection unit had been so kind and helpful making it as easy as posible for her to adjust to a new life. Even her new name was difficult to get used to. She had been Suzy Gray for twenty five years and her brain seemed to keep whispering “Suzy, Suzy’ over and over again as if to taunt her into disbelief she could be anyone else. ‘I just can’t change’ she thought but, she knew she had to or else put herself into grave danger. Daniella Price, or Danny, as she preferred, was who she was now and forever.
She had just managed to speak with a slight Welsh accent to fit in with everyone in the small town in the valleys she had been relocated to and loved her job with the IT Forensic department at the Welsh Police Headquarters. This had saved her having to worry about references or explaining where she had worked before. Some people would have found spending hours looking through mobile phone or other records boring but, Danny loved searching for the tiny clues that would help solve a case. It wasn’t that different to the work she had done before in the fraud department of a mobile phone company in London. She also loved liaising with other forensic experts and the ones that really amazed her were the so called Super Recognisers who could recognise a face in a crowd no matter how large. It was the evenings and her days off that she found particularly hard. She missed chatting on social media and often wondered how her old friends were doing. Her old accounts had been deleted so she felt awful about seeming to to just dump everybody she had ever known.
As the weeks wore on she found it harder and harder to stay away from any form of social media. The occasional night out at the local pubs or hotels with her new work colleagues were alright but, she had never been much of a drinker and she wanted to hang on to her recent weight loss. In any case she was always worried about letting something slip about her old life. The murder of her partner, Greg, had affected her so badly that she couldn’t eat at all for weeks and she had even turned to cigarettes again for a while even though she had given up smoking years ago. If only Greg hadn’t seen those drug dealers coming out of the house on their street with blood on their hands – if only he hadn’t agreed to work overtime that night. He shouldn’t have even been there at that time on that awful night!
For weeks afterwards Suzy had sensed there was something wrong in the way Greg was behaving but, had no idea Greg had been forced into delivering drugs by the dealers he had seen. They had promised him that it would only be one or two drops to ensure he kept quiet but, the whole thing had escalated until it was impossible for him to get away from his evil masters. Once they forced him to actually take the drugs things had gone downhill at an alarming rate finally culminating in his murder. Sadly, this happened the very night Suzy had decided to follow her beloved man. She had tried to hide from his killers but, the horror of the situation so overwhelmed her that she couldn’t suppress her cries. Only the sudden appearance of the armed police officers who had also been following Greg saved Suzy from the same fate!
In the desperate days following Greg’s death she had spent many hours trying to persuade the police that she didn’t need protecting as the gang had all been locked away for a very long time. However, she had to give in when she was assured that there were more gang members in hiding somewhere. So, here she was Danny Price, shut away in this small Welsh town with no friends who she could talk to about the terrible things she had gone through. Sometimes it even shocked her to look in the mirror with her new tattooed eyebrows and short cropped hair dyed to a dazzling white. She didn’t mind seeing her new trim figure but, wondered how long it would be before she reverted to her old chubby self. Never she hoped! She’d had her ears pierced too so she could wear those dangly earrings that she had always admired on other girls. Surely, it wouldn’t hurt to set up a new account on Facebook in a completely different name. After all who would know?
It only took a few hours for Jennifer Evans to appear on FaceBook with a new email address from a free site to complete the illusion. She found a couple of not too local bands and gained a few friends among their followers. ‘I don’t need to meet them or even tell them anything about me’ she thought. She watched a few clips of the bands on YouTube to give her something to comment on and began to enjoy her ‘cyber life’ . She found it quite amusing and giggled to herself about fooling the very people who were trying to fool everyone else about who she really was! She became quite fond of the bands and their music so decided she would risk going to see them live. She had stolen a photo of a random girl for her web profile so no one would even recognise her.
Danny got her chance when one of the bands announced they would be playing at a festival about a hundred and fifty miles away. ‘A bit of a trip’ she thought but, decided she could always stay over for a night or two. Best not to be too local anyway in case she bumped into anyone she worked with. She wasn’t going to arrive too early either so she could blend in with the crowd.
When she arrived at the festival site she wandered over to the stage her band were playing on and found them in the process of setting up. The fans were eating burgers, swigging cider and smoking a joint or two while they waited for the band to start playing. So Danny, AKA Jennifer, bought some chips then sat down on the edge of the crowd just far enough away for anyone to start up a conversation. It was quite hard to be three people she thought. However, it wasn’t too long before a couple sat down beside her and the usual comments about the band started. ‘Do ya know any of ’em’ the lad asked ‘only Tommy, the drummer, keeps looking over this way?’ ‘Surely we’re too far away for a person on the stage to recognise anyone’ Danny replied rather nervously. ‘Never know with ‘im’ the lad answered ‘in a world of ‘is own most of the time – bit of a dope head they say!’
Tommy finished setting up his kit and wandered back stage hoping someone had arrived to bring him a much needed fix before he hit the skins. He almost pounced on the tall skinny dealer that crept from behind the wings. ‘Got the gear bruv’ he almost slavered. ”Ere weren’t you involved in that gang that murdered that guy in London?’ The dealer grabbed Tommy by the front of his scruffy t-shirt almost lifting him off the ground and yelled ‘What of it scum’ right in Tommy’s face. ‘I’ve seen the bird’ Tommy gasped as he tried in vain to wriggle himself free. ‘What bird, where – how do ya know ya dirty piece of scum ‘ the dealer spat. Tommy cowered down as much as he could in the vice like grip he was held in as he replied ‘Sort of super thingie I’ve got – can’t help it. Dead useful sometimes if I want a bird – doesn’t matter how they dress and that – can recognise any I’ve had or fancied having before’.
A few minutes later Suzy, Jennifer and Danny felt a sense of dread as three burly men sat down around her and one whispered in her ear ‘Hello Suzy – nice to see you again!’