Sunday, 23 September 2012

SILHOUETTES - Seventh instalment

SILHOUETTES - Seventh instalment - Chapters fourteen, fifteen, and sixteen.
For more information on this novel, click Here. Next instalment coming next week.


Debbie fell to the ground as a bald madman pushed her aside. She saw Jo lunge at him in retaliation as she fell. The back of her head cracked on contact with the concrete paving, she heard it clearly crack, her brain was leaking she knew, she felt numb, it was getting dark too early, and then the pain came.

Jo was swept aside unhurt and watched as the young man darted down the walkway, then across the road, dodging cars and buses, and up a side street and disappear. She turned to check on her friend.

'Are you alright, hen?' asked a woman, leaning over Debbie. 'How many fingers am I holding up?'

'Er, what' asked Debbie meekly, 'happened?' She tried to get upright, too quickly, turned white, and began to fall back again when Jo caught her with an arm around her shoulder.

'You'll be fine,' Jo said, 'took a knock on the head, so you'll be all right,' she smiled. 'Shame about the crack in the pavement.'

She got Debbie to her feet. A few people looked on in sympathy, asked if she was ok, then walked slowly away. A Siren was wailing in the distance, gaining volume as it drew closer.

'Who phoned a fucking ambulance?' said Debbie, coming fully aware now, and thinking it was not necessary to get carted off to hospital.

'I don't think it's for you, dear,' said a woman with a shopping bag, 'The old man over there, the one attacked by the mugger, collapsed. Heart attack, I think. That brave wee dog of his fought the attacker off, should get an award or something.'

'Are you fit, Debs?' Jo asked, checking the back of Debbie's head.

Debbie nodded.

'C'mon then,' she put an arm around her friend. 'Let's get the hell away before we get roped into giving statements and crap. There's a pub across the road.'


He heard the commotion before he seen it. A yapping dog, the flashing blue light of an ambulance, and a gathered crowd. Some indignant old man was ranting about his time in the war when he could legally shoot people for looting. The stench of something rotten came to him. Two girls walked past him, he nodded at the blonde, the one who walked her dog in the park every morning. The one with the drunk boyfriend he'd had a drink with this afternoon. She looked in distress.

Dave decided to lean against the railing and watch the commotion just ahead of him. The old man fell to his knees, clutching his arm. People gathered around him. The police had now arrived. Within a minute some constable was unreeling blue chequered crime scene tape and was winding it around railings and bins and trees in the vicinity. More police arrived, these were plain-clothed, so something of importance must have occurred. He wondered if he should retreat back to the Arches again, but curiosity got the better of him. One of the policemen approached him. He noticed the two girls had crossed the road now and were entering a bar. The old man up ahead had recovered enough to start ranting about the war. One of the plain-clothed officers was threatening to charge him with war crimes if he didn't shut up and let the ambulance crew look at him.

'Did you see anything?' asked a constable, notebook in his hand.

'Just heard the commotion. Whatever happened, did so before I came along,' said Dave. 'What did happen?'

'Can't discuss it,' said the constable, and shrugged. 'But I have to ask you to move on if you're not a witness.'

'Sure,' said Dave, and made to go. As he did so an unmarked van arrived and a forensic team in white overalls discharged themselves.

The old man was now on a stretcher and was being carried to the ambulance, all the while screaming about the war and Tiddles not being fed yet. Tiddles was apparently the name of the small dog now tied to the railing licking evidence from its back. One of the forensic team was trying to scrape some of this rancid looking evidence into a freezer bag and got nipped in the process.

'Dog's a vicious bastard,' said the constable to Dave as the forensic man cried out. 'We'll all need fucking tetanus jabs. Fuck knows what kind of crap that is on the dog and the pavement. Smells vile.'

Dave walked away and left them all to it. He crossed the road and walked towards the pub the two girls had entered.


The pub was quiet and Jo realised why when given the price for two double-brandies, but one was medicinal for Debbie, and as she knew her friend wouldn't drink alone, the other was a sympathy drink for herself. They sat at a table in the corner, Debbie was trying to disentangle her hair from bits of congealed blood. The wound didn't appear to be serious enough to merit more than a good clean with a disinfectant when she got back to the house. Her head was aching though.

'What just happened?' she asked Jo.

'I think we got in the way of a mugging, Debs, the creep that toppled you was mugging some pensioner, I think.'

'Was the pensioner alright?' she asked. 'Maybe we should have hung about and given a statement. I would know that bastard again if I saw him.'

'He'll be in the hospital by now,' said Jo, 'collapsed.'

'Aw, I feel bad now, what if he dies? I'll definitely have to go and give a statement.'
'Later,' said Jo, 'concentrate on calming down for now.'

'I am calm,' asserted Debbie, but she knew she was shaking as she said this. 'A couple of these and I'll be fine,' she took a good sip of brandy.

Dave was standing at the bar with the pint of lager he'd ordered, casually glancing around. He noticed the girls in the corner and was wondering how to make the approach when his temple began to tickle. He touched the chip, a screen of data appeared before him in a glowing green neon font as the rest of the environment turned shadowtype, colour faded to monochrome, and movement around him paled to intermittent scurries of shape in the corner of his eyes. A few seconds passed then everything returned to normal, but a worried frown creased his forehead and he was unsure how to proceed after the update of news he had just received.

The Agency had decided to send someone to replace him after all, and not just anyone, they were sending Amber, his younger sister. She would be arriving shortly. That was not all though, Amber was a designated MAD Agent, whereas he was only an Agent. That meant that there was progression in the game, an escalation of some sort he had missed. MAD Agents were only sent when killing or rendition may be a requirement. MAD was an acronym for Missions Attacking Dissent. He wasn't sure what was worse, the fact a MAD Agent was being sent, or the fact that the Agent was his sibling. The other data he had gleamed was just as worrying. How they knew it back home, when he hadn't realised it himself, but he had been discovered, and was in fact under surveillance. The jagged poor quality image attached to the report was low resolution, obviously taken from the air, by a black copter, or a satellite perhaps, but there was no mistaking the features of the weird looking bald man, he had seen him before, spoken to him before.

He asked the barman for a repeat of what the girls were drinking and ordered one for him, carried the drinks over and stood across from them.

'Hope I'm not intruding,' he said, sliding a drink over to each.

Jo's eyes lighted on him, she smiled. Debbie recognized him right away.

'The man in the park,' she said. 'I see you most mornings walking Bruno.'

'Yes,' said Dave, 'I walk there often. Pardon me, but you both seemed a bit upset, I noticed you from the bar.'

'We've just witnessed a mugging, Debs was injured,' said Jo.

'Nothing serious,' said Debbie, 'got knocked over is all.'

'Is all!' Jo looked at her friend, turned to Dave, 'she was battered to the ground, split her head open it did, blood gushing everywhere...'

'Don't exaggerate, Jo, a minor cut...'

'See,' Jo looked at Dave, 'she's in denial, obviously concussed.' She lifted her drink, 'I'm sure this will help me though. I'm a bit traumatised myself.'

Debbie saw right through the look on Jo's face. She was flirting again.

Dave decided to sit down, they both seemed agreeable. 'Anything I can do to help?' he asked. 'Do you know the mugger, have you seen him before?'

Next instalment coming soon...

Copyright © Stevie Mach 2012 All rights reserved

Friday, 7 September 2012

SILHOUETTES - Sixth instalment

SILHOUETTES - Sixth instalment - Chapters twelve and thirteen. For more information on this novel, click Here. Next instalment coming next week.

It was almost four in the afternoon when Dave left the bar. Ben was still drinking away, and he thought that maybe they had become friends, though he'd always been told to shy away from making such acquaintances. The office block across the road was in shadow, and unlit, and in a cold April late afternoon twilight it looked a ghastly haunted place. No light even from the reception, so either the fat controller had gone, or was saving the company money on the next power bill. 

He was happy, and slightly inebriated, and as he walked down the street, he found himself smiling unwittingly at people, some of whom, he believed, found this quite unsettling. He carried on down to the river, turned right, and made for the Arches below the railway bridge where his communication centre was stored. At the first arch, there was a computer store owned by the same person who rented out the Arch he had. He entered and found Bernie restocking some shelves. He arranged to end his lease at the end of the May and have the place empty by then. Bernie was pretty ambivalent about it. Dave supposed these kind of places were easy enough to rent out. 

Entering his own Arch, he surveyed his communications centre. It wasn't large, and as it was camouflaged as a standard blue Ford Sierra, it was a common enough sight on the roads, though being quite an old type, if he had been planning to keep it much longer, he would have had to upgrade it to a more recent model. 

The windows were all tinted black to hide the interior, and it was when the door was closed and the ignition turned on, that you knew this machine was a technological marvel. He climbed in and did so, the windscreen changed to a display of information and grids, a gentle hum of friendly static and vibration could be felt from within, though he knew on the exterior, the idling revs of a four stroke engine would be apparent. Constant updates of various news items from home scrolled down the left hand side of the screen. The oil wars in the east were still raging, and the new currency of a friendly Asian state was being propped up clandestinely. The Governor of some US state had been caught having orgy parties at his summer home by some beady eyed investigative reporter, though this was vehemently denied, and even if it were the case, the participating females were all of age and consented to anything that may have went on, if in fact it did so, though it did not. A picture of the aging politician with a group of scantily clad females was part of the article. He was dismayed to notice one of the females was Amber Reid, his younger sister. Reid was not her real name, just as Stuart wasn't his. He made a mental note to give her a call soon and try to get her out of the Agency. 

He switched from the news to the comms channel, nothing new for him there. The local, state, and world grids showed no anomalies or new persons or groups of interest in the vicinity. He reclined his chair and decided to have a nap until the booze had worn off. 


At five-thirty, Simon left for Grimeforth Street to recommence surveillance on Dave Stuart. He took a path that would go by the river and held under his arm another of the large coffee tins filled with the liquefied guts of Suzi. The voice process was ok, but he would like to eventually program his own words for her to respond with, and perhaps with a huskier, French accented, sexier voice. The metal rods and hinges he would make the framework to align with her limbs should arrive in the next day or two. Next month he would have the money to buy the servos and motors to power the frame. When he could purchase the controller for it all, was when he would be happy. That was when Suzi would come alive again. 

The trouble at this time of the day was people. Too many people were walking home from work, or the shops, and taking the route alongside the river. He could take a chance and just lob the tin over the railing and let it splash and sink and hope no one would notice, or if they did, consider it nothing but the foolish, though ineptly innocent, folly of some meandering youthful idiot with little in the way of morals regarding the disposing of rubbish. It was either that or carry the damn tin about with him all day. He should have brought his backpack and it would have squeezed in that and be carried with ease, but he never, and looking at his watch, it was too late to go back for it, or take the tin back and leave it for disposal at a later date. But there was nothing to gain by panic. 

He stood leaning over the railing at the edge of the walkway looking down at the slow moving water. A barge passed upriver, laden with some type of ore. The river was deep at this point, people had drowned here; drunken pranks ending in tragedy, or children playing dare that turned into death by misadventure, and one or two suicides came to mind. The water was slow, but deep, and the undercurrent was strong and would drag the unwary or unfit away and under in a matter of the blink of an eye whether the sun shone with calm serenity above or not.

A small white poodle began sniffing round about him, attached with a retractable lead to some elderly dog walker. The dog had sensed the contents of the tin and was taking an over keen interest in what it may have considered to be a tasty snack. It was when it jumped up on his trouser leg that he turned and kicked at the beast. The dog yelped in shock, then snarled at him and came at him again, this time with gusto, growling intent. The dog owner tried to reel it in, while also raising a walking stick in a threatening manner. 

'Bastard, you bastard,' he cried. 'Kick a defenceless animal, you!' 

Simon heard and felt his trouser leg tearing below the knee as the dog had a mouthful of the cheap cotton and refused to let go as he thrashed his leg about. There was a multitude of passers by now stopping to witness the affray. 

'Vicious Bastard!' cried the old man, his tartan bonnet falling from his head as he whacked Simon across the shoulder with his stick. Surprise and pain surged through him, the onlookers were gathering, he had to escape, but the dog would not relax its hold. He couldn't walk or run away, he couldn't shake free of the rabid beast, he did the only thing he could think of and held the large coffee tin in both hands and battered it over the head of the dog. The lid flew off as the tin bent on contact with the skull of the dog and a vile smell arose as the contents of the tin splashed out over the back of the animal, the pavement, and the feet of the old man. The dog let go, stunned. Simon threw the bashed tin over the railing into the river and ran. 

Next instalment coming soon...

Copyright © Stevie Mach 2012 All rights reserved