Sunday, 15 December 2013

Knowledge Under the Skin

Knowledge Under the Skin

What would happen if so much of the world’s knowledge was encoded onto a few cells of DNA, and that DNA was added or spliced with a normal person’s DNA along with the inherent instructions and commands for retrieving the data required at will? Could, one day, we have the ability to learn by internally accessing our own DNA, sequencing the information required and therefore bypassing the process of having to sit down in a classroom or read a book to learn? The stuff of science fiction at the moment, and me knowing practically nothing about how DNA works and how encoded data could be stored and retrieved virtually instantaneously makes it all seem a very distant dream, if it were ever to happen at all.

Imagine, knowing all the chemical elements without having to lift a book, or being capable of long division in your head without access to a calculator, learning a language, or perhaps something as artful of being able to lift a guitar, never having held one before, and playing a rift by Jimmy Hendrix note for note. What could one do when all the knowledge you may ever desire can be stored on a piece of DNA, and that DNA alongside your own with the instructions for access and retrieval stored within? How much knowledge is retainable, when just 4 grams of DNA can store all the knowledge humanity creates in a year?

Well, not all science is fiction, and science that was previously fiction, has a habit, over time, to become science fact, and whether you have trepidation of such things, or wonder at what impossibilities can be done with the advance of science, the one true fact is that the process is now underway, and the initial stages have begun, and have been proven to work.

"Researchers who have used the biomolecule to encode MP3s, text files, and JPEGs say it will be a competitive storage medium in just a few decades.
"Researchers at the European Bioinformatics Institute in Hinxton, U.K., have demonstrated a new method for reliably encoding several common computer file formats this way. As the price of sequencing and synthesizing DNA continues to drop, the researchers estimate, this biological storage medium will be competitive within the next few decades." (source)

So, it appears the fiction is rapidly becoming fact as far as storing data on DNA. The fact the information is on a piece of a biological entity, rather than saved on a roll of digital tape or a memory stick is by the by, the information is there and it is accessible, and as times passes, the process will become simpler, cheaper, and more reliable.  It was first proven by George Church and his colleagues at Harvard in 2012. Later, improved by researchers at the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI) in 2013, when appearing as a speck of dust, over five million bits of data, consisting of audio and text files, were successfully stored and retrieved. The information included 154 Shakespeare sonnets, Martin Luther King's 'I have a dream' speech, and a paper by James Watson and Francis Crick on the structure of DNA. More can be read here.

Of course, storing and retrieving data is one thing, replacing the micro SD card in your phone with a few grams of DNA isn’t all that ingenuous when to read and write and retrieve that data requires the hardware in the phone also for that precise task. What size may the phone be then? Perhaps not so mobile. But who knows what tomorrow will bring, and if the hardware for this data read write and retrieval can be shrunk to such a size as would be embeddable in a mobile phone without too much inconvenience in additional weight and size, how long after that before thoughts of skipping the stage of the mobile phone and somehow embedding both the data and retrieval methods within a body that could be more directly and instantaneously accessed by the brain.

Not many can earn the title the Human Computer, such as Shakuntala Devi, an Indian writer and mental calculator, but imagine having her genius at hand within yourself with a flip of a thought. What the human mind can accomplish alone, even with such talent, can be a mere drop in the ocean though, to what a compendium of knowledge accessible with the speed of a firing synapse could be. Imagine a group of already bright scientists working together then, what more knowledge and innovation would be possible? Is this the future, and how long will it take to get there? We can only wait and see. Perhaps tomorrow there will be no more exams, only a need to upgrade your DNA.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Scotland can find a new way

Scotland can find a new way – All of us first

Is it any coincidence that support for both Scottish independence and also 'The Common Weal' project are growing steadily? Not so when you look around at what is happening in Scottish society today.  Austerity, clampdowns on benefits for the low paid, the poor, the unemployed and disabled, the bedroom tax, the lack of any political opposition to the Tories - the Westminster policies of do-down the vulnerable and weak, reward the bankers and the rich, seem to instil nothing but complicity in the other main parties at Westminster.

The people of Scotland have a chance to escape Westminster greed, corruption, and rot next September, and with the ideas of the Common Weal Project gaining ground, a new political ideal could come to the foreground, paving the way to a better, more equal and fair society. The people of Scotland never voted for the Tories, the Labour party now seem to be more right wing than Thatcher ever was, the Libdems will lie and cheat to keep whatever little bit of power the Tories deem to allow them, and what is left, but UKIP and worse sitting on the fringes but gaining momentum in an unfair and unfit UK. Scotland can find a new way.

A COMMON WEAL FUTURE

"Common Weal is an old Scots phrase meaning both ‘wealth shared in common’ and ‘for the wellbeing of all’. We use it to describe a society that rejects 40 years of grasping, me-first politics, a survival-of-the-richest, winner-takes-all mentality which left us all in second place.

"A Common Weal future is one in which politics puts all of us first. It seeks to get us working together for the benefit of each other, not working against each other for the benefit of a few. It is a politics which believes that to build more we must share more, that if wealth and resource are hoarded by a few it stifles creativity and investment. It is a politics that celebrates and strengthens our welfare state and believes government should reflect the will of the people, not the will of the money markets.

"Every part of the Common Weal agenda has been tried and tested in other countries. It works for others; it can work for us." (source)

I was at a launch party for the new logo and website of the Common Weal at the Arches in Glasgow on Sunday. A fantastic and inspiring event, there was a talk by Robin McAlpine of the Reid Foundation, some comedy and drama, and a rousing DJ, but above all there was an atmosphere of what it was like to be in at the beginning of something you know will be big. The Common Weal is about big ideas, but big ideas that are commonsense and involve everyone, and the new tag line and website say it all in the simplest of terms – ALL OF US FIRST – allofusfirst.org

A simple click of the above link and you can be there, read a little of how politics and society do not have to be as they are and how things could be, a way forward that puts all of us first, for a change.

Some links:


Saturday, 23 November 2013

SILHOUETTES - Thirty-fifth, and final, instalment

SILHOUETTES - Thirty-fifth, and final, instalment - Chapter sixty-three, sixty-four, sixty-five and sixty-six. For more information on this novel, click Here.

SIXTY-THREE

The two women had comforted each other a little about the demise of Ben. Dave stood by the kitchen window wondering how different women were from men. He should really be getting himself the hell out of here, but he couldn't for the life of him think how that was going to happen, at least not before Debbie got back and was given the news, and the same emotional comforting. Perhaps if he had known Ben a bit better, he would have felt more empathy, but from the little he did know, Ben was a lazy inconsiderate bastard, with a drink problem. No reason to be hacked to death though, or course, no reason at all.

The police constable was stating she would have to be going. She'd have to call her partner back to collect her. She stood up from the table and reached to her radio to turn up the volume, and was just about to speak into the mike, when the kitchen door was flung open and Debbie was shoved in the room with enough force that she hit the police woman and knocked her to the floor, fell on top of her, and all the while Debbie was crying, she was in terror.

'Knife! knife,' she cried, 'knife!'

Simon Parker stood in the doorway to the kitchen with a cleaver in his hand, staring, grinning. He had finally found his alien.

Dave, keeping his eyes firmly on Parker, reached down and pulled Debbie up off the kitchen floor. He pushed her behind him and did the same for the stunned police constable.

He remembered well now the conversation in the pub that night. He was pissed, but Simon Parker was nuts. He now knew how right his first summation of Parker was.

'Come here, Jo,' he said quietly, and beckoned for Jo to move to the back of the kitchen with the rest of them.

'Stay where you fucking are,' Parker cried. There was a manic lilt in the voice. Insanity. You wouldn't need to be a doctor to diagnose it.

'Everyone, stay exactly where you fucking are,' he ordered.

Dave held off on his first thought of attack. There was hardly room to manoeuvre in the kitchen, with so many people in close proximity and the large table in the middle.

'He's here,' Parker said quietly. 'The alien's here.'

Dave realised he wasn't talking to anyone in particular, at least no one in the room.

'Put the knife down and we can talk about this,' the police constable said, trying to sound calm, but her voice came out a whiny plea.

She had a hand over her handset and Dave suspected she had held down the transmit button when she spoke, clever girl.

'He's an alien,' he said to the girls, pointing at Dave with the blade. 'Did you know he's an alien?'

Dave saw an opportunity.

'Why not let them go?' he asked. 'They can slip out the back,' he nodded at the door of the kitchen to the back yard.

"Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die."

The quiet precision of each syllable of the poetry quote sounded more threatening than anything said up to that minute. It did nothing to alleviate the atmosphere of menace in the room. It added to it.

'Byron?' asked Dave, though he didn't have a clue, he was playing for a bit of time.

'Tennyson,' said Parker. 'And Tennyson says you have to die.'

The way it was stated, with emphatic finality, Dave realised this situation wasn't going to end without conflict. It wasn't going to end well for anyone in the room. He glanced around for anything close at hand he could use as a weapon. Unless an aluminium soup pot was lethal, he didn't see much else. There was a nest of kitchen knives, on top of the fridge, but they were closer to Parker than himself.

'No need to panic,' said Parker, 'no need at all,' and he had his head turned towards the laptops on the kitchen table, or rather he was speaking to someone above them, someone who wasn't there.

'We can talk about this,' urged the police constable, trying for calm and failing miserably. Dave wished she would just be quiet and let him think.

There was a sound of sirens in the distance and coming closer, getting louder.

Dave's chip tingled, he touched his temple and did a quick scan, a police report had traced Parker here and the cavalry were on their way. While in shadowtype he had Parker silhouetted. Parker was talking to someone. A one way conversation, he flip typed Tennyson and a list of poetry came up on the screen before him, he scanned down line by line, looking for something to help the situation, then he remembered the laptops.

'And Suzi Two is here,' he whispered to space, then turned and directed his gaze on Jo.

'Suzi Two is there.'

Jo was trying to slide up the table bit by bit, quietly edging her chair, inch by inch, to distance herself. The blade in his hand swung occasionally, not aimed at anything in particular, but a lack of control of the arm holding it wouldn't cut her any less than if it was a deliberate swipe.

'I am the kraken, and it ends here,' he said. A decision had been made between Parker and his imaginary friend. He started quoting verse again. There was a growing finality in the speech.

"Until the latter fire shall heat the deep;
 Then once by man and angels to be seen,
 In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die."

Then he looked at the screen of the laptop, the screensaver had cut off, and on the screen in flashing fiery large type was.

She only said, 'The night is dreary,
He cometh not,' she said;
She said, 'I am aweary, aweary,
I would that I were dead!'

Parker stopped and stared. No one was near the computer and it was quoting Tennyson. He turned to Tennyson, but he was no longer there. He was in the computer, and he was mocking him about his mother.

As Dave came out of shadowtype, already ruing the lines of verse he sent to the computer, the cleaver swung down at the laptop, smashing the screen lid, fragments flew in all directions.

Dave launched himself at the madman, and he was almost on him, but Parker's arm had the cleaver in the air again. He would be on top of Parker, but Parker would be able to strike at him. It was too late to retreat back. A hand came from nowhere and hauled the knife arm back. Dave forced himself on, into the body of Parker, forcing him back, into the man who had stealthily entered the kitchen behind him.

Hartless frantically held at the knife arm, with his own two arms, he had to use every reserve of strength he had, just to keep Parker from swinging the blade. Dave had winded him, and was now punching at his stomach, rapidly punching and punching. It seemed to have little effect. The three men struggled together, falling against the kitchen wall, then hitting the door jamb, then almost on top of the table. Dave always punching, Hartless clamped onto the knife arm. Then, finally, as if a light had gone out, Parker seemed to fold, the blade fell from his grasp. Hartless held on to the arm regardless.

The young police constable had come forward by this time, her baton out, and she had struck Parker across the head, hard. He flopped to the floor, blood spewing from a head wound. Dave spat out some splatter of blood. Hartless forced Parker's two arms behind his back now, and was struggling to get cuffs on him.

SIXTY-FOUR

When Hartless, Dave, and the police constable hauled Parker out the front door of the house, half a dozen police cars were already lined up.

Oswalk ran up with two other plod close behind her.

'You fucking nutcase,' she cried at Hartless.

'No,' he replied, 'he's the nutcase. Needs an ambulance.'

Oswalk grabbed him and hugged him.

'I thought you were dead,' she cried. 'You, Cowboy!'

'Commendation for constable Tranter,' said Hartless, 'and grateful thanks to Dave Stuart for saving the day,' he nodded at Dave.

SIXTY-FIVE

Jo and Debbie hugged each other. Jo had just broken the news about Ben.

'I can't believe it,' said Debbie, 'he was just getting his life back on track.'

'I know,' Jo hugged her and patted her back.

SIXTY-SIX

As soon as he could, Dave slipped away. Questions would be asked, police reports had to be filed, but he would not go down that road tonight. He stopped at an off-sales and bought a bottle of Glenmorangie whisky on the way home. His bed-sit had been trashed, by Parker or the police, or both. The door still shut though, despite the lock hanging loose by a screw. He pulled a seat over to gaze out the window at the sky. The stars were out tonight. He turned the ringer off on the phone and poured himself a large glass of the malt whisky, and sat looking up at the sparkling night.

Tomorrow he would decide if he would inform Jo about Debbie. Tomorrow he would decide if he would hang around. Maybe Jo would come with him if he upped sticks. Then again, perhaps the Agency wouldn't let him. A familiar shadow crossed the wall, faint and quick, almost unperceivable. Someone was behind him.

'Hello Amber,' he said. 'Been expecting you.'

The End... 
To read this novel from the start go here

Copyright © Stevie Mach 2013 All rights reserved

I hope all who have read have enjoyed, check back for some new writing information soon, thank you.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

SILHOUETTES - Thirty-fourth instalment

Posted below is the penultimate instalment of the novel 'Silhouettes'. I will try to add the final chapters next Sunday for the few readers who are the more impatient. I did try to post consistently and regularly, though I know I have let myself become distracted at times and kept people waiting. Please forgive me for that!

SILHOUETTES - Thirty-fourth instalment - Chapter sixty, sixty-one and sixty-two. For more information on this novel, click Here.

SIXTY


Oswalk was desperate to get away and get on the hunt for Hartless, the fucking daft bastard. But she was stuck here, organising yet another crime scene, courtesy of Captain Cleaver, psycho Parker. As far as she could tell, there was a police presence in every street within a half mile radius, cars carpet bombing every alley way and cul de sac with constant patrols, and still no sign of the fucker, or Hartless. She was getting worried now, even though he had only been gone, ten, fifteen minutes perhaps. He was no match for a fucking axeman with an attitude.

SIXTY-ONE

He leapt out quickly, silently, as the blonde walked past the cut in. She was in a daze, miles away, he noticed, typical blonde, he thought. His left arm was around her neck as he drew up beside her, and as she was about to utter a scream and pull away, with his right he flashed the meat cleaver before her eyes, and his left closed off her mouth.

'Not a fucking word,' he hissed. She had involuntarily stopped. She tried to nod compliance. He pushed her forward with his arm. 'Walk,' he ordered.

Thoughts of how she would explain herself to Jo had gone from her mind and seemed petty now. There was a very large, blood stained, cleaver at her throat, and she was being pushed along, almost off the ground by the psycho who had shoved her aside the day before. She wondered if she screamed would he let her go and run, but she knew that wouldn't happen. If she screamed he would run alright, but only after cutting her throat.

She didn't realise she was being taken home till he manoeuvred her in a right turn at the gateway to the house. They were halfway up the path before she even wondered if there was anyone at home.

As they got to the door, he stopped her suddenly.

'Do exactly as I say,' he whispered in her ear, 'I will say this only once.'

Mad thoughts of some French-German wartime sitcom ran through her head to the soundtrack of Brian's homemade wailing instruments. This wasn't happening she had decided. This wasn't real. Then the blade was flashed before her right eye again, almost close enough to sense the coldness of the steel, and she knew it was real enough for pain.

'We're going to open the door, quietly, understand?'

She nodded, but she was shaking with fear and was unsure if the nod was understood, or taken as a shiver of terror. He smelt of death, her nostrils took in the stench of it from him, and she nearly gagged, but his hand was against her mouth again, clamping down.

'Open the door, we walk in, and you stop, understand?' the voice was a hiss, and she knew a false move on her part would be disastrous. She could only comply.

She turned the handle and opened the door, soundlessly, they manoeuvred the step over the threshold and they were in the hall. He held the blade before her as he let go with his left arm and ever so quietly closed the door behind him.

'The alien,' he whispered.

She heard what he had said, but hadn't understood. He urged her forward again, step by step along the hall. There were three doors off the hall. Two led to the bedrooms of Brian and Moira, the other door led to the living room. As he reached each door, he tried the handle. First Brian's room, the door was locked. He pushed them both on. Then Moira, locked, and they reached the final door to the living room. She knew Jo at least was home.

SIXTY-TWO

The only people he spied when he came through the path on to the street of Lomond Lane, was a couple going into a house down on the right, and a teenager on a BMX bicycle practicing wheelies by a bin shed up the street a bit.

His nerves were in tatters, and he kept darting a glance behind him in case he had somehow passed Parker who was now creeping up to ambush him.

He walked down the street towards the kid. As he drew level and halted, the kid stopped cycling in circles and eyed him suspiciously. His jacket and trousers were ripped from climbing over wire mesh fencing. He was caked in mud on elbows and knees from falling in the dirt.

'I'm looking for a man, maybe passed this way a few minutes ago?' he asked.

'No one passed here, mister,' said the kid, and feeling less threatened asked, 'got any smokes?'

Hartless nearly laughed.

'Don't smoke,' he said. 'Did you see anyone at all?'

'Only the man meeting his woman up there,' he pointed up to the path way Hartless had left.

'He came out there?'

'Just before you, mister.'

'You got a phone?' he asked the kid.


'No chance, no credit.'

Here, Hartless reached into his wallet, pulled out a £5 note. 'Dial 999 for me, I'll tell you what to say.'

Final instalment coming soon... 
To read this novel from the start go here

Copyright © Stevie Mach 2013 All rights reserved

Saturday, 19 October 2013

SILHOUETTES - Thirty-third instalment

SILHOUETTES - Thirty-third instalment - Chapter fifty-six and fifty-seven, fifty-eight and fifty-nine. For more information on this novel, click Here.

FIFTY-SIX

The study group had been a waste of time, thought Debbie. A debate about twentieth century socialism, being relevant in the twenty-first century, turned into an argument about the ever expanding divide between rich and poor in the UK today. It wasn't that it was an uninteresting argument. Just that it wouldn't help at all in the talk she had to prepare on socialism for her next tutorial. Her tutor specifically stated the students should stick with the principles of the roots of the issue, and overlay them with a template for the present, and not try to explain the need, or the lack of need for socialism, but decide how it should be modernised to be relevant in this new age. She was probably more annoyed with herself, for the reason she wasn't even sure what was being asked of her, rather than the fact half the group attending were members of the Students Socialist Party, so very little was heard of the views from anyone else.

She entered the internet cafe, paid for half an hour and ordered a coffee. She carried it over to a computer at the back of the room away from everyone else.


Although Dave had intimated that no one could any longer hack into Jo's blogs from this particular IP address, she thought she had one up on him. He had taken a note of the IP address to block, but perhaps was unaware that one could cover their tracks by using a proxy server to access a website. In other words, the website would see an entirely different URL from a different IP address, one that wasn't blocked, and if traced backwards, that particular URL could be anywhere in the world.

She logged in to her proxy service, the one set up by James Earl-Barr for her today, when she had informed him how the hacking had been discovered. She hadn't wanted to hack Jo's blogs at all. Jo was a real friend, but as she was committed to hacking into and subverting or deleting, or placing porn ads, on a lengthy list of others, then Cousin James advised her to do so to Jo as well. It may look odd if her particular blogs were the only ones not under such attacks.

Once the proxy had launched, she typed in the website address James had given her and downloaded the executable file called Stealth-It, then she typed in the address of one of Jo's blogs, then scrolled to the bottom of the page to the 'log in' link for the admin page.

The page came up and asked for a user name and password. She double-clicked the Stealth-It file and it began its operation which was to find a way past the name and password fields and therefore by-pass the need for a legitimate name and password to log in. After three minutes of nothing happening she was beginning to think the computer had froze. Then the words, 'Entry Achieved' appeared, along with a request to save the data file details. She noticed the fields for a user name and password were filled in with asterisks. She pressed return, and she had now hacked back into Jo's website with admin privileges. But then it went all wrong.

It was hard to take in what happened next. A picture of her, obviously taken from the webcam on the computer, was kicked across the screen by a large cartoon leg, her head tumbled into a mock up of a football match goal net, a large flaming text message then scrolled across the screen stating 'Own Goal'. Then the computer shut itself down and restarted. When it had rebooted it was as if nothing had happened. She didn't dare try to hack back in again. She deleted the Stealth-It file from the desktop and left the cafe. She wasn't sure what exactly had happened but had an idea Dave was behind it. Did this mean she had been discovered? If so, would he tell Jo? She hardly dared to hope not, and as she approached Lomond Lane and the flat, she was dreading finding out.


FIFTY-SEVEN

Tennyson was at his heels, urging him on, all he could do was run from the voice, and as he reached the last back green in the street, he put a hand against a garden shed and stopped a minute to catch his breath.

Behind him, two or three gardens back, he heard a cry as someone fell over trying to negotiate a fence. He was being hunted down, like the kraken, and he heard the voice of Tennyson.

'Until the latter fire shall heat the deep;
 Then once by man and angels to be seen,
 In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die.'

And he knew he was doomed if he didn't get a move on. He ran to the end of the building, he had an idea he was just around the corner from the address the alien had left for him. He reached the street and looked up and down, a pedestrian path along a swath of back gardens cut the street in half, and seeing no sign of a police vehicle, he crossed the road and ran for the path, reached it unobserved, and looked back. He saw no one, he turned and ran on down the path. He knew where he was now. This would come out on Lomond Lane, the address in his pocket.

At the end of the path, he stopped once more, glanced carefully out, and each way, before forcing himself into view. It was a quiet Lane, just off the campus and behind the main streets, all residential, and as he checked his position with a door number across the way to decide whether he should aim left or right, he saw the blonde coming towards him.

FIFTY-EIGHT

Hartless saw the scuttling shape, rather than recognized the person, as they scurried across the last of the back greens around the last tenement in the street. He was unfit, breathing erratically, exhausted after god knew how many hours on duty, and he was alone, defenceless, chasing after a madman.

He forced himself forward. When he got to the tenement, he used caution at every new corner he had to turn. A fucking axe could be waiting to decapitate him with a swing. When he got to the street he was at a loss. Parker hadn't that much of a lead on him that he could have travelled the length of the street in any direction and be out of sight by now. Then he noticed the cut in up the street and across the road, and he made for it. As he crossed the road, he hoped to hear an approaching panda, but he heard nothing, and he cursed starting out on this mad solitary chase without so much gumption as to lift a fucking handset from the car. His mobile phone was well flat since his charger was at home.

As he entered along the path he wondered what they would say at his funeral when the axeman had finished chopping him to bits.

FIFTY-NINE

For some reason they had come in to the kitchen. Was this a training tip for young PC's handing out bad news? Get them in the kitchen, keep them busy boiling water and looking for biscuits. It was him though that was making tea, he found some camomile t-bags and put on the kettle.

The young female PC looked just out of high school. From the window he had seen the car that had dropped her off leave. Why the fuck did they delegate bad news to someone like her? In fact, they were both in tears now, Jo and the police constable, holding reassuring hands across the kitchen table. The two laptops had been pushed to the edge of the table, The Matrix screen savers running on both.

His chip tingled again, and he touched a finger to his head. Another hacking attempt on Jo's blog materialised in front of his eyes as the shadowtype darkened the environment of the kitchen. He triggered off the script he had set up, typing by way of flipping thoughts at the neon keyboard below the screen, the words 'Own Goal'. He had written the script at college years ago for a prank, but it was still handy, for the shock value if nothing else. That should teach her, he thought.

He brought up the crime scene photos of Ben Frisk and was scrolling through them as behind him at the table, the police woman was lying through her teeth to Jo, stating his death was sudden and painless.

The chopped liver effect of his face after a machete attack said otherwise, but he knew the truth was kept back for a reason, and if it eased the pain for Jo, even slightly, well, where was the harm?

He put the chip on standby and poured the tea, and put two cups on the table. The plate of seed bars, the nearest thing he could find to biscuits, he also put on the table, and earned him a pathetic look from Jo. He shrugged an apology.

Next instalment coming soon... 
To read this novel from the start go here

Copyright © Stevie Mach 2013 All rights reserved

Saturday, 5 October 2013

SILHOUETTES - Thirty-second instalment

SILHOUETTES - Thirty-second instalment - Chapter fifty-four and fifty-five. For more information on this novel, click Here.

FIFTY-FOUR

The call came through when they were actually on their way to Sycamore Lane. On discovery of the dead Ben Frisk at Dave Stuart's recent place of employment, they had sent an officer to bring Dave Stuart in for protection until they had found this nutter, and on being told he wasn't at home, Hartless had instructed the plod sergeant to stay there till he did come home, hoping the officer wouldn't take this as a sign to cordon off the whole street. He was now wishing perhaps that is what he had done. The call was from control about a crime in progress, a series of 999 calls from Sycamore Lane about an injured policeman and a man running amok with a meat cleaver.

'Get every available car here now...' Oswalk was crying down the mike.

Hartless rolled down the window and put the magnetic blue on the roof and set it and the sirens off. He mounted the pavement overtaking a van, nearly mowing down an elderly pedestrian in passing.

'Within five minutes,' Oswalk ranted, 'I want men covering every junction in a half mile radius of Sycamore Lane.' Oswalk was screaming into the radio now. 'Don't tell me there's no fucking manpower. Get the fucking manpower,' she cried, and turned to Hartless.

'Chief Inspector Lang's at a fucking dinner party, not to be disturbed,' she groaned. Lang was needed to authorise more staff being pulled in at short notice.

'Get the fucking staff in,' she cried again at the controller, 'I'll take responsibility. I also want cars going up and down every street in a half mile radius, I want armed officers, I want teams of SO19 ready to mow this fucker down.'

Hartless turned into Sycamore Lane. They were first on the scene. A crowd had gathered in the middle of the road adjacent to the police car. Three more people were over the prone body of a uniformed policeman at the side of the car. As they drew up behind it, the crowd recognized they were police and surged towards them.

Within a minute, three other cars and an ambulance had arrived. The three hovering over the body of the policeman were a doctor who lived in the neighbourhood, and two others that were giving assistance.
'He ran that way,' an old woman was standing at the entrance to the tenement, 'out the back across the green.'

'How long?'

'There the now, a minute,' cried the woman.

Hartless didn't think, he followed the outstretched arm, ran through the close, and out the back into the yard. It was a drying green, no exits he could see, he ran to the boundary wall, shoulder height, saw a recent trail of trampled weeds on the other side leading away. He leapt over. He was in an adjacent green, no sign of the bastard. He kept going till at the next boundary, this time a wire fence. He stopped a second to catch his breath, and heard what sounded like a clatter of metal bins from somewhere up ahead. He leapt that fence and ran on.

Oswalk watched Hartless run off, silly bastard, she thought, how the fuck would he restrain a fucking axeman? She turned to look at the drama surrounding the police sergeant. It was probably in vain though, the doctor knew it, she could see it in his eyes, and the ambulance crew thought it, when they slid the figure into the back and took off for the hospital, sirens and lights blazing. They had pressure dressed the neck wounds to try and halt the bleeding, but so much blood had already been lost, it would be a miracle if the policeman wasn't DOA.

Oswalk was on the phone, the cordons had been set up, they had drafted in police from other areas till more of their own staff came in on their day off, or came on duty early, to boost the numbers. On every single street in a half mile radius there would be police on the lookout. There was no escape this time. It was impossible. Then the two constables she had sent to follow Hartless returned.

'No sign of him,' one of them stated.

FIFTY-FIVE

The chip tingled, insistently. He tried to ignore it as he scoffed the last slice of the pizza. When Jo lifted his plate and cutlery to take to the sink, he rubbed a finger along his temple, instantly the room turned to shadowtype, a screen before him, laden with information appeared. He quickly read, scrolling as he did, the information that the Agency had picked up, put in the database, and when analysed and found relevant, was sent back down the airwaves to inform him. It wasn't good news at all.

'You're miles away,' said Jo again.

Dave realised she was speaking, reverted out of shadowtype, the screen disappeared and Jo was waving a hand before him.

'Daydreamer,' she said.

Accused of daydreaming when he had just been informed that a madman was running around Glasgow looking for him, to hack him to pieces with an axe, due to the fact he was thought to be an alien. He had just skip read a file on the Strathclyde Police database compiled by a DS Hartless. Dave almost laughed. He remembered now why the face of the mugger on the CCTV and the subsequent update regarding being under surveillance, had always niggled at him. The party he had attended after a concert featuring several up and coming Glasgow stand-up comedians, around four weeks ago now. The humour had infected him. He had been quite drunk, and this idiot had been pestering him. About what, he couldn't remember, until now. The person was even more inebriated than he was, and unwisely in hindsight, having realised the naivety of the individual, he had led on the pest that he was an alien on a secret mission, sending back details on how mankind would mount a defence against an invasion from outer space. He remembered being surprised that it wasn't taken as a joke, he was laughing himself at coming up with the theory. Everyone else in the vicinity at the gathering seemed to take it as a joke. Then he remembered he had introduced the humourous topic because the individual kept prattling on about their secret employment with the government. At the time, being drunk, he had wondered suspiciously, if this was a hint of a possible knowledge of his own connection to the Agency, and an attempt to pry into his own covert work.

The next day he dismissed it entirely, there was no way anyone in Scotland could know about his connection with the Agency. He had thought no more about it.

He had to decide what to do now though. Thoughts of a romantic adventure with Jo would have to be delayed. He couldn't put her at risk. Strathclyde Police were looking for him, to take him into protective custody, and a madman was looking for him, to dice him to death with an axe.

The police report downloaded to his chip stated his bedsit had been broken into by the man Simon Parker, wanted in connection with the murders of Suzi Tonner, Shamus Parker, Benjamin Frisk, and the violent assault of a police sergeant. Ben Frisk, thought Dave, Debbie's Ben. He lived here.

A knock at the door had him practically peeling himself off the ceiling.

'What's wrong?' asked Jo, staring at him. 'You've turned white.'

She moved to answer the door.

'Wait,' he cried. 'Hold on a minute,' he said quietly, he had alarmed her.

Another knock, this time more insistent. The light was on, whoever was there knew someone was at home.

'Wait,' he urged. He went over to the window and peered out towards the door, a woman in a police constable's uniform was standing, looking impatient. It wasn't the madman.

Jo was fed up with him by this time and was already on her way to the door. He heard her answer it and she returned a moment later with the police woman.

Jo's now going to find out one of her house mates is dead, he thought.

Next instalment coming soon... 
To read this novel from the start go here

Copyright © Stevie Mach 2013 All rights reserved

Saturday, 7 September 2013

SILHOUETTES - Thirty-first instalment

SILHOUETTES - Thirty-first instalment - Chapter fifty-one, fifty-two, and fifty-three. For more information on this novel, click Here.

FIFTY-ONE


'He was no good,' he kept whispering to himself, over and over. 'He was no good.' Tears were streaming down his face. 'It has happened again.'

He took a swig from the half bottle of whisky he had bought before running into the park, sure that the shopkeeper had recognized him, His picture was staring up at him from the front of the early edition of the Evening News. He had wanted to buy a copy and read about himself, but was too scared he'd attract closer attention. The few sentences he did read though while he waited for his change made him out to be some type of deranged serial killer.

'But, he didn't mean it,' he whispered, and he thought back, long ago to that night, when he started the fire.

Sitting on the swing at the park, it was late, perhaps ten o'clock, getting dark, no one around but a sole dog walker across the way, and heading to the exit gate. The vision came forth, his mother's pale behind, her face, turning to him, gaping with surprise, on her knees over the bed, arse in the air. Mr Marshall leering at him, almost smiling, trousers at ankles, a hand on her rear. He couldn't get the images away from him, out of his mind, and then, appearing from nowhere, a bearded man, who turned to look down at him.

'They'll have to die,' he said, quietly, but clearly, in the calm evening, in the park. 'They'll have to die.'

Simon looked up at the figure. It wasn't real, he knew. It was some kind of hallucination, he thought.

'Don't you recognize me?' asked the man. 'You know my work well enough.'

'Tennyson,' whispered Simon, and got a nod in return.

'Pleased to meet you at last, heard so much about you.'

'Who'll have to die?' Simon asked, but he knew what the answer was, his mother had to die, and the teacher had to die. He would kill them together. He pulled the Zippo lighter from his pocket, the one his father thought he had left in the pub, or lost somewhere else, but he had sneakily borrowed to start fires in the woods, and when his father replaced it with a new one, he had kept it, a secret. His father knew though.

'Ah, sad and strange as in dark summer dawns
The earliest pipe of half-awaken'd birds
To dying ears, when unto dying eyes
The casement slowly grows a glimmering square;
So sad, so strange, the days that are no more.'

The verse seemed all the more potent when recited by the actual poet. He recognized Tears, Idle Tears, and as he was wiping his own away from his face, Tennyson leaned close to him and uttered.

'You shall burn them both alive,' and he pointed at the lighter.

Tennyson paced back and forth before him. The tears had gone, and Tennyson was right, they deserved to die, how could she treat his Dad like that? How it would hurt his father.

'Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die.'

And Tennyson was gone, as suddenly as he had appeared, but Simon had a mission, and a burning hatred consumed him then, and he set himself back home. If Mr Marshall was still there he would do it tonight.

Sure enough, the teacher's car was parked up the street. He crept into the house, it was late and the street was empty, not even a curtain twitched in the neighbourhood. He had never burned a house before, and it began to seem so complicated a task that he was ready to give up for the night and think about some other way to do the deed. Then a whisper in his ear from a voice he knew, and he entered the kitchen. He turned on the gas at full, put the chip pan on the burner and watched while the heat melted the lard. He then looked under the sink for products that said highly flammable on the label, and he placed these close, but not directly next to the cooker. When the fat ignited he wanted the flames to reach out and take advantage.

He left by the back door, down the garden, jumped the fence, circled the houses so he came to the other side and sunk himself into the bushes, far enough away not to be noticed, but close enough to watch. His parent's bedroom light was on. Surely he would not have long to wait.

He heard a crash of breaking glass before he saw any hint of smoke or flame. It sounded like the kitchen window blowing out. Then a billow of smoke, then the smoke turned from pale grey to black, and thickened out, coming above the house from the rear. It wasn't long before he noticed the first of the flames, the fire licking its way around the living room, then the curtains were ablaze, and that window blew out in an explosion of gas and heat, and as oxygen was searched for and sucked into the interior, the flames grew and the smoke billowed, and the whole of the downstairs of the house was ablaze. It was truly magnificent. He flicked the lid of the Zippo open and shut as he watched. Then the teacher was at the window of his bedroom in the loft, his parents had converted it for him last summer. So much more space than the box room he had before. Mr Marshall smashed the glass out, smoke was already in the room, the flames weren't far behind, but as he watched, he saw it was not the teacher, though the teacher's car was parked just up the street. It was his father, and as he watched, his mother also appeared at the window, and the smoke and flames were choking them, and the pain of the heat was burning them. He could see and hear the ferocity of the blaze, and his father, in desperation, practically threw his mother out the window where she fell three flights to the ground. A split second later his father had jumped, clothes already on fire, and he knew by the stillness of them both, on the concrete ground at the front of the house, that they had leapt from his room to their death. His father was dead, and he had killed him.


'And it has happened again,' he whispered once more. He felt ashamed now, not because he had murdered the wrong person, but because he rarely gave his father a second thought now, and because he had never gone back to Dumfries to avenge him by killing the school teacher. He decided then, that as he would have to move to start again, he would move somewhere in the Dumfries area, and he would settle up with the teacher. No need to panic.

He realised it wasn't his fault entirely. Yes, he had been lax in his surveillance of the alien Dave Stuart, but perhaps by some precognition, the alien had arranged a replacement to take his place to make him think he had done the deed. They must be clever bastards if they can space travel, so who knows what kind of powers they may possess. It was already decided that he would do for the alien though, so he could not leave until his work was done. He would have to move quickly, for it was only a matter of time before he was recognized and cornered here.
He took another swig from the bottle and swallowed a pill. He had only a few of the Chlorpromazine left. How he would get more he didn't know. He threw the bottle into the bushes, and heard the remaining spirit spill out as he stood up and set off for Sycamore Lane.

FIFTY-TWO

The fact that he couldn't get the image of Jo naked, back arched over that inflatable ball, breasts thrust out, one leg in the air, that he couldn't get that image of those beautiful curves out of his head, was why he decided to call her. He couldn't believe his luck when she invited him to come round there and then, most of the house mates were out partying, and Debbie had a late study session with some of the students in her sociology class.

He left the flat with a spring in his step. This time was pleasure, not work, he promised, and he swore he would switch off the chip before he got down to it with Jo. As pleasurable as it had been in the past replaying sexual encounters with females later on in private, he didn't want to end up turning into some kind of pervert, and also, no matter how remote a possibility it may be, he did not want Jo to find out about the chip, ever.

As he turned off Sycamore Lane on to the main road towards the university campus and Lomond Lane where Jo resided with her house mates, he saw the police car coming towards him at high speed, the blue lights flashing, though the siren was off. Cars in front pulled in to the side to allow it to pass, and then it was racing past him. He was mildly curious when he seen it turn into his own street and wondered if the bastard two doors down had been beating up his wife again, but gave it no more thought, he had better things to think about, sexual things.

Jo had prepared a cafetiere full of strong Columbian coffee. The smell of fresh coffee took over the house. He sat at the kitchen table and she poured him a mug. The two laptops were powered up, the pages of some pro independence websites were open. He had promised himself this would not be about work, but he supposed he could mix some work with pleasure.

'Are they a militant bunch?' he asked.

'Who?'

'The Cybernats,' he said.

'They're all pussy-cats,' she said, 'there's never been so much as a bloody nose in the way of violence in the campaign for independence. What's your view?'

'But,' asked Dave, scrolling down a page of text which was a rant complaining about the biased BBC television coverage of a recent debate, 'how do you join, who runs the show, dictates policy, sets the agenda?'

'Ah,' Jo smiled and sat down next to him, she smelled delicious, he thought. She began bringing up other websites and blogs.

'You've been taken in by the message the UK mass media likes to portray, but all these websites, all these blogs,' she pointed and clicked as she spoke, 'are all run by individuals, amateurs, who are only putting up their opinions, and showing their support for an independent Scotland. There are no members of some secret gang or society there. Just normal everyday people, who want Scotland to be free to run its own affairs. So,' she asked again, 'what's your view?'

The question surprised him, but he realised it shouldn't have. He had assumed that although born in Scotland, as he had lived most of his life in the United States, that any opinion he had would be irrelevant.

'Oh, I'm quite easy about Scotland getting independence,' he said.

'Well, you'll have a vote,' said Jo, 'if you register.'

He gave her a surprised look.

'If you live and work in Scotland, you have the right to vote in the referendum.'

She got up from the table and went to the fridge and brought out a large plate.


'I made us a pizza earlier, my speciality, toppings of cheese, tomato, ham, mushrooms, and pineapples chunks.' She held the dish before him. 'Well, I made it for me and Debs,' she corrected, 'but she forgot about a study group and had to go out, so it is ours. Hope you're hungry.'

She placed the large disc in the oven and turned it on. Things were going well, he thought.

FIFTY-THREE

There was a police car on the street outside the house, one man in the driver's seat. It was possible if it arrived with two, one could be inside talking to the alien, perhaps being taken over by the alien. Are they gone for ever when that happens, he wondered, or can they be redeemed? He had no guidance, and had to think for himself. All he knew was he had to kill the alien. But what if aliens were all around, infecting the whole of society? He grinned to himself, and a passing woman pulled her child closer to her side as he walked past them.

There was no need to panic, because it was too late to panic, he realised. The panic had only ever been about discovery, and now that they all knew of him, and were hunting him, then there wasn't much point in any pretence about having to worry about panic.

He had reached the back of the police car, the sole occupant seemed to be reading a book, a novel, unaware of his proximity. He reached behind him, with deft movement had the side of the hold-all unzipped enough to grab the cleaver from within. Almost with surprising ease, the back door of the car opened as he clasped it, and he was entering the vehicle as the driver turned to see what was going on. Too late to draw back, too late even to realise that Simon Parker was in the back seat, the blade was sprung forward, and drawn quickly back across the side of his neck. Simon watched the driver, a police sergeant try to utter something as he sliced at the neck again, then once more to be sure. Blood was everywhere inside the vehicle, it had sprayed out the wounds, forcefully enough at first to splatter the front interior and windscreen. He couldn't hope to have more than minutes. He wiped the blade on the back seat of the car and leapt out, noticed he had escaped with nothing but a few droplets on his clothes, and ran to the entry to the tenement building where Dave Stuart lived.

It was nothing but heaven sent luck that one of the residents was leaving just as he reached the security door. Without warning, he ran past the woman, the blade still in his hands, and he leapt up the stairs, middle house on the left, he knew.

The resident saw the wild looking man with the knife, dropped the bag she was carrying, and ran for the street, saw the police car and approached in a state of alarm, then screamed, and screamed, pulling at her hair, as she saw the slumped and bloody figure of the policeman within. She ran up the street, screaming.

Simon reached Stuart's door and without thought took a run at it and threw his weight against it, with a crack of splintering wood it gave way and opened to slam against the wall of the hallway. He ran in and entered the main room, looking for Dave Stuart, though even in the mindless fury of his actions, he realised that if Stuart was here then he would have come to see what the noise was all about.

When he reached the large room of the bedsit, he briefly looked out to the street, he could hear the screams of the woman, people were approaching her to calm her, they would realise why she was screaming very shortly.

He looked around the room for a sign of where Dave Stuart could be. He wasn't at work. He checked the bathroom. He wasn't at home, who did he know?

Already he could hear sirens approach. He had seconds to get out of here. Then he noticed the phone number on the coffee table, and an address scrawled under it. He shoved it in his pocket, had a last glimpse around, then left the flat, ran down the stairs, but left the building by the rear exit into the backyard. Quickly, he made his way along, climbing boundary fences as they came, till he had distance between himself and the sirens closing on the house behind.

Next instalment coming soon... 
To read this novel from the start go here

Copyright © Stevie Mach 2013 All rights reserved

Saturday, 10 August 2013

SILHOUETTES - Thirtieth instalment

SILHOUETTES - Thirtieth instalment - Chapter fifty. For more information on this novel, click Here.

FIFTY

What Hartless was reading both fascinated and horrified him. He thought at first Simon Parker was a budding writer, or Parker had aspirations of being such, and Hartless thought he was pouring over the boring and scribbled scrawls of some early first draft of some science-fiction detective tale.


In front of him, he had almost four weeks of the carefully noted movements and the habits of a Dave Stuart, home address of Sycamore Lane, employed as a Security Guard with Everwatch Security, present assignment based at Grimeforth Offices of the now defunct Telcomcal Services.

Simon Parker somehow believed this Dave Stuart was an alien, sent to Earth as part of a group to infiltrate, analyse and compile information to be sent home regarding the state of the Human Race's abilities to defend the planet against invasion. Why the aliens had sent the fucker to Scotland, he had no idea. He had been watching the movements of Dave Stuart, meticulously tailing him around Glasgow, from home to work, work to Arches, Arches to park, park to home, every detail had been recorded in writing. The end of every page was annotated with a table of ratings and marks out of ten; suspicion rating - 5, Possible other Alien meetings - 3, Possible Homeland communications – 5, copy of report of that particular date, and date original sent in. No knowledge was imparted on what constituted suspicion, or who these other aliens were, and no information on where the actual compiled reports were sent, was provided.

He had a look through all the other information he had on Parker in front of him, there was no medical information, though the guy was long term on incapacity benefits, which usually meant a lazy bastard, an alcoholic, druggie, or a nutcase. He called over to Jean, one of the admin staff who kept the incident room flowing with updates.

'See if you can find any medical information on this Parker?' he asked her. 'Try the local GPs in the area closest to his home address first, and spread out from there till you get a hit. Any reluctance, tell them it's a fucking murder enquiry.'

He keyed the name of Dave Stuart into the police computer, and after a minute it gave up searching and came back with nothing. It came back with no information at all, not even a national insurance number, which was odd, everyone had something in the database, even the innocent. He tried again, this time inputting the home address. Still nothing, it was as though he didn't exist. The theme tune of The Outer Limits began to run through his mind.

He went back to reading the compiled reports of Simon Parker, and with a growing unease noticed how they began to ramble, and at points he seemed to be almost forcing the pen through the paper with the pressure of writing, the words growing wilder and more incoherent, any meaning lost as he went off on a tangent about how he had to do his bit to save mankind, please his employer, and how Tennyson, whoever the fuck he was, would help him. The last pages ended two days ago, the date of the mugging. Only they now knew it wasn't a mugging. The old man had recovered enough to make a full statement and it seemed as if Parker was in the process of disposing of a tin of body parts, into the river, when the old man's mutt got a sniff and went to investigate what it thought was the scent of some doggy goodness. It caused a panic that resulted in the contents of the tin being tipped over the animal, the tin thrown into the river, and Parker running off, shoving the old man aside, bringing on the beginning of his heart attack, and shoving the witness Deborah Campbell to the ground as he made his escape. DNA tests proved beyond doubt that the body parts belonged to Suzi Tonner, the missing student. Technically the wording in the reports was wrong, as there were no actual 'parts' of the body contained within the tin, later recovered. It was thought by forensics that parts of the body had been liquefied and poured into the tin as an aid for easily concealed removal and disposal.

From the ashen remains at Parker's house, it was safe to assume that the body was that of Suzi Tonner, they already could deduce that the innards had been removed sometime prior to the blaze, so it was a safe guess that this had been the actual contents within the tin.

'He's got his own shrink, Sir,' said Jean, approaching his desk. 'His GP is a Doctor Klinet of the Govanhill Health Centre. Klinet says he referred him to a shrink when he was fifteen after having concerns about his mental state, panic attacks, thoughts of death, self harm, that kind of thing.'

'Thoughts of death,' laughed Hartless, 'he's a fucking harbinger of doom.'


'The guy to talk to is a Dr Surefoot, a psychiatrist at the Royal Central Hospital. He's been treating Parker since he was referred. Here's his number.' She handed him a post-it with the details.

'Ok, Jean,' said Hartless, 'good work, thanks.'

After a ten minute call to Surefoot, who wouldn't talk directly about his particular patient, Parker, not without a court order, but insisted on using some fictitious inmate of some la-la-asylum somewhere that may, or may not, have the kind of tendencies that may be similarly expressed in the type of behaviour, someone akin to being afflicted with the illness of the sort, that Parker, should they have been discussing him, but they were not, may have.

He lost his temper with the good doctor, and eventually was told that Parker should really have been committed years ago, at least until they were sure his illness could be fully controlled. But due to cut backs, shortage of facilities, care in the community, and he was deemed to be not dangerous, as long as he took his medication...

Parker, it seemed, was diagnosed with schizophrenia, and suffered from delusions, and hallucinations.

Not dangerous. Hartless had laughed at this, described what Parker had been up to recently, and told the Doctor he would make sure his name came out in any enquiry.


He rang off, pissed off and angry, just as Oswalk approached with two cups of coffee. She put one on his desk.

'Extra sugar,' she said, 'get your energy levels up. Looks like you need it.'


'No kidding, thanks.' He looked at his watch, five o'clock, he had been on duty now for fifteen hours solid. He had to get home.

'Parker hears voices of dead poets, and sees people who aren't there,' he said.

They had just got each other up to date on the latest regarding the case, and the hunt for Parker, and decided to finish for the day when the call came through. Jean took the call and relayed the news.

Another murder, this one in Grimeforth Street. Oswalk asked her to give it to some of the other mugs in CID, but something struck Hartless about Grimeforth Street. He leafed through the reports Simon Parker had compiled regarding his alien, and he found it. The alien, or rather Dave Stuart, worked with a security firm on Grimeforth Street.

'C'mon Jenny,' he said, resigned. 'That's our man, again.' There was not even a chance it wasn't that office block, but he asked anyway, and Jean confirmed it. He phoned home to say he'd be late as he and Oswalk left the HQ.

'Trouble?' said Oswalk.

'She wants me to send a recent photo so she can see how much I've changed since she last saw me.'

'We might not be long,' said Oswalk.

Hartless smiled.

'Then again...'

How can this guy move about the city so freely when his mug shot is in every newspaper and every news bulletin, wondered Hartless.

It was usually a two minute drive from HQ to Grimeforth Street, but some over eager plod sergeant had cordoned off the full street, junction to junction, and the diverted traffic during the rush hour had caused gridlock in the whole of the city centre. They had eventually abandoned the car two streets away and walked to the scene of crime.

When they got there, they were given some forensic overalls from the back of a squad car, and allowed straight in to the building. As soon as they entered the foyer they saw the smears of dried blood from where the killer had tried to clean up. A bloody mop and bucket stood in a corner.

The victim was lying on his back, face a like a badly sliced tomato, with patches of bone showing here and there, parts of the face had been sliced off entirely. There was no way to identify the body by a photograph, even if they had one, or with a member of the family, if there was one, or even a friend, if any would come forward. There are some sights that you just do not allow an unsuspecting member of the public to see, whether the victim was family or not.

'We still don't know it was our man that did this,' said Oswalk.

'No,' said Hartless, and he picked a bit of crumpled paper up from the floor.

'Anyone phoned Everwatch Security?' Hartless called out, catching everyone's attention.

'Er, me,' said a quiet voice from outside in the foyer.

'He found the victim and called 999,' said the plod sergeant who was first on scene.

'I was supposed to take over at eighteen-hundred hours,' said the security guard, 'but came in early seeing it was his first day on the job,'

'First day on the job,' cried Hartless, 'who is he?'

'I don't know, never met him,' said the relief security guard. 'Dave, the usual man, quit the other day.'

'So,' Hartless, summoned up a great deal of patience, 'that there,' he pointed towards the body, 'is not Dave Stuart?' he asked, and while he was waiting for an answer from the shock racked relief man, he uncrumpled the bit of paper in his hand and read down the page of the job application receipt.

'This appears to be one Benjamin Frisk,' he said. 'We had better find Dave Stuart quick, before the fucking axe man does.'

Next instalment coming soon...
To read this novel from the start go here


Copyright © Stevie Mach 2013 All rights reserved