Monday, 24 June 2013

SILHOUETTES - Twenty-seventh instalment

SILHOUETTES - Twenty-seventh instalment - Chapter forty-seven. For more information on this novel, click Here.

FORTY-SEVEN

Mr Mike Marshall, the head of Clements Primary school he had attended back in Dumfries, had drummed the verse of Tennyson into him, so much so, that his mouth had been washed out with soap on more than a few occasions when he had gotten the words wrong in a recital.

'The words are important,' he would cry, 'the words are the message.'

An eleven year old hadn't a clue what the teacher meant by this, the words were a jumble of old language about times of the past that he knew nothing about. Still, he had been forced to learn, and learn he did, for the one phrase that always seemed to make sense to him was,

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


So it seemed to him, it was far easier to just let others make their mind up for your actions, it saved a whole heap of having to think things out for yourself. It wasn't a version of control, he didn't let control fall to others, rather it was a case of why make important decisions for yourself, that may require careful thought and consideration, when you could just keep everyone happy and not have to bother with all that independent thinking in the first place. If he did what others thought he should do, he was keeping them happy, and when they were happy, he was happier, plus he had more time to himself. It was a delegation of responsibility. When he made an error, it was someone else's fault.

So, most of the time at school, Mr Marshall was happy, his parents were happy, especially when he quoted Tennyson to them. It was as if his mother was especially overjoyed, she loved poetry, and Tennyson was one of her favourite poets. She would have him stand upright, back straight, in the middle of the room, when visitors came, and glow with pride as he, by rote, recited a poem of Tennyson she chose at random. His father, he thought, preferred Burns.

It was a late summer afternoon when he had been walking, he had just turned twelve, he was a bit of a loner and tended not to play at football or mix with the other kids in the neighbourhood after school. It was around six in the evening when he returned home, Mr Marshall's car was parked in the street just up from his house, and he thought maybe he was doing one of his occasional visits to Sandra McKinstry's home, as he had noticed before had been the case. His father and mother exchanged glances, of unknown meaning to him, when such occasions as this were brought up in conversation. Now twelve, and beginning to understand gossip and the reasons for it, he now knew these were not home visits to discuss the education of Sandra, and give her advice and her parents guidance, to improve their daughter's prospects in the manner of her studies at school. These home visits were when Sandra's father was away from home, and Sandra was dispatched off to visit her grandmother. Sandra's father was a sailor and was often away from home. He had always assumed Sandra was a bit backward, when in reality she was one of the cleverest kids in the class at school. Her mother was also one of the prettiest parents.

These thoughts going through his head was perhaps the reason he snuck surreptitiously into the house, rather than crash through the front door announcing his entry to all indoors, as was usual. His father was also gone from home, at some kind of conference related to his work for a few days. His mother was not downstairs, and as he heard a quiet thud, and a sense of movement from his parents room upstairs, a new kind of dread came over him, and he began to understand exactly how Sandra felt when teased by the other kids, out of earshot of Marshall of course, about how her Uncle Mickey was?

He crept quietly up the stairs, though there was no need, the sounds of activity coming from his parents room covered well any sound of his approach. When he got to the top of the stairs, fear of the truth almost made him turn and run, but he stepped forward till just outside the door of his parent's bedroom.

He had determined himself to keep both hands in his pockets and steel them there. Without volition, though, his right hand reached over and turned the door knob, and pushed in the door. It was done so quietly that nothing was sensed within, and the action continued for what seemed like an eternity.

His mother was bent over the end of the bed, braced by several pillows, her skirt was thrown over her back, her knickers were at her feet, one leg still through them. Mr Marshall was sweating behind her.

'Ah, Mickey,' crooned his mother, 'hurry, hurry!'

Simon watched fascinated, then kicked the door. His mother looked round then. Mr Marshall looked round then. Simon turned and fled down the stairs and out of the house. The sight of Mr Marshall, with his pants and trousers at his ankles, his shirt fluffed up around him, and an aghast look on his face, haunted him all that evening.

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


'I understand you know,' said Tennyson. 'It wasn't your fault.'

Tennyson was leaning over him, a bundle of cardboard under one arm, he gathered more from the area about his feet and threw it over the edge into the skip.

'Time to move on, mate,' said Tennyson, a lilt of impatience.

Tennyson changed into a street sweeper, almost imperceptibly. He rose from the side of the skip and brushed himself down, checked his backpack, then began to walk away. The street sweeper was whistling as he folded bits of board and threw them over the lip into the skip. It was three o'clock now.

He walked a good bit up the alley then realised it was a dead-end. It was taking him nowhere, and he also realised that he could no longer just walk around the town as though he didn't have a care in the world. He was a wanted man now, the authorities were after him, his picture was on TV and in the newspapers. He had no option but to move to another area, but he couldn't do that without carrying out his orders. He reversed direction and strode back the way he came, past the whistling council employee, and with a tinge of dread, and yet an anticipation of excitement, he turned onto the main street and began walking up the hill. When he was adjacent to the office building where Dave Stuart was employed, he crossed over when the traffic cleared enough for him to do so. As he walked up the few steps to the double glass doors of the entrance to the building, he decided that this was the best way, why drag it out any longer. He pulled at the handle to the doors and found they were locked.

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

Copyright © Stevie Mach 2013 All rights reserved

Saturday, 8 June 2013

SILHOUETTES - Twenty-sixth instalment

SILHOUETTES - Twenty-sixth instalment - Chapter forty-four, forty-five, and forty-six. For more information on this novel, click Here.

FORTY-FOUR

At twelve o'clock Dave Stuart left the Telcomcal building on Grimeforth Street and crossed the road, nimbly avoiding collision with a bus on the way across. He entered the Salvation Arms and stayed within for forty minutes, having three pints of lager and a packet of crisps. He then manoeuvred his way back across the busy road, carrying a bag which may have contained a few cans or bottles of beer, re-entered the Telcomcal building and retired to the office at the back out of sight.

Simon had written every detail down, from his subject leaving the office, to his return, and also the fact that he now knew the aliens were shape-shifters. The person he was now watching had changed from the person he had been watching over the last few weeks. A subtle change of facial features, nothing more. Though easy to mistake for another person entirely, if unaware of their scheming and manipulations. At first he had even thought it was a different person, but everything else, the place of employment, the uniform, the regular habit of a fly visit to the pub across the road, were all consistent. For some reason the alien had detected Simon's presence and had tried to thwart him, throw him off the scent with a quick change of facial features. It did not work, Simon was back on the ball.

If the target's activities were back to the familiar though, he could now retreat and come back at five-thirty then tail him home, study who, if anyone, he made contact with on the way. This could be a sign that a new phase was beginning. He was too much out in the open here though, so he retreated deeper back up the alley, found a convenient place to lay up behind a rubbish skip, and despite the smell, covered himself with some old cardboard lying there and closed his eyes for a bit, he was so tired now he could hardly stay awake. He shouldn't have taken that last pill, but there was no need to panic now, he was back in charge, he was ahead of the game, he could relax for an hour or two.

FORTY-FIVE

At the Police Headquarters, the CID floor of the building was a hive of activity. The whole of last nights criminality connected with Simon Parker had been collated and marked up along a whiteboard that stretched across the whole of the fourth floor battle room, as the incident room was called. This was where all the details of current serious cases were discussed and actioned, staff commanded, tasks handed out, and all the important data was updated immediately by the dedicated admin staff, as new bits and pieces, gleaned to be relevant, came in and was sorted in steps of importance.

The multitude of incidents pertaining to Simon Parker were catalogued by date and time across the whole of this board. The charge of the overall investigation of every incident had been taken over by Chief Inspector Lang, and Oswalk and Hartless were one of four sub-teams under him. They had both been allocated the murder of Shamus Parker, and the incident with the child. Oswalk had fucked off back to the hospital, keen to get out of sight, out of mind, and catch up with her sleep, thought Hartless. He had been sat in front of the computer digging up details of Simon Parker, his uncle Shamus, and their relationship, as much as he could ascertain by keying a few stokes in a computer.

He had access to most of the relevant databases containing histories of addresses and education, he had official data from the tax office on employment or not, income or not, and some limited information about birth certificates, passport application data, and ownership of vehicles. He had nothing at all about the two individuals as people though. He would have to glean this information from wherever he could, neighbours, friends, if any, colleagues, etc.

A clearer photo had been found of Simon Parker at his uncle's house, this was going out to the press and the local TV channels in time for the mid day news. According to information coming in from neighbours, Simon Parker was a loner, no friends were ever seen visiting, no girlfriends either, not a member of any local clubs, no political affiliations, and no employment information, it didn't seem as if he'd ever had a job.

IT Forensics had the remnants of a desktop computer half melted in the fire, but they were hopeful they may be able to glean something from the hard drive. Data on a personal computer could often be of valuable assistance in determining the motivation of an individual. Internet history via the list of visited sites, computer cookies, and temporary internet files could help build a profile that could explain the kind of mindset they were dealing with. A request had already been put in to his home phone and broadband provider for information that may have been wiped from the computer, but was still on record in the log files of the ISP (Internet Service Provider). The best source of information about Simon Parker though, was from Simon Parker himself. The sooner he was found the better.

'More junk from the house,' said a plod, and placed a large archive box full of singed but damp paper on his desk. Burnt from fire, and soggy from the fire hose.

Hartless gave him a look of despair. The constable shrugged, and walked off. As forensics went over the house in more detail, bit by ever so slow bit, more of the surviving effects that may have relevance were shipped back to the station for further examination.

He took a peep in the box, a few hard back A4 notebooks, some paperwork with what looked like mechanical drawings, and...

Pulling one of the drawings from the box, he saw it was a line drawing of a human figure with a mechanical frame that seemed to be fixed, or bolted, in some way to the torso and limbs. A crude flow chart containing bubbles of text and arrows pointed to various parts of the diagram of the human, whom Hartless now realised was a female. He brushed some of the ashy flakes from the top of the sheaf of paper, and felt himself turning white as he begun to understand exactly what he was looking at. Parker was constructing a robot, a mechanical robot, but with a real human being as a template, a real human being at the heart of it.

He took one of the hard back notebooks from the box, leafed through a few pages. Inside it contained even more detailed information about this project Parker had under construction. This stuff was investigational gold. The book, from the beginning outlined the abduction and murder of Suzi Tonner, how he had prepared her for transformation, how he would have her speak, and once the intricate framework of metallic limbs had been measured and cut and machined to size, he would have her reborn again as a mechanical, but fully functioning slave.

After an hour and half of going through the first book, taking notes as he went, he needed some air. He got a coffee from the vending machine and went up to the roof, a few smokers always hung about, out for a quick puff, but he blankly walked past and found a quiet bit of the roof and stood watching out over the city. The balcony around the roof was over waist height, but he was feeling so shaky, he kept well back, for fear of his legs giving way and him somehow flipping over and falling to the road below.

He called Oswalk and gave her an update, the doctors still wouldn't let her near the kid, she was heading back shortly. Collecting another coffee on his way back to his desk, he despaired at the human race.

Another box of paperwork from the inferno had been left, precariously sitting atop the one he had been working through. He put it to the side of his desk meanwhile and began updating the IntelCrim Database with all the latest information he had already learned. This piece of software allowed at a glance updates and links between every aspect of an investigation. Every officer in the team was automatically kept up to date with emails of new information, it was the first stop for any snippet of knowledge to do with any crime under investigation, even before the usual paper written daily logs and the personal records every officer had no option but to keep abreast of by way of input into their desk computer. So much knowledge was attached to every case now that it was so easy to miss something, or forget something, that it was imperative the system was updated as soon as possible. The more information in the system, the better assistance the system served the investigation.

Hartless spent half an hour on the updates, then lifted the new archive box onto his desk and had a rake through it. When he noticed the employee report logs, he thought he had perhaps caught Parker out on some job he had been pursuing on the side. When he lifted the reports from the box and began to read through them, he realised this was something completely different.

FORTY-SIX

When he left the girls, Dave went back to the Arches, and after a bit of pleading to Bernie whom he rented from, was allowed to extend the lease of his garage. He entered, sat in the drivers seat of his surreptitious automobile, turned on the machine, and spent a couple of hours getting himself reacquainted with all the developments related to his original assignment. Since he had been involuntarily re-drafted back into the Agency, he would have to get back into the habit of the daily routine and updates. While he was there he input a query for info regarding the URL of the hacker that had infiltrated Jo's blogs and edited malevolently the information in her posts. A line of text came back almost immediately. As he scanned down the screen he noted that the URL belonged to an internet cafe on the university campus. He opened another screen, and within a matter of seconds using the Agencies software, he had hacked in and infiltrated the customer records to discover who exactly was responsible for the hacking of the blogs. The name MG_Zelle was associated with the login times that corresponded with the use of the cafe URL and the access times of the blog admin. As MG_Zelle was obviously a fake name, he scanned the internet cafe's files for CCTV systems. He discovered it had CCTV and that it was recorded and held on a hard drive. He accessed the drive, and copied the data to his local computer, it would be much faster to trawl through that way, and less chance of detection should any firewall the internet cafe utilise detect the intrusion. Once the data was on the local machine, he set up a search to provide a list of stills from camera No 4 which, from the angle of view, appeared mounted behind the counter of the internet cafe, and pointed to cover all of the customer usable machines. He narrowed the search to only include the login times for accessing Jo's blogs, and within a minute a line of jpegs were appearing on the screen, each an image capture of a particular time in the day of the internet cafe, and each containing a list of clients at machines busy typing away. There was only one face that was in the list of jpegs on every occasion that the hacking occurred. Only one person could be MG_Zelle. Dave was looking at the image of Debbie.

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

Copyright © Stevie Mach 2013 All rights reserved