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Stream of consciousness Sunday: The Accumulator, part fourteen…

Time once again for Linda G Hill to provide us with inspiration for SoCS, enabling me to continue with this slowly evolving story, by using the prompt;

” “bear/bare.” Use one, use both, use ’em any way you please. “

Come on then, let’s see what happens…

The Accumulator, part fourteen.

Scene: A busy café, Concarneau, northern France. Tables with parasols are arranged outside in the street, most of them occupied by families of camera-toting tourists. It is two years ago.

The camera angle changes to face the opposite direction, giving a view of the medieval walled town in the harbour. Holidaymakers stroll back and forth across the drawbridge, the only access to the fortified island, wearing their bare, sunburned skin like a badge of honour.

We are observing this pleasant seaside scene from the POV of a café patron at one of the pavement tables, a fact which becomes obvious when a hand reaches into shot for the cigarette that smoulders in a glass ashtray.

As the hand picks up the cigarette and brings it toward the camera, the angle changes once more we see that the hand holding it belongs to Patrick; relaxed and tanned, dressed in a white cotton shirt, navy blue shorts and white espadrilles, he looks every inch the local resident, an impression that is reinforced when he beckons to a passing waiter and places his order in impeccable French.

The waiter vanishes into the café and Patrick takes a final drag on his cigarette and stubs it out, just as his mobile phone rings, vibrating against the tabletop. 

“Hello. Yes, I’m here, but there’s no rush…….Yeah, that’s fine, I’ll be there,” he looks at his watch, “give me half an hour, I’m just having lunch. Ok, bye.”

Patrick goes back to watching the passing crowds of tourists, eyes hidden behind sunglasses, as his voiceover returns.

“This is probably a bit of a shock, the change of surroundings and all, but there’s a pretty simple explanation for it, really. At least, my version of it is pretty simple, because the narrative style of these things doesn’t allow for much in the way of elaboration. 

So, some bullet points:

– Turned out the Mercedes we pinched from the two goons in the petrol station had all their fancy Department ID badges in the glove box and some security pass on the windscreen which nobody ever seemed to question.

– The story about me being a fugitive from justice had been planted in the paper by Endicott and his smarmy army, something we found out when we ran into two coppers at a motorway services and they didn’t look at us once, let alone twice. This was subsequently confirmed when we discovered a radio in the car and were able to eavesdrop on their transmissions for a short time, until they discovered their fallen comrades, then all radio traffic went silent.

–  We made it all the way to the south coast without incident and tried our luck with the Department pass at the docks in Dover, (by then, we’d smartened ourselves up a bit, I’m not proud of how we acquired the means to do that, but I’ve been trying to atone for my past sins ever since) driving straight onto the first cross-channel ferry with no questions asked. It appeared that Endicott’s Department men didn’t even require passports to travel around Europe, the strange, photoless ID cards and our car pass seemed to open any door.

– We set up in a small cottage in the Brittany countryside after a month of roughing it in the Merc, using money from a smash and grab we did on a drug dealer we’d been keeping an eye on. Cathy played her part perfectly (a strung out junkie, looking for a fix) and we got away with a lot more than we had anticipated, selling drugs is obviously a better business than I thought.

– Cathy got a job as a nurse after a few weeks, working in a local nursing home and I started a small photography studio, here in Concarneau, catering mainly to tourists and doing occasional shoots for travel brochures.

– I found it easy to pick up the language (maybe it was a skill I had before, who knows?) and after a few months of patient trying, Cathy became fluent enough that she no longer has to bear the raised eyebrows of the locals when she shops in the market.

– Nobody from The Department has contacted us in the nine years we’ve been here and as far as I knew, they had no idea where we are.

– I’m at that café because I was supposed to be meeting with a man who wanted me to do a shoot for his hotel, but he rang and told me he’d be late, so I’m meeting him in the Old Town later.

Or so I thought, because the next thing that happened was, well, just watch…”

The camera shows us the waiter, coming out of the café carrying a tray and approaching Patrick’s table. Patrick moves the ashtray and his phone to one side, clearing a space for his plate of mussels, knocking his cigarette packet off the table in the process.

As he bends to retrieve the packet from the floor, the waiter makes a strange coughing noise and Patrick looks up just in time to see the man fall to his knees, a shocked look on his face and a rapidly spreading red stain in the middle of his chest. The bowl of mussels on the table suddenly shatters and Patrick feels a sharp pain, looking down to see a deep graze in his upper arm, then someone starts screaming and Patrick is moving, ducking into an alley and running to where his old Renault is parked behind the café.

He slams the door while punching numbers on his phone, jamming the key into the ignition and slamming the car into gear.

“Come on, come on!” Patrick yells, wheels spinning on the cobbles as he speeds down the narrow street “Pick up the damn phone!”

Finally, someone answers.

“Hello, I thought you’d…”

“It’s happened, they’ve found us!”

**********

To be continued (using next week’s prompt {which can now be found HERE})…

#SoCS

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Stream of consciousness (not)Sunday (2): The Accumulator, part twelve…

So here we are again; another long weekend off work, another late edition of SoC-not-S and this week we are continuing Patrick’s story with a little help from Linda G Hill and her prompt; 

” “pretty.” Use it any way you please. “

No problem…

The Accumulator, part twelve.

Scene: A wide angle shot of open countryside at night; darkened fields are separated by low stone walls and strips of dense woodland and the full moon casts impenetrable shadows against the stark contours of the landscape. Two figures can just be seen in the middle distance, moving slowly towards the camera, their progress evidently hampered by the smaller of the pair, who seems to be having considerable difficulty negotiating the uneven terrain. It is eleven years ago.

The occasional sound of a female voice, swearing furiously, drifts up the slope on the gentle breeze and, as our heroes get closer, Patrick’s sardonic narration resumes:

“We left the quarry and headed east, for no other reason than it was away from both there and The Department’s facility. We didn’t know where we were going, but we knew we didn’t want to go anywhere near either of those, so we kept off the roads and went cross-country, an exercise that was easier said than done in Cathy’s case.”

We briefly see Cathy, silhouetted against the moonlit landscape as she clambers over the final wall, until she suddenly vanishes with a further burst of expletives. 

“It took us twice as long as it should have, what with her falling over every ten minutes in those pretty little shoes of hers and me having to carry her for the last two hundred yards, when the bloody heels gave up and snapped off altogether. But when we finally got to the other side of the valley we had our next stroke of luck.”

The camera follows Patrick as he staggers the last few steps to the top of the scrub-covered slope, Cathy riding piggyback with her arms wrapped tightly round his neck, one hand still clinging grimly to her ruined shoes. Patrick lowers his passenger none too gently to the ground before collapsing to his knees on the rough grass, breathing heavily and coughing.

“You really shouldn’t smoke,” says Cathy, inspecting one unheeled stiletto with displeasure, “it’s very bad for your health, you know.”

He turns and gives her his most scathing look. 

“True, but it is very good for calming the nerves, and I haven’t had a smoke for a while now, so I wouldn’t push my luck, if I were you.”

Cathy shrugs and points to something behind him.

“Maybe you can find some in there, if you’re that desperate.”

Patrick turns in the direction she’s looking and about fifty yards away sees a single storey building with a tall sign outside, next to a road that wasn’t visible on their trek up the hill. A petrol station, deserted at this hour and isolated enough to warrant further investigation, thinks Patrick, studying the garage carefully for signs of habitation. 

When he is satisfied the building is unoccupied, he hoists Cathy onto his back for the short journey across the road and the cracked tarmac of the car park, depositing her on the doormat of the small concession store which overlooks the silent forecourt.

“Wait here,” he says, “keep an eye out, look lost and innocent and whistle if you see anyone coming.”

Cathy gives him a look of her own, but peers into the darkness as he disappears round the corner of the building. She is still watching the empty road thirty seconds later, when the sound of breaking glass makes her jump. A few seconds after that and she sees movement in the shadows of the store and a dark shape resolves itself into Patrick’s grotesquely distorted grinning face, pressed up against the inside of the glass door.

Cathy rolls her eyes and waits for him to locate the lock and let her in, which he eventually does, opening the door and ushering her in with a deep bow. She smiles despite herself and steps inside, moving cautiously down the narrow aisle between two display racks, feeling her way in the gloom until she reaches the counter. 

He joins her after relocking the door and grimaces as she points out the shuttered and padlocked cigarette cabinet.

“Yeah, well I’m trying to give up, apparently it’s bad for me.” He takes a small flashlight from a box on the counter and gestures to the rear of the shop with it, where it illuminates shelves of holiday accessories; beach toys, baseball caps, sunglasses and cheap deck shoes.

“Oh, thank god for that.” Cathy checks the sizes of a few pairs, then slips on a pair of blue canvas pumps with exaggerated relief, “Aaahhh, that’s so much better, thank you.”

“Take a spare pair, just in case, they don’t look the sturdiest things for hiking in and you never know when you might get another chance.”

“More hiking? You have to be kidding, I thought…well, I just thought we’d be able to take something from out the front…”

“Out the front? What d’you mean, what’s out there?”

“There’s a line of second hand cars for sale out there, didn’t you notice?”

“Show me.”

Cathy leads him to the window and points across the forecourt to where a Land Rover and a few other vehicles are just visible in the moonlight, prices scrawled on the windscreens in whitewash.

“Perfect. We just have to hope there’s petrol, too.” 

Patrick steps behind the counter and searches underneath until he comes up with a small lockbox. The lock gives way after a minute of levering with a screwdriver, revealing a selection of car keys, all helpfully labelled with registration numbers. 

“I can’t see the number plates from here, but I reckon this is the Land Rover key.” He holds up a flat metal key, with no locking fob or logo, “I recognize it from Endicott’s place, they had an old one there, he took me on a tour of the grounds in it once.”

“Right, let’s get going then.” 

He turns to see Cathy, arms full of snacks and drinks, trying unsuccessfully to open a bag of crisps and shakes his head.

“What, you want me to starve? I’d leave the money if I had it; shall I write them an IOU?”

“You just wait there while I go and check the car out, ok?”

“Yessir! Certainly sir!” She threw a salute and stamped to attention, spoiling the effect somewhat by sticking her tongue out at him and crossing her eyes.

Still shaking his head and smiling to himself, Patrick heads for the door to check they remain unobserved, then unlocks it and walks quickly across the dark forecourt to the line of vehicles. 

He has just reached the door of the Land Rover when Cathy sees the sudden glow of headlights, followed by the car they are attached to, swing round an unseen bend in the road and, sickeningly, head straight for the petrol station entrance.

The lights sweep across the window and Cathy ducks down behind the counter as the car pulls up and stops outside. There is a brief silence, then she hears doors open and close and the sound of approaching footsteps. Someone outside rattles the door and she hears muffled voices.

There’s another moment of silence and she begins to think they are going to leave, then a noise from the rear of the shop makes her jump and she hears a voice, shockingly clear and seemingly only a few feet away;

“Hey, there’s a broken window back here, I’m going to take a look.”

Cathy desperately looks around her, searching for a place to hide, but she’s trapped behind the counter and there’s nowhere to go. She senses a presence on the other side of the thin wooden partition and suddenly a shape looms above her as someone leans over the counter.

“Well, what do we have here then? What’s a pretty girl like you doing in a place like this..?”

**********

To be continued (using next week’s prompt {which can now be found HERE})…

#SoCS

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K’lee and Dale’s Cosmic Photo Challenge…

It’s time once again to fire up your imaginations and get creative for K’lee and Dale’s Cosmic Photo Challenge, which today revolves around a theme of my choice.

I specifically asked you to use some form of post-production effects for this week’s challenge, because that is what we like here and I’ve noticed that some of you shy away from using all but the most basic adjustments to your original photos.

Plus, I have a guest contributor this week, so I also wanted to be able to crowbar his pictures in.

I’ve gone for some more abstract images, produced using photos of industrial components as the source material.

The next selection are from my old friend and esteemed blog artist-in-residence, Ho, who sent me these colourful and artistic contributions last week.

So, there you have it.

KG left us this.

Lady Lee Manila offers these for your perusal.

And K’lee’s photo is HERE, for your viewing pleasure.
Now, show us the fruits of your creative labours…
*****
To get involved with the challenge, post a photo to your blog on Monday, add a pingback to this post (or to K’lee’s) and don’t forget to tag your post #CosPhoChal.

Alternatively, add a link to your blog in the comments of either mine or K’lee’s post and we’ll come and check out your entry.
Any and all effects, editing, Photoshop, Instagram, morphing, collages or whatever other post production techniques you fancy are permitted, (in fact, they’re actively encouraged!) so get creative and turn your photos into artworks for the Cosmic Photo Challenge.
#CosPhoChal

 
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Posted by on November 28, 2016 in Arts, Blogging, Guest spots., Ho., Photography

 

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One liner Wednesday: Alternative dictionary…

Today’s alternative definition concerns an alternative lifestyle decision:

“Transponder” – Considering whether to have The Operation.

#1linerWeds

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One liner Wednesday: Alternative dictionary…

Some words in the alternative dictionary become considerably more innocent in translation than they are in their original form:

“Molestation” – A subway stop for woodland animals.

#1linerWeds 

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Stream of consciousness (not)Sunday (2): The Accumulator, part ten…

Ok, so having two days off in a row just means more procrastination and an extra-late episode of SoC-not really-S, but I’m here now so it’s time to continue this story, with help from Linda G Hill, once again using her prompt;

” “mem.” Choose a word or words with the letters “mem” in that order and run with it. “

Right, where were we..? Oh yes, I remember…

The Accumulator, part ten.

Scene: A quiet country road, lined with beech hedges and dappled with broken shade from a natural tunnel of overhanging trees. Green fields flank the road on either side and cattle can be seen roaming the distant hills. Patrick and his former nurse are hurrying along the road, occasionally glancing behind them to check they aren’t being followed. It is eleven years ago.

“Can we slow down a bit now?”  

The young woman, who Patrick has been privately referring to as ‘Philippa’, since his incarceration by The Department more than a year ago, stops for a moment and leans on a gate post. She bends down and takes off one of her perilously high heeled shoes, shakes out a stone and slips it back on, then looks up to see Patrick striding ahead.

“Will you please wait!” 

“You think we should give them a chance to catch up, is that it?” 

Patrick snorts derisively, looks back over his shoulder but doesn’t stop to wait for her.

“Ok, look,” she says, almost stumbling in her haste to catch up, “I get it, you think I’m a pain in the arse, but I didn’t have to cooperate, you know. I could have just screamed bloody murder and brought all the guards running, then where would you be, huh? Dead, probably.”

He finally stops, turning to face her in the road as she totters to a halt, glaring defiantly, in front of him.

“You’re right.”  says Patrick, “Well, maybe half right. I reckon I’d probably be strapped to a bed, awaiting my next jolt of disciplinary electro therapy. I think they’d rather have me alive.” 

He grins nastily, “And you’d be straight back on the roster of experimental test subjects.”

“Well, yes, I…” she looks away from him, across the rolling countryside, red spots burning on her cheeks and tears welling up in her eyes, “I know, I didn’t…” 

She takes a deep, shuddering breath and tries again. 

“I was only there to do blood tests and hand out pills, I didn’t know what was going on there. We were all told it was some sort of private clinic for rich people, to get newly developed treatments that weren’t available to the public. That’s why we weren’t supposed to talk to the clients, because it was all so hush-hush, we even had to sign non-disclosure agreements when we started work there.”

“Wait, who are “we”?” asks Patrick, suddenly intent on what she is saying, “And what do you mean by, “clients”, you mean there were more patients like me in there?”

“All the nursing staff were hired at once, through an agency,” she replies, “we were all newly qualified, apparently it was part of a government initiative to get trainee nurses into full time employment. And yes, there had been several other residential patients before you, although you were the only one there recently, that I knew of, anyway. Oh, and my name is Cathy, not Philippa, I don’t know where you got that from.”

Patrick looks at her, smiles and holds out his hand.

“Nice to meet you, Cathy, what d’you say we start again with a clean slate?”

Cathy looks warily at his outstretched hand, as if it might explode, then looks embarrassed and Patrick laughs dryly.

“Ha! It’s ok, I’m not going to zap you, I’ve got my sinister new powers under control and besides, we may need them before too long and I don’t want to waste them on you, doing the old electric handshake trick, now do I?”

Cathy grins uncertainly and, tentatively at first, shakes his hand, gripping it more firmly when she is sure her hair isn’t going to stand on end.

Patrick looks down at her, frowning and rubbing the stubble on his chin thoughtfully.

“You all lived on site at the facility didn’t you, the nursing staff, I mean?” 

Cathy nods slowly, watching his face for a sign of where this is going.

“Well, it sounds to me as if they wanted staff with as little clinical experience as possible, to minimise a paper trail back to the outside world. Using an agency, probably a front for The Department anyway, would remove one more degree of separation from official records, making it all the simpler to cover up, should one or two of you mysteriously disappear, in execution of your nursing duties, so to speak.

Cathy shivered involuntarily and took one final look behind them, before squaring her shoulders and setting off after Patrick.

As they continue walking, albeit slightly more slowly to accommodate Cathy and her impractical footwear, we hear Patrick’s voiceover:

“I guess I shouldn’t have been so hard on her, I had trust issues back then. But as it turned out, it was Cathy who came up with a plan to get us some transport…”

Meanwhile, the scene changes; afternoon sunshine cross-fades into evening twilight and the country lane broadens into a two lane highway, still winding though open countryside, dotted with an occasional small village and the many scattered farms, barns and outbuildings that typify the rural English landscape.

We see that Patrick and Cathy have arrived at a road junction, lit by four streetlights at the centre of a small roundabout. They slow their pace as they reach the outer edge of the circle of bright light; the thought of stepping from the comparative invisibility of dusk, into that glare, just heightens the feeling of being fugitives.

There is no way to bypass the oasis of unwanted illumination, so after carefully observing the silent road for a moment, and as quickly as sore feet in high heels will allow, they make their way across the brightly-lit circle, toward the darkness on the far side.

Patrick The Narrator once more speaks up, taking us through the action as it unfolds:

“We were halfway across and I thought our luck was going to hold, then I heard the sound of a car engine, approaching from one of the side roads. I could already see lights, shining round the last corner that hid us from view and we were going to be lit up like the proverbial rabbits in the headlights.

Then Cathy dropped to the ground, right in the middle of the road.

“Quick!” she said, “Hide!”

I had no bloody idea what was going on.

“What?! What are you doing down there?”

“Trust me,” she said, “just get out of sight, you’ll know what to do.”

I dived into the tangle of long grass and brambles at the side of the road, just as the car pulled up to the junction, it’s headlights now shining directly onto Cathy’s motionless body. Nothing happened for a few seconds, then I heard someone opening a car door.

I peered through the undergrowth and saw a man of about thirty, wearing work overalls, climb out of the car, leave the engine running and slowly walk up to Cathy. He kept looking around him, then he knelt down and gently shook her by the arm.

“Miss? Miss, are you ok?”

I knew this was my chance, while his attention was focused on her, so I extricated myself as quietly as I could from my hiding place and crept up behind the unlucky good Samaritan.

I was reaching for his shoulder, when I noticed he still had his hand on Cathy’s arm. Remembering the effect it’d had on Endicott’s orderly when I’d used Cathy as a human lightning conductor, and conceding that I didn’t actually want to knock her into genuine unconsciousness, I loudly cleared my throat.

He jumped up like I’d already zapped him and span round to face me.

“Jesus Christ, you nearly gave me a fucking heart attack.” 

He stared aggressively at me, then started to turn, gesturing down at Cathy. 

“What are you doing, creeping around out here in the dark anyway? Is she with you?”

As he turned, he nearly tripped over Cathy’s legs and he stumbled, throwing his arms out to steady himself. 

It was almost too easy; I shot out my hand as if to steady him and he reflexively grabbed for it. One small jolt of energy later and he was in a gently twitching heap on the tarmac.”


Cathy lifts her head and looks round at her erstwhile rescuer, face down on the dotted white line in the centre of the road.

“It worked then?” she says, smugly. 

“He even left the engine running for us, how considerate of him.” 

“Yeah, alright, there’s no need to be quite so pleased with yourself,” replies Patrick, “I don’t actually enjoy doing that, you know.”

“Of course, I’m sorry.” Cathy looks contrite for a moment, then grins and says, “Still, it was a bloody good idea, wasn’t it?”

Patrick sighs.

“Yes, it was a wonderful idea. Now, shall we go?”

After dragging the unconscious driver to the safety of the roundabout, Patrick heads for the idling car and climbs in. He checks the fuel gauge as he waits for Cathy to adjust her seatbelt, seeing with relief that it shows just over half full.

“Right, let’s get this show on the road.” he says, grinning at his somewhat nervous-looking passenger. 

Patrick swings the steering wheel to the left and pulls out onto the main road.

“Next stop, Freedom Central.”

Which is when the rear windscreen shatters into a thousand shimmering pieces and what can only be a bullet embeds itself in the dashboard.

“Duck!” 

Patrick stamps on the accelerator and the car, some sort of pumped up boy racer hatchback, leaps forward into the darkness with a screech of burning rubber.

“Fuck!”

Cathy is clearly not impressed.

“I thought you said they’d want to take you alive?”

“Somebody obviously didn’t get that memo.”

**********

To be continued (using next week’s prompt {which can now be found HERE})…

#SoCS

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One liner Wednesday: Alternative dictionary…

Today is a day that will go down in history, not necessarily for good reasons.

But there is always the alternative dictionary to cheer us up.

“Pastoral” – A spoken history.

#1linerWeds

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