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Stream of consciousness Sunday: The Accumulator, part thirty three…

Today’s SoCS post comes to you from the blazing sunshine of our back garden, where I sit listening to the crows scrawking as I prepare to continue this story with the help of Linda G Hill‘s prompt;

” “inter-” Use the prefix “inter-” any way you’d like. “

Alrighty, then…

The Accumulator, part thirty three.

Scene: The director really thinks he’s being clever with the FX now, giving us all the action in one go by using a three way split-screen (you know the sort of thing; gimmicks made “popular” by the likes of cliché-packed international mega-hit 24 and so-so, preachy British spy nonsense, Spooks) so we now see;

Screen One: Adam stands just inside the kitchen, Carlisle’s pistol pointing across the room at the door to the garage, his other hand extended, fingers almost touching the door.

Screen Two: Carlisle’s POV down the darkened hallway. An explosion of light and noise; the assault squad smashing down the front door. A figure advances, weapon pointing straight at the camera.

Screen Three: We watch from the POV of one of the two men stationed in the garage, by the door to the kitchen. We see him count down on his fingers; 3.2.1., then drop his fist in the signal to go and the other man nods and kicks open the door, charging through it as we follow close behind.

Then things happen very fast.

Screen One: From Adam’s POV we see the door to the garage fly open and a masked man in black fatigues bursts into the room, a machine pistol already swinging round to take aim at us.

Too slow.

Adam’s first shot hits him on the bridge of the nose, snapping his head back and spraying blood onto the ceiling. He staggers backwards into the man behind, who is hit in the thigh by the second shot; his gun clattering onto the tiles, he screams and collapses against the door to the garage, slamming it shut as he slides to the floor.

Adam drops the gun and spreads his fingers, arm held stiffly at shoulder height, like a magician adding the final flourish to a particularly impressive illusion; as we see a rippling pulse in the air, seemingly sucked from the falling man’s body into Adam’s open hand and up his arm.

He turns to the hallway door behind him and makes a rapid sweeping gesture in the air, as if pushing something hard to the left, then stands with his hand on the door handle, waiting.

Screen Two: The man with the gun trained on us slows his pace as he approaches, trying to make out details in the gloom. Then, as he reaches the foot of the stairs, a tightly rolled rug is dropped from the landing above, catching him on the shoulder and making him spin round in surprise; just as Carlisle, still strapped to his stool, is sent flying along the slippery floorboards like a human hockey puck, slamming into the man who trips over the rolled up rug and crashes to the floor with Carlisle falling heavily on top of him

Screen Three: We see from a rear view, the first man going through the garage door, as our host follows him into the kitchen; the sudden spray of blood and the impact of lead man’s body as he is thrown into us, the shocked scream as the shot focuses downward, at the bloody wound in our leg, looking up and catching a glimpse of that strange, wavering pulse in the air, seeing the grinning young man turn away, then the picture blurs and fades to black.

The remaining screen is now split two ways and now we see

Screen One: Changing to third person POV, we see Adam go tense at the noises outside and he yanks open the door to the hallway, stepping through then ducking back in immediately as a hail of gunfire smacks into the wall next to his head.

He drops to his knees and leans round the door, snapping off two shots in quick succession before flattening himself against the kitchen wall and listening.

The sound of the squad leader, still struggling to extricate himself from beneath Carlisle and his accompanying stool, is all that can be heard from outside the door and the camera floats past Adam and gives us a view down the hallway, at which point the images of screens one and two converge and screen two expands to fill our vision.

Scene: The camera drifts towards the writhing pile of bodies and tubular chrome furniture, coming to rest above them just as the man underneath manages to roll Carlisle off him and raise his gun.

Which is when the second rolled up rug hits him square in the face, breaking his nose and banging his skull on the floor with a horrible cracking noise.

After a few seconds of silence, Patrick and Cathy peer around the banister, then cautiously descend the stairs to survey the carnage below.

As Patrick kicks the fallen man’s gun away from his slack fingers and Cathy attempts to untangle the furiously thrashing Carlisle, the camera swings round and heads back to the kitchen, where we find Adam stripping off the dead man’s clothes. Patrick enters the room, while from the hallway we hear Carlisle swearing profusely; Cathy has obviously removed the tape from his mouth.

It has been a little over a minute since the assault began.

Patrick goes straight to the unconscious second man and starts to pull off his black jacket, when there is a deafening burst of automatic gunfire from the hall.

He turns to see Adam, gun in hand, running for the door, but he is only halfway across the room before Cathy appears in the doorway, a machine pistol hanging limply from one hand, her face a deathly white.

When she speaks, her voice shakes, as though she is barely holding herself together. 

“Th-there were two m-more of them. They must’ve come in th-through the li-living r-room window. I only p-pulled the trigger o-once…”

Patrick hurries over to her and takes the gun from her unresisting fingers and the camera drifts past them to look back down the blood-spattered hallway, as the screen fades to black.

*****

Scene: Outside, the police watch “special forces” go into the house, remaining where they are, even when gun shots can be heard from inside. When the second, sustained burst of gunfire is heard, one or two of the armed officers look at each other uncomfortably, but orders were orders so they hold their positions and wait.

Ten minutes later – Some impatient muttering amongst the police is silenced by a shout from an officer with the best view of the front door and a moment later the assault squad emerge from the house, masks still in place.

Two of the men are clearly injured and are each being supported by a pair of their comrades, who quickly assist them (somewhat roughly, witnesses said later) into the back of the black van. Two of the men then climb into the front seats and the van backs slowly out of the driveway and turns to face up the street, where it sits with the engine idling until someone gets the message.

The officer in charge takes one look at the intense stare of the masked man behind the wheel of the van and gets the message straight away. He quickly orders one of the cars blocking the road to be moved, allowing the assault squad to drive off without any further inconvenience. 

He watches the van stop at the end of the street, where it turns left and vanishes from sight, then the bewildered officer heaves a sigh of relief and turns back to his men.

“Ok you lot, you know what to do; make the scene secure and then we just wait for the anti-terror boys to arrive…”

They will be waiting for a long time.

*************

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

#SoCS

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Stream of consciousness (not)Sunday: The Accumulator, part thirty two…

Bank holiday Monday is the new Sunday, as far as my SoCS posts are concerned, anyway, so let’s see what Linda G Hill left as a prompt for us on Friday, with which to continue this strange tale;

” “yard.” Use it any way you’d like. You can even add letters to it to make a whole new word! “

That shouldn’t present too much of a problem…

The Accumulator, part thirty two.

Scene: Patrick and Cathy’s living room. Patrick is sitting in an armchair by the fireplace while Carlisle is lying face down on the sofa facing him, with his arms tied behind his back and his ankles tied together, a length of parcel tape stuck firmly over his mouth. Adam watches Carlisle from his position at the window overlooking the small back yard and Patrick smokes silently, staring into the fire.

From our vantage point at the end of the room, we can also see across the hallway and into the kitchen, where Cathy keeps watch on the street outside, perched on a stool by the window.

It is half an hour ago.

As the camera drifts towards the centre of the room, Patrick checks the clock on the mantlepiece and stands up, flicking his cigarette into the hearth in a shower of sparks. He walks over and rips the tape off Carlisle’s mouth in one swift movement, ignoring the grunt of pain and bending down so that his face is level with the incapacitated hit man.

“We had better be getting ready, if you think they’re coming at ten, that is. You wouldn’t be lying about that, would you?”

Carlisle glares at him for a second, working his jaw to try and ease the stiffness in the raw skin around his mouth.

“That’s the usual procedure after this long without contact. If they haven’t come by now, it means they’ve got someone keeping an eye on the place and know I’m still in here. Looks like they don’t trust me as much they said.”

“Well you better hope they still have your health and safety as their priority, because otherwise you might be in for a very abrupt retirement.”

“I’ve no interest in making life difficult for you, it’s not like I’m going anywhere, is it?”

“Oh no, perish the thought, you were just going to brutally murder us all for money, not do anything that would make life difficult for us, that’s a relief.”

The scathing tone in Cathy’s voice as she enters the room gets a chuckle from Adam, but elicits no further response from Carlisle, who merely shrugs and stares blankly back at her.

“There’s a black van a little way up the road, it hasn’t moved for hours and I just saw someone in the driver’s seat who wasn’t there earlier. I can’t see who it is, but they’re just sitting there, I don’t like it.”

Patrick looks at Carlisle and sees something in his face that tells him all he needs to know.

“Ok, that’s them. You all know what to do.”

Leaving Carlisle on the sofa, Patrick walks into the kitchen and peers through the blinds at the van, parked about thirty meters away on the other side of the road from the house. The driver’s window is open but the angle of sunlight on the windscreen makes it impossible to see who is at the wheel. 

He turns to see Adam placing a stool outside the kitchen, facing down the length of the hallway, as Cathy comes out of the living room, closing the door behind her. The camera follows Cathy as she walks down the hall, closing doors to the dining room and cloakroom, then drawing the curtains across the window next to the front door. She stops on the way back, picking up two thick rugs which cover the shiny laminate flooring, leaving them rolled up at the foot of the stairs. 

After Cathy rejoins the others, Patrick pulls the kitchen door closed so they are plunged into near-darkness and Adam nods with satisfaction.

“That should do it; coming in from the bright sunshine they’ll be practically blind for a few seconds, that’s all I need.”

“I hope so, otherwise we’re screwed.”

“Oh ye of little faith, Patrick, I’m hurt at your lack of confidence in me.”

“Just stick to the plan and we might get out of this alive. Cathy, time to get you upstairs.”

Taking one of the heavy rugs each, Patrick and Cathy head up the stairs, as we follow Adam into the living room; where we see that Carlisle has managed to roll off the sofa, only to get himself wedged underneath the glass coffee table, and he still lies there like some sort of bizarre and furious museum exhibit.

“Hahaha, is that your best attempt at an escape, you’ve really made a pig’s ear out of that, haven’t you?”

Adam stops, raises his arm and, much to Carlisle’s surprise, the steel and glass table lifts smoothly into the air and hangs there, swaying gently, a foot from the ceiling. Adam reaches down and hauls the Department man from beneath the hovering table by his bound ankles, then glances up and makes a small gesture with his hand. The table sinks slowly down, hitting the floor with nothing more than a soft thud and a rattle of an ashtray on the glass top.

Adam bows with a dramatic flourish and grins at the scowling assassin.

“You’re welcome. Now, it’s time for your big moment. Patrick are you ready?”

“I’m here, let’s do this…Shit!

This last exclamation is a reaction to the sudden noise of approaching sirens in the street outside, followed by the sound of screeching brakes and car doors slamming.

Moving quickly now, Patrick and Adam grab Carlisle, carry him out of the living room and place him on the stool facing the front door. They sit him with his arms tied behind the stool’s low back and Adam shoves a broom handle between the two, meaning he can’t lift his arms free, even if he stands up. 

Then Patrick heads for the stairs, vanishing around the corner on the first landing as Adam ducks into the kitchen and closes the door, leaving Carlisle alone once more, in the dark.

Which is when the front door crashes open and all hell breaks loose.

***********

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

#SoCS

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Stream of consciousness Sunday: The Accumulator, part thirty one…

On my 54th consecutive day of blogging, another SoCS post uses Linda G Hill‘s prompt of the week to continue this story, so let’s see what she’s given us to play with today;

” “spell.” Use the word “spell” any way you’d like. Bonus points if you use it in the first sentence. “

First sentence, eh? Ok then…

The Accumulator, part thirty one.

Scene: Interior of a windowless black van, which, due to the unusually hot spell of weather, is already an unbearable ninety degrees by ten o’clock in the morning. 

The six man assault squad, dressed in black fatigues and rolled up ski masks, have been sitting in the sweltering heat for over an hour, following a report from the overnight surveillance shift that Carlisle hasn’t been seen since entering the target residence, nearly eight hours earlier. They are getting restless and beginning to grumble irritably, tired of waiting for the order to go in.

Carlisle had always refused to wear the combined bugging and tracking devices The Department issued to its field agents; he claimed it made him feel uncomfortable, mostly because the targets often started begging for mercy and he didn’t like the idea of the monitors eavesdropping on that, it seemed…undignified.

So, because Carlisle’s spotless record and impeccable loyalty allowed him a certain amount of flexibility, the powers that be granted him this small idiosyncracy; the compromise being that a covert surveillance team was despatched to all of his jobs. Without his knowledge, of course.

They were told never to interfere, (The Department needed to retain its facade of plausible deniability, after all) but were to report back on any deviation from his established routine, just in case damage limitation was required. Up until now there had never been a problem, but Carlisle was well known for his quick turnaround on this type of critical operation, so the assumption was that he’d been compromised and the big guns had been called in.

The man closest to the sliding side door of the van, designated “Alpha One”, wipes the sweat from his eyes and looks at his watch, raising a hand to silence his muttering colleagues as he pulls a mobile phone from his pocket and punches a speed dial button.

“Hello, this is Alpha One, the area is clear. I repeat; the area is clear, you are green to proceed.”

The squad leader ends the call and nods to his men, watching as they pull down their masks and perform a final equipment check, then he climbs over into the driver’s seat and opens the window, letting in a mercifully cool breeze in the process, and listens for sirens; his cue to begin the attack.

*****

Now our POV drifts over Alpha One’s head and out through the window, (the director has just got himself a new drone camera) where it speeds down the street; past Patrick and Cathy’s innocuous suburban house and dozens of others exactly like it, until it reaches the main road, where it glides smoothly to a stop and rotates, to show us a line of four police cars, parked just around the corner.

Policemen with their sleeves rolled up and collars undone lean against the cars, chatting quietly and smoking in the heat, then a phone rings and a few seconds later the order comes;

“Ok you lot, let’s make this look convincing. Remember, we’re only here as window dressing for the spooks, so I don’t want you putting yourselves in harm’s way, but any nosey neighbours are supposed to think tomorrow’s Daily Mail is right when it comes out with some bollocks about an “Islamic Terrorist cell in shootout with Home Counties police”, you get my drift?”

There is a chorus of replies, on a variation of “Yes, sarge”, as cigarettes are flicked into gutters, doors slam and engines roar into life.

The cars pull away from the kerb, turn the corner, and accelerate rapidly; sirens blaring, lights flashing, followed by the drone camera, filming from overhead, before screeching impressively to a halt, sideways, blocking the street with two positioned on either side of Patrick’s house, just as the anonymous black van swings into his driveway.

This is the moment the assault squad have been waiting for and, as the police officers set about conspicuously “securing the area” for the benefit of any curious members of the public, the door of the van slides open and the six heavily armed men pile out.

The camera zooms down to get us right in amongst the action.

Two of the team disappear around the rear of the house and another two make for the back wall of the garage and station themselves by the connecting door that opens into the kitchen, while Alpha One takes up position at the front door with Alpha Two, who carries a compact steel battering ram.

Raising three fingers to his second in command, Alpha One nods and silently counts down;

Three. Two. One.

He drops his clenched fist in a chopping motion and Alpha Two swings the ram, splintering the wooden frame and smashing open the door in a single impact.

Without hesitation, the squad leader charges headlong into the darkened hallway and the camera follows him, as the screen..

fades to black.

************

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

#SoCS

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Stream of consciousness Sunday: The Accumulator, part thirty…

Welcome to a bank holiday edition of SoCS, brought to you by Linda G Hill and a prompt that inspires the continuation of this story;

” “moo” or a word that rhymes with it. Bonus points if you actually use the word “moo” in your post. “

Oh, really? Good grief…

The Accumulator, part thirty.

Scene: Adam and Patrick are standing in the kitchen, with Cathy sitting at the counter, all of them watching Carlisle with interest, as he gives every sign of fighting a battle with himself.

“Interesting, isn’t it?”

Adam grins at the sweating Department operative, who is gripping his right arm (the one pointing a gun at his own leg) with his left hand, trying with no success whatsoever to move it away from his kneecap.

“You’d think they would have warned you what you were up against before they sent you after me. Or maybe they don’t realise what sort of monster they’ve created, is that it, do you think?”

He gives Carlisle an expectant look, waiting for response, but all he gets in return is a glare, part angry defiance, part confusion.

“There really is nothing you can do, you know, I can keep you like that until your muscles are screaming in agony. Although I’m going to get bored a lot quicker than that, so you better start talking soon or I’ll just apply a little more pressure to your finger, and…”

Patrick sees Carlisle’s eyes suddenly widen and he can see the tendons on the back of his right hand begin to tighten.

“Wait!”

“Aha, he speaks! See, that wasn’t so hard, was it? Now, why were you sent here, what did they tell you? Think carefully before you answer, I don’t know how sensitive that trigger is, but I expect you know how many lies to risk before you loose your leg.”

Carlisle looks at Adam, then at Patrick, who stares implacably back at him in silence. He licks his lips nervously.

“All I was told was that you and the girl were to be taken out.”

He nods at Patrick and shoots an apologetic glance at Cathy, as if to say “It’s just business, nothing personal”, then looks back at Adam.

“Nobody told me you were going to be here, I’m guessing they would have sent reinforcements otherwise.”

“What did they tell you about me and Cathy, why do they want us dead?”

Patrick takes a step closer to Carlisle, fists bunched and eyes blazing with fury.

“I was told you murdered a doctor called Felix Braithwaite and the girl worked with you to get inside the hospital. They’ve already put out police reports on you both tonight, probably to help explain the bodies they’re expecting to find in the morning.”

“But they said nothing about me, you’re sure about that, you don’t want to play for the first knee?”

“I don’t even know who you are, or what you’re doing here, you weren’t part of the job at all, as far as I know.”

“Hmm, that doesn’t seem very likely; seems to me you’re a specialist and they wouldn’t have sent you in unprepared.”

“I told you, I was only contracted to do the other two. Make it look like a falling out between conspirators, they said. No need to be too tidy about it either, that’s what they told me; “Make the girl as messy as you can, so it looks like he did it” were their exact words, whatever that to meant. I assumed you were some sort of psycho, going on what I’d heard about how Braithwaite died, so they obviously wanted me to cut her up a bit.”

“Oh, charming!”

Carlisle shrugs indifferently and meets Cathy’s furious gaze.

“I’m not an animal, you’d have been dead first, if that makes you feel any better.”

“Strangely, no, it doesn’t. Adam, couldn’t you get him to shoot off a toe or something?”

“Hahaha, I don’t see why not.”

Adam looks at Carlisle and raises an amused eyebrow.

“What d’you reckon, wanna play for a toe.”

To Carlisle’s surprise and despite his obvious resistance, the pistol abruptly jerks away from his leg and his legs buckle, forcing him to one knee. He watches helplessly and lets out a grunt of pain as the hand holding the gun jabs the muzzle violently into the toe of his boot.

Cathy laughs nastily and claps her hands in appreciation.

“Ha! This is better than watching one of those hypnotists who can make you munch on an onion or moo like a cow.”

“Now, I’ll ask you again; What did they tell you about Subject:Beta?”

Carlisle looks blank, frowning in what seemed to be genuine puzzlement. He purses his lips and shakes his head at Adam.

“Nope, you’ve got me there…”

His wrist twists sharply, grinding the gun barrel into the top of his foot.

“Ow! Fuck. Wait, wait…isn’t that some hush-hush secret agent crap? Above my pay grade, I don’t ask for details, I just come in and do the job, I’m supposed to be retired, for fuck’s sake. This was going to be a quick in and out and home for breakfast type of job, I’m not being paid enough for this X-Files bullshit.”

“You know what, I think I believe you. But I’ll have the gun now, if you don’t mind. We don’t want you to do yourself an injury, do we?”

Patrick can see Carlisle relax as the gun lifts away from his foot, but he still watches with fascinated suspicion as his arm stretches up towards Adam. The tightly clenched fingers open of their own accord, releasing their grip on the butt of the pistol as Adam takes hold of the barrel.

“Thank you, now we can all converse like reasonable people, far more civilised.”

“Wait.”

Adam turns as Cathy stands up, walks over to the still-kneeling Carlisle and looks down at him with disdain.
Then she slaps him across the face.
Twice, forehand and backhand.
Hard.

“Ok, now we can converse like civilised people.”

*****

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

#SoCS

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Stream of consciousness Sunday: The Accumulator, part twenty nine…

Right, I don’t have much time, so let’s jump straight into today’s SoCS post, continuing this story by using Linda G Hill‘s prompt;

” “give/given/giving.” Begin your post with one of those words. Bonus points if you end your post with one as well. “

Ooh, bonus points, I like a challenge…

The Accumulator, part twenty nine.

Scene: Giving us a bird’s eye view of the darkened street, our POV glides silently along above the rooftops until it comes to a smooth halt, so we appear to be hovering unsupported, directly above one particular house. Then the camera goes into freefall and we find ourselves plunging downwards, spinning sickeningly.

Straight into the black hole of the chimney.

A rotating rectangle of light grows rapidly larger as we drop through the darkness, our descent slowing at the last moment, allowing the FX boys a smooth transition from CGI to live action as the camera emerges from the fireplace in Patrick and Cathy’s living room and drifts across to the open door, towards the sound of voices in the next room.

As we enter the kitchen, Patrick and Adam are arguing loudly, with Cathy’s voice raised above theirs in an attempt to enforce some order on the situation.

“Oh really, and who put you in charge all of sudden?”

“Look, all I’m saying is we should go over there and grab him, drag him in here and see what he knows…”

“Oh yes, brilliant idea, give him time to call for help as you go charging across the street at him. You’d have the whole bloody Department down on us in two minutes flat!”

“Come on guys, let’s calm down a bit, shall we?”

“We could creep up on him from behind, go over the back fence in the garden and come at him from the other end of the street…”

“You know there’s a bloody railway embankment on the other side of that fence, I take it? You hop over that, you’ll drop twenty feet straight down onto the tracks, that’s if you miss the power lines of course. Idiot.”

“Well you come up with a better plan then, if you’re so fucking clever!”

“Umm, Patrick, I think you’d better see this.”

Cathy has moved to the window and is peering through the blinds at something outside. She turns and looks at them with a worried expression, so Patrick joins her takes a look for himself.

“Oh, that’s not good.”

“What? What is it?”

Adam is heading for the window to see what all the fuss is about when he stops in his tracks and they all tense. The muffled, yet still very definite sound of breaking glass comes from somewhere down the hall.

Patrick motions for Cathy to stay where she is and beckons to Adam as he creeps towards the doorway.  The two uneasy allies take up position on either side of the open doorway and Cathy quickly runs to sit at the kitchen counter with her back to them, picking up a magazine which she begins to casually leaf through. They only have to wait a few seconds before stealthy footsteps approach, stopping abruptly on the threshold, presumably as the intruder spots Cathy. 

The first thing that comes into Patrick’s field of vision is a gun, swiftly followed by the hand that holds it and the rest of the assassin’s arm. Patrick sees the forefinger take up the trigger tension and he is about to make a grab for the arm, but never gets the chance.

There is a startled grunt from the doorway and the hand holding the gun starts to droop toward the floor. Patrick steps away from the wall and looks over at Adam, who is smiling in satisfaction; watching Carlisle’s shocked gaze as it follows his arm to the end of its ponderous arc, with the barrel pointing at his own kneecap. The strain shows on the gunman’s face as he fights to resist the unseen force, sweat standing out on his forehead, eyes darting this way and that, looking for escape.

Adam moves to stand in front of him and offers his hand in greeting.

“Oh I’m sorry, you seem to have your hands full. Hello there, I’m Adam, nice of you to drop in. Now, shall we have a game of truth or dare?”

Cathy grins at the bewildered Carlisle.

“Oh what fun. But I warn you, you better tell the truth, because I have a feeling you won’t like the dares you’ll be given.”

*****

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

#SoCS

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Stream of consciousness Sunday: The Accumulator, part twenty eight…

It’s a beautiful day and time to sit out in the garden and write this week’s SoCS post, continuing this story from where it left off two weeks ago, based today on Linda G Hill‘s prompt;

” “any.” Begin your post with the word “any.” Bonus points if you theme your post on another word that starts with “A”. “

Oh, is that all..?

The Accumulator, part twenty eight.

Scene: Patrick and Cathy’s kitchen.

“Any minute now, you’re going to tell me what the hell you’re doing in my house, I’m sure.”

Patrick keeps his voice calm, gazing steadily at Subject:Beta as he smiles at them from the doorway, his hand beneath the counter inching toward the drawer that holds his pistol.

“I’m here for the same reason you are, I imagine. Answers.”

Cathy turns and looks at Patrick, opens her mouth to say something, then closes it again without saying a word and goes back to glaring at not-Howard-anymore with deep suspicion.

Nobody says anything for a moment, then Subject:Beta suddenly claps his hands together, marches across the room and opens the door of the fridge. 

“Well if no-one is going to offer me a drink, I’ll get one myself.”

As he opens the fridge, he is momentarily obscured from Patrick’s view and Patrick takes the opportunity to grab the pistol and level it at the open door.

“Oh, Patrick, don’t be so tiresome.”

Subject:Beta closes the door, holding a can of beer in one hand and casually waves the other in a dismissive gesture. Patrick is flung heavily against the wall, the pistol flying from his hand and clattering across the tiled floor, disappearing under a laundry hamper in the corner.

From where Cathy sits, frozen in shock, she sees a shockwave thrown at Patrick, a rippling pulse in the air that lifts him off his feet and pushes him ahead of it; holding him for a second against the wall, his feet inches above the floor, before its force seems to dissipate and he drops to his knees, breathing heavily but otherwise unharmed.

“Please don’t let us get off on the wrong foot again, I’m not some comic book villain, you know. I told you, I just want answers.”

“Answers? Answers to what questions?”

“Well Cathy…I may call you Cathy?..I have no more knowledge of what has been done to me than you have, less in fact, since you were on my nursing staff, but all I want is to find the people responsible for my…condition..I have no wish to make the two of you my enemies.”

He looks over at Patrick, who is getting to his feet and watching him warily.

“I truly regret having to do that, Patrick, we just don’t have time for trust issues, I’m afraid, not when the same people are looking for both of us, and not with good intentions either.”

Patrick says nothing, but Subject:Beta catches him glancing over at the laundry hamper and he turns back to Cathy with a smile.

“Go ahead Patrick, collect your weapon, I’m in doubt we’ll be needing it before too long, anyway.”

Cathy can’t help herself and has to stifle a giggle at Patrick’s comical double take, but as their alleged new friend no longer seems to be paying him any attention, he moves quickly to pull the hamper away from the wall and retrieves the pistol from underneath. 

Without turning back round, Subject:Beta sits himself at the counter, opens the beer and takes a sip, closing his eyes in appreciation as Patrick walks over and takes a seat on the far end of the counter, his pistol trained on the intruder the whole time.

“Mmmm, that tastes so good, I haven’t been allowed a drink for I don’t know how long.”

“Yeah, it was the same when I was in…”

Patrick stops himself, but it’s too late, Subject:Beta looks up at him and smiles that disarming smile.

“It’s ok, Patrick, there’s no need to be ashamed of our similarities, our common origins, we can learn from each other, don’t you see?”

“I’m. Nothing. Like. You.” 

Patrick leans across the counter, jabbing the pistol in time with his words, but the man who is no longer Howard Grainger remains unfazed and continues talking as if the interruption didn’t happen.

“I know you somehow charged me with energy, back at the hospital, but that wasn’t your intention, was it? What were you doing there?”

“We were there to kill you, or to get you to kill and be killed.”

Patrick’s gaze is unflinching, but if the revelation concerns their visitor, he shows no sign of it and inclines his head, waiting for Patrick to elaborate.

“Oh for goodness sake, Patrick, we have to trust somebody, sometime.”

Cathy looks at him and smiles, a pleading look in her eyes. He looks back at her and sighs, lowering the gun, then rests his elbows on the counter top and wearily puts his head in his hands, massaging his temples in silence as Cathy reaches over and places her hand on his shoulder until he looks up at her.

After searching her face for any sign of hesitation, Patrick turns to the man he’d wanted to kill and tries to think where to begin.

“Ok, I’ll tell you what you want to know, as much as I know myself, which isn’t much. But first of all; you have to tell me how you do that shockwave thing…”
“You can compare superpowers later.”

Cathy rolls her eyes and looks at Patrick with an expression that says “Boys and their toys.” and he grins despite himself as she continues.

“Right now there’s a bad guy outside and we can do with all the help we can get from,…I’m sorry, what is your name, anyway? All it said on your charts was “Subject:Beta” and we can hardly call you that, can we?”

He looks puzzled for a moment, the loss of his own identity having slipped to the back of his mind, with nobody to conduct even the most mundane of conversations with for so long.

“Hmm, yes, a name, a name is an important thing…”

“How about Jonah?”

“Now now, Patrick, there’s no need to be unpleasant. Although I like the biblical reference, given the obvious God-complex of our creators. I am the first of my kind, it seems, unless you have discovered previously unknown talents in the last few minutes..?”

Patrick just stares at the grinning Man With No Name and waits for the inevitable punchline.

“Ok then, Adam it is.”

*****

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

#SoCS

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Stream of consciousness Sunday: The Accumulator, part twenty seven…

I wonder in which direction Linda G Hill is going to take us with her prompt for today’s SoCS post, so that we can discover what happens next in this continuing story. Let’s find out together, shall we?

” “man.” Use it as a word by itself or find a word with “man” in it. “

Hmm, easy enough…

The Accumulator, part twenty nine.

Scene: The darkened interior of a parked car at night. It is two weeks later.
There is a man behind the wheel of the car, dressed in dark clothes and a black woollen cap, he is studying the house across the street through a pair of compact binoculars. 

As he lowers the glasses and studies a folder on his lap, we barely have time to wonder who he is before the picture is replaced for a few seconds by;

and we have our answer.

The director now provides us with a mini backstory sequence, introducing us to this unexpected new character, who…

…checked the time and shifted in his seat, trying to ease the ache in his back as he reviewed what he knew about this latest, desperately urgent job they needed him for, and right when he’d managed to schedule a couple of weeks off to unwind and play a bit of golf, too, so it’d better be really bloody important, or somebody was going to be getting an unsanctioned visit when they weren’t expecting it.

It wasn’t like he needed the money or anything, he was doing quite nicely thank you very much, but saying no to The Department, no matter how exemplary your service record, was never a good idea and “retired” usually meant something far more terminal when it came to severing your contractual obligations with them.
So Carlisle maintained a cordial relationship with his unofficially former employer and carried on a perfectly legitimate career in private security, on the understanding that, should the need ever arise for his services, he would return to work as a sub-contractor for the duration of the job, subject to the usual terms and conditions, of course.

He didn’t usually bother about the “big picture” when he was called in to do these last minute rush jobs; he’d just turn up, eliminate the sanctioned target, clean up if that was part of the job, make a nasty mess if that was required instead and dispose of anything that needed disposing of.
Then he would go back to his comfortable life in suburbia, fleecing stock brokers for extortionate security consultations, raking in easy money fitting burglar alarms for paranoid golf widows, sheltering in their gilded cages while their fat cat husbands screwed around with their secretaries.

He’d heard some crazy shit about this job on the grapevine and you would have needed to be deaf and blind to miss the news of Felix Braithwaite’s horrific death at the hospital, so Carlisle didn’t think a few sensible precautions were a bad idea, before he went strolling in there and found something he wasn’t equipped to deal with.

Frankly though, he thought all these rumours about strange powers and secret projects was just so much bullshit, to distract the authorities from whatever The Department were really up to. A good story for the papers to get their teeth into, some sensationalist opium for the sheeple, a sleight of hand trick, nothing more.

Still, people who he wouldn’t generally credit with much in the way of imagination had told him things you would need a lot of imagining to come up with, stuff you’d think was stupid if you saw it in a horror movie, so he’d have to play it by ear.

*****

Patrick allowed the edge of the kitchen blind to fall back into place and turned to look at Cathy, who was watching him with an anxious expression.

“You’re right, yes, there’s somebody parked a little way down on the opposite side of the road. Can’t make out who it is, but it doesn’t look like the police to me.”

Cathy looked even less happy at this news than she had been when she’d noticed the car earlier.

“Well we know what that means, don’t we?”

“Yes, they’ve finally managed to track us down, we need to get ready to move.”

“That sounds like a very good idea, mind if I tag along?”

Patrick and Cathy both spin round in shock at the sound of the voice, coming from the door to the living room.

“Don’t look like that, I’m not going to bite, aren’t you going to offer me a drink before we go?”

Howard Grainger, aka Subject:Beta, grins cheerfully at them from the doorway, as the screen fades to black.

***********

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

#SoCS

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Stream of consciousness Sunday: The Accumulator, part twenty six…

The first of two posts today, so SoCS might be somewhat shorter than usual, we’ll just have to see what prompt Linda G Hill has provided me with, to continue this story;

” “short.” Use it any way you’d like. “

Pretty straightforward, for a change…

The Accumulator, part twenty six.

Scene: An underground hospital car park at night. It is 36 hours ago.

As we see the lights of a vehicle approaching down the entrance ramp, the camera moves so that our view is partially obscured by a concrete pillar, making it clear that our POV is that of someone who doesn’t want to be seen.

A car comes into view, turns into a parking space close to a door marked Stairs and after a few seconds, the driver’s door opens and a middle aged man in the uniform of a hospital orderly gets out. He walks to the rear of the car, opens the boot and removes a sports bag, where he seems to be searching for something. As he leans over, looking into the bag, our POV moves from our hiding place and rapidly advances on the unwary man, who senses someone behind him at the last minute and begins to turn round.

He’s too late; we see a hand reach out, grip his shoulder at the base of his neck and the man collapses heavily against his car, jerking once or twice before laying still. 

The hand’s owner looks around, checking he is still unobserved and in the process, catches his reflection in a car windscreen. Now the director pulls one of his favourite tricks and zooms in on the reflection, so that we can see it is the man formerly called Howard Grainger, now simply known as Subject:Beta; but when the shot widens out again we are no longer seeing the world from Howard’s perspective, we are once again passive observers in his story.

Howard bends down and quickly removes the unconscious man’s clothes, then heaves him unceremoniously into the boot and closes the lid. He changes into the uniform, stuffing his own clothes into the sports bag, which he throws onto the back seat and locks the car with keys he found in the man’s jacket pocket, before checking his reflection once more and heading for the stairs.

Scene: A busy ICU nurses station.

We see a number of uniformed police being briefed by a senior officer, while doctors, nurses and porters talk in hushed tones, occasionally glancing over at the dramatic activity taking place in their hospital. The news of Subject:Beta’s dramatic escape is beginning to filter through to the hospital staff and rumors are already starting to spread, so everyone is far too busy gossiping to notice one more orderly, coming through the door from the stairwell and slipping into Patrick’s room.

We see Howard/Subject:Beta enter the room from overhead and close the door quietly behind him. He stands there, silently watching the sleeping figure for signs of movement, then he moves to the side of the bed and fingers the handcuff chain, smiling to himself.

“You have the answers, don’t you, Mr mystery man?”

When Patrick doesn’t stir, Howard leans over and places a hand on his cheek. Patrick’s body stiffens slightly beneath the smooth white sheets, but otherwise he appears to remain peacefully asleep. Howard closes his eyes and his face takes on a look of concentration; a frown creases his forehead and he tilts his head to one side as though listening to something only he can hear, then he smiles again and opens his eyes, lifting his hand from Patrick’s cheek.

“I have to go now, I think they’re tightening up security since I absconded,” he rattles the cuffs again, “and it looks like they’ve got you secured for a while. But I think it’ll only be a short time until you’re better now and you seem the resourceful type, I’m sure we’ll meet again soon.”

The man who The Department had created and christened Subject:Beta opens the door and looks out into the corridor then, with a last glace back at the bed, he slips out and the door closes behind him.

Now the shot tightens, slowly pulling us down towards Patrick, until his sleeping face fills the screen. 

Nothing happens for maybe fifteen seconds, then, imperceptibly at first, the deeply drawn lines on Patrick’s face seem to soften and the hollowness of his cheeks appears less pronounced, his hair is already a shade darker and he continues to look more like his former self, as the scene fades to black.

**********

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

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Stream of consciousness Sunday: The Accumulator, part twenty five…

Time to continue this strange tale, as part of SoCS, this week using the inspiration provided by Linda G Hill and this prompt;

” “project.” Use it as a verb, a noun, or both. “

Right, let’s get this show on the road…

The Accumulator, part twenty five.

Scene: The nurses station of a hospital ICU. It is two days later.

The camera executes a slow, dramatic 360° pan around the bustling lobby as we see; a circular reception desk staffed by civilian administrators and nurses, a team of paramedics rushing past with a stretcher, a group of doctors consulting medical charts, a seating area where anxious relatives wait for news of loved ones and, incongruous amongst all the white coats, two uniformed and armed police officers, standing guard outside a private room a little way down one of the four corridors that converge here.

After completing a full circuit of the lobby, the camera glides down the main corridor until it reaches a door marked Stairs and as we draw level the door opens and we see Cathy, dressed in her nurse’s uniform, cautiously look both ways down the passageway then duck back inside. A second later the door opens again and Cathy re-emerges, this time with a little more difficulty as she is pushing a wheelchair. 

Cathy leaves the chair by the door to the stairs and walks to the nurses station where she makes small talk with a couple of orderlies while making herself a coffee in the small kitchen area. After a few minutes one of the orderlies looks down as a beeper goes off on his belt, checks the message and nudges his colleague. The pair drain their drinks and toss the cups in the trash before leaving as Cathy glances at her watch before turning her attention to the police sentries.

Having studied their routine for the last two days, she’s fairly confident that…Yes, here he goes…one of them will go on a lunch run to the canteen, Cathy’s one window of opportunity.

Not even waiting for him to reach the bank of elevators, which will take the policeman down the two floors he needs to get to the canteen, Cathy hurries back to where she left the wheelchair and quickly ducks through the door into the stairwell. This time however, the camera goes after her and we follow Cathy, crossing the landing and unhesitatingly punching the red EMERGENCY button next to the fire escape, immediately setting off the hospital’s alarm system.

She goes to collect the wheelchair and heads quickly but calmly back to the lobby, turning the corner to see the single police sentry looking concerned and alert, hand on the butt of his sidearm as he scans the corridor for danger. 

Cathy keeps walking and smiles nervously, slowing down as she passes him, nodding back the way she has come.

“Some drama going on down there, I expect that’s where you friend is, is it?”

“I’m sorry?”

“Oh it’s none of my business, of course, I just thought that since you were on your own, maybe your partner was dealing with the security breach.”

“Security breach?” 

He seems unsure, but the alarm still sounds and hospital staff are going through emergency procedures, so he comes to a decision and looks at Cathy.

“You’re the one who treats him aren’t you?” He jerks a thumb at the closed door he’s guarding and she nods, “Keep an eye on him, don’t let anyone in, I’ll be two minutes.”

Without waiting for a reply, he sprints off towards the lobby and vanishes round a corner, which Cathy takes as her cue to proceed. She opens the door to Patrick’s room, pushes the wheelchair inside and we watch the door slowly swing shut. 

The camera remains steadily focussed on the closed door for about fifteen seconds, during which time we see a couple of nurses walk past, then the door opens and Cathy appears, pushing a figure in the wheelchair. It is apparent to any casual observer that the patient has suffered terrible injuries, since his entire head is swathed in bandages, with only small slits for his eyes, nose and mouth and with the hands tightly bandaged it suggests they are a burns victim.

Cathy wheels her silent charge along the corridor to the elevators, where she stands waiting for what feels like forever, her heart pounding in her chest, until the doors slide open and she pushes Patrick inside. 

The shot stays fixed on the elevators and we see Cathy and Patrick facing us from inside the one on the left, as the doors on the right also slide open. We see the second policeman stepping out of the right-hand elevator, carrying a tray of food and drink and he steps out into the corridor as the doors of Cathy and Patrick’s elevator slide closed.

The scene cuts to the interior of the elevator, where we see Patrick standing up and tugging at the bandages on his hands, as Cathy unwraps the ones from around his head. Cathy then pulls a doctor’s white coat and stethoscope from the back of the wheelchair and Patrick shrugs into it just as the elevator stops and the doors open onto the ground floor reception area.

Leaving the wheelchair and the pile of bandages in the elevator, they stroll casually across the lobby towards the main entrance and step out into the sunshine, where Cathy lets out a sigh of relief. She takes Patrick’s hand and turns to him as they walk quickly away from the hospital.

“So, what now?”

“Now? Now we have to put a stop to Dr Felix Braithwaite’s final science project.”

**********

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

#SoCS

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March of the Internet Nobody, day four: Sender…

For the fourth time I’m going forth, on my quest to bring my forte to the fore, and I’ve decided to try a short story, so here goes…

Sender.

The first thing he felt, as he came round from whatever they’d stuck him with on the bridge, was a heavy weight on his legs, pinning him down. He did a slow inventory of body parts and decided that he was more or less in one piece, but couldn’t move his legs or right arm. His outstretched left arm, he could move freely enough, albeit only a short distance before his fingers encountered something that felt like cheap carpet. It was dark, although he could see a flicking orange light, coming from somewhere above or behind him, it was difficult to tell, he was still badly disoriented and was having trouble making sense of where he was.

His right arm was pinned against his side, by whatever obstruction had immobilized his legs, so he explored as far as he could with his left hand; thumping the carpeted surface with his fist produced a hollow, vaguely metallic sound and he found a strap of some sort with a square metal buckle on the end. 

Aha, trapped legs, seatbelt, cheap carpet; I’ve been in a car crash.

He was becoming more aware of his surroundings by the minute, as the fog in his brain cleared and now he realised he could smell petrol. More worryingly, he could smell something burning nearby, the acrid fumes of melting plastic making him cough and bringing tears to his eyes. Again he tried to move his legs, achieving nothing more than straining muscles and making red spots dance in front of his eyes, so he forced himself to calm down. Then he had a horrible thought and twisted awkwardly, reaching his free arm across his body, the restricted movement just allowing him to feel the hard lump of the thumb drive in his jacket pocket. He relaxed, at least they hadn’t found that yet.

Which was when he noticed that sound was coming back and it was then that it occurred to him; his world had been cloaked in silence since he’d awoken here and it was only now that his hearing was returning. He heard the unmistakable crackling of a fire behind him and a muffled voice was now audible from somewhere overhead.

“Hello, is anyone in there, are you ok? Hello, hello, can you hear me?”

“Hey!” 

He pounded once more on what he guessed must be the floor of the overturned vehicle, desperate to attract the attention of whoever was outside.

“I’m in here!”

He paused to listen for a second or two and hearing nothing, was about to begin yelling again when the voice of a child was suddenly, shockingly close to his right ear. 
“It’s ok, I can see you now.”

He turned his head to the side, noticing for the first time a small triangular hole where the door frame was crushed, through which, by the wavering orange light of the flames he saw the wide-eyed face of a little girl. She gazed at him with her head on one side, frowning with an intensity he found slightly unnerving, so he smiled reassuringly and tried again.

“Hello, are your mummy and daddy here?”

The little girl, no older than ten years old, remained silent, looking him straight in the eye.

“You shouldn’t be near the fire, it’s dangerous, can you call your parents for me?”

“Are you going to die? You are, aren’t you?” 

He was shocked at the causal way she asked the question, her voice was cold, detached. Then he realised she was probably in shock; maybe the vehicle he had been travelling in had collided with her parents’ car and they were laying injured somewhere like him.

“I need you to find another grown-up, I need help getting free from the car.”

“There’s only me.”

He looked at her face, she didn’t seem injured at all, but there was something..off..about the emotionless voice and quizzical stare.

“Do you have a phone?”

“No, there’s only me, there isn’t anyone else.”

She looked up, her face disappearing from his line of sight for a few seconds, then she turned back to him and inspected the gap in the door. She grabbed the edge of the window frame and gave it an experimental tug. The door moved a couple of inches with a groan of twisted metal but then stuck fast against the tarmac and refused to budge when she heaved on it the second time.

Suddenly there was a roaring WHUMP! noise from the rear of the vehicle and the orange glow instantly rose to a bright glare, illuminating the girl’s face as she stared into his eyes.

“I can’t save you, I’m sorry.”

He wrenched at his trapped legs in frustration, desperately twisting this way and that in a vain attempt to escape a fiery death, then the sound of the flames rose to a roar and he stopped struggling and made his final decision. Looking at the strangely calm little girl’s face, he reached into his jacket and removed the thumb drive and held it out to her.

“You must go now, the car is going to blow up, you must run away, you understand? Take this, take it, that’s right. Can you remember a name for me, just one name?”

“Yes, I have a very good memory.”

The girl’s face breaks into a broad smile, one of her top teeth is missing, he notices, as the flames bathe her in their unforgiving light, making her grin lopsided.

“Take this, it’s for a man called Fallon, Mike Fallon, he works for the government, can you remember that?”

A loud hissing noise starts to rise in volume behind him and he knows the tank is about to go, but now he feels unnaturally calm, resigned to his fate.

“You must go, now. Remember; Mike Fallon, ask a grown-up, maybe they can get policeman to help find him. Now, RUN!

He lies back and closes his eyes, he’d done all he could do, he’d made peace with it and now he waited for the end without fear.

Something is…what the..?..how..?

He opened his eyes and gasped in shock.

He was lying on a hard metal table, topped with cheap carpet, the sort you might find in a car, perhaps. A wide metal plate was clamped across his legs and a strap held one arm tightly against his side. A chair was placed next to the bed, but other than that, the room was empty.

He heard a noise behind him and twisted his neck round, straining painfully to see who was there.

“Who’s there, where am I?”

 “It’s only me, don’t you worry.”

He craned his neck still further and saw the little girl with the gap-toothed smile, opening a door in the room’s blank white wall. She held up the thumb drive and grinned again, but this time it didn’t look so sweet.

“Mike Fallon, you said? Thank you so much, I’m sure everyone will be very pleased, they were jolly keen to know who had been naughty.”

With that she stepped out of the room and closed the door.

*****

In a darkened observation room next door, two men watched the bewildered agent in satisfaction as he struggled against his restraints. Then, as two large men dressed in black fatigues entered the room and approached the table, he started to shout and swear furiously and one of the watchers leant over and turned off the monitor. 

“Very impressive, how did she manage it?”

“The girl’s a Sender, she can put pretty much anything in your head and make you believe it, we have had some exceptional results from her.”

“And him, what will he remember of all this?”

“Oh, you shouldn’t concern yourself with such things, sir Malcolm. Now, shall we have a spot of lunch?”

***********

 

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