Reflections Of The Past

 

Reflections Header

 

 

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 1

 


The Dog on the Pond had always been where they met to settle there differences. Some architect a few centuries back had designed and built it in tribute to the “Great Reveal”, shortly before throwing himself from its highest point into the lake below. His body was never found. To a knowledgeable eye it may have resembled something like a dog, but they might have needed a few clues. To Captain Nancy Ashworth, even if she cared, she couldn’t possibly say, since she’d never seen a dog in her life. After all they’d been extinct for as long as anyone living could remember.
As the Hierophants Aircar drifted silently above the lakes surface, she looked over and winked at Sergeant Jake Ashworth; her partner now of ten years, in love and the Elite Guard. Soon they would be left to growl at the Keeper’s people, while guarding the dignitaries from the possibility of terrorist attack. Personally she trusted the Deanites less, at least she could treat the terrorist openly as enemies; the people of the Confederacy were not to be trusted. They would always let you down in the end.
Finally, as the Aircar came in for docking Nancy readied her Mercedes-15; the most deadly firearm known to man, particularly at close quarters. They entered by what if Nancy was figuring it right would have been the location of the dog’s anus, she wondered if this was some final joke of the nameless architect, or some comment on politicians always taking you up the shitter?

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


“Honoured guests, I call to order this convocation of these two great nations and may wisdom & good sense prevail this day. Greetings to both John Paul the 36th, Hierophant of the Holy Hoodie and Head of the McQueen Commonwealth and to Lord Simon Craigidoodle, Keeper of the Cardie Code and Lord of the Confederacy of Dean. I, Mike Barnes, Guardian of the Lime Archives, will stand as arbiter on this day to bring peace to the satisfaction of both parties.”
The old man droned on and on, even the Hierophant in his gleaming gold and white hoodie, looked bored. Nancy wished she’d drawn duty outwith the Convocation Chamber just like Jake, but that was the Hierophants decision. She looked around the seedy oak-panelled chamber, which appeared quite cramped for such a meeting. Allegedly the unnamed architect had drawn upon descriptions and drawing of the original Dog on the Pond as inspiration for this chamber. To Nancy it just looked like a Bar and not a particularly nice one.
Eventually the old man sat down and Lord Simon Craigidoodle was the first to his feet.
“It is plain that as in the past, it has become in the present. Factions within the Hierophants people are giving succour to the Spoke Hegemony Army of Genocide. Providing them with supplies of weaponry and munitions to launch attacks on Confederacy targets, while absolving himself of all personal blame. This will not be tolerated!” The sacred Snowflake crosier was being waved about in his hand, and Nancy inched her hand slightly closer to her M-15’s trigger. It was alleged the crosier could fire a freezing blast, which could reduce an object to solid ice in a nanosecond.
The Hierophant rose to his full six feet five, shaking in righteous anger.
“If you called us here, merely to make unfounded, unsubstantiated accusation then this convocation might as well end here. The McQueen Commonwealth has also suffered from such attacks, although we do not feel the need to blame it on a ghostly army. After all the last of Spoke Hegemony died out over fifty years ago, when you’re people dropped the 50 Megaton Bomb “Big Skank” on their capital city. As for a surviving Army of Genocide, no evidence has ever been found of their existence, or even that their supposed leader Dr Elliott Bevan is still alive.”
The Keeper was about to respond when sounds of gunfire were heard from outside the chamber. The chamber descended into Chaos, as the dignitaries and their flunkies dived for cover, and guards from both sides ran for the doors. Suddenly the doors burst open, showering all in its path with wooded shrapnel. Nancy had been running behind one of the Keepers men, who collapsed to the ground. She stepped thoughtlessly over his body, taking in the scene without.
The stairway leading up to “The Mouth” balcony had been demolished in an explosion, several unidentifiable limbs lay littered among the broken masonry. Nancy would not allow panic to overtake her; she knew Jake could not be among them. She felt a presence at her side and turned to see Sergeant Sarah Fisher by her side. They nodded, and then proceeded cautiously in a pincer movement up the remains of the staircase.
At the top of the stairwell she found Jake covering a dishevelled figure at gunpoint. The dark-haired figure, was sporting the uniform of the Hierophants staff, but Nancy did not recognise him. Clutched in his hand was a spherical device she did not recognise, but by the way he held it and the fact that her lover had not shot him yet; suggested that Jakes Specialist Weapons Tech training might be coming in handy.
“You alright Sergeant?” queried Nancy.
“Don’t come any closer or I’ll let this go!” whined the dark haired figure, as he edged closer to the balcony.
“Fine Captain!” clipped Jake. “Just having a discussion with our friend with the Warp Grenade here!”
“And I’m not afraid to use it…” Although the undertone of fear in voice might indicate different. But a Warp Grenade, Nancy had heard about them, and it wasn’t worth taking any chances. A nuclear device that could wipe out a controlled, designated area; meanwhile warping the remaining energy from the explosion off into deep space somewhere. But they were a technology outlawed by both nations, a technology developed by the same Dr Elliot Bevan they had just been discussing in the Chamber.
Just at that a movement from the staircase caught the dark haired terrorists attention, and Nancy heard somebody behind her load a chamber.. As if in slow motion Nancy watched the panic sprint across the terrorist face, as Jake raced towards him. Before she could cry out, never mind move; Jake had thrown himself at the dark-haired figure and both of them had spiralled over the lip of the balcony.
Mere seconds later a quiet thud, followed by a bright burst of light from below and suddenly the underside of the balcony buckled forcing Nancy to brace herself and grab onto the balcony, as a parasol flew past her head. Once the edifice stopped shaking, she turned over and looked below to the lapping waves of the lake against the Dog. The front of the Dog had a large gaping hole in it, other than that there was nothing or no one to be seen. Nancy felt a single tear run down her cheek.

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


(Two Months Later)
The laboratory looked like something from a Mad Scientist’s wet dream. All glittering glass columns with coruscating light and energy dancing within. The ceiling covered in a meshed copper dome from which dangled globes of various coloured liquids, some of which seemed to contain moving creatures.
The young man, rushed anxiously into the chamber. Spike Fox had dreamed all his life of working with cutting edge scientists, but had never expected in his wildest imaginings to end up where he had been for the last six months. Working with the bona-fide genius Dr Elliot Bevan, listening and working with him for a week had taught him far more about the boundaries of science that his entire education upto that point.
But not only was the doctor a genius and once of the most radical thinkers of the last century, but he was also a great man. He had a dream! A dream that he had only recently chose to share with Spike. A dream of a better world. A world without two nations constantly engaged in some level of conflict, but united in love!
“Dr Bevan? We’ve received some worrying news from our sources in Leigh City!” The young man was incapable of hiding his concern, which was written large across his face. Dr Bevan clucked admonishment as he walked round from behind the table.
“Calm down Spike. We are always receiving worrying reports, as the world is a place of worry. Soon though we will try to change that.” He laid a comforting hand on the young man’s shoulder.
“But Dr Bevan, they say they have put a price on your head and they have taken out one of our safe houses. That could lead them here, we need to leave!” His eyes pleaded with the doctor, but he just shook his head, his manner not having altered even remotely.
“We cannot Spike I am so close to perfecting the temporal device. Then we will be able to fix the present by changing the past. If we leave now, we would need to leave so much behind. We need look to the Force to watch over us and guide our hand.” Spike seemed to collapse inwards, as he realised the futility of trying to persuade his mentor in this matter. “Now come Spike, keep me company while I make the final adjustment to the devices. Tell me why you believe our plans will be successful. I need to believe that you believe that!”
Spike licked his lips slowly before commencing, “Well, our entire society is based on the teachings of the Lime Archives, which tell of the time before the Apocalypse, before society had to rebuild from the ashes. Those teachings tell us that the two greatest figures from the Before Time; John Paul McQueen and Craig Dean, shaped the world around them to make their love possible. The world has never known such love before and probably never will again. However all this went wrong with the Betrayal at the Airport, depending on whose version you believe; either Craig would not submit himself to John Paul’s greatness or chose his brother over John Paul. This is the central schism of our world, that the two nations cannot be united because a mystical event prophesied in the Archives called the Sunset Ending never came to pass and this may or may not have led to the Apocalypse itself; theologians differ on this point.
“Our ancestors, the people of the Spoke Hegemony, were a breakaway group from both nations that tried to find a third way; to live in harmony. But we were betrayed and the Confederacy of Craig, having grown jealous of our burgeoning economy and scientific advances, found cause to make war upon us. Few of us survived, however those who did, still kept the dream alive; and though we now live in hiding the Spoke Hegemony Army of Genesis believe that if somehow the Betrayal at the Airport could be prevented then our society would be changed for the better.”
Dr Bevan was quiet for a moment, as he repeatedly tapped a finger against a meter that didn’t seem to be giving him the reading he expected or wanted. Slowly he reached up and removed his woolly hat, scratching his head.
“Good answer Spike, you can quote you textbooks. However you avoided all the difficult questions. What do you say to those who say that our mission is doomed to
Spike was shocked and unable to form a single word for several seconds. “…Yyyou speak of the Hollyoaks Heresy! Doctor, surely nobody believes that fabrication. The idea that the story of John Paul & Craig was simply some elaborate make believe entertainment and not actually real! That was a rumour started by the Confederacy of Craig to undermine the Hierophants claims to divine right to rule, from the ascended John Paul.”
Dr Bevan stopped what he was doing and actually looked at Spike properly for the first time. At last seeming satisfied, he sighed and turned away. “I take great comfort from your certitude Spike; it’s matters like that, that keep me up at night. However we can always look to the young to renew our faith in the Force.” He smiled wanly and gave a slight grunt as he made a final adjustment to the device.
Walking round the table something caught his attention out the side of his eye, but he quickly covered his shock and Spike didn’t seem to notice.
“Come here Spike! Take of your lab coat!” He took the white coat from him and placed it purposefully over the TV monitor that sat facing away upon the desk. “I think we are ready to trial the device, maybe just a short jump back in time for now.” Dr Bevan clipped the Copper circlet around Spikes upper arm before he could react.
“And when we do make the leap back doctor, you’ve managed to calculate how far back to go, by carbon dating from the Lime Archives. So we’ll be able to arrive before the Betrayal at the Airport? Won’t we?” Spike turned as he though he heard a loud rapport from somewhere else in the building. Dr Bevan pulled him back round with unexpected firmness for a man in his fifties.
“Don’t pull away like that, and do stop jabbering Spike, this is a very delicate piece of equipment. Now once again you have my complete trust and I have yours. So there is nothing more to be said than see you soon.” He quickly hugged the young man, and before he had the chance to say any more hit a button on the device and Spike disappeared from in front of him.

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


Dr Bevan sat waiting expectantly; it had been about half an hour since he sent his young protégé into the deepest darkest past. He prayed to the Force it was all he had hoped for.
Suddenly the doors burst open, the body of the last of his people clattering across the floor ending up against one of the glass pillars. A woman in black body armour strode into the room, walking immediately over to the recumbent Dr Bevan.
“Dr Elliot Bevan?” She asked.
“If you kill me Captain, I will become more powerful than you can ever imagine..”, was his final words as Captain Nancy Ashworth’s fired her M-15 and a smouldering woolly hat drifted slowly to the floor.
She walked over to the table, lifting the lab coat away to reveal the security screen. She pressed a couple of buttons changing the image first to that of the lab, then running backward through time to discover the cause of her unease. The taking of the facility had all seemed too easy, almost orchestrated to happen to some sort of master plan. Eventually she reached the point where Spike had disappeared, she ran it back until Spike entered the room and watched and listened attentively.
When she was finished she turned to the table and saw sitting upon it a similar circlet to the one that Spike had used to escape. It occurred to her momentarily to wonder why if he had a second working circlet, the doctor had not used it to escape… But by then a plan had started to formulate in her head.
“Captain Fisher!” Sarah entered the room, alert and prepared for anything. “Begin evacuation of the facility, I believe we may have triggered some sort of self destruct device.” Sarah clipped her heals, swivelled and marched brusquely out of the room.
Nancy knew what had to be done, however if she took it to her superiors, they would either prevaricate until it was all too late or refuse to send her. She was the only one willing to do what needed to be done. She clipped on the second circlet around her arm. By the time they realised there was no self destruct device it would be to late to stop her. A terrorist had gone back to destroy the past, bringing about a new Apocalypse. And Captain Nancy Ashworth had to find and stop him at any cost, before it was too late.
She pressed a button on the circlet and the world around her spun.

 

 

 

Chapter 2

 

 

 

It was a crazy old statue that adorned the centre of a shabby old fountain. It had seen many a strange thing in it’s time; heartache, betrayal, lovemaking, even murder once upon a time. However probably the strangest was when a figure in black armour appeared out of mid air and collapsed into the local pond.

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


Newt was watching from his window, the utter tedium and boredom that people thought passed for life in Hollyoaks. The only person who he found even remotely interesting, a girl called Lauren Valentine, was off doing some family stuff she couldn’t escape from. So he was left to wallow here, but it was safer than wandering the streets; some of the other lads at school still wanted to pan his face in. But he was just adjusting his digital camcorder to film more of what passed for absolutely nothing happening around here, when a black shape suddenly appeared about two feet above the pond, seemed almost to consider hovering for a second, then acknowledged gravity’s superiority in the argument and fell into the pond.
He stared dumbstruck for a few seconds, then scrabbled for the camera to see if it had recorded the only thing interesting to happen here since he arrived.
“Shit!” He’d had it on pause.

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


Suddenly the earth was rushing up towards him, he was completely disorientated and no time to prepare himself for an unexpected impact, with no idea how long the fall would last. As it was it lasted a mere fraction of a second, as he impacted with the concrete surface.
Spike heard a crack then a tinkling of glass beside him. However his head was spinning from the fall and it took him a few second to be capable of focusing on what was the cause of the aural discordance.
When he did he wished he hadn’t! When he fell he had landed on his side, on the side where Dr Bevan had placed the Temporal Device. The glass panel on its front had been smashed and a silvery substance was leaking from its inner workings. However he would need to worry about that later, he could here voices raised in shouting nearby and he hadn’t even established his surroundings.
He was in an alleyway, the noises were coming from one end of which. He edged slowly along the wall until he could see what was the cause of the commotion, what he saw caused him to duck back into the cover of the now far to exposed alleyway.
He had just seen a figure being dragged from a body of water, a figure wearing black armour, black armour Spike recognised as that of the Hierophants guard.

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


Elliot was late. This wasn’t in itself unusual, he frequently found himself getting distracted by things and letting them take up his attention to such a point that the world around him became almost ephemeral. But since he’d been late the last three times he was due to meet John Paul, John Paul had threatened that next time he was late he would invite Zac along and they would force him to sit and listen to them discuss Liverpool F.C. all night.
He turned into the alley leading to the Dog, when he stopped in his tracks. There was a guy at the other end of the alleyway acting very suspiciously. It was almost as if he was both hiding from someone and watching them at the same time. Elliot was about to retreat and avoid the embarrassment of a confrontation, when something distracted him again.
He noticed that the stranger’s clothing, despite the fact it was raining gently today, was completely dry. Also that it was made of some sort of shiny material that had the look of plastic, but the flexibility of cotton or polyester. But that, wasn’t what distracted him, it was the fact that the fabric for want of a better word seemed to change colour in random patterns as the figure stood there. And he could see all this clearly in the slightly shadowed alleyway.
To late again Elliot snapped out of his reverie, as the stranger began backing down the alley, while turning at the same time. The end result of which was him careening into Elliot, sending them both scrabbling for purchase on the alley wall.

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


Spike stumbled awkwardly into the young man blocking his path.
“I’m so sorry!” said the young man.
But Spike couldn’t respond; he was staring into a face he knew so well, a great deal younger without any of the wrinkles and the hair was light brown instead of snow white although the woolly hat was similar, and yet that wasn’t possible.
“Doc..tor Bevan?” stammered Spike.
“Not yet, I don’t think! Just plain Elliot. Do I know you? Are you at HCC?” The young man stared at him curiously.
Spike composed himself, suddenly intimately aware of the danger of his situation. He could be unnecessarily polluting the timeline. After all his whole purpose in being here may be to change the course of history to allow John Paul & Craig to be together, but that didn’t mean taking unnecessary risks.
“Yeah, sure! I just moved here last week, been trying to find my way around!”
“By bumping into people. How’s that working out for you?” Elliot suddenly got a look on his face, that on a different animal you might have called cunning. “You’re not a Liverpool fan by any chance?”
“No, sorry!” The safe answer. That’s what they told you in the Torture training, if they ask you a question about something that you knew nothing about, give the answer that closes down the possibility of continuing that line of enquiry… Or something like that, he never really enjoyed Torture training, something about the name. Anyway he was only a lab technician, who would want to torture information out of him?
“Great!” Not the response Spike expected, he seemed genuinely pleased at this answer. “Then your coming with me lad. I’m taking you to the pub, to help in your finding your way around and to hopefully prevent me from getting bored to tears by football! What’s your name by the way, since you already know mine?”

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


Newt had his camcorder at the ready. Jack had made some casual admonishment about not disturbing her, but he had seen her first. And now Jack had returned to the Bar!
Jack, Darren & Gilly had all ran from the Dog at the loud splash. Gilly had dived in and between them they had managed to haul the figure from the water. She, for it turned out to be a young woman, had swallowed a few mouthfuls of water and Jack had used his first aid training to put her in the recovery position and then pulling her legs upto her stomach, facilitated the expulsion of said fluid. However she had still been much weakened and disorientated.
Jack had suggested phoning an ambulance, but at that she had rallied sufficiently to say that wasn’t necessary, she simply needed a chance to recover.
Looking back on it, the surrealist aspect of the whole event, had been that none of them had thought to ask what a woman in black Body armour was doing in the middle of Hollyoaks village in the first place?
But now Newt listened at the door to Steph’s room, where she had been left to lie down and recover. He could here the sounds of gentle breathing. He edged open the door and peaked inside; she seemed to be asleep, the body armour lay in a neat pile in one corner, several items he couldn’t identify lay on the bedside table.
Readying his camcorder, Newt proceeded into the room. He crept over towards the Black Armour first; it looked incredible, like something out of a Samurai movie, but more snugly fitting, like the get up from the video for “From Yesterday”.
“Is this the garb of some deranged lunatic, bent on revenge for her families’ honour? Or more likely the sad reflection of a Suit with a weird fantasy obsession that she only indulges on weekends to distract from the tedium of her life.”
He turned and took a tracking shot of the figure laying supine on the bed.
“The Sleeping beauty will not be woken so easily. For she has suffered great hardship already and it would not do to awaken her to the mind numbing reality that is Hollyoaks village.”
Finally he approached the items on the bedside cabinet; a small metallic case that may be for make-up, a knife and a black box with a single light blinking on it (possibly a particularly bulky pager).
“Now we start to see, she knows disappointment like the rest, life has no deeper meaning and we all die in the e….” A Hand shot out from under the covers and grabbed the arm with the camcorder.
“What the fuck do you think you’re doing going over my gear?”

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


Spike had to swallow hard, when he saw the sign hanging above the entrance to the building. “The Dog on the Pond”. So this was it? He was really here, in Hollyoaks? Until now, he couldn’t be sure; he felt a sense of growing excitement. At any moment he could bump into John Paul McQueen or Craig Dean or any of a number of other less important people.
Elliot had turned when he noticed his new “friend” had stopped unexpectedly. “You coming?” Spike nodded ascent and they continued indoors.
Spike had never been in the conference hall of the future Dog on the Pond, but he had seen pictures and this was uncannily similar. Whoever that mysterious architect was, he’d been working from a pretty accurate description. Over behind the bar, the older man would be Jack Osborne, the younger his son Darren. The remainder of the patrons he couldn’t be sure of, until he turned to see the table they were walking towards and the slight figure sitting impatiently at it. That was one of two faces in Hollyoaks he would have expected to recognise instantly; John Paul McQueen.
Spike had to use all his willpower not to prostrate himself immediately in worship before the ascended one. But then he reminded himself that this John Paul was not yet divine. Eventually he realised that Elliot had been saying something, and John Paul had risen from his chair to shake his hand; a hand now proffered expecting him to reach out and do likewise. Spike gulped and stuck his hand out.
“Spoke?! That’s an unusual name!” commented John Paul as his hand was shaken vigorously and at length.

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


Spike felt he was handling this alright so far, John Paul was being quite friendly towards him, chatting animatedly and overlooking that all Spike could do in return was mostly nod. Mainly because he knew nothing of the matters the great one spoke on, but determined that each word that fell from his mouth should be regarded as wisdom to be dwelt upon at length later.
“So Man U have been crap the last few seasons, so I reckon we have a good chance of taking three points this weekend. Unless we fuck it up!” Spike nodded knowledgably. “Anyway, my round I think!” John Paul got up from the table and headed to the bar.
“What bloody use are you?” Elliot exploded. Spike gave him a puzzled look. “Sorry! I was just hoping with two of us not liking football, we could steer the conversation in another direction. He’s only doing this to punish me you know?”
“Well, maybe you deserve your punishment!” pondered Spike. Elliot gave him a look of disgust and Spike got the idea he better change the subject. “So anyway where’s Craig?”
“Who?” Elliot look confused for a few seconds. “Oh! You mean Craig Dean, you heard about all that did you. Well don’t let John Paul here you talk about him, he covers it well, but I think he’s still pretty broken up about it.”
Spike’s mind was thunderstruck. “What do you mean, where is he?”
“Oh, in Dublin best I know!”
So he was too late, and his only way of getting back to before the airport betrayal was a shattered mess on his arm. Spike knew despair.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 3

 

 

 


He was kind of cute, in an oddball kind of way. His dress sense was definitely way out there and the military haircut didn’t really quite gel with the rest of the picture. As for his accent, John Paul had no idea where it was meant to come from! Best guess was possibly South American, though he must live underground if that were the case, since his complexion didn’t support that theory.
John Paul wasn’t sure how interested he was in this guy Spoke (why was that name strangely familiar?) but he definitely liked all the attention. It had been a long time since someone hung on his every word like this; in fact when he thought about that he had to deliberately derail that train of thought, as there was a passenger on board that he had not though of in a long time (apart from every time he was alone, upset, depressed or generally feeling unappreciated). But as he reminded himself, Spoke was cute! And it had been a very long time.
There was a lingering suspicion, although it would seem out of character for the peculiar Welshman, that Elliot might be setting him up somehow. Either as a bad joke or in a genuine attempt to help out some friends.
“So, Spoke. Other than football what are you into?” James tried to sound as casual as possible, but was holding up a checklist in his head of Elliot’s more out-there interests, and if Spoke scored to highly he would definitely not be pursuing that avenue any further.
“Ehhh…. Most things really! Science…” check “Genetics…” check “Astrophysics…” check “Zen Physics…” eh? Double check “But these days I’m mostly interested in the sexual relations of 21st Century teenage boys!”
Elliot sprayed most of his pint across the table, narrowly avoiding showering his two companions. Spoke looked round at him with concern, but John Paul’s eyes were suddenly locked on Spoke, with a smirk that was half disbelief and half awe.
“And has that line ever worked before?” John Paul enquired.

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


The young male was lost for words. Nancy’s grip was like a vice and the grip his fear suddenly had on his mouth seemed equally as strong. Strangely enough mixed in with the fear was also an element of arousal around the eyes, but she decided for his sake to ignore that for the moment. However it might come in handy later.
“Where is my weapon?” She glanced around the room, itemising all her possessions and finding them lacking. “Where’s my M-15?”
“You mean M-16!”
“What?” That hadn’t been the response she’d been expecting, “don’t tell me what I mean. Bring me my gun.”
“I’ve never heard of an M-15, although I suppose it only makes sense that if there is an M-16 then there must have at some point been an M-15.” He was getting hysterical, so Nancy did what her training told her to do in such a situation. She slapped him across the face.
“I don’t know where it is.. I don’t think you had it when Jack and the rest dragged you from the pond.” There was now eyeliner running down from Newts eyes, there was also a fairly obvious erection standing out from his trousers. Teenage males, go figure! Nancy decided a different tack was required.
She grabbed at his crotch, pulling him towards her. “Come here boy, what’s your name?”
“New…NewTTT!!!”, came the startled reply as she squeezed tighter onto his crotch.
“Listen New Newt, I’ve lost someone around here, someone I desperately need to find. He’s a very dear friend, by the name of Spike, although he may be travelling under a pseudonym. He will be wearing very garish bright clothing, with short dark hair. Believe you me he will stand out in a crowd. I need you to find him for me, as in my fragile condition,” with this she manhandled Newt’s erection in a way that suggested her condition wasn’t the only fragile item around here, “I’ll not be able to seek him out myself. Now when you find him, you must not approach him, or anyway alert him to my presence; do you understand, I want this to be a surprise? Now do you understand me?”
Newt was silent for a moment, then got a look in his eye as if he wished to ask something, but was afraid what she might do to him if she didn’t like the question. She nodded her consent for him to continue.
“What’s a sudo-nim?”

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


This wasn’t going at all how he’d planned. First Spoke hadn’t seemed to mind John Paul talking constant football, he might not have encouraged him by doing anything other than nodding like the bloody Churchill Dog, but he certainly did nothing to discourage it. Then what with Spoke making google-eyes at John Paul, Elliot had started to feel really awkward. Although Elliot couldn’t spot sexual tension if it came in the form of Kate Moss laid sprawled naked on a large serving dish offering to peal his banana for him, he could still feel that strange sense of urgency to be somewhere else whenever two people didn’t even know you were still in the room.
“Will I get another round in?” Said Elliot, already standing and edging past John Paul to get to the bar.
“I’ll give you a hand!” John Paul said.
Elliot got to the bar and ordered three beers from Darren. Elliot had also noticed that even though they had only had two beers so far, Spoke didn’t seem to be handling it very well. He might even have less of tolerance for alcohol than Elliot.
“So what’s this all about, Elliot?”
“Sure I don’t know what you mean John Paul!”
“Showing up to the bar with strange guy in tow, who starts hitting on me. Come on, it’s all a bit transparent!”
Elliot spotted that strange Emo kid, who was staying with the Osborne’s, appear behind the bar. He was behaving rather shifty and morose, so nothing unusual there then.
“Listen, John Paul! I never met the bloke before today, he said he was a student and didn’t know his way about. So I invited him to come for a drink. As far as I can see your problem is he’s more your type than mine, which pretty much leaves me where I started; as odd man out!”
John Paul suddenly got this look in his eyes, which Elliot didn’t recognise right away. “Come here you big dope!” Before Elliot could back away, John Paul had wrapped him in a big hug. “You are not odd, and you’ll never be left out by me. Friends, right?” Elliot was turning a strange shade of crimson.
“Ohhh, boys!!! Get a room!” Darren mocked as he placed three beers on the bar.
“Shut up, Darren!” John Paul said almost instinctively. He turned back towards Elliot who had been unable to utter a single word. John Paul picked up two of the drinks, while Elliot turned to get the third one the Emo kid handed it to him.
“Thanks!!?” Elliot said, uncertainly. The kid didn’t even smile.
Back at the table, Spoke was definitely starting to show the effects of the alcohol.
“How much had he had before?” John Paul asked.
“No idea, none as far as I could tell!”
“Do you know where he stays?”
“No idea!”
“Any of his friends?!”
“Nope.”
“So basically, we’ve got a new student, alone in Hollyoaks with no known address, who can’t even handle two beers before slumping over the table. He’ll need to go home with you!” John Paul finished this statement by slamming his beer bottle down and reaching for his jacket.
“No..No way!!” stammered Elliot.
“Well, he’s not coming back with me. Besides, there only you, Kris & Zac in the student flat now. Plenty of room for one more, at least for one night. Come on I’ll help you carry him.” Elliot tried to stammer out another reply, but John Paul just gazed at him with those intense blue eyes, and shoulder slumping he gave in.
“At least let me finish my bloody beer first!” Whined Elliot. As he swallowed the last of his bottle, he noticed the weird Emo kid staring intently at him, an expression of rapt attention on his face. He shuddered momentarily, and then reminded of the task at hand by a cough from John Paul, reached down to help Spoke to his feet.

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


(The Future)
Grand Vizier Sonny Barnes, waited patiently outwith the Hierophants audience chamber, the young guard fidgeting beside him. He admonished her with a single look, internally bemoaning the lack of disciplined recruits coming to a career in the military these days.
To many where taking to the religious life, at least among the people of the McQueen Commonwealth, believing in the divine John Paul and his earthly representative to save them from the Devinian scheming of the Deanites. In fact Grand Vizier Barnes had made a personal study of all that the Lime Archives had to tell of the scheming of the Lofty One, Clare Devine (sometimes called Cunningham for reasons unclear from the text) but he still feared for his people.
Yes, his people! The Hierophant was a sentimental old fool, who would still be making repeated attempts at diplomacy when the Cardy Killers (The Keepers Elite Assassins) were within the halls of the Hagia Myra, his holiness’s domicile. He would still believe in the Keepers promises when bombs rained down upon Leigh City itself. Just like his predecessor had believed all the Keepers excuses and lies regarding the fall of the Spoke Hegamony. Mind you it had suited Sonny’s father to confirm the Keepers lies in those days. Despite the Hierophants affection for what he called “our lost brothers and sisters of Spoke” Calvin Barnes had realised that the Commonwealth was well rid of their heretical and distracting teachings.
The very idea that McQueen’s & Deanites could live together in love and harmony, was repugnant to any right thinking man. As the people descended from the divine John Paul, the people of the Commonwealth were obviously superior to those of the Confederacy of Dean. A People living under the oppressive Cardy Code that each generation twisted to its own ends, making the lot upon the populace harsher and more soul crushing. But still they were the people who celebrated their martial prowess.
That whole debacle at the Dog on the Pond just over two months ago was a classic, example of the Hierophants naivety. The Hierophant should never have went in person, the Grand Vizier had pleaded with him for weeks to send someone else, not his Grand Vizier mind you, he was to indispensable to the efficient running of the Commonwealth, but someone, anyone else. Yes the Grand Vizier worried for his people, but at last he had a chance to turn the tables and force the Hierophants hand to action!
The Great Golden-stripped doors, edged with the decoration of the chocolate button, began to open before them. The great dome of Hagia Myra shone sunlight down upon the Hierophants main audience chamber, his court of advisors and religious brothers surrounding the Holy Father upon his Golden Throne; living in the hope that they may overhear some utterance that imparts the greater meaning of existence. Fools, one and all!
He strode forward, observing that at least the young Captain had the wherewithal about her to keep pace, while still remaining an appropriate distance behind him. Attentions shifted as the Grand Vizier swept into the room, many who saw him cleared from his path, a look of fear in their eyes. But that was only as it should be, fools should always fear power.
At last he bowed before his Ruler, John Paul the 36th, Hierophant of the Holy Hoodie and Head of the McQueen Commonwealth. Resplendent in all his finery, still he was a symbol of how power can stagnate if not exerted. He surrounded himself with religious fools and cowardly scholars who spoke of prophesies that the divine John Paul would return in the final days to seek out Craig and bring about the Sunset Ending.
At last he had the Hierophants attention.
“Your Eminence! I bring dire tidings! This young Captain, Sarah Fisher, accompanied the squad that successfully raided the secret base of the Terrorist, Dr Elliot Bevan. Not only does she bring evidence that the Deanites were funding and encouraging the activities of the Doctor, sanctioning assaults on Commonwealth targets; but we also fear from what she witnessed that the Doctor may have developed some form of Time Travel Device that agents of the Confederacy have used to return to the past and destroy the Commonwealth before it even existed. Holy Father, I hesitate to speak these words as they weigh so heavy on my heart, but we believe the Deanites may plan to attempt to assassinate John Paul McQueen!”
Grand Vizier Sonny Barnes got exactly the reaction he desired, as at long last the headless fools began to dance to his tune.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 4

 

 

 

 

The burnished metal seemed to glint with reflections of light that lay beyond the observer’s field of vision, moving in patterns that in no way matched the early morning light filtering in through the curtains. Elliot turned the circlet over and over in his hands, a contemplative expression on his face; he then turned his gaze upon the comatose figure on the couch. He had woken in the small hours of the morning, feeling like he had missed something astonishingly obvious, but not quite able to put his finger on what it was.
“Bit of a turn up for the books for you, bringing strange men home with you at night. Anything you want to tell us Elliot after your Big Night Out with John Paul?”
Elliot didn’t even seem to notice Kris’s presence, never mind acknowledge his comments.
“Hello!!! Earth calling Elliot! There’s a Martian War Machine at the door, and they want to talk to you about the common cold!” Kris noticed the copper bracelet in Elliot’s hand, curiosity got the better of him and he made a grab for it. “What’s this, thinking of accessorising are we?”
Elliot was on his feet immediately, “Give it back, it doesn’t belong to us!” Kris sensed something in Elliot’s tone and demeanour that made him hesitate for a second. Elliot was serious!
“OK! OK! I was just having a laugh, don’t get your knickers in a twist.” He hands the strange device back to Elliot. “Well I’d love to stay around here chewing the fat with you and Sleeping Beauty here but the world can only survive without my presence for so long. So toodle-pip and hopefully he’ll be gone by the time I get back!” Kris let the door slam behind him, which resulted in extracting a whimper from Spoke.
“Do you want a cup of tea?” Elliot queried, getting up from the chair. The only response was an unintelligible grunt, which Elliot took as ascent and began filling the kettle.
Shortly after, Spoke was sat up on the couch, sipping slowly at his tea, seeming to find something unique in each sip. His surprise at each nuance of flavour simply confirmed Elliot’s suspicions and he decided it was time to have it out.
“You’re from the future aren’t you?”
Spoke instantly evacuated his mouth of its contents all over the coffee table.
“Don’t be ridiculous… What would ever make you say that?” Spoke’s eyes darted around the room and finally settled on the circlet that Elliot was clutching in his hands. He suddenly got a hunted look on his face.
“No Spoke, don’t be afraid!”
This didn’t seem to offer Spoke much by way of reassurance.
“I’m not going to give you up, I’ve never met a genuine time traveller before, and I’m not going to blow my chance to learn about the future.”
His expression now could only be described as ambivalent; as if he’d just been offered his dream job, but it meant moving to Alaska.
“But you’ve got to be the world’s most incompetent time agent. First you dress wrong, your name is ridiculous, you act as if you already know me when we’ve never met before and then to top it all of you go and get drunk on two pints of lager.”
Strangely he seemed to accept criticism better than compliments. He seemed to find this more familiar territory.
“So I’m lying in bed at one thirty-seven this morning and I remembered noticing this,” he gestures with the copper circlet, “but not getting a good look at it. So I come through and you’re too out of it to notice as I take it off.”
Spoke unconsciously massaged his arm, where the circlet had previously been clasped.
“And blow me if it doesn’t have some sort of circuitry, but it’s broken and that’s when the rest of it all fell into place; it was the only answer that made sense of it all.”
Spoke sat and stared at Elliot for a few minutes, doing a wonderful impersonation of a fox, that in the middle of being hunted by a pack of dogs, suddenly gets it’s gonads caught in barbed wire and has to decide between getting ripped apart by rabid dogs or never having children! However all Elliot did was stare back with this senseless grin plastered across his face.
“Oh, Fuck!” exhales Spoke. He stares long and hard at Elliot. “You understand that if this got out the untold damage it could do to the Space/Time Continuum?”
“Oh! Of course, we must guard against that sort of thing!” Elliot’s smile faltered slightly.
“And equally you understand why the less I tell you about the future; the safer it’ll be for both of us?” Elliot seemed stuck for words, his whole demeanour screamed crestfallen. Here was his chance to learn secrets beyond his wildest imaginings and he was being asked to be responsible and NOT ASK QUESTIONS!!!
“Well what can you tell me?”
“More important Elliot is what you can tell me. I only know this world from what written and video records have survived in the intervening years. What all do you know about the end of the relationship of John Paul McQueen and Craig Dean?”

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


Frankie Osbourne sat looking at the young woman who had joined them for breakfast. She seemed very quiet, yet self assured, yet within her eyes you could see she had been hurt. With Steph now more or less moved in full time with Max, it was nice even to have another female presence around the flat. However Frankie still wasn’t clear what the girl was still doing here?
“So deary, what is your name?” Frankie leaned closed to hear the girls answer.
She cleared her throat and glanced nervously around the table. “Mercy… Mercy Ash..” Something seemed to catch in her throat. “Mercy Ashton.” She gave them the sweetest smile.
“We’ve got a girl that works for us, name of Mercedes. Is Mercy short for Mercedes or something else?” Frankie poured herself another cup of tea, offering Mercy a top up.
“No.. No! Just Mercy! That’s my given name. I’m here looking for work while I attend HCC.” At this she gave Newt the strangest look, that Frankie only caught the end of.
“Well we’re always looking for extra help in the bar if you know how to pour a pint,” interjected Jack. Frankie cast Jack a look, but he was totally oblivious, as usual. Frankie wasn’t sure she trusted this young woman, but you never got to the truth about someone by letting them know how you really felt.
“That would be lovely dear. And while we’re at it Jack, if she needs somewhere to stay she could stay in Steph’s room for now!” This time Jack did catch the look, and gave one of his trademark “what” gestures; hands outstretched, mouth forming an “O” and accompanied by a slight shrug.

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


“…and then John Paul moved back home, but we still remained friends. And really that’s all I know, some of which is conjecture and hearsay of course since I was in the States at the time it all happened.” Elliot felt like he’d been talking for hours, but it had probably only been half an hour tops. Spoke was quiet once again and Elliot wondered if he was expected to say something or if he had to wake him from some sort of futuristic trance.
“So Craig went off to Dublin about four months ago and John Paul is not involved in any significant relationship at the moment?”
“Look!” Elliot was beginning to feel exasperated. “I know you don’t want to cause eddies in the space/time continuum. But you are going to have to tell me something to explain why someone from the future would be so interested in a relationship that was over months ago and really was nobody else’s business than the two guys involved!”
Spoke fell back into his now familiar Vorlon impression. At long last he looked up, giving Elliot a very serious stare.
“I don’t know who this Eddie is, but I never said he was in the Space/Time Continuum.”
Elliot tried his hardest, but eventually a grin broke out, and he banged his fist on the table.
“Not fair, not fair! OK, so you know your Douglas Adams. But that still doesn’t alter my question.”
“I don’t know this Douglas Adams either, are there any more people involved in this I should know about?” Spoke was looking very confused. Elliot realised he was being serious. Good God, how far in the future did Spoke come from and how many of the Great Works of Science Fiction had been lost to mankind?
“Spoke, seriously I need you to answer my question.”
“OK. But you must promise to share none of this with anyone!”
“Of course!”
Spoke took a breath, and then began. “The society I come from is based on what knowledge survived of this time period. We rebuilt our civilisation using names, ideas and relationships that we read about, from within Hollyoaks. However according to our records paramount among all the relationships within Hollyoaks village was that of John Paul McQueen and Craig Dean, known in certain mystical texts as McDean. However the Betrayal at the Airport ended this and unfortunately what you have told me hasn’t made me any the wiser as to what caused that.
“The result of this on my society is that two nations remain divided, those that follow the Way of John Paul McQueen and those who are ruled by the Code of Craig Dean. Two societies that with each passing decade drift closer and closer toward open warfare.
“I originally came back in time to prevent the Betrayal, in the hope that if McDean was not broken, then the future would be changed for the better and the societies would exist in harmony; but something went wrong and I arrived too late. Additionally my Temporal Device was broken during my arrival and will take me some time to repair, if I even can. Leaving me with only one immediate option!” Spoke paused once more.
“What? What is it, you’ve told me this much, what else can be done?”
Spoke made like Zippy from Rainbow and getting up from the couch began pacing the room.
“Firstly Elliot, I need to know how what I have told you makes you feel?”
Elliot took a leaf out of Spoke’s book and considered how he did feel. John Paul was his friend, and he worried how he might feel if he heard even one tenth of this conversation. He reckoned he would freak. But he had figured part of this out for himself, so the question was; did he now presume Spoke would lie to him after Elliot sussed him out? He really wanted to trust Spoke!

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


Nancy knew she was in the House of the Enemy! She had felt it slightly when she first awoke here, a vague feeling of unease, a feeling only confirmed when she discovered which building it was and inevitably which family still stayed here. They may call themselves Osbourne, but Nancy new enough of the Sacred Texts to know that was as good as saying Dean.
She had taken most of the night to suss out where she was and scope out her immediate surroundings. This had been achieved after the pub had closed and the Osborne’s had retired for the night. She had made her way out the window and down the outer wall, spending several hours familiarising herself with the local layout; including stepping over a drunken student on route.
Her tracer had led her to stand just outside a row of shops. The target of her search was somewhere within the building, up above the shops. She decided that was sufficient for now, she had to play this one carefully.
She returned to the eponymous Pond and after a slight hesitation, stripped down and dived in. She quickly found what she was looking for and emerged from the water her Mercedes-15 in hand. A quick examination revealed that though a prolonged sojourn in the Pond had not been beneficial to her weapon, it would take major dissembling, cleaning and reassembly.
Returning to her room, she decided that a conversation with Newt was required. She sneaked quietly out into the hall and made her way to his door, entering without permission. In the dark her genetically enhanced senses told her immediately that Newt was not asleep. They had a prolonged conversation, in which she learned many things regarding the local area and the Osbourne family in particular, in return she toyed with the boy’s libido until he whimpered and messed his sheets.
She smiled at the memory, young men in particular were very easy to manipulate. There was a knock at her door, which from the timidity of the rapport she knew could only be Newt.
“Come in!” Newt edged self consciously into the room. Good, she wanted the boy to remain afraid and in lust with her in equal measure. “Now Newt sit down.” He took a seat next to her on the bed. “There are some things I’m going to need to get my hands on, but first Newt I need to know something from you. How does trade work in Hollyoaks?”

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


“I guess you could say I’m a McDean shipper!” Elliot immediately caught the confused expression on Spoke’s face. “Shipper! It’s an internet term, meaning you support the relationship between two, admittedly normally fictional, characters. So I guess what I’m saying is what little I know of John Paul & Craig’s relationship, they really loved each other and John Paul is certainly still carrying a torch for him. So yeah, I’d love to see them get back together.”
“Then you’d be prepared to help me bring about the Sunset Ending?”
Elliot laughed involuntarily. “I beg your pardon?”
“A fabled event, in which John Paul & Craig were reunited and somehow headed off into the Sunset. Presumably in some sort of vessel.” Spoke was now speaking very animatedly, back once more on the couch, he was almost bouncing up and down.
“You mean like at the end of “Lord of The Rings” replied Elliot.
“Eh, Lord of the what?” Came Spoke’s confused response.
”Nevermind!” Elliot tugged at his woolly hat.
“So will you help me?” pleaded Spoke.
“To save the future? Of course!” They both leapt up excitedly and gave each other an impromptu hug. When they calmed down Spoke got a wicked look in his face, and a strange smile spread across his face. “What?”
“Just be grateful the Kiwi Cult weren’t right!”
“Why? Who were they?”
“A mad group of McQueenites who believed that John Paul had conceived a child by a mysterious woman who went by the name of Kiwi.”
“But John Paul’s gay, how would that work?”
“No, you misunderstand. They believe John Paul had been the one who was pregnant, it was a miraculous birth. The progeny of which had gone on to found some Utopian Colony far away. They all eventually got into a ship and headed off to seek out the Colony and were never heard of again.”.
“Oh! They went of to the Western lands then.” Spoke gave him that look again. “Never mind!”

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


(The Future)
Carmel was late once more. The Hierophants summons had come when she was on the other side of Leigh City. As she entered the Holy Ones dressing chambers she was as always very aware of the armed guards who were always ready to kill in the name of the Hierophant. She bustled officiously into the room, ignoring the slightly stunned looks of several of the Hierophants servants.
“Your Excellence!” Carmel curtsied. “You summoned me! What is the emergency?”
The Hierophant laughed. When he did this he seemed a much younger man than his fifty eight years. His face brightened and one could believe this man could lead his people.
“Expanding borders Carmel, the increase of which is a constant concern and battle to your Hierophant.”
“Oh, I’m sure I wouldn’t know how to advise you on such issues, your Hierophantness. I’m simply a tailor, with no knowledge of such things.” She saw that John Paul was laughing even more enthusiastically. “Oh, I see! It’s make fun of Carmel your eminence, well I don’t think that’s particularly Holy of you if you don’t mind me saying?”
He ceased the mirth. “I’m sorry Carmel, I didn’t mean to tease you my daughter. I simply meant that the increasing growth of my own waist will require the adjusting of some of my officious garb. But please forgive an old man, the opportunities to laugh may be very limited for some time to come, so don’t deny me this small indulgence?” Suddenly he seemed most unsettled. But the lapse was only momentary and he was once again his own jovial self amongst his subject.
Carmel got out her tape measure and her scissors and arraying the Hierophant on a raised platform began the work of making notations and adjustments to the Hierophants robes. As she worked for the next several hours, fitting the Hierophant for several outfits from Official to Informal including the sacred Holy Hoodie itself (of course that particular garment would require various blessings and incantations before even a single cut could be made to it), John Paul the 36th continued to receive many visitors. From petitioners to minister of office. The business of government could not be stopped for such a simple thing as a wardrobe refitting and nobody paid much attention to a mousy blond tailor, even if she was of fair appearance.

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


“Carmel calling S.H.A.G.! Come in S.H.A.G.! Carmel calling S.H.A.G.! Is anyone there? Over!” She was hunkered down in a hidden backroom of her place of business and was fiddling with some knobs on a very old style radio.
“This is S.H.A.G. what news Carmel? Over!” Came the crackling voice on the other end.
“I have sent a new report, it will be with you in several days, by the normal means. But I thought you better know; the Golden One of the Stripes has been persuaded to stop meeting the Dour Dark One of the Outrageous Winter Garb for meals and occasional visits to the theatre. Over!”
There was silence on the other end for several seconds. “Come again, over!”
Carmel gave an exasperated exhalation of breath. “The Hierophant has been persuaded to break off diplomatic relations with the Confederacy of Dean. Over!”
“Very good Carmel. Take care and here from you soon! Over!”
“Yeah, over!” Carmel sighed and sat back on her hunkers.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 5

 

 


Elliot awoke, still giddy as a schoolgirl from the discoveries he had made the day before.
That lasted approximately 30 seconds, as he leapt out of bed, put on his Star Wars housecoat and his hat, opened his bedroom door; to find a post-it stuck to the outside of it. He pulled it free and read what it said:
Elliot,
See your “friend” stayed again last night. If he’s going to become a permanent feature, hope he can pay his bloody way.
Kris & Zac
Elliot scrunched up the note momentarily, then thought better of it and took it and smoothed it out on the table.
“What’s that?” Elliot turned abruptly, adopting a defensive pose. Then sighed and relaxed when he realised it was only Spoke, sorry Spike as he’d eventually admitted late last night.
“Just a note from my roommates saying that we’re out of milk and it’s my turn to get some in!”
“So nothing to do with them grumbling about the lazy layabout you’d brought home before going out this morning. I don’t think they like me being here!”
Elliot tugged at his hat. “Don’t worry about them; we’ve had a lot worse staying here. Believe me! They’ll come round to the idea.” Elliot began busying himself making tea and preparing breakfast. He put out cereal and prepared enough toast for two without thinking; just the way he was brought up.
As they sat crunching into their cornflakes, Spike taking inordinate pleasure in every mouthful, suddenly he seemed to remember something.
“Mwufh fhwugrut twoo shae…”
“Finish what’s in your mouth before you try to speak! I’d get a slap round the ear for that back home!” Elliot stated indignantly. Then as he looked at Spikes shocked expression, he couldn’t help but burst out laughing. “What were you trying to say?”
“Sorry!” Spike said sheepishly. “It’s just I suddenly remembered, that last night I forgot to mention something really important. I’m not alone back here!”
“I know. You’ve got me, no need to worry on that count.” Elliot smiled and spooned another mouthful of Dr Kellogg’s creation.
“No, I mean someone else came back at the same time as me. I saw her roundabout the same time I met you, being dragged from the pond.”
Elliot began fumbling with his hat again. “How do you know she came from your time, she could have came from anywhere.”
“I recognised the uniform, she’s military. Sorry I didn’t want to worry you and I doubt she’ll still be wandering about in full combat gear, but we’ll have to be on the lookout for her.” Elliot began clearing the dishes from the table, irrespective of the fact they’d barely touched the toast.
“So, what does she look like then?” Elliot eventually managed to ask.
“I don’t really know, didn’t get a good look at her. But she’ll have short hair like mine, it was dark and her musculature will be rather marked for the females of this time. All military are taken from an early age and genetically enhanced in strength, stamina, senses and mental acuity; a state that is maintained by regular doses of drugs, so theoretically she should eventually start to suffer from the lack of them. But that would also depend how much of the drugs she had on her when she came back.”
“So you saw her being dragged from the water, so where was she taken then?”
“No idea, someone else interrupted me at that point.” He smiled at Elliot, who gave a startled “O”. “But she could be anywhere by now, military training will kick in and she’ll adapt to her surroundings. But we can’t let that stop us; we just need to be careful.” Elliot didn’t seem convinced. “Don’t worry Elliot; I’ve got a secret weapon if she comes after me.”
“Really!? What is it?”
“Well it wouldn’t be very secret if I told you that, would it?” Elliot seemed to concede this point somewhat grudgingly. “Anyway something else I had to ask. I’m going to need access to a laboratory at the college if I’m going to have any chance of fixing the Temporal Device. So how easily could you get me access?”
Elliot grinned!

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


Nancy sat on the edge of the bed, all the individual parts of her Mercedes-15 laid out beside her. She knew some people who boasted they could put one together in 30 seconds blindfolded. Personally she couldn’t imagine the circumstances in which someone would blindfold her, and then still allow her to keep the parts of her weapon about her person. But it takes all sorts.
So then, so far she knew where her prey was staying and she was in an ideal location to spy out for any interaction between him and either the Ascended One or the Great Betrayer. However she could not be in the Bar all day, not and prepare herself for the challenge ahead.
There was a knock at her door.
She listened for a second, and then said. “Come in, Newt!”
The door opened slowly and shut a great deal more rapidly.
“How do you do that?” Newt asked, as Nancy proceeded to clean the parts of her weapon.
“Do what?”
“Know it’s me at the door without seeing me.” Nancy smiled. She intended it to be friendly, at least as friendly as she could manage, but it obviously had a different effect as Newt shuddered and took a step back.
“Because you make such a bloody racket!” She barely restrained herself from laughing, realising this would probably send him scurrying from the room. She moved the last of her weapons parts off of the bed and patted the quilt firmly. “Come and sit down Newt!”
Without hesitation, Newt came over to the bed. He sat down somewhat nervously, glancing somewhat surreptitiously at Nancy. Nancy gave him a welcoming smile.
“You don’t belong here Newt, what are you doing with these people?” She really didn’t remember ever hearing much about Newt from her History lessons. Although she had known a few Newts’ in her time, so it was certainly an authorised name.
“I’m fostered!” Nancy ran a hand up his leg; Newt gave her another nervous glance. “I was placed with them.” Now Nancy understood, as a military child, she was placed in a training institution from the age of five. That had meant being passed from nursemaid to nanny, from mentor to master. Never really knowing a parent!
“Then we have a lot in common, Newt. I wasn’t raised by my parents either. We should look out for each other and I need your help again.” By now her hand was massaging once more another part of Newt’s anatomy. “Jack & Frankie seem pretty innocuous, but what about Darren, what do you know about him?”
Newt was somewhat distracted, until a constriction of Nancy’s fist recaptured his attention.
“Darren’s alright. Sometimes he’s so full of himself and talks like a complete plonker. But he’s more fucked up than all the rest of them put together.”
“Interesting!” By now Nancy was leaning in close to Newts ear and was practically breathing each word into his ear. “So what secrets does poor Darren have to hide, that he wouldn’t want the rest of his family to know?” Newt gave an involuntary shudder, as he forgot himself once again in the hands of this Dark Goddess.

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


“…So your best bet is wait until the weekend, then I can get you in no problem. There’s always plenty of free labs, don’t understand why more people don’t make use of them for extra credit at the weekend. Guess they’d all rather be down the pub, don’t see it myself.”
Spike was absently twirling his fingers as Elliot finished.
“Sorry if I’m boring you!” Elliot huffed offended.
“No, what, sorry! I was already thinking about our biggest problem. It’s all very well fixing the Temporal Device, and I have made contact with John Paul McQueen; but how in Hollyoaks do we get Craig to come back from Dublin?” Both boys fell silent for a bit. Every now and then, Elliot would gesture as if about to suggest something, then seem to think better of it. Eventually, Elliot seemed to deflate as he gave up exerting his massive intellect towards a seemingly insurmountable task.
“Well I don’t see how. I mean the only people that could probably persuade Craig to come back from Dublin are his family; and there hardly likely to volunteer for the role.” Elliot sat there in dejected silence.
Meanwhile Spikes face seemed to brighten like a summer sunrise. “You’re a genius Elliot!”
“I am? I mean of course I am, IQ higher than Einstein me; but which one of my many superior mental attributes are you lauding now?” Elliot looked confused.
“How well do you know Stephanie Dela Dean?”

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


They were sat in the Dog, waiting!
If Elliot did say so himself, Spike did seem rather dapper in the ‘new’ suit. New in the sense that they had liberated it from Zak’s wardrobe and it did have the look of having never been worn. It was a bit tight around the oxters, but was certainly more acceptable for the role he was about to play than his previous garb.
“How long can it take to get from Max’s flat to here? She’ll probably take about two hours putting on her lipstick alone!” Elliot was getting pretty agitated, to be honest he was feeling quite exposed. This despite the fact they’d picked the table in the darkest most sheltered corner of the pub, with an unobstructed view of the rest of the bar and most importantly; a clear line of sight for the door if they had to make a quick getaway.
“Relax, Elliot! She’ll be here. Now once again, run over this with me once more, who am I?”
“You’re Spoke McIntyre, a producer from BBC Radio 4 that I met through John Paul’s friend Summer. You’re interested in casting young unknowns for a series of radio plays concerning the Samaritans and would like to run some test readings with her to let a few people listen to her voice, with an aim towards possibly offering her a contract.” Elliot appeared ill at ease. “I’m just worried if we wait much longer, you’ll get drunk again. You didn’t exactly display an amazing tolerance for alcohol the other day there!”
Spike was quiet for a few seconds. “No! I’ve thought about that. Alcohol here isn’t any stronger than in my time, I’m pretty sure. I think what happened was similar in effect to what happens to your body after a long flight, except I had travelled through time instead of space.”
“Oh! So like a sort of time-lag, instead of jet-lag!” Spikes response was interrupted by the sudden appearance in the doorway of Steph Dean. She surveyed the room like a queen, and then with the precision of a cougar having sighted its prey stalked over to Elliot’s table.
“Stephanie Dela Dean; Actress, Singer, Fashion Model and Little Miss Hollyoaks 1995, at your service. And whom do I have the pleasure of making the acquaintance of?” She offered her hand to Spike, who took it and rising from his chair, kissed it as Elliot had coached him.
“Enchanté, Mademoiselle!” Spike gave up his chair to Steph and shifted gamely round the table. “My name is Spoke McIntyre and I’m here to open up an opportunity to you that could take you away from all this and make all your dreams come true!” Elliot could see that Spoke’s charms were working on Steph just exactly as he’d expected. Of course he could put the words in someone else’s mouth, had he tried to say them himself, his tongue would have tripped up half the bar. Very Cyrano de Bergerac! Mon Dieu!

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


Nancy walked out into the living room to find Newt having some sort of fit in the middle of the room. He was grasping some form of bat, which he was swinging about the room striking out at invisible objects, while staring at a screen on the wall. On the screen a small electronic icon was performing similar actions. All of it seemed to be connected by a white box situated to the side of the screen.
“What are you doing?” Nancy asked quizzically.
“Playing with my Wii!” was the frankly baffling response.
“Is that one of those euphemisms?”
“No, it’s a games console. The best! Jack got me it for Christmas.” Nancy watched for a short time, becoming increasing absorbed by the conduct and workings of the game.
“You control the motions on the screen by swinging that bat. Your actions are duplicated through the electronic interface.”
“Nah! I just play!”
At that moment footsteps were heard coming up the stairs. Nancy was already sitting absorbed in some pamphlet detailing the size of malnourished women’s breasts by the time Darren burst into the room.
“Newt! Have you seen…?” He suddenly noticed Nancy. “Oh, there you are! I thought you were living here in part payment to help out behind the bar. Well we could do with some help! Now!!!” His ire seemed somewhat quelled by the look Nancy gave him.
“Sure!” She rose slowly to her feet and followed Darren down to the bar.

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


Darren wasn’t sure what to make of the new waif & stray that his dad had taken in. She sure was a lot hotter than his previous efforts. She certainly had an attitude that rubbed Darren up the wrong way, but sometimes that had worked in his favour before.
Watching her now round the bar, she certainly wasn’t being hired on her bar skills, but her atypical physique had attracted more than few curious glances. And not just from the men… Ha!
“Woe there!” Darren just caught a bottle of his dad’s whisky that nearly crashed to the floor. “Jack would not be happy if you broke that. He loves his whiskies does dad, might find yourself out of a job.” Her leaning in to whisper in his ear wasn’t quite the reaction he expected.
“Guess he wouldn’t be to happy if he found out you nearly lost the pub to Warren Fox with your gambling either, but then we can both keep a secret can’t we Darren?” Then she pinched his bum, which left him completely lost for words for possibly only the second time in history.

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


“Great! Well if you’ve got time just now, we can do the recording back at Elliot’s flat. Then I’ll be off back to London on the last train.” Spoke gave Steph his sweetest smile and she almost melted again.
Hoy, girl! You’re perfectly happy with Max!
“Elliot’s! Don’t you have a hotel room?” Elliot got this look of a rabbit that suddenly realises that the twin suns approaching him might not actually be a good omen.
“Oh, Spo… I Mean Mr McIntyre was only up for the day, important meeting in the morning, so he left his equipment at mine. As, like a favour!” Elliot and Spoke exchanged a look that Steph completely missed.
“Oh, right lets get going then!” Steph turned to get her jacket and bag, stopped on the way back round to check her hair in one of the pubs mirrors; but by the time she looked at them their attention seemed to have been drawn by a dark haired girl behind the bar. “Hoy!!!” Elliot at least had the decency to jump and apologise. Spoke simply kept staring for ages, before he looked away and moved swiftly out of the pub without even a glance in her direction.
Well! Maybe these big producers are just as shallow as you’ve heard. Better off with Max anyway. Good Old dependable Ma

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


“Right, just give me a minute, while I get the sound right!” Elliot was feeling somewhat harassed, everyone expected him to jump when they shouted and normally he did. However he’d forgot how much Steph’s superior attitude and also her stunning good looks, could so wind him up the wrong way.
“Does he know what he’s doing with this?” Steph screeched. “I’m sorry Mr McIntyre, but are you sure you feel comfortable letting Elliot fool around with professional recording equipment like this?”
Before Spike could cease his impersonation of Arnold Schwartzenegger at the end of Total Recall; Elliot gave a loud whoop as he turned from the amplifier and loaded up Goldwave on the computer.
“Ready!”
“Now, Miss Dean! When you’re ready begin by reading the first line into the microphone, taking a short break between each line!” Steph drew Spike a look at this.
“I do know how to do this. I am a professional remember!” Steph gave her trademark contemptuous flick of her hair.
“OK.. Eh… Whenever you’re ready!”
Elliot pressed record.
“You’re my brother and I love you!”
Short break
“I can’t face telling any of this to mother, not after everything that has happened!”
Short break
“You’re the only one I’ve ever truly trusted!”
Short break …

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


Darren was shutting up for the night, ending what had probably been one of the most laconic nights of his life. He had kept his distance, as much as that was possible behind the compact bar, from what was her name, oh yeah Mercy! Ironic that!
However as he shut and bolted the doors, he turned to find her standing mere feet behind him.
“What do you want from me? Cause I don’t know what somebody’s told you, or what use you think you can make if it; but ask anyone round here I’m pretty much the biggest waste of space going. So other than spoiling my relationship with Jack, what other use could I be to you?” Darren was still hoping she would live up to her name. Fat chance!
“I’m going to need to make a few alterations to the security in here, without Jack or Frankie knowing anything about it. And you my lad are going to help me do it!”

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


Craig Dean had become pretty much of a recluse during the last few months of his life. Oh, he told his family that he was going out, enjoying himself and “Living it up at Trinity!” But it was all a thinly veiled lie, which had his family cared enough to look for the truth, they would have torn through with ease.
As it was, apart from attending lectures, tutorials and visits to the library; he mostly stayed in his two room bedsit, thinking his pithy thoughts. Mostly about a certain blue-eyed boy who had betrayed his heart! Mostly he tried, unsuccessfully, not to cry himself to sleep at night! Mostly he felt he deserved it!
He was quite surprised when the phone rang. His mum always phoned on Sunday and Jake and Steph had never phoned, he always phoned them. So he dreaded to think who would be phoning him at this time of night.
Cautiously he picked up the receiver.
“It’s your sister!” Craig easily recognised Steph’s voice.
“Steph, what do you want at this time of night.”
“Listen! And please don’t interrupt me; this is really hard for me to say!”
“What is it Steph? You sound really strange.”
“Something’s happened. I can’t tell you over the phone!”
“Oh my God, has something happened to mum?”
“Of course not, this is about me, not anyone else!”
Craig went silent; he dreaded what might come next.
“I need your help! You’re my brother and I love you! You’re the only one I’ve ever truly trusted!”
“Can’t you talk to mom about this, or Jake!” Craig just wanted to be left alone in his misery and a visit back to Hollyoaks was the last thing he needed.
“I can’t face telling any of this to mother, not after everything that has happened! Don’t even get me started on our brother! Please, you’re my brother and I really need you! I wouldn’t ask if it wasn’t important! Don’t make me beg!”
Craig was worried, there was something strangely dispassionate in Steph’s voice and he wondered what had happened to change her like this? Had Max done something to her?
At last he gave a resigned sigh. “OK Steph! I’ll get a flight home as early as I can tomorrow. Can you meet me at the airport?”
“Oh, thank you! I’ll see you then!” The line went dead. Strange, she definitely sounded not herself, not the Steph Deans who he knew and loved. Almost as if someone was forcing her to say those things… No need for paranoid fantasies yet, Craig. Time enough for that tomorrow when he got back to Hollyoaks, when his first concern would be paranoid avoidance of the one person who was subject of all his fantasies! The one person he definitely didn’t want to see! Not yet, too soon, the wounds were too fresh!

Chapter 6

 

 

 

“Look, call it a late Christmas present from me to you!” Darren put on his best earnest; I’m not a lying sack of shit being blackmailed into getting you out of the road by your psychopathic lesbian houseguest; face. “I want you both to go away and relax this weekend. You know the Dog is in safe hands and with Mercedes, Kris & Mercy about that’s more than enough to cope. Now come on, pack a bag, your taxi will be here in half an hour!”
Frankie still seemed to hesitate for a few seconds, Jack waiting to hear her decision, then visibly relaxed and came forward giving Darren a peck on the cheek.
“Thanks, Dear!” She ruffled his hair slightly, which got the expected annoyed scowl from Darren who made an immediate bee line for a mirror. “Now I know it’s only two nights, but you sure you’ll be OK taking care of Newt?”
“I don’t need taking care of!” Came the predictable response from Newt’s room. Nobody paid it any mind.
“He’ll be fine! He’s nearly 16 and I do know how to operate a microwave. Now will you just pack, before the weekend is over?”
“I still wish you had given us more notice. Typical man, doesn’t appreciate how much a woman needs to take away on such a trip. It not just a case of throwing two changes of clothing and some toiletries in a bag. There’s other consideration…” Frankie kept talking even as she got out of earshot. Newt wandered into the living room reading a magazine and landed on the couch.
Darren turned from the mirror to scowl at Mercy and Newt. It had been a shock to say the least to discover Newt was in on this with her, and the way Newt looked at her Darren shuddered to think what she had done to convince him.
“Well!!! I guess I’m all yours for the weekend. So come on then, I’m dying to know how you’re going to have your wicked way with me?”
Mercy simply smiled.

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


Craig got out of the taxi in front of the Dog and handed his only £20 note to the driver. The rest of his money was still in Euros and since he didn’t expect to stay long that was all the British currency he’d brought.
He’d phoned Steph as soon as he got to John Lennon Airport. She’d answered right away and acted all weird; she told him she couldn’t possibly pick him up from the airport as she was in London and could he get off the phone she was expecting a very important call at any moment. Then she’d hung up.
Craig had been this close to turning round right away and getting back on the next flight to Dublin. He was so angry with Steph and that last minute booking had cost him a small fortune; but then he decided he was here now, he might as well spend the weekend catching up with his family and on the off chance Steph made it back from London, either get to the bottom of all this or skin her alive for messing him around.
He walked through the doors of the Dog for the first time in nearly six months. Images passed through his mind of his last few weeks in Hollyoaks and what had happened here; all the hurt he’d caused Sarah, his slanging match with John-Paul that had really hammered home how much he was hurting him, breaking the news of him and John-Paul to his family & finally all the touching farewells before leaving.
As he entered the Dog, he didn’t recognise the girl behind the bar; however for a fleeting moment he got the distinct impression that she had recognised him. Maybe she’d seen photos of him around the place.
“Hi! I’m Craig! Craig Dean!” He put his hand out and the girl looked at it as if he was proffering a venomous snake. “My parents own this place, you might have heard of me?”
“I know who you are! I’ll get Darren!” Her voice was well cold. Something about this was very wrong; he would need to consider having a word with Jack about her attitude. She turned and headed out back to presumably retrieve his stepbrother.
Craig took the opportunity to have a look round the place, not much had changed in the time he was away, a new fruit machine had been installed, but that was about it. Good! He presumed it would be the same upstairs.
“Craig. I wish you’d let us know you were coming! Sorry mate, but there’s no room at the inn. Great to see you though!” Darren stuck out his hand, Craig just stared at it.
“What!?”
“Don’t know if mum got round to telling you about Newt but he’s a foster kid they took in and he’s got your room now. Mercy here is in Steph’s old room and despite the fact that mum & dad are away for the weekend, I could hardly offer you their room. What about Steph & Max or even Jake? Could they not put you up?”
This was hardly the greeting he’d expected. Darren was being well weird, well weirder than usual. Had he done something to offend everyone, was that what this was all about, and his mum couldn’t even face him? No everything had been fine when they spoke less than a week ago. Plus Darren had called Frankie, mum, he never did that unless it was to wind her up. Of course mum had mentioned Newt, he’d just never really thought of whose room he would have got.
“Well can I have a drink at least? I’ve been in planes and taxis for the last three hours!”
“Of course, anything for my little baby brother!” He gave Craig a conspiratorial wink.
Darren was definitely acting strange.

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


Spike was sitting at a computer as Elliot walked into the HCC common room. It was, as predicted, deserted on a Saturday.
“I saw a taxi pull up outside the Dog and Craig got out. So you can relax now, he’s here. What are you doing on the computer?” Elliot’s curiosity was never far from the surface.
“Research! Wonderful tool your Internet. We’ve got something similar where I come from, but it’s much more restrictive. The governments set it up, so if their citizens try and search for something they don’t like, they can easily track back the deviant who made the query in the first place. But here information is free and at your fingertips. Amazing!
“After you showed me how to use it last night, when we made our little transfer to Steph’s account, I knew it was exactly what I needed for the last part of my plan.”
“I still feel pretty bad about that!”
“What stealing the money to pay for all this? Don’t worry they’ll never trace it back! And anyway Steph got on an early train to London this morning. She should have arrived at her hotel by now, waiting for a phone call from Spoke McIntyre and there she’ll stay for the next seven days, enjoying the sights & sounds of London at the banks expense.”
“No! Lying to Steph. I’m still going to need to look her in the face once you’re up and gone and I don’t know if I can!” Elliot was looking quite upset.
“Come here you daft bugger!” Spike shut down the browser and got up from the computer; he stepped over and gave Elliot a hug. Elliot responded somewhat awkwardly; and then shuffled backwards, establishing his own personal space once more.
“Right, then! I’ve got stuff to be getting on with!” Elliot stated. “I’ll get you into the laboratory, and I’ll be off then.”

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


Craig hesitated before knocking on the door of his brother flat. He had no idea what sort of reception to expect. He’d talked to Jake a few times after he’d left for Dublin, trying to re-establish some sort of basis for a relationship; a relationship that once again had been built upon a bed of lies, as he told him what a great time he was having in Dublin. However that had been before Nancy left Jake and social services ended up taking Charlie away from him. Then there were the rumours of the drinking…
RAP! RAP! RAP!
Craig strained to hear some sort of response. He thought he heard movement, then moaning, but it could just be his overactive imagination. He waited a few minutes, was about to knock again…
“What the fuck is it?” The voice on the other side of the door was barely recognisable to Craig. It was shallow, almost lifeless; so hoarse and defeated. There was little of the angry young man Jake had always had seething under the surface, railing to get out. The animal that those that brought out the best in him, had managed to subdue, but never really tame.
“It’s your brother!” Craig waited for what seemed like an age in silence, a building panic inside him as he continued to get no response. Suddenly he heard the lock turn and the door was left ajar, as he saw a shadowy figure retreat back into the flat.
Craig walked into the dim, grainy interior of what had once seemed like a home for his brother and his family, shutting the door behind him. He attempted to switch on a light, only to discover that they either weren’t working, the bulbs had blown or the electricity had been switched off. The floor was littered with empty cans and pizza boxes, while a layer of dirt and grime covered every available space not filled with used glasses & crockery.
“God, Jake! What have you done to yourself?” Jake was curled up on the couch with his back to Craig.
“Who gives a fuck! If you don’t like it do something about it yourself.”
Craig sighed putting down his bag and looking for somewhere he felt safe to leave his jacket.

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


Darren stared at the boxes of various pieces of metal and plastic, many of which had names that sounded like they belonged in a “Carry on” script, and wondered what had brought him to this impasse? Shopping for clothes, that was Darren Osborne’s bag; shopping for expensive jewellery, sure; even shopping for expensive electrical goods, abso-fraggin-lutely. But Darren had never thought he’d see the day when he would find himself pushing a trolley around the aisles of B&Q!
“Come on Darren! Once we get this done your work isn’t finished there. So hope you’ve got lots of energy, Big Boy!” Mercy just laughed at him and walked on.
Momentarily Darren considered just running away and hiding, but he had to admit, Mercy frightened him! Instead he simply groaned inwardly and continued pushing the trolley, praying for this nightmare to be over; and that nobody he knew actually saw him here!

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


“You know you could have just called me and I’d have met you in the SU. You didn’t need to come round to hold my hand!” John Paul glances over at his friend and once again wondered what was going on in his head. He was definitely up to something, but for the life of him John Paul couldn’t figure it out. However with Elliot it was just as likely to be preventing an alien invasion, as trying to get to know some girl.
“Don’t start those rumours again. I didn’t get a girl to look at me for months after Kris broadcast that we were an item on his radio show. Apart from that girl Brenda, and all she wanted was to be my fag harpy!”
“It’s fag hag! And I’m only winding you up, sorry. Just relax and we’ll have a few drinks and you can tell me what the problem is.” John Paul restrained himself from laughing since Elliot seemed about as nervous as a bunny in a blender.

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


Elliot was convinced that he kept seeing Future Girl, that’s how he’d taken to referring to Spike’s Nemesis from the Dog, behind ever bush, coming through every open door, rappelling down from every virtual Black Hawk Helicopter. They had been sat in the SU Bar for well over an hour and Elliot could quite plainly see that John Paul was becoming quickly bored of his inane banter regarding some fictional problem with a physics assignment. Elliot had told Spike he wasn’t a good liar, he’d even known his hat to come out in a rash during a particularly humongous lie.
“Why don’t we go back to mine, grab something to eat. Then we’ll play the Playstation for a while, that might take your mind off it?” John Paul offered as a last ditch effort to retain consciousness during Elliot’s ramblings.
“Oh? That sound good, yes let’s do that, why didn’t I think of it!”
“Calm yourself! I need to use the toilet first. Finish you drink and I’ll be back in a mo.”

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


After almost an hour of tidying and cleaning, during which Jake had not moved, Craig decided he needed some fresh air. He considered momentarily asking Jake if he wanted to join him, but then he heard the snoring and decided against it.
He wandered with little purpose other than to put one foot in front of the other, into Hollyoaks village. Bypassing the Dog altogether, after this morning he wasn’t sure how welcome he was there anymore and he’d had enough shocks from his family today to last him a lifetime.
With the Dog out of the question, he decided to check out the SU Bar for a drink.

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


OH fuck me, that’s him.
Elliot sat frozen to his chair for several seconds, living in fear that Craig was going to join him. Then Craig walked right past his chair, completely oblivious to his presence. He kicked himself.
Of course Craig doesn’t have a bloody clue who I am. But there’s a certain blond haired, blue eyed boy; that’s going to come waltzing out of the gents any second now that he can’t help but notice.
Elliot made a decision, got swiftly to his feet and walked rapidly towards the toilets. Rapidly that was for Elliot, as it was accompanied by a series of “Excuse me!” and “Sorry!” as he nearly collided with half a dozen of the Bars patrons.
Eventually he made it into the toilet, thankfully before John Paul had vacated them. He was currently standing at the hand drier, drying his hands. He turned at the noise of the door barging open and gave Elliot a quizzical look.
Right, you idiot! What do you say now? Think, you’re supposed to be good at that!
“Kris has been making advances toward me!” The words were out of his mouth before he could consider there full implications.
“What!?”
“I don’t know how serious he is, it’s probably meant as a wind up, but I don’t know how to deal with it.” He gave John Paul his best earnest, Harry Potter at the mercy of Lord Voldemort, look.
John Paul seemed to consider for a few seconds, then stepped towards Elliot with a look in his eye that Elliot now recognised as compassion. Elliot endured the hug for about a minute, constantly in a state of panic that the door might open and Craig walk in. Eventually he shrugged off John Paul’s hold.
“Could we go back to yours now, I think I need time to calm down.”
“Of course, come on.” John Paul put a supportive arm around Elliot, leaving him feeling an even bigger shit than he already did. How many more lies was he going to have to tell before this was all over? Why had this seemed such a good idea in the first place?

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


Craig turned round from the bar with beer in hand. He didn’t recognise anyone in here. Well what did he expect really, a Saturday afternoon; most people would either be at football or out shopping. Many students would still be sleeping off the effects of last night’s overindulgence, normal students that was.
For a moment he thought he caught sight of a familiar figure coming out of the gents toilets. But when he turned and looked all he saw was that weird welsh student, what was his name, oh right Elliot. He had just walked out of the toilets with some guys arm around him.
Funny! I didn’t realise he was gay. Well you never know, then again, look whose talking!

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


(The Future)
General Zoe Valentine sat behind her rich mahogany desk and surveyed the three people sitting in front of her. All of them to a man, and a woman, were the best at what they did. Which was kill people; quietly, efficiently and with concern for order & detail.
“Major Anthony Owen, you understand the delicate nature of this mission. That not only if you are captured will we deny all knowledge of your presence there, but we actively encourage reports of you’re demise during this mission; successful or otherwise?”
All three faces remained impassive. All staring forward, whether through military conditioning or a complete lack of concern for their own lives, General Valentine didn’t know or particularly care. This wasn’t the first time, nor indeed would it be the last that she had sent people of to their deaths. It was however one of the few times she had been able to tell them about it in advance.
“Yes, Sir!” All three responded as one.
“You will leave all insignia and uniform of your service to the Confederacy behind you. You will take only the fake ID provided, and weapons that have no serial number on them. On the success of your mission, may rest the very future of the world! I envy you this great opportunity to serve your Nation and your Keeper. Go and keep the Cardy Code clear in your hearts and minds. Now in benediction recite after me.
“I am not Gay!”
“I am not Gay!”
“I love you John Paul!”
“I love you John Paul!”
“But I’m in love with Sarah!”
“But I’m in love with Sarah!”
In clipped military fashion, the two men & one woman whose names General Valentine would instantly forget filed out of the room. All being well within the week, news would reach her in Osborneville that the Hierophant of the McQueen Commonwealth was dead, killed in a cowardly terrorist attack.

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


(The Past)
“You want me to do what? I think you’ve got me confused with that neanderthal Jake, he’s the DIY man in the family.” Darren was actually close to tears, not because he was a big girl’s blouse, but because Mercy had a hold of his scrotal sack and was using it as a persuasive argument that he should do as he was told. Good God, this woman was keen on physical violence. Something sparked in her eye, when he mentioned Jake, something that was gone almost instantly. Was that regret?
“Listen Darren and listen well! Tonight when the pub closes you and I are going to put in these new security cameras, and we’re going to set up the box with the pivot where it gets the best view of the room. Then we need to connect it all up and conceal all the wiring and we can’t afford to enlist anyone else, too many people know about this already. This all needs to be done before we open tomorrow. Get that!”
“But I’m going to get splinters and break my nails, and I’ll get varnish all over my clothing.” Mercy slapped him.
“Stop getting hysterical. That’s most unattractive in a man. Just keep telling yourself that you don’t have any choice, because if you don’t help me you’re not any use to me; and if you’re not any use to me you’re a liability and then I would have to kill you.”
Mercy said it so dispassionately and so matter of factly, that Darren simply blinked once, wiped the tears from his face and nodded.
“Good! Believe you me it will go easier this way and remember it’s all in a good cause.”
“What’s that?” Asked Darren dejectedly.
“Keeping you’re bollocks inside their sack!” Mercy gave a quiet little chuckle as she walked out to the bar; leaving Darren to contemplate the hand that Fate had dealt him.

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


Elliot eventually managed to return to the college several hours later. It had taken nearly three hours to convince John Paul not to go round and “have it out” with Kris right away. Then another hour to secure a promise that he wouldn’t do just that as soon as Elliot had left.
He looked first in the lab. There was no sign of Spike; however the Temporal Device was sitting on a bench. Elliot examined it more closely, curiosity getting the better of him again.
The cracks had been closed up by some clear plastic resin, while the inside was filled with a substance that looked a lot to Elliot like Mercury. There was no lit up display, but there was several buttons and Elliot wondered if one of them would turn it on. He reached out to pick it up to get a closer look at them.
“Please don’t touch that, the resin is not quite dry yet.” Spike walked into the room carrying a small sheaf of paper with some ornate designs printed on them.
“Is it fixed, does it work?” Asked Elliot, backing away slowly from the device.
“I believe so, but I guess we’ll soon know.” Something about this registered with Elliot.
“Hold on! What do you mean we?”
“Me and you, we make a great team. Don’t you think?”
“But can more than one person travel with the same device?”
“As long as we maintain physical contact, the tachyon field should surround both of us.”
“I’m not sure!”
“Come on, Elliot! You’ve gone this far are you going to back out now, just as you get the chance to travel in time? We’ve got to test it out you know.” Two parts of Elliot vied for control; the scientific analytical curiosity and the terrified out of his skin little boy from Wales. Eventually the former exerted dominance.
“OK!” Spike had put down the sheaf of paper as he picked up the device and Elliot had the opportunity to examine the designs printed on them for the first time. “This is money!”
“I know!”
“Old Money! You’ve printed Old Money!”
“I got the images off the internet.”
Elliot picked them up to examine them closer. Yes, just as he had suspected.
“They don’t have a watermark.”
“A what?”
“These are from the 1950’s. They maybe didn’t have ultra violet scanners back then, but they still had watermarks, to guard against forgeries. Wait a minute!” Elliot fished into his pocket; pulling out a man-purse, with a picture of Gollum with the words “The Precious” emblazoned underneath. He rifled through the change for a few second and then pulled a two pence piece from among them; returning the remained of the change to his man-purse. “Have you got a damp cloth or sponge?”
It was Spikes turn to remain silent as he simply handed Elliot a damp sponge. Elliot held the sponge against the coin for a few seconds then began pressing it against the notes, repeating this action for each of them.
“Huh- hmm! Can I ask, purely out of curiosity Elliot where you picked up this knowledge?” Elliot blushed slightly.
“Er, it was a program on the Discovery Channel, I think. Who’d think it would ever come in useful?” Elliot was not a great liar, but Spike decided to let it go. “So why do we need currency from the 1950’s, surely to test it we could just go forward a minute? We could synchronise watches, leaving one behind to prove that we’d actually moved in time.”
“Why would we ever want to do something as ridiculous as that? Time isn’t a toy to be played with; we travel through time because we have something we need to do!” Elliot was very confused. As he stood gawping, Spike clipped the circlet around his own arm, the display lit up as he did so.
“What is it we need?”
“The final piece of the puzzle to bring about the Sunset Ending. But enough idle talk, grab on Elliot.” Elliot put an arm tentatively around Spike linking his two hands as tightly as his strength would allow.
“So where did you say we were going?”
“I didn’t! London, 1957. Hold On!” Spike pushed two buttons on the circlet and suddenly the world swirled away from them.

Chapter 7


Slowly the imperceptible vehicle descended toward the verdant plain below. The three figures on board felt a shudder through the deck as the Newt-3000 touched Earth once more.
They had landed some 15 miles from Leigh City. The stealth vehicle had eluded detection; through a combination of remaining close to the ground and it’s highly experimental chameleon technology. However, if their mission was truly one way, then no trace of how they arrived could remain.
Major Anthony Owen stepped from the vehicle, surveying the hot savannah before him. It would be good when these lands belonged to the Confederacy; it was always so blasted chilly in Osborneville.
“Come on Sergeant Reilly, we need to get going if we are going to avoid any patrols. Plus Captain Cunningham won’t activate the self destruct until you are no longer on board!” Major Owen wondered again at the choice of agents for this mission. All highly specialised, himself at logistics and tactics; Sergeant Gilly Reilly was an ox who could endure any amount of hardship, pain and torture to achieve his aim and Captain Louise Cunningham who, not to put to fine point on it, was a murdering psychopath. All desirable traits you may say for an assassination, but apart from himself the others were very much what you would call Lone Foxes.
As Captain Cunningham carried the last of the supplies they would need from the craft, the Major directed them to retreat 15 ft away from the craft and then they turned to watch.
“This is something you don’t see every day,” commented Sergeant Reilly noncommittally. “£15 million worth of hardware wilfully destroyed to no purpose.”
After about 30 seconds they heard a noise that sounded at first like grinding metal. Then slowly part of the exterior of the craft became visible and then instantly discoloured with rust.
“This is to the purpose of protecting the Confederacy against unfounded accusations of espionage and assassination.” Replied the Major, he scratched absently at the collar of his common miner’s shirt, the garb that they had taken to wear for this mission. It was already starting to irritate him in this heat.
After a minute the vehicle had taken on an almost translucent quality due to the number of holes in its surface.
“This craft will be the Commonwealth, without the Hierophant, eaten away from within; until eventually nothing remains.” The Major turned in surprise at these words. Captain Cunningham was known for verging on the comatose, so laconic were her moods. As he caught a glint in her deep dark eyes through the driller’s mask she wore he felt a shiver run up his spine, the dour appearance of her black cocooned body only added to this impression.
Glad that she is acting for us, rather than against us.
Within five minutes it bore more resemblance to a pile of scrap metal. Major Owen knew that within half an hour the microbes would have reduced it to dust that would be carried away on the wind. But they could not delay that long. He signalled for them to turn and set out on their journey.

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


“What was it you said again, brings you to our fine city, Mr Ashworth?” The old woman was already asking too many questions for Louise’s liking, but she would let the Major handle this for now. After, she could always wait and break her neck once they set off on the mission. To late then for anyone to care about one middle aged landlady.
“We had a weeks leave and decided to come in to see the Hoppers game this weekend.” Louise watched the decaying sack of muscle and bones contort her face into a rictus imitation of life as she attempted to convey that her existence was not an endless parade of misery from which she sought release.
“The Bunny Cricket! Oh, my old man was a big fan of the Leigh Hoppers! My Charlie, oh how I miss him. Three years he’s been gone now, left me to run this place on me own, but, mustn’t grumble! Now two rooms was it, one for the two gents and another for the young…” She hesitated as she looked directly at Louise for the first time. “…Lady was it?”
“Yes that will be fine, Mrs Rafferty. If you just hand us the keys and some directions I’m sure we can find our own way up.”
“Never here of it, what would people say.” She gave a smile that spoke of more than just dictates of hospitality. Oh Flaming Cardies’, the harpy was in heat for the Major. Well his funeral if she chose to do anything about it. “Aren’t you rather warm in all that apparel dearie?” She said regarding Louise’s garb, which covered every inch of her body.
“She’s a driller, Mrs Raffery. She prefers not to take it off, due to an unfortunate accident she had, involving some solvents a few years back. She prefers not to talk about it!”
“Oh!” Mrs Rafferty seemed lost for words for the second time, involving Louise. Good! “So you came all the way from Mercedes Gulch to see the Hoppers play?”
“I never said we from the Gulch, no we’re from Little Michaela. That’s about a hundred miles south of the Gulch.” If she asked one more question about where they were from, Louise would not be able to control her hands; she would simply reach out and break her neck on instinct.
“I love the roar of the crowd, when the bunny goes flying for the perimeter and nobody is sure where it will land.” Sergeant Reilly began somewhat distracted. “If it lands inside, then the bunny… Ouch!”
“Sorry, Mike! Tripped there.” Louise withdrew the knife that she had just pricked Gilly’s butt with. The damn fool had almost given the game away, literally.
“Well here we are and here’s your keys Mr Ashworth. Now don’t you hesitate if you need anything, fine gentlemen like yourself in the big city. Anything at all!”
“Thank you Mrs Rafferty! I’m sure we’ll be fine.” He saw the dawning look of disappointment on the landlady’s face. “But if we think of anything, I know where you are.”
“Right you are then!” The antique delusional corpse wandered off down the stairwell leaving them alone at last. Louise did not move until she heard her enter her room downstairs and heard the door click shut.
“What the fuck did you stab me for?” Gilly made as if to make a grab for her, Louise didn’t even flinch, ready to react if the threat became real, the Major however interjected and thrust Gilly against the wall, pinning his arm behind his back.
“You damn fool, you almost rumbled us to the old dear.” The Major whispered sternly in his ear. Gilly was turning a deep shade of Crimson.
“What did I say; I was just talking about the Bunny Cricket!” The big lummox was starting to struggle. Louise was taking a certain pleasure from watching the Major’s decaying control of the situation.
“Yes! In the Confederacy!” The Major let go of the Sergeant, stepping back. “But in the Commonwealth they don’t play Bunny Cricket with real Bunnies!”

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


The Blue-Winged Sun Moth, was much cherished across the Commonwealth. Partly for its holy colours, but also as due to an old superstition the appearance of a flight of Sun Moths’ was supposed to presage a great change, generally for the better. One lone Sun Moth had, due to effort of some unpredictable thermals, became separated from the rest of his colony. It flew across glimmering stone edifices that offered no solace and only furnace like heat in the blistering afternoon sun. Several children, who spotted the reflection of sunlight off its wings that sparked with azure radiance, became very excitable for a few seconds; before it slipped from their view. At last it sensed the cool calming eddies’s that could only come from a body of water. It began its descent, broaching a tall stone wall and descending toward a garden paradise; then the momentary bliss died as it was scorched in a spark of incandescent blue Ozone.

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


Grand Vizier Sonny Barnes, watched the final descent of the Sun Moth, its body blackened by the Garden of Rest’s Energy Shield. He had no time for superstition, but he did acknowledge that simple things could be beautiful and even that there could be beauty in death. As its blackened body struck the pool, its simple struggle had evaporated from the Grand Viziers mind.
He turned his attention to the young boy who sat idly on the bench beside the Calming Pool.
“How do you find your studies, my young McQueen?”
The boy looked up momentarily from his consideration of the pools surface. He squinted up at the Grand Vizier through his blond curls and pursed his lips slightly.
“My teachers say I will be a brilliant student, but I want to play. I don’t have any friends Sonny.” A frown darkened the freckles that decorated the young boys face. The Grand Vizier cupped his cheek gently in his hand.
“You have me Tom. We’re friends, aren’t we?” Sonny smiled down at the young protégé, giving his best impression of genuine compassion & warmth.
“Yes, of course! But you’re a grown up friend. I want friend my own age. Why can’t I have that Sonny?” Sonny ran his hand through the youngster’s curls, taking a more fatherly demeanour.
“Because there are no children your age that would be suitable companions for one of your standing Tom. Never forget, one day you will be John Paul the 37th, and you are not like other boys. There is a greatness within you that would either leave them in awe or even worse envious of your greatness. Neither emotion is the mark of a friend.” He blessed the boy again with one of his rare smiles. “That is why only those of us who understand the court can truly talk to you as something approaching an equal Tom. We all grew up within these same constrictions; it is the only way for one who is destined to be closest to the Ascended One.”
Sonny seemed to consider for a moment, then held his hand out for Tom McQueen, Heir to the Hierophant, to grasp.
“However, holy as your destiny might be, never let it be said that court duties do not make time for Ice Cream!” Tom took his hand, leaping from the bench.
“Can I have chocolate buttons on mine?” Tom beamed his winning smile, which had always worked on the Grand Vizier; at least it suited Sonny to let him think so.
“Always!” for the third time in as many minutes, Sonny smiled.

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


Gilly watched from the rooftop opposite, as Captain Cunningham scaled the side of the Hostelry where, their information said, the Envoy’s from Mercedes Gulch would be staying. He didn’t see why they should take such a roundabout way of getting at the Hierophant, there must be some times when a suitable combination of brute force and surprise would achieve the same results without running these unnecessary risks. But he supposed that was why nobody asked for his opinion in these matters.
He watched as Louise dealt quickly with the security locks on the window and within seconds slipped inside. If all went according to plan, the Envoys would be dead within the hour and they would assume their place. And when they were called to the Hagia Myra tomorrow, the Hierophant would be easy pickings.

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


Grand Vizier Sonny Barnes stared at the execution orders on the screen before him, simply waiting for the press of a key. People thought such decisions, to take a human life, came easy to him. Not so! He cared about every one of his people and if they lived their life in a way that befitted there place in the scheme of things, then they will come to no harm from the State as long as Sonny Barnes was in charge. Subservient to the Hierophants wishes, of course!
There was a knock at the Antique Oak door. Sonny considered momentarily telling whoever it was to go away. He was not supposed to be disturbed for other than matters of extreme urgency. It was that thought which decided him.
“Enter!”
The door opened briefly and a dark clothed non-descript figure slid through the crack. The door closed swiftly behind it, so quickly that had Sonny blinked he might never even have noticed it open.
“Zoe!” The Grand Vizier set the screen to stand by. Looking up at the figure, she seemed almost to hover in the middle of the room. “I don’t suppose you’ll take a seat?”
The figure seemed to wait for some prearranged but inscrutable signal before it would speak. She was definitely the most resourceful and talented of Sonny’s agent, but she was also the most exasperating.
“What news?” Sonny gave up with the game and rose from his chair, moving toward the drinks decanter.
“Rumour from the Confederacy, that an assassination squad may well have been sent to take out high level political targets within the Commonwealth.” The voice sent a chill through the room, Sonny momentarily hesitated; then proceeded at the same measured pace towards the decanter.
“Jack Osborne’s?” He poured without awaiting an answer he knew would never come. Then he came to a decision, before throwing back the glass of Whisky.
“You never came to me with this!” There was an almost imperceptible nod. “Meanwhile you are assigned a new duty; you will be my personal protector, 24/7 until such time as we can ascertain if there is any truth behind these non-rumours. Understand?” A second nod. “Good! Now get out of my sight!” And she did, without leaving the room, she became invisible.
Damn Chameleon technology! Rumour has it the other side have made similar advances, but we can’t be sure who is ahead of the game. Got to admit ours is pretty quick though.

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


John Paul the Thirty Sixth, Hierophant of the Holy Hoodie and Head of the McQueen Commonwealth; was perplexed by a button.
“Surely it’s a hook and not a button?” He struggled once more, managing to secure one more button, before one at the bottom of the garment came away again. “Carmel, please! I’m not a young man any more, my fingers are not as nimble as they once were.”
“It’s actually both, your eminence!” Said Carmel as she took control, thoughtlessly batting away the Hierophants hands; which required a slight shake of John Paul’s head to not have her executed, by his guards, on the spot. “The button passes through the hook, thus holding it in place. I swear you’ve grown since I measured you for these, it’s not my fault your holiness can’t keep his hands off of the pastries.”
“More like chocolate buttons!” Mumbled the Leader of the Commonwealth.
“Sorry, your Greatness?”
“Nothing Carmel.” John Paul looked down at the gold and white stripes of his, now, perfectly fitted Holy Hoodie. “I told you all it needed was a pair of young, agile fingers. Thank you, Carmel!”
Carmel blushed, which brought a smile to John Paul’s face. A smile that immediately slipped away, when a messenger arrived with a reminder of Affairs of State.
“The Envoys have arrived from Mercedes Gulch your Holiness. Shall I show them to the Hagia Sophia?”
John Paul gave Carmel a pained look.
“Never allow yourself to be persuaded to lead a nation my dear; they’ll never leave you alone.” He whispered to her.
“Oh, I wouldn’t your excellency. Surely they could find someone better suited to the job than a humble tailor?” She almost, but not quite concealed the smile that threatened to spread across her face. John Paul gave her a sharp appraising look.
“Was that a pun, Carmel? Surely the lowest form of wit?”
“Only for those far to lofty to appreciate them, your Holiness!” John Paul laughed. An event that seemed to spark consternation & confusion amongst the messenger and his guards alike. John Paul after a few moments turned, once more composed, to the messenger.
“I think Max, that I will meet with them in the Atrium.”
“Very good, your Holiness!” Max turned and exited from the Hierophants chambers.
Carmel began packing her things into a brown leather case.
“Where are you going my dear?” The Hierophant gazed at her with those deep azure eyes, that some heretics claimed were genetically engineered into all Hierophants, when any devout McQueenite knew they were a divine gift from the Ascended John Paul the First.
“You have affairs of state to deal with your Magnificence, and my business here is complete.” She looked down, unable to stand the kindness and love she saw in those eyes.
“Humour an Old Man, Carmel. Stand by my side for a short while longer.” Carmel gasped, looking once more into those sapphire pools. Her mouth formed an inaudible “Why?” and the Hierophant simply shook his head.
“It’s a lonely life, when you’re the closest being to God in the world. Nobody can ever be your equal, and nobody can talk to you like you’re a real human being, after all you’re almost divine. You spoke to me like a person Carmel, please indulge me for a while longer, before my Ministers find out and separate us.” He gave her a wan and heartfelt smile.

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


Captain Sarah Fisher followed the Envoys from Mercedes Gulch into the long rectangular atrium. The fountain that bubbled away in the centre of the pool was as close to a replica of that which stood in Hollyoaks village as the artist could muster, statue and all. Meanwhile the day had begun slightly overcast, so the opening to the sky above was failing to light the room to her total satisfaction, leaving to many dark corners.
The Hierophant was waiting with another two guards and a woman; that it took a few seconds for Sarah to process where she had seen her before. Oh yes, the Tailor! Carmel, wasn’t it?
Max walked ahead of the Envoys, while Sarah and the other Guard brought up the rear.
“Your Holiness, may I present…” Was the last words Max ever managed to utter, as his body exploded across the pool, the spray of blood iridescent crimson in the pale light.
Sarah reacted instantly, throwing herself to one side, while drawing her weapon. She saw the guard to her left propelled backward by a shot from one of the energy weapon’s that the envoys had suddenly produced. Her brain swiftly processed the observation that the envoys had changed appearance since the weapons were fired.
Chameleon Nets. But so much better than anything we’ve got. John Paul, they can simulate others appearance.
This was quickly pushed to the back of her mind for later reference, as she blasted one of the assassins with her Mercedes-15. The large hulking brute flew against one of the pillars, causing structural damage, before collapsing to the ground.
Sarah didn’t even think about it, she rolled the length of the atrium, towards the last known location of the Hierophant, feeling the searing heat of a disruptor weapon demolishing yet more masonry behind her.
She rotated quickly, firing this time at the corner of the skylight, this sent masonry raining down upon the somewhat shocked figure who has seconds ago opened fire upon her. Her eyes sought out the location of the Hierophant.
The scene she came across was not the one she expected. The Hierophant was knelt behind a pillar for safety and the two guards lay dead, both taken out by disrupter blasts that the Holy Hoodie had evidently protected the Hierophant from. However the remaining assassin did not have the Hierophant at their mercy. The Tailor, Carmel, had produced a length of rope from somewhere and had managed to disarm & incapacitate them. Exactly how this had been achieved was unclear, but Sarah’s relief was palpable.
Sarah walked over to the pair, looking briefly at the surviving assassin. Then glancing round she gave Carmel an appraising look.
“Well done!” The Hierophant had risen from his place of concealment, he stumbled forwards. Sarah moved to interpose herself between him and any further danger.
“I want to see the face of my assassin!” His voice would brook no contradiction. Sarah stepped aside.
The one on the ground was wearing what looked like a driller’s mask from one of the deep mines. Sarah stopped the Hierophant from reaching forward and took the mask off herself. The figure was a woman and her face was a dispassionate mask of psychosis. She stared levelly towards the Hierophant.
“Why?” The question slipped from his lips. The assassin licked her lips.
“Long live the Spike Hegemony and its Army of Genocide!” What happened next all happened to fast for Sarah to be sure of the order of things.
Carmel seemed to give a tug on the rope almost as if in response to this pronouncement. Whatever reason caused her to do it, it obviously slackened the rope somewhere else, as a result a hand suddenly shot out from the assassin. It seemed to grab the Hierophant around the ankle. Suddenly the Hierophant was falling, while a smile broke out on the face of the assassin. Carmel realising her mistake too late grabbed the fallen assassins weapon, pointed it right at her head and pulled the trigger.
“No…” was all the cry that Sarah managed to utter before the disruptor energy ripped through not only the assassin’s head, but also into her body throwing her back into the pool. Her last sight before she sunk into unconsciousness; was of Carmel bent over the Hierophants prone body, tears streaming down her face.

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


Grand Vizier Sonny stood within the ruins of the once beautiful Atrium. Somehow in all the carnage, the statue and the fountain had survived unscathed.
He looked down at the Hierophant’s cold body. The ex-Hierophant he reminded himself. There would be a new Hierophant now, too young to take office, so the Grand Vizier would stand as regent; as tradition dictated.
He looked down once more, with a look almost of admiration.
Poison! Not clumsily applied to food, or smeared upon a weapon, well not a traditional weapon anyway. Infused within a second skin, sown over the assassins own skin. They were a walking incarnation of Death, anything they touched would die. They must have had to completely cover their body just to avoid killing untimely strangers.
Sonny turned as he sensed the dark presence of Zoe re-enter the room. She drifted through the Atrium seemingly unaffected by the carnage around her.
“How fares the surviving guard?”
“She’ll live. Falling into the water actually helped save her.” Good thought Sonny, then she’ll hopefully be able to explain this mess.
“And the Tailor?”
“We’ve found no trace of her in the Palace. She must have exited already, in which case you should seal the city to stop her leaving.”
“Don’t tell me what to do!” Sonny screamed. “We need to presume she was somehow involved in all this. Find her, whatever it takes!”
Zoe gave zero reaction to this outburst.

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


Carmel was breathing heavily, both from her now dry sobs, but also from the fact that she’d been running for over half an hour.
She couldn’t have gone back to her place of business, that was the first place they’d look. So she had headed to the house of a friend’s that was near the wall. However she had not anticipated how quickly the streets would fill up with troops.
Eventually she made it to an alleyway, that led to the back of her friends shop and as she desperately knocked upon the door, it quickly opened almost as if she was expected. She fell quickly into the hands of the man inside, sobbing once more.
“Oh, Calvin, the Hierophants dead. We’re all fucked!”

 

 

 

Chapter 8

 

 

 

(The Past: London, 1957)
They had been there a couple of days. They had found a small hotel on, of all places, Dean Street, where the landlady had “no problem” with a couple of young gentlemen “such as yourself” sharing a room, as long they kept things quiet and paid their dues on time. Elliot was sure he didn’t know what she was getting at.
Spike had sat him down when they arrived and explained what they were doing there, the relevance of the person they were here to see and why it was so vital to the Sunset Ending. Any other person would have probably thought Spike was insane, but then any other person probably would never have got this far. Elliot had thought about it for a bit then went back to Spike.
“This couldn’t possibly damage the timeline? We will be careful about that?” He asked his face intent and serious.
“There are no guarantees, Elliot, but I will be there every step of the way and I promise to do my utmost to guard against such an event occurring. Surely the risks are worth it however, if it involves humanities future?!”
And that was the last they had discussed the matter.
They had acquired more fitting clothes for the period, feeling quite nervous the first time they spent some of the money in a shop. The clerk however was totally taken in by Spikes smart appearance and confident demeanour; he quite strangely seemed to assume that Elliot was Spike’s errant nephew or some such. Elliot was somewhat offended, after all he didn’t look that much younger than Spike; just because he chose to follow his own style, didn’t mean he dressed like a child!
Spike had picked up several local music rags, to discover who might be playing, which particular venues on which particular nights. Jazz was very much an underground music scene of that time, not something that you would find advertising in the nationals. On the third day of pouring over the periodicals they struck gold.
“An early evening session, the sound of a new young talent, the music of Peggy Lee & Ella Fitzgerald. This is her!” Spike became quite animated and excited, Elliot found it infectious. Also much as he was having an “adventure” so to speak, back here in the past, he missed the home comforts and technological amenities that made up his day to day life. If this meant they would soon be going home, all the better.
“So we go to see her tonight then?” Elliot felt a slight flutter inside, somewhere between nerves and excitement. Or it could just be wind, the food here really didn’t agree with him. When he complained about the simple fair, asking if the landlady did anything other than Toad in the Hole or Bubble & Squeak he had got a lecture about how he should be grateful that they didn’t bring back rationing. He hadn’t said anything after that.
“It says 8pm, we’ll try and arrive early, maybe we can talk to her beforehand!” Spike suddenly seemed nervous. “What if she won’t see us though?”
Elliot could see Spikes confidence crumbling, so much rested on this; he was suddenly having pre-performance jitters. Elliot remembered Steph talking about them, although always as if it was something other people suffered from, never Stephanie Della Dean. He decided to try giving Spike a “pep talk”.
“Come on, this isn’t how Spoke McIntyre would talk would it. She’ll be swept away by your charm and professionalism. How could she not?”
Spike seemed to buck up after this and they discussed what they were going to wear and how best to get to the club.

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


Great Windmill Street was one of those streets that the ill educated might describe as dingy or grimy. Certainly not the sort of place you would want your daughter wandering late at night on her own. However in the centre of Soho it was a brightly neon lit thoroughfare, populated by the young & bohemian, seeking an escape from the mundane existence that was the suburbs.
The first thing Spike noticed was that there were two signs for the building where they were heading. One directed upstairs to a gym and boxing club, the other to Mac’s Rehearsal Rooms & Cy Laurie’s Jazz Club on the ground floor. At this time of night the door was closed and nobody was outside.
Spike adopted his persona and strode upto the door and rapped three times upon the thick wooden portal.
After a few minute the door was opened by a tall thin man in a dark pinstripe suit.
“The club don’t open for a half hour yet.” He gave the two of them the once over, then seemed to see something in Spike’s demeanour that gave him cause to reappraise him. “You got some business with the boss?”
Spike pulled out a card, he’d had produced for the occasion.
“Spoke McIntyre, I’m a club owner from Chester, place called the Dog on the Pond. I’m down scouting for fresh talent from the Big City that could be tempted to make the journey north for the right encouragement. Trying to get a jazz club off the ground in Chester isn’t exactly a picnic.”
The pin-stripe man gave a snort of understanding.
“Ain’t exactly a cake walk in London buddy. Names Terry by the way, so you’re here to see the line up. Well the boss ain’t here yet, but suppose you could come in the now, get a feel for the place and maybe get to talk to some of the guys.” He held the door open ushering them into a narrow wood panelled corridor leading back into a darkened room beyond.
Among the posters adorning the wall of the corridor, Spike spotted one with a picture of a long auburn haired young girl. The date was tonight and emblazoned above the picture was the banner “introducing Mary O’Brien, Soho’s newest singing sensation, accompanied by Cy Laurie and his Band.”
“Who’s that?” he asked as Terry closed the door. He turned and looked closely at the poster.
“Oh, that’s Dion’s little sister. She performed around here a couple of times, voice of an angel. But she’s still 17 so we need to have her on early. The real acts are on later though and it’s not unusual for the place to close about six or seven in the morning.” He started his progress along the corridor. “C’mon, I’ll introduce you!”
They followed Terry into a darkened nightclub. The ambience was dark and intimate, with a dance floor surrounded by dilapidated sofas. A few early punters were already sitting talking with the musicians, while they sipped G&T’s and Martini’s.
“Dion, this bloke here is interested in your sister!” Terry shouted at a tall dark haired, handsome figure in a smart grey suit. He turned from talking to a lean figure with a ponytail and drew Terry a look that could kill a person at twenty paces. Spike was momentarily worried that there first contact had actually been with someone who had a grudge against the O’Brien’s; but this was immediately quelled when Dion’s look changed to one that would merely smother the person in a big bear hug.
God, he was a good looking man! He walked over towards them, taking the measure of Spike & Elliot as he did. He seemed to notice Spike’s appraising looks towards himself and simply smiled.
“Don’t think Mary’s his type.” Dion smiled at Spike. “So, what’s your intentions towards me little sister?”
“I want to hire her for a gig at my new Club in Chester. I’ll pay travel expenses and hotel accommodation to put her up overnight and I’ll pay her £10 for the night. If it works out, it could lead to further engagements.”
“£10 you say, for one night. Good God man, that’s a lot of money. Chester’s also a hefty journey. I’ll need to think on it, talk to Mary. You’re sticking around though, I’ll get you a table, enjoy the sights if you know what I mean.” Dion winked at Elliot, who looked doubly confused. “Most of the people they get in here are regulars, so you can relax you’re among friends. We’ll talk more later, you can bet on it!” With that he strode off backstage.
Spike turned to ask Terry how he thought it had gone, but Terry didn’t look happy.
“£10 and you didn’t even know the girl before you got here. I don’t think so, what’s your game, buddy?!”

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


It had taken nearly an hour to convince Terry Pills that they were not somehow involved with organised crime and this approach to Mary O’Brien was not part of some set-up to move in on the club. Spike had used every wile and wheedle in the book and some that the author had never thought to include, because nobody would ever buy something that improbable. Elliot was fairly impressed, despite his earlier fears Spike was exuding confidence tonight and there was something quite comforting about that, even striking.
This had resulted in them having no time at all to seek out their target before she performed. They were now sat at a table that Dion had reserved specially for them, near the front, sprawled on a comfy brown two-seater couch watching as Mary O’Brien demurely took the stage. She looked like she might make a break for it at any moment as she took the stage, but as soon as the spotlight hit her she stood up tall and smiled at the audience.
“Good Evening!” She mumbled into the microphone. Her long dark hair reminded Elliot of Rhianon, but that wasn’t a good memory, so he turned and looked at Spike. The band began to play, Elliot was peripherally aware that the clarinettist seemed to be slightly on the over-enthusiastic side, as he began to swing his instrument from side to side, Terry on the trombone narrowly avoiding being struck several time as he seemed to anticipate it’s swing.
Then slowly she began to sing.
The way you wear your hat
The way you sip your tea
The memory of all that
No, no, they can't take that away from me
Spike looked at him strangely; at first he thought he had something on his face.
“You’re wearing your hat!” Spike said sotto voce.
“No I’m not!” Whispered Elliot somewhat uselessly, as he so obviously was. He’d had it stuffed in his pocket and as soon as they were safely ensconced in the sofa he had stuffed it on, it just made him feel more comfortable.
“Take it off!” Spike said, as sternly as he could, while whispering. Elliot shook his head that was his mother talking; the hat was what made Elliot, Elliot, not just his mother’s dutiful son. Spike reached over and made to rip the woollen bonnet from Elliot’s cranium.
The way your smile just beams
The way you sing off key
The way you haunt my dreams
No, no, they can't take that away from me
Spike’s hand brushed against Elliot’s face as he reached for the hat, but instead of immediately taking it away, it seemed to linger there. Elliot face started to glow red, blame it on the music, blame it on the several glasses of Vermouth he’d already consumed, but it almost felt like a charge leapt from Spike’s hand to his face, then again it could also be the fashionable lush acrylic carpeting. Suddenly the one foot of space between them on the old leather couch seemed like the most unbridgeable gap and shortest step in history simultaneously.
We may never, never meet again
On the bumpy road to love
Still, I'll always, always keep the memory of
Elliot was frozen in time! He watched as if detached, but instantly central to the whole proceedings. Spike began to lean towards him and something in the music, something in the voice of the young angel singing, told him this was OK. Almost unbidden he felt himself moving toward Spike, collision imminent!
The way you hold your knife
The way we danced till three
The way you changed my life
No, no, they can't take that away from me
No, they can't take that away from me
Slowly, uncertainly their lips connected, Elliot felt like the world was all suddenly watching as he revealed the formula to the Unified Field Theory to the Nobel Committee. This was something so new, yet it felt so good. Someone was kissing him, not because they were told to, or they felt sorry for him; because they wanted to.
We may never, never meet again
On the bumpy road to love
Still, I'll always, always keep the memory of
“Oi, Queer Boys! Get the fuck out of my sight, before I call the coppers!”
The club filled with a deathly hush. Elliot froze for a second his lips still stuck limpet style to Spike’s. Then, suddenly he leapt backwards. He turned as he saw a man in a blue pinstripe suit, dark hair, moustache and large sideburns looming over their couch. He took him at first for a member of the clubs staff he just hadn’t seen before.
“I…I…I’m not Gay!” He stuttered.
“Don’t care how unhappy you are, me and me girl don’t come here to watch that kind of thing!”
Spike stood up and looked the man straight in the eye.
“Why don’t you just back off friend. This here’s nobodies business but ours!” The man seemed momentarily caught off guard. This was obviously not the sort of response he expected from a “Queer!”
“What’s going on here?!” The clarinettist from the band walked over towards them, having placed his instrument on its stand first, Terry stood at his shoulder. If Elliot thought Terry was thin, this guy could only be described as weedy. Not the sort of guy you’d be confident of getting people to give him their undivided attention, but his whole manner and demeanour said otherwise.
“This pair of Queers. They were putting my bird of her dinner; I swear I never saw anything so gross.” Elliot saw a look exchanged between the weedy guy and Terry and started to suspect who the weedy guy might well be. At a nod from him, Terry moved towards the interloper grabbing him by the collar with a surprisingly strong grip for such a slightly built guy.
“I don’t care what they were upto!” Said the clarinettist, gesturing towards the door. “Anyone who disturbs the music in Cy Laurie’s club is out and that goes for your bird as well.”
The guy tried to struggle, but suddenly found himself outnumbered as several regulars rose from their tables to assist with his expulsion. His girlfriend rose somewhat demurely from their table and apologetically followed him out of the club.
When Terry returned, they got no more than a simple nod from Cy; the band retook the stage; then after a brief applause, they began to play again as if nothing had happened.

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


The set ended about quarter past nine, with no further repeat of the incident between Spike and Elliot. In fact Elliot had sat with his arms crossed at the far end of the couch for the remainder of the performance, if he could have extended the length of the couch; to say, all the way back to Chester, he probably would have. Spike kicked himself internally; he was going to need to sort this.
“Elliot, listen to me…”
“Look! I’m straight me, I thought you understood that.” Elliot seemed genuinely upset; he could hear the tears building in his voice.
“I didn’t say you weren’t. Look where I come from, it’s a different standard. People are practically encouraged to fool around with the same sex. It doesn’t mean I’m in love with you.” At least he hoped he wasn’t. “We worship a Gay man as a divine being for John Paul’s sake.”
Even Elliot couldn’t suppress an involuntary chuckle at this.
“Just put it down to what it was, a kiss between friends, getting carried away by the atmosphere and the music. And the fact that I was irresistibly hot and you couldn’t help yourself!”
“Someone has a high opinion of himself, for the record I’m the only one that’s that irresistible in here.” Elliot had been sitting slack jawed at Spike’s last comment, unsure how to respond. This interruption made him jump as he turned to see Dion O’Brien and a young woman standing by their table. Spike had to admit Dion had a point.
Dion pulled up some chairs so they could join them, Elliot realising there was a lady present stood and offered her his seat. She declined timidly, that was when Spoke realised it was Dion’s sister Mary. She looked so different; her hair had been put up, she’d changed into a grey skirt and beige top and most radical of all was wearing glasses. Spike got to his feet.
“Miss O’Brien.” Spike offered her his hand. “Spoke McIntyre, you have a once in a generation voice and with your brother’s permission and your consent, I’d love you to sing at my club.” Mary blushed and nervously took Spike’s hand.
“Please, call me Mary.” She murmured so that only the present company could overhear her.
“And she knows who you are and all about your offer Mr McIntyre.” Dion’s face took on a serious mien. “We’re willing to accept your offer with certain guarantees and believe you me; if anything goes amiss you’ll have more than just me to answer to. You don’t know what trouble is until you mess with an Irish Catholic family.”

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


(The Past: Hollyoaks Village, 2008)
Elliot felt a sense of relief, but at the same time a sense of ennui to be back in Hollyoaks. He had experienced things that no man had ever experienced before and lived to tell the tale. Although he would of course never be able to tell anyone about them, because nobody would believe him for a start. Then there was that thing that he really didn’t want to think about, but every time he did left him feeling warm, fuzzy and confused.
Himself and Spike were sitting by the fountain, Spike still in his suit from the past, while Elliot was once again comfortable in his regular apparel.
“Now you know what you need to do, it’s currently Saturday. You need to persuade Darren to have her sing tomorrow night, that’s when we’ll arrive.” Spike was once more wringing his hands. He seemed so confident when he took charge of a situation, but as soon as something was out of his control he seemed to revert to being the awkward geeky scientist that Elliot had first met, was it only six days ago (well three days in linear time).
“Don’t worry!” Elliot tried to exude some of the confidence he had observed in Spike. “There’s never anything happening on a Sunday night; and anyway considering some of the dodgy theme night’s Darren has arranged in the past, persuading him to book a beautiful young Chanteuse should be like shooting fish in barrel.”
They both stood up from the bench and then stood facing each other, awkwardness excreting from every pore.
“Listen…” Spike began.
“Don’t mention it!” Elliot quickly interjected, before Spike wandered into territory he wasn’t ready to wander into yet, if he ever was. “Just go get her; I’ll see you in the Dog tomorrow, right?”
Spike simply nodded. He glanced around to make sure nobody was looking; he stood back, pressed two buttons on the Temporal Device and left Elliot alone for the first time in nearly a week.
Elliot pulled down the edges of his hat tight over his ears and wandered off towards the Dog, hands in pockets.

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


“What did Elliot want?” Darren visibly jumped at Nancy’s words. She liked having that effect on him; he was a pale imitation of a man. Not like her Jake… but then she shoved those thoughts to one side.
“I didn’t even know you were standing there.” He looked at her anxiously; then turned away from the bar so that Calvin, who was sitting there couldn’t overhear their conversation. “What’s Elliot got to do with this anyway?”
“I’ll ask the questions!” Nancy’s Sensor had told her the moment Elliot had walked into the pub. She had grown somewhat concerned that her nanobug had been discovered and eliminated, unlikely as that was. The signal had been lost completely for several hours earlier on today.
“He was bringing me a message, some singing contact of Steph’s, looking to perform here tomorrow night.”
“What did you say?” Nancy asked with steel in her voice.
“I said sure. As long as she’s not looking to get paid, I’m willing to give her a trial.” Darren looked like he was ready to wet himself if she even suggested that wasn’t the answer she’d wanted to hear.
They were interrupted by a cough from Calvin at the bar. Darren, after a moment’s hesitation, and a nod from Nancy, swung round and approached the bar.
“Yes Mate, same again?”

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


(The Past: 1957, between London & Chester)
It was a three to four hour train Journey depending on how much coal the train had taken on and how good the engineer was. All of which meant nothing to the passengers; other than a prolonged, uncomfortable journey.
Spike & Mary were sharing a compartment with an elderly businessman in a black pin-stripe suit. He had nodded politely at them upon boarding, but other than that he had read his Financial Times and kept to himself.
At least he would have, had Spike not decided that it would be a good idea at one point to open a window to let some fresh air in. The fresh air lasted about two seconds then suddenly Spike got a mouthful of soot, just before the businessman slammed the window shut with the aid of his umbrella.
“Young man, that was a very foolish thing to do. One would think you’d never travelled on a train before!” That was all the admonishment he received, as the man turned back to his paper. Spike mumbled an apology and then noticed that Mary was barely suppressing a giggle. She blushed when he looked at her and handed him a hanky with which to wipe the soot off his face.
“I’m more used to travelling by car.” Spike eventually said somewhat lamely, by way of explanation. Mary just smiled. “If it wasn’t such a long journey I’d have driven to Chester. If you come back in a year or two, Mr McMillan will have opened the new motorways and it might even be quicker by road than by train.” This received what sounded like a dubious “harrumph” from the businessman, but his eyes didn’t even stray for a second from his paper, so Spike put it down to a tickly throat.
Mary took the hanky from him, seeing what a mess he was making of cleaning his face. She wet a corner of it and began to wipe the remaining smears from his face.
“I don’t know if I like Mr McMillan. I’m not very political, but Mr Eden had a more trustworthy face, I think. I’m not sure I trust Mr McMillan.” At last Mary seemed satisfied with her work and sat back once more.
“You’ll still be travelling by train, young lady, next year and for the foreseeable future, because you’re trustworthy Mr Eden managed to make a hash of the entire Middle East; what with the Suez crisis.It will take a better man than Harold McMillan to put that back together in such a short space of time. We’ll probably have fuel rationing again before too long.”
Spike & Mary were both stunned into silence, by the old mans outburst; he had already returned to his paper, apparently feeling he had distributed the requisite wisdom to put the young back on the correct path.
“I don’t really know much about politics, it doesn’t really interest me.” Whispered Mary conspiratorially.
“Me neither!” Confided Spike, in a spirit of bonhomie. The two of them were unable to suppress a fit of the giggles, which gained them a further puzzled stare from their companion; however after another “harrumph” he returned to his FT.
“You know music though?” Spike asked, knowing the answer already.
“Oh, yes! Ella Fitzgerald, Jelly Roll Morton and especially Peggy Lee. I absolutely love her voice, I could listen to her for hours at home. There was always music around the house when I was growing up.”
“You’ve heard her recording of Cole Porters, ‘I’ve Got You Under My Skin’? It was off her last album ‘Black Coffee’?” Spike was hoping this would be enough to set her off, he knew Mary was an obsessive and was sure that once set on that path she wouldn’t even notice if his contributions to the conversation were meaningful or glib.
Fortunately for him, he was correct in his assessment and by the time they reached Hollyoaks he had to admit his knowledge of the music of Miss Norma Deloris Egstrom (aka Peggy Lee), had increased astoundingly.

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


The two figures stood outside the doorway of the Dog. It really hadn’t changed that much in the fifty years between now and when they would next to set foot within it.
“Nervous, Mary?” Queried Spike.
Mary smiled wanly and then shook her head.
“Always! And please Spoke, call me Dusty! All my friends do!”
With that Spike took her arm, they stepped through the doorway. Simultaneously Spike pressed two buttons on the temporal device held in his hand and the world spun.

 

 

 


***

 

 

(Credit where credits due, I mainly used Wikipedia for a lot of the historical stuff in this chapter. But a few other sites require crediting for information I depended on to try and keep this as accurate as I could. Any faults or mistakes are completely mine, not their’s.)
http://www.dusty-springfield.com/biography.html (for all stuff Dusty)


http://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/English/Collections/ (for choosing the venue)


http://www.btinternet.com/~jazzworld/cylaurie.htm (although his appearance is brief, both Cy Laurie & Terry Pills were genuine figure on the London Jazz scene of the time)


And an honorary mention to this picture, since I made such a big deal about how good looking he was: http://www.prattfamily.demon.co.uk/mikep/tomspringfield.html (check out the picture at the bottom of the page)

 

 

 

Chapter 9

 

 

 

 

(The song lyrics are from “Every Time We Say Goodbye”, words & music by Cole Porter, sung by Ella Fitzgerald. I so almost used the Annie Lennox version, but this just felt right. Plus that version actually changed some of the lyrics.)

URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RsoBvz66twY&feature=related

 

 

 

Newt was definitely not happy. Yeah, go on say it, he’s an EMO, he’s not meant to be happy. Newt had heard it all before, but this time he had reason to be. Someone had destroyed something that was his, something that was freely given to him and he enjoyed. And he didn’t care that that person occasionally, very occasionally the last few days, gave him a wank; he wanted his Wii!

Mercy had not even asked, he had got up that morning to find she had removed the casing, made some adjustments, attached some wiring into the circuitry and then replaced the casing, leaving it looking more like a gadget auditioning for the next series of Doctor Who than a piece of modern technology.

Did he say anything to Mercy however, did he hell as like! Even Darren was terrified of her! He just sat and sulked on the couch while she watched the images of the pub below on the Plasma screen; while she practiced moving the viewpoint of the camera around with its crosshairs and took imaginary shot’s at the bar, making “Pwiow! Pwiow!” noises. Newt had to admit he was also slightly turned on. Damn his teenage hormones!

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


Craig noticed the note as he was about to leave the flat. It was Sunday afternoon and he’d had enough of the joys of sharing what had become basically a grimy bedsit with his brother. They had sat in last night with a few beers; Craig’s idea, and not his smartest one. At first it had seemed like Jake actually livened up a bit, they even had a brief discussion, regarding their mum, Steph and how Craig was getting on in Dublin. Then a few more drinks under the belt and Jake began talking about Nancy and Charlie and it was all downhill from there. Craig had endured it as long as he could, eventually taking to his bed about 1am; longest bloody night of his life.

The folded piece of paper looked as if it had been shoved under the door, presumably at some point this morning, since it wasn’t there when he came in last night.

Craig bent to pick it up. Opening it he quickly scanned the typed message.

Craig,

Sorry about the other day, come to the Dog tonight, 8pm. Jack and Frankie should be back. We’ll have a few drinks and catch up.

Darren

Bloody cheek! After how weird he was acting the other night there. He supposed if his mum was going to be there, his flight back to Dublin wasn’t until 11am tomorrow, he really should make the effort. Talking of effort, Craig decided to have one last go at holding out a helping hand to his big brother.

“Jake?” There was no response from the moribund lump that occupied the couch. Craig walked over and prodded it. “Jake?!”

“What the Fuck! Lemee alone!” Why did he even bother.

“Listen, Darren’s invited me to the Dog tonight for a few drinks. Why don’t you come along, it might be good for you to see people again.” No response. “Mum’s going to be there!” He added hopefully.

“Don’t give a fuck, if they want to see me they know where I am.” With that he seemed to sink even further into the couch if that was possible.

Craig shrugged in defeat. Well at least he tried. He turned and walked towards the door, deciding he could do with some fresh air to clear his head; before seeing what remained of his family tonight at the Dog.

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


They stepped through the doors of the Dog and as Dusty stepped foot within the bar she suddenly seemed to lose her footing. Spike had been prepared for this, expecting that the shock of temporal dislocation would cause some form of physical imbalance. He caught her easily.

“Are you OK? Are you sure you’ll be alright to go on tonight? It has been a very long journey!” He gave her the full works, showering her with such sympathy and attention she couldn’t but say what she did.

“I’m fine! Just felt dizzy there for a second. Don’t want any of your regulars thinking I’m just some ditzy big city girl.” Spike caught a couple of glances, both curious and interested, cast in Dusty’s direction.

“Right, well you have a seat here and I’ll make sure everything is in place.” Spike was looking somewhat frantically around the bar, trying to spot Elliot. He checked the Temporal device, ‘19:31.16.03.2007.-2134.275’ read the display. Right time! Eventually he saw him exiting from the toilets. He tried not to show his relief too openly.

“Stay with Mary for now. I’ll check in with Darren.” Elliot barely nodded before Spike walked over to the bar; missing completely the hurt look Elliot cast his way for being given such short shrift. Spike noted a few guys holding up the bar, engaged in awkward conversation. He recognised Darren from his first night here, he so hoped Darren didn’t return the favour.

“So, are you this agent mate of Steph’s, who’s brought some new singing sensation up from the big city to enlighten us poor country folk of little old Hollyoaks?” Darren waved his arms in the air, in that exaggerated, pseudo-camp way he had; that so endeared him to people, that it left them considering whether to set fire to his outrageously unfashionable outfits or just punch his lights out.

“If that’s OK with you … Mate!” Spike put especial inference on the last work, suggesting they were everything but.

Darren coughed uncomfortably.

“Well as long as you understand, I don’t pay for new talent, this is a trial. If she works out then we’ll see.”

“I’m seeing plenty from here mate and she’s looking pretty talented!” Interjected the dark skinned one of the pair lounging against the bar.

“Oy! You watch what you’re watching, our Carmel don’t get messed with by the likes of you, copper.” Came the staccato pronouncement from behind the bar as a dark haired vixen got up close and personal with the now somewhat cowed admirer.

His ill-fitting companion quietly chuckled.

“That’s what you get, getting involved with a McQueen, Calvin. You don’t just hook up with one of them; you get six to one odds.” A strange look passed between the dark haired stranger and Darren, Darren quickly broke the look and found a button on his shirt instantly fascinating.

“Well you’re one to talk, Warren. And in case it needs repeating, you were a crap shag!” With that she flounced off down the bar, leaving Calvin to have a chuckle to himself this time.

“Well!” Interjected Darren. “Where were we, oh yeah? So she understands all that right?”

“Of course, now where can she get ready and when does she start? Elliot did give you the CD for the backing music?”

“She can change in the ladies and she can start whenever. Think it’s going to be a quiet night, this might liven things up a bit.” Darren gave a nervous look round the bar and followed it up with a distantly related chuckle for good measure.

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


Elliot and Spike stood behind the sound system, drinks in hand while they watched Dusty emerge onto the stage. Once again she seemed somewhat quiescent until such time as she took hold of the mike and gave the audience, such as the twenty odd people were at this time on a Sunday night, her greeting.

“Good Evening!” She then launched into “They Can't Take That Away From Me” which was recognised by very few of the audience, but slowly they seemed to be lulled by her voice and not seem to care.

“Are you sure this is going to work?” Elliot was becoming more edgy as the evening wore on and it had barely started.

“Look, I told you, Dusty was integral to the parting known as The Betrayal at the Airport. The scriptures aren’t particularly clear on how, but her song “I Close My Eyes and Count to Ten” had great bearing on their split. Dr Bevan, my Elliot Bevan, calculated that such a nexus of factors would need to be recreated to bring a convergence that could allow the occurrence of a Sunset Ending. Now while simply playing Dusty’s music might have facilitated this event, the highest probability of success was if the actual Dusty Springfield could sing for them. So as long as you have successfully arranged for them both to be here, we’ll just need to wait and pray!”

“To John Paul?” Elliot gave him a look that you’d expect him to reserve for someone who had just pronounced that Luke Skywalker’s father was actually himself. Spike looked confused. “You worship John Paul as some sort of Higher Being, but he isn’t, he’s going to walk into this pub in the next half hour and he’s as human as you and me.”

Spike went deathly quiet, pretending to be engrossed in the music, which admittedly wasn’t much of a stretch.

“Blasphemer!” Spike mumbled.

“What?” Queried Elliot.

“Nothing!” Spike returned to his silence, while Elliot gave him occasional worried glances.

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


Calvin wasn’t sure if he was seeing right at first. He didn’t make much of a habit of watching Warren that closely, unless you meant in a purely professional sense; in which case he never took his eyes off him. However, shortly after the beautiful young girl had begun singing, a discordant noise from Warren’s direction had momentarily distracted his attention from the young singer.

It hadn’t immediately registered what he was seeing, so he’d turned back to watch the show. However something in his Holmesian soul, that had noticed that errant detail, cried out for him to look back at the man next to him.

“Like the music Warren?” Calvin casually enquired.

“What?” Warren seemed to reply as if emerging from a dream. “Ye… Yeah! It’s alright!”

Calvin allowed the man to turn back to watch the singer, while this time he continued to watch him. After a moment Warren couldn’t help but notice.

“What’s wrong Calvin, can’t keep your eyes off me?” Warren seemed somewhat more buoyant suddenly, as his mask slipped back into place. He took a long swig of his pint.

“No, Warren. I’ve just never seen anything make you cry before. Didn’t realise you were capable of it.” Calvin turned back to the show as Warren spluttered out a mouthful of his beer.

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


Craig walked in the doorway of the Dog for only the second time since he’d came home. Coming home? That was a laugh! He’d certainly think twice before making another visit, there really was nothing here for him anymore.

There seemed to be a singer on, must be another one of Darren’s ideas. Although, as he listened to her for a bit, he had to admit Darren might be onto a winner with this one, she had a very unusual voice; reminded him of someone he’d heard before, but he couldn’t quite put his finger on who.

He walked over to the bar, prepared to forgive and forget the events of yesterday morning. Darren was standing drying a glass and only seemed to notice him at the last minute. Startled surprise was not the reaction Craig was expecting.

“Evening Darren. Got your message. So when’s mum due back?” Much as he found it amusing, Darren’s momentary impression of a guppy fish didn’t really help matters.

“What message?” Queried Darren, giving every conviction of innocence. However, Craig had had enough, as something in his head seemed to suddenly click into place.

“That’s it! I’m done with the lot of you. It’s been nothing but lies and weird avoidances since I came back. No before that, Steph gives me a bonkers phone call that gets me running back here, just to find she’s buggered off to London. I come to the Dog to find Mum and Jack are away for a dirty weekend, leaving you to run the place like your King of the Hill. Jake doesn’t want me here, because there’s only room for two in that flat and I’m playing piggy in the middle between him and his misery. Then finally I get a note from you to come to the Dog to patch things up and you don’t even know what I’m talking about! Have a nice life Darren, cause I’m out of here, and after tomorrow I don’t know when I’ll ever darken that doorstep again.” Craig whirled round and began crossing the floor of the pub, trying for a dramatic exit.

Suddenly he stopped in his tracks, frozen to the spot; because that was when he saw HIM walk in the door.

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


John Paul wasn’t sure why Elliot was suddenly so insistent that they meet in the Dog that night. He just hoped it wasn’t that Kris had been making further advances towards him. He’d seen Kris once yesterday in the SU Bar and had to bite his tongue not to just openly denounce him in such a public place. Elliot wouldn’t have appreciated that, but Kris was treating him abominably; Elliot was so insecure in his sexual self that something like this could have him living as a sexual hermit for the next twenty years.

This was so dominating his thoughts that as he walked into the Dog on the Pond, nothing else really registered. Not the young chanteuse performing, nor the dark haired young man who suddenly froze directly in his path.

“Watch where you’re going!” How rude, just standing there like that, he’d almost knocked him over; then John Paul suddenly felt his throat constrict, he had a momentary image of Elliot having turned to the Dark Side and slowly squeezing his hand as John Paul’s air supply was slowly cut off. ‘I am the Master now, John Paul McQueen!’ Suddenly his vision cleared and reality returned and Craig Dean was still standing before him, in the flesh.

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


It was that damn singer. She kept getting in the road. Nancy considered what difference it could possibly make to the future to take out one teenage girl who could manage to hit a few notes right?

Newt was bothering her as well. He had said nothing all afternoon, to the point where Nancy had become convinced that this was part of some elaborate game he was playing. For every half hour he didn’t say anything he got 50 Points, if he achieved a disturbing or deathly silence he got 100 Bonus Points. She had tried, somewhat fleetingly to convince him to go to his room, but from his reaction you’d think this not only got him 150 Bonus Point, but also an extra Life.

She had now spent a frustrating half hour attempting to get a clear shot at the terrorist; but mainly due to the aforementioned singer, that he had brought with him, occupying her clear line of sight she had been unable to do so. She had a momentary thought that he knew she was here and what she was doing; and had arranged this cover deliberately, but she know this was paranoia talking and immediately dismissed it.

Then she saw HIM walk in. Suddenly all else was forgotten, as she allowed her crosshairs to track him across the bar.

John Paul McQueen!

There could be no mistaking those features, that hair, those divine blue eyes.

Suddenly Nancy was back on her Wedding Day. Jake had arrived at the Chapel with an extra little surprise for her. He had had his hair and eyes altered for the day, at the time she never considered what this said about how devout he was, the hair was blond and slightly spiked, while the eyes were a deep azure blue. In such a Holy place she had almost been convinced at first he had simply been possessed by the Spirit of John Paul.

Suddenly feelings she had suppressed for months welled up inside her, ever since that day at the Dog; the other Dog. She allowed a single sob to escape her lips, a noise that made even Newt sit up and take note.

And at long last Nancy began to mourn for the love, the husband, the Jake that she had lost.

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


“How do you think it’s going?” Spike didn’t have time for Elliot’s questions right now. Craig and John Paul had been starting at each other for about thirty second without either of them moving or saying a word. He was afraid that if someone didn’t do something soon either one of them would turn and run out, or the other thing would happen; which could be a touch embarrassing for all concerned.

Spike gave a nod to Dusty, so she would know which song was coming next. She flawlessly returned the signal, finishing up the current song without missing a beat.

“They’ve not said a word, what are they going to do?” He was like a persistent child in the back of the car who wouldn’t stop asking ‘Are we there yet?’

“Just hope they don’t follow the path predicted in one Heretical Prophesy. Or should I say Prophesies, as it seemed to predict numerous forms for the Sunset Ending. The Heretical Prophesies of Dawn would have us believe that at any moment now they will be shagging. In fact an underground version of the banned tome, published as the Heretical and Highly Erotic Prophesies of Dawn, which of course I’ve never read; would have them either shagging on the pool table, in the toilets, upstairs in Craig’s room, rushing back to John Paul’s bedroom for a shag or for some quite inexplicable reason against some random tree in a park.”

Craig said something to John Paul, who nodded and they walked over to the nearest table.

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


The Dog on the Pond had always been where they met to settle there differences, well apart from when they met in John Paul’s bedroom, but that was for a fairly different sort of settlement, not what they needed right now.

“Can we talk?”

Such a simple question, three words that sum up the solution to all human endeavours and conflicts. As they fell from Craig’s mouth, John Paul simply nodded.

From a few yards away the young woman started to sing.

Ev'ry time we say goodbye
I die a little,
ev'ry time we say goodbye
I wonder why a little,

“How’ve you been?” Craig said just for want of something meaningful to say.

“Fine!” John Paul did that little curl of his lip, indicating that he wasn’t particularly bothered.

“How’s you mum?”

“We’re not going to sit here and discuss my family Craig..” His voice seemed to croak slightly at even vocalising his name. “Say whatever you’ve got to say and then we can both get back to our lives.”

why the gods above me
who must be in the know
think so little of me
they allow you to go.

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


“I wonder what’s up next, a rain of Frogs?” Darren was taken by surprise at Mercedes’ pronouncement. He gave her his best; well if you’re from Venus that makes sense, because from how much of that I understood you must be from a different planet; look. “First there’s Mercy, god I hate sharing a name with that cow, shows up and lowers the temperature around her to sub zero. Then your Craig shows up, probably just in time to ruin our John Paul’s life, again. They say bad news come in threes, so I’m asking; what’s next?”

“Yeah! What’s with that new Barmaid, Darren?” Calvin said, leaning in closer to be heard over the singing. Warren was meanwhile caught up in using a hanky to extract what must have been a fairly immovable piece of dust that he had got stuck in his eye.

“Oh, you know…” Before Darren could finish, Mercedes stepped in.

“She’s a cold, rude, ignorant ice queen. And I don’t trust her, the way she looks at men, she don’t have any respect from them. Wish I could pull the rug out from under that cows feet.” Calvin and Darren took a moment to consider the irony of this pronouncement, Mercedes remained oblivious.

“It’s just, when I saw you two talking the other night, it almost seemed like she was threatening you. Anything you want to report Darren?” Calvin was only half joking, something about that Mercy had set his teeth on edge, she just stank of danger.

“Threatening?! Me?! Not a chance, like I’d let a bird threaten me! Ha! Ha!” He glanced round quickly to make sure Mercedes hadn’t heard this, but after her angry outburst she had moved on to serve another customer.

“Just concerned Darren. You do realise that recent surveys suggest that although only one in thirteen reported cases of domestic abuse are against men, the statistics should be more like one in three if more men were willing to come forward.” Calvin took a final swig of his pint. “Now barkeep, get us another one will you. Better just leave out Gazza over here; he’s been crying so much I think the level of his pint has actually risen.”

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


When you're near
there's such an air
of spring about it,
I can hear a lark somewhere
begin to sing about it,

“I didn’t know you were going to be here, otherwise I wouldn’t have come!” Craig’s mind was a complete mess, he could even structure a coherent sentence in his head, never mind with his mouth.

“Oh, at last! Some honesty from a Dean! Well congratulations Craig, you get your wish! I’m leaving!” John Paul made to stand up from the table.

“Don’t go John Paul.” Craig grabbed desperately at John Paul’s jacket sleeve, tears filling his eyes like deep brown wells. “I don’t know what I’m saying; this is just unexpected, that’s all. Sit down and let’s try again?”

John Paul could never resist those eyes for to long, that’s why he’d had to walk away so quickly that day at the Airport, or Craig would have caught him in their dominating gaze and he’d have been powerless to leave.

“I miss you!” Again, three words, so simple. Did everything perfect and pure in the universe come down to three little words?

there's no love song finer,
but how strange the change
from major to minor...
ev'ry time we say goodbye.

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


“It’s not going well, he almost left there.” Elliot was fidgeting with his hat, which days ago Spike had found quite endearing, but now only found bloody annoying.

“Stop fidgeting!” He slapped Elliot’s hands away from his head. “There’s nothing we can do now, we have to have a little faith. You know, like the Force will take care of it all. We’re not important any more, they are!”

Elliot seemed to mull over this line of reasoning for a few seconds.

“So we’re like the supporting characters now and it’s really like there show!”

“What?!” Spike gave Elliot merely a cursory glance as his attention was still focused on the two boys at the table.

“You know; like we might still get our own spin-off show, but for the moment this is the Lois and Clark show and you’re like Perry White and I’m Jimmy Olsen.” He beamed at Spike as if what he had said amounted to an explanation that even an idiot could understand.

“I’ve no idea what you’re talking about E… Oh shit, here comes trouble!”

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


“Thank you, Ladies and Gentlemen! I’m going to take a short break now, but I’ll be back with you shortly!” Dusty left the stage and walked towards the Ladies, accompanied by a polite smattering of applause

Just then Elliot spied what Spike had meant. He had warned Spike about this that first night, even going so far as to show him a picture of Craig’s brother; but the figure that had just strode into the pub was almost unrecognisable from that photo.

Calling him dishevelled would be like calling Sarajevo a bit run down after the bombing, he looking like a pale imitation of life. How such a poor excuse for a human being had found the will to animate itself and make its way all the way to the Dog was a mystery. However, a fire seemed to return to his eyes that made for a form of life, when he spotted the two figures sitting in animated conversation at the table in front of the mike.

“You missed me so much; you couldn’t even text me at Christmas? Or New Year? Or any other day during the last six months?... Craig, you didn’t know what you wanted then, and frankly you don’t know now!” John Paul got up from the table once more.

“That’s it Nancy Boy, you be off then! And remember keep away from my little brother! He’s… Not… Interested! Get it?” Jake’s words tore through any other noise in the bar as all attention was suddenly focussed on the three of them.

“Jake! Shut up and stop trying to ‘Help Me!’ I don’t need it. John Paul?!” Craig reached after his slowly retreating friend. Jake batted his hand away.

“What’re you doing?”

“Trying to stop history from repeating itself!” Craig tried once more to go after John Paul, but this time Jake shoved him, causing him to fall backwards towards the mike.

“You’re not going to tell me you still think you ‘love’ him?” Jakes face looked like he wanted to slowly roast the word ‘love’ over an open fire until it’s screams were the only music that filled the night.

“Yes I am and I do!” Suddenly John Paul stopped in his tracks and turned around.

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


Through the tears something on the screen in front of her eventually registered with Nancy. That blasted singer was eventually out of her line of sight.

Pull yourself together Nancy; you’ve got a job to do. Everything you used to love depends on it.

Slowly and carefully, Nancy focused the crosshairs on the terrorist.

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


John Paul couldn’t believe what he’d just heard.

Craig declaring he loved him! Him! In front of the whole pub. OK it was only about twenty odd people, but still that was reason for hope, wasn’t it?

“No brother of mine is a queer!” Jake shouted, seeming to wrestle with the contradiction for a moment and then seemed to decide he had to do something about it.

What exactly happened next John Paul was not able to piece together until much, much later.

Jake took a swing at Craig, who since he still had two brain cells left to rub together, saw it coming and ducked. Meanwhile that guy Spoke, who John Paul suddenly realised, was here with Elliot (god he’d forgotten all about him after bumping into Craig) leaped towards Jake. Suddenly the entire sound system that Elliot was standing behind, disintegrated as a burst of energy exploded from a wooden case in the corner of the bar, which John Paul had never noticed before. Elliot disappeared from sight, while Spoke suddenly cried out his name. The settling debris from the wooden case revealed what looked for all the world like a submachine gun on a pivot. The only people that seemed unaware of the gun, as a general air of panic gripped the bar, were Jake and Craig, and Craig was at least attempting to see what everyone was staring at while still avoiding getting hit by Jake.

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


“Damn it! Missed!” Nancy screamed redundantly. The terrorist had moved at the last second and she’d been so bust trying to compensate for how sensitive the controls were, so she didn’t accidentally end up shooting John Paul McQueen, she’d completely fluffed the shot.

“Do you want me to have a go?” queried Newt, hopefully.

“Shut up Newt!” Nancy began to take aim once more.

<

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


John Paul was standing rooted to the spot, while others were running for the door.

Craig was attempting to back up to see what was going on, Jake advancing on him like a slavering beast. Spoke had run over to the wreck of the sound system, casting about desperately for Elliot. Suddenly Craig saw what everyone else already had and natural instinct took over; he chose flight.

At this point John Paul noticed the gun swivel once more, seemingly moving towards Spoke. However with the way Craig was running and Jake now tearing after him like a demented white rabbit late for a very important date, John Paul realised that Jake was just about to run into the path of the weapon. A lesser man might have hesitated thinking the death of his ex-lover’s brother, who had been nothing but vicious and spiteful towards them during there relationship and to him personally after the break-up, might be a desirable outcome. However such a man was not John Paul McQueen!

John Paul threw himself toward Jake Dean!

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


Elliot sat up, pulling the front of his hat from out of his eyes. He saw Spike looking for him through the smoking ruins of the sound system. Darren was going to want someone to pay for that!

However he also saw what Spike evidentially could not; and Spike’s reason had obviously deserted him for the moment, as awareness of personal danger should have been sufficient defence. He saw the Gun swivel towards Spike.

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


“What the fuck is going on Darren?” Calvin’s voice was quiet and steady, the complete opposite of how he felt. Warren and Mercedes were equally keen to hear Darren’s answer.

“What would I know, how could I possibly have anything to do with this?”

At this Darren saw there was a second explosion as several bodies moved at once. John Paul’s collided with Jakes sending him flying toward the bar and away from the explosion; meanwhile Elliot did a flying tackle, welsh rugby style, which forced Spoke to the ground. The explosion itself took out a table, although it was unclear through all the smoke and debris if anyone had also been hit before they went down.

“Darren if you don’t tell me what is going on, someone might get killed here! And I do mean that as a threat!” Calvin would say he was definitely starting to loose his cool.

“Oh, Bugger!” Darren suddenly scarpered through the back of the bar.

“Where the fuck do you think you’re going?” shouted Mercedes. Seconds before everything went black.

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


Suddenly everything cut out and it all went black. Nancy knew instantly it had to be Darren, just wait til she got her hands on him. She threw down the control of the Wii, now completely useless like everything else and turned to head for the door. Even with her genetically enhanced senses however it still took a moment to allow her sight to adjust.

“Darren!” She screamed, smiling, knowing what pleasure she was going to take from breaking his scrawny neck.

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


“Did you hear that?” Calvin said hearing the scream from upstairs, he was out of his chair and heading to the door of the flat in an instant; Warren not that far behind him. The bar still had some minimal lighting from the street outside and some candles on the tables.

“That sounds like that cow Mercy. Well steal my name and ruin it would she? I’m going to show her the stupid cow.” Mercedes followed Calvin and Warren towards the flat.

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


Mercedes got to the top of the stairs and paused at the open doorway. She had heard at least one body hit the floor as she climbed the stairs and this had made her somewhat more cautious. There was no longer any noise of fighting from within, just a slow, laboured, gasping for breath; from what sounded like a mans throat.

Mercedes stuck her head round the corner of the door trying to make out what she was seeing in the inky darkness of the flat. A figure stood with its back to her, it seemed to be cradling a second figure in its arms. Mercedes saw Warren lying slumped against the wall of the short hallway. She glanced down at the floor and then looked quickly back up.

The breathing was becoming more laboured and erratic. Mercedes acted without any further thought.

She reached down, lifted the edge of the rug, braced her heal against the top stair and pulled with all her strength. Suddenly the figure emitted a feminine scream as it tumbled forwards. A scream that was cut off its head connected with the corner of the coffee table.

Mercedes sauntered casually into the room. Calvin lay gasping on the floor, recovering his breath. She turned and was surprised to see a terrified Newt curled up in a foetal ball on the couch. Poor sod!

“Don’t thank me or nothing!” She said, offering a hand up to the prone copper. Calvin wasn’t stupid enough to say no. Once on his feet, he moved towards Mercy.

“Obviously, I’m going to say that another minute there and I’d have had her exactly where I wanted her, but just between you and me; thanks!” Calvin pulled a pair of handcuffs from his back pocket and began to secure Mercy’s hands behind her back.

“Do you always carry a pair of them with you or what?” Mercedes had a saucy grin on her face.

“I thought you were off duty?” Calvin pretended not to hear her.

“Oh, well! I’ll just need to ask our Carmel then!” That got her a look as Calvin hoisted Mercy up and began to carry her towards the stairs.

“Those ones are for personal use, but don’t you dare ask your sister, she gets embarrassed enough as it is!”

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


Downstairs again, Darren had replaced the fuse, allowing everyone to see again; once it was established that Mercy was well and truly out of the picture.

Mary stepped from the Ladies, taking in the scene and how much it had changed in the last five minutes.

Bodies lay about the floor, in varying states of consciousness, while wooden splinters from what had once been tables drifted like kindling from a bonfire. The lights had gone out suddenly about a minute ago and Mary had waited until they came back on before she moved. That and the several loud bangs she’d heard moments ago and she wasn’t sure what to expect.

She saw the blond haired man from behind the bar and decided to approach him.

“What’s going on?” She enquired.

“Search me!” He replied somewhat evasively. “Someone started a fight, got a bit out of hand.”

This seemed to calm her greatly.

“Oh, well! It is a Jazz Joint after all; you’ve got to expect such things!” Mary seemed to take that as the end of the matter.

Darren stared back thoroughly nonplussed.

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


Craig had searched frantically for the body of his ex-lover in the darkness, finding him had not reassured him as he had been a dead weight in Craig’s arms. He had just began searching for a pulse, slowly realising that it wasn’t just as straightforward as gripping someones wrist, when the lights came back on. That was when his whole world collapsed. All he could see was red.

The black and white hoodie that John Paul had chosen to wear tonight was stained bright red down its entire front. A few feet away, Craig was vaguely aware of Jake rising unsteadily to his feet. Craig sat there with John Paul cradled on his knees and he felt totally numb. Jake walked, his stumbling gate carrying him slowly towards his brother. He looked down at the pair of them, taking in the stain on John Paul’s shirt.

“Good riddance to bad rubbish, I say.” He almost spat, but found his mouth very dry from all the dust.

Craig felt a fire ignite within him at those words, without a thought he let John Paul’s head fall to the floor as he leapt to his feet and went for Jake.

“That bad rubbish just saved your worthless arse! If I had anything to do with it that would be you lying there and not him! He’s worth ten of you and just you remember that!” With each pronouncement, he would shove Jake in the chest; Jake seemed to cave in further with each thrust, until eventually he broke down and sank to his knees.

“I’m sorry! Oh, God I’ve fucked up my own life so much, death might have been welcome. I’m so sorry, Craig!”

“Ouch!”

“Sorry isn’t going to be good enough anymore. Do you realise you’re one of the main reasons that stopped John Paul from coming to Dublin with me in the first place. Your ‘brotherly’ advice made a coward of me once again and I was afraid to show him any affection in public, so he left me. Yeah! That’s right, he… left… me!” Craig was incandescent with rage and was ready to rip his brother limb from limb.

“I said ‘Ouch!’ If anyone cares?!” Craig turned to see John Paul sitting up nursing a sore head, where someone had allowed it to strike the floor. “Oh, my bloody hoodie’s ruined, this was expensive this, from River Island.”

Craig ran immediately to the side of the man he loved more than his own brother, more than life itself.

“You’re alive!” Craig began showering John Paul’s face with grateful kisses. “But how, I mean, where did the stain come from?”

John Paul sat up uncomfortably, reaching round behind him.

“Maybe this might explain it!” He said, holding up a now empty Vodkapom bottle. “Ouch! What was that for?” As Craig punched him in the shoulder.

“Don’t you ever scare me like that again, OK.” Craig’s face was a picture of deadly earnest. “As long as we’re together you’re not allowed to die and I mean it!”

John Paul smiled tolerantly up at Craig.

“So we’re together then.” He tried to ease his heart back down into his chest from its current home in his throat.

“Absolutely! I can’t leave you alone for six months without someone trying to kill you!”

And with that there was only one more thing they could say and it didn’t involve any use of words, but one of the oldest languages known to mankind. There lips met and it was as if for a moment the last six months hadn’t happened.

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


Darren was dreading talking to Calvin, so he was occupying himself talking to the loony singer that Steph’s agent friend had brought along.

For the moment she seemed mainly concerned with making sure Elliot and Spoke (did he hear that right?) were both OK. She had found them with Elliot cradled in Spoke’s arms, Spoke gently stroking Elliot’s face and Elliot nursing a rather nasty looking burn on his left arm. Apart from that they both seemed unharmed.

“Aw, don’t they make such a lovely couple?” This woman was definitely not the usual punter for the Dog. Oh, well! Takes all sorts, thought Darren. Looking at Elliot’s face for a moment he wasn’t sure both members of that particular couple shared her opinion of how lovely they were, Darren chuckled at Elliot’s predicament.

“What the hell’s been going on here? I don’t allow any fighting in my Pub! Darren?!”

Suddenly Darren realised the police weren’t the only thing that were going to make this a very long night, as he turned to face the figures of his father and Frankie returned from their ‘relaxing’ weekend.

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


“You are going to be alright though! We’ll get you medical attention for your arm and you’ll be good as new!” Elliot wasn’t sure who Spike was trying to convince.

“Look I’ll be fine! Calvin said he’d called for the emergency services, so you can stop pawing over me; I’ll be fine!” Elliot turned an even deeper shade of crimson, a feet you would have thought impossible.

“Well if you’re sure. I’ll go and check with Calvin how long that ambulance will be.” With that Spike rested Elliot’s head upon his jacket and rose to his feet, heading across the bar.

Elliot felt a strange pang of regret at his absence, but put this down to some sort of camaraderie of shared near death experience. He’d read somewhere that soldiers would share a strange bond with each other for the rest of their lives after surviving something like this. He was sure that was all it was.

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


Spike walked over to were Calvin had the McQueen Guard handcuffed to a chair. She seemed to be unconscious and had a rather pronounced bump growing on her right temple.

“Who are you?” Calvin presumably recognised him from earlier, but didn’t really seem to have paid that much attention the first time they met.

“Spoke McIntyre! Theatrical Agent!” He held out his hand to Calvin, who slowly, almost grudgingly shook it. “I wanted to check if you know how long the ambulance would be for Elliot?”

“Friend of yours?” Spike nodded. “Shouldn’t be long, the hospital is only twenty minutes away.” Spike moved round behind the bound Guard, still keeping a respectful distance.

“She’s definitely out?”

“Sure! A bump like that she’ll be out at least until morning. By which point we’ll have her safely locked up. Still don’t get what she was trying to achieve or how she did it, but that will be for the CID to figure out.” Spoke had now stepped up behind the Guard and seemed to be making an examination of her cuffs.

“Oi, what are you doing?” Calvin stood up in time to see Spoke running his hands up and down her arms, pulling her sleeves up then lowering them back down when he was finished.

“Oh, Nothing! Just thought… Just checking that her cuffs were secure!” With that Spike turned and wandered back towards Elliot.

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


(Just one quick credit this time. Since I know some people are interested in such things, the source for the statistics on Male domestic abuse is as follows:

http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2002/09/15160/9339

OK, I know this specifically applies to Scotland, but since I wasn’t doing a dissertation on the subject, it was close enough for my purposes.)

 

 

 

 

Chapter 10

 

 

 

 

(One week later)

Kris had always been very tolerant of Elliot’s strange ways. You know, look at Kris, he was hardly one to talk. Not that that ever stopped him with others, but sometimes the irony of it all just got too much. Even with the whole Pirate Radio thing he’d simply got his revenge on Elliot then moved on. But the situation with this guy Spoke was too much.

He’d now been sleeping on the couch for nearly two weeks, apart from a couple of days after the ‘fight’ in the Dog, when he’d done a Claude Raines and became impossible to find. Kris didn’t know the full story; he knew, from his evasive subject changes, that Darren knew a lot more about it than he was willing to admit.

The official Police line was that this Mercy had started a fight in the pub, but it had escalated into a whole different arena when she pulled out a submachine gun. They reckoned she was an ex-service woman with some gripe against the government, military records were still being searched to establish her true identity, however the whole thing would be classified anyway and the truth would never come out. Meanwhile she’d been brought up on assault and firearms charges, pleaded no contest and was due to be sent down to H.M.P. Foston Hall once sentencing was passed. This was being held up because the crown had insisted on a psychological evaluation being carried out and since Mercy refused to speak to anyone this was proving difficult.

Bureaucracy in action, you’ve got to love it!

Kris bet though, that the police would be interested to know where Spoke, what sort of name was that anyway, had been holed up for the last five days. Nothing official had been said regarding them looking for Spoke; but Kris had heard Calvin bemoaning over a pint one night that his boss had given him a right chewing out over allowing him to leave the Dog, without getting a statement from him first. Kris had almost felt sorry for the poor boy.

“Right you two, we need to talk!” Elliot and Spoke had been engaged in a whispered conversation, something they seemed to do rather too much for Kris’s liking, and upon Kris’s entrance they both leapt out of their seats and made as if they were busy getting ready to go somewhere.

“Can’t Kris, got to be off!” Pronounced Elliot, seconds before Kris’s hand met with his chest and sent him falling back into his seat.

“You two are going nowhere, until I make a few things clear!” Spoke hesitated and then retook his seat. “That’s better! Now you Spoke have more than outstayed your welcome here, friend of Elliot’s or whatever you are; this flat isn’t a free for all. Now considering I think you’d probably rather certain people didn’t know you were here, I’m going to suggest for both our sakes that you find somewhere else to stay before I get back from my shift today. Understood?” Elliot was turning an unpleasant shade of crimson and for a moment Kris thought Elliot was going to leap to Spoke’s defence, but Spoke simply nodded.

“Yeah! Sorry, I was going to be moving on anyway.”

“And don’t bother showing your face at the Dog again either. It’s only due to re-open again today after the ‘party’ they had the last time you two were there!” Kris picked up his bag and slung it over his shoulder. “Right well I’ll be off then. I’ll see you later Elliot!” And with a look he let it be known that as far as Elliot was concerned, this conversation was far from over. He’d been far too tolerant of that boy for far too long.

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


“When were you planning on telling me?” Elliot hated sounding like this, when did he start whining like a child? It wasn’t as if Spike was splitting up with him, what a ridiculous concept.

“I don’t belong here Elliot! I did what I came here to do, I’ve returned Dusty to her time, we got John Paul and Craig back together and now I need to go back to my time and face the consequences of my actions. I need to know if the Sunset Ending has made any difference! At least I know it can’t have changed the future too radically, after all I’m still here!” He gave Elliot a gentle pat on the arm, thinking he looked like he needed some reassurance. Elliot wasn’t sure what he needed, but he didn’t want this to end like this.

“Then take me with you!” Spike looked at him with a pitying look and opened his mouth to speak, leaving little doubt in Elliot’s mind exactly what he made of that suggestion and what he was going to say.

RAP! RAP! RAP!

Both of them looked instantly towards the door. It couldn’t be Kris back; he wouldn’t have to knock, unless he forgot his keys. Spike made for the hallway.

“You answer it Elliot, if it’s the police, buy me enough time to program and activate the temporal device.”

“How long does that take?” Elliot said in what he was convinced must be the loudest whisper ever to issue from a human throat.

“As long as it takes, just buy me time!” With that Spoke disappeared into the toilet.

Elliot walked over towards the door, trying to make out who it was through the glass. There were two of them, both fairly tall. Good God, it could be the Police; they always came in twos, didn’t they. He slowly opened the door and looked out.

“Oh!!! It’s you! Eh… You better come in!” Elliot opened the door and let John Paul McQueen & Craig Dean into the flat.

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


“Where’s Spoke McIntyre?” Craig Dean demanded. If it wasn’t for John Paul’s presence and his hours of gentle persuasion last night, that had ended in another night of passion that he thought he’d never experience the likes of again, Craig would have grabbed Elliot and have forced the answers he needed out of him; but he didn’t, he remained calm.

“Don’t even bother denying he’s here Elliot, we just saw Kris on the way out and he confirmed it.” John Paul gave Elliot one of his reassuring smiles. “We just want some answers Elliot; nobody’s going to get hurt. I promise!”

Craig was ready to clarify this, when he felt John Paul’s calming touch on his arm, which sent shivers down through his body, all the way to his toes.

“Spoke!” Elliot shouted. “It’s OK! You can come out!”

John Paul got a mischievous smile across his face.

“From the way he was fussing over you last week Elliot, I think he might already be past that stage!”

Elliot looked confused and was about to ask something, when Spoke emerged from the toilet.

Craig suddenly saw red and barrelled down the hallway grabbing ahold of the larger man and propelling him against the wall.

“What..” he almost spat in Spoke’s face, “Is the big idea, getting my sister to record some message to drag me back from Dublin, then sending her scurrying off to London to sit a hotel for a week. Eh.. Come on, what… did… you… think… you… were… playing… at?” With each word of the last sentence, Craig would pull Spoke forward and thrust him back against the wall with increasing force.

John Paul reached the side of his lover and wrapped his arms around him pulling him away from Spoke.

“Calm down, Craig! Remember what we said, we’re just here to talk and listen. I’m sure Elliot wouldn’t be involved with this unless there was a perfectly reasonable explanation for it all. Right, Elliot?” He gave Elliot a hopeful look, seeking support in calming Craig down.

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


Spike rearranged his dishevelled clothing, trying not to consider the fresh bruises that were going to cover his back after Craig’s attack. He supposed he’d deserved that, they had manipulated him and he had every right to an explanation. However what explanation would satisfy him, what could explain all this without blowing his mind?

He looked at Elliot and saw he was floundering, completely lost at how to respond to this. Not for the first time Spike felt a deep welling of what he now acknowledged was love for the young man. He had tried to deny his feelings for Elliot at first, because he knew Elliot wouldn’t share them, but now he had become quietly accepting of them. He hoped that once they parted that his time with Elliot would become a pleasant but distant memory.

He decided he would try the truth, or something close to it anyway.

“We had to get the two of you back together, and extreme as my methods may seem, it was the only way I could think of to bring that about.”

This was met by stunned silence. Then slowly a sound was dragged from John Paul’s throat, which was at first unrecognisable; more a scratching than a vocal sound and then slowly as it grew in volume resolved itself into the incredulous sound of laughter.

“You’re having a laugh?!” John Paul looked at Elliot for confirmation. “This is some kind of joke, did you put him upto this Elliot?” Realisation dawned over John Paul’s face, that both Spike and Elliot still looked deadly earnest. “You’re fucking joking! What gave you the right to play games with peoples lives like that?” It was John Paul’s turn to be angry now.

“I had to do this, because a great many lives depended on it. I’m sorry you if feel manipulated and used, but where I come from your union will mean so much too so many people.”

“You’re fucking insane!” Craig pronounced. Apparently no longer willing to hear what Spoke had to say, he turned to make for the door and leave this madhouse.

“Is that it? You trying to plead insanity so we’ll take pity on you and leave you alone. Well it won’t wash! There’s an explanation for this and we’re going to get it somehow.” John Paul turned to follow his lover down the hallway, Elliot unfortunately fell into his field of vision. “I’m surprised at you Elliot! I thought we were friends! How could you be a part of… this?” John Paul spat the word, distaste screaming from every inflection. “Whatever this is?”

Tears stood out in Elliot’s eyes, his whole frame was shaking with oncoming sobs. Spike just wanted to take him in his arms and comfort him. Could he have more successfully ruined Elliot’s life?

“I’m from your future!” Spike wasn’t quite sure why, but these words stopped Craig in his tracks. He couldn’t see Craig’s face, so he had no way of knowing the twisted grin that crossed Craig’s face. Craig turned to face Spike, his face the picture of calm now.

“So, you’re a time traveller now?” Craig couldn’t completely keep the derision out of his voice.

“Yes, if you like!”

“Well are you or aren’t you? It’s a simple enough question, if anything about this whole sorry mess is!”

“Yes I am!” Spike didn’t like where this was going, but he couldn’t very well back down now.

“Prove it!” Smirked Craig. The room feel as silent as a Buffy Convention just after it’s been announced that both Sarah Michelle Geller and David Boreanaz have cancelled at the last minute, but they’ve been replaced by Andy Hallett the guy who played the green skinned Demon Lorne.

“Sorry?” Spike definitely didn’t like this. Although he noticed that Elliot had stopped crying and was now giving Craig the most curious look.

“I’m sure you are!” beamed Craig as he honoured the room with one of the Dean Trademark supercilious smug smiles. “But you heard me fine. If you’re what you claim you are, from the future; then prove it by taking us there and showing us this great tomorrow!”

“I couldn’t!”

“As I suspected, you’re so full of shit!”

“No he’s not. Go on Spike, you could do this, just for a short visit. Please, then they’ll know we’re telling the truth.” Elliot pleaded at Spike with his words, but it was not his words that turned Spike’s heart, it was the beseeching look in his eyes.

John Paul, why do these things happen to me?

“OK, but only a short visit! I can’t risk either of you being spotted and we’ll need to head out of Hollyoaks so we don’t appear in the middle of the city.”

John Paul glanced confusedly round about him, seeking for something he seemed to think he’d lost, finally resting his eyes on the Cheshire Cat grinning face of his lover.

“Am I the only one here who hasn’t gone stark raving mental?”

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


The four of them climbed to the top of the hill, turning to look back at the village of Hollyoaks behind them and the greater city of Chester beyond. John Paul had barely said a word the whole journey, and those had been mumbled. Craig had attempted on several occasions to take John Paul’s hand, an act that had been the whole crux of why there relationship couldn’t work before. However even this failed to lift the blond haired man from his fugue; if he was going to be dragged along on this hair-brained journey, his entire body language seemed to scream, then everyone was going to know he wasn’t happy and suffer for it.

“Right then Spoke, what do we do now?” Craig asked sarcastically, although some of his original vigour for his plan had dissipated during the two hour walk they had just endured.

“Listen, the names Spike Fox. I don’t see any reason for keeping up that particular charade any more; it was giving me a headache anyway!” As if to confirm this Spike vigorously rubbed his forehead.

“Yeah, whatever. Never known anything good to come from anyone named Spike, so I guess that figures!” Craig glanced at John Paul, just in time to hear him mumble some comment under his breath.

“Then we all link arms or something, I program the Temporal Device,” Spike held up the copper circlet, “then we travel two thousand, one hundred and thirty four years into your future.”

Elliot let this sink in, how far? How much could things have changed during such a long span of time? Empires risen and fallen, more creatures hunted to extinction, countries invaded for their ever dwindling resources. Even possibly space travel, Spike had never mentioned it, but then he didn’t want to pollute the time stream by giving away too much. Now though? They were going to see it all!

They all linked arms as Spike had instructed, John Paul requiring to be cajoled and manoeuvred into position by Craig.

“Everyone ready?” queried Spike.

“For nothing to happen?” responded Craig. “Anytime you are!”

Spike pressed a series of buttons and the world around them transformed.

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


The first thing they noticed was that it was warmer, more humid. The grass was greener, more luscious. Then Spike looked up and it was as if the whole foundation of his faith had just been shown to have been an elaborate hoax, which couldn’t be the case as he stood not five feet away from him.

Slowly the others turned to see what had disturbed Spike so much.

Before them lay a green, verdant wilderness. Where once had laid a vibrant metropolis, where thousands of people lived, now was a grassy landscape; with bushes and trees littering the plains and no indication from here that any building had ever stood. Sometime in the intervening two millennia Mother Nature had reclaimed her rightful hold over this land and all traces of humanities errant ways had been effectively wiped from the face of the earth.

“Noooooooooooooooooo!!!” The scream issued from Spike’s mouth as he collapsed to his knees, insensate to the impact of his legs upon the luxuriant hilltop. “This can’t be!” He frantically checked the Temporal Device. “The settings are correct, there should be a city here. The city of New Cunningham stood here. I live there!”

Craig was standing equally shocked.

“It bloody worked!” Were all the words he could summon up.

“What?” John Paul uttered his first discernable words in over two hours.

“The Time Travel thingy, it actually worked. He wasn’t bullshitting!” Craig sounded awed.

“What the bloody hell did you think was going to happen Craig? It was either going to be a complete waste of a Sunday afternoon, or it was going to work. And did you ever stop to consider that if it were true, if it did work; I might actually prefer not to know about it?” John Paul seemed ready to launch into a prolonged assault on what he saw as Craig’s inconsiderate behaviour, when Elliot suddenly blocked his view of the target of his vitriol.

“Listen, I’m worried about Spike. I’m not getting any response from him. I think he might have gone catatonic or something and he’s the only one who knows how to program that bleeding device that gets us home. Plus I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to get the heebie-jeebies here. This place looks pretty wild. I reckon we should head to where Hollyoaks was and see if any buildings are still standing, where we can shelter until Spike recovers!”

Craig and John Paul blinked simultaneously and then nodded likewise. It was almost enough to make Elliot burst out laughing, but he restrained himself to prevent sparking any further tirades. With one final dirty look in Craig’s direction John Paul went to help Elliot raise Spike to his feet and support him between them.

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


They hadn’t been able to find a building, but they had found four overgrown walls that would provide a modicum of protection if any wild beasts decided to come along and try and eat them while they were sleeping.

They had laid Spike down to rest, hoping that somehow time and the vague possibility of sleep would be sufficient to rouse him from his current state.

“Listen I think one of us should go exploring to try and find something to eat.” Elliot interjected helpfully.

“What like grubs and worms or something?” Craig asked sarcastically.

“No, whatever made you think of that. We’re not Z-List celebrities you know, we’re human beings. No I was thinking edible berries, or mushrooms. I was a Boy Scout, I got my Wilderness Survival Badge, so I know the signs of how to spot which ones are dangerous. So I think I should go, but you would need to promise me to stay here and look after Spike?”

“Of course!” Craig retorted dismissively. “Where else are we going to go in this god-forsaken place?”
“Right then!” Elliot pulled a small red ovoid contraption from his pocket. Craig looked at him quizzically, raising his eyebrows in bemused enquiry. “In case I’m attacked. I’ll protect myself with my Swiss Army Knife.”

“Death by a thousand cuts I take it. I’d run Elliot or climb a tree if possible. Don’t rate your chances against any lion or tigers or bears that happen to be out there!”

“Oh My!”

“What was that John Paul?” Craig wasn’t sure he’d heard him right.

“Nothing. Listen, stop trying to put the fear of god into him Craig. We’ll be here Elliot, just be careful.”

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


“I’m sorry!” Craig wasn’t sure if he said the words simply to fill the silence, or he really did feel this was all his fault somehow.

“For what?” John Paul asked, looking up from where he’d managed to make a fire with a book of matches he’d found in Spike’s pocket. They were for some place called Cy Laurie’s Jazz Club.

“For getting us all into this mess. For not asking you if you wanted to do this, for letting Spike rile me like that.”

John Paul was silent for a few seconds and then reached out his hand to Craig. Hesitantly Craig took John Paul’s hand in his and squeezed it, which was when it all went wrong.

Craig heard a noise and jumped. However that was not how it appeared to John Paul, all he saw was Craig suddenly pull his hand away; like he’d seen him do so many times before. He still wasn’t comfortable in his own skin with this relationship. Despite the strides made over the past week, John Paul suddenly felt that out here alone in the wilderness, Craig was reverting back to his old ways. John Paul had never felt more alone than at that moment.

“Sorry…”

“Don’t Craig!” John Paul got to his feet. “You know, you really convinced me you’d changed. It was all a big lie wasn’t it. You just wanted me to play along until it was too late and I was trapped in this relationship as your dirty little secret.”

“Noo… John Paul, it was just a noise! I heard a noise and it startled me, that was all.”

“Don’t lie Craig. What noise, we’re the only ones here. And now I know I’m more alone even than that!” John Paul turned and began to walk away.

“Where are you going, John Paul? Talk to me!”

“I need to be on my own Craig. Don’t try to follow me.”

John Paul marched off into the wilderness. Craig hesitated for a minute, looking down at the prone figure of Spike that they’d promised to protect. But the war within him was no war at all; it was the machinery of modern warfare against unarmed savages! No contest!

“John Paul..” Craig ran off into the wilds in search of his lover.

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


Elliot returned to the shelter of the four walls, to find a fire smouldering in the corner and only Spike still there. He dropped the hatful of berries he was carrying and quickly rushed over to ascertain that Spike was unharmed.

“Oh, no! Where have they gone!” He turned to retrieve his discarded hat of berries.

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


Craig knew after the first minute he was lost, with little chance of finding John Paul. At that point common sense should have prevailed and he should have turned around and returned to the safety and security of their shelter and await John Paul’s arrival. However common sense was not a trait Craig Dean possessed in any great measure.

He tried shouting John Paul’s name for a while, but when he got no response, it started to dawn on him he might be attracting exactly the wrong sort of attention making all this noise. So he continued on in silence.

After what felt like an hour, but was probably more like twenty minutes, his fear managed to convince him that by this time John Paul might well have returned to the shelter and in fact he should attempt to return and look for him there.

That was when he realised he had no idea, even, what direction he’d been walking in a mere thirty seconds ago. Every direction looked exactly the same to him.

Suddenly he heard it!

He tried to convince himself he’d been wrong in his assessment of what he’d just heard, but then he heard it again.

It was the sound of a twig snapping under the heal of a boot or shoe.

“Whose there?” No answer came the loud reply. “John Paul… Is that you? Elliot?”

Craig swore he could hear someone breathing now, how could someone be that close and yet he was unable to see them.

“Whose there?” he repeated more to calm himself by the sound of his own voice than any hope of an answer. Then again the answer might prove more frightening than the silence. “Show yourself, whoever you are. I am armed!” He lied.

Then a figure stepped from behind a tree a mere five feet away from him and his moment of panic was quickly replaced by intense puzzlement and even a touch of anger.

“How the hell did you get here?” barked Craig.

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


“Where were you? I asked you both to stay here and look after Spike. Where’s Craig?” The words tumbled from Elliot’s mouth, as a form of exorcism of the panic that had built up in his belly over the last half an hour as he waited for someone to return.

“Don’t Elliot. I’ve done something really stupid and I have to put it right. What do mean where’s Craig, isn’t he here?” A look of panic stormed across John Paul’s face, the shade of blue in his eyes turning to that of a winter storm.

“I got back and you both were gone. Spike was all alone, thank God he was unhurt.” Elliot seemed to suddenly realise he was maybe giving a bit too much away as John Paul gave him a questioning look. “Anyway what is it you’ve done that’s so bad, I’m sure it’s nothing you can’t sort out!” There, that was that one covered.

“I was still upset about the whole being here thing and then Craig did something, that looking back on it I realise was pretty minor, a misunderstanding really. But I lost it; I really went to town on him and said we weren’t working out. God, I am such an idiot. I told him not to follow me, but he must have taken off after me and now he’s lost and it’s all my fault.” Elliot could see the pain in John Paul’s eyes and decided to take a leaf out of John Paul’s book. He leaned forward and took him in his arms giving him a long, but manly, hug.

“If you two keep that up, I’m going to get jealous.” John Paul looked up hopeful for a moment, then realised it wasn’t the voice of his lover and tried to appear more upbeat for Spike’s sake.

“You’re awake!” Elliot leapt like a wanton bunny across the shelter and gave Spike an impromptu hug. Then realising this was an inappropriate display of affection backed up and turned back towards John Paul.

“Listen, Craig can’t have gone that far. He’ll find his way back here just like you did.” He turned back towards Spike.

“And as for you, stop going into a strop. You’re the confident one, the wind beneath my wings.” Elliot couldn’t help but blush at these words. “Anyway, I’ve found something. It’s not far from here and I think you’ll both want to see it!”

“What is it?” Both of them asked simultaneously.

“Then it wouldn’t be a surprise. Come on then!” Elliot said, bouncing once more to his feet. Looking towards John Paul and Spike expectantly.

The two of them joined the excited young man as they moved through the underbrush.

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


“Is that what I think it is?” John Paul tilted his head in the hope that the different angle would make matters clearer. The object was so overgrown with vines and brush that it was almost indistinguishable from the undergrowth.

“The Hollyoaks fountain? Yes, definitely! If you move some of the vines you can see for sure.” The three boys moved round the statue.

“Wait a minute then!” Spike paused as the other two waited expectantly to here what he had to say. “This isn’t right, see in my time the only known replica of the statue is in the Hierophants Palace and it was on a high hill and this definitely isn’t that!” He pronounced looking around the wild but flat scrubland.

“So this must be the original then.” Said Elliot as if talking to a five year old.

“Hold on guys, what’s this?” John Paul had moved some of the vines from what appeared to be the rear of the statue; he was slowly tracing his fingers along some scarring in the statues surface.

“Looks like regular old wear and tear; it is over 2,000 years old.”

“No. Look again, this isn’t natural, this has been carved and I swear it looks like letters. Latin letters.”

Spike was suddenly much more attentive. Together the three of them cleared as much of the vines and brush from the statue and stood back with a mixture of shock, awe and bewilderment at what was revealed to them.

Carved into the back of the Hollyoaks statue, in deep precise gashes; were the following words:

 

S. F.

 

THIS

 

IS

 

NOT

 

YOUR

 

WORLD!

 

- E. B.

 

 

 


***

 

 

 


To be continued in

Volume 2 – Reflections of a Future.

Coming in 2008

(TPenguin planned to write another volume, but this obviously wont be happening).

 

 

 

 

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