D.I. Darling and D.S. Sweetheart observed Lucy from behind the two-way mirror.

‘Think we’ll crack her, Sir?’

Darling turned to face his sergeant. The crumpled skin of his face hung loose and quivered as though he had just been put through a wind tunnel. ‘Crack her? Crack her?’ he scowled. ‘I think she’s cracked enough. We’ll go through the motions just to satisfy procedure and then charge her. She’ll soon tell us where the body is. – Come on.’ The Inspector turned and the two detectives walked into the room and sat down opposite Lucy.

Sweetheart pressed record on the tape recorder leaning against the wall at the edge of the table. He gave the names of the people in the room and the date, time and place of the interview and pulled his chair up which squeaked against the polished floor. Darling gritted his teeth and gave Sweetheart a disapproving look. ‘How many times have I told you about that? Eh? You know it puts my teeth on edge.’

‘S-Sorry, Darling….. Sir,’ he quickly corrected himself. ‘Pans. Pans does it with me.’


‘Pans, Sir. If you scratch a metal pan with a knife. Goes right through me it does.’

Darling shook his head and sighed. His cheeks wobbled. ‘Let’s get on with the interview. Shall we, Sweetheart?’

Sweetheart opened his mouth to ask Lucy a question and then stopped. He turned to Darling. ‘Chalk, Sir.’


‘Yes, Sir. Chalk. When the teacher underlined anything on the blackboard and the chalk squeaked. Ooooohhhhh! Didn’t half set my teeth tingling. Did you have the same problem? Your teeth being sensitive and all that.’

Darling smoothed down the few remaining dark strands of greasy hair on the top of his balding head and creased his brow. He pursed his lips and let out a slow breath. ‘From what I remember from school – No, chalk did not have that effect on me. Now – ‘ he pointed to Lucy, ‘Interview.’

‘Ah – Yes. Sorry, Darl…….Sir.’

Sweetheart turned once again to Lucy but then stopped as a thought occurred to him. He laughed quietly. ‘Cotton wool.’

Darling strummed the table top with his podgy fingers. He twisted a pencil in his other hand and broke the point on his notepad. ‘Cotton wool? Whatever are you blithering on about?’

‘Cotton wool does it too. Wouldn’t think that would you? But when you rubs it between your fingers, well, I have have to clench my teeth together. See, like this, Sir.’ Sweetheart grimaced his teeth together and growled like an angry Rottweiler about to attack.

Darling growled back. ‘Grrrrrrrrrrr………..’

Sweetheart growled louder. ‘GRRRRRRR…………’

Darling’s face went redder and redder as he growled louder still. ‘GRRRRRRRRRRR……’ His cheeks flapped like an angry bulldog and he pounced at Sweetheart.

‘Stop the recording!’ he barked, hitting the button on the tape recorder.

Sweetheart rocked against the wall. His chair almost toppling over. ‘S-Sorry, Sir. I don’t know what got into me. Y-Yes, I do. it was the cotton wool. Thoughts of it made me go all funny.’

Darling ignored his sergeant’s remarks and rewound the tape. ‘Here. Swap seats.’

The WPC standing against the wall tried to stifle a laugh but failed. Darling shot her an angry glare. Red veins splintered his cheeks. ‘Yes?’

The WPC coughed to compose her laughter. ‘Can I get you anything? Tea, perhaps?’

‘Yes – Yes. That’d be nice.’

‘And if you sit really still you can have a biscuit,’ the young policewoman laughed as she hurriedly left the room.


Cyrances wiped her sweaty hands down the sides of her white linen skirt, staining it brown, and placed the broom in a recess along the side of the courtyard wall. She was relieved to walk in the cool shadow of the cloisters. Singing accompanied by music plucked from stringed lyres floated through a tall arched entrance way. Cyrances was just about to walk through the archway when she heard a hushed call from across the courtyard. She turned. A grey haired old man dressed in a fringed skirt beckoned urgently to her. This was Urkal – one of the elder high priests. Cyrances hurried over to him. He pulled her into the shadows of the cloisters.

‘Cyrances. I thought you would be here.’ Urkal wheezed as though frightened.

‘What is it, Urkal? What troubles you?’

‘I have news for you. We must be careful though. Amurabis has ears everywhere. I fear for my safety if caught imparting this information to you but King Hannouken was kind to me and the fairest of our rulers.’

Cyrances lowered her head, hiding the tears glistening across her eyes.

‘Your children. They have been seen.’

‘What? Nampur and Zayana? Where are they?’ Cyrances asked impatiently. ‘I must see them.’

Urkal swallowed hard and shook his head. ‘No, Cyrances. You cannot. They have been seen incarcerated in a wooden cage driven through the streets on a cart.’ He stroked his long grey beard to stop his hands from shaking whilst looking from side to side checking that no-one was listening.

‘Where? Who saw them?’ Cyrances asked urgently, desperate for information about her two children.

‘A young slave. I overheard him in idle chatter amongst the slaves, yesterday He knows no more, only that they were in the hands of Amurabis’s men, and that other children were caged with them.’

Cyrances wiped her eyes and breathed deeply to compose herself. She was relieved to hear news of her children but alarmed as to what fate awaited them.

‘Th-Thank you, Urkal,’ she stuttered.

‘I only wish my tidings could have bore more hope for you.’ Urkal gazed mournfully at Cyrances, then turned quickly. A tall dark haired man strode purposefully from the temple. A fearful look passed between Urkal and Cyrances. Had they been overheard by Zekel? He walked towards them, his sly dark eyes observing them intently as though he was trying to penetrate their minds.

‘Gossiping with slaves now, Urkal?’ He glanced with contempt at Cyrances and brushed the side of his long dark skirt as though he may have been contaminated with fleas from her.

‘No – No. I was just reminding the slave to change the sacrificial offerings to Hakken, our God of War.’ He turned to Cyrances. ‘Find Ammen or Kanukka. They will slit the throat of a young goat for you. Now hurry!’ he scolded her. ‘And when you have done that, make sure you sweep this courtyard again. It isn’t good enough.’

‘Yes – Yes, my lord. I am sorry. I will hurry.’ Cyrances kept up the pretence and vanished through the arched entrance.

‘Good to see you are keeping her busy. Work her to a standstill until she succumbs to Amurabis are our orders. Flog her if necessary,’ Zekel chuckled.


Cyrances squinted at the bright sunlight hitting the marbled floor beneath her feet. Damp tresses of dark hair clung to the sides of her face. The morning was already uncomfortably warm. How had this happened? Her fall from Queen of Nephatimis was almost complete but she would not succumb to Amurabis’s demands that she join his harem. He would have to kill her before that happened. Tears of anger and sadness glistened in her dark brown eyes as she thought back to the days when she ruled this land with her husband, King Hannouken.

The people truly worshipped King Hannouken. Many years ago, his descendants had the vision to transform the village settlements along the banks of the two rivers – the Nisai and the Ephramun – into a thriving inland settlement by means of land irrigation. No longer would the people have to eke out a living on meagre crops and a few animals. Vast fields of wheat and barley now thrived in the once desolate flatlands. Groves of date palms, olives, oranges, lemons, pomegranates and other trees swayed in the warm winds offering fruits to the people and shade to the large herds of sheep and goats grazing beneath them. The settlements grew into thriving cities surrounded by man-made canals that allowed merchant ships to sail out into the Galgao Sea to do trade with neighbouring countries and islands. As a result almost one hundred thousand people now inhabited Anun, the main city of Nephatimis.

The centre of the city was occupied by sprawling bazaars and workshops for craftsmen who turned out beautiful trinkets and jewellery, finely crafted pottery, richly woven carpets and rugs, garments of the finest silks and cotton. The air was rich with the aroma of countless herbs and spices, exotic fruits and vegetables. People thronged through the winding avenues and streets of comfortable white bricked houses and mansions in a hubbub of noise and excited barter and haggling.

No one went without in the reign of King Hannouken and Queen Cyrances for this land of plenty was shared with all strands of society. All able bodied were in some form of employment or education and the old and the sick were comfortably cared for.

There were occasional skirmishes between the rival cities, arguing over irrigation rights and petty jealousies. As a result all cities were protected by towering walls and each boasted its own army. Amurabis commandeered the ten thousand strong army of Nephatimis. Amurabis himself had been brought to Nephatimis as a slave, working in the temple for the Grand Sorcerer and either by luck or cunning had eventually gained his freedom. With nowhere to go and no one to turn to he joined the army and swiftly powered through the ranks by his ferocious strength and bravery which no one dared to question.

Had they been asleep to Amurabis’s plans? How had the army of King Hannouken, to whom it sweared its allegiance, turned on them? The morning they dragged King Hannouken from his slumber had left deep scars in Cyrances’s mind that could never be healed. The look of bewilderment on his face as he was jostled from his wife’s embrace by brutish guards, their demonic eyes glowering wildly, insane laughter cackling from sneering mouths. Cyrances never saw her husband again – not as she knew him that is. His kind smile. His loving eyes. His gentle words. The last time Cyrances saw her husband’s face was when Amurabis forced her to the city’s gate to view King Hannouken’s head impaled on metal spikes.


‘That’s awfully mean of Pater, don’t you think? Do you never get jealous of Pater’s ladies? I mean to say, Pater was mawwied twice before you came along and wescued him.’

‘Jealous? Jealous?’ Mater chuckled to herself. ‘No, of course not Agatha. It wasn’t Pater’s fault his mawwiages didn’t work out, you know. His first wife, Ophelia, suddenly decided she wanted to be a man and had the mawwiage annulled so she could have a gender change. And his second wife, Heidi fwom Hanover, why, she suffered fwom tewwible home-sickness and wan off with a German shot-putter duwing the Munich Olympics of ’72. By all accounts, according to Pater, she looked like she was the one who undertook a gender change.’

‘He does like his ladies on the large size, doesn’t he Mater? Not that you’re large, Mater. I’d say you’re more…more….’

‘Voluptuous is the word you’re looking for, Agatha, my dear.’

‘Is it?’ Agatha frowned and blinked her magnified owl eyes quickly.

‘Yes, voluptuous,’ Mater purred and became dreamy eyed.‘Why, when we were courting, Engelbert used to say I weminded him of Mae West.’ Mater then smiled provocatively and spoke in an American accent of sultry tones, ‘When I’m good, I’m vewy good, but when I’m bad, I’m better.’ Mater’s face suddenly flushed red and she squealed in embarrassed laughter as though she couldn’t believe as to what she had just said.

‘Oh Mater!’ Agatha laughed. ‘You’re such a scweam.’

Mater quickly fanned her face with a tea towel. ‘My Lord, I don’t know what came over me. Must be the fumes fwom the beetwoot wine.’ Mrs. Sparrow giggled and caught her breath and continued in a more controlled manner. ‘Oh, Pater knows which side his bwead is buttered. Gweat Gwandpapa Howatio made his fortune in tea plantations. If ever Pater seems to be getting too fond of his ladies I just ask – “more tea Vicar?” and smile innocently. Engelbert soon falls back into line.’

Mother and baby owl exchanged innocent smiles and burst into owlish hoots.

‘You’re such a card, Mater,’ said Agatha as a flash of inspiration to match Mater’s cunning sparked through her mind.

‘I say, Mater. Surely you don’t need to give all twelve bottles of beetwoot wine to the fete. Why not save a bottle or two for you and Pater? Help with Pater’s migwaine after an evening with his ladies? May even spark off Pater’s memowies of the wesemblance between your good self and Mae West’

‘Hmmm,’ mused Mater. ‘I say, Agatha old girl. That could be an excellent idea. An excellent idea indeed. Although Pater does find it exceptionally powerful stuff. On second thoughts maybe not.’

‘But surely Pater needs it, if only for medicinal weasons. You know how cwanky he can be if he gets a migwaine.’
Mrs. Sparrow hesitated and strummed the edge of the cardboard box with her podgy fingers. ‘Well, maybe just one tiny glass. I suppose one tiny glass can’t do any harm – can it?’

Agatha grinned. She knew full well that Pater would soon get a taste for the beetroot and Mater would resemble Mae West more and more with every sip. Slipping out to see her bestest friend in the whole wide world would be a piece of cake. Yes, thought Agatha, the Lord does work in mysterious ways.


‘I’ve had a tewwific time, Mater. Emily is such a dear fwiend. She’s my bestest fwiend in the whole wide world. I can’t wait to call on her tomowwow.’

‘You won’t be calling on that demon girl tomorrow or any other day, Agatha,’ the Vicar interjected, eyeing Agatha sternly through the rear mirror of the car. ‘She’s the Devil’s child is that one. The seed of Satan.’ He crunched the gears in annoyance.

‘B-But Pater…..’

‘No buts child. You will be coming to the Church Fete tomorrow where we can keep an eye on you, my girl.’

Agatha frowned and begged Mater sitting by her side with pleading eyes. Mrs. Sparrow blinked her owl eyes rapidly and patted Agatha’s knee reassuringly. ‘The Lord works in mysterious ways, Agatha. Mysterious ways indeed.’

Agatha smiled, knowing the Lord would probably help her without upsetting Pater too much.

Just then a blur whizzed past the side of the car. ‘Oh, look Mater. Why, I do believe it’s Michael!’ Agatha pointed excitedly at the large figure cycling down the pavement, wending through pedestrians like an Olympic skier on a slalom course.

‘God preserve us!’ snapped Pater. ‘Is that troll another one of your new friends?’ The Vicar’s voice squeaked in fear. He pulled at his dog collar and stretched his neck as though trying to escape the responsibilities of his garments before the demon turned on him.

‘Why, n-no P-Pater,’ Agatha stammered.

‘Tell me child. Have you been associating with that brute.’

‘N-No Pater. Definitely not, Pater.’

The Vicar’s eyes burned into Agatha’s reflection. ‘God will know if you are lying Agatha. I will ask you one more time. Have you been fraternising with that monster?’

Agatha gulped. Her magnified owl eyes looked up at Mater for some guidance but none was forthcoming.
‘N-No, Pater. You must believe me. I just know him from school.’ Agatha denied Mad Mick’s friendship for the third time. Agatha squeezed her eyes shut tight. A cockerel crowed from the allotments by the side of the road. ‘Forgive me St.Peter,’ Agatha muttered, praying she wouldn’t be crucified upside down for her sins.

‘Humph!’ The Vicar grunted and crunched the gears yet again as he slammed the gear stick into fourth and accelerated into an unfamiliar speed.

‘You can help me with the beetroot wine when we get home, Agatha,’ Mater smiled. ‘Pater has his ladies coming round. He won’t want us under his feet.’


Ben somersaulted through a tunnel without walls, a dazzling brightness pulling him towards its centre. Nothing remained of Ben’s body, he was a thought in a sea of consciousness with an infinite knowledge of everything that had passed and what was yet to follow. Any fear had melted away with the molecules of his existence. He was an electrical impulse now travelling through the matrix of reality stopping occasionally, dripping through a fibre of energy into a scene of life.

‘She’s murdered him!’ Henrietta screamed, her red rimmed eyes bulging crazily from their sockets. ‘I knew we shouldn’t have let him go off with that thug. He’s her accomplice.’

Percy affectionately stroked the tactile photo frame standing on the mantle, gazing into Ben’s blue eyes underlined with deep shadows.

‘Well…What are you going to do about it, Percy? Eh? What are you going to do?’

Percy shook his head, frustrated by his wife’s hysterical rants and gently embraced her.

‘There’s nothing we can do, dear. We must leave the police to get on with their investigations.’

Henrietta pulled at a handkerchief, held between her bird-like hands, as though she was about to rip it apart. Veins bulged between the sinews of her neck. She jumped up from the two-seater settee and grabbed a plastic model of Darwin’s ship, The Beagle. She flung it to the floor and jumped up and down on it until it was scattered across the carpet. Franklin, the family’s highly strung Yorkshire Terrier, scurried from beneath the drop-leaf table and scampered into the kitchen.

Ben tugged at his Mum’s dark green cardigan.

‘I’m here Mum. I’m okay. Mr’s O’Kell is innocent.’

Henrietta rushed back to the settee and buried her head into a floral cushion, sobbing wildly. Percy stooped to salvage what he could of his plastic ship. Ben tapped his Dad’s shoulder.

‘Dad, I’m here. Everything’s going to be okay now. You can call the police. Tell them to release Mrs. O’Kell.’

Percy rubbed his forehead and sighed heavily. That ship had taken him two months to complete. How could she? How could she? He placed the largest pieces onto the table and went to the kitchen. Ben followed him.

‘Dad! Dad! Can’t you hear me?’

Percy rummaged through a cupboard beneath the kitchen sink and pulled out a brush and pan set.

‘Dad! Dad!’ Ben shouted but Percy didn’t respond. Franklin did though. He ran to Ben and sat at his feet, jumping up at him and barking excitedly.

‘Whatever’s got into you?’ Percy snapped angrily at the small terrier jumping up at empty space, and left the kitchen.

Ben shook his head despondently and stroked Franklin’s head. ‘You can see me. Why can’t they?’ Franklin wagged his tail and licked Ben’s hand. ‘What am I going to do, Franklin? What am I going to do?’

Ben didn’t have time to wait and find out as his body was sucked back into the meshwork of his perceived reality. His existence raced through a network of holographic dimensions and streams of thought until it dropped into another reality, as water would fall from a dripping tap.





The arrows split the gnarled bark as two small figures dived behind it’s protective shield.

‘I can’t run anymore. I can’t….I can’t….I can’t,’ the frail boy cried.

‘We have to. They’ll kill us this time if we stay. Come on Mezbah. Grab my hand.’

Baying hounds accompanied the ominous sounds of the long hunting horns, their slender golden bodies glistening in the dappled sunlight.



Two spears vibrated in the large tree trunk, their shafts shivering, emulating the fear quivering in the boys’ hearts.

‘Leave me. You go. I want to die. Let me join our Father in the Otherworld.’

‘No,’ Nampur hissed, grabbing his brother’s arm and dragging him to his shaky feet. ‘You’re coming with me. We’re nearly there. Look!’ Nampur pointed to a sandstone wall at the edge of the forest. A golden gate adorned with serpents’ heads stood ajar, tempting them to take the next few strides to safety……………….or death.

A loud crack of twigs diverted their attention. A young boy darted from the safety of the foliage, his eyes screaming alarm. He ran for the open gate but stumbled in a mass of trailing vines. He rose to his feet and glanced at the excited shouts behind. A flurry of arrows thudded into his back dropping him to the ground like a trembling porcupine.

‘Now,’ screamed Nampur dragging Mezbah towards the exit before he had time to object. Twisting black arrows whistled past their ears and smashed against the stone wall. Frenzied yapping yelps increased in volume as the hunters released the pack of tesem, ferocious hunting hounds, used by Amurabis, the ruler of Nephatimis to appease his lust for hunting children.


Do you ever ask yourself why are you here? What’s this all about? Do you find the same problems recurring in your life? Maybe karma is the answer.

If you believe the Ancient teachings, before incarnation our soul enters into a contract and it is given a certain amount of karma to work through whilst on the Earth plane. As well as this karma, it is given talents that will enable it to work through the karma and fulfil its reason for experiencing life in a mortal body.

As a human, whenever problems occur in our life we always look for someone to blame or we ask some invisible deity why do you keep doing this to me. Maybe you need to take a good look at yourself and ask how can I stop this happening. What lesson can I learn from this? By taking this approach you stop giving your power away, you take control of your own life and you project your own reality. The more you acknowledge your faults and realise the talents you have to work through them, the easier your life will be as you fulfil your reason for being here.

The Precious Gift Of Time

What do we never have enough of but when we have too much we are bored of it? What can be over in the blink of an eye but can also seem to last for eternity? What is the most precious gift we are given but we tend to waste? The answer is time.

Of our allotted time on Earth we will sleep half of that time, we will work another third of the time, we will use another good chunk of it bringing children up and doing chores around the house. It doesn’t leave much left for ourselves does it? You can’t wrap it up in fancy paper and pretty ribbons but you can see why it is the greatest gift that you can give to anyone. Just a moment of your time given to a bereaved person who just needs a kind word and some company. A visit or a telephone call to your elderly parent is the best tonic you can give them if they aren’t feeling too good. A word of encouragement to your children will spur them on and make them feel good about themselves.

So the next time you put off making that phone call or a visit to a friend or relative, or you can’t take your eyes off the television to talk to your children, just pause for a moment and remember that they may not always be there and this moment of time will never be yours again. So go on make that call.

The Auction

The elderly auctioneer pointed his gavel at the attentive audience, scanning their faces for any sign of a twitch or a nod. ‘2500 once – 2500 twice – Sold to the gentle man at the back!’

Ben heaved a sigh and smiled. He’d got them. The two Gothic mirrors were his. Ben held the first mirror at arms’ length, admiring the carved wooden serpents adorning the ebony frame. The mirrors had belonged to Sir Cedric Fortescue – a prominent Satanist with a scandalous reputation in the 18th century.

He held the other mirror out, rubbing his thumb across the tactile serpent’s head. That’s strange, he thought. He checked the back of the mirror and looked into the mirror again. There was no reflection.

Suddenly, the air chilled. The walls of the auction house melted away, replaced by an ominous landscape of crooked stone crosses and violated headstones. Ben gaped in alarm at the dark reflection rippling across the mirror’s surface. Fiery eyes flamed from the demon’s face. Clawed hands grabbed Ben’s head and dragged him into the mirror.

The stout porter wheezed to pick the mirror up. ‘Get the other mirror, Bill. Someone’s left them again. We’ll put them into next month’s auction.’