Please vote for the piece you feel is most deserving:

Poll closed Oct 17, 2010.
  1. art - A small toothbrush

    1 vote(s)
  2. daffers - Time Freeze

    1 vote(s)
  3. The End - Celestial Wars

    1 vote(s)
  4. Wicked -Gytrea

    0 vote(s)
  5. sabrina29 - time freeze

    0 vote(s)
  6. JudeLaurenzo - Time Freeze

    1 vote(s)
  7. Chudz - Time Step

    4 vote(s)
  8. Manav - Un-Freeze

    6 vote(s)
  9. nastyjman - Alarm Clock

    0 vote(s)
  10. Bodiam - Consequences (Caution: Language)

    0 vote(s)
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  1. Gannon

    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England

    Voting Short Story Contest 77: Time Freeze

    Discussion in 'Bi-Weekly Short Story Contest Archives' started by Gannon, Oct 4, 2010.

    Voting Short Story Contest (77) Theme: Time Freeze

    Thank you for all your entries. The winner will be stickied until the next contest's winner is crowned. No more entries are allowed in this contest.

    Voting will end Sunday 17th October 2010 to give you all a chance to read the entries.

    It is possible to vote for yourself, but I would hope in the name of good sportsmanship that you would only do so if you have read all the other stories and given them your honest evaluation. You gain nothing if you base your vote solely on how you feel about the author or whether you have personally invested time and effort in the story. In the end, your conscience is your only judge.

    Any entries under or over the suggested word limit will be flagged as such - they are still entered in to the contest. It is for you to decide whether they are still worthy of your vote.

    Any entry not in accordance with the theme will be dealt with on a case by case basis to determine eligibility. Consider how the author has responded to the theme in making your decision.

    Good luck to everyone.
  2. Gannon

    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    art - A small toothbrush

    ‘You know, I can tell you this: who you’re gonna kill is not who you think you’re gonna kill. I’ve done nothing. The skin on these hands has never touched the neck of a child. The muscles in my arms, in my legs, have never dug a shallow grave. My brain that once thought those things, is not there anymore. Cells change. People change. I’ve changed. It’s not 1998 anymore. It’s not… Oh my God, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.’

    Sarah was glad. The performance had moved her. She stopped the camera.

    Another recording of a condemned man to be shown to the family of his victim. Another chance for the family to approve or disprove of the prisoner’s destruction. Another chance for Governor Eastman to appear Biblical in his apprehension of justice, yet guiltless should any slaughter take place.

    ‘What a prick, what a brilliant prick Eastman is,’ thought Sarah as she pulled into the Johnson’s driveway. Things were a little easier now – the third time - and Sarah knocked unapologetically at the door: the business-like rap of a sharp-suited woman beholden to the clock and agitated by a cystitic bladder.

    Emma Johnson, in an ill-fitting grey tracksuit and with an ashen face, forty years in the making but sixty in appearance, opened the door. For just a beat, in the face of Emma’s lifelessness, Sarah was ashamed of her own perfect lipstick and prim handsomeness.

    ‘Hello Emma, we’ve spoken on the phone. Sorry, before we get underway, may I use your bathroom?’

    ‘Sure, yeh, sure. It’s along the corridor and to the left.’

    With an uncertain step, Sarah walked the long corridor of bare, dejected, crème walls. She tried a door and a glimpsed scene of stuffed toys and pink bed linen was cut short by a desperate voice.

    ‘No, no, not that one,’ cried Emma, her voice almost irrational with urgency. ‘It’s the next one along.’

    As Sarah pissed, she scanned the bathroom. The tired, Martha Stewart décor of contrived, clinical homeliness had, pathetically, lost its talent to offend. At the sink, three toothbrushes, two large and one small, stood separately in three glasses. Sarah slumped and closed her eyes to shut out the horror. Minutes passed.

    David is back from work. Back from the very same middle-management work he’s done the last fifteen years. He sits alongside Emma, close but distant. Both are impassive as they wait for Sarah.

    Sarah returns and settles opposite them. She reaches into her briefcase. Her fingers pass hesitatingly over documents and rest on the recording. David moves his hand to find Emma’s. Deftly, expertly, without fuss or upset, Emma moves her hand away.

    In the case, Sarah’s hand clenches.
    ‘Unusually,’ she begins, ‘the prisoner chose not to make a tape.’
  3. Gannon

    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    daffers - Free Frame

    It was Saturday evening and I was watching Pope Benedict XVI, I was not one of the lucky ones of the parish who were there. I had put my name into the hat to be one of the 20 lucky parishioners who were given tickets to attend one or other of the services where the Pope would officiate.

    I scanned the crowd as they waited patiently for the Pontiff to arrive, those with tickets and the general crowd behind. I could feel the excitement radiating from each member of the congregation, it was in the radiance of their faces, the eagerness as they watched the big screens that showed the cavalcade before and after the Pope-mobile and I tried not to compare the atmosphere to that earlier in the day when the Pontiff presided over the mass in Westminster Cathedral. I had looked for the parishioners who I knew were there, but had not seen them, now I was doing the same as I avidly watched the coverage simultaneously on TV and computer.

    Hyde Park seemed full as the seething multitude moved endlessly. I looked at the TV image, it was the larger of the two while listening to the computer, it didn’t have the endless benign coverage as so called experts constantly spouted inane comments and observations, so I muted it and turned up the volume on the computer. The cavalcade got closer and closer and as I waited just as eager as the crowd itself he arrived and joined the human procession to the altar set up for the exposition of the sacraments later in the evening.

    As the evening progressed and the vigil and the prayers began it dawned on me that I had taught adults to use Microsoft Office Software, I should be able to get some pictures of the event downloaded and printed later. I trawled through what I knew of picture saving, I couldn’t right click and save that wouldn’t work on moving pictures, I couldn’t copy it with realplayer as I was not using IE as my browser and Safari did not have an add-on for realplayer. I pulled out all that I could remember and it came to me, the blessed keyboard had a button ‘PrtScn’ what a plonker.

    I hastily opened ‘Word’ and toggled between the that and Safari, I would capture the moment with ‘PrtScn’ then paste into ‘Word’ using one of the ‘hot’ keys on my keyboard, Ctrl+V or ‘Paste’ button in ‘Word’. I was on a roll, I was watching and listening even remembering the prayers as we went along. The atmosphere grew as the exposition approached and I sank into the service, the pictures were secondary for sometime but it didn’t matter I felt I was there with the friends I knew were part of the congregation, although once again I didn’t recognise any of them in the crowd.

    As the service came to an end and the crowd began to disperse I again caught some pictures of candles glowing in the darkness. These were the candles lit from the paschal candle lit by the Pontiff then that light was passed to those designated to take the light back to their own home parishes. It was a magical sight and I felt privileged to be able to witness it.

    Later that evening I went into editor mode, cropping and enlarging the portion I wanted to keep, I started with over sixty pictures and eventually whittled them down to around forty which will eventually be printed out and put into some sort of presentation folder to be given to my parish priest as a memento.

    It would not have been possible though if I had not remembered my teaching experience and the little key that allows ‘Freeze Frame’ capturing that one moment in time and freezing it.
  4. Gannon

    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    The End - Celestial Wars

    Lights flashed brilliantly in the command center. People hurried about, shouting orders and numbers, to keep the sequence going. Wings buzzed above and whips cracked at disobeyed orders. Machines hummed in the background. The power generator roared to keep up with all the activity.

    Sean puffed on a cigarette from the command deck. He was the only human present; a distinction that he had quickly come to enjoy. Those around him hardly fit the label of people. They were varkod, a bug like creature. Dark green eyes stuck in a flat and triangular face with pinchers that protruded from their mouths, leathery wings lay bare on their backs, and crooked limbs played as arms and legs for their insect bodies.

    The first time he saw one was at the beginning of the Celestial Wars in the 20’s – August 4, 2122 to be exact. The Quaversal Pact had been made several years before and was headed in a beneficial direction. For unknown reasons, the varkod had broken the truce and attacked earth. Their full armada was unleashed against earth’s defenses. Debris fell from the sky like rain. Starships exploded in space like a gut turning display of fireworks. The sky raged red as if lit by the fires of Hell. The battle lasted for days and the other allies were too far away to help. Even earth’s allies, the heirlions, and their grand technology couldn’t be of aid. Few humans survived the onslaught, but those that did scavenged the earth for resources after the fighting. The varkod were efficient and almost annihilated the human race. Of the billions of people that inhabited Earth, only a few ten thousand survived. When help finally arrived, even that number had shrunk from death by shock, lack of food, and other natural causes.

    The heirlions did all they could to help the humans rebuild. Earth and its people were strong and defiant. They learned to live with what they had. It took years to become a strong nation again, and even now they paled in comparison with the other races. Yet, with the help of the Triversal Allies, as the Quaversal Pact is now called, the humans were able to rebuild their military and fight back against the varkod. The war was just beginning.

    That was over 20 years ago. Sean leaned against the railing. He had just been a boy then. Even after losing everything in the war, he had managed to survive like the others. He would never forget what the varkod did to his family – father, mother, sister – all dead in a moment.

    As he grew older and learned about machines, computers, starships, and fighting, Sean decided to join the marines. It gave him an opportunity to take out his rage on the vile alien race. His dedication quickly sent him up the ranks of the military, and before he knew it, he was a part of TABOO, Triversal Alliance’s Black Ops Oasis. He thought the name was ironic yet somehow fitting for those that joined.

    A wisp of smoke floated in front of him. Now he was here, in the midst of his most hated enemy. His mission was only known to those in TABOO, and even they didn’t fully understand. It took him many long years to reach this point. To infiltrate an enemy planet, acting as a traitor to his own people, and gaining their trust didn’t happen over night. All his work had produced some fruit. He was now general of the varkod army and head of the experimental team.

    A varkod scientist came up beside Sean and held out a thin frame. He took it and scrolled down the paper thin, holographic screen. It was all the reports on the new weapon he had built. Everything was going as planned. If they could avoid any mistakes, the weapon would be ready to launch within the hour. He handed the reports back and puffed out another round of smoke. A grim smile curled his lips, finally the end was coming.

    The weapon was purely brilliant. Sean had conjured it up himself, which had gained him a lot of respect from the varkod government and leaders. The weapon would end the war with a single blast. The varkod intended to use it on earth, but Sean had other plans; not that the varkod would ever know before it was too late. Only in the end would they see their mistake and live just long enough to regret it. Sean pushed of a few buttons on the console then looked up and saw a hologram of a varkod on the table projector beside him.

    “Captain Kvirik,” said Sean in a demanding tone. “Is the fleet in position to commence?”

    “Yes sir,” replied the captain in a crackling voice not meant for speaking the human language. “We are ready to proceed. We wait only for your signal.”

    “Very good.” Sean pressed a button and the hologram faded out. He turned and walked down a flight of metal stairs to Nluk, the varkod head of security.

    “We are ready to launch,” said Sean.

    Nluk turned and held up a card. Sean held up a similar one; then they both went back to the command deck. Nluk swiped a card over a scanner on the large command console. A latch appeared on the metal desk and he pulled it open. Two card slots revealed themselves. Sean took a breath and pinched the cross necklace that rested around his neck. It vibrated against his skin. He took a sharp glance at Nluk, the varkod hadn’t noticed. Slowly he moved to the slots and held his card near it. He prayed this would work.

    Nluk stood next to Sean with his card ready. They exchanged glances then simultaneously thrust the cards into the slots. The computer quickly scanned them and a pad of buttons lifted from the console. Sean took a breath and entered the code. Sirens sounded and the station went into a frizzy. The launch sequence had begun and the crew scrambled furiously about to meet the demands. The generator screamed as it prepared to launch the weapon. Technical crews checked the numbers. The captains screamed orders. Nluk disappeared to help with the madness. Varkod zoomed through the air from computer to computer punching in numbers, coordinates, and codes. The count down had begun. Sean merely puffed on his cigarette and grinned. He watched the screen on the far side of the room. Numbers fell with each second. 6…5…4…3…2…1…

    A heavy shock wave hit Sean in the chest and knocked the breath out of him. He gasped and tried to clutch his chest, but he was paralyzed and couldn’t move. His mind panicked and he thought of the necklace. It hadn’t worked! His weapon was successful, but his defense had failed! Unexpectedly, air rushed into his lungs and he coughed back to life. He fell to his knees and breathed heavily.

    When he had recovered he took notice of his surroundings. Everything in the command center had frozen in place. Nluk stood still as a statue, stuck in the middle of shouting orders. Varkod hung in the air like ugly decorations. The lights that were supposed to be flashing remained one color. The clocks had stopped. The chaos of the command center had become like a stone courtyard full of cold statues. No life was evident. The generator and computers had stopped humming. Even the air was thick and seemed stuck, unable to free itself from the weapon.

    Sean grinned, it worked. The time control weapon had worked. He laughed unable to contain the excitement. He looked at his watch. He had frozen the whole varkod planet on January 3, 2144 by earth’s reckoning. The war would be over now. His weapon had worked after all. Sean fingered his necklace. Thanks to it, he remained unaffected by the time freeze.

    Snapping out of the thrilling moment, Sean realized he still had to get off the planet. The Triversal Allies were going to fire upon the planet on his signal; which he was sure had gone off by now. They would fire even if he wasn’t off the planet. There had been no guarantee that he would not freeze with everyone else, so he had arranged a way for them to know when the planet was frozen in time. He whirled around and rushed through the station. Running wasn’t as easy as he thought it would be. With the thick air, it felt like running in water. Each stride took tremendous effort, but air wasn’t going to stop him. Frozen varkod created an obstacle throughout the facility. Their gruesome expressions stuck like masks. Out of curiosity Sean shot one with his pistol as he ran. The bullet went straight through leaving a small hole. No blood dripped out. Intriguing, he thought as he passed by.

    He reached the hanger in minutes. The ship was off to the side away from the cluster of frozen objects. Varkod, starships, and crates were scattered about as they prepared to launch the attack on earth. The scene was almost amusing.

    Jumping into the ship, Sean turned it on and to his relief the spacecraft worked fine. He had altered it so it would survive the time freeze as well. It had taken all his brilliance to build the starship. There had been no way to fully know if it would work until now. He could rest easy. Sean was about to take off when he saw that the hanger doors were closed. That wasn’t good. They were supposed to be open. He jumped out of the small starship and rushed to the hanger controls. Grimacing, he tried to punch the codes in, but the keys were frozen and wouldn’t budge no matter how hard he pushed. A varkod gun leaned against the wall not far away. Sean grabbed it, but it stuck in its place. Frozen in time. Unable to move from its current state. He tugged and pulled but to no avail. Time – or the lack there of – had the gun in its grips.

    Rushing back to his ship, he searched inside for anything that would blow up the hanger doors. Several charges lay scattered about, so he gathered them as fast as he could and placed them by the hanger door. After setting them, he dove behind a pile of crates and slammed his hands over his ears. He waited, but no ear piercing explosion filled the air. Poking his head above the crates, he saw a small hole in the hanger, but not large enough for the ship.

    Leaping inside the craft, he started it up and faced the doors. He would have to blast his way out. Every missile and laser equipped was fired in rapid succession. Shrapnel flew everywhere and smoke billowed from the hanger door. When the smoke cleared, Sean could see a hole, it wasn’t big, but possibly just enough for the ship to make it through. He glanced at his watch, they would be firing soon. He didn’t have a choice; he had to get through.

    The ship rushed towards the door. With eyes half closed, Sean scrapped the sides as the ship squeezed through. A shout of defiance and victory escaped his lips. Now it was time to go home. It was over. All over.

    The varkod planet faded below him. The nations all caught in the time freeze weapon stood still. The trees didn’t sway, dust didn’t settle, and water didn’t splash. The very air was stale and motionless.

    Sean exited the atmosphere and breathed a sigh of relief. For the first time in ten years he was out of the varkod society. He couldn’t wait to get home. The stars shone around him as he flew through space. He looked around trying to find the fleet that was supposed to destroy the planet. Nothing was in view.

    The radio sputtered static and he snatched it. “This is Sean with TABOO, over.”

    An inaudible voice crackled on the line but he couldn’t make out what it said. As he flew around the planet, the crackling became less and he finally made out the words. “Repeat, I said repeat.”

    An armada of massive cruisers floated above the varkod world. All the allies were present. A bright laser flashed from one of the cruisers. The bombarding had begun. Sean grinned, “This is Sean with TABOO. Who am I speaking with?”

    The radio crackled, “This is General Alex Tanner.” There was a brief silence. “It’s good to have you back Sean.”
  5. Gannon

    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    Wicked - Gytrea

    “Teacher, please tell me a story!”

    The old man smiled, his eyes narrowing. The soft blue light emanating from the planet beyond the porthole accented the deep wrinkles on his broad, bronze-colored face, yet the sparks in his eyes betrayed strength usually common to much younger men.

    “A story? Let me think…” he paused, pretending to ponder the request. “Ah, I have just the one!” he smiled again, observing the child’s reaction. The eight year old was positively glowing with anticipation and excitement.

    He shifted to a more comfortable position on the pillows, and took a deep breath before he began.

    “A hundred and thirty odd years ago, there was a powerful order called the Order of Reason. It was formed by people with powerful psionic abilities from all around the galaxy who decided to dedicate their life to helping others, as well as bettering themselves by honing their own skills at psychic powers. Their base of operations was a remote planet called Gytrea”.

    “Could they read other people’s thoughts!?”

    “Don’t interrupt me” the old man raised a finger to his lips, indicating silence.

    “As I was saying, the Order lived quietly in their corner of known space, not meddling in galactic politics. They hired out their services to others, but the Order’s powerful leader, Benjamin, insisted that they never use their powers for violence or in the service of immoral people, only for the good of fellow sapient beings. The members of the Order continued to train and eke out a living for many years, but then, one day, disaster struck…”


    Benjamin was not surprised when Jasmine burst into the office – he sensed her approach from miles away, and understood something was wrong. Despite this knowledge, he chose not to establish mental contact with her. The Gift was not something members of the Order used casually.

    “Sire!” Jasmine blurted out as she entered the room and slammed the door shut behind her. Her clothes were dripping water, and the boots left muddy prints on the linoleum. She took a moment to catch her breath, panting heavily, then took off the boots and placed them on a special shelf nearby.

    Benjamin looked at her from across his desk, worry in his blue eyes. “What is it, Jasmine?”

    “The sensors… the sensors…” he waited patiently for her to catch her breath. “The orbital sensors detected a swarm of alien ships descending upon the planet!” she cried out.

    Benjamin could already sense the entire town stirring. The Order numbered 400 individuals, all concentrated in this village on a broad plane overlooking a mountain range.

    “Have they done anything bad?” he asked. “Have they killed someone? Have you tried talking to them?”

    “They have not, but I think it’s only a matter of time. Sire, we have sent radio transmissions requesting identification and stating that this planet is our colony. We received no response”

    “Have you tried communicating with them telepathically?” he asked.

    He didn’t need precognition to guess her answer as she replied. Human psionics rarely worked on any life-form but other humans.

    “Well, so long as they do not harm anyone, they are welcome to stay. The planet is certainly big enough for the both of us”

    “But sire! The ships appeared to be identical in design to the ones of the Harpies!”

    Benjamin frowned. The name sounded familiar.


    “Yes, the ones whose homeworld was destroyed in a war three years ago”

    “Ah right!” the memory clicked into place. “We sent Geller to mediate between the two sides but he failed. His ability to sense lies didn’t work on any of the species”.

    “Yes, those are the ones.” Suddenly, she lost her temper and banged her fist on the desk. “Their population numbered in the billions, sire! These refugees are going to take Gytrea over entirely if we don’t do something, anything, about them!”

    Benjamin didn’t flinch, or showed any reaction to her outburst.

    “My decision is final, Jasmine. We will not compromise our moral values by killing any of these people, nor are we going to use our gifts to inflict harm. We need to establish communications with them, and hopefully find some sort of solution”.

    “You are a fool! You’ll doom us all!” Jasmine exclaimed, quickly donning her boots and storming out of the office.

    Benjamin did not move, or react in any way. The only thing that changed was the expression of his eyes. They reflected great sadness.


    “Wow, teacher! This is incredible!” the boy shouted, much to the old man’s annoyance. “So what happened? Did they really do nothing or they kicked the aliens’ butts??”

    “That, young one, will have to wait for now” he stood up, helping himself along by leaning on the bulkhead. “It is lunch time, and it is important for you to eat in time if you want to grow to be as tall as I am”, he ruffled the youth’s hair affectionately.

    An hour later, they were back, sitting on the pillows next to the porthole. The blue light shining through it increased slightly in intensity.

    “The aliens did not attack any of the Order, but their numbers were vast” he continued the interrupted story. “They settled on a nearby continent, and started setting up heavy industries. They had to feed many mouths, and they had no time for subtlety or regard for the environment. As a result, a thick cloud of smoke and chemicals rose above the continent, and radioactive waste started streaming down the rivers and along the coasts. Although after three years of exile they have at last managed to find a habitable planet, they were ruining it in their desperation. The Order managed to establish communications, but couldn’t persuade them to go away – they had no other place to go, and they were not eager to go back living in cramped ships after spending three years in those conditions. Benjamin was resolved to keep trying to solve the crisis through diplomacy, but the situation soon began spiraling out of control…”


    The factory was not as large as she imagined it to be. It was surrounded with a three dimensional cage-like fence, and belched thick black smoke from several chimneys. Jasmine sniffed the air – it was foul with the stench of unidentified chemicals.

    She and her five cohorts were holding hands, advancing in a line towards the gate. It took all their willpower to twist light around the contours of their bodies, but as a result they were invisible to eye and sensor alike.

    “Brothers, sisters, be prepared” she sent a telepathic message to her squad. They acknowledged her order one by one, without a single word uttered, or motion made.

    Minutes later, they were at the gate, undetected. It was guarded by two yawning aliens, apparently bored out of their strange skulls. Jasmine studied them, her curiosity piqued. The creatures resembled bats more than the Harpies of ancient Earth mythology, with leathery wings and furry faces with beady eyes. Unlike bats, however, the aliens had long flexible necks which could easily turn in any direction, like a snake's body.

    The two were conversing idly, or at least making chirping sounds directed at each other. Jasmine approached one of them and extended her left hand. On the other side of the human chain, Sonja, her second in command, was doing the same thing to the other guard.

    A light tap on the forehead, strangely accompanies by a loud popping sound, and the creatures were both out cold.

    Jasmine picked up the weapon the alien was holding and examined it. The grip and trigger configuration was designed with the alien’s anatomy in mind, for a human shooting it would be at best extremely uncomfortable. The stock was way too low to be comfortably set into the shoulder, and the sights barely made any sense at all to her. Fortunately, she was not limited to her mere hands.

    By the time someone noticed the guards, it was too late. The six rogues were tearing their way through the interior, the alien weapons hovering in front of them and firing at the slightest provocation. Jasmine formed a telekinetic blade around her hand and decapitated one of the aliens, who managed to surprise her briefly by dropping in from above.

    By the time reinforcements arrived from the city, the factory was as silent as a graveyard. Essentially, that's what it had become.


    “Hey wait a minute, it doesn’t make any sense!” the boy cried.

    “And why is that?” the old man asked. “Do you not believe that great psionic powers can overcome lax security arrangements?”

    “No that’s not it” the kid grimaced. “How come the Monitor didn’t break them up?”

    The old man laughed. “The Monitor did not yet exist all those years ago. In those dark times, artificial intelligences were not even allowed the most basic of rights, and certainly were not trusted with keeping galactic peace!”

    “Oh…” the kid scratched the back of his head.

    “Yes. Anyway, the Harpies retaliated. Benjamin tried to explain that Jasmine acted of her own volition, but to no avail. After three members of the order were killed, Jasmine’s ranks expanded, until almost half of the Order was willing to go to war with the alien invaders. In reckless disregard of Benjamin’s wishes, Jasmine led an assault on the Harpy capital city. They were merely two hundred facing millions, but their tremendous psychic powers, especially when combined in a large group, gave them a big edge. Seeing her forces approaching the city and predicting many thousands of deaths, Benjamin gathered his remaining followers in a last ditch attempt to stop the violence on Gytrea”


    “Copiae copie mens succurro nos!“ the group was chanting in some ancient language. Benjamin concentrated, drawing power from realms beyond the quantum. Arrayed in a circle around him, the rest of the order were doing the same.

    Sweat was pouring down his forehead as he repeated the chant. Bright light began to form in his eyes. Reality itself began to shimmer, as Benjamin, the greatest psychic the universe has ever known, aided by two hundred others, unleashed the energies of the mind upon the planet.


    “Come on!” the old man said. He got up with some difficulty, and walked over to the porthole. The kid followed.

    By now their small ship had settled in low orbit around the planet.

    “Look!” he pointed.

    The child had to stand on the tip of his toes to look out of the porthole. What he saw was beautiful – a large blue and green planet, white clouds, essentially a perfect habitable world. Something was a bit off about it though, and he did not understand what until the teacher increased magnification. The crystals embedded into the transparent plastic of the porthole hummed softly, and suddenly the child could see the surface of the planet as clearly as if he were standing on the top of a mountain.

    A flock of strange creatures, with leathery wings and long necks, were frozen in mid-flight, like mosquitoes trapped in amber. Opposite them, a group of about a dozen humans wearing the strangest garments he had ever seen were likewise frozen in strange, unnatural positions. The old man played with the electronics a bit, and the kid could now see similar scenes many miles all around, with a strange alien city nearby.

    “Benjamin did what he had to do to avoid senseless killing. As a staunch pacifist, he couldn’t stand the thought of sentient beings murdering each other over a misunderstanding. So he used a temporary measure to prevent the loss of lives, until someone in the galaxy could find another way. And now, after all these centuries…” the view in the porthole suddenly changed as their ship turned. Now, the child could see a huge starship taking up position not far from their own small vessel. It was silvery and strange looking, with various edges and protrusions. “Now, all these centuries later, the Monitor has finally taken the time to examine the problem and hopefully solve it. I hope this would teach you a valuable lesson about life”.

    The child, mouth agape with wonder, watched the humongous ship descending into the planet’s atmosphere, emanating a strange, pulsating light.

    He was about to witness history in the making.
  6. Gannon

    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    sabrina29 - time freeze

    The second hand rotated slowly around the clock. tick. tick. tick. It seemed to move slower with every tick.
    "Come on," she whispered anxiously under her breath.
    She had better places to be than stuck in this classroom. Freedom was just around the corner, and the only thing standing in her way was the slow speed of the round wall clock.

    "Five more minutes..." Kayla said longingly. She continued to watch the time as her teacher's voiced droned on about a topic she had stopped paying attention to a long time ago.

    Tick. Tick. Tick...
    Suddenly the monotonous ticking stopped. She waited for the next tick of the clock but it never came.

    "Ughhhhh..." she moaned rather loudly. Her face turned red and Kayla looked around to see if anyone had noticed. Everyone was still. She was in the clear!

    She turned her attention back to clock that wasn't moving and became frustrated once again. That's when she noticed the eerie silence in the room. The teacher had stopped talking and was standing dead in his tracks.

    Kayla looked around her class once again and noticed that they too, we're sitting awfully still. She peered over the shoulder of the kid in front of her and saw his pen hovering over picture of and elephant he had draw. His arm wasn't moving at all.

    "What the..."
    Kayla stood up and walked to the front of the class. Not a single person in the room turned to look at her.
    "whats going on?" she asked.

    there was no reply.

    "Oh i get it. Is this some kind of joke?"
    She clapped her hands in front of one of the volleyball players sitting in the front. Her eyes didn't blink a wink.

    "This isn't funny!" She shouted.
    She shoved one of the boys in the front in the shoulder and he toppled out of his desk, frozen in the sitting position he had been in earlier.

    Kayla gasped.
    What was going on? Why was she the only person who was able to move?

    She ran out into the hallway and into another classroom to see if anyone else was moving around and sure enough, everyone else was sitting still, as if they were frozen solid in their seat.

    Kayla screamed in horror and dashed out of the classroom and outside. She didn't know what to do. How long would time be stopped like this for? For the rest of her life?

    She took long, deep breaths and pushed her blonde hair out of her face. She could feel her heart pounding through her chest.

    "What am i supposed to do?" She whined childishly. She thought back to the clock in her classroom, and how she had wished it had moved faster. All she had wanted was five minutes.

    "UGH!!!" She let out a scream.

    Kayla stormed up the concrete steps to her school and back into her class room. Her eyes flittered angrily around the room and then stopped on the wall clock.

    She decided she was going to take her frustration out on the clock, and reached up to grabbed it.

    It came off without a fight, and Kayla flipped it over on its front to yank out the wires. she began to reach for the socket but then froze in her tracks. On the back of the clock it read Time Freezer

    Below the words was a red button. She pushed it without any hesitation and immediately people started moving again. The whole class stared at kayla with the clock in her hands.

    "Ms. Spellman, what are you doing?" asked her teacher.

    Kayla's face flushed a deep shade of crimson red.

    "Um... nothing. Sorry"
    Her teacher glared at her angrily as she put the clock back up on the wall. She could feel everyone's eyes following her curiously as she made her way back to her desk.

    She heard one of the kids murmur "freak" as she walked down the aisle of desks back to her seat.

    "Good thing there's only four minutes left of class" she muttered to herself.
    Now, it seemed like nothing.
  7. Gannon

    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    JudeLaurenzo - Time Freeze

    ''So whats your tale?''

    ''I bear none, I'm just your typical drunk'', replied the older man with a grave look etched across his aquiline features as he gazed solemnly upon the glimmer of sunlight illuminating his prison cell,
    through narrow grime-stained window bars.

    ''Don't you lie through your teeth like that, this ain't a spa retreat brother, its the freaking Davidson penitentiary, you know what that means?''

    ''That we're screwed?''

    ''No doubt about it, but I guess we deserve it brother.'' The younger lad rued in a
    shaky tone, visibly inflicted by shame and torment that had sorely plagued his mind.

    ''Do we?''

    ''Well, at least that's exactly what good old lady justice thinks''

    As the pair were engaged in their sordid dialogue, a third inmate sat by a corner of the cold forsaken cell, mumbling incoherently as he rocked his body back and forth in restless cadence.

    ''Look at that fella, he gunned down his own biological daughter just cause she was seeing
    some guy, against his wishes. He's name's Clancy, he had been convicted the same day as I.''

    ''What a miserable man'', the grizzled man grimaced in disapproval.

    ''Well, we all got problems.Anyway, since you've just joined us, you do know we're gonna be here for a long long time
    so its best we get ourselves properly acquainted.'' The younger man smiled as he reached out his tanned sinewy hand as an offering for a friendly handshake.

    ''Henry Goldford'', replied the older man in a feeble voice as he shook the other's hand in his.

    ''Jacob Niren, pleased to know you brother.''

    A stout cop balked upon the gates of the rigid cell as he read out in a loud
    monotonous voice from a note he had unfurled from the depths of his trouser pocket.

    ''Jacob Niren, you have a visitor. I'll need to escort you to sector 35, come on out.''

    ''Who is it?'', Niren postulated in eager anticipation as his eyes widened with hope.

    ''Just follow me, you'll find out soon enough.'' The officer replied apathetically,akin to a
    lifeless automaton of justice.

    He unlocked the cell with a rusted key hinged upon the key ring he had clasped firmly in his right palm while he placed his left hand upon the edges of his holstered revolver, probably a defensive stance measure against the notorious Davidson prisoners, who were infamous for their bold gratuitous assaults on patrolling law enforcers.

    ''The two of you stay put if you don't wanna get hurt.'' Cautioned the police man.

    ''Henry, I'll be right back once I check this visit out, in the mean time, you should open up to Clancy or something, you two might have something in common, you never know.'' said Niren in a friendly banter, with a crooked smile meandering across his bronze face.

    Firmly cuffed and escorted, Niren left the cell, leaving Henry alone with his eccentric company, in the form of a twisted-looking Clancy Tan who was still rambling away
    like a raving lunatic in his little dank corner.


    There was no response from his catatonic counterpart.

    ''Well, I did try'' said Henry with a brief sigh as he shifted his focus towards the endless corridor that led down towards a rigid hallway up till the reception area in the edifice of a prison.

    There was not a single soul in sight,Al Catrez had way better turn up rates at its status quo with incited tourists and the likes.

    ''It wasn't my fault.''

    ''Huh? what?''

    ''I said It wasn't my fault that I shot my baby girl.''

    ''But I heard you gunn...''

    ''NO I DID NOT!'', Clancy was incensed by Henry's insinuation, cutting him short of his statement as he sprang towards him like a savage beast.

    Though he wore the scars of time, Henry was as nimble as anyone half his age.With a quick counter, he tripped his aggressor with the momentum of his own strike.

    ''What were you thinking boy? ...I was merely reiterating what i heard from the lips of
    Niren. Calm down, I ain't your enemy. You're lucky none of the cops saw what you did.''

    The pair dusted themselves from their momentous melee. Clancy had broken his idle ramblings and was seemingly replenished with common sense by the little outrage.

    ''Don't be a credulous fool. You need to go further than the superficial, you get it?''

    ''I don't even know what credulous means...but i think you're telling me that there's more to your case then meets the eye.''

    ''Certainly. You see, My daughter was viciously raped by the man who lusted after her flesh. I witnessed it with my own very eyes. The filth...the crime..all laid in front of me as I returned home from work one cursed day.''

    ''Gosh, it happened within your very house?''

    ''YES..imagine your own flesh and blood violated within the very place she called home. I was still mending the pieces as her mum died weeks ago from a terrible car crash. Do you understand how hard it is for ME to take these consecutive blows?''

    The Chinese man was in a wreck as he recounted his heart-wrenching tale with a single tear strolling down his cheek.

    ''Yeah, car crashes can be really traumatizing.''

    Henry remarked as he recalled his own disreputable tale of drink-driving, which had landed him in this very incarceration.

    ''My daughter...told me to shoot her. She felt unclean. I hurried to take the desert eagle from my bedside drawer, originally intent on
    dropping the rogue who had deflowered my little girl but...but...as I took aim at the fleeing scoundrel...my baby..she swerved the trigger towards herself...she took the shot for him!''

    Clancy sobbed while his face grew red in ire. He started punching the walls behind him as he cursed in a Chinese dialect.

    Finally, after wearing out the rage that had possessed him, he crouched and spoke in a hoarse voice, ''But I'm a Buddhist and I strongly believe in karma. I thank the heavens that my daughter wasn't killed...though she is now paralyzed waist down.''

    ''I'm so sorry to hear.''

    A dull shuffling of feet were heard as the police guard returned with the pinioned Niren, who bore a distant look of dismal.

    '' Gentlemen, its time to make peace.''

    The policeman proclaimed as he unchained the shackles binding Niren's hands

    ''Clancy..It was your daughter..she forgave me..I..I..I'm speechless.''

    Niren broke down along with Clancy as old Henry went a gaped with horror- the two were mortal enemies converged into the same cell!

    ''I taught her well, my baby...I'm so so proud of her..''

    ''Now now, I guess you understand the whole idea of this dreaded place. The Davidson division of the prison force is a clandestine junction.Few people ever hear of its existence. Convicts that are somehow related, are thrown into the same cell and monitored closely by our staff and hidden cameras.

    The guard expounded enthusiastically as he peeked through the cell gate which was slightly ajar.

    ''The idea is simple, we wanted to test the strengths of forgiveness. Some individuals however, were intensely displeased by such a set-up and have reportedly attacked the force. Know that...we are actually helping you, so do not make things harder than they already are.''

    ''Wait a minute..'', Henry interrupted impatiently as his eyes darted towards the cop in furor.

    ''How am I related to any of these men?''

    The policeman snarled, ''I'm sure you recall your little joy ride?''

    ''What about it?''

    ''Well you were the reckless one who knocked down the wife of Clancy Tan.''

    ''Now that all has been revealed, we will be doubling the surveillance.Don't do anything you'll regret. If there is progressive harmony, your sentences shall be shortened..if not, well..you'll be here for many many years.''

    The officer slammed the gate and locked the keyhole with a click and marched pompously into the nearby shades that encompassed the prison cell.

    There, the three man languished steadily in confinement as though time itself had frozen over while they shared the den of the enemy, awaiting danger at every corner.
  8. Gannon

    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    Chudz - Time Step

    Stepping out from the flow of time is not as hard as it sounds—for me at least. It's just a mental wink, a quick-firing between synapses, and voilà, the world becomes a still life. Or more appropriately in this case, a deadly tableau.

    The centerpiece of this scene is suspended in the raindrop laden air less than a yard from my face. Garish light from a nearby sign lends the bullet an eerie luster that easily catches the eye. And twenty paces beyond that, on the edge of darkness, is my would-be assassin. The droplets of water hanging in the air obscure him somewhat, but he doesn't look familiar.

    This alley was full of sounds a few moments ago: the drumming of rain, muffled rock music from the bar I just left, traffic gliding over wet pavement at the alley's mouth, and the crack of a gunshot. Now it's cloaked in the same layer of silence that's always there when I Step, yet I've never grown used to it. In fact, the very stillness makes the air seem colder somehow.

    I begin walking forward, ducking under the bullet when I reach it. The suspended rain soaks the front of my clothing as I go, enhancing the chill, and leaving a man-shaped tunnel of clear air in my wake.

    My assailant is wearing a gray rain poncho, dotted with beads of moisture. The dark brim of a ball cap peeks out from under the hood, leaving his eyes in shadow. But I can see that the lower portion of his face is contorted in a grimace. His outstretched right arm ends in a tattooed fist, clenching a matte-black revolver. Patches of rust on the barrel and cylinder tell me that it's seen better days. This guy's definitely not a professional, which leaves me wondering who the hell sent him. But I don't have long to ponder the situation, I need to decide on a course of action, and soon.

    The longest I've ever Stepped out of time for is twelve minutes and forty-two seconds. It involved getting people off a small tour bus that was about to crash through a guardrail lining the edge of a three-hundred foot escarpment. When time kicked in, the passengers and driver were all stunned to see the bus they were just on disappearing over the cliff without them. However, none of them were aware of how they'd gotten off, or why I'd gone into a coma that would last for two weeks.

    I played dumb when I woke, telling the doctors and authorities that I didn't remember a thing. But I did remember, especially the part about Stepping having increasing consequences the longer I'm out of synch. So now, I try to stay under five minutes, which usually just leaves me a little tired and headachey.

    Moving to a position beside my assailant, I reach into my rain-dampened bridge coat and remove Millie—a Glock 21 pistol—from her hand tooled, leather shoulder holster. She's lovingly named after a particularly lethal ex-girlfriend, who excels at holding a grudge. Racking the slide to chamber a round, I raise her up to point at my would-be killer's head and slip back into time.

    The first thing I notice is the fatigue that settles over my shoulders like a heavy cloak, accompanied by a dull ache between my temples. Then it's like starting a movie that's been paused. Sounds swirl around me. Droplets of cold water splash against the exposed flesh of my hands while others trace cool lines down my neck, seeking shelter under my collar. The unpleasant smell of the alley returns, muted by the cleansing downpour. And the bullet meant for me zips across the road at the mouth of the alley, barely missing a bread truck, and pockmarks the brick facade of the building across the way. Then there's the startled gasp from my assailant as he realizes I'm no longer where I was a moment ago.

    “Hello, friend,” I say, loud enough to be heard over the downpour. He flinches, spinning around until he sees Millie. Then he halts, the old revolver forgotten in his hand. Funny thing, I think, the real Millie has the same effect on men at times, freezing them in their tracks.

    I'm about to ask him just what the hell's going on when his head disappears in a cloud of reddish-mist. The round that ended his life then punches through a dumpster further along the alley, accompanied by sounds of rupturing metal. His revolver slips from nerveless fingers, landing with a clatter, as what's left of him slumps to the dirty pavement.

    Instinct kicks in and I Step. The fatigue that I'm experiencing blossoms, and the dull ache in my head begins to seethe with a life of its own. Stepping twice in rapid succession is also a no-no, and it's only going to get worse when I return.

    I sprint down the alley driven by a primal need to escape. Meanwhile, my rational mind—what's left of it at least—wonders if the sniper is working alone or with a team. Scenarios whirl through my throbbing skull as I reach the mouth of the alley and turn right onto the rain-soaked sidewalk.

    Dodging the few pedestrians that are out at this hour, I nearly stumble as I take the steps leading to the subway two at a time. Then I'm past the turnstiles and descending a motionless escalator. The only obstacle here is a pair of twenty-somethings locked in a passionate kiss. Slowing, I ease my way past. And when time resumes, I bet their kiss will be interrupted in startling fashion as they search for the phantom that brushed against them.

    Finally, I arrive at a desolate platform. A few lost souls are loitering here, waiting for the next train in differing states of oblivion. A quick check of the schedule on the wall shows the next one will be here at 2:15AM, just ten minutes away. A little over six according to my watch.

    My gaze sweeps the area, looking for a good spot to slip back into time. A bathroom wouldn't be a bad idea, but those are one level up and I'm not sure if I'd be able to catch the train or not. Then my eye lights on some yellow construction barriers at one end of the platform; they're backed by floor to ceiling sheets of black plastic, probably to help cut down on the noise and dust for commuters. Hurrying over, I hop the gate and push through the plastic and into the darkness beyond. At least they're not working around the clock on this one, I think.

    With an inner cringe at what's coming, I holster Millie and slip back into the timestream. A wave of exhaustion washes over me, and I collapse. My hands and knees bark in pain as they slam onto the concrete floor, stirring up dust. Meanwhile, agony ties itself in brightly colored knots behind my eyes. I should have come back sooner, I realize. Then my mind slips into a cool blackness, leaving the world behind.

    When I finally swim back to consciousness, I realize I'm laying on the ground with dust tingling the inside of my nose. My limbs are numb with exhaustion, but the agony in my head has dulled to a glowing memory of what it was. Something is nudging me and there's more sound than I remember.

    “Hey, mac. Get up. You can't sleep here,” someone says.

    I pry open my eyes and the first thing I notice is bright light. Once my irises adjust, I focus on a scuffed work boot, as the gravelly voice attached to it repeats what it just said about my not sleeping here. Rising unsteadily to my feet, I see a man in his mid-forties, dressed in a dusty flannel and well worn jeans. His hardhat and orange safety vest tip me off that he's a workman. I apologize and begin dusting myself off.

    “Ah, don't worry 'bout it. Least you ain't one of them bums that come in here to sleep and puke all over the place. What happened?”

    “What happened,” is a very good question. I check my watch and it reads five-thirty in the morning. I gather my wits, and the lie comes easy. “Girlfriend and I broke up, last thing I remember is stumbling out of a bar. I don't even remember which one.”

    He shakes his head in a sympathetic manner. “Sorry ta hear that, pal. Just be glad she wasn't your wife.” He pauses to interject a wry grin. “Now get out of here before my supervisor shows up or he'll report ya.”

    I thank the man profusely and head out to the subway platform, where the number of early morning commuters is starting to build. I rate a few curious glances from those around me as we all wait for the train to arrive. But I pay them no heed, I have more important things on my mind, like who killed my would-be assassin for one. And as the train comes to a squealing halt a few minutes later, I wonder if I'll ever find out.
  9. Gannon

    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    Manav - Un-Freeze

    ‘Freeze!’ My cousin Uma would say.

    I always obliged and stood like a statue in whatever position I was in at that moment. She would then try to torture my motionless, defenseless body. She tickled me, messed up my hair, drew mustache on my face, and on many occasions even pulled my pajamas down. As I endured her torment, she giggled and laughed.

    ‘Un-freeze!’ She shouted, signaling that I was no longer her prisoner. She ran outside anticipating revenge.

    I chased her in the front lawn, around the mango tree where we had curved our names, and in the backyard. I caught her and tickled her until she begged me to stop. And then we lay on the grass holding hands, breathless, looking at the pristine blue sky.

    It was a game she picked up at school, and she played this game only with me, like every other game and toys we shared and played together. My toy cars and trucks and I, as the chauffeur, were always at the service of her Barbie Doll, Sicilia. As a mark of appreciation my G.I.Joes were always cordially invited to Sicilia’s weddings, which took place quite often.

    We spend numerous afternoons drinking imaginary tea from her miniature china, with Sicilia and J.I.Joes for company. On one such occasion Dev saw us. Dev, my neighbour and classmate, quickly spread words of my fling with dolls in school, and I soon earned the nickname “Barbie-boy” in my fifth grade class. They followed me everywhere chanting my nickname. I fought them to prove that I was not a sissy, and came home with bruises and cuts, angry. Uma would come running into my room, flashed a smile and say, “Come, Sicilia is having a party.” I always obliged. I had never said no to her since the day I met her, the day Dad brought her home a year before.

    ‘Uma will be staying with us for a few days,’ Dad had solemnly announced on a cold November night.

    She stood on the doorway with big frightened eyes. Among her curly hair I could see a Band-Aid just above her forehead, and a few more on her arms and legs. I remember wanting to remove the Band-Aids, as I always do when Mom applied them on my injuries. Dad didn’t tell me or her that there had been a terrible accident a day ago involving all of Uma’s family members in a car crash, and that she was the lone survivor. I didn’t protest when they let her sleep on my bed forcing me out of my room that night, or the next day when Dad asked me to let her play with Mr. Teddy Bear. I had never said no to her. She seemed so fragile, one ‘no’ and I was sure she would break into pieces.

    ‘Where is my mommy?’ She asked, and those were the only words she spoke for several days. Her stay at our house extended from days to weeks, then months, and slowly the questions of her mommy’s whereabouts become lesser and faint. And when she did ask it was no longer a question, but just a half-wish. She stopped asking a few months later, but whenever Mom raised her voice to us kids, I could see her asking the question silently in her deep black eyes.


    High School came and my G.I.Joes and her Barbie Dolls were packed in cartoon boxes and forgotten. I bought a guitar and she told me I played well. We sang every evening in the balcony until Mom called us in for dinner. I gave up football practice to sing tuneless imitations of famous songs with her. She laughed and it made me happy. She cradled the guitar on her lap, my hands on her soft hands, pressing the strings, moving up and down in sync, playing a tune. I still remember her jasmine scented hair and the sparkle in her eyes.

    Our rendezvous on the balcony was an everyday affair until she started going out afterschool. One day she had to visit the library, some days later her girlfriend needed her, and then there were the visits to malls to buy something. Those were all excuses I knew. We never sung together again; other boys became her playmates, her games, her songs. She flirted inside the school bus, at the canteen, and inside the class. She no longer sat with me in the bus or in the class. Most of my friends had a story to tell about their conquests of her. Many times I saw senior boys dropping her off at some distance away from my parents’ view. Our duets soon became solos sung in her wait. That we lived under the same roof became the only assurance that she could be mine. That she came knocking at my room to get her homework done became my only hope. That she still needs me.

    Uma always asked me to ask Mom for permission to go out at night.

    ‘So, you two are going together?’

    ‘Yes .’

    ‘Okay. Be sure to be back by ten.’

    We would go out together from the house and a little further down the block Uma would start changing into another outfit inside the car. She painted her lips, got rid of her ponytail, and wore her hair down. She looked like a college girl and she was beautiful.

    ‘I have this girl thing at Lisa’s. You can drop me there.’ She applied mascara on her eyes. ‘And I’m gonna be late tonight.’

    She just assumed that I would hang out with some of my friends, but I preferred to sit in the park, thinking what Uma would be doing, with other boys. I would sit for hours alone and go back home.

    ‘Are you back?’ Mom would shout from her room.


    ‘Uma too?’

    ‘Yes, Uma too,’ I would lie.

    I would then go to Uma’s room and make sure that the window was open. I lay on my bed sleepless until I heard her climb up the latch and through the window in the next room. It was always the same routine.

    One night she climbed up to my window instead and knocked. She gestured at me to come out. We sat leaning our backs on the garage door, her head resting on my shoulder. She smelt of alcohol and perfume, a bitter-sweet concoction of a lost little girl. She told me about the wild night she had had, and the boys she met at the party. Anger built inside me and I tried to get up freeing my arms from her hands. ‘Freeze!’ she said and kissed me.

    Mom got a call from the school. I was also there in the principal’s office. Mom and Uma sat opposite a visibly furious Mr. D’Souza.

    ‘Uma, do you have anything to say?’


    ‘So, do you admit these illegal drugs are yours?’

    Uma nodded matter-of-factly.

    ‘Yes or No?’


    ‘In that case we have to expel you from the school.’

    ‘Please Mr. D’Souza, please reconsider. She will never do this again.’ Mom was in tears.

    ‘I am sorry, but we can’t go against the rule. We can’t tolerate such a blatant indiscipline in my school. You have to understand.’

    We drove home silently. Mom’s face was red with shame, rage and frustration. Uma looked out of the window unconcern. I resisted the urge to hold her hands as we sat at the opposite ends of the backseat. It took forever to reach home. Inside the house Mom poured herself a glass of water and made Uma sit on the couch.

    ‘What have I done to deserve this, huh? Why?’ Mom asked in exasperation.

    Uma glued her eyes at the centerpiece on the table. Her silence made Mom calm down a little.

    ‘Okay. What happened happened. We will find a new school. But you have to promise—‘

    ‘Don’t try to be my mom. You are not my mom!’ Uma ran into her room and slammed the door. We could hear her weeping for the first time. She hadn’t cried when she found out what had happened to her family and she hadn’t cried when my dad died.


    On her eighteenth birthday, I bought a bottle of wine and cooked dinner. I set up a table in the balcony and placed an extra chair to sit the guitar. I hummed songs that we had sung together as I cooked her favourite chicken curry. There was hope in the air to revive our songs and write our own verse. But she didn’t come home that night, or the next. I lay at night expecting her to burst in through the door. Sometimes I heard footsteps in her room, but when I checked the room was dark and empty. I rarely went out of my room for several days. Mom came in with a tray of food. She told me to eat something and told me that it was best for Uma and us to let her go. I screamed at her for not caring enough for Uma even though I knew it wasn’t true. Uma never came back again.

    I was adjusting the guitar strings when Uma finally called, a few weeks after her disappearance. She told me she was alright. Now that she was of legal age she could use the bank account my dad had opened in her name with her parents’ money. She assured me she had some friends who were helping her. She asked if we had contacted the police. We decided to wait a few weeks more before we go to the police. She sounded distant and paused frequently as if she had nothing else to say.

    ‘How are you?’ She asked eventually.

    ‘Mom is really worried. You should come and meet her once,’ I told her.

    ‘Don’t worry about me.’

    ‘Can you give me a number where I-we can reach you?’ I mustered up the courage to ask.

    I could hear her taking deep breaths. She didn’t speak for a long time.

    ‘I can’t give you my number,’ she said, and the line went dead.

    I couldn’t bear it anymore. I tore up the strings and broke the guitar into pieces. I swore to myself to forget her, but the phone rang again and I ran in desperate hope that it was Uma. I was sure she was calling me back to give her number. It was just Mom telling me she would be late.

    Today, two months after her phone call, another call came from the coroner’s office to inform us about Ms. Uma Dasgupta, who was found death in an alley in South Delhi. She was raped and stabbed multiple times. They also found a small pouch of crack in her handbag along with a package addressed to me. Inside the package was a book of guitar chords of popular songs.

    I sit beside her and memories flood my thoughts, memories of her life, our lives, which now lay frozen in the coroner’s table. I hold her hand and it is cold. She is now the motionless, defenseless statue, tired of torturing me, waiting to bear any punishment. All I manage to whisper in her ears is—“un-freeze”.
  10. Gannon

    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    nastyjman - Alarm Clock

    Jeffrey entered the thrift shop with a crumpled alarm clock between his arm. He scanned the place, noticing rusty chairs, crumbling novels, misshapen electronics and abandoned toys. The junk was arranged in disarray, turning the shop into a labyrinthine maze. Inside the maze was a pungent white smoke, streaming from incense hidden from view. Jeffrey struggled to identify the smell; close he got was moldy bread sprinkled with burnt plastic. He stepped inside mindful of the precarious aisles.

    On the other side of the room was a glass counter, showcasing ornaments and trinkets. Behind the counter was a door frame missing its door. The room was dark except for the gray beam streaking across one side to the other. The gray beam turned to red, then green and then purple. Jeffrey walked towards the counter slowly, hearing faint laughter, sobs and screams.

    "Hello?" Jeffrey harked. The beam vanished, so did the sound. A head slid out slowly from the door frame; it was a balding Chinese man wrinkled from time. His eyes were squinted and his lips stretched to their sides. He withdrew himself back inside, sinking away from Jeffrey's vision.

    "Excuse me," said Jeffrey in a patient and respectful tone.

    "Yeahs, yeahs, yeahs," the old man said, "I geht glasses – hold on sec."

    The old man emerged from his cove with his glasses framed in gold wiring. The lenses were bottle thick, and the frames looked like genuine gold. Jeffrey wondered how his withering head could carry such a load. The old man took his time to place himself behind the counter. He shuffled his feet lazily, intentionally. Jeffrey didn't mind; he was still fixated on those lenses. Finally, the old man reached his spot and looked up to Jeffrey with a stone-cold stare.

    "What you need?" drawled the old man.

    The old man's iris engulfed most of his lens, barely showing any sclera. Jeffrey felt the side of his lips tug sideways. He immediately turned his head down, hiding his forming grin. His eyes fell on a gold chain, shining with fake. He shifted his eyes away from the chain to his alarm clock.

    "Yes," stuttered Jeffrey, "I need an alarm clock."

    "Why you buy in thrift shop?" asked the old man dryly. Jeffrey forced his smile down and thought of terrible, sad things to reduce it. Feeling his cheeks relax, Jeffrey looked up with a flat expression.

    "Well," said Jeffrey, "this is my sixth alarm clock this last two months and – quite frankly – I can't afford a new one." Jeffrey knew that was a lie. He can afford another one but he'd break it again. Waking up from a hangover wasn't pleasant, and it was damn unnerving to be wailed at by a high-pitched drone. Their fate ranged from being crumpled, crushed, halved, obliterated and drowned. If he woke up early and tapped the buttons lightly, then he wouldn't be here in the first place. He should also stop blaming his alarm clock for being late at work – which happened every other day.

    The old man stared at him with those frames. Jeffrey gave in and raised a grin. The old man cocked his head forward, pointing inside the maze.

    "Follow me pleashe."

    The old man walked towards the pile of electronics with TVs serving as their base. On top of these were stereos, cassette players, VHS decks and... alarm clocks! The old man scanned the pile; he raised one finger to his lips like a mathematician vexed by a mind-melting formula. Jeffrey rolled his eyes and began to hop impatiently. The old man stopped his scan and froze for a second. He immediately grabbed something that caught his eyes which Jeffrey had missed. Between his hands was a white alarm clock with two speakers on its side. Between the speakers was a LED display. Below this were five buttons: time, alarm, hour, minute and on/off. At the top of the box were two buttons, labeled in black marker; "SNOOZE" and "FREEZE."

    "Freeze?" Jeffrey asked with a brow raised. The old man's expression laxed - his lips becoming loose, revealing a genuine smile.

    "Ah yeahs," the old man squawked, "Funny man donate. First button 10 minute snooze. Second button 20 minute snooze. Funny man. Freeze." The old man chuckled, getting the joke a bit late.

    "How much?" Jeffrey asked with a hint of doubt.

    "Five dollahs," the old man grinned. Jeffrey didn't trust that smile. Five dollars was slightly reasonable. Five dollars would get him a new alarm clock that would only see one light of day. Jeffrey extended his free arm towards the vandalized clock. The old man handed the white box to Jeffrey and took Jeffrey's crumpled one. Jeffrey examined every surface, every crevice and every button. He attempted to check the speakers behind the circular grating, only to discover that it was impossible to get a proper evaluation. Everything seemed fine, except for the black marker that tarnished the whole design. But it didn't bother Jeffrey; the "FREEZE" button amused him.


    Jeffrey snored and snored some more. He still had his work clothes on and his muddy shoes wreaked havoc on his bedsheet. Drool formed on his pillow stained with patches of dried spit. His left hand slept on top of the alarm clock which was ready to tap the snooze buttons. The floor was decorated with twice-used clothing, week-old potato chips and half-empty beer cans. Next to his bed was an aquarium with four goldfish. In it was a ceramic scuba-diver accompanied by a lifeless alarm clock on the pebble floor.

    The sun's rays invaded Jeffrey's room. The cavalry was slowed down by the half-open blinds. The beams scattered about as it hit Jeffrey's mirror, hanging from a wall, facing his bed. The rays assaulted his eyes, wrestling him out of sleep. Jeffrey sat up from his bed still groggy from last night's binge. He turned his attention to his alarm clock. Without thought or reaction, Jeffrey jumped out from his bed.

    "SHH***H*******T**T!!!" Jeffrey screamed as he ran to the bathroom. The alarm clock blinked 10:00.

    He reached for the HOT and COLD knobs protruding from the tiled wall. Above these was a single showerhead blotched with rust. He turned COLD half-way and HOT by a quarter. He looked at the showerhead anticipating, waiting for rain to burst through.

    "F**K!!!" shouted Jeffrey; it doesn't take this long for water to come out. He turned to the faucet and turned the knobs the same way. Nothing. Jeffrey slammed his palms on the marble sink while holding his simmering profanity at bay. What escaped, however, was a streaming hiss between his teeth.

    Jeffrey snapped himself back and turned to the mirror above the sink. One side of his hair curled up, waving a hello. He licked his palms and forced the curl down with them. After a couple of strokes, the cowlick was mildly noticeable. He opened his lips to expose his teeth - everything seemed fine. He cupped one hand to his nose and mouth and took a quick sniff of his breath – it smelled of vinegar mixed with spaghetti sauce. Then he remembered barfing his beef out on the street. Mildly offended, Jeffrey brushed it off then decided a mint should do it.

    After checking the vital points of hygiene, Jeffrey returned to his bedroom and made his way to the 4-drawer dresser. He pulled up his work-shirt stained with drool, vomit and beer, and threw it behind him. From the dresser, Jeffrey pulled out his work-shirt wrinkled from the middle and creased on the edges. Stitched on the left chest was a patch depicting a computer-monitor with bulging cartoon eyes and an overdrawn smile. Setting his office on fire entered his mind as he stared into those eyes. He grinned and brushed the thought aside. Jeffrey whipped the shirt open and squeezed inside it. With a clean shirt on, Jeffrey bolted from his room.

    Jeffrey walked out from his apartment building and trod the fresh cooling sidewalk. The side of his block was always quite, and Jeffrey enjoyed his serene walks before entering the main avenue - always congested and loud. After a couple of steps, Jeffrey felt something amiss. Upon realizing what it was, Jeffrey stopped scared... it was TOO quite; the morning hymns sung by the birds were silenced, the loose dialogue from windows was muted, the cool morning veil was absent.

    "God," Jeffrey whispered to himself, "I better lay off the tequila."

    Jeffrey picked up his pace towards the avenue. As he approached it, Jeffrey stopped frozen on his tracks. His countenance was akin to a mouse cornered by a leopard. The sea of people on the sidewalk were frozen in their place; a man tripping on a jutting cement hung in the air, a child hopping towards school floated in space and a woman smoking a cigarette blew stock-still smoke. His mouth was agape as he walked and waved through the crowd. He dared himself to poke a pedestrian, testing if they would fall like hollow mannequins. Jeffrey tapped a man next to him. The man moved but immediately stopped as soon as Jeffrey retracted his finger. In the first minute he didn't understand, but something smacked him inside his head, pointing at the alarm clock marked "FREEZE." Jeffrey turned back towards the way he came with his jaw hanging in disbelief.


    Jeffrey entered his room and saw his shirt frozen in mid-air. Jeffrey approached the alarm clock cautiously - still blinking 10:00. He hovered his hand over the "FREEZE" button and debated whether to tap it or not. Would things go back to normal – or turn to worse? Jeffrey shook off the fruitless skepticism and slammed his hand down the "FREEZE" button. The aquarium began to boil; bubbles floated up the surface from the scubadiver below. The four goldfish returned to life, swimming aimlessly towards their reflections. Jeffrey didn't hesitate this time; he saw himself tap the "FREEZE" button again. The scubadiver stopped as if his oxygen-tank ran empty. The fishes froze in their place like angels in the sky, posing as art subjects for class. TAP! The aquarium rumbled and the four goldfish resumed their musical chairs.

    Jeffrey sat down on his bed with something heavy in his mind. The idea grew, frothing then escalating to a thundering boil. Wishes and dreams that he had once fancied as a child climbed into his mind. When the children – epitomized by little Jeffreys between ages 5 and 15 – overwhelmed his plane of thought, Jeffrey stood up slowly like a missile ready to launch. One Jeffrey screamed "all the Ice Cream you can eat!" Another suggested "rob the candy store of gumdrops and bubblegum." The next Jeffrey commanded "who needs sweets when you can peek at girls easily?" One after the other, the little Jeffrey's clamored for attention. Jeffrey grinned a devilish smile, immediately silencing the little Jeffrey's inside his head – they too grinned.

    The corner-store was empty - save for the merchandise, the cashier and the old man with his Scratch-N-Win. Jeffrey waltzed in with a huge open smile and waved an arching "Hello" to the frozen cashier. He walked through the short aisle walled with cornflakes, canned goods and chips. At the end of the aisle were refrigerators aligned against the wall. Their doors were half-inch glass framed in rusty metal; you could barely see what's inside because of the frost accumulated on its surface. He walked along the cold aisle, looking for that sweet thing he had craved. He stopped in front of the ice cream section but continued on, ignoring his first childhood wish. Else, he grabbed and opened the door next to the ice cream section. The cold air hung inside, veiling the treasure he had sought – ice-cold beer. He took six. No. Twelve. Nope. Twenty-Four? Not even close...

    Jeffrey left the corner-store with a shopping cart stocked with beer. He paused to open up a can and tilted it upside-down to his mouth. The sweet barley malt didn't come however. He peered inside and saw the brew frozen like Jell-O. He tilted it back again and used his free hand to tap out the remains. No luck. He was near crushing the can, forcing the liquid out from its shell and into his mouth. But he held his anger. Instead, he walked back inside the store and came out with a handful of straws. He placed them on the cart and kept one for himself. At last, he can finally enjoy his beer. He dipped the black straw inside the can and sipped the sweet nectar made for the Gods. And brother was it divine!

    Jeffrey waved through the people while pushing the cart. He made sure to dodge the frozen passersby. Occasionally, he would nudge someone, tilting them aside like towers made of wet clay. He stopped short in front of the candy shop. The second child inside him rose in anticipation but was immediately shot down; Jeffrey moved to the next building – a bank. He parked the cart right in front and went inside. After 30 minutes – in Frozen Standard Time – Jeffrey emerged from the bank with two trash bags filled with cash. Who needs candy when you got cash? He laid the bags inside the cart and rolled on. His face was so perked up anyone can get diabetes just by looking at him. And the sweet part was this... no one was looking. No one will ever know.

    Jeffrey headed back to his apartment. He decided to unload his treasures there and resume the day as it should have gone. Work didn't matter anymore. Each bag must contain half a million at least, and the beers should last him for a month. But he was stopped on his track. Along his way was a tall, slim and busty devotchka with puckers the size of soft taffy. She wore a white dress that stopped three inches away from her waist. Immediately, Jeffrey's loins poked a command, a command he wanted to resist but couldn't. It was everything that he had dreamt of since he was 13. There were flings and hook-ups under his belt, but all the girls he had banged were sixes or sevens in a scale of one-to-ten. The woman in front of him was an 11, off the Richter scale.

    Everyone in their right mind would call it rape, but Jeffrey called it opportunity. "She will never feel it," whispered Jeffrey, "she will never know. No one will know." Jeffrey approached the woman and began to undress her...

    ...after coming multiple times, Jeffrey placed everything back in place; the lady's panties, her bra, her necklace and, finally, her dress. He rearranged her body like a marionette, struggling to position her correctly before he had defiled her. Jeffrey gave up and left her in a position not of the original. Jeffrey immediately pulled his boxers and jeans up and fastened his belt. He took a last look. Her expression was neutral and serene; Jeffrey felt guilt swelling up and lingering within. He took his cart and sprinted away. "No one will know," Jeffrey assured himself, but a hundred little Jeffreys knew – none of them were happy.

    The room was silent. Jeffrey laid his wares on top of his bed. He sat on his bed feeling the guilt escalating into a troubling haze. He looked over the alarm clock still blinking 10:00 and tapped the "FREEZE" button feebly. He stared into blank space and tried to bury the voice which sounded like his father; "YOU DID WHAT!? I DIDN'T RAISE A GOD-DAMN RAPIST!"

    He shook of the thought and turned his attention to the money bags. He caressed those bags like they were his offspring. He froze all of a sudden, queued by an undeniable detail that shocked Jeffrey's mind; the scuba-diver was out of oxygen and the fishes hung petrified. He was fixated at the aquarium while his hand reached over the alarm clock. He pressed the "FREEZE" button longer; the scuba-diver and the fishes remained frozen. He turned to the alarm clock, made sure that his finger was pressing the right button. Again and again, Jeffrey pressed the "FREEZE" button; he tapped, he pounded and he slammed. He heard his heart beat louder. He felt the beads of sweat crawling down his neck. The flashing 10:00 on the clock turned to three sixes.

    Jeffrey stood up, eyes wide from terror. He grabbed the alarm clock and pulled it out violently from its outlet. With full force, Jeffrey threw the alarm clock towards the wall. But as soon as it left his hands, the alarm clock floated in mid-air. Jeffrey grabbed it maniacally and forced it down on the floor. He stomped on it, jumped on it and even spat at it. The alarm clock – flashing sixes - remained unscathed. Without notice, the alarm clock began screaming its high-pitched drone. Jeffrey stopped and cupped his hands to his ears. It was deafening. Jeffrey was near crying. The mix of terror, guilt and hopelessness was crippling.

    Jeffrey ran out from his apartment, away from the screaming alarm clock. The infernal noise continued to blat inside his head. He emerged from his apartment stumbling and running. He didn't have a direction nor a plan. The noise was everywhere, and it numbed his will to go on. He fell to his knees and waited for something – anything! – to come. Jeffrey turned his weary head and saw "Tai Chin's Thrift Shop" next to him. Something compelled him to go inside. He stood up slowly and entered the shop. The smoke from the burning incense fogged the store; Jeffrey pushed on.

    As he passed by the aisle of TVs, a screen turned on, casting a gray beam across. Jeffrey stopped on his track and turned his attention to the grainy screen. A clicking sound popped behind Jeffrey and saw his shadow against the wall. He turned and saw another TV showing gray static. In unison, the other warped television turned on. Images began to form inside them; some showed Jeffrey stealing from the store, another showed him robbing the bank. But what was televised on most of these was him raping the lady on the street. It was pornography, but Jeffrey wasn't turned on. He closed his eyes tight, but the images remained. The disembodied drone screamed and screamed, nudging Jeffrey off the cliff of sanity.

    "Mistah Jeffreyh," said a voice, "you been very bad."

    It was the old man, emerging from the dark room, wearing a diabolical smile. Jeffrey felt it, knew it.

    "Who are you?" cried Jeffrey. Tai Chin smiled. Tai Chin laughed. Tai Chin didn't say a word. Tai Chin's eye-glasses turned a hellish red.

    The TVs turned off. The incense drifted, resuming their motion. Footsteps continued their patter outside. Zooming cars and blaring horns pulsed the streets once again. In the middle of the aisle were clothing, the ones that Jeffrey was wearing. Tai Chin approached the pile of clothes and picked them up. He heard screams as he touched the fabric. He threw the clothes over his shoulders and walked back to his room. In there was a closet that looked more like a coffin. Tai Chin took a wooden hanger and placed Jeffrey's clothes on it. Once Tai Chin opened the doors, he was greeted with a cacophony of screams, cries, pleads and curses. Tai Chin smiled as he hooked Jeffrey inside the closet, adding a new garment to his infernal wardrobe.
  11. Gannon

    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    Bodiam - Consequences (Caution: Language)

    Jake Budby leant against the wall, glancing at the exclusive jewellers shop close by, his next target. His left hand in the pocket of the casual black coat grasping a spherical device that was essential to a successful hit. Jake had been a petty criminal and prolific burglar since he was a teenager. Well known to the police, Jake has turned his hand to just about every crime short of murder. With few friends, Jake has always been a loner and struggles to communicate with women in particular. Of average height and build Jake has never been anything special, save a remarkable degree of cunning.
    Things are different now that Jake has his device, stolen from a large farm house nine months ago. Jake stole it from the unlocked safe as it looked important though he had no idea then of what it could do. He soon learned how to use it and has made good use of it since. Now Jake has a special power, and knows it.
    Jake can see into the shop and must time the hit for just before closing when they are preparing to put expensive items into locked storage. Jake sees the window display being unlocked and seizes the moment. Jake ignores a cold nervous sweat to cross the pedestrian walkway pulling the device from his coat with his left had. Reaching the jewellers shop door with his right hand he opens the door while lifting the device in his left hand to his forehead to shield his face from CCTV cameras. Making sure the door is closed, Jake takes two paces further into the shop and activates his time freezing device.
    Taking the device away from his face Jake quickly surveys the shop which he had previously studied from outside the shop window. Everything is frozen in time, completely frozen. On the right is a well dressed middle aged woman caught in the process of moving several expensive watches on a display. Jake knew little of expensive watches but moved quickly behind the smartly dressed woman and removed the black Hublot and black and gold Bvlgari watches, he knew these would make a good return. Thanking the frozen well dressed woman, Jake now moved to the other side of the shop where an older man in an expensive suit is working with a young woman who is also smartly dressed. Jake moved behind the counter but found the older man barring his way. Punching the oblivious man unnecessarily in the stomach and pushing him aside, Jake removes a number of expensive pieces of jewellery and his hit is now complete.
    Jake turns to the young woman and steps closer to her frozen features to study them for a moment. He places a hand under her blouse. “I think you and I are going to meet again.” Seeing the young woman’s bag under a chair, Jake quickly riffles through and notes the address on her driving licence, which he replaces. Moving to the shop door Jake opens it with one hand and switches the device off with the other. The older man suddenly collapses to the ground coughing and groaning. The others panic fearing another heart attack. No one notices the door close.
    Detective Inspector Tenby is a tall strongly built man who has an energy that contrasts with his sallow face, possibly the result of many years heavy smoking. Tenby sits at his desk looking at the Jewellers shop CCTV footage for the fifth time and pauses the image of a man with his hand high over his face just before the recording becomes white static for 2 minutes and 17 seconds. In the man’s hand is a metallic object. It’s the second time he has seen the object and the third case he has been given recently which are almost identical. Two are jeweller’s shops the other is an antique shop specialising in gold and silver items. Inside help is suspected in all three cases, but Tenby speculates on the odds for one thief having intimate inside contacts for three seemingly unrelated burglaries. Still, it’s difficult to see how else it can be done and he will only know the answer to that when he brings in his suspect.
    Tenby bellows across the room, “Is Lewis back from town yet?” “He’s on his way back” says a voice vaguely. Tenby rises from his chair and collects his cigarettes, “I want to see him straight away,” and goes outside for his seventh or eighth fag break of the day. “Well Lewis, have you got anything interesting for me?” “Yes, I think we have a good image of our suspect, it’ll just take a few moments to upload the images?” As soon as DI Tenby had looked at the images of his suspect for a few minutes he leans back on his black office chair, smiled and said “that’ll do nicely.”
    Barely noticing the nameplate for Chief Superintendant Beresford, Tenby knocks and pauses before walking in. “Come in John, I hope you’ve got good news for me” said Beresford looking at Tendy over his half rim glasses. “Yes sir! I’d like you to take a look at this regarding the jeweller’s shop burglary.” He hands a printed image of his suspect. “A good full face image taken from an HD CCTV system. Appears he was observing the jewellers shop in the reflected glass and didn’t realise how close he was to the CCTV camera.” “Good Work John. What do you intend to do now?” “I want to put the image on ‘Crimestoppers’ as soon as possible and get the case onto regional news.” “Excellent, let me know of any names that come up as I want to be kept in the loop on this one John.” “Yes sir.”
    Tenby was given a slot to be broadcast on the local news 5 days later and put his team to re-checking the facts on the case. He decided not to mention that no obvious sign of forced entry is known, that nobody saw anything and no alarms had been tripped. He would keep to the need to apprehend the suspect for questioning in regard to the one burglary for which he had a good image. Tenby surmised that once in custody all will be revealed. Tenby was sure that there were other incidents and had his team interrogate the police PND and PNC databases for similar cases. Nothing has come up so far although details of some quite strange cases were being exchanged between members of the team, including the case of a wife accusing a husband of rape even though she cannot remember the incident and he claims to have been asleep at the time.
    Tenby recorded the interview two days before the broadcast’s transmission slot and was sure that he would be able to put a name to his suspect. Tenby arranged for his team to be working in the hours following the broadcast and sat with them to watch the broadcast. “Settle down” Tenby bellowed as a chorus of shouts and cheers rose around the open plan office when Tenby first appeared on the regional news broadcast. The news item lasted only a few minutes and the time seemed to go too quickly. The Crimestoppers free phone number and a direct number to the Incident room had been given out. Tenby was pleased to see the CCTV image of his suspect was displayed for quite a while and was sure someone must recognise him.
    A silent hush now hung over the room and the earlier tension returned. Tenby had a van and several cars at his disposal and would use the provisions of PACE to search the premises of his suspect. All they can do is to wait for that break-through call. A few minutes passes and then the phone rings; an officer answers it. A long discussion takes place. Lots of questions: name and address, friends, associates, their contacts, addresses, known haunts or hiding places and questions about how the caller knew the suspect. Meanwhile a colleague input the name given to the police databases revealing a known petty criminal with lots of form for burglary but not for high-end retailers. Not the fit Tenby was looking for. Another call a few minutes later providing a different name that is also an unlikely match to his suspect and is much too tall. Information comes to the incident room from Crimestoppers and the first name comes up again, this time the source is himself a petty thief and burglar and confides that they had previously ‘done some houses over’ together but had fallen out nine months ago. The source asked for a reward and immunity from prosecution. Tenby is called to another incoming call. The officer holds a hand across the receiver to tell the DI that the caller has named the same person and claims to be his brother but they had not spoken for years after a fall out. “Is he sure it’s him?” Tenby asks. “Oh yes, he’s absolutely certain it’s his brother.” Tenby calls the Chief Super who has decided to work late as he wanted to stay close to this case. Tenby outlines the intel received; same name three times and same address twice. Tenby slams phone down and is very annoyed. “Gather tonight’s intel and pass it to me straight away.” Tenby says to his Sergeant in a threatening tone. “The Chief Super is coming with us and wants to give the papers the once over before the go ahead to arrest our suspect and search the address.” Tenby returns after 30 minutes with the chief superintendant and clasps his hands together as he speaks “ok boys and girls, let’s go,” he orders.
    Jake had a routine of not getting out of bed till midday and there was rarely much activity after that. Today however, Jake had left his one bedroom upper floor flat in the afternoon to get tobacco, beer, snacks and Cola. Jake doesn’t cook and usually lives off takeaways and ready meals.
    Jake had ordered a pizza and sat down to watch television and eat the pizza straight from the box. Jake didn’t do any washing up until he had fully exhausted his supply of china and cutlery. Jake looked down to confirm his freshly lit roll-up was within reach of his place on the sofa. Next to the over flowing ashtray on the coffee table were several used mugs, an assortment of papers that no longer seemed important and which are now covered with bits of tobacco and brown ring marks from mugs. On its side is an empty 2 litre plastic drinks bottle next to a newly opened bottle of cola with its cap already lost amongst the debris on the floor.
    Jake intended to watch television until he had finished eating then watch a film with a few beers but he was in for a shock. Jake had eaten much of his pizza when he was struck by the images of the Jewellers shop he had burgled and his attention was suddenly focused on the early evening regional news. Feeling excited by the thought that something he had done had made the news, Jake was filled with a sense of self importance and listened intently. Then, as he watched the interview between a crime correspondent and Detective Inspector Tenby, he saw an image he recognised as his own appear on the left side of the screen while the detective described known attributes of his prime suspect. Jake’s mouth was wide open though he did not notice and for a moment Jake too was frozen as if caught by his own device. Jake started sweating profusely and his skin was cold and clammy. He felt sick and in blind panic could only utter a series of disjointed expletive’s. “**** me! How did they get that picture?” Jake stood up, his hands on his head, but quickly sat down again. Jake stood up again and started pacing around the room and with his hands glued to his head shouted “****ing hell, what am I going to do?” Then started hitting his own head. “Think! Think!” Jake was paralysed with paranoia and fear. For an hour Jake could do little more that repeatedly sit, then pace, then go to window to see if anyone is watching from the dark outside.
    Jake then remembered that he had a collection of expensive items he had not fenced, all of which would incriminate him. If confronted by the police he could activate his device, yes, that’s it! He could get away Jake reasoned. Jake Gathered a black holdall and placed in it some cloths, the unfenced items and £700 or so pounds he had in cash. Jake made furtive looks out of several windows, turned the bedroom light back on and left the flat clutching the device in his left hand.
    Jake went down the concrete stairs and out across the concrete clothes hanging area to the rear then past the row of garages towards the canal. The canal towpath was only a few minutes away and would enable him to travel miles without using roads. Moving quickly Jake was alternately speed walking then jogging in a way that would have been comical in other circumstances. Turning right past a run down car repair garage, then turned left and gave a loud expletive as two figures one in pink and the other in blue/grey rushed towards him. Jake staggered back dropping the device clutched in his left pocket as two joggers gave him a wide birth and jogged on though they kept nervously looking back at him. Jake gave out a nervous laugh, got to his feet and moved forward again then turned right as he approached the tow path to see a large dark figure raise a right arm and had enough time to see something glint then nothing!
    Eighteen minutes later Tenby and his team arrive to discover three fire crews with one attending a blaze. In only a few minutes they discover its the flat of his prime suspect and several hours later it is confirmed nobody was in the flat.
    Jake was groaning quietly as he started to come round, and was then gripped by a sudden intense pain that coursed through his head as awareness of the world around him increased. He became aware he could only move his head. “Can you hear me Mr Budby?” Jake became aware of a cultured and menacingly icy, calculated voice. “Who are you?” Jake tried to force his eyes open and was seized by more pain. He could make out three figures about six feet away. “Mr Budby, I need to ask you a few questions?” A man offers a glass of water and Jake drinks it greedily then cough’s.
    He could now focus on the three tall men; two wearing white disposable boiler suits and blue rubber gloves and in the middle, a man smartly dressed, expensively dressed. “What do you want?” Said Jake who struggled in vain against his restraint then looked down to see he had been cling filmed to a black office chair, Blood soaked on the inside of his partly bandaged head. Jake screamed in realisation and the chair started to move. Paralysed with fear, Jake started hyperventilating as a boiler suited man steps forward to Jake’s left to steady the chair.
    Now alert Jake realises he is in what must be an old wooden barn. “You need to concentrate Mr Budby and answer my questions. Who have you told about this?” The smartly dressed man holds a bright metal object up in his hands. Jake recognises his device and says, “N-n-no-one.” Jake struggles to speak through his terror. The smartly dressed man steps closer and leans forward for impact. “Who else knows about this?” “N-no one, I-I told you, no one e-else knows.” The smartly dressed man looks at the man steadying the chair then steps back. Jake looks at the man and starts to mouth wordlessly then hears a loud sound to the right and a searing pain in his right arm as the other boiler suited man fires a nail into his arm from a cordless nail gun. Jake lets out a series of short loud sounds as more cling film is wrapped on his right arm to contain any bleeding. “Mr Budby, it is going to be much easier and less painful for you if you simply tell me what I need to know.” The three men notice Jake’s black trousers are wet and urine starts to gather in a pool around the chair. “It is very important that you tell me who else knows about what you stole from me Mr Budby?” “P-please, I told you already, I t-told no one about my device. I kept it s-secret. It’s yours, keep it. I don’t want it. Please, let me go.” “You really do not know what you had, do you?” Said the smart man rhetorically. “This was never designed for thieves and opportunists like you Mr Budby. This, ‘device’ as you ignorantly call it, was designed for much more.” The smartly dressed man leans forward again. “Did you know it records all its activities? No, I did not think so,” as the smart man answers his own question. “I have seen every pillaged building and every rape you committed using this device, your every foul disgusting misdeed.” “W-what are you going to do?” “Did no one tell you? With great power comes great responsibility.” A brief pause. “You stole what was not yours to take and put everything at risk. I cannot allow that.”
    The smartly dressed man steps back and silently looks at the other two. Both close in on each side of the chair and turn it 180 degrees. In front of Jake about 20 feet away is an old thick rope with a noose about two feet off the ground. Jake screams and in terrified juddering breaths begs for his life. “It is no use” says the icily calm voice of the smartly dressed man as Jake is wheeled steadily closer to the rope. “As the quote goes Mr Budby, ‘to every action there is always opposed an equal reaction.’ For you Mr Budby, a fitting end to a miserable life.” The rope is placed over Jake’s head and the two boiler suited men step back as Jake struggles weakly. All will and strength already drained away. One of the two men steps to a metal electrical box hanging from a black rubber cable which is connected to a winch. On it is one red button and one green button. The other man leans against a wooden post and lights a cigarette, which looks odd in his blue rubber gloved hand. Jake has lost the power of speech and is mumbling as if in prayer. The green button is pressed.
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