Post-Apocalyptic Estate Agent
Jun27

Post-Apocalyptic Estate Agent

I’m dreadfully sorry for my tardiness Mr and Mrs Rags; there was a road traffic accident along the southern desert road which naturally has had a knock-on effect throughout the area… Did I get anything? Oh yes! After the Enforcers chased off the Carrion Legion – it was they who’d laid the trap; family all dead by the way, killed post-crash – I managed to fight through the scavengers and took a shoe off the father and a hub cap from one of the wheels… No, it was plastic but with a bit of a clean it might look metallish. Someone might want it. You? No? Okay then. Anyway, have you viewed any other places since we last spoke? No? So much the better for me then, ha ha! No, but seriously, there’s not a lot out there right now so it’s not surprising… Did I happen to catch where the family was from and if their dwelling is now vacant? You know, I didn’t. But look, when I get back to the office I’ll see if I can put some feelers out among the gangs and I can get back to you on that. I mean, unless we find something perfect for you today, of course! Okay, so the place I want to take you to first today is just behind this burnt-out car… You thought it might be the car? Oh, no. No, that’s not on the market to the best of my knowledge although I can always make enquiries on your behalf if you’d like… Yes, it might be out of your budget range. If something smaller with less of an intact chassis comes up though I will definitely be in touch. Where were we? Yes, here we are. Right, this is what I wanted to show you first; this is an old sewer outlet that was already out of use before The Fall of Mankind in the Time of Pain and Fire so it’s got a lot of history in it and – as you can see – it’s solidly-built. You probably only need to do a little aesthetic work on the inside and, of course, I’d recommend some form of defensive reinforcement across the entrance here… Yes, the previous occupant was a little, er, lacking in common sense in that area… An old lady, I believe, but I don’t know her name… Taken to compete in the arena… I am assured that she won’t be returning to stake a claim on the property, yes. So why don’t you take a look around? Mind your head. Rats? Yes, there will be some so no need...

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Murder At Metathesis Mansion
Apr04

Murder At Metathesis Mansion

Well, this is luxury. I’m in the back seat of a car appreciating the fine stitching on the initials “H.W.” emboridered into the leather, and I’m taking in a view of the countryside just outside the city. It’s raining, but then it’s always raining. Still, trees make a nice change from grey buildings and flickering lights even though I’m not sure I could stand it for long. “Penny for your thoughts, Mister Rake?” asks Joseph. Joseph’s my driver; not long-term, of course. I haven’t suddenly come into a fortune while I’ve been away, no. Joseph was sent to fetch me at the request of his employer who right now and for a tidy little daily retainer also happens to be my employer. “Just admiring nature, Joseph,” I tell him. “I had a potted plant once but this is quite different.” I can tell from his eyes in the rear view mirror that he’s smiling at that but he doesn’t say anything. We’ve already had a short chat on the drive out from the city so there’s not a lot else to say. Joseph’s young and friendly and has told me bits and pieces about life working up at the mansion but I figure it’s easier to not press him too hard and conduct my full investigation when I get there. And if that means the case takes a little longer, well, my wallet certainly won’t complain. * The mansion’s a little smaller and a little more rundown than I was expecting but Mrs Warmer is just the same as when she surprised me in the office five days earlier. “Joseph!” she addresses the driver in her nasally voice. “Take Mister Rake’s bag to the guest room in the west wing after you’ve parked the car. Mister Rake,” she says to me, slipping a hand around the crook of my arm, “let me give you a quick tour and then you’ll want to freshen up I have no doubt.” I hope she’s not making some comment about my suit because it’s the only one I’ve got so I just smile and nod and let her take me for a quick wander through the house. It’s your standard mansion layout with a large entrance hall and its obligatory black-and-white tiles and required-by-law impressively wide staircase. Doors to the left and right at the front of the building lead to drawing rooms and dining rooms while there’s a gentlemen’s room to the rear and the servants’ quarters along with kitchen and pantry too. Upstairs it’s bedrooms, a cloak room, and a small library with some nice views to the tree-lined drive we...

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Causal And Effects
Jan14

Causal And Effects

“Jehovah’s Witnesses?” The couple turned their heads and looked at one another, she glancing down and he staring up on account of their relevant heights. A quizzical look passed between them and they turned slowly back towards James. “Not Jehovah’s Witnesses then,” said James who prided himself on his quick uptake but mostly wanted to break the uneasy silence. “No,” said the woman, slowly and carefully, almost concentrating on how the word formed and spilled from her lips. She smiled at this apparent success and continued in a more normal fashion: “You are James Trent of number three, Cosgrove Gardens.” James looked at the number on his open door and then across the road to the sign attached to the house on the corner opposite. He stopped himself from instantly admitting that there was no fault in what had just been said to him. “What do you want with him?” he asked cautiously so that he could still claim any surprise inheritance or pretend he’d moved long ago depending on how this played out. “We are the police,” said the male half of the couple. “We are Temporal Causality Police from your twenty-seventh century,” corrected the female. James nodded and sighed. “Of course you are,” he said with a slight smile. There was a drugs rehab centre three streets over and he’d encountered a scruffy, young man only last year who’d clearly fallen off the rehabilitation wagon and wanted to let the world know he was happy about it, as were the invisible, green unicorns on the rooftops. “Make sure none of the green unicorns get in your Tardis,” he said, and made to close the door. The woman took her hand from her pocket and placed it on James’ arm making him flinch and step away; she had icy cold fingers and it was a decidedly mild March day. “We are here to arrest you,” she said firmly. James felt certain that he must have misheard. “Sorry, you’re what police?” he asked, rubbing at his arm. “Temporal Causality,” said the man with a smile and a nod, and he then fished inside his jacket pocket for a card which was held up towards James. It looked like metal with a fine, translucent mesh across its surface and seemed to flex slightly in the grip of the stranger; there were some markings too that might have been letters, words, and pictures but they seemed to shimmer like holograms and disappear from view when looked at directly. James shook his head to clear the confusion. “You’re what?” he asked again. He hoped this was a new approach by the Jehovah’s...

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Frogs Everywhere
Dec22

Frogs Everywhere

There were frogs everywhere. Of the carpet there could be seen not one inch and the amphibians also adorned the three piece suite, curtains, photos, nested tables, television stand, and mantelpiece. Tens of thousands of eyelids opened and closed at regular intervals and a small number of the many creatures shifted or squirmed over neighbours but there was an otherwise strange stillness to the room. “There are frogs everywhere,” said Jay quietly, but not quietly enough. A wave of startled movement broke out near the taller of the two men’s feet but swiftly ebbed into the uneasy calm once more. “I know,” whispered Luke. “I have the gift.” Jay looked down at the top of his friend’s head, unable to see his face but certain it would show exaltation from the tone of voice. “There are frogs everywhere,” he repeated, quieter than before. Luke looked up, smiling. “I can make the noise and summon them,” he said, and took a deep breath. “Stop!” said Jay a little too forcefully as he grabbed his friend’s arm. A short chorus of croaks and other assorted noises broke out in the room and there was a concerted effort by several hundred of the room’s cold-blooded denizens to get away from the loud and scary man. A kaleidoscope of greens and yellows and browns with occasional gems of bright blues, reds, and oranges undulated across the floor. After about a minute near-silence and near-stillness returned. “You’ve ruined Katie’s birthday,” whispered Jay. He saw Luke’s shoulders drop slightly but there was no response. “Six today,” Jay continued, “and all she’ll remember is a semi-aquatic home invasion, her cake ruined, her friends in tears, and her screaming in terror in her room.” “I’m sorry,” said Luke, and it sounded like he meant it. “Why today? Why would you choose to try this gift out today of all days?” Luke looked around the room, seemingly seeing it and studying it for the first time. He couldn’t deny that there were frogs everywhere; some were on the walls and a couple had even made it across the ceiling and set up home amongst the light fittings in its centre. And the smell hit him suddenly too. Frogs had a distinctive odour and in this volume it was quite overpowering. “I’m sorry,” repeated Luke. “I’ve felt I had this gift all my life and I don’t know… I just felt compelled to try it today.” “All your life!?” Jay said incredulously, keeping his voice low. “Even six months ago?” There was a barely perceptible nod by way of reply. “Six months ago! Damn! Our planet is invaded by...

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Justifiable Homicide
Aug31

Justifiable Homicide

“Would you like a cup of tea?” “No.” “Okay, well then… why don’t you start? Take us back to that morning.” “We went for a walk.” “Your wife and you?” “Yes.” “Just the two of you?” “Yes.” “Carry on.” “I picked up my camera bag and we left the house. We went for a walk. I photographed a few things.” “What sort of things?” “Anything. I photograph anything interesting. Buildings, people, views, rubbish, anything.” “Carry on.” “We got near the pub – the Rose – and she told me to put the camera away.” “This camera?” “Yes.” “Tell me about it. I don’t know much about them.” “Digital SLR. Canon. Telephoto lens. I’m not sure what you want to know.” “That’s fine. So, you got to the pub and put your camera away?” “No. I don’t put my camera away. I might see something interesting.” “So you argued?” “No. Not really. We went in a had a drink and I didn’t put the camera away. I didn’t spill anything on the camera. I don’t know what her problem was.” “Indeed. Did anything else happen there?” “No. We left after the drink and carried on with the walk. Then we noticed the clouds coming in and we decided we should probably make for another pub.” “People after my own heart. Did anything happen here?” “She told me to put the camera away when the first spots of rain came down.” “Sensible.” “No, the camera is water-resistant. A few spots won’t hurt it.” “So you didn’t put the camera away?” “No. Rain can be good to photograph.” “And when you got to the second pub?” “I kept the camera out there too. We were indoors then. And there were some interesting people in the pub.” “Did you photograph them?” “No, but I could have.” “And how did your wife feel about this?” “She was irritated, but she always is.” “Irritated enough to fight?” “No, we didn’t fight. We left the pub and saw an old woman fall over in the street so I photographed her. My wife was not pleased. She said we should have helped but it was on the other side of the road and there were other people nearer. Here, here’s the photo I took.” “Ouch! Face in the turd!” “I know. Classic. Anyway, it would have been difficult to get across the road as there was a funeral procession driving slowly through just about then.” “And you… photographed it?” “Yes. The reflections in the rain puddles of the cars and their flowers was too good to miss.” “I’ll bet your wife didn’t think the same thing.” “She...

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Doctor Maniac’s Meeting
Aug07

Doctor Maniac’s Meeting

“Gentlemen, thank you for coming today. Such a prestigious group of the world’s greatest criminal masterminds the world has truly never seen, nor shall it ever with our skill at evading the law. Most of you are probably wondering why I’ve asked you all to this meeting and why I’ve insisted on such secrecy and I… the chair recognises Wan Tring of the Hong Kong triads.” “Thank you Doctor Maniac. I am Wan Tring. Most here are not Wan Tring.” “Right. Wondering. Won-der-ing. Not Wan Tring. Can I continue? Thank you. I have asked you to this… the chair recognises El Diablo.” “Is this one of those meetings where you kill anyone who dissents with you?” “No! No! Where do you get these ideas?” “I steal movies. I watch movies. Do these chairs slide down into a pit of spikes and fire?” “What pit? This is clearly a laminated floor and we’re on the third storey of this building. You came past the floor below on the way here. You had the tour. Do you remember the office staff? The pretty secretary with the big you-know-whats? People, please! Can I get to the point of this meeting? Oh, for fu… the chair recognises Minister Montezuma.” “I have a dentist’s appointment at three. Will this meeting take long?” “Let’s… start again. And please: no interruptions. Oh… Minister Montezuma, again?” “It’s just that it’s about an hour’s drive and I need to get there early to fill in some paperwork. I would really like to leave by one thirty.” “You can leave at one thirty. That’s not a problem. Gentlemen, I’ve…” “I will leave at the same time as the Minister. Unless the Minister doesn’t want that!” “El Diablo, why would the…” “My friend El Diablo, you may do whatever you please.” “What’s going on with you two?” “There’s nothing going on but let’s just say that I think we should all leave together or not at all.” “Is this something from one of your movies again?” “We have seen this movie in Hong Kong too. Wan Tring Enterprises has imported many copies. Good film. Robert Vaughn.” “I wish you would take this meeting seriously.” “You’re thinking of The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” “Can we please stop talking about films?” “Many apologies. Perhaps it is a common theme.” “Really, please, please can we get back on track here? I’ve only booked the Death Room until four.” “Aha! You are trying to kill us Maniac!” “I am not! It’s named after the architect, Francis Death. He’s responsible for the unique lintels you see over there and the rosewood panelling designs. You people are…...

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