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Whether technical, documentary or creative I enjoy writing and I’ve had various items published.  Like many freelance writers I too am an aspiring author and have more than one on-going book on the computer.  Here are the opening few chapters of one such unfinished book:


Far far across the universe a fragment of a seemingly unseen unheard collision sped silently through the vast cold emptiness of space.  Its destiny was to collide with an inhabited planet; quite a feat when there are so few to choose from in the vast cold emptiness of space.  Moments later a bored young boy aimlessly tormenting his dog in the back garden of 22 Acacia Avenue picked it up and ran screaming to his mummy. 

‘Mummy, mummy,’ he screamed.

‘What is it now?’

‘Look at this,’ the young boy held out his smouldering hand.

‘How many times have I told you not to play with fire?’

‘But I wasn’t, a little piece of metal landed on the grass and I picked it up and it burnt me.’

‘You’re telling me porkies again; you’ve been playing with matches haven’t you?’

‘No mummy, honest, it’s probably a bit of space debris, heated as it fell through the atmosphere.’

‘Just wait till the daddy hears your tall tales, he’ll beat the living daylights out of you!’

‘Aw mum, but it’s true.’

‘I don’t want to hear another word.  Go up to the bathroom and get me the first-aid box.’ 


Unperturbed by incalculable odds another hot speeding fragment from the earlier collision, heading in completely the opposite direction to earth, entered a worm hole in space and momentarily materialised inside the mirrored medicine bathroom cupboard of 22 Acacia Avenue.  The resulting intense heat destroyed the contents moments before the worm hole opened again, sucking out the remains, never to be seen in this part of the universe again.  Uncannily imitating the way single socks disappear in washing machines.  The young boy tried to open the slightly smoking mirrored medicine cupboard and recoiled in pain as the red hot handle burnt his other hand.  He ran downstairs screaming to his mummy. 

‘Mummy, mummy,’ he screamed.

‘Look, if you don’t stop that I’ll really give you something to scream about.’

‘But mummy, look,’ the young boy held out his freshly burnt other hand.

‘I told you to get the first-aid box.’

‘I tried to mummy but the cupboard’s red hot.’

‘I’ve never heard such a load of old tosh in all my life!’  Exclaimed the mummy before storming off upstairs to the bathroom, ‘I don’t know, if you want a job done...’ 


The mummy put the plug in the bath, turned on the hot tap, slipped out of her clothes, stepped onto the bathroom scales and weighed up the naked truth.  Disappointedly she dipped her elbow into the bath water, pulled it out rather sharpish and turned on the cold tap.  A few moments later she tested the water again, added some fluorescent pink foul smelling bubble bath and stepped in.  Reclining in the water she reached out for the blue shampoo bottle, unscrewed the top and sniffed the contents before placing the bottle to her lips and taking a generous swig.  A common occurrence after an encounter with the bathroom scales and the brandy soon eased the blow of the scale’s weighty figures.  The young boy entered the bathroom. 

‘Don’t knock then,’ said the mummy.

‘What are you doing?’

‘I’m building a scale model of the Empire State building.’


‘What do you think I’m doing, silly?’

‘I thought you were going to get the first-aid box.’

‘What for?’

‘These,’ said the young boy holding out his badly burnt hands.

‘Oh yes, sorry, I thought I came in here for a reason.’ 


The mummy stepped out of the bath dripping foul smelling suds all over the floor and, grabbing a towel, playfully flicked the young boy. 

‘It isn’t polite to stare,’ said the mummy wrapping the towel around her before opening the mirrored cupboard.

‘Wow that’s hot, what on earth!’

‘See, I told you,’ said the young boy.

‘How did this happen?’

‘Maybe another piece of space debris set it on fire.’

‘Oh yes, the odds against that must be millions to one.’ 


Spot the dog untangled himself from several yards of fruit netting, the young boy’s instrument of torment, staggered into the house and howled for some food. 

‘Listen, I think Spot has burnt himself too,’ said the young boy.

‘Oh my god, it’s one of those days, I just knew I should have stayed in bed.’

‘Please mummy, can you fix my hands?’

‘What do you think I am, a surgeon?’

‘Aw mummy.’

‘Only kidding, go downstairs, there’s a second first-aid box in the daddy’s shed.’ 


The young boy entered the shed, or at least, what remained of it.  The roof had caved in, demolished by a very very flat cat.  Wow, that must have fallen from a very very great height thought the young boy.  He ran back into the house, tripped over Spot the dog, picked himself up and bounded up the stairs. 

‘Guess what,’ said the young boy breathlessly, ‘the shed has been flattened by a very very flat cat.’

‘You do come out with some right old tosh, I really don’t know where you get it from.’

‘But it’s true, honest.’

‘You’re obviously a warped masochist and don’t want me to bandage your hands, do you?’

‘But I do.’

‘Well stop messing me about with all these tall stories and give me the first, no, second first-aid box.’

‘But I can’t, the shed’s flattened.’

‘The daddy won’t be pleased, just you wait till he gets home.’

‘If you don’t believe me come outside and see for yourself.’

‘Oh yes, that’s right, get me out in the garden with just a towel wrapped about me, I’d be the laughing stock of the neighbourhood.’

‘You already are,’ mumbled the young boy under his breath.

‘What was that?’

‘Nothing mummy.’ 


The front door opened and the daddy called out.

‘Hello, I’m home.’ 

The young boy ran downstairs and showed the daddy his burnt hands.

‘Well my lad, how did that happen?’

‘I found a piece of metal, probably from an old space rocket, and when I picked it up it burnt me.’

‘And why hasn’t the mummy bandaged them for you?’

‘Well, she was going to but the bathroom cabinet is burnt out and your shed has been demolished by a very very flat cat.’

‘Good grief, I really don’t know where you get it from,’ said the daddy, ‘where’s the mummy?’

‘She’s in the bathroom, getting dressed.  Come out to the garden and see the shed daddy.’

‘All in good time, my lad, all in good time.’

‘Hello darling,’ said the mummy, ‘had a good day?’

‘You wouldn’t believe it, that boss of mine needs his head examined, you know what he wanted to do today?’

‘No, what?’

‘He only wanted to set up a committee to investigate the prospect of reducing the workforce, I mean, there’s only five of us left after the last cost cutting exercise.  How was your day?’

‘Oh bloody awful, as usual, the washing machine’s on the blink again and we got a final demand from the electricity.’

‘Daddy?’  Pleaded the young boy.


‘Please come and look at the shed.’

‘Oh yes,’ said the mummy, ‘this young boy has been spinning me some very tall tales today, I told him you wouldn’t be pleased.’

‘How many times have I told you, stop winding the mummy up?’

‘But I’m not, honest, it’s all true.

‘Do you think I was born yesterday?

‘No, but it is true.’

‘You’ll see the back of my hand if you don’t stop telling these tall stories.’

‘Why don’t you come and see for yourself then?’

‘Enough! I’ve had a very busy day and I’m going to have a nice cup of tea, put the kettle on mummy.’ 


In the kitchen the mummy didn’t spot Spot the dog lying sprawled out on the floor and, tripping over the beast, banged her head on the oven knocking herself out cold. 

‘What was that?’  Said the daddy.

The young boy rushed out to the kitchen and found the mummy lying on the floor.

‘Quick, she’s lying on the ground.’ 

The daddy bent down to check the mummy was breathing.

‘Oh bloody hell, she’s been at the brandy again, I suppose I’ll have to make my own tea!’

‘Look,’ said the young boy pointing out the kitchen window to the remains of the daddy’s garden shed, ‘I told you.’

‘Oh my god, what have you been up to?’

‘It wasn’t me daddy, honest.’ 


The daddy rushed outside to survey the remains of his beloved shed.  Lifting the fragments of the roof off he broke down and cried.  His lovingly crafted life size matchstick model of the Queen was crushed beyond repair.

‘Five bloody years work down the drain,’ he stormed, ‘who’s responsible for this?’

‘Well, you see that very very flat cat?’  Said the young boy, ‘I reckon it must have fallen from a very very great height to have flattened itself and the shed like that.’

‘This is your work isn’t it! All this talk of flat cats and space rockets is just a cover up isn’t it, you did this didn’t you?’

‘No I didn’t, honest.’ 


The slap from the back of the daddy’s hand sent the young boy reeling backwards into the pond.  The cool water soothed his burnt hands and took the sting out of the backhander.

‘Get out of that pond and go straight to bed!’

‘Aw daddy...’

‘Do as you’re told!’




The young boy tentatively prodded the tarnished piece of metal that had so thoughtlessly burnt his hand the previous day.  It was no longer a danger to his epidermis and he inspected the object in his blistered hands.  Yes, it must be a piece from a discarded spent rocket, thought the young boy, just like… 


Rubbing at the charred metal with the edge of his T-shirt produced a very unexpected result.  A blackness swiftly engulfed the young boy.  He imagined he was being transported to another dimension.  But this was no mere feet of imagination for it was decidedly the real thing.  Out of the blackness a disembodied face slowly began to emerge.  The young boy rubbed his eyes in disbelief but the image remained.  Within his racing mind the young boy began to hear a voice.  A voice like he had never heard before.  A voice that paradoxically seemed both frightening and yet strangely comforting. 


‘What is it you want of me, young boy?’

‘Err, who’s that?’

‘Do you always answer a question with yet another question, young boy?’

‘No, I’m sorry, I’m just a bit scared, where am I and who are you?’

‘There you go again, not one but two questions this time.  All right, I’ll answer your questions, but only if you then promise to answer mine, okay?’

‘Yes, okay then.’

‘Right, you are in Seraphineas and I am Babty.’

‘Where the hell is Seraphineas?’

‘Look, I’ve answered your questions and you promised to answer mine, wasn’t that the deal?’

‘Yes, sorry, what was your question?’

‘I’ll repeat myself then.  What is it you want of me, young boy?’


The young boy was thoroughly confused.  He’d already asked where he was and to whom he was talking to but the answers hadn’t enlightened him at all.


‘Well, I’m waiting,’ said Babty.

‘Sorry, I’m not quite sure what to say.’

‘You summoned me to do your bidding and now you don’t know what to say?’

‘I summoned you?’

‘Yes, that is what I said.’

‘You mean you can help me?’

‘If that is what you require.’

‘I’m scared of the dark and I don’t like it here, can’t I just go home?’

‘So be it, young boy.’


The young boy found himself sat on the grass, in the back garden, holding the piece of tarnished metal.  He studied it carefully.  It was just like the pieces of spent rocket casing that he’d seen in the science museum and yet...   He rubbed it with his T-shirt again.


‘What do you want this time, did I not carry out your command young boy?’

‘Yes, you did, what did you say your name was?’


‘Okay Babty, I command you to....’

‘Look, young boy, you are a young boy whilst I am a superior being, it is enough that I carry out your wishes, just don’t command me to do so, all right?’

‘Sorry Babty I just thought....’

‘It is obvious to me that you did not think at all.  Perhaps you have seen Aladdin too many times.  I’d recommend caution, young boy.’

‘Yes, you are right Babty.’

‘As always.’

‘Okay, perhaps I’d better just go home for now and think carefully.  Oh, before I go, there is just one thing you could do for me.’

‘And what is that, young boy?’

‘Could you fix my blistered hands and the daddy’s shed and his lovingly crafted life size matchstick model of the Queen and wipe all traces of what happened yesterday from the mummy’s and the daddy’s minds?’

‘You did say one thing, but then I suppose I’m just being picky.  So be it.’


The young boy sat on the grass staring at the piece of metal and twisting it around in his unscarred hands.  Out of the corner of his eye he spotted Spot the dog, running ‘round and ‘round and leaping up at the daddy’s garden shed.  Placing the piece of metal in his pocket he leapt to his feet and ran over to the shed.  There, inside, the daddy’s lovingly crafted life size matchstick model of the Queen stood stock still and replete.  Perfect in every way.  Well, too perfect.  Babty had overlooked the daddy’s lack of artistic ability and rebuilt the Queen surpassing all known standards of matchstick sculpture.  Gone was the oversized caricature of a nose and those beady little eyes that seemed to follow you round the room.  Oh my God, the daddy will be insufferable.  Even more insufferable than usual, if that were at all possible.


Stepping outside, the young boy was nearly knocked down by Spot falling back from one of his repeated lunges for the roof.  Looking up, the young boy saw a cat’s tail hanging over the edge of the roof.  He pulled on the tail and was confronted by a very, very flat cat.  Babty had put the shed back together and restored the daddy’s lovingly crafted life size matchstick model of the Queen but he hadn’t disposed of that damn flat cat.  I must be very specific with my requests thought the young boy as he searched for a spade.


The mummy leaned out of the kitchen window and called out to the young boy.


‘What have you been doing with that spade?’

‘Just burying the cat.’

‘But we don’t have a cat.’

‘I know, it was the one that... ,’ the young boy bit his tongue.  This is difficult, she obviously doesn’t remember.  Babty had at least got the memory wipe right.

‘Anyway, put that spade down and come in here.’


The mummy grabbed the young boy by the ear and painfully escorted him up to the bathroom.


‘Is this your doing?’  Asked the mummy pointing to the mirrored cupboard.


‘Don’t give me what, is this your work?’


The mummy opened the mirrored cupboard.  The young boy had little choice but to confess.


‘Yes, I did it mummy, honest.’

‘Well then, there’ll be no more pocket money till everything is replaced and just you wait 'till I tell the daddy.’

‘It was an accident mummy.’

‘Accident my foot, this looks like wanton destruction to me.  I really can’t understand what possessed you.’



The daddy slid his key into the lock and opened the front door.


‘Hello, I’m home.’

‘How was your day?’  Said the mummy.

‘Bloody awful, I think the boss has flipped.  He was going on about reducing the bloody work force as if I knew all about it.’

‘Never mind, I’ll make you a nice cup of tea.’

‘I’ll have it in the shed, I’m going to work on the Queen.’



The daddy entered the shed and cast a slightly puzzled eye over the Queen.  Um, I don’t know, maybe I should give up the day job and concentrate on my sculpturing, I’m really quite good.


The young boy sat in the living room toying with the piece of metal in his pocket and pondering the possibilities.  Babty had fixed the shed and the daddy’s lovingly crafted life size matchstick model of the Queen, wiped the mummy’s and the daddy’s memories but there were anomalies.  The flat cat for one.  I’ll have to be very careful with my commands, thought the young boy as he began rubbing the metal once more.


‘So, you return, and pray what can I do for you now?’

‘I’d like to ask you a few questions Babty, is that okay?’

‘I’m kind of busy right now but what is it you want to know?’

‘Is there any limit to the things you can do.’

‘What does the word ‘limit’ mean?’

‘You know, limit, as in…’

‘Sorry, I was only kidding, but since you ask, no, there are no limits.  What you seek, you get.’

‘You’re kidding?’  Replied the young boy rather incredulously.

‘I was, but I’m not now’

‘Hey don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I don’t believe you it’s just that I’m having some problem understanding the implications, I wish I was older.’

‘And how old would you like to be then?’


‘I said, and how old would you like to be then?’

‘You can make me older?’

‘Does the Pope bare Catholics in the wood?’


‘Sorry, I think I slightly mixed my metaphors.  But I repeat, how old would you like to be?’

‘Well, I’m not sure, I guess twenty-five should do the trick.’

‘It is done.’

‘Thank you Babty.’

‘Think nothing of it, it is the least a superior being can do.’

‘I think I’d like to go home now.’

‘It is done.’


The mummy walked in to living room.


‘Oh hello, I didn’t see you come in, would you like a cup of tea?’

‘Thank you, that would be lovely.’  The young boy was taken aback, his voice sounded different, deep and mature.  As the mummy left the room the not so young boy frantically rubbed the metal once more.

‘And pray what is it now?’  Said Babty.

‘The mummy didn’t recognise me.’

‘You seem surprised.’

‘Not half as surprised as the mummy.’

‘Well you are quite a bit older.’

‘This is no good, I need to return as I was.’

‘It is done.’


The mummy returned with a nice hot cup of tea.


‘Where did he go?’


‘That young friend of the daddy’s.’

‘I think he went out to the daddy’s shed.’

‘He might have waited for his tea!’





‘Attention!  Stand easy men.  Captain Rogers will brief you on the mission.’

‘Right, pay attention men.  This is a T.S.M., and all information is on an N.T.K., basis; the chaps at M.I., have ascertained the P.A.C., and...’

‘Excuse me sir.’

‘Yes, what is it Corporal?’

‘What’s a T.S.M., sir?’

‘Top Secret Mission Corporal, as I was saying....’

‘And N.T.K., basis?’

‘Need To Know basis, okay Corporal?’

‘Yes, thank you sir....’

‘To continue then....’

‘Err, sorry Captain, I guess M.I., stands for Military Intelligence but what does P.A.C., mean?’

‘Somebody tell him.’

‘Pleasurable Act Coitus, sir?’

‘No it does not!  It stands for Possible Area of Contamination.’

‘I would have thought that should have been P.A. of C., wouldn’t you?’

‘Enough Corporal!  As I was saying, the chaps at M.I., have ascertained the P.A.C., and your job is to locate hot spots and report back to me at H.Q., is that clear Corporal?’

‘Yes Sir.’

‘You will split up in to four groups of three; each group will have their own M.D.’

‘Why will we need a Doctor, sir?’

‘That’s Mobile Detector Corporal.’

‘Sorry sir.’

‘You may now unseal the folders.  As you can see the P.A.C., covers a large residential area.  It is vital that you do not arouse suspicion regarding the mission so if you are challenged you will say that you are testing a new television detector vehicle.’

‘And in reality, sir?’

‘As I said information is strictly on a N.T.K., basis Corporal.’

‘Well, I think I need to know what I’m supposed to be looking for sir.’

‘Do I have to spell it out for you Corporal?  Hot spots, hot spots as in radiation!’

‘I think I’d like to take that doctor along after all sir.’

‘That will not be necessary Corporal, these hot spots are not harmful.’

‘So we just pin-point these so called safe hot spots and report back to you, sir?’

‘Yes, that’s correct Corporal, any further questions?’

‘So if these radiation hot spots are safe, why is the army looking for them then?’

‘Corporal, you are either insubordinate or stupid, I can’t quite decide which, any more from you and I’ll presume the former and have you thrown into the glass house, is that clear Corporal?’

‘Yes sir!’

‘Synchronise watches then, on the count of three it will be 0800 precisely, one, two, three.  Right, go and collect your kit and assemble on the parade ground prior to departure at 0900, dismissed.’


Looking rather like a troop of Mohican porcupines, four grey Landrovers bristling with antennae, stood on the parade ground, engines ticking over in the cold morning air as their crews set about their various tasks.  The navigator spread out his map and marked a route to their designated search area.


‘You don’t want to go that way, you’ll get caught up in the one way system,’ said the under occupied driver. 

‘Oh really, and which way would you go?’

‘It’s obvious, I’d take the A347 up to the common, bearing left at the Crooked Banker, onto the dual carriageway and then across the river by the Greenman.’


In the back of the Landrover, surrounded by sophisticated cutting edge high-tech radiation detection equipment, Sparks switched on what looked like a pre World War II radio transmitter.


‘This is M.D., one-five-zero to H.Q., come in please, over.’


‘Via the Greenman?  But that’s virtually double the mileage!’  Exclaimed the navigator.

‘Yea, but at least we’ll be moving rather than...’

‘Pipe down up front, I’m on to H.Q.’


‘H.Q., to M.D., one-five-zero, receiving you five-by-five, good hunting chaps, over.’

‘Roger H.Q., over and out.  Okay you two, do we have a route plan?’

‘Yes, we do, hit the road driver.’

‘I’m not going into that one way system, we’ll be there all day.’




The mummy called out from the kitchen, ‘Breakfast is ready, are you out of that bed yet?’


‘Coming,’ replied the young boy leaping out of bed.

In the kitchen, breakfast television competed with condensation trickling down the window for supremacy in the viewing stakes, it was a close thing and the mummy alternated between the two.

‘Why are you still in your pyjamas?’

‘I don’t feel well.’

‘Never mind, sit down and eat you Cornflakes, you’ll be late for school if you don’t hurry up.’

‘I don’t feel like Cornflakes.’

‘I’ve already put the milk on, so eat up.’

‘But I’m not hungry.’

‘Can’t have you going to school without your breakfast.’

‘But I don’t feel well.’

‘You were all right last night, what’s got into you?’

‘I don’t know, I just don’t feel right, can’t I go back to bed?’

‘Stick out your tongue.  Umm, I don’t like the look of that, I wouldn’t put it back in my mouth if I were you.’


‘Only kidding, but you do look a bit off colour, perhaps you should go back to bed.’

‘Thanks mummy.’


The young boy slipped his hand under his pillow and retrieved the fragment of spent rocket and sat there staring at it for a moment before rubbing it with a corner of the bed sheet.


‘I somehow thought it wouldn’t be long before you returned,’ sighed Babty, ‘and what can I do for you now?’

‘Well. could you fix it so I don’t have to go to school.’

‘You seem to have taken care of that without my assistance.’

‘Yes but that’s just for today, I don’t want to go to school ever again.’

‘It is done.’

‘Wow, thanks Babty.’

‘Anything else young boy?’

‘No, I think that solves everything.’

‘Perhaps you would like to return then?’

‘Yes please.’

‘It is done.’


The young boy lay in bed staring into space and thinking.  No more school, no more Chinese burns and more importantly, no more French lessons.  Punching the air he let out a whoop of joy.




‘Slow down, slow down, I’m getting a reading.  Wait, stop here.  What’s our co-ordinates navigator?’


‘This is M.D., one-five-zero to H.Q., come in please, over.’

‘H.Q., to M.D., one-five-zero, receiving you loud and clear, over.’

‘We are picking up a strong hot-spot from area co-ordinates N1576/W1400, over.’

‘Stand by M.D., one-five-zero, over.’


The driver leaned over and glanced at the detector’s screen.


‘Blimey, just look at the size of that blip, where’s it coming from Sparks?’

‘See that house over there?’


‘Well it’s centred on the upper floor area.’

‘With a reading like that I wouldn’t want to be in that house right now.’

‘But Captain Rogers said these hot-spots were safe.’

‘Yea, they said that about the Titanic too.’

‘Hang on a mo, H.Q.’s coming through.’

‘This is H.Q., to M.D., one-five-zero, Captain Rogers here.  Well done chaps, stay where you are and keep monitoring, I’ll be with you soon, over.’

‘That’s a Roger, Captain Rogers, over and out.’




Lying in bed the young boy’s deep contemplation of the meaning of life without school was being rudely interrupted by a distant low throbbing sound.  The bedroom windows began to vibrate in sympathy with the now not so distant throbbing.  Leaping out of bed he peered out of the window.  He could see nothing capable of producing such a loud sound.  The bedroom windows vibrated so violently they seemed about to shatter, he backed away into the room a little.  The noise became ear-splittingly loud and the young boy, trembling with fear, dived back into bed and buried himself under the bedclothes.  Finding the piece of tarnished metal he frantically rubbed it.  The ear-splitting sound faded as he once again found himself transported to Seraphineas.


‘Hello again young boy, pray what can I do for you now?’

‘All hell’s broken loose, the house was just about to fall down, I only just got away in time.’  Said the young boy breathlessly.

‘Come, come, surely you exaggerate.’

‘No honest, the whole house was shaking and there was this big noise coming to get me.’

‘I’m sure the house was not about to fall down and there is nothing out to get you.’


‘You question my vision young boy?’

‘No, it’s just I’m scared and I don’t want to go back.’

‘Look, I tell you what, I will make you invisible and you can go back and see for yourself?’

‘Wow, you can really make me invisible?’

‘It is done.’

‘Wow, can I go back then?’

‘It is done.’


The bedroom windows were still vibrating in sympathy with the ear-splittingly loud noise as the young boy slipped out of bed and stared out the window.  Babty was right, the house wasn’t going to fall down, at least not yet, he thought.  But what on earth was making that noise?




Captain Rogers glanced out the window of the helicopter as it circled co-ordinates N1576/W1400 and spotted M.D., one-five-zero parked next to a small playing field bordering a row of houses.


‘Can you put her down in that playing field, old chap?’

‘Yes sir.’

‘Right, quick as you can old chap.’

‘Yes sir.’


As soon as the helicopter touched down Captain Rogers slid the door back and jumped out. Holding onto his hat he ducked under the rotating blades and ran towards M.D., one-five-zero.  Inside, Captain Rogers studied the detector’s screen as the helicopter’s blades slowed.


‘Where’s the hot spot, Sparks?’


Pointing out of the vehicle’s darkened side window Sparks replied.


‘I’d say it’s centred on the upper floor area of that house over there sir.’

‘What!  You mean it’s inside?’

‘To be more precise sir, it’s located towards the rear of the house.’

‘Right, grab a R.L.F. and an H.H.R.D. and come with me.’


‘Yes, what is it sparks?’

‘What’s an R.L.F.?’

‘Roll of Lead Foil, Sparks.’


‘Before you ask, it’s a Hand Held Radiation Detector!’

‘I knew that sir, I just wandered why we needed the lead foil.’

‘Good God man, do I have to spell it out for you?’

‘Sorry sir, but you said these hot spots were safe.’

‘Look here Sparks, just do as you are told or I’ll put you on a charge, is that clear?’

‘Yes sir!’

‘Right, follow me.’


The mummy had never seen a helicopter land in the field opposite before.  She peered through the net curtains.  A man leapt from the helicopter’s open door and ran towards a vehicle bristling with aerials before disappearing inside.  The ear-splittingly loud window-shaking noise ceased as the helicopter’s blades came to a stand still.  Two men emerged from the aerial bedecked vehicle, purposely crossed the road, opened the little sunburst wooden gate, negotiated the short crazy-paved garden path and pressed the little white illuminated button to the side of the front door.  The mummy, accompanied by Spot the dog, was already opening the door before the ‘bing-bong’ of the two tone chimes had died.


‘Good day madam.’

‘It might be.’


‘If you’ve come about the T.V. licence you’re out of luck.  My husband said he was going to get one on the way to work today and he won’t be home till very late so you’ll have to come back tomorrow.’

‘No madam, we haven’t come about the T.V. licence.’

‘I didn’t think the licensing people had helicopters.’

‘Allow me to introduce myself madam, I am F.L.O. from T.A.B.’

‘Flo, that’s a funny name for a man.’

‘No, no, my name is Rogers, Captain Rogers.  F.L.O. stands for Field Liaison Officer.’

‘And T.A.B?’

‘Thistledown Army Barracks, madam.’

‘Oh, I see, I think.  And what could the army possibly want from me?’

‘Well, we’ve had reports of a radiation leak from Unclear Park and we’re checking houses in this area for contamination.’

‘Oh my God!’

‘There’s no need to panic my good lady, it’s potentially harmless.  As a precaution though my sergeant would like to run his detector over your house, it won’t take a moment.’

‘You’d better come in then.’

‘Thank you.  Switch on the H.H.R.D. Sparks.’

‘Yes sir.’


The H.H.R.D. emitted a low hum as they entered the house.  The hum gently rose to a soft whistle as Sparks pointed the machine towards the stairs.  As they climbed the stairs the H.H.R.D.’s whistle rose a semi-tone with each step.  With deft footwork Sparks reproduced a facsimile of the theme to Close Encounters. 


‘Quit fooling around Sparks!’

‘Sorry sir.’


Near the top of the stairs the machine sounded like a steam whistle on a boiling kettle.  Spot the dog pushed passed the mummy and Captain Rogers, leapt in front of Sparks, cocked his head to one side and stared expectedly at the machine.  Sparks switched the machine to another sensitivity range and the whistle dropped to a low hum.  Spot looked decidedly perplexed, more so than the product of one blue and one brown eye could perhaps justify.  Sparks coaxed Spot out of the way before moving onto the top landing.  The machine’s tone rose once more as Sparks pointed it in the direction of the back bedroom’s open door.  As he moved towards the door it abruptly slammed shut.  The young boy could hear the machine’s rising tone from behind the closed door.  His heart beat faster; he grabbed the piece of tarnished metal and dived under the bed just as the door opened.  The mummy called out to the young boy but got no reply.  Sparks was once again confronted by a loud high pitched whistle together with an ever obedient Spot the dog as he ventured into the room.  Switching the machine down yet another range lowered both the tone and Spot’s interest.  Swinging the machine from left to right Sparks zeroed in on the young boy’s bed.


‘It seems to indicate something’s under the bed sir.’


Before Captain Rogers could respond a small piece of tarnished metal silently rose from the other side of the bed.  Dumfounded, Sparks pointed the H.H.R.D. directly at it.  The machine responded with a high pitched whistle piercing the air like a wailing banshee.  Captain Rogers and Sparks stood routed to the spot as the piece of metal slowly floated away from the bed.  The mummy’s legs gave way and she crumpled gracefully to the ground.  Spot the dog ran from the room whimpering with his tail firmly between his legs. Without taking his eyes of the levitating piece of metal Captain Rogers whispered to Sparks.


‘I think she’s fainted.’

‘I’m not bloody surprised, what the hell’s happening sir?’

‘I’m not too sure, unroll the lead foil Sparks.’


Sparks quickly unrolled about three feet of lead foil and passed one end to Captain Rogers.  They cautiously edged towards the floating object.  


‘Right, on the count of three,’ whispered Captain Rogers, ‘throw it over it.  One, two, three!’


As the lead foil flew through the air the young boy dropped to the ground, quickly rolled back under the bed and frantically rubbed the tarnished piece of metal.  Sparks leapt on to the lead foil, pinning it down as it hit the ground; simultaneously the H.H.R.D.’s tone lowered to the residual hum.


‘Got it sir!’

‘Good show old chap.’


Slowly peeling back one edge of the foil Sparks slipped the H.H.R.D. under and probed for a reading.  The machine emitted the same residual low hum.  Sparks twiddled the sensitivity knob and found nothing but the same low hum on all ranges.  Removing the lead foil from the floor had no effect on the machine’s tone; the piece of tarnished metal was nowhere to be seen.  Sparks stood up and scratched his head.


‘It seems to have disappeared sir.’

‘That’s impossible Sparks, I saw it with my own two eyes and the H.H.R.D. nearly went off the scale.’

‘Well, whatever it was, it’s not here now sir.’

‘Give me that machine man!’


Captain Rogers swung the H.H.R.D. from left to right, poked it under the bed; nothing, just a continuous low hum.


‘Damn thing must be faulty Sparks.’

‘I don’t think so sir, here let me see.’


Sparks removed the rear cover and checked the batteries. 





‘So, it is you again,’ said Babty, ‘the house is still standing I presume?’

‘Well yes, you were right, but a couple of men came into my bedroom and tried to throw a heavy grey sheet over me.’

‘Ah yes, but they did not see you.’

‘They must have done.’

‘No, they did not, you were invisible.’

‘But they had a machine that whistled when they pointed it at me.’

‘It did not whistle when pointed at you, it was that piece of tarnished metal you have in your hand that made the machine whistle.  Although I made you invisible I did not do the same to that piece of metal.’

‘Why not?’

‘Well, if you had put it down you would not have been able to find it again, would you?’

‘Oh, yes, I see.  But why have those men come?’

‘They want that little piece of tarnished metal.’

‘But it’s mine, I found it, I don’t want them to have it.  Can’t you do something to stop them Babty?’

‘I can do many things young boy.  I could stop them but that would only be a temporary measure.’

‘What do you mean?’

‘Even if I stopped these two, other men would come.’

‘I’ve got an idea Babty!’

‘Oh, prey do tell.’

‘Why don’t you make me an exact copy and I’ll let them have that?’

‘It is done.  Just be sure to give them the copy.’

‘But if it is an exact copy why should it matter which piece I give them?’

‘Questions, questions, questions.  Although it is an exact copy, in one sense, it does not have one of the original’s attributes; the one that allows communication with me.’

‘Do you think it will fool them?’

‘Oh I’m sure it will, but for how long I could not possibly say.’

‘Perhaps I should go back and let them have it then.’

Yes, I think that would be a good idea, just remember what I have said.’

‘I will, can you send me back now please?’

‘It is done.’


Sparks clipped the battery compartment shut, the H.H.R.D. let out a piercing high pitched scream, rousing the mummy from her faint.  The young boy had invisibly re-entered the bedroom and lay under the bed.  Captain Rogers stuck his fingers in his ears.


‘Turn that damn thing off man!’


The young boy threw the duplicate piece of tarnished metal towards the machine causing the pitch to rise beyond the range of human ears.  Downstairs, Spot the dog howled in pain as the whistle seared through his brain.


‘Look sir, there’s that piece of metal!’

‘Quick man, the lead foil, give me the foil.’


Captain Rogers slipped a piece of lead foil over the tarnished metal and quickly wrapped it up as Sparks simultaneously silenced the H.H.R.D.


‘What on earth happened?’

‘I’m afraid you fainted madam.  But there really is nothing to worry about, we have the situation completely under control now.’





 © Tim Rainey 2006


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Last updated:  2 January 2010
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