Friday, 29 April 2016


Keep running; don’t look back, don’t you dare look back. Look back and your dead.
The laboured footsteps catch in the puddles, marking time, slowing him down; bringing him inevitably closer to his death.
She’s behind him, somewhere; she can see him. The rain doesn’t hold her back, the pavements never even touch her feet. Gliding malevolence, she knows only one thing, his death. Youth is on her side, his youth and she knows that he can never escape her, so why run? Prolong the ecstasy of the chase, prepare for the sweetness of his ultimate suffering. He will be the source of his own undoing, he has so far.
Don’t think about how you got here, don’t think about how stupid you’ve been from the start. Run. Ignore the pain, ignore the rains lash against your face, clawing at your eyes, your soul. Remember what’s behind you. No longer your flesh and blood but torn and gouged, perverted into something unrecognisable and.. yes, evil.
The story renders everything inaccessible, blinds him from all directions. By the time the realisation slams into him it’s too late. It’s a dead end; his race, his chase is over. Nowhere to go, but maybe he’s done enough to lose her. Maybe he’s safe, the alleyway is secluded enough to provide him cover.
He treads softly, each footfall treading on cotton wool; he doesn’t make a sound. He reaches the edge of the alley and peers out.
The rain masks most of the night. The street lights flicker and die out in collusion. There are still no sounds, save for the rains percussion. No footfalls, just his breathing, a rasp that still clings to life. Maybe he’s going to live through this. Maybe his luck is going to hold.
Father.” Her voice is sweet, a deadly whisper, from behind his left shoulder. He turns around.
no.” He whimpers as she floats down to greet him one last time.

Finding lost children isn’t as easy as it sounds. There are three groups, as I see it: those that want to be found; those that don’t and those that can’t be found. It’s only the last two categories that I deal with… sorry, dealt with. You may wonder what the difference is between the latter two. Won’t and can’t – seems to be splitting hairs, right? We used to call the last one kidnapping. Now it’s less.. obtrusive, abduction… and it’s all down to intent, after all.
With the first group of children I used to tell the parents not to worry – they were just proving a point. Give them twenty four hours and they were probably just staying with a friend; and I was always right in those cases and parents trusted me, they knew about my track record and trusted that too.
Of the don’ts and can’t’s? Well, I found most of them too –due to what I'd picked up over the years. There was only one case that I never satisfactorily solved and that was the disappearance of my own daughter. She was gone for six months and I just couldn’t find her; nothing I did worked. No results, no clues and everything suffered because of it. My wife blamed me for it all and we so nearly split up.
Then my daughter turns up. She’s on one of those swings in Ellison Park, none the worse for wear. No signs of molestation, thank God, she was intact and .. pure, but she remembered nothing of her time. It was as if she never left, but there was an emptiness to her eyes that no one could explain. I had to promise Joan, my wife, that I would never put the family through anything like it again. And from that day I have never taken another missing child case and that was five years ago.”
I looked down at Cynthia who still had the handkerchief wrung tight in her hand as she sat in the chair. I was leaning against the desk, my heart bleeding for her. I knew what she was going through but there was nothing I could do; I made my promise.
But you can help me.. you can help her!”
I can’t, Cynthia –I’m sorry.”
You can! You just won’t.” She snapped. “Why won’t you?”
I made a promise…” My words tasted like bile and I hung my head, anything so I didn’t have to meet her desperation.
And your promise is worth more than my daughters life? Can’t you just tell me whether she’s a can’t or won’t? Can’t you just give me that?”
“It doesn’t work that way, Cynthia –you know that. I need something of hers to hold.”
With that she reached into her handbag and brought out a stuffed toy that I recognised.
You gave her this at her Christening; you could use this. Surely that has a strong enough link, she’s always holding on to it when she’s in bed.”
I was faltering; Joan’s threats to leave were ringing in my ears… but it wasn’t just her; she would take Rose with her as well –I could lose everything. But was my life worth more than her daughter?
She’s you God-daughter, for Christ’s sake!” Cynthia pleaded. I had no choice, not really. It made things a little easier for me to swallow but I doubted that Joan would be as understanding.

You did what?” Joan spat, launching herself at me. “How could you? I can’t believe you would just do it without telling me!”
What am I doing now?” Stupid move – now was the time to build bridges now help demolish them.
Don’t you dare play smart with me; not after all we’ve been through… Or don’t you remember that? Six months of hell you put us through.”
Of course I bloody remember! I was trying to find her; everyday, doing my best to track down a lead –anything that would find her.”
But you couldn’t find anything! You accomplished nothing, just brought us to breaking point and now you’re doing it to us again! Why?”
What would you have me do? Ignore her? Walk away? ‘I’ve got my daughter back, so might you?’”
No…. but you promised that you wouldn’t take up any more cases –or had you forgotten that?”
She’s your God-daughter, for Christ’s sake!”
But she’s not my daughter.”
I can’t just turn my back on her.”
You’ll be sorry.” She turned round and walked out on me. But she was right…

I couldn’t just turn my back on Cynthia, especially when I took hold of Sophie’s toy. Immediately I saw the world through her eyes, experienced what she was feeling and she was scared, oh so scared.
The fear of a child is different to that of an adult; adults have the choice to battle through the inane fears that they project; their fears aren’t real. Normally they’re irrational extensions of their own insecurities. But a child’s fear is palpable, solid and all consuming. They live in a world bereft of understanding. They still know the real truth that we, as adults, have shielded ourselves from: evil is real.
And where Sophie was now reeked of evil and it was crushing her. There was no way I could turn my back on that –Joan would understand, eventually.

But first things first; I had to work with what I had, which was precious little.. just Sophie’s toy. The police would be no good to me; they never were before and now that I was retired they wouldn’t lift a fart to help me.
They ended up hating me, actually. I found too many of the missing children that they couldn’t and people started talking, asking questions about the culpability of the police; as to whether they really were doing the best they could. So when my own little girl went missing, Rose, they barely lifted a finger.
There might be one person I could still go to though, if things got really bad.
I still had nothing concrete to go on, which was where the toy came in. I had to make contact again and go deeper. It’d been some time since I’d done anything like this and I was a little reticent. In my more cynical moments I wondered whether it was because of my ability that Rose was taken. I often suspected a cult involvement, but too high up to be held accountable for their actions.
Believe me, I don’t make such accusations lightly. I have often felt that there are things going on of which we have no knowledge of. One dares not mention the word paedophile in relation to prominent people in power, and just the very thought makes the authorities very nervous. Any investigation surrounding kiddie porn or trafficking always throws the public the odd celebrity Judas goat, but normally only the ones that are out of the public eye or washed up. The high rollers still have their uses.
I’m not the only one to think like this. I worked a case with the writer Alex Paige before he became famous. He was gaining a reputation of a different sort back then and was known for walking a fine line between the .. light and dark. He’d unwittingly made himself a target for those dark forces behind our own. One of the missing children was from the village he was living in and together we managed to find him alive. The boy had been kept in a concrete shaft that had been covered over in the local wood.
Alex helped me understand a lot about what I was up against and I was pleased when his novels garnered him the acclaim that he deserved. He certainly opened my eyes to a few things and taught me an awful lot. I certainly never realised that just as I used my powers to see and feel through the child’s own eyes, so my own perceptions could be used against me; and something could be seeing through my eyes. That’s how they found out about Rose, I’m sure –they saw her through me.
So why put my family through it all again? I wasn’t. Joan had left me, perhaps for good, and taken Rose with her. I was only to follow when I’d decided who was more important. If only it was that cut and dried.

I sat in my study with the curtains drawn. The phones were unplugged, I didn't want any distractions, I had to focus everything on Sophie’s toy; see if I could open a link to her and get as much information as I could to her whereabouts.
I sat cross-legged, holding the toy in both hands and shut my eyes. Despite it being a few years since I’d tried anything like this before I was surprised by the strength of contact. A sense-searing jolt of fear; her fear and I almost broke the contact but rooted myself in deeper.
Too many people fail at this kind of endeavour because they never root themselves in. It’s the pivotal point in meditation; grow your metaphysical roots as deep as you can and you’ll always have a stable base to return to, and a guide rope if you ever lose your way.
She was still alive and intact, just alone, totally alone but so afraid. The fear had now seeped into every muscle, ever nerve ending, it was all she knew. What could be causing her this kind of fear?
And then I knew. The threats, the terror were not caused by anything on this plane of existance, no physical threat or pain could even begin to account for the feedback I was getting. Being a child she was not cynical to the true ways of the world, she saw the holy and the unnatural around her everyday; was aware of the faieries and daemons that live between our heartbeats. And now she was being opened to all the evil, to every sick and cancerous entity so she could be turned and made ready. I had to find her before it was too late.

Wait a minute – there’s something –she’s aware of my presence. Somehow she knows that I’m with her. She’s opening her eyes, letting me know where she is, clever girl. Where are you? It’s an old building, a factory. I’m picking up a feeling of mechanisation and desperation. It’s a factory in an abandoned industrial estate. She’s in the gents toilets –why there? Why in God’s name has she been locked in that room? Because of the mirrors, they’re still intact and that’s how the entity has contact with her.
I need to know where this industrial estate is, maybe I can use the mirror as a scrying glass. It’s possible and certainly worth a try. I should be able to use it to reflect back her memories.
Sophie, go to the mirror and look into it. Stare into it, allow it to tell you where you are now. Trust in me, nothing can hurt you –I won’t let it. Allow it to show me where you are.
Even though it’s dark I can still make out the reflections. The broken skeletons of the cubicles and the cracked shells of the urinals… and I realise that the smell must be terrible for her….
Concentrate on the mirror, concentration in the mirror.
Wait… there’s something there, something in the mirror’s heart that’s not a reflection. Focus on it, bring it close…closer. It could be the clue to where you are… bring it closer.
What is it? There’s something… No… Wait… don’t.. Don’t bring it any closer; it’s one of them, warping out of hell from an un-normal angle…. Too terrifying, all consuming becoming the mirror until that’s all I can see and feel… NO!
Break contact, break contact!

I drop the doll and quickly turn the lights on….

This is too much for me to handle alone, I need help and fast. I no longer have Alex’s contact details and don’t want to go through any agent or personal assistant –which just left me Frank… but would he still help me?
Frank Heath was one of the few friends I had left on the police force. He knew how things were and still managed to walk the fine line and understand. He hadn’t gone over completely; he still had empathy and that went a long way.

I checked my watch -it wasn’t that late, he’d still be up; but I had to remember the code that we’d worked out. I just hoped that he’d remembered it. Five rings and then hang up.
Frank was very careful – each person had their own set number of rings. Sure enough, two minutes later he rang me back.
Funny it should be you – I was only thinking about you the other day.”
And like a bad penny… how are you, Frank?”
Well… in for a pound of shit it sounds… What can I do for you?”
I need a favour…”
Christ – I thought you’d quit.”
I had… have.. but this is different.”
“You not learnt from the last time? Why’d you want to drag it all up again?”
My God-daughter’s gone missing.. I’ve been asked to find her.” There was a tutting sound on the other end.
She’ll turn up… they always do….”
But they don’t… not always – you know that.”
This is it –the last time…But I had to do it –she’s my God-daughter!”
Yes.. I understand, but I can’t promise anything…. but I’ll look into it …. will let you know. I’ll get in contact with you.”
He hung up. What was really odd was that I never told him who my God-daughter was, he never asked for any information.

The next day I tried to remember as much as I could from my attempt to contact Sophie. This shouldn’t be too dangerous as I wasn’t actually trying to re-establish the rapport just effect a slow motion replay.
The mind stores everything and we all have the ability to access this at any time, if only we knew how…. Luckily I knew how –courtesy of Alex.
It should be relatively safe but I was going to take any chances. I marked out a circle of salt and lit four candles around the cardinal points. I sat in the middle of the circle and called on the guardians of each direction to protect me. I wasn’t sure if I still believed it all but after what I faced earlier I needed all the protection I could get.
I recognised the factory she was in. it looked very much like the one that my father worked in long ago… I had to check again to make sure.
I revisited the memory and saw Sophie cowering in the gents toilets, how could they? It was all part of the deprogramming, wipe her mind through fear….
I froze the memory and allowed myself to enter it…. We have such a narrow understanding of what’s actually possible. Memory is holographic –we are all part of it and linked into everything else, and we have complete access to that rich tapestry at all times. It’s just accessing another layer of the hologram.
I allowed myself to drift outside the dilapidated loo and out into the factory proper. This didn’t look good for me at all, but I had to check this out for sure. I moved further out and drifted through the ceiling to the front of the building. It was then that I knew for sure.
Sophie was being held prisoner in the very same factory where my father had worked years ago. But why?

The next morning I drove to the factory. I was wise enough not to go in the middle of the night. Things became more active during those hours, not that it was going to be less dangerous, per se, but at least I would be able to see what I was up against.
There was also the fact that if I was stopped by anyone I could use the excuse that I was looking at factories to buy up for a new business venture. That excuse would lose all credibility at night.
Even though thirty years had passed since I last visited I still knew exactly where the factory was. Industrial estates are the modern day labyrinths; lost and insecure, places of blood and desperation, exploitation and sweat, innovation and tears.
I still don’t know what my father did for a living… He often mentioned something about pressure testing, but I wasn’t sure whether that related to his work life or at home. For the longest time it seemed that we were all under some form of pressure testing.
So it’s no surprise that seeing the factory now brought back such unsavoury memories. For the briefest of moments I felt like a child again and almost ran back to the car. I then remembered what Alex told me, recognised the reaction in me and pushed it to the back of my mind. I dug my roots in deep and found the way in.
Like most of the factories they were like overgrown sardine tins –little more than corrugated iron walls, and it looked as if this one had been attacked by an oversized can opener.
I stepped inside and instantly felt a blast of malignant terror, gut wrenching despair and anguish.
Sophie was here, but I had to tread carefully for something else was too, but not of this world.

The air was sickening, cloying damp and suffocating. They knew I was here as soon as I set foot in the factory. I had to be quick; I didn’t know how long I could stand to be in here.
The gents toilets were exactly where I remembered them to be and again I was shaken by the palpable sense of childish fear I felt when I walked inside.
The door squeeled in protest but yielded in disgust and I saw myself as a child trying to urinate in the company of ogres as I looked into the warped mirrors. Nausea swept through me and I leaned against the sink, dry heaving. This was a mistake, I should’ve come more prepared; armed myself against such attacks. What a fool… Find her, get out quick.
All the stall doors were shut and I called her name out as hoarsely as I could. I didn’t want to cause too much more attention to myself.
Sophie.” I pushed open the first door and half expected to see a corpse, bloated and sitting there. My imagination running overtime now –not good at all. Shut up, concentrate.
It was empty but there were still five more stalls left –she had to be in one of those.
When I opened the third one I heard a sound, a shuffling; a whimper but I couldn’t tell whether it came from the fourth or the last one.
I pushed on the fourth door and found a dead pigeon lying on the toilet seat like a miniature sacrifice. It was a fresh kill, its stomach was split down the middle and its eyes had been gouged out.
The sound was getting more anxious, more frightened; sobbing now. I held my breath and tried opening the fifth door but it wouldn’t budge. I pushed harder, still no give. I took a run at it and…
You’ll break your shoulder that way.” The voice sounded friendly but sinister, like Tim Curry from the film Legend; a deep velvet that could crush you at any moment. I barely stopped myself from colliding with the door. “Bravo –nicely handled.” I turned to face it but there was nothing there. “Having trouble? Try looking in the mirror.”
I turned to the mirror and there was something standing behind me. A black shape was coalescing behind me, like fog. I whirled around to face it but there was nothing there. I turned back to the mirror and walked closer to it. The presence followed me.
Peekaboo.” It said. “I see you.. but you don’t see me,”
What are you?”
You don’t want to know that, not really. Besides, that’s not why you’re here. What you really want is behind that door.”
What have you done with her?”
Nothing..” The presence shimmered like a heat haze and giggled. “Nothing she wasn’t grateful for.”
You bastard.” I whirled round to face an empty room again, bereft of sounds except the sobbing of a frightened girl.
Now, now – she wasn’t that important. We got what we wanted so you can take her now.” It sneered.
The door to the fifth cubicle opened and Sophie was cowering, sitting hunched up like a traumatised kitten. I took my coat off and wrapped it around her. She recognised me and sobbed into my shoulder as I carried her out.
We’ve got your daughter.” The presence said right over my left shoulder. I nearly dropped Sophie out of fright. “She’s ours now… but then she always has been.”
Where is she?”
You’ll know soon enough. Someone will be in touch, just go home. Take Sophie back to her parents and tell no one what’s happened else you’ll never see your daughter again.” I drove back to Cynthia’s with Sophie curled up on the passenger seat, shivering and sobbing. I just felt numb. Rose was missing… again and I knew now that she had been taken by the same people that had tormented Sophie.
Rose…. My poor Rose.

Of course Joan was waiting for me when I got back. Her tears were of anger, hatred and fear; not like those from Cynthia, that of relief and gratitude. Her thanks fell like rain on barren sand; knowing that I’d damned my poor Rose made the whole rescue attempt a mockery, a farce.
Joan was hysterical with anguish, she blamed it all on me. Rose had been taken from right under her nose. One minute she was asleep in our bed because of a nightmare and the next she was gone. Initially Joan had thought that Rose had just gone back to her own bed but there was no one there. Nobody else in the whole house. All the doors and windows were still locked but there was no sign of Rose.
Find her, Goddamn you –find her! That’s what you do, isn’t it?” Desperation raked through her voice. The phone’s shrill cut through the moment and I picked it up.
Meet me outside in five.” It was Frank.

I knew where he’d be, it was where we always met. I couldn’t believe that he’d sold out as well, but this time I let my fists do the talking. Strangely he did nothing to stop me.
You think I wanted this?” he finally shouted at me, blood sputtering out of his mouth in punctuation. “I tried to warn you but you wouldn’t bloody listen!”
But you took her, you bastard!” I kicked him hard in the gut.
No, I didn’t!” He cried back, pushing me away as best he could.
It might not have been you but you were complicit the whole time.”
I didn’t have much choice –none of us do. You have no idea what you’re up against! The things they can do to you! None of us ever had a choice. Comply or go under.” Comply or go under, the words to live by. He pulled out a gun as he got up.
So, what now? You shoot me? Is that it?”
No… they want to see you… I don’t know why.”
Will my daughter be there?”
Most probably.. you’re to go to 113 Woosten Road in twenty five minutes. Knock five times and they’ll know its you.”
And that’s it –my time to go quietly in that goodnight?”
No.. Not if you take this.” Frank handed me his gun. “I never wanted any of this. I’ve pretty much written my death warrant by doing this, but the things I’ve seen and done… I don’t want that any more. I want you to finish it. Shoot him when you’ve got the chance. You’ll know what I mean as soon as you meet him. Kill him for me.. kill him for all of us.”

112 Woosten Road, one of the few genuinely old buildings left in town, dating back to the early 1600’s; always handed down through the family, the same family who was often spoken about in hushed voices. They owned the entire road, hell they practically ran the town! We all knew that but no one could do anything about it.
Nothing went on without the Woostens either knowing about it or instigating it. Alex had theories and so did I but there was no proof. So I shouldn’t have been surprised to be knocking on their front door, but it made me realise just how much danger Rose was in. I didn’t matter now, she was the only important thing to me.
Each knock was another nail in my coffin, there was a feeling of inevitability –my whole life leading up to this point. The door opened practically on the fifth knock. A well presented butler, slick back hair, slick sharp suit and the requisite air of smug superiority.
Yes, you’ve been expected. Come this way.”
Aren’t you going to search me? I might have a concealed weapon.” I bluffed, my every word as if it was already written.
Do you really think it matters now?”
No, I suppose not.” Was it all that clearly defined? No, they couldn’t know about the gun, his change of heart.

I was led to a room, up an ornate staircase, through countless corridors. I once took my aged mum round the Brighton Pavilion to see all its majesty; the gold leaf, the sumptuous surroundings, marble statues. It was a dolls house compared to this place.
The butler opened the door to a huge ballroom, a chequerboard pattern on the floor, black and white squares with splashes of red… blood.
I thought it would be apt to meet you in here. It’s what you guessed all along, after all…. What’s it like to be right?” The voice came from the back of the room. Three thrones carved out of ivory and jet. Beautiful workmanship perverted through evil intent. The man was small, barely five foot at a glance. His hair was cropped short hearkening back to a style that was in vogue when he was born –back in the ‘20’s. The stories were true, he hadn’t aged a day.
Alastair Woosten” I said.
Alas, it’s true. I thought that after all you’ve been through that you deserved to see my real face.” He smiled, his eyes a deathly black, emotionless. “It’s not as if you stand a chance.”
Why allow me to get this far?”
Why not?” He parodied my crushing desperation and showed mock humility. “My apologies, that was unfair.” He put his hands into a steeple and smiled genially. “We are timeless. There’s very little that brings us pleasure any more. We pretty much rule your world now, despite what you may hope. We allow you to think because it’s so much more satisfying to crush you. To see that light go in your eyes when you realise the futility of it all. Just to see you realise how helpless you really are.”
I walked closer, the cold metal in my pocket the only thing stopping me from giving in. I didn’t trust myself to shoot him at this distance, a few more steps would be enough.
You’ve been played, but you were never our target. It was your daughter. She inherited it all - all your talents, the sensitive nature and the telepathy. We nurtured it, certainly. But we gave her back to you the first time and after your dead we’ll send her back to your wife and no one will be any the wiser… And we couldn’t have done it without you.”
Enough! Like a marionette I pulled the gun from my pocket and held it in front of me. His expression barely changed except his smile widened to one of delight. Even when I pulled the trigger and left a third eye in his forehead the smile stayed there.
Then a voice, his voice echoed in the room.
Oh bravo. Good shot! We really didn’t think that you had it in you. Your journey is nearly complete. Run along and find your daughter now… Run!”

I dropped the gun, almost blinded by the fear soaked tears. I ran from the ballroom nearly skidding on the blood. My only thought was to get Rose out of there, he was wrong –I could still do this. I could still rescue her.

The butler came out of nowhere, slamming me against the wall. Without any effort at all, he had me by the throat, lifting me up, choking the life out of me as if I was a child. I clawed at his face, kicked him as hard as I could, but nothing moved him, he felt no pain. The darkness climbed my limbs, up my spine, weighing me down, dragging me into oblivion.
no, play nice now.” The voice came from behind the butler and he immediately let me go and fell to his knees. Standing there was Rose. No, she wasn’t standing at all, her feet weren’t touching the ground, she was hovering a foot above it. She was still wearing her ‘Ok Kitty’ pajama’s that she went missing in. My angel, my Rose. But she looked at me and her eyes were black and soulless.

Play nicely and run.” She said in Woosten’s voice.

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