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Staggering Stories Podcast #282: Lighting Up Leicester
by Staggering Stories Podcast
Sun, 11 Feb 2018 09:00

Summary: Adam J Purcell, Andy Simpkins, Fake Keith, the Real Keith Dunn and Scott Fuller review the 2013 Big Finish Doctor Who 50th anniversary story ‘The Light at the End’, discuss their visit to the Doctor Who convention ‘Science of the Time Lords’, find some general news, and a variety of other stuff, specifically: 00:00 […]


Staggering Stories Commentary #210: Babylon 5 – The Wheel of Fire
by Staggering Stories Podcast
Sun, 04 Feb 2018 09:00

Summary: Adam J Purcell, Andy Simpkins and Keith Dunn sit down, bargaining, in front of the Season 5 Babylon 5 episode ‘The Wheel of Fire’, and spout our usual nonsense! G’Kar has become a cult, Delenn has a parasite and Lochley finally does something. But enough of their problems, please sit down with us to […]


Staggering Stories Podcast #281: Ruler of Swindon (or maybe Sweden?)
by Staggering Stories Podcast
Sun, 28 Jan 2018 09:00

Summary: Adam J Purcell, Andy Simpkins, Fake Keith and the Real Keith Dunn discuss our Top Ten 2017 Films, review the 2017 Big Finish Doctor Who boxset ‘The New Adventures of Bernice Summerfield, Vol. 4 – Ruler of the Universe’, find some general news, and a variety of other stuff, specifically: 00:00 – Intro and […]


Staggering Stories Commentary #209: Doctor Who – The Eaters of Light
by Staggering Stories Podcast
Sun, 21 Jan 2018 10:55

Summary: Adam J Purcell, Andy Simpkins and Keith Dunn sit down, consuming, in front of the 2017 Doctor Who S10 episode, ‘The Eaters of Light’, and spout our usual nonsense! Bill has fallen down a hole (again), Nardole is getting inked up and Kar is fending off a demon. But enough of their problems, please […]


Staggering Stories Podcast #280: Welcome to the Annual Predictability
by Staggering Stories Podcast
Sun, 14 Jan 2018 09:00

Summary: Adam J Purcell, Fake Keith, Jean Riddler, the Real Keith Dunn and Scott Fuller discuss Capaldi’s best Doctor Who bits, review the film Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, come up with our Predictions, Hopes and Dreams, and Fears for 2018, see how wrong we were about our Predictions for 2017, find some general news, […]


Staggering Stories Commentary #208: Babylon 5 – The Fall of Centauri Prime
by Staggering Stories Podcast
Sun, 07 Jan 2018 10:54

Summary: Adam J Purcell, Andy Simpkins and Keith Dunn sit down, coronated, in front of the Season 5 Babylon 5 episode ‘The Fall of Centauri Prime’, and spout our usual nonsense! Mollari has a fetching new outfit that he doesn’t want, Delenn and Lennier are wrecked and Vir suddenly has a large supply of Ferrero […]

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Buccaneer Chronicles

The Buccaneer Chronicles:
Ghostwalker

Written by Tony Gallichan. Plot by Karen Dunn and Tony Gallichan


Chapter Five - A Blast from the Past

 

4th September, 1943

Dear Mother and Father,

This will just be a short note to let you know that I am welI. My hair needs cutting but otherwise, I think you would be proud of me. I have been sent to a small island called Jersey - it is much as I remember the Rhineland to be - beautifully fresh. The people here treat us well - there are no misplaced acts of defiance as there were in France and I believe that the war wiIl soon be over. After all, we are one step from England and it's defence of women and old men.

You never know, my next Ietter may come to you from London.

your loving son.

Ernst

4th September, 1943

Dear Diary,

I have lied to my parents, the people I love most in the world. I want nothing more than to scream to them for help . To have them take me home and keep me safe. But how do I tell them the truth. They are so old and so far away? Have I the right to worry them, to wreck their lives for the sake of telling them the truth?

The truth is that I am to die. My legs are all but gone - a mess of shrapnel which gives me constant pain. I know that I must lose them or die. I also known that I will probably die during the procedure anyway.

I am afraid of dying, Diary.

Forgive me my cowardice but that is the way I feel.

I want to celebrate my eighteenth birthday with my mother smiling at me and my father shaking me by the hand.

I want to smoke my first cigar at his side as he offers me a Cognac.

I want to live to be a man, Diary, not die a tearful coward in an underground cavern which passes for a hospital.

The people here hate us. They spit at us as we pass. I did not lie when I said that they do not resist us as the French did. I think these people are worse. We cannot get into their minds, cannot force than to commit violence which could then be punished. They fight us with their hearts, not their hands. They look at us as if we were dirt - they make no attempt to lessen the burden of occupation. When we finally leave, they will laugh at us because they know we cannot break them.

That makes me more afraid than anything else.

I am watching a group of them now. They are digging with tools just one step up from bare hands and they do not complain, They just do their work and take their pay. Perhaps pay is the wrong word, Diary, for they are prisoners of the glorious Reich - at least that's what the propaganda sheets would say.

They are excavating another cavern to this hospital. It is work for trained men with machines, riot fishermen with pickaxes,

I keep finding myself admiring those we have vanquished, be they Polish, French, or these islanders. Could we have held our heads so high if we were the conquered and not the conquerors? Could we have so blatantly detested our captors and still managed to keep our pride intact?

Somehow, Diary, I think not.

 

Macfadyan watched through confused eyes as the young soldier chewed the end of his pencil and pondered over which secrets to share with his paper confidante. He was completely oblivious to the Time Lord's presence, in fact it seemed that no one could see him.

The Buccaneer shivered. There was fear in this place. Too much fear mixed with too much hate.

He watched the soldier as he began to write again. There was no spite in this child. He was yet to understand the meaning of pure, darkest hate. This was not the stereotypical Nazi oppressor which the world was fighting. This was a seventeen year old boy caught up in a war which he was too young to understand.

No, the hate was not coming from him.

He glanced around, his head spinning, still unable to come to terms with his sudden transportation. Five men, ragged and stinking, were chipping relentlessly at the rockface with hand hel pickaxes, occasionally taking a feeble swing at it with a solitary sledgehammer. Huge mountains of rock showed how far they were progressing. Cracks in the wall gave ample warning of a future collapse. These men however, were tired beyond exhaustion and perhaps too far gone to care.

Macfadyan watched in silent helpless dread as a hairline crack snaked across the ceiling and erupted to form a creaking fissure.

In the bed, Ernst unconciously matched his gaze, his face racked with horror.

"Mein Gott!"

He had no time to shout a warning as the roof of rock caved in on the diggers. The tail end of the collapse crushed the bed.

As soldiers and doctors alike ran to help, Ernst died screaming. His diary and the letter to his parents lay crumpled on the stone floor. Three drops of blood blurred the ink into an unreadable smudge.

Almost with gratitude, Macfadyan fainted.

 

The States of Jersey Tourism Office had only recently been redecorated. Tasteful shades of green and blue met uniformly on plain walls, broken only by the smallest of framed landscape jottings. Huge corridor length fluorescent lamps chased the shadows from the darkest corners. All was bright and open.

But in the study of Senator Caroline Saracin there was an unfriendly chill. It was if the banished shadows had run screaming through the door and taken lodge in the corners. Then they had been too frightened to leave.

Caroline stood in front of the full length mirror which hung behind the door and admired the reflection through calculating green eyes. She took in the elegantly slim figure shrouded in the severe two-piece suit, which somehow managed to hug her waist and chest, yet let her sit down comfortably without having to breathe in and listen for the groan of overtaxed seams.

Her blonde hair was piled high above the white softness of her collar. She reached up and pulled out the clips, letting it flow in rivers of the very expensive mainland salon highlighting round her shoulders and to the centre of her back. She smiled at her reflection pleased with the effect. During the eight years in which she had held a position of any real importance, Caroline gained promotion through any number of dubious means She had bargained, conned, made unkeepable promises and, through a number of illicit love affairs. blackmailed her way to the top. Men found her irresistible and she knew how to exploit this. She could blossom from a starched, almost secretarial frump into a mystic goddess just by changing the way she stood. She could reduce the most determined of men into blushing schoolboys with a flutter of her precisely made up eyelashes.

Her study at the Office Of Tourism was envelope brown laid out in traditional door sized oak panels - imitation of course. The budget did not stretch to the extravagance of a coffee machine in each room, let alone cater to the aristocratic tastes of the higher members of state. Modern office equipment presented a stark contrast to the antiquated decor. A desk, chair and an entire wall of filing cabinets matched the greyness of her clothes. Maps and charts adorned the walls where perhaps a picture would have been moor suitable . There were few personal touches present. A framed photograph of Caroline herself? A slightly younger version, smiling; the green eyes warm and welcoming. She was dressed in the black cape and gown of a university graduate and holding the compulsory ribbon bound scroll. A newspaper cutting proudly told how Caroline Saracin, twenty-one, born and brought up on Jersey, had graduated with honours from Cambridge University and would be returning soon to stand for election to the States Of Jersey Next to it was another more recent cutting announcing her inauguration as a Deputy. At twenty-eight, she was the youngest person ever to have attained this level. The final step to full Senator came within two years. It was much frowned on by the old men of tradition who saw it as one step off precociousness.

Smoothing imaginary creases from the greyness of her outfit and flicking a non-existent smudge from her freshly waxed legs, she stepped back from the mirror and waited eye to eye with herself for dear, late William to knock at the door. If she judged him correctly, he would be in soon, making feeble excuses for his tardiness and eyeing her up again. He was a big man. a brute, and much as she hated to admit it, he unnerved her. It was easier therefore, to deal with him if his mind was flustered and permanently centred on his trousers.

She undid the top two buttons on her blouse and studied her image again.

"Perfect."

That was Caroline Saracin. Young, extremely attractive, fanatically ambitious, highly dedicated and one hundred percent bitch.

It was almost midday by the time William Small arrived at Caroline's door. He didn't want to work on a Sunday, but as Miss Caroline Saracin had said "...the tourists don't go home Friday night and come back on Monday morning, do they? No. Then neither shall we."

People had tapped their watches as he passed, which he took to mean that he should expect trouble. He did riot knock before entering the room - he never liked to warn people that he was coming.

Caroline's eyes were the first things he saw. She teas standing almost directly in front of the door as if she had been waiting. The next things he saw were the softness of her skin and the sea of hair which bounced at her shoulders. The first thing he heard was her voice.

"About time!"

He had to swallow rapidly before answering, trying to keep his voice at the light bass which was the usual.

Damn the woman! She always knew how to ridicule him without saying a single word. Always knew how to put him on his guard when he wanted to appear confident - in Control.

"Sorry. Miss Saragin. It was the car..."

"Yes, very good. William. Will you please explain then, what you were doing at Fort Regent half an hour ago?"

"Fort Regent? Damn!"

She flashed him a look of complete contempt.

"Fort Regent. You were seen coming out of the cafe at about ten past."

"Yes, I can explain..."

"Please do."

"The owner. Jan Hard..?"

"What about her?"

"She was kicking up a stink about the rent rise. She was very abusive."

Caroline walked to the filing cabinets and yanked open a drawer. Making a quick search, she produced a bulky file.

"Yes. I thought we might have trouble with her."

Crossing the room, William tried to look at the information in the folder. Caroline closed it very deliberately and took it across to her desk.

"She's a bit of a crusader, our Mrs Hardy. A lover of lost causes. You remember when the flooding of Queen's Valley was first proposed?"

"Yes, it caused a bit of a row."

That would win a prize for understatement. The Jersey Anti Development Committee had half the island out in protest. And guess who had the biggest banner?"

"Hardy?"

"Of course. She's now a major supporter, verbally and financially.", she flicked open the file, "Last year she gave eighteen hundred pounds in cash and cheques..."

"And she has the nerve to complain about a rent rise?"

Caroline waved a dismissive hand.

"Oh, do shut up, William. That's not the point at all."

Reaching into her drawer. she slammed a bundle of similar files onto the desk.

"The point is that all the other traders at the piazza wouldn't know how to protest if their lives depended on it. We've already bought out two holdings with three more about to follow. it Jan Hardy decides to kick up enough dust and gets them all behind her, there's bound to be an inquiry."

She glared at him, cold eyes flashing.

"And then the plans for the amusement arcade will become public knowledge. And then there will be a further protest. And then the States will decide that perhaps it wasn't such a good idea after all. And then we won't be able to balance the books at the end of the year. And then you and I will be out or a job."

She thrust her face so close to his that he couid smell her perfume.

"Do you get the point now, William dear?"

William silently counted to ten, slowly, carefully. He hated being shouted at.

 

"I don't understand why you're so worried. Sure, it'll be a nuisance, but that's all. No one will lose their jobs over it. It happens all the time."

Caroline leant back in her chair, regarding him in almost amused silence.

"No, it doesn't happen all the time. Once again, your lack of brains betrays you. Have you studied the accounts recently?"

"No."

She reached down and fished the relevant tome from her drawer.

"Look at it."

He took the book, gently read through it, once briskly and then more carefully.

"These figures are wrong."

She smiled at him.

"Are they?"

"There's over eighty thousand pounds missing."

"It's not missing, darling. I know exactly where it is."

"Where?"

"In an account in London."

William leaned heavily on the desk and then sank into the second chair.

"What have you done?"

She took the accounts book and returned it to the drawer. "I would have thought that was obvious."

"You've been skimming a percentage off of all the sales."

Caroline looked shocked.

"I'm disappointed that you could think I'd steal from the States, William."

"Well, what would you call it?"

She got up and walked to the cabinets, carefully aware of the tantalizing glimpse of thigh which shone at him from beneath her skirt.

"Initiative? Enterprise? Know how? Take your pick, it all means the same."

She began a systematic search of the files, humming quietly to herself. William could feel the rage brewing in his gut. Caroline delicately drew a file from the drawer and handed it to him.

"If you read that you'll see that I haven't been 'skimming a percentage' at all. The States have been credited with all they're entitled to.", she pointed to a bundle of letters pinned to the flap of the file. "Those are the letters sent to prospective sellers...", she indicated a second bundle, "...while those are the official letters. The ones which will be sent to the Treasury at the end of the year."

"You've been offering them twenty-five percent less than you've been declaring"

She smiled, smug.

"I know."

"But what happens if we have to recall all the monies?"

"The books won't balance."

William sprang to his feet and threw the file onto the desk.

"And you'll be sacked and charged with theft, fraud..."

"No, I won't."

The harshness of her tone and the ice in her eyes unnerved him. Then she smiled and he knew he was in trouble.

"Why? What do you mean?"

"Look at the letters again, William dear. Look at the name at the bottom of each? The initials against each transaction."

He stared, amazed and then furious as his own name leapt out and taunted him. His initials danced before his eyes and his temper snapped.

"You bitch!" He lunged at her across the desk. She stepped back neatly.

"Don't add assault to the charges you'll face, William. They will lock you away for a long, long time."

He sank resigned back into the chair and glared daggers at her, fighting to keep his rage in check.

"You bitch!"

Caroline watched him carefully as his anger slowed and his common sense kicked in. Once his face had returned to its normal colour, she perched herself on the corner of the desk: and crossed her legs, a la bimbo. To her annoyance, his expression remained thunderous as his fists clenched and unclenched in his lap.

 

Through gritted teeth he spat one word at her.

"Well?"

"Well what?"

"You're not the sort to leave a chance unclaimed. You must want something from me."

The statement intrigued her and she mentally chided herself for forgetting that the man seated before her had a brain in his head as well as a muscular frame.

William saw her pause and smiled inwardly. His was a frustrating history. He had decided at an early age that he would not live down to his name and all that it implied. When he was eight, he had badly beaten up an older boy for chanting 'small willy' into his face at the top of his voice.. The headmaster had slippered him. He was a big man and William had cried or an hour and sulked for a week. After that. he avoided any contact with his school-mates, only going near them to deliver a thump or a pinch as payback for some imagined crime. By the age of twelve he had started to enjoy the fear which he could instil in others just by looking at them. He enjoyed the way smaller children cried when he hit them.

In short, William Small was a mini-sadist.

After spending most of his adolescent years pressing weights at the leisure centre, he blossomed into a very large sadist. It was only natural that he went into politics. The people of politics though, saw him for what he was and went to all lengths to disassociate themselves from him. Crestfallen, William might have turned to the only avenue open to him - crime, but Caroline Saracin, then an up and corning young Deputy saw in him something her colleagues missed. Muscle. She took him on as a well dressed dogsbody. A bodyguard and gopher. She paid him to dance to her every .whim.

William took the job on happily. He saw a side to Caroline that she tried to keep weil hidden. The vindictive side. The spoilt side and occasionally, if she wanted something from him, the seductive side. Besides, he got to hit people again, and that was what really mattered.

He had entered a life of crime after all, but he had done it legally.

Caroline was lookng at him again.

"I think we should try to prevent the problem before it raises its head."

"How?"

"Persuade Mrs Hardy that she shouldn't make such a fuss."

"How persuasive do you want me to be?"

Their eyes met and neither would look away.

"Very persuasive, William. Very persuasive indeed."

He nodded.

"But that won't change the support she has had from the others."

"I think I know how to deal with that."

She slipped off the desk and went to the vanity table which stood next to the mirror. A local newspaper had been spread across it. Picking it up, she showed it to him. A full page advert jumped at him.

"The JADC? What about them?"

"The Jersey Anti-Development Committee are having a meeting tonight. It will be packed as usual. Think where a few choice rumours started there would lead."

"What sort of rumours?"

She shrugged.

"It could be put about that Mrs Hardy is secretly contributing to the development of the valley. Perhaps she was offered more satisfaction from the States than from the JADC."

"She' ll deny it. All she has to do is show them her account books and they'll know it's not true."

Caroline sighed.

"Then you'll have to make sure that she doesn't show them, won't you?" Her eyes lit up and she clapped her hands

"Even better, can you find a way of implicating the JADC In your 'persuasion'?"

"I should think so."

She led him to the door.

"Then do it. Tonight while the meeting is in progress." She opened the door and ushered him out.

"Get this right, William, and we can forget all unpleasantness between us."

The door closed and William stared at it.

"No, we can't."

His voice was a whisper. He turned and made to leave the building, his mind running through and discarding one idea after another.

 

The sun was blazing outside. The streets were thick with tourists experimenting with the different cafes and fast food bars which had sprung up over the recent years.

William stepped from the Office Of Tourism and glanced around. Three youths caught his eye as they leant against a post box eating lethal looking hot dogs. He walked over to !hem.

"Want to earn some money?"

The eldest, tall and junk-food fat with a mop of blonde hair pushed himself away from the post box and swaggered forward. thumbs hooked into his belt. A poor imitation of what he believed a man should be.

"Doing what?"

"A bit of artistry."

The three looked at each other and grinned. The youngest, a boy barely into his teens. swallowed the remnants of his hot dog.

"It'll cost a bit."

William reached inside his jacket and pulled out his wallet.

"Of course. I wouldn't expect businessmen like yourselves to work for chicken-feed. "

This pleased them and they all pulled themselves to their full heights. William was not impressed.

"The job pays a tenner."

"Each?"

"Between You."

"No way."

They began to lose interest. William pulled a twenty pound note from his wallet

"Twenty pounds between you. And if the job's welI done I'll be looking for you with more work." He waved the note In front of them. "And you'll be looking at twice this much. Each. "

Their interest resparked and the youths gathered round as William told them what to do.

"It's simple. I want you to spray JADC on sites around the town. Hotels, clubs, the Underground Hospital. You know, tourist places. Most importantly , you have to hit Fort Regent."

Brian, the eldest, was suspicious.

"Why?"

William silenced him with a glare.

"Just do it, or we can forget it."

"Okay, sorry"

"That's it. JADC...", he emphasised each letter with a jab of his fingers, "On as many walls as possible. It has to be done tonight."

Handing over the money, he watched as they hustled their way down the street. He hoped to any god that was listening that they would go through with it. Right now though, there were things to be arranged.

 

Ghostwalker: Chapter Six