In my post Never Quite Willing to Walk Away I reminded readers of the existence of my more serious works. Well the ones that sell from time to time – those being my ‘Silent‘ books. So I thought that the two that don’t sell should get an airing too. After all, if you don’t know what you’re missing, you won’t want to buy them, will you? No, you won’t. So please be aware that this pair of books…
…remain on sale at most proper e-book sellers, like Amazon, B&N, Lulu, etc. And yes, Clive Thunderbolt is me. I use the name to distinguish the more violent (and slightly sexual) stuff from the family orientated (though still violent) Paul Trevor Nolan titled stuff. My son made up the name. It was supposed to show me that Tooty Nolan was a stupid name for an author – even if I am Tooty Nolan. He used Clive Thunderbolt as an example of another stupid name; and, to his dismay, I embraced it instantly – whilst missing the point entirely. Anyway, to the excerpts…
“How the hell did you get here?” Wycksford Chief Administrator, Alice Wilkins – echoed Katherine as she stood glaring across her desk at Wozniak.
Len, Katherine, and two armed guards – both of whom appeared considerably more professional than their opposite numbers in Brambledown – stood behind Wozniak, who was the only seated person there. The last time Wozniak had seen Alice Wilkins she had been handing him the keys to The Peaks.
“You’re the brain box around here, Alice.” He grumbled his annoyance.” All I know is that I went to bed in my version of The Peaks, and woke up in yours. I’m a mere passenger – and an unwilling one at that!”
“That’s it? How does that help us?” Alice clearly wanted more. She turned to Katherine, “Major – get him out of here: I’m a busy woman.”
‘Major?’ Wozniak thought in surprise.
Katherine must have read his mind. “Field commission.” She explained, “We’re on the brink of war with Droxfield. Please, Peter – there must be some significance to your being here. Think – is there anything that you might have missed?”
Though she tried to conceal it, Wozniak could hear the desperation in Katherine’s voice. He tried to cast his mind back to the previous evening.
“Well there was the phone problem. None of them worked.”
“You were isolated, then?” Alice leaned forward across her desk. “What about any other electronic equipment: was that affected in any way?”
“Is it significant?” Wozniak asked in turn.
“I don’t know.” Alice answered honestly. “Perhaps. I’m just collating information right now. Perhaps I can come up with a theory later. Well – was it?”
Wozniak shook his head “Nothing. Sorry. I didn’t watch television. I didn’t listen to radio. Yet, oddly, when I think about it, I did feel strangely isolated. And there was Len, of course.”
All eyes turned from Wozniak to Len Peters.
“His alternate in my reality spoke to me during the evening.” Wozniak tried to explain, “He said you were in trouble.”
“Len?” Alice enquired gently of the old man.
“I have these dreams. I dream about another Len Peters. Day dreams, I s’pose you’d call ‘em.” Len spoke clearly at first, but then stumbled. How could he explain the fact that for the entire duration of his life he had been in communication with his inter-dimensional twin from a world like this, but which was uniquely different?
‘But these people seem to know all about the other side,’ he thought, ‘Perhaps they’ll understand.’
It took a few more moments of introspection before he realized that they were all waiting for him to continue.
“He talks back. I know all about his world, and he knows all about mine.” He told them. “Between us we seem to understand more about our own worlds by seeing what happens in the other. I told the other Len about me killing Wozniak. I told him why I did it too.”
Wozniak got his question before the eager Alice could open her mouth:
“So why did you suggest that I could help? How did you learn about the events of last year? Surely it must have been totally hush-hush, need-to-know, sort of stuff on this side?”
Len was clearly hiding something. He shifted his feet like a nervous schoolboy, and his eyes avoided direct contact with anyone else’s.
Katherine cleared her throat.
“Ah, that would be me.” She announced.
“What’s this, Major?” Alice exclaimed. “Are we talking about a serious security breach here?”
Katherine gave her superior a look of apology.
“Len’s my uncle.” She explained. “I’ve always looked upon him as a sort of wise old owl. I tell him all my troubles: he helps me keep them in perspective. He helps me deal with things. When you told me about my mission last year – I went straight to Uncle Len. He gave me the courage to see it through. He’s not a security breach: he’s an absolute necessity and a guardian angel.”
“You didn’t tell me nothin’ ‘bout your rape.” The object of the women’s conversation complained sharply.
“I knew how you’d react.” Katherine replied without looking at her uncle. “I didn’t want you executed for murder.”
“Security breach or absolute necessity aside,” Alice interrupted, “what made you think this Peter Wozniak could do anything about our problems?”
Katherine placed a hand upon Wozniak’s shoulder. To Alice she said: “Because…oh I don’t know. It’s just that I felt he could help somehow. I know there’s no logic involved – but you’ve never experienced crossing over. You get feelings…Call it a sixth sense if you will. But it changes a person. Maybe it makes them more receptive to…Again, I don’t know. I can’t put it into words. But when I saw him in the road with Uncle Len, I wasn’t in the least surprised – even though I knew logically that he couldn’t possibly be there – here I mean.”
Alice sat down.
“Yet here he is.”
She decided to abandon any thoughts of recrimination.
“Despite all the contrary facts and theories we have concerning LDD, Mister Wozniak is here; and I’d bloody well like to know how he did it!”
Abruptly she stood again.
“But I don’t have the energy to ponder this problem right now. I don’t have the luxury of time on my side either. Droxfield aren’t going to get our data, despite what they think; and they are going to attack at some point in the near future, because I’m damned if we’re going to roll over and watch as the work of generations of Wycksford people is pulled apart – or worse. I’m needed elsewhere right now: Major – despite some aberrant behaviour committed by yourself and your uncle – your commission stands. Take care of things here in my absence. But do me this favour: just try to avoid crossing over into another space/time continuum whilst my back is turned.”
With that she collected a file of papers from a drawer, and left the room – her two guards scuttling out behind her.
The room seemed strangely empty to Wozniak now that only he, Len, and Katherine remained.
“Well I think that went well under the circumstances.” He said. “You’re still a Major, and Len and I aren’t locked up.”
Katherine dropped into the seat so recently vacated by Alice. It was still warm.
“If only she would allow someone else to oversee our defence.” She said. “She’s a good administrator: but she’s a better theorist. I don’t know why, but I’m certain that your transfer here is no coincidence. It must be vitally important. I just wish I knew why and how.”
“Look, my ego is big enough already.” Wozniak tried a smile as he spoke. “I don’t need to be told how remarkable I am: I know that already.”
Katherine smiled minutely. “It’s just that, contrary to what she just said to you, she does have the beginning of a theory. She told me about it a month ago. If she’s right – then the timing of Droxfield’s action couldn’t have been better timed. Or worse, perhaps – depending upon what happens next.” She looked at Wozniak directly. “At the risk of exploding your ego into a state of megalomania – I truly believe that you can make a difference, Peter. Your timing isn’t necessarily the result of destiny – but it is serendipitous.” She stood again, and made for the door. “We’re not on war rations just yet: anyone hungry? I know I am. And maybe we can find an ice pack for those swollen bollocks of yours.”
© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014
Wozniak, Janice, and Tom hadn’t wanted to draw attention to themselves as they slipped unobtrusively from the A&E waiting room of Crampton General Hospital, but such was their urgency to leave that they began scurrying once they’d emerged into the central corridor. Half way along its length Janice began to complain about the pain that her injuries were now causing her, so Wozniak simply picked her up, and holding her in his arms before him, he broke into a run. They emerged into the air at a fair gallop, and several nurses arriving for work were forced to skip aside.
“Sorry.” Janice called over Wozniak’s departing shoulder.
“Keys.” Tom said as he allowed his brother to catch up.
Janice fished through her pockets. She tossed the car keys to the large man. She then watched as he accelerated ahead, dodging a slow-moving road-cleaning truck, and approached Wozniak’s parked car. She also saw him pull up short. His body language suggested surprise.
Once the cleaning truck had passed, Wozniak placed Janice upon her feet, and together they were able to join Tom. They were shocked to see Amanda standing upon the opposite side of the vehicle.
“She wants to know how Connor’s getting on.” Tom informed them.
“Like you care!” Janice spat the words at Amanda.
“I do care.” Amanda said defensively. “I’d never wish harm on Connor.”
“That’s rich.” Janice scoffed. “You’re the one who put him in hospital!”
“I didn’t mean to.” Amanda looked chagrined. “Blame it on my adrenal gland: it’s designed to be over-active.”
Janice wasn’t giving up. “And your libido?”
“Ditto.” Amanda chanced a small smile, “Though I don’t believe anyone has ever come to harm because of that particular facet of my physiology. I’m guaranteed disease-free by the way. Totally immune, And I don’t carry.”
“That’s a relief.” Tom wiped his brow. “Not that I doubted you for a minute.”
“He’s in good hands, if that’s what you need to know.” Wozniak told her gently. “He’s in no danger.” He then added, “Where’s Jart?”
Amanda shrugged her shoulders. “He’s fast, but he’s not that fast.” She replied. “Once I had the car up to speed he gave up. I expect he’ll be making his way back to The Peaks by now.”
“What?” Janice exploded. “Dave and Judith are there. If he gets in…” Janice didn’t dare speak the words. “Oh my god – poor Judith!”
“And poor Dave too.” Tom added. “He’ll die trying to protect her!”
Amanda looked around the car park frantically. “You mean they didn’t come with you? When I saw your car go past like the hounds of hell were chasing it I assumed you were all aboard. That’s when I made my break for freedom. Oh fuck!”
Wozniak didn’t waste another second in discussion or recriminations. “Get in the car!” He shouted.
It had been a manic drive out of the town in the direction of Brambledown, and it had tested Wozniak’s driving skills to the limit. He’d prayed all the way that no police cars spotted him, and came in pursuit: He wasn’t about to stop for anyone. Tom had phoned ahead to warn Dave and Judith. Wozniak suggested that they lock themselves in the cellar, which they agreed to do. But now, as they drove into The Peaks, they could see the younger couple waiting for them at the door.
Hurrying from the car to the house, they were all beckoned inside. Once in the hallway, Dave shut the door and threw the heavy cast iron bolt across. Janice then proceeded into her natural habitat – the kitchen, whilst Tom joined Dave and Judith on guard duties.
“I promise – this time I’ll lead him away.” Amanda assured Wozniak as they entered the dining room. “If I’d known they were here I’d never have driven off.”
Wozniak turned and grasped Amanda’s shoulders. He could feel the incredible musculature beneath the skin. He felt certain that if she were to take on a fully-grown male chimpanzee in a fight, the chimp would be slaughtered in the opening seconds.
Amanda must have sensed his thoughts. “You think I’m tough: I’m breakfast for men like Jart. I could take on both Tom and you, and you’d both be dead before you’d even thought about where to land your first punch. Don’t be stupid: Don’t try to take him on.”
“We have a weapon.” Wozniak confided in her.
An eyebrow arched.
“He needs sunlight to reach his full potential, right?”
Amanda appeared to warm to the idea immediately. She nodded, and added, “Full potential, yes: But he’s still pretty awesome at half potential.”
“But he’s been using quite a bit of energy today, wouldn’t you say? What with all that chasing after you.”
Amanda shrugged her shoulders in ambivalence. “To a certain extent. But if he’s eaten…”
“What would happen if we were able to cut off his light source?”
Amanda paused to consider this before she replied. “He’d be running on internal power.”
“Like we do.” Wozniak said, a huge grin spreading across his face. “He would tire in a fight. Keep at him for long enough and he’d soon be knackered. One of us could get in the killing blow.”
Amanda dropped into a chair. Wozniak seated himself opposite her.
“Well there’s your problem.” She said as she stared sightlessly out of the window through one jet back eye, and the other appearing quite normal. “Keep at him long enough. How long is long enough. He’d have incapacitated or killed you all long before you reach that situation.”
Wozniak’s expression took on a look of cunning. “But what if we found ourselves some reinforcements? Lots of reinforcements?”
Amanda was intrigued. “Please – continue.”
Wozniak was about to speak when he found that his hands were empty. “Oh shit.” He said. “I’ve left my baseball bat in the car. Be back in a moment.”
He then stood, entered the hallway, and drew back the lock. “I’m just visiting the car.” He called through to Tom who was watching the garden.
He received a thumbs-up.
Wozniak had left the baseball bat between the front seats, so he automatically went to retrieve via the drivers’ side. He’d just dropped into his seat when the door slammed shut on him. He didn’t have time for a single expletive before the car was rocked violently, and turned entirely upon its side. Wozniak clung on to the steering wheel in an attempt to keep himself in position as the car continued to roll over. It then crashed down on to its roof, and Wozniak was toppled from his seat.
© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014