17 Aug


Part 1. Part 2 Part 3 part 4 Part 5 Part 6


bones photo: Bones abstract_3d-and-cg_300x225_159329_-_skulls.jpg


If you were to look at a map of the world and find the United Kingdom within it you would conclude that it is a very small place indeed, not much more than a wisp of land off the north-west coast of mainland Europe. But if you were to go there in the flesh you might find that it gives every appearance of being quite big. You can, for instance, travel for hours without getting back to your starting point or using the same stretch of road twice, in a self-propelled car doing seventy miles an hour.

Which was what the three member of the Curmudgeon Detective Agency were doing as they fled from an unknown foe in search of a refuge wherein they could sort themselves out and try to come to some understanding of what, if anything, was going on. The car was driving itself and Royston was in a dead faint and out cold at the prospect of being driven along strange roads by a handful of silicon chips.

It’s not always easy to know what’s going on, especially when one of the party is blind, another an attractive young female with all the brains and the third a newcomer prone to resorting to unconsciousness at the drop of a hat.

“Does what you said an hour or two ago mean you don’t trust us?” asked Royston Williams in a bleary voice, gradually emerging from a bout of what looked like a brief coma by opening his eyes and looking round with a confused expression in his eyes.

“Someone knew too much,” snapped the Inspector, still seething under the wrongful impression that he’d been betrayed, but not knowing anything more than that. “They attacked 221c!” he added forcefully. “I was shot at! Me! Haven’t I suffered enough at the hands of Mr Handgun? There are bullet holes in my doors and I have a broken window! It’s a good thing my alarms created havoc or I’d be dead by now, riddled with lead and bleeding like ninepence!”

“Ninepence doesn’t bleed,” sighed his secretary, the absorbingly beautiful Miss Angelina Parr.

“You must know what I mean!” snapped Blinky, and then, because he still believed that Miss Parr was a septuagenarian, apologised profusely for his attitude, “excuse me, Miss Parr, but even your wisdom and longevity can’t know everything…”

“It must be me then,” murmured Royston, knowing that it wasn’t.

“That’s absolutely my thinking!” roared Blinky. “You’re the newcomer! You’re the one with everything to gain by my downfall! I ought to have you shot, and I would but for the fact that I never touch guns, not any more!”

“It’s nobody, Mr Curmudgeon,” soothed Miss Parr. “You are suffering the complex reaction to owning a priceless heirloom when a bunch of crooks want it back and are prepared to kill for it! And they’ll go to any lengths to get it. Think of poor Tiny Bloxam.”

“Priceless heirloom?” stammered Blinky, “I don’t have any priceless heirloom! Never saw one, never wanted one, never owned one!”

“The loupe,” sighed Angelina. “You can’t deny you have the loupe, can you? Remember: I told you that it was a rare piece of ancient Egyptian gold, a very accurate magnifying lens mounted in twenty-four carat gold? And that it is rarer than hens’ teeth, even hens’ gold teeth?”

“Where would I be without you, Miss Parr…” sighed Curmudgeon. “It is indeed your age and experience that holds us all together.. so our good Sergeant here isn’t a fifth columnist, then? He’s the man he says he is, you say, a good honest policeman who, like myself, has been wounded in the job? Oh that the public recognised the trials and tribulations that are a policeman’s lot! The wounded souls that fall like debris in the wake of righteousness…”

“So where are you taking us?” demanded Royston, wearying of his new employer’s apparently empty rhetoric.

“We’re almost there!” smiled Curmudgeon. “A few miles further, that’s all! We’re on out way to Brainache Castle…”

“I’ve never heard of it,” said Royston.

“Neither have I,” added Angelina.

“It’s a well-kept secret,” began the Inspector. “I’ve known of it for many years. I used to go there as a child – my parents took me when they perceived I’d been a naughty boy! It was better than a beating, I can tell you – and I had plenty of those! There’s not much there, no corners for gunmen to lurk in, nowhere for the bad lot that attacked 221c to lie in hiding ready to leap out on us with their weapons in hand! Oh no, and it’s bleak. The moors are a wind-swept inhospitable landscape offering no cover to the sinners of this world.

“When I was a lad they’d take me there, in the car, and tell me to run off and play while they went back home for an hour or two. And I did just that! I conjured up men and women and other children, girls as well as boys, as if in a dream, and did things with them! Me in my short trousers and knobbly knees and they like wisps of invention! I’d run here and there with my truncheon in my hand and beat them over the head! I’d march them off to the cellar room, which was the prison of my imagination, and lock ’em up! Such play was so instructive! It taught me right from wrong and more importantly it showed me how to treat those who crossed me! I locked ’em up, all right, beasts and bullies, every one of them, in the dungeons of Brainache Castle.”

“How dreadful,” sighed Miss Parr.

“Dreadful, you say, my elderly dear? No, it was creative! And more than that it turned a wimpy boy into a real man, with great thoughts forming in his unbelievably powerful mind!”

“And it didn’t risk turning you … insane, sir?” suggested Royston, carefully as though treading on eggshells and scared of making a sound.

“It made me the man that I am,” confirmed Blinky. “And look! We’re here!”

If piles of weathered stone clutched tightly to a harsh landscape made a castle, then this was a castle. The skies above it were blasted, grey and torn, not a crumbling stone wall was standing above the height of a man and the pathways were overgrown to the extent they represented little more than mantraps for careless feet rather than routes for feet to tread.

“I love this place,” sighed Blinky, “I only wish I could see it now, but my damned eyes! But still, I remember every stone, every crumbled edifice, every corner where a boy might conjure up his dreams and smite them!”

“It’s a wreck,” murmured Royston whilst Angelina remained silent, staring at the dereliction and seeing its echo in her employer’s mind.

“No-one can hide from us here!” snorted Blinky. “Come, help me and I’ll show you the dungeons where I tortured my prisoners to bleeding death! Oh what fun I had, a boy in his prime, no silly kicking of footballs about with no purpose, but defending the realm from real evil!”

He grabbed hold of Angelina and somehow managed to find her hand. Her fingers must have felt young and gentle but to him she was an elderly crone and his senses converted reality until it confirmed his judgement.

He’s mad,thought Royston.

Somehow they were guided by the dead compass of memory along paths that were actually somewhere beneath the undergrowth until they came to a wooden doorway, sill standing in its stone archway.

He’s worse than mad, thought Royston.

“There must be a door here,” mumbled Blinky, “I remember it so well, so very, very well. And when we open this door we will find ourselves at the head of a stairway that leads into my dungeon. Come, my comrades, let us descend into the chamber of hatred where the souls of the long dead still linger, waiting to escape, needing a breath of air to re-energise them!”

The wooden door creaked and splintered – but opened.

He was right about the stone steps that led down, and slowly, gingerly, Royston led the way down. He had a dim LED torch, the sort that seems bright until you see the woefully dim light they give off, a small thing on his key-ring, and he switched it on.

“I got this in a Christmas cracker,” he muttered.

They were short of the bottom step and able to pause and gaze around at the wretched space the boy Blinky had played in.

Both Angelina and Royston felt monumentally sick as they surveyed the scene dimply lit by the Christmas Cracker torch.

All around were bones with tattered rags hanging from them. Dozens of bones and dozens of skulls, small skulls of small children who had chosen this darkand evil place as their playground countless years earlier, and then been incarcerated there to die in the darkness.

“Horrible,” shrieked Angelina. “I’ve never seen such horror in my life!”

“Who … who are they?” gasped Royston.

“My torture chamber,” cackled Blinky, “the playground of my boyhood! Oh, the fun I had, the prisoners I condemned to death for sins more horrendous than any you could dream of, the dirty, filthy little beasts and their wayward ways!

“I was king down here, and the nasty, nasty creatures were my subjects!”

©Peter Rogerson 17.08.14



  1. pambrittain August 17, 2014 at 6:22 pm #

    Yikes. He is mad.

    • Peter Rogerson August 18, 2014 at 8:38 am #

      I have further maybe contradictory revelations in my mind…

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