Chepstow

Thrillers

DIVINE INTERVENTION by Liz Woods

It had been a grey, murky day, typical of late November. Darkness was starting to creep in and Jinny hurried along the canal bank. She was not used to being without her dog, Casper but she had been to visit an elderly lady in the village and Jinny had decided that to take her slobbering, albeit friendly mastiff would have been inappropriate. She hoped David, her husband, would be home by the time she got there. He had been to watch a local football match with his friends and they had planned a relaxed evening at home together.

Jinny grew closer to the narrow bridge that led over the canal to the farm beyond. Then it happened. A tremendous feeling of anxiety swept over her, like a tidal wave, leaving her shaking with fear!
“Oh God, what is going to happen?” she gasped.

All her life she had had to accept and respond to the overwhelming feelings of premonition that at times brought her life to a stand still. When she was young, she was unaware that these experiences were not “normal” but as the years went by and she continued to give quick advice and warnings to her family, they realised, gradually, that she had some special power of insight that could not be ignored.

Something was wrong.......somebody was in danger!

Jinny stopped by the bridge and looked carefully around. She couldn't see or hear anybody. “Think! Think!” she told herself. She breathed slowly to control her shaking. Should she try to move back to the village or try to reach her cottage.

She groped in her coat pocket and found her mobile. She crouched down low beside the bridge and quickly sent a text to David. “Help. Canal. Bridge to barn”. Just as she looked up over the side of the bridge, she saw a flash of light in the barn in the field. Then it disappeared. That was her signal. The owners of the farm had rented out the fields but the barn was always locked. She had no choice – she knew that. Somebody was in danger.

She bent low, crossed the bridge and started up the lane. She avoided going in the field but kept to the track so that she could not be seen from the barn. Then she crept across the hedge behind the barn and stood listening. Silence.......silence.......then a sudden shriek!

Jinny looked around her and, despite the gathering gloom, spotted a heavy stick in the hedge. She checked it wasn't too brittle. Now she must try and see what was happening.

David was driving happily along in his car. It had been an excellent afternoon, the team he supported had won and as usual, he had really enjoyed seeing his mates. He was now looking forward to a relaxed evening with Jinny. He smiled when he heard the blip of his mobile – he knew it would be Jinny. As he reached some traffic lights, he quickly read the message. “Christ! Oh God!” the expletives poured out of him and he felt himself start to shake. As soon as the lights changed he stopped at the first lay by and reread the message. What should he do? Please don't let anything happen to her.

Think.... think. Of course! He quickly started moving and drove as fast as he could to the next village where the local PC was a friend of his. He pounded on the door and when Peter answered, thrust the mobile towards him. “Read this quickly”. “Blimey! OK. Give me a minute.” The copper raced to the office and David could hear his frantic call for back up support. “Come on,” Peter yelled at him. “We will drive as far as your cottage and go along the canal. The others will come from beyond the barn.”

Part of the barn was stone built, with narrow slits for ventilation. Jinny eased herself up through weeds and thistles to get close to the wall and then peered through. A lamp had been put on the barn floor and the light, although dim, was enough to reveal the sordid scene. A woman was lying on the floor with her hands over her face, trying to protect herself from the kicking blows being rained on her by a large, gesticulating, evil man. “You will sign this paper or you will die! Are you listening, you stupid bitch! Do really think I am going to lose out on this money!” “Alright,” the woman gasped. “I will sign but please stop hurting me!”

Jinny had heard enough. She moved as quickly as she could around to the front of the barn and saw a small wooden door that was slightly ajar. She crept towards it and peered through the gap. The woman was still on the floor but starting to move slowly and the man had his back to Jinny. She had no choice. The man would kill the woman as soon as she signed the paper. She gently pushed the door centimetre by centimetre. Then Jinny realised the woman had seen her. “Please please don't let the man realise I am here!” she begged the woman silently. To her relief she heard the woman say, “I am so sorry, I have been wrong, you can have all the money.”

The man grabbed her by the hair and pulled her to her feet. “Just sign”. Swaying slightly from shock, the woman took the pen the man offered her and deliberately turned a little to face Jinny to ensure that the man could not see her. Jinny crept as slowly as she could, praying silently with every movement. The paper was signed...the man stepped back and pulled a gun from his pocket. “You stupid woman. Did you really think I would let you live?”

Luck is often what makes the difference between success and failure. Luck was with her. She moved forward the final metre, drew the stick back and hit the man with every ounce of strength in her body. He fell heavily to the floor. Jinny raced forward and half carried the woman out through the door. She was terrified the man would recover and come after them. She started moving along the side of the barn with the woman gasping and crying beside her when suddenly the whole field seemed to light up.

“Jinny oh Jinny are you alright?” Her beloved husband raced towards her and hugged her. The field seemed full of police and suddenly, Jinny sank down to the floor.

She opened her eyes and saw David leaning over her. “It's all over. You saved her!”

She was in an ambulance and the woman was on the bed beside her. Peter their friend was stood looking down on her. “Perhaps you should join the police force, Jinny. We could do with brave people like you.”

Later that night, Jinny and David were relaxing in front of the fire at home. “Well, that was an interesting day my love. May I ask you if you have anything planned for tomorrow?” They smiled at each other.

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FOOTSTEPS IN THE FOG - by Hermoine Ford

Marianne turned the collar of her coat up as she came out of her office building, She could feel the swirls of fog building in the cold November night; in fact the acrid taste was already on her lips.

‘Oh blast,’ she thought, ‘that’s all I needed.’ She struggled as a newly-separated 20-year old mother, there was always too much month left at the end of her money. By the end of the month she couldn’t afford the bus fare so she walked part of the seven mile journey to the nursery where she collected her two-year old daughter and took her home. Thank goodness it was Friday, but it looked like being a long night.

The bus chugged along, quite slowly, and Marianne got off halfway to her destination. Trudging along, the fog was getting thicker and more unpleasant. She pulled her scarf around her mouth in an effort to shut out the fog, but there was little point. She seemed to be walking forever, when she came to Newsham Park, which allowed a short-cut to the nursery, so she walked along the path around the lake. Normally this was a pleasant walk with greenery and ducks swimming sweetly around, which always relaxed her. To the left of the lake there were lovely houses, now hardly visible in the fog and fast-disappearing light.

Suddenly Marianne thought she heard footsteps. So she stopped and so did the footsteps. She started to walk quickly, and again the footsteps seemed to be behind her. Fog and footsteps, she thought, what could be more terrifying? She started to run and made her way to where she remembered the houses. She could hardly see them, but pushed open a gate and ran up to what she assumed was a front door, banging on it loudly.

At that moment a hand went over her mouth and a voice said ‘Did you think I wouldn’t catch up with you, bitch?’ Her chest tightened and her body went into total shock. Marianne’s first thought was what would happen to her daughter, as she tried to work out how to tackle her assailant. She could vouch for the expression ‘paralysed with fear’ as her body became numb.

Just as she thought that she would pass out, a dog barked from within the house and the door opened onto a well-lit hallway. A man standing there said, ‘Yes, can I help you?’ With that, the assailant turned and ran off without her even setting eyes on him.

Marianne collapsed in a faint into the hallway and was taken into the house where she explained why she was walking through the park on such a terribly foggy night.

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I JUST CALLED TO SAY I LOVE YOU by Liz Eastham

The red light is blinking

The flash of fear feels like a knife

I steel myself to press the button

Your voice comes to life

Words on a tape

My whole life is taking shape.

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By what you command of me

And now you have gone

I am deaf to your words

But you still have power in silence.

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PERIL AT THE PALACE by Stephen Henig

The secret underground station constructed beneath the British museum has been closed to the public since the war. The line is used to deliver priceless exhibits safely to the basement of the museum. My name is Smiley. Because I knew the late Mr Davenport who owned the Magic shop opposite the portico, I had a key which opened the front door of the shop and also unlocked the trapdoor within leading to the lost world beneath the pavement.

On impulse I used my keys and turning on the lighting within, descended counting the steps . There were thirty nine in all. Davenport and his son had been down. I was The Third Man.

The platform of the old tube station was well lit, crowded with museum staff unloading crates for the Chinese exhibition of terrocotta soldiers for the museum above. In time of war, priceless treasures could be saved using the secret tube. I scurried into a tunnel and remained there in darkness behind the crates.

The porters finally left leaving the lamps on. Was I alone at last? I felt uneasy. There was a faint scraping from a crate nearby as if the wooden staves were being fractured by a powerful beast within. I am sorry to say Davenport used live animals in his magic shows and he ran a private zoo beneath the London pavements near to his shop. Nothing he ever did was legal.

I struck a match and saw my worse fears were true. The top of a huge container bulged from within. I heard a furious roaring as the wood splintered and a huge head like a giant labrador, covered with red fur emerged, swaying in the maintenance hall, The ferocious looking beast glared at me.

The crate overturned. I imagined the creature had my scent in its nostrils as Was it an alien? a predator? If so the War of the Worlds had begun. The red haired monster padded towards me.

I tried to run backwards to the Orient Express, my cargo train, but the latter had left the platform. A little light flickered into the tunnel as the ghost train departed. However towering above me and salivating into my hair was the rampant beast. I clutched at the nightmare apparition and tore at the hairy breasts of the monster, I snatched a handfull of the furry hair. I wailed. The train had gone. The breath of the monster warmed my cheeks, I could see only the nightmares teeth glowing horribly in semi-darkness.

I remembered Davenport had lost his dog in the maze-like tunnels beneath the pavement last month just before he died like Fu Man Chu in a magic performance. He had tried unsuccessfully to catch a bullet in his teeth. What was the lost hounds name?

“Baskerville” I screamed, remembering. “Can you hear me?”

I saw by the safety light the familiar labrador and he remembered me instantly. As I am a Buddhist and in my terror I chanted.

The distracted beast shrank back as I staggered into the arms of an army officer who half carried me to a disused ticket office.The army personal guarding the Chinese treasure took my clothes to test for DNA. I could be a terrorist. The army officer interrogated me.

“We sent sharpshooters into the tunnels but they shot one another.” he said. “The creature controlled their minds and is indestructable. It was illegally imported by the late Davenport from Tibet.”

The Yeti!” I whispered.

The DNA result is baffling. We tested samples last week, relics from eight Himalayan monastries. The hair you plucked from the monster belonged to a species of bear living ten thousand years ago . The creature was the common ancestor of the modern polar and the brown bear. The creature should be extinct. It is so ferocious, fearless and powerful that the last living specimens became more than legend in Tibet.

“Is it the yeti !” I whispered. “The abominable snowman. So its an ancient bear not an ape”

”Down in the underground a prehistoric monster lurks. It has awesome powers. Only you and that wretched hound seem able to stand up to the beast. You came uninvited to the secret railway. Help us now. The next station that way is located under Buckingham Palace. In time of war that is how we would save the Royal family. Suppose the yeti surfaced there. What would Prince Philip say to Her Majesty?

“Nothing!” I replied “Old couples dont talk. They just bare their teeth at one another.”

“In the name of Davenports magic shop, the faithful Baskerville and the elgin marbles, the Secret Service and all things British, confront the Yeti” snapped the army man.

“The Elgin Marbles are Greek and so is Prince Philip,” I protested.

I walked slowly in the tunnel with a torch followed by faithfull Baskerville who was chewing an antique chinese biscuit he had found. The yeti blocked my way, Again I felt its fetid breath. Once more I marvelled at his gleaming teeth as it stood up full height. Fearlessly I approached chanting. I was a Buddhist afterall and the yeti might be too. The chanting worked. I was the pied piper of the ice age and the bear obeyed me. We walked for ages down the well-lit secret railway and ultimately passed the secret station signed Buckingham Palace and finally, near exhaustion, we reached a concrete bunker under the Houses of Parliament. The station was illuminated.The bear bounded up the stairs, knocking a door off its hinges and disappeared from sight.

The Queen and Prince Philip were safe. There might be a General Election if the yeti made a complete beast of himself in the chamber. I was frozen cold and began my long treck back. I was the spy coming in from the cold. Mission accomplished, Mr. Bond.

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VIRTUAL DOG by Ingrid Artzman

We saw the advert, just the thing for us:

NHS scheme:
BOARD A PUPPY FOR A YEAR
AND DEVELOP A COMPANION FOR THE OLD AND DISABLED .

We wanted a dog but they are a tie; we know that from previous experience. This could be a way of discovering if a dog would suit our current lifestyle, to test our committment and, it is for a good cause.

The application form was filled in and sent. After a week Susan arrived. She would be our contact person. We were interviewed, and the garden was inspected. All we needed were the personal references and CRB, or DSB as they are now called. We got a lot of information on how to look after the puppy. We had information on vaccination, worming and defleaing, how much to feed and how to house train. Everything would be at no cost to us; food would be sent when requested, vet’s bills would be paid direct by the NHS.

Another three weeks and he arrived, a black ball of labrador fluff, five appendices and a pink flap at the pointed end. His name was Pluto. He was 12 weeks old when he arrived because of all the inocculatio