The Blue Light: Part Twenty-Four

This is the final part of a fiction serial, in 842 words.

Sitting in the small restaurant of his two-star hotel, Roger considered drowning his sorrows by ordering a bottle of Valpolicella to accompany his -probably microwaved- lasagna, then finishing off with a few large glasses of Cognac. But not wanting to face Furlong with a hangover tomorrow, he settled on sparkling water instead.

The car was there after breakfast, and he had steeled himself to expect the worst once he arrived at the clandestine factory complex. The young woman was waiting once again, and he fancied her expression was less sour than it had been yesterday. Repeating the same routine, he followed her up to the door of Furlong’s office and went inside. But the man behind the desk was not Furlong. He was younger, casually dressed, and looked more like one of those people who played computer games. Smiling genially, the man looked up.

“Please take a seat, Roger. My name is Jonathan Spencer, and I will be reviewing the project today”. He reached across the desk and shook hands without standing up. For a long time, he read from a file on the desk in front of him, then sat back and clasped his hands.

“Okay, let’s get on with it. Your subjects had some unexpected reactions to exposure to the beam, to say the least. One man became obsessed with having sex with younger women, and driving around the country to visit random places. It’s worth noting that this was a total change of personality for him. Then his wife was accidentally exposed, resulting in frantic exercise, followed by extra-marital sex with a much younger gym instructor. As a result, she was killed by her husband, who is now serving twelve years for manslaughter, and according to the prison authorities is on suicide watch because of his depression”.

Roger said nothing, so the younger man continued.

“Now the farmer, Inchcape. Run-down farm, and chosen in the hope that the beam would inspire him to increase productivity. But for some reason not clear from your report, the beam extended to the farm of his neighbour. That ignited a fued that had been brewing for years, and they both ended up dead. Then Inchcape’s wife must have been exposed, because she decided to sell her land to a property devoloper and move to Australia. So whatever was grown there before will be replaced by expensive houses. Not looking good so far, is it?”

Spencer stopped for a moment to swig from a plastic bottle of water.

“Next we have a teenage girl whose personality changed, making her into some kind of sex kitten overnight. That destroyed the career of a reliable teacher who is now unemployed, and living in a bedsit flat. I note that she recently accused a delivery driver of asking her to get into his van for sex. Luckily for him, CCTV showed that he was nowhere near the location where she claimed it had happened. What do you say about that, Roger?”

Dry-mouthed, Roger replied. Feeling fortunate that he at least had a reason for that.

“Well, we discovered later that the girl Kirsty was sleeping in her mother’s room. Our intention had been to shake the mother out of her malaise, and get her back to work. We were not to know then that she was sleeping in the smaller room, or passing out on the sofa most nights”.

The man opposite was trying not to laugh out loud, but his shoulders were moving as he failed to control his obvious laughter.

“Let’s move on, Roger. A retired woman, who discovered her sex drive following exposure to the beam. At no time did she think about going back to work. In fact, you seem to have failed to notice that she was a librarian in a town where the library had been closed down. Did you expect her to go to work as a checkout woman at the local supermarket? Come on, the woman is as rich as Croesus. That was never going to happen. Instead, she almost sexed a sad gigolo to death. He has had to have a triple bypass operation, and has sensibly removed himself from the dating site where they met”.

Closing the folder on the desk, he sat shaking his head.

“I don’t think I have ever seen such a catalogue of catastrophe. The only positive is that it gave me a good laugh last night before I had to get up early to drive here”.

A cold feeling crept over Roger’s stomach. This was it, the end of his company. He decided to speak up.

“It falls to me to apologise. The blame is all mine, and if I could go back in time, I would have been far more careful in the choice of subjects. I understand that we will never get a government contract again, and I don’t know what else to say”.

Spencer’s reply left him open-mouthed.

“Not at all, Roger. Why don’t I order some tea? And then we can talk about those military applications you mentioned”.

The End.

The Blue Light: Part Twenty-Three

This is the twenty-third part of a fiction serial, in 817 words.

Before Roger could say anything, or even open his briefcase to show the report, Furlong launched into him.

“So, just to summarise. Your company goes to a government office with a plan, and a device to make that plan happen. For some reason unfathomable to me, the idiot you see thinks it’s a great idea, and gives you the go-ahead to implement it, along with enough funding to build a new hospital, which I am sure you will agree would have been a far better use of the wasted millions. Your crazy idea is some kind of beam that can alter the brainwaves of those exposed to it, making them feel younger, invigorated, and convinced they can do almost anything. Am I right so far?”

Feeling himself shrinking in the chair, Roger nodded, almost imperceptibly. Furlong was shaking his head as he continued.

“Stop me if I am getting this wrong, but your plan was that this would encourage older people to either stay on in their jobs, or go back to seeking work following retirement. In your addled brain, you somehow thought this would save money on pensions, as the pension age could be increased with no protest from the suddenly lively old folks. It would also compensate for the loss of the available labour market following Brexit, and provide a huge potential workforce of grey-haired people keen to work for a lot less than they might have earned before they retired”.

Roger finally got the briefcase open, but only managed one word before he was interrupted.

“But”.

The director carried on, ignoring his ‘but’.

“A test sample was authorised, with surveillance run from GCHQ at great expense. This was because your only evidence that it would work was based on laboratory apes that appeared to act much younger after exposure to the beam concealed in the blue light. But now we had to have cameras and microphones in houses, teams to follow and report on individuals, and stump up a great deal of money for your stealth drones that hovered silently above the houses to project the blue light. I also note that the tests with the apes lasted a matter of seconds, but you wanted to expose humans for between ten and fifteen minutes.”

Nodding fiercely, Roger attempted to read from his lengthy report, but he gave up when he was interrupted again.

“I cannot even imagine why you thought this would work. From what I have read about the experiment, the beam mostly induced an abnormal sex drive, with the strange effect of making those exposed to it more attractive to the opposite sex. It also increased temper and anger in most subjects, and as I understand it, not one of them felt a desire to continue working into old age, or look for a job post-retirement. Your test sample was small, and your subject choices ill-advised. Anyway, go ahead, read your report.”

It took Roger over an hour to carefully read the report, finally adding his own conclusions, and admitting some liability. He had to be very careful, as he had committed his company resources totally to the failed project, and he knew that if this interview went bad, the whole company would close down overnight. And he might never secure another government contract. In fact, there was no might about it. He would be bankrupt.

Furlong sat quietly, listening to the report. When Roger finished, he was unimpressed.

“Excuses don’t cut it, I’m afraid. One of these days, a junior minister is going to have to account for the extravagant expenditure to a parliamentary committee. And they are going to roast him alive, believe me. If you want your company to survive, you are going to have to do better than that pile of shit you have just read out to me”.

There seemed to be no way out. Roger had banked everything on the report, and the truths and half truths. He knew he had no definitive answer for Furlong, but tried his best to counter the facts.

“There are some genuine positives to take from the project, William. Some of them might even have a military application, think of that”. Inside, he knew he was clutching at straws, and Furlong’s response felt like the first nails in the coffin of his company.

“Roger, we have booked you into a hotel in Walsall tonight. I suggest you take the time to re-think what you have said this afternoon. The driver is waiting to take you to the hotel. Go and have a bath, a nice meal, and spend the rest of the time thinking about how you can possibly justify this nonsense to me tomorrow. The car will collect you just after nine, so have a good breakfast. And come prepared.”

Walking back to the car, Roger did not have a clue what he was going to say the following morning.

The Blue Light: Part Twenty-Two

This is the twenty-second part of a fiction serial, in 765 words.

Roger Calthorpe was really beginning to tire of looking at the back of the driver’s head. It had been a long drive from London, and various traffic problems had almost doubled the expected travelling time. Ministry drivers were not expected to make conversation, so any talking in the car had been limited to why it was taking so long to get to their destination.

He held the briefcase on his lap, almost afraid to let go of it. There were too many stories of top secret papers being lost, and he wasn’t about to let himself become the next newspaper headline. When the whole project had been cancelled abruptly, six weeks earlier, he was given time to prepare his full report. But the sudden summons to see the director had still made him nervous. His whole company was at stake, along with his own future.

As the car slowed and the driver indicated to turn right, Roger was a little surprised. They were turning into a service road on the edge of a run-down industrial estate just outside the town of Walsall, part of the West Midlands conurbation that seemed to be endless. Driving around the back of what appeared to be a closed-down factory, they entered a narrow service road leading to a nondescript building in the distance. The car slowed at a security barrier, and the driver showed his identitiy card to a guard who peered into the back and gave him a cursory look.

When they drove under the open barrier, Roger noticed the guard was wearing something similar to a police uniform and was also armed, as he could see a holster with a pistol visible inside it. He should have known of course, Ministry of Defence Police were protecting the facility.

When the car stopped, the driver opened the back door for him, and pointed to the centre of the building where he could see a shabby-looking sign that said ‘Reception’. “In there, sir. Someone is waiting for you”. A smartly dressed but sour-faced young woman was waiting for him. “Follow me please”. As he walked behind her, listening to the sound of her short-heeled shoes on the concrete floor, he looked around to see a completely empty industrial area that might once have housed lots of machinery used for some sort of manufacturing or distribution. At the end of the room was a long corridor, and a large metal door at the end of that guarded by another MOD policeman. He nodded at the woman and opened it before they got there.

The door closed with a loud clang behind them, and he found himself in a very different place. Hundreds of screens and computer terminals shone inside a vast room that had no other lighting and no windows. Perhaps twenty or more operatives were sat in front of curved desks, all wearing headsets and typing on keyboards. At the end of the room, twelve huge screens showed random scenes. From what appeared to be a very untidy kitchen in a house, to a lecture hall at a university full of attentive students. The woman was getting ahead of him, so he quickened his pace to keep up.

They went up a flight of stairs at the end of the room, and the woman knocked on a wooden door at the top of them. She didn’t wait after the knock, opening the door immediately, and indicating that he should go in. Roger walked into a well-appointed office that was larger than he had expected it to be. Sitting behind a desk at the end was William Furlong, also known as Director of Projects. Roger had met him before, in London. He looked up at them. “Thank you, Isla. Could you organise some tea please? And sandwiches for mister Calthorpe. He has had a long journey. Please sit down, Roger”.

There was no handshake.

Furlong went back to what he had been doing, ignoring Roger for quite some time. Long enough for the tea and sandwiches to arrive, brought in on a wheeled trolley by Isla. Then he looked up, closed a document folder, and smiled at the woman as she left the room. “Help yourself please Roger, I have already had my lunch”. Feeling self-conscious, and the briefcase still on his lap, Roger poured himself a cup of tea, which was welcome after the long drive. But he had no appetite for the sandwiches. When he saw that nothing was going to be eaten, Furlong sat back in his leather chair, and folded his arms.

“Well then. Shall we start?”

The Blue Light: Part Twenty-One

This is the twenty-first part of a fiction serial, in 789 words.

Martin had hardly slurped down a mouthful of his wine when Emma took the glass off him. “Come on now, Mark. Time to try again. I’m sure you can do better this time”. He looked up at the intense expression on her face as she slid back and forth on top of him. He had never known a woman of that age he could not satisfy, and was beginning to doubt himself for the first time.

His mouth was dry, and he could feel a pulse pounding in his temples. And Emma was no lightweight, the pressure of her body bearing down on him felt as if someone had but a sack of potatoes on his belly. Soon wishing it could all be over, he struggled to finish, hoping that his own satisfaction would coincide with hers.

But it was not to be.

“Perhaps you are hungry, Mark? It is getting rather late, so I will make you something to eat and bring it back to the bedroom”. This time he didn’t hesitate to check through the drawers and wardrobes, but found nothing more valuable than some old brooches that he quickly secreted in the inside pocket of his jacket. They were probably her mother’s as the stle was very out of fashion.

He was back on the bed trying to look keen when she returned with a plate containing two sandwiches. “Get these down you, they are both for you. I am not remotely hungry, at least not for food!” When he had eaten them, he excused himself and slipped into the bathroom, stopping to take something from his trouser pocket on the way. With a mouthful of water, he took another Viagra tablet, determined to prove to this insatiable woman that he was up to her demands.

Emma was lying on her back when he returned. She raised her head and grinned. “Ready when you are!”

Screwing his eyes closed tight, he tried to imagine the sexiest moments of his life, and was able to do the deed with some vigour. But the woman gave no indication if his extra efforts were working for her, and no sign that she had any intention of stopping.

A sharp pain around the left side of his chest reminded him that he had recently eaten two beef sandwiches very quickly. He put it down to indigestion, and continued. But then his left arm went numb, and a crushing pain spread all over his chest. It caused him to stop what he was doing, and moments later he was struggling to breathe. Emma noticed of course.

“Oh dear, you have gone very pale, Mark. What’s wrong with you?” He tried to reply, but then fell sideways off the bed onto the floor, gasping for breath. Shaking her head in annoyance, Emma picked up the house phone extension next to her bed, and dialled the emergency number. “Ambulance please, I think my friend is having a heart attack”. Then she gave her address and the person at the other end told her to look out for the ambulance in around fifteen minutes.

Sufficient time to make herself presentable and get dressed.

When the ambulance arrived, she showed the two men up to the bedroom, describing vaguely what had happened. The men looked at each other, hiding their smiles. They didn’t need the full details. After wiring him up to some machines, and placing oxygen on him, one of them turned to her. “I think he’s going to be okay, but he has definitely had a heart attack. We are going to take him to the County Hospital in Dorchester, you can come with us if you want”. Emma looked confused.

“Why would I want to do that? Just take him please”. As she showed them out, with Mark wrapped up in a blanket on the small stretcher, she noticed his car on the driveway. Closing the door, she wondered what was going to happen to that, if he didn’t make it. She had put his clothes and shoes into a plasic bag and given them to the men, but now she realised his car keys would still be in his jacket. Rather irritated, she went into the kitchen to make some tea.

The clock on the microwave told her it was two-fifty-three in the morning. That surprised her, and made her realise just how long they had been at it. Forgetting the tea, she rushed upstairs, pulled off her clothes, and stood naked in front of the window. The light should arrive in less than a minute, making her feel wonderful again.

She stood there intil three thirty, then sat on the edge of the bed until four.

But no blue light shone.

The Blue Light: Part Twenty

This is the twentieth part of a fiction serial, in 765 words.

The man who liked to call himself Mark was in fact named Martin. And he wasn’t forty, he was fifty-one next birthday, in five weeks. Hard work at the local gym, and copious amounts of black hair dye, kept him looking presentable. Add a lot of money spent on cosmetic dentistry, and using old photos on his profile, and so far he was doing okay. He usually preferred the older section of the dating site.

Seventy-plus guaranteed success, and often came with financial rewards too. In his opinion, there was no fool like an old woman. Viagra helped of course, and he regularly gave thanks for the invention of that wonder drug. This latest one was a bit younger than his recent conquests, but he was sure he could live up to her expectations.

Although the pub was in walking distance at less than a mile, Emma didn’t do walking. And she didn’t drive to meet someone she had never met before, not even in a loan car. So she had booked a taxi for the short journey, asking them to arrive at her house at five-fifty sharp.

Martin allowed twice as much time as he needed to drive from Dorchester. He wanted to be there outside the pub, when she arrived. No lady should ever be expected to walk into a hostelry alone, he knew that. Touching up the sides of his hair with black dye, fretting slightly about how it was receding at a widow’s peak, he decided he would do, and made sure to slip the packet of little blue pills into his suit jacket before leaving.

Her taxi was a few minutes late, but Emma thought that was appropriate. Although she had never been on a date with a man, or so much as kissed one other than her father, she knew that women would be forgiven for not being on time. He was there when she arrived, standing outside but looking significantly older than his profile photos. Oh well, he was still younger than her, so he would do. The twelve red roses were too much though. She might have had no experience with men, but she knew that instictively. Nonetheless, she was gracious.

“Thank you, Mark. The flowers are lovely”.

In the bar, he seemed to know how it worked, so she followed his lead. Her white wine was handed to her with just the gentlest touch of his fingers. His eyes never left her face, seemingly ignoring her ample breasts, or her exposed knees in nylon stockings. After two drinks, he suggested a meal there. Emma was ready.

“Why don’t we just go back to my house? I had a sufficient lunch, and I am happy for us to continue this meeting in the comfort of my home”. Martin was greatly relieved. He had less than one hundred pounds in his bank account, and a meal at this place might have left him without enough to put petrol in his car later. Keeping up the facade, he appeared to be surprised, but grateful. “Dear lady, that would be my pleasure”.

His ten year old Peugeot car was less than impressive, but he remenbered to open the door for her to get in, and to make suggestive hand movements as he fastened her seat belt. On the short drive back to her house, Emma let loose with a prepared speech. “Mark, you don’t have to seduce me, I am already seduced. Let’s just get into my house and get on with it. Is that acceptable to you?” He swallowed hard, and nodded.

“More than acceptable, lovely lady”.

One hour later, and Martin was breathing hard, more thankful than ever for the Viagra. He had given her his full repertoire, but she showed no sign of being even remotely satisfied. “Is that it? I will go down and get us something to drink, and then we can start again”.

He had been given little time to scope out the house and the things in it, but the cursory appraisal of the size and location, along with substantial grounds outside, confirmed she was worth plenty. The house alone woud sell for not much change from a million, and it was packed with genuine antiques inside, from what he had seen so far. Resisting the urge to open a few drawers in the bedroom to see if they contained valuables, he waited for her to come back with the drinks.

This one was worth taking his time over. He was going to try the long-haul approach, make her fall in love with him.

The Blue Light: Part Nineteen

This is the nineteenth part of a fiction serial, in 800 words.

On the fourth day of her self-imposed house arrest, Emma received a phone call from the policeman dealing with the accident.

“The passenger has woken up, and her account is that the driver was her sister, and that she was using her mobile phone to ring her husband at the time of the accident. Apparently they come from a traveller community, and were living in a caravan on an illegal site when the accident happened. As a result of this information, and considering that using her phone was an offence under law, there are no further investigations into the accident”.

Emma thanked the officer, remembering to add that she was pleased to hear that the passenger would survive. To celebrate, she drove down to nearby Weymouth, walked along the beach, and treated herself to a high tea in a very nice cafe in the town. Five nights of the blue light had made her feel very different, and as far as she was concerned, in a good way. As she drove home, she was thinking about Internet dating. Although she had never considered it previously, she was wondering what value might be placed on a sixty year-old virgin with her own house and comfortable financial situation.

That evening, some brief research led her to a dating site specialising in older members. She paid the fee to sign up for three months, and took some photos on her phone to add to her profile. Some of them were slightly provocative, at least by her standards. A low-cut dress once worn to a Christmas event, and a relatively short skirt that she had only ever worn once, many years ago. As she was compiling her profile, she noticed an email from the car repairer. They might have some trouble sourcing some parts, but the work should be completed in two weeks if they could get them. The estimate was almost three thousand pounds, but she replied by telling them to proceed.

By the time she was thinking of going to bed, the dating site had already produced five suitable matches. She discounted three of the prospects, as they were all over seventy. The last two were accepted by her, and she gave permission to disclose contact details. One, named Dennis, was a similar age, and a widower who lived in Dorset. The other was only forty years old, and looked younger in his profile photos. She liked the look of him very much, especially his bright smile and taut physique.

Not stupid by any means, Emma knew full well that if he was genuine, ‘Mark’ was not interested in her for her company, or desire for her sixty year-old body. He would be a money-grabber, perhaps a gigolo, that was obvious. But when she approved his request to contact her, she was smiling.

Two could play that game.

In the early hours, she stood naked in front of the light once again. During the short time before it went out, she experienced the delicious nerve tingle, and the brain activity that made her think about sex again. The light had awakened long-dormant feelings that she vaguely remembered from puberty. It made her realise that life was indeed short, and it was time to discover things she had denied herself.

Dennis contacted her by email the next morning. He suggested they meet in Christchurch, and mentioned a restaurant with a good reputation where he would book a table. So he didn’t want to collect her from her house. He lived in Christchurch near the restaurant. And expected her to walk into a restaurant alone to meet him. No, that wouldn’t do. Her reply was rather curt.

‘Try again, Dennis’.

Mark’s email was so predictable, it was laughable. He addressed her as if she was twenty-five, and used phrases hardly appropriate for a woman of her age.

‘Hello lovely sexy lady! I see you live in Winterbourne Abbas, not far from me in Dorchester. I have to say I don’t normally do this kind of thing, but I definitely could not resist your profile as you seem incredibly well-suited to me, classy, and very attractive. Please say you will meet me. I am happy to collect you from your home, or if you prefer I will meet you outside the Coachhouse Inn. We can start with a drink, and if you like what you see, stay on there for dinner. On me of course! Let me know soon, as I can be free tomorrow night, and I am so excited! Mark. xx’

Still lauging at that, Emma ignored Dennis’s second try and replied to Mark. ‘Yes. Shall we say six tomorrow evening at the Coachhouse Inn? That will suit me nicely’.

His reply took less than one minute to arrive. She had her first date.

The Blue Light: Part Eighteen

This is the eighteenth part of a fiction serial, in 777 words.

Emma was impressed by the turnout of the emergency services. Three police cars, two ambulances, and a fire engine. A smart traffic policeman spoke to her through the window of her car, to make sure she wasn’t injured. “I think we will have to get your car recovered to a repairer, madam. The nearside lights are broken at the front, and the impact may have damaged your steering. Someone will give you a lift home once that happens”. The he asked to see her driving licence, and took details of her insurance before asking her what she remembered about the accident.

“Oh, I remember it clearly, officer. I was heading home from Waitrose, and I was about to overtake that car when it pulled out from the inside lane unexpectedly, for no reason I can think of. There was no chance I could avoid hitting it in that situation. I didn’t even have time to apply the brakes. I hope the people in the other car are going to be alright”.

Surveying the scene in front of her, she saw one stretcher being loaded into an ambulance with the body completely covered by a blanket. Before the recovery truck arrived to take her, the second woman was removed from the car apparently still alive, an oxygen mask over her face and a stiff medical collar wrapped around her neck. The traffic policeman came and told her they would call on her at home to talk to her, perhaps tomorrow.

She told the recovery driver to take her to the main Jaguar dealership in Christchurch. Despite that being some distance away, it was the one her father always used. She would pay whatever it cost to have the Dailmer repaired, and they would give her a replacement car to use while it was in the workshops.

By the time she got home in the loan car late that afternoon, Emma was feeling very pleased with herself. She decided to have some of the good vintage Claret with her meal that evening. As she ate, she sat and thought about things. An intelligent woman, and quick-witted too, it soon occurred to her that the mysterious blue light must have something to do with it. After spending her life being so meek and mild, such a change in her character could not be explained by anything else.

That night, she slept naked for the first time in her life. When the light illuminated the curtains and woke her, she rushed to the window and opened them, standing in the blue glow. Once the light went out, she felt wonderful, and soon managed to get back to sleep.

Up bright and early, Emma opened the door to the police officers just after ten. They were very professional, declining her offer of tea or coffee, and asking her to make an official statement about the accident. Once that was noted down, she showed interest in the proceedings. “What will happen now, officer?” He looked across at his colleague before replying.

“I’m sorry to have to tell you that the driver was killed in the accident, Miss Howard. The passenger is still unconscious, so we cannot get her version of events. To be completely honest, it doesn’t look too good for her, she is on a life-support machine. I also have the information that the female driver had no driving licence, so the car was technically uninsured. You should inform your insurance company of that”. Emma made herself look suitably shocked and upset. “Oh, those poor women. Were they not wearing a seat belt?” He shook his head, and stood up.

“There are no traffic cameras on that stretch of the road, and we cannot find any other drivers at the time who actually witnessed the accident. So as things stand, there are no charges being made against either driver at the moment. Unless the passenger wakes up and has anything to tell us, it will be resolved as a tragic accident and dealt with through your insurance company. You may be required to appear at the Coroner’s Court in the future”.

Thanking them as she closed the door, Emma turned and smiled. She would inform her car insurance company, and tell them she was not intending to claim. She had more than enough money to pay for the repairs, and she didn’t want to get into any legal entanglements over a compensation claim. Although tempted to go out for a drive in the replacement car, she knew that might not be a good idea.

Best to make it look as if she was too upset to venture out so soon after an accident.

The Blue Light: Part Seventeen

This is the seventeenth part of a fiction serial, in 841 words.

In a quiet village due west of the town of Dorchester in Dorset, Emma Howard was looking out of her bedroom window with a puzzled look on her face. It was hundreds of yards in every direction to another house, and she had no idea where the strange light could be coming from. It reminded her of the floodlights that illuminated sports grounds, but this light was only shining across her garden and into the room. Although it didn’t scare her, it made the room too bright for her to continue to sleep in. As she went to get her watch from the bedside table to check the time, it went out.

Three in the morning was a strange time for aircraft, helicopters, or anything else, to be shining lights around the village, but at least it had gone out and she could get back to sleep. And there had been no sounds suggesting aircaft anyway, so she forgot about it and slept soundly.

The next morning, Emma woke up feeling full of energy for the first time since she had retired last September. After forty years in the Library Servioe in Dorset, the rumours that her library was going to be closed down came true. As she was already sixty, she took the opportunity to retire and take her pension. Not that she had much need of money, as her father had left her comfortably off when he had died fifteen years earlier, and she still lived in the five bedroom family home that she had been born in, with no debts.

Her mother had died when Emma was a child, and she had little memory of her. So as soon as she was old enough, Emma assumed the role of housekeeper, and later became the carer to her father. Because of that, she had never married, and had not even had so much as one date with a man.

That feeling of well-being extended to cooking an unusually large breakfast, then taking time to look her best for the day. Having used the last of the eggs, and needing some other groceries, she decided a trip into Dorchester for a supermarket shop was how she would spend her day. She might even have lunch in the town while she was there, something she hadn’t done since she worked at the main library.

Father’s car might have been well over twenty-five years old, but it was a very good car. He had maintained it well, and she had carried on using the same dealership when she inherited it. No longer needing her small Fiat, she had sold it for cash after advertising it in the Post Office. Starting the engine of the Daimler Double-Six, she smiled at the purring, burbling sound it made. You couldn’t buy cars of this quality any longer, and she didn’t care that the petrol consumption was so high, as she rarely used it anyway.

Emma’s preferred supermarket was Waitrose, to the north of the town. More expensive, certainly, but much better quality. The journey took less than thirty minutes, even in unusually heavy traffic. In the car park of the store, she spotted a good space fairly close to the entrance, and swung the front of the car in to claim it. The blast of a horn made her jump out of her skin, as a small Japanese car drove into the same space at speed, almost hitting the Daimler. Feeling shaken up, she reversed back, eventually finding a space nearer the back. As she locked the car, she could feel herself getting very angry.

In her entire life, Emma could not remember ever being angry. It was a weird feeling, but also felt surprisingly good.

Once she had bought her shopping, she was heading back to the car with her bags when she spotted two women walking to the Japanese car that had stolen her original parking spot. They were wearing vest tops and leggings, and one was smoking a cigarette. She also had tattoos all over her arms and neck. Just the sort of white-trash newcomers that were lowering the tone of the once sedate town. Too many new housing developments that included social housing, that’s what Emma blamed it on.

As she was driving out, so was the small white car, and she stayed behind it. The women headed west, past Poundbury, and onto the A35 main road. Still driving behind them, Emma slowed a little to make some space between the cars. Two minutes later she accelerated rapidly, reaching over sixty as she rammed the car from behind, careful to make contact with the rear corner of the bodywork. The small car lurched to the left, then rolled over. It rolled again, then came to a halt on its roof. Nobody tried to get out.

Other cars were stopping to help as she got her phone out of her bag. Sitting in her car in the inside lane, she dialled 999.

“Police, please. I appear to have been involved in a traffic accident”.

The Blue Light: Part Sixteen

This is the sixteenth part of a fiction serial, in 750 words.

When Callum arrived for work early that morning, he was shocked to discover the two bodies in the front yard of the farm. He wasn’t the brightest man in the county, but he knew enough not to walk across a crime scene to use the phone in Adam’s house. Getting back on his bicycle, he rode off into town to raise the alarm.

Hilda Inchcape looked out of the window. The pickup was gone, so no doubt Jess had made an early start somewhere around the farm. That suited her, as it gave her the chance to look up flights to Australia on the old laptop. Jess couldn’t cope with computers, and it had taken Hilda a long time to discover how they worked. But now she could buy things online, and contact the relevant authorities to do with farming by email. The previous year, she had even set up online banking, and had been very pleased with herself when that worked.

Detective Inspector Harris arrived at the farm, having been phoned at home to take the job. When he saw the two bodies and the inexperienced uniformed constable looking white-faced, he knew it was going to be a long day. Using his personal radio, he contacted the control room. “I’m going to need a full forensics team with two tents, a uniformed search team to cover the search of the house and farm, and at least two more from my team to assist for now. Can you jack that up for me?”

Harris had transferred from London as a Detective Sergeant twelve years earlier. His wife had originally come from Stroud, and wanted to be closer to her family as they got older. He had thought it might be a nice change from London. A quieter life, with less stress. He had been so wrong about that.

These country people were nutters.

Remembering she had to renew her long-expired passport, Hilda was just researching how to do that online when there was a knock at the door. Not a pleasant knock, a loud one that made her jump. There were two men in suits at the door, and a policewoman in uniform. “Mrs Inchcape? I’m Detective Inspector Harris. Could we come in and talk to you please?”

As Hilda showed them in and put the kettle on for tea, Callum was giving the same version of his statment for the third time, and wondering why he had bothered. Those coppers were acting like he had done something, and he wasn’t pleased about that. Finally losing his patience, he folded his arms across his chest, and shook his head. “Enough’s enough. I reckon it’s time I had a lawyer, and I ain’t saying no more until I get one”.

The Inspector was a nice man, respectful and considerate. Hilda could tell from his accent that he wasn’t from those parts, but that wasn’t a bad thing, in her opinion. When he told her Jess had been found dead, and had likely killed old man Brice’s son too, she had to suppress a smile. At last! Jess had gone too far, and she was finally free. No need to argue the toss with her husband about visiting Matilda. And she could finally sell the farm that had been like a millstone around their necks since her wedding day.

When he said she would have to go and identify Jess at the mortuary, she reacted a little too soon. “No problem. Just let me get my coat, and my outside shoes”.

A cursory examination of the crime scene had led Harris to an instant conclusion. Two farmers, known locally for decades of grievances, had finally taken it too far. One had shot the other, then been shot in return. It didn’t matter who fired first, as there was nobody left alive to try to lie about that. He made the decision before escorting Hilda to the mortuary, and informed the control room. “Stand down everyone else. This is a tit-for-tat shooting, and I am not looking for any other suspects”.

That was a lifeline for Callum, who was immediately released before the solicitor arrived, and was on his way home long before he would have finished work. It didn’t occur to him until later that day that he was now unemployed.

After Hilda got back from the identification, she turned on her laptop and began to compose an email. She was hoping Matilda still had the same email address when she pressed ‘Send’.

The Blue Light: Part Fifteen

This is the fifteenth part of a fiction serial, in 771 words.

When Sergeant Carlyle told Kirsty the next morning that no prosecution would go ahead, the girl closed the door in her face. Five munites later, she had looked up the phone numbers for the newspaper and TV news covering her area, and took out her mobile phone. They were both very interested in her story. The newspaper man said he would come round this afternoon with a photographer, and said her mum had to be there. The TV news woman said she would be there in an hour, so they could get the report on the lunchtime news.

Running upstairs to get ready, Kirsty went into her mum’s room and shook her awake. “Get up and get dressed, mum. You’re going to be on telly”.

Just under an hour later, Kirsty was dressed in her school uniform, and wearing no make-up. She had knee socks on, and looked even younger than her fourteen years. Her mum was slumped in an armchair smoking, wearing a sweatshirt and jogging bottoms. When the doorbell went, Kirsty was ready. Moderating her voice to sound as childish as possible, Kirsty went over the fictitious incident in great detail, naming Tom Corcoran, and occasionally wiping her eyes with a tissue. If the reporter could not see any tears, she didn’t care. The girl looked vulnerable. Her mum looked mentally ill, and the house was like a rubbish tip.

It was going to be great TV.

Before she had a chance to watch herself on the news, the newspaper man arrived early, with a woman photographer. He listened to the same tale, and the woman took dozens of photos using a flashgun. He also tried to get her mum to comment, but she remained completely silent.

An hour later, Tom Corcoran answered insistent knocking on his front door, wondering if it was the police again. But all he saw was a flash going off on a camera, a bright light on a video camera, and a large microphone thrust in his face. He closed the door again without answering any questions, then went around the ground floor oh his house closing the curtains.

By four that afternoon, the newspaper man and TV crew had gatecrashed the school, managing to get a comment from Miss Pilbeam outside the main gate. Then they went after Carlyle, who refused to answer any questions. On the six-o-clock news, it was the main story locally, and by the nine pm news, it even featured nationally, albeit less sensationally. Kirsty received so many phone calls that evening, she had to finally switch her phone off. In Tom Corcoran’s house, he stayed in the dark. He had also muted the volume of his mobile, and unplugged the house phone.

Sitting shaking on the sofa, he didn’t even want to know what Sarah was thinking.

Miss Pilbeam had tried ringing Tom so many times, she decided to leave a message on his mobile and tell him to call her. “Tom, you have to contact me. Have you seen the news on television? I think your only option is to resign. There is going to be no hope of your job surviving an internal disciplinary hearing, and at least if you resign, that might put some closure on this”.

Kirsty stayed off school for the next couple of days. She wanted to make it look as if she was too traumatised to go in. On the thrid day, there were no more phone calls, and no reporters near the house. Looking out of the window, she felt a twinge of disappointment. It had been fun while it lasted.

Tom finally listend to Miss Pilbeam’s message, and knew she was giving him the best option. He rang her directly, and tended his resignation. Then he rang his in-laws, hoping to speak to Sarah and explain that it was all a lie. But his mother-in-law answered, and refused to hand her the phone. “Give it up, Tom What you did was vile, and Sarah will never speak to you or see you again”. He decided to drive to their house, and stay outside until his wife agreed to speak to him. Looking out of the curtains, he could not see any journalists hanging around. So he grabbed his car keys and walked quickly over to his car.

Every window was smashed. All four tyres were flat, and someone had painted the word ‘Pedo’ in huge letters along the side with a spray can. Someone else had scratched the word ‘Pervert’ on the tailgate using something metal.

Glancing around to make sure nobody had seen him, he ran back inside the house.