Read Reality Bites Online

Authors: Nicola Rhodes

Tags: #Science Fiction, #Fantasy - Contemporary

Reality Bites (3 page)

BOOK: Reality Bites
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Tamar went out; Denny decided to stay at home.  He went into the garden she had created; he thought it might help him think.  The dream he had been having had been preying on his mind.  What he needed, he decided, was more information, like
who
was coming, that might be a start.

 

~ Chapter Four ~

 

T
he time had come; the shadowy figures had been gathering about Stiles in ever-greater numbers, as the man in the smoky room had predicted.  The hooded figure, who had been watching, followed the man to the pub. He was depressed, surrounded by raucous, happy drunks. He was drinking orange juice, only there at all out of custom, and a reluctance to go home to an empty house.

The watcher knew all this; it was the perfect time. Silently, like a shadow, the watcher waited behind Stiles’s chair.  When he put his glass, the hooded figure reached inside the long robes and took out a bottle of vodka and poured a large quantity into the nearly empty glass, then slipped the bottle into his coat and glided away unseen.

 

Later the hooded figure slipped into Stiles’s office.  It was nearly midnight, and nobody was about, but the watcher was cautious, silent as always.  The desk was unlocked; there was a drawer that Stiles often reached into automatically, it was empty; the watcher placed a bottle of whisky and left silently feeling a pang of distaste for these shady manoeuvrings.  Still it had to be.  Nobody could be on the watch all the time, not even the best.  Perhaps it was time to recruit some help.

 

Detective Chief Inspector, Jack Stiles was sat in his office, feeling tired.  He ran his fingers through his hair and rubbed his stubble wearily, he then patted his pockets for his cigarettes; he lit one and then leaned back, wearily.  He had just dismissed a distraught young female officer who had had a bad reaction to her first brutal case, a serial killer.  He had thought she had handled it well; she had brought the man down herself.  But when she had been faced with his grinning un-repentance, and even delight, in his evil, she had broken down.  ‘I didn’t know anyone could be so evil,’ she had sobbed.  ‘How can a human being
act
like that?  I’m sorry sir, what must you think of me?’

‘I think you’re human,’ Stiles had replied.  ‘It’s okay to be upset, what kind of a person would you be if you didn’t cry the first time you see the evil that men are capable of doing to each other?  I did.’

She had blinked in disbelief; he knew what was going through her mind. 
Jack Stiles?  Famously tough and unfeeling at his work, the archetypal hard-bitten cop, had once had feelings just like everyone else?
 

‘You
did
?’ she had said, incredulously.

‘It was a long time ago,’ he said.  ‘You toughen up, learn to cope, but you never stop caring.’  He had smiled at her. 
God was I ever that young?
  ‘You’ll be okay,’ he told her.

She had left, almost smiling, comforted.  Another good one who might have thrown it in, was saved. 
She
would
make
a
good
cop
in
the
years
to
come
, he thought.

It was late; he really should go home, but he did not want to. 
Yes, I had feelings once, and look where they got me?
 The office was dark; outside was a neon sign flickering, turning his face pink, orange, pink. Stiles stubbed out his cigarette, got up to close the blinds and then he sat down at his desk with his head in his hands. 

As it had so often before, his hand reached for the empty drawer, it was not empty; he felt his hand brush something cold and smooth, something familiar, in some surprise, he drew out a full litre bottle of Whisky. Now how the hell, had that got there?  He sat for some time, just staring at it.

 

~ Chapter Five ~

 

T
amar and Denny were at a fabulous party being held at a prestigious private club in New York. (The name of which I do not intend to tell you, for legal reasons.)  They had not been invited, naturally, but that was a minor detail.

They were not there on business, just for fun. Magic, had its perks, and, as Tamar said. ‘There have to be some compensations for all the περιττώματα we have to wade through every day’.

Denny had had his objections at first, not to the idea in principle, but to the choices of venue that the high-flying Tamar invariably came up with.  He would far rather have gone to an ordinary night club, or even just the pub.  But he was coming around to the idea, it was even fun sometimes even if he did feel out of place at times – all the time actually. Funnily enough, though, no one ever seemed to notice, even if he turned up in his jeans and half a week’s growth of stubble on his chin.

Naturally, Tamar always looked fabulous. Tonight, she was stunning in iridescent pale blue silk.  (Her dress was not bad either.)

 Denny was drunk; although he had a feeling that his headache owed more to the haw-hawing and cackling around him. He did not like the rich.  The women made his teeth ache and the men made his fists itch.

Someone else at the party felt the same way, and was about to do a lot more about it than imagine them covered in tar and feathers.

The lights all went out suddenly; this caused a certain amount of panic naturally, and it seemed that this was the reason for it since they came back on again just a minute later. As the lights came back on, the screaming and running stopped abruptly.  The ballroom was full of armed men, wearing the latest thing in armed terrorist black and sporting the latest thing in machine gun chic.  Denny warmed to them immediately. At least they were not wearing Gucci. 

Tamar sighed. ‘Everywhere I go …’ she murmured.  She waved a surreptitious hand at the weapons and disarmed them; a move that Denny did not fail to perceive.  He nodded.  At least the people were safe, for now.  Although, there did not seem to be much else she could do for them.  It was the old problem; there were too many witnesses.

The silence seemed to have been going on forever before a short, stocky man stepped forward and spoke jovially, in a slight accent, that Tamar could not place, but which reminded her irresistibly of Count Dracula.  ‘Ladies and Gentlemen, we are the people’s liberation front of –.  We do not intend you any harm at this stage, so please, do not panic.  We shall hold you as hostages until our demands are met by your government, but we would prefer you to think of yourselves as our guests.  So please no foolish heroics for your own sakes.’ 

He paused to let this sink in, then continued.  ‘You are the wealthy and the famous.  I do not think your government will let anything happen to you, heh?  It was for this reason that you were chosen.  Heh?  Our demands
will
be met, heh?  And then everybody can go home, all right, hokey dokey?  Good.’ 

This extraordinary statement was met with a stupefied silence.  From somewhere at the back of the room came a muffled sob.

‘Hokay, everybody now we are going to make a little movie, heh? For the folks back home, yes?  Leon, the video camera.’  He was smiling with all his teeth.  ‘Good, good, it is all good, heh?  Everybody happy?  Everybody wants to be in the movies, yes?  All Americans wants to be a movie star. You have chance for big break now.’

Tamar sent a thought into Denny’s mind.  He jumped; she had done this before, but not often enough for him to get used to it.  ‘There’s something funny going on here’ she told him. ‘There’s more to this than meets the eye. What do you think?’

Denny shot her an agonized glance. 

She tutted in his brain. ‘I can read your thoughts, silly.’

‘Well don’t.’ he thought petulantly. Then he simmered down ‘I think you might be right.’ he conceded. ‘This guy’s not real, he can’t be.  And what would you call that accent?’

‘Transylvanian?’

Denny choked on a laugh.

The man in question was bustling about with his video camera. ‘Now,’ he announced. ‘We make movies.  Show the man in charge who we have here, heh? Who wants to go first?’  Nobody moved. ‘Come on,’ he cajoled. ‘Everybody want to be famous, heh? After this, you
all
be famous. Some of you
already
famous, yes, that why you here, heh?’  He scanned the room. ‘Hokay Jules.’ He turned to a burly man in a ski mask.  ‘Line them up.’ Suddenly his diction was chillingly clear, and his voice lost all its joviality.

“Jules” waved the gun threateningly; he pointed to a blonde woman in a scarlet dress. ‘You.’ he said. She tottered forward reluctantly.  The leader gripped her around the shoulders in an ostensibly friendly fashion, but you could see that he had her in an iron grip that was anything but friendly. 

The woman faced the camera and stuttered out a few words then was dismissed.

Several other people did the same; the leader kept up his cheery banter in between “takes”, and the atmosphere became more and more laden with menace as the leader grew more loquacious.

He turned eventually to Tamar. ‘Your turn,’ he said. ‘You’re a pretty girl; don’t you want to be famous?  Of course you do. Come along now.’ 

Tamar fixed him with an unfriendly eye.  She faced the camera in silence.

‘Just a few words for the folks back home,’ said the leader.

Tamar grinned mischievously. ‘Okay,’ she rolled her eyes and looked directly at the camera. ‘Where’s Bruce Willis, when you need him?’

‘Don’t push it,’ Denny warned her silently, but the leader just smiled and nodded mockingly, as if she had just told him something.

That seemed to be it for the video cameos.  The whole party was herded into a small room and locked in with a burly guard.

‘What now?’  Denny asked, without a word. 

Tamar shrugged mentally, a difficult feat, but Denny got the message.  ‘I don’t know.  We’ll just have to see what happens; hope we get a chance to do something.’ 

 

 ‘Nice plan,’ thought Denny.  ‘What do we do now?’

‘At least these people won’t get hurt as long as we’re here.’

‘Granted, but still …’

‘I guess we just ride it out.’

‘We could try to find out what they want.’

‘I don’t think they want
anything
.’

‘Don’t be silly, they’re not doing this for
fun
.’

‘That’s just it, I think they
are
.’

‘Christ, we could be stuck here for
weeks
in that case.’

‘Until they get bored,’ Tamar agreed.

‘We
can’t
, we have to get out of here.’

‘I know, believe me, I’m working on it.’

‘Work faster.’

‘Why don’t
you
think of something?’

There was a long silence eventually Denny spoke.

‘We have a real problem,’ he said.

Then the power went out.

* * *

The candles flickered and flared in the darkness.  The tall, thin man walked to the head of the table and addressed the figures sitting around it.

There were five of them; a “cabal” would have been an appropriate description, although, any sort of description would have been difficult to achieve in the half light.  None of them looked directly at any of the others.

‘Gentlemen,’ said the thin man. (This was a disputable description; some of them did not even look human). ‘We have, as you are aware, hit a problem.  Our – agent – is in need of assistance.  I know – I know,’ he held up a hand.  ‘But our enemies are moving faster than anticipated.  There is one,’ here he nodded, and his audience murmured.  ‘Yes, you know who I mean.  So, do any of you have any suggestions?’

There was a long silence, and then one of the cabal spoke.  ‘Uh, what was the problem again?’

The thin man sighed.  This could take some time.

 

~ Chapter Six ~

 

T
amar was getting frantic; two days and no ideas, it was ridiculous.  On reflection, it had probably been a bad idea to restore the power, but the hostages had panicked, whereas their captors had taken it calmly, as if they had been expecting it.

There seemed little chance of the Stockholm syndrome developing.  The terrorists said little to their hostages.  After the filming, they had tired quickly of bullying and all they did was watch silently in shifts.  The leader had taken a few strolls among the hostages.  He seemed to have a fascination with Tamar.  On one occasion, when she had been pretending to sleep like the others, he had lit a large cigar and then deliberately dropped it on her.  Without opening her eyes or moving a muscle more than was necessary, she caught it between her fingers and took a long drag before opening her eyes and smiling at him. After that, he avoided the hostages entirely and insisted that they all be tied up.  Denny, who had seen this parlour trick, was annoyed and berated her at length – in silence of course.  Until she explained, that she was trying to divert his malice toward herself to spare the others.

‘I want him to hate me,’ she explained.  ‘Really hate me.’

Denny had to concede that it appeared to be working.

 

They had still made no demands or any threats that the hostages knew of.  Their calm demeanour suggested that they were simply following orders, and those orders seemed to be simple enough.  Keep the hostages tied up and watch them.  All in all, the overriding feeling, even among the hostages, was boredom.

As far as Denny was concerned the whole thing had a surreal quality to it.  He was conversant with the behaviour of bullies, and boredom usually resulted in bloodshed – as Denny’s hospital record from his schooldays would testify to.  In the circumstances, then, their behaviour was abnormally restrained.  And then there was their attitude towards Tamar, (and one other very pretty girl, come to that). There had been no leering, no suggestive remarks or fumbling hands.  In fact, they seemed almost wary around her as if they somehow sensed or had been warned that one false move and she would break every bone in their face.

BOOK: Reality Bites
10.02Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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