Nightfall, the best time to get any work done, even if it just sifting through files, photographs and text books, It was the time he could get all the information he had been gathering out of his mind and onto the page. In his later years, David Knight found solace and peace after almost a life time of fighting and watching his back with a gun in his hands. Those days were a distant memory after years, He hardly remembered a thing. His Doctor said it was a form of PTSD, he said he felt fine and unchanged but that was the issue. The reason he felt like a million was because he blocked a lot of events that had happened in his past, the Doctor said he was one of the lucky ones. yeah thank’s a lot doc, remember your first fuck? CAUSE I DON’T! Writing was David’s way of filling all the voids he had in his mind, places, characters, plots, events and twists counted for almost 50% of his life.
Music was a massive part of David’s life, nothing cheered him up more than listening to his favourite bands such as Tangerine Dream, Porcupine Tree, King Crimson and Pink Floyd. He loved the strange alien-like sounds that were not listener friendly enough for commercial radio. But since David couldn’t find other music her liked her would play the same albums over and over until he could hum every minute of one without even thinking about it. Needing something fresh he discovered the never repeating worlds of podcasts. Filled with juicy information on any topic you could think of but his topics for discussion varied from world events, more silly, fan boy themes he loved.
He brushed back his growing, greying hair as he stared down at the pages lay out on the floor about the conception of his home town of Littleton. His mind was awash of dates, plans and names of people in charge of development. God, this shit is boring, he sat back and rubbed his eyes in frustration before some sweet sounds soothed his ears. His two girls ran into the office happily after their bath, they both jumped on him in excitement.
“I thought you’d both be in bed by now” he said taking control of them and settling them down on his lap.
“We have to say goodnight don’t we?” Harley asked, at eight years old she was so much like her mother in looks and in temperament. Janie was different from he older sister, she was much more laid back and less hyper.David always thought she looked like his mother.
“Well goodnight you two” he said giving them both as kiss on the cheek. His wife Debra showed in the doorway with the light shining behind her. She was everything he had hoped for in his teenage fantasies. All the other lads wanted a slender girl with a huge arse. All David wanted was a girl he could hold by the curves that were in all the right places, and Debra was just that, Bright natural blonde hair, a pretty face which made her look like she was still in her late twenties. If he had still been that nervous young boy now, he’s be stuttering though sentences with her like her had a clapped out motor in his throat.
“I promised them if they settled enough in the bath for me to get them clean, you’d tell them a bedtime story” she said with a smile as she leaned against the doorway of his study with a gloating grin.
“Oh well” he said standing up holding them both on each of his strong arms “since I don’t have a say in this, looks like I’ll just have to” he smiled at his daughters as he carried them off to their room. Debra tried not to make eye contact and grin but it was clearly too much effort, The look her gave her seemed to say “I’ll get you back for this”
Harley and Janie still shared a room and would for another year or so until they could afford to extend the house a little bit more. He flopped them both onto their beds and tucked them in tight and warm. Pulling up a chair between the two of them her flicked through the book collection on the night stand.
“Dad, can you not just make a story for us?” Harley asked clearly bored by the repetitive children’s books she’d listened to over the years.
“Yes, tell us one of your stories” Janie agreed
They were both very much like him in that way, not into what all the other kids were into, they liked the darker side of things. Harley loved to watch Goosebumps after school and Janie was growing out of the princess and pony phase pretty fast also.
“I’m not sure you will like any of my stories girls, at least not until you’re a little bit older” he explained, not that they wouldn’t be cheering for the scary stuff but he had never been able to simplify things for a younger audience. “have I told you girls about “The Phantom of the Opera?” he asked putting on a spooky act for them.
“I love this one” Harley said grinning like a Cheshire cat, looking over at her little sister.
“I haven’t heard it before” Janie said, clearly confused by the title of it
He felt it was a good story to tell them, he could keep it pretty mellow and not scare them too much before they had to sleep. It was a classic story so it couldn’t fail. For forty-five minutes he acted out, voiced and reacted to the tale which was still very fresh in his mind and they loved it. By they end they were getting sleepy, so to send them off nicely he even added his own little Epilogue to cap it all off.
As he took a slow wander back to his study, he scanned the walls and observed the framed posters that hung solidly on them. The posters were a symbol of his accomplishments in the world of writing over the past ten years. The titles really stood out, almost like they were shouting out their own importance. “The Miner” his first novel which he felt would have just been treated as another cheap horror story which you could find in the bargain bin of any book shop, made a loud enough noise among readers to have his name be spoken among them in terms of how he would follow it on. “Running Scared” was his next piece, he ditched the blood, guts and supernatural scares for a more real fear in the ways of a devil worshipping cult. This catapulted his career into the light and which helped him provide for his family and be home almost full time. Titles poured out of him like water from a broken bucket and her just kept churning them out over and over. His talent was evident but his passion began to die out. He realised that what he was writing was playing to what would sell in the publishers eyes, his latter work he really was not a fan on. He’d sold out before he even started and it made him sick. His last book “The Fields” was a ghost story he really wanted to tell and sold purely on his name alone, he didn’t know it was something his readers wanted to read but he didn’t really care, it was something he wanted to write. As much as he was determined he was going to write what he wanted to the next obstacle came up, he didn’t know what to write anymore. But something he learned from an early age was if you get hit a block, start again and that what was he was going to do.
The podcast was still playing through his computer on the desk where Debra sat looking through his research really deep in thought as she didn’t acknowledge his presence. He stood for a moment or two watching her as she took a highlighter to the page she was reading, being an English teacher he trusted her judgement and wouldn’t dare accuse her of meddling in his work. He always thought she was destined for much more than just your run of the mill English teacher, but it was a job she loved and what she always wanted to do.
“Have I missed anything?” He ask with a light grin as she looked up at him, the glow from his desk lamp washing over her.
“No, I don’t think so, you’ve highlighted some very key points here” she said looking back over the research as he approached and leaned over her shoulder.Her scent made him feel warm inside, rose oil which perfumed her skin cream she would use after her shower.
“The land was bought by Raymond Day back in 1955, he wanted to build homes affordable for the working class in a quiet area” she began to read a page about the towns inception as if she was reading to one of her classes. “The process of getting a full hold of the land proved difficult for him, at first the hunt for finding who owned the land lead Day on trail which would lead him to a branch in the government who would not sell as they wanted to use the land to build satellite facilities.”
David took a seat and relaxed back as he lit up a cigarette to drift into mellow haze as he listened to Debra tell him the history of Littleton. “everything almost looks the same, just a lot more cleaner back then” she said browsing through the photographs. Many places around the town were still in development as the photographs captured what was the birth of the town of families moving into their new homes, happy and content with fresh new life.
“Honey, why don’t you get off to bed? you’ve been taking care of the kids all day, i can finish up here soon” he told her, knowing once she got her mind started on something there was no taking her away from it. She looked up with a sleepy grin and nodded before getting up coming across to give him a kiss on the cheek “you won’t be too long, will you?” she whispered
“No not at all, i’m getting pretty tired myself, just need to settle on a starting off point for tomorrow” she said back kissing her on the lips before she left trailing a hand up his chest and off his shoulder. He sat for a moment before heading back over to his desk and activating his coffee machine as he looked over the photos Dawn was looking over. Part of the fun in this was trying to see if he recognised anything of present day in the black and white photographs. The Cinema, the Library and the secondary school where almost hard to miss. The shopping high street was still under construction but you could see the main road which stretched from Leafwell to Harrington at the top of the street, something stood out in the far background. Three black military style vehicles travelling along the road, close together. No other cars were on the road, just the strange, eerie single file line of cloak and dagger looking trucks. He calmly chewed on his bottom lip as he studied the photograph, a cloud of familiarity was looming over him as the back of his neck tingled.
He felt the rain lashing down on his face when he looked up and drumming hard on his helmet. His hands bare and stinging from the immense cold, what a night to be out on patrol, only 2 more hours left and then sleep for 4 hours before his next rude awakening. His feet where in agony but it was a pain he had come to be used to these days until the time he could take off his boots and bask in the relief which he thought felt better than a good old wank. Protection detail was the worst, nothing ever happened and whenever it did it was only minor, no cause for alarm, at least that’s what he was always told. The thought they had a right to know why they were guarding a place which they knew nothing about but all he got in return was the whole “don’t ask no questions and move on” talk which shut him down in his tracks.
He stopped and reached into his pocket for a packet of cigarettes, holding his rifle in the crook of his arm as he lit it and took the longest drag before blowing out the cloud which twirled and faded into the night sky. He knew fine well smoking was bad for his health and would no doubt be having some effect on his fitness but he really didn’t give a fiddler’s fart, as his father would say. for a short minute he felt like he was in heaven until he was startled from behind
“come on lad, get feet movin” Phillip “Flash” Matthews moved into his line of view with a mischievous grin and stuttering laughter. He was a small, skinny lad who hailed from stoke-on-trent and his accent really got on people’s nerves when he talked too much.
“you daft little fucker” he said trying to collect himself “you scared the living shite out of me” he felt his heart rate slowing down and seizing to pound against his rib cage. He and Phil had joined up together and became friends from that day on. Phil was very confident and cheeky for his small stature and was one of the best boxers in the reg. David was a much bigger lad, not body builder like but natural something they would work years to achieve themselves. They were very much an odd couple and many people would say that their personalities had been switched at some point.
“got to be on your toes mate, cause the enemy will cap ya if your not” he said slowly walking back as David followed.
“I’ll fucking cap you in a second” David grinned, pretending to raise his rifle.
“Mate you couldn’t hit the ground if you tripped over your shoelace”
“thought you had the night off?” David ask as he and Phil walked side by side down the road which was right next to the danger zone, the only place they could not go into.
“I did” he said “But the boys are playing cards, i can’t sleep and there’s only so much you can read an out of date library book”
The walked on a little more until they got closer to the gates of the danger zone, the gate was padlocked with a heavy, thick chain binding the two together.
“Thinking about what’s in there?” Phil asked reading the deep in thought expression on David’s face
“Haven’t been able to think about anything other” he admitted not looking at his friend, instead looking at the a stark, grey building with black windows. David hated secrets, even if they were for good reason but the thought of information that was to be kept from him kind of pissed him off. Then there was the thought of finding out the secrets, and that chilled him to the bone and made him not want to find out the secrets.
“it’s probably nothing more than daft government plans, where the annual budget is going and what factories to close down, shit like that” Phil said
“I just bloody hope that’s all it is” David said, letting some of his fear slip out
“Come on Dave! you’re not not actually spooked by that place are you?” Phil asked at a hint of disbelief that his larger formed friend was actually showing fear.
“Not of it, more of what could be in it” he admitted
“David, there is nothing in there” Phil tried to brush it off
“Alright then, well why is it being guarded twenty four seven by armed military?”
Just as Phil was about to answer, they heard the alarm ringing out around the camp, looking around as all the spot lights came on. The lights searched the area, holding on them for a few seconds before moving off and scanning the perimeter. Door busts open and the men came running out, some hardly even dressed but dare say they don’t do their part. David looked up to see a helicopter, fast approaching in the night sky with it’s lights blinking, The whole place had went ape shit in the matter of sixty seconds.
“Alright men, just keep calm out there and wait for further instructions, warning do not shoot on sight, repeat DO NOT SHOOT ON SIGHT” the voice of Rory Brighton boomed over the speakers like big brother from nineteen eighty-four. Phil followed by example as the others made their way closer to the main cargo gate which was being unlocked.
“what is it?”
“a fire?, explosion? could be an outbreak”
“Nah, it’s a false alarm…please Christ be a false alarm”
Speculations were all a buzz as they all took position near the gate pointing their fire arms as the helicopter began to descend behind them, David could feel the force of the propeller blades on the back of his neck. Rory was soon on the scene, dressed in a pair of boxer shorts, combat boots and a green vest. His hair grey and ruffled as he had just gotten out of bed. He was approached by the man who had come from the helicopter, two heavily armed personnel by his side as he made straight for Rory.
“You were given the strictest orders, none of your men are to pass into the danger zone under no circumstances, Sargent” The main said in a calm but authoritative tone.
“I assure you, I have told my men this of high importance, Sir. If any of them have gained entry then they did of their own accord against my orders” Rory explained as the man just stared onto the cargo doors as the gates were unlocked and pulled open. Two more armed personnel rushed in wearing gas masks and holding their guns ready for any surprises. David saw one of them get right up to the control pad at the side and quickly move back halfway down the road leading to the cargo bay as the door began to open.
“HOLD YOUR FIRE LADS” Rory shouted turning to us all to see us positioned ready to shoot at whatever were were to. The door opened slow and loud, nothing but darkness was seen, maybe the hint of a few boxed stacked at the side of the entrance. The man with in the grey overcoat raised a megaphone to his mouth and called out.
“This is Officer Fredrick Pike” he started “Come out with your hands up now and nothing will happen to you, If not, my men will enter and shoot on sight do you hear me?” He said clearly enough to make the dead understand.
Soon after that there was moment and everyone who had a weapon re aimed and checked they were ready to fire, Rory again told us to hold until the order was given. In the gloom a figure could be seen moving forward, slowly and struggling. David looked up from his sight for a less distorted view to see what it was. Chatter started once it was clear enough to see it was someone wearing one of their own uniforms.
“That’s it, come out, nice and slow, hands up” Pike said through the megaphone which bounced into every empty corner of the open ground.
The figure moved forward further into the light to show it had very little left of it’s hands to raise, one whole arm was missing at the shoulder, the brilliant flash of white bone could be seen splintered in the socket. The other was torn of just below the elbow nothing but red tendons and veins hanging out of the chewed stump.
“Oh god…” was all Rory could see as he came into full view, the men further down the road were now backing off away from the approaching, chewed up mockery of what was once a man.
“It’s Jake!” a voice called from the group, David looked around him to see that one of his fellows Jake was not aiming with them, the thing they were aiming at was Jake. His face melted, skin fused over one eye, no nose and lips and part of his cheek burned completely from his face. The bottom half of his face held in a grotesque, skeletal grin with flesh still falling away in a viscus mess on the ground. David was paralysed at the sight and all he could see what what used to be a friend of his, one eye open in immense horror as he stared forward, legs buckling causing him to lunge.
“DROP HIM!” Pike shouted and in a split second the bullets from all four armed men tore though Jake’s body, ripping chunks out of him as blood seemed to turn to red mist which clouded lingering in the cool air. The final shot hit Jake in the jaw at and angle, shattering it and blowing out the back of his head before he fell to the floor. All David could do was watch without any emotion, tears streaming down his face in shock.
There was a long silence as steam rose up from the lifeless hunk in the middle of the road, no movement, Pike turned to Rory.
“you just killed one of my men” He said fuming “without warning you shot him down dead”
“He was dead the moment he went into that place, Sargent” Pike said coldly with no flinch in his eyes whatsoever.
David suddenly came to when he felt the burning between his middle and index finger, flailing his arm around as the hot butt of the cigarette fell to the floor. He brought his scorched fingers to his mouth as he stamped out what was left of the cigarette. He sat back, one hand rubbing across his eyes and coming away wet with tears, he’d never had tears after a bad dream. Then it hit him, it was not a dream but a memory. A memory he had buried long ago, now wishing he left it buried.