Saturday, June 30, 2007

Revolution! Part Seventeen

In the archives, Mr. Popple, a man who was as Dickensian as his name might have suggested to someone who had never read those sort of books by Dickens, unfolded the story to an eager Andrea.

"What do you know about Jack the Ripper?" he asked her curiously.

"The most famous serial killer in the world," Andrea shook her head. "Never caught, he used to kill Prostitutes and leave taunting letters for the Police. The murders gave a boost to the modernisation of detection."

"Jack the Ripper is officially credited - if that's the right word - with five murders," Mr. Popple told her. "All of the victims were prostitutes, and all were killed in the Whitechapel district of London. Some people have suggested as many as eight victims, some as few as four. The killings followed the same pattern, and the corpses were mutilated. Most experts now think that the letters which identified the man as 'Jack the Ripper' were written by someone else as part of a sick hoax."

"Boo!" Andrea pouted, "that's the best bit!"

"And it might be genuine," the archivist confessed, "but that seems to be doubtful. Anyway, that's no why you're here, is it?"

"No," Andrea smiled, "tell me about your research."

"It's only partly mine," the fat man told her. "In fact, the instigator was an ... er... associate of yours. He wanted a definitive answer about the number of Ripper murders, and I put together a database of all serial killings in London and it surrounding area over a twenty-year period. I was shocked by what I found!"

"How so?" came the obvious question.

"I thought I might find few similar crimes in the immediate area," Popple told her. "Instead of which I found several in Cardiff and Glasgow, also unsolved. Widening the search, I found that these crimes were all connected with areas possessing a high Jewish, or other ethnic minority population."

"What then?" Andrea pressed further.

"Then," a new voice broke in, "I became involved."

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Revolution! Part Sixteen

Andrea was a little late arriving at City Hall, having taken time out to visit Covent Garden. Still, she was used to keeping people waiting, and in her experience no-one ever really minded it.

City Hall, a large modern building that somewhat resembles a head, sits on the banks of the Thames, close to Tower Bridge. It was designed by an award winning architect, and thus is an eyesore.

She walked up to the entrance and leaned on the recption desk, a smile on her face. The receptionist, a young woman of Asian extraction, looked up at the redhead, returning her smile.

"Hi," she nodded, "I'm Felicity, can I help?"

"Andrea Van," the redhead hoped this girl hadn't got any contacts at Scotland Yard. "I'm supposed to be meeting someone here - a guy from the achives."

"Yes," the girl checked the appointments file on her computer. "Mr. Popple. He should be waiting for you over there." She indicated a fat man who was snoring gently on an easy chair.

Andrea walked over to the man who had to be Mr. Popple, and prodded his stomach. He woke, flapping and looking affronted.

"Young lady!" he looked up at the smiling redhead, "I'll have you know that that just isn't done! What do you want, anyway?"

"I'm Andrea Van," she told him, smiling, "and I am sorry for that."

"If you atre anything like you were described," he told her sternly, "I very much doubt that. You want to look at the archives, do you?"

"My associate told you what I wanted," Andrea declared, hoping he had, since the Green Man had not told her.
"Well yes, of course," he snorted. "Appearances of Jack the Ripper or Ripper-like crimes in London outside the official tally. Am I right?"

"Guess so," Andrea sighed. "Fire away."

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Revolution! Part Fifteen

Andrea was woken up by the insistent ringing of the 'phone by her bed. She reached for it sleepily and groaned incoherently into it. She resented being woken up so early in the day. The first rays of dawn were breaking over the city, reflecting in the water of the dock it was next to.

"This is the Green Man," came the familiar voice. "Andrea, Ms. Madison has been gassed by a mysterious figure by the Bank of England."

"An' you did nothing to help her?" the redhead shook her head. "What exactly's going on?"

"Something terrible," the Green Man told her. "I did not intervene when I saw the man who gassed Ms. Madison."

"You mean this 'Jack the Ripper' character," Andrea declared, "who is he?"

"I don't quite know," the Green Man told her. "But I have my suspicions. You see, I've met the man before. Long before any of you were involved with me."

"You mean an unsolved case?" Andrea's eyes widened.

"I don't," the Green Man told her. "The case was solved, and the man whose suicide marked that didn't kill himself. He was a serial killer, but he said that the spirit of the Jack the Ripper made him do it. And the figure he described was the man I saw gas Ms. Madison."

"Real live ghost, huh?" Andrea laughed. "Do you really mean it?"

"Perhaps," the Green Man replied. "Do you believe in evil, Andrea - real evil?"

"well, sure," the red head shot back. "I see enough of it, don't I?"

"What about the devil?" he asked again.

"What do you mean?" she demanded.

"City Hall," the Green Man told her. "Two hours. Ask for John Popple, the archivist. He knows what he must do."

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Revolution! Part Fourteen

Ms. Madison came to slowly. Her head ached, and her mouth was dry. She felt as if she'd been on the bender to end all benders. And she hadn't even touched a drop. What upset her a little was that someone had undressed her to her underclothes - and she'd even thought that she'd avoided that bit, and that was annoying.

"So," she heard a low voice, "you are awake at last."

"No," Ms. Madison groaned. "I'm still fast asleep. You must be hallucinating."

"You have spirit," the voice, that of the cloaked figure, declared admiringly. "That I shall grant you."

"Good." Ms. Madison shot back. "I like to think I can still crack the occasional joke. "Is the Bank of England blowing up?"

"I allowed you to succeed," the man replied. "But you may not be so lucky later, my dear."

The blonde shook her head, smiling wryly. This was all too priceless, and she was going to milk it for all it was worth. This man was giving her enough rope to make a good try and tangle him up.

"In other words," she noted, "you had a reason to keep the bank from blowing up. Maybe you don't actually want a revolution."

"oh, no..." the man chuckled softly. "There you are wrong, my little detective. "I want a revolution, London in flames. And before you ask me who I am, permit me to tell you. I am the Devil."

At which point the man began to laugh wickedly.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Accused by a Dead Man's Head

Gabris Rabinski looked across the courtroom to the judge and jury. He stifled a smug smile. He was about to get away with murder. A labourer on a farm in upstate New York, he had been in love with a girl on the farm. A fellow labourer, Thomas Maika, had also been sweet on her, and when Rabinski had seen her kissing Maika, he had waited until Maika was alone, then beaten his colleague's head in. He had been caught, but only hearsay could connect him with the killing. Whenever the witnesses against him spoke, Rabinski, a Hungarian, accused them of being devils and liars.

This court had to prove him guilty 'beyond all reasonable doubt,' and Rabinski knew there would always be doubt.

One of the main exhibits in the case was Maika's skull, so shattered that it had to be wired together. Rabinski despised it, as he had despised the man whose flesh had clothed it.
During the case, however, the table was jogged, the skull rolled off the attorney's desk and went rollong across the floor. Rabinski could only watch with horror, as the ghastly object rolled towards him.

The skull stopped next to Rabinski's chair, its empty eye-sockets looking up at Rabinski. The killer remembered the last time he had seen life in those lifeless eyes, when the thing was clothed with flesh.

The murder shrank back, shuddering, fighting to shut out the horrible head from his view. But to no avail, in his mind, he saw the skull, head Maika's voice accusing him. With a wild scream, the prisoner buried his head in his hands and admitted his guilt.

Your Sins will find you out
Crime Does Not Pay

Friday, June 22, 2007

Revolution! Part Thirteen

Breaking into a building in order to prevent a crime was something Ms. Madison had not considered possible until meeting the Green Man. Since then, she had broken into country houses and hotel rooms in order to save lives in danger, or retrieve wills. But this was somewhat different. She had, with the aid of the Green Man, broken into the Bank of England, and was now waiting there, dressed in a beautiful strapless ballgown, with a late date at the Savoy waiting for her. She checked her gun, and waited for the Communists. Let 'em try to liquidate her. They would have a lot more to lose than their chains.

A sound above her sent the blonde tip-toeing to the stair. She heard whispered voices, equipment being checked. As she crept closely, she could make out words.

"Get the bombs ready," the men whispered, "when the people of London see the Bank of England in ruins, they will know that the revolution is ready and waiting. They will join with us."

Ms. Madison shook her head. The people of London were hardly oppressed masses. Nor were they likely to think much about the destruction of a building, however big and classical. It would be rebuilt, and even if the bank's staff died, they could be re-appointed in a few days. They were deluded.
But the man she had seen the night before was no deluded Marxist. There was quite another agenda present there. What was he up to, she asked herself?

The Communists finished setting the bombs and left. Ms. Madison spent a moment or two disarming them, before stepping out into the night, setting off a couple of alarms as she did so. The Police would see only a student prank, as she removed the bombs from the building.

"Good evening..." the voice caused the blonde to start. There, not ten feet from her, was the figure in top hat and cape. Ms. Madison tried to see his face, but it seemed there was nothing there. A wind whipped through her hair.

A suuden spray of gas caused the blonde to pass out.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Revolution! Part Twelve

The meeting was, as might be assumed, on a university campus, in a shared kitchen of a student hall of residence. Ms. Madison wore a fluffy sweater and jeans, and looked rather like the campus sweetheart from an old film. She was smiling and looked young and healthy. Accordingly, the persons with untidy clothes and dubious personal grooming regarded her with some suspicion. She just made a few remarks about smartness not being a capitalist trait. She pointed out that her parents actually were working class, making a few people look annoyed.
At last, someone got up to speak, making Ms. Madison rather relieved. He was an unshaven young men who had probably not brushed his hair in a few months. If not years. Ms. Madison fought the desire to tremble at his scruffiness.

"Last night," he declared, "our second strike against the heart of Capitalism was foiled by an agent of capitalism. One our our agents was shot, and we were forced to escape."

Various people booed, and a few people tried clenched-fist salutes. Ms. Madison shook her head. Why, she asked herself, was this sort of thing still going on, why was it accepted on a university campus? If these people had been displaying Nazi insignia and making the Nazi salute, they would have been banned right away. But Communisim, a political force that had killed its hundreds of millions to Nazism's tens of millions was seem as being somehow acceptable.

The blonde's political musings completed, she listened to the speech. It was not a good one, consisting mostly of Marxist clich├ęs. But when he got to substance, Ms. Madison's ears pricked up.

"We shall strike again tonight!" he announced, "our leader has picked a new target - the very heart of Capitalism! The Bank of England! Tonight we shall blow it up!"

Ms. Madison was only just able to suppress a gasp of horror. Suffice it to say, however, that she was able to do so. Accordingly, no-one noticed her, as she managed to appear as intense as anyone else there. Thus Ms. Madison was able to get away without being captured, breaking a rather unfortunate precedent.

She had to be there.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Revolution! Part Eleven

Ms. Madison turned back from the windows of the Savoy, towards Andrea. She shook her head, her heart heavy.

"London's my city," she explained. "Now and forever. We need to save it."

"Lynette," the redhead sighed, "these sound like just a few crazy reds, like the people who turn up at the G8 meetings and shout a lot. The folks are just self-indulgent rich kids, determined to get governments to give away money - like the Government has any money that doesn't belong to the hard-pressed taxpayers."

"You've been listening to Rush Limbaugh again, haven't you?" Ms. Madison chuckled. "Andrea, this is a secret organisation dedicated to bringing the wicked to justice, not a branch of the Republican Party."

"But you do agree, don't you?" Andrea smiled mischievously.

Before Ms. Madison could speak, the 'phone rang. The blonde picked up the 'phone and answered in her usual crisp manner.

"Ms. Madison," the Green Man spoke. "I have checked your evidence with my agents. These people are just student anarchists and Communists. But the man you saw controlling them is not."

"That's what I've just been telling Andrea," the blonde replied swiftly. "She didn't believe me, and my father's threatened to take action if I get involved in any crime."

"The man in the top-hat is a man I have heard of," the Green Man continued. "but I do not know who he is. This gap in my knowledge will be filled."

"But, natch," Ms. Madison agreed, "I'll do the research. When do I start?"

"You will start at once," the Green Man told her. "I shall send you the necessary material. Andrea will liase with my agents."

"And the bad guys?" Ms. Madison enquired.

"There is a meeting of the Marxists tonight," the Green Man replied. "I am sending one of my agents."

"Shall I get my faded tee-shirt and sandals?" Ms. Madison asked.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

End of Term Exercises at St. Narcolepts

Our Education correspondent writes: Asanother academic year draws to its premature close, like a VenusFly-trap missing its fly, so the young men and women of colleges across the land aree sent out into a world that is all-too ready to receive them. Today, Sir Richard Arcos presents a recent visit to St. Narcolepts, as the Anglican church's least-known college finishes another year.

Arriving at the college, I was greeted by the sight of three young scholars and a grey-headed man burning another scholar, apprently for getting the highest mark in the college's history. Founded for the education of the sons of the gentry, St. Narcolept's has long maintained a tradition of mediocrity, the average degree class being a Third, and the more usual a 'gentleman's pass.' Graduation is still about a month away, but already the bonfire is being built for the hog-roast. A list of the college's extra-curricular activities shows that more has been achieved on this front than ever before, giving even more students than ever an excuse for failing.

The recent introduction of courses for women and extra-mural classes has allowed some sons and daughters of the gentry to take courses this year without attending a single lecture - another excellent excuse for doing poorly. Lady Sylvia vaughan, the green Man's latest recruit, has just finished a foundation year in criminology in order to get something that even looks like a grade so that she can begin a dgree next year. Despite failing, she will be getting a diploma for hosting a criminology ball in her famil home, Mainstone.

We hope to present the graduation ceremony in due course.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Revolution! Part Ten

By the time Andrea reached the Savoy, Ms. Madison was waiting for her in the reception area, neatly dressed, not a trace of the events of the night before about her. The porter watched her, smiling. He knew the girl very well, as she seemed to actually live at the hotel, barring holidays. His smile widened at the sight of the lovely redhead.

"Hi," Ms. Madison smiled, "Long time no-see."

"After that crazy business with the Order of Cain," Andrea shook her head. "I've been acting as troubleshooter for the Green Man in far-off corners of the globe since then. You?"

"Same old job," Ms. Madison laughed, "and I've been breaking in a new agent, too. Has the Green Man filled you in?"
"Some mad commies wanting to overthrow the state?" Andrea laughed. "I guess it's an easy job."

"Then you guess wrong," Ms. Madison shook her head. "Last night I saw their leader. And I don't think that he's just a deluded Communist. I sensed evil there," Ms. Madison trembled. "And you know I know evil, Andrea - I've worked too long with the Green Man."

"So we're fighting against some unknown evil force?" Andrea shook her head. "I'll believe that when I see it."

"But obey me until then," Ms. Madison shook her head. "Believe me, that man was evil. He had a control over those fanatics. And he promised the destruction of London." She looked out over London, shaking her head.

Revolution! Part Ten

Ms. Madison gave her father an edited version of the events of the previous night, leaving out the illegal use of firearms by herself. What he didn't know, she reasoned, wouldn't worry him. Besides, the most important thing was the threat which the man in the top hat had made. Describing him, she declared, with feeling: "He looked just like Jack the Ripper."

"Who you know well, of course," the detective looked grumpy. "Lynette, this cloak-and-dagger business is playing havoc with your nerves. Mr. Rake called me last night, you know..."

"Let's just say I suspected," she shot back. "Daddy, London's in deadly danger, and all you can do is worry about my love life. I can cope with Mike, you know that..."

"After New Year," came the reply, "I was hoping you'd be doing a lot more than that. The Green Man's trouble, Lynette, danger."

"And that's what I love about my life," she shot back. "I'm a big girl now, daddy, I can choose my own way."

"You think you're a big girl," the detective growled. "You're not too big to have a good spanking one of these days..."

"Daddy!" Ms. Madison exclaimed, "London's in danger!"

"And so are you!" her father barked. "If you so much as step out of line, so help me, I'll have you down here before you know what's hit you - understand!"

"No," Ms. Madison replied defiantly, before putting down the 'phone.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Revolution! Part Nine

Andrea stepped off the 'plane, into the very heart of the city. Glittering towers of steel dominated the scene, reminding the redheaded girl of the mighty cities of America. Whistling a merry tune, heels tapping on the concrete of the runway, she passed easily through customs. As soon as she left the airport, she was passed a package wrapped in oilskin, her gun. She smiled, feeling thoroughly equipped.

The redhead hailed a taxi, asking to be taken to the Savoy. As she did so, a man in a fawn mackintosh registered her. Reaching into his pocket, he dialled a number on his mobile 'phone.

"Hullo," he whispered, "Scotland Yard. This is Sergeant Joseph. Andrea Van just entered Britain on a false passport."

On the bank of the Thames, Ms. Madison was woken up by the insistent ringing of the 'phone. She reached for it sleepily, expecting the strange tones of the Green Man.

"Ms. Madison here," she sighed lazily.

"Lynette!" the voice started her out of bed, for it was the voice of her father, Superintendent Horace Madison of Scotland Yard. "What exactly is your friend up to?"

"Friend..., what?" she asked confused.

"I know you work for the Green Man!" the detective exclaimed hotly. "Well, his trigger girl arrived at the City of London Airport a few minutes ago. If anyone gets murdered...."

"I'll make sure I'm no-where near," she chuckled. "The stakes are too high otherwise, daddy. But last night I heard threats so terrible I had to act."

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Revolution! Part Eight

The waves lapped the mighty California Coast, their sound entering the dramatically sited villa as a low roar. Otherwise, all was silent, as the villa's occupier snoozed in a recliner. As the 'phone rang, she picked it up lazily.

"Andrea," she sighed gently, "I'm busy forever."

"Andrea," the familiar tones of the Green Man came down the line. "You are to fly to London. A 'plane is waiting for you."

"And after that Jewel heist in Sofia," the redhead laughed. "Those thieves were shocked to find me waiting at their hideout. What is it this time, boss?"

"Battle, murder and sudden death," the Green Man declared impressively. "The peace of the city is disturbed by fanatics. You are to fly to London and there receive further orders."

"Roger that," skipper, "the redhead laughed. "I'll pack the equaliser, just in case."

The Green Man was good as his word. A short drive to a private airstrip brought Andrea to a private jet. A masked man who did not speak flew the redhead across America at a pace she could barely comprehend. Before she had fully digested what had been said to her, the redhead was landing in London.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Revolution! Part Seven

Ms. Madison looked at the top-hatted figure, he mouth open, a look of fear on her lovely features. She could not help but think of the similar figure that had been Jack the Ripper. Her quarry bowed to the top-hatted figure, making the clenched fist salute of the Communist Party.

"Who is this?" the top-hatted figure spoke in a thin, soft voice that made Ms. Madison's skin crawl.

"Some sort of cop," one of the men spat. "She's got a gun. She chased us from the capital of the filthy rich. I think she's an enemy."

"What do you want?" the blonde demanded.

"Want?" the top-hatted figure laughed wickedly. "London awash with blood-the blood of the rich. The city in flames, the working man enthroned in Westminster Abbey. In a word, my dear, Revolution!"

"Shall we give her the works?" another of the Communists looked over at Ms. Madison. "Kill her like the filthy Capitalist she is?"

"No," the top-hatted man shook his head. "Let her go. Let her tell her masters-whoever they are. Let them fear me. Let them tremble. Good-bye young detective."

The men shrank away slowly into the darkness. Ms. Madison waited, aware that a gun was held on her.

"And then I had to walk all the way back to the Savoy in my stockings!" Ms. Madison reported to the Green Man, voice full of outrage. "I lost a perfectly good pair of stockings! And I don't know anything more about these crazy guys! But I didn't like all that talk about blood in the streets."
"Nor do I," the Green Man agreed. "But tomorrow, I will brief my agents. Tomorrow the counter-revolution begins."

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Revolution! Part Six

Ms. Madison ducked, and plunged forward, into the mighty concourse of Liverpool Street Station. Now in the heart of the city, she looked a mess, her gown torn, stockings holed, her hair wild. She hid the gun, knowing that the Police had a nasty tendency to object to people toting guns, even small ones.

She saw one of the people from Canary Wharf run up the elevators, and rushed after him. She felt something cut her feet and ignored it.

Out on the light-flooded streets of London, Ms. Madison found herself searching for signs of the villains. But among the drunken revellers, she was unable to detect them. She supported herself against a wall, wondering exactly where she would go next.

"Are you okay, Miss?" a Policeman asked, noticing the untidy blonde.

"I think so," she admitted. "Did you see any people who looked like dangerous anarchists? One of them was bleeding."

"They went that way," the man pointed.

The blonde ran past him, into a deserted side-street. There she stopped. The men were stopped too. There, at the end of the street stood a top-hatted figure, his face hidden.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Revolution! Part Five

Ms. Madison followed hard on their heels, her own heels clattering on the steps that led down into the underground station. She heard a train coming and leapt the remainder of the way down. That was a mistake, for she slippd and landed rather inelgantly, losing one shoe. Kicking off the other one, she ran to the platform, and was just in time to leap through the fast closing doors of a carriage.

The train was heading into the city, and all she could do was hope that her quarry was on it. And they'd better have a good excuse for shooting at her. She noticed people looking at her strangely, and stuck out her tongue at them. Let them stare at the girl in the ballgown without shoes! She was on the trail of evildoers!
At the next station, she leapt out of the train, checked to shee whether any of the people she recognised got off the train, and leapt back into the next carriage, a procedure she repeated with each station, until she reached the middle of the train, by which time she had begun to wonder whether the baddies had ever got on the train at all. At Liverpool Street, however, she knew she'd been right. The train stopped, and the men leapt out. Ms. Madison hurried after them, drawing the gun from her purse.

Before she could do a thing, however, the lights went out, and the whole underground was plunged into darkness. The last thing Ms. Madison saw was one of the men turn towards her.

A gun roared amid the cries of panic.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Revolution! Part Four

Ms. Madison walked swiftly along the mostly deserted streets of Canary Wharf, her heels tapping urgently on the tarmac. She searched the darkness, where people appeared as shadows against the blazing lights, one hand still on her handbag gun.

The place was taller than it was high, and Ms. Madison wondered just how she was supposed to find the bad guys. But she was the Green Man's secretary and field agent. She knew she could make it. Or at least she could take a good crack at it.
Out of the corner of her eye, Ms. Madison saw a movement. She followed it, slowing but not stopping, trying her hardest not to reveal that she had seen it. Then she saw the thng dart out of the darkness.

"Hold it!" Ms. Madison drew her gun, letting the street light glint on it. "I could kill you right now!"

"You're not a cop!" the person sneered, going for his gun.

"You know what," Ms. Madison laughed, "I'm not." She disarmed him with a shot that shattered his hand. "And I don't think you are, either."

The man looked down, stunned, at his destroyed hand. The blonde moved forward, looking amused, shaking her head.

Before Ms. Madison could interrogate him, a gunshot sent her scurying for cover. The man took to his feet, being followed by a number of others, one of them carring a pistol. Ms, Madison disarmed that man with another shot, before taking pursuit, diving down towards a local underground station.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Revolution! Part Three

Ms. Madison scrambled into the taxi, and was not surprised to see a large radio apparatus in the rear. Gathering her skirts about her, the blonde seated herself in the taxi.

"Drive," she told the man behind the wheel. Leaning forward, she flicked a switch on the radio.

"Ms. Madison here," she spoke swiftly. "Where am I going?"

"Canary Wharf." The unmistakable voice of the Green Man came over the airwaves.

"Let's get this stright," Ms. Madison sighed, "you call me out of a night of dancing at the Savoy so I can visit Canary Wharf? This had better be good."

"My agents at Canary Wharf have seen a group of strange characters lurking around." The Green Man spoke softly. "Yesterday, the financial heart of London was attacked and a threatening note was left. This may be the next level."

"And why send me?" Ms. Madison knitted her brows (the only knitting the glamour-girl ever did).

"You can fight, but no-one would believe it," the Green Man told her, as the taxi drew up at the glittering financial jewel. "No-one's going to see me in your presence."

"And this had better work," Ms. Madison stepped out of the taxi. "I'm getting really tired of being kidnapped everywhere. And this is London. My London." She opened her handbag to check her gun.