Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Curse: Part Two

Those words decided Lady Sylvia, slipping back to her room, the Green Man's assistant threw on some clothes and ran down the back stairs, an arrangement she had discovered long enough ago when she wanted to get out of the inn without anyone else noticing. She ran to her car, and drove off in the direction of Mainstone Park.

The man on the gates saluted Lady Sylvia, as he sports car slid through the gates, heading up towards the gothic fantasy that was Mainstone House.

She had no time for any ceremonies, as she ran up to the door, pulling on the bell rope.

"Lady Sylvia," the footman bowed. "Lord Ambrose was wondering where you were. I am glad to see..."

"Whatever!" the young aristocrat shouted, "get him now "- this is serious! Something about a curse!"

"The curse of Mainstone." The voice of her brother caused Lady Sylvia to look up. "I know."

Lady Sylvia gasped at the appearance of her brother.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Curse: Part One

The birds sang in the trees outside the window of the little village inn. Lady Sylvia woke slowly, still tired. She remained haunted by the thought of what she had done just before Christmas. She had spent a month away from friends and family. All she could think of was the terrible thing that she had done in revenge. And once she had been disturbed by the things that Ms. Madison had done for the Green Man.

The inn was only a few miles from Mainstone Park, her brother's country house, but it might just as well have been a million miles away. And that was the idea. She smiled, tumbling out of bed, stretching.

She smiled at herself in the mirror and pulled a face, causing her smile to grow even more. It made her feel a lot better. A million miles away from the grim avenger of the passages below a now-ruined castle.

Wrapping herself in a dressing gown, Lady Sylvia left her room, stepping out into a corridor that was still half-dark in the light of the dawn. She padded softly down to the stairs, hoping that someone would be around to make breakfast. Instead, what she saw was the top of a bald man's head. He was speaking to a woman in furs.

"This is close enough," he declared. "Any closer and we may be noticed at the house. We don't want that yet."

"No," the woman spoke in a foreign accent.

"We shall be known only when we are ready," the man expanded. "For now, we shall be only guests here."
The woman nodded, then laughed softly.
"Let the curse of Mainstone claim its victims," she whispered.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Murder to Order: Fifteen

The great castle had, as Ms. Madison feared, crumbled into the destroyed bunker. The people standing on the lawn indicated that they had been able to evacuate in time. But Ms. Madison was not looking at them, nor was she looking at Mr. Rake, in spite of the arm he had around her. She was looking at the quiet figure of Lady Sylvia, only too aware of what her friend had done.

"Mike..." she whispered to Mr. Rake, as she left his arms. "Sylv..."

He nodded, allowing Ms. Madison to move to her friend's side. Lady Sylvia did not notice her, as she looked towards the shattered ruins of Caine's castle.

"It's done." She spoke softly, still not looking around. "The reason why I joined the Green Man. The vengeance of Lady Sylvia Vaughan. Do you think I'm a bad person, Lynette?"

"The Green Man knew all about this." Ms. Madison smiled encouragingly. "Caine couldn't be touched by the law. He's just the sort of person the Green Man exists to punish. You know I've killed more people than you have."

"But was that personal?" Lady Sylvia sighed deeply. "Lynette, I used the Green Man to take revenge on someone who hurt my family. I've destroyed him, and I've destroyed his house. If my family knew, then they'd disown me."

"And if my father knew exactly what I've done, he'd have me arrested." Ms. Madison smiled again. "When I signed up with the Green Man, I knew I'd be alienating my family. But I knew it was the right thing to do."

"I'm just glad my brother left after arranging for the house to be evacuated." Lady Sylvia looked out over the park. "And glad you're not angry with me."
"Why should I be?" Ms. Madison laughed, "vigilantes both, Sylv. Shall we spend tonight at the Savoy ballroom?"
"Why not?" Lady Sylvia took her friend's arm.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Murder to Order: Fourteen

Caine rose from where he had fallen, dust on his suit, a thunderous expression on his face. All around his, his staff were trembling and groaning, as smoke filled the bunker, mixed with the dust of tunnel collapses.

"You are a fool, Caine." The Green Man spat the words out with contempt. "Did you imagine that I would step into your trap so easily? No, it is you who have stepped into my net, and now your career is at an end. At last I can destroy you."

"The vengeance of the Green Man?" Caine laughed, "how romantic! But if you kill me, what will the world think?"

"That doesn't matter." The Green Man stepped forward, drawing his gun. "Do you think that the road of justice is soft and easy? No." He cocked the gun. "There are men like you, men outside the law, who can only be stopped by death. Let the world think what it may. I know you are evil, and as such you must die."

"Then kill me," Caine laughed. "Deal out instant justice like you always do."

"Not this time." The door behind Caine opened and Lady Sylvia stepped through, holding a rifle, her face grubby, hair untidy. "He did this for me. You killed my brother!"

"Warren Vaughan?" Caine aughed, "if he hadn't sought to prove me a killer, he would still be alive. He should have kept his nose out of my affairs!"

"That wasn't his mistake." Lady Sylvia's eyes were hard. "His mistake was trying to tell the Police, rather than taking you down himself. And that's a mistake I don't intend to make."

Her gun spoke, and Caine pitched over the railing, a neat hole in his head.

"Now come on!" Lady Sylvia shouted to her colleagues. "In a moment this whole complex is going to detonate!"

They ran past her, all but the Gren Man, who walked normally, turning over the body of Caine so that he could look into the man's dead eyes. Putting an arm around Lady Sylvia's shoulders, he escorted her from the chamber of death.

Ms. Madison was already waiting by an exit from an escape shaft when they got there, Mr. Rake's arms around her. Lady Sylvia held onto the Green Man's sleeve, a little frightened by what she had done. The ground shook under them, as the bunker detonated.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Murder to Order: Thirteen

Much to Ms. Madison's suprise, the Green Man raised his hands. She did the same. Mr. Rake hesitated, but a warning look from her made him follow suit. They were led down passages, deeper into the bowels of the earth. Any suggestion that this might have been an ancient vault vanished, the walls being concrete and the whole thing humming with power.

At the end of the corridor, they were led into a well lit operations room. Men in masks were moving counters around, while a huge glass map of Europe dominated the whole scene.

"The Green Man." A tall man of miltary bearing stepped up to a balcony rail, overlooking them."We meet at last."

"Aurelian Caine." The Green Man's tone was grimmer than ever.

"You've disrupted my organisation," Caine shook his head. "But I can replace the men you killed, and I know now who your agent is. I won;t call her a traitor, because I know you planted her. Your loyal little slave."

"Now, listen here!" Rake clenched his fists in anger.

"You need to be careful," the Green Man cautioned Caine. "This man is in love with her. He doesn't approve of me, so I'd hate to know what he thinks of you."

"Do you think I care?" Caine laughed. "Now that you are in my power, Green Man, I can become the master of all the hitmen in the world. Who else could succeed against me, once i have killed you?"

"Don't count your chickens before they hatch, Caine," the Green Man's eyes narrowed.

At that very moment, an explosion rocked the bunker. Caine screamed with rage.

"Who's attacking me?" he demanded angrily, "who..."

A second explosion knocked everyone to the ground but the Green Man.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Sunday Supplement: Dare to be a Gideon?

Sir Richard Arcos here: This Monday, I was with Mr. Lewis County, who is a member of the Gideons, special branch. Not to be mistaken for the gent in the TV series based on the books written by John Creasey. We were walking up a largish mountain in South Wales, amid the swirling mists. The intention was to place a Bible on top of the highest peak in South Wales.

The Bible to be used was a weatherproof King James Version, as the Special Branch of the Gideons use the AV to add to the extreme nature of what thy do.
Sometimes visiblity was close to zero, as we struggled up the paths that led to the summit. We did not pause for breath, mostly because the other were far too busy shouting to each other. My eldest grandson, Vernon Everard went with me, but we left him behind.
Once we had got to the top, the Bible was duly placed, set on a little cairn of stones. As the party descended, I was invited to come with them on their next great challenge: planting a Bible on the top of Mount Everest.