Sunday, 20 March 2016

"The Two Bens" : Episode 5

EPISODE FIVE : WORLDS ON THE BRINK
Ben froze and stared at the familiar figure before him:
"Who the hell are you? Why are you impersonating me and using my name?" The alternate Ben flicked his golden hair back and stared sadly at Ben:
"I'm sorry Ben, I think I've underestimated how much of a shock this will be for you. I should have known. After all, I know you Ben. I am you Ben.
Ben sank down onto the bed and held his head in his hands for a while. Eventually he looked up:
"Ok, lets see if I've got this right; you are me in another dimension.... or rather from another dimension. You're an alternate me who has come through with this invasion force and that madman claiming to be the king. You're helping him. How the hell have you done this?"
The alternate Ben sighed:
"You're partly right. I am not helping him, quite the opposite. I've been trying to damn well stop him with my organisation Operation Alpha. Its a long story Ben, but the king has this vision for inter-dimensional conquest. He's using technology stolen from the Time Lords by the Cybermen and hidden away on earth."
Ben looked up:
"This is so depressing and disconcerting. Looking at you is making me question my self-worth. You are so good looking."
"What and you don't think I feel the same Ben? Your face is so handsome and well proportioned. I feel diminished in your presence. However I had to come to this dimension because what the king is doing is so dangerous that it risks the very fabric of multiple universes. He has built an unstable inter-dimensional interface rationaliser", the alternate Ben replied.
"What the hell is that? This must be what Clara Oswald was warning me about?"
The alternate Ben smiled:
"You have a Clara here too? I hope she's not as irritating as the version we have to endure. Anyway, the point is that this technology is not stable. It risks an interdimensional collapse and explosion."
Ben sighed:
"What are these creatures that have been appearing here and killing people? Anything to do with your crazy king?"
"Oh yes. They are the victims of his initial experiments testing the interface rationaliser. He removed people from your universe to our then sent them back. They should have been fine but the glitches in the system scrambled their DNA. They have now fixed that problem but the whole technology remains unstable as it was only ever built to use in short bursts. The king plans for permanent conquest", the alternate Ben replied. He also sank onto the bed and buried his face in his hands:
"You have no idea how stressful this has been. I could cope more easily with this job if I wasn't so alone."
Ben went over to him and put his hand on the alternate Ben's shoulder:
"Look Ben, I'm sorry to hear that. I'd have hoped that any alternate version of me had found happiness, not been continually let down and stabbed in the back by others, as I have. However you've got me now Ben."

Meanwhile Kyle and Shakey Jake were downstairs in the Blue Angel, waiting in the bar area. Kyle was enjoying a pint and chatting to Kian at the bar while Jake rolled a large cigarette.
"Ere Ben's takin' his time up there. We'd better see what's up", Kyle observed. Kian smiled:
"I'd give him a bit longer if I were you mate. Mr Chatham and his brother are probably enjoying our extra services and wouldn't take kindly to you barging in."
"His brother? Ben ain't got no brother".
"Oh? I just assumed that this was the cause of all the confusion."
"Nah , I'm goin' up. Cam on Jake, hurry up."
Kyle strode towards the stairs, followed by a grumbling Jake and puzzled Kian. As he climbed the stairs, he was shocked to see the two Bens appear in front of them.
"Kyle, Jake, there is no time now to explain. This is Ben. He is me. Just deal with it. We need to drive to London immediately. Kyle mouthed 'what the fuck' silently while Kyle shook his head:
"Hey man, this is really heavy shit man, " he mumbled.

Jake drove his van, the Love Mobile, as fast as he could through the driving rain heading for London. As they drove, Ben did give them a fuller explanation of why there were now two Bens. "So if there is an alternate you like then why ain't there an alternate me an' Jake?" Kyle asked. The alternate Ben sighed wearily:
"There are. However they have stayed behind as they are not as important as me and they have work to do at that end. There is also an alternate Katie Ryan, Joe Dyser and the rest. I presume you have them here?"
Ben looked up:
"There is no Joe Dyser in my team. Clearly some people only exist in one universe due to alternate histories. Which reminds me, why the hell are you ruled by a king? What about parliament? Queen Elizabeth II? "
The alternate Ben looked confused:
"We've never had a monarch called Elizabeth. The last Queen Elizabeth was Elizabeth Woodville, wife of King Edward IV and she was only a consort. I have a History and Archaeology degree, first class from Oxford."
Ben sighed:
"Oh no. Oxford's History and Archaeology departments pale beside those of Cambridge where I took my degree. Moreover, mine was pure Archaeology and therefore superior in terms of my chosen vocation as an archaeologist."
There was an uneasy silence before Ben asked Jake to put David Bowie's 'Blackstar' album on the stereo. Kyle and Jake looked at each other and both instantly saw the danger; what if the alternate Ben had found out about Bowie's death and told Ben all about it? Then again, had Bowie even died in the alternate universe? Ben's fragile state might not be able to cope with two huge shocks in one day. Jake placed the 'Blackstar' CD into the car stereo. He pressed the play button. They held their breath......

.......... to be continued.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

"The Two Bens" Episode 4

EPISODE FOUR: HI BEN, I'M BEN
Ben and his team crowded around the television screen at the sight of soldiers rounding people up on the streets of London and chaos breaking out. Suddenly the screen went blank for a few seconds before the image of a young man appeared (played by Ben Whishaw). He was sat behind an expensive looking desk and was dressed in a smart suit and tie. He was softly, but firmly spoken and attractive, with a short, dark beard. He began to speak:


"People of England. This is your King speaking. Do not be alarmed and stay within your homes. Do not attempt to go out onto the streets until order and tranquility have been restored. During the period of transition you may feel disorientated, confused and concerned. We will endeavor to minimise any disruption to your lives and assure you that normality, within certain parameters, will soon be restored. I will speak to you all again later to clarify with you the new reality and address the concerns which you may be feeling. Warm blessings."

The image on the screen faded and was replaced with the image of a blue flag with a yellow crown within it, blowing in the breeze.

Kyle turned to the others:

"Ere what did he mean, "This is your King.." , who the hell is that nut job? And what did he mean, "the new reality?"

Ben frowned:

"Well I presume that the guy is behind what has been happening. We are under inter-dimensional attack, of that much I am certain."

"But ain't that s'pposed to be impossible?"

"Yes Kyle it is. But has happened before with both the Cybermen and the Daleks and it is happening now."

"So what the hell do we do about it", Katie interjected angrily. Ben thought for a moment, knocking back his martini.

"We need to get to Jake's place. We need his equipment. Kyle, Katie, Jake and myself will go. The rest of you need to stay put here and await my instructions."

Outside in the street, they piled quickly into Shakey Jake's van, the Love Mobile, as the sound of gunfire could be heard in the distance. As they drove through Cambridge they passed the Blue Angel Jazz Cafe and Ben saw a youth having an altercation with two police officers, which was turning violent.

"Jake stop the van a moment, that was Lewis, one of the bar staff at the Blue Angel being attacked by two of these invaders."

Jake stopped and reversed back as Lewis thumped one of the policemen on the jaw. Ben and Kyle jumped out of the van:

"Leave Lewis alone. Kyle here is handy with his fists . Where the hell are you from and who was that madman on the TV?"

One of the policemen answered him angrily:

"Look Sir, we are nothing to do with these enemy soldiers. This lad is drunk and has been attempting to use the situation to loot. We are taking him back to the station. We've all been recalled." Ben showed the officer his Operation Delta ID card.

"I'm Ben Chatham. I'll take charge of Lewis. You two get back to the station as ordered."

"OK Ben. Pleased to meet you", the officer replied before leaving. Ben turned to Lewis:

"Do you realise that the country is being invaded? Looting?" Lewis glared back drunkenly:

"I weren't lootin', just takin' some fags from the offy as the bloke weren't there. I got lucky earlier, a punter gave me £300 plus a £50 tip. Hey, he had the same name as you, Ben Chatham, ain't that weird. Looked a bit like you an all. Floppier hair though. He were a real gent. Made me feel like I was....."

"Where did you meet this man?" Ben interrupted angrily.

"In there, in the Blue Angel. We went to one of the guest rooms upstairs. Hey, he wanted a room for the night....."

Meanwhile the streets of the UK's major cities were overwhelmed with soldiers. People were ordered to go home and stay there or face summary execution if found on the streets after dark. Meanwhile battles were taking place around every major barracks in the UK as hoards of fresh soldiers appeared out of the void and tried to storm the buildings, throwing grenades. Groups of police officers were rounded up and marched away. Those who tried to resist were overpowered, forced to kneel down and shot in the back of the head.

Ben and Kyle rushed into the Blue Angel Jazz Cafe. Kian was at the bar:

"Hello Mr Chatham. Can I get you guys a drink?" He winked at Ben and smiled.

"There is a guy staying here who was with Lewis earlier. What room?" Ben sharply asked. Kian looked puzzled:

"Er I'm not sure, I wasn't on shift with Lewis. Hang on a mo." He looked at the guest book.

"That's odd. It says Ben Chatham is staying in Room 4." Ben and Kyle rushed upstairs, past the large function room where a drag act was performing and down the landing to the guest rooms. They found Room 4.

"Kick it in Kyle!" Ben said angrily. Kyle kicked the door in and they saw a young man with blond hair and his back to them pouring a drink. The man span round and flicked his hair out of his dark eyes:

"Hi Ben. I was wondering when you'd get here. I'm Ben."

Ben Chatham (played by Adam Rickitt) held out his hand to Ben Chatham (played by Ryan Hawley).......

.............to be continued.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

"The Two Bens" Supplementary Scene

The Two Bens: Supplementary Scene
Kyle Scott lay half asleep in bed in the early hours of the morning. He briefly opened his eyes to see two empty beer cans on his side table before dozing off again. Suddenly he heard a violent hammering on the door. He pulled the pillow round his head to muffle the sound of Luigi answering the door of the apartment. In what seemed like a split second, the door to his room flew open and Katie Ryan strode in, tossing her hair to one side feistily. She pulled Kyle's duvet off him:
"Wake up Kyle, its serious. I take it you haven't heard the news" , she whispered loudly.
"Ere what the 'ell you doin'. You after a piece or summat?" Kyle mumbled angrily.
"Kyle I do not do chavs, as you well know. Although I am rather impressed. However this is serious; its all over the news *whispering* Bowie's dead", Katie exclaimed.
As she spoke, they heard Ben shouting from his room:
"Luigi who the hell was that hammering on the door at this unearthly hour?"
Katie ran to the door of Kyle's room and shouted:
"Its OK Ben, its just me. I need to speak to Kyle about a professional matter", she shouted.
"This is completely unfair Katie. I need my sleep", Ben tersely replied. Katie went back to Kyle's bedside:
"Ok, there is no way that we can let Ben find out what's happened. The shock will devastate him, especially coming so soon after that dull bitch nearly caused him to have a complete breakdown by dragging him through the courts. Therefore here's what we'll do: you Kyle will text all of the team right now instructing them not to tell Ben anything about Bowie and to keep him away from all newsagents and ensuring that he's kept too busy on the case to watch TV. I'll give him ten minutes to go back to sleep then I have work to do in his room."

Katie waited ten minutes, then she snuck into Ben's room and quietly removed Ben's radio-clock alarm and his smartphone. She had a word with Luigi about the situation, then she went outside the apartment into the exclusive foyer and used the phone to ring the Doctor. After a short while the phone was answered:
"Och, och, who's that?"
"Hi Doctor, this is Katie Ryan."
"Katie Ryan?"
"Yes, Katie Ryan. You know. Ben Chatham's attractive partner in leading Operation Delta."
"Och, oh that Katie Ryan. How did you get my number?"
"I've borrowed Ben's phone. Now listen Doctor, this is serious. David Bowie has died. We are very worried about Ben. We can't let him find out suddenly like this, not in his state. You must know what a wuss he is. Myself I believe in the pull yourself together school of counselling but we are on an important case. I don't want Ben going into meltdown over this. Get it Doctor?"
"Och I see, yes. Poor Ben. I feel for the laddie, I really do. I met Bowie once, indeed it was me who gave him the idea for 'Space Oddity'. Och you see Major Tom was....."
"*Interrupting* Doctor, I'm not interested in a dreary anecdote, what I want you to do is to block all info about Bowie's demise from reaching Ben's phone. Do it now please".
"Och alright lassie, there's no need to be rude. I'll just get onto it now. Poor David. And poor Ben. Please give him my regards."
"I will Doctor. Oh by the way, Ben says that he was visited by your old companion Clara. In a toilet."
"Clara in a toilet? Lurking after men? Och dear".
"No she gave us a warning. But that's our business. Ben will ring you if he needs your help. But don't say we had this conversation."
"Och do you think I'm stupid lassie? Of course I won't. Poor David. And poor Ben."
"Goodbye then Doctor".

Sunday, 24 January 2016

"The Two Bens" Episode Three: "MUTATIONS"




EPISODE THREE: MUTATIONS
Ben sortly arrived at Shakey Jake's new laboratory, accompanied by Kyle, Katie and Corinne. Jake had bought a run down farm in rural Cabridgeshire and converted one of the barns into a lab. They walked in to find Jake sat behind a sophisticated computer screen, surrounded by technology. The laboratory was full of equipment, there were psychedelic posters on the walls and towards the far end of the room, rather incongruously, an old vinyl turntable was playing a vinyl copy of Jimi Hendrix's "Electric Ladyland". Jake looked up:

"Hey cats, like you won't believe what I've found out. Come and look at this."

They crowded round the computer screen which featured a map of Cambridge with a series of red and blue glowing dots and complex annotations.

"So what are we looking at Jake?" Ben asked.

"Hey man, like the red dots are where there is residual void displacement following someone recently being taken by the void. The blue indicate residual void displacement after someone has been returned by the void. Note that they are in the same place virtually, almost joined. Crazy man."

Ben looked bemused:

"I don't get it Jake."

"Man, the void like never returnes people in the exact same locations not when its like natural void activity. Its always like random. This is weird man, far out. I reckon something's co-ordinating all of this. Wow."

Ben was about to reply when Corinne Shaw held up her smartphone:

"Ok, its looks like there's just been another incident. One of these mutations has just attacked a group of schoolkids the other side of town. Its all over the internet. The music teacher fought it off but was killed in the process, it wrenched her head and broke her neck. According to this it then went into the nearby Tescos and made off with a load of liver from the fresh meat counter."

Ben was concerned:

"These things clearly crave blood and offal for some reason, based o the injuries we've heard are inflicted on the victims. Eyeballs too for some reason. Not pleasant and rather unsavoury. We must stop this one before it attacks any more children. Any ideas?"

"Like yeah man, I know just the guy. Come on", Jake exclaimed.

A short time later Ben and the others were following Jake's van in their car. Jake owned an old Volkswagen van which was painted in psychedelic colours. He called it the Love Mobile. Eventually the Love Mobile turned down an old farm track and after hald a mile they came to a dilapidated farm house. They stopped by some rusty farm equipment as an old farmer hobbled towards them:

"How do young Jake. What brings ye all to these 'ere parts?" he exclaimed.

"Like hi Len, great to see you man. Hey cats, this is my buddy Len. He's groovy" Jake enthused. Katie Ryan frowned:

"He must be going senile or need glasses if he calls you "young Jake" she tersely stated.

"Hey babe, Len's 89 years old. Like respect babe, respect".

Ben stepped forward:

"Can we cut to the chase please Jake. Why have you brought us to this dump?" he asked.

"Hey cats, Len here has a huge jar of strychnine in his shed. He used to use it to kill rabbits and foxes. Bad vibes all round. I turned him onto a new way, growing organic herbs for enhancing the positive mansions of the mind. Its a groovy project of mine to help small farmers turn away from destuctive methods to new more profitable ventures."

Ben frowned:

"Much as I admire your altruism Jake, exactly where is this leading?" he asked. Len prodded Ben with his finger:

"Now look 'ere young 'un. I recon Jake 'ere wants me jar of Strychnine. I still keeps it in me shed in case I needs it for me woife an meself if we goes senile. I ain't goin' in no home."

Later, having visited a butchers on the way back from the farm, Kyle helped Jake to tip some of the strychnine into buckets of offal, then stir it in.

"OK, we'll leave these buckets in strategic places around Cambridge after dark. The police are imposing a curfew for us. This will deal with the immediate problem of the mutations. However we still have the bigger issue to wrestle with; namely what is causing these people to be taken by the void and to return in this state."

They drove around Cambridge in the Love Mobile, leaving the buckets of offal on the pavements and in darkened alleys. Then they returned to Ben's apartment for a business meeting. Paul Farraday had prepared some bagels and salad and poured himself and Ben a large Martini each.

"While you've been away Ben, we've discovered something rather alarming. Adam here *gestures to Adam Wooten* has just returned from examining the bodies of that couple found by the milkman. He tested them with the void residue amogrifier. There is no doubt about it. Those corpses have not just been in the void. They've been in another dimension."

Ben swirled his glass of Martini round and round, deep in thought. Suddenly he sprang up:

"This is impossible. There must be an error*flashing Adam a look of desire* not by Adam I emphasise. Adam always makes the right moves. I mean with the equipment."

As Ben speaks, Corinne rushes in from the kitchen holding her smartphone:

"Ben turn on the television now. You won't believe what's happening".

Ben picks up the handset and turns on his large, high definition plasma smart-tv. He sees images of soldiers appearing out of nowhere and people running and screaming. Accross the screen is written, "BREAKING NEWS: UK UNDER ATTACK" .

Ben is concerned:

"This is serious guys. Those soldiers are just materialising there. I suspect that we are being invaded by forces from another dimension...."

 

.............. to be continued.

Saturday, 9 January 2016

"THE TWO BENS" Episode Two "Deadly Dangerous Now"

EPISODE TWO: DEADLY DANGEROUS NOW
It was a milkman on his early morning rounds who found the bodies. As his milk float glided down the dark Cambridge street, he saw two figures slumped in a shop doorway. Initially he thought that it was a couple of down-and-outs until he caught sight of the young man's mutilated face and held his mouth in a vain attempt to avoid vomiting. The couples' eyes had been gouged out and their faces and hands clawed to ribbons.


Ben Chatham was enjoying his continental breakfast of croissants, organic jam and Columbian Blue Ridge coffee while lounging on his leather sofa wearing his exclusive Harrods dressing gown. The digital radio was tuned into Radio Cambridge which was playing an excerpt from Faure's Requiem. Then the local news came on and Ben sat up sharply:


"Police are investigating the discovery of two bodies in the doorway of Lasson's Art Dealers in Long Wyre Street. Unconfirmed reports suggest that a young couple have been the victims of a vicious fatal attack."
Ben looked across at Kyle who was munching a bacon sandwich:

"Am I right in my recollection that there was a similar incident only a few days ago Kyle, a young couple killed in a frenzied attack with no obvious motive?" Ben asked.

"Yeah. It was in the Cambridge Echo like. Katie was bangin' on about it."

Ben sipped his coffee:

"I suppose it could be a coincidence. Anyway, we need to pay a visit to Shakey Jake this morning as he indicated at the end of last night's meeting that he may be able to trace the source of all this void activity."

As Ben spoke his mobile rang. He picked it up and heard the distinctive voice of Barry Tuck, waiter at the Mermaid Wine Bar (played by Johnny Vegas):


"Ay its me, Barry. Ere I hope your sober and not pissed up as its all kickin' off round 'ere and you lot will wanna see what's in our back yard. The coppers are here."

In a short while Ben and Kyle were outside the Mermaid Wine Bar, joined by Katie Ryan and Corinne Shaw, whom Ben had texted. A row of police vehicles were outside and a cordon, however Ben showed the police his Operation Delta card.

"What's occuring officer?" he asked.

"We've got some kind of creature cornered in the yard behind there. Deformed."

Ben and the others ran down the side alley and saw a group of policemen standing by some old beer barrels. In the corner of the yard was a monstrous distorted man or creature which looked like a cross between the elephant man and Quasimodo. It snarled and clawed at the air like a dog, huge slivers of saliva dripping from its twisted mouth. It wore jeans and a tee-shirt, which were ripped and bloodstained. Ben gazed at the figure:

"Ok, that is certainly a man there, or once was", he shouted.

"Bloody hell, that thing is a man? Its more like a friggin' ape" the police officer replied.

Ben approached the snarling figure:

"I'm Ben Chatham. We are not here to harm you. Please try to calm down."

The creature made a gurgling sound and stood to its feet. It made a lunge for Ben, however the policeman pulled out a taser and fired. The creature fell to the floor with a shrieking sound and a group of officers fell upon it, holding it down. Barry Tuck approached Ben:

"Ay I told you you'd wanna see that fucker. Horrible innit. *Noticing Corinne* Hey up love, I ain't seen you 'ere for a bit. Hows about we go for a drink later, you've got a crackin' arse and that skirt shows it off well an' proper. Hows about a quick feel."

Corinne shot him an icy stare:

"Mr Tuck. Please feel free to drop dead. *To Ben* Ben I assume that you've reached the same conclusion that I have."

Ben looked up, concerned:

"Oh yes. That unfortunate guy looks like a void mutation."

On the way to Shakey Jake's, Ben explained to Kyle what a void mutation is:

"Occasionally when the void sucks in someone it deposits them somewhere dangerous, such as a burning planet or a war zone riddled with chemical weapons. Then at some point the victim is returned but deformed or injured. The problem with that guy however is that the deformities looked beyond normal burns or war wounds. His eyes were literally in the wrong place, his hands were animal claws."

"So like what do you think did that to 'im?" Kyle asked.

"I'm not sure. Its worrying me Kyle."

The other side of Cambridge, the children were arriving at Riverside Primary School, where the Headmistress, Anita Dobson, was ferrying them into the main hall for assembly. Miss Ethersley, the music teacher, was playing the tune of "Michael Row the Boat Ashore" on the old school piano. Once the children were inside the hall, Mrs Dobson strode to the front, clapping her hands:

"Children, please be silent. We will now all say the Lord's Prayer together *pointing* John Hodges, kindly refrain from punching Tommy or you will be made to stand in the bin in the corner for two hours. Now, after me children:


"Our father, who art in heaven,

Hallowed be thy name....."
Suddenly the door to the hall flew open and a grotesque, deformed wreck of a man staggered in, making unnatural grunting sounds, it lunged at the children with its claws.........

 

.......to be continued.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

THE TWO BENS: Episode 1 "Reality Implodes"

EPISODE ONE: REALITY IMPLODES
It came from the sewer. A twisted, deformed inversion of a human being, dragging itself along the dark, rain-drenched street in search of food. It stumbled quickly, breathing in deep, rattling, snore-like gasps. As it turned a corner it saw two young women stagger out the side door of a club, the first one tripping on the pavement and falling over. It moved back into the shadows and waited. One of the girls helped the other to their feet and they stumbled along:


"Hang on San, I'll phone us a taxi" one of the girls spoke. It heard but did not register the words, which could no longer penetrate the misty recesses of its shattered mind. It moved quickly, leaping on the girl with the phone, clawing, tearing. It bit deep and felt the warm blood spurt....

Niko put on his motorbike helmet and rode out of the side exit of the Pizzaland car park, five large pizzas in his shoulderbag. He hated his job but most of all he hated delivering to students in their posh Cambridge halls of residence. Maybe he'd stop along the way and spit on the pizzas but then again maybe not. He couldn't be bothered. Tomorrow would be his last day in this dump. He was heading for London and a proper job training in a Michelin star restaurant. As Niko drove fast down Lonsdale Street, a brilliant white light flashed out in front of him. His bike skidded on its side and crashed into a parked car, bits flying into a shop window. Niko was gone.

Ben Chatham and Katie Ryan arrived at Ben's Cambridge apartment to the sound animated discussion and raised voices. As Ben entered the apartment, he saw the whole Operation Delta lead team seated around on the sofas in the midst of a tense discussion. Paul Farraday stood up and greeted Ben:

"Hi Ben. Sorry we had to end your night out but something serious has come up and I thought it warranted a full emergency meeting. Can I get you a drink?"

Ben saw that Paul had brought a range of refereshments for the meeting:

"Thanks Paul, I'd really like a Martini with ice". Paul fetched Ben the drink while Corinne Shaw handed out briefing notes to the rest of the team. She began the introduction:

"As you can see if you glance down the first page of the handout, there have been over a hundred unexplained disappearances in the south-east in the last two weeks. Far higher than average and all of them able-bodied young men and women in their early twenties. Most of them are in London but really these cases cover a wide area. There have been six in Cambridge...."

"Hey babe, tell Ben about the void activity reading. This is heavy stuff", Shakey Jake interrupted, smoking a roll up cigarette between his browned fingers. Corinne cast him a stern look:

"I was coming to that Jake. Please let me explain, then we can have a general discussion."

"Hey babe, don't get heavy with me ". Corinne continued:

"As I was saying before Jake interrupted me, these cases are far too numerous to be usual void activity and Jake's void monitoring equipment confirms this. However this is only the beginning of our problems. Ben, we have detected problems with the very fabric of reality. Another universe is trying to break into ours."

Ben sipped his Martini:

"How do you know this?"

"As you know Ben, when Torchwood became defunct, they passed much of their equipment on to us. Jake and Keith have been keeping a close watch on void activity."

Paul Farraday pulled some photographs from a file and threw them across Ben's coffee table:

"And there's these...."

The photos depicted a series of mauled and mutilated corpses. Katie Ryan frowned:

"Paul do we really need to see these again."

"I'm trying to impress on everyone what has been happening. A spate of unexplained deaths, each victim horribly mutilated."

Ben stood up:

"OK, thanks for the briefing Corinne and Paul, but I think we need a short break after the sight of those. How about I order up some food, as I suspect this meeting will be a long one. The Blue Angel has a home delivery service. Luigi will take the orders *gestures to Luigi*. Meanwhile I'll play you my exclusive advance copy of David Bowie's new cutting edge jazz influenced album "Blackstar". It isn't officially released yet, but David sent me a personally signed copy".

Ben put the CD on while Luigi phoned out for the food. Ben went over to Adam Wooten, who was sat talking to Chiara Smith:

"Adam, can I have a word please." They went into the kitchen.

"Look Adam, I wanted to say how good it is to see you again. I'm sorry I haven't phoned you for ages, but you know how it was. I was wrapped up in that awful marriage." Adam put his hand on Ben's shoulder and the kissed.

Back in the lounge, Corinne was sipping a large glass of white wine:

"In many ways I'm pleased to have a major work case to throw myself into. Otherwise it would be another Christmas of listening to my parents moaning about the state of the economy and their business problems. Not a pleasant fate". As she spoke the doorbuzzer went. Paul was standing near to the door and opened it. Kian from the Blue Angel came into the apartrment carrying a large tray of food, followed by another youth.

"Hi , We've come to deliver this order for Ben Chatham".

Ben emerged from the kitchen:

"Can someone please clear space on the table for the food. Hello Kian." Kian winked at Ben and placed the food on the table. He gestured for Ben to follow him out into the hallway:

"Will you be wanting any special services ? This is Joe by the way." Joe smiled at Ben.

"I'm sorry Kian but I'm too busy tonight unfortunately."

"Ok not to worry, see ya".

Ben went back into the apartment and started eating a greek salad.

As the rain poured down on the Cambridge street, the manhole cover was slowly raised and thrown to oneside. It pulled itself up into the street, foam dripping from its twisted mouth as it panted. It heard voices in a doorway. A young couple, out on their first date were kissing and laughing. It moved towards them fast......

..........to be continued.

Saturday, 12 December 2015