DARKNESS AT THE BREAK OF NOON
Ben Chatham gazed forlornly out of the window of the Royal Huntsman Coffee Shop in Cambridge, as the Christmas shoppers passed busily by outside. He swirled the dregs of his coffee around and around in the cup, his dark eyes filled with anger tinged with anguish. Sitting opposite him was Kyle Scott who eyed Ben with a look of some concern.
"Ere Ben, should'nt we be gettin' goin' like? We've got the prezzies and its a long drive to Wiltshire."
"Yes thanks for reminding me Kyle... not. *sighs* I'm not sure I can face going out and pushing through those wretched shoppers to get back to the car, let alone drive to Wiltshire and face my parents."
"It might not be the nightmare you think its gonna be Ben," Kyle replied. Ben shot him a look of disdain:
"Oh I'm sure it won't Kyle. It'll be ten times worse. I'm only spending Christmas with them in order to try and salvage something of my inheritance after the Emma disaster. She really displayed her true colours when she told them about the divorce. Why are women so immature about relationships?"
"Ere you did treat her badly Ben. I ain't excusin' everything she's done but you did provoke her like."
Ben flicked his hair out of his eyes and downed the dregs of his coffee.
"Oh yes. If by treating her badly you mean spending a fortune on setting her up with a nice house then yes you're right Kyle. *sighs* I hope you behave appropriately when you meet my parents. No foul language in their house."
"Well I could always stay in Cambridge and look after your pad while you're away".
Ben shot him an angry look:
"I'm paying Luigi to do that. You're coming with me, I'm not facing Christmas alone with them and Katie has gone to her relatives. Oh well I suppose we'd better brave the vulgar masses. Come on."
As Ben and Kyle made their way through the busy Cambridge streets they failed to notice the strange, dark, unnatural clouds that were forming overhead and covering the sky. As the light faded, Ben looked at his watch:
"Now this wretched watch seems to have stopped. Its getting dark but it still says 12.05. We must've taken an inordinate time choosing that perfume for my mother."
Kyle looked at Ben:
"Er no Ben. Mine says 12.05 an all. Summat's up."
As they looked up at the increasingly dark clouds, a man pushed into them.
"Look where you're fucking goin' mate," the man shouted at Ben.
Ben was about to admonish the man when a woman ran out of a shop screaming, blood spattered on her clothes:
"Help.... my boy... help... "
Kyle and Ben ran into the shop and were horrified to see people running from the Santa's Grotto area as the Santa stabbed at them with a large kitchen knife. Several small children lay motionless on the floor, covered in wounds. A man rushed forward to try and help them but the Santa stabbed the knife right through his neck, a strange gurgling sound emanating from the man as he sank to the ground in a heap. Kyle managed to get behind the crazed figure and smashed a till grabbed from the counter over its head. As the police arrived there was more frenzied screaming from outside and they went to deal with the new threat. Ben and Kyle rushed outside to see a woman wearing a Santa hat stabbing randomly at anyone who came hear her, a body at her feet with gaping wounds. Then people started running out of McDonalds screaming as one of the young male staff , wearing a Santa hat and false beard, ran after them holding a bloodied chisel.
"What the hell is going on? People have gone mad," Ben shouted. By now it was completely dark apart from the lights from the shops and car headlights. Ben and Kyle ran towards Ben's car and lept in.
"Ere Ben shouldn't we stay an' 'elp?" Kyle shouted.
"No. We need to get to the Operation Delta hub as fast as possible and consult with colleagues," Ben decisively stated.
As they sped through the streets and out into the countryside, they witnessed many scenes of knife fights as crazed people wearing Santa hats tried to stab others.
"Where the hell are they getting the knives from? Is our society so degenerated that this number of people carry them? I mean I can envisage it being like that on your council estate but not everywhere," Ben said. They arrived at the new Operation Delta Hub in Cambridge, a converted former office which Ben had bought from the council who were selling off their assets to keep the council tax down. They were met by a worried looking Paul Farraday:
"Ben you need to see what is happening now on the news." They rushed inside the hub and stared at the plasma screen tv in the reception area. All channels were now broadcasting images of violence happening in major cities and towns all over the world. In every scene the perpetrators were wearing Santa hats.
" I suspect that there is no coincidence that they are all wearing those hats. We need to find out how they invoke violence. Also what is behind this unnatural darkness", Ben stated. He took out a lunchbox from his bag:
"I think its time for a mince pie to calm my nerves. I made the mincemeat myself as I can't abide those cheaply made shop bought mince pies. They key to an effective mince pie is getting the amount of suet right. Everybody, please try one."
Ben passed the lunchbox around and Paul, Kyle, Corinne Shaw and the receptionist lady all took one.
"This is delicious Ben," Paul commented. As he spoke, Corinne handed Ben a report:
"I agree with Paul, wonderful cooking Ben. Anyway, this is a report from Keith Smith. He says that he has used Torchwood technology to identify the Santa hats as mind control devices operated by signals emanating from one single source, namely a space vehicle currently situated in Rendelsham Forest."
Ben was concerned:
"Rendelsham Forest has been the site of rumored alien activity for years. I think we need to put an action team together and go straight there. In some ways this is fortunate as it gives me the excuse I need to avoid spending the whole of my Christmas with my parents. Lets get moving."
...... to be continued.