Sunday, 16 July 2017

The New Ben Chatham Series: TRILOGY


Ben Chatham woke up in his Cambridge apartment to the sound of starlings chirping outside the open window of his bedroom. A warm, sultry morning breeze blew through the window and the sun blazed through like a welcoming hand. Ben smiled as he gazed down at Julian, asleep beside him whose arm rested on Ben's smooth chest. Ben was happy. He and Julian Le Farge had been together for two weeks now and life was good. He had taken indefinite leave from his role as head of Operation Delta,  telling Katie Ryan, Kyle Scott and the team that he had to put his new relationship first for the sake of his sanity.
Julian woke up and kissed Ben slowly on the lips:
"Morning Ben. You know I can't believe how perfect it is to wake up next to you." Ben smiled:
"Same here Julian. Two weeks ago I thought my life was in an inescapable rut. But now that endless night has turned into bright morning. Let's have some Vivaldi".
Ben reached over for the stereo handset on the side table and switched on the CD player. Vivaldi's 'Four Seasons" started playing.
A short time later, after a shower, Ben and Julian were enjoying a continental breakfast while lounged across Ben's expensive sofa. Kyle had moved out to give them some space and Ben had set him up in his own apartment, paid for out of Operation Delta funds before handing over the running of the organisation to him and Katie jointly. Ben sipped his glass of chilled white wine and smiled:
"I think we should visit the Fitzwilliam this morning followed by lunch at the Mermaid....."
He was interrupted by the door buzzer and Luigi, Ben's house servant, went to answer. Katie Ryan flounced in angrily and slapped a wad of papers down on Ben's exclusive glass coffee table:
"Ben, I really need you to go through this stuff with me. It is all cases that you were working on yourself and we really need to complete the reports for funding purposes. Corinne is tearing her hair out as she needs to submit them to the Ministry."
Ben gazed at her languidly:
"Katie I asked you not to bother me with any of this. I'm on indefinite leave."
"To be with me", Julian added, smiling.
Katie scowled:
"This is none of your business, twink boy, I was talking to Ben."
Katie placed her hands on her shapely hips and fixed Ben with an icy stare:
"You have responsibilities to the organisation Ben. And exactly why did Kyle get given a new apartment and not me?"
Ben sighed :
"Look doll there is no need for irrational female jealousy. Kyle has never had his own apartment before, however you have. Furthermore I am no longer in charge of Operation Delta, you are. If you feel that you are not up to it then say so and hand the role over to Corinne or Paul Farraday. I will however take a brief glance at these papers if I must. Meet us in the Mermaid at 1.30."
Julian glared at Katie:
"I think that Ben would like you to leave now. And I think you might find that calling me twink boy does not endear yourself to him. Oh and I'd like to emphasise that I am richer than you."
Ben and Julian broke out into spontaneous laughter. Katie flounced out, slamming the door.
Later, Katie was sat in the Mermaid wine bar sipping a cappuccino when Ben and Julian walked in laughing. She looked up at them icily:
"I see that you two have been enjoying yourselves. I give it another two weeks before it all goes wrong as usual."
Ben went up to the bar to order food and drinks. Julian sat down opposite Katie and grinned:
"I'm young, I'm beautiful, I'm cultured and I'm rich. But most of all I am male. Ben prefers me to you. "
Katie gave him a knowing look:
"You are very young and very foolish. I will still be here for Ben when you have gone the same way as all of Ben's previous follies. You will let him down."
Ben arrived and sat down next to Julian, laughing.
"I haven't looked at your paperwork Katie. I couldn't be bothered. Please don't be angry." As he spoke, Barry Tuck, the waiter arrived with the drinks:
"Hey up , here's yer booze. And another borin' coffee for Miss Ryan, she of the gorgeous jugs. One day you'll let me have a squeeze won't yer love."
"Just serve the drinks and go Tuck or you get my stiletto in your eye" Katie snapped.
"Ok love, only banter, only banter", Tuck replied, sloping off.
After a tense meal, Ben, Katie and Julian left the bar however as they stepped outside they were shocked to see that it had gone dark:
"What the hell? It's only 3pm and it's pitch dark. What the fuck is going on?" Katie shouted. They turned to go back into the Mermaid however they found that the place was deserted. Only a candle flickered in the corner for light and there were cobwebs hanging down from the ceiling. Ben was concerned:
"This is disconcerting. We seem to have gone through some kind of time shift".
Suddenly a strange, translucent, disembodied arm floated through a wall. It glowed with an unnatural silvery-white light and moved slowly towards them. They rushed to go out of the door but it slammed in their faces and Ben turned in horror as the arm flow down and touched him........
Ben awoke lying on the ground, cold and damp and in pain. He saw Katie and Julian waking up beside him and groaning. They were lying in a filth-strewn alleyway, littered with assorted rubbish and wooden barrels.....

Sunday, 1 January 2017

The Ben Chatham 2017 New Year Special: "DEATH AND ROMANCE"

OK folks, here is the New Year special:


It was New Years Day in Cambridge and the fog hang heavy like a dulling wine. Ben Chatham gazed languidly out of the window of the Blue Angel Jazz Café at the distant spires of King's College chapel. He sipped his absinthe and sighed:
"Another year gone, another year closer to death". He gave a sad smile as the small jazz ensemble in the corner played 'Melancholy Mood'. Kian, the waiter, approached Ben's table:
"Happy New Year Mr Chatham. Can I get you anything else?"
"No. I don't feel like eating today and please don't wish me a happy new year. How can it be a happy new year when A level Archaeology has been dropped by the examination board," Ben replied sadly. Kian stroked Ben's shoulder:
"I'm sorry to hear that Mr Chatham...." His reply was cut short by the sound of screaming coming from outside in the street. Ben looked out of the window and saw a young woman covered in blood running down the cobbled street waving her arms and screaming. She ran into a student who was carrying a large pile of books, which went flying as both of them fell to the ground. Ben rushed out of the café and went over, comforting the student and helping him to his feet:
"Hi, I'm Ben Chatham. Are you ok?"
" Well I was until this person just knocked me off of my feet. Just look at my books, they've got mud off the street on them now. This is a first edition of E.M Forster's 'A Passage To India'. Thanks anyway, my name is Julian. Julian LeFarge." The student held out his hand and Ben shook it.
"Pleased to meet you Julian, although this is hardly an auspicious start to our acquaintance", Ben replied and they laughed. The young woman meanwhile had staggered to her feet, a middle aged lady having gone over to assist her. Suddenly the young woman launched herself at the other woman, biting deep into her face. The crazed woman then started laughing in an hysterical way before collapsing onto the ground. Ben rushed over and examined her closely as other passers by tended to the injured older lady. Julian went over to Ben:
"What on earth is wrong with that person? he asked.
"I'm afraid that she's dead Julian. And I have a good idea why as well. I need to act quickly. I run an Organisation called Operation Delta which investigates all kinds of paranormal and alien activity. I am the head of the organisation, I emphasise. You are a very attractive young man, how would you like to join this investigation?"
Julian smiled:
"I'd love to, it should be a hoot. Oh and I'm also a highly intelligent and wealthy scholar of literature Ben. I may as well emphasise my range of positive qualities."
They laughed as Ben flagged down a taxi:
"Take me to number 18, Rygate Street. There is a man there whom I need to see about a fish."
The obese taxi driver looked puzzled and huffed:
"...mumble mumble.. get all ¤¤¤¤ing sorts on New Years Day... mumble mumble..."

The taxi arrived at number 18 and Ben and Julian leapt out, Julian tossing the driver a wad of notes:
"Keep the change, I'm rich" he shouted.
"Like the style" Ben stated, laughing. They hammered on the door of the house and an elderly man answered it:
"Who's that I say. I'm busy.... Oh It's you Ben. How jolly nice to see you, come in."
"Hello Professor Briggs. This is Julian by the way, he's clever, rich and gorgeous. There's no time to lose Professor. The fish, do you still have the fish?"
"The fish? Of course I still have it. As if I'd ever part with such a present Ben. Come and see?"
They went into the Professor's study, where a large aquarium took pride of place at the far end of the room. The Professor suddenly gasped:
"I say it's gone! Oh my. Oh by golly. And there's water all down here as well and on the carpet."
Ben helped the Professor to a chair and gazed at the puzzled Julian:
"Some time ago Professor Briggs helped me on a very difficult case. He is the UK's leading zoologist. As a present I let him keep on loan an Osiarian Zanterfish which had been brought to earth in a crashed Osiarian craft. The fish have certain curious properties, they can live forever, barring physical injury, and their skin if eaten produces bleeding from every orifice followed by a frenzied desire to kill and eat anything in sight. I am well aware how bizarre all of this sounds Julian," Ben explained.
Julian laughed:
"One should never fear the weird, just the mundane". The Professor nudged Ben:
"I say, he's a philosopher this one".
"Professor, what could have done this? Do you have a cat or a dog?" Ben asked.
"No, but I've been looking after a stray cat for the past few weeks. Tom I call him. Big grey thing. He just comes in, has a nibble of food and then goes out again. Quite the vagabond. He was here earlier..... Oh dear, Come to think of it, I did leave him alone in here while I made a pot of tea..."
Ben sighed:
"That was very stupid. However I like you and you are an eminent Professor so I'll refrain from making further truthful observations on your failings."
"Thank you Ben, would you and your friend like some tea and lemon cake?"
"No, sorry Professor, we must fly like the wind. I suspect that the cat ate the fish and then went to some other house in the street where it scratched or bit a woman who was infected. We must find that cat before it infects anyone else."
Ben and Julian ran down the street banging on doors and fetching out the neighbours:
"Have you seen a stray grey cat? It's dangerous and infected with a deadly disease", Ben shouted. Suddenly there was a crazed scream coming from one of the back gardens. Ben and Julian ran down the side passage and saw a crazed man covered in blood hacking a woman's corpse with an axe. His children were screaming as the axe came down on their mother's neck. In the corner of the back garden a savage looking cat sat drooling at the mouth. Ben ran from the garden and back out into the street, followed by Julian. He pulled out his mobile and phoned for back up.
Some time later, the Operation Delta team were loading the man's corpse into a van and Paul Farraday and Corinne Shaw had managed to trap the crazed cat using a neck grabber and an RSPCA animal cage. They loaded it into the van also.
"This will do our image with the police no favours at all", Paul tersely stated as several police cars started arriving.
"You had best let me deal with the police Ben. I have built up some good networking connections with senior officers", Corinne stated.
Ben sighed:
"Do your best Corinne. I can't face them myself right now, I find officialdom so tiresome. Please try your best to save the cat and to avoid having to put it down."

Later Ben and Julian were enjoying a drink in the Blue Angel. Ben was telling Julian about his life:
... and so my family now view me as an embarrassment and I have an ex-wife who still thinks that I owe her something even though she gained a property at my expense. I'm entombed in my life. Look I'm sorry for unloading this baggage and boring you Julian. Julian laughed and grabbed Ben's hand:
"You don't need to apologise to me Ben. I think that everyone has a dark basement where they keep all of their demons. One wants to share them, but one is afraid of rejection if one does. I want to let you into mine but I'm afraid".
Ben stroked Julian's chin:
"You are strangely deep for such a young man. Let's go back to my apartment and start 2017 properly......"