[B]TRILOGY Prequel: THE DISEMBODIED ARM[/B]
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.
"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.....
TO BE CONTINUED