The love of Solitude: Chapter Twenty Two

Written By Abdun Nur

Chapter Twenty Two

Soulless Larrikins Roam Wanton Upon Their Stomping Ground

“A thousand times we die in one life.

We crumble, break and tear apart until the layers of illusion are burned away and all that is left, is the truth of who and what we really are.” Teal Scott

The old house stood empty, shrouded in thick chilly fog, with every room of Gwen’s house in darkness. Two men opened the gate and walked purposefully along the stone flagged path.

They were very large rough looking, but oddly, very well dressed men, both wearing very expensive tailored suits, thick woolen over coats, and black leather driving gloves, almost like a uniform, but with faces ugly enough to scare babies.

When they reached the front door they didn’t knock, the larger of the two simply tried the door handle. “Locked… Unfortunate.” He then pounded on the door for a few seconds, the sound filled the house, but of course no one came.

They walked around the house peering into the widows for signs of life. When they reached the cellar door they noticed it was stood wide open. “Fortunate.” The larger one commented, as they both descended the stone staircase into the cellar. They could see fresh blood on the ground. “Somethen’s happened.” The larger one commented.

The two men walked into the cellar and through to the adjoining room, where they could see the door to the next connecting room was in darkness, they examined the room, seeing blood and melted metal on the ground. “Erm, Light John.” The larger one said to his friend.

He was handed a stainless steel torch from the other mans coat and shone it into the dark room, but it did not illuminate anything inside. He moved forward with the torch held out in front of him, as the torch touched the darkness blinding light burst out as the metal reacted with the darkness, luckily for the large man holding the torch it had a rubber grip wrapped around part of the torches body isolating him from the energy, he let go of the torch and it was fixed in mid air burning like a mini sun. “Bloody hell. He said genuinely shocked.

The large man stepped back into the other room, the light so bright from the torch both men’s eyes were forced closed. A mobile phone began to ring inside the larger mans coat.

The large man fumbled at the door, then pushed the door closed as hard as her could, attempting to block the blinding light, but it bounced open again, as the door had swollen, and was a little too big for the door casing, the large man slammed the door hard pushing aginst it with his body weight, and it shot into the casing and was most certainly closed. Both men were relieved as their eyes recovered. When they could see normally again, they both stood looking in silence at the closed door, they could both see a new set of three keys hanging in the lock, the larger one locked the door and dropped the keys into his pocket. His phone was still ringing, and now he took it out and answered it.

“Hello Sir. No one here…

Seems someone was injured, we found some blood on the ground inside the cellar and on the path outside...

OK. understood. But..

Yes. But…

OK.” At which he hung up.

“There’s something not right about that room John, it’s seriously messed up.” The large man said as he continued to stare at the locked door to that dark room.

“Why didn’t you tell the boss?” John asked.

“Come on.” He told John, and they both walked back outside, the large man pulled the cellar door closed, then both men made their way to their car. “We’ll have to find a petrol station John. He wants the place warming up.”

John smiled at his friend “Roasted Pussy cat!”

They both got in the car, which was a new top of the range BMW, but just as they pulled out to drive away, the mobile phone rang, and the car swung back to the side of the road, to answer it.

“Hello again Sir.” The large man said, this time his phone was on speaker, connected to the car sound system.

“Wait there for now Mr. Brown. Do nothing, let me know if anyone comes.” The man on the phone told him.

“OK. We’ll hold fast on the house warming.” Mr. Brown replied.

“Yes, I was rash. We need to proceed with more adroitness.”

“Something funny happened in the cellar.” Brown said.

But his boss hung up the phone. The engine was switched off. The driver leaned round and fished a news paper from the back seat. “We’re to wait now.

Keep your eye out.” He said opening his paper.

After a few minutes of silence, John had begun day dreaming, already bored. “What’s adroitness?” John asked.

“I think it means something to do with being right handed.” Mr Brown replied, distracted by the newspaper.

“That don’t make no sense to me Browny.” John told him.

“Well that’s what you get from a expensive education John, a bigger vocab.” Browny replied as he continued reading, his face buried in the Sun tabloid.

“Well, being more right handed don’t seem to be something we can do. Does he mean we should beat the woman with our right hands?” John asked.

“Quiet John.

Just keep a look out, we just follow orders, so don’t worry too much about what words is meaning.” Browny told him.

Cathy had been sitting in the hospital waiting room, a better term would be lingering room, surrounded by sick people, who were all waiting to be seen, she’d sat there all night. She’d had no news of Gwen and was getting concerned, waiting for news at the hospital was no fun, time dragged along slowly.

The dawn had come and gone and still she waited. She rang Tom Shepherd at the university, after letting administration know she couldn’t come into work.

“Hello. Is that Professor Shepherd?” Cathy asked.

“Yes, Cathy what can I do for you?” Tom replied, his phone identifying the call before she’d even spoken.

“Gwen is in the hospital, she had an accident, I thought you might be interested to know.” Cathy told him.

“Is she OK?” Tom asked.

“I think she’ll be fine, she fell and injured her head, a concussion.” Cathy explained.

“I’ve been waiting all night at the hospital for any news, when I get an update I’ll let you know.” She told him.

Cathy continued to sit patiently waiting for news, while being totally ignored by the staff of the hospital, who spent most of their time standing around chatting to each other, as if they had nothing at all to do.

The room full of people lingering as they endured their respective, mainly minor, anguish, ignored by the quackery and their minions, who regarded the sick with cold contempt. She noticed the main cause of the reduction in room population, were people giving up and leaving without treatment.

Twenty minutes after she’d talked with Tom her mobile rang. “Hello Cathy, this is dean Plantagenet, I talked with the hospital administrator. Gwen is comfortable, they’ve sown her cut. Apparently she had ten stitches.

She’s resting. They’ll be keeping her in for observation for a few days. If you call back at visiting time between two and four, he tells me, you’ll be able to see her.” The dean explained.

“Thank you for letting me know Sir.” Cathy replied.

“No problem, you should get home, get some sleep. Don’t worry about work, I’ll contact administration and tell them the circumstances and not to deduct the day from your salary, OK, I’ll likely see you later today then at visiting time. Thank you for taking care of our local genius. Have a sleep Cathy, speak soon.” With that the phone call ended.

Cathy decided she’d call around at Gwen’s house to feed the cats, on her way back home, she didn’t think Gwen’s two gardeners had any keys, or would even be able to feed the cats, judging from the injuries she’d seen on their hands the night before, opening cat food one handed would be difficult.

Cathy drove straight to Gwen’s house in the fog, which had become thicker as the cloud layer settled on the land. She parked behind a row of two cars and a van, which struck her as odd, she hadn’t noticed any cars the night before, maybe the gardeners had cars she thought. She got out of her car, and as she did, she saw two very unnaturally large men get out of a BMW parked at the other end of the row of cars.

The men began to walk towards Cathy, it was very unnerving. Cathy got a very bad feeling from the two giants in suits, something seemed wrong about them. She stood by her car looking at them with the car door still open. She decided she didn’t like the look of them at all, and hopped back in the drivers seat, closed her door and locked the car. As they drew closer she switched the engine back on and put the car in gear, ready to drive away quickly if the need arose.

The larger of the two men stood at the side of her car, he bent over and with one large knuckle tapped on her window gently, while the other man stood on the road preventing her from pulling away if she wished to. She was beginning to feel frightened and put the car into reverse. The man tapped on the glass again, gently.

Cathy dropped her car door window an inch. “Can I help you?” She asked.

“Who would you be now?” The man asked.

“What business of yours is that?” Cathy replied.

“We’re here to see Miss Carnock, would that be you?” He asked politely

“No.. I’m here to feed her cats.” Cathy told him.

“And would you know where Miss Carnock is presently?” The man asked.

“I would. But it’s none of your business.” Cathy told him.

“Oh dear. That seems a little rude and unreasonable. My advice to you would be.

Be as helpful as possible when I’m asking you things.” The large man told her firmly. “I know you wouldn’t want to get on my bad side.” He smiled in a way a lion might at a piece of prime meat. “Especially a girl as pretty as you.”

Cathy’s heart was pounding. She pressed her accelerator and the car reversed aggressively and smashed into something that was pulling in behind her. The fog lit up with flashing blue lights. The two policemen sat in their car, now damage on the front by Cathy, startled by her actions.

Mr. Brown moved his head slightly towards the BMW, as to inform his friend silently to get back in their car, and they both vanished into the fog, their engine started and the BMW drove calmly away, as the two policemen confronted Cathy.

Cathy explained what had happened to the police, she gave them her documents, so the claim could be processed through her insurance.

One of the policemen was examining the two abandoned vehicles, while the other one talked with Cathy.

“We’re here looking for Mr. and Mrs. Campbell, both their cars are parked in front of Miss Carnock’s house. Mr. Campbell was here yesterday afternoon working. Mrs. Campbell’s mother called us worried, apparently Mrs. Campbell came here looking for her husband last night. No one has heard from them since yesterday, do you know anything about that?” The policeman asked Cathy.

“I’m sorry, I don’t.” Cathy replied.

“Could we take a look around the house?” He asked her.

“I don’t see why not, Gwen has nothing to hide. But the only things you’ll find in the house are a lot of cats.” Cathy told them.

“And where is Miss. Carnock presently?” The Policeman continued.

“She’s in hospital, she fell, cut her head open and got concussion.” Cathy explained.

“Sorry to hear that. And this happened when?” He asked.

“Last night.” Cathy told him.

“So what time did she go to the hospital?” He asked.

“She left in the ambulance from here at around eleven or twelve.” Cathy said.

“How did the accident happen?” He asked.

“Her gardener got accidentally electrocuted, and she got knocked to the ground in the chaos.” Cathy explained.

“And what happened to the gardener?” He asked.

“Hospital as-well.” Cathy replied. They asked more questions to clarify details, noting down the information.

“OK. Could you pull your car forward now and we’ll see what the damage is.” The second policeman told her. Cathy drove forward, the damage wasn’t too bad, all the lights on both cars still worked.

“OK. Lets go inside then.” The policeman held out his hand in a gesture to show direction inviting Cathy to lead the way.

The two policemen searched every room in the house, even the loft, they found no evidence at all of anyone, or anything connected with the Campbell’s.

Cathy rang her Dad, and told him about the accident, asking him to organise repairs for her little car.

The two policemen went outside and searched the grounds, they noticed the cellar door which wasn’t locked and searched the two rooms of the cellar. After which they had the car and Van, which were parked in front of the house, towed, and then they left.

Cathy left as soon as the police had finished searching the house, the cats were all fed and watered, and she was very tired. She headed home to bed.

Gwen was feeling much better after a long sleep, she was sat up in bed looking down at the meal the orderly had placed on a bed tray in front of her, and she was considering if she was brave enough to eat any of it, as she was struggling with the task of identification.

She was wondering how her two boys were doing, but the nurse had no information about them. She said she’d look into it. That’d been several hours ago.

When the nurse returned after the dinner tray had been removed, Gwen asked again about Phil and Sill. “Oh yes. They were treated and released, they left early this morning.” The nurse told Gwen with a smile as she took her blood pressure.

“Could I leave soon?” Gwen asked.

“Let me see.” The nurse unclipped the chart hung on the bottom of Gwen’s bed. “The doctor wants to keep you in for a few days for observation, due to your age.

That’s not right, some idiot has put your year of birth as 1930, clearly you’re not ninety years old.” The nurse said as she examined Gwen’s medical chart. Gwen said nothing hoping it may help get her released quicker.

“OK. What year were you born, I’ll amend the chart.” The nurse said taking out a blue Biro from her top pocket.

Gwen thought for a second. Then lied. “1960.”

The nurse amended her chart and hung it back up. “Does that mean I’ll be able to go home today?” Gwen asked.

“We’ll see what the doctor says when he comes around the ward, he should be here around five or six this evening.” The nurse replied.

At 2pm visitors arrived in the ward, Gwen was surprised to see, Tom Shepherd the dean and Cathy arrive together. Cathy had brought Gwen a large paper bag of seedless grapes and some flowers.

Cathy explained what had happened when she’d called in at Gwen’s house to feed the cats. And gave her the number to call the policeman who was working on the case of Mr. and Mrs. Campbell.

The dean had brought Gwen a large and expensive box of dark chocolates, beautifully wrapped in expensive wrapping paper, tied with ribbon and finished with a bow, and a card was attached to the top, which he placed on the small table at the side of her bed.

Tom had brought some flowers, and a large tin of all butter shortbread biscuits.

The dean was listening to Cathy’s tale, and was concerned about Gwen’s brutal looking visitors. He recognised the description Cathy gave, and knew who those two guerrillas belong to, and he knew that was now a serious concern for Gwen.

“Gwen. Those two men that frightened Cathy this morning, I believe I know who they are.” The dean said in a concerned tone.

“Who?” Gwen asked.

“You remember the other day when you met Goldsmith in the university dinning room?” The dean asked.

“Yes.” Gwen said.

“And you were very rude to him.

Goldsmith is more a criminal than a businessman, you’ll find that true of all the truly wealthy, we court these people with care, as they act above the law and accountability, they fund the university with strings attached, they’re almost always utterly immoral.

The two men who visited your house were his men, I’ve seen them with him, on many occasions.

Goldsmith clearly wants your artwork, he’s a very, very, dangerous man, a real psychopath. I don’t know how he got hold of your full name and address, but I’ll try to find out who gave it to him.

Unfortunately Gwen, this means you’re in physical danger, and so is your life’s work. Goldsmith is a vindictive blackguard, I really cannot stand the sight of the man, and you incensed him.

If you won’t give him everything he wants, he’ll eagerly prevent anyone else from having it, that includes you.” The dean explained.

“That sounds like a problem.” Gwen replied concerned.

“If we’d some commitment from you, to work in some way with the university, we’d organise security.

With a commitment the university would see you as a valued asset, with the full weight of the university in your corner for every eventuality.

I realise you want to remain a private and solitary artist, but the cat is out of the bag, so to speak. And it cannot be put back into the bag.

People who shouldn’t know about you, know about you, and they see a cash cow, they believe you’re an easy target, they think they can mulct you, and make themselves fabulously wealthy from your efforts Gwen.” The dean continued.

“What do you suggest?” Gwen asked, feeling cornered, and exposed, the last thing she wanted at her door were violent criminals. She felt she’d no choice but to capitulate to the demands of the dean.

“Allow the university to store your work, catalogue it, make publications, exhibitions, posters and allow advertisers to use your work for a fee. Even for your artwork and stories to be used to make books, I especially like the idea of adding the stories, presented by voice artists in the exhibitions, we could get the drama department to do it.

The possibilities are endless.

The university will share the proceeds with you, provide 24 hour security for you, and protect your work. The split from all revenues created, will be seventy, thirty in the universities favour, and we’ll stand the cost of storage and security.

“Fifty, fifty split, and we have a deal.” Gwen said after considering her options.

“Sixty, forty.” The dean counted.

“Fifty, fifty is fair dean, I could seek alternatives to the university.” Gwen told him firmly.

“OK. Fine, I’m sure the university can live with fifty, fifty, but all your personal security costs will come out of your half.” The dean told her.

“OK. I’ll get security organised, and we’ll begin the removal, cataloguing and storage of your work as soon as they release you from the hospital, in fact we could organise a private doctor to call at your home to monitor your recovery, and employ a full time nurse to look after you until you get a clean bill of health. You shouldn’t be in this place, I’ll talk with the hospital administrator and get things organised for you, you’ll be home by the morning, or sooner if possible?” The dean said, now very pleased.

“Thank you, that would be better, I don’t much care for this place.” Gwen replied.

“What happened to the Campbell’s Gwen, do you know? Tom asked.

“Mr. Campbell came to open the locked doors of the cellar, he disappeared it seems, but we didn’t know that at the time, not until his wife arrived around eight last night, and she went to the cellar to look for her husband, and she disappeared as well.” Gwen replied.

“Disappeared where exactly?” Tom asked.

“Into thin air Tom.” Gwen told him resolutely.

Tom looked puzzled. “Well did you search the cellar?” Tom continued.

“It was while in the process of attempting to find the Campbell’s Phil and Sill got electrocuted, and I got knocked down and injured.” Gwen explained.

“I see. So a mystery then.” Tom added.

“Cathy could I use your mobile phone to call the police and explain what happened last night.” Gwen asked.

“Here use mine.” The dean said, holding his phone in front of Gwen.

Gwen dialed the number given to Cathy and explained again what had happened, leaving out the detail of the room of enveloping blackness that had consumed the Campbells.

Gwen handed the dean his phone. “Cathy. Would you be interested in a new position at the university?

It would be a lot more money.” The dean asked.

“Of course. What position?” Cathy asked surprised.

“Gwen’s personal assistant, and the coordinator between the university and Gwen.”

“Yes. Thank you, that would be fantastic.” Cathy replied.

“That’s settled then.” The dean stood and Tom followed suit. “I’ll see you tomorrow Gwen.” The dean said.

The dean and Tom Shepherd left, leaving Cathy and Gwen alone.

Tom and the dean walked together through the hospital, back to the car park. Tom felt whoever had broken the trust of the university faculty, should be rooted out. “So dean, who do you think gave Goldsmith Gwen’s name and address, that’s a very serious breach of trust, will you be organising a full investigation?” Tom asked.

“No need.

I already know how Goldsmith found out.” The dean smiled.

“How?” Tom asked.

“I told him, and it worked like a charm.

I thought that criminal would frighten Gwen into the arms of the university, and I was right.” The dean smiled.

“That’s immoral.” Tom was shocked.

“It was quite clear Gwen wasn’t going to work with us, so I needed some leverage, and I thought if I made her life a little bit more dangerous, she’d be cornered, and the university would be her saviour, and most importantly, she’d then be beholden.” The dean explained.

Tom was dumbfound. How could he respond to that, his perception of the dean had transformed at this revelation.

“I wasn’t sure what Goldsmith would do, but I knew I could count on him to do something stupid. The real shock for me is how fast he applied the information I gave him. I only told him last night.” The dean explained.

“You’ve made me an accessory to your immorality by telling me. In future please keep me in the dark as to your immoral schemes and machinations. Thank you.” Tom said indignantly and parted company with the dean.

The dean was a little surprised by Tom’s reaction, as he’d been proud of his successful manipulation of events, Tom had rained on his parade a little.

When the dean reached his car, he began to inform the board of his success in getting Gwen on board with the university, the board members, unlike Tom, were impressed with the deans handling of the situation, and most importantly the success of the dean’s efforts in securing Gwen and her work for the benefit of the university.