Tuesday Tiny Tale – The Letter

This evening’s story follows on from ‘Late Home’, or you can read it as a stand alone tale.

Go and visit her.

Visit her? You want me to go and visit her Sir?

Yes, today and report back to me ASP. If this woman is telling the truth we can’t let her get into the hands of the press… or the government. Show me that letter again… hmm where is she and where are her two er ‘companions’?

At a Salvation Army shelter, treating them all as vulnerable homeless persons apparently, so at least nobody will be in the least bit interested in them.

Good, good and if they do appear to be telling the truth we can slip them away to my place in the country and I will go and visit them personally.

Which place… and if you don’t mind me saying Sir, what if this is all a hoax, or this poor woman has been duped?

Then we make sure they are taken care of.

Isn’t that a bit drastic Sir, I wasn’t suggesting they be disposed of.

I mean cared For… what was your last position?

Mrs Smith, Mrs Lauren Smith?

Yes and this is Belinda Billings… and Doctor Chowdry.

Cummings, I have come on behalf of one of the people to whom you addressed your letter; I cannot disclose who until I have verified your story.

Fair enough, but how are we supposed to trust you if we have no idea who you are?

Do you know who you can trust?

No, no, even my own husband does not believe me, he just wants a rational explanation as to why or how I went missing for eighteen days, the worst eighteen days of his life. I can’t say I blame him, he was in a terrible state; at least now he’s not suspected of murder. He has managed to fend off the press saying the family need privacy at this difficult time, they are hiding out at his aunt’s in Devon. The Salvation Army have been very kind, but I think they are just humouring us, trying to find Belinda and the doctor on their missing persons data base, no luck for them with that ha ha.

Let me tell the story from our point of view Mr. Cummings. Lauren appeared in our bunker during one of our security alerts and was in a very confused state. She was not registered with us and in her strange outfit we had no idea where she could have come from, she certainly didn’t look like a hunter. Her ID, if it was real, indicated she had come from the 2020s. As the year is 2099, that seemed impossible until I recalled the legend of Lauren of London, who will come to take us back to the past so we can mend the future…. And she did and here we are.

Well Miss Billings I can certainly see why no one believes any of you. What do you have to say Doctor Chowdry?

If no one of importance listens to us our mission will have failed. Gaia saved herself, but she had no reason to care about humans. It was up to us to work out how to live in harmony with Mother Earth and we didn’t. So now we grovel underground, trapped like rats, rats with the minds of gods.

I believe them Sir, or at least it’s worth bringing in every expert you can muster to investigate their claims.  

Sunday Short Story – Late Home

This story follows on from previous tiny tales about Lauren, but can be read a a stand alone tale; after all, the people Lauren meets also have no idea what happened to her…

Nobody believed me, why would they, but I had no choice but to tell the truth. I could not just walk back into my life, not when I had brought back two people from the future.

Why me, an ordinary forty year old mother and teaching assistant? I suppose it could have happened to anyone who visited the Ladies at that busy London Wetherspoon, couldn’t find their way out and went through the wrong door into the future.

The end of the twenty first century is far from what I imagined. A perfect storm of situations led to a future that looked more like the past; humans had managed to save the planet, but not their civilisations.

I must not speculate or ramble; I am writing this letter to put down what little I do know in the hope that someone will take notice. I am sending this to experts, those with a voice in the world and the imagination to not dismiss me… King Charles, David Attenborough, the science chap that does that podcast… I just need one of you to answer my letter.

The two people I have brought back with me are an officer called Billings, who initially was most helpful and understanding, though she is still convinced I am the mythical figure Lauren of London. She is so traumatized from her experience of London in 2023 that I’m not sure she will be of much help. The man is called Doctor Chowdry and I think he is what passes for the top scientist among the Bunker People. Scraps of life from earlier decades escaped destruction and in oral tradition knowledge was passed down his family. He is certainly clever as he worked out how to get us back to 2023, though it took him a few weeks and he didn’t quite get the date right.

Thus it was that we arrived back in London on the day of King Charles’ coronation, eighteen days after I left, but in the right place. There were the three of us in the Ladies at Wetherspoon. Luckily a trio of chattering women barged in through a door so at least I could see the way out; I hustled my companions through it before the women noticed one of us was a bloke and we were all dressed strangely. I realised we were late when I saw a missing persons poster in the corridor…

Were you in this Wetherspoon on the evening of Tuesday 18th April 2023?

The flattering photo of me dressed up for the ‘do’ we went to in March looked nothing like the person I had just glimpsed in the mirror. I had exchanged my sackcloth for the bunker clothes the civilians wore in the bunker, but they were hardly flattering.

We had tried to plan how we would arrive inconspicuously, but the main problem was that I had lost my handbag during my narrow escape from the great cat attack. I had no money, no proof of identity and no way of getting home.

Upstairs in the restaurant it was daylight; the place was packed and in celebratory mood. I tried to slip us out quickly, but had time to see a chap reading a newspaper with the front page proclaiming Coronation Day. Outside were crowds of people, though I knew we could not be on the route of the royal procession. Police were everywhere, security I supposed as there were protestors. Then the full implication of my position hit me. My family must be distraught, perhaps thinking I was dead. How could I contact my husband, should I tell one of the police officers? No, they would think I was trouble of some sort, they were already arresting a protestor. I was overwhelmed with panic, but that was nothing compared with the terror I saw in the faces of my two companions.

A woman’s voice behind me spoke in a calming tone. I hung on tight to the others as they flinched at the sight of the uniform.

‘You look like you need help, or perhaps just a cup of tea, a day like this can be very overwhelming. We’re doing refreshments in the hall over there.’

The Salvation Army, hurrah, yes I did need a cup of tea and as they are used to not judging people, salvation was literally at hand. We did not look much stranger than the other people gathered round various tables and as we collected our tea I told the woman I needed help.

‘You help look for missing people and put people back in touch?’

‘Yes we certainly do.’

‘I need to get in contact with my husband.’

‘How long have you been away?’

‘Eighteen days.’

‘Oh, that’s not long, are you able to go home or do you want a third party to speak to him?’

‘It’s complicated and I haven’t got a phone or any money so I think that would be a very good idea.’

So, good people reading this, that is how I was initially reunited with my family, who also don’t believe me. You will perhaps have heard about me on the news, but I plead with you to contact me personally and listen to the story the three of us have to tell.

Thursday Tiny Tale -Last Words

Where can it be?

Goodness knows, we’ve looked in all the likely places, but there’s so much junk stuffed everywhere.

Don’t sneer, could be valuables hiding amongst the rubbish.

Ah ha, this could be interesting, Diary 1949 …

’I am determined to write in this every day, so many exciting things happening to me at the moment. Tricia had a new year’s party and her brother chatted to me!!! He is going to call me on our new telephone.’

Oh no, that’s all she wrote, bet he didn’t phone her.

Here’s a hopeful looking envelope…

‘To my grandchildren’

Bad luck on that front Mum…

Open it then.

‘I know everything is electronic now, but newspapers are a wonderful record of everyday life. I saved a newspaper from every eventful day starting with the day Giles was born right up to William and Catherine’s royal wedding; if you’re doing a school project or even a history degree they could come in handy.’

Oh that would be interesting, a newspaper from the day I was born…

Bad luck Giles, we put all those boxes of papers in the recycling bin when we tackled the loft, anyway, you can look them up on line…

Now this envelope looks a lot more hopeful.

‘If you find a pair of pink gloves I bought them on holiday. I remember taking them out of my suitcase, then I never saw them again.’

Perhaps she wasn’t joking when she said there was a secret drawer in that awful old bureau.

Oh look, our homemade birthday cards…

Never mind those, get a tape measure and work out if there’s a false back, or feel around for some secret levers.

We’re not taking it to Antiques Roadshow, let’s try that small panel with a screwdriver.

Well I never, why would she leave a letter to me hidden away?

Open it then, don’t keep us in suspense.

‘My Darling Giles, you always wanted to know the truth; the truth about your father.  I’m afraid I have to tell you, hard though it will be to come to terms, my husband was your father and the father of your younger brothers. I know he was very boring, but I’m afraid I did not have an affair with some splendidly exotic chap, goodness knows where you get your good looks from.

Oh at last, you’re no better than us Darling Giles, even if you were Mum’s favourite.

But is that it then, what happened to

‘All will be revealed in the house when I’m gone.’

She said that about ten years ago, probably forgot to leave the clues.

Now we’re getting somewhere –

 Last Will and Testament

Thought she said she wasn’t going to leave one.

Perhaps that’s the surprise we were supposed to get. Right, let’s open it

WH Smith make your own will kit

She never filled it in…

Tuesday Tale -The Book

Tonight’s tale follows on from last week’s or you can read as a stand alone story.

The book had been locked away again; I had only read the opening lines of Door To The Future, published 2028, but enough to know the narrator shared my name and had also been propelled into the future. There must be many Lauren Smiths around, this book need not have anything to do with me, just a coincidence, though how many others of my namesake had gone through the wrong door?

How did it come to be written and if it was about me, was it reassuring proof that I returned to my own time? It was unlikely I had written it, I had no imagination, as my English teacher was always telling me. Before we had the children I worked in an office and wrote reports, dealt with finances. I liked that world of precision and writing a romantic fantasy novel would never have occurred to me. Someone else could have written it, but I knew no writers to tell my story to.

‘Lauren, Miss Smith, did you hear what I said dear, you must be tired, we must let you sleep.’

I had been so deep in thought I had lost track of what my rescuer and his mother were talking about.

‘No, I can’t sleep, I need to find out how this happened to me and how I can get back.’

‘No hurry dear, your time will stay the same, that’s what the book says.’

As they tried to explain their world I realised I could understand their past and my future better than they possibly could. I surmised Billings in the bunker had a better grasp of what had happened; my stomach churned as I wondered if she had made it safely back to the bunker or had she been eaten? I asked my rescuer what creature it was that attacked me.

‘A great cat, he wouldn’t eat you, got plenty of venison and beef out there, they just like to play with the weaker humans.’

The creature I glimpsed was a lot bigger than mythical black panthers spotted in the west country, it didn’t make sense.

As if she read my thoughts the mother spoke.

‘My mother told me strange creatures they had never seen escaped from the borytrees when everything stopped.  Signtists made them from gentic earing. They mixed with other animals that went to the wild…’

It made sense, if normal society broke down the creatures we kept for our entertainment or experiment would escape, not just domestic dogs and cats, but wolf packs lovingly supervised in Scotland, animals in the zoo and wild boars that were already roaming some woodlands. I recalled Billings’ words that farm animals were much better at survival than humans, then there were large deer populations breeding happily with no natural predators.  

‘How did everything stop?’

‘Pewters ran the world, then they turned off the cities.’

A simplistic explanation, but with no books and only stories passed down it must be hard for them to understand. When I worked in the office I was efficient, liked everything to be precise. If I had worked in pre computer days I would have kept immaculate ledger books and orderly filing cabinets; unless the office burnt down all that information would be safe and nothing would hold up our work. If the computers ‘went down’ in our office, or worse, the whole company’s computers were down it was a disaster, we were helpless and expected the tech people to sort it out. I Lauren Smith could not fix a computer let alone make them. If power started failing there would be no basic services or computers; society would grind to a halt.

‘But survivors, hunters… our people knew how to get food’ said my rescuer.

I would have been a bunker person, so would my friends. It was obvious who would survive, anyone who had been in the armed forces, knew how to use a gun, survive under tough conditions. Even those people we look down on who go out shooting grouse or culling deer and enjoying the stalking, they had the last laugh. Farmers, they deserved to survive, presumably they knew more about animals than the rest of us and probably had a shot gun handy and could kill a sheep or cow if need be.  I knew little about life outside the city and now it seemed my lifestyle was pathetic when it came to awful disasters.  But still there was a big question.

‘I don’t understand how the cities in my time could crumble, we have huge buildings everywhere, tall buildings, ancient stone buildings, where did they all go?’

‘There were wars, then the big destruction came. Weapons flew by themselves, even when the wars stopped. Weapons dropped out of the sky and flattened cities, my mother remembers even from the countryside where they had escaped they could see the fire and smoke on the far horizon.  The city people who survived were hiding underground.’

In my cosy little world of the family and my teaching assistant job we watched the news, but still felt removed from all the awful events. Syria, Ukraine, it was possible for cities to be flattened under relentless attack and unmanned drones were a reality.

Even if I took the hunters and bunker people back to my time right now it was probably too late to unravel events already set in motion. I looked down at the uncomfortable rough cloth I was wrapped in and at the rough clothes of the man and his mother. Even if we could get back to 2023, who on earth would listen to us and our tale?

Tuesday Tale – Outside

Today’s tale continues last week’s story.

I felt a rush of air and something or someone grabbing me, hoisting me, hoisting me up as huge claws and teeth were inches from my face.

A huge horse, a rider, my teenage fantasy. I was being hauled up behind the rider. In my fantasy I was lithe and young, rescued by the handsome hero to nestle safely in his arms and cling to the horse’s mane. In reality I was a forty year old mother who had been snatched away from reality into a dystopian future.

‘Hang on tight, I can’t stop’ ordered the rider.

Hang on to what? The man was encased in leather and straps and encumbered with weapons, so was the horse. Suddenly his arm swung up then down, there was a glint of steel followed by a primeval scream. I felt something warm splatter my face; before I instinctively closed my eyes I had seen the arc of blood. If I thought being in the bunker was a nightmare I now realised why Billings said the outside was dangerous.

It was getting dark, but there were lights ahead, a sign that this was a nightmare and I would wake up in my own bed?

The lights were not a return to normality, but flaming torches lining some sort of tunnel. I clung on tight to my rescuer; it was painfully uncomfortable, but better than being eaten by a strange beast. The tunnel sloped downwards and tiled walls were just discernible in the flickering light. Tiled walls that belonged to a civilised city, but where was the city? If I had only been propelled seventy seven years into the future it made no sense. The open wild land I had glimpsed so far had no signs of buildings. Buildings become ruins, they don’t disappear; London could not have disappeared.

I heard other voices, figures emerged from the gloom. We weren’t underground, but in a huge compound. Rugged walls, more torches and a couple of leather clad people with guard dogs.

‘What sort of hunting do you call this?’

A fierce looking chap stepped forward and grabbed the reins.

‘I have no idea who or what she is, but let Mazie take her to the hospitality room and get cleaned up and then I will be the one to question her.’

Hospitality sounded encouraging and two women sat me by a fire and put a bowl of warm water by me. With no mirror I could only guess what my face looked like; the rest of me was bloodied.

‘Do you have a name?’

Did I look so strange I might have been living in the wild, not on an evening out in London with my husband?

‘Lauren, Lauren Smith. I know who I am and where I come from, but I have no idea where I am now.’

‘You’re not from the bunkers?’

I shook my head.

‘Well you are certainly not one of us.’

‘Who are you please?’

‘Hunters of course, Survivors, not like them lot underground. You’ll have to strip off, we’ll burn your clothes, you can’t have the scent of blood on you, wouldn’t stand a chance out there.’

For a moment I thought they were going to send me back ‘out there’, then I felt an hysterical giggle rise in my throat. What would I wear to the theatre if they burnt all my clothes? They put me behind an animal skin screen, poured water into a tub of sorts and handed me a bundle of rough cloth which I had no idea how to put on. Shower gel was obviously not going to be an option.

The drink was welcome as I sat on a bench and saw the bearded face of my rescuer properly for the first time. He smiled, he could have been a chap on television presenting a living in the wilds programme, just a normal man a bit rough and ready.

‘Thanks, thanks so much for rescuing me. I know you won’t believe me if I did tell you who I am and how I got here, or at least I have no idea how I got here.’

‘You look so weird I would believe anything you told me, I mean what on earth were you wearing?’

‘Tell me first what year it is.’

‘2099 of course, can you believe we’re nearly at the end of the century, the strangest century in human history.’

‘I come from 2023, London. I was in a restaurant with my husband and I went through a door and ended up in the bunker.’

‘Okay, so I don’t believe you.’

‘In the bunker a woman declared I was a prophecy come true, come from the past to take you all back to change what happened.’

‘Streuth, of course, the holy book my mother keeps locked up. I never believed all that rubbish … have you come masquerading as Lauren of London to trick some of the gullible ones?’

‘I am not a saviour, just an ordinary person, but perhaps if I meet your mother she will realise I am not a prophecy.’

‘Well here she is, hey Mother, you didn’t waste any time coming to see the stranger.’

‘Of course not, great excitement out there, I guessed you would need my help. I hope you are treating her properly.’

‘Oh yes, I am very grateful to your son for saving my life and everyone has been very hospitable.’

I thought it best to keep on the right side of a mother who might be an important person in this strange community.

‘I have waited all my life for this moment Lauren of London.’

‘No you don’t understand. I am not a saviour, just an ordinary person who can’t believe she has been transported to the future, a future that makes no sense.’

‘Of course my dear, you don’t understand yet. We have a learning journey of months, maybe years, to go on before the great return. First we will open the Holy Book together.’

I was escorted royally to a wooden hut of sorts.

‘Welcome to my home Lauren.’

Inside she slid open a sort of hatch and produced a rudimentary key to unlock a small rectangular box out of which she took a book, kissed it reverentially then handed it to me. I nearly burst out laughing. It was a paperback book, yellowed with age, but I could still discern the lurid cover and guessed it was one of those romantic fantasy novels my sister loves reading.  

‘Do you have other books?’

‘Oh no, all gone and what need to do we have of books, just this precious one.’

‘Do you read it often?’

‘I can’t read, my mother used to read it to me when I was little till her eyesight failed; then she carried on telling the prophesy and I learnt it from her, even passed it on to some in the bunkers. Please read it to me.’

I looked at the cover, Door to the Future,  not a very original title… by J M Scribbletide, what sort of name was that for a novelist? I perused the first page to find a publishing date, 2028. I felt a chill, this was no holy book, but it was proof that it came from beyond my time. I turned a page and started reading it to the eager woman.

‘It was just an ordinary evening out with my other half, who would have imagined that ordinary me, Lauren Smith, was about to have her life changed beyond imagining…’

Tuesday Tale – The Wrong Door

Today’s story follows on from this tiny tale, or you can read it as a stand alone story.

I should have been in the theatre with my husband watching that new comedy drama. Instead I was trapped in a drama that was not funny.

‘Madam, you are not registered with any sector in this bunker. Which bunker are you registered at?’

How had a trip to the Ladies at a Wetherspoon pub turned into a dystopian nightmare? I must have opened the wrong door…

‘Please tell me where I am and who you are, then I will tell you who I am.’

I was now in a strangely lit smaller room with half a dozen men and women all in the same uniform, all glaring at me.

‘Name and date of birth Madam.’

‘Lauren Smith, 8th February, 1983.’

There was a sharp intake of breath and mutterings.

‘You are just making things difficult for yourself, please show us you ID and current status.’

Shakily I opened my handbag and fumbled for my driver’s licence.

‘Very funny, what do you call this piece of historic plastic?’

Suddenly a woman pushed past the others to stand close to me.

‘It’s her, it must be, the prophecy…’

‘Billings, you are on duty, this is not the time for your ridiculous fantasies, have you taken your medication today?’

‘Please Sir, just let me talk to her, I mean look at what she’s wearing… Lauren, it’s okay, we don’t mean any harm, we’re just not used to strangers turning up here.  What is the date today?’

‘Tuesday 18th April.’

‘…and the year?’

‘2023 of course.’

‘It is her Sir, come to take us back to change things.’

‘For God’s sake Billings, the dawn of the 22nd century and you still believe in time travel and benevolent forces coming to save us.’

Some of my questions were being answered, but not the answers I wanted. Best case scenario I was being tricked and filmed for some ridiculous reality television show, but who would have arranged such a thing? Jay did not have the imagination and all he wanted was a romantic night away with me while his sister looked after the kids. And if this was real… the children. How would Jay explain to them I had gone missing, the last person to see me, they always suspect the husbands…’

‘Lauren, are you feeling okay, come with me to the calm zone and have a drink, you’re in shock.’

Mutterings among the others got louder and scarier.

‘She’s in trouble, not shock. Obviously a spy…  or a total nut case.’

Despite my terror I wondered how politically incorrect language had survived.

‘Billings, you are dismissed from duty, report to headquarters in the morning.’

I was about to lose my only hope.

‘No, please, I am not a spy and I do not have mental health issues, just let Billings show me the way I came in so I can leave.’

‘No one leaves the bunker till the all clear.’

A green light flashed on the wall.

‘All clear’ said Billings triumphantly ‘permission to escort the prisoner to the custody suite while you supervise the security checks.’

‘Ten minutes then report back to me.’

My new friend ushered me out of the room and into a dark corridor. Was she a friend or was worse to come?

‘I have to get back, my husband will be wondering where on earth I am.’

‘You are not how I always imagined, but then the prophecy says only a few will recognise her and to think it is me you have chosen to be your disciple.’

‘But I am just an ordinary person who hasn’t a clue what’s going on.’

‘But you will, that’s what the writings say and it’s my privilege to help you. Once I take you outside you will understand.’

‘Yes, outside, lets go before your boss changes his mind.’

A door, a door with chinks of light, she pulled a lever and it opened; but not onto a busy London street at twilight.

I closed my eyes against the brightness, a wonderful scent came to me, fresh air, air even fresher than during the Covid lockdown. The ground felt soft underfoot. I opened my eyes. I was surrounded by green; fields and trees as far as I could see. If I had time travelled I was surely in the past, unless I had died.

‘Is this real, it’s wonderful, where are we?’

‘In North London ward, April 18th 2099.’

‘But it can’t be. If we are really in the future it means the planet was saved.’

 I ran through the luxuriant grass like a child, hugged a tree.

Wait Lauren, it’s not safe, you must stay with me till you understand.’

‘Do you know how I can get back to 2023?’

‘No, you need to tell us how to get back so we can change things.’

‘But how and why, it’s beautiful, nature has reclaimed part of the city, how much is like this?’

‘All of it.’

‘Impossible, all of London?’

‘All of the world.’

‘How wonderful.’

‘Wonderful for the world and other creatures, but not for humans. It started in your time, most of you didn’t realise. I thought you would know all this as the wise woman who knew the past and the future.’

I was beginning to wonder if Billings should have taken her medication.

‘You don’t get it do you? I expect you have a lot to learn before you can help us. You turned everything off, no more polluting power stations and vehicles, no more exploiting the earth and the oceans. It didn’t happen overnight, but you weren’t prepared. People couldn’t get to work and many jobs ceased to exist. Food couldn’t get to shops, then food wasn’t being grown or caught. Only the ‘organics’ as they were called managed to support themselves, but they weren’t so smug if they got ill and realised hospitals could not function without power and medicine could not be manufactured.’

I couldn’t believe what she was saying, but wanted to defend my times.

‘But we all learned to live off the land eventually?’

‘The minority who were left in safe pockets.’

‘But you still have wars, the bunkers…’

‘No war, not on any scale. The bunkers are where we live most of the time. The outside is dangerous, most people did not know how to hunt, or at least hunt without being killed first. Farm animals left to their own devices turned out to be better than us at survival and provided good food for the carnivores to thrive.’

‘But if you could you go back how would you change things?’

‘That is for you to explain. You are a scientist as well as a seer…’

I was a teaching assistant in primary school, I didn’t even do A Level science or maths and certainly knew nothing about time travel. I clung to the tree with its spring leaves budding, it felt so solid and alive and real. I looked up at a host of birds calling and singing. Was this paradise? Suddenly all the birds took off from the branches in terror. I looked down to see a large creature slinking through the long grass. Billings’ voice and the sirens seemed faint as I heard my heart thumping.

Tuesday Tiny Tale 500 – Doors

‘Don’t be long, we’ll have to leave for the theatre in a few moments.’

‘Hmm, looks like the Ladies is downstairs, send out a search party if I’m not back in five ha ha.’

I was not surprised to find a choice of narrow corridors and dark doors at the bottom of the rickety stairs. We were in one of those large Wetherspoons in an old interesting rescued building, with cosy nooks and different levels. More fun than the minimalist, exorbitant restaurant Jay had wanted to try, even if the food was exactly the same as our local Wetherspoons back home. One of my hobbies was clocking up new Wetherspoons on our holidays and mid week breaks, especially if they had interesting toilets.

I ventured down the most likely corridor, past a kitchen, a door to a yard and several staff only signs. The very last door looked hopeful and I was not disappointed; a huge circular space with higgledy piggledy cubicles, sofas, vanity benches and fairy tale mirrors. There was no one else around so I sneaked out my phone and took a few pictures for my blog. I could also put some on that new blog, Tuesday Toilets.

It was the mirrors that confused me as I was blasted by the gothic hot air drier. Where was the door out? Where was the door I had come in? I opened the cleaner’s cupboard and baby changing. I looked at my watch and wondered if Jay would send down a search party.

Now I was beginning to panic. I tried to calm down and work my way round logically trying every door and all the mirrors. I hoped Jay would send a search party.

I nearly fell through a mirror, it must have swivelled. Thank goodness. But as it closed behind me I realised it was the wrong door. This was not the corridor I had come down, no sign of the stairs back up. This corridor sloped down, but at least if I followed it I would either end up in another kitchen and apologise or go out of the fire exit. I should phone Jay to tell him what was going on.

There was no signal on my phone. Then I heard a man’s voice.

‘Come on Luv, hurry up, we’ve got to get down to the bunker, didn’t you hear the sirens?

A man in a  strange uniform with a large torch appeared at my side and pushed me through a door I had not noticed. I was blinded by the light; a vast space that didn’t make sense. A new modern tube station, but there weren’t any new tube lines in this part of London.

‘Which sector Madam?’

‘I don’t know, I don’t know where I am. Is this the underground station?’

‘We should be so lucky, wouldn’t we all like a train out of here… happy days eh? Now tell me which sector you are registered with so we can get you swiped in. We need to make sure everyone is accounted for after what happened last week.’

Tuesday Tiny Tale – Backstage

Charlotte was looking forward to open day at the Hambourne Theatre Royal. A rather grand name for a building that looked like it had seen better days. She had not seen inside, it was one of the places on her list as a new resident of Hambourne. Joining the Hambourne Players had not been on the list, but it seemed a good way to join a backstage tour of the theatre and get inspiration for another adventure for Lottie Lincoln, accidental crime investigator.

Mothering Sunday was best avoided this year and the open day sounded like a Mothers’ Day free zone. As she stepped into the foyer she hoped she would recognise at least one or two of the Hambourne Players and hopefully one or two of them might recognise her. If she ever progressed to an active role in the group they would soon find out she could not act, but hopefully she could paint some scenery, be the prompt or even contribute a few lines to the play they were hoping to write.

A man in a suit was herding people into groups; there was a good turnout and three tours were setting off at the same time. Charlotte sidled over when she heard Hambourne Players being called, she felt like the new girl at school again, especially when someone called out ‘Charlotte Charlington?’

Why did her parents have to ensure she was always going to end up being called Charley by everyone except her parents?

A few of the group stared, some didn’t even turn to look at the newcomer, but a few smiled.  She was relieved when the theatre manager started addressing their group and she could avoid having to talk to anyone or worse still have no one wanting to chat to her.

What a lovely theatre, all plush red and opulence from another age, but obviously in need of a lot of loving care, as the manager was quick to point out. She trotted along enthusiastically with the group as they passed through narrow doors and down steep steps. What to stars and theatre staff were narrow corridors and shabby small dressing rooms, were to Charlotte scenes of mystery and dark intrigue for her new novel.

Her excitement grew as they climbed up yet more narrow stairs and came out onto the stage. Real ropes and pulleys and strange equipment in dark spaces high above their heads. A technical chap was now explaining how ropes, weights and counter balances worked and the dangers that lurked in an environment deliciously free of health and safety.  Charlotte resisted the temptation to ask if they ever had any nasty accidents. It was then her phone emitted a jolly tune.

‘Mum, where on earth are you, looks like you’re on board a sailing boat.’

‘Shsh Maddy, you didn’t say you were going to Facetime this morning, thought you were going to spend all day in bed as it’s Mothers’ Day.’

Charlotte tried to become invisible and dodge behind some black curtains.

‘I am in bed Mum, they brought me breakfast and I am going to stay here allll… day till the roast beef is ready this evening.’

Charlotte resisted the temptation to say she never got a lie in when they were young, let alone languishing all day… but her main thought was to get her daughter off the phone.

‘Can we Facetime this evening…

‘Oh, okay, I thought you would be sad and lonely…’

Charlotte sighed, now Maddy was going to take umbrage.

‘…what are you doing and who’s that weird bloke talking?’

‘Shsh they’ll hear you, I’m on a theatre backstage tour…’

The technical chap was saying something about grand pianos and raising platforms as Charlotte hurriedly stuffed her phone back in her bag as if she had never taken it out in the first place. The stage floor felt rather uneven, very uneven, Charlotte felt herself go off balance as she heard someone say ‘SWITCH IT OFF.’

‘No I’m fine, just lost my balance for a moment.  No please don’t call the first aid officer… ’

Charlotte looked up at the bemused faces above her and cringed, but at the same time her mind retreated into the world of Lottie Lincoln, a night at the theatre, an actor on stage mysteriously disappearing…

Silly Saturday – Baz the Bad Blogger Bows Out.

Today is the last post I’m sharing with Baz the Bad Blogger, for this month at least… it is the first in depth interview he has given or at least promised to give. He has at last revealed what his front door looks like.

Congratulations to David who was the first to guess correctly that this is the only door Baz sees the inside of and it also keeps everybody else OUT. But Baz’s home is surprisingly small for such a big personality…

…though he still has room for his hobbies such as model railways..

I asked Baz what he liked best about blogging.

‘Reading the spam comments.’

And does he have any tips for bloggers and users of social media.

‘Yes, always be honest.’

A selection of Baz’s comments on WordPress, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc perhaps best illustrate why he is so popular.

Your blog was two yards long, but at least I had something to read during my long wait in accident and emergency.

Your blog was mercifully short, but still the most boring blog I have ever read.

If my baby looked like that I certainly wouldn’t put its picture on Facebook.

If that is the cover of your book I dread to think what the words inside are like.

Yes, well Baz, perhaps we had better leave those comments where they belong. Thanks for being my guest, did you say you were off on holiday soon?

‘Yes, somewhere far away.’

Farewell Baz… I really enjoyed getting to know him better and my impression is that he is really just a big old softy who loves his teddies…

…and who will remember to send his mother a card on Mothering Sunday.

Friday Fun with Baz the Bad Blogger

Today we discover an unknown side to Baz, his artistic talent. Some have compared him to Banksy, others to Anthony Gormley, but nobody actually knows anything about Baz. His works vary from street art to installation pieces. Enjoy just some of the highlights of his prolific work.

Don’t miss tomorrow’s blog when Baz will hopefully reveal which door was his and some more insights into his life.