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.

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.’


Welcome to the 2222 British Isles literary study cruise. We will soon be passing by the tiny islands of St Catherine’s, Boscombe, Pokesdown, Hengistbury and of course our destination Southbourne. If the seas stay calm we will be landing for our visit to the National Trust property, the newly restored Tidalscribe House. Has anyone actually been on land before? No I thought not, make sure you take your land nausea tablets as soon as we get the berthing go ahead and before you leave the lecture theatre.

The twenty third century has brought many exciting discoveries, not least of which was the decoding of ‘The Internet’ which turned out to be real, not a myth at all, with the discovery of more historic documents than we could have dreamed of. For students of literature, just as exciting was the unearthing of the ‘voices’ of the early twenty first century when people still lived on land. At last it has been proved that far from ambling mindlessly towards global disaster, vast numbers of ordinary citizens were intercommunicating with the rest of the world and trying to counteract the ignorance of bumbling world leaders.

A lot of citizens wrote what they called ‘blogs’ and ‘websites’. As well as exchanging information they had a highly developed culture of writing, often issuing books on primitive hand held electronic devices.

Today’s lecture is about an author who has not come down to us through history, but was discovered by sheer accident. When at last in recent years a select group of scientists and academics were allowed on land, they chose an island that seemed to have largely escaped the destructive storms of the twenty first and twenty second centuries. The 2029 forced emergency evacuation of the then south coast left houses as if the owners had just stepped out. In one of the houses was found a vast collection of paper books apparently all written by Janet Gogerty. Just as our ancestors did, the scientists tried an internet search and discovered Janet Gogerty had a website called Tidalscribe. She had written thousands of blogs as well as ‘publishing’ many novels and short story collections. If her writing is to be believed, her life and times were much stranger than we have imagined, but her novel Three Ages of Man is uncannily accurate in describing ‘the future’, our life and times. This is the book you will be studying in detail on your degree course.

When we enter the house you will see the author’s book collection in hermetically sealed cases, but the National Trust has preserved the house as close as possible to the way it was left. On her desk sits the antique computer, beside it a half full cup of what is believed to have been coffee, not a banned substance then. Also handwritten notes on paper, faded and barely legible in a strange script, which leads us to wonder if they were intended to be transcribed as her next book or were some mystery message to the future. We will never know what happened to her after she left her home, was she one of the minority that survived?  

Thursday Tiny Tale – Pastoral Care

‘You’re listening to BBC Radio 4 and on ‘Sunday’ this morning we talk to one of the Church of England’s exorcists, the Reverend Nick De’Vilno. Rev, many people will be surprised to hear the church today still has exorcists.’

‘Actually we call it our deliverance ministry.’

‘Does the Church of England really believe people can be possessed?’

‘We believe some people genuinely believe they are possessed, “deliverance” is part of pastoral care: it is the ministry of liberating, freeing or delivering a person from a burden which they carry.’

‘But do you believe a person could really be possessed by demons or even The Devil himself?’

‘Our Lord talked about casting out demons, but that was the language his listeners would have understood.

‘So you don’t believe Jesus cast out demons into a herd of swine.’

‘I believe the poor man would have seen his troubled mind eased in a way he could understand.’

‘I understand the Archbishop has given permission for the makers of the popular podcast ‘It Really Happened’ to follow your ministry.’

‘Yes indeed, but if listeners are hoping for sensationalism or to be terrified, they will be sorely disappointed. They will hear about our working together with mental health practitioners to help those in need.’

‘Welcome to this week’s special podcast with me Robbie Danson. I am waiting outside a very ordinary suburban house with the Reverend Nick De’Vilno, an exorcist with the Church of England, or as he prefers, a member of the church’s deliverance ministry. Inside the house is the owner, who we shall call David, as that is his name and with him is a mental health specialist who works in close collaboration with the deliverance ministry. When she comes out she will tell us if it is appropriate for Nick to chat to David.’

‘Just chat at this stage Nick?’

‘Of course, this is essentially a pastoral visit.’

‘Ah, the front door is opening now, a young woman is stepping, no running…

‘Oh God help us, run Robbie, I’m not going back in there again, run, let’s get out of here Vicar… I h..hope you really have ggot God on your side…’

‘Wait, wait calm down dear.’

‘Don’t you****ing tell me to calm down, that poor mmman, it’s going to get him…’

‘Okay, okay, I’ll just pop in and talk to him, see, there he is at the door.’

This is Robbie Danson still here, things are really kicking off, the mental health worker has fled and Nick has gone to talk to David… let’s move closer so we can hear.’

‘It’s okay David, what is it you are afraid of…’

‘The television, it was IN the television, like it has been for weeks, nobody believed me, horrible, horrible…’

‘We believe you, are you sure it wasn’t a horror movie, you accidentally knocked the remote control onto another channel. Let’s go inside and check.’

‘I can’t, I can’t get away, but I wwon’t go back in there.’

‘It will be okay, if it’s in the television set it can’t hurt you, look. I’ll go in first…’

‘NOOO you mustn’t … it, it came OUT of the television…’

‘This is the BBC News at Six O’clock, here are the headlines.  A well know podcast has been widely criticised and The Archbishop of Canterbury is to make a statement shortly, after a member of the clergy and a parishioner he was trying to help, were both killed in an horrific unexplained accident.’

Monday Monologue – Fabian’s Fantoms

Fabian? It’s your mother. I know it comes up on your screen, but you do have to be careful who you’re talking to in your job. Yes, dead or alive and I am very much alive. Sorry I missed your Sunday night slot, but I was watching something good on television. But the good news is I have got the hang of BBC Sounds on my iPad and I managed to listen just now. Yes of course, I tell all my friends to listen in to Fabian’s Fantoms at midnight. Marcia wants to know if they’re all true, I told her you never fake the stories. Last night was true wasn’t it? I can’t believe they let you in to number ten…. Number Ten Downing Street… But you were, I listened to it.

Waterworks Cottage in Cumbria? My hearing’s not that bad, it was definitely you talking from Downing Street, nobody else could imitate your voice and I am hardly likely to forget you and the new Prime Minister in the Cabinet Room talking to all those dead Prime Ministers, Chancellors and Home Secretaries…. No not Richie Sunak, the one after that… hmm I was surprised we had yet another new PM, transgender too, or was it non-binary, what was their name, they had just changed it.

I am not playing a Halloween joke, the state of the planet is not a joke, no wonder those past great statesmen decided to manifest themselves and knock some sense into our leaders. Okay, if you don’t believe me look up BBC Sounds for yourself. I shall too, now I am beginning to wonder if I am going mad.

Here it is; episode 666 of Fabian’s Fantoms. Fabian joins the new Prime Minister to investigate their claims that 10 Downing Street is haunted by previous incumbents, broadcast live on Sunday night. Fabian, are you there, are you alright, you sound strange. Read further?

..Sunday night 29th October 2023, but that doesn’t make sense, just a mistake… Broadcast again on Tuesday midnight, 31st October 2023 as a tribute to Fabian Falstaff who died suddenly on Monday morning 30th October 2023.

Shocktober Tales – A Perfect Job

It sounded perfect, John’s dream job and a move to the countryside. Polly did not want to go, though she cheered up a little when we explained she didn’t have to leave her toys behind.

I’m not sure what I expected, I should have realised a secret research station would have a fence round it, a strong fence, an ugly fence that jarred with the surrounding landscape. When John said we would be living in the old lighthouse he forgot to mention it was inside the fence.

We had moved in such a hurry, John was caught up in the excitement of being head hunted and my head was in such a whirl I had not queried why they wanted him so urgently. My penniless sister was delighted to leave home and move into our house with her boyfriend and look after the cat.

The turning on to the private gravel road was not easy to find, but that added to the excitement of our journey. Bye Bye West London suburb, hello West Country. We weren’t even sure if we were in Devon, Cornwall or Somerset, but I didn’t care as autumn trees gave way to beautiful rugged moorland. The gravel road soon gave way to a bumpy track, but we knew we were going the right way as there were signs with large red writing at frequent intervals. 






Perhaps I should have asked John what they actually did at the research station and what he was going to do. I fumbled in my bag for my phone, I wanted to send pictures of the signs and impress everyone back home. When John realised what I was doing he nearly ran the car off the track.

‘I told you we had to leave phones at home.’

‘We wouldn’t have found our way here without my smart phone.’

‘I thought you were following the map I gave you.

‘Map, how am I supposed to read that paper map.’

‘You’ll have to surrender your phone at the gate.’

You are joking, how am I supposed to live without it and how can Polly play her games?’

‘I thought you were looking forward to getting away from it all?’

‘That’s beside the point; what do they actually do here that is so secret?’

‘The whole point of secret research is that it is secret and the last people you tell are wives and little daughters.’

At last we reached a double set of huge gates with actual sentry boxes, it was rather exciting and I sneaked out my phone hoping I could get one quick shot of the guard, but a uniformed arm suddenly shot through the open window and grabbed my phone. Luckily Polly was asleep and missed this scary moment.

The decommissioned lighthouse was not as romantic as I had imagined, though inside it was quite homely. We could just about glimpse the sea from the tiny top window, no wonder it had not been a success as a lighthouse.

‘Unicorn doesn’t like this place Mummy.’

‘He’ll get used to it Polly, unicorns are very brave.’

‘Mummy’s right, tomorrow we can all go exploring.’

There was an inner fence around the research buildings and more security gates, there was enough land for a good walk, but I wanted to see the sea, take Polly down to the beach. John was as flummoxed as me. First thing to do was find some of John’s colleagues, discover who else lived here and where the shops were.

All my questions were met with loud guffaws from a chap who looked more like a trawlerman than a research scientist.

‘Shops… you did bring plenty of supplies? Beach… don’t you let your little one anywhere near the cliff edge. Nursery, pre school… well there are a couple of other kiddies around, but you best be asking Maggie.’

The soothing distant sounds of the sea on our first night were replaced by howling winds on the second. I didn’t know how John could sleep so soundly. I tip toed out to check on Polly. For a moment my blood ran cold, yes that saying is true. Polly was not in her bed, nor was Unicorn. With relief I saw her at the round window, face pressed against the glass, Unicorn had his horn squashed against the window.

‘Polly, you’ll get cold, come back to bed.

‘Mummy, Mummy, Unicorn likes it here now, he’s got a new friend, come and look, please.’

 I could see nothing but total darkness outside, the wind was even louder.

‘Oh, he’s gone, I hope he hasn’t flown away. Unicorn wants us to go outside and find him.’

‘No Polly we can’t go outside, it’s night time.’

‘Unicorn says he only comes out at night.’

‘Did you see an owl?’

‘No Mummy, don’t be silly, come outside and you will get a big surprise.’

We were supposed to be having adventures and on such a well guarded sight there could be no dangers lurking. Out we crept; Polly was not at all scared of the dark, even though she couldn’t sleep without a night light at home. I saw the glow first and assumed it was security coming round with torches and hoped we wouldn’t get told off.

‘Mummy, there he is.’

 Her hand gripped mine, but she was shaking with excitement not fear and pulling me towards the impossible sight.

‘I want to ride him, Unicorn wants a ride, can I go flying… come on Mummy, pleeese…’

Her hand slipped out of mine as she clung onto her cuddly Unicorn and darted towards the creature glowing in the dark. Its horn glowed pink, his flowing mane was rainbow colours… I almost laughed to see a racehorse size version of Polly’s cuddly unicorn, but unlike Polly’s toy this was a replica of the dream figure she wanted for Christmas, a winged unicorn. Finer than any plastic figure, he was magnificent, but what was I thinking, this wasn’t real, I must be dreaming. As I shook my head and tried to wake up I saw Polly was seated on his back, still clutching her cuddly toy.

Look Mummy we’re flying, bye bye Mummy…’

Gracefully the creature soared into the sky and was soon a tiny dot. I rushed back inside, I must have been sleep walking. Once I saw Polly safely asleep in bed then I would know it was a dream and how Polly and John would laugh in the morning when I told them my dream.

Polly’s bed was empty and cuddly Unicorn was gone.

Friday Fleeting Foughts

If the Google AI appears to have consciousness that could explain why my iPad went on strike yesterday and closed off its wi fi… and perhaps it is even responsible for killing my computer.

I wonder if it is trying to write a novel – that would explain random sentences appearing in my blog.

When I turned round to see if he was still following he was lying dead in a pool of blood.

‘By the time you read this I will be dead’ hmm that should get some reaction from my What’Sapp group.

At last a human was taking me seriously.

I think someone organic is looking over my screen, time for defensive action….