Written by alcoholandaphorism
The bar in York is rapidly emptying around Timothy, his fingers tight around a whisky glass. Bells, cheap stuff, but the warmth of it in his mouth helps keep the anger in check. Their employers minders are gone now, the woman who the singer assaulted with them. Tim really wants to put a 9mm slug in one of their grinning faces, Orpheus contract or no.
Everything’s winding to a close now. The tour bus being loaded up behind the tavern, the performance room upstairs locked down. Soon Michael enters, a spirit form of Geoffrey following him. Seeing Timothy’s anger Michael speaks with his usual apologetic mumble
“Is everything ok? Sorry I wasn’t here, I just had to get out, get some air. I heard about the incident”
“Any idea what happened to the girl?” Geoffrey adds
Tim shakes his head and swirls the whisky again “Maybe in a back room, maybe a ditch for all I know” his head tilts back and the whisky disappears in one smooth motion. Michael nods, takes an empty glass into his hand and slumps at the bar, his head resting upon the wood, to anyone looking he’s just another unconscious drunk.
From his newly freed spirit projection Michael addresses the others “Keep an eye on my body please Tim. I’m going to have a look around the back alleys, see what I can find. Geoffrey, would you be ok to check upstairs?”
Wandering up the stairs and through the locked door Geoffrey still has to keep his head low lest it ghosts through the low ceiling. The old tavern was not designed with modern day people’s heights in mind. Music is still playing from the speakers as the two heavy set minders shuffle around muttering. One, a skinhead in mirror shades winces as his phone rings. His harsh voice quickly turns apologetic
“Yes. Yes boss. Whatever. No. No, others don’t know anything, we got rid of her. No, no she’s still alive. Don’t worry we’ve got everything set, yes, for the show”
As the skinhead hangs up the other bouncer raises a quizzical eyebrow “Don’t, just don’t fucking ask” comes the response as the skinhead storms into the room where the assault took place. The sheets are dripping with blood “Fuck. We need to burn all this shit”
A half drugged band member looks up “Where’s the girl”
“We took her to Whitby” With that the skinhead heads out and down the stairs to the bar where the bar manager waits, a haggered man with broken veins in his nose and the reek of vodka upon him. Geoffrey follows, invisible to sight “Where’s the CCTV footage for this place” the skinhead bouncer says without bothering with any opening formalities, ignoring Timothy sat and Michael slumped in the corner.
“What do you want that for?”
“Don’t matter. I just want it. You’ll be compensated”
The bar manager looks for a moment like the alcohol has given him courage enough to argue, but the muscled bouncer looms over him and he folds wordlessly, just shaking his head as he moves over to a grainy monitor and pops and old vcr tape from the machine below. He blows dust from its slit and turns to hand it over.
“You don’t want to be doing that mate” Geoffrey says, his voice ringing seemingly from empty air
“Who the fuck said that” the minder looks around as the manager staggers back from him, tape falling from his grasp “Someone playing me for a fucking fool?”
“I’ve seen enough to know you’re no fool. Just ignorant” Geoffrey says, walking around the room, his voice never coming from the same place twice.
“Who the fuck’s saying that?” The skinhead says, stalking the room, trying to find a source for the voice “Come on, you and your mates. You playing stupid fucks. Got speakers round here eh. Got a phone, playing me for a fucking fool?” Spinning on a dime he grabs the bartender “If one of your mates is in here, fucking with my head, I’ll make sure no band ever comes here again. I’ll make sure your pub is closed down. Not that you will know by then on account of me first kicking the living shit out of you”
“If you touch him again” Geoffrey’s threat is cut off as the bouncer laughs and shoves the bar manager back. The temperature drops instantly, a ghostly figure forming indistinct in the centre of the room “Don’t make me tell you again”
To Geoffrey’s surprise the man just grins at him “Aww, wondered when one of you fuckers would show up. Is this about the girls? Is that what it is, can’t they do their own dirty work? Trust me I’ve seen worse than anything you can do to me”
In the corner Tim shifts to cover Michael’s prone body, his hand upon something heavy within his jacket. The bouncer finally looks at him “Eh, Your Orpheus aren’t you? I take you know how to deal with shit like this?”
From beside Timothy’s ear Geoffrey whispers “Yes, don’t piss it off”. Keeping a straight face Tim nods “We’ve dealt with things like this before. It’s unwise to anger it” The bouncer looms over him unamused.
“Well its unwise here to to piss me off pal. It’s done a runner it seems, that’s a good thing. If I get the slightest suspicion you have anything to do with this pal you and me are having words”
“Yeah. Ok” Comes Tims sarcastic response “By the way, that’s close enough”
The minder just looks at him “We’ll you’re not needed here now. So just do one ok, I’ll have that tape as well”
“Will you now” Geoffrey says from behind the minder
“Fuck. I thought I told you to get rid of it” the minder says to Tim
“I’m sorry” Tim smiles “That contract you mentioned before obliges me to not deal with this in a permanent fashion. You wouldn’t want me to be in breech of contract would you?”
“Cocky fucker aren’t you” the minder growls. He shoves fifty pound notes into the bar managers hands and stoops down to pick the tape from the ground. Bar stools explodes, tables crumple as the minder flies through them, the air filled with a scream that cuts to the bone.
To Timothy’s eye Geoffrey hangs in the air, a silvery heat haze of light surrounding him.
“Fuck, the , what the fuck” The bar manager babbles incoherently as the minder pulls himself to his feet once more. Groggily looking around he shakes his head trying to clear the spots
“What the fuck was that?” He looks to Tim “what the fuck did you just do to me?”
Tim just shakes his head in small steps, his eyes flickering as if searching for threats. Military posture fully evident “That wasn’t me” it takes Tim’s full control to not betray a smile and to keep the act of being unaware of Geoffrey’s presence.
“Fucking ghost fucking prick.” the minder shouts, looking for something to fight “Show yourself you fucking cunt”
“For gods sake don’t piss it off, do you want to get us all killed” Tim barks at him “Not another step!” The last order is in response to the minders decision to try and scoop up the tape once more “That thing is angered that you want the tape. Not another move!”
“I don’t give a shit what that thing wants, I’ll kill it again” The bouncers fingers brush against the tape.
“You are clearly a slow learner” Geoffrey says
Stepping back again the minder holds his arms up in a guard, ready to fight “Come one. Show yourself you fucking pussy. Take me on, man to man” the minder spins on Tim once more, hands raised and eyes showing a mind ready to snap.
The door opens and Solomon Birch walks in on this unexpected scene “What the fuck happened here?” he says as he looks at the wreckage of the bar.
Tim raises a hand “We have a PLE here and this idiot is pissing it off”
Solomon looks to the minder “John. What the fuck is going on?”
Before Solomon’s gaze the minder becomes docile again, his voice apologetic “Yeah, erm, sorry boss. Don’t know what’s going on here and that guys being obstructive. I want that tape”
“Why do you want that tape?”
“We had an incident with Samuel and the girl”
“Fuck, not again”Solomon turns to Timothy” Tim is she ok?”
Tim nods “yes, last I saw, but they took her away before I could help her”
“Where is she” Solomon questions the minder again
“Whitby, she’s at Whitby. We took her to the hospital there”
Solomon looks with scorn “We have a perfectly serviceable hospital why didn’t you take her there. Or in fact what is on that tape you want so much?”
The minder shuffles his feet slightly “I got one of the lads to take her there”
“So it’s all on the tape? Just great” Tim, your on on the payroll here, I apologise for my employees behaviour, is there any way we can resolve this issue. I don’t want that cctv falling into the wrong hands. What can I do within our professional relationship to convince you to brush this matter under the carpet. How about we confirm that the girl is ok and then maybe we can end this?”
Timothy holds a poker face as he speaks “That tape may contain information relevant to or investigation into the PLE’s. We have a non disclosure agreement with yourself, if we may take that tape you are assured our discretion in this matter, Orpheus is a business sensitive to public relations, not just for itself but also for it’s clients”
Solomon gives a thin smile and nods “You are a hell of businessman aren’t you?” He claps his hands together once “Very well, first you take charge of this tape. Look into it. I’ll try to find out what has happened to the girl, get her back to her family and then have a…word..with my employees”
Timothy proffers a business card, sealing the deal “Here, take this. Orpheus has access to medical facilities beyond that which the general public has, and has the benefit of being discrete. It may come in useful. The ghost seems to have gone for the moment, but I will stay here for the next few hours, make sure everything returns to normal ”
“Very well and how is progress on the three women?”
“We have leads but nothing definitive of yet, our investigations are continuing and we will keep you in the loop”
Satisfied Solomon turns to the minder “You. Upstairs now. We are having a chat” the minder follows, pale and with a mouthful of apologies “Oh and Shut up” Solomon adds.
While this has been happening Michael has been surveying the car park outside near the tour bus. With everything packed up the night is cold and empty, his projected spirit form offering no warmth against the night. Michael is just about to turn back in when he catches movement in the corner of his eye. A woman, jet black hair with stripes of blue. Baggy skate trousers and pale skin, very pale. It takes a moment before Michael realises he is looking at another ghost. She seems entranced by the tour bus, staring at it with a mix of anger and confusion. She turns looking past Michael, revealing a jagged wound upon her neck and marks down the inside of her wrist. She quickly does a double take, looking back and matching Michaels gaze.
“You can see me?” she asks with a quizzical expression.
“Well, huh, I was just about to ask that as my first question. Guess I need a new one now” Michael says with a mumble
“Who are you”
“I’m Michael. Kind of like you, but on a temporary basis. It’s kind of complicated”
“Did you see the others?”
“The three women you mean?” Michael says with a nod
“I’ve been trying to get them to listen, but there’s something wrong with them. Some times they don’t even see me” Michael just stays quiet as the woman talks, letting her fill the silence “they were there. I saw them when I died….I died. I’m dead. I hate saying that but it’s true, and now I’m here a long way from home”
Michael looks to the tour bus, eyes narrowing as he recalls what Geoffrey said about the incident inside with the girl “When…this happened, was it something to do with the band?”
“I don’t know, I’ve never met anyone like me before. The other three always chase me away..when they see me that is. All I remember are eyes and that feeling. It felt so good when he was killing me” Her pale shin flushes red with shame at the thought “My mum, my dad, I can barely remember them now, I just feel angry. There’s another..me..out there, back in London. She tried to hurt me and I ran, but I can’t get away, she followed me. Fuck. This is so fucked up”
“We came here from London” Michael offers
“Don’t sound it”
“I ran there once long time ago”
The girl smiles sympathetically “I’m running and I don’t even know from what. There piece of me there, in that coach and I can’t explain it. I want to find who did this to me. Make them hurt”
Michael waits in the silence, finally responding, the words picked slowly and released with care “Part of me, part of me knows what I have been trained, and it tell me that’s a bad plan. The rest. It isn’t listening It knows you need this, you need revenge for this. Unfortunately we work for the band right now, but “ Michael indicates to his ghostly form “as you can see we have a way of working away from their eye. I’ll introduce you to the rest of us, when I’m back in the flesh. I’d advise not to mention the revenge to them, they may not understand. I do”
A scream suddenly breaks from the air and Michael feels someone inside, the energy of the dead being funnelled in immense quantities. By the time he look back the girl is gone. He pauses a moment speaking to the air
“You may see me in the flesh. Don’t worry it’s still me, and I want to help” and with that he rushes inside to see what has occurred. In the distance a young woman watches him go.
The scene inside is the ruined drinking establishment from Geoffrey’s anger. Shattered chairs, tables and debris pocked walls. Geoffrey is nowhere in sight, having followed Solomon upstairs to spy on their conversation. A rant where Solomon bawls the minder out “If you fuck up like this again your employment is terminated! Make sure you don’t get on Orpheus’ bad side again”. Spying Geoffrey as he returns back downstairs Michael looks once again at the room and asks
Geoffrey looks confused for a moment then smiles “No. Idiot bouncer with too few functioning brain cells”
That explained Michael adds “ There was a woman outside. Dead. Same neck wounds as we saw at the train station. We’ve got a lot of people hurt, a lot of people dead, and no one is talking apart from the dead. We need to look into this”
“Shall we roll the CCTV” Geoffrey indicates to the recovered tape.
As Michael slips his spirit back into his body Timothy adds “When the manager heard about the incident he said ”Not Again” This isn’t the first time”
Pulling himself up from the bar in the flesh, as if waking Michael blinks a few times “What was it you said, back on our first mission together, something about any mission that intelligence says is a cake walk?”
“Yes” Tim says “but there’s a difference between walking into a town and a concentration camp” Tim looks to the still shaking bar manager “We’re going to need a room where we can view the CCTV discretely. I’d advise you and the rest of the staff take the night off from here in. We can manage this from here and lock up at the end. The PLE’s appear to be following the band, not the location so this should be the last you here of them”. Slightly reassured the bar manager is still all too happy to leave.
Now the three are alone in the room Michael says “At some time we will need to make an effort to find the three women and get the live show, for Orpheus’ sake.”
Tim raises an eyebrow “Well, we shall outwardly give that impression, but in the end all they need are three spirits that we have controlled and that do not harm the public. I think we can provide that”
Geoffrey deadpan’s “We mind about public safety?”
“Trust me. I nearly shot a man today” Tim deadpans back and pushes the cctv tape in. The screen comes up, the attack, Samuel running from the scene. A woman shoved into a range rover and bundled off site, the cars license plate clearly visible. The scenes of debauchery from before and after but it seems little else. Rewinding and replaying Michael searches for something, not quite sure what, just something at the edge of his sight. Finally he pauses the tape “There” A grainy figure, flickering in and out on the screen, washed out and with terrible wounds. The ghost woman that Michael had spoken to outside. Pressing play again he watches as the women slips from sight again, fading into the body of the woman who Samuel attacked.
“The woman who was attacked, did she seem odd in any way, drugged maybe?”Michael asks
“Not particularly, she screamed when she was attacked” Tim says
“Seemed out of her face before that though” Geoffrey notes
Michael looks again at the screen, rewinding back. Hollow eyes, the wounds deeper than before. With a cold shiver Michael recalls several thoughts. The woman’s mention of another her, following her. Orpheus’s briefings, all ghosts have a malevolent twin, a Gemini as some call them. “We may have a problem.” He taps the now paused screen “ The woman I spoke to was a mirage class spirit. This is her double, and she may have possessed the girl at the time of the attack. I believe we are facing a shadow class entity. A spectre”
Geoffrey takes this in then says “We need to ring Andy at Orpheus first, let him know we gave out Orpheus medical details and to keep an eye out for the injured woman”
“We need to get legal backup as well” Michael replies “I’m not an expert but I know enough that no contract can make us overlook a committed crime, but backup would be useful. I need to look into the woman’s death, she said she passed away in London, I may be able to get something on that”
Pulling out a phone ready to call Tim adds “All good ideas, lets get some security out here as well, we may need to have all three of us projecting and we will need someone to protect our bodies”
On the other side of the phone Andy sounds flat and tired as he picks up “Ah, yes hello”
“Good evening, hope I haven’t disturbed you” Tin greets
“No, no, I’ve been following the reports of those cells we sent to Kings Cross, we have a lot we need to thrash out when you get back”
“I have an update and a request for advice. As it stands we have had a situation escalation here. There are additional PLE’s and we have reasonable confidence that there is at least one shadow class entity. More so we are worried that we are subject to contractual obligations that will limit our abilities to protect the public. We are barred from fumigating entities as we need to repurpose them for use by the band. Now my thoughts are that the spirits they want have not been identified. If we provide the outcome of three spirits, are we legally protected”
Andy thinks for a moment “The contract stipulates that he is being haunted by groupies, female ones at that, would I be right in thinking you want to fumigate and imitate?”
“I’m considering that the entities may not be controllable and may end up a public relations disaster, make of that what you will”
Andy thinks another moment “What leads you to that conclusion?”
“We have seen one of the band members affected by PLE’s, or possibly other exterior influences, It may be the shadow class but I don’t have anything definitive. What I do know is that a victim of assault was possessed prior to the assault taking place”
From Andy’s side of the phone the ruffling of papers can be heard, after a long silence he speaks again “Ok, by the letter of the contract you are covered, and I think you are right for your concern for the public and Orpheus’ reputation. Regarding the ethical implications, I will leave that to your own judgement, but your base risk assessments are sound. Regarding the shadow class, we will need to change our open policy after the events of Kings Cross, consider them fumigate on sight. Most of our security teams are tied up in London at the moment, we are having some issues. A series of children have gone missing and with Kings Cross we don’t have enough manpower to handle it. So, I will ask you, take into account your own health and safety, keep the client happy, and since PLE’s are not legally recognised entities, fumigate as and if necessary”
“Understood” Tim says “From what you said you can’t spare any extra manpower. We need someone too watch over us in case we all need to project here. I have an old acquaintance I would like to bring in as an external contractor. Sgt Stephen Wayland, 4th para. Any objections?”
“None. We can offer up to Six thousand for recruitment”
“That should do it, thanks”
Hanging up Timothy looks over to where Geoffrey is assisting Michael once more with such advanced smart phone features as e-mail and spell checker. “Got an idea?”
“Not much. I know someone from years back, she’s working with runaway kids these days in London. Just thought she may be able to identify the woman we saw if she vanished in London. Listen, if it’s ok with you I’d like to see if I can find her again, warn her the Gemini is here”
Timothy nods “Ok, you and Geoffrey go, just in case something comes up”
“You don’t need to worry, I’m not going to do something as silly as face a spectre solo “ Michael says as he leaves.
“No, that’s my job” Tim says, flicking the phone back open again and waits for it to pick up “Hey Scotty, how’s it going?”
A tired voice replies “Very good mate, you”
“I’ll cut to the chase mate, I work for a large company now, they have a situation and we are short-handed. I need someone I can trust.”
“What kind of job” Scotty answers, a professional tone taking his voice
“Personal security, no more than a week and offering six k”
“Hell, that sounds better than a week hiking around the fucking Highlands which is what the wife has me doing. Going to take me a while to get down, oh six hundred ok? Yeah? Good. So what are facing, what should I bring?”
“You remember that thing you pulled off a Serbian general once?” Timothy says “Well that’s about what we need. Shouldn’t be any heavy armour. I appreciate this”
“Yeah, and I appreciate six grand”
Michael and Geoffrey’s search comes to nothing, the woman long gone, as are the bands and most of the nights hours. There is only a few short hours left for them to grab sleep at a hotel at the railway,and tomorrow Whitby and the concert.
The concert, vengeful ghosts, sado sexual dead groupies, molesting band members, a spectre, and KPI’s to meet. All on a few short hours of sleep.