The dream becomes reality... - Who Am I?
The dream becomes reality... -

WHO AM I?  WRITINGS OF A NOBODY


6     Jack stepped into the flat and closed the door behind him, shutting out reality for a moment.  Not that reality bothered him but the flat was a haven for him, his little bit of artiness in a world of sensibility. Mike was in the kitchen and flicked the kettle on as he came into the room.  “Fancy a brew?” Jack smiled; it was music to his ears.  “Sure mate, I’d love one.” The kettle boiled and he knew that Mike was waiting to say something as he looked awkward.  “Yvette called, she’s had a crisis and she’s coming over for the weekend next weekend.  It sounds serious; she was very keen to tell me how awful her week had been.  I’d call her back if I were you mate.” Jack took the offered mug of tea and walked thoughtfully along the corridor.  It was a difficult situation and he hated not being able to be there to help her.  She was going through hell what with work being difficult and a lack of money.  He couldn’t help much.  Commuting was getting to be a big problem and he’d just given notice on his job and signed up with an agency locally.  That was a big step away from London, not towards it. He picked up the receiver and dialed the number.  Yvette’s voice answered.  “Hello, Yvette here.” He put on a smile and a smiley voice.  “Hello, Yvette, how are you?” Yvette sounded nervous.  “Thank you for calling.  We already have double glazing and don’t need anymore.”  She then hung up. Jack signed.  He knew the situation.  Yvette’s husband was there and she didn’t want to talk in front of him.  It was understandable but it was not particularly nice for him either. He sat down on the sofa and having heard there was no conversation going on Mike came into the room and sat down in his armchair.  “Well, how did it go?”  He looked at Jack’s expression and tried to smile.  “Oh, I get it, husband home again?” Jack frowned.  “Don’t put it like that but yes, I guess he was.” Mike shook his head.  “Nothing good will come of this.  You have a good life here.  You have friends and you have a new job starting.  Why do you want to get yourself involved in all that?” Jack looked down into his drink and watched the steam rising in the slightly chilled air.  “I don’t know, I feel very trapped by it.  It seems wrong but when she says she can’t cope and she wants to end it all, what can I do?  I’d feel guilty if I walked away and left her in that mess.  I feel caught in the middle as I’m still not sure that she isn’t seeing Mattie.  I feel angry as I don’t like that Mattie’s girlfriend is caught up in all this too.  It is a mess but it is one I’m stuck in.  I don’t know what to do and I don’t know how to get out of it.” Mike smiled.  “You could just walk away.” Jack looked up.  “It isn’t as easy as all that.  This is deeper than you think.  Yvette knows things and odd things keep happening.” Mike now looked very amused.  “What do you mean “things””? Jack took a deep breath.  “Well you remember when I first got together with Yvette that there was that night when something spooky happened.” Mike looked serious.  “How could I forget?  One minute we are sitting downstairs in the living room, next minute there are sounds in your bedroom.  I’ll never forget hearing the horses and hounds.  That proved to me that there was something spooky going on.  So, is it connected?” Jack smiled.  “Yes, there is.  Yvette believes that we are going to have a baby together and that this baby will be important.  The trouble is that I have a similar belief.  That is where the story overlaps but other than that the information she keeps telling me is way off of what I feel is true.” Mike was now fully interested.  “Wow, well the story deepens.  Tell all.” Jack smiled ironically.  “There isn’t much to tell.  She believed that the child she had with her husband would be the one.  It wasn’t and now she is looking for the one who will be the right one.  You know I’ve got past life issues, so part of it does fit but I don’t think it fits in the way she thinks it does.  I do recognize her from a past life but not as a benevolent person.  I could be wrong and it is all much clouded.  I must sound nuts!” Mike laughed.  “If you’d just told me that without the incident of the horses I could have said yes.  With that, I’m not so sure.  So what are you going to do?” Jack looked down.  “I’m going to see how this one plays out and I’m certainly going to make sure that she can’t hurt any of our friends.  That she is too friendly with Mattie is worrying.  Mattie has a chance for a lovely life with someone who is going to make him happy.  He doesn’t need to get involved in this age old war.  Yvette will tell me enough one day and I’ll work it out.  Until then I have to be careful in case I have misread the situation and she is the one I’m looking for.” Mike smiled.  “You couldn’t make it up.  Ok, well I’m your friend, I’ll help any way that I can but try to keep the spiritual visitors to a minimum please.” Jack laughed.  “Well at least the horses didn’t mess on the carpet.” Mike choked on his tea.  “I guess they didn’t.  So what are you going to do next?” Jack thought about it.  “Nothing much.  I’m going to start this new job and keep talking to Yvette and see how things pan out.  It is a bit of a journey getting there but better than the commute to London.  I’ll hopefully make new friends there too as it is all too intense here with the Mattie situation.  I can’t look at him without worrying that this is going to get very, very complicated.” Mike cleared his throat.  “Well that is what you get when you get yourself involved in these situations.  I’ve got a movie and a big bottle of cider for tonight.  Let’s forget it all for now.  You’ll no doubt have your long clandestine phone conversation and then we can relax, chat about stuff and have a good night.  I’m thinking that you’ll want to give going to the Hungry Years a miss tonight.” Jack thought for a moment.  Going and seeing people and enjoying the music would be good but yes, he did fancy a quiet night with a movie and some cider.  “Sure, sounds good.  So, how was your day?” Mike smirked.  “I went shopping and got myself a new book.”  He reached down beside his chair and pulled up a black covered book with a glossy cover.  “It is about magic and demon summoning.  It also has a lot of other spells in it.” Jack’s jaw dropped.  “Don’t you go summoning any demons; we have enough problems as it is.” Mike smiled reassuringly.  “I’m not worried; it also has the binding and dismissing spells in it as well.” Jack laughed.  “If you were a demon trapped in the abyss would you leave the words to get you out of it in a cheap book in a knock down bookshop?  Would you be daft enough to put the binding and dismissing spells there too or would you pretend that you had.” Mike looked shocked.  “I hadn’t thought of that.  So, what are you up to this afternoon?” Jack thought about it.  “I think I’ll go up and write something or work on that painting I’ve been working on.  I got the music from The Crow this week and I’d like to listen to it.” Mike looked up.  “Ok so it is going to be a lovely light and happy painting then.  Fair enough.  I think I’ll go into town and take a look around.” Jack looked very serious.  “Well at least you aren’t going to spend the afternoon summoning demons.” Mike saw the irony.  “Sure, I’ll give that a miss today and save that for next week.”  
            7     The week passed quickly and it was made all the more interesting by Yvette’s conversations.  She was at breaking point and really couldn’t face living with her husband anymore.  Something had happened which she would not talk about and the conversations had got more and more depressing. Jack felt so useless.  There was nothing he could do to help and having to keep quiet about it most of the time had turned what would have been a simple relationship into a clandestine obsession.  Not being able to call when he wanted and to have to wait for the time to be right made everything much heavier and somehow fought for it was psychologically forcing him into a more serious relationship where it should all have been lightness and fun. He desperately wanted to meet someone else and to have a happy relationship but he was trapped in this story he couldn’t get out of.  The weeks passed by and the conversations got more and more desperate on Yvette’s part.  She really couldn’t stand being there much longer and then the break point happened.  Her husband left, taking her daughter with him.  Yvette was distraught on the phone and there was nothing that Jack could do other than to offer her a chance to get away from it all and come and stay with him. Yvette jumped at the chance but the first place she wanted to go was to Matti’s place as Jack would be at work.  This was upsetting but what could he do? The sun was shining as he got on the bus home from work.  He was excited but worried as well.  It would be better to be able to talk to Yvette face to face and somehow he was relieved that it had all come to a head.  Thoughts ran around his head and he was trying to work out how things would pan out. He went straight to Matti’s place and knocked on the door.  Matti opened the door, smiling.  “Hello Jack, Yvette is here.  She’s alright, bit stressed but that is to be expected.  We’ve given her a meal earlier.  Do you want a drink mate?” Jack thought about it.  “Thanks Matti, I’d love one.” They walked up the stairs together, Matti led the way.  The hallway was cosy, wallpapered and hung with ornaments and paintings that Matti and his girlfriend loved.  He had been there many times before but somehow he now felt different.  It was an odd sensation where he was looking at something he had seen a hundred times before but now he was seeing it in a different light. He took a deep breath as he came to the top of the stairs and stepped onto the landing.  The living room door was closed but he could hear voices inside.  This was the moment he had known or hoped would happen one day, the day that Yvette was free to be with him.  Matti opened the door and stepped inside.  Yvette was sitting on the floor beside the stereo and they had been playing music.  She got up, her strong features and long black dyed hair exactly what Jack wanted to see.  This was the response he had hoped for and she was very glad to see him although he couldn’t help be disappointed that she had wanted to go to Matti’s first. Jack stepped in and took up an empty chair next to Yvette.  “How are you?” Yvette looked tearful.  “It was awful.  He’s gone and left me and he has taken my little girl too.  I haven’t seen Becki for a few days now and I don’t know when I’m going to see her again.  The house is so empty and it is awful.” Jack bit his tongue and let Yvette carry on speaking.  “He has taken all his things and all of Becki’s things.  He went before I got home from work and I came back to an empty house and a note.  It was awful.” Jack took the offered cup of tea and smiled at Matti.  “Thank you for looking after her.” Matti smiled.  “No problem mate.” Yvette looked at the two of them.  “Is it alright if I stay with you a while Jack.  I really don’t want to face it all yet.  I really need my friends at the moment and everyone is being fantastic.” A couple of hours later Jack and Yvette walked back to Jack’s flat.  It wasn’t a long walk and they walked along the beach looking at the waves.  Yvette was quiet but then she pulled them into a shelter and sat down.  “It has been awful.  I hope you don’t mind but a friend of mine is visiting tomorrow.  You’ll be at work and I don’t want to be on my own.  You’ll be ok about that won’t you?” Jack thought for a moment.  “Well sure, it is good that your friends are around you.  Who is it?”  Alarm bells were going off. Yvette smiled sweetly.  “It is Sheldon, my friend from London.  I’ve told you about him before.” Jack had indeed heard about Sheldon.  He also didn’t like to hear that he was visiting in the one week that he had Yvette to himself.  Sheldon was the husband of a millionaire and he couldn’t see why such a busy man would have the time to come and see Yvette.  He had heard from Yvette that Sheldon was also having marital problems and that also was something that made Jack nervous.  Sheldon had met Yvette at Kings Cross where Yvette was waiting in a café writing poetry on the way back from visiting a friend.  The two had got talking and had become friends.  That Sheldon wanted to come to Jack’s house was too much of two worlds coming together and he was also very suspicious that there was more to the friendship than met the eye. There was nothing that Jack could do about it.  He was thinking about it hard but he couldn’t say no.  
            8     All day Jack worried about what Yvette was getting up to with Sheldon.  He couldn’t help it and it was a long day, especially as Yvette’s mobile phone was switched off.  He knew he was being taken for a fool.  The journey home seemed to take forever and when he got home he was sure that something had happened.  He couldn’t be sure and couldn’t find any evidence but he was not happy.  But, so as not to cause an argument he kept quiet.  There was no point casting doubt on his relationship now that he had one. That night he was asleep and woke up with a start as Yvette was sitting bolt upright in bed.  “Why am I here?  Where is my husband?  What is happening?” Jack sat up and saw something dark in the room, something black which was coming out of the full length mirror in the corner of his room.  It swirled and then Yvette got up and stood in front of the door.  He suddenly wanted to escape as he didn’t recognize Yvette.  She held the door and wouldn’t let him out so he grabbed her and threw her onto the bed, opened the door and ran downstairs and locked himself in the bathroom. Yvette knocked on the door about a half an hour later, totally confused as to what had happened.  Jack went back upstairs and the black entity had gone, everything was quiet so he got back into bed and they fell asleep.  He didn’t want to know, he didn’t need to know and for some reason he was accepting things far too easily. The week passed and Yvette asked if he’d go back with her.  She couldn’t face life in her house alone so Jack phoned the agency and left his job and went back to live in London. That night the conversation was serious.  Yvette seemed thoughtful. Jack made them a mug of coffee and sat down beside her.  “What is the matter?” Yvette looked thoughtful.  “I’ve got to tell you something.  You know I said that I work for the Post Office.  I do but this is only a cover story.  I actually work for MI6.  I’m telling you this as I know you come from a military family, that you’ve signed the Official Secrets Act and I know I can trust you.  That is why I sometimes have strange telephone conversations and it was something that my husband couldn’t cope with.  I never told him and I think he thought I was having an affair.” Jack nearly choked on his coffee.  Not least that Yvette could be so blatant that her husband thought she was having an affair when in truth she was.  “Well, that is a revelation.  How long have you worked for them and what does it mean?” Yvette smiled.  “It is such a relief to be able to tell someone and you know that you will have to keep this quiet for your sake as well.  If my employers found out that you know they would have to do something about it.  I would also worry about your parents.  I have done a lot of things for them in my time and I have enemies who are looking for me.  If they could hurt me through you or by hurting those that you love then they would.  You will have to be very careful.  I’m telling you this as you’ll be moving into my house and they will know that you exist now.” Jack didn’t know what to believe but as his father had been Special Forces and he also had been approached to work for MI5 it was not unrealistic.  It was unusual but he was used to his father being on shift work so he did know what it might mean.  It also explained a lot of the conversations where Yvette took her mobile phone to the toilet to speak. Walking into someone else’s house was unnerving.  Many of Yvette’s husband’s things were still in the house and it was like taking over someone else’s life.  The first day was long but soon over. The evening was perforated by calls from Matti and Sheldon.  The conversation with Sheldon being the longest of them. Then Yvette said she had to go out the next night.  Jack wasn’t happy but he had made arrangements to go for a job interview with an agency so other than coming home to an empty house it was alright. That night Yvette came back with an envelope full of money.  She explained that she had seen Sheldon who had given her some money to help out.  This annoyed Jack but what could he say. The weeks passed by and they had to leave as the house belonged to Yvette’s husband.  They packed up and arranged to get a flat with an old friend.  This was a relief as Yvette was becoming very moody. It was also perforated by times that Yvette had to be away.  They were getting on well though so Jack didn’t question it.  He had a job and was happy enough with his life. One night Yvette was back at the flat and suddenly she jumped up and said there was someone outside.  She pulled a small pistol and ran out the back telling Jack to stay put.  He did what he was told, not wishing to get caught in any crossfire.  A few minutes later Yvette came back into the room, hugged him and said that everything was alright and not to worry but to be careful while she was away.  That week when Yvette was away Jack didn’t go out and see his friends as he would normally have done.  He had thought that a few things were odd at the flat and he started taking more note of things.  Daily things were moved, not obvious things but things he’d planted to know if they were touched.  He also began to feel nervous going home from work and to work in the morning.  It was normal to see the same faces, but not faces that seemed to be obviously following him.  He then started playing a game, it was actually terrifying but he made a game of it.  He jumped onto a train, waited until the two usual faces jumped on too then he jumped off and saw them trying to get off as well.  Then he knew. On the way home, walking along the high street he saw a laser painter on his chest.  A small red dot.  He kept walking, pretending he had not seen it.  There was nothing he could do about it.  He thought about jumping into a shop but he’d have to come out again.  He couldn’t call the police as he would sound insane.  So he walked home, cooked dinner and waited for a telephone call from Yvette, which didn’t come.  Not that night and not for many nights after that. Still the things moved almost daily and it became almost an annoyance.  That he could cope with it surprised him. Yvette was back some weeks, gone others and then she said that she had been invited to go to Ireland with Sheldon.  Jack was livid that his girlfriend was going away with someone else but she assured him that Sheldon was only a friend and wanted some company as his husband was away working. The week passed slowly and it was hell for Jack but he was happy that Yvette was having a break.  The week passed, Yvette came back but she had hurt her leg which was a bit of a surprise.  She said she’d tripped over a drawer in the hotel which seemed a bit odd. The days passed by.  More envelopes turned up and she knew that Yvette had been seeing Sheldon.  She was so suspicious that she went through Yvette’s bag and found a note which said that pancakes were in the kitchen.  It was obviously a note from Sheldon but there was no proof there.  Yvette was away a lot, she could well have dropped by to visit Sheldon in his glamorous world. Then Yvette said she was going to the US with Sheldon.  Again this was annoying but for some reason Jack could do nothing to stop this.  He felt like he was an animal in a cage, kept in his flat waiting for her to come back.  In that time he began to think and bits and pieces fell into place.  They played on his mind.  The time when Yvette was meeting Mattie in London and he had ended up on the phone to Mattie’s girlfriend who was upset about it too.  Then the time when Yvette was seeing Mattie in London again while Jack was at work and he’d found coffee cups in the bedroom.  He’d kept quiet, he wanted things to be alright and he didn’t want to be a possessive boyfriend.  Yvette was entitled to friends but gradually Jack was losing friends.  He was distracted and as his friends knew Yvette and had tried to warn him they stepped back. It didn’t help when they went to a gathering with their friends and one of Jack’s friends complained that Yvette had made a pass at them.  Jack just didn’t believe it, he instantly thought that his friend was making it up and decided that this friend hated him.  He then put a distance between himself and Heath, who he had known a number of years. Then all those times that he had been met for work at the end of the road.  They were all suspicious. What he really needed was some evidence as he didn’t want to ruin a perfectly good relationship with speculation.  He also didn’t want to cause Yvette to be hurt if she was actually doing a difficult job. It was on Yvette’s next visit back that she did all that she could to convince Jack that all was well.  She even showed him her other identity, a American Express Gold Card with the name The Countess of Carnae printed on it.  It looked real and just to prove that it was Yvette used it to pay for lunch. Jack was horrified, that she was using the card to pay for something local was in his mind dangerous.  Then she took Jack shopping on it, buying him expensive gifts that he loved.  He was still questioning but as the months passed by and Yvette kept coming back his fears got less.  Then he got a phone call to meet him in Kings Cross and to bring something for an overnight stay.  Now that was intriguing enough so he packed a case and set off. Yvette met him at the station and they went to a hotel nearby.  Yvette seemed to know the hotel far too well but Jack didn’t want to question.  They had a lovely meal via room service and Yvette proposed.  It was a little unusual and a complete shock but Jack was extremely happy.  The ring was beautiful; it actually looked like a wedding ring and engagement ring which Yvette insisted that he wore as she was worried that he would be poached by someone else. He was elated of course and they had a wonderful night together.  Yvette had to go so Jack made his way home and slept well that night, thinking his doubts were unfounded. That peace lasted mere hours as the next day while at work he picked up an email which had been sent to his email box from Sheldon’s email thanking everyone for their congratulations on their marriage earlier that year.  It clearly stated that Sheldon had married Yvette. Jack was stunned and angry.  He didn’t know what to do so he telephoned his mother, gave her the fax number on the email and asked her to send Yvette congratulations on her engagement to Jack. It was provocative and it was meant to be.  Jack now knew that Sheldon was more than just a friend to Yvette or Sheldon was playing a really nasty trick on him. He telephoned Yvette who of course denied everything and then changed the conversation to remind Jack that if people knew about them that Jack’s parents could be in danger. Jack telephoned his mother and asked her if anything bad had happened.  She said that she had found a spiked wooden block under her tyres while she was in town and she had found nails in her tyre.  At this point Jack knew he had a difficult situation on his hands and he had to do something. Jack’s mother knew people and it was by accident that she was speaking to a friend where a reporter for the News of the World was within earshot.  Within the day they were asking if they could have an interview. Jack saw this as a way to protect his parents.  He turned down the thousand pounds they offered him and gave them all the facts. The story was due to come out the next Sunday and Jack’s mobile phone was full of messages from both Sheldon and Yvette begging that he didn’t print the story.  Jack knew he had to so he let the story go ahead even though it did make him look a complete idiot and a fantasist.  What did it matter if his parents were safe. He actually believed that would be the end of it but a week or so later he got a phone call from Yvette saying how much she still loved him and that her relationship with Sheldon was falling apart. Jack didn’t believe her but there was always the element of doubt, especially when she said that Sheldon had left her and that she didn’t want to be on her own at the Castle where they now lived.  She threatened suicide if Jack didn’t go and join her and Jack decided that he needed to see for himself exactly what was the truth of the situation.  He’d been emailed a photo of a car with RAV 3N as the number plate.  An Aston Martin and he also wanted to see if that was real.  In truth he just wanted to know the reality of the situation so he wrote everything down about the relationship, trusted it to a friend if anything happened to him and got on a train to Hastings. He got a taxi from the station and the taxi drove up a long drive from the gate.  The building was cream colored and he was welcomed inside by Yvette through a door which led to an L shaped corridor.  As he stepped inside he was instantly nervous, he was in someone else’s home again and this was probably very wrong.  Yvette looked awful.  She had let her hair dye grow out and she was sporting a few inches of grey.  She had also put on a lot of weight.  Jack couldn’t help but notice. Yvette showed him the office first.  It was messy with papers everywhere.  A box file was open on the desk.  Yvette pointed to it.  “He took the papers for our title.  I suppose he thought I’d try to sell it or something.  I know how much I was just owned.  This was where we run the estate.” Jack was livid, showing him this, what was the point. Yvette was almost in tears.  “The staff were awful.  They caused me so much trouble.  I tried to make the break from you and to make a life here when I knew I didn’t deserve you.  But I can’t live without you.  I will show you this place, it will be ours now.  She will owe me, we are married and I’m sure I’ll do well in the divorce settlement.” Jack was livid, this wasn’t what he wanted to hear but in truth he didn’t know what he wanted to hear. Yvette opened the door to a huge old library.  There was an immense oil painting on the left hand wall which was a fantasy picture painted by a friend of Yvette’s of her as a Native American warrior with a wolf at her feet and a bow over her shoulder.  Jack had been given a print of this a while back so he recognized it immediately.  Yvette then closed the door and they walked past the kitchen.  It had a central island which was black marble.  Jack was in a dream, he couldn’t believe it, and it was all so wrong and so awful.  Yvette made him a mug of coffee.  “All the staff have been laid off.  There is a woman who did this sort of thing but they all caused me so much trouble.  I’d show you that room at the end of the corridor but Sheldon has locked it.  There is a Tiffany Lamp in there and he thinks I might steal or break it.  That is irrelevant, I’ll have access to it all soon.  Come on, I’ll show you the rest of the place.” The place was large.  There was a long central corridor which opened up into the actual hallway where the main door was.  They went past this and they came to an open plan dining room with a huge table which seated a lot of people.  There was a dresser beside the table where there was a wooden statue.  Yvette stroked it.  “I love this, Sheldon bought it when we were in Brighton.  I wouldn’t like to have to part with it.”  She opened the door to the living room.  It was fairly shabby but large.  The carpet was worn; there was an old tatty sofa which had obviously come with the Castle and a big fireplace.  On the table by the window there were photographs and beside the door a small gargoyle which looked like it belonged outside. Yvette grabbed a fur rug.  “I love this rug, it is a wolf pelt.  I’ve dreamt of this.”  She grabbed Jack around the neck, pulled him down onto the rug; they undressed and made love on the rug in front of the real fire. Afterwards they were sitting in the two armchairs facing each other.  Yvette pointed out the telephone which looked like an old fashioned typewriter; it had buttons which had to be pressed down.  She also pointed out the huge wall of DVDs which was an immense collection which went with the immense television set which was attached to the wall and fitted most of it. She smiled.  “Come on, we had better pick which bedroom we are going to use.  I like the four poster one but I think that the more modern bedroom would be better.  Sheldon’s things are in the other room so it is a bit spooky.  Come on, have a look.” She led Jack up the stairs and opened the door at the top of the stairs.  In the middle of the room was a huge four poster bed, heavily carved and it looked original and very old.  There was a shelf unit with things on it and Yvette laughed and turned Sheldon’s face to the floor. Beside the door there was an old wood dresser.  Yvette smiled.  “Sheldon keeps all my letters in that box there, that drawer on the top.” Jack was livid and didn’t know what to say.  Yvette had been so careful to make sure that he had nothing on paper.  It was almost an insult that Sheldon had so much.  He was however relieved that they didn’t have to spend a night in Sheldon’s room and was happy with the one with the big black leather bed. The only thing that really drew his eye was the large water stain on the ceiling.  It was amazing that a place so obviously expensive had a damp problem that hadn’t been sorted out. Now he really felt like he was in a dream and Yvette seemed very upset that he was reacting that way.  All he could think was that he wanted Sheldon to know the truth.  He’d been told to arrive wearing something that wouldn’t be recognizable, he hated that. They sat downstairs and Yvette looked thoughtful.  The phone rang and she picked it up.  “Hello.  Oh, yes thank you have you had time to review my case.”  She listened to what was being said and her face fell.  The colour drained from it.  Jack watched in silence as Yvette put the receiver back down on the strange looking phone. She thought for a minute.  “That was my solicitor and apparently I have no claim on anything here and it is likely that Sheldon will win the case that I will get nothing from here.  I don’t want to lose all this.  I’ve had to put up with her for too long to walk away with nothing.  He said that an old incident won’t help.  Can I tell you about it?” Jack was lost for words.  He was sitting in what had been his girlfriend’s home with her husband she had married months before she had proposed to him and it he was supposed to listen to her woes about not being able to get money and possessions off of her husband.  “What happened?” Yvette looked distraught.  “We have a flat beside the Thames, a modern place.  We were there and Sheldon accused me of having an affair.  We had an argument which ended up as a fight and I smashed a glass table, she fell onto it.  She called the police and accused me of harming her.  I don’t know what our neighbors thought having the police turn up.  My neighbor is a famous rock star who is not known for being very public about her life.  Sheldon really should have kept quiet.” All Jack could think was “I wonder which longer stay at mine that one was.”  He had really lost patience with Yvette. Yvette looked around the room.  “I don’t want to lose all this.  I’m going to have to try to get her back for now.  She is taking me to court this week.  If I can get her back for now I can then leave her later and we can be together and I can keep some of this too.” Jack was very angry and sat in silence as Yvette went and got her laptop.  She came in with the silver laptop and a stack of letters.  “What are you up to?” Yvette sat on the floor at Jack’s feet.  “These are the letters I sent to Sheldon.  They were in that drawer upstairs.  I’m going to quote some of the things I wrote and try to get her back.  Give me a minute I need to concentrate.” Jack kept quiet.  All love or respect he’d had for Yvette was gone. Yvette finished her emails, one after another.  “I have to send a few so she knows I mean it.  I’ll be able to get over her fear of you, though she does seem to see you on every corner.  Like I did with my husband when he was worried about you.  I gave him that diary you wrote as a fantasy story.  It was amusing how long my ex spent reading it trying to work out if there was something going on.  I’ve told Sheldon some stories; he’ll never worry about you being here as it is obvious you haven’t been here.  Just for now, until I have a bit more claim on this place.  I’m going to telephone Sheldon’s son now.  I have to get her children on side.  They don’t like me but if I get them to understand that I need mental help and that I’m prepared to go for therapy they may well accept me again.  Then they will help me to get her back.  It is just for now, don’t worry I love you.  I had thought things would have been different with you here.  You always made everything feel right.” Jack didn’t feel very right.  He was biding his time and he wanted to go home.  The evening was like a dream.  He was sitting looking at someone he didn’t recognize anymore.  He was looking at a liar. That night was surreal.  He was with Yvette and the memory of their love was there.  They made love but he couldn’t help thinking all the time that he was again in someone else’s house.  He wanted out of there and he was very tempted to make sure that Sheldon knew that he had been there.  Ideas ran though his head to put a note in Sheldon’s underwear drawer.  He wanted to do anything to let Sheldon know what a liar his wife was. In the morning Jack got a taxi back to the station.  He was given a baseball cap to make sure that he was not noticed and as he drove away he noticed that all the curtains had been pulled.  He hadn’t noticed it before. He went back to London on the train full of thoughts and disbelief. After that day Jack got several calls and emails from Yvette.  He destroyed them all and was determined to move on.  It was a few weeks before Yvette called again, asking him to meet her at the flat by the Thames.  He really didn’t want to but curiosity was enough that he said yes.  Mere hours later Yvette called to say that she couldn’t make it. Enough was enough; Jack said he would not see Yvette anymore.  Yvette didn’t seem to take him seriously but he meant it. Three years later he got an email from Yvette saying that she had broken up with Sheldon and wanted to see him.  He didn’t believe her. Another three years later he got another message.  Again Yvette had split up with Sheldon.  He didn’t believe her. Years later he got a message on Facebook saying that Yvette had divorced Sheldon.  He didn’t believe her. Jack fell asleep that night knowing he’d made the right decision and drifted into the arms of Morpheus content that he had moved on in life.
 
 
 
 
 
 
9
 
 
Jack woke up confused.  He didn’t have a girlfriend called Yvette.  He was in an alleyway and it smelt bad.  It was dark as the alley wasn’t lit.  He could see a dim light in the distance and as he clambered to his feet he kept his hands firmly on the stone wall behind him.
His hands felt wet and sticky and as he staggered towards the light he realized that they were covered in blood.  He checked himself over and found he was uninjured so he began to worry where the blood had come from.
He looked back down the alley and he saw a body lying on the floor.  A large knife was sticking out of its chest.
He looked at his hands and then the body and then the knife.  He looked down.  “Oh shit!”
As he was thinking what to do a horse and carriage went past the end of the street.  It was illuminated by lamps on the side of the carriage.  The street had a strange yellow glow and as he evaluated the situation he realized that he was in a Dickensian scene.
Expecting Marley’s Ghost at any moment he ran back down the alleyway and out the other side, oblivious that it was dark and he could fall over.  He did not want to be caught with a dead body!
He frisked his pockets and found various items that were not his.  He found a pocket knife, tobacco pouch, pipe and he could tell there were other bits and pieces but he didn’t want to get his clothes dirty.
He did have blood all over his hands after all.  He knew this was a dream and he wondered what it was all about. 
A voice behind him made him jump.  “Sir, have you finished with the body?  We’d like to move it if you don’t mind.”
Jack was stunned, his thoughts racing.  “I needed a bit more light.”
The voice belonged to a teenage youth who held a large black bag and a lantern.  “I have your bag and the light.  I did wonder why you went down the alley without them.  Here’s a cloth for your hands.  Can I help in any way?”
Jack walked back down the alleyway to the body of the man who lay on the floor.  The body was twisted as if it had fallen and as he picked up the man’s head there were signs that it had hit the floor at a high velocity.  There was no blood around the chest area where the knife had penetrated and his mind raced as he realized that the whole situation revolved around him knowing what had happen.
Years of watching television shows now seemed less of a waste of time and he took his time looking around the scene.  He took the offered cloth and wiped his hands.  He then opened the bag in the hope that it would give him a clue as to who he was to start with.
The bag contained medical instruments and his suspicion that he was a medical examiner was confirmed.  By the type of instruments he could tell that this was not a modern situation.  This was reassuring as he might just be able to convince people that he was whoever he was supposed to be.
He stood up and looked down at the body then he looked up.  Above him the building was three stories tall.  There was a window open and he soon put the two together and pointed out the window to the young man who was with him.  “I think the body came from up there.  The knife was the main cause of death but the fall didn’t help.  The body was probably dead before it landed.”
The young man looked bemused.  “That is incredible.  Shall we go and see what is in that room?”
Jack smiled.  “Yes, that might be a good idea.”
The two of them left the alleyway and found an open doorway.  The stairwell was plain and dusty.  Using the lantern they saw that a set of footprints had already come down.  Jack was stating the obvious but he felt he had to say it.  “I guess someone left the building by the stairs not the window.”
The young man smiled in the lantern light.  “Well at least we won’t get attacked if we go up there but it would be good to catch the criminal.”
They walked to the side of the stairs so they didn’t disturb the footprints.  Once up two fights they could clearly see where the footprints had joined the stairwell so they opened the door and stepped out into a heavily decorated corridor.  Lanterns were lit every ten feet and they made the corridor very bright.  The deep pile red carpet was clean and sumptuous and had a spring under their step.  The door they wanted was obvious.  It was the only one open.  They went to it and looked in.
The room was lit by lanterns and covered in sprayed blood.  A large pool of it was on the floor and they could follow the splatter marks and splashes to the window.   There was a smear on the window sill which was obviously where the body had been thrown out of the window.
The room was in disarray.  Chairs had been knocked over and things were broken.  There had obviously been a struggle and somewhere in the middle of that fight the man in the street had been stabbed.  There was another knife on the floor and that too had blood on it.
Jack looked on the floor and at the blood.  He went to the door and found a trail of blood which went out of the door.  He followed it along the corridor and found blood down the stairs as well.  The trail went down to the door and out into the street. 
In the dirt of the street the blood was lost in the mess.
The young man by his side caught his arm.  “Don’t worry; we’ll bring in the dogs.”
The young man disappeared for a very short time and came back with two other men with bloodhounds.  They were shown the blood and instantly were on the scent.  They followed it until they began to howl and he heard the sound of a struggle.  He was going to follow when three men in uniform came back dragging a man who could hardly stand.  He was obviously injured and had a flowering rosette of blood soaking his shirt from the wound in his shoulder.
The young man was beaming with happiness.  “Well done Sir, that was incredible.  Do you know who that is?  That is Sir Godfrey Pembroke, Fourth Earl of Monmouth and a well know womanizer and man about town.  Caught red handed and no doubt he will hang for this one.  We have been trying to catch him for years.  He never gave us an opportunity like this before.
Jack thought about it.  “It was too easy.  Be realistic he had plenty of time to get away.  Why is he still here?”
The young man looked confused.  “No, we have him; it is a moment to celebrate.”  The young man walked over to the prisoner and all of them walked off down the alleyway towards a horse drawn wagon that waited in the road at the end of it.
Jack sighed and was turning to go with them as he had no idea where to go other than that.  He was out of time and place again.  All he could do was to wait and hope that the scene would change and he’d know what he was supposed to be doing.
As he was thinking a voice made him jump.  He turned and there was a man in a black suit, white shirt and straight thin black tie.  Jack laughed.  “Now the Men in Black™ turn up.  I’m doing well tonight.  So, how can I help you?”
The man was fairly nondescript in looks, a typical Mr. Average.  Not handsome, not plain and he found it really hard to remember what the man looked like even though he was still looking at him.  The man smiled.  “I’m pleased to meet you.  You are having an interesting night.  It was amusing to see how you dealt with that and the praise for doing a job well.  You are an unusual person in an unusual time.  I don’t really know how to work you out.
I hope you have enjoyed the situations we have put you in.  We wanted to see how you would react.  Now we know.  You have been evaluated and we know a lot more about you?
Jack was now completely bemused.  He looked around and the scene had changed.  He was now in a white room with tiled walls.  There was no furniture and it reminded him of a toilet.  There were pipes around the top of the room and a single door which was metal clad and locked.
The man with him looked different now.  He was middle aged, bespectacled and holding a clip board.  “Yes, very good, very good.  You have passed our evaluation.  You are a good citizen and we can allow you to continue and to have your promotion.  You won’t remember any of this which is always a pointless thing to say to patients but I like to say it anyway.
You can relax now and take a walk back to your precinct.”
The door opened as if by itself but he could see the mechanism as he walked through the opening.  The corridor outside was plain and had many doors in it.  He didn’t count them and walked to the end where a door was open.  He went straight to it and stepped through onto a gantry.  The gantry was suspended over what looked like a city in a dome. 
Down below a whole city was laid out below him.  There were streets and buildings laid out like a toy.  People milled about and looked like big ants.  The gantry ran around the dome and off into the distance.  Cameras were placed at regular intervals and they swiveled and moved as they observed the city below.  He looked up, his mind already assuming that he was in some sort of city with a microclimate.  Above was the expected projected sky.  The sun was shining as he would imagine it would be and he could see the projectors which projected the expected weather system onto the screens above.
Down below everything was immaculately clean, he could see that much.  It looked brand new and modern.  There were cars moving about and busses.  All were shiny silver and reflected the colours from the streets around them.  He watched for a moment and then headed around the gantry to a glass box of a lift which was waiting with its doors open.  As he stepped inside a velvet voice spoke to him.  “Greetings Jack Niven I am pleased to take you to the City.  Doors closing.”
The doors swished almost silently shut and the lift effortlessly swished down to the City below.  The doors opened and he stepped out onto a pristinely clean pavement.  He walked out onto the pavement and into the City where everything was clean and sparkling.
He passed shops where animated mannequins walked around wearing the outfits.  There was no shop front as there was no weather to worry about.  Mannequins lined up and then when someone looked at one of them they would walk around, showing off the outfit. 
He was approached by a man dressed like a Victorian Butler.  He bowed slightly and held out a computer pad.  “Is Sir looking for something?  You are welcome to use my services.  I can order anything for you to be sent to your apartment.
Jack didn’t want anything.  He didn’t live here and he was totally confused by it all.  He was a tourist again having a look at the world he had arrived in.
He didn’t know what to do other than have a look around.  He then realized that the cyber butler was holding his hand out waiting to be given something.  He felt in his pocket and retrieved a plastic card with an image of his face on it.  He handed this to the butler who seemed pleased to be handed it.  The butler bowed.  “Sir, I realize that you are confused.  It is quite acceptable.  You have been newly programmed so you have no memory of your previous life and you are here to take up your new life.  I can tell you where you live and if you wish I can accompany you there.  I understand that adjusting to your seemingly new life can be confusing.  You have no memory of your previous life so you will have to accept that everything is new.  If I may?”  The butler took his card and put it into the machine.  “You are living in the Artisan Precinct which is not far from here.  You will not need to take a personal public vehicle.  You may walk.  You are not due at your employment until tomorrow and I note that you are a Section Red, Breeder with Educational Privileges.”
Jack looked confused.  “What does all that mean?”
The Butler gave him an understanding look.  “You are new here because of your reprogramming.  I will explain things to you.  You live here, in this City.  You have an apartment in the Artisan Precinct which means you are an artist, writer or involved in the music or film industry.  Section Red means that you have special privileges and that you have been programmed because of a duty to the City.  Breeder means that you have permission to have sexual intercourse and to produce offspring.  You are deemed genetically suitable and you have not already fulfilled your quota.  You are entitled to use educational software to enhance your knowledge and you are not restricted to the entertainment channels.  This will mean more to you as you settle in.  I see that your cold storage food console and Cordon Bleu Machine have been stocked and that you have no need to shop today.  These items will be replaced when they are used.  You have an account with Twixsoes, a Grade I restaurant and you may eat there if you wish. 
You are yet to be allocated a wife and you have an appointment which has been scheduled for Ackersday, which is two days hence, to choose your mate.
If you would follow me I will take you to your apartment.  It is ready for you.”
Jack didn’t know what to say but as it was a dream he didn’t feel like he had to.  He followed Butler and took in the sights as he walked along the street.  The street was lined with shops which seemed to be run and filled with androids.  There were androids demonstrating things, carrying things and wearing things.  They walked in a slightly stilted way and had plastic looking faces.
Jack rushed to keep up with the swift walking Butler.  They walked for about five minutes and came to another lift at the base of a tower block which went almost to the roof of the dome.  The Butler summoned the lift and they stepped into it.  He pressed 235 and the lift doors closed and they were swiftly elevated to the two hundred and thirty fifth floor where the doors opened and they stepped out into a shiny chrome corridor with doors at regular intervals. 
On the wall there was a list of numbers with the names of the people who lived there.  It was a projected screen and as he watched names changed and new names were added. 
He followed the Butler who led him to room number 235.127 and his card when presented to the card reader made the door swish open and his apartment was revealed to him.
The Butler bowed.  “If Sir is content with his apartment I will take my leave.”
Jack was totally bemused.  He smiled.  “I am content, thank you.”
The Butler bowed and left.
Jack stepped into the apartment and the door closed behind him with a near silent swish.  As he stepped in a hologram of a woman appeared in front of him.  “Welcome to your new home.  I am Alice, I am you in home computer and I await your requests.  There is a set up procedure which you are welcome to go through now or you can wait until later.  Please state your wish.”
Jack looked around.  “I’ll do it now.”
Alice smiled.  “What colour would you like your walls?”  A screen came down from the ceiling and he was presented with a colour chart.  He selected a pale blue and the walls of the room changed to that colour.
Alice spoke again; her voice was velvety and unemotional.  “Would you like a pattern or plain?”
Jack responded immediately.  “Plain.”
“Is Sir happy with the furniture?”
Jack smiled.  “Yes.”
“Would Sir like to change anything in the room?  If you say later you may complete the rest of these choices once you have had a chance to get used to your surroundings.”
Jack thought about it.  “Later.”
Alice disappeared and left him to look around his new apartment.  He went to the window and realized that it was a hologram protection onto the wall.  At the base of the window there was a panel with buttons which said forest, beach, countryside, city and others which seemed to be an extended choice option.
He pressed forest and a sub list appeared of deciduous, conifer, mixed woodland, mountain, and valley.  He was totally bemused so he pressed deciduous, broadleaf, mountain and was happy to see a beautiful scene appear on all of his windows on each of the four walls.
He had one room which was a bit bemusing as he couldn’t work out where the kitchen or bedroom was.  He spoke slowly.  “Alice”.
Alice appeared.
“Where is my kitchen?”
Alice bowed.  “Sir has not been supplied with a kitchen as Sir has the state of the art Cordon Bleu Machine.  The Kitchen in a box has been recommended for you although if you wish to cook yourself you can have the kitchen installation.”
Jack looked around the room.  “Where is the bed?”
Alice bowed and panels in the ceiling started to move and slide away and an elegant bed drifted soundlessly down from the ceiling.  The bedding was on the bed and it looked very comfortable.  “Thank you, you can put it away now.”
The bed disappeared into the ceiling.
Alice bowed.  “You start work at 8.30am precisely.  You will be woken up at 7.30am and your breakfast will be on the table by 8am.  Your suit will be laid out for you and you will be expected at pod 23457 where your day’s assignments will be allocated.  I will expect you back here by 5.30pm and I will have your dinner available for you on your return.  Your lunch will be served in the office restaurant at midday as you have been allocated the early lunch.
You have been allocated your three weeks of holiday and you may select from the options in the Holiday Sub Routine.  Kindly select your holiday before the end of the week so that we may plan your itinerary.
It is now 6.30pm and it is time for your re-education.  If you would kindly sit in the seat provided I will prepare your educational upload ready for your work day tomorrow.  I note from your file that you need to be updated.  This will take one hour and twenty five minutes.  I will prepare a series of entertainments for you to watch while you are being updated.”
Jack looked worried.  “What if I don’t want to be updated?”
Alice’s eyes turned red.  “I find your lack of compliance disturbing.  You will sit and be updated and your attitude will also be adjusted.  Kindly sit in the seat now.”
Jack backed away.  “I most certainly will not.”
Alice signed.  “Sanitize the apartment.  The unit is malfunctioning.”
The room filled with a white mist which wafted down from vents in the ceiling.  It came down so fast that Jack couldn’t get away and he felt his lungs filling up with it and the fell into unconsciousness.

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