Friday, 30 July 2010

Ch 9 : KNOCKIN' ON HEAVEN'S DOOR




The balmy August night had suddenly turned very cloying, and almost claustrophobic. Gene stood, mesmerised inside All Soul’s Church, the sound of silence almost golden. Frozen like a statue, and for once, almost speechless, he stared in disbelief at the figure before him near the alter, a person he had already seen twice in less than 48 hours.
From somewhere, he found his voice.
“I said, what the bloody hell are you doing here?”
“And I said I had been waiting for you – and please do not blaspheme – remember we are in the House of God now” replied the figure who was now beginning to walk slowly up the aisle towards him.
Gene tried to remain calm.
“I am not a religious man and I do not care if we are in the house of God, Fraser or Her Majesty’s House of bloody Windsor, understand? Now, are you going to tell me who you are and what the hell is going on?”
“Who do you think I am, Gene?”
“Don’t keep answering me with a bloody question else you will piss me right off”, Gene replied, trying not to show any sign of the anxiety he was starting to feel. It was like something out of a Hammer House of Horror.
“I said, WHO do you think I am?” the voice demanded, a little more sternly now as he got closer.
Gene put his hand to his brow, closed his eyes for a few seconds,trying to take a deep breath.
When he opened them, the figure was there right next to him, that now familiar face peering into his, so close he could feel the warm breath on his own.
“For the last time, I said WHO.DO. YOU. THINK.I AM, GENE?”
Gene didn’t know. He certainly knew who he hoped it wasn’t.
“I don’t know who you are? You tell me. The Angel Gabriel? The Devil in Disguise?”
The figure moved away slightly shaking his head.
“Mmm Clever. Nice try. Close.”
Gene was in no mood for the games. All he knew was that nothing was making sense.
“Ok, then, Danny-boy, or should I call you Wing Commander Boxhead? I saw you when I was stuck at the Air Museum, and you vanished. Then you scared the shit out of me in that Ghost Train or whatever it was, and vanished. Now you turn up here. Are you stalking me or something?”
“I am on a mission, Gene.”
Gene was suddenly reminded of somebody else who had been on a mission. Jim Bloody Keats. Yet this guy wasn’t Jim Keats, he didn’t even look like him.
“So who the bloody hell are you, and what’s happened to the flying uniform? “ Gene surveyed the pilot he knew only as Danny .
“You may call me Father. Father Daniel.”.
Gene was struggling to take it all in. He was so tired. He glanced at the priest, noting his cassock, the dog collar, the crucifix. His hand fumbled deep into his own pocket. Yes the cross and chain was still there along with all the other bits and bobs. What did it mean? What was happening to him?
“Take a pew, Gene. We need a chat”.
Gene did not want to linger in the cold church, nor was he in the mood for a chat.
“I am not in the mood for talking. There is nothing to talk about. I have nothing to say.” Gene said firmly.
“Don’t be so defensive. I am not here to harm you”. The priest tried to reassure him.
“HA. Nothing can harm me” Gene replied again in a defensive tone “The Gene Genie is untouchable”.
Suddenly there was a loud clap of thunder, and a flash of lightening lit up the stained glass window. Rain began to pelt down hard outside.
With that Gene turned on his heel. He had to get out there, and he needed a drink. He would find a pub, go for a piss and have a few bevvies. He remembered the money he had drawn out. All he really wanted if the truth be told was a decent kip.
“Stop. Where are you going?” Father Daniel shouted after him.
Gene ignored him
“Where you running to? Scared are we?”
For somebody who was supposed to be a priest Gene was a little concerned at the way his tone changed from being caring to being a little aggressive and it was starting to freak him out. It was similar to the way Keats used to operate, a little schizophrenic at times.
Gene turned round to face the priest.
“Scared? Gene Hunt doesn’t do scared. I am scared of nothing. Understand?”
“You’re scared of the truth though Gene. Frightened to admit it” Father Daniel started to goad Gene.
Gene wasn’t prepared to listen. Outside the storm still roared.
“I’ m off”.
“Where? You leave here now and you are only going to make it more difficult for yourself. Where are you going to run to?”.
Gene didn’t really know, or care. He suspected he may just head back into town, to a hotel, or if he was lucky run into some old mates, but it must be getting late now.
“I have friends”. Gene replied.
“Friends? You have no friends, Gene. No family. No friends. No TEAM. No Ray, or Chris, or Shaz, or DI Alex Drake. Dear Bollyknickers. Nobody.”.
Gene stared back at the priest in disbelief. How in hell did he know, could he possibly know.
His jaw muscles contracted and temper got the better of him, and he grabbed the priest by his shoulders pinning him up against the vestry wall.
“I don’t know who the friggin’ hell you are but I swear to God if you don’t quite taking the piss and leave me alone, I will put a bullet through your brain and send you through St Peter’s pearly gates myself”.
Gene let go of the priest then, who appeared to seem unphased by Gene’s outburst and merely continued.
“ Walk out of that door now, Gene, and you will be sorry”.
“I don’t do threats. Or rules. We play by my rules : The rules of Modern policing according to Gene Hunt 1973 Edition”. Gene dusted down the lapels of his overcoat.
“1973. Ancient History” Father Daniel said.
Gene felt that feeling he had experienced earlier that evening in the pub on Bradford Road. Something was not right but he didn’t know what.
“Gene. It’s 1997. Not 1973. Not 1981,82 or 83. but 1997”.
“No”. Gene refused to believe it.
“Yes. 1997. August 31st to be precise – well for less than another hour maybe. “ Father Daniel looked at his watch.
Gene still continued to stare into space, trying to work it out in his head.
“but..but that’s 14 years on. I don’t get it”. He ran his ringers through his hair in frustration.
Reluctanctly he sat down in a pew at the back of the church. Father Daniel remained standing, his voice a lot calmer as he spoke.
“Yes Gene. 1997. And a memorable weekend to say the least, if not something that will be remembered like the shooting of Kennedy, and John Lennon. Diana, Princess of Wales, was killed in a car crash yesterday. The whole world is in mourning”.
“I know. “ said Gene.
The priest looked at him questioningly.
Gene explained.
“Oh I was in the pub on Bradford Road. I saw it on the news. It didn’t make sense or mean anything”.
“She was a truly beautiful person. Tragically taken so young. There is nothing to fear though now. Ok everybody is devasted, and upset, yet she is already up there, knocking on Heaven’s door and will be welcomed with open arms. “
Gene was silent. A candle flickered. There must be a breeze somewhere.
Father Daniel continued.
“I have been busy, and will be. The doors will be opened for people to sign books of condolence, offers of prayer. I shall take confession and comfort people who need to be comforted. An event like this can ricochet – it’s not just about a person dying but it can bring out all kinds of emotions, and feelings that may have been hidden for years. I can help to give them so kind of release? Help them move on. Do you understand that Gene? “
Gene still continued to stare at the old battered bible on the pew in front of him, aware only of the damp musty smell surrounding him.
“Do you understand Gene? Do you understand what I am saying to you?”
Gene looked up. His eyes where glazed. He also noticed the priest had a subtle Irish accent. Funny – he hadn’t noticed that before.
“Do you have emotions, feelings, things you need to get out?”.
Gene shook his head.
“Do you have something that needs a release?”
Gene shook his head, putting his hands to his ears.
“Is there something you want to confess ?”
Gene stood up. He couldn’t take any more.
He moved quickly out of the pew, pushing the priest aside.
“No, No, No” Gene moved closed towards the large wooden door of the church.
“I warn you Gene. Walk out there now and you will make it harder for yourself and for me. It’s not 1973 Gene. Or 1983. Things have changed. Everything’s changing – but you. You need to admit things to yourself, face facts”.
“Facts....Facts....? I don’t know who you are, what you are, or what you are trying to do. But if you continue to play stupid mind games with me, I swear, I will not be responsible for my actions.”
Father Daniel , touched his hand to his cross and then put his fingers inside his dog collar.
“So be it. You are like a candle in the wind, flickering, an eternal flame. Walk out there Gene, and that light will go. You will see. You will need me. You will be back”.
“Over my dead body” Gene replied.
“Exactly Gene. Over you’re DEAD body. Say it Gene. Admit it. You are dead. Just like Alex, and Ray, and Chris and Shaz, and Viv.”
Gene reached for the door latch, and struggled. The door seemed jammed shut. Father Daniel was walking closer behind him
“Say it Gene. I want to hear you say it. Admit it. You are’ Dead. Dead.Dead”.
With all the strength he could muster, Gene made one last effort, and miraculously, the door opened. He slammed it shut behind him and started to run. Where? He had no idea. He just had to get away as far as possible. From the voices going round his head, the taunting, the howling, evil laughter , the heat, the sounds of gunshot, the demons that were continuing to haunt him. Oh and the damn clown. There he was, laughing, on the corner of the street.
The word “Dead” echoed through his head as he continued to run as fast as his boots could carry him. He was weary, feverish, hot and cold at the same time. The storm had stopped but there was still heavy rain. Yet when he looked up into the night sky he could see hundreds of stars. Shit. Is this what happened? Is this what happened to them all too? Ray, Alex, Chris, Shaz.
Damn. It wouldn’t happen to him. He would fight, fight it all the way. He couldn’t, wouldn’t slip up now. He had come so far, and he would continue to look each day and night in the eye.
The Gene Genie was NOT dead by a long shot.
With that thought he continued pacing until he was out of sight of All Soul’s Church, and he turned the corner and fled into the dark Manchester night, and into another unknown world.

Music: Knockin' on Heaven's Door - Guns & Roses

Monday, 19 July 2010

Ch 8: HEAVEN KNOWS AM MISERABLE NOW




Gene developed a good pace and marched quickly through the Manchester Streets, cutting through again and taking shortcuts. He mused he should have been a taxi driver. He certainly had the Knowledge. Fire up the Blackcab. Hmmmm it might have had some perks. Just think of all those tasty birds tarted up after a night out.

The sky started to get darker as Gene walked through Little Italy, the area in Ancoats where many Italian immigrants had settled. The rain had eased but his hair was plastered to his head, and his face felt both hot and cold at the same time. Perhaps he would have one more drink before calling on his old pals. Still at least his boots were watertight. 500 bloody miles. That bloody song. It was certainly beginning to feel like it.

It was as he was getting nearer to the area where the Gasworks were that the strange feeling came over him. He went a little dizzy and put his hand out to steady himself on a nearby wall. Away from the City Centre the streets were quieter which he preferred but it was a dicey area at the best of times. He could have gone the longer way round and up near the railway arches but then he would have bumped into the prozzies, probably the same ones he had run in all those years ago, only with less hair, less teeth, more crabs and God knows what else.
Not wanting to loiter on the litter ridden streets in the Twilight, he continued on his mission along the banks of the canal, watching the rats scurrying by the side of the warehouse. What had possessed him to come back to this dirty filthy hole?

A need. That’s what. Memories. His recent thoughts had been filled with those he had now lost: his gang, his team, Ray, Shaz, Viv, Chris, and Alex. Yet now he was back here, his thoughts turned to Sam. Good old Boy Wonder. And Annie. Another life. He leaned back against a wall and stared up into the darkening sky, the rain clouds had disappeared and now all that were visible were stars, millions of them. He wished Bolly would just fall down, from wherever she was, straight into his arms. Why had he come? Why? He should have stayed in the Smoke. What was he hoping for? Sam to come tear-arsing round the corner in the Cortina? Irritating him with his stupid sayings...

“If you injure somebody whilst driving this, it’s technically a criminal offence” he once said to which Gene had replied

“Oh shut up you noncey arsed fairy!”

Yet he wished that noncey arsed fairy would appear right now. By God he did.

The streets were becoming all too familiar , and Gene was beginning to feel odd, but decided once he got to his mates he would be fine. Jesus he couldn’t even remember their names, let alone where they lived. He circled the area near Briscoe Lane for what felt like a hundred times, but the house where he remembered them living didn’t appear to be there anymore. There was a newsagents on the corner, called McElroys. The only person Gene knew of that name was Sammy Mac the footballer who played for Man United...he winced as he thought about those two forbidden words. Now if it had been something like Franny’s or the legend that was Tommy Booth, well that was a different matter. Mind you, you would never get such a wonderous and fine team of players slumming it in this neck of the woods not in a million years. He made a mental note to check the matches so he could go over to Maine Road whilst he was here.
Frustrated, tired and in need of a drink, he spotted the pub across the road from the Gasworks. Delving into his pocket he realised he had bits of change nothing more. Billy Bastard Bollocks. What the hell was he going to do now? He wished he could find an answer, and pronto.
As he turned on his heel his boot kicked something. He glanced down. Under the streetlight it looked like a wallet. Instinctively, Gene picked it up, his copper’s curiosity getting the better of him. There was no money in it. Damn. In fact there was hardly anything other than a plastic card and either a letter or something folded up. He unfolded it. It was something from a bank . As he read it, Gene realised they were instructions about the card. A credit card. If he could find a bank machine, he would need to insert it, and he could get some money, oh, but it said he needed a pin number. Taking out the plastic card he examined it. There were lots of numbers on it , but he couldn’t see very well in the darkness. As he scanned the rest of the letter, he noticed there was a distorted panel at the bottom. Ah. The pin number was under there. Apparently he had to peel to reveal. God how he had wanted to do that to DI Drake on more than one occasion!
He could see another shop further along the road past the Gasworks and as he got closer there was, as if by magic, one of the holes in the wall. A cash machine. Miracles did happen sometimes. Gene wondered if it was something to do with the area, something to do with Sam.

He leaned the letter against the wall and carefully peeled off the strip, taking the card out of the wallet and turning it over so he could read better under the streetlight. As he did, a lump appeared in his throat, and he couldn’t swallow. For under the long number of the card there was also a start date: 19/34 and an expiry date 06/52. It took a second to register, and underneath the name was now clearly visible. It said Gene Hunt. Gene stood completely still for a few moments, trying to take it all in, trying to work out what in God’s name was happening. He felt sick. He also knew what would be lying beneath the strip and, slowly he revealed the pin number, 6620.
He put his head on his arms and leaned up against the cash machine. What the hell was going on? Was this for real? Was he going mad? Somebody, somewhere was messing with his head.
He took some deep breathes and gathered some strength. Nobody messed with the Gene Genie. Nobody. This was a sign. It meant he could now get some money. He followed the instructions, put in the pin number and drew out £100.

Bloody Hell. Easy peasy. Somebody must be looking out for him. “Thanks Tyler,my old mate, wherever you are”.

Trying not to dwell to much on why, how and what, all he knew he was in need of a bloody good drink. He could do that now. He would nip in the pub here, and then maybe go back into town and get a decent hotel room for the night.

The pub was warm and welcoming. It was quite busy with people obviously enjoying the last night of the Bank holiday of the year before going back to work. Gene got himself a double scotch and a packet of fags. Whilst he was putting his money away, he asked the buxom barmaid, a badly died blonde with more roots than Kunta Kinte about the houses that used to be around here in the 70s.

“No idea love, I wasn’t around then”. Jesus she must have had a hard life then, judging by her face, or been banged more times than a car door at the very least.

“Ere, Bert, this bloke’s asking about the houses across the road in the 70s. You’ll remember”

Bert, whom Gene was thankful was not another raving poofter , did remember.

“Oh now you’re asking. They were knocked down. “ He scratched his head and continued “Let me see.....bloody hell at least 20 years ago.”

Gene wasn’t sure what he meant. He took a swig of his scotch.

“Yeah. Am sure it was the end of ’77, maybe ’78.”

It was at this point Gene knew something was wrong. Seriously wrong. Shit.

His thoughts were interrupted when the Barmaid turned up the television set that was perched on the corner of the bar. Many of the people in the pub, obviously locals gathered round to watch the News. It was ten o’clock.

Gene wondered what had happened and stood up to see, moving nearer to get a better view, all the while swigging his whisky.

“Good Evening. This is the News from ITN. It’s now 24 hours since the death of Dodi Al Fayed and The Princess of Wales in Paris...”

Gene was mesmerised. The Princess of Wales? Surely they meant the Prince of Wales, Charles?

“Already the outpouring of grief around the world is becoming phenomenal. Churches and Cathedrals are opening their doors and beginning books of condolences. People are saddened at the tragic loss of the People’s Princess, our Queen of Hearts at such a young age of 36. Yes, like the assassination of Kennedy, 1997 will be a year we will all remember where we were when we heard the news of Diana’s death...”

There was a crash as the whisky glass, now empty, slid from Gene’s hands and fell upon the tatty carpeted floor. People turned round. Gene was staring at the screen. The people were staring at Gene. A face was staring out at Gene from the TV screen. A face he had never ever wanted to see again.

“Gene”.

He looked around, bewildered. The faces swimming in front of him, the noise getting louder and louder. He had to get out. Now.

How he made it outside, he didn’t know. He stumbled onto the pavement, like a drunk in the gutter., and instantly puked up, all the evenings binging, Mr Thomas’s fish and chips, the lot.
He was sweating, and shivering at the same time.

1997.

What did it mean?

1997.

He had been in 1983 with Alex, and the others.

How in God’s name could he now be in 1997? Surely it was either still 1983, or at least 1984.
1997?

Maybe it was a bad dream after all. He was so damn tired.

He rested himself with his head on his knees at the side of the kerb. A car sped past through the puddle of rain, covering Gene with muddy rainwater. Yet he didn’t care. He had never felt as thoroughly and utterly miserable as he did now.

He should never have come back here. It was a mistake. A big big mistake.

He would go find a hotel for the night and get the first train back to London in the morning.

Standing up, his legs still felt weak and wobbly but maybe the walk would do him good, clear his head.

1997, as if. It had to be a combination of drink, and tiredness.

He walked towards Ancoats Hospital which was a little further down on the left, and then turned left, thinking he would cut through the back way. Along Pollard Street, and then he found himself on Every Street. His head was spinning. These places were too familiar. He could see Sam, everywhere.

He saw some houses on the corner. Of course. This was where one of his mates had lived, near the Church. It all came flooding back to him now. He doubted though if he was still living here , he laughed to himself, trying to make a joke of it, especially if it was bloody 1997.

He realised he needed the toilet. He had been so caught up with everything he hadn’t been for hours, and he had drunk so much he was now getting desparate for a piss.

He toyed with the idea of just going up against a wall, but knowing his luck the local plod would come along, arrest him and put him in the clink for the night for being drunk and disorderly.
He turned to the Church. If the Churches were still open , if it was 1997 that is, then he would nip in there.

It was as he got closer he saw that the Church was actually boarded up, and derelict, the sign “All Souls” vandalised with graffiti, its grounds empty for he remembered there had never been any graveyards.

He turned back thinking he would probably go up and relieve himself behind a wall when he heard a voice.

“Gene”.

He turned back to the Church one more, and saw the boarded up windows had gone. The door was open and it was lit up inside.

Gene slowly walked towards the entrance, still eager for a pee, but now something else had entered his mind.

As he stood in the cold damp aisle,all alone. There was a draft behind him and the door banged shut. It made him jump.

Momentarily he wondered where the toilets were, but then from the corner of his eye he thought he saw a movement. Instinctively his hand went to his pocket for his gun, backing up towards the alter, not taking his eyes of the big wooden door for a second.

“ About time” a voice said.

Gene felt routed to the spot. He wasn’t a religious man and he was now getting the fear of God in him.

“I’ve been waiting a long time for you. What took you so long?”

Gene turned round, staring in disbelief at who was standing in front of him.

“You!. What in the name of God are you doing here?”

Music: Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now - The Smiths

Ch 7: TUBTHUMPING

Gene Hunt walked into the The Castle pub on Oldham Street. It was half empty. Slamming his black driving gloves on the bar, he shouted to the Landlord.
“A pint of your finest Manchester ale my good man, and a packet of nuts when you are ready”.
The smell of hops, and cigarette smoke in the air smelt like heaven. Gene felt happy to be back in the town he belonged. A place where he had not been for a good few years. Why he was there was anybody’s guess. All he knew was he had been lured back, by forces unknown. Despite the nightmare journey from London he had felt compelled to continue, and he was glad he did, especially when the landlord handed him his much needed alcoholic drink.
Sipping the head on his beer he licked his lips. That tasted bloody lovely. Nectar!
As he sat on the bar stool crunching his nuts he surveyed his surroundings. Nothing much had changed. That was the thing about Manchester. It didn’t matter how many times you went away, or how many times you came back, nothing ever changed. It never would. The same old miserable atmosphere, the dingy streets where the tramps and prozzies hung out, not to mention the rain. Oh the bloody rain. Gene was pretty surprised it hadn’t been raining when he turned up but then the sun always shone on the rightheous. He took another mouthful of beer , gulping it pretty quick, and it wasn’t long before he finished the glass.
“Another please, and a vodka chaser”. He might as well make the most of the peace and quiet and reflect on what he would do next.
He thought about making small talk with the landlord who was fat, had greying curly hair and smelt of fish.
“Think it’s gonna rain later” , the landlord said as though reading Gene’s mind.
“What’s new” Gene retorted.
Then there was a silence.
“You had a busy day then?” Gene continued.
“No. Dead actually” replied the Landlord.
Silence again. Gene started on his second pint. God it was like the bloody morgue. A bit of atmosphere would have been good.
At that point the saloon doors burst open and a blonde spikey haired bloke came storming in.
“ooooh Colin, it’s started raining. I had to run back for my brolly. Don’t want to get my feathers wet!”
Gene continued to stare at the guy, taking in his appearance from his tight spangly t-shirt, even tighter fitting jeans, pink shoes which matched his pink eyeshadow and the bright pink feather boa draped around his neck.
“oh Hello! You’re nice. Must be my lucky day” he said, staring at Gene, who was still staring back.
“What’s your name then Big boy?”
Gene, trying to work out whether it was actually a boy, or a girl, realised he was staring.
“The name is Hunt. DCI Gene Hunt to you. Now piss of Nancy boy and leave me to have my pint in peace”.
“Alright no need to get your knickers in a twist”, said the blonde bloke, obviously unphased by Gene’s authority.
Gene watched him disappear through to the back room, and heard him running upstairs. A moment or two later he was back down, clutching a large plastic umbrella, and not to Gene’s surprise, it was bright pink.
He walked up behind the bar to the landlord and whispered in his ear.
The landlord laughed out loud “Oooh Jason you are awful”. Gene noticed him pat “Jason” on his pert little bottom. Bloody great. He was getting hit on by two raving poofters. Gene felt even more un-nerved that he had actually noticed the tight bum. Jesus this beer was strong.
Jason went over to the jukebox , put some money in the slot and selected a track before turning back to Gene saying:
“I bet you look good in your uniform. I do sooooo love a man in uniform. I’m off to Mardi Gras. Chow for now” and he blew both Colin the Landlord and Gene a kiss before leaving as fast as he had come in.
Gene turned his attention back to his drink.
“He’s a pussycat really” The landlord was leering at Gene,before continuing “I am more of a tiger myself”.
Gene didn’t know whether to punch his lights out there and then, or arrest him for lewd behaviour towards a police officer. He realised the track playing was by those other raving nonces that he had listened to once with Alex and Shaz back in the office. Alex had waffled on about gravestones, Rock Hudson and something called AIDS. How she came to some of her conclusions about things God only knew.
“Relax....like the song says..” Colin the Landlord leant over the bar towards Gene.
“Fancy another, on the house? Why not sit over the where it’s more comfortable. I’ll bring it across. You look like you need to put your feet up.”
Gene’s temper got the better of him. He snatched the glass of vodka up from the bar, knocked it back in one go and grabbed the Landlord by his shirt collar, the obnoxious fishy smell even stronger.
“Listen Pal, the only thing going up will be my boot up your backside, you arse bandit. Mind you, you’d probably bloody enjoy it”. He let the scruffy landlord go, watching him stumble and fall back against some of the optics. He pushed open the doors, feeling a little low, but glad to be in evening air once more, and started to make his way down Oldham Street towards Piccadilly.
As he neared the Gardens, he could hear singing and shouting. There was probably something going on. He remembered it was the August Bank holiday weekend. He could see a large crowd gathering, and an awful lot of pink, banners, cowboy hats and bloody feathers. Another bloody powder of puffs! He decided to avoid Piccadilly and made his way along Portland Street. He quite fancied a pub crawl on his first night back. He just about had enough for a pint in each of his favourite haunts. He devised a plan. He would go down to the City Arms near the Town Hall, then head back down Deansgate , nip into Mr Thomas’s Chop House, maybe grab a bite to eat in there, and then finish up at Shambles Square. That would do very nicely.
Cutting through Chinatown, he was glad he knew all the shortcuts and the back streets. By the time he got to the City Arms he was thirsty and ready for another drink but the City Arms was heaving, people milling everywhere outside, and more bloody pink feathers everywhere. As he moved round past Albert Square the Town Hall clock struck 6pm. It was hammered with people everywhere. Most of them so obviously bent as a nine bob note. It looked like some sort of Gayboys Carnival since there were floats, blokes snogging, and people dancing and singing. He had to get as far away as possible.
He made his way towards Deansgate. It looked a little different. There were a few buildings boarded up here and there, and it looked like quite a bit of renovation work to some buildings was going on. Maybe it was a result of the Thatcher years. He wished Maggie was there now. The Iron Lady would blast this rabble out of the sky.
He turned left at the traffic lights in search of Mr. Thomas’s Chop House, then turned back on himself. Had he taken a wrong turning? No he was certain. He couldn’t be lost. Gene Hunt bloody lost in his hometown. He had to admit it had been a long two days and because he hadn’t eaten very much the alchohol was affecting him pretty quickly.
He cut down another side street, and found the Hidden Gem. He had always been fascinated by the strange little Church which was tucked away right in the City Centre. He knew the Chop House couldn’t be far away.
Sure enough he continued and there it was, as always , on the corner. Once inside he found it pleasantly half empty, sat down and ordered a glass of wine, whilst reading the menu. It had changed over the years, there was too much posh nosh for his liking so he settled for Mr Thomas’s good old Traditional Fish, Chips and Mushy Peas. He would be farting for England tonight, he chuckled to himself, then realised he hadn’t even thought where he would be spending the night. Maybe he would call on one or two old pals, see if they could put him up for a day or two whilst he got himself sorted.
Another glass of wine later, having washed down his meal, he headed back off in the direction of Shambles Square, taking another backstreet shortcut to avoid all the namby-pambys who were still walking the streets. As he cut up one of the small alleyways he suddenly found he had come to a dead end, for there was a large white board blocking him from going any further. He backtracked and decided to walk the long way round only to be met by more hoarding and fencing. What had they demolished there? He racked his brains trying to think which department store stood on the corner. Turning in the opposite direction he would have to get to Shambles another way. He needed another drink and was getting pretty desparate, marching along, not really taking to much notice of buildings or shops.
It was only when he got to the place where he thought Shambles Square was when he stopped in his tracks, somewhat puzzled.
“What the ..” He was met by more white boarding. Jesus. Where was the pub? The Shambles was one of the most famous and most popular drinking haunts in the City. No way would they demolish it or close it down. He was starting to get a little pissed off now, plus it had started raining again.
He walked around the area called BlackFriars, and up towards the Cathedral, having had another idea. As he neared the City’s Medieval Church near Victoria Station, he heard the rumble of another train coming in. God it was busy here too. Black cabs lined up the rank. There was a huge new building to the left, and there was a massive crowd of people near the Cathedral. He realised it was actually a very large queue. People were holding flowers, clutching candles, their wicks flickering in the evening breeze. The rain started to come down a little heavier. Gene had had enough of crowds for one day and fancied a bit of peace and quiet. Maybe he should start to work his way across and out of town now to look up his old mates. He might even bump into others from his old life in Manchester – now that would be something worth coming back for, to see some old faces from his past.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Ch 6 : I'M GONNA BE (500 MILES)




Chapter 6 – I’m Gonna Be (500 miles)
It was Monday morning. As the double decker chugged further away from Alton Towers, heading North along the inside lane of the M6, it’s solitary passenger suddenly stirred from his prostrate position on the back seat. Stifling a yawn and rubbing his eyes he surveyed his surroundings.
“Back of a bloody bus! Story of my life” Gene Hunt muttered under his breath, thinking about the kinds of women he had met.
He stumbled along the empty bus towards the driver.
“How long is it gonna take?” Gene asked glancing at his watch – it was nearly 10am and he already felt like he had been on the bus for hours.
“Still a good hour or two mate”, the driver replied.
“Bloody Hell. Everybody knows its only 42.73 miles approximately back to Manchester from here. That is 1 hour and 26 minutes precisely. Now put your foot down”.
“Can’t do mate. Motorway. Rules. Company rules. I don’t want my licence taking off me. We have a policy that if you can’t do it safely then you don’t it. Simple”
“Do you hear that?” Gene motioned to the empty seats. “That’s the sound of no-one caring. Now give it some whelly” Gene was starting to feel a little anger well up. Bloody Jobsworth. Jesus, he felt rough. He caught a slight reflection of himself in one of the bus windows. He looked rough too.
“When’s the next stop or services then?” he shouted back to the driver.
“I need a shave, shower, and a shi...” He was promptly interrupted by the driver.
“Four more towns to stop and pick up. We had to wait in Newcastle under Lyme for out first lot of passengers and couldn’t leave until they were picked up.”
Gene looked around puzzled.
“Forgive my ignorance, but I am the only one on this damn bus”.
“I know. They didn’t turn up. Still had to wait though. Just doing my job, mate . I won an award last year for being the company’s Best People Person. I take it your not one of them”.
Gene was starting to get a little hacked off.
“Do I looking like a pissing People Person to you. Nor am I “one of them” Poofter, now get a bloody move on and don’t call me Mate. I am not your Mate. I am DCI Gene Hunt and I am tired, hungry and fast becoming angry, and you won’t like me when I’m angry.!”
Gene sat down in the first seat reserved for the old age pensioners, disabled and expectant mothers. What had this bloody world come to? People Person indeed!
The sign for Leek was a welcome break and as the bus careered into the centre of the market town Gene frantically looked for the nearest cafe.
“How long I got mate?” he asked the driver in a sarcastic tone.
“One hour max.”
Bloody great. 60 minutes in another godforsaken hole. Still there was plenty of time to get a decent breakfast inside him, although looking at the time it wouldn’t be long before lunchtime. He needed the toilet too. Ha, he could take a leak in Leek.
One hour later with a fully belly of English breakfast, and an empty bladder, Gene got back on the bus.
“Right, let’s get this show on the road now – not another bloody minute longer”.
“Ssshh” the driver said, motioning his head towards the inside of the bus.
Gene turned round to see two nuns sat at the front of the bus. Impulsively, and on its own, his hand went into the pocket of his coat. The cruficix was still there.
“Good day, Sisters” Gene acknowledged the two nuns as he made his way to the back of the bus again. He also noticed a few more passengers had boarded, one in particular stuck out like a sore thumb with a mass of carrot red curls. He was sat behind another weird guy who looked like he needed a damn good wash. They both had notepads which they were scribbling in, and singing. Well, if you call it that. Gene thought Luigi’s cat sang better.
“I...wanna fall from the sky..down into” the scruffy unwashed guy sang.
“no. No...that’s not right” The ginger one argued. A minute later he started singing.
“I...wanna fall from the stars, straight into your arms”.
“Oh wow.” The scruff responded.
In unison, they sang the line again, and then again.
One of the nuns turned round with a serious look on her face, glared at the two young men, and then gave them a big beaming smile.
“You have the voice of an angel to be sure, young man”.
Gene smirked at the comment. He was beginning to develop a headache and a bad taste in his mouth.

The bus was just setting off slowly when the driver halted quickly and opened the doors. At least 15 men and boys wearing blue and white football shirts piled onto the bus, one or two heading up to the top deck, whilst the majority grabbed the remaining empty seats downstairs. Gene quickly moved from the back seat onto a double. One bearing the name “Gascoigne” sat in front of him.
“Away we go lads.” One of them shouted, who was wearing a black shirt.
Gene thought he recognised an Irish accent. Oh this was getting good. Two weirdo hippies, two nuns, no doubt Irish and a coach load of paddies. Yet just when he thought it couldn’t get any worse another two voices started talking.
“Aye, we cannae wait. What say we have wee dram when we get to Manchester lads.?”
Bloody great. A bus full of Glasgow Rangers fans. This journey was surely turning into Hell on earth. Where in God’s name have this lot come from. Gene despaired. A true situation where there was indeed an Englishman, an Irishman and a Scotsman but he was in no mood for jokes.
Drones of “Scotland the Brave” and “Donald where’s your trousers?” overshadowed the hippy blokes writing about falling from the stars. Gene wanted to string the whole bloody lot of them up, remembering the times when Rangers and Celtic fans got together after or before away matches. He leaned his tired weary head against the bus window, staring into oblivion. A few moments peace arrived, and then one Scots lad stood up, turned to face the others and started singing very loudly..
“When I wake up, well I know I’m gonna be...”
The rest of the fans joined in in unison
“I’m gonna be the man that wakes up next to you”.
This continued in the same fashion, they were getting louder, obviously already alcohol fuelled as they rambled on some song about walking 500 miles.
Gene cursed under his breath. It felt like he had walked bloody 500 miles since yesterday morning leaving London. In fact it would have been bleeding quicker to walk. Jesus!
To his amazement he saw the two nuns swaying along to the song and clapping their hands. This was turning into Billy Graham’s wonderbus. How could he put up with this for the remainder of the journey. Gene was on a short fuse. He wished he could get out there and fast.
The vehicle continued for a short distance with more Scottish song renditions and then suddenly the bus started jerking, some of the Scots lads who were standing had to grab the handrails to steady themselves. The driver started to pull over onto the hard shoulder where the bus came to a halt. There was a strange smell of burning coming from the back too.
This was not happening. It was like a bad dream. Gene was doomed. Was he not meant to get back to Manchester. What the hell was going on?
The Rangers fans in high sprits were not phased by the obvious problem and decided to make the most of the hold up, still singing at the tops of their voices.
It was when they started on one particular song, Gene felt himself snap. Shang-a-Bloody-Lang. That was all he needed. What kind of phraseology was that? A reminder of another time that's what. He stood up, pushed his way through the lads who were standing and jumped off the bus. The driver was investigating the situation.
“Where are you going?” He shouted to Gene who was standing on the grass on the embankment.
“Please, get back on my bus. It’s not safe. You are my responsibility”. The driver continued.
“Too many freaks, not enough circuses” Gene retorted “I have had enough. I am off! “
With that, he left the singing broken down bus behind and he started to march along, cowboy boots striding steadily along the tarmac, that bloody song going round and round in his head ..”I –would-walk-500-miles.”
Luckily for Gene he didn’t have to walk that far. Sandbach services appeared like an oasis in a hot desert. Gene purchased a take away coffee , a chocolate muffin and a packet of extra strong mints. He also bought a small pack of bic razors. Visiting the gentlemen’s room once more at least he could get a shave. He was pretty impressed by the facilities, he thought as he shaved, although using the soap from the dispenser was making the razor grate against his skin, but when he had finished at least he looked a little more human, and alive. He splashed cold water on his face, and smoothed his hair. Cleaning his teeth with his finger and water he had another feeling of déjà vu. It was when he spat on his boots and tried to polish them up he remembered the last time he had done the very same thing, before his dinner date with Bolly. He felt a little sick. Maybe it was the coffee. Or the muffin. Maybe he was tired. He steadied himself against the wash basin and stared in the mirror.
“Gene”.
He thought he saw the figure of a woman behind him and swung round.
“Alex?”
Yet there was nobody there, only an old woman with a trolley, obviously the cleaner. Gene randomly wondered why a woman would be employed to clean the Gents toilets.
He tossed the remaining unused razors in the bin, and left.
Feeling a little more refreshed he contemplated his immediate problem. How in Hell’s name to get back to Manchester? There was really only one solution. It wasn’t that far now. He would hitch. He stuck out his thumb. Maybe he would get a lorry driver to give him a lift as far as he could. If he got really lucky he might get some fit bird in a fancy car. He wished.
As if by magic, his wish came true. There before his very eyes, was a silver motor. If he wasn’t mistaken,judging by the badge, it was an Audi. Not a Quattro, but even so, pretty impressive, and whats more being driven by a pretty impressive bit of skirt.
“Looking for business?” her soft voice asked.
Gene smiled. She certainly was a looker, not a hooker, with her auburn mane of curls cascading down her back, sunglasses perched sexily on top of her head.
“What’s a nice man like you doing in a place like this?” she continued.
“Waiting for a pretty woman like you” Gene knew how to turn on the charm when necessary, to say the right thing. Momentarily he felt a pang of guilt, and betrayal towards Alex. Only she wasn’t around now when he needed her. She couldn’t help him get back to where HE wanted to be.
“Hop in”.
Gene didn’t need asking twice.
He settled in beside the woman, and immediately couldn’t help but notice she was wearing a cream short mini skirt which revealed very long and tanned bare legs clad in red high stilettos. How could she drive in those shoes, he randomly thought. She turned to look at him and smiled. As he took in her appearance in the matter of seconds, he felt a connection. She seemed familiar as though he had met her somewhere before . Where? Her gold hooped ear-rings glistened in the midday sun and her hazel and heavily made up cat like eyes seemed to bore into his very soul.
“Where to?” She asked. Her voice really was sexy and seductive.
“Manchester, please”. Gene croaked, his throat was very dry. He felt like a 16 year old.
“That’s lucky. That’s where I am going”.
With that she put her foot on the accelerator and they sped off the slip road and back onto the M6.
Gene felt a little uneasy. Why in God’s name? She was just a woman. Ok a very attractive woman . He sneaked an occasional glance at her whilst she concentrated on the driving. He made small talk about the car. She told him it was an Audi A6, diesel engine with an inline 1.9 Turbocharged Direct Injection (TDI).
“mmm Am impressed. Very impressed, however, “Fire up the Quattro” rolls of the tongue a damn sight better" Gene laughed.
She took her eyes off the road ahead for a split second, smiled at him the continued. She appeared to love the power underneath her.
Gene fiddled with the knobs and tried the radio.
“Oh I love that song. It’s one of my favourites” the woman said as the DJ announced two in a row from Elton John.
“Mind you, it’s no surprise. ” the girl continued.
“I like a bit of Crocodile Rock myself” Gene replied.
As the news started she switched the radio off.
“I would rather talk to you” she said to Gene.
They made small talk about the car and other cars. Gene was amazed to see the speed they had been going when he glanced at the dash and as they passed the motorway sign which said “Cheshire” he knew it wouldn’t be too long now before he he would see places he knew, places he hadn’t clapped eyes on for many years.
He was feeling both sick and excited at the same time. Butterflies in his tummy. Gene Hunt didn’t do this. Maybe it was the closeness of being in the company of such a sexy and sensual woman. He toyed with the idea of asking her for a drink in town, as payment for giving him a lift. Mind you, fumbling in his pockets he was running out of money. He wondered if she would accept payment in kind. She was some classy bird but he knew most women secretly fancied a bit of rough.
As the all too familiar Princess Parkway appeared, they sped, in silence, past Manchester Airport, the Post House Hotel at Northenden , Withington Hospital and Southern Cemetery.
The woman suddenly shivered, despite the heat of the early afternoon.
“Are you OK?” Gene asked, a little concerned. She looked pale and agitated.
“Yes. Thanks. I just always feel like that every time I pass that place.”
Gene had to admit he wasn’t a fan of cemetaries.
“I was one of the lucky ones. I really don’t know how I got away with not being one of his victims”.
Gene wasn’t entirely sure what she was rambling on about.
She continued.
“Well actually I have my husband to thank for that.”
Damnation. She was married. Gene felt a little deflated.
“Yes. If he hadn’t had rescued me..”
“Like your Knight in Shining Armour then?” Gene thought. He might as well ask.
“Oh yes. That’s where I am going now, to pick him up, in Old Trafford”.
Gene flinched.
“Do not say those two swear words to me. They are blasphemous. I am a true Blue throughout, in fact we need to bow down to Franny as we pass by”.
Gene felt elated as they drove through Fallowfield and Moss Side knowing that his beloved Maine Road was within spitting distance. It would be good to attend a match whilst he was back up North.
As they sped over the flyover on the Mancunian Way, Gene mused at the buildings. Ok one or two had shot up, but it had not really changed from what he could see. Maybe a couple of flats had gone up here and there.
As they drove through the familiar streets, the woman turned and said to Gene.
“Well, here we are. Where do you want dropping?”
They were near the CIS skyscraper, with Strangeways Prison Tower visible in the distance.
“Here will do just nicely”.
Gene had to admit he had enjoyed the final part of his journey and felt he had arrived in style, in a nice shiny motor, and with sexy bit of skirt.
As he got out he realised he didn’t even know her name”
“Oh, here’s my card.” Taking her clutch bag from the back seat, she opened it and handed him a red business card with black writing. He shoved it into his pocket without reading.
“Will you be OK now? “ he asked.
“Yes fine. I will just turn around and head over the Mancunian Way again. Up Chester Road. Then we will head back to Cheshire, that’s where we live”.
It’s allright for some thought Gene. He had been unaware he had been hobknobbing with the Cheshire set.
“Yes. He’s high up in his job you know. He’s got a good rank. He’s a copper”.
Gene felt that familiar feeling wash over him. The feeling of somebody walking over his grave again.
He knew the Police HQ was on Chester Road.
The woman flashed him a smile
“Ok, be seeing you, Gene” and off she went spinning the car round back off into the distance.
Gene turned round Whoa! She had called him Gene. He hadn’t even told her his name.
Or had he?
He could hear the town hall clock in Albert Square striking. It was four o’clock.
Where in God’s name had all those hours gone today?
Taking a deep breath of the wonderful and much missed City area, Gene began walking along towards Oldham Street. As he neared Piccadilly a feeling of pride and happiness came over him.
What a couple of days. What a journey from Hell.
Yet it didn’t matter. Not any more
He was back in Manchester, where he belonged.
The Gene Genie was finally home.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Ch 5: FAIRGROUND









Gene Hunt felt like he was on the road to Hell. It was getting dark and he was feeling tired and weary after a bastard of a day. Still, at least the motor was chugging along nicely, although not for much longer judging by the petrol gauge which was seriously near the run out of mark.
“That’s all I need!” He cursed, slamming his thist against the steering wheel. There was nothing else for it but to find the nearest service station. He made his way off a slip road from the M1 for the first time that day, and searched for signs for a garage. There must be one around close to such a busy motorway but as he drove along the smaller lanes and B-roads nothing was appearing.
“I am an idiot!” he thought. Why on earth did he not just carry on to the next services? Because he doubted he would have enough juice to get him there. He needed filling up, and pronto. A short while later, and still driving through the leafy lanes he felt the vehicle jerk underneath him and the engine backfired.
“What the f...?!” Gene stared at the petrol gauge, the indicator having shot back up to a full tank. This damn car. Maybe some sort of fuel injection had kicked in. All Gene knew was that it was late, in fact it was gone 10 o’clock. He doubted any local garages would be open anyway at this time , especially out here in the sticks. He carried on along the same road, peering in the darkness for a sign to indicate where he was, or at least a way back to the motorway. Five minutes later he saw a sign saying “Welcome to Staffordshire”.
“Bloody Staffs. They are all in-bred here.!” He had gotten into the habit of talking to himself. If he was lucky he would get back to Manchester for midnight although there were still no signs for the Motorway. He was getting a bit fed up now. All he wanted was to get back.
As he drove along , it suddenly seemed to get even darker and he realised he was surrounded by trees and dense woodland. Jesus. He was now lost. Great. He stopped the car for a second, hesitating., then made an executive decision. He would stop at the next place he came to and ask for directions. The Gene Genie did not get lost.
It was sometime before he saw lights in the distance. He had passed no other cars, or seen human life walking the streets and he thought how unlike Fenchurch this was. What had he come to. He felt a little unnerved, not something he was familiar with , or a feeling he even liked. He turned into narrow road with a tatty sign indicating “Private” and headed towards the dimly lit house. It was as he got closer he saw in fact that it wasn’t just a house. It was a farmhouse. Gene shivered as though somebody had stepped over his grave. He felt sick. Somewhere in the distance a dog barked. It was a country dog, not like the dogs down in the Smoke. He stopped the car again mid-track, and then quickly did a three point praying some late night wurzle on his combine harvester didn’t appear. Was he going mad? He rubbed his eyes. God he was tired. That’s all it was. He pressed the button to release the electric windows down for some air and glanced in the mirror looking back at the farmhouse silhouetted against the night sky. An owl hooted. What in God’s name was going on?
He turned his head round to get a better view to make sure he wasn’t imagining it. After all, it was just a farmhouse. There would be cows, and pigs, chickens maybe, and a nice friendly Lassie dog....
Suddenly there was an almighty thud on the bonnet. Gene swung round in his seat.
“What the bloody hell...?” From out of the darkness a large black shape lept off his bonnet , over the wooden fence, and headed across the field to the farm building. Gene felt rooted to his seat, his natural normal instinct to go and beat the crap out of it had all but disappeared. He had no idea in hell’s name what it was. It certainly looked pretty large, and certainly not human! He knew there would be wild creatures roaming around woodland like this, maybe one of the famous big black cats even. All he knew was he had to get the hell out of here. Putting his foot down , the tyres spun on the gravel as he accelerated as fast as he could. The drive seemed longer than when he had entered up it, and to his horror he saw that the wooden gate at the entrance had been closed. Who had done that?! Or rather what had done it? That creature? It had to have been. There was no way he was leaving the safety of the Cosworth, so there was only one thing for it. He paused the car one more revving up the engine before he sped off, his eyes focussed directly ahead of him as he went crashing through the wooden bars of the gate. Thankfully he succeeded and it was only when he slowed down onto the main road that he looked in his mirror once more, half afraid of what he might see. As he opened the window ever so slightly for a bit of air, he thought he heard a growl followed by the most evil laughter he had ever heard in his life which appeared to be getting louder and closer by the minute. Not wishing to remain there for a second longer, he turned the car onto the main road, considering that perhaps he should abandon the trip home until the morning. It really wasn’t safe to drive when he felt so tired and weary. He made a pact with himself that if he didn’t find his way back to the motorway in the next ten minutes he would find a B&B. Switching the radio on for some company, he thought it may calm his nerves, but listening to Elvis Presley belting out “Devil in Disguise” was not what he needed right now.
Ten minutes later, still no sign of the motorway, and the familiar and unwanted sound of the chug chug of the Cosworth engine brought Gene to Wits End.
“I don’t believe it. I just do not bloody believe it. I will have one foot in the grave at this rate” He cursed as the car slowly putted out, it’s engine spluttered and died. Gene banged his head against the steering wheel in temper and frustration. Reluctantly getting out of the safety of the car he started to push it towards an opening on the right hand side. For the second time that day he brought the car off the road and steered it into a car park. A feeling of Deja-vu struck him.
What now?. He toyed with sleeping in the car until daylight but it was dark and also a little chilly. The autumn nights would be drawing in soon. Gene felt a little shaken, and if he admitted it, scared. That incident back at the farmhouse and given him the willies. Yet Gene Hunt did not do scared. He looked around at his surroundings. He could see a small sign with the outline of something that looked like a castle. It said “The Towers – this way”.
“My, My, looks like I have found myself a bed for the night! Gene thought. And not just some doss-house. Grabbing the torch from the glove compartment, along with his gun, he got out of the car and carefully locked the door.
“Piece of useless shit” he said kicking the wheels. He noticed the dent on the bonnet, and something which resembled blood. Whatever that bat out of hell was it had certainly done some damage. He would leave it until the morning , maybe get a garage or the good old AA again. Meanwhile he was on a mission to find somewhere to rest his weary head.
He followed the footpath, one hand on his torch shining it in front of him, the other on his gun. He wasn’t taking any chances, not in this place. It looked like a bloody jungle.
However, it wasn’t long before he came to a clearing, and low and behold in front of him was his hotel.
“Jesus, Mary and Joseph, it’s like Cinderella’s Castle”. He stared at the magnificent building in front of him, and couldn’t quite believe his eyes. Gene realised he was ravenous. His stomache rumbled, the Yorkie bars long gone. Thoughts of a four course meal, fine wine and log fire and a four poster bed beckoned. Fit for a King. Fit for the Gene Genie.
He started to walk towards the Gothic styled building, half expecting Count Dracula to pop up at any time. At least the area was well-lit. He switched off his torch and placed it back in his pocket. It was then he felt the other items in his possession, the things he had brought from the office. He let the links of the cross and chain run through his fingers for a brief moment.
Gene took in his surroundings. It certainly was an impressive place. Must cost a fortune to run. He had no idea how he would pay for his bed and board. He would worry about that in the morning. He peered at his watchi. It read 11:59. The lake in front of the mansion was calm, it’s still waters unrippled in the moonlight. Gene noticed there were several boats that resembled large swans. If he had a decent woman with him he would maybe take her out for a midnight row.
“Get a grip Hunt, don’t go soft!” he reprimanded himself.
It was as he was walking towards the house, he heard a rustling and splashing behind him. Suddenly the place lit up, large lamps came on, and he could hear music, and laughter. Almost like a fairground. The hurdy-gurdy of merry go rounds, helter skelters and cries of “roll-up, roll-up”.
And Fairground music.
“What in God’s name was this place?” He needed to get to the Hotel.
Confused he started to walk quickly, yet the faster he walked the further away the Gothic building seemed. The rustling behind him was getting louder and suddenly he heard laughter. Loud, evil uncontrollable laughter.
“Ha ha ha ha ha...Ha ha ha...ha ha ha ha ha ha” It was getting louder.
Gene ‘s feet failed him as his cowboy boots slipped on the wet grass and he stumbled. As he looked back, he saw it, emerging from the Lake. It was The Clown. The Peirrot Clown. It was coming after him, and getting closer. He scrambled to his feet and started to run. He would use his shooter if necessary.
“Idiot” he told himself “It’s not real. It’s the same one Alex waffled on about. It’s not real”. Yet the noises surrounding him were doing his head in. Maybe if he ran in a different direction he would lose the white figure with the pointy daft hat. He turned to his left, yet it was there again. And behind him. It was everywhere. No. No. No.

He put his hands to his head, fingers in his ears and shut his eyes tight. And then there was silence again. Was it real? Or all in his head? The Clown had gone. Maybe he was going mad. He needed to get his head down and get a decent night’s kip, and fast.
Taking some deep breaths he brushed his coat down, yet just as he started to move round the side of the Gothic building he saw it again. Boom. The Clown was there again, this time behind a case, and the laughter started once more. He turned and ran as fast as his legs could carry him. He needed to get away. Hide. But where?
There was a large signpost before him. He scoured for something, somewhere, as random names flashed before him . “, The Beast,Ripsaw, Thunder Looper”. What the hell? Gene just wanted to disappear into oblivion, or even a Black Hole. Anything to get him away, to safety. For it was at the moment he really felt he was in danger, and all alone. He had to make a choice. Forbidden Valley or Gloomy Wood and the Haunted House. Taking a deep breath Gene decided the latter it was. He had had enough fun and games up at Old McDonald’s Farm earlier. He could take whatever was coming.
Gene quickly followed the directions that pointed to the Gloomy Wood through a spooky graveyard where he came upon another old fashioned house. It only looked small from the outside. He walked into the entrance, thankful that he had finally shaken off the Clown. It was dusty and there was a fireplace covered in cobwebs. There was a giant spider hanging above, and a few monsters lying around. He laughed out loud. It wasn’t real. It was some sort of Haunted House, like the type you found at a fairground. What an idiot. That’s what lack of sleep does to you, he thought chuckling to himself in the silence. He had nothing to be afraid of. It was like Cloud Cukoo land.
He spoke too soon. Suddenly there was a wirring noise , and it was then he noticed the track to the side of him. A small electric car, shaped like a coffin pulled up. It was then he noticed the singing. A girl’s soft voice. It was not a song he knew. Some of it was in a foreign language, and almost operatic. It was quite haunting.
“You made it then!”. A voice behind him brought him to his senses. The hairs on the back of his neck stood up and his hand shot to his shooter.
“What the..You!”
“Me, Gene. Yes it’s me. Fancy a ride?”
Gene started in disbelief at the figure before him. A figure he had seen earlier that day, back at the Fleet Air Museum. The pilot. What’s his face. How in God’s name had he got here?
“Danny, boy!” Gene mused. He really was going mad. “So what brings you to this neck of the gloomy woods, at this time of night”.
“I’ve come for you Gene. It’s time. Time to say goodbye”. The pilot walked closer.
“Goodbye? I ain’t going nowhere pal, apart from away from this Godforsaken hole. Does this contraption take us to Manchester then?”
The pilot did not appear to be amused. He grabbed Gene by the arm and rustled him into the coffin, and sat down beside him as the vehicle slowly started to move.
“I am taking you on a journey. It’s a journey you need to make.”
“What..the...I don’t understand. How , why are you here. How did you get here, before me?”
“I’ve always been here, Gene. For many years. In fact I am everywhere.”
“I don’t bloody understand” Gene continued.
“You don’t have to. Not yet. Just sit back and enjoy the ride. It won’t take long. A mere 8 minutes out of your life”.
"Fire up the Coffin then, Danny Boy!" instructed Gene.
The car started to rolled slowly along, then it started to career against the slanting walls before the light went and they were plunged into darkness. As it sped up, Gene turned to grab Danny’s arm only to find that the pilot had suddenly vanished once more, and he was alone, on some out of control coffin. It would be so funny if it wasn’t so terrifying.
In those minutes, Gene’s life started to flash before him. There were cowebs, and slimey items dropping on him, covering his hair, stinging his eyes. Screams, blood curdling chilling screams.
And then he saw them.
The faces.
His Mum. His dead leg of a brother. Smiling, waving and then they turned into ugly gargoyles, fangs snarling.
And then more familiar faces, Ray, Shaz, Chris, blood covering their faces, oozing from every orifice. The smell was pungent. Gene felt he was going to puke up any moment, or worse. He clung to the rails on the cab.
The screams, their screams were getting louder, desparate. He heard the gunshots.
“Gene, Gene, help us, please....” their helpless wailing cut through him life a knife. He felt something hit him in the face as he entered yet another dark tunnel, then a sharpe knowing pain in his jaw. He touched his fingers to his cheek, and felt something wet. He could taste blood.
And all the time he could hear the noises in his head, the moaning, the cries, it really was like a Hammer house of horrors. What the hell was it? Was it a nightmare, or was he dead? Really? He thrust his hands in his pockets and suddenly clutched the cross and chain.
Suddenly he could see a bright light at the end of the tunnel ahead of him. It hurt his eyes. Then the voice. Oh that bloody voice. How he had missed it.
“Gene. Come to me Gene. “
She was there. His angel. Smiling at him reaching out, dressed all in white. Bolly. Bols. Drake.
“Alex. Help me. Please”. He cried out, desparate.
“Here, take my hand”. He saw her slender outstretched hand, and leaned over the front of the cab to take it. But he couldn’t reach. He couldn’t quite get her grip. Her dress suddenly stained red, like her bloody red shoes. In the darkness the best he could do was touch the end of her fingertips with his. As they made contact, something happened. The cab came to a sudden halt. The darkness lifted slightly, the noises subsided and as he looked up in wonder he could see a million stars above him.
Shaken and dazed he stumbled out of the cab into the silence, and through what he assumed was the exit door. His assumption was correct.
Outside it was daylight.
That had to be longest ride of his life. A bloody long 8 minutes. What it was all about he had no idea.
How he made his way back to the car park and the Cosworth he would never know. Yet he did.
He slumped in the driver’s seat, locking himself in, laying his head in his hands against the steering wheel but resting his head back. He manoeuvred the seat into a reclining position and felt into a deep deep sleep, almost comatose.
He awoke a few hours later to some shouting and banging on the windows.
“hey, wake up Grandad.”
“You been here all night Perv.?”
“Weirdo”.
Gene was a little disorientated and could make out a coach, and a gang of schoolboys who obviously were hurling the abuse at him.
He straightened his seat, and tried the ignition, hoping it would start, knowing in his heart it wouldn’t.
“Damn and blast”. What was he to do now?
He looked in the mirror. Bloody Hell – he looked like death. His face was a mess covered in all kinds of crap from that ghostly ride or whatever it was. He was just thinking about getting cleaned up and going to look for a phone to call the garage, maybe grab something to eat when he saw a bus pull into the parking area. It was obviously some kind of terminus too as well as parking area.
He saw the signage in the bus window said “Manchester”.
Without hesitation, he quickly got out of the car, slamming the door behind him.
“So long baby. Hate to leave you here, you useless pile of dung, but the Gene Genie’s still on a mission”.
He walked across the gravel towards the bus. The driver opened the doors.
“You going to Manchester then?” Gene asked.
“Yep. Leave in 5 minutes, mate.”
Gene boarded, rummaging in his pocket for some money.
“Jesus. Rough night was it? You look half dead! “ the driver commented on Gene’s appearance.
“Yeah something like that pal. How much? And how long will it take, to get back?”
The driver took Gene’s money and gave him a ticket. Gene Hunt didn't really do buses. How the mighty are fallen.
“Oh , couple of hours max. I won’t have many passengers yet it was pretty quite here for a Bank Holiday yesterday with all what was going on. People were glued to the news and they shut a lot of the rides down , but I have a lot of stops to make between here and there ” The driver fired up the engine and started to pull out of the parking area, past the children’s farmyard area. Gene felt another shiver as the last thing he saw was the scarecrow standing at the entrance.
“ You get to the back seat mate and get your head down for a kip. You could be in for the longest ride of your life”.
Gene grinned back at him.
“Think I have already had that mate. Think I already have, and I don’t think it’s finished just yet. In fact, it’s only just begun”.