Welcome to Chapter Sixteen in the serialisation of Neil Mason’s gripping and highly original debut novel There There My Dear. A dark figure sparks fear on an otherwise wet and dreary Sunday afternoon in Wimbledon.
If you’ve missed out on the earlier chapters, then it’s time to catch up on events so far. You can follow this link to catch up!
There There My Dear
Michael Sills was relishing his new life. Distanced from the trials and tribulations of his younger years and with the impending benefit of television fame, everything was coming to him at last. He felt that he deserved it.
Sunday afternoons had become somewhat ritualistic for him since the demise of his political career. Previously, where he had dedicated every waking hour to his constituents and to the betterment of the party, Sundays had merged into another working day. Once those responsibilities had disappeared from his routine the weekend had started to evolve into a genuine break from the rigours of honest toil.
Now the pattern was relatively settled and Saturdays usually involved some kind of recreational activity – cycling was the zeitgeist – and Sundays were his ‘me time.’ If he was hungover at all then he would spend an hour in the gym in order to sweat out the poisons in his system. After a dry Saturday he would rise early and go for a sauna and then a walk through Barnes Common. In the afternoon he would either read a book, nothing serious but a good plot was always helpful, or he would watch a film.
That Sunday afternoon was due to follow its normal course. He had been to the gym on account of his fuzzy head caused by a few blond beers and a shot or two of Sambuca with an old squash opponent. He was looking forward to watching a movie and decided to make a cup of tea before he settled down.
His flat was the entire second floor of a substantial converted house in Wimbledon. From the outside the building looked regal with double bays and stucco detailing. The story was very different on the inside. With the exception of the bedrooms there was no carpet on the floors. Most of the walls were white, the others shocking primary colours. The kitchen-diner was airy and open, this feeling aided by the expansive windows and the glass-like finish to the white kitchen units. The dining table and chairs were highly stylized and the whole room looked like a design study from an expensive kitchen brochure.
The whole of Sills’ home looked modern, stylish and uncomfortable. While the kettle boiled he gazed out of the window and through the raindrops as they collected on the other side of the glass panes. It was not a vigorous spring shower dousing his sacred Sunday afternoon, more a lazy drizzle intent on hanging around for the rest of the day. The familiar drone of the kettle heating up and the gentle thrum of the light rain against the glass conspired to send Michael Sills off into a hypnotic trance. He had heard that meditators spent hours trying to reach that state, trying to control their brainwaves in order to cleanse their minds and touch their souls. He had achieved it by making tea.
The kettle clicked itself off as the water boiled, but Sills could not break his stare. He could not take his eyes off the garden. No longer was he paused in a reverie. Instead he was starting to feel worried. And then he felt his worry grow and grow into dread and genuine fear. Standing in the communal back garden was a tall man wearing heavy boots, black jeans and a builder’s jacket – a donkey jacket as he recalled, complete with shiny material at the shoulders. The man’s head was covered with a small woollen cap that looked like a shrunken beanie. His face was clearly visible still. Pale, gaunt and unemotional, the face was ageless. With unblinking eyes the man stared at Sills, all the while his pouting lips and sullen face getting wetter in the struggling rain.
Sills felt his mouth go dry, the blood seemed to drop from his head to his stomach and he succumbed to an instantaneous cold sweat. He did not breathe. A synthesised noise set his heart racing and he panicked. Sills looked all around the room all at once and feared every item around him.
He flicked his head back to refocus on the man in the garden, hoping against hope that he wasn’t walking towards the house. The intruder was gone.
What was that noise? Sills’ panic thickened the air around him and he struggled to move towards the mobile phone lying on the dining table, its ringing amplified by glass and chrome. By the time he reached it he was trembling and out of breath. He fumbled as he tried to unlock the phone’s screen with a swipe.
‘Good afternoon, Michael. And how are we this fine Sunday afternoon?’ Kyle Andrews awaited a response but none came. ‘OK. This dreary Sunday afternoon, then? I’ve called at an inconvenient time, haven’t I?’
‘Yes, Kyle. I mean no. Not at all. I was just…’
‘Ok. Look, I don’t want to take up too much of your time so I’ll come straight out with it. I’ve settled on a name for the show and I need you to come to a meeting tomorrow. I know its short notice but I need you there. OK?’ Sills agreed and Andrews told him the time and venue of the meeting. ‘And don’t be late.’
As soon as the call ended Sills rushed to the window to see if the intruder had returned. All he saw was his garden in bloom and the rain.
To Be Continued…
So, what are your thoughts on the story so far. Control and manipulation are two of the predominant themes in this book, but who do you think is really controlling events? Who is your favourite character so far? And is everyone quite what they seem?
You can be a part of the conversation by following my Facebook Page . I look forward to seeing you there.
Chapter Seventeen to be published next week.
Very best wishes,
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