New Location, Same Agenda
Mitchell sat on the bed of his one room flat under the arch of the old railway bridge. He lived in the only habitable property alongside several dilapidated buildings due for demolition. Rats and other vermin scurried in the lofts, heard at night from the bed below. A bed he was now sitting on staring at his hands bound by tape, covering the knuckles red and split. His face was a mish mash of bruises and cuts and his body in general had seen better days, in fact he could count on the fingers of his left hand, if he could bend the fingers on his left hand, that the last time he’d felt this bad, he’d been facing three lads from the care home at the age of ten, who had double dared him to steal Magnus Greer’s pocket watch from the tweed coat at the back of the door, while the old guy was still in the room. He’d refused of course, he liked old Greer, he didn’t however like the three lads, so they beat the hell out of him. That night, he’d run away.
In the time he’d lived rough, he’d survived on his wits, he’d stolen to get by, nothing big, nothing too much, nothing that would get him noticed, nothing until the businessman who stood with his back to him, talking into the expensive phone, hand on his hip, card still in the ATM machine. Perhaps it was a dare, true Mitchell hadn’t eaten anything substantial in a few days, and he could do with an upgrade of clothing, the ones he stood up in, were less than appealing to those around him, he could do with a bath, a shave, it was about time he looked at least somewhere near respectable, especially since he’d been seeing a girl. Lexy.
Lexington Barlow to give her full title, or Dr. Lexington Barlow to be absolutely precise, and she liked to be absolutely precise in everything she did, wasn’t much older than Mitchel herself. Although she didn’t look it. Dressed in her high class clothes, she was really out of his league, and let’s be fair, it was more like Lady and the Tramp, than Boy Meets Girl.
Mitchell was going on twenty four, Lexy was coy about her age, and with good reason to. He wanted to take her out, he couldn’t bring her back to the flat, he couldn’t show her the bed he’d slept in and not changed the sheets, correction sheet, and knowing what girls were like, even absolutely precise ones, the bloody great big hairy, scary as you like spider perched on the ceiling with the stealth action of a ninja, poised ready to leave go of the sticky residue that belonged to the last owner - who smoked, didn’t bear thinking about. No, he wanted to take her out, somewhere posh, something a little upmarket, something that didn’t have the words ‘and chips’ at the end of it. So, he had no choice really, it was either go without, or go with Lexy to somewhere that sold food without the ‘and chips’ and it would mean taking that card, and running with it. So he did.
Mitchell half expected the pounding feet of an angry businessman behind him, but he either hadn’t noticed, or he had and would deal with him in some other way, but without the card, and without knowing who the hooded person desperate to take out a ‘proper lady’ was, he was safe, for now.
It was six weeks later when the owner of the card paid him a visit, with two very large, stocky gentlemen of few words but with sausage like fingers, and hams for fists, who pummelled the hell out of him, while the businessman, a Mr. Alex Shepperton, tall, influential, very English, very determined, and with a multi million pound office complex at his disposal, wealthy, but still with priorities, and one of them was being dealt with harshly in the waste ground, a mile and a half from the ATM machine, watched.
‘I’ve spent it.’ Mitchell winced, struggling as he was to muster the breath to speak.
‘You’ve spent MY money, on what?’ Shepperton stared at the boy on the ground, in the new designer jeans, with the decorative stitching, the new trainers, broken in, a warm fleece zipped hoodie and cotton shirt, dirty from the ground. Shepperton squatted beside the boy still on his side clutching his cracked ribs and glared darkly at Mitchell.
Alex himself was not an old man, but he was older than Mitchell by a good ten years. He knew what it was like to struggle, what it was like to starve, but he’d had the good wit to do something about it. He’d gone to school, learnt a trade, begged and borrowed, did deals, did people over, stole from people, bigger people, bigger fish, because if he wanted something so badly, he quite often got it, and that was why he was much better than the boy on the ground. Alex was a survivor.
‘You have spent £5,000 of my money?’ He straightened up and nodded to the two bouncers who hauled up Mitchell and kept hold of him so that Alex could study him face to face. They were the same height, but Mitchell was lithe and athletic. At 6 feet 1, and in the right clothes, Alex could see a future for the lad, but that would come, he’d mused.
‘You’re going to pay it back, every last penny, d’ya hear me?’
Mitchell lifted his head and stared at the olive skinned man before him, hair immaculate and greased back with hair oil, something he’d remembered from the care home that old Greer had used. Alex was a city boy, wore a three piece suit, striped, pocket watch, almost looked out of his time, but his skin was soft and supple, and there wasn’t a hair out of place. He reminded Mitchell of the cartoon characters in the sci fi comic book back at the home, with the shiny black hair of the villains, the backdrop of a million dollar business behind them, and he wasn’t far wrong. This man oozed wealth, even the cologne he wore and the shirt on his back would be more than the price of a meal at Moriarty’s, where he’d taken Lexy on their first proper date.
‘How can I pay it back, I don’t have a job.’ Mitchell winced in his soft Californian accent, practiced from years of watching American tv.
‘You’ll work for me.’
‘And if I refuse.’
Alex nodded to the brute to his left, who turned to face Mitchell and landed a punch so hard that it felt as if his guts were pinned to his spine. Mitchell doubled up, the searing pain through his body, the fear of never breathing again, he was certain he could taste blood in his mouth. The brutes held on to him, even as his legs buckled, and Alex gripped his hair and yanked it back, his own face pressing up close and menacing, his white teeth showing against Mitchell’s suntanned skin.
‘I will find you, and I will break every-single-bone-in your body, is that clear?’ Alex snarled. Mitchell nodded painfully.
And that was it, the deal had been done, and now sitting in his flat, with the hairy scary ninja spider, he waited for the call from Alex.
Captain Jack Harkness glanced up towards the building on Park Street and squinted against the glare of the sunlight bouncing off the panes of glass.
‘Are you sure about this Gwen?’
‘Andy knows this bloke who is leasing office space, we’d have enough room for what we need and more besides...’ Gwen stood with her back to the Millennium Stadium building, eyes darting back and forth.
‘I don’t know Gwen.’ Jack lowered his gaze. ‘You don’t think it’s a little pretentious?’ He turned to face her, the beautiful feisty Welsh woman who had lost nothing of her fiery passion for everything Torchwood, even if it had meant living in hiding since she and Rhys had returned from the States. She looked at Jack, the man she’d walk over hot coals for, the man she believed in above all others, aside from Rhys, her long suffering husband.
Gwen raised a brow as the wind lifted her hair and cast it in front of her face.
‘Jack, we used to have a base below the water tower, this at least offers us a better outlook and windows and not to mention a very high roof for you to survey all that you own, probably.’
‘Yeah you’re probably right. So who is it I have to talk to again?’
‘Sol Evans.’ She replied stepping towards him, towards the double glass doors that led the way to reception and 17 floors of office space, switchboards, typing pools and large board rooms, all the kinds of places she’d never, ever desired to work in. And now, after deciding that the human race was still worth fighting for, even if the Rift showed little desire to open up, there was still a need for Torchwood, even if it did come from the mouth of a Sgt of the Cardiff Constabulary.
Alex Shepperton, his hands in his trouser pockets, jacket over the back of his chair, shirt sleeves down, even while the room temperature sat at just above regular and the sun beat a heavy fist against the pane he stared out from, pondered at the city below him. It had been six months since he’d had Mitchell beaten up in the disused playground the other side of the church spire that he could see to his left. A week after he’d got him a job running errands, and run them he did. Packages here and there, messages, money collections, the boy was good, he’d work because he knew the boys would break his legs, beat him till he begged for death; that’s how he trained them, the thugs were no good to him if they were lenient, that showed a weakness, and Alex was far from weak.
Alex had discovered that the boy Mitchell was good with computers and put him to work on the security of his office, someone within his company was trading secrets and he wanted to find the leak. He had his suspicions, he’d had them for a while, but he had no proof, until now. It wasn’t unknown that Alex would buy anything if the deal was good enough, or if he wanted something that wasn’t for sale, he’d make a few enquiries and do a little research on the owner, pull a few strings, and take from the person while they were being carted off to prison, for the money laundering services he’d despatched Mitchell to deliver, or the illegal immigrants another had been using, and all the while the trophy got ever closer.
Now there was a new game, a new trophy, but the target was harder to acquire, it required much thought and it required a serious amount of careful planning. In the heart of the English countryside, in a bunker hidden from view and prying eyes, a space ship was moored by ropes and locked down in a secret facility, manned by many hundreds of soldiers. But someone had leaked information on what kind of ship it was, and in the government houses across the water, where deals of the utmost urgency were often discussed, a minister for the defence of the realm had the secret blueprint of the Arakian spaceship in his possession. The Arakian Spaceship that had crashed through Earth’s orbit and ploughed up some very expansive arable farmland in the heart of England.
Mr. Reuben Jacobs was a middle-aged man, average build, bit of a beer gut, very dedicated to his job but had one chink in his armour. Alex smiled broadly.
Mitchell pushed open the hard wood door to his flat, dropped his keys on the counter by the window and placed the polystyrene box on his bed as he slipped off his shoes, shrugged off his coat and flopped down.
‘Wolf, I have to tell you, that I really wish I hadn’t stolen that card. That man has had me working like a dog.’ He flipped open the polystyrene box and smiled at the half-eaten chicken portion and a few chips, along with a broken cigarette and flecks of ash. Mitchell picked out the cigarette and discarded it.
‘No offence by the way.’ He tossed a few chips to the wolf, which as soon as Mitchell had entered the flat, had showed an interest in the boy and watched him from beside the open kitchen cupboard. Mitchell noticed.
‘I hope you’re hungry.’ He tore the chicken bone in half, and tossed one half to the wolf who took it gratefully. Wiping the greasy hand on the bedding, Mitchell tore into the meat and ate it grateful that people nowadays bought more than they could physically eat.
Wolf ate slowly, for a wolf that is. He took his time, picking over the meat, tearing it from the bone. Then broke the chicken leg and crunched into it, sucking down the cooked marrow. It wasn’t the best meal, but he knew he’d find more when he went out after the boy was asleep. But it was good to hear him talk; good to hear about his day, given that before he worked for Alex, all he heard was the good Dr’s name and more often than he should.
Wolf had found Mitchell on the day he arrived in London. He’d known about him in the children’s home, but dogs or even wolves were not allowed in the house. But Mitchell was safe in the home, and so taking a break from the care of the boy, had gone in search of enlightenment, or in wolf terms had gone to find himself. When news of Mitchell’s break for freedom had reached his ears, he knew he couldn’t risk losing sight of his charge again and following the trail, had followed him to the big smoke.
Old man Greer, with the tweed jacket, had taught Mitchell about the wild, how to survive when there was little food, how to make safe a trap, a snare, how to get himself out of scrapes, how to fight and more importantly how to read and sense trouble, even before it arrived.
‘You have to learn the old ways Mitchell, one day, you might find them useful.’ Old Greer had told him as they walked back through the hay field, after chasing rabbits into the woods. It was an old game, to train the boy to run, to detect the sounds of the wild, taste the air and know when a storm was approaching, when the weather would change, when the boys with the sticks and stones who goaded Old Greer would come looking for Mitchell, daring him to steal. The heavy stale odour of their sweat was the first thing he detected, the first sound was their breath and the heavy pounding of their feet as their solid bodies strode towards him, threatened him with broken bones if he didn’t obey. He’d taken the beating because it calmed the rage, the rage that threatened if he didn’t control it, to rip their throats out!
With this form of training, Wolf knew that the boy could defend himself from the regular trouble a city could throw at him. However, Wolf knew that the journey ahead would spell a danger to all once Mitchell reached his twenty-fifth birthday, if Wolf could find him and protect him, before, all hell broke loose.
It was nightfall, the city lights twinkled all around below him, the faint sound of the Bay lapping the shoreline could be heard and the cool air of the Atlantic brushed his face as he stood on the roof, staring into the blackness.
Captain Jack Harkness, his coat fastened against the cold wind was deep in thought and had been for quite a few days. Something was troubling him, a feeling deep in his gut, a feeling he had forgotten something, something that was important. Unlike most things in life, Jack had lived longer than anyone else, he had lived and died and come back so many times, had loved and lost so many people, people so close that even thinking of them now, in the blackness of the night, cut deep scars in his heart. There were too many to remember, and still too many to forget. Coming back to Cardiff had been the hardest decision he’d had to make; coming back brought him closer to those he’d lost. Only one hundred and sixty miles on the motorway and he’d be in London. He inhaled deeply, then turned away, blinking the tears that blurred his vision. This was a stupid idea. This was possibly the stupidest of stupid ideas, to come back when the scars hadn’t properly healed.
But he’d promised Gwen. He’d promised to stick around and make it work. Torchwood. Jack sniffed the air and exhaled. This wasn’t good, it didn’t help, he came upstairs to clear his head, but now with the thoughts of his life flooding his memory, all he was doing was dredging over the past, a past that he couldn’t get back, a past that no longer existed. So why was he back in Cardiff, what was it about the place that called for his return?
His mobile rang snapping him from his reverie, as he brought it out of his pocket he saw Gwen’s name light up on the screen and smiled.
‘Yes Gwen?’ He turned to face the door half expecting her to be standing there.
‘Are you planning on staying up there all night Jack, only we’re experiencing a few glitches with the lights in here.’ Gwen’s Welsh voice spoke back.
‘Worth an investigation?’ He made his way to the exit door, already a keenness to discover the root cause.
‘Oh, I think so, they’re flickering down here with a rapid show of morse coding that I have never been able to decipher.’
‘I’m on my way, just whatever you do, do not engage physical contact until I get there.’
‘I wasn’t planning on it, but hurry up yeah, before I spoil their plans and find the trip switch.’
Jack took the stairs two at a time from the roof to the top floor and ran along the corridor towards the fire exit and down the next flight of stairs. As he ran along the 17th Floor corridor the hairs on the back of his neck prickled up, in fact the hair all over his body began to prickle and that faint smell that electricity gave off in a heated room full of computers and electronic equipment tickled his senses. He halted and turned to where the charge seemed the strongest and hand over his holster, but not withdrawing it, walked towards the far end of the corridor, where the lights surged bright then dull and groaned as a force stronger than it could maintain was trying to come through.
‘I’ll be there shortly Gwen.’ Jack pressed his comms against his ear and heard the irritation of static through it. He removed it, sensing an overload of static through his brain that might fry him if he didn’t.
He advanced forward into the darkening corridor.
Mitchell was sleeping soundly as Big Ben chimed midnight. He had an early start in the morning; Alex wanted to see him at 8am sharp. He’d barely finished his can of soda before his eyes closed and he slumped back on the unkempt bed, the laptop switched off and at the foot of the bed. Mitchell slept in his boxers, his slim but muscular body, honed purely from the exercise he received in his everyday life, not from working out in a gym to impress anyone but himself. He slept thinking of Lexy and every so often his lips would purse as if he were about to kiss her.
Wolf watched the boy for a few hours till he was certain he was in a deep sleep, and slipped from the building, pulling the door closed behind him. Outside the flat, he no longer maintained the image of a wolf, but a tall slim, North American Indian akin to the wolf and slunk into the shadows of the night.
Lexy Barlow checked her watch and sighed. The cold night air was distinctly colder tonight than previous and she longed for the warmth of her apartment in Park Square.
Lexy was from no fixed location, she was a city girl born and bred, at least that’s what she was told. She was from rich family stock, and had a title that she could use in the right situations and circumstances. It had opened many doors for her, being a Lady but for the work she did in her everyday life, the doctor of a small practice, taking care of those less fortunate, people like Mitchell, and Hainey in the slums of the Flaggan Estate, it was worthless. What would she gain with a title of Lady?
If it hadn’t been for the charismatic gentleman in the RAF great coat who had saved her nearly twenty five years ago, her life might have been different now.
Mitchell had often asked her about her family, but she couldn’t remember them, or didn’t wish to. Her father from notes had been a naval officer and a good one at that, but something he’d seen one night that had shot across his broadside, had changed him physically and mentally. One shore leave, he murdered his wife and young son and Lexy had only survived because Torchwood had been watching and waiting for her father.
On the HMS frigate, Rothshire, an alien entity had taken over the entire crew, turning them into creatures that consumed their host and entered their lives like body snatchers, continuing their onslaught until they had completely wiped out a planet before moving on, and their armies amassing for the next onslaught. But as with most alien entities, those without full knowledge of Earth’s defences, it was the bacteria on the planet that eventually crippled them, that, and the intervention by Torchwood, but by then, Lexy’s family were dead.
She never discussed her family, it brought memories that she’d buried deep within her subconscious and there she’d rather they remained. But every so often, a piece of music, a soft aroma, a perfume or cologne would revisit her memories and bring back the nightmare.
She knew she would have to forget again soon and move on, but forgetting her past also meant forgetting her purpose, and there were some things in her life now, she didn’t want to forget about, one of those being Mitchell.
Lexy jumped as she heard a sound and studied the shadows for darker shapes.
‘You know if you are going to stalk me, you’re going to have to change that cologne.’ She half smiled.
There was a sigh and Wolf stepped from the shadows.
‘It is difficult to creep up on you Lady Barlow, without arousing some level of suspicion. And considering I’ve been festering in that hovel he calls a flat...’ Wolf remained downwind of Lexy. He was six feet in stature, strong and muscular. His eyes were dark like the wolf, his hearing as acute, and he fought like a warrior.
‘No.’ She sighed turning and facing the opposite direction walked with Wolf to where the dark shadows grew tall against the lights in the street. Cats yowled in far off roof gardens and dogs yipped behind locked doors.
‘He must surely know of his existence, after all this time?’ Wolf glanced up the street, the smell of fast food take away and coffee to go, the kebab shops and restaurants, a bounty of meals he’d normally steal from on his way home tempted his hunger.
‘Nope, not a dickie bird and believe me I’ve tried. I’ve looked up his old number and it bounces back a voice mail recording, I’ve contacted the old place but there’s not even a ringtone. Wherever our illustrious leader is, he’s not on the planet, or put it this way, we’re not on his agenda.’
‘The boy is still young, another year maybe and he will be required to pick up and take charge.’ Wolf growled, despising the man already.
‘He knows of his obligations Wolf. How is Mitchell, the last time I saw him he looked as if he’d been in a fight?’
‘Hmmph!’ Wolf scoffed. ‘He’s working for Alex Shepperton, the man who had him beaten. I would like to pay that man a visit.’
‘You know you can’t, your loyalties are with Mitchell, he must never know the truth. You go there all fists a-flying and....it’s not time...’ She smelt the Italian restaurant kitchen fans belching the rich meat aromas across the street. ‘How about some supper, I believe it is my turn.’
‘You’re the one with the money, Lady Barlow.’
‘No I’m the one with pockets.’ She smirked as Wolf shook his head. ‘Come on, Angelo’s is always good at this time of the night. Besides I have a few food parcels to collect.’
They crossed the road and up the back of the restaurant to the back door, and stepped in, while in the darkness across the street, the black shadows watched, and growled menacingly.
Jack Harkness watched as the static electricity bounced off the ceiling and walls and arced along the carpet, long static arms of electric feeling its way towards him, searching for an anchor, something to keep it static, before whatever was building in the centre of the corridor began growing, pulsating, opening. Jack had seen it before all too often, where one rift closed another would open. He’d hoped the rift would remain sealed but when was anything meant to last forever? He stepped back as the light grew brighter in the centre of the electrical charge, eking its way closer, and closer. He backed away, knowing where this would end, he’d be pinioned to the spot, the anomaly, the rift needed something to secure the safe passage of whatever was on the other side of the light. He couldn’t do that to Gwen, he couldn’t suffer the agony of coming back again knowing that another threat would tear a hole through the city and he’d just allowed it to happen. He forced himself back, back around a corner, back into a side room, an unlocked door, to a stationary cupboard. A cupboard full of metal equipment that began rattling, building up the static, staples in boxes began shuffling and rattling, breaking the cardboard housing to escape, to seek out a source, like a huge magnet drumming towards him. He had to ignore it, he had to push it to one side. Jack opened the door a crack and saw the tentacles of light reach up and along the walls like staggered legs of a giant spider. Oh god, please don’t let it be giant spiders. He strained his ears, he could hear screaming. A child’s scream, no, a woman’s scream. It grew steadily louder as the lights strobed the ceiling and walls, searching, forever searching for the anchor to hold it in place.
He closed the door as the lights surged towards him, the bright light temporally blinding him just for that minute. He blinked and saw flashes of light before his eyes. The metal filings on the shelf behind him were poised ready to lodge themselves at whatever was in the cupboard. He knew it would be him. Why could he never just hide in a linen cupboard, or anywhere that didn’t have anything that would hammer itself into him?
He heard the scream, as if it were coming through a long tunnel, pitched and desperate. It sounded terrified, as if something was giving chase, as if something was after the woman screaming, forever growing louder and closer. He chanced another look but the hallway was so bright he was shielding his eyes. The screaming boomed down the hallway till the lightning shook the entire building, so hard, Gwen felt something move six floors down.
Then darkness and the strong smell of cordite.
Jack Harkness stepped into the blackened corridor and wondered where the back-up generator was, often in these situations all the back-up lights would flood the corridors, office floors and fire escapes, he frowned. Digging into his great coat he pulled out and switched on a Maglite torch, small but with a strong glare of light it bounced circles of light across the walls one side to the other, and through the mist, the residue of the Rift, the torchlight picked up someone crouched on the ground, against a wall, huddled, holding their legs, their head bowed. A woman, he was sure, with long black hair, thread bands on her wrists, friendship bracelets. She wore a khaki coloured jacket torn in places across the shoulders and a red stain against her right arm. He ran the torch around her, scanning up and down the corridor in case he was missing something, and unclipped his pistol from the holster.
‘Hey, are you alright?’ He scanned the walls and floors again but again saw nothing. Turning the torchlight back she was still sitting head bowed against her knees but now she was crying softly. Jack took a deep breath, a short pause and crouched in front of her. ‘I’m Jack, you’re safe now.’
The dark haired young woman looked up, her eyes dark against the light, almost too dark. Jack smiled as reassuring as he could, given the circumstances.
‘Where am I?’ She enquired never taking her eyes off his.
Jack felt relieved that he’d not had to try and improvise if she didn’t understand or speak English.
‘Welcome to Torchwood.’ He smiled showing a mouthful of gleaming white teeth. ‘What’s your name?’
‘Marley Hanratty. Did it come through?’ She now glanced over Jack’s shoulder but saw nothing but darkness and the dust that danced in the torchlight.
‘Did what come through?’ Jack frowned and scanned the walls and ground again. He’d detected nothing on his vortex manipulator, it hadn’t even registered that Marley was in the building.
‘That...that reptogiganticus?’ She replied as if he should have known. Judging by Jack’s face, he didn’t. ‘We were in the forest...’ she began as Jack interrupted.
‘Where? What planet, what year?’
‘Earth stupid, this year.’ She shook her head.
‘Lady you came through the rift, a crack in space and time, if you came from Earth, then it’s likely you’re from another dimension.’ He stopped himself, as she looked at him oddly. ‘Ok. you say you were running, and you were in a forest, where was the forest, what part of...Earth are we talking?’
‘Lake District. I was there on holiday, staying by the Coniston Lake with my boyfriend Geoff, but he wanted to go fishing. We were going to the boat, he has one moored there and that’s when we heard the crashing in the forest behind us and a lot of growling. ‘
‘There were a lot of gunshots and shouting and then screaming. Geoff wanted to see what it was, then didn’t when he saw it coming through the trees towards us.’
‘What did it look like?’
‘An alligator, a large alligator but with hair, long black hair, on its back mainly. It wasn’t real, it couldn’t have been real, even its size was questionable.’
‘What happened next?’
‘We ran obviously. A bloody great big lizard comes crashing through the vegetation we were hardly taking pictures.’ She thought about that and lifted her hand into her knee pocket on the front of her trousers and pulled out her phone. It looked no different to his own or that of Gwen’s. Jack frowned again. How was this possible he asked himself, if she came through the rift, how was she still in the same time line?
She brought up her photos scanning with her thumb through a set of them. She held the phone to Jack, the large snapping mouth of the alligator there in full colour. As he clicked through the 12 or so shots, mostly blurred, obviously taken as she ran with Geoff away from the monster, one thing was certain, if she was from Earth, the beast wasn’t.
At a little after half seven in the morning, Mitchell was lingering outside Alex Shepperton’s office. He’d had little choice in the matter considering his two burly bruisers had hammered on the door till he’d opened it then had the discourteous notion to drive him to the office in his jimjams. He was now dressed in his blue jeans, white shirt and a hooded jumper. He was still half asleep and yawned loudly as he waited to be summoned. As the big hand crept towards the nine, one of the bruisers was messaged on his phone and Mitchell was frogmarched into the plush office, with leather and wood interior. On a hot day, which was often in the room, the leather sofas and wooden beading aroma was quite pungent. Mitchell stood in between the two thick set men in their Men in Black suits but without the sunglasses and studied the smart dressed slimy prick behind the desk.
Alex was busy reading through a legal document and didn’t look up till he’d finished and put his signature at the bottom. He turned over the document and looked up at the half asleep boy before him.
‘I have a job for you.’
‘I’ve already got a job.’
‘I know but this is a better job, and one I know would be suited to someone like you.’
Mitchell frowned. Most of the jobs he’d taken so far from Alex had been the kind of job anyone could do, given the opportunity. ‘What kind of job?’ He tried to read Alex’s expression, but the man was playing his cards close to his chest.
‘There’s a man by the name of Reuben Jacobs, he works for the Ministry of Defence, and he has something that I want, and I need you to get it for me.’
‘Can’t you just ask him yourself?’
‘It’s not as simple as that. What I want is sitting in an underground hangar, but the blueprint will allow me to retrieve the item from the hangar, which is where you come in.’
‘You want me to break into the hangar?’
‘Not exactly. I want you to be Reuben Jacob’s new best friend.’
‘A ministry guy and a guy like me, that’s never going to work, but like I said, that’s a job for you.’
‘No, it’s a job where you come in, as Jacobs has a thing for ‘rent boys’ and I want you to make sure you’re the one he picks for the night’s entertainment.’
Mitchell’s mouth fell open and Alex was sure he’d paled considerably at the mere thought of spending the night with a complete stranger.
‘This will wipe your debt with me completely. You do this for me and it will be the last thing you do. You defy me, and it will be the last thing you ever do...permanently.’
He watched from shadows of the larch trees five hundred yards from the red bricked wall on Kensington Walk road, where the nine young men touted their trade. They were ill prepared for the cold spell on this cold spring evening in March, where even the snowdrops were choosing to remain underground for the warmth against the harsh wintry snap. Mitchell pulled the black woollen coat tighter around his skinny frame as he remained silhouetted against the trees. It was dark on the Kensington Walk road, a familiar place for male prostitutes and more especially for this group, run by a balding man with National Health glasses perched on a straight nose of a pimp.
Colin Murphy was thirty seven and used to work as a sales rep for Harvey’s warehouse on the Kellerman line back in Derbyshire. Now he was making more money as a pimp, dealing with the rich pickings of Kensington Walk, and the ministers from the big House, with hours sitting in plush apartments while their wives and children remained somewhere in the suburbs. Colin knew of the men in the government who when their respected partners were away, would come to him for that little bit on the side, and Colin would keep the paparazzi away from their door, he would keep the secrets, for that extra bit of cash to tide him over.
Nobody had batted an eye when a young man had washed up in the Thames with his throat cut, nobody had missed him, but Colin. Colin’s boys were young, runaways, homeless and desperate. He was their Fagin, who kept them housed in a flat, to turn tricks when he needed the money, when he was called upon to service the government officials.
Mitchell blew out steam on the air. The temperature had plummeted to below freezing and the boys leaning against the brick wall, were feeling it. He wondered if he could even begin to know what they were thinking, as they stood waiting for a car, to offer them warmth, food, a bed, for a few hours of pleasuring, to allow the minister to have his filthy way before discarding them as home owners discard rubbish to a wheelie bin.
He wondered if any one missed the boy pulled from the Thames on the Monday afternoon after he was spotted floating in the water near a river barge.
A black sedan pulled up alongside Colin, the short haired youth and he leaned into the window, his skinny jeans pulling tight around the arse, the pert arse Mitchell noted. There seemed quite a discussion, perhaps negotiating his fees, then he stood up and turned to the boys, pushing several notes into his pocket. A young blond haired youth stepped towards the car and climbed in, within minutes, the vehicle pulled away and Colin looked for another car and another sale.
Mitchell slipped from beside the wall over to Colin now pulling out his money to count again. He smiled gleefully almost and as Mitchell neared, could make out it was in the region of £200.
‘Not bad, how much would you get for me?’
Colin shot Mitchell a look, gripping tight hold of his money; he stuffed it back, once folded over into his pocket and weighed up the tall youth with a soft American accent before him.
‘Depends what you’re looking for, if it’s a quick shag and a fumble, then you’re better at the club, here you’ve got to put your wares on show, not hide them behind a jacket.’
‘I need a man.’
The short haired youth scoffed. ‘Don’t we all, else we wouldn’t be standing out here freezing our balls off hun.’
Mitchell produced a photograph from his pocket of Reuben Jacobs, with his arms around his two daughters and a wife, smiling for the cameras, in the latest newspaper article about who was looking after Britain’s interests. Colin took the photo and glanced back at Mitchell.
‘Why the interest?’ He narrowed his eyes at Mitchell before returning the photo. ‘You’re not police are ya?’
He paused, thinking of something lame, other than the fact he wanted to obtain some secrets from the man with the finger on the pulse of the most powerful weapon known to man and sitting somewhere in a hangar under UK defence protocols.
He turned on his charm offensive. ‘He’s got something I want.’ He shrugged forcing a smile, his voice upping a tempo that surprised even him. He saw another car pull up and another youth was summoned over.
‘Hold that thought hun I’ll be right back.’
Colin Murphy sent three more boys on their way before he returned to talk with Mitchell, by which time a squad car was seen driving towards them, and slipping an arm around Mitchell’s waist he walked with him casually around a corner out of sight. They flattened themselves against the wall waiting for the squad car to leave, it was taking its time.
‘Fuck off, go on, nothing to see.’ Colin whispered loudly over Mitchell’s shoulder.
Along the road Mitchell made out another car, the one he’d arrived in, the one containing Alex Shepperton and his two colleagues. They needed confirmation that the deal was in the bag before they were even considering driving off. Mitchell turned to Colin pushing him further back along the alley way that ran at the back of the wall. He pressed his hand against Colin’s chest and stared hard into his brown eyes. He pulled a money clip from his back pocket and waved it at Colin.
‘You get me with the guy in the black sedan and I’ll give you £500.’
Colin stared at the money clip then back to Mitchell.
‘If you’ve got that kind of money why do you need me?’
‘I was told that you were the man with the contacts, now can you get me in or not?’
Colin reached a hand towards the money clip and nodded. Before Mitchell let go, he left Colin with a promise.
‘If you screw this up for me I’ll kill you!’
It was a few hours after midnight the following day before the black sedan cruised the streets looking for another male. Mitchell was ready for them. He’d spent the last few hours going over how to stand, how to dress and he had to lose the jacket. It was a bitterly cold night and he wished he were back in his flat, eating another left over meal from another bin or wall, swearing at the inane excuse for tv viewing on the laptop before falling into the unmade bed next to the night before pizza, until he was ready for another call. It was how his life worked.
He was owned by Alex, and he would be forever owned by the man until he’d repaid his debt. Alex would call with a job, he’d go undercover, get the job done and get out.
Mitchell was good with numbers, he had a photographic memory, Alex instantly had him working on every security system within his company, and within a month, his company had every known firewall activated protecting the money laundering business from ever being detected by the police and any other organisation with an interest in Shepperton’s activities.
Colin could feel the £500 in his pocket. He had to sell Mitchell. Mitchell shivered beside the wall, his jeans were loosely hanging from his hips, a t-shirt given to him from Colin from a tattered over perfumed bag on the floor that portrayed everything Mitchell wasn’t had been pulled over his head. It was half a t-shirt. He felt stupid, ridiculous, he began to wonder why he was doing this, why couldn’t he be hacking a financial building, a bank, jacking a car, anything but portraying himself as a tart in tight fitting clothing that he’d never been seen dead in. He smiled demurely at the driver and walked over in a less than convincing mince, giving that idea up the closer he reached the car. He saw the Minister, his shirt unbuttoned at the top, the tie on his lap, obviously for something else Mitchell thought. He was breathing heavily, perhaps from over stimulation; there was a lot on offer tonight.
It felt humiliating as Colin presented him to the Minister as if he were conducting a market stall, selling off a piece of meat, or perhaps that was what he was. Meat. The door opened to the car, Colin had his money. Mitchell climbed in, his jacket dumped on the floor and closed the door behind him. He sat nervously, unsure whether he was meant to fawn all over the man in the car or wait till they arrived in the flat.
The blackout window wound to the top and no words were spoken between both men till the car pulled up outside a large Georgian building that seemed to take up the whole street. Mitchell could see the Houses of Parliament standing tall and majestic across the water, like an old battleship, with Big Ben holding steady.
The door was opened for him and he climbed out, clutching his coat and wishing he could pull it on. He was led inside and up the stairs where the rooms were large and open plan and warm. The furniture that graced the rooms didn’t look as if they belonged to the man huffing and puffing behind him, so Mitchell deduced that the apartment was rented for as long as the minister remained in office.
He looked to the minister who now poured himself a drink to calm himself before looking at the young man in his room.
‘Don’t just stand there, let me see you.’
Mitchell hesitated and dropped the jacket by his feet. He pulled the short t-shirt over his head revealing the muscular rippled chest and trimmed body. He let the t-shirt drop to the ground. The minister seemed impressed but he wanted to see more, so Mitchell stripped till he was standing in his stocking feet. The minister smiled, knocked back his whisky, and led Mitchell to the bedroom.
Mitchell lay exhausted beside the now snoring minister and stared up at the ceiling. The patterned ceiling rose with its gilt gold edging seemed out of place in a room where sex seemed more prevalent than a married man with two children. He turned his head, the old boy was out for the count, and it had to be said, that he’d given as much as he received. Mitchell sat up and quietly left Reuben sleeping. Time to explore!
The flat was like a bachelor’s pad or a single man’s domain. Although two guest rooms and the en suite room, it was evident that at some point, this place belonged to a rich family man with money in the city. He wondered what Alex’s place would be like. He’d never met him at his own home, always in dank warehouses or his car, or his office, seated beside two heavies with bald heads and a thick neck that gave way that they really worked out, mostly on people rather than boxing props.
The kitchen was separate from the lounge and dining room, it was a small galley in comparison to the other rooms, and even the bathroom was larger.
He listened out again to hear the snoring continue and returned to the lounge and pulled on his boxers from the night before and began to search through every drawer he could find. He hadn’t heard the snoring cease, or the minister awaken only to find the young man no longer sleeping beside him, he hadn’t heard him step into the room, nor watch him rifle the drawers until he heard him speak.
‘What do you think you’re doing?’
Mitchell froze then straightened up.
‘My back is a little sore after last night, I was looking for painkillers.’ He maintained eye contact. ‘Only I can’t find any.’
‘Not surprising, they’re in the kitchen, second drawer on the left.’
‘That’s probably why I couldn’t find any.’ He paused awkwardly before making his way to the kitchen and stared at the row of drawers leading to the sink. He pulled open the second drawer on the left and found an unopened packet of Anadin and snapped two from their blister pack.
‘Glasses, where do you keep those?’ He was already opening cupboards as he called, then yelled back. ‘Don’t worry, found them.’
Reuben watched the young body from the entrance to the kitchen. He was wrapped in his bathrobe that hung at the back of his bedroom door.
‘I have to go to work soon; my driver will take you wherever you need to go.’
Mitchell turned to face him, the tumbler empty, the water that missed his mouth dribbling down his chin. He wiped it with the back of his hand.
‘Ok.’ He wasn’t sure of the correct procedures as far as prostitutes went these days, if at all. The last time he’d spent the night with a girl he’d never offered to take her home, she’d usually left before he’d awoken.
Reuben stepped towards Mitchell as he placed the glass on the counter. He placed his hand against the young man’s belly, slipping his fingers inside his boxers and inhaled deeply as he gently massaged his thumb over the tip. Mitchell closed his eyes and swallowed hard. He could feel the rush of blood surge through his manhood and had to control his urges. He opened his eyes and felt Reuben’s breath against his own and before the older man let his lips taste Mitchells, mumbled.
‘I want to see you again.’
Mitchell washed the last 24 hours from his body; he knocked back pills for a headache building in the back of his skull as he stepped from the shower and padded naked about his flat. The wolf that lay by the un-made bed seemed to shake its head in disgust. Mitchell frowned.
‘If you’d had your dick where mine has been all night you’d want to air it too. Thanks for tidying up by the way, while I was out, and doing the shopping, paying the rent.’ He sighed sarcastically as he picked through the important envelopes that demanded money. ‘Just as well one of us covers the bills eh.’
He sat on the edge of the bed pulling the money from his jeans and stared at the extra money Reuben had given him.
‘£200 for a night’s work. God my life is one long crock of shit!!’ He sighed and threw the money down on the bed and laid back, his hands behind his head and stared up at the ninja spider. It was a large spider he hadn’t meant to keep, but it wasn’t doing any harm and he wasn’t afraid of them, but it could explain why many of the girls he’d invited back to the flat hadn’t stayed the whole night. It was somewhat of a permanent resident weaving above him. The wolf rested its muzzle against his taut belly, the whiskers tickling his skin. Mitchell smiled and brought a hand down to rub its ear.
‘There’s gotta be something else out there for me. This was not something I planned on doing when I left home. And Mr Mitchell what is it you do these days? Oh well sir, since leaving home I slipped into the underworld of pick pocketing and extortion followed by a moment of madness as a rent boy. Yeah!’
Shepperton called while Mitchell waited for the black sedan to collect him, he wanted a meet. Not taking no for an answer, he sent his heavies to call and collect him, and they drove him to the disused familiar play area.
Tennison Park was overgrown and rarely any kids played on the swings now it was littered with needles and silver wrappings. The whole area was rundown so nobody was likely to question two heavies, a business man and a young hood with his hands in his pockets keeping out the cold air.
‘Progress report, I thought I told you, always keep me informed.’ Alex spoke abruptly, his hands behind his back of the expensive tailored suit, with the stripes running evenly down his threads.
‘If I had something to report I would tell you.’ Mitchell tilted his head slightly. ‘So far he wants me back, but he doesn’t trust me enough to let me stay on my own. I need something to help him relax.’ Ideally to sleep longer Mitchell hoped.
Alex nodded to the man on his left who produced a packet of pills and held them out.
‘I’ll add that onto your debt.’
‘Aw come on that’s not fair.’
‘Count yourself lucky I’m not charging by the hour.’
Mitchell took the bag reluctantly and pushed it into his pocket.
‘Just so long as it knocks him out long enough for me to case the joint. So far I’ve found nothing that looks like a document.’
‘Look for a laptop, perhaps he keeps his documents on there.’
‘Duh! Think I didn’t look for that first?’ He backed away from the nearest heavy who advanced quickly to give Mitchell a thick ear. He ducked.
‘That document is important and I need it before someone else gets their hands on it. You said you’d get it for me by the end of the week, so far I’m not seeing any progress, and time is money Mitchell.’
‘I need the guy to trust me, you know what these people are like, you work for enough of them. First I have to gain their trust.’ He kept a watchful eye on the nearest heavy. ‘I’m going to need some money.’
Alex Shepperton burst out laughing.
‘Money? You?’ He flicked his head towards the two men who grabbed Mitchell, twisting his arms behind his back and holding him in a head lock. One of the men produced a knife and held it to Mitchell’s throat.
‘Hey get off me.’ He protested unable to shake the men off him.
‘I don’t think you understand the situation you’re in here. I don’t lend out money especially not to scum like you. If you want money, ask your minister to pay for you. The end of the week Mitchell.....or I send the boys around and double the debt.’
Mitchell couldn’t concentrate all day as he lingered about the flat waiting on the sedan. He felt his life was never going to be his own, he would either be screwed by a minister or by Alex. He stared at the state of the flat, littered with yesterday’s, no when did he have ham and cheese pizza? Thursday. He grabbed a bin bag and began tossing in crap from the floor, used paper tissues, pizza boxes, empty milk cartons and whatever had died in the bottom of the fridge. He needed to occupy his mind, to plan an escape from his life and get the hell out of London. He had just finished binning his second pile of trash when someone rang the bell. The wolf growled and glanced towards the door.
‘Don’t worry, I’ll answer it.’ He muttered snatching at the door to see a uniformed driver waiting with a car.
‘I’ll just be a second.’ He glanced back at the wolf. ‘Be good, hold my calls, don’t bring anyone back and stay the hell off the phone.’ He raised a brow and was certain that the wolf did the same, then closed the door behind him with a click.
The wolf jumped from the bed and put his front paws on the window sill and memorised the number plate.
Reuben was in the flat at the same time every day unless he was called away to a meeting. He stowed his belongings regarding his ministry work into the safe under the bed in the en suite room, aside from the laptop that held only minor files of no real importance. He was a careful man. He had never been out of an office until he’d taken the job with the Ministry to protect the planet against all known attacks, although most these days didn’t just come from the skies above, some came from their own planet. Some on their own doorstep. The Arakian space ship that had crash landed in the arable field in Hertfordshire had contained an invaluable piece of kit which in layman’s terms would mean that any trouble in the Middle East or any warring factions which threatened Britain as a whole could be eliminated with the flick of a switch and several codes. In simple terms it was similar to a nuclear warhead, only this centralised the blast to just one area, wiping it clean off the map. In the wrong hands it could be potentially lethal.
He was in the kitchen pouring a coffee when Mitchell arrived and came back through dressed in casual wear sporting a pair of slippers. Mitchell smiled. It was like visiting an old uncle, all that was missing was an open log fire and the wolfhound lying beside it.
‘Kettle’s just boiled if you’re parched.’ He sat down in the reclining chair and pushed it back so he was almost prone.
‘No, I’m good.’ He discarded his coat on the arm of another chair and licked his dry lips. ‘So... what do you want me to do tonight?’
‘Have you eaten?’
Mitchell raised a brow. ‘In what context?’
Reuben laughed. ‘I meant in terms of food. We could order in. Alistair Brody one of the ministers I work for, is organising a party, just a casual affair, I was thinking, we could call there after we’ve eaten. Is that alright?’
Mitchell pulled a face, the guy was asking him? ‘Sure why not, so we going for hog roast or cheap shit at McDonalds?’
‘Oh I like you.’ Reuben smiled patting his lap. ‘I think I like you very much.’ He slipped his hand inside Mitchell’s jeans as the lad sat down on his knee, and after popping the top button fondled dessert.
Alistair Brody was a strict authoritarian who when things were frustrating offloaded on whoever was closest. For many years, Reuben, had felt the full force of the attacks from Brody. He was good at his job, got things done, manipulated and threatened and often beat those who didn’t agree, into submission. He never failed to deliver and that was why after 35years he was still in the job, unlike many before him, and many below him.
He often arranged parties for other ministers and their partners, although never the partners they were married to. The parties often contained many grams of powder, lots of alcohol and lots of wanton men or women or both. The last man Alistair had fucked had cried like a baby and been dumped unceremoniously off London bridge. His career meant enough to him to know that paper trails would never link him to any murder this or the other side of the Thames. But it never stopped him from releasing his pent up frustration on any piece of meat that was in his office when he needed to let rip.
The parties were to check out those strong enough to handle him, and quite often he would take other people’s partners, depriving them of their £200 for the night, gorging himself on their fruits.
The party was in his Chelsea home and was already in full swing when Mitchell and Reuben entered. Music and laughter, bottles and glasses chinking, two men snorting powder across a mirror in another room, naked men and women cavorting in rooms, Mitchell had never been to a party quite like this before and as the night wore on he really hoped he’d never visit another.
As soon as they’d entered and given their coats to someone Mitchell assumed was the butler, Alistair made a beeline towards them insisting Reuben make himself comfortable at the drinks bar while he got to know Mitchell.
‘Now let’s see what you’ve got to offer me.’ His big brown eyes widened in his fat face as he pushed Mitchell against the wall in the small bedroom not in use and locked the door. The onion breath of the man and his layers of greasy flab forced Mitchell to recoil, he tried to back away but Alistair was an old hand and with one gripping Mitchell’s balls tightly he instructed Mitchell to remove his shirt while the fat minister paid attention to the candy in his hand.
He was like a man possessed, or a child loose in a candy store, unsure what to go for first. He liked the look of Mitchell, fresh meat, something he’d not had in a long time. He sucked, pawed, slammed Mitchell against the wall and fucked him hard; punching him in the small of his back if he even attempted to move till he was done. Mitchell gritted his teeth, took the punishment and prayed it would be over soon.
In the main room, Reuben glanced around only once before realising that Alistair had taken another of his escorts and the boy would never be the same again. He resigned himself to a triple scotch and drank himself into a stupor.
‘I want to see you again, in my chambers, 8 o’clock every Wednesday evening. I’ll send a car to collect you.’ He zipped up his trousers as Mitchell lay on the bed naked and sweaty from the sexual experience he hoped would never happen again. He felt dirty and violated. He’d never expected that and at that moment he wanted to kill Alistair Brody!
Reuben was stoned out of his skull on powder and scotch and it took both Mitchell and the driver to get him up the stairs to his flat. Mitchell was angry, ready to explode but the man was in no fit state to argue back.
‘I’ll stay with him till he sobers up.’ He assured the driver who at half 4 in the morning wanted nothing more than to go home and sleep. Mitchell stripped the man down to his birthday suit and put him in bed, while the old man muttered drunkenly, eyes closed till he slipped into slumber and snored loudly.
‘Yeah you sleep, so I can look for my ticket out of here.’ Mitchell growled.
He decanted some whisky into a tumbler and knocked it back it washing away some of the acrid taste from the other man’s tongue that had been down his throat. Though the more he thought about it, it forced the bile to rise up into his throat and he raced to the bathroom to throw up. After inspecting his body in the mirror, he lubed his reddened arsehole that felt worse than when he’d slipped and landed on his coccyx.
Reuben slept through the search of the flat for the documents. The laptop was the only find and after completing a search of his hard drive and program files and saved passwords that opened up his computer and details to every file on his system he found nothing.
Mitchell ran his fingers through his hair as he sat in his boxers on the recliner. He pushed the chair back so he was staring up at the ceiling with the gold gilt edging as a thought struck him. If a man like Reuben wanted to keep something secret, knowing people like Mitchell would rifle through his apartment looking for important documents, where would he hide his briefcase and files?
‘He’d keep it under his pillow or at best within the room he sleeps in.’ He pushed back the recliner and ran to the bedroom and dropped to floor level peering under the bed. He smiled when he saw the raised and screwed to the floor safe. ‘Bingo.’
The lock was digitally coded and required a six digit pin number which after several different attempts of securing 3 of the 6 numbers, scrambled the digits and reset itself. He needed an authenticator. He thumped the floor in frustration. Reuben murmured in his sleep.
‘Phone.’ Mitchell searched for it; retraced details through the laptop, the code had to be somewhere. He returned to the safe and stared at the box. Nothing would shift the lid until he’d cracked the code. And without the code, or the device with the code, he wouldn’t be able to unlock it at all. Reuben broke wind loudly.
Will Mitchell find the codes for the safe before Alex grows impatient for the document and send in someone else? Who is Marley Hanratty and why is the rift opening up once more?
Find out more in the next chapter of Mitchell, next month.