booksandstories.com

June 2003 Review

Web Page Progress

Those of you who care to visit will have noticed a few little changes to the site. One of these changes was the addition of a bit of sound to accompany the opening book buttons. There are actually two sounds, one when they open, and another, much fainter one when they close. I've chosen sounds with such low presence for a reason. I spent a lot of time thinking about this change. Would the sound be too obtrusive? Would it eventually annoy rather than delight? Well, you let me know. If you think they are annoying, I'll take them off again. Also, when the page loads you might get an "active script" warning if your security is set higher than normal. I do anyway. One for each sound and another when you activate them for the first time. Is this annoying? Again, let me know. If you are wondering what I'm talking about it is because these sounds have run for a while on my main US site, but they are now only available on the UK version of the site.

UK version you ask? What UK version?

Be patient and I will explain.

I have set up an additional duplicate site in the UK so that you can still read my stories if my main site in the US has any technical problems. It's exactly the same apart from the Order Page and pay chapter files which remain on the US servers only. The open and closing book button noises are now only on this duplicate site so you can chose which version you prefer. The duplicate site can be accessed at readstoriesonline.com.

With music on the mind I have added some music pages to the site. In each case the music is associated with one of my stories. The links to these music pages can be found under the appropriate story on the List Page. At the moment they contain lyrics only. I had hoped to be able to play the actual music, but I haven't got any MP3's. Although I do possess the actual tracks as WMA files, they would take forever to load. Never mind. If I solve the problem, I'll let you know.

Another little change is the addition of a forum for you to post comments or questions or anything about the site. As it's new there maybe problems. If there are any, please let me know. I will keep an eye on the forum and see how well it gets used. I will review its continuence in a month or two. There has also been a few wording changes to some of the pages. This is just prettying up. And I have given up my counter from TheCounter.com. This is because they are going to scrub all their free counters later in the year. I just thought I would jump before I was pushed. On the List Page is a new counter from the same people that gave me the forum. They are called freewebware.com. and they also do guestbooks as well as counters and forums.

Letters

Mandy and I exchanged a few more emails in May, some to do with the addition of the forum and a few more related to the addition of another ten chapters of “The Friendly Ambassador” on the List Page. So it wasn't long before I received these two emails:

Dear DG,

I'm reading “The Friendly Ambassador”, and so far it's verry verry good. I think that a forum is a cool idea, I would really like to talk to other people and hear what they thought. Great Idea!

Sincerely,

Mandy

This was followed by another email about “The Friendly Ambassador” only a few days later:

Dear DG,

It was soo good, I can't wait until you finish the rest! After the whole story is finished I'll bombard you with questions. But I really want to know how the order events occur overall. Because I think it was in “The Tale Of The Comet” that you explained a little how the past is really our future because of the portals, and that earth was a colony before. How does Christianity fit into that and how did the Klysanthians come to believe in that? Here I am talking like these are real people, but it's just interesting because I feel like I'm reading ancient mythology. Anyways, can't wait until the pay chapters.

And by the way I really liked this month's Short Story, “A Fine Woman”, I am now also hooked and can't wait till July.

Sincerely,

Mandy

Ah! The clues are all there! Like I have said before, I know I will probably have to review some of the stories I wrote earlier for continuity and other things, but I have already placed the appropriate links in relation to the use of the Ring Network Portal or Window in “The Lost Girls”, “The Return Of The Sixpack”, and “The Tale Of The Comet”. These at least are correct and do explain the order of events. The fun is working each of them out when you find them, as its only when you know them all that it becomes clear. Some answers are still to be revealed in “The Friendly Ambassador”, like the source of the Klysanthian's Christianity, so when it is finished I will let you know. Then you can start listing those questions. Anyway, I'm glad you are having fun. As it happens I'm enjoying writing “A Fine Woman” far more than I am enjoying writing “The Curfew”. As a result I have a few installments done in advance. Pity I can't dump “The Curfew” which is holding them up. But waiting is half the fun, isn't it?

Writing Progress

“The Friendly Ambassador” lumbers on slowly. For some reason I have been a little disenchanted with creative writing this month. I think it is because I have spent so long on this particular story. That may also be the reason why I have surged on somewhat with both “A Fine Woman” and “The Curfew”. I think its the change of scene and characters. It's also probably due to the fact that I have reached that tricky stage in “The Friendly Ambassador” where some well established characters get it in the neck, so to speak.

I've always found it difficult to kill my characters on the page. I tend to like them, so even when I know well in advance that they are going to get it, doing it is a different thing. Usually it happens at the end of a story, where the villain meets his or her end. It's not so bad then, because it's the end of the story. But I find it harder when they go early on. And I can't always be as explicitly violent as I set out to be when I plot the story. That's one of the reasons why I'm writing “The Curfew”. It's good practise being really horrible and explicit (I have been giving you enough warnings, so no excuses for being shocked at the end), but I still don't like it.

Two typical cases in point are Hai-Fam and Bey-Jai in “The Tale Of The Comet”. Both meet their end along with several other characters, but it happens in the middle of the story rather than at the end. Also, both characters have featured in earlier stories, and Hai-Fam is actually in three stories. When I originally killed Hai-Fam it was slow and tortuous. But I never felt comfortable with it, so I changed it to the current much quicker and cleaner version you can read now. Bey-Jai was a different matter altogether. When I started “The Tale Of The Comet” she wasn't going to be so prominent, but after I had finished it I decided she had been rather wasted. I wrote “The Lost Girls” and “The Return Of The Sixpack” after that, and in the latter story the stage is set for Bey-Jai's return in “The Sullenfeld Oracle”, a story which I already have pretty much mapped out in my mind. It will sort of tie up a few loose ends and answer some unanswered questions such as the meaning behind the rather interesting reference to “the ancient lands of the Demotharacs”. And if you know what I'm talking about your name is probably Mandy.

The Short Story Serial continues this month with “The Curfew: Part III”. As usual “A Fine Woman: Part I” has been added to the List Page. I am going to continue to alternate these stories, so next month its “A Fine Woman: Part II” with “The Curfew: Part IV” following in August. Clear as mud isn't it?

Oh, before I forget. I have added a couple of links to Anxious Persephone Studios on the List Page because I think her cartoon “Unemployment Girl” is marvellous, and her ongoing story “Say It Out Loud” is also pretty relevant from “The Look Of Love” point of view. I hope you decide to take a look at both items and that you enjoy them both.

Well, that's another Review done. Oh, dear, that means it's back to “The Friendly Ambassador”. Now where was I...?

June's Short Story: The Curfew: Part III

Michelle washed and changed as soon as she got home and her uniform was quickly replaced with a black sleeveless top and faded blue jeans. The top had narrow straps and was quite low at the front and back. The jeans were tight and slightly fared at the bottom. The arrangement left a lot of her chest and shoulders bare. The short top also allowed a tantalising glimpse of her lower abdomen above the jeans. Michelle pulled her jeans a little higher, closing the gap slightly as she examined the finished effect in the full-length mirror on her wardrobe door. She leaned forward and looked at her cleavage.

“Hmm.”

She could easily pass for eighteen. Twenty even. Why did uniforms make you look so young? Straightening up she next reached up to raise her blonde hair away from her shoulders in a pretend hairdo and turned one way and the other, flashing her blue eyes as she stared at her reflection.

“Up or down?”

Either way it was all very attractive, especially when her top rode up and exposed her stomach like that. She had a good shape and good height, and her face was nicely proportioned. Her skin was good too, even with the slight hint of freckles. Wearing her hair up made her look a bit older, and it showed more of her face, but down had the best overall affect.

“Down, I think.”

She let her hair fall back into place and lowered her hands. Yes, it was all very pleasing, but there was something missing. She looked down at her bare feet in the mirror. She flexed her toes. They were painted light blue, but that wasn’t the problem.

“Shoes.”

Hurrying back to her bed, Michelle sat down and picked up one of her trainers and a silver and backless high-heeled shoe. She held them together for a moment in comparison.

“Nah!”

She put down the shoe and picked up another high-heeled shoe. This time it was black. She held it up next to the trainer again and considered them for a moment.

“Yes.”

She put down the trainer and recovered the other black high-heeled shoe and began to slip them on. It was then that her mother called up to her.

“Are you ready, Michelle? You do remember that your dad is coming home early so that he can pick you up?”

“Yes, mum!”

Michelle got up from the bed and paused in front of the mirror again for a final review. Yes, that was much better. Harris was going to be sick when she dumped him.

“Coming, mum!”

-o-

Sarah sat opposite her mother at the kitchen table. She had also changed out of her uniform and was now wearing a similar pair of jeans to Michelle. Her tee shirt was red and more conservative. It showed off less of her chest and shoulders. And her light brown hair was now in a long ponytail. She put down the sandwich she was eating and looked up at her mum.

“Would you mind if I stopped over at Shell’s for one night this weekend?”

“You’ll have to ask your father. You know how he worries about that sort of thing.”

Sarah picked up her sandwich and took another bite. She knew what that answer meant. It was her mother’s code for ‘not bloody likely’.

Sarah’s mother shared her daughter’s brown eyes. That she might have also shared her need for fun and excitement in her youth was tempered by the current change in the law. She sighed when she saw the sulky expression form on her young daughter’s face.

“We don’t like to be too strict with you, you know that. But we would worry a lot if you were at someone else’s house, especially during the Curfew hours. We wouldn’t be able to stand it. Your father would probably camp outside their house.”

If her last remark was an attempt to make Sarah laugh it didn’t work.

“But Shell’s mum and dad are alright. You can trust them.”

“I know. But accidents can happen. Especially to a girl.”

Sarah could sense the lecture coming. “Oh, mum!”

“Never mind, ‘Oh, mum’. It’s the truth. Don’t let the politeness of people out of the Curfew hours blind you to what might be going through their minds when it gets dark. You’re a girl. They’ll want you. And if they can they’ll hurt you and take advantage of you. You have to be careful.”

“I will be careful. Dad can take me and bring me back the next day.”

“Why doesn’t Shell come and stay with us again?”

“Because I want to go and stay with her.”

“But it will be the same thing.”

“No it won’t.”

“Why not? What’s the difference?”

Sarah slumped back in her chair. “It’s just that you keep popping in all the time, as if you think we might be doing something.”

Her mother laughed then. She put her hand over her mouth and just laughed. Sarah looked at her in embarrassment.

“What’s so funny?”

“Nothing!” her mother squeezed out as she slowly regained control. “It’s just that it never crossed my mind, not at all, never!”

“Oh, great! So that’s supposed to make me feel better?”

Her mother got up and went around the table to her. She caressed her hair and hugged and kissed her. Sarah just wriggled in more embarrassment.

“Oh, mum!”

“You are a silly thing!” her mother told her. “We keep popping in to see that you are both alright, that’s all. You forget that Shell is our responsibility while she is here with us. Just think what would happen if she went out or anything.”

“But she wouldn’t do that!”

“I know, but we have to be careful.”

It was the usual reason her parents gave for spoiling her fun. After the usual spirited resistance Sarah gave up just as usual.

“I’ll ask Shell if she can come over. I’ll phone her in a minute.”

-o-

“They only love you, Sarah,” Michelle said over the phone. She was sat sprawled on the sofa waiting for her dad to come home.

“What and your parents don’t?” Sarah replied. She was lying on her stomach on her bed, her heels waving about in the air behind her.

“Of course they do. You should hear the lectures I get before I even get into the hall. And there’s that bloody tether to wear. I hate it.”

“At least they let you out. I’ve never been out, Shell. Never. I don’t even think I have a tether.”

“So who’s that pain in the arse I see at school everyday?”

“I don’t mean during the day -you know what I mean!”

Michelle laughed. “I know. But there’s nothing fancy about being out later. It’s just dark. And spooky.”

Sarah’s legs stopped waving about. “Spooky?”

Michelle smiled when she heard the sudden interest in her friend’s voice. “Yeah, spooky. It’s not like when we’re out during the day. Even at weekends people treat you okay. But when it’s in the Curfew hours they sort of look at you differently. Especially the men.”

Sarah turned over and sat up on her bed. “How?”

“It’s like they’re weighing you up, you know? Trying to figure out whether you’re older or younger than you are. I suppose they want you to be younger, that way they can get you. And when they see the tether they sort of look upset but eager at the same time. They know that you’re under age but they can’t get you. I suppose it must disappoint them more than if you’re older. It’s worse in the car because they can’t see the tether, so they don’t know whether you’re in someone’s custody or not. My dad got followed for ages once. He finally stopped the car and got out. He got me out and we stood on the pavement with the tether on show between us. My dad just kept his hands on his hips and stared at the other car. It had also stopped a little way behind us.”

By now Sarah was on her knees on her bed clutching a pillow to her chest. “What happened?”

“It just drove away.”

Sarah had a panic attack. “Oh, Shell! Are you sure about going to see Harris tonight? Go at the weekend! Go during the day! Tell him over the phone! Don’t go out! Please, Shell!”

Michelle smiled as she hung on to the phone. “You sound like my mum!”

“But I never knew it was like that! I told you, I’ve never been out! Stay at home!”

“Don’t worry, Sarah! Dad is going to take me there as well as bring me back. Since that time we were followed in the car I haven’t been out during the Curfew hours and I won’t be tonight. Dad will have me back home before the clock chimes. Don’t you worry.”

“Are you sure?”

“Of course. My dad loves me like your dad loves you. He’ll probably park across the road and wait until it’s time to pick me up. The only time he gets really worried is when I stay with you. Did you know that he phones up your mum and dad and asks them to check on me? Sometimes three or four times a night?”

Sarah went bright red and stuck the pillow over her face. “No, I didn’t,” was her muffled reply.

Michelle took the phone from her ear and looked at it before putting it back in place. “Did you drop the phone?” she asked.

Sarah threw the pillow onto the bed and blew her hair from her mouth. “No, I was just having a heart attack.”

“Why?”

“I was going to ask you if you wanted to come and stay over this weekend. Now I’m not so sure.”

Michelle laughed. “My dad’s got back. I can hear him talking to my mum in the hall. I’ll ask him and ring you when I get back. I’ll have to go now.”

“Make sure you do ring me as soon as you get back! ‘Cos at five passed seven I’m calling the cops!”

Michelle laughed even more. “You are my mum! See you, softie!”

The connection was broken and Sarah was left holding the phone in her hands. In the sudden silence she felt cold and alone. The hours were going to take ages to pass, and every moment was going to be torture. Was this how it felt to be a parent? She was being daft, and she knew it. Michelle wasn’t her daughter, she was just a friend, but Sarah couldn’t help feeling scared for her. And she wouldn’t feel happy until she knew that Michelle was back home safe and well.

-o-

It was a metal chain with a handcuff at each end that was covered in a bright luminous yellow plastic. It reflected light in the dark. There was a code number on the plastic. It was written in bold figures on both sides, two letters, six numbers and another letter. It was her National Insurance number.

Michelle hated the tether. It seemed to personify all that was bad about the Curfew, being a teenager and growing up. It told everyone straight away that you were under age. It told them that you were a child. All the effort of getting dressed and looking good was instantly thrown to the wind. It was like having a large placard hung around your neck: Here is a victim. Kill her.

Her mother had kissed her on the cheek and handed the tether to her as she went out the door. Now it sat on the shelf in front of her in the car.

“Do I have to wear it, dad?” Michelle said as she put on her seatbelt.

“Not this journey,” her father replied as he started the car. “It’s pretty early and its still light. But on the way back you will have to wear it.”

“But no one can see it when I’m in the car!” Michelle protested.

“Then you’ve nothing to worry about, have you?”

Michelle threw it on the back seat. “I hate it!”

“You’ll only have to suffer it for a couple of more years.”

Michelle developed an evil look. “On my eighteenth birthday I’m going to burn it!”

“Aw, your mother and I wanted to save it.”

She looked across at him in surprise. “What?”

“As a memento, you know. Like your first dummy, or romper suit.”

“But the tether?”

“It’s part of growing up.”

“I’m going to burn it!” she insisted firmly.

“We’ll hide it.”

“I’ll find it!”

“Like you were able to find your Christmas presents?”

Michelle folded her arms in a sulk as her father drove the car along. “Can I stay over at Sarah’s house this weekend?”

“I’ll think about it.”

“I’ll promise to search less hard for the tether when I’m eighteen.”

He smiled. “I said I’d think about it.”

“Rotter!”

-o-

Harris was extremely pleased to see her. Michelle could tell by the look on his face that he very much liked what he saw. Well she did look good. She even looked older than him. And while their parents were saying their hellos and goodbyes, Harris just stared at her like a cat looking at a mouse.

What plans have you got tonight? Michelle wondered. Pity they aren’t going to come true.

Her father finally left and Harris ushered her up to his bedroom so that they could be alone together. As soon as the door was closed he grabbed her.

“Gosh, Shell! You look great!” he said as his hands found their way under her top.

Michelle squirmed as he rubbed and squeezed her abdomen and midriff. “Take it easy, Harris! You’ll wear my skin out!”

“I can’t help it, you’re gorgeous!” He ran his hands up her back and pulled her close. “How about a kiss?”

She leaned back in his arms and held up a finger before his nose. “Kissing and cuddling is fine. But that’s as far as it goes; so don’t get carried away. Alright?”

He looked at her intently and smiled. “Alright. But we can have a bit of fun can’t we?”

She nodded and leaned closer. The kiss developed into a very long and rather passionate affair that only stopped when Harris tried to get his hands around to the front under her top. Michelle instantly retrieved his hand and pulled it out from under her top.

“Weren’t there some CDs you were going to play for me?” she asked breathlessly.

“Yeah,” he said rather regretfully. “Yeah, there was.”

Music played and time passed. Michelle and Harris talked and laughed. She kicked off her heels and he tickled her and she fought him off. It was playful and innocent. But the playing always had a sexual edge. They kissed and held each other often, and each time they went just that little bit further. And soon, as they lay on the bed kissing and fondling, Harris moved his hand under her top once more. At first his hand lay on her stomach, but slowly it moved higher. He thought she would stop him as before, but this time she didn’t. He almost hesitated because of this, but then his hand moved slowly up until it closed over her right breast. The kissing grew more intense after that as Harris squeezed and tickled her. Michelle arched her back as she lay on the bed and Harris moved his hand down to her jeans, his fingers going underneath.

Michelle instantly wriggled and broke free, sitting up quickly on the side of the bed. “I think we better stop,” she said brushing her hair back. She was panting and felt rather hot.

Harris was also out of breath and a bit heated. He was also disappointed as he rolled onto his back. “Aw, come on, Shell! We’re going to do it sooner or later.”

Michelle gave him a disdainful look. “No, we’re not.”

He was upset by her reply. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“It means I like you, Harris, but if I go that far it has to be part of something permanent. And somehow I don’t think that will be with you.”

“Who says?”

“Steff, Melissa, Emma, Gina, should I go on?”

Harris slid off the side of the bed and slumped down on the floor in a huff. “Yeah, alright, I get the message.” He suddenly turned and looked up at her. “Who grassed me up then?”

“Girls talk. And you’ve left a lot with something to say.”

“They’re only jealous!”

“All of them? At the same time? With the same sad story to tell?”

He folded his arms. “They weren’t the same. I really like you.”

Michelle flapped her top to create a breeze on her chest. “I gathered that.”

Harris looked at her bare feet on the floor with her blue painted toenails. He hooked his arm around her leg and put his hand on her foot. He ran his hand up her leg, pulling her jeans up a little so he could see more of her.

“I’m going to miss you, Shell. You’ve got great legs. You’ve got a great body all together. I know you aren’t wearing a bra, and I bet you’ve got tiny knickers on. Take your jeans off and show me for old times sake, will you.” He looked up at her. “Go on, Shell! Make a poor boy happy!”

Michelle leaned forward on the bed and moved her head closer to his.

“Only in your wildest dreams,” she whispered.

-o-

When they heard her father arrive Harris developed a rather sad demeanour. It meant the end of his attempts to persuade Michelle to remove any of her clothing. Not that that was his only pastime while they were together. Another heavy kissing session had resulted in more groping but the same end result. Michelle had been willing to play, but only up to a limit. Harris had been forced to admit defeat, but at least he enjoyed his failure as far as he could.

“That’s it, then,” he said in resignation.

“You make it sound like your execution,” Michelle said as she put on her shoes.

“Well, it is, isn’t it? After tonight, its over.”

She looked at him as she sat on the edge of his bed. He was sat on the floor next to his CD player and video. He switched them both off. Littered around him were mugs of half finished coffee, several CD’s, videos and their boxes, three dirty plates and an assortment of empty crisp packets. They had eaten, drank, watched and listened to a lot of things and yet Michelle only remembered the more intimate moments.

“I’ve enjoyed tonight,” she remarked as she stood up. “It’s been fun.”

Harris scrambled to his feet and came over to her. He could hear his mother on the stairs coming up to get them and he didn’t want to waste these last few seconds. He placed his hands on Michelle’s shoulders and stood as close to her as possible.

“Don’t blow me out, Shell,” he begged as he stared into her eyes. “I know I’m a bit of a pratt with girls but so is every lad my age. I like you. I feel different with you. I want to be with you. Give me a chance. All I ask is that you think about it, okay?”

Michelle stared back into his eyes. They seemed so honest, so sensitive. Maybe he wasn’t as bad as she thought. Maybe she should have done it with him tonight. It would have been easy to just let it happen. But there was Sarah to think about and there were all those other girlfriends Harris had known. No, it was right to wait. She had done the right thing, she had kept control, and she had made the right decisions. They had played but no more. She could always do it later. If she still wanted to after she had spoken to Sarah.

“Okay,” she said finally. “I’ll talk to you at school tomorrow.”

Harris smiled and Michelle quickly added, “But I’m not promising anything.”

His smile didn’t falter, even when there was a knock at the door. His mother’s voice could then be heard.

“You two better be decent, because Michelle’s father is here to take her home!”

Going downstairs with Harris and his mother was a blur of confusing, sensual and satisfied thoughts for Michelle that ended abruptly when she saw her father standing at the door. He was holding her tether.

The tether. A bright luminous yellow plastic sheath over a metal chain with a handcuff at each end. It meant so much. It said so much. It shattered everything.

At this moment, after what had happened with Harris, after she had felt so in control and grown up, it felt like a stab in the heart.

The final goodbyes with Harris were lost in anger as her father clipped the tether on her wrist. Then he led her down the path like a child or a pet. A possession.

Harris stood at the door with his mother, both of them watching as Michelle sat in the car while her father unlocked the tether from his arm and then clipped it over the door handle inside. Then he closed the door and walked around and got in next to her. He put his seatbelt on and started the car. Michelle watched Harris as they drove away. He waved and Michelle waved back, but it all felt mechanical and false.

As soon as they were out of sight Michelle tugged violently several times on the tether and shouted at her father in her anger.

“Why did you have to do that? Why couldn’t you wait until we had driven away? Why, dad, why?”

Her father looked surprised by her outburst. “You know why! It’s the law!”

Michelle rattled the tether. “But it’s only ten to seven!”

“And by the time we get home it will be after eight! Don’t make a fuss, Michelle! You know it’s for your own good! Now put your seatbelt on!”

“I know it’s for my own good! I know! I know! I know! But you could have waited! You didn’t have to rub it in right in front of everyone!”

“I didn’t rub it in!”

“You did! You even brought it in with you! How could you, dad? How could you be so cruel and heartless?”

He turned to her. “Now look here young lady- ”

“Daddy!”

Michelle’s scream alerted her father to the oncoming car and he snatched at the steering wheel. It was too late. The two cars struck wing to wing almost head-on and the collision sent both cars spinning away in opposite directions. One of them rolled several times and demolished a garden wall.

The sound of tin-metal and plastic being crumpled in a car accident is a sound that is indescribable but once heard never forgotten. For an instant before it occurs there is a sudden feeling of inevitability, as if your mind is preparing you for that sound. It’s a brief moment of clarity followed by immeasurable violence, for the sound is only part of the event. And in that event bones are broken, metal and plastic stabs through flesh and muscle, glass shards scrape away skin and internal organs are forever rearranged. And it all happens in a relentless, hours long, ever lasting instant of mere seconds.

When the last bit of debris rocked slowly to a standstill, their car was upside down in the front garden of a house. It was all dented and smashed. Not a single window remained intact. The other car was in a shop window across the street. The shop’s alarm was ringing frantically. Everything else was still and silent.

Michelle was lying on her back on the grass. The door had come off and she had been thrown out. The door handle had also come off and remained attached to the tether on her arm. There was blood on her face from a gash in her forehead. Her nose was also bleeding and there was blood in her mouth that stained her teeth as she turned her head and moaned. Her jeans were torn and she had lost one shoe. Her hair was all over her face. There were bits of glass in it. And one of the straps on her top was down over one shoulder. Apart from this there was no other serious damage.

The same couldn’t be said for her father. He was still in the car, trapped behind the steering wheel, and he wasn’t moving. The remains of the two airbags hung down in tatters.

Michelle slowly began to come round. She opened her eyes weakly and saw a young man standing over her. He reached down and tugged on something and Michelle felt her arm move. It was only then that she finally became aware of her surroundings and what had happened. But it wasn’t worrying about what had happened to her father that brought the fear to her eyes. It was the fact that the man wasn’t alone. One by one more young men in jeans and tee shirts began to appear, until she could see at least five of them standing around her. They were all looking down at her with smiles on their faces. And what was worse was that the young man she had seen first was holding her tether. He also smiled at her.

“Well, well, well,” he said softly. “What a handsome little girly you are. And all out on your lonesome at five past seven.” He shook his head and tutted at her. “Tut, tut, tut, now that won’t do, will it, little girly? It won't do at all.”

End of Part III. Part IV in two months time.

Copyright © D. G. Richards 2003

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