Tuesday, July 20, 2010

#30: The Best of times is Now, I promise.

If you recall, I mentioned that I was going to New York again. It was the typical cram-as-many-shows-as-humanly-possible in three days trip. I started off in Pittsburgh and stayed with my friend Kate, waiting for my friends Rach and Lyds to show up so we could journey to New York together. I know you're just dying to hear what I saw and what I thought, so without further adieu, my reviews:

I did see A Little Night music...again, since I've already written a review on it I'll make this brief: I did not care for Bernadette Peters as Desiree Armfeldt *ducks flying objects* Now before you chomp my head off, please let me defend myself. I had seen the production before it came to Broadway and it became one of my favorite Sondheim musicals, granted it wasn't as grand as it was on The Great White Way but it was still an excellent production; plus my best friend kicked ass as Desiree. When I saw Catherine Zeta-Jones she was absolutely exquisite; charming, seductive and vulnerable: everything that Desiree should be. Bernadette did an okay job, but there were several points in the show where I felt that I was just watching Bernadette Peters play...herself. Which is a huge no-no when you're acting, you're supposed to embody the character from the time the curtain comes up, to the time the curtain comes down.

Now that I've discussed that...lets move on to the other two shows I saw:

Following Night Music, I saw the revival of Promises,Promises. I have to admit, the only reason I was interested in seeing it at all was the simple fact that I had never seen Kristin Chenoweth live on stage. I was surprised by how much I liked it, granted there were some songs I was like "Okay..this seriously doesn't need to be in here." But for the most part it was a much deeper show than what I thought.
Sean Hayes really surprised me, I had a feeling he was going to be good but I was not prepared for the brilliant stage presence that he had, nor the amazing voice. He was positively brilliant, able to be absolutely hysterical and incredibly serious with ease.
Kristin was everything I expected her to be and more. She's a powerhouse in a tiny package, she is able to sing as delicate as a lullaby then, without warning, she's belting out those notes like it's nothing. She seemed to really enjoy being back in her element, in case you'd forgotten she got her start on Broadway; she's well known for playing Glinda in Wicked, but she's played several other amazing roles.
Katie Finneran was positively amazing. She was only in a few scenes in the second act but she literally stole the stage the minute the lights went up. I can see why the Tony committee thought her worthy of the Best Featured Actress Award because you literally were swept away in a sea of laughter the second she opened her mouth.

While the rest of my merry troupe went to see Memphis, some for the second and third time, I went to see La Cage Aux Folles. It has become one of my favorite shows of all time. Douglas Hodge was absolutely amazing as Albin, I don't think I have seen a performance that amazing in a long time. Kelsey Grammer was a fine choice for my first Georges, he had a great voice and amazing stage presence. I have to briefly mention an amazing talent, Elena Shaddow. She played Anne, which isn't a large role but she had such a presence that I was absolutely captivated every time she had the stage. Just the smallest gesture of her hand or the tilt of her head was absolutely charming, plus she's absolutely adorable.

I apologize if they weren't as in-depth as you thought they would be, I tend to run on and on when I review shows so I have to cut them rather short ;]

Monday, June 28, 2010

#29: F*ck you, I'm happy being poor

I often get sneers and jeers when I tell people that I'm off to New York (again) or somewhere else like Pittsburgh or Denver. People mock me, telling me I must be made of money or I must have a sugar daddy.

Its actually quite simple really. I am flack fucking broke. All of the time. I live from paycheck to paycheck every single week; I barely scrape by on my credit card bill, car insurance and other expenses. When something goes wrong with my car I have to take it to a mechanic that offers payment plans and is understanding of the fact that I am indeed another college student who will be up to their eyeballs in debt when they graduate. I can honestly say, while occasionally I will silently swear at my empty bank account, you will never ever hear me complain about my lack of money. Nor will you ever see me pass up a trip to New York, even if its for 24 hours.

Now I know that some of you are asking "Why, why on earth would you put yourself through that stress all the time? Why can't you just save your money? I'm sure that you'd by much happier without the stress!"

Again, a simple answer: I don't want to.

Don't worry, I'm going to give you more than that. The thing is, I live in a town that fits ever single stereotype you can imagine for a small, Southern(ish) town. There are people in this area that haven't been any further than 60 miles from their front door. You say "New York" and they either think of a baseball team or a place where you get mugged all the time. My father tells me two things constantly: 1.)I was born 40 years too early and 2.) I was born in the wrong location; and I believe him. I look around at these people who haven't traveled 60 miles from their doorstep, who have never seen a Broadway show or even a real skyscraper, who have never been in an area with more than a hundred people or met someone they weren't related to or knew about; and I pity them, I think how empty their lives must be. I mean sure, they're happy and yeah that lifestyle floats their boat but its definitely not for me. I've often compared my hometown and its lifestyle to quicksand: once you get stuck, you're slowly pulled under and suffocated by monotony and a provincial lifestyle. At least, that's how I feel anyway. Please don't mistake these feelings for absolute loathing; there are things about my town that I love and will miss terribly when I do finally move.

The main issue is this: I don't want to be in my 40's and 50's and look back on my life with regret. I know that I have responsibilities and that I can't go to New York or anywhere else whenever I damn well please (though, I'm still working on marrying that rich man), however you can bet your ass I'm going if I can afford to. It just so happens that my good friend Saint Jude, the patron saint of lost and hopeless causes, smiled on me and made it possible for me to go to New York twice this month. I'm not Catholic, but Saint Jude has become my buddy. Every time I go to New York and step foot in the square in front of Penn Station (my nostrils filled with everything from car exhaust and gasoline, to honey-roasted nuts and hot dogs, and of course urine and horse shit. Its a surprisingly comforting and familiar smell.) and take in the surroundings its as if I'm doing it for the first time, every time.

I will be able to tell my children, and grandchildren about all of the wonderful and amazing things I did when I was younger. How many shows I saw in my lifetime, how the city has changed since I was a kid, the places I went, things I did, and the wonderful people I met along the way. Sure, I'm broke now and it goes without say that I sacrifice a lot so that I can live this lifestyle that I do, but honestly I'm happy.

At least, that's how I see it.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

#28: Broadway vs. Hollywood: A battle of EPIC proportions

Broadway and Hollywood. Two separate entities that have been at "war" for years. They first met in 1927 when Warner Bros. made the first "talkie" film The Jazz Singer, about a month before that Florenz Ziegfeld opened Show Boat, Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstien II's adaptation of the book. Two artistic phenomenons within two months of each other. It seemed as though from that moment on, Broadway and Hollywood would be in each others lives and at each others throats.

And this "war" has continued even today, much like political parties, you ask anyone what they prefer and they're very adamant about where they stand. Broadway or Hollywood. They prefer to sit in a theatre with a huge screen with the jumbo sized popcorn and soda, ignoring the sticky floors and the person who forgot to turn off their phone, to be swept away by the magic of movies. Or they prefer the velvet seats, the feel of Playbill pages between their fingers as they read about the actors, and the surge of excitement when they come out on stage for the first time; so close that you could almost reach out and shake their hand. Well, if you're in the orchestra section that is, but you know what I mean. Both bring enormous amounts of satisfaction to people, they provide an escape from their everyday lives and problems, and they give people a feeling that they aren't alone. They do have two major things in common though: They're both in a theatre and frickin' expensive.

Advocates of the theatre argue that without Broadway, Hollywood would have never been born. The stage is the oldest art form next to painting, people have been putting on live shows for thousands of years and from them actors and producers today have learned some valuable tricks of the trade to keep the theatre entertaining and alluring. However you can't argue with the fact that Hollywood gave society something that Broadway couldn't: easier access. There are millions of movie theatres all over the country, all one has to do is walk down the block and turn the corner. Broadway is a little harder to get to, especially if you don't live in New York; sure there are tours but even then you're met with getting to a theatre. Which isn't easy if you don't live in a city like myself. As much as I would love to go to Broadway every weekend, I just can't; it is not possible for me to do unless I marry a rich man. Which is something I'm working on. But until I find my rich husband I have to take what I can get, even if I'm sitting through the movie that had been a Broadway musical until someone sold the rights to Hollywood, and I'm silently judging and critiquing every actor in the movie...I'm there and I'm being entertained and swept away for a few hours.

Believe it or not there is a reason for this, as some of you theatre buffs may know Hunter Foster recently made headlines in the theatre world with his Facebook Group, which you can check out here, "Give the Tony's Back to Broadway!" At first I was like "HELL YES! GO HUNTER!" But I can be impulsive and not think things through, so now that I have...allow me to tell you how I see it:
There was a statement made in the article that really rang true to me, and it was a very well-written and educated response:
“Look, talent is talent, so whether Hollywood stars or Broadway unknowns are on the NYC stages, fine. But the Tony awards ceremony should honor Broadway and stay loyal to those that brought the spotlighted shows to life… not the names that are just that: names.”

I think that is my main issue with Hollywood actors coming to Broadway. Honestly it really has nothing to do with them, it has everything to do with the producers and everyone who handles marketing, ticket sales, etc. They know that people who aren't necessarily into live theatre will come if they hear that someone like Denzel Washington is going to be in it. I've been known for scoffing at Hollywood actors, thinking them impudent and brazen for thinking that they could compare themselves to a Broadway actor, someone whose craft far surpasses theirs because they have spent their life performing in front of a live audience; where there is no "cut" or editing a scene. However if you do a simple google or wikipedia search, you'll find that some Hollywood actors got their start in live theatre. I find those actors to be the ones I respect the most, and I do recognize that even the ones that didn't get their start in theatre aren't any less talented; they're just doing what they love to do in the environment they're comfortable in.
If you read my previous column, you know that I recently went to see two shows this past weekend: A Little Night Music and Everyday Rapture. Both had two amazing leading ladies: Hollywood icon Catherine Zeta-Jones and Broadway favorite Sherie Rene Scott. Both of their performances were out of this world, CZJ performed while she was sick and never missed a note or a line; Sherie's amazing voice and acting ability continues to amaze me every time I see her on stage. The only difference between the two is CZJ is best known for her movies (though if you do that google search, you'll find that 20 years prior to this stage debut, she was in a West End Production of 42nd Street AND she did all of her own singing and dancing in Chicago) and Sherie for her stage. Neither performance was better than the other, they both gave the audience their all and then some.

I understand where Hunter is coming from, and I don't think that he's saying that Hollywood actors are any less than Broadway actors. I also don't think that most Hollywood actors think they're better than Broadway actors. However I think that the Tony awards ceremony should honor Broadway, and the past few years that I've watched it I have seen that philosophy slipping more and more into the shadows. It has nothing to do with the actors themselves, whether they're Broadway or Hollywood, but with those damn money whoring producers and people like them. They figure if they have a few "famous" people, ratings will skyrocket and people will flock to the theatre. What's funny is the fact that those money whore's are forgetting this: Broadway has been around for a century or so, and sure shows have come and gone, theatres have been destroyed and rebuilt but it's still there. The heart and soul of Broadway is not something that's easily destroyed, it's survived this long without the help of ratings and big names and I think it has quite a few more years to go.

I recognize real talent, as I'm sure you dear reader do as well, so lets not be too quick to judge those who step off of Sunset Boulevard and on to the Great White Way. However I don't see Broadway actors as presenters on the Academy Awards, so I think that those organizations really need to think about who they're honoring.

At least, that's how I see it.

Monday, June 21, 2010

#27: A Little Rapture

I am going to warn you ahead of time, this post is going to mostly be gushing about my recent trip to see A Little Night Music and Everyday Rapture. So if that's not your cup of tea just skip the first couple of paragraphs.

Lets start with Night Music.

It was the first show that introduced me to the amazing composer/lyricist/all around genius Steven Sondheim, so I went into the show with a more than overflowing sense of excitement. From the moment the Overture's melodies filled the air, I knew that there was no place that could make me happier in that moment. The cast was almost perfect, I say almost because I did not care for Hunter Ryan Herdlicka's portrayal of Henrik. I won't go into every little detail, but what turned me off was when he sang "Later," he literally screamed at one point and I expected Sondheim himself to pop up and smack him. Other than that, I found everyone else to be a perfect fit for the characters. Let me mention just a few:
Leigh Ann Larkin was absolutely charming as Petra, the very "free-spirited" maid. Leigh Ann recently starred in the 2008 revival of Gypsy as Dainty June, so she's no stranger to Sondheim; I absolutely adored her version of "The Miller's Son" and it has become my new favorite song in the production.
I have to mention Betsy Morgan because when I went to see The Little Mermaid, she was playing Ariel and therefor it is my obligation to gush a little about her. She has a gorgeous voice, its one of those unique voices that makes you cock your head and go "Huh, that's different! I like it!" Her role was unique, she was part of the Greek chorus, I know it sounds weird that a Greek chorus would show up in a modern day Broadway musical but it really did work. I found it particularly fitting in "Remember," the scene in which the characters of Desiree and Frederik reminisced about their past together. In the original production everyone around them froze as they sang, this was unique and original, and as I said before it really did work.
How can one talk about this production, and not talk about Catherine Zeta-Jones and Angela Lansbury? Though she did perform, it was very apparent within the first few minutes that she was on stage that CZJ was not feeling too well. Her voice was a little stuffy, but that did not hinder her performance in the least; she was very careful in the first act and most of the second, one could tell that she was saving her voice for her solo, one of Sondheim's most popular and beautiful songs: Send in the Clowns. She did splendidly! Much better than her Tony Performance; don't get me wrong, she sounded amazing that night, but her neck jerking reminded me of a pigeon. Cut her some slack though, it was the Tony Awards, and I think even someone of her caliber is allowed to be terribly nervous. When she started to sing, I felt my eyes water, by the time she was finished I was a puddle. There is something about that song that touches a small part of you.
Speaking of something that touches a small part of you, let me gush about Angela. From the second she came out on stage I was all a flutter with excitement, then when it came time for her to sing her solo I was a puddle. I never thought in a million years that I would be able to say that I was blessed enough to see a living legend on a Broadway stage TWICE in my life. Oh and just so you know, age hasn't affected her in the least. She still has it, and her rendition of "Liasons" was absolute perfection.

I'm going to borrow the description from the facebook page: Everyday Rapture is the story of a young womans psycho-sexual-spiritual journey on the rocky path that separates her mostly Mennonite past from her mostly Manhattan future. Her life takes her from the cornfields of Kansas to the clover fields of New York (with a disturbing detour through YouTube). With a cast of five led by Sherie Rene Scott, the show also features songs made famous by David Byrne, Roberta Flack, Mister Rogers, The Dap Kings and Judy Garland. Sherie Rene Scott is probably one of the funniest people, with a killer voice, that you've never heard about, she co-wrote the show along with Dick Scanlan. It's sort of a semi-biographical, one-woman-and-two-backup-singers show; Lindsay Mendez and Betsy Wolfe are the two back-up singers, and they were phenomenal; I hope that they do concerts or something because I would love to hear them individually. The show is mostly a satirical look into the world of this young woman, but there were some moments that really got your wheels turning or had you reaching for the kleenexes. She described moments from the death of her gay cousin Jerome, and Fred Phelps in all of his hateful glory showed up to protest his funeral; to the time her son first found a four leaf clover, the cat eating it (to which she described: "I had my hands around his neck, prying his mouth open. I wanted to kill this fucking cat! I told my son that mommy was petting the cat in a way that you should never pet the cat!"), and her wondering if they really were specks of dust and if the world wasn't meant for them. I have to say that it has become my new favorite show, and I wish that it would extend its limited engagement so I could see it again.

I apologize for the long tirade, but there aren't enough words to describe the utter joy and freedom that the theatre gives me.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

# 26: Oh so Audrey

The second you say the name Audrey Hepburn people immediately know who you are talking about; if they don't then they have been living under a rock or they need to have the dog piss slapped out of them. I get on these kicks where out of the blue, I'll pick up a movie with a certain actress and watch it; then I'll want to watch everything else she's been in. Why in the past two weeks I've ordered four of her movies off of Amazon, and to be honest I can't think of anything better to spend my birthday money on (and I didn't spend a lot of it either, my highest order was only 20 bucks after shipping).

Audrey Hepburn is a household name; men swoon over her, women have a deep respect for her and lets face it, the woman knew how to dress. She set trends that fashion designers today only dream of and is still one of the most recognized and successful film actresses in the world. But what makes her stand out besides the fashion and fame? Why is it that even still today, women both old and young alike want to somehow emulate Audrey?

Well my dear readers, I'm going to attempt to answer that. Lets start with some basic biography courtesy of Wikipedia (not the best source I know):
Born in Ixelles, Belgium as Audrey Kathleen Ruston, Hepburn spent her childhood chiefly in the Netherlands, including German-occupied Arnhem, Netherlands, during the Second World War. She studied ballet in Arnhem and then moved to London in 1948, where she continued to train in ballet and worked as a photographer's model. She appeared in a handful of European films before starring in the 1951 Broadway play Gigi. Hepburn played the lead female role in Roman Holiday (1953), winning an Academy Award, a Golden Globe and a BAFTA for her performance. She also won a Tony Award for her performance in Ondine (1954).

Hepburn became one of the most successful film actresses in the world and performed with such notable leading men as Gregory Peck, Rex Harrison, Humphrey Bogart, Gary Cooper, Cary Grant, Henry Fonda, William Holden, Fred Astaire, Peter O'Toole, and Albert Finney. She won BAFTA Awards for her performances in The Nun's Story (1959) and Charade (1963), and received Academy Award nominations for Sabrina (1954), The Nun's Story (1959), Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961) and Wait Until Dark (1967).

She starred as Eliza Doolittle in the film version of My Fair Lady (1964), becoming only the third actor to receive $1,000,000 for a film role. From 1968 to 1975 she took a break from film-making, mostly to spend more time with her two sons. In 1976 she starred with Sean Connery in Robin and Marian. In 1989 she made her last film appearance in Steven Spielberg's Always.

Her war-time experiences inspired her passion for humanitarian work, and although she had worked for UNICEF since the 1950s, during her later life she dedicated much of her time and energy to the organization. From 1988 until 1992, she worked in some of the most profoundly disadvantaged communities of Africa, South America and Asia. In 1992, Hepburn was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in recognition of her work as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. In 1999, she was ranked as the third greatest female star of all time by the American Film Institute.

Obviously everyone is fascinated with that "look" that she has, that absolutely adorable, classy and sophisticated look that could only be described as "Oh it's so Audrey." What is the "Audrey" look though? She wasn't considered a classic beauty like Marylin Monroe, but if you look at her she is absolutely extraordinary; she possessed a uniqueness that was all her own and unlike anyone that Hollywood had ever seen before. She was this petite little thing with big feet and a tiny waist, she had big brown eyes that, with one look, could break your heart, put words to shame or make you smile. She was modest, yet incredibly sexy; that dress from Breakfast at Tiffany's is probably one of the most recognized and mimicked looks of all time. She was considered, at the time, ill-proportioned, boyish, flat-chested with big feet, and scrawny; but ask anyone who knew her and they'll say she was beyond sexy.

It's been said that the clothes she wore were more than just for fashion, they were somewhat of an "armor of love", something that enabled her to be appropriately dressed which is what she believed in and where that sexy modesty comes in. She viewed herself as this package of imperfections, but isn't that what true beauty is all about? Not knowing how special you are? That is what, I think, is so appealing to women is that she's not this cookie cutter model, but they still know she's beautiful and its a unique quality that keeps her enduring. She was an "under-dresser" instead of an "over-dresser"; she bought her shoes an half size too big because she thought they lasted longer and looked better if you're not cramming your foot into them. Sticking to something practical such as that is what makes your look work. Designers today, when they see something they like: a clean, modern look that works they'll exclaim: "Oh that's so Audrey!" Its a look that works, a clean style that always looks fabulous and always works.

So what is the "look" that Audrey Hepburn felt most comfortable in? Polo shirts and jeans; casual, comfortable clothes that allowed her to move and breath easy during her UNICEF missions. Right up until the end of her life she remained an icon to simplicity, knowing what works with your body and sticking with it. She was so genuine in ever aspect of her life, and people saw that; it's so hard to see through a Hollywood actor, you never know if they really are a genuine person. Not with Audrey, somehow you knew that she was this classy and elegant woman both on and off camera. Audrey, when asked about how she felt being labeled and "icon" said:
I never think of myself as an icon. What is in other people's minds is not in my mind. I just do my thing.

Classy, elegant, genuine and humble. What did you expect from her?

I'm going to close with a few of my favorite quotes from her:
I decided, very early on, just to accept life unconditionally; I never expected it to do anything special for me, yet I seemed to accomplish far more than I had ever hoped. Most of the time it just happened to me without my ever seeking it.

Pick the day. Enjoy it - to the hilt. The day as it comes. People as they come... The past, I think, has helped me appreciate the present - and I don't want to spoil any of it by fretting about the future.

Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, it's at the end of your arm, as you get older, remember you have another hand: The first is to help yourself, the second is to help others.

For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.

Audrey Hepburn will continue to endure as an icon long after other stars have faded from the limelight (because after all, there are certain shades of limelight that can wreck a girls complexion), because she has that staying power. She's cast a shadow that no other woman can begin to fill, and that is what makes her so special.

At least, that's how I see it.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Column # 23: A Peek into my iTunes: Power to the Vag

Yes that's right, power to the vag. I don't know what possessed me to do this column on women singers/songwriters, oh wait yes I do. I'm a feminist ;] As you can imagine, the possibilities were endless; I decided to narrow it down to a few, more recent women who have come to be my favourites in the last years:

Madonna, let me count the ways you empower me. This is the perfect selection for anyone who is just starting to get into Madonna. It has all of her hits that you've heard on radio stations, plus a few of her less known ones as well. Her music preaches originality, encourages not to settle for second best and stresses the importance of being comfortable in yourself. She started a revolution, one of female sexuality and being comfortable in your own skin, and its one that my next singer is taking to a whole new level....

Oh Lady Gaga...where to begin. Well lets start off with the outfits. She's worn everything from something that looked like it was made from the slaughter of Kermit the Frog dolls, a fabulously dressed lion, the Phantom of the Opera experimenting with a bedazzled machine and something from a Poe short story. Like many people, I definitely raised my eyebrows. I bought her album and fell in love with the music, both the techno like sound and the incredibly well-written lyrics. All one has to do to appreciate Gaga is listen to her lyrics, seriously this chic can pen some amazing lyrics that can compete with the best poets. This is coming from someone who is hardcore about poetry and lyrics; I can't stand it when people call a song 'amazing' and it's nothing but the same thing repeating over and over again. With Gaga, she explores everything from experimenting with your sexuality to date rape. She is definitely an artist I respect...and I really would love to raid her closet.

Speaking of empowerment through songwriting...may I introduce Sara Bareillies. I honestly can't think of anything more empowering to women in the entertainment industry than those who write their own songs. Her songs a witty, with clear motives and beautiful use of language.

I love Kat DeLuna. I really do, she's responsible for getting me off of my ass and on a treadmill. This particular song is very empowering, taking the stance of 'I don't give a shit what you say'. I first thought she wrote it for me honestly, because its very much like myself: "You can talk all you want but my skin is really thick, I'm the leader of the crowd and my game is really slick." See? So me. This is the song you want to listen to before a huge exam or board meeting, trust me your confidence will go through the roof.

Fergiliscious def. Fergie is my girl because she basically takes this 'fuck off' attitude when she writes her songs. I love this CD because it's so diverse, from upbeat, get off your ass and dance numbers such as 'London Bridge' to intimate and serious once such as 'Big Girls Don't Cry'. Her titles and lyrics are just as inventive and unique as she is and they make this Black Eyed Pea stand up just fine by herself.

Do I really need to explain how amazing this is again? Okay fine...'Because I am a Wife'. Nuff said.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Column # 22: Death the great Equalizer

Perhaps its because it's raining, or because I'm morbid, or maybe its just because I've just been thinking a lot lately but I thought I would write a blog about one of the most depressing topics ever:


To some it's a terrifying thought, to others it somehow doesn't exist; like most things in life, it's a different thing to different people. I for one can honestly say that, while it does frighten me a little, I don't have a problem with it. Then again, when one looks at the past nine years of my life:

2001 - Mother died of ovarian cancer
2003 - Father diagnosed with prostate cancer
2007 - Grandfather died of a staff infection after being healthy as a horse for 70 years
2008 - Classmate killed in a car accident
2010 - Grandmother dies suddenly in her home

I kind of have a good reason to feel that way, I mean from 13 on it seems as though death (and near-death) and I are BFF's. However, it's one BFF I definitely don't want to take to the movies. I've come to discover that death, for all of the heartache it brings, gives a whole new meaning to life. I've found that trivial things annoy me, gossip is a bore, and I laugh at people who think they know everything.

It never ceases to amaze me how people think that they are entitled to something or that they deserve the biggest reward possible. Now don't get me wrong, dreams and goals are fantastic but don't think that you're entitled to a frickin' medal when you achieve them. I hate to break it to you, but we aren't entitled to a damn thing. There are three things that are the same with every single person on this planet: 1.) Our genealogy can be traced back to ONE woman 2.) We are all born the same way and 3.) We all die. We came into this world a screaming wad of flesh, and we're going to leave this world an (hopefully) old sack of skin. We came here with nothing, we were just a naked and wet baby. What happens in between is what matters, but the one thing that pisses me off is this sense of entitlement people get. Who do you think you are? Last I checked the air you took into your lungs wasn't any different from the air I breathe, and while you may do something better than I can you should remember that I can do something better than you can. You are no different from me in that aspect.

Throughout history people have tried to erase the aspect of death, deeming it too scary or inappropriate. Ironically, when we do this we loose so much of what is important in life. We don't appreciate things the way we should, we don't love as much as we could and we certainly don't have as much faith. In ancient civilizations people looked at death as a passage to a new life or as a blessing to the tribe, they viewed it as one more ancestor to watch over them. Today we see nothing but the negative, as I said it does bring pain like you can't imagine but some people never quite move on from that.

Dylan Thomas, one of my favorite poets, wrote a brilliant, and widely celebrated villanelle for his dying father: 'Do not go gentle into that good night'. The speaker is begging for his loved one to "Rage, rage against the dying of the light.", to not leave them behind. As someone who has lost a parent, I can understand this sentiment. I can't tell you how many times I begged God to give my mother the strength to "rage against the dying of the light", but, like Thomas, my prayers were all for naught.

Death sucks, there's no question or denial there. However it's how you deal with it that determines the rest of your life. I know some people that struggled for months and then finally overcame their sorrow, then there are people I know who just can't seem to let go. It changes people, in good ways and in bad.

As the title suggests, death is in fact the one thing that makes us all equal. It doesn't care who you are, what you do, or how much you have; sooner or later (hopefully later) it's going to come to your door. It's nothing to be scared of, it just gives us a better reason to enjoy life; to live each day as if you're not going to wake up tomorrow. We aren't guaranteed tomorrow, nor are we entitled to anything. So live it up now.

At least, that's how I see it.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

St. Columb - Epilogue


The sun is just now breaking over the horizon, soon the nightingale will be replaced with the lark and soon my husband will be stirring. Dougan and I were married a few months after the incident at St. Columb, we found a small house in Greenwich; which is closer to London, allowing me to go in and out of the city with ease.

Emma and Grace decided it was too difficult to stay at St. Columb after the tragedies that had occurred there, Parliament agreed and made sure that they got exactly what the house and property was worth; they left the business to the Ashley's, who are now the happy parents of two children they adopted. Last I heard the orphanage was doing splendidly.

Lynsay is going to Oxford, pursuing a degree in education and art. She graduates this spring, and will go on to teach art and psychology. If you recall, I mentioned a charcoal sketch earlier in my story; she finished it after we moved to Greenwich. It sits on my dressing table in a frame, it depicts her and I along with Dougan happily enjoying everyone's company.

Celia, Phillip and little Dona, who isn't so little anymore, are all residing in a suburb in Brentford. Dona will be starting her senior year in high school this year, and her little brother middle school. Celia, Emma and I meet for tea at least three or four times a month to catch up.

As for myself, I suppose telling you this story has been somewhat therapeutic. I feel much lighter now, and though I was awakened by a night terror, I think that will be the last of them for a long time. I realize now that Robby can't harm me anymore, he's gone forever; and though I will always be haunted by some of the events of the past I can't dwell on them. Besides I have many more wonderful things to look forward to in the coming years. Dougan and I are expecting our first child next month.

She just kicked.

St. Columb - Chapter Fifteen


The rain was falling harder now, it stung my eyes as I ran down the path from the shack and into the woods once more. I heard him call my name and laugh, my heart pounded as I tore through the underbrush trying to get to the creek so I could follow it back to the orphanage. Dear God please, please let me make it to the creek. Run Rachel, run as if the devil himself were chasing you! My body began to ache from the kick that I had previously received, I later learned that he had cracked four or five of my ribs but adrenaline kept me from focusing on it. I heard the branches snap behind me as Robby closed in on me, I managed to gather up some sort of strength to run faster. I made it to the clearing and ran down the side of the bank, trying to keep my head about me so as to not slip and fall in; the creek had risen, flood waters splashed on the bank causing parts of it to be soft and unstable. I didn't see the softer spot in the soil, my foot sank in, causing me to fall. I tried to get up in time but it was too late, he was already upon me.

“You know I was hoping that you would put up some sort of fight! It gets rather boring just killing someone and all they do is beg for their life.” he laughed, grabbing me by the arms again.

I was not going to just let him kill me; not after all he had done to Dona and the other children, how he had killed poor Beatrice and Max, how he had defiled Julian's name and murdered him, but most of all how he shot Dougan and left him out in the wilderness like yesterday's trash.

“Good, I'm glad that I can provide you with entertainment!” I yelled; I turned and curled my fist and struck him.

I remember regretting that decision because I added three broken fingers to my list of injuries. He staggered back and smiled at me, I saw the gun tucked in his belt; suddenly I remembered something, and felt the cold steel against my wrist.

“Well my dear you have more fire in you than I thought.” he said, his voice low again. “However I tire of this, and now you've ruined any chance of my going back to St. Columb. That I cannot let you get away with.” he said, drawing the gun and pointing it at me.
“Go on you coward, shoot me like you shot Dougan. You'll never escape, Celia knows who you are and you can be damned sure that she will search all of England and won't rest until you're rotting in a bloody cell!” I said, I hoped that he didn't notice my hand fooling with the fabric around my wrist.
“Oh you're so noble, I'll give you that. However I've won Rachel, soon I'll go and find your sister and kill her too. Then I'll be on my way on the next barge out of England, so sorry.” he laughed, clicking the hammer; I had to act now.

Celia was coming down the creek when she heard the shot, she drew her gun and ran towards the noise. She came upon the scene: I was on the ground trembling, as was Robby; I heard him laugh and Celia's gun go off. I knew then that it was over, I sat up and tried to come to my senses.
“Rachel! Rachel, oh God are you alright?!” Celia cried, coming to my side.
My shoulder felt like it was on fire, and the fabric around it felt warm; I looked over and saw the switchblade sticking out of Robby's abdomen.
“H—He was going to kill Lynsay...I—I had to do something...he killed Beatrice and Max and Julian...and...and....oh God Dougan!” I ignored the searing pain in my shoulder and fell into Celia's arms weeping.
“Shh it's alright Rachel you're safe now, we have to get you back to the orphanage so we can bandage you up.” Celia said, stroking my hair; she tore the sleeve from her jacket and wrapped it around my wound. I nodded, wiping the tears from my eyes; I noticed that the rain had subsided to a light drizzle and the wind had stopped howling.
“Can you walk?”
“I—I think so...”
“Alright then, come on.” Celia helped me up, I tried to stand, but the fatigue caught up with me instantly and I almost fell over.
“Whoa, careful darling. Perhaps you should just lean on me.” Celia said, managing a smile; she shouldered me and we slowly made our way back to St. Columb. The last I saw of Robby was him lying on the bank of the creek, a knife sticking from his abdomen, blood staining his mouth and a gunshot wound to his head. Try as I might, I still cannot purge those insane brown eyes that still stared at me even in death, from my mind.

I must have blacked out when we reached the orphanage, for I have no memory of arriving or of being placed on a cot in the parlor of Emma's house. I awoke to my shoulder in a sling and an immense pain in my side where Robby kicked me; I realized that I was propped up and saw Lynsay asleep in the chair closest to me, Emma and Grace asleep on the couch, and Gavin on the couch opposite of them. I saw how badly beaten both Emma and Grace were and felt fresh tears form in my eyes, I couldn't imagine how it all came to this.
“Somehow I knew that you would be the first one awake.” Celia said softly, leaning on the door-frame; the glow of the fire cast shadows on her face. She had changed from her soaking wet uniform to a light blue dress, her hair was pulled back in a high ponytail, some stray locks falling in her face; her badge still remained on her left hand side, I almost wanted to ask her where her gun was but refrained from doing so.
“How are you holding up?” she asked, coming over to my bedside and sitting on the coffee table.
“Alright I suppose, as well as anyone who's just been shot can I imagine.” I said, smiling a little.
“I'd say you're doing pretty bloody fantastic given your circumstances.”
“Celia...did Robby do that to Emma and Grace?” I said, glancing over at them.
“Yes...yes he did....there's no lasting damage, at least physically anyway.” she said softly, looking at them.
“Is Gavin going to be alright?”
“Oh he'll be back on patrol before you can say Bob's your uncle. There's not much that can keep him away.”
“I'm glad to hear it...” I said, my voice trailing off. Celia knew what I was thinking about, she gently took my hand and smiled.
“There's someone who wants to see you Rachel.”
“What? Who are you—“ I stopped when I saw him standing in the doorway. His shirt was open, revealing a large bandage covering the right side of his chest; he had a few scratches and bruises but he was otherwise alright.
“D—Dougan? You're alive?” I whispered; Celia stood and walked over to the edge of the couch where Gavin lay asleep.
“Rachel...” he said, his voice barely above a whisper. He walked towards me, and sitting on the coffee table, took my hand in his; stroking my cheek with his other hand. “God...I'm so glad you're alright. You have no idea what it's been doin' to me waiting for you to return.”
“Oh and do you think it was a picnic watching you get beat up and then shot, afterwords tumbling down the hill like a rag-doll?” I said, smiling through my tears.
“I'm sure it wasn't a very pleasant sight was it?” he laughed, leaning closer.
“Oh shut up Dougan.” I whispered. I pulled him to me and kissed him, I felt as if we had spent years apart and were finally reunited again. He gently pulled me close to him, I felt the warmth of his body and felt as if no harm could come to either of us ever again. I was home.
“Oh Jesus, will you two give it a bloody rest.” Lynsay groaned. She was leaning forward in the chair, her head resting in her hand, she was doing her best to look disgusted with our display of affection for one another; she wasn't succeeding. We pulled away and laughed, I gestured for Lynsay to come to me; she willingly complied, throwing her arms around my neck and kissing my cheek.
“Oh Lynsay now we can start a new life, together.” I said, glancing at Dougan who put his arms around both of us.
“I think we make a rather happy little family.” he laughed.
“Rachel you really mean it? We all can be a family?” Lynsay said, taking our hands.
“Of course I do darling, I think it's about time we pick up where we left off.” I smiled. I was unaware that our little scene was being watched by not only Celia, but Gavin, Grace and Emma as well; we all finally noticed them smiling at us.

The moment was interrupted by the loud, booming voice of Richard Bingham outside. We heard him demand to know where Celia and Phillip were.
“Oh no...bloody hell someone must have let the damned cur out of his cage.” she muttered, walking to the front door; she didn't want him coming in and disturbing us, frankly we were all grateful.
“Thomas!!” he boomed, his eyes nearly bulging from his head. “Arrest her! Throw her in jail for assault on an officer, withholding evidence and jeopardizing a criminal case.” he said to the two officers that were with him. They were dressed in more formal attire, both bearing the badge of the commander's precinct
“Arrest me?! If it wasn't for your bigoted mindset, asinine behavior and downright incompetence we wouldn't have had nearly as much trouble with this case in the first place. You're the one who almost arrested the wrong man! You nearly fucked up the entire case and let a murderer walk free!” Celia said, not backing down.
“Your naïve little mind would concoct such a ridiculous story such as that.” he said in a venomous tone. “Face it Thomas, I've won. And you will never be able to show your face in London again.” he said in a low tone so the two officers couldn't hear him.
“I wouldn't be so sure of that Bingham.” Phillip said, he had come up behind them while Bingham and Celia were bickering; neither had noticed.
“Ah, Delaney how kind of you to save me the trouble of hunting you down to put cuffs on you.” he said, sneering at Phillip.
“That's Commander Delaney to you Bingham.” he said, flashing his badge. Richard Bingham turned pale, and suddenly lost the ability to speak.
“D—Did you say...” Celia began, her eyes wide.
“Commander, yes I did.” Phillip answered, smiling at her.
“When were you going to run that small little detail by me?” Celia said, walking over to him and putting her hands on her hips.
“I was going to get around to it eventually, when the time was right. What was it you said? ' There's never a bloody good time to say anything'? Did I get that right?” he said, smiling at her. She glared at him, trying not to show her excitement.
“Richard Bingham, I hereby remove you from Scotland Yard and place you under arrest for forgery, bribing, bigotry, jeopardizing a criminal case and just being an all around asshole.” Phillip said as the other two officers placed Bingham in handcuffs. He said nothing as he was carried away and placed in the back of a patrol car.
“I didn't know you could arrest someone for being an asshole.” Celia said, facing him.
“Well you can't, it was just bloody good luck that he happened to do all of those other things too.” Phillip smiled, earning him a laugh from Celia.
“Celia...I hope you understand that I couldn't tell you because if I did, everyone would have acted differently than they did. If they thought I was just some proby sent by the Commander then they would be more likely to act natural. I wanted to see how terrible of an officer Bingham was. Despite what you may think, I received every one of your complaints. That's why I came.” he smiled.
“You, you read them?”
“Every one, I must say given the fact that Bingham was a monster of a man to deal with, they were all very professional.”
“Well I assumed that if I said what I really meant, they probably wouldn't get read.” They laughed, Celia locked eyes with him, “Thank you Phillip—I mean, Commander.” she smiled
“No, it's just Phillip to you.” he said, stroking her cheek. “By the way I'm still dreadfully in love with you. I know that little lie about being a proby probably damaged what little trust you had in me, but know that I do still feel the same. I suppose what I would like to know is if you feel the same way towards me.” he said
Celia smiled and laced her arms around his neck, “What does this tell you?” she asked; she kissed him softly, feeling his arms wrap around her waist and pull her close to him. When they pulled away, she called over her shoulder:
“I don't know what you all are bloody staring at but if you don't get back to work I know several officers that will be out of a job!” she said to the officers who had stopped and observed the scenario before them; not wanting to see if she would own up to her threat, they quickly went back to what they were doing.
“You know, I don't know what it is but I find it very alluring when you bellow at your team like an angry bear.” Phillip smiled
“Well good, because that's not going to change darling.” Celia laughed kissing him again.

They were making their way back to the house when Celia saw little Dona rushing towards them, she remembered her promise to her and knelt down to scoop her up in a hug.
“Dona! It's so good to see you!” she laughed spinning around with the child in her arms.

Dona's laugh carried over the grounds, I remember feeling a surge of joy when I heard it inside the house. We all were aflame with curiosity, and against the doctors orders, went out on the porch.

“Miss Celia! You came back!” Dona laughed.
“Of course I did darling, I promised I would didn't I?” Celia smiled as if the child were her own.
“Yes you did!” Dona said, throwing her arms around Celia's neck; Phillip smiled, knowing he was seeing something precious.
“Miss Celia...I was wondering if I could ask you something.”
“Of course darling, anything.”
“Well...I was wondering if...maybe you could be my new mum.”
Celia's heart nearly flew out of her chest, a mum? Her? Was she fit to even be a mother?
“D—Dona....are you sure you want me as a mum? I don't think I would be any good...”
“I think you would....and I do want you as a mum.” she smiled.
Celia felt tears well up in her eyes, she hugged the child and swore that she would be the best mother that she could be. “Alright then, yes. Yes I'll be your mum Dona.” she said; Dona threw her arms around Celia's neck again. Celia put her down and stood in front of her with hands on her hips in mock seriousness.
“Now if I'm going to be your mum, there's a few rules that you'll have to follow is that clear?”
“Yes miss!” Dona said, saluting her.
“Just because you're adorable doesn't mean that you can get away with anything, and if you break these rules there will be consequences understand?”
“Clear as a bell ma'am!”
Celia laughed and picked up her new daughter, holding her tight.
“Miss Ce—I mean mum, who is going to be my dad?” Dona asked; at that moment, Phillip stepped forward.
“I think I can help with that.” he said, smiling at Celia
“Really? Is Mr. Phillip going to be my dad?” Dona asked, turning to Celia.
“I think Mr. Phillip will fit in quite nicely as your dad.” Celia smiled, holding Phillip's gaze. He leaned in and gave Celia a quick peck.
“Celia, I can have the paperwork ready for you in an hour.” I called, my smile growing wider by the second.
“What of the observation period? You can never be too careful these days.” she said, smiling back at me.
“I think this time we can make an exception, what do you think Emma?”
“I think that's an ace of an idea.” Emma replied, putting her arm around Grace.

Monday, April 19, 2010

St. Columb - Chapter Fourteen


The noise from the gunshot echoed throughout the woods, I'm told that they even heard it at the house. Celia told me later that nothing scared her more than hearing that shot, and my scream.
“Shit!” she said, hurrying through the woods towards the location of the noise.
“Rachel!! Dougan!!” she called, not receiving an answer she went to the top of the hill to see if she could see anything. “Godamnit all to hell...” she said, stopping. “Come on Celia, pull yourself together for God's sake! You're no good to them fussing about like a child.” She continued down the hill, hoping to find some sort of clue.
Lynsay had heard the shot too, fear surged through her as she ran through the woods. Please, please, please let me find Robby dead and not Dougan or Rachel. She thought it wrong to wish death upon someone, however he did kill three people so she figure he probably had it coming to him anyway. She came to a clearing at the foot of the hill, and stopped when she saw Dougan lying in the underbrush.
“Oh no...Dougan!!” she cried, running towards him and rolling him over on his back, laying his head in her lap.
“Dougan, Dougan please say something!” Tears were forming in her eyes; she saw that he had been shot in the chest, blood had stained his shirt and the ground where he had lain. She kissed his forehead and held his head to her chest, “Please....please Dougan...” she whispered. He coughed, startling her.
“Lynsay....” he groaned
“Oh thank God you're alive!” she said
“Rachel...he has her...I've got to...” he tried to get up but stopped, the pain was excruciating.
“You're not going anywhere you've been shot! From the looks of it by someone who can't shoot worth a damn because he missed you're heart. You're bloody lucky.” she replied, tearing her dress again to create a bandage and opening his shirt.
“Lynsay...he has Rachel....” Dougan said, wincing.
“Celia and Phillip are hot on the trail of both of them, they'll get to her Dougan I know it. Just lie still.” she said, trying not to sound as scared as she was; she reached into her satchel and pulled out the flare gun, she fired one into the air.
“Help will be here soon, just lie still and keep your eyes open.” Lynsay said, stroking Dougan's hair; she prayed that Rachel would be alright.

I awoke on the floor of a dingy building, upon later observation I saw it was the same building that Lynsay had stayed in before Dougan brought her to St. Columb. It took me a second to piece together what had happened, Robby was the murderer and 'monster' that Dona was always talking about, he killed Beatrice, Max and Julian, and tried to frame Dougan; Dougan, who probably lay dead in the woods somewhere. I felt fresh tears form in my eyes, I quickly wiped them away when I heard that familiar, ominous laugh.
“Well, it seems as though Sleeping Beauty has awakened.” he smiled, coming from the shadows.
“Robby...why are you doing this?” I asked, standing.
“You stupid bitch! You still haven't figured it out have you?!” he laughed manically.
He grabbed me against and pinned me against the wall. I cried out in pain, and tried to get away; this only caused him to laugh more and tighten his grasp on my arms. I mustered the courage to look into his eyes, I saw there was nothing except insanity and a sheer animalistic fury.
“R—Robby whatever you did, or are going to do; Whatever you're feeling—I—I can help you. I can get you the treatment you need to—“ I was thrown to the floor and kicked.
Robby put his hands on his knees and laughed as if it were all a grand joke, “Oh you naïve little fool! Oh perhaps I should just tell you then!” he laughed and patted my head like a child.
“You see I knew from the start that I was different from other boys. The older I got, the younger my taste in girls became. Little girls in their birthday dresses were far more beautiful and alluring to me than a raven haired beauty in a red gown. Why the way they would flit about in the meadow, the wind catching their dresses would just drive me mad.” he shuddered with desire; I can't describe the sheer horror and vulgarity I felt.
“I knew that dear old mum and dad wouldn't think that proper. It just wasn't done! My desires were confirmed when Germans were first starting to bomb London. Of course we had a shelter that we retreated to. Well I had a cousin who needed comforting during this horrible time, her skin was soft like silk, a creamy white. She had the most charming blue eyes and strawberry blonde hair. Why when I found her most sweetest spot how could I go back? I can still feel her...” He closed his eyes and licked his lips, as if he was remembering the moment.
“But you see the desire within me was unstoppable! When I turned fourteen I could barely contain myself; I suppose that's when I decided I had to do something. You see I knew that nobody would suspect as seemingly helpless boy of only fourteen to be a cold blooded murderer. ” he stopped turning to me, his eyes dark and calm.
I felt the color drain from my face as I stood, I scrambled to the other side of the table that was in the center of the room; I wanted some sort of barrier between us. “You murdered your parents so you could come to St. Columb....and you made it seem as though it was a war crime. This entire time...you've been the one. You've been raping these girls, you, you killed Beatrice and Max...then you killed Julian and framed Dougan. It was you all along...you're the monster Dona talks about!” I cried, tears of hatred streaming down my face.
Robby mockingly applauded me, “Bravo dear Rachel! You may make a better detective than I originally suspected!” he laughed. “Yes! I killed them! You see I knew where dear old daddy kept his pistol, he was stupid enough to show me. He wanted me to know 'just in case I had to use it against an enemy'. Little did he know that he was my enemy.” his voice was gruff, it oozed with hatred.
“Me being the clever lad I am, stole the key one night and snuck into the parlor where mum stayed after dinner to read. I crept ever so silently up behind her and shot her in the back of the head. Of course the noise brought father in from the other room, and that's when the struggle ensued. I underestimated dear old dad's strength, however I knew that he couldn't very well kill his own son even if I had just killed his wife. I began to weep, when I felt his grip soften I took my the gun from him and shot him in the face. His blood and brains covered my face and chest. I simply wiped the chunks off and pretended to weep over his dead body.” he laughed, enjoying his triumph.
“I never wanted to kill Beatrice, she was probably my favorite, even more so than Dona. But you see I couldn't let anyone else have her....” he said, his voice dangerously low.
“So I took her into the woods and spent one final moment with her, then I killed her so those fucking parents you had assigned her wouldn't take her from me. Max just knew and saw too much, that little bastard couldn't keep a secret if his life depended on it.”
“How can you talk of them like they're pieces of meat in a marketplace?! They're children! Human beings! You have no right to decide if they can live or die!!” He reached across the table and silenced me with a smack, the blow almost caused me to fall.
Robby laughed, “This coming from a woman who decides where they spend the rest of their life! Oh Rachel how hypocritical you are!”
“I am not hypocritical....” I said through my teeth, my head to turned to the side.
“Of course you aren't darling.” he said reaching across and patting my head again, I smacked his hand away; he laughed as if he were laughing a child trying to defy an adult.
“I killed Julian because he and I are about the same size. I knew that bloody Captain friend of yours and her little team would see that he was the perfect fit. And of course Dougan was the perfect choice to frame, he was always such a fucking sentimental bastard. Daft too, he made it quite easy to lift his knife and use it to kill Julian.”
I thought I was going to be ill, I leaned on the table to steady myself. This boy is mad...and now I know his story. He's going to kill me like he killed his parents...I have to get out of here.
“So you see Miss Winter, the poor tormented boy known as Robby is actually a brilliant madman! I murdered my parents so I could have my fill of little girls in their birthday dresses with cream colored skin!”
He began to laugh like a maniac, I knew that I had to figure out some way to escape before I was added to his list of victims.

Celia saw the flare go off, but didn't stop; relief surged through her as she made her way through the forest, following the creek.
“Thank God...Lynsay found Dougan. Now if I can just find Rachel, God please...please keep her alive until I get there!” she prayed.

I remember Celia saying something about predators showing pride in their work, if I could figure out a way to distract him so I could escape....
“Tell me Robby...how many girls have you taken advantage of since you've been here?” I said, disgust in my voice; I really didn't want to know the answer but I knew of no other way to distract him.
“Well one looses count after almost four years.” replied, sitting down in the chair and placing the gun on the table. “Lately I've been consumed with ideas of how I'm going to stay there.”
“Of course...because it would be such a bloody tragedy if you left.” I said through my teeth, I was disgusted with him; but I also feared him, though I would never admit it out loud.
“Oh wouldn't it?” he laughed. “Well if you want to continue to live, I think you're going to be the one to help me achieve that.”
“You bloody well know that I would rather die than help you with anything.” I tried to make it look as if I was trying to get away, maintaining the helplessness on the outside but very aware of how close I was to the door. I also felt some sort of metal rod against the wall behind me, I gripped it tight with my hand; I had to be ready to use it at any moment.
“That's true, but can you say the same for your sister? She's not quite my type, but she'll definitely be satisfactory every now and then. You don't help me, I kill her. While having my fun in the process.” he chuckled.
Something inside me snapped, perhaps it was the way he threatened my sister; at any rate I gripped the rod with my hand, “You demented son of a bitch, you won't touch her!” I said; I hit him across the face with the rod, causing him to fall in the floor. I ran out the door and into the storm.

I remember praying then, something I hadn't done for years. To this day I can still hear the wind howling and the rain pounding the earth as I ran into the forest. I wish that those sounds would overpower the sound of that haunting laughter.

St. Columb - Chapter Thirteen


I started out towards the wooded area, now seeing why the others were worried about me going out in this horrid weather. The rain was falling rather hard, and the wind blew every now and then causing a terrible chill.
“Another bloody gorgeous English autumn.” I muttered, pulling my shawl tight around my body. I walked around to the playground and followed the trail into the woods, not knowing that I would soon be much safer in this terrible weather than in the warm house where Emma and Grace waited for me.

“Do you think she'll be okay mum?” Grace asked, handing her mother a dish towel.
“I think so dear, Rachel is very self-reliant. She'll be chilled to the bone when she comes back though.” Emma replied, smiling at her daughter
“I hope she finds Dona...I must have searched the playground at least three times and I couldn't find her.” Grace said, looking down and picking at her nails
“She has to be in the woods, there's no other place she could be darling.” Emma replied, trying to hide her concern by focusing on the dishes
“What if that evil man has her?”
“He doesn't.”
“But how can you be so sure? What if—“
“Because I just bloody do!” Emma snapped. She immediately regretted her decision once she saw her daughter's face, Grace looked as if she'd been struck.
“Oh Grace darling, I'm so sorry.” she said, pulling her into an embrace. “I've just been so scared lately that it's all I can do to keep what little hope I have...” she whispered, stroking her hair; Grace clung to her mother, embracing her like she did when she was scared as a child.
“Oh mum what are we going to do? Why is this happening?”
“I can't answer that dear. But we can't falter now, not when Rachel and Celia are so close to finding out who the bastard is that is doing this. We're going to be okay Grace, do you hear me?” she said, cradling her daughter's face in her hand. “We're going to be okay.”
“You've said that before, and you were right.” Grace replied, smiling.
“What can I say darling? I have a knack for being right about those kinds of things.” Emma laughed embracing her daughter again. “Come on then, let's finish these dishes and have a nice hot meal ready for everyone when they return.”
“Alright then.”

They were startled by the commotion that was going outside the kitchen, it sounded like two men fighting. Before they could investigate, the intruder had entered the kitchen; he was smiling as he held a switchblade dripping with fresh blood.
“Oh my God...it can't be...” Emma said, her eyes wide with terror; she immediately put herself between the intruder and her daughter.
“Mother...that's...that's” Grace said, trembling behind Emma.
“Surprise.” he said, smiling as he walked towards them.

I made my way through the winding trails of the woods, checking every side road and hidden cranny. I also was careful to avoid soft spots and deep puddles of water, especially when I neared the creek. I learned later that the flood had delayed Celia and the others.

“Well this is just fucking perfect!” Celia said, looking angrily at the flood waters that had blocked the road.
“Celia! There is a child in the car!” Phillip said
“Oh trust me, it's probably nothin' she hasn't said before.” Dougan smiled, glancing at Lynsay who elbowed him. “Look we can walk it's not that far.” Dougan said, he and Lynsay getting out.
“Well I suppose that's alright, we can't bloody well drive through this. Dougan are there other ways of getting back to the orphanage?” Celia asked as she and Phillip also exited the car.
“Yeah, if you take the road up about a mile or so, there's another turn that'll lead you right to St. Columb. It's a bit out of the way, but it's higher up there so there won't be any floodin'.” he said.
“Right then, you and Lynsay go on ahead. Unfortunately, Phillip and I have to stay here and wait for the rest of the team. Radio when you arrive.” she said.
Dougan and Lynsay carefully crossed the flooded section of the road and were at the end of the drive way within minutes.
“Dougan...why is the front door open?” Lynsay asked, her voice trembling.
“Shit!” Dougan said, taking off up the drive way; he ran as if the devil himself were on his heels, Lynsay close behind him.
They entered the foyer to find Gavin on the floor, surrounded by a puddle of blood.
“Gavin! Good God what happened?! Lynsay! Hold this to his wound.” Dougan said, handing Lynsay his handkerchief and propping Gavin up; he groaned, opening his eyes.
“D—Dougan...don't...worry with me....check to see if Grace and Emma....are okay....” he said, blacking out again. Lynsay tied off the handkerchief around his wound, then took the hem of her dress, tore it off and tied it around the handkerchief to make a tourniquet. Dougan made his way back to the kitchen, pausing at the door to ready himself for what he may see. God, please....let them be alive. He opened the door to find them both on the floor, Emma lying by the stove and Grace in the corner by the pantry; he ran to Emma's side, propping her head in his lap. He saw that she was badly beaten, the right side of her face was badly bruised, her left eye was nearly swollen shut, her neck and breast bone had several bruises on it, and she had a nasty gash on her forehead; she winced when Dougan lifted her, signaling that several of her ribs were probably broken.
“Oh God...Emma...Emma, can you hear me?” Dougan said, gently brushing her dark red hair out of her face; part of it was sticky with blood from where it had covered the gash.
She opened her eyes, “Dougan...” she whispered, wincing. “Oh God...it hurts.” she said, tears forming in her eyes. “Grace, where's Grace? Grace!” she said, attempting to get up but was stopped by the agonizing pain.
“She's over in the corner there, I think she's just unconscious.” Dougan replied. About that time, Lynsay had come into the kitchen. She stopped when she saw Grace.
“Grace? Grace!” she said, rushing over to her friend's side. “Dougan she's breathing but not waking up...she's got a terrible gash on her head, and...oh God...it looks as if someone beat her! She has bruises on her arms, neck and face!” she cried, stroking Grace's hair.
“As long as she's breathing that's a good sign. Did you call for help?”
“Yes Celia and Phillip are on their way, the rest of the unit will be here shortly. She said they were under a mile away but they aren't going to wait for them. I also alerted the few officers here on the property.” Lynsay said, dabbing Grace's forehead with a damp cloth she had taken from the counter.
“Good work.” he said; he turned his attention back to Emma. “Emma, did he say anything about where he was going?”
“Where Emma, please you must tell me...”
“He said he's going after Rachel...”
“Who is 'he' Emma?”

Celia and Phillip arrived just in time to see Dougan storming out of the house towards the woods.
“Whoa, slow down there! Where in God's name do you think you're going?” Celia said.
“I'm going to go find Rachel, and kill that son of a bitch that beat Emma and Grace, and killed those children and Julian.” Dougan said, trying to push past them.
“That is not a very wise decision Dougan. My unit will be here momentarily, we need to—”
“I'm not bloody waiting for your goddamn unit when that psychopath is out there hunting for Rachel!” Dougan yelled, pushing by them and running into the woods.
“Should we go after him?” Phillip asked.
“No...we need to go in and asses the situation and find out who the hell did this. Come on!”
The other officers had rushed over and aided Lynsay in caring for the wounded. Gavin had been put on the couch and bandaged, Emma and Grace were propped up together on the couch opposite of Gavin getting their injuries treated. Grace had just come to, and Emma was getting the gash on her head cleaned.
“Oh dear God...Gavin!” Celia said, rushing over to his side. Gavin looked up at his commander, he managed to smile given his condition.
“I'm fine captain...just a bit sore...”
“Shh, don't talk. I'm just glad to see you're alive...”
“You should know it'll take a hell of a lot more than this to kill me.”
“You are a tough bastard aren't you?” she smiled, stroking his hair.
“I guess so.” he chuckled.
“Rest now, I'll be back in a while to check on you.” she said, rising. She turned to the attending officer, “If anything happens to him, you're going to find out what they mean by 'hell hath no fury...' got it?” she replied. The officer swallowed hard and nodded.
“Celia, I can't find Lynsay.” Phillip said coming from the kitchen. Outside, the rest of the unit had arrived and wasted no time in getting set up.
“What do you mean you can't find her? She was just bloody here!” Celia said running towards the door.
“Damnit, she must have gone after Dougan!” Phillip said as he followed Celia. They went outside, and as they were running past the team of officers Celia yelled:
“Stevens! You're in charge! Don't screw up or I'll hang you when I get back!” she said, and she and Phillip followed the trail into the woods; leaving poor William wide-eyed and befuddled.
“What are your orders sir?” another officer asked.
“Well you heard her, lets not make this a cock up or else she'll hang the lot of us!” William said, and he began to bark out orders as if he had been doing it his entire career.

I had nearly made it to the top of the hill, signaling that the the trail was nearly finished. I hadn't seen any sign of Dona, and had this sinking feeling in my stomach that told me something was terribly wrong.
“I suppose I had better head back...” I said, checking my map again; every place on there had been checked off. I was trying to think of other places Dona would hide as I made my way back down the trail, suddenly I heard something over the wind and rain that made me stop and listen. It sounded like crying, I focused on it and tried to pinpoint a location.
“Dona? Dona darling is that you?” I said, walking towards the sound. It sounded like it was coming from a small thicket, dripping wet, I made my way over to it; the sound got louder, and I established that it wasn't a little girls cries but a boy's.
“Who's in there? Please come out, I won't hurt you.” I said. I strained to see through the rain, I finally saw movement. It was a boy, he was dressed in jeans, a red jacket and black shirt; he shivered as he cried.
“Robby, how did you get all the way out here?”
“I—I don't know....I was so scared....” he said, standing and stepping out of the thicket; his jeans were dirty, probably from crawling around in the mud in that thicket.
“Well you can't very well stay out here dear, you'll get dreadfully sick. Come on, I'm heading back to the orphanage. We'll get you a nice hot meal and some dry clothes.”
“We can't eat...not with Mr. Julian gone...and supper isn't the same without Dona.”
“Oh darling, you can't think—“ I stopped, immediately realizing something was very strange.
“Robby...how did you know about Julian?”
“I saw it in a dream....” he said, shifting awkwardly.
“And what did you say you were doing out here so far away from the orphanage?”
“I wanted to help you search for Dona....she's run away again...”
“Robby...none of the other children knew about Dona...”

Celia and Phillip did their best to catch up with Dougan, but their limited knowledge about the surrounding woodlands made it very trying.
“Oh hell we'll never catch up with him if the rain keeps picking up. We're just as lost as a damn hooker in a convent.” Celia said, wiping the water from her face.
“We have to keep after him, he's unarmed and the perpetrator is. Dougan may be a tough chap, but if this lad knows what he's doing then Dougan is in real trouble. I don't even want to think about what he may do to Rachel.” Phillip replied.
“You're right...bloody hell.” Celia put her hands on her hips and took a second to get herself together and calm down. Phillip noticed that, even soaking wet, she still maintained a sense of dignity and beauty.
“You know, this probably isn't the best time to say this...”
“What is it Phillip? There's never a bloody good time to say anything.”
“That's quite true, well if you wish for me to be honest I think I may be in love with you.”
“I—I beg your pardon?” Celia replied, her eyes wide
“Yes, yes I do believe that I am.” Phillip laughed, taking a small step forward. “Is that so hard to believe?”
“To be quite honest yes! I'm not the kind of woman men fall in love with!”
“Well I think I'm the the best judge of that.”
“No you don't understand....I don't know when to shut up around other people, I'm loud, obnoxious, I have no couth, I say what I think, I'm not sweet nor am I demure. I'm terribly obsessed about my job, I'm disorganized around the house but painstakingly organized at the office I—“ she was silenced by Phillip's lips gently meeting hers.
“Well you are right about not knowing when to shut up.” Phillip chuckled, cradling her chin with his fingers. “But I think I've found a solution to that issue. As far as the rest of those flaw's go, I have quite a few of my own so I think we'll fit quite perfectly. That is, if you love me of course.” he smiled.

Before she could answer, she heard a soft whimper;
“Shh...do you hear that?” she said softly, putting her fingers on Phillip's mouth; he listened, and he too heard the whimper.
“Yes, I think it's coming from over there.” he said, pointing to a small knoll. Closer observation revealed that there was a rather large burrow at its foot, concealed by a bush.
“Give me your torch.” Celia said, kneeling. Phillip handed her his flashlight and she shined the light inside.
“Oh dear God...Dona...” she said softly. Dona was huddled in the far corner of the burrow, soaking wet and dirty but otherwise unharmed. She cowered at the sight of Celia and Phillip, unsure if they were friend or foe.
“It's alright sweetie we're good guys, see?” Celia said gently, showing Dona her badge and urging Phillip to do the same. Dona squinted in the light, seeing the badge she moved a little closer to Celia.
“Come on dear, I promise I won't hurt you but I can't let you stay in there you'll catch cold.”
“Okay...” Dona whimpered. She crawled out and immediately rushed into Celia's arms, she trembled as Celia picked her up and held her close.
“Shh, shh, shh, it's alright darling you're safe now.” Celia whispered, stroking her hair.
“I had to get out...I had to get away from him.” Dona cried into her neck.
“Get away from who dear? He can't hurt you now, you can tell me.”
“He snuck in through the window...he...he didn't see me but I saw him...he stole into the kitchen and took the gun that Mrs. Emma keeps in the cabinet above the sink....away from us children...then he left...” Dona started to cry again. Celia looked at Phillip, who was rubbing Dona's back; his face was grave.
“M—Miss Rachel came by, she was calling for me....but I was so scared....”
“It's alright Dona, no one's mad at you we're just so happy you're alright.” Celia said, then she realized that Rachel and this madman were alone in the woods. “Dona...Dona do you remember when Rachel came by here?” she asked, gently maneuvering Dona so she could face her
“I—I don't know....it was when the rain wasn't falling as hard...”
“So about thirty minutes ago. Dona, I want you to be brave now....did you see the man come this way too?”
“Y—Yes....he was carrying a knife....the g—gun was tucked in his belt around back....”
“Oh God...” Celia whispered, looking at Phillip. “Dona, I want you to go with Mr. Phillip here alright? He's going to take you back to the house where you're going to get cleaned up and dried off.”
“I don't want to leave...I want to stay with you...” she said, clinging to Celia; she began crying again, it was all Celia could do not to join her.
“Darling you can't, I need to go help Miss Rachel. Mr. Phillip will take good care of you.”
“I know I'm not much to look at but I will protect you Dona.” Phillip replied, giving her a reassuring smile.
“O—Okay....but you promise you'll come back?” Dona asked Celia, who smiled at her.
“I promise darling. I promise.” she said hugging her again. She gently handed her to Phillip, who cradled her gently against his chest; her little arms wrapped around his neck and she buried her head in his chest.
“Celia, I don't like this.” he said.
“Phillip we can't very well take her with us and we both know that I'm not going anywhere, I'll be alright.” she replied, checking her gun for ammunition.
“Here, take my extra magazine.” he said, gesturing for her to reach into his pocket; she did, and put the magazine in her pouch near her holster.
“Please be careful Celia.”
“Don't worry Phillip.” she replied, kissing his cheek. “I'll be back soon.”
She hurried off into the woods, Phillip looking after her until she disappeared around the corner. He hurried back to the orphanage, he needed to make a call to the commanders office and fast.

I stood there in the rain, staring at Robby; looking back I think I knew in that moment. He stood there, shifting awkwardly as he usually did but there was something very different about his demeanor this time; I thought he was smiling.
“Robby.” he looked up at me, his face wearing a mask of fear but his eyes telling a very different story.
“How did you know about Dona? Answer me!”
“I know a lot of things...Miss Rachel.” he said, his tone of voice changing; he looked at me and smiled, his eyes looking more and more like an animal getting ready to attack. It was then that I saw that the stains on his jeans was blood, and that he was holding a knife that he had been hiding behind his back.
“Oh my God...it's you...” I said, feeling my face go white with horror; he smiled, an evil, conniving smile and let out a low, dangerous laugh.
“Surprise.” he said, coming towards me with the knife.
I was paralyzed, I couldn't move even though every fiber in my body told me to run; I couldn't scream, no sound came from my throat when I tried. I stood there, like a gaping fool as Robby came towards me with the knife. He was still smiling as he slowly walked towards me, his pace reminded me of a cat who had cornered a mouse and was ready to strike. Suddenly I heard Dougan's voice cry out over the rain, Robby turned in time to see Dougan tackle him to the ground.
“Dougan! He's got a knife!” I cried. He didn't seem to hear me, he continued to punch Robby.
“You ungrateful son of a bitch!” he roared. Robby laughed, and managed to kick him off.
“Oh Dougan you're such a fool.” he said.
I stood helpless, watching them fight. I remember thinking there had to be something that I could do to help Dougan; then I noticed the knife had fallen to the ground.
Dougan punched Robby, causing him to fall to the ground. “I'll kill you, you limey bastard.” he said coming towards him. It was then that I saw the gun tucked in Robby's belt.
“Dougan look out!” I screamed.
“Not before I kill you first.” Robby smiled, pulling the gun on Dougan.

I heard the shot, I saw Dougan fall backwards down the hill; I think I screamed, but so much was happening I couldn't be sure. I saw Robby come towards me, I felt a surging pain on the back of my head.

Then all went dark.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

St. Columb - Chapter Twelve


We went into the kitchen and set up a game plan with Gavin. Lynsay would be sent for by Phillip within an hour, so she was the first to go out and search for Dona and go from there to Phillip. We would work in one to two hour increments, Dona had many a hiding spot and they were widespread. Thankfully, Emma had made a list over the years of where she had been found.
“The poor thing wanders off because she has night terrors, sometimes sleepwalks so I had to find a way to keep track of her. She does frequently hide in the same spot twice so I made a list of her popular ones. I've also drawn a map of the property and sectioned it off.” she said, laying a small map on the table.
“Emma I must say you are probably one of the most organized human beings I have ever met.” Gavin said. Emma smiled, and went on explaining the plan:
“Lynsay, you are to take the areas surrounding the barn. She has several there so check them off as you go. Grace darling you're to take the area's in and around the orphanage and playground, be sure to check every nook and cranny. I will take the surrounding perimeter around the property and Rachel you are to take the wooded areas. There aren't that many places for her to hide there and I've made you a separate map with checklist.” she said, handing me the map. “I'm certain we'll find her by then but just in case, I want to be very thorough.”
“And there's no need to worry about getting caught, the Captain has many allies in her unit. We all trust and respect her a hell of a lot more than we ever will Bingham. If you need help, radio.” Gavin replied, placing an extra radio on the table, giving another to Lynsay who wouldn't be returning right away. “Take this with you when you go out, we've all set our stations to the same one and Bingham won't intercept it because his is on a different one.” he turned to Lynsay, “You hold tight to that radio and don't hesitate for a second to call any of us.” he said, giving her a satchel with an extra battery and flares. “Shoot one of those up when things get sticky, we'll be there faster than you can say Bob's your uncle.” he smiled, Lynsay nodded and smiled back. “I'll radio when Officer Delaney sends for me.” she replied.
“The important thing right now is finding Dona, we'll worry about everything else later.” I replied, earning a unanimous nod in agreement. “Well then, lets get started.” I smiled.

Lynsay was the first to go out and search, I would be lying if I said I wasn't frightened; after all, I had just been reunited with her two months ago. As she was readying herself, I expressed how proud I was of her.
“Oh Lynsay darling I can't tell you how much it pleases me to have you for my sister.”
“Aw Rach...c'mon you're going to make me blush.” she smiled.
“I mean it! You're brilliant, and I am so proud of how much you've grown.”
“I wouldn't have been able to do it if I didn't believe you would find me.”
“Please, be safe darling. I am very frightened at the thought of you going out there alone...”
“Don't worry Rachel I'll be fine. What is it you told Dougan? 'I've done a pretty dandy job of taking care of myself.'? Well you are my sister so it runs in the family.”
“That was different dear, you could possibly come in contact with a madman, a madman who is unpredictable and capable of terrifying things...” I said, stroking her hair.
“Rachel....for three years I held on to the hope that you would find me again, and I'll be damned if someone is going to separate you from me now. I promise, that no matter what I will come back.” she replied, taking my hands. “Have I ever broken a promise?”
I smiled, “No, no darling you haven't” I embraced her and kissed her forehead. “Just be safe alright?”
“I will.”
With that she was off. Within an hour she radioed back and reported that she, sadly, had no luck; she was going with Phillip now and would radio again when she was finished.
As the hours passed, Dona still hadn't shown up; I was beginning to grow very distressed, but I maintained a calm demeanor and hoped that I would find her when it was my turn to go out and search. Emma, Grace and I were sitting at the table; I was about to go out to search when Gavin came in to report on Lynsay's current situation, he told the following story:
Phillip found Lynsay in the barn loft.
“Dona? Dona please com out...it's Lyn.” she said softly
“Any sign of her?” Phillip asked, coming up the ladder and startling Lynsay
“Jesus! Officer Delaney you nearly gave me a bloody heart-attack!”
“Sorry.” he smiled “Well are you ready to go then?”
“I suppose so...I've hit all of the area's on the checklist. No sign of her...”
“Don't worry, you've got three other people to search for her.”
“I know but the storm is getting worse. The weather is going to make it damn near impossible...”
“Have hope Lynsay.” Phillip said, putting his hands on her shoulders. “They're going to find her, I have faith in them. Especially your sister, she's very tenacious and won't stop until the job is done.”
“I hope you're right.”
“Come on then, lets go.”
They got into the patrol car and headed to the temporary command center.
“So what exactly am I going to do again?”
“Oh it's simple really, while I'm distracting Bingham you're going to sneak in, free Dougan, then take this car back to the orphanage to aid in the search for Dona.”
“Simple....right. How exactly am I going to free Dougan? Do you have the key to the cell?”
“No I don't, it's in Bingham's top desk drawer on the left side. At least that's where I saw him put it when he locked Dougan up. If it's not there it's probably in his pocket. I had to improvise.” he said, handing her a set of lock picks. Lynsay eyed him in surprise.
“Lock picks? What is an officer of the law doing with such degradable instruments?” she smiled
“I have my reasons.” he laughed. “Do you know how to use them?”
“If I say yes, will I get arrested?”
“No, you'll just be in similar company.”
“Well alright then. Yes I do.”
“Jolly good! I'm going to drop you off about a block from the warehouse, an officer of mine will meet you at the back door and let you inside where he'll wait with you until I send you some sort of sign. From there, you're on your own and will have to rely on those wits of yours.”
“What if I get caught? Bingham will throw me in jail for sure and you'll get eaten alive.”
“Don't you worry about me, and you won't get caught. I promise you that, Rachel told me she would make me curse the day I was born if anything happen to you, and to be honest, I believe her.”
“That sounds like Rachel....alright then I suppose I can manage.” she smiled, placing the lock picks in her satchel.
“I know you'll do fine. Here we are.” he said pulling over. “Go down that alley, make a left, there you'll find Officer Stevens.”
“Got it sir.” Lynsay smiled, saluting him. Phillip laughed as he watched her get out of the car and hurry down the alley. He arrived at the command center, hoping that the child was as quick-witted as he anticipated.

Once inside, Lynsay gave Phillip enough time to arrive and begin distracting Bingham; she and William anxiously waited for some sort of sign. Phillip entered into the main room, which housed a few desks and a communication station, the other three rooms were an evidence processing laboratory, a detaining cell, and a temporary mortuary. Celia was seated at her desk, drumming her fingers; her desk had been stripped of all police paperwork, leaving only her lamp and a cup of pencils. Her badge and pistol had been removed from her possession as well.
“It's about bloody time you got here. I was beginning to worry that something had gone wrong.” she said standing when she saw him.
“Sorry, I had some calls to make and I was a bit late picking Lynsay up. It worked out perfectly because she had finished her search when I arrived.”
“Any sign of Dona yet?”
“No, not yet. But Grace, Emma and Rachel haven't had their turn searching. Don't worry Celia, they'll find her. The child is a master at hiding it seems.”
“God I hope you're right...out of all of them Dona is the most fragile. I would never forgive myself if something happens to her.”
“Well it wouldn't be your fault.” he said, glancing at Bingham who was engrossed in paperwork. “How are you holding up?” he asked
“I'm about ready to go mad, but now that you're here its all well and dandy.” she said, placing her hands on her hips. “Is Lynsay ready?” she whispered.
“Yes, I just have to signal her and we have a but a few moments before Bingham realizes what's going on.”
“Well then hop to it!” she whispered. Bingham had already saw Phillip and was making his way toward him in his usually hulking fashion.
“Delaney, what in bloody hell took you so long?”
“Forgive me sir, I was detained.”
“Piss-poor officer you are.”
“Sir I had some things that I needed to discuss with you regarding the case.” he said, ignoring Bingham's snide remark. Celia sat down and pretended not to have any interest in what was being discussed; taking advantage of Bingham's distraction, she eyed an officer by the door and nodded. He understood and slipped into the corridor to signal William and Lynsay.
“There's Wiggins, he's giving you the okay. Are you sure you can do this?” William said, looking at Lynsay with concern
“I'll be fine Officer Stevens.”
“William, please. It feels weird to have someone close to my age call me 'Officer'.” he smiled
“How old are you?” Lynsay asked, eyebrow raised.
“I'm only eighteen, but I lied so I could get into Scotland Yard. You won't tell no one will you? The only other person that knows is the Captain.”
“Of course not William.” she smiled. “Now go and get the car ready, I have a feeling Dougan and I will have to make haste once I free him.”
“Right Lynsay, be careful okay?” he said, squeezing her hand.
“I will.” she smiled. “Now go!” she laughed. William hurried outside to get the car; Lynsay took a deep breath and quietly crept into the holding cell area.

Dougan was pacing back and forth in his cell, occasionally stopping and resting his arms on the bars. God I hope everyone's alright. This about to drive me mad, sittin' here in this damned cell while they are out searching for Dona. His thoughts were interrupted by a light footstep behind him.
“Lynsay! What in God's name are you doing here?” he said, his voice a little louder than it should have been.
“Will you shut up? Jesus you're going to alert every bloody one here!” she whispered, immediately going to work on the lock.
“How did you manage to get inside? Even with all of the influence Celia has, she's detained.” he asked quietly, wondering where on earth she got the lock picks from.
“Celia only had a little to do with it, Phillip is the one who arranged all of this. It seems he has more pull than Celia does somehow. Now shut up, I need to concentrate. I haven't done this in a while.”
Dougan smiled as she concentrated on the lock, he couldn't help but see, both physically and emotionally, Rachel in her. She's definitely her sister alright. God, I hope Rachel's okay. His thoughts were again interrupted by Lynsay swearing at the lock.
“Goddamnit all to hell!” she said through her teeth, throwing the lock picks back in her satchel.
“My, my does your sister know you have such a mouth?” Dougan smiled.
“No, and if you want to get out of here I suggest you keep that little explosion between us.” she said, taking one of her hairpins out. “Those bloody things aren't worth a damn, I don't know why Phillip even gave them to me.” she said, sticking the hairpin in the lock and wiggling it; the lock soon clicked and the door opened. “I could have saved so much trouble if I had just done this in the beginning.” she smiled, putting the hairpin back in.
“Lynsay you're a bloody genius.” Dougan said, scooping her up in an embrace.
“I am very aware of that.” she laughed. “Now lets hurry, we have to get out of here before Bingham comes.” she said. She gathered up her satchel, what she didn't count on was the strap getting caught on the door. She yanked it off, but the door slipped from her grasp and made a loud clanging noise against the side of the cell.
“Oh...” Dougan began, his eyes wide
“buggar...” Lynsay said, her voice cracking.

It goes without say that, despite Phillip's attempts to deter him, Bingham came pushing by him and was faced with a wide-eyed teenager and a rather pale young man.
“Well, well it seems we have a jail break. Aren't you a clever girl? It's a shame that you went through all of that work only to be thrown back into the cell.”
“Sir you can't do that.” Phillip said stepping between Bingham and the two.
“Delaney you forget your place. I'm to assume that you planned this whole escapade, well you'll be joining them.” he said stepping forward, getting in Phillip's face. “Stand down.”
“I will do nothing of the sort, sir.” Phillip replied through his teeth.
“Then I'll make you!” Bingham said, grabbing Phillips shirt collar.
“Bingham if you don't release him at once, I'll put a new hole in you.” Celia said, clicking the hammer on her pistol. Bingham released Phillip's collar and stared at her in utter astonishment.
“How in bloody hell did you get a gun?! Yours is locked up in my office!”
“You're always bashing on how foolish it is to allow an officer who wears a skirt on the force, you forget that skirts provide an excellent cover-up for another holster.” she smiled
“You conniving bitch! I'll hang you for this!” he said starting towards her. He quickly stopped when she shot a hole in the floor in front of him.
“Watch your tongue Bingham. I meant what I said about putting a new hole in you. Now be a good dog and go to your kennel.” she said gesturing him to the holding cell.
“You won't get away with this, and when I get out you can rest assure that you will pay for it.” he snarled through his teeth. Phillip slammed the door and smiled at him,
“That is, if you can get out. So long old chap! Enjoy your stay!” he replied.

We all had a great laugh at the idea of Richard Bingham fuming in a jail cell, outwitted by a bunch of so-called misfits.
“That's positively brilliant! Oh when Lynsay gets back I am going to take her shopping and buy her a new dress, she's definitely earned it.” I laughed.
“I have to say, I would have so liked to see Richard Bingham's face when Captain Thomas shot at the floor in front of him. He must have nearly soiled himself.” Emma giggled.
“I'm sure he did.” Gavin laughed. “Well Phillip radioed me a few moments ago and said that the weather has gotten rather beastly, so it may delay them but they should be here in under an hour.”
“That's wonderful! Well I should probably go out and search for Dona then.” I replied, taking the satchel with the radio and wrapping my shawl around me.
“Rachel are you sure you want to? It's so dreadful out, why not wait until Officer Delaney arrives with the Captain?” Emma said.
“Oh bollocks, you said yourself there's a only a handful of places she could be. Besides it probably won't take me very long, and I don't like the thought of her out there all alone in this ghastly weather. I shan't be long, I promise.” I said
“Be careful Miss Winter, Phillip said there's a possibility of flooding. So watch your step around the creek.” Gavin said
“I will. I'll radio if I need any help.” I said.

With that I began my search for Dona, rather hopeful that I would find her. My optimism is the only thing that kept me going that day, and even now as I'm telling you this I am very grateful to have had it. I would soon discover the one thing that had the power to take it away from me.