Archive for the ‘A Following Wind’ Category

A Study in Green, introducing Shadrack Bones

Front cover of a Following Wind click on the link to order from Amazon.

Shadrack Bones made his first appearance in the excellent Whittlesey Wordsmiths collection A Following Wind, in the story:

A Study in Green

A Shadrack Bones Mystery

Philip Cumberland

Shadrack Bones, the consulting detective, and his assistant, Dr Wilkins, waited patiently at Leeds Aerodrome to board the aircraft taking them to Guernsey. There can’t be many steam-powered Zeppelins still in service, thought Bones, now that we have the internal combustion engine.

The stewardess made her way along the line of passengers. Her bustle didn’t seem that fashionable to Bones but, on reflection, ladies’ fashion was not something he studied unless it related to an ongoing investigation.

“You will have to put out the pipe, Sir,” said the stewardess. “There is no smoking allowed on the aircraft.”

Turning to Dr Wilkins, she said, “You will have to put that cigar out too, Madam.”

The irony of being told that they couldn’t smoke on a steam-powered Zeppelin whilst waiting as coal was being loaded was not lost on Bones.

“Look at that, Wilkins. They’re loading coal to power this thing, burning it by the ton, and yet we can’t smoke.”

“Actually its coke, Bones; it’s lighter than coal.”

“But they still burn it to fire the boilers, don’t they, Wilkins?”

“That’s true, but these are remarkable engines. They are a form of lightweight turbine; the boilers are extremely efficient and use a revolutionary condensing system. They were cutting-edge when they came into service. I read the paper by Professor Deitrich Stromm earlier.”

Dr Wilkins was not only a Doctor of Medicine but had a doctorate in mechanical engineering; her PhD was on advanced thermodynamics. Bones appeared totally to ignore the fact that Dr Amy Wilkins was a woman. Though she was attractive, Bones seemed only interested in her mind, a fact Amy Wilkins found very frustrating, as she loved Bones dearly.

After a relatively short interval, a tall man in a German style military uniform, with peaked cap, riding breeches, jackboots and wearing a monocle, strode up and boarded the aircraft. The passengers boarded next; there were twelve including Bones and Wilkins.

Whilst they were waiting to take off, Bones turned to Wilkins and said, “That paper you read by Stromm, was it in German?”

“Yes, why?”

“I didn’t know you spoke German.”

“I know it reasonably well. I am more fluent in Russian and Italian.”

“You have hidden depths, Wilkins.”

Yes, thought Wilkins. To you, my femininity is perhaps the most hidden.

The trip was uneventful. They took on more coke south of Canterbury but that was the only break in their journey.

Bones and Wilkins were investigating the loss of Cuttleworth’s secret gravy recipe. It had disappeared on a recent trip to Guernsey. Lord Jericho Cuttleworth was the owner of a successful chain of fast-food restaurants. Cuttleworth’s Pie and Pudding Emporiums sold a pie, baked potato and carrots together with a mug of tea for threepence. Their trademark strapline was, “The secret is in the gravy”. Yorkshire’s most famous son was troubled by the loss of his gravy recipe. Although he knew it off by heart, the thought of it falling into the hands of his rivals frightened him.

Retracing the steps of Lord and Lady Cuttleworth’s recent trip to Guernsey, they were using the same airline, staying at the same hotel and occupying the same room. For the purpose of the investigation, Dr Wilkins was travelling as Mrs Bones, wearing her late mother’s wedding ring for the journey.

The aerodrome at St. Peter Port in Guernsey was small and close to the town. The journey to their hotel, The Victor Hugo, took fifteen minutes by horse and trap.

Bones helped Wilkins down from the trap and they signed in. Dr. Wilkins found signing as Mrs A Bones very odd. They were shown to their room by a maid who appeared to be in her late teens. Once they were in the room and the maid had departed, Wilkins turned to Bones.

“This won’t do, Bones; we are sharing a room as man and wife but are unmarried.”

“Why is that a problem, Wilkins? You are a medical man – sorry, woman. You have seen enough of the male body in your time, I have seen all too many of our species of both sexes in all states of disarray.”

“But it isn’t right, Bones.”

“Very well. I will marry you when we return to London. I can hardly do it here, since we are, as far as the hotel is concerned, already married.”

“Is that a proposal, Bones?”

“Well, you brought the subject up. Do you want me to marry you or not?”

“Very well, but you hardly seem to notice me: certainly not as a woman.”

“You are four foot eleven and a half inches tall. Your boots, size four, have two-and-a-half inch heels, which bring your height to five foot two. You have brown eyes and dark brown hair, which you have cut short at Mr Andrews’ barber shop in Jerome Street every four weeks. Your hair is kept short so that it cannot catch in machinery when you are working as an engineer. You have small strong hands, normally you wear nothing on your hands or wrists, so that there is nowhere for dirt to accumulate or anything to be caught in machinery. You keep your nails short; your hands are kept clean by rubber gloves when you work. You normally wear your mother’s wedding ring on a fine gold chain around your neck. Your bust is about thirty-five inches, your waist uncorseted twenty-five inches; your hips are wide – about thirty-six and a half inches – allowing for easy childbirth. You generally wear black silk stockings, which you buy from Mrs Rogers in Regent Street. Oh, and you have a tiny chip on the corner of your front right-hand tooth, probably caused by the rebound of a hammer.”

“A spanner slipped. It wasn’t a hammer that chipped the tooth, and it was very painful.”

“I didn’t mention your mind. Yours is the finest I have ever encountered; when we age, when our youth and looks have fled, we will still have our minds.”

“Thank you, Bones.”

“Right. Now let’s get back to the case in hand. Lord Cuttleworth said he hid the formula behind a panel in the base of the wardrobe. He always carries a special pocket knife which has a screwdriver blade.”

Bones produced a large magnifying glass from his case, dropped to his knees, and inspected the bottom of the wardrobe. The front panel was secured by two large screws.

“Have you brought your tool kit with you Wilkins?” asked Bones.

Wilkins produced a small red leather case from her handbag and handed it to Bones. He opened it and removed the screwdriver. The screws were not tight, and Bones guessed this was a well-used hiding place.

“We could do with a light Wilkins.”

“I have a small electric torch: a prototype. Mr Etherington gave it to me. It has a small spring-powered dynamo to produce the power.”

Wilkins reached into her capacious handbag. Removing the torch, she released a catch and passed the torch to Bones. The torch began to make a whirring noise, producing a bright beam of light from one end. Bones shone the torch into the space beneath the wardrobe.

“Aha!” he exclaimed. “Look at this, Wilkins.”

The intricacies of Wilkins wardrobe made it difficult for her to get down on the floor next to Bones, but she managed it nonetheless.

“Look to the left, towards the back at the floorboards, Wilkins.”

“I see. One appears to be loose; there is a gap around it and it extends into the next room.”

“Quite so. Pass me the screwdriver again please, Wilkins.”

Wilkins passed Bones the screwdriver; Bones paused and turned to Wilkins.

“We had better find out if the room next door is unoccupied before we do any more.”

Wilkins stood up and went to the door. “I will check.”

Wilkins knocked on the door of the adjacent room. Getting no response, she checked the door. It was locked. She relayed this information to Bones before walking downstairs to the hotel reception. There was no one at the desk and the register lay open in full view.

Surreptitiously she rotated the register and quickly checked the occupants at the time Lord and Lady Cuttleworth were staying. A Mr Houghton was occupying the adjacent room; his address was given as 15 Atkinson Street, Hyde in Cheshire. The room appeared to be unoccupied at present.

She spun the book back around just before the hotelier reappeared at the desk.

The hotelier, a Mr Morose, was a shortish grey-haired man. He was, Wilkins guessed, in his late sixties. A copy of The Times lay open on the desk near the register, the crossword uppermost – all of it filled in.

“My husband and I wondered if the view of the harbour would be better from the room next door to ours; is it currently occupied?”

“Not at the moment, Madam.”

“Would it be in order for us to have a look?”

“I can’t see any difficulty in that,” said the hotelier and handed Wilkins the room key.

Once in the adjacent room, Bones was quickly on his hands and knees in the right-hand corner. He pulled back a rug and located the suspect floorboard that extended under the wall. Using Wilkins’s screwdriver, he unscrewed the single screw securing the floorboard and removed it. He was then able to reach into the space under the wardrobe next door. He quickly replaced the floorboard and, after retightening the screw, replaced the rug.

They viewed the harbour together from the window, Bones putting his arm round Wilkins waist – the first time he had made any physical contact apart from the shaking of hands. Wilkins moved closer in response.

“We know how it was done and roughly when it was done but not yet by whom, and we don’t know where the recipe is now,” said Bones.

“What about Mr Houghton who occupied this room whilst Lord and Lady Cuttleworth were staying here?”

“We can’t discount him, but my money is on a member of the hotel staff. Lord Cuttleworth said he used a small piece of Plasticine as a seal on the wardrobe panel, and that hadn’t been disturbed.” Bones continued, “It is my guess that a member of staff, knowing when both rooms were unoccupied, took advantage of the situation and removed the recipe. It is unlikely that Houghton would know of the special floorboard, whereas a member of staff either knew of the floorboard or arranged it.”

“What do you propose to do, Bones?”

“Setting a trap would seem the best option, Wilkins. But we need a speedy result, before the value of the recipe is realised and it falls into the wrong hands – that is, if we are not already too late.”

Later that day, the manager of the hotel signed for a registered package addressed to Mr S Bones, Victor Hugo Hotel, St Peter Port, Guernsey.

The package was handed to Bones as he and Wilkins returned from a walk in town. Once safely inside their room, Bones opened the envelope, peered inside and put it to one side.

“I sent it from London before we left.”

“Why did you do that, Bones?”

“I thought we might need some bait. Look at the sender’s address on the back.”

Wilkins took the envelope, turned it over and read aloud, “Bank of England, Threadneedle Street London.”

Bones opened his suitcase, took out a small jar, removed the lid and poured some of the contents into the envelope. He then resealed the envelope, recapped the jar and replaced it in his case. The wardrobe panel was unfastened. Bones put the package in the compartment and refitted the panel, tightening the screws with Wilkins’ screwdriver.

“What is in the jar, Bones?”

“Sneezing powder, it should give anyone opening the envelope a surprise and alert us at the same time – if we are within earshot.”

Opening his suitcase again, he removed an envelope and several sheets of blank notepaper. He folded the notepaper, placed it in the envelope, and sealed the flap with sealing wax. Taking a pencil from his pocket, he marked the envelope, S Bones. He asked Wilkins to take the package to the desk and ask if it could be deposited in the hotel safe.

After a late supper they retired for the night. Bones was irritated when Wilkins wore her Mrs Edith Spencer’s impenetrables to bed, insisting that Bones could only avail himself of her facilities once they were properly married.

It was at 1.30 am that Bones woke Wilkins, shaking her gently but with his hand over her mouth. He hissed a warning for her to remain quiet. They heard a faint scraping sound, consistent with a floorboard being slid from under the wardrobe. Bones quietly left the bed, putting on his dressing gown over his nightshirt.

Anticipating such an event, Bones had earlier removed the two screws securing the panel under the wardrobe. He now dropped to his knees and, swiftly removing the panel, reached into the compartment and grasped the wrist he found there.

Wilkins bounded out of bed and raced into the next room. The moonlight streaming in from the uncurtained window revealed the silver-haired hotelier lying prone on the floor.

She grabbed a copper warming pan, fortunately empty and cold, from the bed and swung it hard down on the hotelier’s head, knocking him out cold.

Bones, hearing the bang and feeling the wrist go limp, got up from the floor and joined Wilkins in the adjacent room.

“Well done, Wilkins.”

“I think if we are to be married you should start calling me Amy, Shadrack.”

“Very well, Wilkins – sorry, Amy.”

The hotelier started to regain consciousness, groggily removed his arm from the floorboards, and sat up. Bones demanded the return of Cuttleworth’s gravy formula.

“I don’t know what you are talking about,” he said.

“The game’s up, Mr Morose. Dr Wilkins is a crossword expert too and has completed today’s Times crossword.”

“I still don’t understand what you are alleging.”

“She is also a cryptologist, often employed by the British government.”


“The key to the code was MrHoughton15AtkinsonStreet. It has twenty-six characters, the same as the alphabet. She was able to decode the message hidden in the crossword accepting your terms for the sale of the gravy recipe.”

Seeing the game was up, Mr Morose led them to the office and retrieved the recipe from a secret drawer in his desk.

Lord Cuttleworth, overjoyed at the return of his recipe, not only paid Bones and Wilkins a handsome fee plus expenses but also provided the wedding reception at Cuttleworth Hall.

Copyright P W Cumberland 2019.

Standing on the Diving Board

The Front Cover

I am getting close to finishing my book the writing is done and the corrections are well underway. The cover design is nearly finished and I hope to publish very soon.

It is an interesting situation for me to be in, I have had some writing published and been touched that people have enjoyed my work. There is no greater vote of confidence than someone buying your work, no, perhaps there is. A lady picked up a copy of “Where The Wild Winds Blow” at a U3A meeting looked at my name badge and asked if I had written anything in the book she held. When I said I had, she leafed through the book and started reading, “Where does the Pope buy his Frocks?” after a few minutes she was laughing out loud. It was a moment of pure magic for me.

At the moment I have mixed emotions, I want to be finished and published but hesitant, wondering about how much more polishing and tweaking it needs to make it as good as possible.

 I suppose the closest analogy is someone standing on a high diving board for the first time. Edging their way to the end wanting to jump, to dive in but worried that the neatly executed movement they have planned will end in a belly flop.

There is only one way to find out and I will in the next few weeks when I dive in.

In the meantime:

Where Does the Pope Buy His Frocks?

“I often talk to myself, sometimes out loud, mostly though within the confines of my mind. I am not sure whether it is just my way of marshalling thoughts or a rehearsal of how the words may sound when spoken.”

“That’s very interesting Mr Fontain,” said Miss Rogers, my analyst, “But you must realise there are times when sharing your thoughts vocally may not be appropriate.”

“I don’t know, sometimes it can liven up a boring occasion, even make it interesting.”

“It can offend though.”

“No one has the right not to be offended.”

“What about the occasion of the Queen’s visit?”

“All I said was she is not my mum and I wish she would stop sending me begging letters.”

“But why use the megaphone?”

“She was a long way off and I wanted her to hear, I am fed up with her writing to me, I don’t even know the woman. It got a lot of laughs though, a cheer and a round of applause.”

“What about the fight afterwards.”

“The Queen started that, well some of the blokes with her did.”

“The police?”

“They had no right to try and steal my megaphone, it cost me a lot of money. It is a good job the people nearby thought the same, I’ve still got my megaphone thanks to them.”

“Would those people be the Fens Republicans?”

“I think some of them might be, I know a couple come from Ely, some from Chatteris and at least one from Huntingdon.”

“The Queen had to cut short her visit because of the fighting; a lot of people were very disappointed.”

“Well, they shouldn’t have started the fights then should they? As I said, no one has the right not to be offended. When I am offended I don’t start fighting people and trying to steal their stuff do I?”

“No, you use your megaphone. What about the visit by the Pope to Cambridge?”

“All I said was I wonder if he got his frock from Marks and Spencer or John Lewis.”

“Through your megaphone wasn’t it?”

“Most people thought it was hilarious. I think even the Pope had a chuckle.”

“That caused more trouble.”

“The police again, trying to nick my megaphone, it was a good job most of the crowd were on my side and I had my bike handy for a swift getaway.”

“The getaway caused problems too didn’t it?”

“The students on their bikes you mean?”

“Yes, they blocked off most of the roads in the city centre to stop the police didn’t they?”

“I heard about that. Again, it was the police causing trouble; you would think they would be chasing criminals wouldn’t you?”

“How on earth did you manage to smuggle you megaphone into Parliament?”

“It wasn’t easy, I had it wrapped up in a parcel and pretended to be a courier delivering it to an MP. Once I was in I got changed and sneaked into the chamber.”

“But why shout out Black Rod stole my elephant?”

“Because what I really feel, what I genuinely believe, I cannot say. My voice is silent on the really important issues – on the lessons we haven’t learned. Mostly, I talk to myself; that audience always listens.”

“Okay, Mr Fontain same time next week. Back to your cell now.”

I am a proud member of Whittlesey Wordsmiths, a writing and publishing Cooperative, you might like to find out more about these books from our collection

Click on the picture to read more or order from Amazon

Front cover of a Following Wind click on the picture to read more or order from Amazon
The Railway Carriage Child. Click on the picture for more information or to order
Witch Way Click on the picture for more information or to order
A year before Christmas click on the picture for more information or to order
Unleash Your Dreams: Going Beyond Goal Setting (NLP, the Law of Attraction, the Universe and You Book 1) by [Stephen Oliver]
Unleash Your Dreams. Click on the picture for more information or to order.

A Guest post from Stephen Oliver

Stephen Oliver's Author Blog

Stephen is a member of our local U3A writing group.

He is an excellent writer. His stories are well written articulate and above all entertaining. Most of Stephen’s work is within the Science Fantasy genre it is always a good read.

Some of his short stories are published by Whittlesey Wordsmiths in their anthologies, Where the Wild Winds Blow and A Following Wind.

Here are Stephen’s thought on Submissions:


I’ve been thinking a lot recently about submissions to agents and publishers, given that I’m sending out three different books and a whole bunch of short stories to them. I have come to several conclusions about how much work is involved, what information you need to know, and how much preparation you need to undertake.

I’ll call the agents and publishers AP’s to shorten the article.

I now have around a dozen different versions of my manuscripts on the computer. Some AP’s want double-spaced, others 1.5 lines spacing. Some want Times New Roman, others Courier New. Some want indented paragraphs, others require no indentation, but want an extra 6 point space at the end of the paragraph. And so it goes.

Then comes the file formats: .txt, .doc, .docx, .rtf., .pdf. Attached to email, embedded within it, or uploaded via the submissions page. In the latter case there are often length limits on the number of words or characters in the upload space, often not stated.

How much do the AP’s want? 5 pages? 10 pages? 30 pages? 3 chapters? 50 pages or 3 chapters, whichever is the shorter? The whole manuscript? (Hurrah, but don’t count your chickens yet; I’ve been rejected at this point, too.)

The bios: short, long, one-liners. How much do they want to know?

Publishing histories; what have you already go out there? Short stories or books? Self-published or traditional?

Social media links. Are you on Facebook? Pinterest? Twitter? Instagram? Are there any interviews available? If so, where? What are the links?

To read the rest of his blog Click on the link:

New Books

I have been helping Wendy Fletcher publish her autobiography The Railway Carriage Child.

The Railway Carriage Child front cover

The Railway Carriage Child

Available on Amazon:

Also launching our Whittlesey Wordsmiths latest offering  A Following Wind.

A following Wind book cover front page white writing

A following Wind

Available on Amazon and Kindle:

I have other stuff I want to post and hope it will happen soon. Work on my novel has stalled but here is a little taste of one of the chapters.

Wednesday again

Whilst eating his breakfast, Arnold thought back to an incident that occurred earlier that year, during the dark winter months.

After a few minutes thought, he had it firmly in his mind: recalling events as if it were a video playing out before him – not just as an observer, but as an actor in the scene.

It had been dark when he’d slid out of bed. Whether he was woken by the urge to empty his bladder, habit, or an inbuilt alarm he was never sure, but he had always been an early riser.

He had pulled the dressing gown around his naked torso and tied the belt. It was tighter now than when his wife had first given it to him, a forgotten number of years ago. It had probably shrunk in the wash. She had been dead now five – or was it six years? He needed a new one, certainly a larger one, but keeping it was keeping something of her, no matter how illogical or tenuous the connection.

Returning from the bathroom, he had pulled the edge of the bedroom curtain aside and looked out of the window of his flat onto a frosty King Street below, recalling frosted windows of his childhood with thick ice on the inside and cold lino under bare feet.

A cuppa is required, he’d thought, making his way to the small kitchen. Returning a few minutes later with a mug of hot strong tea, he looked again through the window. A few people were making an unenthusiastic journey to work on foot muffled against the cold in thick coats, hats, gloves and scarves. A solitary student cycled gingerly down the icy road, a college scarf flapping about him.

After returning to the kitchen for a session with the toaster, he had returned to the window, the curtains now pulled further open, a plate of hot buttered toast in one hand. He had demolished half a slice when movement in the street below caught his attention; two young men were attacking a third. He grabbed his trousers. Stepping clumsily into them, he fastened them at his waist then carefully, despite his haste, zipped them up. Zipping the fly when not wearing underpants can be a painful experience for the unwary. He’d stepped into his shoes, shuffling further into them as he ran. Bugger it was cold.

He stumbled down the stairs, ran into the street and reached the fracas.

One man was holding the victim whilst the other thumped him in the face and stomach, so engrossed in their assault that they didn’t see Arnold approach. He grabbed the thumper by the ear and twisted it viciously then, as the man turned, he hit him square on the jaw, knocking him out cold.

The other assailant released the victim, undecided whether to run or fight. Too late, he aimed a punch at Arnold who retaliated with a swift kick in the groin that doubled him up and stopped all thought.

Arnold had turned to the victim. “Are you okay?”

“I think so.”

“Have you got a mobile phone?”


“Right, dial this number.” Arnold dictated a number.

He turned to the two on the floor, one in the foetal position, the other showing signs of regaining consciousness.

“You are both under arrest for assault. You do not have to say anything…”

Their victim handed Arnold the phone. “It’s ringing,” he said weakly, then sat down on the frosty path.

The desk sergeant had answered the call.

“Chief inspector Lane here. Can you send a car to Kings Street and an ambulance? There has been an assault and I have arrested two assailants. For Christ’s sake hurry; I am bloody freezing.”

The car had turned up about ten seconds after the ambulance. The victim was taken in the ambulance, the two villains in the car. Arnold told the two constables he would sort out the paperwork when he reported for duty.

He was about to return to his flat when he saw something in the gutter on its edge against the kerb: a tiny plastic box. It turned out to contain an SD card – familiar now, but unknown to him at the time. He had picked up the box and slid it into the pocket of his dressing-gown to be inspected later.

Breaking from his reverie, Arnold wondered what on earth he had done with it.

He remembered he had gone into Marks and Spencer that same day and treated himself to a new, thicker dressing gown. He had nearly bought himself a pair of slippers too but resisted that temptation. He hadn’t thrown away his old dressing gown: the attachment to his late wife stopped him from doing so.

Presumably, the plastic box and its contents were still in the pocket of his old dressing gown. He wondered how he could have forgotten the box and then remembered the armed bank robbery.

The news had come in as he returned to Parkside later that day, after his lunch and shopping expedition. He had very nearly lost his new dressing gown in the confused response.

Commandeering a pillion seat on a motorcycle – the police driver nearly threw a fit at Arnold’s lack of crash helmet – they had made their way to the bank.

It worked; they reached Cherry Hinton before the squad cars. The getaway driver, seeing the police motorcycle, bravely drove off, abandoning his colleagues to their fate. Arnold sent the motorcycle driver after the getaway car and looked around for something to use as a weapon.

There is never any shortage of bicycles in Cambridge. Arnold found one leaning against the wall of the bank although chained, the padlocked chain immobilised the back wheel against the frame, without securing it to the building. He had stood close to the doorway, gripping the bicycle by the back wheel. As the first man came through the door, holding a shotgun, Arnold swung the bike, knocking the shotgun barrel into the man’s face causing him to pull the trigger. The gun discharged into the air, the second man tripped over the first and both fell into a heap at the bottom of the stone steps. Arnold threw the bike down on top of them, picked up the shotgun and covered the two men with it.

“You two you are nicked. Do not move.”

At that moment two squad cars skidded to a halt outside the bank, sirens blaring and blue lights flashing. A number of visibly shaken bank staff and customers appeared at the Bank’s door. Assured that there were no other robbers on the premises, Arnold asked them to remain inside. Adrenaline had kept the cold at bay on the back of the motorcycle and during the action but, as the robbers were led away, Arnold became aware of the chill of the day.

It was dark and frosty again when he returned to Parkside. He’d decided to call it a day and remembered his new dressing gown, eventually tracking it down in lost property. He slithered home on the icy paths. Once there, he had folded up the old dressing gown and placed it in the bottom of his wardrobe, without giving any further thought to the small plastic box.

He wondered if it was still there.

It was amazing how much clutter you collect, he mused as he removed books, DVDs and a couple of new unopened shirts before finding his old dressing gown. The small plastic box was in the left-hand pocket. Arnold held up the dressing gown. Definitely past its best he thought, viewing the threadbare collar and frayed cuffs, but he refolded it and returned it to the wardrobe. He still could not bear to part with it.

After replacing the other items in the wardrobe, he turned his attention to the plastic box and its contents.

He turned the SD card over in his fingers. It had a maker’s name and 64 GB on it. There was no other marking on card or box. It could be a new card, he thought.

His tea was now cold. He made a fresh cup and sat down to drink it whilst thinking. Abruptly he rose again, carrying his tea to the bathroom.

Eight o’clock saw him at his desk, Marvin open in front of him open and switched on; a cup of coffee to one side. The screen lit up with a message.

“Good morning Inspector Lane, you have an SD card you want me to look at; place it in the slot.”

Arnold did as instructed and waited.

“Not something I can make sense of I am afraid; the code is unknown to me.”

As text filled the screen, Arnold thought back to his meeting with Sylvia Miller the previous day, and her description of the time machine.

Marvin typed, “Could be, we really need those passwords.”

Arnold thought some more. Might it have some connection with the time machine?

The words appeared on the screen.

“I don’t know; I only store and process data. I receive some of that data by way of thoughts; otherwise it comes to me electronically through computer networks and the internet. If I don’t have access to that information, I can’t process it. There is information on the card which can only be accessed with the right passwords; until we have them, I can’t unlock it.”

Trying a different tack, Arnold thought about the disappearance of William Miller. He ran the information through his mind, hoping that Marvin could offer some insight.

Marvin responded. “It could involve a time machine, yes. I understand your thinking, but we need more information. Here is Sergeant Drew with your coffee, Good morning Sergeant Drew.”

Roger put the coffee on the corner of Arnold’s desk next to the earlier mug, now empty. He glanced at the screen and stood sipping his tea.

Arnold looked up at him.

“Thanks, Roger. Do you remember the armed bank robbery in Cherry Hinton earlier this year?”

“The one with the weaponised bicycle?”

“That’s the one. Earlier that day I arrested two lads who were beating the living daylights out of another in Kings Street. Could you find out who the victim was? How he was connected to the two who were beating him up?”


“Yes please.”

Roger picked up his tea and walked to his desk. Arnold turned back to his notebook looking for another line of enquiry. Drawing a blank on that front, he checked through messages on post-it notes stuck to his office computer screen, none particularly urgent.

Just as Arnold reached reluctantly for the expenses sheets that had magically multiplied since he last looked, Roger returned.

“My word, Roger, that was quick.”

“The two yobbos are known to us with plenty of previous; the victim though may be of interest.”


“One Justin Black, employed at Plantagenet Software.”

“Is there any connection to these two villains? It was early in the day for those types to be about.”

“They were on the way home from a night out apparently, both the worse for drink. Just an opportune mugging, it seems – something they both have form for.”

“Was Mr Black okay?”

“He seems to be; we heard nothing more from him. The two you sorted out pleaded guilty at the magistrate’s court and got three months apiece.”

“Do we have an address for Mr Black?”

“There is nothing with his details.”

“What about a phone number? I know he had a mobile.”

“No, nothing listed.”

“I will have someone’s guts for garters. Okay, I will phone Plantagenet and have a chat with Mr Black to see if he lost anything at the time.”

Roger returned to his desk Arnold picked up his phone and punched in the now familiar numbers for Plantagenet Software. Once connected he asked the receptionist if he could speak to Justin Black.

Justin Black had left earlier that year, about a month after he was attacked.



A Following Wind

Front book cover for A Following WInd

A following Wind front cover

Our U3A Creative Writing Group, Whittlesey Wordsmiths, is working on a new book, a follow up to Where the Wild Winds Blow, our first very successful attempt at writing and publishing. This new volume has the title: A Following Wind.

I am working on a new front cover for the book, something that conveys both a movement by wind and our Fenland landscape. Over the years I have managed to take photographs of what is for many people the defining feature of our landscape, the skies. Often at their most breathtakingly beautiful during sunrise and sunset.

The cover may be slightly different depending on the template restrictions but please take a look at it and let me have your feedback.

Kim's Musings

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