“Where,” she demanded, “where has she gone? where has she gone? where has Gertie gone? Where, where, where has she gone?” and as Professor Sir Clement Dane, or at least one of them, blinked, Isa continued: “has she gone with him? has she gone with him? has she gone with Pan? has she gone with him? has she really, truly, gone with him?” and she shook him again – she felt like Alice shaking the kitten! “spit it out, man, you must tell me what you know, or think you know, it's a matter of Life and Death!” and he blushed, and stammered: “I'm rather afraid it's more than that, Isa, my dear, much, much, more than that, more than a matter of Life and Death, in fact, it's even more than Football!” and even as he said it he could almost feel Bill Shankly's eyes piercing him, from The Great Dug-out in The Sky, and he blushed to the top of his shiny domed head, took hold of Isa's arm and pulled her away from the house, lest Aunty Crist or one of the lodgers might hear his hissing: “you know that The Eildon Hills are a magical place, a meeting point for Ley Lines which run from all over the Earth and where past and present merge? remember Jasmine's theory about Quantum Collisions, about Past, Present and Future all happening at the same time, everywhere – surely a better explanation of glimpses of ghosts than any supernatural mumbo-jumbo? don't you ever get the feeling of being watched when there's no-one there? of hearing music, when there's no-one there? or of something or someone brushing against you when there is definitely no-one there? haven't you always sensed something like that? you do know that, don't you?” and he stared into Isa's eyes, until: “no, I can't say that I did, but I do now, cos you've telt me,” the sterling WPC quipped, and Dane gripped her tighter, until a shadow fell across his hand and he relaxed his grip, and turned to see the other Sir Clement standing hard by: “you'll just have to tell her now, or if you won't, I will,” said the second Dane; and Isa turned the full force of her famous Death Stare on to him, which may be why he took a couple of steps backwards, leaving the goalmouth to yawn before his other self, who coughed, hesitated, and then said: “your Uncle Pantagruel has gone back to 1938 and it's all my fault, I'm the one who had been telling him about some of my dearest friends and not a few relations – almost my entire family in fact,” and the other interjected: “and mine too, don't forget,” but was shooed away by whichever Dane was closest to Isa, who then continued, “our entire family, almost, between Dachau. Buchenwald, Auschwitz and Belsen, all gone, ashes to ashes, and you see, dear Isa, he said that he felt guilty for doing nothing about it when he had the chance, in 1938, when Daisy went home to help Dandy organise Duncansby's wedding and Pan took a month from his work at the Foreign Office and went to Arabia, travelling and site seeing; he said that he should have made better use of his one opportunity to have a direct effect on History, instead of just reading about it - Future History, he meant; and he said, just yesterday, that he'd made up his mind to do what he should have done that summer, that he believed he had found a way of using the power of The Eildons and a psychotropic drug he'd been experimenting with to enable him to make contact with his younger self to that end,” and Isa stared at him: “are you mad? are you absolutely bonkers? are you saying he's gone to travel back in time to do something bloody dangerous? and the same thing has happened to Gertie?” and now both Sir Clement Danes reached for her hands and said together: “look at us!” and did a little dad-dance which would have been funny if Isa's mind wasn't whirling with the hurly-burly of all this new and fantastic information – had the same thing happened to Tavish, and Tammy and Bernie – to one of these two whirling dervishes and the Americans from Vietnam? it was all so impossible, yet it was terribly real, as she watched the two Danes jig and jump to some kind of internal, shared, rhythm, the very antithesis of the nonpareil she had always believed human beings to be: they weren't twins they were the same person, it was madness but also, unbearably true! and she was overcome by a dolorous longing for Gertie, acutely aware of her own responsibility for the welfare of her young cousin and Trainee WPC – “some mentor I am,” she muttered bitterly, wondering what would happen to the girl and if she would ever see her again – and then a sudden idea struck her!
“Now the hurly-burly's done, now the battle's lost and won . . . . .” the words of MacBeth's three witches ran like a worm through Isa's brain as she tried to take it all in; the sense of kvell she had experienced when the paramedics collected Gertie, and said that she's saved the young Trainee WPC's life had gone, and gloom settled on her shoulders like a mandilion, but not keeping out the chill, rather, retaining it within her body just as it had entered, when she heard her phone ring, followed by Jasmine's voice, distant and hollow, putting an end to the jamboree: “she's gone, Isa! wee Gertie's gone!” and Isa had dropped the phone, hearing it break as it hit the concrete path outside Aunty Crist's back door; shock had frozen her, mind, body and soul and it took a few moments to realise that Aunty Crist had come out and was speaking to her: “it's Jasmine at the BGH, she can't reach you on your phone,” and Isa looked down to the broken mobile at her feet, almost automatically, without any thought, she took the landline receiver her Aunt was holding out to her: “hello, Jasmine, it's me,” and Jasmine began speaking rapidly: “Isa, they don't know where she is – she'd been in a cubicle, while they were waiting for blood results from the lab, but when the nurse went in, she'd gone, gone away!” and the full import began to hit Isa, “gone away? what do you mean?” and Jasmine spoke in a rush: “she's not there, she must have woken up and left, no-one saw her, a couple of your constables are searching and one of them has been looking at the CCTV in Security, it looks like she managed to get out through the back of the hospital and was last caught on camera heading towards The Eildons!” Isa's heart skipped a beat: “but she's alive?” and Jasmine laughed nervously: “very much so, but she's out there somewhere and no-one knows where!” which was when one of the Professor Danes appeared and approached the confused WPC: “Isa,” he said gently, “I'm the one who saw Pan after he left the house, and I think I know where he's gone – although it's more a case of when he's gone to!” and Isa lost control, she grabbed him by the lapels and shook him: “my cousin Gertie has gone too,” she yelled, “has she gone with him?”
But too late! Gertie almost automatically put her finger into her mouth and sucked the blood, and then everything happened so quickly: Gertie gave a little shudder and slumped to the side, quickly losing consciousness; “call an ambulance,” cried Isa to Jasmine, sliding Gertie to the floor and beginning CPR, her locked hands pumping up and down on Gertie's chest, while Jasmine, galvanised into action dialled 999 and gave the operator details of what was needed; Gertie was still unconscious when the paramedics arrived and took over, quickly loading her onto their gurney and wheeling her out to the ambulance parked just outside the front door; Jasmine went with their young cousin as Isa, still in shock at what had happened, cordoned off Aunty Crist's study and waited for the SOCOs to arrive, which was a brief wait – the team was already nearby, waiting for the planned entry into the Cavern which sonar had predicted would be found once the entry point on the shoulder between the two largest hills had been breached – although, after the hurly-burly, time seemed to stretch and she could almost fancy she was seeing the chyron that passes subliminally at the bottom of a tv screen but she couldn't grasp what the meanings were; Isa didn't care that there would now be a delay in the process of entering the Caves, she needed urgent answers to the questions thrown up by the discovery of a hypodermic needle under the chair in which both Gertie and Sir Pantagruel had been sitting so very recently – what had it contained? who had put it there (presumably originally penetrating the chair from below) and was it intended that Pan would have sat on it? and, just as importantly – why? her head reeling with questions, and while she waited for them, Isa sat outside on the doorstep, sipping at a fresh coffee given to her by her ever-benign Aunty Crist, and smoking a less-benign cigarette while aware of the alliaceous scent of wild garlic drifting from the kitchen garden; Pan must have been the intended victim – but who knew that he was coming? that he would sit there? and anyway, where on earth is he now? and was Gertie's question to Jasmine about the double-chiming clock really so irrelevant? And why had Jasmine referred to it as a MacGuffin?
And meanwhile, back in Melrose, where the hue and cry had sent searchers scouring the lower slopes of The Eildons, the back gardens of Dingleton Hill and all the way up to the old Dingleton Hospital, now a very select housing development – with flats in the original hospital buildings that for several generations had been a byword in modern psychiatric treatment and success, while the extensive grounds where, in yesteryear, patients could wander freely along wooded lanes to gather tussie-mussies to brighten their wards, or admire the reflections in Dingleton Loch, are now the location for expensive family homes - with no sign of Sir Pantagruel MacFarlane; and in Aunty Crist's study, Jasmine Juniper-Green is beside herself, frantic, distressed and oft-times incoherent: “yes he was here . . . . at nine o'clock . . . . . at ten to nine . . . . . he seemed to have a stroke . . . . . and then he disappeared . . . . . at nine o'clock , , , , , the clock struck nine, twice , , , , , the only way out was through the window . . . . . Professor Dane saw him in the garden . . . . . after the clock struck nine and then before it struck nine again . . . . . maybe ten minutes later . . . . . after the Professor went back out to look for him,” and the attentive WPC Isa Urquhart looked up from her notebook and glanced at the bubbly Trainee WPC Gertie Mountcastle who took up the baton: “has it ever happened before, to your own knowledge, personally?” and Jasmine thumped the arms of her chair, staring wildly at her two cater-cousins as if they were rather zany extras from Central Casting: “not to my own personal knowledge, no, I've never heard it do that, why? do you think it's a MacGuffin?” at which Gertie blushed to her roots and dropped her pen and when she reached down for it, felt something prick her finger and she squealed, raising her hand to see a drop of blood well up from the surface of her skin and drip to the carpet, Isa knelt and shone her torch under the chair and spotted the needle beside Gertie's pen, “don't!” she cried out and Gertie, he finger raised to her lips and about to suck it looked down, eyes wide in astonishment!”
The plan was simple and basic, but therefore easy to agree: Pan was due to take a month's leave; while Daisy intended to spend it helping her sister Dandy in making preparations for their brother Duncansby's wedding, while Pan had intended visiting Arabia to further his studies of the region's political and economic structure, perhaps also taking in some of the archaeological sites he had missed on previous trips; that would leave him free to slip into Germany incognito – he would carry a passport identifying him as his twin sister Palestrina, who had died in infancy, a disguise he had used many times before since first adopting it at Cambridge, but had abandoned after meeting and falling in love with Daisy Dalmuir; oh, it wasn't that he had consciously chosen to be exclusively heterosexual, no, that would be too big an ask for any young man with cosmopolitan tastes, for he had thoroughly enjoyed the many affairs he had had with other men, particularly the married men who denied their bisexuality, and he always felt a particular glow of pride – whoever said it was a sin obviously knew nothing about being picked up in a bar and taken to an expensive hotel for some vigorous love-making (and although he knew that was simply a euphemism for hard shagging, especially when the men were strangers whom he was unlikely to ever see again) so what did they know? but he had, over his four years at university, acquired a small stable of about a dozen stallions: from the hoity-toity English don, Professor Marmaduke Manners who liked to quote Shakespeare while having sex, to the rather strange entomologist, Doctor Richard Dick (and his pride at being named 'Dick Dick') with his fascination for dung beetles and their peculiar life cycle which, in his own way, he loved to emulate, and even Sir Hector MacMurdo bart (“don't forget his baronetcy,” said Philippa, the boy who shared rooms, clothes and, occasionally, men with Pantagruel) with his dread of a fatal diagnosis and iatrogenic tendency to manifest whatever symptoms his doctor might mention in the course of one or other of their weekly appointments, and then recount in detail to Palestrina while deeply embedded in her, on the verdure of Acorn Hill which had been rolled flat by their passion; all these married men who had fucked her regularly, whenever they could escape from their other, usually family, obligations; but, since Daisy, he had relinquished his Palestrina persona and had not missed her, until now, and he wondered if his motivation for this forthcoming escapade was truly selfless, an attempt to clear his mind of those disquieting imaginings by ridding the world of perhaps the most evil and dangerous man in it, and of sparing the lives of the millions who would otherwise die because of him, or, in all honesty, the excitement of the possibilities for sex with some more strangers before settling down into the life of a civil servant, a middle class family man, perhaps even becoming a father – the idea of which he still found slightly ridiculous, with his own knowledge of himself; if indeed he survived this highly secret and dangerous mission, for he would have no back-up, had never had any training in either espionage nor sabotage, with only Professor Dane – who had never been one of his lovers, despite their close friendship, or maybe because of that – as an ostensibly casual acquaintance on the trip, but otherwise alone and dependent solely upon his own wits, his ability to charm the pants off a goodly number of men – not one of whom had complained, on finding that beneath the skirts and frocks she wasn't the girl they'd expected, for he had learned well how to make up fully for what he lacked with the dexterity and skill by which he employed those facilities he did possess, combined with an innate and overwhelming desire to ensure the pleasure of the men to whom he gave his body totally, completely and with utter abandon – he fully realised that he may never return home nor see Daisy again; but his visions had been so horrific, so visceral, that he knew the only way he could expunge them would be to do his damnedest to prevent them becoming reality, even if that meant dying in the course of the attempt; so he packed Palestrina in the luggage he would be travelling with and sent it on ahead, for he would exchange that for the cases Daisy had packed for him and when he reached Clement's flat would shed his Pantagruel identity and adopt that of Palestrina; and then he would be she until she had achieved what she intended, for she did not consider failure as an acceptable alternative!
And from the verandah, still able to see Daisy and her friends gambolling on the lawn, Pantagruel MacFarlane listened to his friend's stories about the experiences of the Jews in Nazi Germany: this was very different from the picture painted by the Foreign Secretary, Lord Dalmuir and the officers on the German Desk who clearly all read the same reports and newspapers as Dalmuir and voiced the same opinions, a united front, rather than the obtuse argle-bargle which might be heard from other stations in the building and while Pan's own responsibility was Arabia, he nonetheless felt a tug in his mind, a dark stain like a bottle of ink knocked over, the stain spreading out from Central Europe and extending from the Atlantic Coast to The Bosphorus and turning the whole of Europe red, but not the same red as Bolshevik Russia, this was the deeper red of blood and a study of the vexillology of Europe might show that all of the National Flags had been replaced by the one carrying the Swastika, flying from every flagpole, but that was nonsense, now – though what about then, this future scenario he seemed somehow to be remembering, despite it never having happened: yet; he shook his head to try to clear the shifting sands, and felt Clement's eyes on him: “is there something on your mind, Pan, you look as if you have seen a ghost?”and MacFarlane laughed, “not so definite or tangible as a ghost, it's like a glimpse of a world where the future overlays the present, as if I am seeing what is yet to come, but as if it had already been, like Shelley's Ozymandius, but the legs of the statue rise up to a pair of lederhosen!” so when Clement poured him another drink, Pan gulped it down, trying to wash away the gritty taste of sand in his mouth; suddenly, he took a decision: “if someone got close to Hitler, what should he do?” and clearly Dane was somewhat taken aback by his friend's sudden directness, but only for a heartbeat: “you are rather a dark horse, Pan, but if it were me, I would shoot him between the eyes!”
Blood was racing through Pantagruel's ears making them buzz like a tocsin alarming him to the situation: where were these premonitions coming from? had he suffered a concussion when he collapsed? oh, he knew that some of his colleagues had concerns about the threats they envisaged from the possible directions which the leadership of Germany might take, while others saw Hitler as providing a bulwark against Bolshevism, his own Father-in-Law being of the latter persuasion; why, Lord Dalmuir's eldest son, Duncansby, had invited the Ambassador, Joachim von Ribbentrop, to be a paranymph at his forthcoming wedding to Lady Brunnhilda Lesmahagow, younger daughter of the Duke of Lesmahagow, a well-known Germanophile and frequent visitor to Hitler's retreat in the Bavarian mountains, who ofetn remarked that we are all Saxons anyway and it rankled with MacFarlane, for he knew that Brunnhilda, as a close friend of Daisy, was urging her to join Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascists, along with the Mitford sisters, Diana and Unity, who had been their lifelong chums – all hugger-mugger with these Nasty Nazis, he thought to himself, unable to understand Daisy's blindness to their true natures; and “oh, my God,” he breathed to himself as Albie and Lizzie (he still, two years after the Coronation, thought of them as they had always been known in their social circle) running towards Ribbentrop, clearly a favourite with them, with the two girls and the Queen giving him Nazi salutes - “tribulations, eh?” said Clement Dane, holding a glass of wine out for Pantagruel, who took it gratefully, “you'd expect a bit more decorum from the Windsors now that he's the King Emperor and she's, well, Diamond Lil, I suppose it's fair to say – marry the Number Two and scoop the pool, but maybe she guessed right, or had inside information, d'you suppose?” but Pantagruel couldn't bear to exchange gossip with the academic: “what do you think is going to happen in Europe, Sir Clement? you have many contacts over there?” and Dane looked at his carefully, before speaking: “if you are referring to my Jewish chums, I think they are in for a hard time, the ones who haven't managed, or simply can't afford, to get out: they've already been classified as untermenschen which means they can't own property, run businesses, have no legal rights, have to wear yellow stars, their kids can't go to school, their so-called friends turn their backs or cross the street when they see them coming – it's inhumane and dehumanising, and I tell you this, Pan, it's only the start; but you are in the FO you must know what's going on, surely?” and MacFarlane couldn't meet Dane's searching gaze, and he said: “my Daisy is attracted to that greaseball Mosley's lot – only because some of her friends are in it – and I'm worried for her too,” and Dane lowered his voice, though no-one could hear them anyway: “well, if I were you, Pan, I'd tag along with her, to keep an eye out for her, and my ears pinned well back to see what I might learn; you might even chum some of them over to Berlin, get a first hand view of Herr Fucking Hitler and understand what he's up to, not that I'm trying to teach you how to suck eggs; oh, and if I were you, which of course I'm not, I'd take my old Webley along, just in case, though you might not have one of your own, but then you're not me either, are you Pan?” and this time, Pan and Clement held each other's eyes and it was as if some kind of telepathic communication had taken place, because when they broke eye-contact, Professor Dane slapped Pantagruel on the back and said, “Champers is all very well, but I feel like stiffener, care to join me?” and Pan gave the other a wink and said: “I don't mind if I do,” and speaking quietly, the Professor said, “that little piece you wrote for me yesterday could have done with a bit more proofing, you know, it caused the Dickens of an upset,” and Pan laughed, “sorry about that, my secretary Theresa had a bit too much to drink at the Opera, I don't think she could see straight, told me the words all merged into one,” and this time it was Sir Clement who laughed, “literally true, old chap, only too true!” as they both strolled across the lawn to where Dane knew very well that a nice bottle of Laphraoigh was waiting for them!
When Pantagruel MacFarlane opened his eyes he found himself staring at the sky above, with something celestial eclipsing the sun, until his eyes came back into focus on that object and found it to be the head and face of His Excellency, Joachim von Ribbentrop, German Ambassador to the Court of St James and as his hearing also began to slowly return to normal he could hear the petulant and officious voice of this close personal friend of Reichschancellor Adolf Hitler, whom many, both other Nazis and European diplomats, viewed as an “unwholesome, half-comical figure” whose appointment was considered to be an overslaugh, a reward from the Fuhrer to one of his sycophantic drama llamas who, even now, seemed to be at risk of straining his throat through his application of the undiplomatic theory that the louder one is, the more likely one is to be understood, but eventually he stopped shouting at MacFarlane and pushed a wine glass into the prone Englishman's hands with an injunction to him to quaff from it, saying it was a sweet Rhenish wine “which was not 'alf good,” and Pan dran a coiuple of mouthfyld he realised that Ribbentrop was standing back, grinning like a Cheshire Cat and Pan eventually managed to pull himself up with the did of a supporting table and several willing hands: and once he was on his feet again, he was quick to thank the German Ambassador; which was when he remembered something that he had no knowledge of yet: there would be a Second Worl War, at the end of which Ribbentrop would be tried, convicted and executed for his War Crimes, along with a number of the Nazi leaders, but that Hitler seemed to have either slipped out of his Final Bunker and made his way to South America where there were several sympathetic regimes, or died somehow and his body had then been secretly disposed of!
And while Sir Pantagruel MacFarlane and Jasmine Juniper-Green sipped hot, strong coffee in Aunty Crist's study, by the window which gave them a fine view of The Eildons, and they could see the scattered line of trees which casual observers often took to be processions of walkers making their way slowly up or down the slope, Jasmine said: “Tavish thinks the Cavern might be a creation of GCHQ or the CIA, not that he's thought it all through, but it's the Food Supply Cairn which has him thinking in that direction – the Americans and Professor Dane have spoken of it too, well they think it's been supplied by their Base in Vietnam, which is obviously impossible, but Tavish is wondering who would have the resources to keep it replenished, in different Parallel Universes, at the same time, for different occupants, and the only answer he seems to keep coming up with is a Security Service with the resources and ability to keep the whole project dark, hidden even from it's theoretical Masters; I was wondering, could there be something in it, sir?” and Pantagruel examined her over the rim of his spectacles; she had that quality of terraqueous grit which could both undermine and renovate any tendentiously officious edifice he might construct, like blowing to fragments a castle in the air, in a weak attempt to give a plausible, alternative, answer, to the thought which had struck dear old Tavish, which reminded him of his late wife, dear old Daisy, and he found himself suddenly missing Daisy – Daisy Dalmuir she had been when they'd first met at a Varsity Ball, and he could see her in Jasmine's profile, but of course Jasmine was herself the daughter of the daughter of Daisy's much younger sister, Dandy, and he found himself becoming involved in a reverie, hearing the happy voices, seeing the smiling faces, dancing with the younger girls on the lower lawn in Summer sunshine, walking arms linked with Daisy through the dappled sunlight of the orchard, catching glimpses of the young ones darting in and out as they chased each other through the trees, then emerging at the far side of the upper lawn, to see the whole scene: tables and chairs set out, several parasols to shade the older ladies, servants gliding around with trays and jugs and bottles, and then he suddenly remembered, it was that August of 1937 when the German Ambassador, Herr Ribbentrop, had spent the weekend at Dalmuir House; and as they moved across the lawn, Pantagruel, a relatively junior officer at the Foreign Office, under Daisy's father, Lord Dalmuir, the Foreign Secretary; he noticed that two flags had been hauled up the tall white poles at the far end of the gravelled turning circle below the fine Adam portico and those symbolic twelve wide steps which led up to the main doors: the Union Flag and the German Swastika flew side by side and he felt suddenly nauseous, his head swam, the sun and the trees and the flags seemed to spin around, he staggered and Daisy gripped his hand, he fell to the grass and saw the sky whirling like a wheel before he lost consciousness; which was when Jasmine, startled to hear the mantelpiece clock strike nine, turned her head and noticed him slumped in the chair, his spectacles having fallen to the floor and she jumped to her feet, reached out but could feel no pulse in his neck and ran out, calling for help – and by sheer chance, it was Sir Clement Dane who happened to be coming towards her: “what's the matter, girl? you look like you've seen a ghost!” and Jasmine clutched at his sleeve: “oh, Sir Clement, it's Sir Pantagruel, he's collapsed, just in here and she pushed open the door – the room was in darkness and she ran to the window and threw back the curtains, then looked around; Professor Dane had followed her in and looked around with her, though there was really nothing to see, “who did you say was here, Jasmine? Sir Pantagruel? but I saw him in the garden not two minutes ago, he seemed to be walking towards the back fence, the one with that little gate which lets you out onto the path that winds up The Hills! I'll pop out and see if he's gone far, if not, I'll try to fetch him back,” and he left her standing in shock, which was when the Clock struck nine, for the second time in ten minutes!
“Look Over Later,” explained Sir Pantagruel MacFarlane to Jasmine Juniper-Green, “what else could it mean?” he seemed genuinely puzzled, and Jasmine explained: “well, David Cameron thought it meant Lots Of love, when he texted Rebekah Brookes, but most people use it for Laugh Out Loud, and other acronyms are used for things supposed to be even funnier,” and she saw that Pan was actually blushing, and she realised that he was old enough to be her grandfather, and came from a more chivalrous generation, so quickly turned the conversation to her discoveries in the Journal: “the girl Lolly they met at St Mary of Wedale, what's now Stow, gave them a lot of information about people she met in Bowden, when she was with Ranulph Ochan'toshan – do you know him, sir,” she thought it best to keep this on a professional level, and Sir Pantagruel sighed: “yes, he's a rather slimy toad; he's always managed to wriggle out of things, raising a posse of tame Critics to justify his work as Art, when most people would see it as simply pornographic, or a form of grooming: his subject matter rarely varies – under-age, pre-pubescent girls seemingly filled with adoration for the rich man who has shown an interest in them, despite his looks, or lack of them; I've never been able to understand how these depraved, generally gruesome-looking men can have such a magnetic attraction for young girls – and boys, of course,” and jasmine replied: “it's supposed to be about this 'dark empathy' thing, they show such a lot of interest and fill a void in the child's life, that it must feel like being bathed in a warm glow that sucks the child in and they feel themselves to be the centre of attention, and if, as I've been told, every abusing adult had been an abused child themselves, they will know how it felt for them,” and Pantagruel interjected: “but surely, not every abused child grows up to become an abuser?” and Jasmine quickly said: “not at all, which is what always gives us hope – it's like rescuing youngsters from Cults, every successful rescue is one less potential abuser in the future,” and Pan smiled: “good, then tell me what you've discovered,” and Jasmine told him about Detective Sergeant Larry 'Knickers' Lauderdale, whom she had already confirmed was based at Melrose Police Station; he's got a bit of a reputation as a slyboots, but always avoided getting into serious bother; you know, it's quite incredible to be reading a mediaeval document which actually names people and places which really do exist today; such a corpus as this would knock all those other famous predictions about the future into touch - Nostradamus and Old Moore have nothing on this stuff!” and Pan was taking out his telephone: “I really must get on to DCI Bruse and Sam, this is very serious,” which was when she told him that his ancestor, Sir Parlane, was one of those who had emerged from The Eildons, with both Duncan and Dominic Doubleday and also George Gill, and gone straight to Ochan'toshan's house in Bowden and participated in an orgy in their honour,” and Pan slumped, “with that officious DCC back in post, we have to move very carefully, and Sir Parlane! he's like a malignant semelparous spider, still haunting my family over six hundred years after his death and now – why, it isn't only his past crimes that stain the name MacFarlane, you tell me that he is alive and very active and this feels like my worst nightmare has burst out into the world, real, evil and very, very dangerous!” and Jasmine gave a grin: “according to the Journal, the four from the Cavern arrived at Ochan'toshan's in the afternoon following the Big Bangs, while everyone was welcoming the American soldiers to safety, and the 'orgy' started the same evning and went on for three days, with the local children being ferried in and out on a kind or relay system, while the main particpants remained in the House; Knickers and his wife, or partner, Christiane (birth name: Christie Shirley – which may have been a cause of his, or her, gender dysfunction, but doesn't excuse participation in child sexual exploitation) are both highly visible in village social life, and Lolly says that they have a ready supply of youngsters for Ochan'toshan and his Special Guests; Christiane is also a willing submissive participant, while Lauderdale is a full member of The Golden Ring and does his own share of abuse; but my point is: they are still there and could be arrested before Knickers is able to tip them the Wink!
Later, sharing the kitchen with Boisel and Greta after the children had been put to bed, the four travellers were discussing how they could communicate with their friends in what was now the Future, when Greta said: “write them a letter, or lots of letters,” and then Lolly (she hadn't yet given them her real name) who was proving particularly feisty after her dreadful experiences said, “I can't do all the write letters but I can speak them a story, for in Romania there is such a passel of stories about Fairies and Princessesses all a-plenty of them would make you weep and weep, and we had Vlad the Dragoman who was not always a very nice Man and sometime not a good Man a tall Man even, though I can only speak them not put them write down” with such an innocent look on her face that no-one had the heart to point out her eggcorns, but she had given Bernie the idea! “we'll write a diary, we can tell them everything that Lolly remembers about the people she met, and we can tell them about what happened at the Abbey and then when we discover more about here and now we can tell them that, too,” and Tammy suggested: “we'll tell them about the people we knew in The Cavern, too, Thomas especially – I wonder where he is,” and Tavish reminded her: “well, he's not long gone from here, it seems we just missed him, indeed had we arrived any sooner it might have been before he was disappeared, and he's and not supposed to return for years,” which was when Boisel said: “you told me you met Master Learmonth in The Cavern, and that he will return, according to his future writings, from Fairyland, after something between three and ten years away; does that mean you will also go back to your own time?” and Tavish shrugged heavily: “who knows? even if we do, it's unlikely to be at exactly the time we left, it may be some years later, we don't know what makes it happen, or how, maybe there are combinations of Ley Lines or maybe it's something to do with parallel universes with wormholes in the Space/Time continuum, or maybe,” and he made a show of looking around for anyone surreptitiously observing or listening, which Lolly found hilarious, “it's something new devised by GCHQ or the CIA – no, seriously, though, think about it, someone must be supplying that Food Store Thomas told us about,” and Father Boisel pointed upwards, with a confident smile, and Tavish said, quite genuinely, “you may indeed be right, Father, though not necessarily in quite the way you mean!” to which the priest smiled benignly and said: “it is my belief that Our Lord is a heuristic God, who wants his Children to learn for themselves about his Universe by observation, experimentation, and study, for only then will our understanding be sufficiently profound . . . . .” and that was when, not ten miles distant, but 750 years later, Jasmine Juniper-Green, in the wee small hours of this morning, curled up in one of the great arm-chairs in Aunty Crist's study, still reading and decoding another page of the journal, reached for her secure mobile and sent an encrypted text to Sir Pantagruel MacFarlane, not expecting him to reply until mid-morning, but his message came back surprisingly quickly: 'gd wrk Jsmn – kp m pstd – lol P' and she reminded herself to ask him what on earth, in his texts, did Sir Pantagruel meant by 'lol'!
Lolly lowered her head and spoke softly: “I am filled with shame, for letting all those Man do things to me, and deserve your disapproval, for not fighting them, for permitting them to use me,” and she began to sob, “I am whore, I am whore,” and Tammy reached out her hand and took one of Lolly's and gave it a squeeze: “no, darling, you are a little girl who lost her Mamma and whose Pappa despaired and was deceived by those evil men, they are the ones we disapprove of, they are the ones we despise, but you are safe from them now, here with Father Boisel and Greta, where they can never reach you,” but Tavish interjected: “we must be circumspect, Tammy, my dear, for in fact it may be wrong to say Lolly is safe, there are still predators, members of MacFarlane's Ring, both at Melrose Abbey and in Edinburgh, and while her 21st Century foxes have been left behind, I am anxious that they may yet target people we love and care for; MacFarlane himself, and the original Doubleday seem to have escaped from The Cavern and are united with the other Doubleday and yet more members of The Ring – I knew Ranulph Ochan'toshan, not well, and only as an artist and a fine photographer. but it seems he has another accomplice in the Police – this one called 'Knickers' - and we are the only ones outside The Ring who know; I was too confident that I had finished off those snakes in the stables, and now find that they have walked out of that Cavern and just picked up where they left off: talk about the Resurrection!” and he snorted, “I feel as if we're in the middle of a time-loop, stuck in the Past, with foreknowledge of the Future, but no way of stopping it,” and he stopped suddenly, turned to Father Boisel, and said, “please forgive us Father for our lack of manners, it is unforgivable to speak between ourselves with no acknowledgement of your presence, and over the head of this poor girl, who has been abominable used and abused in our Time; she has shown great courage and fortitude, and we need to involve her in our plans, whatever they may be and wherever they may lead, for she is both a victim and a witness, and she probably knows more than she remembers, though to remember such horrors is distressing in itself, but we need to think carefully about how to proceed – to rush into action may cause more difficulties than they need, there is a saying from: 'softly, softly catchee monkey,' and we might benefit from it as a guiding principle, to creep up on our prey rather than breenge in like a bull in a china shop,” and then he realised that Father Boisel had acquired the glazed expression of one who has not the faintest idea what Tavish was talking about; he slammed his hands down on the table, and looked at the others – Lolly, the abused Romanian girl, Tammy, his daughter, Bernie, her lover, and Father Boisel, the Priest; “we can't do nothing, we need to be able to expose them and Griiiiind them into the dust” he growled, a long drawn out onomatopoeia which made the others uncomfortable; Lolly began to ululate, sobs and wails racking her body, but as Bernie comforted her, Tavish stood and exclaimed: “forget the newspeak – 'we can't do nothing!' - but we can do something, we've been purblind after our experiences in and after The Cavern, feeling adrift in a strange land, but this is Our Land: Scotland, it's only that the clock has been wound back, which gives us a Mission: to avenge ourselves on the brutes in that infernal Ring of Gold, to destroy them and change the future, or rather, to shape it, this is probably the only chance for 'after' to undo 'before' and our knowledge of what right now is the unknown Future, can help us!” he stretched out his hand, “are we together?” he asked, and one by one the others, including Lolly and Father Boisel, joined the handclasp and cried, “YES!”
Before the Muslim come to Brum, or up the Mersey sail,
The nascent English drunkard filled the specious English pail,
Before the Hindu fakir charmed the quagmire of it's snakes,
The nauseous English drunkard had poured vomit in The Lakes,
And though we come by comity to share this English land,
The staggering English drunkard will sit down on your right hand,
He'll relieve you of your copper, of your silver, and your gold,
The day we go to Ambridge, turning left, right, round, past Mold!
(on the occasion of the 80,000 episode of The Archers! with sincere apologies to G K Chesterton)
Lolly looked at each of them: “is not my real name, is what Man call me; when my Mamma die, my Pappa take me to Bucuresti, say he not can keep me, only one wage and still got five little kids at home, Man pay him for me, Man take me, Man say he wanna fuck me but virgin get more money so fuck me in arse and mouth, Man say that my job now, get fucked, get paid, put me in van with lot girls, drive a long way, take me out at Newcastle, 5 other girl left, Man sell to other Man, he take us to warehouse, ha! whorehouse, lot beds, Man fuck us in arse and mouth, Man say Romanian girl virgin good money, he pass on to Pappa, don't laugh, I believe, you think she too ingenuous, I was 11 years, okay, Man sell me and other girl to another Man take us Edinburgh, sell me to another Man, he want virgin, tell me my name Lolly, take me with him Bowden, Man fuck me everywhere, Man not rough like other Man, Man like fuck me take picture, say me now his daughter, take me places, buy me clothes, buy me shoes, say he love my bisque complexion, never say he love me, fuck me every day, Man name Ranulph, say call him Daddy Ralphy, Man bring friend to house, friend Knickers and wife Christiane, Daddy and Knickers fuck me at same time, Daddy fuck Christiane, Knickers fuck me, Christiane man with tiny cock dress woman, every day Daddy fuck me, lot of days Knickers fuck me, when Party, lot of Man fuck me, fuck Ralphy, fuck Christiane, Ralphy and Knickers fuck other kids, boys and girls, Ralphy, Knickers, Christiane run village Youth Club, Drama Club, Christian Fellowship, Ralphy and Knickers fuck lots other kids, make boys fuck me, Ralphy always snap, snap, snap, fuck, fuck, fuck, snap, snap, snap; then mountain BOOM! smoking like old man's pipe, four Man come to house, Ralphy excited, say we have Big Party, plenty girl, boy, for all Man, skinny-dipping in pool, they talk too, big talk about Mountain, what in there, the four Man very important, very big Man, not like in their size, but Boss Man, their name Uncle Parry, Uncle Dunk, Uncle Georgie, Uncle Dom, Uncle Parry he fuck me lots, tell me he a Night – I don't know what that mean – he say young girl best for man, but tell me he fuck tousands of women, don't know what tousands mean but always young girl like me best, Uncle Knickers he Sergeant in Politsia and tell them what he hears on radio, lots of talk about Mountain, then more fuck, plenty for everybody, then Uncle Parry he take me from Daddy Ralphy but Ralphy don't want lose me. he beg Uncle Parry, even suck his cock, but No, Uncle Parry is abstinent, so the day after the party, Uncle Parry and Uncle Dom take me with them, while Uncle Georgie and Uncle Dunk go to see Politsia and explain they are okay but don't know anything about anyone else and Uncle Parry takes me to Edinburgh, to a house of a friend of his owns and I stay there with them, same as in Bowden – I cook and clean and be housemaid and they fuck me, sometimes one, sometimes both, very boring, I am bored and wanting to go home to Romania, I don't like Edinburgh, or Scottsland, very cold – even Bowden better, even Uncle Ralphy better, more gentle, more loving, I never felt raped by him, he never tie me up or tie me down, but Parry and Dom, they are black hearted men, like in Bucharest and Newcastle, when they fuck it has to be like rape, so one day, I find they have gone out without locking me in, so I go quiet down stairs and out, but where do I go, know no-one, then see Politsia Man and Woman, so go tell them I been raped and thrown away, so Politsia take me to big building, they say this Headquarters, and take me upstairs to Interview Room and give me can of cola, chocolate bisquits, and ask me wait here, and after about half-hour door opens and Uncle Dunk walk in! tells me I been naughty girl runaway from Uncle Parry, say I gotta go back and learn a lesson, oh my god, am in welter of emotions, fear, dread, hysteria, so I run and jump through window, through glass, through air, falling and falling, and thump, I open eyes, still alive, no pain but very dark, and sleep, dream still falling but light, slow, like snowflake, and when wake, find I am in Cavern, with strange people, look like Albanian, very severe, no talk, no smile, grim, grunt, grrrowl, ghuuu, uuugh, yukky, I no unnerstand and I stay with them maybe four months, six months, some of them fuck me pretty boring after what been, in, cum, out, until one night, out for brushwood when see gegenschein in sky, on horizon, stare at it then CRACK! struck by lightning, woke up in small village, with beautiful red Abbey called Melrose, just the other side from Bowden, strange place, no phones, no cars, no pubs, no punters to pay me to suck or fuck, so went up to Abbey to beg and pray for help, begged food then old monk he take me into room, he Abbot, he Boss Monk, he rape me, he tell me he got friends like girl like me, I wanted far away, try creep away in night, but they never sleep, all night up and down saying prayers, discovered by another old monk, think he gonna fuck me, this life never end for me till dead, but oh, no, he very Holy Monk, good man, kind to me, give me food, clothes, shoes too, offer him fuck or suck but no thanks, he help me escape, he is Brother Bede and he real live brother of Father Boisel, he help me find an old man with cart, he took pity on me and brung me here, and he no want me suck him for payment, this very strange place, queer people, but I meet Father Boisel and Greta been looking after me ever since, thankyou Father, you have save my life!”
And while a tale was unfolding to the South of The Eildon Hills where Four members of The Golden Ring were enjoying the help of young Lolly in their ablutions, in the West, where Robyn Macnamara was trying to understand how a US Platoon, long given up as dead and buried had suddenly materialised out of the caves hidden beneath that big old bunch of rock – as one former President might have termed them; and then North-West to the Church of Saint Mary of Wedale, a villatic living, but in a very different time, three other escapees from the Mysterious Hills were being fed and watered by Father Boisel and his charming wife Greta; it was Tavish who told them their strange story, expecting them to be suspicious or even perplexed or - knowing the fears of these times - to interpret them as an example of witchcraft or even Satanism, but Boisel's face spread in a slow smile and when he said: “there have always been tales of strange goings-on around and within the Three Hills, and we can vouch for their veracity and yours, my dear friend and when Tavish looked confused, Father Boisel explained: “it is condign that you have come here, Master Tavish. I have met others, lost souls, wandering and wondering, who are not of this time and place, are not ghosts, but flesh and blood, and I have discussed this with my Brother Bede, for he has met such wanderers also, and we believe that they have come by way of the Great Cavern, of which legends speak - it is too much of a coincidence: the legends tell us that Trimontium is a Hollow Mount, though none have ever found a way in or out; except, of course, my Greta – by a curious happening! of which. perhaps later, but now I ask, whither comest and whither goest thou, my son? speak true or there is nothing I can do for you,” and he sat back and waited; and Tavish exchanged glances with Tammy and Bernie and at length, having taken a decision, he said: “we come from Edinburgh and we go to Edinburgh, for there are certain evil men there who will be the cause and source of evil deeds by their own hands and by those of their sons, and their sons' sons, even unto the seven times seventh generation; they commit every sin it is possible to commit, they rape and murder, they destroy children - it is a form of geocide, perpetrated on the weak by the strong but we have a chance to nip this evil in the bud and cannot pass up that chance - I have already slain two of the ring-leaders and must keep steady until I have dealt with the rest of the ring,” and Father Boisel asked: “are ye self-appointed Judge, Jury and Executioner?” at which Tavish shook his head, “not by choice Father, but of necessity; I know that your beliefs are that evil shall be punished by the Lord God, but I have a chance to prevent evil, and cannot turn the other cheek, whether you are able to assist us or not, I must confront this,” and Boisel clapped him on the shoulder and with a quick word to his wife who, while busy with her baking, nevertheless had also been absorbing most of the conversation; she smiled and nodded, gave her husband a kiss on the cheek and then watched as he led the small group through a door which gave onto an empty yard, at the far side of which stood a cart, leaning against a bare wall; they all helped Father Boisel to move the cart and found behind it, the entrance to a tunnel, which led down to a lower level, a place furnished rudely with several truckle beds and a table with four chairs, but it was the bed furthest from them which caught their gaze, for on it, curled and asleep, lay a young girl; she started as they approached and would have cried out, but Boisel put his finger to her lips and said softly: “my dear, hush, all is safe, these are friends, they will stay here for a few nights and will be company for you,” the initial fear in her eyes had given way to a look of curiosity, and Boisel turned to the others: “she, too, is not from here, she comes from another land, in the East, and has been ill-used, but we have sheltered her for two months and brought her back to good health; I have also taught her our language, of which she was ignorant, and she is bright and a quick learner, and able to speak lucidly of her past, albeit she still has bad dreams and bouts of weeping for what she has lost – the childhood of which you spake, for sadly she is possessed of a good memory and cannot forget the ill-use she was subjected to before she came here – after spending a long time in The Cavern; you may speak freely in front of her, and she may be able to offer you something of her own history; now, here is wine, and goblets, let us all relax and listen to one another,” and he helped the girl up from the palliasse and onto one of the chairs, while the others sat where they could around the cell; at a nod from Father Boisel, the girl cleared her throat and, looking at each of the three new faces, she began to speak: “my name is Lolly, and I come from the year 2016!”
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