Chapter 1: The Lost Girl

I can never quite remember what made me look in the shed, whether there had been a noise or a movement? I still can't say, but anyway I looked in the shed and found her, she looked to be about 17 to 18 years old, but the main impression I got was one of fear.

It was etched in her eyes. Scared about what I was going to do or say? I mean I know I looked angry, what was she doing here in the first place? Then I noticed her clothes, they were torn and ragged; she had large eyes that seemed to melt my heart.

I must describe myself, My name is John, I am 50 years old, male (of course), widower - my wife, Margaret, died of cancer a couple of years ago, but I still hear her voice at times, in fact it has been this that kept me sane, I know that sounds daft, a voice from my past keeping me alive, but that was true, when my wife died I started to drink and let myself go, I did intend to take some pills and end it all rather than carry on without her, and then I heard her voice saying 'don't be so bloody stupid!'

It was the type of thing she would say to me, I considered my actions and realised that 'she' was right, life must go on, so I sobered myself up and returned to work, much to the amazement of my boss, who had really though he'd seen the last of me.

I kept on working, able to do the longer hours that the job demanded at times, until they decided that I could do most of the work at home, I work on computer software, I'm not a genius but I'm able to produce what the customer wants and quicker than others can produce it.

So I'm paid now to work away when I want to, and without punching a clock - Although the boss still expects me to be available when he needs me — and this explains why I was at home at this time.

As I looked at the girl who was trying to hide from my gaze, I heard my wife's voice saying, 'you're scaring her John, why can't you see that?'

I could see a curious look on the girl's face, I suppose I must have spoken out loud; I opened the shed door wide and said.

"Don't worry. I was just concerned; do you want to come into the house?" I pointed to the back door, she seemed to consider this, and she wasn't looking at me but seemed to be concentrating at a space beside me.

"..." She said, in some strange language, well I didn't understand it, but she extended her hand to me, and allowed me to pull her to her feet, she was light and, to be frank, smelt as if she'd been in her clothes for several days.

'Possibly an illegal immigrant' I thought to myself, 'smuggled herself on a lorry and managed to get out here.' I did wonder as to where the rest of her friends might be? Or at least the rest of her family?

"..." Again she spoke in that strange language, and then my wife's voice said, 'you know she should really have a bath!' In a way I was shocked at my subconscious, suggesting such a thing! I should really turn her over to the police; they'd be able to look after her.

I felt her hands clutching at my arms; she was starting to look scared. How could I do it to her, I mean what would happen to her? She'd be returned home, maybe to her family? Or maybe to be killed? I decided to wait for a while, I shouldn't have - I know.

We entered my house, she looked around the kitchen and started to go the fruit that was in a bowl, but then she looked at her hands, and the dirt that covered them, she looked around in confusion, I took her to the sink, she just stood there waiting for something. Maybe she wasn't an immigrant, but just a simpleton who'd run away from some hospital? But there hadn't been anything on the news.

I turned on the taps and let the water flow into a bowl, allowing the mixture to get nicely warm, not hot. I turned the taps off.

While she was looking at the water I took a bar of soap and handed it to her, she looked at the bar in her hand, trying to work out what it was!

'She's never seen soap before!' My wife's voice said, 'show her!'

The girl looked at me, I could read questions in her eyes, and so I smiled at her.

"Okay," I said, "This is what you do." And taking her hands in mine I pushed them into the warm water and then rubbed the bar of soap between her hands, building up the lather, she laughed at this, but when I dipped her hands in the water she could see how clean they now were. I removed my hands, and dried them on a towel. I was happy to see that she was now washing her arms as well as her hands.

When she was happy that her hands were clean she started to raise them, but then realised that they were still wet, she reached out and took the towel from my hand and started to dry herself off.

"..." She said again as she handed me back the towel.

"You're welcomed." I said, hoping that she had said 'thank you', but I still couldn't place the language, she went to the fruit bowl and reached for an apple, but before taking one she looked at me, for permission?

"Yes, you can take some." I said, nodding my head, she smiled at me and picked one up, she examined it as if she'd never seen such a thing before, then she bit into the flesh of the apple, the juice springing out as her teeth took hold, she chewed the morsel for a few minutes, as if savouring the taste and swallowed it, her smile widened and she quickly demolished the apple, even eating the core.

"..." She said again, pointing to the bowl.

"You want another one?" I asked she just looked at me; obviously her knowledge of my words was the same as mine to hers. I picked up another apple and offered it to her.

She nodded and accepted the fruit, which she ate with the same gusto as the previous one.

'John.' My wife's voice again, 'She should really clean herself up, I think there's some clothes in the bedroom that will fit her, and she should have a bath, she needs to wash herself!'

I nodded to the words, I looked at the girl — she seemed to be listening to something, almost as if she heard my wife as well, but that was ridiculous, I knew my wife was dead and that 'her voice' was just my subconscious making itself known.

I didn't know how to approach the problem, I couldn't speak her language and she didn't understand mine. So I went up to her and sniffed, then held my nose, she giggled but just pulled at her clothes, I nodded and then pointed to her face and legs, shaking my head then to her hands and arms and nodded my head.

Her mouth went into a wide 'O' of realisation, she went to go to the sink again, but I stopped her shaking my head, she pointed to the tap and gestured, I pointed upwards, she looked at the ceiling and shook her head, I went to the stairs beckoning her to follow me.

Cautiously she followed, I walked ahead of her, trying to show that I wasn't planning on hurting her, but she seemed to trust me, she glanced into the other rooms as she walked along the landing, I opened the door to the bathroom, she looked in seeing the wash basin, the bath and the toilet.

I turned on the bath taps, adding some bubble bath that my wife used to like, I hadn't really wanted to use it before, but it was something that might appeal to the girl. As soon as the bath had enough water in it, I made sure that it was nicely hot, but not scalding, I gestured to it and then the towels hanging on the side of the radiator.

"I'll try to find you some other clothes to wear." I said, forgetting again that she didn't understand what I was saying.

As I was looking through my wife's clothes I pondered this enigma that I had been presented with. Even an immigrant would know what a tap was, not to mention soap, but she was acting as if they were strange to her. She wasn't retarded, her quick grasp of the towel was proof of that; she had seen me using the towel to dry my hands and just accepted that was what it was for. Where was she from?

I'd got a dress sorted out and was going to place it by the bathroom door when my 'wife' said, 'what about underwear? Or do you expect her to be naked under the dress?'

I hesitated, 'she' was right, I knew it, but I was awkward about rummaging around women's underwear, I suppose I should have thrown her clothes out beforehand, but I just couldn't bear the thought of severing any links with her. I found a pair of panties that might fit the girl, I then realised that I hadn't even looked at her body, what size were her breasts? Would my wife's bras fit her? Would she even wear a bra?

I decided to leave the bra behind, if she wanted one she could look one out herself, but how I was to tell her this I didn't know.

I went to the bathroom door and knocked on it, there was no reply from inside so I slowly opened it. She was laying back in the bath smiling at me as I entered, I showed her the clothes I'd found for her and then started to look for her old clothes, so that I could either wash them, or throw them away, but couldn't see them anywhere.

She watched me looking around, not understanding what I was doing, I pointed to the clothes and then at her, tilting my head in an attempt to ask, 'where are your old clothes?'

She giggled at me and then got up, I went to turn around to preserve her modesty, but realised that there was fabric between us, I stopped and looked at her, she was still wearing her clothes.

How do I tell her? I mean we didn't understand each other and if I tried to remove them from her she might think I was attacking her, I really wished my wife was still with me, she'd be able to help the girl without any problem.

'I think she'll know what is wrong' said my wife's voice, 'just give her a few minutes.' And sure enough the girl started to move her hands to the buttons on her dress and started to undo them, I went to move out of the room, but her voice called me back.

" ... Please!" she said, I turned in amazement, her arms were reaching to me as if to stop me from leaving.

"I shouldn't be with you if you're not dressed." I said, I was rapidly getting out of my depth, perhaps it would be better to hand her over to the authorities

"Please." She said again shaking her head, it was almost as if she knew what I was thinking, but how could she? I just stood there as she removed her dress, I saw her small breasts and realised that none of my wife's bras would have fitted her. I shook my head, what was I thinking of? I quickly picked up the wet dress and took the offered panties, without trying to look at her body as she did this.

I heard the sound of water swirling around and knew that she had settled back into the bath, I turned around and, yes, she was lying back in the water smiling.

"I'll be downstairs when you've finished." I knew she didn't understand me but I was trying to reassure her. I went back to the kitchen and opened the washing machine, where I deposited the dress and panties.

I left the machine to carry on with the washing, and I returned to my work, putting a sales database together for a local builders merchants, not hard work but tedious and it had to be right, oh I knew my boss would settle for adequate, but I wouldn't!

A noise from the kitchen disturbed me; I thought it was my visitor, so I walked into the room. Where a strong arm grabbed me from behind! I felt the blade of a knife touching my throat.

"Where. Girl?" a feminine voice grated into my ear, "She was in small house. But I tracked her here! Where. She?"

"..." Came from the doorway, and the arm was released, I turned to see a well formed Amazon, it was the only term to use with her, who approached the young girl, who was frowning at her.

They started talking with each other, obviously an argument was in progress, with the Amazon pointing to the shed, and the young girl shaking her head and pointing to the clothes she was now wearing, finally the argument was over the Amazon hung her head and turned to me.

"'m Sorry. 'm shouldn't have attacked without 'rmission. 'm worried 'bout..." I could just about understand her words except for the last piece, I though about my reply.

"I accept your apology. The shed was not a safe place to hide, and she was hungry." This reminded me, she'd only eaten a couple of apples, and if she was still hungry how was her 'bodyguard'? "I was going to cook a meal, do you want something?"

Her eyes grew large at my suggestion, she turned to the girl and another incomprehensible conversation ensued. After another few minutes the young girl nodded.

"Please..." She said I looked at my attacker; she saw the puzzlement on my face and spoke again to the Amazon.

" ... she says, 'that be nice', she says 'you no need help her!" Her face was neutral as she said this.

I smiled at the young girl, "But I thought she needed help, she certainly needed new clothes, and she'd been in hers too long. Anyway what are your names? And please can you make them understandable for me."

Again the two started to speak together,

"Sir, I being named Genius, I's protector of Brenda, we's hiding from bad men who's hunting us. I's told her's to remain in small house, no to be seen, please sir no turn us away, we's only stay a day then we's go." Genius looked at me a pleading look in her eyes.

I looked at Brenda, she too was nodding, "Please, please." She said

"Alright." I said, "You can both stay, I've got a spare bedroom."

Genius immediately stood in front of Brenda, blocking her from me; she was now scowling. "You's no touching Brenda, I's protector!" she was flexing her muscles preparing to defend her charge against me.

I held up my hands in front of me, "I'm not going to do anything to Brenda, for one thing she's too young for me, and for another I already love another too much to stray." I told her. Genius looked into my eyes, weighing up my words, and then she nodded and moved away from Brenda, who approached me and took my hand.

"..." She said, I looked at Genius who translated.

"She's says — you loved her greatly, you's still listen to her's when her speaks, her's very pretty and her's still loves you — As she's says this I listen to her and 'gree."

I started to smile at the words, and then I realised what was said, I still listen to my wife? She IS pretty and still loves me? My head started to spin...

I found myself on the floor of the kitchen; I heard my wife's voice again.

"You didn't have to frighten him you know." It, she was saying, "He's been through a lot, I only give him occasional nudges, and he didn't have to know I was here."

Brenda started to talk away and then 'my wife's' voice spoke again, "This is a different world to yours and the rules are different here! I shouldn't be known to be here, that's why I only spoke to him on occasions, but I knew he would help you and that's why I sent him out to you." She said.

"Margaret?" I said quietly.

"Yes John, I'm here!" She said simply.

"Oh love, I'm sorry." I said and she laughed.

"I'm the one who's sorry love, I didn't want to leave you and when I did, I couldn't keep away from you, I wanted to tell you but I'm not allowed to." My, dead, wife told me.

"Not allowed to by whom?" I had to ask, why couldn't she have spoken plainly? Why did she have to remain hidden? There was much I had to know.

A mist developed and then I saw my wife of so many years, years of happiness and some sorrow as well, but then no life is perfect, standing before me dressed in her favourite skirt and blouse, she smiled at me. "Hello John, you're looking well, but then you always did." She said to me.

I reached out to touch her hand ... and found nothing! Not even a 'ghost' of a touch. "But you're not here!" I said to her,

Margaret shook her head, "No John, I'm not here as such, I'm not sure I can explain it either, think of it as just being a few seconds in front of you, I can be as close as your hair but would never be able to touch you ... And I'm forbidden to even do this unless you are made aware of it." She turned to Brenda and Genius, "For which I thank you, but for now I have to..." And she disappeared from my sight again.

"Margaret!" I called out to my wife but heard nothing.

"Her's resting. It takes so much... (A word I couldn't understand) to keep visible. Her's tired." Genius said.

I looked at the picture of Margaret and began crying. There was a soft touch on my head and found that Brenda was stroking my hair. "I'm sorry I know I'm weak..." I said

"... !" Brenda said and Genius told me,

"You's no weak, you's kind man! You's love her!" She said and her eyes showed puzzlement in that statement.

I wiped my eyes and went to the fridge to get out something to cook, I didn't have too much, as a single man I didn't really eat as I should do. I found some chicken pieces in the freezer and put them in the microwave to defrost.

"What you do?" Genius asked.

I smiled, "Well the chicken is frozen and so I've got to defrost it to be able to cook it properly." I explained.

Genius looked around, "How frozen? It warm here!" she said.

"This is a freezer; it cools meat and vegetables down to near zero, that way it keeps longer." I said and took a piece of chicken from the freezer and handed it to Genius.

She held it for a second before dropping it onto the table. "It burn me!" she said accusingly and then looked at it she raised the knife and was about to stab the meat but Brenda stopped her.

"... !" She said in that incomprehensible tongue.

Genius touched the meat again and then looked at me. "You's make this cold?" She said

I shook my head, "No, it's the freezer that does it, I know there's some gas running through the pipes that cools down the air inside the container, but I don't know what type." I said.

Genius frowned, "Magic?" She asked.

Again I almost laughed but remembered Brenda's approach to cleaning, "No, not magic, but science, like the microwave and the lights." I said turning on the florescent tube above us. The flash of the tube warming up at first made Brenda scream in fear and then there was an explosion of glass when Genius' knife slammed through it.

"Why did you do that?" I asked her shaking my head to dislodge any glass that might have be in it.

"You no bring lightening down on us?" Genius asked.

I looked at her and shook my head, "No, that was just the starter cam for the tube, it flashes like that to allow the gas in the tube to heat up and create the light." I said as I looked for a dustpan and brush to sweep up the glass.

I saw Genius bend down to pick up a large piece of glass. "Don't touch that, it's going to be..." I started to say but was too late as Genius cut her hand on the glass. "Come over here and let me clean it off." I said reaching to Genius.

She warily allowed me to take her bleeding hand to the sink where I began putting warm water into a bowl, adding some disinfectant. Then I took a piece of cotton wool and dipped it into the mixture, gently dabbing at the cut.

"Is no needed!" Genius said as she tried to pull her hand away.

"Nonsense, I mean you may need to have it ... good grief! You're hand's healing!" I said amazed.

"Does!" She said, "Part of my person." She added as if this explained everything. While this was happening, without any help from me, the hand completed healing. She looked at me. "Why you worry?" She asked.

I had to sit down, "But to heal like that ... it's not natural!" I said weakly.

"..." Brenda said in her incomprehensible language.

Genius nodded to her, "With me. It natural ... it part of me and fixes when broken!" She said as if this explained everything then she pointed to light, "Tell me how light worked." She said

"Well I'd need to explain about electricity, and the various gasses that they use, but I couldn't explain every part of them." I said finally.

Genius nodded, "Is same with me. I know I heal but no able to say why." She said.

I nodded in understanding, "I see, it works but you don't have the words to explain how." I said

She laughed, "I's certainly no know enough to explain." She said and then bowed to me before going back to Brenda. At the same time the microwave 'pinged', Genius turned to throw a knife at the machine when Brenda stopped her.

I prepared the stock and found I was being watched by Genius who kept on wanting to know what was being added and why. She seemed to accept what I was telling her because she didn't make any complaint.

I then started work on the vegetables, before putting them into a cooking pot, and then I poured in the stock. I took the meat out of the microwave and began cutting it up into cubes, putting them into the pot along with the vegetables and stock, I put the pot into the oven and left it cooking when I went back to the table.

"I've got some work to finish off, so while the food's cooking I suggest you relax in the living room and watch some television." I said and then I saw Genius frowning, "It's a box that shows..." I couldn't think what to call them, "plays." I finished saying.

I showed the pair into the room and turned on the T.V., and then I went to the room I used as a study to concentrate on the spreadsheet, but I have to admit that I couldn't concentrate on it as I should have done, saving what I'd created I then went to the desktop and opened up an on-line dictionary.

Genius —


somebody with outstanding talent: somebody with exceptional ability, especially somebody whose intellectual or creative achievements gain worldwide recognition


outstanding talent: exceptional intellectual or creative ability


somebody with specific skill: a person with great specialized skill

· a genius with computers


or (plural genii [jni ī]) quality: a special quality that characterizes a place, period, or people


or (plural genii) guardian spirit: in Roman mythology, a guardian spirit of a person, place, or institution


or (plural genii) demon: a supposed demon or supernatural being

I didn't understand most of that but filed it away; I took another look at the spreadsheet and decided to give it up as a bad job for the time being. I pottered around with a card game and then decided to check on the dinner.

I called them into the kitchen where I had plates out for the food, I put more onto Brenda and Genius' plates than mine and handed them the cutlery, and they picked up the utensils in curiosity, "What this?" Genius asked holding the fork, "it like trident but smaller!"

"It's made to spear the food and so you can put it in your mouth." I said showing them, Brenda tried to follow my example but Genius stopped her and spoke in her language.

I watched as Genius tried various pieces of Brenda's food before she nodded to her, "'orry but me's got to test." Genius said looking at me, after Brenda had spoken to her.

"What she's eating is the same as we're eating, if there was anything in it I would have suffered as well." I said wondering just who I was talking to. A bodyguard or food taster?

The rest of the dinner went without problems.

I went with the two of them to the living room where the television was still on; Brenda pointed to the screen and then asked a question, I looked at Genius who translated. "Brenda asks how people get so small to fit on stage." She said. I couldn't help it, I had to laugh. "Is no funny? Want to know!" Genius said sounding annoyed.

I held up my hand and tried to control my laughter, "I'm sorry Genius, it's just that I've never thought of it like that! What you see are pictures of things that are sent through the air to show up on receivers like that." I tried to explain.

Genius frowned. "Thems not pictures. Them move!" She said and then she waved her hand in the air, "me no touch picture. Where picture?" she asked.

I shook my head, "It's like the light out in the kitchen, I know how it works but I can't explain it properly." I finally said and then I realised that I did have one answer. "Hold on." I said and went to the attic to get out my old super-8 projector and a reel of film.

I returned to the living room and set up the projector, I showed Genius the film. "This is the same as the television, except it's something that I filmed." I said, I showed her the separate frames and then fed the film into the projector.

The sound of the fan blowing made Genius step back slightly but when nothing bad happened she remained in position. I started the film running. I'd forgotten when I had taken the film, it was at Blackpool and there was my wife sunbathing. I sat down and watched the film finding my view blurring at times.

"..." Brenda said from beside me, and I could feel her hands on my head.

"Her says remembering is good. No grieving needed." Genius said. "She's still with you!"

I looked up at the pair of them, "I know that now, but it still hurts when I see things like this." I said and then I pulled myself together. "But that is how we make pictures seem to move, they just go so fast that all you can see is the overall effect of movement." I said.

Brenda nodded and Genius said. "Me sees now. Is good."

I smiled, "But too many people think some of the programs are real, that's why its also known as the idiot box!" I told them.

I noticed Brenda yawning and so I looked at Genius, "You need to take her upstairs and get her to bed, do you want me to show you where it is?" I asked.

Genius spoke to Brenda who nodded but then said something back, "Hers 'gree but needs to go out first." She said.

I frowned, "Why? I didn't think she left anything out in the shed?" I said

Genius shook her head, "No, her needs to ... you know. Her eaten too much. Her needs to..." She stopped.

I opened my mouth in realisation, "But she doesn't have to go outside, there's a toilet upstairs." I said

This time Genius frowned, "What toilet?" she asked.

"Follow me!" I said and led the pair of them upstairs to the bathroom. I showed them the toilet and then flushed it. "Use this, when you've finished you press this to make it flush the stuff away." I told them and then left the room.

I heard the toilet flush several times before there was a long pause and then another flush, I realised that I hadn't explained about toilet paper ... but I'd have to leave that for another day.

The bathroom door opened again and I could tell that someone had washed their hands, Genius looked at me and smiled, "We use paper leaves, was alright?"

I nodded, "That's very right, I'm sorry I should have explained about the toilet paper, but I forgot." I said apologetically.

Brenda smiled at me and patted my hand, "..." She said.

Genius nodded, "Her says her understands." She told me.

I showed them to the spare bedroom and the bed. "There you are, I'm not sure if I have a spare bed so you can sleep..." I started to say.

"No needed. I sleep with Brenda." Genius said dismissing me.

"Very well, I'll see you in the morning." I said and left them alone.

I went to bed myself and had a very strange dream.

I was walking through a clearing in a forest, it was bright daylight and birds were singing, but not tunes I could recognise as normal birdsong. As I walked I realised that I was following a path, but when I tried to stray from the path I was blocked! When I tried to turn around there were trees behind me, I had to go forward.

The clearing opened up to show a wooden throne — it was the only description for it- on which sat a woman, her skin was a light green colour and there were leaves in her hair.

She regarded me and then spoke; it was a melodious voice, almost seductive in its tone. "You helped the girl? Why?" She asked.

I frowned, "She looked scared and I thought she needed help, why wouldn't I help her?" I answered.

The woman gave a slight smile, "From what I know of your world it's very strange for someone to voluntarily help anyone." She said.

"I disagree; I know there are those who wouldn't give a person the time of day ... but should something happens they would do anything to help! It's not how a person seems, but it's what they do that defines them!" I said knowing I was defending my world.

She gave a laugh; it was like crystal glass ringing, "Well said. And you have shown yourself as one of the better ones. But what would happen if Brenda's enemies attack her? How would you stop them?" The woman asked.

I paused for a moment, "I'm not sure ... I mean I'm not strong, and I would be frightened ... but I would hope that I'd try to defend her." I said

The woman nodded. "An honest answer! No false pride or bravado. Yes I think you would ... but you would die in the attempt, how say you to that?" She asked me.

I nodded, "True, but in a way I've been dead for some time. Ever since I lost my wife! I don't think I would mourn such an event." I said.

"Don't be such a fool John! My Lady please do not listen to him." Margaret appeared in the clearing, standing beside me."

The woman looked at her. "You should know better than to tell me anything." She said but there was amusement in her eyes.

Margaret lowered her eyes, "I apologise My Lady, but John is a good man, he doesn't deserve to die needlessly" She said.

The woman nodded, "I know, and your words I also hear. You love him still." She said.

Margaret looked at me and there were tears in her eyes, "Yes My Lady. I do." She said strongly.

"Do you think he needs to be prepared for the task ahead of him?" The woman asked.

Margaret looked at her, "Does he have to do it?" She asked. The woman didn't answer her but just looked sharply at her. "Then yes, yes he does." Margaret said finally.

The woman nodded in agreement, "Very well. John you will sleep now, but when you waken you will find some changes have been made, do not worry about them as they will be accepted by all you meet. I wish you good luck!" She said.

"Bye for now John. And I still love you!" Margaret said and she kissed my cheek.

I went to hold her ... and found I was clutching a pillow with sunlight streaming through my bedroom window.

I shook my head. What a strange dream! I went to get out of bed, and I moved faster than I'd ever had before. What was happening to me? I wondered.

I opened my bedroom door and checked in on my guest, there was a wolf? Lying on the bed! It raised its head to look at me. "Genius?" I asked. The wolf nodded its head and then lowered it. I closed the door.

Then the definition I'd read came back to me. 'A guardian spirit ... a demon!' and I smiled. So that was what Genius was. A spirit to protect Brenda! I went to the kitchen and began cooking breakfast.

The first to appear was Brenda; I smiled at her, "Good morning." I said knowing she wouldn't understand me.

"Good morning to you too sir John, what is it you're doing?" She said which surprised me so much I almost dropped the frying pan.

"Brenda you can talk!" I said and at her laughter I added, "I mean I knew you spoke but I didn't understand you before." I said.

"But you met with the Green Lady; she gave you the power amongst other things." Brenda told me.

I did put the pan down now. "You mean it wasn't a dream? It actually happened?" I asked her in shock but before she could answer Genius walked into the kitchen.

"Morning man called John. What are you cooking for us today?" She asked.

I looked at her, "What happened to your language? Where's the cave man I's this and Her's that?" I asked.

Genius smiled, "When I appealed to the Lady of the Green Mantle she told me that she would teach you the proper way to speak, I'm glad to see she has. Your own language is difficult to speak." She said.

I realised something else, "She didn't just change my knowledge did she?" I asked them. They both smiled and Genius shook her head.

"You're better now, and you'll find out the rest later." Genius said taking the frying pan from my hands and looking at the rashers of bacon I had out. "These will do!" She pronounced and took over the cooking.

With nothing to do for the time being I went back and began working on that blasted spreadsheet. I opened the database and saw immediately where I'd gone wrong before, and after a few minutes I had fixed the problem and cleaned up the display. I then went back to the log in screen and made it more user-friendly. I finished it off and put my normal program protection routine in to stop anyone else from breaking it down to copy it and then sent the whole lot off to my work with a note to say I was happy with it.

A noise from the kitchen sounded odd to me and so I quickly left the computer and dashed to that room. Inside I found three men attacking Genius with swords. She managed to disarm one and his sword flew towards me, without thinking I grabbed it and pulled one man away from Genius, He turned to me and tried to hack at my head.

Without thinking I brought my sword up, blocking his attack, then I swirled my sword down and around striking him in the throat as I did so and then I was focusing on the second man who hadn't yet noticed me in his haste to get Genius!

Although unsporting I aimed lower going to his hamstrings which made his legs buckle, he turned his body to try and get his sword into play, but a quick slash with my sword took his hand off at the wrist. He looked at me in shock and then I used the flat of the blade to knock him out.

In the meantime Genius was able to despatch her opponent and she was smiling at me, "Good work, you've now found out what it's like to be a bodyguard." She said and then she saw my last victim wasn't dead. "Let me finish that one off for you." She said and readied her sword.

"Not yet, we need to find out how he got here and who he's working for, we won't find anything out otherwise." I said.

Genius looked at me, "I didn't think of that." She said getting the flame on the gas ring burning, "Take Brenda away for a few minutes." She said grabbing hold of the injured man.

The scream that came from the kitchen was so loud that I thought the neighbours would have heard and at least called the police.

It then struck me that I had used a sword, I'd never touched one before. Also I'm a 50 year old man ... and I wasn't breathing hard. What the hell had been done to me?

I left Brenda safe in the living room and ran upstairs to the bathroom ... ran! Upstairs! I'd been developing a 'click' in my knees when I walked quickly! And here I was running?

I cleaned off the steam from the mirror ... Who the hell was that guy? It was younger than me, fitter — miles fitter than I'd been! It looked as if I'd lost 30 years overnight! But now I had muscles, I resembled Arnold Schwarzenegger in the build. Nobody would think this thing was me!

I heard a banging at the door and Brenda was calling to me, "Sir John. What is wrong?" She was calling out.

I opened the door quickly. "Can't you see? This isn't me! It's some caricature! I'm not like this." I said angrily.

"But now you is!" Genius said from behind Brenda. The Green Lady has blessed you for helping us; she has granted you the form that will help you with our task!" She said

"Our task? What do you mean?" I asked her.

"To protect Brenda, to return her to her father." Genius told me.

"I can't just drop everything and..." I began but then I realised, I could! I had plenty of time off to come, and nothing to hold me here. "Alright, I'll help you." I conceded.

Brenda jumped for joy. "I told Genius that you would, when do we start?" She asked.

I looked at Genius, "The portal opens in 3 hours. We have to be there to enter the World of Brenhan." She said.

"So we're leaving this world?" I asked Genius.

"Yes, we had to stop here to gain a space from Brak Distar. But now his men have found us, we can't stay here!" She told me.

"Is our prisoner ready to talk?" I asked her

She gave a mean smile, "Oh yes, I stopped his bleeding and started his bleating! He wants a priest to shrive him." She said.

I shook my head, "Well he won't find one around here. What does he say about how they found us?" I asked

"They have a wizard who was able to descry our position, but he gave them a warning not to let us meet anyone or they would be doomed, it took them too long to find us and you were the death of them!" she said.

I went with her to the kitchen where our guest was tied to a chair. "Why did you attack these women?" I asked him.

He shook his head, "I'm not telling you that! If Brak Distar knew I told you he'd kill me!" He said.

I gave what I hoped was a cruel smile. "But he's not here ... I am! Have you seen your intestines? They can be pulled from your gut and spread out for the rats to eat while you are still alive ... I hear it's a very enlightening experience." I said to him.

His face went white, "You wouldn't ... this world isn't like that. We have spies..." He protested.

"But you're not from this world and so our rules don't apply to you, you heard what the Hobbits did to the Orcs!" I said keeping a straight face.

"What did they do?" He asked.

"They wiped them out, all of them! Just because they were trying to take over the world, and they'll do the same to you if you don't stop! Now what were your orders from Brak Distar?" I asked him, taking steak knives out of the cutlery drawer.

He watched me closely as I tested the sharpness of the blades, "W ... w ... we were ... were to ... take the ... girl ... back. And to destroy the thing with her!" He said quickly.

I stopped Genius from attacking him, "And you failed! Now what was supposed to happen to the girl?" I said to him.

He looked at Genius, "She is to be the way to her father's throne! Once Brak has her there is nothing her father can do except give up!" He said. "And once she is his then he can take over the world ... you will never..." He looked up "NOOOOO! MY LORD I HAVENT... " He called out when darkness seemed to swoop down onto him when it lifted the man was dead.

The darkness turned to attack us, but somewhere in my mind I heard a voice. "Somno Dablous Tia!" and I realised it was my voice saying the words. A bright light appeared in the room and surrounded the darkness, compressing it.

"You have defeated me for now... but you will never stop my master ... Fool!" a voice said from the shrinking darkness before it was completely extinguished.

"What ... what was that?" I said to Genius who was watching me.

"That was a Dark Wraith! A servant of a wizard who works for Brak Distar. It was sent to kill their men should they have failed." She looked at our prisoner who was now dead in the chair.

I shook my head. "Distractus!" I said and the body burst into flames, consuming itself and nothing else. "Where the hell did I know that from?" I asked.

Genius shook her head, "You seen to have knowledge of the wize arts. But I didn't know the Green Lady would give you that!" She said puzzled.

I did the same with the remaining two bodies which got rid of any proof that we'd been attacked, if the neighbours complained I'd just say the television was on too loud. I returned to Genius, "But I don't know what I'm doing? The words just seem to come to me." I said puzzled.

Genius nodded, "'Tis so with most mages, if you try to force a spell then it will not work, just allow it to come from you." She said.

A 'ping' from the computer told me that I had an email. I went to the screen and opened the mail. 'Program received, have another one for you to deal with.' My boss had written

I picked up my phone and called him, "Morris? John here, something's just cropped up, I can't take time to explain, but I've got to go out of town for a few days!" I said.

"What! But you can't I've told the client that you'd deal with it!" He said.

"I'm sorry Morris, I can't just drop this. Look get Mark to deal with it, he's good enough." I said trying to placate him."

"Yes he is ... but he's not you! I want the best!" Morris said forcefully.

"Then use him until he is the best! Look Morris I've got to go!" I said and quickly hung up.

I looked at Genius, "We've got to get provisions, I really don't want to be anywhere else with no food or weapons." I said she nodded.

I called to Brenda who came down the stairs fearfully, "Is it safe?" She asked.

"For the moment, now we're going to town." I said picking up my car keys and ushering the two women to my garage.

"What is this thing?" Genius asked.

I smiled, "It is a carriage for driving, like a horse and coach, but without the horses!" I said opening the doors and letting them get in.

To say the trip was uneventful was an understatement! The two women cringed as we passed other cars, "Why do they stay on the other side of that line? What stops them from crossing it?" Genius asked and she seemed nonplussed when I just said it was the law. "But how would this law know if they cross it?"

"They don't! It's just the honesty of people that keep them obeying the law, but there are those who will ignore it and then it's up to the police to catch them." I said.

Genius nodded but I could tell she wasn't too sure about this 'law' thing.

While driving I noticed some light and dark shapes along the route, I blinked to clear my eyes but they were still there, although they didn't seem to interfere with anyone or anything. "Those are shades, the memory of those who used to live." Genius said when I mentioned it, so now it seems I can see dead people as well. Just what had the Green Lady done to me?

I stopped at Millet's store which sold tents, backpacks, knives and everything needed for camping. We ended up overloaded but Genius seemed happy. We also had some packed food, not the best of fare but it would be needed should anything hold us up.

I did consider getting a gun, but thought that it wouldn't be allowed as I didn't have a licence, and most gun shops wouldn't let you walk off with shotguns without one. But Genius said I should try as she had heard of guns on the television and didn't believe what they were supposed to do.

I entered a shop and asked to see their hunting equipment, I was quickly shown into another part of the shop, the door was electronically opened and was armoured, the counters were overlarge and the guns were chained together to stop people from just picking them up.

I looked at some shot guns and checked them over, somehow I knew how to 'break' them — that is to open them to allow the cartridges to be loaded — and to set the safety, the salesman looked on with a smile on his face. "I see you're used to these, the number of people who pick them up by the barrels, well it makes me cringe I can tell you." He said.

I didn't have the heart to say this was the second time I'd touched one (the first time I fired a shotgun, the hammer went down the shot went one way and I went the other — I missed the target by miles!). I looked down the sights and frowned, shaking my head. "The sights are out by 10 millimetres, there's a slight curve in the barrel. Not enough to cause problems, but unless corrected will make the owner miss." I pointed out.

The salesman frowned and picked up the gun, he put a laser along the barrel and then gasped. "I hadn't noticed that before. I'm sorry sir we don't normally deal with defective goods, please try this one." He said handing me another gun.

This time I was happy with the sights and asked if I could test out the gun. The salesman showed me to a target range lower down in the building. He stood behind me as I loaded the two cartridges into the barrel, closed the gun and took aim. A light moved over near the end of the range and I followed it, went just in front of it and fired! The light seemed to fragment and then a second light started up, I moved the barrel slightly and fired again. With the same result. I opened the gun and removed the cartridges before setting it down, still open.

"That was very good sir, I'm afraid I cheated and had the smallest targets used. But you were perfect!" He said taking the gun from the rest.

I smiled and nodded, "Yes, it's very good. I'll take two." I said adding, "I'll also need covers and cartridges." I added.

He nodded, "Of course sir, if you'll come back with me and we'll start the paperwork." He said.

We went back to the counter and he began filling out the forms to allow me to buy the guns. I noticed a contraption in the corner of the room and looked at it; It seemed to be a funnel over what appeared to be a clamp to hold some cylindrical object. Then there was a crimping tool. I picked it up.

"Ah sir is interested in making his own cartridges, I should have known from the way you handled the shotgun." The salesman said. As he spoke I could see now how the contraption worked. You put a used cartridge into the clamp, fill it with gunpowder and then shot, before closing the whole with the crimp tool. It wasn't too large and so I nodded.

"Can you add this to the bill?" I asked him.

"Of course sir." He said and then asked me to sign in several places on the forms.

"I'm taking these with me." I told him and he never batted an eye.

"Normally we'd need to have checks made, but in your case I've decided to wave that, we have your address and everything else checks out." He said packing the guns into their covers and then putting them into a lockable case.

I left the shop nearly a thousand pounds lighter in cash and returned to a worried looking Genius. "We must go now. The portal will only remain open for 10 minutes." She said.

"Where is it?" I asked her.

She thought for a moment and then pointed to the park. We picked up the backpacks and I hefted the guns, although we had too much equipment with us it was still light to me.

In the park we followed Genius along a path and then to a screen of trees. There was a muted light looking like an oddly shaped tree. "That's the portal, we've got a few minutes." Genius said.

"Okay, so you go first, then Brenda and I'll follow!" I said looking around.

Genius nodded and stepped through the light — if you've seen that Stargate programme then you'd know the effect, the light seemed to surround Genius as she touched it and then moulded itself around her body, she passed from our sight.

I nodded to Brenda who closed her eyes and stepped through.

I don't know why but I opened the case and removed a shotgun and loaded it, before closing the case and started to walk to the portal. I could hear a voice from the other side.

"Take the prisoner and kill the spirit!" A man said.

I didn't hesitate but ran toward the portal before it could close.

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Story tagged with:
Magic / Fiction / Science Fiction / Robot /