“We are still having problems with him,” I overheard Tabitha tell Dennis as I sat at the bar sipping a whiskey quietly.
“What do you want me to do about it?” Dennis leaned back further along the bar from me.
Tabitha didn’t seem to care if I was listening. She knew I was pretty powerless against the whims of
the Knock, Knock club. Dennis was pretty guarded though. He had asked for my help in getting his ten year old son, Milo, to safety in exchange for his helping me escape the Knock, Knock club so he always kept me discretely informed. After luring my best friend, Madeline, to the club and to her death I wasn’t sure how much help I was willing to give him, even if it were for the sake of an innocent child. Still, I had to keep my options open.
“I don’t think you understand how big a problem this is,” said Tabitha sternly to the club manager. “He isn’t taking us seriously and if we let him away with it others will think they can get away with it too.”
“So what do you suggest?” Dennis hadn’t looked looked at her the whole time. His focus had been on the empty stage behind her. “Take him out?”
Tabitha laughed, a cold, callous cackle. “What benefit would he have to anyone dead?” She pursed her lips and her grey eyes shone with delight. “He has a daughter. Young girls are your speciality.”
Dennis sighed. “What age?”
“Six or seven,” answered Tabitha.
Dennis shook his head. His eyes finally rested on her for a few moments before he stood up straight, turned his back to her and leaned over the bar.
“Far too young,” he stated definitely. “The kid isn’t her father’s problem.”
“No but her father is our problem. He needs to know we aren’t messing around.”
“Maybe Sam could do it,” Dennis suggested.
They book looked at me. I almost spat the whiskey out like I had been caught doing something I shouldn’t have.
Thankfully, Tabitha dismissed the idea.
“He hasn’t the stomach for it. Besides, if the doors of the Knock, Knock were open to him do you really think he would come back?”
She cackled again. “Like everything else, if I need a good job done I will just have to do it myself.”
It was a pleasant enough day with a dry chill in the air. The Coldridge Park in the centre of the city was playing host to hundreds of children playing, their parents and chaperones standing close by, perhaps not paying as much attention as they should have been.
Tabitha sat alone on a wooden bench. She scanned through the crowd and spotted the little girl she was looking for.
Blonde pigtails, blue jeans and a pink sweatshirt with a sunflower logo, Sarah looked like something straight out of a children’s book. She was kicking a red ball back and forth, giggling excitedly as a golden retriever chased it. A boy in his early teens, her brother Kevin, was busy talking on his phone. He had his back turned to his sister. One hand was holding the all important conversation to his ear and the other was tucked into the pocket of his own sweatshirt.
“Rufus!” screamed a woman’s voice across the park.
The ears of the golden retriever perked up at the sound of his mistress’ voice. It took one last look at the shining red ball but quickly decided obedience was more important. It trotted along towards the voice that called it.
Sarah gave the ball another kick and it came rolling towards the bench. With a foot clad in a purple velvet, kitten heel shoe, Tabitha stopped it. As Sarah drew nearer she began to hesitate.
“You need to be careful,” Tabitha said to the little girl. “You wouldn’t want to lose your ball now would you?”
Sarah picked it up and hugged it close to her chest. “It’s my brother’s ball,” she admitted.
“Well you don’t want to make him mad do you? Losing his ball?”
Sarah nodded in agreement. “He’s going to take me for ice cream,” she volunteered casually.
Tabitha looked up. The boy was still on the phone. “That’s nice but it looks like he is still busy.”
It was Sarah’s turn to look back. She had so been looking forward to a bowl of strawberry ice cream.
“Why don’t we go and get the ice cream and maybe he’ll be done by the time we get back.”
Sarah stepped back. Alarm bells began to ring for her. “I can’t go away with strangers.”
“Very wise indeed, but I’m not a stranger,” said the woman with the grey eyes. “I know you, Sarah, and your brother’s name is Kevin. Your dad and I are old friends.” Sarah still looked at her suspiciously. “My name is Tabitha, so now we are friends.”
Kevin was still paying no attention. He was in the midst of on of those dramas that only teenagers can understand.
‘It can’t be bad,’ thought Sarah. ‘A stranger wouldn’t know my name,’ was her childish logic. Besides, the strangers she had been warned against were men in dark clothes who drove white vans and smelled of alcohol. The woman she was talking too had a kindly, round, maternal face. Her smile was pleasant, with a gap in her front teeth. She carried the scent of vanilla. The ice cream parlour was just across the street.
“We had better hurry before it closes!” Tabitha reminded her.
Sarah made up her mind. “Kevin likes mint,” she said.
Tabitha stood and took the little girl’s hand. “I know he does,” she said. “We’ll get him a big bowl.”
Kevin finished his phone call. He slipped his phone into his pocket. He turned to discover little Sarah was gone. The shiny red ball sat on an empty bench.
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We were locked in the room together. There was only the faint light from a single high window.
“What are you doing here Maddy?” I asked.
“I was worried about you,” was her reply. “The police were asking about you. Theresa is dead and suddenly it was though you had vanished into thin air. I had a sense you would be here. I had to find you.”
When I had told Madeline that I was investigating the Knock, Knock club she had said very little about it. Even after I had brought Theresa here just before her murder.
“Do you know what goes on here?” I had to ask.
“They use their connections to get away with murder. They make themselves rich by killing people and sharing the spoils. Usually they are also paid handsomely for it too.”
I was furious. Anger had been building in me given recent events.
“Why didn’t you say anything to me? Why didn’t you warn me? If you had said something I never would have brought Theresa here and she might still be alive.”
Madeline gave a heavy sigh. “I wanted to warn you but I couldn’t say anything.”
I was still frustrated. “Why not?”
“I’m a member,” she explained.
I had known Madeline for years. I considered her one of my closest friends as did Theresa but even when you are so close to someone there is still a deeper part were the true person lies that no one will ever know. Its that same part that in the absence of any rules or laws would run amok. The club played on this part of people, flattering them into believing they could get away with anything the wanted.
It had happened before I met Madeline. She was a young girl on her college path towards a career in journalism. Her life plans were upset when she found herself in the family way. Whilst she pondered over her future the father never gave so much as a backwards glance. Madeline’s prayers were answered when out of the blue she was approached by a handsome, charming man named Dennis.
“I know a girl in trouble when I see one,” he had remarked with a smooth smile she found quite appealing. It had been the only kind words anyone had uttered since discovering her pregnancy.
“It’s quite unfair that the father would get to trot off whilst the mother shoulders the responsibility alone. It is an injustice that even in today’s modern society stands to be corrected.”
Madeline was so drawn to him she found herself discussing her predicament with a stranger she had only met a few moments before when he joined her on the bench at the park where she had gone to clear head.
Dennis explained, “I’m a member of an exclusive club. If you were a member your baby would be taken care of until such times as you were ready to take her back. We’ve only just managed to pull ourselves out of a financial recession and it looks like we are headed towards another. It hits everyone hard but it must be an especially powerful blow to a single mother.”
Maddy sobbed and ran her hand softly over her womb. “I can’t.”
Dennis leant forward. She caught the scent of tobacco and whiskey from him. “Do the sensible thing kid,” he urged. “You won’t be giving up any rights to the child or anything. You would simply be making sure they were sufficiently taken care of.”
He gave her an invitation to the Knock, Knock club and a lot to ponder. Madeline was alone, desperate and financial straits. Giving her baby up was her only hope. She became a life long member that day. I met her the following year and no word of the little girl passed her lips.
“Do you know where your daughter is now?” I asked.
She shook her head. Tears were beginning to form in the corners of her eyes.
I asked, “What did they want with a new born child?” I wished I hadn’t because the thoughts of what could be possibly happening to the babies flashed into my mind. It sent a violent shiver down my spine.
“I’m so sorry,” Madeline cried.
“You should be,” I groaned. “Because of what you did Theresa was murdered and a little girl who didn’t ask to be born has probably been subjected to a life of unimaginable cruelty. That is if she is unlucky enough to still be a alive.”
“Take that gun. Kill me. It’s the only way out.” She pointed a shaking finger at the table.
I shook my head. “We’re getting out of this,” I assured her.
“It’s impossible,” she insisted. “You couldn’t shoot your way out. They will have only loaded one bullet.”
“Neither of us are dying in this hole,” I stated, hoping that my words would be final and she would stop feeling sorry for herself.
“I don’t deserve to leave this place. I handed my child over and never looked back. The things I did. The things they made me do.” She stood and began to pace the small room.
“What else aren’t you telling me?”
She became hysterical. “You can get out of here. Make sure everyone knows what goes on here!”
She was screaming. I tried to grip her shoulders to calm her down but she lifted the gun and leapt back before I had the chance to. She put the gun into her mouth.
I tried to stop her. She pulled the trigger and her body fell limp to the floor.
Madeline had known about the Knock, Knock club. If her daughter was still alive I would find her. My wife, my best friend and any future I ever had were all gone. It made me more determined than ever to expose the club for what it was and all of its members.
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July 9, 2017 | Categories: Knock, Knock, Knock, Knock EP 12: It's not me; It's you! | Tags: author, blog, blog series, crusow, cult, Knock, Knock, murder, noir, sam, suspense, thriller, vivika widow | 2 Comments
“I’ll get you out of here,” Dennis said. “Tonight. Just make sure Milo is safe.”
My mind fogged with many unanswered questions. “Where is his mother?” I asked. “Did she send him here?”
My old reporter self came racing to the surface. So many lines of investigation I wanted to open. Dennis was as calm as ever. Even his large eyes didn’t betray him but I could tell from the strong heave of his chest it was feeling the thud of his heart.
He hadn’t seen his son since his wife, Julianne, killed his father and ran away with him as a baby. Julianne wasn’t a particularly stable woman from what Dennis told me but if I were to hitch a bet I would say it was Tabitha who had murdered Dennis’ father and Julianne had taken their boy to escape her. Dennis had come to Coldford because he had no one and nothing else. Tabitha was his only life line. He probably agreed with my conclusion but would never admit it. He was keen on making sure that no one but me knew that Milo had found him.
“What you boys talking about?” Tabitha joined us. She had no doubt seen the commotion at the door from the stage during her performance. I had noticed her grey eyes follow us to the door.
“Just that your performance was a triumph as always,” Dennis replied with his usual nonchalant air.
The girl behind the bar brought Tabitha a glass of water with a wedge of lime and some ice. Tabitha hadn’t had to ask for it.
“What was the trouble at the door?” she asked. She had directed the question at me. As a journalist I was trained in not giving my game away too soon.
“Just someone trying to get in out of the cold,” Dennis answered for me. “Didn’t have an invite. They were told to take their business elsewhere.”
Tabitha sipped her water. She wasn’t giving up so easily. “That’s the doorman’s job isn’t it. Why did he call for you?” Tabitha hadn’t missed a trick from the stage.
“They had asked for me personally but I didn’t recognise them. Probably knew me from my sales days,” Dennis explained. He was playing by the old code that the best lies are formulated from half truths.
Tabitha finished her water. Her nose wrinkled in disgust. She laid the glass on the bar and called to the girl, “That tastes like toilet water,” she said. She hadn’t forgotten about our conversation though. She turned her attention back to Dennis. “That’s not good,” she stated. “If someone managed to track you down here, who knows what else they can find out about you.”
Dennis appeared little fussed by the whole affair. I had to admire his acting skills. “It’s fine,” he said. “I doubt they’ll be back.”
One of the patrons interrupted. “I love you T!” he gasped in a drunken slur. He stumbled forward, leaning too much into Tabitha’s personal space. “Your performances is what I come here for.”
Tabitha pushed him back. She wore a look of disdain that the patron hadn’t seemed to notice. “Compliments don’t pay the bills,” she said. She pulled the tip jar that sat on the bar. “Empty your pockets into there and maybe they’ll stop feeding me toilet water.”
The man returned to her with a laugh but he did reach into the inside pocket of his jacket and filled the tub with notes.
Later that night I walked into my room. It had been a pleasant little ray of hope after my own wife’s murder when I first came but as time drew on it was seeming more like the dank prison cell it actually was.
Dennis had told me to wait for his instructions. At three the club finally cleared. I was sat on my bed with my oversized coat on. I couldn’t help but worry that Dennis had changed his mind. I looked from my window. The alley was empty save for a couple of stray cats trying to salvage a meal. I was close to giving up when a soft knock came at the door.
I answered expecting to be met with Dennis or one of the girls. Instead Tabitha stood waiting. Her brunette hair had been bundled on top of her head. The make up had been removed leaving her with a fresh faced, natural beauty.
“Going somewhere?” she asked, noticing I was dressed.
I said simply, “I was cold.”
“Come with me,” she said. A slight sardonic smile traced her lips.
“Where are we going?” I asked but I she didn’t answer. I followed her through the club to a door. I had never been behind before. Dennis was stood in the corner. He was silent and pale. He had a lit cigarette between his fingers. He was holding it at his lips but he wasn’t smoking. He was staring blankly in front of him.
I stopped. Tabitha removed a bundle of keys from the pocket of the thin, grey silk shirt she wore.
“What’s going on?” I wondered out loud. I was watching Dennis but he wasn’t taking anything or anyone around him.
She unlocked the door but before she opened it she said, “We have a surprise for you.”
She finally pulled the door aside. The room was dark. It took some time for my eyes to adjust but then I saw her. A woman huddled in the corner. She was sobbing heavily. Her face was terribly beaten from what I could tell.
“Madeleine?” I gasped, recognising my former colleague from the Coldford Chronicle. “What happened to you?”
Maddy couldn’t answer. She had been bound and gagged.
Tabitha gave a sharp laugh behind me. “She came looking for you. She came at the right time actually. It’s time to find out what you’re really made of.”
I looked at Maddy. My long term friend was in distress. Who knows what they had done to her. I had never seen such horror in the eyes of another. When Theresa was murdered I hadn’t witnessed any of it. I had just woken up next to her lifeless body. Now, Maddy was tied in the corner of some grotty back alley club.
“Let her go!” I insisted. I hoped my name could still carry some authority.
Tabitha’s lips tightened. “You’ve been with us for a while now and all you have done is watch. It is time to live up to your Grandfather’s name. Kill this girl.”
“You can’t be serious?” I gasped. Maddy whined. She struggled against her binds. The truth was, Tabitha had a wicked taste for games. I couldn’t tell if she was playing around or not.
“I’m deadly serious,” she replied. “Everyone has to do it. It’s our way of making sure what happens inside the club stays inside the club.”
Before I could rush at her, Tabitha closed the door again. The lock clicked. I was stuck in a dark room with one of my oldest friends. There was a gun on the table. Either one of us was leaving the Knock, Knock club alive or neither of us were.
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‘We weren’t like that’ is something I’m sure every generation grumbles about the one coming after them. I hear my fellow generation Xers despair about the millennials and how disconnected they are from the world. If it is true what we read we can assume them to be whiny, incapable of looking after themselves and completely unprepared for the harsh realities of life. If could be just that I’m on the wrong side of thirty and my fellows like to have something to moan about. The fashions, the television shows and the obsession with Ed Sheeran (as good a musician as I’m sure he is) are all strange to the genX. Then again, the Spice Girls, gladiators and skousers (skirt trousers) certainly raised a few eyebrows in the 90s and early noughties so who are we to judge?
Is it just a generational thing or is there a lack of understanding in the millennials? I don’t think so.
The millennials get a lot of stick in the media but I for one can see the amazing changes they are bringing to the world. My eldest niece (a millennial) defies what the media has to say about her generation. She is a confident, well educated and independent young woman who has just started her own business and is thriving. Like many of her peers she is ready to take the world on.
Despite the man buns and snap chat second life our millennials are up and coming and sure to do great things for our world. They will always fight for social justice. They work hard despite educations costs rising and getting on the property ladder is more difficult. So to you millennials, your ways seem strange to us but you will change the world for the better. Your contributions are invaluable.
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After my failed attempt to escape the club I kept to the room they had given me. They revered me because I bore the same name as my grandfather who founded their murderous group. I didn’t know how long I could count on their loyalty and I wasn’t prepared to find out. It had fallen to evening. Normally, some of the girls working the club would bring me food and water but not that day. That day I was left alone. My stomach grumbled in protest. I made up my mind. If they hadn’t killed me by the evening show which was about to start I assumed they weren’t planning on killing me period so I might as well eat.
The club was busy so I hoped to scuttle around unnoticed like a mouse in a fancy kitchen. Dennis was stood at the bar watching the stage. The chorus girls were fluttering around in a parade of sequins and feathers. They were preparing for Tabitha – the club’s top act – to take the stage and entertain the evening audience.
Dennis caught my eye. He had been the one to stop me leaving. I got the sense that if he had to be stuck managing the Knock, Knock then I wasn’t allowed to leave either. After all, my family had created the club that caused the disappearance of his wife and child. He knew I had no involvement in that. Up until a few weeks ago I didn’t even know the Knock, Knock club existed. I don’t think he blamed me but he seemed keen on keeping me around all the same.
He smiled with that over familiarity he carried with everyone. He waved at me and ushered me to join him. As I approached he swung a vibrant red bar stool round.
“Take a load off Sam,” Dennis urged but I chose to stand.
“I am hungry,” I whined like a child. My frustrations were beginning to surface. I had remained calm – even after my wife, Theresa, had been murdered. I had decided that I would get the full story, take it to the newspaper I worked for in my previous life and expose the club and all its members. I wouldn’t let Theresa die in vain but it was becoming more difficult with each passing day.
Dennis leaned back over the bar. The girl tending bar lit up as he addressed her. “Have a plate of something brought out for Sam, will you kid?”
The girl abandoned her post immediately and danced off to the kitchens.
“How long are you going to keep me here?” I asked. “What do you want from me?”
Dennis didn’t look at me. His large, doe like gaze remained fixed upon the stage. “It’s not my decision,” he stated. “I just run the place. The order comes from upper management.”
The band had been sent into a flurry, introducing Tabitha to her audience.
“Surely you don’t want to stay here either?” For someone who was overly familiar with everyone Dennis was a bit of a closed book so I tried my luck.
Dennis laughed and finally he did look at me. “Where would I go? Everything I had is gone.” He must have sensed he had said too much because his eyes turned back to the stage. “The club needs someone to lead. The need someone with the Crusow name. Until you are ready to deal with that or they find a replacement both you will be kept here,” he explained.
Tabitha was now on stage. She had been the one to introduce me to Knock, Knock. She had been there at the police station when I was accused of murder. She had done similar for Dennis. She was the reason we both were now in the clutches of the Knock, Knock club. She was an attractive woman with long, flowing brunette hair and a steely grey stare. Her face was soft, round and innocent in appearance but there was an underlying malice. On stage she wore a top hat and tales. Her lips were painted a vibrant shade of purple. Her singing voice was sultry but soft, deep but feminine.
“We could both leave,” I boldly suggested to Dennis. “If we put our heads together they couldn’t stop us.”
Dennis stopped to wave to one of the regular patrons. “Almost eight, Frank. Getting better!” he called over jovially. The man laughed and waved back. He took a seat near the back, adjusting the button on his jacket so they wouldn’t be too strained over his ample stomach.
Dennis didn’t reply to my suggestion. I was almost at the point of repeating it when the bar maid returned with a plate of curling fries. The smell of grease caused my mouth to water. I took the plate from her with a firm thank you and laid it on the bar. I immediately set to digging in, using my fingers instead of waiting for eating irons.
“I promise I will help you find your kid,” I told him.
Dennis suddenly seemed morose so I said nothing more. It was more his loyalty to Tabitha that kept him at the club. Until I found out why that was he was never going to help me.
Those were the unfortunate circumstances I had fallen into. I didn’t like Dennis and I suspected he didn’t like me much either but there we were, stuck together, watching Tabitha entertain.
We stood in silence. I finished the food and the bar maid slid a whiskey over to me to wash it down. One of the door men approached, leaning into Dennis but still speaking loudly over the music.
“There is someone at the door looking for you.”
Dennis was disinterested. He was busy watching Tabitha engage with the audience. “If they don’t have an invite they don’t get in.”
The door man’s goon look made him a natural as bouncer. The goon looked confused as he tried to process too many words at once. “It’s a little kid,” he said.
Dennis straightened up his tall, lean frame. He groaned in frustration. He picked up a whiskey but there was nothing left but the glass. He slid it down to the bar maid. “Fill that, will you?” he instructed. “With the good stuff.”
I didn’t have anything to do. My stomach was now happily swimming in grease and whiskey so I followed him to the club’s main door that led onto the alley. Tabitha watched us from a distance. Dennis pulled open the door. Standing in the alley was a little boy of about nine or ten. He was wearing grey shorts and an oversized black sweatshirt which was made for a man double his size. He face was filthy and his knees scraped.
“I can’t help you, kid,” Dennis said without an introduction. “There’s nothing here for you. Over eighteens only. Try your luck at the Town Hall.”
The boy didn’t flinch. He was a tough little thing. I could see it but Dennis seemed to have overlooked the resemblance.
“Are you Dennis Platt?” he asked.
“Who’s asking?” Dennis was becoming suspicious.
“I’m Milo,” he announced. “I’m your son.”
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June 18, 2017 | Categories: Knock, Knock, Knock, Knock EP 9: The Daddy of Them All | Tags: author, blog, blog series, blogger, club, crusow, cult, Knock, Knock, sam, thriller, vivika widow | 5 Comments
Travelling home from anatomy class in my second year of medical school I was musing to a friend about how beautiful the city of Aberdeen was and yet how grey and atmospheric.
“Just pretend you are in a Stephen King book,” she suggested.
This was great advice. I mean who doesn’t love Stephen King books? Perhaps wouldn’t want to be caught in the middle of one but you get the gist.
With building stories and characters never far from my mind, as I skipped down the rain lashed streets the premise for ‘Knock, Knock’ started to brew. It was a slightly different story then and some earlier drafts are best kept to myself. Needless to say my love of cheesy old horror movies played a huge part.
Thankfully after a lot of development, advice and more rainy day pondering I am excited to see ‘Knock, Knock’ be enjoyed.
It took eleven years for it to finally be penned and as much as I would have loved to have made it available as a book I felt that it wouldn’t be served much justice so it was broken up into an ongoing blog series.
I hope you have enjoyed reading it so far and look forward to where Sam’s adventures will take him next. For those who haven’t read it yet it is available exclusively on vivikawidow.com from Episode 1.
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The door creaked. The lock clicked. She took a seat at the finely carved oak table. It was a dusty old room in the farthest side of the castle. The narrow window would have offered a far reaching view of the sea if it weren’t obscured by stained glass. The sea roared against the rocks below as the wind raged a violent war through the early evening. The glow of a single candle was all that illuminated the oval study.
She reached below the table and from inside a wicker basket she drew a viper. The creature hissed at her but she had no fear. She spread its body along the table at full length. From the inside of her cloak she drew a dagger. Clutching it in one hand she severed its head with the other. She put the head to her lips and rested it there for a while before splaying her tongue and swallowing it. When she felt the chewed remains nestle in her stomach. She leaned her head back.
“On this night, cold and dreary,
I will not lie hungry and weary.
Let them hear every word of my call.
Those who stand against me, in pain shall fall.”
Her incantation was disturbed by the shuffle of a child. Her eyes sprang open. In the corner was a heap of purple silk. She climbed to her feet and pulled the silk away revealing a cage, large enough to hold the biggest brute of a dog. Sat in the middle was a boy who had seen no more than eight summers. He clutched his knees to his chest and whimpered.
“You’re disturbing me!” she snapped.
The little boy dared not meet her striking blue eyes. “I want to go home,” he sobbed.
She smiled. She clutched the bars of his cage. “The only way you are going home little boy is as chopped up pieces in a box. Would you really put your mother through that? Now shut up before I silence you completely.
She spat on the boy. The skin on his face where the sputum landed burned. He pushed himself as far away from her as he could but his efforts were fruitless. There was no safety to be found.
A knock at the door stopped her from moving any further. She rolled her eyes impatiently and threw the silk back over the cage.
“Come in,” she ushered the visitor. The impatience was telling in her voice.
Her most trusted maid pushed the door aside.
“Your kingdom awaits, Your Majesty.”
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