Posts Tagged ‘blog’

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.

No!”

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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Check out the story from the beginning:

Knock, Knock (Episode 1): Welcome to the Club

Knock, Knock (episode 2): Don’t Come Knockin’

Knock, Knock (Episode 3): Sleep Tight Sam

Knock, Knock (Episode 4): Take A Bow

Knock, Knock (Episode 5): Big City Kid

Knock, Knock (Episode 6): Picking Up Strange Women

Knock, Knock (Episode 7): A Night Cap At The Club)

Knock, Knock (Episode 8): Just A Quick One

Knock, Knock (Episode 9) The Daddy Of Them All

Knock, Knock (Episode 10): Calling Last Orders

Knock, Knock (Episode 11): A Room with a View

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KNOCKKNOCK_vivikawidow_Blurb

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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Catch up from the beginning:

Knock, Knock (Episode 1): Welcome to the Club

Knock, Knock (episode 2): Don’t Come Knockin’

Knock, Knock (Episode 3): Sleep Tight Sam

Knock, Knock (Episode 4): Take A Bow

Knock, Knock (Episode 5): Big City Kid

Knock, Knock (Episode 6): Picking Up Strange Women

Knock, Knock (Episode 7): A Night Cap At The Club)

Knock, Knock (Episode 8): Just A Quick One

Knock, Knock (Episode 9) The Daddy Of Them All

Knock, Knock (Episode 10): Calling Last Orders

KNOCKKNOCK_vivikawidow_Blurb

‘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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For more thrillers click HERE to read the hit novella ‘Maestro’

Check out the story from the beginning:

Knock, Knock (Episode 1): Welcome to the Club

Knock, Knock (episode 2): Don’t Come Knockin’

Knock, Knock (Episode 3): Sleep Tight Sam

Knock, Knock (Episode 4): Take A Bow

Knock, Knock (Episode 5): Big City Kid

Knock, Knock [Episode 6] Picking up strange women

Knock, Knock: Episode 7 (A night cap at the club)

Knock, Knock: (Episode 8) Just a quick one

KNOCKKNOCK_vivikawidow_Blurb

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.

Subscribe to the page and have the next exciting episode of Knock, Knock sent straight to your inbox!

Knock, Knock (Episode 1): Welcome to the Club

Knock, Knock (episode 2): Don’t Come Knockin’

Knock, Knock (Episode 3): Sleep Tight Sam

Knock, Knock (Episode 4): Take A Bow

Knock, Knock (Episode 5): Big City Kid

Knock, Knock [Episode 6] Picking up strange women

Knock, Knock: Episode 7 (A night cap at the club)

KNOCKKNOCK_vivikawidow_Blurb

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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The grey skies of Westcliff were fitting for its rugged and harsh landscape. It was a cold, windy island were it rained frequently. Upon a large hill, at the highest point on the island stood a manor house, viewed with awe and respect. Therein lived the Crusow family. No one on the island spoke of it but the Crusow patriarch – Samuel Crusow – had amassed a great deal of power within the community. Samuel had one daughter. His sons were long gone. Emily Crusow had been walking the halls, carrying a child in her arms, sobbing for so long that the very stone of the building was beginning to vibrate with her grief. She had managed to keep the father of her child secret for the first few months of her son’s life. She should have known she couldn’t have kept him hidden forever.

Her father had been summoned by the jingling of bells as servants began to lay the long table for two. Samuel Crusow sat himself at the usual spot at the head of the table. A plate of thick broth was placed under his nose. Samuel immediately set about breaking bread. He had built up quite a hunger that day as it happened.

Will you stop with that incessant crying!” he barked at his daughter. Bread crumbs fell onto his full auburn beard.

Please, just let me and my baby go,” cried Emily. “We are no use to you now.”

Samuel smiled with a mouth full. He swallowed the masticated bread and replied, “Even if the little boy is a half breed, he can still be of use. He bares my name and bares my blood. He could find himself at the very top of our food chain if he is raised correctly. He has the chance here to become a great leader. He could have everything he could want and yet you wanted to take him away so he could starve and fade away like the rest them? You lost all chance of being his mother when you made that decision. When he is finished nursing you can go and join the rest of them on the ash heap but the boy stays.”

One of the maids who was most sympathetic to Emily’s plight tried to urge her to sit at the table. Emily pulled her baby closer to her. “You have to eat something,” groaned Samuel as he turned his attention to a newspaper one of the maids had left for him. “It’s not good for the baby.”

In the cover of darkness, in the silence of the night, Emily carried her baby away from the only home she had ever known, the monstrous building she had only just seen the outside of. A small fishing boat was waiting for her on the coast. She had to hurry. Her father’s reach was long and far. She didn’t know who she could trust. Her life had been dominated by ‘The Group’. Until she met Perry – a simple fisherman – she couldn’t conceive of a life outside the group. She didn’t wish for her son to suffer the same. With the help of some of the staff she managed to reach the outside. She didn’t shy away from the cutting wind, she embraced it. For Emily it meant freedom.

Where are you going?” Tawny McInney had been watching the Crusow house for most of the night. She had been meticulously noting in her mind the changes in lighting through the windows and any shadows moving behind the curtains. Her face was reddened and weather beaten. Her mass of mousey brown curls were hidden beneath a hood.

Please don’t hurt Sam,” Emily cried, knowing that pleading with Tawny wouldn’t do her much good.

Tawny leaned over and moved the sheets that the baby was wrapped in away from his face. He was fast asleep. He smacked his lips and turned towards the heat of his mother. “Your father is shuddering under the weight of ‘The Group’. He has lost touch with the principals we were founded on.”

Emily looked towards the water edge where Perry’s brother, Peter, was waiting to take her to the mainland and to safety. “I have to go,” said she. “I have to get away from my father before he hurts Sam or hurts me.”

Tawny had never been much of a sympathetic woman. In ‘The Group’ she was probably the most blood thirsty, even more so than Samuel. Something was brewing. ‘The Group’ had been questioning Samuel Crusow’s leadership. Tawny would be the one to step forward and take his place.

The Group is about to change in terrible and glorious ways. You do not want to be caught in the middle. Take your child to the safety of the mainland. Care for him. Perhaps one day when he is a man we will call upon him.”

To allow Sam to fall into the hands of Tawny and the other’s was a worse fate than anything Samuel would have in store. However, Tawny was offering her something that Emily didn’t have – time. Emily’s immediate concern was getting Sam away from the island. He could grow up away from ‘The Group’. Maybe they would find him one day but in the meantime taking him to the city was the best chance Sam would have. There in Coldford no one had yet heard the name, Samuel Crusow.

***

So my grandfather was a lunatic and he began this group who felt they were so above the rest of humanity that they could kill for whatever reason they felt necessary?” I said, probably sounding a little more concise in my head than the nonsense that escaped my lips.

Tabitha leaned back against the bar. She had long finished her tall glass of gin and soda. I was still nursing the whiskey in my hand, having held it so long it was warm.

That’s a rather crude way of putting it but that is the gist. Although, I must profess, your grandfather wasn’t a lunatic. He was a great man but he had lost his way. In the midst of the first great depression the islands were a harsh place to live. There were three prominent families – yours and mine included. Your grandfather saw to it that the worthy ones were provided for. Space, money and even blood and flesh had to be taken from the lowers otherwise the worthy ones would suffer and the lowers would feast on them like parasites.”

That is awful!” I exclaimed.

Tabitha laughed. “Well listen to the righteous man with the Crusow name.” She shook her head. “This was at a time when there was no trade to the island, the land couldn’t be cultivated and there were far too many mouths to feed. Something had to be done. The lowers were dying at a rapid rate anyway and if left unchecked they would have brought everyone down with them. They were going to die anyway but their lives didn’t have to be in vain. Like cattle raised for the slaughter they helped provide food, shelter and provisions for the worthy ones. Life could go on much as it had before.”

So what does that have to do with me?” I asked, trying to comprehend how I fit into it all now.

Tabitha tipped her glass over and began to roll it on its edge. “Well you are the key to it all. You are the last remaining Crusow. One of the founding members. That is a pretty important role don’t you think? My aunt was right to let your mother leave with you. In doing that ‘The Group’ managed to grow from some miserable little island cult to something much grander. When your mother had a child with one of the lowers it caused the members to look at how things were run, how it was decided who was lower and who was worthy in the first place. It was dangerous to keep you around, my aunt saw that but your grandfather didn’t.”

Where is my grandfather now? Is he still alive?”

Tabitha stopped fidgeting with her glass and stood it back upright. “When your mother escaped a sort of civil war was born within ‘The Group’. My aunt and your grandfather made for pretty powerful allies. They both still believed that those of lesser importance should be sacrificed for the benefit of those in authority. Samuel’s blood had mixed with that of the lowers when you were born. Some didn’t like that. Whilst the others bickered over the purity of ‘The Group’ my aunt set about restoring it to its former glory. My family followed you to Coldford. My aunt had promised your mother that she would find you. When she came to Coldford she saw the corruption in high places, like your mayor friend, the miserable wretches that swamped the streets. She had only just bought the club and cemented herself in Coldford society when she died and the second depression hit. Some of ‘The Group’ followed my aunt and thrived in the city. Others stayed behind with your grandfather and died out.”

The weight of grief began to press down on me again as I considered the scale of the situation I was in. “My wife is dead because of this. Theresa had nothing to do with any of this.”

Tabitha raised her eyebrows. “I’m genuinely sorry for what happened to Theresa. It was not our doing. There are still some out there who don’t like the idea of ‘The Group’ being led by a man who was sired by a fisherman. Theresa’s murder was a warning.”

Where does the mayor come in?” I had pondered the question constantly from the moment Dennis pulled a gun to the mayor’s head.

Mayor Feltz was a stupid man. His wife had used her connections with ‘The Group’ to gain political office. He then treated his wife and child terribly. The aid we gave him in getting his job was in the understanding that we would have influence in his office. He wasn’t willing to share. He felt that now he was mayor he could get away with anything. No one is above ‘The Group’.”

How have you managed to get away with this for so long?”

It’s very simple really,” she answered. “If you approach someone in power and tell them they have the right to decide the fates of those lower than them they tend to jump at the opportunity. Flattery is a very powerful tool. When that fails there is always good old fashioned threat of violence.”

I knew then that it was never going to be so easy as to walk out the door of the ‘knock, knock’ club and leave all this behind. They had people everywhere and now they were trying to make me their leader because I had the same name as the man crazy enough to begin it all in the first place. I asked myself again, not for the last time … what had I gotten myself into?

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Catch up from the beginning:

Knock, Knock (Episode 1): Welcome to the Club

Knock, Knock (episode 2): Don’t Come Knockin’

Knock, Knock (Episode 3): Sleep Tight Sam

Knock, Knock (Episode 4): Take A Bow