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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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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

Following my wife’s death I lived at the ‘Knock, Knock’ club. I spent most of my time in the spacious but neat apartment at the top of the building they had granted me. Someone had placed a photograph of the club founders in it. I only knew this was my grandfather, having never met the man, because of the striking resemblance he bore to my mother. From what I could understand of the club I was now at the mercy of, they paid homage to him as one of their founding members. I hadn’t gathered enough nerve yet to ask more than they had already told me. The club was no more than a cult. When my mother gave birth to me – the son of a lowly fisherman – she ran to the city of Coldford from her island home in Westcliff. As the last remaining member of the Crusow family, half of The Group wanted me dead and the other half, like the Knock, Knock club manager Dennis and the cabaret performer Tabitha, were striving to keep me alive.

Since my first visit my wife, Theresa, had been murdered by those trying to flush me out. Tabitha had put a bullet through the Mayor of Coldford’s head because his wife was a member of the club and his affairs, gambling and general wasting of the city’s money was beginning to bother her. I should have left then but I had nowhere else to go and that until I embraced the club’s protection I wouldn’t be safe anywhere. I didn’t fear that. I guess what kept me there so long was that I was a reporter by trade and this was a story too rich to let go. The club spread to very high places and if I kept quiet long enough I could blow the whole thing open. I realise now how naïve I was in thinking this but I had nothing else.

According to Tabitha, the club allowed protection for its members even through depressions like the one that Coldford was experiencing at that time. Times were desperate and the members need not suffer the indignity of poverty when there was so much of the flesh, blood and belongings of non members to go around.

I couldn’t really tell if I was being held prisoner or not. After all, having the same name as my grandfather, Samuel Crusow, they held me in such high regard. I never tried to leave. Tabitha – niece of The Group’s co founder, Tawny – made it quite clear that there was no point. Their influence spread far and wide. The police had already suspected me as being responsible for Theresa’s murder. All the club had to do was to call into their members at Coldford police department and I would snapped up and put in a cell for the rest of my life. Given the choice, my room at the club was much more comfortable.

The girl’s at the club kept me kept me supplied with food and drink.It wasn’t great quality. The meat was gritty and the cider was on the turn but it was better than anything outside and there was enough of it to feed a large family. When I looked out of the window I could see men, women and children scrounging in the alley for a decent meal. The Coldford depression being so severe even the soup kitchens couldn’t stay open. I had taken to putting what food I could into plastic bags and dropping them from the window so the wretched homeless would be able to find something to eat.

I started to become familiar with the patrons and staff at ‘Knock, Knock’ without actually getting to know them. I didn’t like being on my own so much so I loomed about the club like the ‘Knock, Knock’ mascot. One afternoon I wandered down into the main club floor. The last stragglers from the matinee sessions were beginning to clear out to make way for the dinner visitors. Dennis was leaning against the bar, overseeing the rush of staff, preparing for the biggest show of the day.

Take a load off Sam,” he instructed.

Normally only people who know me well enough called me Sam but Dennis was one of those types who treated everyone like they were life long friends. It didn’t matter if he had known them five minutes or five years. I had come to expect it from him.

The girl behind the bar, A flaming haired beauty barely out of her teens named Lisa, poured a whiskey and slid it over to me.

What’s happening?” I asked.

Nothing more than the usual,” he replied.

Tabitha came tearing from backstage. She wore gents trousers, white shirt and black waistcoat. Her lips were tightened with fury. She was clutching a blood stained shirt in her hand which she threw at Dennis. Dennis barely flinched.

One life for another. It’s only fair don’t you think?” he remarked.

Am I missing something?” I asked. My reporter mind was ready to take note. If there was some division between Tabitha and Dennis I could exploit then perhaps getting away from them would be easier than I thought.

Tabitha just sneered at Dennis. “He was mine!” she snarled before storming backstage again.

Dennis turned into the bar. He threw the bloodied shirt to Lisa. “Trash that will you kid?” he instructed. The girl disappeared through a narrow door at the end of the bar that led onto the alley. No doubt the spot where the Knock, Knock club disposed of its evidence.

Tabitha told me her story. She was born into this. How did you come to be involved?” I asked. I hoped Dennis would assume I was enquiring as a friend and not a nosey journalist.

***

Dennis relayed his tale to me. Before the ‘Knock, Knock’ club he lived in the small town of Millefort, outside of the city, towards the coast. It would have been the first piece of civilisation my mother would have met when she carried me in her arms from Westcliff.

Dennis and his father, David, were traders who thrived on their ideal location between the docks where exciting food, clothes and trinkets would arrive from foreign lands and the city of Coldford where there were (at that time) plenty of customers willing to spend on such treasures. They had a happy life – at least that was how Dennis described it. He was married to a beautiful, if not a little neurotic, woman named Julianne. She was carrying their first child. Perhaps a boy? Perhaps a girl? They didn’t care as long as the baby was healthy. David Platt had bid Dennis’ mother a heartfelt farewell as she ended a long suffering year of a disease doctors couldn’t combat but whilst David had his son and a grandchild on the way he wasn’t ready to join her yet.

As Dennis set the scene it made me consider that this kind of contentment was only the pleasant, sun drenched calm before the storm. After all, he had went from family man with everything most people would covet to a grotty back alley club in Coldford where murder is all part of the entertainment.

Ships had been arriving with new products and Dennis had been at the Millefort Harbour to greet them. As the deliveries were being carried from the ship to the waiting ‘Platt and Son’ van, one of the helpers allowed the crate he was carrying to slip from his fingers.

Woah!” Dennis cried as some of the coffee beans it contained spilled out from torn packets. “Be careful with that or I’m going to have to charge you.”

Sorry sir,” murmured the helper.

Just get it loaded into the van,” said Dennis, checking his watch to see how much time had been wasted.

As the delivery men busied themselves loading the van, Dennis spied a girl sat at the edge of the pier. She had pulled her heavy fur coat close to her chin. Her white stockinged legs dangled over the edge.

Are you okay kid?” he asked, approaching her slowly so she wouldn’t be frightened by the sudden appearance of a stranger.

She looked up at him. Her rich attire and the diamonds that sparkled in her ears were unusual for Millefort. It was a laid back town, with earthy people. Her eyes were a pale grey, her lips painted a vibrant red. “I need to get to Westcliff,” she said.

They don’t have any passenger ships here,” instructed Dennis. The girl looked solemnly out across the water. “What is your name?”

Tabitha.”

Where have you come from?”

Filton. I’m looking for my aunt. She’s in Westcliff.”

Dennis, looking back at the delivery men who were closing the van up, said to Tabitha, “A boat ain’t going to magically appear kid.” He reached out and helped her onto her feet again which were clad in crushed velvet shoes. “Why don’t you come home with me and we can get you sorted.”

Dennis had expected Tabitha to resist climbing into a large blue van with a man she didn’t know but she thought nothing of it. She rode in silence beside him. Dennis had many questions that he wanted to ask her but he followed her lead and said nothing.

When they reached his home he finally said, “Don’t worry, I’ll smooth it over with my wife.”

The van crawled in front of a whitewashed bungalow. It was early evening by then. Darkness was smothering the sun underneath a pillow of stars. The lights in the houses were beginning to illuminate the narrow street. A large window at the front bathed the dark, tidy lawn in an azure glow.

A woman came charging into the light of the headlamps. She was dressed in a thin nightdress and was barefoot despite the chill in the air. She was heavily pregnant.

Dennis grunted, brought the van to a complete stop and rolled down the window. He leaned out and called to her, “Julie, what the Hell are you doing? I could have ran you over!” He climbed out and Tabitha followed.

What kept you?” asked Julianne. “I was worried.” She linked her arm through her husband’s and stared at the stray girl he had brought home.

You know its a long drive. I found this girl. She was lost.”

Julianne reached her free hand out and took Tabitha’s in hers. “Who are you?”

My name is Tabitha. I need to get to my aunt in Westcliff.”

This is the wrong direction,” said Julianne coldly. “You won’t get far tonight. You had better come inside.”

Tabitha’s grey eyes clouded. She pulled her coat closer to her frame. “I wouldn’t want to inconvenience you,” she said as she followed the couple heading towards their front door.

My husband has brought his fair share of strange women into my home.” Julianne pulled her arm away from Dennis and entered the house first.

Despite Julianne’s obvious discomfort at having her there, Tabitha remained with them. The days rolled on and the weeks went by. Julianne avoided her where possible. Dennis managed to decipher that her parents whom she lived with in Filton had died in a terrible accident. The details of this accident were too painful to discuss. The only living relative she had left was an aunt (her grandfather’s sister) who lived on the island of Westcliff. The only worldly possessions she had were the expensive clothes she had been wearing when Dennis met her and a bankers note that would allow her to draw on her parent’s accounts which were extensive. She was hesitant to do this. She settled into the home of the Platt family and despite her eagerness to get to Westcliff on the first day, she never mentioned it again.

What age do you suppose she is?” Julianne asked as she and Dennis watched the stranger from a distance. The stranger they had invited into their home for a night was now sat comfortably in their sofa – blue leather with delicately carved wooden trimmings that was Julianne’s pride and joy – watching their television.

I don’t know. Sixteen, seventeen maybe?”

Julianne groaned and rubbed her swollen womb. “She said she was going to board a boat to Westcliff weeks ago. Why is she still here? The baby will be here any day now and we will need the room back.”

Tabitha’s explanation of her life in Filton was sketchy. She wouldn’t draw on her parent’s accounts to pay for her upkeep or find somewhere more luxurious to live. Judging by what clothes and jewellery she had with her she was wealthy. Filton was a haven for the rich. She did what she could to earn her board by helping David – who lived next door to his son – with the accounts for their trading. She did this with the meticulous detail of an expert. She didn’t pay for her food but she fetched whatever they needed and cooked it so that Julianne didn’t have to. She told them that she had written to her aunt, inviting her to the mainland to help her sort her parent’s affairs and was awaiting a response.

More time went by. A little baby boy with Dennis’ dark eyes and the soft wisps of Julianne’s chestnut hair was brought into the family. He was named Milo and even Julianne had to admit that Tabitha’s help in dealing with the infant was invaluable. Tabitha held Milo in her arms a lot. She sang to him, she danced around the room with him. Whenever he saw her face he would break into an adoring, gummy grin. David adored her too. At the end of the day Tabitha was quiet and solemn but when it came to people she was a vibrant performer. Times were bliss for the Platt family. Life was complete.

That baby of yours must be keeping you up all night,” quipped one of the Coldford buyers when Dennis struck a deal much lower than he normally would.

You’ve just caught me in a good mood,” Dennis laughed. “Don’t expect the same next month.

Don’t let him kid you,” piped up another. “It’s that young girl writing the accounts that’s got him in such high spirits.” Dennis shrugged off the comment and made his way back home.

The house had been surprisingly quiet. Milo wasn’t crying. There was no bickering between Julianne and Tabitha. Tabitha was alone in the den. She was sat on the edge of the sofa wearing her coat. There was a large deep crimson blood stain across the wall as though something or someone had been whacked hard with a heavy blunt object.

What happened? Where’s Julie?” asked Dennis.

She’s gone,” murmured Tabitha. “She tried to hurt me. She tried to hurt Milo but I stopped her. She took him and now she’s gone.”

Dennis was breathless. His wife and child were gone. A thick blood stain was all that remained. He checked Milo’s room to see with his own eyes if what Tabitha told him was true. His instincts then drew him towards his father.

David’s gone too,” Tabitha called after him as he darted next door.

Dennis found his father’s door open. His television was blaring loudly as it always did. There was a bullet hole in the back of his head. His eyes were wide. The image of the assailant still printed on the whites.

Tabitha had followed behind him and laid a consoling hand on his shoulder. “I’m sorry,” she whispered. “It’s time I cashed my parents accounts. We can get out of here.”

Dennis shook his head, forcing back the sobs in intense breaths. “She murdered my father. She took my boy.”

There’s nothing here for either of us. Come with me to Coldford. My aunt has written to me. She will meet us there. She will find Julianne faster than the police ever could.”

Dennis finished his story. I leaned back against the bar. I realised I was still holding the same empty glass I had had at the beginning of his tale.

So you came to Coldford with Tabitha. You believed that your wife suddenly went crazy, murdered your father and ran off with your boy? Didn’t it occur to you that it was probably Tabitha – you know, the member of this ridiculous group who believe they have licence to murder.”

A smile crawled across Dennis’ lips. “Of course it did. It still does.”

Then why come here?”

I believed her when she said she could find my son. She loved Milo. I had no reason to think she would hurt him. Like you, I had nowhere else to go. The club replaced the family I lost. Now I can’t be without them. Whatever happened to Julianne, Milo is still alive. I know it.”

How long ago was this?”

About eight … no ten years ago. Milo will be ten now.”

How can you look her in the eye? She could have been responsible for it all,” I felt the need to remind him.

Dennis emitted a cold peal of laughter. “Did it occur to you that she may have had something to do with the death of your wife too?”

I hadn’t really considered it before but Dennis’ words hit me like a bolt of lightening. “I guess she could have …”

Like me you will always have that at the back of your mind but you will never leave this club. I am no founding member,” Dennis explained. “I don’t have any family name to hold on to. The club would rather see me dead than expend any effort in keeping me sweet. I have no choice but to play their game.”

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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

KNOCKKNOCK_vivikawidow_Blurb

 

It was my thirteenth birthday and I was spending it with my Aunt Lola. She was a quirky old lady who had known me since I was born. She wasn’t really my aunt at all but she had been such a close family friend she earned herself the title. I had come to live with her after an unfortunate accident with a moose and a very high cliff claimed the lives of my parents.

Well Loopy,” she said. (This was just a nickname she had for me. My real name is Lucy) “I can’t believe you are thirteen years old already.”

Given that I was so accident prone, having broken several bones several times, I was pretty mesmerised that I had reached teenage years too. Aunt Lola always made a big fuss of me on my birthday. She had no children of her own so all of her affection was aimed towards me. She gave the most random and strange gifts each year so now that I was a little older and a little more ready for her antics I couldn’t wait to see what was in store. She put an envelope into my hand and kissed my forehead. “I hope you like this one.”

My hands began to shake. Given my aunt’s fondness for all things odd there was no telling what the envelope contained. Therein could lie the secret to a number of mysteries. It could hold the key to eternal life. It could be a coupon for 10% off at any local clothes store. I tore open the envelope excitedly. A shining slip of paper fell onto my lap. I picked it up allowing the coloured paper to delight the eyes. On that special paper read the words, ‘Special Access to the Museum’. Well it wasn’t the secret to the universe but it was a great idea none the less. I was the strange kid who would rather sit in the corner of the playground reading about battles of old than play with the other children. I would much rather hear what ancient Greek philosophers had to say than my fellow classmates who stood at the edge of the football park picking their noses.

There was no time to lose. I had heard on the radio the week before that the local museum had just opened a new exhibit on Ancient Egypt. I grabbed my shining red rain jacket that was water proof but still light and airy. I pulled on my backpack which had the emblem of several superheroes embroidered on it. Aunt Lola had been complaining of what she called ‘the hardships of older ladies’. I wasn’t sure what exactly this meant but to combat it she had to lie with her feet elevated and a piece of silver on her forehead, counting backwards from one hundred.

I decided to leave the Egypt exhibit to the end. It had been busy when I arrived with business men awing at the new set up and mothers being dragged by their progeny because they thought it looked ‘cool’.

The day began to wind down. The museum emptied itself of the day trippers and quietened. As I walked through the main foyer the rubber soles of my shoes squeaked. I saw the fresh sign that directed the way to Ancient Egypt.

There was a lot of gold around. The walls were covered In hieroglyphs. I couldn’t tell if the curators had actually read the hieroglyphs or if they were merely there to impress the visitors because from what I could read they told of a bathroom disaster somewhere off the banks of the Nile.

As I absorbed all of the knowledge that the exhibit had to offer I heard the doors to the section close. I was the only person around, living at least. The lights dimmed except on the large mummy that was encased at the end of the hall. His face had been preserved all that time in a stern expression. The accompanying information explained that his name was ‘Ahmose’. He had been a fisherman but not a particularly good one. His people saw him as cursed, a jinx if you will. Ahmose was responsible for all the ill fate that befell them. Poor Ahmose. It seems he was accident prone like me. Because he had bumped into a builder, causing him to fall, destroying the temple that was in construction it seems he was now preserved for people of my year to gawk at his stupidity. They took jinxed folk very seriously in those days.

My head was buzzing with all the warmth, knowledge and dusty artefacts that the museum had to offer. I made my way back out to the main hall intent on catching the bus home. I pulled open the door but it was locked. ‘Surely they would check everyone had gone before they locked up,’ I thought. There was a heavy smash. My heart leapt from the steady thud of a tortoise to the gallop of a hare. I could feel a presence looming behind me but I couldn’t bare to look.

Argh!’ cried a dusty, throaty voice.

Slowly I did turn. Ahmose was now standing upright for the first time in many years. The paper that gave me special access to the museum slipped from my pocket. Ahmose reached down to pick it up with a crunchy crack of his mid section. He clasped it between the remains of his fingers and held it out to me.

Leave me alone!” I screamed. “Help!” Surely the museum wasn’t deserted.

Argh!” Ahmose replied.

With a quiver of my extremities I reached into my pocket and took out my mobile phone which Aunt Lola insisted I carried in case of emergencies. I was pretty sure that being attacked by the undead could very well be considered an emergency.

Hello?” Aunt Lola answered.

Help me!” I cried out.

What’s wrong?” she asked still calmly balancing the silver on her forehead.

A mummy! Its came to life. I have to get out of here!”

Most people when they tell their aunt something like this they either think they are crazy or attempting a practical joke. Not my aunt. She returned as though it was an everyday occurrence. “Do you like him?” she asked.

Like him? Its a mummy! He’s going to kill me!”

Aunt Lola groaned. “Oh don’t be so dramatic Loopy. He’s your birthday present. Don’t you like him?”

I stared at Ahomse. He stumbled backwards almost tripping over his own left foot. “Argh!” he groaned again looking at his left leg. “How many people can boast having their own mummy,” continued my aunt.

Not many,” I agreed.

Enjoy,” she said and hung up leaving me alone with the dial tone and my mummy.

Ahmose lifted a piece of pottery from the shelving. It slipped from his fingers and smashed on the floor.

My most immediate problem was devising a plan to get out of the museum that looked possibly locked, take my mummy on the bus and get home whilst not getting caught for thieving from the museum.

Next birthday I’ll just ask for clothes?

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My dearest uncle,

I beseech you. I have written thrice before and have yet had no response. I hear that your kingdom is in turmoil. I long to help you bring the traitors to justice but if I leave my post they will hang me for desertion.

Three days ago, in the early morning, I was given a notice that I am accused of treason. This suggestion that I have led the rebellious forces against you was signed by your own hand. I have spent my life being nothing but loyal to you as my uncle and as my king. Just say the word and let me return home safely. I will find the ones spitting poison in your ears and I will have their heads.

Should you decide that my death is necessary just remember, my mother loved you. She took her own life because she couldn’t be with you. The idea of the separation was too much for her.

I hear that the one they call Annabelle now rules beside you. Be wary of her, for she has the eyes of a hawk and the tongue of a viper. A darkness follows her, the likes of which I have never seen.

Should I never see you again please know that I went to my death continuing to proclaim my innocence.

Your loving and devoted nephew.

Charles

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So I admit, it gave it more than a second thought. Holding the card tightly between my fingertips wondering ‘who was this woman from my home land who seemed to know me?’ I had left Westcliff at such a young age that I don’t remember meeting anyone there and they most certainly wouldn’t remember me. Then there was the club – The ‘knock, Knock’ club – that I had been invited to. I had never heard of it before that night either yet it seemed strangely familiar.

Why don’t we go out and celebrate my new job,” I suggested to my wife.

She was apprehensive. “Where would you like to go?”

I raised my eyebrows and offered a wry smile. “I hear there is at least one club open in this town. I may even be on the guest list.”

Theresa slapped my shoulder playfully. She managed a smile. “That isn’t funny Sam. That woman threatened you. She was horrible!”

I put my arm around her. “Don’t worry. Nothing is going to happen to me. It will give me the chance to find out what she wanted. Would you rather stay here?”

Theresa shook her head. “No I don’t want to be home alone again.”

I’m sure you will find that it was all for nothing. They probably just have something to do with the mayor and are trying to scare me from the story.”

Theresa hesitantly agreed…

***

Around eight, Theresa and I wandered the rain lashed streets. Most clubs and restaurants in the town were closed but none of those open were called ‘Knock, Knock’ The rain had stopped so I carried a large black umbrella under my arm.

Let’s just go home Sam. I don’t think we are going to find that club,” Theresa said.

A couple disappeared down an alley way. The woman clutched the man’s arm. She was giggling. She was dressed for a night out. Far more fancy than necessary for an alleyway tryst. I silently urged Theresa to stay as I followed them. The knocked on an old metal door. As the metal door opened a rush of music escaped. The couple went inside. It had to be the ‘Knock, Knock’ club. A lot of clubs had gone exclusive to avoid licensing that were crushing other establishments. Perhaps it was my own apprehension, or maybe empathy for my wife’s concerns but I found myself asking, “Are you sure about this?”

Theresa gripped my arm. “We are just going to see if we can find some information aren’t we?”

I smiled and sighed, the nerves gathered as a fluttering in my chest. We approached the heavy door. The main street seemed one million miles away. The door wasn’t particularly welcoming for a cabaret club. The sign above offered a light humming drown as the bulbs committed tirelessly to their duty.

I knocked heavily – twice for the irony. After a few tense moments the door was finally opened. A tall man with a cigarette between his lips greeted us. He was adorned in a sharp – well tailored black suit, a power red tie and a white shirt.

Evening,” he muttered without removing the cigarette. “Table for two?” With a flick of his wrist a scantily clad young girl dashed over and ushered us to a vacant table. She offered us a menu each. They were simple, black with the name of the club on it. It was sticky and well used. A stage as the main focus of the club. The band was deep in their music. The chorus girls were dancing in a parade of sequins and feathers. The ‘Knock, Knock’ club was actually so homey it was a pleasant place to be. Theresa even began to settle. We ordered some food. It wasn’t fine dining but it was effective none the less.

The man who had greeted us at the door stepped onto the stage. He had replaced his suit jacket with one from an outfit of evening wear. His red tie was now a black bow.

Good evening ladies and gentlemen,” his voice boomed over the soft playing of the band. Most of the room looked up from their conversations and offered him their full attention – including my wife and I. “Welcome to the knock, knock club. It has now come to that part of the evening that we love. I know it’s my personal favourite. Please welcome on stage – knock, knock’s finest – Miss T.” In a rush of drums and wind instruments, like the welcoming flag parade of a queen, the man rushed from the stage. The spotlight caught a very striking woman in its clasp. She was met with a thunderous applause. I turned back to Theresa just as one of our waitresses laid down a plat of strange meat. I thanked her and she replied in the way of a well taught serving girl who can offer politeness without saying a word. I looked at Theresa. Her already pale face had drained of all colour.

What’s the matter?” I asked.

She reached her quivering hand out and pointed to the stage. “That’s her! That’s the woman who came looking for you.”

***

I turned back to the stage. Miss T was singing a melody with a touch of old school cabaret and the smallest hint of raunchiness. She wore a silver dress which glinted underneath the stage lights. Her voice was sultry and deep. It was a pleasant tone, soft and warm like honey.

Theresa remained frozen in her chair, staring at Miss T until the performance was over, complete with appreciative calls from the crowd. I stood.

Where are you going?” Theresa cried gripping my arm.

I’m going backstage to find out what she wanted.”

Theresa shook her head furiously. “Please don’t. Just leave it. Let’s go home.”

If I’m not back in ten minutes alert the police.”

Theresa’s hand instinctively went to her mouth to conceal the true level of her grief.

I was surprised that no on stopped me as I slipped backstage. At the end of a long hall, carpeted in a very rich shade of purple, lay a door with the letter T on it. I assumed it to be Miss T’s dressing room. I knocked.

Come in,” came the same silken sound to match the singing. As Theresa had said, her voice was sprinkled with the harsh but musical tones of West cliff accent. I pushed open the door. The cabaret singer was facing the mirror so she spoke only to my reflection.

You are very lost, my man,” she said. A smile formed. There was a larger than normal gap between her front teeth which gave her an almost child like quality. She had removed some of the pins from her hair so her chestnut brown tresses were in disarray.

I’m Sam Crusow,” I said with some severity. “You came to my house.”

She smiled. “You are mistaken. I don’t make house calls.”

I became more frustrated. “My wife is outside waiting on me. She recognised you. She told me you were from Westcliff.”

The woman’s smile widened. “I’m not the only one to leave dear old rainy Westcliff for the opportunities of the big city. Look at yourself.”

I could feel tension building in my shoulders. “Just stay away from me and stay away from my wife!”

As I proposed to storm away the singer finally turned herself to face me. She pulled me back with a ferocious grip. “Now, Sam, let’s not get excited. Your name, is it a family name?” she asked.

I found myself replying, “My grandfather was named Samuel.”

My name is Tabitha. I’m sorry if I frightened poor little Theresa. I’m not going to harm you. I’m trying to protect you.”

There are people out there who would seek to destroy what your father built.”

Having never known my father or anything about him, other than his name, this came as quite a shock. “What do you know about my father?”

Tabitha lowered her eyes. “Nothing that I can discuss with you now. I’m due back on stage in a few minutes. If you go outside you’ll find that Theresa has already left. I believe you told her to alert the police. She doesn’t mess around does she? I suggest you stop her before she does something childish like tattle to the authorities. If you come back to the club tomorrow I will give you everything I have.”

***

I managed to catch up with Theresa just outside the club. She embraced me tightly and kissed my cheek. “What happened?”

Nothing, it’s fine. Like I said just someone playing silly beggars trying to stop me covering the story on Mayor Feltz.”

Theresa wrapped her arm around mine and brought herself close to me. She still seemed to be a little shaken but the crisp night air did some work in taking away our cares.

We found our bright green door lying ajar. We both stopped suddenly.

Wait here!” I instructed, leaving her and venturing into the house to assess the damage.

The door hinges were broken. The furniture overturned. In the initial inspection it appeared that nothing had been taken. Someone had been just trying to shake me up. What was clear though was that whoever it was, they were relentless.

Wiley reporter Sam Crusow has gotten himself in way too deep.

Missed the previous episodes? Read the story from the beginning.

EPISODE 1 

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EPISODE 3 (LIVE NOW)