Tag Archives: shady city thrillers

Character Profile: Jean Luc Penn

“I demand respect, sir.”

Name: Jean Luc Penn (AKA Jeen)

Features in: KNOCK KNOCK

Age: Mid forties

Occupation: Legal representative of Penn Auction Houses

Having lived his life in the country of Luen, Jean Luc has a different view of Coldford City from his cousins. He holds the Penn name as one to be respected and can be ruthless in making sure this happens. He is a legal mind with specialist study in international relations. He is a charismatic, intelligent man with a natural pomposity that can often make him seem like a fish out of water in Coldford City’s notorious City Main.

He was one of the most trusted advisers to his cousin, REGINALD PENN. Early in his reign as the thuggish King of Main, Reginald had Jean Luc by his side as an enforcer of sorts. Reginald eventually asked him to take up the study of law. Jean Luc aquiesced to this request. Reginald told him it was because he was book smart and he needed ones he could trust to help with legalities but the truth was Reginald hadn’t liked what the violence was doing to his cousin. He wanted to spare him from that as much as possible.

They call them the Loyalists from the Loyal of Luen who came with the Penns generations previous. Loyality therefore is held as an important trait. Jean Luc is fiercely loyal to his family name and shrewd in his protection of them. Coldford will be an awakening for him as he comes to terms with life in the Shady City.

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Knock Knock: Episode 52: Absentee Bid

He hadn’t been in Coldford for some time. However, Jean Luc Penn, Reginald’s cousin from Luen, was not in the least bit surprised to note a completely different air in Main in light of the king’s demise. Two of the triplets were still detained and Simon had sent a frantic message telling him Faulds had been infiltrated by Wigan fanatics. Reggie was home alone which was always recipe for disaster.

Jean Luc had made preparations to come over the moment Reginald had been taken into custody but the king had told him not to. He requested that Jean Luc take care of their hold in Luen. They were going to have to rely on it in the days ahead. He requested that he concentrate on doing what he could for the boys. 

He had received an interesting letter from Ronald ‘Ronnie’ Owen, offering support. Jean Luc had been sceptical of this at first. Finally managing to speak to Marcus he confirmed he was able to work with Ronnie and confirm their release. 

“Keep your head down, keep quiet. I’ll do what I can to get you out of that place. You need to survive in there until I do. Look after each other. I’m in Coldford now. I’ll take care of Junior.” 

He hadn’t been in Coldford for some time. However, Jean Luc Penn, Reginald’s cousin from Luen, was not in the least bit surprised to note a completely different air in Main in light of the king’s demise. Two of the triplets were still detained and Simon had sent a frantic message telling him Faulds had been infiltrated by Wigan fanatics. Reggie was home alone which was always recipe for disaster. 

Jean Luc had made preparations to come over the moment Reginald had been taken into custody but the king had told him not to. He requested that Jean Luc take care of their hold in Luen. They were going to have to rely on it in the days ahead. He requested that he concentrate on doing what he could for the boys. 

He had received an interesting letter from Ronald ‘Ronnie’ Owen, offering support. Jean Luc had been sceptical of this at first. Finally managing to speak to Marcus he confirmed he was able to work with Ronnie and confirm their release. 

“Keep your head down, keep quiet. I’ll do what I can to get you out of that place. You need to survive in there until I do. Look after each other. I’m in Coldford now. I’ll take care of Junior.”

Taking care of Junior – a common phrase among the Penns in reference to the troublesome triplet. He would need to see doctors, therapists and undergo some rehabilitation. First thing was first, the Wigan problem. There were followers of St Wigan in Luen but they weren’t a sizeable population. Most of their international worship came from Levinkrantz. The epicentre of the entire religion was on Hathfield Bay island and from what Jean Luc heard it was spilling into Main. The lawyer saw it for himself when he arrived. Travelling from Timeline to De Marques Avenue, there were purple ribbons everywhere. The Loyalists who gathered to greet him at the entrance of Faulds were disorganised. Some of them were arguing with the Wigan followers crowding the doors. 


A bell was ringing. A follower in full robes was crying out about repentance. 

“Can’t someone shut that fucking man up?” Jean Luc snapped.

A high ranking Loyalist named Emmerson helped clear the way for him.

“I’m afraid we can’t, sir,” he said. “They have permission of Reginald Junior to be here.”

Jean Luc scowled.

“Is that so?”

“Welcome to fucking Coldford, sir,” Emmerson replied with some relief in his tone. Finally a Penn with some sense back in residence.


When the elevator brought Jean Luc to the penthouse he wasn’t greeted by Reggie right away. Instead it was Leona with an extended hand and wide smile.

“You must be Jean Luc,” she said. “Reggie told me all about ye. I’m Leona. It’s so nice to have ye with us.”

“Nice to have …” Jean Luc started to repeat to ease his disbelief. “Leona?” He pressed. “Where is Reggie?”

“He’s not been well. He had been resting but he’s just checking to see if we have an apartment for you.”

Jean Luc was unable to contain his frustrations no more.

“What about my own apartments? Reggie? Reginald Junior? Get yourself out here right now!”

He turned to Leona and took note of her shocked expression. Reggie emerged from the kitchens with a phone in his hand. He looked haggard. His hair was greasy, he was much thinner than the last time he saw him and the way his leg caused him to wince was deeply concerning. He was smiling though.

“Jeen!” He cried in greeting, devoid of all its natural warmth.

His voice was hoarse too. He had been smoking a lot. He fell into his cousins arms though and clutched him tightly.

“You had us all out of our minds with worry,” said Jean Luc, clasping his shoulders and kissing both cheeks.

“I’m good,” Reggie stated, some of his old self returning.

“If you are good then you can clear this building, starting with my apartments by the way.”

Reggie tried to explain.

“We’ve been celebrating. We’ve had a lot of visitors.”

This seemed to frustrate Jean Luc more. He gave an ironic chuckle.

“I do look forward to hearing what was so worthy of celebration whilst the ashes of your dear mother and father still smoulder, your brothers rot in that Hell hole up north and the Auction House remains closed with the absence of Jeremy.”

Reggie sighed. Leona kept silent at his side. She supposed he was used to his cousin’s attitudes.

Reggie managed a smile again.

“It’s been tough, like. You met Leona, right? She was there for me. She helped me through. She saved me when I couldn’t be saved.”

Jean Luc took the Wigan girl in. He summoned the most courteous smile he could under the circumstances.

“That is much appreciated, Madame. I’m sure His Majesty will make his gratitude known to you in his own time. You needn’t worry anymore. He’s in good hands. You can return to your place of worship now and take your kin with you.”

Reggie scowled at his cousin.

“I’m not sending her away. She belongs here.” He took Leona’s hand in his. “That’s what we are celebrating. That’s what I’m trying to tell you. I love her. Leona is my wife. We got married.”

Leona drew her other hand softly across her belly.

“We’re so happy. We’re going to have a baby and we didn’t want to have a bastard child.”

Not a man often caught unawares, Jean Luc was rendered speechless then. Marriage? A child on the way? Finally, he gathered his thoughts.

“Junior? A word in private if I may?”

Reggie was defiant.

“You can talk in front of my wife.”

They didn’t wish for privacy? So be it.

“Are you out of your fucking mind!?” Asked Jean Luc most sternly. “Look around you at this mess. The Loyal have no idea what they are doing. You are filthy, you have drugs in your system and now you tell me you are married and bringing a child into this? Nonsense, Junior.”

“If you’re not here to support me you can fuck off back to Luen,” Reggie snarled. “Leona was there for me. Where for the fuck where you?”

“Trying to keep your brothers alive,” Jean Luc retorted. “I’m here to bring this place back into order. Do you trust me to do that?”

Reggie nodded, his temper simmering.

“Of course I do.”

“Then stop acting like a love sick dog. Take a bath, clear this building out. As for you Madame, if you truly mean what you say about Reggie then you will agree to send your kin back to the commune or seek refuge at St Michael’s, I don’t really care which. The celebrations are over.”

“Jeen!” Reggie began to protest but he was weakening. He had dropped Leona’s hand.

Jean Luc reached out to steady him on his feet but he fell into an embrace.

“Harsh truths,” said the cousin. “It’s all so very harsh. I care about you, like my own son. I need you to listen to everything I have to say. Get my apartments cleared out. Get trusted men on the doors of this place and for the love of god sober up. I will bring Marcus and Simon home. We will live on. We will fight on.”

Reggie straightened up.

“Do you think Marcus and Si will be happy for me?” Asked the youngest triplet.

“I’m sure they will be ecstatic.”


The Knock Knock club was a well-known place of merriment. Even in the darkest times. They would mourn Agnes but Tabitha was known as the Boss Lady in the city and as such she had a reputation to uphold. From the moment Agnes Wilde had been murdered in Northside she had made it her mission to cause as much trouble as she could. Boss Lady, trouble, were all accurate names to describe her as you have come to discover.

“Come on, David,” she was sniping. “It has to be bigger than that.”

Artist, David Finn and Tabitha were working together to build a vision. On this day it hadn’t been the size of the canvas that Tabitha was referring to.

David was one of Shady City’s most renowned artists, had been commissioned for one of his most controversial paintings yet. The Fleet of Bellfield had learned that Northside based, Liam Tulloch’s, mother was a sore spot for him. It caused him to do stupid things when she was taunted and with an echo of ‘Paddy Mack shagged yer ma,’ reaching all the way from Bellfield to the Shanties it gave Tabitha some ideas. As I said previously, it was not the size of the canvas she referred to.

“Did you run out of paint?” Tabitha demanded. “I’ve seen you be more generous to yourself. Come on.”

David looked up. There, with every fine bit of detail he could manage was an image of Paddy Mack, copulating with Barbara Tulloch against a Wigan cross.

“He’s going into battle,” Tabitha decided in her limited artistic knowledge. “He should be raging.”

David could only agree. He dipped more pink and he painted more girth.

“And that ass is too flat,” Tabitha went on, taking a step back to view the painting better. “This is Paddy Mack we’re talking about. Have you seen him?”

David was still busy adjusting the detail to the Boss Lady’s specifications.

“Not in person,” he admitted.

“Well, I’ve been staring at his ass for years and that is not … plumpy enough,” she said.

“Plumpy?” David was concerned it was a technical term he had missed out on.

“Yeah, you know, the kind you just wanna squeeze.”

‘Damn,’ thought David. ‘Why did it have to be Babs Tulloch he was doing?’ It would have been more more, shall we say balanced, if it were at least an attractive female figure. He dared not say that to Tabitha though. She was set on her vision. She hadn’t painted a single picture in her life but she was very set on the image the Red Rebels of the Shanties were taking with them down to Northside to support the Macks in their fight.

Tabitha laughed as David took a step back to observe his work.

“I think this is the best Finn yet,” she said.

That was when the Baroness passed through.

“What the …” she exclaimed. “Is that?”

Tabitha dropped an arm around Tawny’s shoulder and admired her handy work.

“What do you think Aunt Tee?”

Tawny started to laugh heartily. “Very detailed,” she said. “That’s going to piss them off no end. Agnes would be laughing her ass off if she could see this. Babs’ eyes look like they follow ye all around the room. Look at Paddy’s shiny wee arse.”

Tabitha laughed. “That was my idea,” she stated proudly. “I think I might have went a bit overboard with the sky but I really wanted to capture the clouds and things …”

“Ye did a brilliant job. It all looks so … biblical,” Tawny encouraged.

“Thanks,” Tabitha replied.

David looked back from doing the actual painting. He shook his head and continued on with the creation of an image that would stir the Shady City.


The lashing of the waves broke the silence. An army of candles broke the darkness. Footsteps padded along the aisle of St Wigan’s church in Hathfield Bay.

“They’re here, Your Eminence.”

Dominick stood. The time for praying was over. It was now time for action.

Bartholemew had entered the church, his robes dragging sand from his climb up the dunes. His beetle black eyes sparked in the light. Word of the loss of Green Eye from the Northsiders had reached the shores of the island and it had caused a wave of hush. The followers gathered in the commune to hear what was to be done. What had stirred them was the painting.

“A blasphemous, vile, disgusting abomination,” was how His Eminence put it. Dominick’s eyes turned to the door. “Bring them in.”

It was a Northside priest named Renfield who came rushing. He had Barbara Tulloch at his back, the subject of the painting. Renfield dropped to the floor and began to kiss Dominick’s bare feet.

“Stand,” said the church leader, his voice echoing through the empty pews.

Renfield obeyed.

“Taking matters into your own hands are ye?” Dominick asked. “I mean I like a good burning as much as the next fella but I got to ask, who the fuck do you think you are using my church for yer own gains?”

“Agnes Wilde needed to be punished,” Renfield pleaded.

“Making my mind up for me now are ye?” Dominick challenged. “That’s right. I forgot. You’re the Punisher.”

Dominick growled. He snatched up a candle and threw the hot wax into his face.


He whacked him to the ground with the candlestick.

To Bart he ordered, “strip him.”

Bart heaved off Renfield’s robes.

“You want to be the punisher?” Dominick asked him.

Renfield, shivering, said nothing.

“I asked ye a question,” the church leader pushed.

“No, Your Eminence. I’m at your command.”

Dominick grabbed him and dragged him towards the altar. He threw him down underneath the painting of St Michael the Punisher.

Sobbing, Renfield began to pray. He had closed his eyes, seeking forgiveness.


Bartholemew had produced a whip from the pocket of his robes and struck Renfield across the face.


Bartholemew kept striking him until fell to the floor sobbing.

“Please forgive me Your Eminence. Forgive me,” he pleaded.

Dominick circled around him. Renfield remained on the floor.

“You blasphemed the name of Michael. For that you have Hell coming for ye. Get out of my sight.”

As Renfield sharpened off Dominick turned to Barbara.

“You, I will deal with later.”

The church had begun to feel a little constricting so it was a relief to step out into the cool air of the night. The dunes were filled with his flock. As Dominick stepped out they all fell to their knees.

“Please stand,” he called them, they obeyed.

“I am outraged at the blatant disrespect we have been shown by the City Dwellers. Their worship of Patrick Mack makes me sick. He is a heathen, a drunkard and he will burn for eternity.

A thief will lose their hand for their sin, as it is written. Those who take from him will suffer a similar fate. Those who follow his name brand will be bound for torment. He is a spreader of pestilence and he danced on the graves of our loved ones. A demon has been set upon this earth and we must do what we can to stop it. I am here to tell you my dear brothers and sisters that Wigan spoke to me and he told me that all who follow the Mack aberration are cursed!”

The following cheered. “Praise Wigan!”

“So it was written that St Wigan told the sinners they will fall into darkness and that darkness will be all consuming. For at his right hand side was the Patron Saint of Punishers, the almighty St Michael.”

Whack! Whack! Whack!

Screams ripped into the air as Bartholemew hammered the nails into the young man’s hands.

Whack! Whack! Whack!

“Stop, please. Have mercy dear St Wigan!” the boy screamed in pain but Bartholemew continued to nail him to the cross.

“It’s okay,” his mother cried. “You’re going to St Wigan now.”

Dominick laid a hand on her shoulder and told her, “Patrick Mack killed your son today.”

The woman nodded. She wept but she prayed for the spirit of St Michael to come forth.

The cross was raised and just before the boy wheezed his last breath he heard Dominick cry, “St Michael will have them repent or he will spill blood.” 


There were words Marcus and Simon Penn never thought they would hear from an Owen.

“I’m going to help you.”

That was what Ronnie had said. After his meeting with Kathleen, Marcus thought it was Owen Inc’s attempts to calm them. He prepared to keep his head straight and focus on keeping Simon safe until Jean Luc could perhaps help him free. His assault charges were easier to argue and word was Agent Reynolds, the man he had been brought in for assaulting, had experience with the Wigan church and was looking to drop his charges so someone could be by Reggie’s side and help bring Main back into order. They were still looking for further evidence in the Freefall Massacre but as of yet they hadn’t brought anything to them. The footage I submitted which showed the murder of Melanie Wallace, implicated Marcus in a big way so imagine my surprise when a source within the Office of Lawmakers told me Melanie Wallace’s mother, Samantha, had called to confirm she was alive and in Luen. It was one of the greatest Owen cover ups yet. Marcus would agree. He knew what he did. It didn’t matter why. He wasn’t about to reject the opportunity, even from an Owen. Kathleen had been firm, no BS. Marcus respected that. He had had dealings with Ronnie before, mostly minor things like Marshall suing for damage to his cars parked in Main or pranks from Buddy Owen and the inevitable response. Ronnie had always given fair argument. He was a reasonable man. He had had a lot of dealings with Jean Luc, mostly over the phone. What struck Marcus the most was Ronnie stepping up to defend Tabitha. Believing it was out of the goodness of his heart was a tough dish to swallow. Marcus was a logical man though and Kathleen’s logic was sound when she said they had to pull together before the Lawmakers shut them all down.

The Penn name had been prevalent in Main for generations. Without it there was instability. Even the Owen’s had to agree on that.

“Better the Devil you know,” Marcus muttered.

Remar glared at him. He was furious at two of his prisoners departing before their time.

Marcus pursed his lips and shook his head. He collected his box and stripped out of his inmate kit. The removal of the filth and irritating material was instant relief. Simon was behind him with his hands on his head as a guard named Dante codename Perseus searched him.

Simon hadn’t said a word since they were brought from the East Unit to be processed. He had stood at his brothers back as Marcus bid farewell to the other incarcerated Loyalists.

For most, stepping outside the gates of The Boss was a huge relief after having been held there. Marcus and Simon were no exception. The relief was short lived as a looming sense of dread followed them walking towards two waiting town cars.

“Let’s get the fuck out of here,” Simon finally muttered. They embraced, climbed into the cars and made their way home.



“You cannot be saved!” were the yells outside Faulds.

Jean Luc taking up residence had flushed some of them out. This had caused a crowd to gather outside.


“Long live the king!” someone cried out above it.

“You cannot …”

“Long live the king!” the cry came again.

Before long it was a chorus. That chorus started to drown Wigan’s warning.

“Long live the king!”

Loyalists started to spill from Faulds, anticipating an exciting arrival.

“Step back,” Emmerson warned the preachers. When the Wigans didn’t move fast enough more pressure was applied.

The Wigans grouped their numbers in an attempt to push back into Faulds. The Loyalists stood shoulder to shoulder, scrumming against the intruders. They weren’t alone. Fleet vans arrived to lend support.

Inside, Leona urged Reggie.

“Wake up,” she cried. “You have to wake up.”

Reggie stirred a little but his eyes rolled. She shook him with more vigour. She managed to get him to sit up. She clasped his hands around a glass of water and helped him to drink.

Seth Bergman had stepped outside The Parade when the heard the Loyalists call for the king. Looking down Timeline he could see many of the other business owners had done likewise. The Loyalists became even more excitable as the two town cars began to roll along Timeline towards City Face. It was a somber drive, showing respect for the loss of Queen Rita and King Reginald.

“Long live the king!” they called for Marcus whom the front car carried to Faulds, followed closely by Simon – now the crown prince of the Auction House.

Between the Loyalists and the Fleet the Wigan followers were beaten back. They had no choice but to retreat. They proceeded back into Faulds. Each floor stirred as it was cleared of unwanted guests.

“Your help is appreciated, sir,” said Emmerson to Fleet leader Shane Rogers.

There was a great cheer as Marcus and Simon alighted their cars. Marcus kept his focus ahead but he did register the Wigan followers. Simon watched them closely but remained at this brother’s back. I managed to push to the front.

“Marcus!?” I called. “Marcus? I watched you murder Mel Wallace in cold blood. Do you believe it is fair that my footage was rubbished?”

Simon scowled at me. Marcus kept his focus ahead.

Nearby, Kathleen was becoming frustrated. She urged her Daily reporters forward.

“Get that damn story and get him out of the way,” were her instructions.

The Owen propaganda machine was now reliant the Penns being viewed as innocent. The truth was another matter.

The Daily reporters flooded me. I was pushed out of the way and fell further and further back from the steps.

“What will you be doing first?” asked one of the Daily reporters.

“Going home,” replied Marcus. A warning. A statement. A promise.

“Mr Penn?” pushed another reporter. “Bruce Ling from the Coldford Express. Can you tell me how you feel about being convicted for the murder of a woman who is in fact still alive?”

“My family have been through a lot. It’s time to settle.”

I looked at Kathleen who was now pushing in as many of her own reporters as she could. Her intention was to flood all the other news outlets out. A woman miraculously returning alive was a big ask for the city so it needed Coldford Daily’s spin. So far it was working.

“Will you be returning to the boxing ring?” asked one of Simon, trying to keep the story as positive as possible. It was deliberately designed to detract from the fact that the two men were hardened criminals.

Getting to the truth of the matter wasn’t going to be easy and as always with mainstream media agenda, spin reared its ugly head.

I looked to Kathleen. She reached her arms out as though to say, ‘what can you do?’

Stepping onto the elevator to the penthouse, Simon watched the numbers as they completed their journey from the Hellish prison to the nirvana of their tower.

When they reached the penthouse Reggie had managed to pull himself together. He had been told his brothers were coming home but he hadn’t really registered it. He had tears in his eyes as he rushed to embrace his triplets.

“i thought you were gone,” Simon had cried as he squeezed Reggie tightly.

The younger sobbed on his shoulder.

“Mother …” was all he could say.

Simon stroked his hair gently. “I know. I know.”

Jean Luc joined them, welcoming the triplets warmly. 

Simon held Reggie’s shoulders and took a closer look at him.

“What the fuck have you been taking?” he asked.

“Just some remedies for the pain. I needed something. I couldn’t …”

Before Reggie gave in to despair Simon took him in his arms and embraced him again, gently rocking him from side to side. Looking up he started to take the lounge in. It was good to be home. He never thought he would be. Then there was a sight that made him frown.

“Is that a Wigan cross on the wall?” asked he.

Reggie managed a smile.

“I’ve got some good news,” he told his brothers.

That was when Leona emerged from the kitchens. She smiled at the triplets before lowering her gaze in a coquettish way.

“You’re going to love this,” Jean Luc muttered.

“This is Leona,” Reggie introduced. “She’s my wife,” Reggie explained.

“Wife!?” Simon responded in disbelief.

“She’s helped me a lot. She saved me.”

“She’s with child it seems,” Jean Luc put in.

Both triplets turned to their youngest counterpart.

“I’m going to be a dad,” Reggie confirmed.


“Phone call for you, Miss Lane.”

Harper Lane of Dalway Lane galleries was rushing after her little boy, Elliot. Elliot was now reaching toddler age and finding it easier every day to stay on his feet. He laughed excitedly as he heard his mother’s sandalled footsteps chasing after him.

“C’mere you little monster!” She teased as she snatched him up and lifted him into her arms, nuzzling into his neck playfully.

She took the phone from her assistant.

“Harper speaking.”

“Hey! It’s David.”

“Davey! How are you? We’ve been worried about you.”

“I’m still at the club.”

“Are you okay?” The gallery owner asked with some suspicion. With everything going on in the city she knew him well enough to know he’d be taking things hard. The loss of loved ones, the state of affairs, the trouble at the football matches. He took all these things to heart and he could let his emotions destroy him.

“Clean as a whistle, I promise,” the artist replied. He certainly sounded clean.

Harper shifted Elliot up her arm so his weight was easier to carry. His chubby little body was starting to weigh heavy.

“I’ve got Tabitha keeping me busy,” David went on. “I couldn’t have done it without her.”

Harper smiled. He did sound like he was coping well enough at least.

“I have someone who wants to say hello to you,” said Harper putting the phone to Elliot’s ear.

“Duh?” The little boy cried when he heard David’s voice.

David swelled with pride. “Awww, is he trying to say David?”

Harper laughed. “I think so. He keeps pointing at pictures of you and saying it.”

“I miss you little man,” David told the child. “As soon as we can we’re going to a game.”

“Duh.” Elliot was holding him to that promise.

“Yeah that’s right.”

Harper took the phone back.

“You should come up and say hello. Alex has a new girlfriend and he could probably use your advice.”

David chuckled. “I’m not sure I’m the best one to give advice on women.”

Harper agreed. “Yeah, I know. We figured you could give him examples of what not to do.”

“Very funny,” the artist returned with mild sarcasm. “And here’s me with a gift for you too.”

“What’s that?”

“Hang on I’m sending you a picture.”

Harper checked her phone. Her eyes widened.

“Duh!?” Elliot cheered.

“No, child, that is most definitely not Duh.”

She started to laugh.

“It’s beautiful,” she said of the Paddy painting. “Very provocative. Very detailed.”

“He’s supposed to be raging,” David tried to explain.

Harper inspected the picture closer.

“Yes he is raging,” Harper returned. “Are you sending it to me?”

“The original is a little indisposed right now but I was promised it back. I just wanted to show you. It’s causing some trouble it’s not a good idea to exhibit it?”

“The best art challenges,” Harper assured. “You have to let me exhibit it. I might even send an invite to the Wigan board.”

David laughed but he became a little concerned.

“Just be careful. It already caused enough trouble with the Northsiders.”

Harper had read about the Northsiders having lost their Green Eye prison.

“Don’t see why,” Harper replied. “It looks like Babs Tulloch is really enjoying herself.”

David smiled but he was still concerned. “Just be careful, please.”

Harper shifted Elliot again. “Don’t worry. I’ll not do anything until I have the backing of the Auction House.”


“Praise Wigan for his guidance. Praise Bartholemew for his strength to carry through. Praise Michael above all for his discipline,” Dominick was praying at the altar of his church.

Ding ding.

The church bell cried out. There were drums beating on the bay. Dominick looked up at the cross that hung above him.

“Yer a blessed Saint,” he remarked.

He stood and skipped out. As he made his way onto the bay his arm was taken by revelling Wigan girls as they danced. They laughed and cheered. Dominick joined in the merriment.

“Wigan bless all of us!” Dominick called.

“Praise Wigan!” his congregates cried in response.

At the port waited Bart. He was watching out to sea, shivering despite the heavy robes he wore. His adrenaline was hard to control. He had never felt such excitement. A crowd of exuberant followers chased after the church leader.

“Praise Wigan!” they cried again.

“Look! Look! There it is,” some of the children were calling as Ravensedge was spotted making its way towards shore. The Chamberlain flag could be seen snapping in the wind with the Wigan banner underneath, as the great vessel charged through the water.

“What a day this is!” Bartholemew commented. “I don’t think I slept a whole hour last night.”

Dominick patted his shoulder. “It’s going to be something else. It’s the day you’ve been waiting for yer whole life, my brother.”

Bart grinned as he nodded but he shuddered and pulled the hood of his robes up.

“Look at me,” Dominick gushed. “I can’t stop smiling. Where’s the weans? They really need to see this.”

Arriving on scene at that moment was Peter, escorting the Chamberlain children.

“It’s coming in, Uncle Dom,” Francis pointed out eagerly.

Catching his breath Peter gasped, “I was afraid we would miss it.”

As the boat drew closer the congregates began to chant.

“We are the children of Wigan and our hearts are pure and strong. We praise our beloved saint and so we sing this song.

Oh we know, we know, we know we can’t be saved but repent and you’ll be in his embrace.”

“It was written that St Wigan came to this island to embrace all of us,” Dominick spoke to his followers. “Today is not the day to embrace though, my brothers and sisters. Today is the day to punish. Today is the day to show the city dwellers they cannot be saved!”

“Praise Michael!” the congregates roared.

“Praise Michael,” Francis cried enthusiastically.

Dominick kissed the Wigan cross around his neck and turned his attention back to shore. Over the roar of the waves he could hear Bart take a deep breath beside him.


When Ravensedge landed at port on Hathfield Bay a collective cheer rang out from the beaches.

“Praise Michael!”

The walkway landed with a crash. That was when it all fell silent.

“Go, Bart, go,” Dominick urged under his breath.

Bart headed onto the ship. Dominick pulled his own robes tighter around him as the coastal breeze danced around his face. He noticed the cross had slipped inside his shirt. He reached down his collar and quickly teased it out to be displayed proudly.

Bart emerged from the ship first. Across his arms he was carrying a box, the weight of which seemed to be putting some pressure onto his back. He stepped ashore. The congregates fell to their knees. Bart laid the box at Dominick’s feet. Dominick fell to prayer. Bartholemew joined him. Dominick opened his eyes and raised his head again to spy a towering brawny figure of a man emerge. Like a knight of old he wore armour around his shoulders and chest. He was an older gentleman. His cool blue eyes looked as though they had lived through ages. There was no expression on his face. He stomped down the Ravensedge walkway. The congregates remained on their knees. They didn’t dare look him in the eye.

When the man was on shore the Wigan emblem became apparent on his chest. He stopped at Dominick. Bart opened the box and inside was a sword with a heavy blade. Bart retrieved it and passed it to the man who turned the blade and fell to one knee.

“Your Eminence,” he said respectfully.

Dominick stared at him for a few moments, drinking his presence in. Bart, who had had his head lowered solemnly looked up to check on the delay. Dominick collected himself and laid a hand on the man’s head.

“Stand,” he said. “Your presence is most welcome on these shores.”

The man did stand. Around his neck hung a thick chain. That chain was pierced through the hand of a man, with course black hairs on the back. The hand was gifted to the church leader.

“The hand of the thief Patrick Mack,” he said.

“Praise Michael!” Dominick cried.

“Praise Michael!” was the joyous return.

The man, you see, was a figure the church called The Templar. He was the living blood of St Michael the Punisher. As history lessons flooded Coldford, thanks to the Chamberlains the Church of St Wigan brought their own little reminder of a bloody past.

Playing host to a Saint was a day the island had been waiting for since the days of Noah Wigan himself. Bart, as the namesake of St Bartholemew the Carrier, relished the opportunity to carry The Templar’s sword as the carrier had done for the original.

A saintly presence for a saintly cause. The Templar was not there to bring peace. He was a punisher. He carried a sword because he sought to slay.

“We are the children of Wigan and we know we can’t relent, until the flesh of every sinner burns and we learn to repent.

Oh we know, we know, we know we can’t be saved but repent and you’ll be in his embrace.”

Enjoy this? Check out these other thrillers available now.


Reggie Penn was so confused and so tired. He couldn’t understand why Marcus or Simon hadn’t called. Surely they’d be pissed none of the regular staff were at Faulds Park anymore. He didn’t know who he could trust though. They would only know about Agnes Wilde if The Boss deemed it allowed. Tabitha had sent everyone she could spare down to Northside in search of retribution. When he told her about Leona’s presence she screamed at him. 

“She’s different,” he tried to explain.  

“Different!?” Tabitha shrieked. “They’re all the fucking same.” 

“Your grandma was different,” Reggie stated.  

This stopped her cold. She didn’t like to be stopped cold. He’d probably regret it when they did meet in person. Tawny had a tumultuous relationship with the ultra religious mother she nicknamed bitch of the bay. Tabitha, on the other hand bonded with Dolores Mc Inney in the brief time they spent together. 

 The only thing consistent in his life was Leona. She was taking care of him. She had quietened the world around him. She helped him cope as they both lost themselves in the trips of the heether mushrooms.  

“I don’t understand why folks would say you’re the weakest triplet. You’re the strongest man I’ve ever known,” Leona told him.  

Damn right he was. He had been treated like the baby his whole life despite being born on the same day as his brothers. He had survived better than Simon or Marcus ever would. They all thought he was losing it but he was the triplet that was free. He was the triplet that bore their father’s name. They all underestimated him except Leona. She didn’t pity him. She saw strength in him.   

He found a distraught Leona in the lounge. She fell into his arms.  

“What’s happened?” he asked.  

“Two of our youngsters were found dead,” she said. Their bodies were badly beaten. Their heads had been taken so we can’t bury them properly. They’re lost. They’re completely lost. When is this all going to end?”  

Reggie held her closer. She sobbed on his shoulder.  

“I’m so sorry about Agnes,” she said.  

“She was a good woman,” Reggie said. “Tabitha will be cut up. Tee will be too.”  

“I wish I could have stopped it from happening. I really do. I have to go back to the island. It’s not safe here.”  

“You’re safe whilst you’re with me,” Reggie said. “I’ll look after you.”  

“They hurt ye so badly. Everything was taken from ye and it breaks my heart.”  

“I’ll be fine,” Reggie returned quite confidently.  

“I know ye will,” Leona replied. “You’re a survivor.”  

Reggie gave some consideration to what his father would have done. Growing up he was never to be the one with the authority over the Auction House. That was always Marcus’ place but he was the survivor. Even with Marcus’ strong, calculating mind and Simon’s physicality, Reggie was the survivor. Neither of them would have coped as well with everything he had gone through. Marcus would have snapped by now. Simon would have lashed out and they both would have gotten themselves killed.  

“Stay, please,” Reggie said to the Wigan girl. “At least for now. I need you by my side.”  

Leona smiled. “I know yer not a religious sort but would you mind if I prayed for ye?” she asked gently.  

“I’m going to need all the help I can get,” Reggie jested.  

“I’m standing outside The Channel in Swantin when in the last hour the bodies of twenty men were found slaughtered. The murders appear to be ritualistic in nature. Most of the bodies were beheaded. Although not all body parts have been identified yet it is believed they were all CPD officers. CPD badges were found hanging in a tree nearby. More information to follow. I’m Sandra Wake of Coldford Daily news.”  

Reggie Penn switched off the television and sighed. He felt his wife’s hands clasp his shoulders. She gently drew his head back and kissed him.  

“Ye shouldn’t pay so much attention to the news,” she said.  

“Keeping up to date,” said Reggie. “I have to know what’s going on.”  

Leona took a seat in the sofa beside him. “I’ve got some news for ye,” she said. “Ye know your doctor who was here yesterday? Well I had to ask him a couple of things.”  

Reggie frowned. “You’re not sick are you?”  

Leona shook her head. “No, it’s nothing like that,” she stated. She smiled. “I’m pregnant.”  

Reggie gasped. He smiled excitedly.  

“Really? You’re not shitting me?”  

Leona laughed too. “Not at all. It was confirmed this morning.”  

Reggie threw his arms around her.  

“I can’t believe it!” he cheered. “Where to do we start? We need to get a nursery sorted, like. Is it a boy or a girl? You won’t know that yet. What if it’s triplets?” he asked.  

His excited mind was darting nowhere and everywhere.  

“Wouldn’t that be something,” Leona laughed.  

He loved the sound of her musical laughter. It was one of the things that caught his attention when they first met.  

“This changes everything,” Reggie remarked. 

A Penn baby of Main raised in the Wigan faith of its mother? It certainly did. 


Just when he was ready to give in to despair another familiar face did arrive.  

“Reggie, baby!” Elsa Bergman greeted. She wrapped an arm around him and tousled his hair. “How ya doin?”  

Reggie grinned. 

“How’s the little trouble maker?” She asked of Tabitha as they both sat comfortably in the lounge.  

The television had a paused game of Coby inc.’s ‘Cage Match’.  

“As well as she can be. She’s still being held at the club,” he said. “You want a smoke?”  

Elsa nodded. “Sure.”  

Reggie passed her a joint which she lit with her own lighter. She was wearing the Bergman uniform – black waistcoat with the diamond logo and white shirt. She must have come straight from the Parade.  

“Is Seth pissed I sent him away?” Reggie asked.  

He was keen to at least hear something from the outside world. He and Leona had been confined to the building for what felt like an eternity.  

“It’s cool,” Elsa assured. “We’re worried about you though.”  

Elsa was something of a black sheep just like him. She would get it. She knew what it was like to have big brothers breathing down your neck. 

“I’m good. I’m good,” Reggie stated, not sure who he was trying to convince. He unpaused his game. “You want a fight?”  

Elsa crossed her legs on the sofa. She passed the joint and picked up a controller. The two began to fight it out on screen. Reggie, a three breasted woman. Elsa, a monstrous man with four arms.  

That was when Leona emerged from the kitchens carrying a tray of tea.  

“Hello,” she greeted Elsa warmly.  

The first thing Elsa noticed was the purple ribbon around her neck. She was familiar with the Wigan order. She had had her experiences with them too. She wore a black wig because her natural hair had been destroyed thanks to an attack on her.  

“Hi,” she said to Leona.  

It had been some time since she had been over on the commune but she was sure she recognised the girl. What she couldn’t understand was why she was making herself at home. Although her presence wasn’t a complete shock. Elsa had to pass through Wigan crowds crying their sentiments between Timeline and Faulds park. The death of Agnes Wilde had caused a wave of attacks against them. The situation in Main was becoming more destructive by the day.  

“I can’t stay,” Elsa announced as their match came to the end with Reggie knocking her to the ground.  

Elsa watched keenly as Leona perched herself on the edge of the sofa close to the triplet.  

As she was leaving Elsa hugged him carefully.  

“What is she doing here?” she asked him tentatively.  

“Her name’s Leona,” Reggie responded with a little frustration. “She’s here for me.”  

Reggie was annoyed that he would have to answer for himself in his own home, his own kingdom. All he needed to know was how much better he was starting to feel since Leona arrived.  

Elsa hesitated.  

“Does Marcus know?” she asked.  

This seemed to irritate Reggie further.  

“What does it matter to him?” he asked. “I don’t have to run my whole life past him you know. If he weren’t banged up in The Boss then he could have a say.” 

Elsa didn’t want to push it any further. “I got to get back,” she said. “But you call me if you need anything.”  

“Sorry,” Reggie said to her, realising he must have come off a little short. “I’m dealing, like,” he said.  

Elsa nodded. “You deal how you have to, baby,” said Elsa. “Just be careful.”   

“It’s been a long day and I realise you haven’t ate. You should eat something,” said Leona when they were alone again.  

Wigan bless the food they would consume. Wigan bless the strength he would build. Wigan bless the sweet girl who had come from the island to help him become the prince he needed to be.  


It had been a long night with little sleep. I had only just begun to doze off when dawns early light hit the window. I was startled awake with a call. It was a Timeline Main number.  

“Good morning, Sam. Did I wake you?”  

It was Seth Bergman. I sat up in bed, brushing my hair back and trying to wash off the sleepy haze.  

“Seth? What’s wrong?”  

“I spoke to my dad this morning and he asked me to give you a call.”  

“How is he?” I enquired of Howard.  

“How’s doing fine for now. He’s in good spirits despite the mess. He has my aunt looking out for him. There’s a lot to go through but we’re hopeful he’ll be fine. The reason I’m calling is I’m going to Beckingridge Tower to see what can be done about the Stoker tent. My dad believes that there might be a lot of press. He took a shine to you and was quite annoyed he couldn’t finish your conversation. He asked if you would like to join me. If things go awry then at least someone could show the city the truth.  

“What are you planning on doing?”  

He was unable to answer. I don’t know if this was because he wasn’t willing to discuss it over the phone or because he wasn’t sure himself what the Stokers would have waiting. The question of who would be helping him was at least answered when I received another call. This time it was from within Beck Tower. 

“Guess who’s back out to play!” Elizabeth Beckingridge cheered. Her lock down period was finally spent. I caught myself smiling.  

“Yes, but for how long?”  

Elizabeth ignored the question. “Seth Bergman told me he’s invited you up. He’s a dish, isn’t he?”  

“Can’t say I noticed Liz. What are you up to?”  

“Nothing,” she said. “Law Maker rules said I’m not allowed to do squat but there is probably going to be trouble here and if you want the story you had better get here pronto.”  

With George now in The Boss, The Tower had fallen back into Elizabeth’s well manicured hands. With a life long grudge, billions in cold hard cash and diamonds to spare I would learn that money still talks.  


I arrived at Beck Tower just as Seth too was arriving.  

“Glad you could make it, Sam.”  

“I still don’t know what exactly I’m making,” I told him as he pulled the door open and we stepped inside the main foyer. One of the Stokers had called a comment to Seth from across at the hotel. In credit to the current Bergman figurehead he ignored it. 

“Did you call the Law Makers?” I questioned.  

“They can’t do anything about it,” Seth explained. His aunt had already tried but there was little that could be done when no city rules had been violated and Rodney Weir had given them permission to set up at his hotel.  

Our conversation was interrupted by an almighty crash, almost shattering the windows.  

“You absolute bastards!” Elizabeth screamed in a true vexation I had never heard from her before.  

Gramps’ statue had been brought down. Surely the Law Makers could be called now? A troupe in Stoker jackets skipped back across the courtyard back to their tent.  

The Beckingridge dragon was prevented from rushing out after them to throw her fire by the arrival of another woman. She had long hair, she was full lipped and dressed in a neat skirt suit. I recognised her but I hadn’t been introduced. She had a little girl beside her dressed in a full Fullerton football kit.  

“We’re all set,” said the woman holding a box of communication devices and passing them around.  

“You know Jenna Fullerton?” Elizabeth asked me.  

“Only by reputation,” I admitted.  

Jenna shook my hand. “Seen my movies then?”  

I had meant during my research into the construction family but I was aware Jenna’s main pursuit was the production of adult films.  

“I … errr… Can’t say I have.”  

“Oh sure you have,” Elizabeth dismissed wanting to move on to other things.  

As Jenna finished passing out comm devices the little girl crossed to the window to look out at the circus. She was Lucy Fullerton, Jenna’s niece. 

“There’s a little work needing done. Hopefully that will usher them on.” 

Jenna’s phone jingled. “I’ve got him,” she announced.  

She slipped her comm into her own ear as I did mine.  

“You there?” Elizabeth asked.  

“I’m here,” a man returned. “Haven’t got a lot of time. I might get cut off.”  

From the confines of The Boss spoke Jenna’s elder brother, Jake. He was head of the Fullerton family and currently serving time for aggravated assault. He was stood in the clerical room with his head rested on his arm leaning against the wall with the phone to his ear.  

“Keep Lucy inside the building,” instructed the girl’s father from prison. “Jenna?” He put to his sister. “You better go out and show the foremen where to set up.”  

I could hear the voice clearly.  

“Hello?” I put in.  

“Who’s this?” asked Jake.  

“Sam Crusow,” I said. “I’m at Beckingridge Tower.”  

“Crusow? Hey! I’m talking to a famous bloke here,” he said to the others listening.  

“Are you wanting to make a statement?” I asked.  

“Nah, mate,” was Jake’s reply. “Don’t talk to reporters.”  

Meanwhile, Jenna had been met with a bus load of construction workers. She began to coordinate them to their designated areas.  

Seth stepped out onto the courtyard to watch. The Fullerton team were now arriving with more bus loads. They were quickly erecting fencing. The Stokers were becoming nervous. They started to emerge from their tent. The lizard woman, Heidi, tried lashing out at Jenna but one of the Fullerton crew swung a piece of the barrier he was carrying. She retreated back to her tent screaming at them and wagging her forked tongue. I saw one of the foremen punch Fritz, the little person who was trying to pull his blockade from him. He looked about himself to see if anyone had noticed.  

“Lucy darling, what do we say to the circus folk?” asked Elizabeth. 

“Fuck off, muppets!” the child yelled without hesitation.  

Elizabeth chuckled. “She’s a treasure, isn’t she?”  


Elizabeth and I joined Seth in the Court Yard just as a press corp was drawing up.  

“I thought the word might spread,” said Seth. “Here come your brethren, Sam.”  

He crossed the yard to greet them.  

“Good morning, ladies, gents. How are you?” he asked.  

The press swarmed him with questions to which he replied he was simply taking a walk.  

Elizabeth had been looking at her grandfather’s statue.  

“It’ll get put back up,” I assured her.  

“Damn right it will.” She drew out a cigarette and placed it between her lips. She lit the cigarette and drew. “You hear that!” she screamed across the courtyard to the Stokers. “You’ve really pissed me off.”  

That was when the rumbling began, as the diggers and bulldozers arrived on site. I had read often of how the Baroness had faced down the Fullerton Bulldozers. I hadn’t fully appreciated just how much nerve that actually took until I heard the noise of the great steel monsters for myself. Twin diggers charged through paying no care to any Stoker who got in their way.  


Digger driver, Lionel Fullerton, switched on his comm in a hurry. 

“You there, gaffer?” he asked.  

“Yeah, I’m here,” Jake replied. “What’s going on?”  

“I got an honest to God clown on my windscreen. I fucking hate clowns.”  

It seems the Stokers would protect their tent at all costs.  

“Shake them off,” Jake suggested. “It’s their own damn fault being there in the first place.”  

Lionel spun his digger, throwing the performer to the ground.  

Lucy had ran out onto the steps. “Oih! Muppet!” she called to one of the foremen. “You’ve left that open!”  

The foreman – realising there was a gap in the fencing saluted the construction princess and set about fixing it.  

“Lucy! Get back inside,” warned her father.  

“Sorry dad,” Lucy said and scampered back into the building.  


Rodney Weir had been pulled away from a board meeting to come and check on the commotion. He came to the entrance of his hotel in a rush.  

“Hey!” he barked at Jenna. “What the fuck are you doing?”  

Jenna ignored him at first, focusing on the twin diggers that were taking their first bites, but he persisted. He snatched her and pulled her back.  

“Get your diggers packed up right now you scummy boot,” he spat in her ear.  

One of the foremen took to heel and pulled her away from him. Rodney raised his hands. Jenna landed a heavy slap on the hotelier  

“Do that again and you’ll wish you hadn’t,” she warned. “Get back to work,” she said to the foreman.  

“I’m calling CPD,” he said.  

“Call the cops all you like,” she said. “You wanted work done here and we’re here to do it.”  

Rodney lowered his voice. He didn’t want anyone to hear. “You know fine well I didn’t have the money,” he growled.  

“Well it’s your lucky day, innit? Someone covered the cost for you,” Jenna explained. 

“Who?” he demanded to know but Jenna raised her palm to his face and walked away. At first he thought it might have been his brother Eddy who ran the Weir in Luen but a glance across to the Beckingridge Court yard would give hint to the culprit as Liz wiggled her fingers at him. 

“Hey Rodney,” she said. “Nice morning.” 

“Liz, you crazy bitch! Get them away from here.”  

“No can do. The money has already been paid. It will look fabulous when it’s finished. That I can promise you.”  

Their cross court conflab was interrupted as Heidi Stoker, the lizard woman, was trying to drag Lionel from his digger.  

“Geroff! Geroff!” Lionel was shaking her away. There was blood where she had tried to gnaw him with her sharpened teeth.  

Fullerton workers dashed to help. No one had seen Heidi leave the tent, which was remarkable considering how of much of a figure she cut. One of the foremen punched her. This time he didn’t look about himself. He didn’t care who noticed. The others got inbetween and she rushed back to her tent.  

Whilst Lionel gathered himself the diggers twin continued to tear its way into the ground at the tent. If the red tent wasn’t moved it was being pulled down.  

Capturing it all as best I could I managed to collect varying expressions on Rodney Weir’s face. 

“Yeah Gaffer?” Rodney overhead one of the foremen say.  

“Wait a minute. Jake? Jake’s in jail.” Rodney expressed his concern but no one was listening. “Jakes in the jail, right?” he asked a foreman but he just glared at him.  


The Stokers were not taking the attack on their tent lightly. The Stoker jackets could be seen swarming across the yellow and black of Fullerton Construction as more crew arrived and more equipment.  

Lionel had pulled himself together was back inside his digger.  

“Scary bitch,” he sniffed. He wiped away a tear from his eye with the back of his hand, feeling a little traumatised by the attack from the lizard woman. She had a forked tongue and everything. Yeesh!  

“That’s fucking sick,” he sobbed. But he was a good digger and dig on he must.  

He wished Jake was there.  

“Who’s the man?” he would ask.  

“I’m the man,” Lionel would reply. 

“Who’s the man?” Jake would want to know.  

“I’m the man!”  

Yeah you are Lionel, Lizard lady got nothing on you. 

He pushed the digger deeper. The Stokers were climbing their tent, they were pulling guy ropes but they were stabilising it, not bringing it down.  

Bump. Creek.  

“You there, gaffer?” Lionel said into the comm.  

“I’m here,” Jake replied.  

“We’ve got a problem. If we dig any deeper we’re going to knock the hotel. The structure here is shit. The Weir cheaped out. We need to pull back.”  

Jake grunted. “Did you hear that, Liz? I’m going to need to pull back. We’ve done all we can.”  

Elizabeth watched one of the foremen relay that message to Rodney. She was shaking with rage when he turned that smug expression across the courtyard towards her.  

“No!” she said. “Not happening.”  

“I can’t,” Jake said.  

Elizabeth pursed her lips.  

“One million in your account right now if you bring down that fucking hotel too!”  

“What!” I gasped. “Liz, you can’t do that!”  

“Watch me,” she growled.  

“I’ll match that,” said Seth, “if it means that tent goes with it.”  

Liz took out her phone. “What do you say Jake? I have my finger on the button.” 

“I’m in enough trouble as it is,” the Fullerton gaffer responded.  

“2 mil,” Elizabeth said. “That’s not to be sneezed at. I’ll take the heat.”  

Jake had fallen silent.  

“What do you say?”  

“I’m thinking. I’m thinking,” he said.  

“Can’t stay here all day,” Elizabeth was pushing.  

“Fuck it,” said Jake. “He’s being a dick. Bring it down. Jenna? How far out is the demolition crew.”  

“They’re just arriving.” 

Elizabeth squealed with glee. She called across the courtyard.  

“You hear that? You’re not the only one who can afford contractors! Kill my cat and make a mockery of my family? How dare you! Pull down my school will you? My grandfather’s statue? Well I’m pulling down your whole fucking hotel. Maybe I’ll have the whole place made into a memorial for Susie Winkle.” 

“Liz there are people in that hotel!” I objected. 

“Obviously they are evacuated first,” she replied as though I was the insane one.  

The alarm at the hotel began to rattle. She reached her arm out as though to say, ‘you see?’ 


The Fullerton wrecking ball was escorted like a great trebuchet of old. Even the greatest of structures in Coldford would struggle under it’s mighty swing, especially when it’s explosive foot soldiers led the charge. The Stokers could pull all the gang ropes they liked. One way or another their red tent was coming down.  

“Stop! Stop!” Rodney was screaming. He was trying to shoo the Stokers off his property now to save his hotel.  

The time had come for wrecker to impart his wrath. The groan of its wheels angrily stomped towards its target causing a vibration underfoot that spread straight across the courtyard.  

“Gaffer?” asked operator, Jason. “Just waiting on your word.”  


WOOSH!  The first hit tore into the tent but it didn’t break it. Red had a spine of steel. Jake had gotten that it wasn’t coming down.  

“C’mon mate, swing!”  

WOOSH! The second hit did break it.  

“It’s still not coming down,” Jason complained.  

“How hard can it be it’s a fucking tent!?” Jake spat.  

“You ain’t seen the size of this thing.”  



With the third hit there was a snap. It was quite a sight to behold as the Stokers scattered.  

“It’s down! It’s coming down!”  

With the nuisance falling away, Elizabeth Beckingridge could have left it at that. There was no need to go any further but she had set her mind on the Weir being reduced to rubble for having the audacity to challenge her. I had only ever seen that level of pettiness in one other person. The Boss Lady. Little red dress had flouted the lustful Owen troll. She had fended off the Big Bad Judge Wolf. I wondered how she would fair against the dragon of Beck Tower.  

As the Hotel crumbled Seth spotted Freddy Stoker darting off towards Timeline. He was no doubt looking to slip into to Coldridge where the Big Top still stood. He didn’t get far though. His exit was blocked by a host of Law Makers led by Sophie Bergman. Breaking and entering, murder, abduction, drugs, whatever they could get on him to hold him.  

That was when they turned their attention to Elizabeth. Not one whole morning away from her house arrest and Sophie Bergman had her cold blue eyed stare on her.  

“You are to return to the manor. You have violated your sanctions,” Golem informed her.  

“I’ll go when I finish with this hotel,” Elizabeth said.  

“You will go now,” she was warned.  

As she was being escorted back to Filton, Rodney Weir called to her, “you crazy fucking bitch, Liz! What have you done with my hotel?”  

“Wrecked it seemed,” Elizabeth responded. “Don’t fuck with me Rodney.”  

Three more weeks at least on house arrest for Elizabeth Beckingridge. The dragon lady considered it very much worth it.  

Before he was cut off, Jake could be heard offering the warden some protection money from the deal that had been done.  


Seth and Elsa were allowed into CPD holding to see their father. He looked really old, Elsa thought. He looked so tired but when he seen them both he smiled like his old self.  

“Good afternoon, kids.”  

Seth and Elsa took a seat across from him.  

“How’s it going daddio?” Elsa asked at first.  

Howard could see the look in Elsa’s eyes. She was a little shocked so he tried to remain positive.  

“I’m fine. Everyone has been really nice. Asking a lot of questions but nothing I can’t handle. I’m worried for Karyn though. She has lost her son.”  

No one wanted to bring it up but Seth felt he had to.  

“Article 22,” he said.  

“That is for criminals. That’s not for an innocent man. I’ll be home soon enough. The Law Makers just have to be thorough and boy are they thorough. Mustn’t complain though. Their attention to detail will be what gets to the truth of the matter in the end. In the meantime I just have to sit tight and carry out the process. I’ve never been in trouble with the law before. The Rothensteins want a copy of the mug shot for the parade.” 

Elsa laughed at this.  

He rubbed his arms. “I might cover myself in tattoos.” 

Elsa laughed even harder. She herself had a sleeve of tattoos on her left arm.  

“You hate needles,” she teased.  

“Yes but I’m a hard knock now,” the father replied.  

“I have some good news and some bad,” Seth said. “The red tent has been removed and Freddy Stoker has been taken into custody.”  

“I don’t see what bad news there could be to top that,” Howard said optimistically.  

It was then Seth admitted. “They haven’t found Isaac.”  

Howard fell quiet. “They will,” he said. “They will find him.” He addressed his son. “I want you to tread very carefully Seth. It would be so easy to rush out there and lash at those that have done us wrong, but where does that leave us? All that does is put yet another wrong out there in the world.” 

“After what has been done to you!” Seth was outraged.  

Howard maintained his stance. “I don’t want you going down that path,” the father warned. “It leads nowhere good. I’m an innocent man and I have faith that our system will see that and there will be no real harm done to me. But what I don’t want, and I make that very clear to both of you, is my family becoming involved in the chaos that is this city at the moment. Find Isaac, work with the Law Makers and do your best by others. Those are my instructions.”  

The supervising CPD officer knocked on the door.  

“Your time is up.” 

“Don’t worry about me. Take care of each other and I’ll be back home before the milk expires.”  

Seth and Elsa hugged their father.  

By the time they got outside Elsa was weeping. She couldn’t bear to see him in such a surrounding.  

‘Don’t go down that path,’ Seth thought to himself. The filth of the night hides down dark paths though. How would you rid of them if you feared treading them? 


“Nah bro,” Chad Perry was saying. “It was about this big.” 

He reached his hands out.  

Cooper was shaking his head. “No way, bro. It was about this big!”  

He had stretched his finger and thumb out.  

Buddy and the bros were at Harbour House signing their final papers. Rehab complete. It was a little peace of mind for the Law Makers for the time being.  

“Coops. Coops. Coops!” Buddy – who had been focused on the entrance was whacking Coopers arm. He had clocked the arrival of Seth Bergman, looking furious.  

“It’s one of the Jew boys. Did we piss the Jews off again?”  

Cooper shrugged.  

Seth brought Buddy into sight.  

“I’d like a word with you if I may,” he said.  

The polite words were by no means said with a polite tone.  

Lydia stepped in Seth’s way. She placed a hand on his chest and urged him back. Buddy’s eyes widened.  

“He’s still with me at the moment, Mr Bergman. I can’t allow that,” she warned. 

“Yeah, bro,” Buddy spoke up. “She’s with me.”  

“It’s alright,” Agent Reynolds called to her. Returning to deliver reports on the situation in Bellfield. “You can let him through.”  

With Reynolds’ assurance that Seth was not there to cause trouble Lydia stepped aside.  

“You,” Seth beckoned Buddy. “Come with me. The other two stay here.”  

Reynolds was joined by Golem as he waited the return of the acting Bergman figurehead. Reynolds stuffed his hands inside his pocket as he watched Buddy follow Seth towards the rec room. Golem reached out a large hand, holding a cigarette.  

“A smoke, my dude?” He offered.  

“Trying to quit,” the agent said.  

Golem laughed. It was a low, rumbling sound.  

“You are no quitter, John,” he said in jest. 

Reynolds removed his hands from his pockets again. “Ah go on then …”  

Meanwhile, on the way to the Rec room Buddy and Seth were stopped by Agent Kim.  

“Agent? I am not looking to cause trouble but I would like a word with this man and his father,” explained Seth politely but firmly. 

Kim nodded, stepped aside and allowed access to the rec room. “I’ll be watching though.” 

“Fine by me,” said Seth.  

They found Chick standing by a table. He had been waiting to escort his son back to the Chapter House. His lips curled when he saw Seth and his shoulders tightened but before he could question, Seth swung the bag he carried and rolled out the golden asset onto the table between them. The Cappy had admired it for so long he knew immediately what it was, even with Buddy’s alterations.  

“I was in two minds on whether to give you this back or not after the stunt that was pulled with my father,” Seth began. “But then I realised my father is a much better man than you will ever be. He would never lower himself to your pathetic level.”  

The Cappy scowled. “Watcher tone you little shit.”  

“I want my cousin back,” demanded Seth.  

“I don’t give a damn what you want,” The Cappy assured. “You come in here speaking to me like that? You will learn some manners, boy, before you pull up a chair at the grown ups table. If you need some lessons I will be happy to be your teacher.” 

Seth scowled. “I’m giving you your precious heirloom back and for that you will have my cousin returned. I don’t care how. Just have him taken somewhere safe and we’ll speak no more of it. I’m giving you your asset back in good faith. If you ignore that my aunt will move to lock you down again and this time it won’t be in your home.”  

The Cappy growled. Buddy had never seen him more angry and he had done some shit to piss him off over the years. He didn’t think he could get any angrier. 

“You returned this … item … and because I’m grateful for that I will put out the word for your cousin. But you had better realise I do not take threats lightly.”  

Seth stood his ground. “Isaac comes home and we are done.”  

The Cappy sneered. “Now get out of here before I test just how quick those agents are.”  

“Seth?” It was Kim calling. “Get out.” 

Seth listened to the agent. When he departed, Ozzy, who had been overlooking Chad’s departure approached him. 

“Crikey,” he said. “Who’s that little bastard?”  

“Howard Bergman’s boy.”  

“There’s another meal for Snowflake just waiting,” Ozzy jested.  

The Cappy managed a snicker.  

“Does he like kosher?”  

Chick snatched up the asset. He pointed it at Buddy. It turned out he could get angrier.  

“Buddy … Would you mind explaining to me why some too big for his britches little kike is coming in here, waving a cock in my face, pressing his demands? He seems to believe that he is doing me a favour. What makes about as much sense as tits on a bull is why he’s returning something to my grand knowledge wasn’t lost! I guess the question I put to you, sir, is what … in the seven circles … of Holy Hell … is this!?” 


Reggie was stirred by a woman’s cries. Moving a little easier every day he was on the mend. He had contacted the Auction House in Luen and they told him Jean Luc would be with him soon. He had word that Simon could very well be joining him again with rumours that Marcus could be too. He still wondered why they hadn’t called. Maybe he had been tripping so much he had missed them. Faulds Park was quieter. The situation in Northside had pulled most of the Wigans back to the island. Reggie was healing and soon enough it would all be under control. So why was a woman crying?  

He wasn’t entirely sure if it was reality or if it was more heether induced hallucinations. He had sat and watched his mother the night before. She was crying too. He knew it wasn’t real but it still chilled him. That was when he had felt a warm blanket being dropped around his shoulders. Then there was a soft touch on his face. Then there was a whisper.  

“Wigan bless her.”  

Mother was Albans but Reggie assumed Rita Penn would appreciate prayers all the same. He never pined for his father though. This surprised him because he and Reginald were close. He was the king’s namesake after all. He supposed it was because ever since they were little the triplets knew Reginald would meet a bloody end. They had come to accept that and the king didn’t fear it. That was why he was so widely respected.  

Reggie had to face the reality of his life. He had responsibility on his shoulders. He was drawn to the woman’s cries.  

The sobbing led him to the lounge. Knelt on the floor by the window was Leona. She was clutching her Wigan cross and praying.  

“What’s wrong?” Reggie asked, padding slowly towards her, unsure if he should disturb her thoughts.  

“Bart wrote me again,” she said. “He wants me to go home.”  

“You’re okay here. I mean you’re comfortable, like?” Reggie responded. 

“Of course I am,” Leona assured. “You’ve been so good to me but it’s not safe for me here. Not whilst CPD run your City Main. Not after what happened to that woman, Agnes.”  

Reggie sat on the floor next to her.  

“I’ll talk to Tabitha again. I’ll make sure she knows it wasn’t your doing.”  

“It won’t matter. I’ll never be accepted here. I’ve ignored Bart’s letters long enough. I really should go home.”  

“No, wait,” Reggie requested with some urgency. “I want you to stay. I’ll keep you safe. I promise.”  

Leona leaned over and kissed him. “You are sweet, Reggie,” she beamed. “You really are. I don’t belong here though. I have to go.”  

“You’re all I’ve got,” Reggie protested. “You’re the only one I feel I can trust right now.”  

Leona shook her head. “What happens when you have your family around ye again? Do you really think they would accept me here?”  

The bell rang. 

“I’ll get it,” Leona offered. She stood and answered the call from the front desk.  

“You had better send him up,” Reggie could hear her say.  

When she returned she looked a little unsettled. “It’s Bart,” she informed him. She reached her hand out and helped Reggie onto his feet.  


The elevator opened. Dressed in City dweller clothes stepped off Bartholemew. Leona received him with a warm embrace.  

“I’ve been worried,” he said. “Are ye alright?”  

“I’m fine,” she confirmed. 

“Forget how to write did ye?” Bart groaned. “No telephones about here?” He turned his attention to Reggie and said, “I heard talk of what happened to ye. I prayed for ye.”  

“Thanks,” responded the triplet.  

“His Eminence will hold Father Renfield accountable for what happened in Northside,” assured Bart. 

“He won’t have to,” Reggie replied. “He’ll get his comeuppance.”  

Bartholemew nodded. “St Michael be praised that he gets what he deserves then.”  

To his sister he ordered, “yer coming home,” clasping her arm. 

Leona tugged her arm away.  

“I’ll go when I’m good and ready,” she snapped back.  

“I’ll not ask ye twice!” Bart warned.  

Reggie interrupted. “I asked her to stay. I want her to stay.”  

Bart clasped Leona’s arm again. “This is no place for ye. You’re coming home. Move.”  

He started to pull her towards the elevator when Reggie objected.  

“She’s here for me. If she wants to stay she can,” he said. “What do I need to do to prove she belongs here?”  

Reggie surprised himself by how hard he he took the idea of having to cope without her.  

“I want her to stay here,” he said.  

After much deliberation Bart relented.  

“There’s only one way I’d even consider letting her stay here, ” he said. “There’s only one way you would show you truly mean to look after her no matter what happens.”  

Later that evening, standing before Bartholemew, Reggie clasped Leona’s hands in his and was told, “as yer wife, Wigan asks that you protect her, keep her and provide for her.”  

“Praise Wigan,” Reggie responded as was expected of him.  

Bartholemew tied a purple ribbon around their hands.  

“As yer husband, Wigan asks that you honour him, support him and be fruitful for him.”  

“Praise Wigan,” Leona accepted.  

Bart kissed his sister’s forehead as he was leaving.  

“Dom will be pleased,” he said.  

“I’m glad,” Leona replied with a smile.  

At that the Wigan monk departed, leaving behind his sister and her new Prince of Main husband. 

Fine Dining: The Delphine Restaurant

Location: Filton Main Street, Filton


Owned and operated by famed chef Bastian Delphine, the Delphine restaurant is one of the hottest spots for fine dining in Coldford City. Located in Filton, home of the infamous Beckingridge family, the Delphine is a regular haunt for the billionaires of Beckingridge manor.

Trained in the country of Luen, with all the charm of his Jolian mother, Bastian is a well liked chef for whom the dining experience of his guests is top priority.

George Beckingridge, the financial firm heir, is often found at the Delphine, quoting he’s worried his aunt Elizabeth would poison him if he ate at home. This wouldn’t have been the first time.

Like many places in the Shady City the Delphine is not without it’s history of trouble. The Fullerton family have been banned from the facility after construction boss, Jake Fullerton and his ex wife entered into an argument. There was also talk of members of the cult Church of St Wigan attempting to spike the food with hallucinogenic heether mushrooms from the island.

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Character Profile: Jenna Fullerton

“It’s just business. Innit?”

Name: Jenna Fullerton

Position: Administrator of Fullerton Construction


From the Fullerton family of South Filton, Jenna and the rest of her kin come with a reputation of being uncouth. Responsible for the building of the great bridges around the city Jenna has a lot to live up to but she will always be found down to earth.

What most people note of her is she is a producer of adult films. This has been used to sing her praises as well as been used against her. Either way Jenna will always be herself. She is honest to a fault but she has a good heart. She will always go the extra mile for her loved ones and is not one easily crossed.

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Character Profile: Nathan Watt

I’m just trying to help.

Name: Nathan Watt

Age: thirties

Occupation: Doctor


From a family of well respected doctors and medical providers, Nathan has grown up with expectations. He knows the expectations thrust upon him and he’s well aware of what he can expect from others. He’s smart, considers himself charming, so he should have the best in life, right?

Making saving lives his business, Nathan has a bit of a saviour complex. Unfortunately, in the Shady City, true saviours are hard to come by and they tend not to last very long. It is likely that he started out with genuine intentions of helping. When the health of an old farmer, Jacob Harvester, deteriorated, he was the first to warn against the involvement of skilled surgeon DR WINSLOW.,

Somewhere along the line Nathan’s noble intentions were somewhat tainted. The Shady City embittered him. He still believed he could save but it would be on his own terms.

There was noone he would like to save more than lovely farm girl, Julia Harvester. The northern beauty and her nice demeanour would turn to him to be saved. That beauty is like the call of a siren though, drawing him deeper and deeper to treacherous shores.

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Emotional support canine who needs support?

My brother and his wife recently adopted a beautiful Collie pup they named Gio (yes I’m proud to say he derives his name from Gio Remar, the merciless warden nicknamed Cerberus from my Boss trilogy.) Like most border collies he his incredibly intelligent. He is also affectionate and a lot of fun to have around.

Introducing a pup into any household always comes with its challenges. There is a lot of training involved. Gio has been taking to this like a duck to water. As I said, he is incredibly smart. He offers a warmth to the home only dogs can provide. I’ve always been more of a cat person. I know this will get all you dog lovers out there to scoff but I generally find dogs obnoxious. Whilst I would do them no harm I wouldn’t go out of my way to have one myself. This is the reason I keep guinea pigs instead. Gio has softened my opinion on this. He’s not even a year old yet and his instincts are sharp, his behaviour is impeccable and whilst he tends not to enjoy you lying on the sofa without being able to sleep on top of you he’s a brilliant animal.

I could see why those who seek emotional support would look to dogs for this purpose. They are pack animals so that caring instinct is deeply embedded (in most breeds). What happens when the dog is the one needing emotional support?

The last time I paid a visit to my brother’s house we were chatting as he was setting out Gio’s afternoon feed. The dog had grown impatient, bounded towards his bowl and knocked it from my brothers hand. As I said there is a lot of training and patience in taking in a pup. That wasn’t the issue. The mess could be cleaned and Gio would learn to sit and wait to be called. He got upset though. Yes you read that right. The dog got upset. I don’t mean the tail between the legs, ears dropped because he was being chastised kind of upset. I mean he sulked. He sulked so badly he wouldn’t eat the lunch he had been ravenous for only moments before this. Both my brother and I were astounded. The mess was fixed and we tried coaxing him to eat. He continued sulking. We had to speak to softly to him and assure him it was okay. The dog needed emotional support because he knocked over his own bowl.

In cartoons the animals are deliberately given facial expressions. In real life dogs have their own ways of telling you how they feel. Gio is so expressive. Being such an intelligent creature he feels his emotions. I guess he was disappointed in himself. Despite us assuring him it was okay he gave himself a time out on the stairs until he felt better or he saw my sister in law (his mummy).

This random musing on the dog had me thinking about our connection to animals and the natural world in general. It’s something we will never lose no matter how advanced we become and quite rightfully so. When getting to know Gio better it makes me realise how important our place on earth is. It’s something we shouldn’t take for granted.

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Room Service: Weir Hotel

Location: City Main ; Business District


The streets of City Main are busy, no matter the hour. Situated across from the monumental Beckingridge Tower is Weir Hotel. With their twenty four hour reception they are always happy to accommodate, no matter the hour and no questions asked.

Some rooms within this hotel, built at the turn of the last century, may have been cordoned off as crime scenes but it is a family establishment. Proprietor, Rodney Weir, will be on hand to provide a personal welcome. A mistress to tend to? No trouble. Here’s your room key. What goes on behind those doors is no one’s business but your own.

Immerse yourself in the luxury of a bygone era and live amongst the hustle and bustle of the . Our spacious rooms offer a city views from a location convenient to local amenities. Within walking distance you will find the Chamberlain library, art houses, the Central theatre and the beautiful Timeline shopping district.

If you come to Coldford City, a room at Weir Hotel will be waiting for you.

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Character Profile – Rodney Weir

“This is my hotel!”

Name: Rodney Weir

Occupation: Owner of the Weir Hotel chain


Weir Hotel: Shady City Suites

The Weir hotel chain has been a feature of Coldford City for generations. As the current head of said chain, Rodney takes that status very seriously. His hotel is important to him. In order to maintain it he needs to ingratiate himself with the right people. This is something Rodney considers himself quite adept at doing. Being lower on the food chain than the likes of the Penn, Beckingridge or Owen families, he has to be adaptable. He knows all the right people. He knows all the right egos to massage. The trouble with that is, when those giant egos that clash, it is the kiss ups like Rodney who become cannon fodder.

Rodney pledged Kappa So in his younger days. His fraternity gives him some backing, helping his hotel to thrive. He’s not much of a frat boy himself but he is known to bring out the jacket, shake the hands of his brothers for life and yell, ‘Kappa So!’ Whenever the situation warrants it.

Rodney’s only son, Daniel, had been the next in line to inherit the hotel chain. The trouble was Daniel didn’t want it. He much preferred a simpler life of a photographer. When Daniel also came out to his father, Rodney wasn’t sure he knew his son at all. His brother, Eddie, scolded Rodney for the treatment of his son. He reminded him that Daniel was a son any father should be proud of no matter what. Rodney would much rather take pride in his hotel. Maybe he would manage to raise the Weir name further up that food chain.

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Satire – Funny or Too Far?

Giving my age away a lot in this but I was a young high schooler when Southpark hit the screens. It was all everyone could talk about and the cries of, ‘you killed Kenny,’ sounded down the halls to be point it was annoying. People were discussing it a lot and at that impressionable age it makes you curious as to what all the fuss is about. I checked out the episodes and at the time the toilet humour didn’t impress me. I didn’t find it in the least bit funny and with many other things I began to believe it was me that had something wrong with me. I spent a great deal of my youth feeling like an alien outsider so this was nothing new. I still feel like an alien outsider some days but that’s a story for a different time.

Many years later I watched Southpark again. Suddenly it all clicked. What I perceived as toilet humour was a satirical jest at the idea people would buy literal shit if it was sold to them the way most things are (looking at you Mr Hanky). I began to realise that it wasn’t just edgy comedy, it was a tongue in cheek look at how this world of ours can be ridiculous at times. With that in mind I now can’t get enough of satire. The world can be ridiculous. There are some terrible things happening around us that deserve ridicule. Which brings me to my point.

Some argue that satire can take the joke too far. I use Southpark as an example because the have been in the media lately for their portrayal of what would be Prince Harry and his wife Meghan. Admittedly I haven’t watched the episode myself. I have only seen clips of the taunting. However, I have read a lot of the outrage (and snickering) it caused which led me to wonder, is satire funny or is it too far? By its nature it often pushes boundaries. Looking back at the pandemic special there were moments where I emitted a very audible, ‘oh dear God!’ In my view we, collectively, had just been through one of the most difficult times in living memory. Maybe the pangolin was a bit much but surely we could laugh together as we began to pick up the pieces. As far as H and M go, should that have been left alone? Personally, I don’t think so. The point of satire is taking a look at the world through a different lens. They wanted their side of their story to be told. Unfortunately they don’t get to filter the response.

This isn’t a review on Southpark. As stated I’m just using that as an example. For me satire is a great way of looking at contemporary topics. There are plenty of things for us to be serious about and with that I prefer to lighten the mood. I find it much easier to cope that way. I’d love to hear some thoughts on those who feel it’s too far. Where does your humour lie?