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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

Luke Hanson's Mind & Punishment: A Teen in Despair - 26. Chapter 26 - Fiery Consequences

Sunday. Time unknown - Luke


I'd gone to bed about eight forty and slept through till the early morning. I had not done that since I was sixteen. Of course, that being an age when I never wanted to get out of bed, no matter the time. 

Swinging my legs over the side of the bed, I sat up and looked at my phone. 

No messages.

The usual morning wood was prominent, and I did think about it; honestly, I did, but I had this unease that was starting to filter in as it always does when I have something... or a few things on my mind. So I left it. Instead, I sat there staring at the chap until eventually it started to go down and settled to a semi. Jesus, my body, was so horny, but my mind? Well, that wasn't playing ball lately. Even with Bear, I only ever thought about cuddles and affection. The thought of sex just terrified me. But alas, the idea of sex ALWAYS terrified me, no matter who I was thinking about it with.

I pulled some fresh boxers from my drawer and wandered out onto the landing, quietly slipping into the bathroom.

It was still early.

Audibly sighing as a stream of pale yellow piss cascaded from my slightly inflated dick. I decided not to flush and just shook what was left. I stepped over to the sink and brushed my teeth rigorously, having not done so the night before. I was not too fond of morning breath, and it could sometimes be the sole reason I got up early on a Sunday. And I hated getting up early on a Sunday.

I spat the minty foam out into the plug hole, rinsed and wiped my mouth on the new red towel I imagined 'the Bitch' had replaced and wandered back out.
On the landing, I was met with one horrific sight. 

"Nice hair net," I said grumpily, eyeing a rough-looking Elaine dressed up in a flowery night dress. "I haven't flushed," I said, walking past her and back into my room. "And no, I'm not putting a top on.

I closed my door, hearing her scurry off to the bathroom, no doubt to change her Tena Lady pad!

I crashed back onto my bed with a thud and put my head on my pillow. A morning breeze flooded through the window, which was a welcome relief from the past four weeks of stillness and humidity. Picking up my phone again, I re-read the messages me and Bear had exchanged since we met. I smiled.  

While the phone was in my hand, I felt it vibrate, and a message came through.

It was Taz. Yeah, at seven a.m.

[07:14] Taz: You'll never guess what?
[07:14] Me: Knowing my life at the moment? Yes, Taz, I would.
[07:15] Taz: Click this link. It's a video. Enjoy. 
[07:15] Taz: V/jejd7d6dhh/eed3

I creased my forehead, duly clicked on what he had sent me, and waited for the video to load.

"Bla Bla Bla, adverts, yes, come on..." I muttered.

As the video Taz intended me to watch appeared on screen, frozen momentarily, I noticed a backdrop to a reporter standing in front of it. I narrowed my eyes, and the video started.

### Here at a local family fair in Gainsborough, we're getting reports of two small explosions last night that have decimated parts of this family business. Fourteen firefighters were called to the scene in what investigators are calling unexplained but possibly arson. The fair, due for departure last night to Wales, is now going nowhere as officers from forensics litter the former farmer's field. looking for clues.
Earlier I spoke to the fair's owners, and although I could not get an interview live, they did release this statement...

The Sheperd family wish to express our profound sadness that this has happened. We are a close family, and this is our living. If it is indeed arson, as the investigating team is suggesting as a possibility, we wish to ask the culprits why? Why would you do such a terrible thing to a family still grieving for our beloved Scott Sheperd, a gentle, loving husband and father? We denounce in the strongest terms any actions that would harm our family and business. The Sheperd family have provided thousands of families from far and wide hours of fun since nineteen eighty-one, and we implore anyone who has any information to contact us directly, not the police.

As you will have heard in that statement, the family are totally devastated after already losing famous traveller Scott Sheperd, whose father originally founded the fair people come to today. Police are also saying they wish to speak to anyone who had any connection with a blood-stained carpet that was left on a black truck the same day, and say their investigations will leave no stone unturned to find the cause and possible motive of this devastating fire. Lindsey Stewart, South East News, Gainsborough. ###

I lay on my bed, mouth open, just feeling stunned. The pit in my stomach was intensifying as I knew there would be venom coming my way from Leander's family even though I had nothing to do with this categorically.


[07:21] Taz: You seen it yet?
[07:21] Me: Yeah, fucking hell! But did you hear the bullshit statement they released????
[07:21] Taz: Indeed. So what are you thinking? Accident?
[07:22] Me: Oh, come on? I'd lay money it was on purpose, but by who? The only person who might have had that much hated in them to do it, would be Leander himself, and he's in no condition to strike matches.
[07:23] Taz: I've already called Lee and messaged Leo. They sounded as surprised as us.
[07:25]Me: I gotta get up and get ready for work. Let me know when the police contact you. I wanna know how bad this is going to be.
[07:25] Taz: Gulp!
[07:25] Me: Yeah, don't I know!

I chucked my phone to the side and quickly got off my bed. I fetched a pair of grey Karki shirts and a polo shirt from my wardrobe and pulled both on before picking out a pair of sports socks from my drawer.

While walking downstairs, I could hear Elaine and Dad getting ready for breakfast in the kitchen. I walked through the lounge and saw a head peeking from under a plain white duvet, still lightly snoring. 

"Josh sofa surfing again, Elaine?" I asked, padding into the kitchen. Dad looked at me as if to say, not now. 

"He doesn't like to be at home on his own, Luke."

"He's how old is he again?" I asked, smiling on one side.

"Luke, did you hear about the fair you and I went to last year? Doesn't your... is he your boyfriend, or friend? Well, anyway, that's his fair, right?"

I could never tell whether Dad had more information than he was letting on sometimes. He knew full well Leander and I were dating, and he knew when it all went wrong. In fact, I think he knew everything. So, yes, I think he was prying for info. But I didn't have any.

"Yeah, that's right? What's happened at the fair, it was leaving last night?" I shrugged. "Besides, Leander hasn't mentioned anything." I said, innocently.

"Isn't he there?"

I coughed and cleared my throat. "Uh, no, he, erm... uh, he had an accident and had to go to the hospital yesterday."

Dad looked up from his toast. "An accident?"

"Yeah, erm... well it's pretty bad, he uh, well he slipped and fell off a ride they were taking down. I think he has a concussion, so they are keeping him in. So what's happened?"

"Fire, apparently," Elaine chimed in. "Said they think it's arson."


"Yeah, I reckon it's someone who had it in for them if you ask me. Old Scott Sheperd was a bit of a wheeler-dealer. Owed people money apparently."

"You know Scott Sheperd?" I asked. Elaine's face warmed to me. I think she was enjoying the fact I wasn't being an ass to her.

"Oh, Luke. Everyone knows Scott Sherperd. He was a big deal in the nineties when old man Jerry died. Scott was the one who made the fair as big as you see it today. He borrowed and begged to get that thing running  to the heights it has."

"Sorry, who's Jerry?"

"Jerry Sheperd, Scott's Father... the founder. Yeah, he started that thing up with four little rides and a coconut stall. You know that game where you won a goldfish as a prize if you knocked them down. Of course, they don't give them out anymore, do they, Len? Something about animal cruelty."

"Nope, it's all fluffy teddies and keyrings now. Back in my day..."

"Right, I'm off, Dad," I said, cutting him off, already bored. But Elaine had given me some interesting information about Scott and... well, money issues."

"You're off early today; Derek got you doing overtime?"

"Yeah, something like that, Dad. See ya later."

"Oh, Luke?"

"Yeah?" I called back.

"Two words! Calvin Archer. I expect to see a letter come here soon advising of your appointment schedule."

"Yeah, yeah!"

"I mean it Luke, we agreed!"

"Who's Calvin Archer?" A sleepy...NOSEY, Josh asked, from the sofa.

I looked down at him, disdained. "Please keep out of this, it's personal, Josh."

Josh closed his eyes again and I huffed, a little embarrassed this had just been discussed in front of the outlanders. 

I grabbed my bag from the bottom of the stairs, and found my keys in the bowl above the radiator. Pulling a face at Sleeping Beauty and sticking a middle finger up at him I opened the front door."

"I saw that," Josh said quietly, as I was about to leave for my car. I looked back and smiled.

"Just saying goodbye," was my response sarcastically. I continued to the front door before walking out into the twenty-seven-degree early morning heat.



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Speeding through my village, I pulled onto the main road out of town and stepped on it vigorously. Weaving in and out of the morning traffic, I eventually made it... almost on two wheels... into King Edward hospital's parking area. I left my car in a taxi rank and trotted into the reception area, spinning my keys on my index finger.

"Yes, hello, how can I help?"

"I'm looking for Leander Sheperd? He came in yesterday."

The lady in front of me looked down at her computer and started to click on her mouse. She had the most prominent mole on her forehead. My eyes became fixed on it. I was fascinated that someone that young had not had it removed.

"Sir? SIR?"

"Oh, yeah... sorry."

"He's been moved to ACW; you'll need to follow the red arrows until you reach the new block, which is yellow. Turn left there, and ACW is down the end?"

"Wow, erm, is it that bad? I mean, don't really ill people get put there?"

The woman looked at me strangely and then pointed her pen at me, smiling. "You mean ICU? No, ACW is Acute Care Ward. It's a notch down from ICU. Are you family?" She asked curiously.

"Not exactly," I replied, needing to really leave now.

"Ahh, well, if your..."

"Oh, erm, well, he's sort of something not on a list right now, but let's say, friend."

"So if your friend, shall we say then, is on ACW, the chances are he will live to see another day."

"Thanks, I gotta run then."

I took off at jogging speed down the corridor lined with a red stripe and large red arrows. Grey decor replaced that, as I seemed to have entered a new area and "New Block" was printed high above on the walls. I swerved left like she said and ran all the way to the end of the new corridor I was in, and there it was, in plain view...


"Shit," I said out loud, not having one. I went in anyway and washed my hands in the antibac gloop that was supplied from a bottle attached to the wall. I came to another desk with another woman and strode up to it, tapping my foot.

"Leander Sheperd, please, I've been told you are keeping him here?"

The lady looked up at me. "Young man, you make it sound like they are here for experiments. We do not KEEP anyone. But yes, Leander is here. I am Sister Harris, I am looking after Leander. He's on the second room on the right. Please do not slam the door; he is very nervous at the moment."

I nodded and walked off, trying not to run but failing by the time I got to the door of his room. I knocked, walked in and smiled. He was awake.

"Heeeeey, yooooou! It's me?" I sung.

"I know who you are," Leander said groggily. "Thank you for coming. Oh, and I heard about the fair. It's been on the local news. You don't happen to know anything about that, do you?" 

Leander was serious. I mean, I know he was unwell and probably in a lot of pain, but he was serious... as if worried about my answer.

"I swear, I know nothing. I wouldn't lie to you."

"If I know Clyde and Mum, they will be like a dog with a bone with this."

"I heard on the radio that no one was hurt. So that's good, right?"

Leander floated his eyes around my face. "Hmm, I'm not sure if you said that to make a joke or you meant it? I would probably go with the former. If so, well done for keeping a straight face."

"You're right, I wish they'd all fried in the fire, but that's a terrible thing to say about your Mother and Brothers, no matter what evil sadistic vermin they are."

"I'm glad you're here." Was all I got back after my comment.

"Only briefly." I replied. "I need to go to work."

Taking a deep breath into the breeze, Leander looked out through the fully open window in his private room. Then, in what I imagined was the most terrifying and lonely moment of his life, he began to cry all of a sudden, without warning. "I was hoping you'd stay. It's all I can do right now not to go completely insane from panic, anger and emotional meltdown." Leander tried to hold back his tears but failed, starting to sob. "I... I tried so hard to convince them, Luke. I said everything I could," he said in a high-pitched weeping voice. "Look what they did to me. Look what they did!"

I stepped over and, as gently as I could, wrapped my arms around him. He yelped suddenly but pulled me in with what strength he had and fell into a full-blown cry. The reality of seeing him do this set me off too, and tears ran down my face as I thought of a reply to his statement.


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I'd spent ten minutes on the phone with Derek, with the result being he would allow me to take some short-notice annual leave. He was pretty unsympathetic about the whole thing, but as I just said, it was very short notice. 

While I confessed I had not been my usual reliable self, he did counter his frustration with me by saying that everybody has issues to deal with from time to time. Now that I have five days off, I can help Nurse Leander, were my immediate thoughts. But there was a problem. A problem that was probably nothing to do with me, but was on my mind nonetheless.

What happens next?

Leander's current situation did not permit me to have the conversation just yet, but it was something I needed to discuss with him, even for my own peace of mind. 

I walked back in the room after cooling down from talking to Derek. I wasn't angry or anything, not cooling like that, but I hated letting people down, and that's how it felt when I was explaining to Derek that I was helping a friend recover from concussion after falling off one of the rides. Leander? He'd asked. Yes, I'd replied. Was he in that fire and mess? He asked. No, I had replied and then subsequently went on to explain this happened before what had been on the news. Then, with Derek satisfied and me off the phone, I very slowly started to calm down, and the butterflies left my stomach.

"I'm all yours," I said, grinning. Leander looked more together and managed a smile back.

"Wha... what did you say?"

"It don't matter! All that matters is that I don't have to leave you now."

"Good... I mean, I'm glad. I was going so mad here. No one has come, nor will come to see me, Luke. It's not like I want any of them to, not ever. But usually, when you are in hospital, you have visitors, and they are your family."

"Hate to state the obvious here, though, Bear. Usually, it's not your whole family which contributes to putting you here, yeah?"

"I guess not."

"So, you wanna talk about it?"

"Some of it is a blank. But I'm getting more bits back as the time goes by. I don't remember how I got in here, but the nurse said I was awake when they wheeled me into this room."

"Maybe the drugs?"

"Drugs?" Leander asked, frowning. "I don't take drugs!"

"No, silly. I mean the drugs they gave you, you know, for the pain?"

"Oh, okay. Well perhaps. I do still feel a little spaced out."

"Yeah, I can see and hear that," I replied, chuckling. "So carry on; what else?"

"Can you do me a favour before we talk about this?"

"Sure, what is it?"

"Can you sneak me in a tea or something fruity? My mouth is so uurrrghh. They won't bring it, you see," Leander said, pointing his thumb up behind his bed.

"Oh, I see—nil by mouth. Okay, I'll see what I can do, but keep it subtle okay? I'm already under suspicion of arson. I don't to be done for sneaking contraband into sick people's rooms."

I winked and left the room, heading for a vending machine.


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I'd been hunting around for ages, not really finding anyone remotely available to ask, but then, in the distance a sign hung from the ceiling of a corridor reading 'refreshments'. I headed toward it, tring to dig out my phone which had my bank card stuffed in the back. As I turned a corner, hoping that the machine or counter of some sort was close by, I almost yelled out in fright at another member of the Sheperd family decided they'd show their face.


"Luke," he nodded, his face full of anger. My anger was just getting started.

"You have a nerve!"

"This is family business, but for what it's worth to Leander, not you, I knew nothing about this."

"Your family is toxic!" I scowled. "I don't know how you lot live the way you do. You're fucking soulless! Void of any morals, respect for life or... or... well, you're just evil."

"Me? You mean me, personally? Do you even know me? Do you even know my relationship with Bear?"

"No, but..."

"Well keep your fucking nose out of this. I'm here at huge risk. While you berate me and label me some kind of dog, as most non Romani people do, I'm here out of love for my brother. So don't get on my case about stuff you know nothing about."

"So you're saying while your brother was beaten to a pulp, no one heard anything, no? So no screaming, no noise... nothing?"

"I heard nothin!"

I stared into his eyes, hard. I as looking for deception, lies or cover up. I saw none and my shoulders relaxed.

"I take nothing back what I said... NOTHING! But I believe you."

"I don't need you too. I know what's the truth. But what about you huh? You light those fires? Well?"

"No, and somehow I think you know I didn't."

"Yeah, well, seems all the shit that happens comes back to you, so I'm sure one of your mates will fess up sooner or later."

"Mu mates would never do something like that. Never. That fire could have killed someone, or everyone... whatever is your preference - there are a lot of people out there who would do it. Your Dad was not known for his honesty with people."

"My Dad? Don't talk about my Dad. You know nothing about the things he did for this family. He put food on the table for us and built a business everyone loved and he built a legacy for all of us to inherit."

I shook my head. "Is that what he told you while he was fucking you from behind?"

Duke, pushed past me, running off in the direction of Leander's ward. "Fuck!!" I shouted at myself, immediately regretting what I'd said. That was not fair. But I was angry, wound up. I wanted to hurt him, verbally. I wanted him to see how brainwashed he was by saying what he did about his Dad. I wanted him to realise that his hands were still dirty, indirectly, yes, but still dirty. But FUCK why did I say that.

I banged my head against the wall and just stood there leaning against it, thinking how I was going to take that comment back.

Shit! drink for Leander! arrghh, I thought, pushing off the wall, heading to the machine. 

Hello readers, old and new! Me again :) I dropped a message to you all a while back, you may have missed it. But I would really appreciate your clicking power if you are enjoying the story of Luke and the gang. would you support me as an author by recommending the story? Only if you're enjoying it of course. But hey, at chapter 26, it's too late to back out now, right?? You're invested :P but yeah, the recommend button gets me a little more noticed, and a few new readers to share the book with. But as I said a few chapters ago - It's okay too, if you don't want to. Just pleased you're here for the ride.

Much love


Copyright © 2022 James Matthews; All Rights Reserved.
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Trying a different style and a couple of new things in this book and my only benchmark on how that is going is you, my loyal readers. So I have a small favour. Please do click a like if you're enjoying the story and please do recommend the book. If you have a thought or comment I'd be made up to hear what you think. All feedback is relished and of course I do love hearing your ideas, opinions and banter. Many thanks, folks! Now, let go forth on to the next chapter :) 

Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
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Chapter Comments

18 minutes ago, James Matthews said:
  1. a person who engages in petty or small-scale swindling.
    "I saw him as a grifter who preys upon people"
    I had to look this up LOL 😩

If you had to look up the word then  I guess Elaine isn't a grifter LOL. There was a movie with John Cusack and Angelica Huston called The Grifters

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7 hours ago, James Matthews said:

Yeah that came up straight away along with the meaning! :D 

Please write more!!   I love this story 

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13 hours ago, Gerry said:

Please write more!!   I love this story 

Thanks Gerry, next chapter soon, I promise haha.

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The hypocrisy of the statement reportedly made by the Sheperd family in response to the fire rankled such that I almost choked on my own bile. I like several of my fellow readers immediately thought its likely source, lit by a family member as an insurance job, although the insurance I thought of was not of monetary value, but to cover up the possible murder of Ben and possibly divert attention from the beating of Leander. Now after learning Scott Shepard may have owed people money, the motivation for the fire well may have been for financial gain only, or in addition to covering up other possible crimes.

Several of my fellow readers have commented on Luke’s insensitive comment to Duke. I seem to recall in a prior chapter (before I started making comments myself) Duke himself hinted at the fact that his father had raped him, so the comment whilst insensitive, may have been based on fact, or at least a perceived fact.

Luke certainly pulled no punches when commenting on Leander’s family to Leander himself and to Duke. I, who am known to be blunt (diplomacy is overrated), admired him for this. Leander especially needs to acknowledge his family are barbaric scum, people whom he is better off without. I saw a glimpse of acknowledgment from him that this is the case.

@James Matthews a very powerful chapter. When I saw the chapter title, I held hope some of the vile Sheperd family may have perished in a fire, but alas it was not to be. I for one would not have shed a tear if Mommie Dearest, Clyde and/or the thuggish cousins had “met their maker” in a fireball. The intrigue and suspense continue to build, all the while bubbling beneath the surface is a sense of impending catastrophe (I am hoping this is not the case, at least not for Luke). Your story telling prowess continues to impress, much like @drsawzall's wry comments and hilarious gif's (I am still not sure if this is the right term). 

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