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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.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

Special Circumstances - 18. Final Preparations

Because I’d only worked in shift patterns, I’d never developed the proverbial hatred for Monday mornings. Today, though, I felt it nonetheless. I was up early, took a cold wash, and got dressed to have my breakfast as one of the first guests to do so.

Politician wasn’t a job I’d ever consider doing. By quarter to eight, I went to pick up Morris-Walker. His day started with an appointment during breakfast. His guests were three young, local politicians. I wondered why one would hold a meeting over breakfast, but looking at his guests the answer was simple, ambition.

Shortly after his guests had excused themselves and the minister had finished eating, we left the hotel for the city hall. He’d done an excellent job filling his calendar to justify his staying on here during a weekday. He’d meet the Mayor, the Police and Crime Commissioner, and the West Yorkshire Chief Constable. I wasn’t present during any of these discussions, and nobody took notice of me. I was grateful for that. However, I was bored out of my skull.

It was mid afternoon before we were back in the car. I had just sat down when Morris-Walker sighed and said, “What a day.”

“And it hasn’t even properly begun yet.” I started the car.

“Well, Jamie. I have good news about tonight.”

I glanced at him through the rearview mirror, expecting something more. As he didn’t elaborate, I set out on the short drive to the hotel.

When walking the hotel’s corridors, we didn’t encounter anybody. We gathered in the minister’s room. He sat by the desk in the only chair while I sat on the unused bed. I unslung the machine pistol and put it by my side.

Morris-Walker took a folder from his bag and placed it in front of him. “This time, Jamie, the location is very obvious.”

He took his mobile phone and showed me what he was doing. He opened the picture of the map of England with the imposed pentacle.

“As you can see, my first calculations indicated a location south-east of Leeds. With the error margins refined when adding the fourth point of the pentagram, I was able to calculate the location quite precisely within the error margin.”

He changed to the map application and zoomed to the location to then switch to the satellite image view. “The Abbot Industrial Park.”

The magnified satellite image showed a large, old industrial building. I was impressed by the quality of publicly available satellite images. I could clearly see the cracks in the parking lot’s asphalt cover from which little bushes grew.

“Looks deserted, Minister.” That was a friendly description.

“It is indeed, Jamie, it is indeed. This is the site of the former Abbot and Son Steel Works. Arthur Abbot built the site with eight Bessemer steel converters in 1870.”

He opened the folder and took out some papers which he handed to me. The first one showed a Bessemer converter schematic, a cylindrical steel pot approximately six meters high and three meters wide. The cylinder hung from a structure which allowed it being tipped over to empty its contents.

“The details of the Bessemer process itself are now irrelevant, Jamie, but important is that if the cylinder is put on its side, the steel is poured into waiting pots to be transported for further processing. Let us assume this to be ground floor level. However, the cylinders are filled from the top when they stand upright. This is the first floor.”

“Okay.” What was he on about?

“To keep unloading easy, a train line was constructed into the factory. To make loading easier, the outside of the plant was raised with a low incline, making the loading platforms level its own ‘ground floor’.”

“An artificial hill?”

“Yes, Jamie. Furthermore, the key to the Bessemer process was to blow air from the bottom of the cylinder into the molten iron to oxidise all impurities. That pressured air was produced in a compressor house, but all the piping was laid in a true underground floor which is located under the central section of the plant where the converters were located.”

“So, the plant has effectively three levels, two of them underground?”

“Yes, Jamie.”

The location didn’t make any sense. “Minister, the first victim was killed in the living room of a small flat. The murderers don’t need much space. They could hide anywhere in that complex.”

“Good thinking, Jamie, and correct for all other sacrifices, except for this one. The other four murders were about harnessing energy, not about using it. We are now dealing with the completion of the ritual which requires the channeling of the obtained energy to open a gate. They need space and must be undisturbed. I reckon they have been working on this site for a couple of weeks.”

What an effort. “There’s still no hint at who they are?”

He sighed. “No, Jamie. The Daily Glorious has source protection.”

“Well, Minister. We’ll have to search this building.”

“Indeed, Jamie.” He took out the next set of folded papers. “Floor plans as of 1992. They will be accurate in principle, but not necessarily in detail. There will have been considerable decay in the last three decades.”

I took the plan and unfolded it. “Impressive.”

“Thank you, Jamie,” Morris-Walker said drily.

“Can you pull up the satellite picture again, sir?”

He did as I asked and handed his phone over to me. I scrolled around, checking the area. The property was bordered by roads on two sides. To the North was a main road and to the East the access road from which the parking for this and other sites could be reached.

I scrolled back to the property. “The entrance to the car park is closed by a concrete block.”

“Probably to ward off travelers.”

“Most likely, Minister, but it also blocks us. So, we cannot drive there. The only other parking is to the South, an office complex. That’s bad. They’ll have CCTV covering the car park.”

Morris-Walker nodded and continued listening.

“However, to the West of the property is a footpath. It ends,“ I scrolled the map up, “in a car park over here.” I switched between satellite and image and map. ”There isn’t any building close which would have CCTV. Fancy a walk, Minister?”

“Not particularly, but I do accept your reasoning, Jamie.”

I took up the floor plan. “I’ll need to study this more in detail and come up with a search plan.”

“Well, then,” He said and got up.

I understood the dismissal, but it was still my turn.

I got up. “We’ll now have a break of four hours. I suggest you try to get some sleep and have a last visit to the facilities, Minister. After that, we’ll have a light dinner. I suggest room service. We’ll make a move by 19:30 latest. Sync time. On my phone it’s 15:24.”

He looked at me surprised. “Yes, sir.” His phone showed the same time.

I nodded, picked up the HK and left for my own room.

Knowing I wouldn’t find any rest right now, I laid down on the bed and texted Mike a status update. ‘Checked in with MW. Wish you were here with me instead. Love you!’

To finish my exchanges, I took pictures of the map on my phone and sent them with an explanatory message to Chief-Inspector Mwangi. Sighing, I started memorising the floor plan.

When I was ready, I programmed a set of alarms for the phone. I didn’t want to be surprised having run out of time when crawling around that industrial complex. After that, I unloaded the HK and put it under my pillow. I shuddered at how unprofessional I was. The ammunition, the Glock, and the Taser went into the safe which was becoming quite full. Then, I took off my gear and boots and crashed on the bed.

I had about one and a half hours of rest when my alarm rang. Yawning, I got up and went to the fridge to take out the can of coke I’d put there yesterday evening. Having consumed half of it, I fell to the ground to do some push-ups.

Morris-Walker knocked at the connecting door. “Jamie?”


He opened the door. “Oh, do you really need to exercise right now?”

“Wakes me up.”

“Well, I only need to listen to speeches made by members of the opposition to get my blood going.”

I stopped in my movement and looked at him from below. I started laughing and got up.

The confusion was written on his face. “What is so funny, Jamie?”

“Minister, I just need to listen to one of your speeches to get the same effect. It’s nice we’ve something in common.” I sat on the bed to put on my boots.

“And I thought your time with me would have shown you the light, Jamie.”

I couldn’t say whether he was serious or sarcastic. “Minister, the day I vote Conservative is the day when you vote Green.”

“Green?” He said appalled. “Jamie! That is a lost vote.”

“Let’s not discuss the deficiencies in democracy of our political system. I’m in uniform, and thus I’m forbidden from making political statements.” I beamed an overemphasised smile his way, and got up to don the ballistic vest.

His disdain was visible for a brief moment before he changed the topic. “Anyway, I would order a club sandwich. Would you like to have one, too?”

“Sure.” I put on my utility belt.

Morris-Walker left. I heard him picking up the room’s phone to order food.

I took the Taser from the safe, checked it, and put it into its holster. Next followed the firearm accessories which I placed on my desk. I attached the red dot sights on top of the weapons and the torches under the barrels. Sights and torches worked well and had full batteries. However, the pistol didn’t fit in my standard-issue holster anymore. Luckily, whoever had organised the items for Morris-Walker knew that would be the case, and the minister’s ‘gift bag’ contained a new holster. I replaced the holster on my utility belt and tried fast drawing several times. It was a bit different, but okay. I then took the bag the minister had prepared for me and emptied its contents on the bed.

Morris-Walker stood in the connecting door. I hadn’t heard him return. For how long he’d been there observing me preparing my kit, I couldn’t say.

I threw him a glance. “Minister?”

He nodded towards the items on the bed. There were protective panels for arms and legs, elbow and knee protectors, combat gloves, protective goggles, and a military helmet. “Before the invasion of my house, I would have declared you insane for asking me to get these things.”

“Before the invasion of your house, I wouldn’t have dreamt of asking for these things.”

He was still in his suit.

“You should change, Minister.”

He closed the connecting door.

I checked and tried the items before I placed them back into the bag. I added a couple of gimmicks of my own, a holder for my phone I could strap on my forearm and some tools which would come in handy. Feeling ready, I went for a last visit to the loo.

I waited for the minister to tell me he was ready which nicely coincided with the room service bringing our food. Over dinner, I roughly explained the search plan to him. There was one last thing to do.

“Now, we put our duty phones on silent and leave them here. Our private phones go into airplane mode and also on silent.”

He grimaced, not liking what I was asking. His phone seemed like his lifeline.

“Well, sir, you don’t want to get a phone ringing when you’re trying to be stealthy. Also, the position data can be traced, so if shit were to hit the fan, these can’t be used to prove that we left the hotel.”

It was of course a breach of protocols that we left our duty phones behind, but he did as I’d asked.

Then, there wasn’t anything more to say. I picked up the HK and the bag holding the equipment.

“Ready, Minister?”

His face was grim with determination. “Yes, Jamie. Lead on.”

We walked to the car, again without meeting anybody. I wondered whether we were the only guests at this place. I secured the HK in the car’s safe and the bag in the boot while Morris-Walker was about to take his seat in the back.

“Sir, might I suggest you take the passenger seat? It’d be less conspicuous when we arrive at the car park. Any member of the public present might think you’re a police officer in plain clothes.”

He hesitated and for a second I thought he’d complain about me dismissing the chance of him being recognised for who he was. However, he took his place beside me just fine. I settled in the driver’s seat. I started the car and drove out of the hotel’s underground car park.

We left the city on a road which was busy even at this time of day and headed southwards. Not so long after leaving the city behind, I turned onto a main road east. It took an additional half an hour to arrive at our destination.

The car park was mostly empty. It was getting dark. A woman was trying to get her dog to jump into the back of a car. She didn’t pay any attention to us. I chose a spot close to the footpath but didn’t get out of the car. Instead, I arranged the rearview mirror and checked on the woman and her dog. She had in the meantime succeeded with her endeavor and started her car.

“What are we waiting for, Jamie?”

“If we can avoid being seen, we should take that opportunity.” The car disappeared behind a bend. “Now, we can get out.”

I retrieved my weapon and gear, and we set out on the path ahead of us.

There wasn’t anybody on the footpath, and we cleared the underpass, reaching the edge of the Abbott Industrial Park undisturbed. On this side of the fence grew bushes and small trees. From here, the industrial building appeared more like a ruin than from above. Most of the windows higher up were broken, and the ones on the ground floor were boarded up. Graffiti covered the red brick wall, even in places the vandals should’ve been able to reach. It looked dreary in the fading daylight.

I wondered why this building was erected here, in the middle of nowhere, but I assumed that during the Victorian age, the area must’ve been quite different.

“Gosh, it’s ugly,” I said.

“Jamie, this building is an excellent example for mid-Victorian industrial architecture. This witness to the industrial revolution is part of our cultural heritage.”

I’d had enough. “Minister, that’s over 150 years ago. Who cares?”

“Jamie, I am appalled.”

If I hadn’t been carrying the bag, I would’ve crossed my arms. “Minister, let me tell you something. The police driving school drives all over the country, and in the trainer’s office is a big picture of some village green in England. On the verge was a big sign stating, ‘On the 14th of March 1493, on this very spot, nothing happened.’”


“You Conservatives have an obsession about the past. It’s as if you wanted to cover the whole damn country in plastic wrap and keep it in the Victorian age. The world moves on, Minister.”

I continued along the path to find a hidden spot where I could breach the fence to the property.

Morris-Walker followed behind. “Jamie, that you neglect your heritage is a shame.”

“I’m not neglecting my heritage. I’m against letting people like you dream of the glorious past so much we lose sight of the future. I much rather life now than in the Victorian age!”

I spotted what I’d been looking for. Before he could reply, I went behind a big bush and put on plastic gloves. I waved the minister closer. Checking up and down the empty path, he joined me behind the bush.

I took out a wire cutter from the tools in the bag and readied it. “Last chance, Minister. From now on, we’ll break the law. Speak now or forever hold your peace.”

He nodded, and I cut the fence so we could enter the property. I held the breach open so Morris-Walker could pass unharmed. Once he’d climbed through, I checked for our footprints in the dirt around the bush and disturbed two clear prints. I then followed through the gap and rearranged the fence. Finally, I secured it with a couple of neatly cut cable ties.

I judged my work wouldn’t be detected unless someone was actively looking for something like this ... which forensics might very well do tomorrow, depending on how this evening unfolded.

“That’s the first count of Criminal Damage, but unless we were observed, there shouldn’t be any tangible evidence against us.”

“Hooray, Jamie,” He said drily. “Lead on.”

Staying close to the fence, we turned back northwards until we reached the border fence separating the property from a main road. Luckily, a strip of twenty meters thickly covered in bushes and even trees prevented us being seen from the road.

We hastened along the fence, edging nearer to the looming building with every step. I scanned the area, checking for movement or anything unusual, but couldn’t detect anything. Nevertheless, there was something here which made the hairs on my neck stand up. I didn’t look back at the minister to check whether he felt the same. We were exposed, and we needed to reach the cover the building as quickly as possible.

Once we were at level with the building, we sprinted the distance between fence and wall and sought cover. I didn’t detect any CCTV cameras or other kind of surveillance equipment. I still felt observed nonetheless.

I glanced at Morris-Walker. He was calm and nodded at me. Checking again that we were out of sight from the roads and the footpath, I put the bag down and removed the armour pieces. I quickly donned it. Then, I dispersed the tools to different pockets and attached the combat knife to my utility belt. Finally, I distributed the additional ammunition.

Having geared up, I handed the minister a couple of plastic gloves. At first, he seemed as if he was to reject the officer, but he took them and put them on.

I mustered the wall. The upper windows were nearly all smashed, and the windows at ground level were boarded. There was an emergency exit a couple of meters further, and the corridor behind led to the central hall.

I examined the old door. Its former glass panels were all boarded up, but there was a tiny gap above the knob. Taking a small crowbar, I carefully opened the door with as little noise as possible.

I was able to push the handle from the inside, and the door opened. “Now, we add Aggravated Burglary Non-Dwelling to the list.”

“Why aggravated?”

“We’re carrying weapons.” Taking up the machine pistol, I turned on the laser sight and under-barrel torch.

While I’d made it sound like a joke to the minister, I was worried. I hoped Chief-Inspector Mwangi had by now found a judge to issue a search warrant for this site, or my career would end in prison.

I entered the building cautiously, being careful of the shattered glass on the floor. As I stepped into the corridor, I noticed the walls were covered in graffiti, and the floor was littered with debris, mostly glass and rubbish. My heart was pounding in my chest as I turned first right and then left, the beam of the machine pistol’s torch cutting through the darkness. The feeling of being watched became more intense.

The corridor stank of urine and rot. With the HK at the ready, I turned left and took slow and deliberate steps forward. I signaled the minister to follow, hoping he understood my signal. We hadn’t gone though tactical communications. An oversight on my part.

I heard the sound of breaking glass behind me which confirmed Morris-Walker was following me. I shouldn’t be judgemental, but my unease made me feel edgy. As we walked along the corridor, we got closer to the central hall, and the feeling of being watched intensified into a feeling of foreboding and dread. There was power in this place. It was unmistakable.

Approaching the remnants of the door which had once separated the corridor from the central hall, I signaled the minister to stay back. I changed stance, lowering the HK and staying close to the wall, and concentrated on the energy flow to my eyes. My vision shifted, the weapon’s torch illuminating the corridor for me as if it were broad daylight.

I carefully leaned past the door remnants and peeked around the corner. The factory’s central hall where the Bessemer cylinders were once located stood like a ghost from a bygone era. The ceiling was about ten meters up, supported by towering columns scarred by time and neglect. The walls and structures were a patchwork of rusted metal and crumbling bricks, with vines and moss reclaiming what was once a testament to human ingenuity.

The broken windows should’ve allowed for the heavy traffic outside to be audible, but the hall stood in eerie silence. I was only able to discern the distant echo of dripping water. Despite my sight enhancement, the little light provided from the outside and my weapon’s torch, shadows danced everywhere.

I stepped into the hall and motioned for the minister to follow. The floor was littered with debris made of broken glass, chunks of bricks and concrete, and remnants of machinery. The air was heavy with the smell of damp earth and decay which served as a stark reminder of the ruin’s abandonment.

We were on the level from which the Bessemer converters would’ve been loaded. There was an edge opening up to the level below. Each step closer to the edge took real effort. The power here was now tangible. I got goosebumps, and a chill went down my spine.

The silence was oppressing. I risked a glance back at the minister. He’d drawn his pistol which also sported an under-barrel torch. However, instead of pointing it aimlessly around, he used it to illuminate the path in front of him.

His movements told me he was tense. Maybe he felt the power too. He noticed me gaze and nodded gravely. He did feet it too. Whatever was happening here was bad and had to be stopped.

I didn’t know what I’d expected to see when I reached the edge. Below was the floor where the Bessemer converters would’ve been emptied into waiting train cars. The tracks were still visible in places, but the lower level was littered with even more debris than up here.

The minister stepped next to me and glanced over the edge. He couldn’t see as well as I could, so he looked at me inquisitively. I shook my head in response and shrugged lightly. Annoyed, I realised he’d known about my darksight all along.

Thinking about it, he’d never explained what he knew about me. I remembered my lesson well; the truth was only the omission of details. Making a mental note to have that chat with him again, I stepped back from the edge.

Remembering the floor plans, I turned left to the outer wall. The map had shown stairs leading about eight meters down to the floor below. Resuming the careful stance and checking more backwards than forwards, I made my way there. The minister followed carefully.

The eerie silence was deafening, and the feeling of power was oppressing. I mindfully moved down the stairs, hugging the wall. The ceiling seemed far away from the plant’s actual ground floor, and the hall seemed immense. I felt small.

Sighing, I took a few steps forward. The feeling of dread increased. It became so intense I unconsciously stopped moving. The minister suddenly appeared next to me.

As he moved his mouth, it seemed as if he was speaking. He looked confused. As I tried to respond, I couldn’t hear my own voice. I realised this was how the ritualists were able to kill without anyone noticing. They had the ability to create field which suppressed all sound.

I used the phone strapped to my forearm to type a message, ‘Can you do anything against this?’ and showed it to the minister. Morris-Walker read and shook his head. What the hell was the man good for apart from snooping into other people’s business?

I hated to admit it, but having had this small exchange with another human being had strengthened my resolve. Less worried about making noise, but still concerned about the uneven, insecure ground, I moved forwards in small steps.

However, from the ground floor, we couldn’t reach the center of the large hall. Our way was blocked by piles of junk and detritus. Climbing it seemed too dangerous. There were parts of the plant we hadn’t explored yet. Perhaps we could discover another way. At the same time, the feeling of power was stronger here than it’d been before. I signaled the minister we would return to the stairs.

As I climbed the stairs with the weapon at the ready, it became clear the center of the hall was where the power emanated. With each step away from it, the feeling of dread slowly diminished. Although we hadn’t encountered anyone yet, I was certain it wouldn’t be long before we did.

“That is interesting,” the minister said from behind me.

Still scanning the area in front of us, I didn’t turn around, but whispered, “I can hear you.”

He kept his voice down, too. “Excellent. Do you know what this means?”

“What does it mean, Minister?” Why could this bloke never say what he knew right from the start?

“They have erected a form of shield. Such power! Incredible.” He sounded impressed.

I didn’t like that at all. “I guess someone had to die for it?”

That downed him a bit. “Yes, Jamie. I am certain.”

I took point trying to reach the center of the hall here on the loading level. This time, I knew how it would feel, so it didn’t affect me as much. Still, a cold shudder went down my spine, and I felt dread in the eerie silence when we approached.

On this level, there was nothing blocking our way. From where the second cylinder had been, we were able to look down to the center of the hall on the plant’s ground floor. It was disappointing. I didn’t know what to expect, but more debris and machine parts hadn’t been top on the list.

I turned my head to fix on the minister. He shook his head while looking around. He then picked up a small piece of brick and threw it down. To my surprise, it didn’t land but rather hovered three meters from us in the air.

Morris-Walker signaled for me to follow. Now more relaxed, he walked normally back to the corridor from which we’d entered the hall. Still trying to be careful, I had a problem keeping up.

He turned to face me, speaking without any regard for secrecy. “I cannot believe it. They have created an illusion combined with a barrier.”

“How many?”

“I beg your pardon?” He really didn’t seem to get what I was asking.

“How many did they slaughter for this?”

He lifted a finger at me. “Jamie, that is not the point.”

“Not the point? How can you say that?” I was appalled.

He sighed. “Jamie, you do not seem to get the bigger picture here. What happens to some poor people who had the misfortune to fall into the hands of these madmen, is at the moment completely irrelevant.”

Did I just hear right? “What?”

He was frustrated and sighed deeply before he replied, “Jamie, the murderers want to complete a ritual to open a gate to another reality. Yes, they will kill a person to do so, and yes, they most likely have killed others to erect that barrier which prevents the perception of sound and passing of physical objects like the stone.” He emphasised every word of the last sentence. “But that is not the issue!”

My time to get annoyed. “Then what’s the fucking issue, if it isn’t rescuing people?”

“The issue is the gate to an alien reality, Jamie! We must prevent them opening it by preventing them from completing the ritual! Once they have opened the gate, we do not know what will come through it to step into our reality. By all indications, it would be a nightmare, probably in the literal sense.”

Yes, I’d heard that before. The attack by the green horde was the proof I’d needed to accept. That’s why I was here with him. But how could he be so cold?

He turned on the spot, pointing at the direction of the stone floating in the air. “Jamie, they sit under that shield safe and sound, and we have no way getting to them.”

“What do we do now?”

“That is a good question, Jamie. I have to think about that.”

“Well, think quickly, Minister. We’ve barely four hours left.”

Copyright © 2024 lawfulneutralmage; All Rights Reserved.
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A very special thank you to my editor @Mikiesboy and beta reader @CassieQ. Their support and advice has been invaluable.
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.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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