What if men were an endangered gender?


1. A new start.

As he drove slowly up the long and winding gravel drive towards the house his emotions were as mixed up as ever. The car was a new bright red BMW, he had never owned a new car before and the smell and feel of this top of the range vehicle should have afforded him at least the transitory pleasure a new toy gives a child. It didn’t but then he was not a child, far from it. During the last twenty-five of the forty eight long years he had spent on the planet he had seen countless things that would have driven the innocence of a child from anyone.

On the car radio was a news item about the deep divisions caused by the miners strike even though it had ended two years ago. This disturbed him and he switched it off as soon as the car came to a halt in front of the main entrance of the neglected old house. He turned the engine off but stayed in the car and stared at the heap of a building in front of him.

Not wishing to sit in silence he rummaged around in the glove compartment that although he had only taken possession of the vehicle three weeks ago was jammed full of empty cigarette packets sweet wrappers and unopened letters. He found a music cassette and placed it in the cassette player, tuned the volume up and listened. The Album was The Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd; not exactly the cheeriest thing to listen to considering his state of mind but it was all he could find. When the track Money started to play he smiled.

“How fucking ironic!” He said and leaving it playing got out of the car and stared at the property he had just acquired.

He went back to the car and grabbed the keys to the building, a fresh pack of cigarettes and a bottle of single malt whisky. He need not have bothered with the keys as when he approached the front door it fell inwards with an almighty crash.

When the dust had settled he stepped around the fallen door into the cavernous entrance hall of the old building. In front of him was a very large and grand staircase that reminded him of a scene from the film Gone with the Wind, not that he had ever managed to sit through the entire film, Science Fiction was more his cup of tea.

There were the odd pieces of furniture scattered around the hall that had been covered in dustsheets however most items of value had long ago been removed. He dragged the dustsheet from an old leather wing backed chair sat down, lit a cigarette and opened the bottle of Glenmorangie.

When he woke the whisky had gone as had most of the day. He looked at his watch; it was 4 p.m. he had been out for five hours. His melancholy mood had now turned to anger and as he stood he threw the empty bottle at the nearest wall, as it shattered he staggered towards the staircase. These mood swings had not as he had hoped diminished since he retired but had increased in frequency and intensity.

Slowly climbing the stairs using the three steps forward and two back tourniquet he eventually reached the halfway point where he stopped to catch his breathe and light another cigarette. He ignited the foul smelling French cigarette, on the seventh attempt and dropped the engraved lighter, one of the gifts he had been given when he retired onto the stone step beneath his feet. As he bent to pick it up he saw a small crack appear in the stone. The small crack quickly became a large crack, which in turn became a hole. If he had been sober he may well have been able to avoid this small chasm and hop onto the next step but he was not sober and he fell.

His fall was broken by something soft; he could not see what as the place he now found himself in was completely without light except for the thin shaft streaming down from the hole in the stairs above. This shaft of light shone down at an angle and faintly illuminates a small figure sitting in the far corner of this hidden room.

The fall shook him out of his drunken stupor and as luck would have it his lighter had fallen with him and lay nearby. He found it as he pushed himself to his feet and as he approached the shape in the corner of the room lit it and held the flame close to it then staggered back in surprise.

From what he could see it was the seated body of a small child, completely covered in a thick layer of dust. His training now kicked in, he knew he must preserve the scene as best he could and calmly looked for a way out so he could report his gruesome discovery. Although no longer a serving police officer he reacted like one and systematically searched the room for an exit doing his best to touch as little as he could. He soon found a door; it was covered in dust and cobwebs and had obviously not been used for decades if not longer. It was locked but the wood was so decayed he forced it open with ease. The door opened inward to reveal a mass of brambles on the outside.

It was a bright summers evening but this enclosed area was dark and damp. He had no choice he forced his way trough the brambles and up into the main part of the garden. He shielded his face with his arms but when he eventually emerged his clothing and upper body was ripped to shreds. Using the car phone he dialed 999.

Within minutes the local Constabulary arrived, a double-crewed emergency response vehicle with two-tone horns sounding and blue light flashing shuddered to a halt next to the red BMW. The officers approached the car.

“Mr. Dixon?’
The older of the two said to the scratched to buggery driver sitting sideways in the drives seat with both legs out of the open drivers door and a fresh bottle of Glenmorangie in his hand.

“Call me Brian.”
He responded letting the half empty bottle fall onto the gravel drive.

“I will call you a time wasting drunk if you have called us for no reason.”
The older officer responded in a very broad regional accent.

Brian pulled himself out of the car, said nothing and without warning delivered a perfect left hook to the officer’s jaw. The man crashed to the ground in a uniform manner as befits a seasoned officer. His partner leapt on Brian with youthful enthusiasm and held him face down on the bonnet of the patrol car whilst he franticly called for assistance. Brian couldn’t be asked to struggle.

In what seemed like an age but was probably only ten minutes a second vehicle arrived, an unmarked green Ford Escort. Brian looked up, this was either a CID car or the Estate Agent had arrived. A shabbily dressed male got out of the car and stepping over the still unconscious Police officer on the ground approached Brian and his captor, he introduced himself.

‘My name is D. S. Green. What’s occurring?”

Unlike the uniformed officers he did not speak with the very distinctive regional accent and sounded as though he may have originally come from London or at least somewhere down south.

“Not from these parts then?” Brian responded.

“What makes you say that?” Replied the detective.

“Because I can understand what you are bloody saying. Tell young Worzel Gummidge to get off my back I promise I won’t kick his tractor!”

“Let him go.”
The Detective Sergeant ordered. Then catching a whiff of Brian’s breath said.
“Are you this funny when you’re sober?”

Brian did not respond.

Detective Sergeant Green after making sure an ambulance had been called for the officer on the ground took Brian to one side.

“I presume you are responsible for the casualty?” He said.

“Well in the absence of anyone else here I can pin it on, yes!”
Brian flippantly responded.

‘You look a mess have you had an argument with a cat as well?”
The detective responded ignoring Brian’s attitude problem.

“Look is anyone going to bother to look at the body in the cellar or are all your resources tied up tracking down Potato Rustlers?”
Brian replied pushing his luck to the limit.

D.S. Green was unfazed.

“We have the root vegetable situation in hand and when you stop decking my officers we can take a look at this body you allege you have found. Oh and by he way your nicked!”

As he said this an ambulance, another police car and a battered old police van arrived. The sleeping Policeman was loaded into the ambulance. Several rather disgruntled looking officers slowly spilled out of the van. They had apparently been trying to keep the local hunt supporters and saboteurs apart all day and having heard the call that an officer was down had diverted to the Manor House.

Turning to Brian D.S. Green said.
“Before I have you carted off Mr. Dixon perhaps you can point out where you saw this body?”

Brian pointed out the thicket of brambles that were concealing the cellar door.

“The door is down there it was the only door I could find and it was locked and bolted from the inside. There is a dust covered small child in the far corner of the room”

‘Take him away, I will speak to him later.”
D.S. Green instructed the officers who had arrived in the second patrol car.

He then turned to the grumpy bunch of PC’s who had arrived in the van and who were now wandering about muttering and kicking the ground.

“Clear those brambles!” He instructed.

“Fuck off!”
A rather overweight officer sitting on the embankment next to the van mumbled, assuming he would not be heard.

D.S. Green who had 20-20 hearing made straight for him.

“P.C. Ramsey isn’t it? Look I know you have had a long day and are no doubt in desperate need of a pie and a pint and I am sure all this piss head has discovered is a dust covered statue. But we will check all the same and the sooner you get off you fat arse and start clearing these brambles the sooner we can all get away from here. I will check the house for another entrance but in the mean time fucking get on with it you fat bastard and watch your tongue in future!”

D.S. Green walked towards the house, he had obviously learnt a lot from the team motivation course he had recently attended. He checked the entire ground floor and there was no obvious entrance to the cellar. He then peered through the man-size hole in the stone staircase, the sun was now much lower in the sky and all it was illuminating was a section of crumbling bare brick wall.

By the time the brambles had been cleared it was approaching 8 p.m. Fortunately it was a bright and sunny summers evening and although the light was fading there was enough of it now streaming in through the open door to the cellar to see at least what was just inside the door although the far side of the room was still shrouded in darkness. D.S. Green grabbed a powerful torch from the boot of his car and entered the musty cellar.

Just bellow the hole in the stairs was a filthy old horsehair mattress. The detective examined the door, it was completely rotten but he could see that the mortis lock was still in the locked position and that the bolts at the top and bottom of the door were pulled over. There were no windows and from what he could see no means of lighting the room, certainly no electricity. There was also no furniture in the room.

As the torch penetrated the dark side of the room the beam bounced off the dust covering what indeed looked like a small child crouched in the corner.

It had to be some sort of ornament or statue D.S Green thought as he slowly approached it. Even close up it was difficult to tell what it was as the dust covering it was so thick and cobwebs filled the space between the figure and the two walls in the corner of the room giving the impression that the figure was attached to and part of the room. He placed the torch as close as he could to what appeared to be the head of the figure to see if he could identify what lay beneath the thick layer of dust, he did not want to touch the figure as if it was a body this might contaminate any evidence.

Suddenly the head moved, it rotated towards the detective and as it did so the dust crumbled away from it revealing the pale face of what appeared to be a young male child. D.S. Green stood back in surprise but retained enough composure to keep the torch focused on the face. The skin was pale and luminous but showed no signs of decay. When the eyes opened and stared at the detective he lost all composure and staggered backwards falling onto the horsehair mattress.

The torch fell to the ground but was still pointing towards the figure. D.S. Green watched as it slowly stood dust falling away from it like dead skin. It walked towards him dragging with it a cloak of cobwebs.

“Fuck!” He screamed.

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