Chapter One Prelude to Midnite 3
Chapter Two Three Times. 21
Chapter Three Darkness Approaches. 29
Chapter Four Early Evening 43
Chapter Five Day and Night. 52
Chapter Six Intermission. 65
Chapter Seven The Days of Wine and Roses. 77
Chapter Eight Visitors 81
Chapter Nine Rose and Thorn 92
Chapter Ten Night and Fog. 97
Chapter Eleven Visiting. 108
Epilog. 119Chapter One Prelude to Midnite
Have you ever wondered what would have happened if you had never gone to the Inn on that fatal night when you met your husband or wife.
A ripple in time would move outwards like an eddy of the rising tide.
The larger the historical change the bigger the ripple and a new Earth appears to compensate for the change in history.
A world separated from our own by only the different vibration rates of Hydrogen at rest.
For the need of clarity let us call the blue green planet beneath us Earth Seven.
It is a world only slightly different from our familiar one.
On this world the USA didn't win the war of independence but gained self rule thanks to the skilful negotiations of President Lincoln after the US civil war before his life was cut short by an assassins bullet.
Though they kept the British monarch as their figurehead in all other ways they were self governing.
They joined Canada, Australia, New Zeeland and South Africa as the bed rock of Queen Victoria's commonwealth of nations.
The first world war had come and gone but a new one was looming over the horizon, a war the US were unsure they wanted to be involved in.
The Royal Free Hospital in Lincoln was the first of the modern up to date facilities spring up in the towns around Boston.
The hospital was built to serve the people of Lincoln regardless of race, colour, religion or wealth. It relied totally on charitable donations and government monies for the research wings called Star Labs, but that hadn't stopped it attracting the best surgeons, doctors and nurses to its doors. One such doctor was Charles McNider. Charles was only in his mid twenties but he already had become the foremost expert in the conditions and diseases of the eye.
He was doing his ward round with his personal nurse, Sister Myra Mason, who acted as a P.A. to the great man, taking notes, reminding him of appointments but she hadn't expected to have fallen helplessly in love with him. She just couldn't build enough courage to tell him.
She remained quite content to work quietly with him.
Charles was quite a catch for any woman. He stood five foot ten with an athletes build and a flashing smile and finally a pair of the warmest brown eyes.
The corridor's were bright and antiseptically clean.
"Good Morning Doctor McNider." Myra said with a bright smile.
"Good Morning Myra." He replied with a grin.
Myra's white nurses uniform augmented her fair complexion and blond hair, turning her into any hot blooded males dream.
"I have your list here doctor." Myra passed over the clipboard with the sheet of paper and his notes on it.
"Thank you Sister." After a quick scan he looked up and gave one of his bright smiles to a newcomer. "Good morning Matron. Did you get to see your Godchildren over the weekend?"
The Matron was a formidable looking woman in her forty's who had been known to reduce grown men to quivering wrecks, but Charles could turn her into a blushing teenager.
"Good morning doctor McNider, Sister." She paused a beat. "Yes I did see them over the weekend. Milo sends his best wishes."
Milo had a squint which Charles had managed to correct for him. The boy and Charles had become firm friends through their love of comics.
"Spotlessly clean as usual Matron." He gave her another smile. "We will start with Tommy Lane please Matron."
The Matron led them to the bed of a teenager.
"And how are we today young man?"
"Alright doctor." The boy lent forward and whispered. "I'll be glad to go home. The food in here is terrible."
"I know." Charles whispered back. "Think of me I have to eat here every day and night."
He slipped a Hershey bar under the covers to him as if the others couldn't see what he was doing.
"Lets have a look at you eye shall we."
Myra carefully unwrapped the bandage that held the lint pad into place.
Tommy like Milo had a squint though in Tommie's case it was more pronounced.
Myra bathed the boys eye with sterile water to wipe away the stickiness.
"Now Tommy I want you to open that eye and I want you to tell me truthfully if it hurts in anyway." Charles held the boys head still.
The boy looked up into the beaming face of the good doctor.
His eyes were straight if a little unfocused.
"Follow my finger with your eyes Tommie, that's a good boy." He then turned to Myra and Matron. "The stitches look fine and the eyes look straight. I would like to keep him in for another forty eight hours. For the rest of today have his eyes washed and soothed with saline drops. Tomorrow have Doctor Goodman test his eyes. I think he will need glasses.
Myra contact his parents and tell them the operation looks like a success, no was a success, tell them he will have to be monitored for awhile.
Myra took the instructions down.
"Now young man I want you to listen carefully to me. There some scarring around the eyes but I don't want you to worry as they will fade in time.
If you start getting pain if your eyes you are to tell the duty nurse or Sister straight away, like wise if your vision becomes blurred. Is that understood?
"Will do doctor, and thanks."
As they walked away from the boys bed he pulled out the chocolate bar and tried unsuccessfully to unwrap in quietly.
"Don't gorge yourself on that young man. I don't want you making yourself sick." The Matron said warmly over her shoulder.
Charles was at the next bed where a hansom young coloured man lay.
"Hello Simon." He said cheerily.
"Hello doctor." He replied trying to pretend he felt the same.
"I've some good news and some not so good news for you."
"The good news is that I've managed to reattached the retina and bad news is that any blow to the head could undo all the work we have just done." Charles paused a moment. He hated this part. "I'm afraid you won't be able to box again. I'm sorry."
"Whatever for doctor. You've saved my sight.
I was going to pack up the fight game anyway.
I got to be the United States Light Middleweight Champion and that is good enough.
There's an old gym down in Queens I've had my eye on.
My last purse should be more than enough to buy it.
And I'll be able to see more of the girls."
"How old are they now?"
"Amie is ten and Angela is eight." He took his wallet off the side table and pulled out a photograph of himself with the girls and another of the girls with his young wife. They had got married when they were only eighteen and had Amie the year after.
"They look a credit to you both." Charles said honestly.
"Thank you. Here doc I hear that you keep yourself pretty fit." Simon said with a grin that lit up his whole face.
"Yes I do my best to keep in condition." It was true the Charles did keep himself fit. He also was learning unarmed combat to learn how to keep himself focused.
"If you come down to my gym I'll give you a good deal." Simon continued.
"Drumming up trade already. I might take you up on that young man." The fact that Charles was only a few years younger than him made it sound peculiar, not that Charles was worried about it.
Charles's energy and zest for life often left others trailing in his wake.
"Simon's family are waiting in the reception area doctor, shall I let them in?" The Matron asked.
"Yes I don't see why not. Remember Simon no knocks to the head and no sudden movements for awhile, so you'll have to warn those boisterous girls of yours to take care."
"Will do doctor."
"Matron I'll be seeing to our VIP guest while you're collecting the girls. Please rejoin us when you can."
"I won't be long doctor."
"Don't rush Matron we can manage for a while." He turned to Myra. "Make a note that I'm to train both surgeons on reattaching the retina please Myra."
Myra note it down.
They left the main ward and crossed over to one of the four private rooms.
Outside on a chair sat a thick set police officer.
"Good Morning Officer Bradley." Charles said lightly. "We've come to see my patient."
"Okay doctor." There was great respect shown in those two words.
The officer unlocked the door and followed them in.
Sitting in a fine silk dressing gown sat Carroll Ponte, a minor Mafioso.
"Hello doctor how are you to day?" Carroll's Italian accent was strong.
"I'm fine. I'm just going to have a final look in your eyes to satisfy myself that I'm right."
Carroll had been caught by the police and immediately did plea bargaining to get a lighter sentence.
The police had squirreled him away in a safe house to keep him safe till the trial. But problems with his eyes led to him being in the Free.
Incongruously Carroll was a pleasant witty man which belied the evidence of cruelty that lay at his door.
Charles got him to sit in the chair by the door so he could examine the eyes with his torch.
Satisfied he put the torch away.
"It's bad news I'm afraid. You have Sorsby's Macula Dystrophy."
"Does that mean I'm going blind?" The cheerful persona was dropped to show how worried the man truly was.
"We have caught it in the early stages. I can't cure it but I can slow down it's progression. The centre of your vision is going to be lost but peripheral vision will be unimpaired.
It's a genetic fault that has been passed down the generations from a single source. There is only one other family affected and they live in Syracuse in Sicily.
I'll need to check you children, brothers and their children."
"You mean they will get this Macula thing?" The Mafioso was a white as a sheet.
"It is passed down through the female line only. If a child takes after their father there is a greater chance they will be clear of it." Charles explained.
"You said you couldn't cure it?"
"Yes I did but I also said I could slow it up, possibly arrest it so your eye's won't get any worse. It's an injection behind the eye and eye drops. The injection needs to be administered every two months and the eye drops daily.
I'll teach you how to do this before you leave."
Charles turned to the policeman when suddenly the window shattered as an object was thrown through.
There on the floor behind the bed was a hand grenade.
As if in slow motion Charles yelled at them to get down. He quite literally threw Myra onto the floor.
He grabbed the bed and upended it to create a protective wall between them and it.
As he began to duck down it exploded.
Fragments whistled through the side of the bed straight into his face.
As if from far away he could hear screaming of someone in agony and then realised it was his own voice as the blood poured down his cheek from his eye sockets.
He could feel Myra cradling him to her chest.
He felt the Matron come in scream in horror before exiting yelling for medical aid.
He felt Browne, his number two, getting him on a stretcher and wheeling him away to the operating theatre.
Passing in and out of consciousness he eventually came to in a bed in his own eye ward.
He lifted his hand to his eyes and felt the heavy bandage that was wrapt around his head.
"Myra? Myra I'd recognise that perfume anywhere."
"I'm here Charles." She took his hand in hers.
"Are you alright?" He asked his voice full of concern.
"Yes I'm fine save for a scratch on my cheek." Myra's other hand automatically went up to her right cheek where a two inch wound was closed up by many sutures. She was lucky that she didn't lose the eye.
"Officer Bradley and Carroll?"
"They are fine Charles save from a few cuts and bruises. You save our lives Charles." Myra kept her voice neutral but tears ran down her cheeks.
Charles drifted off but Myra stayed put.
A little later Matron came round and put a cup of tea on the locker by her arm.
"You should go home and get some rest, you'll be no good to him if your exhausted."
Myra saw the sense of this even though she was loathed to leave Charles's side.
The Matron placed a hand on her shoulder.
"He is a very strong man, he will get through this but he's going to need all our help."
Myra nodded and said thank you for the tea.
Quarter of an hour later the Matron passed Charles bed to find Myra had fallen asleep in the chair.
The next day Browne was making his rounds and stopped off to examine Charles's eyes.
Myra carefully removed the bandage from around Charles's head and the eye pads. She washed them with sterile saline water.
Even she inhaled with shock at the sight of all the stitch cuts radiating out from his eyes.
"Right Charles I want you to try and open your eyes? Nice and slow now." Browne asked.
Charles screamed in pain as bright light seared his eyes.
Myra took his hand and squeezed it, barely conscious of what she was doing.
"Michael what can you see? Speak to me?"
The eyes were bright red alien looking things.
Michael Browne was in total awe of his boss but it went up a notch as Charles took command of his condition.
"Your eyes are bright red, blood shot. Both the Vitreous and Aqueous Humour are full of red colour making it difficult to see the retina."
Charles closed his eyes.
"What could you see Charles?" Michael asked worried about his seniors cold delivery.
"Nothing except a blinding white light that was extremely painful to endure." Charles gave a ghost of a smile before becoming all efficiency. "Is the Theatre free?"
"Yes I believe so, why?"
"Because I'm going to operate on my eyes using you as my hands and eyes. Myra?"
"I'll need you in theatre to take notes. Right scrub up everyone."
In the theatre Charles's right eye was numbed by a local anaesthetic and even though the white light he endured was incredibly painful he grit his teeth and concentrated on the operation.
"Describe what you can see Michael?"
And so it began the strangest operation that had ever been carried out.
Charles gave the instructions which Michael nervously carried out.
Once the work was done Charles had them carry out the same procedure on his left eye.
"Right Michael tell me what the retina's looks like?"
"The retina's are both intact but their rods and cones look odd as if they had merged together."
"No trauma or ruptures? Nerve damage?"
"Good. Do you know I'm feeling quite tired. Wrap me up my friends we are done here."
Myra had stood in the corner recording everything that was happening, invisible.
She knew Charles, knew him better than he did himself. The calmness he was putting up was a front, she had seen it before when Charles had failed to save someone's sight.
Charles was taken back to the ward with his eyes swathed up.
He hadn't been back long before he had a visitor.
"Doctor." Tommie said as he stood by Charles's bed.
"Hello, Tommie isn't it? How are you young man?"
"I'm doing fine Doctor." He lent forward and whispered into Charles's ear. "I've got you a Hershey bar so you won't have to eat the food here."
The boy slipped his hand with the chocolate bar under the covers.
"Could you do me a favour Tommie?"
"Yeah sure doctor."
"Could you unwrap it for me?"
The boy carefully unwrapped the top and put it into Charles's hand.
Charles took a bite and relished its sweet flavour unaware of the tears in the boys eyes.
Next morning the wrappings were removed from his eyes.
Myra took his hand once again.
When he opened his eyes they were clear of the blood redness and had returned to their warm brown.
Michael looked into the eyes and gave a grunt of approval.
"Has the blood gone?"
"Yes Charles but I'm afraid the damage to the retina is still there. What can you see?"
"The whiteness isn't so painful and I can see shadows in it now." Charles took a deep breath. "I'm blind aren't I?"
"Yes. I am so sorry."
"Extra, extra! Read all about it. Famous Eye Doctor blinded by Mafia hitman." The news paper boys yelled from their stands.
Charles was sitting up in bed and could hear clearly what the boy yelled through his open window.
A little earlier a strange thing had happened. He had been visited by both the Mafioso and the police guard.
They thanked him for saving their lives. It appears that neither suffered more than a few cuts and bruises.
"Keep them Flying Doc." Carroll said earnestly quoting the War Bond slogan from the last world war.
"Good luck doctor." Bradley said. "All of us at the precinct are routing for you."
They soon went leaving Charles to his silent darkness.
To anyone looking at him they wouldn't realise he was blind, his brown eye's were clear and steady. It was only the way he held his head that was the giveaway.
The name was enough to give anyone a shudder.
To be precise the 'Arkam Asylum for the Criminally Insane' sat squarely on an small island in the river of one of the more rundown area's of Gotham.
There were seven powerful cities no more than hundred miles apart in this part of America.
Metropolis, Central City, Coast City, New Brunswick, New Amsterdam and the countries capital Lincoln DC and finally Gotham.
And you couldn't get more different city's.
Metropolis was modern and bright with towering skyscrapers with a temperate climate.
Gotham was gothic in design and subject to freezing winters and boiling summers. It made the city somehow threatening rather than welcoming.
To reach Arkam the staff had to go across a narrow bridge affair that could be lifted at a moments notice.
Razor wire filled the space between the island and the shore to discourage any swimmers.
On the shore side of the bridge was the award winning Arkam Psychiatric Clinic. It was where the Psychiatric worked when they weren't looking after the prisoners.
Two doctors were walking down the gaily coloured corridor to their consulting rooms.
One was a tall woman called Judy Patmore the other a short man call Clint Devonshire.
"Who have you got this morning Judy?" Clint asked.
"I've got Rose Mary Cutter. A strange case." Judy's voice was husky and full of sexual overtones.
"I remember her from the staff briefing. She has Body Dysmorphia hasn't she?"
"Yes but compared to most of the others it's in reverse.
Where many of the Bulimics and Anorexic see themselves fatter than they really are and ugly, Rose sees herself as taller and better looking."
Judy looked at the watch that hung from her white doctors coat.
"I better hurry or she will get their first. See you later?" Judy increased her stride before turning round and walking backward. "You didn't say who you are seeing."
"Carl Perkins. And if he becomes anymore depressed I'll be the one slitting their wrists."
Judy gave a laugh and disappeared around the corner to her consulting room. To an outsider their humour may seem odd and misplaced but it served its purpose in keeping them sane.
She reached the room just as a male nurse came out.
"Have you managed to do as I asked?"
The consulting room had a full length mirror against the far wall and on tables and chairs were other reflective surfaces.
Judy adjusted a warriors metal chest plate such that who ever sat in the patients chair would be reflected in it.
There was a knock on the door.
Rose was a short, slightly tubby, woman with pale blond hair done in a bob. Though she wasn't a stunning beauty like those in the films and fashion magazines she wasn't ugly either.
"Would you like a drink, coffee or tea?"
"No thank you just water please." Rose sat in some discomfort on the patients chair. Everywhere she looked she saw herself reflected back.
"Shall we start? Are you ready?" Judy asked passing a cup of water over to her patient.
Rose looked down at her hands a moment before standing up.
Her body language changed subtly as she crossed to the full length mirror. She seemed more confident, more assertive somehow.
"Tell me what you see Rose. Take a deep breath and take it nice and slow. There's no rush. Just tell me what you see?"
"Not me obviously. That woman look's nothing like me at all." Roses face crumpled in anger. "I'm six foot and I doubt she makes it much over five. She's top heavy unlike me. I've a body to die for."
"Try and describe what you see." Judy persisted.
"She's a fat dumpy nothing whilst I have the body of a starlet, all the curves in the right places. She's blond while I'm a red head." She lifted her hand up to her hair and stopped as her image repeated the action. "Stop copying me you ugly cow!"
"That is the real you Rose. Look at all the reflections are they all lying?"
Rose began walking around the room getting angrier with each step.
Until she was directly behind the Psychiatrist.
"Well Rose are all of the reflections lying? Is even the water lying?"
Rose laughed a nasty short laugh.
"You set this all up to drive me insane! Well it won't work!" Rose's hands tightened. "You see I know what I look like. And no one not even you are going to tell me otherwise."
There was a loud crack as Roses arms convulsed.
Rose took a deep calming breath and looked down at Judy who was slumped in her chair her neck lolling loosely as she slipped to the floor.
Rose undressed her and swapped clothes.
"The thing about a white coat is no one stops you, they think you should be there."
She roll Judy's body under the side table and arranged the cover to hide her body.
Rose stopped to look at herself in the mirror and grunted in satisfaction.
Reflected in the mirror was a slim willowy red head dressed in green and browns resembling a plant. Instead of nails she sported long thorns.
Standing beside her was the figure of Rose in the doctors clothing. She looked terrified.
In front of them stood a little girl with a vicious looking knife.
"When can I come out to play again." The child asked her little girls lisping voice coming out of Rose's mouth.
"Soon, soon my lovely and then we will punish the medics that lie to their patients." Thorn replied.
"Oh goody. I shall look forward to that."
The images of the Thorn and that of the child merged with Rose's.
Her eyes held a haunted look as she picked up the clipboard and left the room.
The doctor had made a mistake Rose wasn't suffering from a body perception problem she was suffering from multiple personality complex.
Their killing spree had only just begun.
Near the Mexico boarder on the US side was the small village of Santa Cruz. On its outskirts was the villa. A white antiseptic long low building sat a couple of meter's away from the entry gate.
A nondescript sedan pulled up in front of it.
The passenger door opened and a tall woman in fatigues stepped out. She was slim but perfectly proportioned with a shock of blond hair.
From the drivers side a very tall athletic build man got out and joined the woman.
Any one with half a brain would realised they were brother and sister.
The man lead his sister over to the villa and opened the door for her.
In the back room waiting for them was a short ugly fellow. He sat like a frog on a lily pad sizing up it's prey.
"Herr Hans Klock and Frauline Hildegard Klock I am Otto Kinsman your contact."
He slid a dossier over the table top to the couple. "You have new passports, id and currency.
You are now Henry and Hilda Lock and have a house in the wealthier part of the city.
You are to set up a secret press and distribute propaganda.
And you will use your special skills to carry out assassinations. We will periodically send you information about your targets."
Hilda looked a Henry and saw his slight nod.
"You will set up a base in Lincoln from which to work from.
At an airfield an hour from here as the crow flies is a British Lysander air craft ready to take you to a small airfield between Brunswick and Gotham.
All the paperwork you require and instructions are in that dossier. Guard it well.
Soon the time of Nacht and Vebel, Night and Fog, will be on us and we must not fail."
Otto suddenly looked fearful.
Right before his eyes Hilda's body was turning into a black miasma that flowed over the walls and ceiling like ink.
It crept up his body plunging him into the blackness.
It wasn't just dark it was total sensory depravation. He could hear nothing, feel nothing, taste nothing and see nothing.
How long he was left in that condition he could not say, it was as if time stopped in that place.
Suddenly light pierced the vale and he swam towards it.
A couple of powerful strokes later he was outside the inky blackness gasping for breath.
He watched in horror as Henry's body became the host of fog like vapours.
Where before he was in inky darkness this time he was swathed in a white fog making it difficult to see where he was.
The agent thought he was dreaming. It had that sort of feel to it.
A crushing pain in his shoulder and jaw made him stagger before with a scream he dropped to his knees to keel over quite dead.
"Destroy the building brother. No one should be able to say we have been here."
"I have the materials outside."
As they drove away the building erupted into flame.
Nact and Vebel had begun.Chapter Two Three Times.
Charles was sitting up in bed his eyes heavily swathed in bandages.
"Now I know what one of my patients feel like." He said out loud to the person he knew was sitting by the bed. "And it's not nice."
"Yes I know, but remember what you say to the blind patients that you treat." Myra said keeping her emotions in check. 'There is nothing standing between you and success in life except yourself. So no self-pity."
"He was very wise this doctor of yours. I must meet him someday and shake him firmly by the neck."
"You haven't changed a bit just as irreverent as normal."
"Have you been here all night?" He asked seriously.
"Not all the night but some of it."
Charles sniffed and cocked his head over to listen.
"Ah we have a newcomer. A different scent and walk." He said eventually as the new person reached the bed.
"Ignore him he's just showing off."
"Hello Doctor McNider I'm Nurse Cutter, Rose Cutter."
"Well, welcome to the lunatic asylum." Charles bonhomie fooled no one especially Myra who could read him like a book.
"I'll be dealing with your daily needs today." Rose said cheerily, tidying the bedclothes. "Do you need a bottle or bedpan."
"No I need my clothes so I can go back to work."
The new nurse looked shocked whereas Myra looked resigned.
"You better do as he asks Rose or he'll try to do it himself."
She bustled away.
"Yes." She knew what was coming next.
"Take the bandages off and wash my eyes?" He paused. "Please."
The word seemed more like a plea than a polite response.
She carefully took off the bandages and washed his eyes.
Charles open them and appeared to look at Myra. They were clean and an intense warm brown.
"What's that on your left cheek?" He said peering at her intensely.
"You can see?" Her throat constricted in hope.
"No not the way you mean, but you still haven't told me what's on your cheek?" He persisted.
"A piece of shrapnel from the hand grenade cut my cheek that's all. I'm wearing a dressing on it." She paused. "How can you see that?"
How could he indeed.
Charles took stock for a moment before explaining to Myra as best he could.
To Charles everything was in shades of white. Though he could see the shape of Myra's head and nurses hat he couldn't see the detail of her face. The pad on her cheek was a regular shape on the whiteness of her cheek. He was basically seeing outlines of the things around him.
As he finished telling Myra, Rose returned with his clothes.
"Is there a drug store outside? I seem to remember there's one a block up from here."
"Yes I know it." Rose said as she and Myra helped Charles dress.
Charles reached for his bill fold and pulled out a note but to his horror he couldn't tell what value it was.
He sat slumped there a moment staring at his wallet and the dollar bill in his hand. With an effort he straightened up and shrugged his shoulders as if adjusting a heavy load.
"Right I have no idea what I'm holding, I just hope it is enough for you to go to the drug store and by the best pair of sunglasses they have, and two of the cheapest."
Myra took the bill from Charles's hand and exchanged it for a higher valued one.
Rose trotted out to carry out her mission. At the mirror in the hall she stopped and saw Thorn looking back at her.
She could hear Thorns harsh voice in mind.
"Not now but soon we are going to come out to play." Thorn laughed. "There are old bodies clogging the beds needed by the young. We will just help them along the path after all they are going to die anyway."
"Can I play." The little girls voice said.
"Soon my precious. I'm saving you for the doctors and nurses who tell their lies."
Torn and the child faded away leaving the haunted eyes of Rose staring out of the mirror.
She took a deep breath to calm herself.
With a nod she hurried away on her mission.
Back in the ward Charles took his first faltering steps with the aid of a white stick.
"Why did you send Rose off to get sunglasses?" Myra asked.
"The better to see you with my dear." He joked. "I find that everything is so painfully white and bright. I'm hoping that the glasses will make it more comfortable. Tone it down a little.
We can but hope.
Now who have we on our rounds."
"On my rounds Charles." Michael said from the doorway. "And my first patient is you!"
Michael was not going to stand any nonsense.
"Back to bed you while we find a respite clinic to teach you how to cope."
"No!" Charles was adamant. "I am not an invalid. I may have lost my sight but I still have my brain."
"And there was I thinking you would be the perfect patient after all the time you had in dealing with people in the same situation." Michael wasn't angry just very sad. "You can't practice medicine if you can't see your patient. Be reason able Charles."
Rose entered but was unsure what to do.
Charles sniffed the air.
Under the powerful cologne that Michael had used was a smell he knew.
"Did you managed to get the glasses for me?" He asked.
"Yes Doctor." She crossed over to Charles and gently put them in his hand.
"Which is the most expensive one?"
"The one with…" Rose realise what she was about to say. "I'll take that one back until you have put away the others.
Eventually she passed the correct glasses back to him.
He slipped them on and instantly the pain caused by the bright light had gone. He could see more but not the fine detail.
With his cane sweeping the floor as he walked unerringly out of the small ward.
"Well come along." He called as he led them out.
It was evening and Charles was back home. Against the wishes of Michael he had signed himself out.
Myra drove him home as usual. She had the apartment opposite his.
She led him in.
"There's a step ahead of you." She said only to get a mouthful then as quickly as the grumpy mood had come it was gone and Charles was apologising.
"Sorry Myra but it's been a testing day."
"Yes I know." She said softly.
"That doesn't excuse me from being rude to you." He made his way carefully to the outlined shape of his favourite fireside chair and dropped into it with a sigh.
"Myra? I couldn't have done it today if it wasn't for you. Thank you."
"I'll make you a coffee." She said wiping away the tear that trickled down her cheek.
Charles rested his chin on his hands that clutched the top of the cane and looked out into the middle distance deep in thought.
When Myra came back in with the hot pot of coffee it was to find that Charles had poured out two brandy's. He was swirling the glasses to get the maximum aroma.
He heard her approach.
"Doctors orders." He said lifting his glass.
"Oh if it is Doctors orders I think we should obey, don't you." Myra put the tray with the coffee and cups on a low table before joining him.
She sat down in the chair opposite and took the glass of brandy off him.
She sipped it enjoying its fire.
"What are you going to do Charles?" She asked gently.
"I honestly don't know. I've always wanted to write up my research but I've never had the time." He was downcast but not beaten. "
"I can be your secretary and take in down in short hand for you." She said brightly.
"Yes, yes that could be a good idea." He said distractedly.
They fell into a companionable silence as they finished their Brandies and coffee.
"Do you need help to go to bed?" Myra asked carefully so not to upset the man she loved.
"I hadn't even thought of that." Charles said with a shake of his head. "No I think I'll be fine but could you wake us up in the morning?"
"Yes of course I will."
Myra had the spare key to his apartment as he had one for hers.
"I'll wash these up first."
Charles went with her to the kitchen and chatted with her on the minor events of the day. He made her laugh which please him but it was over too quickly.
Myra sat beside him as she applied the drops into his eyes. She then put the soft patches over his closed eyelids and taped them into place. She then swathed his head with a bandage.
"Could you turn on the radio please. I'll be able to work out the time from it."
Myra walked over to the radiogram and switched it on.
It hissed crackled and popped before settling down with a soft hiss.
The announcer said with a middle class transatlantic accent.
"…And that was 'The Night Sky' with Theo Knight. Next is the news and this is Avon La Dell reading it.
The remains of a British Lysander plane has been found burnt out in a field not far from Metropolis. The aeroplane's pilot and passenger were found in the charred wreckage but they couldn't be saved.
In further news tonight the German Nazi's have again …"
She left him sitting in the gathering gloom her heart breaking.
An hour later found Charles dozing in his chair while the radio burbled on.
There was a mighty crash as something impacted the open window making Charles jump.
His heart rate raced at the fear that someone had broken in to finish the job.
He ripped off the bandages and pads, at leased he would face the interloper with what sight he had. And then he saw it.
Lying on the floor by the windows was the stunned form of a Barred Owl.
Without thought he grabbed the box and emptied the pair of new shoe's onto the floor.
Back at the bird he gently moved it into the box and carried it over to his desk.
"Well Hooty you've got two choices live or die."
As he turned round back to his chair he suddenly stopped.
He could see everything!
He covered one eye then the other with no change.
He couldn't see any colour, everything looked green.
Ecstatic he turned on the lamp standard and became instantly, painfully, blind.
The bright light flooded his sight reducing not only his sight back to shadows but reducing him to tears.
In panic he turned it off and stood blinking his watering eyes as the after glow faded.
The room was once again bathed in a greenish glow.
The mantel clock struck twelve.
Midnite had arrive.Chapter Three Darkness Approaches.
At the Free George Mann tried to settle, to get some sleep in lumpy hospital bed.
He normally slept on his left side but was forced him to sleep on his back, due to his IV saline drip, which was a disaster. He snored so loudly he kept waking himself up.
He lay in the dark moaning to himself.
A nurse came over and tidied the bed for him.
"Can't sleep?" A warm voice asked in the gloom.
"In this place, you've got to be joking." He sighed.
The nurse laughed.
"Let's see if we can't make the IV line more comfortable for you." The voice seemed harsher.
If George hadn't been so preoccupied he might have thought their were two nurses dealing with him.
The nurse shielded her actions from him and drew out a loaded syringe. With a sickening smile she injected the lot through the IV line.
"There." She said. "There that should make you more comfortable. You will feel better soon."
"I hope so." George yawned mightily as the Morphine kicked in.
His head lolled to one side as he gasped his last.
Chuckling in a horrid childlike fashion she left the ward.
Four minutes later all hell broke loose as the night duty nurse found George.
They worked for a half an hour to revive him but it wasn't any good.
The night nurse looked over at the Sister in shock.
"I checked him half an hour before and he was fine then." She shook her head in disbelief. "He's only here because of a water infection and we'd solved that for him."
The Sister put a hand upon her shoulder.
"He was old and may have had a heart attack. The post mortem will show us more.
Continue with your duties, I'll deal with this." The Sister said gently.
Mrs Green came out of her house in the suburb's of Lincoln to spot her hansom new neighbour.
He was muscular, tall, with short white blond hair.
He gave her a bright smile.
"Good morning Agatha. And how are you today?" he asked.
"Oh I'm fine Henry. My sister Anne is supposed to be picking me up and taking me to town and she is late as usual.
Are you going to town Henry? I'm sure my sister could squeeze you in."
"No that's alright Agatha, Hilda and I don't need to be in the town till later."
Ten minutes later her sister had taken her off to the town.
"She's gone Hilda." He said as he re-entered the house.
"Good. About time." Hilda led him down into the basement where a printing machine stood silently. "We need a hundred copied ready for distribution this afternoon."
"Usual Jew baiting?"
"Yes, that and about the new American Youth Army."
They crossed to the machine. They would have preferred to have it printing electrically but they couldn't afford to take the risk of being heard.
They set it up and put the paper into the feeder.
Hilda went up stairs and began to use the latest boon for the house wife, the electric vacuum cleaner.
It made such a din that it masked perfectly the sound of the printer.
Henry took the handle of the printer and physically began printing the sheets.
Just over an hour later Henry joined Hilda. She put away the vacuum cleaner.
"They are in batches of twenty ready for distribution."
"Send the signal." She commanded.
They both went down stairs again and crossed to a desk on which was a radio transmitter and a Morse code key.
"I've a coffee morning at Ten Thirty this morning after which we can make a call on George Layton of Layton electrics. It'll be a surprise he'll never recover from." She laughed with no real sense of humour.
Henry smiled a feral smile at his sister as he operated the radio.
The coffee morning was a great success with the four women fawning over Henry's muscular form.
"Do you work Mr Lock?" Mildred asked as she took another bite of her cake.
"I used to but I haven't been able to due to the heart defect." Henry sighed. He would give Mr Universe a run for his money his muscular frame was that good. "Hopefully after the next set of tests I'll be able to look for work again."
"My dear husband is hiding his talents. He works in the evening with the scout movement and the soup kitchen." Hilda told them. "The money my father left me in his will has left us very comfortable."
"It goes to show that you can't buy good health." Mildred said.
"True, true. And the names Henry Mildred."
The woman blushed.
"Darling I'm afraid I have to go out for awhile. Will you be okay till I come back."
"Yes daring, send Jack my love."
Jack McNider was a local journalist with an unnerving ability to sniff out a story.
He had put his nose in the wrong place once to often and was going to pay the price.
He was sitting in a dingy bar nursing his whisky.
Henry and Hilda Lock intrigued him but why he didn't know?
They just seemed to good to be true.
Physically the pair of them were down right perfect. Their looks alone would turn peoples heads add to that their fierce intellect they were God dam perfect. And in Jacks book that means they have something to hide.
Jack began monitoring them a week back and hadn't found out anything suspicious. For such brain boxes they had a strange choice of friends.
Henry had been seen a couple of times with a Hubert Hoover who was well known for his left wing views while she had been seen with a Mary Longbottom who was a right winger.
Neither of their friends caused more than a ripple in the local pond but to Jack it was something else that made him uneasy.
Jack considered going up to see how his brother Charles was now he had lost his sight but thought better of it.
Charles and Jack had a rift between them you could drive a Greyhound bus through without scraping the sides.
Both had trained as doctors, but in Jacks case it was more to placate their dying father than any real desire to become a medic.
The day after their fathers funeral he packed up his general practice as well as his bags, and hit the road, before returning home as a journalist at Metropolis Daily Globe.
He downed his whisky, and made his way out to the battered old sedan that was parked crookedly in the lot.
The car was their fathers and he was loathed to part with it.
She started up at the first turn of the key.
He pulled out into the down town traffic and began his journey back home annoyed that his contact hadn't turned up.
The road dropped down toward the level crossing where the huge Amtrak engines thunder past.
He put his foot on the brake to slow him up.
In horror he didn't feel the normal resistance. He'd no brakes!
A freight train was fast approaching and it whistled its warning.
Jack slammed his foot down on the accelerator and the car leapt forward in response.
The car and the train were headed together in a race for the crossing.
They were drawing ever closer.
Rick could swear he could see the colour of the rail road engineers eyes.
The car smashed through the barriers just ahead of the train by the skin of it teeth.
The car jolted over the rail track and through the other barriers totally out of control. It swerved violently straight into the side of a waiting petrol tanker which erupted into flame.
Everyone save one ran for cover as the tanker exploded so violently it shot up into the air and did a somersault before slapping back on the road upside down.
Lying unseen by the observer in a pile of builders sand Jack saw Henry Link nod to himself in satisfaction, before getting back into his car and driving away.
Jack slipped into unconsciousness.
"Over here quickly we've got a survivor." A woman screamed.
"No one could survive that surely." A man voice said before adding amazed. "She only right. Boy go and fetch Doctor …"
Jack heard no more.
Myra turned the key in the lock and quietly opened the door to Charles's apartment.
She was dressed in her nurses whites and looked like a glamorous film star. Something the two inch suture cut on her cheek couldn't diminish.
"Charles its Myra. Are you awake?"
She crossed to the windows and lowered and adjusted the blinds to cut out the worst of the morning sun.
"Charles Its Myra. Are you awake?"
She called again.
"No!" Charles called irritably from the bedroom. "No I'm still fully asleep."
"Oh good I'll prepare the ice cold blanket bath you love so much." Myra said with a laugh in her voice.
"I'm up already. Foot on the floor." Charles replied.
"Seriously do you need a hand?"
"No I think I can manage. What time is it?"
"Seven thirty as usual."
"Are you sure you're an angel and not a devil in disguise."
"Tea and toast?" She called.
"I've revised my opinion you're definitely an angel." Charles began to laugh before retorting. "Blast where's my slipper."
Myra was crossing to the kitchen when she suddenly heard a rustling sound.
She slowly turned round terrified she was going to see her nemesis, a mouse, or even worse a rat. Instead she found herself staring into the unblinking eyes of a Barred Owl which was perched on the pen rack on Charles's table.
It turned it head ninety degrees from his body before hooting loudly.
"Charles do you know there's a Barn Owl on your desk?"
"You hum it and I'll play it on the old Joanna." Charles said in an excruciatingly bad London Cockney accent. "Anyway its not a Barn Owl it's a Barred Owl. I might not be able to see him properly but I can recognise the song."
As Charles crossed over to join her, Myra couldn't help but notice that he had his slippers on the wrong feet.
"He gate crashed or to be more correct window crash after you had gone home.
I thought somebody was trying to finish me off.
I found him on the floor and put him in the old shoe box to recover. From the sounds of it he must have got out and perched there for the rest of the night."
Charles gently rubbed his finger down her breast feathers.
The owl half closed his eyes in pleasure and playfully nibbled at Charles's fingers.
"Well Hooty you rest up here for the day and we'll release you tonight." He turned toward Myra. "Well slave where is my breakfast?"
She took his hand and lead him into the kitchen.
Once there she bustled around him as she made tea and toast.
She noticed that he had put on the expensive sunglasses.
"Do they help at all?" She asked as she buttered the toast for him.
"Yes they do a bit. The whiteness is less intense, less painful. I can still only see shapes not any detail but those shapes are sharper."
She turned to face him.
"Well that is some good news, something we can work on."
His hand came up and gently caressed her cheek. Delicate fingers ran down the stitches of her scar.
Her breath caught in her chest, was the very thing she had been waiting for all these months about to happen.
He cupped her chin gently and drew her closer.
Her lips parted a little and she turned her head slightly the pulse in her neck beating a rapid tattoo.
He kissed her gently and she melted into his arms.
"They say you don't know what you're got till its gone. They must have been talking about you." He said caressing her hair as they lay in bed together. "I've always loved you but it's taken me to lose my sight before I had the courage to do anything about it. And now its to late."
She lifted her head up abruptly.
"What do you mean its to late? Do you think I would go to bed with you if I didn't love you too?"
"I'm a blind man Myra and Jewish. I knew that marriage to you would be difficult due to you not being Jewish but it's a hundred times worse now I'm blind." He sighed. "The Jewish community would help me but not if I was married to you, and financially my old mans money wont last long."
"Well Dr McNider I suggest for now we don't tell anyone. While in the public eye we shall be the doctor and his faithful nurse. Agreed."
He laughed an easy laugh.
"Agreed. Now Sister Manson what are my appointments for today." He floundered at the end and he continued with a deep sigh. "What were my appointments for today."
"I'll have to get the clip board Doctor." She leaned out of the bed displaying a heart shaped rump which he smacked playfully.
"Even I couldn't miss that."
They laughed and kissed once again.
"I think we better get dressed. We've work to do."
Myra had only just managed to make herself look decent when there was a solid rap at the door.
Myra gave herself a last look in the mirror before opening the door.
On the threshold were two burly police officers.
"Yes Officers can I help you?" She said in a tone that demonstrated her cold efficiency.
"This is the residence of Doctor Charles McNider?" The youngest one asked.
"Yes that is right. I am his PA can I help you?"
"That's alright Myra let them in." Charles using his stick before him came out of the kitchen. "What can I do for you officers?"
The younger officer grimaced as he took in Charles's apparent helplessness.
"Doctor McNider?" The older one asked.
"Yes that's me."
"I've some bad news for you concerning your brother."
Charles snorted exasperatedly.
"What has he done now? Got stinking drunk and threatened to fight all comers? Or has he snorted a $100 worth of Cocaine up his nose."
"He's been involved in a motor car accident." The younger one told him.
"What! Oh my God he hasn't killed anyone has he?"
Alarm bells were beginning to ring in his head very loudly.
"My brother and I don't get along so he can't expect my sympathy."
"A petrol tanker driver was killed in the collision."
Charles was about to say something but a touch from Myra stopped him.
"Charles let the officers explain." She said.
"Your brother was involved in a traffic incident at the Payton track intersection.
He crashed through the gates just before the Baltimore express came through. The car hit a pile of builders sand and catapulted straight into the petrol tanker which exploded killing the driver." The oldest told them.
"Oh my God!" Charles said stunned.
"Your brother was thrown out of the car into the sand."
"Eye witnesses have said that they saw your brother trying to brake without success. He knew that at the pace he was driving he would have impacted the train making it derail with a considerable loss of life and many injured.
He stopped trying to brake and accelerated to get through the gate before the train arrived.
He succeeded with bare seconds to spare but now the car was out of control and there was no way he could save the situation."
"How bad is he?" Charles asked. "Where is he?"
"The doctors reckon he won't recover. I am so sorry." The older man seemed to be genuinely sad. "He's in the 'Free'."
"I'll drive you down there Charles." Myra didn't get a response. "Charles?!"
"Oh, yes, right." He couldn't take it in.
"Doctor McNider, Miss. We can get you there quicker."
True to their word they rush through the traffic with their blues and twos going, clearing the path easily.
Myra led Charles gently to Jack's bedside.
"Describe what you can see Myra? Please?"
Myra reluctantly obeyed.
When she had finished Charles got up from his seat and leaned over his brother. His hands deftly felt round his brothers head. He felt the lump and the crack in his skull.
He swung round and saw the outline of a nurse adjusting the saline drip.
"Nurse get me a scalpel?!" The nurse didn't move and Charles could imagine her confusion. "Myra get a doctor! Nurse the scalpel, a pair of scissors, anything with a blade. If I don't release the pressure off my brothers brain he will die. Hurry girl."
The nurse when to the nursing station and returned with a sharp paperknife.
Charles felt around the head and found the swelling again. He plunged the knife through the scalp into the bleeding area. When he took out the knife and hand it back to the nurse blood spurted like a fountain from the incision.
Myra was returning with a doctor and his team trailing behind her.
Charles explained what he had done and then let the doctors get on with their work.
They fitted a drain in the cut Charles had made.
"You understand Charles. " The Consultant told him. "What you have done has bought him just a few more hours.
His spleen and liver are ruptured and other internal organs are damaged.
I wish to God I could do more."
The big man shrugged his shoulders.
"I understand. I want to sit beside him for awhile if that is alright?"
"Stay as long as you like Charles."
Soon all there was in the room was Myra, Charles and Jack.
Jacks eye flickered open and stared with a bemused look at Charles.
He licked his lips to moisten them.
When he spoke it was like dry leaves cracking underfoot.
"So you did come?" Jack laughed which turned into a cough that covered his held handkerchief with spots of blood.
"Of course I came." Charles said softly.
"Sorry about your eyes." Jack closed his a moment. "I've really bought it this time. Brakes cut, couldn't stop, accelerated through, thrown out."
"Shush now don't worry. The police know all this."
Jack shook his head.
"Saw who done it?"
"Saw who done it. He was watching. He must have thought I was still in the car when it hit the tanker. He was satisfied."
"What was his name?" Charles lent forward.
"Two of them, the impossible couple." Jack's voice had become weak his breathing ragged. "Secret agents."
A fierce cough ripped through Jacks body.
"I love you brother." Jack said with his failing breath.
"I love you too brother." Charles replied.
If you think that life expired quickly you would be mistaken. Jack did not want to go into that final long goodnight and though he never regained consciousness he fought it all the way. But eventually he gave in and his body came to rest.
Myra led Charles's silently weeping form away.
Back at Charles's apartment Myra lead him through the door and helped him into his chair.
She poured out a brandy for him.
He took it with a grateful nod.
"Yes Charles." She sat on the arm of his chair and put a comforting arm around his shoulder.
"Will you move in with me?" He asked quietly.
"Are you sure?" She didn't have butterflies in her stomach, she had dirty great winged elephants.
"Yes, that is the only thing I am sure off after today."
"Then yes Charles, with all my heart, yes." She kissed him.
"We'll keep your apartment just in case.
Myra will you leave me for tonight? I need to be alone to remember my brother."
Myra got up from the chair arm with a puzzled look on her face.
"I love you Myra but there are something's I can't share with you, at lease not yet." He took her chin in his long fingers drawing her head down to give her a tender loving kiss.
"I understand Charles but I'm just opposite if you need me."
"Thank you Myra, but knowing you you'll spend all night sorting out what you're bringing over." He laughed.
"Can I help it if I like shoes." She laughed.
She crossed to the main door and paused to look at the man she had falling in love with. A gentle man, a good man.
A flush of excitement charged through her body as she realised that she would soon be sharing more than his bed.
Once Charles had heard the click of the door shutting he turned out the rooms light.
Again he could see everything but now it was tinged with red.
The sunglasses allowed him to see in both total darkness and in broad sunlight?!
But how was he going to keep them on?
He walked rapidly to the bedroom and pulled open his chest of draws.
He selected a thin black jumper, black pants, black socks and gloves, finished the ensemble.
He crossed to the window and opened it.
Hooty gave a sad hoot.
"Time for your freedom old fellow."
Charles gently pick the bird up and launched it out off the window.
As he climbed out onto the ledge the owl swept round and landed on this shoulder.
Charles laughed as the clock struck twelve.
"I really am a Midnight Doctor, a Doctor Midnight, no a Doctor Midnite."
A legend had been born.Chapter Four Early Evening
Charles couldn't help but laugh at the absurdity of it all. Here he was, a blind man, crouched on a ledge with a Barred Owl for company contemplating climbing down and driving out in his car into the night.
He hadn't any real idea what he was going to do only the feeling that he had to do something.
He quietly went down the fire escape.
The traffic was comparatively quiet which was a boon.
He steered the car through the labyrinth of streets toward the countryside and was soon at a diner called 'Patricks'.
The young waitress crossed over as he took his seat. Her jaws should have been strong enough to crack nuts if the exercise she was giving them while she constantly chewed gum was anything to go by.
"Yeah. What would you like?" Her voice was harsh and flat.
"Espresso and a egg sunnyside up with gammon." He said while examining the young woman's face. Though she was plain to look at, to Charles she was beautiful as his eyes failed to see fine detail. She appeared to have a clear complexion if with a red cast because of his glasses.
The wrinkles and spots and blemishes were to fine to be seen.
"Presso, Sunnyside and Gammon." She yelled across to the cook behind the counter.
She frowned obviously unnerved by Charles stare.
"You alright mister?" She asked defiantly.
"Sorry am I staring!" Charles was highly embarrassed. "I thought I recognised you from the Royal Free."
"Not me brother but my identical twin is a physiotherapist there."
Charles nodded as the penny dropped.
"Angie Longley, a staff nurse on Juliet ward dealing with stroke victims." He smiled up at the woman glad that he recall her sister.
"You work there do you?" She asked.
"Yes I'm a lowly porter. Being treated there for a cataract in my left eye though." He told her.
"That explains about the shades. Terrible about the eye doc being blinded. Do you know him?"
"Yes he was the one dealing with me. A good man." Charles didn't know why he lied but it felt right.
She nodded and crossed over for his food and coffee from the counter.
The coffee was scolding hot and the egg and ham was sweet.
He had just paid his bill when three burly figures came in, their faces semi covered with balaclavas.
"Hand over you takings and no one will get hurt." The baseball bat he thumped into his palm belied his words.
"Empty your wallet and hand over your car keys chum?" The smallest asked with a sneer.
"No." Charles said more calmly than he felt.
"What? It looks like we have a hero here boys."
"Let's teach him a lesson lads."
They all lunged forward swinging their bats.
Charles took the ash tray off the counter and with one swift movement threw it at the fluorescent strip light above their heads shattering it.
With a loud bang the lights in the diner went out.
"What the hell!" The largest yelled unable to see in the sudden darkness.
Charles wasted no time in coming to grips with them.
He crossed to the largest, the most muscular, of the three and therefore the most dangerous.
He drove a strong uppercut to the chin followed by a pounding left to the stomach.
With a oomph the target collapsed to the floor.
The smallest had drawn a knife and slash it backwards and forwards blindly in an attempt to slash Charles.
Charles ducked down and retrieved the heavyweights baseball club.
As he came up he collided with the middle one.
The thug made a mad grab for Charles that sent his glasses flying.
Still able to see in the dark he dodged under the mans groping arms and drove his baseball bat straight into the man stomach.
The target staggered for a moment before he buckled and collapsed to the floor.
Charles managed to come up right in front of the third one, the one with the knife, when the waitress turned the lights back on.
In that second Charles was blinded.
His adversary blinked to get used to the light which no doubt saved Charles's life.
"Turn off the lights!" Charles bellowed in panic.
The waitress jerked in shock and without thinking turned out the lights.
Back in total darkness Charles could see the man leaping forward his knife slashing.
Charles caught his assailants wrist and grabbed the elbow of his opposite arm. He then jumped up and with bended knees drove his feet into the mans stomach. Over balanced the robber fell forward on top of Charles. As Charles's back hit the floor he pushed upward with his legs with all the force he could muster pitching the man over his head to land face up on top of the biggest of the crooks knocking him out again.
Working swiftly he plucked the tea towels of the drying rail and bound their wrist's behind their backs.
He recovered his glasses, which thankfully were still intact, and put them on.
"You can turn the light on now." He said half laughing to himself. "Let there be light."
The lights came on.
"And there was light and God saw it was good."
The waitress looked at the trust up robbers in total incredulity.
Charles put a fifty dollar bill on the counter.
"That's for the damages." He said.
"Keep it you've earned it." The cook said. "You just saved my business and more importantly our lives. You'll always be welcome here and it's always on the house."
He could see that the cook meant it and didn't want to embarrass the man or insult him by pursuing it.
"I'm Harry and that's Gladys." The cook said with a grin.
Charles tilted his head in acknowledgement.
"Who shall I tell the cops stopped their game?" Harry said reaching for the phone.
"Tell them it was Dr Midnite, that's m-i-d-n-i-t-e, Midnite. And with that goodnight."
"Goodnight Doctor Midnite." Gladys called across as he exited.
The ward was quiet save for the gentle sound of the patience asleep.
Nurse Gladys Emmanuel sat in the pool of light of the desk lamp filling out the patience records.
She never liked the night shift as it was generally quiet and she found it hard to stay awake.
There was a soft footfall.
Gladys turned to see a nurse approaching.
"Rose?" She whispered.
"Yes. I've brought you a cup of tea to keep you going."
Rose carefully put it on the desk for her.
"Thank you very thoughtful of you."
"That's alright I know what it is like to pull a day night shift."
The day night shift was a straight fourteen hours and could break anyone.
Rose smiled and walked away leaving her colleague to drink her tea.
At the doorway she shuddered.
"No Thorn, go away!" Rose whispered fiercely. "Leave us in peace you've no right to be here. This is my body."
In the darkness she seemed to stretch becoming taller and slimmer.
Her blond bob had been replaced by the cascading auburn locks of hair.
She lifted its long fingered hands admiring their long nails.
With a chuckle Thorn crossed over to the medical trolley and filled a syringe with air.
She walked back to the nurse half dozing in her chair from the drug she had put in it. Thorn held the syringe up like a dagger.
She paused as Rose struggled to take over her body.
"No she doesn't deserve it!"
"To late!" Thorn laughed.
Down the syringe plunged in a sweeping arc that brought it up under Gladys's ribs straight into her heart. The plunger was pressed in, injecting the air straight into the organ.
Gladys died in agony from the embolism Thorn had created. Her heart crushed in a huge spasm as the air blocked the valves.
She removed the syringe and took it back to the trolley.
"Nothing to fear my dear. My fingerprints aren't the same as yours that's if they bother to look." The needle went into the sharps bin while the syringe went into the clinical waste bin with the others.
Peter Josephs woke up and rang the bell for a urine bottle.
The bell wasn't answered by the slumped figure of Gladys it was only after a panicked cascade of presses did the ward sister and the staff nurse rushed in.
"She's dead." The staff nurse said shakily. "Look at her face."
The look on Gladys's face would haunt the nights of the two nurses for many weeks to come.
George Layton of Layton electronics was a self made man with a deep disgust for those who inherited huge fortunes without a days graft.
George treated his staff well in both conditions and in pay.
George was a communist and was just waiting for the day when the working classes rise up and take over the country like they did in Russia.
He took his belief very seriously, even his house was only a little more expensive than his staff.
The intercom buzzed on his desk.
"Yes?" He asked brusquely.
"A Mr and Mrs Lock to see you." His receptionist Ruby Reed's voice came over tinny through the small speaker.
"Let them through will you Ruby and then take yourself home. I shall not be needing you for the rest of the day. Thank you Ruby."
"Yes sir. Good night sir."
"Good night Ruby."
The door opened and the hansom couple walked in.
"Hello Henry, Hilda. It's a surprise to see you here. In fact I rather you didn't come here it's to risky." He paused to take in their set smiles. "Something wrong with the press?"
It was George who had managed to procure the printing press for them.
"The press is fine George. Aren't you going to offer us a drink?" Hilda smiled at him.
"Oh yes of course. Whisky, brandy, gin or vodka?" George was a little nervous with their calm smiling faces.
"Vodka of course George."
"The problem is that the press is to small for what we need." Henry took the drink. "Nostrovia!" Hilda said with a raised glass, when she had hers.
"Nostrovia!" They replied.
The three of them downed their drinks in one.
They looked unaffected by its fire while the burning flame of the alcohol took George's voice away.
"Comrade we need a larger press and a place to work from. There must be somewhere in this large factory of yours to place it." Henry said leading him out of the office.
"Perhaps in the basement or an unoccupied unit." Hilda smiled at him but it was more the smile of a predator to its helpless prey.
They were soon in a section of the factory that was dedicated to producing machined parts.
In the corner was a huge press that punched shapes out of the sheet of metal.
Hilda stroked his face with a gloved hand.
"Can't you find somewhere for little old me." She simpered as blackness oozed from her hand and collected around his head.
He suddenly couldn't see anything, feel anything, hear anything.
Unable to breath in his panic he passed out over Henrys arm.
When he came too he found himself lying face up trust up on a metal surface.
"What are you doing?" He cried in panic. "I'll find you a better, bigger, press and somewhere to run it from. There is no need for this!"
Hilda loomed over him.
"Oh but there is poor George." Hilda said with a laugh. "You know too much."
"I'm not going to tell anyone I'm on your side comrade." George was in blind panic.
"Ah and that's another point you're not on our side. Oh by the way your poor secretary couldn't take your rejection of her so she killed you and then committed suicide. It's a shame she just doesn't know it yet.
It's apt don't you think for the sake of a press your going to die in a press."
With horror George suddenly realised where he was. He was laying in the mould of the sheet metal press.
"We've slowed it down so you can savour the full experience. Goodbye George and Hail Hitler." She gave him the Nazi straight arm salute and pressed the button.
"No please God have mercy!" George screamed incoherently as the press slowly descended to crush him under its shear power.
Hilda laughed as she walked out her heels clicking on the floor tiles like the ticking of a clock as George's screams were cut short.
The first stage of Night and Fog had been completed and the second stage was about to begin.Chapter Five Day and Night.
When Myra entered Charles's apartment it was to find Charles already up and making breakfast.
He was whistling cheerfully to himself.
The blinds were drawn making the room dark as the only light came from two low wattage bulbs in shades on the wall.
"Would you like some breakfast?" He asked after they had said their perfunctory good mornings. "Come to think of it I have no idea what you like for breakfast or any meal for that matter."
Myra declined, said she had already had breakfast, which was a pure lie. The truth was that her stomach was churning making her feel sick. She prayed that Charles hadn't changed his mind about them living together.
"That's not quite true. I know you like Italian from the amount of times we end up in one." His smile was bright. "So much to learn about each other. I just hope I don't disappoint."
"No you won't disappoint, irritate yes, but disappoint no." She tried to laugh with him.
"I see you have the famous clip board with our appointments on. So what have we got today?"
Without thinking she consulted the neatly written sheets. She did it instinctively like she did when she picked it up in her apartment.
"You've got three appointments this morning. Two for routine post operative checks and one for cataract investigation.
This afternoon you have only your ward round and a meeting with Colin Dexter."
She put the paper back and as always passed the clipboard to Charles.
He gave a loud laugh and put up his hands in submission.
"I think you better keep that as I can't read."
In horror at what she had done she took the clipboard back.
"I want you to cancel my afternoon appointments." He carried on briskly as if nothing was wrong. "I have a very important person coming to stay and she may need my help to move in."
He looked up at her face and grinned.
Myra was completely flustered then the penny dropped.
Charles laughed gently.
"Yes I mean you. Now go and turn off the lights please?"
She crossed over and flicked the switch.
As she stood there puzzled in total darkness she suddenly felt Charles kiss her.
She started but gave in when he did it again.
"When I tell you to turn on the lights again turn them on." Charles whispered into her ear as he kissed it.
She heard some movement and then as if from a distance she heard Charles call.
"Turn them on!"
She flicked the switch and found Charles sitting at the breakfast bar eating toast.
She frowned for a moment, trying to work out, what that was all about, then it came to her.
"You can see!" She said in astonishment.
"Well, yes and no." He said scratching the back of his head. "In total darkness I can see with twenty twenty vision but in daylight I can't see anything but a painful bright light. These Polarised lenses in my glasses help me see in daylight but not any fine detail. I can't read for instance.
The glasses don't interfere with my night vision they just make everything look reddish." He sighed. "I know it's a lot to take in but it means you wont be lumbered with a totally blind man."
Myra threw the clip board onto the fireside chair and crossed the distance between them at a trot. She grabbed Charles and crushed him to her chest.
She kissed him long and hard.
"I love you Charles!" She said when they came up for air. "I love you whether you can see or not."
"I love you darling Myra of the dancing smile."
A little later as they washed up together Charles became serious.
"I want to visit the synagogue I've arrangements to be made and then go to my brothers apartment." He sighed loudly. "He was murdered I'm sure of it and with your help I'm going to bring them to justice. And I'm really going to need your help."
"You have it." She said earnestly.
"Time to go Sister Mason. I think I'll let you drive."
"Yes Doctor that's probably best." Myra smiled.
As they walked into the hospital to prepare for work they were met by a group of police officers.
"Where do you think you're going?!" One of the officers said abruptly.
Charles turned round his stick swinging back and forth and smacked the policeman's shin. The officer cursed loudly.
"We will have none of that language if you please." Charles said sternly.
"Watch where your going, are you blind or something?" The officer retorted.
"Yes I'm blind but that doesn't mean I'm any less of a person than you are. Now is there anyone here who can tell me what in heavens name is going on?"
It was a familiar voice that replied.
"Hello Doctor it's Officer Bradley." He turned to the belligerent officer. "I'll deal with this."
He guided the two of them to a quieter area.
"There was a mysterious death here last night, a young nurse called." He checked his note pad. "Gladys Emanuel.
Do you know her?"
"Yes she joined the Free when I did. She is, was, a good friend as well as a good nurse." She shivered.
"I'm sorry for your loss."
"What happened?" Charles asked.
"It looks like a heart attack but there has been six deaths in six days and that is enough to start an investigation."
"Come up to my office and we will discuss it further."
The officer followed them to the elevator thinking to himself how he had let a blind man dictate the situation.
In the office Bradley sat opposite the man who saved his life destroying his own in the process and wondered how he should proceed.
"Were the deaths that of patients or staff?" Charles said as Myra took her usual place just behind his right shoulder with her pen and Pitman Shorthand pad in her hand.
"Both. We don't know the causes of death of all of them just the latest ones." He paused and looked down at his notes.
"The nurse died…"
"She has a name Bradley!" Charles said irritated.
"Oh yes of course. Sorry doctor." He took a deep breath and began again. "Last night Nurse Gladys Emmanuel died of a massive heart attack. We're waiting for the coroner to examine the body and confirm the diagnosis."
"Who's the Coroner's officer?" Charles asked gently.
"A Doctor James May. Do you know him sir?"
"Yes a good doctor and an old friend." He turned his head slightly and spoke to Myra behind him. "Do you have anything to add Sister?"
"I'm surprised that she died of a heart attack. She was a very active woman and a good athlete. She was hoping to take part in the next Olympics in the hundred metre dash. She was an excellent swimmer and racquet sports woman too.
We all know that some heart conditions can occur in the fittest of people. They can remain hidden for years.
But yes I'm surprised she died of a heart attack."
"Please continue Officer Bradley."
"The other staff member died of lockjaw but there doesn't seem to be any infected cut anywhere. He died over a week ago."
"A terrible way to die. He would have been rigid and unable to swallow and breathe properly. His limbs would have twisted especially his spine. The agony must have been unbearable "
"We have an old man George Mann who was due to be released home after minor surgery. He died in his sleep.
Two elderly woman have died after making complete recovery's."
"People do die in hospital Officer Bradley, especially old people."
"Yes I know sir but this doesn't feel right." Bradley struggled for word's to explain how he felt.
"I agree Bradley."
Charles sat quietly for a moment.
"Bradley when is the Coroner due."
"One O'clock this afternoon. Why?"
"No reason just curious that's all." He smiled at him. "If there is nothing else officer you will excuse me I have patients to see."
"Thank you for your time Doctor much appreciated." Bradley got up to go.
"Check the nurse and doctors log to make sure they were where they said they were?"
Bradley stopped at the door and looked back.
"You mean it was a member of the hospital that did the killing?" He was incredulous.
"Possibly. It would take someone with good medical knowledge to get enough Tetanus bacillus to kill someone I would have thought." Charles cocked his head to one side. "Especially as you would need to sign it out of the research lab in here."
"Oh I see. Thank you for that Doctor."
After he had left the pair of them they sat quietly for a moment.
"Do you think they were murdered?"
"Yes and I'm going to have to find out who has done it before they kill again."
The morgue was empty and cold.
Well empty of the living save of course of Charles and Myra.
On a gurney lay Gladys covered by a sheet on another lay George Mann.
"We'll start with Gladys." Charles pulled back the sheet and began trying to examine her. After just a few moments he kicked the morgue slab with frustration.
"It's hopeless I can't see any detail. I might as well as be totally blind for what good my eyes do me." He stopped and shook himself. "Sorry."
"That's alright." Myra said placatory.
"No its not. How many times have I told patient's not to give into self pity and here I am doing just that, and at the first hurdle." He took a calming breath. "Will you draw the blinds and turn off the lights please."
It was an act of pure moments to carry it out and plunge the room into darkness.
Myra stifled her own panic at being totally in the dark by trying to work out what Charles was up to from his stealthy movements.
"That's better, now to work."
Charles gave a running commentary as he examined the two bodies.
"Charles I can't write any of this down because I can't see." She reminded him.
"Damm!" There was a pregnant pause. "No matter I'll think of something."
There was another pause and Myra knew he was examining Georges body.
"Interesting." He said to himself before telling her to turn on the lights.
Once she had turned on the lights she cross to join him by Gladys's body. He had a finger on her chest just beneath her ribs.
"What do you make of this Myra." He took away his finger so she could see.
"It looks like a puncture mark made by a needle." She examined it carefully. "It looks like the kind of mark a long lumber punch needle would make. If it is then it happened just before death. There's very little bruising."
"That's how she was killed. Someone injected her with a large amount of air." He paused to let that sink in. "She was murdered and I think George was too."
Using his cane to help him he crossed to the other corpse.
"Have a look at his hand."
Myra bent forward.
"There's the usual marks from where the drip was put in." She stopped. "Strange there's a small puncture mark beside the one made by the drip."
"I think he was killed by an injection of something lethal. It could be anything but somebody sent him on his way. I just hope the coroner will spot these." He put the bodies back into their icy storage.
"I need to go to the Synagogue Myra will you take me?"
"Yes of course I will."
Charles's morning appointments had proved less stressful than he thought. The post operative ones where just a matter of chatting to the patients and giving them instructions in eye care.
The possible cataract was to simply arrange a full set of tests.
Now having no patients to deal with the time was free for other things.
Myra helped to arrange his small skull cap but stayed in the car whilst he went in.
He sat in silent prayer inside the cool structure.
"Hello Charles I'm sorry to hear about your eye sight." Rabbi Bloom said as he quietly sat down beside him.
"Yes so am I!" He said a little sharply. "Sorry Rabbi. It's taking quite a bit of getting used to."
"That alright my shoulders are broad enough to take it." The old man clasped Charles's knee in a sign of solidarity. "I know of three good Jewish girls who could do the house work and keep house for you. You know you should get married before you become a grumpy old man like yours truly. They all come from good families, good Jewish stock."
"I have already someone in mind Rabbi. A beautiful woman inside and out and most importantly we love each other." Charles look back toward the street.
"I see your secretary drove you down here. I must invite her in for tea whilst we talk." The Rabbi got up to leave but stopped and looked back at Charles. "This young woman, she isn't a Jew is she?"
"No she's Catholic. It's Myra. She's moving in with me this evening and hopefully in a few weeks we will be married in here."
"Is she willing to become a Jew, convert to our faith?" The Rabbi's face did nothing to hide the growing fury boiling up inside. His face was suffused with blood.
"I have no idea, I haven't asked her, but I somehow doubt it."
"You're a fool Charles, a absolute fool! You cannot be seriously considering marrying a non Jew. You would be cutting yourself off from your own people. I cannot marry you and I strictly forbid it." Steam was coming out of his ears. "Take her, if you must, as a mistress but not your wife, never your wife."
Charles's was strangely calm.
"I will marry her, not to defy you and my faith, but because I love her. She's that important to me. If you cannot accept that then so be it. That will be your problem not ours.
I am not ashamed of Myra and the loss of my sight has taught me to not wait until tomorrow, because tomorrow could be too late."
"Be reasonable Charles our people would shun you. Can you live with that?" the old man was trying to be conciliatory. "There's a war coming and we must stick together against the Anti-Sematism."
"Rabbi Bloom we weep in our tea when we are persecuted for our faith and yet we show our prejudice of those not of our faith. What a colossal hypocrisy!" Charles got up and tapped his way to the doorway. He stopped. "My brother has been killed. I assume the funeral can be carried out here?"
"Yes of course it can be."
With that he left.
In the car Myra soon picked up his mood.
"No how did you guess." He replied irritably. "We won't be having our wedding there."
"Oh why?" Myra asked. It was the first time they had spoken no matter plan a wedding.
"Because you're not a Jew. You could convert to my faith but why should you." He snorted.
"If you want me too and it was the only way we could get married, then I would." She told him as she drove him to his brothers apartment.
"No I'm not going to force you. What about your church, St Saviours, will the priest there conduct the service?" Charles asked half heartedly.
"I suspect we would receive the same reception as you have just had."
"Hypocrites." He snorted as they pulled up outside his brothers office block.
"Charles I am quite happy being your mistress? As far as people are concerned I've just moved in to care for you." If Myra was aiming to placate him, calm him down, she had sorely misjudged her lovers mood.
"When you have moved in it'll be as my wife and I want the whole world to know it.
We don't need those old men to give us a sheet of paper, we know it in our hearts.
When you move in this afternoon it will be as my wife, my lover, my soul mate. And why have we stopped!?"
"For one thing it's difficult to drive with you ranting in my ear and secondly we are at your brothers."
"Ah, oh." Charles rubbed the bridge of his nose to release the pressure. "Sorry Myra."
"We will talk about it later after I've moved in. But I will tell you this you'll have to get rid of the single bed and get a double. It was a nightmare trying not to fall out." She laughed and was rewarded by a laugh back.
"Come on." He said. "Let's see if my reprobate of a brother left any clues to the impossible couple."
As they approached the apartment block they noticed a hansom man leaving.
They nodded at each other as strangers do when they passed each other in a confined area.
Jack's apartment like Jack was in some disarray.
The furniture was minimal and cheap. The carpet threadbare as were the two fireside chairs.
Charles tried to cross to the bureau but caught his leg on a small footstall. He went down with a crash.
Myra swept forward and knelt down beside him.
"Anything damaged?" She asked as she ran her hands down his body looking for problems.
"Only my pride." Charles grunted as she helped him to his feet.
She sat him on the arm of a chair.
"It's the Gin that does it." Myra said with grin.
"Yes I know I should have taken more water with it." He quipped back. "Could you do me a favour?"
"Let me guess, close the blinds and turn off the light?"
"Got it in one."
It wasn't totally dark, which Myra much preferred, allowing her to watch Charles's stealthy movements as he moved around the apartment.
He crossed over to the bureau and began running his sensitive fingers over the carved surface.
"Can you smell gas Charles?" Myra asked.
"Yes I can actually." His fingers found an incongruity in the moulding. A Tudor Rose motif that was raised higher than the rest.
He pressed it and it slid into place alongside the others.
Another section of the facia popped open as a small draw pushed out.
Inside the draw was a group of tightly written sheets of paper.
Charles cursed, he couldn't read them. He shoved them into his pocket.
He ran his hand over the moulding on the other side of the unit to find an identical secret button but this time the draw contained photographs.
Again he put them into his pocket.
He coughed and spluttered due to the gas that was building up.
"I must have accidently turned on the gas tap." He said. "I'll try and find it and turn it off." Something caught the side of his eye.
It was a brief spark of light, a split second of red and yellow.
If it wasn't for being in the dark they would have missed it.
Charles pushed his brothers rubbish to one side, bent down and froze to the spot.
A spark of electricity jumped the gap between two wires threatening to set light to the gas.
Two inches from his face was a…
"Bomb! Myra get out, get out!"
"I can't see I'll turn on the light."
Outside opposite the apartment the hansom man loitered. Leaning against a lamp post reading his paper.
There was a massive roar as the gas was ignited. The windows were blown out sending debris everywhere. Flames billowing out of the smashed windows.
Members of the public stood there stunned at what they were seeing. All but one that is he just closed his newspaper and with a nod of satisfaction calmly walked away.Chapter Six Intermission.
A hospital was a place of healing of calm. Nurses and Doctors moved to and fro on their errands of mercy with a look of serene urgency.
Staff nurse Mary Goodwin was having a well earned rest. She kicked of her shoes and rest them on the seat opposite with a sigh.
"Hard morning Mary?" Rose asked as she passed over the tea.
"You could say that with the police all over the place. Have they questioned you yet? You were on last night weren't you?"
"No they haven't and yes I was on last night. I was on Roosevelt with Anne Cleeves." Rose's eyes darkened for a moment.
In Roses ear she could here Thorns whispered voice.
"Find out how much she knows."
"Geriatrics." Rose confirmed. "Have they interviewed you?"
"Yes and it wasn't nice." She shook a little as she remembered it. "I was half expecting the full lamp treatment. You know like the movies where the spy is being interrogated."
"I doubt there was much you could tell them." Rose said conversationally.
"You'll be surprised how much you remember. Silly trivial things like the fact Gladys liked her tea without sugar but had two in her coffee. Why that should come to mind I don't know but they noted it down.
I remembered from earlier in the evening that I saw a stranger looking for you're ward."
"What was he like?"
"It was a woman in her fifties."
Rose relaxed her taught muscles.
"Oh yes I remember her. A Mrs Right in my memory serves me. She had come to see her husband. He was being released into a nursing home for physiotherapy on his legs to strengthen them. Arthur was his name.
A nice old boy, cheeky too." She smiled at the thought. "They left around ten O'clock."
"Bit late for that surely?"
"There was a mix up with his medication. His Morphine was missing." Rose could hear Thorn swearing at her in her ear.
"That's it tell her everything, why don't you. Do you want to give us away?"
"Yes." Rose said out loud.
"Sorry?" Her comrade said.
"Oh sorry I was just thinking out loud. After they left I'm sure, well reasonably sure…"
"If you tell her I'll have to kill her you know that."
"That I saw a nurse I didn't recognise crossing the doorway around eleven. At least I think I did. You know what its like, as soon as you've said it you start doubting yourself."
"Yes I know. We had several agency nurses on last night it could have been one of them."
Police detective lieutenant Burnett tapped his pencil against his note book as he interviewed Rose.
"This person, this nurse. Can you remember anything about her so we can eliminate her from our inquiries."
"No it was just a brief glimpse that's if I saw anything at all. At times like these you're memory plays tricks but if there was someone there she was a red head."
"Thank you for your time Rose. You have been most helpful."
"I have?" Rose said disbelievingly.
"Yes certainly. We'll check on the six agency nurses to see if any of them are redheads." He smiled at her warmly. "So thank you very much."
His sergeant led her out thanking her on the way.
When he came back to the table his face resembled a bulldog swallowing a bee.
"Do you think she saw the killer?" He asked his superior.
"I don't know but its all we've got to go on. Check to see if any of the agency nurses are red heads will you Mike?"
"I don't see why a hospital like this has to hire private nurses anyway?" Mike said with a shake of his head.
"To cover for sickness in this case. Well what are you standing there for chop, chop."
He lent back and steeple his fingers and tried to absorb what he had heard so far.
As usual most of it was contradictory. It was his job to find the right path through all the verbal fog.
There was a knock at the door and Mike poked his head in.
"Yes. Now what."
"There's been a murder. George Layton of Layton electronics crushed to death in his own machine press. And there's been a gas explosion of a tenement possible fatalities."
"Right you and me to Layton electronics. Who have we to cover the explosion?"
"Bradley and Simms."
"Send Bradley, Sims is a little gun ho for this sort of job."
"Right will do. I'll be out the front with the car."
"Oh and Mike. Send Scene of Crime boys over to the fire will you?"
"You don't think it was an accident?"
"I don't know do I that's why I'm sending over forensics." He picked up his hat and raincoat. "Come on Mike hospitals give me the creeps."
Down in the cellar of one of the Layton electronics out buildings a printing press whirled and clicked.
Sheet after sheet of Communist propaganda was produced here and it suited their warped sense of humour to use it now for Nazi propaganda.
The two operators that usually operated the press were sent off on a holiday to avoid awkward questions. Which would have been awkward in its self if it hadn't been for the impossible couple.
Burnett walked up to the machine press with some trepidation. He had seen many deaths before but this struck home more than most.
"What is this thing?" He asked waving a finger.
"It's a machine press used for pressing metal sheets into a mould for car parts." Mike told him.
Burnett spotted the police doctor.
"High doc what have we got?"
"A straight forward case of crushing. You can see where the cords were tied to his wrists to stop him turning off the machine."
"Was he killed first?"
"No I'm afraid not. You can see rope burns on the wrist near the switches. I would say he was alive but the Coroner will no doubt tell you more."
The doctor clipped his bag shut.
"Time of death. Sometime around eight O'clock I should imagine but again the coroner will be able to be more precise."
"Thank you Doctor."
Burnett turned from the body.
"He must have had a pressing engagement." He said with gallows humour.
"Quite." Mike replied used to his bosses way of dealing with the results of violence they saw on almost a daily basis.
Thirty minutes later they found the cellar with the printing press.
Burnett shone his torch from the top stair only to find a fog of fine dust obscured the view reflecting and scattering the torchlight. The room was quite dark and it was impossible to see much.
He nodded his satisfaction.
"No nothing down there. It hasn't been disturbed in decades."
After they had left there was a quiet suction sound as Fog withdrew his miasma. Darkness dispersed her darkness.
Both were armed with ugly brutish Lugar pistols.
After a few moments they put them away.
"Will you be able to print the newspaper tonight?" Darkness asked.
"Yes. With this press I can have them all ready by midnight." He replied.
"Good." She returned her gun to her hidden holster.
Watching carefully she left the basement and then walked away as if she was part of the fixtures and fittings.
She got in her car and drove away without anyone challenging her.
It was about then that Mike found the PA sitting in a chair staring ahead, a bottle of tablets on it's side spilling its contents out.
He press his fingers in to her throat and was relieved to find a slight pulse.
The lieutenant came in at just that moment with a member of staff.
"She still alive but only just." Mike told them.
"Phone for an ambulance now!" Burnett yelled into the poor woman's face.
She jumped back from its intensity before scuttling for the telephone.
Mike was looking at the note on the table as he continued to monitor the poor girls life signs.
"A suicide note?" He offered.
Burnett picked it up.
"How is she?" He asked.
The note was a standard one that sadly Burnett had seen too often.
"She was having a ding dong with the boss but he dropped her for a new model. The usual stuff." He carefully folded it and put it into his pocket. "Where is the dammed ambulance."
Bradley arrived at the apartments to find a scene of carnage.
The fire crew were still trying to dampen down the flames. And the ambulance was only just arriving.
He showed his badge to the Fire Chief in his white helmet.
"What's happened?" He asked.
"A gas leak. We'll know more when the Gas company can turn of the gas." The Chief told him.
"Unknown at the moment but I'd say several, possibly as many as ten." He pointed at three covered shapes on the ground a little way off. "We've recovered three bodies so far. The poor beggars didn't stand a chance."
"Thank you Chief." Bradley set himself ready for a long wait.
"We've got two survivors. They jumped through the window together just in front of the blast wave. They were very lucky." He pointed to where two huddled shapes were being attended too by the ambulance crew.
Taking his leave of the Chief he crossed over to the two shapes his note book in hand.
Hearing him approach one of them turned round to reveal a woman with a halo of golden hair.
The other one turned round his head cocked to one side.
"Bradley?" He wheezed.
He knew that as an officer he had to be detached but somehow he just couldn't be.
He knelt beside them.
"Are you two alright?" As soon as he said it he realised how trite it sounded.
"Not really." Charles replied waspishly. "After all I've just jumped out of a window and dropped from an unknown height onto an unknown surface, which isn't bad going for a blind man. Talk about jumping blind. I'm surprised they weren't picking me up with a shovel."
Duncan tried to imagine how terrifying it must have been not to see and prepare to hit the ground, and found he just couldn't.
The medic placed a gas mask over the good doctors mouth while the other one was tending to Myra's cuts and her limp arm.
"Sorry doctor it was a stupid thing to say." Bradley said contritely.
Charles lifted up his mask.
"Well." He said awkwardly. "It has been a trying day. If it wasn't for Myra we would both be dead."
He took another breath of gas.
He lifted up the mask again.
"Entonox. Good stuff you should try it one day, but I don't suggest leaping out of windows. It's to painful." He joked. "It was a bomb Bradley. A sparking bomb."
He watched them being loaded onto the ambulance and being driven away wondering how a blind man could see a spark.
It was little time later at the hospital that Bradley saw the Triage team come crashing through the ER room doors with Burnett and Mick thundering after them only to be stopped by a stern looking matron.
The two officers cross over to join him.
"Bradley?" Burnett asked.
"With two of the survivor's of the fire. Doctor Charles McNider and his nurse Sister Myra Manson.
They are probably the only two that did survive.
The explosion looks like it was set off deliberately." Bradley reported. "You sir?"
"An attempted suicide at the murder scene. Possible suspect." Mick told him.
Burnett had wandered away to find someone in authority to shout at.
Behind the curtain screen Charles was listening intently.
Later Charles was sitting in a hospital porters wheelchair with Myra sitting on a chair beside him.
"Hello Charles, Myra. The pair of you know how to get into trouble don't you."
"Hello Daniel." Charles replied in a cheerful voice. "Are you going to tell me if I'm going to live or not? Or is that pleasure being given over to the doom laden voice of Merritt."
"Now Charles not every one has your impeccable bedside manner." Daniel smiled at his old boss and friend. "Well you have both had a luck escape. There are no bones broken just a few sprains and bruises.
As far as I'm concerned you both can go home. But going home to rest. Understood?!"
"That will be difficult Daniel. My wife is moving in with me this afternoon but I promise you a restful evening for good old Charles McNider."
"Good. And good luck with the move."
"Thank you." Charles twisted round in his chair and whispered. "Whatever's happened to that poor girl they brought in?"
Daniel bent down and whispered quietly.
"The suicide? They've successfully pumped out her stomach but the outlook isn't that good. To much internal damage."
"Where for God's sake have they put her? A side room I hope for her sake."
"The only place they could put her was in Babel Wards critical side room." Daniel stood up and smiled at the pair of them. "Myra make sure he gets some rest before his bride turns up and then get plenty of rest yourself."
"Don't worry I will." She gently touched Charles hand to forestall any unwise answer as Daniel walked away to deal with someone else.
Charles got to his feet and with his stick and Myra to guide him they left the ER rooms for the hospital main building.
"Why didn't you let me tell him that it was you who was moving in?" Charles was somewhat put out by what had occurred. Then a fearful thought came into his mind. "You do still want to move in?"
"Yes of course I do but I think it would look better if I move in as your carer. Let's face it Charles as your PA I do a lot of that already." She told him. "We will know that it is more than that and to be honest I couldn't careless about the rest. I don't have to have a ring on my finger, though it would be nice, or be blessed by any church minister or Rabbi to be your wife because I will know it in my heart."
"Wow were did that come from. We will be married in a church and synagogue one day when their blinkers are taken of their eyes. I promise."
"That's good enough for me." Myra suddenly realised they were at the elevator doors. "Where are we going Charles?"
"To see a poor girl who may not live to see the night." He answered cryptically.
"The suicide?" Myra asked as the elevator doors opened.
"The suicide." He confirmed.
Two floors up and down two long corridors they reached the group of intensive care beds.
"Why do you want to see her?" Myra asked as she spotted the staff nurse that was working on the rest of the ward."
"A hunch nothing more? Somehow I think she has been involved with the Perfect Couple."
Myra left him to it as she clipped along the tiles calling to the staff nurse.
"Cynthia how are you? I haven't seen you in months." She linked arms with the nurse and drew her away.
The corridor was empty.
Charles had swiftly slipped inside the room and crossed over to the bed where the girl lay. Her pulse, thready and weak, was displayed on the oscilloscope with a loud beep.
"Hello Sally." He said gently drawing up a chair. "I hope you don't mind me call you by your first name. I saw it on the end of the bed.
Me oh I'm just Doctor Mc." He stopped himself and paused a moment before continuing. "I'm just one of those Mystery Men that are popping up everywhere. I'm called Doctor Midnite but you can call me Charles or Charley. I don't mind which one.
You see I think whoever forced you to take those tablets is the same person who killed my brother.
I know I haven't any right to ask for your help, but I don't know where to start. I'm trying to get both you and Jack justice.
I believe these people are trying to hurt our country. I don't know if they are communist or fascist all I know is they will kill again if I don't stop them."
Charles lifted her hand and gently, carefully, slowly massaged the top of it with his thumb.
"I wish I could meet you in your mind like the Sandman does. Mind you I think that's a bit rude, a bit like entering your house without knocking.
I actually would like to have met you before all this. And got to know you."
Myra stood silently in the shadows listening a silent tear running down her cheek.
"When you are better my wife and I will take you out somewhere. Somewhere real nice.
A restaurant perhaps or simply a walk in the park."
Her eyes fluttered and slowly opened.
Her head turned and looked at Charles with a puzzled look.
She ran her tongue over her dry lips before whispering hoarsely.
"They were the perfect couple. Darkness and Fog. Belminster Court." Her voice faded. "My note book address."
Her eyes flickered her head turned back to face the ceiling. As she rasped hoarsely
"Revenge me Doctor Midnite. Revenge me."
"I will I promise you. But you don't stop fighting do you hear me, you keep fighting."
The machine gave a hiccup and the pulse beat stopped leaving a loud bleep. A note never ending like the flat line on the display screen.
Charles put his hand on her forehead.
"Go in peace."
He got up and tapped his way out of the room. His shoulders hunched like he was bearing a heavy wieght.
When the resuscitation crew arrived a few seconds later the corridor was empty. Charles and Myra were already around the corner.
Charles held Myra's hand tight as if frightened he would lose her.
As they exited into the foyer from the elevator Myra spotted officer Bradley bearing down on them and cursed.
They needed to be together, on their own, so she could move in but that she knew wasn't going to be for awhile. The questions had begun.Chapter Seven The Days of Wine and Roses.
Myra led the weary group into Charles room.
She helped Charles with his coat and led him to his chair.
Officer Bradley shut the door. Somehow he felt honoured to be allowed into this mans home.
"Thank you for allowing me to come and asked you some questions sir. I'll try not to bother you for too long."
"I'll make us some tea. Officer Bradley?"
"No thank you Miss. Err." Bradley stumbled a bit and covered it by looking at his notes. "Manson. In fact could you sit down please as I need you both to answer the questions."
He gallantly stood up so she could sit in the other fireside chair.
He looked round and spied a padded seat by the desk.
He was about to move it when Myra spoke.
"Could you leave the chair there Officer Bradley. Charles has a mental map of the room and if you move things he's liable to fall over them."
"Of course stupid of me." He walked back and stood looking down at the two of them.
"Doctor you said at the scene of the fire that it was a bomb that went off in the property. How did you notice this."
"You haven't asked what we were doing there surely that must be the first question?" Charles said his chin resting on his crossed hands over the walking sticks top.
"Fair enough. What were you doing at that property?"
"It was my brothers. He died in the crash at the level crossing. Myra and I were going to go through his effects.
My brother was an untidy man and I fell over his foot stool. I landed next to the source of the gas, then I heard and felt the power and heat of the spark.
I scrambled to my feet and scream out to Myra to get out.
She grabbed me and threw us out of the window. If it wasn't for her I'd be dead." He shivered. "Not that she'd take any of the praise."
"I just did what any good PA should do." Myra said as her hand went upto the slight scar on her cheek. "Besides I owe you one."
"Then that makes us quits young lady."
The questions lasted for about fifteen to twenty minutes before Bradley felt he had enough.
"This man you saw miss can you describe him to me please."
"Blond almost white hair, piercing blue eyes. A very hansom athletic man." She sighed. "I'm sorry officer I can't be more help."
"No, no that's fine. Thank you for your help the pair of you.
I'll see my own way out."
After he had gone Myra crossed over to Charles and sat on the arm of the chair.
She stoked his cheek and kissed his lips tenderly.
"Are you alright?" She asked
"Yes." He said distractedly.
"I wonder how the officer would have reacted if we had told him the truth." She laughed a tinkling laugh. "That a blind man grabbed me and threw us out of the window because he could see the sparks."
Charles got up and crossed over to his coat and pulled out the notes and photographs from its pockets and laid them on the table top.
"You'll have to tell me what the notes say and as for the photographs. Is this the hansom man you saw?"
She looked at it for a moment or so before nodding.
"Yes I think so."
"Good. And now young lady go get your shoes and stuff. Your moving in remember." He gave her a hug and a loving kiss before shovelling her out of the door.
While he waited he crossed to the window which looked over the city a city he could barely see.
He had the first inkling as to who murdered his brother but not the why yet.
The door was pushed open and in staggered Myra with five bulky cases.
"Myra!" He rebuked with a smile. "You're only over the lobby for God's sake.
I said to bring the bare essentials not the whole apartment."
"But these are the bare essentials?" A puzzled expression on her face.
Charles roared with laughter.
"Are you going to just sit there laughing or are you going to help me?"
"I can't I'm blind remember." He laughed back as he crossed the floor to help her.
It was sometime later that Charles woke up in his single bed with Myra curled up beside him.
The next priority was to get a double bed, Charles said to himself as he tried not to wake Myra up.
"Where are you going?" She lifted herself off the bed and looked down at him.
She was lit by the moonlight coming in through the window.
Her skin looked like pure white alabaster, her pert breasts not far from his lips. Her waist gently clasped in his hands.
"I've got to go out." He said pulling her gently down on top of him. "Did I ever tell you that I love you?"
"Several times now stop trying to avoid the question." She reared up above him looking like an angel.
"I'm not certain but I just know I need to go out and be doing something."
Myra's blond tresses bobbed up and down as she nodded.
"I can understand that." She said sliding of the bed onto the floor. "But I'm driving."
"I managed alright the other night?" He replied tetchily as he watched her lovely rounded bottom sway as she made for the dressing table.
"That was more by luck than judgement. How were you going to explain how a blind man came to be driving a car." She sighed. "And stop ogling my arse."
Charles made a plaintiff sound.
"Okay you can ogle it when we are not working." She sat naked before the mirror brushing her hair to a radiant shin.
"If I had known you were such a bossy boots I'd never have let you in." He teased.
"You haven't seen anything yet Charles."
Charles somehow didn't doubt that.
Soon the car fed out into the evening traffic heading for the trendier parts of town.Chapter Eight Visitors
The little girl giggled.
"Are you coming out to play." The sound of her laughter seemed eerie in the half light.
"I don't know how you managed to get in but you'll be leaving just as quick." Doctor Maitland flicked the light switch but nothing happened. "Martha what the hell is going on?"
"Martha can't tell you because I've got her tongue. Shall I show you." A flash light lit up a macabre scene.
Martha lay in a pool of blood her beautiful face cut to ribbons. He rock on his heels as he realised that she had no eyes, they had been cruelly gouged out along with her tongue.
He screamed incoherently.
Suddenly he was plunged into darkness and to his horror realised what his fate would be if he stayed.
He clawed at the door, trying franticly to open it.
Something burning hot slashed across his legs dropping him to the floor. He painfully pulled himself up the door frame and grabbed the handle once more.
The flashlight turned on to show the face of his attacker a few inches from him.
Shinning up from under her chin threw deep shadows such that it took a second to realise who it was.
"No not Rose silly." The child's voice came chillingly from her adult lips. "Your wife made the same mistake. It's me Clara.
There must be something wrong with your eyes. I'll just take them."
The woman's face changed subtlety to show a horrified Rose looking out like a prisoner in a cage.
"Oh my God what have you done?" Rose said.
"She wanted to play so I thought why not." Thorn said with a cruel smile.
"You promised me. You did you promised me." The child's voice whimpered as Roses body stamped her foot in pique.
The doctor look on in horror as the separate personalities argued with each other.
In desperation he tried for the door one last time. His hand gripped the handle but it was to late as he was grabbed and pulled into the darkness.
He screamed as the little girls knife slashed him to ribbons until a final thrust penetrated his heart.
"You've had your play now off to bed." Thorn said from the doorway.
The three personalities stood corporally in the room two of them like ghosts.
"Goodnight Rose, goodnight Thorn." Clara got up and ran up to Thorn disappearing into her body.
Rose stood shaking by the window, weeping.
"Rose stop crying. Don't waste your sympathy on the likes of these. They would have sectioned us as soon as look at us. Is that what you want?"
Rose shook her head.
"No." She said tearfully.
"I think a visit to that nice blind doctor is called for next." Thorn began laughing. "I think I'll take over your body for awhile and you can have a grandstand view.
"No, no! Please Thorn no!" Rose screamed but to no avail as their bodies merged.
Rose's face calmed down.
"That's better. You're such a snivel patch do you know that." She lifted Maitland's wife's hand and used it to dial for the police and when she was done she let it drop to the floor. "That should do it. Time we weren't here."
"You've got to stop. I beg of you please stop." Rose pleaded but to no avail. Thorn laughed cruelly.
"That woman who dared to call us mad?" Thorn began.
"Doctor Judy Patmore."
"Oh you are such a pain, don't interrupt, mummy's talking." Thorn snapped irritated. "Where was I. There you are you've made me forget what I was saying.
Not another word Rose.
Ah yes now I remember.
That woman was trained at the Royal Free and what a waste of time that was. She couldn't diagnose herself out of a paper bag.
I'll just keep punishing them till they shut the hospital down.
And we'll all have fun on the way."
She laughed an unhinged howl of laughter.
And lurched out of the house.
"Where are we going Charles?"
"Prison if the police could hear what I'm thinking." He shook himself. "Back to the real world.
I need to visit four places tonight, three as Charles McNider the other one as Dr Midnite."
"Doctor Midnight." Myra said slowly with an air of disbelief in her voice.
"No not Doctor Midnight, Dr Midnite." Charles corrected her.
"I though that was what I said. Confused, never mind , just accept it.
Were too Charles?"
"To Johnson and Johnson purveyors of fine fire arms. There are two blocks down and three blocks left."
"What on earth do you want a gun for? Even with your red glasses you'll be hard put to use it. I don't want to be negative but I have to be this time. You're blind remember."
"Watch and learn my love watch and learn."
They pulled up into the parking area in front of the shop.
"When we are in there follow my lead and if that's to difficult play dumb."
She got out of the car and went round to the passenger side ready to help Charles out but he was already on the sidewalk his white stick firmly gripped in his hand.
Myra offered an arm which he gratefully took and with his cane swinging entered the shop.
The man at the counter was tall and thin and had tried to hide his baldness by having a parting just above his ear with the rest combed over the bald dome of his head. It was not a good look.
"How can I help you good people." His face lost it's beaming smile when he realised Charles's state. "I'm afraid you must have come in the shop by accident. We sell weapons here."
"Then we are in the right place aren't we Myra." Charles looked round at Myra.
"It's where you wanted to go." She replied neutrally.
"You see it's my younger brothers birthday coming up and I'd like to purchase a air pistol for him." Charles smiled disarmingly at the man.
"Oh I see." The shop keeper winced at his clumsiness. "We have a good range of air rifles sir ranging from pump to canister."
"Hmm no pistols then?" Charles asked sadly. "My brother wants to take it up as a sport. He has visions of being in the Olympics. He will be disappointed."
"Oh now I understand sir." The man smiled a greedy smile. "We have a set of competition pistols that would quite literally hit the spot."
The next fifteen minutes were taken up with a discussion of each pistols merits.
Eventually Charles plumped for the one that nestled into to his hand so completely that it felt like an extension of his arm.
"I still don't understand why you want a gun for?" She asked puzzled when they were back in the car.
"Ah my dear wife to be all shall be explained." He smiled warmly at her. "Could you take us to Gus Meerhammers antiques and collectables please my love? I want to get there before he shuts."
It wasn't that long before they arrived at the down at heel shop in a back street.
"Shop!" Charles yelled loudly.
"Yes, yes what is it?" A curmudgeonly voice called from the back room.
A stooped figure of a man with a complexion that matched his grey pinstripe waistcoat and trousers came out. Then like the sun coming out from behind storm clouds he gave a beaming smile. "Charles my boy, how are you? Still being a saw bones? You know your trouble you ask to many questions so that you don't hear what the reply is?"
The mans Jewish accent was strong.
Charles and the man hugged each other with obvious affection.
"Johan this my wife Myra, Myra this is my old friend Johan better known as Gus." Charles said happily. "Johan was one of the best art forgers in the business before he went straight and became the fore most expert in antiques."
Johan shrugged that oh so typical Jewish shrug.
"So I made some mistakes when I was young, you should be so lucky as to do the same." He was looking at Myra and indicated with his fingers his own eyes, asking if his friend was blind. Myra nodded sadly. "And how come I'm such a good friend that you don't come to see me from one month to the next, tell me that huh?"
"Mainly it's because you're a bad tempered sod." Charles laughed.
"Yes true." Though his voice was light and humorous Johan's face and eyes mirrored his sadness. "Now that we've established that you didn't come on a courtesy call lets get down to brass tacks shall we. What do you want?"
"I can't pull the wool over your eyes old friend. Do you still have that blow pipe and darts from the Amazon?"
"I want to buy it."
"What! Do you think I'm made of money. Forty."
"You? You would fleece your own Grandmother if you could get away with it. Twenty five."
"How can you think that of me I'm as pure as the driven slush. Thirty and not a penny less."
"Done and I have been. Can I hold it before you wrap it up?" Charles asked.
"Yes of course here you are."
Charles's sensitive fingers traced out the intricate carvings along its length. It was as he remembered it. A work of Art.
"So we've bought a gun and a blow pipe belonging to a obscure Amazon tribe." Myra said as they pulled away from the curb. "But why?"
"Take us to Simons gym please. It's down on fifth I believe." He settled back in his seat. "What have the air pistol and the blow pipe got in common?"
"That you paid over the odds on both of them. But somehow I don't think that's the answer you're expecting.
You'll have to tell me darling as I haven't a clue."
Charles smiled gently.
"Both of them work by compressed air. Both can fire darts that can have a small syringe attached to it such that it will inject a solution on impact. The solution could be of Thiopentone Sodium to knock them out in three seconds flat or a mild sedative to calm them down.
If I'm going up against the baddies I'm going to need more than my fists."
"Do you have to? Go up against the baddies that is?"
"Oh yes I think so, don't you?"
Funnily enough she did think so.
"I'll act as your driver and I don't want any arguments." She said.
Charles didn't offer any.
Soon they were at the gym.
The gym was a hive of activity as its clients used the equipment provided to increase their strength and dexterity.
As Charles tapped his way in one by one the clients fell silent.
Simon in his tracksuit a towel around his neck like a scarf trotted up to him.
"Hi ya Doctor come to take up your free pass." He said with a beaming smile only for it to fade as he realised what had happened to Charles.
He had read about it in the papers but thought when Charles had come in that the papers had exaggerated, again.
"Hello Simon. From the smell of liniment and sweat you have made a go of it." Charles held out his hand and had it shaken gently by his ex-patient.
"Yeah I'm doing alright Doctor and I've got a couple of boys that could go the distance." He turned to that boxers that were watching with a mixture of sympathy and curiosity. "Back to work all of you. You've thirty minutes left before I shut up for the night."
Soon the air was filled with the sound of punch balls being hit, weights being lifted and rapid skipping.
"What can do for you Doctor?" He asked once they were inside his cramped office.
"I want you to help me to create a exercise routine that will help me keep fit and which I can do at home?" Charles gave him one of his brightest smiles. "Not much for a blind Jewish man to ask already."
Simon looked Charles up and down.
"You've got a reasonable athletic frame already so it shouldn't be hard to set up a training system to keep that for you." He led them back out into the gym proper. "Louis get the good doctor a pair of boxing gloves, George leave the punch bag to us for a minute."
Once Charles had the gloves on he was led to the punch bag.
"Right doctor feel for the bag. That's it."
With his glasses on he could see it but made a play of finding it.
"You can't do distance blows so crowd in and do flurries of short blows to its guts."
Charles did as he was asked and was soon pummelling the bag with sharp accurate blows.
Simon stopped him.
"A three piece suit isn't the best look to train in. Basically you can do practically every exercise we do here bar sparing and the fast ball." Simon said satisfied with Charles's willingness. "I can put in a treadmill for you to run on and exercises such as sit ups. And I want you here once a week to monitor your progress.
"Deal!" Charles replied as the others in the gym gave him a standing ovation.
Embarrassed he bowed and thanked them with a wave of his hand.
"I'll cost the equipment and my time for you. I'm sorry I can't do it for you for free." It was Simon's turn to be embarrassed.
"Don't be stupid Simon you're running a business not a charity." He shook his ex-patients hand.
"Good luck doctor."
"Thank you." Charles took Myra's hand and with his white stick swinging left the gym.
Simon turn to his clients and staff.
"Some of you think you've got it bad. That man was a leading eye specialist before he lost his sight. He could have curled up in a ball and felt sorry for himself and no one would have blamed him.
But he hasn't. He's trying to carry on with his life. Now that's what I call courage so I don't want to hear you whinging you've got it tough and he's going to be here every week to remind you."
The man had saved his sight the least he could do was keep the mans dignity.
"I take it those three visits were for you so what is the one for Dr Midnite?" Myra asked.
"My brother didn't give us an actual address of the perfect couple just a general area. I want you to drive round the area on the look out for somewhere we can be on the look out for them."
Myra drove out into suburbia, driving down roads of large houses with their perfect lawns.
"It can be any of these." Myra said as she took another street. "They all look the same."
As they drove passed a certain house the occupants were busy in the cellar.
"We have work to do." Henry told his sister as he put down the ear phones of the radio set. "Our masters want us to remove a leader of the Jewish community, a Rabbi Bloom.
He has been lobbying congress to bring as many Jews as possible out of Germany. He wants closer ties with the UK and their efforts."
"Why is he being targeted if he is doing what we want him to do, bringing the Jews out of Germany?" Hilda was scathing about the choice.
"He is being targeted because he may convince the Congress to join England against the Hitler." Henry was silent a moment. "We use the press to expose what he is doing and to arrange protests.
Expose him as a communist and then execute him."
Hilda agreed to the plan and sorted through the information on known Nazi cells.
She grunted in satisfaction as she found the perfect group. They called themselves the Aryan Peoples Movement and had been linked to the Klu Kluk Klan style murders of negro's.
They were perfect fodder for this sort of work, add a group of violent thugs and a group of so called Intelligencer and the riots were inevitable.
When they were at their height Night and Fog would pay a visit.
Tired and foot sore Charles and Myra returned to their apartment.
As Charles bent to unlock the door Myra stopped him and pointed at the marks around the lock.
Charles didn't say anything but gave Myra a quizzical look.
She took the middle finger of his right hand and traced the score marks on the door.
Releasing his hand he felt all-round the lock and handle his sensitive fingers tracing the claw marks.
Someone had broken into the apartment and was waiting in the shadows.
Someone with blood on their hands.Chapter Nine Rose and Thorn
Charles softly opened the door making sure his body hid Myra behind him. With a great play of taping the ground he shuffled in distracting the intruder enough to let Myra slip into the shadows beside the doorway.
Charles turned and shut the door dropping the room into inky blackness.
He saw Myra groping for the light switch and gently took her hand to stop her. He lovingly touched a finger to her lips to warn her not to make a sound.
He turned round and faced the room.
He could see plainly the figure standing in the middle of the room though beside it was two shadowy forms, one of a child the other was a slim tall figure.
Charles stared at them but they didn't resolve into anything more than misty shapes.
"Hello." He called. "Is there somebody there?"
He gripped his cane strongly ready to use it as a weapon.
"Ah and I so wanted to surprise you." Like others before him he was shocked at the sound of the little's girls voice coming from the adults lips. "See I have brought you some eyes to replace your useless ones."
A torch flickered on to reveal a hand holding a pair of eyes dangling from their nerve cords.
It was a gruesome sight especially as the hand was making them swing back and forth like a child's toy.
"Who's there?" He called.
"Rose, Thorn and Clara." Thorn called. "We've come to make you better?"
"I've warmed the spoons so they don't feel cold when I take out your eyes." The girls voice was giggling as she said it.
"Rose?" He asked wondering as the small blurred area began circling left.
"No Clara silly." The voice came this time from the misty patch that was quickly coalescing into the body of a eight year old child.
"I wanted to kill you." The other patch called Thorn said coldly. "But Clara wanted to play and I felt it would be wrong to stop her. Don't you?"
"Rose, Rose talk to me!"
"I'm sorry, so sorry." Rose wept.
"Stop snivelling Rose." Thorn barked.
"Rose they are part of you, yes?"
"Take them back into your body! You can do it Rose."
The two other personalities laughed manically.
"Come on Rose you can do it. It's your body, your mind. Call them back!" Charles saw Rose lift her head up. "I believe in you, now believe in yourself."
"Clara come back, come back to me." Rose called
"No, no! It's not fair I just wanted to play." The child said through Rose's lips.
"Come back, time for bed."
"I'll help you. Myra turn on the light please."
The low powered light came on but it wasn't Myra who turned it on it was Officer Bradley.
He had heard the conversation from outside the room and had just that moment slipped in.
The light revealed the ghostly form of the child as it petulantly rejoined Roses body.
Thorn screamed and fired a thorn like fingernail straight at Charles. His walking stick shot upward to knock it aside at the last moment.
"Light off." He yelled.
Officer Bradley obeyed instinctively.
As soon as the darkness fell Charles was in motion closing the distance between himself and Thorn.
Thorn began to spin, her vicious thorn like nails out ready to gouge anyone who got too close.
Charles swung the cane at Thorns legs but she pre-empted it by leaping over the top athletically.
She slashed out with her left hand catching his coat shredding it.
"Now that was naughty Doctor you're supposed to be blind." Thorn quipped.
"I am but that wont stop me stopping you." He swung the cane back handed at her catching her shoulder a painful whack.
Thorn screamed in pain and anger. She jumped toward Charles thorns flashing only to be coned by a torch beam.
A gun barked and Thorn crumpled to the floor.
The light came on to show Rose with Bradleys gun smoking in her hands.
Thorn laughed a hollow manic laugh.
"You can't kill me." She said standing up and spread her arms wide to show that she wasn't hurt. "I'm you remember."
"Rose she is nothing more than a projection of yourself. Call her back you can do it, I know you can. Be brave girl, be brave."
"Come home Thorn, come home."
"What to your snivelling, I'd rather be dead." Thorn fired a thorn at Charles but once again he knocked it to one side.
"Come home Thorn or else." Rose said angrily.
Rose turned the gun round and placed it against her temple with a tight smile.
"You wouldn't dare!" Thorn said in rage.
"Try me." She began to pull back the trigger.
With a scream of rage Thorn rushed over and merged with Rose.
Rose looked across at Charles.
"Rose no! We can help you." Charles screamed at her but it was too late she had pulled the trigger.
It clacked on to a empty chamber.
She stood there in silence as Bradley took it from her hand.
"There's no shells in it." Bradley opened his hand to show the magazine. "I don't have it loaded unless I have to."
He handcuffed Rose and read her her rights.
"I don't know what happened here tonight but I know she is guilty of murder." He said.
"She has multiple personality disorder. Rose is a good girl. It was the others that did the murders. Treat her gently." Charles implored.
"I'll do the best I can." He led her away.
Charles and Myra embraced. Both shaking from shock.
They didn't speak they didn't need too.
Later as they laid together did they speak.
"What will come of Rose?" Myra asked.
"I suspect she will be found guilty but with diminished responsibility and be sent to Arkham." He sighed. "Poor soul."
"What were those others we saw were they real?"
"I don't know for sure. They could just be mental projections she created."
They lay quiet for awhile.
"We have only to find the Perfect Couple now." Charles said as they got dressed.
"Do you know where to start?"
"No not really." He replied honestly. "We've got the photographs and the general area but that's all."
Charles wandered into the front room the image of Rose at the door with the officers gun pressed against her head was burned into his memory.
"We need to go to the Synagogue to arrange Jacks funeral. Will you drive us?"
Myra agreed but told him that she would drop him there as she had some shopping to do.
What she didn't know was that he was going from the frying pan into the fire.
Fate is like that sometimes.Chapter Ten Night and Fog.
Charles had been dropped of at the Synagogue and with some trepidation entered the building.
He entered the main part of the temple and sat in a pew to have a few moments of peace and prayer before seeing the Rabbi.
He was aware dimly of two other people in the temple but he gave them only a passing glance as he waited for the Rabbi to be free to see him.
It was another ten minutes before he was joined quietly by the Rabbi.
"I have been thinking over what you have said and I want to apologise. I had no right to tell you what to do." The Rabbi said apologetically.
"Accepted." Charles said coolly.
"I can't marry you but I can conduct a blessing." Rabbi Bloom said offering an olive branch.
"I understand." Charles paused a moment. "That will be fine."
A blessing was at least a step in the right direction.
"You want to arrange Jacks funeral?" The Rabbi asked.
The next fifteen minutes or so was taken up by the plans for Jack's interment. The Rabbi suggested a good Jewish Funeral Director which Charles couldn't be bothered to argue over.
It was to take place the following week which suited Charles.
The Rabbi left Charles to his thoughts and crossed over to the couple and invited them into his office.
"Now what can I do for you?" He said with a smile.
The woman looked at him with a strange smile in response.
"We want you to stop attacking Hitler in the papers and on your radio show." She said as she stood over him.
The man got up and stood behind him. He grabbed Bloom's shoulders and held him in his seat.
"No." Bloom was strangely calm.
"I thought not." The woman's shape was warping into an inky black shape that flowed across the floor toward him like spilled black ink.
"This is just a taste of what we can do." The man said.
As the Rabbi lost all sense of sight, touch and smell, he let out a piercing scream that echoed around the temple.
Charles was up on his feet and was making for the office before he registered what he was doing.
The door to the office was ajar allowing Charles to take a peek inside.
The Rabbi was curled up on his chair sweating buckets and rocking backward and forward making heart-rending sounds.
"I can't see, let me see, feel, I beg of you please." He pleaded.
The woman was holding a small tube affair that gave of some form of vibration.
Charles could feel it as an itch in his skull. He suddenly realised that he couldn't feel the door handle he was holding and his ears had become muffled.
He realised that the device was somehow affecting his senses. He was lucky that his eyes were not affected.
"You are going to do as we say. Do I make myself clear?" Night said harshly.
"Yes, yes." The Rabbi panted.
"You will go on the radio tonight and refute your earlier claims about Jewish mistreatment in Germany." She told him.
"I can't do that, it isn't true." The Rabbi gathered himself and sitting up straight carried on in a stronger voice. "You have taken away my senses somehow, but then I remember my brave friend who is blind but lives his life without moaning about his loss, and I realised there is nothing you can do to stop me telling the truth.
No I will not give in to you! I will not do as you ask! The world needs to hear the truth!"
The man slipped an arm around his throat and began to squeeze the life out of the old man.
"No I didn't think you would. Kill him!" She said with a wicked smile.
The door crashed open as Charles flew in, his walking stick clutched in his hand aggressively.
He swung and crashed it against Fog's temple stunning him but Charles didn't stop moving as he charged down Night knocking her off her feet.
"Rabbi get out. Get out of here." He yelled.
"I can't. I can't see or feel."
As he made his way over to the Rabbi Fog reared up and swung his balled fist with all his might at Charles's head.
Charles ducked under it and like a line backer tackled the man. Well to be more truthful tried to tackle the man but bounced of.
"He can see us how is that possible?!" Night yelled as Fog shrugged of Charles's assault.
Like a kendo stick fighter Charles raised his cane and delivered a flurry of blows that should have knocked out the man. The blows hurt him but didn't incapacitated him as Charles had hoped.
Darkness was creeping up behind him ready to help her brother but at the last moment Charles spun round and lash out with the cane. It cracked against her wrist sending the rod flying.
Instantly the darkness was dispelled.
"Rabbi get out!" Charles called once again.
Rabbi Bloom was off his chair and dashed from his office, he didn't need to be told twice.
But Charles's wasn't so lucky. Having disarmed Night he was at the mercy of Fog, and Fog had no mercy.
"We must leave now!" Night commanded as her brother dropped the battered Charles to the floor.
Charles laid their wondering how come his body could feel so much pain.
In the distance he could hear sirens and wondered in a dazed fashion who they were for before passing out.
When he came round it was to find the Rabbi at his side.
"Are you alright?" He was asked.
"You mean apart from feeling like I've gone ten rounds with Ted Grant our heavy weight champion, then yes I'm fine." He tried to get up but was restrained from doing anything so stupid by the Rabbi's comment.
"Don't get up. There's no idea what damaged they have done to you."
"Charming. It must be your perfect bedside manner that makes you so miserable."
The two men looked at each other for a moment before both bursting out in laughter. More to release tension rather any humour in the situation.
Charles was sitting in the ER room being checked over when Myra and Officer Bradley found him.
"Are you alright darling?" Myra said making no attempt to hide her concern.
"Yes just wounded pride and sore ribs." Charles said with a wince as he opened his dressing gown to display his bruised ribs. "They look worse that they really are apparently."
"I don't know how you stopped them?" Bradley asked his brow wrinkled in thought.
"Like my apartment I know where everything is in the Rabbi's office. The rest was simply I could hear them. I could hear them breathing." Charles told him making Myra raise a querying eyebrow.
"I've been given the all clear to go home. I'll explain everything to you Bradley once there and I've got a drink in my hand. Acceptable?"
"Acceptable." Bradley agreed. "My car's in the car park we'll use that."
"You didn't use our car Myra?"
"No, Officer Bradley picked me up as soon as he heard over the police radio." She explained.
"Take me home Officer Bradley and I'll explain. But put a guard on the Rabbi they may try again."
"Already dealt with doctor."
It was sometime later they were sitting in the dim light from the fire in the grate nursing brandies.
"So let me get this right." Bradley said his brow furrowed. "Your brother was investigating a 'Perfect Couple' for his newspaper and found himself embroiled in a Communist plot."
"Either that or a Nazi one." Charles corrected gently. "They blew up his apartment to destroy any evidence.
They also killed the industrialist in his press but why I don't know.
Jack was obviously on to something that's why they killed him."
Bradley nodded and then realised the futility of doing so.
"And come to think of it, it must be a Nazi plot as they were trying to get Rabbi Bloom to recant his views on the percussion of the Jews in Germany."
"You can see can't you doctor?" Bradley dropped his bombshell.
Myra tensed up ready to defend her lover but it wasn't necessary as Charles answered candidly.
"Yes and no."
"Sorry?" Bradley said puzzled.
Charles lifted off his red tinted glasses and grimaced as the blind white light seared his retina.
"Without my glasses all I can see is a blinding white light." His eyes were a startling green colour but the pupil was white not black. He slipped the glasses back on. "With these on I can see but not any fine detail. It's why the lighting in here is low it helps me to see more detail.
Turn the light off please my love."
Myra smiled knowing what was going to happen next.
The room was plunged into darkness save for the fires glow.
Bradley stood still and listened to the stealthy movement of Charles trying to gauge what he was doing.
"Light on please Myra?" Charles asked politely.
With the light on under its low power it was hard to see the figure standing in the shadows until he stepped forward in the fire light.
Charles stood there dressed all in black with a hood that hid all save his red glasses lens.
"I am called Dr Midnite." Charles said his voice deep and eerie in the subdued light.
"I bet you are." Bradley said shaking his head in disbelief.
"In total darkness I can see better than I could in daylight before the attack." Charles explained.
"Well Officer Bradley what are you going to do? Arrest him or help him? Help him find who killed his brother and almost killed the rabbi?" Myra asked.
"I'll do what I can doctor." Bradley was blown away by what he had seen.
"The names Charles and my fiancées is Myra."
"Mine is Bert short for, now don't laugh, Bertram." Somehow Bradley, 'Bert', felt at ease with these two.
His hosts grinned but didn't laugh.
Charles lifted he right arm up to chest high then bent it in at the elbow. There was a almost silent flapping of wings before the owl came to rest on Charles's right wrist.
"And we can't leave out Hooty." Charles said with a laugh running an extended finger down the owls beak.
Bert looked down at his watch.
"I've got to go I have your statements to write up." He got up to go.
"Let's listen what the Rabbi Bloom is going to say tonight on his radio programme." Charles flicked a switch and the radiogram hissed into life.
"Tonight's thought for the day was to have been with Rabbi Israel Bloom but we are very sad to say that he died in a car accident on his way to the studio tonight. As a mark of respect we will be playing a recording we took of his thoughts two weeks ago." The announcer told them over the crackling airwaves. "Our sympathies go out to his family and the wider Jewish community."
Bert turned from the door his face hard and tense.
"I'll find out what happened and contact you tomorrow."
"Thank you Bert." Charles stood shocked by what they heard. "He was a good man."
Myra crossed over to consol the man she loved but was stopped by the tone of Bert's voice.
"Charles, Myra! You better have a look at this."
The light in the communal hallway showed clearly what had been painted on Charles's door. In blood red paint was the Star of David with a white Swastika painted over the top.
Underneath was painted the legend.
'Your next Jewish Scum.'
On the door of Myra's apartment was painted. 'Jew lover! Whore!'
Sadly Charles nodded to himself.
"So it's started." He said his deep voice echoing his shock.
"I'll arrange protection." Bert said angrily.
"No don't that will only make things worse." Charles said as Myra picked up a leaflet from the floor. "I need room to manoeuvre."
He turned to Myra and asked what the leaflet said.
"Nothing worth repeating." She said guardedly. "A general tirade against the blacks and the Jews."
"And?" Charles asked.
"And one against Jews in hospitals getting preference over non Jews by Jewish staff. There's a small section on you reaping what you had sown."
"Bradley try and find out if anyone else has been targeted?"
"Will do. Let you know in the morning. Ten O'clock be okay."
"Make it nine as we may have a lot to do tomorrow."
Bert nodded and left the two of them cuddled up together in the fire light, swearing to himself that he would do anything he could to protect them.
But how could he protect them?
The nightmare had begun.
Two O'clock in the morning Myra woke to find herself alone. Fearing that he has gone out she wandered into the front room to find him working on the air pistol in what was to her very dim light.
"Charles?" She asked.
He looked up and lifted the pistol up.
"I can't beat them physically they are to strong so I need an advantage." He turned and fired at what Myra realised was the cork mat they stand their tea pot on.
A slim dart hit with a satisfying thunk into the cork.
"I've created darts containing things to level the playing field. Drugs to knock them out others to paralyse." He showed her the dart that he had recovered from the cork. "It's working out how to get the plunger to deliver the drug on impact."
"And have you solved it?"
"I think so."
"Good, now bed. You're going to be no good to anyone." She said sternly.
Reluctantly they went back to bed knowing that sleep was far from their thoughts.
The next morning they were wearily having breakfast when Bradley joined them at nine O'clock looking just as tired as they felt.
"Long night Bert?" Myra asked.
"Yes. You weren't the only ones that were visited. Five Synagogues and a Gospel Church that is used by the coloured community were daubed and fire bombed." He told them. "The damage was limited. But we have very frightened people to deal with.
Four notable Jews were also targeted. One of them was taken to hospital with wounds from flying glass as their window was put in."
"All leave has been cancelled. The powers that be want this stamped on quickly but we haven't much to go on."
"A few agitators but nothing concrete."
"Anything on the Perfect Couple?" Myra asked.
"Only the general area from Charles's brothers description." Bert told them.
"Well I think we need to cruise the area." Charles suggested. "Not the most effective method I know but I've nothing more to suggest."
Something caught Myra's eye in the local paper.
"We might not have to." She said with a shadow of a smile. "There is a bring and buy at the local school. If they are the perfect couple they would have to be there."
"It's worth a look for want for anything better to do." Bert agreed.
"We'll use my car." Charles said. "Myra can drive if you don't mind."
"No problem." Bert agreed.
"When does it start Myra?"
"Let's go and do a little visiting."Chapter Eleven Visiting.
The area was full of detached properties with perfect gardens and neat porches.
Myra drove down the wide avenues searching for any evidence of their quarry.
The school appeared ahead its field covered with stalls selling bric a brac , garden plants and books on all sorts of subjects.
They pulled up in the car park and leaving his cane in the car wandered over to the first set of stalls.
"I've just realised a problem." Myra said. "They will recognise you."
"Yes I know but I'm looking out for them they are not looking out for me." He sighed. "At least that's what I'm hoping."
He stopped by the coconut shy and paid for the three of them to have a go.
Myra surprised the two men by hitting one of the coconut's but not quite hard enough to dislodge it. Bert missed with each of the three balls but Charles didn't. He dislodged the one Myra had hit and watched with pleasure as it dropped onto the straw beneath its pole. Both his next two balls struck the next in line with out dislodging it.
He passed his prize, a cuddly rabbit soft toy to Myra as they carried on around the stalls.
Charles stopped at a plant stall and bought a couple of house plants, Geraniums, for the apartment.
It was a little later as they sat drinking tea in the drinks tent that Charles spotted them. They were running a book stall across from the refreshment tent.
"Myra do you recognise the man running the book stall?" Charles asked.
"Yes. He was the one at your brothers apartment on the day it blew up." She confirmed whilst Bert calmly inspected his camera before lifting it up to take photographs of the two at the stall.
"Double lens reflex. A Lica." He said with a smile. "Save up my wages to get it."
"What are you going to do Charles?" Myra asked.
"Try and find out where they live." Charles replied.
"You can't take them on alone." Bert said concerned at what Charles was planning. "You're blind remember. Let me get a team of our lads together to take them on."
Charles shook his head.
"They would use their sensory deprivation weaponry which could make the officers panic and start shooting wildly. They could injure themselves."
"You can't do it alone." Bert insisted.
"I have no choice I'm the only one who can see them in the blackout." Charles stood up and began to sway.
He looked at the tea cup in horror.
"Drugged." He saw in his increasingly blurred vision the Perfect Couple staring at him with smiles on their lips.
The man nodded at him.
Charles collapsed to the floor dimly aware of Myra kneeling beside him calling his name.
How long he had remained unconscious he couldn't tell but his mouth was dry and he had a pain in the centre of his forehead that was rapidly diminishing.
Myra was cradling his head while a bruised and battered Bert sat wearily in the corner.
"What happened?" Charles croaked.
"A perfect pick up. They rushed over to 'Help' and before I could protest they bundled me away to get medical assistance." Bert told him as he dabbed his cut lip. "Two heavies decided to rearrange my face before I was bundled into the back of an ambulance with you and Myra.
It was very neatly done."
"Thank you." Hilda's voice came from a speaker high up on the wall. "We spotted you straight away of course. We are not likely to forget the blind man who disrupted us. It was to no avail as you might have heard. He died sadly in a car crash."
Her voice was gloating and put Charles's back up.
"Oh save us from your over blown pride. I will stop you, you know that of course." Charles said getting to his feet.
"What a blind man, a nosy police officer and a love struck nurse, I somehow don't think so."
"Why don't you come down to try your luck." Charles smiled. "You might get a surprise."
"I think not."
Lights came on to show a labyrinth filling a warehouse with them at the start.
"We would like to give you a sporting chance. If you can get out of the maze we let you go free." She told them.
"I doubt that." Bert replied.
"Oh the policeman has plucked up the courage to speak has he." Hilda laughed a cruel laugh. "Be careful as you go through the maze."
"Because it has razor blades down the sides and ever shrinking passages to get through. If we don't go slowly we will be cut to ribbons." Charles said. "I don't need to see to realise that. And what incentive are you going to use to make us go through the maze. I assume there is one above our freedom that is."
"Oh yes of course there is. We were saving this for the President of America and the British Prime minister." Hilda sighed. "Call this a test run. Ah my brother has brought the dogs. The poor things haven't been feed for days they must be starving."
The horror of what was planned struck them.
Bert bent and retrieved his pistol from his shoulder holster.
"Oh yes officer we let you keep your pop gun but it's loaded with blanks and live rounds just to make it more fun."
Bert turned to his companions.
"You two go on and I'll try and stop the dogs."
"What a brave and futile gesture." All the lights went out plunging them into total darkness.
Charles pulled the blow pipe from his inside pocket and loaded a Thiopentone syringe dart from his belt.
"Trust me." He breathed to the other two.
Charles could see clearly in the reddish glow from his glasses.
Myra's cuddly toy was sitting on the floor beside were she stood. He picked it up and used it to break the first lot of razor blades. He could feel them slashing at the toy.
He smiled grimly as he made Myra jump by taking her hand and putting it on his shoulder. With help Burt finally put a hand on Myra's shoulders.
"I will lead you through into the next section. Trust me and you will be fine." Charles said as he slowly lead them forward.
"What's this the blind leading the blind. Oh can you hear the dogs they've got your scent. It won't be long before they find you, I should hurry if I was you."
"Oh you do like the sound of your own voice don't you. We are doing fine just as we are thank you." He lead them in silence a few moments as he concentrated in using the toy to break and dislodge the blades. "It's narrow here turn sideward's to your left and shuffle to your right."
"If we can't get through then surely the dogs can't." Myra said as a jagged piece of metal caught on her dress a moment before finding themselves in a wider area with three exits opposite. There was a grinding noise and the narrow passage they had just gone through opened up.
"No they have thought of that. The tunnel we have just gone through has opened up behind us." Charles replied as he heard the dog yowling barks. "It's no good we have to deal with the dogs first."
Charles placed himself in front of Myra and turned Bert round to face the approaching danger.
"Bert trust me. I'll be your eyes. When I tell you to fire, fire."
"Get in front of me Charles?"
Charles did so.
Bert slipped his arms under Charles's arm pits and around in front where he gripped the pistol in both hands.
Charles lifted the blow pipe to his lips as the first dog emerged from the shadows.
"Fire!" Charles yelled guiding the police officer to the right direction.
The gun roared in the enclosed space, once, twice. The dogs impetus took it forward a couple of steps before it realised it was dead and dropped to the ground.
Charles swung the man round, franticly trying to get Bert a killing shot.
"Fire!" He yelled.
Once again the pistol roared but this time the first was a blank and the second only winged the creature.
It made a leap at those that had hurt it.
This time the first was a live round and the second a blank, but that live round was all that was needed. The bullet hit it with such forced that it threw it backward to lie against the wall where it lay whimpering.
The last dog was more circumspect as it walked slowly in snarling.
"It's directly in front of you now!"
The hammer clicked once, twice on an empty chamber.
"No go Doctor." Bradley told him a hint of panic in his voice.
"Okay now let me go. It's up to me to deal with this one." Charles had already slipped a syringe dart into his blow pipe, he took aim, and blew as hard as he could.
He watched with satisfaction as the dart thudded into the beast's neck.
It yelped from surprise more than pain.
As it reverted to snarling it became unsteady on its feet.
With a look of forlorn disgust it collapsed to the floor to lie there panting heavily.
"I've dealt with the dog, well at least for now." Charles stopped as the feral yell of a angry human reached his ears. "It seems our hosts are going to pay us a visit, well at least one of them. I wonder what I have done to upset him so."
"Yes I was wondering that too." Bradley said dryly.
"Ah it seems we are going to be allowed to have some light." The light was dim but it still allowed the other two some comfort.
"Remember Doctor this time you're not alone." Bradley took up a defensive stance.
"Why hasn't he used his miasma. Off course it must affect his sight to some degree and he doesn't want to be cut to ribbons on the blades." Charles turned to the other two. "When he gets here he is going to use his fog attack, we must stop him."
"How?" Myra asked.
"Unlike Nights black out attack, which is by a device, Fog needs to concentrate to exude the effect. We need to stop him from concentrating." Charles's mind was going six to the dozen. "Quickly collect as may broken blades as you can and when he comes through throw them at him till I can get in close quarters with him.
Suddenly Fog was at the entrance of the section the smoky miasma boiling out of his body like he was steaming.
Myra threw the broken blade she had in her hand. The incredibly sharp piece glinted in the poor light and gashed Fog's cheek.
The big man stepped back in pain and rage as Bradleys piece just missed his face.
"It's not much fun is it when you haven't got the advantage." Charles mocked. "Come on you coward or are you to frightened to face a blind man without your fog."
The big man roared a scream of defiance and charged straight at Charles.
Charles made no effort to avoid the onslaught, his back to the next section of bladed corridors.
"Charles!" Myra screamed throwing another broken piece of blade at Fog cutting him once again.
Then suddenly as Fog leapt at him Charles dropped to the floor and rolled forward.
Unable to stop his forward momentum Fog collided with Charles's body and catapulted over the top straight into the blades in the corridor behind.
His speed made sure they cut him to pieces.
As Charles got to his feet he kicked back hard driving the body further into the blades.
Charles ignoring the screaming impaled figure checked on both of his friends.
"Right we go this way." He said leading them to the next section of the maze which was narrower still.
He paused as he heard a low growl from behind them.
The darted dog was getting shakily to its feet. It wasn't happy, not happy at all.
As it prepared to pounce Fog pulled himself free of the blades. Looking like something from a horror film he staggered towards them blood pouring from his many cuts.
"Well we can't call you hansom anymore can we?" Charles goaded him as he moved round to get Fog in between him and the dog.
The dog crazed by the sedative and the smell of blood jumped onto Fogs back driving him into another set of blades.
Fog screamed in pain as he twisted round to grab the dog and drag it off his body. His mighty hands closed around its neck and with a twitch snapped it killing it instantly.
The dog dropped to the floor.
Fog turned to find his quarry but they had slipped away into another section. Growling in pain and anger he made to follow them but the light touch of his sister hand stopped him.
"My poor brother." She said sadly with a tear in her eye. "Your poor hansom face."
The pistol was pushed under his rib cage.
With horror he realised what was going to happen.
The pistol barked once, twice, and he fell to the ground quite dead.
"Don't worry brother soon you will rise again to stand at my side. A perfect human being." Her face became grim. "I shall revenge you brother."
As she walked toward the section Charles and the others had fled down the walls cranked back. Blackness covered her.
Charles could see she was following but at that moment couldn't do anything to slow her progress.
They finally exited the maze into the cavernous empty warehouse.
Rapidly he sent Bailey and Myra behind some barrels while he stood calmly awaiting Night's arrival.
"I wondered when you would arrive." He said conversationally with a tight smile. "Could we get this over with. I'm getting bored now."
Night slipped out of the maze and stood with the darkness eddying like it was alive.
Charles could see her manipulating the control rod.
He knew that both of his friends were suffering the black out.
"I can smell you, I can hear you." He laughed. "Well come on don't leave me waiting or are you as cowardly as your husband!
"Brother!" She instinctively corrected Charles. "And he's dead. I killed him for not being perfect anymore."
"Ouch now that is what I call stern criticism." Charles carried on baiting her trying to get her to do something rash.
He started to walk toward her.
Charles could see that she was rattled behind the calm façade. He deliberately moved his head from side to side as if trying to hear or smell her. He didn't have to as he could see her quite clearly it was an act to get her of guard.
She pulled out her gun and aimed it at him. But Charles reacted swiftly, sending a dart into her hand where it bit deep. She yelped in pain and swiftly realised her hand was going numb. Charles jumped forward and knocked the gun out of her hand before making a grab at the rod.
She jumped back in alarm just in time to avoid Charles's grab for the weapon.
Charles bladed his hand and delivered a blow to her neck. But she retaliated with a blow of her own that made Charles stagger back a step.
"Not bad for an loser." He quipped.
He grabbed her hand and pressed hard on the nerve bundle in the wrist making her hand spasm dropping the black out weapon.
Light flooded back in allowing the other two to see the fight in front of them.
Charles twisted away from what would have been a devastating blow.
Night launched a frenzied attack that drove Charles back step by step. Charles blocked them again and again. Unable to mount an attack of his own because of the onslaught of blows.
Just when Charles faltered Night rose up to deliver a killing blow. She stopped with a comical look of surprise on her face before collapsing to the floor.
Myra looking shaken with the remains of the ceramic pot still in her hand.
"Thank you Myra I was in a bit of trouble there." He smiled warmly at her.
"Doctor?" Bradley had gone to cuff Night. "She's dead!"
Myra looked on in horror.
"I didn't hit her hard enough to kill her honestly." She said.
Charles was kneeling beside Nights body. He sniffed.
"Cyanide. She killed herself." He checked for life signs but found none. "A suicide pill I should imagine."
He stooped to pick up the rod Night was using. He pressed a button and the blackness billowed out.
"You won Doctor Midnite." Bradley said with a grin. "But I'd appreciate some light on the subject."
"And so would I." Myra said nervously. "It is you that's done it, and yes I know that's bad grammar."
It took Charles a couple of minutes to find the combination that turned the device off.
"No Bert. I don't think anyone won." He looked down at the corpse of Night and shuddered. Her skin looked dry and flaky.
He bent and touched her face.
It collapsed as her body disintegrated into fine dust.
"What the!" Bradley said revolted.
"Don't ask." Charles shook his head. "Somehow I don't think we have heard the last of Night and Fog, Nact and Webel."Epilog.
In a laboratory hospital complex deep under the Bavarian mountains an alarm sounded.
A technician in a white coat ran to a set of displays and took the readings down before muting the alarm.
Hanging in massive glass tubes surrounded by wires and monitors were the naked forms of a man and a woman.
Their eyes flicked open and stared angrily at the technician.
A little unnerved the technician picked up the phone receiver pressed a button and waited for it to be connected.
"General." He said in his clipped German. "Night and Fog have been eliminated in America. The new host bodies have woken up. The thought transference has been successful though I doubt if they will have retained any memories from around their deaths."
"Good my good doctor. Have them ready for dispatch as soon as possible please." The voice on the other end of the phone line was instantly recognisable. The technician rarely hated anyone, being a very tolerant man, but this one he hated to the very core of his being.
The naked passion for inflicting pain in all its cruel forms sickened him.
"I have managed to upgrade Night. She no longer has to manipulate the device physically. It has been grafted into her cerebral cortex it is hoped a mere thought will activate it."
"Well done doctor." There was a pause. "Are my twins ready."
"Yes sir. The Jewish twins are ready for sterilisation."
The receiver went dead.
The doctor put down the phone gently into the cradle when all his instincts were to slam it down hard enough to break it.
With a sigh we turned to the two figures in their tanks.
"Now what can I do to you two to weaken you without being noticed." He closed some switches and the fluid began to drain out.
Empty of fluid the two giant tubes disconnected the wires and slid to one side ready for opening. In the space they had vacated slid in another two tubes with sleeping forms in. Another Night and Fog, and behind them were another seven waiting to take their place.
"The Nazi's are fools." The doctor muttered under his breath. "All they see is you as weapons not as the medical break through you really are. Soon the true Germans will rise up and sweep them aside. Soon it has to be soon."
He wandered away to carry out his duties.
Back in the apartment of Charles, Bradley and Myra sat sipping glasses of white wine.
"Trying to explain what had happened was difficult but we raided their home and found very little to incriminate them though there was a hand press down stairs in the basement." Bradley was telling her. "The neighbours couldn't tell us much. They seemed shocked as they found them a perfect couple."
"Charles come on show us how you look." Myra called out.
She'd worked hard at the sewing machine over the last couple of days and couldn't wait to see the result of her efforts.
Very embarrassed Charles left the bedroom to show off his new costume.
The main part of the costume was a black hooded cat suit over which was a quilted sleeveless dark red jacket closed with crescent moon toggle buttons.
Brown cuffed boots and gauntlets and a silver moon buckle on a black belt finished the costume. Well almost he had a dark green cape which he hated with a passion and would dump at the earliest opportunity.
The hood with its crescent moon symbol had the red lenses built into it.
He raised a cloak draped right arm up only to receive an approving owl on it.
Hooty let out a happy hoot.
"Hooty likes it Charles." Myra laughed.
"Well Owls aren't noted for their taste." He quipped.
He lifted the blowpipe up off the table and slipped it into its built in holster and lastly was Nights control rod.
That night a dark shape was on the roof of a building listening to the life of the city.
He saw a pair of thugs enter the 24/7 and abseiled down the building.
Inside the shop the shop keeper was menaced with a sawn off shotgun.
Suddenly darkness fell.
The shop keeper could hear a scuffle and when the darkness lifted the two raiders were found sitting bemused tied up with a cord from the shop.
Doctor Midnite was standing by the door with Hooty sitting on his shoulder.
"When the police come just tell them that Dr Midnight had paid a night call." A gruff voice said before they vanishing into the darkness.
That night a legend was born.
And the vigil of a loving woman had begun.Salem.
The First World War had long gone and hadn't caught the imaginations of the children that played in the fields of Salem Massachusetts.
"Throw the ball Ken." One boy called.
Ken, Kenneth Kent Nelson, slapped the baseball into his catchers mitt a couple of times before executing the perfect pitch to his friend Tommy.
Tommy stretched and caught it.
There were ten of them all told, dashing to catch the thrown balls.
The sound of their laughter filled the drowsy morning air.
One of the girls had a baseball bat which she welded skilfully to send Ken's ball flying toward a natural dip in the field.
"Oh Inza." He moaned as he dash after the ball.
For some reason Inza, Inza Cramer, always called Ken by what he saw as a stupid second name.
Inza was tall and graceful and loped after Ken like a gazelle.
As Ken dropped into the dell he became aware of a sudden drop in temperature that made him shiver.
"Can you see the ball." Inza called as she came up to the stationary boy.
Ken stood open mouthed looking at an impressive castle keep like those you find in Europe.
The ball was nestled against the wall.
"Wow." Inza said as she drew out an imaginary sword. "Have at you varlet."
Her act shock him out of his surprise at finding the Watchers Keep and he responded in kind.
Fifteen minutes later, after charging around the keep in boisterous play, they were back to where they started.
"It hasn't a door." Ken said scratching his mop of white blond hair.
"Don't be stupid it has to have a door otherwise how do people get in." Inza mocked.
"Well did you see one." He snapped back.
"No, but we were playing." She smiled impishly. "Let's have a look."
They walked round the tubular brick structure but didn't find any way in.
Ken shrugged and crossed over to collect his ball.
As he bent down he thought he could hear a whispered voice.
"Come closer chosen one." He thought it said.
He touched the wall above the ball. It was icy cold and seemed to suck at his fingers.
"Kent move away its …"
That was all he heard as, like maw of an animal, the wall opened up and sucked them both in.
The Baseball rolled forward before rolling back to rest at the now quiescent wall.