John Who? – Chapter Three

It’s getting a bit like a radio play now, isn’t it. Scroll down if you want to read the first two chapters. Here we go then:-

Task completed. We are two million. We are strong. We need new instructions. We need John.

Rob hated his job. All through his childhood he’d dreamed of being a news reader with the BBC. He’d worked hard at school, got into the right university and then slogged his guts out to get his degree. He knew he’d need a first so, when he opened the envelope with the 2:1 result he couldn’t join with his parent’s jubilant celebrations. He’d hoped to be able to go to the BBC straight from Uni but that was a pipe dream now. He’d need to work his way up to them. The unthinkable had happened, he’d have to get a job in local news; and that’s just what he had done – six years ago.
Now he was stuck, he knew. He’d never work for the BBC, probably never be a newsreader. He’d spend his life following up on pointless council meetings and trying to find dirt on local politicians and business men. It was a measure of his desperation that lately he’d even started feigning an interest in the more unusual, stories, the ones with a hint of the supernatural; following up on them in his spare time, of which there was plenty, and making his own reports to broadcast on his v-blog. At least that had seen a small bump in his pathetic hit rate. At this point he’d do almost anything to get noticed, even a cable channel would do, anything would be better than local news.
That’s why, at 2:30pm on a Thursday afternoon, he found himself checking through email after email of the random ramblings of raving lunatics, all of whom were convinced they’d seen a ghost or found the Loch Ness monster or had irrefutable proof of the presence of aliens among us; most of them were total rubbish but he printed out the odd one that caught his eye. He was looking for his next investigation, his next pointless ramble to camera, trying to look interested enough for someone to notice his potential; that’s when the case of 109 Rankin Road first caught his eye. According to Jake595 the house had had three owners in 12 months, all of whom had either died in suspicious circumstances or disappeared from the face of the earth, leaving the house looking pristine. Ordinarily Rob would have dismissed it as unsubstantiated coincidence but Jake595 had even attached scanned cuttings from the local press and, as Rob read them, he found himself intrigued. He sent Jake595 a quick reply, asking him to call him and giving him the special mobile number he kept for work, then carried on scouring emails before beginning to write the script for the piece he was planning to do on a notorious local road, said to be haunted by the crew of the bomber that had crashed there in the second world war. He forgot all about Jake595 because he knew, like most of the cranks who emailed him, once he actually asked them to contact him they’d run a mile. He’d learnt months ago not to get his hopes up.

His mobile rang as he was eating his tea, he swore, hurriedly swallowed the mouthful of fish-finger he’d been eating, then picked it up.
“Rob Stranger,” he said in his light Scottish accent.
“Oh,” the person on the other end sounded surprised, “I thought it was Stranger.”
Rob sighed, “No, Stranger, like hanger. How can I help?”
“Yeah, erm, well I’m Jake595, I emailed you a couple of days ago and you asked me to call you.”
“Right. The haunted house.”
“Don’t be stupid, there’s no such thing as ghosts,” the guy sounded annoyed. “I do think there’s something strange going on though.”
Now Rob was interested. “Well if you don’t think it’s ghosts what do you think it is?” he asked.
“I have no idea, but I’d like to find out and, to be frank, I’m too scared to go there alone so I was hoping you’d come with me.”
This guy wasn’t one of Rob’s usual contacts, he was a sceptic, Rob realised. “What’s your name?” he asked.
“Ralph Donaldson.”
“Ralph? Not Jake?”
“Na, that’s just a nickname I had as a kid, I use it for my email.”
“So what can you tell me Ralph, about 109?” Rob asked, warming to the refreshing normalcy of the man on the other end of the line.
“Not a lot more than my email, like I said, I was hoping you’d come and have a look at it with me.”
Rob didn’t do caution, his six foot two frame coupled with his fitness regime meant he’d never had to. “Okay, you’re on.”
“Really?” Ralph sounded really surprised now.
“Sure, why not. When do you want to meet?”
“How about tomorrow evening?”
“Can’t do tomorrow, I’m working, but I’m good for Thursday. Do you want to get a beer first?” You can tell a lot about a bloke over a beer, Rob thought.
“Sure. Do you know The Cricketers?”
“On the corner of the High Street? Yep, I know it. Meet you there about seven?”
“Great.” Ralph agreed.
“I’ll be the guy…”
“I’ve seen you online mate, I know what you look like.” Ralph interrupted.
Rob couldn’t help it, he felt a small swell of pride and a tiny, wry smile escaped his lips, “Okay then, I’ll see you tomorrow,” he said, putting the phone down.


F: Hellen Riebold’s Author Page


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