What a strange view we've got here. Okay it's made even weirder by staring out side through metal bars and having metal cages around you.
All right there's the drinks bar over there but it still feels...
Hmm? Yes? I agree. Lets go out and look for where we are and when we are.
Hang on. The barmaid wants to tell me something.
Okay she tells me we've got to be back in a few minutes. Her shift ends in about ten minutes. Yes, I know she was flirting with me but I don't-
Yeah, I think she was sincere. No I'm not going to leave you so I can date this barmaid.
Honestly. Don't be freaked out. I know because you're not real you're afraid of not existing outside of this pub.
Take a deep breath and chill. Things are going to be okay.
I've lost two friends already and I'm not about to lose any more - okay?
Right - you go and open the pub's front door. Let's calmly walk out.
Erm, I really don't know where we are. Sorry I didn't mean to express things that way. Let's just look around.
All right we're on some kind of long narrow street. Looking at the historical buildings along here it's a city or town which has been around for a long time.
Yeah, you're right - it does look as though there's a little shop along the road down there. Let's have-
Blimey you could've let me walk with you to this shop.
No, no - you know what you're doing - you lead the way.
Ah great this place does sell newspapers and...
What you talking about? Okay I'll have a look at these weird looking papers you say.
Okay, these are very weird. These aren't made of paper. Bizarrely they look like they're made of stone.
And there's no date on them either.
Hang on - the store owner is calling me over. Wait a sec.
Sorry about that. The store owner doesn't think we're old enough to be in here and we have to go to the head office to get some ID the some reason.
Yeah I know. Let's go back to the pub. Maybe we can get some other way out of here somewhere.
I didn't think there was going to be any problem at all. I mean, for goodness sake, it's not like we're actually kids.
Ooo, watch out for that car on the road. Wow, it drove past us very quickly. Weird looking car that was as well.
Anyway here we are back at the-
Did you see the sign over this pub before we left? Has it always been marked as Oldtrapper Bank?
Maybe that's the name of the pub.
Wow, it's a heavy door to open.
Erm, why do I feel we're not actually go into the right door?
Let's turn and go out and we'll have a look again.
Why is that security guard stopping us leave this place? Why does he think we're bank robbers?
Okay, let's go then. Are you all right? We can stay a bit longer if you still feel unsteady.
So we'll go over to the wall pictures over there. You see they're the same as the one's in Arch's pub.
I'll keep you steady while you touch that photo again. Because I'm holding you up we'll both get transported back to Arch's place.
When I look back at that bar I thin-
You didn't touch the photo of Peter Cook and Spike Milligan did you?
You didn't. Now we're somewhere else. Not in Arch's pub. Boy, he's gonna be seriously PO'd.
God knows where we are now. Looks like we're in a prison.
Strangely, there's a barmaid over there.
Hang on while I'll go and talk to her.
Can you stand without me holding you? Good.
Well, the good news is we're not in a prison. We're actually in a pub in the vault of what used to be a bank. The pub owners have kept the vault bars and cages for atmosphere.
Oh how the English language is so hard sometimes. Bars to drink in or bars to imprison you in.
The barmaid did tell me where we are but I couldn't understand much what she said. It was her dialect plus she was often speaking a different language as though I should understand her. It could be Gaelic she was speaking so I think we're somewhere in Scotland or Ireland. Maybe.
But I don't know what year we're in.
Nice place wherever we are. Very quiet though. It's a bit weird with all the cage bars around. But as I've said it used to be a bank. I think that's what she said. Otherwise it's a bit disturbing. I suppose some people might like that but...
We'll not talk about that. I've still got the nightmares.
Oh, you were looking at the photos on that wall back there. Were you trying to work out which one you actually touched?
What do you remember?
What do you mean you don't know? You weren't looking?
And some reason there isn't the photo of Peter Cook and Spike Milligan on this wall either. We need that to get back to Arch's pub.
Okay, let's look outside and see where we are. We'll look for newspapers to find out when and where we are.
As long as this place doesn't turn back into a bank.
I shouldn't have mentioned that should I?
Now we're gonna enjoy ourselves. Let's just walk over to the bar and sit on those tall but comfy chairs.
Now if you don't mind I've got a couple of cocktails to ask the bartender to make. I'm sure you'll like them, which ever one you go for.
Yeah that's okay it doesn't matter if you normally don't drink. Remember you're not real, so this alcohol isn't go to affect you.
I don't think. Well, I could be wrong.
Sorry I didn't mean to laugh like that.
Anyway, here he is. This barman's called Tony. Now hang on while I talk to him about the cocktails I'd like him to make for us.
Sorry about that. It's been so long since I was last here. He's got to meet and chat with so many new film stars. Can you imagine chatting with Cary Grant and even Audrey Hepburn?
This is an amazing, really unusual bar. You see although it's based in London, it's also based in Los Angeles and New York, I think it is. I think it's based in a couple of other places as well but I don't know exactly.
No you didn't understand me. I don't mean different branches of this bar. I mean this actual bar is in different places in the 1950s.
Oh! Here we go - the cocktails have come. Now that one is a Mai Tai and that one's an Old Fashioned. I actually was thinking about a Whiskey Sour but Tony said it would take a long time to sort out the egg white for that cocktail or something. These were some of THE cocktails to go for in the 1950s.
You choose which one you want to go for. I'll warn you the Mai Tai is very strong.
Yeah course I told you the alcohol won't have an effect upon you, yeah, so go for it.
Let me help you slowly get your feet. I'm really sorry. I didn't know the alcoholic drinks in this place would affect you like that.
No you didn't cause a scene. People in this bar aren't surprised apparently. You're not the first unreal person to come to this bar it seems. I don't know who that would've been. Tony didn't know the name of the person who was also affected like you.
Don't be angry. Tony didn't warn me because he didn't know you weren't real.
Look, I'll help you back to Arch's pub and maybe his food will help you sober up.
Okay we're going to take a route now that will, certainly, test your way of looking at things.
Do you trust me?
Yeah I know you're feeling nervous but it won't hurt...
Now I'm just going to quickly glance at Arch.
Yeah he knows what I'm going to do. As I've said before he's one of very few people who's very open to us.
Look up here at the photo above us. Now you see that gap in the photo between the people there? It looks as though someone's been airbrushed out.
We're going to touch that gap at the same time. Yes it has to be at the same time and don't ask me why.
You'll see in a minute.
Okay? Don't fret - just reach slowly to touch that photo.
That's it. Now we touch that gap at the same time. You ready? And... go!
Are you alright?
You can stand up up and have a look around you. Yes we're no longer in the pub and, yes, everything looks black-and-white. You'll get used to that...
Now to let you know. That gap in the photo was where Rob Anders was when the photo was being taken.
Deep breath. Calm down. I know it's very strange. With all those framed photographs of celebrities on that wall and every one of those photos has a strange looking gap by or amongst those famous people.
And before you ask no we can't see Rob Anders. Because he is one of the people who disappeared - years ago. And no one found out why.
But the weird thing is none of those celebrities ever mentioned Rob Anders in their interviews. It's like he didn't exist in their minds.
Yeah I can see from your face you don't remember him either and you're not even real as well!
Anyway do you fancy drink? I mean in this bar we're in now they do some really great cocktails.
Remember that photo we touched that had Peter Cook and Spike Milligan in it? They're over there on the far side at that table. There's actually a story to this. You see those two guys wearing suits sat on the table right next to them? They're sales reps. One of them is my Dad. And in a few moments he's going to tell a joke to his colleague. Peter and Spike will overhear them and start laughing. That then leads the four of them to talking and having a good time.
And that's why I can use that photo to get into it.
Anyway lets get our cocktails. Don't worry I'm in the suit now and yes I do have some money on me in this suit. So don't worry if you don't have any change on you. You can bloody pay for the meal Arch did for us when we get back. He's waiting for us so we can't really stay here too long.
So we just casually cross the road and stroll in this pub. Okay about that? Oh, by the way, this pub's landlord is...
No I won't say anything - you'll twig it when we get in.
Don't worry- well, don't worry too much. I means it's been at least a couple of weeks since one of his last customers was taken to hospital.
I can't remember whether that one was due to food poisoning or being beaten up. It could be both I suppose.
Anyway, we're nearly here. I've updated my will and so everything's good.
Let's go in.
By the way, before I open the door, the landlord's name is Archimedes Gazebolskiergul
Just call him Arch.
Anyway let's go in. There he is behind the bar on the right. He's smiling - that's a good sign.
I'll go over there and talk to him. You just have a look around. Have a look at the framed pictures on the on the wall behind you. You might notice some unusual omissions.
OK, sorry that chat with Arch took so long. He is in a pretty good mood and he'll do us some food.
I should say he's one of the very few people around here who can actually see someone who's not real. So you'll be okay. He won't take exception to you - or to me as well that is. He even lets the Reflections newspaper be sold in here.
Let's sit at the table over there the one just below that picture of those actors Peter Cook and Spike Milligan. You're asking why are we sitting there?
You notice how there's no photos of Rob Anders?
Yeah, he was on so many TV shows. He was very popular but many people didn't want to see him.
To their minds he wasn't real.
But don't worry
I see you as real as anyone else around here.
There may come a time when you cease to be here. I know you don't want me to say that but I need you to be here to try and find those missing people...
if we can.
Together we can figure out things and uncover what happened to them.
Now we just casually stroll down this road. Don't stare the car racing past us. Yes, it's screeching to a stop by the house we came out of.
Don't panic. Keep calm.
I'm guessing they don't know who we are yet. Otherwise they'd have stopped by us.
Now we're strolling round the corner.
Stop here. They can't see us.
Excuse me for pausing. I'm not being melodramatic.
Didn't you think it was easy to get around that house?
Yes, I know I was saying I expected to get in easily and the family that were supposed to be there had to go to a funeral blah blah blah
What do you mean "What funeral?" I one I told you about. It's-
Oh, I haven't told you about the funeral have I?
I didn't tell you about it because we couldn't go. All the tickets had been sold.
(Got out of that one. You weren't supposed to read that.)
Anyway, I think we were being secretly filmed in that house. Well, when I say filmed I think they might be trying to film us.
Oh come on. You know you're not real here so they can't film us. Doesn't stop them trying.
Well, they think we're around but...
Hmm? Oh who's 'they' you ask. To be honest I'm not quite sure. They must be quite powerful to suppress papers from investigating but beyond that.
Come and walk again down this road.
I think there are two groups going on. There's one group that's making people 'disappear' as Reflections write and another group trying to find out about us.
Yeah, I know it could be one group doing both. Yeah, I will admit I'm scared. I don't know who these guys are and I'm damned if anymore of my friends and family are being taken.
Yeah, there I've said it. I'm prejudiced because one of my sisters disappeared as well.
I didn't think much of it at the time. I knew she was seeing this guy and they seemed like a good couple. They moved into this house together and the other people living there seemed to be okay. I just thought they'd then moved somewhere else.
But after a bit our Mum got freaked out. I didn't know my sister was often writing letters to her so when they stopped my Mum was worried.
So we're looking for her as well.
See that pub over there? You been in it? No?
Jeez, you're missing out. Come on - lets have a drink and some food if you want as well.
It's alright, we won't have to pay. Well, I don't think we'll have to pay. The landlord's a bit of a mardy so and so. I know he's sometimes violent but as long as you smile at him you should be okay.
I can't guarantee he won't hit us but I tell you the food he does makes up for it.
Nah, they'll easily let us in. Front door is open.
Well, it usually is.
Let's let's have a look.
You see? There - completely open. Thank God. Yeah, well I know you heard that. There's no point in whispering around you is there?
Okay so stepping in - you see this wonderful corridor - okay that's a bit weird. They've redecorated since last time I was here.
Mind you it's probably not surprising - there was plenty of blood everywhere.
I suppose in some ways that's probably a bit off putting for people coming into the house. You know - seeing blood everywhere. A bit squeamish don't you think though? Well probably not if you like making black puddings or something.
Anyway I'm getting off the track here.
Let's move on into the lounge. Hmm? Yeah I suppose it is a bit strange there isn't anyone around. Maybe they're at work or something.
Now - you go and have a sit on the... armchair over there. I'll sit on the sofa - unless you'd rather sit on the sofa? No? Well that that chair looks quite comfy doesn't it?
Okay so this is probably where they were last. You're asking why? Well, one of them was actually on the phone when they stopped speaking and something happened.
I think they said there was some kind scuffle or exclamation or something like that. Yeah it was an interview with one of the relatives of the disappearing couple. Their names? Oh God trying to remember their names. Oh I remember. Joe and Lila. I think it was Lila. Yeah it was her because-
Well that's another story in itself isn't it? When they were in America it think it was. Yeah they were hiding from someone I suppose.
Hmm? No I think that was their false names. I don't know what they were actually called. I think that somebody had paid them or something like that. I know it a bit weird to be paid to change your name.
Now I don't know if it's possible they might have left some kind of clue around here. Yeah I know that sounds a bit like Agatha Christie or whatever.
You know what? I do remember them telling me something about that fireplace over there. What was Joe trying to tell me? You stay in the chair. I'm going to have a closer look at that fireplace.
Now this fireplace doesn't get used. I'm surprised it's still here. I mean it's not been bricked up whatever. Let's face it, it's not a major 50s or 60s fireplace.
Oh, I'm trying to remember what he said. Oh now I remember. How can I forget when he told me such a weird sentence.
"The fireplace is a neck but the chain is under the skin."
The fireplace is a neck. Bit of a square neck wouldn't you say? Under the skin? Did he mean under the edge of the fireplace surround?
I'll run my hands around the bottom part of the surround.
Hang on - I can feel something weird here. If I can just - there's a small part of the surround that actually is giving way. Thank God the fire isn't on. It's come away and I can feel something underneath.
If feels like a chain or something.
There. Can you see that? An necklace with a strange pendant on it.
We'd better go before whoever is living here gets back.
Come on - follow me out.
Closing the front door behind me and onto the pavement.
Lets walk - casually - don't rush.
You know something that just occurred to me. If the house is now owned by somebody else how come I was easily able to get in?
I could write a conspiracy theory book about all the things I've seen over the years. Anyway we're safe now. Let's go onto the main road and walk away.
We'll have a look at that necklace in a bit.
Looked at the papers in the supermarkets?
Look for disappearances on the headlines. Yeah most of the papers don't show consistent headlines at the moment. But have you looked at the Reflections newspaper?
Yeah, I know it's pretty new. It won't cost you much.
Here, I've bought today's copy. See the headline? More Disappearances.
Isn't that strange? None of the other papers show anything about this major story.
What you mean you don't know about this story? Come on - you mean no one's told you about this? It's been happening for the last two weeks.
Look, come with me. There's been a couple of disappearances very close to this park. All you need to do is walk up this slope. The park's entrance is right by that posh house. You know the one I told you about? Yeah, that one.
Come on. Hurry up. Yeah, I know the greenery around us is distracting. What you mean? You've never heard of Reflections? Where have you been all these years?
That's better. Come on.
You know I actually know a couple of writers for Reflections. They're not like from the other "real" newspapers.
Oh hang on - look over there. You see those small - I don''t know - what do you call them? Baby trees? Anyway those other there. They're planted by kids from a nearby junior school.
My son goes to that school. Yeah, I know don't talk about family but...
Anyway, we're coming to that posh house.
Through the park entrance, cross the street, and then down that little road over there on the right.
You see it? I told you it's close.
Where you from by the way? No, no, I shouldn't have asked that. Bad question. None of my business. I'm just glad you're here.
Let's cross the street. It's quiet isn't it?
It's the time of the day I guess. During the weekend I think it does get very busy. I never come over then.
Now down this road and we then get into that house and-
Hum? What did you say?
No I can't promise you it's not dangerous going into the house. Yes, there are people living there.
Don't worry they won't bother us.
Well, all right I don't think they'll bother us but there's two of us so we'll be safe.
Well- I hope hoping you didn't remember when I said there'd been two disappearances here.
Reality. Are you, the reader, less real than me, the character in this book? Or are you less real than the writer of this book? Or is he less real than me? We’ll talk more about that later on.
Just come over here and sit on this park bench. Have a look around. It’s a lovely park isn’t it? You see that building over there? No, that one over there on your left. You see it? That’s actually a private building in the park. Well kind of. It’s beautiful though don’t you think? I often come into this park to look at the greenery and breathe.
Don’t tell me – you’ve got hay fever. You’re a bloody spoilsport you know that? Oh, you’ve taken some antihistamine tablets - or whatever they call it - before you picked up this book. Well that’s a relief. I wouldn’t want you sneezing on the pages of this book. Yeah, yeah, you’ve got an e-book not a paperback. It doesn’t matter. It’s still me. All this bloody technology didn’t make me any less real.
Anyway we’re getting off the main subject okay? Hang on let’s pause for a moment. That mother over there is bringing her children into the play area opposite us. Well, two of her kids. I think that’s the father over there on your left playing football with that little boy. Well I can’t complain. This part in the park is very popular with families.
Okay they’ve gone now.
Let’s face it it’s not exactly easy to be talking about murders and stuff when some people, especially children, are standing almost in front of you.
Are you okay are sitting here? I mean we could easily go for a walk in the other parts of the park. No? You’re okay - all right.
Now how do I start this? Well, okay I’m asking you because you're not real. Are you fine with me telling you that? I mean I suppose it’s not a big revelation. Anyway, we’re getting off the subject – murders.
Okay, basically there is been a big cover up. I mean look in the newspapers that have recently been available in the shops. If you buy any those papers you will find the strange issues I’m going to be showing to you.
Oh, you're now feeling bit nervous? It doesn’t matter.
I think you’ll be safe.
With all the recent controversial "crude outbursts" from the president of a certain country let's have a look at things a little more unusual.
Above is an artist's interpretation of a phenomenon that some astronomers have recognized:
When I learn about exploring space like this it makes me feel so very small. Well it makes us all look so very small.
So basically those "crude outbursts" are well little more than insignificant hot air in huge universe. I'm sure a certain person would disagree with me but there you go.
In actual fact, as part of making us look so very small, there is now a British satellite floating above us which can take films in very high detail:
So Pres Trump give it a wave as it goes past. Make sure you limit your vocalized hot air - we don't want this satellite going off orbit.
By the way, this satellite technology is not alone:
With the advancement of technology, explorations from space are no longer limited to a small number are very big countries like the USA.
I suppose this reminds me of the articles I wrote about the frequent insecurity about that advancing technology.
The use of technology to commit murders is something I write about in my novel Deprivations: The Psychopath and the Child. (You know it feels strange remembering how methodical I was in writing about how to use that technology to kill people. As for how I wrote how the baddies murdered people in my novel The Devil's Sister. )