The Ben Chatham New Year Special 2017: "Death and Romance"

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The Ben Chatham New Year Special 2017: "Death and Romance"

Post by sparacus on Sun Jan 01, 2017 2:25 pm

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OK folks, here is the New Year special:

DEATH AND ROMANCE

It was New Years Day in Cambridge and the fog hang heavy like a dulling wine. Ben Chatham gazed languidly out of the window of the Blue Angel Jazz Café at the distant spires of King's College chapel. He sipped his absinthe and sighed:
"Another year gone, another year closer to death". He gave a sad smile as the small jazz ensemble in the corner played 'Melancholy Mood'. Kian, the waiter, approached Ben's table:
"Happy New Year Mr Chatham. Can I get you anything else?"
"No. I don't feel like eating today and please don't wish me a happy new year. How can it be a happy new year when A level Archaeology has been dropped by the examination board," Ben replied sadly. Kian stroked Ben's shoulder:
"I'm sorry to hear that Mr Chatham...." His reply was cut short by the sound of screaming coming from outside in the street. Ben looked out of the window and saw a young woman covered in blood running down the cobbled street waving her arms and screaming. She ran into a student who was carrying a large pile of books, which went flying as both of them fell to the ground. Ben rushed out of the café and went over, comforting the student and helping him to his feet:
"Hi, I'm Ben Chatham. Are you ok?"
" Well I was until this person just knocked me off of my feet. Just look at my books, they've got mud off the street on them now. This is a first edition of E.M Forster's 'A Passage To India'. Thanks anyway, my name is Julian. Julian LeFarge." The student held out his hand and Ben shook it.
"Pleased to meet you Julian, although this is hardly an auspicious start to our acquaintance", Ben replied and they laughed. The young woman meanwhile had staggered to her feet, a middle aged lady having gone over to assist her. Suddenly the young woman launched herself at the other woman, biting deep into her face. The crazed woman then started laughing in an hysterical way before collapsing onto the ground. Ben rushed over and examined her closely as other passers by tended to the injured older lady. Julian went over to Ben:
"What on earth is wrong with that person? he asked.
"I'm afraid that she's dead Julian. And I have a good idea why as well. I need to act quickly. I run an Organisation called Operation Delta which investigates all kinds of paranormal and alien activity. I am the head of the organisation, I emphasise. You are a very attractive young man, how would you like to join this investigation?"
Julian smiled:
"I'd love to, it should be a hoot. Oh and I'm also a highly intelligent and wealthy scholar of literature Ben. I may as well emphasise my range of positive qualities."
They laughed as Ben flagged down a taxi:
"Take me to number 18, Rygate Street. There is a man there whom I need to see about a fish."
The obese taxi driver looked puzzled and huffed:
"...mumble mumble.. get all ¤¤¤¤ing sorts on New Years Day... mumble mumble..."

The taxi arrived at number 18 and Ben and Julian leapt out, Julian tossing the driver a wad of notes:
"Keep the change, I'm rich" he shouted.
"Like the style" Ben stated, laughing. They hammered on the door of the house and an elderly man answered it:
"Who's that I say. I'm busy.... Oh It's you Ben. How jolly nice to see you, come in."
"Hello Professor Briggs. This is Julian by the way, he's clever, rich and gorgeous. There's no time to lose Professor. The fish, do you still have the fish?"
"The fish? Of course I still have it. As if I'd ever part with such a present Ben. Come and see?"
They went into the Professor's study, where a large aquarium took pride of place at the far end of the room. The Professor suddenly gasped:
"I say it's gone! Oh my. Oh by golly. And there's water all down here as well and on the carpet."
Ben helped the Professor to a chair and gazed at the puzzled Julian:
"Some time ago Professor Briggs helped me on a very difficult case. He is the UK's leading zoologist. As a present I let him keep on loan an Osiarian Zanterfish which had been brought to earth in a crashed Osiarian craft. The fish have certain curious properties, they can live forever, barring physical injury, and their skin if eaten produces bleeding from every orifice followed by a frenzied desire to kill and eat anything in sight. I am well aware how bizarre all of this sounds Julian," Ben explained.
Julian laughed:
"One should never fear the weird, just the mundane". The Professor nudged Ben:
"I say, he's a philosopher this one".
"Professor, what could have done this? Do you have a cat or a dog?" Ben asked.
"No, but I've been looking after a stray cat for the past few weeks. Tom I call him. Big grey thing. He just comes in, has a nibble of food and then goes out again. Quite the vagabond. He was here earlier..... Oh dear, Come to think of it, I did leave him alone in here while I made a pot of tea..."
Ben sighed:
"That was very stupid. However I like you and you are an eminent Professor so I'll refrain from making further truthful observations on your failings."
"Thank you Ben, would you and your friend like some tea and lemon cake?"
"No, sorry Professor, we must fly like the wind. I suspect that the cat ate the fish and then went to some other house in the street where it scratched or bit a woman who was infected. We must find that cat before it infects anyone else."
Ben and Julian ran down the street banging on doors and fetching out the neighbours:
"Have you seen a stray grey cat? It's dangerous and infected with a deadly disease", Ben shouted. Suddenly there was a crazed scream coming from one of the back gardens. Ben and Julian ran down the side passage and saw a crazed man covered in blood hacking a woman's corpse with an axe. His children were screaming as the axe came down on their mother's neck. In the corner of the back garden a savage looking cat sat drooling at the mouth. Ben ran from the garden and back out into the street, followed by Julian. He pulled out his mobile and phoned for back up.
Some time later, the Operation Delta team were loading the man's corpse into a van and Paul Farraday and Corinne Shaw had managed to trap the crazed cat using a neck grabber and an RSPCA animal cage. They loaded it into the van also.
"This will do our image with the police no favours at all", Paul tersely stated as several police cars started arriving.
"You had best let me deal with the police Ben. I have built up some good networking connections with senior officers", Corinne stated.
Ben sighed:
"Do your best Corinne. I can't face them myself right now, I find officialdom so tiresome. Please try your best to save the cat and to avoid having to put it down."

Later Ben and Julian were enjoying a drink in the Blue Angel. Ben was telling Julian about his life:
... and so my family now view me as an embarrassment and I have an ex-wife who still thinks that I owe her something even though she gained a property at my expense. I'm entombed in my life. Look I'm sorry for unloading this baggage and boring you Julian. Julian laughed and grabbed Ben's hand:
"You don't need to apologise to me Ben. I think that everyone has a dark basement where they keep all of their demons. One wants to share them, but one is afraid of rejection if one does. I want to let you into mine but I'm afraid".
Ben stroked Julian's chin:
"You are strangely deep for such a young man. Let's go back to my apartment and start 2017 properly......"

THE END
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sparacus
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