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4. The S.A.N.T.A. Conspiracy - Chapter 3

by Graeme Fielden

Time: 9:20a.m.
Date: 24th December.
Location: Clonmel, Eire.


Timothy Flaherty stood at the oak-panelled doorway to O’Murphy Manor, wrestling with the heavy gargoyle-faced iron knocker, balancing a home-baked fruitcake on his Zimmer frame as he lifted the heavy knocker once again with two shaky hands.


Seamus approached BUD’s monitor. "Who’s that?" he asked.

Switching to camera twelve, Timothy’s kind and wrinkled face appeared on the screen. His bushy silver eyebrows folded with concentration as his watery eyes focused on the gargoyle knocker, which pinned his polka-dotted necktie to the door. Seamus scrolled the camera up then down, showing Timothy, thin and unsteady, dressed in an oversize pale blue suit, pink shirt and brown corduroy joggers. His shaking hands steadied him against the door.

Seamus chuckled as he zoomed further to read the identity badge, which was pinned to Timothy’s chest. "Clonmel Orphanage - Official Collector," Seamus read aloud.

"Who’s that?" asked the old man.

"Identify," said Seamus.

BUD retrieved Timothy’s file, which ticker-taped across the bottom of the screen. "Subject: Timothy Keegan Flaherty. Address: 2 Mary Street, Clonmel. Age: ninety-two years and fourteen days. Height: five-feet-eight inches. Weight: One-hundred-and-sixty pounds. Interests: Geology, gardening, classical music," recounted BUD’s monotone voice.

"What does he want?" asked Seamus.

"No data available, Sir."

"Do you think he’ll go away if we ignore him?"

"No data available, Sir."

"I’ll see what he wants," said the old man as he ran to the door and pushed but it didn’t budge. He set the latch then ran at it from a distance. The door opened violently; sending Timothy over the Zimmer frame; catapulting the cake tin high into the air, then down onto the crown of Timothy’s bald, pink head.

"Ouch!" Timothy winced before collapsing to the ground.

The old man scuttled forward but Seamus was too quick. He caught him by the collar and lifted him so that his legs kept running, mid-air.

"You’ve done quite enough. To the basement with you! Let’s see whether you can make trouble there," said Seamus.

Seamus helped Timothy to his feet, walking him through the expansive entrance hall, past the spiralled steps and into the drawing room and to the old chez lounge where Timothy stretched his creaking body.

"Some water?" asked Seamus.

Timothy’s vision was blurred as he opened his eyes, making Seamus’ face seem as though it wobbled back and forward, mingling and morphing with the grand chandelier, which hung directly above. Timothy shook his head, closed his eyes tightly before re-opening them to look about the room.

It was filled with dust-covered chairs and sofas; sideboards, which were covered with precious ornaments, set about a fireplace at the centre of the room. Over it a portrait likeness of Seamus hung, watching over the room. Timothy’s confused eyes switched between the portrait and Seamus, himself. Until his eyes began to focus and they became two distinct entities.

"Anything stronger?" asked Timothy.

"There’s whiskey, but it’s in the cellar," muttered Seamus.

"Whiskey?" said Timothy, and his eyes began to sparkle.

Seamus didn’t often have visitors. Since the death of his mother he was never comfortable with people at the Manor. Seamus wasn’t a people person. It wasn’t that he didn’t like them, quite the opposite in fact, for they fascinated him and intrigued him, yet he found them confusing and unpredictable. Seamus liked logic, which explained why, even as a child, he preferred machines and computers. They were logical. They obeyed fundamental rules, which Seamus found re-assuring. Seamus liked order. He liked rules. His rules to be precise…

Seamus tripped his way down the dimly lit stairs, through the blackened corridor whose old timber floorboards creaked with each step. The old cellar door lay just ahead and Seamus edged toward it like a blind man, feeling his way along the dark passage, stopping and listening every few steps. He heard a sound. It was the strangest of sounds and it came from behind the cellar door.


He pressed his eye to the gap and peered inside.

* * *

In the stone-lined cellar to O’Murphy Manor sat old man, Malakai: cross-legged, precariously balanced on a rickety stool; leaning over the round oak table as he massaged his temples with his long wrinkled fingers. He stared at the crystal. Its multi-coloured surfaces sparkled exquisitely, even under the pale-lit bulb that barely illuminated the room.

It was extraordinary: unique and very rare: shiny and beautiful. He focused on it, leaning progressively forward until his large yellow eyes reflected in each of its sparkling, multi-coloured surfaces. His pointed ears wriggled with anticipation as he continued the ancient incantation. "Seeeyah-Caaan-Naaan-Yabba-Doooo-Seeyah-Waaah-De-De-Yaamana."

The crystal began to spin. It spun faster, levitating inch-by-inch above the table. Sparks appeared around it, like lightening. They flashed, sending plumes of fog that condensed about it like a cloud. The cloud grew progressively dense. At its centre, something started to materialise.


It was very small at the start, like a miniature room - with figurines jostling in their seats. Yes, it was like a tiny audience, and they were seated before of a stage with a jolly round figure dressed in red.


Malakai heard a faint voice.

"It’s been another successful year at S.A.N.T.A. Inc., and I would like to thank each and every one of you for your support," said the soft, husky voice.

Malakai blinked. When he re-opened his eyes, Nick’s face was floating mid-air above the table.

"What is the meaning of this?" whispered Nick.
"Yes, what’s happening?" asked Seamus as pushed his way into the room.

"Malakai? " said Nick.

"Malakai?" said Seamus.

"Who’s he?" said Nick and Seamus in unison as they watched each other’s face hovering in the cloud before them, dimensions apart.

Click. Click.

Lightning flashed from within the cloud, filling the room with a blinding light that stunned Seamus. The force of it threw him to the ground, knocking him unconscious.

Time passed.

Seamus opened his bleary eyes to find the cloud dispersing, filling the cellar with a dense fog so it was impossible to see more than six inches ahead. Standing up he found his way to the door, which he opened and closed, like a fan, until the fog cleared. Seamus was alone. Malakai and Nick were nowhere to be seen. Only the crystal remained, hovering above the table.

It was spinning progressively slower, fading in brightness. It lowered gradually until it rested on the tabletop. The crystal tipped on its axis then toppled onto its side. He picked up it up. Ouch. It was hot to touch so he found a cloth, which allowed him to examine it closer.

Its multicoloured surfaces still shined under his gaze, even under the condensation, which he wiped carefully away. At its centre a fading light pulsated, losing its brightness like a fading heart beat as its energy drained away. He stared into it. As the light faded it’s sparkling, reflective quality returned.

"Funny! My eyes never seemed so large, nor so yellow," Seamus said as he watched them in the crystal.

"Humbug!" said a familiar voice that seemed to echo through his head.


Author's Note: A novel, work in progress, written for the young adult market.

Posted on 08/13/2004
Copyright © 2022 Graeme Fielden

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by Jersey D Gibson on 08/13/04 at 01:34 PM

yup, i'm enthralled

Posted by Quentin S Clingerman on 08/14/04 at 02:37 AM

Fascinating! Where is all of this heading?

Posted by JD Clay on 08/15/04 at 07:46 PM

Another great installment, Graeme. This has the makings of a winner, Graeme. Peace...

Posted by Max Bouillet on 08/16/04 at 11:27 AM

Graeme, I must agree this is an excellent addition to the on-going efforts. Every chapter has an emmense cliffhanger that makes it impossible not to read what's coming up next. It is like a series of season finales. Excellent work.

Posted by Alex Smyth on 08/18/04 at 12:17 AM

Ho, I see, yes, you are a pusher. You give us just enough to get hopelessly, helplessly addicted, and then make us wait for the next fix! Well, I can wait, I can wait, just don't be too long or you will lose the whole crop of us to the Delirium Tremors!!!!(lol, this is GREAT storytelling, Graeme. Absolutely great)

Posted by Chris Sorrenti on 08/18/04 at 04:26 PM

Enjoyed this latest installment Graeme. You're doing a great job of maintaining the intrigue/suspense. Thanks again for sharing it! :o)

Posted by Quentin S Clingerman on 12/17/04 at 12:52 PM

When are we to get another chapter? You've kept us in suspense now for sometime. :)

Posted by Michelle Angelini on 06/18/05 at 04:06 AM

Graeme, you might just become the most popular story teller on Pathetic! Wish we could post these as SOTD... I'm sure you'd be pleased, too.

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