Coldford Correctional stands high on the hills of Bournton. It was given the nickname because of the way it looms over the town. It was a Chamberlain castle at one point in history. The Chamberlain family are what put the King in KINGSGATE. The castle in Bourton was a stronghold of Francesca Chamberlain who had a reputation for torture, greed and bouts of madness. These terrible deeds are said to have become ingrained in the very walls of the prison.
The Boss has played home to some of Coldford City’s most dangerous criminals. Most notably, two of the Penn triplets of the PENN AUCTION HOUSE have found home there. In order to keep such depraved individuals the guards of the boss have a no nonsense policy. If you act up within those walls you will be taken out. It doesn’t matter who you were on the outside. The Boss doesn’t care when you are Her slave.
It’s not uncommon for those who enter those iron clutches to be kept there for the rest of their lives. A years sentence for assault can suddenly become a life forfeit. Such is the way of Coldford’s correctional system.
Life inside is not easy. It’s not meant to be. It is a prison after all. When you are given that custodial sentence you give up your humanity, your past and your dignity. You are now in servitude to The Boss.
We haven’t seen the last of those who will pass through those gates so if you are bold enough to head so far north you will see the latest slaves being brought forth to be chewed up.
Hotly contested, the death penalty is alive in well in Coldford at this time of writing. As such The Boss plays home to the electric chair known as Buzz Kill. When you are dealing with such a hotbed of crime as is present in the Shady City those switches need to be flipped, often.
Check out these thrillers from Vivika Widow. Available now.
He’s an adorable little psychopath, right? Well perhaps not. He tends to rile the readers but he does give a lot to talk about. So with that in mind here are ten things you (probably) didn’t know about the heir to the BECKINGRIDGE TOWER.
This may contain some MAESTRO spoilers so if you haven’t read and wish to do so click HERE.
1: Crazy on his mother’s side.
KNOCK KNOCK readers will have met ERNEST BECKINGRIDGE, George’s father, in ISSUE 17: HIGH FLIERS but Maestro readers will remember George’s mother, Alice. Tall, demanding and with a reputation of being a bit of a dragon Alice had a reputation that resonated through the town of Filton and with good reason. She was tough, charismatic and was ahead of her husband in leadership of the Beckingridge Manor. What you may have not known was that Alice was treated as girl for rage bouts and psychopathic tendencies. It seems its like mother like son for Alice and George.
Before music teacher, VINCENT BAINES, came into his life George had no friends. The Peterson twins in the neighbouring mansion house avoided him as best they could. The only person he had ever grown close to or would even consider a friend was a little boy named CECIL. Cecil was sick though. George was never told what had happened to him but when he failed to turn up at school one day George was informed by their teacher, Miss Matheson, that the little boy had died in the night. George was inconsolable.
To say that George has strange quirks would be putting it mildly. But among those quirks George has a deathly allergy to bee stings. At age seven George had been stung whilst in the gardens of his manor home. His tongue and throat were swollen but his mother Alice, watched him. He was close to death when finally his father gave him his epipen. George, as you can imagine, hates bees.
4. Highly intelligent; emotionally stunted.
Even as a grown up George still has the tendency to behave like a child and a very spoiled one at that. He has the emotional level of an eight year old but when tested he showed an extremely high IQ. Some doctors reckoned most of his childish outbursts were an act. He seemed to enjoy shocking people.
5. Twin birthdays.
Speaking of spoiled. The Peterson twins, with some hesitation, offered an invitation to the Peterson manor for their joint sixth birthday party. George accepted. However, seeing the attention the twins were being showered with GEORGE created a scene the way only George could. Ernest had been present but unable to stop his son wrecking the gifts that had been brought for the twins and attacking Oliver Peterson with a soiled nappy. Twin, Ollie was a feisty little boy though and George was sent home with a burst nose.
6. A night at the movies.
We all enjoy a good flick, right? George does too. In fact he had been sat in front of the television so often as a tot with little else to stimulate him it became something of a nanny. He especially enjoys the older films when actor, LAURENCE DUBOE was in his prime.
7. On display.
George was sent home from school one afternoon when he was eight after exposing himself to the entire class. Ok maybe that’s not exactly a big surprise but he enjoyed the wave of shock he had brought to the room. Perhaps enjoyed a little too much. It wouldn’t be the first time he exposed himself, nor would it be the last.
After his mother died George became interested in the embalming and preservation process. He learned everything he needed to know from books he had insisted on getting from the library and even had a shed full of dead pigeons he planned on putting his knowledge to the test on.
9. A distraction.
When Vincent first meets George’s Aunt ELIZABETH, she informs him that his latest pupil may be a bit of a handful. It seems Beckingridge Manor has had some trouble keeping its heir in line. Vincent has been enlisted as a music tutor not only to offer the boy some refinement but also to distract him. Vincent fails to ask what exactly they are trying to distract him from. He finds out for himself soon enough.
The reason music is chosen rather than martial arts, drawing or any other pursuit is because George’s favourite place as a boy was the music room. He would spend most of his time in there and when he was in there Alice could lock the door and forget about him for a while.
10. 10 years is too soon.
George was a kidnap victim. After seeing what George was capable of and what the Manor environment was doing to him his teacher offered him a way out. Naively, perhaps but at least it did keep him out of trouble for a while.
Now George is back. He’s all grown up and he’s ready to take the reins of his father’s empire. Part of that empire leads him to Harbour House and the place where his favourite teacher is now resident.
#amreading #thriller #harbourhouse2020 by @VivikaWidow
With the gifted phone in my hand I saw an opportunity. Theresa had been killed. Others had no doubt lost their lives to this so-called club, but I couldn’t let what happened to my wife be in vain. I would seek out the truth and expose them all. Someone within the Knock, Knock Club knew who I was and was willing to help me. I didn’t have time to figure out who that was. Luckily, Tabitha had left the room door unlocked.
I followed the corridor to the other side of the club. I was confident I would hit a dead end quickly but the brick walls seemed to carry on deeper and deeper into the darker depths of Knock Knock.
I came to an ominous looking grey door. Was I supposed to find KNOCK KNOCK completely lacking security, or had the one who had given me the phone ensured the doors were open? There was something they wanted me to find. Something that would tell me who these HEADLINERS were.
At first, I could hear a smooth, male voice accompanied by a guitar and simple drum beat singing a gentle serenade. I heard other voices too, talking over the singing. Then I realised the singing was coming from speakers.
There was a light shining underneath a door that had been left slightly ajar. I crossed the wide, empty room to get a closer look.
I came to a window that looked out onto the alley that ran alongside the club.
I crouched down and looked out. Whoever gave me the phone, this was what they wanted me to find.
Tabitha was there with Dennis and a tall man wearing all black. He had a long ponytail. His name was MARCUS PENN. He was one third of the Penn triplets who owned the AUCTION HOUSE in the city. Marcus was rolling a woman onto the filthy ground.
“Oh, she’s wasted,” TABITHA laughed. DENNIS, on the other hand, didn’t seem amused.
“Yeah, on our booze,” he said.
I took out the phone and started to record.
Marcus looked up with a firm grip on the woman’s shoulders. Her head lolled and her eyes rolled.
“I’m sure we can spare a drink for our girl Mel here,” Tabitha continued.
Dennis looked away.
“Just get on with it will you.”
“That sounds like Dennis giving me orders!” she said to Marcus.
Dennis shook his head. “I’m just saying…”
Tabitha cut him off by snapping her fingers together in a ‘shut up’ gesture. “Remember this is my club, you useless prick.”
“Of course,” Dennis began to explain himself.
Tabitha gave a gasp of feigned shock. She again turned to Marcus.
“And yet still he doesn’t shut up!”
Marcus glared at Dennis with a cold stare while still clutching the young woman they called Mel. Mel gave a groan. She was trying to speak through a drunken slur. This turned Tabitha’s attention from Dennis back onto her.
“What’s that?” she asked, approaching Mel. “Dennis is a prick?”
She clasped Mel’s jaw and worked her mouth like a puppeteer.
“Yesh Tabifa, Dennis is a pwick,” she mocked. Mel’s eyes rolled.
Dennis arched his eyebrows, but said nothing in response.
“You see,” Tabitha returned to her normal voice. “She was retarded enough to walk in here with her demands and even she knows how much of a prick you are.”
She started working Mel’s mouth again.
“Yesh he is Tabifa. And might I say you look so pwetty today.”
Tabitha smiled a wicked smile.
“Isn’t she sweet! At least she has taste.”
Mel’s eyes rolled again. She was trying to defend herself or appeal for mercy, or maybe both, but she was so inebriated she wasn’t able to. Marcus said nothing throughout. His gaze remained fixed.
“Can we please just get on with this?” Dennis appealed. I sensed he was being careful not to sound too demanding.
Tabitha looked to Mel.
“He wants you to die. Isn’t that just charming?”
“If it were up to me, Mel honey, I’d keep you here for the rest of your natural life feeding you the shit straight from your own arse but business is business and I haven’t got time for a pet.”
“What if we just send her back?” Dennis suggested tentatively.
Tabitha disagreed, “And have the other side think they can just send people into my club and they will walk away? No. They declared war on us. It’s bad enough I have a fucking reporter of all things breathing down my neck.”
“I’ve had to drag Marcus in to oversee this mess and now…No! You know what? You have gotten me so pissed I need an herbal tea! Are you happy? Now I’m thinking about fucking tea of all things. Marcus, handsome, do your thing.”
Before I had the chance to react, Mel’s blood was spilled into the alley. Marcus took a sharp blade to her throat like an animal in a slaughter house.
I couldn’t give my position away. It was too late for the woman anyway. I had captured the whole thing though. I took as deep and silent a breath as I could.
“That was so satisfying I might not need the tea after all. Send the head to the Court House and remind that Judge bitch that I don’t mess around,” Tabitha was saying, as I retreated back into the club.
I was determined more than ever to get to the bottom of this. I had some pretty damning evidence that could see the whole place shut down, but before I did anything I wanted to speak to someone who could shed more light on what I was dealing with.
#amreading the #thriller #graphicnovel #knockknock by @VivikaWidow
After finding our home ransacked, Theresa decided to stay with her mother. She said she would be home the following afternoon. She pleaded with me to go with her but in desperate times, my job at the newspaper was important. Through the night I had been restless. I watched the quiet streets from my window until my eyes were burning. After falling asleep on the sofa for a few hours I left to meet MADELINE for lunch at the local diner. She was already waiting for me at a table by the window with a bowl of watered-down soup in front of her. An empty one left by the previous occupant had been pushed aside.
“Are you okay?” she asked as I sat on the booth bench across from her. She hadn’t seen me since the house breaking. She was filled with genuine concern. She had spent an hour on the telephone with Theresa the night before.
“I’m fine,” I said, not convincing anyone. “I don’t think they’ll be back.”
I tried a smile. Madeline shook her head sympathetically. A large middle aged, grey haired waitress with thick rimmed spectacles approached. “Just some coffee please,” I told her. She grunted and disappeared back to the kitchen to fetch the coffee. “She’s a charmer…” I commented.
“Are you sure you are okay?” Madeline asked again.
“I told you I am fine,” I insisted. “Unfortunately, these kinds of things are happening a lot these days.”
“Nothing was stolen though. If it was a robbery surely they would have taken something.”
“There isn’t much to steal at my place. We sold the best bits to pay the rent.”
“Theresa told me about your visit to the Knock, Knock club.”
“The woman I spoke to wasn’t much help.”
“What was her name?” Madeline couldn’t help but press like a reporter.
That evening I returned to the Knock Knock club. Perhaps my journalistic instinct was getting the better of me or perhaps I wanted to avoid the confinement of my empty home. Either way, there I was knocking on the door as the sign suggested. Dennis was the one to answer.
“Table for one?” he asked with an ironic smile. “Sometimes it is more hassle than it’s worth to bring the missus isn’t it?”
“I’m not staying,” I explained to him. “I just want to speak to Tabitha.”
“I shouldn’t let you in at all after the stunt you pulled the other night. Didn’t your mother teach you that it’s rude to barge your way into a lady’s room? Luckily for you, I hate to lose a customer.”
I tried to push past him. “I’ll be quick,” I said.
“Just a minute pal. Miss T isn’t here tonight.”
“Perhaps you can help. You manage this place right?”
Dennis raised his dark eyebrows. “I shouldn’t be talking to the papers.”
“Have you seen the mayor around?”
He shrugged off my question. “You see all kinds of faces in a joint like this.”
“Surely you would know the mayor of the city when you saw him,” I pushed.
Dennis’ expression softened. “When the lights go down they all look the same,” he said.
I stood my ground, refusing to be brushed off.
“I get it. You need to be quiet around here. I don’t want to cause anyone unnecessary hassle so the quicker I get some answers the sooner I can leave you to carry on doing whatever it is you do here.”
Dennis’ dark eyes widened. “You must have a death wish.”
“Why would you say that?”
“You say you don’t want to step on any toes and you have no idea just whose toes you are talking about. Let’s not stand around here talking about it though. Come in.”
The club seemed surreal lying empty. It was like the life had been drained from it.
“You have no idea the shit storm that would fall on me for talking to a reporter. Besides, Tabitha knows more than I do,” Dennis continued.
“Is this club hiding the mayor?” I asked.
Dennis laughed. “Not quite.”
“There is a connection here. It’s going to come out one way or another.”
“Don’t let the Knock, Knock club fool you. I mean I love the old girl like my own but she doesn’t look like much on the surface. Still you don’t want yourself caught up in what’s going on here.”
“So what is this about then?”
“We do whatever it takes to survive,” said Dennis matter-of-factly.
I knew times were desperate for the people of the city, but the way Dennis said it seemed as though there was more to it than that.
“I can keep your name off record if you tell me what you know,” I suggested.
Dennis shrugged his shoulders, unmoved. “It wouldn’t matter. You have no idea what they are capable of doing and how high this goes. You would be dead before anything got to print.”
It wasn’t the first time someone had threatened me to stay away from a story. It just made me bite down harder. Before it all got out of hand I admit I did think this was going to make one hell of a story.
I followed Dennis across the club. His lean frame was much taller than mine. He strode confidently with long legs. An older woman stopped him. She was dressed in a black dress and her raven hair was pulled severely back. She was the matron of the dancing girls and she had been an employee of the club since before Tabitha’s time. Her face was so thick with make-up it almost looked like a mud mask.
“She’s on the phone again,” she whined.
Dennis shook her off. “Not now Bette. Can’t you see I’m busy?”
Bette was relentless. She continued pleading her case. “If your little whore is going to keep calling here I’m telling the Boss Lady.”
Dennis gripped both of her shoulders. He was clearly frustrated but he still spoke in a calm tone. “Listen, why don’t you tell T all about it when she gets back.”
Bette must have decided that it wasn’t such a great idea. Her expression changed from sour to fear.
“She just needs help okay. I’ll deal with it,” Dennis groaned.
Without another word the girl dashed off towards backstage. Dennis flashed me a charming smile.
He showed me to an empty room that appeared to be having some work done. He pointed over to the bar where Lisa – the blonde serving girl I met before – was playing a game on her phone. She looked up and beamed her pretty and engaging smile.
“I’ve gotta go,” Dennis said. “Tabitha told me to give you a drink and send you packing if you stopped by. I highly recommend you not be here when she returns pal.”
Dennis was ensnared by the club. If Tabitha wasn’t around I thought there was no point in me being there. I had hoped to nosey around but since there were few people in the club at that time I wouldn’t go unnoticed. By the sounds of how tightly Tabitha kept a hold on things, I doubted anyone would be willing to talk to me anyway. I could only count on Dennis’ support so far and that wasn’t much.
Lisa dropped her phone and hopped behind the bar.
“Nice to see you again sweetie,” she said.
Dennis nodded to her and disappeared deeper into the club to deal with the drama on the telephone. Lisa filled a glass with clear liquid.
Lisa is one of the smiling faces to greet at the Knock Knock club.
“How long have you worked here?” I asked.
“Oh long enough,” she replied.
“Do you like it?”
She shrugged her shoulders and giggled. “It pays the bills.”
I lifted the glass and sniffed it. There was no real detectable scent.
“What is this?” I asked.
Lisa tipped a wink and beamed. “It’s on the house is what it is honey. We don’t give much away for free in here you know. You may as well take it whilst it’s going.”
She was right about that.
I took the glass and gulped the liquid down. It did taste like very dry gin with little life left in it.
Lisa waved me off.
“Bye bye!” She called. “Come back later when we’re open. It’s sure to be a real hoot.”
Tabitha clearly hadn’t told her what I was.
The drink rested warm in my belly. As I left the club behind me and made my way from the ominous dark alley to the bright lights of the street I actually started to feel quite giddy. By the time I reached my home the giddiness had given way to haziness.
I fell in the door, barely able to hold myself upright. Theresa was home. I hadn’t expected her. Before I could question her I felt myself fall over. The last thing I remembered as my vision clouded was her terrified expression as she looked down at me.
The next morning, I awoke to a thundering headache. My mouth was filled with cotton. Slowly I came back from the land of nod into the land of reality. The questions that plague us every morning queued up like always. ‘Where am I? What has happened?’ I realised quickly that I was at home in my own bed. The sun was streaming through the window so I guessed it was around noon. As I turned I felt a heavy object beside me. The haze in my eyes cleared. I felt Theresa beside me. I shivered.
“I don’t know what happened last night,” I said. “I must have had way more than I should have.”
Theresa didn’t respond.
I looked beside me and that’s when I saw her. Stone cold dead. A bullet wound from an expert shot in her forehead.
#amreading the #thriller #graphicnovel #knockknock by @VivikaWidow
“What is it?” he asked eagerly. “Tell me!” Charlie urged.
“I am a witch.” said Aunt Trudy softly and slowly.
Charlie’s eyes lit with joy. He had always known there was something unusual about his lovable aunt. “Does that mean I’m a witch too?” he asked excitedly.
“Don’t be stupid boy,” said Trudy. Charlie’s hopes were dashed in an instant. When Trudy saw his sad little face she continued, “Being a witch takes years of practice. I will show you but in the meantime … What to do about those bullies…” her voice trailed off as she heaved a heavy, dusty, green leather bound book, slammed it on the table and proceeded to unbuckle the golden clip that held the book closed. Dust flew from the pages as they were turned. Aunt Trudy ran her finger slowly over the hand written words. The writing was so scribbled and hurried it was difficult to read.
“Aha!” announced Aunt Trudy in triumph disturbing their quiet contemplation. “This ought to do the trick!”
Aunt Trudy’s first spell: Removing an enemies voice
With lizard tails,
And an old woman’s nails,
Take a frog and a pot of snails.
Mush them together in one big stew,
Add a drop of blood but it must be new,
Along with rat tails, not one but two.
Give to your enemy; they must drink it fast,
Every single drop or the effects won’t last,
Now they won’t say a word until you ask.
“Lucky we have all the ingredients right here,” said Aunt Trudy cheerfully pulling bottles from the shelf. Charlie picked up a jar labelled ‘pickled raven’s claw’. He opened the lid and brought the jar to his nose. Aunt Trudy snatched it back from him. “Don’t sniff that, not unless you want a pig snout,” she warned.
“I’m not sure about this,” the nephew said hesitantly.
Aunt Trudy began pouring the ingredients into a black ceramic bowl. The contents were bubbling, mixing together to form an orange paste. “Don’t be silly, that bully will learn.” There was a crazed look in Aunt Trudy’s eyes that Charlie didn’t like one bit.
Charlie asked “Will they get hurt?”
“Not unless you want them to.” Aunt Trudy took the bowl, held it high above her head and whispered the magic words. “Munchlum Doodledum Frooglepop.”
She took some to their garden, Charlie followed. The neighbours’ dog, Benny, had managed to climb onto their grass again ruining Aunt Trudy’s vegetable patch and leaving canine deposits everywhere. Benny was yapping uncontrollably.
“What are you doing?” the little boy asked when he noticed his aunt staring at the dog.
Aunt Trudy held the bowl out in front of her. “First rule of witchcraft Charlie, take out the neighbour’s pesky pet.” Benny was wagging his tail eagerly and still yapping. Trudy lowered the bowl to him and he took several large gulps not stopping to sniff. He started yapping again. Charlie folded his arms across his chest in disappointment. “Give it a moment,” Trudy said. They both watched the dog. Suddenly Benny’s voice was lost. His horrid screeching bark became silent. His jaws were open and his lungs were pushing but no sound came out. “I do that when I want to shut that thing up,” said the aunt. “Now you know how it works, give it to your bully.”