With it’s prime location in City Main, the Faulds building is one of the most luxurious residences in Coldford. It is a stately abode, the penthouse of which is where the Penn family call home, fitting for the so called royals of Main.
It was first established centuries ago by the Marquis Phillipe de Penn who was granted lands by King James the first. Since then the tower has held strong. It is a symbol of privilege and power. More than that, it is a family home where you will find lots of images and family mementos.
Whilst the building is incredibly secure, being able to infiltrate it could spell disaster for the Auction House dynasty. The generations of Penns who have lived there have it’s protection a priority. If troubles in Coldford City were to fall into Main, the hold of Faulds would become crucial.
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Occupation: Legal representative of Penn Auction Houses
Having lived his life in the country of Luen, Jean Luc has a different view of Coldford City from his cousins. He holds the Penn name as one to be respected and can be ruthless in making sure this happens. He is a legal mind with specialist study in international relations. He is a charismatic, intelligent man with a natural pomposity that can often make him seem like a fish out of water in Coldford City’s notorious City Main.
He was one of the most trusted advisers to his cousin, REGINALD PENN. Early in his reign as the thuggish King of Main, Reginald had Jean Luc by his side as an enforcer of sorts. Reginald eventually asked him to take up the study of law. Jean Luc aquiesced to this request. Reginald told him it was because he was book smart and he needed ones he could trust to help with legalities but the truth was Reginald hadn’t liked what the violence was doing to his cousin. He wanted to spare him from that as much as possible.
They call them the Loyalists from the Loyal of Luen who came with the Penns generations previous. Loyality therefore is held as an important trait. Jean Luc is fiercely loyal to his family name and shrewd in his protection of them. Coldford will be an awakening for him as he comes to terms with life in the Shady City.
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The Penn triplets were high on the Judge’s list. The only thing higher was their father. As the Shady City darkened, I was conscious of what was to come next. They say omens come in threes. Marcus – taken for the murder of Court Clerk Melanie Wallace – had already had his chance. He had been found guilty. Murder in the first degree would keep him behind the bars of The Boss for a long time. The video evidence I had provided was what confirmed that fate.
Then there was Simon. They called him ‘Punchline Penn’. When he crippled the Bournton Blizzard no one saw the humour in the joke. Anger issues, middle child anxiety despite being born on the same day as his identical brothers. Assault was what confined him to The Boss and would continue to do so for the time being.
Then there was Reggie, the baby of the group. His experience of life was unlike his brothers. He was privileged and over indulged by mother, Rita Penn, but there was something that set Reggie aside. He had the Penn penchant for violence. He also had a softness and curiosity to his nature. That didn’t matter. In the Shady City innocence was a difficult scale to comprehend. Who was innocent? I myself couldn’t claim that. Without his brothers though, Reggie Penn was in a tight spot. Like the rats he was fond of keeping, he would have to squeeze through.
City Main – the busiest part of Coldford – stood silent. Sure, there was the noise of the traffic and the movement of people but there was a calmness, like that after a storm. The closed sign on the Auction House highlighted the wreckage left behind. I drew out my phone and began to take photographs. It wasn’t quite the aftermath yet. I could see bailiffs moving around behind the gates, taking note of everything from antique earrings to large pieces of furniture. Reginald Penn wouldn’t be returning to his castle any time soon. He and Paddy Mack were still combining efforts to flush Kappa So out of Coldford.
“It’s quite sad, isn’t it?” a woman stopped.
I smiled in agreement and took another photograph.
“I’ve known those boys since they were little. Rita Penn will be so upset.”
City Main people were always keen to talk and swap stories.
“Did you see the seizure take place?” I asked her.
“I saw them take two of the triplets away. I guess if you live by the sword you die by it. I blame Reginald. He raised those boys to be thugs. It was only a matter of time before they ended up in jail.”
I couldn’t disagree with that. I had witnessed first-hand what Marcus Penn was capable of and I had seen what Simon had done to Reynolds.
“Would you give a statement?” I asked her.
The woman’s interest ignited. “You’re a reporter? Which paper?”
“Independent for now,” I explained.
She turned her face towards the natural light of the midday sun. “On camera?”
“If you don’t mind,” I urged.
She smiled and waited as I held my phone.
“Go ahead,” I said. “When you’re ready.”
“I had been walking by. I had some bags from Harvesters, just down there.” Here she pointed towards the City Main Harvesters store. “I heard one of the boys shouting. He was complaining to CPD. The police were taking him and his brother away. They had Marcus, the one with the glasses. The other was Reggie. He was doing the screaming. He was yelling merry hell at CPD, at everyone. I don’t know what they were being taken in for but I can only imagine.”
My old sources at The Boss informed me that Marcus and Simon had arrived, been given their induction and now began their time but there was no Reggie. Two out of three was not bad results but if he wasn’t with his brothers it meant he had either slipped CPD custody or had been taken somewhere else entirely.
“Were the two triplets put in the same van?” I asked the woman.
“No,” she said. “They split them up. Marcus was taken in CPD transport. Reggie was put in a black van.”
Reggie Penn was lost. He was in a part of the city he didn’t know so he was physically lost. His triplet brothers were in The Boss so he was emotionally lost. He was…lost. It frustrated the hell out of him. Normally he’d be reliant on Marcus’ guidance but he wasn’t around. Simon would be second to step in but they had already picked him up when they raided the Knock Knock Club. Reggie had assumed they would put him in The Boss along with his brothers. He could handle that. It would only be a matter of time before their father, Reginald, would have them out again anyway. He wasn’t going to make a fuss as they removed them from their family’s Auction House. He was taking Marcus’ lead. The eldest triplet by a few minutes coolly followed the agents and accepted their custody, saying very little. Marcus was never one for much emotion showing. Reggie had planned on doing the same but when the CPD officers started to handle him roughly he became annoyed.
“You guys got a gaming room at The Boss?” asked Reggie with some sarcasm, a little genuine wonderment.
“A gaming room?” the officer asked. “Will you listen to this one?” he put to his partner.
“I got some mad skills,” Reggie insisted with a grin. Marcus could show the officers they hadn’t broken him without uttering a word but Reggie couldn’t. He had to let them know.
“Reggie!” Marcus barked. “Stop.”
City Main was at its busiest. Reggie was sure the officers were deliberately making a show of him. They called the Penn triplets the Princes of Main, their father being the King. They were well known in the area and seeing two of them being escorted from their kingdom in handcuffs sure drew attention. There was a mixture of fear and relief on the faces of passers-by. The Penn name was equally feared and respected. A woman in an expensive coat pushing a buggy stopped. She was staring. Separated from his brother and being pulled towards a waiting task force van, Reggie stared back.
“Got a good look?” Reggie asked her. “Fuck off!” he warned.
“Reggie!” Marcus barked again.
“They’re deliberately making a show of this,” complained the youngest triplet.
More distance had been put between him and his brother. Marcus was being pushed into the back of a CPD prison van. It wasn’t black like the one they were taking Reggie to.
“Keep your mouth shut or I break your fucking knees,” one of the CPD officers warned him.
Reggie sighed, not caring for the warning. “Just get us to The Boss already.”
The officer tightened his clutch on his arm. “You think that’s where you’re going?”
Reggie frowned. “What’s he talking about?” he asked the other officer who was carrying out his duty quietly.
“Marcus?” he called to his brother. “What’s he talking about?”
It was too late. Marcus had been put inside the van. Reggie Penn was on his own.
With the Penns in custody the officers had no need to heed any warning from any of them.
“You ain’t going to The Boss,” the officer hissed in his ear with delight. “You ain’t even going to CPD holding.”
Reggie tried to shrug free. With Marcus now out of sight he felt so much more vulnerable. He no longer paid attention to the City Main crowds that were still passing.
“Where are you taking me?”
The CPD officer laughed. “We’ve got an appointment for you with the doc. You’re going to Harbour House.”
Reggie screamed, “No! You can’t take me there. I’m not a fucking druggy. You can’t take me there.”
The CPD officer laughed. “They’re going to dope you up so badly you’ll spend the rest of your life flicking your dick wondering what day it is.”
Reggie screamed again and tried to pull free but the CPD officer drew a taser from his belt and pressed it into his kidney.
“Paulson!” barked a woman. Her challenge made the officer stop dead. His partner maintained his hold on the prisoner but still said nothing.
The woman was Agent Kim Adams. It had been her team that had led the raid on the Knock Knock Club and subsequently brought in the triplets.
“They can’t take me to Harbour House. I’m not going to Harbour House. I should be with my brothers,” Reggie protested. Kim kept her focus on her CPD support.
“We want this done cleanly and as quickly as possible. If I find you deliberately antagonising him again, I will pull you and bring you up on charges. Do you hear me?” she asked.
Paulson lowered his head but his grip on Reggie tightened.
Reggie didn’t expect much sympathy from Kim. She didn’t seem to be holding any personal grudges though. She just wanted to get all three little piggies safely into their houses by order of the big bad wolf, Judge Karyn Doyle.
There was no evidence against Reggie. That’s not to say he was innocent. He had helped Tabitha and his brothers orchestrate the rape and deliberate infection with HIV of club manager, Dennis Platt. That was just his most recent crime. There was nothing that would hold him though. There was no evidence against him but Judge Doyle was determined to complete the entire set.
Diagnosis of Conduct Disorder in his youth was a good place to begin. He was always deliberately violating social norms and the rights of others. With some manias thrown in for good measure, drug addiction, the obsession with keeping rats and the violence he was exposed to through his family name made him a perfect candidate for rehabilitation at the dock side clinic known as Harbour House.
“Not a psychiatric unit,” facility owner Dr Winslow was always careful to remind the public. “A rehabilitation centre for all manner of ailments.”
Reggie’s diagnosis was served up to Doyle on a plate and she wolfed down every last crumb. It wasn’t The Boss, but it would be better in a lot of ways. With the right treatment on hand, they could hold him more steadfastly and longer than the prison should that be her whim. No trial necessary.
Lock him away boys. Drug him up and keep a check on the vitals. The doctor said so.
Even though the eminent Dr Winslow was a good friend of his mother, Reggie was guaranteed nothing and the idea of being hospitalised – possibly for life – was a terrifying prospect.
He was pushed inside the task force van, trapped in a cage like one of his rats.
It shouldn’t have taken so long for them to get to Harbour House from City Main if they took the east bypass to the south east where Chamberlain Docks lay. Some work was being carried out on the Fullerton Bridge so the transport was diverted through the west instead. They made their way to the Shanties where they could use the south bypass instead.
Reggie tried to stay calm but all he could think of was who would take care of his rats. They were his pets. They knew him. If anyone else tried to handle them they would probably become irate. They would probably bite. Mother didn’t like them very much. She wasn’t a fan of rodents. What if they bit mother? He didn’t need Harbour House. He didn’t need rehab. He wasn’t a Shanties shooter. If they weren’t putting him in The Boss with his brothers then why weren’t they just letting him go?
The van rumbled to a stop. Reggie waited. He could hear the van doors open. It fell silent for a while. The other door opened. Before long the back doors opened and Reggie was exposed to the night air. A lone officer beckoned him forward.
“Hurry,” he said.
Reggie stood and went to the door hesitantly, waiting for the joke’s punchline to fall. They weren’t at Harbour House. They weren’t even at Chamberlain Docks. They weren’t even in Swantin. They had only gotten as far as the lower reaches of the Shanties. The officer helped Reggie out of the van and uncuffed him.
“What are you doing?” the Penn triplet asked.
The officer spoke low. “He’s gone for a piss,” he said. “Now’s your chance.”
Reggie rubbed the ache from his wrists. “You’re letting me go?”
“For the king,” he said. “Now run.”
“Hey!” Officer Paulson yelled, returning from relieving himself.
Reggie took to his heels just as a gun cracked into the darkening night air. Paulson had been shot dead. Reggie started to run towards the Knock Knock Club. No, he couldn’t go there. The Law Makers had the Knock Knock in their grasp. He turned towards City Main. He couldn’t go there either. Without his dad or his brothers, his kingdom was no longer safe. There was only one other option. The Shanties opened up to the south east entrance of Coldridge Park.
He planned to head out to Seaton in the mideast. Perhaps he could find some help there. Knock Knock owner Agnes – Tabby’s aunt Aggie – had a house there. If Knock Knock was shut down that’s where they she would be.
He managed to catch his breath. He walked a little slower so as not to seem out of place. The park stretched the entire length of the city. He wasn’t sure whether he was heading north or east he just followed the path to what he thought was the centre. For all he knew he could be walking right back into the hands of CPD custody. He had only the black t shirt he had been wearing when the Auction House was raided. The air was starting to nip as it darkened. He rubbed warmth back into his bare arms.
“Fuck it’s cold,” he mumbled to himself.
There was a bonfire lit not too far off. A couple of men in tatty clothes were warming themselves around it. They looked up as he drew nearer.
“You’re all right,” one said. He was old, bearded, black teeth. “You can warm yourself if you want.”
Reggie joined them, grateful for the warmth as the flames of the fire licked onto his face.
“Where you from, kid?” asked the other.
“City Main,” he said. “What about you? Where do you stay?”
The men laughed at the innocence of the question. “You’re in our home, boy,” the bearded one explained.
“Welcome to Hobo Hotel,” cheered the second. He was black, about mid-fifties and waving a cheap bottle of wine. “It’s damp, it’s cold but it’s free,” he grinned. “And a’body welcome.”
Reggie reached his hands out to the flames. “Why don’t you have homes?” he asked.
They both looked at each other and laughed.
“You really are a City Main boy, aren’t you?” the black man said as he passed the wine to his companion.
“We’ve all got our stories. Booze mostly,” he explained before taking his own taste of the wine. “I’m Chuck. This is Carl.”
Carl grinned. He was quite a warm spirited character despite his circumstances. His Great States accent told that he had travelled a far way to be homeless.
“I meant why aren’t you in the shelters. I thought the Knock Knock Club was helping.”
Carl nodded. “They were. We had a nice little bed each but the place had to be shut down when the club went. We had nowhere else to go.”
Carl reached into his sleeping bag and removed a smelly old jacket and a beanie hat. “It’s not much but it’s going to get cold so you had better wrap up.”
Reggie pulled on the coat and hat. He took the bottle. The wine tasted like vinegar but the burning in his stomach was welcomed.
“Do either of you have a phone?”
Chuck and Carl both laughed again. “Sorry, son,” said Chuck. “We don’t stay connected. We’re old school here. Real old school.”
It was Carl’s turn for the bottle. “So, what brings a City Main boy down here to warm himself with us?”
Before Reggie could answer two park ranger officers approached them.
“Don’t hassle us,” complained Carl. “Don’t you think we got it bad enough? We’re just trying to warm ourselves here.”
The first officer looked at Reggie. Having pulled the hat over his head and in Chuck’s jacket he wasn’t instantly recognisable. He kept his head lowered.
“We’re looking for someone. He escaped custody earlier. He is early twenties, dangerous.”
Carl pulled the attention from the Penn triplet.
“Us three have been here all night and we ain’t seen nothin’. We heard some shootin’ though. Maybe you should go check that out.”
“What’s your name?” the officer asked Reggie.
Reggie kept his gaze lowered.
“That’s Pete. Pete Grove,” said Chuck answering for him. “You might recognise him from that old chocolate advert he did as a kid. Have you heard of him? He does great impersonations.”
The officer frowned. “I can’t say I have.”
“You’re a film star?” the other officer asked Reggie, obviously not convinced.
“Not any more ,” Chuck answered for him. “After he broke onto the scene as a kid in those adverts, he was everywhere. That’s what they do though. They use you up and throw you away. Been with us a couple of years now, ain’t ye Pete?”
Reggie nodded tentatively, trying not to look at the ranger directly.
The second circled in on Reggie. “You do impersonations? Let’s see then.”
Reggie stared back. He could run but it seemed unfair to leave his new friends behind when they had been so welcoming. He had to think fast. He pursed his lips, furrowed his brow, glared at the officer and said, “I need a good shag to put a smile on my face because I’m Judge fucking Doyle.”
It was the first person he had been thinking of. It was probably unwise to mock her but his impression had actually captured the essence of Karyn Doyle so well Chuck and Carl were rolling with laughter. Even the first ranger cracked a smile. It seemed to make the other angry though. Mentioning Judge Doyle reminded him that CPD had allowed a valuable asset to escape and now an officer was dead. If they didn’t bring the situation in hand soon the Judge would feel compelled to correct it herself and none of them wanted that.
Rangers on the other side of the park called to them, seemingly having found a trace of the missing triplet leading them elsewhere.
“Take it easy,” warned the other ranger.
The walkie talkie of the second ranger buzzed. It seemed they had apprehended Reggie’s noble rescuer. They rushed off to see what the dirty Loyalist scum had to say for himself.
“You’re not dangerous, are you Pete?” Carl asked when they were alone.
“Lock him away. He’s a danger to himself and others,” Reggie continued in his Judge Doyle impression.
Chuck wiped a tear of laughter from under his eye. “You had better stay with us for a little while,” he suggested. “They’re going to be everywhere soon.”
“I’m…” Reggie started to explain.
Chuck stopped him. “I didn’t ask and it’s none of my business. To us you’re Pete.”
“The way I see it,” Carl put in, “we help out a City Main boy, we got good things coming to us.”
That had been a few weeks ago but rather than things easing off they tightened even further. A group came one night and roughed them up. Reggie fought them off as best he could but there were too many of them. They weren’t CPD.
Reggie had been sat on a bench one afternoon beside a woman. She was smoking a cigarette, busy reading the newsfeed on her phone – celebrity gossip rather than real news. Apparently, actor Laurence DuBoe was linked to an affair with his soap opera co-star Scarlett. Reggie sniffed the tobacco. Chuck and Carl had showed him how to collect discarded cigarette ends and make whole cigarettes out of them but it wasn’t really the same.
“Can I have a cigarette?” he asked the woman. “I ain’t had a proper one in weeks.”
The woman looked at him. His filthy hat, his filthy jacket, his smell. The woman hoped to get rid of him as quickly as possible. She sniffed and tried to hide her disgust. She fetched the packet from her hand bag and passed it to him, along with a lighter.
She went back to her phone again. Reggie couldn’t remember any phone numbers off by heart. The line for the Auction House did ring in his mind but that would do no good. Suddenly it occurred to him where he could get some help.
“I couldn’t use your phone, could I? Just to send a quick message?”
The woman looked unsure. She was finding it harder to disguise her disgust. She was a little frightened now too. Wishing she had just walked off the moment he had sat down she reluctantly passed her phone. She had been robbed before. The CPD officer at the time had told her if it happened again not to argue. It put her life at risk.
He didn’t run away with the phone though. Instead, he scrolled onto her app store and started to download the Coby Games app. With the cigarette now between his lips he handed the phone back to her. “It needs your thumb print.”
The woman, still staring, pressed her thumb to the device and the app started to download. He logged into the Lonesome Nights game she had stopped her son from playing.
Reg 3 Online it confirmed.
He opened the chat log.
NEED HELP. CAN YOU MEET ME?
The message confirmed as sent. Read. A reply bubble popped up.
Cameron Doyle closed the game down. Mum and her Law Makers were looking for Reggie. Sure, Reggie was his friend but that didn’t matter. Mum still wanted to put him away. He could try and explain Reggie Penn to them but he feared that might make it worse.
He agreed to meet Reggie. He cut the chat off quickly and deleted the log. Mum had the habit of making checks on his browser history without notice. It didn’t matter that Cameron was a grown man of nineteen now. Whilst he lived under the roof of the old Doyle home it was her house and her rules.
He filled a bag with some non-perishable foods, some of his old shirts and an outdoors jacket he never used. He pulled on an old sports jacket and slipped the back pack onto his back. He had to pass through the main lounge where mum was to get to the front door. He took a deep breath and braced himself.
Mum was in her favourite arm chair by the fire. Shadows were cast across her pale face, highlighting her torn eye which she refused to cover. The cat, Margot, didn’t seem to sense the tension. She purred in mum’s lap. The Judge stroked the feline gently. Margot looked up at Cameron as he passed through but she quickly lost interest.
“Where are you going?” asked the Doyle matriarch.
Cameron stopped cold. He clutched the straps of his back pack.
“I’m just going to meet a friend,” he explained.
“Where?” she asked. “What is their name?”
Cameron lowered his head. “Jackson. You know Jackson. He has some new games he wants me to see.”
Doyle continued to stroke the cat but her view was firmly on her son.
“What’s in the back pack?”
Cameron swung the bag back over his shoulder and unzipped it. He pulled out a bag of Jolly Shopper corn chips.
“We might be a while so I thought I’d bring some snacks.”
Doyle narrowed her gaze.
“Fine but be home by midnight. I don’t want you wasting your whole evening with junk food and video games.”
Cameron agreed, “Yes, mum.”
Cameron was glad to have escaped outside and feel the cobbled stones of the Kingsgate streets under foot. Kingsgate was a small part of town. It was also the oldest section of Coldford. Wrought iron fences surrounded a central garden where mum jogged most mornings.
A tall man stood by the Kingsgate entrance sign. A beanie hat covered his head. He was filthy and malnourished but Cameron recognised him as Reggie Penn from the Auction House that his mum had closed down.
“Reggie?” he enquired delicately to make sure.
They had been online gaming buddies for years but had never met in person. Reggie looked up and a look of relief washed over his face.
“Cam? Good to meet you finally.”
Cameron was nervous. He heard a car move on the opposite end of the gardens. “You can’t hang about here. My mum is looking for you. Everyone is looking for you. My mum will have you taken in.”
Reggie had walked into the lion’s den but where else was he going to go?
“I have to go to The Boss,” he told his gaming friend.
Cameron frowned. “Why would you go there?”
Reggie shrugged. “It’s where my brothers are. I need to get to them.”
Cameron passed him the provisions he had collected.
“There’s some food in there and bottles of water, some clothes and a tent too. It’s just a fishing tent but it it’s a start.”
“Thanks,” said Reggie gratefully. “You’re a true pal. Do you know where the bus station is? I need to get to Bournton.”
With both of them being accustomed to being chauffeured everywhere, the bus transport system of Coldford was a new experience for them.
“I have to be back by midnight,” Cameron warned.
The two wandered off in the direction of Kingsgate bus station.
Kingsgate bus station was small, but clean and well lit. it was tucked away at the far end of Kingsgate Main Street. A few spaces for buses and a small stand serving coffees was what was on offer. Reggie stopped to look at a schedule pinned to the wall.
“Was this written by fucking scientists? Does this make any sense to you?”
Cameron took a look too but from what he could tell the route was going the wrong way.
Frustrated Reggie turned away. “Maybe I could get someone to explain it,” the triplet decided. “0800. Does that mean when it leaves or when it gets here?”
Cameron could only shrug. He snatched Reggie’s arm though to stop him approaching a member of staff. “We can’t draw attention. If anyone recognises me here, they might tell my mum. They’ll recognise you too and if she learns I was here with you…”
A coach wheezed into station point 3. On its windscreen it read BOURNTON.
“That one,” Reggie pointed. “Maybe that’s it.”
When the last of the impatient passengers alighted, Reggie called up to the driver from the bottom steps.
“Are you going to The Boss?”
The driver looked perplexed. “The Boss?”
“Yeah, you know, Coldford Correctional?”
“I know what The Boss is,” replied the driver testily.
Reggie turned to Cameron. “Is he serious? If he knows what I’m talking about why the fuck is he looking at me like I’m crazy?”
Cameron shook his head.
“I go as far as Bournton Main Street. You’ll see The Boss from there. You can’t miss it,” the driver explained.
Reggie enquired, “How much?”
“Is it a return?”
The driver rolled his eyes. “Are you planning on coming back? Today? Tomorrow? Next month? After a ten year stretch?”
“I’m visiting my brothers. I don’t know when I’ll be back,” said Reggie.
“Of course you are,” the driver sighed. “It’s 10.99 one way.”
Both young men were used to automatically being extended credit wherever they went. Again, it was an alien concept to them.
“Shit!” Reggie fished into his pocket and drew out a handful of coins. His long fingers filtered through them.
“I got 5.20. Cam, what you got? Oh wait, 5.21.”
Cameron produced a Coby Games themed wallet. “I only got five,” he said. He looked in his wallet. “Oh wait, ten. Here.”
He gave Reggie the ten. Neither of them noticed the Bus Driver shake his head in exasperation.
Reggie hugged Cameron again. “Thanks. Your a real good mate. I’ll owe you.”
“Hop on,” the driver instructed.
“Will you let me know when we’re in Bournton?” Reggie requested. He had never been in the northern town before.
The driver positioned himself at the wheel. “Oh, you’ll know when we’re there,” he said.
With a hiss the bus doors closed. Reggie Penn was heading to The Boss after all.
#amreading #knockknock #graphicnovel series by @VivikaWidow
Coldford Veterinary clinic was the busiest new recruit Alex Ferrald had ever known it. Fresh out of Vet School Alex found himself thrown in the deep end. He had just sent Mrs Rowsely home with her boxer dog in a fresh cast. The appropriately named Fussy just couldn’t stay out of oncoming traffic. Luckily it had been a bike that had hit him this time and not a car. “You really should keep him on a leash,” Alex warned her. As he leaned over to check the cast Fussy licked him. He could feel Mrs Rowsely’s stare so he kept his head down. When she was gone Alex gave a sigh of relief and dropped himself into the plastic clinic room chair. He looked at the clock. Appointments had been cleared for the next couple of hours but just as he began to contemplate the tuna fish sandwich he had packed into his bag the vet nurse Kayleigh opened the door. “We’ve got an emergency, Mr Ferrald. All the other vets are busy. Can you take it?” The girl in his room made him bashful – more reluctant than under the glare of Mrs Rowsely. “The name?” “Penn,” she explained. “Penn? As in the PENN AUCTION HOUSE? Is it Rita?” He asked. The family were well known. Rita being the mother and her triplet sons being the main rulers of City Main. “Reggie,” Kayleigh confirmed. “One of the triplets.” “I … errr … “ stammered Alex. “What’s the animal?” “Rats. Two of them. He’s already filled in the paperwork. “You better send them in then,” Alex resolved taking a deep breath. “I’ll have a look.” Just as Kayleigh cleared the entrance her petite frame and braces, laced smile was replaced by a much larger, looming presence with a mop of blonde hair, dressed all in black. The Penn triplets had a reputation. Most people in the Shady City knew them. Violent, wild, respected. Their reputation had been passed down from their father – Reginald – the so called King of City Main. So when Reggie pushed a carrier holding two fat rats into Alex’s arms the mild mannered vet was taken aback. “Can you help them doctor?” He asked. “Some low life fucker has given them poison.” Alex was thinking vets aren’t generally titled doctor but who was he to correct one of the triplets? He opened the carry case. One was darker than the other. One was still on it’s feet, sniffing the air. The other lay down breathing harshly. Both were clean. “Are they pets?” REGGIE frowned. “What else would they be?” Alex focused on the sicker of the two rodents. “I just mean … erm … where would they have come into contact with poison? Do you know what kind of poison it was?” “Some fucking scumbag playing silly beggars. I keep them at the warehouse normally. It was broken into. They only got as far as those two. Sick fuck …” Alex handled the sick rat softly. He turned it in his freshly gloved hands. “Do you have some time to wait? I’ll put them on an IV and I can give them a transfusion and see how it goes.” Reggie was smiling but to the rat rather than the vet. He looked up and when he noticed Alex was watching him he confirmed. “That one’s name is Smash.” “After the lonesome nights character?” Alex responded without thinking. Lonesome Nights was an online video game his artist friend, David Finn, had introduced him to. It involved hunting prostitutes and stealing cars. Whilst Alex found the idea of theft and prostitution distasteful there was something quite therapeutic about wandering aimlessly around the virtual city. The latest release from Coby Games had made it look a lot like Coldford. “You play?” Reggie asked as he anxiously watched Alex take blood from Smash and lay him gently in a cage. “A little,” Alex replied as he opened the carrier for the second rodent. The second rat still had the energy to run and made a break for it the moment the door was opened. SLAM! Reggie’s palm clashed on the table catching the rat by the tail. He pulled it back and clutched it by the body. “This one is Jacket. You see how his fur is a little darker around the top of his body? It looks like he’s wearing a jacket. I never used to name them. It was easier when they didn’t have names.” “Uh Huh,” Alex replied, unsettled. He took the more boisterous rat and extracted blood as quickly as he could. “I’ll have the bloods checked so we can know what type of poison it was. I’ll put them on a drip in the meantime and see how the fair.” “Thanks doctor,” Reggie replied with genuine gratitude. “Errr,” Alex averted his gaze. “I’ll have to give them a few hours at least. I can call you when I know more.” Alex felt a tremble as Reggie brushed the mass of blonde curls back from his face and looked behind him with a cool stare. “Take care of them. The girl at the desk has my number.” He drew his phone from his back pocket and busied himself with a text message as he left the room. When alone with the rats Alex gave another sigh. This time it wasn’t relief. Jacket seemed fine. Alex was confident with some treatment he could go home. Smash on the other hand was sniffing very closely to that eternal rat trap. Could timid Alex really be the one to tell one of the Penn triplets he had lost their precious pet under his care?
“They back doctor?” Reggie Penn came bounding in the following morning. For the third time Alex resisted the urge to correct the towering presence of the youngest triplet. He had called the clinic three times the previous afternoon to check up on his rats. He finally gave up when he spoke to Alex himself who explained he was going to keep them overnight for further observation but both (thankfully Smash took a turn for the better) were fine and looking well. Alex laid the carrier on the examination table. Both rats were squeaking with delight. The vet was glad to have them off his hands. He thought Reggie would have taken the carrier but instead he opened it up and plunged his long fingers and drew the rat out. He sat Jacket on his shoulder and held Smash out in front of him. “I thought you were a goner,” he cheered, tickling the rats twitching nose. When he noticed Alex was watching him the vet averted his gaze. “Luckily the rodenticide used was slow acting. I gave a few transfusions for Smash to flush out the poison and one for Jacket to be safe,” explained the vet. “Slow acting, huh?” Reggie kept his focus on the rats. “I’ll give you some Vitamin K1. Keep giving them that for the next month and they should be fine.” Reggie put them back in their carrier. His phone bleeped again. He pulled it from the back pocket of his black jeans, checked it and stored it away again. “I really owe you.” Alex’s eyes widened. “It’s just my job. No worries.” He took a deep breath. “Happy to help.” The last thing. He wanted was to have a Penn indebted to him.
By the time Alex got home he was looking forward to washing off the day. “Alex! Wait up!” Alex turned. His chest tightened as he caught sight of blonde hair. Luckily it wasn’t a Penn. It was the unkempt bleached hair of his friend, DAVID FINN. “Thank God it’s you,” Alex gasped. David narrowed his gaze. “Who else would it be?” I had one of the Penns in my clinic today. David asked, “which one?” “Reggie. The one with all the rats.” “I bet that was an experience,” David jested as they slowly started to climb the steps. The Penn Auction House had shown some interest in David’s work. The sent one of their acquisitions agents to liaise with the Harper Dalway gallery that held most of David’s pieces but he hadn’t met the triplets personally. “Luckily I managed to save the rats.” David laughed. “That’s good. You might have ended up in one of the cages.” He stuck his tongue out and made a comical imitation of a man dying. Alex punched his arm good naturedly. “It’s not funny,” he said but he was now laughing too. His phone beeped so he stopped on the steps to check it. It was a notification from the Lonesome Nights game. REG3 SENT YOU A FRIEND REQUEST. “Fuck!” Alex exclaimed. He showed David. David shrugged. “You better not ignore it. Do you want to have rats put up your arse?” Alex stared at him in horror. “True story, man,” the artist confirmed with a shrug. Alex accepted the request. Just has he made to store his phone away it beeped again. REG3 SENT YOU 5000 COINS Alex had been given a generous amount of credit to use within the game. A message followed. THANKS AGAIN DOCTOR. HAVE A GOOD QUALITY PROSTITUTE ON ME. David laughed more heartily when Alex showed him the new development. “Can you believe this?” Alex exclaimed. David grinned. “You should ask him for real money or a real prostitute.” The both continued joshing until entered Alex’s apartment. Alex’s mind turned back to why the rats had been poisoned in the first place. “Why would someone do that?” Alex wondered. David picked up the copy of the Coldford Daily the downstairs neighbour put through the door as she did every day when she had finished reading. “Those guys have enemies. People out there are sick.” Alex dropped into the sofa. “Well I hope it doesn’t happen again. I don’t think I’m cut out to be Reggie Penn’s personal vet.” David had been flicking through to the sports pages for the latest news on the Coldford Athletic football team when he stumbled on an article from Sam Crusow. “Well I don’t think they’ll be doing it again anyway.” He showed Alex the headline that caught his attention. MAN FOUND DEAD IN A NORTH SIDE LOCK UP. Coroner’s report confirms death by rat poison. Coincidence? Not very likely.
“I love you Dennis.” CHLOE wept. “I love you more than anything. I really do.”
“Sit down,” REGGIE PENN – the youngest of the Penn triplets – shoved her dismissively away. Her thin, little body was unable to hold up against his strength. She fell against the wall and slipped down onto her bottom, weeping. MARCUS – the eldest triplet by minutes – circled DENNIS like a hyena stalking its prey. Dennis should have known. Nowhere in the Shady City was safe from her. He had been so careful in hiding Chloe. One of the clients must have sung.
Chloe wasn’t a KNOCK KNOCK girl though. TABITHA shouldn’t have even known about her. Surely a stern warning for using the club as a venue for prostitution would be called for? A debt to pay for the money he had collected perhaps? Dennis wondered if they had found out he had spoken to me, a reporter. The Penns were only at two-thirds of their strength but the odds were still stacked in their favour.
“I’ll pay you half of anything I earned,” Dennis pleaded.
Reggie laughed. Marcus remained stoic. Reggie’s grin was sinister under a mop of blonde hair. Clearly he was high on something.
“Don’t hurt him. I liked doing it,” Chloe called out. “He wanted to make money and I wanted to make him happy.”
Marcus’ lips tightened. Reggie folded his arms. Dennis knew this wasn’t going to be a stern warning. Tabitha was sensitive on certain subjects. He should know that better than most.
“Pack him up for the AUCTION HOUSE,” was Marcus’ decision for Dennis. “The girl will come with us too.” Dennis’ chances of survival were becoming even more limited by the minute.
The room in the Auction House he had been taken to only offered one route of escape. The smell of the perfume Chloe had generously sprayed on (perfume Dennis had given her) masked the odour of damp rot from the old artifacts that would normally be kept there.
“C’mon guys. See sense in this. You’re businessmen. The girl told you she consented to it. She consented to all of it. I kept her safe. I’ll cut you in, all three of you.”
“You talk so much bullshit I can smell it on your breath you slithering cunt,” Reggie grinned. Marcus turned to him and with a gaze – no gesture or words – his brother fell silent.
“You are telling me that she consented to hundreds of men?” Marcus pressed.
“She was given her share,” Dennis replied.
Chloe pleaded, “I did it because I love him and I wanted him to be happy.”
Marcus ignored her. “You are telling me that she consented to being bound, beaten and left bloody?” He kept his steely stare focused on Dennis. Reggie loomed behind him.
“It was what the client wanted,” Dennis explained. Normally a man of silver-tongued words, they were falling flat for the former Knock Knock club manager.
“What about what she wanted? You took that choice away from her.”
Chloe leapt to her feet. “Please don’t hurt him!” She rushed at Reggie, her tiny fists pounded on his chest. He grabbed her narrow wrists.
“Would you look at this?!” he jested, shoving Chloe’s malnourished frame back into the chair again. She dropped her head into her hands and started to weep.
“You took that choice away from her,” Marcus repeated, “just like you took that choice away from all those other little girls.”
Dennis’ eyes widened. ‘Shit!’ he thought. They weren’t really there about prostituting Chloe after all. It was about his taste for young flesh. Underage flesh. Tabitha had been biding her time, torturing him. Finally, she was ready to deliver her punishment. It didn’t make any sense that she would leave it to the triplets though. She made Dennis her whipping boy years ago. Surely she would have wanted to be there for the finale. Without the bitch in the red dress pulling the strings of her triplet marionettes it seemed even more chilling, more uncertain.
“That hasn’t been an issue for a long time. I gave up everything. I gave up my family. Just ask the Boss Lady!”
Marcus flanked his right side. Dennis had a clear view of the doorway. He could take his chances and run for the door, but had he become so heartless and self-preserving that he would leave Chloe in the hands of the Penns? She was a victim as far as they were concerned. But if Dennis fled, who knows what they would do to deliver their own brand of justice.
“I’m giving you a choice. Life or death?” Marcus stated, his voice booming an echo against the old walls of the Auction House.
“Life, Dennis! Live with me,” Chloe screamed.
Reggie clasped her chin. His thick blonde hair concealed some of the spark behind his eyes. “If you don’t shut up and let us do our job, I’m going to cut him open from tit to toe.”
Reggie looked back at his brother. “She’s really grinding me. Her whining voice got on my last nerve about a half hour ago.”
“Let me go. I’ll go far away. You’ll never have to hear from me again. I’ll disappear,” Dennis put in.
Marcus needed confirmation. “So you are choosing life?”
Dennis hadn’t survived as long as he had without having his wits about him. He was shrewd enough to know that whatever the Penns had planned for him, death would be preferable. But he had his son, MILO, to think about. He hadn’t seen his boy in years. He would be so grown up by now. He wondered if the head of thick, dark hair he had been born with would have lightened or if it was still the same. OLIVIA, his ex wife, had wanted to change the world in her own little way, make it a better place. She thought she had been helping those little girls by bringing them into her home as a social worker. She didn’t know she had been bringing them into the clutches of a predator. Tabitha had been one of those girls. She had been the one to tame that predator, removing his sharp teeth and his appetite along with it.
“Life,” Dennis agreed.
Whatever horrors the triplets had to inflict would be nothing if it meant seeing Milo again. Marcus turned with raised eyebrows to Reggie. Reggie drew a phone from the back pocket of the black jeans he wore. He dialled. There were a few rings that seemed to echo the beat of Dennis’ heart. Ring ring, ring ring.
“We’re going to need Cathie down here. Dinner for two.”
“No!” Dennis cried out. “No, I changed my mind. I choose death. Please! I choose death!”
“Too late,” said Marcus simply.
With a whack Dennis was knocked out cold. When Dennis came to again they had stripped him naked. He tried to run towards Chloe who waited hysterically in the hall. They caught him and dragged him back.
“Reg?” Dennis tried the younger. “Please don’t do this.”
“One thing I’ve learned,” Reggie replied. “People suck. And you are dregs of them all.”
Abandoning reason due to the danger he was in, Dennis did try to run but like a rabbit caught in a trap there was no logic to his escape.
An excruciating hour later the security door buzzed. Reggie answered and allowed entry to a skeletally thin man who reached over six foot tall. He was the monster of a man they called Big Cathie. He was so called because of the catheter in his hand attached to a drip he pulled behind him.
He wasn’t long for the world. Cathie was an AIDS patient. He would be dead soon by some disease or other, but in the meantime the Knock Knock Club kept him in a life of luxury because they found him most useful. The HIV virus proved a useful tool in threatening enemies when they refused to cooperate, and when all else failed a way of inflicting a slow and painful death. There were treatments of course but the virus was still enough to elicit fear in the most stubborn.
Cathie was treated like a king on behalf of the HEADLINERS. In return he would oblige their wishes. Tabitha was a good woman as far as Cathie was concerned. Life had dealt him a harsh blow. He had two sons and a wife he would be leaving behind. His wife didn’t want to know him but he could at least provide something for the boys. Tabitha guaranteed that in exchange he would use his horrible virus to infect creeps like Dennis.
Cathie had only met the club manager once but his reputation preceded him.
“Little kids? That’s fucking disgusting,” Cathie had agreed. The Penns saw infection with HIV as something of poetic justice.
“Look guys. This is unnecessary. If the Boss Lady thought I was so dangerous she wouldn’t want me running around when I could infect young girls, would she?” Dennis played the only hand he had left.
“Are you saying that if we do this we won’t be teaching you a lesson?” Reggie put to him.
“It could make me dangerous,” stated Dennis.
Reggie brushed his hair back and grinned. “Who says we were going to let you go?”
Marcus gripped Dennis by the throat. “It’s a terrible thing, taking a young girl before her time. It can be painful for her but it is also damaging in ways that will never heal. Your filthy stench will gnaw at her for the rest of her life. So you are now going to sample at least some of the hurt you inflicted on those innocents. This virus will eat away at you. Just like those little girls now afraid of anyone touching them, you will feel what that is like as disease courses through your veins. When you stole the innocence of those little girls you gave them a life sentence. The virus is going to steal a little part of you away every minute of every day. What will kill you? Measles? Rubella? Common cold? Who knows? Maybe you will have some idea of the torture you have put your victims through. They will never get over what you did to them just as you will never recover and you will never come within sight of your little boy again.”
“C’mon Marcus. This is just a scare tactic. I submit okay. I submit!”
As Reggie spoke, Dennis heard Tabitha’s voice. “No scare tactic this time. So you can drop your pants and bend over or you can take that poisoned cock in your mouth. You see? Choices!”
“I know Tabitha is a spiteful bitch but please …”
Reggie pointed to Cathie’s flaccid penis. “You better get that thing fired up. This one is a wriggler.”
Dennis was laid across the table. Cathie hovered in the corner like the threat of a biblical play. Marcus set about securing Dennis to the spot. Reggie climbed up on the table and sat down.
“You see the game last week Cath?” He asked Cathie.
He was referring to a football match between Coldford City and the western town of Bellfield. The father of the triplets, Reginald, was proud owner of City and the Penn Auction House sponsored them.
“I didn’t watch the second half,” Cathie admitted. “Those Bellfield bastards should never have gotten a penalty.”
Reggie nodded in agreement. “You are right there. Should have put four past them, if it weren’t for their fucking keeper.”
Cathie nodded consolingly. Meanwhile Marcus continued securing Dennis to the table.
When he finished, Reggie cheered. Dennis could feel the dirt and crumbs of the table against his bare stomach. Marcus was seated at the table’s end, watching with an expressionless, cold stare. Reggie was standing beside him. Chloe was still crying hysterically out in the hallway. She couldn’t quite comprehend what was happening. All she could say was, “Special cuddles for Dennis because I love him.”
Big Cathie had his hands clamped around Dennis’ waist.
“I know he’s an ugly cunt,” Reggie commented to Cathie. “Just close your eyes and think of City.”
Reggie stepped outside the Auction House where the air was cooler. The interior always seemed so claustrophobic to him despite its high ceilings and open rooms. It was why he preferred the warehouse just on the outskirts of City Main. It was in this warehouse he kept thirty-three cages of rats. Ever since his father gave him a black rat on his thirteenth birthday he’d had a fascination with rodents – rats especially. Next to humans rats were the most successful species on earth, but unlike humans they still operated on an instinctual level. That spoke volumes for them as far as Reggie Penn was concerned. He liked to watch them, observe their behaviour patterns and apply that to human interactions. He guessed he was a scientist at heart. If his mother hadn’t wanted him to take his share of their namesake Auction House he could have been in a lab somewhere, but there he was helping his brothers keep things running smoothly.
Observing the rats he noted there was nothing they wouldn’t do for a little gratification. If you pierced them with electrodes that stimulated an orgasm every time they pushed a button they would keep pressing on that button, forgetting all else until they died of thirst or starvation. Their young followed soon after. In that sense the rats weren’t unlike humans, Reggie decided. We too are always chasing gratification, whether it’s from a partner, alcohol, drugs or sugar. We always chase that feel-good.
Reggie also observed that no matter what he did to the rats they would always see him as master. He could burn their tails, make them watch as he cut off the heads of their young, it didn’t matter because the minute he brought them a food pellet he was a God to them. Humans could be trained in the same way. It just took a bit more time. He even tried it with his brother. Rumour has it he had tried to masturbate Simon to see what would happen. Simon beat him bloody for his troubles, resulting in a hospital trip and their mother being very upset. Not every experiment was a success.
Reggie did love his rats though. Initially he didn’t intend on naming them. It was more scientific that way. He fell in love with them though and they deserved names. Jacket was one of his favourites, named because of the brown pattern on their back looking like a jacket. His other favourite was Smash who derived his name from the Lonesome Nights game.
He put a cigarette between his lips and drew his phone from his pocket. It seemed like an appropriate time to update his social media pages. He couldn’t tell his followers about Cathie – although in Reggie’s mind it was probably the thing they would love to hear about, something hilarious that they would all get a kick out of. But he would play nice. He had already had to set up several new profiles because his previous ones had been shut down due to ‘violation of the rules.’
He was scrolling through pictures of scantily clad young women pressing LIKE (a lot like an orgasm button he supposed) when the phone started to ring. The caller I.D was one of their agents, Jeremy.
Reggie answered. “Yeah?” he enquired.
The agent sounded a little flustered. It wasn’t unlike Jeremy to be uptight but he seemed more so than usual.
“The Boss Lady has been taken in,” he said. “A friend at CPD just told me. They’ve got Simon too”
At first Reggie was unsure he had heard correctly. “What did you say?” The noise of the City Main traffic seemed to drown out the agent’s voice.
“They’ll be coming for you and Marcus. The Boss Lady has been taken in. I’m at CPD now. Simon was taken too.”
The agent’s voice dipped away as he talked to someone. The harsh accent from the part of town west of Coldford suggested it was PADDY MACK of MACK AND SONS. They were both angry.
“The Boss Lady has been taken in. Let Marcus know. He isn’t answering his phone.” At that the agent rang off.
Just as Reggie prepared to head back inside and warn his brother a fleet of CPD cars pulled up. Led by Kim Adams. Before Reggie could move Kim was on him.
“I’m already having one Hell of a day so are you going to test me?”
Reggie grinned and reached his arms up.
“You’re making a mistake,” he warned.
“Yeah, your brother said the same thing.” The CPD officers closed in.
Reggie Penn was taken into custody.
Marcus growled at the noise of the commotion. He sensed what had happened but it was too late to retreat. He hated the idea of being forced into retreat anyway. If they had managed to bring Tabitha in, the Penn dynasty was in immediate danger. Like a house of cards, the pillars of The Shady City were beginning to fall. Kim appeared at the door.
“It’s over,” she said.
“For now,” was Marcus’ cold reply. He came surprisingly quietly.
It could have been his imagination but Dennis could already feel himself becoming sick. Was that really the case or was his mind playing tricks on him? He couldn’t know for certain but he certainly felt weaker than he was before. Sure, the Penns hadn’t gone easy on him and Cathie had left him bloody but the disease, the virus was already raging around his body. If it was a placebo effect it was damn good one. Before Dennis had met Tabitha he had always been the man in charge, the go-to guy. She had stripped him of every bit of effervescence he had until he was a shadow of his former self. Was it a fitting punishment for the harm he had caused to little girls or the result of a mad woman’s psychopathic tendencies? It wasn’t my job to judge or to weigh up justice. Tabitha was behind bars and likely would be for a long time. Nothing was going to delete what Dennis had done to those little girls or his turning simpleminded, desperate girls like Chloe to prostitution. What mattered then was how he was going to use what time was left for him.
Trapped in the Auction House he had limited options but a guy like Dennis was never held back completely. He could at least make strides to protect himself.
“Chloe?” he called.
She had never left his side. The Penns weren’t exactly stopping her leaving but it wouldn’t be likely she could walk out of the Auction House so easily. She chose to wait with him. Wait for inevitable death? In the end maybe she would climb into the coffin beside him. It may be difficult to understand but she truly believed she couldn’t live without him.
“You have to go,” he said.
“No!” she squealed. She had been waiting on him asking this of her but it was the one thing she wouldn’t give. “I’m not leaving you.”
“You have to. I need you to find me a doctor. If you ask Marcus, he will allow it. Please. I need you to fetch me a man named DR WINSLOW.” Chloe blinked the tears away that were forming in her eyes. “Marcus will let him come here. He’s the only one who can help me. He’s the only one who stands a chance of helping me live long enough to see an end to all of this.”
“I’ll find the doctor,” cheered Chloe. “I’ll find him and he will make you feel better. I promise. I’ll give Marcus whatever he wants and Reggie too if you like.”
Dennis managed a smile. He shifted on the wooden panelled floor and winced in pain.
“Good. I need you to ask Marcus very nicely to bring me Dr Winslow. Can you do that?” Chloe nodded simply. She looked a little confused and upset still so he needed more confirmation. “Repeat it back to me, kid.”
“I ask for Dr Winslow. I ask Marcus really, really nicely.”
Dennis managed a smile again. She was so glad she could cheer him up.
Speaking more to himself he said, “She thinks she’s got the last laugh. I’m going to fuck her up. If I’m going down, I’m going to make her sorry she ever crossed my path.”
Chloe blinked, perplexed. The bitterness in his voice wasn’t like him. He was normally so calm even under dire circumstances.
The point was moot anyway because CPD had already landed on the Auction House. Marcus was under arrest and as the officers burst into the room where Dennis was being held he and Chloe were separated. It seemed Dennis’ day of beating and questioning was far from over. As manager of the Knock Knock club and willing to talk against his Headliner masters, Dennis was an incredible asset for the Law Makers as the trial was set. Chloe looked up to Kim’s strong and protective face. It reminded her of a lioness she had seen at City Zoo when Dennis took her once to meet a client. The lioness had put herself in front of the cubs and watched the alpha male closely. The alpha male was intimidated. It wouldn’t approach the cubs whilst the lioness was around.
“Are you hurt pet?” she asked softly.
Chloe managed a smile despite herself. “I’m fine.”
Kim reached her hand out and clasped Chloe’s. “I’m going to need you to come with me. It’s going to be okay.” She spoke into her comm device. “I need some women officers in here.”
Thanks to Lydia’s international agency team, Chloe was taken to the safety of CPD.
#amreading the #thriller #graphicnovel #knockknock by @VivikaWidow
REGGIE pulled open the box excitedly. The triplets were growing fast but he was still holding onto the excitement of their birthday morning. The triplets were always given their gifts in order of age. First was MARCUS. That year he had been given a painting by an artist named Favon. He (or perhaps she) hailed from the country of Luen. Not much else was known about them. Marcus had taken an immediate shine to the work when the agents brought it into the AUCTION HOUSE. Seeing the joy in his son’s face the father – Reginald – had acquired it for himself, compensating the agents and the artist handsomely.
Marcus was already making plans for the appropriate place to hang the piece – which showed a sun lit scape with an ominous fleet of boats approaching a peer – when SIMON – the second born triplet – was given his gift. He was delighted with a set of boxing gloves along with a new punch bag. He had a lot of energy and it helped him to focus on sports.
Finally came the baby of the group. As Reggie opened the box a black nose with long whiskers peeked out. Reggie laughed with joy and pulled a fully grown, black rat out by the scruff of it’s neck.
“Oh,” the boys’ mother, Rita cried in dismay.
“Isn’t he cute mother?” Reggie asked.
Rita could feel her skin crawl as Reggie inspected the rodent.
“I’m sure he is. Do keep him away from me though, baby.”
Still holding it by the scruff of the neck Reggie looked into it’s beetle black eyes with a smile. It’s nose twitched at him. He turned to Marcus sat on the floor by the fire just to the left of him.
“What do you think?” He asked, seeking his brother’s approval. He dropped the rat into his lap.
Marcus lifted the creature into his hands and examined it. He adjusted his spectacles on his nose to assure he was getting the best view possible. His lip curled.
“Rodents carry disease you know,” he said. He passed the rat back to Reggie.
As Reggie caught it the rat squeaked. He turned to Simon. He lifted the rat so it was facing his brother, squeezing it’s body so that it squeaked at him. “What do you think, Si?”
“You’re a freak,” was Simon’s reply. He gave a sardonic a smile.
“I’m going to plant him in your bed so he can crawl up your arse,” Reggie teased.
“Watch your language,” the father warned .
“So what are you going to call it?” Simon asked as he slipped from the wine coloured arm chair onto the floor beside his brothers so he could get a closer look.
Reggie shook his head. “You don’t give them names. You grow too attached them. You can’t get too attached when you want to experiment.”
Reginald and Rita watched the triplets.
“A rat? You brought him a rat?” She asked her husband.
Reginald shrugged his shoulders. His mind was still occupied with work and the party that the triplets would be having at the auction house later that night. More gifts and well wishes from the auction house staff and benefactors.
“It’s what he asked for,” he reminded her.
She shivered, watching Reggie let the rat crawl along his arm from his hand to his shoulder, it’s worm like tail wrapping around him.
ALBANS school was an exclusive, privately taught facility in the city was where the triplets attended. Competing with the other private schools in Coldford it was a breeding ground for success. It had taught the Penn family for generations.
The school provided boarding facilities which Rita would never have the triplets use. They were dropped off each morning if not by their parents then by a driver. Marcus was the always one to lead them inside.
The boys and girls were taught in separate areas. It wasn’t until recess time they could mix in the central courtyard. That morning, Jill Danver saw Reggie stood by himself. His black back pack was hanging over one shoulder, his attention focused on a hand held electronic video game called Yeager Falls that was popular at the time. It wasn’t often he was far from his brothers so she seized the opportunity and approached him.
“Happy birthday,” she said.
It was now the day after his birthday but the sentiment was appreciated all the same. He switched off the game and looked up at her. She was a skinny thing, a couple of years older than him. She had long brown hair which hung in straw like strands. Her teeth seemed too large for her mouth and her nose a little too small for her face. She had something of a rodent like quality Reggie noted. She lifted the grey pleated skirt of the Albans uniform, flashing lacy pink panties underneath.
“Want a little birthday present?” She teased suggestively.
Reggie raised his eyebrows. He had read how rats, attached to electrodes that stimulated an orgasm, would continuously push the button. They would forget their young, forget food and water, they would forget all else until they died. Humans weren’t much different, Reggie surmised as she took his arm and started to tug him towards the gym hall, a square grey building that stood alone from the rest of the school. It was known as the place to go for amorous students.
Reggie pulled back. “Wait,” he said. “There’s something I want to show you first.”
“Really?” She was intrigued. She had already seen Reggie’s penis. It was a little crooked from what she could tell but she didn’t have many others to compare it too.
Reggie swung his back pack gingerly round to his front. It was open slightly. He pulled open the zip and reached inside. When he pulled out the black rat she cried out.
“Don’t you like him?” Reggie mocked. “At least I think it’s a him,” he said turning the rat over and inspecting its genitals.
Jill gasped. “That’s disgusting. You shouldn’t have that here. You are disgusting!” She was starting to become hysterical as Reggie held it out to her. “You’ll have that damn thing taken off you. You are such a creep.”
Reggie grinned. “If you say anything to anyone I’m going to give you the plague.”
She tried to smack the rat from his hand. Reggie lunged forward. She felt rat’s tiny claws on her legs. She shrieked again. Her terror caused the rat some anxiety so it did the only thing it could do and sunk it’s teeth into her thigh. Now Jill’s cries became that of pain. She managed to pull away and shoved Reggie as she ran off to the girls’ bathroom.
Reggie learned that day that a rat’s sharp incisors could tear human flesh quite easily.
The crowd goes wild whenever the middle PENN TRIPLET steps into the ring. A champion boxer, Simon is passionate about keeping in the best shape he can be. But don’t let that fool you, he also has great head for numbers and is the accounts keeper for the AUCTION HOUSE. Whilst big brother MARCUS takes the lead, Simon has been known to get into altercations with his little brother REGGIE. They were as close as any brothers could be but they did play rough.
As young scoundrels growing up in City Main, their mother Rita had to rush her darling baby to Coldford General after Simon beat Reggie so badly he was knocked out cold. Father, REGINALD, felt it good for the boys to be prepared for the violence around them but Rita couldn’t bear to see any of them hurt.
Simon’s anger issues became a real problem in his teen years so his strength and frustrations were turned to boxing. Starting in the small ‘Junior City Boxing Club’ north in Bournton, Simon quickly showed promise and before long was bringing home all kinds of trophies and medals.
Outside of the Auction House Simon takes to the ring. Most of his training is carried out at the Punchline Gym in City Main, a gym brand in his fighter name of which there are others at many convenient locations around the city if you fancy taking your chances.
No you’re not seeing treble. Reggie is one of the three Penn triplets. Whilst big brother MARCUS (centre) is the eldest by a few minutes Reggie enjoys being the baby of the team. Of his three brothers he probably holds the least responsibility although he is made to contribute to the family business at the insistence of their mother, Rita.
Reggie is a gamer fan. He especially enjoys playing LONESOME NIGHTS with none other than son of High Court Judge CAMERON DOYLE. To put his violent reputation aside one would actually find Reggie a friendly young man. Away from his brothers and duties all he really wants to do is chill and play video games. Generosity to those who support them is a clear Penn trait instilled by their father, REGINALD. Reggie in particular is good to his friends as vet, ALEX FERRALD, discovered when he treated Reggie’s pet rats.
Reggie, like his brothers, is hyper intelligent. Where Marcus has the head for leadership and middle brother Simon has the head for numbers Reggie’s prowess lies in knowing what draws a crowd. He is the one acquisition agents will turn to for advice on what will sell. Reggie seems to have a talent for picking out the next best thing. He did so for a drug addicted artist, DAVID FINN, giving him the chance of redeeming his failing career.
What is most distinctive about Reggie is his love of rats. Growing up he developed a special fondness for rodents. He keeps many cages at a warehouse held by the Penn Gallery. He is especially interested in how far he can push their loyalty in exchange for a food pellets. Reggie has an inquisitive nature which led him to become fascinated with a rats survival instincts. He was tagged with the nickname ‘rat boy’ as a youngster. Reggie took the derogatory connotations and refashioned them into something he was proud of. Rats were the most successful species next to humans. They were survivors.
He is happiest with his brothers by his side but treated as the baby despite being born minutes apart Reggie struggles to stand above the imposing presence of Marcus or match the physicality of Simon. What Reggie does have though is a keen survivalist instinct, honed from observing his rats. He can shelter, salvage and hold out in terrains even his brothers would likely perish in. In a place like Shady City survival instincts are just what is needed.
With the largest stadium and three of the most skilled players transferred from the coastal city of Luen, COLDFORD CITY are the team to beat in the National Premier League. Although having the money to buy top players does bring it’s fair share of problems. Striker, Andre Luis frequently dominates the headlines for his antics off the pitch as much as on. He is a frequent goal scorer but his personal life often takes centre stage. Rumours followed him from Luen that he was willing to throw games for the right pay. Some say it was in the Shady City he learned to PLAY THE GAME .
Their trophy cabinets are full but there is just one prize that alludes them. Andre Luis has worked his entire career to receive the Golden Boot. As it stands that accolade belongs to City’s fierce rivals COLDFORD ATHLETIC and their star, Samuel Connelly.
Our Shady City thriller’s most notable fan of City is MARCUS PENN and his triplet brothers. As sponsors of the team the triplets always have a keen interest in their investments and so will always make sure City has the money they need to always be the best.
The complete first season of the Knock Knock graphics novel series is free to read here or download for Kindle Unlimited.
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Marcus is a no nonsense man who knows just what it takes to get a job done. He is fully acquainted with the darker side of the Shady City. With his strong connections to the KNOCK KNOCK CLUB and his auction house holding control of City Main there are enemies gathering around him.
What is most distinctive about Marcus is that he is of a set of triplets. He and his brothers – SIMON and REGGIE – run the Penn Auction House together. Marcus is seen as the unofficial leader being the eldest by a few minutes.
The Penn Auction House had been passed down to them through generations by their father. They proudly hold art work from the likes of DAVID FINN as well as other antiquities that most would find difficult to get a hold of.
Marcus isn’t shy of the dirty work. He is emotionless, iron willed and carries a reputation for a reason. Not many would dare tackle him alone. Even fewer would go against him with his brothers by his side.
Marcus is highly intelligent, well read and like his father, REGINALD, a gentleman at heart. He doesn’t have much to offer in the way of words but when he does choose to speak ears had best be pricked because has something important to share. On his good side you will find Marcus a noble protector. On his bad side you will find yourself on the auction block. In Coldford City you had better hope that term is used figuratively.
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