Time of the Supernatural
by Alicia Lodge
(Gloucester, Gloucestershire, UK)
I sat with my two best friends John and Chris in the park, eating a fantastic picnic that we had made. It was so delicious and the sun had come out to welcome us as we set up camp. Every summer vacation, the guys and I went down to the Cuilan Park where we would spend three days camping, which began with us celebrating 'no parents' for three whole days with a giant picnic. Ever since I can remember we would do this, as it wasn�t like anything dangerous could happen out here.
We lived in a small village called Breakdon, which was inhabited by just over five hundred people. John and Chris were my best friends since the dawn of time and we always hung out together, just doing whatever. It was really convenient that Chris� mum worked in a bakery next to the only corner shop in the village, because whenever we planned an adventure like this, his mum would conveniently get freebies that we would take with us.
We hiked up to our usual spot just below the biggest oak in the entire park. Then, once camp was set up, we arranged a pile of logs for a campfire, like normal, and started on demolishing the huge food basket. Sandwiches galore, cakes, sweets, pasta salads, crisps, onion rings and loads of fizzy drinks; it was fantastic, as always.
When we had had enough, we packed away the leftovers (not that there was much left), fished out the marshmallows from our backpacks and settled down for the night as we chatted about anything and everything. We put the world to rights over a coke, laughed at the cringing moment when John had asked Renee if she wanted to go out this Friday and she said, �Who are you again?�
Actually, we generally spoke of nothing but things to do with the girls we liked and disliked, junk food, and our favorite band, Hotshot11s.
We were still talking until about two in the morning when we all slowly ran out of steam and drifted into a dreamless sleep.
That was when I heard it. I had woken up at about three thirty to put the fire out in case something caught fire. I was just putting the last of the flames out when I heard a heart-stopping screech coming from the trees behind us. I didn�t know what to do. I got up with a torch to see if there was anybody out there but by the time I had gotten up out of my sleeping bag, it had stopped. I thought to myself how scared I was when I had heard the noise, but when it had stopped I realised that nobody else had woken up.
Had I imagined it? That would be plausible as I�m alone in the dark woods of the park late at night with two friends sleeping peacefully beside me. My imagination was bound to run away with itself eventually, if not inevitably. I settled back into my sleeping bag almost positive that it was just my imagination.
Twenty-sixth of September
Debriefing Officer P.C Christine Paulan: Interview commenced approximately fifteen hundred hours.
Let�s take this from the top shall we? You claim to have been asleep through the night of the fifteenth of July, on which night, your friends and neighbours, Chris Whitmore and John Hartford, were tortured to death. They were strangled, suffocated, burned and then cut into pieces. Is there anything I missed?
Please stop me if I have missed anything.
Will you listen to me for a moment? Even if you do continue to plead not-guilty, at your court hearing, the judge will still send you down for at least twenty to life, just stop wasting police time and help yourself, ok? The judge might be generous to you and only give a maximum of nineteen years if you plead guilty and start cooperating.
Prisoner #6723 Robert Mulberry: I did not murder them.
Officer P.C Christine Paulan: What we would like to know is, why? Why murder two of your closest friends? Did they make you angry? Or had you just had enough of their friendship? I __
Prisoner #6723 Mulberry: I did not murder them!
Officer Paulan: You say that, but, are you trying to prove to us that you are innocent, or yourself? That�s the real question. We have evidence to believe you murdered your friends because they made you upset. They did something that you didn�t agree with, you had an argument over it and the argument got heated and too out of hand. What were you fighting about__
Prisoner #6723 Mulberry: I DID NOT MURDER THEM!! WHY DO YOU CONTINUE TO PROSECUTE ME OVER SOMETHING I DIDN�T DO?!
Officer Paulan: I�m sure you didn�t murder them. But then, if you didn�t, who did? There was nobody even remotely close to you in an 18 mile radius. Your friends did not murder themselves. In which case, even though I don�t doubt you are innocent, but until proven so, the evidence is against you, so you are seen as guilty and the court will refuse to listen to your side of the story unless you do plead guilty.
Do you understand that? If you plead guilty you could get a reduced sentence. Even more reduced if when you are in prison, you are good and you could get bailed on parole. You never know. The judge might even be generous and give you the minimum sentence. Until you are proven guilty, as you are here anyway, why don�t you tell us your side of the story? What really happened that night? What do YOU recollect?
Prisoner #6723 Mulberry: I� I� I don�t know. I can�t remember. I don�t know what happened, I can�t remember anything. But I do know that whatever did happen, it was not of my doing. Something came for us and it was not something from earth. I know you will not take me seriously but I will keep trying. You have to see what is happening to our world. It is no longer what you thought it was, now there are supernatural things out there whether you like it or not.
Officer Paulan: That is enough! I am sick of having to have this conversation with you! You cannot blame other people or, in your case, supernatural beings, for your mistakes. There is no such thing as U.F.O�s, aliens, monsters or ghosts! You have to stop living your life believing in such things. People waste their whole lives searching for things that don�t exist. You aren�t going to be one of those people are you, Mulberry?
Prisoner #6723 Mulberry: No ma�am, I am not going to be one of those people. Because I know for certain they do exist. There is no need for me to search for things that I have already found. I have seen such wonders. Things that you would not believe even if you had seen it with your own eyes.
Officer Paulan: ENOUGH! JUST ENOUGH! I have enough of your claptrap for long enough. Sergeant Smith please take Prisoner Mulberry to his cell, as he has obviously not slept for a while, he is started to hallucinate and delude himself.
Prisoner #6723 Mulberry: Now you�ve done it. You refused to listen to me, so now you die. In about six and a half minutes all of the lives in this building except for mine will be terminated, all because you wouldn�t listen to a prisoner. In half of a minute the electrical appliances will all fail; fridges, computers, phones, ovens, printers, everything will go down in this building. You will be in darkness for a small amount of time and then if they pick you to join us, you will be born again. If they don�t pick you, well, then let�s just say you had a good life while it lasted. Au revoir, Christine Paulan.
The Oxfordshire police said it was the biggest arson attack they had ever seen. There were six hundred people in the police station at the time of the attack. There were no survivors. They couldn�t understand how the coroner�s reports on the bodies suggest that it was not arson that killed the people. The victims all died at exactly the same time, all with exactly the same symptoms to lead to cause of death. They all died of panic attacks.
The chief of police decided to keep an eye on that particular area where the fire was supposed to be started. He died of an unexpected, sudden heart attack later that day. The coroner�s report also stated that all six hundred bodies and the chief of police had a strange mark on their bodies. All in exactly the same place. All of the bodies had a scar above the left ear in the shape of a crucifix. Nobody is sure what this is supposed to mean, religiously or anything else.
The worst of the losses in the police force was the death of Officer Christine Mae Paulan. She suffered the worst of the burns. All of the prisoners died in their cells.
Except for Prisoner #6723 Robert William Mulberry. His body was never found, but it is impossible to say that he walked away from the fire, as the fire was too serious. None of the victims were recognisable, even from their dental records. The police think the records of prisoners kept were insufficient, which is why they have reason to believe that they had miscounted prisoners.
Robert Mulberry did tell them. But it is too late to tell them I told you so. They paid the price for their ignorance. What�s done is done.