Chapter One

Derek was dreaming. He could tell that he was dreaming for three reasons:

1.       His shoulder had neither a javelin nor a javelin shaped hole in it.

2.       He appeared to be on the moon which while cool seemed unlikely for a local government tax expert.

3.       While far from an expert on space history he didn’t believe that Neil Armstrong had lugged a full-length ornate brass mirror down from the lunar lander and out onto the surface of the moon.

 

I mean he hadn’t been alive when it happened or watched any of the videos, it was in black and white he wasn’t some kind of animal. However, he figured it would have been remarked upon in popular culture if Neil Armstrong had been all like “It’s one small step for man, one giant leap for… wait… here Buzz where’s that big-ass mirror we thought would look dead nice up here?” There’d almost certainly have been an episode of the Simpsons about it if that had happened…

 

Anyway, confident that he was dreaming Derek took a moment to take in the bleak surroundings. Grey dusty craters running as far as the eye could see, with only weirdly stiff American flag, the big white lunar module and the previously discussed mirror cluttering up the lonely surface. He looked down and saw he was in the full white, space suit getup he’d seen on TV. He looked like some kind of futuristic marshmallow man. He had the nifty NASA patch on one shoulder and the ol’ Stars and Stripes on the other, which was weird with him being British and all. He also noticed that he had, just above the big Darth Vader breathing box in the middle of his chest, his name badge proudly proclaiming that he was Astronaut Derek Jones X543-2. ‘Weird,’ he thought to himself fingering the name badge with a giant foamy mitt. ‘I wonder what the X543-2 thing is all about…’

 

He poked the name badge with a chubby finger but it stubbornly refused to come clean. “Ah well, it must just dream stuff I guess,” he said to himself with a shrug. “I mean compared to there being a big-ass mirror up here it practically makes sense. Now how about some space jumping!” He might not be an expert on space stuff but he knew what fun looked like and hopping around on the moon looked the coolest. He took a breath composed himself and tentatively hopped forward a step. He floated a couple of feet into the air and came down a few yards closer to the motionless American flag letting out a childish “Weee!” (the noise not the bodily fluid).

 

“I’d be careful if I were you,” came a strangely familiar voice from behind him. Derek turned around but there was no one there.

 

“Umm… Hello?” he ventured tentatively turning from left to right trying to identify the mystery moon man.

 

“Over here spaceman,” said the voice. Derek turned towards the source of the voice but still couldn’t see anyone. He was about to turn away again and try for a bigger jump when something caught his eye; there was someone waving at him from the mirror.

 

“That’s right…” called the voice. “Over heeeerrreee!”

 

Derek took an involuntary step back. He was not a fan of mirrors. Not because he was unhappy with how he looked, well he was but just in perfectly normal ‘why can’t my nose be a little smaller and my eyes a little bluer kind of way’ rather than a ‘Don’t look at me, don’t look at me I’m hideous way’. No, his dislike went back to when he was a little boy and his Uncle Travis was babysitting. Derek usually loved it when Uncle Travis came to babysit, they made forts out of the sofa cushions, ate ice cream and watched movies Derek’s parents wouldn’t let him watch. However, on this particular occasion his Uncle had told him he’d brought a very special film for him to watch; better than anything they’d watched before but he wasn’t allowed to tell his parents. “Not one word or I’ll never be able to babysit again!” Derek had sworn and they had settled in for the night with a big tub of mint choc chip, two spoons and a movie called Candyman.

 

Derek was expecting a man either made of, or who distributed candy; a kind of Robin Hood for children. He was not expecting a terrifying ghost man who was summoned by saying his name five times while facing a mirror, and who then proceeded to murder the said summoner for you know, ‘reasons’. Since then Derek had harboured a healthy distrust of mirrors, in fact he wasn’t a fan of shiny surfaces in general; you know, just in case.

 

“Come on dude I don’t have all day,” called the familiar voice. Was it just Derek or did it have the gravelly menace of a young Tony Todd? “Look I’m not the Candyman alright.”

 

“That’s exactly what the Candyman would say,” countered Derek taking another step back his boots kicking up a small cloud of moon dust. He looked around the vast emptiness, his heart beating faster. If this was the Candyman no one was coming to help him.

 

The figure sighed heavily. “Look have you ever said Candyman five times into a mirror.”

 

“No I don’t have a death wish,” replied Derek.

 

“Right then you have nothing to worry about now get your ass over here.”

 

Derek mulled it over forcing himself to take a few deep breaths. ‘I guess he’s right besides it’s only a dream so I can always just wake up. But then if I die in a dream do I really die?’

 

“If you die in a dream you don’t die.” Derek could hear the eye roll from twenty feet away. “God are we going to have to do this every time?”

 

“What are you talking about?”

 

“Come over here and maybe I’ll tell you.”

 

Derek blew out his cheeks, squared his shoulders and gathering all of his courage cautiously moon-hopped over to the mirror. It looked like an ordinary mirror, well a bit dramatic for this setting with the crazy bronze flowers flowing up the sides and all, but there was no sign of the source of the voice just the sad reflection of a Derek in a space suit looking disappointed. As an experiment Derek lifted his left arm and mirror Derek did the same, he lifted his right and the mirror, well, it mirrored him. I guess that’s where they got the name from… Derek turned away but as he did he saw something out the corner of his eye, but when he looked back at the mirror it was just as he’d left it. Puzzled he leaned in closer.

 

“Boo!” said mirror Derek with his arms raised menacingly.

 

“Argh!” squealed Derek backing away and falling on his ass. The mirror Derek was cracking up like this was the funniest thing he’d ever seen.

 

“That’s not funny,” said Derek dusting himself off and climbing ponderously back to his feet.

 

“Ah, ’m just messing with you man,” said mirror Derek. “I’m a Derek like you.”

 

“What do you mean like me?”

 

Mirror Derek pulled a face. “What do you think I mean like you?” he asked. “I’m a Derek.” He waved to himself with a chunky white arm. “Like, but not you.”

 

“I… I don’t understand.”

 

“Christ we’ve got a live one here,” said mirror Derek. “How’s about this. He gave a flourish with his right hand and suddenly an apple appeared in it. “This is an apple,” he said helpfully holding it up so Derek could see. He then gave a flourish with his left hand and held up a second apple identical to the first. “This is also an apple, like the other one but not the same.”

 

“I know what like means,” replied Derek.

 

“Well you could have bloody fooled me,” said the man in the mirror disappearing the apples with a flick of his wrist.

 

“But there’s only one of me,” said Derek with a frown.

 

“Yeah, well that’s where you’re wrong pal,” began mirror Derek. “You see…” He was cut off as the mirror suddenly shifted wildly like the signal on his TV had started to go. Derek looked around, the lunar lander just fifty feet away was now all blurry like he wasn’t wearing his glasses. The world shifted again and the blur rushed closer.

 

“Wha, What’s going on?” he asked taking a step back from the encroaching blur.

 

“Losing him, stupid Derek, quickly out with it, quickly, stupid Derek,” came a voice.

 

“Just watch out for yourself out there,” called the now almost indistinguishable mirror Derek. Derek took another step back then made the mistake of looking over his shoulder, the blur was all around him and closing in fast.

 

“No!” he screamed. “No I don’t want to go blurry.”

 

“Stupid Derek, another one gone,” said the voice.

 

“It wasn’t my fault!” replied mirror Derek.

 

“If stupid Derek would stop playing, yes? Stupid Derek would have time to tell Stupid Derek what he needs to know,” said second voice.

 

“Ah, you’re no fun,” replied the other. “If he’d come over here when I’d asked we’d have had plenty of time.”

 

“Afraid of the Candyman, all of them, all but me, stupid Dereks afraid of a movie...”

 

The arguing voices faded away as the blur washed over Derek replacing the moon with a thick grey cloud which slowly faded to black and the cold, clinical beep, beep, beep of a heart rate monitor.

 

 

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Derek lay for a time in the dark of semi-sleep with the steady beep, beep, beep of the monitor running in time with the throbbing boom, boom, boom of his pounding head. He was trying to recall the strange dream but every time he felt like it was on the tip of his brain tongue (is that a thing?) his head tolled like a bell sending a wave of pain through him and he lost his train of thought. There was something about a mirror and space and someone was trying to tell him... boom another wave of pain rolled over him bringing his to the point of wakefulness. Reflexively he reached up to rub his temples and suddenly the dream was the last thing on his mind as the two broken bones in his newly set clavicle ground together.

 

“Owwwwwwwwww,” he moaned as the pounding in his head faded in the wake of a sharp stab of agony in his shoulder.

 

“I wouldn’t advise that,” came a voice.

 

Derek opened his eyes a crack. A large, blurry, moustachioed man in a long white lab coat, wielding a metal clipboard spun wildly around the room. ‘That’s Weird,’ thought Derek. ‘You don’t often see people spinning wildly around rooms, and when you do they are not often dressed as blurry doctors.’ He reached up to rub his eyes like a surprised mouse in a cartoon, forgetting about the broken bone in his shoulder for a second. He then realized three things in quick succession:

 

1.       The man wasn’t spinning wildly around the room, the room was spinning too, which actually made more sense when you think about it.

2.       He’d been recently hit with a javelin and then had two moron’s pulling it in and out of his shoulder for five hours, figuratively speaking.

3.       He was very much going to be sick.

 

Derek leaned over the bed and unleashed his chunder thunder directly onto a nice pair of tan wingtips. At least they were waterproof. There was a hefty sigh and then he felt the clipboard crack him on the back of the head.

 

“No. Bad patient. No”

 

“Is that really necessary doctor?” came a sweet female voice.

 

“If you don’t correct them they will never learn,” replied the clipboard wielding doctor stiffly.

 

“Ugggggghhhhhh,” moaned Derek rubbing head, this time using just his good arm.

 

“See it’s working already. Can you hear me Mr Jones?” he asked all business again. “Do you know where you are?”

 

“A really, really terrible hospital?” moaned Derek slowly flopping back onto his bed rubbing the bile from his chin with the back of his hand.

 

“How do you… I mean I don’t know what you mean St Damien’s is one of the finest… Well one of the cleanest…  No, not exactly, at least one of the most affordable hospitals in the city.”

 

“That’s smashing,” replied Derek. “How are you on the morphine? My shoulder is killing me.”

 

“Ah Ha!” said the doctor seizing triumphantly on Derek’s mistake his moustache flapping in the breeze. “That is where you’re wrong Mr Jones. It’s not killing you at all, in fact you’re going to make a complete recovery.”

 

“Umm, Doctor,” said the pint-sized nurse peeking out behind the lab coated buffoon. “I’m not sure he was being literal, I think he means it hurts.” The nurse was maybe five two and in her mid-thirties with a long blonde pony tail and a look quiet compassion in her pale blue eyes. The doctor on the other hand was a tall and muscle-bound with long a long blonde moustache that looked completely out of place on his stern black face. He eyed Derek with equal parts distrust – which Derek supposed was a result of his being sick on his fancy shoes – and an aloof contempt that Derek was sure went down a treat with his patients.

 

“Hurts?” snapped the Doctor folding his arms over his chest the lab coat bulging over his guns. “Hurts? Of course it jolly well hurts! He had a javelin fired through it then yanked about more than, umm, well you know.” He waved his hand vaguely. “A thing. The kind of thing that gets yanked about a lot.”

 

“Umm, A gear stick?” ventured the nurse.

 

“Oh forget it,” replied the doctor.

 

“So about that morphine…”

 

“Yes, Yes, all in good time I just have a few things I need to go through with you first.” The doctor proceeded to do a bunch of vaguely doctory things including but not limited to; holding down his tongue with a giant lolly stick and asking him to say Ah! Taking his blood pressure with one of those big inflatable arm band things, and finally taking his temperature from his ear, mouth and, well his you know, down there; thankfully not using the same thermometer.

 

“Well everything seems to be in order,” he said once the ordeal was over.

 

“So about that morphine…”

 

“I’m afraid you’ll have to wait just a little longer, you see we have the police here to see you and we need you in tip-top condition so you can answer their questions.”

 

“They should have talked to me yesterday then,” replied Derek with a groan.

 

 

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The two officers who hustled in as soon as the medical staff ducked out couldn’t have been more dissimilar and still have been the same species. The one on the left was tall and thin as a rake with a long, hooked nose, a protruding chin to match. He wore a look of depressed resignation and some rather excellent blond side whiskers. Imagine Sherlock Holmes if he’d been stretched out and then left on a desert island to dry out for a month or two with only Morrissey to listen to.

 

His comrade in blue was a squat ball of a woman whose double chins had double chins of their own and whose features seemed too small for her moon pie face. She has a gloomy, brooding look to her not helped in the slightest by the mono-brow that was fixed in a silent v of anger. She also had a small notebook and pen and did not look the type who was afraid to use them.

 

As the officers approached Derek pulled himself up, as much as he could in his hospital bed, with that odd feeling of guilt only the innocent feel when under the scrutiny of lady law; the generic lady law not the specific police lady in the room. She was called Detective Polly Merryweather and if rumour around the station was anything to go by she was anything but a lady, if you know what I mean.

 

“Hi I’m Detective Merryweather,” said the rotund detective offering a smile that stood in direct contrast to her evil perma-frowning mono-brow. Derek wasn’t sure if she was nice and her mono-brow was evil or she was evil and the mono-brow was just a warning from the Gods; regardless he decided to keep a weather eye on her just in case. “and this is PC Sam Samson,” she continued unaware of Derek internally judging her. The gaunt Constable dipped his head in greeting and offered a limp hand to Derek. Derek reached out and let out a scream of agony as his only very recently set bones ground together again.

 

“Uh, sorry,” breathed the gaunt policeman colouring slightly which had the benefit of making him look like a real living boy instead of something that had been fished out of the bay sporting some natty concrete boots.

 

“Anyway,” said Detective Merryweather slapping PC Samson with her notebook and shooting him an angry look, well Derek assumed it was an angry look it could have been anything really, it was so hard to tell with that evil v on her face… “We understand you’ve gotten yourself in a little mischief. Would you like to tell us what happened?”

 

“Well, I was walking to work and then this guy started waving at me and the next thing I know I have a javelin in my shoulder.”

 

“Uh huh,” she nodded making some notes in her notebook. “Did you see where it came from?”

 

“Well behind me so the park I guess.”

 

“Alright, and do you know of anyone who would like to hurt you?”

 

“What?!? No! You think someone did this on purpose?” exclaimed Derek sitting upright in his bed.

 

“No, we’re just trying to cover all our bases I’m sure it was an accident.”

 

“It’s always an accident,” said PC Samson softly tapping the side of his prestigious nose. “Less paperwork that way.”

 

Detective Merryweather hit him with her notebook again before continuing.

 

“Did you see anyone? Did anyone come to retrieve their lost javelin?”

 

“Well I mainly saw the javelin and some blood, oh and two torturers right out of a medieval gaol.”

 

“Torturers?”

 

“I think he’s referring to the first responders,” said PC Samson. “You know the ones the mayor was honouring this morning?”

 

“Honouring?” spluttered Derek. “Honouring for what? Services to pain and suffering? Exemplary cruelty to a local government official? Setting the St Johns ambulance first aid training movement back a hundred years?”

 

“For saving your life I think…”

 

“Saving my life? Saving my life?” Derek shouted. “They nearly killed me!”

 

“Yeah but that doesn’t look as good in the paper does it? No one likes an attempted murder, everyone likes a nice, happy have a go hero.”

 

“You might not be saying that if you were in my, well, socks,” replied Derek looking down to where his white stockinged toes poked out from the bottom of the bed.

 

“OK you two enough,” snapped Merryweather. “Is there anything else you can tell us that will help or are you just going to go on moaning about the bloody mayor?”

 

Derek thought for a moment then shook his head. “I don’t think so. It all happened pretty quickly. Look out. Oh crap javelin. Thunk. Ow. Let’s hurt this man as much as we can before we call an ambulance. The blessed relief of unconsciousness then,” Derek waved his good arm around the room. “This.”

 

“OK well if you think of anything,” she said snapping her notebook closed. “Get in touch.”

 

PC Samson pulled a dog-eared business card from his pocket and placed it on the table by Derek’s bed and the pair filed out leaving Derek alone with his broken bones and desperate lack of morphine.

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