Chapter One A Plague of Dissent

Having decided to have  a new cover designed for the book, I have  also decided, on the what I think is very good advice of a friend, to do a little edit. So here is Chapter One.

Let me know what you think.

Email A Plague of Dissent Size 4

Rosie had been sitting there all that night in the dark, not daring to turn on a light and far too frightened to sleep. She wondered what she should or could do now; she knew that there were men outside, waiting for her to leave the house and that knowledge terrified her. The men banged on her door, shouted through her letter box and checked every accessible window.

She’d seen them arriving outside the front of the apartment a few hours before, only minutes after she arrived home. She’d parked her car in the car park just around the corner, rather than outside the house, not wanting to advertise her presence. She couldn’t be certain whether they knew she was home but she was convinced they wouldn’t leave until they’d found her.

All night, she’d in the dark, huddled up on the couch, fearful of every sound outside. Each creak of the old house filled her with panic. Had the men had somehow got inside? The events of the past week churned through her mind. How had they discovered what she’d done?

Everything had been arranged by text, no one could have over heard a thing, but evidently someone had. How had the news spread so quickly? Over the past hour her thoughts turned to escape. Sneaking out the through the rear garden, into the back lane and to her car, before it got light, was her best option. It was now nearly 6 and only an hour before dawn.

She needed to think clearly but with each her beat heart, blood coursed through her brain like a raging torrent. She couldn’t think; it was all she could do, to stop herself from being sick. But it was decision time.

She slipped on a pair of pumps and slung the small bag over her shoulder. It contained nothing more than a pair of pants, cash she’d frantically scraped out of a drawer, her passport and credit cards. Her only coherent thought to get the hell out of town before the shit hit really the fan.

She eased out of the back door. It was dark in the garden, what little light the moon would have provided was soaked up by the thick black rain clouds that hung directly over head. Tentatively she made her way down the garden path, taking care not to kick one of the numerous plant pots that lined it, towards the gate and the back lane.

She checked the lane was clear; she could see the car where she had left it the night before. None of the men were yet in sight. She thought it’s now or never. They would spot her soon enough. Then the chase would begin.

Should she walk or run?

Easing open the gate which thankfully didn’t creak, she entered the lane. The street lights at each end of the short lane would silhouette her to anybody at either end. She took her first steps as two men appeared under the street light at the far end. Too late now, they’d seen her. The shout went up

“There she is. She’s going for the car park”.

These words were quickly supplanted by the sounds of running feet. Close to a dozen men appeared around the corner, illuminated under the street light.

She had no choice. Running was her only option. 300 metres to the car park, into her car and away. It was still possible, she thought.

Rosie ran down the lane, heedless of the numerous holes brimming with water from the overnight rain. She dodged the randomly placed waste collection bins overflowing with rubbish, awaiting collection at some point during the week. Then across the road at the end. She could hear the splashes the men’s feet made in the puddles. They were getting closer. Venturing a glance over her shoulder, she could see they were gaining on her but she never saw the double-decker bus. Not until it was far too late.

When she turned her head back, the bus was on top of her, the shock on the driver’s face clearly visible as he tried to brake and steer away. She screamed. The scream was quickly followed by a sickening crunch. The number 6 bus flung her 10 metres through the air, to crumple like a rag doll into a parked car.

– – – – –

It was an unfortunate sequence of events that now found Rosie crumpled, broken and dying on this wet and forlorn morning.

The seduction that started it had been going on from the moment she first began to temp in his office. Yes, of course she knew Alex Great was married but his power and all that money he controlled as Chief Secretary to the Treasury really pressed her buttons. After all, all the politicians did it didn’t they? The more senior they were, they more they slept around and the office temps seemed to be the nature of the game. At least that was what her friend Jonathan had told her.

For the past five years, ever since her divorce, she’d had a succession of temp jobs. The first in the International’s office, where she had met and had a brief fling with Jonathan Mason, and then various Fleet Street offices’s followed. None being quite what she really wanted, they left her unfulfilled, her truth worth never recognised. The men she worked for saw only one thing, her stunning figure, which if truth be told, she’d always displayed and used it to her advantage. But, she craved more, much more; one day the right job or man, perhaps both would come along, but until then, she would make the most of her situation and her assets.

When she ran into Jonathan at a party, she’d told him quite innocently of her new job and the attentions she was getting from her new boss. She’d jumped at the offer Jonathan made.

The Chief Secretary had been pleading with her to have dinner with him for several weeks, following Jonathan’s suggestions she now capitulated. An invitation to dinner at the penthouse he kept at the Soho Hotel. He not wanting to be seen out in public with her, she assumed. That and thoughts of the eventual big pay day that Jonathan had promised removed any residual doubt she might have had.

That fateful night, Rosie knew she looked very good, she always did. Her office attire was revealing enough but the dress she wore tonight, was little more than a spray on. A sheath of red, clinging to her every ample curve, revealing more than it concealed. She’d expected that they would eat before she got her clothes off, but it hadn’t happened like that. No sooner was the door closed, than Alex began to hungrily pull off that tantalizing dress, quickly revealing her splendid body.

Later, lying back on the bed she thought, for an old fat balding guy he was quite an attentive lover. It had been far better sex than she had anticipated. He certainly talked a lot in the office and his tongue was quite good at several other things, she had just discovered.

A knock on the suite door followed by, “Room Service”, was all it had taken to get Alex to open the door and invite in the waiter with a service trolley. The waiter pushed the trolley through the doors and into the centre of the lounge of the hotel suite and then proceeded to remove one of the silver domed lids covering the plates.

As he did so, it struck against a metallic object underneath, the sound of metal upon metal caught Alex’s attention. As the lid cleared the plate, Alex was perplexed to see not a plate of food but a camera.  This, the waiter playing paparazzi quickly picked up, shooting five frames per second before he even had his eye to the viewfinder. It captured, the balding fat politician wrapped only in a towel, with his pretty blond temp in bed behind him, clearly visible through the wide open double bedroom doors.

It was over before they knew what had hit them; a precursor of the double-decker bus that would take her life 12 hours later. The paparazzi was gone within a minute; his memory card full, containing over a 100 compromising shots of them. It really was far too late to panic, but that is precisely what the politician did.

As soon as the paparazzi had picked up the camera, Alex Great raised his hands to try to cover his face, letting go of the towel around his waist as he did so, which had quickly slipped to the floor. The final shots captured him naked, red faced and screaming obscenities. He was still screaming obscenities at Rosie; accusing her of setting him up, that his career was over and his life in ruins.

It had all seemed like such a good idea at the start. The plan as suggested to her by Jonathan had been very simple. Sleep with him for a few months and get something on him, which Jonathan could use. The affair in itself would probably be enough and she would be amply rewarded. The five figure sum Jonathan mentioned would have been very useful indeed.

She hadn’t bothered to think what Jonathan was getting out of the arrangement, or why he was prepared to pay so much for it. She had worked with Jonathan as his secretary at the International and should have been aware of his unorthodox methods. But, like most dead certainties, it really wasn’t turning out the way she expected, although this was exactly what Jonathan had planned. It never crossed her mind he wanted the dirt on Alex Great now, not in a few months.

Rosie unfortunately hadn’t anticipated this result at all. Lying in bed with a hysterical and profusely sweating politician standing naked in front of her as he screamed obscenities at her was not what she had in mind. Definitely time to leave town for a while. One thing was for sure he was not going to be a minister much longer and he was no use to her anymore.

Grabbing her things, she slipped back into her dress. It wasn’t the sort of thing she would wear underwear with, so there was no need to search for them. She ran as fast as she possibly could, pulling on her shoes as she ran down the hotel corridor. She arrived home minutes before the hordes of the press arrived at her door.

– – – – –

The bus driver had not seen the men chasing Rosie, so hadn’t realized quite how the accident had happened. Nor did it occur to him to think how the press had arrived so quickly.

Rosie was splayed, motionless, over the bonnet of the parked car, her head sagging down over the front, her neck broken. She was clearly dead, having taken the full impact of the bus as it accelerated away from the bus stop.

The driver immediately phoned for an ambulance before jumping out of his cab, and checking for a pulse, he felt sure was not going to be one there. He grimaced as he did so and tried to look away. Streams of blood were running down the bonnet, over the front of the car and pooling on the street, the tips of her long blonde hair, already beginning to stain the colour of her blood, as they nestled in the widening red pool.

Her eyes were wide open and her crimson blood ran from both her mouth and nose, clearly illuminated by the cameras’ flashes.  The paparazzi had arrived.

The first two, surprising not going for their cameras immediately, but as the rest arrived with their flashes blazing, Carl turned to his associate Fred and said,

“Stupid bitch, we might as well get something for our trouble”.

They too pulled up their cameras and recorded the scene, in all its gore.

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