MANIFESTATION 1-10

Manifestation

  • In the great tradition of late night scares - Manifestation is a UK based one hour TV show which takes a skewed look at all things paranormal
  • Journalist Stefan Saint Maarten, Cameraman/Producer Ian Wallace and their compact team research the truths, lies and speculation regarding things that do (or don’t) go bump in the night.
  • Ghosts, apparitions, fables, legends, folklore - Manifestation brings you a case by case study of ghouls in the house, nightmare scenes and chilling night-truths... just before bedtime.
  • Series 4 Manifestation coming soon on ITV.
#

Stefan looked at the TV listing one last time and wished he’d written it instead of some dullard at the broadcaster’s office. He’d have to have words with the commissioning editor and insist that his production company has to rubber stamp any future press release. However, he did like the phrase ‘chilling night-truths’ and hoped this up-coming series would have even more frightening moments than the last series.

The way Manifestation approached its subject was as a news report. Stephan and his team would initially take the story and bring it ‘alive’ as if it was being reported on at the time of the incident. Ian, his business partner and husband, was very clever at reproducing a visual element to what happened perhaps hundreds of years previously. It was the hook that made their show different to all the others.

Some stunts were staged as part of the ‘report’ but, as the crew found from the first series, thick padding and robust protection had to be worn when dealing with the paranormal because you just didn’t always know where that eerie creak or screech came from. #

Twenty-eight year old Stephan (or Steve Martin as he was really called) and partner, twenty nine year old Ian Wallace, had come up with the idea for Manifestation whilst they both worked in the newsroom of a local TV company. They’d cleverly put together four ten minute ‘shorts’ about local spooky goings-on as a lead up to Halloween for local news. The programme’s senior editor had loved its quirky approach and suggested that it be put together as an hour special, which they would run late night on Halloween.

It was a huge success and led to the duo being head-hunted by ITV to produce a paranormal series of its own. Steve and Ian set up a production company and a series of ten shows were immediately commissioned.

There were already too many people called Steve Martin in the industry so, to give the new programme a more exotic flare, Steve used the name Stephan Saint Maarten and adopted a rather suave, trendy image. #

Originally the show would follow the same format as their Halloween special, simply because the two main characters, Stephan and Ian, didn’t actually believe in ghosts… well, to begin with that is. They wanted a more formal approach and less night-vision cameras and dark corners. However, they loved the idea of scary stuff and knew that they could, with clever camera techniques and strange angles, present a spine-chilling show for their new bosses.

At various pre-production meetings, ten ghost stories were agreed and the method of presentation discussed. However, Stephan knew from the many horror movies he’d been addicted to as a kid, just what the mind can do without the need for visuals. A hint here, a sound there, an ominous musical tone… he understood they could create a bloodcurdling account of whatever story they pursued.

However, on their very first days shoot at Woldover Castle, the eerie and scary meant that none of them went home without stained underwear. They’d been terrified from start to finish by the unexpected turn of events and discovered that the strange acrid aroma that followed them everywhere… was in fact themselves. To say they were shit scared would have been an understatement, when the notorious ‘Green Lady’, the ghost of whom they’d come to de-bunk, whispered her greetings in the very first room they’d come to investigate.

It took the small team by surprise. Stephan pissed his pants, as did Shagufta the researcher, Ian, carrying the camera was surprised to find a wet slimy mass trickling down the back of his legs. The shock encounter made them reassess the way to proceed and how they would prepare themselves for future shoots.

The appearance of the apparition was so sudden the team hadn’t started recording. No cameras were switched on, although the fourth member of the team, technical wizard, Oskar Mahler, simply could not believe why his scanning and recording instruments, which were just being tested, went into melt down.

Mercifully, he was the only one to save his underwear but because of his messy compatriots planned a complete upgrade to his scientific equipment and, on the advice of the others, to upgrade his ‘groin padding’ for future investigations. Added to the list of equipment were spare disposables, substantial rubber pants, wet-wipes and baby powder… enough padding for the entire shoot for four people, which they were thankful for on more occasions than they cared to admit.

However, the public weren’t to know about the extra protection they now wore for each episode but the story of the ‘Green Lady’ was a lively and convincing start to the first series.

Something else that became quite apparent… to Stephan at least… he had an affinity with the spirit world. Despite the fact that he started as a sceptic/non-believer he soon found his body would react when a ghost or some such entity was around. He pissed himself.

That warming glow in his pants was a dead giveaway that the spirit world was more than just something for him to base a programme on. The apparitions he saw, the broken and confused spirits, the evil and vindictive souls, the harmless but inquisitive phantoms all made themselves known by making sure that Stephan had a soggy memory of their visit. #

The first and subsequent series were a success because of their unique approach to ghost stories, which also meant that Stephan was in demand for conventions and paranormal events. He’d become a young, sexy, trendy expert on all things paranormal with a fan base growing with each show. He was a regular guest on chat shows and what had become remarkable was the bush of thick black hair he started with on that first episode about the Green Lady had turned almost white by the end of the first series filming.

Perhaps annoyingly for other similar programmes, Manifestation was getting better results; less screaming and hysteria, more actual based evidence. The reliance on night shoots and night-vision cameras, which often distorted the light levels to give false imaging, was of secondary importance. By cleverly re-enacting the scene and giving a straight-to-camera description of events, followed by a re-telling of eye-witnesses accounts all helped create in the viewer a feeling of actually being there and observing each incident. Stephan was a master of delivery and Ian just brilliant at interpreting the event visually.

It also appeared that ghosts and apparitions under investigation let themselves be known in different ways than just the occasionally unseen flying object or a clatter of some moved furniture. The Manifestation team got unbelievable first hand evidence from practically every subject; words, shadows and, yes, manifestations were captured on a variety of specialised equipment. So sophisticated was Oskar’s unique tech, that many claimed it had to be a con. The crew knew from the state of their underwear that the proof of these encounters… was deposited in their pants.

The list of gear now included boxes of heavy duty disposables and thick rubber pants. #

As they appeared to be the only such show that was getting such uncanny results it was up to the show’s frontman Stephan to dispel this negative publicity. Even his white hair was used as ‘proof’ that the team were out to deceive the public because he now used the fact it had gone white to adjust his image and present a more forceful and eccentric ‘investigator’. He’d coloured the side of his hair black so there was just a white shaft down the middle of his head, which gained him the sobriquet, Badger.

Stephan and the team had no need to explain their success to each other. There was no denying the results as far as they were concerned, it appeared that the various entities liked how they did things. The other thing was that quite a lot of what the team knew and experienced happened off camera, when the ghosts seemed more able to communicate and make an appearance.

Many times Stephan would be sat writing his script only to find an apparition watching over his shoulder.

Of course not all encounters were such silent, friendly affairs, some of the spirits they happened across (not even being aware of their existence in the first place) had often left them scared and mentally drained. The rattling of windows, the screech of an unhinged door or the scream of a person in immense pain was all very chilling but what was worse… physically being thrown across a room or a menacing voice demanding they “GET OUT”.

Although he tried to keep his own fears in check many times he felt the creeping anxiety that announced some kind of bizarre event. Stephan had a connection between this world and another but he didn’t know why. Sometimes his body would be badly bruised (all recorded on tape as evidence to what had just taken place) and proof of something though even he wasn’t too sure what. Often he’d strangle a scream only for it to escape in other ways. He never left a shoot without his preventative nappy being full to capacity. #

He didn’t let the public know about this affect but he did find out from most of the other people who dealt with the supernatural also took similar precautions when out investigating. #

The disbelievers continued to disbelieve but Manifestation was being watched by millions worldwide and had become ITV’s top rated show. One of the reasons for its success was the way Oskar had set up his equipment. He’d insisted that all members of the crew should wear body cameras, Stephan had two; one facing forward the other back, that way they always had a shot of the main camera that was following behind him.

There were locked off cameras all around Oskar’s technical area where he could monitor the many sensors and video feeds. The screens were lit with a dull orange glow which gave way to Oskar being nicknamed – the Tangerine Ghost by his own rapidly growing number of fans.

Shagufta had her own cult following. Twenty-one years old, demurely Asian, she appeared unflappable but had often thrown herself protectively at Stephan when he was being ‘attacked’ by some malevolent entity. Trying to pull him free from whatever struggle he was embroiled in… her fans called her the Nightmare Ninja.

Cameraman Ian was perhaps the least happy with his nickname, The Screaming Eye as a result of one of the programme’s early episodes. He was so taken by surprise by a white shadow that walked right through him that he let out a chilling scream. The name stuck, much to his dismay. #

Steve and Ian had been boyfriends since they were at University together. After graduation they both sought jobs in the Media and were lucky enough to be taken on by a local Television Station which was sourcing freelancers. They impressed from the word go and as they were a reporter and cameraman together were immediately set to work gathering local stories for the lunchtime and evening news programmes.

The lively and youthful way these two presented their take on stories was appreciated by the young owners of the TV station so were given more and more projects to do in their unique style. They seemed to know exactly what was needed from each other all the time so that seamless connection was what made them partners in every way. #

After the second successful series of Manifestation they took the plunge and married living together in an apartment over-looking the town square. However, since that first series of their show something else had become part of their relationship - their desire to wear nappies.

Although that had become a real need when out filming the paranormal, it had also become normal for them to wear them away from the shoot. They both loved the thick, reassuring protection a bulging nappy and its comforting pleasure offered when they were together.

When it was just the two of them in the apartment they would enjoy the freedom to parade around using the padding for what it had been created to do. Ian’s hirsute body and Stephan’s lack of body hair was a wonderful contrast, especially when set off by a thick white nappy and slinky, tight-fitting plastic pants. The guys enjoyed their new found interest.

Not only that… the sex was wild and… different. They hadn’t noticed the subtle changes in their own make-up or how daring, kinky, exotic and carefree they’d both become. Where once there had been whispered endearments, soft caresses, long loving screws… this had been replaced by paraphernalia based erotic indulgences that lasted several days. Sex had gone from sweet vanilla licking to multi-flavoured poundings… with added crushed nuts.

What they hadn’t realised was that some of the naughtier spirit ephemera from their investigations had got caught up in their heads and found a home there. The short-lived spectre had become more permanent and the soft, warm and often wet material made the perfect base to exist… in their heads and in their pants. The two lovers had no idea that their desire to wear nappies was driven by the needs of often ancient entities they knew nothing of but to a certain extent now ruled their lives. Nappies weren’t only for now… nappies were forever. # tbc #

:yes!:Les Lea another great start can’t wait for next Part.??? Kevin.:fearleading:

Thanks Kevin, it’s a bit different to my usual offerings so was a bit worried it wasn’t going to be liked.
So far so good :eek:

Part 2 BBC Television Centre

Studio 1: The Graham Norton Show

The chat show host was out front, the studio audience lapping up his comic banter and getting excited at the week’s line-up.

“Let’s get some guests on.”
I[/I]

“He’s a young comedian currently touring the country with his one man show ‘Don’t Make Me Laff’ – Steven ‘Kipper’ Herring.
(applause, cheers, welcome hugs)

“My second guest is the first lady of ‘soaps’ and winner of the National Treasure Award – Dame Barbara Knox.”
(applause, cheers, welcome kisses)

“Tonight… please welcome Ghost Hunter and debonair man about… well… just the plain creepy… yes it’s Mr Scary himself –Stephan Saint Maarten.”
(laughter, applause, cheers, smiles, welcome kisses)

“So please… welcome my final guest… he’s the Top Gun on a Mission Impossible, the star who never stops running… and great friend of the show… Mr Tom Cruise.”
(standing ovation, laughter, applause, cheers, smiles)

Tom dashes on.
(welcome hugs)

It was halfway through this very funny and lively show (Tom is always good value) when Stephan, mid-way through a description of meeting his weirdest spook… felt the atmosphere suddenly change.

It wasn’t instantly obvious to the audience, the host or the other two guests but Tom picked up on the sudden look on Stephan’s ghostly face. A stream of hot piss (thanks to the copious amounts of white wine he’d enjoyed in the green room) filled Stephan’s underwear… thank God he never ventured out these days without protection.

Two ominous white figures, in fact just heads as the bodies were simply an indistinguishable swirl of mist, floated across the studio and looked Stephan in the eye. The grimace on their faces was not that of a friendly greeting but a sneer that harboured ill intent.

(The cameramen wondered why a sudden flare and sparkly glimmer appeared on their screen. There was no extraneous lighting that could have caused such a phenomena or reflection in the lens, it was weird. Something had ‘walked’ across the set but the effect was over before they had chance to react)

The Ghost Hunter had been hunted and it didn’t bode well especially as he reached out to greet the eerie phantoms only for his hands to pass straight through the ethereal substance.

He had no idea if the studio was haunted or the spectral visit was purely for his benefit. The groping of thin air looked strange on camera as if he was having some kind of seizure but the host, who was lost in his own clever quips, didn’t notice what was happening because ‘Kipper’ was hogging the interview to tell a lame joke about ghosts. However, several ear-piercing shrieks meant something had been noticed by some of the six hundred strong audience. However, such was the timing that ‘Kipper’ was able to turn the reaction into a much better joke

(In the control room the director wondered what was going on. He saw the flare on Camera 1 and noticed the reaction on Camera 3’s wide shot of the entire sofa. Camera 2 was still on the host giggling at the comedian’s joke but that wasn’t all)

Tom also had senses that no one else knew about so had witnessed the same ghoulish apparitions as Stephan. He was stunned, and the camera picked up the look of wonder on his face.

However, although the banter was awkward for a brief moment he soon picked up the thread as the host fed him a line.

“So, I gather you collected another series of injuries on the latest shoot…”

Tom launched into a description of one of his incredible stunts as Stephan recovered on the sofa, the others appeared completely unaware as to what had just taken place, although if pushed would admit to feeling a chill wind briefly pass through them.

The control room realising they had just witnessed something extraordinary pulled the ghostly image from the recording and, with the aid of a very well prepared publicity machine, had that image and a few words proclaiming a ‘live’ ghost guesting on the show to every media outlet in the country.

As the show was recorded for transmission the following night, the publicity guaranteed the show tripled its previously best viewing figures.

Some of the audience who had witnessed the event Tweeted about their own terror at seeing a phantom visit a chat show, which only added to the furore.

In an interview that followed Stephan was only able to say that perhaps in a future series the team would look into BBC TV Centre’s own ghostly past. He couldn’t add anything further as there were no clues to a period in time the spectres came from as it was just the ‘scary’ faces he’d seen.

Certain sections of the press regarded it all as nothing more than a publicity stunt to promote the third series of Manifestation but they were wrong… if they only knew that Stephan’s messed in nappy was proof of just what had taken place.

########

It was on the last day of the fourth series shoot after they’d filmed the intro and had recreated the… story so far. Clarkenwell Hall had proved a moody and atmospheric place, even the clouds had swirled around this part gothic, part reconstructed mansion, adding an impressive surreal aspect to the story of fire, death and betrayal.

Ian was out with the drone doing a series of exterior shots of the building, flying the drone through the mist to reveal the striking and ominous building beneath. The little camera offering some wonderful birds-eye views so Ian was making the most of this eerie opportunity to gather as many different angles, pans and sweeps as he could.

Meanwhile, Oskar and Shagufta were installing the sensors and remote cameras around the building, hoping that the story they’d come to investigate would prove to be as exciting as the legend offered.

The eighteenth century mansion had originally been the family home of the Stewart-Lancing’s. Their wealth had come from the import business Theodore Stewart-Lancing had founded and had, over several generations proved financially sound. However, a lack of investment, financial foresight and a tropical storm that wiped out the entire fleet reduced the family to penniless vagabonds and Clarkenwell Hall fell into ruin.

Decades later, Henry Cassell stumbled across the almost forgotten, but still impressive pile and through his own huge wealth, thanks to a brewery that had the royal seal of approval, decided to rebuild the place to be the home for his future wife and hoped for family.

Daisy Cassell was Henry’s second wife, his first wife Beatrice had died two years earlier. Her delicate body not able to withstand the rigors of a disease she contracted whilst they were out in India. They had a son Boris who had been sent away to boarding school so had missed the death of his mother, a circumstance that would play badly in the future of Clarkenwell Hall.

Henry was forty when he married his second wife, twenty year-old Daisy Grantham. She came from a nice family but financially not in the same league as the Cassells. However, love grew between the two and eventually she agreed the wedding after being introduced to the splendid restored home her husband had in mind for their family.

She loved the solitude of the place. The English countryside dazzling in early spring sunlight, which made the mansion radiate in total gothic splendour. She fell in love with the building and knew her happiness was intertwined with life there.

Boris was not keen on another woman coming in and taking his dead mother’s place. However, his public school upbringing meant that any emotion had been stoically stored away and a polite façade adopted at all times. He never got close to his stepmother or the children she rapidly produced, much to the happiness of his father. Henry, now well into his forties, saw his family grow, first with daughter Edith, then twins Catherine and Daisy, a son Duncan and finally a baby girl Dorothy. All, five children arrived within six years just as Boris was coming to the end of his private education.

A nanny was installed so the parents had time to themselves but, thanks to Daisy refusing to let the children be sent away to be privately educated, a tutor was also installed at the house to oversee that side of the children’s development. However, Daisy was a very hands-on mother and often joined her children in the nursery to play and go on adventures, much to the hardly subdued disgust of tutor Miss Brannigan who thought children and parents should have minimal contact. Despite this attitude, she was a remarkably good teacher and although the children were a little scared of her, they did flourish under her guidance.

Nanny’s eternal optimism and love for her young charges also meant that they had an equally loving influence on their lives. Nanny and Daisy would secretly come up with some adventure they would spring on the children who were suddenly swept up, taken out to awaiting carts and driven off to a picnic in the countryside. Miss Brannigan, who was full of admiration for the way Boris had been brought up, rarely agreed to join the youngsters on such occasions, seeing it as below her station to indulge in such fripperies.

The history as to the haunting of the mansion was down to what happened on the night of the 13[SUP]th[/SUP], which just happened to be a Friday one hundred and twenty years earlier. A fire swept through the upper parts of the building killing the entire family; parents, children, nanny and tutor in a massive inferno the rest of the servants were unable to subdue.

The only survivor was Boris who, having been on a companion’s night out celebrating the end of University life was at the time staying with friends in another town. Sorting through the debris they also never found the body of the youngest Cassell, two year old Dorothy (or Dolly as she was known) fearing that such was the intensity of the inferno, her body might have been totally consumed by the blaze.

To this day there had been reports of sightings of flames coming from the charred building but when fire crews arrived no hint of any recent combustion could be found. However, members of some of these crews reported hearing screams and the ghostly sounds of fire wreaking havoc but because they had no evidence to support these occurrences, they weren’t taken too seriously by the powers that be.

However, local villagers and the occasional interested visitor maintained they had witnessed spectral fires and heard frightful screams together with the sound of some huge conflagration.

Superstition added to eye-witness accounts… it was these claims that the Manifestation team were at the Hall to investigate.

Having finished their pre-planning and pre-filming and with all their scanners, recorders and night-vision devices in place the team were ready for the final investigation of the series. Other similar investigative shows had drawn what amounted to a blank at Clarkenwell Hall but this team of ghost hunters had undergone some very strange vibes and experienced some unexplainable events during the set up period.

Out in the garden there was a crypt where the ashes of the family were kept, under which was where the body of the surviving son was buried after his strange death ten years to the day after the fire. He was the young owner of the flourishing brewery his father had built up but that particular night, whilst inspecting the premises, he was crushed when the wooden storage racks gave way and sent several large casks crashing down on him.

He wasn’t killed but his broken body was eventually returned to Clarkenwell Hall for recuperation. The doctors and nurses who tended him said he complained bitterly about being plagued by visits from his family. He said they were tormenting him and kept opening up healing wounds and making them bleed.

A year later, and in tremendous pain, he screamed at the attending nurse to “GET OUT’, although she said he wasn’t looking at her at the time, he seemed to be staring at something on his bed. When she returned with some soup ten minutes later, he was dead. His teeth set in a grimace and his fingers tightly clutching the bed sheets.

As the sun set behind the house (another fantastic opportunity for Ian to get moody shots) the building appeared to shrink as the shadows approached before then seemingly grow again once the darkness was complete. The place was wired for sound and vision as Oskar embedded himself behind his stack of technical gear – he knew that nothing would escape his ingenious, advanced, specialist paraphernalia. After all, he’d designed and made every single component and processing unit so knew what each was capable of.

Shagufta armed everybody’s body-cams as they slowly made their way up the creaking spiral stairway towards the area that had once been the bedrooms. Ian was the first to feel sick in his stomach with each step, he made what he was feeling known to the others. Stephan and Shagufta had to agree that their stomachs were tightening, whilst their throats began to feel clogged and the smell of smoke became more pungent and choking with each step.

They walked up the stairs slowly, the multi cameras capturing their halting, nervous, forward advance – there was definitely an ominous threat lingering. Back all those years ago the inferno had spread rapidly, engulfing the rooms they now sought to investigate but with each step a shiver of cold sweat dripped down their spines.

The atmosphere was becoming both uncomfortable and chilling even though the choking aroma of smoke and the distant crackle of flames could be smelt and heard.

Stephan continued with his piece-to-camera as they approached that first door, explaining what the history books and folklore of the hall had described. Even though his body was freezing, he sweated in the intimidating environment. He realised that his protecting nappy was already full as it expanded with the volume that flowed unabated from his bladder. Where normally he would welcome the warm spread of urine it now felt cold and alarmingly hostile. Why his piss should feel that way he had no idea but it was a thought that raced across his mind as he nervously reached that first bedroom door.

The smell of smoke intensified, as did the crackle and lamentation of whatever lay behind it. Stephan nervously reached for the brass doorknob but a sudden glow appeared around the doorframe. The fire had reached the access point. As the cameras and sound equipment rolled, screams and cries could be heard in the distance. The intense yellow around the door showed just how the inferno was swiftly penetrating the entire area.

Although Stephen knew it was an illusion, he kept telling himself and to camera that it wasn’t real, except, everything that was happening was actually telling him otherwise. He knew whatever it was couldn’t harm him… it was all in his head… except it wasn’t. The cameras could see what he could see and hear what he could hear. This was the very proof the world had been denying the existence of for so long.

There was death and destruction going on right behind that door.

Back at Oskar’s control point the sensors were peaking so high he couldn’t believe it. He could see on his monitors the paranormal influence spiking to unprecedented levels and even more disturbing his live TV monitors showed the very thing that Stephan was hoping to be a hallucination.

Oskar checked and re-checked his equipment but now the choking smell of smoke enveloped the room. He could see the doorway glow getting brighter and he feared for his friends. He was well away from the drama that the rest of the crew were experiencing but a voice, an unfriendly voice, was yelling at him to GET OUUUUTTTT.

The hair on the back of his neck had been rising for some time. The imminent threat had brought him out in a cold sweat and his heart-rate was at a dangerous level. He couldn’t be sure if that loud, threatening voice was real or in his head but he was convinced it meant business. Terror seized him as he choked in that smoky atmosphere… he had to get out.

The locked off camera in the room captured the moment when Oskar shit himself. Never had the psychic, mystical and ghostly come together so obviously and revealed themselves. This was not a place to hang around so Oskar, still filling the seat of his pants, made a speedy and frightening exit from the hall.

Once outside, and once he’d calmed down he’d never been more indebted to his protection. He could feel the turds sliding around his arse and groin but was just grateful to have escaped with his life.

He turned back to look at the shadowy, gaunt building; a sliver of moon just breaking over the trees giving the place a silver glow. Everything looked so peaceful. From the outside there was no indication of the interior turmoil he’d just witnessed.

Stephan reached for the brass door knob, the camera caught fear in his eyes as he hesitated. The glow around the door intensified its radiance lighting up the corridor urging and yet scaring the presenter from continuing. He grasped the metal door knob but at the same time, a yell, a scream sent Stephan flying through the air to smash against the far wall and slip injured to the ground.

The noise of the inferno, and the glow around the door disappeared in an instant. Ian and Shagufta ran to the prone body of Stephan who was clearly dazed. Although there were screams of panic and concern the camera kept turning and panned down to his hand. A clear vivid red burn mark showed that this was no ordinary encounter. A few seconds later and Stephan came round but yelled out in pain as he realised just how seared his hand really was.

Eventually he got his senses back and tried to explain to camera what had just happened.

“It was like a bolt of electricity surging through the handle…” He was still shaking but desperate to continue with his job.

Ian was past worrying about filming, although it did continue, he was worried that his partner was badly injured. Stephan waved him and his concern away trying to capture his thoughts and the weird yet wonderful situation on camera.

“Did you hear the voice?” He looked around at his colleagues to make sure he wasn’t hallucinating. They agreed they heard ‘something’ but weren’t too sure what.

The pain in his hand meant he was clutching it to his chest as he further explained that as he touched the door handle, he heard a malevolent voice… a voice so wrapped up in its own evil… screaming at him to leave…

“GET OUT.”

There were now tears in his eyes though not because of the pain… it was the trauma from the last few moments. He saw the glow disappear, the menacing crackle of the approaching fire, the screams of people as the flames engulfed those who were still alive when the fire struck… all was now enclosed in an eerie silence broken only by the voices of concern for his welfare.

tbc

Part 3

Stephan wept as Shagufta helped him down the flight of stairs and into an empty room where she could administer some first aid to his badly burned hand. There was a brief discussion about whether to call an ambulance but he said he’d be OK once the initial shock and pain had died down. She bandaged his inflamed extremity and then set about helping Oskar pack all the equipment away.

Stephan was exhausted from the event. Normally, Ian would have followed with the camera and got a blow by blow account of what happened; his feelings and any conclusions. On this occasion it had been all too real and Ian thought it best to let his partner rest before the debriefing and get some extra scene-setter shots to go with the startling (and scary) visuals they already had.

In daylight, when they’d reconnoitred the Hall the upstairs was a mixture of remains and repair. Some of the burned-out rooms had been reconstructed, whilst the West side of the building had hardly been touched by the inferno.

Clarkenwell’s own history had been recorded in several books which stated that reconstruction of the Hall’s upper (East side) rooms had commenced three months after they’d been destroyed by fire. Boris Cassell had wanted to return the building back to its former glory as a memoriam to his lost family.

According to the archives the repair work was dogged by problems with workers quitting after only a few days labour. Only half of what needed reparation was ever completed, whilst Boris made the West Side his main living area.

After the accident he was confined, much to his constant anger and fear, to the bedroom where, according to the history books:

‘…unable to walk, his body crushed and feeble, he complained that his nurses were playing tricks and hurting him with “cold barbs and suffocating pillows” however, it’s where he spent the final few months of his life’.

Stephan lay out on a dilapidated old chaise lounge nursing the injury. He clutched the bandaged and throbbing hand against his chest and tried breathing exercises to relieve some of the pain.

Although he knew he’d been through a traumatic experience he urgently wanted to finish the investigation. However, as he lay there trying desperately to fight the memory of what had just happened… well… not to fight it but to make sense of it he could feel his body erupting in sweat. His clothes felt clammy and became reacquainted with the mess in his biblical layers of protection.

He was alone when he noticed a small girl come wandering up to him. She must have only been a toddler, around two or three years old and dressed for bed. Her white lace and cotton nightie ballooned out around the thick bundle of fabric which was obviously her night time nappy.

At first, because of the pain, he thought the hallucination was in his head but realised he had his eyes open. The small, nervous child stopped at his injured hand and touched it.

“Sowwy.”

Stephan was stunned but knew this was more than a mental manifestation and clicked on his body-cam.

“Hello… who are you?” He queried.

The girl looked nervous and quite unsteady on her feet.

“Mmmm… mmm… you wan-a pway?”

Stephan’s body was chilled and thrilled all at the same time. Who was this delightful child and why was she here. Perhaps she was one of the family? Of course… maybe the missing baby girl Dorothy.

Despite her age she was able to communicate in her own childish manner which had Stephan mesmerised.

“Yes I’d love to pway… play… (he corrected) what’s your name… Dorothy?”

“Dorwy.” She smiled back with a nod.

“Okay Dolly, what do you want to play?”

She reached for his injured hand and held it. Her tiny hand was ice cold but the pain disappeared and he was led to a space between the window and the chaise lounge. He could see phantom dolls and teddy bears set in a circle around a child’s tea service.

“Tea,” he smiled at the happy little toddler, “How wonderful.”

Ian could hear a voice coming from the closed room. He knew Stephan was resting in there but wondered who he was talking to as the others were taking equipment out to the van. He quietly opened the door but could see no one although the conversation continued, except, he could only hear Stephan’s responses to it.

“What happened to your family…?

Tears welled up in the little girls eyes.

“Fire came… all gone.”

Thinking quickly Stephan asked. “Who saved you?”

“Nanny… she wen’ back for Caffy an’ Daisy…”

The conversation went on though Ian only caught a bit of it but when he peeked over the chaise lounge all he could see was Stephan sat on the floor and talking to himself. He was also making movements with his hand as if drinking from a delicate cup… like a Duchess at a tea party.

Ian shouldered his camera, pressed record and silently watched his husband in dialogue with someone or something, at that moment he didn’t know who or what. All he barely made out was a small, soft, shimmering, almost out of focus patch next to Stephan. The other thing that was apparent was the smell, there was absolutely no doubt about the scare the presenter had suffered – Stephan’s protecting nappy was full.

Over the four series and the many strange encounters, this last project was proving the most challenging. Clarkenwell Hall, for all the mystery and folklore that surrounded it was pulling them in and trying to tell its own story… or so it seemed. However, something had got in the way and an evil, controlling entity… perhaps that which had orchestrated the phantom fire and injured Stephan wasn’t playing that game.

However, Ian watched as the show’s presenter talked slowly and affectionately to an unseen presence. From what he was saying he gathered it must be a child and the word ‘Bobo’ kept being repeated by Stephan.

Ian wondered if he was actually talking to a haunted teddy bear called Bobo but he could see from the angle of the shot he was taking, so engrossed in the conversation, Badger was oblivious the camera was there. In the view-finder the cameraman detected the tell-tale glimmering shadows that sometimes the less sensitive could pick up. He saw that it was a very small shadow which confirmed his opinion that the ghostly visitor was indeed a child.

“Bloody hell it smells in here.” Shagufta exclaimed as she entered the room. “Everything’s packed… can we get out of this place…”

She realised that Ian was filming something and was stunned into silence… unfortunately the moment was blown. Stephan looked up and for the first time became aware of the camera pointing at him.

“Ohhh… did you see her?” He smiled up at Ian hopefully.

He nodded.

When Stephan looked back nothing was there and he sighed. “There’s more… there’s loads, loads more…”

He looked down the lens of the camera.

“Clarkenwell Hall has mystified the local community for over a hundred and twenty years.”

He held up his throbbing bandaged hand and whispered.

“There have been lies, betrayal and murder within these walls.”

There was a low groan as if the building itself was commenting. Stephan took a second to re-focus.

“There is so much more to tell…”

He looked down at his injured hand.

“What else… does this place… have in store?”

Pause

“Cut.”

“She wasn’t scared of me… I know it sounds stupid but… it was as if she wanted us to be here.”

The filming had stopped yet Stephan was trying to explain to Ian just how he felt about the visitor. Ian was helping his partner change, Shagufta had been correct; it really did stink in that room so an urgent trade in disposables was needed.

He’d already explained about Dolly and her childish interpretation of what happened during the blaze. He could tell from her shy demeanour that there were other secrets that needed telling but she just didn’t know how. Like Ian, Stephan assumed that Bobo was her favourite teddy bear and wondered why that inanimate object was so important.

There again, nothing about this place was normal and has had already been witnessed there was more to Clarkenwell Hall than just bricks and mortar.

Stephan’s injured hand meant that he needed help in getting his trousers off, the industrial strength rubber pants down and his double disposables, which were in a terrible state, slung into something that could contain bio-hazard material.

Over recent years both men had learned to appreciate the intimacy of having their nappies changed by the other. They loved it. Thankfully, on this occasion, Ian’s stomach was made of sterner stuff and cleaned his partner up with barely a heave or threatened upchuck. He got through a mass of scented wipes, which were needed both to clean the presenter up and also add a slightly better atmosphere to the room.

Stephan looked searchingly at a very serious and intent looking cameraman. Then he smiled as the mentholated wipes were stroked over his balls and penis.

“Mmmm that’s really…mmm nice and…”

His mind quickly snapped back from the pleasure he was feeling to what had happened.

“There is a secret here… Dolly couldn’t explain much but I suspect the fire was no accident. She said her mama and papa were asleep; they couldn’t rouse them when the fire broke out…”
He toyed with the information he had so far.

“No there’s definitely a bigger story here… and I think the place is being silenced by whatever injured my hand.”

Ian dragged a couple of pre-folded disposables from the large plastic package, straightened them out and placed two under his lover’s bum. Once he had them taped together he wriggled a pair of ultra-thick pink plastic pants up Stephan’s legs and over the bulk.

“Let’s hope that keeps everything in place for the time being.” Ian exhaled noisily; it had been quite a job cleaning him up. But now, seeing his husband in bulky, shiny and his favourite, pink protection he was happier the day was over.

It was as if Stephan hadn’t noticed his fresh clean padding.

“We have to continue filming tomorrow…”

Ian smiled and slapped the shiny padded crotch in front of him. “But we don’t have permission for a second day… or night… “

“I think once they see the images we have… the owners will be only too keen on letting us have more time to investigate… besides, I promised Dolly.”

Oskar sent a thirty second video file and a request for an extension to continue their investigation to the owners. Within thirty minutes they had secured agreement for them to take “…as long as you need”, they also congratulated them on what they described as securing “pure dynamite”. The multi-national that now owned Clarkenwell Hall saw their charity drive to restore the Gothic mansion as a far easier sell once this explosive ghost story hit the airwaves.

Despite his eagerness to ‘just get on with it’ Stephan was taken back to the hotel and ordered by his partner to rest for what remained of the night. Ian didn’t like to admit it but although there was the fire of excitement in Stephan’s eyes he could also see the draining effect it was having. The two very rarely argued about anything but the cameraman had to be firm in getting Badger stripped down to his nappy and into bed. As he cuddled his sleeping lover he detected a somnambulistic tremble throughout his body.

The night’s events had taken quite a toll on the young presenters psyche.

Trying to calm the involuntary shaking he stroked his sweating body; the huge slippery plastic bulge of his nappy the only area that seemed pleasant and welcoming to touch. Ian eventually fell asleep hugging him tightly hoping to pacify whatever now possessed his quivering husband.

Dolly pushed herself up from the tea party and waddled unsteadily towards the window, which disappeared and she found herself in the garden. It was dark and the sweet innocent little thing was scared being out alone but still tentatively moved forward, her thick nappy not helping her progress.

The dark garden was full of shapes and shadows, each plant casting a jagged outline that could so easily have been a monster. Dolly nervously advanced stopping as she was unsure where the pathway led.

She looked back and could see the house in flames, confused she wasn’t sure what to do and, not quite looking where she was going, tripped and fell right in front of the family crypt. Tears formed and she didn’t want to move forward but felt compelled to crawl away from the noisy and encroaching inferno.

After a great deal of effort her tiny hands had pulled her forward to the garden well where both her mother and nanny had dropped in coins and told her to make a wish. Those happy feelings and loving experiences suddenly darkened and the tiny frightened little girl felt a dark oppressive intruding blackness. She was scared though she didn’t know by what. However, her childish bladder couldn’t contain itself and, as she filled her nappy, let out a huge frightened cry.

It was what woke both of them up.

Sweating and terrified Stephan woke up to find himself filling his own nappy whilst being reassured by his husband.

“Sssshhhh, don’t worry… you’re safe…”

The scream had come from so deep within Stephan it was hard to believe he hadn’t woken the entire hotel. His heart was pounding and he struggled for breath as Ian held him tenderly but securely. Meanwhile, as his groin was engulfed in the warm golden flow, his body shook as he tried to make sense of this distressing nightmare.

“I, I, er, I was there…” He stuttered trying to get his breathing under control. “I followed Dol… erm… um… no… I actually was Dolly.”

Ian shushed him some more desperately wanting a calmness before Stephan continued.

His nappy full and resting in Ian’s arms he was eventually able to relax a little and piece together what the chilling dream had revealed.

“I think… in fact I’m sure… the garden holds the answer.” Stephan was already out of bed and looking for his clothes.

“Hold it. Just hold on a moment. First, just take a few minutes to hold me and calm down.”

Ian reached out his hand to pull his partner back into bed. He patted the swamped disposable.

“And you ain’t going anywhere until I get you changed and into something dry.” He looked with love into Stephan’s eyes. “I think it’s going to be an emotional day so… I’m going to take great pleasure in making sure your cute little tush is well and truly protected.”

Both men hugged each other as their slinky vinyl pants pressed together in a loving embrace. For the moment Clarkenwell Hall would have to wait… there was other business to attend to first.

tbc

Part 4

Leaving Oskar and Shagufta back at the office to download, digitise and log the many and varied video and audio feeds they already had, Stephan and Ian returned to the Hall to explore their latest assessments.

On the drive over they wondered if being daylight would make things difficult to film should they get the hoped for, and anticipated, contact. However, they had experienced things under studio lighting so perhaps it wouldn’t make too much difference.

Nervously, they entered Clarkenwell Hall, in the morning light it didn’t appear half as imposing as it had the previous frightful night. Once inside Badger resumed his seat in the chaise lounge room wondering if Dolly would make an appearance.

Almost immediately, and to Stephan’s amazement, little Dolly appeared at his side and took hold of his hand. The injury he’d sustained was still throbbing and the painkillers he’d taken were not doing a very good job. She gently held his hand in hers and the pain diminished to barely a tingle.

Ian was already filming having felt the atmosphere change the moment Badger had got settled, the presenter now turned on his own bodycam and acknowledged Dolly’s presence.

She looked up at him in expectation.

To Stephan she was a fully formed toddler but to the camera there was only the vague misty area she occupied.

“Hello Dolly…” Stephan smiled at his own sense of humour, “you’re looking very pretty today.”

She smiled shyly. In fact she was wearing exactly the same as she had previously but the look on her face meant she was struggling with something.

Immediately it became evident just what the child was struggling with as Stephan felt his bladder let loose a flow of warm urine into his well-appointed nappy and both he and Dolly smiled with a look of relief when the stream ended.

Once he realised that incredible psychic link with the toddler was still there, and that the palm of his hand no longer hurt, he looked up and was amazed to see two more figures standing behind Dolly.

Although these were much vaguer than the little girl, it took a few moments before Stephan realised he’d met these two apparitions before… on a TV show over a year earlier.

“Mama, Papa.”

A little voice thrilled at the sight of her parents and wobbled around the chaise lounge to embrace their smoky presence. The strange thing was, at the same time Dolly had ‘spoken’ those two words, so had Stephan.

Ian continued to film this bizarre meeting. He wasn’t sure what was going on but there was no doubt that his partner was in contact with something… or someone… and to watch him communicate was completely spellbinding. Two new hazy images had appeared in his viewfinder… this had never happened before.

This was very intense. Never had so many apparitions been caught on camera at the same time. A cold shiver ran down his spine and he wished that Oskar was there to confirm everything with his stack of sensitive tech. However, he zoomed in on Badger who was looking from one hazy object to the others.

Despite being completely mesmerised and having to deal with a soggy crotch, Stephan knew he was there to do a job of work. He wondered how these two new apparitions had been able to find him all that time ago. And, and this was a big AND, was it they who put the idea of filming an item at the Hall into his head.

It seemed unlikely but he had to admit that because another similar show which had filmed here had left with nothing, it hadn’t been on the Manifestation rota for this series. In fact, it was only a last minute admin problem that made them search out the back story to Clarkenwell Hall.

Was it an admin problem?

All this passed through his mind as Dolly cuddled up to the misty whirls that were her parents.

Dolly looked back at Stephan.

“Mama… Papa…” It was as if she was introducing him to them.

He nodded and smiled but the swirling adult figures didn’t smile back. A misty hand reached out and gently pushed their small daughter towards Stephan. Dolly reached up and took hold of the presenter’s hand and slowly waddled towards the doorway.

“Where’re we going sweetheart?” He questioned as he was mystically pulled forward. It was if other hands were behind encouraging him on his way.

Before he knew it they were both out in the garden. This time there was no eerie mist covering the area and he could quite easily see every plant, flower and tree. He could even see the curving pathway and what once had been a magnificent tribute to the talent of the landscape designer and his team.

Ian couldn’t get over what was going on. He didn’t know what exactly… but followed at a slight distance because he knew something huge was going to happen.

Over the four series ‘The Screaming Eye’ may not have the same connection as Stephan but he did have an extrasensory way of knowing when something was going to happen. Like the rest of the team, they’d all suffered the fear that preceded a soaked nappy but his other senses seemed tuned to an intuition he couldn’t explain. Perhaps that’s why he crapped his pants more than he cared to admit but when that happened what followed was usually quite spectacular. His nappy was full as he judiciously followed - no matter what lay within the extra absorbent folds of material he wasn’t going to miss any of what was taking place. His extra thick protective rubber pants would keep everything secure.

Both Dolly and Stephan waddled along the path, the young spectre not seemingly interested in anything other than getting to whatever destination she was aiming for. As they passed the crypt Dolly’s grip tightened and the pain returned to his injury.

“Mama, Papa… Bobo…” her shaking phantom hand pointed to the dark and aging vault.

“Is your teddy also in there?” Stephan asked innocently.

She shook her head and tears formed in her wide hazy eyes. She pointed again.

This time Stephan realised she was pointing to the other part of the tomb, the newer area where Boris had been buried.

“Ahhh,” he exclaimed, “Boris is Bobo… it’s what you called Boris…?”

Stephan seemed pretty pleased with this deduction as her grip tightened on his hand and the pain increased. This time she appeared more intent as she waddled and dragged the presenter further into the garden. He could feel other guiding hands propelling him forward towards an old capped well.

The old well had been covered over and not been in use for more than a hundred years. In fact he remembered that the Hall’s records indicated that for safety reasons it was filled in, at Boris’s insistence, because part of the stonework began to give way.

Dolly had stopped she was trembling and her eyes were streaming with tears.

“Bobo pushed…” She found it difficult to find any other words.

It took all of ten seconds for the presenter to put the story together. He was stunned by the revelation, which explained so much. He desperately wanted to comfort the weeping child but his arms passed straight through her hazy presence.

Stephan burst into tears… the gravity of the situation not missed by Ian’s all-seeing camera but the emotion of the moment sent more than goosebumps between the two partners.
An agonising moan, on the back of a sudden cold rush of air, swept through the garden. The phantoms dissolved and the area became unnervingly silent.

The two men standing, looking lost and unbelieving searched the other for an explanation… but they already knew the answer.

“Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my GOD!”

It had taken over one hundred and twenty years for Clarkenwell Hall to reveal its secrets. The excavation team that was urgently brought in discovered the bones of a toddler at the bottom of the well.

Stephan and Ian had pieced together the tragic history of the place but their work wasn’t finished. There was still an evil presence and not one any religious ceremony was capable of exorcising.

They had no idea what to do but felt it incumbent that two spirits, which had sought them out all those months ago and brought them to this place, wanted an end to whatever had been going on.

Badger, exhausted from the weeks of filming and this last epic story, which had really taken its toll, said that he gathered, and this was only a feeling, a suspicion… no… more an instinct that it was Boris’s shade that brought evil to the house.

He’d killed his parents and then gone after his siblings perhaps setting the fire to cover his tracks. Poor Dorothy had been saved by nanny who, having returned for others, was overcome so couldn’t help anyone else. She perished holding the twins trying to escape through the suddenly locked doors… the intense inferno destroying all life in its wake.

Stephan was busy building his take on the story in his mind. He had no proof of all this happening but it did fit the Hall’s archive reports.

Unexpectedly finding his toddling half-sister outside in the garden Boris couldn’t chance having any witnesses. Bobo took the trusting child by the hand, as if leading her away from danger and, spying the open well, in a moment of madness simply lifted the small lightweight body over the darkened hole and dropped her to her doom. He may well have heard her final cries and splash as she plummeted to her watery death.

Yes, Stephan had a tale to tell and couldn’t wait to get the team together for the finale.

The presenter and cameraman were alone in the locked room deep in conversation about the things that had taken place around them. Ian was confident he’d got all the necessary shots but Stephan wondered if that was the end of the spectral entities that had guided them here.

However, after a quick de-brief between the two of them, a different type of de-brief was urgently needed. Ian delved into the silver metal equipment case they used as façade for carrying their supply of disposables and the rest of much needed kit.

Badger was still suffering from the swollen and injured hand so his partner helped him off with all the heavily soaked gear. He didn’t need to explain anything as Ian lovingly wiped his hairless naked groin down, gently worked in the protecting balm they’d both become reliant on and deftly powdered the area with a cloud of sweet-smelling talc. Two thick disposables were wrapped and taped into place before a fresh pair of thick, pink rubber pants were used as the ultimate shield to prevent any leakage whatsoever.

Once Stephan was cleaned up Ian set about his own change. He knew his partner would find it difficult to get too involved, however, once he was naked and had sponged himself clean, Stephan offered the relief he could without the use of a damaged hand.

Stephan’s bobbing head looked like a small badger had attached itself to Ian’s penis but both enjoyed the experience. Once their orgasm was complete Ian grabbed two super-thick disposables and taped them into place. He had similar industrial strength rubber pants he pulled into place before both rearranged their trousers to continue with the days filming.

Shagufta and Oskar were astounded that the story had developed so quickly. Ian had filmed the entire excavation and the retrieval of the bones only waiting on the lab report to confirm whose they were to finalise the piece to camera.

The owners of the house were equally excited at the prospect that Clarkenwell Hall would soon be the most famous haunted house in the UK. They saw a future of millions of visitors who would be clamouring for access. This was going to be wonderful publicity for their vision of the property… so pulled out all the stops and couldn’t do enough for the Manifestation team to get their story completed quickly and in any way they wanted.

Stephan didn’t know just how close he was to the truth of the sequence of events. However, he couldn’t square the fact that Boris had witnesses confirming the fact he was in another town at the time of the incident.

Perhaps, the presenter speculated, he had help and these ‘witnesses’ were all in on it? Maybe, he paid them to lie? Conceivably, he could have tricked them into believing he was there? Of course there was also the chance that he was innocent of all charges… except the spectres and Dolly had made a much more convincing case for his involvement.

The small crew were convinced that now Dolly’s bones had been found that the apparitions had done their job and would no longer be around. The visual proof of the existence of spectres, ghosts, ghouls, apparitions, spirits, phantoms and spooks they had in abundance. Never before had such footage been captured and this final show, in series four of Manifestation, would take the team, and the most watched programme of the year, to unbelievable heights of fame and notoriety. The believers took it as proof, the disbelievers shouted foul and con. All were hooked to their TV screen on the day of transmission.

As Stephan wrote his final piece to camera, on the very chaise lounge where Dolly had first made her appearance, he reflected on that poor little girl’s short life. His mind wandered and wondered about the fear she had been subjected to and wished he had one last chance to take ‘tea’ with her or say his goodbyes.

An intense emotion shot painfully into his mind. It was as if the house’s entire suffering was making itself known and tears of compassion filled his eyes. A roar of sadness and understanding erupted from deep within the presenter, as his entire body shook with grief at the immensity of the legend that was Clarkenwell Hall.

He’d approached the story with little enthusiasm, not knowing he’d been led to this very moment by a far more powerful entity. He was lost in his sorrow for the little girl, a little girl who had hardly known life but who had helped them understand the history of this strange building.

‘Our hearts go out to all those who’d suffered in the ensuing fireball – Henry and his wife Daisy, the children Edith, twins Cathy and Daisy, Duncan and now we know toddler Dorothy was also a victim. The hero nanny and the scary governess all perished in a scene we can only envisage as one of panic and horror.

Boris also died under the roof bringing the number of dead to ten… no wonder the Hall is troubled from the cellar to attic and within every single brick.’

Stephan practiced his last speech, all he had to do now was finish this final piece-to-camera and the ‘assignment’ would be over.

Ian had lined up the final shot. Stephan would be sitting at the top of the long stairway leading up to the charred bedroom, the room where he’d received the nasty burn. There would be two locked-off cameras at the top, one pointing to the door and the other a rather cunning reflected mirror shot that captured Stephan in semi-profile. Meanwhile the main camera operated by Ian would slowly track up the stairs and finish on a close up of Badger with his final, closing statement.

“Action”

“In this house… a great crime took place… a crime so despicable it is hard to contemplate…”

That was as far as Stephan got before an angry roar went up.

GET OUT

They’d heard this voice before though never quite so loud or terrifying. The walls shook, paintings fell… it was if a huge earthquake was shaking the building and demanding the interlopers leave.

GET OUT… NOW

The deafening roar that followed was like an express train speeding full pelt through the presenter’s brain.

This time the fear that Stephan had felt before evaporated. He stood up and looked at the door that had caused him the injury just a couple of days previous.

“Not this time”, he said to himself.

He jumped to his feet, Ian in hot pursuit, and charged the forbidding door. He could hear the crackle of the inferno on the other side but the intensity hadn’t yet built. The smell of choking smoke filled the air but the glow under the door was still low.

Stephan’s nappy flooded in anticipation as he reached for the shiny brass knob… it was cool to the touch. Summoning reserves of strength and determination he hadn’t known he possessed… twisted the handle and, shoulder hunched for maximum effort, launched himself at the entry point forcing it open to reveal its secrets.

tbc

Part 5

The flames that Stephan assumed would greet him were no longer there in their place were just the embers of smouldering wood. Bright red and orange outlines showed where phantom cabinets and beds had once been… although that glow itself began to quickly diminish and the recent furniture took shape. The air was not quite as thick with smoke but four small and two large white misty forms walked right through him and passed onto the open landing.

Ian had been shocked to meet them as he entered the room and they exited right through him, the rear of his pants filled but thankfully the camera captured the ghostly moment. A suppressed cry caught in his throat but he continued to keep his camera steady. Once out of the room it seemed a light gust of cool air whipped the shades into one hazy cloud, there was an audible sigh, which eventually led to the eddying mist disappearing.

The locked off camera facing the door had also captured the release of the other dead members of the household.

There was a snarling rasping roar and as the smoke cleared further Stephan could make out yet another white misty shadow by the far stained-glass window struggling with something else. The presenter peered into the gloom and could make out a white apparition being held by a darker, churning shadow, with tentacles moving in, out and around the captured entity.

The white spectre was trying to fight off the darker one but was held fast. The ominous leaden shadow’s grip tightened as it pulsated, letting out the occasional loud groan as warning. The white figure was that of a young but haggard man, possibly in his late twenties but who Stephan instinctively knew was Boris, he had no idea who or what the blackness was… or meant.

Ian moved further into the room capturing everything… the lens exposing more than it had ever done… these two spirits were unlike anything they’d witnessed before.

Shagufta, who had been at the bottom of the staircase but sensing danger had leapt up the stairs two at a time in an effort to get to her colleagues. Unfortunately, she’d tripped and bashed her head on the balustrade. Slightly concussed, and bleeding profusely from a gash in her forehead, she dragged herself up the remaining stairs and entered the room. She wasn’t sure what confronted her was the result of the head trauma or real.

Down in the control room Oskar looked stricken. He couldn’t believe what was being revealed or the sensors as they beeped their overload warning. #

Studio 3 at the Media Centre in Salford was playing host to a new comedy sketch show called ‘It Just So Happens’ featuring an ensemble of comedians including Steve Herring. The crowd was in hysterics as some members of the team were doing a very funny skit on Scooby-Doo. They were occasionally slipping around and saying stuff like “We’ll pick that up later” or “Who’s got the poopy bag?” implying that Scooby was leaving little ‘parcels’ around as the rest of the team investigated the mystery.

The audience loved it as one of the cast skated right across the stage and banged into a Mummy’s Sarcophagus, which opened to reveal a well bandaged Mummy. The scary creature raised its arms and stepped away, only to go sliding along on the remains of some Scooby-do poo. The bandages came undone and the hilarious reveal was a man with a badger on his head.

“Aaaah, it, it ittsss, it’s you.” Shaggy said with incredulity.

“And I would have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for you pesky kids.”

The final line from Steve Herring (with a stuffed badger perched precariously on top of his head) brought the audience to the biggest laugh and applause of the night.

The audience weren’t in any doubt who the ‘badger character’ represented and became a main stay for the rest of the series. Unfortunately, it also meant that invariably Stephan and his team were seen as objects of farce. #

The cloud of smoke had all but cleared and the interior of the room had returned to normal except, still struggling was the opaque, shimmering cloud of black with the exhausted form of Boris. Stephan had no idea what to do next; should he say something religious, ban the shadow in the name of God, threaten it… but with what…?

At that moment something happened that the presenter could not believe. Standing in front of him was the tiny figure of Dorothy. Her nightie and thick protection was dazzling white as she stepped forward toward the two battling entities. Automatically Stephan tried to prevent her from moving any further forward but his hands passed straight through her.

“Dolly, no, come back…” But the tiny little figure slowly inched closer to the writhing spectral bodies. Dark tentacles reached out and a fearsome guttural sound emanated from the ‘beast’. Boris was hardly moving, his body wrapped and beaten by the much larger and stronger swirling evil that held him captive.

Run.” Was the only, almost final feeble plea, Boris could make.

Stephan noticed that although the tentacles stretched out to scare the little girl, they didn’t actually touch her, retreating before contact was made. She stood transfixed in front of the turbulent cloud of black and grey. Ripples of red and occasional flickers of lightning flashed under the swirling muddy beast but it dare not advance any further.

It roared loudly “BE GONE” but the tiny girl stood fast and slowly raised her hand pointing her small index finger.

Everyone in the room was mesmerized by the scene. This couldn’t be happening and yet…

She leant forward and her tiny finger lightly touched the ominous, ever winding shape.

“No Dolly, no, no, no…” Stephan screamed and saw the dark cloud writhe in madness.

He wet himself as no doubt the frightened but determined spectral toddler had also done.

Sparks flew and colours churned deep within its blackness. A momentous groan and shriek tore through the house deafening all who heard it. The lightning within it grew more frenzied and surprisingly Boris’s shade was released.

As it fell silently to the floor, Dolly, still with her finger outstretched stepped nearer and a spark flew deeper into the whirling cloud. Flashes of lightning filled the area, spreading out and engulfing the tiny figure but at that moment a silent explosion sent a huge power-surge through the room and throughout the building.

The noiseless ‘shockwave’ knocked everyone off their feet. Ian was pinned briefly to a wall, whilst Stephan was catapulted through the door and onto the landing, knocking Shagufta over in the process.

All was silent. #

After a few minutes, winded and disorientated, the team began to reassemble themselves. No one was too sure what had happened although they hoped that Ian’s camera would reveal those last few moments.

The room itself was completely still and, although slightly wrecked, held no trace of the entities that had previously occupied that space. The far stained-glass window where the darkness seemed to be strongest was surprisingly still intact. A shaft of sunlight shone through briefly casting the outline of a small child before fading and becoming just a scattered multitude of colours on the floor. The stillness was unbelievable but welcome.

A discussion between the team pulled together a different story to the one they had already planned, one where they posed the question; Was Boris Possessed? #

ITV was running promos for the fourth series and eight of the ten episodes were already edited and complete for transmission. When word got out about Clarkenwell Hall, it had been difficult trying to keep a lid on it, especially as the owners of the property were keen to exploit the upcoming revelations. Interest peaked.

Snippets from episode ten were ‘leaked’ onto YouTube, which gave a boost to the start of the fourth Manifestation series.

The first nine episodes were all destined to top the viewing figures, much to the upset of several soaps and drama series. But the word was out that the final show, a two hour special, was going to be the pinnacle of any such show and, word on the street, insinuated that the public had better be prepared to have their minds well and truly blown. #

The edit threw up quite a few fascinating anomalies. When the ‘shockwave’ hit Ian it knocked the camera from his grip so what actually happened to the darkness was never totally captured. The locked off camera on the landing caught everything, including the presenter being catapulted twenty feet across the room, ending up limbs limp and spread-eagled against the wall fighting for breath.

When he’d smacked into Shagufta it had sent her reeling back down the staircase ending up roughly where she started looking confused and bleeding from another gash at the side of her head.
Oskar had managed to flip the safety trip-switch on his hi-tech equipment a second before the super-surge hit the electronics in his room. This made sure the information they had gathered was stored and hadn’t been affected by the strange corrupting flow of power.

All the bodycams were damaged by the shockwave, so badly they thought that all the information would be lost… although Oskar set to work fixing and filtering each microcircuit determined to get some signal. However, there was still enough usable material and the images they had before the final ‘explosion’ were of superb quality.

Ian had done a remarkable job keeping in focus as in the particularly hostile spectral environment his body had continually expelled all it contained into his extremely poop-filled, ultra-thick protection.

The ‘Screaming Eye’ never admitted just how afraid he’d been, or the toxic way his body reacted. That was one outcome he was determined to keep to himself, although those who were around at the end of that day’s shoot could tell there was more to his careful waddle than any injury. #

The final edit for the final programme was proving quite a headache; ITV bosses, lawyers, religious leaders and politicians, as well as a clambering public, wanted to know more of what happened. Although a promotional tour had been organised to help with the launch of the fourth series Stephan cancelled the final few… he was completely beat. Clarkenwell Hall had really knocked the stuffing out of him and he was in quite a bad way.

He struggled in the edit suite to be comfortable with some of the footage they’d shot, especially the finding of little Dolly’s remains from the well. The presenter knew there was something not quite right but forced himself to see it through but often left the room shaking, extremely wet (his sturdy plastic pants proving their worth once again) and choking back tears.

Each of the Manifestation team had their own idea how the final show should be put together. The discussions between them all were very draining on Stephan who desperately wanted it finished and out of the way so he could get some much needed rest. It would have been easy to make it a four hour special with the footage they had and the creepy story they had to tell.

However, Ian and Stephan had the final say (providing it fell within broadcasting guidelines) and a final cut was delivered to their bosses. #

The management at ITV who watched that final show wondered if they should pull it. Its revelations, its visual proof, its terrifying subject matter - all had the broadcaster worried that viewers would be so appalled or incensed by what they saw, there would be a backlash against the network.

These shows were supposed to be for ‘entertainment’ and the Manifestation team had taken it further with each programme but this final one had bosses wondering if this was just too real, too faith-shakingly real?

The spectral intensity, the horror story, the violent images, all had the powers-that-be feeling they were standing on quicksand and that any minute might disappear never to be seen again.

Although the team were proud of the show they’d produced, they could see it perhaps knocking down too many accepted religious, psychological and paranormal barriers.

Despite its late night slot, ITV demanded a more ‘user friendly’ version cut back to an hour and decided they’d follow the show with an hour long studio debate special. This was something neither Ian nor Stephan wanted. They refused to defend the programme in such a way and accused ITV of running scared… and censorship. This was a fight they didn’t want but Stephan in particular wanted Dolly’s story out there and the best way to tell it was with the programme they’d offered for the final transmission.

Once word got out that ITV wanted a compromise programme, everyone wanted to see the original. There were even questions in Parliament and a government minister for media demanded that he should see it before the public be allowed to view it. Again, this was something the small Manifestation team were dead against but ITV knew they had to comply… there were sanctions a government could apply which might prove difficult for their business.

Newspapers mostly came out against the programme; de-crying it as a con, a cheap attack on the church, showbiz humbug, Spectral Suspect! (yes one headline), kitchen sink TV and attacking it in any way they could. Radio phone-ins were a mixture of them both – for and against – but the overlying question was… should the public decide?

Of course the public were desperate to see it for themselves. #

Meanwhile, ‘It Just So Happens’ was receiving rave reviews. The gag writers were in their element and had ‘Mr Badger on his Head’ cropping up in most sketches saying the same thing.
“And I would have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for you pesky kids.”

Which was quite funny, except that they took the character out onto the streets and did vox pops where he would point out people and say.

“Live, live, live, ghost, spectre, live, entity, phantom…” then he’d do a double take by a particularly frail old lady, “Soon to be ghost.”

The idea was funny but the executions were vicious and devastating for Stephan because even though it was someone else playing his part… the public still associated the character with him and shamelessly Steve Herring was happy to let him take the blame for such a ‘comic’ miscalculation. #

Meanwhile, the argument with the broadcaster was getting tiring and too prolonged for Stephan. Apart from the brickbats he was receiving thanks to the comedy show there was something else gnawing away at the presenter but he had no idea what. Since that final spectacular unreal encounter he’d found it difficult to concentrate, although he did his best throughout the edit, but also he retired into a little world of his own where even Ian was hardly recognised.

When they got home after their long editing and promotional day Stephan would just lock himself away and stare at the wall, rock himself backwards and forwards but staying silent or perhaps hum a simple tune. Sometimes he’d wear the same clothes, other times he’d strip down to his protection, sit on the floor and play with imaginary toys. Ian had often found him crawling around the room, padded bottom in the air and giggling to himself. Stephan needed help but until they had got this final episode sorted… there was very little Ian could do. The words and final cut were all down to Stephan and at that moment, it looked like the powers-that-be were going to pull the show. #

Meanwhile, tech-wiz Oskar had worked wonders on the broken gadgets and had been able to pull together some of the lost footage… what it revealed was intriguing. # tbc #

Part 6

“How’s Steve coping?” It was Oskar in a quiet moment in the edit suite.

The Team had never referred to Stephan as Stephan amongst themselves, he was always Steve Martin but the look of concern on the technical ace’s face told Ian there was something more than friendly interest to the question.

“Not well.”

He knew that the current state of affairs was getting his husband down. There had been moments of complete clarity, where he’d been happily immersed in work and ploughed on through with no hint of the weight hanging over him. And then, as if a switch had been hit, he’d become quiet, subdued, hardly communicating anything at all. Sometimes, well, Ian wouldn’t admit this event to his best friend, there were times Steve disappeared mentally and just hugged himself and stared at the wall.

At the time Steve was out of the facility on the phone talking to his publisher. He’d had a separate publishing deal since that first local TV Halloween special and he’d been encouraged by a literary agent friend to publish his background notes, conclusions and opinions in book form. His friend had been correct because, together with photographs used to illustrate the book, sales of that first tome exceeded expectations.

“Okay, whilst he’s away… take a look at this.”

“What is it?”

“It’s some of the camera footage we thought we’d lost but I’ve been able to restore…”

There was no boasting just his usual, clinical Germanic way of dealing with facts.

“Whoooaa, fantastic Oskar… that’s… well done my friend, that’s brilliant…”

“Wait. Before you get too excited… take a look.”

Kill Stephan Saint Maarten.

The media were going berserk with ITV and of course the Manifestation team because the Clarkenwell Hall programme, number ten in series four looked to all intents and purposes to have been shelved. Although the media was crying for somebodies blood, it was Steve Martin himself who wanted to kill the notorious Stephan Saint Maarten for taking him over so completely.

These days the only time he felt happy was away from the limelight and at home with Ian. The only time he was really happy was when sat in his nappy and plastic pants playing on the floor with some toys. It was an escape his partner didn’t quite understand but knew, after all he’d been through, should be allowed this little eccentricity. After all, they both enjoyed…

It suddenly hit Ian that he had no real idea why they both should be so happy wearing a nappy. Not only on a work day battling ghosts, which perhaps was a good enough reason, but why, when they were home they enjoyed them as well. How had this desire crept up on them and even more strangely, why had he never questioned this little ‘fetish’ before?

Meanwhile, there wasn’t a person anywhere who didn’t have an opinion on what should happen and an opinion on the Manifestation crew. They were either being badly treated because of what they saw and what they knew, or all this was just a big publicity stunt to increase ratings for the show, which to some had asked many questions but produced nothing other than ‘smoke’. This was a reference to the ghostly images the various Manifestation projects had so far screened. Some critics (and there were not in short supply) accusing the show of using nothing but smoke and mirrors to ‘prove’ the existence of ghosts.

The disagreement had become critical and ITV had tried to apply a gagging order on Stephan. However, with a book deal worth millions (following on from the success of books about each of the previous three series), pressure was mounting on them to either show the final episode or have the rug pulled out from under them with the new hardback revealing all.

At the beginning even ITV hadn’t expected the success of the show. They’d been a bit lax but for a percentage had left Stephan with the book deal he had. Of course, with the success of the proceeding series, and the sales Stephan’s books accrued, they’d wished they had better terms and more input. However, Manifestation was an independent company selling their ‘product’ to a third party. This arrangement helped ITV fulfil part of their quota for independently sourced material… just one of the many rules that existed for the network to operate.

Stephan was talking to his literary agent who was excited because of all the pre-publicity and the subsequent advance orders for the book. Although they couldn’t release a single word until after the final show was transmitted, the agent was pushing Stephan to finish the manuscript so they could go, the day after the show was aired.

Meanwhile the series had started and as expected, was knocking down preconceived barriers of paranormal understanding. The way the team approached and executed their take on each story, together with the irrefutable evidence they were coming up with was garnering praise and criticism in varying amounts.

ITV wanted more say but Stephan’s lawyers threatened them with various Labour Laws and recent Restraint of Trade legislation. The problem with these routes going through the courts was that it would tie up any settlement for years.

Meanwhile the situation became more complicated.

The book would obviously net him a fortune but there was something else – Netflix, and an American production company, partly financed by Tom Cruise, wanted the rights to all his work plus make a movie about Stephan himself. At that moment ITV knew nothing about this approach to the publisher.

Meanwhile, the presenter’s agent excitedly enthused.

“I’m not sure you’re aware Steve just how hot you are in the world. You and your little programme… I jest of course… I mean the world-wide phenomena, the amazingly, hugely popular show has taken everyone by surprise. The things you and your team have experienced, what you’ve shared with us on screen, that unbelievable rapport you have with… ghosts. ITV are stupid if they lose you… because there are others who want a piece of what Stephan Saint Maarten has to offer.”

“Oh God no.” Was the dejected response from the other end of the phone.

“Look here.”

Oskar was pointing to a hazy quick pan on the huge monitor in the edit suite.

“You can see when the shockwave hit you… howwweeeevvverrr… that blurred pan reveals something else. I’ve added some filters and increased…” he twisted a knob on the control panel in front of them. “Now you can see slightly better… that white blurred streak is…”

“Dolly!” Ian was shocked.

A shiver of excitement and fear, trepidation and resolve seemed to ripple through his body all at the same time. Ever since they started on the ‘ghost hunting’ style of programmes Ian had often felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand up, even at moments when there was no crisis. Now he was sure something important was to be discovered. It was strange all the contradicting sensations that swept through his startled body.

The explosion had sent even Dolly’s little phantom hurtling through space into Stephan.

“Now,” Oskar took control of a different camera angle. “Normally we’ve seen these apparitions simply go through our solid bodies but, as you can see from this locked off camera… and here’s Steve being catapulted onto the landing… the white shade never exits from him.”

Ian checked the three different image angles and Oskar was of course quite correct.

“Have we got another phenomenon we’ve never witnessed before… is Steve now a host?”

Oskar was only speculating, although they both knew that something was happening with their friend and it was this sudden, dramatic realisation that had an effect.

At that moment Ian’s nervous and reactive bowels released a huge wet fart, followed by an uncontrollable discharge into his thankfully tight fitting, multi-layered protection.

“Oh for fuck sake.”

Oskar wasn’t sure if that referred to what he’d discovered or the smell that slowly engulfed the room.

He put that consideration to one side.

“There’s more.”

Ian opened his eyes and asked his friend to continue fully aware that at that moment he wished he’d brought a change. It would have to wait.

“See this shot… it’s been reclaimed from Steve’s bodycam.”

He switched to another play-in mode and an alternative screen lit up.

“As you can see we get the crazy swirling darkness pulsating and going into overdrive and Dolly touching it.”

The image was as clear as day with Dolly’s glowing white outline in the foreground and the ever changing murky shape sliding out tentacles and emitting a low, gruff, groan… coiling slightly further away.

Ian was standing still desperate not to disturb the sloppy mess inhabiting his leak-proof plastic pants.

Both he and Steve had become quite big fans of tight-fitting padded protection for obvious reasons. As well as simply loving the tight encompassing sensation they received with each step, the glossy plastic underwear had given them a slippery consciousness that they enjoyed touching every time they slipped a hand into their trouser pocket.

However, now he was unsure, after the shock of seeing what Oskar had discovered, if he could trust himself to make a move at all.

“I know this is a bad time to explore this but you should be aware of what happens next.”

Oskar was so serious in tone it scared Ian… it was another thing his protection could have done without.

“Okay what.”

“Just watch as Dolly touches Boris.”

He inched the shot frame by frame forward. The camera picked up the manic turbulence of the darkness and just before the power surge… tentacles reached out and engulfed Boris’s shade.

However, as the explosion hit the camera, it could be just seen that the two clouds disappeared into thin air.

“Where did they go?” Ian asked incredulously.

Oskar sighed. “I can’t be certain but I think they entered Dolly.”

He clicked back to the large monitor that held the blurred shot from Ian’s camera.

“Look around Dolly’s mouth. For barely two frames we see a dark patch disappear…”

They both stared unbelieving at the still frame of what they saw as little Dolly swallowing… or perhaps she wasn’t swallowing, maybe the evil entity was finding a place to hide?

“Of course,” Oskar shared his preferred opinion, “this might just be a smudge…” his fingers traced the outline on the screen, “but what if it isn’t?”

“Oh Jesus, oh fuck.” Ian sat down in the editor’s chair and immediately wished he hadn’t.

His ultra-sodden disposable was just too far gone, and the super-tight plastic pants burst under pressure.

“SHIT!”

A couple of Red Top papers ran phone lines for the public to vote on whether ITV should show the last programme or not. In The Mirror it was 71% to 29% in favour of transmission, in The Sun it was 64% to 36% in favour, whilst an independent MORI poll gave it an almighty 82% in favour.

With much handwringing ITV announced that the show would go ahead as advertised, in the time slot allocated and that there would be announcements before, during and after the show for anyone affected by its content. Each segment would also be proceeded by a disclaimer and warning of the shows disturbing revelations.

The world (the ITV audience) would get to make its own decision… the excitement mounted. The press speculation ramped up several gears. Religious leaders took to their pulpits, temples, mosques and the streets to warn their followers not to watch.

Everyone wanted to talk to Stephan, the press door-stepping the team whenever and wherever they travelled. The requests for Stephan to appear on each and every TV and Radio programme became incessant but ITV wanted to keep some control and insisted on a half hour interview following a half hour ‘best off’ clips, to be given only to one of their top senior news reporters.

The network wanted this so, as to move everything along, Stephan agreed to take part.

Ian, despite his own discomfort, stared at the screen knowing that it could explain quite a lot of Steve’s more recent behaviour. The team had noticed that at times he was dynamic, funny, on-the-ball and stimulated. At other times he sat quietly hardly contributing anything to the edit; even dialogue for bits of voice over becoming increasingly difficult for him to write.

At home Ian had noticed his partner work nonstop finishing the manuscript for his book. At times he’d work twenty-four hours in one go and then, exhausted, drop to the floor and crawl around, giggling and ‘talking’ to some imaginary friend. On a couple of occasions Ian had looked at the laptop to see what he’d written, it was often a mix of incredible insight, story-telling and self-deprecation… interspersed with gibberish and childish poo references.

Of course it worried him but also knew that a great deal of stress can have a disabling effect on people. He simply hoped that once the final show - Dolly’s and Clarkenwell Hall’s story - was out of the way, that he could take him for a long break and nurse him back to health.

However, he didn’t know whether to show Steve the images Oskar had retrieved from his bodycam and the newer, ultra-high definition shots of Dolly being blown into him. It was the locked off camera on the landing that saw the presenter flying through the air on the back of the silent shockwave but no sign of Dolly exiting. Despite Ian more or less knowing the answer, he hoped that his husband’s current conduct was more down to workload rather than supernatural entities.

All the shows transmitted so far had topped the viewing charts; each week every programme offering a new ‘water-cooler’ moment by what phenomenon was revealed. Belief in the paranormal exploded in a huge way, whilst the people who owned Clarkenwell Hall were excited to see the thousands of people who turned up daily, and that was before the show was aired. In fact, all locations for the show, past and present, saw a swelling of public interest, whilst back issues of the Manifestation books saw all three emerge atop Amazon’s best seller’s chart.

The late 11pm Thursday night slot that the show had made its own had become peak viewing. Advertisers were flocking to be involved many even creating special ‘spooky’ type commercials specifically to ingratiate themselves with the programmes many fans. However, a 9pm slot on Wednesday the night before the final show was scheduled with Sir Trevor McDonald ear-marked to take the interviewers seat.

The idea was that it would be recorded in the afternoon and then edited (much to Steve’s annoyance) should anything weird happen. The network was determined to keep control. They knew the interview was in the very capable hands of Sir Trevor and that he’d conduct it with wit, flair, intelligence and impartiality. However, they hadn’t bargained on one thing… spectral entities are no respecters of television schedules.

With the programme finalised and ready for transmission, Ian had decided to remain quiet about what he and Oskar had noticed from the reclaimed footage, he thought Steven didn’t need to know, it was a relatively easy run up to the interview.

Press releases and pretty conclusive images were sent out to abate the clamour for interviews. ITV wanted their exclusive, so apart from each member of the Manifestation team being constantly door-stepped for comments (all they got was a smile and “No Comment”) they were able to get what they wanted.

However, an intense and revealing two minute clip of the show appeared on YouTube that could only have come from ITV themselves as they were the only ones with a copy of the final tape, and all hell broke loose.

Because Oskar had surrounded their raw footage and edited programmes with a ‘hacker’s id firewall’ plus a digital mark, he knew exactly where the clip came from… ITV would have some serious explaining to do… and someone’s arse was definitely on the line. However, the explicitly revealing clip, showing the swirling dark mass, only increased the hullabaloo surrounding the final programme, which was only a few days away.

Whilst the network scoured their workforce for the mole who’d unofficially released a sensitive clip, Ian and Steve took the opportunity to lock themselves away in their apartment for some ‘personal time’.

Although they were married, in recent months, time alone together had been pretty thin. With the final show on Thursday, the interview on Wednesday, they decided that the weekend, as well as Monday and Tuesday would be time to themselves. Phones were switched off (although they did have another private mobile number that only the others on the team knew) and the weekend began with scandalous and noisy sex.

The physical and mental release for both of them drove them to heights they’d never reached before and no sooner had they experienced one steaming orgasm then another possibility slipped into their heads to be attacked with the same voracious appetite. Saturday and Sunday just melded into one and other as the two lovers caught up, and got caught up, in a sexual frenzy.

Monday they were both exhausted and slept the entire day. Tuesday they thought about preparing for the interview but decided Steve was better being natural. They’d spent the entire four days wearing relatively little but when lounging around they preferred, as they always seemed to do these days, to wear only a nappy and, as an occasional nod to fashion, some exotic rubber or vinyl pants.

They absolutely adored the slippery feeling to the slinky rubber or vinyl pants, getting each other turned on over the bulky wet material underneath and eventually turning the turn on into something base and horny as hell. They went at it like sexed up rabbits on speed.

On Tuesday night Steve stripped and went for a shower, Ian was horny again and planned to join him. However, when he pulled back the opaque shower door he was greeted by a site that stunned him. Sitting on the steamy wet floor, sucking his thumb was a completely nude Steven. Every hair; head, eyebrows, legs, pubes - indeed anywhere that hair normally grew, was bereft of the stuff. Floating in the blocked drain was the remains of his famous badger look, whilst Steve himself, looked wide-eyed, unconnected and small.

Ian, horror struck, picked his partner up in a towel and carried him into their bedroom to dry off and try and break the look of bewilderment that had settled on Steve’s face. There was no communication there, just Steve sucking his thumb and rocking backwards and forwards to some imagined tune. Steve started to piss himself but thankfully Ian was quick enough to catch the flow in the damp towel. He had no idea how to deal with what had just taken place so powdered and placed him in thick protection and took him to bed. Steve immediately fell asleep in his husband’s arms. Ian wouldn’t get a moment’s sleep with worry.

Was what Oskar and he witnessed on screen earlier developing into something else?

With what amounted to a suckling baby sleeping in his arms he didn’t know what to do, who to talk to or where to start to get any help.

At that moment Steven’s eyes opened a little, he removed his thumb from his mouth and wriggled in the comforting crook of Ian’s arms.

“Papa” He whispered, slid his thumb back between his lips and sleepily closed his eyes.

He’d never looked so sweet or so vulnerable. In all the time they’d know each other, and through all the mad scrapes and frights they’d had with the programmes, Steve; bald, sleepy Steven, Ian had never felt so protective.

At the same time the tell-tale warming glow coming from his husband’s freshly soaked nappy announced all he needed to know.

Ian hugged him closer and hoped that they would find a solution. However, he’d be “Papa” if needs be.

tbc

Part 7

Despite a fitful sleep Ian woke up to find his bed empty. At first he wondered if Steve had simply ‘disappeared’ but quickly realised that was a stupid thought. His brain soon slid the right gears into place and he could think a bit more clearly. It helped that he could hear the TV on in the living room so that gave him some relief.

Wondering what state his husband would be in he climbed from his warm, cosy bed and immediately felt a chill of anticipation as he crinkled from under the covers; the plastic mattress protector, together with his own noisy disposable adding to the sound of a typical morning for them both. However, Ian was scared of just what he might find.

“Morning sweetie,” Steve cheerily said from behind a mouthful of toast. “There’s plenty of coffee if you…”

His last words were cut off as Ian gave him a much relieved and passionate kiss.

Scanning Steve’s now completely denuded body, apart from the saggy plastic pants that had yet to be attended to, he seemed to have made it back to some sort of adulthood.

“Wow, you gave me quite a scare last night…”

“Why, what hap… oh… you mean this?” Stephan brushed the top of his bald head and grimaced.

“You could say that.”

“I was hoping you could tell me what happened. Did I go mad and shave everything off?”

Ian wondered what to say but settled with the truth.

“No love, you went for a shower and when I came to… to check on you… you were sat there under the spray sucking your thumb and…” he swept his hand over Steven’s body, “completely nude of any hair whatsoever.”

“Mmmmm.” Steve was thinking and so was Ian.

“You looked lost and, like a few times in recent months, completely unaware of anything that was going on.”

Steve looked caringly at his obviously worried husband and confessed that it had been a bit less of a joyride recently. He shrugged his shoulders but not in a flippant way, more ‘I wish I could explain it’ way.

However, Ian offered the only explanation to the situation he could come up with.

“I don’t know why but, well, Oskar showed me some reclaimed footage of that final explosion at the Hall. It shows Dolly hurtling towards you but… we… didn’t see her leave.”

“Oooohh… Keeping this to yourself?” Steve gently admonished.

“You’ve had enough on… and there’s more today… we weren’t sure whether it was a good idea to tell you?”

“Mmmm, well, to be honest, for quite some time now I’ve felt, erm, other than myself.”

He looked to his partners to see if he’d noticed.

“You can say that again,” was the less than ‘comforting’ reply.

The relief on Ian’s face said it all. He actually thought he’d lost his partner and although he’d slept, his thoughts kept returning to how he was going to deal with this strange and baffling change.

However, this morning had cheered him up by the fact that this sudden lack of even slight hirsuteness had not phased Steve one bit.

“This will stuff the ‘Badger Brigade’,” a reference to his many fans who had adopted his hairstyle and choice of clothing as fashion options.

“There’s too many of us baldies for the comedians to take on.” He smiled at his own take on the situation but oddly enough it had solved one of the many things that Stephan was beginning to regret about being famous.

There was no doubt about it as far as Ian was concerned; his hairless husband looked like a baby sitting in his shiny vinyl pants and obviously full nappy. He needed to be taken care of and Ian suggested a time for a change.

“You look a bit soggy… you want me to change you?”

“I assume you put me in these in the first place?” Steven smiled and ran his hand over the glassy bulk.

“Well, yer… after finding you in the shower like… er… that… hairless… and you were peeing all over the place… I thought you needed it.”

“Mmmm thanks… no rush I’m very comfy in them.”

However, before that Ian wanted to know if Steve also wondered why they had both taken so easily to wearing protection all the time now. After a brief couple of beats pause he continued.

“Why do you think we’ve both taken to wearing nappies… even when not filming?”

Steve thought for a moment and then gave his partner a reply he wasn’t expecting.

“Well, I’ve always liked wearing them.”

“Really?” said a confused looking Ian.

“Let me explain. When I was eight I went to stay with my uncle, aunt and cousins near Ilkley. Mum and dad needed some time to themselves and, as it was summer, I was shipped off to the countryside for a break.”

Ian settled himself on the sofa next to his husband and listened intently.

“I always liked visiting that side of the family, they were always bright and cheerful, I expect it had something to do with living in a village. Anyway, I was made welcome and slept in the same room as my cousins – Benjamin, who was eight, the same age as me, and his little sister Julia, who was five.”

Unconsciously, Steve started rubbing the front of his silky plastic pants.

“When it came to bedtime, Julia still needed to wear protection as she wet but I was surprised to see that Benny also wore a nappy and stuff. I assumed, like me, he was eight and had got over the need. However, on that first night, I shared a bed with him and intrigued started to enjoy the feel of all his soft padding underneath his jammies. We were just giggling and being typical, silly eight year olds waiting to be told to ‘shut up and go to sleep’, which eventually did come”.

Ian hadn’t heard this story about Steve’s childhood before so was quite fascinated.

“The following morning of course, little Julia had wet herself but Benny was dry so I asked him why he wore a nappy (I emphasised the word because of how childish I thought it was) when he obviously didn’t need it.”

Steve looked into Ian’s eyes and said.

“Because I don’t want Julia to feel bad.”

Steve just shrugged.

“Yes, an eight year old boy, worried that his sister would feel bad about wetting had decided, on his own, to do something about it. He told me he loved his sister and didn’t want her to feel she was the only one so had an ‘accident’ himself. So, with a bit of cajoling from him, made his mum put him in protection as well. Once his parents realised what was happening they insisted loudly that whenever Julia was wearing nappy, so should he… they all went along with the rouse. It seemed a nice thing to do for his sister.”

“That was pretty intense for a lad so young.”

“Yes, a little hero I think but… the following night, as my aunt was getting them both ready for bed and into their protection I asked if she thought I should also wear a nappy. She smiled at my thoughtful suggestion but said only if I wanted, she wouldn’t force me. So that night I spent my sleeping hours in a very nice and tight-fitting nappy covered, like Benny’s, in a pair of crinkly white plastic pants.”

“So a selfless tumble in plastic pants with your cousin was what set you off?” Ian was joking but still wondered.

Steven smiled.

“Not quite, there was very little tumbling or fumbling although we did seem to play around wearing just our protection most nights. As it was summer, we dispensed with our PJs… it didn’t seem to bother any of us. And, when we went on trips, we all wore padding for them as well.” Steve emphasised. “It simply never bothered us.”

“Well you’ve been keeping that a secret for a long time haven’t you. So, did you miss not wearing…?”

“Not so much a secret it was that I just grew out of it. After the holiday with my cousins I got back home and never really thought about it again. I mean, I haven’t worn a nappy since then until after our first Manifestation’s shoot and the Green Lady… God that brought back a few memories… and filled pants…”

He laughed as he remembered the torrid time they’d both had trying to come to terms with wet pants and the obvious decision to wear protection on subsequent investigations “…to be on the safe side.”

“I did feel safer once we’d made the decision.” Ian agreed.

Steven looked down at his soggy and full nappy and the glistening plastic pants obviously in need of some attention.

“However, now I am wearing these things… I feel secure and if I’m honest, I love the feel it gives around my crotch… like a permanent hug. So, yeah… I like to wear them and…”

“But why do I?” Ian was a bit confused. “I can see they might have some basic ‘nostalgia’ from your childhood but I don’t… so why do I now love this kink… this fetish… have this need…?”

“Perhaps you did but didn’t know it.” Steven teased. “Perhaps you’re just a big baby with a nappy fetish? Perhaps…”

His joke was brought to an abrupt halt as Ian grabbed Steve’s slippery plastic pants and yanked them down… his nappy was quick to follow.

Quite a girlie squeal escaped Steven’s babyish body.

“And perhaps… I just have a thing for bald guys in soggy nappies.”

Studio 6 at Media City in Salford was where the interview would take place. A corner of the large area was marked off and furnished to look like the interview was taking place in a very upmarket Gentlemen’s Club, with high backed leather chairs and a library of books, not what Stephan would have wanted but this wasn’t his call.

The ‘It Just So Happens’ team had recorded their final programme the night before and there was little doubt that the show was a huge hit in the Saturday Night, 7pm slot. In fact, Stephan would have to walk past a series of enlarged stills from the show that decorated the walls to get to Studio 6, including one of Steve Herring playing him.

Although no one at reception had believed that this bald man was Stephan Saint Maarten, it had tickled him that, as he walked past the photos, and especially the one of him, he’d more or less killed that joke stone dead with his new look.

Sir Trevor greeted him with a huge flash of his world famous welcoming smile and was desperate to know why the change of look.

“Ask me in the interview and maybe I’ll tell you,” was the enigmatic reply.

The interview started at 1pm. ITV had stated that it would be an ‘as live’ interview so they’d keep to the 30 minutes allotted and hope that was enough. Sir Trevor hadn’t run any of the questions past Stephan but he was confident he had the ones ready that the audience wanted answers to… the first.

“Why the new look?”

Typical of Stephan, most of the answers were self-deprecating but truthful. He didn’t swerve from any questions and the biggie.

“Do you believe in ghosts?” Got the only answer he could possibly give.

“Not to begin with but I’ve seen and experienced so much whilst we’ve made the series. I’ve met unbelievable characters with their own story to tell… I have witnessed things I’m certain my mind could not have made up… so yes… you see what we see… I believe in ghosts.”

“Your critics say you’re just a con artist.”

Stephan knew it was a question that had to be asked but smiled as he gave the answer.

“What would be the point? You either believe or not believe… conning the public is not in my remit. I tell stories of what eye witnesses say they’ve seen. I’m as surprised as you are at the way we have been open to entities, the paranormal… call it what you will… that have graced our shows. If people have doubts, they are going to keep those doubts but I don’t… the evidence is there on film and I have bruises from some and heart breaking compassion from others. I would not want to treat them as figments of my imagination…”

At that moment the lights dimmed and standing at the side of Stephan as plain as day was a small white figure. Sir Trevor looked surprised, the colour drained from his face as Stephan turned to Dolly and smiled.

“Thank you sweetheart but…”

Eventually Sir Trevor got back some of his acclaimed composure.

“Erm, er, um… who is this?”

“Ahhh so you see her too?”

“Of course.”

“Do you believe in ghosts?”

“I didn’t but…”

Wednesday Night.

They had dropped the ‘special’ appearance of Dolly from the half-hour interview and managed to cut the piece down from a 90 minute chat to 30 minutes to fit the schedule. Sir Trevor was gobsmacked and wanted them to show the entire interview but the network declined. ITV were even worried by Stephan’s new bald look and thought it quite scary… they begged him to wear a wig but he declined. He looked like he was an extra from the Addams Family, possibly Uncle Fester’s younger brother and desperately wished they’d chosen a more modern and upbeat set.

However, it didn’t matter because just as the ‘best off’ clips started the broadcaster suffered an enormous power outage that took everything off air.

The Network fell into panic as satellite stations attempted to be brought into play but even they were having their own difficulties. It was as if the paranormal had staged a terrorist attack, an idea that sent shivers down the spines of many TV executives.

The control room had never seen anything like it and would, when called upon to give evidence of just what happened, find it difficult to put into words the ‘fog’ that descended and appeared to soak into the control panel. They knew it was no ‘fog’ but didn’t dare admit to what they’d actually witnessed.

Power resumed an hour later right on time to meet the Ten O’clock News.

Stephan got the blame for unleashing evil powers by people who’d spent the last several years decrying the existence of the paranormal and supernatural. But one thing was certain; the viewing audience for the final Manifestation was going to be astronomical.

Earlier, after the interview was completed, something else happened on the Wednesday afternoon that went un-noticed by the media; Oskar returned to his home in Germany and Shagufta flew out to a retreat in her family’s homeland India. Meanwhile, Ian had organised to stay at a cottage by the coast in North Yorkshire owned by Shagufta’s parents. No one but their faithful researcher knew they were there as she’d stocked the fridge and pantry with supplies. In addition, Ian had brought a car boot full of nappies, disposables and the like, just in case. Plus a selection of toys Steve had enjoyed playing with when in his other, more juvenile mode… he really didn’t know how things were going to pan out.

And there was one further instruction… no further communication between them all for at least a two weeks - the Manifestation team were to disappear.

Thursday Night.

In the UK the live TV audience totalled over twenty-one million, by the end of the evening over in the USA; the show had been seen by an estimated 45 million and after twenty-four hours that had rocketed because of YouTube, Facebook and the like to a world-wide figure of around 114 million… and climbing.

The show was as sensational as everyone had been led to believe. Dolly’s story and recovery making several generations of ghost deniers weep buckets. The physical spectacle of seeing Stephan catapulted through the air together with the obvious confusion and surprise at witnessing the swirling darkness made the subsequent chaos all the more believable.

The battered bodies of the team and Shagufta’s bleeding head turned the scary atmosphere into a battlefield. The sudden and unexpected appearance of Dolly as its saviour, made brilliant and compulsive viewing. Even Oskar’s bleeped cursing as each action registered on his sensitive equipment adding to the drama of the moment. It did look like a well-constructed film but the basic, uncontrived reality won the audience over.

ITV had their biggest success ever on their hands but they were running scared.

The Network was already in serious trouble with every major religion so, under pressure, even Parliament was questioning the show’s and, by default, ITV’s ethics (maybe something that might have been mentioned before transmission). However, MPs were of the opinion, they’d get the blame if the show was axed, whereas now they could join in the volley of negativity aimed at the TV channel. It was a maxim that the young Steve Martin had learned at university – Never trust anyone in power, they’ll always abuse it.

Stephan and his team couldn’t be traced so ITV had to sort the outcry out by themselves. Meanwhile, Stephan’s literary agent had the book ready and at midnight on Friday it went on sale. Pandemonium broke out in many book stores across the country after a rumour went around that it was going to be a ‘limited edition’.

In truth that was never the plan but once the rumour mill starts, it’s best to be prepared… there were lorry loads of books already published and waiting to satiate a hungry and demanding market.

It sold out in hours.

In a quiet little cottage by the sea two almost thirty somethings were relaxing and a first for some time – stress free. They’d put on their now familiar well-padded nappies, pulled up their designer blue shorts and sauntered hand-in-hand along the empty North Coast beach. For the time of year the weather was kind, with a gentle breeze and hazy sun, although a thick jumper was still needed to be on the safe side of warm. Barefoot they’d paddle in the all but freezing North Sea and chuckled at their own silliness, they’d even sat down and made sandcastles… it was a wonderful few days.

Steve had known that the negotiations between ITV and their company had more or less ground to a halt. The Network wanted to keep their options open but because of all the controversy also wanted to move on; although hating the idea of the BBC, SKY or Netflix getting their hands on such a successful series.

In a meeting between the team they’d discussed options and although they were all keen to keep the crew together… the general opinion was that they’d taken the franchise as far as they could. They hadn’t ruled out the occasional ‘special’ but a new series would be just too demanding. Ian wasn’t sure if Steve could physically take the rigours of another ten programmes. The bruises from Clarkenwell Hall were almost healed but to Ian’s eyes, Steve had suffered more than just the tangible damage… his hurt was deep.

The Media was in uproar because nobody could find Stephan. They had tried bribery of friends and sophisticated tracking systems but, with the complete blackout at the cottage, the couple were free to continue their perfect break. Also, because of the radical change in Stephan’s appearance, which because of the interruption to the broadcast network had not yet been seen by the public, they were able to acknowledge people on the beach but still go unnoticed.

After the fourth day Stephan/Steve began to display a more juvenile side, it was one Ian had seen before, like the time when he first encountered Dolly. He’d sit and imagine a children’s tea party, or make a fort with imaginary teddy bears. He’d only wear a nappy and crawl around the room in a world of his own. At these times it was hard for Ian, he wasn’t involved, although he did try by inserting himself into the situation and bringing real toys into play. Eventually Steve latched onto these items and they’d play together, which was a terrific turning point for Ian.

Letting go of any grown up references they spent a great deal of time just having the type of fun a couple of toddlers would. However, it was Ian who remained ‘Papa’ so fed and changed them both when needed.

Strangely, sometimes after a nap, Steve often appeared back to normal and they’d talk or he’d write or they’d go for a long walk together. There was no knowing when he’d drift off back to his inner child.

They’d spoken at length about what Oskar had discovered and what it might mean. Steve was definitely of the opinion that Dolly had, at some point and well before the explosion at Clarkenwell Hall, already taken up residency. He didn’t know how or why but many times he’d felt the toddler pull him in a certain direction. He did fight against it but had to confess that she led him into being a playful toddler which he liked. Her influence was strong but said he hoped to control it.

Ian knew how difficult the answer seemed but he had to ask.

“Do you ever get the feeling that either Boris or that bloody darkness stuff is also in you?”

Steve looked lost and unable to answer that question.

The last show in series four of Manifestation had certainly created a sensation. Questions were raised in Parliament and as mentioned church leaders were aghast at the revelations, desperately trying to call foul, con or some other form of televisual trickery.

Because Stephan had ‘disappeared’ it was the turn of spokespeople from similar shows to wade in on one side or the other. However, as none of the shows had come anywhere near the contact or ‘proof’ the Manifestation team had attained almost from the very start, they were split on exactly how much support to offer. It was difficult to come right out and say it was a con because that would have painted their own shows in a similar shade and, it wasn’t true.

The problem they had, they had to defend Stephan. He was the only one of them all to actually make what they were all doing something more than a bit of late night spookiness… he gave them all value. What people witnessed on their screen from him they might deny as real but they couldn’t deny it was compelling.

There was a growing public awareness of the paranormal and Manifestation was the cauldron; the mix of fact, fiction, folklore and filmed evidence that there was more to it than just an almighty confidence trick. The show broke boundaries, giving verification not only to the possibilities of ghosts but proof of their existence. Clarkenwell Hall had proved once and for all that we don’t know everything. That some religions might have had the right idea about life after death or that good and evil can and does exist in that other realm.

Even more than a week after transmission there was still a hubbub of controversy surrounding it. However, with some serious lobbying from Sir Trevor he finally got the Network to think again about his interview; the ninety minute chat with Stephan, intercut with some previous show clips, was shown in its entirety. This time the broadcast went off without a hitch and they even showed the surprise appearance of Dolly… and Sir Trevor’s undisguised reaction.

The day after, the Media went into melt down.

Life in the little cottage was becoming very comfortable. Ian had adapted quickly to the changes in Steve’s personality and it appeared, as long as he kept him well protected both socially and physically, a very thick nappy and suitably robust leak-proof plastic pants, he was happy.

Almost two weeks of wonderful isolation had gone by; no newspapers, radio, TV, phone calls, nothing… when there was a knock on the cottage door.

Steve was playing with his wooden toy trains on the carpet as Ian wondered who could have tracked them down. As only Shagufta knew where they were, and the nearest neighbour was quite a walk away, he decided it must be her checking all was well.

He slipped a pair of baggy khaki shorts over his own colourful nappy and plastic pants combo, leaving Steve playing on the carpet wearing nothing but a pale pink t-shirt and a rather tight-fitting but bulky nappy surrounded by matching shiny pink vinyl pants.

Ian felt unsure about answering because he thought Shagufta would have called the special contact number first rather than just turn up… but the knocking continued.

However, when he opened the door he was astonished to see a small, dark haired man with a huge grin on his face. It took Ian a couple of beats before he recognised the smile’s owner.

“Tom… Cruise?”

tbc

Part 8

It was almost like a switch had been flicked because no sooner had Ian spoken the visitors name than immediately Steve was back to adult mode. The whispered “Thanks Dolly” was unheard by the other two by the door.

Tom’s surprise at the way Steve was dressed was pretty well masked by his enthusiastic greeting. In the pantheon of ‘weird’ - Hollywood had plenty and certainly more extreme - a man in capacious protection wasn’t going to faze him at all
.
“Oh hi Tom, nice to see you… what brings you to… our hideaway?” The bald, adult looking infant smiled at their guest, whilst pretending he wasn’t surprised at the star’s appearance.

Tom ever the polite gent held out his hand and greeted Steve as he remembered him.

“Well Stephan, Ian, you guys are almost impossible to find… it took quite a bit of… research from my team but eventually we tracked you down.”

Immediately the two nappy-clad men smiled as both imagined the locker full of spy-tech that the Mission Impossible star could access… thus enabling what was impossible, to become possible.

“Well, I don’t know whether to be worried or honoured that you went to so much trouble but… let me guess… you want to talk about the film and TV rights to the Manifestation story?”

Tom gave them that smile that had driven him to the top table when it comes to Box Office success. The man’s movies make millions and so did he.

“I’m filming in Edin-bo-ro at the moment and when I found out you were only a matter of a hundred, two hundred miles away I thought I’d make the trip myself to try and convince you about just how Steve and I are pretty excited about the next project.” He said as he pointed to the two of them. “You.”

Ian had a query.

“Steve?”

“Speilberg. We have a company together and after what I witnessed a year ago on Graham Norton’s show, I convinced him there’s more to your story than what we see on TV… and we’re all pretty impressed by that.”

Steve and Ian had of course talked about the offer, his literary agent had been very animated about a deal, but the show’s presenter was less excited. He looked down at the toy trains he had been playing with and smoothed out the front of his shiny plastic pants.

Then out of the blue Tom made a statement.

“I can see Dolly is still with you… your interview with Trevor McDonald, Sir Trev,” he joked as if he didn’t quite understand the British honours system, “was shown the other day and to say it caused a reaction would be an understatement… especially your new look.”

With the self-imposed communication embargo to the outside world, neither of them knew about the network shutdown caused by… ‘fog’… or the ensuing hysteria. Tom eagerly brought them up to speed and ended by explaining this was why their story was so exciting.

He offered them Executive Producer credits and that the entire team would be involved in production. Ian, if he wanted, would be given several episodes to direct although they wanted to cast a group of unknowns to play their parts. No big names, the new show would be a launch pad for future careers… Stephan could be in on the casting if he wanted but Tom advised against it.

“Would it be set in the UK?”

“It would be a worldwide franchise. We start with your story but expand, because of your growing fame, to investigate paranormal events around the world.”

There were more questions that Tom had no trouble answering. It was obvious that they had already given this a great deal of thought and planned out a pretty extensive way to approach the story with humour and surprises.

“We could do international paranormal claims as ‘specials’ if you want to keep your hand in but the main thrust,” Tom looked from one to the other, “would be a backstory to each show people know and remember. Those you’ve already investigated and where something that didn’t make it to the screen… well… you get the idea?”

In a short time Tom had laid his cards on the table and such fervour was certainly catching, well from Ian at least. The deal was incredible but Tom’s personal involvement and desire to make it happen… and happen soon… gave them an option that would make ITV squirm.

Stephan said that he couldn’t guarantee that entities would show up on demand.

“It doesn’t matter… you won’t be in the main show… and… all that would be added in post-production.”

He could see the cogs turning in both their heads.

“Look, we can, if you still want to, have the team investigating the occasional ‘special’ from a worldwide spread of paranormal stories. That could run alongside the ‘factional’ TV series, which when I think about it… gives us even more layers to your story.

He smiled that smile again.

“We mainly see this as a fictionalised version of a fact based investigation… but that can change.”

Ian looked over at his partner and wondered what was going through his head; it’s not like he didn’t know how TV worked. So why was he unenthusiastic about it all?

“…you will get other offers guys…”

And then he said something that surprised them both.

“… and tell Dolly we’d look after her.”

He searched their faces for a reaction.

“Stephan,” Tom looked at the presenter with concern, “you are carrying quite a weight. I noticed it that first time we met. You have an aura that is unlike anything I’ve ever witnessed before… and it confuses, yet intrigues me.”

He was searching for what he hoped would be the correct words.

“I saw what you saw. I have experienced some of what you’ve experienced… but… you have a gift and an individual knowledge that few if any others possess or who have undergone such intense interaction. You are unique. Your story is exceptional, your secrets and insight are…”

And then his face lit up in a huge all-encompassing smile.

“You have something… something profoundly different.” He looked down at the thick padding. “I can see a reason for the diapers… Dolly… and perhaps others… want to be your friend…”

This observation both shocked but relieved him of some worries yet Steve wanted to be the perfect host, whilst changing the conversation.

“Okay Tom, we get it… now… can we offer you a tea, coffee…?”

“No thanks, I need to get back but guys, think about it… another opportunity…?”

“Yes, errm, um, thanks,” Ian said but noticed that Steve had already picked up his toy train and started choo-chooing around the carpet.

The Superstar disappeared as quickly as he came. Ian was stunned at what the actor already seemed to be aware of. His affinity to what Manifestations was all about and his acknowledgement about his own empathy with the paranormal had struck more than just a chord between the three of them.

Meanwhile, Steve was on his knees pushing a wooden train down an imaginary track whilst purposely filling his nappy. He was pretending he’d gone into his ‘other’ state of mind but in truth, he was thinking… there was a lot to take in and moreover he liked it when Ian became attentive to his ‘little’ side.

He only wished he had more time to play.

Whereas Shagufta was away at her mountain retreat Oskar had not been happy with this enforced break. He wanted to check and re-check each frame of info they had captured at Clarkenwell Hall for clues to answers to some of the world’s spiritual questions. He was aware of the effect what was shown would have on faith and was keen to share whatever conclusions he could with the masses.

He’d spent the two weeks locked away at the family home in Germany (a castle a few miles outside of Munich) where he’d been building a newer, more advanced piece of tech that he hoped would be able to interpret not only the images but the disrupted visual noise which replaced it. Basically, he was designing a machine that could read and interpret ‘electromagnetic TV snow’ to form a graphic illustration as observable as a straight forward image.

The prototype, which he’d awkwardly dubbed RIIG (Radical Image Intensifying Gizmo) was ready so he returned to the UK and the edit suit, checked the firewall to see how often the library had been attacked by hackers (1,409.004) and set to work on unravelling frame by frame the secrets he knew lay in each piece of info they had shot during that last mysterious explosion.

Although, over the past four series they had tons of ‘contact’ with entities and other paranormal incidents, it was at Clarkenwell Hall that they encountered the ‘black mass’ something that they’d never faced before. It was such a dramatic revelation, and the fact that they had such profound evidence of something ‘other’ existed; it was time to give another angle on the Manifestation concept.

Oskar was on a crusade. He wanted to go deeper and offer an explanation for all the paranormal, psychic and supernatural incidents that happened around the world. He thought there must be a link whether it was psychological, physiological or indeed practical. The answer, he was convinced, lay in the footage they already possessed.

Since the final Clarkenwell Hall programme and the extended Stephan interview with Sir Trevor, together with the lack of contact with the main protagonists, all hell had broken loose at TV Centre.

The building itself had been besieged by both protesters and supporters. The chairman was called before a Parliamentary Select Committee to defend the show. He took Sir Trevor along for support and to add the journalist point of view to the proceedings. Sir Trevor championed the programme and what the team were trying to achieve. He pointed out that denial of the facts by the Parliamentarians was no excuse for any attack on the production. They claimed that they were not against the production, or the results of their research, just whether it had been in the best interests of all concerned for those results to be broadcast.

As anticipated the public had been appalled and enthralled in equal amounts so those gunning for the team and those who wanted to award them Sainthoods saw a countrywide split. Overseas, and in the Southern States especially, the rhetoric had turned to proclamations of violence against Stephan and any supporters. Violence was brewing, stoked by clerics across all religions not happy about the new way their faith was being scrutinized.

Apparently, the afterlife was true but that raised more questions than it answered.

Oskar may have been attempting to gives some concrete solution but would he be thanked if, or when, he did?

Ian had been feeling strangely horny since Tom had arrived at their door. However, Steve had returned to being a toddler so Ian would have to wait for the action he hoped for. He saw his partner’s huge billowing cushion and knew it was time for him to return to being Papa. So, at a more practical level, he took the opportunity to change his partner out of an incredibly sodden nappy.

Steve was looking wide-eyed but barely connected as the powder, lotion and thicker disposable were applied. However, once he was snugly returned to his well-padded and now dry protection, life returned to his eyes and Ian could speak to him as an adult.

“I think it might be time to return to the Land of the Living.” He said intimating that their couple of weeks of isolation should end. “We have a lot of explaining to do and…”

“I’m in no hurry.” Steve chipped in. “I can’t explain it but… I… I… I feel calm here.”

Ian looked at his partner with sympathy. He knew just how relaxing the break had been but was also clued up enough to know that if Tom and his team could track them down, it wouldn’t be long before others could as well. He didn’t want Steve to be harried or caught unaware; there return should on their terms.

“I know sweetheart but decisions need to be made… and Tom’s offer won’t be there for ever… and… what the hell are we going to do about the ITV contract?”

Steve’s eyes filled up. There was no huge sobs this time just silent tears streaming down his cheeks. Ian responded by saying, in the gentlest way possible.

“I know these last couple of weeks have been wonderful but we need to let the real Steve take charge now and give Dolly a well-deserved rest.”

This was the first time Ian had acknowledged that Dolly was such a factor in their lives. He’d hoped that his partner’s strange behaviour was down to stress and ignored the obvious, if implausible, alternative.

The way Dolly appeared as if from nowhere when Stephan was in danger - she was both a projection of his psyche and an ephemeral but fundamental spirit aligned to her host. Dolly was as much Steven/Stephan as he was either of those names.

All these thoughts flooded Ian’s head as once again he wrapped his husband in a dry and ultra-absorbent nappy and pulled up a thick pair of blue rubber pants.

“There, those should see you through until we get home at least.” Ian said smiling as he patted the hefty padding.

They were both very happy. Once Steve was back to his old self, the urge, no, the need for sexual intimacy raged within him. Ian was only too pleased to see this return of his insatiable and imaginative lover, whilst he provided the drive and impetus to their occasionally plastic panted compulsions.

It was really quite amazing how a thick nappy, and slinky rubber pants could turn two thirtysomething guys on… yet it did… and craved for it.

Whilst the sex was taking centre-stage, Dolly was nowhere to be seen. They could indulge themselves, perhaps knowing that with their return to ‘civilization’ the opportunities for such behaviour would be few.

The transformation from a bald baby, intent on playing with toys and filling a nappy, to the manic bald controller so focused on hitting the heights of sexual gratification was scary. Ian had seen this intensity on many occasions, usually when Steve had a brainwave that would lead the team into a new direction. There was more than just passion that slid between those two slick sweaty bodies.

Eventually, completely spent, Steve smiled his thanks, sad he was about to leave a place that had given him a few days of respite but, agreed with Ian, major decisions had to be taken and couldn’t be put off indefinitely.

Oskar and Shagufta had been alerted by the private mobile number that it was time to confront the next chapter in the Manifestations future aspirations. They were to meet up at the edit suite and examine all the latest info that Oskar had pulled from the fragmented files… they weren’t to know just how important … or deadly this next stage would be.

tbc

Part 9

The outcry had been enormous, mainly negative but some very positive. The media in general hated the fact that the instigators of this controversial programme were nowhere to be found so had aimed their collective venom at the network. Meanwhile, everyone who witnessed the show was left in a quandary as to whether everything they saw was true. The spin in the newspapers was that it was just a gigantic hoax and special effects; though a large proportion of viewers across the globe were left spellbound and wanting more.

Everyone knew that there were enough visual tricks; green screen, back projection and a host of other techniques used on many other programmes, to make people question the show’s authenticity. Even having Sir Trevor endorsing what happened was not enough, nor was the surprise arrival of Dolly. The show, like it always had, created more questions than it answered and quite a number of those questions the-powers-that-be didn’t want to acknowledge never mind answer.

Things had changed at ITV. The Chairman had, after a nasty vitriolic campaign by some areas of the media, fallen on his sword and resigned. The network’s Commissioning Editor had also been called out and had done the same. The mood within the company’s hallowed walls was one of suspicion and regret. However, the word was out that whoever took over the reins, one thing they were certain would be the top of their list for action - Manifestation would be axed. It was just too controversial to handle.

The tranquillity of the mountain retreat had been most calming and just what Shagufta had needed to replenish her internal batteries. Such was the wonderful pure peace the place offered that she’d slipped into the mental void and embraced a different part of her spirit. No radios, televisions or phones could receive signals; the place relied on its twice weekly delivery of goods and guests for information and any possible return to ‘civilization’.

The problem for the ‘Nightmare Ninja’ was that after the two weeks, she began to feel restless. It was if she was mentally being called back to the UK but, and this was a surprise to even her, she had found something here, high up in the mountains that she desperately wanted to pursue. Unfortunately for Shagufta, the edginess in her thoughts began to intrude to such an extent her return was inevitable. That abstract, though demanding call was just too fierce to ignore.

With the restoration of the crew seemingly underway, Steve had to take note regarding the strange closedown of ITV for an hour, which just so happened to coincide with the planned transmission time of his recorded interview. This incident had taken him by surprise and the description of the ‘fog’ had, as usual, left more questions than answers. Now he knew the when… yet the why’s and how’s just didn’t add up. This was something that, as far as he knew, hadn’t been instigated by him. Surely he couldn’t have triggered such a calamitous incident – could he? It wasn’t like he didn’t want the programme transmitted – did he?

Steve had been in Stephan mode on the day of the interview and, if truth was told, resented that ITV had put him in such a position. That having been said, he liked Sir Trevor and thought his questions were astute but none aggressive.

Did the sudden presence of Dolly have anything to do with any of it?

At the time he was grateful for her sudden arrival giving his argument a timely boost but, and this had been churning up inside, he wanted desperately to protect this small, delicate, sadly abused little girl though didn’t know how. He agonized that her appearance would cause more problems than she solved.

In their post sex discussion, as Ian and Steve lovingly cleaned and fitted each other snuggly into their protection, they’d agreed that Tom’s offer was too good to turn down. As each delicate wipe, tenderly smeared dollop of lotion, affectionately applied new super soaker cotton nappy adoringly pinned into place and the silky smooth superior innovative rubber pants slid amorously into position, they agreed that Netflix was their next move.

Nevertheless, from the start the production team ethos had been all had to agree before anything was set in stone. Conversely, there was absolutely nothing about the offer that either could see didn’t benefit, and to a certain degree advance, what they were already doing. The idea of being played in a fictional/factual version of themselves by actors was quite an exciting project. Although in a moment that Dolly would have been proud of, Steve suggested that perhaps a cartoon version of them might be more acceptable…

“Think what it did for the careers of Scooby-Doo and the Mystery Machine?”

He said with a chuckle, whilst at the same time acknowledging the piss-take of him on It Just So Happens.

Although news of the changes to ITVs hierarchy hadn’t yet filtered down to the team a new, vigorous Stephan St Maarten appeared at the edit suit keen to move to the next stage. Shagufta had yet to return from India but Oskar, steady and reliable Oskar, was excited about telling his colleagues what the new tech could do… or to be more exact, he hoped what his untried tech might do. He’d tested it at the castle and it seemed to work OK but, he had only used it on a very narrow parameter, one bodycam chip, so still wasn’t sure of the overall effect.

What he didn’t tell them was the obsession back at the castle, which had driven him to design and make a piece of equipment he wasn’t sure was possible. He’d tinkered with many electronics in his time and designed quite a few of those used on the show, however, this was different. It was as if he was being driven to achieve a particular end, which he justified to himself as the need to explore the truth of paranormal phenomena… worldwide.

Oskar came from a long line of influential German aristocrats. His father was a huge voice in the Bundestag, as were his brother and sister, whilst his mother was Chair of an Overseas Charity. His home, a castle his family had lived in going back more than ten generations, was a place of dignified elegance and huge historical importance. However, the young Oskar had no interest in politics and carved out his own career, leaving the family business to strike out on his own terms. His ability to immerse himself in the technical world and absorb its many complex theories had led him away from home and a place at a UK University where he befriended Shagufta and eventually became a member of the Manifestation team.

It was Shagufta who had sold the idea of the clever German using his skills on this new innovative and controversial project. Once it was underway he was hooked on the possibilities and loved each new mix of science/technical/electronic/industrial development he helped create. His scepticism about the paranormal just one of the many things that took a beating, whilst being responsible for all the tech back-up a show like Manifestation needed. The weird and wonderful came to him.

The last two weeks at the castle had seen him driven to elaborate the systems the team had been working with. He had no idea where the idea for RIIG came from but he knew there was a reason as he worked ceaselessly day and night trying to perfect something he wasn’t even sure was possible.

What had been strange though was that as he worked he had the feeling that someone, or something, was observing his every move; perhaps even emboldening the intensity of the work. After everything he’d experienced since he signed up to the team, paranoia was not one of them… and yet…?

There was one other thing that he wouldn’t admit to. He knew Steve and Ian wore protection most of the time, although he put it down to need not preference. But, whilst he was working diligently and almost nonstop on the piece of tech, he’d pissed his pants on too many occasions and developed a requirement for his own protective ‘windel’. As with all German products it was efficient, well-made and extremely absorbent so found he didn’t have to change too often, which made work time more effective?

Oskar was still weary of this bald guy. He knew it was Steve yet the dramatic change had been a scary revelation. However, that same bald guy now sat in the editor’s chair was no longer the broken and drained person he last saw just a couple of weeks ago. Steve was brimming with fun and confidence. It would appear that a visit from a Hollywood Superstar, and a prolonged sex session, had given just the right rejuvenating elements needed to get him back to his more effervescent self.

For the past couple of days, as he’d had talks with his publisher and caught up with the news… his ‘little’ side, his Dolly side, had remained locked away. Apart from his occasional wet nappy, it was the adult Steve (and Stephan when he needed to be) that was now in charge.

However, mulling over just what the next move would be Steve wriggled contentedly in the crinkly protection he knew was probably unnoticeable under the new loose fitting casual look he’d adopted. Since they’d returned from their brief exile he’d found a more grown-up comfort in his nappy. He was relaxed, he was excited, he had direction but, and this took him completely by surprise, the occasional jet of renegade pee that occasionally spurted into the thirsty new fabric, sent a shiver of trepidation up his spine.

The clamour for interviews from the media were all knocked back much to the annoyance of various moguls who thought they could just click their corporate fingers and they’d get what they wanted - Stephan was at no one’s beck and call. There was something else that he was glad to put into place. On Tom’s visit the star had intimated that the team should be ahead of the game when it came to publicity, promotion and interviews. Suggesting that they set up their own ‘publicity centre’ where they could get information and argument out before other areas of the media had chance to react.

Steve and Ian had accepted the offer of Tom’s own specialist team of Bloggers, Super Bloggers, Vloggers and Intel-hackers; after all, they’d been able to track the two down when no one else had been able to do so. That teams job was simple - to keep several steps ahead of any media giant intent on causing trouble. It was as if the Hollywood Superstar already had an idea that a fan and shit were soon to become well acquainted.

With Shagufta still not making an appearance as yet, Oskar was brought up to date with the Netflix offer. He agreed it sounded a fantastic opportunity but begged Steve not to allow some offensive German caricature to play his part. They then spent quite some time laughing and theorising about who might play them all and how Hollywood would emphasise their idiosyncrasies.

This was like the ‘good old days’ when, at the very beginning of the shows run several years earlier, they’d been able to laugh at what they were aiming to do. In those initial days none of them actually believed in ghosts or any kind of paranormal existence. They’d argue in ignorance about what they might find or what they’d have to conjure up to get the story over. However, the laughter and mockery of the subject came to an abrupt end with the appearance of the Green Lady. The rules had suddenly changed; the ridicule stopped and a respect for each story became the only way to go to make their ideas for the programme work.

Stephan had been first to come up with a new concept for engaging the subject and it had been the enigmatic smile and perceived encouragement from the Green Lady that had led him to assume his character and that approach. He added a mixture of curiosity, humour, self-effacement, facts and astonishment, which gave the show its undeniable edge.

The backlash began with Good Morning where the show’s production team had done a simple mock up to show how easy, via camera manipulation and super-imposing a ‘spirit’ could simply be manufactured ‘on demand’. Of course this was nothing like what had happened on any of the Manifestation shows but it was specifically done to put doubt into people’s minds. ITV were trying desperately to claw back some support from those calling for the closure of the network.

Some newspapers pounced on this ‘proof’ and began even more to ridicule and call the Manifestation team ‘…heartless conmen’. Sighting the fact that none of those involved had the temerity to face the public and explain themselves.

Tom’s team of ‘specialist hacksters’ were quickly on the case and turned the argument back on the shady political dealings of two prominent media owners; there competitors saw a real gain in going after them rather than a bunch of TV personalities. The trouble was – when it comes to members of the public, TV personalities trump political shenanigans every time.

Stephan was uncharacteristically livid with the Good Morning programme. He’d had a very good relationship with them in the past appearing on that show often first before any other interview had taken place. He’d even let them have exclusive footage of up-coming shows to give them a lead on Manifestation projects. He felt betrayed.

The following morning a strange mist descended on the London Studios at 10.30. This Morning Live was about to start its two hour show when suddenly the power failed, the studio filled up with a light hazy glow but not a piece of tech worked. Nothing electrical in or out of the Thames-side complex could be detected. The presenters of the show and their guests wondered why the atmosphere had gone as cold as the circuitry.

Back in the control room there was no such thing – technicians at all levels were thrown into complete and utter confusion - every piece of equipment was dead. Whilst the network fumbled through their standby tapes for a ‘Best of’ programme, there was a complete blackout of ITV, nothing was broadcast for the next two hours.

The Manifestation team may well have had their problems with soggy pants… however… it was nothing like the trail of messy underwear that many of the ITV crew suddenly found themselves having to cope with. As the network scrabbled around for a solution - BBC, Channel4 and even Five had the highest viewing figures for their morning shows.

Exactly at 12.30pm, when officially the show would finish, the cool mist evaporated and all power was unexpectedly restored so the company could continue to broadcast with the rest of its schedule. Managers, engineers, technicians, producers looked to one and other for answers but there were no cool heads able to explain what had happened and more than a whiff of suspicious desperation circulated throughout the studio.

Meanwhile, Oskar wasn’t having much success with the RIIG. It worked at a very low end of what he expected and it was only when Shagufta walked through the doors at the edit suite that things changed.
After a brief but loving exchange of greetings, a strange expectant hush descended over the quartet. They all seemed to know that this meeting was the last of one experience, whilst unsure what else beckoned. Ian reiterated to Shagufta the meeting he and Steve had with Tom, her eyes widening in excitement at the novel prospect that lay ahead. Her previous vows to pursue a life of meditative contemplation evaporating as the innovative possibilities were revealed to her. A grin a Cheshire cat would have been proud of spread over all their faces as the team enthusiastically endorsed this new direction.

Satisfied that all were on-board Steve put in a call to the private number Tom had given him for when (not if) he wanted to take things further. He didn’t get to speak to the man himself but left a cryptic message that only the Hollywood star would know the answer. Pleased that the wheels were now in motion, he volunteered to go to the store and get a couple of bottles of champagne to celebrate.

Whilst away he put in a call to his literary agent and told him to pursue the contract with Tom’s office. Two minutes later he received a call from ITV asking for a meeting. He declined saying he already knew what they wanted to discuss and was happy to terminate their agreement without culpability on either side. Again he directed ITV to his agent to finalise the break.

Five minutes later, as his hands were about to grasp two bottles of Tesco’s finest champagne from the chill unit he received a text from Tom with a smiley emoji and piece of programming code that would enable him to transfer info directly onto Tom’s company’s server.

As he put his phone away and reached once again for the expensive bottles of bubbly, a terrible icy shiver ran down his spine. This produced a reactive spurt of piss to fill the front of his nappy and he stood there, half in and half out of the chiller, clutching the two bottles and flooding his rapidly warming protection.

That wasn’t all. As he looked around he noticed that everyone else in the place was standing still, as if frozen in the moment; the cold air from the cabinet mixing with the warmer air of the store forming little wisps of cloud. He wasn’t sure but ‘could there have been faces in those tendrils of cold mist?’ This effect could have only lasted moments but to Steven it felt like time had been stretched, his fingers almost glued with cold to the bottles.

And then as quickly as it came… it passed.

Although unnerved, because a similar chill had run through him in the fire room at Clarkenwell Hall, he reached the checkout and beeped his way through the self-service area. A kindly old lady who had the responsibility of verifying that the alcohol buyer was the correct age smiled and congratulated him on whatever it was he was celebrating. She had no idea who he was or that this bald middle-aged chap had soaked his new but discreet thirsty padding like a two year old.

There was an air of renewed optimism in the studio. Despite this Oskar awkwardly explained to Shagufta and Ian what he’d hoped would happen but as yet the success of RIIG was minimal. However, fresh from her ‘mind-cleansing’ break the Nightmare Ninja suggested that maybe, rather than individual pieces, what was needed was to assemble to entire tech set-up exactly the way they’d used it at Clarkenwell Hall. It hadn’t been amassed in its totality since that epic day but to Oskar it seemed so obvious and was quite ashamed he hadn’t thought about such a solution himself.

Shagufta and Oskar set about collecting the equipment from the storage unit at the back of the studio. It was where the Manifestation library, programme rushes and script files were also kept. Oskar’s design for his monitoring set-up was cleverly constructed so that it could be built and dismantled with ease. Just a few cables and plugs linked the many sensors, monitors and other scientific pieces together and a good power source to get the entire show on the road.

Steve returned, his soaked nappy now rubbing him in a most sensual way (the new, improved nappy quality and the even more specialised thick vinyl/rubber pants were reacting very differently than usual), just as the final cables were attached but before the final switch was flicked to turn the entire thing ON. Before that happened Steve got Oskar to type into the computer system the few programme code’s Tom had sent, which opened up the firewall that had been surrounding the Manifestation security. Steve knew that to transfer the back catalogue as well as all the rushes they’d accrued over four series of their show would take time but the team back in the States, who were developing the new Netflix series, needed as much background as possible. It seemed a reasonable and obvious request.

Once that was underway Steve wanted to toast the hoped for success of their new endeavour; a celebratory chink of bubble-filled glasses and a chorus of ‘CHEERS’ prompted the next big step.

Oskar flicked the on switch and immediately the screens lit up with the snow of static noise. A shimmering display of monochrome pixels danced across the multi screens that were now in use. Oskar then switched on RIIG and a loud tone (more like a groan) erupted from the speakers. The dials and led lights on his equipment danced trying to find the correct level, eventually all stopping at their peak.

Oskar examined the large 72” edit screen to see if he could discern any changes and to his surprise, and delight, there was an image taking form. In fact, all the screens were beginning to display something more than the interference.

It wasn’t what Oskar had envisaged.
##tbc###

Part 10

In an unassuming four story, glass and concrete building just off the Silicon Valley grid stand the offices for Guardian at the Gate Productions, fronted by Messer’s Spielberg and Cruise. Exterior-wise, Sentry House (as it is known) is quite inconspicuous but internally it is a gigantic hub for the latest and most advanced electronic nano and quantum developments in computer science.

The top floor houses the offices of TV executives, producers, directors and creative expansion teams, together with meeting rooms and a two bedroom apartment for any visiting luminaries. The third floor contains the working programmers, creative development, the artistic story-liners and visual architects. The second floor is the ‘FUN’ area, which also contains further meeting rooms, rest areas and sensory pods. The ground floor is a massive green screen studio and audio area, where production of many of their shows are recorded or tested.

To date they have three successful TV series running, a feature cartoon in production, several co-productions and are in development on seventeen new projects – Sentry House is very busy.

These areas the public are aware of but there are two further subterranean floors, secret floors, where Sentry KEY operate. These two covert zones have within their walls the most radical spying, hacking,
personal and private information gathering equipment in the world. Innovative computer systems track, collect and store the world’s secrets from everywhere… including their own government.

Where other such Intelligence gathering units around the globe had bank after bank of computer hardware - drivers and servers - Sentry KEY has a hybrid system (Oskar would have been in awe had he known) that could sweep the world’s burgeoning computer files, extract data in moments, decide what’s needed and deposit that info in its bank of four small and heavily disguised storage units. These units operate across all server domains but are so innocuous few would guess their real function.

There is no secret that Sentry KEY is not aware of, no firewall it cannot penetrate and no key code it cannot access. It was because of the paranormal phenomena Manifestation was uncovering, that the team and their TV programme was deemed ‘of interest’. Oskar had intentionally put all their information ‘off-line’, with no accessible electronic link so gaining all that information had been impossible. Sentry KEY wanted what Manifestation knew… it was an area that only the show had tapped with any success.

Had Messer’s Spielberg and Cruise been aware of that fact, and how they were manipulated by ‘interested parties’, no doubt would have been rightly appalled. Alas, like the rest of the world, they had no idea just who or what Sentry KEY’s real function was… or even of its existence under their own building. A successful production company with such VIPs was the perfect cover for what the illicit and illegal organisation were actually doing.

There were no staff occupying those two floors, just computers and AI machines constantly updating and accessing codes and information. Commands came from elsewhere and the data compiled used to influence world affairs.

If what the Manifestation team had accessed was true, and Sentry KEY thought it was, then they would have need to add such a powerful source to their armoury of ‘special capacities’… though at that moment they weren’t sure how that would happen.

The black and white pixels and interference seemed to dance and gain colour. The fuzzy monochrome suddenly began to twirl as if a cloud or fog was rolling across its surface. Specks of blues, yellows, reds and flashes of bright light seemed to be coalescing and slowly converging from all the other screens towards the large main monitor.

A growl of relief emanated from the speakers. Other sounds may have been words but the Manifestation team were unsure as the low-pitched rumble reverberated around the edit suite. The monitors were sparking into an array of swirling colours which could have been faces but may just have been a trick of the churning illumination. Deep within the colour a darker shape formed, absorbing the entire colour and emanating a gloom split by shards of lightening.

It was at this moment that the team seemed to realise, almost as one, what was about to happen and at that nano-second of recognition (thankfully, like Stephan, he’d worn his thickest padding and impermeable pants) Ian crapped in his pants.

He wasn’t alone.

Under immense pressure the large screen blew apart, releasing the spiralling darkness into the room. The place was engulfed as once again, time appeared to stand still but the shade grew. The team were rooted to the spot as those scary tentacles of blackness reached and searched each person, releasing whatever was inside and claiming it back.

To their surprise Oskar, Shagufta and Ian could feel things (they weren’t sure what), being extracted from them. Shadows from past encounters they didn’t know were living in their bodies were drawn out in a flurry of foggy spectres. The wild churning entity absorbed each one and swirled angrily as more and more phantoms appeared to be dragged into the edit suite from outside the room.

Later witnesses would confusingly claim that they saw fogs descend or that they themselves felt drawn towards the building, though in fact had never moved. Some maintained to have seen past members of their families disappear towards the swirling mist that quickly and mystically engulfed the structure. Faces, angry, sorrowful faces were pulled from that mist only for it to disappear as quickly as it came.

Inside the facility equipment was exploding unleashing shards of metal, glass and wood in all directions. The twisting, coiling entity was gathering itself for a final confrontation from its previous, though unknowing, captors.

Having been trapped for so long inside the equipment it was devouring all the power it could muster from everyone and everywhere. It had disliked being captured, it disliked those who had held it so, and now, it would wreak such revenge.

Steve surveyed the room unable to help as more and more apparatus became part of the spiralling tentacles of whatever dark and sinister energy now occupied the room. Like his partner, his bowels had loosened and he’d unceremoniously filled his tight protection… it was the least of his worries.

The turmoil continued as Oskar was first struck by an errant piece of metal… soon his entire body was just a pin-cushion of metal and glass splinters. Pinned up against a wall and with more and more items spearing his bold Teutonic body life was leaking from him.

A large sweeping tentacle smashed into the Nightmare Ninja who had no defence from its frenzied attack. With ease Shagufta was swept through the air to smash through two glass partitions, glass shards sliced into her body and blood flowed to join that of her colleague.

Steve and Ian witnessed the carnage but couldn’t move; the first real terror either had faced left them rooted to the spot though Ian tried to get his husband to leave. His call was lost in the static whirling sound, the violent churning of what now lay within the beast that had taken possession of a once peaceful and soundproofed studio. Dazzling sparks seemed to light up the swirling cauldron for brief moments before being engulfed by darkness but still it held Steve’s gaze.
The hypnotising flashes of lightning, together with swirling images and faces of the past, held him transfixed.
Except…
Two large tendril of blackness punched into Ian and sent him sprawling backwards into the breaking masonry. He then saw the entity turn all its attention onto his partner and simply engulf him completely.

Sparks flew, the room shook, and masonry cracked splitting the room into a hybrid of churning dust, debris and intense darkness. For a brief second time stopped followed almost instantaneously by a hellish roar of finality. It was at this point that Ian briefly fell into unconsciousness. #

Ian had no idea how long he’d been out. The noise, the entity, had disappeared leaving only the day to day sounds that filtered into his brain as he heard people’s voices shouting out if everyone was “OK”. Dust and rubble had piled up everywhere, there was no semblance of an edit suite left… there was also no sign of his partner.

The voices drew closer. He could hear them say that they’d found two bodies but knew that there were at least another two people in the building at the time of the ‘explosion’. Ian shook himself clear of the small amount of debris that covered him and began to search for Steve. He heard a soft cry, a cry he’d heard many times before and hopefully dragged himself in its direction.

“Steve, Steve, talk to me Steve… are you alright?” There was both panic and fear in his voice as he eventually got to his feet and stumbled towards the sobbing.

For a few seconds Ian stood amazed. Looking frightened and neglected was Dolly. Her clothes had been torn, although her giant baby’s padding was still intact, but she looked alone and lost. It was she who was sobbing… he had hoped it was Steve. He reached out to comfort the poor child but her hazy apparition dissolved as soon as his fingers slid through her misty outline.

“Steve. Steve… where are you STEVE?” Terrified at what had taken place he stared at the horrific scene desperately searching the mess that was once the edit suite… and the building that once housed it.
“There’s one alive here… I can hear him shouting…” A voice Ian had never heard before seemed to be getting closer.

“We’re coming mate. Hold on we’ll get to you soon but it’s a bit unsafe… so stay where you are.”

It was at that precise moment that three and a half tons of precarious stonework broke away from the wall and smashed down onto the Screaming Eye, never to scream again.

“Oh fuck.” The only comment from the rescuers that made any sense to the tangle of wires, metal, glass and wood… plus the three bloody bodies that littered the scene of total devastation. #

They searched the rubble for hours. A couple of eye-witnesses had confirmed that there were at least four people in that particular part of the building when it ‘collapsed’ but a fourth person could not be found.

With the realisation of just who the deceased were the rumour-mill started. Although the observed mists before the ‘accident’ made more sense conspiracy and counter-conspiracy theories were quickly unleashed on a world desperate for an answer to what was pronounced - a bizarre incident.

Murder most foul - perpetrated by Stephan Saint Maarten - was the top speculation, with the WorldWideWeb adding hundreds and thousands of opinions, reports, tittle-tattle, claims, beliefs and a myriad of other preposterous allegations. But the main question was – where was the Badger? Stephan Saint Maarten had quite literally disappeared off the face of the Earth. #

In the days that followed Stephan came under even more suspicion when his agent stated that the tragedy struck just as a major new project for the team was about to be announced. Only earlier, on that day of the ‘accident’, and after a confirmation call from Stephan and the broadcaster’s representatives, he’d signed a new, multi-million dollar contract with Netflix.

Speculation was rife that Stephan had become greedy and killed off the other members of the team so he could have all the money… and because there was no body to prove otherwise, this theory took hold.

There were even some heartless members of the media who suggested that no doubt he’d return when the time was right as one of his ‘ghosts’ to claim the ‘pot of gold’.

With the lack of Stephan’s body (live or dead) things got a bit desperate and the new Netflix show was temporary put on hold. The files held on the servers at Sentry House were quiet as decisions were made
as to what to do next.

Stephan’s British agent had power of attorney and said that a long-standing directive from the team was that should anything ever happen to them to “transmit and be damned”. This he explained meant that everything should go ahead even if things got a little sticky or mysterious. Stephan knew that the area they worked in was pitted with incongruities and the inconceivable but none-the-less should be explored.

Also, the last message the agent received from Stephan was how the entire team were excited and on-board with the idea of the Netflix show. It should go ahead.

The police were baffled by what had happened but maintained their ‘interest’ in one person; Steve Martin, also known as Stephan Saint Maarten. The fact that he’d disappeared without trace was suspicious to say the least and a massive worldwide manhunt was launched to find him.

Meanwhile, some of the hated media were having a field day printing any rumour, argument, gossip or conversation that could blacken his name and thereby bringing the entire Manifestation story in to disrepute.

A ‘careless’ exchange between two police officers who were searching Steve’s and Ian’s apartment mentioned they’d found a whole host of baby products designed for adults; nappies, disposables, rubber stuff, toys. The journo who overheard these comments immediately latched onto something that he knew would be sensational, exclusive and damning.

The headline: Babyfestation – The sleazy world of TV’s ghost hunters.

There then followed a three page revelation on the ‘sexual’ practices of TV’s favourite ghostly investigators - including mock up images of both Ian and Stephan wearing the specified items - actual photographs of just what exactly was bought appeared alongside the item.

The journalist had done his research and found the supplier of these articles. Although the source had insisted that it was provided as a preventative measure because of the scary subject they investigated, the reporter saw a way of turning this on its head… and getting into his editor’s good books.

It was presented in such a damaging way that the couple were indulging in dodgy ABDL practices (the journo went into great detail to explain to his readers in as negative way possible just exactly what those initials meant) inferring all manner of immoral and corrupt practices that might even have included children.

There were no facts, or even fiction, in the piece that suggested such a thing but the Twittersphere and social media took up this cry as a natural progression from such revelations.

By including a series of none attributable ‘quotes’ and ‘observations’ the journalist’s entire feature was presented as fact and accepted as such by a large proportion of the paper’s readers.

What had been a loving response to a ‘sticky’ situation whilst Steve and Ian worked on the more scary aspects of their show the paper had turned into a debauched and evil act. The media leapt on this unsubstantiated story and tore the team’s reputation to shreds.

On this issue, and because of the lack of direction back at Guardian at the Gate Productions back in the States, the blogging press core were caught wrong-footed and their response was too little too late. #

Stephan woke up.

He was unsure if he was Steve or Stephan he only knew that something drastic had taken place and tried to remember the sequence of events.

He had no idea where he was, and, as he searched around, wondered what exactly he was.

It was mostly dark, with just the occasional green or blue spark emanating from somewhere. An occasional ‘noise’, he couldn’t quite make out what the sound was but there was definitely some sort of background ‘hum’ going on.

He tried to examine his body but that proved even more difficult… there was no body to examine. In fact, he wasn’t sure if he was alive or dead. He needed to think and think quickly and recollect exactly what had happened. #

Back in the disintegrating edit suit the entity had engulfed Stephan in a bid to kill him. He wanted to absorb the power that this live human possessed for itself. Unfortunately, because of the presence of Dolly it couldn’t kill him although was able to eject her spectre and imprison her host. Seeing time running out the entity sought an exit.

The download feed to Sentry House was almost finished and this seemed, to the swirling mass of energy an opportunity to change continents, the best opportunity for a secretive departure. It engulfed the servers and, with the final pieces of code being transmitted to the receiving servers in the USA had the perfect exit strategy.

Unfortunately, those servers were like the equipment that Oskar had developed and were for holding information and not accessible until needed. So for the moment it seethed and plotted its revenge but remained, for the moment at least, trapped.

Stephan was beginning to remember. Images of the bloody bodies of Oskar and Shagufta, the pleas from Ian to “run” echoed inside his head. He relived the visual horror that surrounded him and the physical psychic punch he experienced as the darkness enveloped and kicked out Dolly and all the other shades that dwelt within him.

Some appeared to be absorbed but a frantic looking Dolly, stunned and upset looked up at him alone as more shadows circled and encased him. He couldn’t even reach out a comforting hand as he suddenly felt the power in every atom of his body fragmenting.

The edit suite dissolved into nothing and felt him being carried along at great speed.

Then nothing… until now.

He assumed he must be dead and that where he was was some kind of afterlife - in some way he was correct.

Sentry EYE had now the rushes and back catalogue of all Manifestation’s work, what it didn’t know was that it had collected something extra, something their clever quantum computers were unable to evaluate.

The AI operators had detected a glitch but had put this down to a power surge back in the UK. They were content that their new storage capacity was inaccessible from any other prying coding and was safely locked in the vaults for the time being.

Meanwhile, over the next few days the production team, eager to get to work on the new Manifestation Story (the working title) where brought to a halt because of what had happened back in the UK. Both Cruise and Spielberg sent out messages of condolence and a temporary period of appropriate mourning surrounded the production.

In truth, Guardian at the Gate Productions was well ahead in casting and pre-production. So sure had the Hollywood superstar been at getting the rights to the show storylines for the proposed first series were almost complete.

However, for the time being, the rushes were held in the special servers where no one could get to them…

Stephan’s mind worked on his basic recollections and whilst resting in the darkness was able to put a few possibilities together. He knew that a drastic change had taken place and also realised that the unimaginable had happened. He was no longer Stephan, or even Steve Martin, he was just… coding.

He would never have forecast having consciousness. None of this fit in with what the Manifestation team had ever experienced during any of their recording of events. However, he recalled the way that the darkness had materialised from the electronic soft and hardware back in the edit suite. It had taken them all by surprise because no one was expecting such an occurrence. Oskar had wanted to find answers but he doubted that even the clever German had knowledge of what would transpire.

A strange thought entered his head/code and he wondered if smell could be coded because one of the last things he remembered was him fearfully filling his sturdy protection. He giggled to himself. Well he assumed it was a giggle but, a swirl of kinetic noise which felt a little bit threatening soon made him rethink his situation. No more frivolous thoughts, he had to find a way of escape.

Around him he knew the darkness must also be code and yet, despite the strange electronic buzzing and occasional sparks of light, couldn’t locate precisely where it was. In fact it and he were one and the same. There was no him and the entity anymore, there was just the code and the code had plans that would spread the darkness far and wide.
The End…