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New Computing World & other Short Stories

All rights reserved © 2007 by Ernest Bywater

This is a compilation of the previously released books listed below with some other short stories added to them:

New Computing World
The CIA Exposed: The T.A.R.P. Cover up
Wrong Secrets (previously released as Roslyn Research Yields Templar Secrets)


This is a work of fiction. All the characters and events portrayed in this book are fictional, and any resemblance to real people or incidents is purely coincidental. All rights are reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form.

Product names, brands, and other trademarks referred to within this book are the property of their respective trademark holders. Unless otherwise specified, no association between the author and any trademark holder is expressed or implied. Nor does it express any endorsement by them, or of them. Use of a term in this book should not be regarded as affecting the validity of any trademark, service mark, or registered trademark.

Cover Art

The background image is Earth Eastern Hemisphere by NASA and in the public domain as per NASA Photo Guidelines. The manipulation and text merging is done by Ernest Bywater.

30 August 2019 version
Published by Ernest Bywater
E-book ISBN: 978-1-312-42676-4


The titles in use are a Story, a Chapter, a Sub-chapter, and a section.

Table of Contents

New Computing World
The Players
The Solutions
Leap Forward
Battle Commenced
The Initial Assault
The Outcomes
Post Script
Destroying the Alliance

The CIA Exposed: T.A.R.P. Cover Up
My Involvement
The Beginnings
The Business
Close Calls
CIA Stupidity
Closing Down with a Bang
Legal Affairs
On the Run

Wrong Secrets
The Contract
Investigation Starts
On Target
A New Investigation
Clean Up

Ultra Shorts


Opening Arguments

Fun Run
City Paper
The Finish Line
The Finish
City Paper

One Small Step
The Hall
The Report
Research Results

The Truth About Paradise

Coming Home
Drive Home

Always a Marine
Cafe Conflict
Who Is He?
The Morgue
The Sheriff's Office
Of Mice and Men
The Funeral Home


Note: This story collection was originally written in an A5 book format then it was reformatted for a 6 x 9 inch book. This caused a few odd widows and orphans in the print edition which I worked on to minimise. At the same time the story was reviewed to have some word choice and sentence structure changes made to provide a smoother read and a clearer understanding of the story in some places due to the extra space.

Ernest Bywater, October 2018


New Computing World

by Ernest Bywater

All rights reserved © 2007


To understand the computer world of today you have to know and understand how it came about. You need to go back over forty years and understand about the events that preceded the Great Collapse of 2017. In reality it was a war, but because it wasn't a war between nations it wasn't called a war, instead it was a war between ideas and concepts: those who wanted control of everything against those who wanted freedom. What should have been called the Third World War was fought between two ideologies as an economic war. Since they didn't want to call it a war the historians called it the Great Collapse.

Following the end of the fighting in the Second World War corporate America started taking more interest in controlling elected officials so they could adjust legislation to the advantage of their corporations. This was often done through heavy donations to their political campaigns, thus creating a sort of debt between the politician and the donor as often these donations made the difference between winning and losing an election. Some companies donated to both major parties to have a foot in the door regardless of who was in power. Some companies organised together into special interest lobby groups to campaign for law changes that helped their industry and profits, more often they campaign against changes that increased their costs or limited their market operations or access. By the late 1990s some lobby groups and companies owned members of the Senate and Congress outright and they traded their votes between them. Some of the larger companies did their own purchasing of politicians. Many laws were passed to improve the corporate profits at the expense of the general public and consumers. It got so bad the companies were purchasing presidential candidates as soon as they're nominated if they didn't already own them, and sometimes well before they're nominated. Thus the presidential elections often became contests between the companies for control of the laws instead of ideological conflicts between political parties. The differences between the parties became very superficial. This problem expanded from the USA to many other countries, democratic and otherwise. The situation got worse with each passing year.

The Players

Little Electronic Technologies (LET) was the largest software company of the time, and it best known for its Operating Systems (OS) and business applications. Their best known product being their graphics user interface (GUI) OS called Doors since it provided doorways into all your other programs. Their advertising people were very good with their main slogan of ‘LET Doors open your business up’ being a big hit. Their first operating system was a basic disk operating system called DiS, and they did well with this for over ten years. They also sold application software: a word processor, a spreadsheet, and others. In the mid 1990s they came out with their first GUI called Doors which was the basic GUI OS for the home, a 16 bit OS for a desktop computers only. At first it needed the installation of DiS while the next version of Doors didn't need DiS. They soon introduced Business Doors with fully integrated network and domain modules to operate in a business Local Area Network (LAN). Both of these went through a number of versions which included some 16 to 32 bit upgrades. They were combined into one with Doors 2000 which had both a desktop and server version and was a full 32 bit OS. This was later followed with the Excellent Doors desktop in business and personal versions plus Server Doors being released as a separate server-only version. In 2007 they released Lookout Doors which was a 64 bit OS in a dozen different variations which caused a great confusion amongst the public while they tried to work out which version was best for them.

Despite their publicly announced release program of a new system every five years Lookout Doors was released two years late and their next major release wasn't until 2015 when they released Panoramic Doors which was a 512 bit OS with a lot more, much more. Each release of Doors was accompanied by a new version of the LET Business Suite of several applications which worked best with the equivalent release of Doors but didn't work well on earlier versions of Doors, and most of the earlier Business Suite wouldn't work well on the later versions of Doors.

LET wrote their software with lots of back-doors into the central kernel to allow their applications easier and faster operations as they bypassed the security checks. This meant once someone could find one of these back-doors they could write a virus to take over control of the system. LET never rewrote the software to close the back-doors as they only wrote patches to cover over the access point in their other software or made them harder to find in the OS. The Doors OS was so insecure with so many holes they needed to issue a set of such patches every month for many years, and for the whole life of the OS in most cases. With each new version of Doors they didn't rewrite the basic kernel, but just kept adding to it. This kept all of the old security holes in place while making the problem worse by adding more entry points due to the poor code used in the add-ons instead of writing whole new procedures to incorporate the new items, despite coding advances to make it easy to do.

Most new versions had a new set of Command Instructions: the list of basic instructions the OS passes to the hardware and other software. Despite the existence of an industry standard command set LET used their own with a new one for each version of Doors. This made it harder for others to work with their software unless they paid LET large sums for a copy of the new instruction set. It also meant most software wasn't compatible between variations of Doors, increasing the consumer costs to buy new third party software with each upgrade of Doors they bought.

LET had such a hold on the retail industry they lost several court cases for misuse of their position. This didn't make them change their methods as they just increased their prices to cover the costs of the multi-million dollar fines. They gave hardware manufacturers large discounts on copies of Doors, provided the company sold a copy of Doors with every machine they made. Thus making Doors the most common OS in the world. By 2007 other OSs were gaining market share with much better products, but it was a very slow process to gain any market share.

Integrated Networks (IN) was the largest manufacturer of integrated circuit chips and they were best known for their Central Processor Units (CPUs). Their best known series was the Pentultimate range of CPUs. Their advertising campaign of placing stickers reading ‘Pentultimate IN-side’ on every machine with one of their CPUs worked well. The Pentultimate series were known as Penta chips, the Penta 1, Penta 2, Penta 3, through to the Penta 9. The whole of the Penta range was based on the same basic design and command set. All of the IN CPUs prior to the Penta were 16 bit chips and the Penta 1 to 3 were 32 bit chips. Starting with the Penta 4 they made 64 bit chips. Early Penta 4s were 32 bit chips and later Penta 4s were 64 bit chips. Each Penta model needed a different socket to sit in and they weren't interchangeable. As the model numbers grew so did the number of connections in the socket and the processing speed of the chip up to the 9.5 Ghz (gigahertz) Penta 9. The Penta series was replaced in 2015 with the dramatically new Ultima CPU which was a 512 bit chip working at 6 terahertz (Thz) or 6,000,000,000,000 cycles per second. The bit number relates to the number of bits of information the system can send at one time, so a 32 bit system sends twice the data as a 16 bit system and so on. Since the creation of the first CPU the limiting factors on speed have been the size of the internal circuits and the heat created within them. The Penta series was made possible by microscopic sized circuits but heat restricted their speed. A major leap forward with nano sized circuitry and heat resistant materials allowed the Ultima chips to reach such high speeds without melting down.

InLet was the biggest and richest Information Technology (IT) lobby group. Its founders and main funders were Integrated Networks and Little Electronic Technologies, thus the name is a combination of their initials. Many other smaller IT companies joined the lobby group to be insiders with them in regards to the politics and technical advances.

The Alliance was an informal association of major multi-national companies and corporations from several industries that included the major oil companies, major motor vehicle companies, major banks, military arms companies, shipping companies, aircraft manufacturers, and major IT companies - including IN and LET. The Alliance included about seventy corporations representing over seventy percent of the world's privately owned industrial, business, and economic power. Each of the corporations had annual revenues bigger than many countries' national economies. Collectively these corporations were the bulk of the world's private enterprise economy and they all worked very hard at strongly controlling the economy to their own advantage and profits.

Electronic Liberation Front (ELF) was the organisation that lobbied for openness and freedom within the IT industry. This is made up of individuals who felt greater improvements and advances could be made by the sharing of information and cooperative development programs. Most were involved in Open Source software projects. It included the best of the programmers and software writers in the world. It still exists today with the same aims and quality of people.

Great Nerds, Operators, and Master Engineers (GNOME) was a sub group of ELF that worked hard to reverse engineer all new proprietary software and hardware so the Open Source software could be written to be compatible with the equipment and software. They also checked and confirmed all the Open Source software released worked properly with the hardware in general use by the public as well as writing software to allow incompatible hardware to work with Open Source software. It still exists today with the same aims and activities by its members.

Techno Rebels of Open Licence and Liberty (TROLL) was a group of individuals that worked very hard at causing trouble for companies and organisations trying to enforce restrictions on the freedom of the IT world and the Internet. Although it's believed some members of ELF and GNOME also belonged to TROLL it's not known if any did since no one knows exactly who was in TROLL. TROLLs all used nicknames whilst the ELF and GNOME members usually used their real names.

The Deadman was a private individual's nickname, he was very well known and respected by the whole IT community and by the time of the events leading up to the great collapse he was seen as the secret grandfather figure and elder statesman of the industry. He was a strong supporter of the use of open industry standards and knew all of the IT technology from the days of the early mainframes to the latest Personal Computers (PCs). No one knew his real name, just his nickname. He usually didn't have much to say, but when he spoke most in the industry listened and paid close attention, very close attention, because they all knew he was a genius who often predicted the future direction of IT.


From the first days of proprietary software people have made and used illegal copies of software. Many methods were tried to stop this. Some companies even installed a special type of virus in some of their media as a way to allow them to control pirate activities. The public disclosure of this was a major blow for their prestige and profits due to consumer backlashes. Many companies, especially LET, spent a lot of time and effort to fight the illegal copying called piracy. Many thought LET spent more money on fighting the piracy than they actually lost to pirate operations. Most piracy was in countries where people couldn't afford the retail cost of their software anyway, so it was never a lost sale - just one they'd not have gotten at all.

The Internet was never designed or intended to be a secure work environment while most LANs were designed to be very secure work environments. However, whenever you connect a LAN to the Internet you get a mix of the security levels as you have communications coming to the PCs from both secure and insecure sources. General use of the Internet over business networks saw a major jump in the spreading of virus and Trojan programs. This caused lots of trouble for individuals and businesses because the rogue software destroys or damages data or steals it for misuse.

Soon Trojans were taking control of systems to harvest information to gain access to databases, bank accounts, and assisted in identity theft for unlawful use. Each year this trend grew, as well as the complexity and danger of such programs. Many legitimate businesses used the same type of software to gather information to target individuals with advertising aimed at their particular interests, and many other activities to boost their revenues. These programs were called spyware or malware, depending upon what it did when in place. A host of programs came out to counter all the spyware and malware programs as well as the virus programs. Because many large corporations got a financial advantage from spyware they weren't interested in software to block malware, unless it let their spyware work. Because both malware and spyware used the same processes to work it wasn't really possible to block one and not the other.


cut to print book page 45

The CIA Exposed: T.A.R.P. Cover Up

All rights reserved © 2007 by Ernest Bywater

My Involvement

One Monday night in 2007 I'm sitting in the lounge room watching a TV series on conspiracies who are featuring the CIA tonight. I nearly kill myself laughing at it. Don't get me wrong, the CIA are an arrogant lot with a total disregard for anyone except themselves. But a bigger bunch of bunglers has never been accumulated in any single organisation. I wonder how the US manages to get anything useful out of them.

That organisation has more holes in it than a sieve. During the cold war the quickest way to tell something to the KGB was to tell four CIA agents as the odds were one or more was a KGB informer or agent. When the CIA started experimenting on people in the 1950s it became public knowledge within a few months with the full details except the names of the agents. It was fifty years for the papers to be declassified to make it official for many of the details to be confirmed and known to the general public as well as being actually admitted to by the CIA and the USA government. As to their attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro, talk about bungling fools. All without any approval from the White House, Senate, or the House of Representatives. Most are bureaucrats who have trouble finding their own rear end with a road map and a tracking locator. The few good agents in the CIA are out in the field collecting information as none are assassins or cold blooded killers, and they go to great lengths to stay out there away from the idiots in Langley. When some crazy fool credits the CIA with a successful conspiracy assassination it's laughable. If they blamed the FBI, DEA, or Justice Department it would be plausible, but not the CIA. It should be called the Centralised Idiots Agency.

Near the end of the show the phone rings and I answer it. It's Max, an old friend I haven't heard from him since he vanished in 1994, and some strange people came around who were looking for him then, and looking very hard.

While laughing Max says, “G'day, Deadly, you're a hard man to find. It took me two days to track down your phone number. You watching that comedy about the CIA? Ridiculous, ain't it! You interested in making a few grand by turning some records into a presentable story for me?”

I smile while I reply, “I thought you were officially dead by now. Yeah, I'm watching the CIA conspiracy rubbish. It just proves my favourite saying, 'Never under estimate the power of human stupidity.' Writing for you, OK. But I want the money up front before you vanish again. What's it about?”

Max says, “Oh, I'll let you work out what it's about when you see it. I'll send you a package with a bank cheque for five grand, a DVD with copies of various e-mails, diary entries, and some video clips. I want you to turn it into a story and get it published, somehow. I'll be happy if all you do is get it on the Internet. You'll have total editorial control since I won't be in contact again because I probably won't be in a position to do so. Is it a deal?”

“It's a deal.” I respond, “Since you won't be reading the final draft aren't you afraid I won't just take your money and run, or write crap?”

“I know you'll write well, those tech manuals you did were good, plus I've seen the training notes on your web site and the stories you have on the Internet.” He responds, “You're honest. I know if you say you'll do it, then you'll do it. It may take some time, but you'll do it.”

Laughing during my reply I say, “Thanks for the vote of confidence. You got my current address?”

Max replies, “Yep, you should see the parcel in the mail in a few days. And before you ask, I won't tell you where I am or what I'm up to. Get it from the info I send.” The line goes dead when he hangs up.

Later that Week

On Thursday I receive a small parcel with a DVD, a contract, a cheque, and a letter from a solicitor asking me to read, sign, and return the contract. I read and sign the contract then I check out the DVD. Lots of e-mails and interesting stuff, but not a thing that could be used to write a story worth paying me the five thousand dollars he's sent me. I'm also interested in the fact such a small and well wrapped package had been damaged in transit and needed to be taped up again. For the first time in the three years I've lived here a parcel has been damaged. More interestingly, for the life of me, I can't work out how it got accidentally damaged that much. Maybe I'm just getting paranoid in my old age.

Friday morning I take my usual weekly fifty-six kilometre drive into a city nearby to buy groceries and to do business. As is usual I end up at the local McDonald's for lunch about 12:15 p.m. It gives me time to get my lunch and seated before the place becomes crowded with all of the school kids from the two high schools just up the road. The seniors are allowed out for lunch and nearly all of the girls end up at Maccas, which makes for some very nice scenery while eating.

About 12:25 p.m., with the place very crowded, three young ladies in the sports uniform of the Catholic school ask if they can sit at my table. Naturally, being a gentleman, I say they can while I start admiring their charms. One of them, a petite brunette sitting opposite me soon gets my attention.

In a soft voice she says, “So, Deadly, I hear you're very good at playing cards.”

I give her a very close look over as I know I've never seen her before. I may be very lousy with names, but I always remember the face: I just can't put a name to it. Since she knows my old nickname, one I've not used in the three years I've lived around here, I decide to up the ante and say, “Only if it's at a poke her party.” They all laugh.

She replies, “Do you think you can still handle three, or is two your Max now?” Out of the corner of my eye I notice the blond beside me is slipping something into my shoulder bag sitting on the seat between us.

I respond, “Oh, I think I can still handle three. But, just in case, what say I start with the blond? I prefer blondes because they get dirty so easily, but are fun to get clean again. Also, it's easy to see what they're up to, or down to, as the case may be.” They laugh again.

The brunette says, “It's a pity we can't hang around to find out.”

I reply, “That's OK, next time we can sing Ninety-nine Luftballoons.”

While smiling she says, “I'm glad I met you and to see we understand each other. Take care, take extreme care.” They pile their rubbish on the tray, and drop it in the bin when they leave. I do the same.

From there I go to my chiropractor appointment, followed by going home while making sure to obey all the speed laws etc. If Max needs to go to these lengths to get me the info then I'm not taking any chances. On that thought I go home via a different route by taking the way through a small village which is only sixteen kilometres from home to buy some milk and ice-cream so I can easily justify the detour since it gives them less time to melt in transit.

That night I rebuild an older computer then I view what's on the two large USB thumb drives Max sent me. It's then I became really paranoid.

Saturday morning I rebuild the computer again with Windows 2000. I set up a sequence of disconnecting the hard-drive in the machine each time I use it to work on Max's real stuff. While working on Max's stuff I plug in a third thumb drive with a minimal Linux installation and boot from that. I keep the thumb drives in a hidden coat pocket and they never leave my side. Each day I'd spend some time on the computer working on the stuff that's on the DVD while I make like I'm earning my money with it, I also spend some time working on the USB drives. The system is not connected to the Internet at any time!

Every time I leave the house I take great care in my driving as I've numerous near misses with idiots cutting me off and the like. Each time that happens I give thanks for the advanced driver training course I did, and the even more advanced idiot driver avoidance course Dad gave me. I also worry about the car when it isn't within my sight. I even take precautions to see if the house is being visited while I'm out and about. I soon found out it was. Paranoid is becoming my middle name, more like my only name.

It takes several months, but I finally finish the story Max wanted from the material he sent. What follows is Max's story written from his point of view and I've done my best to imitate his style of telling a story. Some of the story's aspects are very frightening while others are very heartening. It does show some people still do stand up and die for supposedly outmoded ideas like freedom, personal liberty, and what's right; God bless them.

The Beginnings

One night I'm on one of the technology forums I regularly visit when Laser Head (yeah that's his nickname) comes on-line about having finally done it. Done what, we all ask. He's doing a masters in physics and selected laser technology for his thesis: pinpoint accuracy and the use of lasers for medical treatments at the micro level. We're about as interested in that as in watching the Gay Mardi Gras: zip, zilch, nada. We're all very heterosexual computer nerds, so I gather you get my meaning here. What he's done is of no interest to most of us.

He tells us his system uses two lasers and much less power than existing lasers to destroy a block of salt one molecule at a time. The only problem he has is the system is generating energy. I say, “Well, duh. You can't create or destroy energy and all you can do is change its form - and you're the physics major while all I do is read good science fiction stories.” We all have a good laugh at his expense before we go back to our general chat on life and the current technology news.

A few weeks later Laser Head comes on-line and Retread (yeah we're a bright bunch as far as nicks go, so leave off, huh) pipes up, with, “Hey, Laser, that micro-laser thing of yours, you should go commercial to use it to get rid of garbage like rats, tax agents, bill collectors, and ex-spouses.” He's recently divorced and not happy because it's a very messy case due to her anger at him. She knew he was a nerd who didn't understand relationships when they first met, and then she gets really pissed he isn't romantic enough. OK, she has a case, but it took her five years to get upset about it. I think she's as slow as he is in that area.

We're all having a good laugh at this one when Brain Dead comes in with, “Laser buddy, does that excess energy you detect have a positive or a negative charge? Can you set up a laser with a charge differential along it?” Well, we all stop to think about this. Brain Dead doesn't say much, but when he does you better be listening real hard because he's a certified genius and brain dead he isn't - hence the name. Laser Head says he'll get back to us with an answer on that.

Another few weeks later Laser Head comes on with, “Hey, Brain Dead, there's definitely some sort of charge being generated in there, but I can't tell if it's positive or negative. I think it may be some of each. And yeah, it's possible to set up a differential along a beam if you don't restrict yourself to light.”

I put in my two bobs worth by saying, “Laser, mate, can you use your micro-laser to get a spectrograph reading off of a molecule?”

He comes back with, “Probably can, Electro Carrot (yeah that's my nick, so sue me). What are you getting at, man?”

So I hit him with, “You gotta be using a computer to track the micro-laser that's doing the chewing, right? Well, you also use the same program to run another to get a spectrograph read of the molecule just before you chew it. That'll give you a molecular reading of the thing. Store that info in the computer within a set grid and you have an exact record of its overall size and shape and content at the molecular level. That could be useful for something that's tricky to analyse.”

Brain Dead jumps in with, “This is going to be complex as hell, but think about a set up where you have five units calibrated to work together. The first gets an exact location read for the computer to aim the other four. The second does a spectrograph read so you know what it is. Third is the unit that destroys the molecule. Four and five are aimed at the exact same spot as three, one has a positive differential and the other has a negative differential. They draw off the energy charges, whichever they be. That way you map exactly what you're destroying and suck off all of the energy at the same time.”

A few weeks later Laser Head is on-line with, “Gee, thanks, guys. I managed to build what you suggested, and I blew up half the lab. Got the energy off, but no where to put it.” We commiserate with him.

Then Laughing Lass joins in with an idea about how to suck the energy off into storage, if it's electrical at that point. Laser Head says it isn't. Brain Dead jumps in with a way suck it off the laser beam, to convert it to electricity, and then store it.

Those three move off to a side channel to talk in symbols or Greek or Swahili, who knows. I don't understand that very high quantum maths stuff as I'm just a good mechanic and technician, that's all. Oh, I do sometimes have a good idea as well.

Four months after his initial announcement Laser Head comes in to tell us he's finished his thesis paper on micro-laser medical surgery. But, more importantly, he's worked out a way to use lasers to locate, read, and reduce (his word) an item at the molecular level while storing the energy created as electrical power and making a complete computer record of it. We all congratulate him on both jobs being successful.


cut to print book page 69

Wrong Secrets

All rights reserved © 2007 by Ernest Bywater


I've never been to Scotland, the UK, or Europe. That's easy to prove because there are no airline tickets or accommodation bookings in my name anywhere outside of Australia. I've never been issued a passport by the Australian Passport Office, contact them and they can confirm that. Despite his memory of events my cousin George is wrong as he couldn't have seen me on a Qantas flight to the UK because my name isn't on the passenger list. He checked after landing because he was very angry when he thought I'd ignored him, since he's a very touchy person.

The two electronic transfer deposits of US$100,000 into my bank account from two Swiss banks in late 2005 relate to some general contracting work I did, nothing else.


I'm very slow to wake up and in extreme discomfort because my head hurts and I'm very cold. I'm sitting upright and I'm tied to a rough wooden chair in a dank stone walled room with a very bright battery lantern shining in my face. A male voice says, “He's awake.” There's movement in the room. I can hear shoes scuffle, clothing rustles, and the clink of metal on metal. I can't see a thing beyond the light and it hurts my eyes to have it shining directly into them.

A very deep voice says, in anger, “What are you, a thief, relic hunter, government agent, papist spy?” I laugh. I can't help it as the situation is so melodramatic and bloody ridiculous; it's right out of a vintage film. A figure steps forward and slaps my face, hard. I laugh harder. He slaps me again, much harder. I continue to laugh.

Don't get me wrong, the slaps hurt and I'm no masochist. But I can't help laughing. The silly old bugger is in medieval clothing; a Knight Templar in armour, no less. The whole situation is seriously ridiculous.

A third male voice says, “The fool is hysterical, out of the way.” I get hit in the face with a bucket full of icy cold water. I stop laughing to start choking on the water that went down my throat. Several minutes later I'm settled down and calm.

A fourth male voice says, in a commanding tone, “Who are you?” I tell him my legal name. He continues, “The author of 'Living Ethically' and 'Hire the Right Investigator'?” I acknowledge my claims to limited fame. He asks, “Why does the ID you're carrying say Jack Campbell of Australia, born in Glasgow, Scotland?”

I'm very calm when I reply, “It's a cover identity set up by my client so I won't be recognised and asked about why I'm here.”

They talk to each other while they all turn and leave the room, I can hear them walk into another room nearby. I sit there shivering and thinking about how I got into this mess. My mind goes back to a day four months ago.

The Contract

On a quiet Tuesday morning in March 2005 I receive an e-mail with directions and codes to make a reverse charges international call to the USA. A rich man I've heard of wants me to call him; well, it's his dime. I take the time to make the call, despite the early hour local time.

He has a strange tale to tell. He's a dedicated ufologist who believes in all things UFO and alien and he has recently come across a lot of material about an alien base hidden under an old church in Scotland. His best friend is some what sceptical and they had a very heated discussion on the matter. They have a bet going on. Does the base exist or not? The main problem is there are many existing investigations that were done by ufologists or their detractors. In each case the people investigating had a pre-set mind about what they would find, thus each found exactly what they expected to find. They need an investigator they both can agree on and they both feel will not be prejudiced one way or the other. I'm the first one they can both agree on.

Both know me by reputation, my books, and have had good reports from friends of friends. They want me to do the investigation and report back to them. They'll split the operating costs and whoever is wrong will pay me and the winner US$100,000 each. They know I believe in aliens but I don't believe any of the unproven claims about abductions, bases, etc. Both feel they can trust me to 'tell it as it is,' regardless of what 'it' is, and I'll stick to the proven evidence. Despite none of us knowing how we'll go about it.

Over the following two weeks we have numerous phone calls and e-mails about the matter, and a contract is worked out. Arrangements are made for a local solicitor to represent them. I go to her office to read and sign the finished contract. The following is a simple summary of the contract because the original is much longer and very complex.

Parties of the first and second parts promise to:

1. Share all operating expenses and provide the party of the third part with reasonable funding for miscellaneous expenses which are to be accounted for after the event.

2. Organise an agent in Glasgow to provide the party of the third part with all equipment, personnel, and help as needed by the party of the third part.

3. Organise cover identity and documents for the party of the third part.

4. Organise all of the travel arrangements for the project personnel.

5. Provide the party of the third part with copies of reports on all investigations previously made that they know of.

6. Pay the party of the third part US$100,000 per question when the party of the third part can provide a definitive answer of Yes or No with supporting evidence to each of these questions:

(i) Is there a secret alien base concealed under the church in question?

(ii) If yes to the above, what happens there?

7. The party of the third part to have total control of the project and full authority over the assisting personnel hired.

8. The party of the third part is to provide a full written report to the parties of the first and second part within twelve months of signing the contract.

I sign as the party of the third part, witnessed by their solicitor and a Justice of the Peace I'd brought along. It's already signed by the other parties so I take my copy, $20,000 Australia as initial funds, and a large packet of documents. Leaving the solicitors I take my friend, the Justice of the Peace, to a nearby restaurant where we have lunch at my expense.

Later that day I send an email setting out the initial equipment list I want available in Scotland and the number of helpers I want. I'll adjust these as I feel the need to after reading the files they've sent me.


cut to print book page 112


All rights reserved © 2012 by Ernest Bywater



Arnold Rimbold is sitting down to his breakfast of hot porridge on a Saturday morning when his wife, Sue, starts in at him about the front door, again. While she takes her seat opposite him she says, “It's been two weeks since we moved to West Bromwich and you've not done anything about the front door! I want something done about it today!”

He looks up as he replies, “Well, what do you expect? We've looked at every bloody door chime I can find and you've knocked them all back as not liking the sound or too loud or whatever. What do you expect me to do now?”

“I've not got time to go listen to any more of those horrid bong chimes or stupid music. Put a damn knocker on and be done with it. You know Cathi doesn't like hurting her knuckles on the wood of the door to let me know she's arrived! And don't go buying one of those damned expensive new brass ones.”

“OK, OK, I'll go see what I can find down at the church rummage sale and the op shop this morning. I'll see what I can get for under a pound.”

“You better, because we can't afford any more than that.”

They both concentrate on eating their breakfast and are soon done with their meal. Then they're on their way to other activities.


Arnold is walking down the street with his best friend in the area who lives two doors down the street. While they walk he mentions his problem, “Dave, do you think there's a chance I can find a door knocker around here for less than a pound?”

David List glances at him as he replies, “Arnie, I very much doubt it. Those things are now all brass, and that isn't cheap.”

“I know. But I've got my marching orders. You know when I got transferred up here from London we moved to this side of town so it was easier for Sue to visit, and to be visited by, her holier than thou sister Cathi!”

“Yeah, you've told me about it before.”

“Well, she's been bitching about hurting her poor little knuckles by knocking on the door. I've got to do something today. It's got to be no more than a pound and she doesn't want any damn electric door chime, either.”

“You're screwed, mate, screwed big ti ....” Dave stops in mid-sentence. Then an evil smile spreads across his face. “If it's still there I've just thought of just the thing you want, and the price tag was only sixty pence when I last looked in.”

“Well, show me. Let's go look.”


The Antique Store

Half an hour later Dave is showing Arnold an old pewter knocker on the shelf of a run down antique store in the seediest part of town. Arnold looks at it and he's about to tell Dave to forget it when Dave says, “I can just picture your sister-in-law using that door knocker.”

An evil grin spreads over Arnold's face. He reaches for the item as he says, “You're right. This is perfect!” A minute later he's walking out with the door knocker he just bought for sixty pence.

The two men hurry back to Arnold's house and they're quick to mount the door knocker on the front of the door. Dave goes home while Arnold walks into the house while calling out, “Sue, I got an old door knocker at a rummage sale for sixty pence. I've already put it up.”

“Good!” His wife calls back from the kitchen. “I'm expecting Cathi around for lunch. She should be arriving any time now.”

Arnold goes and sits in the front room to read his current book he found on the Internet, The Falcon by Ernest Edwards.

About ten minutes later he hears shoes walking rapidly by the window. He looks up when they approach his front door because it sounds just like the fast pace of his sister-in-law. They stop right at the door, and total silence. A moment later he grins while he pictures the scene outside ...

His sister-in-law is standing in front of the door with an expression that's half a frown and mostly perplexed with her hand almost at the door and about to grasp the pewter door knocker of a man's two large testicles hanging from the figure of a man attached to the door.


Author's Note

This story was originally written as an entry in a contest to write a story to go with an image they had of a young woman with a perplexed look on her face while she reaches to use a door knocker on a front door. The knocker was of a man with his legs spread wide and the moving part you hit the door with was two very large testicles. I'm told the image is from a movie and thus copyrighted, so it can't be displayed here.


cut to print book page 147

Always a Marine

All rights reserved © 2010 by Ernest Bywater

Café Conflict

The little bell on the front door of the small country café jingled. The young woman café owner and the girl on the counter moved closer to the door to the back room, ready to flee. The three mid-teen schoolgirls sitting at a table in the back of the customer area looked up, and the face of the youngest went white while her fear showed. She turned and checked for a way out, even though she knew there wasn't one. An old man was sitting at the next table toward the front door, he saw the girls' reaction and he turned to see what caused it.

He saw six young men who'd just walked into the little country café. They looked like trouble that just found what they wanted. They all looked to be eighteen to twenty years old with dirty shoulder length hair and mean expressions. Their clothes were dirty and cheap, except for the headbands they wore. They all had the same headband and it was clean. Their boots were cheap and looked like they'd never been washed or polished since they were purchased. They swaggered while they moved down the café. Their leader said, “There you are, bitch. I told you to be at the club house an hour ago for your initiation fucking by the members. Now you get to be fucked by the dogs as well, and all on film for selling.”

The youngest girl, gulped, and said, “I told you I never wanted to be in your club. I never asked or had anything to do with your people.”

“What you want has nothing to do with it, bitch. We want you, and we'll have you. I think we'll take your two friends as extra fun too.”

The old man stood and turned to face the young men. He had a bent back and only stood as tall as the chin of the shortest of the young men, their leader. The old man limped when he moved into the middle of the path beside the tables. He smiled and said, “Go home, kid.”

Everyone looked at the old man in his worn out cheap clothes. He was well known around town and all called him Gramps. One young kid called him that when he first arrived in town, ten years ago. He looked old then and he now looked ancient. They all knew he was retired, had been for years, and he lived on a meager pension. But no one knew where the pension came from or what he used to do for work.

The lead youth laughed when he pulled a flick knife out of his pocket and opened it. “You're dead, old man.” He moved forward while the rest of his pack pulled out knives and followed him. The café owner was shocked when the old man smiled as his only response.

The leader of the young men reached the old man and swung his knife to stab him. The old man belied his age while he moved fast to avoid the blade. He swung his left arm down to knock the knife aside and his right arm moved toward the youth's head. All heard the snap as the young man's head was thrown backward. The old man grabbed the youth's arm and pulled to the left when he stepped past the falling body. All were shocked by the action since it wasn't like what they expected.

The old man was now among the youths and a blur of action. He was so fast none of the witnesses could see what happened, except the youths kept falling down. One went crashing back into the front doors. The sound made the other ten youths waiting outside turn and charge into the café, drawing knives and pistols while they ran.

The old man had hold of the last of the first group of youths when the rest entered the café. He held the youth in front of him while he took the pistol out of the youth's belt and pointed it at the rest of the gang. The old man yelled out, “Girls, hit the floor.” They all slid off their chairs and hit the floor. They weren't quite all the way down when the sound of gunfire filled the café.


The shooting ended and the girls looked up, no one was standing. The café owner had already phoned for the police and ambulance. The youngest girl stood up and looked at the mess in the café. She went to where gramps was lying and was surprised to see he was still alive.

He looked up and he saw her. He smiled at her and reached for her hand, squeezing it when she moved close enough for him to take it. He said, “Tell them I did it. I held the line against the enemy. As I swore, I fought all enemies, foreign and domestic.” With that he coughed and sighed. His head rolled to the side and his hand went slack when he died. She sat there and cried while she continued to hold his hand.

Sirens sounded. Car tires screeched. Car doors slammed. Running feet were heard to enter the café. The girl didn't look up until she heard a voice say, “Shit, Sheriff, it's a massacre in here. Better get the coroner over here.” She looked up and she saw a Sheriff's Deputy standing in the doorway while he looked at the bodies that littered the café.

Deputy Jackson looked at the mess and spotted the girl beside the old man. He wasn't happy with the lack of expression on her face. He was sure she was in extreme shock so he went to her and he was very gentle when he took the dead man's hand out of hers. He didn't want her to have to walk out through the blood on the floor so he picked her up and carried her out to the ambulances parked in the road.

He handed her over to one of the ambulance crew and said, “I think she's in shock. There's another two like her inside. I'll bring them out to you.” The paramedic nodded and took the girl from him. He took her to his ambulance while the deputy went back into the café. Deputy Jackson took only a few minutes to carry out other girls, the owner, and the girl who worked the counter. The paramedics treated them all for shock.

The sheriff's forensic person turned up just as the county coroner arrived. Both groups entered the café together. The coroner checked and declared each one dead and the forensic person started processing the crime scene. It took a long time to do it all and clear the bodies out.

That was a preview of New Computing World & Other Short Stories. To read the rest purchase the book.

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