The Statues of Masters Hall

by Wolverine

This is a multi-part tale, we start in the middle here; if you have not read it so far, it would be good to start with the first part. You can catch up the most recent part as well.

Part 3: In which the Masons meet their match

Lucinda Lindsay was older than her policewoman sister by just over two years. Brilliant where her sister was just clever, beautiful where her sister was just pretty and very sexy, Lucinda had everything the world could have given her, even the nicest of boyfriends who had just become her fiancé. She was a lecturer in Mathematics at one of the best of the newer universities and everyone expected her to be Professor Lindsay before long. While Demetria had coped with good humour with the physical and social problems posed by having huge tits and a huge arse, Lucinda bore her generous, taut breasts and tight, round, protruding, large but not enormous buttocks with simple pride. If men wanted to stare at her they could, but if they said anything, she could stare them down and make them feel very, very small.

She had many fine qualities, but perhaps the finest was her deep love for her two younger sisters – so when Demetria, the older, disappeared, she had been devastated. At first she expected news every day: Demmy would turn up having lost her memory, or her poor body would be recovered from a ditch. When nothing happened after many weeks and the police seemed oddly reluctant to explain why they were losing interest, she travelled to Dorset to see for herself, but found nothing except stupid rumours about her sister and the other vanished policewoman. Lucinda knew her sister was too fond of boys to be a dyke.

But her brilliant brain was now turned to the problem of her sister’s fate and she had finally convinced herself, by long thought and careful research, that something very odd was going on at Masters Hall. Surely that must hold the secret of her sister’s disappearance. After a long and difficult conversation with her fiancé Peter, she made her decision.

She approached the university and shocked them by asking to go on a nine months’ sabbatical, unpaid, to travel in South America. Afraid of losing one of their star lecturers, an outstanding academic who was also very popular with the students, they reluctantly agreed. Peter took a lot of persuading too, but Lucinda was very persuasive and he delivered his part of the plan. He was an I.T. consultant working mainly with banks, security firms and credit checking agencies, and it was not hard for him to create a convincing false identity for his love, complete with references, certificates and credit cards.

Lucinda had heard that there was a vacancy in the staff at Masters Hall and she intended to apply: but the letter would not come from Dr Lucinda Lindsay, but from a Ms. Claudette Swann.

Staffing at Masters Hall represented a potential weakness in the exploits of the Lion, Charles Mason well knew. Of course, even with the work and income opening the place to the public created, the staff on site was far smaller than it would have been eighty years ago, but there was still the risk that some underling would see too much and tell the tale. Loyal servants like Chedzoy and the butler Soper had been in the employ of the Masons all or almost all their working life and their fathers too had worked at the Hall. They knew most of what was going on, though they were not allowed to see the Lion or even know of its existence. Occasionally as a special treat they were allowed to join the family after some statue had been revived for a little fun, but had to leave before the Lion was waved again. Other employees simply learnt not to see certain things and to stay silent. The Masons paid well, and besides, in previous generations one or two misbehaving servants, too garrulous or too concerned about the statues, had disappeared and only their statues remained. When Chrissie and Demetria were petrified, only three current employees were in the know: Soper, Chedzoy and Marcia Capstick.

Marcia was the estate manager. Although all three Masons were business-minded, Charles’ wider business affairs often took him away, Diana specialised in the management of the grounds, and Fiona was young and a little variable in the attention she gave to minor things. Marcia ran the estate with efficiency and dedication, and she too was given her occasional reward. She loved using the cane and whip. When, therefore, she told Charles that the little mail-order business she had been building up for her retirement was doing so well it needed her full attention, and she was reluctantly handing in her notice, it came as a great shock. Charles trusted Marcia totally and did not doubt she would keep her counsel; indeed, they would do business on an equal footing. But he was worried about appointing a successor.

It was with deep relief, then, that he found among the applications for the post two that seemed ideal. Alex Delagrange was a young man of good family with all the right qualifications: moreover, he was the son of an old friend of Charles’. Claudette Swann had all the right qualifications too, and her recent employment in Canada and Germany intrigued Charles, while her written application was briskly efficient and to the point. There seemed little point in asking any other candidates to interview. Both were invited.

In the meantime, the Masons had debated what to do about Demetria’s lost nipple. Diana offered the view that it was an improvement because it made her more interesting, while Fiona, who not long ago had seemed to have totally gone off her policewoman captive, was full of concern for “poor Black Beauty and her damaged titty.” Charles kept his counsel for a while till finally he commented that there was not much they could do about it, unless they wanted to try substituting a mock replacement of fibreglass or something, or knocking the other one off for better balance.

“But daddy, you’re forgetting, I’ve got that subaqua kit you gave me for my sixteenth,” Fiona reminded him. And so it was that, in frogwoman kit, watched closely by an apprehensive but excited Albert, she dove to the bottom of the lake and found Demetria’s missing nipple quite undamaged. It was then a simple job to superglue it back on, but when they revived her, Demetria did not seem very happy with it, so Charles moved it to halfway up her tit.

On the day of the interviews, Lucinda Lindsay parked her vintage red Morgan sports car in the drive of Masters Hall just before a scratched Fiat Panda arrived and disgorged a tall, strong, bespectacled, amiable-looking young man.

“Hi!” he said. “Alex Delagrange. Are you here for the job interview too? Super. May I enquire…?”

“Claudette Swann,” the beautiful, glossy black girl replied. “Yes, I am. May the best man win.”

“Or woman!” Alex protested.

“’Man’ used to mean male or female,” she told him. “My sister told me that. She loves history. We’re quite early. Shall we go for a walk?”

Alex blushed deeply and agreed. “Claudette” steered him towards a group of statues which seemed to be caught in some cruel and deviant orgy – a group she had already identified on a short visit to the grounds as a tourist, as it happened at the very time the Masons were working on restoring Demetria’s nipple.

“Do you like art?” she asked Alex; but the young man was embarrassed and confused, staring at the abandoned naked women, looking away, looking back and turning his back before realising he was showing a lack of manners to the black girl.

It was a thoroughly confused Alex Delagrange who was called first for interview. Lucinda, on the other hand, was all calm confidence, while managing to cross and uncross her legs in their smooth, translucent tights and knee-length pleated skirt just when Charles was looking in the right direction, while appearing demure to the two women present: Charles’ wife and the woman retiring from the job. She got the post.

Lucinda had explained that she had no current partner and accepted the offer of accommodation at Masters Hall. Charles Mason was most polite. She’d seen him looking at her in a certain way, but well, that was natural. Maybe if there was a villain involved, it wasn’t him – but she could trust no-one.

Consequently she did not phone Peter from the Hall, but met him by arrangement in a pub, not in the village, but in Happisford. He was deeply worried that she was putting herself at risk, but knew he could not dissuade her, so he would support her in any way he could. She set too making a success of her work and learning about the affairs of the Hall, especially the staff and family, without doing anything that would make anyone suspicious. The Masons were very happy with her work and said so.

She paid little attention to the grounds at first, but noticed that the family spent quite a lot of time there, so started wandering about on the lawn and in the woods when they were otherwise engaged. The statues were certainly evidence of a twisted imagination, she thought, maybe a murderous one, but then many people had eccentric fantasies without implementing them. Then she saw the “hippopotamus”. That it was based on Demmy was obvious. In fact it was a very good representation, though it seemed to have suffered some damage. Why should an upper-class wealthy family commission or make a statue of a black policewoman? Perhaps Demmy, with her interest in art, had agreed to pose for it. Perhaps in doing that she had found out some terrible secret and had been killed for it. But if that had happened, wouldn’t they have hidden or destroyed the statue? It didn’t make sense. But she had a growing feeling that the weird, unsettling statues were somehow part of the answer she was seeking.

In the meantime she played the part of a chatty, friendly woman who wanted to be friends with everyone and was keen to learn everything necessary for her work. She found Diana Mason standoffish and cool, though helpful on specifics of the work. The daughter Fiona was much more forthcoming, treating her like a friend rather than an employee and chatting about motorbikes, sub-aqua, sports, investments, microbiology and various other interests. She was clearly a clever and energetic young woman and Lucinda wondered why she had not carved out a career for herself. Perhaps the answer lay in her rather obvious closeness to her father, even a fixation, still obvious even though she was married to “Albert”. Lucinda gave her full points for choosing to marry a working-class black guy despite her upper-class white family origins, though she had to admit to herself she did not like Albert. He stared at her too much and she suspected him of being a sexist, though his affection for his young wife was obvious. Lucinda tried to chat with him but made little progress, so her main hopes lay with Fiona letting something slip.

There were staff too, of course, though far fewer than would have been found two or three generations back, and her duties made it easy for her to talk with them and find out things about their past and nature. Old Soper the butler and chauffeur carried a discreet, polite reserve with him everywhere and did not seem a promising confidant: besides, he was clearly deeply loyal to the Mason family. Chedzoy the hulking gamekeeper and handyman had very little to say at the best of times, and she had found out that service to the Masons ran in his family. The old gatekeeper Wills was not really an employee – he lived for free in the lodge in return for the lightest of duties, having served as Chedzoy’s predecessor – and his conversation was mostly about times long gone by. The maid and receptionist Lily Pollock seemed an empty-headed, giggly local girl: if she had a secret, she would have let it out long ago. The young Polish cook and cleaner Angelika Trawinska, by contrast, tended to reply to questions in monosyllables and to display limited understanding of English ways and language, though her skills as a cook were impressive. She had, in any case, been with the Masons for a mere seventeen months.

As time went by, Lucinda came to concentrate mainly on winning the confidence of Fiona, Lisa and (by claiming a huge interest in local history) old Wills. Also as time went by, it became evident that Fiona was pregnant.

“Darling, are you…?” asked Diana, eying her daughter’s belly.

“Yes! Yes!” she replied.

“Oh, how wonderful. It is Albert, isn’t it?” Fiona was scandalised.

“MUMMY! How COULD you?” But she then paused. “Well, I don’t suppose…Daddy hasn’t made any of the statues pregnant, has he?” Diana laughed.

“No, of course not, dearest!”

“Well – in that case, I don’t suppose it could have been Gary. I have gone on his penis when I’ve revived him. Anyway, we’ll soon know when it pops out. I hope it’s a boy, for Daddy.”

The entranced Albert clearly had no doubts who the father was.

Lucinda was sitting with old Dan Wills in The Lodge, drinking tea and trying to ignore the musty smell, when Dan began to reminisce about the infant Mason girls, Fiona and her sister Emma. Since Lucinda had seen no sign of Emma and not even heard of her before, she assumed the elder sister had made her own way somewhere else, had emigrated perhaps, or shacked up with someone her parents disapproved of. Dan spoke with great affection of both girls, but had started to move away to reminisce about the days when there were three pubs in the village when Lucinda brought him back by asking where Emma was. Dan’s face told her instantly she had hit a sore spot. Was Emma in disgrace, a criminal perhaps, or was she tragically dead?”

But Wills, with an effort, was telling her more.

“Miss Emma was misled,” he said. “She made the wrong choice and the family turned against her. Couldn’t say I didn’t warn her.”

Lucinda contrived to look even more puzzled than she actually was.

“What was the wrong choice?” she asked, “a man?”

“No, not man nor boy.”

“Er…a woman, then?”

“Nobody but herself. She turned agin the family and they…and they…turned agin her.” He would say nothing more – but Lucinda was convinced she had half-uncovered a deep, dark secret. Perhaps she could worm some information out of Fiona.

That young lady was indeed happy to talk, but Lucinda did not feel she had got much further. Emma had “gone against the family business…said our business practices were immoral. She was awfully preachy and really that wasn’t fair at all. After all, our moral standards are set in stone. So we agreed it would be best if she went on to something else.”

“Where is she now?”

“Brazil.” And Fiona, too, changed the subject. Lucinda now had a strong suspicion that there was something shady about the Mason’s family business, something that had caused the split with Emma. Very likely poor Demmy had found out too much – but how and why was a mystery, for Demmy was a uniformed officer, not a detective. Perhaps the answer lay in Demmy’s deep interest in art and maybe even those disturbing statues.

During Fiona’s pregnancy, Albert took to asking her frequently to revive Julie Barrett for his pleasure and amusement, something she was happy to do. She, meanwhile, continued to enjoy the captive company of Gary and Dr Sukdev. It was on a trip to Bowndes Wood to enjoy them that she made a shocking discovery. The doctor’s burnished copper statue had vanished. Had she somehow revived, returned to fleshly form or near enough, and walked off?

Fiona considered this for a moment and rejected it – before she noticed the drag marks on the ground, crushed undergrowth and other signs of clumsy human activity. Dr Sukdev had not walked off: she had been stolen. Gary still stood untouched. It did not take Fiona long to work out what had made the Indian doctor attractive to the thieves when other statues had been unattractive. Someone had noticed this large copper statue in a secluded spot. The doctor had likely been stolen to be melted down for scrap.

A search by Albert, Diana and Chedzoy (Charles was away in Portugal on business) merely confirmed the bad news.

“Oh, NO! Poor Doctor Sunny! What can it be like, being melted down when you’re still conscious?” Fiona wailed.

“Darling, there’s no use crying over spilt milk,” Diana replied, patting her daughter on the shoulder. “Very soon, she’ll be copper wire and kettles and things. If you want another copper statue we’ll have to get a new one.”

Dr Sunita Sukdev was at that very moment in a lockup garage with car hub-caps, car exhaust systems, metal road notices, some wrought iron fenceposts and lead from a church roof. She was aware that she had been liberated from Masters Park, but conscious that the things round her suggested a worse fate than being periodically petted and raped by the Masons. Her former lover Gary had stood helplessly by as she had been taken. He had no idea what she had been taken for, but even in his new role as a marble statue, he missed her.

“I’m convinced the answer to Demmy’s disappearance is somewhere at Masters Hall,” Lucinda told Peter as they tucked into a delicious meal beside a roaring fire in a pub just outside Happisford. Outside the rain lashed down, but they were cocooned from the hostile weather. Three local men cast glances at the couple and all wondered how the pleasant but fairly ordinary-looking white guy had managed to land a spectacular black bird like that. Money, very likely.

“If you’re right, who do you think is responsible?” Peter asked in reply. “Wow, this sizzling chicken is heavenly!”

“The bean pot is pretty good too. Charles Mason MUST be involved. It couldn’t go on without him knowing. It could be someone else killed her or kidnapped her and then Charles covered up for them. That would fit if it was Diana: she’s a bit creepy and I suspect she’s a bi, just from how she looks at me and the Polish girl occasionally. Then I don’t think Charles could do something drastic without his wife knowing. Fiona seems nice enough, clever but a bit immature. I can’t see her doing anything like killing someone, but I’m sure she knows something. If it was her dad, she wouldn’t tell. The Somali husband is a nasty piece of work, but by all accounts he and Fiona hadn’t met when Demmy and that other cop girl went missing. How’s your beer?”

“Glorious. You can count on Wadworth’s. When we’re married I’m going to insist you give up Belgian and German rubbish and stick to proper British real ale. What if the butler did it?”

“Old Soper? No chance. He might know something, but no more than know, and he’s keeping shtum. Chedzoy the gamekeeper could be violent, but if he did it, why should his employer protect him? Mind you, my predecessor was around when they disappeared. By all accounts she was sharp. Can I leave her to you? I’ve got her address and that.”

Marcia Capstick poured herself a dry martini, sat down, sipped it and thought about the pleasant but rather vague young man who’d just visited her about a business proposition. He knew his I.T. all right, but the business proposition hadn’t really hung together and he’d been far too inquisitive about her background, especially Masters Hall. He could easily be a police detective. She picked up the phone.

“I do believe I’ve found a replacement for Dr Sukdev,” Charles announced at the breakfast table.

“ ‘Found’, Daddy? Where is she?” Fiona asked eagerly.

“Oh, still in Chew Magna.” He enjoyed the puzzled expressions. “In Partington College, Chew Magna, Somerset, just outside Bristol, in fact. Partington College is a superior private school for young ladies of promise, which has an excellent record of producing high achievers in the professions and business as well as very high class wives, personal assistants and whores – well, trophy girlfriends for millionaires. Costs the earth, too. We thought about sending you and your sister there, Fie, but the fees made us think twice. Just as well – it would have been wasted on your sister.”

“Teacher or student?” his wife asked crisply.

“Student, but the Head Girl, no less.”

“I still don’t understand how you found her or how you know she’ll be a good replacement for that doctor,” Diana objected. Charles smiled.

“Darling, you must remember that fellow Patel from Birmingham, a business associate of mine in property and construction? He stayed here for three days two years ago and I’m sure you’ve both heard me on the phone to him. Good chap, in fact: I can rely on his word in a deal and he’s quite good company for a drink or two. Well, he was always going on about his beautiful, brilliant, dutiful only daughter (he also has one son who’s a bit of a disappointment), and recently he was enthusing about how the lovely Meena had been made Head Girl of Partington College. I went to their website and lo and behold, there was a photo of the delightful Meena which convinced me she’s be an enhancement to the house or the grounds. Best in the house, I think. We don’t want her stolen and melted down too!”

“We’ve got to catch her first!” Diana crisply pointed out.

“No problem! We are the experts!” said Albert.

Meena Patel had just turned eighteen and the many cards were still up in her room (when Partington girls turned sixteen they were no longer accommodated in dormitories, but in their own rooms). There were some lovely presents from her doting parents, her many friends and even her grumpy brother, whom she loved despite his behaviour, and she looked forward to using some of them, but she felt a little embarrassed by the wealthy environment she lived in when so many people were poor. She wanted to do good in the world, real good. That was why she was aiming to be a doctor, and not some consultant to the rich and vain, but one who helped the people who needed it most.

There was just one problem about this plan – not getting a place in medical college, which her brilliance and dedication virtually ensured, but the competing attractions of tennis. She was already South-west England under-21 champion. Entry to Wimbledon next year was a very real possibility. But if she trained enough to succeed at tennis – and many people were telling her she could be Britain’s first Wimbledon champion since Virginia Wade – she would have to put the medical studies on hold. She loved tennis and had thought seriously about the dilemma, but there was really no contest in the end. Tennis would have to take a back seat.

For now, though, she could enjoy it to the full, as she had just been doing against Valerie Howard on the school’s tennis courts. As she walked back with the beaten and admiring Valerie past the flowering cherries towards the changing-rooms, their short, pleated white skirts flapping above their long legs in the whippy breeze, she thought how lucky she was and how wonderful life was.

Hiding behind the flowering cherries and some flower-pots, Albert peered out. The slim, brown one was the Patel c*nt, for sure, but he didn’t know what should be done with the shorter, plumper, Jewish-looking curly-haired one. Still, he either had to take both or neither.

He sent a very short text to Fiona by way of warning. Then he rose and walked openly towards the two girls, carrying a workman’s bag and calling out:

“Hello, ladies! I wonder if you can help me?”

“We’ll do our best,” Meena replied. “What do you want?”

“I’m not sure if I’ve found the right bit of the grounds,” said Albert. “They gave me this map but I can’t make sense of it.” The two girls leaned close to study the photocopied map. Albert could smell the sweet young sweat and, he imagined, a hint of something else, something salt. He punched Meena very hard in the belly and felled her instantly. Valerie could have run, but she stood for a crucial moment with shock and amazement on her face.

She said, “What…why? Urgh.” as she dropped on top of her friend. Then a slightly out of breath Charles appeared climbing over the fence. They heaved the two beautiful cut white flowers over the fence (their short tennis skirts flipping up delightfully) into the waiting arms of Diana and Fiona, who applied the chloroform and the gags. As Albert looked back, he saw a group of girls and a teacher approaching in the distance, evidently unaware of what was happening. It was done, and instead of just a replacement for Dr Sukdev, they had an extra statue to be as well.

And so one mindblowingly beautiful teenage angel and one just pretty and curvy one, their mouths covered in neat little sticky things, their youthful wrists tied with strong cord to their slim ankles and their expensive tennis kit somewhat dishevelled, were dumped out of Charles’ 4x4 on to the gravel drive of Masters Hall just as they were regaining consciousness.

“Darling daddy, do you want to do them?” asked Fiona.

“I’d be very happy if you did, Fie dearest,” he replied. So Fiona waited till the posh young ladies were fully revived and staring fearfully at the people standing round them, and then bent towards the plumper, shorter white one.

“Hello, I expect you’re not feeling too good, but this’ll make you much better,” she said, and showed Valerie the Lion. As she began to turn to stone, her friend Meena watched in horror but could not even scream. “Shit! I meant to take the sticky thing off!” yelled Fiona. She tried to tear off the object covering Valerie’s mouth, but it was too late: it too was white marble.

“Never mind, dear, we’ll be able to take it off when we revive her,” her mother pointed out.

“I suppose so, Mummy, but it isn’t artistically authentic like that,” her daughter replied. Still, I’ll take it off the other one.” She ripped the sticker from Meena’s full lips and the Indian girl promptly screamed. “Oh, dear – we’ll have to do something about that,” said Fiona, and showed her the Lion. Before their eyes the beautiful brown girl turned slowly into beautiful burnished copper.

Albert fetched a small adjustable wrench and tapped the tit of what had been Meena Patel. It clanged most satisfyingly.

“Albert! Copper’s a SOFT metal! You’ve made a dent in her lovely tit!” Fiona complained.

“Perhaps if we squeeze it when we revive her it’ll go back into shape,” Diana suggested.

Back in the office part of the house, Lucinda, who was talking with Angelika the Polish girl about her duties, just heard a faint scream. She and Angelika looked at one another.

“There are strange things in this place!” said the Polish girl.

“Yes, of course, but the family own the place and what they do within the law is their own business. Now, about that faulty cooker…” But Lucinda had noted that Angelika was disturbed and was clearly not party to whatever dark deeds might be going on.

A little later that day, Dr Sunita Sukdev was melted down for scrap together with eight other copper objects. The heat was appallingly painful, and as she lost her shape, she found her thoughts becoming confused and mixed in with other things:

“I am Sunita Sukdev. I am! Sunita fireplace. I was in Masters Park, in the toilet. What am I bid for this help Gary MY MIND very nice! Pity about the dent. Sunit. Copper from. Mummy. Clunk. AAAAAAAAAAAAAA…”

Separated from her beloved Demmy, the beautiful marble statue that was once PC Christabel Somerton was changing. Not in physical form, for that was fixed unless the Masons changed it, but in character. Before Charles Masters roughly took her, she had never experienced a man pumping in her – so the only sex she knew anything of was invasion by Charles, Albert or occasionally Chedzoy, plus the exploring fingers of Diana and Fiona. Perhaps something was keeping Chrissie’s mind slightly more active while she was a statue than was the case with most of the others – but in any case, while standing as a marble statue, she was bored and lonely. It took her a while to accept that the sight of the Masons approaching was welcome, and that if they passed her by she was disappointed – but in the end she recognised it. She wanted to be revived and fucked. They had awakened her latent sexuality, and while she did not enjoy being caned and whipped, she accepted that the wise Masons knew what was for the best. Once she had accepted the authority and wisdom of her parents; then she worshipped PC Demetria Lindsay; but now she accepted the authority of the Masons and admired their strength.

Meena Patel had also turned out to be a virgin when taken – less amazing, as she was eighteen, not twenty-two – but had arrived at Masters Hall deflowered by Albert, followed by Charles.

Fiona was a little unhappy about this, wondering if her beloved Lion might prefer to enslave virgins, but she could scarcely deny her dear husband and father their hard-earned pleasure. Meena’s friend Valerie had not been a virgin, something which made Diana tut with disapproval. Like Chrissie, Meena was discovering some pleasure in the situation, but not in what gave the enslaved policewoman pleasure.

Meena had always felt she had some special role in life. Now she knew her role was to be beautiful, something she did very well – and as a statue in burnished copper, she could be beautiful almost forever. She moped at the rough treatment she got when she was revived – as was happening frequently – but the experience of facing the Lion and being turned to metal was like a beautiful, incredibly intense dream. Her knowledge of orgasms came from biological and medical books, but it was the Lion that gave her orgasms. After a while she began to see the Masons as incidental and the Lion as her true lover and master. She imagined it knew that and recognised her.

“Claudette, I must see you! Please! You must help me!” Lucinda was startled by the hunted look in Angelika’s eyes and the desperation in her voice. She did not hesitate to drop what she was doing and lead the girl aside into a secluded place by the fishpond. There as the two young women walked side by side, she asked Lisa to tell what was troubling her.

The Polish girl, her big breasts shaking with emotion, struggled to find the words to start. Then she began, “You know, Claudette, I try very hard to keep fit, to jog, to do exercises, to swim, even in Happisford the women football team. Every morning after I get up I go for jog in the park. Usually I go same way, same time, but I use little path and tree has fallen across it, so instead of making little change this day I decide to make big change and go another way. I come towards clearing where there is statues, two servant girls. But today there is voices. It is strange, very early. Maybe it is poachers, Chedzoy spoke of them. So I go slow and watch my footing. But it is not poachers, it is Fiona and Albert. Something makes me afraid. I stop and hide behind a trees. They go to one servant girl statue and Fiona takes something from her bag, I could not see what, and a moment later she moves and I see the statue has come to life! It is real girl! She is not white marble, she is punk!”

“Punk?” Luncinda was puzzled.

“Punk, punk, halfway red to white! Like on lady pants! Like on AIDS ribbons!”

“Ah.  Pink.”

“But she does not move! Then Fiona slap her hard on face and I see her face make red! And sound is sound of hand on flesh, not on stone! And Fiona not hurt herself! The, in front of his wife, Albert get out his thing and fuck servant girl in from back! For long! Then Fiona wave something in servant girl’s face and slowly she back turn to stone! I creep away like mouse! I want to leave! I want to Poland!”

Lucinda was bewildered. What had Angelika really seen? Certainly some sex play with a statue, and no doubt the Polish girl was quite suggestible – but some of what she had described seemed very circumstantial. Possibly the figure Albert had used was not one of the statues at all, but a life-sized sex doll which resembled one of the statues. That was plausible. But the idea that the statues could even partly come to life troubled her deeply. It was almost as if they could once have been flesh and blood. And there was that realistic statue of her sister…She decided to take a risk and confide in Angelika.

“Angelika, you’re a good girl, a brave girl, and I can trust you. I’m going to tell you something very secret about myself.” Lisa was clearly flattered.

“Yes? I keep secret! With my life! Always!”

“My real name is not Claudette. I’m not really an estate manager.”

“You are police?”

“No – but my sister was. Some time ago she and another policewoman disappeared in the grounds of Masters Hall. They were never found. The police have stupid ideas about them which I know aren’t true. Something bad happened to them. I’m determined to find out what, and if the Masons or anyone else turns out to have harmed a hair on the head of my dear Demmy, I’ll kill them. Angelika, will you help me? It’s dangerous, but I mean to win!”

Angelika looked long and hard at her. Finally she spoke: “What is your real name?”

“Lucinda Lindsay. Doctor Lucinda Lindsay.”

“Lucinda, I am with you.” Lucinda squeezed her hand and then kissed her lightly on the forehead.

“Good, brave girl!” she said. “Take this little camera. Don’t show it to anyone, but use it when you can. Keep jogging.”

“I will!” said Angelika.

Lucinda thought about the new situation and decided it was not sensible for her to hang about outside waiting to see what happened with the statues. Angelika would continue to go on her jog, and Peter could make a visit or two as a tourist and wander into the woods. In the meantime she’d keep subtly trying to get more information from Fiona – and from Dan Wills and from any of the locals she could get talking with. She watched the behaviour of the Masons around the statues with new interest, noticing that when other people were about – tourists even – they often disappeared towards a half-hidden hollow on the open ground. Once she saw them carrying out some rolls of canvas towards it, perhaps to cover the wet grass. Unfortunately, there did not seem to be any good position from which one might hide and watch what they were doing there, except from a kiosk where drinks and knick-knacks were served at unreasonable cost to tourists. The back of the kiosk would overlook the hollow, Lucinda concluded. But when it was not in use it was padlocked and firmly shut. She could not break in without leaving obvious signs – so for the time being she forgot about the hollow.

Two days later Fiona gave birth to a fine boy, whose skin colour confirmed that Albert was the father. They named him Charles Albert Masters. Charles Albert Masters Smiles.

Two days after that Lucinda was sitting alone in the bar of the Royal Huntsman reading a poetry book when someone coming out from the toilets collided with a chair and stumbled.

It was the butler Soper.

“Hello, Soper!” Lucinda said, “may I join you?” the butler, who seemed to be drunk, grinned and agreed. Lucinda got him another beer. A short while later Soper was reminiscing about a “darkie” he’d known in the army and had even asked Lucinda to call him Don. He was also spilling out strange fears about the Masters Hall statues.

“It’s the way they keep growing that worries me,” he confided.

“Growing? The statues grow?”

“Yes, love, not by getting bigger, of course, you know, but by making more of them. More of them. More and more. Some I knew. That Paki doctor from the village, all right she was for one, well, you know. And those two policewomen. One of them, the darkie, gave me a lift back home from the Huntsman when I was frog-arsed. Not like I am now, I’m sober as a fucking priest, sorry, love.”

“What about the two policewomen, Soper? What happened?” He belched and then apologised profusely while Lucinda waited impatiently for him to continue.

“Where was I? The doctor. Now she’s just scrap metal. Waste, really. Then…”

“You were talking about the policewomen.”

“Which policewomen? None here, are they?”

“The one who gave you a lift when you were drunk…”

“Oh, yes. All right she was, for a darkie. Nice tits. Begging your pardon. And now she’s in the lake and they just play with her and, well, you know what I mean…”

“No, I don’t.” He looked surprised.

“Oh, come on, love, you’re a woman of the word, I mean world.”

“No, I may be a businesswoman and manager, but I’m quite an innocent girl!” she said, managing to sound coquettish.

“Fucking them. Excuse my French. Although the black one is Miss Fiona’s special favourite, of course, and I don’t think you can call that fucking, not when it’s a woman, not proper fucking. Oh, I’m sorry, Miss. I think I’ve drunk a bit too much. I withdraw everything I’ve said, Your Honour, especially the suckings. Fuckings. OOARH, I DO beg my pardon!” he said, having farted.

“I’d better give you a lift back to Masters Hall,” said Lucinda. He fell asleep in her car.

The landlord, Harry Parsons, who had heard the second half of the conversation, slipped upstairs and used his mobile phone. The recorded voice at the other end was Charles Masters’. Parsons spoke clearly and urgently. But Masters was in Portugal and having problems with his phone. He would not pick up the message for several days.

Angelika Trawinska was jogging again just after dawn, the light, fine rain falling pleasantly enough on her warm limbs and head. She was now varying her route and making sure as often as possible it ran inside the wood or other cover, but just inside so she could spot any action on the open ground. Claudette had told her something of what Soper had revealed, and warned her to be very careful; but the Black lady so obviously was passionate to find out the truth and Angelika was determined to help her.

To her left, beyond the trees, something brightly-coloured moved – a splodge of bright red. Angelika stopped, checked around her for anyone else among the trees, and peered out at the open ground.

The statue represented a slim girl perhaps about to grow out of her teens, wearing clothes Angelika thought belonged to the Napoleonic period if Polish analogies were any good. She was respectably dressed from the waist up and naked below it. She was bending to touch a wooden picnic table that had been fixed to the stump of a big dead tree as if to pick up a drink or start clearing things away. Her pert, tight, well-rounded bottom stuck out towards the wood and the hidden Angelika. The arrangement was on a mound or hillock beyond which was lower ground.

Angelika could see something bright red moving behind the statue, and seconds later it resolved into the top half of Fiona Smiles, wearing a bright red open-necked shirt which made her look like some romantic 19th century revolutionary. She turned and seemed to be saying something; and from the hidden lower ground appeared her husband and mother. The Polish girl held the camera ready, peering round a large beech tree. They were not far off, close enough to make her frightened they would see her. They seemed in a good mood.

Fiona reached into her tasselled bag and drew out something that hung on a metal chain as if it were quite heavy. She held it up to her face and kissed it. Then she walked round in front of the statue and slowly waved the object in the statue’s face. Something in the expectant attitudes of the other two made Angelika concentrate hard. She took her first photo. Then she was convinced she must be fantasising. The statue was changing colour, its bare parts from waxy white to a softer, faintly pinkish off-white and the clothes into green faced with cream. The hair of the statue, once marble white, was becoming dark red. Fiona reached out into the hair and tugged a strand out straight. Reached into the hair and tugged a strand out? That was impossible with stone. Lisa’s heart began to beat hard and fast. Diana Mason carefully positioned herself behind the statue, crouched down, and thrust her hand up its…but statues did not have girl things. But Diana’s long fingers had disappeared up somewhere. Angelika took more photos.

Diana pulled back and was replaced by Albert. She could not doubt what he was doing. He was having sex with the statue and enjoying it. She kept taking pictures.

“Well, now, what be YOU doin’?” said the heavy male voice right behind her. She spun round, dropping the camera. Facing her was the gamekeeper Chedzoy. He was pointing a shotgun at her. She was a brave girl, and despite Chedzoy’s bulk and menacing expression, thought perhaps she would have a chance if he bent to pick up her camera. “Pick up that camera. The get moving towards the House!” he said. She did what she was told.

Fiona, Albert and Diana had stopped playing with the statue and were staring at Lisa and her captor. Two or three times Angelika looked round to seek messages in Chedzoy’s face, but what she read there did not reassure her.

She was in the cellar, directly under the kitchen. Four people were standing round her, Chedzoy still holding the gun. She looked from face to face and found no comfort.

“You wretched girl – what were you doing spying on us?” asked Diana.

“Nothing, Mrs Mason, I was just taking photos!” she said weakly.

“Photos of what?”

“Of you and Mr Albert and Mrs Fiona having picnic at the table. Aaargh!” Diana had slapped her hard in the face.

“Strip!” said the older woman.


“STRIP, you stupid little tart! Get your clothes off! Or Chedzoy here will persuade you.”

“All ready to do that, Mistress!” said Chedzoy.

Angelika began to undress. When she was down to bra and panties she looked beseechingly at Diana, but her gaze withered in the woman’s hard stare. Fumbling, she unhooked her bra from her great magnificent breasts. She did not like the expressions of the two men when her breasts swayed and wobbled free.

“Get on with it!” said Diana. Angelika nervously pulled her panties down and stood naked except for pink socks before her captors. Diana nodded to Chedzoy, who pulled up a large wooden crate which, by the sound of it, contained bottles. “Over the top!” Diana ordered. She obeyed. The crate was hard and the corners pushed painfully into her. A projecting screw pushed into her lower belly. “Now, girl, I want answers. Why were you snooping? Who are you working for?” Diana demanded. As she got no reply, she motioned to Chedzoy for something. Now she was flexing in front of Angelika’s face a vicious big bullwhip. “I’m something of an expert with this thing,” she told her chattily, “but I haven’t had a chance to use it for nearly three years.”

“Shall I tie her down?” Albert asked.

“Thank you, Albert – you are the perfect gentleman. Please do that,” his mother-in-law responded. Diana stroked the whip and then experimentally cracked it, but it was the cruel, furious, relentless face of Fiona, staring into the Polish girl’s eyes, that most made her full of terror.

The whip struck across Angelika’s  big, soft bottom, biting into the fat cheeks and leaving a vivid red mark. She screamed. Diana struck again. She screamed again – but when her tormentor repeated her questions, she bravely replied,

“I will never tell, evil woman! AIAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!” – for Diana had struck the third blow. Eight cuts later, Angelika was blubbing and moaning, but still refusing to talk. Diana, Fiona and Albert held a short conference. Albert insisted he could open her lips; but Fiona had another idea.

“There’ll be no-one else up above in the kitchen, will there? She’d be starting work there soon if she wasn’t down here. Let’s take her to the kitchen. I have an idea.” So they removed Angelika from the crate, tied her ankles together (not too close) and her wrists behind her back, and carried her up the steps to the kitchen.

Fiona, making sure the girl was watching, walked slowly over and turned on the electric cooker, activating all the hotplates. As they began to glow dull red, Fiona motioned for Angelika to be brought over. She did not need to tell Albert what she had in mind. The Polish girl’s huge tits were pushed closer and closer to the now red-hot plates. At about nine inches away, she began to scream, not a scream of pain, but of desperation. At three inches she yelled,

“NO! NO! I tell! Everything!” Then, “Mary Mother of God!” she cried, for Albert and Diana had pulled her back.

“It had better be good, or next time we won’t stop,” Diana told her. “Who put you up to this?” Angelika started to cry, caught Diana’s cold eye and stopped.

“Please, it was Claudette! She told me to do this!” she burbled.

“Why?” asked Fiona.

“She is not who she says! She is Lucia or something. She say her sister was policewoman and was, and was…”

“Black Beauty the Hippo!” hissed Fiona. “Claudette’s her SISTER! Well, well – we can have a pair of them now!”

“If the c*nt hasn’t run away!” said Albert.

“Is anyone else involved? Tell us!” Diana demanded. Angelika knew the Black girl’s boyfriend was involved, but decided she did not need to betray him. Instead she said,

“Mr Soper. Only because he was drunk and talked to Claudette in the Royal Huntsman.”

“I’ll speak to Parsons,” said Diana.

“Albert and I will get Claudette,” Fiona added. As an afterthought, she turned to the Polish girl, who was now sobbing convulsively, her big breasts wobbling with each sob. “Sorry we had to be so beastly, Angelika,” Fiona said. “Have you ever seen anything like this?”

Lucinda had been doing a little work on her personal computer, dressed in white towelling robe and bra and panties, when the discreet knock came on the door. She thought it was probably Angelika, back from her jogging and having seen something, so she opened it – to stare down the barrel of a squat gun and into the hard eyes of Albert.

“Hands behind your head!” he ordered. “Now – forward, slowly!” She did what he said and he stood aside so he could follow her. She watched for a chance to jump him, but he knew what he was doing. As he ordered her towards the staircase, her robe fell open and threatened to trip her up. “Get that thing off!” Albert barked. She obeyed. Trying not to cry, but at the same time thinking hard, staying alert, she descended the stairs, hearing his steady step behind her. She found herself in the kitchen, where Fiona stood waiting with a naked Angelika. Fiona smiled.

“Hello, Claudette!” she said. “We’ve been rather naughty, haven’t we?”

Angelika said nothing and did not move. She looked unnaturally pale. NO! She was like the other statues – but not quite. She was still just human, but turning to stone! That was the meaning of all those other statues! That was what had happened to Demmy and her friend!

Oh, God, NO! Poor brave Angelika! It was her fault. She had persuaded the poor kid to stay, and now she was becoming a statue.

“Nice, isn’t she?” Fiona remarked. “But you’ll look even better! Mind you, we’ve got a few questions to ask you before we turn you to jet.” Lucinda looked over her shoulder and saw that Albert still stood with gun at the ready, too distant for a desperate grab.

Then a distinctive sound broke into the silence – a baby crying, relayed by the intercom Fiona had insisted on installing so she could hear all that came from her darling.

“Shit!” said Fiona, and hurried off, telling Albert not to do anything much before she returned to join in the fun.

“Looks like you’ll just have to stand there for a few minutes, darling,” he said. “You can use the time watching this cow finish turning into stone just like you will, except she’s white.” Half-turning, he tweaked the Polish girl’s hardening nipple and flipped his nail in her face. Then he screamed. The not-yet-quite-statue had bitten his finger. He just managed to wrench it free from the petrifying teeth.

But Lucinda moved very fast. She gripped his gun hand, forcing it up. He pulled the trigger but the bullet plunged into the ceiling. Then he groaned and collapsed. Lucinda had kicked him hard in the balls. His last sight before losing consciousness was of the stately Black woman in white, frilly underwear standing over him holding his own gun. He tried to remember a prayer, but failed. She hit him on the head with the gun and everything went blank.

For Lucinda nothing had gone blank. She looked at Angelika and found no response in her eyes. Nothing to be done there.

The only clothes available were on Albert and she decided it would take too long to strip him. Lucinda thought quickly and clearly. Time was not on her side. It was a long way up the great staircase to her room where her clothes, her mobile phone, her computer and her car keys were. If she went up there she would very likely be trapped. Diana Mason was around somewhere, Fiona would be back soon – the baby’s crying had stopped – and no doubt one or two of the staff were in it. She had Albert’s gun, but it was not the only gun on the estate: Chedzoy had a shotgun, Charles had some kind of Portuguese military handgun with which he occasionally took potshots, and as she had never suspected Albert had a gun, Fiona or Diana might have one too. Lucinda, like most Brits, disliked and was reluctant to use a gun for anything. Besides, if she shot one of them she would probably end up imprisoned for murder. No-one would believe her story. No, she had to escape quickly – even though she was wearing almost nothing. Speed was vital. There was a back door not far from the kitchen. She ran.

Out on to the stone flags of the courtyard, out through the outer door she ran. No-one was chasing or shouting. She ran towards the back car park where a few estate and staff vehicles were kept. If she could do nothing there, she would head into the trees and aim for the lane to Middle Worlock. She ran round a corner to the edge of the car park and almost collided with Chedzoy. His physical reactions showed that he took in first that she was nearly naked, and only afterwards that she was holding a gun.

“Seen enough? Turn around, walk to your land-rover and open both doors on this side!” she ordered. He did what he was told. Behind her, she heard shouts. She glanced very quickly round and could see no-one. Chedzoy looked round as he opened the driver’s door, as if thinking about trying to jump her, but she was at a sensible distance and her face made him abandon the idea. Soon the vehicle was drawing out of the car park and heading for the West entrance.

“Faster!” she said. He accelerated. “That’s fast enough!” she added, in case he had ideas about crashing the land-rover, or the bumps threw her enough off-balance for him to try to seize the gun.

The wrought iron gates of the West entrance were quite flimsy compared to those of the main entrance. They crashed through with ease. A mile outside Middle Worlock she ordered Chedzoy to turn off the lane on to a space in front of a farm gate. She hit him on the back of the head with the gun, but she did not want to kill him and she did not hit hard enough. He groaned and fumbled for something. She hit him again. That time it worked. She checked he was breathing, dragged him behind some bushes, took his jacket and trousers though they were much too big for her, and drove on. In Middle Worlock she turned into the side streets and saw Fiona’s motorbike roaring past.  Right in front of her was an unvandalised public call box. Watched by two amazed gawping youths, who had rarely seen a Black woman and never one so ill-dressed, she walked to the box and called Peter, reversing the charges.  She did not stay by the land-rover in case the Masons came looking for it; but it was Peter who found her first. She was safe.

The council of war at Masters Hall was the most sombre occasion Charles Mason could remember since Fiona had unmasked her sister as a traitor to the family and the Lion. He had been recalled urgently from Portugal and had spared no expense to get back as quickly as possible. In the meantime everything had been suspiciously quiet. The police had not appeared or even phoned. Chedzoy had recovered by himself and had phoned Masters Hall.

They had found the land-rover and had not reported it stolen. A fine statue of old Soper now stood beside Angelika Trawinska’s and Fiona had thoroughly searched Claudette’s room and effects, but had found nothing beyond a notebook with sketches of the house and grounds, looking more like mapping than art, and some numbers in the memory of her mobile phone – and a little tag inside the back of an old pair of running shorts said “LL”. Of Claudette, or whatever her real name was, there had been no sight nor sound.

Charles opened proceedings with a crisp summary of recent events and information, including the suspicious man who’d visited Marcia Capstick. He finished with “So – ideas for action?”

“She’s probably not gone far,” said Fiona. “If she is Black Beauty’s sister – and I can see a resemblance now – she’ll be desperate to sort us out and get revenge for her sister if she can’t bring her back. She’ll know we’ll be looking for her, so she won’t stop in the villages round here where she’d stick out like a sore thumb. Where would she be less conspicuous? Only town for miles and miles?”

“Happisford!” Albert interjected. “Of course! Not far from here. Not many black people, but many army people because of the firing range, and people would think her an army wife or girlfriend. We look for her there!”

“I don’t see why she would need to stay so close,” Diana disagreed. “Happisford isn’t a big place and she wouldn’t exactly melt into the background there. If she has money and an accomplice – and I fancy she has both – she’ll have access to a car, so she’d have no need to stay a bus ride away. My money’s on somewhere quite big with plenty of Black faces. Bristol or Southampton, I reckon.”

“No point goin’ lookin’ for her in them places,” Chedzoy remarked.

“I still think Happisford. She underestimates us!” said Albert.

“Albert, darling, you underestimated her!” Fiona reminded him. “She kicked you in your darling balls, the bitch.”

“At least there’s no sign of police interest,” said Charles. If we can’t find her – and we certainly can make a visit or two to Happisford – we may just have to wait for her to make the next move.”

“Yer!” said Chedzoy. “We don’t need to go lookin’ for her! She’ll come to us, her or her bloke. Just need to make sure the cow don’t get away again.”

“Chedzoy, I don’t think I could have put it better myself!” said Charles.

They did not find Lucinda in Happisford, but not long after the conference Peter, thinly disguised with hair dyed black and spectacles, visited the Hall as a tourist and took many photos. He went undetected; but next week he returned and the alert Diana herself photographed him. When he left, Albert followed in his van and followed him past Happisford to the outskirts of Coldminster, where Peter lost him by slipping out at a busy junction.

While the Masons waited, ready for action, Lucinda, with Peter’s help, had hatched her own plan – or rather, two.

First of all, without great hopes, she tried the police. The investigation of her sister’s disappearance had not impressed her, but she had formed a fairly favourable impression of Demetria’s boss, Chief Inspector Henry Hector – so she sought him out.

He received her willingly and with weary politeness. He soon admitted that he had hoped her approach meant that she had heard from Demetria; but when she explained about the Masons and the statues, she could see she was losing him. Quite clearly he was thinking that this highly-educated, successful professional woman was deranged, perhaps by her sister’s disappearance – or maybe there was madness in the family which could lie behind the disappearance. He continued to be courteous, but promised nothing except that, if any more evidence came to light, they could search Masters Hall again. Lucinda could see no point in such a search if they ignored the statues as works of art. Hector mildly pointed out that by her own admission she had broken the law in falsifying her identity and qualifications to get a job at Masters Hall, but as she had effectively resigned, he could tell her he saw no point in pursuing that matter.

Lucinda thanked him – her frustration was balanced by her liking for an obviously fair and conscientious man of whom poor Demmy had spoken well – and left. It was on to plan B.

In the meantime, the Masons had, at Fiona’s urging, made another expedition to increase the stock of statues.

This time they did not have an identified target, but they had agreed that major tourist spots would make good hunting-grounds, and the outdoor upland and coastal sort would be best because they tended to attract fit young women and to encourage them to get into remote places in small groups or even alone. Rejecting the New Forest as too near and too crowded with day-trippers, they had fixed on Devon and Cornwall first, at the far end of their own region, followed by Snowdonia in North Wales.

For the Devon and Cornwall trip, Diana was away visiting old friends, but Charles took the lead and Albert shared driving the 4x4. Fiona insisted on taking her baby son, saying he could not start receiving the right influences too early. Three days on Dartmoor offered dramatic scenery and a number of views of delightful, leggy visitors, but no opportunities to take one. The moved west; and crossing Bodmin Moor, heading towards the dramatic cliffs of the North Cornwall coast, while Charles had relieved Albert at the wheel, their luck changed.

“Slow down, Daddy!” Fiona shouted. She did not need to give a reason. Ahead, on the quite small and twisty road, were two girl cyclists in single file whose fine bottoms in tight shorts stuck out like goods on display. Albert was eager to take them there and then, but Charles was more cautious, concluding that an attack on the two of them might well lead to one getting away and that if they stopped in the road, very likely another vehicle would come along before they had finished. Although he had every excuse to slow down behind the targets so the rear cyclist’s warm brown legs and super-tight pink shorts around a plump bottom could be properly viewed, he knew that after a while an obvious chance to overtake was bound to come, and not to take it would be to send a clear warning signal to the girls. Nonetheless, the Masons took every opportunity for a good look before finally Charles felt he could no longer hold back from overtaking. This at least allowed a better view of the leading cyclist, a petite, pale-skinned blonde in neat white shorts.

A couple of miles further on, they found a lay-by with a picnic table, a fine view over downward-sloping land towards the coast, and some kind of interpretative board. This was a good excuse for Charles to turn off the road, park, and wait for the girls to cycle past so, after a decent interval, he could take up the chase and look for an opportunity to take them. While they waited, Charles and Fiona studied the board while Albert busied himself making checks on the van which he had made that morning anyway.

A slight nudge in the ribs from Fiona told Charles that the cycling pair had appeared. To his amazement, however, they did not cycle straight past, but turned off, waved at the Masons, and parked their bikes by the picnic table. Albert straightened up and smiled at them. Before he, Charles or Fiona could do anything, the pair of them walked over towards them, smiling. The brown girl was as buxom in front as she was well-buttocked behind, and the neat little blonde balanced her tight, pert cheeks with the firmest of small breasts, the tiny points in her pale yellow top indicating that she was not wearing a bra. Fiona, Charles and Albert were all thinking the same thing – that they would make fine additions to the statues.

“Hello!” said the big girl, “there is information?” She had some kind of accent, German, Dutch or possible Northern French. Charles smiled back and said a few words about Bodmin Moor and the North Cornish coast. He was about to ask where the girls were from when the big one broke in:

“Thankyou! It is very beautiful here. We are so pleased we come here. We are from Germany, it is our first time in Cornwall, my first in England.” He must have looked a little surprised, for she added,

“You are surprised that I am German? I do not look like a German?” She laughed. “I am Turkish German. My name is Aysan. My friend is Silke. We are both students. She is from Bremerhaven, I am from Hamburg, but we both are studies at Koln. Sorry, for you it is Cologne, like for French. Silke will be art administrator, but I also think play writer and short story writer. She is very good. I study to be doctor. But I talk too much! You are English, yes? Your name is? Sorry, is that rude?” Her big breasts in the pale blue top rose and fell. Charles stared at them, but she did not notice. He told her a little – true as far as it went – about his family, ending with his grandson in his carrycot in the vehicle.

Delighted, Aysan went to peer through the window at the baby. Charles and Fiona followed her, looking across to where Silke now sat at the wooden picnic table chatting with Albert. Charles exchanged glances with Albert and nodded. When Aysan bent to peer through the window, Charles jammed himself against her plump bottom and pulled her head back by its lustrous black hair while Fiona half-emptied the contents of the small bottle into the cleaning cloth and, resisting its heady fumes, pressed it to the plump girl’s mouth and nose.

She bucked and writhed, but could not get free. She struggled to shout, perhaps to warn her friend, but could only get out “MMMMMGHN, MMG, MMK!”

“I’m sorry,” said Charles calmly, “I couldn’t quite make that out. Was it in Turkish or German? Do you speak English?”

But then he cried out with pain. The girl had kicked him hard on the shin and, turning and jerking away from Fiona’s attempt to catch her, had followed up with a punch to Charles’ nose. He staggered back.

At that point Aysan had a choice. If she had run for it over the rough grassland, she would certainly have outpaced Charles and maybe Fiona. But she could see Albert had seized Silke and, lacking chloroform, was trying to subdue her desperate struggles by hitting her head against the table. Aysan raced to help her friend, pursued by Fiona.

“Watch out, Albert!” Fiona cried – and Albert turned to see what was happening, but was not prepared to let go of his captive. Aysan hit him hard in the mouth and he tumbled back into Silke, sending both of them sprawling on the wooden bench.

“Bitch! Harpy!” Fiona yelled close behind the Turkish girl – and she turned, turned right into a cunning punch to the neck which dropped her. Fiona jumped on her victim’s plump breasts. Silke had got away from Albert, blood running down her face, but failed to see Charles’ outstretched foot. As she tumbled to the ground, Charles grabbed and held her, motioning Albert to return to Fiona’s help – but Fiona needed no help. As Charles applied his own store of chloroform and the petite blonde became limp, he heard several dull thuds and guessed Albert and Fiona were punishing Aysan for the pain she had caused.

They all froze as the sound of a vehicle approached – but the high performance car shot by.

Soon, two unconscious German cyclists were being loaded into the van along with their cycles. The family stopped to enjoy the girls’ excellent and carefully prepared picnic lunch before heading off to dump the bikes at a clifftop location with a dizzying drop to rocks and a rough sea.

“I wonder if the fat brown one will turn to copper or to marble – or to something else,” Fiona mused. “She’s lighter than poor dear Doctor Sucks or that Patel bitch.”

“We’ll soon find out,” said Charles, who had handed over driving duties to Albert. “Well, well – she’s wearing white panties, as if she really wants to be white, and her twiggy little friend’s wearing pink ones the same shade as Miss Brownie’s shorts! What a clever balance!”

But it was to be some time before they found out what Aysan would turn into.

 After unloading their well-trussed and gagged victims at Masters Hall late that night and dragging them into the Hall, they realised both catches were damaged worse than they had appreciated in the 4x4. Silke’s nose was a mess, Aysan’s eyes were almost closed and surrounded by swollen, puffy flesh, and both girls’ faces were swollen and bruised.

“Oh, dear,” said Charles, surveying the damage, “they don’t look nearly as nice as they did when we first saw them!”

“I had to knock the blonde c*nt about to get her under control,” said Albert defensively.

“Oh, certainly, darling!” Fiona broke in, “And the fat brown one deserved everything she got for that AWFUL attack on dear daddy! But they do look a bit of a mess. Shall we throw them away?”

“I don’t think there’s any need for that,” said Charles judiciously. “We just need to keep them here, clean them up, feed them and so on – give their bodies time to recover so they look better, and then show them the Lion. Bit of a waste of food and drink, but it can’t be helped.”

And so Silke and Aysan were kept hanging from hooks in the cellar, well trussed, to be released when it was necessary, while Fiona – and Diana on her return – treated their injuries most solicitously. At this time, if Lucinda had persuaded the police to raid the Hall again, the Masons would have faced total disaster; but Lucinda did not know about the captives, and did not try.

From time to time the two German girls talked to one another in German, wondering what these devils had in store for them and whether the police were looking for them, but not guessing their real fate. One day Diana came and looked at them, smiled, and called to her husband:

“Darling! I think they’re ready! The girls could see from their captors’ faces that something different was going to happen, and they were afraid.  Charles produced something metal on a chain, paused, and handed it to his daughter, who advanced close to Aysan. She smiled, held up the thing on the chain, and asked:

“Have you ever seen anything like this?” As the Turkish German girl stiffened, her blonde friend screamed,

“NEIN! NEIN! XXXX! NEIN!” The Masons let Aysan’s transformation proceed until it was obvious that she was turning to copper and not marble or anything else before Fiona handed the Lion back to her father, who smiled at Silke and showed her the Lion’s face.

It was delightful the way so many of them were petrified with staring eyes and wide open mouths, Charles thought, as Silke’s transformation began.

“We’d better not put the copper one outside in case the thieves return,” Diana ruled. “I think she’d look very nice in the main bathroom.”

“And the dinky little blonde would go very well by the fishpond,” Charles added. And so it was.

Meanwhile, Lucinda’s plans were approaching completion. Peter had made two further visits to the estate, not realising he was now being watched, and together they had identified a weak point in the forces of evil. Lily Pollock helped with various simple tasks, including staffing the kiosk from which visitors received tea, coffee, soft drinks, cakes, biscuits and expensive mementos of Masters Hall. She lived in the village and used to be given a lift by her mother, but now possessed a small car and drove to work. Lily was only too obviously silly and garrulous. She might talk if put under pressure. Moreover, her kiosk commanded an ideal place from which observations could be made of activity among the statues and overlooked a small copse where the Masons had been seen to withdraw while visitors were around. Lily was about to be kidnapped – and Lucinda was about to replace Lily. She would need the assistance of a make-up expert, but just such a one was an ex-girlfriend of Peter’s.

Lily’s route to work took her over a small river by way of a single-track bridge in the depths of the country. That morning she was annoyed to find that some van or whatever had shed part of its load and a number of wooden crates were strewn across the road on the bridge. Because the country lane executed a sharp bend just before the bridge, she was almost on the mess before she braked and stopped. There was nothing for it but to reverse into a rutted open space used by forestry vehicles. She reversed. Because of the ruts she had to do this at a crawl. The passenger door opened. A young woman with coffee-coloured skin was leaning in pointing a gun at her.

Lily was no heroine. She braked and stalled the car. Her first, stupid, thought was that it was a carjacking. She started protesting that the car cost only £900.

“Do what I say and you won’t get hurt,” the woman with the gun said. Her voice sounded familiar. Lily did what she was told, though her panic was ending and she was starting to try to take in whatever information she could about her attacker. When a youngish white man appeared, she noted that he did not look much like a violent criminal. That was the last observation of significance she could make, as a hood descended over her head and ropes were tightened round her body. Then she was loaded into the boot of her own car and all she could do was try to keep a rough idea of how long they were driving for.

It did not seem at all long before the car bumped up a rough track and drew to a halt. She was unloaded without a word being said. A couple of minutes later she found herself trussed, gagged and blindfolded, being sat down on some sort of chair by someone evidently taking care to make her as comfortable as possible. Then it all went quiet.

“Hello, is that Mrs Mason?” the voice like Lily’s asked when Diana – short of servants – answered the landline phone. “It’s Lily. I’m sorry, I’ve got an AWFUL case of the runs. I can’t come in. I know…OH, SHIT! Oooh, sorry, Mrs Mason! I know it’s a really busy day at the Hall with that big coachload of Americans and all the others, so I asked an old schoolfriend of mine if she could fill in. I’ve told her all she needs to know. Oh, dear!”

“What’s her name?” asked Diana crisply.

“Suzy. Suzy Wright.”

“You know the security rules, Lily. Describe her.”

“Umm…my age but looks a bit older. Sort of coloured but not very coloured. Short hair. Quite big…umm…” She dissolved in giggles.

“Pull yourself together, girl!” said Diana sharply.

“Sorry. And I’ve let her have my stuff because I know Mr Mason likes me to wear it. She’s about my size.”

“Very well. Get better quickly!” said Diana.

Lucinda terminated the call on Lily’s mobile phone and smiled grimly. First and second rounds to her.

The captive real Lily, meanwhile, was making muffled sounds and movements to indicate severe discomfort. They achieved what she wanted, for her jailor removed the blindfold and gag. Lily found herself looking into the big brown eyes of a black girl who looked no older than herself, a girl with a friendly, concerned expression, shoulder-length straightened hair, shabby, rather loose jeans and the most remarkable breasts, quite narrow but long and very firm, sticking out like guns from a battleship in the plain white t-shirt. On a small trestle table in front of the girl lay some kind of gun, shaped like a pistol but bigger.

“Hi! Are you all right?” said the girl.

“I’ve fucking had my car nicked, I’ve been dumped in the boot tied up and gagged and some ni…some black kid’s holding me at gunpoint. Yeah, of course I’m fucking all right!” Lily replied. The black girl looked embarrassed.

“Well, look, I’m really sorry. We just had to do it. You’ll get your car back and the other stuff we took.”

“You took some other stuff of mine?”

“Well, we had thought you’d be wearing your…um…work clothes and we’d have to take them off you, but luckily we didn’t have to do that because they were all in your bag on the back seat. And we had to take your mobile phone, but I promise you’ll get it back.” At work at Masters Hall, Lily took pleasure in wearing hotpants (currently her new apricot-coloured pair), high-heeled black boots that reached a good halfway up her calves and a super-tight t-shirt, with no panties or bra. She still lived with her mother, however, who would not let her leave the house like that – so she left dressed decently and changed into her favourite clothes on arrival at Masters Hall. Charles Mason himself had spoken approvingly of her get-up and Lily hoped one day she could screw him.

Lily was taking in what she had learnt from her captor. The attackers weren’t interested in stealing her car or anything else of hers. That was good news. But they wanted her clothes and had borrowed her mobile phone. Could someone be going to impersonate her at the Hall? She didn’t know the full story about the Masons and the statues, but she knew very well something weird was going on, something that was probably against the law. This other bunch must be enemies of the Masons. They didn’t seem like police, but they might be some kind of gangsters – except this girl didn’t seem likely to hurt a fly. That was the other important thing she’d learnt – that she was being held captive by a soft-hearted girl who’d easily been persuaded to remove her gag and blindfold.

“What’s this all about?” she asked. The black girl half-smiled, nervously.

“I’m sorry – I can’t tell you, not yet. Later on when Lu…when my sister comes back with her friend, they’ll want to talk with you. You’ve really got nothing to be afraid of and I’m sure you can help us a lot.”

“I’m sure of that too,” thought Lily, “but I’m fucking not going to.”

The black girl cautiously moved the gun closer to her before picking up a big book which she opened at a marked place.

“It’s a fucking bible!” Lily thought. The girl looked up.

“Oh, by the way, this isn’t a real gun. It’s a bolt gun. But it would do an awful lot of damage if it shot a bolt out, so please don’t take any risks. Believe me, I hate having it.” She returned to the bible.

The Lindsay sisters had been three – Lucinda the eldest, academically brilliant and curvy; Demetria the middle one, clever and quite ludicrously generously proportioned top and bottom; and Sabina the youngest, clever, innocent, rather shy, possessed of remarkable breasts and now in her first year at York University studying foreign languages. When Lucinda had realised she needed a third member of the team for her big plan, Peter had suggested two of his friends, but Lucinda did not trust his judgement in such a sensitive matter, considering him too trusting, and had reluctantly decided that the most reliable person for the job was her own youngest sister. Sabina worshipped Lucinda, had loved Demetria, and was only too keen to help.

Lucinda’s plan, discussed with Peter and Sabina but proposed with such vigour that they hardly challenged it, was to “kill two birds with one stone” as she put it. The kidnapped Lily surely knew something about what the Masons were doing, but seemed much more likely to give up her secrets under a little pressure than, say, Chedzoy, Albert or even Fiona. Lucinda knew full well that even if they recorded Lily’s interrogation, the evidence would be inadmissible in court, but maybe she could be persuaded to tell now and then repeat the story freely to the police.

The other part of the plan was to use Lily’s abduction to replace her with Lucinda herself, suitably disguised with her skin temporarily lightened, a straight-haired wig and green contact lenses. As she was replacing Lily, she would have access to the kiosk, and on a normally quiet day when she was unlikely to be kept busy by tourists. She had a film camera with a long lens and a set of carpenter’s tools with which she could make a discreet hole in the back wall of the kiosk if necessary. She also carried Lily’s mobile phone so she could call Peter for help if necessary. It was risky, but it might just turn up the evidence they needed – and Lucinda was brave.

Dressed in Lily’s work clothes, which she found incredibly tarty, Lucinda turned up at the main gate of Masters Hall and was admitted. Charles himself had made a point of welcoming the new temp – and checking her out both for suitability and for sex. He liked what he saw on both counts. She appeared to be of mixed race, no doubt the daughter of a Black soldier and some local girl, which itself gave her some rarity value in North Dorset. She was exceedingly curvy and wore Lily’s revealing clothes with cock-enticing panache. She had beautiful tits and no bra. She also seemed friendly and willing, a girl of relatively few words but picking up his simple instructions with ease. At the end of the day, he thought, he’d see if she was game for a light recreational fuck. She would look most tasteful as a statue, and another jet one would be nice (if that was what she’d turn to) but he dismissed that idea for two reasons: they were short of staff now and a suitable girl who could be offered a permanent post was not to be sneezed at or petrified; and taking girls at Masters Hall was too risky.

Lucinda established herself in the kiosk and was pleased to find in the thing’s flimsy back wall a loose wooden panel that could easily be moved to give a view over the hollow. One part of her mind told her success was quite unlikely, the risks huge and the consequences of kidnapping Lily might include a prison sentence. The other part was exultant. She had established herself unsuspected at the heart of the enemy’s camp. Everything was going well and she had a good feeling about the outcome. Demetria would be saved or at least avenged.

She craned forward for her first look into the hollow and gasped. A large pale brown tent had been erected there. That was what the rolls of canvas had been – a tent! She clenched her slim fingers into her palm with frustration. She wouldn’t be able to see what they were up to after all. However, she might see some comings and goings to the tent, though only when she was not busy with tourists. Just before the first tourists of the day arrived, she saw Charles and Diana walking hand in hand towards the tent and slipping inside. When she next looked, a trolley had been parked outside the tent entrance. Presumably it had transported something, but what, she could not tell.

A party of Italian tourists kept her busy and she had to discipline herself when three of the young men leered at her and made suggestions not to tell them to fuck off. Instead she smiled, reached for something above the kiosk window so as to emphasise her breasts, and scribbled a phone number for them. It happened to be the number of the incontinence advice service in Southampton. Luckily once the Italians had moved on visitor numbers were few. Eventually a fat, chatty middle-aged Londoner took up residence at her window, wanting to know where she came from, what she thought of the locals (“a bit slow, aren’t they?”) and whether she had a boyfriend. A less clever and alert woman might just have seen him as a nuisance and a distraction from her task, but Lucinda realised he could represent an opportunity.

“My name’s Suzy,” she told him. “What’s yours?”

“Dave, luv. Dave Callaghan.”

“Dave, you seem a really nice man. Could you help me?” Dave looked very pleased indeed.

“Of course, luv. Be my guest. Your wish is my command!” She summoned up a shy look.

“Dave, um, look – could you man the kiosk just for a minute? I’m sure I can trust you –

you’ve got such a nice face. I’m desperate for a pee and there’s no loo in this wretched thing.”

“Of course, luv!” he said, and lumbered in to take over. Lucinda, liberated, trotted softly towards the tent. She knew she was taking a big risk, but she had the mobile phone to summon Peter – and, in her cheap white handbag, the gun she had taken from Albert.

As she entered the hollow, she saw no people. But in front of the tent entrance was a neatly painted sign:


“Bugger that!” she whispered to herself. She reconnoitred the tent. Was there anywhere other than the entrance where she could peek in? As she did so, she heard voices and laughter - and other noises she could not interpret, though perhaps they were grunts. Then a woman screamed, long and desperately. Lucinda cast caution to the winds, lifted up a section of canvas and peered under it. This was quite difficult because the hotpants were so tight and she did not want to alert anyone inside through a loud ripping noise.

She instantly recognised the back view of Charles Mason. Further away, facing him but evidently not looking at the chink in the bottom of the canvas, was Fiona. Some way to the left was one of the statues, not one she recognised, a marble statue of a petite, extremely pretty, rather short-haired girl in cycling gear, her hands on her knees and her shorts resting on her hands, leaving her pert bottom bare.

“That must be some poor girl they’ve just petrified,” thought Lucinda, “the bastards!” She could see there was someone else between Charles and his daughter, and although the light was poor, she realised the someone else was black. Whoever it was seemed to be moving a little, but she could not be sure this was really happening. Then Charles moved aside, revealing that he held a cane. He also revealed in the same instant that the other person was Demetria. As the horrified Lucinda watched, her sister’s eyes rolled. Then Charles cut the cane into her left breast. Demetria screamed. As Charles stepped back again, Lucinda saw that her sister’s nipple was missing. Then she saw it sticking from the middle of her tit-top.

“Bastards! I’ll get you!” she hissed to herself. For a moment she was about to try to rip up the canvas and charge straight in, but her rational mind told her the chink in the canvas was too small, the material was too heavy, and she would merely alert the Masons. Instead she dropped the canvas back, sprang up and raced to the tent entrance, bursting through it with Albert’s gun at the ready.

She achieved complete surprise. Fiona saw her and froze. Charles had his back to her, but seeing his daughter’s face change, turned around. The gun was pointing at him. He too froze. Demetria’s face also showed amazement, but the rest of her body did not move.

“Demmy! Ohmigod, you’re alive! Oh, how fantastic! Get away from him! Get up and come to me!” Lucinda urged. Her sister did not move. Charles Mason coughed.

“Suzy – or perhaps I should say Claudette – or perhaps neither, for I’m guessing you’re this much loved young lady’s sister – I’m afraid you’ve wasted your time. Your sister is technically alive. She can cry, scream, moan, show facial expressions to some extent, and exert a similar degree of flexibility in her genitals; but she cannot walk or talk. Her posture is what we choose.”

“I thought she was going to be such a lovely black doll, but she’s a very old-fashioned sort of doll. She won’t walk or talk. Mind you, maybe she never could,” said Fiona conversationally.

“Shut up, you harpy!” spat Lucinda. “Well, Mr Mason, I’m afraid you’ve misinterpreted the situation. It’s true that my first aim was to rescue my dear Demmy if she was till alive, but I always knew it was quite likely she was dead. Then my second aim was to get revenge on whoever killed her. That’s you, Mr Mason, and you, itsy-bitsy girly Fiona!” She pointed the gun.

In the meantime, however, other things had not gone according to Lucinda’s plan.

Albert had been chatting with Diana, listening with fascination to her tales of how she met Charles, of how the young Charles had stolen her heart with the élan and debonair style with which he had petrified a few girls, and of the recent past of the lion, when the landline phone rang. It was just across the room, so he answered it.

“Is that Albert?” a familiar young female voice asked. “It’s Lily. I think someone told Charles or Diana I was ill. Well, I wasn’t. But I was being held at the point of a bolt gun by some wog c*nt with weird-shaped tits. I was tied up and that. Well, now the fucking wog c*nt’s tied up and I’m holding the bolt gun to her big tits. Someone’s taken my place. I think it’s Claudette. She was disguised, but after a bit I recognised her voice. She’s up to no good!”

“Where are you?” asked Albert.

“The old foresters’ hut at the end of the big track in Swabley Forest. Don’t you fucking move or you’ll get a big fucking bolt in your stupid black tit.”

Correctly deducing that this last remark was not directed at him, Albert quickly alerted Diana. She picked up her mobile phone and started trying to contact Chedzoy, who was out on the estate somewhere with his shotgun, to return urgently to the tea and cake kiosk.

Albert, bereft of his gun, ran to pick up some other weapon. He knew there were lots of old weapons in one room. There was a sword, an axe and a long gun with a bayonet; but Albert chose the lance. He had read romances of medieval England with fascination, mixing up the mythical King Arthur with the historical but idealised Henry the Fifth and so on. He fancied himself a valiant knight in shining armour, Sir Lancelot perhaps, or Sir Mordred. He tugged the lance from the wall. As he did so his mobile phone rang. He almost ignored it, but thought it might be a call for help from Fiona. It was a text. It said simply “TENT”.

Back at the foresters’ hut, Lily had spoken softly and sympathetically to Sabina, who had responded with kind words, saying how sorry she was they had to mistreat Lily, and how she would come to no harm. Wanting Lily to understand that her capture was in a good cause, she explained most of Lucinda’s plan. Lily was horrified. This could not be allowed to succeed!

“Ooooh, my wrists! My arms! I’m going all numb! I can’t feel anything in my right arm and just a little in my left, no, now that’s gone too! Help! I’m dying!” cried Lily.

Sabina hastened to loosen her bonds round her arms and massage her wrists. Although Lily’s wrists were still tied together, it was not hard to clamp them round the back of unsuspecting Sabina’s head, grip hold of her tight curls, and bang her head on the trestle table. She pulled the girl’s head up again and banged it down again. Sabina had shrieked and was now stunned. Lily swiftly freed her hands from the loosened cord. She picked up Sabina’s bible, raised it high and slammed it down on her head. Sabina went limp. Lily slammed the bible down four more times to make sure and because she was enjoying it.

After she had completed freeing herself, she checked the black girl’s pulse and breathing – not out of any concern, but because if the cow was dead, she didn’t need to be tied up – and finding that she wasn’t dead, had trussed her up good and tight, making sure the cord was pulled very tight indeed round the base of those most unusual breasts. Then, remembering her own mobile phone had been taken, she searched Sabina and found a dinky little pink one. With that she phoned Masters Hall and gave warning.

Lucinda, having frightened Charles and Fiona into subservience, ordered them back and made another attempt to get a reaction from her beloved sister, bending a little to wave her hand in front of Demetria’s eyes and pat her shoulder. Demetria’s eyes moved but she gave no other reaction.

“Daddy told you so, but you wouldn’t listen!” said Fiona.

“Right, that’s it!” hissed the avenging Lucinda. “You’re getting it first, you evil, perverted old man!” Still resting her hand on poor Demmy’s shoulder, she aimed carefully at Charles’ head. Behind her, the entrance flap twitched as Albert crept in, his knightly lance at the ready.

The sight before him would stay with him for the rest of his life. If he was a knight of the round table, he had just found the Holy Grail. He had never before, in all his extensive experience of the female arse, seen a target quite so compelling. Lucinda’s butter-plump but superbly firm, superbly rounded, bent and invitingly presented haunches stared at him in Lily’s incredibly tight apricot-coloured hotpants, the undercheeks moulded in apricot as if it were painted on, the depth of the deep, tight, mysterious cleft between them hinted at as the material pulled in between the magnificent mounds. Beneath them were warm brown thighs, well-muscled but feminine, with beautifully smooth skin; and beneath them were Lily’s shiny black high-heeled boots.

Lucinda had a gun and was pointing it at Charles’ head.

Albert’s duty was clear. So was his desire. This was the woman who had tricked him, humiliated him and stolen his gun.

“Don’t think I like the idea of killing people, even you,” said Lucinda, “but you deserve this, Charles Mason.”

Albert, with all his muscular power, struck. It might be a desperate situation, but Albert was not only ruthless and violent: he was an artist and a perfectionist.

The first sound was a kind of “PLUCK!” like a sharp knife being plunged into a melon. It was rapidly followed by the loud crack of the gun; but Charles had seen what was happening and had ducked. The bullet whistled over where his head had been.

It seemed as though at first Lucinda did not feel the pain, only shock. She shot upright, dropping the gun and staring stupidly at the nine inches or so of lance now projecting from her belly. Albert, using all his knowledge of the female rump, had buried it precisely through her arsehole.

Then the pain hit home and Lucinda screamed. She threw her head back so she was looking at the roof of the tent. Her mouth opened wide, showing her fine white teeth set off against her brown skin. The wail coming from her was despairing, primal and for Albert, the most beautiful thing he had ever heard.  Seeing her legs begin to buckle, he swiftly grounded his end of the lance so as to prop her up. Just a little blood seeped into her hotpants around the entry point and the exit point, but very little, for the lance was very sharp and Albert had struck with precision.

Outside, an elderly tourist couple were approaching the hollow and the “workshop”. They heard the despairing wail.

“Someone’s hit his fingernail with the hammer, for sure!” said the man.

It was Fiona who acted fastest.

“QUICK, DADDY!” she yelled.

But Charles did not need telling what he had to do quickly. He pulled the lion out of his jacket pocket and leapt towards Lucinda. He held it above her wide open mouth, in front of her dying eyes.

“Have you ever seen anything like this?” he asked.

Lucinda did not reply.

It was touch and go. She was dying, and if she died before the petrification was complete, she would remain as a fine jet statue, but her consciousness would be gone and she could not be revived. But Lucinda was a tough, healthy young woman, a natural fighter. She held on just long enough. Charles, Albert, Fiona and the helpless Demetria watched in silence.

“I think it’s worked,” said Charles finally. “We’ve saved her. It’s only fair and appropriate: she was a noble opponent.”

“Not much fun fucking a stone statue, either,” Albert added. “Look – your lance has turned to jet too!” It was true. What had been Dr Lucinda Lindsay was now the most remarkable of all the statues of Masters Hall.

Charles looked into her stilled eyes and tweaked her pretty, hardened ear.

“There is nothing more glorious and more noble than the final utter conquest of a brave, dangerous, totally worthy opponent, to achieve absolute power over one who could easily have destroyed you. Consider how hunting peoples like the American Indians and the Bushmen of the Kalahari show respect to a fine animal they have killed before they cut it up and eat it. Consider the behaviour, the state of mind of the fisherman who has landed a shark which fought him powerfully and cleverly and might have destroyed his boat. Consider, my heroic Albert, what a medieval knight felt when he had destroyed a brave, strong, chivalrous opponent who was very nearly his conqueror. In such circumstances, victory is unutterably sweet, but it is right and proper to show respect to the vanquished. In recognition of this, we accord to Dr Lucinda Lindsay immortality, and we raise a statue to her.”

“And we can thrash her and fuck her when we want, daddy!” said Fiona. She paused. “Daddy, as she’ll still be conscious all the time, will she be feeling all that pain all the time that lance is in her, but be unable to scream?”

Charles smiled. “Fie, you’ve hit the nail on the head,” he replied. “I don’t think we need hurry to revive her. I’m afraid it isn’t going to be a very comfortable few months for our sugar-sweet little black vixen here. You understand all that, don’t you, PC Demetria Lindsay? Do you like what we’ve done to your loving sister?”

“I’m glad she’ll be feeling all the time like the lance has just been stuck up her arsehole,” said Fiona. “She humiliated Albert – and Chedzoy. That’s not allowed. Someone who does that suffers.”

“Yes – it was sweet. No woman’s ever done something like that to me,” Albert added.

“I’m sure PC giant tit Piggy’s pleased we’ve got her some company,” said Charles.

The laughter reached the ears of the tourist couple walking outside.

“Having a rare old time in there, someone is!” said the woman.

“Albert, please get over to that hut in Swabley Forest and bring in the third one and that fine young woman Lily. She’s done very well: I think we must give her more responsibilities and a pay rise,” said Charles. “Ah, Diana, my love! You’ve just missed a most fascinating train of events. Albert stuck this young lady. By the way – well done, Albert, young man. I do believe you saved my life, and possibly the future of the Lion.” Albert smiled and left on his errand.

“I hope Chedzoy’s all right. I sent him to the kiosk. I thought this horrible woman was still there,” Diana said.

“I’ll find out,” Fiona replied, and pressed a button on her mobile phone.

Chedzoy, acting on instructions, had hurried to the kiosk, where he had found not Lucinda Lindsay but Dave Callaghan. Dave, having concluded that the juicy young black woman had not told the truth when she said she was just going for a pee and would not be a minute – or at least, that she had met someone and got into one of those long gossip sessions women had – was in the middle of rifling the till when Chedzoy arrived with his shotgun.

“Steady on, mate, I was just checking the takings. This black bird asked me to hold the fort while she went for a piss,” he explained.

“Who are yew?” the hulking gamekeeper asked, not lowering the gun.

“Dave Callaghan, from Streatham. Look, there’s at least a hundred and fifty quid here. How say we go evens? Two quid for you for every one for me, then? Is it a deal?”

“Where’s the black girl?” asked Chedzoy.

“Dunno. She should be back by now. Even women don’t take that long for a piss.”

“Turn around. Put your ‘ands on the wall. I’m going to search yew,” said Chedzoy. Dave was not arguing. He had reached the conclusion that he had stumbled into something big. The best thing would be to gain some advantage from it, but a very good second would be to stumble out again in one piece.

Chedzoy found only one suspicious item – a small digital camera. It was a big advantage of such contraptions, he thought, that you could check what was on them without fucking around with developing rolls of film. Dave’s photos started with three that were clearly candid upskirts of some kind of Asian girl. Chedzoy was not a genius, but he was not lacking in commonsense. He concluded that a man who took upskirt peek photos was unlikely to be an assistant of the woman who had called herself Claudette. At that point his phone rang and Fiona briefed him.

“O.K. – yew can go!” he told the Londoner.

“And the money?”

“Keep it. An’ that black girl who was in this kiosk – yew never saw her, roight?”

“What black girl, mate?” asked Dave.

As Dave was about to leave, he turned around and spoke.

“Look, mate, no offence, but I wasn’t born yesterday. You lot are in some kind of business. That’s good – I’m a businessman myself. I don’t need to know what sort of business unless you want to tell me. But I can put two and two together. That black piece is filth or a journalist, isn’t she?”

“She was filth,” Chedzoy replied, having decided to paint Lucinda as a police officer.

Dave noticed with interest the word “was”. This situation was dangerous, but there must be more money in it than £150 from the till.

“Here,” he said, proffering a business card. “Just in case you lot find it useful – I’ve got contacts. Reliable contacts for just about everything. San Francisco, Moscow, Madrid, Naples, Bangkok, Buenos Aires, Lagos, Mexico City, Hong Kong, Dubai. Just for a start. Call me if you need anything.”

Chedzoy grunted thanks and pocketed the card to pass on to the Master.

Meanwhile, Diana had reminded the others that “Claudette” had undoubtedly been working with a male accomplice. Almost certainly the man was waiting somewhere for her.

“Not in the grounds, surely,” Charles mused. “In a getaway car just outside, almost certainly. So where…”

“That lay-by! Albert’s one!” said Fiona. “I’m sure he’ll be there.”

“Very well – check it out now. Take this. Best not take the motorbike as this thing might have mentioned you and motorbikes. Run!” said Charles. Fiona ran; but as she neared the lay-by she slowed so as not to appear out of breath.

Lucinda had told Peter about Fiona Mason, of course, but Peter had never seen the girl. So when footsteps told him someone was approaching the car, and he saw a pretty, smiling young woman, he was only slightly nervous. The body language of the young woman did not look like that of someone psyched up for violence. She tapped lightly on the car window, which was one third open. She smiled, but it was the professional smile of someone who wanted to be polite but had business to transact.

“Hi! DC Fakenham, Dorset Police,” she said, waving an impressive badge. “Do you mind if I ask you two questions, sir?” Peter wound the window down further.

“Certainly. Go ahead,” he replied.

“What’s your name, sir?”

“Peter Ward.”

“Thank you, sir. Have you ever seen anything like this?” the girl asked.

The return of Albert with a well-trussed Sabina Lindsay and a jubilant, preening Lily Pollock completed the last-ditch victory of the Masons. By now the last tourists were melting away and the late-leavers took no notice of a 4x4 driving out to the rim of the hollow.

Under Charles’ direction Sabina was released from her bonds and then shown the stiff figures of her two sisters, the one bent almost double with one nipple moved halfway up her tit, and the other, whom she had embraced and laughed with only that morning, upright in tarty clothes with a cavalry lance spitting her through the arsehole. Unlike the other two, who were mature young women well-established in demanding professions, Sabina was only just on the cusp of becoming an adult and had been the baby of the family. She broke down in torrential tears. After a few minutes, it seemed that the torrent was drying up – but then she looked up, saw the anguish on Lucinda’s face, saw the tip of the lance protruding, and started all over again.

Charles checked his watch.

“Enough of that!” he said briskly, and slapped her hard on the face. She stopped, but stared at him soulfully. “Fiona, would you like to explain the process to the new recruit?” he suggested. Fiona gave Sabina a little lecture about being a statue, taking trouble to explain the precise status of her two older sisters. She finished with,

“And now you’re going to join them, so we’ll have THREE nice, glossy jet statues, all with big tits and big bottoms! Isn’t that lovely?” Sabina did not seem to think so, and when Diana suggested that she would look better for a little caning, the suggestion met with general acclaim. After the four Masons had taken their turn in burying the cane in their new girl’s butter-plump buttocks, leaving red weals that showed up even on her dark skin, Charles turned to Lily.

“My dear girl, we all owe an enormous debt of gratitude to you. I’m sure you have a distinguished future with Master Hall. The thing we have here was your capture. She dominated you, but then you dominated her. It would only be appropriate for you to cane her, and I’m sure this is the first of many happy occasions.”

“Thank you, sir, really, I’m honoured!” said Lily; and indeed, she seemed almost overawed. But she took the cane, stroked it, flexed it, ordered Sabina held upright and her head pulled back, and took aim at her beautiful, remarkable long tits.

There was a certain almost musical rhythm to it, Charles thought:

“IAAAAAOW, wa, hur, hur, hur, hur, hur, WAAAAIOOOW, wa, hur, hur, hur…”. Classical music had started as music to accompany and direct dancing, but maybe the new wave of music would be based on the natural rhythms of corporal punishment.

With every cut, Sabina’s tit spasmed, seeming to stiffen. When she was well striped on both tits, Lily bowed to Charles, bowed to Diana and handed back the cane.

“Well done, young lady!” said Charles.

“Great! Evil!” said Fiona.

“Wur, hur, hur, hur, hur,” said Sabina.

“Daddeeee…” said Fiona.

“Yes, dear?”

“I’ve NEVER seen one of our slaves getting done by three men at once. I had a dream about that last night. It must have been a prophecy or a message from the lion. Can you get Chedzoy to come here?”

“Certainly, darling!” said Charles.

“Wur, hur, hur, hur, hur! Waaa, hur, hur, hur, hur,” said Sabina.

And so it was done according to Fiona’s vision. The last of the brave Lindsay sisters was mastered by three men at once, by Charles between her toothless lips, by Chedzoy between her toothy lips and by Albert between her taut, rubbery buttocks.

“Good God!” said Charles. Chedzoy and Albert were too busy to notice, but Diana asked,

“What is it, dearest?”

“Another virgin! My faith in the morals of the younger generation is…AAAAAAAAAAAAAH!...entirely restored.”

The three men changed places twice for completeness, and then it was time for Fiona to play her part.

“Ahm, thing,” she said, “Have you ever seen anything like this?”

“What a wonderful thing loyalty and closeness and mutual support between sisters is,” Charles reflected ten minutes later. “If it weren’t for that, we’d only have one beautiful, glossy jet statue with big tits and arse. But thanks to sisterly love, we’ve got three!”

“Yes, daddy, I keep Emma very close to me!” Fiona replied. “I DO love the way you’ve arranged them!”

For the naked Sabina, her big tears on her face and tits turned to jet with the rest of her, was now holding the petrified lance that stuck through her sister’s body as if she had struck the blow.

“Time to clear up – we’ve had a hard day’s work!” said Charles.

The news that Dr Lucinda Lindsay and her fiancé Peter Ward had killed themselves through a suicide pact and taken Lucinda’s younger sister with them, their car having been found at Devil’s Leap just where Dr Sukdev’s had been found, left Chief Inspector Henry Hector deeply troubled.

His superiors had told him firmly that the disappearance bore all the signs of a suicide pact and hard warned him against becoming obsessed by Masters Hall; but Henry Hector was not happy.

His brief interview with Dr Lindsay had left him with the impression of an intelligent, resolute young woman, one who was giving credence to all sort of ridiculous fantasies about the statues of Masters Hall, admittedly, but certainly not the sort of person to suddenly despair of her diligent work to discover the fate of her sister and kill herself and (even more unlikely) her beloved boyfriend. Even if she had come to that point, he could not imagine her conniving in the death of her young sister, hardly more than a kid. It was a fraction more plausible that Sabina had died trying to prevent them from killing themselves, but only a fraction. As for Peter, the Chief Inspector had not met him, but by all accounts he had been a balanced, level-headed, decent sort of man. Admittedly he was clearly the follower rather than the leader in his relationship with Lucinda Lindsay, but even so, it was hard to believe he’d have meekly followed her over a cliff. The psychology just didn’t make sense, Henry thought.

A few discreet enquiries about events around Masters Hall had made him more suspicious. The local beat officer reported that there had been exceptional turnover of staff there. Old Soper, an employee for 46 years, had suddenly upped sticks and emigrated to Australia to join his nephew. Marcia Capstick had left to run her own business and her replacement, some woman called Claudette Swann, had left after only a few months. The Polish girl cook had gone back to Poland and been replaced by a lad called Dale Ansell. Henry strongly suspected something odd was going on there – not some magical nonsense with statues, but something illegal. If Lucinda Lindsay and Peter Ward had chanced on it, they might indeed be dead, but not by their own hands – and the same cause might have accounted for the disappearance of PCs Demetria Lindsay and Christabel Somerton.

He would have been even more suspicious had it not been for the original mystery about the disappearance of those four Japanese schoolgirls having been solved. Well, it was not formally solved, but as often happened in police work, the police had a very good idea what had happened but just couldn’t prove it.

The Japanese police – a conscientious, professional force in Henry’s opinion – had passed on their belief that the culprit had been a teacher, Chiya Miyamoto, who had been part of the original party. She had by all accounts developed an unnaturally close relationship with one of the girls in the party who had not vanished, and had been seen whispering with her, meeting her in bars and cafes and so on, after the disappearance. Then she and the girl had announced they were going on holiday together to the Lake District in England. The girl’s parents had suspected their daughter had been seduced, but could not stop her. Then both of them had simply vanished. They had arrived in England at a London airport, and after that, there had been no word. A major search had started in the Lake District, an area whose changeable weather and deep, rocky gullies often claimed the lives of incautious climbers and walkers, but the search had wound down after police had realised there was no evidence either woman had been in the Lake District at all. No youth hostel or guest house had recorded them, and in fact no one remembered such a Japanese couple, two young women without other companions, one larger and older than the other.

Not all this information came to Henry Hector – just the conclusion – or he might have asked about local police records and made the connection with the two Japanese women who had misinterpreted some people playing with a statue in Masters Park and had called the police.

Japanese police had delved into Chiya Miyamoto’s background and had found that a pupil had accused her of trying to trap her in a room and sexually abuse her. The allegation had been dismissed at the time because the pupil was regarded as a troublemaker. Now they were convinced the teacher had been behind the four girls’ disappearance, and feared they and the fifth girl were dead. But that did not explain the disappearance of Demetria and Chrissie, two young officers Henry had been responsible for and had liked. It was something to do with Masters Hall and the Mason family, he felt it in his bones. Somehow, he was going to find out the truth. He owed it to young Demetria and Chrissie.

As Charles, Diana, Fiona, Albert and (in his baby chair) young Charles relaxed over a promising meal prepared by young Dale Ansell, they reflected on the recent dramatic and satisfying events.

“I think I can say that Dr Lindsay was the most worthy opponent of the Lion since Colonel Robert Vinnicombe,” the elder Charles ruled. “I’ve mentioned him before, haven’t I?”

“A Roundhead, wasn’t he?” Fiona ventured.

“A Puritan and a Parliamentarian, yes. Actually, like Cromwell, Fairfax and many others he had really long hair. He was Sir John Masters’ local opponent in the Civil War and defeated him fair and square in a small battle near Dorchester. When Sir John was exiled, he himself moved into the Hall. It’s strange that he didn’t have the statues that already existed destroyed, as they already offended Puritan sensibilities. He had them stacked away – but maybe they exerted some attraction on him. At the Restoration he was turfed out. Sir John cooked up some dubious evidence of the man’s involvement in an extremist plot against Charles II – the Fifth Monarchy plot – and the Colonel hanged. His wife and four lovely daughters are among the statues. It would be much more respectful and appropriate if the Colonel had been made a statue too, but the Lion wasn’t working on men in those days – and anyway, I have to say that Sir John was not altogether a gentleman.”

“So the Lion destroys its enemies!” said Fiona.

When Lucinda Lindsay had lured her rival for the post at Masters Hall, young Alex Delagrange, into staring at the kinky statues, she had set off a train of events that led not only to the petrification of herself, her fiancé and her younger sister, and the promotion of Lily Pollock, but also to untold consequences for Alex and four other people.

Alex had received a traditional upbringing and was religious in a conventional kind of way. He was also, despite his business skills, rather impressionable and a little unstable. The statues had troubled him deeply, as Lucinda, desperate to get the job, had intended. He had been sexually excited by them, but they were evil and twisted, so he could not accept he found them sexy. He had no problem with what he regarded as wholesome sex, but statues of beautiful women fingering their most private parts, frozen in the act of beating one another, sniffing one another’s intimate regions and so on, were appalling – yet they kept coming back to him, in his dreams and even at unexpected times when he was awake, and whenever they came to him, he felt excited and his penis rose. He could not accept this in himself, so clearly he was being invaded by something evil from outside. It must be the Devil. The statues of Masters Hall were the work of the Devil.

Once he had reached this conclusion, it was clear to him what he must do.

It was not unusual for fit-looking young men to arrive as visitors at Masters Hall wearing big rucksacks, and Alex hid his features, which might be recognised by some people at the Hall, under a floppy blue bush hat. The rucksack did look rather heavy, some of the other visitors noticed, but no doubt he had one of those big earthenware containers of the local cider in it or a week’s supply of cream of chicken soup in small tins.

What was actually weighing down the rucksack was a sledgehammer. Alex waited till the other visitors had dispersed and he could see no-one nearby. Then he laid down the rucksack, took out the sledgehammer and advanced on the nearest devilish statue.

It showed a young woman of maybe eighteen or nineteen in the garb of a seventeenth-century puritan woman, but with her skirt round her ankles and her unusually big bottom stuck out while her pretty, rather childish face peeked round one side and her hand crept round the other to investigate her most intimate part. Alex felt a great righteous power rise in him. He raised the heavy hammer high with all the upper-body strength of a good rugby player – and he swung it down.

The devilish creation’s head hit the ground. He moved on to the next nearest statue, of a woman perhaps in her late twenties or early thirties, in an elaborate hairstyle and showy, frilly dress he vaguely associated with the eighteenth century. The woman was smiling right at him as she was frozen in the act of pulling her beautiful breast out. A moment later her smile, and the rest of her head, lay on the neat grass.

The power was growing in Alex as he delivered righteous judgement. The next statue was of a girl with long, frizzy hair and features that might be Mediterranean or Jewish: she was dressed as if she had been playing tennis, but was lowering herself down on the end of her raquet. He knocked her head off, but it rolled so she seemed to be looking right at him, laughter, whorish invitation and contempt in her gaze. He struck her body several times more.

Then he moved on to the fourth abomination to be destroyed. This one obscenely parodied an innocent-faced, long-legged uniformed policewoman, doing something unspeakable with her baton. That whore’s head hit the ground as Alex continued his good work; then he knocked one of her legs off and she fell over.


Alex looked up to see a big, angry man in a tweed jacket and corduroys levelling a shotgun at him. Alex laughed and struck again. Then there was a loud noise and he felt a terrible pain in his right calf. He dropped the hammer and fell to the ground.

Summoned by Chedzoy, Lily and Dale soon appeared with a stretcher generally used to move statues, and Alex was taken into the Hall and away from the eyes and ears of the tourists. Diana, who had first aid training, made sure he was in no danger. Then the family and their staff held a quick conference.

“Turn the bastard into another statue!” said Chedzoy, who was shaken by the wanton vandalism he had witnessed.

“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Diana replied. “A number of visitors must have heard the shot and it looked to me as if two or three must have seen this man writhing about on the ground. We could be very badly placed if the police were called.”

“You are right, darling,” Charles confirmed. “Besides, I don’t think we really need another male statue. You don’t fancy him, do you, Fie?”

“Oh, DADDY! Really!” Fiona replied in a huff.

“I don’t think young Mr Delagrange presents a problem in himself,” Charles continued. “He’s clearly mentally disturbed and nothing he says will trouble us. I fully intend to insist on paying for the best medical care for him. As for the police, I’ll call them. No, we have two problems – one small and one big.”

“Don’t be a tease, daddy!” Fiona urged. “What are they?”

“The small one concerns Chedzoy, who shot Alex despite the young man presenting no threat. Technically that’s illegal, but I’m pretty sure either of two defences will work. One is for Chedzoy to allege that he was close to the man, who raised his hammer to hit him. The other is to claim that the gun went off accidentally as Chedzoy raced towards the poor lad to stop him.” Chedzoy shrugged.

“The first one will do me,” he said. “Oi can always fall back on the other if oi need to, but oi reckon nowadays they can mebbe tell how close a shot were fired.”

“Excellent. And the second, dear?” asked Diana.

“The state of four of our statues, of course. But that isn’t urgent. I’ll ring for the police and an ambulance.”

“Who are the old two?” asked Fiona. “One’s a puritan girl, but the other’s something quite different.”

“Ah. The puritan girl is the youngest, favourite daughter of that Colonel Vinnicombe I was telling you about. The other one is probably the last acquisition of Sir Danvers Masters before he went broke. She may even have contributed to his financial ruin. She’s a top-class French courtesan who had pleasured Napoleon at twenty-one and at twenty-eight was immortalised by Sir Danvers,” Charles explained. “Now don’t let me forget to call the emergency services.”

Police Inspector Jan Jones did not believe Chedzoy’s explanation, but she was not inclined to press the matter. It would be very hard to prove Chedzoy wrong and any prosecution would probably face a jury highly sympathetic to a loyal employee acting to stop an appalling act of vandalism. Indeed, she had some sympathy with that view herself. Chedzoy, a blunt, impulsive man of action, could not have known how highly mentally disturbed the young man was, and the statues were valuable, unique works of art. To be honest, she also rather fancied Chedzoy, but of course that could not come into consideration.

Alex Delagrange was patched up and swiftly committed under the Mental Health Act. It is a matter of record that Charles Mason did indeed pay for expensive private health care as soon as the young man was released. Alex himself made a good recovery, except that he married a rather plain mental health nurse, went into merchant banking, and became very rich and boring.

Before that, though, the Masons had to consider what to do with the wrecked statues.

The two older ones had lost their heads – neatly severed – but were otherwise undamaged. It was Valerie Howard and PC Christabel Somerton who presented the real problem. Chrissie had not only lost her head, but also one long, shapely leg (the left one) and one neat tit (the right one). At first sight she looked irrecoverable. Schoolgirl Valerie Howard, who had been raped and petrified for being Mena Patel’s friend and in the wrong place at the wrong time, was in even worse condition, reduced to a pile of eight separate chunks of marble.

“It makes one want to cry!” said Charles, staring at the mess. “Our lovely statues! What a shame!”

“Still, there’s plenty more and we can bring in new ones,” said Albert, “but it is a pity about the white pig girl. She was one of my favourite fucks. After you, of course, sweetest.”

Diana had been very quiet, but now she spoke.

“I have an idea,” she said. “What’s more, I think we could end up with something more interesting than the Howard and Somerton tarts before young Alex got to work on them.” The others were ready to listen – but Diana chose to mystify the men, taking only her daughter with her “because we may need someone who can operate the Lion.” She also took a large tub of extra-strong glue, kept precisely for such an event.

Just after dawn the next day Diana unveiled her work – literally unveiled, for the remains of Chrissie Somerton and Val Howard had been covered by a large, heavy tarpaulin.

Charles, Albert and Sam Chedzoy stared as the two women pulled off the tarpaulin. The figure revealed had the slim torso of PC Christabel Somerton. Her one surviving leg had been angled so as to support her whole body. In place of the missing tit one of Valerie Howard’s lost hands stuck out from her chest, and in place of her lost head, one of Valerie’s rather plump legs was attached at the upper thigh to Christabel’s neck, bent somewhat at the knee and angled sideways. The resulting grotesque did not retain the delicate, virginal beauty of Chrissie, but, Charles concluded, it was eye-catching and original. It would prove a crowd-puller without doubt.

Around the new hybrid’s one leg lay the left-over pieces, but something was missing. Neither Chrissie’s nor Valerie’s head was present.

“Where are their heads?” Charles asked. Fiona giggled.

“Daddy, if you look in the main dining-room on the mantelpiece, you’ll find the answer,” she said.

“Well, I think that’s quite successful – a remarkable work of art and undoubtedly commercial,” he said.

“And you can still fuck her in two places!” Albert added.

“Oh, Albert dear, you are just a trifle conventional,” Fiona complained. “Why not fuck her belly button?”

After a brief debate about what to do with the extra bits, Diana instructed Chedzoy to take Chrissie’s other leg and stick it in the newly-dug flower patch near Lily’s kiosk with the foot sticking up, as if a body was buried there. They were all agreed this would intrigue the tourists. The remaining bits – Chrissie’s tit and most of Valerie – were taken to a garden centre just outside Happisford, which sold them as novelty decorations for rock gardens.

On the way back from the unveiling, Fiona approached her father with a look he knew meant some difficult question or request was coming.

“Daddy,” she began, “is that thing conscious? Are the heads conscious? What about the leftovers?”

“We can’t really be sure, Fie,” he replied, “but I gather they still responded to the Lion when you and Diana needed to change their posture a bit. It’ll be interesting to see whether the new thing – Valabel, we could call her – responds when we fuck her. My guess is she will. Some scientists have argued that the brain is more of a receptor for consciousness than its generator. That helps to explain why, after our young ladies’ brains undoubtedly become solid marble, sandstone, jet or copper, on revival they can still show signs of recognising us or their former friends and relatives, and can still show emotions in keeping with their characters when human.”

“Fantastic! So there’ll be some bit of that schoolgirl sitting in a rockery next to a garden gnome still knowing it ought to be part of an eighteen-year-old body?”

“Very likely.”

“The Lion fixes their consciousness to their body parts. Otherwise it would dissipate.”

“Very likely, dear.”

“By the way, daddy – it will respond when you fuck it. Mummy and I tried it out.”

That did indeed prove to be true. The two heads had been placed very neatly on the mantelpiece so they exactly balanced one another, their apparently sightless eyes staring out towards diners and visiting acquaintances. They too responded when revived and proved perfectly capable of a blow-job, as Albert and Charles soon found. Visitors complimented Charles on their beauty and the intricate detail.

The heads of PC Christabel Somerton and Prefect Valerie Howard did indeed know they had lost bodies, but could not remember how. The bodies vaguely knew they had lost something and had once been part of a whole, but a whole what, they did not know. The monster creation Valabel struggled with a mixture of memories from two very different young women.

Diana had instructed Chedzoy to simply stick the heads of the two old statues back on again, but he had got them the wrong way round. The puritan girl’s head graced the body of the French courtesan and vice versa. The puritan girl found herself struggling with a mass of graphic memories of a most unpleasant and immoral sort. She’d known such things existed and had been forced over the years by a succession of Masters and Masons, but those were people doing things to her. Now these memories seemed to be hers, of her dissolute behaviour. The courtesan, meanwhile, was struggling with an awkward, strict conscience and elements of a particularly inconvenient religious heresy.

In due course the family took Demetria to see what had happened to her good friend and first would-be rescuer Chrissie. Demetria wanted to cry. She despaired. But a new challenge to the evil power of the Masons was even then building up.

Fiona, meanwhile, had taken to banning Albert from her bed once a week, citing a need to get some rest as the baby took up much of her energies. Albert did not really believe this explanation – she did not seem lacking in energy on the other six nights – but did not feel he was in a position to argue the point.

Those nights, Fiona took the Lion to bed with her, cradling it with intense love. She persuaded herself that magnetic attraction worked both ways – that she had been chosen to be the first woman who could make the Lion work, its instrument of choice. One night she woke with a feeling of intense joy, but the Lion was not in her arms. It was between the tops of her thighs.


To Be Continued…. The End of The Beginning

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