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In some newspapers today a scoop has hit the headlines that MI6 tried to grab the Holy Grail in 1936. They did not then appreciate its significance, born from technological advances since that date.

It has amazing resonance with my fictional short story The Second Coming published last year.


The story is one of many in the short story anthology 'Killing Mum and Other Crime Short Stories' by Keith Wright available on Kindle, Kobo, and in print at Amazon Books.


Derek Blundell shivered as he threw open the curtains in the living room. He squinted as the morning sun glared in. Why was it so damned cold? Incongruously dressed in a robe and slippers, the man in his sixties had the bearing of someone who should be dressed in a three-piece tweed suit and a Trilby hat with a feather.

Derek always allowed himself a couple of seconds to take in and appreciate the view of Glastonbury Tor from the window and enjoy the shimmering sparkle cast upon the stream by the rising sun. The stream was a tributary from the Chalice Well that rolled past the end of his garden. It was imbued with a red hue caused by iron silt. It was a magnificent sight. Of course, Glastonbury, the Tor, and the stream were steeped in Arthurian myth. Derek couldn't know that another legend, far older and more significant than that, was to play a sinister part in the coming days. Derek didn't go in for all the supposed history attached to the area. It was all superstition and poppycock as far as he was concerned. It was something to draw the tourists in. And it worked; of that, there was no doubt.

Glastonbury was seen as a new-age spiritual haven, and it seemed anyone who was that way inclined had visited or set down roots in the area. In truth, it annoyed Derek because he wanted it all to himself and Millicent too. Imagine if they didn't have the crowds in the summer and the meager population of residents could share the spoils and beauty all to themselves. Wouldn't that be great?

'The bleeders!' Derek snarled as he walked into the kitchen. The cause of the chill became apparent as he saw the broken window. A small hole in the glass had seemingly facilitated someone to open the leaden window and invade his home. It must have happened overnight. Without thinking, he immediately closed the window to try to stop the cold air from flooding through. His next thought was the precious bowl on the mantlepiece. Sure enough, it had gone.


It didn't register with Derek how odd it was that nothing else appeared to have been taken. He winced at the thought of telling Millicent. Anything like this is unsettling enough for anyone, but Milicent was of such a timid disposition that it would upset her for days if not weeks. He would wake her first before calling the police. He sighed as he trudged up the winding stairs with a tray of tea and toast.


Detective Constable Steven Hunter Talladice had always been a little bit special, at least within his own little world. Much of it came from his name. No one in the school, the village, or the city was called Hunter—just him. So everyone knew him. It was a simple truth. He had just transferred to Avon and Somerset Police from Norfolk Constabulary on the promise of promotion within six months. He said he would prefer to wait until a vacancy for a Detective Sergeant came up, and that was how he ended up in the historic town of Glastonbury. The local DS was due to retire in a couple of months, so Steven would be able to slot in nicely. Upping sticks and moving his life to another part of the country was a bold move for a man in his early forties, but he figured he still had another fifteen or twenty years of detective work in him. Anyway, paradoxically, his first week had only been remarkable because it was so uneventful. It was nowhere near as busy as his old patch, so it took some readjusting. It was early days, and maybe things would heat up, given a bit of time. It wasn't peak season so perhaps it was not surprising.

It was out of boredom that he had volunteered to drive out to the report of a dwelling house burglary near The Chalice Well and, after going down two dead-ends, finally found the old stone building. It must have been an outbuilding to the adjacent farm in decades past, and now it was the home of Derek and Millicent Blundell.

Millicent had made the nice policeman a lovely cup of tea, complete in a china teapot with delicate tea cups and saucers which were so fine Steven's hand shook involuntarily with trepidation as he lifted it to his lips. He couldn't get his finger through the handle, so he had to pinch it between his forefinger and thumb, but he could feel it slightly slipping each time he raised it for a sip. It reminded him of his first sergeant's old saying: 'There's many a slip twixt cup and lip.' Now it all made sense.

Millicent didn't say too much and seemed reserved. DC Talladice couldn't work out whether she was crying or had a cold. She had a tissue held to her nose for most of the time he was there, and she was constantly sniffling. He guessed it was a reaction to the burglary, it must have been upsetting, but he didn't pursue it in conversation.

'So what time did you go to bed, Mr Blundell?' Steven asked, holding pen to notebook.

'Same time as always; eleven o'clock, but it takes me a while to settle, so it must have happened, I would say, between midnight and six o'clock this morning when I discovered it. I still can't believe neither of us heard the glass smashing.'

'I couldn't figure out what had been stolen when I read the report. A bowl? Am I right?' Steven asked. 'Seemed a little strange to me. What am I missing?'

Derek shrugged out a laugh. 'There's a story behind it.'

Steven smiled politely. 'Okay, interesting; what's the story, Mr Blundell?'

'Our dog dug it up near the stream at the bottom of the garden. It'd be about six months ago, eight months ago, something like that, wouldn't it, Milly?'

'Yes. Don't let your tea get cold, Derek.'

'You've got a dog?' Steven asked, craning his neck towards the kitchen.

'Not now. No, he's left us, I'm afraid. He was fifteen, so he had a good innings did old Brandy.'


'That was his fur colour, a lovely warm shade of brandy. Never lost its sheen, did he, Milly?'

'No. Never lost it. Bless him.'

'And the bowl?' Steven asked.

'Yes, sorry, the bowl, was it a bowl? It looked like a bowl. A small, funny-shaped thing it was. Beautiful though. But crude at the same time. Milly wanted to clean it, didn’t you love?’

‘Yes, it looked so dingy, but you don't know what's right for doing wrong.’

‘Never clean them.' Derek said. 'We've all seen Antiques Roadshow, Haven't we? And that's what they say. I mean, we had to wipe the mud off it, you know, but not use any chemicals on it. No, never.’

‘What was it made of, Mr Blundell?’

‘Bronze, I would say, with some jewels just below the rim, all the way around. I say jewels; they might have been paste or semi-precious for all I know.' Derek rubbed at his chin, bristles of stubble scratching his palm.

'And am I right in thinking that is the only thing that has been taken?' Steven asked.

'Yes. We've had a good look around, haven't we, Milly? They've not even been anywhere else in the house. It's like they just came for the bowl and that was it.'

'Yes.' Milly sniffed out her agreement.

'And there's nothing else. As I say, what I find most remarkable is that it doesn't look like they've even looked for anything else, and nothing's been touched.'

'So, either they were disturbed by someone, or they knew it was here, and that's what they were after?' DC Talladice was scribbling on his pad as he spoke.

'I don't know, officer. Maybe. I suppose so. It must have been, now you say it like that, but nobody has seen it. Nobody would know it was here—the bowl, I mean. Nobody tends to come up here. We don't reckon to neighbour much; we don't have close neighbours to neighbour with, do we, Milly?'

'No, we don't reckon to neighbour.'

'Strange that they went straight for it, then.' Steven mused.

'Isn't it? It's a bloody mystery, is what it is.' Derek shifted in his seat. The small windows in the cottage conspired with the fast-moving black clouds to wipe darkness across the living room.

Millicent lowered her tissue sufficiently to speak. 'There was that man. He valued it, Derek, don't forget.'

'Sorry, what was that?' Steven asked.

'He doesn't need to know all that detail, Milly, love.'

'Try me.' Steven said.

'About two weeks ago, I took the bowl into town to be valued. That's all.'

'That is interesting. So there is someone who knew it was here. Where did you take it, Mr Blundell?' This was getting interesting, and the conversation shifted from perfunctory to focusing on this new lead.

'It was just out of curiosity, you know. I wondered if there was anything to it. I didn't know if it was worth a fortune or bugger all.'

'So where was that? Where did you take it?'

'Oh, yes, Dyers Second Hand Goods at the edge of town. Do you know it?'

'No, I'm new to the area.'

'Okay, well, you probably don't then. It's more a second-hand shop than an antique place. They sell all sorts. I don't know what possessed me to take it there. I must have got a bee in my bonnet about it. I probably took it there because it was on the edge of town. I don't like everyone knowing my business, you know. I reckon he tried to diddle us anyway.'

'How come?' Steve sat forward on the flowery settee cover as the clouds passed, allowing a warmer glow through the windows.

'I didn't like the look of him, in any case, but I could tell he was impressed by it. Yet the stingy bugger only offered two hundred pounds for it, didn't he, Millicent?'

'Yes. Two hundred, that's right. That's what the chap offered.'

'Oh, he offered to buy it, did he?' Steven asked.

'Yeah, he was really keen. I thought so, anyway. Did you think he was keen, Millicent, that fella in the shop?'

'Very much so. Keen as mustard he was.'

'But you weren't keen on selling?' Steve asked.

'No, I didn't want to sell it. He must have got the wrong end of the stick. It was just a valuation; that was all I wanted. He got quite insistent. Then he offered me three hundred pounds. When I turned to go, he got quite nasty with me. Just chuntering, I don't know what he said, but he had the hump, I knew that.'

'And that was Dyers, was it?'

'Yes. Reg Dyer, his name is. I wouldn't trust him as far as I could throw him, to be honest. But other than that, nobody even knew the thing was here. It was just something we liked. We did like it, though, didn't we, Milly? There was something about it.'

'Oh, yes, we liked it. It gave off a sort of warmth. I don't know. It was just a lovely thing somehow, and it reminded us of our Brandy, I suppose. That must be it.'

'Okay, well, leave it with me.' DC Talladice said. 'That's been helpful. I will make some discreet enquiries with Mr Dyer. Scenes of Crime will call later to fingerprint the window and where the perpetrators might have been. Here's my card.'

'I hope you can get it back for us.' Derek said.

'I hope so too. I'll do my best.


DC Talladice had set the sting operation up perfectly. What could go wrong? Neither he nor the officers secreted outside the second-hand shop were aware that two pairs of eyes were focused on them. The watchers were being watched.

The bell chimed as Detective Constable Steven Hunter Talladice entered the fusty second-hand shop. It was like travelling back in time. Clocks ticking, an old fire blazing, and a crackly radio doing its best on the small counter at the far end. It was so old that Steven expected 1940s dance band music to be playing rather than Radio 2. Dust particles hovered in the air, accentuated by strips of sunlight competing with smears in the shop window. It was dark inside, and cool air followed customers around the glass cabinets full of trinkets and ornaments. Most of the items were fancy-looking but had no substance to them. They were copies or made cheaply, trying to be something they weren't. Other items, such as old irons, hoovers, radios, etc. were the product of house clearances in years gone past, and while the price tag was cheap there was a question mark over their functionality because of the age of the things.

DC Talladice had the look. Nicely cut suit. Tailor-made, of course, and a dark blue Crombie overcoat complete with protruding pocket handkerchief.

'Good morning, sir.' The officer oozed confidence as he addressed the man behind the counter.

'Morning.' The grizzled old guy looked the detective up and down with a sneer. Checking him out. The shopkeeper was overweight, balding, and more pungent than the hundred-year-old stuffed cat on the shelf beside him. He wore a tea-stained waistcoat with a pocket watch chain exposed.

'I'm visiting from London.' Steven said. 'I deal in antiques. I hope you don't mind me having a look around your, um, charming shop, Mr?'

'Mr Dyer. The name's above the door, squire.'

Steven walked towards him with hand outstretched, and the two shook hands. 'Gerald Seymour, antiquarian and specialist dealer in bronze and spelter goods.'

'Pleased to meet you.'

'I always announce I'm in the trade. I feel sneaky if I don't come clean.'

'Appreciate it. What are you looking for exactly? I might be able to save you a bit of time.'

'God knows. I rarely know myself until I see it. Something unusual. Old. Quality. The usual, you know.'

'I know what you mean. So are you an expert, then? Is that what you said?' Reg was trying to get a handle on the guy and figure out how much he could swindle out of him. Unfortunately, the gentleman looked like he knew what he was talking about.

'Expert? No, well, yes, I suppose so, modesty forbids, but I suppose I am at least with regards to bronze goods, but not in general antiques, you understand. No disrespect Mr Dyer but I tend to deal in rather high-end markets, and I see yours is more, um – a functional general store, a second-hand store if you will.'

'It is, you're right. We don't stand on ceremony here. We do get the occasional nice piece in, don't get me wrong, but generally speaking, it tends to be mid-century stuff and 1970s gear. Each to their own, like.'

'Do you know if there are antique shops nearby that might have the sort of thing I'm looking for?'

'Not round here, mate. You're better off going into town. There's a few there. By all means, look around the shop, though, and you just might find the odd gem.'

'Thank you.'

Steven mooched around the store, but it was clear that Reg's description was accurate, and more importantly, there was no sign of a bronze dish with jewels adorning it.

'Well, I shall bid you farewell. Thank you for accommodating me.' Steven said after ten minutes of shuffling around.

'Thanks for dropping by.'

DC Talladice headed towards the door slowly. He wanted the idea to come from smelly Reg, but if he didn't break before he got out the door, only then would he ask the shop owner the direct question. As Steven's hand touched the doorknob, Reg spoke up, stopping the grinning detective in his tracks.

'Scuse me, Mr Gerald, sir.'

'Yes?' He turned swiftly on his heels.

'There might be something for you to look at. It's in the back, like.'

'Oh yes, what's that?'

'It's a rare piece, I reckon. It's got precious jewels in it. Looks really old, and I'm talking centuries old, and it's just come in the shop.'

'Interesting. By all means, bring it out. I'm happy to cast an eye over it. No promises, mind.'

'No, of course not. No promises. Hangfire a minute, then.'

Reg disappeared for a couple of minutes, and Steve knew he wasn't far away because he could hear him puffing and panting in the next room. Reg reappeared with a small bowl covered with a duster that smelled of wax, Pledge, or some cleaning chemical. Reg whipped off the duster dramatically for the big reveal.

'There you go. What about that, then?' Reg placed the item on the counter as if it were the King's crown. If only he'd known it was more precious than that.

Steven was immediately convinced that Blundell's stolen pot was now in his hands. It was only the size of a teacup, maybe marginally bigger than that, and he had expected something larger.

‘That is interesting. Goodness.’

‘I knew it. I’ve not had a chance to clean it yet; sparkle it up. The punter’s like shiny, but you know that, of course.’

'You mustn’t clean it. This is quite extraordinary; it is remarkable.’

‘I bloody knew it.’ Reg’s eyes gleamed, and he subconsciously rubbed his hands together in anticipation.

‘This is more like it. May I look at it in the light?' DC Talladice went towards the window carrying the precious bowl, followed by the smaller portlier, Reginald Dyer, huffing behind him, coughing up phlegm, and swallowing it in one well-practiced cycle. He was worried that the man might have the same dubious morals as he and merely continue out of the door. DC Talladice only went to the window to signal to his colleagues waiting outside, and within three or four seconds, two uniformed police officers burst into the shop with a tinkle of the door chime.

'Mr Dyer, you are under arrest for the burglary of this bowl in Glastonbury, which took place overnight.' DC Talladice said.

'Oh, for Christ's sake. I knew you were bleeding dodgy as fuck.'


Detective Constable Talladice was thrilled he had recovered the precious property for the Blundell family. The officers had allowed Reg to lock his shop up before taking him to their police car to transport him back to the police station. Steven said he would be there shortly. The detective lit a cigarette as he stood outside the shop in the chilly air whilst being cloaked in the autumnal sun. The clouds had parted, which seemed to afford the sun's beams to hone in on him. He squinted, and it was as he became accustomed to the bright light that he noticed the two men purposefully walking towards him. Both were dressed in similar attire to him - smart suits and overcoats, and they looked official. The man with the greying hair smiled warmly and offered his hand to the detective.

'Detective Constable Talladice, I presume?'

'Yes, sorry, do I know you?' He put a hand above his eyes to shield the glare and shook the man's hand.

'No, you do not, but we know you. I am Chief Superintendent Simmons on attachment with MI5, and this is Aubrey Sutton, Commander at MI5.' The two men showed their identification to a puzzled DC Talladice.

They exchanged 'pleased to meet you's,' but it did nothing to dampen down the raging fluttering in the Constable's stomach. Something was very much 'up.'

'I rather fancy a coffee. How about you, Steven?' Mr Simmons said with a smile and a whisper of condescension.

'I would love to, but we've just arrested this guy -'

'I said I would love to go for a coffee; how about you?' The Chief Superintendent repeated himself tersely and louder, smile now gone, an air of menace fleetingly present.

'Oh, yes, I see what you mean, sure. I mean, if you insist. There's a Cafe Nero across the square.'

'We do rather - insist.' Commander Sutton said. He was softer-spoken, perhaps more assured than his colleague, but his quiet nature made him appear even more sinister.

'Have I done something wrong?' Steven asked, becoming increasingly concerned.

The smile returned. 'No, not at all. Relax, you're a hero, but you don't know it yet. However, we do need to have a chat to explain everything.'

The three men took a little while to sort themselves out once they had selected a table by the bay window, with coats and bejeweled bowl to offload. DC Talladice tentatively handed the bowl to Commander Sutton at his insistence.

'I hope you forgive us for taking you hostage like this.' Mr Simmonds said.

'It's fine; there is obviously something going on that I don't know about. What is it, the bowl?'

'It is, of course, the bowl, Steven. That bowl is a matter of national security, and we are hereby seizing it. Just for clarity and to avoid any confusion, you know.'

'You can't do that, sir. It's evidence in a burglary; which, granted, will probably end up as handling stolen goods, but I'm not sure which it will be yet. I need to book it in, though, and it could be worth quite a bit. I think it's quite a valuable item.'

'I'm afraid that's all gone now, Sergeant. That's off.'

'What do you mean, off? You can't do that, sir.'

'We not only can but we must, I'm afraid. It's nothing personal, you understand. I have to pull rank; sorry about that.' He grinned.

Talladice swallowed hard. 'Okay. What is going on here? I need to know why, sir.'

'All you need to know is that the shopkeeper will be released, and the former owners of this bowl will be disappointed when you explain that the bowl had gone when you made your enquiries. You will do your best to find it, but you never will.'

'So you want me to lie?'

'Yes, we do. Sorry, had I not made that clear? That is the general idea. A big fat lie, DC Talladice. Imagine it's your beloved wife when you return from that nightclub you visit. It will just roll off the tongue.'

'Here, hold on a minute; that's not on, sir. That's a bit of a low blow. And what if I don't?'

'You will.' Simmons smiled.

'Are you sure about that? I don't like being side-swiped like this, with respect, sir.' Talladice said.

'I know, but trust me, your little enquiry pails into a minuscule particle in the dust of insignificance compared to the importance of this bowl.'

'I get it. It's no problem, but if I am going to lie, it would be courteous of you to at least give me an explanation as to why it is necessary to do so. And I will need some sort of receipt.'

'If we tell you that, we will have to kill you.' The Commander laughed cheerily.

'I'll take my chances; we're not in a James Bond movie. You're not licensed to kill. Come on, out of professional courtesy, if nothing else.'

'If you insist. You're right; by the way, I'm not licensed to kill. It seems a shame, but so be it. Commander Sutton will explain. After all, he is the one with the license.' Mr Simmons smiled strangely.

Commander Sutton took his cue. 'I want to tell you a story, Steven. May I call you Steven?'

'Yes, sure. Steve, Steven.'

'It's a story as old as time.'

'Okay. Intriguing. Anyway, how do you know what nightclub I go to? Have you been following me?'

'Let the Commander explain, Steven; there's a good chap. Stay focused.'

Commander Sutton continued. 'It involves a gentleman by the name of Jesus. Are you familiar with the name?'

'Funnily enough, I have heard of him.' Talladice said, playing along.

'This lovely, priceless bowl, this ancient relic, was brought to these sceptered isles by one Joseph of Arimathea in around 63AD or thereabouts.'

'You're kidding me?' Steven said – unconvinced.

'I kid you not, Steven.' He smirked before continuing his explanation. 'You see, Joseph of Arimathea was Jesus' great uncle; you may or may not be aware.'

'I didn't know that.'

'Well, he was. He came to Britain twice and traded in tin; he came once with the younger Jesus, and again years after his crucifixion as an old man. Joseph died here and is buried at St Joseph's Chapel beneath the Chapel Of Our Lady in Glastonbury.'

'This is getting surreal. Surely that is just tourism stuff, isn't it? Are you sure this is right, sir?'

'Be patient, Mr Talladice. You wanted to know the story, didn't you?'

'Sorry, yes. This is just mind-blowing.' Steve sipped at his now lukewarm coffee.

'Isn't it? Anyway, rewind to the crucifixion. Joseph of Arimathea was granted permission by Pilate to bury Jesus' body, and he did so in a cave he had marked for his own tomb. We know what happened next, of course – Easter and all that malarky. Notably, the Grail, or Cruet, which had been used at the Last Supper, was kept by Joseph of Arimathea. Forgive me, but the wine in the Grail signified the blood of Christ at the Last Supper. Do you recall?'

'That much I do know.'

'This symbolism started the Holy Mass, which survives today, of course. I think I've explained, that Joseph was allowed by Pontious Pilate to be present at the crucifixion and was told to dispose of the body. As Jesus died, Joseph held the Grail up and caught two drops of blood, from the spear wound, in the Grail to complete the circle of symbolism. Only this time, it was not red wine; it was the real blood of Christ.'

DC Talladice puffed out his cheeks. 'It's an amazing story, sir, but it does sound a bit like – what would you call it? Um, bollocks – yes, it sounds like a load of bollocks, doesn't it?'

'It does. But it's not. Legend has it that Joseph of Arimathea and his followers had the Grail when they came to Britain in 63 AD. Joseph died and was buried here, as I've already explained. His tomb is still in the church in the centre of Glastonbury. He was hidden in plain sight. But -' Sutton raised a finger. 'But what happened to the Grail?'

DC Talladice shrugged.

'It was hidden. Some say it was buried with Joseph, others say it was buried at the foot of Wearyall Hill in Glastonbury, and so the spring below it was then called 'Chalice Well,' when the water turned red to signify the blood of Christ. It was deemed a miracle. It was named the Chalice Well, after the Grail or Holy Chalice, do you see?’

'The water is red; that much is true. I’ve seen it with my own eyes.' DC Talladice said.

'I know. Weird, huh?' Sutton said.

'Not really. It is just copper deposits in the stream. It's where the Blundells live, as you know, I guess. Alright, I can see what is coming here, bearing in mind the bowl was dug up at the side of the stream in their garden. You're saying this is the Grail, this bowl?' Talladice wasn't wholly convinced.

'It seems outlandish, doesn't it? But everything and everyone has to be somewhere at a given time and place. You are welcome to Google all of this, you will see what I mean. It's just that people are ignorant of it. Copper deposits in the stream? Yes, that would work as an explanation. Indeed. So to cut a very long story short, DC Talladice. We believe that we now have possession of the Grail and we don't intend to lose it again.'

'Fine. It might all be true, sir, for all I know, but what is so important about it? It's just an artifact and a dodgy one, in my view. Let's face it there is no authenticity certificate with it is there? It's all myth and legend. What has that to do with national security or the government? I get it is rare and of worldwide religious significance. I get it.'

The two senior officers glanced at each other.

Commander Sutton continued. 'National security, you ask? Let me repeat an important aspect of the story for you, Steven. It might have passed you by. Joseph of Arimathea caught two drops of Jesus' real blood in the Grail as they fell from the cross.'

'I know. I heard.'

'Ever heard of Dolly the Sheep?' Sutton asked.

'Dolly the Sheep?' Talladice looked puzzled for a second until the realisation hit him. 'Um. Oh my God! The first animal to be DNA cloned in the 1990s.'

'Aha, the penny drops. 1996 to be precise.'

'So, if you have the blood of Christ in that bowl, you can use the Michrochondrial DNA process to extract it and – shit. The Second Coming.'

'By George, I think he's got it!' Sutton said. 'Indeed.'

'This is fucking mind-blowing!' Steven stood up and walked up and down the coffee house, hand to his forehead.

Simmons grabbed his arm. 'Sit down, Steven, there's a good chap. You're making a bit of a scene.'

Steven sat and, taking in a huge gulp of air, rapidly blew it out again. 'This is madness.'

Sutton patted Steven's suit sleeve. 'Isn't it just. And when history is written, your name will appear as the man to get his hands on it.'

'Oh, my God.'

'Now, perhaps, you see the importance of us seizing it. If blood is inside that bowl, even if it is 2000 years old, we have the technology to clone from it.'

Chief Superintendent Simmons joined in with the revelation. 'Some say that Jesus' second coming would be two thousand years after the crucifixion, and it just so happens that this is the time, slightly over two thousand years later, that we discover how to extract DNA and clone human beings.'

'And recover the Holy Grail.' Talladice said.

'As it turns out, yes. Recover the holy grail. It all fits. God's will, you might say. So. There you have it. Happy now?'

'Yes, I mean, wow. Just wow. What the hell?' Steven couldn't stop shaking his head. He was white and getting paler as the enormity seeped into his bones.

Sutton underlined the situation on a nationalistic framework. 'The country that can produce the second coming of Jesus Christ will dominate the world for centuries to come. And thanks to you, that country is here, in the United Kingdom. As God intended.' He grinned.

'As God intended, if the legend is true.' Steven said.

'We say it is and that we are merely the instruments of God. Everything has come together simultaneously, Steven and destiny is about to be completed.'

'And about time.' Simmonds said.

Talladice was still struggling with the concept. 'How do we know the government won't just put the bowl in secure storage and stop it from happening?'

'We don't do we? But it seems unlikely, given the likely benefits. I suppose a lot depends on the success of the cloning.'

'Can I get another coffee, please?'

'Yes, of course. Take as long as you want.' Mr Simmons smiled.


Detective Constable Steven Hunter Talladice was still bemused as he shook the hands of the two mystery men outside Cafe Nero. He had put the receipt in his left trouser pocket and stumbled along the pavement, already having decided he would immediately find another coffee shop to let this sink in. He needed a cigarette too. He noticed there were three missed calls on his mobile phone, but he decided to ignore them.

The two well-dressed gentlemen watched from the cafe doorway as the Detective Constable bowed his neck to allow his cigarette tip to meet the flame of a lighter before crossing the road.

The curious thing about the collision was the lack of screeching brakes. Usually, screeching brakes are the audible sign of the last couple of seconds of realisation by the driver. In this instance, no such realisation occurred at the last minute. It had been there from the get-go as soon as he gunned the accelerator towards the detective intent on smiting him down.

Chief Superintendent Simmons and Commander Sutton strolled over to the body in the middle of the road. They needed to be certain. Yes, he was dead. Sutton surreptitiously reached into DC Talladice's pocket and removed the receipt.

'Shame, he seemed a decent enough sort.' Commander Sutton said.

'Yes, still, needs must.' Simmons said matter-of-factly. National security issues of such importance are psychotic by nature. Nothing gets in the way of the completion of the mission. Nothing, and sadly for DC Talladice, nobody either. It is completely ruthless, as it should be.

As the two strangers turned and walked away, Commander Sutton spoke to his colleague as if trying to justify the murder. 'In fairness, he did agree that if we told him, we would have to kill him.'

'Yes, strange choice. Maybe he thought we were kidding. Sometimes ignorance is bliss.'

Commander Sutton seemed deep in thought. 'Are you ready for what might happen once we hand it over?'

'I'm ready. I like to think we will be trusted, but I wouldn't bank on it fully. I'm not that naive.'

'No. Me neither.'

'They trusted us to come for Talladice.'

'Maybe there will be a second coming – for us!'

Sutton laughed. 'Maybe.'

@Copyright Keith Wright 2023.

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