23 May 2014


Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy Birthday dear

Gertrude glared through her one remaining eye at her birthday party guests, arranged around her birthday party table, singing her birthday song, friends and family, the people who had systematically deceived her for sixteen years, nine months, twenty seven days, five hours and thirty four minutes.

Happy birthday to you!

Just over a couple of months previously Gertrude had discovered under highly dramatic circumstances that she, Gertrude Mateson, three times winner of the North America Young Scientist of the Year award and Penn State University’s youngest ever PhD graduate, was a witch. Her mother, who she still missed so terribly, had been a witch. Her two Aunts who tried so hard to compensate for her loss were witches. Her father was a werewolf, Kevin her boyfriend (potentially) was a werewolf, and the other guests present were variously ghouls, witches or ‘wolves. (Apparently no one bothered with the ‘were’ bit anymore.)

For she’s a jolly good fellow

What made things even worse was that her witch powers could at best only be described as vestigial and weeks of probing, prodding, testing, measuring, training and practising at the DARPA funded research institute next to the local Marine Corp base, Camp Wideawake, had had no discernible impact on her puny powers. The best spell she had been able to manage was a pathetic blast of air barely able to move a single eyelash a few millimetres.

For she’s a jolly good fellow

And now it was time for the final humiliation. Four days previously Kevin (who had deliciously stepped up his campaign of wooing her since the revelation of his deception) had let slip that it was traditional for witches to blow out their birthday party cake candles with a thaumaturgic process, a spell. And Gertrude was barely able to magically make an eyelash flutter.

For she’s a jolly good f e-l-l - -o - - w

Gertrude had been thrown into a paroxysm of research and experimentation. Locking herself away in her lab at the back of the garage she had tried everything she could think of to enhance the effectiveness of her spell-casting and there had been some success. She had increased the effectiveness of her atmospheric dynamics spell by fully fifteen percent and was now able move the eyelash (which after careful trimming weighed precisely 0.20 milligrams) just over an entire centimetre – nearly half an inch.

And so say all of us!

But it was not enough. Then just yesterday she had an idea; why couldn't she cast two or more spells simultaneously? Configuring them in parallel or series, creating thaumaturgic constructs, spell complexes, spell modules, the implications were stunning. She had mentioned her idea to Aunt Mildred who had initially laughed, explaining that would only be possible if you could think about more than one thing simultaneously. Then, remembering who she was talking too, had fervently advised her niece to seek the advice of Commander Davidson USN, the neurosurgeon and witch who had saved her life after the failed kidnapping attempt that had cost Gertrude her left eye and a chunk of tongue. The commander had taken on the role of Gertrude’s mentor and the two had become firm friends. But there had been no time for a consultation and Gertrude had simply doubled down on her efforts in the lab, working through the night.


The Birthday party cake, the work of months by her two aunts and as usual the quintessence of culinary virtuosity, appeared magically in front of her, first floating above the dining table as the guests to either side of her cleared a space, then gracefully descending onto the dazzling white linen table cloth that had been one of her mother’s pride and joys. Leaning forward her father and Kevin lit the dread candles. What was it with marines and brass, petrol filled lighters anyway? Gertrude wrinkled her nose in distaste at the fumes.


By 02.00 hours she had established proof of concept and was able to run ten spells as a single module. The spells were linked in series, the output from one feeding into the next, incrementally accelerating the air passing through the thaumaturgic construct. Now Gertrude was able blow the eyelash clean off her lab bench. By 02.30 hours Gertrude had found the errant eyelash and securing it in its specimen jar had been able to move on to the test candle.


The birthday party guests happily continued the countdown to her humiliation, but she would show them! By 03.14 hours she had been achieving an extinguished candle success rate of better than 90% and by 03.35 hours she had been achieving that with five candles and by 04.06 hours with the required seventeen. Finally at nine minutes to five in the morning the seventeen test candles burnt themselves out, the final testing never completed as Gertrude slept soundly on the floor of her lab.


Gertrude focused her mind and assembled her thaumaturgic constructs, each consisting of ten spells arranged in series, forming a single module for a total of seventeen modules, one pointing at each candle. In a sudden instant of doubt Gertrude decided to play safe and added an extra module to each candle. Then deciding to go for broke Gertrude doubled up again so that every candle now had four modules arranged in series pointing at its flame. Still plagued by a lack of confidence Gertrude doubled and re-doubled again and again until each candle had one thousand and twenty four modules, arranged in series and comprising a total of ten thousand two hundred and forty individual spells pointing at it. Surely that would be enough to guarantee a 100% candle extinguished rate?


Aunt Mildred and ‘aunt’ Sophie exchanged worried glances with the other witches present as they sensed the sudden and spectacular rise in the level of thaumaturgic energy in the dining room. But Gertrude did not notice, she’d been struck by a sudden horrid thought: what if the increase in acceleration of air due to her spell systems was exponential rather than linear? Gertrude regretted not completing her testing program but she was out of time. The moment of truth had arrived. Gertrude unleashed her Magic.
There was a sound like a herd of cats all having their tales trod on simultaneously, a blinding flash and a loud almost deafening detonation as seventeen streams of air were all accelerated to transonic velocities, blasting the top of each candle out of existence and converging at a point several centimetres above cake top dead centre. For an instant that region attained an air pressure normally found in the depths of Jupiter’s atmosphere and the frictional forces of compression instantly heated the gas to a brilliant incandescence. The effects of the ensuing explosive decompression were spectacular.

Gertrude wiped cake from her single eye and stared in horror at the desolation of the birthday party table she had wrought. The cake was gone, in its place a cake crater, the rest of the cake seemingly uniformly distributed across the table, the party guests, Gertrude herself and the dining room walls, ceiling and carpet. Horrified, Gertrude realised that in amongst the cake debris were the shattered remains of her mom’s best crockery and the table cloth was irrevocably stained with multiple food spills, cake fillings, and drinks.

“Oh! Aunt Mildred, ‘aunt’ Zally, your beautiful cake! Momz best crockery! Duh tableclodf, Daddy I’m zo zorry!

Gertrude’s mutilated tongue was still causing slight problems with her diction.

“Don’t worry about the table cloth dear, I’ve got a spell for that”

“Yeah, and I’ve got a spell for the crockery!” Gertrude looked her thanks at her two aunts.

“But what about your wonderful cake?”

“I’ve got solution to that!” And so saying, Kevin reached out, scooped up a huge mound of cake, and crammed it into his mouth inevitably adding to the cake covering his face. Seeing this Gertrude stood, walked round to Kevin, then leant down and licked a particularly large cake splodgeon of his nose, Kevin responding in kind. Everybody laughed. Then everyone was scooping up cake and eating as fragments of crockery floated off the table and danced in the air as they jigsawed back together and reformed, before settling back down onto the table. The stains on the table cloth faded and shrank into non existence. In no time at all the dining room was restored.

Mr Mateson seeing his daughter and Kevin still licking each other despite a complete lack of cake on either decided to bring proceedings to a conclusion, tapping on his teacup with a spoon he announced:
“Well everybody that was a birthday party dinner to remember; now if you could all go through to the lounge we can continue the party there, and Gertrude, Kevin, stop that right now!”
Finally it was the part of the evening Gertrude had been really looking forward to: Birthday Presents!

To Be Continued.

27 October 2013


The house was full of new people. Some Gertrude already knew, the sheriff and his deputy -both regular customers at the Garden Centre- and Sergeant Wilson -dads old comrade in arms-. others Gertrude had heard about -the four hulking marines from Kevin's squad- and still others who were completely unknown to Gertrude (mostly very suited types with the letters 'FBI' almost visible on their foreheads). The introductions, conducted by Special agent Gwynn took a nearly half an hour, followed by a conference of the various team leaders in the dinning room and Gertrude found herself once again relegated to the role of coffee maker. While she worked her patent-pending coffee making system Gertrude reflected on the scale of resources dedicated to her protection. She was being assisted in the kitchen by her two aunts and Gertrude asked them for their opinion of the situation but it was the singular mystery of her new fashion accessory that dominated the conversation.

As Gertrude operated her coffee making system Aunt Mildred examined her new bracelet with a pocket microscope, 'aunt' Sophie watched curiously.

“Do you always carry a pocket microscope with you Gertrude?”

“Ob courze, whadt are pockedz for?”

“Gertrude, did the spider really spin this artefact – in this form?”

Gertrude looked at her wrist and gasped -the bracelet had undergone a startling transformation- what had been a multitude of hair-thin white strands had become a homogeneous band of brilliant cherry red plastic like material.

“Dadt iz aztonizhing. Here ledt me look” Coffee forgotten (as far as Gertrude was actually capable of forgetting anything) Gertrude looked through the microscope. What she saw was a mass of fibres -presumably the original spider silk- each strand of which was encased in a smooth translucent red plastic like material. The material was responsible for the colour change and had caused almost all the strands to adhere to one another.

“I think we should remove a sample and have it analysed. I could drop it of at the materials science lab at the Institute” (Aunt Mildred worked at the DARPA funded research facility adjacent to the marine base.)

The kitchen was suddenly filled with a cloud of coffee grounds and steam.

“Oops!” Aunt Sophie had been attempting to continue the task of making coffee and gotten it seriously wrong. Gertrude hit the machine's off switch and the three of them evacuated the kitchen.

“I'm so so sorry Gertrude I'll get everything clean before I go -do you think people will mind a nice cup of tea instead -I'll sort it”

“Hmmm, I suppoze, btudt be careful with the filtderz tdhey're very dterlicadte and pure goldt. I hadt dem zpeshally matde.”

“OK, I'll open the kitchen door to clear the steam and put the water on to boil.” Sophie returned to the kitchen whilst Gertrude and Aunt Mildred continued into the front room where they resumed their examination of the spider artefact.

“It's almost as if the spider tagged you”

“Why wouldt a zpider tag me?”

Sophie returned from the kitchen and joined them on the couch.

“For other spiders?” Gertrude thought for a moment."

“You mean Bob, Betdzy, Bill and Bezz.”


“Tdhe zpiderz in tdhe cornerz of my bedtroom.”

“You name the spiders in your bedroom?”

“Yez obcourze, don'dt you?” -Sophie was stumped for an answer.

“I'll make the tea. Can I borrow this to take orders?” Sophie picked up the small dry wipe board Aunt Mildred had given Gertrude in hospital as she departed for the dinning room.

“Zure, couldt you pick up my zewing box from tdhe side tdable in thdere ”

A few minutes later Sophie returned with the box and a dry wipe board full of  tea variations. Opening the box Gertrude withdraw a small pair of scissors and whilst Aunt Mildred held the magnifying glass for her she attempted to cut off one few remaining individual spider silk strands.

“Dtamn tdhats tduff, the zcissors are hardtly dtoing anytdhing, juzdt a zmall indtentdayzhon andt tdhatz a zingle ztdrandt”

“Seriously? Here let me have go,”  Gertrude held the glass as her Aunt attempted to sever one of the strands.

“Wow, you're not kidding, er, have you tried taking it off?”

Gertrude attempted to remove the bracelet from her wrist -without success.

“I'll be wearing itd forever!”

“Maybe you should bring yourself and the bracelet to the Institute tomorrow . I can get you a visitors pass. You'll be able to see the physics labs”


“No problem -I'll give you a call in the morning”


Tea arrived. Gertrude was no fan of the beverage but valiantly attempted a few sips and even managed not to pull a disgusted face. Sophie took the tray of beverages into the dining room then returned to  announce that the conference was over and that Gertrude's presence was required. Glad for the excuse to discontinue drinking the unpleasant brew Gertrude stood up and started towards the dining room.

“Aren't you going to finish your tea?” Feeling trapped Gertrude picked up the drink and walked to the other room.

There was standing room only but Kevin gallantly stood and offered his chair. Sitting down, Gertrude diffidently put her cup on Kevin's vacated place mat and looked round the room. To her surprise it was Steph' sitting at the head of the table and in obvious charge, she was flanked on her right by FBI special agent …...Gwinn -why was it so hard to remember the man's name?- and lieutenant  Budziszewski on her left.

Steph' spoke first and explained that as Naval Commander she was the ranking officer and had been asked to chair the meeting. Then she went on to explain that most of the meeting had involved the resolution of operational details, the chain of command and an analysis of the threat to Gertrude posed by the terrorist organisation that had targeted her. Gertrude felt an increasing sense of unreality, how had she gotten into this? It made no sense and what was with the spider bracelet, could it be part of a bizarre terrorist attack vector? Gertrude said as much, holding up her wrist, displaying the bracelet for all to see and relaying the results of her preliminary investigations. Steph was highly fascinated by the artefact and agreed that Gertrude should take herself to research institute first thing in the morning and that she would make all the necessary arrangements as soon as meeting was over. However the general feeling was that whilst fascinating the thing was harmless.
The rest of the meeting was taken up with rotas,  protocols, DO's and DON'Ts and all the many details that the subject of a joint FBI/USMC protection task force needed to know. Kevin's unit would be taking the first watch effective immediately and both Lieutenant  Budziszewski and Special Agent Gwinn would be in attendance and they would give further briefings to the follow on teams based on their observations.

15 September 2013


Kevin smiled.

“You're welcome”

“Hey rook adt tdhatd!”

“It's okay I've got it”

“No dondt herdt itd!!”

Gertrude held out the her hand and a large spider descended
onto her palm, where it seemed perfectly happy rubbing it's fore legs together.

“Rook, idtz waving atd me”

Gertrude waved back then examined the creature closely.

“Itdz a rycozidtay”


  “Zorry my dicdtion iz mezzed up -a worf zpidter”

“Like a klingon? – Just kidding, Greek, Lykos, wolf, I get it.”

“You Know Greek ‽”


“I don'dt speak any foreignd landguagez -helrl I cand hardtly speak americadn”

“What the, what's the spider doing now?”

Gertrude held up her hand for closer examination, the spider was running around her wrist, leaving a trail of silk behind it.

“Itdz makind me a brazeledt! I've never obzervedt behaviour rike tdhiz. I muzt recodt thiz phenomena. My camera iz in tdhe lab. Come on!”

Gertrude began walking slowly towards her lab. Carefully holding her wrist in front of her, anxious not to disturb the arthropod. Just as she reached the door the insect started descending from her wrist to the ground.

“Damn! Tdhatdz rearree annoying. Now I've gotd no evidtenz”

“You've got the bracelet.”

“Yez, but I've gotd nothindg to prove tdhe modte of fabricazhon”

Gertrude unlocked the door to her lab then unholstered her Glock. Imitating Steph' she systematically traversed the interior with her sights then entered, quickly stepping to one side and switching on the light.


Kevin watched the performance, a small smile playing on his lips.

“Slicing the pie”


“The technique you just used – it's called slicing the pie”

“Oh rigdth, Steph' showetd itd tdo me before”

Kevin entered the lab and closed the door behind him, then watched as Gertrude began her investigation. First of all she plugged her digital camera into one of her secondary computers and mounted it on a tripod then she took a web-cam and secured into a retort stand so that it pointed down. Turning to the secondary computer she set up both cameras so that they were recording video directly to the computers hard driving and automatically copying the file to her server. Then she took a large magnifying glass mounted on it's own adjustable stand and positioned it under the web-cam. Next she arranged two angle-poise lamps so that would illuminate whatever was under the magnifying glass. Finally she rummaged around until she found a microphone headset and positioned it on her head. Adjusting everything so that both cameras were clearly displaying her wrist on the screen Gertrude began recounting the events leading up to the bracelets creation then systematically described the strange artefacts construction and structure.

      The computer's speakers pinged and Mr Mateson's voice spoke.

Gertrude, Kevin are you there?”

Gertrude moved over to the desk microphone.

“Yez dadd”

“What are you doing? Never mind listen, we've got more guests”

“Okay I'll juzdt finizh egzaminding my ndew brazeledt and we'll come over”

“Kevin's bought you a new bracelet?”

“No a zpytder dtitd”

“Did you say spider?”


“Okay, er, right, er, whenever you're ready then”

Gertrude and Kevin both laughed at the confusion and puzzlement in her fathers voice.

“Are you two laughing at me?”

Kevin paled.

“No sir! Not at all sir!”

“Just get yourselves over here”

“Right away sir”

Gertrude made a point of switching of the microphone before speaking.

“You know Dtadtdy uzed tdo be a guntnery sergeandt."

“Yeah, my serge's a really good friend of his. They served together in the Gulf and Bosnia”

Gertrude became serious.

“I remember when Dtadtdy came home from Boznia, idt wazn'dt gootd. Come on, ledts gedt back”

13 September 2013


“Ob corze, come ryhdt in”

Kevin entered Gertrude's lab and looked around curiously. He turned to Steph and Gestured towards the dry-wipe-boards.

“Does it give you a headache when she does that?”

“More like a migraine”

Kevin noticed Gertrude's new eye-patch.

“Woah! You've got a new er.... eye-patch!”

“Dto you likte itd?”

“It's er very er, er, smiley!”

“I thdinkt itd maktes a sdtsadtment”

“Got that right”

“Your Aunt Mildred said to bring some stools over for the dinning room – there's not enough chairs for eight.”

Steph and Gertrude both stood and picked up a stool but Kevin insisted on carrying both.

“Guess I'm shotgun then”

Steph withdrew her Sig from her bag, packed up the leather scraps and tools into their box, placed the box in the bag and the bag on her shoulder finally picking up the Sig off the table.

“OK lets go”

“Yes Ma'am”

Gertrude reflected that having a friend who was your potential boyfriends CO could have its advantages.

As usual Gertrude's two aunt's cooking redefined the meaning of scrumptiousness and they had wildly underestimated the demand for seconds (in Kevin's case thirds). Desert was the stuff dreams are made of and Coffee as always, was left to Gertrude, the only person qualified to operate her custom designed and built coffee machine (patents pending). Happily weighing grinding, mixing, steaming and filtering Gertrude passed each completed cup of the beverage to Kevin for distribution to the guests. In between each cup Kevin loaded the dishwasher and sided the dining table redistributed the chairs and stools into the main room and generally made himself useful. Finally Gertrude made her own cup, black and slightly too hot to drink comfortably -just the way she liked it- and joined the others. Everyone had been impressed with Gertrude's new 'patch and the whole evening had been delightful. Time for the elephant in the room.

“Why dtoez diz, diz Al kaydta.. thing wantd me, whadt iz der inderezdt in me?”

The small talk around her ground to a halt.

Steph' broke the silence.

“Gertrude if you had access to all the necessary materials and equipment how long would it take you to build a nuclear device.

“I wudt never dto zuch a ding”

“Just bear with me”

“Odekay, what zordt of yeildt?”

“Like say the Hiroshima device”

“Zo dten tdo dtwendtdy kilotdonz”


“woodt I have compedtendt dtechndical zopportd?”


“dtwo tdto tdhree weekzz.... Budt I woodt never dto zuch a ding”

“What if they where holding your family, your friends, your father and threatening to kill them or torture them?”

“Ode godt”

“I'm sorry...I'm so sorry”

“Budt I'm nodt the onrry one hundtredtz, dtouzzandtz of people can tdo dthat”

Steph' looked at Agent Gwynn who nodded and in a calm, gentle voice began speaking.

“Yes you're absolutely right, but there's only one sixteen year old girl who can do that. They would probably try to brainwash you – indoctrinate you, bring you over to their cause. Cases of this happening are well documented, it's called the Stockholm Syndrome. If they could do that it would be a stunning propaganda coup. Not to mention a major headache for law enforcement and security.”

“Itdz horrible, I cantdt zdtandt idt”

Gertrude stood and addressed everyone in the room.

“I needt tdo be arrone. I'm going indto de gardten.”

At the door she turned

“I'll be Odekay”

and left the room.

Steph' looked meaningfully at Kevin. Kevin looked questioningly at Mr Mateson. Mr Mateson nodded and Kevin hesitatingly followed after Gertrude.

Gertrude was standing at the foot of the garden looking out into the woods. Hearing footsteps behind her she turned and found Kevin standing a few yards away.

“Are you okay?”

“No, I'm very notd odtekay. Why are you here? I zadt I wantdedt tdo be alone.

“I can't protect if you are alone”

Kevin walked closer, coming to halt almost directly in front of her. Gertrude looked down at ground.

“all I've ever wandted tdto dto iz learn..... everytdhing, you know life, tdhe eartdh, thde world and undterztantd.... andt I know tdhadt I can tdo tdhadt bedter dan anyone before me. Now deeze people deeze monzdters wandt tdo tdake tdhadt away from me, dey wandt tdo tdake de worltd from me antd I'm zcaretd and frighdtenetd antd I'm zo angry. I hadte dem zo much and I don'dt wandt tdo hatde anytdhing.”

Slowly, carefully Kevin placed his hands on her shoulders, then brushed her hair away from her face.

“They thought you would be easy pickings. They were wrong. You beat them, you took damage, but you beat them. They failed, you won and now we're here for you, they'll always fail because that's what they are -losers.”

Gertrude stepped back from Kevin and looked up into his face.


07 September 2013


Steph's heart went out to the young women in front of her. She knew that Gertrude's work was having a profound impact on mankind's understanding of nature's underlying laws and instead of being able to concentrate on that she was having contend with dreadful disfigurement and mortal danger. She resolved to do whatever it took to help her new friend.

“Come on lets look at these papers I've brought and chat about this inside -besides I haven't seen your lab yet I've heard lots about it.”


Gertrude pulled out her keys and unlocked the padlock securing the garages rear door. Just as she was about to open the door Steph stopped her and to Gertrude's astonishment pulled a SIG Sauer P226 automatic from her huge leather shoulder bag.

“You've godt doo be kidtding”

“Honey, how I wish I was”

Gertrude shrugged and un-holstered her own weapon.

“ Odekay”

Steph couldn't help but be impressed by Gertrude's ability to adapt to the situation and the professional way she handled both herself and the Glock. Gertrude turned to face out over the garden.

“Godt your zix”

Steph slowly opened the door of garage, peering into the gloom over the sights of her Sig. As she entered the garage Gertrude systematically swept the rear garden, at one point catching a glimpse of her father watching approvingly from the main upstairs window.
Gun at chest height , held in both hands, ready to fire aimed shots at any threat that emerged, Gertrude backed into her lab.

“zhall I sswidch on dtdhe lide?”

“Move away from the door first, don't ever let yourself get silhouetted in the frame”

“Dtun tdhis sduff before?”

“Sadly, yes”

Gertrude closed the door and fumbled for the light switch.

“Width Gewynn?”


“I feerrl rrlike I'm in a TdVee zhow”

Gertrude found the switch and the room was bathed in light.



Stephanie looked around her, the room she was in was like no other she had ever seen. One wall was all shelves. Each shelf stacked with books, specimens, electronic equipment, optical equipment, chemlab stuff. Under each shelf had been secured coffee jar lids and into each lid was screwed its jar and in each jar were screws, nuts, bolts electronic components, minerals, crystals. Then the other three walls were completely covered in a motley collection of Dry wipe boards. Each board was covered in symbols, formula, calculations, tables, diagrams. It was too much to take in and that was before you got to the work benches, where the action really was.


Gertrude walked in and went to the wall facing Steph, she picked a camera of one the benches, photographed two of the dry wipe boards adjacent to one another then wiped them clean, finally she picked up two dry wipe pens and wrote

DO YOU MIND IF WE CONTINUE the conversation like this, I
FIND THIS EASIER ALSO I CAN use words I still have

For some reason Gertrude wrote in block capitals with her left hand and lower-case with her right.

“That is...intimidating”


“Yes, obviously when you where in the hospital I read your medical records including those of the Cognitive Scientists and Educational Psychologists who assessed you when you were a kid.”


“I didn't really appreciate what that meant till just now. It's giving me headache just watching you”

SORry -
IT TOOK ME LONG TIME TO understand that most people only EVER THINK ABOUT ONE THING at a time.

“Was that a digital camera?”


“Do you mind if I have look...Photography is one of my hobbies”

SURE I USE IT FOR BACKING UP my wall-work and monitoring

“you'll have to show me how to use it”


Gertrude showed her friend how to use the camera then Steph' pulled out her paper: “QUANTUM CONSCIOUSNESS - A NEUROSURGICAL PERSPECTIVE” Gertrude quickly leafed through the pages then handed the document back.

THANKS THATS REALLY INTERESTING I was amazed to find REFERENCES TO IT WHEN I WAS doing my own research on the TOPIC – BUT I COULDN'T find the actual document anywhere

“I'm afraid most of my work gets automatically classified”


“But your welcome to hang on to it until you've finished reading it”


“You mean you read the whole thing just then‽”


Steph' shook her head in wonderment and put the document back into her bag and pulled out a largish wooden box.

“Oooooh!  Whads in der bokz?”

“You said the other day you didn't like the eye-patch the hospital gave you”

YES I WANT TO BUY A COOLER REPlacement but no-where around

“Well I thought we have ago at making one”

Steph' opened the box to reveal loads of leather off-cuts and a selection of leather working tools.



The two friends spend the next half hour trying out different shapes and colours, eventually a decision was made and Gertrude sported a nifty black leather eye-patch.

“Take the dressing off, what that skin tissue needs now is fresh air”

Reluctantly Gertrude removed the dressing.

“How duz idt rrook?”

“Fine have you got a mirror in here?”

“Onrry zmorr onez”

“Hold on, here, this'll do it”

Steph picked up the digital camera and snapped of a shot. Gertrude then connected it to her computer and studied her new look.

“I wandt to make more of a zdtatdmendt”

Gertrude rummaged in box of scraps and came up with small piece of yellow soft leather, she cut it into a disc then stuck it to the eye-patch with double sided tape and finally using a permanent marker she drew a design on to it.

“Dur, whadt do you dink?”

“Well it certainly makes a statement”

“Here let me take another photo”

Steph' picked up the camera again and pointed it at Gertrude.

“Say cheese”



Gertrude hooked up the camera again.


Gertrude turned round to face her friend.

“Datz greadt juzdt whadt I wandtedt, dankyou!”

One of the computers pinged and the words DINNERS READY appeared on it's screen followed by a knock on the door.

"Gertrude, Commander Davidson, Dinners ready, Miss Denaro sent me, can I come in?"

It was Kevin.

03 September 2013


“Anyway Steph was saying she had some papers you'd asked her for, I need to speak to your father, Lieutenant Budziszewski and Corporal Gates need to do a tactical assessment and-”
“Sophie and I'll fix dinner!” Aunt Mildred (correctly) realising that cooking for eight was well outside the Mateson's comfort zone stepped up to fill the breach and save what could have been an awkward moment.
Gertrude's aunts headed off to the kitchen, lieutenant Budziszewski produced a large scale map of the local area which she spread on the coffee table and the three men folk gathered round. What was it with men and maps anyway? Gertrude turned to Commander Davidson and suggested they go through to her lab and suiting action to words started to lead the way to the garage.
“Aren't you forgetting something?”
Mr Mateson was waving the 1911's holster. Her gun! It was on the coffee table and now covered by the map.
“Edzcuze me”
Trying to cause as little disturbance as possible Gertrude lifted a corner of the map and retrieved her weapon. As she did so she couldn't help notice the carefully drawn markings and neat notes showing lines of sight, vantage points, fields of fire etcetera. Thoughtfully Gertrude joined Commander Davidson and together they walked through to the garden and Gertrude's lab.
“He called you Zdeff”
“ Zdeff, the FBI agent called you Zdeff”
“Oh, noticed that didya”
“Zhure did, dypical female humand teednache charaderizdik -Zumffing tdo dto wiv the way our pre-frondal lobez dtevelop- we're highrry zenzidive to zuch zdtuff”
“OK, you got me – we live together”
“You and Zpechel Agendt er..Gwinn‽”
“That's right”
Gertrude tried to process this new information, it seemed to her that her 'protection team' was somehow already too cosy with her family and the people close to her.
“What about you and Kevin”
“Well, every time he looks at you he gets those 'puppy dog eyes”
“Oh, nodized that didtchya”
“Sure did, typical female human characteristic -something to do with the way our pre-frontal lobes develop- we're highly sensitive to such stuff”
“Doozhay! We've Hadt lunch”
“Ah hah!”
“therz been emailz”
“Datz idt”
“I've godt izzuez”
Gertrude reflexively brought her hand up to the left side of her face where the scar tissue was now only partially hidden by the dressing under the puke coloured hospital provided eye-patch. As she did so she thought about the main issue concerning her regarding Kevin.
“Zeriuz izzuez”
Gertrude took a deep breath and took the plunge-
“How cand endeeone wandt doo kizz thiz!”
-and stuck out her tongue.