Storyteller

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THE INLOOKER - FULL LENGTH


Copyright
Copyright © Terry Tumbler

§  6: Squaring The Circle

Little was he truly aware of it, but Thomas was probably suffering from symptoms of Post-Traumatic-Stress Disorder after losing his managerial job. Any doctor could have told him this if he had bothered to seek help.
One minute he was filled with elation and relief, as he stood looking out of his bedroom window and enjoying a view of the bucolic countryside, realising he wasn’t committed to full-time work anymore. The next minute he was reduced to utmost fits of depression as he contemplated a future unlike anything he had previously known, wondering what fate would have in store for him if he didn’t act bravely.
Eventually he snapped out of it, took a fatalistic stance, and decided to adopt a positive attitude. He decided, “I may as well do something useful.” A realistic plan that was well within his capabilities had already been quickly devised, to help generate immediate cash income. Now he had to execute it, promptly, or lose the initiative; time was of the essence and waited for no man.
He would get up at the same time as his wife Pat, and would shower, dry himself, shave and dress formally in the same clothes that he would normally have worn when he was working in The City. She had to leave the house by 08:30am to drive a few miles to a regional offices belonging to a major brewery group, where she provided clerical support to the directors.
When the routine was first set into motion, they ate breakfast together, giving her the chance to quiz him on what he would be doing that day. He sat there full of aplomb, his self-assurance totally unruffled as he nibbled at his toast, which was spread with Frank Cooper’s Vintage marmalade. Between sips from a mug of filtered coffee, he patted her hand reassuringly and said, “I’m going back to The City, and will be approaching contacts who I feel can help. I am confident that I will get what I want.”
In the days that followed, as she saw a sustained change in his attitude for the better, she learnt to be less inquiring. He was always evasive when pumped for information, vaguely reassuring her that he was doing something worthwhile that was highly profitable. He never elaborated on that theme, and she in turn trusted him totally, knowing that he was no slacker. Anyway, his dress sense had become exemplary again, and she liked him looking at his best.
Uncharacteristically for a person who had held a series of reputable jobs of good standing, his planned actions were known by him alone to be criminal in nature. A person had to delve into his childhood roots to understand what was motivating him to take a risk, apart from the thrill of doing it.
His father and his grandfather were successful scrap merchants, who traded in recycling metals during and after the Second World War. They had also established a fleet of trawlers, were demolition specialists, ship and factory salvagers, and ruthless in their pursuit of questionable profits.
What Thomas had in mind would have been child’s play to them, and they would have given him their belated support if they had known about it.
“Well done!”, “At last!”, “A chip off the old block!” They would have cried out, if they were still alive.

And what was it he proposed doing? The plan was very simple in its execution, and required him to buy ‘Cheap Day’ return train tickets, for use outside the specified rush-hour periods.
As stated earlier, dressed formally in his Austin Reed suit, he would travel later in the-morning to London, walk towards Leadenhall Market, and sit at a corner table in one of the nearby upmarket cafés to sip a pre-paid coffee and read a newspaper. There he would wait until any middle-aged or older business man of prosperous appearance came in on his own, sat down to nurse a coffee or tea and started leafing through paperwork stored in his briefcase.
A few days earlier, Thomas had started to concentrate on enhancing his ability to occupy another person’s body, and attempting to do this while retaining a level of control over his own.
He was therefore pleased when he succeeded in taking possession of his first targeted victim, a bespectacled, plump middle-aged man with fresh red cheeks and a solemn demeanour, whilst Thomas left sufficient of his soul in his own body to be able to deal in an abstract manner with anyone who approached him.
The main part of his spirit invaded the stranger and got him to pack his documents, leave the café, and walk the short distance to a nearby cash point dispenser. There, Thomas’s spirit coaxed the man to withdraw the maximum permitted personal amount on his ‘gold’ credit card, which in this case was a generous £500.
Communicating with his original self in the café, Thomas’s physical body and residual spirit collected his belongings, and got up to rendezvous with the stranger in the street, near the cash point machine.
A jovial meeting was contrived for the stranger to discretely transfer the money to Thomas, when they embraced. Both parts of Thomas’s spirit reunited, and the two individuals went their separate ways under happy circumstances, with a shaking of hands. In this decade, the use of cameras in public was rare.
The puzzled stranger was left alone and wondering where his time had gone, while Thomas chose a different café to repeat the process with someone else.
Perhaps it would be a woman, but he felt chivalrous towards the opposite sex and disliked extracting their cash. After a short day spent collecting funds in this way, he made his leisurely way home before the evening rush hour, went into his garden shed and placed that day’s cash hoard in a metal box, which had been secreted in a waterproof covered recess in the concrete base.
This routine was repeated on each and every weekday as Thomas saw fit, to the extent that he got tired and fell asleep on the return journey, during which period of travel he would clutch his briefcase on his lap as if for dear life. He felt lucky that the cash machines accessed had dispensed notes of large denominations, otherwise the volume of money he was stockpiling would have caused it to bulge. In the end he tried to stay awake the whole time, rather than risk being robbed of his booty.
In a single-minded fashion, Thomas never became really curious about the lives and characters of the people whose money he was taking, and neither did he come across any newspaper reports indicating that his activities had been detected. To him, it was better to remain ignorant of these strangers and their affluent lifestyles than to become emotionally attached to them, unlikely as that was in view of their stand-offish attitudes.
He passed some of them in the streets days later, and read their minds to see if he was being hunted, and was not surprised to find that nothing untoward had registered in their subconscious. They were earning so much money that nothing he did put the slightest of dents in their measurable incomes.

Within fifty industrious working days spent in this manner, not far off £100,000 had been accumulated, and Thomas was ready to commence the next stage of his plan. Purchasing an accounting package for his PC, together with a companion self-tuition course, he setup a small trading company to market and manufacture a specialist item of clothing that was tailored to be sexy and would help combat the cold in the UK’s deteriorating climate.
The products the company would supply were destined for domestic use indoors, so that people could wear garments that kept them warm, without having to switch on central heating for so long each day and evening.
He was anticipating that electricity bills would continue to rise inexorably, and reckoned that people would begin to rebel against the manifest overcharging of greedy utility providers.
With the partnership of his younger daughter Julie and support of his wife, he got clothing samples made up and checked thoroughly for robust seaming. Then he swiftly set up a full network of part-time home-workers in the locality, and a reliable source of fabrics, ready for production to begin near his home, in a reserved industrial unit where some jobs would have to be performed centrally.
The final task before arranging interviews with the buyers at leading, upmarket stores like Harrods and Liberty’s, was to design and print promotional literature. It was with mounting excitement that he and Julie dressed in their designer suits, loaded their newly acquired Ford estate car with product samples, and attended their pre-arranged meetings at the various buyers’ offices, waiting in long lines with other hopefuls.
Gleefully, they left shortly after with fistfuls of orders from buyers, who had been ‘influenced’ to place orders with the winsome father and daughter. The people who had interviewed them also emphasised the likelihood that repeat orders would follow, if the buying public shared their gut instincts. This positive and universal response convinced Thomas that his approach to quality control was going to pay dividends.
Immediately, they contacted the small army of part-time staff who they had recruited on a stand-by basis, and held training sessions to bring them up to an acceptable industrial standard of cutting and sewing.
Those who showed special acumen were promoted to supervisory posts, and readied for the mass production that was imminent.
Within days, the staff were all working enthusiastically on assembly of the garments, which the business partners managed personally with sympathy and understanding.
Packaging and bulk shipment commenced within the week, as Thomas’s daughter Julie placed a badge of authenticity and a fanciful short story of the garment’s history on top, as it was carefully folded within a transparent zipper bag.

Thomas had achieved a successful, initial outcome to his enterprise, and the orders flowed in as winter deepened and utility bills rose inexorably.
He had begun squaring the circle, so to speak, and the future of his family, both daughters included, was assured.

Not wishing to rest on his laurels, but continuing to feel somewhat emotionally bruised and wary after the harsh treatment dished out by his previous employer, Thomas felt unfulfilled and remained on the prowl for another business opportunity.
As the future became the present, he was now heading a flourishing manufacturing company, supported by two of his keen and eager family members plus trusted deputies in all key areas of control of the enterprise.
Consequently, he could once more afford the time to intercept affluent strangers and lighten their pockets. Whereas he had not been overly inquisitive before about their circumstances, now he became more inclined to investigate them in depth.
Within a few hours of the next day of trawling for victims, he identified his first rogue trader from the Stock Exchange. He was a thin young man by the name of Paul, smartly groomed and well-dressed, whose state of mind was highly agitated but compliant. A quick mind scan revealed that he was covertly trading beyond his authorised limit, and gambling frantically to recoup an eight figure shortfall before late afternoon.
Thomas lost no time in breaking his mental link with Paul.
On your way!” he insisted telepathically, not wanting to add to the man’s dilemmas or get involved.
That same day, it was not long before Thomas started wondering what he’d been missing with his previous, superficial approach to fund-raising. His latest target was a man of normal height and stocky build, or so it seemed, but spiritually he was a midget in comparison with a superabundance of energy. He was resisting mightily, with a determination and skill that was unprecedented in Thomas’s experience.
Startled by this encounter, he became aware that he was tussling with a being that was not human in origin. As far as he could establish, the body was a ‘husk’ or shell, with all its vital organs intact, under the control of an alien entity; it had no perceivable ‘soul’ of its own! Images of a remotely located alien humanoid with a large head and spindly limbs flashed in front of him, as he picked up its thoughts and feelings of surprise and mounting desperation.
For a while, the two of them struggled spiritually for dominance, with Thomas gaining the upper hand through his initial attack, closer proximity to the ‘husk’, and superior raw energy, as contrasted with the alien’s less warlike, subtle intellectual probes. In many ways, they were both holding back as they tried to satisfy their mounting curiosity about each other’s origins.
They were equally fascinated as they exchanged valuable snippets of information, although Thomas had more to gain and was the main beneficiary. He was in a dreamlike state as he waged intellectual warfare, and he was feeling increasingly triumphant until the alien shocked him by relinquishing control of the human shell. He, Thomas, was now solely occupying it, as the alien spirit slipped away, leaving for dead the body that it had inhabited.
An abiding memory was left with Thomas of a far better organised alien civilization, in which traffic flowed seamlessly and endlessly around a harmonious world. In comparison, Planet Earth was chaotic and warlike, with widespread outbreaks of aggression occurring almost randomly.

Passers-by gathered around the lifeless body, which Thomas’s spirit exited reluctantly and slipped away from the scene to merge with Thomas himself. This event marked the rise of the second, more emphatic phase of Thomas’s emergence into society.

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