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by Cleveland W. Gibson

Moondust is a collection of modern fast-paced tales which stretches the borders of our imagination as they deliver, with always that final twist, the essence of drama in the surreal vein.

Courage is needed to begin this journey across an Empire of compulsive horror in which the meeting of curses, magic and the occult all come to fruition in new ways.

Engage with interesting characters, share their aspirations as they emerge from situations often steeped in classic chilling adventures.

Join with the cheers of the Queen’s bravest as they rally to fight against evil, shed blood and banish the Devil.

Yet be aware how around every dark corner there exist ‘things’ only to be dreamed of in Heaven or Hell, which our heroes must overcome for the ultimate victory.

The Indian Rope Trick

“Get Ali Baba up there; make him let us in,” Egidio insisted. ”Any mistake and I shoot.”

Mafia boss Egidio Bellucci pulled out his gun. He waved it skyward at the open second-floor window. ”Five million pounds in bonds waiting for us and you messed up the ladder. Better pray we get in, otherwise I get nasty.” Egidio tapped his wristwatch with his gun.

Stefano gulped and took over. So the ladder broke when he put his weight on it, but pasta was his God, as his waistline testified. In sheer desperation to find a way to access the small window, Stefano dived into his magazine of ideas. He worked hard. He thought finding the Jerry Cottrell Circus performer Gopal Sagur Singh waiting at a bus stop was a lucky break for him. It took only a moment to kidnap the friendly yet naive Indian. Now all that was needed was entry to the office block through the open window. Soon he and his boss Egidio would be in the money.

Fat Stefano watched Gopal, noting the dhoti and the sleeveless cotton jacket the Indian wore. No sandals covered his feet, yet around his head he sported a bright blue turban. Gopal carried a flute in his right hand and a wicker basket under his other arm.

Gangster Stefano raised a foot and kicked the basket. As the basket fell, the lid came off and spewed out a length of heavy rope. Gopal looked down at it.

“Come on! Pick it up!” Stefano shouted.” I need you to do your stunt and get your rope up to that window. When you get there I want you to slip in and let us into the room. A friend has left a key on the desk so there should be no problem. You understand?”

“Yes, Sahib. I speak damn bloody good English, sir.”

Soon they would be in the offices of Wardle, McCarthy & Company and so rich. Egidio had bribed an office worker to leave a window open and to provide a handy key to the security door.

The Indian picked up the sprawling rope and wound it into a neat looking coil before placing it back inside the wicker basket. He wet his lips and fingered the holes on the slim flute. Stepping back a little, he dropped to the ground and folded his brown legs into the familiar yoga pose. Tight-lipped, Stefano listened as Gopal started to play.

Gopal played some weird cranky tune for half a minute, but nothing happened. Stefano, however, saw a slight movement within the basket. He heard a peculiar friction sound as the coil of rope moved around and next spiralled upwards. Gopal played on, driving the rope upwards towards the heavens in tune with the music. Stefano glanced up, grunting with delight as the rope snaked past the open window.

“Stop!” Stefano shouted and pointed. “Now climb the rope and do what I said. Get that key off the desk and let us in. Go now. Hurry. Hurry.”

Gopal Sangur Singh did nothing for a long moment. Finally he arose and his hands reached up for the rope. His brown legs entwined around the length of it as he began his smooth and steady climb. Stefano watched in amazement as the man climbed up until he was level with the open window on the second floor.

* * *

‘Boy’ Fletcher wasn’t drunk at the time, but he felt as if he was. The ex-alcoholic saw from an adjacent office Gopal climb up level with his window. Immediately ‘Boy’s’ chest started heaving, sweat glistened on his forehead as he dropped to the floor, his back against a wall for reassurance. As he fiddled with his mobile phone, he became worried as to what to say and who would believe his story.

He was a man of forty-two but somehow looked many years younger. It was for that reason he got his nickname of ‘Boy.’ He’d tried in the past to stop being called ‘Boy’ but somehow the tag stayed with him. Now as he opened a can of beer and took a drink he felt slightly better. Seeing Gopal had been a shock but the beer helped. He rang a number on the mobile phone again and when he spoke of what he saw his speech sounded slurred.

* * *

Carefully, Gopal reached inside the small open window. He turned the latch to the side window, the larger one big enough to give him access. As it opened, Gopal stepped across the threshold and went into the room. He disappeared from sight.

Egidio joined Stefano and the two men watched in half amazement at the rope still hanging above them. It didn't occur to them that what they saw was no trick. Greed was enough to dull their sense of wonder.

Presently the door to the building opened and Gopal stood there.

As the two men rushed inside, Gopal picked up his basket and fed the rope back inside it. He had finished coiling the rope and replaced the lid on the basket when Stefano returned.

“Come on. The boss wants you upstairs,” Stefano said. Gopal picked up his basket and followed Stefano.

In that short space of time Egidio and Stefano located the bonds they needed. Now they had Gopal, they made use of him to fill black bags with the bonds they took from various drawers. The insider information was excellent; it enabled them to find the bonds very quickly as they emptied several large security containers.

* * *

Less than fifteen minutes later Egidio was closer to his dream of getting rich than he’d ever imagined possible. The bags containing the bonds were loaded up in the back of their Range Rover.

Egidio stood in the yard outside smoking a cigarette. Stefano joined him minutes later. Both men looked at their watches.

“Time to go, boss. But what about Ali Baba upstairs? What are we going to do with him? Heck, I could do with a drink.”

Egidio hunched his shoulders. With millions hanging in the balance he didn’t want any mistakes.

“Best shoot him. One bullet in the head should do it.”

Stefano nodded and checked his gun. He climbed up the stairs to carry out his orders.

As he entered the room, a glance showed him Gopal sitting cross-legged on the floor. Stefano guessed he was meditating as the man kept both eyes shut. This part was going to be easy.

Stefano pressed the trigger and Gopal slumped to the floor, a trickle of blood showing the place where the bullet entered his head. A second later the mobster holstered his gun and went down the stairs.

* * *

“Boy” Fletcher heard the shot. He peeped out of the window. Everything was quiet but the sound of the shot worried him. What had happened to the Indian man up there in the air? ‘Boy’ returned to his mobile phone and tried again.

* * *

Stefano left the room with Gopal motionless on the floor. But the Indian was not dead. Tiny parts of his lungs were still working, keeping him alive. Something inside his brain stopped him from dying. Eventually, an aura hovered over the body of the Indian. A mystical entity withdrew from it. Only those adepts gifted in the art would have seen the wondrous thing move from Gopal’s body and into the wicker basket.

As the two men were leaving the office building, they heard a noise coming from the room where Gopal lay dead. The strange sound made them freeze in their tracks, only their eyes lifted towards the upstairs office.

“I said to kill him,” Egidio said.

Stefano shuffled his feet.

“I did.”

“So what was that sound? He’s walking about. Get up there quick and check it out. We need to get out of here pretty soon. When you are up there grab that last pile of bonds I left on the main desk by mistake. I thought they were worthless but apparently that isn’t so. Now jump to it. Okay?”

Stefano nodded. He took out his gun and climbed the stairs. As he entered the room, he found Gopal hadn’t moved a fraction from where he’d been shot. Stefano kicked him and felt for a pulse. He found none.

Stefano remember what Egidio said about the bonds. He picked up the wicker basket, emptied the rope onto the floor and rested the basket on the desktop. Immediately Stefano grabbed at the bonds and threw them into the wicker basket. When he finished he moved towards the door.

As he held the wicker basket in front of him, ready to make the descent down the stairs, something slid across the floor. Once it focused on him it struck at high speed like an exocet missile.

Stefano felt the first fierce tug as it wrapped around his legs, pulling until it threw him off balance. He screamed once as he hopped right at the top of the staircase. He struggled, he trembled and lost the battle as the rope raced around his ankles to pitch him forward with only a wall to cushion his blow. The basket dropped from his lifeless hand.

* * *

Egidio paused. He heard the slight commotion. “Stefano. Don’t mess about. Come on let’s get out of here.” There was no answer to his shout.

In one smooth move, Egidio took his gun out and climbed the stairs, pausing at each third step to listen. Before he got to the top he saw Stefano’s twisted body. Egidio’s eyes moved from the head wound to the wicker basket and the bonds scattered on the stairs.

The gang boss shrugged his shoulders and picked up the basket. As he climbed the stairs Egidio kept collecting the bonds. He took the basket into the office and placed it on the desk.

When seconds of entering the office, Egidio saw the dead Indian. The shock of also seeing Stefano, dead on the stairs, blood pouring from a head wound spooked Egidio. He shuddered but pressed on. He went back to Stefano’s body. As he searched through the dead man’s pockets, Egidio came across more money. Back in the office Egidio added the money to the wicker basket. He pulled on the lid and tried to lift the basket off the desk.

Egidio’s instincts cried out a warning inside his head. The basket was too heavy. It was too strange. With his gun he levered off the lid. As the lid jerked and fell to the floor, sweat broke out on his face and hands. He sprang back, his gun ready, his eyes riveted on the inside of the basket.

Egidio made the mistake of seeing the snake with haunting yellow eyes rear up in front of him. It was too late for him to fire. He knew that when the venom hit him in the eyes, making him drop his gun. Even as he clutched his face, the cobra struck again. Within seconds, Egidio felt himself reacting, his body going into convulsions, until he soon dropped to the floor.

The snake ignored Egidio’s body; instead it went and found the dead Gopal. Picking a spot along side the dead man the snake wound itself into a tight coil. It held the position for several minutes. Soon an aura developed around the snake. As the intensity of the shimmering aura increased a spirit moved from the snake to Gopal.

Almost at once Gopal started to breathe again. His chest started to rise and fall. Thought his breathing was slow and laborious, he was alive.

* * *

When the paramedics found Gopal, they discovered by his side a neat coil of thick rope. They discovered more money inside the wicker basket but found no sign of any snake. But some evidence indicated that Egidio died from a snakebite.

* * *

“Boy” Fletcher, the ex-drunk, happened to be still stuck in a position overlooking the yard. Naturally he phoned the Thames Valley Police after he’d drunk a few cans of beer to steady his nerves. Anybody would have done the same.

Especially if they’d seen an Indian climbing up a huge thirty-foot-long cobra with large yellow eyes...

The End

About The Author

Cleveland is a new writer. He enjoys drama, the surreal. His work is showcased on and spans many genres with publications around the world. Moondust represents his first short story collection to be followed by an adventure magical-realism serial aimed at children and adults. Look on his planned website for details of current projects on which he is working. Cleveland has trained as a Lifeguard, been a road race director amongst other things. Now he writes, is a dedicated carer, a teacher of ESOL, and is hoping to teach creative writing in historic Faringdon.

Copyright © 2005 by Cleveland W. Gibson

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