What happens when an immortal meets the reincarnated soul of a World War One Soldier? They start a detective agency, of course. Not a usual one, how could they? They start one of the most incredible and unusual detective agencies and this is the story of how they got started.
Prepare to look at the world in a different way.
Chapter Chapter 1
In the beginning
There are times when life metaphorically picks up a large dead fish and smashes you in the face to knock you off a normal pathway. It happened to Turlington Jones, but like most people, he was blissfully unaware he had just been struck by a smelly slimy metaphor and plunged into a life so magical and unexpected that it is hard to comprehend.
Turlington Jones‘ pivotal moment came while lying on a couch listening to a rotund woman talk to him softly.
“What we aim to do with this form of hypnotherapy is to look into retained memories.” The therapist spoke calmly as if her words carried no stigma at all. Had Turlington told anyone at school he was going to see a hypnotherapist, the amount of abuse would have been unthinkable.
The therapist had very long dark hair that was streaked with grey and a kind face that held her smile well. She wore a black floaty dress that was too small on the bottom half and too big on the top and lots of oversized silver jewellery with large polished stones set into almost every piece. She was what most people would think of as ‘alternative’, yet she had not raised an eyebrow when she’d heard Turlington’s name and for that he liked her.
“Do you mean memories from his childhood?” Sarah Jones, Turlington’s mother, asked curtly and the woman nodded. “Because nothing has happened to make him this way I assure you.” Turlington noted his mother was speaking in the pseudo-posh voice she had used in the past when, married to his father. The couple wanted to give an impression of wealth, but there never was any.
“Hmmm,” the rotund woman murmured. “Well, I also do past life regression, which some people find extremely useful.”
Sarah’s eyes sparkled showing her interest. Turlington wasn’t sure what past life regression was, but was too afraid to ask in case the wonderful look drained from his mother’s face. He was unaccustomed to seeing her take an interest in him and he enjoyed the moment.
“Yes, let’s try that.” Said Sarah. “He just seems to have so much going on in there, that I think it must be from outside this life.” Sarah said in a way to make Turlington think perhaps his mother didn’t really know what past life regression was either, but she was just being polite.
“What exactly are you going to do?” Turlington asked a little concerned. The hypnotherapist seemed kind at the moment, but he’d seen enough kindly people suddenly turn on him to know not to trust her completely.
“Well it’s quite a shallow hypnosis. And don’t worry it’s not for entertainment. I’m not going to make you run around like a dog or perform tricks,” she smiled as if expecting a laugh. Turlington’s mother looked blank and he wasn’t seeing a funny side to this any more. He was getting worried.
The hypnotherapist cleared her throat and looked serious: “I’m going to talk you into a light trance, very shallow, but I will then ask you some questions. I want you to answer with what you feel, rather than what you think you know.” She said calmly.
“The aim is to take you back into previous lives. It is up to your mind which life to look at, so just let your subconscious decide and say how you feel. Once we understand what happened before; you can often understand and work to correct what’s occurring now.” The therapist said without raising her voice or altering her tone. It was a soothing voice that was gently persuading Turlington to relax.
“What do you mean by past life?” asked Turlington. “I get that I can’t remember everything I’ve done. I mean, I can remember from about the age of about four I suppose.”
The hypnotherapist cut him off. “This is not about your life now, but about a person you were before. We assume that a person’s spirit, if you like to call it that, or I prefer the word soul, has been around before in another body. It could have been a man or a woman. You could have lived relatively recently or many years ago. Those people all had different experiences, some good, some bad and the fragments can get embedded in the soul and affect the way you experience things now. They have shaped your personality before you’ve had time to shape it yourself. Of course, some people are what we call new souls, but I find most people I see have lived at least one previous life.” The therapist smiled kindly at him knowing that it was a lot of new information for an eleven year old to process. She mostly worked with adults and was talking to Turlington as if he was much older and he liked that.
Turlington was confused though. He was having trouble trying to figure out one life and now he was going to worry about past ones as well.
His mind whirled with all sorts of questions that crashed into each other and got so confused so all he could say in reply was: “What?”
“I know it can be a bit daunting,” the hypnotherapist replied softly. Turlington glanced at his mother who was nodding and smiling the way polite people do when they don’t understand something, but are too embarrassed to say so. He could tell she was losing interest in the explanation. She often did when she wanted something to happen, there was no interest in the details. Turlington was all about the details. Sometimes he wondered how he could be her son.
“If you get scared or nervous tell me and I’ll move on to something else. You will be awake and can choose to answer or not. Like I said, it’s not a deep hypnosis, just a sort of suggestive state where you can answer what you feel. Doesn’t make much sense at the moment, but it will don’t worry.” The hypnotherapist said gently.
“Now, is there anything in particular you’d like me to focus on? Anything at all?” she asked, her tone trapped between pity and concern.
“Football,” his mother blurted out a little too loudly. Up until that moment, she had only been kind to Turlington about the incidents at school, but there was an edge to her voice that said it had either scared her or annoyed her. Turlington’s automatic assumption was annoyance. He always assumed his mother was annoyed with him and his heart sank as he realised she wasn’t as supportive as she appeared.
“Football?” the therapist asked quizzically.
“Yes, I like football about as much as a fox likes the bumper of a moving car,” Turlington said almost with a stammer. He was embarrassed his mother had brought it up. The therapist looked at him quizzically and had to hold back the chuckle at the inventiveness of the comment.
Turlington’s hatred of football started during the first week at senior school. He was picked to play football properly for the first time. It was serious football and the gym teacher expected him to play properly, but as soon as the ball was kicked, he panicked and froze. The teacher couldn’t do anything with him. He was breathing so quickly the nurse thought he would hyperventilate. It happened twice more within a month. Each time his mother arrived at school he was sat on the nurse’s couch staring at the ceiling and clutching his stomach. He would be pale like a frost covered leaf and beads of sweat stood out on his forehead.
She took him home and he stayed in his room the rest of the day and all night. The first time it occurred was the first time he’d seen his mother fret and worry about him. By the third time, she was terrified something was serious wrong and she finally started to take an interest in his wellbeing.
“OK, well we can look into that. Anything else?” the therapist said obviously leading to Turlington’s colourful turn of phrase. That was another part of his character he couldn’t work out. Inventive and often humorous phrases seemed to fall out of his mouth without the need for any thought. The kids at school found it amusing, his teachers and mother, certainly didn’t.
“I just have a few odd moods and stuff,” Turlington jumped in before his mother could. His mother raised her eyebrows, tutted and then said curtly: “And he has a smart mouth, which I certainly haven’t taught him.” She was being her usual uncaring self now. The compassion had lasted about as long as a digestive biscuit in hot tea. So Turlington understood that nothing had changed. She wanted to get to the bottom of his issues, not for him, but for her so she could get back to her usual uneventful life where nothing happened.
“Maybe it would be better if you waited outside in the kitchen, Mrs Jones. My husband will make you a lovely cup of tea.”
“Ms Jones, and yes, thank you, I will.” With that his mother walked out without a word of encouragement or even a smile.
“OK Turlington,” the therapist said glancing at her notes. “Make yourself comfortable on the couch. Lie back and there’s a pillow for your head.”
Turlington liked the couch it was firm and comfortable and the pillow smelled like the sheets at Amrita’s house. Amrita was his best friend and her foster mother was one of those house-proud women who liked to ensure everything was so clean you could eat your dinner off it.
The pillow cover smelt of flowers and, as his head touched it, the soft sweet smell invaded his lungs and the anger and frustration subsided. He smiled a little; he couldn’t help it. There hadn’t been a smile on his face for some time and he felt like it was waiting just for a moment like this, so he let it bloom and it turned into a look of contentment.
“Now close your eyes and I want you to concentrate on the words I’m saying, OK Turlington?” the therapist said calmly and softly. She was also gently tapping a pen rhythmically on her knee, but Turlington didn’t notice.
He felt his body relax a little and his mind begin to clear. The therapist sensed it and she carried on talking calmly, soothing his mind and verbally stroking his ego by telling him how well he was doing.
The room was silent apart from her voice. There were no clocks ticking, no electrics whirring. He couldn’t even hear the sound of his mother chatting in the kitchen, so he could just concentrate on the therapist’s soft voice.
Her tone didn’t change as she asked him to relax and to sink into the couch. She was taking him into a suggestive trance. A couple of times the silence and her voice made him feel self-conscious and he couldn’t help but let out a giggle. It broke his concentration, but the therapist was used to it. Anyone undergoing this type of hypnosis for the first time often nervously giggled and lost concentration. Turlington apologised and tried to regain his composure. The process reminded him of gym class when the teacher got all the kids to lie on the floor and relax so much it felt as if they were sinking into it. He concentrated on doing that and just let the therapist talk. He didn’t hear what she was saying anymore, just her tone. And her technique started to work as he relaxed without giggling.
And then he caught what the therapist was saying. “Picture in your mind a corridor.” He had no idea how many times she had said it, but she repeated it. It was said in the same tone as everything else. He nodded to show he understood.
“Picture in your mind a corridor, down which are a number of doors. Each one represents a former life.” As she spoke Turlington imagined a long corridor from an old hotel. The doors running down either side were heavy dark wood and each one was furnished with an old ornately worked brass doorknob.
“Can you see the corridor Turlington?” she asked. Turlington nodded and then a look of puzzlement spread across his face.
The therapist asked him what was wrong, but it was hard for him to tell. Something wasn’t right, but like in a dream he could sense something but not see it. He let his thoughts wander and concentrated on the doors and then it struck him. He wasn’t alone.
“There’s someone here,” he said softy. “A boy is offering me his hand.”
“A boy?” the therapist asked softly and Turlington nodded. “What does he look like?”
“Erm, he is dressed in shorts, shirt and a school blazer. He looks like an olden days school boy.” Turlington answered.
“Take his hand, sometimes we have guides in the subconscious and they appear in our minds as children. The boy is a projection your mind has created to help you through the corridor and choose the right life.” The therapist lied. She’d never known any of her patients to have a guide before, but then hypnotherapy wasn’t science.
“He’s telling me something.” Turlington said, his mind and tone relaxed as if this was the most natural thing in the world to be doing.
When he spoke next, his voice was different, slightly higher in pitch and softer as if he were five years younger. “I know you Turlington Jones, you are important. You are one of the three. And they will try and kill you,” The words were sinister, but said with such lightness and calm, the therapist was disturbed by it and wanted to get on with the treatment as quickly as possible. This had never happened before and she didn’t know how to deal with it and so did what many would do, she ignored the unknown and urged Turlington on to something she could deal with.
“Walk down the corridor with him and choose a door.” She said with a smidgeon too much urgency in her voice. “Walk calmly and select a door that feels right. A life you want to access again. Tell me when you have selected the door.” She said hoping Turlington would be quick.
“He is showing me this one,” Turlington said weakly. In his mind the young boy had taken him to a door about half way down the corridor. He stood in front of it; his hand outstretched hovering just above the knob. He felt strange; he could feel his mind, but not his body. He knew it was safe though. And the boy gave him some comfort, but he felt like he was floating, as if he were a ghost. Maybe this is what ghosts actually were, he thought; people visiting past lives, but didn’t say it.
“OK Turlington, I’d like you to turn the handle and enter the door and when you do, you will be at the moment you died in that life. I want you to tell me what you feel.”
A second later Turlington was screaming.
The sudden noise made the therapist jump. Turlington went from being calm and still to screaming at the top of his voice. His eyes were open and full of fear and pain. He was clutching his stomach. He wasn’t saying anything just screaming and writhing around. His mother rushed in from the kitchen closely followed by the therapist’s husband.
The therapist shook her head and held up her hand telling them to stop and leave them alone. Turlington’s mother held her hand to her mouth her eyes wide with shock at seeing her son in such a distressed state. He looked worse than when he was panicked by football matches.
“Turlington can you hear me?” the therapist said calmly, yet loudly. She was used to explosive moments at the edge of death and she knew how to deal with them. Turlington’s reaction was one of the fiercest she had encountered though and she was hoping to turn him back quickly.
“Turlington, can you hear me?” she asked again.
“It hurts, it hurts,” he screamed, tears rolling down his face. “Ed, where are you? Eddy! It hurts, I’m down, I’m down.”
“Turlington, Turlington, if you can hear me I want you to move back through the life to an hour before your death. Move back. Move back.”
And as suddenly as he started screaming, Turlington was quiet.
He was breathing calmly and was lying still as if the minute before had not yet existed which, of course, was true in his mind at the moment.
“Tell me about your surroundings,” said the therapist calmly again. “What can you see?”
“Mud,” Turlington replied blandly and slowly. “All I can see is mud… and water. There’s a dead horse. No, wait, it’s not a horse; it’s a bit of a horse. It’s a head and front leg I think. It’s too hard to see as it’s covered in mud.”
“How do you feel? Are you happy, sad, worried?” asked the therapist
“I’m a bit numb,” It’s cold. I feel like I’ve been cold forever. I don’t know what I feel. I think I should be shocked, but I’m not.”
“Do you know what year it is?”
“Erm… Well I arrived in 1915 and I have been here for a long time. We had Christmas a few months ago. Maybe it was six or seven. I forget.” Turlington said jovially, but with a hard edge to his tone.
“Christmas? That was nice?” the therapist made her voice light and sound positive.
“No not really, Charlie died along with his friend from Sheerness, I didn’t know him though.”
“He died you say? Are you at the Front?”
“Yes of course. Where else would a chap be? We are at the front getting ready to attack. They say the Hun don’t stand a chance this time. I hope they are right. I’ve seen too many die to believe them though.
“This mud is as cold as day-old polar bear poo,” said Turlington suddenly looking at his feet.
“Why are you standing in it?” the hypnotherapist asked ignoring the inventiveness of the comment for now. She noted it though.
“Was ordered to by Major Hapisley. We all were. And you’d better stop talking or he’ll have you on a charge. He did that to Eddy last week. Made him clean out the angry horses. I don’t think they are angry for the sake of it; they are just scared. You know the ones who are made to pull the guns through the mud. They hate us and I don’t blame them. But they kick like a rabid dog bites.
“Not that they frighten Eddy. He’s the only one though. But then he has been wounded about five times. None of them a Blighty the poor soul. He’s my best pal. We look out for each other.
“Hey I just remembered, it’s July the first; feels more like February. Up until the other day it was like it’s been raining since the dawn of time. There’s water and mud everywhere and the Major has us standing in it.” Turlington’s voice was steady and calm, but carried a slight shiver as if he were standing in a rain soaked muddy field just then.
“Where are you stationed?” the therapist asked with some concern in her voice. Lines raised across her forehead and she looked down at the boy with such compassion that had anyone been looking on they would have cried.
“Don’t you know?” Turlington chuckled. “This is going to be the battle to end the war they say. We may not have been home by Christmas, but I’m excited as a five year old in a sweetshop. It’ll be summer hols in Selsey as usual.” Turlington sounded cheered by the earlier memory.
Her voice trembling with emotion, the therapist asked again: “Where is here Turlington?” This time a tear escaped and dropped down her face as she already knew the answer.
“It’s France of course. We are going to take part in the Battle for Albert. We all laugh at that because there are about six Alberts in the regiment see. It’s pretty funny. But tell me where else would a chap be at the end of the war?” Turlington sounded cheery enough as his memory was not yet filled with the horrors awaiting him in the battle that decided the fate of WWI for the rest of history. A battle seen in most people’s eyes as a complete waste of human life. The therapist shook her head and muttered ‘damn it. First day of the Somme,’ under her breath. She’d heard the naive voices from history too many times on her couch. 60,000 men lost their lives on the first day of the Battle of the Somme and it had seemingly caused ripples of emotional distress in later lives. She’d heard the story many times, but it never got easier. In fact, she thought, each time she heard a personal story, the battle got harder to hear about.
Turlington chuckled again. “Captain Nevill has only gone and bought some footballs,” he stated. The therapist was suddenly alert.
“And what does he intend to do with them?” she asked.
“He’s given ‘em to the company COs and we have to race. See who can make it to the Hun lines first. They say it’s gonna be a right show.
“Hush now, Eddy is looking over at me disapprovingly. You’ll get us into trouble if you keep speaking.” Turlington’s voice lowered to a whisper.
“OK Turlington, I want you to move forward. Come forward in time to ten minutes before you died. Come forward Turlington. Tell me what you see, what do you hear and what do you feel?”
“There’s a kind of silence you can feel, I’ve not ever heard it like this before. The guns stopped firing a minute ago and we are just waiting for the whistle to send us over the top. But there’s no noise. I’m as frightened as a mouse in a field of firecrackers. Everyone is as scared as me I guess. I moved up the line to be next to Eddy. I joked he was taller than me so would be easier to hit,” Turlington chuckled, but it was tinged with terror.
“God it’s so quiet. The skylarks know something is happening that they too, like us chaps, are holding their breaths. The whole world seems to be holding its breath. The platoon CO has our ball, says we’ll show the others who can get across no man’s land the quickest. He tried out for the Villa before the war they say and he promised us all a hot bath if we can get across without stumbling,” he chuckled again, but he stammered slightly.
“You ready?” Turlington whispered.
The therapist held her breath and said nothing.
“Eddy… you ready? Good. Remember we need to be fast enough to catch a horse that’s had its rump slapped.”
Turlington took a massive intake of breath as if he were actually about to perform a dangerous and physical act, like the men in 1916 climbing out of the muddy trenches to rush across the churned up fields of the Somme Valley in France.
“There’s the whistle and whoa, the ball’s gone right up. Let’s get stuck in lads. Eddy, come on,” he shouted jovially as if the sudden action broke the melancholy feeling hanging over him. The therapist knew the outcome, but still she gazed down at Turlington’s face. She had seen the look before and each time the cheerful fear of the people she talked to caught in her heart and she couldn’t hold herself back from crying. A few years ago she had gone through this therapy and discovered she’d been a stretcher bearer during the battle and had stood and watched the men leave the trenches and get cut down like models in a child’s war game.
Turlington looked determined, concentrating hard and then she saw the moment she’d dreaded. The moment the bullet found Turlington’s predecessor’s stomach. But before he could start to scream again, the therapist asked him to wake. And although covered in sweat and staring wildly like he’d narrowly missed being hit by a truck, Turlington sat up.
He remembered everything. He’d heard it all and been conscious, but it was as if he wasn’t himself. He had no control over Turlington Jones.
“Are you alright?” the therapist asked.
Turlington stared at her for a few moments. “What the hell was that?” he stammered, panic running through this voice.
“That was a memory of a previous life. A latent image remembered by your subconscious self.” The therapist was calm, but the tracks of tears on her cheeks were obvious until she wiped them away.
“You mean that really happened? To… me?”
“Well not you as such, but your soul inhabited a body before.”
“You call that therapy? All you’ve done is made me as scared as a bird waking up in a cat basket,” Turlington said in a way that implied humour and concern.
“Yes I realise that for the first time, this is a very confusing sensation. It’s not easy to comprehend. For some it is the stigma that the situation goes against everything that’s ingrained inside us. Hollywood movies make the whole topic, somehow, make believe. It’s lumped in with ghosts and UFOs. But from my experience whether you did actually live through this, or not, or whether it’s just a way your brain stitches together feelings and outputs them, it should help you understand things.
“For example you getting shot just after a man has kicked a football could explain your issues with the game. I know I’d hate something that got me killed and took me away from my friends.”
“Like Eddy you mean?” Turlington asked quizzically.
“Yes, you mentioned him a lot so he must have been a good friend.”
“I felt like I’d known him so long I thought time would run out before we stopped being friends.” Turlington stammered, his eyes as wide as his mouth was open.
“That’s an odd turn of phrase,” The therapist said. “It’s interesting as I noticed you do that while under hypnosis as well, so that could be something that’s carried over too.”
“I don’t know where they come from, but my brain always thinks them up. Do you think that person from the First World War is behind how my mind works?”
“He could be, but no one knows for sure what it is really all about. It’s part belief in reincarnation, part psychiatric therapy. Whether it’s real or imagined is all open to debate,” she repeated in a grown up way.
“Now you’ve had a few minutes to reflect, can you remember anything else? I was going to ask you a name, or a place you remember. Sometimes it comes back to you after the event and you re-remember facts once your brain has unlocked that section of itself.”
Turlington sat and thought for a few seconds. “I can’t remember my name, I just get the sense that I knew who I was and that was the only important thing. Like having a telephone, but not knowing the number if you can understand that?”
The therapist nodded.
“You told me the date. So from that I guess it was what we now call the 1st battle of the Somme. You called it the battle for Albert.”
“We did that in history at school. The Somme was what it was called afterwards. Like calling it the First World War. They didn’t call it that then.”
“They just called it the war.” Turlington smiled as he said it. He was beginning to relax which is what the therapist wanted.
“The football thing was strange, I’ve never heard of anyone kicking a football before. Have you?” Turlington asked with a chuckle. To the therapist it was an identical chuckle as he’d given while regressed. She looked at him quizzically as if trying to see what he was thinking.
“Would you like to try again and we’ll see if you try that door again or a different one? If we get the same door we’ll take you back further in the life to try and find more details if you like?” the therapist stated.
Turlington thought for a while. The incident had both caught his imagination and deeply upset him. There were so many questions whipping around his head he couldn’t quite grasp any one in particular. They were like bats flying out of a cave and his mind was a snake poised at the entrance waiting to grab one. The questions though had safety in numbers and stuck together.
“OK, but I’ll try my hardest to get that door as I’d like to know the man’s name.” He said jovially, but with some tension that the therapist would have to alleviate before he would be ready again.
Turlington laid back on the couch and the therapist started talking to him soothingly. It was harder to enter the trance-like state this time, not because he was giggling, but because the questions kept interrupting his train of thought and he found relaxing difficult. The therapist though was used to this.
“Picture in your mind the corridor as before, Turlington. Picture the doors with their handles.” He nodded.
“See yourself walking along the corridor Turlington until you reach a door you want to open. Try and see the door you opened before.” She said.
“All the doors are look alike, but I’ll try to find it,” he said.
“Just walk along and trust yourself,” she said. “Is your guide with you?”
“No I can’t see him. I don’t think he’s here this time. Oh I’ll open this one.” Turlington said.
“OK Turlington, when you open the door you will be at a time ten years after you were born. I want you to open the door and tell me how you feel, and what you see?”
“Darkness.” He answered.