Chapter 1

Philip Theodoru

Mrs Peggy Hughs was no ordinary person; she was an investment banker, and therefore was not a person at all. She was a plump woman with a fashion that consisted entirely and solely of a shiny-white suit above a pair of equally white and unnecessarily sporty trainers. But they were not for sports, for Mrs Hughs struggled to walk up a single flight of stairs, thus many questioned the reason for the choice of footwear to begin with. But her PA, Mr Fernandez, would reassure his colleagues that at least her ankles would be secure in the somewhat likely incident of a lifestyle induced heart attack. She was an angry woman, and accentuating this was her shiny-pink bellend-esque forehead, below which prudent button-eyes glared at all those she crossed: especially Mr Fernandez. She was a woman that could have chosen to be nice, but for reasons beyond that of the average comprehension of empathetic man, did not.

She was known not only for her insights into investment banking, but also a sinister alter-ego as a loan shark, lending money with extortionate interest to ex-criminals and drug dealers whom mainstream banks thought it too risky to associate with. Her loan shark empire was powered by its debt-collectors; whom, upon her mafia-like orders, would often raid the homes of family members associated with one of her indebted clients. Apparently she once ordered a man’s child to be locked away in her shed until he paid her what he owed. But what could he have done, for the police are no help to an ex-drug lord.

Even at her usual job in the office, Mrs Hughs was infamous for her flirtatious behaviour with the bizarre and unpleasant. An example of this was her personal problem with Mr Fernandez’s shirt, for it was buttoned in a manner that she claimed rejected the use of buttons at all, and she nagged at him every day hoping that he would notice the presence of the buttons and use them. Mr Fernandez would, unsurprisingly to most, ignore her, for he thought it unfair considering that on some moderately warm evenings, Mrs Hughs would take her clothes off entirely. Indeed, the top button was the only one heever left open.

One August day came a sad letter for Mrs Peggy Hughs, reading that her MI5-employed sister, Margarine, had suddenly passed; and it was Mrs Hughs who took it upon herself to arrange all funeral matters. Margarine’s family obliged, for in return, she offered to cover the funeral expenses. After all, money was no master over a loan shark investment banker.

But this story starts elsewhere, within the North London Communal Mortuary, with a dramatic clunk of ghost-white laboratory lights being turned on. Beneath them stood Margarine’s forensic mortician, Windsor Wentworth, who stared, pale faced and blank eyed, down upon the second body for him that day. He looked up and into the corpse mirror and saw that his small tuft of white hair upon his skeletal stone-white head was frayed and that his eyes were bagged. No surprises, he was covering the shifts of a mourning co-worker called Brian Buster, and he wished dearly for nothing more than his co-worker to return so that he might be able to spend more time at home, with his family. He sniffed the iron-chemical smells of the deceased; did butcheries smell this good? He was hungry. But his ponderings were quickly turned off, for there was a bashing coming from the front door. How bizarre, he thought, as he dragged his feet over to the front entrance, and prepared himself to be greeted by either a Jehovah’s Witness or a necrophile; but it was neither, for it was Mrs Hughs.

“Hello!” she exclaimed, barging past Windsor who crumpled against the radiator like a reed beneath a cracked and bloodied camel hoof. He brushed himself down and stood up, looking down the entranceway into the corpse mirror, watching as his forehead bruised around the graze. And then he saw them standing side-by-side, and realised that he was nothing but a matchstick enshadowed by a large and foreboding darkness. Swallowing, he mustered the courage to confront her, and spoke.

“I’m sorry,” he said with a stutter, “what are you doing here? I am afraid no visitors are permitted within this facility.”

“Shut up and show me where my sister is,” demanded Mrs Hughs.

“Exactly who are you?” he inquired.

“Mrs Peggy Hughs; to you, Dame Peggy Hughs; and I demand to see my sister,” she reiterated.

“A-are you actually a Dame or…,” he stammered.

“And who are you to know about my life?” she asked through a grit of teeth.

“I– it was just a suspicion, ma’am.” There was a proceeding moment of silence.

“So?!” she yelped.

“You have no permission to be here without a permit.” said Windsor, more confidently, “now leave before I call the authorities.” Mrs Hughs stood up tall, clasped Windsor by the scruff of his shirt and held him against the wall.

“Listen here you stupid little man, I will see my sister if it is the last thing I do.”

“Please ma’am,” he gasped, “put me down now.” Mrs Hughs dropped him and, for the second time in both his life and that day, he crumpled against the radiator. “I’ll put on some tea…” he mumbled whilst getting up and courteously brushing himself down. Mrs Hughs followed his pattering steps as he trotted around the facility into the staff room kitchenette. She stood there in silence as he made them both a warm cup of tea, and then checked the files and took her to see her sister. He did so with much personal regret, but figured that there was not much he, nor anyone, could do about it. But his thoughts were halted, for on passing the body upon the autopsy table, Mrs Hughs was distracted.

“Is this Prince Adam?” she inquired, prodding the corpse with one of her sausage fingers, “unfortunate old sod. Wasn’t he involved in tax scandals or some shit back in the day? And what the fuck is he doing here?”

“Oh… him. Yes, we do forensic analysis but we also, on special occasions, do a deep-freezing service,” said Windsor, “Recent Royalty policy, you see– international tension and all. But I believe, ma’am, that he is here because he is dead.”

“Shut up,” snapped Mrs Hughs, before taking a sip and randomly inquiring, “Did you put sugar in my tea?”

“You never asked, ma’am,” said Windsor.

“That’s ridiculous, you should always put sugar in a woman’s tea! I take seven,” exclaimed Mrs Hughs. Windsor looked at her curiously, internally debated the existence of God, and then proceeded to take her tea.

“Your sister is in fridge 3, no. 79974,” he said, writing it down on a sheet of notepad with a pen from his pocket, “be quick.” He walked back to the kitchenette and realised that his reflection in the kettle, albeit more warped than the corpse mirror, was the more accurate of the two, he was overcome by a momentary flurry of envy for it.

“I can’t find it! Come here and help me, you stupid man!” bellowed Mrs Hughs before Windsor could finish his seven sugary, and cubic, plops. He clenched his teeth, marched towards Mrs Hughs, and felt very angry; and as he walked, the twinkles from the mortuary lights jumped from the cup of tea and skated backwards across his bald head. Once again, he passed Prince Adam, but this time stopped; and stirred her cup of tea with one of his royal rigour-mortis stiffened fingers. He walked a bit further down the corridor to where she stood gaping and lost.

“May I ask what you want to do with her body when you find it?” he inquired, passing her the death-knighted cup of tea, which she happily sipped.

“It is none of your business,” remarked Mrs Hughs.

“Well, if you want to alter her cause of death – which seems to be from a heavy hallucinogenic poison – you must realise that she is already dead. Any further forensics will show an altering of the corpse, and then the CCTV will be checked, and they will see you.” She looked at him curiously.

“The CCTV has been turned off, I’ve seen to that,” she menaced. “But how do you know anything of my intentions.”

“I have also been sent her will,” he said, promptly. “And I am rather good at making assumptions about people like yourself.” At this moment Mrs Hughs suddenly pulled out a blade from her pocket and pushed its tip slightly into the front of Windsor’s throat.

“Listen here,” she said, “you will show me the body, you will let me do my business, and then you will forget this ever happened. Or you are a dead man.” Too terrified to gulp, he instead very subtly nodded in agreement. She let him go. Windsor looked into her massive, pale forehead and saw his reflection in her sweat, and wondered if she, too, was scared.

“Fridge 3 is at the end of the corridor,” said Windsor, “I will continue with my work, and then you will leave.” Mrs Hughs disappeared down the winding corridor and Windsor sighed from relief, but he had barely put his gloves back on when another thudding was heard from the door. “Oh what now…” he muttered, but then it hit him. Police! But what would he say? She threatened him, he had no choice. Yes, surely that is enough, she must be down on record. Thus he opened the door with a smile, but it instantaneously drooped when he saw who, or what, was on the other side.

“Yo bro, what’s’app ?” said a man with a cap the wrong way around.

“Go away,” said Windsor, and slammed the door in his face. There was silence, and then the knocking began again. Slowly it turned into bashing, and from bashing into thumping, and soon Windsor was scared that the door was going to fly from its hinges so, once again, he opened it. “I don’t know what you want from me, but please leave me alone I have a very busy –,” but he stopped, for despite the baggy sunflower tracksuits and the backwards cap, Windsor recognised this man. Mouth agasp, he exclaimed “Brian Buster! Gosh, what brings you down this neck of the woods? It’s been a while…”

“Ten months three days man,” said Brian, “how’s the grind running?”

“It’s good, Brian, it’s good. All the more work without you here, but, I am coping,” replied Windsor, “just about… How is life treating you since your mum passed, and all?”

“You know, I realised I just gotta be more self-accepting an’ all,” said Brian, readjusting his cap a bit, “an’ realise that, yo, actually, I’m in control; I’m in this body for a reason. But I don’t need no reason, just bein’ is enough already.”

“What do you mean?”

“When a rock falls, where it lands don’t matter; but if it chose to land somewhere, then that time it really do matter.”


“Don’t you ever feel no robot inside ya? ‘cause I did, but you really can change the world, Windsor, you just gotta believe and you gotta do. You can do anything man.” Brian put his hand on Windsor’s shoulder.

“Well, not exactly anything…” began Windsor. “When are you coming back to work? Brian looked at him strangely.

“Hadn’t you heard no news?” he asked, “I ain’t comin’ back no more. That’s it, the old me’s finished. I don’t want no dead people to sit with, I wanna enjoy being alive an’ stuff. I don’t feel no fulfilment in there, but out here, oh man, I do.” Windsor shuffled awkwardly against the door.

“Well, I’m awfully sorry to hear that, I hadn’t been told…”

“No worries man. Hey, how’s this for an idea: quit and join me?”

“Join you with what? I’m no Faust…”

“And I ain’t no Satan, your world is built from your tiny eyes. Ya can’t think bigger than ya can, or look past what ya can.” Brian paused and sighed. “Just quit man, go grab life in the nuts. Shank uncle sam in the gob, and leave him to die.”

Windsor glanced over to where a picture of his wife and daughter hung besides the door; their mahogany eyes, subtle smiles, chocolatey cheeks.

“It was lovely to see you again, Brian. Unfortunately, I have work to attend, but please do come back to visit soon,” said Windsor. After much farewell, and some more catchup, Brian decided to depart and be off on his merry way.


And so the Prince’s autopsy was completed, and Windsor wheeled the royal death bed towards the new deep freezer. His keycard pushed against the keypad and was accepted with a bleep followed by a cold-breathed sigh. The doors clunked open, exhaling great swathes of icy smoke from within; and slowly it thinned, and a silhouette began painting itself within the freezer’s misty shadows. Windsor cautiously stepped towards it in the frigid darkness, and noticed the advent of a sausage-like hand attached to a large wrist. As the mist cleared some more, he saw the figures’ bulging eyes and furious expression, its fissured countenance violently engraved with a frosty finish, like a statue; a statue made from cow’s milk vanilla ice cream. But Windsor stood aghast, for there, within the deep freezer, was Mrs Hughs; and he noted that for the first time since he met her, she was silent. Of course, the question of how she succumbed to such a death was nothing short of a mystery, however he worried of no such matters then. Only one thought crossed the mind of Windsor Wentworth on that evening:

“I need a holiday,” he muttered.

Philip Theodoru

Consequences is a story by Philip Theodoru and Lucien Smith which will be serealised – we will publish one chapter per issue so keep your eye out for the next chapter by Lucien Smith!

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