The Diary of a Research Assistant

  • I was bored so I'd thought share my unfinished story of Alister with y'all. I still have a lot to do with it and will take a while to finish but I'll post the rest of it eventually.

    [ffstory]14th June 2004

    Today is the day I start this diary, and a new job. And who am I? My name is Alister Vikram Fletcher. I was born in 1978, in the exotic country of India to Kalindi Tambe and Bartholomew Fletcher. I was raised in Father’s home country which, of course, is England. My education was a strict one. I was sent from school to school and finally settled in the top private school for boys. I wasn’t the most popular at school but Mother wanted me to take my education seriously, so I did and ended up with top marks. I was somewhat of a child prodigy. When I was seventeen years of age, I had the opportunity to get into Cambridge early. Father urged me to take History, Geography, Philosophy and Archaeology. I enjoyed them and excelled in all of them. Father wanted me to follow in his footsteps and work for Croft Industries, a company that recovers ancient artefacts. The founder, Richard Croft, had funded my studies.

    A month or so ago, Father told me that Croft’s missing daughter had been found in Plymouth as a convict stowaway in late 2003. The poor girl was brought in trembling with shock. Father had offered me a job to take care of things for her. Oh, I have to go now! My train is due to arrive in a few minutes.

    22nd June 2004

    Lady Lara is a delightful woman, though still traumatised by her ordeal. She made such an effort make me feel welcome. We engaged in very intriguing conversations of our travels and knowledge. The only thing about her that irritates me are her large…mammary glands. What man would find that attractive?

    Her butler, Winston, does everything for her. It is a bloody shame! He explained that she used to be daring and adventurous and almost always put her own life in danger. She’s so different now. She is quiet and reluctant to do anything. I can’t help but feel sorry for her. I hope she recovers soon. The tech man, a very nice African-American who goes by the name of Zip, has been at Croft Manor for several years, since ’98 I believe. He is loud and sloppy but lovable. I’m sure I will enjoy working with all of these interesting people.

    15th July 2004

    I am devastatingly, horrifically, terribly, distressingly fatigued. It is currently 5:32am. I have been working for weeks, researching the key of the city of Antioch for Lara. It made me titter at the time when she ordered me to research it. All I could think of was Monty Python and the Holy Grail!

    Lara thinks she is well enough to work now. But Winston and Zip contradict the idea. I must say, I don’t approve either and I’ve only been here for a month. Just yesterday, Winston was trying to persuade her to visit the doctor. She was livid. “ I haven’t seen Dr. Young since I was four years old, why should I see him now?! Especially when I’m perfectly healthy? That’ll just waste his time!” she was yelling. Winston was calm but in his eyes, you could see the worry and concern. “ You are not well. You’ve had a terrible past. I think you should prolong your break,” the dear old man shook violently as he said this. Zip called me from up the stairs, so I couldn’t watch the rest of their disagreement.

    25th July 2004

    Lara finally reached Antioch this morning but for some strange reason, she had a panic attack. Zip, Winston and I were in the Tech Room communicating to her through the computer. Zip was the first to hear the frightening wheezing sounds. I heard the startling groan and the thud that followed. Winston began to cry and I was too stunned to speak. Zip telephoned for an air ambulance. Lara was flown back to England and to a hospital.

    Seeing her with the oxygen mask and wires attached to her was sickening. She looked so pale, weak and helpless. Winston wanted time alone with her. I didn’t know why, and Zip didn’t either. As I watched them both through the window, it was like watching a father and daughter. They were so sweet together. It was like they had a special bond. I asked Zip what happened to Richard but he refused to answer.

    Lara has to be kept in overnight so we all went back to the mansion, exhausted. Winston went straight to bed, even though it was only 8:30pm. Zip and I stayed up for a while. We talked about our interests and hobbies. I sound like a bloody boffin next to Zip. I like reading History and Philosophy, Gilbert & Sullivan musicals, Monty Python, and Louis Armstrong. Zip likes baseball, skateboarding, basketball, swimming, computers, cooking and punk music and he thinks rap is ‘’k.’ When we finally went up to bed, I got upset again and I asked my new friend if I could sleep in with him. He agreed but I have to sleep on the sofa.

    26th July 2004

    Last night was a disaster. I discovered an embarrassing secret of Zip’s. Apart from having a chronic snoring problem, he talks in his sleep. Last night, he sounded awfully like that Barry White person. It was quite difficult not to laugh. I wonder what he was dreaming about? …No, actually, I don’t!

    Winston received word from the hospital. Lara is fine and she can come home later this afternoon. Thank goodness. The doctor said she can’t work again for at least two months. She’ll be ready then, I’m positive.

    In celebration, Zip wanted me to take a whizz on Lara’s quadbike. NO BLOODY WAY! It was a rusty old thing and it looked like it was about to fall apart at any second. I gasped and cringed in horror whenever Zip did a complicated move. The noise from the revving engine made my ears bleed, literally. Why can’t Zip sit down and have a relaxing read of some interesting literature?

    31st July 2004

    Lara has become more independent now. This morning, she cooked her own breakfast (her favourite food - baked beans on toast.) We were so proud of her. I can’t help but feel pleased and cheerful. At least, she is taking baby steps and not biting off more than she can chew. I don’t want to sleep with Zip again. Not much going on today, I think I will read some Nietzsche. I haven’t read any of him in years.

    4th August 2004

    Anaya Imanu? Who the devil is she? She just randomly turned up on the doorstep. She was very friendly though, and she told amusing stories and she was fun to be with. She and Lara were very alike. They could have been sisters. She wanted to know how Lara’s mental health is. I guess a certain someone has been keeping friends up to date. I asked her how she knew Lara and she asked in response, “ Aren’t you Lara’s new guy?” Zip later told me I blushed. I swear I didn’t! But if he tells anyone else, I’ll tell them about his Barry White issue.

    Anyway, you might be wondering where Lara was in all of this. She never got to see Anaya. She went out for a drive on her motorbike and came back hours later. God knows what she was doing. As Anaya was leaving, she turned to me and whispered in my ear, “ Give this to Lara. Whatever you do, don’t read it,” and she thrust a tatty old book into my hands. It had Mr. Croft’s initials printed on it. “ She left it with me in Peru. I’ve had it for fifteen years and I wanted to give it back. She’d miss it, I know it.” Zip gave me a sideward look, as if he knew what it contained. I promised the woman that I’d give it to its owner but I didn’t promise about the latter.

    When no one was looking, I smuggled the book into my study. I opened it. It had an unpleasant odour and the pages were yellow with age but intact. I read the first line of the book, “ 14th February, 1968: My daughter was born this afternoon and I’m already obsessed with her.” I carried on reading and discovered a disturbing secret. Richard wrote that Amelia went missing but Lara believed she was dead because she saw it happen. Despite this, he carried on searching for clues and no one believed him. He revealed he was so depressed that he seriously thought about suicide but he knew he had to keep on living to find out what happened to his beautiful Amelia. I felt sick. I couldn’t believe the founder of Croft Industries would even think about committing suicide. Right at that moment, I realised there was more to Lara than people thought.

    9th August 2004

    There’s been a change in Lara’s meek behaviour. She seems a lot happier now and I’m glad about it. This could be a chance to meet the proper tough, determined, athletic tomb raider at her finest. She could even be working soon. I believe in her. She may never know this but she will always have my support. She, Winston and Zip are my dearest and only friends and I love them all, I’ll support them no matter what.

    Mother is ill. Father says it is only the flu but when I was talking to him on the phone, I sensed that he was lying. There were several times, as a child, when he lied to me about quite important things. When Grandmama died, he told me she was going travelling all over the world, and even wrote letters to me from her. After that, I could never trust him ever again. I hate Father sometimes. He is so pushy and stuck up; all he cares about is himself.

    10th August 2004

    Winston and Lara had a night out with a friend of Richard’s, so Zip and I had the whole manor to ourselves. He started up the computer and clicked onto a porno website. He was clearly enjoying it. He excused himself to the lavatory and left me alone with the computer. The nightmarish images made want to die. I wanted to look away but I couldn’t. All I could do was roll up in a tiny ball, covering ears and shutting my eyes to block out the surroundings. Suddenly, I felt a tight squeeze on my shoulder. It was Zip. When I finally stood up, he burst out laughing. “ What, are you GAY?!” he joked. I didn’t say anything; I just scoffed and stormed off to the study. I was rather offended by the comment, which isn’t true.

    He tried to apologise but I just blanked him. He walked off, dragging his feet along with him. He was distraught. As the time approached dinner, I heard Zip’s heavy leather boots stamp the wooden floor in the hallway. His voice was muffled and quiet but I managed to hear him. “ Look, I’m sorry about the porn. I just wanted to guy-bond with you, and I’m sorry if you were offended when I called you gay. I’m sorry; I didn’t mean it!” I feel awful. I don’t want to shut my best friend out but I’m just so mad at him.

    13th August 2004

    Still no change on the Zip front. We’re giving each other silent treatment now. Since Lara and the butler weren’t around that evening, they keep asking us what’s wrong. I want to confess everything to Miss. Croft but I can’t bring myself.

    Father rang today. He said Mother’s flu has worsened and she’s hospitalised for pneumonia. I’m so worried and confused about everything. Why am I so angry with Zip? Should I tell the others about the fight? Will he forgive me for ignoring him? Is Father lying? Is Mother all right? Will she die? Tell me what to do!

    14th August 2004

    Zip and I are friends again. It’s a long story, so I will start at the very beginning. At breakfast, Lara announced fantastic news. She told everyone that she had been using the gym at night and had taken to it like a fish to water, a bird to the sky. Winston was over the moon. Zip comically yelled out, “ Ye-ah! Do your thang, girl!” he threw his arms up, flew from his chair and did a little dance. I stifled an immature giggle. I never really approved of monkeying but it made me laugh a tremendously huge amount. I think he might have noticed it. He had an odd look on his face. Later, Lara showed us what she can do. I ooh’d and aw’d in amazement. She was a pretty sight, jumping and swinging across the room. At the end of the display, Winston began to clap and we young lads followed suit. This little applause transformed into manic screaming within seconds. Zip whistled and he raised his hand for a High-5 but he realised we were still rowing. It made me feel really guilty. He was making a bloody good effort to be friends with me.

    Winston butted in. His kind, old face was turned upside down as he frowned. He took us both by the ear in his gloved hands and flung us onto the sofa by the fireplace in the foyer. He towered over us like some horrible dictator. He put his hands on his hips and bellowed, “ What the hell is wrong with you two?! You’re acting really very childish!! I don’t know what happened but this has got to stop. It’s gone on long enough,” he finally ended with. I hung my head in shame. I had to agree, it was childish. “ Alister, do you wish to speak?” Winston snapped. “ Yes,” I said, and I apologised and Zip apologised. He gave me a warm hug and he bashed me on the back. I knew it was meant to be friendly, but it was painful. I’m really glad that we’ve made up. It was difficult to act irate all the time. I’m just glad it’s over.

    27th August 2004

    This was the worst birthday I ever had. I wish it was over. I wish I was dead. It started out just like any other birthday. Winston presented me sweet smelling cologne which he had made himself. Zip bought me a crash helmet with ‘Biker Chick’ written on it in big pink letters. He explained that he was going to teach me to be macho, by using his skateboard. Lara gifted me with a book. It was titled The Mayan World of Artefacts. She smiled and announced she was getting back to work soon.

    Zip was going to treat me to a trip to the pictures and a night on the town. I was looking forward to it, greatly, until I received a heartbreaking telephone call from Mother. She revealed that she only had one month to live. She also told me that it wasn’t pneumonia, but cancer of the stomach. I was enraged with Father who failed to mention that one little detail to his son. I was so depressed from losing my mother. She was a sweet lady who was kind and honest to everyone, unlike some. She made the best curry in the whole world.

    After the call had ended, I vomited and burst into tears and I don’t know what happened next. I awoke in my bed with a doctor and Zip hovering over the bed. My head hurt terribly and I couldn’t see that well; everything was grey and hazy and I could only manage to make out the two people. The doctor said I had a nasty fall and might have a concussion. He advised me to rest for now, but if Lara’s working, I’d be out of action. Zip explained he had found me collapsed on the floor and immediately came to my aid. I’m bloody grateful for him, I can tell you.

    1st September 2004

    Winston has hired an assistant for me, a young intern named Edwin Morgan. He must be in his late teens or early twenties. It is his first proper job, and he is very nervous. He suffers from a stammer which gets in the way of things. Last night when Lara needed information for a Mayan god, Edwin was so excited that he must have stammered fifty thousand times! In the end, Zip had to ‘translate’ and he got confused with the information and misinterpreted “ As Ixtab hung herself from the rope, a poor Mayan farmer tried to save her life but she whipped him with the rope which killed him too,” as “ Abs are fab, a tongue is for dopes and Maya Farter is a hot chick.” That meant that the tomb raider did the rest of the mission for the wrong reasons. Poor Edwin. He means well but I wish his stammer would be treated.

    30th September 2004

    Edwin resigned last week, because I have made a full recovery and he felt he didn’t belong in Croft Manor; he wanted to work somewhere else, probably closer to home. Before he left, I advised him to get his stammer fixed and he said he would. He also told me that I was his biggest hero. I can’t tell you how flattered I was! I’ll miss the lad but life goes on. Speaking of which, there is still no news from Mother. I want to be with her…when it happens, except I’m needed here. God bless the woman.

    16th November 2004

    I apologise for the extended absence. Lara granted me a break so I could be with Mother. She died last night. She looked peaceful and happy. I am going to the reading of the will in a couple of days. Father shouted at me, saying I was demolished from the will because I was a bastard; nothing but a result of an affair. I loathe him with all my heart now. I want to kill him but I just can’t bring myself. I know Mother would never cheat on Father.

    20th November 2004

    I want to go home and see Zip. The meeting was catastrophic. Mother left me £12,500 and the infamous curry recipe. In her will, it said that I was the most beautiful son any mother could wish for and that she was sorry to leave me at such a tender age. She gave £6,000 to Father and she said the rest was to go to Cancer Research UK. The will said the money wasn’t much but as the saying goes, ‘every little helps.’ Father was infuriated and he pushed me up against a wall and threatened to kill me, if I didn’t give him my share of Mother’s money. I burst into tears and ran off. It was all I could do, without Zip’s helmet, I felt as helpless as an infant. I just want to get out of here! I never want to see Father EVER again! My life is over!

    21st November 2004

    I’ve decided to come home a week early. I was supposed to be organising my mother’s funeral but I can’t care less now. Father isn’t talking to me and I him. Not even Winston can sort this fight out. I always sensed that Father resented me in some way but I never thought he’d threaten horrific things. I wonder what the others are going to think. I have to go now; I’m packing my clothes away.

    23rd November 2004

    I came home yesterday afternoon. Zip greeted me at the train station. No one else was there. When I spotted him after getting off the train, I rushed over and held his face in trembling hands. There was a glint of tears in his eye. I let out a heavy breath and my hands fell down his back and we hugged. Zip rested his head on my mine. As he walked me to the van, people stared at us and sniggered behind our backs, but I didn’t care.

    Winston was slightly terrified by my sudden appearance back in Croft Manor. He kept rubbing his bug-like eyes in disbelief. He asked me what was I doing here and I just answered that this is my home. Lara was very annoyed with me. She was absolutely furious that I’d just run away without a proper goodbye to Mother. I’m twenty six years old, I can do whatever I want!

    24th November 2004

    I don’t know what I’ve done just now, but I’m slightly scared by it. It was 12:34am and Zip was having a few ‘brewskis’ and I was telling him about what happened with my father. As I watched him, slumped back on the sofa with the bottle in his hand and his rippling muscles illuminated by the fire, there was this strange pang inside me. I lent in close to him and he turned his head in slight shock. I cupped his face in my hands. He dropped the bottle and squeezed my arms. I kissed him. I grabbed his thigh and moaned with pleasure. Zip grunted and then pulled away. “ No!” he cried. He faced the fire. “ That never leaves this room…”

    It was a bizarre and baffling experience. The treachery of the world around us melted away to nothing. The only thing that mattered was us and I couldn’t help but like it. It was an extremely beautiful moment and I want to experience it again but…Was this the last piece of my sexuality waning?

    25th November 2004

    I’m still confused about last night. Zip’s been acting weird since then. He’s usually loud and joking around. Today, he just sat at the computer all day and didn’t say a word to me. I need help! I’ve fluffed up everything! I want to explain the kiss but I can’t! I’m so bloody stupid! I want Mother and I want Lara.

    28th November 2004

    I’ve confessed the kiss to Winston. I was in tears when I told him but he laughed at me, right in my face. He asked me what my feelings are towards Zip. I love Zip, I do. But I love him as my only best friend. I don’t want our relationship jeopardised by this vast mistake.

    Winston sat Zip down and left us alone. Zip told me that he was disgusted by what he did and confessed he enjoyed it slightly too. He said he can’t stop thinking about it. I told him I was relieved to get it out of my system and that I’m bewildered and puzzled. What if he was right, by saying I’m gay? Of course, there was a time with my first girlfriend when I was twenty two. I didn’t feel any love for her but with Zip, I did. Zip finally mumbled in an awkward tone of voice, “ ‘S all right, dude. No sweat.” He chuckled nervously and I did too. I feel so wonderful now that I’ve gotten it off of my chest and I’m also relieved that Lara knows nothing about it, unless we can’t trust Winston but I’m sure he’ll keep our problems confidential.

    1st December 2004

    Because I will no longer enjoy the company of Father, I’ve asked Zip to spend Christmas (and his birthday, which is tomorrow) with him and his family. He is over the moon about the arrangement and we’re going flying to Florida tonight. I’m very excited! It will be splendid to meet the rest of Zip’s family. It’s a big one, unlike mine.
    I’d be meeting his eccentric Grammy Rosa, his father Finlay, his mother Louise, his five brothers Rodney, Randall, Rex, Ronan and Ralph (apparently Zip had a sixth brother named Ricky, who was shot in a gang fight seven years ago) and his three sisters, Beverley, Meryl and Godiva. I can’t wait to meet them.

    2nd December 2004

    Zip turns thirty four years old today and I forgot to buy him a present. Sod it.

    Ms. Rosa is indeed eccentric. She is very, very, very, very Jamaican. She wears traditional clothing all the time and she is a kind old lady. She is a somewhat reminiscent of my mother. When I first saw her come out of the house to greet her grandson, the first thing that came out of her mouth was, “ We don’t like no pooftas ‘ere, sweet darlin’!” Zip laughed awkwardly. It was obvious that he was embarrassed. “ Don’t worry, Grammy, he’s a friend,” and Rosa snapped at him, “ Shuddup, Reginald!” Wait a moment! Reginald?! No wonder he changed his name to Zip.

    Finlay is a very interesting man. He is a retired baseball player and now fixes cars. He’s big and plump and he smiles far too much. He, like Zip, loves playing with computers and the family has a whole room dedicated to computers throughout the ages. Tonight, he made a beautiful meal of spaghetti bolognaise. It was the best spag bol I ever tasted. Why can’t my cooking taste like his?

    Louise is a workaholic. She works for a computer firm. Surprise! Surprise! She’s working late tonight so I haven’t met her yet. I’m not sure if I want to.

    Zip’s brothers and sisters are very nice. Rodney has brought along his wife and teenage daughter. Godiva, Zip’s nineteen year old sister, has taken quite a shine to me. Her legs turn to jelly whenever I’m in the same room. I hope it isn’t an awful schoolgirl crush. Beverley and Meryl are identical, not in looks but in ways. They’re chatterboxes! At dinner, they wouldn’t stay quiet, though their husbands are very lucky to have them.

    Rex isn’t very nice. Earlier, I needed the men’s bathroom so I could dress into my nightclothes. As I was approaching the door, he shoved me aside and snarled at me like a frenzied dog. Zip later warned me about his behaviour. He was in the same gang fight as Ricky and he survived, opposed to Ricky’s brutal death. He blames himself. It’s rather ridiculous, I know, but I am empathetic.

    3rd December 2004

    I suffered a bloody nose this afternoon. It was a sunny day so they decided to have a game of baseball. I was terrified. Thank goodness I brought the ‘Biker Chick’ helmet with me. I stood there, quaking in my boots as my turn to bat arrived. Unfairly, Finlay was the pitcher. He chucked the ball as hard as his professional arm could, and it smacked me right in the face. I was knocked unconscious. When I woke up, my helmet had been removed, and I saw Rosa hovering above me, babbling something under her breath. I could see Godiva’s bottom lip quivering. Finlay, Rodney, Ronan and Zip lifted my flaccid limbs and carried me back to the house. My nose hurt like hell!

    The next thing I know, Godiva was wiping away the blood with a clean damp cloth. She was smiling and giggling but said nothing. I must say, she’s a rather good nurse. I asked if she was in university or not. She said in a breathless, timid voice that she doesn’t care about university. All she wants is to marry me and mother my children. Poor Godiva. I had to reprimand her; I told her that I’m flattered but a romantic relationship would never work. I think she may have been offended by it. She pinched the bridge of my nose and stormed off to her room. She refused to come out for the rest of the day. Grammy Rosa blamed me and insulted me at dinner. Finlay wasn’t impressed and Rex looked like he was about to brandish a gun in my forehead. Zip attempted at defending me but failed. After a long pause, Ralph agreed with his baby brother. Crowd psychology followed; everyone else mumbled, “ I suppose so, yeah,” and “ He’s not all bad,” and “ Godiva’s only young anyway.” Thank goodness for Zip.

    6th December 2004

    Godiva has forgiven me and we’ve become quite good friends. We have many things in common. There is a shrine and an array of posters of Louis Armstrong in her bedroom and there is a History book on her bedside table. She also hums songs from Pirates of Penzance and usually belts out Three Little Maids From School while out riding her hand-me-down bicycle around the neighbourhood. It is a delight watching her whizz around the empty roads. She offered to give me a go, but being a bloody coward I declined.

    Zip has decided not to celebrate Kwanzaa with Louise’s side of the family. He and his siblings usually do, apparently. Zip wants to get back to the UK as soon as possible. It is peculiar for him, he loves the Everglades which is where the family hail from.

    17th December 2004

    Zip and the lads gave me a few days’ tour of the Everglades. (The women decided to stay at home, to take care of the house.) We have just come back tonight. It was a thrilling experience! It is more beautiful than India. I’ve never seen anything so extravagant. The air boat was my personal favourite part of the whole tour. The sky was clear, the wind was chilly and the water sparkled in the sunlight. It was wonderful, though I do miss Lara and Winston.

    Godiva was ecstatic when she saw me come through the door this evening. She jumped into my arms for a hug and everyone laughed, including myself. Her silliness is quite entertaining. We all had one big African style meal together.

    21st December 2004

    Don’t tell anyone but I’ve gotten Zip a brilliant Christmas present. It is a rare, vintage baseball personally signed by the deceased Jackie Robinson, whoever that is. I cannot wait to give to him. Imagine what his face will be like! Not only have I bought Zip a present but Godiva and Rosa too. I got them both nice looking bath bombs that might interest the two ladies. I wonder they have bought me? Something poofy, no doubt.

    29th December 2004

    As we approach the new year, I feel unsatisfied with this past year. I have lost both my parents, met superb friends, made questioning errors, obtained the greatest career my life has ever seen. 2005 seems like a long way off even though it is only around the corner. What it will have in store for Alister Fletcher, I do not know, only time will tell. [/ffstory]

  • [ffstory]1st January 2005

    New Years’ Eve was an amusing shindig. Winston drank too much wine and began to tell stories of World War Two. Zip received a telephone call from a mysterious woman named Lisha and was up in his bedroom for the rest of the night. Winston pressurised me into dancing along to the Macarena. Lara was in hysterics as I attempted the moves. Soon after Winston passed out, Lara carried him up the steep staircase to his bedroom.

    Afterward, Lara and I started to chat by the fire. She explained that Winston loved New Year when she was a child, and always drank himself silly. Richard never approved of this, apparently, and once banned alcohol. The butler found a way to smuggle it in the house and Amelia was accused! It must have been great to have been in the mansion during those times.

    18th January 2005

    Lara is preparing for the first mission of the year. She’s training like mad! Currently, I am studying astronomy. It is rather dull. According to Giorgio Lombardi, the man who assigned the mission, the stars will align at approximately 11:16pm, 7th February and when that happens, the whole planet will be terminated. Lara must find the Azzuro Gem deep in the bowels of an ancient Italian Orthodox church and place it on the top of the weathervane. Then, lightning will strike it, preventing the explosion in process.

    Zip, on the other hand, is doing naught. He is brooding and sulking. I have tried to discuss the problem but my endeavours are nothing but failures. He keeps yelling at me, ordering me to leave him be. He seems so helpless and alone. I need to be there for him. He’s my friend and I am going to discover the secret behind his behaviour.

    25th January 2005

    Zip caved and revealed all. He had fathered a son. The woman, Lisha, had rung to ‘calmly’ inform him that they are flying over to England, to see him. Apparently, she rushed over to the Everglades house only to find that he had just departed for the airport.

    He’s scared about everything. He is frightened about a meeting ‘some dumb old kid ‘cause of some dumb old paren’al test.’ He is petrified about meeting Lisha again. He had whispered in my ear that he was still truly, eternally in infatuation with her. As he broke down in tears, I promised him I would be with him when he meets his child. Obviously, I would have anyway; I would never abandon any of my friends.

    6th February 2005

    Time is drawing near, for both Lara and Zip. Lara has attained the Azzuro Gem but is in a perplexing predicament. The weathervane has broken off of the roof and she has less than 24 hours to retrieve it and climb up the tallest tower. Zip has less than half an hour to meet his son. I swear he’s fretting. He’s jittery and mute. He was appreciative for my comforting pat on the back this morning. He squeezed my hand in gratitude and let out a sigh of confusion.

    7th February 2005

    Zip was as silent as the stars when he clambered into the driver’s seat of the van. At first, he laid his heavy head on the steering wheel with his eyes closed. I could hear him breathe shakily. Hastily, I proceed to speak, “ I know you’re scared about meeting this boy. But you’re his father. Imagine growing up not knowing who you are.” Zip looked at me and boomed, “ He HAS a father and it’s NOT me. Lisha’s married for God’s sake!” At long last, he started up the engine and drove to Le Monde de L’amour, a French restaurant which is one of Zip’s favourites.

    Zip searched around for the pretty Black girl and her son. I spotted them. They were sitting at the back of the restaurant, right next to the lavatory. The poor man’s legs turned to jelly as he coolly strode over to them, with me following behind. There was a deathly awkward silence until Lisha spoke in an irritated tone of voice, “ Cameron, this is Zip. Your…biological father.” Cameron looked like a sweet boy. He is twelve years old and is the dullest child in the world. All he talked about was his bloody Science lessons in school. It was if he had had his whole youth sucked out of him. Lisha explained to me that she was married to a Caucasian Jew at the same time when she and Zip were together. Her husband had always had doubts and last year, finally demanded for a paternity test which came back as negative.

    At the end of the evening, as Zip and I were trudging through the damp car park to the van, Lisha approached him and asked him if he’d like to be with her in private, to catch up on things. His face lit up and he grinned from ear to ear and couldn’t say no.

    8th February 2005

    I won’t report on Zip’s date with Lisha. Frankly, I don’t want to know what they did last night. All I know is that she’s just left with Cameron this morning. Despite this, Zip has promised me that he kept his hands off her. Lara (who stumbled back home alive at some point during the night) did make me laugh awfully a lot. As Lisha was leaving with her son, she said, “ Alister, if I should ever have a man in my room, punch his lights out.” Winston just gave her that I-Don’t-Think-That’s-Very-Mature look.
    I have to go now. I suggested cooking Mother’s curry for everyone for dinner.

    13th February 2005

    We all treated Lara for one huge dinner. It is her thirty seventh birthday tomorrow but she has to work and she feels slightly disheartened. Winston had worked all afternoon at baking a delicious chocolate cake until Zip charged in and barked at him, saying he was doing it all wrong. So Zip cooked the rest of the meals for the day. He was acting so bossy today. I guess he wanted to make Lara happy.

    Me? I just watched the pair quarrel all afternoon. Seeing people argue has always upset me. Father used to make Mother bawl, on frequent occasions. Whenever I tried to put it right, he screamed at me and Mother would stop him from being violent. Zip’s behaviour reminded me of the conniving beast and I hated it.

    Later on, I had had enough. I stormed off to the study, stamping my feet along the way like a stubborn teenager. I had to lose myself. On a shelf at the top of the stairs, I found Moby Dick. I opened it immediately which met meant I didn’t hear Lara Croft sneaking into my sanctuary. She must have been there for a long time because I was almost finished reading the glorious tale. She asked what was wrong with me. I didn’t understand my own behaviour. I confessed that thinking about Father disturbed me, austerely. Lara said nothing. She simply gave me a comforting smile. Her face was different and I liked it.

    20th February 2005

    Zip has received a letter from his parents recently. It was inform him that Grammy Rosa has died. And that Godiva is moving to Kent because she has the job of a PA to the CEO of the BBC. Trouble is coming! I’d better hide!

    The news of Rosa’s death has depressed Zip. There is a box by the computer desk and he has been showing me a variety of fading photographs of a young Rosa. Winston, a somewhat expert on bereavement, gave him a suggestion. According to the dear old butler, relaxation is the thing. Therefore, Zip went to the swimming pool and his melancholy emotions melted away. He looked very grand and majestic in his bright green Speedo’s with his body glistening with dampness and as he jumped off the highest diving board. I went with him and I admit I’m not the strongest of swimmers; I just gripped onto the side with all my might. My friend laughed at me and taught me how to overcome my fears. And after that morning, he’s been back to his old self. Glad I could…help? Now he is elated that his baby sister has an important job over ‘the big pond’.

    Lara has finished her mission and is very exhausted. It is currently 1:11pm and she’s still asleep in bed!

    23rd February 2005

    I have received a letter from my mother’s sister, Auntie Sana. She wrote to say that Father wishes to meet me, after the previous year’s unpleasantness. I just feel sick at the thought. She explained the reason behind it. Apparently, he has swallowed his pride and enrolled in an anger management class. He feels happier now and wants to patch things with me. I don’t believe Sana OR Father.

    I will write back (in very bad Hindi because I have chosen to learn Mother’s language) to say that I will never see Father again, no matter how well or ill he appears to be. I am never going to speak to that monstrous creature ever again! I spit on him!

    24th February 2005

    Forgive my temper yesterday. The acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree. I began to write the letter to Auntie Sana and had trouble with it. Orally, I can say “ I apologise that it is my choice not to communicate with Father,” without any problems but I cannot write it. Zip told me Lara learnt Hindi a few years ago so I sought her for help. I told her what to say and she wrote it all down. She is going to teach me more. I feel quite silly. A former prodigy who needs help from a superior? Good Lord.

    This morning, Zip and I were in the swimming pool. He wanted to make sure that I was confident enough to swim under water. I wasn’t. Nothing drastic happened, like I nearly drowned or anything, but let’s just say Zip had to drag me to the side. We got into talking about Godiva, who would be arriving sometime in March. I asked him if it was all right for me to go out with her, obviously if the opportunity arose. It wasn’t because of her obsession with me. I developed feelings over the time we’ve been separated and I think I love her. He gave a very long lecture on how he wants to protect his family and made me promise him that I would never do anything to harm her, physically or emotionally. Of course I would never do that. I’m not a bloody beast.

    3rd March 2005

    Winston turns seventy five today. He said he hasn’t celebrated his birthday since the death of Lara’s parents nonetheless; Zip baked him a huge Victoria sponge cake which was delectable. He was rather surprised, his expression was hysterical. He soon relaxed after a slice.

    Shame Lara wasn’t here, she had to work again. I’m not entirely sure where she is. Last time we communicated, she was in the Australian Outback and hasn’t returned any of Zip’s phone calls since. I hope she’s all right.

    5th March 2005

    Godiva is finally here. She turned up in the mansion this morning, to see Zip, though she barely made eye contact with him. She was just drooling all over me. What is it about me that’s so irresistible? She was telling me through breathless slurs that she has rented a flat just on the outskirts of Kent with a girl named Guin. In the corner of my eye, I saw Zip giving me an odd look. Jealousy? I don’t know.

    Still no telephone calls from Lara. I’m getting worried. She could be lying face down in a ditch or worse. Winston said she has been able to get out of all kinds of scrapes alone before. He was reminded of something that happened in Egypt. I don’t know what, he refused to say more.

    9th March 2005

    Lara’s a crafty one. She had to go to Australia and find an old abandoned mine to find the Life Key but it had disappeared. It was never in Australia at all. It was in Hawaii and it isn’t called the Life Key but the Ola Ki and it belonged to Queen Lili‘uokalani. So, without telling us, she stole someone’s yacht and spent most of the time finding her way to the Hawaiian Islands. She’s still there, though and will remain there till next week probably.

    Not much to report here. Zip is emailing this woman he met on the internet, and he’s laughing like a little child. I hope he knows what he is doing. Winston has cracked open the liquor cabinet and is indulging himself in brandies, whiskies, wines and lagers. Dare I say “AA meeting”?

    22nd March 2005

    Father rang. He is desperate to see me and he really wants to make things right between us. He said Mother would have wanted it. True, but I’m standing by my decision. I loathe him and if he takes one step towards me, I’ll kill him. Lara disagreed and yelled at me, “ You only have one father in your lifetime! See him, he’s all you’ve got.” If she’s trying to make me feel guilty, it’s not working.

    Godiva also rang. Zip answered it and they conversed for a while, then she asked for me. It was a sickeningly adorable conversation. “ Have you ever thought about having children?” she questioned. I was as red as a beetroot. “ Uh…No…I h-haven’t r-really given it a-any thought. W-why?” I replied. “ Well, I have,” she said. “ With you. Uh, listen. I’m not working this weekend and I was wondering if you wanna get a coffee or somethin’?” I laughed, somewhat sheepishly. I agreed. She is a sweet girl after all.

    Zip has decided to meet up with this woman. Her name is Agnes and is apparently extremely beautiful. She has a fake tan, the longest platinum blonde hair I have ever seen and eyes to die for. I can see why Zip would be attracted to her but I suspect that her breasts are fake.

    24th March 2005

    Agnes came to the mansion today. She was not as beautiful as her photograph, close up she resembled Renee Zellweger. But she was funny and intriguing and intelligent. Zip stayed with her all of the time and wouldn’t let her out of his sight. At lunchtime, Winston and I ate alone because they were together in his bedroom. Lara was working yet again, she was in Madrid this time, looking for an ancient spell book for a sinister book collector named Dr. Illstone.

    Zip’s computer signalled for a communiqué from Lara and I had no idea how to open it. Winston did something to do the bloody thing and it froze. I ran to get the computer expert. I pressed my ear to the door to make sure they weren’t doing unsavoury acts. I pushed the door open and of course, the following image would give
    me nightmares for the next month, and induced vomit.

    That night, I decided to bring a few beers up for a chat. I wanted to apologise. Zip forgave me and he revealed a secret about me that I didn’t even know. He told me that I have gathered a lot of confidence from my life in Croft Manor. I’ve been ignoring Father (he agrees with me about our issue) and I’m going out with Godiva, I have admitted embarrassing mistakes. I’ve learnt to swim and my Hindi is coming along nicely.

    25th March 2005

    Oh good Lord! My date with Godiva is tomorrow and I am absolutely soiling myself. What should I do? What should I say? What should I WEAR?! I am going loopy over this. I need to go and ask Zip for advice but it is 2:13am. I can’t sleep because of Godiva. I can’t stop thinking about her and I know I’m going to fluff up tomorrow. I know it!
    Oh goodness me. Godiva’s so beautiful and cute. Her smile lights up my dreams and her laugh makes me laugh. I wish I could have reconciled my feelings before leaving America in December.

    26th March 2005

    We met up in town. At first, we were both nervous but she complimented me on my excellent choice of suit (thanks to her brother.) We went to look around the shops. Godiva saw this pretty necklace which she expressed much desire to, so I bought it for her. Then, we went for a coffee in the nearest Starbucks. We chatted for what seemed like hours. Our interests are almost identical. It’s unbelievable.

    We went for a walk and talked more. There was a pause. I saw Godiva smile awkwardly. She leant in close. I prayed for this to happen, but she sighed heavily and turned her head the opposite way. It wasn’t just a crush for her anymore, this was a real relationship and I had to make sure it would happen. I placed my hands on her shoulders and we grinned together. We held each other’s faces as we kissed passionately. I realised the time and had to leave that romantic scene.

    I was bursting with the news and Zip was overjoyed and proud of me. He isn’t even that bothered that my first relationship in years is with his sister. Lara laughed in disbelief. She asked me what I have done to the real Alister. Winston said I can make Mother’s curry again tonight because a man does the cooking, apparently. I’d better get started then. I love Godiva so much!

    2nd April 2005

    Lara has taken a break from tomb raiding. She has been taken on far too much that she can’t even handle. Her relaxation techniques are: swimming in the pool, listening to classical music, using the gym and taking her motorbike out for a drive around the estate. I would rather sit back with a book to dive into.

    Winston was working hard all afternoon. He was in the music room, fixing the strings on the harp. I tried to protest, since no old man should be put to such difficult work. He refused and told me he has been fixing the instruments since Amelia’s disappearance. According to the deceased Sir Richard, “ Amelia wouldn’t want to come home with her music all in a muddle.” I don’t understand why Lara still believes her mother is alive. She disappeared thirty years ago. It’s impossible!

    10th April 2005

    The April showers have started. The rain has confined us all inside. We’re going mad with cabin fever. Lara is pacing up and down by the fireplace, muttering under her breath. She desperately wants to raid tombs and defeat evil again. Winston’s sleeping pattern was disturbed a few days ago. He can’t sleep at night but sleeps during the day. Zip has been driving me up the bloody wall by singing that annoying song from Bambi. I’m not holding out too well either. I have the temptation of tapping the glass in my glasses. If I did that, I would be blind. In replacement of breaking my glasses, I have started scratching my name into the desk in the study. It is surprising that I haven’t carved ‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,’ yet.

    Godiva said she was going to ring but she hasn’t. She must be working or too busy having fun with her roommate. I’m sure she will soon.

    14th April 2005

    During the night, Zip received a very upsetting voice message on his mobile phone. It was from Godiva. She sounded awfully distressed. She was begging Zip to pick her up and bring her here, to Croft Manor. It sounded like she was crying. Zip’s happy face was torn apart with worry, and I didn’t help by crying. He was very determined and dashed straight to the van to save his sister.

    He didn’t care about me today; he needed to help Godiva and that was all what mattered to him. I wish I had a sibling like that. I wish I had a sibling at all.
    Winston, Lara and I all waited for hours in angst. Then we heard the huge front doors creaked open and in fell Godiva, into my arms. She was wet to the bone from the rain. Zip told everyone the whole story. There was no flat. There was no Guin. All of it was a lie because the poor girl felt inferior to her dear brother. She had been spending nights in homeless shelters and churches. But last night, she was caught red handed with pockets full of drugs and was caught by the police. It also cost the girl her job. According to her, they were planted by someone and she was innocent. I’m going to find who and why, if it’s the last thing I do. I just wish she could have told me in secret. I could have helped her; I don’t know how but I would.

    19th April 2005

    Godiva is sleeping with me. I felt I couldn’t leave her on her own at night, after what she’s been through. Zip agreed and had to persuade her to sleep in the same bed as me. She’s not talking to me, even though I try to encourage it. I smile, say “ good morning,” stroke her face or long luscious black hair and kiss her. Usually, she turns over and sighs.

    Lara is starting work again and I’m trying to research this ancient crystal that isn’t mentioned in any of my Tudor Period books. It is called the Jade of Seymour. Lara says it is a fearsome crystal that once belonged to the Seymour family. It also could have been the reason for Jane’s death. It is impossible. If I can’t find it in the books or the internet, how am I supposed to find it?!

    23rd April 2005

    I awoke this morning, with Godiva disappeared from my side. I practically galloped down the stairs and into the kitchen, where Winston was preparing breakfast. He told me he hadn’t seen her. I looked in the gym, where Zip and Lara were doing their morning work out. I ran to the swimming pool but she wasn’t there. Back in the foyer with no idea where to find her, I heard this beautiful faint singing and delightful piano playing. She was in the music room.

    As I swung open the door, I was literally blown away by her poignant, nightingale-like voice. The song that came from her stunning lips was none other than the enchanting Greensleeves. I did not make a sound, for I was spellbound by my love for the woman. I tiptoed towards the piano to listen. Then she finished. “ That is beautiful singing,” I said, finally. Godiva whirled around with a start. She looked rather sheepish. “ Forgive me, I-I was just...” she trailed off and wondered, “ How long have been you standing there?” I chuckled. “ Long enough to feel my heart break your name.” We kissed and she continued. “ Greensleeves was always my favourite song. I love stuff from the UK, especially the comedy and History. I wanted to be Anne Boleyn when I was a kid. Mom even made me a replica of that ‘B’ necklace outta old tin foil and stuff,” I smiled. If she only she could help me in my research. “ You know, they say it had magical powers. That’s why she was called a witch.” Something turned a light switch in my brain.

    I cantered down to the study and began to research the Boleyn necklace. I found what I was looking for in old extract written by a priest who was present at Anne Boleyn’s execution. ‘There was no fouler world than the bastard left behind. With her last ghastly breath, she cursed the bearer of the King’s son. As the jury viewed the head meeting its end in the basket, no one but I saw the witch’s pearl necklace soar to God above. The pendent was left behind, with light aglow inside.’

    26th April 2005

    The pendent was, indeed, the Jade of Seymour and Lara found it buried within the tombs of St. George’s Chapel. On the computer monitor, it looked terrifyingly eerie. Imagine what it was like for Lara! She returned it to its rightful owner, an elderly woman who collects and decodes remnants of the paranormal. Hopefully she can work out the secret of Jane Seymour’s death. I thank Godiva for this.

    Later that night, Zip and I were having our usual midnight alcoholic beverages. I have grown accustomed to this tradition now and it’s the only time when the two best friends can seriously talk with each other. Apart from writing, it is my only release. I asked him if he knew about his sister’s musical gift and simply answered that he knew nothing of the sort. What sister would keep something like from her brother?

    2nd May 2005

    Zip received a telephone call from his son, Cameron. He wanted to know when he was going to see him next. I watched the poor man smile downheartedly. He told him that Lisha wanted to meet him that one time, which is probably true. Which I hope is true. I felt sorry for Zip, just because he had to drive his one child away. To add to his misery, Agnes broke up with him. Their relationship wasn’t working, according to her. It left the poor fellow distraught. Only I can soothe his pain with alcoholic drinks and the strike of midnight.

    3rd May 2005

    After hearing talk of my previous swimming lessons, Godiva convinced me to show her what I can do in the swimming pool. My confidence was slightly shaken for some strange reason. Zip, who has a hangover today, was forced to be the lifeguard. I showed off my breast stroke (which was always the obstacle before) front crawl, backstroke, butterfly and diving. I decided not to dive off the diving board; I did it just on the side of the pool.

    The two American siblings applauded when I shakily pulled myself out of the water. My head swelled a little bit, and I began bowing but slipped. Then my head swelled up even more, despite the fact that it made my pretty girlfriend roar with laughter. To tell you the truth, the pain was overwhelming and I laughed it off soon after.

    5th May 2005

    Godiva and I were discussing our hobbies with the rest of the mansion. None of them have heard of Monty Python before! We were horrified so we decided to host a Mad Monty Marathon Night tonight. We watched all of the Flying Circus series and films on Zip’s computer and then I treated everyone to Mother’s curry. We were crowded but some of us rolled around on the floor laughing.

    Winston loved the pepperpot characters and his laugh was strong and delightfully pleasing to the ear. Zip particularly enjoyed Life of Brian and guffawed so much that he complained of aching sides. The highlight of the evening was when he jokingly kissed me on the cheek and nibbled my ear. It made everyone laugh but I cringed and blushed. The downside of the evening was the fact that Lara hated the entire marathon. She sat through it with a stubborn pout and with arms folded. I feel disappointed that she didn’t like it but she has her interests, I have mine.

    7th May 2005

    Zip has found another girlfriend. This time a Polish immigrant named Olesia. I’ve seen a photograph of her. She is a lovely looking young woman with hair dark as the night and eyes as bright as sapphires but of course, no beauty can compare with my beloved Godiva. Zip is thrilled and wants to meet her in person right away. Let’s pray it goes better with Olesia than it did with Agnes.

    Lara is still sour about the marathon and won’t speak to me or Godiva. Well, we didn’t force you to watch it did we?! She is about to start work once yet again. That will put her mind off it. She is training non-stop.

    Winston discovered a dead bat in the attic earlier. He shoved it into a bin bag and the odour was atrocious. Zip wanted to see it and the butler showed it to him and without any consideration, Zip showed it to me. The smell and the horrid sight made me faint. I collapsed and banged my head. It wasn’t so bad afterwards, since Godiva nursed me.

    12th May 2005

    Zip went out to a nightclub with Olesia tonight. Godiva and I had the opportunity to go with them as a double date. We decided to stay in the study all night and read romantic poetry to one another. Winston went out with Lara to an opera show so the two of us were left to do what we wished. This was the chance of showing off my Hindi and she was very impressed despite she couldn’t comprehend a single word. It was all very romantic.

    Before I forget, Auntie Sana’s daughter; my cousin Priya announced that she gave birth to twin girls. They are to be named Asha and Nishtha. What fantastic news! I might fly over to see them one day. Priya was almost like a sister to me as a child.

    15th May 2005

    Olesia didn’t last long. Zip broke up with her to be someone he met in the nightclub that night. Her name is Charlie and ten years older than Zip. I met her yesterday. She was amusing at first, then when Zip’s back was turned, she became nasty. She threatened Godiva which made her cry. Lara saw the incident and kicked her out of the manor and warned her never to come back. Zip was furious and was offended by our ‘accusations’. I hope he breaks up with that witch.

    He needed to blow off some steam so went out to the garden with his skateboard. He rolled through the maze. He soon found himself lost. Annoyed, Lara had to run through and get him. It was harsh to giggle at his dilemma but it was moderately humorous.

    22nd May 2005

    Winston is distraught today and has no one to turn to, because Lara is away in South Korea. The others and I can’t help him; not even Zip. We don’t know what’s wrong. Please help me help him. He’s been crying all day. I’m worried about him.

    I must go. Winston tells me he wants me to help in the shower. Lovely.

    28th May 2005

    Lara finally came home. She revealed a secret about Winston and why he was so upset. She told us in a dramatic whisper as she held back tears, “ He had a wife, Helen and a daughter, Irene. When Irene was just a few months old, she died. No one knows why. Winston suspects cot death. Two years later, he lost Helen to a brain tumour. I feel terrible for missing the anniversary of Irene’s death. He can’t cope on his own.”

    I feel guilty for not knowing. When she told us the horrific story, I searched all over the house just to give him a supportive hug. He was appreciative and grinned to mask his forlornness and simply chirped, “ Right! Why don’t you cook your mother’s curry again for dinner? I’ve developed quite a liking to it!” Poor Winston. His sad story reminds me of Mother and how much I miss her.

    29th May 2005

    Lara was talking to someone on the telephone in Japanese today. It was quite the display. I never knew she could speak so many languages. It makes me seem dim.
    Zip and Godiva were playing a game of basketball and dared me to have a go. I am useless with balls of any kind. I tried to aim for the net but it somehow ended up over the fence. Zip had to climb over and retrieve it. He was annoyed and excluded me for the rest of the game. However, Godiva giggled like an excited two year old.
    That night when Zip and I were having our beers in his room (as usual) he sheepishly apologised for his behaviour. I forgave him immediately. I was never interested in sports anyway.

    1st June 2005

    I have booked a flight to India to see Priya’s babies. I’m very excited and Godiva is too. She loves infants. I wonder what they are like? The images of their mother, I assume. I’ve never met her husband. He’s a veterinary doctor and is mesmerising. I wonder what he’s like?
    Zip has some news too. He broke up with that Charlie. He said he didn’t feel it was the right time for a relationship and he wants a break from courting women.

    5th June 2005

    Godiva and Zip have received devastating news this evening. Finlay, their father, has suffered a heart attack. Louise says he is very weak at the moment but she is hopeful that he pulls through. I hope he does. No one should ever go through the pain of loss.

    6th June 2005

    We’ve had a blackout tonight. I was in the study with Godiva when the lights went out. I heard my stunning girlfriend scream with fright. I took her by the hand and lead our way to the foyer. I fondled the walls as we sleuthed. In the foyer, we could see an eerie glowing light. It was coming from the fireplace. We ran down the stairs to see if any of the others were there. It was very exciting. Winston and Zip were there but not Lara. She had gone out in the terrifying thunderstorm to try and fix the fuse.

    9th June 2005

    Lara had a meeting with a man named Mr. Gard this afternoon. Godiva wanted to see The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Therefore, Zip and I took her and Winston out for a day as a treat. We went to Pizza Hut afterwards. I’m not a big fan of pizza so I just ordered a salad meanwhile the American party stacked up on meaty toppings, extra cheese, salt, so on and so forth. For dessert, Godiva ate the biggest ice cream sundae I’ve ever seen. By the time we arrived home, she was complaining of a stomach ache. I wonder why!

    10th June 2005

    Our holiday to India is only in a few days and we’re keeping making sure we’re taking the right amount in the luggage. I don’t want to pack too much or too little, neither does Godiva but knowing her, she’ll pack her whole life. I’m too ecstatic for words!

    16th June 2005

    Sorry to rush, I am in a hurry. Winston is chauffeuring us to Heathrow Airport in an hour and I’m still packing. Should I take the ‘Biker Chick’ helmet or not?! What about my toothbrush? I know I’ll forget that! Oh bloody hell! I’m too jittery!

    Godiva finished packing last night. She’s put a huge amount of pills and tablets into her toiletry bag. I asked her what they are for and she just grinned at me, as if she was up to something.

    4th July 2005

    I apologise for the lack of updating news. I was busy. India was just as I left it; stifling hot. Priya and her children were beautiful. They are healthy and keeping the parents busy as bees. Asha was the one who cried a lot. When I held her, she screamed louder, which made Priya laugh. We conversed in Hindi for a short time - it was a difficult challenge. My tongue kept tripping up and my accent was atrocious. She gave me advice on how to improve. Also, Auntie Sana was there and she was desperately trying to persuade me to see Father. Naturally, I refused. Godiva was overjoyed and the twins liked her instantly. She seems to have a way with children.

    When we came home this morning, it was Independence Day for her and Zip. I don’t understand the bloody ‘holiday’ but I’m not American so how would I know? The siblings went out partying all night. I imagine them now; dancing, cheering, shouting and merry. How I envy these wonderful siblings!

    11th July 2005

    The Jade of Seymour was stolen at some point last night. The elderly lady was very distressed when she rang at 5:17am. She said the entire shop had been ransacked and a note had been left behind which was written in red ink, presumably blood. The note read, ‘Try finding it now Miss. Croft’. Who stole it? Why? How? Questions are burning my brain.

    Just a few minutes ago in his bedroom, Zip was saying it is very confusing time for all of us. He gave me a comforting embrace and a big kiss on the nose. Alcohol does strange things to him.

    14th July 2005

    We’ve put the note through DNA testing and the result is baffling. Even the test doesn’t know who wrote it. I’m researching the artefact again, to see if there is anything that I might’ve missed. Zip is irate and keeps ranting about inserting a tracking sensor in it. Lara is conjuring up any enemies of hers who might want or need the crystal. It is hard to think that such a lovely person can have so many foes.

    16th July 2005

    Lara retraced her steps in St George’s Chapel and found the crystal at the feet of Jane Seymour’s resting place. How the hell did it get from the woman’s shop to the tomb again? There is something very suspicious going on. It just could not have got up and skipped its merry way back to the tomb, could it? It’s absurd. Oh good God! Is that the time?! I’m taking Godiva out to Le Monde de L’amour – alone.

    23rd July 2005

    There’s not much going on lately, however I have many things to report. Lara has allowed herself to become obsessed with the mystery of the missing Jade of Seymour. A crackpot archaeologist phoned her yesterday. He wants some help with an archaeological dig in Mali. No one is fit enough to venture deep in the bowels of the caves that they have built. It sounded rather silly at the time. Nonetheless, she agreed to take on the challenge.

    With the weather behaving, Zip is playing outside sports again. He is skateboarding like mad. Yesterday, as a joke, I threw my helmet at him. He roared with laughter and yelled at the top of his lungs, “ I’m gonna get ya, you runt!” and charged at me. I squealed with laughter as I ran around the estate like a headless chicken. Finally, we collapsed into a panting heap just outside the gates. I am a lot fitter than I lead myself to believe.

    Winston and Godiva are sick as dogs. They’re both suffering from a nasty cold. Godiva is snuggled up in bed, shivering fitfully. Winston is visibly fatigued but he insists on cleaning all of the bathroom sinks. The poor sod’s worked himself to the bone.

    25th July 2005

    I have come to a conclusion. Whenever Lara is away on business, the mansion is always dull, quiet and boring unless the mission includes me and Zip. There is nothing to do, except watch her progress on the computer monitor. Winston is washing the piano keys in the music room, in hopes of washing away his boredom. To keep myself occupied, I think I will write to Edwin Morgan. Remember him? He was the lad Winston hired him for me when I was ill. I haven’t heard from him since his resignation. I hope he is doing well.

    26th July 2005

    I’ve written the letter. How does it sound?

    ‘My dear Mr. Morgan,

    I am writing to you concern your life since departing from our family at Croft Manor. I hope you’ve had treated for your inarticulate speech impediment. Are you working? What does your job entail? I hope it isn’t too tedious or too difficult for you. I seem to remember you had some difficulty with researching the artefacts.

    I am still working with Lara Croft, Zip and Winston. Thankfully, I have not suffered from any serious injury since the concussion and I hope it continues that way. In the March, I started courting Zip’s sister, Godiva. She is a wonderful girl, so full of youth and carelessness. Recently, Lara has been working in Mali, on an archaeological dig. She is due to arrive home next week.

    I am awaiting your reply.

    Best wishes,
    Alister Fletcher’

    It’s terrible, isn’t it? Be honest, be critical, I don’t care!

    7th August 2005

    I have received a letter from Edwin. He even went to the effort to put a photograph in the envelope. He looks completely different from last year. His jet black hair is shorter and more fashionable. His acne has cleared up and he looks very handsome with a bearded chin. He hasn’t got a girlfriend, which surprises me! The photograph made me smile and I was glowing with pride and something else. Here is what he wrote in the letter.

    ‘Dear Alister,

    I will be moving to Scotland in a couple of weeks. I have applied for a job as a librarian’s assistance in a library which is dedicated to Archaeology and mythical stories from around the world. I am going for a trial and hopefully, they will hire me. And yes, I’ve had my stammer treated and have found a reason for it - my father, but that’s a story for another time.

    I am not dating anyone at the moment but your Godiva sounds absolutely gorgeous! Do you think you will marry her?

    With Love
    From Edwin R. Morgan’

    He sounds so posh in the letter, and signing it with his middle name? His style is so mature now but he still has that spidery scrawl. I want to meet him and wish him good luck on the new job in Scotland. But the thing is, with our different paths, it will be unlikely for us meet again.

    10th August 2005

    Something inside me has changed. Whenever I see the photograph of Edwin, I keep picturing Godiva laughing and acting happy around him. Whenever I’m with her, I feel like I am not happy with our relationship. It’s like we’re stuck in a rut. Godiva is hinting something. I think she might want to take our relationship to the next level and I’m not ready, you know that. She’s young but she won’t get over it easily.

    Zip is meeting yet another girl today. Her name is Andrea. She is even younger than Godiva! She is eighteen years old, and is transparently naïve. I’m not disrespecting Zip but people like Andrea need to be careful on the internet. He’s driving all the way to Birmingham to meet the girl and will be staying there for a week. I have a personal bet with myself that they’d be killing each other by the next Wednesday.

    Lara is in China this month. I have begun researching this mythical army that was murdered by Genghis Kahn. Winston and I are watching the computer monitor (Zip had shown us how to work it – bloody thing!) and she is a marvellous gymnast. She’s climbing rocks, defending herself from any unwanted visitors, sliding down bumpy slopes and she still has the stamina to solve riddles. Seeing her doing things like that have made me feel a strange new emotion but I don’t understand it.

    12th August 2005

    Godiva and I went on a walk today. We walked all around the estate and down to the little village nearby. There was a pub called The Friar’s End. Its inappropriateness threw Godiva into fits of laughter. I wish I could laugh at juvenile jokes again and be carefree like a child. We had lunch there. The food was awful but edible. Godiva was yapping on about something which I didn’t really care for but I listened to her. “ Who do you love more? Me or my brother?” she asked at random. I nearly choked in shock. What was I supposed to tell her? I love Zip with all my heart? But I would move the Heavens themselves just for her? I didn’t tell her in the end; I just chuckled and continued eating my steak.

    13th August 2005

    I was extremely ill. I was vomiting the steak all night. I could never stomach so much food. Godiva stayed in our room and looked after me. I have to talk to her about that actually. I truly think she should do a course on nursing. She doesn’t want to end up like her brothers, Rex and Ricky.

    I also have an update from Father. Auntie Sana sent another letter to me, practically begging me to see him. I don’t care. I hate Father. He’s done violent, harmful things in the past and I won’t forgive him for it. He doesn’t deserve to see me.

    Zip rang from Birmingham. It seems Andrea failed to inform her parents about him. He will be coming home tonight.

    15th August 2005

    Andrea’s parents have banned Zip from visiting her again. I knew it wouldn’t last long. She is far too young for him, and she is two sandwiches short of a picnic. Harsh, I know, but that’s what Zip said.

    It’s boiling hot and everyone’s been sunbathing in the gardens, swimming in the pool and playing basketball. Winston played fantastically annoying Calypso music on Lara’s CD player. Godiva started gloating about the fact she and Zip can’t get sunburnt. He joined in and laughed at me and Winston. Winston wasn’t impressed, he ranted on about their racist comments. This had nothing to do with racism, so why bring it up?! They were just having a good time, joking around. I love Winston but he can be a silly old man at times!

    Lara telephoned from China. She told us that she has found some information which is leading her to Egypt and will continue to raid tombs there. Why am I feeling jealous right now? I wish I could go to Egypt - visit the pyramids, breathe in the Nile’s air, ride on a camel’s back, learn Egyptian History, get food poisoning.

    18th August 2005

    Lara was supposed to be due to come home today but the helicopter pilot was held up somewhere. So I haven’t a clue when she’s coming back. I’m worried. Sorry to leave so early but Godiva’s about to give me a massage. It feels so good!

    23rd August 2005

    Lara came in at 3:07am and woke us all up to show us this beautiful emerald she has found in a pyramid. I was tired as hell but I could do nothing but compare the gem’s beauty with Godiva’s. Let me tell you something, it is just a rock next to her.

    Winston is exhausted this afternoon. Just before lunch at 12:10pm, he went back to bed. Zip cruelly snuck in and recorded Winston’s (brain-rattling) snores on his personal tape recorder. I tried to convince him otherwise until I got caught up in his juvenile games. It was thrilling just knowing we could get caught at any moment!

    24th August 2005

    Lara told me that a famous archaeologist is giving a lecture on the Ghalali Key at Oxford University. This key object has grabbed some attention of hers and she wants me to come along. Winston would be working and Zip wouldn’t be able to sit in a long lecture anyway. Me? Well, Archaeology was a study of mine, wasn’t it? It is a day after my birthday so it would be extra special. I just want to know how Godiva will take the news that Lara and I are going out together alone. She’s a jealous character!

    25th August 2005

    Zip and the others went out in the very early hours of the morning today so I spent the afternoon wandering the halls, playing with instruments in the music room, looking through books and attempting to hack into Zip’s computer (just for fun!) They came back just after lunchtime and hid the contents of their shopping. I wonder what they’ve bought?

    Winston keeps winking at me for some reason, so is Zip. Lara has a sly look on her face as if she’s up to something and Godiva isn’t making any eye contact with me. Might I ask, why?!

    27th August 2005

    I woke up this morning to the sound of Zip banging on my door shouting, “ Oi! Birthday boy! We got presents here! I ain’t the big bad wolf or anythin’. Lemme in!” He’s so bloody impatient! I answered to him and he literally showered me with gifts. Soon, he was quickly followed by his sister, Winston and the lovely Lara.

    Zip bought me kneepads ‘to complete the ensemble’, obviously referring to my crash helmet. Winston gave me a simple box of chocolates. I don’t care much for chocolate but Godiva would enjoy it. Lara gifted me with yet another book, this time called The Brazilian Underground. She announced that she is going on a mission in a few weeks’ time. Godiva didn’t give me anything but told me she’d show it to me later.

    Later soon came in the evening, I was ushered into the study while the others kept themselves busy doing God knows what. After hours of wondering, Godiva burst in and pulled me out to the gardens by the fountain which was sprouting water at random moments. A small table had been laid out with two chairs and a red rose in a vase in the middle. Winston arrived with Zip, who was dressed up as a stereotypical chef. “ Good evening, sir. Ma’am,” Winston said. “ I’ll be your server tonight.” Zip grinned as he tried not to laugh at my utterly bewildered facial expression. He explained that Godiva couldn’t get a reservation at Le Monde de L’amour and couldn’t find another restaurant as equally romantic, so they decided to surprise me with a romantic dinner at the mansion. “ Well, Chez Zip can’t stay out here and gawk at ya all night. I’ll leave you…to it, then.” He finally walked away with Winston.

    Winston was soon back with a champagne bottle. At first, lovely Godiva was slightly hesitant to try it but once I had gulped a reasonably large amount, she knocked the glass back. Bubbles shot up her nose and I laughed. Her face showed a slight distaste for the alcohol but she was as wonderful as ever. It felt like I was falling in love all over again. Winston came with the starter, a very delicious vegetable soup. My tongue was in for a taste explosion. I never realised how well Zip cooks. Godiva seemed to love her brother’s cooking and told me stories of when he was a child, with no idea how to cook!

    Our waiter for the evening collected the dishes and replaced them with duck a l’orange. I had never eaten that before in my life and I wasn’t going to let this opportunity pass. At first, I thought it tasted strange but after a while, it had an intriguing flavour. If I were a food critic, I’d give it five stars. Godiva explained that duck a l’orange is Zip’s speciality and made it several times before in the Everglades. As the night dragged on, Winston approached us once more with the dessert; a gorgeous chocolate pudding. It was too sickly for me but I ate the whole plate.

    Just as when the night was about to end, we both heard Zip whistle piercingly from above. We spotted him at the balcony of his bedroom, over looking the maze and us. There was a woman behind him, plastered over his manly shoulder. He was holding up something and he touched it (I couldn’t see exactly what he was doing) and a song all too familiar broke the silence. Elton John’s Can You Feel the Love Tonight blared out loud enough for the village to hear. Zip left the stereo on the balcony as he and the woman went inside. Godiva was laughing hysterically because Zip had gone to all this trouble for me and her. I have to admit, I squeezed out a single tear in gratitude. If he knew how much I love him!

    I apologise for this particularly long entry but it was an unforgettable night. I hope I haven’t bored you to death!

    28th August 2005

    Firstly, I wish to report on a conversation which occurred between me and Godiva last night. We were on the bed together, staring into each other’s eyes in the silence (as one does when they’re in love.) Godiva proceeded to kiss me and she looked desperately hopeful and I told her, “ Maybe for your birthday,” she said nothing but gave a single nod. She didn’t seem that offended and was joking around soon after.

    This morning was the day of the lecture. Professor Darber was an octogenarian. It was an apparent that he is losing to dementia, due to the fact that he struggled to think of the correct phrases and words. Lara visibly enjoyed the performance but I didn’t. He talked about things that were totally irrelevant to the Ghalili Key, like his discoveries in Egypt and other locations in Africa. When the lecture had finished, we and the university lecturers had a lunch meeting with the ‘big man himself’ (as Zip would say.) He was more boring than in the lecture, and the tutors weren’t all that exciting either. They were much better at Cambridge. Why did I agree to attend this tedious affair?

    When we arrived home this afternoon, it was like I hadn’t seen my friends in years. I was so pleased to see the siblings. Zip showed me a somewhat juvenile video on his computer of a monkey sniffing its own buttocks to cheer me up. It was vulgar, crude and greatly unfunny but Zip was literally rolling around on the tech room floor with laughter. I went up to the study and began research on the Brazilian underground. I stayed in there until dinnertime and that was when Lara apologised to me about the dreadful lecture.

    30th August 2005

    Auntie Sana has written me yet another letter. She is furious, upset and offended that I’ve ignored her. She asked me how I feel about Father and I will tell her everything; my hatred, his anger management problems, how he practically forced me to do Archaeology, what he did to Mother and that I never want to see him ever again. I want to make her see what her brother-in-law is truly like. I don’t want Father stopping my life all the time. I have done better without the bloody bastard, to be honest.

    2nd September 2005

    Lara has hired a partner for her mission in Brazil. He is a man. He’s a full-blooded Maori man named Rawiri. He must be younger than me and he’s very masculine, fit and intelligent and he is devastatingly striking. Lara has plastered herself upon him and jealousy inside me is flaming. She and Winston are welcoming him in open arms while Zip is loathing him. He admitted it in the strictest confidence to me, and despite my unexplained jealousy, I would never say that about anyone.

    Earlier this evening, I saw him talking to Godiva and I noticed that in her eyes, there was dominant sparkle which I had never noticed before – not even when she’s with me! We are supposed to be courting and she is gallivanting off with other strange men, who are much more goodlooking than me. If this would end my successful relationship, I wouldn’t know what else to do.

    6th September 2005

    I knew I couldn’t trust Rawiri. Last night while, Lara was showering after hours of training, I saw him slip into the gun room. I followed him and Zip could see what was happening on the CCTV through his brand new updated computer. He kept trying to communicate with Lara with a new earpiece but I’m not sure why she couldn’t hear it. She had left it on the table right next to the shower. I was the only one who could stop Rawiri stealing a number of the infamous Croft gun collection. When I entered the room, I had switched roles with the tomb raider and I even had an earpiece for help from Zip.

    “ Stop!” I yelled. Rawiri whirled around with a start. He dropped the bag he was holding and muttered something in Maori. “ Right,” Zip was saying in a whisper. “ I need you to approach the guy and ask ‘im why’s he doin’ it.” I followed his instructions. Rawiri revealed his reason. His family are in poverty and he wanted to sell the weapons to help them. But he continued his heist. “ Alister? Do something now, ‘til Lara gets there. She’s coming into the foyer. I’ll tell her what’s happened,” Zip said.
    As the burglar turned to leave, I started to panic. What should I do? What should I do? When he rushed past, I just reacted. I tripped him up by sticking my foot out. Forgetting what he was holding, he brandished a gun in my chest. Luckily, Lara barged in and kicked him about until she pinned him to the floor. He was in between her thighs and with that, I took my rather shaken leave.

    Later that day, Rawiri was given a second chance and I was deemed a hero, by Godiva and Zip of course. I can’t help smiling. This was the bravest I have ever done.

    9th September 2005

    Lara and that robber took a flight to Brazil last night to start fresh the next day, while we are to remain here and fly to them in a few days’ time. A voice in my head is shouting at me, “ Rawiri’s bad news. He’ll try to do something to Lara.” It refuses to be quiet. Something tells me that this voice may be right. You cannot trust someone like that. Zip and Winston must be warned. At least, Zip knows how to use the computer system and he knows how to use a gun if necessary.

    16th September 2005

    Goodness gracious me! I never knew that Brazil was this hot. Godiva wanted to come with us but it took vast persuasion to make her reconsider it. I wouldn’t want to be harmed or worse. Zip and I are camping out in the van while keeping a very close eye on Rawiri. The way Zip lives is disgusting; he leaves empty crisp packets and Coke cans lying around on his sleeping bag and his music melts the brain. Maybe I can teach him some good manners when I’m here.

    17th September 2005

    The two tomb raiders had split up and gone their separate ways to cover more ground. They were looking for a jade stone which fits into a secret door (it’s a key basically.) Lara found it and she told Rawiri to meet up with her in the room with the door. They did. He was standing there with a suspicious look in his eye. They began talking about their strategies on how to continue. Then Rawiri shot at Lara, demanding for the stone. But luckily for Lara, she is an intelligent young thing. They somehow started to wrestle and she kicked him to the ground with a pistol to his head. She finally fired him and she went on without him. It was very exciting to watch! Well, of what we could see.

    22nd September 2005

    With our help, Lara got out of the Underground safely. It’s awful to think the both of us are literally Lara’s lifelines. It’s not that I hate this job, it is just the enormous amount of responsibility attached to it. We are responsible for bringing Lara Croft back home alive and what if we fluff up? Would she die? Would she lose her way? Will she be able work on her own? Zip says yes on the last one, before he joined the team, she worked on her own with no help. I think that’s pretty brave, even coming from her.

    But we’re not out of the woods yet. Lara has found out who lived in the Underground a thousand years ago; an extinct assassin organisation called Os Assassinos do Amor, which translate into either The Love Murderers or The Killers of Love – whatever it is, it doesn’t sound good. Lara must find out where they originated from, what their reasons were to killed innocent people, and she can find this out by conquering the abandoned Chilean tomb.

    25th September 2005

    Driving to Chile in the van was tedious and irritating and long. Luckily, Zip drove most of the way since I’m not a very confident driver. He had loud punk music blasting the whole way. Very disturbing when I tried to nap, even when I was in the back. Another thing he did was phone his girlfriend every fifteen minutes. Just hours of, “ I miss you too, baby. I love you. Kissy-kissy-kissy-kissy!” It sickens me. How would he feel if I talked to Godiva like that? Bloody hell! I envy Lara. At least she doesn’t have to put up with the king of Slobtown.

    27th September 2005

    A typical bedtime in the van is the following: One man quickly changes into bedclothes behind a bush while the other watches out for the police. Once when one has done that, he brushes his teeth in a bucket which is also used for excretion. He unrolls his sleeping bag, and says “goodnight” to the other.

    The reason why I’m informing you of this, is because this morning, something very strange happened. It was funny but strange. I had had a fitful sleep. I was dreaming about Godiva, and that she was trapped in a house fire. It was terrible; it seemed so real. Anyway, I must have fidgeted rather a lot during the night, because as I woke up this morning, Zip’s face was just inches away from mine. I had rolled on top of him! He was extremely offended because he thought I did intentionally. He plainly stated, “ You’re not gonna kiss me again, are you?” I said, “ Well…I don’t know. Maybe!” Zip hooted with laughter and pushed me off him.

    A wash of the face, dressed and ready to work just in fifteen minutes!

    13th October 2005

    Chile was a success. Lara retrieved the knife of Os Assassinos do Amor – translated into Los asesinos del Amor in Spanish. It was found in a hidden room in the tomb. She discovered (with my help) that Os Assassinos do Amor was an ancient Brazilian myth. They were people who had been hurt by the leaders, so they devised plans to kill all of their loved ones in their headquarters in the Underground. Hence, the name of their tribe. The myth originated from Chile and the knife which they used has magical powers. It has the power to return the lives of the victim, and it’s dangerously valuable.

    We came home two days ago and all of us are exhausted. Lara injured her leg from swinging across a cavern with her brand new grapple hook device. Luckily, it was only sprained. Winston looked at it the second we arrived home. I never knew he was a First Aider. I was looking forward to see Godiva, who welcomed me home in open arms, kisses and she also screamed and even shed a tear or two. I’ve missed her tremendously. It seemed unfair to Zip, despite that she gave him a ‘great big bear hug’, which must be a sibling mannerism.

    14th October 2005

    Godiva did the funniest thing when we were away. She went onto one of those photograph merger websites and discovered what our babies would look like. Well, they would mix race, obviously. The boy would have Father’s brown hair and the girl would have Godiva’s wavy black hair. They would both have big brown eyes and my nose. They even have names. The girl is named Anne and the boy is named Benjamin. It made me blush like nothing before. I was flattered but she has some insane idea that we’re going to be together forever.

    Winston has been acting very strangely. He won’t allow us in his bedroom. Whenever I’m around him, I can smell this peculiar odour. He looks very tired too. I’ve asked Godiva if anything happened during our absence. She didn’t notice anything. How odd.

    19th October 2005

    It is Godiva’s twentieth birthday soon and she’s been hinting at what she wishes for a present. She seems to want a moped from Zip and she wants him to pay for lessons too. I can’t decipher what she wants from me, I’d hate to buy her the wrong gift and insult her. The only other woman I have ever bought gifts for was Mother, therefore I am not the expert with the ladies, as it were. Perhaps Winston will give me advice on a conceivable present. Winston is a wonderful person to receive advice from, I just want to know where he gets all his ideas from.

    20th October 2005

    Godiva was on the telephone all afternoon today. She locked herself in our bedroom but Zip found a way to eavesdrop on her with the security system in the mansion. She kept saying things like, “ I’m gonna get the best present ever!!” and “ My birthday will be the best day of life of all time!” and “ I’m sooooooo excited! I’m getting a present that only Alister can give me.” But what is this mysterious present? What is the thing that Godiva has fixed her mind on? I’ve asked Zip and he says he has absolutely no idea what it could be. I wanted a female’s opinion so I asked Lara. She snapped at me for eavesdropping on Godiva’s private affairs. I’ll update the issue as it develops.

    23rd October 2005

    Lara has a new assignment, which will take place in November. There has been a discovery in Berlin. Archaeologists have found that Hitler did not commit suicide, but dug a tunnel underneath the Führerbunker, where he died due to toxic fumes. Lara must find out the reason why the tunnel was built.
    Godiva is making suggestive faces at me. Help me!

    26th October 2005

    I have been working very hard with this new mission. All I can find is that Hitler died with his spouse, there are no reports of anyone witnessing anything suspicious. I can tell this is going to be very difficult.

    Winston suggested buying a dozen red roses for Godiva. In his words, “ They are beautiful, elegant, dignifying and dazzling.” Thinking about it, roses are these things.

    28th October 2005

    Zip went shopping today. He’s bought Halloween costumes and decorations for the mansion. They’re tacky and tasteless but putting them up has been an adventure. I nearly fell off a ladder and Zip banged his fingers with the hammer. Fun! Not.

    Winston has a werewolf costume and he tried it out today. It was terrifying! He explained that every year he volunteers to babysit the village children, and host parties and take them out for trick-or-treating and such. He’s a generous old man. I’m grateful for him, that’s for sure. If I knew someone like him when I was a child, I’d take his offers straight away!

    30th October 2005

    Godiva’s birthday is tomorrow and I have no gift for her. I have no idea what to buy for her. Maybe a Monty Python book? A Louis Armstrong CD? A cosmetics bag? I’ll have to get Zip to drive me down to the shops.

    Right, I’m back with a bouquet of flowers. It was all I could get at the last minute. I hope she will forgive me. I am such a bad boyfriend.

    31st October 2005

    Tonight was a disaster. I feel so guilty. It’s all my fault. As you are aware, Godiva turned twenty years of age today and she did not, in fact, want any gift from me. Well, she did but I’ll just explain what happened.

    Shortly after dinner, I went to the study to retrieve a book I wanted to read in bed. I put the book on the bedside table when Godiva suddenly popped out of the bathroom in her underwear. She never looked so beautiful. Her long hair was perfectly positioned over her breasts. She was wearing a sweet perfume which set my senses alight. I wanted to touch her badly and feel her hand on my cheek. My lips against hers, I wanted to touch her body but there was something nagging me on the inside. She smiled as she approached the bed.

    As she lay back, it had to be done. I sat down on the bed and she leant forward and rested her head on my shoulder, still smiling. I breathed out sharply, I needed to prepare myself for what I was about to say. I moved a little uncomfortably. “ Godiva, listen,” I said mumbling slightly. “ I’m sorry but this can’t happen. I’m just not ready.” “ OK, that’s fine, we don’t have to do anything tonight,” she whispered softly in my ear. I rubbed her arm as gently as I could. “ But there’s just one problem,” “ What do you mean? There’s no problem.” “ Yes, there is. It’s you. I mean, us! You just come on too much. You have this inane idea that we’re going to get married! I don’t want that. I don’t want anything of it!” I shouted. So much for the subtle approach. Godiva’s eyes filled with tears. “ I HATE YOU! I can’t believe I love you! You are HORRIBLE! You never do what I want,” she snapped. I was as angry as a raging bull by this point. Her words hurt my feelings. “ WELL, I’M SORRY FOR NOT BEING READY!” “ I HATE YOU! I NEVER WANT TO SEE YOU AGAIN!” She stormed out and slammed the door. The portraits on the wall wobbled.

    She packed her bags this very night. Zip is out right now, driving her to the airport. She’s going home. She never belonged here anyway. No one is talking to me. Lara thinks it is all my fault and she blames me passionately. She keeps saying, “ It’s her birthday, Alister! I never thought you could be so insensitive.” Winston is cross as well but is supporting me. He says I could have made a different decision. I could have, but it’s too late to change it.

    8th November 2005

    I can’t stop thinking about Godiva. I feel vastly guilty. I want to see her again and apologise but I know she’ll hate me forever. According to Zip, she’s doing well in America and has started applying for a nursing course. Zip also told me that Rex threatened to kill me. People end relationships all the time, why is ours so painful?

    But thinking back, I know I did the right thing. I never truly loved her. I loved her simply because of her glorious eternal youth. Prolonging the relationship would only hurt her more. It’s just that I want to be naïve again and experience new things. I thought I had that in Godiva. But she wasn’t what I wanted. I want to travel! I want to meet new people! I want to see historical landmarks! I want to learn more knowledge! I want to write a novel! Those are the things I want. I am glad to see this year over soon.

    9th November 2005

    I have decided to inform my dear friend, Edwin, of our break-up. I have an idea for a letter anyway. I just need to write it. But there is something in the mind that’s telling me to bring these wonderful people together. There’s just one problem; Edwin’s up in Scotland and Godiva’s down in the Everglades. It’s impossible to bring them together! They haven’t even met before! But I will proceed to attempt this difficult task.

    Godiva should be forgotten now though. Zip and I have started packing to follow Lara around Europe. Learning about the true history of Hitler’s death will be a one in a lifetime chance. No one else in the whole world will about it. I feel privileged to be Lara’s assistant.

    10th November 2005

    The weather has worsened and I have woken up with a runny nose. Sensational, I’ve work in several days and I’ve caught the common cold. Brilliant timing.
    Not much else to report. Winston’s behaviour has returned to normal. Lara caught him with a brandy bottle (which was nearly empty!) She was not impressed and she yelled at him for drinking. Maybe Winston is an alcoholic after all. I’m glad I’m sensible with alcohol, unlike Zip.

    11th November 2005

    My letter to Edwin was written and sent off this very day. I feel quite accomplished, I don’t know why. I found Zip dancing in his underwear to YMCA in his bedroom this morning. Wish I had a camera!

    12th November 2005

    We’re all going to Germany tomorrow, and I am especially looking forward to it. It is a learning experience I will never forget. Winston wants to come too (as he had Jewish relatives in Europe) but he has to stay in the mansion and take care of things. Lara has become very in tune with the mission. She was training late night, again this morning and once more after dinner – no doubt she will do more before she retires for the night. Nonetheless, her training is intriguing to watch, and enchanting too. Therefore, I wouldn’t be that bothered if she did it all day! Zip is dreading it and he’s in a strop. He’s so childish sometimes, I wish he would stop but I know he’d shout at me if I say something to him.

    When we were talking last night, he confessed about his feelings towards Godiva leaving. He told me that it was the right thing to do, since she is such a handful. Plus, we lived together not long after our relationship began so that would have contributed to the break-up hugely. I never had time for myself, except from the midnight drinks with Zip, and I saw her everyday. The age difference too (not that it was vast) it was a lot of handle. I am an adult man and she is an adolescent girl. Zip also apologised for being such a brat.

    17th November 2005

    I apologise. I didn’t realise the last entry was on the 12th. We’ve been busy, very busy. Zip had to locate a shop which sells Nazi merchandise, in hopes that the owner is aware of the true history behind Hitler’s death. As Germany has banned such matters, the shop is a secret shop. Its whereabouts is a mystery.

    Lara discovered the skull of a human being in the tunnel where Hitler’s skeleton was found. We know it’s not his, because it had already been moved for further study. She will have to observe it more closely. It doesn’t prevent it from being thrilling though.

    30th November 2005

    It turns out that the skull was a female’s. Lara also found the shop. The owner was in possession of Hitler’s diary. It tells the fable of a great leader and his love for a girl who refused to take him as a lover. He went to many lengths to woo her but all failed. As the leader’s country was losing a battle with a rival land, he gave himself one last chance with the girl. He boasted at possessing sorcery and he took the girl to a secret place to show her. He had a pendent around his neck. It had the power of destroying all the uncleansed people in his country. Obviously he was talking about himself. But where this is pendent now?

    1st December 2005

    I am unwelcomed in Zip’s parents’ household. Zip was invited for a visit but he was determined to stay here. Louise phoned twice this morning trying to persuade him to come but he refused. “ If Alister isn’t invited, neither am I,” his stubborn voice told. He is a true friend. I never had that before. Lara agrees with this, but she also thinks Zip should talk to his parents and explain himself. I suppose she is hurting from her own parents’ deaths.

    No news at all from Father. It feels like I should mention him since I haven’t in quite a while. I wonder if Auntie Sana has spoken to him since our discussion in August. I have no idea what to write about him but I still think about him. Sometimes late at night, I can remember a time when we were happy and I don’t miss it. I should miss it but I just cannot. It makes me sound heartless and I don’t care. Father can go to hell for all I care.

    2nd December 2005

    Lara, Winston, Zip and I went to Le Monde de L’amour tonight for Zip’s thirty fifth. We were formally dressed, naturally, for such a posh restaurant. There were candles on the tables and a violinist played romantic music. When this was all happening, I could not keep my eyes off of Lara. She looked strangely beautiful in the candlelight. The dress she was wearing was low-cut and revealing but it attracted me nonetheless, and it confused me also. I tried to concentrate on what Winston was saying but I kept seeing Lara out of the corner of my eye. I felt disorientated and dazed; just like when I had the concussion last year. When listening to Winston didn’t work (he was drunk and droned on and on about Helen) I recited all the monarchs of England in my head. It worked like magic.

    Zip enquired about what was happening just now. To be frank, I have no idea. It feels like a second puberty; like when I discovered Janet Leigh. The thing is, I can’t tell anyone. I don’t wish to.

    5th December 2005

    The novelty of having an attraction to Lady Croft has somewhat worn off. I’m glad that ordeal is over. I’m not sure what came over me. Anyway, I have received a letter from Edwin saying he would like to meet Godiva. I’ll have to explain to him that she’s gone back to America, which was edited out of the final draft of my letter. I need to get her on my side again, or maybe Zip can tell her about this matchmaking.

    11th December 2005

    Watching Life of Brian this close to Christmas seems wrong in a peculiar sense. It doesn’t matter to me and Zip. It just makes me think of all the controversy it gathered in its original release in 1979. I know what you’re thinking, I am bloody mad. I was a mere infant, still living in India at that point. I don’t know; it just got me thinking.

    I feel tired all of a sudden. Not tired in the traditional sense but of work and life in Croft Manor. I want to decide whether or not to go on a holiday. I want to start a novel. I have an idea for one, at least. A man in his late forties realises his life has gone nowhere and decides to hike through most of the deserts of the world. It is the dissertation on own my life as it were.

    14th December 2005

    I have written a cast list for the novel.

    • Julian, the main character. Reads 1984 religiously. Eats a lot of cabbage and likes cricket. Works as an accountant, dislikes his work.
    • Maude, Julian’s boss. Nice and friendly but stern. A maneater, though works hard.
    • Dolores, Julian’s former girlfriend. Only seen in flashbacks. Mentions what happened to her.
    • Bertram, Julian’s friend at work. A playful person, heavy smoker and drinker. Likes playing poker. An African-American.
    • Vincent, Julian’s manservant. A good friend and advisor.
    • Roland, Julian’s father. Pushy, stuck up and snotty. Disapproves of his son.
    • Gita, Julian’s Asian mother. A weak little woman and has no control over Roland’s temper.

    Ludicrous. Absolute filth.

    15th December 2005

    Zip telephoned Godiva. She has agreed to meet with Edwin after Christmas. This plan is working oh too perfectly! I bet they’ll have the best time together, and I hope Godiva gets over me.

    Zip, Lara and I were having such a laugh in the swimming pool. I was so happy from the thought of two of my dearest friends being together. I splashed Zip and he pushed my head under. It was frightening as hell but we were all laughing about it. Lara showed off her triple flip from the diving board. And wow! I wish I could swim as strongly as her! Shame Winston refused to join us, he said he had work to do. He also hinted towards the fact that he can’t swim, but Lara told us that he was once an accomplished competitor.

    18th December 2005

    Winston has drunken a lot of alcohol today. He has rapidly hit rock bottom since a few months ago, when Godiva left. I feel truly sorry for him, there’s nothing we can do, not even Lara. He refuses to tell us what’s wrong. I feel should do something but I don’t want to interfere.

    Despite the bitter weather, Zip insisted on whizzing around the estate on his skateboard. After half an hour or so, he came back running like a cheetah, shivering violently. He was so frozen that I had to help into the mansion and into a nice hot bath!

    22nd December 2005

    Edwin telephoned today. He kept telling me about excited he is. He can’t wait to see Godiva. Lara also received a phone call this evening. It was regarding an elderly man in China. She was told that this man wishes to meet with her in January. Her mind has clicked straight into this mission and has begun the training Zip has set up for her. He has recently built a dummy which responds to Lara’s gunshots and spits the bullets back at her. It sounds dangerous but very thrilling!

    Winston is starting to clean up again. You see, he goes through stages when he is absolutely down in the dumps and drinking himself silly and then he goes through a phase when he devotes his 24 hours to working in Croft Manor. He has started making meals again, and making teas and coffee etc. I seriously think that there is something severely wrong with Winston’s mind. It must be due to the death of his family. I hope I won’t turn out like that because of Mother and Father.

    23rd December 2005

    Lara and Winston have been invited to a Christmas party at the Lord Sandleton’s home not too far away from here. Lady Croft (as she will be known as at the party) is trying to persuade him to invite me and Zip. I dread parties and social gatherings but Lara is insistent of us going. Zip is over the moon about it. He thinks it is all obscene disco dancing and ‘picking up some smokin’ hot chicks’. As I am determined not to go, he promised me that he will have one slow dance with me. Not bloody likely!

    24th December 2005

    Tonight was catastrophic. Lord Sandleton was dull as powder. He is a stereotypical aristocratic man in his early sixties or late fifties. Ironically, his first name is Bartholomew. He and Lara were conversing consistently. It was dreadful, though I got into talking with his wife, Lady Alicia. She is not quite as aged as her husband; she is only forty years old! She revealed to me in strictest confidence about her unhappiness, and told me that she wishes to divorce him but the problem is that the Sandleton name would be destroyed for generations to come. Soon after, she had had a large amount of champagne, she fainted into my arms as a result. Our eyes met. She removed my glasses and plainly stated, “ Take me to bed.” I was absolutely petrified! She proceeded to kiss me but luckily, I pulled away. I tried to find Zip for help but he was probably too busy trying to woo the eighteen year old daughter, Antoinette. Alicia was unsuccessfully trying to drag me to the bedroom when I finally snapped. I screamed for help. Lara stormed over to me and warned me that I wasn’t behaving. Me?! What about the woman, drunk in my arms?! What perfectly good Christmas ruined.

    30th December 2005

    I have received a letter from Lady Sandleton – Alicia. She apologised for her behaviour but it won’t undo what it did. I am recovering from the shock. Nonetheless, she wishes to keep in contact with me. Zip reckons she’s after me. I hope not!

    I have been thinking about my old glasses recently. I’ve noticed that their out of date, in the fashion sense. They’re chunky and I look like I should be living in the ‘80’s. Mother should have taken me to Specsavers. I will ask Zip if he agrees. If he does, it will be a new year and a new Alister! [/ffstory]

    What do you think of it so far?

  • hey,

    as Ron Weasley would say: "Bloody brilliant!" this is very well done. I can see Alister writing this down and the words
    echoing in his mind. by all means, finish this and submit it to Ostercy's site. I know the judges would love it. :grins

    Good luck in your new bed. Enjoy your nightmare, son, while you're resting your head.--

  • Wow, that was quite a read and I'm sure it took lots of time and effort. The writing style seems very Alister-like indeed, when I read the diary I had his voice in my mind all the time, just like an imaginary audio book. I found Alister's uptight behaviour towards Godiva a bit odd, though. He doesn't seem like a ladies man, sure, but it was still quite strange how he refused to have sex with her after this long time ;-) Or maybe you have your reasons for that since there were quite a few hints at some sort of attraction between him and Zip? I'd like to read the rest at some time since there are a few unanswered questions left in my mind :-)

  • When I work at it, I myself hear his voice. I can't tell you how wonderful it is, listening to it echoing around my mind whilst picturing him do all of these things. The story's primary purpose so it'd keep my mind off being depressed (I was terrible, cried everyday for weeks, ignored my *ex*boyfriend) but it was so good that I just had to show it to someone. Thanks for the comments! :D

  • Here it is, 2006:

    [ffstory]4th January 2006

    My new glasses are very nice, and I look tremendously handsome. Zip teased me by wolf-whistling. He got flick on the ear for that. Winston said he liked them and confessed that if he needed to wear glasses, he would have mine. I wish Lara was there to see me. She was too busy training for her mission for the Chinese gentleman. Today, she dived from forty foot diving board into the swimming pool. I was terrified that she might hit her head on the bottom but she miraculously cheated that certain injury.

    Godiva and Edwin’s meeting is in a few days and I have soiling myself in nervousness and excitement. I am nervous that Godiva will say something along the lines of, “ You’re not anything like Alister!” or Edwin’s stammer to return, “ You’re too much for someone like me. You’re too carefree!” I went to a lot of trouble to arrange this meeting for them. I’d hate myself if they’d hate each other. But I am sure I’m fretting over nothing at all.

    5th January 2006

    Zip and I had great fun in the swimming pool today. It is our last day of freedom, as it were. Lara is flying to China in the helicopter as we speak. Anyway, Zip had bought an inflatable bed for him to play with. It is for children but I wouldn’t argue with Zip. I had a go on it. It wobbled like mad and I was terrified that I was going to get thrown off. Zip convinced me I wouldn’t. I started to relax after a while and we had a great time. It was fun, until Zip swam up behind me and pushed me off the bed. I know it was a joke but since I’m not that good enough swimmer, I felt unconfident on it. Winston came in and watched for a short time. Zip asked him to join in but the sweet old gentleman refused.

    6th January 2006

    Last night, during my midnight meeting with Zip, I showed him my plans for the novel. He told me that it would be his favourite book, if he liked reading ‘real literal crap.’ I assume he meant ‘literature’. Well, he came up with a good idea. He suggested I should take a holiday; a break from the mansion, whilst researching for the book. Considering it now, I think this is a very good idea. I should ask Lara, if the opportunity arises. As I mentioned in December, I have been feeling rather bored with life.

    7th January 2006

    With Zip’s idea scorched in my brain, I’ve been thinking of locations I would like to visit. There are many; Egypt, Greece, China, Europe, Russia etc. I’m not well-travelled. Father never dreamed of wasting his money on vacations when I was a child. But there is one location I have always dreamt of going, which just happens to be Florence, Italy. I’m not sure why. I first saw it on a globe when I was four years old and I fell deeply in love with it. It has everything there; historical buildings and places, intriguing people (so I’ve heard) and maybe I’ll meet my match there. My heart is starting heal again, after Godiva.

    10th January 2006

    I received a telephone call from a rather smitten Edwin this morning.

    The meeting with Godiva yesterday went perfectly. It went a bit too perfectly, actually. They were supposed to be having dinner at Edwin’s house in Scotland but they were too in love to. They went to the cinema, took trip after trip in the nearby park and ate nothing but food from a Fish & Chip shop. I’ve tasted that kind of food. It’s tripe. And today, you’re not going to believe it, today is their wedding! I nearly vomited in shock. Godiva spoke with her brother, and he froze. He was petrified but congratulated her nonetheless.

    12th January 2006

    Lara met with the Chinese gentleman. He wants her to find out the mystery of the ancient myth of Queen Xanthe. This well-known story is of Greek origin. It is thought that a good king ruled a large village (the translated name is Beauty Valley.) His subjects adored him very much but they hated his pretty yet stubborn and spoilt daughter, Xanthe. When he died, she took the throne. She was not all a good sovereign. She hurt the villagers and stole away their freedom. She ruled for sixty years. Then, when she died, all of the people celebrated her death and rejoiced the new king. Her spirit could see the festivities and became very badly tempered. She swore revenge.

    The gentleman had discovered that Xanthe’s spirit had awoken. Truth be told, iot had been trapped inside a stone statue of a hideous creature for centuries. It has already terrorised Beauty Valley. Lara is needed so the creature cannot destroy the rest of Greece. Personally, I think this is one of the most exciting adventures Lara has done since I’ve worked for her.

    13th January 2006

    Zip was finding the coordinates for Beauty Valley whilst talking friendly to me. He suggested asking Lara for time off for the trip in Italy. I couldn’t do that when she was on a mission. She needs me. I need to look anything about the queen in Greek mythology books. But eventually, Zip almost forced me to do it.

    I asked Lara through the ear device. In her words, “ That’s OK, Alister, as long as you finish helping me with this assignment.” For some strange reason, I thought she would get cross and shout at me for being lazy or selfish or something along those lines. So, I’ll need to book the holiday for late January or early February. Superb. I’m ecstatic!

    14th January 2006

    Lara suffered a terrible injury. She had uncovered the lost tomb of Xanthe and started to explore. The door closed in on her and caught her leg in it. It began to haemorrhage so I rushed off to call for an air ambulance. The accident damaged the earpiece but its camera seemed to work fine. Her leg was terribly mangled that we could see the bone poking through the skin. I felt queasy because I was so squeamish. Even Zip was heaving!

    Lara was grateful when she came home. Currently, she is resting in the hospital but is eager to get back to work. But how can she work with a broken leg? She won’t be able to work for a very long time.

    There is one positive in the situation though. Italy. I know I am being selfish, when Lara needs me the most, but there is no real reason for her keep me here. Winston and Zip can ‘hold down the fort’ as he would say. I booked the holiday for next week. I hope Lara won’t be mad.

    24th January 2006

    As we speak, the quite decent looking air hostesses are giving out drinks, snacks and offering services to the passengers. I am sitting next to an elderly gentleman named Dr. Frederick Walden. He is a well-known psychologist who I briefly studied when I was thirteen years old (I was going through a bit of a juvenile obsession with psychology.) I told him that I was a big fan of his work. He was flattered, greatly. He asked me what I was doing in Genoa. I explained about the novel. Dr. Walden loved the concept very much and jokingly asked for a cameo. I will. That is a very good idea. The main character will meet Dr. Walden and he tells him to do something with his life, and deserts here we come!

    26th January 2006

    Yesterday was a mere restful day. I read up on any sights that I might need to see before leaving and learnt very little Italian. Just some basic phrases such as, “ What is the way to the train station?” and “ May I have a drink, please?” and “ Thank you very much.” But I wished I had someone to practise on. Winston said Lara can speak fluent Italian. Is there anything she can’t do? Anyway, tomorrow will be my venture into the city of Genoa. I will start with the cathedrals. They’re ancient and mystifying.

    27th January 2006

    My fingers are exhausted from taking so many photographs. The cathedrals were beautiful. In fact, I saw the one where Lara went to last year, with the Azzuro Gem. I will be going to a bar tonight; after what Zip had texted me to my mobile phone. Of course, I won’t be drinking, I only do that with Zip.

    He texted me to say that he and his new girlfriend, Myrna (I deliberately stopped wasting paper mentioning them) had made love in my bed, and described what they did in great detail. The shock hit me like a wet fish, until I finally reached the bottom of the text. “ Only jk!” What a horrible joke!

    28th January 2006

    I forgot all about Zip’s text last night. I met a lovely German couple. Their names were Helmuth and Marlene. They saw that I was on my own so they offered to buy me an alcoholic drink. We got into talking. They told me that their adult children had paid for a getaway holiday, as their anniversary gift. They’ve been married thirty years. I told them about my novel. They liked the plot very much and like, Dr. Walden, they asked for a cameo. I made a note of it. I hope I will run into them again.

    1st February 2006

    I went to the aquarium this afternoon. It was very interesting and I learnt a lot. It was slightly embarrassing walking around by myself but I didn’t care that much.
    In the café, I was buying a cup of coffee, when an odd woman came up to me and told me that I’m handsome. Am I? Am I really that attractive? I tried to start a conversation with this woman, but it turned out that she was with her husband and two sons. The husband apologised for her. It did wonders for my self-esteem. Just for a moment there, I truly thought the woman was the one for me. She wasn’t exactly the most beautiful person in the world but she was nice looking.

    In my room tonight, I was beginning to feel a bit lonely so I telephoned Godiva. After the wedding, she decided to move to Scotland to live with Edwin. She is going back to America today to pack the rest of her things. She sounded extremely happy. I’m pleased for her, even after what we’ve been through together.

    4th February 2006

    I have a girlfriend now. Her name is Foxy. I know it isn’t her actual Christian name but I love that name nonetheless. She is gorgeous. She has jet black hair which is so long that it goes down to her buttocks. Her eyes are brown. Her skin is dark, presumably because of a fake tan. Her chest is plastic. Despite these nice (and sometimes fake) features, she is also plump, curved and healthy. I don’t care about all of those things. I love her because of her bubbly personality. She has a wonderful laugh. She makes good jokes. She’s not exactly the brightest bulb in the drawer but I can teach her the subjects she wants to learn.

    She’s a permanent resident of Genoa. She visited Europe numerous times throughout her childhood, and she loved Italy so much that once she turned eighteen, she came to live here. At least, that’s what she said.

    We met in quite odd circumstances. I was lost. The map I was trying to read was not at all a help. I bumped into her accidentally. We apologised in unison and we just had to laugh at ourselves. She caught a glimpse of the eyes behind the glasses and I gazed into hers. Something clicked. She asked me for a coffee and we talked and talked and talked. Then she came back to the hotel room and hasn’t left since. She will be in my novel, obviously.

    8th February 2006

    All I can think about is Foxy. I have been out with her every night. I made her Mother’s curry at her flat this evening. She loved it, like everyone else who had sampled a taste. She also said that she loves me. Afterwards, I couldn’t stop smiling.

    I even telephoned Zip just to tell him. This is the rather random conversation went: “ Hello, Alister here. I’ve been seeing this woman; Foxy. Tonight she told me she loved me! I’m so happy!” “ Foxy? Sounds like a porn-star! *Chuckles*” “ Oh ha-ha-ha!” “ Only jokin’, babe. So, is she hot?” “ I don’t care. She’s funny and loud and childish. She’s sort of like you.” “ Me?! *Bad English accent* Oh, you do flatter me, darlin’,” “ Quiet, you! By the way, how is Lara’s leg?” “ ‘S fine. Healin’ is all. She has crutches but she can move like a cheetah on ‘em!” “ Bloody hell. When will she learn?” “ Dunno. I gotta go!” “ Is Myrna there?” “ Nah, got ridda her ages ago. Winston’s pissed off. I put peanut butter in his shoes.” “ All right, take care. Goodbye.”

    9th February 2006

    I went shopping with Foxy. She asked to buy practically everything in the shop; jewellery, footwear, clothes, confectionaries etc. I charged it all to Lara’s credit card, which she almost begged me to take. It came to £588.27 in total. Sorry Lara, but a man’s got to do what he’s got to do.

    Foxy is good fun to be with. I love her with all my heart. I love her more than I did Godiva.

    22nd February 2006

    I apologise for the short absence but I have a number of exciting announcements. Foxy asked me to marry her and I said yes. Yes, I know, tradition says the man should take care of the proposing but Foxy is not like that at all. She’s different from most girls. She’s unique. The other piece of news is that she’s requested me to give up my British life and live here, in Italy. There are some concerns on that subject. It’s been my home since I was a mere infant. I just can’t abandon it just for a lady. I would need to give that some thought.

    I understand that we got engaged after such a short relationship but we love each other very much. And if it worked for Godiva, it could also with us.
    I phoned Zip to announce the exciting news. He wasn’t that thrilled for me. His reaction was plainly this: “ Oh. That’s…That’s very cool of you. Good job, sport.” I will have to ask why he was sounded so melancholy about it. I’m positive he has his reasons.

    23rd February 2006

    Foxy has already picked out a wedding dress. It’s not my taste but it is very unique and imaginative. It is a leopard skin dress with black stiletto boots with a faux fox wrap, because it is her namesake. She already has a lovely ring but cost me (and I mean, Lara) £3,000. The stone is so enormous that you could poke both your eyes out. I’m too excited for words!

    24th February 2006

    Foxy wants to take things to the next level, since we’ll be married soon. We’ve decided on the date, by the way. It’s the 27th August; my birthday. Foxy said she’s always had a fondness for that date, and now she knows why.

    Anyway, at dinner (once again I cooked Mother’s curry) she mentioned it. I couldn’t say I’m not ready for such obligations. She gave me a strange look. A look I know all too well. Immediately after finishing eating, she slipped off to the bedroom. My mobile phone rang so I answered it. It was Winston. Zip had told him about Foxy and he had rung to warn me to be careful (in other words, a boring lecture on what I am already aware of.) I gave him a brisk response of, “ I am careful. I need to go!” I dashed after her to the bedroom.

    There she was, in all her glory; hair flowing down her body like the Venus DeMilo, skin glistening as if it had been oiled and a sideward smile. I grinned, she was stunning but something was wrong. She was arousing yet I was not aroused. Desperate, I sat at the end of the bed with a bump. I buried my head in my hands. Foxy asked if I was all right. There was nothing I could say other than, “ I’m not ready for this. We can’t do this right now.” Foxy understood but muttered something under her breath quite angrily. The evening ended quite nicely, actually, when she rested her head on my shoulder.

    28th February 2006

    Foxy has been acting very strange since the previous entry. She has been a bit giggly, especially when she’s speaking with friends. Maybe it is those marital nerves? I telephoned Zip for advice. I figured, since he has had so many relationships, he must have some idea of marriage. “ She’s dishin’ some goss to her friends, bud,” he said, almost instantly after I had asked the question. “ About me? Why the devil would she do that?!” There was a pause. “ Well…you do have these weird habits,” “ What weird habits?!” I remember shrieking. There was another pause but this one was a lot shorter. “ There’s that. And there’s…uh…the tooth brushing. You brush, like, every tooth on its own!” “ I take very good care of my teeth, unlike some people.” “ You have that weird laugh,” Zip continued, “ Like ‘Hoo-hoo-hoo-hee-hee-haa!’” “ I do not!” There’s no real need to add the rest. Partly because they’re not true.

    As every gentleman should know, it is rude to eavesdrop on their fiancée’s personal telephone calls, therefore I banned myself from doing such a thing. Curiosity won’t kill this cat. But I would have to ask her in due time. I mean, it’s not nice for someone to keep secrets from their fiancée.

    3rd April 2006

    Foxy has started to be distant from me. She keeps saying she is exhausted, or she’s ill or ‘PMS-y’. She doesn’t feel like nattering. When she does, it is only for a short period of time. The good thing is, she cuddles up to me when we watch television together.

    I am slightly worried but I’m sure her normal behaviour will return soon. I was showing her photographs of Croft Manor and she enjoyed seeing what my home looks like. I told her stories about Zip, Winston and Lara. Foxy seemed quite engaged in that. She even started to laugh. That’s a good sign.

    6th April 2006

    Foxy and I got into an argument, so I am on the way home. It has been long overdue. It’s heartbreaking but I will proceed to write about it.

    Foxy was talking about meeting the Queen of England and all sorts of rubbish which was getting on my last nerve. I explained to her that we’ll have no chance of meeting her; Lara is more likely to. I told her that. But Foxy came out with, “ What?! I thought you were a famous aristocratic archaeologist.” I turned quite bitter when she said those words. The memories of Father abusing me were brought back. “ That is my father. I’m nothing like him; I am actually working myself to the bone!” “ Well, when he dies, we’ll get his money. Then you can stop working. That’s what you want, isn’t it?” I was angered by this remark. “ NO! Father’s cut me out of his will. I will never be rich,” “ But if you have a butler, how can you be poor? You must have some money stashed away.” I was confused, angry and agitated. “ No, Winston is Lara’s employee, not mine.” “ So you lied to me, then?” Foxy answered, she was upset as well.

    “ I didn’t lie. You just assumed! I never said anything about being rich, DID I!?!” Foxy’s face was bright pink. “ YES! YOU DID!! WHAT ABOUT THOSE PICTURES?!” I was shuddering in rage. I could not believe my fiancée’s stupidity. “ Those are photographs of my home. I LIVE WITH LARA BECAUSE I WORK FOR HER! I can’t believe you…You-y-you just want me for my money!” Foxy flinched at this and answered a very loud yes. I stormed out. Straight away, she rushed out with her ring in her hand. “ And I bet you lied about being gay, too! I mean, look at your haircut, and it looks like you stole those stupid glasses from Austin Powers. Plus, that beard you’re trying to grow; that ain’t going to fool no one.” Those insults did wonders for my self-esteem. I got a taxicab to the airport. I can’t believe I actually let that…courtesan into my heart.

    7th April 2006

    I checked into a hotel, just so I can be on my own for a few days and think about things. I’m not ready to face the real world yet. I feel like I don’t know who I am right now. I can’t decide if Archaeology was the right path for me. I don’t know what sexuality I am. I don’t know if I should carry on with life or wallow in my self-pity. I’m confused. How could I’ve lost Foxy? The one I’d love forever? The one I was supposed to marry? But the main question is, why was she only interested in me for the money?

    11th April 2006

    As I approached Croft Manor in the taxi, the old feelings rushed back. I was very eager to get back to work. The driver made me chuckle by saying, “ Lordy, guv. Who’s yer mum, the Queen of England?!” in a strong Cockney accent.

    Winston opened the doors and almost had a heart attack in shock. He showed me in. The inside of the mansion was immaculate. Lara had been redecorating by the looks of it. Approaching the Tech Room, my mouth was already aching from grinning. Zip was glued to the chair, staring at the computer screen, wincing and grimacing. Lara must be on a mission. I tapped his shoulder. All he could do was smile. He alerted Lara almost immediately. She was also pleased to hear from me. It was very hard to think of at the time that she was all in the way in Bolivia.

    12th April 2006

    I am happier now. Seeing Lara diving to the ledge below from a mountain, made my stomach leap to my mouth. It gave me a thrill. It was like my memories of past adventures were being refreshed. I was deadly afraid that she would injure herself again but I couldn’t stop smiling.

    Later this morning, I asked Zip why he was so unexcited about my engagement to Foxy. His answer was a simple one and it was very sweet in the moment, “ I just didn’t wanna see you get hurt. I really like ya, Alister; you’re my best bud! I wanted to protect ya.” He squeezed my shoulder in a tight grasp and gazed deeply in my eyes. I returned that motion, until we were both brought back to Earth. I had the sudden urge to re-explore my sanctuary.

    14th April 2006

    I told Zip all about Foxy and what we did together in the short time we had spent. He said she was nothing but ‘a goddamn goldigger,’ and other vulgar comments which I wish not to share. Childishly, I flicked him in between the eyes. He punched my arm as a response. Soon after, we were involved in juvenile games. I missed that. I missed drinking alcoholic beverages. I missed Zip; his wide grin, addictive personality, enthusiasm for sports, laughable notions, strong American accent. I missed his whole presence!

    17th April 2006

    I asked Zip if he had heard news from Godiva or Edwin or his family. He said that Godiva and Edwin had an important announcement. But it was the fact that I was away, made them postpone it. So, Zip telephoned his sibling in Scotland. They spoke for a very long time. It made me feel quite anxious and uneasy.

    As soon as he put the phone down, he screamed out, “ I’M GONNA BE AN UNCLE! AGAIN!” He displayed a few freestyle dance moves (which I believe is called breakdancing.) I was stunned and speechless by the news. My beautiful Godiva; with child?! It was hard to believe that only just last year, she was plastered all over me.

    18th April 2006

    Lara was in Peru today. Her old friend, Anaya Imanu, discovered an archaeological dig, where they were allegedly involved in the accident which made the caves collapse. Lara didn’t say much about it, except that someone died. Zip was pleased as punch when she abused a stolen motorcycle, and I was very concerned whilst researching a Bolivian queen, whose tomb is somewhere in the collapsed caves.

    But at the same time, I was thinking about Godiva. She is nearly sixteen weeks and has had several scans. She texted me earlier, saying “ No bump yet!” Knowing her, she’s anxious, giddy and excited about this charade. No doubt she is already thinking about names.

    19th April 2006

    Lara has come home with only a bruise or scratch here and there. It’s amazing how she can do these dangerous assignments without getting injured. She is in urgent need of a formal dress. Winston suggested a lovely, but outdated red dress complete with matching handbag and shoulder pads. Zip came up with an outfit that would suit Foxy. I took out a black dress. It reminded me of the Christmas dinner. I offered to brush her hair and in the end, Lara Croft; boisterous, tough, determined extraordinaire, transformed into Lady Croft: delicate lotus flower, feminine extraordinaire. She was gorgeous. Zip thought she deserved a wolf-whistle. Winston was impressed. “ You look just like your mother,” he said. “ Do you truly think so?” Lara asked.

    We all looked up to the portrait on the wall over the fireplace. The resemblance was eerie. There was a silent moment, before Lara ran out (in high heels!) to catch the helicopter. I still can’t get over the fact that Lara is so determined.

    22nd April 2006

    Lara is becoming more and more obsessed with her mission as the days go on. She’s come back home for a day or two, so she can rest. I am becoming more and more concerned about her mental health. All she does is talk about her father’s search for her missing mother. She is starting to think she is actually going to find her. The woman has been gone for thirty odd years; the most likely thing is that she’s dead.

    25th April 2006

    Zip found the location of James Rutland, Ghana. It was a terrifying journey. There was also a lesson learnt. Professor Darber’s boring lecture was incorrect. He got the name of the artefact wrong. It was not the Ghalili Key (which is something else entirely) but the Nomad’s Dagger. It started with a dive off a cliff. It made me feel queasy so I decided to do some research work. And it just had to end with the mansion being invaded. A blonde woman, around Lara’s age, barged in with mercenaries, leaving Winston rather shaken. We all were.

    The woman ransacked the Tech Room. The mercenaries held us at gunpoint. After what seemed like hours, she was looking rather agitated. She let out an exasperated roar and stormed out without another word. The whole manor went silent. The clocks didn’t tick. The fire didn’t crackle. No one gulped. Our eyes darted to the computer. Zip groaned. It was smoking. He said it would take hours to repair. Winston tried to telephone Lara on her mobile but it was out of range.
    Luckily, with Zip’s understanding of computers, the system was up and running in no time. Lara seemed to be worried. It gave me a short chuckle.

    29th April 2006

    Kazakhstan is next on the list of locations. Zip doesn’t know how to pronounce the name properly. Instead he called it, ‘Crazy-kaki-stan.’ It’s rather amusing. Even Winston smiled. Lara’s mission was terrorizing. The air looked smoky and she kept running into the corpses of scientists who killed fifty years ago. The electrical charges in the building were astronomical. I was absolutely convinced she would receive a nasty shock.

    We met the woman again. This time, she was given a name; Amanda. Amanda is a devastatingly evil person. She is in possession of a frightening monster. It was so big, it could have ripped Lara’s head off. Zip was baffled at how to defeat it. But Lara did the intelligent action and ignored it. She got the sword fragment back in a flash. The three of us were cheering like football fanatics. The next location was Cornwall, much to Lara’s disappointment. It was disappointing. Zip was questing after King Arthur’s tomb and it turned out to be a sleazy tourist attraction.

    I made my opinions on the Arthurian legends clear. It annoyed Lara and Zip, but I didn’t care. It’s ridiculous. If people had one ounce of intelligence, they won’t believe in such rubbish.

    2nd May 2006

    Lara’s mission has led her to the Himalayas. Something life-threatening happened to her there. She explained to the both of us that she was involved in airplane accident when she was just barely nine years of age. Then came Lady Amelia’s disappearance. The remains of the airplane crash were still there. It was indescribable. I felt awful when I saw the wreckage. When she grabbed the broach, my heart went out to her. I know what it is like to lose a parent, at least she had something that precious to them. She had the broach, the estate and portrait. I had nothing but a bloody recipe.

    Lara wanted to go to a monastery nearby. It turned out to be the one where she sheltered, years ago. Zip was more interested in destroying an object with Excalibur, than Lara’s tragic past. As a joke, he called me a sissy. Does anyone care about Lara’s feelings?

    3rd May 2006

    Lara is in Bolivia. She is more determined than ever. The pain inside her must be exploding. She intended to inflict wounds on Amanda. She wanted to the truth, even did it mean killing her. We left her to it but we still watched what was going on. It was like something out of a horror film. After a gruesome battle, the truth came out. “ She’s not dead!” we heard Amanda saying. Lady Amelia, is in a mythical paradise. Avalon, to be precise. It’s absurd.

    I need to meet with Lara at the British Museum. Zip has duties so Winston will have to drive me.

    17th May 2006

    Lara hasn’t slept in days. It’s beginning to show. She is determined to find the location of Avalon. I refuse to take part in it. Now, we’re not on speaking terms. I don’t care. I’d rather stand by my beliefs than participate in bedtime stories. I might have been wrong with Excalibur’s existence but I am right about Avalon’s.

    Zip said to me earlier that I should just do it, then I wouldn’t get fired. I will consider it, if Lara’s juvenile strop ends. Winston also took me aside. He explained that searching for her parents was all that mattered to Lara. He then asked, “ Would you do anything to get your mother back?” I can’t believe this, but I would. I’d kill everyone in my path to get Mother back from the dead; even if it means defying nature.

    18th May 2006

    I received a letter from my cousin, Priya, today. She wrote that her twin daughters are doing beautifully and are growing bigger everyday. She says she is very proud of them. She and her husband are hoping that they are going to say their first words in several weeks. They’re both chatterboxes. Inside of the envelope, were photographs. Seeing their mother cradle them both, made me feel a bit broody. I wonder if I have the opportunity to have children? Oh goodness. It’s lunchtime and I am late.

    19th May 2006

    A few minutes ago, Zip and I were talking. We were discussing about our futures. About what will happen to us when the Croft team comes to an end. I said I’d travel the world, meet old friends and continue working for Croft Industries; how boring. I also mentioned that I’d like to marry someone special and have a happy family with them. Zip said he’d go back to America for a while and do something illegal. Then he’d come back to England and marry someone special and have a happy family with them. We looked at each other with a grin on our faces. We both had ideas of that person. Then Zip muttered, “ C’mon, man. It’s late and I’m kinda tired.” We said our goodnights and that was it. What a bizarre moment.

    11th June 2006

    Winston injured his back when he was hanging new curtains the other day. Lara has taken ill from her numerous sleepless nights. Therefore, Zip and I have been relieved of our daily duties to nurse them back to health. When it was my turn to swab Lara’s sweaty forehead, she looked at me. She said in a weak voice, “ I’m sorry, Alister. I didn’t do this purposely,” and then fainted.

    I grabbed her, just in time. With Zip’s help, we carried her to her bed. I stayed with her for hours. She woke up during the evening. Her eyes were black with fatigue and she was very skinny. She smiled. “ Thank you,” she said. She took my hand and gave it a tight squeeze. I put my other hand under hers and squeezed in response. “ I’m sorry. It feels like I’ve been possessed. I want to find my mother and nothing will stop me!” I stopped her. “ Ssshh. Be quiet, now,” that was what Mother told me whenever I was upset or ill. “ You did the right thing for letting Amanda live but you shouldn’t make yourself ill because of it. You’ll kill yourself if you’re not careful.” I told her in the softest whisper I could muster. It surprised me what came out of my mouth. I never talked to anyone like that before.

    13th June 2006

    Lara has started meditating before she goes to sleep. She seems stronger than she was. I hope she will be better soon. Winston’s back is still injured. He can barely walk without yelling out in pain. Zip wants to alert the doctor but Winston refuses to see him.

    I have not done much. My nose is stuck in my favourite books. I know this is slightly selfish, leaving Zip to take care of Winston, but I’m not like the rest of the team. They’re adventurous, daring, ambitious and brave. They’re not afraid to stare Death in the face. I’m horrified of everything that happens in this manor. Sometimes, I think I’m not up to this kind of work. Sometimes, I wish I had never taken Father’s offer.

    17th June 2006

    A gentleman came to visit Lara this morning. He called himself Dr. Nathaniel Fuller. He was a partner of Lord Richard. He worked along with him and someone else who remained nameless, trying to find clues to Lady Amelia’s death. He congratulated her on discovering them. He also said to come to him if there are any enquiries. It was brief meeting. It was an unemotional one. It was rather odd, if I say so myself. They talked for only a short period of time and were finished in just under an hour. The way he barged in, demanding to see the daughter of one of his dearest friends suggested he would stay for the rest of the day, or at least for several hours.
    Winston’s back is getting much better. He should be able to work in a few days. He’ll be glad of that. He hates staying in bed all day. He says he is a dreadful burden on us.

    18th June 2006

    Lara decided to bring out her MP5 to kill her boredom. Her skills are impressive though grisly. The powerful weapon ripped the dummy to shreds within minutes. It made me wonder how dangerous Lara can be. Cross paths with her, and you could die a bloodthirsty death. Later she told me and Zip that she likes the MP5 but it doesn’t make her old Browning Hi-Power pistols any less faithful. Apparently, these said pistols were very first weapons she used.

    Zip, as you could imagine, was insanely jealous. He showed off his skills. He told me he learnt how to use a gun from his brothers, Ricky and Rex. Something tells me he was involved in the gang fight. That thought made me feel scared of Zip. Like Lara, he could be lethal.

    Tonight, I asked him if he was in the gang fight. “ What?! Nah, don’t be silly! Ricky hid drugs in my bedroom. I got caught out. I could’ve said it was Ricky’s, but I couldn’t betray my brother. You know?” I was dumbfounded. What he did seemed so protective, and wonderful. “ Yeah, I know.” I think I mumbled after a pause. I wish I had a brother like Zip.

    23rd June 2006

    Edwin and Godiva had a scare. Godiva fell down a flight of stairs and injured herself. She started haemorrhaging and was rushed to hospital immediately. She was horrified that she was going to lose the baby. It was a miracle that it survived. Edwin rang to tell Zip. I swear he nearly fainted. He was very concerned and anxious. What if the fall had induced labour and the child didn’t survive? I’m relieved. I wouldn’t want them to lose something as precious as their child. And I know Zip wouldn’t want to lose a nephew or niece.

    He wants to go out tonight to celebrate. He’ll want to drag me along, I bet. Lara overheard the news and is eerily calm about it. Zip asked her if she’d like to come along to the festivities. She declined, almost instantly. She has work to do. Decisively, she wishes to search for Amanda, and where she is now.

    24th June 2006

    I think I suffered my very first hangover this morning. Every slightest sound cut through me as it pounded against my head. I could barely see and I could feel vomit at the back of my throat. When I attempted to eat breakfast, Winston noticed that I was off colour. I began heaving and he sent me off to bed straight away. It was a good thing that Lara was still in the shower at that point. I’d hate to embarrass myself in front of my boss again. I felt awfully sick, but I managed to get some sleep.

    I think I must have woken up around lunchtime because I could hear Winston making noise in the kitchen. Zip’s loud American voice was what woke up me from this deep slumber. He was laughing and rattling on about something. My head was better and I didn’t feel as ill as before. Gingerly, I got up and washed my face to feel fresh after my hard night. Zip came in to see if I was awake. “ Well, I think I made you a man.” “ Oh, and what exactly are you implying?” I asked him in a joking manner. “ I dunno. But you’re one of us now. The fam, I mean.” I sat on the bed, next to my dear friend. That moved me almost to tears. “ Thank you. It means a lot to me,” I said. Zip scoffed it aside. He must have thought I wasn’t serious.

    27th June 2006

    Lara has received a minor assignment. An elderly gentleman wishes to find a photograph of his deceased spouse. He lost it in Ireland years ago and apparently it is very important that he retrieves it. The man is dying. I feel sorry for him.

    1st July 2006

    The helicopter took Lara to Ireland. She needed to go in a large house, no more than hundred years old, and asked the occupants to let her rummage through the attic. It wasn’t easy. It was like trying to find a needle in a haystack.

    The occupant of the house was an attractive middle-aged woman with short blonde hair. Her eyes were a mysterious blue which aroused Zip tremendously. I must admit, I was too. He yelled vulgar comments at the screen. Winston scolded him and quite firmly. Zip seemed a bit sheepish after that and kept quiet for the rest of the day.

    2nd July 2006

    “ Well, that was a complete waste of time,” Lara said to me when she climbed off the helicopter early this morning. I was the only one who was awake to see her. We conversed for a long time soon after that. I’ve known her for two years and yet, there are many things I am discovering about her. I never knew she had a phobia of Corgis. I never knew about her dark history with men. When she smiled at me, all I could do was think about the things that she told me. She has fought heartbreak so many times in her life. She has never broken down that metaphorical wall. She has never shown sadness. I appreciate how strong she truly is. I know she would pull through Father’s violent temper and toss it aside.

    It was hours before the others woke up. Zip went off to the gym to do his morning work out as usual. Winston got busy making breakfast. Then after a three-hour shower, Zip hacked into an old girlfriend’s account as a joke and sent junk mail to friends. He thought it would be funny. Zip is not to be trifled with. When the girlfriend realised that he had done this, she went ballistic. Then Zip told her to ‘shuddup’ and to ‘get laid’. Lara was sleeping all the day. Thank goodness she didn’t see this immature behaviour.

    6th July 2006

    The sun has finally decided to come out and Zip is overjoyed. He dared me to a game of basketball. It was a wonderful lark. Of course, Zip was a better player than me, but that didn’t mattered. Thinking back to my rather sheltered childhood, I wish Mother wanted me to play outside with the other little boys, instead of getting stuck in my studies, books and odd hobbies. I even a shed a sweat! There were numerous offensive language from Zip but we were having a brilliant time that I didn’t care. It was so fun today. We all ate lunch outside on the terrace. Winston brought out salads, soups and sandwiches along with ice cold drinks. Lara joined our game after lunch. She was on Zip’s side, which I think was unfair but it was simply a fun game, not the NBA.

    I telephoned Edwin to tell him about it. He told me that the baby and its mother were recovering well after the incident. They had a scan and the baby was perfectly healthy. I was so relieved to hear that. Zip certainly was. He yelled out in joy and danced around the Tech Room and even kissed Lara on the lips. There are some things in this world that I should never have seen and that was one of them. But it was worth it to see him receiving a good hard smack across the face.

    8th July 2006

    I had the most peculiar dream last night. I was falling downwards through the sky. Things that everyone in my life has said to me were echoing through my head. “ You’re useless! You’re not fit to wear the Fletcher name!” I heard Father scream. “ I love you. D’you know that?” I heard Godiva whisper. “ I know we’ll be the best of friends forever,” I heard Priya chuckle. “ You’re my best friend, dude,” I heard Zip slur. “ I have never seen such a hard worker before in my life,” I heard Lara exclaim. The list goes on.

    It was very odd, indeed. I am not entirely sure, but I think this dream is telling me that I’ve been told all these things and they are all affected me in some way. The negative comments from Father made me lose confidence in myself and we are not speaking to one another. Godiva’s love for me has made me realise who I am, partially. Priya’s friendship during childhood banished the isolation I experienced at school. Zip’s friendship during adulthood has changed me into a better person. When we are together, I am confident and brave. Lara has done something to me. I don’t know what but I find her an intensely inspirational person. I can see her being admired by young girls all over the world.

    9th July 2006

    Winston received an weird telephone call this morning. He has no family, he certainly doesn’t have any friends, so who was it? Zip proceeded to ask Lara but thinking about the slap the other day, he thought it was best not to. It was an old friend of Lord Richard’s. It was a female. Her name is Harriet Cliffe-Gait. She wanted an important matter to discuss with Winston. The problem is, no one in the mansion knows what it is; not even Lara. Zip has a theory though. He thinks that they’re showing each other a good time, if you get my drift. Just the thought of it made me feel the vomit at the back of my throat. Winston is entitled to his privacy but we cannot stop thinking about it.

    15th July 2006

    Lara is going to see Harriet. She has an assignment for the tomb raider. But if Harriet requested Winston the other day, why does she want Lara? I am confused. Zip tried talking to Winston but he kept quiet and told the crude American to keep his noise out of other people’s business. Now, Zip thinks his theory is one hundred percent correct. He is whizzing around on the skateboard throughout the house shouting, “ Winston and Harry sittin’ a tree K-I-S-S-I-N-G!” I will be having a word with him tonight, during our beers.

    I love Zip and his child-like ways and attitude but sometimes he is too infantile. I mean, a thirty five year old grown man shouldn’t be acting thirty years younger, should he?

    16th July 2006

    Harriet’s deceased husband was an archaeologist and she decided to carry on with his work after he had passed away. One of his projects was the location of an Egyptian knife that could hold the answer to life itself. Since Mrs. Cliffe-Gait is getting older, she cannot run around temples, tombs and jungles like Miss. Croft, so she asked her to do the task for her. She is preparing herself as we speak. She is meditating under the stars. I want to discuss something with her but Winston told Zip and I that she mustn’t be disturbed. He said this with a rub of the buttocks which made Zip roar with laughter.

    22nd July 2006

    Lara set off rather early to get to Egypt on time. She had to go to the Temple of Horus. It had collapsed some years ago and was a complete wreck by the time Lara got there. There was red tape wrapped around it with ‘DANGER! Unsafe’ written on it. Before she went inside, she said to us, “ I thought I’d never come back to this place.” She knelt down and began to punch the sand with her fist. She seemed distressed and upset. Zip gave me an odd look; like he knew what happened. Winston revealed all in a sad sigh, “ That is where the old Lara was stolen from us.”

    I was left rather puzzled. What did he mean by, ‘old Lara’? Was it where she nearly died? If so, how did she get out? How did it all happen? Why is Lara upset about going back? I would need to do research on this; without the aid of the Croft team.

    23rd July 2006

    Since the Temple of Horus was in ruin, Lara had a bit of trouble climbing over the rocks. She hurt herself a bit, but not badly. She was came over all panicky at one point when she kept hearing eerie ambient noises. She was trembling awfully. When she turned a corner, a mummy jumped out which made her scream. She quickly slaughtered it, though. It wasn’t long until she found the knife.

    It was beautiful. It had jagged edges and its blade glowed a bright orange colour. She requested me to research the markings on the handle. From what I could make out on the camera, that it was Hieroglyphics.

    When Lara came home, I began researching right away. My research tells me the markings are a chant or spell or something along those lines. It says, “ The King of Light will see you in the darkness.” I told Lara this and she figured it out, almost immediately. She explained her theory to Zip, Winston and I. “ So, this knife is something to do with Horus. ‘The King of Light will see in the darkness,’” she repeated slowly as her intelligent mind clicked. “ Obviously, this knife has something to do with the afterlife. It must be a warning to someone who did the king wrong.” When we buckled down to do more research, I was amazed to find that she was correct. But we couldn’t solve the mystery for Mrs. Cliffe-Gait. That was her job.

    27th July 2006

    A mercenary invaded the mansion today. Luckily, Lara wasn’t working. “ ON THE FLOOR! NOW!” he screamed at me and Zip. We did so. Zip was calm and was giggling silently as I was shaking like a leaf in terror. I was praying to God that he wouldn’t shoot us. Lara was in the kitchen therefore heard every word. “ What do you want?!” she yelled with her faithful pistols in her hands. “ The Wraith Stone. Where is it?” the mercenary said in a menacing voice. “ I’m sorry. I’m not liable to say that.” The mercenary didn’t know what to do so he loaded his gun and was ready to shoot. “ I don’t think you should be doing that, should you?” Lara snapped with a sideward smile. Zip beamed and I cowered in fear. I wasn’t afraid to admit that I was soiling myself.

    The mercenary furrowed his brow and stepped toward Lara. He pressed his gun into her chest. “ Tell me or I shoot.” Lara stood high and proud. Her eyes flickered as she thought up a plan. “ If you shoot me, I can’t tell you. A bit of a paradox, isn’t it?” The mercenary looked dumbfounded for one second, then continued, “ Then I’ll shoot your little boyfriends!” he gestured to us. Zip snorted in laughter. “ So tell me where the damn stone is!” I moved to under the computer desk. I felt safe there; I was terrified! “ No,” Lara said firmly. The mercenary roared and lunged for Lara’s throat. But stopped in his tracks and collapsed hard to the floor. Winston had gotten a candlestick and bashed it on the soldier’s head. When he came to, he ran away with his tail between his legs.

    1st August 2006

    I was thinking today, that it is Father’s birthday and he is probably all alone. He is probably sitting in his house with nothing but an alcoholic beverage to keep him company. Zip told me to put it out of my mind and think about my upcoming birthday. I just cannot. But I knew I can’t telephone him myself. Therefore, I dialled in Aunty Sana’s number. She said she was going to visit him for a conversation about me. Sensational. Not. I pleaded her not to say anything embarrassing. She said she wouldn’t, but she is a mother; it was obvious that she was going to say something embarrassing.

    I’ve also been thinking that I am the worst son of all time. It feels as though I’ve betrayed Mother, by treating Father so poorly. She would not have wanted that. I guess she would have wanted us to come together in the time of her death. But the thing is, I cannot break my promise to myself. I cannot talk to that monster. I feel so lost sometimes.

    5th August 2006

    Lara has found work in Australia. Some archaeologists dug up an old well which sucked their souls right out of their eyes. Thinking about it just makes me shudder. Zip is intrigued by this notion and is ready to lend a hand. He wants ‘ass-kickin’ action.’

    Lara entered the well and discovered that it is of Aborigine origin. It was rather dark and frightening. Her footsteps echoed through the stone walls; it sent shivers up and down my spine. Zip laughed at me a few times. She found carvings in a chamber. It demanded me to research the English translation of it. “ I will be glad to,” I said to her and Zip answered back, “ A geek to a library; like bees to a honey pot.” I scoffed as I slunk off to the study.

    6th August 2006

    The carving implied that there was a king centuries ago who mindlessly murdered his subjects who got in his way. His soldiers killed a spouse of an evil witch. The witch was infuriated and swore revenge on the king. She promised a bloodbath. Reading it repeatedly petrified me! I hope I can sleep tonight. Zip doesn’t comprehend the plot and keeps asking if the witch was a ‘babe’, which I do not know the meaning of. He is an imbecile but you can’t help but love his childlike innocence.

    Lara was appreciative of it though. She exclaimed, “ Brilliant!” and switched off her torch so she would be plunged into total darkness. She had plans.

    Tonight, Winston cooked a lovely meal of spaghetti bolognaise. He had several glasses of wine and began rambling on about Helen, his long deceased wife. He told us about their wedding, honeymoon and the conception of their daughter (which he described in great detail, might I add.) He then burst out laughing for no apparent reason. Zip and I carried him to his bedroom. Poor Winston. I feel sorry for the old bugger.

    8th August 2006

    Winston apologised for last night. He said he didn’t usually think about Helen and Irene, because the memories are too painful. He promised it wouldn’t happen again. It happened numerous times in the past and I’m worried about him. He has a problem and he believes it doesn’t exist when it transparently does. He won’t let us or even Lara help him.

    With Lara in Australia, Zip lazed about in the gardens. He whizzed around the fountain, repeatedly, on his skateboard and played some solo basketball while Winston slept off the rest of his hangover. Meanwhile, I continued to work, trying to correct any imperfections in the translation. I answered to a visitor in the afternoon. Her name is Nina Wakefield. Her physique was similar to Lara’s; her waist was skinny, muscles bulged in her arms but her breasts would never be the same as the original tomb raider’s.

    As I might have hinted, Nina is a tomb raider; the very tomb raider who took over from Miss. Croft when she broke her leg. She seemed like a nice young lady, outgoing and talkative. Her hair was long, wavy and coal black. Her eyes were an emerald colour which shone in the light shimmering from the stained glass window. Her skin was a healthy brown, as if she had received a tan from a recent adventure. Anyway, she was asking after Lara. She was genuinely compassionate about the leg injury. I didn’t let her worry since I explained that Lara was soon back in action within several months. I said, “ She certainly does defy logic.” Nina was amazed and stated, “ No, she defies gravity. Literally!” Then she left, without a trace. It was rather peculiar. I asked Zip later, if he saw Nina and said he didn’t have any idea who Nina is. I told Lara through the earpiece. She seemed pleased but I know she wouldn’t want people feeling pity for her. Good thing; Nina and Lara aren’t rivals.

    11th August 2006

    Lara found her way back out of the well which led her to a harbour where she stole a boat home. I hope she returns it one day. She will due to arrive in a number of days. She calculates four, if not a week. I won’t sleep until I know she is safe. Zip says I worry too much. Well, maybe he worries too little!

    Winston is well again, thank goodness. He is happily cleaning the mildew off the toilets at this very moment. Zip is outside screaming vulgar comments at himself whilst chasing a feral cat on the quadbike. What, is he ten years old? I, meanwhile, am reading a gorgeous book about romance. It takes me back to when I was almost married to the world’s lousiest vixen. Well, I must get back to it. My eyes are watering!

    13th August 2006

    Lara received a telephone call from a man named Mr. Gard. He wished to discuss her jump performances in confidence. I have no idea what he meant by that but I told him that she was away on business. He was pleased that she was keeping busy and abruptly rung up. It was so strange.

    Anyway, Zip went out with a new girlfriend named Rochelle. They went to the cinema and apparently had a great time. When the date ended this evening, he told me that he has found the love of his life. It seemed legitimate and I know I am going to regret this, but I believe him. There is a chance that this relationship will last. Of course, if Zip decides he’s bored and moves onto the next girlfriend.

    14th August 2006

    Edwin and Godiva have sent us a letter. They wish for me and Zip to go up to Scotland to see the baby when he or she is born. Godiva wants to speak in Monty Python ‘language’ the whole time so I will need to brush up on the sketches. They also sent us a photograph of her bump. Zip was beaming when he saw it. He can’t wait to be an uncle again (for the sixth time, bloody hell!) We showed Winston and he couldn’t believe it was the same girl who helped him in the kitchen.

    We got a telephone call from Lara. She has been injured in a storm but the boat is still strong enough to bring her back to England. If it isn’t, I will never forgive myself. I am grateful for James, the helicopter pilot. I must go now; Zip wants me to bring beverages to his mini-bar. It was filled yesterday, how could it have been emptied in just twenty four hours?

    15th August 2006

    At dinner, Zip raised the notion of having a garden party for my twenty eighth. Winston was delighted and was very intrigued. I, on the other hand, hadn’t thought about hosting a birthday party in years. I was doubtful and Zip attempted to persuade me. In the moment, I came to the conclusion that he was simply pulling my leg, like he has done since the two of us became best friends. I think I will just wait for Lara’s return so I can ask for her opinion.

    Right now, I am in my bedroom with Louis Armstrong on in the background. I am in deep thought about the party. I’m beginning to think, perhaps I will host this said celebration. After all, I am not well known in Lara’s aristocratic world and it could be the opportunity to make my mark in it. Who knows? I could meet that special someone (again.) I could meet someone to help me with the blasted novel. (Or rather, dissertation; Lara has no idea it’s a novel!)

    18th August 2006

    There is still no sign of Lara. I am beginning to grow a bit more concerned. She could be dead for all we know. I confided in Winston about my troubles and he comforted me by telling me that there is nothing to worry about. According to him, Lara did a similar action in 1996; she didn’t come home for weeks.

    Zip isn’t worried. He is quite content with that Rochelle woman. I can see why he would dub her the love of his life. She’s pretty in the traditional sense with wide eyes and small lips. They were in the gardens all day, playing sports. When I was doing some studying, I could hear them laugh, scream and natter. It made me smile, despite the fact that they could have been finished within minutes.

    19th August 2006

    Winston and I were awoken during the night. It must’ve been two o’clock in the morning! I tiptoed into the foyer where Winston was standing with a revolver in his trembling hand. He motioned me to be quiet as he walked stealthily down the staircase. I watched on in amazement. For such an elderly man, he could work for the Secret Service. He loaded the weapon and stepped toward the Tech Room. He must have jumped to the conclusion that burglars had broken in to hack into the computer system. Guess who it was. It was Rochelle and Zip expressing their love on the computer desk. Thank goodness it wasn’t me who saw them. It left Winston speechless for the rest of the day. Zip was very apologetic today.

    20th August 2006

    Zip, Winston and I spent most of yesterday making invitations for the party that I finally decided to organise. I was hoping to receive word from Lara but no prevail. I am becoming increasingly concerned for her welfare and I hope she is safe. My birthday would be ruined if she isn’t here by then.

    Enough of that negativity; after lunchtime, Zip and I went outside to play basketball since it was a reasonably warm day. We had a great time, we had a tickle fight. We had a laugh, yet I couldn’t get Lara off of my mind.

    22nd August 2006

    Godiva and I had a telephone conversation. We were only allowed to use Python quotes, as training for our meeting. Hearing the words/phrases in an American accent I once heard in an English one did nothing but make me grin from ear to ear. I wouldn’t be surprised if the baby came out a fan.

    For the rest of the day, I kept having terrible visions of Lara on a wrecked boat with no lifejacket. She’s just floating on this little piece of wood. It scares me. It scares me that she might never come back, I’d never see her again and the others don’t seem to care about it.

    25th August 2006

    Two days before I turn twenty eight years old. I should be happy. I should be looking forward to the party. But why aren’t I? I am unhappy and all I want is to have Lara back. My heart beats faster and faster at the thought of her dying; I loathe it. I’m afraid to tell Zip about how much it scares me because he would just ridicule. Winston won’t be of any help either. He would repeat what he said about when she went missing 1996. Anyway, who says I always need to tell people about my troubles?

    27th August 2006

    The gardens were all set up nicely. Tables were laid out with chairs. Sandwiches and other such foods and drinks were prepared. Zip dressed up in his tuxedo and Winston straightened his tailcoat. The party was ready to begin.

    Soon, Lord and Lady Sandleton arrived with their pretty daughter. Professor Eddington arrived after. Within half an hour, the mansion was filled with Lara’s snobby friends. I talked with Lady Alicia for a while. She was very affectionate towards me but was slightly concerned for her daughter, who had disappeared into Zip’s bedroom. We parted.

    I met a gentleman around the same age as me. His name was Frederick Norman. Unlike many of Lara’s friends, he wasn’t an archaeologist. He was a surgeon, and a very good one at that. He told me of his dreams of curing incurable illnesses and diseases. It made me feel sad when he was telling me about it. I thought about Mother and how much I miss her. Suddenly, should be pushing through the doors at that moment? Miss. Lara Croft!

    Lara had come home with sweat on her back, a nasty bruise on her forehead and an arm muscle injury. She was grubby and her skin was peeling from sunburn. This grabbed people’s attention. “ Oh, Lara! Are you all right?” “ Oh dear God, I hope she is well!” Lara fainted into Zip’s arms. It looked as if it happened in slow motion. It was all so dramatic, and not to mention traumatic. Lara was my birthday present. For her to be safe and well, was my request and it was granted, just in time.

    30th August 2006

    I am so relieved to have Lara back where she belongs. It has put my mind at ease. Now, I can read and concentrating fully. I’m happy once more. But there is a slight problem. I’m starting to get a bit clingy. I’m with Lara most of the time and Zip is feeling the strain. Yesterday, when he wanted to talk to me and apparently, I ignored him completely and followed Lara around the house like a little puppy; in his words. Maybe I should continue being that underdog bookworm whose only friend is his work colleague.

    It’s just so strange to have her back. She says “hello” and “good morning” and such. It sort of startles me for some reason. I forget she is there, and yet I can feel my heart beat faster whenever I see her. I want to be with her all the time.

    31st August 2006

    Godiva telephoned again this evening. She was screaming down the phone. I was frightened that she had gone into labour but luckily, nature has saved that for another day. She had rung to tell me about the best day of her life.

    Edwin took her out for a real treat. They went to a book signing. To Godiva’s surprise, it was Michael Palin. She was telling me all about when she was in the queue and everyone else was staring at her belly. Then her turn was up. According to her, Michael was a very nice gentleman. They chatted for a bit and he asked her questions about the baby; about the due date and things. And when she was leaving, she blurted out at random, “ MY EX LOVES YOU!” before being dragged off by her husband. Apparently, Michael was laughing; quite awkwardly, I would imagine.

    Before you ask, I am insanely jealous. I wish I could meet one of the Pythons. My favourite is Graham Chapman and would love to meet him, but given the circumstances; well it’s impossible, sadly.

    8th September 2006

    After some rest, time has healed Lara’s injuries, and she is off to yet another adventure. I am truly happy for her. She was beginning to feel caged up in the manor. She is in Ethiopia, helping a group of archaeologists with an important dig. A few months ago, a vase was found and it was from an unknown era, therefore these archaeologists are trying to find some clue to what the era might be. Again, I’m jealous. I’m always stuck at home with researching duties. It does gradually become boring after a few years. Don’t tell Lara I said that.

    12th September 2006

    Zip was awake at the crack of dawn this morning. Selfishly, he turned up his music to full volume. It was blaring throughout the mansion. Winston roared in anger and punched Zip in the mouth. It was very surprising. I had never seen Winston do such a thing before. And what made it even more surprising, that when Zip had realised he was bleeding, he burst into tears like a little girl! It took hours to calm down. Winston was apologetic. Me? I was laughing all day long. I’m still laughing now, in fact. But Zip denied knowledge of crying. He’s an imbecile.

    16th September 2006

    Edwin telephoned Zip this morning, and he didn’t want to talk to me. He seemed very concerned, confused and scared. When he finally put the phone, thirty minutes later, he told the whole story. Godiva was going to have the baby today. Sadly, three hours we received another phone call. She was not going to give birth, because she had experienced Braxton-Hicks contractions. According to Edwin, she was tremendously upset. I understand fully, even though I’ve never had any children of my own.
    She was looking forward to finally meeting her infant and the opportunity was cruelly taken away. I feel so sorry for all three of them.

    17th September 2006

    Zip and I are relaxing after yesterday’s excitement. Winston made us a mug of a lovely herbal tea. It was gorgeous. It made me feel wonderfully sleepy and Zip overcame all giggly and stoned. He began telling me about when his sister, Meryl, was leaving home and their brother Ralph was desperate to stop her. He jumped at her and accidentally pulled down her skirt! I laughed so much that the tea came out of my nose. I kept smelling an awful stench for hours.

    With Godiva’s baby on red alert, I have a feeling it will finally arrived soon. May it be next week or tomorrow; it will come. I feel it in my bones. And it is not the tea speaking. It’s full Alister in here!

    20th September 2006

    Lara has come home from her archaeological dig. “ A time-waster,” she said. Now, she is searching for assignments more worth her time. I am glad she with me again. I’ve missed her. Nothing else to report.

    23rd September 2006

    Lara is going to work as an assassin. It’s rather suspicious to why she has decided to take up the offer. Assassination is one of Lara’s subjects that she will never ever do, so why she is doing it? It’s not like she needs the money (not that she earns money for her assignments.) When she told us, Winston went speechless and Zip was thrilled. He was quite into the idea. Hasn’t he worked for Lara long enough to know that about her? He is really an idiot.

    No news from Scotland. They say no news is good news, but not in this case. Since Godiva’s experienced Braxton-Hicks contractions, shouldn’t that mean the baby’ll be arriving soon?

    1st October 2006

    This is not good. All of it is not good. Lara is not working as an assassin but is undercover as one. She has gone undercover in a prison in America because the detectives are suspicious about one of the prisoners; the founder of a top-secret assassin organisation under the pseudonym of Rexx Rover. Lara calls herself Harley Thunder and when she is not working for someone, she is a lady of the night. I am afraid that Rexx will find out the truth about ‘Harley’ and kill her.

    The other thing that is not good is Godiva’s child. Yesterday, she felt another contraction and was convinced the baby would be born. But of course, it was fake. The due date is approaching and Edwin has taken time off work to be with his wife when it happens. Their hope is slowly dying but they are patient. It’s taking a lot out of the both of them, and not to mention the baby. I just feel sorry for them. I’m worried about them.

    2nd October 2006

    Zip went out with a girl named Bailie, and apparently she has a sister named Caitlyn. There is no hope in hell that I’ll go out with a courtesan! Anyway, I don’t like redheads that much. I have nothing against redheads but it’s just weird.

    The ‘happy couple’ came in drunk as anything. They were loud and noisy. They roared with laughter at nothing. God knows what they’re doing now (I won’t find out, even it kills me.) There is no important news from Lara, except that she has been accepted into Rexx’s gang and insisted she moved into the same cell. I dearly hope she is will be all right.

    4th October 2006

    Seeing it is Graham Chapman’s seventeenth death anniversary, I telephoned Godiva and we shared our favourite Graham moments. We had a great time and from the sound of it, the baby did as well. I told Godiva about where and when I learnt of his death. It made my wonderful friend cry and inside, my heart was crying too.
    Lara is still with Rexx. I am awfully frightened for her. I know she will be killed.

    7th October 2006

    Rexx Rover told Harley Thunder about his plan to have someone ‘on the outside’ murder the president of the United States. Harley offered to take up the job and despite the fact that she is in jail, Rexx agreed. When she was free, Lara (or Harley) telephoned Zip to email the detective about her discoveries. Every time I hear the name ‘Rexx’ or ‘Harley,’ my heart pounds like a drum.

    I know I’m being silly but I’m not the only one who is worried. Winston is as well. Whenever we’re talking to her, he is always trying to persuade her to come home. These are always failures, which makes Winston upset. At least, he has the courage to stand up to Lara. There would be no way I’d tell Lara off like that.

    9th October 2006

    I have a very sore bruise, protruding out of my left sleeve. Zip punched me, totally by accident, of course. He was outside in the garden, playing a bit of basketball, when I snuck out to poke him in the back (as a juvenile joke.) He was so surprised that he swung around, hitting me in the face with the ball. With me on the ground, he couldn’t see who it was, so he gave me a good hard punch. When he saw it was me, he grew ever so apologetic. He gave me a warm hug and a kiss on the cheek and a chuckle. What happened in 2004 still hangs in our minds.

    Winston has gotten a bad cold. He is shivering in bed and won’t eat anything. Zip made him a nice toasty soup but he wouldn’t drink it so I had to have it. Strangely, I felt guilty about taking someone else’s meal, even though they didn’t wish to eat it.

    10th October 2006

    Under the instruction of the detective, Lara murdered Rexx. Apparently, it was a messy job and she hated it. I don’t want to know, thank you!

    And now that is out of the way, all I need to worry about is Godiva. She is due to go into labour at any moment. I received an email from her, saying ‘I’m a ticking time-bomb!’ and I’m afraid she is right. She could go off at any second! Edwin went to work today but was on his mobile the whole shift. They’re so young and naïve! I may sound patronising but I think it is sweet that they’re acting like little children.

    13th October 2006

    At 4:33am this morning, Edwin telephoned Zip again. He explained to me and Winston (Lara was uninterested) that Godiva had felt her first real contraction. She wanted to speak with me on the phone. “ Alister,” she mumbled, “ Alister, if I have a boy; I’m naming him after you!” Strange, naming your possible son after your ex-boyfriend. Cute, nonetheless.

    Zip and I had more sleep and woke up again at ten o’clock. Zip clambered me into the back of the van and drove to the train station, at a high speed. We were silent most of the journey. Our thoughts were with our friends/family. Zip was excited about being an uncle and I was excited about my ex finding love after our relationship.
    By the time we got to the hospital, the baby was just about to be born. Zip was exhausted so he had a quick nap in the waiting room. He had his head on my lap. It was slightly awkward but I stroked his forehead as gently as I could, to soothe him. A few hours later, Edwin burst through the doors screaming with joy. “ WE GOT A LITTLE GIRL!” Zip cheered and high-fived the new father. I laughed to cover up my tears.

    We went to see her, when Godiva had gotten a bit of sleep. The baby is the spitting image of her mother. Her hair is black and woolly, she has small nostrils and thick lips. When it was my turn to hold her, I felt so content that I wanted to cry. The crazy outgoing adolescent had grown up and was now a mother. I was so proud of her. And the baby? I was pleased as punch to meet her. She is a delight and no trouble at all.

    14th October 2006

    The first night with the baby was difficult for the new parents. She woke up numerous times during the night (as a healthy infant should) but it took a terrible toll on Edwin. Zip offered his duties as an uncle but Edwin was insistent that he needn’t intervene.

    Zip telephoned Winston to tell him the news. He is thrilled to hear it and requested a large amount of photographs. This afternoon, the happy couple had an amusing argument over a name. “ No, we are not calling her Edwina!” Godiva cried. “ Edwin’s a bad enough name as it is!” “ Says you, Nude-y Judy!” Edwin answered. I laughed.

    19th October 2006

    It was saddening to leave baby Orlyn (they finally decided on a name.) Obviously, she is in good hands, but I couldn’t stop thinking that I contributed to the procreation of her. Without my instincts, those two would never have met. So, it was back to the books and horrifyingly extreme adventures.

    My time spent with Orlyn has been brilliant and I can’t wait to see her again.

    23rd October 2006

    At home, we were greeted by Lara jumping off the roof. Don’t worry; she didn’t go mad. She was testing an upgraded version of her grapple. She swung towards the approaching van and around the walls of Croft Manor. From the vehicle, I could see her face scrunch up in concentration as she pushed her boots against the bricks. It was a bloody marvellous sight to see her get up to mischief.

    Winston greeted us with mugs of good old Earl Grey. Zip showed him the baby photos on his mobile. The dear old man chuckled, aww’d and asked several questions. Memories of Irene’s birth came back to him and spilled the beans all about the very few months of her life, which saddened him.

    Zip received a message on his computer from his girlfriend. For the first time, I saw him get dumped by the girl, instead of vice versa. It was rather funny to watch.

    24th October 2006

    An anonymous telephone call has interested Lara. It was regarding the whereabouts of Lady Amelia. Obviously, the tomb raider knew she was in Avalon but the caller explained that it wasn’t Avalon; it is somewhere else. Before the caller could spill everything, there was a loud bang at the other end of the phone and a high-pitched scream. Terrified, Lara hung up the phone and began researching different underworlds. Sadly, she couldn’t find anything except from old papers written by her father about Avalon.

    26th October 2006

    Lara has found work in India. An ancient spirit of a tribal king has been awoken. A burglar stole a cursed necklace which belonged to him from a museum. The curse brought the king back to life (or his soul, at least.) Now, Lara has to find the burglar so she can return it the king’s temple and somehow killed the ghost. How cheerful!

    13th November 2006

    I apologise for the absence. I haven’t been too well recently. I have had the flu and I am still slowly recovering. With Mother’s upcoming death anniversary, I’ve done an enormous amount of thinking. Zip has been a good friend during this difficult time. He’s brought me soup, and warm drinks and brought me Grammy Rosa’s famous Coke and Leek remedy. Urgh. He’s also been making me laugh; telling jokes, doing funny impressions of celebrities/political faces and making weird noises.

    There was one awkward moment though. Zip was dancing around my bedroom and slipped. His trousers caught on fire from the fireplace. Panicking, I tried to find water but I sneezed instead. I sneezed quite loudly and hard. But that might have saved his buttocks from getting burned. We laughed about it later on.

    15th November 2006

    Two years ago, Mother died after a battle with cancer. Not being able to support her is the biggest regret of my life. The fact that Father was lying to me the whole time, boils an irreparable anger inside of me. Zip is saying that I am acting silly about something I didn’t even know of at the time.

    I don’t bloody care! I hate that Father lies. I hate that he hurt Mother in the past. I hate that he acts like he’s the boss. I hate that he controlled my childhood. I hate that he even exists! I loathe him!

    16th November 2006

    Forgive my behaviour yesterday. It was inappropriate. I don’t know what came over me. When I finished that entry, I stormed off to Zip’s bedroom to talk about it (in tears, of course.) He welcomed me into his arms and apologised for the comment he made. We discussed my problem. The answer? Grief. Simple as. Zip revealed that he felt like this when Grammy Rosa passed away. I can finally relax to know that someone else out there is feeling the same way I do. Lara must be regretful towards her parents too. It was a punch in the face, I can tell you. When I went to bed last night, I hardly got any sleep because I was mourning till six o’clock before I drifted off to sleep.

    Godiva telephoned today. The baby is officially named Orlyn and is growing at an alarming rate.

    18th November 2006

    Lara hosted a party tonight, for her father’s birthday. He may have died twenty years ago, but he is still held close in the hearts of his friends and family. I met Lara’s younger cousins, Katharine and Stewart Croft. Katharine is the same as I am and Stewart is seven years younger. They were an odd pair; not at all like Lara. They were very snobby and somewhat obnoxious, like Father or Lord Sandleton. All they talked about was themselves.

    Zip mingled with the women and made them all swoon. He was after Ethel DeMornay, Amelia’s distant cousin. She is several years older but didn’t stop him. He was so eager to bed her that he started telling fibs about himself, like he personally saved the queen’s life and that he’s slaughtered an army of zombies (he is the world greatest video gamer you know!) Poor Ethel succumbed.

    When it was over, I was relieved. I don’t like social gatherings that much. I helped with the cleaning up; Winston was pleased. He gave me a small token of gratitude; a rare coin.

    20th November 2006

    Since Lara had her party yesterday, Zip and I had our own. It was held in Zip’s bedroom, or as he called it, The Love Shack. I admittedly ‘knocked back a few,’ even though I’m mostly teetotal. We had a fun time. I dislike the drunken feeling but jumping up and down on the sofas was exciting. Zip walked into a wall and started crying because he bumped his nose. But he was so drunk that he didn’t really seem to care.

    The thumping music was played all through the night, despite the fact that the party had been dismissed by a sleepy and irritated Winston. I fell into a deep slumber which I enjoyed thoroughly, but erratic dreams of Lara kept disturbing me.

    21st November 2006

    As I should have mentioned before, Zip and I are going to Florida in a couple of days. For celebration, we are going to Le Monde de L’amour tonight. It’s been a long time since we’ve gone. Sadly, Godiva and Edwin aren’t coming but they have Orlyn now and you just can’t take a newborn infant to the other side of the world.

    We are all packed up and ready to go. I am particularly eager. Lara is hosting another Christmas party and is inviting the Sandletons. I don’t wish to run into Alicia. I promised her I would keep in contact but I completely forgot about it and now I can’t find the address anywhere.

    22nd November 2006

    Dinner last night was odd. It was very strange indeed. Zip was happily chomping on his steak when he noticed my hair. I have been growing it out slightly and I guess it is starting to become visible. He put his elbow on the table and rested his head in the hand. He smiled at me. I smiled back. “ So, you’re growing your hair now? What’s next? You gonna grow out your p-” “ No!” I cried. Zip looked disheartened. He went back to his dinner then continued, “ I like it.” I blushed slightly. “ Thank you,” I whispered, sheepishly. “ Thank you very much.” I squeezed his shoulder tightly and we both grinned at each other. It was a beautiful moment.

    Later this evening, I’m starting to regret it slightly. Zip is a straight man and I can’t act like that with him.

    24th November 2006

    It’s so good to be back in America! I missed the sticky air last year, the intensity of the climate and the laidback nature of the Americans. Zip’s family has changed tremendously since I last saw them.

    Finlay has lost weight. It was because of his heart attack. His doctor advised him to take drastic action if he wanted to live, especially now that he has another grandchild. Louise’s workaholic idiosyncrasy has been toned down and she is considering retiring so she can take care of her husband.
    There is a strange silence in the house now. Grammy Rosa had brought laughter, jokes and happiness into the house and now that she had died, so did the noise. It’s quite sad, actually.

    Meeting Zip’s brothers and sisters again was brilliant. Ralph has missed me, apparently. We began conversing and he is ecstatic about Orlyn. It reminds me of when Priya had her girls. A new member in a family is always exciting news and rejuvenating. It makes older members feel young and makes younger members reminisce about their own childhood.

    Rex is still a bundle of trouble. He actually accused me of being Orlyn’s biological father. He threatened if it was true, he’d kill me before Zip interrupted and reprimanded his brother. No change there. When is Rex going to learn that violence is not the answer? I understand he feels guilty about Ricky’s murder but that happened years ago, he needs to put it behind him. It’s the only he will move forward.

    27th November 2006

    Louise did the cooking, on the barbecue; since it is a lovely, warm, clear night tonight. It was as good as Finlay’s but it was edible. It was a selection of beef burgers, hotdogs and pizzas. It was amazing that one woman could take up the challenge. I’m not too keen on meat (I am unable to stomach it) but I ate very little of all three choices; under the influence of Zip, of course. The Americans, on the other hand, wolfed down like, well, wolves! Ronan had at least four whole burgers, two hotdogs and a whole pizza. Ralph ate seven hotdogs, five burgers and half a pizza. Randall ate ten burgers, eight hotdogs and three slices of pizza. Rodney shared a burger with his wife and ate three hotdogs but no pizza. Surly Rex didn’t eat much and I don’t wish to recount his dinner. Beverley ate two burgers, nine hotdogs and one slice of pizza (she’s watching her waistline, apparently) Meryl? I lost count! However, Zip probably had the most out of his seven siblings.

    Finlay couldn’t join in with the barbecue, sadly. Louise had lovingly fixed up a lovely Caesar salad (with low fat dressing) for him. He was transparently disappointed but was awarded with a sausage for eating all of the salad. He was telling me that there was an upside to his sudden healthy lifestyle. He is fitter than he was when he was a baseball player. He is hoping to teach Orlyn how to play when she gets older.

    28th November 2006

    It was a hot day today so all of Zip’s family (that’s right, even Louise) played basketball all day. It made me become very close to Rodney’s daughter, Janice, who is eighteen years old. She’s a young, springy thing and like her all her uncles and aunts, she carries the love of sport. According to her mother, she was the best female ‘soccer’ player at her school. She even got a scholarship to her university in Iowa. I think she might have developed a schoolgirl crush on me. This attraction to me must be a family trait.

    29th November 2006

    Finlay and the rest of the boys dared me to a quiz on the subject of baseball. I gracefully lost by 1%. Let’s rephrase that: I lost by 0%. There was nothing on that test I knew about. If it was on the topic of Egyptian history, I would have gotten every single question correct. Zip’s family is cruel but they are a tremendous amount of fun. Sometimes I wish I was apart of a family.

    Zip set up a webcam in the computer so Finlay and Louise can see their granddaughter for the first time. The reunion was truly moving. Godiva and Louise nattered on about sleeping routines and feeding times. It started to become crowded as uncles, aunts, in-laws and cousins pushed their way through to catch a glimpse of the precious infant. Rex stared at me for a moment and to screen and back to me. It seems he still has the idea that I am the child’s father.

    30th November 2006

    Finlay proposed taking us all to a restaurant nearby for an early treat for Zip’s thirty sixth. It was a place where motorcycle drivers stop to eat greasy and fatally unhealthy foods and drink themselves silly. The speciality was steak. Everyone, including Finlay, ordered two. I was disgusted, and everyone else thought it was the oddest thing that I wished not to order a steak. Instead, I ordered a salad. It was unhealthy and I suspected someone had spat in it but at least it was not meat. Despite this, we had a good time and the adults drank a bit too much alcohol. It was a nice social gathering. But if you know me by now, you’d know I would rather have my nose stuck in 1984, which I had brought to read.

    1st December 2006

    Last night, Zip came into my bedroom to have a one-to-one conversation. It wasn’t about my not fitting in, or my distasteful behaviour towards Rex, it wasn’t on any particular topic at all. We talked about everything; work, Lara, Croft Manor, Godiva and Orlyn, our childhoods. I revealed secrets to him about my hopes for the future and what I think about Lara. Zip was there for it all. He listened intensely. He gave me his thoughts and opinions, whether he agreed on my views or not. He was being a real friend. I can’t tell how grateful I was. I miss our midnight drinks and this was something like that.

    We must have talked for hours, because his warm embrace was wrapped around me when I woke up. It was a wonderful feeling to know he had been there all night. I regret to say that, he didn’t have a great feeling. Because of his heavy night last night, he vomited quite violently in my bed. Meryl came in to wash the sheets and I could tell in her facial expressions and body language that she thought I was the one who was sick.

    While the others celebrated by having a loud and raucous party, Zip relaxed in my bedroom with me. I read him extracts from 1984, but I had to explain what George Orwell meant. He seemed intrigued and wanted to learn more about the works of Orwell. It was an interesting session of exchange of literary knowledge with sports trivia.

    2nd December 2006

    It was a lazy day of festivities today. Louise told the story of her labour and Zip’s birth (which made me feel queasy.) Then everyone watched old VHS tapes of recorded American football, baseball and basketball games. It was dull as watching grass grow. By the evening, nearly everyone was dozing in front of the blaring television.
    But we didn’t forget the most important event of the birthday. We showered Zip with all sorts of different gifts; some small, some big. But mine was the most valuable. It was a photograph of us in the gardens of Croft Manor in a beautiful silver frame. Zip immediately tossed it aside but he told me in confidence that he’ll put it on his desk in the Tech Room at home. He was grateful for it, very much so!

    4th December 2006

    Zip and his brothers are taking me up the mountains for a hike tomorrow. The endurance will be terrible, I have no idea what could happen out there and I am scared the death of insects biting. I will need support and I dearly hope Zip is aware of that.

    We did nothing today. All I did was sit in the huge back garden early this morning and listen contently to the cicadas. Randall fell and hit his knee on the stairs and bawled like a little girl. It was fairly amusing when his mother came running to the rescue. That was the only excitement that occurred today.

    12th December 2006

    The camping trip went swimmingly, most of the time. There were moments where I was left behind, but Zip was with the entire time. By night, we cooked food over an open fire and we discussed ‘manly’ topics, which are too crude to mention in my diary. I grew to know Zip’s brothers like any other sibling. I know Randall has a phobia of scorpions and Ronan is a kick boxer. I know Rex is a survivor of something traumatising and can’t break the terrifying nightmares he experiences every night. When he told me this, there was an element of his story I could relate to. We are slowly beginning to tolerate each other.

    The nights were simply awful. I shared a tent with Randall, Rodney and Ralph. Ralph took a liking to me a bit too much. He whispered things to me all night, such as, “ How’d you like the trip?” and “ It’s gonna be so much fun tomorrow!” When he did fall asleep, he would always roll on top of me. When we came home this morning, I made a gorgeous re-acquaintance with my bed. I slept all day.

    15th December 2006

    Last night, a thought of home rushed to me. It occurred to me; I miss being at home, in the study, in my own bedroom, in the ancient hallways, in the Tech Room, in the Gun Room. But most importantly, I miss Winston and his welcoming friendly flamboyance and I miss Lara. I miss the way her eyes sparkle when she accepts an assignment, the way she flicks her long dark hair in the moonlight, the way she swings from rope to rope in the gym. But it is her determination I miss the most. Just thinking about her brought up so many strange and frightening emotions. Every time I think about her and home, I want to cry and I excuse myself to the bathroom to do so.

    16th December 2006

    Since yesterday, I have the incapacity to stop myself from thinking about Lara and crying about the said employer. Foolishly, I was caught by Rex. Because of the hike, he has become less threatening and more humane.

    We had a connection in that moment. He began talking about how much he misses Ricky and how much he blames himself for his death. I identified with that. At home, there is that concern that stays everyday. Lara could die in an instant and I wouldn’t be able to save her. He also said that no matter how much he regrets or wishes he could turn back time, there is nothing he can do about Ricky’s death. There are some things in the world that people care about and people regret but they are meant to be there. Perhaps I need this feeling to protect her.

    17th December 2006

    The discussion with Rex has enlightened me. I’m grateful for it. I still think about home but I no longer have the urge to cry. His words echo around my mind and I keep them in my heart.

    Zip and his family are getting excited about Christmas, now that the birthday celebrations have passed. They were putting up the tree this afternoon. I helped with the tinsel and Louise found an old ornament that Zip had made when he was four years old. It was of a clay Father Christmas with a misshapen painted face. It made everyone burst out laughing, including myself. Through the laughter I yelled out, “ Expect this from Orlyn from now on!” Finlay said he was looking forward to a child’s arts and crafts again. This led him to telling stories about all ten of his children’s youths. There was laughter, sadness, confusion and enquiries.

    23rd December 2006

    There will be another party tomorrow night hosted by Zip’s parents, only this time with the best Christmas No.1s of all time (at least that’s what Finlay believes.) I have wrapped Zip’s gift, which is a collection of newspaper articles dedicated to the technology of computers from the 1980’s to today. It took months to research.
    With the party plans, I have grown weary of dancing, singing and merry making. I want to go home to the tranquillity of sheep in the fields and the relaxing sound of the crackling fire as I turn pages of a much-loved, award-winning, world-famous book.

    I have a plan tomorrow. I will excuse myself to my bedroom because of a stomach-ache and Zip follows suit. In my bedroom, we talk like we do at home. Personally, I think it is the perfect plan!

    27th December 2006

    The thought of going home is becoming a reality. This time tomorrow I will be on the aeroplane. I cannot contain my excitement! I can’t wait to get home and see Winston and Lara. I wonder if they have had a miserable time without us? I’m just so thrilled to be going back home.

    28th December 2006

    Zip and I were greeted by ice and rain. It was beautiful to experience after so long. As we dashed to the car park in the busy crowd, the first thing we saw was Winston and the black shimmering Rolls Royce. He was grinning from ear to ear as he spotted us. He beckoned us for a brisk run, as it was beginning to snow. We slipped inside the car; Zip was impressed. He whistled and began nattering on about what a fancy car it is. However, Winston and I had a conversation that served our level of intelligence. We talked about Lara, mainly. Winston told me she was awfully quiet and distant. Was there a chance that she missed Zip’s loudness, or my knowledge of artefacts and histories?

    Approaching Croft Manor made me feel an incredible feeling. It was as though we coming home after several years. The appearance seemed strangely different from before. Everything was in a different place. The car pulled up to the doors. Winston opened it for us and we stepped in. Suddenly, I was overcome with emotion. I couldn’t stop smiling as I looked up the chandeliers and gazed at the portraits and decorations. My heart started beating fast. I smelt the air and it felt so cosy and charming. “ Hello, boys. Back so soon?” a voice called from the stairway. It was Lara. There was a sudden rush of adrenaline which jolted my body, “ LARA!” I yelled and I galloped up the stairs to greet her. I proceeded to give her a hug but I knew, as a gentleman, there must be some limits between employee and employer. I held out my hand and she shook with a strong vigour. I turned to face Zip who was still by the doors. He was dumbfounded. “ Damn, Alister! What got your motor running?”

    I am so bloody grateful to be home. I’ve missed England and Lara and Winston so much. But of course, I will always keep Rex in my mind.

    31st December 2006

    Today is the last day of 2006. Overall, it was a pleasing year. A dear friend of mine welcomed her daughter into the world, I have learnt to live with Zip’s unsavoury brother, my feelings for work and Lara have shifted into something great. Plus, I’m thinking of shaving off this blasted beard. It is awfully high maintenance and it doesn’t suit me; it is suitable for Zip but not me. I wonder what 2007 will bring me?[/ffstory]