A Window on the Soul

      Peter D Wilson
A Window on the Soul

A picture with a calming effect might serve instead of tranquillisers, but the investigation hits a problem and the techniques find another use.A manipulated photographic image with a psychological calming effect is investigated secretly for possible therapeutic applications, but an incidental problem causes abandonment of the project. A leak however arouses the unwelcome interest of the suspicious local Press which is then tricked into discrediting itself by blowing up a bubble of alarmist sensation that is promptly burst, but the frank editorial admission of being hoaxed leads to a promise of the true story in due course. The failure of the technical investigation threatens the future of the laboratory which then finds through the reporter a commercial application for the techniques developed.
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    Towards Sunset (third edition)

      Peter D Wilson
Towards Sunset (third edition)

A collection of 30 stories, varying in length, on a wide variety of subjects, mostly with a gently humorous tone.A collection of 30 short stories, including a dozen entries in the "Telegraph" competition of 2012 on varied themes and others previously published in "Pebbles on a Northern Shore"; one group on an eccentric rural community; another on a professional assassin with a conscience; dreams and fancies; a penalty of misplaced confidence; the odd bit of science fiction (definitely not of the "space western" type); a portrait linking mediaeval and modern romances; the friendship between an 18th-century aristocrat and his executioner; and the long-delayed fulfilment of a youthful crush.
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    Pebbles from a Northern Shore

      Peter D Wilson
Pebbles from a Northern Shore

A baker's dozen of stories, some very short, some quite long, of times past, present or possible future, ranging from an imagined childhood, through adolescence and maturity, to old age, death and beyond. Mostly optimistic and light-hearted though with an occasional touch of the weird or macabre.The loss of a child's pet leads to grief but eventual acceptance; two stories offered to a magazine raise questions of which is fact and which is fiction; the tale of a wise and beneficent Empress with a surprising origin is recalled through her gift of a child's bauble; showing off to impress a girl has grim results; the romance between a mediaeval serving-maid and the page of her lord's best friend interacts through a roughly-executed fifteenth-century portrait with present-day occupants of the same castle; machinations in the rivalry between two church choirs, and their involvement with a murdered Russian oligarch, climax in the resolution of a long-standing quarrel; an ancient musical instrument passes through a succession of modern families until it reaches the player for whom it is destined; misunderstandings by an over-confident novice missionary, stranded in the wilds by the illness of his mentor, lead to horrifying blunders; an elderly man, reminded by a simple melody of his youthful infatuation with a friend's sister, revisits the site of a 1920s house-party associated with her and at last achieves peace; the psychological significance of a particular recurrent dream is recognised after many years; a curious ring given by a French aristocrat to his executioner during the Terror proves surprisingly helpful; and a deceased author, entertained by the characters in one of his uncompleted stories who have finished it themselves, is finally reconciled with a long-lost love.
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    Exit, pursued by a bear

      Peter D Wilson
Exit, pursued by a bear

In 1980s Prague, Tony is mistaken for an emissary to dissidents by security chief Placek who sends Anna to infiltrate his household. She refuses later orders and Placek reluctantly denounces her. Later, disgusted by new instructions, he himself wishes to defect but needs Tony's help for his assistant Elena to escape. Tony objects but Anna persuades him to agree and that all should be friends.Tony Anderson, an academic attending a conference in Prague during the Cold War era, is mistaken by security chief Alexander Placek for an expected western emissary to illicit dissident groups. In order to undermine such activities he sends Anna Jirak to worm her way into Tony's household as a spy. This she does by posing as a political refugee needing a form of marriage to the now-widowed Tony in order to escape deportation.In time the marriage becomes genuine, so when Placek turns up demanding that Anna should wreck Tony's standing by accusing him of multiple adultery with supposed refugee women, she refuses. Placek's unwelcome duty then requires him, in the course of offering Tony a session chairmanship in a forthcoming conference in Kiev, to denounce Anna as a traitor to her own family and friends. Unwilling though Tony is to believe the story, it has enough verisimilitude to create a doubt that she cannot dispel, and in despair she takes an overdose of medicine.Determined to avenge her fate, but knowing that he must work with Placek at the Kiev conference, Tony consults his cousin Eric in the UK security service. Eric advises an indirect approach by joining an actual dissident support group. This proves to be badly run and Tony is persuaded to take charge of it. In Kiev, Placek confides in his devoted assistant Elena about his distress at the news of Anna, whom he had regarded almost as a surrogate daughter. He instructs Elena to accompany Tony on the city tour when he expects contraband to be somehow handed over, but the plan is thwarted by local police who turn out to have been Tony's contacts. Back home, some time later, Tony is visited by Eric together with Placek who, disgusted by new instructions from his masters, wishes to defect but needs the help of Tony's group for Elena to escape. Tony is reluctant but urged by Eric, for his own reasons, to comply. Anna, who is now revealed to have survived the suicide attempt at the cost of a partial breakdown, praises Placek's character and adds her own plea that convinces Tony to agree, and insists that the two couples should thenceforward be friends.
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    Stage 12

      Peter D Wilson
Stage 12

A collection of short sketches and one-act plays. The subjects vary - a son leaving home, a sense of menace in a rural scene, the mystery of a cruise passenger's identity, consequences of accidents, matrimonial complications, unscrupulous journalistic malpractice, a fatal jealousy - but the tone is mostly light-hearted and conflict usually ends in reconciliation.CONTENTSBRIEF SKETCHES (written for specific occasions).Independence Day (mini-drama; 2m, 1f; 10 minutes)A teenage son is at the stage of leaving home, but his parents too find advantages in independence.Perils of Travel (conversation piece; 2f; 10 minutes). Two young professional women, awaiting a flight to a meeting, discuss a missing passenger, security issues, and why not to travel in a business suit.Crash (mini-drama; 2f; 8 minutes). A teenage girl, who may or may not be dreaming, is visited by a friend who may or may not have stolen the first's boy-friend, and has been involved in a horrendous road accident.Inn Memory (mini-drama; 2f; 8 minutes). Why is the visitor alarmed by a completely peaceful rural scene?ONE-ACT (mostly of competition length)Good Intentions (comedy; 3m, 3f; 50 minutes). George means well but lacks won't-power, and events conspire against his good intentions. Fortunately he is shunted off the road so paved before reaching its proverbial destination. Danube Moon (comedy; 2m, 2f; 30 minutes)A disagreeable divorcee unexpectedly encounters her ex-husband on a river cruise, and quite against her intentions helps him out of a desperate situation.Whitefly (drama; 2m, 3f, 1 either; 40 minutes) An unscrupulous journalist causes disaster to a small community in her determination not to let the truth get in the way of a good story about a local project.Nemesis (dark-grey comedy; 1m, 2f; 30 minutes)"Hell is other people" said Sartre, but Alan, his wife and mistress find otherwise; and who has murdered whom, or doesn't it matter?Coincidence (comedy; 3m, 3f; 30 minutes)A series of outrageous coincidences reunites several old acquaintances.Green Eyes (drama; 3m, 2f; 45 minutes)Sally and Kevin are keen environmentalists. Kevin becomes unreasonably jealous of Sally's contacts with a specialist she has interviewed for the local newspaper and accidentally causes his death, with subsequent agonies of remorse. This drives them apart until his subsequent conduct enables him to forgive himself.Fish out of Water (comedy mystery; 8m, 17f, 1 m or f; 60 minutes. Written for a large group of mixed ability.)Among a mixed bunch of passengers on a river cruise, one is the object of particular interest for several others on covert business, but insists that he is not who they think; or is he? Waiting (drama; 10m, 10f; 45 minutes. Again written for a specific group.)A busload of passengers is left stranded and wondering why; the reason proves more drastic than they could have imagined, but to resolve some old problems.
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    Garstein's Legacy

      Peter D Wilson
Garstein's Legacy

Inheriting a property in the Targhee forest involves an English mechanic in recovering information crucial to the rescue of a long-kidnapped American engineer, supporting his young widow after a fatal accident in Vienna, and unmasking a highly-placed traitor in the US administration.Jacob Garstein has built a house in the Targhee forest. A visiting childhood friend finds him distraught at having broken a promise to bury his deceased wife’s ashes beside those of two relatives in a favourite glade across the mountains in Wyoming, a promise that the friend helps him to fulfil, whereupon Garstein suddenly dies on the spot. The friend, a successful financier, had promised to take care of the house but himself dies a few years later estranged from all that remain of his relatives, and leaves the house with most of his wealth to an English couple who many years earlier had comforted his dying wife after an accident. Their heir Mike Crampton, a newly-unemployed mechanic, is sufficiently intrigued to visit the house, finding there an informal request to check the conditions of the glade, and seeking directions is helped by Josie to whom he is strongly attracted. Back home he uses his newly-acquired wealth to rescue from bankruptcy the bus company for which he had worked, on condition of taking operational control, and so can provide a replacement when the next year he finds Josie and a touring party she leads stranded by an accident to their coach.It transpires that Garstein might have buried with the ashes some clue to the whereabouts of a long-kidnapped nuclear engineer Donald Harris, and being unable to describe adequately the location he has to guide a recovery party that unearths a can of film. This does lead to a rescue, and Harris turns out to be Josie’s husband.Returning to work at the Idaho National Laboratory Harris finds the situation unsatisfactory, turns to drink and becomes so violent that Josie reluctantly leaves him. He then pulls himself together enough to participate in a seminar at the IAEA headquarters in Vienna, but afterwards is accidentally jostled on a Metro station platform and falls under a train. Josie has to identify the body; her aunt would normally accompany her but cannot, ands asks Mike to deputise. Three years later, with Mike’s guidance, she buries Harris’s ashes near those of the Garsteins, and is then ready to move on.
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    On Wings of Song

      Peter D Wilson
On Wings of Song

Two choirs, run by former friends now bitter rivals, are compelled to co-operate, leading to involvement with the murder of a Russian businessman and discovery of a mistake as the original cause of the leaders' quarrel.The church choirs of St. Cyril's and St. Cyprian's are run by former friends, now bitter rivals since their school days. Forced by a threatened clash of performance dates to co-ordinate arrangements, they are induced to co-operate more closely by an offer of sponsorship from a local business. Their first joint engagement at the home of an émigré Russian oligarch gains not entirely unwelcome publicity from the murder of their host during the evening. A later joint performance, with an orchestra supported by their own sponsor's American counterpart, leads to a discovery ending the quarrel between the two choir leaders.
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    The Jester's Daughter

      Peter D Wilson
The Jester's Daughter

A romance between a castle servant girl in the 1430s and the page of a visiting bishop falls foul of social conventions, while one in the family of present-day occupants is imperilled by misunderstandings. Both are linked by a portrait of the girl that has somehow survived the intervening centuries and seems connected with the resolution of both difficulties.John Randall brings his friend Anne to visit his parents’ home, the small castle of Ernscar in northern England. Anne is fascinated by a mediaeval portrait in her room, believed to represent Alison Miller, daughter of the castle Fool in the fifteenth century, and on subsequent visits sees in it signs of anxiety reflecting Anne’s own concerns about the direction of her relationship with John.In the 1430s Alison forms an attachment to Nicholas, page to the then Lord Robert Ernscar’s friend Bishop Justin, who visits occasionally for conferences about their response to political problems under Henry VI. Justin and Robert are kindly disposed towards the couple, but like Alison’s own family recognise that the difference in social status seems to preclude their union. However, a scheme to resolve a particular problem of Justin’s requires that Nicholas be quickly married, and the difficulties are overcome by formal adoption of the youngsters into their respective patrons’ families.During a sleepless night Anne, worrying about the lack of the progress with John that she had been reluctant to urge on him for fear of rejection, resolves to force the issue one way or the other the next day. He then admits having been in exactly the same quandary which is thus resolved. After purchasing an engagement ring they visit an early church of architectural interest where they find records suggesting a happy outcome for the marriage of Alison and Nicholas.
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    The Liar

      Peter D Wilson
The Liar

A whimsical exercise in paradox and duality with a touch of mystery and a hint of the paranormal thrown in.An author describes events that may or may not have occurred in reality, concerning an acquaintance with a dual personality as Martin Graham and Gareth Carpenter. Carpenter was as completely truthful as any human being generally can be; Martin, introduced as such, the complete opposite. Carpenter, having reluctantly taken the part of a Satanist in a school dramatic production, feared that a near-impossible run of ostensibly good luck in his alternative persona might have resulted from a malign influence and tried unsuccessfully to distance himself from it. The author, present at Carpenter’s death after an accident and entrusted with commissions on his behalf, suspects that he may have inherited it.
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    Skiddlethorpe and other stories

      Peter D Wilson
Skiddlethorpe and other stories

A dozen mostly light-hearted 2000-word stories on varied themes – humour, whimsy, calamity, sentiment, skulduggery, retribution, reparation, shadows of the past – with some narrative threads between them and an occasional touch of the shaggy dog.A long-severed connection is happily renewed in old age; called to meet a demanding associate, a traveller finds someone quite different; after an elaborate dream regressing to childhood memories, a letter in real life brings an alarming suggestion of premonition; an enterprising off-comer has a remarkable effect on an isolated rustic community; duped into an unwarranted assassination, a conscientious vigilante resolves on reparation for the death; chance encounters bring the fulfilment of a dying child’s dearest wish; past activities lead to involvement with the affairs of a Russian oligarch; the security check on a guest to the re-marriage of the Russian’s widowed daughter leads to the discharge of an onerous obligation; a persistent romantic’s disastrous history comes to a strange conclusion; the inspiration of a fantasy film-maker proves to have a surprising source; remnants from long-past conflict bring a tragic end to attempts at entertaining passengers from a stranded cruise liner; discovery of ancient cave-art in a northern valley arouses great expectations.
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