The Diary of a Research Assistant


Beth Hamilton

Zip knelt down by the body of his best friend. Like the gentle rain, tears streamed down his grubby cheeks. Winston watched on with a nagging pain in his heart. He was brave enough not to cry. He had cried enough in his lifetime. Zip wailed as he clasped Alister’s jacket. The sobs were drowned out by the crackling fire. Suddenly, he stopped. He had felt a lump in the pocket. He took out a small, tattered, aged notebook with ‘The Diary of a Research Assistant’ written on the cover in Alister’s neat handwriting. Zip opened it. Memories as well as secrets spilled out.

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.

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. 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. 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 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?

9th August 2004

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.

27th August 2004

This was the worst birthday I ever had. I wish it was over. I received a heartbreaking telephone call from Mother. She revealed that she only had one month to live. She also told me that it was 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.

I 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. The doctor said I had a nasty fall and might have a concussion. He advised me to rest for now. 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.

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!

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’. 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 leant 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?

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. It will be splendid to meet the rest of Zip’s family. It’s a big one.

I’d be meeting his 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.

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, the first thing that came out of her mouth was, “ We don’t like no pooftas ‘ere, sweet darlin’!” Zip laughed awkwardly. “ Don’t worry, Grammy, he’s a friend.” Rosa snapped at him, “ Shuddup, Reginald!” Wait a moment! Reginald?! No wonder he changed his name to Zip.

Finlay 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. Tonight, he made a beautiful meal. It was the best spag bol I ever tasted.

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 chatterboxes!

Rex isn’t very nice. He shoved me aside and snarled at me. 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.

3rd December 2004

I suffered a bloody nose this afternoon. It was a sunny day so they decided to play baseball. I stood there, quaking in my boots. 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.

The next thing I knew, Godiva was wiping away the blood with a clean damp cloth. I must say, she’s a rather good nurse. I asked if she was in university or not. She said all she wants is to marry me and mother my children. 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.

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.

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. As he broke down in tears, I promised him I would be with him when he meets his child. 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.

Zip searched around for the pretty Black girl and her son. 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.

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.

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 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’.

24th February 2005

This morning, Zip and I were in the swimming pool. We got into talking about Godiva, who would be arriving in March. I asked him if it was all right for me to go out with her. 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.

22nd March 2005

Godiva 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.

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. 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!

14th April 2005

During the night, Zip received a very upsetting voice message on his mobile phone. It was from Godiva. 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 waited for hours in angst. Then we heard the huge front doors creak 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 job. 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.

3rd May 2005

Godiva convinced me to show her what I can do in the swimming pool. My confidence was slightly shaken for some strange reason. Zip was forced to be the lifeguard. I showed off my breast stroke, 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.

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.

23rd July 2005

There’s not much going on lately, however I have many things to report. 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 led 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

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 had the concussion. I haven’t heard from him since his resignation. I hope he is doing well. Working for Lara was a bit difficult for him, because of his stammer. It would be nice for us to become friends.

7th August 2005

I have received a letter from Edwin.

‘Dear Alister,

I will be moving to Scotland in a couple of weeks. I have applied for a job as a librarian’s assistant 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’

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!

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 the new earpiece. 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 whispered. “ 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. He continued his heist. “ Alister? Do something now, ‘til Lara gets there. She’s coming into the foyer. I’ll tell her what 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 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.

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 had 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. She smiled as she approached the bed.

As she lay back, it had to be done. I sat on the bed and she leant forward and rested her head on my shoulder, still smiling. I exhaled sharply, I needed to prepare myself for what I was about to say. I moved 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.

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.

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 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 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.

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; 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.

15th December 2005

Zip telephoned Godiva. She will meet with Edwin after Christmas. This plan is working too perfectly! I bet they’ll have the best time together.

Zip, Lara and I were having such a laugh in the swimming pool. 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. 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.

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! 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. Soon after she had had a large amount of champagne, she fainted into my arms. 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 too busy wooing the eighteen year old daughter, Antoinette. Alicia was unsuccessfully trying to drag me to the bedroom when I finally snapped. I screamed. 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.

10th January 2006

I received a telephone call from a rather smitten Edwin.

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 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 but congratulated her nonetheless.

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. The main character will meet Dr. Walden and he tells him to do something with his life, which makes hike across deserts.

4th February 2006

I have a girlfriend now. Her name is Foxy. She is gorgeous. She has jet black hair. Her eyes are brown. Her skin is dark, presumably because of a fake tan. Her chest is plastic. Despite these nice (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 and doesn’t want to leave.

We met in odd circumstances. 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. Then she came back to the hotel room and hasn’t left since.

22nd February 2006

I have an announcement. Foxy asked me to marry her. I said yes. I know tradition says the man should propose but Foxy is not like that. I understand that we got engaged after such a short relationship but we love each other very much.

I phoned Zip to tell him. 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.

6th April 2006

Foxy and I got into an argument. I’m on the way home.

Foxy was talking about meeting the Queen. I explained to her that we’ll have no chance of meeting her. Foxy cried, “ What?! I thought you were a famous archaeologist.” I turned bitter when she said those words. Memories of Father abusing me came back. “ That’s my father. I’m nothing like him; I am working myself to the bone!” “ Well, when he dies, we’ll get his money. 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.” “ No, Winston is Lara’s employee, not mine.” “ So you lied to me?” 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 couldn’t believe her stupidity. “ Those are photographs of my home. I LIVE WITH LARA BECAUSE I WORK FOR HER! I can’t believe you…You want me for my money!” Foxy flinched and answered a very loud yes. I stormed out. Straight away, she rushed out with her ring in her hand. “I bet you lied about being gay! 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.” I got a taxicab to the airport. I can’t believe I let that…courtesan into my heart.

17th April 2006

Zip said that Godiva and Edwin had an important announcement. So, Zip telephoned his sibling. They spoke for a very long time. It made me feel quite anxious.

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. I was stunned and speechless by the news. My beautiful Godiva; with child?! It was hard to believe that only last year, she was plastered all over me.

9th July 2006

Winston received a telephone call this morning. It was an old friend of Lord Richard’s. It was a female. Her name is Harriet Cliffe-Gait. She had important matter she wanted to discuss with Winston. No one knows what it is. Zip has a theory. He thinks that they’re showing each other a good time. Just the thought of it made me feel the vomit at the back of my throat.

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 something 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. Zip was thrilled. He liked 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. Godiva’s experienced Braxton-Hicks contractions, shouldn’t that mean the baby’ll be arriving soon?

1st October 2006

This is not good. Lara isn’t 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, Rexx Rover. Lara calls herself Harley Thunder and when she is not working for someone, she is a lady of the night. I’m afraid that Rexx will find out the truth and kill her.

13th October 2006

At 4:33am this morning, Edwin telephoned Zip. He explained that Godiva had felt her first real contraction.

Zip and I had more sleep and woke up again at ten o’clock. Zip pushed me into the van and drove to the train station. Our thoughts were with our friends/family.

By the time we got to the hospital, the baby was ready to be born. Zip was exhausted so he had a 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. 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.

The baby is the spitting image of her mother. Her hair is black and woolly, she has small nostrils and thick lips. When I held her, I felt so content that I wanted to cry. The crazy outgoing adolescent had grown up and was now a mother. The baby was to be named Orlyn.

3rd January 2007

I was dreaming about Lara last night. We were together, in this desert. It was blazing hot but we couldn’t feel it. We were aware of the heat but we couldn’t feel it. As the sand swept past, there was a soothing breeze. Lara took my hand and squeezed it lovingly as she smiled. There was a ghostly whispering that circled around us. She leant in close. Sadly, before it could continue, Zip cruelly threw a pillow at me.

15th February 2007

Every night before I drift off to sleep, I picture Lara in my mind. I was racking my brain over it most of the night. It’s her I love. I thought I will never say the following words but now I will state them. I love Lara Croft.

I don’t wish to announce the news just yet. Zip has woken up with Winston’s flu and undoubtedly he will pass on to me. I don’t think I am ready to tell anyone yet anyway. I am aware that this love is still premature and might not grow into anything.

22nd February 2007

Lara is in Egypt. The only forms of communication we have with her are on the computer system and telephone. Being this far away from Lara is bloody dreadful. She could do herself injuries and we won’t be able to help her. Every time a mercenary jumps out, it kills me. A nightmarish image of her mangled, rotting body has plastered itself in my brain and I want to scream out. When she requested me to research the artefact she was after, I refused to do it. Lara became annoyed and gave me a warning. Who cares?! I love her and if I encourage her to die, that would bring a terrible pain to us.

I don’t choose to act like this. A hormone-filled adolescent cannot themselves from feeling a remarkable strong emotion towards another human being. This may be a similar phase of life; it may pass. Remembering my adolescent years made me think of my crush on Janet Leigh. I didn’t want to admit it to people because I feared that the ridicule I had to undergo would worsen. That’s the precise reason why I cannot tell anyone my secret. Zip, with his big mouth, would blab it to the whole world. Winston would suggest something to take my mind off it. After all, Lara is an asexual.

19th April 2007

Lara has had a terrible fall! She was in the Cambodian jungle when she was swinging in the vines to avoid a creature named the Tumulous Phasmatis. It resembled a large lizard-type animal with raging red eyes and teeth that had jagged edges. The only way to defeat it is with an ancient incantation. It was the most terrified animal I had ever seen. Even courageous Zip expressed fear. Lara clasped the vines, knowing her fate if she should fall. She swung across and let go of the vine at the top of the swing. She threw her arms out like a majestic bird, ready to grab the edge of the waterfall. Zip, Winston and I held our breaths as we watched through the earpiece. My heart was racing. Her fists gripped the rocks but they were slippery from the rushing water. Her strength failed her. The blood-curdling scream almost killed me. There was deafening splash before being plunged into total darkness. Immediately, Zip contacted James, the helicopter pilot. He found Lara by the waterside, unconscious. Her beautiful dark auburn hair was soaked in blood.

That was several weeks ago now. She is in a coma. I’m scared I might lose her. Winston isn’t eating. He is growing thin and yet, he’s working consistently. The pressure he’s enduring is becoming transparent.

However, Zip appears to be dealing with it. He’s just the same old crazy American thirty six year old child. Last night, when we were having our midnight alcohol, the truth rose to the surface. The truth is, Zip is as frightened as I am. He explained that behaving like nothing as happened was his way of dealing with loss. He gave the example of when his brother died. Zip was in prison at that point but according to him, he stole the guard’s laptop, which is how he met Lara. She had sent an email to everyone in the US, searching for America’s greatest computer hacker to help with a mission in New York. With his knowledge of technology, he was the one for the job. Working for Lara for that first time was not a happy experience. All he could think about was Ricky and how guilty he felt. This may sound cruel, but it never occurred to me that Zip ever got upset about anything.

22nd May 2007

Death is a curious thing. People of all ages succumb to do it; elderly people fade away as they age, even infants as young as several hours old. You may be curious to why I’ve started the entry this way. The anniversary of Winston’s daughter’s death is today and he is devastated. It was forty nine years ago. With all the comfort Zip and I can give, his mood won’t alter. As an act of kindness, Zip drove us to the cemetery.

A statue stood high and mighty. Its face was weathered, yet it wore unnerving smirk. The eyes were detailed and were eerily close to the actual person. The stone weapons it held in its fists were green from the moss that had grown on it. A long stone plait was frozen in the breeze. I was dumbfounded at whom it was supposed to depict. It was Lara’s statue from when she went missing in 1999.

I walked with the others to the daughter’s grave. ‘Here lies Irene Smith who brought happiness into her parents’ lives 21st February 1958-22nd May 1958’, it read in the inscription. Watching Winston kneel by the gravestone was a difficult experience. Zip gestured for us to leave. We were in silence as a sign of respect.

We stood by Lara’s statue. Zip was as dumbfounded as I was. “ Man!” he began, “ I thought they tore this thang down?” he asked. “ I don’t know,” I said. “ Perhaps they needed elucidation?” “ Dude, I wouldn’t answer even if I knew what it meant.” Zip’s unintelligence is loveable but at the same time, it is increasingly annoying. “ Bloody hell, Zip! You need to study your terminology,” I snapped. Zip looked at me as if I was mad. “ Come again? Look, let’s just go get Winston, OK?” he added, as an afterthought. It was an extraordinary little argument.

14th June 2007

It was three years ago I started this job and it was the day Lara woke up. I was with her. I was reading a much-loved book of mine. Suddenly, her eyes fluttered opened, turned her head and she whispered in a croaky voice, “ For God’s sake, Alister! Shut up; I really dislike that book!” I couldn’t stop the tears. We embraced warmly. I ran to tell Zip and Winston. Believing I was mad, they rushed to see her.

2nd September 2007

Edwin sent me a letter, on the subject of some news recently. It was amusing, in a twisted manner.

‘ Dear Alister,

I am well. Orlyn is growing beautifully. Godiva is doing great at the moment. I am writing to you to inform you of news. A few weeks ago, Godiva had a pregnancy scare, but luckily, it was false. She was upset that she wasn’t having another baby but has now realised that we would never have managed it. It’s such a shame Orlyn isn’t getting a younger brother or sister.

With Love

From Edwin R. Morgan’

Regardless of the cruel humour, I telephoned Godiva instantly. I explained to her that nature didn’t intend her to have another child at this time. I added that if she’s young and has plenty of time to have hundreds of children. Jokingly, I said she could name a future son after me.

24th December 2007

Lara hosted a Christmas party tonight. She invited so many people, such as Mrs. Cliffe-Gait, Lord and Lady Sandleton and their daughter, Nina Wakefield and a French woman named Rochelle Laroche. She was beautiful. She had bright emerald eyes which sparkled in the moonlight and hair that was blacker than shadows at twilight. I realised not even a pretty young lady can make my feelings for Lara shift. When we were talking, I kept seeing Lara’s face. Lara was the one I was meant to converse with. I went to search for her.

I saw Zip seduce Antoinette Sandleton. I spied on Winston having a personal conversation with Mrs. Cliffe-Gait. I saw every guest, except for Lara. I ran inside, in hopes that she had grown tired of the posh chatter. My instincts were correct. She was sitting at the desk, staring blankly at a map. The computer screen showed the same image, only with red dots all over it. She began to speak, “ It doesn’t add up. Thailand is obsolete from Father’s papers. There’s nothing in here!” I knelt down beside her. I placed my hand on her shoulder. “ Stop this foolishness,” I whispered. “ It’s Christmastime. The lord wouldn’t want you to miss a precious celebration. You have friends here, some of whom travelled miles to be in your company.” Lara smiled at me. She brushed the hair out of her eyes. “ Thank you,” she mumbled. “ You’re a good man, Alister.”

23rd January 2008

Zip was bored all day today, so he decided to use his skateboard inside. He whizzed around coffee tables. He rolled down the staircase, deliberately making an “ Eeeeee!” noise.

I took him to the study to show him a series of books I bought in the shops. They were called Captain Underpants, written by an American. He started to read them and he loved it. Well, a five year old would. The book may not be a great work of art, but at least he pushed him into reading. I always thought Zip was missing out in the world of literature.

13th June 2008

It was a warm day this afternoon so Zip and I had a water fight in the gardens. Winston joined in, soon Lara did too. She was wearing a sensuous red bathing suit. It had me transfixed. I had to force myself not to touch her. Her sharp brown eyes were hypnotising as they leered around, holding the most powerful determination. I squirted a water pistol in her face and she beamed. Her big but elegant feet hugged the ground and I knew what was going to happen next. I scarpered, chuckling like a child. I’ve become a good runner, since I’ve known Zip. Lara was faster than Zip though, and got caught up with me. She pinned me to the ground. There we were; panting, damp, smiling and cackling. As I gazed into those eyes, I began trembling. I adjusted my glasses awkwardly. My brain was screaming ‘I LOVE YOU’. This would be the moment. I was going to reveal everything, “ Lara, I-” “ There you are! We were wondering where you slipped off to,” Winston interrupted. I groaned. Winston’s presence was not ideal.

8th July 2008

Every time I see Lara, my heart beats to the rhythm of her name. It’s hard to breathe. It’s hard to speak. I fight the urge to kiss her. I want to touch her. When I see her, I can feel myself lose the courage to tell her. I cannot tell anyone right now. I don’t wish to. This love for Lara is in too deep now. It can’t be shifted; I love her and no one else, I will continue to love her for the rest of my days. I’ve become increasingly moody. My thoughts are consumed by the woman I worship. These thoughts are dangerous, full of filth and greed. I cannot be rid of them.

Zip is feeling the strain, I think. I like to be alone with these thoughts every night. When he speaks to me during the day, I continue to mumble outrageous things under my breath. I know I am doing wrong. I want to apologise, I want to take back any upsetting words, but I can’t help it. I won’t rest until Lara is mine.

27th August 2008

Thirty years ago, it was a sunny day just like today. I woke up at 5:14am, which was the time I supposedly born. It is an odd feeling being thirty. It feels like my life has passed by at top speed and there isn’t much of it left. I can understand why Zip wants to hold onto his childishness. I received extravagant gifts, such as books and a baseball bat with the names of Zip’s immediate family carved into it. Ralph, Rodney, Randall, Meryl, Louise, Finlay etc.

Winston baked a chocolate cake with delectable vanilla icing. He’d written a message on it. ‘Time to throw away the books and attract the babes!’. Winston was horrified to see his cake ruined. Zip wore a smirk. It was him who had befouled such a lovely cake. That was not all my friends did for me. They hosted a surprise party. There was music and delicious appetisers. I met people I haven’t met in years. There was Professor Eddington, Lara’s cousins and even the Dr. Walden. It was a wonderful day and I will never forget it, like so many of the other birthdays. I should repay my friends. I could do something for Zip’s birthday.

13th October 2008

Zip set up the webcam and Godiva did the same. It was for Orlyn’s birthday. Huddled around the computer screen, we sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to her which made her laugh. “ Hi, Glass Man! I see you!” she cried, waving frantically. Glass Man was her nickname for me, because of my glasses. “ I see YOU!” I answered. I tapped the screen like a fishbowl. “ Hi, Uncle Zip! Mommy says you’re fat!” The little girl chirped. Zip gasped theatrically. He rolled up his sleeve and showed off his muscles. “ You see that? Pure muscle! Not fat!” Orlyn looked confused, then said, “ Mommy says that’s fat!” Then we talked about puppies. That was an amusing hour.

26th October 2008

We discovered something very odd yesterday. Winston was dancing around his bedroom, singing loudly. It was completely out of character for him, even in his drunken state. It turned out to be Mrs. Cliffe-Gait, who had drank too much wine. We weren’t even aware she was visiting. Lara was dumbfounded. Zip winked at me because he was convinced his theory was true. It was very odd indeed. It was almost like a dream.

9th November 2008

Sensational. I had every moment planned. But the Mediterranean – I did not plan! Now, Lara is faraway and she has no idea how much she means to me. This anger I have is indescribable. Zip is enjoying the mission but he is very confused. Can’t he grasp that there are different names for the same underworld? Imbecile! Skimming through books was the way to pass the time. It was terribly dull waiting for a communiqué from Lara. I was anticipating it all day.

We soon heard from her. She said that Amanda is behind all of it. Apparently, she has old enemy of Lara’s locked up, who was supposed to have died over ten years ago. Her name is Natla. She told Lara that Amelia wasn’t in Niflheim but in Helheim. It was somewhat upsetting to hear, because I had been proven wrong. But then again, there is always the probability of Natla lying.

18th November 2008

I heard a loud explosion outside not so long ago, therefore will keep this entry short.

I like being in the swimming pool alone. As I float in the water, I dream of Lara. I want to do things to her; things I’ve never done before. When I think about her, the cruelty in the world seems to melt away and there is no one else but us. My love is pumped through my veins. There are no missions, no treacherous fathers, no secrets. A decision has been made. It is a decision that will change my life. Tonight is the night. Yes, I will tell Lara I am in love with her.


NOTICE: This story is a work of fiction. Lara Croft, her likeness, and the Tomb Raider games are all copyright of EIDOS Interactive. There is no challenge to these copyrights intended by this story, as it is a non-sanctioned, unofficial work of the author's own. Entry for the 4th Village of Tokakeriby Tomb Raider Story Competition, 2009.