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Story Title: - Twisted

Type of story: Long

Main Characters: Roman, Nicole, Geoff, Miles, Aden

BTTB rating: A (L SC v)

Genre: Drama Thriller

Does story include spoilers: No

Any warnings: Will warn at beginning of chapter if any

Summary: Roman Harris was a solider. He worked all around the world protecting others, helping others until something happened that made him want to find peace in Summer Bay. There he found his daughter and life went on as normal. But what if one day you wake up and the memories you thought you had were twisted? Three years seemed to be missing from his memory. What did he do during that time and why did he get the feeling he was being watched?


Roman Harris lay on his bed the room was dark with only the swish swish sound of the over-the-bed ceiling fan to keep him company. He clutched at the spare pillow pulling it towards him as he thrashed on the bed as the now regular dream began.

He was walking along, somewhere hot; the ground was uneven beneath his booted feet. He sucked in a deep breath feeling the hot air enter and inflate his lungs. They expanded with the breath pushing against his painful ribs, although he couldn’t remember what he’d done to them. He felt the weight of a full pack strapped to his back. The straps were staring to dig into his shoulders. He moved forward unable to remember why he was heading in that direction, unable to remember where he had come from.

The dream moved on slowly like a movie was playing on a full screen in front of him. He wanted to shout out a warning but of what he didn’t know. Hills lay to the left of him and overhead a brilliant blue sky. The air was warm and the wind was a curious hot that made him long for the moisture rich beach not the dust of the desert sand. He sighed and then the sigh became a moan as the heat of an explosion reached him. The air superheated and he could feel the burn in his throat as he sucked in a deep gasping breath. His lips formed words that he couldn’t say as the power of the blast sent him back and back until he was flat on the hot sandy ground. His weapon discarded like a little boy’s toy catapulted from his grip. He twisted and moved towards it, his hands clawing at the hot desert sand as he moved achingly slowly. He could feel particles of sand underneath his fingernails as he clawed his way forward inch by inch.

“No” he gasped out, unsure whether it was the dream him that spoke or the real him crying out in the dark. Finally his fingers touched the stock of the weapon and he dragged it towards him praying that it would still fire. His fingers found the trigger as he tugged it close to him and swinging it around. He took a second to scan ahead before depressing the trigger and sending a cascade of bullets out into the hot desert air.

He woke then, always at the same point in the dream, uncertain of where he was or who he was firing art. Roman reached for the glass of water he kept by his bed taking a thirsty gulp before swallowing more slowly. He eased up in the bed putting his back against the dark wooden headboard and freeing his legs from the tangle of the bed sheets around them. They were twisted just like his dream.

Just like his memory.

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Chapter 1

Miles Copeland stood on the beach standing a little way back just out of the line of sight of the two people he was watching. He was dressed in a long waterproof green coat, his hair was scrawny and he had a two day growth of beard on his face. He looked over at the girl, her long dark hair tied back in a pony tail move along the beach with a little girl. He saw the way she was holding the little girl’s hand and he sighed once more.

Stepping forward he picked up a discard piece of branch from a nearby tree strolling down the beach. He looked over at them and moving away and he dragged the stick in the sand drawing a line. Before he knew it he had written a word in the pale golden sane. He glanced up and over towards the diner watching as a rotund woman in a large floral creation of a dress bundled along. She was bustling towards the diner. The dress a pale green colour with large pink flowers on and he could see the look of disapproval on her face from here. He dropped the stick and walked away slowly feeling the sharp pang of hunger in his belly.

He tried to think of the last time he had eaten and couldn’t remember. He watched as the woman in the floral dress moved away and he moved slowly cautiously to the bins at the back of the diner. He struggled with the straps of his pack pulling it tight as he delved into the large cylindrical grey bin.

“Hey!” Roman Harris called out.

Miles looked up in shock at the vocal intrusion into his daydream.

“Sorry!” he gasped out.

“It’s ok Mate, “Roman muttered walking over to him.

“I was hungry.” Miles said looking at the tall blond man.

“That’s ok.” Roman smiled. “Wait here and I’ll bring a plate out to you.”

“I don’t want charity.” Miles muttered looking at the scruffy shoes he had on and not meeting the other man’s gaze.

“Not Charity.” Roman told him and moved back inside.

He heard muffled voices and turned to walk away his stomach rumbling in protest. “Hey.” Hr heard called out for a second time. Miles turned at the voice and watched as he moved over to him.

“Here you go. Just leave the plate at the back.” Roman murmured handing the plate filled with food over to him. There was also a wrapped sandwich and a can of soft drink along with a bottle of water.

“Thanks.” Miles said to him.

He wandered for a moment if Roman recognized him and almost asked the question. Instead he accepted the plate of food and the drinks.

Roman moved away and into the kitchen of the diner. Miles watched him through narrowed eyes seeing how the other man moved. There was still the hint of army training in the way Roman Harris walked, his shoulders straight and his hands loose by his side, feet planted firmly with each step he took as though prepared in some intricate way for action.

Miles sank down to the ground folding his legs in front of him. He rested the plate on his knee as he struggled out of the backpack. Picking up the fork he eating the salad on the plate, his expression thoughtful.

Roman stepped back into the kitchen and ignored the glaring look from Irene. He washed his hands and moved back preparing the food. A strange sense of déjà vu struck him and he sighed.

“What’s up with you?” Irene said caustically.

“Nothing.” Roman told her sounding uncertain. “Nothing.” He said again.

“Well if you’re certain.” Irene muttered with just a hint of sarcasm in her voice.

He nodded moving over to the cooker.

Miles cleared the plate and walked it over to the back door of the diner. He left it on the step before collecting the can of drink and the other things, placing them securely in his pack. Walking slowly he made his way up to the lookout point by the lighthouse. He perched on the bench there and opened his bag. Delving into the bottom he tugged out the mobile phone and switched it on. It was a disposable phone, bought many months ago. He switched it on and within seconds the display lit up. He had two bars of charge left. He smiled somewhat grimly as he saw it connect to the network. He dialed the number he knew from memory and waited as the call connected.

“It’s Milco.” He said. “Get Baron.” He instructed.

He counted heartbeats as the call was put through.

“Baron here.” Came the well modulated tones of the other man.

“I know you are tracing this call so I’ll be brief.” Miles began. “I’m out of the game, correct?” he asked.

“Milco.” Baron said his voice sounding calm. Too calm for Miles’ peace of mind.

“Answer. “ He instructed.

“One can never leave the game.” Baron told him. “How is Summer Bay old chap?”

“It was an interesting place to visit.” Miles said looking up into the blue sky overhead a strange expression on his face.

“You might meet an old friend.” Baron predicted. “You should stay around. We’ll call.”

“Listen to me. The game is over.” Miles said softly. “I won’t be a party to it anymore.” And he heard Baron sigh at the other end of the call.

“Milco.” Baron said quietly followed by. “Miles.”

“Don’t start the psychological babble Baron. Remember I invented the playbook as far as that is concerned. We are done, ok. You come for me and people will get hurt. And as for any old friends of mine, leave them alone too.” Miles ended the call and moved over to the cliff. With a satisfied sigh he dropped the phone over the side watching it drop. He turned quickly and picked up his bag. Heading past the signs that declared him entering and leaving Summer Bay he began walking away. After a time he struck his thumb out and tried to hitch a lift, the sooner he was away from here the better for all concerned.

It took him half an hour before he turned around and headed back to town. He never did like unfinished business.

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Chapter 2

Roman woke up. The room was dark and he dragged his phone across and lit up the display to read the time. Barely 3 am. He swore, the words harsh in the quiet night, the dreams were getting worse. Climbing out of bed he put on the light and then stripped off the tangled sheets and collected fresh, putting the old ones in the laundry. Within moments he had remade the bed, folding the corners of the new sheets precisely before tucking them in. He debated with himself on whether to climb back into the freshly made bed for a time before deciding that it was wasn’t worth it. Gathering his running kit he pulled it on and headed out.

The morning sun was just starting to burst through the night sky and he loved the way it seemed to paint the clouds with a burst of orange flame as dawn rapidly approached. He lengthened his stride and ran along the road. It was bereft of traffic at this time of the morning and he smiled as he ate up the k’s. His normal morning run consisted of a smooth circuit before heading to the beach to complete a section there where the shifting sands sucked at his feet. By then his calf muscles would be protesting the treatment but he would push past the temporary discomfort knowing that he needed to keep in maximum condition for the next mission.

He stopped suddenly, his breathing ragged and his chest rising and falling in an uneven pattern.

“Next Mission?” he asked himself. “Where the hell did that thought come from?” he questioned.

With a puzzled expression he looked around himself. He’d run right out of Summer Bay, the last part being uphill so why hadn’t he noticed. He moved past the glib welcome to Summer Bay sign and collapsed on the nearby bench.

“Morning” a voice called out to him. Roman looked around scanning the still dark surroundings until he saw someone easing out of a sleeping bag and after standing upright moving over to him.

“It’s you.” He gasped out when he recognized the figure approaching him.

“It is.” Miles confirmed.

“Why are you here?” Roman asked quickly, a confused expression on his face.

“Why are we all here?” Miles countered spreading his hands out palms upward before walking closer to the other man.

“There is a shelter in Yabbie Creek.” Roman muttered. “You could have stayed there.”

“I know.” He confirmed. “What brings you out at, “ He paused, squinting at his watch. “4:35am.” He finished.

Roman shrugged.

“I just felt like a run.” He said.

Miles nodded at that before grinning at the other man.

“So what is the surprising thing that you have run so far or that it is still before 5am?” Miles asked him.

Roman gave him a looked before running a hand over his face. He hadn’t shaved yet and the rough stubble rubbed against his hand. He felt a strange familiarity with that gesture in front of Miles and found his gaze meeting the dark eyes of the other man.

“What is your name?” he asked suddenly.

“I’m Miles.” Miles stated and finished the sentence in his head. ‘But you used to call me Milco.’

Roman nodded and then paused as if he were expecting the other man to say something else before he spoke.

“I’m Roman Harris.” He said softly his words caught on the early morning breeze.

“Hey Roman.” Miles said as though they had only just met.

“What brings you to the Bay?” Roman caught himself asking.

“I was looking for someone.” Miles confessed.

“And did you find her?” Roman asked and then frowned, puzzlement crossing his handsome features.

“She’s here.” Miles confirmed, ignoring the way Roman had phrased the question.

“I’m going to go get some breakfast would you like to join me?” Roman asked after a moment of silence between the two men.

Miles looked up at the sky and then over at Roman.

“Breakfast would be good.” He declared knowing that the path he was on couldn’t be changed now. He stepped away and moved over to the place he had been sleeping and bending down he rolled up his sleeping bag and put it back into the small nylon bag it was stored in pulling the drawstring fastening tight. He tucked it away in his pack and hoisted it over his shoulder.

“Just one question.” Miles said looking at Roman.

“What?” Roman said quickly.

“You aren’t going to make me run all the way back, are you?”

Roman let out a laugh and moved over to Miles clapping a hand on his shoulder.

“Not afraid of a little exercise are you?” he said and had the feeling he had said those words before.

Miles laughed and the two men settled into an easy pace as they walked back to town. Roman guided them to the diner knowing that he had little food in his own kitchen. He paused outside the door of the diner, it was still an hour before they were due to open up and prepare for the day ahead.

“What’s up?” Miles asked him.

“I haven’t got my keys.” Roman confessed a sheepish expression on his face.

“Are you going to let a little thing like that stop you?” Miles chuckled holding out his Swiss army knife.

Roman gave a crooked grin and accepted the penknife from him selecting one of the mini tools he set about picking the lock on the door. It swung open in a graceful arc and he stepped inside disarming the alarm, punching in the four digit code before switching on a couple of lights, the dawn outside not quite enough yet to chase the darkness away.

He handed Miles his penknife back before heading to the kitchen. Switching on the heavy duty coffee machine first he moved with grace around the small confines of the kitchen, opening the fridge he pulled out the ingredients to make them a full breakfast. Bacon, sausages eggs beans and tomatoes. He set the things cooking, leaving the fried eggs till last before making them a cup of coffee. He sat on a chair opposite Miles and sipped at the brew,

“What made you decide to settle here?” Miles asked Roman.

The other man grinned taking a long sip of his drink before he answered.

“I drove around for a while.” He began, watching as Miles nodded acknowledgement. “Before coming here. I just wanted to try the surf you know but well this diner was up for sale, a part share in it anyway, and I wanted somewhere to wait.”

“Settle.” Miles said softly.

“Yeah, settle.” He confirmed puzzled once more. “Why? What did I say?” he asked.

“You said ‘wait’.” Miles pointed out adopting his professional voice, keeping any inflictions from the tones in an effort not to betray emotion.

“Did I?” Roman questioned sipping at his coffee.

Miles hid a smile as he looked at Roman. He had dual degrees in psychology and sociology and in a previous life he was also accredited as a teacher too, the role providing cover when he needed it. He continues to watch Roman as he stood and moved into the kitchen finishing the cooking. He came back after a few moments and handed Miles his plate and cutlery struck by the certainty that he had done that before. They ate in companionable silence before sitting back in their chairs surveying identical empty plates.

“That was good.” Miles said after a minute.

“That was a bit of a change from what I used to cook growing up. “ Roman found himself saying. He normally stayed quiet about his past especially his stint in the army.

Miles continued looking at Roman not letting on how much he knew about the other man. Roman Harris had left home at the age of twenty, joining the army after a couple of years at university, minus the degree at that point. He rose through the army ranks getting a degree in Political Science at some point before he went in for specialist training and joining the SAS. It was his scores and his aptitude with the SR25 rifle amongst other things that earmarked him for a select group. Numerous missions around the globe that last fateful time when no one really knew what happened. After that the other man left, although his psychological profile didn’t suggest that Roman was suffering from Battle Fatigue, he decided that he’d had enough. Miles grinned, he’d spent three years as his handler so there wasn’t a lot that he didn’t know about Roman Harris, nicknamed Hardcore.

“My parents owned a restaurant,” Roman continued in the same tone of voice. “So I was brought up around food.”

Miles chuckled.

“Well that was good.” He said meaning the breakfast.

Roman gave him a smile before clearing the table.

“I should go.” Miles said after a moment.

Roman nodded.

“Thanks for the company.” He said to Miles walking him out to the door. “Where are you going to next?”

“Do you know Sally Fletcher?” Miles asked.

Roman nodded and gave Miles directions to the caravan park looking on as the other man left. He waited until Leah turned up before setting off home to get changed.

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Chapter 3

“Sally there is a reason we get on so well.” Miles told her. He looked around the room seeming so homely, scanning the photos on the mantle over the side of the room. “I’m Milco.” He said quickly before he lost his nerve.

She shook her head and backed away from him.

“But Milco is made up. He was my imaginary friend.” She gasped out and raising her hand to her throat and looking at him in shock.

“You couldn’t pronounce my name so you called me Milco.” He told her. “You are my twin sister.”

She shook her head.

“Get out.” She cried.

“Sal.” He said holding out his hand in appeal.

She shook her head once more and took another step backwards.

“No. Get out.” She bit out.

He nodded, a sad expression on his face and he turned around and walked out of the house. He stood outside for a moment before deciding to head to the beach and with a last look at the house behind him he walked away.

Sally Fletcher sank on to a chair a strange expression across her face. She though back to her childhood. She remembered clutching a big bear and watching a curly headed little boy moving away down the path his hand in the grasp of an older man.

“Milco.” She said her voice full of wonder. “Miles.” She cried out rushing to the door. “Miles!” she called out louder.

Miles paused and lifted his head, he heard his name called a second time and turned around. He walked quickly back to the house having not got far away at all and saw Sally framed in the doorway, the light behind her head seeming to give her a halo and he held his breath for a moment as he looked at her. In a flash she was a little girl holding on to a bear almost as big as her as his dad walked him down the path and away from her. Blinking against the sudden threat of tears he saw her back as the adult Sally and he ran then over to his sister pulling her into his arms for the first time in years and embracing her in the hug he’d wanted to do on the beach the first time he saw her.

“I remember.” She told him smiling. “You’re Milco.” She added tremulously.

He grinned happily thinking that she took it better than Roman would when the other man learnt of their past association.

Roman collapsed tiredly on his bed although it was only mid afternoon he needed some sleep. He took the early shifts at the diner because he was usually awake by dawn each morning. He lay back kicking off his trainers as the same time as throwing up his arm to cover his already closer eyes. Sighing he sank slowly into sleep. The dream started straight away, he was walking under a hot sun feeling the wind on his face. He was grateful for the cream he’d put on earlier to protect from sunburn although he had goggles and face protection in his kit he liked the feel of the sun on him missing his homeland of Australia just a touch. He promised himself that he would go home for an extended visit when he was done on this mission.

He walked cautiously checking the ground for signs of landmines or any other equally destructive devices. In the distance shimmering with the heat haze lay his target, the current number two man in Al Quieda.. It was his job to eliminate him by any means necessary. He walked on aware of the feel of the rough material of his non-descript desert camouflage he was wearing. It gave away no rank or ensigna, or even a country of origin. The boots were his and although American made they were not army issue. He felt the tightness of the lace fastenings with each step he took. His thoughts continued in a similar vein listing the contents of the pack he had strapped to his back as he walked seeming achingly slowly along the road towards the village. His thoughts turning morbid, if caught or other fate he would be denied, his existence would cease to be. He was a ghost a shadow. The price he paid for being good with a rifle.

With his thoughts turning cynical as he considered the politics that brought him here he reached the bombed out village that was his mid way point. Broken shells of buildings marked what was once a thriving community. The people were loyal to no one regime just trying to build a life for themselves out of the dust of the desert until the Taliban arrived. They moved in on them forcing the women to wear traditional garments and the men to grow poppies for the drug trade. They were the lucky few as the younger men were conscripted into the terrorist army and taught to fight, indoctrinated with the thoughts of martyrdom.

But that was in the past, anybody that survived the Taliban bombing of the village scattered before Allied or NATO troops could reach them.

The dream Roman shrugged off his pack and found overnight shelter. He pulled out rations and constructed a meal for himself out of the foil wrapped ingredients filled with a sudden longing to be eating in his parent’s restaurant.

Outside the house where the dreaming man lay a white van pulled up and parked almost opposite. The driver climbed out of the front and after checking around went into the back of the van pulling the door shut behind him.

Miles looked over at Sally and took a long drink of his coffee.

“I was a teacher.” He said not altogether lying to her.

Sally nodded and he grinned at her and felt relief at her acceptance of that small white lie. He knew guilt would come later.

“And what happened?” she asked, the words coming quickly.

He shook his head, his smile fading.

“Just wanted to travel.” He prevaricated. “And well a few things happened that made me decide to do it now rather than later.” He added softly.

Sally looked over at him her eyes filled with a mixture of compassion and understanding and he longed to tell her more but he knew that he wasn’t ready to say the words concerning his wife Louise and their daughter Amber. Let along the other stuff.

“Well I think you’ve met just about everyone. You know Colleen.” Sally murmured.

Miles took another sip of coffee from the cup in front of him.

“The woman who wears the floral dresses.” He said and saw Sally nod a light of merriment in her brown eyes.

“And Mr Stewart, I mean Alf, his grandson Ric and his girlfriend Mattie. Then there is Cassie and my little Pippa.” She said in a rush and raced over to the phone. ”There is someone who needs to meet you.” She said excitedly as she picked up the receiver .She heard a strange clicking sound as she placed the handset to her ear but ignored it and dialed.

“Hello Pippa.” she said when the call connected.

Miles stood up and moved a little way away to the door to allow Sally some privacy to make the call. Another few minutes and she turned looking over at him beaming.

“Pippa is going to come and meet you.” She told him.

Miles smiled at her and clamped down on the nervousness in the pit of his stomach. He liked Sally and getting involved in her life while his was so uncertain wasn’t something he’d planned on but he wouldn’t take away that look of happiness on her face for anything. He had no idea which one of them was born first but he felt like the protective older brother.

Roman woke up and ran a hand over his face. He headed to the bathroom for a shower felling worse than when he collapsed on the bed earlier. He stripped and stood under the hot spray letting it wash away the aches in his body. Stepping out a few minutes later he wrapped himself in alarge towel before gathering up his discarded clothes stuffing them in the laundry. He moved into the bedroom and pulled on clean clothes opting for a black roll neck sweater and a pair of black trousers. He added his silver necklace he had begun wearing recently liking the way it felt familiar around his neck. He was never going to admit he missed wearing his identification discs colloquially known as dog tags.

It took a glance in the mirror that made him realize how he’d dressed and he gave his reflection a confused look before tugging off the clothes and uncharacteristically leaving them in a muddle on the floor. He pulled on a brightly patterned T Shirt with a pair of shorts. Another look in the mirror at his reflection and he yanked on the chain snapping the links as he pulled it off. He left it on top of the dresser and looked a last time at his reflection before he moved out of the room and down the stairs, gathering his phone and keys on the way out.

Moments later the rear van door opened and a man dressed in blue coveralls stepped out. He glanced up and down the street before crossing over the road. He carried a blue toolbox in one hand. Moving up the path to the house he pulled out a small device that looked like a small drill. He inserted that into the lock and pressed the button. The answering click from the lock told him that the tool had done its job and he took it out putting it back in the toolbox. He quickly pulled on a pair of latex gloves before turning the door handle and pushing the door slowly open. Another furtive glance around and he stepped inside. Within moments the first listening device was fitted to the telephone. He scanned light fittings before pulling out the smallest bug he had. Unscrewing the light fitting he added the bug and put the pieces back together. He would have liked to place a camera there but the both time and the location of the lights was against him. He moved up the stairs and checked out the upstairs rooms. He found Harris’ bedroom and looked inside it before stepping over the threshold. Looking around he noticed the discarded clothes and the rumpled bed covers. A quick search of the wardrobe followed by the dresser revealed nothing. There were no weapons. Maybe Hardcore was out of the business. He slammed the drawer shut back into the dresser not noticing that the broken chain slithered off the top and fell silently to the carpeted floor. Turning he moved out of the room and down the stairs. He collected his tools and went out the door. Almost strolling he moved back over to the van and climbed in the back.

“That was easy.” The other occupant of the van commented.”

“Yeah maybe too easy.” Smith said as he stripped off the blue coveralls and bundled them up.

“You reckon Hardcore is out of the game?” Hammond muttered looking at the screen in front of him. A discrete camera mounted on top of the van relayed a picture inside of the street and the house.

“It looks like it.” Smith said with a shrug.

“So why are we watching him?” Hammond asked somewhat unwisely. The younger man earned a glance from Smith and flinched from the intense look.

“Because that is our job.” Smith told him his tone like ice. “Now concentrate.” He urged sinking back into his seat his eyes on the screen too.

He knew Hardcore Harris from a long time ago and he looked forward to a chance to settle the score he thought his fingers tracing the white puckered scar across his face.

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