breaking the web cover

Breaking the Web, told from the point of view of six uniquely different characters, is the sequel to The Irresistible Web, the story of a manipulative sect, led by an extremely charismatic woman, who believes that she is doing God’s work.

It tells of the ‘special’ children who are kept isolated from the world to be raised according to The Teacher’s standards, in preparation to be the leaders of a world which is heading for chaos.

It tells the story of a young naive woman, whose body is used to have a child, which would no longer belong to her.

It tells of this mother’s obsession to locate her daughter and eventually to be reunited. She is not alone.

It travels into the delusional mind of the Spiritual Teacher, and what motivates her bizarre influences upon her devotees.

It tells of the struggle of the young children dealing with their involuntary incarceration, and then their trials of fitting into normal society in their teenage years.

And it tells of two very different but vulnerable school teachers, who voluntarily give themselves to their Teacher’s work.

This is a story of winners and losers.

In Store Price: $22.95 
Online Price:   $21.95

ISBN: 978-1-921731-45-7    
Format: Paperback
Number of pages: 148
Genre: Fiction
Cover: Clive Dalkins


Author: Lynn Richards
Publisher: Zeus Publications
Date Published: 2010
Language: English



Back in the 1970s I had the privilege of sitting at the feet of a ‘beautiful’ old Indian Sage, a mystic, and Master Yogi, in a deserted orange grove at Mangrove Mountain in New South Wales. The sky was clear blue, there wasn’t a hint of wind, the oranges were left hanging on the green trees, and many were lying rotting on the ground. Around me young devotees, some dressed in saffron dhotis, were dancing, chanting, and creating hypnotic music on their various percussive instruments. Faint streams of sandalwood fragrance drifted from the incense burners inside the meditation hall. The rest of the world had disappeared for that time, when nothing seemed important except for the exquisite little ladybird that landed on the back of my hand.

The words of the Master often rise up from the depths of my memory, and continually amaze me. Truth is sometimes really hard to understand, let alone live with.

His name was Paramhansa Satyananda, and I give thanks for that day. He explained that on the Spiritual Path, progress could only be made if the aspirant was free of conflict. And that opened up a huge can of worms, because what is conflict for one, is definitely not conflict to another. I guess he was saying that because of this we must not lay judgement ever, as we can never understand the workings of another’s mind.

Swami Satyananda, sitting beside his consort Swami Amritananda, continued to explain that we are all guided by our own conscience. We learn to meditate so that we can listen to the guidance of our Higher Self. The most important thing is to see clearly that the motives behind our actions and our thoughts are pure. That doesn’t mean that the actions and thoughts are necessarily what most people regard as pure. The emphasis is on the motives. It follows that someone could actually even commit a murder, a rape, a ghastly crime, and in their own minds they would have been doing the right thing, the necessary thing, for that moment. 

For the average person in society this behaviour is totally unacceptable, and such persons need to be locked away for the safety and protection of us all.

Amid the wondrous smorgasbord of individual psyches on our planet, there will always be those who willingly give their power away to assist in fulfilling the visions of those human beings whom they feel are superior and wiser. Such souls believe they are privileged to be even a small ‘cog in a large wheel’.

There are always those who feel so empowered that they believe their existence has a deep, pre-ordained, spiritual purpose. They are so driven that they feel completely justified in using all the energy, talent, and power of others who are drawn to them. Furthermore any obstacle, even any human being that blocks the realisation of their grandiose plans, can be removed without any need for justification.

The problem lies in the levels of insanity that exist in every one. Attempting not to be judgemental, I guess we have to, in some way, try to understand. In the long run we can make our own choices.

…Lynn Richards



It was a Tuesday. Tuesday, 8th March, 1988 to be precise. Mirri knew that, because one of the very first things the children had to do before they started their schoolwork each day was to write the day and the date in their very best copperplate handwriting neatly at the top of the page. She had been doing precisely that for as long as she could remember being able to write. She had started with a pencil, probably when she was only four, but nowadays she had her own ballpoint pen. It had been a treasured gift from her dear Mama, who gave a special pen to each of the children when they could show her how well they could write. 

Mirri had turned twelve two weeks ago. She knew her astrological sign as Pisces which she had been told was an emotional, sensitive and creative sign to be. She had also been told that she was a spiritual young lady, and had been chosen for a very important purpose in life. That was all she knew about that, and often she wondered exactly what it all meant. Birthdays in her ‘family’ were always welcomed by the children. There were thirteen of them, so there were a lot of birthdays. On those special days they were given a real treat. One of the aunties would bake a large cake, and often it would have real cream between the layers and sweet icing on the top. There were always candles too, even if they had been used before, seven candles no matter how old you were. Of course, when you counted the three aunties who cared for the children, plus Aunty Jean and Uncle Clive who arrived nearly every Friday night to keep their schoolwork up to date, that cake had to be stretched into 18 slices; so all the children had learned to be overjoyed with even a small slice. 

Each of the children had learned to sing from a very early age, and they had been to taught how to harmonise. So when the candles had been blown out, the birthday girl or boy as was the case, would sit in the ‘special’ chair, and the brothers and sisters would stand in a their line, from the oldest to the youngest and sing ‘Happy Birthday to You’, with Auntie Katherine on the piano, harmony and all. It was just lovely.

When there was a birthday the children did everything in their power to behave themselves in even the tiniest way, so that the day wouldn’t be spoiled because one of them would need to be disciplined. They all knew how sad it was if one of them had to be locked in the cupboard under the stairs, and how even more distressing if the aunties had to carry out the water punishment. They had all worked out that it was so much more pleasant if they ‘toed the line’ on birthdays.

This year Sandra and the twins had secretly made Mirri a colourful little patchwork cushion for their sitting time. They had stitched it by hand with her name too. Mirri knew that every stitch was filled with love, because Mama had told them that many times. All the children had signed the card designed by Jacob, which said ‘Love and Blessings our dear Mirri, on your Twelfth Birthday’ followed by all the individually written names she loved so much – Sandra who was her eldest sister had just turned 17 last month, Jacob and Daniel who were both 15 years old, the twins Ella and Stella, who were 14, Jamie 13, Bertie who was 12, Jasmine 10, Zachary and Ezra who were nearly 9, little Jeremy, 4 and a half, and tiny Tessa, their baby sister who came to live with them only at the end of last year. Tessa was three. Jeremy’s signature was a little distorted, and Mirri knew that Sandra had probably held little Tessa’s tiny hand around a pencil to show her how to write her name on the treasured card.

Mirri was permitted to display the card on the noticeboard in the girls’ bedroom next to the weekly affirmation that Auntie Katherine had pinned up. The affirmation was on the board so that they could see the words before they went to bed each night, and think about them when they closed their eyes. This week said, “Make me worthy of the gift of Thy Light, my Lord.” 

But this day, Tuesday, 8th March, 1988, Mirri’s life as she knew it turned upside down.

It had started the same way as usual. Auntie May would ring the brass bell at just before 6.00 a.m. and they would all hop out of bed immediately, put on their tracksuits and head for the main living room. All the children knew that they must not talk at all while they went through their Yoga stretches and postures for 30 minutes. They then sat cross-legged on the hard floor with the straightest backs, closed their eyes, and rested their hands on their knees softly. This was said to be the most important thing that they did each day. They had been taught to begin this special meditation time by silently repeating their own individual Mantra that had been given them by Mama. After seven repetitions they would sit in absolute silence watching the golden light of their breathing moving up and down the centre of their back from the floor to the sky above, until Auntie May rang the brass bell again.

Then it was breakfast time … still in silence. Auntie Thelma, who was well and truly in charge of the kitchen, would have the large bowls of muesli and cereal out in the centre of the sparse table. They would take their own bowls and a spoon and line up quietly to receive just one helping of the cereal and a cup of milk. Two of the children had soy milk for some reason. There was also a basket of oranges; one each. They knew it was a very bad thing in the eyes of God to overeat, and Mirri had visions of the many times she had seen the angry look in Mama’s eyes when she spoke of the dreadful sin of gluttony. They would all be given their own special homeopathic drops and vitamins from Auntie May. Bertie had quite a few tablets to try to manage his seizures which still seemed to occur every few weeks. Mama said that Bertie was very, very special, blessed by God. Every time he had a seizure, she said he saw the angels.

After breakfast the girls and boys separated back into their rooms where beds had to be made meticulously with the sheets and blankets turned and tucked perfectly at each corner. They were allowed to talk to one another and their conversation had to be joyful. There was no place for whingeing or sour faces, ever.

After they had washed and cleaned their teeth, the girls brushed each other’s hair, which was very long. Mama expected them to brush the hair 50 times every morning and every night before bed. They would sit in a circle on the floor and, as they drew the brushes through the long black tresses of the sister in front of them they would all practice their singing exercises, Sandra taking the lead.

Their tracksuits were folded neatly in their own drawer, and dirty clothes were placed in the laundry basket. The older children were on a roster to launder and iron the clothes after they had finished their schoolwork for the day. There was also a roster for dusting the bookshelves, and making sure that everything was in its right place. Bathroom duty was shared too, and they all knew the importance of cleanliness and hygiene. No caps were left off toothpaste tubes. No smears were left on the small mirror. And the toilet was the responsibility of the last person who used it.

As they lived in the country and relied on tank water, there was a need to be very careful not to waste water, so bath night was usually on Wednesday night. Only the aunties were permitted to take a very short shower every third day. 

In the second living room there were a number of tables and desks set up with wooden chairs. A large blackboard was at one end, and a number of pin boards on the side walls. The bookshelves were filled with books chosen by Mama and Uncle Clive. This was where the children were taught, or as Mirri would find out later, home-tutored. Mirri had just finished writing the day and the date on the top of her page when she heard the sound of cars and people’s voices outside. Auntie Katherine looked very concerned. Whispering she said, “Sandra! Daniel! Take charge. We will need to put our protection plan into operation. Come children, quietly now, follow Daniel. Everything will be all right if you keep really quiet.” They heard the other two aunties racing around outside the room.

The emergency plan was about to be put into action. Every few weeks the aunties had gone through it carefully so everyone knew what to do. Jacob and Daniel lifted the loose boards in the corner of the school living room, and as quietly as the children could manage they all crawled down through the small space under the foundations of the house. Sandra took care of little Tessa, and Jacob had little Jeremy. It was quite cold and dark, but there was a little light coming through the slats of timber on the sides.

The children nestled close to each other. It was very difficult not to touch each other though, and they knew that on a normal day, holding or touching each other would mean being punished severely. Mirri remembered when Auntie Katherine caught her cuddled up in Sandra’s bed one night when she felt so cold she couldn’t sleep. The following morning Mirri was locked in the dark cupboard beneath the stairs, and didn’t get anything to eat until dinner.

The next time that Mama and Uncle Johnnie came to stay, Auntie May told them, and Mama made her stand in front of all the brothers and sisters.

“Have you learned a very important lesson, Mirri?” Mama asked.

Mirri spoke very clearly because that was what was expected of her. “Yes, Mama. I am very sorry, and it won’t happen again.”

Later, Sandra was taken to the sleep-out room off the back verandah, and the door was locked behind them. Mirri was confused when she saw her older sister that evening. Sandra’s eyes were quite strange, and she seemed as if she was very, very sleepy. 

There was so much noise now. Voices were rising and even yelling. Men’s voices. Women’s voices. Strange voices. All mixing with the voices of the aunties who kept saying, “You’re trespassing. We will call the police.” Then there were lots of feet scurrying everywhere. Mirri imagined them going up and down the stairs, moving through the kitchen, the living room, the bedrooms, and then they were closer moving around the schoolroom. Then she heard pounding on the floorboards above them, and after what seemed a long time the loose floorboards, where they had made their way into the dark dirty place that was said to protect them, rattled and loosened. A man’s voice said quite loudly, “I’ve found them. They’re under the floorboards; they’re all squashed under the house.”

The children huddled ever closer too scared to move. These were evil people. They felt that they were in so much danger. Tessa was screaming and little Jeremy was sobbing softly. Mirri felt herself shaking, and she guessed all of her brothers and sisters were feeling as scared as she was.

They could see the dark silhouette of a man reaching down towards them, and he spoke slowly and clearly, “Children. You can come up now. Everything is going to be all right. We are here to help you.”

A woman’s voice followed. “Joe, let me talk with them. I don’t want them to be scared of us.”

He moved away, and then it was a lady there. The light touched one side of her face. She had red curls and a freckly face. Her voice was soft and calm.

“Hi there, kids. I’m Mary – Mary Dodd. We are all here because we have been worried about you for a very long time. We will never hurt any of you, I promise. And the very first thing we are going to do is to treat you all to a really lovely lunch. We are looking after your aunties. They are all fine. Now we need to look after you.” There was a pause and then, “Perhaps one of you older children could come out first, so that the little ones know that everything is okay!”

Sandra passed little Tessa over to Stella, and she worked her way through the dirt, dust and cobwebs, and climbed out of the hole in the floor. A short time passed and Mirri could hear voices again. Then Sandra returned and called out to them to come out.  She said, “This is going to be one of the most wonderful adventures of our lives. Don’t be scared, because we all have each other.”

Mirri saw the three aunties in the back seat of a large car with a red light and a blue light on the top. It had the word ‘POLICE’ printed on one side. They were about to drive out of the property. 

There were three strangers standing in the living room, introducing themselves to the children. There was a man in a navy uniform, called Serjeant Joe Carter, the pretty red-haired lady called Mary Dodd, and a man with a nice round face and not much hair. He was called Ted. Another lady was there too. She had golden brown hair just ‘bobbing’ on her shoulders and was wearing jeans and a sweater. She wore glasses which seemed to prop on the end of her nose. She shook hands with each of the children, and knelt down to the little ones. She had lovely blue eyes that sparkled, and her voice tinkled as she spoke to each of them in turn. She asked Mirri her name, and seemed to sparkle even more when she said, “Hi there, sweetie! I’m Phoebe, and I am SO happy to meet YOU!” There were two large vehicles, like small buses parked outside, and another big blue car. The children were told that a lot of people felt that they hadn’t been cared for properly so that was the reason why they would need to be taken away.

Mary said, “We will be keeping you all together so you mustn’t worry. If you have something special that you would like to bring with you, like a special toy or book or photograph, whiz upstairs and get it now, and then we will all go into town and get something nice to eat.”

Mirri felt that they all must have so many questions going around in their minds. Should they try to run away or hide somewhere? Sandra and Jacob said that they must go with the strangers. God would never desert them. Mama would never desert them. Everything would be all right. The children climbed into the cars and were shown how to do up their seat belts. 

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