aqcom Imported From Epistula Personal stories

Clown will eat me

It’s very dark.

A door opens a little bit, spilling a glass of light down the stairs to pool on the floor, activating a defence system that is as ancient as it is broken.

“This is a test” it announces, in the type of voice Big Brother (the oppressive state, not the depressive TV Show) would use to ask you to relax and enjoy your shoes, “of the emergency broadcast system. Were this a real post, an annoying buzzer would have sounded”.

An annoying buzzer sounds.

A faint blue light illuminates the darkness, and you see you are in a room of junk. The room is obviously divided into several sections – unhelpfully labeled “Words, Pictures, Projects & Worlds”, but within that there is no order at all. The Project section appears to be just a steel shelf with some boxes on it, the Pictures section has been entirely walled-up and replaced with a door labeled “flickr”, and the Worlds section is slowly working on its fifth inch of dust, like a Blood Elf on level 65.

From two areas of the heavily over-populated Journal section – which isn’t apparently labelled – two plastic figures arise and begin a Socratic dialogue.

“So, we are being complained at once again, because we never update the site.”

“This is true. But what would we update it with? Currently our life is composed of sleeping, waking, working and attempting to relax by playing computer games.”

“You could talk about Work.”

“Fine thing for you to say. You’re not the one who’ll be a) Fired, b) assassinated and c) Fired again. You know what happened last time we talked about work here.”

“They’d probably be fine with some of it. Besides, it’s got to be better than nothing.”

“Bet? A whole entry of ‘Today I had to fix the [REDACTED] model, because the [REDACTED] part of the [REDACTED] layer was reacting badly when [REDACTED] fed [REDACTED] the [CENSORED] [REDACTED] [REDACTED] 64 bit [REDACTED], And I had to [REDACTED] the [CENSORED]ing [CENSORED] [REDACTED] that [REDACTED] couldn’t [CENSORED]ing do’. Not only would I confuse everyone, I’d bore them to death”

“What about the LARP thing?”

“Which LARP thing? The LARP thing where I stormed off in a huff for the short-, probably medium- and possibly long-term basis because what they want out of the system is incompatible with what I want? Or the system where my character [FOIP]’d the [FOIP] and then was convinced to [FOIP] the [FOIP] and so did so in limerick form?”

“What does [FOIP] mean?”

“Find Out In Play. It means I can’t tell you, because your character doesn’t know, and it is far easier to keep a secret In Game if you don’t know about it out of game either.”

“Ah. But what if I don’t play Maelstrom?”

“Sucks to be you, really”.

“But anyway, there must be some parts of your life worth blogging about.”

“Not really. My life is incredibly boring right now. Apart from the gas board thing. And even that’s a two line story”

“Go on, tell it then”

“I did. But I did somewhere else. Then it got Metaquoted, and I discovered other people – possibly ones who don’t feel that we should have stopped with the damn lolcats by now – found it far funnier than I did. Proving that I have absolutely no idea what people will actually like when I write stuff.”

“So write more, and you’ll find out.”

“An interesting theory, but one that is fundamentally broken for one good reason.”

“Which is?”

“The clowns will eat me”


“I want to do something special. I want to write something that makes people… laugh, cry, whatever. And I went though a stage of doing a lot of pretty good stuff, all of which I can’t stand now. And then I stopped, because I got to the point where I could write something that would rock your entire world – well, probably not, but you’d really quite like – but would never get any feedback because it’s simply… what I do. The downsides of success are that when you fall, you fall hard; and when you’re maintaining height, people can’t see you’re flying. Plus, I find it hard enough to believe people like reading what I write, the idea that I get the reaction “It’s not as good as your last one” is just terrifying. So I do nothing. It’s easier.”

“You cannot claim you were writing good stuff on one hand and then claim you’re crap at all of this on the other. Be consistent.”

“Yeah. Consistency, I’m crap at that too. This is the ego boost of the metaquotedness fighting with my natural self-depreciation. I am large, I contain multitudes”

“So your life is dull, so no Journal. Your tech is mostly work, about which you may be able to talk one day but not now. You’re not adding anything to Worlds because you don’t think it will be good enough, despite there being nothing there now. And Pictures?”

“No batteries in the camera”

“You’re hopeless.”

The figures fade back into the area they came from, the blue light dies, and the pool of light dries up as the door closes.

Soon everything’s quiet, calm, peaceful and still again.

It’s very dark.

Imported From Epistula stories

I stepped forwards…

…and the ground felt strange beneath my feet. Less solid, somehow, less there. There was the sound of thirty children being very, very quiet, and I found that disconcerting so I opened my eyes.

I wasn’t standing on anything.

That is, I’d walked off the edge of the box, as I’d intended to, but instead of landing on the crash mats, I was there, three feet in the air in my white gym socks, shorts, T-Shirt. My teacher fainted and I distinctly remember the sickening crack as her skull hit the floor.

She fell, we said. Nobody ever mentioned it again.

I can fly.

I’m not any kind of super hero, or at least not in the four-colour underpants-over-your-costume sense. I don’t have super strength, it’s just that anything I’m flying with is weightless, is flying with me. If it touches the ground, it’s heavy again, a fact that’s almost killed me several times.

How? I just… push in the right direction and I go there. I don’t know how high, really. You’ve read the story of Icarus? I think of it every day. One day if I go too high, will I pass out? What happens if I pass out when flying? do I fall? do I hover there, in the way of passing jet aircraft?

People know. My brother knows, as do my parents. They don’t understand, but they know.


…and now you know too. I’ve been wanting to tell you since we met, and more so since the engagement, but I promised not to tell anyone else. I don’t know what I’d do if you left me and told everyone; but then, I don’t know what I’d do if you left me anyway.

Thats it, really. That’s why I wanted to come all the way out here, just to tell you that. I’m sorry, I’m so sorry I couldn’t tell you before.

That’s it. Monologue over. Now.

Will you fly with me?

Imported From Epistula stories

Rabbit Hole II

The morning was crisp and cold when I woke up this morning, I should remember to turn down the fridge as it means I have to leave it to thaw whilst I have the epiphany. Ephiphany was good this morning too, I wish Esel would tell me where the new supply comes from, I’m sure the delta will hit soon and I’ll have to find my own :-Z

Morning descoured and wrapped around my shoulders (Stole mornings may be out of fashion, but I’ve never been known to kick the echidna) I set off to catch the elephant downtown before the rush. Annoyingly, I was running later than I thought, and had to wade though thousands of them rustling around my transter just to get to the phonebox and from there get my ticket into town. I’ve never seen town so busy on a January before, even with the sails on it was clipping away at barely sixteen reefs. There wasn’t really any way we could bring in the reasons in time, so we just had to accept another diamond onto the plate. Twenty five this fate? I’m pretty sure we’re going to get resaled if this goes on much longer, and town will have to up ships and sale off somewhere slower, like March.

With the fire break came the yellow, and we hurried under the grand arifice of the depot bridge, watching the elephants shuffle back into their phoneboxes and the fiddly little umbrellas of the rainproof-violins before it cleared out and we could get back in to knotting the sales down and keeping the bats from flying loose off the town centres, all too late for one poor shop which, embattled with a massive understock simply couldn’t cope, and flew off the edge. Fortunately we managed to get it tethered before it did any real damage, but I think the time has come to go shrinking for a new wicker basket to call office.

Imported From Epistula stories

The Tea Problem

This morning, a wormhole opened up in my tea cupboard.

When I say “This Morning”, I don’t actually mean “This Morning”,
obviously, it’s just that when I use the phrase “A wormhole willon haven
be opening up in my tea cupboard yestormorrow morning” people look at me
strangely, so I’m being forced to restrict my use of future pronouns
until such time as time resolves, or dissolves, or possibly revolves.

You see, I have recently moved into my new flat. It is a nice new flat,
with heating and lighting and also gravity, and it has fridges and
microwaves and shelving and books and jam and televisions and
alarm-clocks and beds and computers and cables and cds and beer and wine
and screws and allan keys and jumpers and candles and mannequins and
bags and coffee and hats and blankets and pillows and laptops and jam
(yes, more jam) and Christmas hats and headphones and boots and phones
and laundry bins. However, I have moved into this new one room flat from
a two bedroom terraced house, which also had a garage, and so have had
to resort to… unusual methods to place all the items that were once in
my house into my new flat. Partly, this was achieved by the use of Ikea
and gratuitous use of boxes, but this fell apart when faced with the
small issue of my tea collection.

I collect tea.

I also drink tea, by copious amounts, but I always seem to be buying
more tea at a rate faster than I can actually drink this tea. This is a
constant, so if I start buying less tea (as has happened since I moved
to Bedford, a place with – and say it quietly lest anyone hear you – no
real tea shops) I will find myself drinking less tea. Previously, this
was solved by devoting a shelf of a cupboard to tea, and then ruthlessly
throwing away tea I wasn’t drinking, but the new flat has little space
to devote to such frivolities, and so I was forced to get a portable
dimensional expander, which I sourced from eBay, knowing full well that
it was unlikely to be properly certified. the PDX arrived a couple of
days later (After being held by the post office, since they tried to
deliver it while I was at work). You may not have seen these devices, I
suppose, since they haven’t yet shipped officially from their native
Japan. basically, they take a limited space, and then by some means (and
here I’m somewhat at the mercy of my own poor translation of the
Japanese manual) reach into another theoretical dimension where the
container was built to a larger scale, and provide you with access to
that extra space. The further up you scale the space, the more unstable
it becomes. It’s revolutionising the cargo shipping industry, as you can
well imagine, although commercial use has yet to really catch on, as the
instability is difficult to insure against (If it fails, the entire
contents is probably lost in the one case, and replaced with something
entirely random in other cases, probably as a result of a “Switch” with
whatever the cupboard was being used for in this alternate dimension.
Theories, obviously, abound). Anyway, I installed it into a reasonably
useless shelf (The kitchen builder had apparently wanted a shelf four
inches high by twelve deep) and managed to stack my tea inside the now
archive-boxed sized opening. (Obviously, the front of the shelf was
still only four inches high, but it now was right before a large drop
that appeared to go right though the solid bottom shelf and end
halfway down the bread maker under the unit. A most weird sensation,
to be putting your hand though a shelf that patently isn’t there). And
so we went on for a couple of weeks.

This evening just after I’d got back from being home for the holidays, I
was packing away things when I discovered a box of boxes of tea that I’d
somehow missed last week, but as I was adding the last couple to the
extended shelf, something went wrong with the unit, and the shelf
collapsed. My arm, still trapped inside, stopped the unit from
collapsing cleanly, and a wormhole opened up in my kitchen cupboard.
After a great deal of effort I managed to pull my arm free of the hole,
only to discover that I’d gone back to some time mid last week. I
immediatly did what any self respecting geek would do after such a
traumatic experience: I went and talked about it on IRC for a while. It
was somewhat to my surprise that my doorbell rang a couple of hours
later with some representatives in black suits from… well, I don’t
suppose I’m actually allowed to say who they were from, but their
existence is interesting to say the least.

Anyway, after the kerfuffle of closing up the wormhole and documenting
it all, and Christmas and such it’s been a pretty hectic couple of weeks
around here, so I’m sorry to say that I didn’t realise that in this
revision of reality I hadn’t posted you all your christmas cards yet.
I’ll get round to it at some point soon, but sorry about that.

Yours Faithfully,


(Ten percent of this story is ninty-five percent true, fourteen percent
is sixty-five percent true, thirty-five percent is only five percent
true, and all the rest isn’t)

Imported From Epistula stories


It came in the morning, in the post like everything else, along with the bills and the statements and a magazine about something I don’t understand that I apparently asked for at a convention I didn’t go to.

I missed it, to start with, as it was under the CD I had been waiting for for months, but there it was, in a handwritten golden envelope with my name and address clearly marked.

“You are invited to celebrate our wedding, on September 9th in Camelot.”

It was signed “Art and Jenny” as they aways did, and there were instructions to get to the coach, and I wondered how I was going to get back from then.

As he went sliding down the corridor – and who had waxed the corridor that morning? – I heard him say a word, and I knew it was the key to the final door, and behind that I would find the numbers. Now, though, I was watching him flail ineffectivly as the corridor tipped him towards the stairs. I turned before he fell though the crack, and wondered if the house would kill me too.

I pushed, and the wall slid back at my touch. The walls either side extended smoothly, unpapered and unpainted, revealing windows that looked out over gardens that weren’t in Cambridge. I pushed at the walls between those windows and again the room extended outwards, the crisp summers day outside those windows pulling away as my touch extended the rooms width another dozen feet. It was only seconds it had taken to turn this closet into a room bigger than my entire old flat, and I wondered old the magic that created this house could be, and how much of it I could learn. The room, though, was too big, and I was going to have to find Cath to see how you pulled it back in again. In the meantime, though, I went to get another door from the garage. I wanted to explore that garden.

Current Affairs Imported From Epistula stories Those who evolve useability web development

Years, Drugs, Webs

So, Three hundred and sixty five days.

Fifty two weeks, at thirty five pounds on bus tickets a week, four and a half hours every working day is… No, I’d better not think about it.

Today is my first anniversary working for EM, and therefore ranks as my longest continuous employment since I had a paper-round. Yay the new economy.

There is a new design for Aquarionics on its way, BTW. Maybe even new content, or something. The design is stuck in limbo since I redesigned it in PSP and then my trial ran out, so I’m waiting until I can justify buying the full product. Or I could use that as an excuse to leap to Photoshop etc.

I bought the new Barenaked Ladies album – Everything to Everyone – last week (Via iTunes. Yes, DRM isn’t ideal, but until we can convince the record industry that there are more honest people in the world than people who will get something for free if they can. While we’re at it, can we convince me too?). It contains a couple of ‘future classic’ type tracks I can see myself listening to for a long time, and there is a track whose first lines are “You’ve never seen as many monkeys in the Daily Mail”, Which even out of context (It’s a song about postcards of chimpanzees) makes me laugh. I’m a sad person.

We have, once again, returned to the classic, battered battlegrounds of the War On Drugz. Every so often the needle of popular culture appears to drift from “liberal” to “conservative”, and the further into time we get the faster the metronome appears to be ticking. Anyway, some of the Popular Press (Who, in a rare display of Actual Humour, refer to broadsheets as the Unpopular Press) have decided that some of the white powder coating the fashion industry must be blown away (possibly in the hope that they can sniff it as it goes past.) and… and… in the great traditions of journalists everywhere, when someone says it better than I do I’m going to use their words instead. From The Friday Thing 2005-09-23 (Which if you don’t read, you should, it’s well worth every penny):

The point being – God, what *is* the point? The point being that
millions of people take recreational drugs in this country and
it’s madness to think of them as criminals. OK, so Moss happens
to work in a particularly stupid-money tiny-talent industry in
which coke-taking is practically compulsory, but frankly, even if
she’d been less lucky in life and had never made it further than
the customer service counter at TKMaxx in Croydon, she’d probably
still burn holes in her pretty little nose of a weekend. Only it
would cost her an awful lot more and would be cut full of chalk
and paracetamol. The point being, for the love of Belushi, in the
name of all that is holy and legally-permissable – it is a little
bit of coke. An inconsequential smudge of bullshit-dust. It is
not important.

Waging a deeply cynical tabloid war on celebrities who take drugs
is a waste of time, and investigating and prosecuting anyone who
take drugs is a waste of time and money. Furthermore, the fact
that Ian Blair took time out from devising futuristic Supercops
to get personally involved in publicly chastising druggy Moss is
madness, particularly as it means that now, if he’s not going to
appear like a hypocritical superloon, he’ll have to make it his
personal business to investigate Doherty, Deayton, Williams,
Walliams, every other catwalk model alive, 90% of all TV
presenters and pop stars, Russell Grant, Prince Harry… the list
is endless. He’s certainly going to have his work cut out for
him. He’ll probably have to bring in the TA to help out.

It’s very simple. Prohibition doesn’t work. The pros and cons of
various drugs don’t and shouldn’t come into it. The fact is,
people take drugs. They always have and they always will. The
least we can do as a society is educate people as to the risks
and ensure that if they do take them, at least they’re getting
stuff of a certain purity, and in relative safety.

Something like that anyway. The next weeks episode (Which would have been the first of October, I appear to have deleted the email and since I’m composing this from (looks out the window) somewhere between Henlow and Shefford (while bopping along quietly to Barenaked Ladies still) I don’t have a connection to teh interwebs) [Next week’s episode of TFT] had a rant on the subject of the government’s stated desire to have an “adult debate” on the subject of drugs whilst simultaneously refusing to budge from… well…

“Lets have a Proper Discussion on drugs. Okay?”
“Sure. I don’t agree with everything you say, not all drugs are the spawn of saran, you know.”
“How dare you publicise drug use like that! I can have you arrested, you know.”
“What? I thought you wanted a discussion on drugs?”
“We do”
“But if we even mention something that isn’t inline with your views, you say you will arrest us”
“Well yes, it is illegal, after all.”
“But not all drugs are utterly evil!”
“Yes they are”
“No they’re not!”
“Yes they are.”
“This isn’t even a proper discussion! A discussion is a series of statements made to establish a consensus or logical conclusion, this is just contradiction!”
“No it isn’t”
“Yes it is!”
“No it isn’t”
“Yes it IS!”


(Yes, I should have resisted the Python humour harder, Sosume.)

What else? Oh, yes. Web 2.0. Argh. Words cannot express how much I find this entire 2.0 thing incredibly annoying. The web is a series of evolving technologies, and the integrated web-app Gmail type thing that characterises Web 2.0 hype is just one new use of a reasonably new technology. It’s not that AJAX and DOM Scripting aren’t cool things, it’s just they are not immediately better than what we have. The ability to “access your information from anywhere” has the downside of not applying when you don’t have a net connection. In a world where “going to work” consists of going from network connection to another this may seem less important, but the world isn’t that globally connected yet, as can be gathered from my Henlow/Shefford statement above (As an update, I’ve now reached Shefford). From here I can’t access GMail, flickr, Mint or whatever. I could, I suppose, connect by connecting to my mobile via bluetooth, and then over 3G to the internet, but when I’m paying per kilobyte for my connection I’d quite frankly prefer optimised and compressed text-based communication. XML surrounds data with metadata, which makes it a good general transport protocol, but not a wonderfully bandwidth-conservative one. While in this bandwidth limited state, I get to view the world from the 1997 perspective of all styles and all images turned off, no sparkly effects or anything. I’d use Lynx if it didn’t feel silly doing so on a Powerbook.

This entry, btw, is part of a new initiative to get me to update more often. It consists of writing Journal on the way from Hitchin to Bedford and Frontier (Of which you know nothing) on the way back.

Explanations as to Frontier will be forthcoming soonish.

Imported From Epistula stories


The rest of the world thinks me insane, I suppose. I’m not totally sure I’d disagree. It’s a game I’ve played with myself ever since I was small, a game everyone plays at some point or another. It’s the one where you walk down the pavement without stepping on the cracks of the flagstones. Not because they’d be bad luck, nor because your getting scored for your accuracy, but just because it’s not what you’re doing right now.

I’m thinking too hard about it, really. 26 year old women in business suits aren’t supposed to play this game, and while the kids walking home from primary school can see what I’m doing, I can see from the corners of my eyes that their parents are going to some lengths to keep their distance. In my minds eye, I can see the path I’ve taken though the town. Every flagstone I’ve stepped on glowing white like a cheap week-day afternoon gameshow, and I see it as evidence of a path randomly travelled. Every chosen step a decision in my life that has taken me from the innocent crack-dodging five year old: Here the step that took me to doing maths at A-Level, over there the agonised decision that meant I dropped out of university, back by the lights – and just as important – the one that took me to the nightclub on that night four years ago where I met the man I fell in love with. Still love, I think.

The turn of the corner brings new flagstones. Smaller, and I have to adjust my stride to fit. I’m skipping a row at a time now, and the path is no longer a solid line but dotted. More decisions, moving in with my boyfriend, eventually renting a bigger flat, a year of domestic bliss, of me and him and us.

And now I’m at the shopping centre. Pedestrian precinct. The flagstones too big to step over, the decisions too big to make alone. and there it is, the made decision. I will tell him Yes. I will marry him. After all, six years is a long time to be together. We will be together forever.

And I’ll never think of James again.

2002 AFP Imported From Epistula stories

Aquarion and the Snail Invasion

(This happened sometime in 2002, while I was still in Cambridge. I wrote this for AFP, but decided to cross-post it here)

It was a dark and stormy spring day in the calm and peaceful city of Cambridge.

There was a knock at the door.

A word about my method of dress. Generally, I don’t wear socks or shoes while I’m at home. Ever. It just doesn’t occur to me to put them on unless I’m going somewhere, a fact of minor irritation to various house-mates/parents/girlfriends over the years as bare feet are better at tracking things around the house than socks are. One year, for example, my mum put a small shovel-load of smiley-faces glittery things in my birthday card, which obediently fluttered prettily to the floor. Despite hoovering many times thereafter, there was still a small drift of them under my desk when we moved out some four months later. Bare feet make things drift.

Anyway, I digress.

Actually, I digressed away from the initial digression, so I should finish that digression – which was relevant – before I go back to the main thrust of the story. Bare feet then.

There is very few things less pleasant, I have discovered, than stepping on a snail whilst not wearing either shoes nor socks. There is a deeply unpleasant “crunch”, followed by an even less unpleasant squishy sensation, which makes you take a step backwards, leading to another deeply unpleasant crunch. I was in the back garden, either putting up or taking down washing, in our snail-infested garden, on an afternoon after heavy rainfall, when there was a knock at the door.

I carefully “crunch squish ick”-ed my way to the front door (Wiping my feet with relief) and attempted to open it.

I failed.

Snails, you see, can move like lightning when the little buggers feel like it, and several of them (I discovered a minute or two later, after a show of manly force) had managed to crawl inside the door frame in the time it had taken whoever left most recently to open and close it.

I don’t actually know if anyone has ever used snails as a raw ingredient for making glue. I can say, without a doubt, that it would have been incredibly effective, as the three or four snails that had completed their suicide mission to seal the primary means of escape from our house had succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.

Then, with the above thought process, it hit me. It was a kamikaze mission! They had sealed the door deliberately, and the ones crawling slowly up the back garden path were merely a scouting patrol for the huge army of snails that were coming for revenge for their squished brethren!

I got the front door open. The two Asian ladies beyond explained they were looking for people who would like to read the Watchtower. I, in turn, explained that the snails were invading and I had to go and stop them. I closed the door.

The Witnesses have never bothered me since.

Imported From Epistula stories

Blofeld school of driving

“Mr Bond?”
“James Bond, yes.”
“Good. I believe you have been sent here to retake your driving test.”
“Yes. As a result of a mass-conspiracy against me by forces within the government, my licence to drive was revoked”
“Less of a mass-conspiracy, I’m told. I believe you were photographed doing one hundred and eighty miles per hour?”
“I was in pursuit of terrorists.”
“So your report read. Said terrorists were apparently disguised as… an Ice Cream van. In any event, you were photographed doing six times the speed limit. Past a school”
“A school for terrori
“In a tank, Mr Bond.”
“A reasonable person might ask how you found a tank that was capable of doing that kind of speed. They may even ask how you managed to do so without destroying most of the cars also on the road. They may even ask how you failed to capture the ice-cream van at the end of it. However, being both aware of your extreme aptitude towards Macgyveresque inventiveness and having read the damages list placed against you, I will refrain.”
“A reasonable person might ask how come you are a driving instructor, instead of a criminal mastermind?”
“One precludes the other? But yes, Mr Bond. I was hired for four reasons. First, I already know you exist, and therefore am not any more of a security risk to MI5. Second, the pay is slightly better. You should see the risk bonus I get just for sitting in a car with you. Third, the cat’s life I save may be that of my own.”
“And fourth?”
“Revenge, Mr Bond. Humiliation and revenge. Now move off, taking note of all applicable signs and instruction…”

“Now. What do you think you did wrong there?”
“I think I forgot to indicate in advance of the last junction”
“Correct. Also?”
“I didn’t check my mirrors?”
“True. I was thinking more of the way you took an uninstructed sharp left – where no sharp left was on either the map or the road, I should point out – and careered down the mountainside narrowly missing trees (Which did detach the wing-mirrors, making your lack of check slightly more understandable) before joining the road below with a handbrake turn and immediately performing an uninstructed emergency stop on recognising that scant feet in front of us was an unmoving lorry”.
“You would have preferred I didn’t do the emergency stop?”
“I would have preferred we did not leave the initial road. I expect you have a good explanation?”
“There was a terrorist behind me.”
For the last time, Mr Bond. Nuns on bicycles are not terrorists!
“She was carrying a gun!”
“That was a bread stick. Now put what is left of the car in to neutral, restart the engine and return us back to the starting point, taking note of all possible hazards – with the exception of nuns – and reacting accordingly.”
“You expect me to talk?”
“No, Mr Bond. I expect you to drive.”

Fiction Imported From Epistula stories


“You know the drill, Name, Number, Tone” Beep

It wasn’t a dark, or stormy night.

This was depressing.

“Hi, Chris? It’s Jane”

It was early evening, and the sky was bathed in a golden pink that would cause grown poets to cry. The grass was green, the red-bricked houses either side of him poked out from behind carefully pruned hedge-rows. The last time he had walked down this road he was going to school.

“Listen, please. I know the last few weeks have been tough going”

Far beyond drive-time now, the main road was empty. He had left suburbia behind and was heading into the mild little country lanes beyond. The birds were singing, and the only sound was the light crunch of trainers upon the gravel to the side of the road.

“Losing that job was a blow, I’m sure. But there is something we need to talk about that is more important”

It should have been a dark and stormy night. It deserved lightening, and thunder, and great symphonic crashes and waves. Or, at least, the kind of windy, dark night that makes you glad you’re inside and not out. It deserved depressing weather.


But there wasn’t. There was just the red tinged sky of the early evening (Shepherds delight), and the bright songs of the birds in the trees and the hedge-rows.

“There isn’t really any way I can say this to you, not without hurting us both, and not to your face”

When was the last time anyone had gone down this road? A bridle-path spun off to the right and he took it without thinking. It was overgrown and the path lay somewhere beneath the layers of nettles and thorns, but it was away from there. It. Everything.

“I’ve met someone else”

Somebody else had been here. A rusty can sat in the path, seemingly spat out of the undergrowth as an illegal alien. An undesirable. Surplus to nature’s requirements. He kicked it, and the can went sailing over the remains of the barbed wire fence, landing within the field of corn.

“I feel so stupid talking to an answer phone, but I don’t know where you are, and your mobile is off. You’d like him, you really would. He’s called Dave, he’s got a job at a securities place up in London”

There really wasn’t any point. Not without her. So they hadn’t known each other long, it was sudden. Quick. And it was most certainly too soon to lose her. He remembered the party they had met at, She had already got a boyfriend, but they became friends, and soon it… Blossomed.

“I feel really bad doing this to you, But I just don’t love you enough any more”

There was no way he could have her now. He had her. *They* would get married, and they would have children, and in fifteen years time they would meet again and say “What would life be like if…”.


He found a stream in the woods at the end of the path, and sat by it. Miles from anyone.

“I’ll put the engagement ring in the post. I think it’s better if we never see each other again”

From his jacket pocket, he withdrew a dull metal object, Raised the gun to his temple.

The explosion lifted clouds of birds from the trees.

And, as the explosion rings out across the countryside, and even while the body slumps into the stream, there is a click as the caller hangs up.

And Dave’s body begins to decompose.