An Ending

Posted: September 5, 2011 in Uncategorized

It’s half one in the morning of the fifth of September, two-thousand and eleven. I’m drying my hair and trying to make the bastard curl properly, like the rest of the population’s does when one ties it up and blasts it with hot air for hours on end. Unfortunately, like every other cell in my body, it’s selfishly stubborn and will not be bribed into doing anything that it doesn’t want.

Over the last few months I have come to realise that the world has enough writers. They’ll all connected into a nice little package. They know the right people. They read. They fuck drama students and go to plays. They probably eat brie and crackers on a semi-regular basis and their love for tea is probably much, much greater than mine. They know all the right stuff to write. They know all the words, all the characters and all the right things to say. They’ll have gripping storylines and one-off comedies. They’ll make you laugh and cry at their command.

I am, however, not one of these. I’m playing at something I shouldn’t be playing at. I write cheap stories that I want to be true. I write bad characters and worse plots. I can’t hack finishing things because I can’t hack life at the best of the times. My work is boring, lifeless, unoriginal bullshit that quite honestly should have stayed in my head. I feel embarressed when it’s published. I feel it’s attention seeking. I’d far rather hide it away along with the rest of myself than ever, ever let it find the light of day again. So, therefore, it has come to an end.

If I’m to actually make my fantastically dull, boring, pathetic life last until my thirtieth birthday, I am going to have to shut down this particularly avenue of myself. I should also sell my keyboard, my camera, my guitars. None of which are really mine to give away. But I can’t. They were gifts. I struggle every day with the fact that I am probably a selfish, twisted, arrogant bitch. I’d rather not add ungrateful. But I won’t be picking up those instruments again. Instead I will just work, and earn money. And give it away. Something. I won’t marry, I won’t find love. I don’t do that sort of thing. I’ll have friends and I’ll be there for them. But I won’t let anyone ever be there for me again. I don’t like that dependence. And I won’t ever let anyone get fucking close to me again. But don’t call me miserable or depressing. Don’t call me a weirdo or childish. In fact, do whatever you like. I don’t fucking care and I probably never will.

Advertisements

Keep It Hid – Chapter One

Posted: April 30, 2011 in Uncategorized

And yes I nicked the name of my main character from two people I know.

The flames licked the sky, taunting the darkness into submission. But for all their fury,
the flames were failing; for another darkness was creeping in, malignantly and without
perception. Amongst the thick cloud of smoke, sprinkled with the stench of death and
burning flesh, and down passed the rows of ambulances at the ready; far away from the
cowering crowds that had gathered to stand and stare; and just under the large bridge that
shaped the city centre of Edinburgh, stood a single, solitary man lost in his thoughts.

Standing in the shadow of North Bridge, rain drops dripping on his forehead from
above, was Eric Monteith. His hair swept across his face as the wind buffeted the heat and
the smoke. But his eyes, though they reflected the explosive torrent of colour and fear
before him, were witnessing something quite different to reality. Eric was fixed on
something straight ahead, something far off into the distance that he often – though not
always – forgot it was even there. His body watched, as his mind dawdled to catch up to
reality, bodies being dragged out, those conscious clutching their wounds; he saw groups
of men strip themselves of fear and dive in to the horror, mess and danger of death; he
saw how some did not return whilst others did; he saw all this, rooted to his lonely spot,
consumed by cowardice and writhing in regret.

The world had seemed to stop in that moment. The limp body of Eric hung in the street;
a lost passenger of life. So lost in his thoughts was this middle aged man of twenty-four,
was that he did not waiver when a voice cried out his name from behind him. He was still
not stirred when its owner ran towards him, tear stricken and brushed with panic and fear.
Only was it until he felt her hand slip into his own, was he rocketed back from limbo, and
into the harsh, bare, barren reality his mind had been running from.

“Eric! Eric!” Eliza was crying. Her make up was like watercolour. “Eric! Where is he? Eric!”
She was panicking. He felt the same thick clot in the back of his throat that he was sure

she, too, was feeling. His mouth fell open, unable to speak. His answer was too much for
even himself to bear.
Eliza withdrew her hand and stepped back, breath stolen from her body. Eric stared
at her, completely alone from her pain. He tried to muster some words; some form of
comfort. But he failed. He merely watched, an audience to her agony. She was losing a
brother and he felt sick to his stomach that he could only watch and not let on that he
knew all too much.
“No… no, no, no… I don’t,” she began mumbling, muttering to herself, “No I don’t – I can’t
believe it – no Alex is not here, no Alex is not… no. Just no….”
She straightened herself up, brushing down her tight black dress as she did so and
took off down the street, towards the mayhem, towards the carnage.

“Eliza! Eliza! Come back!” His tongue was relinquished from its silence. He found himself
being drawn towards her ever diminishing body – he ran to catch up with her as she sped
round the corner. His feet sped along the rough cobbled street, the firelight glistening on
the wet stones. It was almost beautiful. Almost.

As he turned the corner he stopped. The limp form of Eric crept back into existence
as the nightmare he’d been dreaming danced into life. His stomach turned, and knotted.
His heart sank like a rusty old anchor on a stormy sea. Waverley Bridge was not desolate;
it was not empty, nor void of people. Waverley Bridge was not a barrage of eyewitnesses,
grievers and mourners; terrified relatives and fearful friends. It was a morgue.
Line upon line of bodies blanketed the street. Many were covered with white sheets;
somewhere merely placed on the ground. Some bodies were burned, some limbs were
gone; some faces looked inhuman, and by the stillness in their eyes, Eric questioned
whether they could ever have been human.
Eliza was standing, rather hanging, a little forward from where Eric stood. Within all
the mess of bodies, flame and men rushing past, Eric walked up to her and hugged her
from behind, as the thick cloud of tungsten smoke smothered them in their fears.

“He’s not in here,” Eric reassured her, “Alex is not here.”
Eliza collapsed in his arms, shaking with tears, “But what if he is?”
Eric pulled her back to look her in the eye, “But he’s not.”
He grabbed her hand and summoned all the strength he had left in him – he squeezed
every blood vessel he had in him to believe, to trust in his hope and wish hard and strong
enough for Alex to be alive.
They ran down the rest of Waverley Bridge, not daring to look at the pile of carcasses. The
heat from the flames on their left hand side was suffocating. They passed fire fighters and
paramedics, rushing down towards the chaos. A crowd had gathered at the top of the hill,
just next to where Princes Mall used to be. They were all entangled together, many linking
hands though they could all have been strangers.
Eric and Eliza ran up to them.
“Alex? Alex!” They were both shouting.

A woman grabbed Eric’s hands and screamed at him, “Have you seen my Arthur? Have

you seen him? He went in and he never came out, he never came out!”
“I’m sorry – I’m sorry,” he cast her wrinkly hands aside.

The air was thick with panic and pandemonium. Paramedics ran passed with boxes of
bandages; stretchers of the suffering and the screaming. Eric and Eliza pushed through
the throng of people, shouting for Alex all the way. But no echoes came back in the form of
his healthy voice.

“Can I help?” a paramedic grabbed Eric’s arm as they were being tossed out of the crowd.
“Yes! Yes, we’re looking for someone -”
“My brother – Alex, Alex Reader.” Eliza jutted in, her voice broken with fear.
The paramedic consulted a small list he had by one of the ambulances, looking up –
shaking his head.
“I’m sorry, we’ve not got anyone under that name. But that might not be bad news. These
are only the names of the ones we’ve taken for serious injuries -”
Eliza’s eyes were pouring with tears.
“No, no – no, please… I have to go – I hope you find him….” he said, disappearing towards
the hell beyond.
“Eliza, hey, hey, no one’s seen him – he’s not on the list…”
“I can’t lose him – I can’t! I only lost my dad two years ago, I can’t lose him! He’s my
brother – he’s my brother!”
Eric grabbed her and put his arms around her in a tight grip. “I know. I know.”

Doctor Who: Episode One

Posted: April 25, 2011 in Uncategorized

A little taster of half way through the episode:

The Doctor tries to touch the TARDIS controls again and receives another burning shock to his arm and another explosion happens – blasting him back against the wall. The TARDIS calms down after that. There are few sparks from the controls. Alice crawls towards The Doctor, who is lying against the far wall of the TARDIS, barely conscious.
ALICE (CONT’D)
Doctor? Doctor are you alright?
DOCTOR
(quietly) Alice? Alice?
ALICE
Yes! It’s me.
Alice crawls right up to The Doctor. He’s burnt, he’s bruised. He looks like he’s been crying. He stretches out an arm to her.
DOCTOR
Alice! Please, you have to .. You have to leave.. It’s not me… It’s not me. There’s something… (coughs) inside me… It’s not me. I can’t control it. It’s trying to be me. It wants the TARDIS but she’s too smart, she knows! (coughs)

{Attempt fifteen at this novel, or so it seems. I first started writing this when I was 15. I am now going to channel the recent few months’ into this. You’ll see by the end of it whether or not it was worth it. I haven’t read this piece myself yet – as ever. I can only bring myself to do so once I finish an entire piece of work. Any spelling/grammar mistakes are to be expected. Also be aware that this is either the whole chapter or half the chapter. I’m still deciding on what to do next.}

The coffee was beginning to soak in to her dark blue, knee length skirt. She gently patted it dry once more before switching off the car engine and checking her reflection in the mirror. Saggy, wrinkly skin. She wasn’t old, she wasn’t young. It was that awkward age. But she only saw the layers of cellulite that only Botox and a time machine could fix.

It was late afternoon. The time of day that only coffee and sneaky bar of chocolate can get you through to see close of business. There was a little heat in the air, but the storm clouds were brewing and what looked like it could have been a nice day was rapidly turning into anti-climatical crescendo of rain and drizzle. But her coffee was still vaguely warm from the Starbucks she’d passed by on her way here, so she wasn’t too unhappy or disgruntled. She wasn’t the type of person to make plans for evenings anyway; nothing more than television and a plate of pasta.

Today was Tuesday and was parked in a large prison for cars: the hospital car park. It was one of those large expanses of tarmac that stretched out as far as the eye could see, completely littered with Fords and Volvos, vans and an enormous amount of taxis. The tarmac shone with that dampness that can only precede rain. She took in a gulp of the carpark before shifting round in her seat to search through the utter wreck of papers, pens, files, photographs and those flimsy little paper folders that could never contain its contents for more than a few hours at best. Her heart sank when she saw it, for she knew that she’d have to sift through it to find what she was looking for. It was only a small collection of files: three or four photographs and a letter or two attached to the usual print off from the computer database. No matter what she did with her paperwork, it inevitably fell into a messy abyss.

It took a few minutes for her to find the right files. She shuffled them in her hands and adjusted them into nice neat pile on her lap. Out of the corner of her eye she noticed a lone carpark attendant, biding his time by a tree not too far from where she was parked. He was barely over the age of sixteen. Perhaps he was on work experience, or, even worse, one of those types that adhered to all the laws and all the minor rules. She took out the parking ticket from her handbag that she’d taken from the machine at the carpark entrance. She had til six o’clock, as it was four o’clock now. Four o’nine to be precise, well according to her to wrist watch which was always a little slower than the rest of the world.

Sticking the parking ticket on the dashboard in full view of the barely-legal teenager, she got out of the car just in time for the heavens to split open like a shopping bag with too many bottles of white wine. But she strutted on towards the hospital entrance in her in the way that all women attempt to walk whilst wearing high heels. The automatic doors sighed her in and she was briefly blow dried by the air conditioning just above the door. Tempted though she was to stay under there, she marched onwards to the reception area which consisted of a large array of seating at the end of which was a tall counter and several young women with tight buns in their hair.

“Hi, excuse me,” she grabbed one of their attention when she reached the counter. “I have an appointment to see a Nurse Healy – Intensive Care department…. I think.”

One of the women typed something into a computer, “And your name is?”

“DI Catherine Garson.”

“Okay,” the receptionist smiled, “if you could go up to the third floor and follow the signs to Intensive Care, you’ll see the nurses station just before a set of stairs. If you ask one of the nurses there, they’ll be able to get Nurse Healy for you. The lifts are just over in the corner there.”

“Thank you,” Catherine said, and walked towards the lifts.

She pressed the button and waited for one to arrive. It was here that she got a waft of the anti-septic stench she’d been dreading all day. Catherine hated hospitals for a number of reasons, but the smell was one of the worst. It was so clinical. It wasn’t that it even reminded her of death, it was something else that she couldn’t quite grasp.

The lift arrived and she piled in with half a dozen other people. Two of them looked like visitors – one of them seemed to be comforting the other – and the others were either doctors or nurses. They all had their clipboards and pens. The doctor among them was adjusting his bow tie.

“Of course he’s never going to leave his wife – not after all this time – but she still believes that one day.. It’s quite sad. She’s getting on a bit…”

The two nurses were gossiping as the lift doors opened for the third floor. Catherine got out at the same time and rolled her eyes. She hated gossip at work. As the two nurses went one way, she stood at the sign on the wall and examined the route for Intensive Care. It was a lot more quiet up here. Downstairs there had been the din of people dashing about: nurses, patients, visitors, drivers and paramedics. Up here, with its magnolia covered walls and calming drawings on the wall,seemed quite removed from the chaotic world below though she could still hear the cry of ambulances three floors below.

Catherine continued down the same corridor as the two nurses from the lift after having deciphered from the sign where she must head. Along the corridor she glanced into the side rooms on either side of her. There was a small window in each door that allowed her to just in no more see the contents of the room behind it. They were mainly filled with patients lying in flat white beds and hooked up to large monitors and devices. In one a nurse was attending and in another was another nurse, covering an occupied bed with a white sheet. Catherine’s heart jolted for a second as she realised what was happening. A police officer though she was, she had never grown accustomed to death or dead bodies. It was still something that gave her the chills throughout her body whenever she saw the reality of it.

She reached the nurses station at the end of the corridor. The same two nurses from the lift were there, still chattering away.

“Excuse me, I’m looking for Nurse Healy – you wouldn’t happen to know where to find her?”

The slightly shorter nurse replied first, “Are you DI Garson?”

Catherine nodded.

“I’ll just go get her. Take a seat.”

Catherine took a seat in one of the red plastic chairs that surrounded a magazine table. She perched her files on her lap and began to peruse them. Meanwhile the short nurse had gone off to fetch Nurse Healy whilst the other was writing down notes by a desk at the nurses station. All was quite quiet. Catherine began looking at the photographs provided with each case file. A lot were just portrait pictures from some family occasion, else cut out from a wider picture. A few of them contained a copy of a family photograph. Catherine was saddened by each of them. For many families, these photographs were all they had left of their son, daughter, their brother or sister, husband or wife.

“DI Garson?” A soft voice spoke above her.

Catherine looked up and saw a stunning woman in her late twenties.

“Jenny Healy,” the woman offered an outstretched hand.

Catherine, standing up, took it and smiled, “Catherine Garson.”

“Shall we pop into somewhere a little more… private?” Jenny suggested.

“Sure.”

Catherine followed Jenny into a little office space with a hectic desk and array of files outwith their filing cabinet, which lined one of the walls. A singular pot plant signified the only piece of greenery Catherine has seen since entering the building.

They took a seat on either side of the desk. Catherine placed her files on top of the already cluttered desk whilst Jenny adjusted something on her pager.

“Before you see him, you must know a few things,” Jenny began, “He’s only been awake a day. He’s exhausted. You might be able to get anything coherent from him for a while. We’re keeping him mainly sedated so that the shock of being awake doesn’t take too much out of him.”

“How long was he in a coma again?”

“Almost six months. We haven’t informed him of the circumstances that he came here. We were going to wait until he is mentally ready. He still hasn’t remembered anything since I spoke to you on the phone this morning. He is going to be tough to talk to. The psychiatric nurse had to be removed from the room earlier because he was attempting to lash out at her. So please, if he’s showing any signs – let us know. But he’s on quite a lot of drugs right now he shouldn’t be too much trouble. Right, I think that covers it. Do you have any questions?”

Catherine shook her head, “No. But I’ve not managed to find an exact match on our systems. I’ve already informed all the police stations within a hundred mile radius of here about any missing persons they have matching his description.”

“Okay. Does it sound promising though?”

“It’s hard to tell at this stage. Someone could come along tomorrow and say they’re his mother, or it could be another six months. He might not have any family at all.”

“But someone, somewhere, will be missing him?”

“People are strange. That’s all I can advise. Friends who you think are friends turn out not to be bothered when you’re not there. We’ve all been there. And from the circumstance of how he was found, we can’t rule out attempted murder. Perhaps someone has been clever in covering their tracks?”

“That chills me. I don’t want to think about it. I’ve tended to his bedside for the last six months. I couldn’t bare to think that no one has realised he’s gone.”

“I know it’s hard to deal with. But I’ve come across some worse people in my line of work.”

“I guess. Shall I take you to see him now?”

“Yes, that would be good.”

Jenny got up, “He should be awake now.”

Once again Catherine followed Jenny along the corridor.

“He’s very weak, so don’t expect too much. Even if you can match his face to any descriptions you’ve got really….”

They stopped outside a closed door. This time there was no little window in it.

“If you need anything, just shout for me. I’ll be just down the hall….” And with that, Jenny opened the door and left Catherine standing in the threshold, gathering her thoughts and her files and readying herself to compartmentalise.

She was cradling a cup of tea in her cold hands as she sat on the edge of the sofa, cross legged and like a frog upon a lily, waiting to leap to somewhere else. She looked slightly withdrawn. Perhaps it was the insomnia she was experiencing of late. For over a fortnight now she was only catching a few hours of sleep a night. There were times where she would randomly drop off though: at work, at bus stops, in the shops or in the shower. They might only be for a few minutes, even seconds. But they were completely uncontrollable and they brought on the strangest of dreams.

She brought the cup to her lips, but it was cold tea that poured into her mouth. She coughed at the taste and put the mug back down on the coffee table. She had boiled the kettle right? She got up from the sofa and checked the kettle: it was still warm. Had she fallen asleep again? This time she had had no memory of a dream. Her eyes didn’t even feel as if they still had sleep in them.

“Are you alright?” Her sister appeared in the kitchen doorway.

“I’m not sure….” she said.

“Did you fall asleep again?” Her sister approached her slowly, looking concerned. “You should go see the doctor. It’s getting serious now…”

“I can’t explain it. I can’t explain the last hour. I made a cup of tea – it’s stone cold now. The last thing I remember is pouring it…. I don’t even remember waking up this time.”

“Sit down, I’ll make you another cup of tea. It’ll help waken you up.”

“I don’t feel tired though, I never feel tired when it happens!” She fell back into the sofa, “It’s like I have no choice.”

Her sister filled the kettle again and set it to boil.

“We’re all concerned for you, you know. You’ve got your exams coming up, you’ll be going to uni in the autumn. It’s so stressful. I know, I did it.”

“It’s not even that, I’m barely worried about it. And you don’t need to constantly remind me of your terrible life…”

Her sister ceased arranging cups of tea and turned to stare at her younger sibling, both surprised and disgusted.

“I don’t know why I bother. I try to help you, girl, but it’s just thrown back in my face all the time.” She stormed out of the kitchen, leaving the kettle to boil to an audience of two lonely mugs and a quietly bitter girl on the edge of her seat, torn between childhood and the rest of her life.

A tear slipped out of her glossy, sleep deprived eyes. She always hurt people in the end. As she heard her sister slam the front door, she dissolved into a shaking mess. The wall that two weeks of strange dreams, tormenting insomnia and a throbbing ache in her heart had built up was finally crumbling. The tears were drowning her eyes – she was blind with them. Wiping them away, she suddenly saw the kitchen erased from her sight. No longer was she sitting on the sofa, no longer was she in the kitchen. She was standing up, taller than usual, and her eyes were dry. She was now standing at the edge of a tall building. A garden of lawn and concerete lay beneath her feet. A few bushes and trees detracted from the unkemptness of it all. She felt a strong wind blowing her backwards – she felt it through her, now short, hair. She could feel every atom of the air pulverise her pores on her face. It was exhilerating. She could hear somewhere in the distance, or somewhere down below. Quiet what they were saying, she did not know. And it was almost as if she did not care. The words flew passed her ears as if they were just grains of dirt in the wind.

All of a sudden she felt her body turn around and came face to face with photography equipment. The flash guns flared and the light bounced off; the photographer took another and another. And, like a puppet, she could remotely feel herself moving into different poses and positions as the camera shutter locked down and the flash guns hammered her with rays of bright, flourescent light.

Sunset descended from a commotion of crimson and milky ambers into the a dull blue night’s sky. It was late evening. The chimney pots smouldered a little with pitiful smoke; it was winter. Cold bit at the windows, trying to get in. Frost began to form and seep inside. But she didn’t care. Twirling her long black curls in her finger, she remembered the dream that she’d just woken from. An afternoon nap that had turned into something else; something new. It was vivid. She felt odd; old even. There was a small part of her that felt slightly violated: as if she’d surrendered a bit of her subconscious to another, secretly, unwillingly. Her mouth was dry as she recalled a garden. She could see herself standing in a grand building – a large bay window watched and guarded a vast garden before it. There was an oak tree and a weeping willow too. It was sunny, but there were no signs of summer in the air there either. It was dark inside the building – perhaps a living room or drawing room. There were big window seats and chez longs. It was as if someone had become too accustomed and too familiar to the lack of light, that they’d forgotten to switch the lights on again. Outside two children played – chasing each other around as siblings do. There was laughter, but not from them. From someone else out of view. It was a close laughter, almost as if it were inside her own head. But she didn’t feel as if it were her own body. It felt quite removed – as if she was just a bystander, a contemptable sneak that had crept inside the mind of another to watch and to spy. And then she’d woken up. Nothing had happened dramatically to wake her up; nothing frightening; nothing physical. It just happened, as if there was a bad connection and her mind had just timed out. She was now leaning against her own windowsil now, examining the city lights that had began to glow below. A wave of sadness took over her. She felt like she’d lost someone dear to her but someone so long gone that they’d slipped from but the vestiges of her mind. Only there, in the small little backwaters of her brain, did they still exist and tap at the door of her ceberal entity; patiently waiting to come back in.

He woke quite abruptly and without any warning that he’d even fallen asleep. His mind was frazzled; he felt as if he still belonged back in the dream world that he’d been inhabiting for the last while. He reached over for a glass of water on his bedside table, but there was none. How had he even gotten to the bedroom? The last thing he really remembered was standing at his windowsil, watching his children play. He pulled back the covers – he was still fully clothed. His shirt was soaked with sweat. He felt disgusting. He got up and tore it off, catching a glimpse of himself in the mirror. His heart gave a little jolt. A rush of addrennaline throbbed through his veins. For a second he had struggled to recognise the man that was staring back at him in the mirror. It was almost as if it was another man taking off the same top, wearing the same jeans and adorning that same, stupidly little dazed expression. He took a few steps closer towards the mirror and touched his reflection’s face. It was him, but it wasn’t. He withdrew his hand and brushed his hand against his own face. Suddenly he fell back as his body collapsed. His eyes were wide open but could not see, or at least could not see what was really in front of him. All he could see was an image from somewhere; perhaps his dream, perhaps not. It felt familiar, as if he’d been there before – recently. But for all the world he could not understand where this image had appeared from so vividly from the corners of his memory, for all he could see was a city of tungsten lights and smoky chinmey pots and sea of darkest blue above……………

White. It was all white. A bright white light from the window drenched the room in a dull early morning glare. A gently spring breeze buffeted a thin white curtain that draped down on to the dirty white linoleum floor. White walls were covered in cheap plastic frames and cheap sketches of flowers, lakes and riversides. Calming scenes. Occasionally a health and safety notice spoilt the theme. It was cold in the room. A touch of frost may have been biting the trees and air outside. The sun had not quite crept into proper existence yet. It was pre-dawn. The loneliest time of the day.

There was little noise, save the wind gently blowing against the window pane. The odd highheeled footstep passed by on the concrete street below. Perhaps an ambulance or two out in the distance, chasing on death’s path. Maybe children were crawling out of bed for school. Perhaps it was not even a weekday at all. The dull light and cold sting in the air would not reveal. The heavy silence told not a single tale. But it was all quite removed from the little white room, white walls, white chair.

No one sat on the chair. No one had in months. It was redundant. It faced small bed and a pathetic, lifeless string of limbs, a heart, a head and two eyes. It was smothered in a nest of white sheets and white pillows. Quite unaware. Yet something in this apparent corpse was changing. Its eyelids began to flicker, perhaps they began to open. A blurred world began to form; a white mess of shades and shadows. A few seconds passed, a few moments to adjust: the world was forming slowly, but forming nonetheless. His mouth was dry; his breath was slow, a little difficult – painful too. He was numb. Cold and numb. His vision focussed, though still askew from reality, on the world around him. The chair, the window, the walls, the floor….

His heart rate quickened. He had seen his body. His lifeless body all wrapped up in his cocoon. His breath followed suit with his heart: his lungs felt restricted. He tried to breathe faster, harder, deeper. But it was as if there was something wrapped around his throat. And then, an odd sensation crept back to him, like pins and needles, like a sixth sense. There was something wrapped around his throat. He focussed on his face, the top of his nose. There was something there, a transparent mask of sorts. He motioned to throw it from his face – but his arm was caught. It hung limply, lifelessly in midair: attached to a small wire – or tubing – that ran the entire length of his arm and cut deep into his skin. And it was then that he saw – no longer a blurred cacophony of light and shapes – a large box, on a stand, systematically beeping and displaying a green series of quickening spikes. Each spike was passing more quickly on the screen. Each beep was followed more quickly by the next. He could feel his whole body swelling; his mind was bursting at the skull. It was more than shock, it was more than a desperate realisation of where he was and how he’d come to be there. Thoughts rocketed through his brain, but there was no other conclusion… there was no alternative to the one bleeding through his panic stricken conscious.