Wednesday, 31 October 2012

SILHOUETTES - Tenth instalment


SILHOUETTES - Tenth instalment - Chapters twenty-one, twenty-two, and twenty-three. For more information on this novel, click Here. Next instalment coming next week.

TWENTY-ONE

French toast was one of the few things he made well, and he made it with gusto, plenty of eggs, that was the secret, and unskimmed milk, none of that new interfered with stuff for intolerant lactates. He made a full eight slices before sitting down to eat. Everything was going to be alright, a bit of panic earlier, but just goes to show the benefits of keeping calm. He had distracted himself by filling out his report and nipping out to mail it at the post box at the end of the street. This report had been quite lengthy, details were important, and although it was painful stating how he had lost his subject temporarily, he knew nothing but the facts would do, and had ended with a promise of more vigilance and dedication from now on, he was sure the subject was still not aware of him and it would not happen again. Eight pages of A4 had to be crammed into the small reply paid envelope, surreptitiously addressed to a car insurance company, so he had to reinforce the gum seal with sellotape to ensure it would arrive intact, or even worse, opened to view. His employers no doubt had people in the Post Office though, in case such events occurred. He had never heard of any discoveries of such secrets being uncovered by some random member of the public, but better to negate the possibility by applying a little tape.

Although he had enquired about the acquisition of Suzi, and was almost one-hundred per-cent sure this had been fully authorised, he couldn't for the life of him actually remember off-hand if it was, in actual fact. Obviously it wasn't something he had done on a whim, so he must have been given the go ahead. Sometimes he did forget stuff though, and other times, it was all so blindingly clear.

'His was not to reason why,
His was just to do or die',


This was the instruction from Tennyson. In other words, don't think, just do. They were the words that always came to him whenever he began to have doubts. All his life he had been told to think for himself, and most of his time on this Earth had been miserable due to that maxim. It was far easier and less complicated by far if he just did as he was ordered and left the thinking and the consequences to others. Thinking for himself only ever got him into trouble. His parents were responsible, at least initially. They were forever at him when he was young to work things out for himself, then more of that same stuff at school by teachers who should know their place was to instruct kids on what should be done, not have them all in a tizzy unsure what the right or wrong answer was. Was it any surprise the education system was a mess? It was no wonder he had a bit of a setback?  They blamed it on ill-health, of the mind, they blamed it on puberty, they even blamed it on his parents, and he supposed they did get the wrong end of the stick when he was born. They tried hard, he knew, and perhaps they even did love him. Well, perhaps at first. His mother hated him towards the end though, and it wasn't such a surprise when one day he caught her with his teacher. He was subsequently informed what a hindrance she was to him, and she had to go.

That was the first time Tennyson came to him. That night was a night of wonder and realisation. Mental shock and awe was an understatement. Tennyson didn't come often, but when he did, Simon knew big changes in his life were always afoot. Best of all, Tennyson had no such idiosyncrasies of him having to work out things for himself. Tennyson issued direct orders, though often in the form of verse, and he had no compulsion but to obey.

In the course of a week, he lost both his parents to a house fire, was sexually molested for the first time, in a temporary care home, and then transported halfway across the country, from his birth home of Dumfries, to the home of his elderly uncle Shamus in Govanhill, Glasgow. For a boy of twelve this was a serious upheaval of life, and when he thought back, he did sometimes wonder if he might have been better staying with his parents till he was older. He did regret more than he would ever admit, that they died in such a fashion. Especially his father, it was a terrible accident for him. But such was life, and death, and ultimately, it didn't really matter now, it was all in the past. Life goes on, no need to panic.

He finished the French toast and switched on the television for the ten o'clock news. There was a political debate on about the Scottish independence referendum. Alex Salmond, the Scottish First Minister, was outnumbered three to one, but was holding his own in the debate, despite the pro-union bias of the mediator, some low-punching mutterer favoured by the BBC, who wouldn't allow a straight answer to a straight question, without interrupting the flow, just as the First Minister of Scotland was getting to the salient point. Simon hoped the Scots got independence, but it was irrelevant to him, he wouldn't vote one way or another, his was a higher calling, his was a planet wide conspiracy war, as opposed to a local skirmish of national political views, which may or may not benefit a small part of the human race. His was about saving the whole of mankind from the aliens.

The debate ended with a straw poll of the Edinburgh audience which the mediator reluctantly conceded was around two to one in favour of independence. The news followed, and he patiently flipped and sparked his Zippo lighter, almost involuntarily, while it droned on about topical international affairs, till the local news began. The shock hit him like an iron bar when he saw the image of himself, grainy, black and white, poor resolution, but still his face, looking back at him from the television screen. He dropped his lighter.

TWENTY-TWO

Oswalk watched herself on the TV in her office, Hartless sitting across from her with his mucky feet on her fucking desk.

'...like to stress we're only looking for this gentleman as he may have witnessed events which may have a bearing...'

Her voice was kind of droning on camera, and she spoke a bit too quickly, thought Hartless, though he would never tell her such. They had decided to put the mug shot on the local TV in the hope of finding the bastard quickly.

Due to the fucking crime wave that seemed to be keeping everyone who hadn't the sense to keep their head down busy, Oswalk and he had been landed with this when some plod got excited about a spill of goo. The plod's sergeant passed his enthusiasm up the chain till Chief Inspector Lang got to hear about it, and they were nominated to go and check what all the fuss was about. They thought at first it was a straight forward mugging of a pensioner, but when they had got to the scene, it was clear something was far amiss there. Oswalk was of the same mind. Forensics were called, there was a smell of death in the substance found all over the dog, the pavement, and splattered over the old man who, with no consideration of others, took a fucking heart attack just as they were hoping to question him. He was taken away to be pampered in hospital, but with the information received from witnesses it was clear it was not a mugging, but someone in the process of dumping something in the river being disturbed in the act. A boat team was summoned and they recovered the coffee tin. This was taken away for analysis. There was no one willing to take a guess on the substance the tin had contained, but it wasn't normal, therefore, thought Hartless, it probably wasn't legal.

It was holding them back from the main enquiry though, which was the disappearance of the student Suzi Tanner, so they requested the presence of a TV crew at HQ, and Oswalk made a brief comment in front of camera. The crew were given some CCTV stills of the man wanted to assist them with enquiries, to add to the film they would edit and screen on the local news bulletins. They had been lucky with the footage, the bastard had run right past a camera aimed down the very street, and luckily it was in working order and recording merrily back to the CCTV Security Suite at HQ.

TWENTY-THREE

The phone was answered within two rings.

'Tony,' said a dull monotone, 'Everwatch Security.'

'Er,' said Ben nervously, 'My name is Ben Frisk. A friend mentioned you were looking for staff and gave me your number.' Then Ben remembered he was told on no account to mention where he had got the number from. Dave had insisted he would not get the job if he did.

'How soon can you start?' asked the monotone.

'Tomorrow?' asked Ben.

'Great, meet me outside the old Telcomcal offices on Grimeforth street tomorrow morning at oh-eight-hundred, understand?'

'Yes' mumbled Ben, before he had worked out eight in the morning, tomorrow. 'Er, what about an interview?'

'I'll give you one tomorrow when you sign the forms. Bring a lunch, you'll be working till eighteen-hundred, understand?'

'Ok, eight tomorrow, bring a lunch.'

'You know where Grimeforth Street is?'

'Yes, know it well,' said Ben, looking out the window at the very street.

'Ok, see you then,' the monotone rung off.

Well, that was painless, mused Ben, thought it was hard to get a job these days, he smiled to himself. The guy didn't even ask for his work history.

At that exact moment, a uniformed man walked up the steps and entered the reception of the office block across the road from the pub Ben was sitting in. A few minutes later Tony walked out, turned left, and stomped heavily down to where he had his car parked, whistling softly, thinking how lucky it was to have one numbnuts replaced with another without having to dip into the company funds to advertise. He hoped the idiot tomorrow morning would be the same size and build as the idiot who left, save the company on a uniform as well.

Ben decided he could have another few celebratory pints before heading back to the flat. He would buy some biscuits on the way. Good news always went down well with biscuits.

Next instalment coming soon...

Copyright © Stevie Mach 2012 All rights reserved


Tuesday, 23 October 2012

SILHOUETTES - Ninth instalment

White Rabbit with cigarSILHOUETTES - Ninth instalment - Chapters nineteen and twenty. For more information on this novel, click Here. Next instalment coming next week.

NINETEEN

Debbie's description of the mugger niggled like an itch in the back of Dave's mind. There was something so familiar to it, though it was a rough spoken sketch that could be any of a million people scattered around the country. Something about the eyes - pointed, the nose - slightly hooked, the head - completely bald, yet how could eyes be pointed, though he knew pointed eyes were a trait that seemed familiar to him at the moment. Had he noticed anyone around with pointy eyes? He laughed aloud, and both Debbie and Jo stared at him, concerned.

'The pointed eyes,' he stated as explanation, 'hard to visualise.'

'Er,' mumbled Debbie, 'that's how they seemed to me.'

'And me,' said Jo. 'Definitely pointed eyes.'

'Ok,' said Dave, 'we all agree, pointy eyes,' he made a mental note to consult the agency manual for a fuller description of the facial feature of pointed eyes.

After another round of drinks the alcohol from earlier in the day, and the alcohol of the moment was beginning to catch up with Dave and he felt decided drunk, the girls also seemed well on the way to inebriation. He knew Jo was blatantly flirting with him and he could hardly avoid peering down her cleavage the way she leant over the table as she spoke. It was a wonderful cleavage.

TWENTY

Although he was Scottish by birth, born in the town of Wishaw, his parents had moved to Smithfield, Virginia, in the United States when he was ten years old. His father had been left a large house and some land by some obscure uncle his parents never knew existed until his death. His father had sold some of the land, and converted the house to five apartments. The family, his father, mother, sister and he, resided in one, and lived off the rent from the others. The US was a big adventure for a ten year old boy, his father took him and his sister regularly up to the naval docks at Norfolk, to see up close the military might of the USA. The base was always bristling with a wide range of naval hardware, from small frigates to medium class destroyers to up-to-the-minute submarines and the latest aircraft carriers. He was determined to join the navy when he was old enough. In reality though, it wasn't to be. At the age of eighteen he had applied to enlist in the US Navy, and had been provisionally accepted, though on a subsequent interview he was offered another position with Navy Intelligence, due to his high scores in the admission examinations and presumably also in the unique way he answered each question in the psychometric test paper with a drawing of a white rabbit smoking a cigar. To the examination board this showed initiative and a concentrated mind unlikely to sway due to peer pressure or be bent to the persuasions of financial gain. To him, a white rabbit was the only thing he could draw well, and psychometric tests did his head in.

Navy Intelligence turned out to be a long boring waste of time. He rarely got near a ship, never mind actually get to serve some time in one, the uniform was crap, he spent most of his time clandestinely reading legitimate emails from Navy colleagues throughout the world, looking for obscure patterns of words, that may or may not, be a hidden code to instruct a sleeper Agent to attack the USA. He read a great deal of cyber-sexual correspondence, discovered reams worth of secret affairs, both heterosexual and homosexual in nature, discovered a child porn ring organised and run by a high serving Admiral (the Admiral retired due to ill health shortly after he reported this). He never discovered any threats to the US either at home or abroad. After six months of this he was desperate to move on to something else and when he saw the internal memo for a 'special project' involving travel he fired off a note acknowledging interest.

Three months later he had still heard nothing, he was reporting for work daily to his small cubbyhole, reading eight hours of emails, then home again. The US Navy had been the biggest mistake of his life, he was thinking. Then one day driving home he noticed he was being followed. That red car was there yesterday. It was here today. Two suited men in front, stared ahead like the Hollywood typecast G-men, with shades, though without the obligatory fedora hats.


Because he belonged to Naval Intelligence, he carried a sidearm, a burdensome colt automatic which apart from a quick clean once a week, and the compulsory half-hour monthly visit to the base firing range, had never been removed from its holster. There was something he remembered about a new threat level, what was it? Should he be alarmed?

He continued driving home as usual, debating in mind what would be the best option, the best plan of action? While he did so, he removed the pistol from its holster, checked the mechanism was free and there was a full magazine loaded. His car was an old Buick Lucerne V6 sedan and he had promised himself a decent upgrade shortly, it guzzled fuel like a thirsty desert camel and in it's present condition he knew it was worth little as a trade, so he had no hesitation when the sharp right turn came up and he flung the car around the corner hardly slowing a beat, the tyres screamed and he thought he was going to flip it on its side, but it held, scrapping a 'No Through Road' sign over as the rear end swayed and righted itself back on to the tarmac. He was now on a single lane farm track, dust spiraled from the front drive wheels as he sped along, caking the windscreen in grime, but he noticed in the rear view mirror, the red sedan, a new model Chevrolet Malibu, which had passed the turn off, reversing back, and then turning in to follow.

He cocked the colt as he drove along, took it off safety, and placed it under his thigh, the muzzle pointing out at the door away from him. He then pressed a three number digit on his cell phone and left it ringing out on the passenger seat.

This road led down to a small lake, he knew this as he had brought a few girls down here in the summer, it was a regular lover's lane, much to the chagrin of the farmer who owned the land. As long as he didn't come face to face with a tractor coming the other way he could follow the road to the end, around another mile, when hopefully reinforcements would be about to arrive, the response time on the three digit emergency code he had entered in his cell was supposed to be under ten minutes, though he had never used it before and wondered if the ten minutes was a figment of someone's imagination, or if it was actually a likelihood of being a reality? He was beginning to wonder if he should perhaps have chosen a more conventional method of dealing with the following car, like sensibly driving to the nearest police station, report the car, registration, and the description of the occupants to the police and then his own superiors. Despite their familiarity to G-men, they could quite possibly be terrorists, and he had never fired his gun in anger.

The red car was actually gaining on him, despite the reckless pace of his haste along the rutted and pot-holed surface. There was a sharp bend to the left just up ahead, when the road descended to the lakeside. He scanned the skies as best he could through the dust covered windows hoping to see an approaching helicopter, but nothing flew near except some songbirds disturbed by the rattling noise of the automobile with the screaming V6 rumbling along. The trailing car was little more than two-hundred meters behind now and he decided enough was enough. He took the bend at speed, slammed the brakes on just around the corner, out of sight for a moment, flung open the door and ran across the front of the car into the undergrowth. He went in about ten metres and ducked down behind a large gorse bush, gun in hand, just as the red sedan careered around the bend, too late saw the obstruction, and ran smack into the back of his Buick. The frantic braking of the driver just before impact had lessened the collision, but almost in slow motion, he saw the heads of both occupants, mouths agape in surprise, thrown forward, then thrust back again as airbags burst with explosive intensity. Dave reached for his cell phone, cursed as he realised it was still in the passenger seat of his car, then cautiously crept towards the wrecked Chevy. The two occupants seemed dazed, the passenger dead-like still, the driver waving an arm to clear airbag dust from his face. Even though they looked like no threat to him now, he kept his firearm by his side as he eased over and clicked open the driver's door, the driver looked up at him sheepishly, gave a lop-sided grin and went to place a hand under his jacket. Dave punched him full on the face then raised the pistol.

'ID,' moaned the driver, blood was streaming from his nose which was puffing up nicely now, thought Dave, feeling the pain in the joints of his hand after the punch.

He kept the gun pointing at the drivers head and with his other hand patted down each side of his jacket, unclipped the seatbelt, instructed him to lean forward, patted down his back, and found the gun strapped to his waist under the jacket. He removed a small snub-nosed pistol, placed it in his own jacket pocket and instructed the driver to get out of the car.

'ID' the driver repeated, seeming to become more aware of what was happening around him. 'Benny,' he said, indicating his companion.

'I'll get to him,' said Dave, 'hands against the car, legs spread, you know the routine.' Dave was only a twenty year old lad, but he felt like a middle aged cop.


The driver complied, fuzziness came and went, he had a feeling to resist or fight would be useless and physically impossible at this moment in time. He also thought his nose was broken.

Dave searched him more thoroughly, removed a wallet, and a pair of handcuffs the driver also had on the back of his belt. He grabbed the driver by the back of his jacket and led him to a small but sturdily built tree, ordered his hands to be put around the trunk, then cuffed them together. He then went back to the car to see to the passenger. A large black helicopter suddenly swung across the sky and hovered above the two cars, there was no sound, no down-draught, no indication of its arrival. It was just there. He stared up aghast, frozen, watching several figures in black drop down trailing ropes to the ground. Before he could decide if this was a new threat or not, he felt a jag of pain on his arm, and he felt he was too heavy to stand. He sat down, then sitting became so very tiring, his arms fell to his side, he released the gun to someone near, and he slid back to sleep, he was so tired, he had to sleep. He whispered to his mother, 'five more minutes,' as the figure in black removed a dart from his arm, hefted him up and over a shoulder, and he was rising through the air.

It wasn't his mother that roused him. It was a doctor leaning over him, shining a bright light into his eye.

'Relax,' coaxed the doctor in a gentle voice, as he tried to force himself up. 'You're all right, nothing wrong at all.'

'Where am I?' asked Dave, jigsaw bits of jumbled memory were trying to click into the relevant slots in his brain, but it was all fuzzy.

The doctor walked over to a wall phone and pressed a number, spoke briefly, then returned.

'Someone's coming along to explain everything,' he said. 'I've ordered you some strong coffee, that will help bring you fully round. Don't take any food for a few hours yet, you'll only throw it back up.'

With that the doctor left him alone.

It was a standard looking hospital room, smelt of disinfectant and lemon, quite sparse, his was the only bed, and apart from a small table next to him, a sink and faucet along one side, and a wall mounted TV screen opposite the bed, had no other features. A door led outside to the corridor he could partially see through a wall length window curtained by slatted vertical blinds. Another door looked like it may lead off to a toilet or shower room, or both.

A nurse swung open the door from the corridor and pushed in a tray. She was young dark and beautiful, and smiling broadly, her name tag said Mava.

'Just what the doctor ordered,' she said in a bright voice and poured some coffee from a large flask into a cup and handed it to him.

He drank it down, strong and black, there was no sugar or milk on the tray. She seemed to know he drank it this way.

She took the cup from him and filled it again. He was already feeling a bit brighter, more awake. He was fitting the jigsaw pieces into place and could remember most everything up until the helicopter appeared. She refilled the cup once more and placed it on the table next to the bed and turned her trolley to go.

Around ten minutes later, when the man in the black suit entered the room, he knew his life had changed.

Next instalment coming soon...

Copyright © Stevie Mach 2012 All rights reserved

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

The Choice is Clear

Yes to an independent Scotland, or a Scotland whose future is dictated to by generations of Tories in three colours?

Yesterday (15/10/12), the First Minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond, and the Prime Minister of the UK, David Cameron signed an historic document striking a deal for the Scottish independence referendum. Although the vote is still two years away (autumn 2014), the main agenda has been agreed, the timing of the vote, one question on the ballot paper, and 16 and 17 years olds will get to vote.

The Yes Scotland campaign is already underway, "Let's get straight to the point," says Blair Jenkins, "Why is independence the best option for Scotland? In a nutshell, it is really very simple:

"It is better for Scotland if decisions about our economy, quality of life, environment and society are taken by the people who care most about Scotland, that is by the people of Scotland. As a nation and a community, we have the greatest stake in making our country the best it can possibly be and will work hardest to deliver a fairer and more successful Scotland.

Under successive UK governments we have become one of the most unequal societies in the developed world. According to research by Danny Dorling, Professor of Human Geography at Sheffield University, the UK is in fact the fourth most unequal society in the “rich’ world. And right now we are now witnessing a sustained assault by the UK Coalition on the welfare state and the targeting of the most vulnerable people in society." (source)

In a small country that prides itself in issues of social justice and fairness, the onslaught of the UK Tory government, along with their partners-in-crime, the Lib-Dems, on the welfare state, the NHS, and their general ineptitude in running the economy of the UK, bodes ill for the future of Scotland. What is happening in England at this moment in time will be happening here very shortly, the writing is on the wall, the Tories do not want a welfare state of any description, they will abolish it piece by piece. No public services will be safe in Tory hands, and if the people of Scotland vote no, then the little bit of social difference the Scottish government is making at the moment will be eroded away to nothing. The only choice for a decent future for Scotland and the people of Scotland is a Yes vote, and complete independence.

It is no use looking at Scottish Labour, or the Lib-Dems as an alternative to Tory policies if Scotland votes to remain in the UK. Johann Lamont, the Scottish Labour leader, has already proved her Tory compliance with her recent speech, being widely congratulated by Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Tory leader. The welfare state is not safe in the hands of someone who describes most of the essential benefits as 'freebies'. The fact the 'freebies' are paid for by taxes paid by voters seems to have escaped her notice. It is no surprise the Tory red team, or B team, are in the decline. The Tory yellow team, already in coalition with the Tories, are insignificant in Scotland, and will probably be non-existent, at least in any regard that would be meaningful in any political sense by the next UK election. Perhaps they are beginning to realise that an afterthought of an apology, for blatantly lying to the electorate to gain votes, is not the way to keep them.

Over the next two years, many of the issues important to the people of Scotland will become clear, a great many of the lies and falsehoods put forward by the unionist trio will be dispelled and the truth will out. As the true facts become clear, I suspect the percentage of Yes voters will rise, I also hope fervently that supporters in the existing Scottish unionist parties with a desire for a Scotland more supportive of social justice, free education, essential benefits, and equality (for there are many), will begin to show their support for an independent Scotland. A wide and varied cross-band of opinions would be welcome, no matter what side of the political spectrum they came from, as long as they voiced their own free opinions rather than a Westminster script of Tory rhetoric.

Susan Stewart, director of communications for Yes Scotland, said “an independent Scotland will be fair, more compassionate and more prosperous than under the United Kingdom.

Scottish Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who was closely involved in the backroom negotiations that led to the referendum agreement, called it “the biggest opportunity the people of Scotland have had for 300 years to determine the kind of nation we all wish to live in.

Alex Salmond hailed the referendum deal as "a major step forward in Scotland's home-rule journey. We're not in the business of ripping things up. We're in the business of developing a new relationship between the people of these islands — I think a more beneficial, an independent, equal relationship."


Sign up to the Yes Declaration Here









Wednesday, 3 October 2012

SILHOUETTES - Eighth instalment

SILHOUETTES - Eighth instalment - Chapters seventeen and eighteen. For more information on this novel, click Here. Next instalment coming next week.

SEVENTEEN

Simon frantically tore at the strip of tablets, some flew from the pack across the kitchen. He swallowed four. He would be able to think with four, he thought. At least he was sure it was four he had the last time he had a panic attack of this magnitude. He swilled them down with some water and began pacing up and down the kitchen wishing the Chlorpromazine to kick in quickly. He was supposed to take them daily, but they confused him and stopped him from working. The other tablets were worse, he had binned the rest, but the Chlorpromazine helped sometimes when he got hyper. Things hadn't gone to plan, things hadn't gone well at all. Nothing to gain by panic, he kept saying, pacing up and down, up and down. Start to work, nothing to gain, don't panic. He had escaped, that was the main thing, the dog had caused the problem, the old man exacerbated it, and he had lost his temper with the animal, lost his cool and struck out. All was not lost though, nothing to gain by panic, the situation was not dire, the pills were kicking in, he could feel their presence coursing through his veins, lowering his pulse, calming, dulling the dread, the panic was under control, he could think straight, he could think what to do now.

He took off his trousers, standing in dirty yellow boxer shorts, he inspected the damage, one leg was torn beyond repair, he could smell the fetid breath of the animal from the tear, or was that dried in liquefied intestines? They couldn't be repaired anyway, they would have to be binned, disposed off, can't be wearing potential evidence. He took a fresh pair of jeans from the bedroom wardrobe and put them on.

Could he keep Suzi now? That was the question. The coffee tin had burst open over the dog, but would anyone realise what it was that poured out? The dog may have eaten all the evidence, but bearing in mind it was a small dog, probably fairly well fed, it was doubtful. But would anyone even think the slurry that poured forth was human? The questions were coming thick and fast now as the medication was calming him. His surveillance of the alien had also lapsed today, because of events he wasn't watching as he was supposed to be. He had to analyse if that was somehow a deliberate act of evasion, or if it was merely down to the recent, and accidental circumstances, outwith his control. The best way was to take one question at a time, work it out, then move to the next, work it out, then all will be resolved one way or another.

So, could he keep Suzi now? He asked himself again. Was his job in fact threatened, had he been inept? He wandered through to the room where she lay. There was a yellowing tinge on her leathery skin now, he noticed, plus there was still a smell, despite his constant cleaning up and embalming. She was still beautiful though, despite her colour and the leathery effect. If he kept her, the gaping depression in her midriff would have to be stuffed with something to make up for the missing guts and stuff. He made a mental note to check on the lasting properties of foam rubber. She was anorexic in appearance on top of everything else. He felt a moment's disgust with her, was she worth the keeping? She was his experiment though, and he had come so far, and disposing of her and getting another at this stage would not be easy. The metal rods to make her work again would be the deciding factor, he determined. Next question. The consequences of the dog attack. Would anything to threaten him come from that? He was certainly seen and would be recognized again by a few of the people around him at the time, especially the old man, but what way would the disturbance be construed, supposing nothing came of the slurry spill? Slurry spill, he smiled at the alliteration and cautioned himself that was disrespectful, that particular slurry was at one time part of a living breathing creature. A beautiful living female person, a human doll, and she would be a human doll again, with his help, with his ingenuity and skill and dedication.

EIGHTEEN

He was actually scared to go home, or back to the decrepit house he called home. More accurately he was scared to face Debbie, which was surprising to him at the moment, for just a few pints and whiskies back, he was fully prepared to sit down calmly with her, sort things out, promise to improve his behaviour, and begin to take their relationship seriously, put a bit more romance into the equation. It was amazing how quickly your perspective changes when alcohol in quantity is involved. He knew now he was too drunk to sit down and have a calm discussion with anyone, never mind when the subject of the discussion would mainly be on the topic of his regular alcohol consumption, or rather, the over-indulgence of such. It would be bad enough having to face Debbie in this state, never mind probably having to take on the entire household of student occupants - Jo was highly-strung, she could be a back-stabbing bitch, and had a fascist-like-control thing about hygiene, and as he was perhaps not too that way inclined, they rarely had a viewpoint that matched harmoniously. She was also best friends and study mate with Debbie which meant constant capitulation by him when they had a disagreement, just in case she upset his relationship with Debbie. The other house-mates were alright. Moira, she was ok, and always good for a short term loan, and she just liked a quiet life. Mostly sat contentedly in her room smoking or popping whatever drug came to hand, and let the rest of the world pass her by. Brian was like a musical Borg, always philosophizing about collective responsibility and how the household was a greater component then each individual, except that is, when it was his turn on the Rota to clean out the cluggie. Still, a wee word to Brian, and he may have him and Moira on side if it came to an eviction vote. He had been recently praising and encouraging Brian on his musical compositions, though the only thing it inspired in him was headaches. Amazing though how Brian could get a melody out of almost any old junk he could put 240 volts of electricity through.

He should maybe prepare himself for the worst, he thought, as the pint and whisky he'd ordered was placed before him. Although it was a retro step, his parents may put him up for a while before the nagging that drove him away in the first place began again in earnest, these occasional sojourns back home were usually welcomed by his mother, dreaded by his father, and put up with by his teenage sister, Sophie, who saw him both as a like-hearted ally against the overbearing parents, and a scourge for the sexual reaction he seemed to provoke on her female friends, although it was never encouraged from his side, despite some of them being delicious to look at.

That was being negative though, the worst possible scenario. He could perhaps take the advice of his new found friend, Dave. Now the guy was a zoomer, though he genuinely had a knack of leading you to believe some of that stuff he came out with, thought Ben. Alien indeed. But, in some sense, he showed a bit of wisdom, and he had a number to phone for a job that was available right now for the taking. Although being a security guard wasn't a career kind of thing, it may be a good enough stop-gap to allow him to remain living at the flat, and perhaps even improve his relationship with Debs, if she thought he was becoming a more responsible adult. He looked at the scrap of paper torn from the Glasgow Herald. Below Dave's translation of his message from home was scrawled a phone number. He looked at the phrase, 'Beware of strangers bearing gifts,' and rang the number.

Next instalment coming soon...


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