Ben’s Time

A long walk at night was Ben’s solace, a little peace from his world. That infernal house and the constant noise. It made him angry sometimes but he knew anger was bad. His left hand flitted around and around the rosary beads in his pocket. Mumbling hail Marys under his breath.

Walking soothed it. Praying soothed it. He often thought of drilling a tiny hole in the top of his skull to let out the built-up pressure, like steam from a kettle. He needed it. He would spend hours walking some nights. In his old cracked leather jacket and bright orange trainers, ill-fitting jeans that sagged under his stomach. Ben’s right hand circled through his long spindly hair that in turn circled his shiny bald head. He knew they laughed at him. Kids and adults. All of them. Night time was better. His Time.

As he walked down the cobble stone lane enclosed by the high wall of the churchyard on one side and the old stone wall of some fancy house on the other, he felt a safety, a security. He was getting closer to her. The streetlamps hummed softly. The gentle orange glow the closest he got to sunlight.

His peace was broken by a muffled shout. This was the worst thing about his Time. There were others. People who also liked the night. On the weekend so many and so loud that he couldn’t venture out at all. Drink done for them all. He was forced to just watch from his high window. But in the week, the others were different. They had their own missions. Their own reasons to walk. He never looked directly at them. Eye contact led to nothing good. Another shout. Closer this time. Be resolute. He turned the corner at the end of the lane and walked towards the front gate of the churchyard.

The church used to be open in the night. It used to be open all the time. You could go right inside and pray, anytime. It was where he received his first communion and made his first confession to Father O’Malley. In recent years, the other night people started to come there. Sleep there. Then they started locking the church doors. But you could still get into the graveyard, where his own mum was laid to rest. Once he found a man sleeping on his own mum’s grave. He had cried and asked him to move but the man was drunk sleeping. Wouldn’t move. No matter how much he pushed and pulled at him. the next few nights after that there were loads of people there. Police. He couldn’t get in. Couldn’t go near the gate even. Too many people. Tonight was quiet though. He would be able to see her.

Approaching the large black wrought iron gates always felt good to Ben, like a homecoming, the intricate curves and spikes looked nice. When he was a boy he could get his entire head through them, he would play around them as his mum spoke to the Father O’Malley. He entered the churchyard just as a man came running out. The man barged right into him and looked. Looked right at him. Ben looked back. In his eyes. He didn’t mean it. It happened too quick. That happened sometimes. In the supermarket or on a bus. Sometimes if you weren’t careful you could see someone’s eyes and they seen yours. It was scary. He froze, completely still. His arms by his side, looking at his feet. The man didn’t stop he just ran off straight down the road. Ben didn’t know if he looked back or not. He didn’t move for about a minute. Just wanting to be alone.

Mum would help him. she always helped him when he was scared. He remembered when he was little, he was being bullied by a boy in the street. They stole his bike. He was only five. The boy had a knife. What could he do. His sister ran and got his own mum and she had come and scared the boy off and held him so tight for so long that all the badness went away and he didn’t even think of it again that often.

He walked through the quiet graveyard towards her grave. She had a lovely spot. In the middle near the church but also next to a lovely big oak tree. She loved it there but she missed Ben.

He crunched along the grey gravel path and could see her stone now. She would be happy to see him. she would make him feel better too. He’d give her a kiss and it would be ok and he wouldn’t be scared anymore.

A man stood up. He had been hiding behind her tombstone. The man pulled up his pants and trousers. Ben looked at the grass. There was fucking shit everywhere! All over his own mums grave and her stone! The man looked Ben in the eye.

“Alright pal.” He rasped.

Ben screamed a guttural roar. His hands went around the man’s neck. How dare he, how dare he.

Ben held tight as the man lay down. Onto the grass. Onto the shit. He wept as he squeezed. He had never been this angry before. He knew he shouldn’t be, but couldn’t stop squeezing.  His eyes moved to his mother’s name on the stone and he let go.

“I’m sorry mum!” still weeping.

They were both covered in shit. It was all over Bens jacket and his jeans. He couldn’t touch his rosary beads. They would get dirty. Everything was dirty. Had to get it clean.

He stood up and dragged the lifeless man to the path and up the steps to the large dark studded doors of the church. The man didn’t have a cross or beads or anything around his neck. Another soul too late to save. You have to try though.

He began stripping the man. He stunk. Not just of shit. He needed a bath. Shouldn’t judge though. There are many less fortunate than us. That’s what mum used to say. He took off the mans’ socks and shoes. And put them neatly on the step.  He took off his trousers and dirty hoody. And folded them and placed them there too. Then, once he was naked. Used his t shirt and underpants to wipe him clean. Cleanliness was next to godliness. Once he was satisfied he made sure the man’s feet were together and positioned his arms out at ninety degree. Had to be certain God could see him.

He took the man’s clothes and went back to his own mum’s grave and used them to mop the stone clean. He wiped and wiped until it was as clean as could be. The little green plastic vase of pretty flowers had been knocked over and cracked when he was strangling the life out of the man. Ben straightened it up and took the new flowers out of his pocket. A tiny posy of daisies he had picked himself this morning. Then he knelt next to her and gave the stone a kiss.

“I’m sorry mum.”

It began raining.

Homeless

A graveyard. A dark night.

“He’ll be deid.” a hushed raspy voice.

“Gie him another ten minutes, make sure he’s out.” a voice like gravel.

“Fuck it lets just roll him now.”

“No, wait. No yet.”

They were no more than 12 feet away, behind one of the larger gravestones that served as upright pillows for the living damned, but the voices carried in the still autumn night. Fra lay perfectly still. Foetal position. His back to the voices but ready to turn any second. Clutching his knife close to his chest and playing out scenes of chaos in his head.

“You got any fags left?”

“Here. Leave me twos.”

The scratch and click of a lighter. The deep intensity of that first inhale. Fra imagined what they looked like. Big, unshaven, unkind. Mercenaries against the weak. He knew he had to get out of here. The black of the night was punctuated by the orange glow of the lampposts that surrounded the graveyard like sentinels keeping the darkness in. The darkness that was supposed to provide sanctuary.

“That bag looks stuffed full.”

“Aye, wee man’s got plenty.”

“Probably got cash, looks fresh.”

“Gimme that fag.”

Fra instinctively moved his hand towards his left foot. His money was wrapped up and tucked in. He had about twenty pounds left. Hiding it felt pointless now. These men would take it and everything else in his keep bag and his carry bag too. He was scared to move too much. If they knew he was awake they would come for him right now. At least if they were speaking about it they weren’t doing it. He imagined his knife slipping into them. Up and under the ribs, the long thin blade penetrating and panicking them, forcing them away. Or slashing at their faces, the sudden heat from the warm blood on their cheeks, would it be enough to deter them? What would be better?

“Come on man let’s just take him.”

“I dinny want to fight him.”

“Just fucking gut him then.”

The fear was absolute. Spreading out from his throat and down through his chest. Hitting his stomach like a cut pint glass and churning inside him. He resisted the urge to retch. Eyes scanning his surroundings for hope. The thick old oak trees of the grave yard reminding him suddenly of being a child. Playing by the tiny trickling burn near his family home. Laughing and splashing in the water. A million lifetimes ago when happiness was absolute and guaranteed and all it needed was some sunshine and some friends. How he ached now for that feeling again.

“I’m dying on a shite.”

“Fucking what?”

“I need to go man.”

“You’ll wait 5 minutes. Let’s do this.”

He had to move. Checking the straps on his keep bag around his shoulders and eyeing up the wall of the graveyard. It was close and there was a large stone tomb he could easily get up onto. His carry bag would have to be left behind. His shoes were always tied tight. Take a deep breath. Count to three. One, two …

“I’m going for a shite. I’m gonna shit masel!”

“Fucksake. Do it over there ya dirty bastard.”

He could hear Raspy Voice moving. Careful steps taking him further away. This was his chance. There was only one of them. He silently folded his blade and slide it into his jacket. Real slow. His carry bag was under his head. Taking it would slow him down but it was all his clothes and his photos were in there. They should have been in the keep bag. That was a mistake.

A grunt and a delicate splashing pitter patter of crap in the near distance. Fra got on his feet in one movement, let his blanket fall and grabbed his carry bag, moving away, keeping low. Deep voice wouldn’t be able to see him from here. A head start would help. He crept towards the wall. Looking up at the moths dancing and dodging around the warm sodium street lights. Fra longed for the peace and warmth those moths had.

“Cunts running!”

“What?”

“Come on!”

Run run run run towards the grey tombstone with the aged religious relief. He knew he could scramble up. Loud footfalls behind him. Now on grass. Now on stone. Getting closer. Fear gave way to survival. Raw and dangerous. When any animal in the night with teeth can kill. Fra could kill, in that instant he knew it without doubt.

“Come on!”

There was still only one of them.

Fra reached the wall and threw his carry bag over and sprang onto the warm stone tomb. His fingertips finding a faded virgin Mary. His toes clinging to a decaying dais that was once a widow’s catharsis, now a climbing frame for a vagrant’s survival. The buzz of the orange lamp so close. The dance of the moths like night time fairies performing just for him as his fingernails ripped and he climbed, climbed towards heaven and salvation and light. His hand reached onto the top of the wall. One big push to get up and over and away. His hand dug deep into the sharp shards of broken glass that had been cemented into the wall years ago to keep his kind out.

Instant pain and understanding. Fra couldn’t hold in a cry. Blood came quickly and ran down to his fingers. He fell back onto the hard, flat stone below. Staggered to his feet and turned to face his challenger.

Standing panting after such brief exertion. The cool air burning his lungs. Deep Voice stood in front of him. Stoic and still. Somehow Fra expected a grin. Like a cartoon villain who revels in wrongdoing. This man didn’t grin. He looked devoid of emotion. Looked like it would mean nothing to him if any of them lived or died. Blood dripped from Fras bent fingers onto the slab under his feet. Filling the carved words that defined the life of a man long dead. They stood in slow complete silence. A loud fart and a flurry of slurry onto already wet grass. Raspy Voice was too preoccupied to join this fight.

“I’m no gonna hurt you.”

Fra stared back at him. the complete lack of menace more fearsome than any threat of violence.

“I’ve got nothing.”

“ye’ve got your health and your legs lad. Be grateful for that.”

“I don’t want to fight.”

“you’re no gonnae. Be clever.”

“I’ve got fuck all!”

“then it’s no gonnae hurt to lose it, is it?”

The gate was too far. He would never be able to run past this man. The wall was too dangerous now. One handed, over glass. It couldn’t be done. Blood dripped by his side. Warm in his palm but cool by the time it dripped off his fingers. The folding knife was right there in his jacket. His good hand held it tight. Bad hand started to sting. Adrenaline wearing off. It started to throb. How long till agony? His hand tightened around the knife. What to do? Pull it out, blade out. One motion. There wouldn’t be time for a mistake.

“Is it worth it lad? For a few measly quid? What is your life worth?”

Drippy sticky wet shit sprayed out again in the dark distance. Deep Voice turned to shout at his accomplice.

“Fuckin hell man you no done yet!” The world changed forever.

Fra moved forward at the same time as he drew the knife. His bad hand gripping the blade and opening the knife as he lunged. His good hand lifting the knife out and up as he leaned down. Deep voice turned his head back towards him. too late to dodge out of the way. Raising his own weapon ready to strike but too late again as Fra slammed the knife full force into his lower leg. The thin filthy tracksuit bottoms tearing like expensive silk as the point of the blade entered his flesh. The folding knife’s blade sprang back onto Fras fingers. Deep Voice roared. Fra pulled his hand away but the blade sliced up his fingers. The dull metal not sharp enough to slice right through but enough to make a rough rugged cut. Deep Voice drove down hard with his own knife. Down into the back of Fras neck.

The blade was the cleanest thing Deep Voice owned. The flesh gave way so easily to the hard shining steel. There was hardly any blood at first. It was so clean.

Fra didn’t even make a sound.

Falling forward. Face down on the grass, surrounded by the peaceful dead.

His throat gave a gentle gurgle like a burn in the summer. With midges everywhere and children playing and raspberry brambles in the thickets.

Fra heard himself dying.

Life wasn’t worth shit.

Tourist

She wore a long wraparound top with loose trousers underneath, like so many of the other travellers. Designer glasses on her head and a long tacky glass bead necklace were all that stood between her and no accessories whatsoever. This truly was a place of adventure.

The market was bustling with friendly locals and eager tourists. She allowed the throngs to carry her this way and that. Not looking at anything in particular and no plans to buy anything at all, unless it was cute.

She could see other members of the tour group scattered around, haggling with stall holders, eating exotic fried insects or other things the locals found would sell. A troop of children ran by laughing and jostling each other and careless of anyone in their path. They bumped her and surrounded her and were away again. She laughed at their backs.

The sun was beaming down from its azure kingdom; everything was bathed in light and bright and beautiful. An old man smiled at her and proffered whatever he was selling. A polite smile and shake of the head was enough here. She wandered on with the crowd. Enjoying the smell of the pipe smoke that constantly clouded the men.

The phone buzzing by her side turned out to be a phantom vibration. Her hand went to her pocket and the panic at finding it empty was immediate. Her hands moved from one pocket to another desperately searching but she knew it was gone. She looked around the market place. As if it would offer an answer. The laughing kids, the friendly vendors, the smiling tourists, none admitted to taking it.

It would not ruin the day she persisted, but was unable to shake off the sense that something had spoiled this perfect place.  She arrived at a large covered arcade with brass lamps swaying by the entranceway and a scent of jasmine and lemongrass enticing her. Inside were far fewer tourists and her eyes struggled to adjust to the relative darkness. She walked on by mysterious shops selling god knows what and the stares from the shopkeepers were less smiling, more eager. She kept her eyes down and moved onwards. An old lady crouched by a wall and rocked back and forth chanting to herself in a mumbling mantric drone, a pipe smoking in her hand.

She increased her step, looking for a way out now, looking left and right for an exit from this depressing den. Each way she searched looked the same. Rows of crowded clustering stalls and dull hanging lamps. Staring eyes and ugly unwelcoming expressions. She glanced back over her shoulder looking to retrace her steps. The crowd blocked out any light or hope of egress and the unfriendly eyes of those behind her urged her onwards and away from them.

The old woman droned on, just audible above the stifling din. Panic began to claw at her, where was the way out of here? She strode on, trying not to hurry or look harried, desperate to stay calm, this was a holiday. She turned a corner into another endless avenue of shop fronts and foul faces. Here there were only men. Sitting or squatting at low tables drinking tea from tiny cups and smoking those godawful pipes. All eyes came up to meet hers, there were no smiles here, the teeth only showed to sneer.

She was wishing her head was covered, she was wishing she had stayed with the group. Her eyes found the floor and she took a sharp left down a narrower alley. She had to get away from those men. The smell was worse, mixed now with urine and poultry and the complete lack of fresh air. She passed a tiny girl cradling a baby who babbled at her incoherently as she tracked her with her red eyes. She dodged puddles of piss and empty upturned baskets on top of others full of chickens and other animals. On each dark curtains shielded god only knows what from her sight.

A dull light was just around the next corner. She was drawn to it like a desperate moth to its blissful death. The air was so dense here, she struggled to breathe. She rounded the corner, her hands clinging to the bare broken bricks and was immediately face to face with a large bearded man. He spat words of disapproval at her. Another man appeared at his side. They approached as she backed away stuttering apologies and longing to be as far away from this place as possible. She backed into another man, just like the others, plain robes and dark hair and eyes. He started shouting at her. Louder than the first had.

Surrounded now and delirious with heat and panic she took off her necklace. Offering it to them. Trying to buy freedom or a moment to think. Someone grabbed her arm. Another hand on the other side. Screaming now. The necklace ripped apart spilling beads across the dirty ground. She tried to pull away but they forced her forward. She stumbled and they pulled at her again half dragging her. Her legs kicking, her lungs bursting with the effort. The young girl with the baby watched her wordlessly as the men shoved passed towards one of the darker curtained areas. They pulled the black sheet to the side and dragged her through into the black. she kicked one of them in the crotch, he cursed and immediately slapped her hard across the face. She cried out again. The little girl started crying and received the same back handed slap, it reeled her onto the floor where she stayed, eyes down, the baby quiet too.

The biggest of the men grabbed her roughly by the neck and pushed her forwards against the wall. Pinning her against the grimy brick. Tears streamed as she gasped soundless sobs. She could feel him standing right behind her, his stinking breath invading her. His hand appeared above her head, the black hair on his hand contrasting the plain gold rings of his fingers as they wrapped around another black curtain and pulled it aside. He shoved her roughly out into the blinding light of the outdoor market. Barking at her, berating her loudly. She fell in a heap on the ground. The people of the market looked on and laughed at the scene. The tourists stared, not laughing, not sure. The little gang of children trooped past her again. The big man grabbed the smallest child, murmuring something at him. The tiny hand reached into a pocket and handed over her mobile phone. The man tossed it to her and re-entered the darkened arcade laughing. The curtain closing at his back.

Thief

This place was perfect. Not too big to have cameras all over it, big enough that they must be rich. Far enough from the road to be quiet and dark. Not so far as to have guard dogs or flood lights.

He’d watched it for a few days, it was a quiet place and he knew everyone was in bed. He threw his hood up and slipped over the wall. Landing gently under a large oak that would help him get out if all went to plan. If the plan failed, he would get out the front gate at full sprint.

Mary’s voice was in his head. Had to get rid of it. No distractions.

He stole over the large lawn. His eyes on the windows on the top floor, zero movement, it was good. A quick try on the lock of the sliding glass door let him straight in to the kitchen. The door left slightly open behind him. He immediately crouched behind a large dining table and surveyed the scene, letting his eyes adjust. A gentle breeze stirred the net curtain to show him the exit.

He got to work. Silently sliding open drawers and doors in the dining room. Looking for anything small but valuable. His back pack filled slowly with the usual items. Satnav, mobile phone, a man’s wristwatch, all dropped softly into the towel and half wrapped, noiseless. A locked gun cabinet in the study opened to reveal a selection of handguns and rifles. He selected the two nicest looking handguns and closed it again. After 10 minutes the whole downstairs was gently ransacked. Time to go.

Back now through the large hallway to the kitchen and past the tall staircase. A light came on. He froze. It was upstairs. Tiny footsteps. He didn’t breathe. A large solid steel baby gate covered the top of the steps. A small boy walked past into the bathroom, another light on, an extractor fan hummed. Long thin bars of light leapt from the gate down the stairs to where he crouched. Time to go.

Slowly through the living room again towards the kitchen. The white net still waving him to the way out, to the night. He listened for the light clicking off, footsteps led back to the child’s room.  The fan stopped humming. Another sound was there. The front door. A key scraping? An explosion of splintering wood. Two black clad men like returning warlords, dark masks and shotguns. He dove to the floor beside the long couch. Heavy boots trooped straight up the stairs. Thundering into a bedroom. Two loud blasts shook the house. The neighbourhood would be awake. A woman’s scream. Another blast. The scream just stopped. Time to go!

Onto his feet and ducking from no one’s eyes he crouched and ran to the kitchen. The white net curtain ripped to one side and through. The large oak like a living ladder ahead of him. He was up in one two steps and onto the wall. Astride it he paused, risking a glance back. From here he could see a black four-wheel drive in the road, could hear the engine idling, a driver waiting. The pause led to thought. Dropping from the wall into the road would mean being seen. Staying on the wall would risk being seen. Going back in the garden would mean back towards the men but the cover of the trees… Details of such importance should not be agonised over such short seconds. His eyes never left the driver in the vehicle. Movement at the house. The little boy. He was standing on the inside of an upstairs window. No lights were on. The boy fumbled with the handle of the window. The thief slid back onto the ground.

Directly below one of the masked men stepped through the sliding door. The white net wrapping over his black mask turning him ghost grey. Shotgun by his side. The boy opened the window, stepping out onto the ledge. The murderer looked up. Stepped out onto the patio raising his gun. The thief dipped his hand into the bag, his fingers curled around the handle of a gun. The boy looked down, eyes widening.

They paused.

The thief watched, gripping the tree that was protecting him from being part of the scene.

“No.”  Hardly a whisper.

The murderer swung, looking directly at him. Their eyes locked. The boy looked too, leaning too far forward and slipping on the ledge, falling, falling.

The boy hit the concrete with barely a sound. The gunman ripped his mask off and fell to his knees cradling the boy. Sirens in the distance getting louder. The second masked man appeared at the door. Staring at the unmoving boy. Noticing the thief, barely acknowledging him by raising the gun so slowly.

The thief bounced up the tree, the murdering man picked up the unmoving boy and carefully carried him around the house. Holding him close. The other walked behind, watching the thief in the tree, he watched back.

He landed on the pavement as the car sped off.  Flashing blue lights exploded into the trees and he melted into the night. Mary was going to be pissed.

 

 

 

 

 

Nun-ra 2 – God Speed

Sister Mary Joseph pulled the club out of Father O Malley’s neck. Blood was everywhere. His body slumped on top of his old acquaintance, they often “worked” together, now there were dead together. Still she felt nothing, no joy no relief, nothing.

She stood still, surveying the gentle carnage. The red stained the brilliant white of the alter cloths and the cold grey of the granite steps as it poured endlessly down. There were 10 pints of blood in a human and it covered an incredible surface area. These two were barely human though, undeserving of the word, monsters was more suitable, and they deserved death.

Pulling a cigarette from her sleeve she lit it up and drew a long slow pull of the sweet smoke. Her eyes moving as she did, her mind calculating her next move. It had to be fast. She didn’t have long. She exhaled through her nose and dropped the cigarette casually to the floor, half-finished after one puff, she crushed it out under her black hobnailed boot.

Her club was still dripping with globs of blood. She dipped it into the pool that was growing at the bottom of the altar steps. Swung it around and started writing on the large white pillar that was by the side of the aisle. Drips and drops of blood went everywhere; it was a blood spatter experts dream, she thought, or nightmare, depends how close to the edge they are. Maybe that was what the difference was, between the bad people that do bad things and the bad people that just think about it. The ones that do the bad things, they are concerned about how they see the world. The ones that just think about it, they are more concerned about how the world sees them. That fear of being judged or caught or punished is what keeps them in line, stops them doing the things that lurk in the darkness of their minds.

Some people, she thought, as she looked again at the piles of flesh that were once men, some people couldn’t hold it down though, couldn’t suppress that darkness. These were the people that made nightmares for the rest of us. She suppressed the urge to spit on the vile bodies of the pair as she dipped the end of her club again into the puddle of blood. It was already starting to congeal around the edges and was stickier now. She dragged the club across the pillar again. She felt like a Japanese calligraphy artist, using all the strength in her wrist to steady the club as she wrote with a flourish.

In the still and quiet of the lifeless church she always felt her peace. When she was alone in the house of God she could truly believe. It was a rare feeling and a welcome one. She knew a higher power was controlling her. Her actions and her thoughts were her own but she was doing God’s work.

She finished writing and stood leaning on her club for a moment while she surveyed her work. It should have been satisfying, like a labourer after a hard day looking back and feeling proud of what was achieved while simultaneously glad it was over. Instead she felt nothing. She removed another cigarette from the recesses of her sleeve and lit it up. Calmly cleaning her club with a perfect white handkerchief that she found somewhere about her person. She seemed to have an endless supply of them. Quietly polishing the nails and barbs that protruded from her club she again looked over what she had done today. Still no joy or guilt, no feelings at all, feelings had been taken away from her a long time ago.

Suddenly sirens.

In the distance, but certainly heading this way, Sister Mary Joseph didn’t doubt that at all, she had called them. She finished polishing the club, took a final drag of the cigarette and pinged it behind the altar towards the anteroom, where the cans of petrol she had brought and poured around for the very purpose quickly caught. The majority of the old stone building would be unharmed. But the small wooden anteroom would definitely go up. She glanced at it again. Watching the handle as it shook violently. He would start screaming any second.

“Sister Mary! Please! Have Mercy!” The voice shouted.

“Only God can give you mercy now.” She said quietly, maybe to herself.

The screaming started. The flames climbed higher and harder. The door shook as boots on the other side kicked. There was no point. That was the first thing she had checked. The door would hold.

The sirens grew louder.

She dropped the white handkerchief into the coagulated puddle by her feet as she swung the club over her shoulder and strode out the side door.

One word was painted red on the pillar.

Sinners.

The End.

Thursday – The ongoing adventures of Call Centre Man

Thursday, last bastion of hope. Make it past today and the weekend is yours.

Mose walked into the call centre and found his chair. Not his own chair of course. A good chair was like gold dust in here and the night shift were notorious chair stealers and head set swappers. Why wouldn’t they be? They have nothing else to do all night. Sitting there on their takeaway-getting-backsides with their mighty uplift and minimal workload, God, how he envied them.

So Mose danced the dance of the Crappy Office Chair. Seeking out a good one without looking too much like he was a chair stealer, finding one that was suitable, he sat down and started going through the motions.

Yesterday had been quiet, normally a good thing in a place like this but it seemed empty. Quiet was good when there was a lot going on elsewhere in your life. Sometimes action was to be preferred, even if that action led to the unknown, maybe especially when it did.

He hadn’t drawn a thing yesterday. All day he had sat and looked at his pad. He had managed a few little scribbles but nothing really. No eyes, no hands. No characters, certainly no monsters.

As he plugged himself into the machine and took out his pad and pencil he, again, came to a realisation. Do I want to spend every day repeating the same mundane actions and spewing out the same boring words as the day before? Was it time for a change? What if Today wasn’t like yesterday. What if Today I insist on something new happening, no matter what?

Mose decided in that instant that he wasn’t going to settle for repetition any more. He cracked open his pad and began to draw. Nothing in particular, just anything his hand wanted to do. He hit the GO READY button on his computer and started taking the phone calls that paid his bills. As he talked to the customers and listened to their pointless complaints his hand drew on his pad. Animals and insects and people and forests and mountains, he flipped page after page and just kept on drawing. It didn’t really matter what he was drawing, he knew what he wanted to happen. He took call after call waiting for the voice, the voice that had called him on Tuesday and shaken his world and stopped him being able to think of anything else since then, the voice that sounded like it was from another world.

He drew furiously, scribbling sometimes and paying more attention to detail other times but constantly drawing something. His workmates around him didn’t pay him any attention, or if they did he didn’t see it. He sat there through his break, through his lunch, not eating anything, sipping from his water bottle now and then when the endless chatter and insincere platitudes that he spouted at the customers got stuck in his throat. He drew ferociously, beasts of all shapes and sizes. Hunters and warriors and gods he drew. He drew from his memory and he drew from his imagination. He drew planets and space ships and solar systems and galaxies and they all blurred on his page they all drifted into one image that never ceased moving in front of him.

The clock must have moved that day but if it did he didn’t notice it. There was a pile of pencil shavings on his desk next to him and page after page of his pad was filled from end to end with images. He drew until his hand ached and he never felt the pain. All he could think about was that voice. He pressed harder, leaning in as he shaded his latest creation and felt the top of his pencil snap. He looked down at it. Reached for his sharpener as he glanced at the clock, 5 minutes to go, he had been drawing all day.

The voice hadn’t called.

He sharpened his pencil again. The tenth time today.

The phone didn’t beep. It had been a nonstop day. Call after call but now, finally, with a few minutes left to go some respite, time to actually think.

Mose looked at all he had drawn, flipping through the pages. There must have been hundreds of them. Some crude, some more detailed but each with something on them, every page covered in something. Are these alive now? Did these creatures and people and objects he had drawn exist somewhere? Or was he just going more quickly mad than everyone else.

All he had wanted all day was that call.

There was one page left in the pad. He folded it over and smoothed it down.

It had to be worth a try.

He blew the dust off his pencil and started to doodle, a large old fashioned telephone, and next to it, in large chunky letters across the last page in the pad.

CALL ME 268587

Silence. The phone still didn’t beep. The clock ticked around. The second hand sweeping towards its destination, the place Mose usually sat and prayed for it to reach without a call coming through. This time he wanted nothing more than the call. All he wanted in the world was for the phone to ring right now and the voice to be on the end of the line and an adventure to begin. Surely there had to be something out there. He ripped off the paper and held it up close to his face, closed his eyes.

The phone beeped.

“Mose? Is it you?” The voice wavered.

He could hardly believe it. Had it actually happened? Had it actually worked?

“It’s me. Its Mose.”

“Mose, we…”

The line went dead.

His eyes shot open.
Philanthropia was standing there, the paper was in her hand, and she was smiling at Mose.

“Hmm maybe, let’s see what tomorrow brings.” She smiled again, turned and walked away.

Wednesday – The ever continuing adventures of call centre man.

Yesterday had been weird. Mose knew well what a normal day was supposed to be like and yesterday wasn’t it. For a start he had forgotten to take his borocca in the morning and then there was the thing with the beings from another dimension coming to life and him having to kill a rampaging monster with his pencil. All in all it had been a weird one.

He decided that the best way was to put it behind him. Forget it had ever happened and focus on today.

Wednesday, hump day. Get over Wednesday and the weekend is almost here. It was a funny way to live he reflected, always just trying to get through another day, just trying to survive until tomorrow. Until you reach whatever tomorrow you are waiting for then start the whole process again. It didn’t occur to Mose that there was maybe a better way. There probably wasn’t. Someone would have noticed it by now. Maybe they would discover one tomorrow.

So he sat at his desk and jacked himself into his computer, put his headset on and got ready for action, going through the same robotic routines that he went through every day.

A few of his colleagues gave him a sideways look or two. It was something he was pretty used to. He had never been a normal person. It was something he was vaguely proud of. Normal was far from interesting wasn’t it, although not too abnormal of course. Stand out from the crowd by all means but don’t stand out too far, someone might notice you.

Mose smiled awkwardly at his workmates. There was little chit chat in a call centre – ironic probably. A room full of people that were paid to speak but they hardly ever spoke to each other. By the time break came it was more desirable to have silence, sitting and waiting for whatever little tomorrow got you through the next spell.

Mose picked up his pencil and pad. He always kept them next to him. Drawing kept him sane. However after yesterday’s…events… he wasn’t sure if drawing was a good idea. He put them away in his drawer.

Philanthropia walked past.

Philanthropia.

She was one of the best things about this job. Mose looked forward to seeing her every day. Not talking to her of course, talking to girls was for normal people and Americans. He could just admire her from afar in a non-stalky way and hope she talks to him eventually. The long game, not as assured of success as other techniques but it had always not worked for him in the past.

“Not drawing today?” Philanthropia said.

This was a new thing. Say something! Say something intelligent or at least well thought out. Pretend to have banter and be using it now. Pretty much any words would do as long as they are actual words. Just an acknowledgement of what she has said. Perhaps start with a little nod. Nothing too strenuous. The important part was to reply.

Mose nodded and pointed at his drawer where his paper and pad were now stowed.

“Gonna draw now.” He managed.

It was one up from “Mose draw now.” at least.

Sadly Philanthropia was nowhere near to hear it and by this time had already walked away. Dejected but not defeated Mose pulled out his pad and pen again. Maybe he could keep on drawing. Maybe yesterday had been a figment of his imagination. He hadn’t been sleeping so well. It could have been a dream or a reaction to over tiredness, which is kind of the same thing.

One thing was for certain. It’s impossible for scribbly drawings on a piece of paper to come alive. That was basic stuff. It was so understood that it couldn’t happen that no one even bothered to tell you it couldn’t happen it was just known automatically. It didn’t need saying out loud. It would be like saying, “hey did you know fish can’t fly?” it would be stupid.

Mose eyed his pad of paper warily. Every day for years he had come in and sat down and started drawing and working, the two had always gone hand in hand for him. He wasn’t about to stop now just because some nonsense figment of his imagination had come to life. That would be like letting the terrorists win.

He picked up his pen. Clicked the GO READY button on his computer screen and opened his pad.

It was a blank page.

Which, he reminded himself is exactly what he was expecting to see. Also he wasn’t disappointed to see the page blank. Not disappointed at all.

He sighed anyway.

The phone beeped. He started working.

As usual.