Posts Tagged ‘writing’

My friends, I would like to share with you something I found on my hard drive. I wrote it some time ago. Can you guess what my muse was at the time? The results my surprise you…by how obvious it was…

Cause and effect
the massive infinite
of the Mesopotamian nightmare
a wielding spiral that disagrees with you
and causes nothing but goats

Welcome to a nightmare of fair game
the strength of a nation that holds its own
orange
disguised in folly and wrinkled in athletic capabilities

Satisfied entirely by words

Harsh
harsh diamonds and creative endeavours
the spinach speech pattern
of a regular life in Delaware
tortoise shelled
and overnight

The crazies that…

Words fail me

It runs on strength but not on power
and the steam that rises
like a kettle distillery
runs dry and fruitless like an aubergine tank
and it’s this that we love and despise

Dear mothers,
dear fathers,
dear children who grow and play
this is exactly what happens
when you drink
and try to
write
poetry…

Leave a comment (and some words of pity)

Sometimes I have to stop and remind myself that, “Holy shit…I’ve written a book,” which sounds really cool until certain realisations come to light. I’m unbelievably proud of what I’ve done, but now I’m at the stage where I have a first draft, I keep wondering where I go from here.

“To the pub,” was obviously my immediate response. Then I realised that the sight of a semi-drunken man beaming a smile of accomplishment across his face as he edits his project in public sort of invites minor injuries.  After all, who was it who said “Write drunk, edit sober”? Was it you? If so, well done. Let me pat you on the beret.

Writers have these, don't they?

Writers have these, don’t they?

What’s weird is, it doesn’t feel quite like I’ve written a book. Like, someone is going to come along at some point and tell me I’m missing something. I think it’s because I have a lot of trouble writing long passages and scenes. I started off doing short horror stories (well, technically I started off writing poetry as a teenager, but we shan’t go into that because the words ‘poetry’ and ‘teenager’ do not inspire positive images), so maybe I just became used to writing succinctly. Writing a whole book is vastly different and it’s something I’ve tried over and over for nearly a decade now.

At 44,000 words, I’m plagued by this idea that Passing Phases (that’s the title…quick, everyone start trending it on Twitter) is not big enough to be classed as a full-blown novel. Don’t get me wrong, the mere fact I got this far fills me with such pride I sometimes wonder if I should join the circus as a one-man towel rack. Has anyone else ever felt like this? (Not the towel business…that’s my own fantasy) Have you ever, say, directed a short film and thought “Nah, this isn’t a film. Films aren’t done this way”?

I think it being a ghostwritten book as well sort of makes it seem different. Yeah, of course there are plenty of books out there written by anonymous authors, so why do I sometimes have to keep telling myself that Passing Phases (Seriously, get that shit trending) is – or at least, will be – a proper book type thing?

It’s been lying dormant on my hard drive since last August. I’ve only just started re-opening it to carry on with edits. Maybe I just want to skip forward to the point where it gets published and – secret incantations being effective – sells quite well.

But I am excited. The guy I wrote it for has even managed to generate a little bit of interest from one or two publishers. It seems like it’s slowly coming back into existence after sitting still next to folders suspiciously labelled ‘The not-boobs directory’…Again, I’m really pleased about the prospect of someone maybe considering the manuscript, but I also feel a bit of a fraud.

Why would you even need to wear a mask on the internet..?

Why would you even need to wear that..?

I read stories about writers churning away night after night on their manuscript. Then editing it several times, writing query letters and sending them off to potential agents and publishers. Apart from emailing a few agents, I haven’t done any of that. So I’m struck by this notion that I’m not doing it right. Maybe other writers will read this and turn their noses up at the page in disgust…which means they won’t be able to read this next bit where I tell them they probably smell bad and their mothers have questionable morals.

In conclusion you lovely, shiny people: I wrote a book, currently unpublished. I’m extremely happy with how it’s turned out, but this is all new to me so I don’t know how else to feel…

Leave a comment

While it’s not really justifiable for me to seem overly relieved to be moving on from a night job seeing as I’ve only been doing it for around eight months, it’s still nice to be know that now the twilights can be reserved for their intended purpose – solving crimes and peeing in people’s empty milk bottles – rather than for being at work. There are people who I’ve been working with who have been doing it for well over a decade after all. While I haven’t hated it as such there has been this feeling throughout that, just maybe, human beings should not be staying up throughout the night and sleeping in the day. It doesn’t seem…I don’t know…natural.

I am not a surgeon. Nor so I have clock face. This image is not an accurate representation of myself...

I am not a surgeon. Nor do I have clock face. This image is not an accurate representation of myself…

No, the reason for my sudden elation that you’re all picking up on and hence why you’ll be shitting rainbows this evening, is because as of Monday I begin a new job. Full time. Working days. Switching back to days is going to be nice and everything but this generally wouldn’t be nearly as exciting if it wasn’t for the fact that my new job will officially label me as a ‘paid writer’…

Friends and fair maidens know that this is pretty much what I’ve been gunning after for several years now. From my job interview with GamesTM magazine to making desperate phone calls to local newspapers scoping for work it’s nice to know that finally someone has deemed me worthy enough to drop money in my bank account each month as I type-ety type-type for them.

But I fear I must pull in the reins just slightly. While I am over the oddly spherical silver thing that hangs in the sky at night (it’s been a while since I’ve seen it properly) this isn’t writing quib, witty jokes for The New York Times. Nor will I be working with a team of writers on a new up-and-coming sitcom about a horse that can drive a tractor (hang on, shut up for a second I want to write that down…) What I will be doing is a bit more shirt ‘n’ trousers. I will be an official copywriter. While it may not sound fancy and glamorous it’s not as sales-y or ‘spammy’ as you first might expect. And quite frankly if you think being a writer is glamorous in any industry allow me to present you with this bucket of sand. Consider it an acquaintance for your head…

I left the bucket of sand under this here rock...

I left the bucket of sand under this here rock…

This new job is definitely on the right tracks but if you were to ask me about where I want to take this I’m not sure how I would be able to answer. Because your mouth would be full of sand. While I have plans on the side too I’ve always maintained two things when it comes to settling into a job:

1) I’ve been determined to make a career out of writing in some way or another
2) I genuinely believe I would be happier in a job that pays enough but is interesting and uses my talents, rather than a job that has an enormous salary but is excruciatingly boring and soulless

This new job certainly fits the first criteria. Will it conform to the second? Let me the answer that question with the magic of time travel…give me a week or so…

Leave a comment

…For I have a Best Man Speech to write, ladies and gentleducks. Yeah you heard me right: BEST man speech. I am the Best Man. THE GREATEST MAN IN THE WORLD! As I have come to interpret it.

Okay okay okay, enough tomfoolery. No, seriously I am writing a Best Man Speech at the moment. This entry is merely a break from that and not in the least bit because I’ve hit an empty spot in my head that should have been filled with witty and masculine best man one-liners. Apparently such a spot has been left vacant so here I am using all my word count to update my blog.

The thing is, you’d think I’d be able to conjure up hundreds of anecdotes and heavily filtered stories for the groom, seeing as he’s, you know, my brother and all. I know, I’m a crappy sibling. Like the time I accidentally broke my brother’s front tooth with a plate. Ooh, that’s good…I’m writing that one down. [ABSENCE OF WRITING SOUNDS]

See, I know there’s going to be a lot of pressure on me to be funny. And that isn’t speculation on my part either; my sister has actually said to me that “Heh, you’re funny you. It’s going to be a funny speech this. I can’t wait…Funny” Yeah, great. Funny. I can do funny. Look at me…being all funny and what-not. Oh I’ll certainly make every effort but with my audience consisting of my Nan, several small and easily corrupted children and my Nan it’s going to be a tough gig. And seeing as how the vast majority of my jokes involve penises that go into places penises don’t normally go I’m sort of up a certain watery body without the correct paddling equipment. (I’m shit at expressions too)

But it’s not all bad. It is, in fact, quite an honour to be given the task of warming the guests up. I’ll get to toast my brother and his new wife, quaff champagne the way working class people do whenever they’re presented with expensive alcohol. But until that point I am just digressing. I must get back to preparing this speech. I wonder how many vagina jokes I can get past my god-fearing Nan? I reckon twenty-six…

"Vaginas. They're good aren't they?" [MANY SOUNDS OF WRITING]

“Vaginas. They’re good aren’t they?” [MANY SOUNDS OF WRITING]

Leave a comment

Who knows when and how my life changed. I’d never done anything like this before and while I was almost certain that it was what I wanted at the time, as the hours passed keen optimism somehow transformed Franz Kafka-style into guilt yet somehow I was still sat there in a hotel suite slurping red wine like it was a Japanese tea drinking ritual. Only with greater speed and less inner peace.

I counted it again. It didn’t feel like money anymore. The notes were just cut-out shapes made from paper. Their value had decreased and no matter how neatly I stacked them on the bedside table they may as well have been crushed leaves ready to go in a child’s scrapbook. I inspected one of the notes between my finger and thumb, turning it and bending it like they were clean underwear fresh from the dryer. They were far from clean. Metaphorically I mean. And the money…not the underpants.

I walked around the room taking in the new sights and smells the way you do when you visit a friend’s home for the first time. You look at the photos on the mantelpiece; the bargain bin artwork on the walls. You sit down on a couch made from some material your arse is not familiar with. And you decline all offers of hot drinks and ceremonial biscuits. Because you’re just that cool. God, why did I book such a fancy room? Dark, wood panelling? Electronic blinds? Two bedside lamps? What the hell was I thinking?! Looking around it didn’t feel like a hotel room. It felt like a culmination of forty hours spent at work so I could afford this evening. That’s all.

So what was I doing there? Ask my wife. Actually, no don’t. She’s the very last person who needed to know about my reasons for being there. And her mother. Both of whom are not so much capable of murder as they are one wrong move away from creating a real life revenge film. Complete with low budget camera effects for grittiness. Ever seen Hard Candy? Good, you know where I’m coming from then. It’s that old cliché I’m afraid: you reach a crisis point in your life where you think ‘is this what it’s going to be like from now on?’ You have every control over your own destiny yet there you are contemplating life-crushing questions. So you end up sat on the edge of an expensive king size mattress, confessing your sins to a bottle of Shiraz and waiting for the escort you hired.

I reached over to the money again and counted it. Again. One hundred and fifty exact. Just paper with squiggles and patterns. Nearly half a week’s wages. And it was no longer mine. By contrast one hundred and fifty pounds was comparatively cheap for an escort. Obviously I had to pay any last remnants of my dignity as a down payment but still it could have been worse. Worse? While my wife sat at home with the foreknowledge that I was away on a colleague training scheme I was moments away from handing over enough notes to spread out into a rudimentary period drama fan. Which, given the sweat oozing from my forehead would have been a more appropriate use of the money. So how could it have gotten worse? Scratch that. How could I have been a worse person?

So what of my wife and the tragic circumstances I found myself in? I loved her, of course. I wouldn’t speak of her with such frequency – or, indeed, fear – if I didn’t love her. Our years spent together were almost boringly happy. There were no real sudden events that lead me to be sat on a feather-stuffed duvet with the only thing stopping shame from emanating out my pores being the clothes on my back. We were childless, thankfully. That somehow alleviated a small portion of the guilt. And it was a choice thing. Neither of us had knackered genitals or anything. My balls are healthy, thank you for asking. Her mother did have a tendency to call my ability to father a child into question. Sometimes during meals. Other times at less appropriate locations. Funeral processions for example. The venue didn’t really matter to her.

‘Raisin prick’ I believe was the expression; somehow implying that as the years went on and I ceased to rear a child my genitals would somehow give up and shrivel inwards like a piece of dried fruit. Bless that woman.

No, my shame sprung from a sudden realisation I think a lot of couples feel eventually: detachment. With ever increasing demand to work more hours from both participants the evening couch cuddles became less of a way to unwind after work and more of a liaison that required prior booking and the crossing out of important dates in our planners. We both swanned off with barely a text message to warn the other. The irony being that I began to suspect she may have been seeing other people behind my back. Who marks important meetings in their diaries by dotting their i’s with cute little hearts? I ask you.

I heard a knock at my door. It was gentle but purposeful, like a loud whisper that’s meant to be discreet but public. I looked over at the money that I had unwittingly fanned out on the table. With a new tremble in my limbs I tipped the rest of the wine into my mouth not bothering to savour anything but the sour taste of this moment. I was glad I’d bought two more bottles. Expensive ones too. Again I ask: why?

As I approached the door I had images of seeing my wife in a boob-tube stood on the other side, her diary in her hand and a list of male names crossed off with me on the bottom like the last pick for a school football team. My hands now clammy I reached for the handle and released the door from its frame. There, out on the hotel hallway, with fishnet attire a-plenty and a mini skirt so vinyl-looking it could have sported a white label, stood my 54-year old mother-in-law.

The space between us didn’t seem real. It was as though a two-way mirror had been placed between us and neither of us were aware that the other was looking at them with an empty expression. We had seconds to come to terms with this new scenario and I had neither the wit and cunning to be able to scramble for an innocent excuse, nor the vocal skills to be able to express it. Her dangling jaw suggested she felt the same. All we could muster was the shaky exchange of each other’s name.

“Jennifer?” I said.

“Clyde?”

The exchange was pointless. We both knew exactly who was staring who in the face. Jennifer looked up and down the corridor. Not a soul in sight. Not even our own which had, by now, already been condemned to a new circle of Hell.

“I…didn’t…” Jennifer began. “I mean. Is this…?”

“I don’t…was it you who…?” I continued. “Well…fuck…”

The word pierced Jennifer’s face and she recoiled. I’d never sworn in front of her before but given the circumstance we’d found ourself in I may as well have written it on a piece of paper and stuffed it into her cleavage.

“Language!” She said.

This may have sounded like an odd response. But in fact it made sense in retrospect. We both knew what was going on. She knew why I was in the hotel room and I knew why she was knocking on my door. To deny it now would be so delusional unicorns would start dancing around us is we even entertained the idea.

“Well, shall I come in or not?” She asked, not smiling.

“Are…you sure that’s a good idea?”

Her shoulders dropped and she glared, librarian-style, at me.

“Clyde,” she said, “I’m a middle-aged women in a mini skirt standing outside a hotel room at ten o’clock at night. Yes, it’s a good idea.”

“Good point.” I said. “I have wine if you want some.”

“God yes!”

She walked over the threshold and I discreetly closed the door. For some reason I put the chain across. Who was I protecting? Also: I have wine? Why the hell did I say that?! Was I actually going to go through with this?

Jennifer sat on the edge of the bed, still warm from my furiously pressed cheeks. She took her shawl off revealing more shoulder than I’d ever thought I’d see on her. Seeing a woman in low cut tops and high rise skirts is a tremendous image. To see it on the mother of your wife is curious and confusing in equal measures. By all accounts this should have been the ultimate male fantasy; possibly even the beginnings of a good porno. But arousal was nowhere to be seen so embarrassment took the wheel working triple shifts.

“Bottle’s empty.” She said, nodding at the wine that was no more.

“I bought plenty.” I said.

I reached down the side of the bed into a Waitrose shopping bag and pulled a bottle of red out. The body was wrapped in a gold thread and was nicely chilled to room temperature. Expensive wine. For the last woman on Earth I expected to see in my hotel suite. I uncorked the wine and poured two glasses carefully balancing the measurement between being a good host and not wanting to inundate her with a memory erasing amount of alcohol. I handed her the glass and simply stood opposite her.

She finally broke the ice:

“So, how long has this been going on?”

“This is the first time, I swear.”

I gulped some wine wanting oblivion as fast as possible. Was it good tasting wine? I couldn’t tell you. It could have been pony dung for all I knew. The details were lost on me.

“What about you? I asked.

“Eight years.”

I held my glass still, half tipped and centimetres from my lips.

“Eight years?! You’ve been doing this since before me and Claire were married?”

“Yes.” She replied.

Her tone was neither apologetic nor scornful. It was a hard fact.

“But why?”

Jennifer twirled her glass and contemplated the colours in the liquid. I knew she was a keen wine enthusiast. Somehow wine and fishnet stockings don’t gel so good.

“Money,” She said,

Again, a simple fact.

I began to relax into it a bit. Suddenly I was feeling less guilty. This was my first escort call and I hadn’t even done anything yet. While the intent was obviously there I hadn’t actually gone through with it. But here was my mother-in-law: part-time call girl for eight sodding years. If we were going to Hell I would surely get put in a nice, up-market neighbourhood simply by proxy.

It wasn’t what she did or her reasons. It was how completely out-of-character this was for her. When you think you know a person after so many years you never see that person as anything other than the memories you hold onto. This wasn’t Jennifer the Escort. This was Jennifer the 54-year old estate agent. She read Phillipa Gregory novels and grew tomatoes in her greenhouse. Jennifer the Call Girl was her superhero alias; saving men everywhere from a backlog of semen. Morals aside it just didn’t make sense for a woman with a career and money to be doing this.

“Why do you need more money?”

“You can never have too much money.” She said.

She finally took a sip of wine, using that gesture instead of punctuation to make her point.

“Does Paul know?” I asked.

Paul was her husband. AKA my father-in-law. AKA the most oblivious man on the planet.

“It was his idea.”

“What? Why?”

“He fancied a summer home. Maybe in Spain, he says. Personally I’d like something in Florida but he’s always had his eye on somewhere a bit more Latin. And you know how much he loves mainland Europe anyway. He’s even considering taking Spanish lessons in the ev-”

“-Wait, wait wait. He knows you’re having sex with other men for money and he’s okay with this? All because he wants a summer home?”

“I’m not a prostitute, Clyde.”

“What the hell do you call this then?!”

I don’t know why I gestured to the whole room around us. By all accounts she was well within her right to answer with ‘I dunno, king size with en-suite?’

“I’m an escort. Which is different.”

“How?”

“You pay for my company. Not for my body. I meet people and we have an evening together. If the two of us decide to have sex afterwards that’s between two consenting adults. Nothing illegal about that.”

She sipped some more and stood up to meet my gaze better.

“Now I have to ask you why you hired an escort in the first place. Something tells me you don’t have a spare cinema ticket going or a reservation at a posh restaurant. Does Claire know?”

Claire. AKA my wife. AKA her daughter. AKA the woman with the most justifiable reason for murder in the world

Somehow everything had been turned. Now I was the guilty party. This was a woman with years of experience in confronting men like me. She could smell the shame on me. Big, wet patches of shame soaking the underarms of my shirt. Also flatulence. I couldn’t afford to be anything other than calm about this.

“Please don’t tell Claire about this!” I said from my new position on both knees. “Please! Please! I love her and I don’t know why I’m doing this!”

I got up again and strode over to the bedside table. I took the fanned out money and swung it around until it wafted Jennifer in the face.

“Here.” I said. “Just take this and you can go. We don’t need to do anything. Just please promise me you won’t breathe a word of this to her.”

My echoes died. Had I been shouting? I wasn’t aware. Jennifer coolly took the money from my hands and counted out each note.

“One fifty.” I said.

“I can count.”

She folded the notes up and held them in her grasp. Her other hand came up and touched me on the cheek. It was surprisingly cold.

“I’m not going to tell Claire.” She said.

“Really?”

“Look I know you love her. But I’m not stupid. I know you’ve been distant with each other recently. You want female company and I get that. Who am I to judge someone when this is what I do for a living? I can’t say this is your proudest moment though.

“I know.”

I watched as she counted fifty pounds from the bundle and put it down her top. She handed the rest to me. One hundred pounds exact.

“What’s this for?” I asked.

“Discount.”

“I don’t get you.”

“Look, I want money. And you want to keep this a secret.” She smiled at me.

I looked over at the door. The chain across it had taken on a more sinister look. There’s a fine line between privacy and prison.

“Your choice.”

Figures, I thought. And I swallowed the rest of my wine.

Leave a comment

“You do know you’ll die, right?” He said again.

What, do people get a government stipend every time they use the ‘D’ word? Do angels grow their wings and make unfortunate souls fall in love when that word is said? Not that it mattered now.

Since the end of the universe was announced dying wasn’t something that held any meaning. Or maybe it held more meaning than ever. Whatever, according to the officer in the room with me I’m still going to die no matter what.

If you ever wanted an accurate depiction of how humanity breaks down you no longer had to read it in books or see it in films. You could look out the window at any time and see the entire world glazed over the horrifying reality that, yes, the universe was actually coming to an end.

Science proved it. And the news reported it.

The Announcement was what it became known as. A snappy little title for such a gargantuan event. How journalistic.

With doom of this magnitude there is no recourse. Even someone diagnosed with a terminal, life-destroying illness will always have that what-if moment that keeps hope alive and maybe prays for some miracle fix.

But you can’t fix a dying universe. You can’t hide under a desk or in a fallout shelter like it’s a nuclear attack. When all control is lost and not even the most powerful bodies can do anything but reveal their own frightened humanity the word ‘hope’ is just that: a meaningless word.

“I’m telling you it’s not a good idea. It doesn’t work.” The officer continued, his breath a warm ghost of a life spent devouring cheeseburgers and coffee.

His arms produced pillars as he pressed his fists down onto the table opposite me. His sleeves were rolled up revealing a neat length of fur down his forearms. I couldn’t take my eyes off his gut hanging over the back of the chair where he had been sat originally.

His gun lay on the table; sleeping like a loyal assassin’s pet.

“There are a hundred people in your boat and they’re all going to perish.”

“Ninety-nine.” I said.

“What?”

“There are ninety-nine other people in my situation.”

I was the hundredth.

It was telling of our species that the demise of everything in existence culminated in a lottery. No longer were people hoping for money and big houses. Now they wanted saving.

A hundred people had been picked at random out of the billions on the planet, alongside the already chosen elite few.

Shortly after The Announcement and life began drawing closer to a dramatic end science had made a breakthrough.

“Even if it did work.The officer continued. “There’s still no evidence that there is anything on the other side.”

They had realised everything we had longed for and pictured in science fiction. Years of research had finally given us what millions had imagined would come to fruition in our lifetime. They had perfected teleportation.

Starting with a single atom they had worked their way up to more complex beings.

A month after The Announcement the first human was teleported, live on TV, from one studio to another. Eventually greater distances were achieved until it was accepted that any co-ordinates could be entered and the subject would move from one plane to another in seconds. It was a solid theory.

The only problem was:

“It only works from other people’s perspective.” The officer was passionate in his tirade. “But from your perspective you will die.”

The theory goes something like this:

Teleportation works on a very physical sense. What comes out the other end – what stepped out of the machine on live, international TV – is (was) a perfect clone of the one who began at the start.

Memories and personalities stored in the brain’s physical casing moved with the rest of the body. Science had it down. What comes out the other end is essentially the same person that went in.

But:

“But it’s just that: a clone.” His tie was loose now. “You are not really you because you die the moment you step into the machine.”

“It works.” I said. “We’ve seen it work.”

“To you yes! But the original test subject is dead. What makes you you is no longer there. It’s not part of your biological make-up. It doesn’t exist in any physical sense so it can’t get teleported with the rest of you.”

My soul. I knew he wanted to refer to it – my consciousness, my essence, whatever you want to call it – as my soul. But no one talks like that anymore. Not even world leaders.

Where were we being teleported to? If you’ve heard of the multiverse theory then you already know where this is going. The theory that there are an infinite number of universes with an uncountable number of galaxies, star systems and planets had been married by scientists with their teleportation plan.

Our universe was doomed, but others may not have been.

This is what the officer meant when referring to the ‘other side’.

But these were theories. These were ideas brainiacs had published in articles and scientific journals to be lauded over by academics and used to spearhead what became known as the Movement Project. We love titles don’t we? Nothing officiates a grand scheme like a moniker that everyone can refer to so they don’t have to think about what it involves.

The officer sat down and wiped his brow with the back of his hand.

“Look,” he said softly. “you are the envy of the entire world right now.”

He was right. I had been picked through no influence of my own and that made me the subject of global hatred. The officer sat in front of me was part of a team that had been dispatched to keep me safe from mobs and jealous citizens.

“We can only hold off so many people at once.” He said.

Spoken like a true man of the law.

“There are nearly a hundred people all over the world who have others trying to protect them from a fate that I’m sure I don’t need to describe to you.”

He took a sip of water, warm now from his clouded breath.

“I take it you know about the suicides.”

I nodded.

The pressure of being one of a micro percent of the Earth’s population to be given, what many believed to be, a second chance in an untapped, unexplored universe was a great weight. I know. Several of the original winners were not fond of the limelight and had opted out. Some quick. Some not so quick.

The papers were quick to talk about it.

But the ruling body that presided over the Lottery needed exactly one hundred people for the Movement Project so they redistributed a new batch of random tickets to their chosen winners.

Why one hundred? Who knows. Maybe because it looks good written in big letters as part of a headline. Not that the press meant anything now.

“You know what it feels like.” The officer said. “And you know I’m right when I say that if you step into that machine it will be no different than staying here and waiting for existence to collapse.”

Death either way.

I knew where he was going with this.

“You want the ticket don’t you?” I asked.

He sighed, his nearby glass of water steamed up.

“I don’t want your ticket.” He said. “I just don’t want you to have it.”

I knew he was lying. They always lie. He wanted me convinced that being part of the Movement Project was as much certain death as staying behind. But everybody was curious.

“We want to destroy the ticket.” He said. “We can make you disappear, fake your death so another ticket will be sent out. You’ll still perish when the universe ends but at least you’ll live a little longer.”

“In hiding.”

“It’s still a better life than fizzling away in that machine!”

He stood up and held out his hand to me.

“Hand me the ticket and we can change everything so you won’t have to deal with what’s happening outside right now. It’s a brief window of opportunity to at least go on for a little while longer.”

“Why destroy the ticket?” I asked. “Why not fake my death but still keep me on the project? Why do I need to relinquish my ticket?”

“Oh come on! Billions of people will be watching you night and day right up until you go through with it. You think they won’t know that it’s you after you’ve had your face over every newspaper on the globe?”

He was lying again but still he wanted me to hand it over.

“I know you want my ticket so you can take my place.” I said.

“No that’s not tr-”

“-it’s okay.” I interrupted his defence. “I’d want to do it too.”

I stood up to meet his gaze at a more comfortable level.

“I know you want to be part of Project Movement even if you’re not sure what will happen. I also know that those suicides you mentioned aren’t true.”

“What do you mean?”

“I worked as a journalist. I know those other winners were given the same deal you are offering me now. None of them were given a choice. I wasn’t given a choice when my name was called. And now I’m here I’m being given the same limited options again that don’t favour me.”

I swiped the gun from the table before the officer could react.

“Stop!” He pleaded. “Don’t…”

“Don’t what? Don’t shoot? If I walk out of here I walk right into a mob that wants me dead. If I take my place in Project Movement I walk into a machine that will only clone me. If I stay behind I get to witness the end of time.”

I held the barrel to my temple.

“And if I pull the trigger I end it now in this room.”

Either way death. Dying. I die. Cha-ching another royalty check. The secret word.

What decisions we’ve been left with. What an existential hell we’ve been handed to us. Our lives are overstimulated by decisions that may or may not be our own. If we let ourselves wander without an agenda we perish. If we let fate or good fortune tell us what to do we perish. If we let authority figures bully us into a set way of thinking we still perish.

We always perish.

If I hold the gun to my head then I perish. But at least I make the choice. And so I clicked the trigger.

Decision time.

How I felt when I – after nearly eighteen months – I finally finished the first draft of my first book Passing Phases:

“Today was a good day!”

How I felt when I realised that I still have to do several re-drafts, research and get agency interest, write a full-on synopsis, peform various rituals to any and all gods that it sells to a publisher, repeat said rituals in the hope of it making some fecking money and, oh hell, do another draft:

“My hands smell like never ending tasks…”

True story.

Leave a comment