Walking home from the bus-stop. The birds are singing. I can see the red streetlamp sunrise in the distance, beyond the tower blocks.
At most, two hours sleep. At worst, one. But we went for coffee and cake after the club, so it's unlikely I'll sleep, only doze.
Brushing my teeth in the dark. Shedding coat, scarf, bag, shoes. Collapsing into bed, knees aching, shins bruised, mouth dry. Smelling my hair, my fingers. smoky club stink.
And suddenly I'm on the bus to work, only a half-hour late. And i'm wearing the same skirt as last night, the whole office will smell the cigarettes. And i'm still wearing the same earrings, same makeup. The same empty bottle in my bag, the same grin plastered across my face.


He turned the corner and fell in love. Small breasts, open-necked shirt. Birkenstocks and cropped trousers. Short brown hair, just the right amount of bounce in her walk.
He could see the first date, faltering steps, half-gestures. Beer and tentative conversation, wine and arms about shoulders. Birthday presents, a toothbrush at sink, an afternoon spent in bed. Long car journeys together...

She turned her head and the sun sparked off her necklace. His heart broke as she crossed the road away from him. The clouds scuttled across the sky. He turned the corner and fell in love.

massacre at camber sands

He looked at the debris scattered over the beach. Cans, bottles, discarded and sprayed with red.

He'd found himself eye to eye with this lithe, brown-haired thing. She beckoned with her hips and swung away from him. He had followed, hypnotised, out of the heaving crowd.

He was cold. The clean dawn light spilled shadows under every turned head, ripped shirt, wrenched arm. An upturned box of beer cans glinted despite the cloud cover. The spectacle refused to register, his brain wouldn't to respond. He was still high, nerves scraping, eyes wide. He willed himself to react but couldn't drag from his mind the deafening euphoria.

He collided with her when she stopped just before the treeline. Pressed against him, swaying to the still audible music, his mind almost painfully focused on her body against his. She whispered sticky words to him and pulled him to the ground with her.

He'd heard screams. Unfamiliar, out of place. Sharp crashes followed by a thud, then terrifying silence.

She was standing before he was, both suddenly animal, wordless, instinctual. She sprang away, searching the sand-covered faces, back towards the town.

Who had she lost? There was a nugget of civilisation in him that wanted to smoke a joint, have a night's sleep and retreat. He dismissed this as impractical. Curiosity was a more immediate concern.


Suspect number one: apparently sweet-natured, talkative. Buck-toothed and almost too innocent-looking for a woman of thirty years.
Suspect number two: soft-spoken, prone to outbursts without warning. history of family violence. Not many close friends.
Suspect number three: twitchy, small, sharp-eyed. Always looking over his shoulder...

She paused, and looked over her shoulder. The bustle continued. As long as her screen was filled with periodically expanding text, nothing was amiss. In reality, she hadn't worked for the best part of this month. She wasn't needed and took advantage of the chaos around her. An island of order and cleanliness in a dust storm. On really quiet days she would take her book and read in the little-used top floor lavatories.

The snapper turtle lurched from his glass-walled office, gurning and screeching. Legs jointed awkwardly to stiff hips and numb feet. Adjacent, the frog sits, sqaulid, dripping stagnant water onto the carpet and upholstery. His throat billows as he calls across the room.

Intent on the screen, glasses slipping down her nose. An escaped lock of hair dances in the breeze from an electric fan. She is motionless in a deserted room, quiet but for the tapping of fingertips against plastic.

Suspect number three is sleepless. He has attributed this to mythical 'nerves'. Pressing his face into the pillow, he breathes erratically and tries to stop thinking.

hair and nails

All the trouble started when her parents locked her in a third-storey room of their house. No castle, but it was pretty big. In her favour, she was a practically-minded girl, and didn't hesitate to utilise every available resource to solve the problem of her house-arrest.

He hadn't wanted to be in the horseback corps. He hadn't really wanted to join the king's army in the first place, but he couldn't think of anything better to do when he left school. He'd had no ambition beyond ground infantry, but for some reason he catapulted up and up. Before he knew it, he was a decorated peacetime Seargeant Major. Which meant full chain mail, plate suit and helmet.
In the winter, he could overcome his GMT (Genital Magnetic Tendencies) by wearing thick woollen under-drawers. They itched terribly, but it was better than getting cosy with chainmail while in the saddle...

Since birth, she had coped with endlessly ample body hair. In actual fact, it had never been a significant problem. It just meant she kept her leg hair in check with hair-cutting shears instead of a razor. And then there was that first date when she'd tried to carry off a sleeveless gown. But the boy was easily forgotten...

In the summer things became difficult. More often than not he would forego the chainmail, as that was frankly dangerous. He just gritted his teeth and cantered along, testicles clinging to the inside of his metal armour.

She first saw him standing behind a rhodedendron in the grounds behind her parent's house, not far from her window. He was naked from the waist down, urinating with audible relief. As he turned around she gasped, never having seen a naked man before. He looked up, saw her face in the high window and screamed, running to hide behind his horse nearby.
He asked why she was in that room, with a barred window. She explained she was condemned to be captive for the rest of her life. Hearing this, and being a gentleman, he was outraged. Inside he was boyishly excited. A damsel to rescue...here was his change for fame, glory! But then he realised he had no trousers on.
"How can i get up there?"
"There's no stairway, I think it's been blocked off at both ends"
"But there's...a drainpipe! I will climb up to you"
"No, i'm fine, really! Listen..."
"Fear not, damsel"

With that, he took a running leap at the drainpipe stretching from ground to gutter. His penis adhered to the cast iron with a resounding 'chunnngg'. He bit his lip till blood drew, and then locked his arms around the pipe. Slowly, amid protests shouted from above, he hauled himself skywards.

He didn't reach her windowsill till past nightfall. He was panting, dizzy with exhaustion and pain. She took him under the arms and pulled him into her room. The last thing he saw was her face above his, her lips moving without sound.
As he came to, he moaned sleepily and tried to turn over. Agony shot through his body and he lay tense and rigid, waiting for it to subside. His penis was so painful it made him dizzy every time he shifted his weight.
...But he had made it all the way up the drainpipe. Three storeys on determination and magnetism alone. Why did he do it? The girl. The girl...

She watched him stir, and cry out in pain. She'd bandaged him up as best she could, given her embarassment (and honest facination with the man.) She'd washed his face and body, dressed his wounded limbs and genitals and wrapped him in her own sheets. Stupid boy. The rope she'd made was strong enough for her, she knew, but what about him? Now she would have to figure out a way to get them both down to ground level...

He sat up in the weak morning sunlight to see her sitting on the floor with her skirt up around her knees, facing away from him. He cleared his throat quietly. She looked over her shoulder at him, and he wondered if feigning sleep was a good idea. But then she rose, the hem of her dress dropping to the floor. He tore his eyes from the swirl of shin and petticoat and met hers. She blushed furiously.
"Your dressings need changing. It's been a day"
"A day? How long have I been here?"
There was an awkward pause.
"My, uh, dressings?"
Suddenly she was at the side of the bed, her hands on his arm, grinning broadly.
"I feel like I should ask your permission, or something..."

The next four days passed comfortably and quickly. There was no lingering awkwardness between them, even after she'd explained that they were to escape using a rope knitted from her own abundant leg hair. Especially after he'd healed, and his bandages were removed. He'd leapt upon her, simply his way of making his reciprocal fascination clear.

The prospect of escape suddenly seemed one which could be ignored in the meantime...

fighting boredom in the workplace part II

continued collaboration with sookraj and ellie

#30. Starting with a birth certificate slowly steal a co-workers identity, supplying them with a second life as a gambling porn baron. After they have have had all their belongings repossessed, turn up at their court hearing to speak on behalf of the prosecution. They clearly have problems and you believe that prison will be the lesson to open their eyes.
#31. Put your hand in your pants (secretly). Now try to touch as many of your workmates possessions as you can. Allow yourself a smile when you see a colleague chewing on *that* pen.
#32. pour warm water onto people's swivel chairs when they're away from their desks
#33. get a pair of scissors, and crawl around the office slicing people's shoelaces. when questioned, tell them you are saving their souls.
#34. wear shorts to work. smear chocolate sauce all over your legs and lick at them throughout the day.
#35. throw your favourite mug into the air repeatedly, while singing 'I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day'. make no attempt to catch the mug.
#36. Can-can.
#37. Send all memos in the form of paper aeroplanes, the more extravagant the better.
#38. Buy a megaphone.
#39. Tell co-workers that email is the root of all evil (by email).
#40. Become inappropriately touchy-feely all of a sudden. Blame your parents.
#41. Join as many internet special-interest forums as physically possible. Embroidery, toby-jug collecting and yodelling should be of special note.
#42. Sit at your desk not moving or touching anything. When people ask what you're doing, tell them you're making virtual phone-calls.
#43. Send someone else into work in place of you. The next day act like nothing happened. See who cracks first.
#44. Demand to be paid by the hour. Every hour. ON the hour. In cash. In coppers.
#45. Learn Swahili. Practice at every available opportunity. If questioned, say you are the new cultural relations spokesperson. Report them.
#46. Create a shrine to Boris Johnson underneath your desk. Complete with incense, candles and life-size cardboard cut-outs.
#47. Award yourself an Oscar. Dress appropriately and thank everyone in your office for everything they've done to help you achieve this great honour. Keep the statuette in the kitchen.
#48. Arrange the bisuits into intricate patterns, placing Jammy Dodgers in the exact centre and all Bourbons at right angles.
#49. Rustle mysteriously.
#50. Bring a gramophone to work, and instigate office tea dances.


this one's really, really old. i found it last night and removed half the commas. now it's good.

He sits alone on a park bench. Patiently, for hours he has waited.

The sun has wheeled around to nestle in other clouds. All his shadows would point east, but for the streetlights. Instead, they pool around his feet, dripping out from under his chin and from the space beneath his folded leg. He exhales loudly, watching his breath condense in the air. It billows white and then dissipates, drifting away like smoke. He curls a hand around his forearm. He feels the wind bite into his cheek, into his leg through the fabric of his trousers.

He is alone but he acts as if he is not. Occasionally he stretches out an arm to comfort the air on the bench next to him. He looks around him, unconcerned. There is nobody else in view. A fox creeps unnoticed across the path, dashing for cover under another rhododendron.

Clouds cover the moon and the light dims. Old memories are brought to mind. A fairy story, a goodnight rhyme, recited each night like clockwork. Flitting and flashing through his mind, leaving no impression. They have flitted before. Hurried on, driven away by more urgent thoughts. He is visibly focused.

He slowly extends an arm and glances at his watch. A silhouette rounds the crest of the hill.


As the days wore on, and once I had managed to exchange the first few words with him, we grew almost companionable.
Every morning I'd go downstairs to make coffee and say hi. He'd generally have been awake a while longer than me, as the hot water pipes are loud in the basement. Conversation was sometimes stilted. We knew nothing about each other. So, as is often the way with relative strangers, we talked about culture. And what was more appropriate than the books I had given him myself?

"...but the German word is actually more correctly translated as 'vermin', not as 'beetle'. If you read the story with 'vermin' instead, it puts a whole different light on it. It explains things that didn't quite follow on..."

We worked through whole bookshelves together. I loved how he thought, the way he pointed things out to me, unsure and knowledgable at the same time. The way he spoke made me want to like what he liked, read what he had read. It made me love him more.

Once, in the middle of the night, I felt guilty for keeping him all this time. Maybe there were people in the outside world to miss him, people he had never mentioned? But I knew I could never let him out. It was better this way. Much safer this way.


The first week was difficult. He was noisy, and I found myself leaving the house for hours at a time to get some peace. When I realised what I was doing, I sat down to work out a solution. Of course, he was scared. Waking up in strange surroundings with no explanation... He needed me to engage with him. I realised I didn't even know his first name (his surname had been on the University of East London IdentiCard attached to his jeans pocket.)
So the next morning before he woke I placed a package at the bottom of the steps into the basement, locking the door behind me. I had wrapped a note from myself explaining that he was safe, along with a deck of cards and some of my favourite books in a tea-towel. How could a boy be bored in the company of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Patrick Suskind, Henry Miller, Salman Rushdie, Franz Kafka and James Joyce...? Then I left the house to buy apples, bread and pasta sauce, all of which I had run out of the previous day.

On my return the house was completely silent.


As soon as I got him in the door, I started to worry. While fairly slim, I had no idea how tall he was. What if my basement wasn't big enough? Would he be warm down there? Would he get scared? Bored? To be on the safe side, I decided to sedate him. I laid him on the blankets I'd padded the floor with, and placed a bottle of water near him. Then I climbed the ladder, bolted the door and made coffee while I waited for him to come around.

dangerous I

It was a miracle I’d never met him before that, or maybe he was new in the area. But I’d seen him three times in as many days. On the way to work, at the station on the way to town, and then waiting in the queue at the Post Office. That was when I decided. Things were getting risky…what if I spotted him while out with a friend? They’d wonder why I stopped in my tracks. What if I ran into him with an armful of shopping? I’d drop it on the floor, without a doubt. What if I saw him while I was driving? It didn’t bear thinking about. I decided I would kidnap the strange boy who made me go weak at the knees.
It was much simpler than I’d imagined. I was part-way through drawing up elaborate plans, some involving extremist political action or the involvement of the Triads, when I collided with him at the top of the road I lived on. He smiled at me, and I knew I had to act fast. Knocking him unconscious was the easy part. Luckily there were no passers-by to observe me hauling him the 100 metres or so to my front door….