Archive for October, 2012

We know it’s all gone wrong when Ramirez stops smiling.

We were nearly there. Joel was hamming it up a bit, making too much of showing just how relaxed he was, how straight he was. This always made Anna tense. Me too. Unchecked, Joel could be all kinds of trouble.
Ramirez was having fun, though, toying with him
“Maybe you should get yourself a haircut with your wages, menino,” Ramirez says and winks. His goons laugh.

He stabs the first packet and licks a stubby finger. The goons focus. With the shades down, it’s difficult to pick up on anything other than their presence and their bulk. They’re bored, or maybe just tired, worked into a state of stoic, unyielding duty. Still, you wouldn’t even look at them.
That’s when we hear the banging from below. A thud – the main door? There’s engine noise and brakes. Three, four cars at least. Voices travel up the stairwell and there’s movement – muffled but distinct, and getting louder, closer.
Anna grabs my hand and squeezes, and it’s there on her face. She knows
in an instant. What were we thinking?
“Policia! Policia!”

Ramirez raises his head, breathes deeply and goes around the room, checking for reaction. No-one moves, no-one looks away. No-one shows the nerves that might tell a different story. They’re all waiting.
Satisfied, he turns away and licks his finger.

There are three doors. Anna’s looking at me and it’s all she’s thinking, too: Get out of here.
Eventually, a nod and the goons stand, twitchy and sweating now: “Go. Move.”

They head for a door behind us and the rest is only images and disorder. Stumbling blindly, we run.
I hear: “Not you.”

The door slams behind us.

Anna’s just ahead. She reaches back for my hand again. There’s a dark corridor and we’re all barrelling past open doors where already people are starting to peer out. There’s no time to even think about Joel.

Words: 328

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The moon coughs pebbles from its throat. Bright, milky pebbles the size of sickness spew across the sky, rolling the night in tumours. The couple didn’t prepare for this; they huddle in the husk of a single sleeping bag and their stolen night of love lingers at the edge of a rainstorm.

Katy, he whispers. We gotta go.

His words are wrapped in leaves as a squall hits. She is tired. She doesn’t hear. Instead she coughs and her body rubs against his, squeezing lightning from his limbs. She does not wake and in the cough he hears the slice of spade in soil. He breathes it in.

Lately those sounds are everywhere; the dry rattle of cornflakes in a bowl is the scatter of pebbles on wood; the whine of a train leaving a station is the restraint of cries in the throat. He likes to soak in the sound of her sickness. He laps it up.

He opens his mouth. The rain, painted like snowflakes but tasting of ash, falls where she had fallen. He knew the weather would turn. He knew they would be caught in a crisis, far from either of their homes, and from the parents who kept them apart. In his mouth, the sweetness of her body washes away and his tragic self swells. He imagines carrying her to her father’s, as insubstantial as an angel. He’s imagined this moment many times. This, he will say through the tears, is what she was. You wouldn’t let her love. You wouldn’t let her live.

He tightens his hold upon her. The sound of the sleeping bag is the sound of a snake. His mouth finds her ear. The difference between living and loving, he tells her, is found in the centre of you.

Frank has it all worked out. He’s the unwilling survivor, the one they’ll talk about. The one who will weather the storm after she’s gone.

The one who will lie about love.

Words: 330

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I used to love that view. It was amazing. The best view in the world.

From where I stood I could see everything.

The mountains in the distance were amazing. Constantly changing with the light. Never the same twice.

So far away yet so big. Did you know there are whole villages up there? It blew my mind when I found that out. Villages with houses and families and kids and horses.

They were too far away for my old legs, but it was nice to know they were there.

And the stream that flowed down during the winter, merging into the river right below my feet. I often wondered what lay at the end of that river. I always meant to jump the fence one day and take a stroll down.

But the hill where Raphael used to work was the best. He used to go up there nearly every day – no matter what the weather – with Rusty, his little campo dog.

Rusty was great. Totally mad of course, with his one eye blue and his one eye green. He’d run alongside Raphael as if he was running for his life. Not that Raphael would have hurt him if he lagged behind. Don’t get me wrong, Raphael looked after us just right.

I didn’t go out much towards the end except now and again when, for a treat, Raphael would open the gate and lead me out. He held my rein with the gentleness of a father. We’d set off up the hill, onto the main road, and up the mountain paths. I loved those trips out.

You could see the whole world from up there. It was just the best.

But all good things come to an end and the end came quickly.

One night everything was there, the next it was gone.

I remember the sunset.

I hope no one suffered.

Words: 314

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Data torrents into the warehouse, flooding the rows of whirring racks inside the tall brick walls; a relentless flow of kilobytes which pours through the fibre optic cabling tucked in under the San Franciscan streets.

Oona and John have never met. She lives in Brazil, he in Swansea. She works for a law firm in Rio de Janeiro. He drives a forklift truck in a Homebase warehouse. Her username is based on a Portuguese philosopher. His on the winning captain of the 1999 Champions League final. They go about their lives, completely unaware of each other. They will never meet.

But here, here in this building of machines and wires, they are soul mates. Their data intertwines, kilobytes grouping together while the pair live their lives unaware, miles apart. The information they send from their laptops and their iPhones all finds its way to this place; electrons darting down cables, following a scent, until they meet inside the wiring of sleek black boxes. Ghosts in the machine, they call it, the way data pairs together.

Inside these sleek black boxes, Oona and John hold each other close, waltzing to the constant time of the electric cooling fan above their heads. Their routine is admired by a never-ending audience of LOLs, WTFs and punctuation masquerading as affectionate smiles; data pouring in to offer warm congratulations.

Occasionally, other couples will pass. Lisa watching Question Time in Coventry walks by, arm wrapped around the waist of Graham, who can’t believe the weather in New York. Christopher sitting alone in a Berlin nightclub smiles as he tightly grasps the hand of Riki, who thinks she’ll never get a boyfriend in Tokyo. Data which has found its soulmate in this world of bright electrons.

But now, Oona’s data sits alone on their virtual dance floor. It was a horrible accident they said and everyone knows that warehouses can be dangerous places. Silently, she grieves with nothing but slowly degrading kilobytes of memories for company; her ghosts in this machine of relentless electronic pulses.

Words: 330

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