Music In The Jeans.

She hadn’t paid for her electricity. It wasn’t done via a bill or anything, it was one of those pay as you go units, the ones with the fob.  She had lit a cigarette, but wasn’t smoking it. It would be bad for the baby, but she liked the smell. People often asked her when she was going to finally grow up. Now look at her, not smoking to protect her unborn child.

The room was lit by the light from a lamppost  outside, combined with a garish sort of light given off from a camping lamp, one that was charged by the sun during the day. She left it on the windowsill so it would get enough light. It had two settings, a normal light, or a flickering sort that flashed out S.O.S in Morse code.

Flashflashflash- Flash – Flash – Flash – FlashFlashFlash.

Help us.

Sending out an SOS… sending out an SOS.

Then of course there was the tiny orange flare of the cigarette, slowly smoking away in the grooves of an ashtray.

This is what humans did before electricity. They sat in the dark doing nothing, waiting for it to no longer be dark. The baby was too small to be kicking, but occasionally she was sure she felt little bumps.

The baby’s dad was up and coming. He had been up and coming for a long time, coming took time it seemed. She was beginning to think he’d never arrive.

That was to say, he was in a band.

She had been to all of his gigs. The first had been before a crowd of 3. Two’s company, three’s a crowd. The band was called Bitter Streaks, they played a bastardisation of grunge. He knew she was pregnant, but a baby would prevent him going on a world tour should he be asked, and he was expecting to be asked any minute.

‘Lots of famous musicians have kids.’ She had said.

‘I don’t want to be tied down.’ He replied, which was ironic given that he expressed the exact opposite sentiment the night the baby was conceived. She thought it was that night anyway. It could have been another.

‘I’ll need money,’ she said.

‘I don’t have any.’

‘You’ll have to get a job.’

‘And work for the man?’

‘A lot of employers are women now.’

‘I’m not about that life.’

‘What life are you about?’

‘My music, that’s my life.’

Which was a shame, as his music wasn’t that good anymore. The older he got, the less he suited the defiant angst of youth.

She was going to have to move back in with her dad. Which would be embarrassing, because when she left years before she had declared (quite proudly) that no one was going to stop her living her life. She was going to live it to its fullest and be a free spirit forever. Living life to its fullest proved difficult after a while. Bills needed to be paid, food needed to be bought, weed didn’t pay for itself – nor booze, she often got a pill or two for free.

It also got tiring after a while. As the last of her teen years flitted by, she found not knowing how she got home to be more of a concern rather than an indication that she had had a good night, and more to the point, she would like to have some recollection of just how good it was. After all, when she was old she’d like to look back with fondness on her memories of living life to its full.

Not that it mattered, she had another free spirit growing inside her now, and she couldn’t very well stand in the way of it living its life to its fullest. Which it most certainly wouldn’t if it had to live in perpetual darkness, like a mole person.

It wasn’t fair. Why could men not have children? Just because the dice roll of fate determined they were to be born with a Y chromosome they could sleep with whoever they wanted and not have to worry about messing their bodies up. They didn’t have to worry about carrying and squirting out a tiny human. Didn’t have to worry about carrying it around for 9 months, suffering an array of pains and discomforts in the process.

And, it seemed they could just walk away whenever it suited them.

The abortion word came up. She was pro-choice when it came to other women, but was mercilessly subjected to the tyranny of her own guilt when it came to her body. She knew the end game of sex. Sex made babies, if you have sex, you have to accept the consequences.

She hated the consequences. There were always consequences. They start with being spanked and sent to the corner when you first learn to walk and talk and the progress ever onwards until you’re hungry, sitting in the dark having not showered in days, not even enjoying the bittersweet release of a cigarette.

She wondered what her baby would look like in the future. If it was a boy, would it look like his dad. Broad shouldered, black of hair… one eye ever so slightly squinted compared to the other? If a girl, logic dictated it would look like her. That’s how it worked. Girls took after the mother, boys the father. She wondered if the baby would inherit musical talent (relatively speaking). Was music in the genes?

That could be their band name.

Music in the Jeans.

They’d spell it with a J, like the denim trousers, because that would be quirky. They’d appear on chat shows, or in magazines and talk about how their mother sacrificed a lot so they could have a good life and live it to its full.

Except she’d keep them grounded. Live it to its full, but in small doses.

She wondered if the baby would resent her when it was a teenager, much like she did her dad. Her dad who told her to keep at school, to apply for universities… to be sensible. What kind of life was that? She’d smack the baby in the head if it did, except not the baby, the teenager then. It’s okay to smack teenagers in the head, when they’re being teenagers. Never slap a baby in the head.

She smiled. Had her dad given up his life for her? Did he have to stop living life to the fullest because she came along. Was life just a sequence of people stopping living life to its fullest so the next generation could go on to make the same mistakes?

She reached and grabbed the half burnt out cigarette and put it to her lips. The bitter smoke warmed her throat as she dragged it into her lungs. No doubt the baby would be most annoyed. Its clean incubator getting hazy with tobacco.

Well, he’d have to suck it up. If she was going to sacrifice living her life for it, it would take one puff on a cigarette. It could handle it. It was in its genes after all. Like the music. There was no hope for the baby really, she sighed.

But then again, there never is much hope. But that’s okay.

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Late night editing.

As I edit yet another draft of my novel that has already seen rejection from several agents, I got the urge to share some. It’s by no means the most interesting bit, as if it was you could just read that and never have to buy the book if it eventually gets published. It’s a fairly mundane part.

The novel is currently titled ‘Nothing Happens’ and is a satire of sorts, mocking the ‘Wealthy white man unhappy with his life’ narrative that seems to pop up repeatedly in literature and films as well as pointing out that in most world renowned novels or old classics, nothing happens.  The book follows a self-confessed alcoholic suffering from a sense of nihilism as he recounts his fairly dull and uneventful life and laments the current state of his dull and uneventful life and fears for the future which he assumes will be dull and uneventful.

Anyway, here’s a dull and uneventful extract:

 

 

Work is not much fun at all. ‘Work’s not supposed to be fun, it’s work.’ My dad always used to say (and still does). I don’t think I’ll ever understand work, the concept of it. Not the modern concept anyway. I could understand if it was fishing… farming… other such necessities. When it was providing food and only food. Now it doesn’t make sense. Why am I forced to spend day after day staring at a computer screen for hours on end?

I think all our problems start at school. You’re told from a young age, with a bit of hard work you can be anything you want to be. Whatever you set your heart on you can achieve. That’s just some clever indoctrination to the capitalist system. It’s propaganda of the highest order. They get you when you’re impressionable, get these little ideas to worm their way into the centre of your brain where there’s no chance in hell of dislodging them. If what they say is true, you best hope that some people want to work on the tills in Tescos, otherwise you’ll never get your potatoes. You best hope people really want to be sewage maintenance workers, otherwise everything would be covered in shit.

No, you do whatever you can to get paid. It’s usually monotonous and pointless. It’s usually unfulfilling and soul destroying. But you can’t complain because “you’re lucky to have a job in this current climate.”

I sit looking from my screen to my phone. A desktop phone, one with the curly spirally chord. They still exist. The phone’s not ringing. The computer’s not computering, or if it is it’s not making a big song and dance over it. I don’t really get computers.

‘Moring Rob,’ says Derek as he passes my desk flashing me his large smile. His some sort of executive, wears fancy trousers and shiny shoes. He’s on some ridiculous sum of money. I don’t begrudge other people their success or affluence, but occasionally I like to imagine following him to the open area, where everyone makes their tea and coffee, it’s all rather snazzy. I imagine following him there and maybe throwing scalding tea in his face, before shoving him out the window. That will teach him for having a better job than me.

‘Morning.’ I grumble back. ‘How was your weekend?’ I ask, my cheeks immediately boiling with embarrassment. It is Wednesday.  It was an instinct, it just came out. You can’t ask someone how their weekend was half way through the week. It’s absurd. It’s positively insane. What a fucking idiot I truly am. I don’t look up to his – I don’t doubt – look of abject ridicule. He’d be pulling up his expensive trousers and smiling a self-satisfied smile.

‘Evening sorry, evening I meant evening. How was your evening?’ I ask looking up with a goofy grin on my fuzz covered face. He laughs. It was a good natured laugh, I like it when people laugh. When they genuinely laugh, and I can always tell when it’s not genuine.  You can always pick out a fake laugh. Nervous laughs usually. Nervous, please don’t kill me laughs. Self-conscious ‘accept me!’ laughs.

‘It wasn’t bad at all Rob, very quiet.  Was told to give you this.’ He says, handing me a package. It’s an officious looking brown envelope with my name written on it in black marker pen. It’s not for me, it’s “for the attention of” me. With this in mind I throw it upon the desk onto the pile of other things that are no doubt also for my attention, but have lain neglected for some time now.

‘Thanks Derek, how’s the –

He’s already wandered off. He’s a busy important man, he can’t linger too long at the desks of the not particularly busy unimportant people. People’d start getting ideas. They’d start thinking that, maybe he isn’t that busy after all,  or worse that he isn’t that important.

Actually, I’m fairly busy. Or at the very least I should be. As far as important goes, well that’s very hard to gauge. I don’t really know what it is I do so it can’t be that important, otherwise they’d notice me not doing it. But at the same time, I’m important enough for them to decide the company does need to pay me to not do whatever it is I should be doing. It’s a complicated position to find yourself in and happens completely by accident. One day you have a clear vision as to where you are and where you’re going, the next thing you know everyone’s screaming at you, you’re naked and something’s on fire.

Tiny Compendium of Ridiculousness: Sales Report

3 copies this month. 3.

That is the worst number there is. 1 has a brooding loner quality. 2 can be as bad as one, since it’s the loneliest number since the number one, but 3… that’s boring.

Since I have no real marketing going on, I suppose I should be proud of that 3, but I’m not. You people need to hurry up and realise my genius so I can get a proper publishing deal and live a life of luxury. All I want to do is never work again, is that so much to ask?

Look, just go and download my Amazon book. It’s like 99p in the UK and some amount of dollars, euros and other silly money.  It’s less than a coffee, and you all drink excessive amounts of coffee, so you can afford it damn it.

‘Yes, but we enjoy coffee.’ I hear you say, ‘reading your contrived collection of ‘comedic’ short stories isn’t enjoyable.’

In which case I say buy it, and then don’t read it. I don’t care. Give it a terrible rating, let it be known as the worst book ever, then people will buy it out of sheer curiosity. And I’ll get a publishing deal, much like the 50 Shades of Grey woman. It’s the way the world of literature is going. We’re taking the written word away from the pretentious, intellectual elite and revealing it for what it really is, a pointless collection of ultimately meaningless words. Which was the original tagline for the dictionary.

Buy it.

 Tiny Compendium of Ridiculousness

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tiny-Compendium-Ridiculousness-Hubert-Watergipridget-ebook/dp/B00NX63R1W

This New World

Below is a thing I started writing this morning. Maybe one day it will become an actual thing, but I have other things I need to make into actual things, I also have work in an hour.

***

In many ways she was deeply unhappy, but she didn’t mind that so much as she guessed most people were pretty unhappy, those that weren’t were probably in denial. It had been fifteen years since the Rift, as people had taken to call it. Scientists referred to it as, a flux in the temporal membrane, but Rift just sounded better.

The world thought it was in a sorry state of affairs before. Right wing politics on the rise, regular terrorist atrocities perpetrated by confused, fascist fanatics, rising sea levels and climbing global temperatures, a flimsy economy and severe over population. Now, well… it’s mostly the same issues just taken up a notch or two.

Emma put on her jacket, an army camouflage affair, dull green and occasional brown. She bought it because it was cheap, not because it helped her blend into the background of the city, which was mostly grey, occasionally beige. Marketing departments would have you believe London was the epicentre of culture, a point from which all modern history was made. A diverse hub celebrating art, science and industry. In reality it was just a tangled mess of apartment complexes and the occasional bridge.

Ortha House was about as cheap as you could get within the city limits. That was probably because it was built as part of an initiative to allow the Others to integrate themselves amongst the human populace, granting them a place to live at low cost whilst they find themselves in this strange new world. Of course, the fact that they were referred to as the Others rendered the whole exercise pointless.

Emma left her flat and strolled down the cluttered corridor. Half full bin bags lay strewn all over the place, strange stains marked the walls and all sorts of noises drifted through the various doors.  Baldus was leaving his flat to start his day too. A dwarf many called them, though those who suffered from dwarfism complained that that was offensive. The dwarves referred to themselves as the Blendring, which to a human was just a noise, especially for the average English human, who thought any other language sounded ridiculous.

‘No axes Baldus,” said Emma, noticing herself how bored she sounded. Baldus clenched a fist and shook his head, his rigid Mohican wobbling a little. A shimmering, double edged battle axe was slung across his muscular back.

‘A blandring without an axe or hammer is no blandring at all!’ he lamented, hiding his face in his meaty hands. His black skin had been marked with red dye, criss-crossing his face in an elaborate and quite frankly ridiculous pattern.

‘No axes, thems the rules,’ said Emma.

‘Rules!’ Baldus spat, ‘what about the rules set down by the Great Sculptor? It is the duty of every Blandring to carry an axe or hammer, ready for war at all times!’

‘You’ll be arrested as soon as you leave the building. Just take a pendant.’

 

Following the Fifteen Minute war, the more reasonable of the

Blandring decided that the Laws of the Great Sculptor were

Very much open to interpretation. Whilst it cannot be denied

That all Blandering are expected to carry an axe or hammer

The scriptures never state how large said axe or hammer

Need be. Therefore, a blandring can still keep to the scriptures

By wearing a pendant sporting a tiny axe or hammer, which

Conveniently relieves it of its status as an offensive weapon. As

for being ready for war, it is said that it is a state of mind all blandring

Should be permanently in, rather than a physical readiness.

–          Blandring and Belief – pg 75 2nd edition.

 

Emma had thought a degree in Rift Cultures and journalism would be a good idea in the current environment. The world was changing, the Others were here to stay and the only way to live with such extreme difference of culture (and in many cases physicality) was to understand said cultures.

As it turned out, it had rendered her almost unemployable. Her ten thousand word thesis on the Fifteen Minute War and its effects had been a waste of time. How she managed to get ten thousand words out of such a brief period was beyond her. Like most conflicts, it could be summed up in a handful bullet points.

–          The Rift happened.

–          The blandring dutifully carried their axes and hammers and were ready for war at all times.

–          The blandring were told by the human government that they could not carry axes and hammers and should probably only be ready for war a few times a year.

–          The blandring decided they would not stand for such oppression and will not be ruled by a blasphemous government and gathered their forces and marched on parliament.

–          In the classic game of rock paper scissors, it is well known that assault rifles always beat axes and hammers.

–          The Blandring uprising was quelled in 14 minutes and 52 seconds. 58 were killed, 34 injured and many arrests were made.

Baldus went inside his flat grumbling audibly. Emma waited for him to return, when he did, a crude stone hammer hung from his neck. In her opinion it was still large enough to be considered a weapon, but decided to let that be decided by the police. There was always a police presence outside Ortha House, just to make sure the locals were integrating properly, and to arrest all those that weren’t.

Emma couldn’t blame them really. The pair exited the lift and passed through the cluttered and half destroyed foyer. She could see the unmarked police cars on the perimeter of the grounds already. Whilst the majority of those that lived in Ortha House were law abiding citizens just trying to make an honest living, some were level three shadow demons from the Realm of Darkness that occasionally consumed human souls, so precautions had to be taken. That and a Blandring who lived on the third floor had taken to selling drugs. It only took one idiot to ruin everything for everyone else.

They made it past the police cars without incident. Baldus lingered longer than necessary, in the hope of provoking a bored looking officer, but thankfully the officer in question didn’t look up from his phone.

‘Little boxes have stolen your souls!’ He grumbled as they moved on. The street lamps were beginning to flick out of life as the sun rose beyond the grey blanket of cloud. The factory wasn’t too far away. After months of unemployment Emma had secured an admin role at a meat packing company that prided itself in providing opportunities to ‘the Others’, almost 80% of their staff was made up of Rifters.

‘With your degree, you’ll be able to keep the rabble in line,’ the overseer had told her at her interview.

‘As long as you pay them, they’ll keep themselves in line. Most aren’t that different from us you know?’ she replied. The overseer nodded, grinning a broad and self-satisfied smile.

‘Oh yes, except none of them are unionised and have no concept of minimum wage. The ogres… they only need to sleep every four days and the little tasks we give them keep their simple minds occupied.’

‘So, you’re treating them like slaves?’

‘You could say that, but…’

‘But what?’

‘Oh nothing, just a figure of speech.’

 

Recreating Success.

My collection of short stories The Tiny Compendium of Ridiculousness has sold around 50-60 copies. This means I only need to sell about 700-800 more for it to be considered a catastrophic failure.  It is perhaps very niche in its appeal and marketed entirely on this blog and my Instagram account, so 50-60 copies is surprising. Whilst I attempt to find an publisher for my actual hard work and full serious novel (three rejections so far), I keep myself sane by writing more short stories. Therefore, it is a joy and a privilege to announce that there will indeed be a follow up to The Tiny Compendium of Ridiculousness called The Minute Collection of Absurdity.

This is a work in progress at this moment and I can only confirm a handful of the short stories that will be appearing in it. They are as follows:

The Man who Believed he was an Octopus:

This has appeared in an early draft on this very blog if you were paying attention, which of course you were not. It got 8 likes, 8!  It follows the story of a young boy growing up and struggling to accept himself for who he truly is, which is an octopus.

The Establishment’s Eating Habits.

Frank works in the Houses of Parliament. He regularly sees, and sometimes interacts with, members of the governing elite. Had this been published sooner I’d be hailed as the genius who correctly predicted the EU referendum result and the American Presidential Election.

Anyway, Frank works in the Houses of Parliament. It is a cold winter, a now independent Scotland is clamouring for war. They finally got what they wanted, only to find that reality is always a bitch. Frank begins to grow suspicious of the elected officials he works for. He always sees them with food, but never eating. Against the advise of friends and colleagues he investigates to find that it’s not just their own heads that they constantly shove up their arses.

The Woman Who Has Everything and is Incredibly Happy.

Money cannot buy you happiness, but it can buy you things and that’s pretty much the same.

The Life Lesson.

Various people from various backgrounds all do shit and learn something.

The Snake Summoning Tennis Racket.

Jamie Kendall wants nothing more than to win Wimbledon. She asks her local demon to grant her this one wish. The demon gives her the greatest tennis racket that ever did exist, forged from the spine of an angel and the guts of … I dunno… Jesus? she cannot lose if she uses that racket. However, every time she hits something with it, it summons snakes.

 

and maybe some more, who knows the last two were just made up on the spot.

Download the Tiny Compendium of Ridiculousness.

 

 

 

Just Went Out For Coffee.

The below is a true story, albeit embellished in places. I decided to document my mundane adventures as if it were lofty prose, because there are many hours in the day that need to be filled somehow.

***

It was a cold day. Not too cold, but cold enough to make people say “ooh, that’s a bit cold.” Our story starts a few weeks after our hero lost his job for using company software to instigate an office wide rap battle. The official reason was “gross misconduct” which he reasoned was the same as normal misconduct, except done naked. He made the same joke at his disciplinary hearing. No one laughed, glances were exchanged. He still maintained the whole thing was a team building exercise, they countered that it was simply him avoiding doing any meaningful work.

Our hero – who for the sake of argument we will call Jasper – once again found himself endlessly applying for jobs. Any job would do. It is often said that the key to success is perseverance. Plugging away endlessly will eventually lead you to your goals. It is also said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. If both these statements are true, then logically, the key to success is insanity, which is all very well, but hardly sustainable.

Jasper hit the submit button for an application to Which? Magazine. A strange organization. They seemed to be an authority on just about anything. “Best washing up liquid as voted by Which? Magazine.” “Best estate agents as voted by Which? Magazine.” “Best internet provider as voted by Which? Magazine.” Jasper doubted their credentials; no one could claim specialist knowledge on such an eclectic mix of products.

Enough was enough. His eyes hurt and he had not blinked for a good few hours. The blue light leaking from his computer screen was slowly frying his retinas and melting his brain. There was only so many times he could lie about why he wanted to work for various companies. No one wanted to work for the 60 plus years until they were decrepit or dead, it all came down to financial necessity. It was time for a coffee. He stood up and donned his bobbleless hat. It did once have a bobble, but he forcibly removed it. No one over the age of 9 should have a bobble about their person. It looked odd and served no purpose. The only logical purpose he could see would be if a bird were to perch atop his head, which he would not appreciate. He thought the hat gave him a working-class look. However, in truth it made him look like an exceptionally middleclass person attempting to look working-class.

He found his jacket and slipped on his loafers, life was too short to be fannying about with laces every time he left the flat.   He lived in the centre of a vibrant, modern town. Some might say it had fallen victim to gentrification, meaning that it was wall to wall coffee shops and estate agents and the occasional estate agents with a coffee shop inside. Jasper often wondered why the coffee growing nations of the world didn’t rise up and use their ample stock of roasted coffee beans to become a global superpower. By holding coffee hostage they could easily bring western civilisation to its knees.

He patted himself down. Phone… Wallet… all good. He passed through his three doors, down a flight of steps and out into the world. He entered his popular coffee chain of choice and joined the queue. Already he could feel the ever present rage begin to bubble up from his stomach into his chest. The queue was not long, but there was only one person serving and the man at the front was clearly doing an office run, an unnecessarily expensive and needlessly complex daily exercise.

“No, that’s 3 flat whites, one decaf soy latte and four cappuccinos, chocolate on two, no chocolate on one, and chocolate on exactly half of the last.” The man rudely bellowed out his order to the poor flustered girl, whom Jasper recognised as the one that would refuse to meet his eye ever since she forgot to lock the toilet door and he entered to see her sat mid shit. Frustratingly, it was the closest Jasper had come to an erotic experience for a long time. His penis was purely a decorative appendage these days.

“So two flat whites?” She asked smeared in coffee grinds.

“No three flat whites!” The man retorted.

Jasper had no idea what a flat white was, he only knew he hated them just as he hated the man ordering them. He wished it wasn’t illegal to beat him to death with a chair leg, or melt him in a vat of boiling flat whites.

“Here’s the decaf soy latte,” said the girl popping a paper cup into a cardboard holder.

“Is it super decaf?” Asked the man critically.

“Erm… no,” said the carefree shitter.

“It needs to be super decaf. If Wendy even has so much as a whiff of caffeine she immediately dies!” the man exclaimed sending the girl back to the whirring spluttering machine.

Two hours later Jasper left with his coffee, angrier than he had ever been in his life. It was at that moment his brain decided to remind him of the third step to the leaving the flat dance. It doesn’t stop after wallet. It goes Phone… Wallet… Keys. He had left out what was perhaps the most important step. He frantically started patting down his pockets with his one free hand. Modern clothes are made with what he viewed as an unnecessary number of pockets, so this took him some time his anger growing all the while.

He had no keys.

His flat mate, who was possessed with more self-control than him, was still employed. Although that may have something to do with the fact that she had a made up job title and a good day’s work consisted of saying the words “E-learning environment” over and over again. However, at work she was and her work was in the next town over.

At times like these, Jasper found him awash with inconsolable anger. He would froth at the mouth and hurl out expletives by the dozen. He would be angry with himself first and foremost, for forgetting his keys. He would be angry with humanity as a whole, for being so shit that the concept of a lock and key need be invented, lest people come into other people’s houses to murder them and/or steal their shit. Thirdly, he be angry with his parents. His existence, and subsequently his current predicament was all their fault.

Taking a deep breath he reasoned he could just go to the estate agents. They would have spare keys and if he explained the situation in a calm manner, they would get him back in.

He pressed the buzzer to the estate agents. After a lengthy pause a voice rasped through the speaker.

“Yes?”

“I’m Jasper!” he declared his coffee having amplified his rage to untold levels. It took him sometime to see through the red fog to realise that announcing his name would not be enough.

“From 7B!” he said, “I did the pat down dance wrong.” He said.

“Locked out?” said the estate agent.

“That I am. Have you spare keys?”

The door was buzzed open and he entered the run down little office building. In a small room were his agents in a cluttered, open plan office. A man who looked very estate agenty, with smart black hair slicked back and a shirt and tie approached him. Jasper did not think himself a judgemental man, but if pressed he would have to describe the man before him as a bellend.

“7b you say? Let me have a look, we have spare keys.” He said before disappearing. Jasper stood glaring around at the wretched scum and tosspots about him, feeling very exposed. He felt that if he lingered too long he might catch a serious case of arsehattery. The agent returned with a smug look of accomplishment on his face. He handed Jasper a pair of keys. Jasper regarded them with an unimpressed look.

“There are only two keys.” He said.

“Yes!” The man said, chest swelling with pride.

“There are three doors to the property.” Jasper explained. The man regarded him with a dubious look, tinted with a healthy dollop of suspicion.

“Well… that’s all we have.” He said. Jasper frowned wondering just what sort of moron he was dealing with. At a loss for words he retreated from the office and headed back to his flat. Needless to say neither key worked on the outside door. However, quick thinking as ever he formulated a plan. He had forged an alliance with those who worked in the milkshake shop, who also had access to that very door.

“Good afternoon. I am locked out, could you please let me through the front door,” he said entering the milkshake shop, one of many that had burst into existence in recent years. He had no idea how they stayed in business, as he had never heard of anyone express an interest in an Oreo flavoured milkshake, let alone think to buy one at one in the afternoon on a winters day.

“We can’t let anyone upstairs for insurance reasons.” Said the girl in a state of panic. Jasper frowned. The girl was young, a little plump and dim looking. He was confused, as he had not mentioned stairs, he had certainly not said anything that would be in breach of insurance policies.

“No… I need you to open the door for me.” He said as softly as he could, the girl, like a startled elk looked ready to bolt at any minute.

“What door?” she asked.

“The front one. The black one. Has a large 7 on it.” He explained taking care to use one syllable words.

After some time, the girl opened the door for him. He was home at last. He thought.

Only to find neither of the two keys the estate agent had proudly bestowed upon him worked in the second door either. Just what he held the keys too was beyond him. Perhaps they were the keys to someone’s heart. He hoped they were the keys to the estate agent’s heart, so he could return repeatedly and jab them deep into his ribs.

It seemed… he had to get the bus to the next town over.

***

The bus driver looked like an older, slightly fatter Harry Potter, who having been kicked out of the wizarding world had resigned himself to driving a bus. As per usual, getting the bus during the day was like being in Dawn of the Dead. Hordes of shuffling old people dragging their ridiculous wheely bags clogged up the busses, huffing and puffing at the audaciousness of the young, daring to sit down. Each one seemed to enjoy a lengthy conversation with Harry Potter about nothing. Jasper asked for a return to the next town.

He did not hear the price, but simply handed over a fiver, the face of the queen giving him a mocking look. The driver took the note and stared at him expectantly. Jasper looked around wondering if Harry had finally snapped, or whether he had had a stroke.

“£5.50.” said Harry. The rage was rising once again. Five pounds and fifty pence, for one bus journey. For the third time Jasper enjoyed the idea of murdering someone.

He handed over another fifty pence and off they went.

It was at that point that Jasper realised just how talented the bus driver was. He was driving the bus, whilst reading a newspaper and eating a sandwich. Jasper would struggle to do any one of those things on their own. Just how much attention was being paid to the road was another question entirely, but it was impressive nonetheless. If they were to crash and die, Jasper knew his grave stone would read “it was an article on Brexit.”

It took over an hour to get there, collect his flatmate’s keys and then return. At which point he decided that the day was a right off and drank himself into a stupor. The next morning he received an angry call from the estate agent demanding he return the spare keys as soon as possible as they were their only spares and would not be able to access the property in case of an emergency. Jasper did his best to explain that there was only two keys for three doors, and those two keys did not work anyway, so even if they did have them they would not be able to enter the flat in an emergency. He also did his best to explain that any ‘emergency’ would probably require people to leave the flat not get in. He asked under what circumstances they would need access to the flat. There the phone call ended.

Two days later he received a letter saying the landlord had to get extra keys cut and he would be charged for this.

Jasper checked his emails for responses to job applications. He found one from Red Strip estate agents saying that he did not seem qualified to be an estate agent. He closed his laptop and went to get a coffee.

 

 

The Start of Something Mediocre

Two choices exist for someone with greater knowledge than most. One: use such knowledge for the betterment of mankind, or two: use such knowledge for the betterment of a man[1]. Samantha Gardner knew of other worlds, she had visited some and read brochures on others. Due to a drunk driving incident, a Darubian pilot crashed his spacecraft into her bedroom. Fortunately, Darubian’s are four inches tall and the only damage done was a broken window and a wireless radio. However, that one event opened Samantha’s eyes to the real world, or rather universe. In exchange for not going to the police the drunk Darubian offered Samantha knowledge and technological wonders that other humans could only dream of.

Considering Samantha was working as an estate agent at the time, she decided it was in her best interest not to go to the police to report an interplanetary incident of drunk driving. Three days later, as promised a ship arrived in her driveway complete with camouflage. To the casual observer it resembled a car[2]. From that point on, she dedicated her life to the acquiring of knowledge and the study of the known universe. This swiftly became boring so she instead set up her own detective agency.

Of course she had tried. She visited great powerful civilisations to find the secret to a lasting global peace. Unfortunately, the answer went against every pacifistic notion ever conceived. As it turned out the only way to achieve a lasting peace was to flock to likeminded people and instigate a long and bloody war with other groups of likeminded people, until there was only one group left. Once everyone else was dead, peace and harmony could reign. As it was some of Samantha’s best friends were earthlings so the idea of dealing out death and destruction was unappealing to her.

She didn’t want to give up on diplomacy, alas a sympathetic Nyoiman of the Selabon system told her.

“All civilisations develop diplomatic institutions as a means to delay. As they talk about peace and trade deals they’re really just waiting until they’re sure their arsenal is up to the task of annihilating their enemies. In diplomacy, people can lie, they can twist words to mean whatever they want them to mean, some people are adept at using hundreds of words to say nothing. They can hide their weaknesses with their words, shield themselves from the strong with treaties and agreements. When your enemies are burnt to ashes, nothing needs to be said.”

So humanity had that to look forward to.

In the meantime, Samantha had to earn a living somehow.

***

 

 

[1] Or Woman as it is in this case.

[2] A blue one, 2016 plate.