30 June 2005

Fire in the sky

Alan had been irritable again all day. He put it down to the heat. July always made him tired. This afternoon he hadn’t been able to think straight for more than a few seconds. The office was simmering with tension. Behind him Jenny pulled a beaker from the stack and the water dispenser gurgled loudly for the hundredth time. Closing his eyes he pursed his lips and blew.

“That’s a big sigh Alan.” Ignoring her, he rubbed circles on the nape of his neck over a tense muscular ache. Suddenly he flung his pens into the drawer and pushed the lock. As he shut down his PC he called out to anyone listening, “If Gary calls about that contract again, tell him I’ve fucking died...” Alan had been acting strangely for weeks.

Thumbing the car window let in a scorching blast of July. He touched the knot in his neck again as he swung into the early rush-hour. If pressed later, he would have been unable to recall the ten-mile drive.

Someone had painted his garage door dark green. It was a furnace inside. He peeled off his shirt in the kitchen and dropped it. Tugging the refrigerator door brought delicious cool waves over his glistening chest. With deep concentration he chose a Diet Coke. Cold vapour spilled from the open fridge as he snapped the ringpull and drank.

Suffocating air filled the house. Alan climbed the stairs to his bedroom, leaning heavily on the rail. The curtains were closed and the window open yet the bedroom was an oven. Flinging his jeans into a corner he flopped onto the bed panting from the exertion. Eventually he slept.

Tail aloft, a pretty black cat stole silently into her master's bedroom. She crouched briefly then sprang noiselessly onto the bed. It was empty. Sheba smelt his sweat on the crumpled sheet and stretched out to wait.

At 7:00 am the radio came alive: “Eye witnesses report a giant orange V-shape in the night sky...” Alan heard this and snapped awake. Total paralysis gripped him, movement was impossible. “The Military is studying home-video footage of the craft, said to be longer than a football field...”

“...made no noise, while others reported a faint hum and a smell like electrical burning.” White hot pain stabbed through his head. His eyes followed the slow rotation of the ceiling fan. Sheba crept close and sniffed his face.

Blood trickled from his ears. There was something prickling in his neck...

"He buzzes like a fridge
He's like a de-tuned radio."
Radiohead - Karma Police


V said...

Nice story! Perfect light reading during my lunch hour.

This is the kind of story I'd find in those graphic books that I've been reminiscing about lately. Nice.

Kimberly said...

I have the music in my head from those Michael Meyers 'Halloween' films :-)
ne ner ne ner ne ner ne ner..


all coz I read this...good post!

RuKsaK said...

You caught me off guard with this one - we are both on the same wavelength of trying something new it seems. Basically, you really goosed me with this one and I'm still thinking about it.

RuKsaK said...

...which is a good thing.

transience said...

i agree with RuK. the different style is jarring in an almost sensual way. i like how you give life to inanimate objects. i use this tool quite frequently (since i obfuscate a lot) and i am delighted that you wield it with such dexterity.

Perfect Virgo said...

V - I thought a little light relief from the depths of despair would be in order. The only graphic novel I own is "From Hell," a take on the Jack the Ripper story which became a Johnny Depp film of the same name.

Kimberly - spooky isn't it... I'm a big fan of alien abduction, close encounters and UFOs. But then I like anything unusual.

Ruk - this came into my head as I was absent-mindedly watching a TV trailor for a documentary on the theme. I enjoy trying new subjects and styles just as you have recently. It stretches the mind.

I particularly like unresolved endings, they work provided the reader can see the direction things are moving in. We all know no one will believe this guy if he reports his experience but hopefully we feel we know just enough to be on his side.

Transience - I wanted to break the spell of sentimentalism that seems to have pervaded my recent writing. I love expressing deeply emotional feelings but needed to flex other muscle-groups to balance the development.

I read your posts several times before deciding which is metaphor and which is reality. Being deliberately ambiguous is a powerful tool, as is intentionally providing only light touches of detail. The discerning reader will build the bigger picture from the clues.

I think we discern don't we!

nin said...

nice blog...keep posting....

Kimberly said...

PV: will you be writing more like this?
I hope so. I like when you change it up, gives you mroe of a 'deep' feeling you know?

Perfect Virgo said...

Avik - thanks, I plan to.

Kimberly - I've been staring deep into my soul lately and re-examining values and relationships. Sometimes I look so deeply I get scared of what I see. Middle-age makes a man edgy.

Pieces like this and the 'Gas Station' one from a few weeks ago are a way for me to let off steam and try new ideas. Oh yes, I plan to write more!

Dionysius said...

Very nice. I love the usage of the cat as a continuity item. I have a cat that comes in through my skylight over my bed at times of his choosing, day or night. In winter when it is closed he meows wildly and slides on the glass to wake me up to let him in. Sometimes I get a wet fur or even the odd time some snow with his appearance.

I am very curious about crop circles. Since Southern England is a common sighting place I am curious to learn what your put is on them. There is a scientific explanation that I do believe in strongly as to their explanation but I would first like to hear if any of your writers such as Kimberly, Finnegan, Doughgirl, CJ, JJ, Ruksak, Grace, Jen, and of course yourself are willing to give me theirs first.

doughgirl said...


Whenever you write like this, I know that you have gone through a period of self examination.

Then you write these things to take your mind off of whatever it is that you have seen.

I often wonder what it is or was that made you want to look the other way. Sometimes I think that I catch glimpses of it, it will take time to put it all together. I am up for it though.

These pieces always intrigue me as I know that some part of you is connected here as well. The escape maybe, Im not sure. Maybe its the endings...that someone else can finish them for you or take you to the next level..I look forward to the next chapter

Love ya

JJ said...

If you weren't married I ask you to marry me. That was beautiful!

Perfect Virgo said...

Dionysius - good spot about the cat! I could have just described the empty bed but the cat reference was irresistable. Wet fur sounds fun, you couldn't make him stay outside...

Crop circles have a tarnished reputation here. People gazed in wonder at first and theorised about small whirlwinds, electro-magnetic forces and alien craft. The attention seemed to draw out the hoaxers who wasted no time in developing elaborate patterns in the wheat fields of Wiltshire.

They blew their own cover by appearing on TV and giving demonstrations of their crop-flattening techniques with rope and wooden boards. Consequently the majority of folk here dismiss the circles and the remainder write books about them.

I've seen some in the fields on Salisbury Plain and they are mystifying. If they are not man-made then I have no idea how they appear. I would love to hear your theory D. ('Stonehenge' is in the same County.)

DG - delighted that you are up for reading between my lines and fathoming my depths! You are a clever girl and I am sure are piecing together the clues I drop.

Correct, writing is an escape for me so when I have been staring into my own soul and ended up scared stiff of the possible futures for me I go running for cover.

You are so right about "taking my mind off it," it's like me changing the subject when I don't like the current topic. My fictional stories are me hiding from reality. I love the loose endings because they engage the reader more, I think. They also lay open the possibility of a follow-up. I liked this one so look out for part two sometime...

Take care on two wheels. Love you too.

JJ - you're giving my confidence a boost, glad this story appealed to you! Yes I'm married, that's why I escape here to play of course. 27 years - I'd have got less for murder...

Anyway, the biggest obstacle is that we are siblings! But I hear some countries don't frown on that so I won't give up hope!!

doughgirl said...


Crop circles have always interested me. Funny thing though, I never really investigated them or looked into them any futher than what I have seen on tv or in the movies...Why???

Well simply because everything that I love is always explained by hoax or whatever. Not investigating them means that I also do not have to hear the medias answers to what ideas I have in my head.

Perfect looking forward to the next chapter here and in the underlying story :)

Perfect Virgo said...

DG - Not sure where I'm going with this story but there's definitely more mileage in it so watch this space.

finnegan said...

Being deliberately ambiguous is a powerful tool, as is intentionally providing only light touches of detail. The discerning reader will build the bigger picture from the clues.

Well, that's it, as anyone knows the RKO work of the great Val Lewton can attest. His belief in obscuring the horror, was the antithesis of today's film ethos---namely that what cannot be seen packs more psychological punch than all the technical trickery in the world. It's much subtler to hint at the root level of our fears; let the audience have at it in their own minds.

Did I mention film?

Well, this new direction seems to hint at it, doesn't it?

Perfect Virgo said...

Finnegan - I just checked the biography of Val Lewton on IMDB. An old-timer who deserves closer inspection I feel. I am a great believer in the ethic "less is more." That applies to writing as well as film.

Today's film-goers seem to need leading by the nose and having their shocks served up to a formula. Shyamalan is perhaps one of the very few modern mainstream directors to show a jot of originality.

Yes, you quite rightly mentioned film! I ought to have dropped a less blatant clue than filching the very title! Now I think about it, "Fire in the Sky" shows no abduction detail until its final stages. Less is more. I love that film and picked up the DVD last year.

I feel another chapter coming on...