"…narrow beam of light which retracted suddenly into the craft. Air Traffic Controllers and Military declined to comment, however local law enforcement say they are keeping an open mind. And in other news…"
Alan propped himself on one elbow and reached out to silence the radio. He fell back and stared at the ceiling. Waves of nausea pulsed in him and he groaned. Fucking flu, he thought, that’s all I need. He nudged his sweat-soaked pillow onto the floor and remembered it was a weekday. I’m getting up to phone in soon, he decided. Mid-morning street sounds came as if squeezed through a tube. Distant traffic and far off shouts lowered to a whisper. Sunlight filtered through the blinds.
Fragments of a dream floated in his mind. Cold hands pressing him flat on a steel table… shrill voices screeching in his head… a ring of grey faces watching him… eyes, black and lifeless... the persistent whine of drilling… an explosion in the nape of his neck.
Hours later the sun had moved and a chill breeze stirred the air.
"Alan, pick up if you’re there… Alan…?" The answer-phone bleeped and fell silent. Sheba appeared at the door, tail aloft. She sprang onto the bed and crept slowly over the crumpled sheets. After sniffing a small bloodstain she turned two circles and settled down to wait.
"I need to explain. You-have-to-lis-ten," he was thumping the desk with his fist to emphasise each syllable. The headache had grown worse after dark and the lump in his neck burned like fire. The police officer didn’t answer but turned and called a colleague, “Jim, here a minute will you?”
Alan fingered his neck and a new image crashed into his head. The greys stretched a thin latex sheet over him and attached the corners beneath the table. A soft vibration and hum began as a suffocating vacuum was introduced. His screams were stifled under hot shrink-wrap.
Jim appeared at the desk and eyed him slowly from head to toe. "First things first sir, where are your clothes?"
Two hundred and fifty miles above in the upper atmosphere hung a vast flying V. Inside six grey beings were seated in a circle studying a 3D holographic presentation which hovered at their centre. DNA analysis, brainwaves and chemical structure were laid out with mathematical clarity for inspection. Each chart and report bore the title "Alan Henderson."
31 August 2005
27 August 2005
JJ’s beautiful daughters recently picked me as joint winner of a little guessing game on her blog and I was promised a prize in the mail all the way from Massachusetts. I am not sure I was an entirely worthy winner but JJ is a woman of her word and a parcel duly arrived a mere five days after posting and here is a picture. A Book of Answers, two CDs and an amazing Machine which plays a range of relaxing natural sounds. Thanks for some great prizes JJ.
When I learned that Grace was visiting a friend in a seaside town not too far from where I live we thought, wouldn’t it be fun to meet! You know, put a full character to the name. A few e-mails soon sorted out the arrangements and some text messages on the day ensured we converged on the same spot. Un-seasonal rain failed to dampen conversation over pizza and the obligatory Diet Coke. Thanks for a great afternoon Grace.
20 August 2005
The climb had been daunting, a modern building has such smooth sides. As he cleared each storey office workers had given rapturous silent applause behind toughened glass. Crouched now on a narrow ledge high above the traffic he thought, perhaps my angle of approach is wrong?
‘What do you mean, should you have taken the elevator?’ sneered the sarcastic inner voice which had dogged him all these years.
As usual his reply was earnest, no not the elevator, I was thinking more about why I’m here than how I got here.‘Well fuck you, you’ll just analyse until it’s all too late pal!’
His inner voice always had the last word. Most people seemed to have the last word with him these days. Conversations buzzed around him every day, in the office, at the grocery store and in the street. Individuals with fully formed opinions on trivia, idiots with detailed knowledge of jack shit, chatty, happy and ignorant. That clatter had a way of worming its way into his skull and settling in. It irritated him beyond belief that banality should overwhelm intellectual intensity. Today he had needed to find a place where he could be serious without interruption.
Carefully he rose to his feet, a couple minutes more effort would take him to the flat roof. He pressed his bleeding fingers into joints between the concrete and pulled the weight of his body up. His toes found the same cracks. He hooked an arm over the parapet wall, hung briefly before hoisting himself on his palms then collapsed onto the roof. Crushing winds howled from a terrifyingly high sky and threatened to topple him. He was so nearly part of that clear blue void.
The gale blew him to the services cabin from which an iron ladder, which was bolted to the side, rose vertically to a gantry stacked with satellite dishes. The ladder was cheating really. Above the communications hardware a caged spiral stairway led to a radio mast. Gasping for breath now he clung to the swaying antenna, wrapped his legs around the pole, reached up and pulled. With each pull he drew his legs up and re-established his grip.
So I analyse too much do I? he thought. Well I’m done with thinking now. He looked up and closed his fingers over the tip of the antenna, his muscles burning. The flat roof seemed small one hundred and fifty feet below.
He felt the mast sway heavily and closed his eyes against the biting wind. Each swing carried him way over the edge of the building to present a brief view of his sickening height. He readjusted his precarious grip and clenched tighter with his knees as the mast bent wildly under storm force gusts. This is the place they mean when they say remote. Why had he come to find himself in this lofty and lonely position? He allowed himself to look down at the street and saw miniature cars hurrying to and fro, people with purpose and energy. What happened to my purpose and my energy?
Suddenly a small voice rose from directly beneath him.
“Can I come up and just talk to you? Please?” She asked.
17 August 2005
an emotional sceptic
raised on guilt and shame
he was given nothing
but breath and a name
drinking back the anger
swimming against the tide
to keep alive the notion
of self-taught love and pride
a code of holy pressure
stunted nature’s growth
blind belief in heaven
ignores the hell on earth
life and love forever
he sees between the cracks
as half a century later
he peels the layers back
14 August 2005
Thank you guys! These games are interesting, they always force you to think hard about yourself.
10 Years Ago:I was just two year into sobriety and still angry and bad tempered. I let my irritation show to anyone foolhardy enough to come near. I told my employer to stick the job they wanted me to do and opted instead to slide down the corporate ladder to a tedious administrative role requiring little thought and no concentration. I played mind-numbing games on a Commodore Amiga 1200 and read Stephen King. I fended off all advances for friendship, both female and male. I drove a ten-year-old Ford Sierra and watched a 20 inch TV.
5 Years Ago:I went to the French Alps on holiday. Everyone now knew why I drank Diet Coke. Graduated to a five-year-old Ford Mondeo and a 36 inch widescreen TV. By now I knew my working days were numbered, I just hoped to get as close to fifty as I could before getting paid off.
1 Year Ago:I flew to Florida with my wife and younger son for two lazy weeks in a villa on the Gulf Coast. As soon as we returned I went into hospital for surgery on my right elbow to relieve tendonitis. For the first time in my life I wore a plaster cast. The same month I had two teeth pulled and three more root-canal filled. I shaved my head nearly to the bone.
I booked tickets online to see new punk trio “The Subways” at The old Fire Station in Bournemouth. I visited in-laws out of a sense of duty. As a reward I started researching a new digital Canon with seven mega pixels. I spoke to a stranger I’ve known all my life.
Tomorrow:I will drive to work with the windows rolled down listening to “Can You Touch Me” by The Film. It’s the music from the TV commercial for the Peugeot 406 – I finally tracked down the single. I will browse the new release racks at HMV and sit in my favourite park with sandwiches at lunchtime.
Snacks I enjoy:1. choc chip cookies
3. brazil nuts
4. any and all chocolate
5. extra strong mints
Bands That I Know the Lyrics to Most of Their Songs:
2. Pink Floyd
3. Cheap Trick
Things I Would Do with $100,000,000:1. acquire an Island in the Ocean
2. build a small but perfectly formed home
3. throw a giant party
4. keep back enough to survive
5. give the rest to childrens charities
Locations I Would Like to Run Away to:1. Palmyra Atoll
2. Easter Island
3. Dark Side of the Moon
4. anywhere remote
5. the past
Habits I Have:1. not listening
4. looking back
Things I Like Doing:1. riding my Yamaha
2. driving my Ford
3. swimming in the ocean
4. walking along the seashore
5. walking in the forest
Things I would Never Wear:1. raincoat
4. white trousers
TV Shows I Like(d):1. Edge of Darkness
2. The Singing Detective
3. When the Boat Comes in
4. Cold Case Files (US)
5. Unsolved Mysteries (US)
Movies I Like:1. The Exorcist
4. American Graffiti
5. Donnie Darko
Famous People I would Like to Meet:1. Arthur C Clarke
2. John McEnroe
3. Jonathan Miller
4. Dave Gilmour
5. Patrick Moore
Biggest Joys at the Moment:1. talking and listening
4. diet coke
5. five more pay cheques until redundancy
Favourite toys:1. grey alien
2. voice recognition software
4. dimmer switches
5. volume control
There doesn't seem anyone left to tag... Except Finnegan or Flea what do you say guys?
12 August 2005
Sometimes my mind drifts and I think with piercing clarity
a million people stand in my way
iridium lenses shield against eye contact
a beautiful barrier
minding my own business
incessant conversations in my skull
words I can’t speak
drag a finger along the railings to pick up germs
freezer needs defrosting
i’m not talking to you
reflections in a window resolve into the view beyond
everyone else is needlessly boring
a different journey please on new roads
a woman i could love
treading water not waving but drowning
supposedly intelligent actually retarded
a rice pudding with tender skin
what fucking saviour
do you know that Artesian well
walk the wing of a 747 eight miles high
leap from the 48th
mainline de-sensitising agents
tea and toast
hell of a holiday
is anyone sitting here
dry properly between your toes
rotting red roadkill
angelic choir church and steeple
charisma bypass or character transplant
10 million seconds to live
3 months to die
it is now safe to switch off your computer
3,291 units of length
perfectly precious people prefer private promises
taking the utmost care
barrel pressed to temple
angry happy sad rules for archiving and destruction
report unattended baggage
i so badly want to drink an Ocean
eyes wide ears flat
take me to your dealer
wireless trip wire
portent omen sign harbinger prophecy
alive at least
11 August 2005
06 August 2005
Animal hides pulled high around their necks, they wore their hair long and unkempt. This unwashed huddle hunkered down on haunches. Forming a circle twelve-strong they watched attentively the stranger in their midst. Craning their necks to get a better view, black eyes darting nervously from the stranger’s face to his slim, graceful fingers. A murmur of guttural tones greeted his preparations.
Watery afternoon sun slanted across sinew, tendon and weather-beaten flesh. Their primitive intellects had been promised a gift and they would settle for no less. He knelt at their centre, this tall man of athletic build, this elemental magician, this modern Prometheus, an old man of twenty seven summers, blue-eyed and blonde, brow knitted in concentration.
Bark prised from a dead tree limb lay before him. In it he had gouged a neat hole just big enough to admit a fingertip. Into the hole he inserted one end of a short straight stick. He began rubbing the stick between his flattened palms, spinning it in the hole and the men watched curling wisps of grey smoke. His drilling produced hot, powdery sawdust which glowed cherry red when he blew on it. From a fold in his hide he deftly withdrew a dry cottonseed head. He touched this to the embers and it too glowed brightly.
His pursed, thin lips blew harder. A sudden flare appeared as the cotton ignited. Sounds of astonishment greeted this development but ignoring his audience he dropped the blazing cotton onto a pile of dry leaves. The onlookers flinched and retreated a pace at the first burst of fire. Now he propped twigs around the crackling magic and new flames licked them hungrily. Larger branches were ferried to him and he arranged these tent-fashion around the flickering fingers of orange and yellow.
Thick blue smoke wrapped the heap for a moment but soon red tongues darted through, hissing and snapping, burning and returning plant life to dust. The small crowd gazed in awe and wonder as green timber crackled and spat diamond sparks.
A stranger had entrusted this band with a device of heat and light and destruction. It would shape civilisations as an influence for good and evil, industry and warfare. Drawn to the epic power of the display no one noticed the magician was no longer among them. When at last heads turned and scanned the distance, a plume of dust betrayed his position on the horizon. He walked barefoot, a small hide bag on his shoulder. In it he carried cottonseed and a short straight stick.
High above him a shooting star streaked like fire across the twilight sky.