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THIS IS CHAPTER THREE. The Story Of The Man is a surreal picaresque piece intended for adults. With regard to tone, it juxtaposes between the mundane and the extreme whilst also underpinned with an ironic dark humour.

It’s written in first person from the point of view of a nameless, naive, good natured young man who finds himself in a harsh alternate dystopian version of present day Britain. He appears to have no agenda and similarly approaches all situations from a neutral journalistic manner. This contracts greatly with most of the pivotal characters who are introduced with nightmarish back stories.

As the story progresses he is presented with a Faustian bargain whereby ultimately he must follow what he believes to be morally correct and suffer the consequences or either be coerced into leading a more materially comfortable but corrupt existence.

-It doesn’t end particularly well.

Chapter 3


Hello my name is Phil. I live in a large hotel with one thousand, two-hundred identically dressed men who range from all sorts of ages, colours and needs. All the rooms are the same size and furnished with a bunk bed, a small wooden table with two chairs and a stainless steel toilet. The brick walls are painted white with just one square hole in the one that faces outside …I’d like to call it a window but I’m not sure it actually is as it doesn’t have any glass, just three vertical metal bars and a perspex covering. As you can imagine, it can get a little chilly in the winter. Oh I nearly forgot! There’s also the big metal door that has a grill to look out of and a handle that can only be operated on the outside. I admit that the facilities in here are quite basic but I can’t complain too much as we’re all given food and made to feel safe by the staff that work here. My normal daily routine consists of being woken up at six thirty, along with the rest of the occupants on my wing, we then have half an hour to make our beds, put on our grey shirts and trousers before taking our ablutions downstairs in the communal showers. After this we head to the Food hall where we have breakfast. We’re also joined by the occupants from the other wings of the hotel, eating back to back and side by side at the ten dining tables that impressively run right along the entire length of the hall. If you’re lucky you can get a decent seat and depending on who you’re sitting next to, catch up with all the latest gossip. Once the klaxon sounds, we’re then given five minutes to finish our meals and deposit our cups, plates and cutlery on the stacking trolleys before making our way to the assembly area where we are all counted and marched off to our designated workstations.

I suppose the best way to describe the work is that it’s of a solid manual nature. There’s lots of standing, repetitive physical exertions of the arms and upper body such as pulling, agitating and lifting, all to the constant sound of heavy industrial machinery. My particular role is as a production line operative. It’s true that some of the other men resent having to do this work and regularly make negative comments …I admit that it can get a bit boring, especially if you believe you could be doing else however however I try to look at the broader scheme of things and understand despite our menial roles, we should all be valued as a tiny part of a vast and successful operation. Also my supervisor claims that work can make you feel free so therefore, considering that I’ve got good hand-eye co-ordination skills, I realise I must be in a pretty good position!

But it’s not all work, work, work and no play, in the evenings we have a few hours in
the rest and recreation areas where we can have the option of physical exercise
such as working out in the gymnasium or playing football. If that’s not your fancy then you can stroll around the floodlit gravel yard beneath the fifty foot high walls. There’s also mental stimulation of course, in the games room some of the men like to play cards or snooker or catch up on their latest television programme. Weekends are the best though as production in the factories are halted and everyone is encouraged to pursue a series of personal vocational project, I’m currently trying to master the Salsa dance as well studying non linear narrative in the field of early 19th century Russian literature. It’s fascinating stuff! I’ll send you a copy of my reading list if you like!

Sundays are quite special, it’s when all the tenants are led into the Great hall to enjoy some fantastic entertainment. Governor Veetman always kicks off the proceedings with a delivery of his thoughts on upcoming news or recent events, then he’s joined by his lieutenant Mr Sinatra who introduces all the new tenants. They’ll join them on stage and tell us all a little bit about themselves as well as the circumstances that led them to join the hotel in the first place. Normally, they’ll be a bit shy and not quite sure how to react. Once that’s done it’s onto the main event …The drawing of the balls. It’s a game based entirely on luck and so the winner could literally be any one of us!

And that’s my life in the hotel. It can be a little scary when you first arrive here, I was actually a bit of an emotional wreck to be honest however I was fortunate to end up with my roommate Marvin Gay who I now consider to be a good friend. Marvin’s a bit older than me and been here for fifteen years. He’s a really intelligent man and has even written several unpublished novels! He’s here because he defaced two hundred and thirty eight books from his local library, he’d tear out pages and replace them with his own text or in some cases he’d add pictures of an obscene nature. I get on well with the other men in here too, some of them are such funny characters that would probably make you shake your head in disbelief if I told you half of the things about them. Anyway, curfew time is almost upon us so until my next letter, it’s goodnight from me. Yours Sincerely, Philip Kratos.


One by one we’re slowly led into the Great hall to receive Governor Veetman’s weekly sermon. The Great hall is the largest room in the hotel with a very high skylight ceiling and oak wooden walls, decorated with an array of framed black and white photographs depicting the hotels previous governor’s. Some of these date back to over a hundred years and have the effect of making me feel very humbled to be a guest of such an institution. It’s only a matter of minutes before The drawing of the balls and so as usual, there’s a very tangible feeling of anticipation amongst us all. If you listen carefully, you can hear whispering between friends or perhaps if you look closely you may catch an exchange of deftly placed hand gestures, after all it could be any one of us holding this weeks winning little pink ticket couldn’t it?

And so there we are, in our hundreds, standing in rows upon rows upon rows of men. Around the sides of the hall are the staff members dressed with their black uniforms and shiny peaked caps. They maintain a stern watchful eye over us and ensure that we behave ourselves otherwise it’s highly likely it would be the blunt end of a chastising baton for some foolish individual. Suddenly there’s a fanfare of trumpet and cello accompaniment from the loud speakers, the heavy red curtains that line the back of the stage begin to twitch and part to reveal the familiar imposing figure of Governor Veetman.
Even from the furthest distance of The great hall there’s certainly no mistaking that deep orange tan and shiny bald head. Despite some bulk around his stomach and that he must now be well into his fifties, it’s clear that this goliath of a man has spent many years exercising in order to build such a muscular physique. I’ve heard rumours that as a young man he was a successful heavyweight wrestler who won many bouts until his career was curtailed due to him killing one of his opponents in a freak accident. Today the governor is wearing a buttoned grey blazer along with his customary white shirt and black tie, as usual his white trousers have an immaculate crease down each leg that point down to his expensive brown moccasins. He is truly a man of stature!

He stands centre stage behind his wooden lectern, casting a serious gaze over us before he makes a simple downwards patting movement with his hand to indicate that he wishes us all to be seated. We comply. The hall is filled with the sound of hundreds of men shuffling themselves onto the hard wooden floor.

From the right hand side of the stage Mr Sinatra wheels on a small trolley and positions it directly in front of the Governor. On the top of the trolley lays a portable
electric organ with the word ROWLAND written large in white letters. There’s a slight moment of embarrassment when the Governor attempts to turn the instrument on, causing a sonic flatulent squark to filter through the halls speakers. It’s met with some snorts of derision from some members of the audience, who are as a result are swiftly apprehended and forcibly removed by staff members. Back on stage Mr Sinatra is crawling on his knees next to Governor Veetman and attempting to rectify the controls on the organ until finally the governor pushes him away and brings the microphone towards his mouth.

‘This composition is in d minor. It is entitled ‘November – no respite.’ He says in his deep raspy baritone.

After an intro consisting of a tinny Bossa nova beat he slowly jabs at the organ with his huge sausage fingers and then mumbles something slurred and incomprehensible. He sways back and forth with his eyes firmly shut throughout whilst a barrage of atonal bleeps and disjointed notes splutter into the air. It is apparent even to my untrained ear that he has no rudimentary knowledge of how to play a musical instrument. After a few minutes of this din, as the the last note is ominously drawn out there follows an awkward moment of silence. Then, prompted by Mr Sinatra’s icy glare, we all erupt into a rapturous and ecstatic applause. The Governor responds with a nod of his large head and then proceeds with his speech.

‘Firstly I will begin with the good news. Mr Sinatra tells me that compared to last months figures the output on the production lines have been increased by fifteen percent. There have been a handful of indiscretions that have perverted the system along the way but on the whole you are to congratulate yourselves. Secondly I would like to issue a reminder that no member of this hotel is to deviate from their designated areas of work, eat, sleep, wash, study or play stations. Some of you may have heard that some men were recently found loitering among the fifth floor. As you are already aware, the floors above the fourth are completely off limits. If anyone is found frequenting these areas I assure you that they will be severely dealt with. Let this be a warning gentlemen. Do not mess with me or my book of rules or I will fuck you up good and proper. I will have you eating through a tube attached to a machine! Now, as we all know as is custom, we are gathered here once again to introduce some new friends into our house of little people. I’m sure you all will welcome them with a warm Anglo-Saxon heart. After all, are we not men? Mr Sinatra, bring on the new arrivals. Let’s see them!’

From stage right three men are led on by two members of staff. Despite them being dressed identically to the rest of us their petrified expressions clearly show that they are unaccustomed to their new surroundings.

‘You! That lad. Tell us about yourself,’ rasps the governor, gesturing at the light skinned young man causing Mr Sinatra to point a microphone to his face.

‘I ain’t done nothin innit. Feds turn up and try to mash it up an’ have me try admit to doing those wrong things. Right …but I ain’t done nish! I ain’t done nothin. They try an’ make it out that I’m the real bad boy an chat shit, Rah rah rah! I’m like, do I know you bruv? Cos I swear on my mother’s life that I weren’t even there …so I’m innocent right, you get me? Just go an check CCTV cos you is giving me a heart condition! I is not even allowed to get vexed cos I got high blood pressure innit. Serious …I is not doing this until I’ve seen a doctor.’

Mr Sinatra apprehends the young man by placing his right hand on his shoulder and forcibly shaking him back and forth for a few seconds.

‘Don’t you suck your teeth at the Governor!’ He warns, before nodding at another staff member. ‘Mr Grindrod. Please administer an issued Home Office approved glancing blow to this lovely man’s testicles.’

He yelps and bends forward as the staff member hits him with his baton. Mr Sinatra then begins to read from a brown clipboard.

‘This is an extremely unpleasant young man,’ says Mr Sinatra. ‘As a member of a street gang who call themselves the Beef town boys, he has terrorised the streets of Brickstown in South London for the past eighteen months. He is guilty of two counts of murder, one count of inflicting grievous bodily harm and five counts of being in possession of a dangerous weapon whilst in a public place. In order to understand the type of person standing next to me I’d like to describe the initiation process that a young man must perform before joining this gang of criminals. It would begin with the gang stealing a vehicle, this young man would be a passenger as the vehicle is driven erratically with no lit headlights as a means to agitate other road users into sounding their horn. The other road user would then be followed by this young man and his associates before being driven off the road. That’s when our man here would be required to prove his mettle by shooting indiscriminately at the vehicle …or to use his own words …he would switch them up!’

‘Tricknology! Lie, lie!’ Say’s the young man. ‘There’s no white in the white shirts you lot are wearing!’

Governor Veetman says nothing but merely flicks his left hand, indicating for the second new arrival to be brought forward. Mr Sinatra then reads from the clipboard.

‘Another despicable character sir. He shows himself as being an unfit parent by wilfully abandoning a child under the age of ten. The facts of the matter are that whilst on a day trip with his daughter, a stop was made at a petrol station just outside of Ipswich on the A1214 between Kesgrove and Murtlesham. It was at this point that he chose to leave the little girl at the petrol station and drive away.’

‘But I don’t even have a daughter! I don’t know why I’m here. I just want to go home.’
Protests the man.

Governor Veetman nods at the staff member who then strikes him sharply with his baton. Mr Sinatra then continues.

‘At the time of arrest the gentleman was recorded as saying, I quote, …after filling up with petrol I realised that I had forgotten my wallet so I offered the man inside the kiosk that I would leave my daughter as a surety that I would return with the money …unquote. That was two years ago and he never returned.’

‘What happened to the girl?’ Asks the governor.

‘I’m pleased to say that say that the proprietor of the petrol station decided to raise Susan as his own grand daughter.’ Replies Mr Sinatra.

The final man steps forward. He attempts to address the Governor.

‘May I interject with a few words in order to proclaim my innocence…’

‘Shut up!’ Shouts Mr Sinatra and the man is at once dragged backwards by a staff member.

‘Governor. Please don’t get too close to this next one. He’s highly dangerous as he’s a been diagnosed as a positive carrier of the HIF sex disease. Our records show that he was originally arrested for soliciting a number of women for purposes of prostitution. During his arrest he attempted to kill several police officers by biting and scratching them. As a result of his actions, despite no one actually dying as yet, he’s been found guilty of five counts of murder.’

‘This is all a dreadful mistake. I’m clean. I don’t have the disease. There’s nothing
wrong with me!’ Declares the man.

Governor Veetman’s eyes look angry and his orange complexion turns to rouge, his chin juts out and his cheekbones twitch as he grinds his jaws together. Then without any warning, he punches him in the stomach.

‘Bastard!’ He rasps.

The man is restrained by his arms and dragged away off to stage right to rejoin the other two new arrivals. The Governor then straightens his and then turns to face us all once more.

‘And so here’s a lesson for you all. If, like these men, you still fail to recognise the sinful lives you’ve been leading then let me assure you, you will surely suffer and suffer well at that! Thank you. I hand you over to Mr Sinatra.’

As we all stand to attention for the governor to leave the stage something quite unexpected happens,. Through a gap in the red curtains I see a slim figure dressed in a black robe. For a second I catch a glimpse of a face adorned with bright red lipstick …it’s a woman! For one magical second she glances up and looks straight at me. She’s beautiful! I stand transfixed with my mouth agape. I swear for a moment, I could even smell the sweet scent of her perfume! Then abruptly, the curtains are pulled back and she is gone.

There is a short break before the main event during which we’re allowed to talk quietly amongst ourselves without any fear of reprisals. I turn to Patrick Bird who stands next to me.

‘Did you see that woman?’ I ask.

He looks at me with that same vague expression that he always has. ‘Uh?’ He grunts.

From two lines in front and slightly to my left I catch my room mate Marvin Gay peering at me. I acknowledge him with a smile. I wonder what he must be thinking but realise that I’ll probably never know as there’s a part of him that’s very serious and hidden, as though he’s carrying a private burden. The blinds to the skylight are pulled together, momentarily plunging the entire hall into darkness before the stage is suddenly filled with bright lights of yellows, oranges and purples. A large ball coated with tiny mirrors hanging above begins to revolve slowly reflecting a cluster of white stars back at us. Over the loud speakers there’s a blast of pre recorded music comprising of high pitched trumpets, swellings of hammond organ and the loose crash of cymbals followed by the bawdy rhythms of a big band. An enthusiastic voice belonging to a person I have never seen booms over the microphone.

‘And now gentlemen. It’s twenty past eight. It’s time for the drawing of the balls! For your extreme pleasure. Please put your hands together and welcome your host …MMMMMMMMMMMISTER SINATRAAAHHH!’

The members of staff line the walls and watch us impassively as we applaud rapturously, one or two men place their hands to their faces and proceed to blow hard against their knuckles to create a most piercing whistle. The curtains then divide to reveal a shiny silver coloured backdrop with diagrams of different sizes squares adorned with glitter and large stars, the spotlight then falls to stage right before locking onto Mr Sinatra who is now wearing a golden lamé jacket. With a big grin on his face he struts energetically around the full length of the stage before he takes a tambourine and shakes it in time to the music before lobbing it into the crowd. After striking a few poses he points to specific members of the audience with exaggerated salutes of acknowledgement and cheeky asides until coming to the front of the stage where he reaches out to shake hands with a couple of members of the front row. Finally the music ends in one climactic flourish and there’s nothing to be heard but the sound of Mr Sinatra wheezing breathlessly down his microphone, his shoulders begin to hunch, he bends down with a grimace as though he’s about to keel over before suddenly in one fluid motion, he jumps up in the air with the flashing smile once restored to his face.

‘Nicky nacky noo!’ He shouts, pointing the microphone out towards the front row.

The entire audience reply back to him in with a loud ‘Nicky nacky noo!’

‘I can’t hear you, we’ll have no false platitudes here!’ Mr Sinatra says before bellowing even louder… ‘NICKY NACKY NOOOO!’

This exchange is played out for a few minutes, it’s clear that he enjoys the adulation however I can’t help wondering if these public displays of overt affability are actually genuine as he seems to perform this exact same routine every week.

‘We’re going to have some fun,’ he says whilst dabbing his sweaty brow with a white handkerchief. ‘It’s time to see which one of you is going to join me up here but first let me bring on my lovely assistant. Put your hands together for your friend and mine …Michael!’

We all applaud Mike’s entrance. A panel in the backdrop opens on it’s own as though by magic and a second spotlight falls on to it just seconds before Mike appears from it with a friendly wave. The first thing that strikes you about him is his height or rather lack of it. At around five foot he would appear considerably shorter than most however this isn’t quite fair when taken into account for the fact that he’s actually got no head and only a half of a neck. His affliction would seem horrific to the casual observer but after a while, once you’ve had time to get to know him you realise that he’s just a really nice guy. Today he’s wearing an unwashed, blood splattered t-shirt that’s emblazoned with the words FEEL THE VIBES, a blue pair of shorts, black socks pulled halfway up to his shins and a white pair of plimsols.
He pauses for moment before appearing again, pushing the drawing of the balls machine towards Mr Sinatra. I say machine but I use this term loosely as it’s basically a contraption that’s easily identified as something that’s been created from other objects. On the top there’s an upturned large goldfish bowl that’s half filled with white ping pong balls, it rests on a vacuum cleaner that’s been painted silver and stood vertical with it’s tube removed. It would also seem that its mechanism has been modified in some way so the air blows out rather than suck in, the result of this being so the balls can oscillate and rattle wildly inside the bowl until one pops out of a small hole in it’s side.

‘Isn’t Mike looking good?’ Says Mr Sinatra. ‘Give us a twirl. Look, they’re all smiling at you Mike. Excellent! Nice to see you my lovely man. Well, as always we’ve got thirty five balls in the transparent globe of fate. Each has a number written on it that could be any number from one to thirty five. With a little help from my lovely assistant here just six balls will be randomly selected. You know as well as I do that we’re looking for one of you, the person that holds the ticket with those corresponding numbers. So without further ado, here we go. Good luck everyone.’

Mike flicks a switch on the drawing of the balls machine whereby the sound of it’s vacuum drone is amplified over the loudspeakers. At once the balls dance before our eyes, each with a life of their own before a single one erupts from the hole. Mike’s lightning reflexes catch it and it’s placed on Governor Veetman’s lecturn.

‘There’s the first number, it’s twenty six. Next out, number twenty one …out it pops like a pig in a ginnel, number fifteen …same old, same old! …three more needed. Here is the next one …she a big girl! Number twenty one …hey! Hang on, we’ve had that already, quick Michael put it back before anyone notices, let’s pick another! …number twenty six …. and what do we have here? …it’s lucky number ten …next one …number thirty. And then one more to complete the set …that one there. Dig that scene! …number eighteen. Well have the balls fallen for you? …I know with all that excitement that mine just have! Just look at them apples! In ascending order …ten, fifteen, eighteen, twenty one, twenty six and thirty. Do we have a whiner?’

It’s a tense moment. I look down at my ticket but none of those numbers are written on it. There’s a shout from a few rows behind me.

‘Bingo handjob!’

We all turn around in unison to discover the identity of the ticket holder as the spotlight sweeps down and fixes on a single man with his arm aloft. Within seconds he’s apprehended by a member of staff and led out onto stage to join Mr Sinatra. He must be from another part of the hotel as I don’t recognise him at all. He has a waxy pallor, thin build with dark hair and is a good deal older than me, possibly in his early forties. Mr Sinatra curtails the applause by making dramatic horizontal movements with his hand.

‘Hello my lovely man. What’s your name?’ He asks.

‘Nathan Gaunt,’ he stutters into the microphone. ‘I’m very happy to be here. I love your tie Mr Sinatra. You’re a man of real style.’

‘Those are nice slacks. That’s right love, we both sparkle tonight!’ Beams Mr Sinatra. ‘Did you ever think you’d be up here Nathan?’

‘I did not sir. It’s just been like any other day for me but then I suppose that’s how the potato mashes.’

‘Nice! The good news is you’ve won and the bad news is …you’re going to have to take the microphone and sing a song to the peanut gallery!’ Mr Sinatra jokes. ‘No, no, it’s okay, but please, this is your moment so tell us a little bit of yourself. What were the circumstances that made you come here in the first place?’

Nathan Gaunt clears his throat and steps forward. The lights dim and he stands alone in the spotlight.

‘I say this now. I may have different tastes to all of you but I hope I am treated with the same common decency and respect of that of any human person. Despite my faults I’ve always tried to make the best of my abilities. I understand that what I did is considered a sin in many quarters and therefore fully acknowledge the reason why I have been incarcerated in here for the past thirteen years. As I am not a person that goes for self analysis I will simply share my recollections that describe the turn of events in plain actual fact.’

‘I must have been around seven years old. It was a hot sunny afternoon and as a treat my father had taken me to a fairground. We came to a stall where we were invited to throw tennis balls at a man dressed in a clowns costume. Apparently the aim was to knock his hat off. My father was unlucky the first two times but on his last attempt he was successful. He hit the clown square on the nose which in turn made him recoil and make his hat topple off. My father’s prize was a cheap pair of X-ray spectacles of which he gave to me. I was amazed to find that when I wore them that I could not only see through the clothes of all the people around me but also could see through their skin! I could see every formation of tendon, every muscle, cartilage and bone …even the blood pumping through every tiny vein! Initially, I was startled but after a while I became accustomed to this great insight of the human form. It was also around this time that I experienced my first erection. During my teenage years, just like any other young person, my sexual feelings grew however I soon discovered that my appetite was only aroused by what was on the inside of a person and not what was on the the outside. Please understand that I do not I do not mean this in a spiritual sense, I was only interested by the physical aspect of a person. Through these yearnings and desires I was to be led down a different path, to a destination that is deemed off limits in any modern society. I wanted to know what it would be like to devour human flesh!’

‘With this revelation came great fear. At first I tried to repress my urges by becoming a vegetarian and preoccupying my time with good wholesome pastimes such as DIY. Despite the areas of disrepair in my house it was to no avail. On one fateful afternoon, after throwing some rubbish that I’d let accumulate in the cellar, I realised I could convert it into a slaughtering room complete with meat hooks, a cage and a butcher’s table. And so it came to pass. I began by snaring easy prey, animals that had wandered into my garden such as a dog, cat or the even the odd badger. After gaining it’s trust with a saucer full of milk or a plate of chicken bones I’d pounce on the stupid defenceless beast and hit it over the head with a house brick. I’d then gut, skin and cook it along with a starter and followed with a desert. This was all very well, but even with a full stomach I knew there was a part of me that remained empty. I needed more!’

‘I next came upon the idea of trying to find my victim through advertising in the lonely hearts pages of a popular London entertainment listings magazine. At first the response was not positive. I had a few calls from members of public enquiring exactly what it was that I was looking for but when I told them they would inform me that they were otherwise unavailable or were downright rude however there were a few that I did actually interview in person. I would arrange to meet my prospective meals in public places such reputed establishments such as restaurants or art galleries, purely for safety reasons you understand. This proved a good idea as generally I found I could decide within minutes if the other person was right for me. My preferences swung in both ways, by that I mean that I did not mind whether they were male or female however it was important that they were a non-smoker, tall and of an athletic build with a good sense of humour. Also they had to be caucasian. At this point I would like to state that I do not have racialist views, it’s just that I’m very careful about not to mixing my food! Also another consideration was
There were also other instances where, despite physical attraction we just did not have common ground, I remember there was one person that caused me to politely make my excuses and leave when he mentioned that he would like me to pin his body to the table with nails and flog him to death. I found that a bit weird to be honest.’

‘After three hopeless months, whilst at my most despondent and thinking that I would never taste human thigh meat my luck suddenly changed, I met the man of my dreams and he was a Dutchman that went by the name of Anderson Andersson. It may seem somewhat of a cliche when I say that from the moment I shook his hand I was aware of a strange chemistry between us but it in this instance it was true. My thoughts were compounded when he expressed how it would fulfil a lifelong dream of his to be eaten by another man. He was a little older than me, and someone I would call a gentleman of the old school, he was intelligent with impeccable manners as well as being someone that clearly took great care for his appearance by exercising regularly. I was relieved that at last I had found someone that was so, well …normal! It wasn’t long before we were both sitting in my kitchen dressed only in our undergarments whilst toasting each other to our good health with a few glasses of Pinot. Although slightly inebriated, I’ll always specifically remember his words when he said to me ‘Now you can see my body. I hope you’ll find me tasty!’

‘In some ways I think it was a shame to kill him as he would have made a good companion however it was too late as we’d promised each other so much. Firstly, upon his request, I cut off his penis and testicles. He told me that it was important to him that he was awake during this and wanted to experience every second of what he considered to be the emasculation process. For me of course it had the exact opposite and gave me a raging erection! Five hours later he fell unconscious, I kissed him once on the forehead and slit his throat before hanging his corpse on a meat hook. At this point I had all sorts of conflicting emotions, hate, anger, sadness, happiness, it was such paradise! I’d recommend it to anyone. Once I’d cut the meat up, I boiled it down with herbs and other ingredients that had been mixed with dough to make tamales. With every sweet piece of Anderson I ate I felt like his spirit was alive within me. It was the closest thing to love that I would ever feel.’

‘Over the coming years I ate many people and even went on to become an illegal late night street vendor selling meaty snacks from a cart just off Piccadilly Circus.
They were very popular among the drunken revellers as they waited for their buses to go home, actually I made an absolute fucking killing …er pardon me. Am I allowed to use foul language?’

‘You can say whatever you like my lovely man, tonight’s your night.’ Mr Sinatra says. ‘Is there anybody here in front of you that you’d like to bid bon voyage to?’

‘I would like to say goodbye to all the boys on the South Wing. I’ve enjoyed my stay here and will always remember the good times I’ve spent with you. On a personal note I’d like to thank my room mate Guido Teratoma who has kindly offered to look after my corn plant in my absence.’

‘This is getting very big boy’s stuff. Very grown up. Are you ready?’ Says Mr Sinatra, putting a hand on Nathan’s shoulder.

Nathan nods once.

‘Man’s man! Nathan Clarence Simon Gaunt, do you admit your guilt and hereby
swear to carry the full burden of your heinous crimes into the next life?’ asks Mr

‘I do.’ declares Nathan.

Another spotlight flickers into life and points to a heavy blue metal door positioned just below the right hand side of the stage. Nathan’s head is bowed and tears roll down his cheeks as two uniformed members of staff escort him down a few steps off of the the stage and towards the door.

‘Gentlemen, put your hands together for Nathan Gaunt. Didn’t he do well!’ Mr Sinatra enthuses.

As the sound of ecstatic applause fills the hall Nathan offers one last wave to us before the door is opened and he’s led away through. It’s the same every week, one person is picked and one person leaves. I’m not exactly sure why we’re celebrating this as no one really seems to know what happens on the other side of that door. The only certainty is they’re never seen again.

‘Father time has once again beaten us. There you have it. Until next week, let’s get the fock out of dodge! Nicky nacky noo! Good night I love you all!’ Says Mr Sinatra.

And with that, he offers one last theatrical bow before exiting behind the red curtains. The hall lights are turned on and we’re slowly led out to the strains of Pomp and circumstance over the loudspeakers.


It’s common knowledge that Mike isn’t like the rest of us. He lives under different circumstances. He’s special. He’s headless. According to what Marvin’s told me he lost his head as a means of punishment for a crime that he committed when he was a young man, he was a very different person back then compared to the one we all know and love. He was brought up as an only child by his mother, Gladys. She was a good woman but unfortunately didn’t have a very easy live as she worked long hours in all manner of demeaning jobs just to make ends meet. Gladys doted on her son perhaps a little too much as he grew up rather spoilt and lazy. As a teenager Mike showed little ambition in anything and when he wasn’t sleeping until the afternoon he would sit around at home drinking and smoking. Poor Gladys was exasperated and so soon things reached came to a conclusion during an incident that would change things forever.

On returning home after a long hard day at work she discovered that all her savings had been withdrawn from her bank account. Although she didn’t want to believe it she knew that Mike must have taken it. When confronted, sadly was the case. When Mike showed no remorse and simply laughed in her face in a fit of rage Gladys threw him out of the family home, when he refused to budge from the sofa an almighty argument broke out. The details of what occurred next are vague but it was reported in the local paper that the neighbours became aware that something was wrong when they heard a series of shouting followed by one dreadful scream. When the police arrived on the scene they were confronted with the grisly sight of Gladys with a replica Samurai sword sticking out of her chest. Mike was nowhere to be seen and so inevitably became the prime suspect of her death. When he was found a few days later sleeping rough down the back of an alley, he was promptly arrested. He was tried at court and found guilty with the judge branding him ‘a loser who had to clear out of Hotel Mama!’ Initially he was given the death sentence by way of decapitation however he had a lucky break. On the day of execution it turned out that the gentleman carrying out the duty was nervous due to inexperience, on his first strike of his axe he didn’t use enough force to make a clean cut and consequently missed the jugular vein leaving the Mike’s brain stem still intact. Just as the executioner raised his axe for a second attempt a miracle happened, the death penalty was abolished in Britain and Mike was re-sentenced to live out the rest of his days but that was the thing, he didn’t die! Despite his horrific wound and the way that his lifeless head hung down over his shoulders the rest of Mike’s body, arms and legs remained responsive. Weeks went by and he confounded everyone with all sorts of physical exertions such as press ups and agile dancing movements. After about a month it was decided that he didn’t really need his head anymore as it had become inert and didn’t really serve a purpose anymore …also it was starting to smell, it was surgically removed with the severed skin tidied and bunched up to create a rather fetching polo neck effect. At first he was fed intravenously but Mike didn’t favour this method as the tube that was attached to his arm tended to restrict his movement so a second option was deployed where he could feed himself by using a pipette to squirt the liquidised nutrient solution directly into his gullet.

Although the whole experience of losing his head must have been undoubtedly very traumatic from him Mike remains upbeat about his situation and has no time for anyone that considers him as having a disability. On the contrary, he holds an unspoken position of authority in the hotel that’s acknowledged by everyone, even the staff. What this position is though I’m not completely certain, I suppose he’s a sort of councillor or father figure, he’s just one of those rare breeds of men that seems to embody a certain spirit of clarity and worldliness. He’s definitely a good person to have on your side! Despite this, it’s only inevitable when a person first meets him there will be always be a slight moment of disbelief followed by a series of questions.

‘How can you breath without a nose or mouth? Why don’t you bump into things if you can’t see? How can you think without a brain? He can you even exist?’

He’s been asked these things hundreds of times before and it’s clear that he likes to embellish the truth a little with an imaginative reply. For example, on the subject of having the ability to judge distance, he claims to have electro receptive organs which can read the electric field made by the vibrations of any moving object, in a way similar to how a shark relies upon it’s ampullae or personal radar to hunt it’s pray. My favourite quote of Mike’s is ‘with the passing consciousness the mind is free to grow and blossom like a beautiful flower.’ Isn’t that fantastic? I personally think that Mike doesn’t actually know how he is able to do all these wonderful things. One thing I am certain of, he’s definitely not lost his sense of humour.

‘Well I was just standing there when my vision started to blur and then the room started swinging from side to side. It was quite a pleasurable experience actually, a
little bit like being on a rollercoaster ride but without the feeling of sickness. Then there was this warm wet feeling, it took me a few moments to realise that there was something wrong and that I was actually bleeding everywhere. The thing was, I didn’t feel any pain so I didn’t know I’d been cut! I was flapping around trying to figure out what was wrong until eventually it dawned on me. They’d cut my bloody head off! Right down to the glory hole! The rest is history. Thank you very much!’

Ha ha! That’s Mike in a nutshell, always one to crack a joke even in the most diabolical of situations. He communicates by either of two ways. Either by writing on a pad of note paper of which he keeps with him at all times or by sign language whereby a dedicated interpreter will read his hand gestures and vocalise his words. It just so happens that Marvin is quite friendly with Mike and also acts as his interpreter. Today I’ve been fortunate to be have been allowed to accompany him as he helps Mike during his weekly informal meeting with each new guest beginning their time in the hotel where he’ll inform them of the various rules and regulations that must be adhered to as well as christening them with a new name.

As we make our way up the stairwell and onto the communal hallway towards Mike’s room as usual there’s the sight of a group of men standing outside his door. Some are patiently waiting for an appointment with him Mike, others are Mike’s personal friends who look out for him and make sure that he’s not disturbed by any unwanted visitors. Lastly, there are also a few individuals that can only be referred to as ‘Mike’s fans.’ They seem a little besotted with him as they tend to follow him around the hotel, staring at him and calling out his name for no particular reason.

On entering Mike’s room, myself and Marvin take off our shoes and leave them on a wooden rack by the door. The sound of an old jazz record crackles softly in the background as Mike sits on a chair gives counsel to another man that is knelt down before him. To my left there’s a sudden enthusiastic squeal from Koko, Mike’s pet monkey, he’s evidently pleased to see us so I stick the tip of my finger against the bars of his cage, letting him have a little lick or nibble. Other than Koko Mike doesn’t share his room with anyone but has instead chosen to fill any available space to with an array of antique furniture, paintings, toys, records and books that he’s accumulated of the years. Most of it have been gathered and piled on the floor or stacked piles or stacked precariously on shelves to gather dust. I suppose to some it might be considered that he’s just surrounded himself with a load of old rubbish however I’m genuinely fascinated by many of these items as I’ve never seen such things before and can only use my wildest imagination as to guess what sort of places they could’ve come from.

There’s a knock at the door and one of Mike’s friends gingerly enters. ‘Mike. It’s time for your twelve o’clock christening party.’ He says.

Mike finishes his session with the man and acknowledges him by sticking his thumb up. The new arrival is brought in and sat down on the floor before him however it’s evident that he appears to be in some state of shock.

‘Have you seen my head young man?’ Asks Mike as Marvin interprets his hand
movements. ‘I’ve not been able to find it all morning. I think I must have had a heavy night!’

‘I haven’t seen your head. In fact I think I’m hallucinating!’ Replies the young man.

Once we’ve all had a giggle at his expense, we reassure him, telling that Mike’s just playing and that he has nothing whatsoever to fear.

‘Now, down to business.’ Mike says.

He then takes the young man’s upturned right hand and rests it on his lap before tracing the lines on his palm with his finger.

‘According to your crime line you’ve been a bad boy. Been doing lots of very bad things. Do you want to tell me all about it?’

‘I didn’t do no wrong.’ The young man replies. ‘I’m innocent. There’s been a serious miscarriage of justice. Innit!’

‘Do you know how many times I’ve heard that? Apparently as there are so many innocent people living under this roof you should fit quite well.’ Says Mike. ‘Do you hear that banging next door?’

We all pause and listen to a succession of dull thudding noises and incoherent shouting.

‘That’s Desmond Houselander. He’s not a very happy person. Bang, bang, bang on the wall. He refuses to believe that he’s a prolific burglar. Where do you think that will get him?’

‘I’ve no idea.’ replies the young man.

‘It gets him no where! The point is, if a person can’t be responsible for their own actions then how can anyone be expected to rely on them? …ah my poor boy. I can
see that you are very confused. Do you want to know what the secret of life is?’


‘Imagine all the people in the entire world are stacked like bricks that go to form a magnificent pyramid. There are hundreds of thousands of people above and hundreds of thousands below. Now it would be common sense to not want to be one of those poor souls at the bottom holding the rest up wouldn’t it? It’d be preferable to be further up where there’s less weight to bear upon the shoulders where the view would be much more desirable would it not? Therefore you need to ask yourself, exactly where do I fit in with this construction of humanity? How can I get to the top without creating too much upset? Do me a favour son, be a man and admit to all those naughty little misdemeanours. If you do that then you can come back and we’ll see where we can fit you in and what sort of future we’ve got for you. Do you hear me?’

‘Yes sir.’ He says.

‘Good. Now these two men are going to give you a haircut. Don’t worry. They know what they’re doing and it’ll soon grow back.

And with that Mike gets up and walks over to the record player. As Marvin begins to chop away at the young man’s hair with a pair of scissors I mix some shaving foam in a wooden bowl with a spoon until it becomes nice and creamy. Mike bobs up and down and clicks his fingers in time to tune he’s just put on, he loves jazz music and insists that the sound of feral saxophones against four-nine time signatures never fail to give him the juju. I have to say though, I’m not exactly certain what he means by this. Once the young man is bereft of his locks I then carefully apply an amount of shaving foam onto his head so Marvin can shave the rest off with razor.
It’s very important that all new arrivals have their heads shaved. I realise it may sound a little extreme but it actually serves a very practical purpose. The idea is that the bare scalp is a symbol that instantly identifies their status to and consequently by the time the hair has grown back to a reasonable length it’s generally considered that the individual has had enough time to conform to the ground rules of the hotel.

‘Oh by the way.’ Says Mike as the bald young man is led out of the room. ‘From now on your name is Richard Rarsclarse.

Mike’s next visitor is escorted in by two of his burly friends. I recognise him as being Daniel Horn, the winner of last weeks controversial Drawing of the Balls. It was Controversial due to it being brought into disrepute as a result of his unwillingness to abide by the rules of the game. Despite the fact that the balls matched the numbers on his ticket he was most uncooperative and had to be physically dragged onto the stage while Mr Sinatra attempted to present him as a prolific rapist. As a result the whole thing was a bit of poor show and everyone was left embarrassed. Judging by Daniel’s handcuffs it looks like this could turn into a tense situation. Mike abruptly switches off the music and stands before him.

‘What is wrong with you?’ He says, gesticulating wildly.

‘There’s nothing wrong with me.’ Daniel replies.

‘Are you an imbecile?’


‘Are you an infant?’


‘After six years in here why do you fail to understand the fact that you are a rapist?’

‘Because I’m not!’ Shouts Daniel. ‘This is a lunatic asylum!’

Mike says nothing but simply points his finger downwards. Daniel Horn is pushed onto his knees by the two burly friends and is held there with both resting a firm hand on his shoulders. He’s noticeably very angry and tries to resist but it’s no good, they have the advantage. On Mike’s command Marvin begins to cut his hair off whilst I take my cue and prepare the shaving foam. Once Daniel is bald then something quite unexpected happens. Mike makes a deft hand movement to Marvin who in return presents me with a paint pot and brush.

‘Mike wants you to paint his head.’ He says.

Tentatively I take the pot, prise open the lid and dip the brush inside. When I bring it out it’s covered in vibrant yellow.

‘Should I paint his face too?’ I ask. Daniel groans loudly.

‘No. Just cover his scalp.’ Answers Marvin.

And so that’s what I do but I have to admit that the end result looks rather odd.

As he’s let back onto his feet he lunges towards Mike but is immediately yanked back by the burly friends.

‘You’re a fucking head case!’ Daniel shouts.

‘It’s no wonder our children are confused.’ Mike replies, his fingertips whirling in the air. ‘On sunday we make them go to church and then during the week we teach them that they come from the monkey!’

As Daniel is dragged out of the room Marvin places his hand on my shoulder and beckons me to follow. Outside there’s quite a scene unfurling outside with a large gathering of men being drawn to Daniel. Some just observe silently whilst others stand in his path to hurl abuse and spit at him. Marvin keeps a watchful eye throughout the melee and guides me towards some railings situated directly outside Mike’s door. From this vantage point, I’m surprised to see how quickly all the other landings and walkways are now lined men. I didn’t anticipate that Daniel would arouse so much attention. To my right he is manhandled briskly away and for a few moments he completely disappears from view over the crowds however I then soon spot him below through the gaps in the metal lattice work of the landing floor. From the tops of the shiny black hats I can also see that he’s now accompanied by some staff members. They’re moving him along, down the winding stair case to the next level and then to down again to another one until he’s finally at the very bottom where the empty dining area is.

I presume that now they’ve escorted him safely away the crowd of onlookers will disburse and go back to their rooms but no, if anything there’s more of them pushed against the landings and balconies. The staff members hold him steady for a few moments while they take off his handcuffs before swiftly departing out of view. Daniel stands alone, despite his confusion he knows, along with everyone else that he is about to meet his fate. He pauses momentarily to glance up at his angry audience before he tries to make an escape back towards the foot of stair case but it’s to no avail as he’s just thrown back onto the middle of the floor. There’s no where for him to run.

‘What’s going on?’ I below to Marvin, over the din.

‘This is what happens when you lose your balls!’ He hollers.

A strange inhuman growl echoes from below. I can see movement from the shadows as it begins to step out towards the middle of the floor. The first thing I notice is the shiny blond hair that appears shorter in length at the front and longer at the back as it hangs loosely. It’s a man of a very large wearing a white vest that reveal many tattoos on his muscular arms. Up here on the landings the shouting abruptly ends abruptly to be replaced by an eerie silence.

‘Who’s that man down there with Daniel?’ I whisper into Marvin’s ear.

‘It’s Brian Alpha.’ He replies. ‘You don’t want to be on the wrong side of him.’


‘Because he’s the hardest man in the hotel. He’s also got the mental age of a five year old with a temper to match. The yellow paint we put Daniel’s head is there to mimic Brian’s own hairstyle. In his mind he thinks he’s being challenged, He probably thinks Daniel’s wants to steal his toys. Anyway, It makes him very fucking angry!’

Brian sways slowly towards Daniel and emits a low guttural snarl. He lifts his left hand high in the air and then clumsily but with great force, swats Daniel away. Daniel falls down to the floor. He holds his head in his arms as blood runs down his face. Brian wobbles on his feet for a few seconds and lurches forward. He grabs Daniel by his throat, swings him around twice before throwing him against the wall. Some of Daniel’s teeth clatter on the floor like specks of broken glass. His body is crumpled with a couple of his limbs bent in unmanageable positions. He’s not moving. Brian doesn’t either, he just stands there gazing down at him. After a few moments he takes a step forward. The crowd know what he’s about to do next and begin to slowly chant…


Before he can deliver the final blow the high pitched sound of an electronic siren suddenly rings out. Brian cries out in pain covering his ears and loses balance to fall on his backside. As the siren gets louder we all cover our ears and attempt to make our way back to our rooms. I glance down one last time at Brian. He’s surrounded by a large number of staff members who aim their batons towards him in an attempt to usher him back into the shadows.

‘Take heed gentlemen. It’s the most conclusive evidence.’ Says Mike from behind us. ‘Dishonesty will always have a cost. If you fake it or try to lie then you’ll be squashed like an insect. There ends today’s lesson!’

I have to admit that I can’t help but feel a little bit guilty for contributing in Daniel’s punishment.

Later on that evening in our room Marvin and myself are enjoying the last few minutes before curfew. Marvin’s hunched over his desk and is writing his
novel. I’ve asked him a few times what it’s about but he’s very secretive and refuses to divulge even the smallest amount of detail. All he’s ever said about it is that he’s writing it because he wants people to know the truth. I know it’s title though as I’ve had a quick look at the cover when his back’s been turned. It’s called ‘I SURRENDER DREAMS.’ I don’t know what it means but it sounds ever so serious.

Normally I don’t like to disturb him when he’s working but tonight there’s something that’s been playing on my mind that I need to speak to him about.


‘Yeah what is it?’

‘Today I saw a woman behind the curtains just after Governor Veetman’s speech.’

‘A woman?’ Marvin says, fixing me with a pensive expression.

‘Yes. She was beautiful.’

‘There are no women in here.’

‘Yes there is. She looked straight at me. I can’t stop thinking about her!’

‘I’m starting to worry about you. You’ve got to stop your daydreaming.’

‘I’d like to know who she is.’

‘Look.’ He says testily. ‘You’re starting to sound foolish. You need to think before you open your mouth. And another thing, those letters that you’ve been writing to that pen pal of yours. You’ve got to be careful.’

‘I don’t know what you mean.’

‘Nothing goes unnoticed in this place. Nothing leaves this place without getting past Mr Sinatra and his staff.’

‘But those are personal letters?’

‘Don’t you realise that your own words can be used against you? Did you write about that woman in your letter?’


‘Promise me.’

‘I promise that I didn’t.’

‘Okay. I’m sorry I got angry with you. It’s just that you’ve still got a lot to learn. There are things going on that you have no idea about. Do you understand?”

‘I suppose so.’

And with that, the sound of the klaxon fills the room followed by a brief flickering of the light before we’re plunged into darkness.

‘Night Marvin.’

‘Goodnight Phil.’


Today is Wednesday. Wednesday’s are okay. I like to think that if the week were a mountain then I would be right there at the top of it’s peak and so from then on Thursday and Friday would be the steady descent back home to the bottom, which of course would be the weekend. I’ve had my breakfast and I’ve just put on my protective clothing -black rubber boots that go all the way up to your knees, a thick green plastic apron, a pair of heavy gloves with extra long cuffs that cover your forearms and lastly, a red perspex helmet, complete with visor. I’m in a crowd of men, all kitted up with the same and ready to go to work. First however we have to go to the Assembly point and register at the clocking in terminal, which basically is a big metallic box with a clock face stuck on it. It’s function is to record to the time a person begins their work duties. You do this by locating your own personal brown card. Mine is just one of seventy-three …the other seventy-two of course being the other men that work on my shift. These are all kept in the pigeon holes just to the left of the terminal. The card will have your name written on the top and on the right hand side the printed in red ink is a column listing the time for every half an hour of the day. For example, 09:00. 09:30,10:00,10:30 and so on.
You then have to feed the card into the slot that’s situated on the top of the terminal. It should make a clicking noise. You then remove the card and, if you’ve done it correctly, it will have a hole in it right next to the corresponding time denotation. It all sounds relatively straightforward but it’s not as there’s not that much order and usually a bit of shoving goes on as the it gets nearer to eight o’ clock. It’s not for me to say but I think it would make things a lot easier if all the cards were in the same place as they were on the previous evening when we clocked out. For some unknown reason in the mornings they’ve all been mixed up and rearranged into different pigeon holes. Anyway as I say, it’s Wednesday, so it’s not too bad.

Once we’ve all clocked in we slowly file towards the shop floor by means of an adjoining small tiled room. It’s here we must walk through two shallow baths in order to sanitise our boots. The first bath is filled with a dark green liquid detergent that gives off an awful pungent odour and the second one is filled with clean water that rinses the green stuff off. It’s really important that we maintain a high level of cleanliness as we’ll be working with all sorts of hazardous chemicals that can contaminate easily.
The actual description for our work is the procurement, purification and despatch of pebbles. There’s a daily quota, I’m not sure exactly how many but it’s fair to say it will be in the region of a few thousand. The pebbles are handpicked from an unknown location outside of the hotel and delivered to us in the early hours of the morning. We then make them presentable by means of cleaning and layering each one with a thin scratch proof, weather-resistant metal coat. The technical term for this procedure is apparently called plating. Finally, they’re polished and sprayed before packaged off to China or the Netherlands and used as designer garden ware decorations. In their natural form the pebbles are of a pale grey colour, of a smooth oval appearance however by the time they leave the hotel they could be a completely different colour ranging from Chicken yellow to Pillbox red.

As my time in the hotel has been relatively short, and due to my lack of experience, my particular role on the production line is of a rudimentary level. I’m essentially a monitor for reject pebbles whereby I’ll be on the look out for any uneven shapes or sizes or any off coloured areas where the paint hasn’t been blended properly. For example, last week we had a large batch of pebbles that were scheduled to be painted with Electric Blue however one of the sprayers from the previous shift where a different colour had been used hadn’t cleaned the nozzle of his gun properly …whoops! So we had a hundred pebbles that were sprayed incorrectly. As a result the whole production had to be halted and the rejects had to be stripped. Well, that’s basically my job in a nutshell! I realise that all I do is basically stand next to a conveyor belt for ten hours a day as thousands of pebbles slowly pass me but I’m proud of the fact that I can hold my head up and say I’m a reliable member of the workforce.

As I enter the shop floor I’m overcome with a cacophony of sound, from above there’s the constant sucking noise from the huge wormlike pipes that regulate the air quality, there’s the metallic chatter of the rollers of the conveyor belts and sharp clacking noise that accompanies every cumbersome movement of the robotic limbs as they spray paint onto the pebbles. Due to working in such close proximity to the chemicals, we’re required to wear face masks that act as a filter and prevent you from inhaling the poisonous fumes and gases however I’m not sure how successful they are as I’ve often seen some men coughing up large lumps of mucus during their tea break. I follow the clearly marked pathway, twist amongst the dusty machinery and cables until I reach my designated station. I’m taking over from another man who is finishing his shift after working through the night, on seeing me he gestures and leans close to left ear.

‘It’s been steady. Nothing much to pass on. Just eighty.’ He shouts, pointing to a nearby wooden pallet with stones stacked up in white plastic containers. ‘We’re halfway through our tenth run so we’re well up to speed.’

And so with that, he leaves the conveyor belt go clock out and get some well earned sleep.

I’m barely into my shift when I hear shouting over the sound of the machinery, I steal a few glances from the lines of freshly sprayed Palm pink coloured stones to see men urgently scrambling around the chemical tanks. This is followed by a wisp of black smoke and the distinct smell of burning hair. Within seconds a siren has started and the conveyor belt has abruptly stopped. This must be very serious! A few men leave their workstations and move closer to the tanks in an attempt to understand the reason for the disruption but they are met by the fabrication line manager, Kenneth Secular who waves them away.

‘There’s been a spillage. Get back it’s not safe. There’s enough cyanide down there to wipe out half of the bloody sceptre isle!’ He exclaims.

Within minutes everyone on the shop floor is rounded up by numerous staff members and moved to relative safety of one of the store rooms so the spillage can be dealt with. I overhear something from a man who claimed to have seen what caused the incident.

‘It was Simon Wildbore’s fault! He was mixing the solution for the multi-prep tank but he added too much agent and that’s what set it off!’

‘What happened to him?’ Asked another man.

‘He was bending directly over the tank when the chemicals started to react.’ The first man says, shaking his head. ‘He must have got a lung full because the next thing he was crawling about on his knees scratching at his throat and making choking noises!’

We just stand there in silence as we try to comprehend the situation when the metal shutters begin to rattle and bolt upwards. Kenneth Secular reappears wearing a white protective body suit.

‘Alright lads,’ he says. ‘We’ve dealt with the leak. It wasn’t as bad as it looked. We’ve sectioned off the area so it should be safe enough now. We’re a few men down so we’re going to have to shuffle some of you around to different jobs.’

‘What about Simon Wildbore and those other platers?’ Says one of the men.

Kenneth Secular pauses for a moment and then looks down to the ground. ‘It’ll be a while before they’ll be able to come back to work. Anyway come on, enough chatter! Chop chop! Back to work!’

We’re then led onto the empty shop where, despite a couple of newly erected plastic safety cordons and the floor been hosed down, there isn’t much evidence of the accident. Even the putrid smell has been replaced with an all together more pleasing smell of almonds. After a brief wait while some of the men are taken to their temporary places of work, Kenneth Secular asks me to follow him.

‘You’ve not worked in the loading bay before have you?’ He asks.

‘No. I’ve done packing though.’ I reply.

‘Oh you won’t be packing. It’s a lot easier than that. You even get to sit down.’ He exclaims.

We pass the steam machine and then descend the steps down towards a sub level of the shop floor that has it’s entrance enclosed by two transparent giant hanging plastic sheets. I realise it’s an area I haven’t been in before however there’s not much to look at, there’s just two long tables and a few wooden pallets stacked against the walls, on them are crates containing piles of pre processed pebbles. Towards the far end of the room there’s a large metal door that’s about twelve foot in height and wide enough to accommodate a truck on it’s delivery. Curiously, at the other end of the room there’s a fragile looking metal staircase leading up to a single door situated in the brick wall that’s only a few feet from the top of the ceiling.

‘This is Geoff Blank. He runs the loading bay and makes sure all the stock is accounted for and ready for their first phase of production,’ says Kenneth Secular, pointing to an overweight man wearing a grey overall. ‘You wont be needing your hard hat, gloves and apron so you can put them to one side. Right, I’ll leave you with Geoff and be back at the end of your shift.’

As Geoff tells me what my duties will consist of I can’t help wonder if he enjoys his job due to his oddly indifferent manner, his neutral fixed facial expression for instance provides no indication as to his well being, his monotonous vocal delivery also is bereft of any inflection of feeling. As he shuffles closer to me I notice a dull fog shadow his eyes. I slowly lift my hand and wave it inches from his face. There’s no reaction, not even a flicker.

‘Excuse me Geoff. Sorry to interrupt you but are you blind?’ I ask.

‘No. There’s nothing wrong with my eyes. I can see perfectly fine.’ He replies.

Under his instruction, I must take a tray from one pallet and place it on the table in front of him. We both examine and count each pebble individually before placing it in another tray that will be stacked on a different pallet along with other trays. This will be collected later on and transported to the shop floor. It’s easy work but as there’s only two of us it’s not long before the time seems to drag by.

‘Did you hear about the accident?’ I ask him, in an attempt to make conversation.

‘Really? There was a chemical leak and the whole production was stopped for an hour. Everyone was cleared off the floor. There were even a few injuries.’

‘It doesn’t concern me. It’s none of my business.’ He replies, curtly.

Unperturbed, I try to engage him further.

‘So what did you do before you came to the hotel?’

‘I don’t know.’ He says, shrugging his shoulders.

‘Well you must have done something. Have you murdered someone or ever robbed a bank? Have you driven a car with no insurance or been drunk and disorderly in a public place?’

‘I can’t remember.’

‘How long have you been in here?’ I ask.

‘Thirteen years, two months, twelve days, five hours, four minutes and eighteen seconds.’ He replies, flatly. I then decide not to bother him too much and continue with my work.

Over the course of the day we work through a huge amount of pebbles and complex three pallets so I’m feeling fairly pleased with myself. Then, with only a few more hours to go until the end of the shift I hear the sound of a heavy lock being operated from the end of the loading bay. I look up to see the metal door being opened and Mr Sinatra stepping through, he’s followed by a smaller figure that’s covered from head to toe in a black robe and hood. I then catch a glimpse of their face. Those bright red lips! It’s the same woman that I had seen at the drawing of the balls only days ago. All this just happens in a matter of seconds but to my eyes it plays out in slow motion. I can’t believe it, she looks directly at me! Her mouth curves at one corner, she’s smiling at me! I feel my heart beat quicken. Blue eyes! She’s got blue eyes! …I was right! She is beautiful. For a moment I think she’s going to walk right up and say something but she doesn’t, instead she turns and ascends the metal staircase revealing the most slender ankles I have ever seen. I feel drawn to her in a most inexplicable way that would make me very much like to follow her but unfortunately as the door closes behind her, this brief feeling of euphoria is abruptly replaced with the desperate realisation that this cannot be so.

Mr Sinatra stands before me. His eyes are screwed up into slits and his mouth is pursed into a scowl.

‘Hello spunker. You look like you’ve been doing something you shouldn’t have. Are you a player?’ He asks, stepping closer.

‘No Mr Sinatra.’ I stutter. ‘I don’t know the rules.’

‘Maybe I should teach you the rules,’ he smiles, before slapping me vigorously on the shoulder and turning briefly to Geoff. ‘Alright Geoff? Man’s man! Have we got enough work for you?’

‘I don’t know.’ He replies.

‘Nicky nacky noo!’ He bellows with a laugh before proceeding up the staircase.

‘Nicky nacky noo.’ We both reply.

The door closes behind him. I realise that I’m shaking slightly. I turn to Geoff.

‘Who was that woman?’ I splutter.

Geoff doesn’t say anything but I detect some reaction due to the lines on his forehead slightly creasing and forming just a hint of a frown.

From that point onwards I cannot stop thinking about her to the point where I cannot concentrate on my work. Then, without any warning there’s the sound of the door about the staircase followed by footsteps. It’s Mr Sinatra. I watch as he descends whilst lighting up a cigarette and whistles a merry tune to himself. Once he reaches the bottom he turns to me, grins and holds out the pack.

‘Smokerette?’ He offers.

I shake my head. He merely shrugs his shoulders and casually exits through the door from where he first came. A few minutes later the door opens again and a man enters. Although I don’t recognise him he’s clearly not a staff member as he’s dressed in standard issue grey shirt and trousers like the rest of the hotel guests. From the other side of open door, behind him I hear Mr Sinatra’s voice giving what sounds like directions. The man then climbs the spiral staircase and exits through the door at the top. After about twenty minutes the man returns and descends from the staircase. Curiously his shirt is unbuttoned and he’s sweating profusely. When he spots me watching him he coughs nervously and quickens his pace to the first door. Hardly a minute passes before another hotel guest enters only this time Mr Sinatra accompanies him, they confer in hushed tones for a few seconds until the man nods, rummages in his pocket and hands Mr Sinatra a few notes. Mr Sinatra chuckles, pats the other man on his shoulder and gestures him toward the staircase. After around twenty minutes appears from the door in a similar bedraggled as to the previous man. This whole routine is repeated again and again with fifteen more hotel guests in total. I’m most intrigued to know what must be going on up there.

With the end of my shift nearing Geoff hands me one of the last few trays of
pebbles. I walk over to the third palette with one eye fixed to the top of metal stairs in the vague hope that she may appear again when suddenly my foot catches something and I lose my balance. Instinctively my arms go up in a frantic flailing motion and consequently the tray of pebbles is cast up into the air before clattering down to the concrete floor.

‘Damaged goods!’ I hear Geoff Blank say.

I look at the pebbles strewn on the floor, almost all of them are dented and cracked. That’s when I realise that they’re not pebbles at all but eggs! Gingerly I pick one of the remains to examine it more closely, clear fluid oozes out from the jagged hole caused by the impact. I peel back the fragile shell and almost drop it. Curled up inside I can see black legs and the round fat red body of a spider!

‘What’s going on here?’ Shouts Mr Sinatra, running towards me. ‘Look what you’ve done to the stock!’

‘It was an accident.’ I reply.

‘You focking little idiot! Do you know how expensive they are?’ Sinatra snarls angrily, now with a couple of staff members behind him.

‘I’m sorry.’ I offer.

Down by my feet some of the spiders have escaped from their shells and are frantically scurrying away in all directions. Mr Sinatra puts his arm around me and leers close to me.

‘That’s not good enough my lovely man,’ he says. ‘We’ve been breeding these little critters for a long time but it’s really their venom we’re really interested in. See, if you squeeze it gently just at the right place you can make it squirt out. Got to be careful though, if you don’t hold it properly it might bite you …and if it does that then it can kill you, simple as that! Do you want me to show you how to milk a spider?’

‘No thank you. It’s quite okay. I understand. Can I go?’ I stutter.

‘Too late for that now.’ Mr Sinatra says. ‘You’re not supposed to know about all this. You’re just roadside furniture now!’

He plucks a spider from a broken shell and dangles it close to my face. I want to turn and run away but the two staff members are holding me securely with one of them prising my mouth open. I feel one of the spiders legs brush against my nose.

‘…and then we apply a little bit of pressure and hey presto!’

Something drops onto my lips. It’s some sort of liquid with an awful bitter taste. This is followed by another drop. I begin to struggle but it’s no good. In a matter of seconds my vision has gone blurry an odd dizzy sensation overcomes me.

‘There. I think he’s had enough,’ a faraway voice says. ‘It’s not been diluted so he’s bound to be going out of his head.’

A hot shooting pain goes through my body followed by a leadenness. I realise that I can no longer control or feel my legs. I fall onto the floor. Random streams of thoughts echo through my mind that seem more like instructions rather my own conscious ideas – ‘If you remain completely still then it may be possible you will be left alone and be safe.’ This is followed by a secondary thought that seems to conflict with the previous one -‘You must try and stay conscious, keep your eyes open. Escape!’ As I try to focus my mind a large spider scampers along the floor just inches away. Suddenly from the heavens a gigantic black boot crashes down and stamps on it. Fearing that I could meet the same fate I try to rouse myself up but can only manage a sluggish roll from side to side. This is followed by the sound of cruel laughter from some distant place. I try to reason with it but all I’m capable of is an incomprehensible mumble before I forget how to speak entirely. Then I’m floating, spiralling up through the mist.


There’s the unmistakable fragrance of almonds. A mist permeates the air, rendering the room in an ethereal soft focus glow. Everything in here is white, on the floor there are soft white rugs, white roses stand in white shiny vases, even the white curtains that gently billow in the breeze are punctuated by a brilliant ray of sunlight.

‘Let me see you.’ Sighs a female voice against the delicate chime of harp music.

In front of me a large bed complete with a thin hanging veil and surrounding it. As I step closer, through the gauze fabric I see the outline of a female figure sprawled against the pillows. I take the thin material between my fingers, parting them. It’s her. She’s smiling at me with an arm outstretched.

‘Nothing else matters, just you.’ I hear myself say. The words unnerve me slightly as they seem to have escaped from my mouth without any prior reason or rationale of my own.

‘My prince.’ She whispers.

I sink onto the bed beside her and take her in my arms. She’s wearing a silky thin white chemise that barely conceals the fullness of her smooth bosoms. I carefully brush away the strands of her long dark hair that flows freely down her face before kissing her shiny red lips. I feel her fingers slide against the nape of my neck and then drift down to undo the buttons of my shirt. She hums appreciatively as her tongue flicks against mine. From underneath me the fullness of her bosoms heave, and at once there is reciprocation, my hard member pressing against her upper thigh. She tears at my clothes, my shirt hanging off me whilst her insistent fingers scour my chest. As though she cannot wait any longer she pulls aside the hem of the chemise, I gaze down at her beauty, her midriff exposed, the triangle of wispy dark hair and pink inflamed petals of her desire, like some precious exotic flower in bloom, her nectar glistens against her skin and intoxicates me with the sweet scent of her passion. Her hand idly caresses her body, fingers circle one erect brown nipple before pausing at that ripened mound between her legs. She gently massages the soft skin apart, her forefinger dips within herself until it’s burrowed up to the knuckle, her wrist moves in a half churning motion before she withdraws her completely hand and points her finger directly to my face, giggling as the tip edges it’s way closer until it’s into my mouth.

‘More more more!’ She urges. ‘Come to a grounded place.’

Then there’s a strange glint in her eyes. She smiles at me with a flash of her white teeth before suddenly lunging at me, pulling me down towards her with her hands clenched firmly in my hair until my head is pressed against her lap. I feel her legs wrap across my upper spine and lock together. I’m now at her mercy and unable to remove myself from her grip. To prevent my nose being uncomfortably squashed up against her left thigh I attempt to turn my head, in doing so my mouth touches her warm folds which immediately provoke the muscles of her thighs quiver against me. And so, with the ability to breathe a little easier being now a priority, I attempt to encourage her to relinquish her grip by tickling her with my tongue. As I begin to lap her I hear a muffled gasp.

‘SPARKY!’ She shrieks.

She proceeds to rock herself back and forth against me whilst deeply panting. Despite my helpless position it would seem I have the ability to influence some very strong reactions from her. After a few moments of alternating the movements of my tongue and mouth I discover that she becomes more excitable when I gently pluck the loose fleshy nub towards the top of her groin. It’s almost as though I’ve found a secret button that can release an instant state of happiness! Despite the muscles in my jaw soon beginning to ache I continue this play until evidently she can take no more. After one final moan, her body tenses up around me, she trembles for a few seconds and then with a whimper, she goes limp. Finally I release myself from between her legs, wipe the sticky residue from around my mouth and chin, and edge myself along the bed to lay next to her. We don’t say anything for a few minutes but simply embrace, that’s when I catch a reflection of my face in her eyes, I can’t help but wonder if she can see herself in mine.

‘I’m so glad you found me.’ She whispers, stroking my cheek. ‘No man has ever made me feel like that.’

‘Do you believe in fate?’ I ask.

‘Yes. I believe we two are united meat.’

‘I want to stay with you forever.’

‘I know my prince. Me too.’ She replies.

I want to say more to her, explain how happy she has made me and how she’s transformed my world into a colourful and beautiful place, how I wish everyone could see us together now and also recognise that a love between two people is such a special and wonderful thing. Who knows, maybe it could possibly influence them too, show them that life doesn’t always have to be a struggle. I want to tell her this too but then I realise that I wouldn’t even know where to begin or how to articulate such emotions into simple words. And then, at that precise moment it’s as though she’s able to read my mind. She simply places a finger against my lips.

‘Shhhh …you don’t have to say anything.’ She says.

Her hand glides down over my torso and to my waist. I shift slightly as she unfastens the button on my trousers, unzipping them. I can feel the hot breath against my neck, the warm wet circles of her lips deliciously planting themselves against my chest and then further down towards my stomach. I’m being smothered with kindness and …that’s it! …it feels so very nice. I never want to leave this place.

I open my eyes and see Marvin at the edge of my bunk bed facing me. He’s mopping my forehead with a damp cloth but oddly, there’s something different about his appearance. His lips look shiny and he appears to be wearing mascara. My mouth feels dry and there’s an awful pain behind my eyes.

‘Water.’ I croak.

He holds a cup to my lips, I take a mouthful and in the process spilling some down my chin.

‘Take it easy.’ Marvin says. ‘You’ve had a fever. You’ve been out for three days.’

‘I feel terrible. It’s like I’m all empty and hollow inside.’

‘That’ll be the after effects of the Gamma-Butyrolactone. You were pretty well dosed up. If I hadn’t of sucked the poison out you may have fallen into a coma.’

‘Thank you.’ I reply.

Over the next few hours I drift in and out of sleep whilst occasionally being sick in a tin bucket. Initially I have no idea how I came to be in this present state yet as the day wears on I begin to piece together the jumble of images that have been swirling around in my groggy mind.

‘Something special has happened!’ I exclaim, sitting up and banging my head on the top bunk.

‘What’s that?’ Asks Marvin.

‘The woman! I was in her room where we did intimate things together!’

‘Hey just hold on there. You must be delirious. It sounds to me like you dreamt the whole thing up. Let’s just…’

‘No!’ I interrupt. ‘It was real! She made me feel like a real man …and she was like a real woman! I have to see her again!’

For the next twenty minutes Marvin doesn’t say anything or even look at me, he only acts this way when he’s annoyed. Normally I would apologise, we’d shake hands and be friends again but this time it’s different.

‘Marvin I didn’t mean to shout at you but you can’t just knock me back like that and
treat me like I’m a fool. I know what happened.’ I say

‘Did it make you feel warm inside?’ He asks with a sad look in his eye.

‘Yes. Will you help me find her?’

With a frown he slowly turns away and stares into his reflection in a small mirror before dabbing away the make up from his face.

‘Okay, but you know that I’m only doing this because you wont let it go. I hope that you understand there’s nothing I can gain but heartache and pain,’ he says gloomily. ‘The woman you talk of is Governor Veetman’s daughter. I didn’t tell you before because I only wanted to protect you from yourself. He keeps her locked up at the top of the north tower and has his men watch over her twenty four hours a day. Do you realise how dangerous this all is? If anyone caught you with her then you’d surely be made to disappear.’

‘Disappear? What do you mean exactly?’

‘Your numbers would come up in the drawing of the balls! They’ll walk you through
the blue door and you wont be seen again. I will lose you forever!’ He says, his eyes glistening as the tears well up. ‘What an idiot I’ve been! I thought you were different but I was wrong. You’re just like all the other men in this place!’

I step towards him, holding my hand out but he pushes it away.

‘Get away from me! That’s the last thing I need …don’t you think, eh?’ He says, now sobbing into the tissue.

I’m genuinely shocked by his reaction and so slump back onto the bottom bunk and hold my head in my hands to comprehend all this information. At that moment, the weight of the world on me and it’s all too much. Before I know it tears are rolling down my face. Marvin kneels down next to me and puts his arm around my shoulder. Together we blubber like babies.

A few moments later after the tears have subsided and Marvin stands in front of me holding his metal pen in his hand, he screws the end of it until the nib withdraws and then with one flick, a blade of approximately four inches points upwards. I’m impressed by this. It’s both a pen and knife in one! In his other hand he takes his cigarette lighter, flicks the flame and begins to sway it back and forth underneath the blade. After a few minutes he extinguishes the flame, whilst holding the knife in front of him he undoes the belt on his trousers, unbuttons them and lets them drop to expose his white naked buttocks.

‘What are you doing?’ I say.

He says nothing, doesn’t even look at me but simply bends down and feels around the lower fleshy part of his left cheek as though he were examining himself. His hand then stays on one area, presses on it with his forefinger and thumb in a C shape before in one swift movement he stabs himself there.

‘Marvin!’ I yell and rush towards him.

‘It’s okay little cub!’ He replies through gritted teeth. ‘I know what I’m doing. A blunt knife can do more damage because it tears whereas a sharp knife is more precise and will cut.’

‘Was that a blunt knife?” I ask.

‘I think so!’ He grimaces.

Despite the streams of blood running down his leg he continues to agitate the blade further into his behind.

‘I can smell your flesh burning!’ I yelp.

‘You’re supposed to!’ He retorts.

He gouges the knife around until he’s carved a large red hole in himself. I realise that I haven’t eaten anything all day and the sight of this has the culminate effect of making me feel extremely nauseous.

‘Don’t just stand there!’ Gasps Marvin. ‘Help me. Can you see anything back there?’

‘No. I don’t know what you are trying to do!’ I answer.

Then I realise that he’s tugging on something submerged in the bloody gash. He let’s out a long low grunt before he yanks out a small black object.

‘Right get me a towel and a needle …and some thread too before I fucking bleed to death!’ He spits.

Minutes later, as I help stitch up the wound Marvin picks up the object that he’d cut out from himself, he wipes it with a cloth and holds it up to my face. It looks like a thick black rusty nail of about two inches in length but on closer inspection it appears to have a number of jagged grooves jutting out from one side of it.

‘I’m giving you this,’ he says. ‘But you’ve got to be careful with it as only a few people know that it exists.’

‘What is it?’ I ask.

‘It’s a master key. It can open all the locks on the doors in the hotel. It was given to me a long time ago by an old room mate of mine whose name was Julian Bissex. At the time I was just a young man, about your age. Julian, myself and a couple of other close friends were planning on using it to break out.

‘What happened? Did you get out?’

‘No.’ Marvin replies sadly. ‘We were snitched on. We had actually escaped from the hotel’s grounds and were making our way into the surrounding woods but that was when we were surrounded by torch lights. We tried to run but there was gunfire. Julian was hit in the back and died instantly right in front of me. I was hit too with a glancing blow to my arse cheek. I felt a searing pain tear into what I initially thought was either a bullet or a piece of shrapnel but it was neither …it was the key! It had been in my pocket and the force of the blast had caused it become embedded inside me. A freak accident! I figured that that was the safest place to keep it. Until now.’

‘But surely it can’t be possible to walk the floors and not be seen by the staff?’

‘No but there is a way. There are many secret doorways and passages in this place that only a few people know of. If you’re careful could find the Governor’s daughter’s room without getting caught.’

‘Really? I’m ever so grateful.’

‘I’m doing this because I recognise how broken up inside you are. I too once knew how it felt to yearn another. I sometimes think back and remember those brief feelings of happiness with Ju. Anyway, I couldn’t persuade you not to go to her even if I tried. You’re too headstrong and wouldn’t listen. I must warn you though, the fires of love have consumed and ruined many a poor soul so please tread gently.’

And with that I finish dressing Marvin’s wound with a bandage. He can’t put too much weight on his left buttock but in time he’ll be okay.

‘It’s not too bad,’ he offers, with a smile. ‘I’m a self harmer anyway.’


Despite my physical condition improving, the after effects of digesting the spider’s venom means that I’ve been experiencing some terrible nightmares involving all sorts of dreadful scenarios and images. This has cumulated in feelings of depression in the mornings as well as making me start to doubt my own perception of recent events however I’m still resolute that I must see Governor Veetman’s daughter. All this would not be possible without Marvin though, I am indeed most indebted to him. He’s drawn me a rough plan of the north side of the hotel’s structural layout along with directions that will help me gain access to the secret passageways leading to her room. Through his many influences he’s even arranged me to be transferred from the production lines to perform various errands for Mike. And so here I am, in the hallway by the north tower, delivering some letters into the the hotel’s internal mail system. Although it’s an unauthorised area for most hotel guests there’s always still a member of staff keeping watch. As one of them fixes me with a pensive expression I cannot help gulping nervously. He steps forward raising his palm in front of me.

‘Stop.’He says.’Where are you going?’

‘Post room. These letters need to make the next collection on the instructions of Mike.’ I reply whilst showing him my pass. He eyes me suspiciously but says nothing and lets me carry on my way.

According to Marvin I must go to the corridor – I think this is it. There’s a door on my right with a diagram of a stick figure of a man, pausing to look around myself I push it open and step inside. The first thing I hear is the soft tinkling of music, it’s curiously upbeat whilst at the same time somehow bland and instantly forgettable. The walls are covered in white shiny tiles and sparsely decorated with just a row of white porcelain urinals. At the far end by the sink area, sits a a thin, dark skinned man wearing a white shirt and black suit with and bow tie. As I walk towards him I notice that spread out on the surface by the sinks are a number of hard boiled confectionary, bottles of aftershave and a small metal tray with a handful of coins in it. The man nods at me, his face is craggy and etched with heavy lines, it’s clear that he’s considerably older than myself.

‘Boss, are you gonna jus’ stand there or are you goin’ take de wiz?’ He asks, gesturing to the urinals with a roll of white tissue paper.

‘Hello. Marvin Gay sent me,’ I exclaim. ‘He told me that I would find someone called Satchmo Humane here. Is that you?’

‘Marvin Gay? You sure on that boss?’ He replies with a scowl.

‘Yes. He told me that you’re an old friend of his, that you were with him during the breakout when his old roommate was killed.’

Suddenly he becomes animated as he steps up from his chair to grab me by the arm. His voice drops to a whisper and his face looms close to mine.

‘You better watch that mouth. If anyone hears we is in big, big trouble, y’understand boy?’ He says.

‘I’m sorry,’ I whisper. ‘Marvin said you owe him a favour. He gave me this.’

I reach into my pocket and show him the key.

‘Shit me!’ He proclaims. ‘Shit me real good and bury me inna sand! I’s thought we’s lost that for good!’

‘I’m here to see the Governor’s daughter.’ I say.

‘Shhhhh…’ he hisses, placing a finger against my lips and placing a card into my hand.

I look down at it. Written are the words ‘SUNSHINE AND GOLDEN SHOWERS -I’m going nowhere, are you cumming?’ Below there’s a drawing of a scantily dressed woman with an alluring smile on her face.

‘What’s this for?’ I ask.

‘You show it to the lady at the top of the stairs, that’s all you need to do.’ He replies.

And with that, he guides me into a cubicle, takes the key and lodges it into a small
hole in the panel just above the cistern. He twists it a couple of times until there’s an audible clicking noise before the whole of the back panel pushes open.

‘Now you go. Quick before anyone comes in.’ He says, handing me the key.

I nod at his once before ducking down in climb through the exposed panel.

Through the dark, damp stench I’m just able to make out the bottom of a stone spiral staircase. I place my hand against the curved wall and feel the rough texture of the cold granite. Behind me I hear the panel close shut and with it the last remaining source of light. And so I begin my steady ascent up those stone steps, I begin counting each one I climb in order to gather some bearing of how far up from the ground I’ve reached however I soon lose count somewhere around one hundred and seventy …it doesn’t really matter anyway, as there’s only one direction that I can to go.

As I progress further, blindly going up into the unknown my thoughts soon wander and start to consider the peril I will undoubtedly face if I failed in my quest. As though to counter these doubts I try to stay focused by imagining Governor Veetman’s daughter’s face. I can recall individual features, such as her red lips, pale blue eyes and long dark hair but when I try to piece them together, I realise that I can’t! Maybe Marvin was right. Maybe the the spider’s venom that caused me hallucinate the whole thing. Maybe she doesn’t even know I exist! Abruptly, there are no more steps before for me to go any further. I must finally be at the top. I pause and wonder what I should do next. Should I turn around and go back down? Admit defeat and return to the safety of my bunk? No! If I don’t confront what lays ahead I will surely never know the truth. I have no option but to go forward!

Raising my hands I feel around the stone wall in front of me until I’m aware of another surface about waist high that isn’t made out of brick. Bending down, I tap it gently, it appears to be a wooden door. My fingertips follow the edges until I’m aware of a small hole. I take the key from my pocket and jab it in. It’s very stiff and for a moment I don’t think it’s going to open until suddenly I hear a sharp clicking noise. I push the door open, revealing a narrow tunnel. Taking a deep breath I fall down to my haunches and drag ahead like an animal.

After a short distance the tunnel widen, allowing me to shuffle forward upright on my knees until I come to another door. I open it to find it leads to a vertical wooden box, rectangular in size and roughly about my height. Dragging myself up to my feet I notice that there’s a sliver of light shining down it’s entire length. As I move closer I feel the sensation of soft fabric brushing lightly against my neck and shoulders, it would appear that there are a number of items of clothing attached to metal hangers. In my discovery I’ve disturbed quite a lot of dust in here and so it’s only a matter of seconds before a tickling sensation in my nose prompts an almighty sneeze.

‘Who’s that?’ I hear a female voice say. ‘I know there’s someone in there. If you don’t come out I will scream and my father will hear.’

There’s the sound of a single dry wooden creak followed by an intense shining light that seeps through the widening vertical gap of the rectangular box. I squint and then gasp in shock as I try to comprehend this vision that stands right in front of me. It’s her!

‘What are you doing in my wardrobe?’ She demands.

‘I can assure you my intentions are strictly honourable.’ I splutter, whilst raising my open palms out in a non confrontational manner.

I slowly step forward out of the wardrobe and pause a moment, I then realise that there’s something very different about her from when I last saw her. I initially I notice the ash coloured threadbare nightgown tied loosely at the waist then I notice that she appears to have a tired listless expression, this confounds me as it seems at odds to the sense of vitality that I experienced from her before. As well as this, where her hair was shiny and swayed dreamily, almost as if with a life of it’s own here it is dull and lank. Where her complexion was creamy and smooth here it is sallow and grey with the addition of a few red spots around her chin …they definitely weren’t there before! There’s even a nasty looking bruise on the side of her neck that makes me wonder what ever could have caused it!
And so she stands there with one hand resting against her hip and the other holding her cigarette aloft, after taking a drag on it she looks at me with a mixture of suspicion and a hint of distain.

‘Well?’ She says, blowing smoke in my direction. ‘How did you get in here?’

‘I came up through the secret staircase. I had to see you!’ I reply, reaching into my pocket and handing her the card that Satchmo Humane gave me earlier. ‘I’ve got a key that opens all the doors in the hotel!’

On hearing this she drops the cigarette on the floor. For a brief while she stands just there, trancelike, as though she were calculating some private puzzle in her head, when all of a sudden she twitches her head and notices the cigarette.

‘Shit!’ She says under her breath extinguishing it beneath her foot.

When she looks up at me her expression has changed to a warm smile, she raises her hand so her fingers can twirl with her hair before she lets it fall over her chest and down onto her hip, drawing my eyes further to the hem of her grown as it ruffles and divides to flash some of her thigh. She moves closer to me until her lips are only inches away from mine. Quite abruptly the muffled sound of discordant electric organ booms through the wall.

‘That’s my father. His room isn’t far,’ she says. ‘He usually practices around this time.’

A feeling of dread runs through me at the great possibility of harm that would befall me if the Governor were to inadvertently walk in on upon this scene. She squeezes my hand.

‘Don’t worry. He wont disturb us, just as long as we’re quiet.’ She says.

Then she unties the thin fabric of her nightgown to reveal a transparent camisole undergarment. I move forwards to kiss her but she brushes her head away from me.

‘No. I don’t do kissing.’ She exclaims.


‘Sorry but that’s the way it is. It shouldn’t be a problem though as I do everything else. We can still have a nice time,’ she says with a glint in her eye. ‘Why don’t you take those silly clothes off and wait for me on the bed while I get myself ready. You caught me by surprise, you naughty boy.’

As she disappears into an adjoining part of the room I take a moment to gaze around and take in my surroundings. The overall layout is the same as I remember it from the first time I met her but there are notable differences. In fact the whole place generally looks neglected and quite tatty with just a flickering lamp for illumination. The carpet looks old and covered in numerous stains, the walls, that I previously had thought were white are a mottled grey colour. As well as this, stuck on them are a number of glossy two page spread posters that depict women in various states of undress. If you look closely you can even see the damp patches that have accumulated around corners of the paper however despite my slight unease and the I take my clothes off and lay down on the bed.

She enters into the main room and without even hesitating to glance at me she takes off both the nightgown and camisole. In her hand she holds what looks like a tube of toothpaste, from it she squeezes a portion of clear jelly onto her palm and reaches down to rub it underneath her crotch. As she sits on the bed beside me I’m at once surprised by the droopiness of her breasts and in addition how her right nipple is much larger and positioned slightly off centre compared to that of the other one. On further scrutiny there are other things that I realise I had not previously noticed, such as the uneven edges of her fingernails where you can clearly see where the enamel has fallen off, the small shiny scar just below her belly button and a little lower down, the red rash around the dark brittle hairs that once had been shaved but now begin to grow in abundance. Passively she stares past me and up somewhere at ceiling as she begins to move her hand gently along
my right thigh towards my groin. Her fingers clasp my small flaccid penis, with a faint smile she adjusts herself so she is rested on her left elbow.

‘I think you need a woman’s touch to make you come alive.’ She says.

From somewhere hidden about the bedding she then produces a little blue sachet of which she tears it open between her teeth unravels a small transparent shiny sock whilst all the time she continues to agitate my penis, it’s a little bigger in size now but still jiggles from side to side like a lump of chopped raw liver.

‘Are you nervous?’ She frowns.

‘A little bit.’ I reply.

‘Well, that’ll have to do.’ She sighs.

She carefully rolls the sock over my penis until it covers it’s full length. I must admit, it’s a strange sensation as I can still feel her fingers through the thin elasticated material. Whilst firmly holding the rim of the sock against my groin she dips her head down and gobbles my whole penis in her mouth. I don’t find the warm sensation of her tongue jabbing against me as an unpleasant one however I’m still a little apprehensive in such a position where I’m so completely at her mercy. Thankfully though after a few moments she flops my penis out of her mouth along with the crinkled baggy sock, hanging off it.

‘Do you like having your balls sucked instead?’ She asks.

‘I’m not sure.’ I reply.

Within seconds I discover that I most certainly do not! She grips my testicles in her hand before unceremoniously shoving them between her teeth. I look on in horror as she proceeds to roll my testicles back and forth inside her bulging cheeks. I’m very much aware of the permanent damage that would be caused to me if either one of us made any sudden movements.

Perhaps sensing my discomfort she releases me and springs off of the bed to disappear once more into the adjoining room. I glance down to catch the sight of my raw glistening testicles shrinking back into the safety of my groin. On her return she stands at the foot of the bed waving a large black tube in her hand.

‘Don’t worry, it’s nothing to get upset about, it happens every now and again,’ she says. ‘You can use this on me if you like.’

‘What do want me to do with it?’ I reply.

‘It’s a prosthetic replica of a cock. It’s made out of silicone rubber and feels almost as good as the real thing. Here catch!’

She throws it into my lap. I sit up with a startle and hold it in both my hands. It’s roughly eleven inches long in length and about one and a seven and half inches in circumference. Suffice to say it’s considerably bigger than my own.

‘It’s hollow inside so you can stick your cock inside and use it on me,’ she says. ‘It’s got a little belt that you strap on so it doesn’t fall off. Isn’t that wonderful?’

And so with that, she attaches it onto my waist and kneels on all fours on the bed with her buttocks facing me. I’m reticent about wearing the thing but decide not to mention anything especially as she seems so excited.

‘Come on! Take me from behind like the dirty slut that I am!’ She snarls.

With the sound of her father’s atonal organ music playing evermore frantically and the constant nagging feeling of dread looming she turns her head with her teeth bared like some wild animal. I assume a crouching position with my hands on her hips and the end of the thing nestling in that place between her legs. Finally I close my eyes and pull her towards me. There’s an almighty squelching noise. To my horror I realise that I must have misjudged her weight. Looking down at her, I notice the thing has completely burrowed inside her and her soft buttocks are pressed against the insides of my thighs. After a few silent moments she responds with one single deep moan before she slowly begins to move her white cheeks up and down. I take this as being a good sign and so begin to gently rock her with my hips. After some further slapping noises and that now familiar aroma wafting up into my nostrils I glance down to observe how the black shaft of the thing has become wet from the moistness within her.

‘Don’t stop!’ she pants.’ Do it harder …faster …more intense!’

So I continue to rock her back and forth until abruptly she arches her back up and remains leaning against me. Still with the full length of the thing inside her she slowly sways her rump a couple of times until her whole body begins to shake with such an intensity that for a moment I think she’s having a seizure. She lets out a gasp and flops down onto her stomach just as the thing dislodges itself from her with a squelch. For a moment as she lays there I wonder if I have injured her but thankfully as she rolls onto her back with a big grin on her face, it would seem quite the opposite.

‘Wow! You really got me all juiced up!’ She giggles as she wipes her hand against her crotch.

On seeing this an immense feeling of relief flows through me. I respond by throwing myself down onto her and hugging her. Closing my eyes, I pucker my lips and present my face close to her before remembering her earlier stipulation of no kissing.

‘I’m sorry,’ she says sadly. ‘It’s not that I don’t want to. It’s just, I barely know you and I think kissing should be something special that’s shared between just two people. I bet you must think I’m stupid and sentimental!’

‘Absolutely not! I feel the same way,’ I reply. ‘I came here because I had to be with you. I can’t stop thinking about you. …I …I really like you a lot!’

‘You have to understand that I can’t just give myself away so brazenly. I’ve been hurt many times by men and my heart has many bruises and scars. Anyway it’s foolish to talk like this. If my father caught us then he would surely kill you.’

‘But that’s why I’m here! I can help you! There are many secret passages that we could use to escape. We can run away and have a life on the outside world together. I will protect you and make sure no one ever hurts you. Just imagine, we could be ever so happy!’

She lights another cigarette and considers my proposition for a moment.

‘Do you believe in fate?’ She asks.

‘Yes,’ I reply. ‘I believe we two are united meat.’ I reply.

The words seem to have fallen out of my mouth without any thought. I’m not even sure what they mean however when she pulls me towards her and kisses me warmly on the lips I’m certain I said the right thing.

‘Yes, I’ll do it,’ she says. ‘I’ll go with you because I think you’re different. You’re not like the other men in here, the one’s that just fart and roll over once they’ve had their wicked way, or the others, the ones that get too serious to soon. All I want is a gentle burger, someone who I can rely on that knows how to handle me. Is that really too much to ask for?’

‘No, it’s not.’ I say, despite having absolutely no idea what she meant but nonetheless deciding that it’s probably better to agree with her.

Suddenly we’re interrupted by the sound of an electronic buzzer. She reacts to this by leaping up from the bed and taking the white phone receiver that’s fixed on the wall.

‘Okay yeah, give a minute to get ready.’ She says to the caller before returning it to it’s holster. ‘I’m going to have company. You’d better hide so no one sees you. You mustn’t make a sound or we’ll both be in trouble!’

I want to stay and confront whatever or whoever is to come but before I can protest she hurriedly hands me my clothes and pushes me into the wardrobe.

I’m naked except for the black prosthetic thing which is still attached to my waist. I hear her voice followed by another belonging to that of a man. Their conversation is brief with only a few pleasantries exchanged followed by silence. This is punctured by a succession of creaking noises. As my curiosity begins to get the better of me I gently push the wardrobe door open by just a fraction so I can peer through the gap. What I’m confronted with leaves me dumbfounded. She’s there on the bed, having sex with another man!
He’s grossly overweight, sweating profusely and sitting upright against the pillows. She’s facing me but with her eyes closed whilst in a squatting position bouncing on his lap with his penis darting in and out of her to an inquisitive fish. I feel a strong urge to rush out, pull them apart and throw him to the floor however I decide against it as I realise that she wouldn’t want me to it. As I continue to to watch I try to understand what thoughts must be going through her mind and what the reasons must be for her to be doing this? Is she being forced? Does she think that this man is worthy of her intimacy? Could she possibly even find him attractive? I realise then as she moans, shaking her head from side to side that this surely cannot be a hardship for her. The fat man becomes lively. He proceeds to groan and reach around to roughly paw at her breasts. They carry on in this way for a while longer until eventually her body goes rigid against the rolls of his wobbling stomach.

‘WAH!’ The fat man bellows.

Then it’s over. She disentangles herself from him and he staggers to his feet. As they both dress there’s complete silence with the only exchange between them being just one cursory grunt and a nod from the him on leaving the room. At once I step out of the wardrobe and confront her.

‘Who was that man?’ I ask.

‘What man?’ She replies, lighting up another cigarette.

‘The man that was just here. The one that had his penis inside of you!’

‘Oh him! That was Clive Fodder. He’s no one!’

‘How could you do that when I thought you liked me!’ I demand.

‘I do like you! I haven’t felt the way I do with you than I have with any other man. That’s just I have this problem.’ She says gloomily. ‘I’m afraid you’ll have to be patient with me.’

‘What do you mean, problem?’

‘I’ve got a rare medical condition. I’m mentally and physically addicted to sexual stimulation. There’s no drug or operation that will cure me, there’s nothing I can do other than basically just have as much sex as possible! If I can’t get it I become incredibly unhappy, tearful and angry. I’ve even experienced panic attacks because of it! If I had the choice I wouldn’t be like this. I’d love to lead a normal life and one day raise a family but I’ve not met a man yet that’s capable of keeping up with me in order to have a long term relationship. I’m cursed! I’ve been unhappy for as long as I can remember!

‘You poor thing.’ I whisper.

‘I’ve done some awful things just to fulfil my needs. I’ve trawled through nightclubs searching for the nearest man that was willing, I’ve had sex in just about every conceivable place that you could think of, in parks, public toilets, the back’s of cars, cinemas, supermarkets. I’ve even had it away in the cockpit of an aeroplane during mid flight …that was with the pilot obviously!’

‘So you just have intercourse with anyone then?’ I ask.

‘Initially it’s quite easy to find a man that’s up for it as most of them are just dogs on heat. I’d often use whoever it was that I’d chosen for a one night stand and leave them the next day completely exhausted with their balls drained. In some situations my appetite has caused men to beg me to stop due to me wearing the poor sod out! I usually get what I want though by either simply starting to cry or shouting like a crazy women. If they refuse me at that point then I usually threaten them by saying that I would go to the police and accuse them of rape.’

She then lowers her head and softly sobs so I put my arm around her. Suddenly there’s a tapping noise from the far end of the room.

‘What’s that?’ I say.

‘It’s okay,’ she replies. ‘It’s nothing to worry about. Stay where you are.’

She walks over to the far wall to a poster depicting a naked young lady and peels it back to reveal a large hole that’s level with her midriff. From this hole a full erect penis slowly edges out and remains, as though it were a decorative ornament.

‘Oh’, I almost forgot!’ She exclaims. ‘It’s my five o’clock cock appointment.

‘Who is that?’ I ask.

‘It’s Dave Overhead. He’s just a little shy.’

She kneels down beside Dave’s penis and proceeds to nonchalantly stroke the full length of it.

‘How do these men know when to come to you?’ I ask.

‘Mr Sinatra organises it. He takes advantage of my situation and charges the men to spend thirty minutes alone with me. As well as the money that he gets from his little racket I’m sure that he takes great pleasure in exerting his power over me due him and my father having personal issues with each other. The two of them go back a long way and apparently they used to be friends. They met whilst playing together in a popular all white funk band in the late seventies but Sinatra couldn’t play slap bass properly so my father had to throw him out of the band. Sinatra never forgave him for that. He can be such a horrible bastard! A few times he’s deprived me of my cock fix just so he can laugh at me as I masturbate myself stupid with the nearest object. He takes a strange sort of satisfaction in seeing people torn apart.’

‘Give em brain! Give em brain!’ Urgently shouts Dave from behind the wall.
‘Excuse me a moment.’ She says.

She then discards her cigarette and turns to face the penis. She holds it firmly in her fist, rolls the shiny bulbous tip around her lips and tongue before devouring half of the length in her mouth. She massages it slowly but forcefully by sliding her left hand along the base of penis whilst also concentrating a gentle bobbing motion of her head to the tip. Every now and again there’s the sound of grunting from behind the wall whereby she’ll might stop for a moment, spit some saliva on it and alternate between a lick and sucking technique, with her free hand she pulls back the thin straps of her nightgown and casually rubs her fingers against her groin. As the noises behind the wall become louder and more insistent her jaws chomp at the penis at an alarmingly faster speed. Then abruptly she halts and squeezes it’s base with her right hand in a way that makes the veins stand out prominently along the entire shaft. Finally as she gently manoeuvres the bulb from out of her mouth, a fatty white substance …not too dissimilar to the consistency of natural yoghurt, dribbles from the corner of her lips and sticks to her chin. The penis then becomes animated as it jerks up with a life of it’s own. She carefully holds it still and directs it’s trajectory at to her wide mouth until another dollop of white stuff lands squarely onto her tongue. It rests there for a second before she rolls it around in her mouth and lets it dribble down herself.

‘Oh look he’s spilt his seed.’ She murmurs, mopping up the droplets from her face and rubbing them onto her breasts.

‘Why didn’t you put one of those rubber socks on that?’ I ask, as the now drooping
penis slowly withdraws back behind the wall.

‘I’ve known Dave a long time. He’s one of my regulars and I always do CIM with him!’ She says. ‘Anyway, spunk’s full of protein you know and it’s really good for the skin. Look, it makes my tits feel all soft and creamy! It’s not really a problem is it? You mustn’t worry. Things will be different once were on the outside. We’ll be able to put all this behind us and do all those things that couples do. Going for walks in the park, shopping at the weekends and then in the evening we can stay in and curl up in front of the television with a bottle of wine. It will be absolute bliss! No one will ever bother us again.’

‘But what about your special problem? What about other men?’

‘I wont lie to you my darling. It will be difficult at first and you will need to be patient with me. There will be times where I will resort to a variety of sex toys, partake in a whole number of practices and experiments that you probably wont have even heard of before. And yes, there will be other partners involved but I’m confident that with your help and a little bit of time I can overcome my affliction.’

Before I can say anything the sound of the buzzer goes off and she gestures for me to hide in the wardrobe. As I pull open the door I notice that someone has scrawled some graffiti on the inside of it that reads NICO HAS THE CLAP. There’s also a very amateurish drawing of a naked woman in a sexual position whilst a disembodied giant penis hovers above her head. That’s not very nice, I think to myself before stepping inside and shutting myself inside.

Over the course of the afternoon there are numerous times when she is otherwise engaged with a succession of male visitors. As I stand there, naked and alone in my wooden box I try to reassure myself by keeping in mind that all this is just something she does and should in not reflect her as a person. It doesn’t really matter as we’ll soon be rid of this place. However after a particularly vocal tirade of shrieking involving her entertaining three skinny Oriental men I can’t help but feel a little bit deflated. There she is squatting over one whilst another kneels behind thrusting against her, the third man for most part remains standing filming them with a camera but will casually pop his penis into her mouth every now and then. He also appears to direct the threesome with a number of requests, things that I presume are some sort of code because I don’t quite understand what they mean, one of them being ‘front cowboy’ and another being ‘ATM.’ This then would be followed by them performing some other activity in a different position.

Curiously, during one particularly inhibited bout of sex making she stares directly towards me and breathlessly cries out the word ‘SPARKY.’ I’m instantly reminded of her calling out this word during my first meeting with her and consequently, I cannot help but ponder the relevance. The session soon ends with the three Oriental men, exhausted and gushing over her.

‘You boys really know how to treat a lady,’ she exclaims. ‘No one has ever made me feel like that …apart from my boyfriend that is who is actually hiding in the wardrobe at the moment!’

This is followed by much hooting and laughing from all of them. After they’ve gone, I step out to confront her. Her make up is smeared, leaving dark smudges around her eyes and her hair is tangled with strands sticking wetly to her cheeks. She has such a sad look of abandonment about her.

‘Please don’t be angry with me,’ she sobs. ‘I have no choice. I’m trapped and defenceless in here.’

‘Why did you shout out sparky?’ I ask, sitting on the bed next to her.

She looks up with a surprised look on her face and then takes a few seconds to compose herself before continuing.

‘I can’t help it. I say it during intense moments of pleasure. It’s like a natural reaction.’

‘But why sparky? What does it mean?’

‘It all goes back to when I was younger, on the verge of womanhood. I experienced something that I’m still unable to fully account for in a rational way.’

‘What do you mean?’

‘I know this is going to sound odd but please, you’ve got to believe me.’ She pleads.

‘I do. I do!’

‘It first happened during one summer late at night. I was asleep in my room when I was woken by the sound of floorboards creaking and the temperature dropped dramatically to the point where I would be shivering under my duvet. This was accompanied by the sensation that there was a person standing close beside my bed however when I plucked the courage to look up though there’d be no one there. I then felt a sudden heavy weight on my bed and the bedsprings buckle. To my absolute horror I’d see the duvet slowly pull back on it’s own accord! I tried to scream out to my parents but no sound came from my mouth. I’d be literally paralysed with fear. That’s when he would have me!’

‘Have you?’

‘Yes. In a most physical way. I could smell him, feel him pushing up inside of me. The morning after that first time I considered whether the whole thing had been just an extremely vivid dream or a teenage fantasy due to my hormones being all over the place but I was wrong. He returned the next night and not only that night but also the following night and the one after that until he was visiting me regularly. Then after about a month it all stopped. It was a very distressing and confusing time for me. I would wake up in the middle of the night in a stupor with all sorts of depraved sexual thoughts roaming inside my head and no means of release. Of course I could never tell my parents about all this as I feared they wouldn’t believe me so I just endured it on my own.

Finally in the middle of one traumatic night he came back! I was still a little scared but it was of little consequence compared to the delirious excitement I felt at the prospect of being sated by my paranormal man! He still remained elusive and invisible to my eye however one night I ran my hand over him in order to feel the contours of his spirit and try to gather some idea of what his former physical body looked like. I was pleasantly surprised! It turned out that he was an extremely handsome apparition indeed! Now that he was back in my life I felt it was only fair that I gave him a name. I racked my brains but no matter hard I tried I just couldn’t think of anything. Then during the ferocity of an orgasm that made the hairs on my head stand on end it came to me in a flash. He was Sparky!’

‘Over the years Sparky would not only make love to me but would also teach me all sorts of kinky things. Unfortunately like all the best things in life this was not to last.
One night during one of Sparky’s visitations my father was disturbed and awoken one night, probably by the sound of my bedsprings. He burst into my room and confronted with the sight of me levitating upside down in mid air with the indent of Sparky’s huge invisible cock in my mouth and the handle of one of my hairbrushes disappearing up his spectral rectum. As a result of this interruption Sparky got spooked and reacted by dropping me on my head, he leapt through the window and disappeared into the night. That was that …I would never experience him again. This proved too much for my parents and would contribute towards their divorce with my father claiming responsibility over me. He is not a bad person but he’s a very old fashioned, a very practical and strict man. When I tried to explain things to him he simply would refuse to listen to me. He just thought I was a jezebel and thought it was his duty to cure me of my so called impure thoughts.’

‘His methods were crude. He would strap me down to a chair and administer a series of electric shocks made from an apparatus he built from metal coat hangers, bulldog clips and cling film. He’d hook it all up to an open plug socket and attach the two points to my genitals however he wasn’t a very competent electrician and completely misjudged the current of voltage. Fortunately though he didn’t hurt me. In fact quite the reverse happened. The stimulation was such that it induced one of the most powerful orgasms since Sparky left. Unbeknown to my father, by giving me that shock he only amplified the very part of me that he had set out to destroy. He turned me into a bigger insatiable bitch than I already was! And that wasn’t all. To add to his problems I also discovered that I was expecting a child!’

‘With Sparky?…but how?’ I blurt.

‘I don’t know. Some sort of phantom pregnancy I think. Apparently it happens only very rarely. My father didn’t want me to have the baby but I went against him. I believed that something special had happened and that the child could be a link between ours and the spirit world. Alas, all this was too much for my mother. She couldn’t comprehend what was happening and had a serious breakdown. She was committed into a Mental Institution.’

‘Did you give birth to the baby?’ I ask.

‘Yes. A boy but my father made me give him away for adoption. He thought it was the best thing to do. I hated him for that and so as soon as I was old enough to look after myself I left home to live in a town faraway. My freedom only lasted a few years though. After being arrested for lewd conduct and exposing myself in a public place I was reunited with him. He made sure that the charges were dropped but kept me locked away here so he could keep a watchful eye over me …but now there’s you here to rescue me. My knight in shining armour!’

I’ve no idea what the appropriate words would be after such an admission, so I decide to say nothing and console her by rocking her gently in my arms. We stay
like this for a while before I realise that Governor Veetman’s awful electric organ music can no longer be heard. She leaps up from the bed and pulls me to my feet.

‘Quick! Put your clothes on! You’ve got to get out of here!’ She says, urgently.

‘But I want to stay with you,’ I reply.’ We could be away from here tonight.’

‘There’s no time …he’s coming! Please don’t argue. Just go now.’

She pushes me across the room and back into the wardrobe, before she closes the doors she kisses me. ‘Please save me.’ She says.

And so with that, I’m standing once more within the confines of the wardrobe. I do my best to not make any noise as I carefully step into my trousers and pull them up. I’m aware of someone entering the room. There’s a moment of silence followed by a single heavy thud and the crashing of furniture. There’s a low moan from the far wall, I recognise it as being her but there’s also something else. The sound of a low rasp, as though someone struggling to breath through their mouth. Without warning there’s a succession of brutal slapping noises. At this point I’m worried for her safety and so I gently ease one of the wardrobe doors open. The first thing I notice is how dark the room has suddenly become. The lamp is still working but it now lies on the floor in the corner. Then I see her. She’s on the bed curled into a ball with her hands covering her face.

When she looks up I can see that she’s bleeding from her nose. Her nightdress is thrown open and her legs are exposed to reveal two thick red marks on one of her thighs, it’s clear that she’s been struck with considerable force. Instinctively I want to go to her but stop myself from doing so when I catch sight of a figure that’s apparently only inches in front of the wardrobe. I can’t really make out what he looks like due the him standing with his back to me however it’s obvious that he’s a very big man. I follow the outline of his right arm hanging down past his waist, in his huge fist I’m horrified to see that he has coiled a black leather belt. He wobbles unsteadily from side to side as though he were intoxicated with alcohol before raising the belt above his head. There’s a very real possibility that this madman could actually be about to kill her! I’m about to push open one of the wardrobe doors when the most sudden inexplicable fear grips me followed by a mental image of myself lying in a pool of blood. I stand there paralysed to the spot.

In a few seconds I’m certain I will hear another violent lash of that heavy belt followed by and the cry of my poor sweetheart but there’s nothing. Peering through the gap I can see that she is still on the bed but has now spread her legs wide apart. She stares up at the madman in a strangely detached way whilst proceeding to stroking that special area between her thighs. The madman’s wheezing intensifies to a guttural rattle. He’s still in front of the wardrobe but he’s now bent with his back arched, the belt has been dropped on the floor and his elbow is jerking spasmodically with his hand thrust down to his groin. There’s something wrong though. Despite him being such a goliath of a man it would appear that he has a penis that is so small that one could easily mistake it for a baby button mushroom!

As she continues to seductively pleasure herself I unexpectedly feel a warm sensation grow in my loins, I’m becoming aroused! To my utter shame I’m overcome wth the desire to touch myself. With my eyes fixated towards her at all times I slowly unfasten my trousers and take my erect penis warmly in the palm of my hand and shake it firmly as though I were greeting an old friend. For a moment my vision obscured by the madman’s two massive white buttocks as they rise up towards me and then fall to the bed. That’s when I glimpse the shadow of his giant profile superimposed on the wall and realise that I’ve seen him before. I recognise that hairstyle! It’s blond and much longer at the back! No it can’t be! it’s Brian Alpha!

He’s now naked and sitting close to her, it’s the first time I’m able to fully see him properly. The muscles on his tree trunk arms bulge and contract, making the veins stand out like knotted rope whilst the tattoo depictions of strange unearthly animals adorning his skin seem to wriggle with a life of their own. His face is etched with deep lines and wrinkles, reminding me of the texture of rough leather however I’m surprised to see that his expression is not one of anger but one of a extreme despondency. He actually has tears welling up in those striking pale blue eyes. It’s a most bizarre sight indeed, to see such an unpredictable and powerful man audibly sobbing and fiddling with himself in an attempt to manage something resembling an erection.

I’m in turmoil and don’t know what to do. Part of me wants to rush out and save her from this degradation but part of me would like to turn away and avert my eyes. Yet I cannot do either. For reasons that I cannot explain I remain rooted to the spot with my clenched hand rolling up and down my hard penis. After a few minutes, Brian’s frustration is evident. At one point he even throws himself on top her and tries to push his flaccid penis into her, but it’s all to no avail. By comparison, she is now unconcerned and has managed to pleasure herself into a state of bliss. I wish I could be out there with her sharing that special moment but I realise this would be foolhardy so I settle for self flagellation instead. Soon I’m enveloped in a stupor that paralyses me but for my wrist and groin area, as though the rest of my physical body and consciousness, my whole self has simply become an attachment. What’s more it feels good! Maybe this is what it feels like for her too.

Unfortunately and without any warning my private revelry is at once curtailed with the sound of her scream. Looking up, I can see that she’s in considerable pain. Her eyes are wide and her mouth curls down in an ugly grimace as she struggles to push him away. That’s when I realise what is going on. Slumped in front of her, Brian Alpha’s huge arm is positioned towards her womanhood with his hand disappeared inside her.

‘Aaaahhh …It’s too deep!’ She shrieks.

I wince and then begin to gag at the sight of her being pummelled like she were a piece of raw meat. It’s all too much! I must save her! I fling open the wardrobe doors and launch myself at him but realise in my haste my unbuttoned trousers have slipped and fallen, becoming tangled around my feet. As a result I lose my balance and stumble forward waving my hands in a frantic effort to hold onto something. My weight also causes the wardrobe to topple and clatter down with me, completely ruining any element of surprise however undeterred, I pick myself up from the debris of wood and dust.

‘Take your hand off of her …out of her!’ I shout, pointing at a confused Brian Alpha.

Instinctively I grab a large broken plank of wood from the floor and in one precise movement I whack him squarely on the head. This seems to stun him for a moment, making his eyes roll back in their sockets but he is soon to regain his faculties with an angry snarl. Luckily for me though he’s still got his hand lodged inside her and so his movements are limited. I realise that I’ve only probably got one more chance to hit him before he releases himself so I grit my teeth, raise the plank of wood in the air and with all my strength I bring it down heavy onto his head. He slumps back in a daze, saliva drooling from the side of his mouth.

‘You must leave now!’ She shouts.

‘I’m not leaving you here like this!’ I retort.

I grab hold of Brian’s heavy arm and try to pull it, trying to release her from him however in doing so I’m only hurting her.

‘It’s no good.’ I mutter as Brian groans and begins to stir.

‘Wha’ppen’?’ A voice asks from behind me.

I turn around to see the figure of Satchmo Humane poking his head through the square entrance hatch in the wall that the wardrobe had been propped against.

‘Time to go Boss. You be making too much noise an’ people be coming any moment!’ He says

I realise that he’s right. My time is running out. If I stay here much longer I will surely be doomed.

‘I promise I will come back for you,’ I say to her. ‘I love you!’

I pull my trousers up and follow Satchmo into the darkness and down the stone spiral. Echoing behind me I hear the frustrated roar of Brian Alpha. There’s no way a man as big as him would be able to possibly follow this narrow trail but I don’t care either if he could. He doesn’t scare me. In fact I vow there and then that I will kill him whether it’s the last thing I do!


I’m downstairs in the communal toilets leaning over a basin. Satchmo Humane is standing next to me with a worried expression on his face.

‘Now you listen to me boss.’ He says as he waves a bony finger at me. ‘You a gon’ calm down now, y’hear?’

‘I have to stop Brian Alpha from hurting.’

‘Lookee here. Alppa …he aint to be messed around wid. You mess wid him an’ he eat you up an spittcha out! He an animal wid a heart of a demon! You better take that there key an use it wisely. You leave this place as soon as it get dark. An’ you run! Y’hear me boy?’

‘I’m not leaving without her. I gave her my word.’ I reply.

Satchmo shakes his head and hands me a paper towel to wipe my hands on. I thank him for his help before heading out onto the corridor. My heart is still racing and I can barely compose myself without clenching my fists or grinding my jaws together. It’s not surprising when a member of staff sees me and blocks my path that my initial feeling is to want to slap him in the face!

‘Hey.’ He says. ‘ Where do you think you’re going?’

‘Look, I don’t want any trouble.’ I say, biting my lip. ‘I’ve got no quarrel with you. Just let me pass.’

‘Wait a second.’ He says. ‘Is your name Philip Kratos?’

‘Yes.’ I reply. I try to assess the situation. If I act quickly I realise I could probably leap around him and snatch his baton from his belt.

‘Brian Alpha’s looking for you.’ He says. ‘Though it’s none of my concern. It’s a personal issue between you and him. You’ll find him in the dining hall, though if you want my advice I’d stop and think about it for a minute. Someone like him will easily tear you limb from limb. You should keep your head down and hide. It’s your only way of surviving.’

‘How do you know he’s after me?’

‘Everyone knows. He’s not a very subtle person.’

I pause and eye him suspiciously.

‘Why are you telling me this?’ I ask.

‘I never lie to a condemned man!’

‘Yeah well, we’ll see about that wont we!’ I reply, testily.

I pay him no more further attention and proceed towards the North Wing. As I walk down the darkly lit corridors I’m a little unnerved by the lack of activity, there’s barely anyone around. Also, when I do actually come across any staff members they just me pass without saying a single word. When I finally reach the doors that lead to the dining hall I’m aware of a low rumble that, as I get closer, gets louder. For a second I feel a chill down my spine quickly followed by the image of my distressed sweetheart’s face flashing in my mind. I’m at once resolute with the situation. I realise I have to confront him. What sort of man would I be if I didn’t?

I push open the doors. The central area of the dining room is empty with the chairs and tables stacked against the walls. As I take a few steps forward I’m greeted by a huge roar from the overhead landing’s and balconies, they’re completely filled with hundreds of my fellow hotel occupants. To my left and three floors up I can see Mike flanked by his friends and hangers on, below him on the first landing there’s Mr Sinatra. Dotted about are many familiar faces such as Kenneth Secular and Geoff Blank from the factory, there’s Desmond Rather whose room is only a few doors away from mine, that’s Jerome Houselander and Patrick Bird …oh look it’s Christophe Abiposere. It would seem the most of hotel has turned up to watch me although I’m completely certain if they care for my well being. Some are laughing and pointing at me in a most hysterical manner whilst others hurl an assortment of objects down at me, plastic cups, stale bread rolls, the odd shoe. The others, the more civilised members of the of the crowd just stare down at me in with plaintive expressions on their faces. None of this matters though as I’m too focused with the job at hand.

The doors opposite at the other end of the hall slowly open. Just audible over the noise of the crowd I hear Brian Alpha’s roar. He’s led by two hotel staff members who, even despite having bound with a thick metal chain and padlock, seem to struggle to restrain his violent straining. The crowd goes silent in awe until the only sound that can be heard is the bestial grunting of Alpha and the heavy clanking of the chains as they dash against each other. He then pauses, gazes down at his bound hands with a furrowed brow before he stoops down and attempts to bite through the chains with his teeth. This is then followed by a single voice that shouts from somewhere in the crowd.

‘Brian! No! You wont get through them. They’re solid steel. The only way you’ll be released is if you unlock the padlock. That split arse over there has got the key. You have fight him for it!’

I recognise that voice. It’s Mr Sinatra and he’s pointing straight at me.

Brian is so consumed in his own anger that it takes him a moment for these words to register before he stops gnawing and lets the chains drop to the floor. He stares at me with his piercing blue eyes before he stands upright and roars with all the force of a lion prompting the two staff members to anxiously depart through the door from which they came. The crowd then erupts into a tumultuous mixture of jeering and applause – a response I’m sure, that can only be influenced with the prospect of seeing my blood spilt in front of them however despite this mayhem unfurling around me, I remain strangely composed. Looking down at myself I seem to have unconsciously assumed a the stance of a fighter, my feet are slightly apart and my fists held high in front of me.

Brian staggers towards accompanied with the dull sound of the heavy chains dragging by his feet. I quickly asses the my chances and realise that due to his sheer weight his movements are cumbersome and restricted due to his shackled hands therefore I have to use my agility and speed to have any sort of advantage
As he sways closer I bounce from one foot to the other and then weave effortlessly around him. He merely frowns at me me before lashing with his fists but he does not connect as I’m too sprightly for him. I then dart over to his exposed left side and land a perfect punch to his stomach. He grunts and then lumbers around to face me. Too late! I anticipate his response. I am no longer there I am now behind him bouncing up and down on the balls of my feet and ready for action! In one smooth motion I leap into the air to deliver a blow to the back of his head, on landing I assume a crouching position before slowly shuffling away from reach. Brian however stands unscathed but slightly bemused. I can hear that the crowd on the other hand are growing listless and irritated by the lack of bloodshed as they begin to jeer and slow handclap. Irritated by this Brian glares up at them with and growls. With his attention directed away from me I realise that this could be my moment to mount another assault. I run straight at him with the intention being to leap up like a coiled spring and deliver an all powerful uppercut to his jaw that will throw him off balance so I can then get him to the floor. Unfortunately however just as I leap he unexpectedly whirls round causing the chain to lash out and whack me on the nose. I fall awkwardly in a heap right in front of him. A searing warm pain spreads across the centre of my face whilst I feel his large hands tightly grab my right ankle and hoist me up, I’m aware too that the sound of handclaps have been replaced with an altogether more menacing chant.


As he dangles me upside down, with the the blood rushing to my face I realise that I’m now in big trouble, no amount of struggling or waving my arms about will make any difference. Brian just stares at me quizzically before flinging me over his shoulder like I were a rag doll. My head connects against the hard floor. There’s an almighty thud along with an intense blinding white flash followed by a few moments where I’m too disorientated to know exactly what’s going then there’s a brief sensation of flight accompanied with blurred vision and a vague fuzzy ringing in my head followed by a thud and then another white flash. This whole process of flying, blur, thud, white light is repeated over and over again until I’m not even sure who I am or how I got to be here. Curiously though there doesn’t seem to be any sensation of pain whatsoever but just a feeling of helplessness and the vague notion that I’m little more than just a conduit to some strange rhythmic performance.

And then finally, all is still. Off in the distance I can hear the comforting sound of the soft rolling waves of the sea and from somewhere high above, amongst what I imagine must be a beautiful clear blue sky there’s the cadences of gulls. I’m aware that I’m laying on my back, I must have fallen asleep on the beach. I think I’d quite like to stay here for a while. Then there’s a small nagging feeling of doubt and inexplicably the sea has become an insistent thrashing noise as though the tide were almost upon me and about to sweep me away. In addition the gulls’ sweet sounds have somehow been replaced by the shrill cackle of evil giant vultures! I begin to stir, lifting my head off the ground. Immediately I’m overcome with a feeling of dizziness and nausea as well as a sharp throbbing pain to my forehead and a terrible stabbing pain in my abdomen. I open my eyes and then squint as the harsh glare of the light seeps into my fragile mind.

Although groggy I realise I’m now in great danger and try to ascertain where Brian is, that’s when I realise that there’s a third person down here. Gazing through blurred vision, I’m not certain but I think it’s Marvin however there’s something different about him. He’s wearing a white vest, identical to the one Brian Alpha wears, a pair of plimsoles and for some reason, around his waist he has on a ballerina’s pink tutu. Ass my vision starts to focus I notice that he’s shaved all his hair off has painted his scalp yellow. Most bizarrely though he’s wearing make up, complete with a rouge effect to his cheeks and lurid turquoise smeared around his eyes, maybe even some glitter. He’s applied bright red lipstick too that make his lips glossier and fuller, more exaggerated. He turns to me for a few seconds, winks and then faces Brian.

‘Hey fucktard!’ He shouts. ‘These people tell me that you own these walls. Is that right? Is this your manor?’

Brian simply stares at him in bemusement, his jaw slightly ajar.

‘This is what I think about you!’ Proclaims Marvin.

His hands pull up the tutu and he fumbles at the top of his underpants before pulling out his penis. With a defiant look on his face he brandishes it at Brian and a golden streak of urine spurts out onto the dining room floor. He continues for approximately another nine seconds until the steady arc wavers until it continues to dribble. With two casual flicks of his wrist he then wrings out the last few drops before tucking his member back underneath his tutu.

‘What do you think about that then eh?’ He goads with his hands on his hips.

Just as I’m wondering how Brian will to react to this a red mist suddenly materialises and gathers above him before slowly descending down until it envelopes his completely. His face tightens into a far uglier grimace, spittle begins to bubble around his mouth and his veins twitch like worms against his temples. He runs directly towards Marvin like a crazed bull. Marvin is light on his feet and dodges Brian with one immaculate pirouette. Brian swings his giant shackled arms but doesn’t connect, instead he wobbles to almost lose his balance. He steadies himself and once more lurches forward. Again Marvin tip toes gracefully to one side with an arched back and chin proudly skewed upwards.

‘Look at me!’ He taunts. ‘I am a man in the prime of my life. An artist! Whereas you sir are a disgusting oaf. You are not fit to dance with me!’

Brian wades in however at the last moment he changes direction and blocks Marvin into a corner which causes the crowd to erupt into a cacophony of feral yelping however that’s when Marvin astounds us all. He dives swiftly like a rare bird, down between Brian’s legs and then bounces back up behind him. Then in a moment of inspired genius he snatches the end of the chains and yanks them up between the groove of Brian’s backside resulting in the big man to slam his large forearms against his own genitals. Transfixed, the crowd groans in unison as he stands there humiliated and bent up, then for the first time they break out in rapturous applause. As the performance continues there are further displays of his athletic prowess, there are star jumps, side steps, somersaults, a scissor kick that lands squarely on Brian Alpha’s jaw that provokes a loud gasp from the crowd unfortunately though Marvin’s luck soon runs out.

Brian charges at Marvin who in turn nimbly skips onto the dining tables that have been stacked up against one of the walls. With a mighty snort Brian places his arms between the tables and starts to yank them away one after the other leaving Marvin to teeter precariously above. As the remaining ones come crashing Marvin propels himself upwards to cling onto the underside of the metal framework of the landing. Although he’s out of Brian’s reach it’s only a matter of time before he must drop down, the crowd know it too and begin to caterwaul in excitement. Brian on the other hand is quietly waits, staring up at his prey with a slow burning hatred.

Despite my own wounded condition I know that I can’t just watch and do nothing. That’s when I see it on the floor only a few yards from me, Marvin’s penknife! He must have dropped it. Slowly I drag myself across the floor and grasp it, twist the end and release the blade. I remember his words.

‘A blunt knife will do a person more damage by tearing the skin compared to that of a sharp knife which just cuts.’

Brian has his back to me, I have the advantage, he’ll have no way of knowing that I’m coming at him! So with that, I pick myself up wincing through the sharp stabbing pain in my abdomen. I’m shaking slightly and a little out of breath but I manage to steady myself and stagger onwards until I’m right behind Brian. I raise the penknife above my head with the blade facing down. Gritting my teeth I muster all the strength I have and plunge it into the area just below his shoulder blades. He responds slowly, turning his head round to stare at me. It’s almost as if he’s not even aware he’s got a penknife sticking out of his back! He then completely ignores Marvin shifting his feet to face me fully. His great fists clench and he bears his teeth at me. I ready myself for another beating however just before he strikes Marvin drops down from above, lands feet first on top of Brian who in turn loses his balance and topples forward onto me.

All three of us are tangled up together in a pile on the floor with me pinned underneath one of Brian Alpha’s huge legs. There’s the sound of a struggle along with the rattling of Brian’s chains. Twisting around I look up and I notice that Brian’s right leg is bent below the knee, jutting out in the opposite direction in a most unnatural manner. To my horror as I drag myself away I see that his shackled hands are covering Marvin’s face and he’s repeatedly banging his head against the floor like he were trying to crack open a coconut! Marvin is still conscious but and uses his knee to lever against Brian’s chin whilst also frantically scratching at the his exposed thorax and lower with his painted fingernails.
In an attempt to force Brian to relinquish his grip I position myself behind him and reach around with my fingers hooked into the ridges of his eye sockets and nostrils however this has little effect as he continues to bounce Marvin’s head back and forth. At that moment Marvin’s fingers then come flop loose and fall to his side, an awful sick feeling comes over me. In my desperation I shout all manner of expletives at Brian before taking his ear between my teeth and bite down hard. As I pull away I hear the sound of a sudden loud crack not too dissimilar to that of a thick branch snapping in two, Brian’s upper body weight seems to go limp in my arms. I push him away and picking myself up whilst spitting out the bloody lobe and stand over him. I expect him to come to life and jump up at me but he doesn’t. He just lays there gazing up, mouth wide open gasping for breath but there’s something else, he’s completely bald! Looking down at myself, clutched in my left hand is his blond hair. There is a stunned silence from the crowd at the realisation that Brian Alpha was Governor Veetman all along! He was wearing a toupee!

Behind me I hear Marvin whimper. He looks in a bad way, there’s a nasty gash running along the top of his head and he looks like he’s lost a lot of blood. At once I’m by his side, tearing the thin material from his tutu in order to apply it to his wound and stem the flow.

‘My tutu’s in tatters.’ He whispers with a faint smile.

‘Don’t try to move. You’re going to be okay.’ I say.

I cradle his head in my lap, he gazes up at me with a calm expression and weakly lifts his left hand, I grasp it gently with mine. At that moment something passes between us, some shared unspoken understanding. We both know that he’s really not going to be okay.

‘When I was a boy my mummy and daddy told me a story. Do you want to hear it?’
He whispers.

I nod my head, unable to speak.

‘They told me that the world is just like an giant orange. That one day a big man would come along and take his fingers and peel open the surface of it …isn’t that funny?…and do you know what they told would be inside? …i’ll tell you …Paradise! They’ll be sunshine everyday for everyone and people would want no more …they’ll be a wealth of forests and valleys and unbelievable vistas, mountains with wild deer and antelope and the birds would sing. They’d be beaches with pure white sands and beautiful clear blue oceans full of all sorts of exotic and multi coloured fish. But then my mummy and daddy told me something else. That I could go there on the one condition that I behaved myself and was a good boy. I had to eat all my food and not play in the road otherwise the big man would see and would be angry and decide that he didn’t want to peel his orange anymore. So I was a good boy and I did as I was told and I was happy and no harm came to me. But when I grew a little older things changed. Whereas the other boys wanted to play football or play soldiers and pretend to kill each other I just wanted to be with the girls and play with their dolls and Wendy houses. This upset my mummy and daddy and they told me I was bad. They told me to write letters to the big man to let him know how sorry I was. So I did. And then my mummy and daddy showed me a book that the big man had written for me. It was a very thick book with very small writing and no pictures in it. Not even on the cover.’

‘And they said that the big man had come to my home while I was at school and told them that he was very angry with me and that if I continued to play with the girls then I’d go to the other place …the place where all the bad people go. It wasn’t a nice place at all and made me cry. So I carried on writing letters to the big man but I was careful to only write things that I thought he would like to hear. When I was a teenager though I realised that I had strong feelings for other boys. Sexual feelings. I didn’t tell anyone and only wrote my thoughts down in a diary but then my parents found it. As usual they told me those same stories, the ones about me burning in Hell and suffering for all eternity however it wouldn’t work anymore. I was old enough to question them and their story of the big man and his fucking stupid orange. I told them that I didn’t believe in the big man! As a a result they disowned me as their son and threw me out of the house. I never saw or heard from them again. As you can imagine this experience would influence and shaped the very person I became. Throughout my twenties I was basically an angry young man just drifting with no purpose in my life. Then late one night I was awoken by the sound of a gentle voice. It asked me why I had been ignoring him. It was the big man!’

‘So I sat there in the darkness, weeping for all my worth and pleading for forgiveness. He told me that he didn’t think I was bad and that I he would save me but only if I worked for him. He wanted me to write for him about the truth. So that’s what I’ve been doing ever since. But I’m afraid now it’s all over.’

‘No!’ I wail.

‘Don’t be sad my dear boy. Before you there was only Julian. You’ve given my life a purpose and you’ve given me something beautiful to die for. I know I’m not a bad person and you’ve proved that, You’ve proved to me that the only thing I’ve been guilty of is love! But there’s something else I want to say to you. I’ve been harbouring a desire. I would have liked to have used the key to escape and disappear into the countryside. I hoped that we could have lived in a cottage together …just you and me. No cars, no factories, no pollution. I’d stay at home and cook and take care of the domestic side of things whilst you could tend to the livestock and collect wood for the fire and do manly pursuits. Wouldn’t that be perfect? That would be my idea of paradise. Do you want to hear something funny? I’ve been cooped up in this place for so long that I’ve no idea what time of year it is. I wonder if it’s autumn? I wonder if the leaves have fallen off the trees yet. When I close my eyes I can almost imagine them …almost feel the wind blow against my face …almost hear those birds sings …almost touch…’

‘Don’t close your eyes.’ I shriek. ‘Stay with me Marvin!’

And then Marvin was gone. There was nothing I could do.

‘No!’ A sharp voice interjects. ‘There are no cottages. There are no birds or trees! There never was in the first place!’

I look up to see Mr Sinatra standing next to me along with three other uniformed staff members. Behind them the dining hall doors slam open and in rushes the Governor’s daughter. My beloved!

‘SPARKY!’ She screams.

She’s in tears and is at once kneeling by her father. Mr Sinatra gives me an icy glare before going over next to her.

‘Come on love.’ He says, putting an arm around her shoulder. ‘We’ll take care of him, see if we can put the old man back together again eh?’

And then suddenly she leaps up and hurls herself at me. Her fingernails flash in front of me and scratch at my face.

‘You bastard! You’re responsible for this! I never want to see you again! I hate you! I hate you!’ She yells.

I raise my arms and push her away but am left very shaken by her reaction. Before I can remonstrate or offer a single word of condolence a couple of staff members grab her and lead her back through the door. All I can do is stand there watching. Mr Sinatra peers down at Governor Veetman, he’s still still alive, his eyes are open and he’s making some awful retching noises but other than that he’s not moving. Mr Sinatra then purses his lips and spits in his face. He then stands to address the crowd.

‘Nah look at him! The old sod’s going nowhere. He’s fart arsed! It looks like I’m in charge now. And you!’ He says pointing at me. ‘Next time I offer you a focking cigarette you better focking well take it!’

And with that I watch them drag Marvin’s lifeless body away.


I spend the next seven days recovering in my room. Surprisingly, despite the beatings I received the most serious of my injuries were just a couple of fractured ribs. I had an assortment of nasty looking bruises and aches of course, but that was to be expected. The mental turmoil I was enduring however was to prove more painful. It was as though a black cloud had fallen over me and shaded all my thoughts with despair. It didn’t help matters much that they’d removed all of Marvin’s personal belongings. His diaries, clothes, his stash of tobacco …even his desk. The idea that they could just erase all knowledge of him made me fearful for my own future. There was also the sheer confusion that played with my mind when I tried to rationalise the dreadful events of the previous week, there were so many unanswered questions!

Did the Governor’s daughter ever love me or was she lying? What was her relationship with her father? Is he really her father? Is he the same person as Sparky? Why did Mr Sinatra spit in his face?

In addition to this there were other things that seemed out of place. On the few times that I left my room I noticed that none of the other men would talk to me or even look me in the eye. During meal time they would make their excuses and leave rather than sit at my table. To be honest I didn’t really care as I wasn’t in the mood to socialise and just wanted to be left alone. Soon I was joined by a roommate that went by the name of Anton Newcome, he had been a juvenile delinquent and had stolen a couple of cars but other than that had done nothing too serious. I bore no personal ill feeling against him but like most younger people I found him to be highly energetic, arrogant, lacking in patience, argumentative and prone to taking offence when none was offered in the first place. Generally I wouldn’t pay him much attention and would remain taciturn but on one particular day he unwittingly provoked me.

‘Hey Phil.’ He screeched. ‘I’ve been hearing all sorts of things about your old roommate. I spoke to a canteen worker who told me that he’s still alive! He was seen was trying to escape over the wall but got caught on the barbed wire and is now disfigured beyond recognition. I heard from Charlie Hassle that he was in solitary confinement but died of pneumonia after one of the staff fell asleep whilst giving him the cold hose pipe treatment. What do you reckon?’

Before I knew it I flew into a rage and had him in the corner of the room with my fingers gripped tightly around his neck. ‘Don’t you dare talk about my friend like that. You don’t know a thing.’ I snarled.

As the days went by my depression seemed to linger so I went to visit Mike and ask him for guidance. He was actually very pleased to see me and welcomed me into his room whist offered me some shaved lambs head soup that he had bubbling inside a metal tureen. I declined his gracious gesture and went on to tell him of my woes. After he’d listened he produced a piece of pink paper and placed it in my hands. It was a ticket for the following day’s Drawing of the Balls event, he then wished me luck and told me that things always worked themselves out in the end. I was a little puzzled by his reply but thanked him nonetheless.

And so here we are. As usual there’s much anticipation and everyone is looking forward to the event …everyone that is but me. I’m obliged to attend but in my present mood I just want to be on my own in my room. As we all file into the Great Hall I vaguely overhear someone in front of me talking to his friend, telling him something about how the proceedings will be extra special. The main lights begin to dim with just the red curtained stage area being illuminated then there’s that familiar pre recorded music accompanied with the sound of the anonymous disembodied voice booming over the microphone.

‘And now gentlemen. It’s twenty minutes past eight. Please put your hands together and welcome your host …MMMMISTER SINATRAAAHHH!’

The curtains roll back and the spotlights flicker causing the overhead mirrorball to project hundreds of tiny white against us. Limply, I clap my hands together in a half hearted attempt to join in with the rest of the audience’s enthusiasm. At this point I’m fully expecting to see Mr Sinatra come jogging out from stage left but instead a large hunched up figure in an electric wheelchair slowly moves to the centre of the stage, backs up awkwardly and moves to face us. I instantly recognise that shiny bronzed bald head as belonging to Governor Veetman.

He’s dressed as usual in his pressed white trousers, shirt and tie however he also has on a shiny purple lamé jacket. It also looks like there’s something obscuring his mouth …a plug of some sort …it’s a baby’s dummy! Understandably, the audience falls silent for a few moments before they erupt into laughter. Mr Sinatra then strides onto the stage dressed in his usual gold lame blazer that matches the Governors. He grins cheekily, winks in a slow, hammy, exaggerated way before lifting the microphone to his mouth.

‘Nicky nacky noo! Well, well, well. What have we here? I think the Governor would still like a piece of the action!’ He announces.

He shrugs his shoulders and raises his eyebrows in a mock quizzical expression, I’ve seen him do this many times and would describe it as a theatrical technique that’s designed as a to cue for the audience to elicit their response. It works every time, everyone is literally beside themselves with laugher …everyone but Governor Veetman who sits as though he were a piece of furniture, looking forward with the same pensive expression he’s always had …it’s fair to say however, with the addition of the dummy stuck firmly between his lips, he does look absolutely ridiculous.
Mr Sinatra continues his act, prancing around and gurning at people on the first row however he now has the Governor as a foil to work against and so does not a single opportunity to deliver a succession of cruel jibes at his expense. At one point he even takes his lifeless right arm by his sleeve, lift it up and wave it in the air.

‘Hello everybody. Only pretending!’ He says, imitating the Governor’s cracked tones. ‘I’m not really paralysed from the neck down.’ Before he lets the arm fall down with a thud. The audience love it. Then, with a serious expression on his face, Mr Sinatra points a finger in the air, the spotlight stays on him as he takes a couple of paces to his right leaving the Governor in the shadows.

‘Now joking aside, I’d just like to thank Governor Veetman for managing to come along tonight. Previously there have been a few dissenting voices that have expressed opinions alluding to a rift between myself and this great man. Well let me that this moment to assure you all that nothing could be further than the truth. And as a token of goodwill the Governor has agreed to chair …oh dear, Freudian slip! …co-present the Drawing of the balls!’

This is followed by much cheering however there doesn’t seem to be any sign of the drawing machine.

‘Tonight.’ Mr Sinatra says. ‘We’ve got something a bit special for you. Happy, happy, joy, joy! For your kind indulgence please give a warm welcome to the lovely, the delightful but ever so naughty, Madame Nico!’

Mr Sinatra swiftly moves to the wings. The lights dim and music proceeds to boom over the speakers, there’s a giddy swing of trumpets followed by a tinkling of piano before a huge thundering drum provides a steady back beat, a guitar makes squelchy wacker wacker noises and finally, a twangy bass ominous notes into the mixture. Suddenly it builds to a climax and then judders to a halt. The lights fade back up to bathe the stage in blood red. A single white spotlight then fixes on a woman standing in the centre. It’s her! The woman that stole my heart!

I’m not the only one taken aback with her entrance as you can actually hear the crowd collectively take a sharp intake of breath. She stands motionless with her hands on her hips and her legs wide apart. She’s dressed in a black basque that tightly moulds her slim waist and pushes her breasts roundly together. This is completed with matching stockings, suspenders and impossibly high heeled pointed shiny boots that extend all the way up to her knees. She’s all gleaming white skin and sharp black edges, it’s an image that seems to present her femininity in an altogether more aggressive way. Compared to that of the frail young woman I last encountered I have to admit this vision I see on the stage only adds to my current confused state of mind.
The audience begin whistling and shouting out all manner of obscene requests. There’s even a few moments where dozens of surge forward, pushing and clambering to over each other to get a better view. In contrast, she simply stares impassively over our heads and to somewhere into the dark distance. The drums begin a steady beat before the music starts up however this time the tempo is slower and looser with subtle sharp tones that twist the melody in a sinister and unharmonious manner. She responds by slowly swaying her hips but still with that odd air of detachment to her expression. The effect this has on the men here can only be described as extremely potent. There’s a man next to me who I recognise as being Mark Pedant, that’s cackling to himself whilst another chap nearby is in such a stupor that he has unzipped his trousers and is proceeding to vigorously beat upon himself like there was no tomorrow!

The music segues into a succession of bizarre flute improvisation but she never misses a beat expertly alternating the movements of her body in a series of languid sashays. At one point she turns her back from the audience and bends forward, presenting her shapely behind as if it were a trophy before slowly turning her head with a casual flick of her long black hair. Her expression is still hard to decipher but I’m sure I detect a hint of distain in her eyes. Then, quite unexpectedly, she reaches round herself and slaps her own left buttock. This receives the loudest cheer so far however it only leaves me feeling uneasy as I don’t agree with this mass celebration of vulgarity. It’s as though she were just a mere object of lust.

I find myself becoming more angry. I’d like to force myself on the stage and take her away from all this however I know this is now probably impossible, I was after all instrumental in causing her father to be a paraplegic. Who knows, maybe I never had a chance in the first place. Maybe I never really knew her in the first place. It’s a grim realisation that leaves an awful sick feeling in my stomach. She takes off her basque, teases her nipples between her forefinger and thumb until they stand erect through the thin material of her brassiere, she then whips the undergarment away and leans forward to jiggle her breasts over the heads of the men nearest to her. It’s all too much for one dishevelled individual who climbs onto the stage and staggers towards her with his arms wide open. As soon as she notices him her pose is gone, standing rigid with a look of horror on her face, her arms come up to hide her breasts and she turns her back to from him in a bid to shield herself from him. That’s when I see a flash of vulnerability, I at once recognise that same fragile person I fell in love with however this moment is only fleeting as it’s only seconds before Mr Sinatra appears from the wings to swiftly intervene, pulling the miscreant away and giving him a hefty kick back into the crowd.

As she regains her composure and continues to dance it becomes clear that she’s not actually just dancing and taking her clothes off. Although she deploys a whole range of seductive positions she also strategically incorporates a technique that involves not quite revealing everything, which can’t be an easy thing to do considering that she’s wearing virtually nothing whatsoever! I realise that this is probably most integral element to her whole performance as it serves to prolong the whole experience and makes the men more excited. And so despite my own personal misgivings, on a practical level I have to concede that she’s actually very good at this sort of thing.

The music continues, trumpets blare, cymbals crash and organs swell to an almost impossible delirium, finally there’s a pounding succession of drum beats. Her movements appear more exaggerated as she matches the pace, she lifts her foot and rests it on a wooden chair that seems to have miraculously appeared from nowhere, as she arches forward she runs her hand slowly from her ankle and up past her knee, along her inner thigh. She closes her eyes and pouts in way that I can only describe as some sort of proclamation of a inner state of bliss before she delicately pulls the stocking, rolling it down her leg and into a perfect small bundle of material of which she playfully tosses to the baying mob. After repeating this with the other stocking she smiles coquettishly she drapes herself on the chair and then unfolds her legs, spreading them until they are wide apart. She’s completely naked but for her most private area that’s covered by a single flimsy black strip of silk held together by two thin pieces of string. She holds her head back and reclines, from behind herself she grasps the string and pulls it slowly, stretching the fabric tautly between the delicate folds of her flesh. As the music builds into a dizzy crescendo she pulls the string apart and plucks the silk out from herself in one last final reveal.
As the music abruptly finishes the Great hall is filled with a deafening barrage of hooting and chanting from the hysterical crowd of men with some of the more excited members actually hurling globs of unidentified bodily fluid into the air. Mr Sinatra’s voice then booms over the loudspeakers.

‘Nicky Nacky Noo! I don’t know about you, but I’d be up that like a rat up a drainpipe! Anyhow, without further ado, welcome, here’s your friend and mine …heeeere’s Mike!’

A spotlight darts from overhead and lands on the waving beheaded figure of Mike as he enters stage right. He’s wearing a plain white blood splattered t-shirt with the words HIS MASTER’S VOICE emblazoned on it. Impressively, he glides backwards moving one foot after the other in a most bizarre manner. How he does this I have no idea! Perhaps he has tiny wheels built into soles of his tennis shoes?

‘If we can just have a little bit of hush as Madame Nico will draw the first ball.’ Says Mr Sinatra.

A feverish silence falls over them. Still with her legs wide apart, she shifts her weight slightly to one side and furrows her brow in concentration, resting both her palms on either side of her vagina she then gently parts the pink lips. Then she does something quite odd. Her breasts rise up and down heavily as though she’s struggling to find her breath, I look on aghast as the crowd respond with a steady handclap. This is sheer madness! I then notice something white appear from her gaping pink pouch. She makes a most unladylike grunting noise, her stomach ripples and heaves as though an invisible hand had clapped down against. The muscles of her vagina contract as though with a life of their own accompanied with a loud popping noise similar to that of flatulence. This pushes the white object out, flying out into the air only for Mike to lurch forward and catch it. A hearty cheer from the crowd as he holds it up to reveal that it’s a ping pong ball complete with a number written on it. He then stoops down to Governor Veetman, holding the ball
closely in front of his face. Mr Sinatra also joins them as he casually rests his elbow on the Governor’s shoulder and plucks the dummy from his mouth, prompting him to cough up a portion of phlegm.

‘And just to prove that there’s no jiggery-pokery-pokery-jiggery, the Governor will read out the first number drawn from his daughter.’ Mr Sinatra announces, holding the microphone close to the Governor’s.

‘Twenty three.’ The Governor rasps, to much cheering from the audience.

‘Thank you sir. ‘Says Mr Sinatra. ‘And now if you please Madame Nico, can we have the next ball?’

The spectacle of witnessing her conjure more ping pong balls her is repeated a further five times, by the final one lines of perspiration visibly roll down her face, she looks drained. Mr Sinatra then announces the numbers in ascending numerical order.

‘Two, nine, seventeen, twenty-three, twenty-eight and forty. Who is the lucky
person out there? Can I have a winner?’

I look down in surprise to see that my ticket has the identical set of numbers. I stand there motionless trying to comprehend what has just happened.

‘Bingo Hand job!’ Someone next to me shouts. ‘He’s got the ticket!’

At once chaos ensures, men push and mill around me as the harsh glare of the spotlight hones in on me, I’m forcibly taken by the scruff of my shirt, led out of the crowd and onto the stage.

‘Well look who it isn’t! Hello Phil and congratulations. Nicky nacky noo!’ Says Mr Sinatra, thrusting the microphone towards my face.

‘Nicky nacky noo.’ I faintly reply.

‘My squirrels tell me that you’ve been a very bad boy indeed! Yes, tonight lady and gentlemen we have been blessed with the presence of one of the most notorious serial killers of the last decade. Show some appreciation for The Black taxi cab killer!’

On hearing this a number of muted gasps of disbelief ring through the crowd followed by an assortment of mutterings. I know what Mr Sinatra claims is untrue as it’s not in my nature to hurt someone let alone actually kill them however I realise it’s extremely doubtful that anyone here will believe me, I don’t think it’s what they want to hear! Mr Sinatra bounces with enthusiasm as he begins to read a list of names of the people I have supposedly murdered. Under the circumstances I realise I’ve lost everything, my body is bruised and my heart is broken, I’m a shadow of the man I was, it would seem the prospect of going through the blue door and leaving this place behind forever is the only logical solution.

‘So tell me.’ Asks Mr Sinatra. ‘What were the reasons for you to kill these people in cold blood?’

I pause for a moment and try to anticipate the words that they would all like me to say.

‘I don’t know why. I just did it.’ I reply.

‘Did you do it for fun?’ He asks.

‘Yes. I think I must have been bored.’

‘What is your last memory of your last victim? Did his head look like a doughnut after you’d shot him?’

‘Yeah. probably …a jam doughnut.’ I mutter.

‘Man’s man! Therefore, Phillip Kratos do you admit your guilt and accept the full burden of your crimes?’ Asks Mr Sinatra.

‘I do.’

‘What do you get for taking a life?’ He bellows to the crowd.

‘Life!’ They shout back.

‘That’s right! Life is life! Please put your hands together for Phil. I’m sure you’ll all agree that he’s been a smashing guest!’

Rapturous applause follows, two uniformed members of staff join the stage and stand either side of me, with my bottom lip starting to quiver I take a final glance at her, she’s now dressed in her robe and is taking a bow for the crowd. For just a second she looks directly at me with an arched eyebrow and a wicked glint in her eye, it’s the hardest knock of all. I gulp for air as though someone’s just slammed me in the chest and taken the wind from me.

‘Bye Phil. See you on the other side.’ Shouts Mr Sinatra. As I pass him he puts a hand on my shoulder and whispers in my ear. ‘This is my world now, split arse. You’re just passing through it!’

The two staff members escort me down the steps from the side of the stage, along the front row of the ecstatic crowd until we reach the blue door, I wait as the padlock is unlocked by another staff member before opened completely. With my head bowed I take a step forward just as Mr Sinatra closes the evenings entertainment with a rendition of ‘T’is a gift to be simple.’

The door is slammed shut behind me. ‘Okay. walk on.’ Says one of the staff members.

I do as he says. I’m at the end of a long corridor with nothing but two white walls on either side of me, we turn a corner and there in front of me is with his a short skinny black skinned male dressed in grey overalls with a metal bucket by his feet. He drags a mop slowly back and forth. It’s Satchmo Humane.

‘Goodbye Boss.’ He nods.

At the end of the the corridor I see an area with a counter with a staff member seated behind a glass partition. When we reach it I’m told to stand behind a horizontal yellow line on the floor that’s about a metre away from the counter.

‘Put your ticket on the metal area.’ Says the man behind the glass.

I comply, stretching forward and placing it on a metal dish, there’s a clicking noise as the dish flips up causing the ticket to fall into a metal sink that’s built into counter. The man then reaches into it from his side and picks up the ticket, he studies it for a few moments before picking up a pen to write something on a sheet of paper. It has typed words with my name at the top however I’m unable to decipher it’s relevance as at that point one of the accompanying staff members tells me to avert my gaze and stand up straight. The man behind the counter then asks me to slide my hands through the gap underneath the glass partition. He then tells me to keep my fingers outstretched and my hands flat with my palm resting down on the surface of the counter. After doing this he then grasps my thumb in between his finger and dabs it onto a small container that’s filled with a black sponge, as he lifts it up from the sponge I realise that it’s coated the underside of it with a black ink, he then presses it onto a blank box at the bottom of the sheet of paper so it creates a crude smudge mark. I stand there baffled as he repeats this process with my other fingertips until finally he asks me to remove hands from the counter whilst pushing some white tissue paper through the gap for me to wipe the ink from my fingers.

Once I’ve done this, the staff member tells me to take out all the contents of my pockets and place them in the metal dish, I remember that I’ve still got Marvin’s key. I would like to keep it but as my every movement is now being scrutinised it would probably be misguided of me to try and withhold it from them so I oblige him, I give away my all of my belongings, the key, a length of string and a few coins. I’m then led through a door that’s situated to the left of the counter, I find myself in a small room with the walls and floors covered in white walls, it’s completely bare but for a wooden bench and a tall metal cabinet that stands upright in one corner, there’s also another door situated at the furthest wall. One of staff members tells me to take off all my clothes and place them on the bench.
After a brief moment of standing naked in shivering silence the first door opens again and another gentleman steps into the room. He is clearly not a member of staff as he wears a long white coat along along with a shirt and tie, his physical build differs too, he’s somewhat smaller, older and thinner. Closing the door behind him he pauses to take a pair of transparent rubber gloves from his coat pocket and stretches them over his hands. I’m not certain but I’d hazard a guess and say that this man is a doctor.

‘Are you a doctor?’ I ask.

‘Tilt your head back and open your mouth as wide as you can.’ He replies.

He then leans closer to me and produces a small pen shaped object that has a light on the end, shining it into my mouth. He then returns the pen to his pocket and tells me to sit on the bench, he then stands behind me and begins to tug at my hair and poke at my scalp. Coming round to face me he then extends finger in a vertical position only inches from my nose and tells me to look directly before slowly moving it from left to right.

‘Good.’ He says quietly. ‘Now I’d like you to stand up, bend over and spread your buttock cheeks for me.’

He soon finishes his inspection. Despite the purple bruises around my ribs he seems satisfied telling the staff members that I’m in reasonable physical condition. He then takes a blue plastic strip from his coat pocket and clasps it around my left ankle.

‘What’s that?’ I ask.

‘Don’t try to take it off. You’ll only hurt yourself.’ He replies tersely. ‘You may get dressed now. There are some clothes in that locker.’

And with that he’s gone, leaving through the door from which he came. I bend down and look at the blue band more closely, written on it are the words VOID IF REMOVED.

‘Get on with it. We haven’t got all day.’ Says the one of the staff members.

Inside the metal locker is a set of clothes that differ from the regulation grey shirt and trousers, instead there’s a plain white t-shirt, a pair of black trousers, socks, underwear, a pair of black shiny shoes and a thin blue canvas jacket. Once I’ve put them on I sit on the bench to collect my thoughts and consider the events that have led me to be in this situation. I wish I’d listened to Marvin, I should have stayed away from her. I wonder what would happen if I went back to the Great Hall and tell them all that I’ve changed my plea to not guilty? Would they believe me? …it is the truth after all!

‘It’s time you went.’ Says the staff member.

Too late! There is no future! My premature and most untimely death surely beckons!
Warily, with all the weight of the world I lift myself off of the bench. One of the staff members guides me towards the second door while the other one stands behind me. Whatever lies behind will mark the end but what will it be? A cell made with no windows made impenetrable from bricks and mortar? That’s it! There’ll be an overhead tube light that flickers and buzzes incessantly depriving me of sleep and causing me to go insane! Maybe there’s a wooden scaffold and a noose hanging from the ceiling or maybe even a guillotine complete with a mysterious hooded figure brandishing an axe? What about a leather chair with heavy straps on the arms to hold me down so electrodes and wires can be methodically attached to my body? Or it could be a firing squad of eight men complete with rifles! No! All this surmising is no good and only upsets me more. If I carry on with this train of thought then I will only give myself a heart attack! I must be strong and not give them the satisfaction of knowing I am beaten. There’s the scraping sound of a metal lock turning, I try to quell the tears in my eyes by keeping them firmly closed before I promptly fall to the ground in heap.

‘Noooooooooooooo!’ I cry, curling myself into a ball.

The door is opened. I feel the staff member’s large hands on either side grabbing me by the scruff of my neck and waist, they lift me up to my feet and push me forward but in doing so my outstretched arms find the door frames, I cling to them and refuse to go but it’s no good, they easily overpower me. Exhausted, I finally relent and let them to hurl me to my fate.

I’m face down sprawled on some sort of loose gravel, sobbing uncontrollably. Something catches my attention, it sounds like a bird singing. I lift my head up and open my eyes. To my utter disbelief I’m no longer in the hotel but on a driveway to some outside enclosure. At the end of the drive entrance with a wall running either side of it, due to it being only a few metres in height I can easily look past it and see the rows of tall trees swaying in the sunlight. Standing up, I turn to face the heavy door from which I came and catch a glimpse of one of the staff members just as he slams it shut. I can’t quite believe what is happening and sense that this could be some sort of cruel practical joke, maybe the door will spring open and I will be set upon and bundled back inside. Slowly, I take a few paces away from the ugly grey building and then turn and start to run down the driveway, the warm breeze rushes against my face and it feels good, it feels like freedom! When I reach the entrance I stop and catch my breath to get my bearings, there’s a narrow secluded road that runs diagonal to the edge of a woodland area. Tentatively, I look back to check to see if I’ve been followed, there’s no one there, stepping out onto the road I notice something, fixed on the outer side of the wall of entrance there’s a sign.

Welcome to THEY MADE ME DO IT. An all Boys High Security and Dispersal School. I’m about to ponder the significance of this when I hear two bursts from a horn. Parked a few yards behind me is a black taxi cab with the display by the driver’s side illuminated, written on it are the words FOR HIRE. I deliberate between venturing into the woodland area or getting into the taxi. I would certainly be able to hide a lot easier in the if anyone did come looking for me however the taxi would give me an advantage in that it would put more distance between myself and that awful place. As two more bursts of the horn omit from the cab I walk over towards it and climb into the rear side.

The taxi begins to move, picks up speed and runs along a route flanked with an abundance of trees and dense leafy foliage. I’m feeling relived to be still alive but also a little nervous as I don’t actually know where I am or where I’m going.

‘Hello. I say, leaning forward to the driver. ‘my name is Philip. I’m really glad you picked me up.’

He doesn’t say a anything and only acknowledges me by stealing a glance through the mirror hanging in front of him.

‘Hello?’ I repeat, knocking on the partition. ‘Can you hear me? I think that I should let you know that I don’t actually have any money!’

There is no response from him. After a few moments I decide that there’s no point in trying to communicate with him so I slump back into the soft leather seat and gaze out of the window. As the taxi gently rocks from side to side, I feel my head droop and the lids of my eyes become heavy. It’s not long before I fall asleep.


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Paul Kristovic

Thornton Heath, united_kingdom

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