Category Archives: Short Stories

The Darkness and the Supernova

In the deepest darkest depths of this world, where the lights would never reach, there lived a lonely little Darkness. The little Darkness would spend his days drawing lines in the dark. Creating pictures in shades of only black. When he wasn’t creating something from nothing he would be watching the twinkling lights that hung in the sky up above him. He would watch them spin around each other, burning, flaring and dancing. He would wonder what they were doing and he would wish that he could dance with them.

And one day he got his chance…

He was sat watching them when a small light broke away from the others and began to grow in size, it drifted closer than any light ever had, until a dancing Supernova hung in the air above him, eyes brighter than anything else in the sky. The whole spectrum of colour swept over the land below and the little Darkness looked around in awe. He had never seen anything like this before.

His little mouth hung open.

“I like those.” The Supernova pointed as she spoke, each word bursting into tiny bubbles of light. He looked down and for the first time he saw the outline of himself. On the ground that surrounded him were a million perfect pictures of nothing, drawn in emptiness.

“Wow.” Was all he could think to say.

The Supernova smiled and hovered closer.

“Walk with me.” She whispered.

They walked and for the first time he saw the world in which he lived. The brilliant sights were burned into his mind. They sat side by side next to a glittering river and together they watched the other lights dance through the sky.

“They’re pretty aren’t they?” Her words were like fireflies.

“More than I could ever describe.” The little Darkness could not take his eyes off her. They spoke about nothing but every word was imprinted in his memory.

Then it was time for the Supernova to leave.

The little Darkness couldn’t help himself and the words fell from his mouth. “I think you’re amazing! You’re beautiful and you’re gorgeous and you’re brighter than anything I’ve ever seen before!”

The Supernova smiled in surprise. “You’re an angel, aren’t you?”

“Can I see you again?” The little Darkness fidgeted as he waited for her answer.
She nodded.

The light slowly faded as the Supernova flew back into the sky. In the gloom the little Darkness smiled. He’d never been called an angel before. He imagined the dark wings he would have and he imagined flying away with the Supernova. He replayed every memory, word and moment and he revelled in the fireworks that lit up the darkness inside him.

She came back to him the day after. He’d been thinking about her dazzling colours and doodling in the dark when she appeared.

“I’d like it if you drew something for me, one day.” The little Darkness nodded and smiled. He would have created anything for her.

They walked and talked, and every moment was captured perfectly in his mind again. He wondered if she was experiencing things the same as he, was the world as vivid for her too? Then, all too soon, it was time for her to leave and he watched her slowly fade into the sky.

When he slept, his dreams were alive with colour.

He expected to see her every day after that but she never came. He saw her in the distance. A painfully bright light. His dark little heart had leapt into his throat and he waited, ready to show her the new things he had made. After hours of watching, he had finally managed to tear his eyes away from the sky and he had left his drawings where they lay in the dirt.

The fireworks kept him awake that night, they wouldn’t stop exploding in his mind. She didn’t appear the day after, or the day after. He began to think he would never see the Supernova again when…

He opened his eyes one day to find her hanging in the air just out of reach, her eyes burning brightly.

“Hey, you okay?”

The Darkness slunk away, his outline was not something he wanted to see. It reminded him of everything that he wasn’t.

“I’m okay.”

“Walk with me.”

They walked and they talked but the colours could not make the Darkness smile today.

“What’s wrong?”

“Why do you talk to me? I’m not like you. I’m different.”

The Supernova stopped and took his hand in hers. She wrapped herself around him and for a moment the little Darkness ceased to exist, his outline disappeared and he was full of light. He burned and he felt alive and it was the most beautiful feeling he had ever known. They were entangled for mere moments but it felt like forever.

Then it was over…

She stared into his dark eyes when she spoke. “I promise I’ll be back.”

“You don’t need to promise.”

“You’re an angel, remember that. Don’t forget to smile.”

The Darkness couldn’t hold her gaze. “I’ll try.”

She faded away.

The Darkness couldn’t get the colours out of his mind. All he wanted to do was hold the light, even if only for a little while. He wanted to let it consume him.

When he woke he watched the sky but she didn’t come. Nor the day after. For days and days he watched but none of the lights came close again.

From inside his mind he heard her voice. “I’d like you to draw something for me…” He knew then how to make her return. He would do what he was best at, he would make the most amazing thing that he could. He got to work, he pushed himself harder than he ever had before. Creating lines and curves in shades of nothing. He worked for days and was ready to collapse when from deeper in the dark a voice came…

“What are you doing?”

“I’m making a gift for the Supernova.”

“Why?”

“Because I want her to come back.”

“She’s not coming back.”

“She is, she promised.”

“You’re not what she wants. You should be happy that you got to see something that not many get to see. You got to experience the light.”

“But all it did was make the darkness darker… I didn’t realise how dark it really was here. I just want to be part of that world. I want to be full of colour.”

“But that’s not where you belong… you belong here. You can’t exist there.”

“She could be my Supernova, and I could be her Darkness.”

“That’s not how the world works.”

“But that’s not fair.”

“I know…”

The voice fell silent and the little Darkness was left alone again. He thought for a moment about what the voice had said. In his dark little heart he knew the voice spoke the truth, but right now he couldn’t admit that to himself.

He was so tired, but he dug deep inside himself to where hope lay and he used it to give him the energy that he needed. He worked tirelessly to create something that would surely make the Supernova want to stay, something that would show her the beauty that she made him see. He crafted the most spectacular picture of her eyes from the fiery blackness, painting with a darkness that was ablaze with hope. If she happened to look down, he knew that she would see her bright eyes, reflected back in the nothingness.

Finally, he was done and he was exhausted.

He sat in the centre of it proudly. He knew she would love it. He spoke to her memory. “I made this for you.” The memory smiled and touched him and he was filled with light.

“Thank you, it’s beautiful.”

And he waited…

And waited…

With his arms wrapped around himself and with her eyes burning brightly in his mind, he waited for the Supernova to return.

Dear Tom

DON’T RUN… DON’T PANIC… JUST READ…

Hello You,

Was it a surprise when you stepped into your little hiding place and found this waiting for you? I hope so. How long was it before you actually reached out and tore the envelope off the branch? Not too long I hope. I’ve been waiting for you.

Has your belly done a little flip and flutter? Are the butterflies bouncing off the walls of your stomach as you read this? Are they bashing their little brains in? I bet they are, aren’t they?

Are you wondering why you found this envelope with this letter inside?

Why do you think?

It’s because I watch you. I watch you watching me. Out of the corner of my eye.

Did you think that I had no idea? Did you think that every night I would come to my bedroom window, look out into my garden and not know that you were watching me? The darkness is not a good place to hide the twinkle of an eye. Why do you think I stand there night after night?

It’s because I like it.

I like to feel your eyes on me.

I like the anticipation of waiting to appear to you. Sometimes I feel like I’m a star, waiting backstage, ready to perform to an adoring crowd of fans. I don’t need a crowd though do I? I’ve got you. My biggest fan. I walk up, ready to be framed for you. Picture perfect. A perfect living, breathing picture. Do you like it when I pose for you?

I know you like it when I undress.

Do you not worry that as you’re reading this, little insects might be finding their way into your clothes and onto your skin. Don’t you hate to feel the tickle of their little feet? I do.

It’s lonely in here tonight, those that are here don’t talk to me anymore. It’s been so long since I’ve heard a friendly voice or seen a friendly smile, that’s why I like you. The first time I saw you, my heart leapt straight into my throat, I almost gagged on it. That’s how happy I was.

What made you choose me over that pretty lady that lives across from me? Was I just an accident one night? I hope not, I like to believe in fate.

I’m rambling now, I bet you’re wondering what the point of this letter is. Well, the point is this… I think it’s time for the flirting to finish.

I want to play.

By the time you read this I’ll be naked and splayed, ready for you. My hair and my make up is done and my skin is tingling. My eyes are black and my lips are very, very red.

I am perfect and I am beautiful.

It’s been so long since I’ve felt a warm touch and I’m hungry. Wouldn’t you like to wash yourself in my wet mouth? I don’t want to be alone tonight.

The door’s open…

Why don’t you come on in?

Sliver

I remember thinking, ‘Who would have thought the end of the world would come in a box?’

I remember…

I remember that it ended on a Sunday. It ended with one foot in front of the other. It ended with a flash and the sound of crunching glass.

I remember…

I remember the clock striking twelve. I remember I was on my way to see Thomas, I’d wore my best hat for him because he said it made me look respectable, just like a proper lady. I remember he was always charitable with his compliments. I remember that I miss him.

I remember…

I remember the man from the papers stood over the road, watching me. I remember that his grin was so wide it threatened to split his face in half. I remember wishing that he would stop staring, I remember that I don’t like people who stare. I remember he had a box, and I remember that the box had legs and a lens. I remember him lifting his arm…

I remember…

I remember being whole, and I remember a tearing sensation like a scab being torn off, a scab that was kept inside of me. I remember the rest of me walking away, unaware that something had been left behind. I remember colours. I remember nothing past this point…

But I remember…

I remember that a picture is worth a thousand words. I remember too that it’s a lie, a picture is worth so much more. I remember that it’s worth every piece of you that it takes.

And I remember…

I remember thinking, ‘Who would have thought the end of the world would come in a box?’

Writer’s Block

My name is Andrew Wilts and my Dad used to say, “It’s called the past because it’s passed. Always look forward and never look back. Live in the now.” He always insisted on that: he believed it was a lesson that everyone should learn. He never understood that sometimes the past doesn’t pass, sometimes it holds on for dear life and it doesn’t let go. Sometimes, it’s all there is.

I used to be one sixth of one happy family. One sixth of one whole. Two parents, two sisters, and one little brother. Kelly, Mary, Steven and me, the genius. I was the only one of us that had a talent, I had a gift with the pen. Ever since I could read I wanted to write and ever since I could write I wanted people to read what I had written.

Steve used to watch me work. He’d watch me for hours and then read it through when I was done. He’d look at me with awe in his little eyes like I was a God. “How do you do it?” He’d ask me and I’d reply with the truth. “I don’t know, I just do.”

The years passed and I continued to write. I never got anything published, not even a single rejection letter but it never put me off. When I left home and got a job I kept on writing. All this was just a run up, I knew it, I was building up speed then BOOM! I’d be respected, I’d be successful, I’d be happy.

It was a beautiful morning in June when an aneurysm killed my dreams. I was talking to my Mum when it happened, I didn’t see any change or even a flicker: one second she was there and the next she was gone. She’d left her body long before I heard the crack of her head bouncing off the flagstones.

The funeral was a dream; a dream dressed all in black, a dream that was more real than anything I’d ever experienced before. Our faces were like those of the dead; everything was muted and everything was wrong. Reality had suddenly shifted to the side and it hurt.

We were waiting for Dad when Steve’s phone started to ring. He answered it and I remember his eyes were sparkling. He mumbled something and then a big grin spread like a gaping wound across his face. The words fell out of his mouth, “I’ve just sold my first story!” All I did was stare. Steve didn’t write. Steve didn’t do anything.

He took control at the funeral. He greeted people with a smile and a hug. He told stories of how Mum used to dance and sing. He made everyone laugh with the awful jokes she used to tell. He even gave a eulogy, bowing his head as he spoke, the picture of a perfect son. Then we said goodbye to her and it was over. Like cowards we swept her away beneath a carpet of dirt. Out of sight and out of mind.

And then, like nothing had ever happened, life began to move on again. I tried to find comfort by disappearing into my words. Steve’s success helped fuel me for a while but the nights that I couldn’t write quickly became more common than the nights that I could. I was empty: all the words had gone from my head and any hopes I had of finding inspiration were crushed when just a few months after Mum left us, Dad stopped breathing.

Once again Steve rose to the occasion. He told everyone at the funeral that it was a broken heart that killed our Dad. He kept everyone entertained and he made people forget – if only for a moment – what had happened. Afterwards he pulled me to one side and told me that he’d just sold his first book. I could only stare.

He sent me a signed copy when it came out and I noticed that he had dropped the ‘v’ from his name in favour of a ‘ph’. He’d always thought it was more sophisticated that way. He always used to get pretentious and sophisticated mixed up. What I managed to read of it was good, that’s why the rest of it went into the bin.

He left the day after the funeral with a smile and a wave. He was leaving to begin his new life and I couldn’t help but feel that it was my life he was leaving with.

This time the past didn’t pass, it just sat like a demon inside my head, reminding me over and over again of everything that I had lost. More than anything I needed to write. I had to write but I couldn’t. I needed to forget but I couldn’t. I watched as Steve’s book became a best seller and all I could do was see-saw between denial and grief. The two unhappy halves of the hole that was me.

Steve’s call came out of the blue. “Hi Andy, you missed me? I’m working but not getting anywhere. I thought I’d catch up with the family and see if it triggers something, you know what I mean? Of course you do. You still writing?” I ignored him. “Have you got Kelly’s number?” I recited the numbers and listened to the scratch of his pen upon paper (my pen, my paper). “Thanks Andy you’re a lifesaver.” He hung up and I listened to the line die.

I almost lost my mind when we got the call that Kelly was in hospital and in critical condition. We didn’t have long to say goodbye; I didn’t ever want to say goodbye to anyone ever again. “It’s easier to say goodbye when you’re saying goodbye to pain.” Steve had said that. Steve and his endless wisdom.

He called that night asking how Kelly was. I didn’t talk to him, I couldn’t, I was a mess. Mary took the phone from me and began demanding why he wasn’t here. We needed him, Kelly needed him. I heard the calm tone in which he replied. He wasn’t coming, he was in the middle of making a deal, one that would change his life. Mary started to scream at him then, she screamed so much that she tore her vocal cords, and when she couldn’t scream anymore she hung up on him. In the silence that followed I heard the demon whisper, “Steven blooms while Andrew Wilts…”

When it was over all we could do was go home. I tried to go on but I could feel dread hanging over me, knotting my belly and knotting my mind. I was on edge constantly: my nerves were about to snap. I spent hours pacing back and forth, I developed nervous twitches, stutters and shakes. I knew I was falling apart but I couldn’t stop it. I lost my job and I sold everything, every memory and every dream just to be able to afford to live. To exist.

Then one day, Mary stopped answering her phone, she stopped answering her door too. She’s listed as missing on the police database but I don’t think she’s missing. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking…

I didn’t tell anyone where I was going, I just left everything behind and ran. I ran as far as I could but no matter how far I went I always saw Steve looking out at me from the covers of newspapers and out through TV screens. He’s just sold the film rights to his first book and the world loves him. He doesn’t use the name Wilts anymore; he’d always wanted a name that was fit for a king.

I ran and I ran and now here I am. The past has run away like water beneath a bridge and I’m sat here in this dirty room listening to the fat flies dancing through the air. I’ve fallen a long long way but I think I’ve almost reached the bottom.

There’s more that I could say: about how I see Steve in all my dreams, his mouth wide, ready to eat me up. I could write about Kelly’s funeral but I can’t bring myself to do it. There are some wounds that are too big to bare alone and right now I’m the loneliest that I’ve ever been. I remember thinking once that I’d do anything to get the words back. I didn’t mean it, nothing is worth this.

Steve knows where I am. I know he does. I know because a letter came this morning; the only letter since I’ve been here. It was addressed to me. It was from his highness, Steve… he asked me how I was. He asked me if I was happy…

He asked me if I could help him find a little inspiration.

The Hollow Road

There is a forest far from here. The trees that grow there are huge and old, they reach up, and like accusing fingers they point at the fat clouds above them. Clouds that now burst.

The sky spits rain, each drop is like a bullet fired down from the heavens. Leaves are lashed and battered, the forest is blown into chaos.

Between the trees there is a sudden darting shape; a silhouette against the fading light. The shadow’s name is Michael and he is doing what he loves best. Pace after pace after pace after pace, he is racing the rotation of the Earth. The mad beating of his heart matches the slam of each foot as it hits the ground. He has been running for hours now, the world rolling away beneath him.

The drums are sounding.

The wind suddenly picks up and pushes him on, formless hands pressing formless fingers into his aching back. He surges ahead, but his legs are tired, against his will they give way and he falls, crashing head first in to the sodden ground. He lies there, listening to it as it thunders through the trees towards him.

He hears a voice. A whisper. A memory.

He remembers…

It had been one of Michael’s infamous dinner parties, held this time, for himself, his wife, and his best friend Gabe. Michael was enjoying one of his rare nights off work.

Gabe held his empty glass out to Michael. “Fill it up Mike?” Michael stood and shook his head. “I’ve got something better.” He hurried from the room, his voice carried through from the kitchen. “I’ve been saving this.” Michael’s wife, Peggy rolled her eyes. There was the sound of a cork being popped, a cry of pain, then excited footsteps returning. Michael entered and revealed a bottle with a flourish.

“This, lady and gentleman, is ‘Le Vin Du Chemin Croux’ straight from the darkest depths of France.” He poured them each a glass then raised his high in a toast. “To culture!” He tipped the wine into his mouth and showed his appreciation by gargling and swilling it through his teeth and cheeks. Peggy was appalled. “Don’t you dare spit that out!” Michael quickly swallowed, he watched eagerly as Peggy and Gabe both sipped at their wine. Peggy was the first to speak. “Excellent Michael, it tastes like cider.” Michael laughed. “I’m not joking.” Peggy took another sip and pursed her lips in disgust.

Michael’s mouth fell open. “Do you know how much that cost me?” Peggy’s face darkened and she raised her eyebrows. “How much?” Michael just stood there, he had no words ready to save his neck. His mouth flopped open and then snapped back shut. Peggy shook her head. “Oh just sit back down Michael!”

Michael took his seat and an awkward silence followed. Gabe was the first to find his tongue, he finished his mouthful and leaned over the table towards Michael. “I found you a new track.” Peggy shot Gabe a sly look. “Have you ever heard of The Hollows?”

Michael shook his head and listened intently as Gabe told him of a run that would take him up through the hills and the forests, into the dark heart of nature. It was a run that would take him out through the pines to a place where spirituality and physicality would combine to elevate the human to a heightened awareness of misery and pain. “Some people have reported having visions. Premonitions.” Gabe paused for effect then laughed and leaned back in his chair. “They say they’ve seen the future.” Michael’s eyes lit up. “You’ve got to do it!”

Gabe had eventually left, the moment that the door had closed behind him Michael and Peggy had started to argue. “What are you doing with your life Michael?” Michael couldn’t answer; he didn’t know. “You spent how much?” Michael had sunk deep down into his seat as Peggy’s words washed over and smothered him. “What’s wrong with you?”

That night, as he listened to the endless snores of his wife, Gabe’s words had begun to dance through his mind. The Hollows. It was something new to break up the never ending days of work, something to hold at bay the bitterness that grew inside him like a cancer. The wind in his hair and the air upon his skin, surrounded by nature. Away from the complications of civilisation and technology, how man was made to be.

He sat up and set a reminder on his phone to email Gabe first thing in the morning and then lay back down. When he closed his eyes, he could see his feet hitting the earth, the sunlight through the leaves, the softness of the ground, a darkness in his periphery…

Sleep consumed him.

One week later, he had unleashed his surprise upon Peggy. Once she had eaten the meal he had prepared, drank the wine he had bought, taken the bath he had run, and relaxed from the massage he had given, he had proposed his idea. He had expected some sort of protest, but his well prepared counter argument hadn’t even been needed, she had agreed instantly.

His days became dreams. Before he knew it, Michael was sat in his car speeding away from home, Peggy and Gabe happily waving him off.

He could already feel it, the future lay ahead, it was waiting for him and here he was, head held high, racing to meet it. He had stopped at a hotel that night and spread out on the bed like an angel. A whole bed to himself, it was the best nights sleep he could remember.

In the morning he had handed the key back to the receptionist and for a second their hands had touched and she had looked into his eyes and smiled.

From a perfect moment had been born a perfect memory and it was one he had kept close to him all day. He’d been re-living it; her smile, her eyes, the smallest touch, her brown hair, when his car had suddenly been ripped from the road. There had been a screech of tires, a sudden awful pull of inertia, the shriek of twisting metal, the shattering of glass…

But that was the past.

This is the now.

The rain is subsiding; the skies have finally called a cease-fire. Michael lies in a puddle, his eyes half-open. Water runs into his mouth and rolls down his throat and he chokes. He thrashes for a moment then groggily forces himself up on to his hands and knees. His spine bends painfully as he retches and coughs up the muck from inside of him.

When there is nothing more left within, he stands on legs that shake and with muddy fingers he wipes the dirt from his lips. He lifts his head, blinks and looks around, unsure of where he is. Trees surround him, their branches reach and run and spread like nerve endings across the sky.

As Michael looks around, something in the trees moves, a heavy snort and the scent of stagnation and filth washes over him. Something watches, something dark and ugly and foul. Something that smiles as if it knows what’s to come.

Michael is exhausted but he forces himself to run again. He runs for minutes and he runs for hours. He runs until he can feel it gnawing at his heels, threatening to take him down. He runs until he cannot take another step but he knows that if he falls he will never get back up, and so he runs until his knees burn and his ankles feel as if they will snap. He runs until his lungs ache, and he runs until he cannot breath. He runs because he can’t stop…

He runs until…

The world suddenly opens up before him. Michael digs his heels in as he sees the cliff edge racing closer. He slips and falls and hears the crunch of an ankle but panic holds the pain at bay. His legs slip over the edge but Michael digs his fingers into the ground and momentum pulls him no further. He lies where he is, staring up away from the world. Numb.

The drums…

He sits up, his calves hang over the edge of the cliff, he looks like a child sat on a swing. It was right behind him now, the sound so loud that it was no longer audible. It was just a wall of pressure, pushing and pressing at the flesh of his back.

Michael grit his teeth, the future raced towards him, dirty and loveless and hollow. Michael pushed himself forward. “What’s wrong with you…” A voice from the past. “…what’s wrong…” Michael knew what the future held. “…with you…”

Michael fell.

Naughty or Nice

It was Christmas Eve and snow covered every inch of ground in this nameless town. Flakes piled upon flakes and balanced themselves on slender branches like circus performers.

Tonight the town was happy, tonight the town was asleep. Adults dreamed their perverted dreams and children dreamed their dreams of innocence and toys… but not everyone was sleeping, not tonight.

In a big house on the very edge of town there was one little boy who was still awake. His name was Timmy, and he and his stuffed friend Teddy were currently hiding beneath their bed. The mattress above them was still wet from Timmy’s little accident. That little accident was the reason that he wasn’t calling out for his parents right now, they didn’t like his little accidents at all. Timmy was a big boy and big boys didn’t do that sort of thing. Timmy couldn’t help himself though, not when he had seen that face at the window. That face that was not jolly at all. Not one little bit.

Timmy lay as still as he could and listened to the sounds coming from behind the walls of his room. The creaking and cracking of plasterboard and wood. The breathing and the whispers. Right now, Timmy was more frightened then he had ever been, even more so than that time he had glued Susan’s lips shut. When he’d been waiting at school for his parents to pick him up and take him home and punish him. He’d nearly wet himself then too. He’d been braver that time though, much braver.

Timmy looked deep into Teddy’s eyes.

“I wish that you were big enough to look after me.”

Teddy didn’t answer, Teddy was scared too.

There came a dull thump from the hall outside his bedroom door and Timmy jumped. He was here, that face was inside the house. Floorboards creaked, growing louder and louder. Closer and closer. Then, the creaking stopped and a whisper slipped through the gap below his bedroom door.

“Timmy. Timmy. You’ve been a very bad boy.”

Poor Timmy could only watch as his bedroom door slowly swung open, revealing a pair of big, black, dirty boots. It was all that Timmy could see of the figure but he wished that he could see less. Much less. With Teddy clutched to his chest he slid as far back away from the boots as he could.

He heard a deep laugh.

The boots approached Timmy’s wet bed. A red, bearded face, the eyes hidden behind shadows, came into view. Timmy could only stare and Timmy could only watch as a gloved hand reached out towards him.

Timmy felt his pyjamas grow wet again.

“Merry Christmas, Timmy…”

Out of Signal

“Evening Miss. Taxi for Brittle. Yeah? Get in.”

A moment passes as she gets inside.

“Topper street on the other side of town, yeah? Don’t you worry Miss, I know a short cut. Trust me, it will take us half the time.”

The wheels begin to turn.

“It’s a magical night tonight Miss, full moon and everything.” A pause. “Do you like Shakespeare? I don’t, I never have. I hated him in school. I still hate him now.”

Soft light illuminates the back seat.

“Is that one of those new fancy phones?”

No reply.

“I hope you don’t mind me yapping like this, it’s a bit of a habit, it helps pass the time you see. My wife says I don’t drive a taxi, she says I just drive people round the bend.”

He chuckles.

“It isn’t all I do with my life though. I like magic. You know, card tricks, sleight of hand. Illusions and things. I’d show you a trick now but it’s not the safest thing to do while driving is it? I bet there’s a niche market in there somewhere though? Magical taxi drivers. What do you think?”

Silence.

“Do you believe in magic?”

A car horn,a screech of tires.

“I believe in magic words. Nothing silly like abracadabra or izzy wizzy. Nothing like that. No, I mean magical words, words that can change a situation in seconds. Like… like the very first time you hear someone say ‘I love you’. You know what I mean?”

Silence.

“I hate you… that’s another one, a good one. Powerful words. I believe in those words.”

The wind batters at the car.

“You see this road here, it runs at twice the length as the road through town but it takes half the time. I know of no sat-nav that would tell you that. There’s no traffic you see, no lights either. It’s a fine balance between technology that helps and technology that hinders don’t you think? A very fine line. If we’re not careful, we’ll soon forget how to be people.”

She murmurs something.

“Oh,sorry. I didn’t realise you were on the phone. I get carried away talking sometimes. It’s a habit. Sometimes when I’m alone… oh,sorry.”

The road disappears beneath them.

“You done?”

Their eyes meet in a reflection.

“Don’t worry about the price. Half the time equals half the price. You’ll be able to fit an extra couple of drinks down that scrawny neck of yours…”

A glance, a moment of confusion.

“I said you’ll be able to get a couple more drinks in you.”

Silence.

“Here we are, I like this bit. See that tree there? It’s gone now but that’s where I… oh! I didn’t realise you were on the phone again. Sorry.”

The road is eaten up. The tires rumble on old tarmac. The car slows then stops.

“What’s that you say? Nope, there’s no signal up here. None at all.”

He unfastens his belt and leans into the back of the car.

“That’s why I like it.”