Roles and responsibilities 

As soon as Andy walked in the office, he knew there was going to be trouble. It wasn’t so much that Sarah was hunched over her desk with an unhealthy looking sheen on her face, but more the luminous green glow permeating the ceiling above her.

Andy backed towards the door. How many ‘duvet days’ had he banked? Perhaps he could work off-site for a while, at least until someone else showed up. Breakout?

Just then Leanne clocked him.

“Oh, hi Andy. Do you know what’s happening with this?” she asked, gesturing towards the ceiling. “I’m supposed to be interviewing clients today. It’s not a great look.”

“Sure,” said Andy, nodding emphatically. “Obviously, it’s not something I’m able to deal with. Have you reported it to anyone?”

Leanne blinked rapidly. “I’ve got enquiries coming out of my ears.”

Sure you have, thought Andy. There’s plenty of space between them, after all.

Andy switched on his computer  and glanced at the clock. 9.15. Surely someone else would be in soon.

“Any idea what started it?”

“Well, there was a bang on the roof earlier. I thought it was probably one of those mental seagulls doing a kamikaze.” Leanne gave a screech and looked over at Sarah, but her glazed eyes didn’t appear to register anything.

Andy was watching the loading symbol circling round and round when Sarah’s head hit the desk. Meanwhile, the green glow took on a deeper colour and the wall began to droop like an undercooked pizza.

“Oh my god!” yelped Leanne. “Andy, do something! “

“I’m still waiting for it to log on,”he replied, spreading his fingers in earnest.

“Surely, there’s a procedure for this kind of thing, isn’t there?”

“You’d think so.”

Andy felt the sweat bead at his forehead. Was there? It wasn’t like anybody actually read the paperwork.

The computer uttered a soft tone and the desktop finally appeared. Andy pulled his seat in.

“I’ll email head office.”

There was a crack followed by a shower of plaster as the ceiling came down around Sarah’s desk. Through the hole Andy could see the edge of what looked like a spaceship. Beside it stood a dark grey figure holding a weapon that was firing out luminous green rays.

Leanne waved her hand about at the dust. “This is outrageous! How can they expect me to work in these conditions?”

“I know, it’s unbelievable,” agreed Andy. “I’ll copy in all managers. There’s been no training for this whatsoever.”

The door opened. Tracey walked in.

“Hi everyone, how are…oh my god!”

“Tracey!” said Andy. “You’ve been on the first aid course, haven’t you?”

Tracey flinched. “Er, yeah, but…I mean…we weren’t trained how to deal with…this.”

“We appreciate that,” said Andy, “but as you can see, this is quite serious. If you’re able to do something…”

“Have you called the emergency services?”

“I’m up to my eyeballs.”

“Surely, we need to call them?”

“Okay, do you want to do it? Obviously, you’re more qualified than I am.”

Tracy’s eyes narrowed. “I haven’t been here so I don’t know what’s going on. It’s better if you call.”

“I’m going to take flexi,” announced Leanne, packing up her things. “What are they going to do – fire me?” As she stood up, the alien fired its weapon at Leanne and she collapsed to the floor.

Andy picked up the phone and dialled 999.

“Hello, which service do you require?” asked the operator.

“Er, well, I’m not sure.”

“Okay, what’s happened?”

Well…it looks like we’re being attacked by aliens.”

There was a pause. “Right, well I can send all three, but just so you’re aware, there is now a charge for any unnecessary callout in line with recent policy changes.”

Andy rapped his fingers on the desk. “Let me call you back.”

“What did they say?” asked Tracey.

“There could be charges involved.” Andy sat back in his chair. “I’m sorry, but I’m not going to be responsible for incurring extra costs. Surely, that’s for management to decide.”

“Yep, absolutely,” agreed Tracey.

Andy began tapping away at the keyboard. “Dear all, we had an incident today in which I was required…”

The alien swept it’s ray gun across the office, this time towards Andy. On any other day he might have been worried, but there was nothing in his job description about dealing with alien invasions. That was one document he had been sure to read. Clearly, someone was going to get in the neck and it sure as hell wasn’t going to be him.

After dark

008

 

I took this picture after work while I was wandering the sidestreets of town, putting off the dreary bus ride home.
There’s definitely a scenario in there somewhere…what have you got?

Beneath a concrete sky

“Maybe we should call the police.”

Steve shuffled down the steep incline, heart pumping while a river churned black below.

“I just want to see.”

He reached the gravel bank and looked carefully about. Up ahead, the canal swerved between graffiti covered columns, meeting with a shaft of sunlight that found its way beneath the concrete sky.

It fell just short of a figure that was slumped on the floor.

Josh said something else, but the sound didn’t penetrate. Steve’s mind was racing, in competition with his heartbeat. He took a step in the dirt.

Written for The Drabble.

Why

 

file1331246481918

 

“Why?” screams Charlie. “Why?” His little voice wavers into falsetto tones as he swings his bag against a parked car.
“Because I already bought you one, now come on!” She senses eyes on her, but they’re nothing new, like a lifetime of mosquitoes.

Charlie’s wailing seems to take the capacity out of his legs, so she drags his flaying body along behind the pushchair. Meanwhile, Hayley starts to mimic her brother and the noise jabs. “Shutup, both of you!”

The sun is heating up the hard ground and sweat breaks out in the creases of her body. Strangely, the chorus of yelling from behind the gates is a comfort, absorbing her own wretched voice. She watches Charlie traipse into the melee of children with a gaze that’s already fading.

Back home, busted toys and unopened bills pave the way to the kitchen. She finds a half-pack and lights one up, sucking hard at it like its fresh air while she checks her phone for anything. In the background, Hayley is screeching again, but its her own whys that reverberate the loudest against the flaking walls.

Off-peak

 Hi, honey.

Yes, there is some wildlife, in a sense.

No, but I’m sure they’d fill it up if we asked them.

Well, it’s difficult to see past the road, but I bet there’s some lovely walks around.

I know it’s in the middle of nowhere. I thought that was the idea.

Look, I think you’re over reacting.

Well, I’ve booked it now.

Don’t call me that.

So, what am I going to do; stay here on my own?

I see.

Q+A

How’s your dad?
He’s telling me how good he feels, before I’ve even got in the door. He’s saying how he’s been out in the garden digging up the Gunnera. He’s saying how he has a few aches and pains, but nothing too serious and then he’s patting my mum on the back when she tells him to stop talking about himself all the time.

How’s your dad?
He’s playing us another track by Iggy Pop as he drives us to the restaurant. He’s turning it up loud and we’re sitting there, giving in.

How’s your dad?
He’s making me laugh. He’s coming out with things that would earn anyone else a slap. He’s saying he can’t help it. My mum is rolling her eyes, but even she’s smiling.

How’s your dad? He’s telling this woman that he should have gone months ago. He’s saying how important it is to count your blessings and how grateful he is to still be able to get around. He’s telling her he’s got tumours everywhere. He’s not stopping.

How’s your dad?
He’s in pain all of a sudden. He’s asking if we can go and we are waving to the waitress for the bill. He’s pacing around now, over to the fire exit and back, trying to take his mind off of it. The waitress isn’t coming.

How’s your dad?
He’s lying down. We had to go to the emergency pharmacist to get him some Diazepam. We’re in the kitchen drinking herbal tea and mum’s trying to hide the red rings around her eyes.

How’s your dad?
He’s complaining that the eggs my mum cooked aren’t right. He’s refusing to eat. He’s in one of those moods.

How’s your dad?
He’s sitting in the old cane chair in the garage. Smoke is wafting around him. He’s making one of his lists that never gets done.

How’s your dad?
He’s going on a shamanic journey with the next door neighbour. He met his spirit guide who came to him in the form of a crow. He’s hoping to meet again for some kind of conversation. He’s moving to the next level.

How’s your dad?
He’s dressed up for a party nextdoor. He’s wearing the orange and blue trousers that he wore to see Iggy. He reckons the chemo is working.

How’s your dad?
He’s talking about the blackbirds again. He thinks it’s the same one that always comes up the garden path to greet him. He reckons the bees are on his wavelength too.

How’s your dad?
He’s spent the day on the sofa. He’s talking quietly with his eyes closed and grunting as he moves the hot water bottle round to a new ache. He’s nodded off.

How’s your dad?
He’s feeling weak. His face has turned yellow. He’s in these pyjamas that show off his stick-thin legs. He’s discussing personal arrangements with the nurse. He’s holding my hand very tight.

How’s your dad?
He’s alright now.

I wrote bits of this while my dad was ill. It’s just over a year ago that he passed away, so I thought I would put it out there.