Day 251: A strange girl who hides herself under layers and layers of clothing

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Lisa Matthews walks along Kedleston Road every day at half past six. She is always, come rain or shine, bundled in no less than seven layers, a coat, a jacket, a jumper. Even her legs do not escape this constricting embrace of clothing, with layers of tights and leggings. People who pass her will whisper to one another as though sharing a secret. “How on earth can she be wearing all of that clothing in this heat? Surely she must be boiling!” Yet Lisa never seems to sweat. She will have a thick woollen scarf wrapped around her neck with a matching bobble hat perched atop her head, covering a blonde bob, cut as short as she could manage.

You see, there is a reason that Lisa wears all of these clothes. It isn’t one that any who pass her have come up with yet. She is not mentally ill, she is not medically ill. She has no scars or injuries to hide. Her reason is that she seeks the warmth, wherever it is. In this case, if she has to travel anywhere, she must do so within this warm cocoon, smothering her skin as if forcing it to keep her secret. The answer is really quite simple.

Lisa Matthews is dead.

You see, the dark places are certainly not the inferno of legend. No, the dark places are very cold indeed and yet so very few come back…

The Idiot in Tin Foil

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Day 244: Set your alarm for 3 a.m., wake up, and write the first thing that comes to mind.

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Three o’clock will always be a strange time. It is viewed in one of three ways.

  1. You’re coming in from something. A long drive to visit someone, or a trip away with work. Either way, you are the triumphant warrior, the prodigal son. You have completed your travels and as such return to celebrate your triumph or to commiserate your failings. Either way, three o’clock is the harbinger of sleep, of dreams. Perhaps you are returning from a night of debauchery and entertainment with friends, or returning home from a holiday with your children sleeping peacefully in the back seat of your car. You get back and your sheets welcome you, inviting you to slip between them and drift into rest.
  2. You are leaving for something. Something distant and exciting, something you must travel some distance for. Perhaps it is work, something different from the norm. Perhaps it is a holiday, a treat, a surprise. It can be good or bad, but three o’clock still holds promise. It is excitement, even work, as much as you may disagree with this point when you first encounter it.
  3. Finally, three o’clock is the realm of the insomniac. The man who lays his head against his pillow and finds no respite from the day, simply an acute awareness of the ticking clock. He will observe the flow of time, feel it wash over him and through him, with the occasional check of a phone or a watch to anchor the reality of his situation. Though he knows that outside it is darkness, he cannot find his way into the grips of Morpheus and remains restless and awake.

I suppose it could be said that there is a fourth option. The man who has encountered three o’clock through the urgings of a book, compelling him to set his alarm for this most ungodly of hours and write down whatever thoughts flow from his mind. I must confess, the above is the second thing that came to mind.

The first was quite simple, yet unnecessarily complex in it’s expletives. I have removed them so as not to offend, though three o’clock, it would appear, can work wonders on the imagination when it comes to inventive language.

“Why am I awake?”

So, this isn’t as bad as it first appears. Following my arrival at my hotel earlier, I climbed into bed for a small nap. Four and a half hours later, I awoke. At this point, I decided that this would be the perfect opportunity to write this challenge. Now, if you don’t mind, I will be returning to my dreams. 

My third thought, following my waking up, has given me some ideas though. Hopefully, these will come to fruition in future posts. Stay tuned!

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 242: She was a fat woman whose eating habits were dainty. There was a cheque for $13612 dollars in her purse, not made out to her, but, you know. She was good at figuring these things out. Start with her hair.

Golden ringlets hung lankly around her moonlike face, the housing of a set of thin lips and small, piggy eyes. She reached out with a pudgy hand, sausage fingers grasping for a set of cutlery from the bucket in the centre of the table. She held it, triumphantly, then began to carve her food into smaller and smaller chunks. “A gobbet,” She muttered to herself, “a piece or lump of flesh, food or viscous matter.”

The door to the diner opened and two people walked in. A large man, easily carting around two duffle bags, one black and one grey. Behind him, a diminutive redheaded girl cowered and shuffled through the tables towards her. She eased her bulk from her booth and extended her arms towards the man. “Shark, my boy, how are you?” She flicked a hand dismissively towards the girl. “Have you been playing with your food again?”

He laughed, a belly laugh that rolled around the mostly empty diner. The few remaining patrons didn’t stir, being regulars to this place. They were walking oxymorons, regulars in such a transient spot.But, regulars they were and as such were used to Daisy’s visitors. “Not me, Day. You know I wouldn’t do something like that.”

She tutted. “Yes, the very image of a model criminal. I suppose you want your cheque?”

“At least you know that. $13612, right? Which name did you put it in again? Butch McClean? Carter Harris?”

She laughed, a rich tinkly laugh that was completely at odds with her gluttonous exterior. “No, I went with the old favourite. Topham Hatt. Proceeds to his charitable foundation. All legit, of course.”

“Of course. Now, what should we do with the girl? I’ve got the pickup for Markowitz.”

Daisy looked the redhead up and down. “Ooo, I’ll take her. Don’t you worry, I won’t hurt her. She’ll be waiting for you when you’re back. Now go! Go. Marky doesn’t like being kept waiting now.” Shark gave Daisy a quick hug, looking to all intents and purposes like he’d been possessed by the Devil and forced into the act of intimacy, gave one last look at the redheaded girl, then left. Daisy watched the door, waited for the lights of the Nissan to disappear, then turned to the redhead in a righteous fury. “Right, now he’s gone. Sit your arse at that table and don’t move until I tell you to. You fucking idiot. How did you stumble into this? Four years of work down the drain…”

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 241: The last time you cheated

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I stared at the gorgeous creature in front of me. Blonde hair cascaded down her back and she wore the war paint of her kind, red lips and nails.
“Do you have it?” She asked, holding out her hand expectantly. She looked almost bored, as of she were waiting for something to happen out of the ordinary.

“Yes, yes. Sorry. It’s just…” I stammered, guilt forming a dam in my throat against the words.

“What, you’re cheating? Please, people do it all the time. Now, do you have the cash or not?”

My hands were shaking as I drew the envelope from my jacket pocket. I knew it was wrong but this… I hadn’t been happy for a while. I had to do this, just to get over this hurdle. “Here. Everything you asked for.”

“Marvellous. Shall we begin?”

Hours later, then we were done. She left me alone to ponder what I’d done, struggling with myself.

It was for the best.

It’s immoral.

It’s necessary.

No it isn’t. It’s an easier path that comes at a price.

What if SHE finds out?

She’ll only do that if you tell her.

This carried on until I fell into a dark and tangled sleep.

When I woke in the morning, however, I felt better than I had in a long time. I felt free, ready to fight. Finally, not unsure. All thanks to one minor moral inconsistency.

Besides, after today I wouldn’t have to sit another maths test. I’ll not need someone to give me the answers again.

That makes it okay, right?

A twist that I hope caught some of you out. I’d like to apologise for any issues with this post, it’s been written using my teeny tiny phone buttons in the car park of a service station. Tomorrow, business as usual.

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 230: Going it alone

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“Fine! Screw you! I don’t need you anyway.” I yelled at Warner’s retreating back. “You and your rules and your physical prowess and your survival expertise!” I coughed and spluttered, throwi All Warner did in reply was raise a hand, middle finger stretched into a final word. Then, he was over the crest of the dune and was gone.

I blinked in the sunlight. I didn’t think he’d actually go. We’ve been travelling for weeks together and he’d stuck with me through all of that. We separated from the caravan on day 5. Then Clarissa had died of heatstroke. Marnie ended up being bitten by Agkistrodon Piscivorus. The cottonmouth viper to most other people.

We just kept losing them. One after another, until it was just me and Warner. Him with his expertise. Me with… Well, anxiety and an urge to lash out at things.

Which brings us to today. Brings us to five minutes ago, actually.

“Tully! Will you stop trying to get yourself killed every thirty seconds and work with me?” Warner had yelled. Actually yelled, too, not his usual soft grunt.

“Well, sorry. Not all of us spent years living in the desert because we had no friends.” This wasn’t the first spat we’d had. It was the last.

He punched me in the jaw. “I don’t have any friends because they’re all dead.” He stepped back, staring down at me sprawled on the floor, shaking his hand in surprise. That’s right, I’ve got a really solid jaw. “Now, I’d rather not have a waste of space like yourself joining them, so how about you shut the fuck up and do what I tell you!”

It was the first time I’d seen him snap. He’d been so composed throughout this thing, ever since the crash. But now?

He kicked me in the ribs, breaking at least two of them. “Perhaps if you stopped whining for thirty seconds, I could keep you alive but no! You insist on fighting to die every goddamn second!” He was using kicks as punctuation. It hurt. “You know what, fuck this. Die out here, seeing as it’s what you’re aiming for.”

“Warner…” I tried to get up and he put me right back down.

“Fuck this. And you. I’m done.” He turned around and walked toward the sun.

“Fine!”

That brings us up to now. I’m sat, in a desert, about to die from a variety of interesting ways.

Go me!

The Idiot in Tin Foil

 

 

 

Day 229: Introduce your long-time imaginary friend

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Phil! Come over here and introduce yourself. No, they’re not going to hurt you. No, they’re not going to call you names. Phil, just… Dammit.

Sorry about that. I was trying to get Phil to introduce himself this time but looks like he’s still scared of you all. I don’t know what it is but he runs off, every time.

What do you mean you didn’t see him? He was literally right there, next to where you are. Before he ran away.

He’s always doing that. He stands there like a rabbit in the headlights the second I bring him up, then disappears. It’s insane. I wish I could do it. Be really useful when I talk to some people.

Anyway, had he stuck around, I could have finally introduced him. He looks a lot like me actually, six foot tall, dark hair. Only real difference is confidence. When people are around, he’s the kind of guy who shrinks into the shadows. I swear he does it literally sometimes. I’ll be talking to him, turn around to talk to someone approaching and BAM! he’s gone.

Anyway, I got distracted. So, before he disappeared, that was Phil. He’s pretty cool. Works somewhere up country, most of the time. Then he comes back and it’s as if he never went away.

He’s quick with a joke, our Phil. A good egg, as much as you can find them. God, I wish I was him.

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 226: Your favourite piece of playground equipment

 

pexels-photo (1).jpegThe swings always creak when I sit on them. It’s dark and the drizzle is moving in to ensure that everybody who’d even considered coming out to the park on this dreary day is staying home instead. That suits me though, as it means there won’t be screaming kids around, trying to use the slide by running up it, or trying to make their friends sick on the roundabout.

It used to be that you could relax here, throw yourself into the abandon of childhood but now? As an adult? You are supposed to stay away from these places. It isn’t for you. It’s not your place.

So, I come here when nobody else will. When winter creeps in, the cold and the dark make this place mine again. Makes it my place of solitude.

So, I sit. I let the rain envelop me, feel the cold metal of the swing’s chain against the rough skin of my palms and I get to think. About everything. About all the doors I could have gone through and the ones I chose instead. Here on my swing set, I can choose different doors in my mind and see how they’d have played out. Like if I’d said yes to Captain Samuels instead of walking away.

How different things might have been…

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 223: A scene that takes place in extreme cold

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“This was your genius plan?” I yelled, my voice muffled by the thick scarf over my nose and mouth. “Hide on the fucking ice?” I reached up with my mitts to pull the drawstrings of my hood tighter.

Hodge didn’t even turn around, he just kept trudging forward across the white expanse. My goggles would fog up occasionally as I breathed, heaving breaths that shook my whole body. Trying to get across this place was going to kill me.

“Hodge! Where are we even going?” The thirteen men following us would be far better equipped than we were.

“Somewhere safe.” Two words. Two gruff words that just about made it over the howling winds.

Safety. That was something that had been missing from my life ever since I met Hodge, three weeks ago. We’d met at the Blackfriar’s Pub in London after conversing online. A forum for conspiracy theorists.

Turns out it was less of a theory than we first thought…

The Idiot in Tin Foil

 

Day 216: A man giving a speech to a crowd of thousands is suddenly caught in a barefaced lie.

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“Ladies and gentlemen, boys, girls, everybody watching at home. I come before you today with a vision made real, a true testament to this nation’s great future!” Owens stood on the stage and beamed out at his captive audience. “Together, we can make this nation what it once was, we can rebuild it from the ground up. Now, I’m not talking with invasions, like some former leaders, looking at you, Polkiss. No, I mean by rebuilding infrastructure, industry. Moving funds from the military and into the cities and towns that make this country what it is!” He pulled his black leather gloves tight against his hands and flexed his fingers, then reached up and adjusted his microphone.

A man dressed head to toe in black crossed to him, handing him a manila folder and leaned in to whisper in his ear. Owens pushed him away and handed him a microphone. “Uh, sir?”

“There will be no secrets in this place. Everybody here today will bear witness to what happens. The building blocks of our new land will be transparency, openness. There will be no secrets and there will be no more blood.”

“Are you sure, sir?” The man in black looked shiftily around. “It, uh, well, it uh…”

“Spit it out, man! The nation is waiting.”

Owens would regret those words. As for the man in black, he’d forever be known as the architect of turmoil and strife. He shook his sandy blonde hair and spoke the words that would be remembered forever, captured on a million video feeds and in a million people’s minds.

“The Goropalli opened fire on the protest in Trinity Square. All of the protesters are dead.”

Dangerous business, peaceful takeover of a nation. Less so when you’re going to turn out to be a tyrannical despot anyway. 

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 210: The weekend in St Tropez

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“Alright, gentleman. This is a standard mission. In, bag, tag and then out. There will be no messing around, no distractions,” Carrigan looked pointedly at Huxley, “and most importantly, no showboating. That includes you, Porter.” Chaz Porter smirked.

“None at all, Major?”

“You’re god-damn right. Luther, you’ve got point. We’re coming in from the north of the town, we’re gonna be dropped about four klicks from Pointe de Cemetiere. Then we head south to Rue Cavaillon. Sidearms only, no long guns. They’re already stored landside at the Citadel should we need them.” The Major tucked his pistol into the holster beneath his arm. “Which we should not. Now, we have two days. Any questions you want to get out of the way before we begin?”

The only noise was the wind. With a silent nod, Major Carrigan got back to preparing.

The four man team didn’t speak for the rest of their time on the large vessel. Not a word, just their silent preparations. Huxley lifted the cross from beneath his shirt, placed it against his lips, then tucked it away again.

“Showtime.” He whispered as he descended into the small boat.

The four men and their small boat came slowly to shore, resting against the beach in the long shadows of the morning. Luther jumped out first, dragging it up the beach as the other’s took more time. They had specific equipment, specialist roles whereas Luther was just there to damage things that needed damaging.

Not that the other men weren’t, as the man they were here to see for the weekend was about to find out…

Mysterious hit team versus one house in St Tropez. How’s that one going to go?

The Idiot in Tin Foil