Art Pact 155: Ten Super-Short Scenes
Just one-tenth of the amount of explosive packed around the central support column in the middle of the carpark would have brought the building down, so I wondered what the point of all the excess was. I found the foreman on the top level of flats. He was sitting in a reclining couch, with a metal dustbin on his head. He'd cut a face-shaped hole in the front of it, windowed with cling-film.
"What have you done, Barlough?" I asked, horrified.
"They said I'd amount to nothing," he cried. "But I'm going to be the first astronaut from Kentish Town!"
He leaned closer to me, and I (reflexively) leant away from him. His breath stank of garlic and I could count all the stubby bristles on his chin and cheeks.
"Have you ever seen a fat man do the lambada?" he asked. I shook my head. "Once you've seen a fat man do the lambada," he told me, "you've seen everything."
"I.. I'm not ready to have seen everything," I said. "I've got too much to live for. How about you keep your lambada to yourself and I leave now and forget I ever heard of Nuneaton Municipal Swimming Pool?"
The space monkeys fired their guns, howling with frustration. But I was away - free and clear, and with plenty of time to spare before the bomb went off. Plenty of time.
I checked my watch.
Too much time, in fact. It would be another half an hour before the explosion, and clear of the monkey's death ray blasts I was already getting a little bored. I mean, really, it's space. There's just so much of it and so little to do. I put my foot on the astro-horse's decelerator pad, swung a hard one-eighty, and dived towards the planet again.
"Wenceslas, darling!" I threw himself against his broad shoulders, clinging on so that my auburn hair trailed down his muscled pectorals in great waves like a waterfall toppling over chiseled granite cliffs. "Don't go, I beg of you! Don't leave me here, not with him!" I felt myself start to swoon, and I clutched his cheeks between my hands as if I were a drowning woman clutching at a life-raft. I despaired at the thought of his absence, and a plaintive sob burst forth from my lips.
"Alright, calm down woman," said Wenceslas manfully. "I'm only taking the bins out."
In the forbidden garden of the mysterious museum of the inner circle of Zon, the two hooded monks descended the stone steps of tranquility into the dark rockery on meditation. Their faces were cloaked in shadow, and their bare feet made hardly a whisper as they crossed the sharp gravel.
They halted before an empty rectangle of soil, and one of the monks solemnly lifted his arm and extended a bone finger towards the plot.
"Oh, that!" said the second monk. He shrugged. "Uh, I don't know - isn't it called like the herbaceous border or something? Does that sound right?"
Hutchinson leant over the body, rapt. His tools were laid out in an array by his side: the dusting powder, the collecting bags, tweezers, callipers, and delicate blades. As I stepped around him I could see that he was waving an ultra-violet light slowly back and forth.
"Any news?" I asked. He looked around, surprised, and for a second the light shone directly at my face. Hutchinson turned away quickly.
"Uh, no-" he said. "No news yet." He sounded evasive.
"What aren't you telling me, Hutchinson?" I pressed him.
"Uh..." he said tentatively, "..did you come straight from your date?"
We teetered at the edge of the building, balanced delicately in our struggle. If she pushed just a little harder, I knew, I would go over the edge. I vowed that if I went, I was taking her with me. The expression on her face was stony, and I understood that it was me or her, or both of us. We could not walk away from this moment alive.
"Say it," she said, through clenched teeth. "Say it!"
"Say it!" Her teeth were still pressed together.
Suddenly I knew I wanted to live.
"Fine!" I shouted. "Gottle of Geer!"
Acting with lightning reflexes, Lottie set to work on the computer. Her fingers danced across the keyboard, hammering out a concerto of code. Green letters scrolled across the screen, orange ones sideways.
"Got to hack the firewall before the ICE kicks in," she growled, picking up a can of energy drink and popping the tab with one hand, then tipping it down her throat and slamming it down empty. "Got you you bastard!"
She turned round triumphantly, holding up her hand for a high-five. I looked at the screen. She'd done it - she'd set up Timeline on my Facebook account.
Great tentacles reached out, in my dream, unfolding to the bloody stars that crowded overhead, pressing their lamenting crimson light down onto the defenseless earth. There were alien, threatening songs in those stars, and their wailing music descended to the sleeping havens of man and stirred madness in the ears of all those who heard it. Monsters from the depths rejoiced wildly, and stretched forth terrible sinews to press up from their prisons to where they could wreak awful bloody slaughter on weak humanity.
"What do you think it means?" I asked the dinner lady. She stared at me blankly.
I watch the two of them carefully through the binoculars, counting the money as it changes hands. Ten, twenty, thirty, forty - fifty? I raise my eyebrows, causing the binoculars to jiggle and take the pair out of view for a second. When I find them again, Boltzman is pocketing the five ten-p coins. Doppler, clearly new at this, looks around nervously, which makes Boltzman laugh. He punches Doppler lightly on the shoulder, then reaches into the inside of his coat. When his hand emerges again, it is holding the pear drop.
"All units move in," I say into my radio.