Help

April started to run.

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The terrible scream pierced the cool evening air. April started to run, hoping against hope that she could help. That was the second or possibly third time in relatively quick succession that she’d heard the man wailing for help and it sounded urgent. Her pulse raced as she did, the two of them fighting to be the first to reach the source of the horrible noise. Then she saw him.

“Are you alright?” April panted, “Do you need an ambulance?” The man was slumped up against the wall of a darkened office building and was clearly having difficulty breathing. He gasped rapidly for short, sharp mouthfuls of air while his right hand grasped at his heart. He shook his head violently. “Well what can I do?” She pleaded. “What symptoms are you having?”

The man weakly started to raise and lower his hand quickly above his heart. “Increased heart rate?” He nodded furiously. April almost thought that she saw a thin smile flash across his white lips. “Good! That’s good! What else?”

The man pointed to his mouth and started to exaggerate his rapid breathing even more. “Shortness of breath?” She guessed correctly. He nodded again and gave a thumbs up. “Anything else?”

The man’s demeanour abruptly changed as April finished her question. His breathing slowed dramatically and the grip on his chest loosened. “And a severe vitamin U deficiency.” He winked. “What music are you into? Well don’t go…” April broke into a jog. “My name’s Dave, what’s yours?” He called after her as she disappeared around the corner of the office building. She didn’t reply.

The terrible scream pierced the cool evening air. May started to run, hoping against hope that she could help.

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The Perks Of Being Human

Another poem.

The perks of being human seem plentiful on the face,

We’ve brains and thumbs and no-one eating us. It’s pretty great.

Intelligence breeds empathy, science and philosophy,

Dexterity’s brought tools, precision grip and origami.

Our lack of natural predators has allowed us all to thrive,

So if you add up all these virtues, it’s no wonder we’ve survived.

But is it though? Just think on that. Are humans really best?

Have we used all these advantages to rise above the rest?

Our smarts seem only to have made us sneaky and conniving,

And we’ll step right over others if we know it means surviving.

Our thumbs were first militarised millennia ago,

We use tools and guns to wipe out habitats and people both.

It’s sad to think in some parallel World we’ve done no damage.

The ice caps are all fine and rainforests haven’t been savaged.

And in that World the only difference you or I can reason,

Is that humans still are thick, four fingered apes that might get eaten.

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Walt Awakens

“You’ve been cryogenically frozen for almost 1500 years, Mr Disney.”

“What… What year is it?” Muttered Walt, his bleary eyes adjusting to the bright laboratory lights.

“3462.” Came the curt reply. A wide smile broke across Walt’s face. It’d worked. It’d actually worked. “You’ve been cryogenically frozen for almost 1500 years, Mr Disney.”

As his blurry visions were slowly brought into sharper focus, Walt stepped out weakly from the tube that he’d called home for almost a Millennium and a half. He looked around the lab, marvelling at all of the incredible, unthinkable equipment that surrounded him, like props from a work of science fiction. His head swum as he looked from impossible contraption to impossible contraption, jaw agape as they blinked and hummed and hovered and glowed in sequence. They’d done it. They’d actually brought him back.

Walt’s heart hammered in his chest. What had he missed? What remarkable feats and developments had been made? What strides had his species taken, while he had lain in a state of suspended animation? He beamed in turn at each of the scientists gathered around him. What would they teach him? What would they show him? What… Wh… Why did they look so angry?

Walt’s smile began to fade. Poor Walt. He wasn’t to know of course that in the late thirtieth century, after thousands of years of War, argument and debate, Judaism had finally been confirmed as the one true religion and had subsequently been adopted across the Earth and throughout the off-world colonies that littered the Galaxy. He wasn’t to know.

It was at this point that Walt started to really ponder the functions of all of these futuristic machines surrounding him. He also started to wonder why he had been awakened in the first place. More to the point, did he even want to know?

Probably not, he decided.

The gang of scientists really fucked him up. I mean they really fucked him up. Probably serves him right though, doesn’t it.

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The Chaos Of Dom – Part Eight (Finale)

The End

Start from the start with part 1

< Part Seven

“You stink, mate.” Said Neil.

“Yup.” Dom agreed. “I’ll quit eventually.” He placed his cigarettes down onto the table next to his pint as he sat back down. “Can barely afford it anymore anyway.”

“What’s the pay like at your place?” Asked Neil, before raising the pint glass back into its default state.

“About as bad as it is legally allowed to be.” Dom replied, before following suit. There was a short silence while they drank, before he continued: “But it’s OK. I have a backup plan. A secondary income.” Neil lowered his pint, clearly intrigued, then raised it again as Dom pulled the £1 scratcher out of his back pocket. “I’m about to be a hundred-thousand-aire, mate. Got a coin?” Neil once again raised his fist and showed him a thumbs down.

Dom had forgotten just how often Neil gave this kind of response. If he had a pint in front of him, which he did more often than not, conversation was very much a secondary priority. Thumbs down was his most frequently used signal, then thumbs up. Then of course there was the middle finger. A classic. Those three tended to cover the bases.

Then Neil did lower his pint. “Ask one of them”, he grinned, gesturing towards a group of girls sat at the next table. Dom grinned too. As if.

“You ask them.” He replied, sounding slightly too casual.

“Last to finish their pint asks them.” Said Neil.

“Well that is clearly not a fair contest.” Dom laughed. “You’ve got a massive head-start on me.” It was true. Neil had basically inhaled most of his beer while Dom had only drunk about a third of his pint. Neil thought for a moment, then replied.

“You start supping, then I’ll join in once we’re level.” He reasoned. Shit, that did sound fair. Neil would definitely still win though.

Dom started to down the two thirds of a pint he had left, with Neil watching on carefully. Then, when the amounts of beer left looked pretty much identical, Neil lifted his glass once more and downed his. He downed it very quickly indeed. Much, much quicker than Dom.

Dom swallowed the last of his beer and disappointedly banged his glass back down onto the mat. “Fine.” He muttered, as Neil beamed. He turned to look at the group of girls. There were four of them sat around the table: The blonde on the left sat holding what he assumed was a gin and tonic. On the far side was a girl with red hair, who’d barely touched her coke, or rum and coke or whatever it was. This was in contrast to a second blonde on the right side of the table, who had almost finished her… Probably rum and coke too. Dom wasn’t sure. The fourth girl was sat closest to him facing the other way, so he couldn’t see what she looked like. He could just see her long, wavy brown hair that flowed down the back or her head and disappeared behind the back of the chair.

Dom mustered all of his courage. He hated this type of situation. He braced himself to be laughed out of the pub or humiliated in some other way. “Excuse me”, he ventured, voice trembling. The three girls that he’d already clocked looked abruptly towards him, their faces impossible to read. He’d interrupted a conversation. He momentarily wondered whether they’d be annoyed. But then she turned around.

Dom knew instantly that he was in trouble. The fourth girl was impossibly beautiful, with her deep brown eyes that perfectly matched the shade of her long, flowing hair, her delicate nose, her soft pink lips. He was painfully and almost certainly irreversibly infected by her. He’d already forgotten that he was supposed to ask for a coin for the scratcher. But then she delivered the finishing blow. She smiled.

Dom knew then that he was done for. That smile. That smile that seemed to bring the entire room into sharper focus. That smile that seemed to make the colours around her become brighter and more saturated. She didn’t so much have a face that would launch a thousand ships, but a face that could and should start a global nuclear conflict. A face that given the chance, Dom himself would start a global nuclear conflict for without hesitation.

Dom suddenly made a number of realisations. He realised that his jaw was hanging open and had been for a number of seconds. He realised that he was supposed to ask her something. Something to do with words. He realised that he had forgotten what words were.

Dom realised that the best he could do at this moment, his best chance of not messing this up was to smile back and hope for the best.

So that’s what he did.

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Epilogue

I could probably say that Dom and the girl ended up together. That he said something funny and she threw her head back and laughed. That they dated, fell in love, got married and moved to that small rural cottage somewhere far away. That they cooked together, started a family together, were happy together and spammed all of their Facebook friends with pictures of their many healthy children.

I could say that Dom quit smoking and then his job, throwing it in Mary Jane’s face as dramatically as he’d always dreamed and that Sabrina had stood and applauded, tears streaming down her face as he walked out of the “Computer Guys!” building for the final time. That Dom and Homeless John won big on their scratchers, or that Neil got himself a job, whether with Dom’s former employers or not and was then the best man at the wedding, floppy blonde mop reinstated and hanging lazily over his eyes as he handed them the rings.

But does it matter?

None of that is the point. The point is that none of this, not Dom and the girl meeting, not he and Neil reconnecting, not one part of the story so far and not one of those possible future outcomes would have happened or for the most part even been possible were it not for that fire alarm. Those drunken arse holes that set off the fire alarm and in doing so set in motion a chain of events that lead us here and beyond. At three in the morning. As a prank. A funny, funny, hilarious, funny one at that.

And who’s to say that it was even them? Maybe I set off the fire alarm. Maybe you did. Maybe it was Johnny Bravo or a hawk that swooped in through an open window. None of it matters. We all set off fire alarms every day. We all do things that spiral off in different directions through the people around us, setting off chains of consequences that are perfectly and gloriously impossible to predict.

That’s the beauty of chaos.

And that’s the chaos of Dom.

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The Chaos Of Dom – Part Seven

The Scratcher

Start from the start with part 1

< Part Six

Dom stepped aboard the number one bus. It was emptier than usual, to the point where he could actually get a seat on his way to work. Wouldn’t this be a luxury, he thought. His Majesty wouldn’t be standing this morning. Nor would he be swaying and bouncing as the bus creaked around corners, no Sir. Dom usually got on the number one bus at about 7:20am, but considering the events of the last couple of days, he’d decided to get in early today. Maybe he’d try to have a friendly pre-work chat with Graham before his shift started, or maybe it’d be enough that he was there early, showing willing even on a Friday morning. That’d get him back in Graham’s good books and at least make his horrible job slightly more bearable. That’s why Dom boarded the nearly empty bus at 6:50am.

Once the driver had scanned the ticket that Dom showed her on his phone, the doors closed and the bus pulled away from the pavement, leaving Dom to do his Bambi impression, walking shakily down the central aisle of the bus as it stuttered and rumbled along the road. He took the first seat behind the “Priority” ones. He felt uncomfortable taking the priority ones, especially when there were others available. For similar reasons he’d never followed the example of his colleagues at work in using the disabled toilets. Dom was a decent person in this regard.

As he sat, he noticed a scratch card on the window seat next to him. Dom had only bought about two scratchers in his life, partly because he wasn’t that interested in gambling, aside from the odd quid on a football match he was watching and partly because he never had any coins on him. Yes he could scratch them with his fingernail, but then your nail goes a different colour and gets all of the top layer gunk under it. Dom wasn’t a fan.

He picked up the scratcher on the off chance that he’d stumbled across a winner. He hadn’t. All of the scratching had been completed by its previous owner, revealing the symbols and numbers beneath. There were a few symbols that repeated twice, but none that repeated three times, as was the win condition described under the panel. Dom folded the scratcher up and pocketed it. He was also a decent person in regard to the fact that he didn’t litter, unlike the scratch card’s original owner.

When Dom disembarked on Sovereign Street half an hour later, he was greeted by the familiar croaky voice of Homeless John. “Spare any change, Sir?”

“Sorry mate,” came the sympathetic reply in their daily game of call and response. But then Dom stopped in his tracks and after a moment of deliberation, turned ninety degrees and marched into an off license behind Homeless John. Dom went straight to the counter and bought two £1 scratchers with his debit card. One for him and one for Homeless John. One Hundred Thousand Pound Jackpot! The front of the scratch cards boasted. If you say so, he thought.

Dom stepped out of the off license and handed one of the scratchers to Homeless John. “Here you are, mate.” He said. “Good luck.” Homeless John took the gift silently before looking up at Dom.

“Got a coin to scratch it with?” He asked.

“Uh, no. Sorry mate.” Came the sympathetic reply. Homeless John gave him a weak smile, showing a few yellow teeth and nodded in thanks as Dom walked on towards the “Computer Guys!” building.

Just as he had the day before, Mary Jane clocked Dom as soon as he arrived on the second floor and just as he had the day before, he dragged him straight into a meeting room. Initially, Dom wondered what he’d done to earn a second red-faced one-sided screaming match in such quick succession, but was surprised to find that Graham wanted to apologise.

Dom wasn’t to know, but Graham had received a bit of an earful himself from his floor manager, who had told him that if someone would rather drink away their day than go to work, odds are there’s something wrong and it was Graham’s job to find out what that was. Was Dom depressed? Was he stressed? Like actually medically suffering from stress? Had there been a bereavement that they should take into consideration? Yes, Graham had received quite a bollocking, so he pulled Dom into a meeting room and apologised.

After assuring Graham whole-heartedly that he was not suffering from depression or stress, not that a doctor had verified anyway, nor had there been a bereavement, he headed for the door. “Go get ‘em, tiger.” Said Graham, hilariously straight faced. Dom had his back to his team leader, so allowed himself a quick smirk.

From there, Dom’s day got better and better. The customers that phoned him were polite and cordial, allowing him to build a rapport and even… Dare he even think it… Have fun helping them? He was happy. He was confident. He was in a great mood. A fantastic mood, even. So when Dom received a text from Neil at lunchtime, enquiring about his availability for a few cheeky after-work pints, Dom’s answer was an enthusiastic yes.

Thank fuck it was Friday.

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Part Eight (Finale) >

The Chaos Of Dom – Part Six

The Discipline

Start from the start with part 1

< Part Five

“Spare any change, Sir?” Asked the hoarse voice of Homeless John as Dom came within earshot. Homeless John was, as you might expect, a homeless man that frequented the hundred yard stretch of Sovereign Street between the bus stop where John would alight each morning and his work building. Because of this, he was pretty well known amongst Dom and his colleagues.

“Sorry mate”, Dom replied sympathetically, as he had pretty much every morning for the last two years. Dom wasn’t against giving Homeless John money. He knew he wasn’t an addict or anything that’d blow all his takings on heroine. Dom just practically never had any change to give. He didn’t see the point in this day and age, when you can use contactless cards pretty much everywhere. He’d suggested to Homeless John that he invest in a contactless card reader about a year ago, but received a blank stare in reply, so had quickly dropped the idea. He sometimes bought Homeless John a drink or something to eat when he asked, but he was barely ever able to give him change.

Dom estimated that his heart was beating at twice its usual rate as he stepped through the revolving door of the “Computer Guys!” building. He walked past reception, through the foyer, held his lanyard to the sensor to get past the metal barrier and pressed the lifts’ call button. He pressed it just the once as he was in no rush to get up to the second floor and see Graham.

The man was pure evil, Dom thought as he stepped into the lift. Graham had stared at him in the pub the day before for just long enough to make sure that Dom saw him see him, but then turned around and started laughing and joking with his cohorts, acting as if nothing had happened. Dom pressed the small circular button emblazoned with the number two. But that was why he was so certain that Graham was pure evil. He’d obviously wanted Dom to stew on this all through the previous afternoon, evening, night and now this morning too. He’d obviously wanted him to imagine all of the possible consequences that could result from having been caught partaking in a crafty lunchtime pint when he was meant to be ill.

Dom had considered quitting on the spot. He’d imagined it over and over since yesterday: He would’ve marched over to Graham, who would’ve looked so shocked as he watched his plan to rattle Dom backfire and Dom would’ve said: “Graham, I quit. Fuck your job. Give it to this lad here.” He would’ve gestured to Neil at this point. “He needs it. He’s desperate. But I am so sick of your shit. I’m fed up of that depressing hole we all pile into every day, getting shouted at down the phone just because we work for such a ridiculous little joke of a company. And what do you do to earn your wage? Sit on your arse down the pub, laughing with your little friends over the fact that you made Sabrina cry again, you pathetic little wanker.”

It would’ve felt good. Very good. Dom especially liked the bit at the end about Sabrina. He didn’t really give a shit about Sabrina and didn’t know her at all, but Graham did shout at her until she cried on quite a regular basis because of, as far as Dom could tell, her tendency to be a decent person and help the customers who phoned up instead of pushing them towards the sales team, so it seemed like good ammunition. But Dom had chickened out. He’d bottled it. He’d supped up, told Neil that he had to go for some non-specific reason and they’d swapped numbers. Then he’d walked right out of the pub and spent the rest of the day imagining all the things he would’ve said to Graham if he’d had the balls.

Graham did indeed bring Dom straight into a meeting room upon his arrival on the second floor and subjected him to one of his patented red-faced, one-sided screaming matches. Dom just tuned out though. He’d figured out that this type of employee discipline gets less and less effective as you get less and less invested in the job that you’re actually doing and Dom was currently about as uninvested as an employee could be.

In appearance, Graham reminded Dom of Doctor Phil from one of those American TV shows. He was middle aged, practically bald but clung desperately to the little hair he did have around the back and sides of his head, which seemed to cling to him just as desperately. He even had the little greying moustache. Dom had to stop himself from thinking about this comparison while he was receiving such a earful, as if he let the thought enter his mind he was in very real danger of interrupting Graham’s shouting with a fit of uncontrollable giggles.

Once Graham gave the telltale sign of wrapping up his rant, Dom knew he was in the clear. Each and every time he had a member of the team in here he would sigh, run his fingers through an imaginary head of hair, then place both hands on the table in front of him and lean forwards towards you. “Just sort it out.” He’d say quietly, then he’d wait for you to start heading for the door before adding, for no discernible reason, “Go get ‘em, Tiger.”

The first time Dom heard him say this, he’d thought it was a joke. He’d turned and laughed, thinking Graham was lightening the mood with a quick joke to raise his spirits before heading back to work. The look on Graham’s face that time had said it all though: Surprise, confusion with a hint of anger. For this reason, his nickname among the team, when his back was turned of course, was Mary Jane.

Dom checked his phone after leaving the meeting room to see that he’d received a text from Neil, saying to let him know the next time he fancies a pint. Dom raised his eyebrows. Today could have started a lot worse.

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Part Seven >

The Chaos Of Dom – Part Five

The Pint

Start from the start with part 1

< Part Four

“How’ve you been then?” Asked Neil, before lifting his pint and beginning to drink.

“Yeah, fine.” Dom lied reflexively. “You?” Neil, still gulping down his ale, raised his fist and gave Dom a thumbs down. Neil looked much more familiar with half his face covered by a pint glass. Dom took a swig of his beer too.

“Shit.” Gasped Neil, finally stopping for breath. “3 months unemployed.” He started to drink again. Dom winced. That was shit. And also probably explained why Neil was available for a pint at lunchtime on a Wednesday. Dom felt a pang of guilt for sacking off his own job for the day after… Why was it? Sleeping in and getting wet? He took another swig.

Neil could handle his alcohol. He had always been the first one to suggest a trip to the pub or a few clubs and once those trips had inevitably happened, he had always been the last one standing. He was a big bloke. Not particularly overweight, just very broad and quite stocky. Yes he’d put on a bit of weight since uni, but hadn’t they all. Neil’s face was rounded and usually quite red and he had a mop of blonde hair that hung lazily down over his eyes. Or he used to. It seemed that the mop had fallen foul of an electric razor since Dom had last seen him.

It was a shame. The blonde mop, combined with Neil’s large frame, had used to remind Dom of a cartoon show he used to watch when he was little about a couple of dogs. One was big and quite slow, with hair that came down over his eyes and the other other was small, skinny and excitable. Dom used to suppose that the other dog was him, although he was no longer quite as skinny or as excitable as he had been back then. They had been a bit of a double act back in uni actually. The thought made Dom quite sad, so he took another swig of beer.

With Neil still unable to talk due to the almost empty pint glass he still held to his lips, Dom considered mentioning the loss of the mop, but as he absent mindedly glanced towards the bar, he saw something that made his heart stop. There, sat on a bar stool, was Graham. He was sat with a couple of team leaders that Dom recognised from the office and although they seemed to be in the middle of a light hearted conversation, he could tell that Graham wasn’t paying all that much attention to his colleagues.

Dom could tell this because Graham was staring directly at him.

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Part Six >