Another (untitled) old one…

There have been a few posts of old written pieces from my teenage years, and this is another one. I’ve thankfully been able to recover the long-deleted files from my dinosaur of a laptop, so this may become a frequent occurrence as I go through it and decide which pieces are sharable and which are too terrible, strange or ridiculous. This is a pretty boring one, but it can only be more boring sitting on a hard drive. The last edit was made on 21st September 2010, when I was 15 years old, so there’s no real excuse for the shoddy writing style, but there’s something stopping me from making any changes to it.

There is no title. There is no context. There is no actual plot to it.


Mary tugged her brother’s sleeve, but got no reply. He stared into the distance, motionless and fearful. Mary tugged again, and again, harder this time.

“William?” she repeated. “What is it William? What’s out there?” Her voice sounded shaky and helpless as tears filled her young, innocent eyes and her hand slipped out of its grasp on William’s cuff.

“It’s an aeroplane, Mary,” William managed to squeeze the words between his lips, which were reluctant to make a sound.

“Where’s David, William?” Mary asks again. “Is he at the aeroplane?”

William didn’t listen to his sister’s rambling questions that in all honesty didn’t make any sense.

“Shush, Mary,” William whispered. “Or the aeroplane will come here.”

Mary’s eyes opened wide, but William didn’t notice. Outside the sky was black other than the odd orange glow that flashed every now and then. The city tried to hide from the inevitable, making no sound or light other than the cry of each terrified child, questioning everything with no understanding.

William still stood completely still, silently praying for his brother and parents. He closed his eyes but there was no effect, as the sun would not be able to reach the inside of the walls even if it wasn’t half past one in the morning.

Mary suddenly began to cry noisily and William held her closely. He held his breath and squeezed his eyelids as closely together as they could manage, his whole face becoming distorted and wrinkled. Mary mumbled to herself but nobody could hear her over the noise.

That moment seemed to last forever, William’s face and Mary’s muttering, and the incredible din that didn’t seem to pass.

Mary was scared and confused, not sure what on earth was happening, why it was happening and who made it happen. Images rushed through her head of witches and broomsticks, her innocent mind not allowing her to imagine the outside world.

“I want to see the aeroplane,” Mary called, only just about loud enough to be heard. “Because I want to prove it isn’t a witch.”

She pulled away from William and ran towards the door, her arms out in front of her. When she finally reached the wall she ran her hands along it until she found the door handle. William was calling out to her as loudly as he safely could but Mary ignored him and grasped the handle in her right hand and turning it.

The door creaked open slowly and as it did so, Mary squinted with the light and covered her ears.

“What’s that William? What is it? Is that an aeroplane, too?” Mary shouts over the noise.

William jumped across the space towards the door in a single motion, his arms stretched out forward as far as they could reach.

Mary watched him, suddenly startled. One of her arms was still in the path of the door, and she was well aware of the fact. She removed her hands from her ears and screamed, jumping out of the doorframe just before William’s bodyweight caused the door to crash to a shut.

Mary looked around, almost blinded by the pure white light that flashed around her. Her ears rang; the noise was so loud she couldn’t hear it. Mary seemed to jump before landing face down in the grass, tears soon streaming from her eyes and into the safety of the earth.

The door slammed shut behind her with the impact of the explosion. William turned the handle and pushed on the door but the impact had pushed it further in on itself, the hinges bending in such a way that they were unable to swing freely.

Mary was lying on the floor, shaking with fear. She kept her eyes closed and her hands over her ears, gently humming to herself, hoping the ‘aeroplane’ would just go away. Mary’s long, dark hair covered her head and part of her back, matted into a lot of tiny knots. One of her socks was torn, with a large hole the size of a golf ball on the underside of Mary’s foot. Her other sock was still in tact, hidden under her brown leather shoe.

Suddenly the noise seemed to calm down, and everything lay still. Mary sat up slowly and looked around at the town she had always felt secure in. Streetlamps had fallen over and windows had smashed. The only area that seemed remotely useable was the road in which Mary was now situated.

Mary’s innocent, dark eyes scanned the area rapidly as her immature imagination tried to think up an explanation for such devastation.

In the distance the sun began to rise, casting an orange glow over the city. Mary suddenly felt scared again, but this was a different type of orange glow than before.

Theft Day

I can still replay it in my mind, the day everything changed. To this day I can recall the chill of the air combined with the fire in Danny’s eyes, and the rush of anxiety we prayed we could supress. As I go about the life I so desperately endeavoured, I wonder whether the overwhelming burning that comes with the memory is that of regret, guilt or pride. In many ways, we succeeded that day. Danny called it Theft Day.

It was summer, one of the hottest I’d ever lived through, when we came up with the idea over a meal limited in nutrition accompanied with watered down lager and leftover juice frozen into blocks. Neither of us usually spoke at home. We rarely had anything to say to each other – after over a decade of living with each other’s company whilst sharing mundane experiences, our list of topics of conversation wore thin. Even the things that perhaps were of interest we didn’t talk about, we pretended they didn’t exist. What went on within our four walls was witnessed by both of us, what went on outside we’d rather ignore. Danny ate his food with some haste, staring at a blank wall with a look of frustration and anger on his face. His mouth moved as if talking while he ate, his expression like none I’d seen before. His fist struck the table with such force that I jumped to my feet, my chair crashing down to the floor behind me.

“Why did you do that?” I gasped, my heart pounding.

“I’ve got it,” Danny muttered, his eyes remaining fixed on the wall. “I’ve finally got it. You trust me don’t you Chris?”

I nodded slowly, frozen to the spot. That was when we planned Danny’s Theft Day. He had solutions for every problem I threw back at him as I desperately sought a reason why it shouldn’t go ahead, but eventually, we shook on it. I went to bed that night sick with anticipation and a flood of thoughts racing through my mind, bombarding each of my senses with the deepest sense of unexplainable emotion. I knew it could only go one of two ways, and either way, this was my last night in the small room that Danny and I had called home for the last twelve years.

I awoke early to the familiar sound of Danny’s alarm clock, the high-pitched sound ricocheting against the walls and into my ears. Danny still snored, his arm hanging over the front of the sofa with his fingers not quite reaching the pen from which he had adroitly drafted plans and sketches of his fantasy that lay peacefully on the remains of the carpet. Slowly beginning to decipher my thoughts, differentiating between my haunting dreams and unexplainable conscious thoughts of what was to come, I dragged my limp body up from the mattress and over to Danny.

“Wake up, D,” I called, shaking his shoulder. “It’s time”.

Danny groaned and his eyes fluttered open. “Eat first”, he ordered. “We’ll need all the energy we can get. We’re not going to eat again for a long time.”

I looked at the small pile of food that was left in the corner of the room, comprising of some stale bread slices, warm ham and a quarter of a block of cheese, yellow from the heat in the room. Knowing that our finances would forbid us consuming anything more than what lay in that pile for at least another two days, I began to eat. Between the two of us we hungrily devoured the pile of food and the last of the lager that stood in a small bottle. As we ate, the sun began to extend its nimble extremities into the room through the cracks in the board that covered the part of the wall that once contained a glass window.

“It’s getting light outside. Let’s go, brother,” Danny mumbled dryly, his eyes bursting with exhilaration.

I got dressed quickly, pulling the cord in my trousers tightly around my emaciated body while Danny looked over his plans. Once he had memorised each intricate detail, he placed the papers in the ashtray on the table and lit them with a match, the slight flame suddenly becoming a small fire, dancing as it engulfed the pages greedily before gradually dying out, leaving nothing but soft, grey ashes in their place.

When we left our home, the streets were still quiet. The early sunrise was a welcome source of fabricated security, the daylight providing us with the confidence to tackle what may be lurking behind each corner. We ran from the building without looking back, our eyes and hearts fixated on the building that stood pompously over the city with an air of authority that cast a sombre shadow over all that dwelled beneath.

“What are you doing out here so early? One of the chancers, are you?” a gruff voice echoed through an alleyway containing the remnants of a civilised society. “Seen plenty of them – don’t think you’ll get anywhere, you might as well come join me here, it’s actually quite peaceful. You can see the stars sometimes, in the sky at night, and if you hide really well, some days you won’t get caught by anyone at all. I’ll tell you what that is… that’s freedom.”

I peered into the alleyway, just making out a scrawny figure with long grey hair and a white beard. I inched closer, into the shade of the building and looked into the alleyway. The man had a gentle face, dirty with the repercussions of what could have been decades of living in these conditions, but the thing that resonated with me about this man for countless months after meeting him were his eyes, so perfectly blue but also so dark, like nothing I’d ever encountered in another human being. His gaze pierced my skin as if it were burning, a lifetime of deprivation of contact with anyone other than the few rats that belonged to a colony that invaded the corners of every building in the town. His clothes were mouldy and torn, and he had no shoes at all.

“How long have you been living in there?” I dared to ask.

“As long as I can remember, son. I’ve got my wits about me and that’s all I need to get by. That and the help of a lovely little lady, she throws food in here for me, every other day without fail. I’d be dead without her. She creeps out here, from up there,” he gestured to the pretentious building. “She dresses up and everything.”

He paused for a second, his soft face becoming stony and cold. “Hey, you didn’t hear that, alright? I didn’t tell you anything. Now, you and your little friend be on your way, I can see him, lurking over there. Clear off and stay away, I can defend myself against you, against anyone, you’ll see!”

I turned around and saw Danny behind me, staring blankly at the man, hidden away in the shadows cowering from the light of day and the population. “Let’s go, brother,” he commanded.

I left the man and ran away from the alleyway, giving Danny a sideways glance. It was then that I realised how envious I was of that man. The man with the most freedom I’d ever seen on our side of the world living in an alleyway, cowering in the darkness feeding from the perilous kindness of a stranger.