Issue #6

All is for the Best in the Best of all Possible Worlds

Morning. Alarm blaring, silent curses and thrown sheets. He is up and shaking and naked and cold. Late for work too. The shower is put on. He stands for some minutes hoping the warmth of the water will heat up the room. It doesn’t, but it does make him more late. There is half cooked watery porridge for breakfast, with bits of chipped pan included. Indigestion strikes early. The bus is missed and given up on as he clutches his side, trying not to look too pathetic as he races along the street. He trips up. Bumps into pregnant teenagers, homeless alcoholics. A passing bird shits on his creased shirt. A nosebleed starts for the first time since his early teens. He trips up again. A taxi is hailed which then passes him by. Another taxi ignores him. White van men shout at him when passing. He carries on running towards work. He trips up a disabled old man. Middle-aged women stare with furrowed eyebrows. Apologising, and helping the man, he is angrily told to fuck off. He runs again. It rains heavily. Thirty minutes late for work and he is fired on the spot from the call-centre job he has worked at for 7 years. No-one comes to say goodbye as he packs his belongings from his desk – one pad of post-it notes. His nosebleed starts again and he cries on his old desk while other employees look away in shame. He is told to move, his desk is needed by a 17 year old boy with shaved eyebrows starting today. The boy calls him a twat as he leaves. He is on the street again. A phone call, his mother has had a stroke. He gets in a taxi to the hospital which goes the wrong way for 20 minutes. Another phone call, his sister has been in a car accident. At the same time, his taxi is hit by the bus he usually gets to work. Ambulances arrive and attend to the injured but the paramedics ignore him, despite his broken ankle. Another taxi is hailed which goes the wrong way again, charges double fare and fines him for bleeding on the seat. He arrives at the wrong hospital and the taxi leaves. Passing kids call him a paedo. A child with a scolded face cries as they make eye-contact. Another taxi, but he doesn’t have enough money and is beaten up by the driver in an alley at the side of a supermarket. Bloody and limping, he goes to the cash machine but is removed by security. He leaves with both his card and pin entered into the ATM. The homeless alcoholic from earlier withdraws all his money and takes his card. Six hours of limping later, he arrives at the hospital to find his mother is dead but had written a note. It reads ‘You were an accident and I regretted having you’ and nothing else. Outside, he pleads with a paramedic for help, who then spits on him. A doctor puts out her cigarette on his arm and calls him a cunt. He is helped hours later by a racist junior doctor. His ankle is repositioned into an angle that hurts more, and will cause irreversible damage to the bone. He is given crutches and one snaps. In the mirror in the toilets he notices a bald spot and a line of freckles that look increasingly like a swastika. His sister calls and asks for him. She is in the other hospital. He hobbles for another six hours in the dark on the side of the motorway to find her dead from internal bleeding. He is told that if he’d arrived earlier his blood could have been used to save her life. But he was late and now she is dead. Calling his father to ask for a lift, his own wife answers and confesses that she is running away with his father and taking the kids with them. It takes around seven hours to get home during which he is attacked 4 times by separate packs of drunken men. His house is on fire when he gets home. The firemen only turn up when the roof and first floor collapse. Police arrest him on suspicion of arson. He is kept in the cell for 12 days and misses both his mother’s and sister’s funeral. The only call he receives is from the insurance company who tell him the contract on his house is void. When released, he walks to his grandmothers’ house to find the house for sale and a note explaining they had moved to Australia 7 years ago. He breaks in and is arrested within 15 minutes. A week later he is released once more. From the station he heads to the highest building in the city. He gets in the lift which stops halfway between floors. He is trapped with a claustrophobic cage fighter who beats him periodically to relieve the stress. They are in the lift all day and the building is closing when they are helped out. He sleeps outside and is kicked in the night by the homeless alcoholic. Waking up, he finds that someone has been sick on him as he slept. He tries to enter the building but the security guard hits him with a baton. Using a separate entrance as staff begin arriving in the morning, he walks up the stairs. On the 82nd floor he trips and bites the end of his tongue clean off. He bleeds heavily and makes his way to the roof entrance, slipping on his blood as he goes. The roof door is locked and he breaks his arm as he tries to force it open. He keeps trying and breaks his other arm. After trying the handle again, the door opens. His broken arms limp on either side of him, he walks to the ledge of the building and jumps. He lands on a group of nuns raising money for orphans with AIDS, killing them all. He never loses consciousness and is fully awake throughout the pain of having every bone crushed and snapped. The ambulance picks him up this time, after the nuns have been taken away. In hospital they declare him brain dead and paralysed but he is fully conscious. Painkillers aren’t given as they would kill him. He is moved to a care unit 3 months later and placed in front of a TV. He finds that the media have labelled him a terrorist and he is compared to the worst dictators of world history. The Church of England brands him the devil. Unable to move, and contained in the highest security hospital in the land, he is forced to watch hours of TV berating his existence. After two and a half months of being in the same chair in front of the TV being fed by a drip, he is moved to a room and placed facing away from the barred window. The next 50 years pass by as he stares at the grey wall in front of him and listens to the air conditioning rattle. Nobody comes to visit. One day, the racist junior doctor arrives, now a senior geriatrician, and pronounces him dead. He isn’t. They cart him away and put him in a badly painted coffin with the word “twatface” graffitied into the lacquer. He almost suffocates but instead is killed by the flames that burn him alive during his cremation. Nobody goes to the funeral and his ashes are thrown in a dogshit bin in a park no-one visits.

Bryn Farnsworth also wrote for the Short Fiction, but this work was a bit toofar out for them. Bryn "loved the idea of his [character's] freckles formingmutinously into the shape of a swastika", commenting that this short piece"reads more like an extended joke, a list of details, but without dialogue ordeep character development."

Bryn Farnsworth