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First pages

ONE

George was struggling to remember a time when he hadn’t been in the same room as a dead person. To be perfectly honest, at this point even someone who had died of natural causes would have been a welcomed change of pace.

The first time had been a shock, it was the most horrendous thing he had ever witnessed, with the possible exception of Superman IV: The Quest For Peace and since then it had only gotten worse. For George, it was the kind of thing that only ever happened on TV with a glass screen, some radio waves, a couple of hundred miles of roads and good prosthetics separating him from any stomach churning reality. The real thing, as he had recently discovered, was completely different. The sight was enough to turn his stomach and the smell had almost made him pass out. (The actual passing out was nothing to do with the body and the cause of which had been a complete misunderstanding)

With everything that was currently going on in George’s life however, he now found himself rolling his eyes and almost tutting at the inconvenience of it all. He reassessed the situation in his head, found that he was doing relatively well compared to the other occupant of the room and managed to stifle any inconsiderate reaction he might have had to the mess he found himself in.

The blood was still running along the joints in the wooden floor and pooling in any knots and uneven patches in the grain. Not yet becoming the thick oozy mess that, as George had previously become aware of, was almost impossible to get out of any regular item of clothing. George didn't consider himself a picky person, but, as it wasn't anywhere close to Halloween even he had to draw a line at what was donated to Oxfam.

Sheepishly he leaned down to check for a pulse and after a few seconds, George came to the conclusion that there wasn't one, either that or he didn't know how to check for it. The body was still warm but starting losing more and more colour. As the puddle beneath it widened George became more sure of his diagnosis.

He was about to get to his feet when he felt something touch his left leg like someone was trying to stealthily remove the concealed gun from his sock. George froze, paralysed by the fear that at any moment he would feel the cold muzzle pressed against the back of his head. It took him most of thirty seconds before he realised he wasn't in a bad TV detective show, had never owned a gun and certainly didn’t have one tucked in his sock. Looking down he discovered that his entire left trouser leg was now drenched in blood from the puddle that had surrounded his knee as he had knelt down to check for a pulse. The denim had been weighed down and had pulled at the back of his shin, causing the temporary, but cowardly, paralysis.

“Shit.” He uttered under his breath as he pulled himself back up from the floor and attempted to dust off his trouser leg. Becoming quickly aware that blood behaved very differently to dust he looked at his hand and found it smeared with the sticky liquid, the only thing he had succeeded in doing was to spatter red blotches onto the side of the nearby sofa.

“Shit.” He muttered under his breath.

He stood and carefully looked around the room, suddenly aware that the culprit could still be in the flat. He walked over to the window to find it wide open, peering out he could see nothing but a rickety old fire escape leading down to an empty street, the killer apparently making his escape while George was distracted. Leaving the window open, George looked around the room for any other clues.

The flat was small, the living room even more so, the kitchen, bathroom and bedroom being the only other rooms. After a quick, quiet and butt-clenchingly nervous survey of them, George confirmed his theory that the killer had left the same way he had entered and he returned to the living room window.

The living room was a square room that consisted mostly of a large brown sofa and an old widescreen TV the size of a small walrus. The walls, like every other in the flat, had a uniform coat of magnolia. These ones also had a few shelves containing various novels and magazines, the more academic of which were unread, untouched and dusty. George glanced at the only other piece of furniture in view and found that resting neatly on the side table was a steaming hot cup of coffee.

It had been quick, there was no doubt about that, the liquidity of the blood, the warmth of the body and the steaming hot coffee all painted a very clear picture. The most damning evidence to prove this however, came in that a minute or so before discovering this fresh hell, George had handed over the cup of coffee and gone into the kitchen of his flat to find some sugar for his guest. They had been talking all the time he was in there, even when George had been getting down on the floor with his head and several other appendages in the cupboard trying to recover the sugar from its depths.

He would admit the conversation had trailed off and he had been doing most of the talking for the last minute or so but he hadn't thought anything of it until he had returned to the living room holding a bag of sugar and a teaspoon only find that they were probably now surplus to requirement.

George began to wonder about his downstairs neighbour. Mrs Lancit was a seventy-two-year-old widow that lived alone in the flat below and to put it mildly, she hated him. George could essentially do no right, he stomped on her ceiling from morning to night, on purpose, miraculously even during the hours he was at work. He cooked food that was too smelly, even though George’s culinary expertise extended as far as poking holes into microwave ready meals. She had even accused him of stealing her mail when bringing wrongly mailed post to her, unopened. All of this gave him the distinct impression that the fact her ceiling was probably raining blood onto her shag pile carpet and collectable ornaments, probably wasn’t endearing him to her any more than usual.

George looked down at the floor and wished just for a second he could see through it into the mothball rich, tea cosy laden cave of Mrs Lancit and watch her having a nervous breakdown, or a heart attack, or both.

Not having x-ray vision George would just have to use his imagination for now. He found himself staring at the floor which was now very much red and then taking another look at the body. A smile was still set across the victim’s face as the body lie sprawled out on its side with arms stretching out in front and head tilted up.

Not a melancholy smile, not an expression of accepting fate, more the kind of smile you would have had offering the vicar some tea, bumping into an old friend or stroking a puppy, which incidentally was exactly what the deceased had been doing when the small silver slither of a knife had been quickly thrust between a couple of fairly vital vertebrae in the back of the neck. The blade was still there, the small black handle protruding from the wound covered in a skin of sticky red blood.

George glanced down at his feet and found Entrails, his inappropriately named companion was currently rolling around in the pool of blood like it was a fresh puddle on a winter's day and excitedly wagging his tail. The spaniel’s long brown hair was now matted and clumped and most of George's furniture had a dogs hair brushstroke of red running along the bottom.

George stared at the grotesque scene for a few seconds longer before picking up the cup of coffee and raising it to his lips. He stopped just short of them and with his stomach still taking in his surroundings, thought better of it, putting the cup back down on the table.

“Shit.” He muttered as he pulled the mobile phone out of his pocket and dialled an all too familiar number.

TWO

In keeping with most British people, when choosing a random historical point and asking what they were doing, two weeks earlier George was drinking tea.

The tea wasn't great. Although it had it the main characteristics of tea i.e. it was hot, it was wet and it was in a mug, that was where the similarities ended. It may have had a brief introduction to one, but George was almost certain that it had got about as close to a tea bag as he had to the general female population during his high school years. It tasted like incredibly watery milk and there was only one thing that could save it, sugar. George loved sugar, the only problem being that after reading and taking to heart an article about the dangers of it last month, George had decided to pack it in all together. He had changed his normal order from the local greasy spoon, scribbled it out on his drinks order for the office and even binned all the sugar from his kitchen. Well, if he was being honest, he did leave a bag in the back of the saucepan cupboard, just in case of emergencies.

George was sitting at his desk with a fresh, hot mug of very nearly tea. He happened to glance over to the next cubicle at Becky and realising she was waiting for approval like a panting lapdog, he nodded a thank you to her gormless smiling face. Becky giggled like a cross between a chihuahua and a schoolgirl and winked at him through her inch thick, heavy rimmed glasses. The rest of her face mostly hidden by the mop of thick blonde hair that wouldn't look out of place with some twigs and leaves to really complete the ‘dragged through a hedge backwards’ look. She was the kind of person who cared about everyone and everything around her, including the twenty-seven cats she probably had at home. Wearing winter cardigans and floor-length pleated skirts, in colours exclusively from the Dulux “Paper Bag Beige” collection, George couldn’t help but think that in July it was a somewhat strange choice of clothing and in hindsight the drunken quickie in the toilets at the last office Christmas party was probably a mistake.

Since that mistake, George had found that at least twice a day he would return from performing his ablutions to find a steaming hot mug of very nearly tea and an excited Becky waiting for any form of contact in return. George put the rather disturbing thought that she was monitoring and potentially timing his visits to the lavatory to the back of his mind and went back to work.

The office George worked in was one floor of a large and monotonously styled building that housed many companies on different floors that all looked exactly the same. It was arranged so that all the actual offices within it were located around the edges of the building, allowing the more senior staff members to have such luxuries as a window to enjoy the grey, concrete scenery and internal blinds to avoid having to look at other human beings. The only break in being a gap for the elevator and stairwell on the north side of the building.

The aerial view of the middle was something like a four player tournament of tic-tac-toe, in which the person drawing the boards had forgotten the number of squares needed. Each board had sixteen squares instead of the appropriate nine and a cross-shaped walkway running through the middle. Being located more or less in the very middle of this mess George didn’t have to worry about things like natural light or fresh air and could concentrate on his work.

Almost everything was grey. The walls, the ceiling and the carpet were all varying shades. The cubicles were separated by dividers that were eye-level, giving the illusion of privacy. Surprisingly, they were also grey. Heavy fluorescent lights shone down on George's cubicle and illuminated everything in a stark, depressing and somehow grey colour. There was a pinboard attached to the cubicle wall, a computer and telephone on top of the generic plastic desk, and a half size filing cupboard underneath. Besides a set of headphones and a general spattering of litter, there were no personal touches to George's cubicle, giving a noncommittal, unused feeling to the space. This was mainly because he had forgotten what his job actually was quite some time ago and spent most of his day doing anything but. Including, but not limited to, reading, texting, doodling, Googling and occasionally sleeping.

Luckily one of the only skills George had really picked up from school was the ability to write a thorough and complete report/assessment/piece of drivel that some overweight, overpaid, under-brained minion, earning three times his salary wouldn't even read. This had enabled George to keep his job doing nothing up until now and hopefully for the foreseeable future. Even so, George was expecting someone to discover his secret at any moment.

Staring at the computer monitor and realising that the screen had turned itself off at least ten minutes ago, he breathed a heavy sigh and hit the spacebar, attempting to at least look like he was doing something. The screen lit up, it contained a page of a document George was writing and was, shockingly, related to his current employment. Which was a happy coincidence because, a few seconds later, a smartly dressed man slightly older than George rounded the corner of his tic-tac-toe board, walked along to his cubicle and came to a stop directly behind him.

Marginally shorter than George, the man was wearing a deep navy suit and a white shirt finished with a lavender tie. His light brown hair was short and precisely cut, his shoes highly polished and he was carrying a clipboard. His face was by no means weathered, giving the impression of a lifetime of management, bureaucracy and moisturiser.

“George, glad to see you hard at work. How's the Mullinson report coming? I need it on my desk Friday morning for the meeting in the afternoon." Said Mr Dickbag in a friendly, jovial, but marginally formal tone. His name, of course, wasn't Mr Dickbag, which probably would have led to a rather tough childhood.

George was trying to remember what his name actually was whilst typing a few meaningless words onto the end of the document to buy a few seconds to recall it. After finishing the sentence and using all reasonable time up but still stuck with Mr Dickbag in his head, he improvised.

“Yes sir, practically finished. Just perfecting it for your meeting.” He said confidently, knowing full well that he hadn’t even started it.

“Fantastic news, I can’t wait to see it!” He almost shouted, slightly too excitedly for George’s liking.

“One other thing George, could I see you in my office? No rush, but pop over in five minutes.”

Before George could get in a word or question Mr Dickbag was gone.

 

How long had it been since he had to visit an office? He wasn’t sure but it definitely wasn’t recently. A few possible situations went through George’s head, being sacked, getting a promotion, being sexually harassed by a work colleague, George thought about this last one for a second more and decided maybe Becky wasn’t so bad after all.

George certainly wasn't worried about losing his job, his minimal desk and work ethic showed that. Obviously, the set-up he had here was ideal, but he was sure with a little work he could find something similar reasonably quickly.

Checking his watch he reasoned that there was no work he could start or complete in the five minutes Mr Dickbag had given him and even if there was he wouldn't start or complete it anyway. He decided to take advantage and escape the monotone office for a few minutes.

He stood up, straightened his shirt and headed down the stairwell to the toilets, leaving Becky in turmoil at this completely unprecedented change to his toilet schedule and the tea lovingly made for him left only half empty. She scribbled down this anomaly in her little pink notebook and watched him disappear down the stairwell with an abandoned puppy look lingering on her face.

 

George casually downed three flights of stairs, walked halfway down the corridor and turned into the men’s bathroom.

Compared to the office the men's room decor was a refreshing work of art. The floor was a dark slate with shimmering specks in it, the walls a magnificent aquamarine and the sinks were sitting atop a beautiful set of alternating deep and sky blue checked tiles. It was a small refuge that George used regularly just to escape the cubicle for a few minutes, like watching an old black and white western interrupted every once in awhile with a high definition full-colour commercial. He walked over to the sinks and looked in the mirror. George began critiquing his appearance and realised that for all but one of the reasons he had come up with to have been called into his boss's office, he should have made more of an effort this morning. He looked fairly respectable but the cracks were definitely showing. The first thing he noticed was he had worn the wrong shoes, for one thing, they weren't his most formal pair and could have done with a good shine, for another they didn't help his height. He had never considered himself short, more average height, along with average build. His shoulders weren't broad but weren't scrawny, his chin not rounded but not chiselled, most things about him fell almost exactly between the two extremes.

His short-ish black hair was in an unintentional bed head but, after trying to straighten it out he decided to leave it as he couldn’t tell the difference between its condition now and twenty seconds ago.

Inspecting his clothes he decided they were acceptable but he straightened his collar and retied his tie anyway. He splashed some water on his face and looked up again, his face looked fresher and felt slightly less sedated, he leant down and splashed again.

As he lifted his head he watched his right contact lens drop into the writhing whirlpool of cold water in the sink, pause for a moment and then plummet down into the drain. Scrabbling at the sink George tried to find the lost lens but to no avail. He stood up and looked at himself in the mirror one more time, he looked pretty good, if a little blurry on the right side. Looking at his watch he realised his time was almost up, he dried his hands on a paper towel and headed back up the stairs to his floor.

 

When he reached his floor, he headed straight for Mr Dickbag's office, not noticing the longing and concerned look from Becky following him across the room.

Arriving at cheap wooden office door he was glad to see a nameplate: Mr Bicktag - Executive Deputy Manager. Now all he had to do was not say the name Dickbag out loud by accident. He knocked on the door, which was followed by a "Come in" from inside the room. He pushed the handle and repeated to himself: Say Mr Bicktag, do not say Mr Dickbag...

The office was roughly three times as big as George’s cubicle and a slightly more beige shade of grey, that coupled with the natural light from the window made it feel like a penthouse compared to where he spent forty hours a week.

The back wall had a large wooden cabinet unit with various family pictures and small trophies in a glass section on the left-hand side closest to the floor-to-ceiling windows. On the other side consisted of six cheap-looking, beige coloured, metal filing-cabinets. Presumably, for all the files George and the others produced and that he believed had never been read.

The other two walls contained a few more family pictures and certificates and there was a large potted plant in the corner. All of this making the office far more homely and comfortable than anything the cubicle dwellers would dare to dream of.

Mr Bicktag sat behind a mahogany desk at the opposite end of the room and looked up with a disconcerting smile as George entered the room.

“Mr Foreman..." He smiled as he said it and George readied himself for a variation on the same joke he had heard all his life.

“Don’t worry, I’m not going to grill you…" He winked and chuckled to himself. George played along with the joke and chuckled, playfully batting a hand at Mr Bicktag.

Involuntarily George's right eye decided it was uncomfortable without a contact lens and gently winked. Mr Bicktag seeing this also winked as a sign of concurrence.

“So, as I was saying-” He stopped mid-sentence as George’s right eye again decided to wink at him but this time even slower. With the boundaries of comfortable social winking now firmly in the rearview and George being completely oblivious to his right eye’s clandestine movements, he wondered why his boss had stopped and waited patiently for him to finish.

“No, but, seriously… I like you, George. You do good work and it’s never late.” George could sense a ‘but’ coming.

“But, it has been reported to me, by an anonymous employee, that you have been using your mobile phone during work hours.”

As soon as the sentence had started he knew where it was ending. Anonymous, that may as well be Craig’s middle name the sycophantic little prick.

There’s always one in the office and Craig was theirs. The snivelling little know-it-all, constantly watching everyone else to make sure they were keeping to the rules in the hope that being such a perfect, hated little piece of weasel excrement would endear him to the powers that be.

This was not the first run in George had had with Craig but this was the furthest it had ever gotten. Having him dragged into the manager's office certainly crossed some kind of line.

“Now, obviously I have no proof of this and this isn’t a warning or anything so formal. But I think it would be a good idea to refresh yourself with the company policy on the use of mobile phones during office hours.” His tone was sombre but disinterested and his expression apologetic. George’s right eye winked at him again, faster this time almost like a nervous tick.

Mr Bicktag started to wonder if George was taking him seriously or not, if he wasn't it was very out of character. As far as he was concerned George was an attentive and productive employee, maybe the wink was something else. He realised that no-one had spoken for an uncomfortable amount of time.

“I— I can provide you with all the companies policy, I will email them to you shortly after this informal meeting." Mr Bicktag emphasised informal as much as possible. In his heart, he had quite a soft spot for George, something he couldn't quite put his finger on, but something nevertheless.

George winked again and by this time Mr Bicktag was wondering what to do. He chose to just ignore it and try to put out of his mind all the other reasons he could think of for such a personal gesture. As his mind wandered in a certain direction, Mr Bicktag started to blush. George however, was completely unaware of any of this. He was vaguely aware that his eye felt strange and that Mr Bicktag looked slightly redder than usual but put it down to his lack of contact lens.

It’s not like Craig was wrong, George spent at least fifty percent of his time at work on his phone, it had gotten to the point where he had hidden an emergency charger in his desk. But it was the principle, everyone did it and it’s not like it was Craig’s job to keep tabs on his activities. Well, he did happen to be George’s supervising officer, so that was actually in the job description, but still.

George managed to slowly put a concerned and confused look on his face and built a low hum sound from his throat.

“Well, Mr Bicktag, I really can't remember the last time I used my phone during office hours…" he said confidently, the sentence being technically correct. George knew he had used his phone around ten minutes ago, but as he didn't know what the time was now. He honestly couldn't remember the last time he had used his phone.

Before Mr Bicktag could get a word in George decided it would best if he kept his lies to a minimum during this conversation and as he was seriously inept at interacting with other people without lying, he wanted the conversation to be as brief as possible.

“Oh, I tell a lie!" Again technically correct. "I did get a phone call last week from my Grandmother." Pausing briefly he let Mr Bicktag open his mouth to speak before he shut the conversation down.

“To let me know my Grandfather had died suddenly.”

If George had a microphone he would have dropped it. That's it, all done, thanks for playing. Mr Bicktag's mouth lay open a second or two more before crumpling into a sad and sympathetic expression. Looking down he shuffled some papers around on his desk, wiggled uncomfortably in his seat and tried to speak again. Nothing came out. George decided to help him along.

“I am sorry sir, I believe your anonymous tip was right on the money, I will make sure let all my future calls to go straight to voicemail.”

And the Oscar goes to…

Mr Bicktag's brain finally kicked in and realised that the ‘situation' George had answered his phone in was perfectly acceptable and was disgusted at itself for ever thinking otherwise.

“Ge- Geor- George, my deepest condolences. Forget I said anything, honestly I’m sure it was just bad timing that someone happened to see you using your phone for a perfectly acceptable reason.”

Stuttering and almost wringing his hands together Mr Bicktag stood up and offered one to George.

“Well thank you Mr Dickba- Bicktag, I assure you I will do my best to adhere to the company's policies in the future." Holding back a smile George shook the man's hand and headed to the door.

Glancing back, Mr Bicktag was back at his desk trying not to make eye contact and pretending to type on his computer, unless the word he was currently typing contained three Ps, two Qs and a Z. He seemed to be far too uncomfortable to have noticed the mispronunciation of his name and George felt relieved as he pushed the handle and left the office. As the door opened there was a shuffling of feet and a quick step away from it, George just caught a glimpse of Craig's greased back hair as he quickly rounded the corner of the nearest bank of cubicles and ducked down.

George stood perfectly still and waited. Roughly ten seconds later the top of Craig’s head appeared from a cubicle that wasn’t his, to see if the coast was clear. Spotting George he quickly ducked back down into the next nearest one and almost immediately afterwards a tall blonde woman quickly stood up and appeared to be quite upset with something George couldn't see. Craig gave up, he stood up quickly facing away from George and walked swiftly back to his desk and sat down. George chuckled to himself and started walking back to his cubicle.

With perfect comedic timing, George's mobile phone began to ring in his pocket. Thinking it unlikely that even Mr Bicktag would believe that his Grandmother or any other relative had just happened to die, he let it ring out and felt a buzz shortly afterwards indicating a voicemail.

When George returned to his desk he found two steaming cups of very nearly tea. Apparently the change to his bathroom schedule and the fact that he hadn’t finished the first one had forced Becky to have some kind of nervous breakdown.

He glanced over at her and was met with a pair of glaring eyes intense enough to make him jump a little. Fearing for his life George slowly raised both cups of tea and mouthed the word thank you. The stare softened and disappeared as Becky flicked her hair to the side and chuckled once again.

For a minute George was concerned that he would forever more have to drink two cups at a time but decided to cross that bridge when he came to it.

He swiftly took his phone out of his pocket and chanced a quick glance to see who the voicemail was from. The screen lit up and George read the name, Richard Boone.

THREE

George sat and stared at the phone until the screen dimmed and locked. He hadn't seen or even thought about Richard Boone for years, not since the school reunion that, in hindsight, he really shouldn't have attended.

There are only two good reasons to attend a school reunion. If you were fat and now more closely resemble an insect than a human, or if you have been able to accumulate enough wealth to buy a small island. Considering George was definitely neither of those things he had spent the entire evening lying.

The reunion was like a who’s who of douchebaggery and as the night went on he had seen various people he recognised sashaying around the room, buying drinks and dancing.

Molly Grundle, for instance, who was now CEO of a large pharmaceutical company but who in the last year of high school had managed to drink so much during a free period that she decided to attend PE in only a bra and a thong. This had endeared her greatly to the male population of the school and George couldn't help but think to himself that he should make a point to buy her more than a few drinks and encourage some similar behaviour if the moment should arise.

Also, Robbie Smith, who was now a semi-professional football player who had spent most of the latter years of school smoking anything he could get his hands on whilst bunking lessons. One day he was failing every class and the next, after a visit from his more than a little rich father, he was passing every class with at least a C. Strangely around the same time the computer room had a major refurbishment and the staff room got a pool table.

Later on in the evening, George had seen a very well-to-do gentleman in a tailored slate suit with casually swept back hair and shoes that probably cost more than George made in a month, who was he kidding, two months. Not recognising him straight away he tried to overhear some conversation to see just who the annoyingly successful arse was.

Getting up from a table where he was currently a stock broker working in London, living in Chelsea and driving an Audi convertible, which happened to be in the garage, George kept to the shadows and tried to creep close enough to the unknown to gain some clues. When he got just over ten feet away, George found a cluster of people he didn’t recognise and stealthily latched onto the back of the group.

The music was loud but he had managed to get close enough to overhear most of the conversation.

“—Investments really paid off. Once that happened everything just fell into place you know, got married, bought the house, invested some more…" His voice trailed off as the music got louder and the two women the man was talking to nodded and smiled genteelly, only ever so slightly frowning at the word wife.

“A world away from being ‘The drama room mooner’? Then?” Offered the blonder of the two women with a laugh.

‘The drama room mooner’, George instantly realised who the man was and unlatched himself from his camouflage. As he turned to away he felt a hand on his shoulder.

“George? Is that you?" Richard asked. A combination of well-timed disco lighting and George trying to hastily retreat had caught his eye.

“Richard! How great to see you, I didn’t realise you were here tonight.” George lied, maintaining the habit of the evening.

‘The drama room mooner’ had actually been one of George’s best friends for most of the way through high school. His nickname referring to a game of dares that he and Richard had been playing one afternoon that ended up with Richard mooning through the drama room window just above the back of the teachers head in full view of the class, making him into an instant celebrity.

To hear that someone that had been so close to him both in friendship and skill level was now doing exponentially better than himself meant that this was a conversation George wanted to avoid at all costs.

“Well, great to see you—” George started whilst turning to leave.

“So, what are you up to these days?” Richard asked looking genuinely interested. Unknown to George he really was, deep down Richard missed the days that he had spent mucking around at school.

“Oh you know, trying to mix up my portfolio a little, getting into anything I can—” George figured that the sentence was vague enough to be taken and run with in any direction that Richard wanted, but Richard just stared at him waiting for more information.

“How about you?” George asked looking at his watch and indexing all the rooms exits in his head, it was one thing to lie to strangers you can’t remember but another thing if it might actually catch up with you at some point.

Richard gave a small sad smile and looked into his drink.

“Oh, you know, stocks and stuff. It's really boring, to be honest."

George was a little taken aback by Richard’s tone and started to feel bad for desperately trying to leave.

“Here, here’s my card. Why don’t you give me a call one day when you’re not too busy and we’ll catch up.” George pulled out an artfully crafted business card, donning just his name and phone number but sufficiently modern and well designed that it looked incredibly expensive and professional. He handed it to Richard and gave him a sympathetic smile.

“You know without all this stuff,” George pointed to the disco lights. “maybe we can talk stocks.” George instantly regretted this last sentence, partially because if ever called upon he knew absolutely nothing about stocks apart from they were sold on some kind of market. But mainly because he just noticed the two people that had joined the huddle were people he lied through his teeth to about half an hour ago.

“Hey, what does firefighter know about stocks?” Offered one of the two.

“Firefighter? You told me you had your own software company?” Accused the other.

George looked at all three of them and then without saying a word disappeared into the crowd near the dance floor, sidestepped past the speakers and snuck out of the back door by the toilets.

George began to wonder why someone would bring a harp to a school reunion and then everything faded and wobbled like a bad TV flashback. Back in his cubicle, he became aware of a pair of eyes watching him.

The top of Craig's rat-like head was peering over a divider two cubicles down from his, he would have just enough of a view to see George staring at something in his hand but unless he gave himself away completely he wouldn't be able to see exactly what it was. Without looking George moved his left hand into his pocket and pulled something out, careful to keep his right arm still, he exchanged the phone for the object and continued to stare with a puzzled expression at it in his hand. Putting the tissue to his nose and blowing as hard as he could, he gave it a quick disgusted look before casually throwing it directly at Craig's face.


AUTHOR Q&A

About me

A developer by day and insomniac by night I have always enjoyed crime fiction and murder mysteries, but always found enjoyment in humour and coincidental comedy. I decided the books I wanted to read didn't exist (or there weren't many of them) and have had great fun bringing some to life.

Q. What books have influenced your life the most?
A.
Probably 'The Hitchhikers Guide' series was the most influential set I have read. I read them all about once a year and never get bored of them, although Terry Pratchett's Going Postal and subsequent tales of Moist Von Lipwig come a very close second.
Q. What draws you to this genre?
A.
I love the mystery, all the little pieces of the story moving together, giving false clues and leading the reader down a path that makes the ending that much more enjoyable when everything comes together at the end.
Q. Which writers inspire you?
A.
Again Douglas Adams is a definite along with writers like Terry Pratchett, Barry J Hutchison & Tom Holt give me my sense of humour, while writers such as Lee Child and Stephen King have always given me the suspense and action I enjoy.

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