Alone, in a hotel room, the boom-crackle of ignited Australia Day firecrackers and the screams of low-flying military jets, the zinging taste of Solo-In-A-Can, of gunky pasta marinara exploding slowly in my stinging stomach.
Sydney, why so Sydney?
A glut of solipsistic co-workers, with headphones (Apple buds, Beats By Dre); with hunched frame, a descending skeletal de-evolution; with sniffles and burps, with no salutations, no how-dya-do, and with a lunch half-eaten at their desks. Dying while sitting, minute-minus-minute. A life tripped-and-flipped, sliding slowly into the time slip.
John shot Sarah a look, gesturing impatiently for her to follow. ‘Come on! We’re getting close.’
She rolled her eyes and smiled, but started to pick up the pace. ‘Sure thing, Boss man. Whatever you say.’ She mock bowed, hinging at the waist as they walked. She was sweating profusely.
‘No sass today, thanks,’ he said, striding along a micrometre in front. ‘You wanted to come. We gotta be there by sundown; if we’re not, we won’t be allowed to join.’ He stared down the tracks at the dark line in the distance. The horizon was nearer now, drawing into slow focus.
A crowd of teens lined the cliff face, bodies turned away from John and Sarah, faces looking down. They were silent.
I’m still working on Smarmbeard, so until then, here’s a short extract from a novel I’ve been struggling with.
* * *
It was a common enough problem: Sarah had no motivation to get out of bed. Warm and cozy in her eiderdown cocoon, in her world of lemon-scented fabric detergent and flannel sheeting, her body felt weightless; her arms, legs and head were bits of heavy-packing foam, like the stuff she’d once seen at that decrepit self-storage unit years previously.
She and Zoe had been moving house at the time. Continue reading
A more conversational Storylane piece, but one containing a Back to the Future reference. And circus ducks. So, fuggedaboutit.
On Passing Out (And Passing On)
‘Cause pen names are cool,
My beautiful Holden Vectra had committed suicide, taken a dive, lost the will to survive. Within a minute, my mobile—a Sony Ericsson k750i ex-showroom model that I’d bought for $350 (rrp) three long years ago—had also given up the ghost.
I had to grit my teeth and think, It’s a funny old world, isn’t it?
* * *
My day had started out relatively benign, similar to most: big breakfast (eggs, sunny-side up, and bacon), big shower (an environmentally-hurtful fifteen minutes), and big argument with my housemate, Sam.
Once again, Sam had left the washing up soaking in the sink overnight. I’d woken up, come stumbling out to the kitchen for my late afternoon pick-me-up of fresh OJ, and found last night’s strained peas floating in a morass of sludge water in the sink, with nary a clean cup in sight. Continue reading
One day, as Thomas was getting up, he stepped out of bed, and his foot fell off.
He stared down in horror at the perfectly smooth, almost ivory-like space at the bottom of his ankle. With considerate symmetry, his former appendage had parted cleanly from his body. Thomas could at least be thankful for that.
The foot had fallen flat on top of the deep shag rug surrounding the bed, with all the seeming weight that his body had usually put behind it. When he was walking. When he’d used it to walk with.
Thomas’s brain started doing backflips: this would take some getting used to.
‘Is this shock?’ Thomas thought, trying to balance but eventually falling back onto the edge of the bed. ‘Am I in shock?’
He grabbed a pillow and held it to his face, burying his nose in its marshmallowy comfort. Continue reading
The world is a dark haze with no clear frame of reference. A sour mixture of fear and self-loathing circles its way through my body, leaving a cold sweat in its wake. It leaves it’s trail under my eyes. Through the balding tyres of my rusting Toyota Corona, I can feel every slight bump and indentation in the road. The Morse Code of tarmac under my feet spells out my section of the Pacific Highway, always in desperate need of repair. I remember liking that feeling. It is clear-cut in a world of ambiguity and that night my stomach bunched with uncertainty.
The radio’s blaring, reception jumpy, but it’s the opposite of silence and just as seductive. The green light of the dash helps soothe me into numbness. As the white lines speed past and then blur, the numbness leads down to vagueness, and from there to the past.
I could still feel it all. That fading sensation of cool plastic phone in my hand. Those sharp words, sharp enough to cut all involved. Continue reading
[Warning: Bad Language]
*static, incoherent muttering and then a deep, husky voice*
1st Voice: ‘Ya lose, again.’
2nd Voice: ‘What do you mean?’
1st Voice: ‘Do ya really wanna know?’
2nd Voice: ‘You’re going to tell me anyway, aren’t you?’
1st Voice: ‘You totally fuckin’ missed that old granny back there’.
2nd Voice: ‘Which old granny?’
*sounds of movement*
1st Voice: ‘Blue hair. Large fuckin’ sunnies. Dressed like a hessian sack.’ Continue reading
Rewind twenty years—I’m ten years old and it’s Christmas day. My family and I are living back in Combine Street, a long section of road that stretches down from the Pacific Highway, snakes along the edges of a gently sloping valley, and then curves up the wall itself and back around like a hook, encircling the base of Robert’s Hill (no relation).
The land on either side of the street has been cleared into neat, regular quadrangles of dirt, newly planted ‘For Sale’ signs standing proudly, advertising raw potential. When our family initially moves into the area only a smattering of houses dot the landscape—we have no immediate neighbours. Continue reading