I’m not the geek I used to be 3

I've forgotten almost everything I dvds knew about the command line and couldn't work out what was wrong with Windows this morning. In the end I created a second version of xp which I boot instead of the shafted one. On the plus side I didn't delete all the stuff I've done since the last backup.

Time was I might have known what had gone wrong and not had to resort to the dodgy and slapdash solution I employed. I'm not handing in my geek card, there are still many ways in which I'm qualified, but I have forgotten some of the basic skills.

I think it’s safe to say the Lass O’Gowrie’s landlord is a geek

Pac-Man in bottle tops in the pub’s window.

Fiction – How Deep Is Your Love?

Neil and I have started bar billiards sessions after work on Tuesdays, whilst he’s waiting for a booty call and I’m not because Sue has to work late. We play for Minstrels. The only problem is that I keep eating my winnings.

Things aren’t perfect with the doggy shrink, it seems. I’ve only been getting laid again for a couple of weeks and everyone’s talking at me about relationships.

The problem is Neil’s ex, Ursula. They’ve managed to become friends, after an initial rough patch. In fact they might be talking more now than in the last few months of their relationship. This is freaking Helen, the pet psychologist, out. “She thinks that me and Ursula might get back together. She says she’s intimidated by our history.”

“You and Ursula were together for, what, three years?”


“And you’ve only been going out for a couple of months. It takes a while to build up a bank of memories.”

“That’s what I told her.”

“Maybe you should suggest doing something neither of you’s done before. Create your own unique memories.”

“Like anal sex?” He times these things, I just know it. I knocked over the black pin and lost all my points. That’s twenty Minstrels gone.

“I was thinking of a weekend in Paris, but there is that.” I waited until he’d lined up his shot before adding, “I guess it’s too early for you to suggest a threesome with her best friend.”

My timing’s not so good. He stopped the shot, looked up and gave a little grin. “You didn’t?” The boy should be an actor, I really don’t know if he was taking the piss or not.

More Than Words

More Than Words, by Extreme, is the “If you loved me you’d swallow” song.
But everyone looks at me strangely when I suggest that. Is it possible I’ve misinterpreted the lyrics?
Posted by Jim at 21:53

Sue has a half day most Wednesdays, to compensate for the length of Tuesday. I got out of work as early as possible and went round to her flat.

We’ve christened the living room and bedroom of the flat, several times over, and we’re going to start on the rooms in my house as soon as her period’s over. (Except the kitchens. By mutual consent we’ve decided that may be unsanitary.)

People are complaining they don’t see me any more. I don’t care. But just to appease them I’m going to put in an appearance at the big get together on Saturday. “Can I come?” was Sue’s first question when I mentioned this.

“Of course. I think the main reason they’re on at me about it is that everyone wants to meet you.”

“To see if I’m good enough for you?”

“To tell you terrible stories about my past antics, more like. Some of them aren’t true.”

“I bet.” She had curled up on the sofa, using my lap as a pillow.

She’s awfully skinny, when she’s undressed I can see her ribs. But she eats everything I put in front of her. I think it’s partly a metabolism thing, but I have noticed that she seems to underestimate serving sizes. As I always overestimate them perhaps we’ll meet in the middle- I’ll lose a little weight and she’ll put some on.

“Oh.” Sue stirred. “It’s my works Christmas do on Friday. I’ll still come out on Saturday, but it’s a free bar, so I might be a bit delicate.” I stroked, her ear. She made a happy little noise. “Do that again.”

I moved her hair aside and stroked her neck and jawline and what I could get at of her collarbone and she just lay there with the loveliest little smile. She seems to be sensitive all over to gentle stroking, and we’ve been finding the particularly sensitive bits over the last few days whilst we can’t go penetrative. I told her about my conversation with Neil. She was amused by the different interpretations of doing something new. “Have you ever done it?” she asked.

“Been to Paris?”

“You know what I mean. Hold on a sec.” She sat up and pulled her top off, then rearranged herself across the sofa.

“I’ve thought about it. I’ve mentioned it. Don’t think I’ve ever suggested it. I’ve never done it.”

“I’ve thought about it. Hell, I’ve fantasised about it. Just there. No, down a little. There, yes, that’s nice. But I’ve never done it.”

The obvious question nearly didn’t make it out of my mouth. “Would you like to?”

She didn’t answer, just smiled and flushed, bit her lip and went tense. After a while, when she’d come down, she pulled me down to kiss, then shifted, unzipped my trousers and reached in. I didn’t care whether that was a yes or a no.

– – – – – – – –

At two in the morning I woke to a blue glow. Sue was sat up in bed, wearing my dressing gown for warmth, tapping the stylus against the screen of the PDA/phone thing she has. “Whussup?” she jumped.

“I thought you were asleep. You were snoring. I just thought of something. I had to email myself it so I won’t forget.”

Bless her little cotton panties, she’s a geek. She’ll fit into the Friendborg with no worries.

Brown Paper Parcel

Whilst checking my Amazon affiliate reports I found that some of you have been ordering very naughty products. I have my suspicions, but discretion is my middle name. You’ll be pleased to know it’s been despatched and you should get it tomorrow.
Posted by Jim at 12:35pm

Mostly, my friends forget to go through my blog when ordering stuff from Amazon. So it’s probably a stranger who clicked through and ordered The Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Women.

It just seems like such a coincidence after Neil brought the subject up. Helen and he are coming out on Saturday, and I’m not going to be able to look at them without wondering if they’ll be getting all Last Tango In Paris at some point.

Friday night in

It seems everyone else is having their work’s Christmas party tonight. So I’m all alone with nothing to do.
It’s wrong to get drunk on your own isn’t it?
Posted by Jim at 20:57

I got a phone call at about half past ten. A little voice, slightly slurred, with music in the background. “Can I come back to your place tonight?”

“Of course you can. You know the address?”

“I think so. Hold on. Tell me anyway and I’ll write it down.”

I gave her the address, and the name of the street it’s off. And the name of the street that’s off. “It won’t be until late.” she warned, “Maybe after one.”

“It’s okay. I’ve got films to watch.”

So I watched Ronin, with the director’s commentary so I could hear John Frankenheimer’s opinion of the car chases. Then I set about losing a Command and Conquer skirmish.

The doorbell rang at half past one. I bounced down the stairs, struggled with the locks and flung the door open.

The woman on the doorstep was not Sue. She was the same height, but twice as wide and probably twice the age. “Are you James?”


She reached behind the bush by the door and pulled a little figure out of hiding. “Does this belong to you?”

Sue’s drunken smile was infectious. She tumbled forward and wrapped herself around me. “I guess it does. Do I have to sign for it?”

Sue was talking into my chest. “Pardon?”

She looked up. “I told her to say that. Did you like the joke?”


“Free bar.” her chauffeur explained as Sue let me go to give her a hug. “Last year I had to put her to bed.”

“Thanks for the lift Mary. I’ll see you on Monday. I’ll be sober then. I hope.” I grasped her coat collar as she let go and tried to stand up straight.

“Lots of water.” Mary suggested to me.

“And paracetamol in the morning.” I steered Sue into the house. “Let’s get you to bed.” I waved a goodbye and kicked the door closed.

“I don’t like Christmas.” Sue announced halfway up the stairs. She tried to turn and give me another hug. “But I do like you. Can I keep you?”

“Of course you can. But first you can come upstairs to bed.”

For such a little thing she’s awfully hard to steer. She veered off into the bathroom and headed for the toilet. I decided to close the door on that and hope she could cope without me. I went for the promised water.

I filled a pint glass, then had visions of it tipping all over the floor. There was a sports bottle by the sink that seemed a more prudent choice.

She was in the bedroom, struggling with the buttons on her blouse. “Did you flush?”

“Yellow is mellow. Remember?”

“Oh, yeah. Here, you take this and I’ll help you with that. No, no. You drink the water, I’ll undress you.” That raised a giggle, but she did as she was told. The cap on the bottle befuddled her for a moment until she realised how to pull it open.

She was wearing a bra, which was something I hadn’t seen before. I helped her juggle bottle, bra and blouse until she was topless, then sat her down and went to work on her shoes and jeans. Undressing a giggling drunk girl was turning me on more than I’d have expected. Sue noticed this when I stood up. “Oooh, a present for me to unwrap.” She grabbed my belt and pulled herself into a kneel before me.

“I thought you didn’t like Christmas.” Somehow her co-ordination was back now she was unfastening me.

“But I do like you. I told you. This is a present for waiting up for me.” With my pants around my ankles and her lips around me it would have been uncouth to refuse such a gift.

“I like the way you go all trembly just before you come.” she told me afterwards, stroking my thighs whilst I still stood over her. I loved the way she swallowed and then licked me clean so no dribble escaped. “I’ve got another present for you tomorrow. Cold now.” She pulled the covers about herself and grinned as she watched me strip.

Sue didn’t want to sleep, poking my shoulder and playing with my chest hair. Maybe my semen had sobered her up. “Why don’t you like Christmas?” I asked to distract her.

“My family.”

“You don’t get on with them?”

“The rest of the time, yes. Well, apart from my step-sister. It’s just that it gets competitive at Christmas. Mum and her new husband want me to spend it with them, Dad and his new wife with them. So I spend it on my own. I don’t want to be part of their game.”

I considered this for a moment, stopped the roaming finger by grabbing it and kissing it. “Why not spend this Christmas with me and my family?”

– – – – – – – – –

It seems I’m too hot. I cuddle up to Sue during the night, but my body heat’s too much for her. More often than not she sneaks away from me to cool down. Usually, though, a little hand will find its way back to hold mine.

But on Saturday morning I woke to find her wrapped around me, all sweet and cuddly. I found her arm and kissed the inside of her wrist. She liked that, so I kissed up her arm to the inside of her elbow. She liked that even more.

“Make me tea.” she demanded now she was awake.

“Did I give you a blow job last night?”

“You did.”

“Yucky taste in my mouth.” Sue made spitting noises until I started pouring some tea.

“That’s more likely the free beer.”

“Go away. Anyway, they didn’t have any decent beer. I was on rum and stuff all night.” She struggled with the cap on the paracetamol, gave up and handed it to me.

“That would explain all the talking like a pirate. Here.”

She washed the painkillers down with tea. “Did I mention my family?”

“You explained why you don’t like Christmas, yes.”

“You asked me to spend it with you?”

“I did.”

“Did I say yes?”

“You didn’t say anything. You started telling me why your step-sister is a complete bitch and then you fell asleep halfway through a sentence.”


“Then you started talking in your sleep. I thought you’d woken up until I realised you weren’t using real words.”

“I do that, so I’m told.”

“Allegedly I snore.”

“Allegedly my arse. You probably wake people five doors down.” Sue studied her blouse, deciding whether to wear it again. “I’ve spent Christmas by myself since my last year of Uni. I’ve got sort of traditions. I roast a chicken, drink a bottle of wine and heckle the Queen.”

“Sounds like a normal Christmas. Though we don’t watch Queenie any more.”

“Won’t your parents mind? It’s a bit late in the year to land them with a Christmas guest.”

“Oh they won’t mind really.” We have a family history of taking in waifs and strays. The shock might be landing on them with a girlfriend. I’ve told my mother I’m ‘seeing’ someone. I think she understands the euphemism.

Sue still didn’t look convinced. I selected a T-shirt from the clean pile and handed it to her. “It’s just an idea. It’s okay if you don’t want to.”

“Thanks. I’ll think about it.”


“I’ll grab a banana and head home. I need to sort some stuff out for tonight.”


– – – – – – – –

We met in Rain. Sue had insisted we make our own ways there. Neil, Helen and Ursula were already there. That didn’t seem like a good combination. I decided to arm myself with Moonraker and try to mediate.

Moonraker’s an odd beer. I can understand how so many people don’t like it, but I’m fond of its thick, sickly taste. It’s also over 8%, so when you order your first of the night the bar staff always give you a look and say “You do know it’s over eight percent don’t you.”

“Of course I do. That’s why I drink it.”


Reinforcements arrived whilst my beer was being pulled. Steve’s always fancied Ursula, I didn’t even need to engineer a reason for him to join the conversation. Bert joined in just to confound him.

Before I’d finished my first pint there were fifteen of us. No Sue, though. I was beginning to worry that I’d been stood up. But she was just waiting to make an entrance.

I admit, I didn’t recognise her at first. I didn’t even know she possessed any dresses. It was dark blue and came to just below her knees. She sort of slinked out of her long coat and draped it over her arm as she approached.

I admit it, I stared. People seemed to notice this and one by one turn to follow my gaze, because I swear the room went silent as she approached. She dropped the coat at my feet, wrapped both arms around my neck and pulled me down to kiss her.

There might have been applause. There was definitely a cry of “Get a room!” When we came up for air she was the most flushed I’ve seen her outside the bedroom. She pulled my head down to whisper in my ear, “I wanted to make a good impression.”

“I think you did that.” I kissed her neck, then her ear, then the top of her head. I wanted to kiss her all over, but I wasn’t going to get the chance. “You’re about to get the inquisition.”

“Oh dear. Oh, and I would love to spend Christmas with you.”

I didn’t know what to say, but Ursula arrived before it became obvious. “You must be Sue. I’m Ursula. I’ve heard so much about you.”

“No she hasn’t. Deny everything. Unless it makes me look good, of course.” My glass was empty. I wagged it at Sue and she nodded, mouthing the words “non-alcoholic”.

I’m a bad man. After handing over her J2O I abandoned her. Helen was looking lost. Neil had drifted into a conversation about processor speeds with Bert and she wasn’t deeply enough assimilated to join in the inquisition of Sue. I wandered over. “Hey. How are you?”

“I’m okay.” she gestured at Sue “It’s scary, all those people wanting to know about you.”

“I guess it is.” Helen had first met the FriendBorg whilst drinking in the Students’ Union. I’m not sure she’s fully recovered.

She remembered something that made her smile. “Thanks, by the way.”

“What for?”

“You suggested to Neil that we should do something special. What was it? Create our own history.”

I managed not to drop my pint. “Really?”

“Yeah. He’s taking me to Paris next month.”

I just nodded and took a gulp of beer. I didn’t know what to say just yet, because ‘take me to Paris’ sounds like rhyming slang for ‘take me up the arse’, which is what I’d been thinking.

“She looks….. gorgeous.” Helen indicated Sue, rescuing me.

“Yes, she does, doesn’t she. I’ve never seen her in a dress before.” Two things were beginning to dawn on me. That Sue really wanted to impress my friends and that I was in love with her. I caught her eye and smiled at her. “I have to go and hug her now.”

– – – – – – – – –

It wasn’t one of our heavier nights, but it was still gone eleven when we sneaked away. We managed to grab a taxi after walking a wee way in the right direction and away from the crowds, and tried not to get too steamy on the back seat. We didn’t crash, so I guess we weren’t doing anything the driver wanted to watch.

“I have another present for you.” Sue announced as I locked the door. “Time to unwrap it.”

I turned to find her pushing her knickers down her legs. She stepped out of them and lifted the front of her dress. Her grin was all the more sexy because she seemed on the edge of uncontrollable laughter. She backed toward the bean bag as I approached. “I went to the doctor and had him put me on the Pill. Your present is me- any time, any place, anywhere. Starting right here, on the bean bag.”

– – – – – – – – – –

I never did find out who bought The Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Women. I don’t really care.

Notes Another jumping off point for the first draft of Post & Publish. Yes there’s a lot of gratuitous sex, but that’s the best type and they’re at the beginning of a relationship when that sort of thing goes on a lot.

Links to all products mentioned have been included because Tim tells me off if I don’t do that sort of thing.

Other fiction- check out So Much To Answer For, or Heavensent Download Another Education/Ruby Red or Ten Years Asleep.

Donate Now I’ve started writing again I’m unlikely to stop, but it would be nice if I could eat during my breaks. So please feel free to donate some money to my starving author fund by clicking on the PayPal button below.

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My Name is Modesty

For all my comic geek credentials, I know precious little about Modesty Blaise beyond the fact that she was a character in a newspaper adventure strip. I had to refer to wikipedia for more details of Modesty’s life before this film.

My Name is Modesty is quite true to the character’s previous appearances, even if creator Peter O’Donnell isn’t entirely happy with it. It isn’t, however, the film the box art promises. Rather than a caper-ish story of espionage and spy-jinks we get something that looks like the feature length first episode of an abandoned Alias rip off television series. It’s “presented” by Quentin Tarantino, but more because he wants to use the character himself than for any artistic merits of the film.

Her casino and gang controlling boss killed in an ambush, Modesty must protect her employees from a man intent on stealing the funds of an upcoming drug deal. Bartering hostages against questions she challenges him to roulette- the holder of the most chips after every three spins getting to ask something or see someone go free. Losing a lot more than she ought to, Modesty gives up the story of her early life- how she was a child in the Balkans who escaped a camp with mentor and father figure Lob and finally came into the employment of gang leader Henri Louche.

The film’s pacing is stilted and there’s no real tension. The roulette game, which could have been an interesting moment in amongst action scenes, is dragged out for far too long. Only at the very end do we get to see the Modesty we’ve been promised, and then it’s not as well choreographed as you’d hope.

The actors were all a bit wooden, and they weren’t helped by a basic script. Leading lady Alexandra Staden is attractive in a refreshingly non-Hollywood way, if a little frail and pale for someone who spent her adolescence and early adulthood trekking around the Mediterannean. I’d like to see more of her as an action heroine, but in a role that suggested more English rose with extra thorns than feral kid from the Balkans made good.

More Modesty Blaise stories.

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Musing on muses

It’s pretty certain I’m not going to hit the 50,000 word mark by the end of the month. Which is a shame. However, I will have the basis of something for future development and a target. I’ve averaged just under a thousand words a day, and I’m going to try to keep that rate up from now on. 1000 words written or revised (or an illustration or page of webcomic) on average every day.

I may publish the first draft of the first part of my nano novel here then revise it so it can stand alone as a novella, probably with illustrations. Then I plan to resurrect Post & Publish and take it in the more Douglas Coupland-y direction I imagined for it after reading Microserfs again.

I find myself wanting to say a lot about relationships and the dynamics of groups of friends. It comes from having recently spent three days in a room with lots of beers and some of the most important people in my life.

The aim is to write something inspired by my life and the people I know without it being specifically about them. I’m mentioning this now as a sort of pre-emptive explanation, because when I start publishing it you’re all going to go ‘But I never did that!’ It’s going to be a story about relationships. Unlike tales of murder and gun running or the nature of reality breaking down, it’s going to have stuff in it we can all relate to and recognise. Also, as it’s about a bunch of geek friends in Manchester it’ll be full of references that resonate.


It’s been nearly ten years since I first read Microserfs, and it is the only book I’ve ever re-read three times. Despite the changes and technological advances of the intervening decade the setting still rings true. Insert Web 2.0 over multimedia and throw Google into the mix and you’re halfway to bringing it up to date.

The heart of the story, what really keeps it from dating, are the relationships of Dan- the narrator- and his family and friends. Trapped in Microsoft shipping hell at the start of the story Dan and his housemates slowly develop lives, escape the corporate comfort that is stunting their growth, find love and mature. The diary entry structure is shot through with emails, musings on the human-machine interface and word games (entries re-imagined without vowels or remixed by file corruption). The ending, mimicking life, is totally unexpected but somehow manages to draw on several of the themes running through the book. And it can still make me cry with its downbeat optimism.

In 1996 the BBC gave us This Life, a TV series allegedly about people my age. I could see no-one I knew and quickly grew tired of it (Attachments, an attempt by the same people to do a geek program, was even worse). Microserfs, despite being set in the, to a geek, exotic locales of Redmond and Silicon Valley, was full of characters I recognised.

Ten years on I’m still feeling some of Dan’s malaise, a fear that I haven’t managed to grow up and get a proper life. Coupland himself remixed/covered the story earlier this year with Jpod, a dark pastiche that he wrote himself into.

I want to write a story like Microserfs, optimistic but honest, about a lost geek’s travails. Yes, I know it would end up being a little biographical. After the current novel’s finished (first draft being typed up when I finish this) I’m returning to Post & Publish, my tales of a blogger from a few years ago.

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It’s always a risk with a film about a school shooting, but it was still creepy to surface from watching Elephant to hear about events in Montreal. As with the shooters in the film we’re still at the stage with yesterday’s events where we don’t really know or understand what drove a man to walk into a school and kill one and injure nineteen others.

Elephant doesn’t offer any explanation for the two young gunmen. Sure they play violent (but very simple looking) video games, have a fascination for guns and watch a documentary on Hitler whilst waiting for their weapons to arrive. They’re also gay, or at the very least experimenting, and one is a fairly talented pianist. However, these factors are given as much weight as the fact that one of their schoolmates is a keen photographer and another has a drunken father. They might be important or they might not, it’s up to the viewer to decide.

The film’s style is non-mainstream. Long tracking shots follow characters as they walk the halls and go about their everyday lives. More than once we loop back to see a scene from a different perspective. For an hour we’re getting to know a little about these kids, like we’re watching some sort of documentary. But the viewer knows what is coming and, as with the old school ensemble disaster movies, can’t help but wonder who will live and who will die. That their troubles are, mostly, so trivial makes them more real than having a gang of OC types with story arcs that can only be resolved by the sudden arrival of a skinny geek with a Tec-9.

Overall, not for someone who wants to be told why America’s youth keep killing each other or is looking for slick storytelling and pat characterisation. However, if you want something more this is for you.

On the same subject, but very different- the essential Bowling for Columbine, Warren Ellis’ Hellblazer issue “Shoot” (which I don’t think was published).

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Spinneyhead is dead. Long live Spinneyhead.

You can’t read this.
As I sit here, thumbing this message into my phone, Jay, the server on which Spinneyhead resides, is comatose. It succumbed to heat stroke on Monday and awaits ministration, and probably a new fan, in a dark corner of a room.
I’m in limbo as well. We’re moving to Crewe next month for Clare’s new job. My job hunting is hampered by this. A month’s temping would be good, but unlikely, and my search for Crewe based jobs has been fruitless so far.
I’m working on growing Spinneyhead’s long tail (currently docked) with small products that sell occasionally. However, the empire’s main income is still from advertising. Thankfully Jay’s affliction hasn’t affected how to save the world for free, but it has hit Scale, the surprise top performer in terms of dollars per thousand visitors. Spinneyhead itself earns me practically nothing, but it remains the heart of the empire.
Which has led me to consider a few changes around here. Funded by my next Adsense payment Scale, as Small Scale Customs, will find itself a new home. It will take its anorak’d sibling Steam Geek with it. Spinneyhead will probably get a higher proportion of original material and fewer posts that are just links, fewer updates but hopefully more content. I’m going to trim my RSS feeds and restrict my news searches to Green and modelling subjects. All of which should hopefully garner me more time to stretch the tail and more money so I can get closer to the dream of working for myself.

A trip into the Daily-Mailiverse

Just a few Daily Mail stories from the last few days.

Holy diversity! Look what’s happened to Batwoman

Holy sad comics news story cliche number one!

The new Batwoman is to be a “buxom socialite” lesbian and (Gasp! Choke!) comics in general are becoming a bit less white.

(Wikipedia’s Batwoman page)

Harry Potter heroine ‘encourages violence in girls’

I haven’t read the books, but I have seen the films and Hermione is portrayed as a geek most of the time. So why isn’t there a shocking rise in girls studying as a result? I think someone has a book to sell.

Professor James Garbarino, author of the book, See Jane Hit: Why Girls Are Growing More Violent and What We Can Do About it

There’s a surprise.

(Harry Potter stuff on Amazon)

Farmer who builds gallows accused of profiting from death

So it would be okay if he did it for charity? From that offended headline they managed to twist the story round to suggest the return of capital punishment mightn’t be so bad, especially for child murderers.

Brown’s billions are ‘sovietising’ the north

Wythenshawe just looks like a gulag, okay. I know, let’s privatise everything.

Downloads of Net porn hit record high

More than nine million men – almost 40 per cent of the adult male population – logged on to sex websites last year, more than four times as many as the estimated two million in 2000.

The number of women downloading Internet porn soared 30 per cent to 1.4million.

So more women are looking at porn but, somehow, it’s only the men who have “unrealistic” expectations because of what they see? Is Britain a country of hot studs with big dicks and perfect six packs?

And no, dear Daily Mail reporter, adult pornography does not lead to child porn addiction.

Why won’t internet bosses stamp out web porn?

Or, rather, “Why won’t they do what we tell them to do?”

Old graves may be used for double burials

The idea involves reopening untended graves more than 75 years old and transferring the remains to a smaller container, which would be buried deeper in the same plot.

Another coffin could then be lowered into the original space.

Why does Ken Loach loathe his country so much?

Because of people like you?

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All Stood Still

The only tan man in a world of black and denim, Sam surveyed Rockworld. There was a statuesque lady in a basque over by the pool tables, lots of large hairy rockers and more than a few of the short cute indie chicks he lusted after. One day, he really had to talk to one of them.

The beer had taken him away from the dislocated feeling that had lingered from Market Street. Now he needed to dance. Where was everyone else?

Out on the dancefloor, hiding behind one of the pillars, the gang were safe from extreme mosh. They were collecting discarded bottles, though. Another lee. Sam tapped one bottle aside, just to see where it rolled. He guessed the rhythm, matching the beat through trial and error. At this time of night everyone was too drunk to mock his geek level lack of coordination.

The playlist boiled down to six or seven songs he recognised, three he didn’t then back to familiar territory. An acceptable ratio. The DJ launched straight into Teen Spirit. Everyone on the dance floor puffed up. Lots of people off were drawn in.

Sam had once had the hair for this song. Now it was too short. It didn’t flap, let alone fly, around his head as he banged. He imagined it growing out on the down swing, swirling round and obscuring his vision on the up.

Everything slowed down, went blurry. The song was driven by a slow strong heartbeat rather than charging anger. The other dancers were dark blurs, black on black on black. All merging together, lost in the trance. Sam was moving as slow, but he could look all around, his eyes spinning in their sockets.

There. In the middle of the dancefloor, a fine, slim shape, the faintest hint of blue. Appearing from nowhere, with a residual glow from the journey. She looked around then walked off, the crowd parting before her. Normal speed rather than the treacle slow of the dancers.

For a moment Sam was distracted. Across the dancefloor, the only other person in focus. Short, dark hair, pale face, an indie chick from his sweetest fantasy. She was staring at him, briefly distracted from the new arrival.

And the music was back, proper speed. Sam staggered, off balanced by the shift. He considered running across the dancefloor, after the blue glowing woman. Or the dark, staring girl. It wasn’t going to work. He could skirt the dancefloor, intercept them at the door.

What he might say didn’t occur to him. He just had to catch up with either of them. The gang were staring as he took off, he didn’t have to look around to know that.

The blue woman was through the door, the people she passed oblivious to her, and turned toward the Rock room. The girl was a few steps ahead of Sam. She had a fitted top and snug jeans. Sam had just seen someone materialise on a crowded dancefloor and he was thinking of cupping a hand and feeling those arse cheeks. His priorities were still in the right place.

Through the Rock room and they still couldn’t catch their vision. Into the PVC room. It was a dead end, maybe now they could get some answers.

Except she wasn’t there. There was a woman in an all white outfit, hot pants, bustier and fishnets, dancing with herself, but no mysterious glowing lady.

The indie chick turned to Sam. She had big brown eyes, pale skin and fine features. If she talked to him he was going to fall in love.

“That’s the second time that’s happened to me today.”

Smitten, Sam could just nod. “Me too.”

Originally published in Cycling on the Pavement. A bit more of my alternate world story.

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