....and off we go!
YOUR NUMBER'S UP
He hadn’t been back to his old place for years. He had left behind a miserable existence to embark on a new life; life as a single person in which he could do as he pleased. His decision to depart had not exactly been a popular one. He walked right away from problems he'd caused, leaving others behind him to sort out the mess. He had resisted all attempts by those he left to contact him; to find him, to help them. To them, he had simply disappeared. But now he was back; back in the room he used to share in happier times. The place was still actually his, and he’d heard that it had been abandoned. He just wanted to have a look.
The door creaked as he pushed it open. There was just an empty space, or so he thought. There was a flapping sound from somewhere in the gloom and he just made out a bird darting out of a broken window. He clicked the light switch on off on off. He hadn’t really expected the power to be on. A shaft of sunlight crossed the room, filled with specks of dancing dust. It settled on an old tape recorder sitting on the floor. As his eyes became accustomed to the darkness and shadows, he realised the old machine was the only thing in the room. Years ago the tapes had played music. Music to dance to, music to sing along to. They were happier times years before he caused his world to collapsed around him.
What happened next took his breath away. As he stood staring at the grimy dusty contraption, the dials suddenly lit up and the spools began to turn. He was transfixed. He could just make out a voice. It was muffled. He couldn’t make out the words; not even sure about the language. Then it became a little clearer. “Hello” an echoing voice shouted. “Hello, hello hello”. Then it started speaking numbers, slowly at first, and low. The numbers kept repeating and the voice began to get higher and higher as the numbers came faster and faster. “Zero six one two two zero one four three - zero six one two two zero one four three” over and over. The same nine numbers. Over and over. “Hello” it screamed again. “Hello” And then the numbers stated again, faster and higher, higher and faster until ….. there was a sizzle, a flash, a bang and the machine expired in a cloud of smoke. He turned around and fled.
Back in the street he wandered aimlessly along as he tried to make sense of what had just transpired. It took his eyes a while to get used to the sunlight. As he squinted at the stomping crowd which rushed and jostled its way past and around him, he suddenly became aware of people saying hello. He had no idea who they were or why. He had lost track of time; what was the time? What day was it? He caught site of a display high up on a building. In bright red digits it displayed the date. Zero six, one two, two zero one four. Those numbers seemed familiar.Of course, they were the ones he had heard earlier. The machine had been reciting the date, June 12 2014. But he had also heard a ninth number, three. He walked the kerb and was about to start crossing the road when a voice called out “Hello, can you tell me the time?”. He looked up at the display again just as it changed from the date to the time. “Yes, it’s three …….”
There was a screech of brakes, screaming all around then - nothing. Silence. And darkness.
When his eyes opened he was in a different place. A grey place where smoke floated in the air, the grass smouldered and flames licked the barren trees. Sinister birds like magpies, only red and black whirled in the sky swooping down to taunt him with their shrill screaching. “Hello” a voice said from somewhere; he couldn’t see where. “We were expecting you”