You Wake Up and Remember Your Real Life as an Unemployed Cornflakes Inspector in Welwyn Garden City

Lucian awoke.

"Ding," went the front door. There was a dog barking in the distance. 

Lucian got out of bed and went to answer the door as quickly as he could.

"Thought you'd never answer," said the man with wild hair and a red shiny suit at the front door. "I knew you was in, though. I could hear you snoring. Flipping Norah, it was loud! I've been up since six this morning. What time d'you normally get up, then?"

Your task complete, you get back into your dusty and slightly dented rental and turn the key. As the engine sputters to life, you quickly check your gas gauge. Silently, you curse yourself for letting it run nearly dry.

"Erm, it varies," said Lucian. "I had a project that kept me up until late last night so I was just catching up on a bit of sleep."

"Oh, right. Work nights, do you?" asked the shiny-suited man.

"Yes, well, all different hours - it varies," lied Lucian.

He signed for the package and closed the door again. He looked the the clock. It said 11 o' clock. He felt guilty - shouldn't he be up and about doing stuff? But then what was there to do? It had been different in the old days. He remembered gathering his team together in the mornings and giving them their briefings; he remembered hardly having enough time to have his tea on most days; he remembered the parties at the local Indian restaurant in Welwyn Garden City. He never went into that restaurant now. It felt strange being in there alone instead of with a whole group of people laughing and joking and talking shop and getting slightly tipsy together.

Then that awful letter had arrived.

"Dear Lucian,

On behalf of all of us at Nestlog's HQ, we'd like to thank you and your team for all the hard work and dedication you've put in over the years.

As you know our company is going through a painful but necessary period of restructuring at the moment..."

He refused to let his mind drift back there. Anything was better than that.

    You whip your hand forward, ready to deal with the foe. You come face to face, though the back-light renders the man --woman?-- as a simple black profile. With bravery stitched across your own visage, you hold forward your...

    ...lip chap.

    Damn.

He lay back down in bed. Could he bring back the dog-man and the sweet shop?

Your fun is short-lived, however, as you hear a sound you'd never wanted to hear again as long as you lived - it's the sound of a man panting in between barking like a dog. You look up, your imaginary steering wheel still in your hands, and there is the owner of the Greek farmhouse gasping for breath as he opens the door to the sweet shop.

"Ding," went Lucian's door again. He opened it. It was his mother.

"Oh, Lucian, I'd have thought you'd have got up by now. It's so late - you've slept half the day away! I can't believe you're still in your pyjamas. Your father and I are so worried about you! Have you been looking for other jobs?..."

Stepping up to the door, you tap softly on the door. Once, twice, thrice. Seconds pass. Impatience sets in. You repeat the action, this time louder. Once, twice, thri--- the door opens. This startles you, and, being startled, you reach for the object in your waistband.

"Are you receiving me? Earth calling Lucian?" said his mother, bringing him back down to Earth with a bump.

After Lucian had got up, had a bath, made his mother some tea and listened to all of her ideas about what he should be doing with his life he bade his mother farewell, promising to go round to his parents' place the following evening. That'd give him a whole day to come up with something good.

He was so relieved that the cross-questioning was over, though, that he went to have some cereal. That brought back memories, though, and he felt even more stressed. He needed to have a bit of "him" time to escape from the problems of this world.

As you turn to the west to face the cliffs far above the azure blue waters of the Ionian Sea, the scorching summer sun sets before you in a cascade of golden flame. Wiping the sweat from your brow, you glance around surreptitiously before closing the trunk of your rental car ...

He realised he'd have to get a grip. He'd been day-dreaming solidly for an hour and a half. Or was it two hours? It can't have been more, surely. It was now 3 o' clock. He'd start cleaning and sorting and clearing and tidying.

There was mess everywhere. Part of it was the pile of unopened letters. He opened them. The envelopes were put in a pile of "to be recycled". The letters were separated into "bills", "love letters", "angry letters" and so on. The bills seemed to dominate so he decided to subdivide them into "urgent" and "non-urgent". He then felt that the envelopes needed to be transferred from the "to be recycled" pile into the recycle bin. The place was looking clearer already! There was now more space in the sorting zone (well, his bed, really) to subdivide the subdivisions of bills - he now created a new category for "really quite urgent" and another for just "urgent" and then re-categorised the landline bill from "urgent" to "non-urgent". He looked at it again... perhaps it needed a category of its own because it wasn't actually a red letter so it probably didn't technically qualify as urgent but on the other hand the due date was in three days' time. He shifted the other "non-urgents" to the right - they became the whole of this new, efficient, re-organised and streamlined "non-urgent" pile while the bill for his fixed line became the sole and only member of the shiny new up-to-date just-created ready-to-action "middle" pile.

Satisfied with this he decided to leave the bills there - they were sorted and categorised now so that was a job which could wait until first thing tomorrow morning when he got up.

He then opened up the package that had arrived a few hours ago. This felt like efficiency: opening a package within a few hours of its arriving. The floor was looking a lot clearer now; this new envelope was categorised as "to be recycled" and then transferred to the actual recycling bin.

The contents of the package needed to be looked at so he got his cigarettes out and relaxed as he smoked and enjoyed the movie.

**In a little house in McMullen Street in Welwyn Garden City in Hertfordshire some cigarettes turn the air grey and a movie turns the air blue.

That night the washing-up was done, the blue movie filed alphabetically next to his other "rudies", the recycling bag was actually taken out and its contents transferred to the big recycling wheelie bin outside, the empty glass bottles were washed and placed into the recycling bag ready to be taken out to the wheelie bin another time and one of the "urgent" bills was paid and there was still money left in Lucian's account.

"Dear Lucian,

On behalf of all of us at Nestlog's HQ, we'd like to thank you and your team for all the hard work and dedication you've put in over the years..."

No, not that one.

Your fun is short-lived, however, as you hear a sound you'd never wanted to hear again as long as you lived - it's the sound of a man panting in between barking like a dog. You look up, your imaginary steering wheel still in your hands, and there is the owner of the Greek farmhouse gasping for breath as he opens the door to the sweet shop.

'Ding' goes the door as he enters...


**The grey smoke slowly clears. All the windows of 23, McMullen Street are open. A dream is being dreamt. The real world steps politely back for tonight and lets the world of dreams run this corner of Welwyn Garden City. Reality will be back tomorrow, of course, but for tonight a dog-man barks, the bells of a sweet shop ring, a Greek farmhouse is missing its owner, a train from Kent somehow travels south through London and Lucian is really somebody.

The End

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