I it. Just a dialogue, probably confusing, no idea where it's going. Not brilliant. I could've made it better but I'm in a rush and this was a dream. Can never write about dreams especially well. Collaborate if you want.

“What the hell is a kid doing here? Do you remember what source informed us of this place?”

“Anonymous. Suspected something odd was going on due to a face at a barred window in the attic, though nobody has been in or out for near on a week.”

“What’re you doing here, kid?”

“I’m working.”


“My master’s project at the moment is called Operation Combustion. It’s my job. I have to design a ventilator. It has to let the black stuff out and keep the screams in. It’s a really difficult job. I’ve been puzzling over it for days and my master is getting impatient.”

“Might we take the name of your master?”

“Oh, no. I promised never to tell. If I do know it. I haven’t even thought it since I knew, if I knew, and you forget these things easily. It’s not really very important. He’s just my master, and a distant relation, he says. That’s all.”

“If you knew that the lives of a good many people, the health, the livelihood, the families and the jobs of hundreds of people depended on your saying his name, would you say it?”

“I never break a promise.”

“Are you sure about that?”

“Of course. I will never ever ever break any promise I ever ever make. And that’s a promise too.”

“When does this…ventilator need to be ready?”

“At least, he says that it needs to be ready in a few weeks. Well, he says it will be whatever happens, because our stocks are getting smelly and crowded.”


“Yeah, for the combustion.”

“Heh…what warehouse do you keep your stocks in?”

“Rawsbury Street. I don’t know what a Rawsbury is, but it sounds like a raspberry, which is some exotic fruit you can’t get round here,” she said proudly. “And I live on a street. Although I’ve never seen Rawsbury Street. I’ve never been outside this house, Mr Man. Dad says people don’t go out very often, though I see plenty of people walking about from my window. Not that you can really call this a house. I want to live in a house, Mr Man. It’s what I want most of all.”

“What’s your name?”

“I don’t know. I have quite a few. Do you want all of them? Well, there’s Oy-You, and You-Girl, and then there’s That-Bloody-Troglodyte. I don’t know what the second bit means but I know that bloody is a bad word so I think that’s just a nickname.”

“Do you…know whereabouts the combustor will be?”

“Oh, near Rawsbury, I suppose. I know where it is, I think. From my window if you count twenty-three rows of chimneys right on the horizon there it is. Do you know that combusting happens all the time? That’s what chimneys are for. They let out the evil smells. So if it happens in every home and house, it’s sure to be alright, even if it sounds a bit like combined busting, which sounds slightly painful, although I’m not sure why. When you go bust don’t you get angry? When my dad goes bust he goes bright red and sweats like mad. Hey, those chimneys have given me an idea. If combustion happens in homes and the chimney lets the evil fumes out, surely it keeps the screams in as well? So if I just designed an ultra-big chimney, it would work as an ordinary one. I think I’ll have to use that or they’ll be getting impatient and maybe the fumes will infect my mind. That’s the whole point of the combustion, you see.”

“What is?”

“Cleansing the earth of all the rot and mould. Everyone does it. Don’t you?”

“The evil fumes don’t go away when they go out the chimney. You see the white cloud up there, blocking the sun?”

“I don’t usually look up. It’s hard, because the window has squares of wire over it, like a cage, in case the window breaks or gets a leak and the badness comes in. It protects me, you see. And it’s really hard to look upwards unless you move the chest, which is really heavy and I’m not allowed in it, and crouch on the floor in the pile of dust, and then you sneeze much you can’t see anything at all through your tears. And I’ve never seen the sun. They say that the city’s cursed, but after the combustion happens we’ll be able to see it. I can’t wait. The sky’s been white since I remember, and blue and gold sounds a nice change.”

Combustion means burning, and it creates that white smoggy cloud. “Promise not to have anything to do with this combustion, child?”

“I ain’t a child. I can make my own decisions and I ain’t promising to anything I don’t know what’s up first with. I don’t trust you. The only one I trust is my dad, and I haven’t seen him since Tuesday.”

“Wouldn’t you like to come outside, breathe the fresh air, see the light of day, touch the stones of a real house?”

“No, I’ll get some disease of the mind. The air is evil, the light is grey and the stones are cold. I’m not ready yet. Someday I’ll live in a house. Someday I’ll go out. But I got some promises to keep at the moment, so buzz off and leave me to my ventilator.”

“She doesn’t know what she’s involved in.”

“She doesn’t want to know that her dad, whoever he is, is doing wrong. Let’s report to headquarters. Poor kid. She only looks about seven or so.”


But the police detectives were not fated to return to headquarters, nor to report anything at all. They were fated to meet a party of blue-bodied sailors near the docks, and to meet their destinies by way of a hard shove to the left shoulder and a short fall in the darkness of an alley-ditch carved by the now-slime of the old mountain stream.

The End

0 comments about this story Feed