Clint Cherbouger was not an ornithologist. He liked birds for the most part. Mostly ducks. Pigeons were kind of gross and there were too many of them.
Jean-Pierre had been an engineer of Swiss watches. He had retired at forty-five after a very successful, brief career of twenty-two years. The thing on his arm looked like an aqualung. It weighed enough to make him feel it resisting his movements. Its face was extra thick, and the chunky bezel shone like a chrome grille. He had puzzled out its inner intricacies himself; he had made it as complicated as he could do. That had been his goal: the most complicated watch I can make—for no other reason than that. Just to do it.
It was a late spring day in 1981. Ana Severino clocked off early from the paediatrics ward in Hospital de Madrid. The new national healthcare system meant there were more and more staff on the ward, so no-one would notice her leave a few minutes before the end of her shift.
Maya waits on the church stage in an ankle length black dress with white stripes holding a flute. She stares at a giant window covered in coloured plastic panels that play with the light. Looking at all those colours, she can’t tell if outside is cloudy, raining, or sunny. One blue panel has a spider web crack across its surface.
“Reload the story,” Harry said.
“Harry, I just—”
Kenneth sighed and clicked the arrow icon. Their network connection was slow in the mornings and the page reconfigured slowly. First came the bold, enlarged headline, followed by the ads. The smaller print loaded last. Kenneth and Harry skimmed the entire article again but it read the same as before, no updates or revisions of any kind. The suspect is in a blue Volkswagen Passat heading southbound on I-5. Police are urging other motorists to avoid—
Miss Margaret McTuckleberry is incredibly tall, incredibly thin, and incredibly strong. Strong enough that, if she wanted, she could pick up a troublesome visitor to her pub by the scruff of his neck and throw him out of the front door from several paces, sending him sailing straight over the porch and onto the gravel just outside “The Dancing Bear”, perhaps the toughest and most notorious pub of all the pubs in perhaps one of the toughest and most notorious counties of the entire United Kingdom, the county of Kent.
You weren’t yourself, that night.
Usually, when you got back late, you went straight to bed. I’d wait for ten minutes or so, until you’d finished clattering about up there, then creep up the stairs and slip into bed beside you. And then lie awake, staring at the ceiling. Listening to the clock. Tick. Tock. Trying not to wonder where you’d been, and with whom, and what you might’ve got up to.