Introduction, writing from objects, first draft

18 May


One year at a conference, Jessica attended a lecture about phobias. The speaker’s theory concerned the self-destructive fear that manifests itself as phobia- agoraphobics aren’t so much afraid of being outside as they are afraid of themselves, and what they would do if they were allowed to be free. Standing on the edge of a bridge, she wondered if he had a point.

It was cold up there, uncomfortably so, and she began to regret leaving her coat in the car on the end of the bridge. She briefly contemplated going back for it, perhaps the weight would help her sink, but she knew if she got down now she wouldn’t have the courage to get back up. She braced herself against a pole and closed her eyes.

“I don’t mean to be presumptuous, but if you’re doing what I think you’re doing, I think you should stop”.

Jessica didn’t want to see who the voice came from, to have anyone present for her last moments.

“Do I look like a care what you think?” she yelled over the passing wind.

” You bothered to respond, if you weren’t at least a little interested you would’ve jumped already”

Jessica put one leg on the ground and turned. The man was in this mid 50’s she guessed, with a torn plaid shirt and wrinkled jeans. His work boots were covered in mud.

“I can see that you want to help, but I don’t need saving.”

“Normally I would agree, but in this instance I believe I can be of service. Give me 5 minutes and I’ll throw you over myself.”

“5 minutes”

“5 and 5 five only”

She put both feet on the concrete barrier.

“Ok, you’ve got 5. Make it good”


The Streetlights flickered on and off, moths fell to the ground like a biblical plague where God wasn’t really trying. The dirty brown light illuminated a few dull ovals down the footpath, casting into bright relief a few names scrawled while the concrete was still wet.

Jenny Woz Ere, 83′

There were no houses anywhere nearby, but the sound of dogs barking at some imaginary distance filled the night air. Thomas hoped the sound would be enough to distract any passers-by, but even he knew that was wishful thinking.

Victor dropped his backpack on the ground, and with a groan he leant down to open the front zip. Inside seemed to contain an impossible number of tools and gadgets, like a wizard who’d used all his magic for petty crime. Shoving some rope out of the way he retrieved a long steel pair of bolt cutters, the ends of the blade seemed to shine under the moonlight. He nodded to Thomas, and they pulled the balaclavas over their heads.

The crouched as they ran, checking around them like prisoners for the spotlight that never came. Victor made short work of the inner fence, and they headed for the factory doors.

From close up they could see a burnt-out pile of neon tubes that had once spelled “Jacobson”, and in years gone past the glow would have been impressive. Thomas went to take a piece as a souvenir, but he tripped over something in the dark. Victor reluctantly turned on his torch to check- it was a dogs bowl, encrusted with old bits of food from years of use. If there were still guard dogs here, they figured they don’t have much reason to stick around.

There was faint light at the far end of the floor, and from the plans they’d obtained they knew it had to be from the basement stairs. Victor unbolted the door and light spilled out in front of them, and a low hum came from below. They knew they were close.

Thomas tiptoed across the factory floor, dodging broken machines, empty cans and burned out candles. A second, higher note joined the hum and there was now no mistaking it- the voice was human.

At the far end there was a huddled shape covered in cloth, as many of the old machines were. Victor went to pull it away from the door but something caught his hand. The mass stood, and a great, chalky, hand pulled the muslin away from his head.

“Our Sacrifice” he said with a smile.


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