The Sunshine Blogger Award

It is not often I am lost for words, but a week last Saturday was one of them, because a week last Saturday is when a complete stranger, Anna the Fangirl, nominated This Door is Alarmed for The Sunshine Blogger Award. I am touched beyond words! I send smiles to you across the drift of space to wherever you may currently reside in the world! This blog stands among giants in its tender first weeks, so it is a terrific honour that it has been considered worthy so young!

I checked out Anna’s site and it tugged gently at one of those immaterial ligaments that says ‘read more, read more’.  It is wonderfully written, with well-voiced and crafted pieces on everything from day-to-day struggles, to books and music. She has a raw, honest, melodious style I think you will all like, so check her out here.

Apparently, this award comes with a few simple rules. I am a little ashamed to admit some little part of me bubbles in anarchic desires when I see a list of rules—I am at a loss as to why. These bubbles leave me split; one-sixteenth of me wants to do anything in my power to circumnavigate the rules, and the rest of me is too lily-livered to contemplate it. Very occasionally, the anarchist breaks out.

So what will it be today?

I will thrash and smother my one-sixteenth, and happily acquiesce, of course! (And not just because Anna seems like such a damned lovely person!) So these are the rules:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog.
  • Answer the 11 questions the blogger asked you.
  • Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post/or on your blog.

I guess I’ve made it to number two! These were Anna’s questions for me, and my answers:

  1. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be and why? Most people wouldn’t guess this, but I am actually a huge travelling enthusiast and have left footprints all over the world, but right now I most want to be transported home for a feline-fuss!
  2. What do you miss most about your childhood? Not much, despite having an excellent upbringing. As a child I felt entombed and frustrated by the mandatory dependences that are intrinsic to childhood. I think that is why I like to quietly wander about the globe so much as an adult.
  3. What is your favourite time of the year/ holiday? I couldn’t say—it’s all homogenous these days. If I had to choose it would be summer, because it is statistically less likely to rain here.
  4. What is your favourite post on your blog? I like the one about language creation , because linguistics and conlanging is a long-term passion of mine. Oddly enough, each post is my least favourite when it is first published, I come around to liking them later.
  5. What are you afraid of? Writing this blog XD
  6. Do you like movies or books better? 100% books, always books. Films mostly bore me. It takes a superb film to drag me out of the entertainment to be had in my own reveries.
  7. What kind of animal would you choose to be your pet? (Real or fictional) You know what I’m going to say: cats, cats, cats! Felines are a female’s best friend!
  8. Are you a morning person or a night owl? Most certainly a morning person. Getting up early is an enema for the brain: sleeping-in leaves thoughts sluggish and wasted. Mornings bring with them the most exquisite contemplations, in my experience; I like to spend at least ten minutes thinking in the morning or I get a bit grumpy!
  9. Would you rather have a fun night out or stay in? Stay in.
  10. Why did you start blogging? It was a solid, anonymous way to get my story to the public. Plus, I find writing a flighty mistress, and highly addictive. Tinkering those finely-tuned rhythms and teasing synonyms until they submit is akin to a complex skill such as oil painting: it galvanises me.
  11. What was the last thing that made you smile? This question caused me to stutter and something like a writers’ block washed over me. Usually the words gush out at such a rate I find even shorthand touch-typing is not sufficient. In sum, this might be the most difficult question you have asked me—but not for the reason you are all thinking—on the contrary, I smile a great deal of the time, and often I’m not even aware I am doing it. It is a strategy I developed when I was young to avoid altercations. Next time you are in a difficult situation with someone, try smiling at them, especially if they are in the wrong; it causes the oddest reaction. It will diffuse almost any tense or potentially vitriolic encounter. So I suppose my answer would be—myself.

Eleven nominated blogs—it took me a long time to choose these—there’s so much great stuff out there!

These are my questions for my nominees:

  1. What is your favourite thing beginning with the letter ‘s’?
  2. What is your quirk?
  3. Of the blogs you follow, which is your favourite and why (please leave a reference to their site, and please choose a blog that you have not nominated)?
  4. What five things do you hope to accomplish in the next five years?
  5. If I was reading a book, with you as the main character, how would the author describe you?
  6. What do you wish you could change about yourself?
  7. Which one famous person (real or fictional) would you like to meet and what would you say or ask?
  8. If you could have a super-power, what would it be?
  9. What are you most proud of?
  10. What is one key thing blogging has taught you?
  11. What question do you wish I had asked you and what is the answer?

7. The Confidence Obsession – Part 2

As soon as I took a seat, the lights faded into complete black. I could not see a thing but the day shining in from the hangar entrance. I thought I could see some papers on top of the desk, but couldn’t be certain. I heard a deathly screech at the end farthest from me as the door was closed and the light cut out. I had never felt more vulnerable.

People say, when one sense is cut out, the others suddenly become more sensitive. This is not true. I heard nothing. I saw nothing. I felt nothing. The only sense partially active was scent, as the familiar smell of sweet men’s shower soap washed over the olfactory.

“You have learned rather a lot about me, haven’t you?” I jumped out of my skin, not expecting a man to speak directly into my ear from behind. I knew it was Him, but how did He manage to walk into the hangar without making a sound? Without his permeating presence? The lights flickered on. Andrew took the seat opposite, his strong, chiselled features softened incongruously in the gentle downlight.

 “And what do you think of all these things you have been—absorbing?” came His voice again, slowly enunciating each plosive, skinning them with a sinister edge.

Every part of me wanted to run—but there was nowhere to go, He had made sure of that. I was a caged lamb confronted by a rage of paper-thin moments. A chord drew thin in my mind, tightening, slickening, pulling together. It became apparent that challenging myself, keeping my head up and maintaining eye contact wasn’t going to cut it on this occasion; I would have to adapt. I would have to add some rules of my own:

  1. Stay planted: focusing on the insolvable is futile. I am here, there is no way out, there is nothing I can do to change that now.
  2. Breathe: a time-old trick. Take a deep breath, take your time.
  3. Take stock of the situation and answer accordingly: something my dad taught me to do when faced with difficult situations head-on. He was advising me to consider the context of my position: why has He brought me here? What could He need with me? What do I know, and what can I find out?

What did I think I knew? I have inferred that Andrew has privacy issues—who else breaks the law to work behind a solid wooden door? I have also learned Andrew suffers from what He calls a ‘medical condition’, and He is paranoid about it—to the point of threatening me. Now he has abducted me to a locked warehouse—a long step from being asking to work behind a solid wooden door—and is trying to gain the initiative through fear.

His previous question pirouetted and peered into me, commandeering my thoughts, his voice running amok in my mind—a blur of black and white type in a sea of sonorous larynx.

What did I think of all these things I had been absorbing?

The plural things rang over and over—what else should I know?

What would my answer be? What did He expect my answer to be? You terrify me, why are you doing this to me? — I think not. I became very aware of the lengthy silence yawning behind us.

Stay planted. Breathe. Take stock of the situation and answer.

 “You are clearly ‘different’ in some way,” I answered.

His manner switched—was he taken off-guard by my answer, by my composure? He took a friendlier, more informal tone. Gone was the terrorisation. It was like some good cop/ bad cop routine. I wondered what His game was, but I did not trust my footing. What had I fallen into?

“How are you enjoying the job?”

Stay planted, breathe, take stock of the situation and answer accordingly.

“It has been satisfactory. Thank you.” Was that what he was expecting? I had to remain calm. His face was a deadpan in the shadows. I maintained eye contact and kept my head up.

“Honestly, it has been a relief having you here, and your presence in the office is—nice,” He said.

‘Nice’ felt like an afterthought. Too many afterthoughts here. What did he really mean?

“You have started a grand job of the filing; I know it was in a bad state, and it needed a professional eye to sort, as you might have guessed, I’ve never been one for filing myself.” He broke a smile.

‘Professional’, was he trying to appease me? His sentence-end wavered, as though he expected an answer. I stayed planted, took a deep breath, and decided a non-question did not require an answer. I had never been wearier of myself. I felt as though I was teetering over a precipice.

“Is there anything I can change to make you want to stay, or to add to your job satisfaction?”

Deep breath. “Everything is fine, thank you for enquiring.” I was impressed with my poise. I couldn’t believe the voice I heard was coming from me. I was possessed with a certainty I had only ever seen in others.

“I have enjoyed having you with us. Most of all, you seem like someone that can be—trusted.” A shadow obscured His face, and the room felt to turn a shade darker. “Am I correct; can I trust you?” He voice had steered, veering into rusty, sharp-edged dead ends.

Could He trust me? Is this something I needed to answer? I fixed my stare solidly on him, despite the feeling that I was looking into the sun, and getting a little close to it for comfort. Stay planted, breathe, take—

At that moment, a black cat jumped onto the table—got to love the felines. Thanks for the save, friend. Breathe.

The cat luxuriated in piercing the moment. She slinked around the table, innocently rubbing her body length against Andrew’s hands and purring in rapid-fire. Andrew glanced at me. Glanced at the cat. Glanced at me. Then His face took a time out; the hardened exterior sheered away revealing his softer undercoat. He gave her a rub. The light was poor, but I could have sworn he broke a smile. So he was a cat person all along. Why would he lie to me about that? He suddenly didn’t seem so sinister. He tried to put the cat onto the floor, but she had other ideas, jumping back up and leaping precariously onto his broad shoulders. Much to Andrew’s displeasure, she settled down, comically lying like a scarf about his shoulders. He attempted to harden his exterior again, to sharpen those edges, but now it struck me as soap opera acting: surface level and unconvincing. In an attempt to save face, he continued as though she was not there. Having a cat lull and preen across his shoulder blades didn’t do anything to reinforce this fear he seemed to wish me to feel, but it did armour me with yet more confidence.

He pushed some papers in front of me. “It is important that you to sign these. It is a NDA—non-disclosure agreement. It requires that you, the party, agree not to disclose confidential information shared or learned about me. Of most importance, its content includes that you will not repeat anything you learn about my activities, and my physical or mental differences to anyone. As you said, I am—different.”

Clearly, there was more I did not know. I didn’t want to sign anything binding me in any way. Nobody is less or more important than me. Head up, make eye contact. Challenge yourself. What did I need to know?

“What do I know, and what would happen if I did tell someone?”

His surprise was evident. Perhaps I had changed since taking the job.

“There would be mass panic if the general public knew there was a person who is different like I am. Nothing good can come from this.”

Did he actually just say that— what did he mean by ‘different’? This might have something to do with the unusual reverberation I felt in the office. If I had ever played poker, then I might have a poker face. I hope I gave nothing away.

“Different?” it was the only thing I could think to say.

 “Yes. As you’ve probably guessed, there’s more to me than meets the eye, and I only tell you this because I have a good intuition on people, and I know I can trust you. Plus—bear in mind it would be my word against yours, and would they believe me, a well-respected businessman, or you, a first-time job secretary?”

Did I fathom a threat between those lines?

He continued, “It’s what humans prefer to do—pretend the scary stuff isn’t happening, so this is no more than a safety precaution, really.” He gestured at the papers, and casually moved them closer, placing a pen atop them and clicking for the nib. He tried once more to remove the cat, but she wriggled out of reach, purring loudly and beginning an acrobatic cleaning routine.

Stay planted, deep breath, take stock of the situation.

“And what would happen if I signed and, say, had too much to drink one night, and let it slip?”

“Don’t worry, you’re too clever to do that, and as I say, it is only a precaution, really.” He smiled a half smile that his eyes refused to follow, and the black cat licked his well-combed fringe into an afro. He did not correct this new hair arrangement despite a teller tick on his upper lip betraying his need. I had to feign a cough to hide my smile. All frightening pretences on his part had made an involuntary feline-inflicted u-turn, sprouted soft pink fluff, and gained an inexplicable tendency for making knitwear or hugging.

It occurred to me, I was better off not signing it. If I sign, he will hold this over me for—well forever, and he would have rights to sue me for more than everything when I have nothing: if I had the confidence not to, he would have to be decent to me for fear that word would get out. What could he possibly, legally do, to make me sign—nothing?

“I choose not to sign. We will have an agreement of trust, beneficial to both parties—as you yourself have just mentioned how very trusting I am.” Was it really me saying this?

Andrew sat farther back in his chair observing me in silence for a moment; His permeating presence showed its face, feeling to echo and play in sinister fashions with the shadows. Eventually He nodded. Sensing her part had been played, the cat leapt off his shoulders, and down onto the floor, leaving Andrew’s hair well-licked, and melded away into the shadows in the stealthy way that cats do. Thanks puss!

The entire room felt to turn towards him as he mustered great reverence once more. The sides of his words were slick and sharp as scythes, and the shadows felt to lean in to catch his every utterance.

“Okay Icarus, you’re not as malleable as I assumed, but I like the fact that you speak your mind, and I like to be wrong occasionally, especially about people.” He took the paper away from me. “I will trust you. We have a verbal agreement. Don’t let me down. Remember, I like to be wrong occasionally, I do not like to be wrong repeatedly.” His last words rang in the air as though a final bell had sounded to mark some ominous ending.

At that point, he smiled, but it wasn’t a real smile. A real smile takes the eyes for a walk and the crinkles remain long after it appeared. This was a smile for my benefit. This was an appeasing smile, a counterfeit because-I-have-to smile, a smile because He had realised I was not malleable, a smile because I freely possessed information—whether for better or worse in the events yet to come. At least one good thing had come from this: I am not malleable I repeated to myself. I never thought that would be a sentence I could both say and mean.

Then, He departed as soundlessly as he had arrived. The hangar door split and screeched as daylight cut in, leaving me blind.

6. The Confidence Obsession – Part 1

I have obsessions. A lot of obsessions, one after another. I think of something I want to learn, or to create or accomplish, and nothing stops me from achieving it. Most of my obsessions are small—learning to touch type or creating my own shorthand, for instance, and some are larger—learning to use Photoshop or learning French, perhaps.

One obsession was by far the most challenging; I wanted to let the layers fall away, I wanted to allow my voice and views to strike out and be known. I was fed-up of feeling like a foreigner in my own film. Something about starting that new job and the strange things that subsequently took place gave me a new lease of life.

“So, what did you learn?” you ask. I learned some techniques to increase my confidence. For those of you who are interested (otherwise do feel free to skip the bullets below!), having carried out some significant research, the advice that struck most useful for me was:

  1. Challenge yourself once a day—and believe it or not, once you’re over the initial shock, it can be exciting rather than terrifying.
  2. Nobody is more important that you: nobody is less important that you.
  3. Walk with your head up—I know this seems inconsequential, but it has made a staggering difference to the way people react to me.
  4. Maintain eye contact—I found this one particularly difficult, as my method has always been to bury myself. Works wonders though!

If I had not chosen to undertake such a challenge at that time, the day I am about to describe would have turned out very differently. There were colossal causes and effects that ricocheted through my life originating in that moment, like the butterfly effect. I can’t help but wonder what life might have been like today if I hadn’t taken on The Confidence Obsession.

20180307_142539It was eight am, and the office was empty: the norm. He seemed to come and go as He pleased. It was becoming more my office than His. I looked at the note He left me on the desk in my stolen shorthand—it still bristled. He had taken my artwork and branded it with his own penmanship. It coiled and surged in facets of rage or unanticipated melancholy. I wrote in an old language all day, in spite of Him. It was far less efficient, but at least this one hadn’t been prematurely torn from my bosom. Little did I know, there was no point to such an inefficient choice, as that day he did not step foot in the office.

I did spend some significant time thinking over our last encounter—his ‘medical condition’. As it happens, I have heard nothing from my readers to confirm any truth in this. Could this be an actual disorder, undocumented, perhaps? Comments are open for your thoughts on the matter.

I did not have long to wonder, as I was soon interrupted by a knock at the door. A huge man in a suit greeted me, very politely—and I’m talking huge. I am not sure how he found a suit to fit his figure. He wasn’t huge fat; he was huge muscular. He eclipsed the doorway, twisting his considerable torso to pass.

“Hello Ma’am,” he said. Who calls anyone Ma’am these days? I am sure I do not count as a ‘Ma’am.’

“I’m sorry, Andrew is not present—right now. Would you like me to take a message?”

“No, I have come for you, on Andrew’s request. Please follow me.”

Before today, before practicing my confidence techniques, I would have followed authority without any question, but today I hovered. Today there were questions I wanted answered. He was colossal in size, but he wasn’t any more important or less important than I was. I deserved my questions answered; I looked him squarely in the eyes and kept my head up.

“Where does Andrew wish me to go?”

“With me—please.” Please was an afterthought, I seem to be getting used to that in this job.

I squared with his eyes once more, challenging myself. “Are you asking me, or telling me?”

Sadly, my chosen confidence techniques did not have the desired effect. Autonomously, he droned the same sentence: “Please, follow me,” avoiding my gaze. Clearly, questions weren’t getting me anywhere on this occasion. Surely, I could not be in trouble, I have done nothing wrong.

Before I knew it, I was being herded by his burly figure through the building. Him always two steps behind me. I felt convicted, and I wasn’t sure why.

“Where are you taking me?”


I imagine years of being drummed into respecting authority figures as a child—and never challenging them—might now be spelling my fate. How many warning signals had I already received in this place? Why did I not listen? I wondered where I was being taken. I am astonished to say, there was a glimmer of curiosity in the reason I followed him; it wasn’t pure sheep-instinct. Perhaps I needed more in a day than the mundane nine-to-five treadmill. A part of me lit like a fuse: a part of me wanted to dissolve back home.

A car pulled up when we reached the outside. I don’t know much about cars, but I knew this one was worth some dosh. It had a chrome figurine standing proudly above the bonnet, and the car shone like it was polished that very morning—not a spec of dirt. It was long and jet black with six doors. The windows were shaded.

“Step into the car Ma’am—please.” Again, please was an afterthought, and Ma’am—really?

A car could take me anywhere. Why was I not being told where? Is this against human rights? Again, a cat’s curiosity took hold, and I stepped in as he held open the door. He did not accompany me. I could have asked any question: where? Why? Or refused point blind. I did not. I would like to say it was down to that childish authority theory, but it was something else—pure curiosity—and I never thought I had that in me. The door shut as I took a seat.

The interior was leather luxury, as expected, but the most unnerving detail was that almost as soon as the wheels moved, the doors clicked locked from the inside and the windows shaded to opaque. Curiosity faded into concern. What situation was I being driven into? In the dimly lit back-end of the cabin, I found drums thrumming in my ears and panic overtaking me.

Not five minutes later, the car came to a stop. I had no idea where. The windows un-misted and I saw an aircraft hangar, its entrance slightly ajar. The car doors opened of their own accord.

“Please step out Ma’am, and make your way into the hangar. You will be greeted there.”

The voice came from a speaker inside the car—automated, or the driver, I had no clue. I could have run another way, I could have refused and demanded to be taken back to the office—this was not in my job description. I did not. For whatever reason, curiosity, fear, the childish need to follow an authoritative voice, I walked into the hangar.

It was dark, but for a metal desk and two chairs opposite one another, lit in the far end of the hangar. I walked towards them, at least having the sense to take the one overlooking the entrance. I felt the need to be stealthy, to find cover, and I crept in a cat-like fashion, but my footsteps sounded like bombs dropping, echoing in the vast interior.

I could have hidden behind a pillar. I could have run out whilst the door was still ajar. I did not.

I felt as though my senses had departed me and I was working on automaton—I am clearly not a survivalist. Do they say cats have nine lives? —if I was a cat, I fear I might have been taking a dire chance on number one.

As soon as I took a seat, the artificial lights faded out, leaving a sliver of day shining in from the hangar entrance. I thought I could see some papers on top of the desk, but couldn’t be certain. I heard a deathly screech at the end farthest from me as the door was closed and the final light cut out. I had never felt more vulnerable.

5. The Shorthand Anomaly

I have a quirk, like most people, and I am a strong believer that quirks are the essential ingredient in a diverse and interesting human race. The quirkier, the better—right? My quirk (or one of them, no doubt) is that I am addicted to the gentle clockworks and intricacies of language. I do not learn languages—I build them and develop writing systems to marry.

I have built languages where morphemes, lexis, phrases and clauses build up to form pictures of planets, solar systems and galaxies. I have made languages that tease grace from nasals and tinker suppleness from trills. I find exhilaration constructing subtleties of tonal variation, or twisting and coercing the channel of air in approximants. Languages can have personality, and fabricated writing systems can emulate them; elegant, soft-touching phonemes cry for graphemes that flow like gently lapping water, conversely, uvulars can be conjured alongside clicks, guttural chokes and hacks into angry phonemic cauldrons, creating foul-sounding curses of languages with wicked harsh graphemes to suit.

People have asked why I bother; told me it is not a useful skill when English is perfectly good. My answer, always—they are my artwork. Artwork does not have to be useful to be beautiful. My languages speak to me on multiple levels (pun not intended!).

There was one very useful outcome from my love of linguistics: I created a shorthand writing system, and it works very well. It makes use of the height of graphemes on a page, and it is fashioned to be legible written backwards or forwards, snaking left and right down the page, so a writer does not have to take his or her hand off the paper. Its beauty is also found in its abbreviations, which elegantly marries with a typed shorthand I have created in parallel.  Its construction is harmony for me. I am extremely proud of my creation. I use it for most writing at work and home, as a time saver. I only use the standard Latin alphabet when I need someone else to be able to read it—which for someone in my position is sadly rare.

Anyway—I digress. Back to the brunt of the story and away from those fiddle-some (but ever so lovable) phonemes! So what does all this have to do with the story? Well, inevitably, He saw it. By ‘Him’, of course I mean Andrew, and by ‘it’ I refer to the shorthand. Eventually it had to happen; I didn’t doubt that. Being such a commanding figure, I didn’t think Andrew would pay it much attention—why would He care as long as I was doing my job? I misjudged Him. He was fascinated. I wasn’t prepared to deal with His reaction. It was like nothing I had witnessed before.

He walked close behind me. I could smell the soap He showered with. I liked it. It reminded me of the long free summer days of childhood—something specific, a memory I couldn’t grasp before it floated away in the lilt of his aroma. As He stood close and analysed my shorthand, He seemed to lose Himself, to let down His guard—people often put down their guard around me. I learn a lot this way. I inadvertently sink into the wallpaper and seem inconsequential. I am not, not to me anyway. I sit and I soak up and I learn about the situations going on around me. Of course, I’ve never said anything about what I have learned in this manner before now, there feels to be an unspoken rule that you just don’t. Please bear with me, because this is where things start to get a bit down the rabbit hole.

I know this will sound far-stretched, absurd perhaps—so on my figurative hands and knees, I beg you to remember the ‘first man to say the world was round’ scenario, and wear your open minded hats. I would be lying if I said I didn’t spend a great deal of time questioning what happened next, I rolled it around like a poorly-formed vowel, hoping it would straighten out—it did not.

Wordlessly, He took a seat, pulled the sheets of my handiwork closer to Himself and examined them. I felt like furniture. He became absorbed in thought, fondly forgetting Himself in a world of arcades and ligatures. Intelligence gasped across His brow.

At this moment—the juncture where interest overtook His self-awareness—the oddest thing took place. The air seemed to electrify, and I am not making cheesy romance metaphors. Have you ever experienced when electricity shorts and hisses or resounds electrically in the air? It was almost exactly like that, but it reverberated within the eardrum, just beneath the threshold of being uncomfortable. The air was alive. I froze up, questioning reality. Nothing prepares you for reacting to a situation like this. What do you say? What do you do? He was clearly absorbed, and seemed to have forgotten Himself. This buzzing disturbance felt to strengthen and lessen, undulating in capricious troughs and arches, and very occasionally it would pop. It was the oddest sensation. I wish I could properly explain it to you: there was no noise; it was a feeling rather than a sound.

As He stood enamoured by my script, mumbling to Himself, I stole a look at Him and it braised me with awe. One thing I have yet to mention, as I was loathe to lower the tone of this revelation and get caught up in all that nonsense, He is the most strikingly good-looking man I have ever been blessed to see. His features were chiselled by a master artisan, his eyes were crystalware of the highest quality. I could go on, I desperately want to, but I won’t. For clarity, this is why I wanted to steel a look at Him, but when I did, I noticed something I had never seen before—He had cover-up on his left temple. Rather a lot of it. How had I not noticed that before? I always pride myself on my observant nature. More importantly, what on Earth could He be covering up? A birthmark, a scar, and why?

There were more birds than usual on the windowsill; there were countless birds behind birds queuing for the desirable ledge spot. There were several different types, all peeping and chirping and staring indoors. I supposed it must have been close to feeding time. Something didn’t make sense to me though—surely, the birds would only come like that, staring into the office, if they were fed at the window, but if Andrew was not fond of birds then surely He wouldn’t feed them? Maybe Andrew isn’t as revered as I assumed, perhaps one of Andrew’s colleagues feeds the birds as a joke to rouse Him. The singing was so loud, between that and the odd distortions going on in the room I could barely hear myself think.

A loud inward breath took my attention away. The buzzing ceased, and I found Andrew looking very closely at me, an accusation hanging on his brow. He felt an awkward need to apologise, “It’s a medical condition,” He mumbled.

“What is ‘a medical condition’?”

“Never mind,” He said, and gave me a knowing look.

I am pretty well read, and I have never heard of a medical condition causing people to reverberate electrically, but I am not a doctor and one person cannot know everything, so I appeal to you, my readers—please get in touch if you have studied medicine (or not) and have ever come across such a phenomenon. I would be very interested to hear from you. My assumption though, is that I will hear nothing.

Andrew and I sat uneasily in silence for the next hour. Just before I left, He said “You will not tell anyone about—my medical condition,” and He gestured around his head, clearly referring to his electrical ‘hum’. The way He uttered those words—it was not a request, it was not a statement. It was a threat.

What was it? Why was He so concerned about this information? It seemed there was a lot more to this man, a lot more that He didn’t want known.

The next morning, I arrived to find a to-do list on the desk written flawlessly in MY shorthand. The day before He had studied it for five minutes and was now a pro? It took me weeks and lots of practice to write it fluently—and I was the one who had created it. I should have felt in awe, I should have felt intrigued, amazed, but I didn’t. I felt robbed, as though He had stolen the heart of me. I stared at the paper as though it was a lover I had lost. My languages are my babies and He took it from me without asking.

4. Him

When reading this and the following entries, I have no doubt, every one of you, to one degree or another, will tinker with the notion that I have a mind made of chunky delusional soup, but I assure you, I am in full control of my mental faculties. For now, I ask you to do no more than humour the possibility of what is to follow. There was a man who first spoke of the Earth as round rather than flat. Simply read with an open mind and ask, what if?

 I thought I was prepared for the moment He might walk through the door—but I don’t think anyone can be prepared for meeting a man like Him. What was I expecting—a man who makes sticky-tac cats? A man who is either disorganised or extremely busy? A man who coughs behind one-way mirrors? At least one redeeming feature is that he is a cat person. Whether good or bad, I didn’t have to wait long to find out who the sticky-tac cat man was; in the afternoon on my second day, He walked in.

After enjoying lengthy stretches of my own company, I find myself distracted by the presence of anyone else whatsoever, but His presence was permeating. On approach, His footsteps felt to echo despite being stealthy silent, causing an involuntary straightening in my back. I shuddered. Perhaps these feelings were pre-meeting anxiety—perhaps it wasn’t—but as he walked in, I felt the air around me distort to some extent, or curve, like light turning a corner. He held a subtle but peculiar magnetism in the room, an omnipresence, which at the time, perturbed me. This aura came parcelled with a sense of awe, and he had yet to utter a word.

Andrew introduced himself and welcomed me. He had the audacity to tell me that He hoped his filing wasn’t ‘too bad’. I mumbled that it was fine, despite my thoughts: He didn’t seem like a man you complained to. He was friendly enough but spoke like twiglets: short and interesting. A silence fell between us, and I felt the lightning terror of a panic attack descend onto me. I used an old high school trick to calm myself. I remembered my list of small talk starters—my saviours. Into the silent tundra, I blurted the first one that came to mind.

“Do you like cats? I like cats.” As soon as the words had left my lips, I realised how my question drew a clashing chord with our circumstances. Andrew looked up from what He was writing, quizzically. I had disturbed him.

“Why would you think that?” he asked. My cheeks filling in crimson, I explained about the sticky-tac cat I found on the desk.

“I have no idea where that came from,” he dismissed, sending us into a conversation cul-de-sac. He went back to his writing, but His eyes remained glued steadily on me as His pen bobbed in use, as though He knew where things were without needing to see them. I don’t like being observed, which is funny, because it’s mostly what I do to others all day. I suppose this was a taste of my own medicine. For over half a minute, I could see his eyes overtly analysing me, prodding and poking: a cat playing with his food. I am sure he knew his stare made me uncomfortable. All the time He stared, His pen continued to scratch in chirography. I figured it was for show, another test? His writing could not be legible or anywhere close to within in the lines. Finally, I could stand his stare no longer. He said so little and I couldn’t read Him.

“Can we open the window, please?” I spoke out, deafening myself in the quiet. I could feel beads of sweat dripping down my chest, drums of the deep thundered in my ears. A little fresh air would be so much better.

“No, you must never open the window—please,” he answered, as though ‘please’ was an afterthought he was unused to making.

I wondered why; it was a very normal request. I turned to look at the line of birds singing on the windowsill. The birds faced into the office, watching us and singing lullabies—goodness knows, I needed a lullaby!

At this dead-end, I quietly delved into the database—what I do best. I don’t know how to deal with every-day people, let alone this man—databases make far more sense. I was pleased He didn’t seem too keen to converse with me either. I believe it was my introversion and reluctance to be involved in conversation of any kind that caused Him to let down his guard to me, and for me to know what I know now. People assume I am inert; I am anything but. I keep my head down, not wishing to be seen, but I observe, listening and absorbing everything. How else does one navigate the boredom of never-ending database entries?

At His arrival, others began knocking and entering the room. He was a flag tower. A flag tower I did not need. Entrants to the office were clearly as perturbed by his presence as I was. Their manner was awkward, their cover-up was like cheap concealer—I could see straight through it. You learn how to recognise the smallest mannerisms when you spend your life watching people and not speaking. People generally overlook me; I am nothing of note: a nobody, and fit the role well.

The birds on the windowsill kept me entertained. There were more of them now, six I counted, proudly peeping a harmony and peering chirpily into the office. I wondered why they observed inwards—I have never seen birds stare into a room before. Perhaps he feeds them. As Andrew spoke to his colleagues, he would move around the office—and this brought out the most hilarious behaviour in the birds, the likes of which I have never seen before; the birds hopped and fluttered back and forth to follow Him. It made me want to laugh. It was especially funny on a couple of occasions when Andrew had to fetch some files from the other end of the office, the birds hopped one way and the other, like sliding units on an abacus, chirruping happily. I had never met birds who liked to play before—nature can be the most perfectly wonderful thing—and he seemed oblivious. Shortly after, He caught me chuckling and I pointed to the line of birds, eight of them now. He walked over and shut the blinds. I guess I have learned he is not an animal person.

He walked out of his office, shutting the door behind him, without sparing a glance in my direction. I didn’t see him again that day.

After he left, I lifted the blind to see if the birds were still there, but they had flown away. To the right were the papers he had been blindly writing on whilst watching me earlier; his writing was flourishing and neat and perfectly within the lines.

3. My First Job

As I delve further into this story, I find I sleep less and less. When I do awaken, I find the sheets damp with sweat.  All I know is that for today, things carry on as normal. I do not know about tomorrow.

You might be wondering why I didn’t pack in the job and run before letting this story loose online? It did cross my mind, and was almost tempting for a while, but the more I thought about it, the more I realised; wherever I went, He would find me. A man like Him would always find me. He is tenacious as steel. I am quiet, like snowdrops. That is why I keep my head down day after average day, fearing the unknown, and running the treadmill as though everything is ordinary.  

On my first day at my first job, I was informed I would be working for one man: managing His records, sending His emails and attending certain functions to act as minute-taker. For the sake of needing a name, let us call this man Andrew. This bears no relation to his actual name.

On arrival, a large man directed me to a large, man’s office: His office. I was left at the closed door without a word or instruction.

There was one thing in particular that struck me about this specific Office door. I was under the impression that office doors (in these days where Health and Safety seems to overrule common sense), are supposed to contain a glass window for the protection of the workers; anything could happen in a room with the door closed and only the furniture as a witness. I thought it was a legal requirement, or some such thing, but his door was solid, completely solid. I considered, either this must be a power statement, or the man had something he needed to hide. This might have been my fifth warning signal.

I knocked the solid wood once, twice. The sound was almost entirely absorbed by its density. I didn’t matter how hard I knocked.



It did occur to me this might have been a test.

Ten or twelve people walked past, one laughing, “You’ve got the wrong office, trust me, you don’t want to go in there!” I was flustered, blushing into the ground I stood on. Flummoxed, I considered the solid door before me, wondering if they were right. How different would my life be today if I had just listened to my gut and walked away?

Standing hopelessly like, I was pulled out of my reveries by a co-worker. “It’s a door, love. You pull the handle and it opens.” Blood pounded to my cheeks for the second time that day. At this rate, the people here are going to think my face is a constant shade of flushed.

The heavy solid wooden door creaked shut behind me.

His office bellowed ‘authoritative bachelor’, in black and white and smart glass. It was central to the building, and spacious, with an area for tea and coffee-making, a smart sitting area of inward-facing settees, and a mini-fridge, but I wouldn’t use the word ‘comfortable’ to describe it. There was only one large glass desk, and only one computer. The computer had never been used, still boasting its newborn peel-able plastic coating. The only plant in the room was a money tree, with a sign ‘Money doesn’t grow on trees.’ I couldn’t decide if that meant he had a sense of humour, or not.

Somehow, although screaming minimalism, there was the incongruence of disorder: the haphazard papers left on the desk, the doodles on the note pad, the sticky-tac fashioned into a cat. (I was pleased he was a cat person; at least there would be one conversation starter. I am spectacularly bad at making small talk.) On the computer keyboard was an informal note with my name on it. It was unnerving to be written to by name by a man to whom I had not yet been introduced. It was probing, as though he knew me to my core when I hadn’t yet lain eyes on him. Had He been the ‘cough’ behind the one-way mirror at my interview?

The note was written in a flourishing, beautiful, affected script, perhaps better described as artwork, but it was not very effective as a communication tool as I could hardly decipher it. It did occur to me that this might also be a test. I couldn’t tell whether the thought of meeting Him made me curious or terrified.

My first task was to organise all his records. I cannot explain to what these records relate, but I can say that I had to sign something to say I would not repeat the content of them to anyone, which I feel is a pertinent detail. I had plenty of experience cataloguing data, and assumed this would be no different. I thought I would create a database for ease of access, key wording each entry. It was a slightly different story when I unlocked the filing cabinets and was flustered in an avalanche of type font number 7. There was more organisation to be found in beach pebbles. Various papers were stuffed in left, right and centre (okay, I embellish, but it would be any librarian’s nightmare, I am sure), I lost hope. This would take a long time. Andrew clearly disliked filing of any kind.

Before I left, I added a few more conversation starters from what I had learned about Him today—it helps me not to panic when meeting new people.

Still, I had not met Him.

2. The Interview

I wrote this post over a month ago, when I pulled an old leather diary out from the farthest, dustiest nook of the study. I have always appreciated diary-writing; it hashtags the days with identity and significance when otherwise they would flow into one another homogenously like trodden leaves, their former richness forgotten underfoot. I catalogued everything in flicks and curves of black Indian ink, and it recently occurred to me these are nothing but stains unless the story is shared.

I lingered on the task, approaching it with feline disquiet, tossing it and turning it and tasting my reasons. I tinkered with the thought of posting it, deleting parts and re-writing others. This public revelation is the most terrifying thing I have ever done, and I do not refer to being ‘published’; I am fortunate enough to have had articles published before, and it was exciting rather than anything else. It is more the content of this, and the posts that will follow, that concern me: the potential dangers involved, and whether anyone will believe its sincerity.

It feels I should set the scene, as much as I can, before I first met Him. Reading the cursive strokes of my former self, I cannot believe how naïve I was.

As I may have mentioned, I am an introverted individual. My ideal job would involve me, in a room, alone, with a list to plough through—but these jobs, as I found, are like needles in haystacks. I like writing, I taught myself shorthand, am able to touch-type and write a killer email: what better job than as an assistant, so I looked up jobs in my local area, not suspecting it would ever lead to this.

I will not tell you where the job was located, or with whom, as I wish to remain as anonymous as possible. The details are not integral to the story.

As I walked in, a man wearing an impeccable suit greeted me, but never gave me his name. Two chairs were located in the corner of the room, at some distance from the desk. He gestured at them, and so I awkwardly screeched their metal legs closer to the table and sat down. He did not take a chair himself.  Being naïve at the time, I was not consciously aware of the hierarchical situation this created, only the effects of it; I felt like a naughty child pulled into the Head Teacher’s office for some wrongdoing or other. The room was austere, the only other furnishing being a large one-way mirror, like the ones in movies. At the time, I never pondered why. This should have been my first warning signal.

I was asked to take a short written test, and was given an oral test of circumstance—‘if X happened would you do A, B, or C’.  At the time, I didn’t see how this was relevant to the job of an assistant. Now I realise they just needed to suss out how I tick. This might have been my second warning light, but I ignored it. Mr Impeccable-Suit also wanted to know about my skills as an organiser; I joked about looking forward to organising something more than my cats, as they never stay in the order I put them in. I thought it was funny: I was wrong.

The interviewer was ruthlessly straight-faced, in his pressed pinstripe. He hummed and scribbled some notes, and by then I felt certain I had been bunked to the bottom of the recall list. Instead of considering the oddities of this interview, I was cringing about my idiocy; I am usually the silent type, but I was certain they were looking for someone more extroverted and had pushed myself well outside my comfort zone. I wished I hadn’t.  Now, I look back and wonder how much Mr Pressed Pinstripe knew, and whether he was privy to what I know now. I never saw him or his impeccable suit again. He did not work for the organisation.

I did not meet Him at the interview—the man I would work for. On enquiry, I was told, “This information cannot be revealed at this time.” This may have been my third smoke signal, but I was naïve, and thought little of it.

On the way out, I couldn’t mistake a cough behind the one-way mirror. Who didn’t want me to see them, and why? I wonder now, whether He had been observing me. I never found out and it was not something you asked.

I am a nervous driver at the best of times, but driving back from that interview, my mind was flooded with ifs and buts, and anything other than the road before me. I vividly remember my first ‘crash’. Its sibilance screamed and thumped between me and everything else, paralysing my grey matter in a loop of replay and terrific noise. All I suffered was a loose bumper, but to say I was shaken would have been an understatement. Usually, I have an excellent memory for people and places, recalling them in vivid shades and clarity, but there was only one thing I remember about the man I hit at the traffic lights—he had a bristling grey moustache, and all I wanted to do was itch my mouth in sympathy. It is funny the details you recall under distress. My quivering hands were less use than mittens, so he wrote my details for me, his grey moustache agitated at the edges, either in frustration or itchiness—for comedy sake I hoped it was itchiness. I am ashamed to admit, I cried a little afterwards—well, rather a lot, actually. I am usually such a careful driver.

All I knew at the time was I had hit a BMW owned by a man with a bristly, grey, agitated moustache, and I really couldn’t afford to hit a BMW owned by a man with a bristly, grey, agitated moustache. I desperately needed this job now, but was certain I wouldn’t get it.

The next morning, I received an ID-withheld call. Possibly the fourth warning signal. I answered it. Beyond my wildest expectations, I was offered the job, to start in two weeks. Being naïve, as I was, and thinking only of my insurance premiums, I accepted it.

1. The Truth is Out

I do not pretend to be a good writer. I do not pretend to be interesting. All I can assure you, is that I have found out a secret, and it has come to the point where I feel I cannot hold it any longer. People deserve to know. This secret has to be told. If this is the only thing you read today, it is possibly the most important thing you will read this decade.

My only request is that I remain anonymous.

It has taken me several years to get to this point. From wondering, to doubting myself, to assurance beyond any whisper of uncertainty, then doubting myself once again, and so on an so forth.

I think it must be normal when uncovering a truth of this gravity, to doubt oneself, to question, and question more. From that moment, it has been a distressing journey. I played with the idea of starting a blog to let the world know, and created one under a pseudonym, but bottled it and wrote about rubbish and travels and filled the pages with distracting pictures. Filling time. It occurred to me that there might well be a real danger in letting this loose to the public. Then I was frightened to write anymore, and that blog grew cobwebs and turned stale.

Significant truths, in my experience, are usually only found—or spoken—by those people born with outstanding confidence, by people with outstanding backgrounds who are involved in everything and are a something to society. I am not this. I am a nobody, and nothing ever happens to nobodies. They are not noteworthy, nobody would read about them after they are gone; they are just another gravestone in another stretch of grass. But something has happened to me and I believe my introversion and distaste for social interaction is the very reason for this.

This is the most difficult thing I have ever done, and the only reason I am doing it is that I finally concluded that truth is more important than one individual is, so please respect my choice to remain anonymous. The conclusion you wish to make on the following entries is up to you.

 Please forgive my intrepid footsteps as I stumble through the first entries and lay down where it all began.