Finding Damo

The story of a man, his job, two cats and the meaning of success.

Archive for the tag “story”

Just Right

A quick writing exercise that I did this fortnight with my Golden Pen group: update a fairy tale for a modern audience. As always, these stories are whipped up and posted here without too much editing. It’s all about the process, not the end result.

And, for those who are completely out of touch: a Bear in today’s society is a big, hairy, gay man.

Now read on.

Goldy slid the crowbar into the slim gap in the old windowsill and lifted it with a small grunt, hearing the snap of the window latch breaking free. She cast a furtive glance around to make sure nobody was watching and then quickly slid the window open and slithered with a practiced grace through the entry and into the darkened house. Once inside, she stood up and pushed her dirty blonde hair back under her navy hoody. She’d heard that these three were rolling in dosh. There should be enough in here that she could palm off easily. She stood completely still, listening for the sounds of someone inside the two-story house. Nothing.

She’d been casing the place for weeks. Living at the prestigious Armadale address were three men – all apparently single, all very well off. She checked her notes.

Victim 1: “Papa” (likes Hemingway, pretensions to writing) Out Tues, Thur mornings – gym.

Victim 2: “Mama” (cross-dresses on weekends, professional singer) – Works nights. Comes home late Thur. morning.

Victim 3: “Baby” (younger than the other two. At least half a metre taller than the others) – No idea what he does for a living. Early riser – out all day weekdays.

So Thursday morning was the best time. She’d watched Baby leave the house wearing running shorts and a singlet, showing off his massively hairy back and shoulders, and then, knowing the place was empty, had made her way to the window at the side of the house.

Goldy crept to the upstairs study, where she knew there would be a trove of electrical equipment. If she could hack their passwords, she might even be able to sell some of the songs and stories for cash. Inside, she found three computers on three desks. The first was a highly-customised, bright pink desktop, covered in bling.

“Too hot,” she muttered. “I’d never be able to sell that one without it being traced back to me.”

The second was an ancient clunker that didn’t even look like it connected to the Internet.

“Too cold,” she grumbled. “How can they have all this money and still own such a piece of junk!” And then the motherlode.

“Just right!” she gasped. On the third desk was a superb laptop, whirring away with incredible power. It was light enough to fit into her pocket and would sell for top dollar down at the markets. To top all this off, a yellow post-it had the words P: P0rr1dG3. She clicked the mouse, tapped the password into the login screen, and sure enough, was admitted right into Baby’s digital sanctum.

“Brilliant,” she said, shutting the lid and stuffing the laptop into her backpack.

The next stop was the living room. As she tiptoed down the stairs, she smiled at the pictures on the walls. It was definitely a strange living arrangement, between these three gentlemen of leisure. All three were in most of the pictures – scenes by a park, dancing at Mardi Gras, waving at the camera in fancy restaurants. If she wasn’t living on the streets, she’d probably have a good idea of who they were, but she was a bit behind on her popular culture, strangely enough.

In the lounge, she nabbed some more electronics – a couple of iPads, the Playstation, a couple of different screencasters. And once more, she was faced with a decision. Three watches lay neatly on the coffee table. The first was an incredibly beautiful gold watch, intricate and had Hemingway’s face engraved into the band. She hesitated, and then sighed.

“Too hot,” she whispered, sadly. She could probably get some good money for this, but the idea of today was to get easy money, not good money. Again, it was too easy to trace back to her. The second watch she almost immediately dismissed. A simple, digital piece, worn and boring. “Too cold, for sure,” she said. But the third was a treasure. An elegant looking Gucci; worth well over seven thousand dollars, although she’d be lucky to get a grand for it.

“Just right,” she said, grinning and pocketing the piece. As she did, she saw the time and gasped. Eleven o’clock! Mama was due home any time now.

Panicking, she ran back up the stairs. She couldn’t go out the window she came in, it was too obvious. She already knew there wasn’t a back door leading anywhere. Her final option was the upstairs bedroom window. From her reconnaissance of the place, she knew there was a tree within jumping distance that would take her into a neighbouring yard and to safety. You know, if she didn’t plummet to her death first.

She’d just hit the top of the stairs when she heard conversation at the front door. Not just Mama then. Crap. The door to the bedroom was open. She ducked in – and came to a complete stop, stunned.

There were three beds in the room.

“What is it with these guys?” she mused. Downstairs, there was a muted yell. They’d noticed the window. She wouldn’t get out now. Goldy crept quickly to the first bed. It was covered in iron railings and decorated with leather belts and chains. She looked to see whether she could get under the bed, and then stood up quickly, eyes wide.

“Too hard,” she said, shaking her head. The noises downstairs were louder now. They’d found the watch, and there was some loud snarling and a high-pitched sob. Goldy broke into a sweat.

The second bed was a four-poster. Immaculate and covered in lace. She could tell that if she went anywhere near it she would leave clear indentations, giving the game away.

“Too soft.”

The third bed was “Just right!” and Goldy slipped beneath the bed, pulling the already unmade doona cover down to cover her as she cowered and hoped that they would go outside for long enough for her to make her escape.

The three burly men tumbled into the room.

“Someone’s been fiddling around with my watch!” said Papa.

“They nicked my iPad!” cried Mama.

“And my laptop,” growled Baby. “Whoever they are, they’re going to regret stealing from an international wrestling star.”

From beneath the bed, Goldy gave a little squeak of terror. She knew she recognized that one. It was that guy off the TV – world championship wrestler and all-around bad boy.

“I heard something,” said Papa.

“Surround the bed, we’ll tear ‘em apart,” rumbled Baby. Goldy squealed and scrambled out from under the bed, making for the window. Mama grabbed at her, getting the back and a handful of hoody. Utilising years of getting out of bad situations, Goldy squirmed out of her hoody and dashed for the window, which was luckily open.

“Ooh, it’s a girl!” cried Mama.

“Wait, no!” yelled Papa, as the thief leapt up to the sill and dived out. The three of them ran to the window and tussled until they all had a view. Goldy was dangling from a branch, quite a decent leap away from the window. She struggled upwards and then clambered lithely across the branch and down the trunk. She threw one more panicked glance back at them before she disappeared from view.

“Well,” said Papa. “That was exciting.”

“Poor girl,” said Mama. “She should have known Baby was just kidding. We always look out for the homeless kids in the area.”

“Speak for yourself,” Baby said, but his face was sad as he watched the space where Goldy had disappeared. “Ah well, if we see her tomorrow, we’ll give her that hoody back and some money for food, yes?”

“Exactly,” said Papa. “Now, all that excitement has made me hungry. Anyone for breakfast? I’ve made porridge.”

The End.

38-porridge-ala

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May Challenge on WEBook

May Challenge on WEBook

I try to get involved in the WEBook challenge every month. Last month I was runner up. This month I’m going for the iPad 🙂

Better watch out – writing exercise

Back in 2012 I talked about a story idea I had based on a song called Skin Deep, by the Stranglers.

I’m getting back into the writing season, with my Golden Pen club starting up again, so I’m going to start writing small pieces that I can put up here for your viewing pleasure. My rules are that the entire story is written in one sitting and placed up without too much recrimination or reflection. Some of them I will take a good hard look at and change them for publication. Others are simply small pieces of entertainment that I will never take any further.

This is one of those.

If you haven’t heard the song, it goes like this:

It always freaked me out as a kid, and I always watched out for the Skundig (whatever they might be). I present for you, a quick writing expansion of that idea:

Many people tell you that they’re your friend
You believe them
You need them
For what’s round the river bend
Make sure that you’re receiving the signals they send
‘Cause brother you’ve only got two hands to lend
Maybe there’s someone who makes you weep
And some nights loom up ahead
When you’re asleep
Some days there’s things on your mind you should keep
Sometimes it’s tougher to look than to leap
Better watch out for the Skin Deep
– Skin Deep, The Stranglers. 1984

 

I am terrified. They’re coming to get me. The Skundig. When I was young, my parents used to play this song by the Stranglers over and over. It is my bible. It is my saviour. I wrote down the words. This was before the Internet. As many times as I listened, I couldn’t tell what it was I had to look out for. The best I could come up with was Skundig. Better watch out for the Skundig.

I’m at the train station. I haven’t been able to completely remove myself from society. But they could be anyone. A complete stranger, a most trusted friend. I can’t take the chance. Nobody is safe. People watch me when I have to move among them. I flinch from their gaze. They might be trying to brainwash me, sending signals straight into my head. Vigilance is my only weapon. Vigilance and solitude.

Better watch out for the Skundig.

I haven’t slept properly for two months. I don’t shower. It’s too dangerous. I just wish I had more information! These clues are so cryptic. They obviously steal body parts and organs. I think they sedate you with their minds and then cut off your hands. Do they eat them? Do they make more of themselves? Oh God, now I see them as constructs built out of stolen pieces of their victims!

Brother watch out for the Skundig!

Not enough information. I can’t protect myself. Did that “person” just look at my hands? Measuring me up for her replacements? I can’t tell anyone. I can’t trust anyone. I can’t sleep. How can a person live like this? The answer? A person can’t. The Skundig win. Sometimes it’s tougher to look than to leap. Quickly now, before they control my mind. Here comes the express.

“Wait, stop that man, he’s about to -”

Jump!

Death Watch – short story interlude.

NB: This is based on a podcast involving Ricky Gervais and Karl Pilkington. Karl invented a watch that would tell you when you would die (the how of this was never really explored). I loved the idea. This isn’t for publication, but I’m hoping you’ll enjoy this.

2nd NB: I promised that I would start writing a word count for Finding Damo – the novel. I am currently on 8,827 words. Next blog should take me over 9k!

The story:

It was with a certain understandable resignation that Gordon pulled himself out of bed on the morning of his death. It was, he decided, not a good day to die. His head throbbed (aneurism?), his teeth felt as though he’d brushed his teeth with a hamster (poisoning?) and his stomach was roiling uncomfortably (oh gods no, not botulism!). He swung his legs off the bed and sat with his elbows on his knees and his hands over his face, trying to raise the willpower to stand up.

Just under ten hours. He stared blearily at the Pilkington on his wrist. Numbers counted down merrily, mocking him with every cheerful flicker.

9:45.56
9:45.55
9:45.54… 53… 52…

‘Rmph,’ Gordon said. Just under ten hours, and he was wasting time feeling sorry for himself. He had places to be.

After showering and brushing his teeth, Gordon felt better about the day. Not good, but better. His Pilkington Deathwatch had been warning him for weeks that today was the day, so he’d had plenty of time to prepare. His affairs were in order. His lawyer had his will. He’d told everybody he loved that he loved them (it was a depressingly short list). He’d sold his house and with the proceeds, bought himself a first class flight to Sydney to spend the last hours of his life with a girl whose online dating profile said she ‘wanted to hold a man while he died in her arms’. It seemed as good a way to go as any, unless he really did have botulism. But it was unlikely. He felt fine.

Actually, physically, he felt fantastic. There was no dizziness. No more headache. No unexplained aches or twitches. His pulse was within normal parameters. He left his hotel room for the last time in fine form, hopped into the waiting taxi and stared at his life ticking away as the vehicle whipped through the traffic to the airport (horrible car crash? No, too early).

8:23.23… 22… 21…

The taxi driver glanced at him and grunted sympathetically.

‘Last day?’ he asked. Gordon nodded. ‘I always wanted one of those. You know, way I drive? They just too damn expensive. Have you got long? I slow down?’

‘Eight hours and change,’ Gordon said. ‘I assume that means we’re safe.’

‘True. Of course, you maybe only badly hurt, and die later on of complications.’ Gordon heartily wished the driver hadn’t brought up that possibility.

‘Maybe you should slow down a bit then,’ he said. The driver obliged, but soon was back up to his regular breakneck speed, dodging into gaps that really weren’t big enough to fit a cab.

They reached the airport in record time, arriving at the drop off area just as the Pilkington hit eight hours. Gordon’s pulse was definitely over the recommended limits by now and the tip he gave the driver was more thanks for getting him there alive than for the quality of the service.

He had two hours until his flight. With one hour in the air and one hour in the taxi at the other end, that left him four hours with which to spend with the compassionate Carol and her loving arms. He took his time going through security and was escorted to the First Class lounge where he was given a glass of wine and a bowl of peanuts (late onset anaphylaxis?). He picked up a magazine from the pile in front of him and settled back to wait.

Forty-five minutes later (7:02.43… 42…) there was a ping from the departures board and all of the numbers shuffled around. Gordon lowered his magazine and watched with growing dismay as large red letters appeared on the screen next to his flight number.

DELAYED.

No need to stress, he thought. Delayed could be just half an hour. Maybe an hour. Even two would be ok, if Carol was less than worried about the niceties. There was no modified time of departure. He tried to get interested in the article in front of him – something about salt-mining – but his eye was repeatedly drawn to the departures board and that crimson statement:

DELAYED.

Finally, realising he wasn’t going to be able to relax, he stood up and went over to an obliging host.

‘Do you have any idea what’s happening with the plane to Sydney?’ Gordon asked. The host smiled broadly, for no apparent reason.

‘Let me see what I can find out for you, sir!’ He tapped at a computer. His smile faltered somewhat. He picked up a radio, turned his back on me and mumbled into the receiver. I could see the tension forming in his neck as he talked. I almost sympathised. Airline passengers are a cranky lot at the best of times. Having to deal with First Class airline passengers when something goes wrong would be a challenging job in anyone’s view.

And then the Pilkington caught his eye.

6:46.34… 33… 32…

and all sympathy evaporated. He watched the host take a deep breath and turn around, smile fixed firmly on his face.

‘Well, sir…’ he began, but Gordon was having none of it. He shoved his watch in the host’s face.

‘Do you see this? This is my life, slowly ticking away. I have spent an absolute fortune to ensure that I am in the lap of luxury in well under three hours. Her name is Carol. What’s going on?’

‘I am sorry, sir. Honestly I am. There is a fault with the plane. There is no way we will be able to get you to Sydney before. Well, you know.’

‘Are there any other flights? This isn’t an optional experience here. I have been planning this for weeks!’

‘I’m afraid not, sir. The football finals mean that all flights from Melbourne to Sydney are completely booked out. However,’ he added, rustling beneath the desk, ‘given the timely nature of your, er, imminent passing, this might interest you.’ He handed Gordon a brochure, blushing slightly as he did so. Gordon took the brochure, curious in spite of himself.

Join the MILE HIGH club.

‘Die up High,’ Gordon read. ‘This better have something to do with drugs, because if you’re suggesting I spend the last moments of my life in a damn aeroplane, I shall slap you with this brochure.’

‘Some people think it’s a novel experience,’ protested the host, backing away from the counter slightly.

‘You certainly can only do it once,’ Gordon said. ‘So you’re telling me, there’s absolutely no way that I can get to Sydney this afternoon?’

‘I’m afraid not,’ said the host.

‘And I don’t suppose you’ll refund my ticket?’

‘I, ah, well, it says quite specifically in the Terms and Conditions…’ The man was perspiring now. He was dealing with a man with nothing to lose, and Gordon was sure he was cursing whoever added the ‘foreknowledge of death’ clause to the standard terms of the flight booking.

‘Of course it does. Oh settle down. I have no intention of leaping the counter and making you eat this brochure,’ Gordon snapped.

6:43.12… 11… 10…

Yet, he thought.

What to do, he wondered, going back to his seat. He looked up at the host, who was now dealing with another irate would-be-flyer. He could, he supposed, go on a rampage and take as many people with him as he could (death by police shooting while force-feeding pamphlets to a sweating airport worker? Implausible at best). He could take up the airline on their Mile High experience, dying above the clouds in first class. Or he could just go home and die alone, to be found – oh no, wait. He had no home. He didn’t even have a hotel room any more. He looked at the watch with sudden fury.

‘It’s all your fault!’ he hissed at the inanimate object. ‘I didn’t need to know when I would die! Without you, I would be at work, massaging random strangers, and I’d just drop dead of – well, whatever, when the time came. Face-plant into a warm nest of sweaty, pliant, naked rich person. What a way to go.’ Given that alternative, he was happier to be in a First Class lounge at a top notch airport, even if he was going to miss out on Carol. He turned to pick up his glass of wine and almost eskimo-kissed the red-faced man whose face was only millimetres away from his own and who was now staring into his eyes with an expression that could best be described as ‘frantic’.

‘Are you dying today?’ asked the man. His breath was more alcohol than carbon dioxide, and Gordon placed a hand firmly on his chest and pushed him away. Unfortunately, this was Gordon’s watch arm, and the man grabbed his wrist and squinted at the Pilkington. ‘Aha!’

‘What? Why? Let go!’ Gordon said, pulling his hand back. ‘Everybody is more than unusually interested in my death today!’

‘Ah, but it’s not jusht yourrr death, y’see?’ the man said in a drunken slur. ‘Look’t this.’ He held out his arm, displaying his own Pilkington. Gordon read the screen on the device, somewhat unwillingly.

6:42.33… 32… 31.

Surprised, he brought his own Pilkington up beside his accoster’s.

His:

6:42.38…37…36

The drunken man’s:

6:42.25…24…23

‘Well, that’s a coincidence!’ Gordon said with forced brightness. To be honest, the whole concept of dying was starting to be more trouble than it was worth.

‘Co-IN-shidensh?’ the man shouted, drawing looks from around the lounge. ‘Thish is no co-IN-shidensh!’ He was waving his arms around and overbalanced, falling into Gordon and knocking both of their glasses onto the ground. Gordon jumped to his feet.

‘Right. I’m getting out of here!’ he said, and walked up to the counter. ‘If I can’t die in the arms of poor sweet Carol, I may as well try and find someone closer to home.’ A hand clutched his arm. Not again, he thought. The woman next to him was deathly pale, her breathing shallow.

‘Did you say die?’ she said in a high, frightened voice. Sighing, Gordon held up his Pilkington. The woman glanced at it, looked back at his face, and then shrieked and grabbed his wrist. She held up her own. Another Pilkington, of course.

Hers:

6:40.58

His:

6:40.55

Gordon frowned. He gestured at the by now very flustered host.

‘Exactly when are we expected to fly into Sydney?’ Gordon asked, pretty sure he knew the answer.

‘Um,’ said the man, looking at the big company-logo clock on the wall. ‘I would say, if the new schedule is correct, you would land in just under seven hours.’ (fiery explosion due to malfunctioning plane. Ding!) The woman who would share his fate slumped to the floor, her eyes rolled back. The drunk man, listening in from behind, vomited into his wine glass. Gordon sighed once more and turned to the people waiting in the airport lounge.

‘Apparently,’ he said, ‘the flight to Sydney will be met by some calamity involving the death of myself, this gentlemen behind me and the reclining woman below.’ He held up his Pilkington. ‘I’m not sure about the rest of you, but I fully intend to find another way to spend my last hours. I recommend you do the same.’

The first class lounge host was on the phone, yelling into the receiver for security. Gordon picked up his bag and left the first class lounge, dodging panicked rich people as they stampeded for the exit. He looked at his Pilkington. It now read:

21y, 2m, 21d 18:23.12… 11… 10…

(heart attack? Oh, who cares?)

‘Interesting,’ he mused, as the security guards rushed past him and into the lounge. ‘Very interesting.’ He slipped the watch off his wrist and into his pocket and then pulled out his mobile phone. He texted Carol, letting her know he wouldn’t make their date this afternoon, but that if she ever made it to Melbourne, he’d love to catch up. He really didn’t expect a response.

This is not my weekly blog…

Time to see how many people are actually reading this blog! You are now my marketing minions! Spread the word! I’m published and I’m cheap!
http://alfiedog.com/products-page/damian-perry/

I promise I’ll write more sooner rather than later.

Bounce, bounce, I’m so happy!

Every Sparrow – Chapter Five

Side note: A good pen died in the writing of this chapter. A faithful companion who was strong until the finish. It gave its ink so that I might write. I hope  you enjoy this chapter all the more knowing of its sacrifice. R.I.B, my faithful servant, R.I.B.*

The attempt to communicate wasn’t going well.

‘Is this man stupid or insane?’ snapped the head of the communication team. Obviously a construct, although Flip couldn’t place him. The anger gave it away.

‘We’ve greeted him in every language on file,’ the construct continued, ‘and nothing. We’ve tried the basic SETI protocols – mathematical formulas, the Fibonacci sequence, that sort of thing. Nothing. Is he deaf?’

Flip floated closer. The others moved aside, showing her the respect due to a Rider, but their auras showed a certain puzzlement, as she wasn’t an expert in this area in the slightest. With that in mind, she approached with deference, giving the team leader a friendly ping.

‘Excuse my curiosity. He is not responding?’

‘Oh, he knows something is going on. If our historic records on human physiology are correct, he is definitely worried. But he’s not even trying to respond to us.’ The construct moved with agitated jerks, which Flip found most unusual.

‘I am sure, if he heard you, he would respond,’ Flip said. ‘Perhaps he is deaf. What proved successful the last time you did this?’ After all, these were the experts.

The construct went very still.

‘Last time?’ he said. And now Flip was reminded of a mouse that had just seen an owl soar overhead.

‘We have never communicated with a sentient being before, have we?’ Flip asked. The construct twitched.

‘Of course we have. We are in regular contact with the machines –’

‘A sentient biological, I mean. Apologies for the miscommunication.’

‘Well, no,’ the construct said, defensively. The emotional responses were most disconcerting. ‘There are no sentient biological. I mean, until now.’

‘And this one can’t hear our transmissions. Well, start with the basics,’ Flip said. She was aware that her tone was less deferential, but she was also aware that she was never actually dealing with professionals.

‘Have you tried interfacing with his machines?’

‘Of course,’ came the terse reply. ‘A thousand years of parallel technological evolution has changed them beyond our ability to talk to them.’

‘Predictable. It was a slim chance. Can he see you? Have your crew manifested visually?’

There was another, slightly shifty, pause.

‘That was our next step,’ the construct said.

‘Excellent,’ Flip said. ‘And from there, I assume you were going to lead him to the old machines.’

‘Oh, er, yes, to the machines. They will eliminate him and our problems are over!’

A burst of static hiccoughed out of Flip’s mind as she tried to process the scrambles logic of this statement. Constructs really were all insane, she realised.

‘That is one option,’ she said slowly. ‘Or – and this is more likely to be sanctioned by the council – we could ask the machines to speak on our behalf.’

The tension – which would have been immediately evident even to a biological as it hyper-charged the air – dissipated almost instantly. The only dissatisfied member of the crew was the leader.

‘Well, that would work as well, I guess,’ he said, and bobbed off in a sulk.

* Rest In Bin.

Every Sparrow – Chapter 3

Chapter 3

Of course someone else knew about the newcomer. A landing of any kind would be monitored from a thousand different stations around the globe. Even the machines, who her kind generally treated with casual contempt, would have registered the arrival of an intelligent life form.

Still stung by the death of the sparrow, Flip re-examined her decisions again and again. She did not feel anger and her sense of guilt had faded during her trip to the nearest communication centre, but she still experienced what could be called disappointment in her illogical behaviour. As a rider, her first duty should have been to her mount. The only explanation that satisfied her was that the sparrow’s emotions had clouded her judgement. Not an acceptable excuse, but a valid one. She’d felt excitement and fear at the unknown, which had caused her to push the sparrow beyond its limits to fulfill her own curiosity.

Traveling to the communication centre took only milliseconds. As she entered, she bounced off a number of personalities, taking an impression from them of what was happening, but not opening up direct communication with any of them. She was looking for one particular person. And then she saw him. A bright pulse of energy, confident and sharp.

‘Captain!’ she called, and the pulse connected with her.

‘It’s young Ensign Flip, isn’t it?’ he asked, checking her credentials.

‘Just Flip, sir, but yes. I just came from the landing site of the visitor!’

‘Really? Incredible. You must. Tell me all about it. It might be. The answer to. Me getting out of this form and back to my. Ship!’

Flip paused to translate his sentences. She removed a number of periods and gave a cautious affirmative. ‘Could be, Captain. But I really didn’t see much. There was a spherical pod and a fire. That obviously means someone or something has come down from beyond the sky.’

‘It’s called space, Ensign. Flip, eh? I bet you were. A looker before the. Transporter accident. Anyway, from what I hear, it is a. Biped. Human to look at. Dammit! Where is my science officer?’

‘I do not believe he made it to the planet, Captain,’ Flip said. ‘A human! One of us, but with skin and bones and emotions and bodily functions and –‘

‘Spock! Noooooooooooo!’ Kirk howled in a simulated fit of grief and rage. Flip left him to his grief and dawdled closer to the information hub.

Captain Kirk was a construct.

When virtualising the humans left behind after the great Exodus, it became apparent that it wasn’t necessary to use real people as templates. A great number of famous characters and stars from different centuries were so well-documented – with biographies, autobiographies, documentaries, and gossip magazines, not to mention their body of work – that it was possible to recreate a personality from an amalgamation of all this data. To begin with, the creators only authorised recreations for historical research purposes. But with the success of the program, more personalities were added to the accepted lists.

Some would say that virtualising fictional characters was a mistake. To be honest, Flip’s opinion was that all of the constructed (rather than copied) personalities were a little loopy. But to be honest, there was more data on Captain James Tiberius Kirk in world literature than there was on Buddha from the holy texts or the Almighty Bob.

‘Still,’ Flip thought. ‘The man isn’t all there.’ She moved closer to where a number of people were hovering around an information node. From the look of it, a couple of brave souls were about to try to make contact.

Blog. No, Frog. No, blog.

I got married on the weekend. I might even talk about it. But not yet. The reason I mention it is because I had the Monday off to celebrate and came back to work to Parent-Teacher interviews, which lasted until nine at night. Welcome back.

I mention THAT because while we were having dinner during the break, I was sitting with one of the teachers – a Master Storyteller.

‘So my dad was in Borneo and was responsible for getting the Japs out of the country, re-settlement and all that. And there was this one village where they’d killed all of the villagers except for this one guy. And he was a cannibal.
‘No, really.
‘So he was in charge of guiding the Japanese prisoners to their work detail. And every day he’d take out four of them and every day he’d only come back with three.
‘ “Run off in the bush,” he’d tell my father. And seriously, he was Changi thin to start off with, but by the end of the occupation he was quite fat! And Dad always said “We’d get in so much trouble – put up for war crimes – if we let on we knew, so I chose to believe that these guys were running off.’

It was absolutely hilarious. Not so much now that I’m writing it down for an audience who doesn’t know him, but at the time…

Anyway, I got married on the weekend. A gesture of extreme optimism. Because of course, the bees are disappearing and the frogs – well, don’t get me started on the frogs.

There is absolutely no evidence to support the claim that Einstein once said: “If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live. No more bees, no more pollination … no more men!”

But that’s never stopped anyone. And we don’t care that Einstein wasn’t a botanist or a bee-keeper, because he had cool hair and was photographed with his tongue sticking out. But it makes sense. If the bees disappear, nothing pollinates the flowers. No pollination, no fruit or vegies. Animals die. We die. Cockroaches take over the world. And everyone’s happy.

20120505-132803.jpgEspecially the frogs. Cos right now, the frogs aren’t very happy at all! Frogs respirate through their skin. They lay their eggs unprotected in fresh water. They really suck at dealing with pollution. I was walking through a swamp the other day and this frog stuck his tongue out at me. It almost took my eye out. They’re not impressed with our management of the planet.

Conspiracy: the bees are disappearing because of mobile phones. Apparently, all of the signals flying through the air are disrupting their navigational signals. They get lost, like me when there’s no reception. Hence the problem: I can’t find my way around without a phone. They can’t find their way with one.

And yes, this is scattered. I’m not entirely sure I want to talk about my wedding. Finding Damo isn’t about a guy who’s married. It’s about a single guy looking for love. It would be like giving away the ending really, except that this Damo character is fictional.

I can tell you about our wedding night – No! don’t stop reading, I’m not telling you about THAT part of it! I’m just going to have a little conversation about expectation and reality. And before I do that, let me tell you: I love my wife. I loved my wedding weekend. It was pure bliss all the way through and nothing that happened was going to ruin my happiness.

Even so…

We stayed at Carrington House in Daylesford . We stayed there last Feb and had a wonderful time so we thought we’d give them some repeat business. After the wedding we drove up and wandered in, tired and happy and looking forward to our Steam Room.

“Steven?” they asked as we came in.
“Um, no.” we said. “It’s under Shereen. It’s our wedding night.”
You should have seen her face fall.

I know two Shereens. Only two. Ever. But apparently there’s a third one, and she’d turned up 20 minutes before us and the woman had given her our room.

So Carrington House gets the award for being the first hotel in history to DOWNGRADE a couple on their wedding night.

“Of course, we’ll refund you your room and swap you across in the morning.”
Nope. They went off to talk. The guy came back and gave us $50 “The difference in price in the rooms is $20” and he felt like he was being generous. So we stayed in our smaller, boring room, went to the hassle of moving again the next day and lived with it because on our wedding weekend the last thing we wanted was a hassle.

To top it off, they are no longer a bed and breakfast. They don’t do breakfast. The only reason we’d come back to this place. It’s absolutely not worth the money any more, but more importantly, they had the opportunity to do the right thing a number of times that weekend to the wedding couple they’d screwed over, and failed to do so.

So I bag them online. Whee!

20120505-133646.jpgSo we got married on the weekend. I have never felt happier in my life than at the moment that my bride to be came through the chapel doors towards me up the aisle. This is backed up by the photos of me grinning like an absolute idiot.

Hang on, I’ll find my vows:

Shereen, From this day on
I choose you to be my beloved soul mate and wife.

I vow:
to trust and value your opinions, and stand by your actions.
to work for a happy life for both of us;
to listen when you need to talk;
to cherish and encourage you;
to live with you and laugh with you;
to stand by your side and sleep in your arms;
to be joy to your heart and food to your soul;
to bring out the best in you always;
to be the best I can be, just for you;
to celebrate with you in the good times;
to struggle with you in the bad;
to take you in my arms when you need to be held;
to ask for help when I need it, and offer help when necessary;
to be true and faithful;
as we journey together through the rest of our lives.

Of course, I spent the entire time in my head going I’mgettingmarriedI’mgettingmarriedI’mgettingmarriedI’mgettingmarried “I do” I’mgettingmarriedI’mgettingmarriedI’mgettingmarriedI’mgettingmarried “I will!”
I’mgettingmarriedI’mgettingmarriedI’mgettingmarriedI’mgettingmarried– Oh it’s over!

But as I said, I don’t want to talk about the wedding for ages. I will, but it requires fixing my thoughts and trying to get it as perfect as the day itself was.

I will make the comment that it is imperative to prepare your thank you speech before the day. Here’s mine:
20120505-131819.jpg

Hate to love you and leave you, but there’s a bee at the front door asking for a Melway.

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