“Yes, I’ll come in a minute,” Dominic said.
He didn’t mind working from home, really. Not even on days when Rita wasn’t working. He didn’t really even mind looking after the baby. But it did interfere with work, sometimes.
He continued typing – “the uplift in profits that can reasonably be expected from this management rest”
Georgette started screaming.
“Yes alright darling,” he span around in his chair. “Daddy’s here.”
The smell told him that she had made a considerable mess in her nappy, and it took five minutes to change her. After a coffee to calm his nerves, he was ready to start again.
“…can reasonably be expected from this management destccccccccccgggggggggg999999999999”
“Cats!” Dominic sighed, and pressed “ctrl” and “z”. There was a slight noise and the text disappeared.
He sat there, trying to work out where the noise came from, what it was. Georgette carried on gurgling, happily chewing on her teddy bear’s right foot.
“test test test test,” he typed, and then pressed “ctrl” and “z” to undo again. The noise happened again.
It was a small “snick” like sound. He didn’t remember hearing it before. It didn’t sound to be coming through the speakers built into the monitor, or from the ones in the laptop, but more out of the very air itself.
Out of interest, he typed “tes test test” again, and pressed the keys to undo. Sure enough, there was the sound. If you had asked Dominic to spell it, maybe he would have suggested “szkliq” or “cuzhk”, and although neither of those options was right, they didn’t feel altogether wrong either.
A crazy thought came over him. He turned back and looked at Georgette, who appeared to be amusing herself by trying to insert her teddy into her left nostril, and then turned back to the screen.
“tteesstt,” he typed, and then out loud, said “szkliq”.
The text disappeared.
Dominic sat bolt upright, blinking at the screen in disbelief. It seemed as though the world he knew had slipped on its axis, that things he had known were true all his life were revealed to be fiction.
He looked at the screen and started typing madly – “lisuug aoirtqbtwart airutit etiu estiu etriuye tio”.
“Szkliq,” he said.
A smile started to spread over his face. This was something new. Nobody else could do this, anywhere in the world, as far as he knew. Just him.
“Dominic Graham,” he whispered. “You’re a god.”
Georgette giggled in agreement.
Mind racing, he picked up the bouncy chair and put his daughter down in the kitchen. The cat came over, purring, looking for caresses from Georgette’s stubby fingers, and the baby gurgled in appreciation.
Hand shaking, Dominic opened one of the kitchen cupboards and took out a bowl. Leaving the bowl on the counter, he opened the fridge and retrieved one of the eggs from the door. He broke the egg into the bowl. The yolk broke on impact, while white dribbled down from the half shell he retained in his hand.
The egg was sitting in his fingers, whole again.
“I don’t believe this,” he said to nobody in particular.
He opened the fridge door and took out the last egg. Holding one egg in each hand, Dominic broke both eggs into the bowl.
“Szkliq,” he said, looking at his left hand. Suddenly, his left hand was filled with a pristine, unbroken egg. The right hand continued with a shell dripping albumen.
“Szkliq,” he said again. The egg disappeared from his left hand.
He threw the eggshell into the bowl from his right hand and opened the fridge door. Sitting in the egg tray in the door, was an egg.
“It’s taking the lead from what I look at,” he muttered.
“Szkliq szkliq,” he said, and the other egg moved itself back to the fridge.
He picked up the bowl and held it up to the light. It was clean. Grinning, he opened the cupboard and placed it back on the shelf.
“I’m the king of the bloody world.”
Anyone peeping through the curtains would have been surprised to see a man in his early thirties, dancing with a cat, while a baby looked on appreciatively.
Dominic’s night was mainly sleepless. Yvette had wondered what was causing him to be so happy, but he explained it away as having finished the report for the client a day early. It was two in the morning, the bedroom illuminated only by a shaft of orange street lamp light coming through the curtains that he finally had an idea.
Not just an idea – perhaps the idea of his life. Perhaps the one crystal clear sharp idea he’d ever had.
He sat there in bed for a while, watching the back of his wife’s head as she slept.
She had no idea. It would come as a great surprise. They’d be rich. And there would be nothing anyone could do about it.
Yvette left for the day at eight, as usual. He kissed her goodbye, then started making calls.
It was easy enough to get Georgette into the creche for the day – a colleague off sick, he was needed at the office, awfully sorry to change the schedule, but…
The second call was to someone altogether less savoury.
“I need a gun.”
“What sort of gun?” the voice said, warily.
“Any sort.” Dominic replied. “Just for a few hours. I don’t even need it to work.”
“Meet me in an hour. Outside the library, Chapel Street. Bring three hundred.”
“I’m not promising anything, mind,” the voice said. “And if you ain’t there or there’s the pigs -”
“This is on the level.”
The phone clicked off.
Dominic did another little dance around the kitchen. This time, the cat was nowhere to be seen.
The youth in the baseball cap hadn’t changed since the last time Dominic saw him, maybe a year ago. Burberry clothes, expensive trainers, gold chains and terrible acne – the level of poor dress sense he assumed was shared only by low-level celebrities and undercover police officers in comedy shows.
“You got the readies?”
The man in the Burberry cap beckoned with a finger and he followed.
They walked away from the library, round past a primary school, and down an alleyway.
“We’re gonna meet Sarge,” the man in the cap explained. “He’ll take care of you.”
Dominic felt good. In a few hours, he’d be rich if the plan came together. A flash of lightning, somewhere in the distance. Nothing to worry about – nothing could stop him today.
They turned another corner. Dominic felt a tap on his shoulder and turned back.
“There he is,” the man said, pointing up the alley to a huge man playing on his phone.
They walked up to Sarge, who was playing on his phone. He snapped the case shut and turned, slowly to face them.
“You want a shooter?” Sarge asked.
“Just for a few hours,” Dominic nodded. “Doesn’t even have to work.”
“Let’s see the money,” Sarge said.
Dominic reached inside his jacket and pulled out the envelope of cash he’d drawn out of the savings account. Three hundred in notes.
Sarge counted it, slowly.
“All here,” Sarge said. “Come back in two hours.”
“Two hours?” Dominic said. “I’m on a bloody schedule here.”
“Two hours,” Sarge repeated.
“I need the bloody thing now, you fat oaf.”
“Don’t,” said a voice behind him.
“What did you call me?” Sarge rose to full height, his chin now where Dominic’s eye line had been.
“I need it now, you fat slob, not in two hours.”
“No man, no.”
Dominic didn’t see the motion, or really feel what happened. He felt a splash and then the pain came – hot, burning, like a wire applied to his throat. He gasped and fell backwards.
The man in the cap ran in the other direction and Sarge stood there for a moment. Then he sneered, put the envelope in a pocket and walked off.
Dominic put a hand up to his throat and felt the oozing. He gasped with pain touching the site, but then a smile came over him. He reached inside his jacket, pulled out his phone and opened the selfie camera.
The pain was excruciating by now, but he looked into the camera and made the noise.
“Szkliq” he tried to say.
But nothing came out.
Gasping, he fell backwards. The rain started to come down, mixing with the blood and Dominic’s tears.
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