Tuesday, 15 March 2016

The Floor is Lava




The heat has me by the throat. A white-knuckle grip, squeezing the life from my sweating body. It's hard to tell what is more intense, the lava that gurgles beneath my stone pillar or the competition. When the prize is your life, second place is never an option. The rules are simple: survive.

Ignoring the screams of my body I let my instincts take over; they're all I have now and I have to move. Leaping to a nearby column, I fall short. With one leg dangling, I heave myself up, feeling the blood already gushing down my leg. This will cost me. I look back to the platform I just left and see it crumble from the impact of my competitor's attack. They plummet into the flames with it. One less to worry about.

I check the time and see how little of it we have left. There must be a winner and, with five minutes left, people are going to get desperate. If you can even call us people anymore; we lack humanity, it's a weakness here.

Screaming. Shrill cries of pain erupt as more hopefuls plunge to their fiery demise. My last shreds of morality hope it is a quick death for them. The screams aren't just of pain, there's a war cry. I need to keep moving.

Leaping from surface to surface my tracks are marked with my blood and the wounds made by the ammunition of some mystery savage; I was next.

The heats grip tightens and my head and lungs throb as my heart pounds, fuelled only by adrenaline and a desire to live. I stop paying attention to my route, I need to get away, I wasn't ready to fry. Lunging myself onto a sliver of stone jutting out from the cave wall, I embrace for impact. I'm winded but I have to keep going, I have t-- the platform begins to quake and I cling on as it loosens and slides down the wall at breakneck speed. C r a s h ! Dazed, I find myself lying in the rubble and dust, between a rock and a hard place. This could work. I can wait out the time remaining here. My pursuer must think me dead. There's less than 3 minutes till the hour is done. Then I look up...

As the dust settles I see the shadow of the hunter that lead me here, cornering me in this trap. Through the mirage of heat the figure stands tall and menacing. It could only be Annabelle from Accounting. She's ruthless. She makes her way towards my prison of stone and I see she is not alone. She's teamed up with Henry from HR. I knew they'd had something going on, rumours have been going around the office for weeks! I guess that doesn't matter now, none of it does.

Heaving rocks from off my battered body, I manage to clamber to my feet. They gain momentum as they track me down through this hell-hole. Dodging the wads of paper that are flying all around me, I need to make it to the coffee machine. I can fashion my own peashooter there (I left a pen on top of it yesterday in anticipation).

Suddenly, I'm sideswiped. Annabelle has lurched onto the counter with me with a force that sends us toppling -- that bitch! My trouser leg dips into the lava but it's fine, my foot hasn't touched the ground. We land on an office chair and enter into a violent spin before slamming into the table.

--

At all this commotion Emma enters the break room. She sees Annabelle from Accounting and Gillian from Sales in a strange knot under the table. The rest of her staff is gathered on sofas and counters jeering and chanting; 'what on earth is going on in here!?' Silence falls. In a meek voice Gillian replies, 'err... team building...'

Monday, 7 March 2016

The Time I Searched for the Millennium Bug

December, 1999

Whilst I snow-angeled in Christmas wrapping paper, playing with the boxes my new toys came in and gorging myself on Dairy Milk selection boxes, there was a certain unease in the air; would this be the last Christmas as we knew it? The Millennium Bug -- a flaw in computer systems -- would the clock tick over to 2000? Would data storage sink into disrepair? Would we make it!?

January, 2000

We made it. The computers made it. The apocalypse never came and talks of the Millennium Bug diminished. But what was this bug? Being the nearly-5-year-old-James that I was, I took it upon myself to find out.

Off I went, 'I'm going to the park' I told my parents; they could never know of my daring adventure to find the insect that could still run amuck, they'd never let me go, 'you brave fool! Let someone else go!' they'd cry. It was better this way.

Wrapped in my winter wears, I was prepared for the treacherous journey I would potentially embark upon. Where to start? My knowledge was limited. Luckily, I grew up in a valley and knew where to find bugs. So I went to the park (quite the genius idea, as now I was going to find the bug and I wasn't lying to my parents, so they would still love me).

There were multiple parks to choose from mind you, so I started the best I knew: the closest. This small park consisted of a roundabout, slide, see-saw, tic-tac-toe game and a bench. But I wasn't here for the entertainment of playground apparatus. I meant business. Surrounding the park were trees, not a dense forest but it was a start.

As I entered the greenery I suddenly noticed how alone I was. There was nobody walking through the park, no joyous laughter of children playing. Silence. The wind blew cold and stinging. This wouldn't be for the faint-hearted.

I turned over branches and kicked about leaves, my eyes traced trees from root to tip, studying every inch of bark. Searching. I knew not what this bug would look like but I knew I'd know it when I saw it.

Suddenly, a rustle in the undergrowth. My heart sank to my wellies. Frozen, I stared at the spot that came to life without warning. I'd found it. I'd angered it. Panicked, I ran from the trees, darting across the grass of the playground, it's blades scarred by the feet of adventurers past. I returned home shaken. I'd awoken the bug. I'd doomed us all. Who was I to think that nearly-5-year-old-me was the person for this dangerous mission? My anxiety meant I barely spoke, my curiosity took over. Never again I thought. Back in my room, I hid and played, trying to forget this ordeal, thinking of how I'd have to eventually break the news to my parents.

A few days past and the bug never attacked. No more mention had been made and my conscious had begun to clear. Maybe I hadn't roused it completely from it's slumber? Maybe it feared me and my confidence in seeking it out? Maybe I squished it in my panicked escape? Whatever the case, I daren't mention it. Just incase.

--

I'm 21 now and feel like I could handle the Millennium Bug if it ever tries to attack again. I've never ventured back amongst those trees though.

Friday, 4 March 2016

Thoughts on Dating


I don't know why people date.

I mean, I do it too... but I don't particularly enjoy it.

I'll find myself going out on a series of dates with a series of people and it's all the same thing; who are you? What do you do? Please laugh at my dad jokes! Now, the majority of my dates have been through good ol' Tinder so, adding to the same-old of the dating world comes fan favourite questions such as; 'do you feel like I catfished you with my flattering angles and charming, well edited wit?' and 'how tall did you say you were again?' Quite the repetitive headache indeed.

AND THIS IS ALL THE FIRST DATE!

If you're lucky enough to regularly get at least a second date then please, teach me your ways. I must seem great on paper alone as first dates aren't too hard for me to get if I want one (quite the sad and lonely humble brag). It's the not being completely ghosted by a once keen and willing potential mate that I struggle with.

I think people that date often don't even want relationships, they just want some attention and affection for a while. I'm the exact same. If they're anything like me, they'll be super into their new interest for a couple of weeks and then be so far over it, there will be fresh rumours of human flight. But, this is of course if they reciprocate my newly birthed devotion. If we go on a date, or a couple of dates, and then I'm ghosted, I delve into a pit of self doubt as I'm abandoned by the most recent love of my life; how dare they throw away those 5 days of trivial conversation -- complete savages.

Like I said, most of my dating prospects have been scouted through an app and I've actually only dated one person through the traditional means. I should probably try that out more. I mean, my mum and dad met as my dad walked up to the bar my mum was working behind and asked for 'two pints and a packet of peanuts' and my sister was approached by my brother-in-law in a bar where he threw some ice on the floor and said 'just thought I'd break the ice'.

My last date was initiated by a message that just said 'fuck you're hot'. In my defence, it was a great ego boost and he used the right 'you're'. He also never texted me back though, so there's that too.