Grey Dust - Mustard comedy magazine
Grey Dust: An Airport Novel

Writer's Block:
First Chapters From Unwritten Novels

#3: Grey Dust

From the slight indentation in the grey dust which provided his only cover, John Thrust surveyed the bleak, military-like installation before him.

Why had Thorssen Inc., the world's number one manufacturer of picnic hampers, sited their newest manufacturing base in this wilderness? And why the Pentagon levels of security? Tonight he would find out.

The moon cast a gun-metal-blue light on the building's symmetrical grid-like template, reminding him of the design diagram for a new computer processor.

And. Something. Else.

But. What. ?.

The thought gnawed at him as he, in return, chewed it over, his well-exercised mental muscles masticating the issue thoroughly, his brain mentally salivating and digesting like a cerebral super-eating machine.

My God! The layout was identical to that of the Skegness Butlin's where, a lifetime ago, he had spent family holidays. He shivered.

He tweaked the dial of the Tag Yuritt Spectro-analytico-chronometer on his left wrist. Ordinarily, a chronometer is simply a watch costing over £500, but the Tag Yuritt was different.

It responded to his digital ministrations – honed on a thousand women – by simultaneously displaying the time in Tokyo, New York and Saigon. He cursed under his breath; due to a large EEC grant, the Thorssen complex had been built just outside Merthyr Tydfil in South Wales. He adjusted to GMT.

A thin nylon line stretched behind him to his point of access at the perimeter: the result of a sock snagged on the barbed wire fence, but also a metaphor for the chain of events that had brought him here. It had not been easy. Fourteen. Men. Dead. He blamed himself. He should have had the minibus serviced.

He still had another 37 minutes to wait. He would make his move five minutes before the guards changed shift, when they would be at their least effective. Last night, and the two before that, they had been an average of 2.78 minutes late effecting the handover. Amateurs, he thought to himself. Loudly.

Suddenly there was a noise ahead of him. A loudspeaker switched on – another chilling reminder of Butlin's – as floodlights ripped through the dark, eviscerating it like a cat would a mouse. His blood ran cold and sludgy.

Fingering his Kok Schpermatic .45 Penile Compensator, he prepared to sell his life as expensively as possible, with a reserve price of at least 50 henchmen.

A voice, strangely familiar, split the night (still reeling from its feline mauling a few sentences earlier).

"Ahh, the tedious John Thrust! Remove your hand from your Kok and stand up very, very slowly. Resistance is futile. We have anticipated your every move. Did you think it mere coincidence that the slight indentation in the grey dust in which you lie provided the only cover?"

As uniformed guards poured in from all directions, a million thoughts bounced around John Thrust's brain like photons in a hall of mirrors. Could he disarm the nearest guards, using them as a human shield to escape?

At least they knew nothing of Kiroff. But then, neither did he. It would be hard to derive an advantage…

The voice reverberated round and round and up and down, inside the mind of John Thrust. So familiar. So. Very. Familiar. He mentally searched through the millions of unique linguistic/phonetic patterns of every individual he had even been casually introduced to. He found a match. At which point the true awfulness of his situation dawned on him.

"Why? Mother? Why?" he screamed, as, pinioned by his captors, he was dragged from the indentation in the grey dust. A tightly rolled copy of the Time Educational Supplement was applied, brutally, to the base of his skull and everything went a deep, deep grey.

Grey, like the dust.

~ R.A.

Illo: A.M.


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