Sunday, 24 February 2013

Sunday Sample - The Pub!

What might life be like if you came from a world where the public house drinkery did not exist? If you'd had no exposure to pub mores around the dartboard, the jukebox or even the male toilets? If you'd never been exposed to the chill threat of having to make your exit past the killing ground of the pub car park?

Such a situation faces the main character from the comic scifi time travelling novel "Time After Time". He is from the future, a future where women hold sway and alcohol and violence are both unknown to the males of that society. Unknown, but reputed...

Here is a section of the novel where the assassin travelling back from the future encounters his first pub in the present.

She grabbed his hand and wrenched him forward. The involuntary jolt made him bite his tongue. She stayed behind the end lean-to and extended her head to take a peek out. F-10 tentatively brought two fingers to his wounded glossa.
"That's it, I think they've got bored and left us alone now. Thank heavens for poor attention spans."
"Um?" he said distractedly and with his fingers still in his mouth. She stared at him, trying to evaluate whether she was about to hop from a skillet into a wok. Well that's what aspirational TV cookery programmes could do to a person's terms of reference. She straightened her coat as best she could with one hand and marched them out of the refuse area holding his wrist with her other.
When his tongue had lost some of its tenderness, he inquired as to where they were heading. It was more a vague conversational gambit to test out his wounded organ, rather than providing information for the machinations of his brain to advance a plan for killing her. Everything all in good time. And now was not a good time. Head bowed, he trailed behind her as if he were her dog being walked.
"The pub of course!"
The pub? Was he at last going to experience one of these legendary mystical temples to the cult of man in the flesh? Well, in the bricks and mortar? He swallowed hard. He knew they were places of consecrated holy violence. Seeing what he had already experienced, he could scarce begin to imagine what that might encompass. Apparently the 'car park' was the holy sanctum where the highest rites of orgiastic violence kicked off after the other ceremonials had concluded.
"... Thanks by the way."
"Um, what for?"
"For being in the wrong place at the wrong time!" He looked nonplussed at her as she flashed him a wry smile. "My name's Hayley by the way."
Bingo! It truly was her. What were the chances? Whatever they were, Jolly had calculated them to a remarkable accuracy, so respect was due to him for that. He was so happy he could pass out. Which given the current disposition of various parts of his anatomy, he might have been on the threshold of anyway. But no, he was this close to securing the success of his mission. He had to gather himself. No longer the hangdog expression on his face, he gambolled up to fall in step with Hayley by her side. She responded by gripping him closer, so that their shoulders were touching. A bitter little grin broke across her countenance.
"Insane isn't it, having to run the gauntlet every time you want to go out for a drink? Didn't even want one when I set out from home, but I bloody well need one now. You look as though you do too-"
"-Just... you're cutting off the circulation in my arm!"
"What? Oh sorry!" She released her grip and his numb arm flopped down by his side. He started shaking it to try and get the blood flowing again. It looked like he was trying to throw some robotic dance shapes. She looked at him incredulously, but was beyond forming judgements without the prejudicial prod and warp of alcohol.
"Here we go. Our temporary oasis. Should be relatively peaceful this early in the morning. Thank god for all day opening hours eh?"
He looked up. A squat building sat behind a wire mesh fence. Its once white walls had been almost completely obliterated by graffiti and an enormous sooty scorch mark beneath a boarded up window. The rest of the windows were behind thick steel grilles. There was razor wire along the low slung roof, interspersed with embedded broken glass that was catching the sun as it was beginning to break through the clouds. For a temple, it certainly didn't seem very welcoming of a congregation.
"Looks like the last building left in a city siege doesn't it?" offered Hayley dispassionately. "If the aliens ever landed here as their first taste of Earth, they'd head right on out into the Cosmos again and who could blame them? Well, come on in. I’ll stand you a drink. It’s the least I can do... So, what’s yours then?"
      Alcohol, he was actually going to get to taste the forbidden nectar that was alcohol. He looked around the bar for a menu on any of the tables. None was forthcoming. He did nonetheless, remark that the tables and accompanying stools appeared to be chained to one another and the chain tethered to the floor. "Er, whatever you're having."

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