Chapter One

‘You’re saying that my manuscript bored you?’ asked Jude with surprise into his phone.

  He tapped it against his ear in agitation.

  ‘And what about the philosophical point I was making, what did you think of that?’

  He rolled his eyes languidly at Lisa and mouthed ‘shit for brains.’ Lisa offered the thinnest of smiles in support and returned to her book.

  ‘What do you mean you didn’t notice it? It was right in front of you the whole time, mate. It informed the entire manuscript.’

  The conversation with Luke was exhausting him. He ran his free hand through his succulent blonde hair, which he always likened to being similar to laying down naked in a bed of giant tulips, and exhaled loudly. Jude Eastwood was a fearsome intellectual, an aspiring revolutionary, who wasn’t used to his theories being contradicted or challenged.

  ‘Well, granted there isn’t much action but there isn’t meant to be. No, I don’t want there to be more action. It’s an intellectual discourse on the purpose of a revolution. It’s not a story about a revolution. Jesus mate, you’ve missed the point entirely. I mean, good heavens, are you suggesting I include the Apocalypse as a sub-plot? You’ve got shit for brains. No, I’m hanging up. I’m hanging up now.’

  He hung up, discarded his phone noisily onto his oak coffee table and molded himself further into his maroon leather sofa, exhausted and irritated. He looked around his apartment searchingly, as though looking for reassurance that he was right. The walls, peppered with mottos and portraits of past dictators, would reassure him that he was infallible. 

  Lisa tried to remain focused on her book but was now distracted. The reach of Jude’s periodical tempers and increasingly violent bouts of irritability were weighing her down. They were getting worse. For all she knew, he was in the mire of the second-draft of his manuscript and its demands and strains were the reason for his anger. She was just his friend, albeit a very close friend, and she knew it was unfair that she, more than anyone, had to witness his vile moods. His contempt for other people was getting worse. People had shit for brains, was his mantra.

  ‘If most people respond to my work like that,’ said Jude, ‘then I have little chance of promoting my message to a wider audience.’

  His reaction was worse than Lisa had expected; he spoke with anger and vitriol and looked exasperated to the point of giving up.

  ‘It’s your own fault for asking Luke to read it. Luke has always been dense,’ she said in an attempt to lighten his mood and reassure him.

  Jude nodded in agreement. Lisa’s words always had a particularly calming effect on him.

  But Jude wasn’t, as he told her, in the midst of finishing his manuscript; he wasn’t suffering writer’s block. Unknown to Lisa and everyone else, he had already sent his work off to several agents and each one had turned it down, saying they refuse to associate themselves with such immoral literature and ideas. It was a work that condemned the way society is run and called for a revolution, stating that people had had enough. Moreover, it promoted the use of weapons and asserted that “sacrifice, in the name of ideology, is a virtue.” The rejections and the failure to spread his message far and wide via social networking websites had disheartened him and compromised his high opinion of himself. Nobody, it seemed, was interested in a young man’s revolution.

   For all his closest allies knew, he was still working on it, refining it before delivering it and inciting an upheaval of society. He needed them to believe in his infallibility. But the truth was that he was losing the energy and the passion for it. It was slipping out of his hands and he knew it. The number of followers and listeners he had once amassed had dwindled. The ones that remained were largely the hardcore ones; those who were up for a bloody fight simply for the sake of having a fight. They lacked intellect and were in awe of Jude.

  Luke’s scathing assessment of his work was the final straw.

  ‘And he calls himself a convert, too. He isn’t one of us,’ he said.

  Lisa shot him a look of surprise and vexation.

  ‘What do you mean, “one of us”? I’m not one of you either.’

  Jude was a neo-Marxist; a staunch socialist who thirsted to be the leader of a new government. Lisa, raised a Christian, refused to become one of his devoted, single-minded followers who would walk through Hell for him if he asked them too; do his menial work for him and even pierce their own beating hearts, all in the name of his ideology. It was an ideology that was unethical to Lisa. It was immoral and threatened to undermine the puritanical, Christian doctrine that had shaped her upbringing. It suggested that man must live by his instincts above all else.

  Jude’s charisma and intellect often left her spellbound but she told herself that that was all. His ideals, she kept telling herself, were immoral. She wanted nothing to do with them. She kept telling herself that she wanted nothing to do with them but she knew them more than most; she knew them inside out and, though she would admit it to no one, some of it appealed to her. The thought unnerved her. Jude wanted to kill in the name of ideology, to overthrow the government and a part of her was attracted to the idea precisely because it was so different, so contradictory to everything she knew and had grown up with – and had become wearisome of. She was weary of the sedate, suburban life that her fiancé, Dan, and her parents had planned for her.

  She began to pack her rucksack away. Jude watched her somberly.

  ‘You’re leaving?’

  ‘I promised Dan we’d have dinner together tonight. For once,’ she said as though with regret.

  Jude smiled.

  ‘For once,’ he repeated with more than a trace of amusement. He wanted her to stay with him tonight; he wanted her to stay with him every night. He found Lisa riveting and intoxicating; he found her beautiful. Her engagement to Dan was a particularly malignant source of displeasure for him. Every time she walked away from his apartment, his heart wrenched. Often he drank to console himself. He knew, deep down, that he loved her and often he would reproach himself for such a weakness that would only distract him from his mission. He told everyone that he didn’t have a conscience; that he didn’t feel emotions as other humans did and thus was superior to everyone; and so it was with horror and bitterness that he accepted to himself that he was in love with her, and it was with still greater horror and soreness that she was unattainable, lost to a man whom he claimed was gravely weak and stupid.

  ‘Did you read my manuscript, though? We haven’t talked about it,’ he intoned with regret.

  ‘I did.’

  Lisa fastened together the tassels of her rucksack.

  ‘Did you understand the message, the theme?’ he asked, speaking rapidly, as though to catch her attention before she departed.

  ‘Yes. God doesn’t exist. There are no absolutes. Everything is relative, yada yada yada,’ she said harshly.

  Jude smirked.

  ‘I think I said a little more than that.’

  ‘You’ve plagiarised Nietzsche just like thousands of others. You’re just another just another apostle of Nietzsche running around thinking that you’re important and original when, in fact, you’re neither. There are many out there like you.’

  ‘Yes, but I practice what I preach,’ he said.

  ‘How?’

  Jude calmly lit a cigarette. He said cigarettes were the divine gift of God, if God were to exist. They could kill you but only if you take them too often. Running would kill you, he would say, if you ran too often. He took a long drag on his cigarette, absorbing its precarious divinity, before dangling it by his side. He looked over at Lisa’s painting that was slumped in the corner, deteriorating in neglect and want. It had been Lisa’s gift to him but he had left it in the corner, saying there was no wall space, and besides, he was redecorating – just not yet. Lisa wanted it back if he wasn’t going to hang it up. It was a gift from her, not from God. It was a gift from a friend.

  ‘You don’t practice what you preach either,’ he said.

  A sigh came from Lisa. She had no time for Jude’s games. She needed to get back to Dan. She had promised him. This time she would be on time. Yet she perched herself on the chair arm.

  ‘Jude, I have no time for this.’

  ‘But you don’t practice what you preach, do you? I mean, you keep going on about how your parents are Christians and you’re a Christian and yet you know, deep down, that its all a facade. A scum-ridden facade that I can see through like clear glass. You’re an illusion to me sometimes. You don’t exist as you claim to exist. You’re a liar and a sham,’ he said heatedly.

  Lisa was shaken, though the pair had been through this routine before.

  ‘My beliefs are private,’ she said quietly. ‘I don’t believe I’ve ever revealed them to you.’

  ‘Oh, you have through certain actions and words,’ he said, evidently amused. ‘I mean, look at your painting down there. You paint subversion and antithesis in all its forms. You paint amorality, lust and avarice. And you’re not condemning it but seemingly praising it. And yet you walk around pretending to be a good Christian.’

  ‘I paint ideas and theories. It doesn’t mean that I embody what I paint.’

  ‘You paint what you feel and desire. You’re suffocating under pious burdens and demands from your parents. Underneath it all are your true drives and desires, remote but certainly within touch. Felt and heard in whispers, if not seen or expressed. I know what you are, my dear. You’re just like me.’

  Jude occasionally felt a strong desire to shake Lisa into self-realisation but it was always to no avail. She continued to deny that she was anything like him. Many people called Jude a madman. They said his theories demonstrated that he was insane and capable of tremendous bouts of psychosis. She never went that far but always distanced herself from resembling him in any way. He was simply too unpredictable for her.

  ‘You don’t know anything, Jude,’ she said. ‘And you can’t preach to me. You write self-improvement manuals yet you don’t adhere to any of the rules and principles yourself. You claim to but you don’t.’

  ‘Okay then, for a bit of fun, tell me which principles and rules I don’t adhere to,’ he said, sitting up with enthusiasm, ‘and I’ll either agree or disagree. Name only the rules and principles that I have created, of course.’

  He puffed away on his cigarette, continuously looking amused, as though it was all a game to him.

  ‘In your manuals you condone terrorism.’

  ‘Agreed.’

  ‘When have you ever practiced terrorism?’

  ‘No, I agree that I urge people to use terrorism.’

  ‘So, you agree that you’ve never practiced terrorism yourself?’

  ‘I agree.’

  ‘So you don’t practice what you preach.’

  ‘If you read my manuscript carefully you will note that I urge terrorism only when necessary, under controlled circumstances, within context and as an end to a beautiful means. I have not yet needed to make use of terrorism,’ he said, feeling superior. He always enjoyed impressing Lisa with his words and thoughts.

  ‘You haven’t made use of anything to meet any of your ends! You sit around all day smoking, eating and drinking. You binge. You’re a binge writer, drinker, smoker, eater. You’re little more than a bum with an unusually high IQ.’

  ‘I like the sound of that. That’s how I might describe myself on my next dating site profile.’

  Lisa sighed loudly, her tired lungs gave all they had to give. She was breathless from speaking rapidly and fighting her corner against Jude Eastwood, one of the greatest minds in the City. She knew she could never overcome him with words and the futility destroyed her. Jude frustrated her more than anyone else. There would be weeks where she would hate him endlessly, infinitely, dismissing him to the black vistas of the Universe because of how inferior he made her feel. It was his untouchable intellect that infuriated her, how he always had a way of slaughtering her battle-worn arguments and appearing right even if he was wrong. Jude saw it all as a bit of amusement. He found most things amusing, even the Universe. He laughed in the face of black vistas.

  I’m going,’ asserted Lisa.

  She made her way to the door while Jude sat reflectively, as though he were mulling something over in his mind. She opened the door, took one last look at Jude, as though expecting a “goodbye” and closed it behind her as she left. He sat and reflected; he knew his bid for a revolution was at an end. Luke’s scathing assessment on his work had been the final straw. Nobody was interested in what he wanted to promote. Not anymore. Neither had he the energy to start over again, with a new angle and a new campaign. In his early youth, he had dreamed of emulating Napoleon and Lenin but setback after setback had caused him to lose his appetite and his drive. Depression and loneliness had begun to overcome him, germinating like a thorn bush until it pricked him from all sides. He had taken to drinking heavily and mulling over in his mind all the regrets he harbored. He was becoming a desperate and tragic figure that acted the part of a swashbuckling philosopher and activist in front of others but lay swamped in his depression whenever alone. Inside he felt the pangs of decay and want. He was a jealous, petulant narcissist. Some knew it; they had seen it and said among themselves that it was the reason he would never be able to carry out a revolution. He was too at the mercy of his passions, too prone to throwing his toys out of his pram if he didn’t get his own way. They said his passions gave way to madness. Many people who had met him and who had once bought into his ideology had since denounced him as a lunatic.

  As Lisa was walking down the corridor, something snapped in his mind and he sprung to life; he hastily put out his cigarette and bolted for his chest of drawers. He opened the top one and pulled out a handgun that he then hid underneath his shirt. He quickly grabbed a jacket and rushed out of the room, catching her up as she was waiting for a lift.

  ‘Lise,’ he called out as he locked his apartment.

  She looked at him and sighed.

  ‘I’m going home,’ she said.

  ‘One moment, I need to show you something,’ he said as he stopped beside her. He put on his jacket. ‘Come with me. I’ll drop you off at Dan’s but first I need to show you something on the way.’

  Lisa rolled her eyes but she knew that she was rolling them at herself. Though she really had to get back to Dan, and though she wanted to, she knew that she would first go with Jude to wherever he was taking her. She was weak and he, for his part, was irresistible when he was inspired. Something was on his mind and she was curious to know what it was.

  ‘I’ll drop you off on the way back,’ he said persuasively. ‘It’ll take a minute.’

  The doors to the lift opened.

  ‘In fact, where I want to take you is kind of on the way back to your place.’

  Jude was driving Lisa to the outskirts of the city. He didn’t say much on their short journey, speaking occasionally in monosyllables, and Lisa noticed how anxious he appeared. It was so at odds with the usual confidence and nauseating bravado he had just exerted back in the apartment. It began to make her feel a degree of anxiety. She watched him focus on the road but, as he travelled rapidly, she sensed that whatever was on his mind was something complex and perhaps even grave. He didn’t emit his usual calm and confidence behind the wheel and she had to tell him when a red light had turned to green.

  ‘Jude, where are we going? I don’t have time for a mystery tour,’ she said wearily as they approached a park.

  ‘We’re nearly there,’ he said, his voice trembling a little.

  He parked up near an entrance to a large park. The area was a few minutes drive from the centre of the city yet it was deserted except for a street cleaner who was seated on a park bench a few hundred yards away, eating with his lunch.

  ‘I’m sorry for the way I reacted earlier,’ said Jude. He rested his hands on the steering wheel, as though he didn’t know what else to do with them. They were shaking a little, something that Lisa noticed.

  ‘I guess it’s the whole Luke thing. I expected better from him. If he doesn’t understand my manuscripts worth to a wider audience, who will? The rest of my followers are too stupid to understand. They just want to start a revolution because they like to fight.’

  His thoughts trailed off as he averted his gaze to the street cleaner. Lisa watched his hands tremble.

  ‘Jude, are you alright?’ she asked.

  He turned to her and smiled.

  ‘Fine. I’m fine, Lisa,’ he replied. He looked at her tenderly before averting his gaze once more to the street cleaner. He suddenly assumed a new confidence as he removed his hands from the wheel and undid his seatbelt. He sat back in his seat and began to scan the view in front of him.

  ‘Imagine this is a city,’ he began. ‘A City, seen from above, is made up of dots. Many faceless, limbless dots. These dots we call people and they move with an almost mathematical precision. If everyone stood still, the area would swell until it exploded like a giant head filled with too much blood.’

  Lisa slouched in her seat and prepared herself for another lecture from Jude. She knew she was going to be late for her meal with Dan and resigned herself to another petty argument about her friendship with Jude. Maybe she would lie to Dan about where she had been.

  ‘So they don’t stand still. They keep moving to make way for the next batch of dots. There are too many people in the world. What was it Marx called them? The surplus army or something. Not enough jobs and too many people. Therefore, a lot of people don’t even have a right to exist.’ As he continued to speak, he began to fix his gaze on the street cleaner who was stupidly eating a sandwich whilst kicking prying birds away with his giant boots.

  ‘There is something charming about living in the part of the city which I happen to inhabit. You get a lot of bohemians milling around. Trouble is, though, most bohemians are ugly bastards. Fucking ugly. I guess you like the bohemians. The artistic, beardy type. Not sure what you saw in Dan, in that case. You know what defines time, don’t you? Change.’ Jude was beginning to build up momentum, he was becoming animated and was talking faster and with greater fervour. ‘Things change. People get older, people die. Some people get sick. Etcetera. Eternity is defined by there being no change. If you’re forty in eternity, you’re forty for eternity. You get me? If you’re rat-ugly in eternity, you’re rat-ugly for eternity. And so on. But you see, from my apartment window, very little actually changes. It strikes me that, from that viewpoint, from that actual point that I’m focusing on, time doesn’t really exist. This pattern now, consisting as it does of this multitude of dots arranged in a geometrically puzzling order, remains so until dusk, when there are no dots. But then at dawn, the arrangement proceeds again. You could say that each dot has a personal identity, and that it goes somewhere to live a life of its own once it leaves my viewpoint but I don’t see it that way. Because it will only return again tomorrow. Each dot belongs to the collective of dots – it cannot exist independently of it.’

  He was talking with great speed and enthusiasm but Lisa detected something wild in his tone, which was reflected in his eyes. He was spitting out his words rather than orating with eloquence and grace as was his usual wont; he was transfixed the whole time on the street cleaner and he had desperation in his delivery that only served to reawaken her earlier anxiety.

  ‘To change the pattern, we need to reprogram the dots so that they don’t keep fucking meeting up all for the sake of me getting a good view each day of a strange, almost unearthly pattern. Because that’s all they’re good for. People don’t have an independent, individual purpose because they’re told  they don’t. I know it’s now an old cliche but they’re all cogs in a machine. They say if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. I don’t give a damn if it’s not broke. It’s just shit and boring.’

  ‘Jude is there any point to this riddle? I have to go home to Dan,’ said Lisa now completely bored and exhausted. She was also unnerved, especially because he had taken them from his apartment to the park evidently just to deliver another of his rousing spiels. She always had a curiosity whenever Jude was inspired, a curiosity which had caused her to be late home for Dan many times. It was a curiosity to see through Jude’s white-hot spiels to the end, to see what amoral point he was making this time. Though she vocally rejected Jude’s ideals, she felt a singular fascination when listening to them. The conclusions of his rhetoric and rants often left her breathless. Sometimes, when he was inspired, his mind would drift  and he wouldn’t finish the point he was making, or he would reach an inadequate conclusion which left Lisa dissatisfied. But often he reached a particularly explosive conclusion that spoke to her in an odd way, so odd and exciting that it made her shiver inside. On this occasion, she was restless and wanted him to take her home. She had never seen him look so wild and tormented by his own words.

  She knew in the back of her mind that she still had to go to the store before heading home to Dan and it was already past three in the afternoon. But she was always prepared to make Dan wait. Yet now she was ready for home. A chill had invaded the car.

  ‘Do you see the street cleaner over there?’ asked Jude.

  ‘Yes.’

  ‘I know his routine. He always comes here for his lunch. He sweeps the shit off the street and then he comes here. He’s the archetypal proletarian that I wrote about in my manuscript. He just drifts aimlessly through life. All he thinks about is food, drink and how much shit can amass on a pavement overnight. The government love people like him. He’s a government darling, as I like to call them. Government darlings do all the menial jobs. They don’t want him them be intellectual because then no one would want to do the menial jobs. People like the street cleaner here are the reason our education system is fucked. Poor schooling, due to lack of government funding, and a diseased gene pool.’

  Jude lifted up his shirt and pulled out his gun.

  ‘The government invests in education, sure, but only in certain areas.’

  He made sure it was loaded.

  ‘This guy down there, for example, would have had no chance at school.’

  He held out the gun in the palm of his hand and looked across at Lisa.

  ‘This is a gun, Lisa,’ he said, his voice descended to a whisper.

  He let her see it. Her alarmed pious eyes saw it lying in the palm of his hand. They saw him stroke and caress it with his free hand, as though it were a dying cat. She looked at him in disbelief, her expression frozen. His gun was taboo and its exposure was getting him excited. He was exposing it to Lisa’s professed innocence, looking for a reaction to its pomposity and stigma. She tried her best to remain calm and not to look horrified or moved by it even slightly. She hoped it was another of Jude’s attention-seeking acts. Another of his inimitable circus acts, his sickening bravado that he got too easily caught up in.

  He looked at her with a smile, as though pushing her for a reaction, a word, anything. She shrugged as nonchalantly as possible but her nerves arrested her muscles and manipulated her movement. It was a half-shrug and a half-shake. She shook inwardly but yet she couldn’t draw her eyes from the weapon, which Jude was twisting and touching as though it was poetry at his fingers.

  ‘Lovely little thing, isn’t it?’ he said quietly.

  ‘If you like that sort of thing,’ she said, her voice quivering.

  Jude smirked.

  ‘It’s loaded, you know. Don’t worry, I’ll be careful. I have a lot of experience with firearms. I bet Dan doesn’t have a gun.’

  ‘I didn’t know you had a gun, to be honest.’

  Jude was fixated by his gun. He was looking at it with tender eyes the way a lover looks at their soul mate.

  ‘There’s a lot you don’t know about me,’ he said with an inane grin.

  His earlier nerves had vanished and now he was overcome by madness. His eyes were bulging, they had become feverish at the sight and touch of the gun. Jude always affirmed that weapons shouldn’t kill people, ideas should. Ideas were bigger than weapons. Weapons were a means to a beautiful end, as important as dress-code, location or time in any harmful endeavour.

  Lisa was petrified. She trusted Jude, who was her friend, but she was gravely unsettled.

  ‘Right, you’ve shown me your gun. Now may I go?’

   ‘One moment.’

  He slowly opened his window and watched the street cleaner who was about a hundred yards away in the distance. The cold November air swept into the car and the deafening shrill of crows overhead trickled down. Jude tested the breeze with his free hand. Lisa watched him, frozen and rigid, wondering what he was about to do. Her eyes were awash with fear and apprehension. He sunk into his seat in an attempt to obscure his face from view and then he lifted his gun and slowly aimed it at the street cleaner. Lisa was immobile, unable, or unwilling, to do anything or say anything to jolt Jude back into reality. She thought she wanted to make a move to bring Jude back to his senses; her conscience told her she had to do something but a morbid, almost sinister and yet frightening curiosity held her back. She was filled with terror but she had a singular, terrifying inclination to see what he would do. Her gaze flitted from Jude to the street cleaner and then back to Jude. She thought about crying out, telling Jude not to do anything stupid.

  Jude pulled the trigger. A muted thud and a muffled cry were heard in the distance. Lisa’s gaze swiftly moved to the street cleaner who was now clutching his abdomen. Jude disposed of his gun in his glove compartment and immediately started his car before slowly accelerating.

  The pair returned to Jude’s apartment after he insisted she join him for a short while because she was shaking and had paled; he couldn’t permit her to go home in that state. She complied without saying anything, dutifully following him up the lift, silent, her expression frozen as though she’d seen a ghost. He sat himself down casually on the sofa and gestured for Lisa to join him.

  ‘Now remember,’ he kept telling her on the journey back, ‘what I did was for ideology. It was to make a point to the government. I haven’t killed him, just wounded him.’

  Yet as she entered the apartment she could smell fresh, burning terror and she could hear in her head the haunted cries of the flesh as it rose with all the horror of a soul leaving its body.

  ‘Don’t do anything silly, like going to the police,’ he had said to her in the car. ‘This is for ideology. He’ll be fine. You’re my friend so don’t do anything silly. I won’t be caught otherwise. He’s just wounded.’

  He kept repeating it to her; ideology. It was something done for ideology, therefore it was pure and therefore there was no need to involve the police. Sacrifice, in the name of ideology, was a virtue.

  ‘The end will justify the means,’ he said, referring to a time in the future when he would become leader of the country.

  All she could hear were cries and screams resounding in her head, their entrails enveloping her, muting her senses and rooting her to the spot. She couldn’t move. She wanted to move but only her eyes were working. They darted from the window to Jude, from Jude to the window, as though the panes of glass were her escape, her portal to normality. Jude was smiling thinly to himself. He was only annoyed that he now had no bullets left.

  ‘Well, come now, come away from the window.’

  Jude was sat on the sofa feeling pleased with himself. Lisa could feel her eyes watering like a fountain that was being pumped with blood. Her body trembled uncontrollably; it was as cold as a glacier. Without thinking, she walked towards the chair. People said Jude was a madman. She never said it. Yet now she had seen him overcome by pure madness. She was stranded in her own cocoon of disbelief and horror. 

  Jude was sat on his sofa with a calm lucidity that suggested that all he’d done was have a play-fight with a friend. He covered his mouth with his gun to politely veil a yawn and then opened a bottle of whiskey as though in celebration. Lisa slumped on the chair. She was pale. Her knotted stomach was like a pit where vomit stirred. She wanted to be sick but was unable to. The apartment had been a place where debates were exchanged on passionate subjects. Now it was a room where bad things happened. Jude was an unhinged madman, people said. He gave free expression to his ideals. She had been caught in his maniacal, narcissistic crossfire. She had witnessed what he did when no one was looking. She was one of his long-serving spectators who had been invited to one of his one-off special shows, shows reserved for VIPs, where he demonstrated his true madness. He lived in a self-absorbed circus.

  ‘What did you do?’ she asked, as though she hadn’t believed what she’d seen. She asked it as though she were disconnected from her body, so faint did she feel. She asked in the vein hope that she had imagined it all.

  ‘I shot him,’ he said brazenly.

  Jude wanted food. He had only whiskey and steak on his mind.

  ‘Why?’

  ‘Ideology.’

  ‘You’ve just killed a man.’

  ‘Wounded. I wounded a man.’

  He began to tap away on his phone as though he hadn’t a care in the world.

  Lisa stared vacantly into nothing. Her skull was like an empty tin can inside which a fly was buzzing around, zooming through the wide open space, trapped and buzzing inanely, without purpose or hope, smashing its head from wall to wall, smashing its face in. It was loud, it was piercing. Her face had clouded over with a whiteness that made her look like a porcelain doll . She wanted to be sick but she was powerless to do anything except sit still and stare, unaware of anything except a frosty, penetrative force of dread.

  Wounded. The word made her feel slightly better. Jude watched her and grew agitated.

  ‘Jesus Lisa, you don’t half get morose over the tiniest of things,’ he said.

  He helped himself to some coffee.

  ‘There are plenty of damned people about. He’ll be attended to soon, sent to the hospital in an ambulance and healed. I was making a statement. A bloodless one. People have to know that I’m serious about this revolution.’

  ‘Why did you have to do it in front of me?’ she asked helplessly.

  He paused.

  ‘I needed a witness. The act would have been worthless without a witness.’

  ‘You think that act has worth?’

  ‘Oh for crying out loud, you’ll never understand a thing.’

  Jude kicked back with his coffee.

  ‘Just stick to Christianity. Go back to Dan and your sedate, suburban life.’

  Jude was angry and frustrated with her reaction. His face had turned scarlet and he gulped his coffee greedily. He was infuriated by what he considered to be her naivety. He always said naivety was the hallmark of religion.

  He made her a coffee to bring some colour to her cheeks. It appeared to work for, within moments, she looked healthier and even lost her vacant stare that was haunting Jude. She quietly said that she had to get back to Dan. She was late and he would ask questions like he always did. Jude made her reassure him that she wouldn’t go to the police. She nodded and said that she wouldn’t. He asked her to say in words that she wouldn’t tell Dan she had been with him and she said she wouldn’t. He repeated to her that the man was simply wounded and would be healed soon. Jude was just making a bold statement of intent and Lisa should not attempt to sabotage his early murmurings for a revolution by speaking about this to anyone.

  When she eventually left, in silence and without a goodbye, Jude covered his hair with a hat and walked out into the streets. He went for a pint of ale. It was just what he needed after what he considered to be a hard day’s work. He sat alone at a table and thought about Lisa. He knew now they had a secret to share; a secret that only they knew. She was bound to him. 

About willtitteringtonwriter

Freelance Writer
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