Richard Pierce

Life, Writing

Day 108

The garden smells of wild onions. In our ignorance, we thought they were just outsized snowdrops. It wasn’t until I mowed them down after I’d tidied up the construction site that our garden is that I realised, as I was engulfed in a fug of onion fumes so strong my eyes wouldn’t stop watering. I have, right by the study, left a strip of about 6 square metres of wild plants to surround the scraggy fir tree that I rescued from the nearby garden centre before last Christmas to hang some Christmas lights from. The two four-metre lengths of solar lights have now become fairy lights that adorn the fence from garden shed 1 down to the house and which come on every night after dark to give the garden some semblance of romance and gentleness. I need light. That’s why I’m glad the sun is out again, although, once I’ve finished this, I’ll start work although it’s a bank holiday. M is working, so I might as well work, too, especially as there is so much to do, and there’s a very busy 4-day “working” week ahead.

It is strange wrapping reality into words and recounting it to whoever might be listening or reading. Does it become more real in the retelling, or is it just a way of making transient memory intransient? Is that even a word? I can’t be bothered to check – the dictionary is behind a load of stored stuff here in the study, and I don’t really like to check the meanings of words online; it seems like cheating somehow.

This morning, I have written myself to past the 75k word mark in The Mortality Code, finally. I’d miscounted the last few days and thought I was approaching 80k, but, even so, I know I’ve still got at least 40k to go. Although I don’t know how this episode of the series (because I am making it into a series of more than three books) will end, I know that I’m not going to let the characters hurry me to a conclusion. I have been too easily swayed by them in the past and rushed to the end without thinking to slow them down and let them be more considered. I’ve done my back stretches. I’ve solved wordle, scholardle, wordle 2, and absurdle. And I can think of more tasks I need to do, but want to keep myself focused. And while I was doing my stretches I realised that I need to do a fix on the most recent two chapters of The Mortality Code that I have written because I had let a character out of my sight and didn’t notice (nothing to do with him being unnoticeable, because he is very noticeable; more to do with the fact that he sometimes is an almost undefinable sort of man who can slip away unnoticed because that’s what he likes to do).

The wars go on around the world. Last night someone let off a load of fireworks somewhere beyond the horizon to the south. It sounded like machine guns and mortars, and startled a huge flock of city gulls which came careening across the sky just as I left the house to check out the source of the firework noise, and flashed past over my head, grey shapes in the dusk, hardly discernible against the missing universe above. Somewhere else they might have been missiles, and I would have been cowering, eyes closed, hoping they wouldn’t hit. Bravery has many manifestations. It doesn’t mean not being afraid.



Aggie unleashed. Aggie a blur across the ground, coat flapping, hurdling across the parked cars, multiples of metres in one bound. Aggie, invisible, hands a configuration of constellations, here, there, everywhere, boots silent, flying tiptoes, whirling. Aggie, faster than wind and light, massive hands taking out the first two within a second of seeing them move. Aggie, limbs whirling without pause, boot in the face of the next still standing, before he’s able to take another breath. Aggie, standing on the three prostrate bodies now, waiting for the fourth, still standing, a gun in his hand. She sees his trigger finger twitch, time slowed down, the short puff of the explosion’s smoke, the dull metal exiting the barrel, its careering parabola calculated to hit Katharina in the back of the head. Aggie stretches, like the goalkeepers she admires, pushes off her right foot across the imaginary goal, eyes on the prize, her coat tails trailing behind her, reaches out with her long left arm, the massive hand leading the way, palm stretched as wide as it can be, and mid-horizontal, catches the bullet, pulls it down from its predestined path. She doesn’t even fall to the ground, doesn’t pull off the victory roll that goalies make when they’ve turned the ball round the post, but rights herself, mid-dive, to land on her left leg, tendons extended to bulging point, changes direction and charges at the gunholder before he can pull the trigger again, pulls him down to the ground, squeezes down on his artery with her right hand, until he, too, joins the unconscious rabble already on the ground. All in the blink of an eye. No-one else has moved.

‘Let’s go,’ she calls across to the other three, rips the stiletto out of her boot, severs four Achilles tendons in passing and in the same motion lifts Katharina off the ground and carries her to the car, rips open the door, drops her on the back seat, throws sandwiches and coffee onto the floor, gets behind the wheel, key still in the ignition, engine now running. ‘Come on!’ The car’s already moving when the others jump in, Marit next to her on the front seat. Aggie puts her foot down and the doors slam shut with the acceleration. ‘Took your time,’ she says as the tires squeal and they head back out onto the tarmac towards the dual carriageway. The radio plays a gentle ballad.

‘What was all that about?’ Marit says.

‘They tried to kill your nan,’ Aggie says. ‘I think you were all too busy getting to know each other better to notice.’

‘But how did they know where we were?’ Katharina says.

‘I don’t have a clue,’ Aggie says. She reaches into her coat pocket, pulls out the bullet, throws it over her shoulder to Zav. ‘What make is it?’

Zav, unsighted, takes several juggles at catching the thing. ‘How…?’

‘Doesn’t matter,’ Aggie says. ‘Just tell me what it is.’

‘Same as the others back in the cathedral. Russian service pistol. Outdated.’ He weighs it in his hand. ‘Aren’t you hurt?’

‘No,’ Aggie says. ‘I don’t get hurt anymore.’

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