Richard Pierce


Day 166

Oh, sweet relief! I slept for at least seven hours. Even up until recently, I always thought sleep was an unnecessary evil. Sometimes now still think the same. But not this morning. I feel so much better. I’ve mad breakfast, two espressos (that’s my max for the day), done my stretches (10 knees to chest for 30 secs, ten legs stretched out with pointed toes without touching anything, 60 knees to either side of body with knees pointing up), and have already done some work. But I just realised I’ve forgotten to brush my teeth. I’ll catch up on that later. Oh, these glorious mundanities. They feel glorious to me this morning anyway. And the sun is shining and it’s already hot out there in the garden. It felt like a holiday sitting out there with my second coffee and a smoke, watching the poppies sway in the breeze alive with bees. I could just stop there.

I have found my Kindle, and now just need to find a charging cable. The mini keyboard is fully charged. Other things on the to do list outside of work are to create some pre-recorded radio shows for while I’m away, to check I’ve got enough t-shirts and some flip-flops. More mundanities.

Last night, I did manage to find my meditation breathing patterns again, so I closed my eyes and breathed that way until I must have fallen asleep quickly. Night found me unconscious and dreamless. Dreamless sleep is the best because it means I’m not inhabiting any world. Dream walking can be exhausting, and some of the worlds I inhabit in those dream walks are unpleasant and disturbing places, and sometimes so pleasant and exciting I don’t want to leave them. They are inevitably real.

My mind is relatively empty this morning, with a busy day ahead. I’m glad for the emptiness because I can slow time down with it. The planned out parts of the day eat enough time without my mind rushing to consume the rest of the time before it’s even happened.

Another thought, just now, just a single one. Take the ms of Mortality Code on holiday and try to finish it in the two weeks I’m away for. Perhaps. If that mini-keyboard works. But, most of all, read, eat, sleep, forget the world exists. Calm, slow, forgetful.

I’m not forgetting politics, and the racist policies of the government, I’m just not writing about them. I’m leaving activism to my social media for now. And protest is ever-present.



The bullet exits Martin’s gun in slow motion. For Aggie, anyway. She watches its trajectory, the way it twists and spins, the way it picks up slivers of light from the sky, from the sea, and the way the wind pushes it this way and that but doesn’t deflect it from its course towards her forehead. Her eyes are wide open, her arms stretched behind her round Lilibet’s waist, hands on the woman’s hips, and the two of them pirouette as one out of the way of the screaming bullet as it passes over their now horizontal bodies, and skims across the surface of the water behind them.

Martin pulls the trigger again and again and again. The silencer does its work, and the understated pops of the repeated shots are swallowed by the buildings around them while the women dance and swivel and turn and glide and float to unheard music, to a silent beat. More bullets flying out to the horizon and falling harmlessly into the sea. And finally, an empty click onto an empty magazine. Aggie has counted the shots. A 12-shot cartridge, wasted, as Martin, still in slow motion, puts his hand into his jacket pocket, that old tweed so beloved of retired spies and financiers, so beloved of those posturing to be something they’re not, posturing to have meaningless honours and gongs and medals bestowed on them, even if once they were good people. Every man has his price, and every price has its man.

Aggie crashes into Martin before he has time to pull the next cartridge out of his pocket. She’s let go of Lilibet who’s now lying on the ground, curled up, a baby in a broken concrete womb, eyes closed, motionless, scared witless. All movements speed up again as Aggie grabs the old man who’s stronger than he looks, more agile than he pretends to be, more angry than he should be. They tumble to the ground, Aggie on top of him, pinning his arms to the ground, ripping the gun from his grip, throwing it away towards the destitute tea room, the clatter disturbing the desolate night, parting the clouds with its metallic echo, letting the moon look briefly down on the unwholesome wrestling match between an albino giant with dyed hair, and an old Russian with white hair whose face is distorted with hate that comes from nowhere.

‘This isn’t just about Robert, is it?’ Aggie hisses. ‘You’ve been against him all this time, all these years, haven’t you?’ She puts her forearm across his throat and pushes down.

Martin gasps, and his eyes open widely, reflect the stationary moon.

Aggie eases the pressure.

‘You said … you don’t … kill.’

‘Miscalculation, old boy,’ she says in her best upper class accent. ‘Answer the question.’ She isn’t out of breath, is never out of breath.

‘Think what you want,’ he says.

Aggie pushes down again, although his gurgling gasps make her sick to her stomach. ‘You’ve worked with Valentine all this time.’ She lifts her arm.

‘Only since he became a grown-up.’

More pressure. Another release. ‘You knew him before then?’

‘Naturally.’ Martin dribbles as he tries to catch his breath.

Aggie pushes down again, harder this time. She retches. ‘Tell me.’ Her arm rises.

‘What do you think?’ Martin says. ‘He was always my favourite.’

‘Favourite what?’

‘My favourite grandson, of course.’

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