Richard Pierce

Life, Writing

Day 278

I hadn’t intended to name check the book about aging I’m reading until I’d finished it and could comment on its entirety, but so many of you have asked what it’s called that now is the time to tell you. Even if the rest of it is rubbish (which I can’t imagine it will be), it’s already well worth a read. It’s Breaking The Age Code by Dr Becca Levy, and was recommended to me months ago (April, I just checked) by my old friend Dan Holloway, a fellow writer, and an all-round good egg and genius. It’s a long time since I’ve seen the man in person … these are the times we are in.

Ever since Radio Stradbroke started broadcasting daily on 25 March 2020, just after Lockdown 1 had started, I’ve been neglecting my daily exercise, more from the purpose and timing point of view, not the doing of it – I am now less than 60 days from doing my 1,500th 2-miler in as many days. The 2-milers have become afterthoughts rather than the focal point of my days. Before we went daily, I was going out most days at about 11:30, so that the exercise would give me a mid-day boost, so that perhaps, at the end of the working day, I would still have some mental energy to do something creative. Doing a full-on day job (mentally and intellectually) and being a writer does have its unique challenges, and I’ve not been paying enough attention to feeding my body and brain with exercise. So, with apologies to my fellow Radio Stradbroke DJs, I’m going to start going out regularly at 11:30ish so that I can get that boost rather than going late afternoon when I don’t feel like exercising or witing. Maybe this is where all my injury troubles over the last 18 months have come from. Perhaps that Levy’s book has (re)inspired me to be more determined to do things for me, to keep me young. And I did actually go out and do 4.5 km at 11:30 this morning, and I feel a lot better for it.

Now all I need to do is make sure I keep it up. Tomorrow I can start on my (for me) extreme stretches again, because I was told after the procedure last week not to do anything intense like lifting heavy stuff. Gradual improvement is the key, I think.

On that note…



For the first time since she escaped the mentor, Aggie fears for her life. Her breath comes fast and short.

‘You like that, do you?’ Valentine breathes into her face, sees her looking down at his shredded knees, blood pooling around his feet. ‘A mere bagatelle, my dear, nothing but a scratch. It’ll be fixed in moments.’

Aggie struggles, pulls her legs up, kicks at him with her feet.

He doesn’t react. It’s as if he doesn’t know pain.

This shouldn’t be happening, she thinks. She’s never met anyone as strong as she is. She tries again, manages to kick even harder. Nothing.

Valentine laughs. ‘Impossible, you think? It’s not. I’m superior to anyone else. It’s always been like this. No-one can touch me.’

Aggie’s face is turning blue now. She can’t breathe, and Valentine starts to fade in and out of her vision.

‘Oh dear,’ he says. ‘Afraid of dying? We all are. That’s why I’m doing this. Because I won’t die. Not now. Not ever.’ He drags her across to the chair, throws her into it. ‘Well now. Let’s see how you like this.’

She breathes hard, deeply, grasping for every ounce of air her lungs can find. ‘I won’t … just sit here still for you.’

‘You don’t have a choice,’ he says. ‘You never did have a choice.’ His hands are still so heavy on her shoulders she can’t move, however hard she tries. ‘I knew you’d come back, knew you’d not be able to resist. I know she’s indoctrinated you against me, against everything I’m trying to achieve, just like she indoctrinates everyone against me. And she thinks I don’t notice.’ He shakes his head. ‘Funny to think she used to love me.

She never loved you, Aggie thinks. This was just the only way she thought she could get to you, save the world from you. She doesn’t say it out loud, though. ‘And yet you have no idea where she is.’

‘She’ll be around here somewhere,’ he says, his words thrown away as if they were just so much detritus he doesn’t care about. ‘She’s rapidly becoming an irrelevance.’ The pressure of his hands grows stronger on Aggie’s shoulders. ‘You’re not the only one to know the body’s soft spot,’ he says, smirking.

Aggie faints. When she wakes up, he’s already flicked both switches onto their second setting. The cuffs come out of the arm rests again, ready to do their work. The chair starts to spin, gathering speed. Aggie throws herself off the chair, skids across the floor and crashes into the sparse viewing seats, scattering them around her with a wooden clatter.

‘That shouldn’t have happened,’ Valentine says, stands there as if he can’t understand that she’s free again.

‘Perhaps I have the wrong genes, too,’ Aggie shouts, launching herself at him.

‘That’s impossible. You’re one of them.’

She’s on him now, claws at his eyes, tries to find the spot on his neck with her whirling hands and fingers, but unable to get a grip.

He shakes her off, his eyes burning now with fury. ‘You will not stop this,’ he shouts, aims fists of steel at her face, her chest, her stomach. ‘You’re just a fucking albino woman, for God’s sake. What can you hope to achieve?’

Aggie stands still, the rage in her at a point where she can hardly contain it. She reaches out to him, so quickly it takes even her by surprise, grabs him around his neck, and jerks his head in the opposite direction to his body. He falls to the ground, motionless. Aggie drops to her knees next to him, and starts to cry.

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