Richard Pierce


Day 279

Yesterday evening, after work, I started recording a pre-record I’m putting out on Radio Stradbroke on Saturday, Episode 4 of my 12-inch vinyl 12-inch singles. Got up at 7 and was recording the rest of it by 07:10, and just uploading it now. And I’ve got a live show to do Friday morning at 10. So many balls to juggle. The reason for the pre-record is that we’re going to London to have dinner with Colonel L and his wife L, who are back in England for a few days, and we won’t get back to Norwich till the early hours on Saturday.

M and I just went for a nice walk, and decided to buy cat litter on the way back, so the last 10 minutes of the walk saw us both clutching a 10L bag of cat litter each. Shows how unfit we are that our arms are now shaking a tad after that little escapade. But it’s nice to do something as unromantic as buying cat litter together. That’s real marriage for you. Little did we know when we got together that being married would involve such activities. Life is a strange and complex and rewarding thing.

It’s now two hours later. I’m sifting through music sites to find new music for my show tomorrow. I have to admit that there’s not much that’s grabbing my attention. I listened to an old Not Nul Points the other day, and the music I heard on it seems much fresher than most of the music I’m hearing now. I do come across some gems, and do have some favourite records this year, but the last few months have been relatively barren, I must say. Perhaps it’s because the landscape in general is fairly bleak for most people, financially and politically. Where are all the protest songs? This is not the time for ambient music, folks.

If there are any bands/artists reading this, here are a few tips. Start singing within the first 20 seconds of your song. Don’t start with “one two three.” Don’t use cliches in your songs. Make sure that you have a hook right at the beginning of the song. Make sure you can sing in tune (seriously). Make it LOUD or moving. If you upload music to streaming services and music sites, do not have 2 or 3 or 4 or 5 seconds of silence before any sound actually comes from your track – I, for one, won’t even wait for the sound to come if there’s that much dead air on your track. And none of this has anything to do with a lack of attention span – it’s all to do with hooking your listeners; like a good book, you need to grab in the first paragraph, and the first 20 seconds of your song are your first paragraph. Even the most experimental music I like grabs me in the first 20. You’re welcome.



‘You’re a bigger fool than I thought,’ Valentine’s body says, his mouth not moving, the blood seeping from its narrow smile.

Aggie ignores the voice, knows she’s hallucinating now she’s broken her vow.

‘This wasn’t supposed to happen,’ Valentine says. ‘No-one can beat me.’

Aggie’s face drops into the blood as it surrounds her.

‘It’s nothing but engine oil, really,’ the body says. ‘Just to keep things lubricated. It’s not real. Nothing is real.’

Aggie pushes herself up, looks straight into the open eyes of the dead man, catches that glimpse again, of something indefinite, indefinable, that glimmer. She curses herself for being so taken in, puts a thumb either part of Valentine’s right eye, and squeezes. The eye pops out, a solid sphere, not soft and slimy like a real eye would be, still attached, by way of a maze of wires, through the hollow of the socket to the internal workings of what turns out to be a machine.

‘Did you really think I’d be stupid enough to come into the White House myself?’ The voice is alive, and it is Valentine’s.

‘I think you’re mad enough to do anything,’ Aggie says, and rips the eye away from the body, torn wires trailing through the blood. She puts it in her pocket.

‘That was my eye,’ Valentine says. ‘Give it back.’

‘How do you do this?’ Aggie whispers. ‘The body’s dead. It looks and feels like a real human being.’

‘Until you decided to take out my eye,’ he says, laughing. ‘You’ll not learn anything from it.’

‘I’m surprised you haven’t called the guards on me yet.’

‘Not worth it. Nobody really knows about this room.’

‘You didn’t answer my question. How are you managing still to talk to me, how hear me? How do you build these bodies so quickly?’

‘Do you really think I’m going to tell you?’ Valentine says. ‘Give away all my secrets? This isn’t some film where the bad guy is so sure he’s going to win he tells the hero everything and loses as a result. Let me just say this – you have to build redundancy into everything.’

‘Hence the melting warriors,’ Aggie says.


‘But you could just have let me believe I’d killed you. That way you’d have known you’d destroyed me.’

‘Or just made you into an even better weapon for Cassandra. And I can’t be having that. You’re dangerous to me. I realise that now.’

‘Only now?’

‘You were such a harmless timid thing when you came to us first,’ Valentine says. ‘It seemed like a good thing to do, to help a poor foreigner get on her feet, give her something to live for. Little did I know Cassie had other plans for you. How did she train you?’

‘I’m not telling you my secrets either, Sir,’ Aggie says. She’s on her feet now.

‘It seems such a shame to have to end this,’ Valentine says. ‘I was so enjoying it.’

‘I thought you might say that.’ Aggie rips the head off the body before Valentine can engage what she’s sure would have been the death switch. She drops the head onto the floor and speeds out of the room. She’s already the other side of the demolished wall and well into the tunnel when she hears and feels the explosion. Valentine had built in more redundancy than even she’d anticipated. She doesn’t bother rebuilding the wall, and is back outside Blair House before she takes her next breath.

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