The other side of what?
Alan Stokes

I lean against the door, wondering where they’ve gone. Lately they’ve been playing tricks on me. Yesterday I came back from my break and found them crouched under their tables. The day before I came back from lunch and they were wearing glasses and false beards. All because I told them to experiment with reality! It was a meaningless remark and came out before I had time to think about it. If I had thought about it I would have spiked their drinks with acid.

I go over to my desk and sit down, shuffle some paper. All I seem to do these days is shuffle paper. I’m an expert at it now. When I arrived here I worked like a dog. For three months running I was named employee of the regional offices. My boss gave a speech every morning, imploring everyone to be like me. It was embarrassing.

Ten minutes pass. Still no sign of them.

I go down the corridor and into admin and chat to Nicola. I do most of the talking. Nicola hates me. The first time I met her I talked down to her and she didn’t like it one bit. The following week she brought it up in a meeting and I apologised to her but she just wouldn’t have it. I’m an idiot and that’s all there is to it.

Finally I stop talking bullshit and ask Nicola if she knows where my colleagues have gone.

Nicola stares at me, then shakes her head.

–They’ve gone to the funeral.

–Funeral! What funeral?

She sighs. Nicola’s always sighing. When you ask her something, she fills her lungs, pauses, then lets the air out slowly, so fucking slowly that you want to hit her.

–Jean’s funeral. God, don’t you know anything?

I’m lost. The taxi dropped me outside the gates and I went inside but now I’m on the street again, wondering where I am.

It’s happening all the time now.

It’s embarrassing.

I’ve an appointment to see the doctor in the morning but it’s pointless. The bastard will prescribe medication and I’ve had enough drugs to last a lifetime. Probably that’s why I’m getting lost all the time. The brain can only take so much.

I’m in a pub. Everyone’s singing, laughing, screaming, raising their glasses every five seconds to pay their respects. It’s pathetic.

We head into town and into someone’s house. There’s about thirty or so. No family. There was no family at the funeral either. Jean didn’t deserve that. I went to my dad’s funeral and I hated the man.

I open my eyes then close them again. Ed laughs and so does Hibbert. I’ve no idea why. I’m being totally serious. I want to know how it feels. I want to stay here, panicking, wondering when or if they will come back. It’s important to me. I can’t explain it.

Ed closes the door and Hibbert starts nailing me in. We’re laughing. It’s funny. I mean it’s one thing talking about it but another thing doing it. You have to be crazy to do something like this. This is the kind of thing you see on TV. We came here for a smoke, for Christ sake. A chat. We didn’t come here to bury me.


For me to know what it’s like to be buried.

I mean this isn’t real. For one thing, I’m in a wardrobe, not a coffin. And for another, well, they’re coming back. They’ll be gone for an hour, tops. Soon as they’ve finished their drinks they’ll be back for me.

It’s a tight fit. I can move my arms and legs but it’s uncomfortable as fuck. It reminds me of being in bed as a kid, for some reason. My mum used to wrap the sheets around the mattress so tightly that once you got in you could not get out. If you wanted a piss you just lay there and pissed. Ditto for a shit.

She was funny, my mum. A real nut. I visit her sometimes. It’s OK now because she doesn’t know who I am.

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