365 Ficlets – Day #12 ~ “Intruder”

David turned the device over and over in his hands, staring at it intently as if somehow the combination of touching it and staring at it would unlock its secrets. He turned to look at the unconscious man tied to his solitary chair, willing him to come to, so that he could question this mystery visitor as to the purpose of the smooth black disc with two unmarked buttons in the centre of one side.

It was cold to the touch, but only in so much as it was not warm – it was not chilled, just cold. The light seemed to slide off it, without reflecting, and it was that particular shade of black that really is just a lack of colour.

The man in the chair, from whom David had liberated the device, groaned and tried to raise his hand to his face, struggling against the rope restraining it. David slid the disc back into the pocket of his gilet and stepped across the room to be in his prisoner’s line of sight as he falteringly opened his eyes.

“So, what exactly were you doing, climbing in through my bathroom window?”

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A quick test…

If I’ve done this right, this post will appear on my Blogger Blog and my Vox Blog, and my LJ…

PUSH THE BUTTON!

365 Ficlets – Day #11 ~ “If I had a photograph of you…”

Eric lifted his head up out of his hands. They were wet from the tears that were still silently streaming down his face. His eyes were red, raw from him trying to rub them dry and banish this outward display of grief, even though there was no one there to see it.

He looked across at the bed. The nurses had disconnected the drip and ventilator, pushed back the machines and dimmed the lights a little. He could tell that they wanted to extubate as well, but that would not happen until the post. Despite all of their efforts Jenny did not look at peace; she barely looked like herself.

Eric made himself really look at her. A voice in the back of his mind kept telling him that he would only have so many more chances to commit her face to memory, even this injured version of her face. He had expected to see her face every day for many more years to come. If he had known he would have paid more attention to it, learned it more closely. Now he would have only a few photographs to help him keep her in his memory.

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Re-Factoring – The Joy of Code…

One of the things I like more than anything about my job – I am a coder by profession – is that there is always room for improvement in any application. There is no such thing as a ‘perfect’ app and there is always something that can be improved upon if there is the spare time to do it.

I am currently contracting at a company called Pitch, working on a project to deploy several websites, or versions of a single web-application that delivers a web-site, across a bunch of territories. While we wait for other bits of the business to send us translations and configuration details that are territory-specific, we are taking the opportunity to tighten up the codebase and ‘do things better’. If you’re not a coder then I should explain that this process is often referred to ‘in the biz’ as re-factoring.

Why is this so satisfying you ask? Well it serves two good purposes, in terms of providing satisfaction. The first is that it reminds us (coders) that there is nothing wrong with accepting that applications are generally better if they evolve than simply coming into being, and secondly that as imperfect beings this means we need to create, use / test and __then__ refine in order to get the best results. Embracing this not only means that we will get better results in the end, but it will also take just enough of the pressure off to allow us to remember why we started coding in the first place; solving problems is first and foremost a FUN way to make your living…

Things that you never thought you’d hear…

This morning my train into Paddington was quite badly delayed; this is not unusual…

Anyway, just outside the station as we were waiting for the platform clearance the train manager came onto the tannoy to apologise, which he did and then during his patter he said:

“…I’m afraid to say that the only good news I can give you is that on the 1706h and 1806h you can now use cheap day returns and off-peak travelcards, which is a measure that came in yesterday…”

and the thing I never thought I’d hear was the carriage breaking out into spontaneous laughter; irate commuters and day trippers just seeing the funny side together. It was remarkably nice.

365 Ficlets – Day #10 ~ “Cry me a river..?”

Selena tried very hard to not cry. It is quite hard to explain to people that there is no actual concrete reason for why you have suddenly burst into tears and she was becoming tired of having to go through this dance with random passers-by, co-workers and even members of her family. The thing was even if she could get people to understand that she was just generally unhappy and ‘thing x’ or ‘happening y’ had just somehow pushed her over the edge emotionally, they would still try to comfort her or fix it, or both. This was not actually helpful, because it made her focus on her sadness. What she needed more than anything was to be distracted.

Anyway, in that moment there was nothing she could do but choke back the tears, holster her gun and try to help her partner getting the perp into the back of the car. She tried to turn her eyes away from the little girl sitting in the gutter who was cradling a dead puppy in her arms – this was what had almost made her weep, though she did not know why it hit her so hard.

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Whitstable Sunset…

Steve and Jim

Yesterday evening I went to Whitstable on my way home. I had initially hoped to be able to catch up with my friend Sally, but even though she was not around I was really pleased to be in Whitstable – it’s one of my peaceful places – and so I took my camera and wandered about around the beach and harbour. Eventually I decided to wait for the sunset and it was while I was, that I met Steve and Jim. They are a couple of guys, friends, who try to see the sunset as often as they can, and they were both filled with admiration for the variety and uniqueness that they find in it. It was just really cool to meet these two strangers, local to this place that I love and often dream about living in and to learn that they have this real fascination with the view of ‘their’ sunset. Thanks for the chat and the wine guys, it was really great to meet you and talk with you.

Here is the sunset, over The Isle of Sheppey, as seen from Whitstable, Kent today.

Whitstable Sunset

365 Ficlets – Day #9 ~ “Whitstable Sunset”

Jason cradled his camera and took a deep breath as he took in the view. The sun was already starting to sink over the Isle of Sheppey and as such was no longer the bright disc that it had been just half an hour before. Now the sun looked for all the world like a glowing orange that a giant hand was placing very slowly onto the horizon.

The sun was finally low enough for him to look through the view-finder and try to compose the perfect Whitstable sunset. The gulls were wheeling in the light wind between Jason and the sunset; it crossed his mind that he could hope to capture a gull in flight against the fiery sky.

He breathed deeply one more time, checked that he was sat comfortably and then raised the camera. In the same way that he had been taught to shoot in another life he steadied the camera and took a long slow breath in, then started to let it out slowly, waiting for the shot to be right. A gull crossed into the frame and Jason held his breath. He made a final check and pressed the shutter release.

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365 Ficlets – Day #8 ~ “Aftermath”

“Get up! Come on, you have to get up!”

My inner sergeant-major was not letting me just lie there, no matter what I might have wanted. My head was definitely bleeding, I could feel the tell-tale stickiness in my hair. I looked around at the carnage and almost immediately had to fight back the urge to vomit – there were a lot of dead people sharing this space with me and it was not pretty.

The carriage was clearly derailed and tilted at a difficult 30 degree angle. The lights were either out or dangling from their wires, like potentially fatal pendulums. The hole in the side, about half way along, looked for all the world as if someone incredibly strong had thrown a huge marble against the carriage wall. I steeled my nerve and started checking the other passengers to see if anyone in there with me was still alive. Nothing can prepare you for the real outcome of a bomb going off in an enclosed space and no one should have to see it. As I checked for signs of life all I could wonder was; how did I survive?

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365 Ficlets – Day #7 ~ “Must Love Dogs”

Joe lay back on his elbows and smiled to himself. The soft sand was piled up under the blanket and made a kind of chaise-longue for him. His eyes were fixed on Steph and their dog, Boomer, playing together on the wet sand. There was a fundamental beauty to seeing them so carefree and happy; Steph had her ‘real’ smile on her face.

Joe cast his mind back to the first row that had errupted from him saying that he wanted to get a dog. Steph had been adamant that she disliked, even hated, dogs and that there would never be a place for a dog in their lives. They were too busy, too socially active, too young, too recently cohabiting to even consider that kind of responsibility. She had gone on to be quite clear that her veto was partly predicated on the fact that she fully expected that if they did keep a dog, she would do all of the work.

Of couse it didn’t work out that way. Three weeks later Boomer was living with them and even though Joe tried to do all of the work, Boomer really was Steph’s dog.

This Ficlet, as with all of my ‘Friday’ Ficlets, was inspired by a photograph on Flickr. In the spirit of the Creative Commons ideal (these stories are published under a CC license) I will find a photo on Flickr each week that is published there under a Creative Commons License and write a story that occurs to me when looking at the picture. This week’s picture is here:

Photo by Sharkbait – Please click the photo to see the original version on flickr.com

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