Friday, 18 January 2013

Pepper Boy's Adventure In Seattle Part. 2

Pepper Boy's nose trickled and shook as his eyes flaked open and his face screwed up. He forced his arms out awkwardly and yawned, leering and aching while his joints cracked. The airplane was ready to land in Seattle, and the cabin crew were ready to take their seats. Pepper Boy wasn't really asleep, but he had forced himself into a gargoyle-like state of assumed sleep in order to endure the grueling boredom and caged-in terror of his transatlantic voyage. He had survived the 1 hour flight to Dublin, that was easy. A quick glance of Ireland and then onto Phoenix, Arizona. Entering America was daunting and invasive, as bearded and gruff customs guards with vague Southern accents cropped and inspected every part of Pepper Boy's gaunt, pale European figure. His passport was stamped and manhandled relentlessly, his very existence scanned for instances of evil. Perhaps they'd enquire about his atheism. He'd have to be honest, he'd crack under the pressure to start telling lies and fables of God and his mouth would run away with him.

No, new continent, new start, play it cool and no crazy stories yet, he resolved. As he boarded the final leg, the 4 hour flight from Phoenix to Seattle, the notion that this final leg will indeed be the second longest part left him pained and crestfallen. But that was 5 hours ago, and that drama was over now.

Pepper Boy's gargoyle-like retreat had paid off, and he was about to descend into Seattle Tacoma International, or whatever it was called. He had been given quite specific instructions by Patrick Richardson, to purchase an American cell-phone and sim Card when he landed in Phoenix, and to call his cell-phone when he did so in order to confirm that he had landed well and was on his way to Seattle. It would also be the first time that Pepper Boy would hear the voice of Patrick Richardson, and what a voice it was. A delicate, yet firm and nuanced Western brogue, Pepper Boy had little experience with discerning American accents but Patrick Richardson's sounded quite traditionally American, which felt comforting yet bizarre enough at the time.

Now that same weird jolting buzz wrapped Pepper Boy up as the plane descended towards the runway. Heads went back, arms grappled onto armrests as the plane dived and struck the ground, jolting a bit as it gradually yet dramatically slowed to a halt. After countless flights in the last couple of years Pepper Boy still found the plane landing process a daunting one. Luckily, this was his last of last for a while, and he let out a sigh of relief. He was finally here, the plane had landed in Seattle and people began to rise from their streets, clutching for their jackets and essentials as they strove for an exit. Pepper Boy took his time and stayed seated as he fingered his shoulder bag and jacket. He was about to set foot in America for real and meet and reside with Patrick Richardson, a well-meaning yet God-fearing man of some moral fibre that bore utterly no connection or relation with Pepper Boy except their Christian names. Pepper Boy still wondered how it had all happened and how Mr Richardson had offered him the invitation in the first place. But nonetheless he knew an opportunity such as this could not be turned down.

Patrick and Monica Richardson were going to greet him in the arrivals area, after he retrieved his bag and made his way down what would likely be an endless labyrinth of stairs and escalators to travel down. It was that moment that Pepper Boy alternately anticipated and dreaded all at once. What would they make of his strange Cumbrian accent and his hair? Would they even understand him well? Would they want to interrogate him instantly about every part of his belief system, values and what wicked culture he was stewing in back in socialist sinful England?

Well all of these paranoid thoughts were about to be put to the test now. After leaving the plane and enduring another rigorous series of stamps and hallways, checks and looks and hallways, Pepper Boy retrieved his scratched brown suitcase from a weirdly massive baggage cart and headed through another set of massive automatic doors as he reached a crowd of baying waiters, eager to greet their friend, associate or loved one.

Tired, nervous and displaced, Pepper Boy strode toward and approached Patrick and Monica Richardson, who themselves stood a bit taken aback, as if confronted with the sweeping reality of it all, then moved to extend their welcoming arms to the gaunt traveler they were about to take in as their own. 

Monday, 14 January 2013

Pepper Boy's Adventure In Seattle

The Pacific Northwest, the mecca for grunge pilgrimage. Pepper Boy never thought he would ever get the chance to experience it in his lifetime, like many things it would remain a distant what-if, never to be achieved. Well the skies of fate or some other out there force had thrown him a bone of destiny. Some man by his namesake had used a simple internet application to add every other Pepper Boy in the virtual hemisphere. In his recent clashes with bad and good fortune in equal measures, being rattled then shaken then gently picked up and guided on Pepper Boy had grown no more or less skeptical, but was acutely aware of the possible qualities of this opportunity. Travel some 5,000 miles to visit and spend time with a family, bearing no connection or history other than name. An invite seemed rude to turn down, and not just to the inviters.

So, after saving up a couple of wages with little effort other than abstaining from his weekly purchases of jigsaws, Pepper Boy hopped on an Aer Lingus flight to Seattle. His journey would be a varied yet disorienting one, from Manchester to Dublin, then onto Atlanta International, then onto Phoenix International, and finally onto Seattle Tacoma. The whole journey would take about 21 hours, but by the time he would get to Seattle it would only be 6 o clock at night, still. Pepper Boy had always struggled to keep to time and organise himself at the best of times, and dealing with that kind of time distortion would prove troubling. Coupled with the pressure of making a good first impression to Mr. and Mrs. Richardson, he was already feeling like his first few hours in Seattle would be difficult ones.

But nonetheless, he had committed, and came too far to pull out of the adventure now. He sat down on seat 25C, an aisle seat, thankfully, and as he loaded his cabin bag into the overhead cabin bin among a crush of Irish and English voices. As he fumbled for his jacket and bag, settling them into neat comfortable spots to lie, he recoiled slightly as he realised what chain of events he undertook to get himself to this point. The cabin crew were finishing organising the people into their designated seats, and were about to begin the safety procedure demonstration thing that they do on every flight. It was all about to happen

Sunday, 13 January 2013


Someone else is out there doing it, and living it, and breathing it better.

Why branch out at all.

What  little catflower is seizing the blue hour

pop vixen

Thursday, 4 October 2012

We Knew That We Couldn't Surv iv e

It was coming up for half past 7, and Bethany's progress in the getting ready stage of tonight was almost complete. She was usually punctual for everything and made use of the sometimes fleeting time well. Bethany initially thought that being on time was an inherent given, a status quo to which there doesn't exist a "not being on time" sense of time. But in her progress through life she had encountered a sizable number of contemporaries who failed to be ready or early for anything on time; nights out, parties, weddings, festivals, lectures, shopping days. Moreover, many of these people, particularly Bethany's college friends would always note to her her remarkable punctuality, at least in comparison to the perpetually behind them.

Though she was not particularly organised, Bethany did things in an almost sequentially organised fashion, rarely turning her attention away from a task to start another unless she had justifiable reason to do so. Sometimes it made her come off a bit strange and overly focused, especially as many of her hobbies tended to be activities that do not have specific boundaries for beginning and ending. For example, she loved to read, and would frequently finish books within record time of starting them, often reading chapters without interruption, soaking up hours and hours of her time, and everyone else's, judging by the way they reacted to her oddly fixated behavioural patterns. She would listen to discographies of bands for hours on end, simply to get herself familiar with their work and enjoy it as one continuous narrative whole.

"So what," she thought about that. There was nothing wrong with getting wrapped up in activities in such a way, especially when they didn't test your physical strength or stamina too much.

Still, she would probably need her stamina for tonight. Mancunians liked to drink, probably on par with Glaswegians and Bethany could barely keep up with the Glaswegian pace of drinking. Since she had made her move down three weeks ago she had barely spent a penny on alcohol, mostly because all her funds had been thrown at getting her dingy flat looking acceptable, and treating herself to a new haircut and some new clothes for starting her new job, if her location was undergoing such a revolution then at least her wardrobe could follow suit. So she resolved that she would line her stomach with a bottle of blue WKD and a ham sandwich, whipped up from the depths of her declining food stocks. She was more nervous than normal about this night out, for all her passion for nursing, she felt dwarfed and isolated in this now strange place, and she was sure her bolshy, Mancunian colleagues looked bemusedly at her retiring nature and strange habits.

As half past 7 became 8 o clock, Bethany applied the finishing touches of her proudly acquired Benefit eyeliner and threw on her denim jacket over her maxi dress and boots, the latter being a necessary choice as Bethany felt a strange sense of comfort in them. They were imposing and thick, and in her jaunt around Manchester's nightlife she would need to feel as outwardly tough and resilient as possible.

She brushed off feelings of hype and overwrought thought, and dashed out of her flat and into the night, and right on time as well. This first night out with her new coworkers was going to be a crucial one, as she would need to form some friendships fast, or be drowned under the weight of this increasingly lonely place. While routinely bringing herself back to the old adage of "just be yourself," Bethany mused painfully over the thought that she would have to make a good impression of herself tonight, and try and bond with her co-workers outside of work, while trying to hit the right balance between nice and friendly and too nice and overbearing.

Her fast-paced and teeth-clenching work didn't prove for much of a setting for forming new solid friendships, but she had struck up a vague connection with a plucky redhead called Rachel (Rach) from somewhere near Stockport, as Rach put it bluntly. Rach was something of a busybody/gossip in the hospital, and seemed to know or at least have an active interest in everyone's shady goings-on. Perhaps it was Bethany's offbeat demeanour and peculiar Scottish accent that piqued the salacious Rach's interest in her, but at this stage Bethany was just happy someone even recognised her existence, at least enough to cordially invite her along with some workmates after a shift.

Consisting mostly of nurses and nurse practitioners (doctors, nurses, surgeons and other staff didn't seem to interact much outside of their occupational social boundaries), the work night out's lineup was still unconfirmed, at least to Bethany. She had neglected to ask Rach who exactly would be going, but that lineup was always subject to change with these things. Rach proffered a specific and generic set of instructions, Bethany was to call her when she was leaving and to call again when she reached the cross of Princess Street and Portland Street.

And that was what Bethany did. Leaving the 37, or 57, or 146 bus (approximately every bus leaving Bethany's street in Longsight somehow dutifully went through the city centre, and she didn't pay much attention to which bus she got on) she rung the salacious Rach once again, confirming her co-ordinates and asking for further instructions.

B: "Hi Rachel, that's me at Princess Street now, where will I get you in?"

R: "Where will you get me in? Haha what does that mean? You scottish people are mad, alright, we're in a place called the Tiger Lounge, have you been there yet? It's on Cooper Street, just up Princess Street. Dead easy to find. I'll meet you outside it in 5 minutes love, me and Courtney will be having a ciggie."

B: "Ah right yeah that's great (Bethany was going to have walk even further up Princess Street, why the hell did Rachel send her down here!?), I'll be there soon, I've not been before but I know where you mean. I'll see you in a bit. Who is all there so far?"

R: "Great. Well right now it's me, Courtney (Courtnehhh), Bianca (Beeyankah), one of the A+E girls, Graham (Gray-uum) from Radiology and Marta (*poorly pronounced faux-european*), the Polish girl from A+E as well. I don't know if Marta was too keen on coming, I thought she thought we were all a bit loud and crude but she's dead nice and she drinks Stella! I love Stella and there she's knocking it back without a care in t'world! Everyone was callin me a lesbo for drinking it last week as well, and she's definitely not a lesbo and she drinks it. By the way right, do you think I come off like a lesbian?  Not that that's a bad thing or nothing, I just need to know."

B: "Ummm... no I don't think you're a lesbian. Or you act like a lesbian, Rach. I'll...I'll be there soon, and we can talk about it."

R: "All right then. Are you a lesbian? Not that it's a thing or anything, just that me and Coutrney were thinking about it earlier, cos i mean you hadn't said if you had been checking out any blokes about the hospital or that."

B: "I'm not a lesbian Rachel. I had a couple of experiences, you know, the way everyone did when they were drunk and 18, but I'm a boring straight (Beth laughed nervously, sex or even sexuality was never a subject she wanted to scream from the rooftops about)."

R: "All right then fair enough ya big lesbo. See you soon love."

B: "See you in a bit ya big dyke."

Bethany chirped with a stunted laugh as she hung up, afraid the dropping of the d-word might have been a step too far in the banter. Who knows how Manchester people react to certain forms of humour, or how "far" constitutes "far" here. It was all a bit much for the slightly daunted Bethany, who wandered round the corner of Princess Street and swung right into Cooper Street, where she could make out a waving Rachel and some figures next to her, avidly consuming cigarettes en masse. Should Bethany point out to them the hypocrisy of them smoking away while essentially being agent to help save, lengthen and improve people's lives, something that smoking did the exact opposite to.

"Fuck it," she thought; Hypocritical quandaries aside, she was here to make an impression, have some fun, and finally start enjoying herself and living her life.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

We Knew That We Couldn't Surviiive

The dark of night crept in slowly, despite the train's disconcerting whir as it hurtled through the English countryside.  Leticia and Wesley were whizzing somewhere between Crewe and Manchester, at least, that was the last stop Wesley remembers them pulling away from. Neither of them really grasped the notion that they had to change at Preston until the robotic Virgin Trains tannoy voice bellowed the call that the train would soon be approaching Preston. Just when they were officially sanctioned 'out of the woods' and could relax they were in upheaval again, jostling and grabbing frantically to leave this doomed train and board another, set for Manchester. As they left the train, due for London, an even more distant destination but one not pertinent to this voyage, Wesley's eyes hovered around the looming Preston train station lights, a daunting howl of trains, weaving in and out of another as they arrive and depart, and the familiar monotone, robotic tannoys directing commuters on their chosen path. It had nothing on the spectral glass kingdom of Glasgow Central, but it had a greyed out, Northern charm that despite its blandness, had a quaint kick for Wesley. Perhaps he had been watching too much Coronation Street as of late.

Leticia's initial buzz had simmered to a focused pensive growl as she plodded through the station, leading the way in a sense as she directed herself and Wesley to Platform 6, for the Manchester Piccadilly train. It had not been officially stated that Leticia was taking charge of this trip, but it had somewhat become the accepted status quo, as Leticia had hatched the frankly reckless plan in the first place. What if their house got trashed? What about their innocent, ignorant flatmate Harry, of whom they had completely disregarded in all the chaos. Back in Carlisle it dawned on Wesley that Harry would quickly wonder where they've gone and why their things are gone, then to be greeted at the door by the cartoonishly intimidating and daunting Sprinkle and two of his mates, and be asking for them, with callous intent. Harry, poor Harry, pondered Wesley. He didn't even take drugs and he would likely have a panic attack at the mere mention of all this being possible, which played a large part in why Leticia and Wesley were hell-bound to phone him to fill him in on this. As neither could bring themselves to do it by Penrith, they anxiously awaited a phonecall from his number, staring blankly into their mobile phone screens.

The mood had turned somewhat serious, and somewhat sour as trajectory became reality, something terrible was going to happen to Harry, and the house if he just happened to be in when Sprinkle came knocking. Ignorant of who each other were, the initial hilarity would dissipate as Sprinkle would demand information about the errant Leticia and Wesley. An ignorant Harry would be lost for an answer, genuinely denied as such which in turn would not go down well with Sprinkle, who would reasonably yet incorrectly assume that it was all lies to cover for them.

It was this though that finally compelled a frantic Wesley to make that call. But he wouldn't to Harry himself.

N: "Wesley."

W: "Hi Nancy. I need to ask a peculiar yet essential favour of you. Are you with Harry just now or know where he is?"

N: "Oh right. Well I saw Harry today with that girl he's seeing going into the subway, they must have been heading into town."

W: "Cool, what time would this have been about?"

N: "Errr, about half 4 I guess, would've been as I was coming back from work so yeah about half 4, 5 o clock. Why?"

W: "No reason. Look, errr... Me and Leticia are going to see her sister for a few days, she's taken a bad turn and Leticia doesn't think she's doing so well, and she's a bit lonely, so we've decided to go keep her company.

N: "Oh right that's nice... Doesn't Leticia's sister live in England or something?"

W: "Well yeah, we're in Preston right now actually, about to head on a train to Manchester."

N: "Fucking hell when did you two decide this? And why wasn't anyone invited?"

W: "It was a pretty on the spot decision. I'll need to explain it later. Right this is the favour part."

N: "Here it comes. Is it to tell Harry that you've fucked off and left him in the house to deal with things while you two live it up?"

W: "Yes. That and, not to go back to the house tonight. At least not until later. Try and get him out or see where he is with that date and keep him away from the flat for a bit. It's for his own good. I'll explain tomorrow. It's nothing serious."

N: "What the fuck? Why does he have to stay away from the house? Has something happened? What the fuck's going on? Let me speak to Leticia."

W: "Nanc... right now isn't the best time. All I can say for now is, Leticia and I...need to stay away from Glasgow for a wee while. And so does Harry from that flat, at least for tonight."

N: "Wesley, tell me what the fuck yous two have done now. This isn't funny. Where's Leticia? I'm phoning her."

The call bleeped, and Nancy disconnected. Wesley appeared crestfallen. Leticia stared at him and waited for her phone to ring. She held it up, as a picture of her and Nancy, eating ice cream (one of those personalised pictures when a friend calls function) and tapped the disconnect button.

"I can't face her right now. She's probably already worked out what's happened. At least she'll be smart enough to get Harry away from the flat." Leticia declared.


On the train bound for Manchester, Leticia and Wesley had decided to turn off their phones, at least until they had to give Leticia's unstable sister a call to confirm we were nearly at Piccadilly, and she would greet them from the station, and no doubt be filled in on the nonsense that her younger sibling had gotten herself into. Wesley witnessed Leticia send a lengthy, carefully plotted text as they got on the train, no doubt to Nancy, but he didn't want to heighten the tension by pestering her as to what the text said. He could already surmise it contained mixed messages of placation as to their situation, and brief explanation of the dangerous web they had weaved. Although being utterly disapproving and appalled at their ridiculous actions, Nancy could be trusted to go into Mother Hen mode and provide crucial damage control, especially for the blissfully ignorant Harry, who, upon having to hear about their tangle second hand from his mutual friend Nancy, would surely be so infuriated and betrayed that they would probably not see him again after they would inevitably return. Wesley predicted that the paranoid android's first reaction would be to stamp and moan and curse Leticia and his names into the grounds of hell. Next he would call his boisterous, reactionary father who would whoosh down with a removal van from Aberfoyle and collect his precious son and his things and take him away from the hellish drug den flat by tomorrow afternoon. Said outraged father would then hound Wesley and Leticia's mobiles with calls, baying for blood, and with good reason.

It had never been plain sailing in Leticia, Wesley and Harry's living situation, even from day one. Since the relatively sheltered Harry had clung to the more duplicitous and streetwise Leticia from the start of university, perhaps admiring her sense of purpose and achievability of her goals, however dubious they were. Despite their best behaviour and parent pleasing charms, Wesley, Leticia, Nancy and Siobhan had never managed to really present themselves well to Harry painfully traditional and stereotypical father. Poor performances at Harry's "dignified" 21st birthday celebration had cemented this notion, and this latest life-threatening drama would seal the cement with even more cement, while gaining some points for being so comically outrageous and dangerous. Some unpaid rent is one thing, drug dealers destroying your house over an errantly gained drug debt is another. In some form Wesley and Leticia might make great case studies for a typical moralistic and outraged Daily Mail article on the wayward and degenerate youth of today. The stuff of legend, perhaps.

Leticia leant her head against the window and peered out into the dark English countryside, anxiously awaiting the next leg of their adventure, which was about to commence. Wesley tapped his rucksack, still saying little and in a way, the silence at this point felt appropriate as the calm before the storm

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

We Knew That We Couldn't Surviive

Bethany tucked away the bag of jelly babies into her right jacket pocket, hurriedly relieving the duty of carrying them from her hands, which she preferred to keep free to sway amiably by her side, or to rifle through to a new song choice on her cheap mp3 player. It was almost like a stance of security for her, as if by keeping her hands free she was quick to react to whatever could approach her in the street, living or object. Maybe it was a faint yet poignant nod to her younger days, when she would prepare herself mentally and physically for any oncoming bullies or unsavoury types, who would surely take any chance to trip and push her into the mud.

Still, it was coming up for 7 and she was desperate to get back to her flat. She had spent the day aimlessly trudging round the Northern Quarter, initially hoping to find the promise of a new job, but as that search grew fruitless she started hoping she would find...anything. A new bar, or cafe, or place to go. Or that new job, or something to indicate a new turn around in her fortunes. A run-in with a new mysterious friend, who would show her the world. Truth be told she was underwhelmed by what she thought would be her big break; her impulsively epic jaunt to a new city, that for her harked the post-war migration of troubled youths heading for swelling cities to find fortune and adventure.

No, she was injecting far too much wonder and romance into this whole moving business. It had been a year now, and it was as much a sensible, pragmatic progression in her step to being a...district nurse.

"Well fuck those fucking NHS bastards to fuck."

Though her outward demeanor emanated a cool yet weary optimism about the whole situation, Bethany was stirring fear and petty anger within herself at the whole situation. Gross misconduct for something that was so commonplace and of little risk or offense to anyone; patient or doctor. Still, she must move fast and seek out a new source of income, except for selling her unnecessary things off to sustain her very existence down here in the wild. Returning home, jobless and defeated would surely make her a laughing stock among everyone. Plus she would have to find a job up there too.

She ventured around, ready to throw herself at a new path in life. That path just needed to come. And she didn't know many people in this city, and it had been a year now. People at the hospital were either busy, overworked or dead and since she had no previous connections down here it still felt like she was a bit..out of place, swamped and unknown in this town. Nonetheless, she projected a carefully measured ambivalent zeal about her new world. It was just more in its pupating, early awkward stages of creation than she made it out to be.

"Who knows," Bethany pondered wistfully, "maybe the hospital thing was a sign, that I need to try something new, that the stress really would have been too much," her mind wandered back to extended meetings with a baudy and patronising occupational therapist, who seethingly and viciously recited line after line about "mentality building" and "stress management" and all other sorts of management-think bullshit.

So Bethany was taking her recent career destroying mishap as a beacon, a sign to dive into something new. She heard a vibrate in her handbag, stuffed full of poorly written CVs, makeup and various essentials, it was her phone!

Sunday, 23 September 2012

We Knew That We Couldn't Survive

Leticia and Wesley considered their situation, knowing that things looked bleak. It was fast approaching sunset and they had yet to acquire even half of the money that they were supposed to have by midnight. Sprinkle would arrive at their door bang on the death of the evening and then they really would have had it. It was useless getting the police involved, and none of their friends wanted to be involved. Strangely enough Leticia fretted more at the disloyalty of her so-called loyal friends, who as it emerged would not rally round to help her in her moment of need. "Apparently not," she thought. Meanwhile Wesley grabbed an old wooden chair and rose to perch himself on it, his head in his hands and slowly considering the gravity of his situation. It was like he regressed back to the mentality of the sweet, pie-eyed teen tasting the world for the first time. Some sinister temporal force had transported him through time, space and mind to facing a gangland death, or severe beating. They had exhausted all options and could not conceive a way out of this.

"You know how in television shows people just run away at the drop of a hat, leave their job, family, friends, everything behind and just hop off somewhere and start afresh for the sake of the story?"

"Yeah, loads."

"Let's do that! I mean think about it, we have no way of paying these people back and they're probably gonna kill us, or kick our heads in bad, and/or steal our stuff. Lets just run away for a bit, take what we need."

"Are you sure? Where can we go? What are we gonna tell people?"

"We'll just explain when we get there. We can go tonight. We could go to Manchester. My sister lives there, I'll just phone and ask to stay with her, she's got a massive flat, and Sky Plus!"

"Your sister won't just let us turn up at her house at this short notice, will she? And what are you gonna do about work?"

"She's went right off the rails since she got sacked from the hospital. Last week she got a hamster, then took it back cos she thinks it was trying to kill itself. She'll be fine if I tell her why. She'll like the company, she's dead lonely dow there. Fuck work. I'll just phone and say I'm sick for a few days, or I've had a family emergency in Manchester and I need to go to Manchester cos my family's in Manchester. And my family is in Manchester."

"I are we going to get there? Can we afford the train with £204.62 between us?"

"Yeah, we can get the train tonight. We'll pack some bags and just make our way to the station. If you check the trains I'll start packing our bags."

"Are we really going to do this? This does seem quite drastic, illogical and unjustified."

"Shut up with the English lesson. This is what you do, and this is what we're doing, like that Ryan Davidson from my work. He got into trouble with some kiddy porn on his laptop. I mean there was never any porn of that sort found anywhere on his computers as it turned out, but with things like that there's no smoke without fire, and everyone just turned against him. Poor guy, it was guilty before proven innocent, he had to run away, he went to Manchester and he had REAL PROBLEMS. Now granted this scenario is nothing like that but this is a REAL PROBLEM. We owe some very bad men an amount of money that we need to get to them tonight that we just cannot feasibly do. Otherwise we're going to die. Or worse. So I posit, that we tackle this REAL PROBLEM by escaping this city, this country altogether."

And they did. The Manchester train was at 27 minutes past 6 and would get them into the safety and anonymity of Manchester by half past 10. But an efficient and pleasant journey was not the priority in this expedition. No, the fact that Leticia and Wesley managed to get on a train and weave through the streets, avoiding bad men that might or might not be there. Paranoia was heavy on their heads too. Leticia packed a modest bag, of some artifacts and clothes, and things she would need for her journey. The gravity began to hit her too, and she paused and swayed for a moment, grasping what she was about to undertake. She would somehow have to explain this to her family and their friends would probably laugh about it eventually. She reached for her phone charger, threading it between her fingers as she began to ponder the amount of phone calls she would have to make in the next few days. Difficult and in a way incredible phone calls. "I've ran away to Manchester to escape some dealers who are after me and Wesley." would be the gist of them. "Can you watch the house, and err, not tell anyone anything." Their friends would surely be discussing it back home mockingly, with wild bemusement, and some concern for Wesley and Leticia's situation.

"So what!" she thought. They had shat it big style when the going had got tough, to put it one way. Wesley ad Leticia were left alone to deal with this, and for lack of money, this proved the best option, if they wanted to stay alive and well.

Wesley hurriedly tossed some t-shirts, jeans and his wallet, phone and what remaining money he had left. He picked up a docking station, probably irrelevant at this time but wincing as he discarded it, realising that it, and many other things he would have to discard, and he wasn't sure what he was running to, or what would be there for him when he came back. What would people say if they found out about this? Well... In an oncoming rush of sense it dawned that his mere survival was on stake at the moment, and keeping up appearances was a moot point if the former could not be fulfilled. So, like he was packing for an impromptu holiday, he filled two bags full of an assemble of essentials, for touristing or escaping the criminal underworld.

The warm swell of electric steam phased through the massive open-plan station building as Wesley and Leticia made their way through its towering arches and up to the ticket office. The essence of surreality began to set in as they handed over a series of crumpled up and sweaty £10 and £20 notes to produce two open return tickets to Manchester. It began to set in for Wesley as he glanced at the departure date on the open ticket, and for once in his life he really had no idea which date inbetween the 3rd September and the 2nd October he would be coming back. Or if he would come back and the whole ticket would be useless. Leticia seemed to be handling the gravity of the situation well, that she had even put on a pair of sunglasses for the journey seemed at best flagrant and defiant in Wesley's eyes. Or maybe she was just concealing some feelings more fraught and worried than excited.

After six unsuccessful calls Leticia viciously rattled out a text on her phone, imploring her sister to call her as soon as humanly possible. She poo-poo'ed the subject when Wesley inquired about her sister's response and permission to let them invade her life with their real problem for the time being. It was fruitless to discuss it now anyway as the tickets were bought and they had committed themselves to this epic journey, of sorts. It certainly felt more surreal and Wesley, as he slowly began to wonder if somehow cameras were tracking and recording such an event.

"I wish I'd brought sunglasses." He thought.

And so they boarded the train headed for Manchester. Their collective hearts jumped as Leticia's stupid Nicki Minaj ringtone sounded out against the hollows of all escapist escaping fantasy and the device vibrated wildly. Wesley's hands leaped to cover his mouth as Leticia answered the phone to her sister's frantic voice.

The conversation was quick, stunted and direct as Leticia plunged her finger into her ear to eliminate the noise from the grumbling train. She explained their situation briefly, skipping out important details, for the benefit of the public. Wesley's eyes sharpened as he considered that Leticia's unstable yet probably still quite compos mentis enough to instantly refuse an impromptu visit from her shallow younger sister and aloof and flaky friend, on a Wednesday night, no less.

And lone behold, she did. Maybe Leticia used some Jedi mind trick on her. Or maybe she was just rendered insane by boredom from unemployment and this latest drama will prove to lighten up her life, if only briefly. And as such, they were off into the night and off to Manchester