A few times a week, I’m going to post some snippets behind the short stories in Pills.
In November 2016, it was with some trepidation that I released Property as a short Kindle story. My main worry was that it was simply too bleak for public consumption. Depression, death etc. The humour is scant in Property and the atmosphere is kind of oppressive. I suppose that’s why it works well as a short story. 80k words of that crap might have been too much.
Anyway, the reviews were kind. It seemed to resonate with people, and they liked it even more than Dot Matrix, which was the only thing I’d put out before Property.
Living in London for as long as I did, I had to endure the weekday commute for years. I’ve had physical fights, shouting matches, bruises from stray elbows, briefcases lodged in my ass, and my daily dose of twats who think its acceptable to read a broadsheet on the Victoria Line at 8am.
Right now, watching the news about hurricane Harvey ripping Texas apart and seeing the goodwill people are showing to each other (despite their polarising political views) is the sort of thing that makes a person have faith in the human race. 30 minutes on the Central line at 5pm on Tuesday is the exact opposite – you see people at their worst. Selfish, ignorant and rude.
It grinds one down.
And I was always dumbstruck at the sheer volume of people who will endure the commute to take themselves to a shitty job so they can scrape the rent or the mortgage on a shitty place to live. What was even more hard to accept was that I was one of those people.
It felt like a trap. The allure of the big city – its promise of a successful career, affluent friends, culture and a booming social life soon gave way to nudging old ladies out of the way so you can grab the one vacant seat on a train for 20 minutes.
I like to think that I had manners for the most part of it, but I certainly had my moments.
So it was after a particularly gruelling commute from Moorgate to Palmers Green on evening that I wrote the first draft of Property. Took me about an hour.
The second person narrative came from me reading Ray Bradbury’s The Dark and loving the way the fear increased by the complicity of the word You. I wanted the reader to feel they were trapped in the same world as the couple in Property.
I was worried the ending might upset people. I was right.