Incognito in dark glasses and a wide-brimmed hat, George Osborne sits in Standard Class on the 05:49 Bedford service from Brighton. He will pull his scarf up over his mouth before alighting at London Victoria. The station refreshment booths do not open for business until 06:00 so he is not drinking coffee, a fact causing grave irritation; the only genuine emotion he has retained the capacity to experience after the initiation process. Inspecting his hands, George notices the evidence: a small amount of dried blood under the nail of the left forefinger. No matter, she won’t be missed before Wednesday; The Agency will ensure there will be nothing left by then.
Today’s Metro is on the seat opposite. He picks it up and leafs through without reading, letting the pages rest open at the centre on his lap. ‘Ghost Sightings Could Actually Be Hallucinations Brought On By Mold’ reads the headline. ‘Well, that clears up that mystery’, George thinks.
And then he smells it.
At the exact same moment her perfume hits his nostrils, George’s phone begins to ring. The ringtone is an industry standard series of bleeps. One of those from that advert they play at the cinema just before the film starts, to remind you to turn your phone off. Dazed by the familiar scent, George pauses for a second too long, before snapping into action to retrieve the persistent vibrating object from his suit jacket pocket. A middle-management type on the other side of the carriage tuts at the noise.
George’s haste to stop the alarming sound, his tiredness, and the disturbing aroma flinging memories of last night to the front of his mind conspire to make him drop the phone. The slim Samsung hits the floor, corner first, battery cover flying under a seat and other parts of the handset’s innards splintering out around it. ‘Shit!’ he hisses at his shoes.
(The middle-management type suppresses a self-satisfied smile. He does this at least one hundred times every working day and is very good at it).
Leaning forward, George scrabbles the pieces of the phone together, sprinkling them back into his suit jacket pocket. That’s it, he’s missed the address for the rendezvous and his other phone is not secure. David will go mental.
The smell is a mixture of Chanel number something, new tights straight out of the packet, Elizabeth Arden face powder, Keratin hair treatment, Dry cleaned wool trouser suit, expensive leather handbag, lavender innersoles, toothpaste, transparent lip-gloss and cigarette smoke. He is probably just imagining the faint under-notes of her clean vagina. But, since this hallucinatory experience must be due to a build-up of mold spores in his rarely used seafront apartment, George doesn’t turn around to look for her.
Now, his personal Nokia, an ancient model sans 3G, 4G, E and GPRS, chosen specifically for this reason, starts to buzz in his trouser pocket. Four people in the world possess the number: his wife, son, daughter and her. She is dead; fuck the rest of them. He leaves the phone against his thigh, logic troubled by the persistent perception that he can still smell her vagina, right here, right now, on the train.
When someone further up the carriage drops their phone and swears, a Chanel-doused woman half turns, but can’t see who it was from where she is sitting. Bored, she pulls out her brand new iphone 6, delivered this morning by The Agency with all her data installed, and starts fiddling, scrolling through lists of names, numbers, messages and photographs. ‘George’ flashes up on the screen, alongside a photo of him grinning, with ice-cream all around his mouth. She frowns, tapping the ion-strengthened glass to move on, her long fingernail catching the telephone icon by accident. Sure enough, she is calling him.
Curiosity wins and the perfumed woman holds the device to her ear. She very nearly cackles at the idea of George looking at his phone in amazement when he sees her name. The idiot thinks he’s killed her. Oh, the power of hallucinogens and hypnosis. And the stuff she slipped into his drink after the argument, what a wonder; made from some type of naturally occurring household mold, it exits the body in 24 hours without leaving a trace.
‘This is the Vodaphone voicemail for telephone number…’ She hangs up.
Screw George and his jealous tantrums anyway. Now The Agency were having to waste a second agent on seducing him, and all because he couldn’t learn how to share. Still, fucking him had been worse than fucking David. George made that horrible nasal whistle whenever she went on top. At least all David required was to be told, “Mummy loves you, little soldier”.
The smell prompts the memory, closer and more real to George than this train: She is in the bathroom. He picks up her iphone 5 and reads her text messages, just to allay mild suspicions. ‘David, I miss you. George is driving me crazy. Ever since that bloody initiation ceremony, he’s been like a raging tornado. I must see you tonight.’
The truth had crashed into George like a wrecking ball. He’d thrown the deceitful object at the wall. Then he’d chucked the television remote after it. The fucking thing had bounced back and smashed his Vitra Noguchi glass coffee table. He’d stood there, deflated, amongst the broken shards whilst she’d fetched him a cocktail and attempted an explanation. Blood on his hands, on the rug, on the glass, all over her inert body lying there amidst the chaos. Strange how he didn’t remember the actual attack. And how when he awoke, her corpse was gone but the blood and glass were still there. He would have expected The Agency to have done a more immediate clean-up.
Well, just as soon as he gets to work and is given a new secure line, he’ll phone The Agency and ask if they can have someone sort out the mold whilst they are dealing with the rest of the mess. He stuffs the end of his scarf into his mouth and chews angrily on the tassles. Now he’ll be tripping at the TTIP meeting this afternoon, as he watches David sign over the last of the UK’s power to make independent economic decisions. What a pain in the arse.
Story invented by Rachel James (Ghost Sightings Could Actually Be Hallucinations Brought On By Mold – a genuine story from the Metro)