Featured Review on this writing by Robert Helliger

Unbelievable Highs

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: The club of Literature
They say Winter is Coming...

Submitted: October 29, 2019

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Submitted: October 29, 2019

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Unbelievable Highs

 

Maud was stressed, flustered, hot and bothered. Her cheeks were flushed. Her flesh prickled with heat. Sweat streamed down her body pooling in an annoying wet patch in the small of her back. What possessed her to wear a navy-blue dress? Why not a soft grey? A cool white? Or a daring summer frock in pastel shades?

The forecasters predicted a real scorcher today. Underground the temperature was already 40C. There was no air conditioning. Conditions this morning were sub-human, searing hot, like commuting in a volcano. Maud was surprised that no-one had passed out.

A tourist, swinging grimly on a sweaty knocker overhead, was definitely teetering on the brink. And the smell! How anyone could travel to work without wearing a deodorant was beyond her. The heat was driving her to distraction.

Minutes passed. The stifling airless carriage became a furnace. The air ripened with anxiety and disquiet. An inner turmoil festered on the lips of the angry. A strained boil of tension that burst, souring her breathing space with foul expletives. Someone elbowed Maud in the cheek. She smarted as the blow raised a bruise on her sensitive skin, thankful that he missed her eye.

There was a stony silence, then uproar, as the driver apologised for the delay, failing to indicate how long it would be before the train would be on the move again. Maud despaired. Her consultant urologist recommended that she drank six pints of water a day to stay hydrated. She rummaged through the trendy jute tote bag balanced on her knees only to find the plastic bottle empty. Sighing heavily, she drew out her phone and checked for messages.

She heard a heavy clumping noise as the body collapsed onto the floor. A passenger pulled the red alarm handle. And Maud’s fraught journey to work ground to a halt. In an effort to stay awake, she hauled herself upright in her seat and looked around.

The blonde girl in the grubby black coat worked her way along the carriage to a chorus of disapproval, a polite ‘no, thanks’, and sorrowful shakes of the head. To her intense irritation, Maud realized, she was about to be solicited for money. She consciously distanced herself from the beggar, looking the other way, affecting not to notice, horrified when the girl loomed over her, and stood between her open bandy legs. The two of them were so close that Maud could smell the girl’s ripe, acrid, body odour, see the disgusting streaks of grey dirt, stuck to her hair. 

She felt a tiny pang of guilt in her heart for the rejection, the blunt dismissal she was about to make. This was no ordinary vagrant. Beneath the grime, the young girl was beautiful. But her pale face was crusted with dirt. Her blanched straw hair unkept, tangled into greasy knots. Her wild teak eyes shimmering with tears. She had the despairing look of someone who had given up all hope. Strangely, though, there was no sign of a begging bowl. No used, paper cup. 

The girl’s face cracked into a nervous smile. Her thin membrane lips stretched round her broken teeth. Maud winced as she bit down hard on her bottom lip. The right incisor cut out a bright red gash of flesh which filled with blood. The oxygenated haem trickled down her chin into the neck forming a ruby in the base of her throat. She was wearing a double pearl necklace. The pearls looked genuine. How could she afford pearls? What happened to this girl?

Maud found herself unable to turn away. She strained in her seat, desperate to get a closer look. Alarmed by the intrusion, the tramp felt inside her coat, brought out a white card, and held it in front of her face, covering up her nose. The A5 card read:

Sorry to beg of you this morning. I wish I could tell you my story. About the Unbelievable Highs. But I’m dumb. Please, I beg of you, provide me with a roof over my head, a warm bed to rest my weary body, some love and affection. I get so cold and sad living on the streets. Help me before it’s too late. They say Winter is Coming. Thank you for reading me. Lydia.

Maud reached inside her bag, drew out her purple clasp purse, and checked inside. Other than fifty pounds in notes that she withdrew from a cash dispenser, a handful of copper, the purse was empty. She watched the hopeful expression bloom on the girl’s face.

‘Sorry,’ she said dismissively, ‘I don’t have any change.’

The girl seemed bewildered at first, her fervent hopes, her expectations, of the concerned-looking woman, shot down in flames. Tears of hopelessness streaked cream channels in her dirty face. She reached inside her coat pocket, drew out a crumpled business card, and handed it to Maud.

Unbelievable Highs for Women Seeking Sensual Fulfilment

Text or E-Mail Lydia on…

*****

Maud removed her headset, shut down her PC, excused herself, and went to the toilet. It was safer to look at the message in the cubicle. She studied the frightening image on her phone for the tenth time that morning:

Why are you so heartless? I know you have the money, Maud. I know you have a warm bed for me in your flat in Aigburth. I know you feel sorry for me. But you don’t want to help me. Please help me. We could have such Unbelievable Highs together. They say Winter is Coming.

Text or E-Mail Lydia on…

The message was attached to a GIF, a moving image of the young girl’s face. She was beautiful. Her skin was the colour of magic mushrooms. Blanched straw hair kissed her bony shoulders. Her wild teak eyes glistened with tears. The face cracked into a nervous smile: thin membrane lips, jagged teeth.

Maud winced as the right incisor cut a bright red gash of flesh which filled with blood, trickled down her chin, rolled down her neck, and pooled in a ruby in the base of her throat. On her ears were two hanging balls of blood.

Her nose had no septum.

She was interrupted by a loud banging on the cubicle door: Iris the Office Manager, shouting:

‘You’re not going to believe this! Come and see! It’s snowing! In mid-July?!’

They say Winter is Coming... 


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