"Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to work I go…" I hum merrily to myself as I load my equipment into the boot of my car. "With a shovel and a car and a nice crowbar, hi ho, hi ho, hi ho hi ho hi ho…" I close the boot and look up to the sky. Another clear, perfect night. No clouds, no fog, just me, my car and the stars. The bass from a nightclub not 500 yards away vibrates underneath me, filling my head with all sorts of memories from my university years. Every Saturday night, we'd go out and get wrecked, plastered, bladdered to the bone. Under the influence of intoxicating substances – mostly illegal – we'd forget about our work, our exams and our new responsibilities.
We. Myself, John, Tim, Ally and Helen. Always lurching back to Tim's apartment, simply because it was the biggest, we'd sleep on the floor with our coats as a large, but thin and uneven, mattress. We'd lie on top of each other – John leaning on my legs, me leaning on Helen's stomach, her long chestnut hair tickling my face. Ally and Tim would share the sofa, top to toe. And in the late morning, with one collective hangover, we'd struggle through Sunday and eat whatever was left in the fridge.
I used to love the feeling of being drunk. You think you're fine, you think you're shining with confidence. You think you're God's Gift to women. You dance almost non-stop, and keep topping up, gradually losing track of how many you've had. And when you finally get to a bed (or floor), you lie back and close your eyes. That was my favourite bit: the spinning sensation, the falling back down into empty space. The empty space… I always wondered what was down there, if I ever stopped falling. Did it end or was there a bottom? Was it soft? What was down there? I never stayed awake long enough to find out.
With a reluctant sigh, I climb into my company Vauxhall. Navy blue, dark, discreet and nondescript. I turn on the engine and drive in the direction of the nightclub. I'm tempted to stop, go in and relive those memories of twenty years ago, but I don't. Of course I don't. I'm nearly 40 – next week, in fact – I can't even begin to imagine the faces of the young whippersnappers partying away in there if I walked in and began grooving to their 'hip' new tunes. Besides, it's too public. I need to go somewhere quiet, and it's a place I've been using for… well, twenty years. Since I set up base here, near to my office. I'm a computer technician, and it's rather tedious. I would love to train as something else, if I had the time. In between keeping abreast of the new technology involved in my job and looking for a wife, there isn't much time to go to night classes or weekend courses.
I'm here. I park the car on the side of the road. I check my watch – it's 2am. The clubs around here will be closing… someone will come along soon, maybe half an hour. So I get out, put on my gloves and balaclava and collect the crowbar, and crouch in the hedgerow that sections off the path from the fields around it. This path leads up to the university apartments, and is the quickest way to get back from town. The most dangerous, too. You never know, someone in concealing headgear wielding a crowbar might attack you. It happens.
I glance up at the sky again, and I'm still surprised at how beautiful this autumn night is. My psychiatrist says I have to think of the finer things in life, and I try to oblige her. She's a good woman, is Dr. Wentworth. She took me on two years ago and, despite my therapy going round in circles countless times, has continued to see me. I look forward to our Thursday night appointments. She's got a lovely smile, a maternal one that seems to say, "Now come on, Mummy will kiss it better." Sometimes –
Someone's coming. I can hear footsteps… Light, quick, this person seems eager to get off the path. I calmly get out of the bushes and stand in the middle of the path. She's so drunk, and it's so dark, she bumps into me.
"Whoops! Sorry, sir!" she says in a mild Northern accent.
"That's quite alright, dear." I pause. She's wearing mint green sandals, a black miniskirt, a green halter-neck top and a green visor. Her brown hair is tied back in a ponytail. It bobs as she talks.
"Um, mister, I kind of need to get home. Can I go past you, please?" She tries to dodge round the side of me, unsuccessfully. The path is only about a metre wide. "H-hey! Mister! Get out of my way!"
"Oh no. I don't think you should be walking alone at night. Let me escort you to your apartments." I watch with satisfaction as the fear creeps across her face.
"H-h-how did you know I'm wanting to go to the apartments?" she asks timidly. I chuckle softly.
"I just know. Young, pretty, and highly intelligent, I'll warrant. Enjoying the new term?"
"Go away! Leave me alone!" she squeals. Her small, perfect scarlet mouth is twisted in terror. I take a step forward, she steps back. She pushes me away from her, I step back. It's like a crazy ballroom dance. "Stop it, stop it!" she screams again. She grabs hold of my biceps in an undeniably arousing way and tries to push me into the hedge. I grab her shoulders and she stand stock still. Then she notices the crowbar, which I put in my left pocket earlier. It sticks out nearly to my armpit, like a flagpole. Her face goes white.
Quicker than she can blink, I snatch it out with my right hand. I pause for a second, it held aloft, enjoying the trembling body and frightened face in my grasp. With one powerful sweep, the crowbar caresses her skull, again and again and again. The thud is almost therapeutic. I'm relaxed, almost nonchalant, knowing there is no way I'll be caught.
Thud. Thud. Thud.
Oh, sweet release! There is no more powerful thing a man can do than take a life.
Thud. Thud. Th –
"Oh my GOD!" A young girl is staring at me, mouth open, tears already rolling. "W…w…what are…you doing to K-Kelly?" She sees the blood, the crowbar, the balaclava. She knows I am the Bristol Head-basher. She knows I have been for twenty years.
I'm stunned. This has never happened before.
She's hit me in the face! I try to fight back, but she's almost certainly broken my nose, and is proceeding to attack my genitals. Involuntarily, I double up, and she pushes me face down onto the hard concrete. Again and again she stamps on my head, the bones in my nose clicking and crunching, now beyond repair. I don't deserve this, I think as the spinning starts again. I was doing what my psychiatrist told me – appreciate the finer things in life. I do, I do! She stops and picks up her friend's body, unsteadily making her way back towards the town. I can faintly hear her sobbing. Life can only be appreciated when you've experienced death. I was only… only…
The spinning increases. Memories, random memories, float back to me. Laughing at Tim's jokes, kissing Helen by the drinks machine, and all those nights we spent together, doing… Ally, too, she was there, I'm sure…
I'm sill spinning. I can't even open my eyes. But I know I won't fall asleep this time; the pain is too intense.
At last, I'll get to find out what's at the bottom of the spinning space.
"Bloody hell! What in the name of God have you gotten us into, DC Knight?"
"It was an emergency call, Sir… and… I think he's dead."
"I can see that. Well, get his body to the bleeding ambulance anyway… Come on, I don't want to be here all night."