I am currently working on a book entitled “The Demon Inside”. It is not finished yet, but I am about two-thirds complete of the first draft. I have posted the first chapter below as a taster of what it is like:
CHAPTER 1: Establish
Albert sat in his quiet office chair slowly typing into the equally slow computer. He wasn’t typing anything of any worldly importance, unless you count http://www.lolcats.com as crucial for humanity’s survival. He did this every morning before everyone else arrived in the office. Of course he opened up his work emails and ran all the important reports that needed to be run, but whilst these were going on he wasn’t really able to do any other work, or so he told himself. It was really an excuse to catch up on some of his favourite web sites whilst no one else was around. It was also part of his therapy schedule he had given himself since he became depressed a year ago. He believed you should start the day on a high note, and finish it similarly. That way when you wake up, you want to go to work, and when you go home, you don’t have any bad feelings towards going back the next day. For the most part it worked, until they started blocking his sites. That makes it sound like he was looking at stuff he shouldn’t have done, but it was all work safe, just not work related most of the time.
So he waited for the site to load. Ten percent, twenty percent, fifty percent, seventy percent. He reached for his elixir of concentration, known to most normal folk as “coffee” and took a large gulp. The smoky bitter taste flowed down his throat, filling his stomach with the caffeine he really didn’t need to function, but enjoyed nonetheless.
Eighty percent, seventy-five percent (darn computer), ninety percent, one hundred!
“Arghh!” he moaned. “Not another one!” He was rather tired of using search sites to find another location of pictures of cute cats with funny captions on. This was the sixth day in a row that he was unable to find one, which really didn’t help his mood. Not that he was a grumpy fowl mouthed person normally, quite the opposite. He was the typical geek. He was cheery yet shy, with a lot to say, only talkative when he was comfortable enough around people. He was often in a world of his own, but less so than other geeks. He was aware of his geek like tendencies, so strived to reduce them and increase his social skills accordingly. For him it was like playing a role-playing game and levelling up, but with real life results and achievements. He laughed to himself at this idea, but kept it to himself. He was a big enough geek to everyone else anyway.
Glancing at his second screen, he saw the reports had finished and were ready to be sent to everyone in the office. He hit the send button and sighed. Everyday the same routine, with very little variation. He liked routine, but also yearned for something for exciting, some adventure to go on. Guess that is part of the problem of being a geek is he finds fiction sometimes more interesting than reality. Magic, robots, demons and space travel, are way more appealing than spreadsheets and reports.
Had he known what would happen to him in the near future, he would have enjoyed the spreadsheets more.
Nine o’clock was always the worst. By this time everyone had arrived in the office, laughing and joking loudly about whatever drunken mischief they had done the night before, even on a weekday. Albert didn’t understand this, being of logical mind rather than emotional. He enjoyed going out and getting drunk with people, just it wasn’t his main source of fun. Once a monthly maybe, and on the weekend. Doing it on a work night just seems like asking for trouble. He preferred to read a book, watch films, or go to a nice quiet restaurant with his closest friends. He sometimes tried to join in on the conversations, and most of the time he could. Sometimes it back fired and his work colleagues would make some comment towards him he didn’t like. He never reacted, but it still got to him. Occasionally it felt like the person had forced his heart into a scrap compactor and set it to maximum, but that was a rarity. Usually he felt like his hands were vibrating like a loose screw on a car wheel, just waiting for the moment when it flies off. He wasn’t like that though. His logical mind almost always stopped his emotions from running his actions, especially as he had learnt how to program his thoughts into rules and regulations. Simple things like “If you drink any amount of alcohol, you cannot drive”, “When someone says something hurtful, take 10 seconds to think then react” and “When telling jokes, remember the punch line before you start speaking”.
“Good morning” Albert called out to a passing co-worker. “Hello” they replied, before continuing on their way, without breaking stride. He sighed. Just once he wished they would stop and talk, but they didn’t, not unless pushed, even then they gave short answers and rarely asked him questions. “How’s it going?” he enquired of the next one “What’s up!” said the cool dude. Darn it, he thought, no one wants to chat to me this morning.
His coffee cup was empty, and he wanted to chat to someone, anyone, this morning, so he collected the cup and made his merry way to the kitchen, smiling to give the pretence of being happy, as always. Making twenty drinks was one of the few co-workers who chatted to him, called Stella. He always liked to talk to her despite the rumours it caused in the office. Although she was one of the youngest in the office, she had a level of maturity that even the older women lacked, but combined with all the powerful energy of being young and beautiful. Everyone in the office rumoured that they were either going out, or that Albert had a crush for Stella, especially as he always tried to be helpful to her when she asked. No more so than anyone else he had to help, but people tend to see what they believe.
It didn’t help that he did actually find her extremely attractive, despite her having qualities he didn’t like in a girlfriend. She smoked, liked to party and she didn’t want kids or to be married. All this aside, when she laughed, his heart melted, especially if it was his jokes which made her giggle with her set of fully bared perfect white teeth and crystal blue eyes looking at him. But being of logical thinking, and knowing she would never feel for him that way; and that she didn’t meet his “future bliss” criteria, he set up a rule in his head for only thinking of her as a friend. If he did start to get feelings for her, he had a regulation set up in his head to avoid talking to her about certain subjects, or to avoid her altogether. It worked most of the time, so he could concentrate on being just a friend to her. The one time they had been out and his rules hadn’t worked, they ended up kissing.
“Hey Stella, how’s it going?” He enquired.
“Pretty good” she replied, turning to smile at her conversational partner. “I went out last night with the guys, and drank way too much, but it was awesome!”
“Sweet!” Albert responded.
“Tell you something, I am never drinking tequila again. Turned myself inside out completely!”
“Thanks for the visual” He smirked at her, letting her know he was saying it in jest, rather than being upset. One of the many tricks he learned from his social skill books.
“Ha ha, you’re welcome” His heart started to warm. Rule activated.
She turned towards the sugar, pouring the correct amounts into the cups as listed on the wall. “What did you get up to?”
“Oh the usual, played a few games then went out for a meal with Bryan. It was good.”
“Cool” she calmly replied, in the way you acknowledge what someone has said, but do not know what to say in response as there is no springboard of interest.
“So….you up to anything tonight?”
“Yeah, got the wifey coming over, probably gonna watch a horror film or something”
Albert understood what Stella meant by wifey, but a lot of people thought it implied a lesbian relationship. It wasn’t. A wifey is two women who are really close, who spend a lot of time with each other, and look out for each other. It’s like having a married partner, but without the sex basically. The female version of a bromance.
“Ah cool, I was just wondering if you fancied coming around mine for a bit, been ages since we caught up outside of work, not to worry”. He started pouring hot water into his cup whilst he waited for a response.
“Yeah…sorry about that, just been very busy recently, we’ll hang soon.” She nervously started pouring hot water from the kettle. She was a confident person normally, but being around someone who is a bit socially awkward did tend to throw her off, as it does many people. Everyone likes to hang with the life of the party and feed off their energy, not the person in the corner sucking it out. It didn’t help that they did share a moment a few months ago, that secretly she wanted more of but was too scared to follow through on. And of course Albert was not socially clued up enough to read the signs.
“No worries, I’ll leave you to your tea making duties. Catch you later!” Albert took his cup and started walking back to his desk, disappointed that he couldn’t hang out with her yet again, when he was called out by one of the workers.
“Allie, could you help me generate this report thing?” Called out the worker. He hated being called Allie rather than Albert. He had tried to ask politely for people to use his proper name, but they always forgot. Either through not remembering or lack of respect.
“Sure thing!” He responded, and made his way over. He knew immediately what the problem was before he looked at the computer, as he had lots of experience with the common problems each person had. But he tried to not jump to conclusions just in case.
“What is the problem” he asked.
“Well, it’s not displaying the right data, the line with names in is missing”
He wanted to facepalm. The problem was simply that she had hidden a column without knowing what she did. But, he kept it inside himself, and tried to be helpful than critical.
“The column is hidden, if you right click here and choose this option” He gestured towards the screen. “Then it should re-appear…” And like magic it did.
“Oh thanks Allie. I just don’t understand these computer things” Another facepalm.
“Not a problem” He walked back to his desk, struggling to keep his annoyance in check. Why they hire people to use computers when they have no understanding of them he didn’t know. They wouldn’t hire a rally driver who didn’t know how to drive, or a librarian who couldn’t read.
He sat back down at his desk, elixir of concentration in hand, and carried on with his reports, hoping he wouldn’t be hassled much more that day.
Unfortunately, Albert was hassled massively in the afternoon. Reports weren’t working, the email service went down and of course people in the team were complaining to him, despite him being nothing to do with it. He discovered this problem of actually knowing a little of something and letting it be broadcast throughout the team. People will assume you know everything about it and how to fix it.
The clock was on 17:26, and he has just finished running his last report of the day. There wasn’t any sense in trying to do more work, and he figured he could leave a bit earlier, especially as he was in 2 hours before anyone else. He tidied his desk away, making sure all confidential reports were in his drawer, ready to be locked away, and all other items on his desk were perfectly lined up.
He looked as his desk as he put his jacket on, and smiled at the beautiful symmetry of it. Albert started to softly stride to the exit when he heard a voice boom to the side of him
“Got somewhere important to be have we!” Bellowed Lucy, a well-known complainer in the office, also was the person every complained to like a mother hen, leaving her with a power complex.
Albert just ignored her and continued for the door. She wasn’t his line manager, nor had influence over him being fired. He hated that he got moaned at about him leaving 4 minutes early, when some others in the team had left 26 minutes ago. But he was the office punching bag, the one who everyone turns to when they want to complain about the system.
A few more steps and he was outside. Bliss.
The sun rolled down his face warm flannel, the cooling breeze smelt like freshly cut grass and wafted all over him. He savoured the moment before walking towards his car. Onlookers probably wondered why he suddenly stopped, but he didn’t care that much, he knew they didn’t think much of him anyway.
Although he was more of the indoors type, he did appreciate nature, and good weather, which is why he had a convertible sports car. It was red and shiny, but he had no clue about its engine size or the other things that the alpha males asked him. To him it was pretty, and got him to where he wanted to go fast. Sometimes he had driven too fast, as he found around certain corners. He had never been involved in an accident, but had scared himself a few times with the speed of the vehicle.
Albert started the engine, which kicked in with a purr-like grunt and vibrated the car seat a little bit. The music from the car stereo blared out, filling the air with a cheesy comedy song. He skipped to the next track, as he was in the mood for heavy metal after the horrible day he had. Driving out of the car park, he headed for home for a quick change of clothes before meeting with someone special.