1 – Sie Kriechen

"Good afternoon ladies and gentleman," the voice crackling from the speakers declared, "this is your captain speaking. We have safely landed in Manchester…"

The voice trailed off with the usual feigned well-wishes the captain was required to announce as if he really cared about their wellbeing and how the rest of their day back in England would be.

The inevitable scurry and urgency that arose on landing began as soon as the captain stopped speaking and bid them farewell. There was a mixture of English and German along with a few other languages from the Indian and Chinese passengers.

She stood smiling with a bouquet like a perfect girlfriend as soon as he'd come out of Immigration.

"How was it?" she asked simply, still beaming brightly.

"Oh," Scott said, "You know how it is… I've had enough schnitzel and bratwurst to last me a life time. I missed you .."

The last word was said with forced emphasis signifying how he felt the complete opposite.

She grabbed his hand and they walked out of the airport towards the car park, without a hug or a kiss, nothing. The distance was there but neither of them could bring themselves to admit to it.

No, it was easier this way, Scott thought. As long as they didn't make it an issue it wasn't going to be one.

Red. Black. Yellow. Blue. Whirr. Smash. Pain.

Spinning spinning spinning. The street was freezing in the November chill but he felt none of it.



"Fucking piece of shit!"

And the voices went on but he heard nothing. He was just a piece of flesh who was being kicked so hard and so repetitively that he had ceased to be human long ago.

He was nothing.

One of the attackers spat on him. He could have ejaculated on him for all he knew, it didn't make any difference, he felt nothing.

Twenty, on the streets and offering men and women his body for a fee - That kind of occupation never lands you in the most favourable of situations. There was broken glass under him, he could feel it digging deeper and deeper but the adrenalin had kicked in long ago and although he realised what was happening he was elsewhere, in a forest, in a green beautiful forest. Or he was back in Brighton, walking along the beach.. the pebbles under him and Jamie laughing, splashing him and telling him to stop being so boring, and to swim further.

Jamie, oh Jamie. Why did you swim so far out?

He was Jamie right now. Right now he wasn't Mikael, the strange skinny Swedish rent boy being beaten up by a gang of thugs in Manchester city, no, he was Jamie in the cold English Channel, he was swimming to France… he was going to see the Eiffel Tower and bring back crepes… oh how deep the water was.. his lungs filled with water and all he saw were the lights … red,black,yellow,blue,whirr,smash,pain.

"It hurts.." he gurgled through a mouthful of blood.

The men gave him one last pounding and spat on him once more before leaving him.

He lay there for hours or perhaps it was minutes, when there was a voice coming from above. It was a woman's voice.. good. Women were good, he could trust women. He could not trust men.

"… yes please hurry, he's bleeding very badly!" she screamed frantically, "No I don't know… I just found him here… What?"

She leant down and touched him. Mikael could not tell what she was doing to him, he was too numb to understand her individual actions. He was sure that he had gone blind because he could not see anything either.

Flash. Flash. Flash. Red. Blue. Red. Blue. Red. Red. Red.

Bright white. He was flying. He was flying.

"Is he going to be okay!?" the woman's voice screeched. She was still there in the ambulance with him.

The paramedic ignored her and fiddled about with all sorts of life-support equipment around his bleeding patient.

Black. Black. And that was all he remembered.