The Shell of Death

In a dark apartment on a dark street in a dark town, you can see where this is going, Skelly woke up one morning to find herself in a serendipitious strange silence.  This is not a snapshot from the Ahlbergs’ Funnybones, and it was not such a happy accident either.

Clothed in pink and green checked pyjamas with a co-ordinated green lace-trimmed vest, Skelly fumbles for her not so quietly brilliant alarming HTC featuring The Cataracs/Dev.  Skelly’s open hand reaches out to cover as much of a surface area as possible as she is unable decipher from whence the echoing monster is emanating – under the duvet, under the pillow, ♫ If you wanna…♫ suddenly becomes louder but not the slightest part more visible.

Bang!  Hand misses the phone!

♫…get with me, there’s some things you gotta know…♫

Bang!  Misses again!

♫ I like my…♫

Gotcha!  Mission accomplished: Alarm off!  But the rest of the chorus plays out inside her sleepy mind anyway –

♫ …beats fast and my bass down low, bay-bay-bass down low, bass down low…♫ Skelly consciously prevents her head from bobbing with the beat, it’s too early for a banging headache.

She rubs her eyes, swings her legs from the bed to the carpet in a daze, stretches her arms, and sits for a moment, reflecting.  Another day, another dollar, another – wait – no – something is quite entirely different.  The flat is not humming now the alarm has faded from her perforated eardrums.  The usual hub-bub of next-doors daily dithering cannot be heard through the napkin-thin partitions.  How odd, however Skelly does not think on the perturbed observation any further.

She forces herself from the nest of hibernation and opens the en-suite door not two-metres away with her right hand and her left-hand through force of habit reaches for the bathroom light switch. Flick.  No light.  Flick-flick.  Flick-flick.

FLICKETYFLICKETYFLICKETYFLICK.

Still no light.

[Flick – just to be sure].

Maybe the bulb’s fused.

Skelly reaches for the bedroom main light switch.  Flick.  No light. Flick-flick.

[Flick – as if one more time is sure to make a difference].

Fluck!  There is no flipping light!  Pah, it’s just my room.

Skelly steps out into the hallway. Flick. Flick.  Great.  Just brilliant.  Nothing.  The impending blackness responds with silence.

Rented accommodation sucks like lemons at times most highly inconvenient.

Skelly mooches to the deep purple curtains in her room, opening them wide, a rush of half-daylight infiltrates the non-electric atmosphere.  I’ll have to get ready in the dark.  Skelly reconvenes with her morning self as she was five minutes before the flicking episodes, and stands upon her fuscia pink rug which is of course black, inside her bathroom, pulls the shower door towards her and turns the stainless steel twisty-thing.  Nothing.  Captain Jack Sparrow voice takes over momentarily, But where is all the water?  Somewhat confuddled, Skelly tries the basin taps, first the hot, then the cold.  Again, nothing.

Whaaat?

Skulking back to her bed to find her HTC, Skelly texts her flatmate (thank goodness for internal handset illumination).  Hi Emo, were the electrics and water OK this morning?  Everything’s broken, nothing is working! Xx

Skelly makes her way to the kitchen, taps are not appearing to throw forth any water here either.  Well what am I supposed to do?  And what on earth has happened?  I can’t not have a shower or wash my face or brush my teeth and go to work unbathed?  Dammit if I had a car nobody would see me and it would be fine, get ready at the office toilets, not perfect…But I am not walking through town to the bus station resembling a peasant pikey-hobo!

Durkht-der-derukht.  Text message alert.  No, they were all broken when I left too.  Have you texted Rubo already?

Skelly replies that texting Rubo is on her to-do list.  This makes no sense.  Skelly calls the office asking for her supervisor to return her voicemail.  Still unsure as to the next steps, she whizzes into her bedroom, slightly excited at the unknown and grabs yesterday’s clothes neatly laid out on the trampoline.  Let’s go a-knocking-the-neighbours, tally-ho!

As Skelly has her dress over her head waving her arms in the air (no buttons or zips on this checkered item), there are knocks at the door.  Ahh, maybe it’s an engineer and she pulls the dog-tooth dress over her torso and pulls her tights up too quickly and ladders them whilst running through the hallway in odd shoes to the front entrance as if Superman was standing outside to rescue her. As if he would want to fly me away to Krypton in my dishevelled state.  Skelly opens the door, Really getting fed up of opening doors, and notices that the communal light system seems to be in perfect working order.  Typical.  Light where it is not actually of any usage.

A lady, from Flat 8 as it turns out, and quite pregnant, greets Skelly and a small discussion takes place concluding that she has lighting but no water or electric.  That hardly solves the mystery as we have nada of everything says Skelly to herself but outwardly, I will let you know if I hear anything…

Skelly touches up her HTC with an excitable SMS to the landlord’s agent, Hi Rubo, hope you’re ok.  It would appear that we don’t have any electricity or water or gas, I haven’t seen anything in the post regarding any temporary disturbances, please help!  Message sent.  Considering it was still only 08:30AM-ish, Skelly was waiting for official business hours to commence before making a nuisance of herself over dialling tones and 3G networks – if they were still in operation.

She illegally rips open letters and bills in the landlord’s name to check i). notices for temporary termination of supplies due to maintenance works, and ii). whether supplies have been forfeited due to unpaid arrears.  She is quietly intrigued, landlord is supposed to be a millionaire and the bills are red final demands, either he does not care or he is utterly disorganised.  Skelly thinks the former but in the latter minute of existence, temporary works schedules are unfounded.

In the interim, Jazmine Sullivan incarnates herself once more and Skelly beckons to her hypnotising voice and melodics.  Hello Limbo, I am not sure what to do, I’ve not been in this situation before, I don’t have any water or electric or gas…how can I come to work?

If you don’t come to work, it will be unpaid as you have no more annual leave left to take.

Oh, right, well, I don’t know then, I’m waiting to phone the landlord at 09:00AM

I suggest you come to work and hope that everything is switched back on by the time you return this evening, it is up to the landlord to sort this out, not you.

Oh, right, I will call you shortly.

There is just no time to beleaguer her self with anger as Skelly has no choice but to somehow commence the daily routine without the daily provisions of taken-for-granted elements.  She observes the room in the cold morning light, and spots the pink and blue haze of baby wipes (amusing herself by thinking Johnson’s need to be critically more multicultural).

Baby-wipe wipe-down of face, arms, legs, neck, shoulders.  Skelly even baby-wipes her hair, she needs moisture like a plant thirsts for water, I’m no cactus!  That will have to do.  Enveloping herself with fresh clothes and perfume, and just to prove a point to evil purgatory superiors, Skelly sparkles with glittering make-up as if it was just another Skelly-day.

Nobody would have been able to depict the morning’s crest-falling events thus far.  Sparkle.  Sparkle.  Sparkle.  Mascara.  Mascara.  Mascara.  Boo everyone, who cares if it is broad daylight on a working weekday?  I protest against the drab drab drab!  Baby-wipe showers will not ruin my life!

Skelly grabs her toothbrush and toothpaste throwing the odd objects into her handbag, and pops a minty chewing gum to make her mouth feel pretty and departs the hellery to the bus station eating her words.  The thirty-minute bus drive finally ends, and Skelly brushes her teeth in the office WC which is, ironically, above a dental surgery.  How glamorous, (glamorous glamorous).

*

Late lunch encompasses a shedload of food, including a chip butty as Skelly realises it need not matter when she reaches home as the flat would, in all likelihood, literally be <Jeremy Clarkson introducing Stig voice> the Shell – of Death.  How can I cook anyway?  No flicking p/o/w/e/r.

The working day draws to a close, it is approximately 05:30PM and after several calls to the landlord’s agent who contacted the landlord who contacted Facilities Management (it was like a game of tag and nobody was claiming responsibility for being it) and after several helpful hints from several happy bluebirds twittering in the cyber sky, Skelly surmises the entire five-storey building is still without Gilbert’s Greek amber – the water system is supplied via an electric pump, and as there is no electric, well, Skelly needs not to dot the i’s and cross the t’s for you dear Reader.

A small reminder that Skelly shell-shocked the shire of Buckingham solely due to a new job and could not stay with nearby family as being some eighty miles away proves somewhat difficult to simply ‘drop by’ in a manic state of emergency.  Friends and/or work colleagues all located in the outlying villages rather than in the town itself and of course, were completely unaware of the situation.

A fail, on all accounts, and she dismisses the pang of helplessness via the art of loneliness grey-clouding her muddy-trodden mind from the day’s events up to this point.  Skelly finally leaves the office at 08:00PM secretly wishing the powers to be, had, well, returned, the powers that be.

*

Walking up to the building in a cold sun-setting dusk, not a single light could be seen from the Gates of Hell bar those communal lights which are weak attempts to deter some type of fiendish attacker.  All seems eerie, quietly lost, the key unlocks the door of Lucifer, and darkness stretches into the hallway before Skelly’s very eyes.

After a few light-years in the three-dimensional rectangular blackhole, she reaches her bedroom door and traipses through, sits on her bed and listens to the lonesome silence of the cold.  <sighs>  This is why you need a husband or a boyfriend says a voice from deep within her mind.  Oh thoughts, be still and behave!

Although, she does acknowledge it would be a rather indeterminably great adventure had someone been here to share and laugh at the preposterous position of this ridiculous predicament, it might still be exciting and humorous.  Skelly has a brainwave.  Forget the world, forget work, unpaid or not, I will return to Birmingham tonight, I do not have to put up with this!  I have a choice!

But of course, this results in an authentic mission impossible (unlike the movie saga-palava where the mission is actually accomplished) as Big Skelly does not fully know the geographics to Aylesbury and Skelly’s phone is morphing into a heart monitor with bleeps of ever-decreasing battery power so this all powerful device would not be able to assist with directions should Big Skelly become lost in the urban tarmac jungle.

Another deep sigh and the second time Skelly eats her words today.  Pure, neat disaster.  She plugs her dying waste of space HTC into her dying hungry HP laptop, both are feeding each other nothing, and are being rather cannibalistic – if they were indeed human – but connection prolongs their battery life those few extra seconds to wave goodbye as she types Laptop officially dead. Flat is silent like a cemetery. It’s like I’m holding a vigil for the dead in my room to the kind advice-giving bluebirds.

Skelly lights candles, exasperated.  And although wrapped in two minky blankets, she sleeps restlessly in the cold.

Moral of the Story: In Case of Emergency
– have a shower before sleeping, you never know the events that may befall you in the morning
– keep baby wipes handy, you never know when you might need them
– keep bottled water, you never know when you may not have a fresh supply even on this side of the world
– call the office advising you have measles or small pox or the black death if you have no more annual leave allowance
– keep candles and matches together but away from young children and pyromaniacs of course
– try to obtain a spare phone battery and always have it fully charged
– ensure laptop is fully charged before its daily shutdown
– ensure you have a getaway car (MOT’d, taxed, insured, fully charged tom-tom, brimming tank of petrol) for a quick getaway
– have a list of things you can do in the event of a power cut (already printed of course)
– ensure that you are with someone so you will not be committed to a mental home

Thankyous to sanity-spiring bluebirds: @ShaedM, @Cynical Turtle, @aleyb86, @SSidwashere, @S2Elise, @PriyaMulji

6 thoughts on “The Shell of Death

    1. It was fate indeed as it was the same day the Estate Agents forwarded papers and information for the new abode, which is hopefully fully functional!

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  1. This was a compelling read!

    I was actually clenching my fists for Skelly, hoping for a sudden twist in the tale and a caped crusader coming to save the day!

    Thank you for the closing list of ‘To Do’s’. I’m soon to be venturing into the world of renting and you’ve reminded me that there is much about fending for oneself, that needs some pre-planning and pre-thought!

    I hope the new abode fares better for you. Ps deep purple curtains and fuschia rug sound lush!

    xx

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    1. Thank you! I thought it might be dragging but it was the ups and downs of the day I wanted to write about so I am relieved you enjoyed the read!!

      Usually, it always ends on a happy note, but not this time!! You’ve inspired me for a new post, check-list for new place…my list keeps growing and growing and it would be beneficial to you!

      I have high hopes for the abode too, though still waiting for tenancy contract pending references from – the current landlord who is engrossed in his two-day-old baby…what about me?!

      xx

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  2. Gosh, this gave me flashbacks to the ‘Great Flood’ in Carlisle a few years back. We were without everything for four days. For some reason, the street lighting on the edge of the village came on a day before our power did, and I’d look at it longingly, while still sitting at my desk, hoping that the lamp above my monitor would flicker into life.

    Great story! Thank you! :-)

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    1. I concede it was only a day without power and I am pretty good at being detached from the world but in the middle of the darkness, something awful happens to the psyche. I even closed my curtains as I was worried someone would just break in thinking nobody was home (it’s a ground floor flat). Randomly woke up at 01:30AM to find there was light seeping into my room from the gap underneath the door – what relief, the water came on a few hours later. No apology or reasons or anything from anyone! There is now a whole path dug up with broken and scattered pipes outside the gates of the development *something fishy is undoubtedly going on*. Really pleased you enjoyed the read as I love you writing!

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