Friday, 23 December 2011

Waiting For The Wireman in 1974 - Sample

Waiting For The Wireman in 1974 by Stephen Walker
Cover image:
Noche de Luna Llena - 
Full Moon Night.
Copyright © Luz Adriana Villa
Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Reused under 

Creative Commons License
Attribution 2.0 Generic 

(CC BY 2.0).
"Jack's the Devil, Billy boy. And there's a bit of the devil in us all."

Waiting for the Wireman in 1974 was written way back in 1994 and first published in issue #8 of Andy Cox's The 3rd Alternative magazine (now known as Black Static). Andy later went on to also edit the UK's premier sci-fi mag Interzone

It's so long since I wrote it I that don't recall the exact process by which the Wireman's plot or characters were constructed but, as it features a scarecrow, children, power pylons, a skull, a social club and a pumpkin, I suspect it was one of those where I thought of a bunch of suitably creepy things and then wove a story around them. The Bobby Goldsboro mention was probably a reference to Ken Loach's classic movie Kes, but don't quote me on that.

Waiting For The Wireman In 1974 can also be found in my short story collection Adventures By Moonlight.

by Stephen Walker 

If you were to leave the Belsley Social Club this evening (leaving behind the band who only play Bobby Goldsboro, the electric lighting that hides your true self, and the one-armed bandits who steal your cash); if you used the rear fire exit, walked, six, litter-strewn yards and joined me on this broken wall, you might just notice the difference between two worlds.

Contained within that squat building is the bubbling heart of a community - the only place to be in this town because it’s literally the only place to be. Out here is wasteland, a place of long, wild grasses, power pylons and rubble; of forgotten things. This is where urbanisation runs down before giving in to countryside’s strangling grasp.

And, if you were a stranger to these parts, you might just stop and wonder why a twelve year old girl is sat out here on her own.

But then you wouldn’t have heard of Lilly of the Field.

From my vantage point, I watch the Unnamed Billy Morten walk the path that marks the town limits.

And he’s carrying three things I want more than all others.


“What you doing, Billy?” I walk alongside him, taking care to stay on the wild side of the pavement.

He says, “I’m not meant to talk to you.”

I say, “I know.”

He says, “No one is.”

I say, “I know.”

He says, “You’re a bad example.”

I say, “I know.”

He says, “They reckon you’re dangerous.”

I say, “I know. And they’re right; because, one Friday, October evening, I’m likely to make someone - such as yourself, Billy - see.”

“See what?”

“See what’s all around you - if you’d only care to look.”

He continues walking, not even glancing at me. Eleven years old and not yet interested in girls. In women, maybe, but not in girls. And certainly not in this one, with her messed-up hair and skinny skinny legs.

I ask again. “So, what’re you doing?”

He hugs the three priceless objects tighter, nudging them under his pale chin to make sure he can’t drop them. “I’m in a gang. We’ve got a den. I’m taking this stuff to it. This rope’s for a swing. This bottle’s for throwing at. This skull’s for warning - to scare off other kids. That’s what you do when you’re in a gang. You mark out territory and defend it.”

My gaze scurries over the objects. Somewhere, somehow, behind the glowering skies, there must be a guiding power, a spirit of the moment that makes things be as they should be. How else could those perfect possessions have been delivered to me on this of all nights?

“It’s certainly a nice skull,” I tell him. And it is.

He glances down at the dry, yellowed surface, into those deep, dark eyeless sockets. “I found it,” he says. “In the back garden. Beneath a bush. My dad reckons that, five hundred years ago, this whole town was one big park for the Duke of Somewhere, and it was full of game. That’s like animals that were put there to be shot. There’s supposed to be loads of old bones lying around.”

I stop.

Billy doesn’t.

He continues along the path, as I call after his T-shirted back. “I know something else you could do with those things, Billy Morten. Something much better.”

You can download the rest of Waiting For The Wireman in 1974 from:

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