Janathon Day 1 – runner interrupted


Let’s get the details out of the way:

• 5.25 k
• time unknown (to be explained below)
• route – Hove seafront from King Alfred past West Pier and back.

So … the first problem. I decided to borrow OH’s Garmin (not having one of my own) but as a result of a culinary incident involving hot fat (and the best pork crackling ever) on Xmas Day, I couldn’t wear it on my left wrist, meaning that I looked like Tommy Sheridan, disgraced Scottish socialist leader, who (in)famously wears his watch on the wrong wrist too.

Second problem. OH offered to run with me. Not a problem really, although he’s suddenly decided to train for the Brighton marathon, for which he’s long had a place but had sort of decided he couldn’t fit into his schedule. Now he can, apparently. And he’s a faster, stronger runner, so I spend a lot of the time we’re running together talking to his receding back, or pushing myself past my comfort zone.

Third problem. We stopped to get a drink at the volleyball café (okay, it’s not called the volleyball café, but it’s the one with the trophies opposite the volleyball court and I can’t remember the proper name) so I turned the timer off and forgot to turn it on again so I have no idea how long the run actually took.

Fourth problem. My imagination. I saw the shoe and thought Cinderella – given the time of year I would say that’s a natural and almost logical thought.

Then I saw this shoe, about a yard away, and I thought abduction. Which may not be natural or logical but it’s definitely how my mind works.

Slight aside, not my mind, Ren’s. Ren Holton is the name under which I write horror and science fiction.

Another slight aside. OH spent two decades patronising me because I can’t watch horror films. Like a lot of people, he assumed that my fear was based on the film itself, but it never was, it was based on what the film released into my head. Then, in 2006, somebody told me that women couldn’t write horror, or dystopias, or snuff. Well I’d never wanted to write snuff, but I don’t like being told I can’t do things, so I wrote a story called The Amphitheatre, published in Lullaby Hearse, and building on the concept of bio-retribution featured in Stephen K Donaldson’s Gap Sequence. OH read it. He had nightmares for weeks. WEEKS! Since then he has never taken the piss out of me – he understands that I have good reasons for refusing to let things into my psyche that mutate hideously to become night terrors.

Anyway, the shoes got me thinking. If I was going to abduct a young woman on New Year’s Eve, here’s how I would do it:

• Find out what she was planning to wear (favourite routes for this information: either following facebook conversations with her friends or – if I shared a house with her – going through her credit card slips)
• Buy a joke villain costume plus a T-shirt and beret that matched her dress. Also purchase a joke straitjacket, and a real ball gag. Rohypnol would be useful as a back up option.
• Wear costume, the camper the better, with false moustache etc, and coordinating items and be seen around town quite a lot in the hours before the abduction, ostentatiously trying to fit unlikely items into a swag bag (that already contained the gag and straitjacket). Make several swings into the young woman’s orbit, without actually making contact.
• After midnight, when people are much more likely to be on a downswing emotionally, approach girl in a location likely to be CCTV free (the seafront is quite good for this purpose) and try to doctor her drink. If that seemed unlikely to work I’d ask her directly to play out an abduction charade with me, explaining that I wanted to play a trick on a mate (best if you have mutual friends) and wanted her to be my ‘victim’. Given that alcohol lowers inhibitions, that I'd been acting like a prat all night, and that she would have got used to seeing me in my costume so her stranger-danger response would be well and truly switched off, I think I'd have a reasonable chance of persuading her. With any luck, she might actually let me put the gag on her, after which she'd have pretty well handed herself over for degradation and death. Put swag bag over her head, walk or carry girlie to location of white van. End of girl – beginning of nightmare.

The coordination between my outfit and hers would tend to imply, to any observer, that we had some kind of relationship, a collusion, so - given that it's Brighton and New Year and street theatre is perpetrated all year round here - I think I'd stand a good chance of actually carrying a kicking young woman past any potential onlookers without comment.

One of my first acts, even before shoving her drunken form into the straitjacket (and securing her wrists with a nice pair of real cuffs) would be to take off her heavy and potentially dangerous shoes because a kick from those babies would be totally demoralising, not to mention potentially disabling. Yeah, I’d leave them on the seafront because it could imply a Jaws scenario (drunk totty goes swimming) or that the young woman just took her shoes off and left them because they pinched her feet. In either case, as long as my DNA wasn’t on the footwear, it wouldn’t affect the police case as far as I can see.

And because all this was spinning through my mind, I forgot to restart the timer on the Garmin and that’s why I’m a writer and not a runner.


Later addendum: this may be what actually happened ....

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