CuiousPages - fiction and nonfiction
CuriousPages - fiction and nonfiction
For the following two days, Wendy hardly left her desk. She sat there, doodling on her notepad, watching her screen, watching the ceiling, and at other times sitting with her eyes closed and her brow furrowed as if an army of thoughts were parading through her mind and she had to sit patiently until the last straggling foot soldier had passed before her, which he seemed to have done by the morning of the third day when a cloud then seemed to suddenly lift from above her desk as Raymond, the Network Administrator, entered the room and sat beside her. For two hours he worked at her computer while she listened intently to his every word, as though he were revealing to her the secrets of some wondrous code.
Gail could keep quiet no longer. “Just look at them,” she told Daniel, tap, tap, tap; “they make the perfect couple.”
Daniel looked over at Raymond as he sat there instructing Wendy. Raymond kept playing with his hair, which was sticking up like a roughly hewn hedge of golden hay, as if he were constructing some strange form in his hair that no-one but he could understand. Wendy glanced at his construction, examined it curiously for a few seconds, then smiled. This was more than Gail could bear; she went on: “I can just imagine them in bed. He’ll be lying above her and his geeky hair will be hanging down and covering her facial nipples, so they’ll both be happy,” tap, tap, tap. “Just look at him now,” tap, tap, tap. “He’s telling her what he’ll do to her in bed. That’s why she’s smirking. She’ll start giggling next,” tap, tap, tap. “I’ve never seen her so stirred up with repressed excitement. Look at her, she’s imagining what she’ll be saying to him: ‘Oh, suck this; suck that; like me up here’—it doesn’t bear thinking about,” tap, tap, tap. “No, I can’t stand this; it’s making me sick. Please stand in the way someone, so I don’t have to look. I can’t help myself—” She paused her dancing fingers, looked away and took a drink to steady her nerves.
The following day, which was a Friday, Wendy assigned to Daniel the task of assessing all the job applications from disabled candidates, with a view to hiring a new member of staff for their department. He began his assignment on the following Monday morning, and it was then that the database seemed to develop its fault.
Gail had, needless to say, had an eventful weekend, which she began relating to Daniel that morning. By Wednesday, she still seemed to be finding fresh angles from which to appraise her latest companion’s nocturnal habits, as though Gail’s Tales were the outpourings of a puzzled anthropologist striving to fathom the inexplicable mating habits of an alien tribe.
Daniel, meanwhile, was merely wrestling with the question of his sanity. He finished assessing an impressive application, in which, as usual, the candidate’s exam marks decreased before his eyes, and, in an attempt to outwit the form’s suicidal tendencies, he quickly typed his summary: “Mr Fowler possesses the appropriate skills and interviewed flawlessly,” and was about to close the form when his comment transformed into: “Mr Fowler is possessed with inappropriate skulking and his views are flatulent,” and the form closed itself. So exasperated was he that he momentarily forgot his stammer and shouted at Gail: “This can’t be right. How can anyone work like this!”
Gail barely interrupted the flow of her anthropological observations, tap, tap, tap.
Daniel opened the records of the next applicant and broke out in a cold sweat, for the applicant was his father. He glanced over at Wendy, who was sat at her desk working at her computer. All week she had been working with an unusual purpose and only occasionally pausing, when a smile would caress her face before dissolving to leave her typing soberly, as though carving the epithet on a significant headstone.
As Daniel read the details of his father’s previous employment, every entry transformed into a completely different job, but in contrast to the suicidal applications, his father’s became glorified. Daniel felt he was about to pass out. It was as though the Council’s database were deliberately tormenting him. He felt like screaming, or tearing open his chest to let out the demons that were eating him alive from within. He glanced over at Wendy who was, at that moment, wearing an unusually wide smirk. He looked back to his screen and read, with some relief, the interviewer’s notes: “This candidate may be capable of tending the Council’s floral displays and undertaking light caretaking duties.”
He was about to close the record when the entry transformed into: “This candidate would make a valuable contribution to the efficient running of the HR department.”
 
Peter looked angrily down at his basket and told it, “I’ll decide that. I think there is a need, otherwise I wouldn’t have said it,” and started shouting at the basket, “Obviously. Ob—vi—ous—ly.”
The dog‑walker looked up, gaped for a moment, then jerked the dog along the pavement while the dog hopped on three legs and continued stubbornly waving its fourth leg at the wall. As the dog passed the garden’s small, iron‑work gate, one final jet squirted out from beneath its leg, sprinted along the garden’s path and tapped the tip of Peter’s right shoe.
Peter frowned down at the three glistening beads on his toe, as if they were a cryptic message he were trying to decipher. He heard the door opening behind him, turned and saw Lily Smithe’s face peering round the door at him.
Something about her face seemed familiar. And something about it also seemed disturbingly real, as though he were in a dream and this face were trying to pull him back out into the real world.
The feeling filled him with fear, but at the same time also made him want to throw his arms around this woman, to run to her for refuge and give up his struggle. But all around him he could sense those monsters closing in on him and he knew what he had to do. He smiled at the woman and told her, “Hello; I’m your MP.”
Lily examined his face, then his blonde wig, his shopping basket, his woman’s overcoat, his hairy legs, his socks and his men’s black shoes. She then watched his face blankly for a moment, shook her head and withdrew, making to close the door.
Peter pushed against the door but she pushed back, then he pushed again and shouted, “I’m Peter Softly.”
The door went slack and she peered round it, saying, “Peter—?” frowning at his face and saying again, “Peter—?” She watched him blankly, then said, “Oh yes—I didn’t recognize you.” She stood aside and waved him in.

Nonfiction

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Traditional Chinese Medicine

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Traditional Chinese Medicine

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