The walls are freshly painted, bone white gleaming under halogen. They are always being painted, as stains are likely to seep out of nowhere, sometimes overnight, sometimes taking months before they become visible. The building stands on a traffic island to the south of the city, a circular structure which an architect designed to resemble a crashed flying saucer. Various companies have passed through the site– a telephone marketing firm, an insurance company, a start-up developing complex algorithms for use in the medical sciences– all of them folding into acrimony and debt. Eventually, the lot was bought by the government and now it houses an obscure research group, an offshoot of the Unit of Disaster Management. Staff turnover is high, but those that remain have grown accustomed to the atmosphere of the building. A shriek of plumbing at odd moments, strange lights appearing during the early evening. Asthma and eczema are common amongst the staff, as well as a forgetfulness over personal events, lacuna in personal history which seems to lift on passing beyond the walls. A mood of hexed banality, as though the brickwork possessed the properties of photographic film: capturing old rage, bullying and harassment, tears over miscarriages and divorce, failed lust and the inexorable hopelessness of the grind.
Published by Daniel Bennett
I'm a writer and poet. My first novel, All the Dogs, appeared in 2008, and was described by Niall Griffiths as 'a stirring debut, a compellingly written tract on the importance of finding a place on the earth.' My fiction has appeared in London Noir, Crimewave, Black Static and 3AM. I live in London, where, amongst other things, I teach Creative Writing for the Open University. https://absenceclub.com View all posts by Daniel Bennett