The Fifth Severance

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Chapter 4

My tired eyes open suddenly, the way you would expect them to do after a really emotional dream or a horrible nightmare. I try to raise my hands to rub the crust out of my eyes but as expected, I have been chained to a table again.

“How did you sleep?” a man to my left asks me. It definitely isn’t Alexandria or Dr. Knoster’s voice so I decide to reply.

“Like a victim of kidnap,” I say as I squirm in the chains to show him that I don’t approve.

“Oh, sorry about the chains,” he says. “Dr. Alfred came in here last night with you on a stretcher and he vehemently instructed us to restrain you because you are both hostile and dangerous.”

“Well, I don’t think I’m dangerous, and I’m hardly hostile so let me go, now,” I say sternly.

“No can do.” He picks up a beaker and holds it up to the light to examine it. “If it were up to me, you would never have been kept here anyways. But,” he puts the beaker on the table and looks at me, “He’s the boss, and the boss’s word, is law.”

He turns and continues with what he was doing. I just stare at the ceiling since I want my mind to wander a bit. The cool tangerine colour of the walls makes it very easy to relax.

“She came for you you know.” The man’s voice brings me out of my mental journey of relaxation.

“Huh? Who did?”

“Alexandria, the doctor’s little sister,” he says without looking back at me. “She came here after Dr. Alfred left to ask us to let you go. When we told her that you couldn’t leave without her brother’s permission, she started making trouble for us and she complained very loudly. She even refused to leave until one of us had to drag her back to her home and lock her up there.”

“Wow, Alexandria did all that for me?” I say and he nods. I just smile and continue staring at the ceiling as a warm feeling swirls through my insides.

“So why do you take orders from him anyway?”


“Dr. Alfred.”

He pauses what he was doing and leans on the edge of the table on which he was playing with chemicals on with his hands as he formulates a suitable answer to give me.

“Well, I don’t know really,” he says. “Maybe it’s because he saved all our lives. Or, maybe it’s because his way works. If it ain’t broke, then don’t fix it I like to say.” He walks over to a sink to wash some test tubes and beakers.


After a few minutes of silence, as if right on cue, the object of my scorn walks in.

“Good morning Joseph,” he says. “Can I have a moment with alone Dr. Blay? I hope he wasn’t too much trouble.”

Joseph, which must be the name of the man I’ve been talking to all this time, returns the greeting, tells him I was good and quickly exits the room. Dr. Alfred pulls up a chair and sits near my face. If it were yesterday, I would have spat right in his face but today, for some reason, it just seems really immature and disgusting.

“Well speak of the devil,” I say when his face is close enough to mine for him to hear it.

“Look Dr. Blay, first I want to apologise for how roughly you have been bound but after such a strong stun, we needed to keep you as still as possible.”

“Please, if you are worried about me ripping off your eyebrows and inserting them into where the sun doesn’t shine, then don’t. My violent urges have been completely suppressed for some strange reason.”

“I’m glad to hear that, but that isn’t the reason why you are chained up.”

“Huh? But that’s what you told him,” I make a motion to Joseph who is out in the hallway with my head.

“Oh yes, I had to give him a good reason to keep you here and keep you tightly restrained otherwise he wouldn’t have done it.”

“Really?” I say and he nods. “Then why am I chained up?”

“Let’s take a walk Dr. Blay. Joseph!” He appears through the door. “Please take the chains off Dr. Blay.”

“Are you sure Dr. Knoster?” he says with an apprehensive look on his face. “You said he was violent and out of control.”

“That’s all in the past. I’m quite sure Dr. Blay has mellowed. Isn’t that right?” He turns to me.

“Oh yes, I no longer have the urge to rip off his eyebrows and insert them into where the sun doesn’t shine.”

He glances at me with a scowl on his face as I giggle. “Please hurry Joseph, we have somewhere to be.”

I hear him walk over to a table, grab a key off it then hear a lot of metallic scratching as the chains slide off my wrists and ankles. I get off the table and stretch since I was completely still for one whole night. I look at the man whom I would have killed yesterday, had it not been for Alexandria’s intervention and smile nervously. All of a sudden, I don’t feel all that much murderous anymore.

“Shall we go?” he asks me.

I nod and he gets off his chair in a really agile manner not known of a man of his age. He must still be very fit. He really would have been able to pull of his little scam hadn’t it been for that calendar which was left carelessly in the bathroom but still, it takes a lot more than that to fool me.

“So why did you do it Dr. Alfred?” I ask.

“Do what?” he asks as if he doesn’t know what I mean.

“Why did you lie to me? Why did you tell me it had been just a couple of years since the blast when you knew in fact that it had actually been sixty-six years?”

“Oh, I wouldn’t call that lying,” he crosses his legs. “I would rather say I bent the truth for the safety and benefit of all those involved.”

“That’s still lying Alfie,” Alexandria says from behind us.

“You’re just bitter because I didn’t let you in on my plan.” She does that sulking face and stares blankly at the ceiling.

“So about this plan, enlighten me.” I sit back in my seat and cross my arms with a fully-focused glare on him.

“Oh that, it was quite a simple plan actually,” he says. “I foresaw that sooner or later, you would find out the truth about the time frame we are in before I told you so before I left, I slipped Alexandria a photon taser fixed with a hormone I designed called Hormone X. The rest of my brilliant plan pretty much worked itself out as you saw.”

“Then why did you have me chained up anyways?” I say. “And what is this ‘Hormone X’?”

“Well, you see, after the blast, some people found it...difficult, to grasp the reality that all life outside the Underworld is either gone, or mutated beyond all reason which was to be expected since our brains are largely limited. As a result, they began to make a lot of trouble for us. I set out to develop a chemical hormone that would open the minds of the people to make them a bit more...receptive to our ideas and the new lives that lay before them.”

“Wait,” I hold my hand up to stop him from speaking further. “When you say you opened their minds, do you mean something along the lines of brainwashing or mind control?”

“Oh, hardly Dr. Blay,” he says. “This isn’t the 16th Century. The hormone merely increased the brain’s power from the pitiful 6% it functioned at, to around 10%.”

“Wow, and this worked?”

“Look around Dr. Blay,” he spreads his arms as if signalling to the whole room. “This whole utopia is a technological wonder. And to think that all of this wonderment was achieved with only 10% of the ability of our minds! Imagine what we could accomplish with 20, or 50, or dare I say, 100%! That is pushing the very boundaries of time and space right there!”

He was beginning to rant like a mad scientist and Alexandria notices this because she brings him a cup of water and rubs his head like a mum rubbing her child’s head after he has too much sugar to eat and is feeling the effect of the headache afterwards.

“You got a little carried away there Alfie,” she says

“Yes, you know how excited I get about pushing the boundaries of time and space.”

“Yes, yes, I know but still you have to take it easy. You remember what Dr. Whitford said? Your heart isn’t what it used to be anymore.”

That name, Dr. Whitford rings loud bells in my head that induce another migraine and I clutch my head. He gulps down the rest of the water and hands the cup to Alexandria who disposes of it. He now sits there staring at me.

“Anything else on your mind Dr. Blay?”

“Ummm, yes actually,” he says. “You still haven’t told me why you needed to have me chained up all night.”

“Oh, didn’t I? I thought I did.” I shake my head. “Well, okay, it’s quite simple. The hormone, as stable as it is, also has a number of excess electrons in it that are discharged by the brain after the core process of multiplying electrons. When the subject remains still while the hormone operates, the process is done smoothly, but if the person moves around while the hormone operates, some electrons could lose their way while exiting the brain. This could lead to serious brain damage, and in rare cases, death.”

“I figured as much.”

“Did you now?”

“Yes, well anyway, does it mean that I currently operate using 10% of my brain?”


“That’s...great,” I say tentatively. I know this all sounds cool and all but I have doubts about someone messing about in my head.

“Yes, quite ‘cool’ indeed.”

We sit there in a blissful, reflective silence until Alexandria reaffirms her presence in the room.

“Awww, look at my two boys bonding over science. Isn’t that sweet?”

“Who is your boy, Alexandria?” She walks over and places her tiny hand on our heads.

“This one is my boy brother,” she says while referring to Dr. Alfred, “and this one is my boy friend.”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa, since when did I become your boyfriend?” I wriggle my head from under her palm.

“Well, you are a boy aren’t you?” I nod. “And you are my friend, right?”

“I’m not so sure about that.” She smacks me starts to giggle.

“You’re silly,” she says. “You are a boy, and you are my friend, even if you say you aren’t, then you must be my boyfriend.”

“If it makes sense to you, then roll with it girl,” I say to her.

“It does,” she says. “Hey, I’m off to get a nazelberry breakfast smoothie. Any of you guys want one?”

“None for me Alex,” Dr. Alfred says. “You know I’m watching my blood sugar.”

“Okay captain elderly,” she says. “What about you Dr. Blay?”

“Ummm, what exactly is a nazelberry?”

“It’s the genetic combination of a hazel nut and a blueberry,” she says. “It’s to die for.”

“Wow, sounds...interesting,” I say. “I’d like to try it.”

“Okay, coming right up.” She gives me the thumbs up sign as she exits the room. The elevator doors whooshes close and we are left in the silence, with only each other as company. Somebody please kill me now!

“So...have you watched any good movies lately?” I say in an attempt to break the awkward silence that has inevitably ensued between us.

“All the good actors are either dead or mutated,” he says. “The only movies left are old movies which I’ve seen countless times.” Wow, that is the most buzz kill answer that he could have possibly given. I just sit and nod awkwardly.

I sit and continuously scan the room for something interesting but there is only so much interest you can generate from a pure white room.

“So...” I’m going to make another attempt to revive or start this dying conversation. “When did you...” I was about to give a killer topic that would have surely drawn him in, that is, until I hear a scratching sound that captures my attention. “What was that?” I look around frantically.

“I didn’t hear anything,” he says.

“I could swear I heard something,” I say as I hear another sound only this time, much, much closer than the other one.

I was about to get off my seat to investigate the mysterious sound but I hear a faint growling sound from above me, an almost inhuman sound.

I slowly crane my neck upwards to the roof and I yelp when I see a purple creature hanging from the roof above me, dripping green slobber on me. Before I have the chance to react, the creature dives down on me and attaches itself to my face with its incredibly sharp claws. I immediately roll onto the floor with my hands frantically tugging at its legs. I try to get to my feet but the creature is really heavy. I try hitting its back but that just makes it even angrier. It gives a loud screech and tightens its grip on my face. It smells like old dirty socks and I can feel some vomit rushing into my mouth. Maybe if I puke on it it’ll let go.

I’m extremely surprised that Dr. Alfred hasn’t even bothered to help me as this beast tears into my flesh. I manage to get to my feet and ran into a wall but it just screeches again and tightens its grip. I go back to the floor and begin rolling around in complete agony.

“Chimpie, no! Release! Release!” I hear a familiar voice from the other side of the room. I have been grappling with this beast for well over ten minutes and my saviour has finally arrived.

The claws that have been digging into my face finally release and the creature that wields them scampers to its owner’s leg.

I vomit a bit in my mouth as I get to my feet and spit it into a trash can. “What is that thing?” I say as I feel the deep, bleeding claw marks on my face and scowl at the creature which caused them. It is busy hugging Alexandria’s leg and looking innocent which it most definitely isn’t.

It sort of looks like a monkey, but it has purple fur, two tails and four arms. It certainly isn’t a creature I’ve come across before.

“Oh, you mean Chimpie?” She bends down to pick up the monstrosity which gladly enters her arms and licks her face. “She’s my pet, a mutated spider monkey.”

“You call that thing a pet?” I say as I rub my bleeding face punctures and dab a tissue at them.

“Don’t call her a thing!” she scolds me. “She’s sensitive.”

“You know what’s sensitive?” I say.


“The skin on my face!” She just dismisses me with a wave and continues making out with that thing. I would have vomited again right now if Dr. Alfred didn’t just snort loudly.

“Huh? What? What happened?” he snorts awake and I just realised that he had been asleep the whole time. At least now I know he isn’t that heartless. He would have helped me if he had been awake, right? Right?

“I’m back and Dr. Blay tried to kill Chimpie.”

“I did not! It attacked me!”

“Likely story,” he says while siding with his sister. Big surprise there.

“It’s true!”

“Sure it is,” she picks up the brown bag from the chair and tosses it to me. “Here’s your smoothie.”

“Thank you.”

I fan through the bag for a straw and poke the one I find into the white cup. They both stare at me expectantly as I take it in my lips and suck slowly, trying to savour the taste of this drink that had been praised so fervently by Alexandria. I’m expecting to taste something heavenly.

The moment the thick pulpy liquid touches my tongue, my gag reflex immediately kicks in. I almost spit out the drink but manage to swallow much of it after seeing her face with wide eyes expecting me to tell her how much I enjoyed it, which is very hard since it tastes like what I always imagined what raw sewage might taste like.

“So...what do you think?” she asks with wide eager eyes that plead with me not to disappoint them.

“Ummm, I guess it was an...interesting taste,” I say as I forcibly gulp the rest of the hianus liquid down and feel my stomach die slowly. At least I’m not lying. That taste was certainly interesting to say the very least.

“When you say interesting, what exactly do you mean?” Oh no, I’m trapped. I have to come up with something convincing to say to her. When nothing convincing enough comes to mind, I realise I may have to tell her the truth.

“Okay, to tell you the truth, I really think that this drink tastes...” I look into her wide green eyes on a face on a body that is expecting a positive answer. I just can’t break her heart. “Awesome. So tropical.”

“Yes, I knew you would like it! I drink it every day,” she says excitedly as if that’s a good thing.

“I wish I could,” I lie as my stomach churns violently at that statement and threatens to release the probably toxic substance I just ingested as protest but I manage to keep it down.

I see Dr. Alfred staring at me. His eyes look glassy and soulless through his thick glasses and for some reason I just know he’s thinking up something really evil.

“Alex, Dr. Blay still looks thirsty, please give him some more to drink.” I knew it.

“Oh no, I’m fine,” I say almost pleadingly.

“Don’t be silly,” he says. “You have already finished yours and you still look quite thirsty.”

“I haven’t finished it, mine is right here on this chair, see?” I look to my right on the chair on which I left the cup and see the semi-mutated monkey slurping up the last of my nasty juice.

I feel like shaking my fist at Chimpie in a comedic fashion but what good would that do? I just admit inner defeat as Alexandria walks towards me with another cup.

“You can have the rest of mine,” she says holding up her half empty cup toward me.

“I insist you finish it. I’m fine.”

“Oh, but I thought you liked it?” Her eyes drop her and I’m afraid that she’s going to shed tears. Not knowing what to do, I grab the cup from her hand.

“I’m actually feeling a bit thirsty all of a sudden.”

I take a giant slurp of it but almost instantly, the nasty juice gets stuck in my throat. I try fervently to swallow it but for some reason, my body simply refuses to allow it in. I have three options now: One, stand there and keep trying to swallow which would most likely end up with me dying from suffocation. Two, spit it out onto the floor and break Alexandria’s heart and three, spit it all over that demon spawn Dr. Alfred, still break Alexandria’s heart but at least I’ll have had my revenge. Number two is the easiest option and three is the favoured option. I’m going with three.

I am just about to spray Dr. Alfred with the disgusting concoction which is now diluted with a huge amount of saliva in my mouth but before I can do that, they both burst into hysterical laughter for some reason. I slowly spit the juice into the cup and hand it to Chimpie. She quickly slurps it down. Disgusting.

“What’s so funny?” I ask but they are still head over heels with laughter so I just take a seat to wait for them to cool down. “Are you quite done yet?” I ask after five minutes of awkwardness where they have been laughing and I have been staring around the room aimlessly as my stomach churns from that abominable beverage.

“Oh yes, I’m fine now,” she says as she picks herself off the floor and wipes the tears from her eyes.

“Are you sure you’re fine now?”

“Yeah, I’m sure.”

“No more unnecessary laughter?”

“Nope, not that I know off.”

“Good, so exactly what was so funny that it had you guys literally rolling on the floor?”

“Look, please don’t be mad but...there is no such thing as a nazelberry.”

“What do you mean? You just made me drink a nazelberry drink, which was nasty to say the least.”

“It’s actually quite a funny story.”

“I’m not laughing.”

“Well, you will be because this was all a harmless prank.”

“What? A prank?” I ask and she nods. “What was the prank?”

“It was Alfie’s idea actually, an initiation ritual if you wish.”

“What was the prank?” I raise my voice a bit because she is intentionally beating about the bush to create suspense.

“Okay, ugh, so impatient,” I glare at her with daggers in my eyes. “Yeah, well, Alfie doubted whether we could completely trust you and I said we could. He still wasn’t completely sure so he suggested we have a little fun with it. I was on my way to pick up Chimpie’s special smoothie and he gave me the condition that if I can get you to take a drink of it he’ll trust you.”

I don’t like where this is going.

“Continue,” I say bluntly.

“Well, I invented a drink in my mind and told you about it, knowing you would be curious. When I brought it, you drank it and now Alfie trusts you. All’s well that ends well,” she gets up to walk away but she’s not going to escape that easily.

“Wait, sit,” I say and she pauses and comes back to sit by me. “I understand everything about the test and the initiation ritual but what is really bothering me right now is exactly what was in that drink.”

“Trust me, you do not want to know.”

“Trust me, I do.”

“Fine, you asked for it,” she says. “The smoothie was made out of blended tree bark, which is all that Chimpie can eat and assorted...others.”

“Assorted others? What is that?”

“You really do not want to know.”

“Gosh just spit it out girl!.”

“It’s insects, Dr. Blay! They blend insects and mix the paste together with the tree bark to give it that earthy texture and flavour that Chimpie likes.”

The moment those horrifying words escape her lips, register in my brain and my brain gives a signal to my stomach, all the food I’ve eaten in the past few hours, which includes a sandwich and a bowl of cereal which that Joseph man gave me starts rising to my mouth. I immediately leap off my seat.

“Where’s the bathroom?” I say frantically while holding my hand to my mouth to keep from spewing the contents of my stomach on the white floor and walls.

“Through there,” she points to a door behind her and I immediately rush toward it and open it, albeit much swirling which was a waste of my time.

I practically jump toward the toilet and gladly deposit all the contents of my stomach, and much extra which I have no idea how they got in there; probably some food from 66 years ago. As I feel the developing ulcer and finally finish up after five straight minutes of continuous upchucking, I make a mental note that I definitely have to get my revenge on them for this, yes, one way or another. Oh yes, I will for sure or my name isn’t Dr. Ignatius Blay.

“I really don’t appreciate that bout of projectile vomiting you just brought upon me,” I say while wiping my mouth in case an errant spew of vomit is splattered somewhere.

“So sorry Dr. Blay, we didn’t mean any harm,” I hear a faint snicker in her voice which she tries to suppress. “We didn’t realise you had such a weak stomach. I drink them all the time and I kinda like it.” I stare into her face with shear disgust, then walk over to the water dispenser and take a drink.

“You know Chimpie licked that right?” she says and I stop drinking and start violently scratching my tongue.

“Are you serious?”

“Of course not,” she says with a chuckle in her tone. “You are so easy.”

“Well, if that’s that, all the violent vomiting has made me hungry. Who’s up for some lunch?” I see them stare at each other in a weird way then back at me.

“Actually,” Alexandria finally speaks up, “I wanted to show him this cool diner in Sector 12,” she says as she stares hopefully at Dr. Alfred and finally he gives us his consent. She practically drags me off my chair and out of the room.

When we reach the hoverboard station, I feel a burning sensation in my throat. I try coughing but that seems to only make it worse and now I’m hunched over and coughing profusely. I’m in so much pain and the bad part is I don’t know what to do about it.

“What’s wrong Dr. Blay?” I feel her hand on my back.

“I feel this horrible burning sensation in my throat that won’t go away even if I cough really hard.”

“I think I know what’s causing that.” I feel her tap my back firmly and it relieves the pain a bit as some liquid enters my mouth and I spit it out then rise to full length.

“Thanks. How did you do that anyways?” I ask as she climbs onto the hoverboard. “Wait, you still want me to ride that thing in my condition?”

“Yes of course; we need to get some food inside you quickly. You have way too much stomach acid,” she taps my belly, “That’s what’s causing the acid reflux. When was the last time you ate anyways?”

“Ummm, last night I think.”

“Wow, then that really must have been one painful upchuck. Again, so sorry.” Usually I would have just waved it away but this time I’m hell-bent on getting my revenge.

“To Sector 12,” she inputs the destination into the system and we begin moving. I clutch my belly as the board begins to move and try to keep still. I wouldn’t want to vomit up here because that would be an interesting and colourful rain for all those below us.

After a series of unholy turns and twists that would have normally made me feel sick, had there been anything in my stomach, we finally arrive in Sector 12. I shake my head violently to get my eyes to work again. After the third loopty-loop I’m pretty sure all the stomach acid in my throat found its way into my eyeballs because they started to burn immensely and my eyesight became blurry. After the profuse wiggling, I slowly and thankfully regain my sight as Alexandria helps me off the hoverboard.

The moment my vision completely clears up, the structure I see before my eyes floods countless memories to my head and I freeze from shock.

My mind immediately whizzes back to when I was 21 and I remember walking into this exact diner, well not this exact one but another location, with my laptop in one hand and a coffee in the other with dreams of being the next big sci-fi writer in my mind. I slunk over to one of the seats, ordered a plate of fries and began work on my first novel, Akasora Infinite. I came up with the name myself and was really proud of it.

After half an hour of hard thinking and barely a sentence of note, barring the title and my name, I sat back in my chair and considered giving up because it was obvious that this was going nowhere. I allowed my eyes to wander around the restaurant, hoping they will stumble upon some inspiration; nothing.

After suffering from intense writer’s block for about half an hour, I decided to give up and leave but as I got up, I spotted a girl with reddish-brown haired in the far corner of the room reading a large book. I sat back in the booth and time seemed to stand still when I stared at her.

When I snapped back to reality, I clearly remember checking the corners of my mouth to see if I had been drooling and thanking the heavens that I was dry. I looked at my watch and with surprise saw that I had been staring at her for almost twenty minutes. I was about to tell a group of girls from my class off who were staring at me and laughing but they immediately dissipated into the background as I spotted the girl get of her seat and walk my way with her giant book in her hand. I quickly did the routine check-up any guy does when he sees an attractive girl approaching; the hair, awesome as usual; breath, was a bit too potatoey but good enough, zipper, up, thankfully, and my shirt wasn’t stained so I was good.

“Excuse me, miss?” I said to her as she passed by.

“Yes, how may I help you?” The smile she flashed in my direction knocked me back like a strong wind.

“Ummm, yes, I saw you reading that book and it looks like you know a thing or two about, books. I actually need some help, a lot of help. I’m writing my own novel but I’m stuck. Can you help me?”

I remember thinking whether that was that too forward or not or if she’ll even sit. I cowered a bit in fear that she might slap me in disgust. These were just a few of the billions of thoughts that flew through my mind in about two seconds as I awaited her reply.

“Wow, cool,” she set her book and book bag on the table and sat down by me as she took a look at my laptop screen. “You haven’t even started yet?”

I recall a horrible sweat break out all over my body when I realised that in my haste I must have forgotten the most important part of a book, words. At that point I was absolutely sure that she was going to see me as a pretentious loser and leave.

“Ummm, I actually just have the title,” I said as she’s stared at my face with a superb curiosity. I vividly remember a sweat break out over my forehead as her gaze warmed me up like a heat lamp.

“Okay, that’s okay, it’s good actually; we can start everything from scratch. Do you have an idea for...Akasora infinite, wow, very...interesting title.”

“Well, it’s supposed to be sci-fi,” I said with pride because I knew the word ‘sci-fi’.

“Okay, so what about the characters?” I just stared at her like she just spoke an alien language. “What about the setting? The plot? Have you at least written the synopsis?” I wasn’t really doing very well at wooing her at that point.

Up to this day I still don’t know what that thing is. Isn’t a synopsis that disease old people get a lot? Oh wait, that’s cirrhosis.

If she didn’t before, I was now almost certainly expecting her to dismiss me as a poser with a laptop who thought that because I had a cool title I could call myself an author. To my utter surprise, she actually began the story for me and came up with a few characters for me to develop. I just sit there in awe as she explained to me the need to outline the plot and get the characters before starting to type. She asked me to do this and promised to see me around. She left me there star struck because she had a class to attend.

As she walked out of the diner, I suddenly realised that I never got her name or her number so I grabbed my laptop and ran toward the door, since this was such a crime-ridden town and burst out of the doors hoping to see her. She must have taken a taxi because when I got there, sadly she was nowhere to be found. I turned, walked back inside and slump back into my seat thinking that I had lost her forever.

Maybe she was just an angel. She felt so real, she was so perfect.

I sighed reflectively as I picked up my stuff and prepared to head back to my dorm to think about her for a few hours before my Halo tournament with my friends. Yes, I was a huge nerd back in college.

While I was on my bed that evening, inevitably thinking about her, I got to thinking and realised that if I do indeed get to see her again, I must at least have had a plot ready and a few characters also to show her that at least I was serious about writing this book. I set out that night to do just that.

I went back to that restaurant for three days straight and and still there was no sign of her. The waitresses there even started expecting me and began calling me ‘love-sick Iggy’. On the fourth day, I felt like dismissing her as my beautiful dark twisted fantasy and toss my dreams of ever seeing her again in the trash. I also planned to sulk in a depressed manner for the next few days just for good measure.

Just as I was about to give up and leave, I felt a familiar presence next to me characterised by her distinctive strawberry perfume. I looked up into her smiling face and dropped my stuff back on the table. Thank God I ordered that extra milkshake in hopes that she would show up.

“Where were you off to?” she asked as she took a seat by me.

“Oh, nowhere, I was just...organising my stuff.” I told a little white lie. “Honestly, I thought you weren’t going to come.”

“Why wouldn’t I come? I left you a note didn’t I? I stared at her like she just spoke an alien language again. “On the bottom of your computer. Didn’t you see it?”

I flip over the black Toshiba machine and sure enough, there is a yellow sticky note taped to the bottom and it read:

See you on Tuesday. Get some proper characters and get a plot. Heart Martina. XOXO

”Your name is Martina?”

“Yes I am Martina Alexandria Bratislava,” she says and I immediately realise why her accent sounded so foreign to me. “And what’s your name?”

“I’m Ignatius Blay, but all my friends call me Iggy.”

“I prefer Ignatius,” she said as she flipped open her notepad. “I came up with some incredible ideas for the book.”

We worked until really late in the evening when the diner was closing and that waitresses cheered us out of the place to my utter embarrassment.

After about two months of bonding over the book, I finally mustered up the courage to ask her out. We come to this very diner where we first met on our first date, well not this exact one but one of the branches. That book we were working on actually turned out to be the first novel in her career as a writer but she renamed it ‘Infinite’. It went bestseller. About a hundred dates and numerous adventures later, and also about three years later, we got married.

The rest, as we say, is history.

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