Steve Ward: The Stain

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There is a coffee stain on the counter top. It pleads for the over weight and probably under sexed waitress to bring her sorry little rag and scrub at it vigorously. Of course, if she did I would have nothing. There would be nothing to focus on and I would be alone in the outer world. And if she did decide to eradicate the stain it would mean her exerting some degree of energy and that, I doubt, she would ever do.

It is no more than a centimetre in radius yet it is as big as the world I’ve made it. It emits both strong and harmful gravitational rays and tugs at my vulnerable eyeballs. They leak water from their corners with humourless enticement. There are sounds coming from outside the biosphere of this world I know as ‘The Stain’. There are voices; some brittle with energy and the verve of the street, some smooth and distended having spent too long in the apparent mass of the multiverse that can be referred to as ‘The Coffee Shop’. The ambient sounds of cups rattling into saucers wraps around the loud hiss of the coffee maker and the caustic hum hum hum of the glass washer. Somewhere amongst these sounds a stereo plays a CD by a progressive rock act harking back to the 70’s.

‘The Stain’ acts as a centre of information. It acts as a super brain, storing memory; some short term and some long. It also makes decisions and clarifies important matters. It has functioned in this manner for no more than 20 minutes yet its efficiency is startling. It is a super organism of dazzling potential. It has, in that short time span, removed any need for me to process or formulate any thought processes alone. The functions of ‘The Stain’ can be split into strict and succinct departments, as such:


Department of Current Scenario Analysis

Current location: Green House Coffee Shop, Oudezijdes Voorburgwal, Centrum, Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Specifics: Situated at bar area on raised stool with footrest. Upper body inclined towards counter, head being held upright by clammy palm placed under chin, elbow rested on counter top.

Localised Data: Immediate vicinity consists of empty glass drinking vessel, previously containing Heineken brand beer, glass ashtray containing half consumed hand rolled cigarette containing Camel brand tobacco and white widow marijuana buds. To the left of the subject is a male, approx. age mid twenties, of dual parentage, smoking unknown brand cigarette. To the right of the subject a recently vacated empty stool.

Wide area scan: Reveals a further seventeen various individuals, including two bar staff (one considerably overweight, one petit) and one marijuana dealer situated in far corner of coffee shop behind counter.


Department of Short Term Memory Analysis

Estimated arrival in current location: 20 minutes previous.

History: On arrival a Heineken brand beer was ordered twice (first attempt inaudible). Exact payment made on receipt of purchase. Seat taken at bar. Zig Zag brand cigarette paper taken from dispensing unit on bar, Camel brand cigarettes and small plastic bag containing White Widow marijuana removed from Levi Denim jacket upper pocket. Rolling of marijuana/tobacco cigarette carried out prior to Bic brand lighter being utilised to ignite. Approximately half of cigarette smoked before placing in ashtray due to subject’s inability to continue any function other than to merely ‘be’.


Department of Long Term Memory Analysis

Arrival in current city, approximated to have occurred seven hours prior to current location. Following check in at hotel several Heineken brand beers and four Courvoisier brand Brandy’s consumed while in company of long term acquaintance, now residing in current city. Three coffee shops visited with said acquaintance and six marijuana/tobacco cigarettes consumed and shared with acquaintance. During walk in heavily pedestrianised area of city the whereabouts of acquaintance become uncertain.

Senses enhanced immensely, increased anxiety and heart rate – streetlights and neon shop and café lights appear vivid. Approximately forty minutes prior to arrival in current location a bikini clad female, aged in her early thirties beckons from small glass fronted doorway. The female appears to be Asian in origin, 5 feet and 3 inches in height with short-cropped black hair, possibly synthetic. She is the fifth female in a five-minute period to offer sexual intercourse for cash payment. Due to intoxicated state of mind negotiation is opened. Agreement is made on One hundred Euros being paid to female in exchange for twenty minutes of sexual activity, including penetrative sexual intercourse.

Subject is led into small sterile room and curtain pulled across glass doorway. Female throws sealed Durex brand condom onto a brown duvet, which covers a double bed in centre of room. Female removes bikini. Female crouches over plastic bucket in corner of room and uses cloth to wipe genital area. Subject takes erect phallus from zip area of trousers while undoing condom package with teeth.

Condom is slid onto shaft of erect phallus by subject. Female lies on bed, opening her legs. No words are exchanged. Subject kneels between female’s legs before sliding phallus into vagina. During sexual intercourse subject experiences feeling of extreme nausea; resulting in projectile vomiting.

Female shows signs of distress due to amount of vomit covering her upper body, becoming aggressive towards subject. During altercation subjects eyes focus on metallic nail file resting on small Formica table top next to bed. Subject reaches for nail file and plunges object into throat area of female in excess of twenty times while pinning her body below his on bed.

Subject leaves room in state of considerable shock and scales steps back to ground level.

Subject slowly walks the streets until arrival at current location.


Department of Immediate Decision Making

Analysis suggests subject should leave current location immediately. Ideal destination: Schipol International Airport, via Hotel for collection of bag containing passport.


Department of Long Term Decision Making

Unable to process request due to insufficient data.


‘The Stain’ is blurring. I fear its mother board may have burned up due to a fan failure. It is trying to give me one final vital instruction but its sound card is melting. My head moves slightly and I feel a hand on my shoulder which causes me to shiver.

The world shatters like a light bulb exploding, causing my eyes to be dragged away from ‘The Stain’. Standing over me with a look of fear upon his face is a Policeman. Two of his colleague stand at the doorway, all wide eyed and clenched fists. It is then I realise all the previous sounds have stopped apart from the monotony of the retro music on the stereo.

As I am led from the coffee shop I steal a final glance over my shoulder at ‘The Stain.’ It is with surprise and a reticent smirk I realise it is not coffee that has caused and nourished the world of ‘The Stain’ and I also conclude it is no longer one centimetre in radius.

It is so glaringly obvious it is the crimson death blood of a dead or dying whore. It has so gleefully splashed from her jugular and onto my clothes and hands and in turn and in time onto the counter top, spreading itself like a child desperate for attention.

And maybe that is all I am, a child, desperate for any kind of attention. If so, my wish has come true.

nerd glasses with tape

Steve Ward

Steve Ward writes fiction because words help make sense of a crazy world – and because he is good at it. He has been fuelling the imaginations of those around him since the age of seven when he invented a new species of alien.

His unique work is a mixture of the weird and wonderful of the everyday, through to the normality of the highly unusual.

Inspired by adventures in far flung places, his work evokes a feeling that anything is possible – and that a crazy world is indeed a good world. An hour spent inside Steve’s head would be an experience.

He lives in Warwickshire and is currently working on a novel set in Mexico.

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