The Last Bus

Bus passenger

One minute you have enough time for one last pint. Then three pints later you’re running for the last bus. Which was why when I made it to Pearse Street, I hoped against hope that the one of the buses approaching in the distance would have the lucky number 67 on their front.

When the blurred digits on the front of the first bus in the procession came into focus, I saw that it was out of service.


Same story with the next three.

They were all finished and going nowhere right now but back to the depot.

Right as the homing beacon was about to kick in and have me walk halfway home before hailing a cab to save a few euro, a bus pulled in right in front of me.

When I didn’t even have my hand out.

A bus driver looking for passengers? Nothing strange about that at all.

The doors opened with a hiss, and I realised I hadn’t even caught the route number.

“Come on, we’ve got lives to live,” said the driver.

“But where are you going?” I asked him.

“Home,” he said. “Chop, chop.”

It must have been the beer that made that make sense, because I climbed on, fishing my travelcard out of my wallet. But I couldn’t find the scanner, where it should have been.

“Don’t worry about it,” said the driver.

I couldn’t really see his face, what with the low light and the thick, scratched Perspex between us.

“The ride is free, is it?” I asked him.

He laughed, as the doors closed behind me and the bus pulled away from the kerb. “No such thing as a free ride, pal. You know that.”

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“I don’t understand, it was working just fine before you walked into the room,” said Paul. “I’m sorry about this, Doctor Caldwell, I don’t want to waste your time.”

“That’s okay, Paul. Let’s do this another time. I actually need the lab to myself. I have something rather urgent I need to clear up.”

Caldwell’s eyes moved to the apparently malfunctioning apparatus in front of Paul as the young scientist rebooted the software.

“I’ve seen you working on this in the past few weeks. What is it? Killer robot? Or at least a killer robot’s head?”

Paul pretended to smile. “Not quite. Giving its, um, face, a humanoid appearance just makes more sense in the context of our project. We’ve been teaching it, essentially, to mimic human facial expressions.” What Paul wanted to say next, he was sure, would elicit a more animated, dismissive reaction. So he did. “And duplicate human emotions.”

Continue reading “Eva”

The Bourne Substitution

Remember a few years back, when Paul Greengrass did ‘Green Zone’, and it had Matt Damon in it, but it wasn’t a Bourne movie? But that the studio wanted to remind us, all the same, that it was from the director of two Bourne movies and that it had Jason Bourne in it? But it wasn’t actually anything like a Bourne movie?

Or when ‘The Adjustment Bureau’ came along and they told us it was like ‘Inception meets (you’ll never guess, really) Bourne’? Well, why not keep everyone happy and take practically every film Matt Damon has been in and substitute the titles with Bourned-up versions?

I did.

The Martian

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“The Rug”

Even now, I can’t bring myself to tell my mother about the rug.

At some stage, every little boy has a fire phase. A fascination with the flame, if you will. It calls out to each of us at some point. And it sang its song, luring me on to the rocks, or on to the hearth, when I was about twelve years of age.

Circumstances aligned each weeknight beautifully while that fascination lasted.

My mother, my very house-proud mother, worked nights, in the bar of a theatre in the city centre. And to make it there on time, she would have to leave and head off into town in her blue Mini City at ten to seven.

Now, my father didn’t arrive home from the factory he worked in as a welder until a quarter past seven, typically. So that gave me roughly twenty, twenty-five minutes to work.

To experiment. To play. With fire.

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