Ever picked out the perfect colour to paint your kitchen, the perfect suit to wear to your brother’s wedding, the perfect couch to go in the corner of your living room, and been perfectly happy with them, only to realise some days, weeks or months later that you made a rash decision and they’re not so perfect after all?
The supervisor got into the elevator without a word, leaving Megan slack-jawed on the fifth-floor landing, the mop slowly sliding from her grasp.
Surrounded by glass walls, the eyes of all the self-obsessed ants sitting at their desks in the open plan office beyond were on her, crawling all over her like even smaller, hungrier insects, desperate to know what had been said. As if seeing her gorilla of a supervisor pointing his finger in her face for the last five minutes with his other hand on his considerable hips, as if he were her father scolding her, didn’t give them enough of an idea.
It was partly her own fault this had happened.
But mostly theirs.
Cold. Unbelievable cold. So cold it burns. I lift my head from what I first think is my pillow and find myself looking at the shape of my face in the snow. A perfect mold. Of a man I do not recognize. I prop myself up on my elbows and touch my face. It’s numb, feels like it’s buried beneath an inch-thick, freezing rubber mask. I push back and work up to my knees. Jesus Christ, I’m naked, every inch of my body shivering and caked in snow. Not the fluffy shit you romanticize about at Christmas. This stuff is crystallized, sharp, and cuts into me like thousands of microscopic shards of glass as I stretch.
Everything is white. I wait for color to arrive into my vision, like what I’m seeing is the first few seconds of switching on an old TV set, but it doesn’t come. I get to my feet, uneasy, like a newborn deer, and survey my surroundings. Nothing but flat land for miles in any direction. No horizon, no mountains, no buildings, no nothing. Just white. And scrub. Crappy grass, weeds and random I-have-no-idea-what-it-is vegetation wherever I look.
Whatever I write next, that’s what it’s going to be called. Regardless of whether there’s even a girl in the story. Or a human for that matter. Never minds trains, gifts or tattoos of mythical fire-breathing beasts. I have to imagine that at some stage in the publication process, a version of this exchange sometimes takes place:
I was about a quarter of the way into writing a new novel when I made a stomach-churning discovery.
With the second half of The Walking Dead Season 4 beheaded and Season 1 of The Strain with a stake through its chest, I desperately needed a new TV show to get my teeth (pun not entirely unintended) stuck into. Having nothing left in my To-Watch folder, I wandered off for a browse around the online shelves, where I came across a French TV series called The Returned.
That particular title (one couldn’t honestly say it was in any way unique) was one I had toyed around with for my book. Hmmm. What were the odds?