I think about pinball, and how being a kid’s like being shot up the firing lane and there’s no veering left or right;
you’re just sort of propelled. But once you clear the top, like when you’re sixteen, seventeen, or eighteen, suddenly
there’s a thousand different paths you can take, some amazing, others not.
Tiny little differences in angles and speed’ll totally alter what happens to you later, so a fraction of an inch to the right, and the ball’ll just hit a pinger and a dinger and fly down between your flippers, no messing, a waste of 10 p. But a fraction to the left and it’s action in the play zone, bumpers and kickers, ramps and slingshots and fame on the high-score table. My problem is, I don’t know what I want, apart from a bit of money to buy food later on today. Until the day before yesterday all I wanted was Vinny, but I won’t make that mistake again. Like a shiny silver pinball whizzing out of the firing lane, I’ve not got the faintest bloody clue where I’m going or what’ll happen next.
Through the thorny roses, between swaying bushes, down the dusty lawn, I run. I run like I’ve never run. The sun’s in my face and the wall’s not far. Halfway there, when I get to the trellis thing, I look back; he’s not running after me, like I dreaded, just standing there, a few steps from Ian and Heidi, who’re still lying dead so he’s letting me go–why who cares why he’s a mental psycho so run run run run run run, but, run, but, but, run, but . . . But I’m slowing, slowing, how, why, what, my heart’s straining like crazy, but it’s like the brake and accelerator are being pressed at the same time but whatever’s slowing down isn’t inside me, it’s not poison, it’s outside me, it’s time slowing up or gravity pulling harder, or air changing to water, or sand, or treacle . . . I have dreams like this–but I’m awake, it’s daytime, I know I’m awake . . . But, impossibly, I’ve stopped, like a statue of a runner, one foot raised for the next stride that’ll never come. This is mad. Infeckingsane. It occurs to me I ought to try to scream for help, it’s what people do, but all that comes out is this grunt spasm noise . . .
. . . and the world starts shrinking back towards the bungalow, hauling me along with it, helplessly.