To give up whisky? Hahaha! Not a chance. I was lucky enough this year to get a bottle of Aldi’s Glen Marnoch 25-year-old Speyside single malt. £40! For 25-year old single malt! It’s really good too. It only comes out at Christmas and you have to be quick. I only found one this year, missed it entirely in previous years. It’s one to savour because it won’t even be possible to get another one until next Christmas.
The Glen Marnoch 12-year-old is another good one, also a Christmas/New Year release but easier to get hold of. The whole Glen Marnoch range is, for the price, exceptionally good. They also have vatted malts – Hogwash and a new one called Highland Select – that are not only comparable to Monkey Shoulder for a much lower price, the bottles also fit in the Monkey Shoulder cage if you have one. Give up whisky? Nah.
How about going vegan? Um… no. Our Christmas dinner was done Danish style by CStM. Duck, stuffed with a mix of mainly pork and beef mince (none of this oatmeal or breadcrumbs nonsense) and served with roast potatoes, caramelised potatoes and red cabbage.
What’s that you say? Red cabbage is healthy? Well it probably started out that way but then it was fried in butter with added sugar, cider vinegar, apple juice, goose fat and other things to batter the healthiness out of it. You’ll have to talk to CStM for the recipes. I just eat it.
So, vegan, well it’s really not going to work out for me. Veganuary and Dry January are not on my resolutions list and never will be.
Still, I thought that as I enter my sixtieth year, I should at last make one actual resolution. I have considered resolving to keep up to date with the accounts so the annual tax return does not have me considering the destruction of the entire planet as a means to avoid doing it. Meh. I will never get sufficiently organised except in those years where I am certain to get a rebate.
So I have decided on a resolution. I will finish ‘Panoptica’ before it all comes true. It could be tight, but I am determined. So how can I force myself to stick to this?
I wrote the first draft of ‘Norman’s House’ in a month. Really. It was a challenge on a writing site. I had to turn in so many words per day on that story and it worked! I completed the first draft in one month! It then took a hell of a lot of editing to get it into shape but the first draft was complete, the story was done, and if I hadn’t got distracted by writing the prequel (Jessica’s Trap) and publishing that first, it would have been on sale years ago.
Not that it matters. No bugger is buying it anyway. Last quarter I was the only one on the Leg Iron Books list with no sales 😦
Well, what I lack in talent I make up for in sheer bloodyminded persistence. So I’m going to do it again. This time I resolve to post one chapter of ‘Panoptica’ here per week, at least. I’m ahead by a good margin at the moment but this will force me to stay ahead.
It won’t be the shiny finished edited book, of course. It will be the raw story. So maybe it’ll still sell one or two copies in the end but what the hell, I’m never going to be a famous author. Not unless I come up with something to outrage the Daily Mail.
Readers, both of you are hereby granted nagging rights if chapters are late and of course, critiques are always welcome. I will fix nothing until it is all complete but every critique will be noted and considered for the final edit. This is going to be first draft stuff. Chapter One is below. Chapter Two is due before next Thursday. I’m okay for about the next three months but I will have to stay ahead of due dates. It’s the only way to force myself to do it.
Why not one chapter per day? Because I have other people’s books to edit and publish and the anthologies will start up again in March. One a week seems fair and achievable.
So here we go. My only real New Year Resolution in nearly 60 years. Let’s see if I can keep it.
Panoptica. Chapter One
10538 stepped onto the bus and placed his palm on the fare scanner.
The robot driver whirred for a moment then intoned: “10538. Two hundred and twenty-four grams overweight. Walk to the next stop and retry.”
The smug disapproval on the faces of the other passengers made 10538 lower his head. He stepped down from the bus and kept his eyes on the ground until it had pulled away.
Overweight! How can this happen to me?
It must have been the excitement of seeing the ghost and watching the ghosthunters catch him. That would have been what distracted him from his chair exercises while he watched the monitors at work. Sedentary jobs risk obesity. He knew it, he had been told often enough.
With a sigh, 10538 set out for the next bus stop, some three hundred metres away.
It had to be worth a little self-sacrifice to have been the one to catch the ghost. 10538 consoled himself with the knowledge that had he not spotted the ghost’s onesie pattern to be that of a retired unit, a terrorist might still be at large. He also showed no RFID on the street scanners so had no identifying chips installed.
How can he live unchipped?
With no chips he couldn’t get the bus, couldn’t buy food, couldn’t open any doors. Nobody monitored his health. He could reach a full kilo overweight and not realise he was about to die of cancer.
10538 quickened his pace. He was nearly a quarter kilo overweight himself, and therefore at risk until he returned to his correct body standard.
Waiting at the next stop was 11712, who worked in the chip monitor department. 10538 dreamed of the day he would be promoted from watching his screens to watching theirs. 11538 had a nice ring to it, he thought.
They nodded to each other and held up their right hands, where their designations were tattooed on their palms.
“10538. You usually get the bus before me.”
10538 coughed and pretended to look for the bus. “I felt like a walk. It’s a nice day and walking is good for health.”
“Of course.” The smirk on 11712’s face was clear. There was only ever one reason to walk to the next stop. “We must all remain healthy. It’s our duty to not burden the health service with our selfish bad habits.”
Desperate to change the subject, 10538 took the only route available to him. “Hey. I caught a ghost today.”
“You’re a ghosthunter now?” 11712 raised one eyebrow. “You can’t be, or you’d be 46538.”
“No, I mean I spotted him on the street cams. He had no RFID, and his onesie code was for 71556, who was recorded as retired three years ago and the designation has not been reallocated.” 10538 puffed out his chest with pride, then let it fall in case it made him look fatter than he was. “I was the one who called it in.”
“I thought the computers did all that automatically.” 11712 rubbed his nose. “It might explain something that’s puzzled me all day though.”
“My own version of a ghost. We had an RFID chip report a fall in body temperature so sent out a medical team to see what was happening. The location was spot on, the temperature of the body kept falling rapidly, but the street was empty. Nobody there. Eventually the chip got so cold it stopped working. We never did locate it.”
“What’s the connection?” 10538 narrowed his eyes in suspicion. Higher designations had a habit of taking credit for the work of the lower ranks.
“Your ghost had no RFID. We had an RFID report in but nobody attached to it. He probably had a fake chip and dropped it in the street.” 11712 flashed a brief smile. “If he hadn’t lost his fake chip he might never have been caught.”
The implication made 10538’s breathing so shallow that his medichip beeped.
“Something wrong?” 11712 changed his expression to the standard look of concern. “Your chip will have alerted the medics. I’m sure they’ll be with you shortly.”
10538 took a few deep breaths. “It’s what you said. If he hadn’t lost his chip he’d still be on the loose.”
“So how many terrorists are there who haven’t lost their chips yet? How do we find them?”
“That’s good thinking for a one-zero.” 11712 looked genuinely impressed. “But they will be using onesie patterns of retired units. It’s not as easy as spotting the missing RFID but you camera watchers can still do it. We all have important jobs.”
“We all have important jobs.” 10538 repeated the slogan and settled into contentment. His medichip beeped twice to indicate cancellation of the alert it had sent earlier.
The bus drew alongside their stop. 11712 waved 10538 forward. He took a tentative step onto the entry platform. Cold sweat trickled down his spine.
I have to be the right weight or I’ll have to turn and face 11712 to get off again.
He placed his palm on the fare scanner and closed his eyes while the robot driver spoke.
“10538. Eighty-nine grams overweight. Within acceptable deviation limits but with a red warning. You must stand for the duration of the journey.”
It would only be a thirty-minute ride. Standing for the duration would have been easy, if not for the fact that the bus was half empty and he had to face 11712’s seated smirk for the entire trip home.
Chapter 2 is now due before next Thursday. Get your nagging fingers ready.