Fates Avow: The Arbiter : Part One

<Prologue

Connie was having a bad day. A really bad day.

Indeed by the time the day was out there would not be sufficient superlatives to describe just how staggeringly bad this day would be.

It had started with her waking up already late for work. The commencement of this truly bad day would begin with her phone blatantly lying to her about how long 63% of battery would last. At some point as she slept her phone decided to switch off and not undertake its task of waking her up with an irritating beeping sound incorrectly described as ‘morning sunrise’.

Connie had contemplated charging her phone overnight but on seeing a news report about exploding batteries she had thought it was best not to. Her phone irritated her at the best of times and it would be the height of irritation if it actually caused her to die.

The irony of this thought process is that by the end of this horribly bad day she would, in fact, be dead.

Perhaps if her phone had killed her she would not have to endure all the other bad stuff that would occur before her ultimate demise.

Blissfully ignorant that this would be her last day on earth Connie cursed as she rushed out of bed and into the shower, promptly skipping back naked and wet to put her lying unreliable phone on charge.

She quickly got dressed and hurriedly straightened her hair before rushing out of her cramped flat.

Clip clopping her way to the train station Connie took a bite of a breakfast bar she had grabbed from the cupboard on her way out.

She had hoped that the nutritional information printed on the side of the wrapper was correct and this would provide her with sufficient sustenance. The groan from her belly after she devoured the bar told her otherwise. Eating what was effectively crumbs glued together was hardly a hearty breakfast.

Connie arrived at the train station to witness the train already in the process of departing. She had a futile burst of speed in some strange hope that she would be able to catch up with the train and leap on; alternatively she may have expected that the train driver might spot her and happily stop the train. She hadn’t even reached the gates to the platform before she realised that neither of those things would happen.

Connie cursed again. There wouldn’t be another train for at least an hour. She was going to be very late for work.

Yet in the final moments of her life she’d probably look back and think oversleeping and missing a train was rather pleasant in comparison to being dead. Indeed, such was the suddenness of her demise she would have no time to curse at the unfairness of being killed…..and that is really something that is curse worthy.

Connie’s only chance of getting to work at a time vaguely respectable would be to get a taxi. She saw a row of taxis and smiled that perhaps her fortune maybe changing.

She went to a cashpoint to draw some money out but any hope that good luck was now firmly on her side faded when the screen announced she had no money and then promptly ate her card.

Connie cursed once more. It was payday, the only day of the month she could be confident that there would be money in her account.

Pulling out her phone she tapped on her banking app to enquire about her lack of funds. Her phone chose not to break the news to her gently but instead made the pixelated pronouncement that she had been paid but someone had nefariously then took all her money.

Connie cursed even more, she had no money and had no idea how she would pay for things such as rent or food. Had she known she would be dead by the end of the day this probably would have saved her some unnecessary heartache over these issues.

After several more moments of cursing Connie decided she would simply go home, call the bank then just go back to bed and wake up tomorrow when everything would be better.

She turned to walk back towards her apartment when her phone alerted her to a text message, it was from Ann, a colleague from work.

Where are you? Boss really wants to see you Now!!!!!!

Maybe it was the liberal use of exclamation marks but Connie, cursing again, decided she’d better try and get into work. She rifled though her jacket pocket and found some loose change, it would be enough to get the bus.

Connie found herself on her way to work in a cramped bus sat next to a guy who appeared to have chronic bronchitis. The onset of his spluttering coincided with the bus hitting any divot or pothole, of which there were many.

Through the rare breaks in his coughing Connie listened to the various automated security questions she had to pass to be able to speak to someone at her bank. The irony that she had to provide answers to the most ridiculous questions whilst someone had quite easily just wiped out her bank account was not lost on her.

The bus did not go directly to her work place and Connie alighted to begin the walk. As soon as she stepped off the bus, dark clouds appeared in the sky and it began to rain heavily down upon her. She looked at her phone which proudly displayed a big sun.

“Lying. Bastard. Phone!” she muttered.

Her walk to work by the standards already set was relatively uneventful save that as she walked by every puddle a car would splash her.

Connie finally arrived at work, tired, drenched and annoyed. She just wished this day to be over and of course it would be soon albeit with a permanence that perhaps she hadn’t wished for.

As she walked through the vast lobby of the building where she worked she cursed again on seeing that the lift was out of order. After ascending 16 flights of stairs she eventually reached her desk.

“Bad day?” Ann enquired looking at a drenched and exhausted Connie with a mixture of concern and bemusement.

“Horrible ” Connie replied “I don’t think this day can get any worse.”

No sooner had those words left her lips but her phone bleeped, it was a message from Darren, her neighbour and head of the Resident’s Association for her block of flats.

Hey Connie. Look I don’t know how to tell you this but your flat has just burnt down.

Connie stared at her phone in disbelief. She read the message a number of times before she believed what she was being told, even then her primary thought was whether it was appropriate for Darren to sign off with a sad face emoji.

Connie slumped into her chair and raised her hands to her face. She cursed loudly at the culprit of the fire

Fucking hair straighteners!

In her rush to get work she had forgot to turn them off. Her desire to look presentable had now, in effect, left her homeless.

No money. No home.

“Everything okay?” enquired Ann

“My home has just burnt down” replied Connie, tears beginning to form in her eyes.

“Oh dear! You could do without something like that happening”

Connie decided she would have to go home to see whatever was left of the charred remains of her home; she’d also have to make arrangements to find somewhere to stay. Maybe she could stay at her boyfriend’s house, although she remembered he was away on a conference for the next few days.

She had been dating Luke for over a year and things had become quite serious. Secretly she had been hoping he would ask her to move in. Perhaps her burning down the flat would force the issue. Every cloud and all that.

She wished Luke was with her now. To hold her in his large arms, kiss her on the top of the head and tell her everything will be okay.

“I gotta go” Connie announced to Ann

She got up to leave but was immediately faced with Clive, her boss.

“Ah Connie. You’re finally here. I need a word if I may” said Clive, clearly oblivious to the level of distress Connie was experiencing.

“Can it wait Clive. My flat has just burnt down” she replied

Clive thought for a moment then responded “Not really and if it has already burnt down a few minutes more won’t matter’

Connie sighed “I’ve really got to go”

“Okay” Clive said “I’ll be quick about it. We are having to downsize the department and your employment here will be terminated in a week.”

“Seriously?!” replied Connie “You tell me like that!”

“Well you did want me to be quick about it”

Connie just stared at Clive as her brain desperately tried to process yet another bombshell.

“Anyway I’m sorry your flat has burnt down ” said Clive offering a sympathetic pat on her shoulder before he turned and left.

Connie looked around at her co workers who stared back at her in open mouthed silence. Fighting back the tears she grabbed her bag and left the building.

It was only after emerging onto the street, which was now bathed in brilliant sunlight, that she realised she had no money to get home. She then realised she actually did not have a home on account of the fact it had burnt down.

No money. No home. No job.

Her brain offered no ideas on what next to do and so she just walked, her eyes brimming with tears.

Her brain that had failed in offering any solutions could only remind her of the extent of her problems.

No money. No home. No job.

She was momentarily distracted from the magnitude of her problems by her phone bleeping. She stopped to search through her pocket right next to the only remaining puddle left over from the earlier downpour.

As Connie desperately tried to locate her phone in her pocket a HGV drove past and covered her with dirty puddle water. She let out a few expletives at the driver before turning her attention back to retrieving her phone.

As she wiped the grimy water off the screen she became aware that she was in the shadow of a large building. She’d probably had walked past it countless times but never really noticed it. The facade was quite worn and the stain glass windows were dirty and cracked.

Suspended by a rusty iron chain was a sign. The wording was faded and she could not make out precisely what it said but there was a symbol that looked like a star and she could just about read the words ‘Public House’.

She contemplated for a moment going inside to get dried off but there was nothing about this place that looked inviting. Indeed, Connie didn’t even think it was open.

Having dried her phone she clicked on her messages, it was from Luke. Oh sweet Luke. He’ll know what to do.

However any comfort in seeing his name quickly turned to confusion. The message was a picture of him laying on the bed in nothing but tight underwear, below the text read;

Come and get it Tiger! Room 113. Ready when you are! Grrrr!

Why would he send this to her. He was miles away. Was he honestly expecting her to go all that way to meet him? And since when as he ever called her ‘Tiger’?!

Connie replied with a simple question mark, followed by ‘Luke?’ then ‘Luke??’ and finally ‘Luke??!!’

She stared impatiently at her screen but no response came. She tried calling him but there was no answer.

Her brain, reeling from failing to comprehend her other problems gleefully announced that it had solved what was going on here.

He’s cheating on you!

That was it. The final straw. She threw her phone to the floor and began stamping on it whilst screaming every obscenity she knew, including some she had never previously uttered.

Her phone had done nothing but conspire against her to make this the worse possible day ever.

Dictated by rage she stalked off down the street, each angry step she took a reminder of what her life had now become.

No money. No home. No job. No boyfriend.

In the midst of anger and confusion she found herself down a secluded alley. Had she not been so preoccupied with her problems she may have paid more attention to where she was.

If she hadn’t been replaying every bad thing that happened she might have noticed the two shadowy figures approach from behind her.

She may have been able to run away before they grabbed her and slammed her head against the brick wall.

Had she not smashed her phone it may have aided her in calling for help.

As it were, it was in that alleyway that Connie died.

It was reported in the press but only briefly. Connie simply became another statistic to add to all the other statistics about the rising levels of crime.

She would be mourned by her close family and friends but not really by anyone else. A few who had noted the brief report of her death would comment on social media but merely to reflect upon their own self worth.

‘OMG. So sad. RIP. I visited that place 3 years ago. That could’ve been me’

But for the billions of other people Connie’s death would go unnoticed. As her story came to an end theirs would continue unimpeded by her unfortunate demise.

Yet however tragic this tale may be there are always other stories waiting to be told. Each life carries an infinite amount of possibilities. Inevitably, these stories all conclude in the same way…..with death.

Connie’s story ended as she drew her final breath alone, bleeding in that alley. It marked the final chapter of her tale. A story that to anyone who didn’t know her would seem unremarkable.

However, the story of what happened if Connie did not die in that alley….well that is a far greater story to tell.

Part Two >

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