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Page 3

"The Mutant King" fiasco.

He had a lot to live down.

His stomach often felt bloated; the shifting solids of boiled fish putting out feelers. He thought suddenly of Sara. Sara was no lighthouse beacon. More an undercurrent that had surreptitiously altered the way he saw the world. She spied him months ago at one of his agent’s oft-postponed musical soirées - across the cigar smoking room - a waif and stray which one of his e-mail cronies had brought along. Their relationship foundered just at the *sight* of rocks.

To be a composer he needed tunnel vision. Now he lived in one! He sensed smoke escaping through a chimney. Filters were two way. Dream and reality, feeding off each other. If only he could transpose all these thoughts on to the staves, then refine them by a few trials on the keyboard. He needed to hear in his mind's ear, through the sea's tinnitus, the resultant clarity of theme and counter-theme as the woodwind took up the strain from the strings: a brass finale, a tranquil coda.

He noticed the tape-deck had reeled off. This was more silence than he could have believed, given his earlier glimpse of dirty weather rolling in. But then, again, came that percussive tap tap tapping of imputed fingers on a rectangular pane.

He stood, out of habit, to go and change the tape but instead of crossing the room, fell with a painful gasp and a clutch at his chest. Pain and dizziness filled his senses, the room spinning round and round till it was gone, and yet he could still here that tap-tap-tap, as if a clock were ticking away his last minutes of life.

Then he heard a voice.

He opened his eyes slowly then closed them again, the light would take a minute to get used to.

"Are you all right, William?" the voice was saying.

He opened his eyes again and this time managed to keep them open. He appeared to be on the ground floor, sat on the ricketty wooden chair by the door. He was soaked through and cold.

"Are you all right?" the voice asked again.

He looked up and was surprised to see Sara standing before him with an anxious expression on her face. He was totally dumbfounded by the blinding low blows of early morning sunlight.

"What - what happened?" He drank some tea.

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