Grayson, with his hands around your throat

I do not enjoy being evil.

I do not enjoy being good.

I enjoy being right.

And I’m always right.


Next Question

Ava: I know what this is. I know what I’m ‘supposed’ to say, doctor-

Dr Stewart raises his hand.

Stewart: Ms Ward, please.

He gets up and moves round the desk to perch in front of her. He takes off his glasses and rubs his eyes.

Stewart: Do you know how many of these exchanges I have to sit through in a day?

Ava stares at him, confused.

Stewart: How many I must have experienced in a lifetime? Do you know how many people have sat exactly where you’re sitting and thought that they were going to outsmart me too?

He gestures with his glasses.

Stewart: I do this for a living. There is nothing that you can say or do that will hide what lies beneath from me. At this point, all these attempts at flair and intrigue bore me. I’d rather get this done, finish my bento box and watch question time. I understand that exposing yourself is not exactly a welcomed opportunity, but whether you answer my question or not, you’re still telling me what I need to know. Everything you are seeps through into everything you do. Being defensive in these meetings, or coy, or pedantic, or flippant, all of it gives me clues as to who you are and what you would do if we were to let you leave. This is not a test you can cheat. I am good at my job. I am really good at my job.And this, what you’re doing now, thinking you’re about to play a game with me, is a long and tedious journey to an already predestined end point. Think about it this way-

He puts his hands together and points them at Ava.

Stewart: I’m always going to get to where I need to go. But I’d appreciate it if I could get there and still be home in time for dinner. Do you understand?

Ava: Yes.

Stewart: Good.

He smiles and takes his seat.

Stewart: So let’s start again. What does your father think about your condition?

Eva’s eyes flick across the room and then back to Doctor Stewart, without a word.

Stewart: Ms. Ward-

Ava: Could you repeat the question?

Stewart: Your father. What does he think-

Ava: He doesn’t know. We don’t really speak anymore. He’s in prison.

Stewart: Interesting.

Ava: Is it?

Stewart: Why is he in prison?

Ava: For being a criminal.

She shrugs.

Ava: I’m sorry. But you have to admit you walked into that one. If you want to ask me a personal question, go right ahead. If you’re just going to ask me things that you could find out on the internet, then I might not be so forthcoming.

She leans back in her chair.

Ava: To quote you, it bores me.

Stewart: So he doesn’t know you’re here.

Ava: I don’t know. Maybe he reads the paper.

She laughs.

Ava: He probably doesn’t read the paper.

Stewart: Do you miss him?

Ava: No. Does that make me a bad person?

Stewart: No. Do you think it’s bad that you don’t miss your father?

Ava: I don’t know. Shouldn’t people miss their parents? I miss my mother. But I don’t miss my dad. Maybe because he’s alive. I don’t know. Maybe because he’s a failure.

She nods.

Ava: That’s probably it. Because I still  don’t understand it. I can’t. How hard is it to wipe your fucking computer? I mean…I’d have more respect for him if he was a successful criminal. Is that bad?

Stewart: Depends. Do you mean if he was successful or if he was a criminal?

Ava ponders over this for a while.

Ava: Successful. Right now, he makes me ashamed. Ashamed to be his daughter. He tried to be a criminal. First mistake. He failed. Second mistake. He somehow managed to lose money rather than make any, He tore our family apart and then, and then-

She realises she has gradually been getting more and more animated. She lowers her voice.

Ava: Then, you got found out. Mistakes 3-70.

She looks at her hands.

Ava: He dragged us all into. Couldn’t he just…implode on his own?

She shrugs.

Ava: But then…I don’t hate him. Because he, you know, brought me into the world and yadda yadda yadda. Always made cake on my birthday. I don’t have a problem with him as a father. But I do have a problem with him as a man. I suppose everyone goes through that at some point, when they realise that they’re parents are not these infallible titans than they’ve come to revere them as. They’re just sad little people like the rest of us, trying to cope with the terrible, terrible decisions they’ve made in life. So I don’t hate him. I just don’t want him around me. And that’s not too hard. Because like I said: He’s in prison.

She rubs her hands together.

Ava: Next question.




EDIE, young but hollow-eyed, sits at the front desk of a dimly lit office reception for the night shift. She watches the time on a computer screen. A lift chimes its arrival on her floor. She looks up and sees a member of staff, SIMON, rooting in the pockets of his winter coat as he steps out of the lift and crosses the foyer. He pauses in the middle.


Working late again, Edie?

Edie shrugs.


What can I say? I can’t get enough of the place.

Simon grins and approaches the door to the main office. He swipes his ID card and disappears inside.

Edie goes back to looking at the time. A minute later the lift chimes again. She looks up and sees Simon, exactly as before, step out of the lift and cross the foyer, pausing in the middle.


Working late again, Edie?

Edie stares at him, perplexed.



Simon grins and swipes his ID card. He disappears into the main office. Edie stares after him.

A minute later the lift chimes. Simon steps out of the lift and crosses the foyer, pausing in the middle.


Working late again, Edie?

Edie shakes her head in disbelief.        



Simon grins and swipes his card. He disappears into the main office. Edie gets up and cautiously approaches the door he has just walked through. She peers through the glass into the dark, empty, open plan office. The lift chimes behind her. Slowly Edie turns around. Simon steps out of the lift and pauses in the middle, addressing the front desk.


Working late again, Edie?

Edie just stares at him, eyes filling with tears. A familiar voice replies.


What can I say?

Edie turns to look at the front desk. It is occupied. By her. The second Edie turns to look at her, hollow eyes blank.

EDIE 2 (continued)

I can’t get enough of the place.

The Edie standing at the door vanishes. Simon grins and swipes his ID card. Edie goes back to looking at the time on her computer screen. After a moment, the lift chimes.

Count Back From Ten

‘Okay, Connor. Count back from ten.’

I look down just in time to see the liquid sloshing through the wire into my veins. The dentist clicks his fingers at me.

‘Connor. Counting.’

I nod.

‘Ten, nine, eight, seven-‘

I stop. Not because I’m falling asleep, but because all these memories suddenly flood my mind.

‘When I was six, I stole an ice lolly from my playgroup.’


‘I’ve called my Abuela four times in the past three years.’


‘I couldn’t tie my laces until I was 12. I read Green Eggs and Ham and I didn’t get it.’

‘Oh, crumbs.’ The trainee dentist pipes up from the other side of the room, ‘You know what I’ve gone and done, don’t you?’

‘No, actually.’ I say, ‘I don’t.’

‘I’ve given him the truth serum solution I’ve been working on.’

‘That’ll be it.’ The dentist says, taking his gloves off.

‘That’ll be it? What the fuck does that mean?’ I ask frantically.

‘You’re going to be spouting a lot of personal stories for the next-‘

He checks his watch and rolls his eyes.

‘4 hours.’

‘4 hours? I’m going to tell people about my fears that I’ll never be able to create a stable home for myself or my dependents for the next 4 hours?’

‘And also you’re going to have that dead tooth for a while longer, because I won’t be able to work with all your jabbering.’

‘Oh my god. Oh my god. This is worse than the time I told a teacher my parents used to lock me in the house and go out at night.’


‘Why do you even have truth serum in a dentist?’

‘Budget cuts mean this is a dentist surgery slash research lab, with evening psychotherapy sessions.’

‘Seems legit. About as legit as any piece of French coursework that I handed in throughout Year 10. Shit. This is really powerful stuff!’

The trainee nurse sits down.

‘Yeah, it’s maybe the third or fourth strain we’ve tried now. The first one gave people a runny stomach.’

‘and the second one?’

‘Acute nightmares.’

‘Is that a thing?’

‘I can confirm, personally, that it is’ The dentist chimed in.

‘And what’s the side effects with this strain?’

They look at each other.

‘None.’ The nurse says unconvincingly.


‘…yet. None yet.’

‘Oh. Oh god. Oh my god.’

I try to get up but the dentist steps forward and pins me down.

‘Take it easy.’

‘Take it easy? I have a job interview tomorrow morning! What am I supposed to do? Tell the truth? Do you know how inexperienced I am? Do you know how much money I had to pay to get those references?’

‘Just lie down. We can give you something to sleep this off.’

‘You? Give me something? After the last thing you gave me broke me!’

I try to get up again but the dentist pins me down once more.

‘I want a goddamn cure and I want it now.’ I say, struggling on the dentist chair, ‘or so help me god, I’m going to…be mildly annoyed.’