It was daylight at six in the morning. The dog was snoring like an old man. Before colour absorbed into the room, Wilton Mone sat and waited for the clock to reach seven. Two dead light bulbs in the ceiling, two lamps and a television all switched off, asleep. A musty smell of sleep came in the form of breath from up the stairs.
Wilton sat and thought about his life. He was afraid of dying. Terribly afraid. And he couldn't go running to mother about it since she couldn't prevent death. No one could. Still, he went through his memories of people that might be able to prevent his death, but they all seemed far too human to help.
By seven o'clock he left the house and got on the train into the city. It was even brighter and getting warm. A sparrow flew past before the train began to move.
Out of the window he saw a wide open space of dirt and further away were rows of terraced houses. He saw the wind blow a Union Flag. As he got closer to the city it got a lot more windy, trees silently danced side-to-side.
When he got to work he met his colleague, Nelson Buth, who was the editor of the newspaper they worked for. They were actually quite good friends, having known each other for little over two years. Nelson was an idiot who thought of himself first thing in the morning. He touched his face when he spoke, just to feel his own mouth working. 'Do you have the press release?' he said.
'The press release. For our client.'
'I didn't know how to write it.'
'I need it written up by this afternoon,' Nelson said. 'Can you manage that? Or shall I get someone else?'
'No no, I can manage,' Wilton said. He set about writing at his desk in an empty room. There was no colour in the room. Everything seemed grey. Trees slowly moved outside.
After work Wilton and Nelson went to The Farmer's Arms for a drink. The barmaid served them. She said: 'See that man over there?'
'There. By the window. With the hat.'
'He's been coming in here for fifteen years and used to be the life of this place. But now all he does is sit there, drinking til he's drunk stiff.
'What happened to him?'
'His dog committed suicide.'
'I know. Hung itself with its own lead from the banister.'
'How did it manage that?'
'God knows,' she said. 'All's I know is that man's not been the same since.'
The two friends sat down near the door. It was cool there. The light was dissipating. There was no colour in anything. Nelson drank. 'Imagine that,' he said.
'A dog killing itself.'
'Yeah,' Wilton said. 'I thought only humans did that. Not a dogs.'
'You're wrong, then. 'Cause his dog killed itself.'
'Makes you think how ridiculous it would be to kill yourself.'
'Or how ridiculous it is to die.'
'Dogs committing suicide,' Nelson said, shaking his head.
Later on, when it had become dark and there really was no colour, Wilton headed back home. The wind had picked up considerably. It blew his hair. Made his eyes water. On the train he saw the Union Flag in the dark. He doubted sunlight for a long time to come.
When he got home his family were asleep as if they'd never woken up. He somehow felt good about himself. He took out the shoelaces from his shoes and scrunched his tie into his pocket so the dog couldn't get hold of them. He walked into the living room and sat down. It was dark. Two lights, two lamps and the TV were off. The smell of his family, sleeping. The dog snoring like an old man.