Big Shout to Malmy Hatchman

He said all this quite rationally. It was his life, I suppose, thirty-five years in the making. He perched at the edge of his pleasure gardens on Shudehill and told me how these Manchester souls had guided his hand, whispered to him – the breath they left behind brushing his cheek and alerting him to their presence. The delusion had consumed him like a looming, fungal edifice feeding off his loneliness and the broken dreams of all those crowding in around us. It would suck him dry; that much was obvious. His eyes never left New Manchester’s loveliness. There was a febrile excitement about him and he repeatedly wiped his hand over his mouth in agitation.

I never let on what I’d discovered out of respect for the old man and he knew I never would because I, too, had been seduced. The underground city tormented me every day.

My jealousy spurred me into sending my assistant out on a daily basis to find Hatchman, making spurious excuses to venture down below. I prostituted and defiled New Manchester, stealing bits piecemeal and incorporating them into my soulless edifices. Mine were built to order for dead-eyed speculating whores in thrall to their venality. There was no trace of Hatchman’s soul, his passion and visceral genius. He saw and never said a word. I tipped him generously, both out of shame and also fear that the holder of the key would withhold it forever.

So the years passed.

I was promoted and grew sleek in my prosperity. Hatchman however, diminished to the point where I grew alarmed – he could barely manage the arduous climb to my chambers and would have to sit, gasping and bent forward, face over his knees.

And then I didn’t see him for a few days. I could barely concentrate on my work. A shuffling foot would send me spinning round in my chair, only to startle a colleague: ‘… Sorry Fenton. Didn’t mean to spook you, old boy.’

I kept prevaricating, telling myself all was well, but I knew there was only one thing to do even though it felt monstrously profane. I would break into the vault.

It was an interminable day as I waited twitchily for dusk, when the building was deserted except for some cleaners on the lower floors. It was easy to slip down to the cellars unseen. I rapped on the trap door out of form’s sake rather than with any real expectations and of course there was no answer. I tugged at the iron ring, realising what a racket I would make if I was forced to break in. Unexpectedly, it opened.

I’d rather not dwell on the rest. I don’t know what you would have done.

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7 Responses to “Big Shout to Malmy Hatchman”

  1. December 18, 2008 at 6:38 pm, David Flindall said:

    Interesting but maybe a bit obscure

  2. December 19, 2008 at 6:09 pm, Craig said:

    Fantastic! Best story on here yet!! I loved it!
    Looking forward to seeing more of your work Anne!….

  3. December 20, 2008 at 10:26 pm, Marion Hewitt said:

    Brilliant – I want to see the film – who’s got Tim Burton’s number?

  4. December 21, 2008 at 4:13 pm, Peter said:

    Captures and conveys the dark mood of ye olde ratHall…enjoyed reading this tale.

  5. December 25, 2008 at 11:17 pm, Joel said:

    It’s exactly how I see the Town Hall and all the buildings around there. Whatever’s new is built on something old, and for every ‘success’ there are many more of us ‘failures’. Very true story

  6. February 08, 2009 at 12:29 pm, Cousin Ken said:

    A touch of Le Fanu with a dash of Victor Hugo for good measure! Well written cousin. xxx

  7. November 13, 2009 at 1:12 pm, Olthwaite said:

    Thrilling! There’s something about those town hall corridors when it’s dark and deserted…


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