The Ikea in Ashton can be seen from space


The spider was soon covered in a corrugated coat, and for the first time Ray could get a sense of how large the building was, dominating the town in a way that he’d not expected. Wherever he ended up for the night, he could look up, and there it was. He kept away, convinced he had nothing to gain from it.

On the day that it opened, he stood on a traffic roundabout with a bottle of strong cider, watching the endless traffic jam approaching the monstrosity. He had only the vaguest idea what Ikea was. He knew it sold furniture, but since Ray’s last set of furniture had been donated hand-me-downs, he couldn’t envisage the kind of world that required such a large furniture shop.

As the nights got colder, he found himself thinking about Ikea more and more. He could not get it out of his head, yet he knew it was not for him. As Christmas approached, the cars kept coming until late into the evening. Like an urban fox, both terrified of people but thinking he might find something of use where people had been, he edged nearer.

It was spring before he made his move. He’d cleaned up a little, and, because of what had happened with the fire, he had been offered a little council-run bedsit – nothing special, but clean, with hot and cold water, a little stove on a ledge, and a tiny refrigerator. No longer having to stay out at night, his health improved, and he was able to regulate his drinking to a few hours each day.

He still ate out most of the time; a few coins bought quite a lot in Ashton. He begged some better clothes from a charity shop that was moving premises. Each of these small improvements was not done lightly, but was done, in some unconscious way, to make his relationship with the giant store an easier one.

One day he crossed the Ikea car park, and walked slowly through the main doors. Inside it was like an indoor town, but instead of people living there, it was for passing through; a dozen bathrooms next to each other, unplumbed, open plan. He went a little way into the store before hesitating and edging back out as if he’d forgotten something.

Near the entrance he saw there was a blue and yellow sign pointing towards a restaurant. He realised he was a little hungry. He had a few coins in his pocket. Perhaps enough for a cup of tea at least.

The restaurant was vast, but hardly seemed busy at all. Different food and drink stations were strategically positioned away from the tills. In the centre was a raft of plastic trays. There were signs indicating the day’s ‘specials’. You could get a fish and chips cheap between two and five, or a bargain breakfast before eleven. Most of all, he could smell meatballs.

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2 Responses to “The Ikea in Ashton can be seen from space”

  1. April 12, 2010 at 9:44 pm, Joel said:

    I thought Ray was well-realised and thought the 2310 ‘epilogue’ felt plausible, but I was disappointed Ray did not reappear.

  2. April 26, 2010 at 2:51 pm, Adrian Slatcher said:

    Thanks for reading, and for the comment. Good point – I wonder what happened to him after his visitation?


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