The Traffic Report

Arriving at work he pulls up to a gate beside a large sign that says: Department of Transport. The security guard in the kiosk smiles at him and raises the barrier. He smiles back. He has never spoken to the man in the kiosk but wishes he had. He must be a good man, he thinks, before driving through to the car park.

Walking from the car park to the entrance he takes a large breath. The air is fresh and sweet. The wind feels warm and kind against his face. The rucksack weighs on his shoulder.

Inside he walks along a series of corridors, smiling at various people, some of whom know his name and some who don’t.

Eventually he comes to a large office in which people are arranged into many small compartments, speaking into microphones clipped to their scalps whilst typing furiously on computers. Together they make one enormous, muffled din like a thousand whispers. This morning he hears it as though it were all the voices of the world wishing him well.

He walks around the sides of the office and enters a smaller room. Inside this room is one man sitting in front of a complicated network of computer screens. A radio mutters in the background.

The man recognises him and smiles. ‘Morning,’ says the man and gets up from the chair which swivels slightly. ‘Big smash between junctions nine and ten. Been a bit of a busy one I’m afraid.’

The man exits the room, leaving him to stand and watch the pictures and colours shifting across the screens. He locks the door then sits on the chair. Through the small windows he sees a plane leaving cotton wool across the sky.

He places his fingers over the keyboard and types briefly before clicking the mouse button. He grins at the screen. He leans over and unzips the rucksack. He pulls out the revolver.

It takes them a couple of minutes to find the spare key and get into the room. Inside he is slumped over the keyboard. A woman screams. The computer screens are patterned with a dense smattering of droplets. A pool, almost black beneath the fluorescent lights, has formed around his head. The revolver is on the floor beside his right foot. The bullet is embedded deep in the wall.

All along the M60, from the east to the west, motorists look on, puzzled by the giant computerised screens. Gone is the warning of a crash between junctions nine and ten. There is no DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE in its place, nor the usual TIREDNESS KILLS, TAKE A BREAK. Instead, there are six words.


Sean Joyce is originally a Prestonian. Now a part-time Chorltonian. One time Manchester library assistant. Currently a globe-trotting English Teacher.

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