The illuminated logo flexed as Bell and Cross swayed beneath a cloudless blue sky. Beathan Spice studied the logo for a short while longer. He had made his decision yet the steps between making it and taking it were the longest. He took a deep breath, pushed through the glass door and entered the extraordinary space beyond.
Behind a counter stood two distinctive figures, their name badges bearing the titles, Mr Bell and Mr Cross. "Good day," greeted Mr Bell. His immaculate moustache twirled to nanometre perfection. Mr Cross blinked and nodded in accordance. "Some people say we are crazy," continued Mr Bell. "We take it you are not one of them."
Beathan thought he probably was. He had been told enough times he was.
"Come, come," said Mr Cross emerging from behind the counter and directing Beathan towards the far side of the room. "No need to be afraid. All life is beautifully arranged from here onwards."
"Make your choice wisely, Mr Spice," warned Mr Bell.
"A penny for them," said the guide.
"Those you want to share of course."
"I can tell you are new here even without the weird clothes."
"What's weird about them?"
"Nothing... if that's the look you are going for. Here we are then, Janus Crescent."
Beathan waited for the guide to exit the Crescent before proceeding to a building proudly bearing a plaque marked BS House. The entrance opened as Beathan reached the second of five steps leading up to it.
"Good evening, Sir," greeted a smaller version of Mr Cross.
Beathan followed him down the narrow hallway, up a stone and wrought iron staircase and into a room on the top floor.
The room was elegantly furnished, a mixture of 19th century antiques and modern day contemporary pieces. Large and smaller pieces of recognisable art covered every wall apart from one, which was composed entirely from reflective silver glass. Beathan settled himself on a sumptuous sofa.
The small figure left.
A clock in the room chimed once.
A low half murmur, half whisper rippled across the space. Two long fingered palms and a face pressed into the room from the glass wall. A somewhat startled Beathan forced himself to focus and remain calm. A heel of one of the palms tapped against the glass and the rippling noise faded.
"Beathan? Is that you?"
The face came into focus and there she was just as he remembered her. Long hair blowing about her shoulders and a smile as lazy as a Sunday morning. The beach at Scarborough stretched out in the distance. Seagulls soared from rooftops behind him and all was washed in rays of sunshine.
"C'mon Beathan," she rallied as she ran towards the sea chased by his grinning reflection. The waves licked his toes.
"We're going to need a bucket for all these shells," she said showing him the contents of the folds of her skirt.
On the promenade they were met by clouds of vinegar and candyfloss. Up and down the helter-skelter they went and leapt on every ride at the fair. When he laughed he tasted ice-cream and suntan lotion, sand and satisfaction. He hungered for more.
"I missed you so much," he sobbed. Tears rained down his checks and dripped from his chin. She sang to him whilst she collected them in a bucket.
The clock chimed twice, followed once again by the unfamiliar noise.
This time she was laid on her tummy half covered by a rumpled white sheet, eyes glinting playfully. "Come back to bed," she pleaded. "Let's have a duvet day. You know it makes sense."
Beathan laughed with her as he felt the pillow she threw hit the side of his face. He picked it up and returned the fire. She giggled with delight as he reached for the buttons of his shirt.
Beathan woke to hear her gentle breathing beside him. She instinctively turned over and nestled into him. When she lay her head on his chest he heard his own heart beating. He placed a kiss on her forehead and then her nose.
"What was that for?" she laughed.
"Because I can," he sighed in between kisses.
There was a third chime.
She was in the room with him all lipstick and bravado. She berated him for being late, spending too much time elsewhere, for not being the man she deserved. Everything wrong with the world was all his fault.
Beathan did not have the words to defend himself. How could he? There was no defence to what she was saying. He was selfish at times but was there anything truly wrong in being selfish occasionally?
"You will regret this when I am gone," she spat.
Her eyes flashed and so did his temper.
"Aye, well... that can't be soon enough for me!" He winced, then ducked as something whizzed past his head.
When the fourth chime came all the walls of the room morphed into silver glass.
They were in his car on the evening they first made love. Her lip gloss beamed at him before his kisses smeared it across her face like Chrism on a babe at baptism. She smiled at him, her fingers glided across his skin.
Fire bounced off tall black streets and his breath curled in the night air. Hogmanay in Edinburgh. They were dancing with thousands of others in the torchlight procession, throngs and throngs of people joyous in saying goodbye to the old and ringing in the new. At the Old Town Ceilidh, they chatted and planned for the years ahead.
"Forever and a day," she declared."
"This I promise you," he said and he meant it.
"This you promised me," she echoed.
How many promises have been broken.
"Beathan," she called, snowflakes falling all around her. "Let's make a snow angel!" She ran across the garden and threw herself down on the ground limbs flailing around her.
Snowflakes melted on his scalp. He grabbed a handful of snow and threw it at her. Then another and another until his fingers were numb. She lay still in the angel cut out on the ground dressed in a blanket of snow.
He rubbed his hands together and blew warm air to diffuse the chill. He never liked the cold.
The fifth chime sounded. Beathan was scuba diving in deep waters with nothing above him other than solid darkness. The acidic waters nipped holes in his wetsuit burning through to his skin. He screamed like a rabbit being skinned alive.
Around him the waters were swamped with multitudes of various shells. Despite his pain Beathan watched mystified as the mass gradually floated down to the depths below, less half a dozen iridescent ones, which lifted him to the surface when chimed from above.
Amethyst tipped grasses rustled at his feet whilst a Chroma blue sky glided overhead. The air was sweet with wild broom and laden with the promise of new discoveries.
He headed for the final wall and pressed both of his palms against the glass eager to see into the space beyond. People were partying. His kind of happy 24-hour party people. Madchester. The fucking Haçienda laird!
Beathan stripped to the waist and soared into the atmosphere. He raved and raved, sweat beads glistening on his skin like diamond chips. He gave himself up to the rhythm until his brain struggled to handle the intensity.
"Hallelujah!" He shouted. "Madchester all the way!"
"Do you miss me?" she asked coyly.
"I missed you," he replied.
She reached out for him, "Forever and day?"
Oasis hummed Half the World Away inside his head.
The sixth bell chimed.
A half murmur, half whisper rushed towards him.
"Welcome back, Mr Spice," greeted Mr Bell.
Beathan was once again in the room settled on the sofa. Only the one silver glass wall remained bearing a golden number six.
"Six is a perfect number," said Mr Bell. "God created his world in six days. Some people say we are crazy... "
"... but I am no longer one of them," answered Beathan.
Mr Bell blinked.
A half murmur, half rush invaded the room.
Without any hesitation Beathan flew into the silver wall.