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Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Stamp- part five

Wednesday again! I love Wednesdays- it feels like we're over the hump of the week and ready for an easy slide down towards the weekend. It's also WIP Wednesday day. I look forward to it, and I know some of you do too. I shan't keep you waiting and, if you've read this far already, you know where to look to refresh your memory so I'll just include a link to the last installment. Remember, I value your feedback on this so please do post comments and tell me what you think.

Stamp- part four

Stamp- part five
That night, Ben spent a solid hour trying to remove the stamp. His skin grew sore and red from the bleach, soap, white spirit and scrubbing brush that had been applied in vain. No matter what he tried, it looked as new as it had on Saturday night. He threw the scourer (his latest attempt) into the sink and kicked the bathroom bin in frustration. What kind of freaky ink was this?
He turned on his laptop and typed ‘how to remove ink’ into the Google search bar. A million results and all of them useless unless he wanted to remove ink stains from clothes. He tried again. He typed ‘ink stamp won’t come off hand’ and hit search. This was better. He clicked through the first few links, but he’d tried every suggestion that was made already- except the one about rubbing urine into it- gross.
He flopped back in his chair. This was stupid. There had been at least two hundred people in that club on Saturday night: he couldn’t be the only one stuck with a freaky-ink stamp? In desperation he added ‘freaky’ to his search terms and hit return again. This time, he got lucky.
He clicked on the top result that the search threw up ‘…club freaky ink stamp and now it won’t come off’ and read the post. It was from a discussion thread entitled ‘Futures Club stamp’. Futures? That was the name of the club where he’d been stamped! Intrigued, he quickly scanned the first entry. It was from a girl (he assumed, from the name given) who was complaining that she too had been stamped at an after hours club and couldn’t wash the ink off. He checked the date. The message had been posted two weeks ago. Her picture was highlighted, indicating that she was online right now. He skipped the advice that followed the original post and scrolled down to the comments box.
Me too, he typed. I’ve tried everything I can think of. Does it wear off eventually? How long did it take? He clicked the button marked ‘Post comment’ and waited. The reply came back almost immediately.
It hasn’t. Going for laser removal. Ben gasped. He leant forward and typed again.
For real??? My boss is gonna kill me!!! Why won’t the freaky ink wash off? What the hell did they use? She replied quickly.
Not ink. Have you checked your numbers?
Ben was confused. His numbers? Did she mean lottery numbers? He asked her what she meant.
The numbers on the back of your hand. Scaring the hell out of me : ( Got to get it off.
Ben stared for a second at the message, and then held his hand up to the light. She was right. Along the back of his hand, camouflaged by the swirls of the Futures logo, was a row of numbers. He twisted his hand round to try and read them. He squinted to make out the tiny printed digits. They read 23052013.
He laid his hand flat on the table and shook his head in disbelief. It didn’t make any sense. Why would a club stamp numbers on the back of its customer’s hands? Was it for a promotion?
What do the numbers mean??? he tapped urgently.
I don’t know but not waiting to find out. Got appointment booked tomorrow to burn them off.
Why the rush? he asked. The reply confused him further.
Only got a month left.
What the hell did that mean? A month until what?
What’s happening in a month? He hit send and frowned at the screen as he waited for the reply.
The date on my hand is in one month. Don’t know what’s going to happen and don’t want to. If I get it off in time I might avoid it. When is your date?
Ben held up his hand and looked carefully at the numbers. 23052013. The 23rd of May, 2013. He shivered.
It couldn’t be a promotion. If it was, surely the club would have stamped the same date on every hand? Ben pulled out his phone and texted Tim. He was obviously at a loose end, because he replied quickly.
Yeah mate- well weird! Just saw it. My numbers are 17042013- what’s it for? So Tim had different numbers too- over a month earlier, if the date theory was correct. He pushed his phone aside and returned to the laptop.
Has anyone else got numbers?
Hundreds. Look here-  After the message, there was a link to a website. Ben clicked it and scanned the homepage. He clicked page after page of messages from people, all over the country, in the same situation. The circumstances followed a pattern: sexy girl or bloke invites you to secret club full of beautiful people, you get a sharp stamp on your hand, and then you wake up alone with a date that won’t wash off. A date in the future… Futures. Something strange was going on.
He clicked on the link marked ‘Theories’, the stamp on his hand burning. The theories were outrageous, to say the least: ghosts, time-travellers, grim-reapers, angels, fairies- all were represented, discussed and ridiculed. No one had a clue. He scratched at the stamp, wincing as the raw skin stung painfully.
He toggled screens to return to the discussion page.
What happens on the date? The page stared back at him as he waited for a reply. He hit refresh and leaned back in his chair. After five minutes, he typed again.
Why is it a date? What does it mean? What happens? Ben hit ‘send’ and waited, tapping his fingers impatiently on the desk. He refreshed the page again after five minutes, and every five minutes after that. After an hour, he gave up. She obviously wasn’t there anymore.
He switched off the laptop and went into the bathroom. His reflection in the mirror looked tired and old. Andy was right- he did look like death. He rubbed his hand over his face and caught sight of the stamp in the mirror. He scowled at the black ink on his hand but couldn’t rouse the energy to try another futile attempt at removing it. Instead, he got into bed and burrowed under the covers. 


This is the part where you get to join in! What did you think of today's post? Leave me a message and let me know what you think. I love reading your comments!