The Narrative of Sterling Pons
My name is Sterling Pons.
I’m a writer, or was. Having been “in-between projects” for some time, in the early years of the new century I moved from London to Brighton in the hopes of making a clean break with the literary scene there, to which I felt I had never really belonged.
Some hope – my friends and former colleagues from London with their hip tattoos and little dogs loved to visit our charming little city by the coast for away days… or perhaps they just wanted to see how far their pal the thriller writer and one-time next big thing had fallen? Why had I retired and gone away? Hadn’t I sold my novel to Hollywood, after all?
Well yes, but that movie never got made, of course. I couldn’t tell them that I got tired of explaining it to people once things got caught up in development hell and the money that had once come in the form of fat advances finally ran out. I had to get drunk every weekend just to deal with them. My agent had almost given up on me and stopped calling. I wasn’t getting a scrap of work done.
And so things might have gone on – if I had only been so lucky.
Harry Rubik was dead. On that score there was no argument.
American by birth, a famous film director in the nineteen sixties, he had come to Britain to live as a virtual recluse behind the closed doors of his mansion that had been the setting for a number of scenes in his film of The Life of Tristram Shandy (1977).
The other thing that Rubik was famous for was his association with the occult. There were supernatural themes in several of his movies. In the nineteen eighties a man called Varley had got himself in the newspapers by claiming that a weird skull he had dug up in the desert somewhere was some kind of interdimensional alien being. It seemed to bear a strange resemblance to the creature from Rubik’s 1968 science fiction film Of Time And Stars, which lead to the suspicion that Varley had made the whole thing up after ingesting too many psychedelic substances on his travels round the Yucatan peninsula.
But there were others who said that Rubik knew something, that maybe the events in his fictional story of an alien invasion were playing out for real, and what if it wasn’t even that fictional at all and he was trying to warn us about something? What if he was even one of THEM??
The great auteur remained silent and the story went away, as such things have a habit of being conveniently forgotten like so many pages of unfilmed scripts in a draw, without any further explanation ever being given.
Ned Spartacus was a man who looked after houses for people who had too much money and got paid to stop real squatters coming in, in the days before rich people changed the law so that they could get the police to do the dirty work of dealing with poor people for nothing, saving them the hassle of evicting commoners from their property themselves. After the bottom fell out of that business he sat down to write the book he’d been promising to write since university (which was where he and I met in __________, although that’s another story).
Although he might be the smartest person in any given room, Ned would have told you that he considered himself a second class thinker at best, though the breadth and depth of learning with which he filled his cranium would have shamed the most learned Oxford scholar. He was the kind of lifelong chancer who got by, having invented a role for himself, and didn’t see much point ever going beyond that. But the right people must have remembered him, because years after we graduated and went our seperate ways he got an offer from an old uni-buddy who had been a near neighbour of the late Harry Rubik, which is where my friend heard the story he would recount to me over coffee one autumn morning in the kitchen of the dingy little flat in Brighton where I was supposed to be working on my latest novel…