Nick Bryan Dot Com

Friday short story time: "Sealed"

After attending the Out Of This World exhibition at the British Library on Tuesday, featuring lots of sci-fi books on sticks, I decided I’d attempt science-fiction this week. Admittedly, it isn’t exactly hardcore aliens and time travel.

Oh, and for fans of stories what I wrote, I may have some exciting news soon. Maybe, just maybe.


By Nick Bryan

‘Doctor Farmer? Excuse me?’

‘Sorry, no-one normally calls me that. Are we starting?’

‘We are. Can you just introduce yourself please?’

‘Of course. I’m Mark Farmer, I’m 37 years old and I’ve been working on “intelligent fabrics” since I was 25.’

‘And what does that mean, exactly?’

‘It’s a wanky buzzword meaning any fabric that does something other than sit there. Applications largely military, but I managed to sell a patent into fashion.’

‘Which was the “self-sealing join”?’

‘Yeah. The one where two edges of clothing merge seamlessly, rather than needing a visible zip or buttons.’

‘I gather it took off rather?’

‘Yeah, not always, it turns out for a lot of people, the visible join is part of their “style”. I don’t really get it, but I guess I’m a scientist who mostly wears cotton.’

‘Very good, Dr Farmer.’

‘Thanks. But we do get used in hoodies and dresses, the occasional shoe. Apparently we’re the new Velcro.’

‘And it was a hoodie which caused the incident in question, wasn’t it?’

‘Yeah. Look, I really do feel awful about that.’

‘You weren’t directly responsible, Dr Farmer.’

‘Please stop calling me that. I’m not a doctor, doctors help people.’

‘Apologies, Mr Farmer. So, from your perspective, can you describe the incident? Again, you’re not in any trouble, we just want to get your expert opinion.’

‘Okay. Um, so the kid, I’m afraid I’ve forgotten his name…’

‘Ashley William Marks, of 33 Shortlands St, South London. Known commonly as “Ash”.’

‘Thanks. Ash was wearing a cheap hoodie he’d bought from a market in South London, using the self-sealing join. It was a cold, choppy day, so he’d done the front up.’

‘Sorry, how does it actually work in practise?’

‘The join? Well, you press the two edges together relatively firmly and they merge together. Then you just run the pressure up the line, as far as you want it to go. Then they stay as one until you press the notch at the bottom tightly and the whole thing comes open.’

‘Very impressive.’


‘So, continue.’

‘Right, well, Ashley Marks was on his bike, cycling to see his friends or whatever kids do. Unfortunately, the hoodie was a  shitty knock-off, they’d stolen the join, reverse-engineered it or something, the police don’t seem sure.’

‘Is that possible?’

‘Of course. Once you innovate, everyone copies you and claims they didn’t. I’m just the scientist, you lawyers can worry about patent law.’

‘So the join didn’t work?’

‘Oh, it worked. But whatever sweatshop morons made the hoodie had put the seal on all the edges, up to and included the rim of the hood itself. And of course, Ashley Marks had the hood up to break the wind.’

‘And health and safety didn’t catch this?’

‘You think they have standards and practises in the half-arsed knock-off industry? We should count ourselves lucky the cords didn’t seal together and strangle him.’

‘Are you alright, Mr Farmer?’

‘Sorry. So Ash was cycling down the road, the wind was whipping his hoodie around, and the edges of the hood were pushed together hard enough for the join to switch on.’

‘Yes, that’s what we’ve got here.’

‘Suddenly, Ashley Marks went from wearing a hood to a full-face Spider-Man mask, only without the eye holes. Whilst cycling down a street in South London. A few seconds later, a large articulated lorry came around the corner.’

‘And then he was quite severely injured, yes.’

‘Oh, you don’t fucking say?’

‘According to his hospital records, multiple broken bones, a collapsed lung and one arm more or less crushed. Probable brain damage if he does wake up at all.’

‘Wow. He’s probably going to sue when he gets off life support.’

‘Yes, Dr Farmer, that’s why we’re conducting these interviews, just to make sure we have our bases covered in the event of litigation.’

‘You lawyers are such lovely people. And stop calling me Doctor.

‘I’m sorry you feel that way, Mr Farmer, but we have to be prepared. If he came after you personally, it could have a long-term effect on your work.’

‘He’s not exactly from a rich family, I don’t see him suing.’

‘But on the other hand, a few hundred grand from us could be their ticket to a better life.’

‘Lovely sentiment. This must be how the guy who invented the atomic bomb felt. I wasn’t really prepared for this after choosing to go into textile science, you know.’

‘We have a full schedule of interviews, Mr Farmer, so we really have to…’

‘I mean, I can’t even say I “just wanted to help people” or anything wanky like that. I just like playing with materials and chemicals.’

‘Do you want us to make official record of that, Dr Farmer?’

‘Look, for the last time… oh, can you just piss off?’

‘Certainly, Dr Farmer. We’ll send the transcript of this interview along tomorrow for your signature.’

‘Can’t wait.’

And check out the all-dialogue thing. Brave format experiment or utter laziness? You decide. Copyright me 2011, please email if you wish to steal, thanks.


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