The Island of Doctor Morose

I’d put on weight, obviously, but between the healthy tans of the other guests and the hideous yellow weave of the polo shirt I put on, I look like rancid pizza dough. My neck is red with what looks like sunburn, and the week I spent in the Seychelles acclimatising has made the rest of my skin a colour that closely approximates artificial clementine pith. My eyes are ringed with puffy, bruise-like marks, and my mouth is held open by a mixture of jowls and exhaustion. The fatty orange panda needs caffeine, and as I reach the dining room I realise how badly out of condition I am. In the room there was a coffee machine, a proper filter one with good beans, or at least a fair approximation thereof, and a minibar that would have had a cola or something, and a telephone with which to call room service. I am shown to a small table in the corner near the omelette station and am sitting down before I realise that I have left my own telephone in the room as well. It might be remote, but it’s got wi-fi. I’m starting to wonder what I’m doing here when I notice that I’m still not hungry.

It’s one of those buffet paradises, miles of fresh fruit, eager-looking chefs ready to make me omelettes, to customise my “oatmeal” with nuts and sugary toppings, and finally, bile still in the back of my throat, I spot the toaster. It’s a chrome monstrosity that looks like it ought to have wheels and a driver, parked in a Monaco motoring museum. I can’t bring myself to stand for a couple of minutes, and when I get over there I’m confronted with choice. Again, tucked shamefully in the corner, is what I’m looking for, and relatively soon I have two damp slices of white bread, barely toasted. Coffee washes it down, and I feel almost human.

They bring round glossy dossiers while I’m still nibbling, and I spend a while watching the others reading before I look at mine. I already know what it’s likely to say, and I’m more interested in their reaction. This is a standard bid or betray, and I’m expecting at least half of those here to be enforcers rather than evaluators. I’m one of the few lone operatives, it seems; most tables have two or three, all looking much better than I.

You can find the complete version of The Island of Doctor Morose in issue 70 of TBD.

Andrew Robertson