platform used to be, or any lights at all down below
where The Turbines Bar should have been.
I walked on squinting beyond where the viaduct
should have been; st楬l there was no light of any kind at
the little unmanned station.
Out through the curls of hair on my shoulder you
could see the headlights of another vehicle below.
I was a lot further down the line then cause I could
see the shape of the Falls platform shelter across the via
duct. Yet there was no sound of the waterfall. I was right
next it but there was only the wind moving the tops of
trees on the lower part of the embankment.
I walked onto the ﬁrst section of the short curved
viaduct; I was screwing up my eyes into the dark as to
what was wrong with the waterfall, then you saw.
The entire cliﬀ and rocks had gone and frozen into a
massive drooping wa汬 of ice. Rows of icicles could be
seen over the viaduct's wa汬s, dangling into the darkness.
I gave a big shiver then crossed the rest of the via
duct, lay my hands down on the dark wood platform to
bunk myself onto it and swung my legs round mankying
the jeans up even more. I wiped my hands on their arse.
A ribbon shape moved across the dark water. It was
smoke from the chimney of The Turbines Bar yet there
were still no lights to be seen and it couldnt be near clos
ing time. Although I'd walked about three m楬e from
where the lift had dropped me off it couldnt possibly
have taken that long.
I clung to the railing on the winding path down
from the Falls platform to the main road. There was no
light anywhere in the bar building, down in the power
station carpark or across on the pontoon section where
the main road crossed the sluices. I peered over where
the tunnel entrance into the mountain is. I smelt some
lovely wood smoke. I climbed up the steps to The Tur
bines Bar door. I hesitated outside then pushed it open.
A couple logs were blazing up under the big brass
ﬂue in the centre of the room and this was the only light
source in the bar. Long shadows and dark corners were
everywhere with ﬂame light ﬂicking over the empty stools
and corner booths.
Not a soul was there. I crossed to the square
brickwork ﬁre and warmed my hands. The door spring
pushed it shut behind me. I peered in round the back of
the bar and squinted into the shadows: nobody.
I got the haversack oﬀ and leaned it against the bar.
I felt a deﬁnite gust of cold air from through the back.
Then you heard a faint voice so's I edged through the
lifted counter-hatch then poked my head in the rear area.
There was a row of metal beer casks then you heard more
voices. There was an open door to the outside. I moved
over to it and looked out.
Standing with their backs to me were three ﬁgures
that you couldnt quite make out. They were just standing
but they seemed to be looking up the mountain above us.
As my eyes adjusted you saw it was right enough. Two
men and a younger girl were just stood there peermg
queerly up at the mountain in the darkness. You saw the
man nearest me's breath.
Suddenly a man-voice goes, Must be heavy right
Let's go back inside; it's freezing, goes a girl's
younger voice in a south accent.
The man nearest me turned and I coughed.
Whos that? says another man-voice.
Sorry, I goes.
The three were staring at me a bit ﬂabbergasted
looking; my hair mustve been quite a mess too.
The two men carried on staring at me but the girl
who was stood at the rear squeezed past them cause they
were standing on a concrete path with sort of embank
ment up to the height of their chests.
We've had a power cut, says the girl coming right up
to my face, squinting at me.
Oh, I goes.
Eh, go on in or we'll 慬l catch our death out here,
says the girl.
Cause I was ﬁrst one in line I had to turn and lead
the way back in the door indian-ﬁle, past the metal beer
kegs, into behind the bar then through the lifted-up hatch
in the counter to stand on the correct side.
As we walked through I says, Sorry, I just sort of
heard your voices; there were no lights on in the bar, I
didnt know if you were open or what was happening.
The young girl moved to the till and you saw her
checking it before she came over and stood beside the ﬁre
with me and the two men. You saw the men had the
power station logo on their overalls. The baldier man
coughed, clapped his hands together and says, Brass mon
Aye, I goes and nodded.
The man coughed again.
The less baldy nodded towards the top of the bar
and went, Up there, way up there by the dam. It must be
bad. The snow. It means there's hea癹 heavy snow when
you get a short-out like this. Has to be bad to cut us off
They'll have it going in half an hour, says the other
man, looking at the girl, not me.
Aye, half an hour max, it's just a matter of them
switching it over to back-up but someone'll need to go up
in a four-wheeler to check the sub-station.
There was silentness. Total silentness cause there
was no fridges or anything going. A bit of ember tinkled
in the ﬁre. I held out my ﬁngers.
Hitching it? goes the guy next me, nodding to my
Aye. Sort of. Looking for work to be honest.
Work? went the girl.
Aye. Know anything go楮g?
Phew, bad time of year; you qualiﬁed in anything,
you a student or that? says the baldy.
Nut. I'll do anything though, I mean anything not in
the port; I was wondering about the villages and how
about yon superquarry, is that st楬l on the go out the . . .
I'd forgot the word in the language for it then I
remembered it .
. . . Out the peninsula? I goes.
The peninsula. The superquarry. Aye, aye it's still on
the go. You say
in the port. You dont want to work in
the port? Youre sort of narrowing down your chances a
The less baldy says, Only jobs for lassies out the
superquarry is cleaners, theres two hundred men out
there now but it's mostly going to be the older women
that'll get that kind of work.
What about the Alginate factory? I goes.
Alginate? That shut down three year back. Are you
from this way or something? went the baldy really looking
I nodded then says, A good while back, aye. I've
been travelling. Travelling round a bit.
There was more s楬ence.
Baldy goes, Aye could be theres an ice problem, they
have cameras at the outﬂow checking for blockages, trees
and branches or that; they can light it up if they send
divers down at night, the water's dumped from the dam
down these tunnels inside the mountain, thousands of
tons of water that turns the turbines then the water ﬂows
out into the loch at the end of that conduit. If the water
levels in the dam get low we can pump water back up
while it's the off-peak demand, at night.
Perfect, eh, the system'lllast for ete牮ity, it's all au
tomated, we just keep an eye on things.
Not tonight fellows, goes the girl.
We'd best shoot if they've got trouble down there,
goes the other, sw慬lowing the last from a cup of coffee
that was sat somewhere out to his left in the shadow.
Right we汬, mind how you go, says the baldy one and
Bye bye pet, the other smiled at the girl.
The ﬁrst one pushed open the door and as each
stepped out they both peered up into the sky.
The girl collected two coﬀee cups from out the
shadows and carried them to the bar.
Can I get you an祴hing?
Ah, no thanks, I says.
She clinked the coﬀee cups into a sink or something
that you couldnt see under the counter and says, Just as
well it is not Saturday evening. With these beer pumps
not working the power station fe汬ows would all be onto
shorts and go mad.
So youre from here then? she says, standing out in
shadows so's I couldnt hardly see her.
Aye, I am.
Oh, where from?
Oh, I'm up here for my university research, a bit of
extra cash always helps doesnt it?
I'm an ornithologist.
Yes. Eagles actually. Theres a nest site up on the
carries above the dam and I'm part of a three-year project
Right enough? I goes.
Theyre probably up there circling above us now.
So do you live here? I says.
Yes. I've a ﬂat up above.
Go 楮to the port much?
Is The Mantrap still there, the disco with the bakery
You didnt used to go there did you? A fellow got his
ear bitten off there in the summer. Everyone I know goes
to The Waterfront, it's re慬ly nice. The Mantrap's a
scabby dump. So youre look楮g for work now are you;
what were you doing before?
Travelling. Travelling round.
Did you get a lift here from one of the power station
workers coming in to night shift?
It's a funny place to ask to get dropped off out in
the middle of nowhere.
I didnt get dropped here, I've been walking a bit.
It's terribly cold to be out walking in this weather,
you should be careful.
Nothing'll happen to me, I says.
The girl held a open cigarette packet towards me.
I've given up, no thanks, I says.
I looked around and goes, Would there be any
chance of crashing here the night, I've not much money
She blew a noise out her mouth and goes, Well no, I
mean I'm sorry but, well my uncle you see, he'll be here
soon enough to empty the till and he'll be worried about
the beer what with this power cut. I dont think he'd be
eye to eye about me letting people stay over.
Yes, he bought this place four years ago.
I see, I goes.
Yes, so I mean I'm really sorry. Listen I was think
ing. My uncle's friend has a hotel; chalet style, out at the
airstrip on the island.
The island? I went.
Yes. By the airstrip. I mean if you tried there I'm
sure he may still be looking for staff.
I'll keep it in mind. Look would there be any chance
of a lift with any of the power station crew, out to one of
the v楬lages or that?
We汬 the night shift's on, just those two skivers are
always last in. The shift doesnt ﬁnish ti汬 after four.
Ach, it doesnt matter, I says, hoisting the haversack.
If you hitch along the road now theres bound to be
a few cars going out to the villages at this time.
Aye, bye now, I says.
utside in the coldness I got the CD Walkman, put it in
the pocket of the steerhide jacket and set He Loved
Him Madly going. I zipped the jacket and hands in pock
ets moved up to the road.
Headlights coming over the pontoon section were
glaring in my face but without tak楮g my thumb out the
pocket I just turned my face aside, away from the glare.
You heard the low gears, the shadows were swelling, the
car rewed by, the exhaust smoke pink in tail-lights. There
was mistiness along the loch. You saw the tail-lights move
down the shoreside road, headlights picking out some
larches out on one of the islets.
I took the dark path back up to the Falls platform
and jumped down into the middle of the railway track. I
kept walking on down the long straight forcing myself not
to look backwards; just the music in my ears.
After a good bit I looked up and there seemed to be
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