Read it here: the thriller you won't want to pick up

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The Independent Online
Exclusive to the Independent on Sunday, we give you the following exciting extract from Matthew Cretin's new techno-thriller, Zimmer frame. Buy the paper next week to see if there's more.


Janice Somebody sighed. The long night was heading towards its climactic ending: dawn. In her lap lay several heavy cats and a dead dinosaur. Beside her lay Charles Somebody. Janice sighed again. She knew she would have to get through several more short spiky sentences before this paragraph was over. She looked out of the window therefore. Then she looked at Charles. Then at the dead stewardess and co-pilot hanging from the foot of the bed. The stewardess did not look comfortable. But what could Janice do? Finding jurassic remnants and dead airplane passengers scattered about the bedroom was becoming a nightly occurrence.

The moment of truth had come. Janice always hated this, trying to get out of bed without Charles' help. But she didn't want to wake him. He needed his sleep. He'd worked hard all his life at some big "plant". Everybody seemed to work at a big plant these days. But big plants are more interesting than you might at first think. First of all, they're big, and secondly, they're called "plants", which is sort of weird if you think about it.

But Janice didn't have time to think. She was too busy trying to get up. She reached out. Her hand touched the cold metal of the bar that ran horizontally across the top of her Class A D2-27 zimmer frame. The latest model and, according to her doctors, incredibly reliable. A zimmer frame that could be described as unsinkable. A zimmer frame which had served countless needy folk all over the world without giving any serious cause for concern. Janice had infinite faith in it. She had even visited the plant once where they make zimmer frames. It consisted of a hangar a mile long, containing a blinding display of zimmer frames in various stages of construction and design improvement. Fifty million people were employed at the plant to design, check and maintain zimmer frames in an increasingly competitive market. An ambitious enterprise indeed.

Janice pulled her feet out of bed and carefully positioned the zimmer frame in front of her so that the perpendicular bars were firmly planted on the floor and the horizontal bars were parallel to the base of the bed that linked the head of the bed to the foot and held the whole mattress structure in place. It was a complicated operation but she had had 3,000 training hours and knew she was capable in normal circumstances of completing the process satisfactorily. Everything depended really on the flatness of the bedroom carpet beneath the zimmer frame. This was the one unpredictable element which could cause a problem. The carpet was occasionally subject to turbulence.

Slowly she rose, gradually adjusting the zimmer frame as her weight shifted to her feet. She successfully avoided tipping the zimmer frame towards herself, which would have caused her to crash back down on the bed. Once standing, she felt more confident. She started moving slowly towards the hallway. But then something happened. Charles stirred.

"You up?" he asked, sleepily.

It was at this moment that the zimmer frame began to shudder. A small vibration filled the room. Charles opened his eyes in alarm. Janice was slipping forward over the zimmer frame. Then backward. Suddenly everything tilted at a crazy angle. Janice slid in slow motion to the floor. She noticed the cameramen as she went down: her story was already being made into a film. She saw a child's bootie, a toy, a baby's bottle and other poignant reminders of infancy under the bed, before she blacked out.


"What's a ZFECUO, Mummy?" Carey Microscope was wearing a rather cute pair of jogging shorts as she made breakfast for her son Keith who was still suffering panic attacks after being informed that he was born in England and not Glendale, California. Carey dumped some cornflakes into a bowl, just to keep the suspense of the scene going.

"It stands for Zimmer Frame Expert Cover-Up Organiser, Keith. That's my new job at the plant. I used to just stick the rubber things on the bottom, but I've been moved up." Carey turned on the tap in the sink, ostensibly to rinse some dishes but really to show off her biceps for the hidden cameramen who were always hanging around her kitchen these days. Then the phone rang. She answered it. She was conscientious about such things.


Carey jumped into her car and headed along the A328, then the B62, then the C450 to the plant. There was a serious investigation already under way into a zimmer frame accident that had occurred that morning. Carey's presence would be vital to the cover-up.

When she arrived she went straight to the control tower of the service department. There below were several men gingerly transporting the suspect zimmer frame to the inspection area. Even from this distance, Carey could tell there was a screw loose somewhere...

I THOUGHT the only good thing about supermodels is that they disappear into oblivion after a few years' clubbing and catwalking. But will we ever see the back of Cindy Crawford or Jerry Hall? When they tire of trying on new duds for a living, they seek other limelights: exercise videos, beauty hint books, movie careers and glamorous marriages. There's nothing like knocking some international sex symbol into shape as a husband and father, to keep a resting model busy.

Like Michael Crichton (who, according to Mark Lawson, is a genius) Cindy Crawford has legendary intellect. In both, this curious skill mainly takes the form of a sound business sense. Thus, a modest proposal. I think Crichton and Crawford should get hitched and make beautiful money together. (And leave the rest of us in peace.)