This short story was captivating to the very last word. The central characters are superbly created by Hems, and there is always a sense of something sinister lurking beneath the surface as the story unfolds.
How and why the 'Figures' obtain the identity of the man is a mystery, but it seems as though they need to take over his personality in some way. I liked the idea of a judgment being passed by the conductor, and reappearance of the 'Figures' in the arena. All in all a remarkable little short story that should be read by many.
Nigel Hems' short story, 'The Visitor' describes a scene in which the main character, Mr Burly is waiting for a visit of some kind to take place, although from whom and for what purpose is never made entirely clear. The story is punchy, precise, and smooth flowing from start to end, and leaves the reader not only engaged, but in some sense living through the sense of apprehensions of Burly, both before, during, and significantly, after the visit has taken place. There is a degree of menace surrounding the pending visit, and this is intertwined with a smattering of absurdity that overtakes events once the visitor arrives. The story seems to work on many different levels, with the notion of the visitor only having a provisional, less than perfect status, signifying something more deeply metaphysical regarding questions of human society and human functions. Hems seems to be putting forward the visitor as a kind of stool pigeon, to prise apart within the structure of the narrative. It seems to me, also that the author may be parodying the austere world of professionalisms, the precise, almost mechanical processes that dominate all of our lives, and at the same time is passed off as being ‘progress’ or ‘improvement’ in a broad sense; but Hems manages to see the severe pitfalls of this assessment of things, and the first person form of narrative is used to great effect here. All in all this is a very good story. A style and form of writing that I have not come across before.