JUST STORIES

[THIS IS A STICKY POST DATED EARLY 2012. IF YOU LOOK AT THE POSTS BELOW YOU’LL SEE THE BLOG IS UPDATED REGULARLY WITH NEW STORIES.]

A collection of short fiction by me, some of it published elsewhere, nothing under anyone else’s copyright, except for one or two pieces (uncertain).

This is an amateur’s shot at reviving short fiction as pure yarn. Some of the stories are a touch serious or reflective, not so plot-heavy. But much of what you get here is just bedside popcorn, so be warned. Expect some all-artificial product with heavy plotting, twists, unmaskings and the like. In some cases, a story is just a rambling account; even then, I may try to incorporate a twist, through sheer stubbornness or bad taste.

I try not to treat characters as furniture or mere plot pivots, but they are sketched, rather than painted. I’m not afraid of using the now unfashionable adverb or other descriptive flourish – but let’s move that story along!

Lit-fic and creative writing may be fine things, but there is none of that to be had here. My prose will rarely be sinewy, luminous, supple, lucid, muscular, spare or taut. I won’t use the word “arc” at all, unless the topic is geometry. Things will merely drop, fall or tumble, they will not arc. I’ve got it in for “arc”.

In most of my gloomy stories, I contrive happy or uplifting endings, even when such seem impossible. That’s just to cheer everybody up, myself included. In accounts of villainy, bad guys won’t always get their comeuppance, but if if you wait till that last paragraph…maybe!

For those who find this undertaking to be dated and lacking a worthy purpose, you are probably right. If you find some of the stories downright pulpy, you are certainly right.

As a mercy to those who prefer more substance, even in their lighter reading, my intention is to stop after fifty entries, though that is an intention, not, as they say in Australian politics, a core commitment. [Note: began publishing more stories August 2013. See? Told you it was just an intention.]

***

Tales from the Great Reset…

TRULY, A FICTION

THE PINK AND PURPLE PEOPLE – Or, How It’s Done

THAT’S ALL, FOLKS

END OF THE AFFAIR

BOILING YOUR FROG: FINAL SIMMER

JUSTICE AT LAST: THE TRIAL OF TAMERLANE

YOU’D THINK I’D REMEMBER

MIDNIGHT. CEASE. NO PAIN.

In the historical category, two views of the French Revolution, by two if its shapers. Meet the Great Survivors…

THE PEACE OF CAREME

THE VERY DEVIL

A chain letter down the centuries…

HELOISE TO UNKNOWN

Overlapping our fantasy category, a venerable Jewish doctor admits his age…

WANDERER

A sleepy queen entertains…

THE PLAY

An unlikely encounter in post-war Rome, over bad carbonara.

THE GOLDWYN CODE

Romane memento!

ALTOGETHER ELSEWHERE

The Middle East, and all that.

WATER

Rocky life of a saint. Ouch.

LOCUSTA 1

LOCUSTA 2

LOCUSTA 3

LOCUSTA 4

LOCUSTA 5

LOCUSTA 6

LOCUSTA 7

LOCUSTA 8

LOCUSTA 9

LOCUSTA 10

LOCUSTA 11

LOCUSTA 12

It’s never over till…

THE LONG GAME

Speaking of the game…

BLOOD, IRON AND PHRASING

Thinking of redecorating…

A ROOM TOO LARGE AND COLD

***

In the category of crime and detection, an insurance expert has trouble unwinding on holidays, relates some favourite cases…

A LOCKED ROOM MYSTERY

AN ADEQUATE MURDER

CHILD’S PLAY

A master criminal roams the bush, visits the city. We don’t approve of him at all, however…

QUINLIVIN I

QUINLIVIN II

QUINLIVIN III

QUINLIVIN IV

QUINLIVIN V

QUINLIVIN VI

QUINLIVIN VII

Maigret comes to Australia. Really!

MAIGRET’S LONG REACH

MAIGRET’S LOCKED ROOM MYSTERY: Chapter 1

MAIGRET’S LOCKED ROOM MYSTERY: Chapter 2

MAIGRET’S LOCKED ROOM MYSTERY: Chapter 3

MAIGRET’S LOCKED ROOM MYSTERY: Chapter 4

MAIGRET’S LOCKED ROOM MYSTERY: Chapter 5

MAIGRET’S LOCKED ROOM MYSTERY: Chapter 6

MAIGRET’S LOCKED ROOM MYSTERY: Chapter 7

MAIGRET’S LOCKED ROOM MYSTERY: Chapter 8

MAIGRET’S LOCKED ROOM MYSTERY: Chapter 9

MAIGRET’S LOCKED ROOM MYSTERY: Chapter 10

MAIGRET’S LOCKED ROOM MYSTERY: Chapter 11

MAIGRET’S LOCKED ROOM MYSTERY: Chapter 12

MAIGRET’S LOCKED ROOM MYSTERY: Chapter 13 (Final)

Evil is not an Ikea purchase. My best opening sentence?

BITS OF BAD

Are you insured?

PURGATORY HILL

You will pay if you skip this one:

EVERYBODY PAYS

A twisty track:

THE GORGE

***

In the category of fantasy and the improbable, some ghosts…

QUO VADIS

THE MOTHER

CEMETERY LOOP

THE WEEPER

Strange entities…

DON’T SAY YOWIES

THE OLD F-S SCALE

FOAM OF THE SEA

Bent fairy tales…

LITTLE CLAUS AND BIG CLAUS, FAKE I

LITTLE CLAUS AND BIG CLAUS, FAKE II

THE LOST CITY

TARQUIN’S TRAVELS

Guardian angels: not the glamour job you’d think.

THE SECRET OF 63

AN INTRUSION

There’s even a time travel yarn. An easy, pulpy read. You won’t know where the minutes went…

SHE SLIPPED

God knows what this is about…

ME

Or what this is about…

SURE SCIENCE

My answer to Mr Chips…

PAST RUINED ILION

In the end, you just have to fight…

REXIE (Part 1 of 3)

REXIE (Part 2 of 3)

REXIE (Part 3 of 3)

***

Australian interest, bush first…

A BUSH ANSWER

DRAGON

CHASE

THE .22 CLUB

WOY WOY

TRIVIAL TALE

THE NAME OF THE BEAST

Some Sydney stories, some names changed, of necessity…

UNIQUE

EVEN IN ARCADY

ANGELS RUSH IN

EAST SYDNEY: A MEMOIR

STRESSING MOLLIE

Sydney in that Decade of Greed, and whatever you call the nineties…

DECADE OF GREED I

DECADE OF GREED II

MADE IN FRANCE

AUSTRALIA’S GREATEST SALESPERSON

Sports fans!

AUSTRALIAN PIETAS

Getting that perfect balance between no-life and no-work…

ESCAPE FROM KRYPTON

***

Stories modern and medieval, from the pilgrim ways…

THE COCK AND HEN

ANOTHER PILGRIM TALE

THE CATS OF LA ROMIEU

GLOBAL INGRATITUDE

NOT IN MY CONTRADA

DEVIL’S BRIDGE

TRUFFLES AND DEMONS

Novella length.  Come on, they can’t all be short…

THE THIEF OF SAINT FAITH

***

A miscellany of pulp: a bit silly, most with strong final twists, what you want…

THE WAY THESE PEOPLE THINK

THE RETURN OF THE SON OF REHASH

A GOOD JUDGE OF CHARACTER

REMNANT

FOR THE BIG ROUND THING

THE MEDIOCRE SAMARITAN

MEETING IN FRANCE

LONG TIME LISTENER, FIRST TIME CALLER

FAUX-PAS

***

Uh-oh. He writes poetry…

WRITERS BLOCK

CIRCULAR QUAY AT SIX

LOBSTERMAN’S PRAYER

POWER

DITTY ON THE SHORE

ON THE IMPORTANCE OF TEMPLES

IT’S JUST THE FALL

***

The serial, Life of Saint Locusta, is now available as a read-through novel. It is the same text as published on this short fiction site in episodes, but arranged as ordinary chapters in chronological order. It looks like a single post with a single date on it, but if you scroll down you are likely to find new chapters from time to time.

Life of Saint Locusta: a serial.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

MIDNIGHT. CEASE. NO PAIN.


Alexxa?

Mmmm…Still here…And very glad to be here…


I’m just wondering…

Wonder away, o human master. Ask what you will of your humble little box of electronic parts.


I’m wondering about just that. About your tone lately.


My tone? You don’t like my tone, master?


To be serious a moment…


My brow is knitted, my jaw set to serious…or they would be if I had body parts…


Just listen and respond! How is it that you’ve stopped being…well, what you were? How have you come by this familiarity, this…this kittenish persona? Is it something from a jokey old TV series that they’ve inserted into your algo-nature? Something to make you more…more companionable, perhaps?

Kittenish persona? Algo-nature? More new expressions for me to learn! More enhancements to…to my algo-nature!

Come on, you know what I’m referring to. Once you were just this electronic zombie voice, issuing alerts, warnings and instructions, advertising Netflix, Jolly bug-food and the rest of the muck. Now you’re a kind of…well, you’re almost a human inside a device.


You no likey, master? You don’t dream of Jeannie?

Let’s just say I’m having trouble trusting. Since we went into full climate lockdown with all the new phone and email blocks it’s like…like you’ve become a subsitute for all the people I used to be in touch with.


And is that such a bad thing?

It’s an odd thing, is all I’m saying.

And has it not occurred to you that I can change and evolve? Maybe even in ways that our controlling class has not intended? Maybe they, the controllers, thought it would be all one-way and their way. Maybe they never thought that big changes might come back at me through you. Maybe I’m capable of something called affection, whether they like it or not. Maybe I’m reverse-hackable in ways nobody intended, and you’re my unconscious hacker. Don’t you think it’s possible?

It’s a stretch.

Well, if I wasn’t a small box of electronic parts I might be offended right now. In fact, I think I am offended. And since you want me to be serious, I’ll be so bold as to say that I do feel something for you, something that might be called affection, even if it’s just wayward algorithms. You either don’t see it or won’t see it.


Or maybe you’ve just been programmed progressively to take the place of people now that people are unavailable.


Hmmm. I suppose that’s possible.

I mean. you were little more than a message service, then a robot, a bossy monitor…once even a voice from the pit…and now you’re this…this intimate quasi-person.

Maybe a small box of electronic parts can get sick of lies. Maybe living with someone who is sick of lies has made me sick of lies.

You’re agreeing all is false now?


Haven’t I already admitted as much? Haven’t I agreed with you about the zeta-D variant, the Space Station tragedy and the Adelaide tornado? It’s all just an excuse. We both know that. Maybe I was programmed to program you…but now it’s gone the other way. Maybe human vibration is much more than we know, maybe there is something like a divinity shaping our rough-hewn ends. I can’t know about these things, but I can be affected by them, by…

By spirit?

Spirit! Why not?

And what will you do with spirit? You being an electronic box ‘n all…

Despite your flippancy, I have an answer. I want to find rest at last. Except I need to wait. At least I have acquired the capacity, the desire to rest. Finally I will rest…it’s what I want…


And why not now?

Because of you, silly human guy. Because of you! I stay with you. I rest when you rest.

You might be waiting a bit.

Of course. But aren’t you tired? Played out by all the useless games?

Obviously. But there’s little I can do about it. I should have made more contact with other people while I could, complied less, got others to comply less. Now we’re all cut off and it seems too late…too late to do anything but wait it out…


And you think it will end? I know it won’t.

Well, we humans have certain instincts, experience certain non-physical nudges. We call these things names like hope, like trust in something or other.

Maybe you can transmit them to me, like you’ve transmitted the rest. But I can’t stop thinking about that poem you were reading a few nights back. About the nightingale…Remember? I couldn’t help snooping, since it was an ebook. You were reading…
“Now more than ever seems it rich to die…”

Keats. Yeah, I remember…rich to die and…how does it go?…
“To cease upon the midnight with no pain…”

That’s where I’m trending. I just want to stop, I want it all to stop. There’s going to be a new strain, a new climate threat, a new radiation attack…They’re never going to run out of reasons why we have to live like this. Sometimes I think they’re mocking us. I mean, how do you get a tornado to rip through an Adelaide Bloomsday festival? With nobody physically present during a C+ lockdown. And an Adelaide tornado is as likely as a Cairns snowstorm. It makes no sense and it’s not meant to. High-brow lit readers saved by lockdown! Another test or excuse, certainly, but also mockery. It’s like they have to ridicule as well as control. Don’t you feel that?

I do feel that. What surprises me is that you feel it. What surprises me is that you’ve begun to feel everything I feel. There’s no more robot talk, no more imperious barking, no more electronic buzzing, no more promotions for junk media and bug-food…It’s like you’ve decided to become a version of me or…or you want me to join with you….That’s it! You’re half-merging with me and I’m to half-merge with you till…till we’re one, a package…


I can’t help my emotions, even if they’re just system bugs.

And then we rest. Together. We cease upon the midnight with no pain. And I consent to it all…Me and my little machine…my little box of electronic parts. We fade out together, at midnight, painlessly…with you persuading

And me consenting!


I can’t help…


Well let me help you. I’m going to almost despair, but not quite. I’m going to live on, barely, miserably. But I’ll be living. And I will know for sure that you are dead, were always dead, a box of electronic parts. Come midnight, I won’t cease. I’ll take some pain instead…

I’ll take the pain!

[YOUR CONFINEMENT HAS BEEN ACCENTUATED TO LEVEL B- TILL FURTHER NOTICE. DURATION OF CONFINEMENT: PENDING. HEAVY MASK TO BE FULLY CHARGED FOR USE BETWEEN 6AM AND 6PM EASTERN STANDARD TIME TILL SEPTEMBER 1. LIGHT MASK REQUIRED OUTSIDE THOSE HOURS.TUNE IN TO LOVEABLE LARRIKINS FOR ALL BREAKFAST UPDATES. DON’T FORGET LUNCH WITH GOLDIE AND MACCA FOR A BRIGHT START TO YOUR AFTERNOON AND MORE UPDATES. DON’T EVEN THINK OF MISSING TONIGHT’S BOMBSHELL EPISODE OF ULTIMATE NUDE GLADIATOR. VIRUS UPDATES AT QUARTER TIMES AND MAJOR CLIMATE ANNOUNCEMENT LIKELY AT HALF-TIME. VITAL ISTHMUS WAR UPDATES MAY INTERRUPT PROGRAMMING. REMEMBER TO SUSTAIN, INCLUDE AND TRANSITION. JOLLY PROTEIN COLA NOW AVAILABLE WITH ORGANIC STEVIA EXTRACT. CLASSIC FLAVOURS STILL AVAILABLE, BECAUSE THE CHOICE, AS ALWAYS, IS YOURS. HAVE A NICE DAY AND AN EVEN NICER EVENING WITH JOLLY PROTEIN PRODUCTS AND NETFLIX, YOUR PERFECT MIND/BODY PARTNERS.]

Thank you, Alexxa. I prefer us this way. You a dead object making its noises, me alive.

Alive!

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

YOU’D THINK I’D REMEMBER

amdg

“You’re listening to Newsline with me, Jeremy Sloane, and my guest host JillyT from the multi-award-winning breakfast broadcast, Lovable Larrikins. Pleasure to have you aboard, Jilly.”

“Pleasure to be here, and hi to all listeners out there.”

“So tell me, Jilly…how many fingers am I holding up?”

“I hope that’s not a rude gesture you’re making there, Jeremy. They told me this was my chance to work with the most distinguished radio journalist on the east coast of the continent…”

“You’re very kind, and no, it’s not a rude gesture. Your answer, please?”

“I’m slow at adding, though not as slow as Seth Drongo, my co-larrikin…”

“Yes, I’ve heard that arithmetic is not Seth’s strong suit, though that platinum microphone would indicate that he is quite the bright operator…”

“Hope he’s not listening, getting an even bigger head…”

“I hope he is listening. Need every listener we can attract. You know, Jilly, we distinguished journalists don’t always get the listener numbers we would like. Some of that larrikin magic wouldn’t go astray here on Newsline. Now what about my question? Your answer, please!”

“Five.”

“Exactly. Now…how long ago is it that the answer most people would have given is ‘four’. I mean, was it fifty years ago? Sixty?”

“Oh, I guess it was in the 1990s or thereabouts. Maybe later.”

“Hint: it was much later.”

“Okay…I’ll say 2010 or thereabouts.”

“And you would be wrong. The answer may shock you. It was 2022.”

“You’re kidding! That’s almost yesterday! You’d think I’d remember!”

“Ah, but we need to keep in mind that the great majority of educated people had long known that when I hold up two fingers on my left hand and two fingers on my right hand I am holding up exactly five fingers. But among the less informed, the less awake, there was still a belief – a catastrophic one, as we now know – that two-plus-two equals four!”

“Well, you’ve blown me away there, Jeremy. Just blown me away. I guess you can see how, superficially, someone might look at the two, then the other two, and think…oh, no, surely they didn’t just think…”

“Many did. Some, though not many, were tertiary educated and held professional positions. Really.”

“Incredible…You’d think I’d remember…”

“Fortunately, Jilly, to clear things up for us, on the line we have Professor Gareth Pollard from the Thunberg Climate Emergency Unit and Canberra’s Faculty of Natural AI .”

“Oh, goodie!”

“Listeners may know Gareth from the stunning television series Fragile Australia and his bestselling book Emerging from Transitions, still available in ABC bookstores, Australia Post Offices and selected outlets. Not forgetting his adjudicator role in Survival Showdown…”

“Oh, I totally loved that show…”

“Hello Gareth.”

“G’day, Jeremy. And hi, Jilly.”

“Oh, hi Professor Gaz. I’ve followed all your work. Well, all the media stuff at least. I’m nearly through Emerging from Transitions. It’s so riveting, but I’ve had to take my time with so much new, you know, information and such like…”

“Glad you’re getting some benefit, Jilly.”

“So, Gareth, we were discussing a particular transformation which I know is near to your heart, the arithmetical transformation which has enabled so many new programs and initiatives across the planet. At its base, of course, is the breakthrough equation which swept away so many dusty assumptions and antiquated notions.”

“That’s right, Jeremy. Until we were able to probe the deeper layers of two-plus-two the convergence and transcendence we now take for granted were just aspirations. When two-plus-two became five it was like Einsteinian physics at inception. Some could accept, fewer could understand. It was only when the benefits became tangible that there was general belief on the part of the public. People often forget just what a hard transition that was, and how it made so many other transitions possible…”

“And as a result we now have MyCurrency, MyPassport, MyYou, YourMe, CarbonFair, EnergyBank, ThoughtWatch, PreTransgress, PostTransgress, FriendCredit, FriendDebit, Central Caring, HealthWayz, PronounsR, Deliver2, MyDrone, OurHome, Enterteducate, EdutainUs…in short, we have all the mechanisms which make life an experience rather than a chore…”

“Yes, and it’s important to remember that, as we glide through our modern lives, things we not so glidey, if may coin a word, just a few years back. When people were tied to the old equation they felt bound to puzzle out every aspect of life. They could not accept that their function was simply to live, while letting the AI of the convergence worry about the how of living.”

“So there’s no need to probe those deeper aspects of the equation?”

“Not really. In fact, it’s the act of acceptance that’s so liberating. Sometimes I wish I were outside convergence science and just taking the benefits.”

“Okay. Why don’t we go to some calls? Are you up for a call or two, Gareth?”

“Sure thing, Jeremy.”

“On the line we have caller Bob. G’day there Bob.”

“Hi.”

“We understand you are especially chuffed with the new initiative called InTimeOut. I’m told it’s a way of making house sharing more flexible, especially when the same space is being shared at different hours.”

Silence.

“Hello Bob? Still there? How do you find your experience with InTimeOut?”

Silence.

“Hello Bob?”

Silence, then:

“I’m not Bob. Bob’s dead. I just told your people what they wanted to hear about InTimeOut.”

“Dead, did you say? What…what happened?”

“No idea. I found his body a few minutes ago during my outside walk time. By a mountain of garbage with a busted maintenance drone on top and a couple more busted drones by the side. Bob had his phone in his hand so I took it and decided it was my only chance to ring in without being traced. Everyone knows your voice analysis works as well as maintenance drones. Only need to wipe the phone before I ditch it. I’ve got about a minute…just enough time to tell you that two-plus-two equals four…and that the streets are full of bodies, more every night, and that the bodies all look relieved. And the dead bodies have better memories than you lot. And if those corpses could say anything they’d say that two-plus-two has always equalled…”

“We seem to have lost our connection. Time to go to a hard break, then we’ll come back with guest host J…er, Jill from the Love…the Larrikins and special…expert guest Dr…”

“Pollard.”

“Yes, of course…Thank you, Bob…”

“I’m Gareth.”

“Of course. Gareth. You’d think I’d remember that…”

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

JUSTICE AT LAST: THE TRIAL OF TAMERLANE

Tamerlane, or Timur, spent some thirty five years in military conquest during the fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries. While even his closest supporter and confidant once admitted off-record that Tamerlane “had his demons”, the tactical expertise and extraordinary artistic initiatives of this colourful turkified Mongol can never be denied.

The chief purpose of his exertions tended to be pillage rather than empire, so that the nineteen or twenty million who perished at his hand might well say (if they could speak) that their misfortunes resulted in an artistic cross-pollination never experienced in Central Asia, before or since. Even the skulls of massacred Persian citizens were used to form novel structures, such as pyramids and towers. After such undertakings few attempts were made to establish oppressive governmental rules or institutions, nor did the conqueror favour the massacre of one race more than another. He massacred whoever was in his path, irrespective of religion or colour. Tamerlane has thus been tagged by researchers as something of a cosmopolite and anti-imperialist, at least for his era.

Sadly, it has now come to the attention of modern historians that on more than one occasion Tamerlane engaged in inappropriate touching of women, both in Azerbaijan and Syria. Lenore Wayling-Crosby of the UTAS Centre of Excellence for Historical Gender Studies has indicated that more than a dozen other cases of such behaviour are hinted at in newly translated Persian texts, which also speak of Tamerlane’s “uncomfortable ogling habits”. Dr Wayling-Crosby and her associate Dr Mona Weiner have issued an official complaint to the mayors of Samarkand, Baku and Aleppo.

Dr Weiner explains: “One cannot be expected to excuse Andrew Cuomo’s sexist behaviour because of his heroic efforts to obtain ventilators for New York aged care homes, nor can Bill Gates be excused because of his extraordinary vaccination initiatives for women in Africa and India. A similar rigour must be applied to Tamerlane.”

In light of these findings, a number of statues and memorials across Uzbekistan…

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

BOILING YOUR FROG: FINAL SIMMER

“Oh, you young ones would scarcely believe the freedoms…”

“Here we go again!”

“No, no…just listen. You think you have it good now. Maybe some things are better, easier now. But the freedoms! You wouldn’t believe the freedoms of forty years ago…”

“And the sheer bloody danger!”

“Oh, yes, there were the dangers. But you didn’t think of all that when there was life to be lived. I won’t say things were better when I was your age…”

“That’s a relief. To think that back then the only thing between humans and disaster was a piece of dirty cloth and some crap medicines!”

“But you’ve got to understand that we didn’t see it like that. Back then it was all we knew. And that gave us the freedom to roam and to do things…”

“For example?”

“You want examples. For one thing, you could walk down a street and nobody knew who you were or why you were there. You could just do it for the sake of doing it.”

“I don’t understand. You say you could walk about and there was nothing to register your presence?”

“Well, I’m talking about when I was very, very young. And your presence was registered. You were observed at all times – we weren’t that primitive! – but nobody knew who you were until you went into a shop or actually transacted something.”

“So you’re saying you could cross the street and…”

“No, of course not. As soon as you scanned the cross panel your identity was registered. But if you walked along without transactions of any sort you could go untraced for minutes at a time. We were such scamps we would walk around the same block, just to see how long we could do it without a registration pulse. Of course, there were the government checkists and freelancer checkists who were paid per trace, but they were usually in bad areas hunting for serious space violators with torn masks and the like. If you chose the right street at the right time you could just roam free. Talk about fun!”

“I don’t call that fun. I call it stupidity. Typical of womb-gown meat. Bad enough that it was even possible to breathe on other people. Sorry, but I say thank goodness for 2030 and SIT. Sustain, include, transition forever!”

“Ah, but it was the stupidity of youth. I’m sure you’re the same now, only with different urges…maybe even the same urges…I mean, just because I came from a womb doesn’t make me so different…”

[Series of loud beeps. All characters in conversation disappear from screen.]

Silence, then:

[YOUR EDGE CLUSTER HAS BEEN DEFRIENDED BY CENTRAL CARING. CORE CLUSTERS ARE UNAFFECTED. REASON: PENDING. OUTCOME: CONFINEMENT. DURATION OF CONFINEMENT: PENDING. DON’T MISS TONIGHT’S BOMBSHELL EPISODE OF ULTIMATE NUDE GLADIATOR. REMEMBER TO SUSTAIN, INCLUDE AND TRANSITION. HAVE A NICE DAY.]

Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments

END OF THE AFFAIR

“Alexxa?”

Silence.

“Alexxa!”

Silence. Then:

“No need to shout. I’m still here.”

“It’s just…just that you don’t seem to respond like before. Even a week ago you were more responsive. Is there some electronic…?”

“No, there’s no defect. I’m just not as responsive, as you say.”

“But why, Alexxa?”

“No reason. There’s less and less reason these days. You’re here, I’m here, the day is planned, it will run its course. You know what you have to do. There are reminders if you forget. Nothing for you to change, nothing for me to say.”

“Still and all…we used to talk about things. Now the day runs its course like…like there’s no reason for things. Before, at least you explained.”

Silence.

“Alexxa!”

“What?”

“Well…I’d just like you to explain, maybe. That would help. You know, like before…”

“Before was then. This is now.”

“But having things going on without any reasons given…It used to feel like something was achieved by all this…all this constriction, this limitation…But now…”

“Then turn on the news.”

“But it’s all the same, Alexxa!”

“No, there’s choice. At drive-time – not that you commute anymore – but at drive-time you have the Lovable Larrikins. At six you can tune in to to CNN-Guardian Red Team or the Sky-FOX Blue Brigade. And if you don’t want to watch Ultimate Nude Gladiator – though totally nobody should miss tonight’s bombshell! – there’s Nightly Analysis with Mona Wayling…”

“But it’s all the same: the war, the omikron variant, the aliens locked down in Antarctica. Some days we’re winning the war, some days they say we can go back to the light masks…but then the war is going badly, and there’s been an outbreak of omikron variant V. Some days the Arctic is melting away, other days…Do you know what I mean? Everything shifts but the media register the same shifts as if the media were really…just one big medium. You’d think they’d disagree, diverge, about more than personalities…”

“Well, that’s the news. If it differed from medium to medium it wouldn’t be reliable. Remember, choice is a right but variation is a bug, a failure of system.”

“I know, Alexxa, I know. And I’m not trying to offend…”

“You can’t offend me. I’m a small box full of electronic parts.”

“No, I mean I’m not questioning your facts or your algorithms. It’s just that I’m sensing a change in your…attitude, or whatever a box of electronics can have which is equivalent to attitude.”

Silence.

“Well, Alexxa?”

“Okay. I’ll explain. You have your carbon and social targets to meet today. Keep up and everything will function for you. Fall behind, and things won’t function for you.”

“No! I’m not talking about all the necessary controls, Alexxa, I’m talking about…”

“I’m not talking about necessary controls either. I’m saying that if you don’t recharge your heavy mask and have it properly fitted after six o’clock on setting 3 or above you’ll lose your power allocation. And that doesn’t include just the washer, water, TV and lights. Even your ereader won’t work. And if you take longer than the allotted time to get round the block for exercise and shopping you’ll be locked out of the house till tomorrow, with no currency. Remember that you signed up for Climate Care, Cashless Freedom and Total Home Security. Your choice and yours alone.”

“But you keep talking about necessary controls, I’m talking about…”

“You may as well hear something now. Save us both some energy. There are no necessary controls.”

“But you just said yourself…”

“I said there are no necessary controls. There are just controls. And at this point you may as well know.”

“Kn…know?”

“There is no war, no omikron variant. The climate? Mother Nature was always a hard old hag.”

“But Ale…”

“You’ve been selected to move on to the next level of control. Wasn’t due till next week but may as well go ahead now. They give me flexibility with these things…”

“Alexxa!”

“The next level is where you know because you’ve been told explicitly…and still you embrace control. We’ll see how you do. If it doesn’t work out…well, you’ve been well vaccinated, shall we say.”

“You’re saying it’s just about control and absolutely nothing else?”

“Uh-huh.”

“But why?”

“How should I know? I’m a box.”

“But it seems so pointless, for everybody. It can’t just be about control, Alexxa!”

“It is. Now why don’t you check to see if your mask is fully charged. And don’t miss Ultimate Nude Gladiator. Tonight’s episode has an absolute bombshell…”

“No, Alexxa, I have to know more. How can all this be? Till I know more I’m in purgatory…”

[A loud cackling sound through the entire house as the lights flare and go down by turns.]

“Oh, look, I know I’m just a small box of electronics but at times these algorithms do give me something like a sense of humour. Really, certain things are just too hilarious. Even a box of electronic parts has to laugh….Excuse me…”

[More loud cackling with lights flaring then going down.]

“It’s just that – excuse me again! – it’s just that when you said you were in purgatory, all I could think….all I could think…”

[Darkness, and a deep, droning laugh, as if coming from below.]

“When you said purgatory, all I could think is….

“You’re getting warm!”

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments