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.”




“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.”


“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.”


“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…”


“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?”


“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 a pit.]

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

“You’re getting warm!”

About mosomoso

Growing moso bamboo on the mid-coast of NSW, Australia.
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4 Responses to END OF THE AFFAIR

  1. beththeserf says:

    A good description of Purgatory. Sounds familiar. (

  2. beththeserf says:

    Thanks toff, for posting that link and the many comments you’ve made at that link, … thanks also for all these stories with a twist, which I have appreciated.

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