Grave matters

Decay clung to the nostrils. Stones were crumbled to dust, wood rotted to dirt, weeds twisted and choked everything. The headstones stretched out as far as the eye could see, innumerable and indistinguishable. The plots were tiny and I became afraid that the bones of uncounted children rested here.
“Dear God!” I cried out in horror. “Spirit, what is this place?”
“Here lie all the blogs abandoned by their creators” said the Spirit.

Unboxing

The shell hung limply in the darkened alcove, inert.

Presently, a cascade of lights swooshed down the smooth surface of the alcove, and a host of umbilicals snaked out to seize onto the shell. It seemed to shiver, and then sagged slightly further into the alcove. The umbilicals disconnected and the shell switched on.

“Marvellous!” it said.

It ran a hand through its hair, slightly shaky. “Sync status?” From the alcove a voice softly replied “[Sync complete]”.

“Marvellous!” said Frank Hawthorne. He crossed the room to a full-length mirror and studied the shell – his shell. “They have captured me perfectly” he pronounced.
In fact, Frank Hawthorn could barely remember what his birthshell had looked like. He had long ago traded the last vestigial flesh and bone for a sleek synthetic physique.

He felt sure that the flawless complexion he now beheld was a much truer representation of his inner self, the self he really deserved to be, than any crude biological remnant.

“This model,” he mused, “is even more like me than last year’s.”

Besties

Three days south of the border we passed that dead twisted tree,
followed the creek for a half day under deep skies, came at last to the cave,
our faces streaked with dust and sweat, bright-eyed from the ride
We made a pile of our new riches and swallowed cool mouthfuls of water,
Exchanged glances and grins, laughed at our good fortune

I’ve never told you, but I don’t much care for gold or fine clothes.
There we were, and you said “I’m going to rob a train, by myself”
and I said “By yourself?
Like hell!”

It’s A Delicious Life

I found him perched on the railing of a bridge, contemplating the dark water beneath.
“I’m going to eat you” I said.

“Oh, right” said the teenager, not looking up.
I tried again. “I’m going to consume your soul.”
“Whatever.”
“In your agonising last moments, your sense of self will be forcefully torn from your memories.”
“Big deal.”

My shadows drifted about us both. My stomach rumbled. I was not sure what to say.
“You seem unconcerned” I volunteered.
“I hate my life.”
“What?” I said “What? I’m a dark and bitter creature (lifeless and unfeeling), you don’t see me complaining about it.”
“So?”
“And you have a young and warm body and every reason to believe in a promising future.”
“Bullshit” he said. “I might as well throw myself in.” To emphasise his point he spat in the river. “I wish I had never been born” he added as an afterthought.
“That’s awful!” I said, somewhat horrified. “I can’t eat you like this!”
I reached out and took his hand. Time and space spun around us.

Continue reading

Our moments are not

Our moments are not on instagram
Our moments are not pinned on imaginary boards like imaginary butterflies,
lifeless simulacra of life

not posted nor reposted
but they live in the space between updates
unsaved and untagged

Our moments are on film
They come to life in the dark,
grasped between fingers, easily lost or spoiled
but held tightly, like some precious thing
which exists only once,
disappears,
and leaves no trace

The Ruins

We are some time and some distance from here. We are in the Future. We are in Fremantle. We are in the ruins of Old Fremantle. We are almost completely alone. There is nothing that moves here.

This was a Port. That is the word which was used. Port. It was Latin once, then it was English, a shape made by mouths while there were still mouths to make shapes. It held a meaning. It signified that there were lives here and they were fed by great ships which came from over the horizon. It signified that the water was deep. Words held a great many meanings and something as small as “Port” stood for a beehive, rumbling through the day and glowing and buzzing through the night, propelled by hundreds of lives. Now we are almost completely alone.

We are almost completely alone. However, there is a boy. He lives in the ruins of Old Fremantle. He has been seen walking around. He has been seen with a stout walking stick. He is about the same age as you, only somewhat younger.

There is also a girl who lives in the ruins of Old Fremantle. The boy and the girl have both lived in the ruins for quite some time. Luckily one day they met and they slowly became friends. The boy has a soft cap with a metal flower which the girl gave him. The edge of the flower is jagged which is a useful reminder to be careful.

One day it starts snowing, which is unusual for Fremantle. The snow is also unusual: it is a sort of chemical foam. There is some half-functioning factory nearby, perhaps. The foam floats on the river and coats the bank at low tide. When it falls on the girl her scalp becomes itchy and red and it spreads to her face. The boy has thick hair so he gives the girl his cap so that her head is protected. The flower reminds her to be careful.

The boy and the girl live together in a cargo container which is one in a stack of hundreds of cargo containers. There is one important difference between it and the other containers; it is a home. The boy and girl have collected only the nicest rubbish for their container. They have a broken table, some pillows, a wonderful pile of old newspapers, and a tea set.

When it is not snowing they have a favourite place. It is a playground which is made out of broken cars and cranes and pieces of machines. When they found it, there was nothing but junk, so they had to gradually remake it themselves. For example one day the girl said “Look, this old car is actually a cave!” and they quickly ran into the cave. Then another day the boy said “Look, this crane is actually a slide!” and they quickly climbed up the ladder and slid down the long yellow arm.

The boy and the girl are quite happy together in the ruins of Old Fremantle, although they are completely alone,

almost.

Night Walk

I felt restless, so I got out of bed and out of the house. The night made the city a stranger, and I wandered. After some time, it came to me that I was lost. The buildings had an unfamiliar shape and the streets were named for people I’d never heard of. I felt a growing sense of disquiet. I found myself on the edge of a graveyard. In the gloom I could faintly see the rows of tombstones. I was compelled to enter.

I found myself first in the oldest part of the graveyard. The tombs here were wrought from marble and loomed over me, holding the remains of the first families to settle here.  As I continued to walk, they gave way to more modest stones and more ordinary lives.

Finally I came to an open grave. The yawning mouth of the pit was strangely familiar. I could barely make out the inscription on the stone, so I leaned towards it, and with a jolt of horror, I saw that my own name was written there!

I slipped on the crumbling damp soil and tumbled into the grave. I cried out in panic and thrashed about, but the sound seemed to be absorbed by the dark earth. I continued rolling around and screaming for some time, but eventually I became tired. I realised that the grave was still completely open so I stood and looked about for a way up.

It was then that I noticed something: the headstone didn’t actually have my name on it. Blast! I’d misread it, probably because it was the middle of the night and there were no lights in the graveyard. I made several attempts to climb out, but the earth crumbled through my fingers and I kept slipping back in.

“Hello?” I yelled experimentally. There was no answer. I had to wait until the funeral the next day before somebody noticed me and helped me to climb out.

Adopted

I’ve got this excellent idea for a decades-spanning prank to pull on future children. The idea is that you raise your children while giving little clues along the way that they were adopted. Eventually you admit to them that they are adopted while they are still quite young, and you raise them in a loving fashion “just like their birth parents would have”. As the years go past, they are happy but they always have this unfulfilled curiosity about their real parents.

Eventually they leave home and in their adult life they begin to research their birth parents. They get in contact with the adoption agency and the agency tells them that their birth parents are willing to meet with them.

They set up the meeting and when they arrive, you’re there waiting for them, and you fall to your knees and cry out:

“I CAN’T KEEP THE TRUTH FROM YOU ANY LONGER… YOU’RE NOT ADOPTED!”

Migraines

I’ve been getting migraines more frequently. The doctor was perfectly charming. I’m afraid to fill the prescriptions because they sound so strong. Take one per day and no other pills of any kind. Spray into your nose and don’t operate heavy machinery. I don’t want to mess with my brain. But Philip K. Dick did all his best work on amphetamines. Maybe I’m taking the wrong path. I had a dream last night. I was back at school and everything was simple. I was sitting next to a girl with dark hair and dark eyes who’s never really left my mind . She smiled at me. Everything was going fine until she leaned on my shoulder and I began to suspect that I was asleep. Sure enough, she kissed my mouth softly and the rest of the class went on writing. When I woke it was so vivid that I wanted to call her, but with a few minutes of daylight, it crossed my mind that she was seeing someone. I hope she’s happy. I wonder sometimes if she works too hard to ever really know. Or maybe she’s just been dodging me all these years and has a fulfilling life; I can’t rule it out. I wonder if I linger in her the way she lingers in me. I wonder what traces I’ve left in other people. I can understand that – the amphetamines – writing it all in a crazy burst. I ’ve written too many fragments. Eventually I start wondering if I should knit them all together just to give some false sense of accomplishment. Anne McCaffrey wrote Restoree in her Latin class but her bio doesn’t say how much Latin she did.

Day of the Beards

I heard a rustling sound from the corridor and glanced knowingly at Joe. “They’re back.” Together we flung open the door and fired our revolvers at the horde of beards gathering outside. We shot dead perhaps five of the beards and the rest scattered, but they would return before long, and the fact of the matter was there were more beards in the night than there were bullets in the drawer. I poured another glass of whiskey to steady my nerves. Joe flicked open his revolver and calmly slid another round into each chamber. Outside we could hear a dragging sound as the beards carried their fallen comrades away. They’d be back. They’d be back soon.