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Showing posts from August, 2009

Random Writing 10

We first noticed the auditors walking the corridors late at night. Caroline Bates was the first to report them - shadowy grey figures strolling through the building, silent and ominous as she viewed them through the frosted glass between the general administration office and the corridor outside. She told Louisa and Chaz that "there was something wrong with the way they moved, like they were walking with crutches", although Caroline's fertile imagination and gullible nature was well known throughout the office, and it was put down to a mere excess of nervousness while having to work late to deal with the anomaly in the 1994-1995 accounts. In addition to that, the film "Auditor" had just finished its run in the local arthouse cinema - and although none of us had seen it, we had all seen clips on Film 95 and heard radio interviews with the director, so it was possible that we were even more susceptible to being given the creeps by it, having no real idea of the c…

Random Writing 9

The air was hot and thick, and full of the shrill cries of a thousand insects; full, indeed, in every way and therefore somehow more solid, more dense, than the air of home. Water hung there in ambush, waiting to coalesce on Susan's arms, legs, face as she walked through it. She had forgotten what it was like to be fully dry, for every surface of the forest was either dark with damp or bright with drops of liquid.

She pushed on through the trees, following the line of saplings that marked the path of the refugees. It seemed hard to believe that Jonathan had once come the opposite way along this track - it was barely anything, how could it possibly have disgorged an entire nation onto the world? His footsteps could lie underneath this covering of the scrubby vines that grew criss-cross over the path, but were they buried beneath the footsteps of tens of thousands of others? There would be no way to tell, of course, since even the last to come had presumably had their trails covered…

Random Writing 8

The cardinal stood motionless at the top of the stairs, carefully examining the couple below him in the concourse. Had they but looked up once they would surely have spotted him, but it seemed that God's will was that his misstep should go without remark. He narrowed his eyes, wishing that he had an eyeglass with which he could see their mouths more clearly. Over the last ten years he had quietly practised lip-reading for just such a purpose. Every Tuesday morning he had a selection of different choristers and monks sent to the stairwell onto which his antechamber opened to recite verses from the bible as an act of piety and education for travellers upon those great stairs. The exact verses were picked at random by a process involving lots (he would have preferred dice, but the impious nature of their involvement in gambling stayed his hand - it would probably not be best to put temptation so close at hand for his assistants). The various worshippers stood on the ground floor, fro…

Random Writing 7

We looked in the cage, keeping our distance. The big body of the thing was sure to prevent it from getting between the bars, but the tentacles looked like the could have reached out pretty easily, and in the twilight it was almost impossible to make out where it was. In the full light of day it had been easy to spot once you knew what to look for, but I think if we'd stumbled into someone else's camp and found the cage we'd have walked up to it as confident as anything and no doubt we'd have been grabbed immediately and ended up in bits. Milo had the smart idea of gathering twigs (well, we called them twigs, but of course that wasn't what they really were at all) and using them to make a circumference on the ground around the cage that would show us roughly where we were safe. It was risky guesswork, of course, since we had no idea whether the tentacles could shoot out like a squid's, but it was better than nothing, and I figured a pretty good use of our effor…

Random Writing 6

I staggered into the bar, hoping against hope that no-one I knew would be in there. It was a crowded Friday evening, though, the place packed with regulars and student pub-crawlers, and much to my annoyance I bumped into Meg almost immediately. Meg works in the same office as my girlfriend - they get on well, despite something of a personality clash. My girlfriend (Hannah) is an old-school protestant work ethic type of girl, turns up early and leaves late, and doesn't stop for breaks. Yes, thanks for asking, she is starting to develop ulcers. I once caught her replying to an email while I was going down on her (she'd surreptitiously swiped her blackberry from the nightstand), which I can assure you is not an entirely ego-boosting commentary on my oral skills.

Meg, meanwhile - or rather, "Meg in contrast", since although I say meanwhile in real life, I notice in print it makes it look as though I'm aware of what Meg was doing at that moment that the little click o…

Joe Harper's Fridge and what came out of it (Random Writing 5)

Three days before halloween 1995 was the day that we found out that Billy Sykes was one of them, the day that Lissa let me take off her bra for the first time, and I guess the day that I did what I'd always wanted to do - fuck up the town of Shiphook for good. Although no-body knew that till later, of course.

I wanted to do more with Lissa, of course I did, but she was all churched up, so I took what I could get and when she said she had to get back in time for dinner with her folks I just let her go - I wasn't going to go pleading or any crap like that, you get a reputation that way, and fuck if I was going to be with Lissa for the rest of my life, you know? I knew that the little town of Shitpoke was too small for me, too small for anyone really, but some folks like to feel shoehorned into a place, and Lissa's family was like that. She was the hottest girl in school, no doubt, but - you know, a town of three thousand people has got what, a hundred teenagers, fifty of them…

Random Writing 4

From the moment I saw it, I knew I had never wanted anything so much. My aching knees, my grumbling stomach, the twinges in my back from holding the family candle, all my church-day woes just fell out of me. I stared up, mesmerised.

The altar at the church of the eighth ascension was in the center of a raised section to the north of the congregation. It was a large stone block topped with a carved wooden statue of the god Klarat - in the form of his eighth ascension, of course, with outstretched arms and a wren perched on each shoulder. In his hands rested a hammered bronze bowl, dark brown with light streaks where the candle-light reflected from the edges of each blow. In the bowl were the church treasures, those donations that were small enough to keep and valuable enough to display, but not so valuable that the church was obliged to sell them for upkeep.

Today, unlike church-days before, I could see a handle poking over the edge of the bowl. I don't know (and indeed, I never foun…

Random Writing 3

The moment of thrust-down is like birth. Crushed into your seat it seems like there is nothing before, nothing after, just the endless pressure of acceleration and the shrill roar of the engines, their vibrations penetrating every part of the ship, every part of your body so that it seems the sound is coming from inside your own head, an unbearable sound even with the earphones, the helmets, the noise-cancelers without which you would be deafened before reaching the edge of space. It seems like you will exist forever in that state of chaos where not you but the rocket - which is not a rocket but your entire universe - where the entire universe is letting out its primal scream, a scream that began with the big bang and is still going.

But then, then, thrust-down. Suddenly nothing - a silence that must be big, has to be big to fill the space left by the sound it replaces. And the straps which a minute ago were lead, gold, uranium suddenly are spidersilk, gossamer twists barely detectable…

Random Writing 2

Andrea collapsed forward slowly, resting her head on the table. Richard imagined her relishing the cool ellipsoid of skin where her forehead pressed against the faded yellow laminate. She let out a deep sigh, a miasma of despair so thick that he could feel his muscles tense up as the sound washed over him.

"Why us," she breathed. "Why us?"

Richard took the straw in his mouth and sucked, drawing out the faintly coke-flavoured meltwater that had escaped from the ice-cubes. The bottom of the straw gurgled, and Andrea raised her head just far enough to stare at him, a baleful, narrow-lidded stare. Richard put down the drink.

A pair of teenage girls sat down at the table next to them - big coats, tiny skirts, so that they must have felt an unbearable temperature gradient in the chilly air outside. Or perhaps, he thought, the fast blood of the young evens it all out.

"You know," he said hopefully, "it's not just us."

Andrea left her head dro…

Random Writing

We were packed that night into a temporary building thrown up by a forcefield generator, expecting a quiet night at last, a chance for our hearts to slow and our feet to shrink. We were assigned spaces on the upper or lower floor, with sleeping bags for warmth and modesty. But we were not meant to rest yet.

The power couldn't go out - it was impossible, unprecedented to lose power - so of course that was what happened. With a high-pitched bleep that woke up only the dogs asleep around us the generator's capacitors failed and the walls and floors instantly dissolved. Those of us on the ground floor were woken by the protective lead-tantalum blankets falling onto us (if we were lucky) or by our fellow refugees hitting our legs, bodies, faces (if we were unlucky). I was sleeping underneath a boy I'd seen during the escape but hadn't had a chance to talk to, who landed on my outstretched left arm. When I asked him later what it had been like, he described perfectly what I&#…