Digital Ischemia



Filed under: Glen Tosied — Teepwriter @ 17:45

Throughout the return crawl Venom cheerily regales Blink with observations of dubious relevance regarding the underground temperature and how she filters this up into the hut.  This does nothing to warm or dry him.  What he retains is the fact that it’s a consistent ten to fifteen degrees Celsius.  He also recognises how much he needs company; her company.

The dreary hut is momentarily dazzling.  Sticks bursts into giggles, pointing at the cold, wet Blink, living up to his name.  He tolerates it in what he believes is good grace, but is outwardly simply grumpy.  You have your fun, freakchild.  Oof, that was a bit harsh.  Where’d that co—
“—Here we go!”  Venom continues her weird mothering busyness.

Four faces in varying styles of stupor shuffle around the breakfast box, settling on dining compost piles, drifting in like catatonic Fraggles.  Merrill, in a fleeting submission to anxiety, bleats.
“What happened?”
“When, dear?”  Venom horrifies herself with this falsely affectionate, old-fashioned, old, turn of speech.  Blink doesn’t seem to notice.  He looks like he’s about to melt down again.  Needs some calories.  Merrill returns to her usual, ungracious expostulation.
“Am I expected to subsist on mould and insects?”  Venom ponders this seriously: she hasn’t previously considered eating the ants; could be a good source of protein.  Sticks lines up seven well-formed mushrooms in the proper manner.

Blink completes his bland but filling platter of crusty slugs, entertained only by covertly watching Sticks acting out her silent drama.  The mushrooms that required most admonishment are eaten first, he observes, but ultimately, with resignation, all must die.  He sinks lower in his heap of damp leaves, swinging back to dejected despair.   He lapses into stasis, his mind overwhelmed by this dreadful, escalating reality.  Sticks gravitates toward him under the pretext of tidying leaves.  Venom clocks this right away but still bustles downstairs – yes, calling it that now – following up her harvesting contentment with domestic bliss.  Merrill rises from her heap to fidget about.  She idly browses around the hut, sighing repeatedly and tiresomely.

When Venom re-ascends, all smoothed down and revitalised, Sticks is making dirt angels on the floor.  Merrill watches this resourceful game-making with a sneer.  That will have to be examined later.  A member is missing.  Venom spins, wondering with a flush if he could have snuck past her in her washing reverie.
“Where’s Nicky?”
Merrill shrugs.  Sticks freezes, feeling a wave of unexplained guilt.  She resumes jerky swishing on the floor in defiance.
“He went out.”  Why is Aunty Venom getting angry?  We don’t like him anyway.  Hopefully the girl will go out too.
“I can’t think why he wanted to leave,” Merrill mutters sarcastically.  Venom is stung but still more concerned by his absence.  Her transient optimism evaporates again.

Blink bursts in, met by the still angry Venom.
“Where the fuck have you been?”  She hisses, woefully succumbing to the stereotype.  He glances apprehensively around, bringing his eyes to rest on Sticks: she’s folded up like a pile of…  Ah.  Venom fires again, “don’t look at her; look at me!”
“The sky is fucking orange and purple.  I’m not being lyrical; it’s actually orange and purple.  And not fluffy sunset-tinged clouds orange and purple; vivid, nasty, toxic orange and purple.  What do I do with that?!  It’s fundamental to our psyches to have sky in shades of blue.  This is what humans evolved with for… tens of thousands of years.  And you’re impatient that I’m not getting over this!”
“Like men didn’t go into space,” she scythes.
“Not without unravelling a tiny bit, and not to mention it was a choice they prepared for.  Yeh, that’s what this is: alien!”
Venom gives him a moment for his energy to come back up, finding remarkably that hers already has.
“Do you know what it actually is?”  He gives his head the tiniest shake.  She explains, “it’s not eta radiation.  It’s massive industrial processes going haywire; the software, the computers, the electronics that control them are completely broken and nobody can keep them right.”  She watches the shockwave ripple through him, hoping he’s strong enough to withstand it now.

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