Digital Ischemia



Filed under: Glen Tosied — Teepwriter @ 17:43

Back at the larder, the candle rests on a convenient jut of rock.  Venom plucks the largest mushrooms, each with an appetising snap, and collects them in a bag of crimped linen.  Instead of paying attention to the harvesting process for future benefit, Blink finds this bag fascinating and repeatedly erupts with a school-boy snigger.  His surreal pocket of existence spirals in on a hysterical juncture.  The bag faintly resembles one leg of a voluminous undergarment.  This is enough.

Venom is blissfully oblivious to Blink’s paroxysms, in her contented, primeval bubble of gathering food.  In fact his eventual question shatters a meditative, cerebral silence.
“What does the fungus live on?  I mean: it’s bare rock.”
“It’s a physical substrate and nutrients.  It’s quite porous and the fungal hyphae penetrate it quite happily.  The ants discourage any competitors…  Apart from me; they don’t seem to mind me filching the excess.”
“Where are the ants?”
“I persuaded them to divert their attention to another cavern,” she answers, carefully.
“Pheromone misdirection.”
“How long have you been at this?!”
“It’s basic biology!”
“It’s not!”
“Okay, I’ve indulged my harbinging for a while now,” she admits, her amusing bag filled.  Is this enough for…  Never mind.
“Ah-ha,” he understates.
“Ready for another encounter with water?”  She jeers.  He’s startled and wary.  Her turn to chuckle.  “For drinking,” she finishes magnanimously, as if that will allay any of his rampant fears.

“Fuck you and your pismires’ parlour,” Blink spits.  Venom’s eyebrow rises.  “You left me in this totally unknown, dark, dangerous hole!”  She listens to his fizzling rant then clamps him quietly.
“You were never in any serious danger.  Don’t you think I fell into all those traps when I was exploring?  I didn’t know what I’d find and I didn’t have anyone with me.”
“I didn’t know either!”  He shrieks back.
“At least you had me.”
He squawks in falsetto.

The well machinery is agricultural and polished with wear, but impressively robust and smooth-running.  It’s installed near the end of a short cul-de-sac tunnel.  Venom goes ahead and uses the handy turning circle at the end to reorient her arse.  She pulls up to face Blink across the winch.
“Hold this,” she instructs him, extracting a plastic pouch from a wormhole in her clothing. 
“Traitor,” he snipes, well wide of any meaningful target.
“I haven’t completely eschewed civilised society.  It has a thousand years’ life so I may as well use it.”  She attaches an identical pouch to a hook suspended on the pulley and winds it down with a pleasant, rolling grind.  Despite himself, he peers into the hole, imagining pure water lapping up.  He gets two ropes vanishing into thirsty blackness.

“How long?!”  He recapitulates.
“I didn’t install this, obviously,” she patronises him.
“It’s… clean?”
“As far as I can determine.”
“Which is?”  He notices he’s lost sentences.  Must be dehydration.  Or the onionoid spinster.  And fabricating words.
“It’s good in terms of not having many bacteria or particulates, or radiation.”
“Where does it come from?”
“I don’t know; I think it’s isolated from the groundwater reservoir because it’s not contaminated, but then ag—“
“—How do you check?”  His slow, suspicious words lag the conversation.
“—ain the land filtration process could be enough to decontaminate surface water,” she continues pedantically before replying, “I have some kit.”
Her methodical winding bears a full pouch, on the other rope.

Blink stares eerily with a shiver, as if the liquid life-force demands awe and worship, which it does.  Venom tries to reconcile critical analysis with fundamental human empathy.
“I notice the intellectual complexity of your questions is diminishing: you’re getting cold.”
“Yes.  You haven’t asked about the temperature.”
Not a flicker of animation in his glaiket countenance.
“Home for breakfast,” she pronounces, verging worryingly on brisk war-effort perkiness.
He’s glad the darkness hides his sudden despairing tears at this prospect.

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