Digital Ischemia


Dawn / Departure

The Lassie and The Legume continued

[ Starts at ]

The Dawn

Cecilia gasps awake with the clanging realisation that Percy has left again. She grasps the window edge, hauls herself to it.

Raspberry raffia fibres unroll from the horizon. Fallen leaves become glistening chocolate and cherry. She frowns, daring liquorice twigs or jelly rabbits to join the analogy. Instead the pouring syrupy light catches the dew on the fallen leaves: billions of miniature worlds, inverted. Except for a regular alternation of patches where they’re crushed to glassy film: footprints, made by a creature six feet five inches tall, moving fast, away.

Hers was an idle question but it fractured the mood.
He was terse. “My father’s an ‘oly man.”
“A Holy man?”
“An ‘oley man.”
“A Holey man?”
“A… No… Lee man.”
“A no-lee man?!”
“A Knowly Man.”
Cecilia abandoned the quest of the homophones. Context reluctantly revealed their meaning as a sort of wise, learned, spiritual leader. In less distorted terms than Percy related it, his father had advised him that frustration with his lack of direction in life was a waste of energy. He should trust the universe: his path would be revealed. The key to unlocking this potential was to balance one’s female and male energies. Percy took this literally as implying he needed a woman so promptly rejected it wholesale as addled parental twaddle. Cecilia heartily endorsed this dispatch, the atmosphere liquified, and they both squirmed away from the bluffs buzzing at their faces.


The Departure

The hut is bolted. Cecilia is planted thirty feet away. Apparently she’s going somewhere.

Once she accepts the random fragments presented to her consciousness, life can be simpler, less challenging, lived in inconsequential bits. But of course she’s only reached layer four in her luxuriously quilted psychic fabric.

Upon her feet are serious boots crafted for serious walking, feeling terrifically snug. She baulks at the observation that they are animal-derived. “If I appreciate the… donation, perhaps that’ll reconcile…” She resolves to try to not get distractedly fretful over them. She resolves not even to try since this episode is probably about to… end…? Not yet, it seems. Upon her shoulders press great straps, this time of noble, sturdy, plant-derived fabric, suspending what is surely a fantastically neat package of appetisers, attire and accommodation.

A twitch of her finger makes her aware of paper folded around it. Nothing else about herself is noteworthy.

Time elapses. She’s still here. Direction is required. How handy to have ready prepared… a blank sheet. Nothing with which to write either. Cecilia considers willing invisible ink to appear. Thankfully she’s saved from schoolboy cryptography by a rustle: the leaves, the footprints, the path. Subconsciously she engages the walking subroutine. She’s on her way.

You noticed the initial words, didn’t you? I’m not just sprinkling these crumbs for my own nourishment. I’m keeping you, my future self, from subsiding into senility. Do try to pay attention; nobody else will.



The Lassie and The Legume continued

[ Starts at ]

The Fire

Cecilia is prone on the bed, a rich, noxious poultice slapped to each buttock. Muscle fatigue and post-traumatic intoxication makes her slur. “I could’ve used you two minutes earlier.”
Percy wrangles damp leaves, twigs and slime from a loosely woven bag. “You would’ve remembered.”
“Remembered what?”
He sighs melodramatically, perhaps at her density, perhaps at his meal prospects, or perhaps to light the stove. “You’ve forgotten the first time we met.”
“I certainly have not forgotten you dismantling yourself before imposing into my bed.”
“Not your bed and not the first. Remember the goat track?”
“That wasn’t real! It’s a painting! How do you know?”
“Most people don’t notice…”
Cecilia is sucked into recollection.

She strolls through water-coloured shafts of sunlight. The accidental avenue of trees is a perfect transformative tunnel. You leave behind houses and other human artefacts as you enter. You traverse the between-world of beech trees up a slight incline for several hundred yards. You emerge into human-less country. No buildings, no vehicles, just a rutted track meandering through copses and fields.

Two thirds of the way up the avenue Cecilia has her destination world in bright, blotchy sight. Without warning, in her dim offside, a tall figure overtakes her.
She reflexes the conventional greeting, “hello.”
He flicks his head around, surprised, gauging. She smiles wanly, feeling her energy drain into the black hole of zero social response.
He slows to her pace. “You see me?”
“Do folk usually ignore you?”
“Most people don’t notice…”
Him of course.

Like an interrupted dream, Cecilia grasps at the poignancy, the trees, the sunlight, feeling it trickle away to a disappointingly shallow illusion. He was gone the moment she thought.

Bumping back into the hut, a delicious diffusion of spice dissolves her reverie. Percy roasts his compost with an expression of hunger vanquishing disdain. She rises, murmuring appetised approval.
He agitates his clay pot with dubiety. “I’d almost rather eat your unguent. What do you usually eat?”
“I don’t remember. I must get stews and pies at work. Yes, that’s it.”
His face collapses in despairing envy.



The Lassie and The Legume continued

[ Starts at ]

The Air

Cecilia scrambles up the heat-shimmering, dusty grass to the next moorland rise, with the energising promise of another, yet more staggering, vista.

Too late for staggering, the panorama explodes into sight. Not only horizontally but vertically: end of foothold reached, teetered, passed. There’s nothing to resist her forward momentum; she can only pivot vaguely backward as her feet slide onward and over, bringing her to the edge of the world, cantilevering on her arse.

After the instinctual self-preservation anxiety, she seizes the inevitable, “if I plummet to my death, what a tremendous blast! If not, saved by moonwalking my arse-cheeks.”

Once her gluteals are thus exhausted and the immediate threat diminished, she remains supine, calm and still. She resolves that the sky is moving and not her.

Percy comments, “the wind’s changed direction: I saw those clouds last week.” He joins her, naturally. Cecilia’s statutory anxiety melts away to nauseating calm and contentment. She overrides her joy with doubt for his premise. “The same, exact clouds?”
“Yep: the tricycle, the kid on the trampoline and the flailing teddy bears.”
“All childhood-related…”
“Does that mean something? They also all begin with T.”
“So they do… I wonder why you see the same objects.”
“Because they’re here again.”
She feels the dialogue circling interminably. “Clouds condense, evolve, dissipate…”
“Don’t they?”
“No, they move about, as they are.”
“How does it rain?”
“It never rains.”
She echoes, “it never rains,” while inwardly her mind whoops, “ah-haha!” Her celebration is cut short by self-consciousness. “Are you sniffing me?!”
“You don’t smell.”
“You had this lovely natural smell last time.”
“Bed grease? Delightful.” But there’s a suspicious intimacy.

Apricot wisps of sunset hand over to a toenail slice of moon. Hooves tattoo the turf, warming the bodies that drive them. Wings flit about the colour-draining canopy, yawing and cawing. The crisp cacophony of colour underfoot softens and begins to rot. Percy notes that he hasn’t quite cracked spring.

Cecilia and Percy amble home in companionable quiet. She revels in the new feeling of knowing home and the familiar route. For one perfect moment, unknowingly, they share the complementary halves of a rapport. Then it’s gone. He feels a twist of emptiness. It’s his stomach. Frogs and bats and crows better scurry.

Just to be clear, that allusion is his, to Leland Palmer.


Water / Metal

The Lassie and The Legume continued

[ Starts at ]

The Water

Cecilia’s elbows are moist and matted with crushed vegetation. She uses them as picks to gain purchase on the tilting earth and inch forward, upward. She is prone, maximising her surface friction to avoid sliding back, down. Her up-thrust hands doggedly balance a hollowed half branch which is filling with muddy splashes like an elongated gravy boat. She could be, should be appeasing a deity, but it’s an ominously empty propitiation.

She feels sure the gravy vessel had important significance earlier. Whatever she was doing when the ground began to tilt so alarmingly has also escaped her mental confines. Most puzzling of all: water bursting from the earth in millions of miniature muddy geysers.

An instant crystallises the explanation: without evaporation and rain to complete the hydrological cycle, water has to be moved physically, as a liquid. Geology speeds up; tectonic plates slide, tilt, crumple and snap. Like orange peel, bending the earth’s crust concavely squeezes out pores of liquid. Lovely.

That only leaves the mud bath to be explained. Oh, and her deep conviction about the hydrogeology malfunction.

The Metal

Cecilia writhes in the hut’s maggoty bed-froth, trying to rise out of it even a little; things have warmed up significantly and she resents her tendency to become revoltingly moist whilst doing absolutely nothing.

It’s sleepy time and she is, as always, more widely awake than a tree trunk-boring grub millimetres from a hammering woodpecker wearing a miner’s helmet with a floodlight.

She’s wrong, of course: she hasn’t been conscious every night. How did he get into the hut without her hearing in the second place? How did he have the nerve in the third place to violate her private boudoir? And in first place: how did he come to have such finely machined metal limbs in a world composed entirely of wood and stone and not even basic rain?

Cecilia squirms violently. Not a single unit of insulation escapes. She flushes. Beneath her frustration and perspiration a third layer of irritation enters her awareness: jaggy ball bearings are poised at every exposed nerve in her back.

You see that Cecilia has reverted to living disjointed scenes and not sleeping, don’t you?
I most certainly am putting that in. Idiot readers.

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