Digital Ischemia

29/01/2014

The Train Not Taken

Filed under: Flash — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — Teepwriter @ 10:45

The feathered pines and fractal, empty broad-leaves passing the train window abruptly lurch away. Land opens, then concrete. There have been other breaks in the afforestation for houses or roads but not this time. This is it. Any moment now. There it is: the glossy firth peeling away from the metal framework holding you and the train from gravity.

The train’s signature snaps into a clunk-clunk, clunk-clunk, reminding you of sections of rail deliberately loosely fitted for flexibility. The firth sparkles but you can’t see the engineering.

In a few more clunks this bridge will be over and the train will halt at the station at the top of the harbour. Is it early? No. Unlikely to get the upper hand with that someone who will have been waiting 20 minutes already.

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26/01/2014

Residence / Second

The Lassie and The Legume continued

[ Starts at https://digitalischemia.wordpress.com/2013/10/13/interview-hut/ ]

The Residence

Percy promenades Cecilia up and down the ramp roof, refreshing her blotches with gusts of mist. After thirty-two circuits she feels sufficiently sensible in herself and sensible of her surroundings to enquire.
“I don’t mean to be derisory, but how is this a castle?”
“It has a moat?”
“That’s not even a drainage ditch; it’s barely a rut.”
“Turrets?”
“Where?!”
“Basement.”
“How can a turret be underground?!”
“Der-is-or-y.”
“Sorry. I see you abhor ostentation.”
“Spot on. Would you like a tour?”
“Very much. I’m a sucker for folly.”

The extensive, splendid below-decks unfold into sweeping halls, revolving staircases, and convoluted chambers, adhering only slightly to spatial conventions. But the pineapple under the cake is the inclusion of – a girl’s dream – secret passageways to dainty turrets with instanding subterranean views, as Rich would say. It’s a whirl. Cecilia is in raptures. Percy is rather chuffed.

The Second

Rich on the other hand is redundant. He barely moves.
After an interval spent alone in darkness in the floral wardrobe, alternately pinching herself and succumbing to frissons, Cecilia emerges to find Percy trying to rouse him.
“Whatcha doing?”
“Assessing whether Rich is trustworthy.”
“Ha. Of course he’s not trustworthy, but that’s not the point.”
Rich is quietly bewildered between umbrage and triumph.
Percy tries not to accept Cecilia’s assertion. “Well, what is… he?”
“Have you been adjusting your legs again?”

Rich foolishly steps on to the escalator. “You seem… taller.”
“I am.” Percy indulges a mischievous thrill. “How much do you think I weigh?”
“180 pounds.”
Percy wiggles his head.
“200 pounds.”
“No, less, fewer.”
“170 pounds”
“No.”
Rich appeals to Cecilia, “help me in here!”
Why’s he speaking like that now? He’s not being Percy. Perhaps the idiotsyncrasies are stress-induced.
She obliges, “it’s a trick question.”
“Oh, right, right. Decause we’re higher down here, we’re further from the diameter of the nearth, so it’s less…”
Cecilia splutters incontinently. Percy appears to have lost interest in his question. Rich appeals again to her.
Cryptically she ventures, “the trick isn’t in what he means by ‘weigh’, it’s in what he means by ‘I’.”
“Relaborate.”
“He’s a walking illusion, literally.”
All three await one another with huge forbearance. Finally Percy lifts his leg to prop it on a handy – well, footy – ledge and slowly, precisely draws up his trouser leg. From the first glimpse of silky smooth titanium, Rich is riveted. Gradually Percy’s cyborg limb is revealed. He halts his striptease at the knee.
Rich bursts, “how much of you is probot?”

Cecilia offers Rich a foothold, “Percy has artificial legs. They’re adjustable. When he feels threatened he jacks himself up a couple of inches.”
Percy adds, “also for mountain sports.”
Astonishingly Rich figures the implication, “you feel threatened by me?”
Cecilia emits an effeminate giggle.
Percy double-bluffs, “in what arena?!”
Rich glows.

19/01/2014

Reunion

The Lassie and The Legume continued

[ Starts at https://digitalischemia.wordpress.com/2013/10/13/interview-hut/ ]

The Reunion

Cecilia croaks, “good morning, rat, I mean drat, it’s afternoon.”
Percy’s face remains blank, probably due to being backlit. If he has an expression, perhaps of delighted reacquaintance, it’s lost to those with conventional eyebulbs.

At the bookcase, Percy’s father leans well in to his satire, “‘here’s an ambiguous statement,’ said a character whom you thought excluded from the conversation, with emphasis on ‘ambiguous’, after returning from a short trip through the loch.” He waggles his eyebrows to embroider the nonsense.
Percy rises masterfully, as one who has met, suffered and conquered this genre long since, “you have to reread the speech twice – in the right character and with the right emphasis – then adjust the implication according to the time delay.”
His father acquiesces gracelessly, “a dreadful bore,” indicating his son with a grimy thumbnail.
His mother produces the jarring non-sequiteur, “who goes out to harvest spring,” effectively garnishing the gibberish.

Having endured the circumloquacious elucidation that Percy arrived during the night, Cecilia flees to her quarters at the earliest opportunity. Implications! Soporific synchronicity! There’s only one course of action: she must flounce away. Where’s her suitcase? The door taps. She didn’t bring a suitcase! The chimney taps. What can she drag to make her point? The wardrobe taps. She yanks its door.
“What?!”
Percy hands out a pink floral handkerchief and a sturdy stick.
“Ready when you are.”
She experiences a tsunami of rage, despair and hilarity. Tears cubed. Tantrum unleashed.
He lifts a quilted cover (floral) from the bed, advances on her, raising it as a containment shield to her flailing fit. He strategically engulfs, compresses her, like a cranefly within a handkerchief.

After considerable tedious self-indulgence, Cecilia’s shudders abate. Percy mis-gauges an advantage for interrogation. “How did you get here?”
“Wading through your dregs.”
“Augh.”
“Indeed.”
He meets her eyes with apprehension. “How much do you know?”
“I know three women who believe three different things about your leg-ends.”
“Ha.” But he appears relieved. Disappointing. What has she missed?
“You didn’t give anything of yourself to them. What did you keep from me?”
“Nothing.”
While she consolidates the full weight of that, “where’ve you been?”
“Mooching.”
“Because I upset…”
“My hut.”
“And why did you come here?”
“Raining.”
“Because I upset…”
“My clouds.”
Somewhere, deep, deep under the facial glue of brine and mucous, a lip corner curves. “Well then, I don’t care a button how your legs ended, so long as your head’s firmly attached.”
He smiles.
Still she packs away the empty cell with the flag ‘triple bint intrigue’.

12/01/2014

Mattress / Nights

The Lassie and The Legume continued

[ Starts at https://digitalischemia.wordpress.com/2013/10/13/interview-hut/ ]

The Mattress

Percy’s mother leads Cecilia down a narrow corridor. Actually down: they’re descending. How exciting: the wedge really is a complete cuboid, tilted and partly submerged. Just as Cecilia regrets not counting the doors they’ve passed and the turns along the maze, they swing into a depth perception-boggling floral fantasia. A bed, a fireplace, a wardrobe and some indeterminate lumps, all expertly camouflaged with a kaleidoscope of petals, sepals and bepollened fancies.

None of it edible. Still hungry. Emaciation sirens going off unhelpfully, squandering carefully rationed energy. Hunger Monster on rampage.

Percy’s mother twitters, “my son’s awfully athletic, you know.”
Cecilia has a final flicker of inference as she keels on to the many-layered mattress: they’re not vetting me; they’re trying to sell him to me. Why?

Look at that: we’ve arrived at the bed thing. Shall we just get it over with? Deep breath.

The Nights

The knocking comes again, knocking, knocking on the floor. It fades into a rushing, flushing water with a roar. The tapping steals her mind, slapping, tapping at her core. A creaking starts a new, freaking, creaking corridor.

If we are to believe Cecilia and her fallible recollection, she sleeps not a sigh. In the cold dark of night, the whirlpool in her mind forms an erosive vortex with the silt of overcooked thoughts.

In the hot light of day, however, the version she recounts to her hosts the following morning is considerably subdued: the events of the night include two sets of footsteps (theirs, going by their guilty countenances) patrolling the house, a perpetually filling cistern (their son is also a plumbing marvel; again Rich dolefully denies any comparable talent), and some lunar-tropic rhubarb straining (Rich becomes agitated at this, possibly as an aftershock of the rain).

Perhaps it’s her chronic undernourishment, a suppressed preoccupation with a certain acquaintance, or just being in a strange bed in a strange place with strange people. In any case, strangely, during her second night, whilst systematically counting the individual blooms on the furnishings (834 from wardrobe to fireplace), Cecilia falls asleep.

The following day she stumbles late, dishevelled, disoriented into the front room. Four people greet her. Four. Error. Rich, Percy’s mother, Percy’s father and, before the house’s only conventional window, a silhouette with a scarecrow hairdo about six feet four inches high.

05/01/2014

Parents / Tea

The Lassie and The Legume continued

[ Starts at https://digitalischemia.wordpress.com/2013/10/13/interview-hut/ ]

The Parents

Those of you expecting a monstrous mansion or fairytale castle should switch to self-delusion now. The edifice that greets Cecilia through sopping vegetation is half a bungalow; not a lower or front or left half, but a diagonal wedge. It starts well with a conventional front elevation: a window and door among some well-ordered bricks, then tapers away via a bird box to a patio. Out leap bedewed parents.

Percy’s mother has hair like white feathers, in pinched tufts, each pointing back at thirty degrees to that piece of scalp, like a sequenced illustration of centripetal force on orbiting objects. She’s cloaked in a mosaic of sequin shards, a full field migraine teichopsia. And to finish the caricature, her speech is curiously gulping.

Percy’s father is a tweed cape mounted on plus-fours and dark orange, friction-polished, leather gaiters. The cape flaps, agitated by an arm that’s propped like a little teapot–

Before the description is complete, the topmost tweedy weavings part, revealing themselves to be camouflaged facial hair. Thus Percy’s father shouts, “chicken!”
Cecilia darts a bewildered glance at Percy’s mother.
Rich explains, “my uninterest in his conversation dequates to coward.”
Cecilia is distracted but relieved.
Percy’s mother calms her husband, “very robust of you, dear.”

Rich bolts for the door, muttering, “tea times.”
Percy’s mother grinds a gear change and quivers her head. “Yes, let’s go in.” She pirouettes, slips into the house, drawing her followers with funnelled hands. Her husband extends his spout arm, directing Cecilia to the doorway.
Cecilia forces demure, intrepid footsteps around a wary radius of tweedy whiskers.

The Tea

Cecilia adjusts her posture on a remarkably uncomfortably upholstered chair, printed with realistic roses, and suffering a peculiar tilt. A pin of varying location jabs her buttock again. She covers her wince with a sip of hot pond from an elaborate thimble. As if cooling the brew, she tactfully blows a dainty leaf to the far shore of the cup. Where are the biscuits?

Percy’s father, who remains formally unintroduced, froths a few suspicious crumbs.
“Books?”
Cecilia welcomes this, “oh, thank you,” before her neurobots highlight that she hasn’t been offered anything, and certainly not biscuits. Luckily, unsurprisingly, no-one’s even faintly attentive to her response, let alone her imminent hypoglycaemic collapse.
Percy’s father tweedily gestures an impenetrable rotary shelving arrangement. “My son’s read them all. Very well read, him. And them!” He hoots at his own hilarity. His wife titters perfunctorily.
Cecilia glances a query at Rich. He vigorously shakes his head. A faint cloud of moisture is released. Her craving for any morsel, even the crumbs in those tweedy whiskers, causes a malevolent decision to create a distraction.
“Perhaps he’d read something out?”
Rich has palpitations. Fortunately both parents forget the deception, showing only puzzlement at the suggestion. Percy’s father cranks his jaw, trying to get traction on some language befitting his son’s eloquence. Rust sets in.
Percy’s mother jolts into animation. “Time for tea!”
Cecilia takes her turn at bafflement, in a limp way due to lapsing into a starvation coma.

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