Digital Ischemia


Wratislaw part 1 of 10

A drily hyperbolic, humorous short story – a pianist with a passion for Janáček’s music finds the composer’s unrequited infatuation is part of the bargain

piano keys spotlit

Wratislaw strides along the corridor to the control room in confidence and bliss. He feels completely ready for his forthcoming performance. He has no doubt the feeling is authentic.

He’s about 180cm tall with white hair on the top over dark sides, a head chiselled from stone, and the shoulders of a kite. His face is the intellectual, emotional counterpoint to this with considerably more expressive versatility than the usual boulder. Most noticeable of all are his blue eyes, focusing eons of Baltic cold from beneath heavy brows. You may recognise him, recognise his talent. You would know him by a different name. In any case, Wratislaw is not his real name.

To ice Wratislaw’s cake, the BBC has sent one of its more insightful, less hyperventilated presenters to interview him. He will not have to wade through banalities about Beethoven’s incipient deafness, or about Martinu’s exile. He will not have to resist the urge to throw icy water over orgasmic hyperbolae about pianistic virtuosity. A question about folk melodic origins will gain half a point. Anything about the ganzfeld of the etudes will get a full mark, even if it is lifted from his own sleeve notes. However, something is awry.

The control room is in darkness. Unusual in a building that seems to measure the value of its existence to the nation in gigawatts. He swipes ineffectually at the wall by the door. Instead of light, a voice rushes at him.
“What do you hope to see, exactly?”
“Oh, I’m so sorry. I—” Someone is already in the room. Something else is awry. Very awry. He swivels about, searching for—
The voice cuts in. “Are you? – Sorry?”
He forces a single syllable from his maelstrom mind. “You!”

Wratislaw lunges at where the voice seems to originate. Suddenly the dark resolves itself into an impossible assembly of 3D geometry. Grey surfaces shimmer at him then dissolve – spectres reflecting the dim puddle of light from the corridor. He makes a few more cautious wafts before anxiety about his precious hands wins. He emits a grunt of exasperation. The voice of his unsatisfied desire tantalises him again from elsewhere.
“Are you trying to dance with me?”
“Where are you?”
“Do you want to see me?”
“Don’t be irrational, Wrati. You have an interview, a soundcheck, a sanitised meal, a wardrobe change then a performance.”
He barely notices the second sentence; the way she said his name, the name she had given him, then, there. He has to grasp something tangible.
“Tonight; ten-thirty.”
“You don’t sleep?”
“Now you’re being irrational, Kamila. How could I sleep with you…here?”
“Remembering my name is a good start. Ten-thirty at the Gardens.”

The last statement comes from the doorway, right behind him. He snaps his head around and glimpses her silhouette before it slides from sight. Ten-thirty in the Gardens. Is that agreed? Which Gardens?!

As his head sparks and buzzes disturbingly, BBC Ben lopes in with a glowing orb and two network cables: one orange, one blue. Fittingly unfathomable.
“Two hours to broadcast and we’re dismantling the wiring.” His unperturbed air is an unnecessary contrast.
Wratislaw returns partially to the present and Ben with his giant glow-worm.
“I thought I’d wandered into some awful joke about how many pianists it takes to change a lightbulb.”

…continues at part 2


  1. […] Wratislaw part 1 of 10 […]

    Pingback by Page not found | Digital Ischemia — 13/08/2018 @ 10:38

  2. […] Wratislaw series begins at part 1 […]

    Pingback by Wratislaw part 3 of 10 | Digital Ischemia — 14/08/2018 @ 16:16

  3. […] Wratislaw series begins at part 1 […]

    Pingback by Wratislaw part 4 of 10 | Digital Ischemia — 15/08/2018 @ 17:11

  4. […] Wratislaw series begins at part 1 […]

    Pingback by Wratislaw part 5 of 10 | Digital Ischemia — 16/08/2018 @ 16:44

  5. […] Wratislaw series begins at part 1 […]

    Pingback by Wratislaw part 6 of 10 | Digital Ischemia — 17/08/2018 @ 16:31

  6. […] Wratislaw series begins at part 1 […]

    Pingback by Wratislaw part 7 of 10 | Digital Ischemia — 18/08/2018 @ 16:08

  7. […] Wratislaw series begins at part 1 […]

    Pingback by Wratislaw part 8 of 10 | Digital Ischemia — 19/08/2018 @ 16:33

  8. […] Wratislaw series begins at part 1 […]

    Pingback by Wratislaw part 9 of 10 | Digital Ischemia — 20/08/2018 @ 16:48

  9. […] Wratislaw series begins at part 1 […]

    Pingback by Wratislaw part 10 of 10 | Digital Ischemia — 21/08/2018 @ 17:08

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

If you spot a typo, I shall gnaw off an unworthy phalange.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Create a free website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: