Digital Ischemia



Filed under: Jalopy — Teepwriter @ 16:43

You thrust a fistful of grubby, glinty cinder dust on the bench. The evidence clatters, scatters.

“This is yours.” Where’s the rush of relief, the release of withholding?
“Aye,” Nicol expires, in his usual, barely interested fashion. He draws his attention back to you with fierce concentration. “I needed more, do you see? For this.” He gestures the surrounding explosion of components arrested by the cave.

Why is he guilty? Side-swiped again, you hurtle down cognitive cul-de-sacs. Only one remains:
“You sent Laz to buy it from me.”

As usual Nicol makes a grinding gear drop to match your sputtering spark. He never uses his information advantage.
“I needed you to lead me to it.”
The belated impact takes your head back a full four inches.
“This is your catalyst?”

A nexus of gnats swirl on an eddy of air, their tiny wings flipping between dark and pale grey as they wheel through a shaft of sun. For brief time there you had a value.



Filed under: Jalopy — Teepwriter @ 08:47

An exquisite anticlimax. Inertial ground rock set into a swooping sensory illusion as your receptors adjust back down.

“By all means supersede Einstein, but you can’t create energy.” Your narkiness arises from a niggling imminent cognition around conversations had. Nicol’s gaze seems patronisingly fond.
“I don’t need to. There’s plenty. Wasting. I just need to harness it.”

Laz’s cocky rejoinder fires joyously, looping around your skull. “Surely your man of the moor, MacHauch…”
Nicol MacHauch. How did you miss that? Grievous error. Bad news. Each pass at the name stirs your nausea.

Your lethargic mind shudders to deliver another gem: the mineral. Your finger, tapping on the fascia, soothes, aligns your gathering cognition.

“What are you thinking?” You barely notice how unusual it is for him to ask.
“By… any… chance… when you inherited the land…”
Nicol goads your inferior intellect toward his impending doom with resignation.
“…did you also acquire a title?” Your gratification at the cunning deduction suddenly dissolves to fear as you express it, with no easy explanation.

Nicol Mor MacHauch is frighteningly motionless. He stares at you with what could be despair, disappointment, horror, or just absent-mindedness. He snaps his head to face the moor and jolts into his dominant mental routine, away.

Your cranium strains to contain the explosion of implications: could he know you lift the mineral grit from his moor? How far did those cursed, bar-sodden bastards set you up? They all call him Mor. ‘Big’. Not even an original substitution for that impossible articulation of letters.

The plaid fan of a sparrowhawk’s tail glides over a fence. It must have held motionless this whole time.



Filed under: Jalopy — Teepwriter @ 16:03

Between descending layers and greys of cloud and drab, half-lit land, a sharp strip of monochrome hills detail.  Just the two of us between the land and sky, again.

A few questions remain.
“For a start, how did you get all that kit into a cave with a three feet wide opening, five miles into nowhere?”  You wonder if your petulance is endearing.
“Same way I got the car out.”  Nicol doesn’t mean to be smug; he just isn’t naturally open.

“Why here?”
“My uncle didn’t like me.”  Nicol is not one bit self-sorry.  “His final attempt to mould me into something worthwhile was to leave me his land.”  He gazes over the moor with brimming love and not a shred of ownership.  “I may make something useful yet.”

“Why?”  Your word doesn’t come close to encapsulating your wonder about the creative imperative.
“Being disconnected from nature, I can’t rest; it makes me so uneasy.  Everyone seems in a haze of denial.”

“I would think you could start the leverage with the price of petrol.”
“Indeed, and then the health impacts, and the wasted time, and eventually maybe they’ll realised we’re polluting our home.”

“We’re animals shitting in our food.”  Clearly you haven’t cracked the art of metaphor.  Nicol smirks at you, still processing at a deeper level.
“Aye and we know so much better.  Think what we could do if we just raise up our heads.”

More than he’s said in twelve months.  You propel your eyes to each landscape feature in turn, grasping for continuance.
“What did you do before your uncle died?”
Nicol nods to the sky and smirks.  “You’re the first to ask.”
You nod slowly, so carefully reeling in the answer.
“Everyone else knows already,” he finishes.

Your expulsion of an impatient, irritated lungful is audible.



Filed under: Jalopy — Teepwriter @ 10:57

Mist and vast diamonds of smoky blue cloud, sharply edged with seams of pure, pale sky, transform the familiar hillscape.  The glen mutates into some other; more imposing, more threatening.

Having your expectations utterly undermined is a welcome mindfuck.  At last you’re lost in the moment.

“I can’t control my thoughts!” you blurted.
“You control your body; the sensors do the rest.”  Did he mean sensors of tiny twitches or pressures across your skin?  You’re not sure you have control of those either.
“You don’t need to lean quite so far into the corners,” he mocked you with half a smile.

The sky lightens, the fading cloud patterned like a fleece worn thin over the sun’s pale glow.  Green trunks carve up the lowest layer of air.

Nicol is uncomfortable here.  He’s covered every eventuality of vehicle control and rebellion, of other static and moving objects, of your psyche melting down, but still: what would happen if he crashed here, among the medieval robots, the Laird MacHauch and his precious, precious mineral?



Filed under: Jalopy — Teepwriter @ 16:34

You marvel at rippling dunes of cloud, repeating a peach to mauve progression between ribbons of pure sky.  Your eyes drift down to peaks drizzled white on their northern faces then settle on something new.

You allow a grin at a perspective you’ve only imagined.  The charcoal river, the ranked pines, the furry moors glide beneath.  Embarrassingly your head tilts unconsciously with the banking.  You notice the glass between.

Nicol pilots attentively, with slightly forced nonchalance.  Is he concerned about your opinion or the integrity of the craft?  Has accounted for the weight in your pocket?  You plead for mindfulness.

Time to summon a first question; make it a good one.
“It doesn’t feel…  I thought I’d notice… turbulence?”  Not quite.
Nicol smirks as he down-shifts the intellectual level of his reply, “I pre-sense changes in air pressure and adjust.”
“When you turn or just coming up ahead?”  Awkward but passable recovery.
“I don’t distinguish.”

Nicol isn’t deliberately evasive; his frame of reference is quite warped.

“Where do you want to go?”  Enquiring after launching you into sensory bewilderment did not elicit a sensible or helpful answer.  You think, hope, he’s decided to confine this inaugural passenger flight to local, familiar territory, soft terrain, walking distance.  You remember blotting his blood even if he doesn’t recognise the scars.

Still it is remarkable.  A frisson of giddy giggling rushes up through your viscera.  You’re beyond self-consciousness now.  You reach in awe to the floor-screen, actually wishing people could see you.



Filed under: Jalopy — Teepwriter @ 10:22

The shambolic ogre blots out the delicate, fuchsia strands of sunset as he gesticulates at the horizon. He flicks his shaggy head around to free his thoughts. You wonder why you’re not at all anxious about being persuaded to accompany your new friend across moors in twilight. Perhaps it’s just less evil than the alternative. You still have the spoils in your pocket.

Nicol’s careful passion emerges.
“Look at birds, fish, reptiles: they use heat from the ground, energy from the sun, the movement of air and water. We seem to fight gravity, air resistance, ambient temperature at every turn,” he laments. His frustration prevents him facing you.

You snap out of your reverie – it’s almost nine with still light to walk by and acceptably warm – feeling obliged to sympathise with the dissatisfied creator.
“Secret manoeuvres in darkness are in harmony with what exactly?” You sound cheekier than you intended.

“It’s a necessary stupidity, to hide from the medieval robots,” he replies impatiently.
“The same that you work for.” Again you embarrass yourself with involuntary sneering, and ineloquently.

Imperceptibly the light has faded, confounding your eyes with ominous bubbles in shades of black. Jolting, you see that what you thought was Nicol is just dark air.

You hasten toward where you believed he was. Innocent sprouts of heather, moss, grass, a whole diversity of botany you can’t give justice, especially in darkness, keep the secret. You trample about, whirling for anything to latch on to.

Predictably you trip. Soft landing, you suppose. Your knee penetrates a gorse bush; the spines retaliate. You brace for the moment your centre of gravity finds a new equilibrium. The fall always takes longer than you expect, but instead of abrupt contact you feel a twisting pull.

You drag to a halt over rough stone. An industrial orange glow picks out the giant gargoyle straightening up over you. Apparently he was the pull. He’s entirely unfazed by your arrival, even its manner, preoccupied as he is with his cyber blacksmith’s grotto.

You smirk and gather your faculties into one last snipe.
“Of course, you have your own cave.”



Filed under: Jalopy — Teepwriter @ 11:15

The unclouded sun glows inside your eyelids. Pink, orange, brown artefacts morph absorbingly. You resist your brain’s predisposition to recognise the patterns.

The front of your body warms a little too much. The intermittent breeze regulates your skin between burning and goosebumps. As each gust wanes, the sweet, dusty scent of dry grass wafts over. The seed heads tickle your face and arms. A skylark vanishes into the atmosphere, perfectly scoring the glorious moment.

Nicol skims over the moor again. You know when it’s him because the breeze is cooler.

You sit up to pay attention. You’re supposed to be sentry as well as spectator. Patches of skelped heather could be unusually vicious deer or incompetent forestry, but here they are anti-gravity trials and errors, or ‘per-force’ as Nicol has quaintly branded it.

With deference you recognise how effective the camouflage is. You imagine you detect tiny incongruities in the sky, but only because you know to look for them. You listen out for the faint hiss of shearing air and reach out for the cool breeze.

You savour the idyllic moment of advancement, banishing your pessimistic expectation. Only this driven Neanderthal would be exhilarated by launching without landing capability.



Filed under: Jalopy — Teepwriter @ 16:53

You reach another shoulder of the hill.  The next ascent rises to taunt you.  As the pale, beaten grass levels out beneath your feet, your legs cry out.  You fight your urge to press on, to conquer, to summit, allowing your pace to slow and your disappointingly mortal body to recover, just a little.

You glance around, trying to congratulate yourself for your achievement.  The pine spears and fractal, shedding oaks below to your left are unsatisfying.  Behind you the carse is foreshortened.  You don’t bother to review the golden glen to your right, knowing you will still be disappointed, knowing it will impress only from the top.

Your legs accelerate again, under duress.  You tune to a rook’s gurgle, the grasshoppers’ murmur, missing the skylarks’ warble.

The incline saps your thoughts.  Your steps barely gain ground.  You smirk at your heart thumping your ribs, your diaphragm heaving, your pulse stretching into your neck and fingers; something’s working.

You acquiesce and allow yourself another rest.  The abrupt hillside crowds half of your vision.  You turn about as if you need twenty miles of air.

A glint catches your attention; perhaps the river or a road.  Your interest fades.  It’s too cool to stand about.  Onward.

Another shoulder achieved.  Your steps lengthen; your legs remain horrified.  You hold your thoughts until you’re sure: a few steps further.  No more jeering inclines.  The cairn pierces your horizon.  You gasp with joy and exalt your legs.

You bump your toe tips against the stones, expecting a grand, magic congratulation.  Perhaps now the unimprovable view will form a fitting accolade.

The view gives up its reward: tufts of moorland ridge, spanning to the next peak, throw up a tiny, dark figure.  As soon as you focus on it, it slides behind a hummock.  Your eyes flit about, grasping for further movement, confounded without a clear direction.

The figure strides through the landscape layers.  The deceptive perspective masks whether this is someone.

A little time allows the figure to grow nearer, larger and recognisable: the burst sofa on legs himself, Nicol Mor.  If he is abroad on foot then the invention is kaput.  You regret denying yourself the enjoyment of the climb.



Filed under: Jalopy — Teepwriter @ 10:32

Initially it all looks white.  Gradually your eyes discern contrast, shades, shapes.  The carse is blurred and simplified by thick snow.  Trees are diffused, fences diminished, the rising hills more distant.

Snaking in silent stillness, the charcoal river.  Scaured inharmoniously across the foreground, a charcoal road.

Your eyes, relaxed by the suspended vista, become aware of movement: green.  Such a scintillating lime green couldn’t have escaped your attention for long.  More remarkable is that this green moves, secretly, silently across a field, leaving no trace.  It’s not that the distance tricks your eyes; there are no tracks.

You allow your eyes to draw closer to the halting vehicle.  Its door hinges open, a wild Norseman unfolds from within and rises beside it.  This figure casually leans side to side, perhaps inspecting the car or stretching.

The deliberate driver gazes across the carse, scans an arc until he faces you.  You raise an arm.  He reciprocates and re-enters the cabin.  You retract your arm, surprised that you are palpitating.

The car glides to a gateway bordering the road, awaits an approaching car then joins the carriageway leading to you.

This vehicle pulls up like any other.  You stare for any clue.  Vaguely you reach for a non-existent door-handle.  The door opens.  Nicol Mor grins from the spacious, unfamiliar interior.  Your eyes flit around, seeking anything recognisable.  A seat is a start and welcomes your confused body into moulded jelly.  The door reseals with a gentle clunk.

Nicol chuckles softly.  You focus on the stingy window strip ahead, perturbed by scenery and road passing without you sensing movement.  He turns to you, one hand ruffling his hair, the other on his thigh.  His feet are similarly unoccupied.  He glances at something in the traditional visor area, shifts a knee, drawing your eyes to the sight of the ground receding from the floor.  A split windscreen then.

Finally your voice returns, after a fashion.
“You got it working?”
“Aye,” purrs Nicol, “more than working.”

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