Digital Ischemia

27/07/2019

Neohaguich 6/11

Neohaguich series starts at part 1/11

Still the wailing and the howling and now a creaking.  In the dark you hear more, feel more.  Feel more paralysed until the world is ready to move you.  Until the walls are ready to move.

Calluna gasps, “the walls!”  Then she realises the utter stupidity.  Two broken people of dubious life status attempting to hold up a cottage.  The Stranger continues to hold her up.

Calluna squeaks, “can we get out?”

No reply, nothing audible beyond the wind and the avalanche of masonry.  The air shudders.  Everything is suffocatingly close.  Massive things moving far too close.

The storm passes, leaving Calluna with the tedious metaphor.  The dust, metaphorical and literal, settles.  All is flat, blank, ruined and ready to restart.  Quiet.  The Stranger remains somewhat present and thoroughly attentive.  He continues the conversation from where they left off, as if he has blinked and missed the apocalypse.

“Could you entertain the possibility that the sound was merely compressed?  A lower quality rendition that distorted the extremes – the highs, the lows, loud, quiet?”

“Not unearthly, then.”

“Only in the sense of being virtual.”

“You caught a speaker cable with your toe on the way past?”

“Garrotted.”

“Hence the graceless plunge.”

The revelation and its careful cognitive analysis and integration is interrupted by a small, muffled explosion.  One last puff of dust beckons them to some broken timbers, covering curiously, cleverly arranged cardboard, covering the fridge—still unplugged; nothing to plug in to.  The door dangles slightly open, having allowed the shockwave to rumble past Calluna and the Stranger.  They peer in.

Several smoking, all-over-mascara’d hechlers clamber over their carbonised compatriots, quivering.

“Over-heated,” supplies the Stranger.

“Dust doesn’t spontaneously combust.  They were up to something.”

“Trying to accelerate the defrost?”

“Or a diversion tactic.”

Calluna delicately prods a scorched hechler.  It crumbles to dust.  Dust to.  She is horrified to feel concern, dismay, regret; one of those troublesome achey sensations.

“I should check on Jardine and—”

“Attend to your social care remit?”

Curse him.  “I don’t care about social care.  Yes, write that down: there’s your quote.  I care about nature.  All of it.  I don’t have any spare care.  If I care about any more stuff, I’ll have anxiety attacks and stop being any use at all.  Other people care specifically about people and they do it well.”

“Some might say we are part of nature.”

“Some should say it to my face.  I’ll show them a part of my nature.”

“Who should I quote you to?”

“Put it on your carvings, distribute them to the frosted frumps.”

“Does that include you?”

Calluna twists to retort spitefully but is arrested by a stabbing pain in her side.  Reflexively she presses into her startled flesh and meets a hard shape.  Something she didn’t have, hadn’t pocketed, must have been given, surreptitiously.  A key.

The key is in Calluna’s hand, feeling, turning, examining, before she thinks about its duodenal provenance.  Too late for tentative fingertips.  It is tarnished but not digested.  Meanwhile the Stranger wrenches open the freezer and exposes a wooden box emerging from the dripping iceberg.  A great thawing.  The revelation and release of myriad unknown threats from the Past.  Terrifying.

A wooden box: the letter box?  Calluna unlocks it expecting an archive of soggy epistles impregnated with anthrax or smallpox or typhoid.  Not so.  It is neatly filled with small kids’ wooden blocks, coloured letters painted on each face beneath a layer of frost.  A wooden box of wooden blocks.  She finds she knows that how they fall gives advice.

The Stranger sweeps the kitchen counter with his forearm, catastrophically erasing eons of dust geology.  Calluna’s ‘care’ purview stops short of geology.  She upends the box and delights in the creak and clatter of scattering iced cubes.

She knows what she will see; she just has to find the route through the lettered blocks that spells it: ‘at springs creek’.  However, naturally, Aunty Gail’s clairvoyant cubes aren’t that amenable.  Instead, every permutation passes tenaciously through ‘stranger’, helpfully also providing ‘sick’.  Notwithstanding occult interference, that’s not advice in either case.  What’s it supposed to mean?  She abandons the Stranger and his fascinated stackings.

continues at part 7

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26/07/2019

Neohaguich 5/11

Neohaguich series starts at part 1/11

Calluna notices the cottage’s name plate for the first time: peeling strands of varnish, faded stripes of wood underneath.  Simple, functional lettering cut then picked out in black gloss, dusty but sound: Windrift.  As she falters, mentally rearranging and interpolating the letters—win drift, wind rift, wind drift, twin fridge, Winifred…—the first tiny flakes float down.

The whirling wind is oddly quiet.  Vortices of lifted white dust swoop silently around all the land features, then still again, giving the flakes the temporary respite of falling vertically.  Drifts accumulate in corners.  Exposed surfaces are blown smooth.  The intermittent drama entices her through the window to join it, in its variations on the theme of grey.

The scene is grey because there are no lights, no yellow fires.  Everyone has gone.  Why?  Calluna feels a pulse of anxiety.  Rational thought swiftly follows: she’s not relying on them; if anything, she actually feels it a burden, sorting out their various retrograde habits.

Seemingly, Gail has taken her intestinal letter box key and Damon in his lasagne blankets and set up a retirement home in the shed.  Now Calluna can see purple smoke curling into the grey.  Good for Gail.

Señora has detached her pantry from the cottage and dragged it away to the far side of the field.  Now Calluna can see those vibrant curtains even through a blizzard.  Good for Señora.

The hechlers have retreated into the fridge’s fruit drawer and papered themselves in.  Probably traumatised by two unexpected launches in one day.  Good for them.  Sort of.

Calluna wonders where Alf is bedding down.  A shuddersome prospect.  Farmer Udderfiddle needs no concern as he’s quite self-sufficient.  Probably making a deep arse-cheek imprint on Penitence Moor because he likes to show he’s hardy.  Jardine…  Drat.  He may need to be chipped out in the morning.  Perhaps a spell of cryogenics will do him good.  A desperate grasp.

And the Stranger…  He’s not here, and she doesn’t need him, but would she enjoy his company if he was?  Academic.  He’s not here because he can’t be here.  Not possible.  Just a ghost.  A perceptual artefact to be sorted, ironed out, normalised, like everything else.  On the list.  The tang of brambles…  Wrong time of year.  Utterly.

Calluna’s thoughts drift and swirl and settle behind the window.  Here is a triangle of women.  How synchronicitous.  There must be a challenge to be faced.  Always something.  Always that one thing.  That thing she has repeatedly banished to the attic, bolted in the basement, papered over behind the mantelpiece, subsumed in the permafrost, left to fade under dust.  Why else would she be back here?  Springs Creek had boiled with blood.

“You’re afraid that the depths of the pool below Springs Creek contain a body.”  The Stranger’s soft assertion makes Calluna start, knocking a cascade of cardboard shavings into the fireplace.  Paper over the mantelpiece.

“Remnants.  How do you keep getting in here?”

“Invitation.”

Never accept the premise of his laconic expressions.  Never interpret; never obvious.  Therein lies the road to entanglement.

Again the Stranger’s voice pilfers through her cranium.  “Have you woken up yet?  Everything is metaphor.  Señora, Damon, the hechlers, even Aunty Gail.”

“And you?”

“A stray dog that you can either take in or leave to its own devices.”

“You must be tremendously pleased with this effort!  A whole landscape of smoke and mirrors and devilish devices!  OK, if I must expound the saga, here and now, rather than enjoy the sublime bit of weather…”

“Why else would this unseasonal storm arise, with your fellow gatekeepers carefully positioned?”

“Aye, I got that, thanks.”

“What did you see?”

“In the middle of an unacceptably pleasant picnic, you dived in, twisted horribly, the music went all weird, and the linn churned up blood.”

Calluna stops abruptly, horrified by a ghastly howling wind that is suddenly audible.  The wailing and her open mouth, the pain in her throat, the pain in her heart; these may be connected.  She feels a touch, a caress, an enfolding.  Curse his arms that make her weak and feeble and paralysed.  Hallucination that touches.  If he wants to absorb her howling in the dark…  Blessed darkness.

continues at part 6

25/07/2019

Neohaguich 4/11

Neohaguich series starts at part 1/11

Calluna’s politeness does not extend to acquiescence.  “No, you have come at last.”

Through the dust cloud, and the gloom, the Stranger radiates allure.  Curse him.  But his face contorts as if his programmed script has skipped a track.

“You are the new cailleach, the neohaguich.”

“Any idea why?”

He produces an unfeasibly large section of tree trunk from his pocket.  “It is written.”

“Aye, last week by the looks of it.  Bit of bored whittling?”  There goes the politeness.  In the moment while he clutches for a response, with the benefit of clearing air and adjusting eyes, she peruses his appearance.  Not bad.  Still.

Calluna realises the fleeting conversational initiative has ebbed away as he replies.

“Since you left, all my time has been whittling away.”

Clever.  But what does that mean?!  If in doubt, snipe.

Calluna retorts, “good for you.  While you’re creating dust, I have to sort spiders and midges and things that scrabble in the eaves.”

“Whatever you need.”

Was that smarm or sincere?  She grabs a chunk of card, regardless of any attached hechlers, and flaps it shooingly at him.

He calls back from the front path.  “Springs Creek will be ready when you are.”

More ambiguity!  Ready for what?  Why should he be involved?  How does he know what she named it?!

Not wishing to whittle away any time, Calluna scrambles for the spring.  She’ll be first there by ages.  He won’t expect that.  Unfortunately Droopy Alf is already dangling parts of himself in the pure water as an exercise that illogically leaves the water dirtier than he gets cleaner.  Calluna is not having this blatant disregard for the community.

“Out!  Get yourself out of there, Alf!  This is a community resource!”

Alf retracts and complains limply, “I am the community!”

Calluna takes several seconds to fashion a lame dumpling of a comeback, which is way beyond Alf anyway, “aye, you’re the ‘nit’ in the community.”

Alf looks predictably boggled.  Calluna relents.  “I need you to make boxes, containers.  Etcetera.  Out of wood.  The Stranger will show you.”

“I shouldn’t talk to strangers.”

“Alf, you’re stranger than he is.”

Alf leers nervously and lurches away.  With a melodramatic exhalation, Calluna whumps on the river bank.

The Stranger’s thrilling burr: “You should be more careful.”

Of course he would be here already, ever lurking in the shadows.  Of course Calluna scurries back to her own shadows.

“Believe me: I know.  If I could have times over again, especially times with you.”

“I’ll choose to take that… positively.  But I meant when you piss in the burn.”

“You know that’s Alf.”

“So you’re doing something else.”

“So you’re watching me.  Pervert.  Voyeur.  Stalker.”

“I don’t need to watch you.  I always know where you are.”

“Shite.  I still have something of yours?  Cursed tracking beacons.  What is it?”

“Apparently something close to your heart.”

Calluna snorts over her botherment.  “My bladder.”  Handy drinking water in his justly proud invention: birch leaf fabric, ‘bettex’.  His carefully sculpted stone neck with its perfectly fitting stopper, bound in seaweed fibre.  Watertight.  “You charmed the stone.”

“Closest I could get to you.”

Does he mean close to track her, or close to charm her?  Or that emotionally she’s closely related to stone?

Sensing sufficient impact for now, he closes.  “North-east wind: late snow.  Dig in.”  With a slight rustle he’s gone.

Calluna exhales more disbelief and discomfort.  Snow?  Three weeks past the spring equinox?

continues at part 5

24/07/2019

Neohaguich 3/11

Neohaguich series starts at part 1/11

Penitence.  How appropriate.  How timely.  Udderfiddle means the moor, named for its drippy bleakness that attracts those overwrought neurotics wishing to absolve guilt through self-flagellation.  But a stranger who once was not strange ought indeed to approach via Penitence.  But of course he can’t.  Not possible.  No more brambly picnics on the riverbank.

Completing the geographic re-familiarisation loop and returning via the afterthought shed at the village limit, Calluna hears a dodgy rustle.  Alf, the small, droopy, wrinkled, male member of the parish, will not be overlooked.  Since before even the time of mists, the parish has kept two fairs yearly, with official notices displayed to wit: some chattel and small wares are exposed for sale.  Alf finds in this announcement an endorsement to offer his small wares.  No-one has bought in fifty-eight years but he enjoys the spirit of the ritual.  And the ritual of the spirit hastily produced by some concerned citizen to keep a lid, or a coat, on things.

Calluna is suddenly in Aunty Gail’s cottage’s bedroom.  Her tour of local disinterest must have concluded.  There’s only the one bedroom, and it remains unoccupied as the other inhabitants prefer their idiosyncrasies.  She keels over on to the thin, bare mattress to think.

In contrast to the divisive gossip and individual grasping over the natural water source, Calluna recognises potential benefit and improvement for the whole community.  If the local hydrology needs a good bradawling, she will happily wield the instrument.  Conversely, if Udderfiddle’s toxic soup is counter-balanced by a natural spa, the status quo may be safer.

A snippet of wisdom from the distant past worms out of its dust: you should inhabit a place for several years before you take any notions to change it.  His wisdom.  Drat.  Him again.  Her cogitation is truncated by an ache; probably hunger.  Definitely not heart-related.  Heaving herself over the bed frame, a small inspiration strikes: we shall call it Springs Creek.

The pantry is prettily decorated with gingham curtains and brightly painted, marine-themed ornaments.  It is inhabited by the lady from Spain, who recently arrived from South America.  How she persuaded Aunty Gail to invite her to stay in anticipation of Calluna’s arrival is a mystery.  But not one worth bothering to resolve.  Señora recalls Calluna’s retirement a couple of decades earlier.  Calluna is not an octogenarian; she just feels like it sometimes.  She retired from conventional life.  But Señora, well, she seems quite moved in recollecting Calluna’s peculiar ways.  She has pinned up a series of postcards that Calluna sent from the other side of their shared office.  Such subversive humour.

Calluna retreats to the living room and perches on the wooden frame of the only unoccupied seat: its upholstery long since perished or combusted or eaten. In a rare moment of lucidity, Aunty Gail opens her eyes and stares fixedly ahead while remaining bolt upright on the sofa.  She announces to Calluna, “When I’m gone, you shall have my box of letters.”

“OK.”

“Not before.  I keep it locked.”

“OK.”

“The key is inside me.”

“For how long?”

“When I pass it, I give it a rinse then swallow it again.”

Calluna adds another item to her list of reasons to establish a separate washroom.

Gail chunters on, “as long as I’m alive, the key is in me.”

“What does that achieve exactly?”

“Only once I’m dead may you unlock my box of letters.”

“How do I get the key at that stage?”

“Since I will be dead, I won’t be reswallowing it, of course.”

“My dear Aunty Gail, if you’re dead you won’t be shitting it out either.  I won’t be going looking.  You haven’t thought this through.  I won’t be rummaging through your bowels nor cutting you open.  I’m not that sort of niece.”

“Oh, Calluna, you’re so very agricultural.  Why would you think I would die with it still inside me?  Of course I shall wait until it is out.”

“Good for you if you have that level of control.”

“Do you doubt it?  Is that not the very mantle I pass to you?”

“Of all your skills I would wish to inherit, being able to delay my death until after having one last shit wasn’t high on the list.”

Señora rattles vibrantly by and over-helpfully enlightens Calluna regarding the hechlers: “they live in the fridge.  Don’t look at me this way!  They colonise it while the power cut.  I unplug it then: I am not responsible for massacre.”

Calluna bites down on her frustration.  “They’re on my list: repatriate hechlers to loft space above wardrobe.”  After ‘ensure Jardine is safely landed’ and ‘give Alf something constructive to do with his hands.’  Mess!  Mess and filth and muddle everywhere.  Lax housekeeping.  Years of neglect.  Years of avoidance.

Calluna finally boils, leaping up and thumping a fist on the kitchen counter.  Through the abundant puffs of dust and suddenly airborne and startled hechlers, she calls out, “enough!  Enough wacky distractions.  Where are you, eh?”

She turns about.  Obvious.  She clenches her hands firmly at her sides, determined to start politely.  “Hello.”

“You have come at last.”

continues at part 4

23/07/2019

Neohaguich 2/11

Neohaguich series starts at part 1/11

Outside the air is deliciously fresh – that early spring balance of cool breeze, low but sharp sun, and a saturation of dew resisting both.

Exactly as Calluna remembers, here is the loch.  Well, it’s a large pond.  Well, it’s really a shallow, rectangular, mine tailings pool enclosed on three sides by dizzyingly tall, regimentally aligned, dark pines.  But it has a ghost.  All lakes should have a lady.  She’s a beautiful sixty foot piece of privet topiary, side-lit by golden sunset, at all times, even on cloudy days.  She glides and twirls over the surface, as if she were ice-skating, with a tremendously smug grin.  Few folk see her.  Even fewer see her consort, the giant.  Even those who do, actually don’t: they hear and feel the earth quake from his approaching footsteps—one every eight seconds or so—from one direction.  They then hear and feel his receding footsteps on the other side.  _Rational_ folk comfortably attribute this to substrata tremors triggered by the mining operations.  How dull.

This is the preserve of the farmer who has lost his cheer.  Otherwise to be found slumped in a worn-to-fit comfortable chair.  Resenting intrusion by his tenants.  Especially those offering earnest ‘advice’ on his plans to make water from the pond.  Ordinarily a pond should contain mostly water, but here the creative forces of mysterious beings and human industrial pollution have combined to produce a metallic slime that is potable only to renegade robots.  Noticeably, the farmer always refers to it as _his_ _reservoir_.  It is a resource, created simply for his use, and therefore his possession.

Calluna is most concerned that regulatory bureaucracy should be exhaustively satisfied, lest any undotted I or uncrossed T should rise up to bite Farmer Udderfiddle in his well-worn bum.  A surprising level of concern for one who generally operates beyond the bounds of societal formality.  Her concern is further ignited by observing the local pollution data officer.

Jardine is out of his depth in a shallow pond, smothered by mustard reeds and faded weeds and a surface slippery with mercury.  He resembles a scarecrow fashioned from shredded confidential memoranda.  With the staples left in.  His unhinged muttering ripples over the water.  “…Must double-check…consequences…lava foaming out everywhere…data error…monsters…”

Catching sight of Calluna, Jardine pauses his fretting to raise a limp arm.  He may be waving; he may be drowning; probably both.  She nods encouragingly.  If he’s still there on her return, she’ll fish him out.

Downstream of Udderfiddle Farm, a spring rises under the Bubbling Bridge.  Anywhere else a bridge over a spring might be considered daft.  You have the choice, of course, of bypassing the bridge by simply stepping around upstream of the spring.  Downstream the water has been found wonderfully efficacious in healing infections, lacerations, and several other external injuries, often self-inflicted by the under-occupied population.

Proper analysis allegedly conducted in the mists of time reported that a full bladder of this balm contains rather more than a quarter kilogram of salts.  Thus it is too strong for internal use, unless you have extraordinary kidney function, and your own fulsome bladder.  However, when diluted sufficiently with water—from another source, obviously, or perhaps not obviously to the renally-challenged members of the community—it might be of service in tackling the numerous diseases for which iron and the sulphate of alumina are useful.  Anaemics with hyperhydrosis are regular pilgrims.  Additionally, as an external application, it acts as a powerful astringent.  Rumour—spread with relish like cake-frosting by envious ladies of a certain age and plumptitude—suggests that Aunty Gail only keeps her puckered figure by regular application.  Worth a try.

Crossing the green, just for thoroughness of inspection, Calluna sights a distant figure standing crookedly, rocking side to side: Farmer Udderfiddle.  To the unfamiliar this can seem like he is dubiously sizing you up, or performing a threatening ritual, or physically warming up preparatory to charging.  However, Calluna recognises the action as the oscillation necessary to gain enough momentum to induce bipedal motion, something in which this farmer is unpractised.  His hips are moulded to the aforementioned worn-to-fit seat of his most-terrain vehicle.

Udderfiddle lurches toward Calluna until he reaches the satisfactory hollering proximity of twenty metres.  She waits patiently for motion to cease and allow an alternative activity to commence.  Once his oscillations have subsided, he draws breath.

“Stranger.  Last evening.  Penitence.”

Calluna nods receipt and understanding of the briefing.  She is bothered by a flush of some long unstirred emotion, although not by the farmer noticing anything: even if he could see that far he can’t read anything so subtle as emotions.

continues at part 3

22/07/2019

Neohaguich 1/11

A resourceful crone plunges into a whimsical netherworld to find a lost lover.

Calluna Withers wakes in a kitchen crowded with domestic relics.  They’re all familiar, postcards from memories, but the house is new territory.  Has she been asleep?  Or just sleep-walking through another life?  She explores this small house of many small rooms, all filled with fascinating mess: wooden boxes, cards, textiles, furnishings…

In the adjoining living room, the papery husk of Aunty Gail sits on a sofa, bolt upright, eyes closed.  Calluna finds herself speaking.

“Gail?  I’m taking over.  I’m the neohaguich.  So, you rest.  When you’re ready, I’ll be after some advice.”

That was surprisingly assertive.  So be it.

Calluna detects a stirring elsewhere in this room.  On another sofa is a lasagne of diversely coloured and textured blankets, all carefully folded to maintain perfect horizontality while precisely fitting the sofa’s contours.  With a lump in the middle.  Perfectly Princess and Pea.  She taps the lump.  Writhing ensues.  The blanket layers part a third of the way from the top.  A fleshy split resolves from the dark therein.  She addresses it.

“Hello?”

“What?”

“I’m the new hag.  Who are you?”

“Damon.”

“What a brilliantly neat job you’ve made of folding those blankets.  Well done.”

The split curves.  It may be a mouth.  Well done Gail too.  Calluna hadn’t imagined her aunt was able to summon such creatures, although clearly the banishing again afterward part has gone awry.

At the kitchenette end of the living room, Calluna peruses the beige cabinets.  Where these have been worn and torn, gashed into their chipboard, they have been reconstructed and augmented with corrugated cardboard, apparently cemented in place with paper-based paste.  Like wasp nests.  The design looks promising but the abundant dust dunes suggest slow progress.

As she quietly scans the site, a couple of cherry-sized dust balls sprout whiskers and resume shoving a matchbox with careful determination.  Hechlers.  Gail has the cottage well inhabited.  Yet none of them are the one Calluna would be interested to meet.  And he is the only person who won’t be here.  Can’t be here.  One hechler shimmers slightly and momentarily resembles a hairy bramble.  Calluna’s eyes must be watering.  Move swiftly on.

Throughout the cottage, the air has an indistinct murky mustiness.  The only openable window is in the washroom: a wibbly-glass porthole above the bath, among a proliferation of wall-mounted cupboards of assorted dimensions.  Bathing would be like playing high stakes 3D Tetris.  The window is just reachable, however it opens into another washroom, occupied by a frowning girl.  No-one likes having their personal hygiene activities or bodily functions observed.  In any case there’s no benefit to simply inter-ventilating two toilets.  Calluna firmly creaks the window back into its frame.

The stains around the sink have formed in segregated colours: red, black, and white splashes of toothpaste.  The frowning girl may have been using the meditative interval of teeth-brushing to contemplate potential inter-mildew patch wars.  Calluna remembers being a closet philosopher herself once.  If left unattended long enough would one colour dominate?  They certainly spread to inhabit every available surface, just like humans.  Calluna reaches brusquely for the genocide sponge.  She relishes the metaphor of living on a polished enamel slope, with the often-realised threats of flooding and drought, and the inevitable eventual plunge into the drain.

There is more nostalgia and delusion for Calluna to explore.

continues at part 2

21/06/2019

Parathought

Filed under: Shorts — Tags: , , , , , , — Teepwriter @ 12:00

A very short, timeless fantasy

Come and sit beside me. Look at the water. Just look at the water until it stops moving. Now we’re in what I call 5D, because I’m aware of only four other dimensions: space and time.

It feels strange not to be able to move, doesn’t it? Don’t worry about it. It makes sense if you think about it: if we’re in zero time, movement in zero time – how fast is that? It’s infinite. You’d experience a lot of friction. That’s what’s stopping you from moving. If you did have enough force to move, you would evaporate with the intense heat, so you probably don’t want to try it.

I’ve been able to do this for – who knows? But I’ve been doing it for a while. I find any physical or mental effort in too little time leads to exhaustion. So I thought: what if I could remove the time component altogether?

Thought doesn’t need any movement. Thought in this form isn’t even electrical; there isn’t any movement of subatomic particles; there isn’t a transfer of energy. It’s para-thought – beyond thought. It is an instantaneous conceptualising and communicating. How does that work? I don’t know. Even if I did, I couldn’t possibly put it into any linear language. Annoying, isn’t it?

How do I do it? It’s a kind of intensity of thought that becomes a detachment. When it’s available to me, I feel this sensation in my forehead, right in the middle. It’s like a pressure a few millimetres inside my skull. Not like something is pressing on my forehead from the outside or inside, it’s just a sensation, not something I usually feel. At first I thought it was my brain getting tired. When I feel it, I can pay attention to it, really focus on it. It becomes increasingly intense and after what seems like a few seconds, but probably is no time at all, everything stops. There is this perfect stillness and quiet.

I’ve not brought anyone with me before. I had intended not to force it on anyone else. I never say never, but, then, you made it rather difficult. You’re too observant of the little incongruities in my behaviour. And I can’t have you thinking I’m psychotic.
You’re the first person I brought. I have met some others who can do it. There’s something in their faces that I recognise. I suppose it’s the same thing that you saw in me.

As daylight stops stretching and begins shrinking, as daytime makes that imperceptible tilt from extending to contracting, at that moment of suspended change… I thought you might like a new trick to play with.

You need some time to think about it? No you don’t.

20/05/2019

Grey Eyes

Filed under: Essays — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — Teepwriter @ 10:50

There seem to be a lot of fictional characters out there with grey eyes. Are there any real people with this attribute? I have seen blue, turquoise, green, amber, brown, and intermediate shades and flecky or ringed combinations. I see these with my own mongrel eyes which appear to be teal flecked with shitey broun. But never grey.

“Her hair was dark red, but her eyes grey, and light at whiles and yet at whiles deep” William Morris, The Well at the World’s End
“The serious grey eye possessed for me a strong charm” Charlotte Brontë, The Professor
“His eyes were steely grey and very solemn” John Buchan, Mr Standfast
“A thick red beard, piercing grey eyes, a nose without nostrils, and marks of the hot iron on his forehead and on his cheeks” Aleksandr Pushkin, The Daughter of the Commandant

Does this fall into the ‘poetic licence’ category along with ‘cerulean’, ‘limpid’ and ‘rheumy’? I’m all for keeping the rich variety of language alive, but not words that never get used other than in this exclusive linguistic cul-de-sac. Is ‘grey’ an exaggeration like ‘chiseled features’? Does ‘grey’ mean something else in this context? Is there some literary quality to alluding to a genre while departing from the literal?

“Glorious was his face, and his grey eyes gleamed with wrath and mastery as he spake in a clear voice” William Morris, The Well at the World’s End
“Very low forehead, very diminutive and vindictive grey eyes, somewhat Tartar features, rather flat nose, rather high cheekbones” Charlotte Brontë, The Professor
“She is delicately fair, with fine grey eyes and dark eyelashes” Jane Austen, Lady Susan
“Unfortunately, in his dark-grey eyes there was an absence of any definite idea” Ivan Goncharev, Oblomov
“Aksynia had naïve grey eyes which rarely blinked” Anton Chekhov, In the Ravine

If I read another character description with grey eyes I may sink my teeth into the e-paper.

As I ponder this important question, I notice that the examples I have are from novels at least a hundred years old. Why am I so soaked in medium-ancient literature? Because it’s in the public domain, of course, and I’m a Gutenberg glutton, or skinflint. But there may be another key feature of the hundred year old literary world: after all, they existed in monochrome, didn’t they?

03/05/2019

Skye Bette

Filed under: Essays — Tags: , , , — Teepwriter @ 15:05

Apparently March was criminal charity month. One night, while I was not sleeping but perambulating back and forth through the upper gallery—hullo moon, hullo sunrise, hullo birds, etc.—I was also placing bets of £200 on skybetdotcom.

I wonder how, when I have to enter a string of numbers, password, pass number and especially memorable word or character combination in order to access my small pile of groats, some other person (or device) is able to request great wads of money from my account without any of these. And exceeding the balance by four times. Had I not spotted this spurious outgoing while it was still a pending transaction, my bank would have happily allowed my money and a lot more to go, well into the sub-zero realm.

I wonder which of the two purchasing transactions I had made in the previous month, which involved me revealing selected subsets of my financial encodements, lead to this event. Did either of those businesses store my information unsecurely? Were their webpages interfered with? Was somebody listening to which keys I tapped?

Having barely set banking wheels in braking motion, the telephone rang, displaying an impossible number, i.e. one that starts with ‘1’. I answered, imagining this might be a clandestine follow-up to my recent crime prevention effort. Had MI5 already picked up my case?

No. The caller was an automaton claiming to be BT soullessly informing me that it was terminating my internet connection, but—BUT—I could press ‘2’ if I wanted to avert this disaster. There are several reasons why this is feeble nonsense. So, not a follow-up; a further crime attempt. And all the more curious, since my phone number is not publicly available.

Suddenly I seemed to be a beacon of interest for unethical, financially extractive activities. Or are there people (or devices) out there, punching in random numbers until either they find they’ve successfully purchased something or a distant phone rings.

I returned to contemplating Skye Bette, whom I imagine sitting in a fag-singe-perforated onesie, on a skin-grease-shined sofa, attempting half-witted larceny on a half-cracked smartphone. Or—trying to trace tenuous clues from my possibly risky recent transactions—a disillusioned pharmacy warehouse worker who considers my blowing several pounds on branded painkillers a sign of entitled opulence begging for direct action. Who has nocturnal betting habits?

Ah, but, what a silly thing to spend my money on. Surely the person (or device) placing the bet can not have received any winnings, because their outlay or placed bet was not yet authorised. (I’m sure there are proper words for this in betting parlance, but of course I wouldn’t know.) Betting businesses have surely learned not to pay out before the down-payment is honoured. They’re well known for not losing money. Except when they’re casinos inherited by certain execrable heads of state. And supposing there were winnings, where would they be electronically spat? Would it not be suspicious to request your winnings be paid elsewhere?

If the person (or device) clutching sufficient of my financial codes to get past Go had immediately rushed out and bought bread or pants or, in the case of a non-human device, some USB trinket, they would’ve had the thing in their paw or socket. The argument would then have been between the retailer and the bank as to who had been a little hasty in grabbing for profit and failed the security procedures and who should get to keep the money. Now all the person (or device) has is a cancelled bet. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

If the stealage was for food or shelter I might have managed a sliver of sympathy. But perhaps it was me after all. It has the ring of the unhinged. Perhaps I have a multiple personality disorder. Perhaps I have reverse narcolepsy. Why would I throw £200 away? Dare I cackle in the face of fate? I really don’t have the mental acuity at 3AM.

02/05/2019

Easter Peace Stir

Filed under: Essays — Tags: , , , , — Teepwriter @ 16:05

Blue sky through shrubs with sun-flare

Easter weekend. Mid April. Scotland. Four days of blue sky and 20°C. Unusual.

I emerged into the garden to inspect the confused combination of grey sticks and greens sprouts. I listened to try to distinguish the great-tit from the blue-tit. To try to figure out why starling calls sounds like a geiger counter. Or something falling from a great height.

Instead I heard the pulsing grind of a car being water-jetted, the rattling whine of a hedge trimmer, the drone and clack of a lawnmower, the lazy buzz of a light aircraft, and the steady thundering whoosh of passing traffic. Seventeen million people changing places for the weekend.

A second water-jet fired up: not another mere electric effort, but a full diesel-powered industrial version that sounded like a generator used to power drilling tarmac.

I wonder about this unusual weather, and I wonder about our urge to create work for ourselves.

When the apocalypse comes, I shall surreptitiously tap into the personal crude oil well that my neighbour seems to be drilling for, in order to ensure a continuing supply.

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