Digital Ischemia

13/08/2017

Fossoway Flora and the Pacifist Extremists

Fossoway Flora quickly became tired of life at tree pace—or, more tactfully, she’d learned what she needed and it was time to move on. Prince Tiahmin was adorable, but also became tiresome every time his baddies threatometer lurched and he reached for a stick. Repeatedly she had to remind him that sticks had an original purpose before they became handy weapons. He was leaving her disfigured.

Such irritations all come to the same thing: Flora has learned the various ways we live and let live or let die. That old tree is a canny beech. The way it manipulates everything that enters its space, deciding who to encourage, who to repel. She feels the urge to visit Uncle Umbel. This could be problematic, given that her genome has merged with Fagus sylvaticus fossowaii, and currently exists in a firmly rooted way. However, she reasons, every cell carries the complete genome and her uncle is an open-minded sort.

Uncle Umbel has an allotment that appears to have been trampled by a navigationally-challenged herd of migrating aurochs, pulverised by glacial moraine, and finally kept at perfect conditions for putrefaction by the lukewarm outflow from a more-alcohol-less-taste whisky distiller. An extremely quaggy mire.

“Umbel? Umbel? I’m quite bored and if you don’t show yourself I’ll plant something with flowers on!” …calls a thrawn twig, swirling across the mire.

A three foot diameter octagon of mud opens via eight triangular petals, carefully draining slime outward, and reveals a spartan subterranean bunker. The clipped voice of one who aspires to have served in the RAF c.1940 dots and dashes forth.

“Wotcha. Get a move on, girl. Hatches to rebatten T minus three!”

The twig daintily pivots into position to surf a gust-stream and thereby dives between the gnashing metal petals.

“Cocoa?”
“Er, not really practical, thanks.”
“No. Hah! You’d get sticky! Hah! Sticky!”

Fortunately, a twig is also excused from having to disguise disrespectful facial expressions. Flora grabs for the conversational initiative to avert any further grocerial puns.

“Ahimsa, Umbel.”
“Gesundheit!”
“What is your understanding of it?”
“Your what-what?”
“Sanskrit: harmlessness. As in: toward self and other living beings.”

Flora gulps in horror at the contagious nature of the abbreviated style. She reassures herself that she is merely applying ‘mirroring’; a clever technique of neuro-linguistic programming. And she’s doing it unconsciously so she must be good. Still, she hopes producing puns won’t be necessary.

Umbel blinks repeatedly as distant, neglected circuitry is recommissioned. His amphibiously protruding eyes swivel and his ears twitch back an inch, stretching his forehead. On grocerial subjects you can get an interaction in real time, but anything even vaguely philosophical requires Umbel to shut down and dedicate all cognitive resources to the matter. His head lolls, lip slackens and cocoa teeters precariously on his chest.

Flora patiently scrutinises the bunker’s interior: piles and piles of dust-besmothered…shapes. She really can’t identify any of it, apart from the odd protrusion of wire or single sheet of paper, revealed only by apparent overwhelm, tilt and subsequent dustalanche.

A fragile connection sparks. Umbel’s cocoa hand twitches. Cocoa inevitably splashes on his shirt. Umbel powers back up.

“Ah. Just logged off pro tem, chaps. Buggeration.”

He blots himself with a towel placed at the ready for such regular eventualities, thereby scattering a portion of crumbs he carefully collected earlier.

“Clean on today, of course. Irretrievable. I shall have to disrobe forthwith.”
Umbel chuckles and lurches into unsteady motion. Flora’s patience was never good during pantomime. “Ahimsa?”
“No. Not a flicker.”
“Nothing?”
“Refer to the Conflict Chaps.”
“Who are..?”
“Thomson, Tim, and… and… Tarantula. You get the idea. Cheerio, folks.”

Flora is nowhere close to getting it, and rather thankful for the implied shreds of sanity. There are some peripheral gene puddles she’s keen not to paddle in. With Umbel retiring for a post-cogitatory nap—’cocoa’ is merely a vehicle for a substantial sugar and cream component—Flora is unattended in the elves’ factory. The fact of being trapped holds little concern as yet. Her leaf stalk flits investigatively along the bench, enticed by a curiously shuddering tin. A little probing releases a lid to reveal three blinking figures, of similar stature to herself in her current twig incarnation.

To be continued…

18/06/2017

Fossoway Flora and the Midsummer Malcoordination

Ancient beech tree

Flora needs a dark night of the soul – her soul. She needs a dark wood to get entangled in and become thoroughly lost. The summer solstice beckons. This being the least dark point of the year is merely a minor hurdle to waylay the under-zealous.

Fossoway beech stands through its 421st year. It was planted by a fortunate gust of wind in September 1596 in a fortunate spot upon soft, moist loam. It has been fortunate enough to receive regular celestial watering and plentiful nourishment from myriad lifeforms crossing its space. This specific instance of Fagus sylvatica programming has been optimised to take advantage of such fortune: a perfect combination of natural forces, poised on the precarious tip of a tiny equilibrium. The moments of its eons slide by; each fully attended to, fully felt, as it stretches, reaches, in every direction of space and time.

Flora selects her most inappropriate clothing to ensure she trips over a protruding tree root, thereby twisting her ankle beyond any weight-bearing capacity, then gets soaked in a predictable rainstorm, thereby becoming dangerously chilled. For her lower half she chooses a flat sheet of double-layered cheesecloth with straps at two corners. She forgets the fancy name of the garment. It’s perfectly impossible in its rigidity: fastening it tightly enough to prevent it slipping down also prevents her legs from operating and restricts her breathing. A slight loosening to allow movement thus makes slippage and trippage deliciously inevitable. A shapeless blouse based on the elasticated cone construction method—a triumph of manufacturing economy over style and functionality—has sleeves not only too long but trumpeting wide around her fingers, thereby always in the way of any emergency grasp. The garment is finished by a ghastly fringe of inexplicable tassles and thirty-four redundant beaded fastenings, designed to fail within twenty minutes. She unbraids her hair with a lazy wrench, letting it flop where it will, expecting it to sway and flap and straggle across her eyes at every critical visual movement. Perfect.

Around its base, the beech has seven—most auspicious—impressively sturdy arms arranged at varying stages of being overwhelmed by their own weight, right down to lethargically resting upon the layered leaf litter. The crumbling remains of earlier exhausted limbs dissolve back into the woodland recycle. A radius of thirty metres around this Titan contains nothing but itself: it has completely papered over every sliver of sky, every grain of soil. A perfect dance-floor.

Music swirls within Flora’s head – random, powerful strains and skirls that direct her dance. Flora flings her arms and birls into a stagger. Fortunately every beech arm has some growth at Flora height of a characteristically sturdy nature, perfect for tactfully receiving dizzy dancers and reeling them back into orbit. A perfect moment.

Flora supplicates before the beech: heartfelt, overwrought thanks to her perfect dance partner.

Gzwzwzwzwrrt. Lightning strikes. Something had to.

Of Fossoway Flora there is no trace. Except… Perhaps when wind blows through the twigs you may hear her peculiar musical refrain. When a scientist bores and extracts a careful core from the tree to establish its precise age, some strange isotopes may be identified: cheap cotton from the unethical sweatshops of Bangladesh. When the midsummer heat lifts the air, an idiosyncratically beaded and tassled spider’s web catches far more than its fair share of drifting, airborne creatures. Each time, once again, tilting the precarious equilibrium of nature.

Prince Tiahmin came not upon this clearing. He’s in the right wood, on the appointed day, but in an artificial intelligence simulation or the wrong reality, deluding his senses and suspending his disbelief. He wouldn’t recognise a rain-slick, gusting beech leaf if it slapped him in the face. However it would give him a much needed interface refresh. Unfortunately Tiahmin believes his mission is to blam baddies. It never occurs to him to enquire to what end. Anyway, who wants to question such things? That requires the facing of that other, dull and uncomfortable reality. So long as baddies arise, he has a call to blamming. His superhero hairdo, ever tilting at enemies, underlines the point.

Come back again in another hundred years.

Or, actually, maybe just bide your time a wee moment…

Prince Tiahmin has gunned a stolen 1970s Massey Ferguson into a supposedly deserted industrial farm complex. He would be quicker walking, but convention requires assault by vehicle. His only available weapon is an anachronistic pitchfork. It may be effective on any zombie scarecrows that lurch into range, but would not be at all satisfying. He has absolutely no interest in collecting a cache of pre-regulatory agricultural chemicals; he has no interest in chemistry…of that sort.

Tiahmin’s sole motivation for indulging this unentertaining and badly animated diversion around an agricultural cul-de-sac is, of course, seedy. A gaming chum of dubious trustworthiness has boasted of a feisty, busty, rustic wench in the environs. With the requisite hack key she promises to become very obliging. Sometimes three minutes of low grade erotica has to be seen to be disbelieved.

After four underwhelming circuits of the farmyard buildings, in a rationale-free fit of frustration, Tiahmin revs the red diesel and chugs flat-out at five miles per hour up a pasture—large scale, livid green triangles adorned with unconvincing cuboid livestock—toward an enticingly dark smear of forest.

Tiahmin aims the unappreciated Fergie at the nearest brown column. Once the graphics stop vibrating in an uncoded eventuality loop, he dismounts, sans pitchfork, and trudges jerkily through primeval tree ferns—the serendipitous botanical design is wasted on him—until a beige clearing forces its way into his path. A low resolution character artefacts beside a hefty tree trunk. With a rapacious leer, he taps to text entry mode and pastes the prepared character string.

Bzhzhzheow. No power. Had to happen. The only sound is an invective suited to one of limited profanity.

Prince Tiahmin is awoken by a sopping leaf slapping him about the phizog – unnecessarily loudly and repeatedly. He would attribute this flagellation to a freak microclimate, except for the leaf still being attached to the looming limb of a tree. By a beaded stem. Well practised in the spotting and following of obvious clues, he hauls himself up by the obliging branch. He admires the astonishing improvement in graphic and tactile resolution – which is to say: he likes the look and feel of the place. And the heady scent. The soft whooshing of air is unsettling, but he assumes it’s meant to be atmospheric.

The moment Tiahmin completes his reconnoitre of the beech clearing—for of course it is that—music arrives, drifting by in wisps; discordant pibrochs and dizzying slurs. Cursory assessment of the tree reveals a curiously attractive arrangement of branches, ascending helically. He boldly climbs this staircase toward the crown and its tumult of drooping foliage, which appears to keep blowing rather coyly across two small cankers. And that’s quite enough of that.

Did the fair pair live happily ever after, entwined in arboreal bliss? Hardly. The poor girl has rematerialised in genomic combination with a tree – Fagus sapiens. The poor boy is ill-equipped to deal with a non-threatening surreality. But once Tiahmin gets to grips with Flora’s various cankers and galls, they have an interlude of what can only be described as heavy coppicing.

Ancient beech tree branch

16/02/2014

Bus / Sunset

The Lassie and The Legume concluded

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

The Bus

Cecilia thwacks into a bus seat, in concrete body and out of ethereal mind. This is her inverted self. She’s excited for her expectation: sand, sea, sun. It’s a metaphor for fun, relaxation, stimulation, health. Strike one.

She forces a self-contained frisson while her companions exchange their banal babble. She stares at grimy windows seeing only her vision of the destination. It will be fun, won’t it? She’s jostled as her friends reshuffle their seats. She’s attached to hers and its grimy rail and sill. It will be beautiful, won’t it? Is it reinforcement or doubt?

She’s jolted by the broken approach road. Soon the headland will pull away from the coast. I will be happy, won’t I? Her friends shriek over inanities. They’re in no way attached to today’s outcome; they’ll have fun regardless of the surroundings. Revellers don’t even need daylight.

You’re smart, savvy citizens. (We’ve grown to respect you a little.) You’ll have heard of String Theory. We live in eleven dimensions, they reckon; we’ve yet to realise most. Most of us inhabit just the standard four. Percy exists in four too, a different four, but he expanded his range in a concerted effort and reached the goat track of the artist’s mind. Cecilia, too, slips into additional dimensions as escape. If they overlap, their consciousnesses are aware of each other. Load of bilge, sorry.

How does such overlap appear to one of us mere tetramensional beings?

Cecilia braces her dune-rooted stance against the buffeting wind. Her face flinches from sand-lashing. She totters feebly over the marram-tufted dune. Now’s the moment.

The Sunset

Cecilia’s lurching tension dissipates. She moves smoothly over, through air and sand. She’s perfectly calm and unaffected by pressures. Visually she fades.

One observant friend casts a glance, notices the strangely smooth motion, the translucency. Gradually others affix their attention to the gliding, fading figure.

Finally a hazy Cecilia levitates and flops over, before pitching steadily toward the setting sun. Carried. Released. Chosen. Transferred.

Her friends stare at something that has become nothing as if awaiting a sound effect to mark the transition. In their reality a group hallucination is just another feature of leisure time. So, conveniently, a disappearing acquaintance needs only a few colloquial exclamations and another suck at the sand lizard.

The Last

And the last thing to resolve, although we’ll be disappointed if you’ve not figured it: the interview with the dull, dumpy woman? Your fairy godmother isn’t always pink, but she does tap her wand when you ask.

The End

09/02/2014

Reality

The Lassie and The Legume continued

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

The Reality

Cecilia and Percy perch, swinging their assorted legs, on the only available roof edge. Traditionally there would be a glorious sunset, but the weather’s been rather perturbed lately, various threads remain unravelled, and frankly you’d feel cheated, wouldn’t you?
She procrastinates, “where did we get these peculiar names?”
“Mine’s an anagram of prince.”
“It’s not. That would make mine the arse end of princess with myriad wafty appendages.”
“Not bad.”
She plucks, gibletises and marinates some courage. “Why did you leave me?”
“I think it was the way you plunged so fully into revulsion–”
“–The second time.”
“I was going to say: and then completely got over it.”
“I can see how my flip-flop moods would be attractive.”
“Your honesty is breath-taking.”
“Thank you. That’s a first for me.” She bravely sustains eye contact. “Your irises are like the rings of a tree trunk.”
“Spirals? Good. I intend to hypnotise you.”
“No, concentric circles. I fancy I can figure which were the lean years and which were plentiful.”
Unexpectedly Percy’s chest quivers. He blinks first. “You had to come here of your own accord. I couldn’t bring you back as some sort of hunting trophy.”
She ponders this, holding it alongside the triple bint intrigue to see if anything reacts. Not a glint. New tack.
“Am I dreaming you or are you dreaming me?”
His eyes sizzle a rapid sequence of little craters across her face. Perhaps she has it. “It depends on your perspective.” After further devouring her bird-like alertness, he decides to peg it down. “I don’t know if you have the choice, it’s not for me to offer, but would you choose this life or your other?”
“This.”
“Take your time!”
“This.”
“If this is an illusion of pleasure and your other life is true reality, even if full of suffering, classic red pill or blue pill?”
“Both are illusions, but this one has options, actions, potential.”
“Even if this ends much sooner?”
“Even so.”
“Even if…” He expires in a frustrated vacuum.
“Even if you turn out to be a trick, if this dissolves, if I end up worse off than…” Her conviction shakes rigidly at the comparison. She sags as her heart mourns that already lost.
He pauses, respectfully, then casts a smirk at the valley, the mountains, the future. He senses her wave of sorrow ebbing. “You said me first.”

Poignancy achieved, her eloquence evaporates; she glazes over. “I want you so very badly.”
“Badly I can do.”

By the time the sun sets, Cecilia is fast asleep. Percy has that effect.

02/02/2014

Reconciliation

The Lassie and The Legume continued

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

The Reconciliation

Unnaturally alive with altruism, Cecilia departs discussion of personal hardware but regretfully bounds into Percy’s father, who is contemplating the floor.
He mutters, “I’m disengaged with reality today. I’m grounded in this world. You can ask me anything.”
Surprise trumps strategy; she blurts her weakness. “Why the pressure to pair Percy?”
“I’m Noel Knowles. He’s the Leguminary.”
She flounders momentarily, grasping for any sort of handle. “The luminary?”
“With special legs.”
“I see.”

Percy’s father reflects, then transmits, “he’s destined for great things.”
Cecilia pities his yellow smoky glasses of parenthood. They can’t help themselves exalting the dubious prowesses…prowesii…prowe–
He continues, “he built all this.”
Now she’s intrigued, hastily retracting premature malignment…malignation…whatever. She flaps a hand at the beguiling basement.
“It actually didn’t occur to me how it had arisen, or asunk.”
He casually corrects her. “Oh, not just the house, the whole world.” He seems not to wholly fathom the enormity.
She goldfishes. She’d polish those golden spectacles with a cloth woven of her own cobweb-like fronds now.
He sallies on. “It’s a strange attractor–”
She can’t resist flippancy. “Rather.”
“–A feature of a chaotic landscape.”
She scrabbles, “like the diversity of nature?”
He’s earnest now, “that would be one manifestation of this theoretical construct.”
She feels her skull spasm. “Are you saying _this_ is a _thought_?”
“Basically. We used to live in a Lego semi in Mollearn.” His tweed canopy twitches wistfully. “He’s never been satisfied, certainly not with us.”
She feels suddenly reduced to a figment of Percy’s freakish imagination. Like metal limbs in a Stone Age land. Although better than unappreciated parents. In an unusual moment of clarity, she regroups.
“You’re not really the king?”
“Merely distorted caricatures, warped carunculations in his mindscape.”
“And the other inhabitants?”
“They, like you, were drawn in. Most flit out again but a few stay. And, of those, one… Well, here you are.”
Her sense of umbrage flips to over-exposure. One what?
He polishes off an outstanding answer. “He needs a complement. A sensitive balance. We need to go home.” In the absence of anything from her but squeaky gasps, he continues, “have you decided yet?”
“On Percy?”
“No, that’s evident. I mean: which reality?”

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.

29/12/2013

Folly

The Lassie and The Legume continued

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

The Folly

“I should extroduce myself: I’m Percy; I’m the prince. Prince Percy.” Rich waits in vain for Cecilia’s awe. “Would you like to uncounter my parents?” She accepts, for a shameless fantasy of a biscuit, and not a little curiosity about this non-Percy prince business.

They squish along beside the right branch of wall – or perhaps it’s the left, that bit actually doesn’t matter. The putrid water seeping into her shoes would be unpleasant if it weren’t counter-balanced by fetid fog bubbles adhering to her face. Yet neither assault is sufficient to detract from Rich’s flinching. He cowers with foreboding glances at the obscured sky.
She tries for sympathy but achieves tetchy. “What’s wrong?”
A drip splats on his nose. He recoils, reflexes his finger to the origin of the sensation then suspiciously examines its wet tip.
“What’s this?”
“Rain?”
He’s quite unnerved. “Are you postcipitating it?”
She purses her face. He increases his pace. He’s petrified by the water pouring from the sky and her proximity. A trickle gathers on his scalp, hurtles down his forehead. He panics.
He bursts a confession. “You know I’m just the surrogate?”
She doesn’t even understand the term in this context. She attempts a fierce expression through the flushing effort of mentally and physically keeping up.
Penitently he offers, “the stunt-double, the substitute.”
She extends to a baffled grimace enhanced by dirty drizzle.
He has another. “The stand-in.”
Marvelling at the alliterated synonyms, she awaits cognitive aid.
He unleashes the punchline with lung-emptying gusto. “I’m not Percy.”
Indeed. There must be more. “But you pretend..?”
“To get girls.”
She’s horrified. He scrabbles to mitigate the unfortunate impression. “I mean for him.”
Not any better; she’s still horrified.
“I mean for his parents to meet. Before he puts them off. He pays me.”
Hence Rich. However she views it, it’s offensive: audition, imposter, coward. Now she has a decent inferno going with her jealousy, her disgust and her pangs of adolescent mush.

At full seething slither, Rich yanks her at the wall. Luckily there’s a gap, which turns out to be a gateway, which turns out to have fully roofed, gargoyled and crenelated posts. They shelter under the ostentatious eaves.

Cecilia notices that which you surely have too.
“You speak differently…”
“When I’m being Percy. He has a style.”
Indeed again. She also notices something that you’d be prescient to have managed: a brass plaque establishes the gateway as to Fellwell Folly.

Older Posts »

Blog at WordPress.com.