Now, now. Some misguided people have suggested I should post up some fiction, as well as just blogging on about my opinions and daily business, general ramblings. Piffle piffle. But to show you all the error of your ways, here is a very flawed science fiction psychological type short story of mine. It does have a story of its own, how it came to be, it relates to Alias True - but its wrong to blither on and over explain stuff, so...here it is. I warn you now - it has a really unsatisfying end!! And a very unsatisfying title, too...I'm also in two minds about the middle...
(I'm sticking my tongue out at you people who asked for a story!)
Daniel is Lost
Miriam looked out of the window. She saw nothing. She held his hand, squeezed it. She could feel her face held tense, mouth a line of kohl. She tasted the cigarette in her throat, though it was an hour ago. The smell of the place made her sick, cabbage, toilet cleaner.
Ashley appeared from the office ahead, looking stark in white, against the pale blue of the walls. ‘We’re ready now; you can come and listen from the other room, if you like. I’m not sure of the outcome.’
She nodded, and extricated her hand from the limp one beside her, mottled and heavy. The smells of the place were on him too. She unbuttoned her coat, and followed Ashley, tall and certain. She felt anything but. Her heels clacked across the silent room. The door closed softly behind her with a quiet snick.
Mr Brown cleared his throat. ‘I feel it time to proceed, do you agree?’
Daniel shifted in his chair; the plastic was old and had no give. ‘It would be helpful if we still had clocks.’ He pulled at a hangnail; his thumb was reddened and hot. ‘In the old days there was no relying on the preciseness of intuition, which can be put off by the firing of a single confused neuron.’
Mr Brown blinked. ‘I am taking that statement as a willingness to proceed.’
Daniel nodded, a small gesture. His head was slightly lowered, but his eyes were fixed on Mr Brown, angry and scared. ‘Yes.’
Mr Brown swallowed. ‘You were not alive in the age of clocks, watches, alarms – external stimuli for measuring periods long past. Are you attempting to explain your lateness here today?’
Daniel stared. ‘If you had a clock you’d know exactly how late I am, to the second.’
Shifting slightly in his chair Mr Brown continued. ‘They used to break. They were not all synchronized. Some people did not wear them; some refused to adhere to their strictures. What makes you think this is any better than the system we have now?’
Immediately Daniel answered. ‘It was external. Intuition and telepathy gives no one any privacy. It’s taken away our freedom.’
‘This is an interesting idea. If you did not account for the facts. We are taught screening techniques from an early age. If you choose not to pay attention in class, you only have yourself to blame if your mind is now open all the time.’
Miriam edged closer to the glass, her chair squealing against the linoleum. She grimaced apologetically at the woman beside her.
‘Don’t worry, they can’t hear in here,’ the tidy woman said, looking up briefly from the notes she was taking. ‘Its fascinating…’ she murmured, moving her head slowly from side to side.
‘But why aren’t they saying anything?’ Miriam could feel herself starting to panic.
Daniel felt himself begin to lose his temper. ‘In the old days, in history, if you wanted to be alone you took off your watch, turned off your phone, locked your door. In our world, today – we can even bother each other in our dreams! Where is the freedom in having to guard yourself all the time! I’m exhausted just feeling you now! Back off!’
Mr Brown moved infinitesimally backward in his chair, and inclined his head to Daniel. ‘Please lower your voice. As you see, I am not discomposed, despite your disturbed brainwaves and disordered thinking patterns. I see now why you were sent here.’
Daniel banged his fist on the table, and felt the pain of the swollen thumb right up his left arm. ‘Why? Because I dare to think for myself and you all can hear?? It’s wrong! You shouldn’t be able to hear!’
Mr Brown spoke softly. ‘Because you are thinking sloppily. You are emotionally driven. This leads you to a misplaced nostalgia, for what you perceive as a “simpler age”. All those “noble savages” of the twenty-first century.’
Daniel inhaled the smell of cabbages, and felt heavy all through his body. ‘I know it was not all good. Then. But parts of it make a lot more sense than now.’
Mr Brown shuffled his papers, on which he had taken no notes. ‘I think probably we may decide to keep you here a while. You need to be re-shown screening techniques. I am convinced that once your mind is more under your control –’
Daniel yelled. ‘YOURS YOU MEAN.’
‘ – that you will feel calmer. You will then see the error of this fake Cassandra Complex.’
Daniel felt ready to spit. ‘See. See! Why do you allow Greek references? Venerating parts of the past at the expense of others? Its fascism – you’re all controlling me.’
Miriam held her hands together, so the tidy woman would not see them shake. ‘What do you mean it’s fascinating? They aren’t doing anything – they aren’t even talking!’
The tidy woman smoothed down her white tunic, looked at her watch. She smiled softly and beatifically at Miriam. ‘Ashley Brown has done wonders with these people before, Miriam. Have patience.’ Her lips were slugs, too much lip-gloss. She sounded evangelical.
Miriam wanted to hit her. ‘That is my husband. He’s not these people.’
‘I apologize. I don’t deal with the families too often. In academia it’s mostly books.’ She smiled again, precisely. ‘Watch, wait.’
Mr Brown smiled, a stretch of the lips, no more. ‘Fascism. Another charming twentieth and twenty-first century notion. Popularized by Mussolini, I believe. An interesting, if misguided historical figure. I will arrange your room.’
Daniel started back in his creaky chair, the lino dragged. ‘I say no. I won’t stay! I’m leaving. You can’t stop me if you really think we’re all free.’
Mr Brown nodded. ‘You forget this is a neuron and synapse health review. I can do what I deem best for your own health, the comfort of your family, and the well-being of the general populace.’
‘No. I said no.’
‘That is unfortunate. I know our methods can give you freedom.’
‘Show me I’m free by letting me leave – show me you don’t just talk about it, and reprogramme people who don’t do what you want them to do?’
‘I’m afraid it’s not as simple as you make out. You have been called here because you are unsettling people.’
‘I’m just talking!’
‘There’s no need for that. We have created a very peaceful environment with our telepathy.’
Daniel shouted. ‘It’s dead! Nothing is real, it’s all virtual. We sit like fat cows and nothing ever actually HAPPENS!’ Daniel wished Miriam were here. In his head, she smiled, and held him, and he felt true-er, more real. He closed his eyes.
Mr Brown inclined his head, and spoke indulgently. ‘As you are aware, cows have not existed for four hundred years. Humankind was notoriously lactose intolerant. The mass adoption of milk remains a complete mystery to me.’
Daniel kept his eyes closed. He felt fear through his body, heating his head, stretching his veins. ‘Of course. Like talking.’
Miriam wanted to cry. ‘But he’s even more lost in himself. He’s just listening to them again! What is Ashley doing?’
The tidy woman leant forward. ‘See how he is mirroring your husband’s posture – he’s there now, they’re together…watch…’
Miriam watched the scene – her husband’s limp hands being held by the tall and certain man. The electrodes on her husband’s forehead and chest; a reflection of those on Ashley’s. She held her breath.
The tidy woman got up and examined the computer readings. ‘Its happening,’ she breathed, an almost sexual softness to her voice.
Miriam put her hand to the glass, her eyes wide. She felt horror.
Daniel wanted to die. There was no way to exist like this. Not anymore. ‘I don’t care what you think, doctor,’ he said, very softly. ‘It was right before, and it’s wrong now. And I remember then…’
Mr Brown leant forward, looking neutral. ‘How could you possibly remember?’ His voice was even.
Daniel’s head felt filled with dust, he was dizzy, he felt sick. He grasped the edges of the table, hard, the pain in his thumb increasing. ‘I remember because…because…’ He paused, spittle pooling from his mouth. ‘I was there.’
Mr Brown smiled.
Miriam looked on; her mouth open.
Daniel’s hunched posture vanished. He sat up straight and opened his eyes.
Mr Brown was smiling at him, looking if anything, smug.
‘I was there!’ Daniel’s eyes were twitching, he wiped at his mouth, looked about the room in amazement. ‘I was there. Here. Here!’
‘Welcome back to the present, Mr Prentiss.’ Ashley Brown pulled electrodes from his forehead with a grimace. The tidy woman appeared, to help him.
Miriam started to cry.
‘Where’s Miriam? Where’s my wife? Please?’ Daniel sounded like he was smiling.
Miriam, though she could not stop shaking and worried for her legs, rose and left the room. He was back. No more voices. She went to him.
(Copyright me, and all that, 2008 + 2011)
Next post - back to me waffling as per usual, I suspect...