Thursday, 31 December 2015

The Creative Process

This is the last story. And when I finish writing it I will go outside, where it is snowing lightly. I will promise myself that I will go outside more often. That I will call all the people who I have repeatedly told myself to call. That I will organise my desk, and feed the plants on the kitchen windowsill. You’re free now, I will tell myself. Time to get on with other life things. Real life things. I will watch the snow falling for a while. Try and catch flakes of it. Then I will come back inside, sit down, and start writing again.

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

The Drive Out, The Drive Home

On the way out there everyone is smiling as if their faces are about to crack. We have to be happy. Mother told us that. We have to be happy for him. So that he doesn’t sense that anything’s amiss. So that he isn’t frightened. But he senses anyway. He pokes his pink nose in between the bars and whines, whinnies. I let him snuffle my hand, his warm breath wetting my skin.

On the way home, we cry. Me and Genie. We sit fastened in the back, stitched to our seats by the seatbelts, heaving sobs. We ignore each other. We’ve never seen grief in one another’s faces before, and it’s painful to look at. The hiccupy, dying sounds of it – like drowning. Between us sits his empty carrier. The bars are still wet. The bedding still warm from his skin.

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

The Importance Of Antivirus

Ever since the virus took hold, my computer has been increasingly demanding. It has my files. My stories. My life’s work. And it will not permit me to copy them. Instead it holds them hostage, demands that if I work, I work with it. The keyboard grows hotter the more I type. Eyes watch me from the corners of the screen. This morning it demanded a blood sacrifice before it would boot. I cut my thumb, smeared red onto the disk drive.

I’ve called a repair shop, but they sucked their teeth at me. Sounds like it needs a brand new hard drive, they said. We can do it for you, but it’ll cost. I don’t have money to spare at the moment, but blood is cheap, and at least it still connects to the internet.

Monday, 28 December 2015

The Hungry Games

We are playing Monopoly again. It is the only game in the bunker. Sixteen days now, and the air raid siren still wails from the air base. The clouds of ash still drift outside. There’s enough food left, if we ration it, for two more days. Perhaps in that time help will arrive. Rescue. A convoy laden with supplies and survivors. Some hope. The radio’s played nothing but silence since the bombs fell.

While we wait, we play. A game each day to pass the slow hours in between night and night. Izzie takes Mayfair. Ron has the stations, and a hotel on each side of the board. I’m sick of this shit. Of losing, every single time. In my head I play out a fantasy: flipping the board, grabbing the hazard suit and storming from the bunker. Chancing it in the world outside. Screw the dust and the ash and the falling radiation. Anything’s better than this.

“Your turn,” says Izzie. Her voice is thick and tired. She hands me the dice. I hold them. Squeeze them tight in my hand, then roll.

Sunday, 27 December 2015

War, War, War

Ratings have been falling. Sharply. It’s a real issue for the station. People just aren’t tuning in anymore. It’s been too long since the last war broke out. We need another. Conflict. Guns. Blood and screaming. Tanks rolling through foreign streets. We need excitement – that’s what we need. Nobody wants to watch a hospital. A school. Those sets are played out. Let’s have a war again, controller. Let’s show them missiles falling on unfamiliar skylines. Let’s show them gas rolling through dusty streets. Let’s show them dead children piled in the back of a truck – after the watershed, of course. Ratings are falling, and we must do something. We must give the people what they want to see.

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Clone Date

Each week he cracks open a different tube, and takes a clone for dinner. He provides them a fluffy towel and a dress that’s just their size. They don’t know much, the clones. They are dazed and simple. No memories, but an understanding of the world is built in to their recipe. They take a taxi out into town and eat dinner at a fine restaurant. It is the first food the clone will ever have tasted. Then they dance. Their first dance. Their first kiss. Later, their first orgasm.

As dawn approaches, he walks them back to their tank. By this hour, the cracks are already starting to show. Their skin is greying. They are losing hair. Molting. Falling apart at the seams. Clones only last a few hours outside the tank. The technology has a long way to go. He gives them a bunch of flowers, which delights them. It has been a perfect evening. He kisses them, and they crumble to dust in his arms.

From the ash grey pile on the floor he retrieves the dress and the flowers – plastic, of course. He stows them in his desk drawer. Sweeps up the dust. Seals the pod, and returns to work... until next week at least.

Friday, 25 December 2015

Escapology

Christmas is the best time to escape. The city is silent, for once. No cars on the road. Shops shuttered. Streets empty. You can shoulder your bag and walk for miles without being spotted. You walk down the high street, gulls squawking indignantly at your approach. You prefer it like this. Everyone is occupied somewhere else. Easier to go like this. Easier to slip away while everyone eats their turkey, opens their presents.

You make your way towards the harbour. And even there it is silent. The sea washes in up an empty gravel shore. There are boats out there, decorated with pretty red lights.