truly homeless

They step over him. He doesn’t wow them with the shell game anymore. He doesn’t do the street magic he picked up from watching carefully anymore. There are no amusing little anecdotes on the placards he sets around himself to request money. Give money or don’t – it has nothing to do with him. He knows that no one wants to speak to him, because he is a non-person.

Except her. She sits down cross-legged opposite him.

‘You gave up,’ she says ‘And that’s wrong, because you know the war is still going on.’

She chuckles: ‘Now, does that make you a traitor, or does that just make you a coward?’

‘I’m so tired.’

‘I’m so disappointed. Do you know how many bodies I have dragged around to fight this thing? How long I have lived out here in the cold? Out here in the dog-piss alleys? Do you have any conception? I may be alternative girl culture cute for the moment, but I was dragging an old man carcass around less than ten years ago. The standards are dropping though. You, Mercutio – you used to be someone I could rely on. The rapier wit turned to thick-tongued self pity – what’s that worth? Not a damned sight, right?’

‘Girl, stop harassing that man,’ said a half aware emissary from the shining kingdom of society.

‘Old lady, step away from something you do not understand. I commend your concern as a citizen, but we are of another world, and in that place you have no jurisdiction.’

The old lady stepped away with a confused expression on her face.

‘What would you have me do, Titania?’

‘Ah, you are a leaky battery indeed if you charge me with providing the mission with which you were instilled back when you stepped away from the warm streets of the shared dream.’

‘Yes, indeed – that is exactly the problem. I am truly homeless.’

‘What a sorry state of affairs. What magic would it take to restore you? Charity? A Death? A victory? None of it is cheap, and none of it presents at the asking. It requires some doing; it always did.’

With a flourish, summoned from somewhere where the dream still sparked, he tap danced through the parking lot. She smiled at him. He smiled at her. She bumped fists with him – time to continue fighting that war again.

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It Tastes Of Sour Jazz

He is chewed fingernails, bloody cuticles, he is gum disease, he is fidget, St Vitus Dance. He makes them all uncomfortable. He has been smoking powdered baby for a week non-stop and the painted clouds that thought bubble above his head are nightmare landscapes of imagined futures and pasts that smell like rotten meat. No one wants him to detox because this slow reveal just shows what a little pustule of poison he is. They want Clancy to be dead already.

She is a different matter. If boners were iron filings she would be the magnet making them dance. Everyone loves her. She’s been smoking Kahlo, but she has a drift cloud screen that pumps out her visual poetry in a much more aesthetic way than he has ever been capable. So you ask, what the issue? They love her and they hate him – seems obvious what they should do, doesn’t it? Except that Butler loves Clancy, and she somehow pulls something good out of him that nourishes her in a way that no one else has been able to do.

Vampiring the two of them, drawing all their energy from the interactions of these two pulsars, it is kind of fitting that as failure rears its ugly gap-toothed head above the parapet and takes an arrow in the eye, that the leeches should suffer as much as the principal actors.

It tastes of sour jazz. The plant that is growing weed-like in the petrol-rainbowed puddle is a fractal challenge that creaks out of a cocoon of melody into a tottering architecture of feedback and electronic blips. This whole place made sense – the maps led where you wanted them to, and then they started to disagree, just like that. How does location break down like that? Walk in the direction of one place and find yourself somewhere else.

Get enough people taking enough different drug-lines and the harmonic frequencies start to attack some deep crystalline structure of reality and pull it apart. The hologram was stroking – left and right rupturing apart and one side going spastic and lazy. Things just didn’t look the same.

Clancy as an old man is sat there writing an elegy for Butler, and he remembers her as Dorothy Parker speaking through a vision of Snow White. He was Bukowski wearing a Bogarde mask. He is thinking of a rare moment where they were sober. Because he writes it down, and because the new dreaming vampires read it and incorporate it into their philosophy, his nostalgia inadvertently saves the world.

It tastes like cotton candy. It smells like vanilla. There is a hummingbird marking time as it drinks nectar. This is the word in random motion.

the mirror room

It was an intersect point that could reconcile different vibrational frequencies, and therefore allow interdimensional communication between different iterations of the same agent. The Quantum Agency had been running them on and off for close to fifty years. The weakening integrity of the spacetime structure in several adjacent areas of localspace surely had nothing to do with their operation.

Golding looked at the sixty year old version of himself and the female version of himself, and he was unsure whether he disliked them because of who and what they were, or whether they just showed to him something he loathed in himself. They had to meet anyway – all brought together by the spindle-line running through the multiversal nexus. It was never pleasant – relativistic time and the effects of stepping back into your own spatio-temporal index felt like a more distorting version of the nitrogen bends.

They were trying to run to ground a group of Freelance Editors who were operating off some kind of Dadaist program and had been making a pig’s ear of the throughline. Agents would crash in, crash out, change appearance – they were having trouble maintaining individual subtext these days, only able to maintain the supertextual truth that the individual in the seat is an agent. It could make for disorientating meetings, but it was what they were trained for.

Golding had been edge-running a bleed-zone in South London all week, trying to peg who were the pawns and who the grandmasters; the map of Tooting high street didn’t look anything like it had a week ago. Who would remember? Only him. Sixty year old said that the head honcho was Peregrine Soot from his dimension, and female said that his assistant was Delius Herg from her dimension, and that they were operating from the work of Hugo Serin.

Two varying kinds of reality anchors meant the need of two types of disruptors – that was what made these collaborations invaluable.

‘We’re looking at Colony Collapse imminently, we won’t meet again,’ said sixty year old. ‘The spatio-temporal key-stones of this dimension were logic-bombed last week. Last week I was eighteen. Entropy is accelerating.’

‘We have an integrity issue too,’ said female. ‘This meeting is our attempt to at least help you – to do something before we cease to exist. That’s the one comfort in these Mirror Rooms, they let you see there are other possibilities.’

‘It was nice knowing you,’ he said, and he knew it sounded cold, but he had work to do, and he had to get to it quickly.

The assembled team, the manufactured disruptors, the location – all of it in place. Now they just had to wait for them to show up.