Or Mr

Smiles. Through flames. Yes, he does. A picture develops under a skin of chemicals. Snap. The moments aren’t quite joined up, fragile like a baby’s skull; pressure distorts the shape. And he moves through images like someone bursting through one of those hoops with tissue paper they sometimes use in clown acts, he thought it was.

He knew that somewhere scripts were pushing the direction of his footfalls. He knew that somewhere edits were pushing back. He was not a sympathetic character – he knew this, but he hadn’t run across many heroes … they were few and far between as far as he could discern.

He pressed each finger against the glass carefully – he did not wish to smudge the prints. Treat every act in your life like it is a potential crime scene. Why was that important? He wanted to make an impact, always. He had a strange sense of the world around him and himself.

The newspaper talked of him – a constant chatter which he had to work hard to tune out. How could he be villain though, if there was nothing he was doing except following around? He circled the word thoughtcrime in his battered copy of 1984. He thought long and hard about many things.

Death came from a rumour. He wasn’t sure who spread it, but it pushed out of the cocoon of its quotation marked genesis, and flapped its chaos butterfly wings to push towards oblivion on eddies that became tsunami. Bang bang. His suit ignited. And he dreamed that he was a phoenix, in moments where he was bleeding out, and … and … back to the beginning. The worm swallowed its tale.

What had he been doing? Who was he? Fingerprints in a room where nothing happened.

His sister wrote a little story about him where he had learned to eat fire. He fell asleep every night in a bed full of ribbons. They had said that he had done things – stolen ideas, wrote them out as his own – but the truth was, his death was the only act of plagiarism he had ever been involved in. It was strange. It was strange.

The gun fires. The fires burning. He gets fired. He gets shot. A photograph.




He was an Outline, some kind of reality glitch, where the continuum rejig hadn’t erased a non-person completely. Logically they shouldn’t have existed, but somehow there was residual data stored in the signalling part of some of the upper dimensional particles that had been quantum entangled with the individuals.

He could see others like him easily – he knew none of the non-Outlines could really do that, but where did that get him … unless there was some kind of quantum physicist genius who had been outlined as well, they weren’t going to be building any escape routes any time soon.

He knew his mother had christened him Christopher, but he felt that the fact he no longer technically had a mother meant his name seemed a little invalid too. Screw it, might as well call himself Christ – who was going to oppose it?

It was maybe his third year of trudging through this half-life. It seemed longer – relativity took hold of the experience and stretched it like taffy. It was depressing – reality was a vestigial limb of his perceptual apparatus that itched like hell, but which he couldn’t get in a position to scratch.

Christ sat down and wondered how this had come to pass – what thing had been bumped aside or erased from the continuum preceding his existence that had wiped him out? What if he could skirt back down the loop of infinity, through the eye of the needle singularity, and unstitch that event horizon slipslide drown into oblivion? There was something unphysical about him, so what if the logical constraints of the physical universe were not binding to him? He felt no concern about theoretical Hawking radiation or unilinear time. What did he care for the postulated universe of some quantum physicist? What if observer influence and intention had made the first time travel machine possible, and what if, here on the outskirts of the real, his own perceptual push could undo something … could unmake some newly minted absolute?

He had once listened to a cassette on the power of positive thought. He had once managed to get his foot behind his head after a particularly limber yoga class where he had spent over an hour sat in the vedic position doing circular breathing – so he could focus really hard … he was good at that shit. So he did it.

One man can make a change – he had been an author back before he was wiped out. He had ghost-written before, so he was used to working with outlines. He sat there and he reconfigured the localspace around him into a script, digging in down deep and dirty into the heart of reality, and he had started to fill in that outline. He sat there and smiled as he thought about how all works of art are, in some small way, a self portrait, and he wrote himself anew; he wrote himself back in.

He sat there writing, burying himself in the work, excavating himself from the shadow world he had slipped into, and when he felt the soft pressure of a hand on his shoulder, and when he smelt the familiar perfume that his mother always wore, he knew he had travelled back to reality … one he had put there, and he fell in love with his life and the world again. He knew it loved him back, because he was the one who was the beating heart at its center – he was the engine of this place, and as he drove it on it rewarded him back.


whine bottle

The airplane collapsed, A gravity wave swelled through the reality-pinch bottleneck and folded it up like it was made of origami. It was an ingress trigger point, but they had no frequency markers, so who knew who had pushed back through the chronological string?

Husker pulled long on the bottle of vodka, surfed his ambulance chaser stations, and sent out wide range pings to sound out any anachronistic objects. Julio was inhaling a bottle of red and his compadre Hinky was swallowing some Zinfandel.

Two hours into the situation it escalated beyond anything they had ever seen before. A wave crested and dropped solid into a heavily populated area, and smashed the people there like they were bugs. Husker knew that their visitor was having an anchoring issues, and that the ricochet was part of the partial manifestation problem.

Hinky had a great ear, and Julio was a great shot. Husker got them in the right place at the right time, and they did the job. More people ended up in the line of fire than ever, and more casualties resulted than he would have thought possible.

He plugged all the data into his prediction crucible and he waited. They arrived an hour before the wave was due to hit. Husker watched. Hinky listened. Julio aimed. It appeared, preceded by a faint buzz. Hinky span and pointed north north east, Julio followed his direction and, whump, fired one of their special patented bullets right into the heart of the distortion, and bang, the time machine and the time travellers exploded. A balance was restored. That faint whine, from the aftermath of one of these events, it disappeared, when you lifted a bottle. Husker always got drunk after something like this.


He sits there with a tiny block – his artistic spirit was sacrificed upon it. He needed a larger one for his integrity. Above his bed he had a picture of the sainted Gordon Comstock. The aspidistras were wilted.

He pissed on a toilet block. Piss on his writer’s block. He lifted a cinder block and hefted it over the edge of the building. Someone walking around the block looked up and had their block knocked off. Sitting in Cell Block W he would have plenty of time to write.

Marvin was a blockhead. Carin hated him – his bunkmate sat there and listened to Jenny from the block. His agent had put a block on his calls. But hey, he didn’t have the block anymore, and diminished responsibility meant he could block in a release date on his calendar; block in a release date for his book.

He looked at the illustration of some kids ABC blocks – that simple, eh? He smiled.