word gains 2

You post the first piece that you construct to try and illustrate the difference between the writer and that written as a piece of fiction and it is mistaken for a non-fiction piece describing your state of mind. You sit and you smile at the irony in the way the piece is received. You are grateful but wonder if it is ever at all possible for those reading to divorce things which seem that they might be true and come from a true place from an exercise in fiction which you use to creatively illustrate a position some writer’s find themselves in?
You fold the event into the story and wonder whether this will blur the lines between the fiction you have created and the reality the reader’s have constructed for themselves, or whether it will merely act to reinforce their notion that what they are reading are the true thoughts of the person writing the piece instead of seeing them for what they are: the writings of a fictional character.
The shift in narrative voice may provide some confusion which you can use to knock people off balance. A writer writing about a writer wondering about writing – mirrors abound and cast reflection at reflection; two flints sparking to create something else … something of a denser nature; something at once more self-conscious and secretly less real.
If you allow your fictions to more closely echo your life which one shifts on its axis most? Which one surrenders its solidity and becomes a bit more insubstantial? If it is your life which grows more fluid and people see you as just an extension of your fiction, how far can you push the script in an effort to sculpt your reality? If it is your fiction which moves to accommodate your life then does your life suffer because the fiction seems to exist in a parasitic relationship, drawing directly off of the events of your life? Can you live if no barrier appears to exist?
People expect you to be a monster. People expect you to be a hero. People discard the real you as a front when you offer it to them – they think you are just pretending to be normal; that you really are as fucked up as the things you write. They find out you are normal and they see it as somehow damaging the authenticity of the words you put on the page. What had seemed realistic now seems made-up. The world shifts uncomfortably on it’s axis. In the beginning was the word, the spoken word, then came the written word, then came debate. Once we had picked up the masks we didn’t know how to put them down.

Cockroach 2

You expect efficiency – that is what the public expects: they think of the military as being a finely oiled machine to use the old cliche. When bad things happen they are put down to bad luck, not the inefficiency of those who were tasked to carry out the orders. They thought I was dead. It was not supposed to look like a military strike because they didn’t want to have my blood or that of my family on their hands – they wanted a civilian to find me and jump to the wrong conclusions. Wrong conclusions the seeds for which were planted all around the crime scene. Unfortunately with my body not being there I am now going to be suspect number one – still, even if the local police filing a report on the incident and putting out an APB for me tips them off to the fact I survived they are unlikely to conceive of me attacking them, or if they picture that eventuality how could they guess the angle?

Today I have come across more mistakes – they have not shut down my access codes yet … I mean, who would want to use them, right? And no one knew them except me, and I am dead. Ok, you get the point. They were sloppy. I was trained for this kind of thing, enhanced to a point where everything became insanely easy – perhaps improved to such a degree that they became scared of us.

I have tracked down the men who gave the orders – a joint decision from General Architrave and Senator Bromide from the oversight committee. I have the names of every single man on the team – a group of five – Cisceaux, Jolie, Parrent, Archer, and Hale. I’d worked with all of them at some point but it wasn’t going to be hard killing them – i had formed no attachments to any of them. Any feeling that we had shared between any of us had been burned out in one single act – their killing of my family and attempted execution of myself.

writer’s block 1: starting block

Directive 451 was passed to halt the dissemination of ideas in print. There was still a small enclave of people, so it was rumoured, who could pick up a pen and knock out a story, but most of the writers had been gathered up and dumped in one place: Block I, or Writer’s Block as it became known.

Persiflage Interlocutor had been held there for what he thought was three weeks. there were no books to read, obviously, there was no paper to write with, and the drug they took knocked out their speech centres. What could a writer do? Well, if he was blessed with an eidetic memory and an imagination that could help God out if he had to repopulate the universe, there was a fair amount you could spend your time doing.

Pers sat in the corner of the communal room watching all the inhabitants move about in their daily bubbles of boredom. He watched JJ, the renowned linguistic acrobat banging his head against the wall. Floris, the attractive romance novelist rocked back and forward in an attempt to find comfort. Countless others circumnavigated normal behaviour as their minds deteriorated through prolonged lack of use. They had been here much longer.

They didn’t need any guards. The automated system sufficed. Writer’s Block caused the symptom it was named after in most and the creative block seemed to extend to escape attempts. Persiflage wasn’t exactly keeping quiet about his different situation: how exactly could he talk? But had he thought about escaping? No, he needed some peace and quiet and this place was perfect: he would think of it as a writer’s retreat.

word gains 1

I know that when they sit there and they read the words that I have put down that they are not reading the story, they are reading me. It is good to sometimes have the distance of anonymity between you and your readers. If every described suicide, every murderer, and every zany idea expressed reflects on you then how can anyone get used to the shifting geography of what you are? Where does the truth of your survive?

I know that when some people think of me they think of a sad fiction; a tale that spins out from the impetus of a tear-drop lost amongst raindrops falling in a puddle and sending out ripples. Do they imagine me sat there on the edge of the curb watching trash floating away to an unspecified somewhere? Writing haiku post-it notes that I fold into cranes and set upon the flow. I am a watercolour under the spreading stain of spilt ink – a vision used as a blotter.

I try to imbue some of the passages I write with the quality of sunshine but they are few and far between. It is strange – the mood of my fiction is generally no indication of where I am at mentally or spiritually but it is often taken as such. People read the poetry and make that into metaphor and idea and miss the obvious messages. These are the things that happen to a writer I suppose. Strung between the intention and the interpretation; though put like that it doesn’t sound much different from everyone else’s life, though it represents another layer of the onion perhaps. Are you trying to communicate or disappear behind a equivocation? Are you playing word games?

The bad things are taken, turned around in the head, chewed over, purposely made more sharp and then left there for people to cut themselves on. The good things are polished, held up to the light, flashed at people like a momentary brilliance of sunshine bouncing off a window, and then spirited away. We glory in the shadows – they are the playground in which we exercise our minds. It is inevitable that this can colour the world.

Sat hunched over the keyboard, all the pieces of literature I have read, all the films I have watched, all the paintings I have enjoyed, all the music I have listened to, pressing behind the filter of my mind’s eye and trying to escape. It all blends together, ricochets off the events of the day that are prominent in my short term memory and ends up in whatever twisted form I wish to call the story I am working on. Always a different story – always the same story. I drink coffee, surf the internet, read, listen to tunes – all of this going on as I write. It is an act of chemistry – a living process.

Cockroach 1

They call it the Cockroach Initiative — building the ability to survive for a certain amount of time without your head into their armed forces. I was the prototype.

The data that would usually be stored in the brain was redistributed amongst the nanites in the host’s bloodstream. The reasons they just held the data there and ran the body without a head were twofold — firstly it scared the living shit out of the enemy, and secondly they thought it was a waste of resources to effect an immediate rebuild. For any of the in-built lizard-tech regeneration hardware to be employed took too much energy away from killing.

So, they tried to deal with me last night. They manufactured a terrorist threat to scare me into accepting the offer of moving me and my family to a safehouse and then, once we were there, they sent in their butchers to kill us in our sleep.

I am a soldier but they had drugged our food and most of my systems have been offline since they decommissioned me. They were offline because of the neural implants they had drilled into my base ganglia. Now those implants, along with my head, no longer exist. My family – my wife and son – unfortunately had no such technology in them and they are not coming back from their beheading.

What do you do when you have no head? Well, you either run around like a headless chicken or you go looking for a new one. I knew where to look. As soon as I came back online, all my faculties as an enhancile freed from the restraints, I knew where to go. Did they not check the specs on me? Did they not exactly what I was and what I am capable of? If they did then they are idiots; if they didn’t then they are also idiots – either way their actions are sloppy, and they will pay for their lack of professionalism.

I am going to take the head of the man who gave the order, then I am going to take apart the organisation that killed my family piece by piece.

Reduce 1

The step from minimalism to asceticism was not a large one for him — it seemed a natural evolution. One he had been ready to take for a long time before he finally plunged headlong into the lifestyle.

Time was a slow accretion of layers, associations, chains to different things. He had been breaking the chains, disassociating from the things that lay claim to him, shaving away the old skin of dead layers. He was making himself into something new — through becoming materially lessened he believed himself to be spiritually increased.

Some people didn’t like the balancing act — this accounting exercise that he was embarked on. People didn’t see it as a progression they saw it as a cold hearted cutting away of the things that mattered. He looked to them and saw them staring balefully back at him and he edited them out — took the blue pen and made the necessary marks to divorce himself from their presence. It surprised him briefly how little their absence mattered.

He started to think of it as surgery of a kind. He had some kind of far-reaching existential dysmorphia that required the wholesale removal of people instead of just limbs. He was finding it hard to see the worth in any of the people he had once associated with. They had let him down and not just once but consecutively and in increasingly significant ways. He was beyond disappointed. He was not sure he could properly verbalise how their fall from grace in his eyes had made him feel — perhaps there was no explanation.

If there was no explanation that meant there was no reason for their behaviour. Did the lack of a reason make their behaviour wrong? Maybe, maybe not — what it did do however was make it behaviour that he no longer needed to have affecting him. He was done with it and therefore it was simple to say that he was done with them.

Cut it away. Let the cancerous growths — the badly programmed cells that trapped you — let them all fall away to nothingness. It was like stepping into daylight. It was like stepping through the heart of a nuclear maelstrom being stripped down to nothing, leaving of the old self only a shadow, and stepping through that transformation to radiate a new truth. This was him post apocalypse.

People acted like he was poison. The whole of society was geared towards collecting things — people, objects, money, symbols. You could own as many virtual things as you could real things. Everything was about what you could claim as yours. Consumer society had gone rampant, rabid. It was heading toward collapse and he chose to sidestep the crumbling edifice; this modern day tower of Babel.

He gave away what money he didn’t need at the end of the week. He would buy exactly as much food as he needed, pay the bills, the necessary ones, and then he would find someone who needed it more than him and he would hand it over. People though that he was an idiot. It appeared to make no sense. People didn’t really want to find out what was going on in case he truly was mad.

He didn’t care what they thought — he honestly didn’t. If they didn’t understand then he didn’t need them in his life. Trim it back. Never add more and especially don’t add things that are detrimental to the self. That goes against the whole spirit of the project. That is in contradiction to the philosophy. It is contraindicated on the packet. He smiled: he was happy — he was free of so many things at last.

Savant 1

To work for the people, and by that I mean to resonate with them as an idea, you have to appear dumb as fuck while being as smart as a whip. Marylebone had the maths down to a fine art. He managed to be a spokesperson, a commentator and still remain inestimably cool. How many people can achieve that?

He was a ticking timebomb that the establishment wanted removed. They tried to discredit him but they underestimated him. Each time they sent someone in to upstage him it was them that ended up looking the buffoon.

He smiled, arched an eyebrow and lit up the joint he had been treating like it were a super model’s leg he was turning in his hand. It tasted good — good shit; hydroponic; from the farms out in the sticks. He had money tied up in that shit — the market had slumped as of late but he knew there was a boom around the corner; these things went in cycles and the whole methamphetamine kick was dying down.

His sidelines in providing prescription drugs for those who couldn’t afford them was reaping dividends. People thought of him as just a TV presenter; they had no idea that he was staging a quiet revolution. Even the government goons that had been following him around had no real clue what he was up to.

He had been lacing the water with psychotropic drugs for about two years now in certain areas — mainly the ones that suffered from racial tension. He stuck amphetamines in the water of the areas that seemed too peaceful. He had friends on the various waterboards that controlled the supplies around the country. He was an agent provocateur and he had countless contacts in the art schools and amateur dramatic societies that would stage little skits for him to amp up a feeling that he wanted to be floating through the universal mind.

He had to be in the public eye to make him untouchable. If they came after him — if the shit hit the proverbial fan; then he needed to have a sympathetic public behind him to give him some kind of crawlspace. Revolutionaries could no longer hide — they had to be in plain sight and use the same tools that the big boys were playing with. You could be a one person media company.

He had to cut with the reckless shit though — like lacing the chief of police’s food with female hormones; like doctoring up a digital rendering of the prime minister going down on the president. Shit like that just wouldn’t fly. Shit like that might get him caught. Couldn’t have that. What could you do if you got caught? Not much — that was what.

Shit, he was stoned. Fucking out of his tree. Put some Marley on and float for a bit. Business could wait — revolution could wait. He needed to get high. Getting high made sense — it switched you off, and he spent all his life switched on.

Dreamcatcher 1

They called him Dreamcatcher and I tell you I am not sure what they built him out of but I know that he was fucking dangerous. he would sneak into your room, sit on the thin ledge of your headboard, and he would suck the oneiric energy straight out of your sleeping head, and man, some of the shit that he could do with that stolen energy was scary as fuck.

The last time we came across him all the mere mortals that were walking around with us gengineered mercenaries had their minds taken apart by the kind of infoviral self-replicators that used to rip data to shreds in computers. There was nothing for the psyche-wards to work with; nothing human left in them. And he smiled like he’d just been laid. Licking his lips like some kinky freak.

We were trained combatants. He was jungle warfare to our nice clean rules of engagement; he was guerrilla tactics. If we were Julius Caesar he was Vlad The Impaler. And he did it all with flickbook images taken from the brains of kids in the nursery. He could set Disney characters dancing through your skull in a way that would have you climbing the walls for weeks.

How did I survive him? I was designed for exactly that purpose. I was built to leech off of any kind of energy that was out there so any shit that he threw at me just made me stronger. I won’t say he didn’t fuck me up somewhat though. When you have been up against him you get a variant of the thousand yard stare that is unique to having dealt with him.

Ask someone who survived the Dreamcatcher what it was like and you see them the redialling the number he did on them. Sometimes survival is a relative term — I have seen a grown man shit himself at the thought of the Pandora’s Box that was once opened up in his mind by this individual. Who needs big production values when you can tap into someone’s reality engine and generate whatever sick and twisted fantasy you want to? Whatever sensory stimulus drives the person you are attacking suggests itself by how their memories are organised and you, being a creature that innately understands dreams and memories and things of that nature, can play them like they were notes in a symphony.

I have been following for I don’t know how long. I have followed him through his serial killer phase; his counter-revolutionary phase; his hero of the people phase — through every single delusion that he sold himself and the poor unfortunates he has in his thrall. I have stomped after him with my leaden feet and it is as if I were some child chasing after a god. And who is to say that isn’t what he has become? He has his own mythology — his fact is stranger than most fictions, and he has miracles to back up any promise he makes. So perhaps his madness makes more sense than all our sanities put together. God, that is a scary thought. What if I have been charged with killing the one true god that has ever existed?

Am I David against Goliath? Jack the giant killer? Or am I Judas? Am I Lucifer? I hae to think in this way — to make myself some bound binary opposite. I believe I dwell in the grey areas always; introduce the machinations of grey matter and all the certainty evaporates. Perhaps I am just tired. I haven’t slept in so long. they put me on that machine and push me through a rapid cycle of REM sleep so I don’t die on my feet, but I am beginning to wonder if the lack of real honest to goodness sleep is starting to catch up with me. Perhaps I am sleep walking through this.

Do I need to stop? Sit down; lay my head on a pillow and rest? How can I trust that he won’t take my head in his hands, twist my world around his finger and throw me into a hell of believing all he tells me? But maybe if I throw a big enough dream at him and he catches it then it will infect him and I will win by reprogramming him. Can I make myself into some compressed supermeme, some viral cultural building block that will move like a retrovirus through his fabric, re-programming him into what he should be?

Perhaps that is the way. Perhaps. One can dream, can’t they? Can they? Damn, my eyelids are heavy all of a sudden.

Wake 1

‘We’re here to repossess your reality.’

‘Sorry?’

‘You haven’t been keeping up your payments so all this shit is down the tubes, mate — that’s what.’

‘But I don’t get it.’

‘Bingo. That’s right; you don’t get it.’

‘This is an intravenously administered existence and we’re pulling the plug.’

‘But my wife, my children …’

‘Your beautiful house … yeah, we get the picture. You ever heard that Talking Heads song? That’s you, that is. Time to wake up, sonny.’

His eyelids cracked, he felt like he hadn’t moved around in an age.

‘You haven’t moved around in an age — if that’s what you’re thinking. Taking Vicarious is akin to being in a coma. As part of the disconnection program we have to offer you a debriefing session — my advice is that you take it. Otherwise you are going to be plagued by the sense of losing something that was never yours in the first place.’

He was bent double in pain, in mourning, wondering what the hell had happened to his shiny future. He looked around him. His reality was a pristine hospital bed surrounded by the detritus of an abandoned life. He had wondered what that warm feeling in his belly was as he woke? A slowly spreading darkening shadow of piss on the front of his keks gave him an answer he didn’t want.

They hadn’t bothered maintaining anything except him for the money he had been shelling out to have another life. He had hoped that the money would last much longer — that he might be able to ride out this reality until he actually passed over. Death: that last big adventure. But he wasn’t terminally ill just a useless fuck up who had pissed away the last of his money on a fucking high.

He threw back the covers and got out of bed. Jesus Christ, he was too old to be waking from sleep having pissed himself. How long had it been since they had left? How long had he been sitting here with the knowledge that he had just spent however long immersed in a virtual reality? He didn’t know what the date was. He wasn’t sure if the calendar had been flipped. The time on the video was blinking which suggested that there had been a power outage at some point. He was lost but not lost enough. He felt something in his pocket, pulled it out, looked at the piss blurred telephone number of the place he was supposed to call to get reoriented.

This was his life — a piss-stained wake up call into nothingness. He had no job to go to, no doting wife, and no child. He also knew he didn’t have the balls to off himself — he’d thought about that before and had opted for a lie instead. No one wanted the truth. He had to go out and get a newspaper — find out what he had missed; try and catch up with a world that had left him behind a long time ago. But first: a shower and a change of clothes.