Sunday, 26 February 2012

Going to sleep

They went to bed and fell asleep with Gilda, then they woke up with some crazy mixed up actress, so they said. Of course that would never happen these days. Gilda was just the figment of a writer's imagination, a character in a film noir plot, a shadow and an illusion. Some light and shade flickering on the tarnished silver screen, walking across, following directions and instructions, making a career and then blowing it. Dreams, illusions and reality, very hard to deal with when they get blurred and confused.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Obsessive drum

Watching yourself in mirrors, staring into that void and not seeing and then seeing but not recognising that foreign face and frame, the total loss of the sense of self. Making eye contact with a complete and nameless stranger who is travelling in some different and unknown direction but only exists within the confines of that reflected and forever cheating surface. The transparent trap that calls us with it's banal and unreasonable fascinations to move into a more murky place where consciousness and ego float like helium balloons, just out of reach and no more. I don't know why those images should be labelled as stupid, why is that the only word that will do? Stupid is as stupid does as it stupidly reflects and flashes back in it's red anger without question, perhaps that's the heart of the definition. Then there is the long borne out frustration in the called out attraction of the place and never being able to reach into it. Like deep water, like the patterns in a pool, like drowning in a teaspoon. Never quite forming or asking the right questions because there is no answer, only that obsessive drum beat that translates back to the heart. The fatally formed and flawed organ from which all other things must flow.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Free for all

Free for all Electricity: The large sign above the motorway declared that all lanes were clear and that traffic was flowing and of course, as ever “electricity is free”. It was a message that people all across the world had become used to, they hardly needed reminding, they took it all for granted. So the electrically powered traffic hummed along, all moving smoothly at an even and controlled speed, no real running costs, no breakdowns, all free and easy thanks to the great electrical revolution. It was a world operating and powered in ways that an old guard scientist like Tesla could only have dreamed of and it all worked.

People looked back on the historic moment that everything had changed, it was in 2014, May 16th. A huge electrical storm had raged across the equator, lightning strikes were continuous, wild fires ran out of control, systems and communications failed all over the world. Aeroplanes fell from the sky, ships sank, building crumbled and satellites tumbled into the heaving oceans. The storm climaxed at midnight, there was a huge explosion, almost everybody in the world heard it. Then there was a long and pregnant silence. People huddled together waiting for the end, others prayed, others rioted but slowly order was restored and the damage and the effect of the storm understood, gradually.

It became apparent that the storm had created a fundamental change in the earth's characteristics. A ring of power was now hanging in place across the former storm. Ten miles hight and a hundred miles wide, earth was ringed like Saturn but with one that has a unique and incredibly powerful impact on the planet. Over time the ring was explored and understood and, thanks to some revolutionary processes tapped into and milked. Power was free, power was infinite and power was global; certainly for all of the countries on the equator. No more coal, oil or nuclear energy, almost overnight the power stations shut down as the new source came on line and was joined to the web of grids that fed the freely harvested power all across the world.

The freely available power had of course created instability, the old order had lost it's financial and negotiating base, minor wars and skirmishes broke out, there were disputes and political instability. Nothing could however change the fact that the ring of energy was (with the correct technology) easily and freely tapped into. The old costs were the harvesting equipment and cabling and transformer infrastructure. Fortunes were made and lost, ownerships disputed but inevitably the truth and equalising impact of free power was realised. Industry and commerce demanded it, all people welcomed it and the tap was fully turned on.

So it was that Mike bowed his head, he was allowed a few moments reflection, his eyes were dry, his palms were wet. His stomach was full from the steak and eggs, the cold beer had quenched his thirst and those wise worlds and warm ancient spells echoed around in the emptiness of his head and heart. He looked into himself and reviewed and archived his memories, turned over recollections, pondered the mistake, the one big mistake. A man had died, an innocent man, a man who had simply been at the wrong place at the wrong time. Mike had killed him, fried him with the flick of a switch as the power harvester loom had been turned on. The pilot was on a routine inspection, nothing should have gone wrong and wouldn't have if Mike had waited just a few seconds before turning on the harvesting gear. But he hadn't. He'd pulled the lever but he didn't check, he didn't follow the procedure and the microlight had been hit by the huge surge of power shooting downwards from the ring into the holder. Not much remained as evidence but the incident was well documented and understood.

Now it was Mike's turn, society demanded it, the power (and the glory) had to be respected, the power's sanctity had to have prime place in the courts and via the legislators and lawyers. There was a very fine balance and discipline to maintain, that had all been part of the settlement, part of the worldwide agreement. Anything else could and would destroy the dream and that could not be allowed, it was all too costly, freedom, however it is described always has a price. Mike would take his punishment, irreversible, terminal, inhumane, painful but quick. Those who live by the power die by the power. He sat in the electric chair and reflected on those events a little more. The Empress prepared to pull the lever.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Perfect rapport

The book of obituaries

She was sure that death, when it came would follow a series of long, intense, blinding headaches. Sharp and blurry head pain was her expected herald of the end, a pain that was so pure, pitched at such a high point of sonic perfection that only the clear white light of death could follow. It was that moment of perfect rapport with eternal mystery that could only end with the one appropriate and final conclusion. She was staring at her face in the mirror, that caring and conflicted face that had stared back at her, always in the same frightened way. She concentrated on her features, the detail, looking into her own skin, beyond the pallid cheeks, the tired eyes, the shreds of yesterday’s make up, the lazy and limp curls that framed her face, all familiar but all still enjoyable and strange to explore. You never really know your own face any more than you ever know the back of your hand, “whoever made that silly observation?” she thought. How easy it must be to say something and have it scooped up and framed in some assumed profundity. Nobody really knows themselves, people surprise themselves all the time, I’m surprised to be here today, thinking these thoughts, feeling this bloody pain and unaccredited disappointment, she thought how good was to have the courage to face her thoughts.

The hurt inside her head was normal, familiar, she was normalising it, absorbing it  in a book, or by humming a song, reading an article or talking to birds or cats, strays that landed in her garden and lost themselves between her feet. She curled a wisp of hair around her finger and squinted at it close up, trying to make out the colours. The strain reminded of pain and the ache returned from it’s hiding place, somewhere just around the corner.

Smoking eased things, the poisonous aromatics of tobacco lightened her inner nasal passages, the smoke licking around inside her head, clearing the swollen and pink imagined breathing tubes. White puffs of hot rising air to toast the brain with a mild narcotic. She sucked the tip hard filling her mouth, throat and lungs, holding it in so the smoky fingers could get to work and stroke away that festering tension with their sticky massage. Again and again till all that was left was the inch and a half of brown stained filter tip with a red lipstick signature to complete the ending. It has worked but she was already counting the moments to the next cigarette or aspirin or cup of coffee, that’s how you navigate when the white light is calling you. These mild reference points and markers. Signs and wonders along the way. Relief anyway you find it. Inside her head she’s reading, devouring up the words they use so anatomically, so tragically to describe all those other lives, lives floating past in carriages or on escalators, in their hundreds and thousands, grey heads bowed down, children looking up, hats and bonnets. Badly written and unassuming, trivial and vital, spreading seeds and taking photographs, scraping the rust but then realising it’s all too late, the moment, the one that seemed to be lasting for so long has now passed. The pain has passed to, she’s reading again, all about herself, her exploits and loves and long periods of inactivity, conversations and turning away smiles. It’s all there, told as it happened but not as it really was, in the book of obituaries.