Fell Shufflers

The synchronised shuffle of chairs sheeesh, bok, bok… Not a note out of place it was the loudest sound in this room and bounced of its hidden ceiling to disturb a century’s restful dust. Speaker spoke the usual meetings, as was his concern, named those present and thumbed roughly at each of them, “Chancellor of the Brief; Cabinet Witch; Minister for Fashion and Agriculture…” he went on, and on, until reaching the shufflers.
“The Ambassador; Ambassador; Ambassador;..”
The point of the triangle of dark figures, fell shufflers, stood sharply and briefly from his chair, “We are singular, thank you. Address me as such.”
Speaker turned to Negotiations and Parks with the distinct look of who the fuck is this guy and a harder thumb than usual. A nod from his superior and the thumb burst into a spread palm of supplication and he sat down and opened his news sheet.
The Polite Cough was passed from seated to seated, bouncing around to a lively 3/4 ba dum dum, but their excitement at the ambassadors made them trip over and steal each others’ part to rising frustration. The hacking breath became terse and patronising and continued its quiet routing until people started to notice that the ambassador had stood up.
“I simply come to deliver this message:” his hand disappeared into the expertly tattered vestments and pulled out a knife like a shepard’s crook, with a handle of cheap plastic, and passed it back along the formation of ambassador who reached forth and neatly dismembered him. Arms, head then legs. The arterial spray made their dark clothes seem like thick night, the Officer for Incorrectness next to them cleaned his glasses as politely as possible.
After the meat fountain had settled the knife wielding ambassador hid it away once more and straddled his fallen self.
“Lord Gerard would like you to know that he is neither eccentric nor strange, but competent, rigorously argued, and carrying conviction.”
Together they turned, pivoting around the new point of the formation, and marched out the room. After a shocked silence the coughing continued.

Don't use the zed word

     He walked passed the wall every day on his way to the club. This time of year the reanimate were reflecting the sunrise in dew, their black helmets spotted like frost with track marks where the water had run down from their occasional twitching. He wondered if they got stiff, they were certainly more peaceful in the morning after a cold night. Sometimes they wouldn’t even follow you with their eyes, just look at the pavement a few metres ahead of them, maybe flexing their jaw like they were practising a speech. That was the worst. In the past few years EvaCor had started removing the vocal cords from the domestic models to stop them alarming people and make them more popular with civilian security forces. Instead they panted like dogs, an altogether more sinister sound to hear from the security alcove in your apartment tower. The guards he had passed every day were newer, fancier. Their uniforms were smart and sharp, they didn’t slouch and they didn’t pant. Instead they had black plastic pads over their faces, riveted into the bone. All they could manage through them was a slight whistle when you walked too close, no more than the sound of whistling through teeth. 
     Today there was something new at the wall. In the night the M-techs had set up what looked like lampposts with multiple heads, but where bulbs should be were pipes dangling down and splitting into smaller wires. Each attached to the mouth of one of the reanimate and they all swayed unevenly from side to side. Together they watched him like babies looking up from a teat.

On The Move

“Did you hear? Jublient is rising.”
Kevin had heard it on the lips of every walker and sop-seller trying to build a quick, profitable rapport with the village. “He’s bringing back the fun times, the gravy train will return.” Now would we like a tamlic neck bead to help complete our set? How about a bottle of claymore, guaranteed to get the native girls a-buzzing round your head like botflys? Mo always told him to steer past these oil traders and snake merchants with their split tongues and big hats, steer past and keep on walking to the well and back. Fetch the water, pop the seems and bring us back some time. Mo always used the old words, older than she had much right to use; she wasn't grey and she wasn't crooked and she didn't sit by the fire with the children because she was kept out of the smoke house. Some of the children didn’t even know that she was Kevin’s mo, she belonged to them all and gave them stories and stories. Stories about the Mountain Carnival and the fat-dark-thick winds, stories about the Uncles and what they did when they went to the lakes after the freeze. She knew stories, and she knew a hokey story when she heard one, which is what she claimed the sleeveless travellers sold us, “they can cut their sleeves until all that’s have left is a bra, but they’ll still have something up it.”


To sustain my blithering withering mind during a large-ish project I'll be returning to making  these tiny cries for help every day or so. It's hard when the times between being able to say "screw it, that's good enough" are long, and this has been months. My brain is falling away like wet bread under the constraints of having to return to the same stubborn piece of work, where the troubles of the day before are also the troubles of today and more than likely tomorrow.

It's so nice to abandon things again.