Thursday, 27 September 2012

Marc Nash In Da House - Friday Flash


"Marc Nash in da house people!"
Who?

marc nash is in his house, sat at his writing station. That place where more often than not, marc nash is to be located.

"Marc Nash, license to illeism."

marc nash isn't ill. marc nash is in the pink actually. And in the writing zone, on a real word tear-up.

"No, 'illeism'. I thought you were a master of words?"

marc nash credited you were using hip-hop speech. marc nash would suggest this points up the difference between the oral and the written word. Idiomashupsticks.

"So, why does Marc Nash constantly refer to himself in the third person?"

marc nash does no such thing.

"You don't say."

marc nash does say.

"Ipso facto ipseity"

marc nash proposes that just sounds like meaningless insufflation. It suggests a string of words, but scratch under the surface of noise and there is nothing there.

"Yes, better off leaving that sort of thing to the master. Tell me, referring to yourself in the third person is usually symptomatic of a deluded sense of self-importance is it not?"

Like any writer, marc nash's significance in the world is to be measured by the number of autographs and size of royalty payments. marc nash states here and now that these amount to none and pin money. Although clearly marc nash hopes that this will rise in number. But for the purposes of this intellectual exercise, therefore marc nash is not full of jumped-up self-importance. If only you could see marc nash's words written down, rather than vaporising through the microphone, you'd see that marc nash is always stated in lower case. marc nash has no presumptions above his station. marc nash's station remains that of the humble writing desk.

"Well that's another side of illeism, that it represents a sort of modesty, of not laying claim to yourself as an 'I' as somehow not meriting it."

marc nash would always start with the etymological root of any conception such as this. 'Modesty' is related to moderate, stemming from the Latin for both 'measure' and 'mode'. marc nash's writing is not 'measured' in any sense. Nor is it confined to mere modes of writing or genre.

"Oh but then surely Marc Nash must acknowledge the Structuralist argument that the writer is entirely a product of his own circumstances of upbringing, education and experiences and therefore has no free will in what he writes?"

marc nash rejects that conceit by the simple statement that marc nash has eschewed both his upbringing and inherited value system.

"Oh come on, what could be more tramlined than rejecting the values of your parents? Rebellion is utterly defined by what it is set up in opposition to. You have no say in what you create, maybe that's why you cannot lay claim to a first person identity with any surety? Or maybe it's a residual shame at what that first person represents and trying to distance yourself from it however vainly."

If marc nash may be permitted to take your argument to its logical conclusion, he finds only reductio ad absurdum there. Since you seem to be saying marc nash is merely some sort of automated word Turing machine, with a finite word store in memory laid down during his development, and a set of imbibed texts from other writers which he then proceeds to spin round like a washing machine word cycle to spew out 'new' texts of his own non devising?

"Well you are a self-confessed huge fan of music and isn't that what musicians do? Stand on the shoulders of their recent ancestors, armed only with a box full of records and reference and cut up and create afresh? But the idiom is finite."

marc nash offers that although words have rhythms, they are not closed mathematical systems. The possibilities for word combinations is endless.

"Is Marc Nash seriously having us believe that he refers to himself in the third person because it confers some sort of objectivity? That the subjective voice of Marc Nash thereby naturally feeds into a more universal truth?"

It is not for marc nash to say what is truth or not. It will be the verdict of the readers of marc nash texts.

"Which you've already conceded are few and far between. Perhaps this third person thing is more about trying to establish a brand? The need for self-promotion has hollowed you out away from your texts and into just the commodity of your name."

Who says marc nash is my real name?

"It's the names on the spines of your books."

marc nash books exist only on the ether in e-readers. They have no spines. The books of marc nash are fictional bodies.

"That sounds like dissociation to me. That Marc Nash is so cut off from reality and other people indeed, that he has wholly dissociated himself from the normal frames of reference, including how we address ourselves to others. You may be worryingly psychotic."

marc nash creates fictional beings on virtual paper. This does not make him schizoid, merely imaginatively creative. However, the fiction is enhanced because clearly these characters are representative of the mind of marc nash. marc nash is spilling the seed of himself into texts, but they are refracted versions of himself, therefore not quite fully-fledged first-person iterations. marc nash accordingly refers to them as 'he' or even 'she'. These characters are more important than the author marc nash, therefore the author marc nash cannot accrue more status than his characters. Ergo marc nash can only be third person like them, for to be first person would overwhelm and diminish them. Added to that is that marc nash (author) is not even marc nash's real name, but merely a nom de plume. In that sense, marc nash is truly a third person to whoever the first person "I" is that lies behind the persona conjuring up 'marc nash'.

"Well that makes two of us then, since I'm not a real radio DJ and this 'interview' is merely an idle daydream on your part as you both procrastinate and leap ahead to the ridiculous fancy that you will attain such status as to engender radio interviews."

marc nash has left his house and is on route for the pub.

"This next one is a dedication, De La Soul's, 'Me, Myself and I'."

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

The Unfathomable Nature Of Creativity

I hadn't gone there with the intention of emerging with a story of my own. I'd gone to support and hear a friend of mine's poetry. Poetry is like cinema for me, an artistic medium a milllion miles removed from the prose fiction I write, so I can actually enjoy it on its own merits, unlike reading a novel which I always have half a professional eye when reading.

I sat through the first couple of poets and then my friend came on and immediately sucked me into her words and delivery, transporting me away from my surroundings in the small venue. But then she uttered the word 'fuselage' and my creating brain kicked me back into the moment. 'Fuselage' is rather a fine word in that there is no ambiguity to it. It can only conjure up the notion of an aircraft. Unlike other words which have several shades of different meanings. And yet it's also a slightly unusual word that doesn't tend to crop up everyday. Its poetic qualities had been deliciously employed by my poet friend. To dsiasterous effect on me as it turned out.

Since the word had set off a cascade of associations and images in my head that took me out of her recital. The notion of aircraft resonated in my head with 9/11, a perhaps non-too surprising association. Yet in my mind, it had already become mutated to a toy airplane built out of Lego. Don't ask me how or why. It wasn't an image I'd been playing with prior to this. The human mind makes links and affinities so rapidly, there is simply no keeping up with, or grasping of it.

The word 'fuselage' resonated in my head as a plane without wings. Wings that had been stripped off. Somehow the alchemical processes of the mind mutated this into a Lego plane. Not one of those intricate Lego designs either. Merely an 8 block piece with another perpendicular 8 block serving as wings. It wasn't even clear to me if there was a tail on this most primitive of forms. No cockpit, pilot or wheels. But it manifested as an image of a Lego plane crashed into a Lego tower building.

There was my central image and immediately the lines started flowing to flesh it out. Again I had no notion of this theme, of Lego play, crashed airplanes or anything buzzing around my head in the lead up to this. I played some of the lines over in my head to reinforce them and make sure they 'set' in my memory like wet concrete. Then I sat through the last poet before the interval struggling to even listen to his words above the clamour of the sentences taking shape in my own head and proceeded to go off for some noodles and small talk with my poet friend.

I managed to not get distracted by the seething crucible of words and ideas for the duration of the meal, but once we'd parted and I was back on the London Underground, I proceeded to take out my Moleskine notebook and write the whole story straight through, or at least 90% of it anyway.

In the interim, my creative processing mind had moved the plot on to the notion of a little boy building a Lego tower and experimenting and learning about the fundamentals of construction as this was his first concerted effort to master the task and his tools. That conflated into him also being an architect, that god-like creative power young children have when they are at play and weilding their imaginations to transform their toys into whatever they make of them. The conception of raising a tower gave the peice its form and rhythm. This wasn't to be in paragraph form, but line strata upon strata, rising and accumulating. The notion of a tower and a pre-lingual child also allowed me to insert a little bit about Babel and language. Then that slotted into the destructiveness of little boys as he crashes and razes his own towering creation and provided me with the conclusion and the final line bringing it back to the Twin Towers as something he possibly saw on TV and was re-enacting here.

All of that sprung from god knows where on the back of a single word uttered in the midst of a poetry recital. If I hadn't have been paying rapt attention and somehow missed that word, would the story have ever emerged and existed? I have no idea, maybe something else might have prompted it, but I doubt it. I am none the wiser that even with the catalyst of the word, where all the things about a child buildinbg a toy tower and crashing a plane into it emerged from. It wasn't something I was ever consciously thinking about and yet it must have been there somewhere in my mind, even as a set of disparate thoughts that this one word 'fuselage' was able to knit together into a coherent image.

I remain completely baffled but unutterably thankful that this is how creativity often seems to work.
You can read the finished product below. It made its way into my first collection of flash fiction pieces as the final one of 52 flash stories that I wrote. And was possibly the quickest of them all to pen.



Basic Geometry



The boy is playing with his Lego bricks.

A grand architect working his dinky fingers

Thinner than the plastic parallelograms he manipulates

He mounts one atop another

Feeling, friction rubbing the bulbous tips

Searching for the hidden holes beneath till they snap home

In timeworn Euclidean geometry

Mortise and tenon, interlocking and binding

The colours are charmingly brightly random

Yellow crests red underscores blue fades into black

All perched on a thin flat base

Manufactured green to suggest the verdant

When where he lives is submersed in grey concrete.

He's building upwards now.

Modestly ascending for the heavens in small steps

Lips pursed, tongue just extruding with rapt concentration

The master builder with no picture in his head.

Virtually pre-lingual he knows words

But cannot yet assemble sentences into the air

He likes the word 'sky', unknowingly fumbling towards its suffix

As he scrapes the plastic bucket of seemingly limitless bricks

Across the floor towards closer reach

The intelligent designer just happened on some more axioms of geometry

The reach of his arm, the length of a cubit

The boxer's tale of the tape.

Resolute now, fabricating vertically brick upon brick

One block in width only

A coloured DNA map of his unformed, boundless mind

A Tower of Babel beyond the forfeit of language.

He has an innate discomfort of unaesthetic asymmetry

When an eight stud block gets bound against studs five and six of its overlooker

He cannot abide the overhang

His jaw set firm as he repairs the lip hanging over the void...

Elevating higher, yet higher towards the unfocused notion of heaven

He is amused that it sways

A basic fundamental about foundational and spreading the load

Yet the plastic edifice holds its stability

He stays his creative hand

Perhaps his pinched fingers ache from the sustained production

He pads backwards on his posterior

To view his erection with perspective

Is he proud? Is he awe-struck?

We cannot yet be certain of his fledgeling emotional range.

Now he grasps two longitudinal pieces, twelve spots both

He crosses one over the other and locks them in perpendicularly

His building soars, but now he can fly

He rams the plane into his tower

The high rise collapses beneath the assault

Just like the Jenga game his sister plays.

The plane breaks apart at its fulcrum

A lesson in physics, but one beyond his tender ken

He sifts among the rubble

Apparently delighted with something about the outcome

He sets about rebuilding the structure

Assimilating what he has learned about breadth

This time he deliberately courts overhang as he fashions gaps

For he has plumped for glassless windows

Holes he has recalled from watching the Jenga unfold

Though his are sightless, giving on only to the interior of his tower

But all in all, this construction is smoother, more practiced

The tower is hoisted up in double quick time

He recasts the plane

Declines to put a tail on it, maybe because he has never been on one

Pincered between his fingers, he flies it in the airspace above the column

He increases the imaginary throttle

And drives it hard into the heart of the tower.

The wing-piece is stripped off, but the fuselage stays lodged

In the finally calibrated inbuilt window

The tower wobbles, but stays standing

Yet the slow fuse of combustion has been lit within him

He skips out the room for some refreshment to slake his thirst.

What have we learned here today in the living room?

Some geometry, some physics, a love of destruction and aesthetic ambiguity

Thus is the groundplan of hell laid down in his mind

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Urban Renewal Cubed - Friday Flash


A panoramic eyesore. A blot not just on, but which wholly constituted the landscape, blotting out all sunlight behind its monstrous compass. This housing estate a prototypical design for living back in its proud flesh heyday, garnering architectural prizes. Yet for those denizens forced to dwell there, it represented nothing but a suppurating sore of violence, degradation and stunted horizons.

Nonetheless, today it was coming down. Walls purged of graffiti, in order to have 'marked for demolition' daubed on them instead. Raised by geometrically theoretical architects without reference to the asymmetries of human life, now their grandiosely rash vision was being razed to the ground. The final Euclidean lines, being those as the dynamite blasted the buildings plumbline straight in an elegant curtsy.

However the residents weren't being returned their lives. Having inhabited this area their entire existence pre the pre-fabrication, as well as during it, now they were to be further-flung. More atomised than the levelled bricks and steel.

Over the settling mounds of rubble, the pallid sun emerged from its thirty years of eclipse. The wind no longer had the stilts to whistle through like a bowling alley and skittle any human pedestrians. Earmarked for reconstruction, the site would first have to be cleared of debris, the guilty town planners surveyed about their gross failings. But neither took place. The city fathers' coffers had run dry of money to redevelop anything, while the master builders had hightailed their way into academic tenure. Lecturing the next generation of urban blighters, while sat in oak-panelled Medieval collegial towers.

*

The city's antiquity had taken away visitors' breath for centuries. Approached from the hills, the vista opened up into the spangling splendour of its domes, spires and minarets. Yet the stucco had plastered over the cracks. Frozen enmities glazed behind the friezes. Grudges moulded over the centuries now hard set into the cornicing.

Some of the houses had still borne the stigmata of a painted red cross to indicate Gothic plague. Well now all the houses bled with the pestilence brought down on everyone's heads. Furious fusillades of neighbour against neighbour.

Since the mosaic of races had started to unravel. The hand-woven gaily coloured welcome mats, no longer adorned domicile entrances. Only piles of sandbags instead. Once harmonious pediments, pockmarked through the impedimenta of military ordnance, triangulated through their cross-haired sights up in the hills. The picaresque daubed facades now pebble-dashed by shrapnel. Bricks and mortar torn up by Realpolitik's mortars raining fire.

Brightly coloured houses were gouged by the scorched carbon trails of shells. Rendered further drab by blackout drapes, tarpaulin and camouflage netting between the husks of houses, likely secreting a gun emplacement. The miscegenated colours of the city's terracotta and slate, now uniformly turned sombre olive or grey. Telescopic theodolites surveying for urban clearing, by way of ethnic cleansing. The clot that never heals.

*

He sat on the window sill staring up at the wan disc of the sun. It had yet to burn through the clouds, so flattening it against their filmy shroud. The moment it did so, he risked the sun also burning through his retinas. He thought he might rather welcome that.

Resembling little more than a stage lighting gel, he tried hard to imagine the sun as a seething ball of nuclear fusion. Nothing but brute raw power, smashing of atoms and remaking matter into energy. He speculated on the sound all that elemental pounding would forge. His own fire roared as it burned its pipe-fed gas in a humble Newtonian and Charles' manner. Yet such rumbling was outmuscled by the hiss of the gas valve releasing it into the duct.

But then he recalled that there was no air out in space. That it therefore lacked for a medium for the sound to be carried. The light energy from the sun could pass unhindered, yet the energy converted into sound died on solar lips. Much like the voice of god.

The creeping advance of the light had woken the birds. Their aubade broke out across the trees. Flowering and nourished under the sun's tentacular reach. A programmed growth and an instinctual repertoire of song. An adaptive symbiosis between bird and tree. Light the conjuror summoning striking everything into life.

He sensed that the sun was growing stronger, its orange hue intensifying. He closed his eyes, but a corona was still imprinted on his retinas in an after-image. Like scar tissue. With his eyes still rammed shut, he rubbed the skin over his forearm. It was bumpy and welted from when he had sat here before and simply driven his arm out through the window glass, gashing it sufficiently to engulf the feelings swirling around inside his head. Trying to attain the zenith of touch, to promote it to the perigee of his constellated senses.

The blood transfusions he'd required to prop him alive. Somebody else's pith and plasma coursing through him, yet he felt nothing different from before. The delightful tug of the synthetic thread of  the stitches long gone now. Something not him intimately welded to his skin, until they dropped away. Then there was the plaster cast set in place to thwart his wanton unpicking, to let the ravaged tissue heal. A protection from himself. His so-called loved ones had adorned his false cast with their signatures. Peeled off and disposed of when the cast came off. But they'd had the last laugh when he came home from his hospital sojourn and found that his mother had organised for the broken glass to be replaced. Didn't they understand that he was engaged in trying to alter his very own fabric? Yet they persevered in the notion that the house and every other surface appearance was to be restored to familiarity. When all he wanted was to forge a new seam.

He'd garnered some satisfaction from the wound's raised fibrous gnarl. And still he picked at it remorselessly. Piquing the baby pink keloidal skin. He was desperate to override its code. His code, that DNA programme which recloned him time after time. He yearned to cast himself anew. Even if only this tiny portion of his arm. If successful, there would be other vitreous panes and glass shards to recontour his body. The gorgeous scar tissue that reverberated constantly under his sleeve. That fired his nerves and suggested that he was alive. With touch finally at the apex of the hierarchy of sensation. Eclipsing the light. The sound of nuclear fusion in his ears from across the void.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Call Me - Telephone Tunes

1) Blondie - "Hanging On The Telephone"
Blondie also had a song "Call Me" so she was definitely the queen of all things telephone.


2) The Jam - "Girl On The Phone"
This was the opening track of their semi-concept album "Setting Sons" and is in all truth a bit of a flimsy thing compared with some of the other relly strong sons on that album. But obviously pre-call centres, some poor telephonist had irritated the Modfather sufficiently to have a song penned to her by Angry of Woking...


3) The Fall - "Telephone Thing"
Mark E Smith was always ahead of the game musically and this collaboration with electronic dance samplers supreme Coldcut showed he was a prophet yet again. God knows what the thundering bass Fall fans made of it, but this is one of my top 10 Fall tracks.


4) Cop Shoot Cop - "Disconnected 666"
Industrial band Cop Shoot Cop sample that gets right inside your head and drives you mad. In order to soften you for the twin bass rumble that would inevitably follow in the next song.


5) The B52s - "6060-842"
This is not one of the better known B52s tracks, evidenced by there seeming only two videos of it on YouTube. The number is imaginary by the way...


6) MIA - "U.R.A.Q.T."
No idea what this song is about, but it does start off blethering about mobile phones... This one's more about texting though


7) Kraftwerk - "The Telephone Call"
You just knew there'd be a Kraftwerk tune in this right? It's in German so I have no idea what they're actually singing, but it's Kraftwerk so it works for me...


8) The Undertones - "You Got My Number"
Maybe not strictly about the telephone, since it's about not calling someone, but this song I think is criminally overlooked against the triumvirate of mighty Undertones singles, "Teenage Kicks", "Jimmy Jimmy" and "My Perfect Cousin". But this is great right? I said RIGHT?


9) Maceo - "Nextel Chirp"


10) Pete Shelley - "Telephone Operator"
I hated the 80s and all that synth music. This strangely enough sounds like Stan Ridgway's Wall of Voodoo, so it's okay


11) Steely Dan - "Rikki Don't Lose That Number"


Thursday, 13 September 2012

Quantitative Easing - Friday Flash


The man was bigger than he had adjudged from TV and newspapers. Not that it made any difference really. He wasn't sufficiently anatomically apprised to be making adjustments in his thrust.

He would only get one stab at this. Whether it proved to be fatal or not was irrelevant, it would certainly prove cataclysmic. And injurious of course, it had to prove injurious to him. But this wasn't to be a frenzy and a flurry. Self-control had to be maintained in full. His act had to buy him an audience with the man. For he was too grandiose of office to attend to his constituents in his weekend surgeries, but had lackeys do it for him.

Besides he himself wasn't a constituent, not in this affluent neck of the woods. Once, when he still believed in Parliamentary Democracy, he'd written to an MP who was introducing a Private Member's Bill which was utterly oppressive to certain sections of society. The MP had curtly replied, telling him to take it up with his own local MP. He then wrote back again to say that since this was his own personal piece of legislation, he ought to shoulder the responsibility of answering all correspondence arising from it. The MP never did him the courtesy of a second reply.

That was the thing about our representatives, other than once every five years, they didn't really give the populace the time of day. And yet they proclaimed we were all in it together. This was errant nonsense of course. Even in times of a booming economy, there was a rump of the deprived and dispossessed. Left utterly cut off from any trickle down of wealth and which the government continued to neglect and positively shun even when blessed with resources to try and re-embosom them. But now of course, in time of total economic misery, those struggling and suffering become swelled in number. The rump is now formed of those insulated by their wealth and protected by alarm systems and steel gates.

Well, with a humble three inches of flashing steel, an implement we used to manufacture for ourselves only the factories and ore plants were sold off for scrap the last time this Party were the government, he was going to demonstrate that they could not hope to remain separate and aloof any more. That's why the knife was so apposite. Him holding the handle at one end, his target snagged at the blade's point. There was no dodging that indelible connection.

He leaped out at his target and thrust hard. The man's shock seemed to be still interlaced with looking down his nose at his assailant's breach of decorum. But then he started bursting out in sweat and his nose seemed to be dissolving, much indeed like a toffee. His shirt may have been blue, but his blood wasn't. The two men were ineluctably merged, the man's blood staining his own jeans. Right, the conjunction made, his captive audience skewered on the end of his tempered steel, time to cut to the point.

"As Chancellor of The Exchequer, what is it that you can do? Quantitative easing, but only to a limited degree, because we don't want to sink into the state of Weimar Germany and have to cart a wheelbarrow of banknotes around just to buy a loaf of bread. Then there's all those foreign junkets you take, parachuting in a Royal Prince, in the hope of landing some lucrative foreign contract. Nice work if you can get it. Don't see a lot of trickle down to the likes of me though. Maybe if I worked in an arms factory. And then third, since there's really not a lot you can do to foster growth, instead you look to make cutbacks and savings. The economics of austerity behoving the soothing mantra that we're all in it together. Only what services do you choose to cut? The NHS, but if you don't die on me, it won't be their services you'll be calling on will you? The police, god last summer's riots should have shown you what that leads to, feel secure now do you? There's blood on your manicured lawn here. Drains, Trains and water supplies, how can we a first world country that receives so much rainfall be suffering drought? Immigration officers made redundant so that any terrorist is almost free to wonder through overburdened passport control. And tax inspectors, so that corporations and your rich pals get off paying virtually nothing. Yet in their chronic mismanagement of the economy, still they award themselves unspeakable bonuses and pay rises, because they're private businesses and your government refuses to intervene in their affairs. Find the money from them. if they don't like it and hightail it for foreign climes, then they won't clog up the queues of people waiting to get back in the country then will they?"

The man was trying to speak, but his words were being serrated by his labouring breath, which the other noted was less than perfumed. When they did emerge as a croak, this was not the plummy, rarefied voice he was used to hearing pronounce from the Despatch Box in Parliament.

"War-ter... War-ter-nnn..."

Still no please or thank you the other thought to himself, but the tone was less than imperious and scarcely imperative.

"Do I look as though I'm the type of person who can afford to indulge in buying bottled water? I'm told that explorers can drink their own urine in extremis, but if I unzipped my trousers here and now, I think it would send out the wrong message entirely. I don't want to humiliate you, as much as equalise you. Quantitative equalising it might even be called. Besides, I don't have a silver spoon to ladle the water between your lips, while yours seems to have dropped out somewhere in the grass".

The man slumped forward into the arms of his adversary.

"See I here and now renounce my citizenship of the country you have been charged with the privilege of overseeing. I feel what few rights and benefits to membership of such a civilised society have been progressively stripped away by you and your ilk, so that there is simply nothing left worthy of subscribing to. No values and no value. Consider this severance as my notice to quit."

The man silently bubbled some blood on to the hand holding the knife. He took it for a seal of accord.

Yes, we are finally all in this together he thought to himself as he gently lowered him to the ground, the man's head resting in his lap. He was bleeding out like the country had too. He waited for the police to arrive, though with the drastic reductions to manpower, he expected a rather long wait.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Strings Attached - Friday Flash




He was folded in on himself. Head bowed into his chest, four limbs limply gathered in together at his knees. With a starburst, his arms and legs splayed out. They waggled to shake out their sag. They rippled with stiff tension. One of his arms incised a noble arc to a point above his head. His leg raised and bent at the knee. He looked like a matador poised for the final thrust. His head reared back like a cobra about to strike. But his subsequent movements were far from silky. His elevated hand snaked out in front of him. Its quivering motion cloaked his true intent. A confusion of brazen summons and pitiful entreaty. His opposite leg kicked out like an involuntary spasm. He looked like he was going to collapse inwards once again, but he caught himself and stood ramrod straight and still. Then he burst into an antic frolic. A whirligig of arms and legs slicing through the air. His hands thrown up and flapping down like ascending a ladder, though he remained at an even level. His legs pumped equally uselessly through the air, scaling an invisible staircase. The blur of motion was hurting her eyes, she felt dizzy and there was a slight taste of nausea rising up her throat. She tilted her gaze upwards beyond his crown.

There her eyes were snagged in lines carving through the air. The light was being deflected from them as they were a blur of motion. She saw that they were thin silken wires. Furrowing, refracting with their tension and release. They didn't veer much from the vertical, plunging and recoiling with the tilt of the metal bar from which they were threaded. She could envision the amplified movements of the figure beneath their moorings, though the manipulating strings' shifts and displacements were far more contained. Funny to think such a nuanced manoeuvre from on high, a mere flexion in a single wire arrested by another cable, invoked such an exaggerated behaviour from below. She was put in mind of plucked harp strings. But when another bar with fewer strings, one she deduced controlled the legs, was brought perpendicular to those hanging down, it more resembled a bow gliding across a violin. Knowing what they controlled and articulated, now the threads took on the form of an external nervous system. Twitching, pulsing, transmitting their signals down their trajectory. Inciting mechanical reactions in the wooden limbs moored at their culmination. The lumpish, leaden body underscored as a mere vessel, through the convulsive vital flutterings of the silky lattice above. For all its seeming capering, it was dumbly relaying the forces imparted to its armatures.

And higher yet, on up towards the divine. The arch conductor. Two hands jabbing the air like pecking birds. The dimpling skin between thumb and index finger as they tapped out their Morse code movements transmitted down the wires. Muscles and ligaments contracting and bulging at the surface of the skin. Raised veins mimicking the unseen strings trailing below. The wrist bobbing and convoluting like a cobra before the charmer's undulating pipe. All the pirouetting grace originating in the delicate movement of the fingers. Summoning almost deferential recesses in the body of the hand.

If he could bring that blockish clump of wood to life, make it respond and dance, why couldn't he do the same to me? Finesse me with the play of his fingers. Dab and palpate my sinew, membrane and synapse. But he has eyes only for his marionette. I would cut the strings of course. Set fire to the doll, watch its body blacken. And I would bring an iron bar down across his hand. But I would want to do all three manipulations simultaneously and that is beyond my dexterity.



this story is from my third collection of flash fiction


Available from Amazon for Kindle free to download 3rd-7th June 2016

Sunday, 2 September 2012

I'm Daleking the New Doctor Who Episode- But...

I have been no fan of how Dr Who has gone since Russell T Davies handed the reins over to Steven Moffat, but last night's first episode of the new series was I felt the best to date under Moffat's stewardship. The writing of Owsin's unwinding fate was full of humanity and pathos and beautifully played by actress Jenna-Louise Coleman to bring a subtle depth to her story.

However, there were a few plot and logic holes I just wanted your take on to see if I am entirely on the wrong track.

1) Why would the daleks even have a parliament? I don't see them as a race given over to the Disptach Box, filibustering and voting lobbies. They are a race based on strict hierarchy and unbending discipline to their leaders orders. They are also a collective hive mind for coming to decisions. Ergo, no need for a Parliamentary talking shop.

2) The idea of psychotic daleks is a tautology I would have thought. I like the idea of daleks broken by war and other extreme stresses. But how can that make them hate even more than your common and garden dalek does already? Hate has a very limited spectrum, because it's such an extreme position to occupy in the first place. Daleks are a collective race of psychopaths, solely interested in exterminating anything that isn't a dalek. Daleks going postal might drop off the hive mind, which might make them a threat, but if they're still hell-bent on destruction it feeds into the overall plan anyway doesn't it? A really dangerous dalek, as shown by Dr Oswin, is one that lurches into love and opera...

3) The notion that the daleks could be scared of these other daleks doesn't add up? Daleks don't fear anything. They will happily immolate themselves in order to try and take out the Doctor with them as we saw. Amy Pond was also advised that feeling scared was a good way to counter her conversion to dalekism, because "Scared isn't dalek".

4) If the Doctor calculated that as a Time Lord, or someone filled with so much repugnance towards the dalek that he could never succumb to conversion, then why did he wait so long to switch wristbands with Amy to protect her? Why didn't he do it as soon as she discovered hers had been wrenched from her wrist?

5) If the abduction of the Doctor was so easy by these dalek puppets, why haven't they done it before and on an occasion when they didn't have to keep him alive but could actually kill him? If I'm not mistaken, this is the first time we'd seen these dalek puppets and while the nanobot conversion was a brilliant idea and gave us the whole Oswin storyline, I'm not sure they worked beyond her. The zombie puppets of the dead crew were risible. Why were the kidnapping puppets given privileged admittance to the dalek Parliament, surely they are too untermenschen for that? The clue is in the word 'puppet', not usually a thing of any great status.

6) Why would the insane asylum daleks be granted the technology to both scan Oswin to see that she is a genius and then be able to convert her to a dalek? Even if they had acquired such technology without the knowledge of their sane cousins, were they not too addled to be able to co-operate and hatch such a plan?

7) How did the Tardis appear on the Dalek ship at the end? The Doctor said he was a pinpoint teleporter, but he'd also said the range was only as far as the orbiting dalek ships and unless I missed it, the daleks hadn't snatched his tardis when they snatched him. Therefore he couldn't have first teleported to his Tardis and then gone to the dalek ship could he?