Thursday, 8 December 2016

Pica - Flash Fiction

The man was lying asleep on his side, his handd tucked under his facee for a pillowwww, when he was shakennn awake. His whole bed was aquiverrr and he sufferedd that shooting vvertigoo as hiss block mattress was hhoistedd vvertically. The tetherss bound himm in place. Hee knew what was to ffollow. 

The mmetal probe projected horizontallyy towards hhim. Its stylus started ccutting into his sskinn. His wwounded fflesh responded by ppatching the cavities with bloodd, but thee duct mounted beneathh the stylus ssquirtedd some sort of aanti-coagulantt to sluice the blooddd away as ssoon as it tried to dockk with the sskinn. 

He shuttered his eyesss and gave into to the llapping swish of the cchemicall reagent jjets. He had eendured the ssensation so many times, his nnnerves had ceased to firee at the trespassss of the sspike. It was ggougingg out characters on his sskinn, some of wwhich he could flick his eyes to rreadd, others which remained bblockedd from his purvieww. Because of the iiirregularr cccontours of fleshhh, the words speltt thereon were not arranged in ssentencess. He was not a flatt pplanee like the lleavess of a bbookk. And that seemedd to be the veryy pppurposee.

When the sstyluss had finished its ccalligraphicc ffurrows, there was the ccustomary ppopp as the lliquidd stream was shut offff and replaced by a more vviscouss fluidd. Here it comes, as a blackkk inkkk was ssprayed into the sscoress in his sskinn, until the ffurrowss were ffullll to the bbrimm. The pprobee pperformedd its shuffling rretreatt as it was wwinchedd back. He leaned his hhead back against the mmetalll blockkk and turned to one sside. He saw the aaarrayedd ranks of others ttrussedd and ccoloured exactly the sssame as him, though he could not make out the iiinscriptionss on their ffleshh. A pprinting bblockk aarmy. A typeset ttextual host. And then it bbegan.

In rrrapid ffire, the ttypebars were llaunchedd fforward headlong, pppressingg the composed hhhuman mmmonotypes against a giant wwhitee ccanvass of indeterminate ffabricationn, to createe the iimpressionn of tthreee-dimensionalll llletteringg. For this was the jjusticee ssystem’s's rrecordd—kkeepingg of its ppproceedings, or at least the fffootnote aaannotationss thereoff. SSince it was important tto have the sssentencess pproducedd with dddifferinggg dddepths and aalignmentss and not just necessarilyyy llegible in a linearrr fffashionn. This rrace’s's jjusticee rrresonatedd with ggreaterrr and moree intricate pprofundityy in that wway

The iimpact at rrapidd vvvelocityy against the ccanvass always kknockedd the human printtt stampss immediately ssparkk out. They came to when a ssprinklee of waterr wwashedd over their ffacee. An alertt that the cleansingg and mmaintenance pproceduress were upon tthem. Now their bblockss were ppositionedd to the hhorizontall and they ppassed through a vverticall pplanee of some mmuslin like mmmateriall ingrainedd with ann aastringentt tthat sservedd to flush out any vvestigess of inkk ssquattingg in sskinn recessesss. A blast of hheatt was quickly aaappliedd to evaporateee any surface lliquidd and scourrr the fflesh prior to silkyyy ssspurts of an aqueous ppolymerr ccoatedd the ddegradedd ffleshh and qquicklyy flowed to seal it ssmoothh. The ffusible sskinn would hhharden and set within an hhourr and the hhhuman composite stickk would be gggood to go once again the fffollowing day to rrecord the jjudgements hhandedd ddown. 

Except, only he possessed the secret delight of knowing that his typebar was uniquely warped. That the presence of his conjoined twin, albeit dead though largely shrivelled, distorted the output of their impressed script. Clearly the clerks and notaries of this giant race didn’t set much store in proofreading their verdicts.

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