Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Slow, Slow, Quick, Quick, Slow - Flash Fiction

I was of an age to remember horse-drawn transport. Carts in the countryside, buses and carriages in the towns. The well-off villager had two-horse power locomotion. Now it’s god knows how many horse power engines beneath the hood. Nought to sixty in increasingly diminishing intervals. The country lanes are too treacherously maintained, the city roads too clogged with congestion, to ever justify the top speeds possessed by modern cars. Souped up overkill threatening to turn anyone into roadkill.

All my old records play at 78RPM. I say play, but of course these days I have no gramophone that can accommodate their revolving tempo. The speeds got slower and slower, 45RPM singles, three minute ditties for milk bar jukeboxes. 33RPM albums, which got shorter and shorter in terms of duration as the inside grooves took up more and more of the ever thinner vinyl. Now it’s all digital and there are no  moving parts. Vaporous music in the void. I could flog my collection, put them on E-Bay. Sell them to some other duffer with no means of amplifying their breakneck revolutions. Like two museums, one loaning their collection to another. 

Though the camera obscura and daguerrotypes might have predated my existence, I do recollect indoor studio family portraits as a child, when we were required to stand as still as statues for the long exposure time to capture us. Light not moving at light speed apparently, though of course the lag was in the chemicals catching and fixing it to the film. Well now we have digital cameras operating at near light speed as the image is virtually instantaneously loaded up to the Cloud. And as Einstein showed us, approaching light speed and you lose dimensionality. Front, back and side begin to merge together into a singular plane. Which is apposite as I cease to have much in the dimension of time front and sideways of me; all is to my rear. I face only the event horizon of the black hole that is death. Once I cross it, I will cease to move, yet there will still flicker motion in the memories of those I leave behind me, until that dips to stasis in time as they move on and uneventfully cross their own event horizons. 

I’m no longer able to dance the slow-quick-quick of the foxtrot. My legs don’t have the elasticity of step they were once imbued with. They have swollen up with disuse, water retention. But they are also loathe to palpate the taccycardic ticker in case it bursts. The fitted pacemaker parcels out a regular ration of beats for me, because the old greedy muscle would otherwise splurge on them all at once and infarct like a supernova. The doctors won’t tell me how many heartbeats I have left. Yet my offspring worry themselves over my sedentary snail’s lifestyle and have obtained for me a wrists-borne Fit-Bit. To get me a bit more fit, but not so much as to detonate my heart. It counts my daily steps for me, swapping permutations with the pacemaker. I am worried if I go near a cellphone tower, I will either pick up Radio Unfree Europe, or it will triangulate with my two inner chronometers to fatally accelerate me. What does any of it matter anyway? I don't have my wife to dance the foxtrot with, since her speed settings had been even more accelerated than my own.  

Ageing’s relativistic distortion of time. As our bodies move slower through life, our being hurtles swifter towards death. 

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