Sunday, 27 January 2019

Ink - Flash Fiction

Ink had become a rare commodity. As precious in value as pearls. With e-readers, the market wouldn't sustain for continued ink manufacture, while trees were being preserved through the lack of demand for paper. As alternatives, squid and octopi proved a short-term fill-in, but we'd hunted and fished them to extinction, just as we had with oysters.

E-reader titles were produced by computer programmes, Linguistic algorithms and rapid speed digital analysis of word and plot patterns in best sellers churned out the next big thing. Human authors were nearing the endangered status of the humble biro pen. Yet they still resisted, still sought to publish their writing wares. Samizdat made a comeback, mainly written in charcoal from barbecue briquettes. which made its publication rather seasonal in the Northern Hemisphere. If you were caught asking for barbecue stuff in winter, you could be arrested. Some authors shortcut the whole process and composed in their own blood and other bodily fluids, despite the disreputable echoes with certain performance art of the previous century. They wrote on toilet paper which tore easily beneath even their blunted nibs.

In time even toilet paper disappeared from circulation. Authors took to writing on stones and pebbles. returning to the prehistoric dawn of art. They took to the forests where they could forge their own supply of charcoal by burning wood. They decided to further reach back and commune with their ancient brethren, and took to caves. They cast stencils of the alphabet and then holding them against the rock to spell the words they were compounding, they chewed charcoal and breathed its fine powder over the stencil to form the text. Their very breath giving life to and preserving their art. Their expression. Samizdat was eclipsed for artefact and unlike the memory capacity of e-readers which demanded periodic purges, these books remained permanently in print.

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