A beautiful girl lived here

“Her Story Written in Disappearing Ink.” CC2.0 photo by Michael Shaheen.

“Her Story Written in Disappearing Ink.” CC2.0 photo by Michael Shaheen.

A beautiful girl lived here.

Lithe and supple, her willowy curves had been traced by many an eye as she glided along the dark, grimy streets and alleyways of this old town.

The hearts of men were quickened by furtive glances at the roundness of her bosom, barely contained it seemed ‘neath her corset, bobbing up and down with each step.  The eyes of women narrowed and their lips curled not only at the weakness of their menfolk but at their own powerlessness against this force of nature.

Her eyes glittered as bright as the jewellery her suitors had attempted to ply her with, her hair shone as bright as her smile and whenever she entered the room her laughter filled it and everybody present with light and joy.

Her blood and entrails gleam brightly now, ‘pon the moonlit cobbles.

She was worthy.

Her soul shall nourish the dragon, that it might live anew.

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Long in the tooth

“Hey Reynolds, you’ve won the investigator lottery again!” said Slater as he slapped a file down on my desk. My eyes traced a line from my cluttered desk to his pear shaped body and followed the egg stains on his cheap tie up to his fat grinning face. “Congratulations buddy!”

As I smiled I felt phlegm form a smouldering ball in my chest and grip the inside of my scalded lungs, felt blood rising to my cheeks as the filth caught in my throat. “Gee, thanks” I grunted through clenched teeth. I coughed and spluttered, my face going crimson as I rummaged in my pocket for a handkerchief to hack up into.

“Hey, are you ok?”

Paper police never seemed to fail to ask questions which had obvious answers. There were always so many of these people as well, more and more of them as time went by. It’s like the damned desk jockeys were breeding in a cupboard somewhere. I guffawed into my snot-rag as the thought entered my head. Slater laid a hand on my shoulder.

“Reynolds?”

I hacked up one more time before screwing up the handkerchief and stuffing it into my pocket. “Yeah, I’m fine.”

“You don’t look too good; maybe you should see a doctor or something?”

Just go and see a doctor. Yeah, right.

“Don’t worry about it. I’m fine. Just a cold is all.”

“Well, if you say so. Let me know if you need anything ok?”

I looked up, nodded and smiled at him. “Yeah, thanks man.”

As he walked away I picked up the foolscap folder and opened it, laying out the first couple of pages on my desk. There was a photo of a young woman, sprawled over the floorboards of a dusty loft, her ribcage spread open so her flanks were laid out either side of her like a butterfly fillet. Her heart had been removed.

Yup, murder all right; open and shut case.

Hah.

Being on homicide as long as I’d been had given me a dark sense of humour.

I took the summary report from the front of the folder and leaned back in my chair as I scanned the details. Thank fuck I was retiring soon. No more damned paperwork, just junk food and liquor; like a regular day at work but without all the bullshit that goes with it.

I wondered who they’d choose to replace me. Would it be some green gilled noob, wet behind the ears, looking to make a difference? Nah; word had gotten out homicide was no picnic. They’d have trouble finding time to wait for somebody new to take the throne from us old bastards; hell, you could even say they were running out of heir. Nah, they’d probably choose some youngster from within my department, loitering on the fringes, waiting for a shot at the detective shield.

I sighed, closed the folder and heaved myself out of my chair. Time to haul ass and head to the murder scene and see if forensics had missed anything; damned vultures picking over bones with their tweezers for every scrap and morsel of evidence, ghouls tagging and bagging for their macabre collection.

Hell, if I was in luck when I arrived there’d still be birds in the attic for me to annoy with patronising questions and a few puns.

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Detour

Louis Dodier as a prisoner, 1847. Public domain daguerrotype photo by Louis Adolphe Humbert de Molard; courtesy Google Art Project.

Louis Dodier as a prisoner, 1847. Public domain daguerrotype photo by Louis Adolphe Humbert de Molard; courtesy Google Art Project.

Rasputin scratched at the insect-bites under his coarse linen shirt and scowled at the photographer.

They’d taken his weapons, clothes, implants and external devices and flung him amidst the byways, as vulnerable to the vortices as some ignorant primitive from an un-contacted world. The Commission had said that he was going to 21st Century Paderborn, but they didn’t tell him about the little detour they’d need him to make on the way.

They hadn’t told him he’d end up in a 19th Century dungeon cell, lying amidst filth and flea infested straw, posing for the sake of some cretinous aristocrat with a penchant for peasant theatre. His heart had sunk when the directive appeared in his mind. He was to be a steward for one Baron Louis Adolphe Humbert de Molard, gaining his trust and confidence before receiving further instructions.

“That’s it Louis! Show me those smouldering eyes! Pout a bit, that’s right, good, good!” said the Baron, scampering about the cell as he moved his camera tripod and threw the cloth cover over his head. Another flash, the scent of burnt phosphorous and saltpetre filled the dank air.

Bastards.

After he’d found the traitor, and retrieved his equipment, there’d be hell to pay.

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Web of Intrigue

“Well?”

“Well what?

“Did you get it?”

“Get what?”

“The information from the Arachnids you bloody twit!”

“Oh yeah.”

“So did you get it?”

“What?”

Percival glared at Gavin, who lowered his muzzle into his furry chest and shuffled away a little bit along his perch.

“The information…” replied Percival through clenched teeth.

“Yes. I did exactly what you said and I was ever so polite and I didn’t eat any of them!”

“Good” sighed Percival.

Gavin smiled and straightened down a bit.

“So what did they have to say Gavin?”

“Eh?”

“I swear you were born with a goldfish heart. The Arachnids Gavin, what did they have to say about our little problem?”

Gavin frowned, looked away and scratched his head with a wing claw. “Well, they said something about Sir Doran burning the daylight oil, and about not touching anything because they know that I’ll steal anything that isn’t nailed down you little oik…”

“Doran! Of course! He’ll be making his move any time now. Well? What else?”

“Hmm?” said Gavin, yawning and stretching his leathery wings.

“Did they say anything else?”

“Nnnnmmnn” replied Gavin, smacking his lips, “mnnnot sure exactly; something about opening a dressed wound.” His eyelids gently closed, and soon his snores reverberated around the cave.

Sir Percival snorted, then glanced down at the cave entrance. Bluish light was beginning to illuminate the portal, and he knew that dawn was coming. Well, there was nothing to be done for now he thought. As soon as the sun set he would have to visit the Arachnids himself to find out what their web of espionage and intrigue could reveal to him.

Doran’s plans for invasion would be stopped at any cost!

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Zootoxin

Ah, yes my pretty
I shall take your A to Z April Challenge 2015ootoxin
Then Mr Bond dies!

Posted in Creative writing, Poetry | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Ylem

A to Z April Challenge 2015ou’ve probably never come across the word ‘ylem‘, but apparently it’s defined in alchemy as the root of all elements.  It’s a nice concept, having a single point in time where we can say that’s were it all began.

Some might say that fire was our ‘ylem’ because it enabled us to cook food (allowing us to develop bigger brains) and smelt metals to make tools etc.  Certainly that was a major thing, but what’s the next major thing?  What’s our next ‘ylem’?

Vernor Vinge and Ray Kurzweil have described something they call ‘The Singularity’ as being a point in time in which science and technology have gotten so advanced that it and humans converge into a single point of awesomeness and we then live in a utopia-like existence.  It’s a nice idea; I’ve seen variations of it in a number of science-fiction stories.

I disagree with it though.  I don’t disagree that a ‘singularity’ is possible or even likely, but I disagree with the way in which it will happen.  I don’t think that it’s all about the merger of science and technology with the human race, I think it’s about the merging of our individual minds.

There are lots of animals which teach their young how to do things; some animals even learn new things and then teach those new things to their young.  They don’t have the cerebral capacity to talk, read and write the way we do though; this means that unlike us, they can’t share complex or detailed concepts like we can and so are incapable of discussing them or passing on such detailed information.  Yes I know that cuttlefish, whales and dolphins are supposed to have a language as mathematically complicated as human languages, but they don’t have thumbs and forefingers so they can’t create the tools to make the mediums to convey and record whatever they might be thinking or talking about.

We do though.  We can not only teach our children how to do what we do and pass on what skills and experience we have, we are also capable of writing books, recording sounds and images, and we have the internet.

The internet right now is all about sharing.  Yes, there’s the cats and the pranks and the lists punctuated with pointless phrases like ‘of all time’ and ‘…must…before you die’, but it really is all about sharing.  We highlight things that we’ve discovered and that we like and we share what we like with people that we think might like them too.  We pass on our knowledge and we do it in increasingly similar ways, probably as a result of having increasingly similar technologies across the globe and working within the constraints of those technologies.  Those lists, moments and discoveries we shared are still there, and are still being shared, but there’s more and more being added every day (thus rendering the phrase ‘of all time’ completely pointless, see?).

So what’s happening now is that we’re sharing more and more knowledge in increasingly innovative ways and as we’re doing so we’re noticing what other people are doing and using this to make new discoveries and then share those.

We’re using social networks to form social groups in real life and do real life things with each other as well as sharing this vast wealth of information, so it’s not all doom and gloom on that front despite the ‘old guard’ saying things like ‘back in my day we used to go outside and talk with each other rather than send messages’.  Also, we’re encouraging the old guard to give us their knowledge and experience so that we can record it and share it with future generations, so that the knowledge isn’t lost as they quietly fade away while we’re clicking and typing and staring at screens.

Sharing knowledge and experience doesn’t just allow us to build on what we’ve already learned, it allows us to get to know and help each other, build trust and build connections and the whole thing snowballs.

We have an opportunity people, because education and awareness is our key to restraining our excesses and becoming more efficient.  It’s our key to achieving post-scarcity conditions of living and moving on to the next stage of our development (i.e. leaving the planet and spreading out a bit).  It’s the key to our survival and success.  Sharing our knowledge and experiences as much as we’re doing now, with so many people across the world, is a major step forward for us.

That’s why I say any singularity that occurs isn’t about a merging of humans and technology; it’s about a merging of our minds.

Posted in Philosophical musings | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Xylophagan

A to Z April Challenge 2015ylophagan pest
Biting scratching gnawing fiend
Chewing through my skin

Posted in Creative writing, Poetry | Tagged , , | 3 Comments