Mortality

Based on this Flash Fiction Challenge.

“My mortality and I am closely acquainted.” Prompt by http://52lettersinthealphabet.wordpress.com/.

My mortality and I are closely related. We weren’t, of course. I was like a lot of young people – I was immortal. I had such energy, and everyone else around me was just so old. Nothing ever hurt me, really. I had never broken a bone, nor had any long-term medical treatment. I was a healthy, happy utter moron. I’d like to say that all that changed when I died, but the truth is that the ability to talk in the past tense about your own death, makes it kind of hard to take seriously.

Jamie and Carl really wanted to go to this club we’d heard about around fresher’s week. It was the “awesomest club that ever awesomed!” according to some tank-topped bint outside the Union. I hung back, smoked my cheap cigarette and feigned indifference while trying to work out whether she was wearing a bra or not. She wasn’t.

“She was so hot!” said Carl.

“Not bad, not bad.”

I stayed silent. I was an introvert even when I was alive. Well, you know. Alive-alive.

Anyway, long story short, we went. I wore a black shirt and the black jeans I thought made me look sexy, but actually just accentuated how fat didn’t really stick to my bones. Jamie and Carl dressed like the hipster twins – all vintage and bright colours and hair that was just vaguely ‘up’.

We got in easily enough. No ID checking during the first couple of weeks of term. You’ve gotta get the kiddies hooked. That’s the real fucking trick. Then they up the prices and squeezed the young ones. We climbed down these dark chipboard stairs and into the club proper.

Inside, the place looked like an aircraft hanger with too few lights and too much black paint. There was a stage in the dim distance with a hairy band fiddling with cables and instruments and shit. Between them and us was an army of hipsters, rockers and goth wannabes. Basically a load of kids like us – more money and less supervision than they’d ever had before. I went for a piss. One bearded fat kid was puking in a stall. There was an inch of water that kind of sold me on DMs as club wear. It was barely nine o’clock. I had an echoing thought in my head that I’d gone to the pussiest university in Britain.

The night went as these nights often do. Early on the hipster twins locked on to a pair of brand-wearing horny chicks who were a couple of drinks ahead of us. They weren’t bad looking, but they had the wide-eyed conviction that always preempted a certain amount of drama. When one of the chicks flashed her tattoo of ‘birds flying away to symbolise freedom’ on her shoulder blade, I was out. I’d be hearing one or the other of the guys bitching about this silly cow for months. I had no intention to listen to the prologue live. I’d wait for the whiney Cliff Notes.

I think I was on my third of fourth beer and sixth or seventh brightly-coloured shot that a cowgirl had been peddling around the damn place. The band had started up, and appeared to be a death metal band who exclusively covered Smash Mouth. The lead singer had something about him that told me he was a man who was nothing outside the fantasy he created for himself on stage. I figured he was doing some ball-achingly dull degree that his parents thought was a good idea. He also looked a bit desperate on his third rendition of ‘All Star’. I think another band cancelled.

Whatever, anyway, that was when she slinked up to me. ‘Slinked’ isn’t a word I’d ever used before, but it was the only one that seemed right for the way she moved. She was wearing jeans and a shiny red tank top. Nothing really spectacular about it except the woman who wore it. She moved like I imagine a mermaid would swim. She had black hair and light brown skin. She stared me straight in the eye and pinned me to the spot.

“Hello,” she said.
“Hey,” I said, straining for the indifference I’d flashed at Tank Top Girl that afternoon. I think my voice broke. It wasn’t my best performance.

“What are you looking at?”

“Um… you?”

She frowned at that as though she’d made a mistake.

“No, before me.”

I thought about it. Nothing really. Just people. I told her as much.

“And what do you see?”

“Kids. Student loans, sex and freedom.”

“I see.”

I wanted her to ask me what was so different about me. I didn’t know the answer, but I was desperate to have the chance to tell her. She licked her lips – a dark berry colour that made me think of sweet fruit or expensive ice cream.

“What’s your name?”

“Mason- I mean Jonathan. Joe.”

“Well, Mr. Mason. Is this your usual ‘scene’?” She said the word like it tasted bad in her mouth. I could empathise.

“Not really. It’s like a noisy safari park. All the animals are hunting each other to a third-rate soundtrack,” the band over-dramatically finished one song with an synthesized twang as though to punctuate my point. “Only it’s stupid. The prey want to be caught, and choose their predator with their outfits and fucking ‘come hither’ bullshit.”

She nodded, considering my words. I was quite proud of them at the time in the way that only an eighteen year old Humanities student could be. She licked her lips again. Should I have offered her a drink?

“Sorry, would you like something to drink?”

“No thank you, Jonathan. I was thinking of leaving. Would you like to join me?” There was a glimmer in her half-lidded eyes. The kind of look I’d labelled ‘come hither bullshit’ seconds before. I didn’t care.

“Yes, please.”

She took me by the hand and led me through the crowd and into the street with her mermaid walk. She took me away from all the children. She took me away to die.

Commentary: It’s been a while since I’ve written every day, and this was a lot of fun. Almost cathartic, thinking back to those awful, sweaty nights in awful venues. I’d love to hear your comments, so please post below. ūüôā

Living the Life Fantastic

Living on the Earth, living in the sky and living above the sky are three very different states of being. You have no idea.

On Earth

Earth

They don’t do tours of the Ground Floor, as a lot of city-dwellers call it. They can’t afford the insurance on the¬†necessary¬†gas masks. Even the Guttersnipes¬†don’t walk around the Ground Floor without some kind of air filter or mask. The air smells like oil, grease and damp. The secretions of a couple of centuries of oil abuse now coat what we used to call ‘street level’. Even with modern electronic transport and the space fuel the throw down at us, we still can’t clear the filth that’s already here. And of course there are the industries down below who cannot or will not make that great extraterrestrial leap and who still pump their poison into the world. The Toffs have to have their tennis balls after all.

Of course, some ‘Snipes have their implants to keep them safe. Hell, sometimes you see a Joe on the street and he looks more toaster than man. Don’t know how they manage it myself. I like the pink squishy parts of a person myself. Then again, I don’t smuggle, smash or slide to earn my money. Not usually anyway.

Speaking of which, down here you can buy anything. I know that a lot of people say that, but I mean it. I once sat in a bar while a guy scarfed down a brown paper bag full of what looked like eyeballs. All blue. I stuck around though. Good beer in that place.

My advice? Wear a barker on your hip to save any part of you from ending up in a brown paper bag.

In the Sky

Sky

 

Here in the clouds you’ve got your styles and your fashions and whatnot. Up here with the Toffs, you can buy anything¬†fancy. The architecture ranges from glass and steel from historical. None of the Old Earth landmarks are down where they started. A lot of them have been status-locked or reproduced up on Cloud 9.

The fashions are a little unpredictable. “Future of the Past” was a thing for a while; all silver jumpsuits and skin tints. A lot of the sentient gadgets got a boost for a while too. All pug-ugly if you ask me. Although I shagged a green ‘Martian’ fashionista once. That was fun. Couple of months later it was Victoriana chic. You couldn’t swing your cane without knocking off someone’s topper. I like Cloud 9, but it is a silly place.

In Space

SpaceI lived on an Outpost for a couple of years back in the ’20s. Just a small solar mine out near Venus. The funny thing about space and the asteroid quarries is that building this stuff is dirt cheap, so everyone lives in this idyllic¬†Mediterranean¬†community with a simulated sky and simulated sea breezes. The European ones, anyway. They’re also¬†really subcultural. Aphro-3 was made up entirely of Italian Cybergoths and their families. Beautiful to behold but damn strange in their little mock-terracotta¬†houses. Still, the pasta was good.

It’s funny the detail the build into these places though. I remember the fishing being excellent. In space. They were real fish, too. Not like the creepy little robots you get in the Earth resorts. I remember eating an Aphro-Salmon that was absolutely delicious. And not a circuit board in site.

As you can imagine, the night life is a bit¬†niche-y, but an awful lot of fun. If you fancy getting off with a girl with a short skirt and plastic hair then I recommend Aphro-3¬†immensely. I’d skip¬†Metabilis, though. Those chicks are¬†freaks.

 

On Writing and On “On Writing”

stephen_king_on_writing

I’ve been reading Stephen King’s¬†On Writing and really trying to find a direction for my novel, which had been having a worse existential crisis than a middle-aged man with a new Porche. So I picked up a copy of King’s advice on the subject. Beyond the¬†fascinating¬†and sometimes¬†heartbreaking insight into the author’s life and how they fed into his work, I also found some¬†extremely¬†sound advice on getting my own work moving again. I’m hesitant to repeat the advice, as it’s so¬†elegantly¬†and succinctly put by King himself, but I would say that if you’re struggling to find you’re writing groove, it’s definitely the book you should pick up.

With that in mind, and as previously mentioned, I gained a new determination to complete my own book (working title Laura).

At time of writing, I have forty thousand words in the manuscript itself and a few thousand in broken pieces elsewhere. I think I’ve finally found a direction, a theme and a¬†point to¬†Laura, but it will take a not insignificant rewrite. With that in mind, I’ve downloaded some writing software (yWriter5) which I’m mainly using to track my daily word count, organise my thoughts and generally keep things organised. On Mr. King’s advice, I set myself a daily word count of a thousand words to be completed in a month. That’ll be thirty thousand in total. If needs be, I’ll do the same next month. After that, I should have enough material to construct a coherent final narrative for¬†Laura. After that, the editing process begins. I know what needs to be done on the narrative level. Honestly, I’m just focussing on that as a target at this stage. Wish me luck.

artsy-writer-working

Getting Out of the Great Swampy Middle with Jim Butcher

Hey, gang. Since I’m between two epic drinking sessions, there won’t be a post today. That said, I just read some excellent advice for new authors getting thought the difficult middle of a novel. Since it’s by an author who I’ve been rapidly consuming lately, I thought I’d share it with you all.

 

The Great Swampy Middle

by Jim Butcher

Every writer runs into this, generally in every single book. The middle. It lurks between the beginning of your book and the exciting conclusion, and its mission in life is to Atreyu you right down into the yucky, mucky mire in order to prevent you from ever actually finishing…

(click to read more)

Hope it helps.