In each low wind methinks a spirit calls,
And more than echoes talk along the walls.
— Alexander Pope, Eloisa to Abelard
Aricook hurried through the expansive kitchens of his father’s restaurant, but the gleaming tile, mirror shine of copper-bottomed pots, and heady mix of aromas barely registered. He slipped through the crowd of bustling food builders and their assistants and entered the main eatery. The familiar sights and sounds of one hundred and ninety-eight customers chattering like mag-chickens while assaulting the day’s feast failed to ease his worries.
I know we Africans have our witchy stories, tales to frighten the children or bolster the courage of our elders in hard times, which alas have been many. But I am a modern African. I have a bachelor’s degree from a recognised university and I know that God does not reside at the summit of Mount Kenya. I work on my country’s biggest newspaper and what I am about to tell you is true.
London lay drowned beneath an ocean. A deep, dark ocean navigated by monied corporate leviathans, the City quailing beneath. Pulled in their wake were the hackers, hook-ups and the vacant. Criss-crossing London, invisibly, was all this – information. People, things and sex, all matter and action alike reduced to drops of data. An unseen sea, one that had no end, of money, services, and the surveilled.
2045: Old Man, Summer Night Turnersburg, Friday night in June. Most folks home devicing the local news, local meaning Fairview, the larger statezone fifty kilometers up Route 063, where the…
You never did like that corner of your room. It was just out of reach from the faint and flickering television—riddled with shadows. I remember your nightly texts, begging me to come over and stay with you until dawn. You said the darkness was too much to bear. That what was waiting within it was watching.
Sitting in his car parked on the street, Josh Germaine stared up at the yellow light that spilled through the sliding glass door onto the balcony of his third-story apartment. “I oughta go up there,” he muttered to himself, “make sure that bitch doesn’t take off with more of my stuff.”
There is a train terminal beneath the vast halls and escalator-riddled chambers of the grand hotel. He runs down one last flight of marble steps and hurries onto a train. The car is crowded. The seats are in pairs, facing forward, with a narrow aisle running down the middle.
When you said that in the bar, “Nothing moves me, baby. There’s nothing new,” I grinned. I just took it as a challenge. But now, Denny thought, I would do anything for you. Anything.
Earth is a distant speck left behind in the vastness outside. A world on the furthest edge of my memory. A dream I sometimes think of in this eternal, lonely night. At times, I wonder if it’s not only a figment of my own imagination. Was there ever such a place? Were there ever blue skies and green trees and busy cities? Was there ever the sleepy village where I was born, with its crumbling church and cosy houses and the quaint pub where they celebrated my future mission a month before launching into space?
The rooster didn’t want to die. It raked its spurs and twisted its head halfway around to try and jab at Fiona with its beak. But she kept her chokehold under its head while her free hand shoved a dagger through its neck.
If I’d not been the old-fashioned sort, choosing to wait before having my Audrey move in with me, unlike a lot of men, I wouldn’t have been so wrong-footed by her that night. I’d have watched her getting ready in our home, naturally, and questioned her about a few details of her accoutrement before we went out for the evening — and thus been somewhat prepared for her later behaviour.
A hue of green like none ever witnessed in nature. Yellow veins on thin skin. I lurch toward the irresistible smell. I salivate in anticipation of the crispness, the shock of flavor. I bare my teeth.
The patient A. was a man in his thirties, unmarried, a minor official in the local government here in Vienna; eminently respectable, enjoying the esteem of his colleagues and the confidence of his superiors.
War stories? Now, a man like me is full of them, and some that can’t be told until I’ve had a pint. You’ve stood me three and so I’ll tell the best o’ them. Not that you’d be able to write it down and publish it. Some things are not ‘fit for print,’ you know.