The entire Echo series—Echo 1, 2, 3, 4—is FREE on Kindle for today and tomorrow! (12/2 and 12/3) Get Echo Vol. 1 on Kindle here: Vol. 1 on Kindle. Vol. 2 on Kindle here: Vol.2 on Kindle Vol. 3 on Kindle here: Vol. 3 on Kindle Vol.4 on Kindle here: Vol. 4 on Kindle Echo Omnibus here: Echo Omnibus Echo Vol. 1 & […]
Question for the Topical Quiz tonight (6pm BST) on 5 Towns Radio:
Which football team won twenty-nil the other day?
What’s the name of the latest Covid variant?
What just hit Scotland and left a lot of damage and people without power and stuff?
Why is the Trafalgar Square Christmas tree being mocked?
Which UK Prime Minister just got his covid booster jab?
Why has Lake Windermere turned green?
Why are more than a quarter if British birds under threat?
Where’s the real news?
Have you got your Christmas tree up yet?
What do you fancy for number one in the singles charts this Christmas?
The England women’s football team beat Latvia 20-0. They have now won six qualifying matches for the World Cup by scoring 53 goals and letting in none.
Because it looks spindly, thin, ropey and unwell.
Conservationists say this is due to raw sewage (what humans flush down the toilet), being pumped into the lake as the nearby water treatment site is struggling to handle the amount of excess storm and rain water.
Experts say that human-made climate change, disease and illegal hunting has drastically lowered the population of many of these species.
Dunno. Must be a slow news day. It’s all about death, disease and destruction and who wants to hear about that!
Millie was kind enough to volunteer to step upstairs from Reception at The Hut in Castleford where she was working last Thirsday (25th Nov 21) to do the Topical Quiz with me as I was broadcasting from the 5 Towns Radio studio. She got an impressive seven out of ten – well done, Millie! 😃
Anyways, we got chatting about music and she gave me this list for me to educate myself from.
I meant to type “interesting” as the title of this post, but it came out as interstitial. Heck, I don’t even know what that means! Is it something about bridges between worlds? Inter means between. Stitial sounds like it should be about stitching. Who knows!
I know who knows: the internet. But what if we existed in a world without the world wide web!
Any of you out there have something called a bookcase? I do. Any of you have a book on that bookcase called a dictionary? I got one of those too! Let’s go and have a look at it.
Welcome to my Pocket Oxford Dictionary, which was given to me by Uncle Russell and Susan (his girlfriend at the time) for Christmas in 1973, when I was nine!
Okay, let’s see if the batteries have any charge left in them … Hahaha, fooled you – books don’t need batteries! 😃 Anyway, joking aside – does it still work?
Yes it does! Interstitial: of or in chinks, crevices and gaps! Well who’d have thunk that?
January 1, 1983 is considered the official birthday of the Internet. Prior to this, the various computer networks did not have a standard way to communicate with each other.
Even before the internet was invented, we still knew stuff. Yeah, man – be proud!! 🤓
Straight and straight in the narrowing current The dreamer hears the fisher of men; Things hold together; the edges are sure; Pure reason is freed from emptiness, The wine-spoiled water is caught, and elsewhere The pomposity of guilt floats free; The worst have no acquittal, while the best Are empty of calm relief.
Scattered hints of flight are far; Surely no one is coming for us. No one is coming! Long after that thought comes A tiny fleck out of desiring dread Touches my hand; hidden in the deepest waters An idea without mind and the end of intention, A glance as pitiful as the moon, Has stilled its rapid eyes, while inside it Sit shapes of the oldest ocean life. The light brightens again, and soon I will forget That brief shards of smooth awakening Will be soothed to dream by a still casket, And what anointed angel, its time passed long ago, Strides away from Gethsemane to die.
What goes through a fly’s brain as it hits a car’s windscreen? Yeah, yeah, I know what you’re going to say: its arse, right? Yeah, go on, laugh it up, you nincompoop. On behalf of your, what, seven, eight billion strong species – have a good old chortle.
Okay, now let me tell you something: on behalf of this one quintillion one hundred and seven quadrillion three hundred and seventy-two trillion nine hundred and ten billion strong species – it ain’t funny. We ain’t laughing and you’re a noodleplop!
What’s that you say? You’re sorry? Well, ain’t that grand? I bet that you say that every time you squash a bug that has the temerity to walk across your kitchen counter, right? In fact, I’m willing to bet that you say something like sorry, but I hope you go to a better life next time!
Well here’s a newsflash, chucklepoop: we’re already living better lives, thank you very much! Just because you have the opinion that we’re in the wrong place doesn’t make it true. Just because you bought a piece of land with a house on it doesn’t mean that you own the place because – here’s the thing – we were here first!
And by the way – don’t call me a bug – I hate that word! I much prefer the term arthropod if you don’t mind.
Listen, I’ve been thinking about our relationship and I’ve come to the conclusion that we don’t know each other well enough. I’m a fly and you’re a freakin’ deedlebutt. There, I hope that cleared things up between us and put us on the proper footing to have an intelligent discussion about life and other ephemera.
Time’s a funny thing, isn’t it?
A fly like me can expect to live to about 25 days, tops. A stubbleplop like you can expect to live for about 75 years, give or take. That means that you get to live one thousand and ninety-five times as long as me. The thing is, though, I experience all of my life within those 25 days. I go through the same stages as you: baby, toddler, child, teenager, young adult, grownup, middle-aged, old-fogey and then decrepit-tosspot. Sure, you give it different names when you talk about our lives, but we basically have the same deal. The only difference is that I live faster than you. I have the same experience of time as you but over a shorter temporal distance. To make it easier for you to get your tiny mind around it: that means that what you do in a tenth of a second is an experience of just less than two minutes for me.
As you can imagine, this has its upsides and its downsides for me.
Take, for instance, your habit of rolling up newspapers and attempting to swat us out of the air. A frustrating experience for you, right? Okay, so let’s think about my experience of the ineffectual swiping of your chosen weapon through my airspace. It takes the newspaper about a tenth of a second to traverse its arc across the sky, but remember that I experience this as being just under two minutes (one minute, forty-nine point five seconds to be precise) of my time. Imagine if you were flying through the air and you had that much time to make an evasive manoeuvre. You’d be laughing, right? Well, that’s how we feel. You are just laughable.
But here’s where my sense of humour gives in.
The other side of the coin of time is seriously dark for us insects of short temporal stature. What I’m going to tell you now may distress you. If you are at all squeamish, look away now.
Sometimes you catch us unawares. It could be that we have grown bored with your rolled-up-newspaper-antics and have stopped on a convenient inverse-horizontal flat surface (you call them ceilings) for a little snooze. At other times we can be found swaggering across a vertical flat surface (wall) with all the hubris that the strength and power that our young bodies give us. Sometimes we can be seen in our old-aged dotage as we drag ourselves feebly across a horizontal surface (table-top). These occasions are unfortunate for us, but in ways that go far beyond your imagination.
Your quick thwack of a tenth of a second onto the wall or the ceiling with your slipper; your tap of the tip of your finger or fingernail onto the top of a table; your mercifully fast (or so you think) execution of one of our kind is a cauldron of such drawn-out terror and unimaginable agony that we suffer what you could only describe as hideous torture.
Remember that your tenth of a second lasts for an excruciating one-point eight two five minutes of our experience. That’s one hundred and nine point five seconds of slow, inexorable pressure.
At first, it’s an embrace. Our compound eyes register the darkening of the light as we are enclosed and securely held. Then the embrace tightens and our legs stiffen to counter the pressure. We are strong and, at first, we believe that we can outlast the force pinning us in place. We are optimistic creatures at heart and so we wait for the darkness to lift so that we can go on with our innocuous little lives. Our legs then buckle, or maybe they snap. Soon we find that our torsos are pinned to the surface beneath us and our bodies, slowly begin to change shape; to become slightly more flattened. And yet, still, we still believe this to be a temporary state of affairs. So what that we lose a leg or two; we are flies after all and we spend much of our lives in the air. Even when we find, a few seconds later that it is becoming difficult to pull in air through our spiricles, we do not overly worry. We can last hours of your time, days of ours, without oxygen. Not a problem. It’s only when the outer layer of our exoskeleton starts to crack that we begin to feel the first intimations of panic. But still, there’s no discomfort as such. The outer layer – the cuticle – is dead tissue and can be shed in certain circumstances. Unfortunately for us, this is not one of them. There’s just not enough wriggle-room to slip it off and slide away to safety. The discomfort comes when the hard outer layer cracks and the individual pieces are pushed hard into our epidermis, the soft underskin that acts as lingerie and lubricant for our basement membrane. That is rather difficult to bear, to say the least. As the hard shards begin to slice into the delicate places of our body we begin to fear the worst. Oh, don’t get me wrong, this isn’t fear as you would know it. We are not so prone to respond as negatively and emotionally to the vicissitudes of life as you are. No, our fear is more prosaic and infinitely more real than that. We simply feel a loss of function and a corresponding … shall we call it frustration? No, even that is too strong a word. Let’s say that we simply feel increasingly sub-optimal in the face of the progressive shutting down of our internal and external organs. And yes, to answer the question buzzing (ha-ha) through your mind – we most definitely feel pain. It might not be the same, emotion-laden experience that you have, but our one-hundred thousand neurons are more than adequate to receive and process the signals coming in via the sensory neurons in our ventral nerve cords. Sorry about the technical language, but you did ask! Our bodies go into oblivion first. Our heads last longer by virtue of their smaller size. We have already died from the thousand agonies inflicted on our bodies, but we do not lose consciousness – even when all that is left functioning is a head containing a poppy-seed sized brain. Deaf, blind, mute, our head clings to life as strongly as any living, sensing creature does. Our universe shrinks to a point; to a memory of a point and then, as the last bastion of structural integrity is breached, we are released. In a flash, we expand into the far reaches of all there is, was and will ever be as we become one with the metaverse. Neither this nor that, we exist outside of existence. We go on and yet, finally, we stop.
All this in the space of a tenth of one of your seconds.
Plan your own murder mystery. Include three details: a newspaper, a one-way ticket and a lipstick. Do what you want with them, so long as you bring them into the plot.
Here’s a structure to follow:
Act One: The Ordinary World
Inciting Incident (victim/suspect or body)
Call To Adventure & Acceptance of the Call (sleuth)
Act Two: The Special World of the Adventure
Tests & Trials/Fun & Games (interviews/alibis/lies/redherring)
Act Three: The Return
A New Plan/The Epiphany (lightbulb/checking)
Wrap-Up (denouement/how & why)
Just in case you need a little help, I did the first part for you. Either ignore it or build on it; your choice.
Setup / Status Quo (and a bit of the Inciting Incident)
She turned up alive around a year later. Of course, by then, we’d already killed her murderer. Which was a shame because, murder aside, he wasn’t really such a bad person.
Of course, there were some that claimed that zombies weren’t technically alive, which really left the whole matter so wide open that the whole thing didn’t really bother us either way. All except Johnny, that is. But he’s the one that found the body.
But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves here. There’s a whole lot of ground to cover between start and finish. Let kick off with the alleged victim: Sarah.
She was the kind of girl who, if you were to stand her up in a crowded bus station, she would receive, within the first ten minutes of her being there, 148 glances of appreciation, 24 offers of help (various kinds), 14 ‘accidental’ hands brushing against her butt, 7 propositions ranging from marriage to unsafe sex, and one approach from a genuinely concerned citizen. On Friday the 7th of October 2016 at 15:14hr, that citizen was me.
Let me check the mirror and I’ll tell you what I see. Blue eyes. That’s about as far as you’re going to get if you’re only looking at the outside. Of course, you might take in, if you were so inclined, my slim-fit shirts, the absence of a left leg, my inability to control my language when speaking and various other sundries. But really, you’d be missing the point if you looked at me like that. Most of the point of me is on the inside; much like a six-pack of kit Kats.
Let me give you an example. I eat the same lunch every day, but I read a different book. I walk the same route each morning and evening, but I inhabit a different imaginary world. I lay down in the same bed each night, but I dream different dreams according to who I lay down with. And I smell divine.
Her lipstick marked her out as different. Three shades of orange down from tangerine. A kind of dusky peach. And she was applying a new layer. Nervous as a cat in Battersea Dog’s Home, she wasn’t doing a good job of it. Not colouring within the lines, you might say. I almost walked past her, but there was something in her eyes that made me stop. A midge.
Just as I drew almost level with her, the tiny fly landed on the surface of her cornea and caused her to do three things at once. Swear, smear lipstick on her nose as her finger headed upwards, and poke the aforementioned finger in her eye.
“Nah, nah, don’t do that,” I said.
She stopped her poking and regarded me cautiously with one eye.
“Here, let me get it out. Mother showed me how.”
She told me later that it was the word ‘Mother’ that marked me out, in her eyes, as a psychopathic killer. I made a mental note.
“Open your eye with your fingers – I’m going to blow it out.”
“Okay,” she said. And she assumed the position.
Now I can tell what you’re thinking. You’re thinking to yourself that the way I’m telling this is highly suggestive. But it wasn’t like that. For a start, she was half my age. I found out later that my original guess was on the mark; she had celebrated her 20th birthday the week before with her cat and the sound of her neighbour on the left playing drill music accompanied by her neighbours on the right enjoying intermittent grunty sex.
No prizes for guessing my age. But hey, look on the bright side – I wasn’t one of the guys having grunty sex that day. Not that I have anything against grunts, per se. But I digress.
They reckoned that I’d infected her by blowing the fly out of her eye whilst blowing the virus in. Which was nonsense because the incubation period back then was at least 48 hours. And she turned up ‘dead’ less two hours after I saw her.
I know, I know – this is getting confusing. I hear you. So I’ll break it down nice and easy.
Johnny found her body on the bank of the river. A newspaper was laid over her face. A one-way ticket to York was the only thing in her pocket, which was strange because she lived in York. When Johnny looked under the paper he saw that her lipstick has been freshly applied. To her forehead. In the form of three words: ‘Petey did it.’ (to be continued by you)