I Am A Writer

Forget about me for a moment. Think about yourself. Do a check of where you’re at. Where are you? Read on while you acknowledge your location. It shouldn’t have taken more than a moment to say ‘in the loo’, ‘on the heath’, ‘under the bedsheets’ or something similar. Now let me ask you this: ‘what were you doing before you started reading this?’ I understand that you may need more time to answer this one because it requires accessing your memory and that can take time. However, if you’re thinking too much then you can fall back on something like ‘I clicked on the link in my email and arrived on your blog.’ You may even append the word ‘duh’ to your assertion if you think that I should have known already. Bear in mind, however, that as I write this, I have no idea who you are, where you’re at or where you came from. I’m a writer, not a psychic who can see into my future. That said, I’m going to ask you one more thing that will necessitate you doing precisely what I cannot. To whit, I need you to see into the future. Don’t worry, all will become clear. Here’s my next question: what are you going to do next?

I am a writer and I am in the throes of writing. You are a reader and you are, like it or not, in the throes of reading these words. I will stop writing and post these words. You will stop reading and do … something else. What? Tell me. What are you going to do? You’ve committed to reading thus far and so you might as well complete the task I have set. You have a Comment field below. Don’t be afraid to use it. I’m not going to say anything of note beyond this point and so you might as well stop reading now.

Under the table, a man was sitting and thinking of the war. Which war? The one in his mind. He thought about the armies that marched inside his head and the dreams he had, nightly, about things he could barely remember when he awoke, but which he knew were bad. Not bad in the sense of moral outrage, but more in the sense that they made him feel very uncomfortable about the fact that he had bookcases full of books that he barely touched whilst, in some poorer part of the world there were people who hadn’t the means to feed their love of literature. He was pretty sure these people existed but didn’t know their names, or their addresses. That didn’t stop him from feeling bad about it. Not did it stop the dreams.

The man was called David. An ordinary name. Not one that would excite interest at cocktail parties were he ever to be invited to one and consequently to be invited to share it. His parents were staid, solid members of a Christian-based religious community. But see: I’m bored with them already and so I won’t mention them again.

David is stirring. He has done thinking of the war for now and is emerging from underneath the table. The flap of the tablecloth raises and his face peers out. He wears black-framed spectacles that give his round face the appearance of an old owl. He blinks once in much the way you would expect and then his shoulders follow his head and, inevitably, his body follows. He’s thinking about his hair and how it might as well fall out now as wait thirty years for him to reach the grand age of forty-five. He likes his teeth, though. Teeth are useful. He intends to make good use of them before the day is done. It’s eight in the evening already and so he should hurry.

Ten minutes later he’s walking down by the river. The house backs onto the water and so this isn’t much of a feat. It’s dark, but he knows where he’s going. It’s secluded, but he knows he will not be alone. It’s clear to him that if he were to lie down on the ground now, someone would discover him before too long. He lies down.

Pretty soon someone trips over him and falls to the ground. The earth is soft. Muddy, in fact. There is a curse said that I’ll not relate here because David wouldn’t approve. When he hears it, he says something like ‘la-la-la’ in his mind until the echoes of the sound have died down and then he jack-knives his body until it is covering the mud-besmirched form of the man he has tripped. I’ll not tell you the name of the fallen man because that might lead you to feel some sympathy for him and for what’s going to happen to him next.

I’ve started watching a movie about JD Salinger who is, as you might remember, the author who wrote The Catcher in the Rye. Now, I’m not entirely sure what Rye is, not what a Catcher catches whilst in the Rye, even though I have read the book. But I do know what David does next. If you tell me what you’re going to do next, I’ll tell you by way of reply. David is real. The man whom David has tripped and pinned to the ground is real. The mud in which they lay has actual substance and the thoughts of war that David has in his head are real, as will be his dreams tonight.

Share with me.

An Account of an Ending

“I want to listen to conversation that means something. There is much useless talk. I have got enough absurdity in my own life already without listening to more.”

I watch her as she says this. Her eyes don’t betray any emotion aside from boredom and a faint desire to impress. I’m not impressed. I just want her to take off her mask. To remove her acquired accent. To play with her real emotions. To let me see her naked.

“There are many people in this world who go through life as if they are dreaming. They seem to feel that they will awaken soon. They do not make any effort to improve themselves. They will sleepwalk into their graves.”

I uncross my ankles and cross them the other way. Without looking I can see that my legs are good. Dancer’s legs. I continue to gaze at her face without an expression on my own. She takes a drag of her cigar, fragrant, and continues to rest her eyes on something over my left shoulder. Outside I can hear the sounds of war.

A small insect; something like a beetle, crawls from her hairline, stands for a moment assesses the plain of her forehead and then turns and scurries back into the jungle of her hair. She makes no sign that she has noticed.

“Of course, there are some who should not wake up.”

For a moment I wonder who she is talking about. Then I realise. The Hidden Warriors. When we were invaded, it was considered foolhardy to allow our best fighters to die inside the mechanised armour we deployed. A remote war. A game. For some.

“When they wake up, they have to be entertained. We don’t have the resources.”

I had read the same article.

We also saw a video of it. Row after row of corpses. Well, they might as well be. Their only experience is of virtual war. They control the mech. They kill. But they never wake.

So long as the mechanised manufacturing facilities are protected and their bunkers remain secure, they will fight forever. Even if we die. Even if the world is reduced to lifeless rock, they will still fight.

“What can we do?”

Plaster falls from the ceiling as an explosion rocks the street. We have no bunker. We have no value.

She looks at me now. Sees me as if I had just materialised in sitting room.

“Kiss me.”

A shadow passes the window behind me. Not a good shadow. I can tell from the odour that forces itself through the cracks in the glass. I would have nailed something in place, but there was no time. And even if there had been, we had no wood. All burned to keep us warm. Even the floorboards upstairs. I would have started on the walls, but I was too weak. It wouldn’t have mattered anyway.

I stand and walk towards her on the dancer’s legs I had inherited from my brother. After he was killed in the first wave, they sent them back to me. A strange memento but they were useful. I had my own excised and these were grafted in place. If there had been anywhere to go to, I could have run a mile in a minute. And then another mile. And another.

As I bent to kiss her I felt a bullet rip through my neck. Stray. Her eyes are blank before I begin to fall. Beautiful precision of the hole in her forehead. I see her begin to slide. I stretch out a hand to arrest her fall and am momentarily shocked to see how quickly my arm has become red with blood. Jugular.

Her lips. Still soft, Still warm. I press my own to them. Last request. A last kiss.

I am aware of a slipping away. A quick descent to the floor. A darkness as my eyes close. Some manner of peace.

And then I wake up here.

After War Ended

I was took to another place. A big place with hydroglyphics written across the sky in blood. The buildings went right up to the stars. I was grabbed from behind by someone I couldn’t see and taken inside. A conclusion of flashing lights and, Lord, a noise like you would not believe. I thought I’d been taken to hell.

They let go of me and so I fell down to my knees, closed my eyes and I prayed. I prayed to be taken back home to the true wide-open places where folk can roam free and where there’s enough there to keep a man alive with only his rifle and his bedroll for a company.

I thought I’d opened my eyes but I mustn’t have. I looked to my right and saw another man on his knees. Dressed in shirt and denim. No boots. To the other side of him was a priest. He was dressed like priests always do. Severe. I could still see the sin in his bones all the same.

Someone put a wheat sack over my head. Dusty and dark. I rolled away but strong arms held me and I was pushed down to the floor and sat on. A weight on my chest. I twisted. Struck at the shape with my knees and was rewarded with a grunt so I did it some more and presently the weight fell away from me. I rolled across the hard floor and came up hard against something that felt and gave like a chair. Meantimes I was ripping at the sack over my head, but it’d been tied tight. Then a blinding pain against the side of my head that threw me into black before I had chance to cuss.

When I woke, the fire was almost out and I had such a bad chill in my bones. So I piled on some brush what I’d collected earlier and then some twigs and branches after that. Soon had a fire roaring. Then I just sat. Bolt awake. Staring.

It was getting towards dawn when I stood up. I’d been sleeping poorly since the war had ended, but dreams like that came rare. And I’m glad, cause I can’t never rightly explain the bruises and cuts to my head and body. They never didn’t match none of the rocks therearound. But they hurt like bejesus.

I put on water to boil and fixed coffee.