Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Has Bean

A short lunchtime story by QT Esquire

Dad pulled back the easy-open ring on the tin lid. You know dad, I remember when you had to use a tin opener. All that fuss. All those raggedy razor edges. So easy to cut yourself. Now everything's so safe. And easy. Like a dead metaphor. It was at that moment I caught the glint in my dad's eye. Something of his old self. Returned? Dad proceeded to decant the beans from the tin over his head and then, quick as a flash, he began to slash the rather blunt lid edge into my jugular. I could hear him shouting ... laughing? ... something about stopping writing fucking bean stories you little shit ... don't you know you're dying ...this is it ... no more paragraphs or punctuation ... the end ... now has bean.

Epilogue: It took several burly men with tazers to drag my dad off. The doctor said it was a close thing. And if I'd lost any more red sauce ... well, I'd have bean toast.

Post Epilogue: Guess what the nurse brought me for my lunch ... ?

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

A whole new ball game

"The futility of existence is like a soccer match sans goal posts."

I detest sporting metaphors, said Pop-Pop to himself, screwing the paper in a ball and tossing it to the trash.

The phantom phallus/ghost in the machine AKA the Turing Test

Due to an incident with a franking machine that had never entirely been explained to the specialist’s satisfaction, Alpha-Alpha had lost his precious love-pistol, man-digit, meat-tube ... call it what you will. The situation might have been salvaged and stitched better - but, again, for reasons not entirely clear or, indeed, forthcoming - his member had somehow fallen into a Jiffy bag, sealed and mailed itself first class to the other side of the world, where, once retrieved, had turned up a little worse for wear - manhandled (i.e. more so than could be accounted for in the way of natural attrition).

The curious thing about it – if your curiosity is aroused by such things – was that, like those cramps, itches and pains persons of a missing limb disposition complain of to their best-selling neurosurgeon, he swore he could still, on occasion, feel the ghostly presence of his little fella. Such a calamity might have turned some to a philosophical bent, instead he turned to the hi-tech world of Cosmetic Organ Cybernetics Know-how.

A succession of thick, glossy brochures had flopped through his mail box onto the welcome mat whose wipe-clean insides were festooned with high-definition images and accompanied by strap-lines such as: "Coming soon, Frankenstein's Monster: changeable novelty heads ... it will make you the envy of all your intact friends*"

"*" led, in rather smaller script, to the qualifying statement:

"Should you have any."

Since times were hard, and he was feeling the pinch in the pocket, he had plumped for a budget bludgeon, the Philip K Moby: 100% recycled scrap metal casing, encasing the latest in ultra-sensitive nano-electro neural wiring for the ride of your life.

Images are indicative only.

It went down like a bomb with Muff-Muff, but he liked the dumb weight of his new trouser freight anyway. She had the human child Dog-Star Magnetron IV to keep her occupied.

There was a knock-knocking at the door. It was late past eight. He released the multi-security latches in practiced sequence and, on opening, there was an unfunny moment of Shakespearean existential wit: the someone that was there, apparently, was also not-there.

Master Alpha-Alpha, I believe my presence was requested.

It was Paco-Paco. The former postal droid had wandered round the side to peer through the polarised Plexiglas glass windows of Unlikely Solutions Ltd and then wandered back.

Come in my little P-P

"Paco-Paco I have certain requirements - needs - if you will, in order to fulfill my, er, function. I am but a man, a man with requirement-needs, like a dog without a bone, an actor out on loan ..." His voice tightened. "Capeesh?"

Like those services I perform for Pop-Pop? Would you like me to dress up as Spak-Spak?

No, no, Sweet Lord ... but let's keep that option on the table for later.

Paco-Paco's visual sensors caught a tell-tail of what might have been the snail-trail of a pre-tear so small as to be unable to form a droplet before running out of emotional steam.

Enough small talk Paco-Paco, step into the Orgasmatron booth with me ...

But who shall play the Daddy-Daddy Master?

"Paco-Paco, you should know, as a former postal droid, it's better to give than receive," then placing a solitary finger over the droid's voice relay output orifice, whispered into his auditory input orifice, "hush now: it's time for your servicing."

Some seconds later ...

How was it for me then Paco-Paco?

Given your behavioural cues and cross-tabulating them against my database of human responses in accordance with the Turning Test, I'd estimate - satisfactory Master.

But your answer begs the question: the conclusion you wish to draw of my satisfaction is already presumed in your premise; that it can be understood by the correlative association of behavioural cues. I read that on the side of a packet of reconstituted corn substitute cereal. Multi-vitamin enriched.

What do you expect?

I am an android with total recall.

Would Master like a towel for the orgone mucus now?

Monday, 8 June 2009

The fish in the sea are not thirsty

I have four messages for you all.

Pay careful heed to each one individually, and at the same time, collectively.
  • There are no fish in the sea.
  • By the year 2065 everyone will be dead.
  • Have your day in the sun while you still can.
  • Don't give it a second thought. No, really. Don't.
How do we get people's attitudes and behaviours to change? More specifically, with regard to the perennial issue of climate change, especially since it has already changed, and there doesn't seem a damned thing we can do about it. But why let the irreversible facts get in the way of empowering people to at least think they can, through an open and honest one-way, multi-media enriched, nodal dialog? The key is in the last message: "don't give it a second thought" - by the time you've grasped it; asked yourself "why not?" you've already given it another thought. That's real attitudinal change people, and the effort was so small as to be almost involuntary; now you can walk away knowing that, you've at least done the least something.

People. People. It's a people thing. And here at Unlikely Solutions Ltd, as those of you have lasted long enough not to get fired will most probably already certainly know, we're all about people who are about people, especially those people in government agencies with money - our money strictly speaking - to burn. We achieve what those government agencies could never get away with themselves, without outsourcing the message-conveyance mechanism to a company with independent sector expertise authority. The kind of expertise authority that can use adjectives to make people feel important, whole, understood and even loved, without actually describing, in a committal-like statement, anything such as an idea, plan of action or wotnot that could later be used against you by, say, an angry, disenfranchised mob of voters. This is, after all, a post-democracy democracy.

So, there you have it people, a promo glimpse of our next awareness raising campaign for the government Depart for Positive Mental Attitude, PMS for short.

Speech over, everyone back to your adjustable workspace-interface modules.

Except you QT, get your fanny in my office. Now. Pronto.

Shut the privacy enabling device behind you.


Shut it.

So, what do you think?

That’s a bit of a – I don’t know – scary message: we're all dead in like fifteen years? .. have a nice day?

That’s the brilliance of it: the boffin-facts actually suggest we’ll all be dead by 2055, but there’s no point unnecessarily alarming people now. It’s all about impact QT. Impact is hugely important. If I tell you I’m going to hit you in the face; then immediately hit you in the face. I’ve lost the element of surprise. However, if I tell you I’m going to hit you in face in ten minutes time, and then hit you in the face five minutes early, I’ve got the message across without loosing any of the impact. Capeesh?

Not sure I follow the logic: why not just hit me in the face and not warn me about it?

Look, you're a nice man, as far as cretins go, but this is why I am the successful owner of a successful business and you have to lay prostate before my higher intellect and superior know-how. We want people to feel like they've changed their attitudes without having to make the effort; not spontaneously empty their bowels, quit their job, sell their home and move to the Mountain Zone, knowing they've got five years left on this godforsaken dust ball. Ten years is an improbably long time for most people to conceive, that together with the mutated spermatozoon problem thing. Yeah, we're all going to die in ten years time, hmmm, can't really see myself in ten years time - but it's something to think about innit? says Joe-public to themselves. I added an extra five years for insurance. There's always an Alec. Nobody likes an Alec, especially when they're smart.

And QT, shut the privacy enabling device behind you when you leave.


Wait! Phone Pop-Pop and tell him I will be requiring the services of Paco-Paco tonight. Not a mention of this to my Muff-Muff. On the QT, if you catch my drift.

Straightaway Master Alpha-Alpha, after I've changed my slacks.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

In the Dead Zone

Time was a senseless afterthought in the two-dimensional world of the Dead Zone - a world where perspective was an unaffordable luxury, and where all horizons converged at the infinitude of vanishing point. If someone, per chance, had unexpected taken a wrong turn - left to be specific - out of, say, the Barren Zone bazaar, travelled south-east for twenty clicks or so, and had the unfortunate opportunity to happenstance the scene, one would have beheld the broken figure, indefinitely placed on the horizon, silhouetted in black - a shuffling shadow if you will. Sad, but incredibly proud.

If one drew closer, the scene would have revealed flesh blackened, blistered, broken and raw as if blasted by an oxyacetylene torch. Eyes blinded by cataracts, registering only uncertain retinal afterimages, lit by a dim intelligence, like those projected upon Plato's cave wall. She reflexively readjusted her thong. Spak-Spak's brain activity had ceased long ago - at least as measurable by the most sensitive and sophisticated of next generational MRI scanners. It was a mind open and boundless as the cloudless Dead Zone sky itself; a mind unfettered by the shackles of self-censorship, a sense of the other, fashion and/or social etiquette in general.

Directing her remarks at no one in particular, and tilting her head in the confused manner of a dog attempting to grasp complex, transformational grammatical structures, she uttered at random: "Is there a problem?"; "Can I say something?"; "Did I tell you about my daughter?"; "Don't get angry Pop-Pop"; and, "Quality is a process of continuous reevaluation". The presence of another soul would only have been lost on her anyway.

The head tilting caused a built-up reservoir of melatonin, from an overactive pineal gland, to drip-drip steadily from her ear, falling to the sand in milky tears; creating tiny, moist dimples in the sand surface before evaporating without a trace.

If one stepped back from the scene and beheld it from a respectful distance, the solipsistic soliloquy faded into the background. Or so it at first seemed. And then the inconsolable wailing began again, a trait not unusually common among the sparse inhabitants of the Dead Zone, accompanied by the relentless tugging of hair after the fashion of a Jain monk.

The Dead Zone: A dead place where already dead people up-Styx to go die.

Saturday, 6 June 2009


Pop-Pop spun the revolver's chamber, pulled the safety back, placed the muzzle against his temple and began to gently mumble a song - lodged somewhere in the pharyngotympanic tube of his inner ear - Nanu-Nanu used to sing to him.

It went something like this:

Friday, 5 June 2009

Planting seeds

Rape is such an ugly word - especially when prefaced by genetically modified and bookended by seed.

Epilogue: The enthusiasm for bio-fuel could not cool the Earth.

The orgone bath

Pop-Pop sponged away the layer of mucilaginous orgone residue from his epidermis, occasioning the odd soft sigh.

Dressed in freshly laundered terry towelling robes, he stepped tentatively out of the Orgasmatron booth, still closeted in post cyber-coital haze, and unplugged Paco-Paco – formally a postal droid – with a tug of sated fatigue.


But nothing would have - could have - prepared me for the banshee wail that followed, echoing off the retaining walls of my cavernous mind.

"Can I say something?"

It had the unmistakable interruptus horribilis signature speak of Spak-Spak.

It was then that I first realised the wailing resonating through my cranial cavities was my own.

The cave

After an eternity I came to a hillside where, at last, I was able to seek refuge from the searing heat through a small opening in the rockside. I sank into the hole drinking in the cool, dark air feverishly. I kept going deeper until I was enshrouded and completely lost in the Cimmerian shade. Panting in the cool darkness, I finally had a chance to draw breath and recover.

Then, impossible to locate in the caliginous depth, a gravelly voice scratched the silence. A fear gripped me: at first I thought some beast may have caught my scent and was roused by my sweaty presence. My breath quickened and, after an interminable pause, I heard the voice again. I was seized by a terror as the voice spoke; one I had not heard since a time now forgotten; since the desert heat ravished the civilised world. It came again: 'Never weaken, my boy, never weaken.'

A meeting of minds

The rapidly accelerating desertification of the planet's surface had thrown up the odd consolation, Pop-Pop thought as he tugged on his Panama to tilt against the glare. Though only an amateur member of the Royal Society for Archaeology, his intense interest in religious artefacts - a professorial knowledge not formally recognised on academic paper - had made him an invaluable addition to the team. He ruefully fingered his greying beard.

Perhaps this would be his last adventure, for the great heat wave of 2035 had irreversibly "frazzled", as the hospital specialist had put it, his nervous system; it was, "Gradually unwinding, somewhat in the manner of a ball of string tormented by a dangerously cute kitten." He had asked for a second opinion, "Well, I suppose the kitten may in fact be a fiendishly intelligent monkey in disguise."

Pop-Pop's reverie was suddenly broken by the sounds of boots pounding planks, sending vibrations through his soles, followed by excited shouts from the excavation team as they decanted from the hole, squinting into the harsh desert light towards him. Drawing closer, they formed a small but reverent circle around him, and - passing from hand to hand after the fashion of a nu-grunge singer surfing the mosh-pit - emerged at rest in his hands, a fragment of ancient wood, fossilised by time into a rock-like resilience, protruding from which, a crudely fashioned nail could be observed.

"Look closely," urged someone breathlessly pointing, "see the dark crimson patches around the base of the nail?" Pop-Pop donned his glasses, and, gazing down the barrel of his nose, nodded, "Yes, yes, indeed. See them I most certainly do!" "What do you think? Could it be ... is it? is it?" Asked Dan Brown, a slightly retarded but most enthusiastic work experience student. "You mean the holy of holies?" Pop-Pop offered in calm response as he licked the tip of his index finger, daubing it thickly in one of the aforementioned patches, bringing the sole digit to his gums, and rubbing it against them as becomes the habit of a coke connoisseur. His face gurned for a while in careful contemplation. Then all facial-based activity ceased (bar a gentle wind ruffling the hirsute regions of his lower jaw). The boil of silence was finally lanced when Pop-Pop's pupils widened in anticipation as he declared, "Though I'll have to lick the Turin Shroud before I can fully confirm: it tastes like the Son."

... and the sun

Pop-Pop eased out of the flight harness and tied up his pterodactyl to the terminal post whilst the beast wetted its parched, serrated beak. It was then he slowly – quite deliberately – turned his head to observe the long-familiar scene he already knew awaited him. It had been a few years since the last visit – the doctor had warned him against travel, given the thinning rush of sand passing through his personal hourglass.

The – his – family stood huddled together in what can only be egregiously described as a cubist montage of erratically-sewn future garments: poncho-shaped patchwork-quilts of scavenged scraps that acted as a kind of lazy literal and metaphorical motif for their pathetic plight against this entropic environment. They stood still, watching each other. Silent. And then, as if to beak the freeze-frame moment, crawling from behind the coppice of their combined legs, he caught sight of the first human child (born unto man).

It had what looked like scraps from one of the red-top daily’s clutched in either hand, gleefully chewing from alternate clutched fists, whilst making high-pitched proto-vocalisations, reminiscent of those broken souls' wails who wander the Dead Zone, sun-mad, in the desert of their own collective mind. Pop-Pop bent down towards the golem-like figure and spoke unto it, “So, you must be the young Dog-Star Magnetron IV I’ve heard so much about, what you got there son?” One tiny eye tilted upwards in partial acknowledgement of Pop-Pop’s presence, and a strange lisping rasp replied, “It tastes like The Sun”.

The moon

The vendor at the Barren Zone bazaar lifted his micro-mirrored eye-patch and winked a milky-white blind eye: “Tell me what do ya think?” A leathery hand reached out and passed the first human child a crumbly, cheese-like substance, which he accepted, taking a tentative bite. “It tastes like the moon.”

In the beginning

The year is 2050. This is where we begin.

"If we stay the course we are dead. We are all DEAD.''


“In the long run, we're all dead.”


"On a long enough timeline, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero."

FC Narrator.

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