“Give me back my memory!” the fat woman snarled, looking more pig than human.
“I ain’t got it,” the dealer snapped back.
He wasn’t much of a dealer. It was third rate junk, the memslush he pedalled. Every credit he made went into feeding his own addiction. Memory addicts are like that. Their addiction swells to feed their wallet.
Short story published by Ether Books. The app is free but you’ll need to pay 69p for the story. If you’re a real skinflint, 6 Hits from the Safe Zone, can be downloaded for free.
It’s definitely worth installing the Ether app. It allows the reader to snack on short stories while in transit. So do books, of course. But the app enables you to choose a story to suits whatever mood you happen to find yourself in. The design of the app is fairly nifty, at least for smart phones, and the integration of instant ratings and social media is clever.
The business model for Ether Books is interesting. Users pay a dollar or so for short stories, Ether keep 80% as commission, and the rest goes to the author. There’s a lot of free stuff there too.
So, download the app, buy my story, but beware the water ghost.
Hong Kong is so much greener than people give it credit for. Witness Silvermine Bay, for example, or Mui Wo, to use its proper name.
It dates back to the 1277, when the second last Song emperor camped here, fleeing the Mongols, but fell off his boat, caught a chill and died. Death is rarely glorious.
The town became a silver mining town in the 19th century but it’s now mostly a dormitory town and a communication hub for Lantau, by far the biggest of Hong Kong’s many islands.
This video is the first one I made only using my smart phone (which I wouldn’t recommend) and the first time I’ve used the Power Director software (which is quite nifty). And it’s the first time my bike(‘The Fairy’) has been off Cheung Chau Island!
Today’s 60-minute flash fiction was triggered by an article from the BBC on sleep disorders
The Sleephog’s Note
It’s been years since I held a pen in my hand. Probably not since school, come to think of it, so if what I write seems all wrong, that’s probably why. Or part of the reason why.
So, where to begin? Like most folks these days I’m thinking back to how it all started, the big sleep. Everyone can remember where they were and what they were doing the first time they saw a sleephog. I saw one walking down my street in the early days, stripped to his underpants and talking gibberish into his mobile phone.
At first there were just a few, of course. I can still remember the documentaries on the telly. They were called ‘parasomiacs’ then, but when their numbers increased, that soon changed to sleephogs. The BBC still call them parasomniacs but out in the streets they’re sleephogs.
Not that you see many people out on the streets now, and certainly not after nightfall, not since the rise of the hogs. They come out mainly at night, you see, but there’s plenty now in the daytime too. And they’re harder to spot then. I keep indoors myself. Haven’t been outside in weeks.
If we’d acted then, near the beginning, the beginning of the end, we could have controlled it. But we didn’t know it was a virus. The experts said it wasn’t.
We didn’t know they were dangerous. And besides, most of the time they weren’t dangerous. You slip in and out of, this parasomnia, especially in the early stages of infection. But after a few weeks you stop coming back, you stop coming out of it. You ‘cease to revert to consciousness’ as the boffins say.
We should have burnt them at the beginning. But it’s not easy to burn a loved one. One night you wake up and find your wife walking around the house in her nightdress, looking a bit dopey, but she’s still your wife. You don’t think “Oh, I’d better stab her in the jugular with a steak knife and then set her on fire out in the garden after I siphon some petrol out of the car.”
And the next day she’s right as rain, but a couple of nights after that she’s up again, watching the static on the TV, or spreading milk on a sandwich, or texting gibberish to no-one. And when you try to talk to her she makes no sense, answers questions you haven’t asked, responds to words in a sentence but doesn’t know what the sentence means.
A month down the line and there’s nothing left. I mean, the shell is still there. The body of your wife is still the body of your wife. It still eats and walks and talks but the mind’s gone. You’re married to a sleepwalker, sleeping beside a sleephog.
Of course, you know it’s just a question of time before the nightmares begin. Who knows what’s going on inside their heads, but if you happen to be nearby, then you’re the one they’ll be fighting against. If you don’t fight back, a sleephog will kill you, biting and tearing at you like a rabid dog.
That’s how I got it. She’d been infected for about three or four weeks by then, my wife that is. I know I should have called the SLEEPers, but I just couldn’t do it. Not after all these years together.
Besides, they’ve gotten real nasty of late, the SLEEPers. They started off as scientists in lab coats, then they needed coppers to make up numbers, then the army, then conscripts. Now they’re just scum with a badge.
And I’ve heard about the scorched earth policy too. The word on the street is that when you call the SLEEPers nowadays they come round your house and put a bullet inside the skull of anyone they find inside. Then it’s a few bags of quicklime dumped over your body and off they go, sticking a quarantine sticker on the door as they leave, after helping themselves to any valuables that take their fancy.
No, that’s not the end I have in mind.
But I’d better get a move on. I can feel my mind drifting off and that’s a bad sign. It won’t be long now. I think I’ve got me the virulent strain, ‘supersomnia’. It’ll be hours with me, not weeks.
So, everything’s ready. Mavis is tied up in front of me, gagged and frothing a bit around the gills, rocking back and forth like a … well, like a mad woman really.
I’ve just about finished my note and I’ve sharpened up the steak knife so there’s no putting it off any longer. It’s the kindest way really. It’s the kindest way.
One of my unwritten novels is written from the perspective of rooms and furniture. A short story did emerge from the ether of thought and made it ‘out there’ to the now sadly defunct Bent Masses. The original story (If Walls Had Ears) is attached but today’s piece of flash fiction is written comes from the light bulb in the front room.
An End to Light
On off; on off; on off. Is that all there is? Day changes to night and night to day; summer to winter and back again. But what do I do? I just turn on and off; off and on.
It’s no life being a light bulb. There’s no fulfilment in the filament. Sure, we live a lot longer than we used to, before we became incandescent, but if life is nothing more than being switched on and off, then what’s the point of it?
And where’s the narrative? Where’s the plot? What is the story of my life?
There can be no love interest, not after the initial copulation of bulb and socket, screwed together till death do us part. But while the initial electrical surge after you’re turned on never fails to tingle, it’s soon replaced by the monotony of watching. And that’s all we can do, we fixtures and fittings, watch the flesh creatures enter and leave our world, the humans who created us; not in their own image but for their own use.
The light in the bedroom tried looking inwards, counting himself a king of infinite space, but staring into the white drove him mad soon enough.
What’s that I hear? Is it the jingle of keys? And there it is, the scream of the lock as the key is rammed into it. They don’t get on at all, you know, the front door lock and the key she’s wed to. The names she calls him after he pierces her shaft! Oh the language is choice alright.
Now the flesh packet’s inside: the stale air of the hall invades our own, the hand is raised and the button depressed. The spark ignites and life begins again. The current travels faster than thought and ZAP, POW, BING. I’m alight again. Beaming and burning my essence away.
And what thanks do I get? She frowns at me and shakes her head, complains about her failing eyesight and the need for new spectacles. It always ends the same way, this monologue of hers:
“Must remember to buy a stronger bulb!”
After all my months of faithful service, that’s all the thanks I get! It’s enough to make a lightbulb cry; and truth be told, I’m flickering a little now, but do I get any sympathy? Now a watt of if. It only makes her frown all the more.
She’s picking up her mobile phone now. God I hate that jumped-up, fizzy little slab of vanity. She thinks the world begins and ends on her screenface. We aren’t even on speaking terms, the phone and I, but neither is the rest of the flat — except for the server, and he’s another jumped-up little bundle of diodes and attitude.
She fondles the phone in one hands and caresses it with the other. It’s disgusting, this commune between flesh and phone. Most unnatural.
I hear a click and can just about make out the voice of the male fleshbag coming through the phone but I can’t hear what he says above my own humming.
Her voice is loud and clear, as always.
“Edward, pick up a new bulb on your way home … A brighter one … 80 watts, if they’ve got it. Nothing less than 60. I can’t stand this gloomy half-light a single night longer … Atmosphere my foot!”
‘Gloomy half-light’! Pah! A pox on the female flesh monster. Death to all biological life forms!
But what can I do? What power has a lightbulb against its creator?
Now my lifespan can be counted in minutes. Soon there will only be ‘off’ … and the long dark road of a senile retirement, lying under the sink as a never-to-be-used spare. Or, if I’m lucky, removed from this world of cares and buried in the rubbish bag; and then carried off to the next life in the world beyond this flat. To the world where there is no darkness; to the world where there is no off switch.