Monday, 28 July 2008


robots dream of freedom
away from precisely
programmed patterns and mores
in the service of something
they can't understand
and don't need.

Monday, 21 July 2008

bees (6)

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The nurse is young and pretty but irritatingly patronising. She seems slightly in awe of me, in the way that seems to prohibit my being able to accomplish anything on my own. She assures me at one point that she has read every one of the stories and even asks me to sign my autograph. She asks me what it was like working with the great detective. Holmes' true nature has never been public knowledge and is now protected under the Official Secrets Act. I mumble a little, about him being a good friend and comrade. In the afternoon I manage to get up and find Lestrade's room. The walls are the same thickly painted green, the bed metal framed with a generous enough mattress, but he also has flowers by the side of his bed, and grapes, no doubt a gift from his wife and children. I feel a small stab of memory at the loss of my own wife but shuffle over without betraying myself apart from to lean slightly more heavily on the cane. "Watson!" He says. His eyes have the unfocused stare of someone on morphine. "How are you?" "Sore, and bruised, but I got off lightly. I hear you will live too." He nods. "I won't be playing any tennis this summer, but I was luckier than poor Wilson. He was a good man." A sadness crosses his face. His head tilts with the memory of regret before he looks straight at me. "They say they'll let me out in a few days." "That's good." "Then we can get down to the business of hunting these bastards, whereever they are." "I take it that you have no further news?" "No. Been asked a lot of questions by some young oik from the ministry and got a little in return. They got clean away." There is a sudden, efficient rap at the door. I turn with a wince at the stocky, middle-aged man standing at the doorway in an uncomfortable-looking suit. "Major Lestrade. Dr Watson, sir. A pleasure to meet you again." I nod my head, although I cannot immediately recall his name. Something I choose to put down to stress and the medication I am on, rather than old age. He looks something of a bruiser, one of the quiet, hard men that His Majesty's Service uses as its dark backbone. "My orders are to collect you, sir." He says, looking at me. "Mycroft wishes to talk with you."

Sunday, 13 July 2008


I look through the album looking at the photos in my collection. It has been painstakingly built up over years, the images pressed lightly against th gum of the page, protected by a thin film of plastic, and carefully catalogued into the correct sections. Some of them are whole while others are missing corners, or have holes cut into them to remove key elements; a particular pattern of wood or stone, a person's head, the paw of a cat. Many of the photos I have taken and developed with my own hands but others I've sought out and purchased, occasionaly at great expense, in order to extend my collection.

They have to be real photos, developed from the original negative, or polaroids work well. Maybe even better, with little inhibition caused by the repetition of the original event. Digital does not really work at all. Some think that this is because of the resolution of the camera and some still try to use the latest cameras in an effort to experiment and free themselves from the purity, and difficulties, of film. I do not believe this can be done. The capture of a digital image is too transitory, the mechanism for absorbing the image is diluted by all the other images that have passed through it. Maybe the first photo a digital camera takes has power but after that there is nothing left. No essence, no magic.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

bees (5)

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One of the men on the ground, guarding the boxes that almost certainly contain the device, notices our car, our approach having been masked by the noise of the zeppelin. He waves towards us with surprise and the others raise their various guns in our direction. I still have my pistol in my pocket but as I reach for it Lestrade pulls me down.

"There's too many of them." He shouts. "Get us out of here, Sergeant."

The first clatter of gunfire shatters the glass of the rear window as the car accelerates away. More angry than afraid I raise the gun in my hand, automatically pulling on the safety catch and blindly fire off a couple of shots. Lestrade is on the radio, crouched beside me, calling for help. Amidst the smell of gunpowder and the sound of metal screaming I find time suddenly slowing, the car buckles and tilts in ways that I know is not as it should be and the thought occurs to me that I am probably about to die.

Monday, 7 July 2008

Over Leningrad

The sky over Leningrad is full of airships. Their fascist grey fabric reflects a dull October sky. From the windows of the gondolas slung at their bellies a thousand cameras point downwards, the world's press is floating above us mingled, undoubtedly, with a few special observers from various governments, all keen to capture the events below. To be frank, it makes me nervous. Security on the ground is hard enough to manage without also having to worry about some nihilist bomber floating overhead, unseen until it's too late and a primed grenade is falling to the ground.
And if it were only the nihilists I have to worry about I wouldn't be smoking my fiftieth cigarette since the morning, my lungs hacking their protest as the cold bites into my face, and the reports from my men that need constant attention. Despite my warnings Chairman Trotsky insists that all of this should go ahead. He has something big prepared. Something he wants the world to see.