Sunday, 27 January 2008


the man stands in the doorway, face cracked and chiselled behind large, square-framed glasses of a decade-old design. his blond hair is neatly combed like a hokusai tsunami print. he shrugs the shoulders of his loose, leather jacket, casually takes a last drag of his cigarette and throws the end to the ground where it fizzes against the frost under his brown, suede shoe.

Monday, 21 January 2008

Secret Identity

The man pushes the glasses against the bridge of his nose with his middle finger. It is a practised, unconscious gesture that feels like it began because the man thought there was something attractive in the motion; something seen on TV, or a film with an actor a forgotten ex-girlfriend liked. Or maybe his glasses are just prone to slipping down, I don't know. Sometimes I over-analyse things. I sit and watch the people walking along the street, waiting for the the ones with a minute or two before they need to arrive where ever they are going and can spare the time for a cup of coffee. Then they disappear to buy their shoes, get to the meeting, see their friends, return to the office to get back to work on the presentation that needs to be done before the end of the day. It's all the same to me, especially in this deadzone of time after the early morning rush but before lunch. The only real change is when one of the regulars comes along, bringing a secret sign of complicity as the rare spark of recognition flares. Some of them talk to me but for others it is simply enough to know that we are connected in some human way amongst all the strangers. The man is not a regular. I haven't seen him before. I turn away at the sign of the flashing down the other end of the street. The row of skyscrapers are dull shadow in the mornings. There is a roll of dust and screams moving ahead of a giant, mechanical robot, all twisted metal and improbable arms. I swear as I see the bright yellow of the school bus raised above its insensate head. Perhaps because he is the last human in my mind I turn to where the man with the glasses was standing. He has gone. There is a blur of speed and darkness as something flies through the air towards the robot. The bus is torn from its grasp and I do not see what happens to it (I learn later it was deposited, safely, on a side street away with only minor injuries to the children). It is seconds later when the super returns, smashing his body through the robot's brain in a flaring of brilliant colours. I don't even see his logo to find out which one he is before he is gone, disappeared beyond the abbreviated city horizon, before the attack helicopters can scramble and attempt to bring him down. The robot is still falling, shattered, to the ground. There is grinding and sparks, the shattering of glass and more screams. Then it is over apart from the sirens.

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Bees (1)

I have always been fascinated by bees. Their clockwork society would be of an inevitable attraction to someone of my interests, I suppose, and now that I have retired to the rural pleasures of Sussex I can indulge myself with a slow placed learning of their intricacies. I check my post with a rare sense of anticipation for the arrival of some queerly printed magazine from the north or my latest dusty find in the advertisements in the papers of a rare and out-of-print book on the subject that might offer me some new insight into processes I might try and even modify or improve. Yet there is no real need for improvement. Often I feel that the bees continue on in their own perfect way oblivious to my actions.

There is something more than mechanical about them. As with my other, more famous, creation they are greater than the sum of their parts. There is a sense, an instinct there that I do not claim to ever be able to understand, nor do I wish to, but I am slowly coming to perceive it and even trust it.

When I go out that morning there is a certain agitation about them. I put it down to the prediction for rain later in the day and make a note to myself that I should go to the village shop early. After my usual inspections I hear the rare sound of an automobile coming along the road and wonder if, perhaps, the bees are warning me of something else. I remove my veil and pack it away slowly. The vehicle appears to have stopped in front of my house although I am not able to see it yet. Visitors always irritate me. I consider for a moment whether to feign absence. The knock at the door, however, is one of those that indicates the person is likely to be persistent and best dealt with quickly. Although I rarely have much need for one these days I miss having a house keeper to handle such people for me.

I open the door to a middle-aged large-set man wearing a dark, oversize overcoat that gives him the appearance of a rather shabby beatle. His bearing, moustache and grubby boots tell me that he is a policeman.

"Doctor," he says. "Sir. My name is Inspector Grande. May I come in? The matter I need to discuss is of some urgency."

I look at him with a sense of annoyance.

"It always is." I say. I turn, leaving the door open to allow him to follow me. "The kitchen is through here. I imagine you'd like some tea."

Sunday, 6 January 2008

China Taxi

Taxi rides always fill him with a mixture of awe and fear. They seem to sum up everything that is different about China from home. Over the quiet hum of of a million electric motors is a cacophony of downloaded kareoke horns; videos flickering along the side of taxis flashing advertising; teenagers scooters decorated in strange holos of their favourite pop sites, images of divas from Shanghai, Hong Kong and Taiwan smearing in the air around them competing with rappers and rock bands depending on dress and inclination. Sam is only 24 but the Chinese youth make him feel old and slow with their devotion to fashion, colours and gadgets.

The taxi ascends on to the freeway and the computers take over from the driver with a short warning beep and a scripted message in Chinese, Hindi and English informing them of the additional insurance charge and their rights in the case of an accident. The messages are barely audible under the thud of the driver's Taoist Tech beats. The driver still has a limited say in the direction of the vehicle but primary control now rests with the computers of the central traffic control. The movement on the freeway, though, is not the steady calm grace of motorways back home, but an acceleration into speeds nearing 150 kph amid a chaos of shifting lanes and variable speeds. Lines marking the road's natural channels become mere indicators as 5 lanes of traffic shift in the space seemingly made for only four. The traffic constantly weaves in and out amongst each other with only inches to spare, determined by complex flocking algorithms that European and American governments would never have the courage to trust.

After a short ride they spiral back down to street level again, the adrenaline of the trip metallic in Sam's mouth, and the driver dumps him with a disinterested grunt of thanks onto the edge of the pedestrianised shopping area.

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

First Post

The ticking of my watch does not match the movement it makes. I'm afraid it may be happening again. People pass in staccato laughter, tears and shouts. I close my eyes and wait for it to stop.