It’s not like we stood in line for this

Sterility and stale leaves. September always tasted the damn same.

Bastian pulled the cuff of his glove tight and turned away from the door, slipping low under the first of the windows. The humiliated drone would be searching for him, calculating which side street, which building he’d ducked into, how fast, how far he could have gone. The old library sliced a piece of history through heat recognition easy enough, but any visual movement, any contrast, and he was screwed.

As he reached the next window, Bastian flicked a deliberate glance towards the faded colours at the far end of the building. This time of year the rising sun and dawn collided. A double light that went scattering in embers across the pale, marble floor. Despite everything, the uncomfortable ache of belonging always clutched at his chest when he was here. Looking back, it was hard to figure how the complexities of love had kept him chained for so long.

He slid down against the wall and divided the shuttered space by 5.3. It would be easy enough for the world to judge his parents as responsible, they’d continued to push books on him long after the psychological damage they caused had been discovered. And for sure, his parents had taught him more about contrition and cruelty than any book ever could. But to give either of them credit? He smiled softly, that was like crediting a lamb for the meal you’d just cooked with its flesh.

As HIVE sounded out 6.30am, the first of the information drones arrived in the street outside, it was already streaming his cut-out image into 4 million waking minds, including his own. This was the bit that the breakers always forgot, and the bit that interested him most of all. He closed his eyes and rode back with the surf. It was like looking through the window of a sweet shop.

He felt the sigh before he heard it, ‘Seriously, Bastian?’

‘Hey, you can take the kid from the fun, but you can’t take the fun from the kid.’

‘The kid?’ Filligan Platt shot a sarcastic glance at his business partner, ‘From what I heard, that face came with the stone you were skulking under when your parents found you.’

‘I was born and I will die,’ Bastian tilted his head to catch the fragrance of amber rays, ‘just like every other bastard thing on this planet.’

‘Spare me the mission statement. Did you kick the drone again?’

Bastian shrugged, ‘It’s about time they upgraded their defence net. Any fool knows rubber and electricity never did get on.’ He turned to Filligan, ‘Did the shipment come in okay?’

‘Not as much as we’d hoped, we lost most of the A grade to distraction deals.’

‘Is there enough left?’

‘Maybe,’ Filligan flicked his thumb over his fingers, ‘it’s hard to tell until we unpack the rest.’

‘And my, personal order?’

‘Safe inside the C grade, it’s the first thing I checked.’

Bastian rumbled through a sigh, patting Filligan’s knee, ‘You’re the closest thing I have ever had to a friend.’

‘Does that mean you’ll stop fantasising about how you’re going to kill me?’

Bastian patted his knee again, ‘I told you, you’re the closest thing I have to a friend, I’m saving something really special for you.’

 

©2017 Jac Forsyth

 

HIVEMIND
Part 1 – I’ll slip into something more comfortable
Part 2 – Just depends what sort of mood I’m in.
Part 3 – It’s not like we stood in line for this
Part 4 – That first cut is always so damn sweet
Part 5 – After 9 days I let my mind run free

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Just depends what sort of mood I’m in

Bastian Celeste detested heroes. All that perverted selfishness and hidden agenda, where was the honesty in that? Sure, moral corruptions followed him around like a pack of rabid dogs, but lying had never been one of them.

He picked up a coffee at the station and ducked past the security checks, stone-skimming his phone ID across the surface of a dozen underground relays.

The woman had asked about his life too many times, her ill concealed hopes locked into the rhythm of his breathing. He’d given her Arthur, a media architect from Chichester. She wanted someone with an exciting credibility, but he’d slung in a subliminal Once and Future King for good measure. It was all about fantasy, even when they pretended it wasn’t.

Her phone had failed to load his QRID, so she’d printed off an inkjet copy and put it on her bedside table. He’d placed a strategic ring of tea over it as he left. Hell, it was fake anyway, but somehow tragedy always tasted of a sweeter and more permanent kind of cruel. He could have killed her a thousand times over, instead he made her cry out without even touching her. The mood for anything else hadn’t been on him. Sometimes it was like that. He’d never taken the time to figure out why.

The billboards flickered through another cascade of neon cubes. HIVE had bundled the IOT into a centralised unit and chopped everything else up into a target driven resource. It had been months since anything more than a punchy little strapline had made it past the public broadcast system. Freedom of choice was a dead sales pitch. And no one seemed to miss it very much.

He flicked a glance at a public safety drone that had circled down the alley ahead of him. He’d overshot his social permit by two hours, but what the hell, even he was in love with Arthur.

He was close enough to his street office to see that the ad-graphics on the door needed changing again, it didn’t pay to let any signs of business inertia creep in. They’d talked about replacing the cluttered panel with a clear, face recognition glass. It would have given them a much higher PS rating and an air tight way to conceal their more covert activities. But even with the incentive of government subsidies, it was still expensive shit to buy. Plus, ditching the ads would mean factoring the loss of tax-deductible revenue into an already sketchy looking end of year return. The business took virtually nothing through the legitimate checkouts now, discrepancies like that flagged up pretty damn quick on the HIVE, and the last thing they needed was another alarm generated inspection.

He could hear the drone buzzing, it must have picked him up as he crossed the street, this wasn’t gonna be easy. Bastian smiled, he hated it when things were easy.

 

©2017 Jac Forsyth

A return in your honour : drainbrainx

HIVEMIND
Part 1 – I’ll slip into something more comfortable
Part 2 – Just depends what sort of mood I’m in.
Part 3 – It’s not like we stood in line fore this
Part 4 – That first cut is always so damn sweet
Part 5 – After 9 days I let my mind run free

 

Tangled

Rains come rattling after the snakes, and she shines all the more for the venom they left behind. Woke up tied to the railings of a disused town. All the glass broken and just the signs, with only one good screw left in them. She’d check out. But the music just won’t let her go.

Dead leaves bend and break over and over and still look the same. Vinyl shuffled in all the right places, sparking like an AI system. She sighs of famine through the red tablecloth; greed always had all the aces. Makes no matter who deals the hand after that.

Drums on the roof. A song can get closer. Easy enough to get by on remembering how to feel. And most of the time it’s like they come holding up a mirror, looking to find out if they scrub up okay. She keeps the door open. No need to say goodbye when there was never a hello. Just the ghosts of this town, dressed in sheets. And black spots where their eyes should be.

Storm shakes the tumbleweed. She twists the blind shut and asks god to refasten the chains when he’s done.

©2017 Jac Forsyth

I’ll slip into something more comfortable…

The first thing that impressed people about Bastian Celeste was that he could speak two dozen languages. What they didn’t notice in all their admiring was that language was about control, and Bastian had an intent so complicated even he was unsure of how far down he’d crawled.

He flicked a glance at the pinnacle of youth sprawled out across his sofa. He was one of those kids who saw being under 25 as permission to rule the world. Every damn thing about him screamed – This is how you were once. Before you wasted your way through the magic lantern of frustrations. Bastian couldn’t be doing with it. He picked up his phone, scrolling through a series of imaginary texts, ‘If you’re going to waste my time, you should leave now.’

The young man didn’t even bother to look up.

‘Did you hear me?’

‘Yeah, I heard.’

The words came at him in slow motion artillery. What a fucking joke, like there had ever been anything to hear or not hear. Bastian smiled sweetly, but along the horizon the sun ripped up all the colours that weren’t red.

It was never really his fault, not when it came to it. It was more the familiarity of their arrogance that let them down. They always thought he was checking for texts because that’s what they did. Like the world was made in their image.

‘You know, most people are afraid of madness, because it has a fire in it they think they can’t predict. They forget that sanity comes in many …flavours.’ Bastian inhaled the word, gathering up the sickness in measured and treasured, ‘Have you ever put a jar over a wasp and watched it die trying to get out?’

The locking mechanisms were virtually silent. Bastian synced a satisfying clicking sound through the internal speakers. Fear was in the details.

He smiled again. Frankly, this was the best part. The bit when they realised who he was. And there was always enough victory in that moment to light a bonfire.

©2017 Jac Forsyth

9462347557_47b112e5fd_nImage courtesy of flickr.com

HIVEMIND

Part 1 – I’ll slip into something more comfortable
Part 2 – Just depends what sort of mood I’m in.
Part 3 – It’s not like we stood in line fore this
Part 4 – That first cut is always so damn sweet
Part 5 – After 9 days I let my mind run free