It did not come with electricity or a smash of static on the air, but it was there. Braelin Cordelis, five minutes into the darkness of a new day, a streetlight’s glow falling through his window like a subtle visitor, was caught on the edge of his chair. Knowledge flowed to him, information of a most sublime order, privacy, intimacy, all in one slow sweep of the air; his grandson was just now, just this minute, into this world, his only grandson. He could feel him, that child coming, making way his debut into the universe, and his name would be Shag. And for this life he and Shag would be in a mysterious and incomprehensible state of connection. This, in the streetlight’s glow, in the start of a new day though dawn not yet afoot, he was told.
My Uncle Jonathan was a wonderful writer and an even better storyteller. By that I mean he was gifted with a vivid imagination when recounting events from his colorful past. How much of his writing was accurate has always been up for debate. But if only half of what he swore to be the truth were true, the man lived a rich and fortunate life.
We have now reached week 147. I have sometimes used the number as an inspiration and this was one of the more obvious ones.
In the heart of the Argonne Forest, Private Henry Johnson stood in his foxhole with Needham Roberts. They were both on sentry duty, watching for any enemy movement. It had been quiet most of the day, and so Needham took this silence as an invitation to run his mouth like usual.
Jock’s folding his pyjamas back under his pillow when he hears it. A low, growling hiss. His twin daughters are elsewhere, probably playing in the walls, so it’s just him and the mannequin dressed as his wife in the bedroom. He’s searching for the source of the noise when the duvet shifts on the bed. It’s a slight movement, like wind-ruffled marram grass, but it’s something. Carefully, he pulls back the covers, revealing the green and yellow-chevroned scales of a king cobra.
Enrique studied the faces around the table. The purchase committee dispensed their limited resources with utmost care. It was no surprise that the investment in another “staff” member should arouse such discussion. They didn’t object to using androids in schools, especially in the internment facilities, where the headcounts of students exceeded all conscionable limits. Within the southeast sector alone, an android already functioned efficiently as a janitor and two, female in aspect, doled out cafeteria food. The machine vetting the kids’ thin, government-issued bags at the building entrance possessed some enhanced intelligence. Three monitored the scrappy stretch of ground called a play area. But to order one with a limp, for the lower grades…
The first time the piano teacher walked up the two flights to our apartment, my mother rushed to help him. “Thank you, but I can manage,” he said as he tap-tapped his way up. He wore the thickest glasses I had ever seen. His eyeballs, massive behind the lenses, wobbled and darted – not quite focused on anything in particular. Tallish and round, he always wore a suit. His big shoes were shiny. Before he even entered the room, I could smell his cologne – heavy and manly. When he opened his mouth to speak, he sounded airy, womanly. Sometimes, when I’d play, he’d sing along in a shrilly opera-singer voice. I’M a yankee doodle dan-DEE…
When the German artillery finally ceased firing around sunset, Jack’s neck and shoulders slowly relaxed; he hadn’t realized he’d been tensing them all that time. The relentless shelling had forced his company to hunker in the trenches for over forty-eight hours. Now the silence unnerved him. The shelling could resume at any time, but the officers sent word that the men should rest as best they could.
Week 146 is a very special posting for me. It’s my hundredth. I started at week 46 so that makes 101 but Nik covered for me when I was on holiday.
It’s strange trying to get your head around the inclusive numbers so that 46-146 is actually 101. It’s like the days of the year, I still can’t work out why we have 365 (Forget the leap years.) There are fifty two weeks and there are seven days in a week so that adds up to 364. It must be a bank holiday that employers don’t tell us about and more importantly, don’t pay us for!
We went as far as his car would take us, driving past the smoking blue mountains of north Georgia and Tennessee, the hickory sweetness invading the cracked leather of our 1995 Chevrolet Cavalier, which was an indistinguishable red-brown-orange depending on which angle you looked at it from. We sped through the once-treasured nightmare of Detroit, the neglected chaotic sunset of Dallas. Yellowstone, freshly scorched and withered from its latest cleansing.