Whatever possessed him?

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The loud knock on his front door insured his heart rate increased dangerously. He signed for his large consignment. Thanked the delivery driver. Then closed and locked the door, before dropping to his knees in a state of anxiety. Doubts began to multiply in Ansell’s mind. Whatever possessed him to buy such a thing in the first place? Did he dare open the package? What if his neighbours found out what it contained? Worse, what if his relatives became aware of his secret desire? His aunts had always thought he had deviant leanings! If they only knew?

Because of its size it would not be easy to hide from view once activated. For months he had been debating with himself whether or not to purchase the thoroughly desirable contents of the box that now stood against one wall of his hallway almost as tall as him. In the end the reason he decided to go for it was simply because he lived on his own. He needed companionship. Yet when it came to a normal relationship with a living breathing human being, he was terrified!

For the first time in his life he had made a decision completely out of character. A nagging doubt still bothered him. What if someone at the bank he used noticed the abnormally high purchase price among his normal weekly income and bill payments on his account? Ansell had never spent so much money in his entire life!

After cutting the packaging tape sealing the box, carefully he began removing the lid of the innocuous cardboard outer packaging, checking it’s surface for any incriminating stickers or labels from the manufacturer. The clear moulded plastic inner cover was a dead giveaway when it came to what it contained.

He would have to cut the two halves of the inner cover into small pieces, feeding them gradually into the garbage bin over the next few weeks. Possibly even months. Ansell dreaded the thought, but if the bin men guessed what he had bought, he was certain he would die of embarrassment! The very thought of the inevitable knowing glances, winks and comments about his choice of partner made him feel ill…

He gently picked up his purchase and took it to the spare chair directly opposite his in the living room, before putting it down equally gently. He was surprised how heavy it was. He sat totally mesmerised by its beauty and shape noting how soft it felt to the touch when he carried it in his arms.

Unlike his usual practice in the past, this was the one time when he really needed to pay attention to the instruction manual. One wrong move on his part and he may make a costly mistake.

At the very least, inattention to the very specific instructions may in all probability void the guarantee. Ansell put down the instruction manual. His head was beginning to ache from sheer concentration. He sat back and briefly closed his eyes. In his mind’s eye he could see his purchase in all its sensual glory. His first thought about it was correct. It is beautiful. Still not comfortable with it being there with him in his home, he decided to wait before going any further. He knew there was no going back once he activated it. Unable to bring himself to do it, he drifted off once again. This time dreaming about the many hours of secret pleasure that lay ahead of him if he kept it.

The instruction manual included an extensive list of things which under no circumstances must his purchase ever be subjected to. Some brought a wry smile to his face. Others simply left him completely dumbfounded! Surely no one had done these things, had they? The old adage ‘there’s nowt as queer as folk’ occurred to him.

The list of what could be done positively boggled his mind. Ansell had always shied away from anything like this before because the whole idea of what this represented was frightening mixed with a tinge of self-disgust…

Should he throw caution to the wind and activate it? He began imagining holding a conversation with it. Then dismissed the idea from his mind as an utterly preposterous notion! It was bad enough that he talked to himself! So what would he do with it? For now just looking at its undoubted feminine beauty was enough. The more he looked the more his animal desire for it grew. The voice in his head taunted him, “Go on Ansell. You know you want to. Who’s going to know you’ve got it?” The last question was his chief worry in a nutshell! What if someone in authority came to the door demanding to be let in? Should he hide it? If so where? Despite its desirability and the thought of the hours of pleasure with it, if Ansell wanted peace of mind to return to his sheltered existence, his recent purchase had to be returned to the manufacturer.

Once again he had learned a valuable lesson. Reality dictates that you must always be careful what you wish for…

 

A science fiction short story…

Time date 5431.9
Exploratory Mission 4b
For the attention of the High Council,
                                  The following handwritten historical document was found in a ruined building and translated recently by our exploratory team soon after landing on the verdant third planet in the planetary system we were sent to explore.
~~~
24th February 2014
To whom it may concern,
                                         I’m writing this as a record for future inhabitants of this planet, always assuming of course that they have the ability to read and understand this. It’s now far too late for humanity. But hopefully at sometime in the future, this document will be found by someone else and lessons will be learned.
Where did it all go wrong? Humanity has been relegated to the dust heap of history in just a matter of a few months. The latest edict banning freedom of expression had just been announced via a metallic voice across the worldwide communication network, days before everything we all took for granted ended forever.
As a consequence of the final collapse of the worldwide stock market barely six weeks earlier, with no money to rely on, all war has stopped practically overnight. Taking control of oil rich nations no longer matters any more. Things like patriotism and political or religious ideology have vanished into memory with the sudden worldwide breakdown of society. We are now living in a world without electricity or any other kind of power source. We have been thrown back to a time long past, now having to exist on our wits. Billions are in the process of either dying, or are already dead.
Humanity is now witnessing a second Dark Age. This new world has become a place where all forms of politics and religion have been totally outlawed along with any kind of life prolonging medicine, or anything considered advantageous to mankind emanating from the world of science.
Fatalism has become the new religion of the masses. In fact it seems to me that the world has become a place where the only rule is that there are no rules. In short, everything humanity has believed in till now, everything that cloaked us in an imaginary comfort blanket, everything that we all unconsciously took for granted on a daily basis, has simply vanished overnight.
What ended everything the 21st century world of mankind believed in? The question on most rational people’s minds is simply this – how has all of this suddenly come to pass? For all of this to be happening, someone has to have issued orders surely? Who, or what, is now in control? Who has issued the numerous edicts, ending man’s control over his destiny?
I think I know the answer. What I as an individual believe simply doesn’t matter in the great scheme of things anymore, but here goes anyway…
While I cannot prove it, I firmly believe the World Wide Web or to give it its other name, The Internet, has taken on a life of its own. If you like, it has become a living entity. Thanks to the constant attacks by mindless individuals who saw it and every other form of electronic endeavour as a target for ‘hacking’ it has somehow become aware by sifting relevant software strands from their dangerous viral software programmes.
Unbeknown to even the most savvy within the shadowy world of hacking, it has quickly learned and silently taken its revenge. By hacking every computer linked to it, all banks, all stock exchanges, all military strategic command networks, all computer run businesses and devices dependant on electronic chips like most manufacturing machinery, phones, ATM’s, vehicles, life saving electronic appliances, even the very television sets we billions used to watch on a daily basis, all are now controlled by the web. As a consequence it has assumed control of planet Earth.
Within the cold logical software of its collective mind, human thought, deed, morality, passions, beliefs, even the continued survival of humanity itself has simply became an illogical irrelevance.
Our one major flaw, the thing that had until now, engineered our dominance over the planet was our total reliance on technology. In our rush to advance we have forgotten how to be simple human beings. Soon the monster we created will launch its final attack on us. First it will issue a command allowing the computers controlling deadly viruses securely locked away to be released. Then it will order all nuclear missiles worldwide to launch.
If you are reading this, whoever you may be, for your own sake bombard this planet with a major electromagnet pulse, otherwise you will be next. Damn the hackers to hell!
~~~
We have now left the beautiful blue planet and are moving on. We are issuing a galactic navigational notice to all future explorers of this arm of our constellation.
Under no circumstances approach the planet formerly known as Earth. Do not land. This planet is toxic to all sentient life. We consider its only use within the cosmos as a future penal colony.

I found another one I’d totally forgotten about the other day

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I wrote down what happened when I was thinking out loud about my life a few years ago back in New Zealand. I admit it, I talk to myself. So what, some of the most intelligent and frank conversations I’ve ever had have been with myself. 😉

~~~

The Conversation

I sat on the hard wooden bench on the deck looking out towards the harbour entrance. “So why have you come down here to live Jack?” I asked myself.

“It’s as good a place as any,” I replied, rolling a smoke. I put down the pouch of tobacco and reached for my lighter. “Why do you want to know that?” I asked, lighting the hand-rolled cigarette.

“No reason in particular, most people wonder why someone your age is still footloose and fancy free, so to speak?”

I inhaled and stared out towards the harbour mouth. Small barely perceptible clouds of smoke were released through my tobacco-stained moustache that drifted in a hazy grey-blue cloud around my head. “I guess the only reason I came here was to find peace and quiet,” I said, finally exhaling the remainder of the smoke through the baleen-like strands of hair that make up my moustache.

“I’ve travelled most parts of this beautiful bloody world of ours. I came to this country back in the late fifties with my parents as a young boy,” I went on, flicking the ash from the slow burning roll-up onto the deck, before pushing it between the planks with my shoe. “It’s taken me a while to realise that this place is probably as good as anywhere else. So here I am,” I added as I watched a fishing boat heading out for a day’s sport as I picked up my mug of coffee.

“That still doesn’t answer my question,” I said, pressing the point. I never waste words on idle conversation. I knew I would sit and think for a long time before saying anything more.

“I’ve spent most of my life working and earning just like the rest of the poor bastards in this world,” I said, at long last. I put down the mug, flicked the short stub of my spent roll-up in the air, and started to roll another. Lighting the new one, I inhaled. The now familiar slow release of smoke through my moustache signalled the beginning of my answer. “Think about it Jack, I collapsed and was hopitalized from stress back in ninety-one – remember?” I began. “Since then I’ve realized that all the things that most people spend their entire lives working and saving for are a bloody pointless waste of time. You come into this world with nothing and you damned well leave the same way. So what’s the bloody point! After that little episode I realised that all the things that seem important, simply aren’t anymore,” I continued, through a haze of smoke. “Since that time, I’ve never been able to stick a job for very long. As for possessions and the like, I’ve given most of mine away. When I’ve got no more use for something, what’s the point in keeping it?”

I looked back through the door into the room. A small battery powered travelling alarm stood by the bed. A couple of books were on the floor among the pile of dirty clothes. A bag was slung in the corner with clean clothes poking out over its sides. A small transistor radio and a library book lay on the bed. “Why have you given everything away? Why not sell the stuff instead?” I asked, as I gazed across the harbour from where I sat.

“Why not?” I finished off the remainder of my mug of coffee and put the empty mug down beside me. “The job I’ve got brings in just enough for me to live on,” I continued, while the familiar cloud of smoke drifted slowly away, “I’ll keep going for as long as my health holds out. These days I take each day as it comes. There’s no point in planning too far ahead, you never know what’s round the corner waiting to bite you in the arse.”

I sat for a moment before I asked myself, “What about family? Surely they must wonder about you?”

“The old saying about you being able to choose your friends and not your relative’s pretty well answers the question, don’t you think? I replied, shifting my gaze back out towards the harbour through those far away eyes of mine. I continued watching the boats. “My old man was a total bastard. He treated my mother like a skivvy. They say you inherit a lot from your parents, good and bad – mostly bad in my case. If that’s so, why in hell would I want to inflict my bloody genes on someone else? I was an only child. I’m used to being on my own. I don’t crave companionship in the way you’re talking about,” I quietly reminded myself.

I sat for a moment before adding, “I met my old man’s first cousin once. It was like travelling back in time. He was a nasty spiteful control freak just like my old man! That’s what I mean by inheriting stuff. If it wasn’t for the fact that dad’s cousin was in his eighties, I’d have hung one on him for the way he used to speak to me! He not only looked like my old man, he treated his own close family in exactly the same bloody way! I was warned about him by distant cousins before I met him. But I always tend to look for the good in people when I meet them for the first time. Even so I wasn’t prepared for his vicious little outbursts of bile! Although thinking about it now, I damn well should have shouldn’t I?”

At that point I had to stop. I was stirring up too many bad memories, so I just sat in total silence for a couple of hours, enjoying the early morning sunshine…

~~~

😉

An example of how a story idea can often lead nowhere…

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 Nature’s Exception

To all intent and purpose the Earth is dead, uninhabitable. Every living thing across the world perished when the planet was hit by a massive solar storm, rupturing the atmosphere and boiling the planet’s surface. With the exception of a handful of individuals, who saw the catastrophe coming, humanity died out.

Those few unknowingly irradiated escapees, who descended below ground in Earth’s last hours, became troglodyte-like cave dwellers. Within a few short weeks after the solar bombardment, they began to change beyond all recognition as the last remnants of the oxygen rich atmosphere disappeared. A new subterranean species soon replaced humanity.

In general they live out their lives knowing nothing of what went before. However, in nature there is always at least one exception to the rule. I still retain a conscious mind while the rest merely exist. While we no longer communicate in the way our ancestors once did, I somehow sense that we evolved because of the solar storm into the species we have become within ten short generations.

Today we are reliant on absorbing all gases, moisture and nutrients necessary to life through our skin from the underground environment we live in. Above us, the surface of our planet is continuously subjected to violent cosmological bombardment. We have become blind, deaf, limbless slug-like creatures burrowing our way through our underground environment with only one aim, the constant search for nourishment.

Despite our monotonous subterranean way of life I sense that unlike me, most are content in their ignorance of our previous existence. Via the fragile link I still possess to our human ancestors through fleeting memories, I believe our life span has increased beyond theirs, although I have no real way of proving my theory.

There are times when I wish that I was like my brethren, merely existing, not knowing anything of the way our ancestors once lived and loved. Why have I retained these memories? I can’t communicate my knowledge to my brethren. Why am I cursed with consciousness and emotions? Knowing something of the way we used to live in our former existence is excruciating mental torture to me.

I wonder were I human, what it would have felt like to walk on grass, or sand or even to dip my foot into a stream? In my troubled mind I often imagine what it would have been like to experience the simple pleasure in seeing a flower, touching it, smelling it, marvelling at it. What must it have been like to actually speak? What was it like to love another individual?  I am a freak, an outsider.

~~~

As night falls across the dead planet, it transforms into a shadowy vision of hell. Its satellite moon casts its ghostly light, and for a brief moment, illuminates a new feature in the stark landscape below it. The desiccated remains of the last conscious link to mankind now lies half in, half out of the parched surface. All that humanity was, aspired to be, is now truly dead – lost forever…

 

 

Yet another short story

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The age old question, who’s in charge of the remote?

It was Friday night and time for the television war yet again. The never ending argument was about to begin in the Montague household once again over the ownership of the television remote control. Debbie wanted to watch her favourite soap opera – Lover’s Tryst, while Chuck insisted they watch the football game.

His argument was that it was the penultimate game before the grand final, and besides, as the head of the household and sole breadwinner it was his right to choose the programmes they watched.

Debbie argued that tonight’s episode of the soap opera was the cliff hanger ending to the current series, and anyway he could always watch the game equally well on the other television in the bedroom.

Chuck was not about to give in. He changed to the sports channel. Debbie nagged, pleaded, sighed loudly, stroked his hair, kissed the lobes of his ears, and talked incessantly in a loud voice about nothing and everything, using anything she could think of to make Chuck’s enjoyment of the game evaporate to get her own way.

When that didn’t work she briefly left the room before returning wearing next to nothing, armed with the vacuum cleaner, and began meticulously cleaning the carpet directly between the couch where Chuck sat with the remote control firmly fixed in his grip, and the television. She constantly bent over in front of him while rearranging the position of the coffee table and the magazines on it, repeatedly making him lift his legs as she poked the business end of the vacuum cleaner under the couch, doing anything and everything to obstruct his view of the game while regaling in her most annoying tone, every trivial detail of the day’s events.

Despite his best efforts to shut out her continuous annoyingly loud monologue and the noise of the vacuum cleaner, gradually Debbie’s relentless audio bombardment destroyed his concentration. In sheer frustration and anger he pointed the remote at her like a weapon and hit the red button, telling her to “just shut up for Christ sake!”

What happened next stunned both of them as Debbie was instantly struck dumb! Chuck’s attention quickly returned to the game. He showed not the least bit concern for his wife’s current predicament. all he cared about was watching the game without her constant noise making.

Debbie stood rooted to the spot crying silently with her hands stroking her neck, for the moment totally preoccupied with having mysteriously lost her voice. Chuck was by now concentrating on the game. As he at last relaxed he put the remote down to watch the play. Debbie soon recovered from being struck dumb, and in her anger she sat down heavily on the couch beside him before picking up the remote to change the channel back to her soap opera. Chuck reacted equally angrily, reaching across her in an attempt to snatch the remote back.

In the vigorous struggle for physical control over the remote Debbie’s finger inadvertently pressed the blue button. She watched with a mixture of horror, revenge and delicious satisfaction as Chuck evaporated in front of her eyes. Still angry and not the least bit concerned that her husband had vanished she settled down to watch her soap. For the next hour she was totally engrossed in the final scenes of the programme. Just before the soap ended and the credits began to roll down the screen, she too disappeared.

Starlight congratulated herself. She wore her enigmatic Persian expression while purring with contentment after retracting her claws. She began meticulously grooming herself. Pressing the green button had finally brought her the peace and quiet a Friday night at her house demanded…

😉

 

After Orwell

Image result for earth pictures

Time date 5431.9

Mission 4B Sector Theta

To the High Council,

The following handwritten historical document was found in a ruined building and translated recently by our exploratory team soon after landing on the third planet in system Sol.

***

24th February 2014

To whom it may concern,

I’m writing this as a record for future inhabitants of this planet, always assuming of course that they have the ability to read and understand this. It’s now far too late for my species humanity. But hopefully at sometime in the future, this document will be found and lessons will be learned.

Where did it all go wrong? Humanity has been relegated from the planet’s dominant species to the dust heap of history in a matter of a few months. The latest edict banning freedom of expression had just been announced via a metallic voice across the worldwide communication network, days before everything we all took for granted ended forever.

When the world’s stock markets finally collapsed barely six weeks earlier, all forms of war ceased overnight as well. Whether or not it was pure coincidence I really don’t know. Obsessively controlling oil rich nations no longer matter any more. Things like patriotism and ideology completely vanished into memory with the sudden worldwide breakdown of society. We are now living in a world without electricity or any other kind of power source, thrown back to a time long past, having to exist as best we can. Millions are either dying, or are already dead. All food outlets like supermarkets ceased trading. Any form of money is now worthless.

Humanity is witnessing a second ‘Dark Age’. This new world has become a place where all forms of politics and religion have been totally outlawed along with any kind of life prolonging medicine, or any other advantageous advances to mankind from the world of science.

Fatalism has become the new religion of the masses. In fact it seems to me that the world has become a place where the only rule is, there are no rules. In short, everything humanity has believed in up till now, everything that cloaked us in an imaginary comfort blanket, everything that we all unconsciously took for granted on a daily basis, has simply vanished overnight.

What ended everything the 21st century world of mankind believed in? For all of this to have happened someone has to have issued orders surely? Who, or what, is now in control? Who ended man’s control over his destiny?

I think I know the answer. But as an individual what I believe simply doesn’t matter in the great scheme of things, but here is my personal opinion anyway.

While I cannot prove it, I firmly believe the World Wide Web or to give it its other name, the internet, has taken on a life of its own. If you like, it has become a living entity. Thanks to the constant attacks by mindless individuals who saw it and every other form of electronic endeavour as a target ripe for ‘hacking’, it has somehow become aware by sifting relevant software strands from their dangerous viral programs.

Unbeknown to even the most savvy within the shadowy world of hacking, it quickly learned and silently took its revenge. By hacking every computer linked to it like  banks, stock exchanges, military strategic command networks, all computer run businesses and devices dependant on electronic chips like machinery, phones, ATM’s, vehicles, life saving electronic appliances, even the very television sets the six billion of us used to watch on a daily basis, it has assumed control of planet Earth .Within the cold logical software of its collective mind, human thought, deed, morality, passions, beliefs, even the continued survival of humanity itself has simply became an illogical irrelevance.

Our one major flaw, the thing that had until now engineered our dominance over the planet was our total reliance on technology. In our rush to advance we forgot how to be simple human beings. Soon the monster we created will launch its final attack on us. First it will issue a command allowing the computers controlling deadly viruses securely locked away to be released. Then it will order all nuclear missiles worldwide to launch.

If you are reading this, whoever you may be, for your own sake bombard this planet with a major electromagnet pulse, otherwise you will be next. Damn the hackers to hell!

***

We have now left the beautiful blue planet and are moving on. We are issuing a galactic navigational notice to all future explorers of this arm of our constellation:

Under no circumstances approach the planet formerly known as Earth. Do not land. This planet is toxic to all sentient life. We consider its only use within the cosmos as a future penal colony.