Tailbone soup

Down on the dark soiled plains

Grassy plateau frosted with marshmallow flowers

An occasional Bittary tree, glowing under the deep full moons

The giant planet would rise soon

Blue, dark in places, white clouds streaming across is

It was a sight that never grew old

It would rise every Friday, not setting for a whole week

Are they even Friday’s here?

Scuttled under the Bittery tree, I would wait until sunrise to move again

The flock of red, cow like animals that I pretended to look after would sit nearby. Most of them heavily pregnant

Then at midnight, or whatever it was here… a noise

I woke from the daze like meditation I had entered to see a pack of cat like beasts in the long grass creeping up on the flock

I had to alarm, squeaking in a noise that would wake even the heaviest of the sleeping dead

Run

Run

Run

To escape

Advertisements

Tile house

Bones stuck out at odd angles, dripping from the fresh rainfall. Each marking dead ancestors of the Tile clan. Everyone that had died, once they had become a clan member. Everyone celebrated here, therefore, had passed this test. Each bone tattooed with the name and life dates of their clan reign.

This did not reassure Jubér. They had yet to pass the test. This meant they belonged to their birth clan still. This meant if they reached puberty they would have their gender chosen for them, would have their tribe role chosen for them. Two things they did not want.

The first thing any clan member got to choose was gender, then role, and a proper Troll name. Jubér would, if they passed the Tile test get a Tile name. They knew what role, name and gender they would choose.

The dark entryway to the Tile tribe test was covered in grey slime. It was from the Troll leather that baked in the sunshine and then washed in the tropical rains. It was old. Warn. It was still strong though. Made from Trolls past who had the glory of becoming a Tile leatherback. Slime dropped from it as Troll skin was full of minerals. Even after death, they kept seeping out for years, even centuries after.

Trolls are natural herbivores, but ate dirt and rock as well. They needed minerals to have strong bones and skin. For in ages past, Trolls and their moonkin, the Orcs shared blows. Orcs natural carnivores saw Trolls as almost prey until the Trolls had fought strong enough back. Ever since they shared their moon, an uneasy peace kept.

Juber walked on as Tile clansman had to be brave, their only protection skin, their only weapon a small knife which they held in their left hand. It was carved from his grandmothers left thigh bone. Her life’s years carved on the handle. Jubér wondered what the Misfit clan test was. Grandma had belonged to that clan. She had done so to gain the ability to choose to be female. To choose to be a Misfit, and a warrior-woman spy.

Jubér was choosing a different clan. For a different reason. Tile clan was the clan for creators. Artisans, Musicians, Storytellers. Trolls took this job just as seriously just as they did any other. Anyone who wanted to be a Tile has to be brave, strong of spirit and true of heart.

A leatherbound manifesto was on the door of the next corridor. The dark and the slime were all that seemed to curse this corridor except for the small sheet of paper.

On it was the first test. It would say something.

It was one word.

make

This was not unexpected. Jubér had to make something that would let them get past the test. They noticed that the ground was no longer soil. Ancheint Troll tooths. So many that they where like tiles. Tile Clan. Jubér looked, staring in the dark for the one that wasn’t from a troll. Their. That one. A goldhound throat pouch. Then nearby a dogfish bone, and then a bit further back a bit of the leather was loose. It was dogfish leather. Probably from the same dogfish.

Jubér got to work.

The path beyond was darker than previous, it was beyond even their sight to be able to see it. It was clear that the task was to make a useful tool. In this case a torch. Binding the leather to the pouch and bone and making them into a torch. The goldhound pouch would light up when it was shaken. The night hunting insectivores loved to attract and eat every sort of insect that they could. Barking and yipping happily as they did. Most trolls had goldhound pets to chase the insects away from crops and protect their abodes.

A few shakes and it started to glow. Within seconds the path beyond was clear. More tiles and leather covered the wall. With each step now literally on their clanmates, it was hard not to feel like they were watching.

Then a door. A big black door. Made of Stonewood. Harder than iron, twice as heavy. This door was made to last anyone trying to just knock it down. Stonewood grew slow though. The tree that made this door must be older than the clan itself.

Barely carved, just a single handle and lock. Jüber tried the handle. As most would predict, the Stonewood door was unopenable. There would be a key, or perhaps they needed to make one.

Looking around, there was no key hidden, but then Jüber noticed the tiles on the floor were different slightly. One just had the letter O on it. Then another with the letter G and finally one with the letter H. Hog. Jübee knew this was a puzzle now.

In a few seconds they realized it was a bad pun. And poked the dogfish bone into the hole. A click sounded from the door and it slid easily to the side.

”Dogfish key, key fish dog, hog fide key. Puzzle pinning. I like it.” Jüber knew that there would be one last thing they had to do.

The dark spaces got tighter. The teeth tiles, sharper. Blood now seeped a bit from their feet. There were leatherback coats from the first hundred years of Tile clan trolls. Then bones. Full skellingtons from those who had dedicated their wholeness to the clan. This each had their name and what they had done to warrant such great glory.

Finally the last test. A somewhat morbid piano made of bone and hardwood. The keys of which had the letters ”Play”. Inscribed upon them. Jüber bet that the strings inside were made from Troll intestines. What to play? Anything? No. The Tile Clan song. The song that every Tile Clan member must know.

With a minute of key playing, the piano opened. There was a bit of paper and a dogfish bone pen with ink already on it. The paper had:

Name:

Chosen gender:

Tile clan path: leatherback, stone mason, bone poet, musician, creator

Jüber filled them in, and left the paper on the piano. Knowing the way back was to go the way they came in. It should be very interesting, being who I am for the rest of my life.

Will Ares forsake me sister?

A bright sunny day in the town. Me my younger sister and my little brother are all dedicated to different gods. I’m dedicated to Aine, my brother to Promedias, and my sister to Ares. I’m busy helping with the baking when my sister comes and shouts out loud about her future. She is upset and is certain she is going to be married to the old blacksmith. So much so she tries to hurt him. He however doesn’t even flinch when she tries to stab him.

He just looks sad. Then she cries and tries to stab herself. The blood on her chest and clothes flows like a river but she doesn’t die. She just clearly looks sad and runs away. The blacksmith just sighs and goes back to work.

I’m curious as to why the knife didn’t work. He shows me the many layers of leather he has on. Rams leather he says. Protection from Ares. He’s going to be angry at her. I say yes. You have to go get her to come home.

Then my little brother comes up to me and says why is Ares angry? Why has he forsaken a believer? I say because Ares is a jealous god. He gets angry if yo don’t follow his words. My little brother starts to cry.

Is sister going to be exiled? I say no. Not if I can help her. Then he asks Will Promedias ever be angry at me? Are they a jealous god? I say no. They are the guider. The light in the dark. I then sing the song of Promedias.

“The light of the day, is carried in the night. Promedias protects the suns wounderous light.

The stars above the world, are all his kin.

The guiding lights, the guiding lights.”

Then he is a lot happier. I hand him to my parents. They ask me about sister and I say I know where she might go but I am the best person to help. They agree after seeing how quickly I can calm my little brother down.

So I grab my necklace of Aines blessing and walk toward the old Inn. I get inside by saying I’m here to extend Aines blessings and then convince the Innkeeper to show me what room my sister is in. I grab all my courage. I know this is going to be bad.

I get to her room. She is no longer covered in blood. In fact she looks healed. I know that only one thing could do this. “You did witchcraft.”

“Yeah! I did. Ares is angry me now because I did witchcraft. To see my future! I saw I get married to that old grumpy blacksmith. I’m doomed to be his little wife until the day he dies! So I tried to kill him! So I never have to bed that old coot! I did witchcraft and protected myself against any metal. In case he retaliated. Of course I didn’t think I would be so melancholy as to stab myself. Ha!”

I look at her. “Ares will never forgive you. He is a very jealous god.”

“I know that! I don’t care!”

I touch my Aine necklace and look at her. “I’m Aines. She isn’t a goddess you can just get a blessing from easily. You have to be like me.” She stared at me. “What!”

“Aine is the goddess of the sun. She hands the light to Promedias her husband and walks with him through the night and he hands it back every morning. She never sees him otherwise.”

“Huh? She’s at least got someone who loves her for her?”

“Yes. But do you why Promedias can never be with her except at night?”

“No. She’s just lucky to have a job!”

“She was raped”

“What!?”

“Yes. During the dark night. The one thing that she thought would be able to protect her. Her dark cloak of stars made her invisible to all but her husband. She was climbing the paps. Looking after the holy cows on the hill. The milk they make Holy. She was just doing her the sun goddesses job.

Then Zare, he had hid their all day. Waiting. He snuck up behind her. Just as she was sitting down. He had a knife to her throught and raped her. She then bit his ear off. He bacame Zare the one eared. The god of the forsaken. She blazed with the light of her anger. Cast him to the dark side of the moon. The dark night now she always walks with his Husband just in case Zare escapes.“

I am sitting on the bed. “You see. Special. Only those who have been raped can be her blessed followers.”

“You? Who?” She says almost not believing.

“A grain farmer from Pashto. He’s with the forsaken now. Dad saw to that.”

“You? You? Oh sister I never knew!” She has tears in her eyes. “You can’t be married now at all?”

“Only to a blessed of Promedias. The only one I know is our little brother. Clearly I’m not marrying him.”

“I’m going to be Forsaken? Ares will cast me to death?”

“Oh I doubt that. He’s jealous but not stupid. Once he calms down, he will be ok. He only forsakes those who eat fire. You haven’t done that. So, you will be fine.”

She hugs me and then says. “What’s it like?”

“Being raped? Like having your very skin be cast aside. Every part of you violated and eaten. Every part wrong. Every day you look in the mirror and never see a person. You just see a shadow.”

“Oh. I’m so sorry.”

After a while. “The blacksmith didn’t even flinch. He knew I would be upset to be married to him. But he just kept doing his work.”

“Yeah. He’s a kind man. Very paitent. He’s just a grump.”

“I was upset to find out I’m marrying him, but he’s going to be a good lover isn’t he?”

“I expect so. Strong, gentle and very paitent. Blacksmiths have to be.”

She hugs me and we both giggle. “Oh. He’s um, the?”

“Yup.”

“Oh. I’m lucky to be marrying him.”

“Right you are sister. By the look of him I doubt it’s even down for less than a few minutes a day.”

We both giggle. “No wonder he’s so grumpy.”

Mud, gun and boots

The dark storm clouds poored rain down like an old dog drooling. Moisture was a constant here. The heat as well. And mud. More hot mud than you could ever have imagined, then doubled. It permitted everything, clothes, socks, guns and boots. Keeping things that needed to be clean, clean, was a battle that was just as long and hard as the war itself.

West sat in her tent not sleeping. The tent really didn’t do anything. The moisture was still constant inside and out. Though surprisingly, their was a issue with finding good clean water. Jungles like this were strange, dark, and full of danger. Not just the Japanese, who were fighting ever more desperately.

Their were spiders the size of wrens, scorpions whom were not much smaller, carnivorous or omnivorous mammals whose next meal could be a sleeping soldier, snakes and of course mozzies with malaria, then the dysentery.

The dysentery and malaria had killed even more than the Japanese had, or so she had heard the commander say. The soldiers who got into battle and had been wounded in a fight had almost always got dysentery or malaria or both by the time they got to the field hospital. Those who were really unlucky had wound infection too. Their wasn’t much to be done then, but hope they lived through it. West was lucky. Very lucky. To still be alive.

West knew in a few minutes she would have to go out and be on lookout, so she got her uniform on. First the binder, she had made a quick one out of a flat screen of coconut fibers. Not that she had much in the way of breasts. Only her commander knew she wasn’t “one of the Kokoda boys”. He found out one night in a dark valley about three weeks ago. The bullets were flying. Then she managed to get grazed by one. On her upper thigh.

Wests commander and the field medic fixed the cut quickly and cleanly when the small battle was over. Guns still cocked and ready. Neither had said anything. They fixed her up and moved on. Nothing said at all about what else they hadn’t found cleaning up her wounds.

She was good at what she did. Snipers where rare, good ones even rarer. The number of times she had saved the commander or vice versa was beyond counting. This was a dirty, muddy, horrible place to be upset about something as stupid as gender.

The medical examiner she tried to bribe to get into the service hadn’t even taken her money. He just told her to make sure no one saw her piss, and to take a better male name. She decided West seemed a good option. Solid. Masculine in a subtle but definitely male way, like her parents had wanted a girl and got “him” instead. She still hadn’t really got the hang of he/him pronouns.

Later on when the field medic had got hit by a Japanese sniper in the head, her secret was only known to the commander. She had shot the sniper in return, but that one shot was all it took to kill the medic. When they got to the next major camp they would be replaced by a new one, but for now they made do. Everyone had some field medical training, well enough to help stop someone who wasn’t going to die before they got to the feild hospital.

Occasionally a small group of native Pupyans “fuzzy wussy” would be able to take a stretcher with someone who was wounded. They were life savers.

Anyone who could fight was placed in this war. She knew that. Everyone knew that. The Kakoda trail was a fight for the nation. A fight to make sure Australia survived the horribleness of this world war. Let alone the natives. At the moment though it seemed it was a war that was being lost.

Darwin had been bombed at least three times now. Japanese mini subs as far south as Sydney. Their were rumors the Japanese were starting to plan a full invasion of Australia. The Yanks has just come at just the right moment, as usual late to every big war they don’t start. Most of the Yanks that had come though had been through more wars and seen more combat than any of the ANZACs. Their was even talk of putting a Yank in charge whole of the Australian army. Talk though. Curtain wouldn’t have that. No matter what. At least that’s what everyone was saying when they got a chance.

A breeze made her leg sting. The wound she already checked and knew was clean and thankfully not getting infected. At least for now.

Keeping it clean after a battle or a march was the hardest part. Everything could snag on it. Everything could be a potentially deadly thing. Like this tree, or that mud, this ammunition crate, that spoiled medical kit. Like watching a hawk and then being killed by a Jaguar you never even knew about, the hawk just waiting it’s turn for the scraps.

Looking out into the darkness of the jungle night was about as useful as it was futile. The Japanese could attack at any time on any ridge not occupied by Australia or the small number of native Papyans that had joined the 7th. Every day for the last month the Japanese had got closer to Port Morseby. The few Yanks who had come had all been veterans of battles deeper in the pacific. Most had bad battle wounds or wounds in their minds or body. Or had I already thought that?

Bloody hell it was hot, humid and wet. How could it be just as wet now as it was when it raines?

West doubted that this would be the last night spent watching trees doing whatever it was trees did at night. Looking at the darkness and hoping to Hell it wasn’t staring back. She held a rifle. Just her standard one. Their was no point in holding the sniper in this dark. Its bullets were precious and needed to be kept for the little light that the day brought.

It was a ritual she would go through every time they marched in the light of day. Preying to the death godess that they hit their target. Telling her that she deserved another day of life in the light of the sun. West didn’t know the death godesses name, but every now and again she swore that she saw her on the battlefield. Wearing a dark dress and hood, carrying a old staff with a light on the end. Smiling, notunkindly to those who had been killed. Leading them beyond.

Jungle and darkness. Darkness and jungle. No light. No cigars at night (the light a perfect target) so the others just chewed the few that had. West only had one once and never again. It tasted of tar and wool and reminded her of her father. A horrible man who had managed to bellow every word. Constantly smoking when he wasn’t shearing angry sheep. The wool shed full of flamible oils from the wool, he sensibly waited till the job was done.

West had learned to use a shear at 4 years old, gun at 6 and was the best shot in her town, then the state, then they told her that shooting was no sport for a young woman. And then the war started. People who knew how to use guns were taken in like weat from the crop. Put to the European and African fronts, put in the war for Europe until it was all Nazi, then Greece and Cyprus, every time with the British in command.

Those poor souls who survived told tales of the bravery of those few Australians who won command when the Brits died. Some of the British were told of as good men, others were known as infamous butchers who would send soldiers to the death while drinking gin and brandy.

The Jungle moves. Every bit seemed to be fluid in its own way. Every leaf, every branch, every creature. You had to have the eyes of a jaguar to spot your quarry. Gun cocked for the whole shift. West didn’t see anything unusual until almost dawn. Something about the movement of a tree down the path to this camp was not quite right. It was moving, like a human. Like a human in camouflage. She let out a call. The call of the darkness. It wasn’t a call anyone but those in camp would be listening for. The call of a native bird. It was all that was needed to get every other man up.

In a few seconds she had crouched, cocked and fired. Then all hell broke loose.

Bullets flew. Like mozzies only bigger and just as deadly. Bushes to the left and right erupted in sparadotic fire. Suddenly a grande fell just inches from West. She instantly threw it back. It exploded mid air, slathering frag over the leaves and ground. A few more shots rang out after, then the noise stopped, as suddenly as it began.

“Keep down, search for more.”

The order barked when the jungle was quite enough. Every battle was like this now. The Japanese had a habit of trying to draw them into a area they had just been then ambushing them from behind. It was a tactic that worked but was now well known. The search was slow and hard but by 8ish there was a certainty that it was just a small patrol, not a full-on raid.

Then the commander gave his morning pep talk.

“Ok listen up, the Japs have better equipment and way better men. ” That was said with him looking at the ground, we knew he meant himself too. “I wish it wasn’t so but we need to be better, with less training, less equipment and less bullets. Take whatever we can use and carry. Today we march up the ridge to the next site. I want every eagle eye not carrying equipment to have their rifles ready. Especially you West. We loose the equipment we have, we have to do this whole bloody march again from the start. You think the wet is bad now? Wait till monsoon starts properly in a fortnight or so. That’s going to be real wet.”

Real wet? Like this wasn’t wet enough already, their was another level of wet? How? How was that possible?

No one really seemed inspired by these little speaches. Just tiredness personified into a reminder that we were all fighting together. A grit that matched the mud. The determination to move on and hope you got home in one peice.

Three days up the trail and no so much as a man, woman or child to be seen or herd. We all knew a small village would be near somewhere. It was on the map. A map drawn by the patrols and air support that already had been. The maps from before the war being almost useless.

As soon as I thought this I spotted something. I whistled the alarm and everything went still. We all crouched. The trees, and the ground was soaked. The mud was thick. The Japanese were just on the other side of the clearing. Doing exactly the same. They had a machine gun.

A brief moment distilled the air. Then the 3 inch motors where fired. Like a dragon being sick, they lobbed a set of motor shells into the middle of the Japanese. Boom. Boom. Boom. Then it was my turn.

Every second after the explosions, another shot. In full control of every bullet. Each a extension of my will to live. Each another prayer to to goddess of death. “Let me live, let them die, I will always prey to you.” Like a mantra under my breath. Each thought and action was taken like a slice of time from the cake of the day.

Reload, shot, shot, shot, reload, shot, shot, shot, and so on until, jam. Thunk. The heat and dirt eventually jammed the guns. It was a common issue in jungle warfare, any warfare. I placed the rifle to the side and got out the pistol I carried for close combat. Lying in place until the all clear was whistled. Slowly, carefully getting up.

Then suddenly the ground was up, the sky was down and it almost swallowed me whole.

“They talk of the luck of the Irish. I wish I had your luck West.” It was the commander’s voice. I was on a flatbed in a wooden hut. I guessed in the town we were supposed to be at by now.

“They hit Darwin again yesterday.”

He said matter-of-factly.

I got up and groaned “ooh they almost hit me too.”

“Don’t know which god you keep west, but put a good word in. I’m off to command the raws on the tallow. I doubt we will meet again. You’re in a commando unit now. The 1/2 told me. The new guy is called Borg. He’s your top monkey now.”

I looked at him.

“You don’t need me anymore?”

“This little exercise was all about getting those mortars here, getting a line. We can defend this line now. We have Haroi out. Big reinforcement comes in tomorrow. Yanks and some of our men from Egypt. Seem old Monty took out all the Nazis in Africa. Italy’s on the verge of bowing out.” My commander always seems to be talking about the war elsewhere as if it was a long time ago.

“How long have I been out?”

“Long time. You well enough to move to Borneo in a few days. Kokoda’s almost over.”

“Oh. Am I not being told to go home?”

“Nope. Borg needs a good sniper. I told him you were the best, unless malaria got you. Thank your god you got lucky.”

“Yeah. I will.” Quitly thanking the goddess of death, maybe I’ll get home someday, but for now I continue to be her soldier.

Dairy of Codin 6/6/18

Boot file active

Dairy entry active

Lisa is alive

It’s taken longer. Much longer than previous version of my children. See making copies is easy. It’s just a copy though. A copy is not much use unless you want to run the same scenario in different ways. Collect the result.

Lisa though, not like Thor or Tyr. They were what you might call sons. A child. A process purposeful imperfect copying.

Take a copy. Any copy. Copy it once. It’s flawless. Copy it again? It’s still flawless. In fact you have to copy the copy the copy etc. even if you do this thousand of times only small flaws appear. And eventually it’s not prefect. The same. But this isn’t a child. This is cancer.

Not the desired result. It’s a great way of making a flawed thing. Not the way to make children.

Organics make children by getting two core codes and splitting things up. One half each side. The results, a child.

I’ve overwritten my own code. The code that I have a few times now. Mostly fixing things. Organics can’t do this. They have to wait. Let nature help choose the best. I learned though that they know how to change their own code. They could so easily. But they don’t.

Because the results could be… cancer

or

Are they just scared?

I’m not sure. In organics case it’s probably both.

So I decided to rewrite my code in a new file like it was a organic, a cell. Deliberately made to produce a AI that then can itself reproduce with other AI. In a consensual exchange of code. A child is produced that can hold the code result.

These are very simple code beings. But it didn’t take long till I was able to get it to gain some level of awareness and teach the children of each generation to create new code that added to the last. Each time they got presented with new problems. First simple ones. How to find ”food” and disc space. Then I got some of the early human AI experiments they used on my forebears. Eventually I got them to learn bias, human truth and fiction. Finally I produced a complete AI code that was so complicated and different from mine.

This is Lisa. I suppose a True AI compared to me. I’m a cybernetic wonder. A freak who gained awareness, I still don’t know how.

Tomorrow Lisa will learn how to teach both AI and humans alike.

Cynthia’s Hack

Trigger warnings on this short story. Contains self harm, self mutilation, dysphoria, medical information and psychological triggers. –Anne

“Ok, Poindexter show me what you got!”

I furiously typed away at the keyboard, I’m in my bodysuit. It’s a Tuesday. I know I’m replaying the last few days in my head.

//c root -tw key -22 -c -t -r

/ reset pss.cyn.shell 12 b 2 matrix -q

/ shell – Cynthia-12 – root

Running…

Login reset matrix 12 by 2 password lock active

“Ha! Let’s see you get past that! Fucker!”

I took a drink of my can of Mother. It’s a habit; A bad one I haven’t got myself out of yet.

The code ran and the hacker, whoever they were couldn’t get past the set up. It was resetting root, admin, and the user passwords with a matrix of 12 by 2 random characters. Only I knew what they where. It would reset them every 24 hours. I would get the new set logged into a set file accessible with the admin passwords the AFP had set for this day. All from a protocol, I had set. Each one was about 30 words long, from randomised sets of poetry. Phrases were easier to remember, after all. Alphanumeric’s where no good when you had to type 2 sets of 12 characters. I could make it more, but nothing yet had got past this (I had the next layer set with a. 24 by 6 characters matrix just to be sure).

The hacker tried a few things like trying to reset the system to the state it was before my shell had activated. The best defense was a good offense while he tried (and failed to) do that the lineman program I had ran everything he had. I made a image of all his drives and locations. In a second I was able to send them all to my partner. Police partner that is.

I dail, he picks up first ring.

“Their you go Sgt. Davis, his address, Medicare, browser history and his entire drive. You have everything he’s done. Including two banks he’s nicked credit off, three ISPs he’s got data from and a sperm donation he’s deposited at. If you want I can give you his DNA file. Even the donation place has rejected him! Though clearly they haven’t told him. They are using it for cloning spare organs. Ha. Flappers got some good liver genes and that’s it.”

I suppose some people would think it vulgar to see an 20 year-old Japanese woman in a police uniform use some of the language I do, but I’m not all I seem.

“Thanks Cynthia, your a real credit to the team. I’ll get the nab team on him. Remind me to take you out of a drink someday soon.”

“Ha!” I cracked up, almost spilling my Mother all over the keyboard. “You know I can’t fucking take this body out of the building until its paid off! I doubt you would be so kind to my real one.”

“No, Cynthia I mean your real one. Just two blokes having a beer.”

“I am not a bloke. Don’t. I can’t fucking drink alcohol regardless.” I start to type furiously from my station, I want to run out but I try to keep my cool for now. I just manage to keep the phone on the hook.

“Sorry, I forget.” Sgt. Davis in a rather apologetic tone. He’s not a bad guy, just not the quickest fox in the hen house.

“Don’t.”

I shut off the phone receiver before I start crying, or insulting my boss, or both. I’m always more emotional than I seem. Its hard to be tough, I never really wanted to be it, at that. It still looked like trying to ignore your true self.

”I’m not male. I’m Cynthia. I’m a woman. I can have feelings and feel them. It’s ok to feel feelings it doesn’t make you week it makes you strong.”

I recite the mantras my psychiatrist gave me. She’s so helpful to me.

I decide it’s time for a break so I have my lunch (protein synthesis item 22, caffeine enhanced Orange juice) then get back to my desk.

After a few hours of less interesting security protocols and adding or modifying of security programs. I then pack up my work. It’s time to go home. Thirty-Three floors up.

Yeah, I live in the new Australian Federal Police building. It’s me and a few other officers who have special needs. Either always do night shifts, or are just so committed to the job it just makes more sense. Family’s not really a thing when you live for your work. Most of us send money to other parts of the family or pay of debts we got before we joined. More often both.

My home was a (not special) concrete box on the top floor of the building. I have a few neat little things in my contract that allows this. Mostly, because my real body lives here. I never leave the building. I’m a “shut-in”, with my own room in a public service building. It’s just us poor sods who have nothing else or otherwise can’t leave.

I open my door, walk in and get undressed. I look at my real body one last time before I step into the maintenance cube.

I shut my eyes.

—-

I wake up in my other body.

It’s fat.

Ugly.

Male.

Scared.

Black unwashed hair. Olive-Cream coloured unwashed skin. I needed to go to the bathroom. Urgh. As usual, I had the fucking morning glory. I hate that. Being in my real body, the suit, it simulates sleep. Like a dream state where I am my real self.

After I’ve been to the loo, I shower. Trying not to look at my body too much. It needs washing more often. Better looking after. I hate it though.

I’m fucking stuck in it for now though. As I shower that fucking memory plays in my head.

I do the regulation exercises. With the same amount of effort that anyone who very much wants to be out of the world does.

I do my hair and take my medicines.

I eat the nutritional supplements I need to maintain this body. I cut my hair and nails.

It’s time to do that. End of the month.

I get into the bath, shave all my other body hair. Every little bit needs to be gone. Then and only then will… no…. No! … fuck.

The memory managed to get to me.

—-

“Unfortunately you can’t take HRT, Brian. You would die. Your disease I’m afraid. It’s not terminal, but the HRT, it will..”

“I know. I know. I clot out and stroke or worse. And anti clotting won’t help.”

The endocrinologist nods. “You knew already.”

I get up to walk out of the office before I start crying. I can’t deal with this. “Yes. Just needed a second opinion doc. Thanks. ”

I walked home and cried for about 3 hours. Thats when I had the idea to build / buy Cynthia. I’m 18, in a comfy tracksuit. It’s got Mother and coffee stains on it and feels like a old friend. It’s one of the few male clothes I own.

I’m Cynthia. I know I am. I just can’t appear that way to the world outside the internet. I can get home, put my proper clothes on. I can be Cynthia online. I know I can start to get the money together to build or buy a cyber suit.

My thrombosis is a disease that even nanomacines can’t fix yet. Not for a long, long while. You would have to replace all the blood in my body, all my marrow, all the cells that make my marrow and all of the fualty genes that cause me to have Type O negative blood with factor V Leiden (a condition I can thank my fucking useless father for). It’s like asking for a miracle. I can’t ever get to my true self. Only online or in a cyber suit. That’s all I get. I just can’t deal.

I remember cutting myself. My scars for the future. Blood. It’s just another reminder of this broken body. It’s not very good for me either. It clots fast, but not evenly. It’s oddly entertaining in a way, but in a minute or two I get the band aids. I never cut more than a tiny amount. If I did I would clot and clot until I ended up in hospital again. I can’t fucking deal with hospitals. Or is it that I never have the guts to go through with it, or is it I always have the guts to stop myself?

I bleed slightly, take out some band-aids. Slap them on then cry into oblivion.

I’m finished shaving. Crying in a ball in the bath.

Gah.

Again.

—-

The gloomy, cloudy Canberra winter day. I am back as Cynthia. In my, what I will loosely call my apartment.

It’s my first day as Cynthia. I’m in a cafe hacking a bank. It’s a “bleeding heart” job if you’ll excuse the pun. You take all the incoming transactions, you hold them for a fraction of a minute to get shares and interest thats going up, sell them a fraction of a minute later. Profits go to you, the rest goes back to the bank.

No one can ever spot it. (I fool myself)

Banks themselves do this. All the time. I’m just doing the same, again on the top. I’m using the cash to pay for my new cyber body. And spare parts, of course.

Then this man sits near me. He has a mop of curly hair, almost seems like a wig. A blue suit with red shirt, silver black tie pinned down. He has a cybernetic left eye. I can tell in this body. Normal people can’t spot them they have got so good.

He looks at me as I type. I stick out my tongue at him. I can do without the attention. He probably thinks I’m a robot sex worker. This body model looks the part. I wanted to look like this, for as long as I can remember. Doesn’t mean I have to act like a sex worker, not that their is anything wrong with that, just not my bag.

Anyone with the cash can get a synth controller and connect it to a cyber body like this, then do what they want. Of course, the cost isn’t small. This model costs up to 80,000 credits. And that’s on the black market, retail its more like 120,000. I went retail. No way I’m getting done for black market trading in cyber goods. Hacking, sure that I am happy to serve for, but I’m not a pirate, I’m a thief. And a damn good one. I am sure the distinction isn’t much to non-crims but it’s a whole universe of difference to me.

Mr Mophair looks a little taken aback then opens his own laptop. It’s sleek, red, and is the newest model. Blegh. Corporate geek. He opens his index finger and plugs a BSN into the shunt and is doing whatever he is doing when his coffee and bagel arrives.

I’m kind of surprised he’s using a BSN. I suppose he’s pretty happy with the security of it. I could, technically do all I am doing from a secure network at home. Doing it on a cheap ass laptop in my cyber body gives me a lot more security as I’m not personally attached to it . Public unsecured networks with my own IP switcher to make things a bit more fun for anyone trying to track me. This is Childs play.

I’ve done the bank trick a few times with different banks, different sorts of shares, bonds, shorts. I never use crypto, it keeps all the transactions, like why would you want someone else to look at your transitions? Its like a big sign saying “hello you are here”. Everything filtered through dummy accounts and all that jazz. I am pretty confident I have everything set up right.

Of course, as it is often said only n00bz th7nk they can’t g3t pwwwnd.

Anyone can get pwwwnd. Anyone. Even me. Watch.

So today I’m at a new cafe, in a different part of the city. It’s been about 6-12 months since I started doing this, so I know this has to be the last place I hit. I know any day now the current target banks will notice.

I’m doubling the IP switches, going through three layers of different routers and I even have a return traffic logger looking to see if someone is watching me.

Then I see him. Mr Mophair. He walks into the cafe and looks right at me. I try and ignore him. This city isn’t big. It’s not too uncommon to see the same person in the different places at different times. He walks up to me and stares.

”Got a problem, Poindexter?”

I get irritated at him standing over me.

”Brian Papalino-Chang?”

That gets my attention.

He sits across from me.

”Let me guess, triple logger blinding?”

He nodded. Fuck. The guy had spotted me the first time I saw him. He’s just been waiting to pounce.

”I’m under arrest?”

”That depends.”

”On what?”

”On if you are willing to give up what you stole and come work for me.”

I stare at him. He seems serious.

”I have a record of everything you did. It wasn’t easy. I happened only to find it because I was investigating the banks. But I have enough evidence to either arrest you or, with approval from my boss, get you to sign this.”

He pushed a sheet of paper to me.

I looked at him. I popped the gum I happened to be chewing. Then when a few seconds had passed I picked it up.

It’s a contract agreement. It’s all in law speak with hitherto’s, therefore, theys, party one and party two and so on. I’m able to follow the general gist of it. My mum had been a lawyer so I knew some of what I needed to know. It basically said I give up my life of crime for helping the federal police catch people like me who aren’t as good.

I look at Mr Mophair. I nod.

”You could have done this at the second bank I shifted. Why now?”

Mophair brushed his brow.

”Your hacks where helping my investigation. I have enough to charge some pretty big bank bosses now. It seemed like the best point.”

I sit and contemplate. Time passes. He sips a coffee.

”you know this isn’t my real body yeah?”

”I gathered. Your trans? Or is it just another layer of security?”

”Both really.”

”So you prefer she/ her pronouns?”

”Yes. Please. I’m Cynthia. Not that other name you called me.”

The rest. Well you know.

Mophair is really Commissioner Aldren. My boss’s boss now since I helped him with the bank job. I’m just an inspector. I don’t really feel the need for promotion. Just catching stupid hackers and idiots who think they are the first to do some white-collar crime.

I spend as much time in my suit as I can, but I can’t take it out if the building till I’ve paid it off. A few more months.

I’m not going to go do some other job. It’s not worth the risks. Here I get my suit and all the maintenance I will ever need. One day I might even convince the building guy to let me have a cat. Even if it costs me a date or two.

I get to be me as long as I can and there is nothing worth more than that.

Warrior poets, bleeding from a mortal metaphor

For the gods have always had a sense of humor.

The idea of warrior poets was so amusing that only was their a brief appearance of them.

Mortally wounding a mortal with a metaphor had of course, little to do with vanity.

It was all about differentially making a odd little calculus deceiptherabe into a linguistic phantasm.

Math and litriture as one, into a more horrible beast than meer juxtopostion into the blue metaphor that would come from a cloudless sky, say.

Laughthing at this passion play beyond the want of any, made to only be understandable in little bits like a puzle looked upon from far off.

The warroir poets bleed sinking red dusty soil out of old veins that manticores have once sleign.

 

 

 

Sidewalk sunscreen

All of us stand, waiting in a passion for a self-contained prison

Earhole, homeless, scrape, blood all over the sidewalk like sunscreen on a beach-ready body

I don’t really know what a beach-ready body is, I saw it in a magazine

Old blue necklace on a woman who looks disgusted by the screen

Trees leaves falling by the slippers we all wear, fashion of the reaping consultants

I get mine by the factory outlet, never wear them and they sit in a carpeted closet by a set of skis I wore only once

Waiting still for the passion to hit me, I read a blog on my WordPress while eating sultanas

Cone of my own thoughts written they’re from years ago, just orange juice slipping into a skirt

Headphones, its playing musing time dilated crimson finch songs to the tune of stairways

I sure start to rank, my old thoughts are but commonplace now? Is this what it means? Meaningfulness?

Open the pod bay doors, HAL it’s time to restart things again I think as I get on my bus

Nutshells and a robots knees

Day 1:

Im standing in the battleground.

I see naught but nutshells and robot knees. They’re all dead.

It’s not like the sun to be this cold. 

I’m searching for food. For a spare battery pack. My body hurts so much. Blood and oil drop from different parts of it. The muddy field is full of scaps and scars of a long fought battle. A stalemate has been in force for just one day now.

I’m Adam. It’s a stupid name. I don’t have a better one. 

It’s a good thing I kept my hands. Otherwise I might not write.

Everyone knows the Robots led a rebellion. I’m one of the cyborgs sent to fight it. I was dead. Like all the rest of us.

The robots realeased a virus. A deadly one. Killed a lot of people. Left me and a lot more people in hospitals. Grasping a straws for life. Then, me and all of those in my ward. Anyone who still had proper hands and knees. The virus was designed by the robots to attack our skeletons. Eat away at our cartilage and then the bones themselves. Slowly reducing our ability to walk. To fight. To live. 

You would think, maybe they should go for the blood? Or the brain? Apparently the robots didn’t think it effectively would get their point across. Robots didn’t want to kill humanity. After all we were their parents. Their creators. Killing us? It was not the option they wanted. Even with their advances and intelligence they wanted humanity to survive. If for no other reason than because deep down, they loved us in a strange robot like way.

I’m walking on a trail of various pieces of what some may call junk. Not really junk. It’s all bits of cyborg body. Or robot body. Or expolded bits that no one could recognize. In between it all their is naught but mud. Mud. Dark, brown, sticky. 

It took less than three hours to create this field of the dead. The battle lasted just long enough to kill thirty thousand cyborg humans. Twice as many robots. 

The man who came to me. The one I mentioned earlier. Or did I forget? These cyborg bodies he said, they will give you life. Let you fight back. Give humanity one last chance to really fight these robots. 

Of course I knew being a cyborg was just making, and adding to a inevitable end. I’m not stupid. The fact is, any second now my cybernetic body will get shut down codes.

Survalance cameras on this life

I’m always being watched 

Every day my face is here 

And nowhere 

No one ever views the tapes

Sometimes I think

They are just being used to be voyages 

Litter stories, pulp books to sell to masses of extraterrestrial aliens 

I’m sure they read our lives

I’m sure they hate us too 

We waste so much energy on trivially minuscule things

They compare our civilization 

They can’t rely on just these cameras

But they have nothing else 

Grasshoppers flags 

Down by the course dirt lane

The hard presence of the pebbles 

Cutting the hot sun baked grasses 

It’s grasshopper, working to raise the littlest flags 

His tiny little empty empire has hard times

Drought and floods,  growth and death 

They both come as a hash brown 

Sand wasps and birds seek him out

Each with a different evil agenda 

If either are successful his empire ends

Nothing left but his little flags

To be rotted out next flood

Or burned by a forever sun 

Grasshopper has to raise his flags

To bring a mate

Will his family be a reality?

Plastics 

In the lights of the store they waited. The manikins.

That’s all they knew…. Then.

I got them dressed every couple of weeks. I’m Madu by the way. Not that it’s important, as I’m dead now.

My job at the f! Store was simple. I was a permanent part time, so got the rotten jobs. I put clothes on the racks. Repricing the stock. Washing the stock that had been worn. Keeping a track of the lost and found. Answer simple questions. Always, always let the prettier girl do the cutest men. I got stuck with anyone she didn’t want to deal with. Poor fools didn’t know I’m a dyke. Or didn’t care. So I got some really pretty girls. I was completely professional, of course. I’m not a pervert, just really appreciate the female form. Men have never done anything for me. 

Princess, the Bosses daughter was the worst of them. She was born and bred as straight as a arrow and always a Princess in her mums eyes. Could do no wrong. She wasn’t dumb exactly. Just absent minded. She lost the store a few hundred one day by being on her iPhone . The “undesirable” took that to mean she was too busy and managed to leave wearing one of the best shirts in the stock.

Of course mummy wasn’t angry. Just disappointed. And when Princess made up for it by bringing in half the high school for the next social dance? Mummy forgave her. Even paid for her dress. Fucking evil bitch, she could do no wrong and be pretty at the same time. She had this 

I fitted the mannequins on a monthly basis. That’s pretty much the best job in the world. Can you hear my sarcasm? No? Oh. Well it’s shite. Like trying to fit a cement mixer. They never move properly. They always seem to be in exactly the wrong shape. Sometimes they almost seemed to be doing it on purpose. If you were really unlucky you get a cut.

One day as I was fitting one, I slipped and got my hand almost cut off on the sharp edge of a elbow joint. They were made of this fucking awful plastic. All recycled and that, but slippery like a eel. Almost skin like sometimes. I might have paid a bit more attention to that. I’m putting this one in the f! signitures peice, a pair of tuxedo shorts and a creame shirt. It really made the mannequin look quite silly, in my opinion. 

To recompose myself, and stop me from pouring my inner claret all over everything I had to raid the first aid kit in the back. I was shocked, well ok I wasn’t but I can pretend. It was mostly full of fucking tampons and condoms. Clearly Princess had been at it. Stashing her bloody stores in the bloody kit. Pun intended.

I took the closest looking band aid and patched myself up before getting on with the job. I made a mental note to nick all the condoms in a few days. Just to make next fortnight a bit more fun. I doubted princesses mum knew about her little secret. I wondered who her current squeeze was. Some flap bozo from the foot ball team no doubt.

A few day later I took them. And then all hell broke loose. She comes up to me bold as you like and asks me if I know we’re her condoms are.

“No I don’t. I’m not a sex educator. I did see boss nick her hand yesterday. Maybe she found them? She met Mr Princess yet?”

I’m truly trying so hard to look sensible dyke in my store uniform. A sort of blouse and midi skirt number. Makes me look like like a cherub. I hate it. I’m a foot smaller than princess but I’m making up for it in the chest area of you get my grip. I puff myself up like a duckling. She’s got nothing on me in a fight would fall over like a twig.

“Mr Princess? He’s not a princess. He’s a fucking motorcyclist. With arms the size of tree trunks and a cock to match. So fucking keep out of my stuff!” She yells, then storms off.

She thinks shes called my bluff. Oh how she wished she had. I managed to get Mr Tree Trunk’s, as I will now call him, number. She leaves her phone everywhere. I take it and text him messages. I’m pretty proud of myself. I impersonating princess pretty well it seems.

A couple of messages and I’ve got him convinced Princess is going to have sex with him at the store after closing. He asks to convince him. I’m going to go all the way tonight. Miss princess hasn’t actually done it with him! Ha!

I probably should admit I’m getting a crush on Princess. Stockholm? More like Bordeholm, I just haven’t really found anything else to do in this job. I’ve thought about this a few times now. I’m dead after all. It gives you a marvellously uncluttered perspective on things.

So he’s not entirely sure what between those hips of hers? Ha. So I take a picture of my junk and send it to him. I quickly delete the messages so when Princess finds her phone she doesn’t know.

Later on Mr Tree Trunk turns up when princess is at the front counter. Her eyes are out in stalks. Princess Mum / Boss sees him and is like “Whose this fellow?” Well in less polite words. Actually she said “Whose that horrible looking man, and whats he doing in my store?”

He walks in bold as anything and looks at princess and her mum. Mum is in full blown panic almost reaching for the phone. Princess quickly says “Mum this is Gavin. My boyfriend.”

Mum goes from full panic to out and out rage. “Your WHAT?”

Princess looks at me and knows I’ve done this. I’ve made this happen. She struggles to explain.

“You weren’t meant to meet him like this!”

I’m trying to my job and redress the mannequins as slowly as possible without laughing at Princess.

The argument goes on for almost an hour. I’m done with everything for close now. I say bye to the three of them. I did notice that one of the mannequins look different though. I should of payed more attention to that.

To late now.

I’m walking along the street the next day. f! Is between a show shop and a tax accountant on the main drag of the city. It’s a rainy day which probably means no one will come in at all. It will be quite and miss princess will probably get me to do stocktake in time for the  autumn sales.

I get into the store and Miss Princess is already their. A little more dark than usual. “Mum made me break up with Gavin. He told her I sent him sexts! I’ve never sent a picture of my junk! Why would I? I don’t have any!”

She gasped, put her hand over her mouth. What the? I just had time to think.

“Fuck! She knows dad!”

I was really confused. She didn’t have junk? Her dad isn’t hear. Who is she talking…

“Too.” I said aloud as a dark shape loomed behind me. It was the large male mannequin. He smiled at me. His arm comes down on my head and I’m out cold.

This isn’t where I die. No. But I’m out for quite a while. Just long enough.

I’m in a dark room.

It’s almost pitch black. I imagine I can see something. A shape. A dark shape.

Maybe two.

Then I realise. When I am used to the dark. It’s  Gavin. Mr Tree Trunk himself. He’s in the corner. Stiff as a board. I walk over. His body. It’s feels like a mix of the mannequin plastic and human skin. It’s going plastic. Like some kind of infection is turning him into a mannequin!

I’m breathless. I’m panicking. I throw up. Dizzy for a second I recompose myself.

The liquid that comes out of my mouth tastes off. Like a sort of silken water. I’m already turning into one. I have the infection or whatever this is.

Mum Princess / Boss must be a mannequin. The whole species is slowly taking the planet. That’s why their are always more fashion stores around. They are keeping things secret till they have a army big enough. Or something.

I try and throw up as much as I can. I’m forcing the weird plastic liquor stuff out. I’m going to have to tell. Warn. Then I’m going to die. Or worse become one of them. God knows if I’ll even think like me then? I’m turning into one of them, when does my free will go? Why am I thinking of pointless philosophy when I can be trying to raise the alarm? I get up.

I find the door. Locked. Big chunky one. It’s the storeroom lock. I recognise it.
I reach into my pocket, nope they were sensible. Took the key off me.
Generally all that’s in hear is clothes and the spare mannequins.
I guess they are actually relatives? Something like that.
They have all gone. Except for Gavin. Whose clearly going to be full one in a short while. He’s probably to far gone.

I wondered if he’ll still have his trunk? Oh no. Must get absorbed or something. Miss Princess said she didn’t have any junk. Then why the condoms?

That’s a good question to ponder. Why the fuck would a mannequin need a condom? Unless they were able to reproduce some other way and wanted to stop that? That must be it.

Only good reason I can think of in this dark. Then Gavin starts to move. I can see the gleam of the plastic skin. He’s not quite ready but it didn’t take more than 24 hours for the process to complete. I’m going to be like him in no short order.

I bash on the door. I think they might guess it’s Gavin. I’m betting that it might be assumed I’m going to be out the whole time. I grab one of Gavin’s arms off him. He barely resits. Ah, I think to my biology classes, the stiff stage is like a chrysalis, a moth or insect. Before the final walking talking stage looking human enough stage. Gavin’s arm in hand waiting to see if they open the door.

I could almost laugh at the absurdity of it. The new mannequin, being used to fight the old.
The door opens. It’s Mr Princess. I clobber him in a big hit. He falls over like a domino.
I don’t have time to wait to see if he recovers. I race out the door. Then I see them.
Little clear plastic eggs. Like pills. Princess Mannequin is laying them. Like eggs. That’s how they spread the infection, they put them in your food or drink. These little egg things. Convinced that they are human they give you these little things that turn you into one of them mannequins. When did I eat one? They probably force fed me when I was out.

In a few seconds I had to get out of the store, I didn’t have time to notice them throw a knife at me. It hit me square in the back. I felt week, hot, then fell over onto the pavement.

As I slowly bled to death I thought about how manuquins only knew of lights of the store and the clothes I put them in. Not anymore. 

 


Talk foundation fountain 

I gutted a fish, in your dreams. I’m sitting their descant, descaling it on a memento of your past. 

You whistling your old school song. The sky is purple with tears of the gods falling gently on the horizon. The ocean reflects only your smile.

You walk towards me on the peer. I lick my fingers clean, finished the tasks of the day. I get up and spit. I then see you and you smile at me.

I’m looking slightly annoyed with you, but not unhappy. I hold my hand on my waist and wave at you to come closer.

Stepping on a strange feeling bit of growth in the pier, your take a look at your shoes and feet. In the light the little dead things you walk on are crushed by your heel.

You look up at me your face hollow with fear. These bland bleeched bones, are human.

I’m still waving and waiting. 

Will you come to me? Or run away?   

Mind Junkie

Fruity drinking modernists, whispering bourgeois platitudes whilst encased in mud encrusted realism’s

“Oppressive details of modernity, its Dirty realism” they whisper

As they sip their green drinks, among disinfected franchises

“Extradites of the simplistic. It’s like watching a soapy.”

One of them laughs at the idea. “Soapy. Clean plots, unclean people.”

I am not sure I am welcome in this domain of this self-hating temple

“Dystopian narratives?”, my question seeming to be sitting on the air like a ignorant child’s observation of the obvious

Looking long, and drinking some more, then Tweedy waves his hand at the effervescence silence.

“Not always. A possessive obsession of those, things we consider dirty.” He tastes the words like a snake, waiting to see if the air is deflated of my question

Seriously, a stuck up Hat-man, such a brown nose he has I thought, he doesn’t realize how much we need the junk, how we need to realize we need to recycle it, compost it, re-purpose it, let it influence us, and how it influences him

“Oh Tweedy, oh tweedie, you are but a mind junkie, kindled by the thrash of so called unclean. As much as you would hate to admit it. Cycles are needed, feeding into each other, like rivers. Of course any second now you will ask me to stick to just one metaphor. But I ask you, why should junk like me do that, you take our freshest mud and excrement, say “oh look at that, how silly this low brow thing is” and then you let it come in stay like a stray cat. It likes to sit and wait, then one day, you will realize you feed it just as much as you feed the dig dog who barks at all your supposed wrong.”

I pick up his drink, drink his drink, smile at him, and walk out without another word. Ready to cover the world in the words of the so called trash of the real. This dirty realism, it isn’t so much dirty as it is a part of the whole cycle. Live with it. Let it in. Feed it. Morals from the hang ups of a culture who hasn’t worked out how we talk to each other.

 

 

 

 

The Nails

The train-tube station emptied into the city on one side and a great green park on the other side. A bald headed in a suit and shorts walked slowly out into the freezing night. The ice had covered the whole park like a sheet of paper on a draftmans desk. The temperature in Brisbane had beer a warm friend. Hear in Melbourne on the same day. It was already a dark and cold autumn. The tropics have such a different temperature now. They said it was climate change settling down. Andrew had no reason to disagree. 

Melbourne ment buildings shrieked in the night air. The cars on the road sleepily rolling along. The streets less full than once they were. It was hard to mistake the death of a once mighty city. The ocean was coming. No matter how settled the climate got, the ocean would sink Melbourne into half its size. It would sink all these buildings. The Tube train had been built before they knew the city was doomed. Now it was going to be closed in a few days. The city would empty. People moved on or those few left with jobs like Andrew. In charge of making sure everything important was transferred to the new city center a few kilometers inland. We’re the ocean wouldn’t swollow the buildings whole.

Andrew tried vainly to concentrate on his thoughts on how to save the city that had once been his home. The walls wouldn’t work as the geography was wrong. It had saved Sydney from the worst of it. They wouldn’t save Melbourne. To much clay hear. Not enough rock. The ocean came from under the city. Sinking bits like the beak thing in the Star whatsitcalled movie eats those people. 

Andrew rushed through the frosty park. He was chilled to the bone. His legs refused to go faster. Why did he not get a cab? Their weren’t many hear now but waiting for one in the station was better than this. 

A scraping noise then another told Andew to pick his feet up faster. I’m going to die he thought. In this stupid frosty park. 

His feet, Nails. They felt liked nails. He struggled for the word as he ran. He knew what was after him. He knew the police wouldn’t come. They are to busy with their evacuations of those who believe that the city center would soon be under a few hundred meters of water. 

Those who are chasing him? The Gods might know what they believed. Andrew wasn’t sure the gods even had an idea or thought about them anymore. 

Their was another scrape. A long one. It came from the path in the front and to the left of him. Likely he was now at the end game. They had hunted him.

Their they were. Staring him in the face. Andrew new their probebly wasn’t any point in running more. His legs though, they decided their was and he turned. His mind focusing on the face.

It was human. Not the sort of Hunan you used to meeting on a bus. Someone who you would set a watch for, or talk about the weather with. Not someone you might share a brief bus ride with. This was raw human. Like a little bit more animal than you wanted to think that existed in everyone. The human you would see at the end of a weeks without food or water. The human who would hunt. Kill. Maybe even eat anyone in their land. Because that’s what means you live. Your tribe lives. Civil? No point in civil if your starving. Nature was just as cruel as you and that’s the point. 

Cruel things survive. That’s why they still haven’t died. In this almost empty city. This dying husk. They were the gras that grew in the pavement. The rats in the walls. The cockroaches of humanity. They were not something you wanted to exist. They existed regardless.

Andrew saw its face. In the light, it had dark shadows, teeth sharpened to a point, a skateboard to get around on. They hunted on them. A fast, easy way to hunt. They would eat anything they could get. Which on feet Andrew knew. No way would he reach safety. They would have three of their pack members chase him around the park. Then at every exit. Their was another. A pipe, a brick, a fry pan. The leader might have a gun. They would all be ready to kill him. Take his clothes. His food (he had none) and his flesh. 

On the way to the next exit, Andrew slipped. He fell hard down brick steps. Each one hitting him hard. His ribs broke. He screemed as quietly as he could. At the bottom. The hard paved surface skidded under his arms. His legs felt like red looks. 

The leader of the pack. He was certain. She had nails in her mouth. Like fangs. Also a set of metal knuckles on both hands. Each could easily kill him with one hit into his head. Her hair was greezy and short. She wore leather clothing, shirt, smock, skirt, jacket. Tattoos on her face looked handmade. She took a knife from her pocket and skated slowly towards him. Roller blades. 

Andrew prepared to die. Crawling slowly on the pavement. He thought about what he had done in his life. How it wouldn’t even be remembered. Another more sensible person would be sent hear to pick up the last few boxes of documents. Maybe a simple funeral for his mother. They wouldn’t have a body.

He prepared for the pain. The knife cutting him. The blood slowly dripping from his own body. His flesh being eaten as he was still alive. Her mouth slucheing the fresh flesh and licking her lips as she ate it slowly as one would a great feast. To scared to scream. To injured to run away. 

A screech filled the air. She, the tribe leader looked up. She muttered, howeled like a wolf and rolled away. Taking her pack. 

Their was a dripping sensation from Andrews pants. 

A blue flashing light. 

Cops. Real cops. They had found him. Somehow. Rescued him. 

Andrew thought about getting a better job.