Erik

•June 28, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Erik has grown up hearing stories of what happens in the woods on those particular nights of the year.  It is these stories fuelling the curiosity that has lead him to this clearing, watched over by the bright face of the full moon.  He hides in the brush at the edge of the trees, watching them furtively drift in.

He does not recognise anyone there, their faces hidden in the shadows of crimson hoods, edged in fur.  A fire is lit against the cold and the congregation gathers close, harking to the words of the priest.  Erik cannot understand the tongue in which he speaks, but the words nonetheless stir something primordial inside him.

The tempo and volume grows, and with it the congregation begins to sway back and forth in time with the words.  They join in the chant, their movements loosening with their tongues.  They dip and bend, dancing like flames around the fire.  The chant is a growing wave, beating like surf against Erik’s brain.  He does not realise until he is half way into the clearing that he is moving, and by that time, he does not care.

The dancers part to let him in and the primal chant takes hold of his limbs.  He twirls and leaps with the others, his nostrils filled with the scent of pine and his head with music.  A pipe joins in, played by a reindeer-headed man, a skirling jig that weaves its way around the maddening chant.  The wave swells into a roaring climax, and Erik is sent crashing into darkness as it breaks.

Morning finds him alone in the clearing, the fire burnt to ashes, pine needles and holly trampled deep into the earth about it.  Erik wakes and stumbles around the open space, unable to recall anything but flashes of the Santaists’ red mass.

Dr Ebbard

•June 23, 2011 • Leave a Comment

“This is Dr Ebbard.  Oh, Mr Baker, how are you?”

“I’m doing well thanks.  Glad, ha ha, that it’s Friday.”

“Oh, yes, we received payment.  Did you get the letter about costs from next month?”

“That’s right, unfortunately we’ve had to…yes.”

“No, I’m afraid there hasn’t been any change.  We’ve been altering the balance of her medication, but we’re still having to keep her sedated a lot of the time.”

“Yes, I’ll let you know if anything changes.  Mr Baker…you, well, you could come any time to visit her.”

“Well, it’s your choice.”

“Yes…you too.  Until next month.”

Ariadne

•June 21, 2011 • Leave a Comment

It wasn’t the money that brought her here, it was the letter.  It wasn’t long, just two typed pages.  After she had watched the disease take her mother, one shuffling step at a time, the question had been open.  For a while she had left it unanswered, but ignorance had proven no refuge from the creeping dread.  The testing had been simple, the wait for the answer interminable.  In the end, the two typed pages passed sentence upon her.

Medical science had not understood the problem sufficiently at the time to save her mother from decline.  Beyond expensive, treatment is nascent and experimental.  In her dreams, Ariadne suffocates in treacle, unable to move except in the characteristic ratcheting gait.  The terror she feels when she wakes in the middle of the night from these dreams outweighs the uncertainty of any experimental procedure.

When the brief arrived, attached to pre-screened acceptance into a clinical trial, Ariadne had said yes.  It was only later that she wondered how someone else knew her price, even before she herself had.

The Curious Patient

•June 18, 2011 • Leave a Comment

My Dear Emil,

I write to you with more news regarding my curious patient.  At this time, I have had several opportunities to speak with him at length, and have encountered him upon a number of other, shorter occasions.  His recovery from the wounds he was brought in with has been excellent, thanks to “the kind donations of others,” in his own words.

I flatter myself to think that he refers to my own ministrations, but the smile and knowing look that accompanies these words leads me to think otherwise.  When I questioned him on this, he advised me “not to take extra straws upon your back.  The food here is excellent, I’m just skimming a little extra off the top when I can find it.”  I assume from all of this that his appetite at least hasn’t suffered from his ordeals, and he has been purloining extra food from the kitchen.

I do not begrudge his constitution additional nutrition at a time when he might make good use of it, but I maintain an interest in the diets of all my patients.  In the previous course of the Patient’s treatment, I examined whether his malady was rooted in a deficiency of diet.  I had tried a strict regime of supplementary powders and metals, but it did little than provide fuel for complaint.  The exact nature of what he has been eating most recently I am unsure of; when I questioned the kitchen staff, none could discover anything to be missing from the storehouse.

Where I can point to significant progress in his physical recovery, I am sorry to report that I cannot say the same about his state of mind.  In fact, I would say that as one has improved, so the other has worsened.  His existing symptoms and affectations are just as strong as before, but to those he has added some new mania.  There lies upon him some obsession, the nature of which he will not reveal to me.  Now that he has regained strength and can move freely he spends little time at rest.  When I have encountered him in the halls of the asylum, his behaviour strikes me as that of a man searching for something.  I wonder whether determining the nature of what he wishes to achieve may cast light upon the root of his malady.

While he has been recovering, I have only performed a number of light interviews with the Patient, to gauge the present course of his mania.  Now that he is moving about the asylum under his own recognisance, I have determined that it is time to begin his treatment once more, in earnest.  I have set aside time in my calendar tomorrow for our first real session and intend to more fully plumb the dark waters of the Patient’s mind.

Yours,

Dr Robert Oatman

Wolverton

•June 16, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Wolverton stands on the edge of the square, hands thrust into the pockets of his coat, watching office workers hurrying to lunch in the cold.  He spots Chen Baochai’s bright parka crossing the open space long before she’s close enough to recognise.

She stops beside him, rubbing her hands for warmth.  Wolverton palms her a USB stick, which disappears into a parka pocket.

“I trust that takes care of our arrangement?”

“If it’s what you say it is, we’re golden.”

Wolverton nods, satisfied.  He glances up at the leaden sky then sets off without a word, another face in the crowd.

Fairfield Industrial Dog Object

•June 13, 2011 • Leave a Comment

“Can you even have a tribute band when they’re still alive?” asks Edwina, between sucking on her straw.

“It’s meant to be ironic,” replies Alice.  “They sold out to the labels and gave away the means of production to the bourgeoisie.  As a tribute band, we’re showing people how far behind the times they are.  Plus their last album was shit.”

“I didn’t think it was that bad,” mutters Sarah.

Alice continues unfazed, “We’re on the front lines of class warfare, and this is an opportunity to strike a blow for the proletariat!”

Edwina and Sarah look at each other across the table.  The closest they get to buying the ideology is a Che Guevara t-shirt that Sarah bought in an op-shop five years ago.  On the other hand, they don’t know anyone else who can play guitar.  In the end, they talk her down to just slagging off the Arctic Monkeys in their next song.

Wolverton

•June 8, 2011 • Leave a Comment

“…can refer to any special subject with safety,” continues the voice from the dictaphone, as Wolverton scrabbles for it with one hand.  Shen’s weight bears down on him and he tries to hold him back with his free arm.  Shen pushes forward single-mindedly, mouth bristling wide with alien parts.

Wolverton’s fingers touch metal.  He holds the device forth like a crucifix and the shimmering edges of his vision snap solid.  There’s a loud report and Shen’s features disintegrate into ruin.  Chen Baochai crouches, holding Mr Yeung’s smoking pistol.

Wolverton shoves the body aside and rolls away, puking onto the concrete.