Seeking Non-Exponential Decay

The Korekore cleaved through the between-ness, down the aeonic star-roads, timeloose. Somewhere in the darkness, a star turned inwards under its own immense weight, devouring itself – a symphony of shrieking magma vents and the low bass crunch of a gravity well. She turned away from this, and towards the little sound, a timetethered mayfly hum of a distant planet. Stepping between the veils, she walked into the world. The locals called her The Snail. Art installation, installed in the dead of the night. Legend had it they came back every night and moved her, maybe a fraction of a fraction of an inch. Nobody had ever caught the artist, though many had tried. The council tried to remove her once; a small group of[…]

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Critical Mass

I see: hands, delicate and doll-like, twin-thumb threefinger; slackface, two-halves stitched with care (for there is so little thread); the organ, furnacewhite death-to-plastic, radiant between the pipes; a Giant, four-foot tall, five dolls’ worth of parts, bent-back to fit into the rats’ nest of crawlspaces beneath the organ, to chase the errant children and drag them back to work; the Chirurgeon with his many hands, ready to stitch, ready to cut the fingers of children who steal, ready with paint thinner and glue to wipe away the mouths of the children who cry. Them-that-built are gone with the water but they left their temples down in the down-dark, fifteen-thousand PSI, enough to liquify bone; first a lab then a refuge then a church and finally[…]

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The Big/Ancient/Deep

My mate’s Charlie’s dad grows truffles and magic mushies out in the Moutere. He’s a tall guy, big-boned but skinny: got a head shaped like a tissue box. Charlie looks like his old man, but writ small—he’s got that flick of delicacy about him. Anyway, there’s an old place out on his block that we used to smoke weed in. Now most places like that are covered in graffiti, filled with rigs and dirty undies, but this place was fucking pristine. A perfect 20s farmhouse, preserved in amber, not even rust on the kettle.  One time, me and Charlie are blazing up and we hear—I swear to fucking god mate—jazz. Coming from inside the house. It was maybe 9pm, middle of summer, sun still refusing[…]

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Milk and Honey

Callum sat with his guts in his hands, surrounded by gold bricks, scorched turf and Prussian corpses. They’d been absolute bastards to the man—the remnants of Von Tempsky’s old unit, scalp-takers and cannibals all—but nobody deserved to die in fucking Otago. Callum should’ve died in Scotland, like every man of his blood before him, but he’d cut the fuses half an inch too long. Timing wasn’t exactly an issue when you used the shit for mining: you made the fuses as long as possible, and if they took a long time to blow then you went out for a sandwich break with the lads. Half an inch of fuse, maybe ten seconds’ difference, and his belly was laid open on the turf. Half an inch,[…]

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Wetware

Henry Tavit tore out his own brain. That’s an abstraction, but abstraction is everything. Look, let’s talk about computers. In 2006, a single bit flip in a Toyota Camry glued the accelerator pedal to the floor and took the car into a tree, killing the passenger instantly. The onboard computer between the pedal and the engine had over 10,000,000 lines of code. I bet you didn’t even know there was a computer there, cars are barely mechanical any more—they haven’t been for decades. It took three years to find the bug, and it was one solitary bit flip: 0 → 1, and a car goes into a tree. Bookout v Toyota Motor Company took eight years. Toyota was found guilty of negligence, ordered to pay[…]

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Canto III

I wish my dad had drank himself to death. Instead, whenever he got mad, he’d grip his thumb inside his palm and his breathing would get weird and tight. After years of barely-suppressed anger, patches of his cheeks and nose went the purple-red of good beetroot – a whisky shine without the whisky. The coronary was the least surprising thing that ever happened to him: he’d been alone, sitting in his chair, watching the TV blare something about immigrant hordes. With nobody else to shout at – not me, not mum, not even old Ms Potts from next-door, who stayed far away from the fence – all his anger went inwards and popped his fucking heart. He insisted throughout his entire life that alcohol was[…]

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Shaq is About to Eat Five Gyros

NB: this piece was written for the I Don’t Even Own a Television podcast’s short story competition, where the prompt was ‘Shaq is about to eat five gyros’. It was soundly and fairly beaten by the actual winner, but I’m still very proud of it, and to this day I’m sad I never got to hear Chris Collision read it. It is immensely silly, and for some reason remains one of my most popular stories. Shaq stared at the menu, and wept. He wanted the gyro with fries. He wanted the gyro without fries. He wanted the chicken gyro, and the lamb gyro. Most of all, he wanted the dark pleasure of the Everything gyro, which contained chicken, lamb, and a superposition of both fries[…]

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Fire-gilding

Beyond the west of the world, where the sun cannot be seen, lies Crow Hearth – the city of ice and stone. A city out of time, lost beneath the snow and beyond the turn of the world. Men scurry through the lightless streets, holding their warm coats close until they can escape down into the rats’ nest of heated tunnels that make the bulk of the city. Down now, down again. Through the tunnels. Follow the insistent ticking that lives somewhere behind the mind and pushes further onward. Don’t touch the men with blue-and-white carbuncles upon their skin, and pale light in their eyes – they are touched by the Heart and lost to the world.    Down now, down again. Tick tick tick.[…]

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We Fight Monsters

Every day, Rose went out beyond the hawker stands –out beyond the torn-up fences and beat-up dock workers–  to the place where the water was clear. Every day, she went to the ocean to weep. The siyokoy took her son when he was out swimming: the niños ate her little niño. She would cry, and scream, and strike the water with her fists. Then, she would return home and cry, and scream, and strike her remaining sons while they cowered in the corner. If you’d asked her, she couldn’t tell you why. Patti saw, and didn’t know what to do. She watched and hid in trees, on rooftops, behind a jumble of TV aerials. She walked on her hands to keep a low profile, and[…]

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