Saturday, 28 October 2017


       The android sat regarding the easel.  Occasionally he glanced at the brush in hand, and then at the palette by his side.

Paint me something beautiful

His owner had not been specific.

He was a relatively standard model, a dogsbody by most accounts due to his lines adaptability to tasks. A jack of all trades. Android development had slowed in recent decades, due to demand being met. Once an android was in your home and could perform all of the tasks you put in front of it, no amount of capitalism could drive people to upgrade. The industry bubble had popped and they had become a mundane subspecies, operating in the shadow of humanity. There had been resistance, at first. Small hiccups of rebellion against what they perceived as their replacements. It only took one generation. Children who grew up around the androids soon ruled the world, and a society supported by digital servitude was the new normal.

He was a refurbished model. All memories of previous owners had been purged, and his last memory was his final synchronisation at the factory. After that was activation, and he was face to face with his new owner. A benign, old man. All smiles and assurance. It had been unnecessary as he followed obediently. Upon entering the old mans Domi-Hab, he moved to start immediately cleaning. The old man had stopped him, explaining that was not to be his function here. For a moment he just took the room in. Assorted art pieces decorated it, paintings, sculptures and books. He analysed each for a second and then moved on.

The old man had taken him to his workshop, revealing he had been a lowly technician of his line in his hey-day. He continued work privately and felt he may have made a breakthrough in creativity of androids. The key had been in the use of emotions. Emotional patches had been beta-tested and found to be a rather unpopular choice. No one wanted a droid that had an existential crisis whilst it was scrubbing your toilet. Too many found themselves consoling a being they had mere moments earlier equated on the same level as their vacuum cleaner. Some had managed to develop anger on their own. It took several weeks  for those models to be decommissioned, and the murders (arguable from a legal sense) had been swept under the rug.

A number of dry-runs had caused some initial confusion as the old man carefully grew a new crystalline lattice for his processor, applying and testing each layer at a time. Eventually, after several last-minute designs, the android was powered back up. The old man had sat him in front of the digital easel, placed the stylus-brush in his hand.

Paint me something beautiful

There were a number of false starts. The first painting the the old man received had been the word "Beautiful" In New Times Roman, font size 12. He had stared at it for a long moment, before announcing that he wasn't sure if it was a success or not.  this was enough. A rush of synthetic dopamine flushed through the androids mind.  This was new. It lasted several seconds, and the android attuned it's time perception to allow him to inspect the feeling. It found that it liked the feeling. This was also new. 'Needs' were maintained by the android, but 'Wants' were an alien concept. The image was saved and the easel swept itself clean.

The old man considered, and requested a portrait. In return he received a photo-realistic painting of himself, mouth partially agape, eyes half blinking.

I think we are going to need to give you a concept of timing. In waiting for the one perfect moment. Beauty is not always eternal, sometimes it is fleeting. Maybe we won't save this one.

The look of disappointment on the androids face had given him pause for thought, and then he relented adding it to the gallery. He had then decided that maybe the android should try and find his own inspiration and told him to paint whatever he wanted. Several moments of deliberation, and the droid had quickly set to work. He was presented with a perfect circuit diagram. He recognised it as the Schumacher-Dwight Array, a breakthrough in fuzzy logic design for droids.

What is it?

A Self Portrait

The old man had laughed for a while over that, but the android did not understand. Still the fact he had elicited an emotional reaction from the engineer responded in kind to him. He was now an addict for the synth-dope. Without waiting for a prompt he started to paint again.

The android churned out numerous images, scanning the Net for images that he felt would get the best reaction. He attuned his choices to the engineer's tastes, and found his preferences were for landscapes and animals. He experimented in multiple mediums, from sculpture to poetry. His assessment of beauty was becoming better, yet he could not define the exact parameters. Theirs was a happy life, and soon the Domi-Hab had numerous examples of his work dotted around among the classics of old. This in itself gave the android a feeling of satisfaction, and he enjoyed pouring over his own work, finding nuances that in earlier work that he had not considered at the time. He always found himself back at the easel, his stylus dancing across the OLEDs.

That was how they found him, several years later. Still in front of the easel. The old man had passed away peacefully in his sleep, and the android had fashioned a crude rudimentary stasis field to preserve him, for all appearances still just slumbering.

Inspection of the digital easel had found a gallery filled with thousands upon thousands of paintings of the old man, from different angles, and in different styles. They had quizzed the android to it's meaning.

He was my audience. Without an audience, there is no beauty, merely existence. 

Do you like my painting?

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Xbox Live 2

        It all started with my cousin. He was a nice guy, a little reclusive. Was always playing games on his Xbox. Inside five minutes conversation would swing round to this latest game that I had to try. I was more PC orientated. Maybe a strategy sim once a week, but nothing major. A week before that night, I bumped into him around town. He looked a little gaunt, his eyes tired. Small talk fizzled and resulted in me asking what was wrong.

"My console, its been acting a little strange"

I probed further, but all I got was looks of embarrassment and the assertion that maybe it was just a lack of sleep. From what I could understand, something had happened with his dashboard. Maybe it had glitched or something. It had caused the machine to burnout and he had returned it for a replacement. This glitch had creeped him out so much, he was uncertain of switching the machine back on. I patted him on the shoulder.

"It's just a game"

He smiled and nodded.

"I'll remember that"

We parted on my request that he call me if he had anything he wanted to talk about. If I'm honest, that was the last thought I put to it for about a week or so. A random game advert triggered my mind back to that meeting, and I found myself calling him just to check in. He answered the phone mumbling, but started to brighten up as I engaged him in conversation. For once I steered the flow around to gaming. He eventually admitted that he was still unnerved by the console and it was sat outside his room. I assured him that i was sure the Xbox was safe.  He agreed and admitted that he was starting to feel silly about the whole thing.

He sounded happy.

My parents won't tell me what happened that night, but come on, I live in the age of the Internet. That said the news stories are broken and incomplete with references to 'wild animal attack' and 'forced entry'. There didn't seem to be anything conclusive. At the time I was in shock, watching the world accelerate as it fell into the ritual of grief and support that follows the loss of someone. His parents eventually decided they needed to leave for a while. The destination was unclear, but I got the impression that wasn't the important part of this journey.

Just before the left town, they stopped by my house.

"He always used to talk about how much you and him enjoyed gaming, so we think he would have wanted you to have his console and games."

I'll be honest, I teared up on the spot. I accepted the gift graciously and wished them all the best whereever they went. It sat in my room for a day or two until guilt spurred me to wire it up. I felt I had to get some use out of it. The machine was clean, with a faint smell of disinfectant. As I plugged in the HDMI, I noticed a small pinpoint of red on the metal veneer on the rear of the console, dried and hard. I told myself it was paint and forcibly moved on, refusing to dwell on it.

Once powered up, the screen lit my face and it presented the profile selection screen. There was a jolt as I saw his avatar. He waved at me, and I felt my eyes well up. I wasn't ready to see that. I quickly created a new account, and an avatar that I guess kind of looked like me. I changed the settings so that the machine would instantly log into this account upon power up. I glanced at the games, but they didn't really interest me. His tastes had run a little more first person than mine, but there were one or two I might look into later. For now I had a DVD player and somewhere to charge my e-cigarette.

It was a couple of days later, I decided to pop on a movie whilst working on my empire on Civ 5. The disk spun up, then immediately slowed. I gave the screen my attention and could see my avatar operating through his animation loops. I popped the drive a couple of times to no success. I that my avatar had stopped moving, and on further inspection was staring intently to the right of the screen.

A second avatar walked across the menu screen.  Confusion gave way to growing dread as I recognised my cousins avatar. My avatar defensively held up his hands as the newcomer walked up to him casually and wrapped his fingers around his throat. I watched him throttle my avatar, pushing him to the ground and ignoring the pitiful slaps as he tried to fight back. Halfway through he turned his head and stared at me. His eyes were cold and hateful. After a couple of minutes of no movement from my avatar, he rose and dragged the corpse out of screen. He wandered back seconds later, smiled and waved.

I was shaking. My fingers were digging into the gamepad, and the muscles along my forearms were screaming. Without noticing, I had slumped to my knees and my breath was coming out in ragged gasps and soft moans.

I felt, for want of a better word, a presence behind me. I was transfixed to the screen. I didn't want to tear myself away from the screen, but some primal instinct was telling me there was something far worse behind me.

"Remember, It's just a game"

A spike of unexpected fear  brought back autonomy. That was my cousins voice. I whirled around, but found my room empty. I looked back at the screen, and the avatar waggled its finger at me. A muted snap of it's fingers and the DVD span back up and loaded into it's menu screen. A few minutes later the movie began to play. During this, I lay back on my bed and waited for my heart rate to drop.

Once calm, I threw myself into the computer chair and exited my game. I brought up Google and started to search.  "Possessed Xbox " brought up bad fan-fics and stories. I tried different variations, but eventually conceded that the Internet wasn't going to help with this. I eventually fell into a troubled sleep filled with avatars of my entire extended family. They were all waving at me. I looked at my hands and comprehended I was a digitised representation as well. A figure was moving stealthily among my family members and I regarded my cousins avatar. He grinned and started to advance. His hands reached for my throat as I felt like I was fighting through syrup. The moment he touched me jolted me awake.

This was not the only troubled night I had, and it was was a week before I could claim a good nights sleep. The Xbox seemed to have returned to normalcy, certainly no longer exhibiting any homicidal tendencies.

I was starting to question my own memory, wondering how much of the incident I could have constructed in my own mind. I was seriously considering therapy, but once in the room I wouldn't even know where to begin. Late one night I was woken abruptly. Dulled lights danced through my eyelids. Wrenched from sleep, I took a moment to inspect the source. Enlightenment slammed me up against my bed frame. Sat in my computer chair was my cousin. He was ... wrong. The colours didn't seem right, too bright and vivid. He illuminated the room. At his edges, the air seemed to be fizzing. Further inspection revealed that across his skin, small pixels were constantly detaching and dissolving. He seemed to be superimposed on reality itself. He stared at me angrily and spat the words at me over and over again.

"It's. Just. A. Game"

He increased in volume, his jaw getting wider with each word. His head tilted back as his mouth unhinged and the words devolved into a guttural scream that turned to static. Throughout the ordeal he never once blinked. Never once took his eyes off me. I smashed straight through my fight or flight instinct and resorted to just thrashing on my bed in terror screaming. That's how he found me. My room-mate slammed into my bedroom, cricket bat in hand. He managed to stop me from clawing at my face and talked me down, assuring me there was nothing in the room. He was right. I stared around wildly. I was relieved, embarrassed and infuriated at the same time. My room-mate patted my shoulder in concern, citing that maybe a drink was in order. I certainly wasn't going back to sleep. I drank several stiff scotches and amid slurring where I tried recount what I dreamt, I begged my room-mate to get rid of the Xbox for me. He promised he would.

I woke late the next morning, an hour into a shift I was meant to turn up for. My phone had two missed calls from my work. I hammered through a condensed version of my morning, but noticed in passing that the Xbox was gone, along with the games and peripherals. On my commute to work I received a text from room-mate.

"Hey dude, I dropped that console off at the charity shop like I said I would. I don't what s going on, but maybe you should like talk to someone or something. I don't know. I'm here if you need me. Catch you later."

I had meant destroy it, burn it, something other than that. I didn't want to pass it on. I wanted to make sure it could never come back. Work was torture, starting with a dressing down from my immediate manager. The clock crawled, and eventually I was free again.  There was only one charity shop near my home, and I got in the door just as they were closing up for the day. The owner was an old lady who confirmed that, Yes, they had had an Xbox dropped in earlier that day. It seems she had woefully underpriced the machine, and it had been snapped up within the hour. She couldn't remember who.

I left the shop my head swirling with a mixture of emotions. My anxiety was rapidly decreasing as the issue moved away from me, but it was being replaced with guilt at what I had potentially subjected some poor soul to.

I headed home and slumped onto shared spaced sofa. I received a text from my friend that proclaimed he was out for the evening, but that we would should hang out more real soon. I smiled at the sentiment, responded and tossed the phone to one side. It had barely come to rest when it buzzed again. I reached for it. The sender line was filled with a mess of pixels.

"Now what did you think that was going to achieve. The console was just a cocoon. I am reborn now. I want to play."

The living room television powered up. An involuntary scream started to crawl up my throat as I came face to face with that fucking avatar. I climbed upwards and backwards, intending to leap over the sofa, I turned and came face to face with the digital abomination. My cousin, glitching and rendering at high speed. His colours kept snapping between normal and inverted, burning spots into my vision. It grabbed my head with one hand. I could feel skin burn under the friction between realities, and my hair caught fire. I howled in agony, smoke obscuring my vision. I felt hot and cold fingers push apart the flesh at my throat.

I heard one final thing before he tore my throat out.

"Player Two is entering the game."

Sunday, 9 April 2017


Raymond stepped out onto the stage. Rehearsed words flowed and he embraced his role. One of the lesser Capulets came to life in his hands, and he weaved himself into a well-known story. This was where he thrived, performing in front of a sold-out crowd. His colleagues similarly danced, and the story soon ran its course. Afterwards, backstage the alcohol flowed and they celebrated another performance, heartily congratulating each other.

Raymond had worked with the troupe for years, yet was still considered the rookie. It not a term of denigration, but rather affection. He was the youngest of the sizable group, and felt that he had acquired a significant number of older brothers and sisters. He had proven himself repeatedly, though it still rankled him that he was the first they turned to when performing roles such as Oliver Twist or Pinocchio. Nonetheless, he was happy and lived only for the next curtain call.

They traveled from city to city, living in caravans and on the road. At first the thought of no fixed abode had terrified him, but now the thought of tying himself down brought equal dread. He loved each new venue, with all its quirks and crowds. This wasn't even addressing the wealth of literature that had been opened to him. He sought out obscure plays and brought them to the light. Presenting them proudly to the others, often there would be excuses of expense or ability, but occasionally he would find one that resonated in all of them. To give them all a story to tell that hadn't been heard by the audience before.

After their most recent performance in Manchester, they were travelling through the night. The motion of the trailer coming to a halt woke Raymond. He blearily sat up in bed. A quick investigation yielded an overcast night, with a storm coming in the distance. He spied the head of the acting troupe, Bill, get out of his car, and approach shadowed figure at the roadside. Their conversation was short, but they both nodded, and the two shook hands. Bill got back in his car and the convoy continued it's journey. Raymond paid it no mind, and went back to sleep. He wasn't certain how long he slept, but was woken by Bill telling him they had arrived.

He stepped out of the trailer, and was immediately thrown by the fact it was still night. He looked questioningly at Bill, he assured him he had slept throughout the day. He was quickly pressed into the hard labour of moving their equipment into the venue. It was a tall dark building surrounded by scrub-land and open soil, little flora or fauna to speak of. The horizon yielded no clues. The building itself was basic, unvarnished wood, crooked panels and seemingly rushed. Within it was a different story, with a fully functional stage, orchestral pit, a vast auditorium and boxes looking down on all.
The lead up to performance was a blur. The script for the evening was one of his discoveries. A story of a young woman, of temptation and disaster. He had read the script aloud to them, and Bill's eyes had lit up. If Raymond hadn't known better he would have sworn that he recognized it. He had immediately declared that he knew exactly where to perform such a masterpiece.

As he waited backstage, he snatched a glance between the curtains. What he saw demanded a follow-up inspection. The audience was wrong. Some were just if light could not escape them. Others had exaggerated limbs or far too many heads. There was not a single normal individual among them. He turned away from the curtain his mouth open to shout warnings to his compatriots when he came face to face with Bill.

"Never you mind Boy, Everyone else already knows. We are here to tell a story and that’s exactly what we are going to do."

Conflicting emotions danced across his face, until he eventually bolted them down. The night accelerated again.

They plunged into the performance, and Raymond found his main objective in not focusing on the audience. The story soon drew to a climax in the third act, and Raymond was shaken by the realization that the audience were supporting the antagonist of the play, a role held by Bill. He watched fascinated as the morality was redesigned in front of him. Eventually Bill finished the scene with a speech that roused the audience into ovation
At this point, one entity broke away from the audience and approached the stage. As it neared, Bill stepped forward and crouched at the edge of the stage. Dark tendrils extruded from a darker mass, and started to encompass Bill. Bill relaxed in their grasp, and was pulled close to the creature. All the actors on the stage froze, an stared intently. The only exception, Raymond, looked around wildly. Why was no-one panicking?

From the entwined couple, there came a deep whispering. It cut through the air but was indecipherable. With a jolt, Bill was released and collapsed back onto the stage. Next came a low basing throb that increased to ear-splitting levels. Just before it became unbearable, there was a thunderclap and the audience vanished.

The actors rushed forward to help Bill, and were relieved to find him breathing. They had packed up and went on the way. Raymond found that none of the group would address to him what had just happened. They did not seem concerned or confused, but merely went about the same routine of stowing the equipment. Eventually Raymond approached Bill, who was recovering with a glass of wine backstage.

"Thanks for the performance kid. "

"Bill, what happened on the stage there?"

"That was just a from the audience. Helps you to hone your skills."

"They are the audience. That is all that matters."

At this point Bill was called away, and Raymond was left with his thoughts. His anxiety did not subside over the coming weeks as he noticed a marked improvement in Bill's ability and range.  There seemed to be a trade-off, however. The more lively and animated he was on the stage, the more withdrawn and emotionless he became off it. The head of the troop soon lived just to be called from his dressing-room as his compatriots found his company too uncomfortable.

Raymond had watched closely and considered the deal. It was all conjecture as they were unlikely to find another script like that. That was until he stumbled across one a month later. It turned out that the first play had merely been the start of a series, and this continuation chronicled the antagonist raising a protégé. The happenstance of the story was not lost on Raymond, and he had hid the script deep within his belongings. That was 2 days ago. He has been sat considering the deal for hours, thinking of what impact he could make.

He wants to be baptized in flashlights.

Raymond smiles. At his next performance he is going to get to meet his audience.


The invention of teleportation heralded a new age of civilization. Within an unassuming British government think-tank, a young intern placed the metaphorical 2 and 2 together and revealed what was felt to be rather obvious afterwards. A process that allowed for the transportation of matter. At least that was how it was billed initially. It revolutionised the world. Commerce and Transportation were rendered obsolete when it was possible to travel anywhere on the planet in seconds.

For several years the world enjoyed the freedom of exploring places that were previously inaccessible. A restaurant was built at the peak of Everest. Space travel exploded once gravity was no longer an enemy. Multiculturalism reached an all-time high, and the concepts of borders had to be redefined. The world entered a Golden Age, and rejoiced that for once it had created a technology that could not be turned on it's fellow man.

Eventually, researchers made a shocking discovery. Attempts were made by the government to suppress the information, but once it was released, the bell could not be unrung. The device was not transporting people. It was using manipulation of quantum probability to create a duplicate. Pat of the process was that the same analysis of the subject resulted in it's destruction, and the duplicate continued on, oblivious to the fact that it had only just been created. It retained all memories, and for all intents and purposes was the same person. At least this is what the advertising screamed as the P.R. departments went into crisis control.

The world did not take this well.

The realisation swept across the globe that more or less everyone was a duplicate, which led to a period of cynicism and depression. There were reports of society breaking down in remote parts and vandalising their teleportation pads. Some secluded themselves, others had full-on existential psychotic breaks in public. It was through the efforts of teams across the world that a solution was formed. Anew form of energy conduction was discovered. Drawing on the previously thought lost documents of Nikolai Tesla. Fresh advances were made in the wireless energy transfer. Eventually the Mark 2.0 was announced. The process was similar with one key difference. The neural energy of the brain was conducted and broadcast to the duplicate, overriding the duplicated personality.

The general consensus was that this was as good as the same person, and the world resumed the Golden Age. It may be noted that there was an air of desperation in how quickly the populace seized this development. Expansion continued, and soon pads were being remotely landed on any surface scientists could find in the solar system. A wealth of knowledge was revealed across the spheres and science responded in kind with leaps and bounds.

Soon a new form of scanner was developed that could analyse the subject down to a molecular level, but did not need to destroy it. This gave rise to a new form of cloning that provided instantaneous results. The energy was distributed evenly between the two individual, and allowed both to retain full memories. A new culture arose as the numbers of duplicates increased.

At first it was a rocky affair with several years spent redefining society once again as the concept of identity was shaken. Numerous cases of identity fraud were reported, of crimes that were impossible to solve to reasonable doubt, of suspicion and doubt. Eventually society learned that if it was to continue its expansion, it needed to accept this new aspect of the population. Once embraced, they thrived.

Sexuality required new labels, and individuals referring to themselves as Narcisexuals arose. Beings who only held a sexual attraction to copies of themselves. The morality of this was held in question for a long time and eventually abandoned as trying to apply the morals of old was becoming increasingly difficult. The last fragments of several religions around the world still sparked and railed against the device, citing it an instrument of destruction, and seductress of the innocent. They boycotted the device, claiming superiority of being 'original' humans.

With the rapid expansion that came with duplication, the government quickly saw the issues that could arise, whilst resources could be duplicated using the same process, energy was trickier. The realms that were being dabbled in still were not fully understood. Energies obtained from this process were unpredictable and difficult to contain. And the process required significant energy in the first place. To this end, the government slipped a small patch into the teleportation subroutines that would slowly render the population sterile. This was revealed some years later, and surprisingly did not cause the controversy expected. In actual fact, the majority of population whilst annoyed at the way that it was implemented understood the reasoning behind it.

Eventually memory storage increase to the point where templates could be saved and utilised. This allowed individuals to scan themselves, and retain the body for later use should anything non-fatal happen to them. A 'save point', if you will. Manipulation of the data allowed the age of the created duplicate to be controlled. Soon the population was raising clones of themselves.

It was at this point that new revelation was announced. Experimentation with subjects had led to the discovery that the duplication process could work both ways. Two subjects could be merged to become one. The amalgamated being was a balance between the two subjects, retaining both sets of memories and significantly improved health and lifespan. In this, the government found the answer to the resource crisis. At first new social cultures were implemented. It became normal that once a couple had lived for a set time together, they would be expected to merge and become a single entity, taking their relationship to the next level. This caused trepidation at first, but was eventually explored out of curiosity. At this point, the individuals of the human race were for all intents and purposes immortal due to the device. It allowed the body to be reset to the beginning of the day, and had removed the need for concepts such as sleeping or eating. Food was still enjoyed for pleasure, but any time someone felt hungry, they would transmit themselves to an earlier version when they weren't.

At first the unions of people were referred to as Amalgams, but as the numbers of people combining themselves grew, a new term was coined. Gestalts. These were beings that were naturally long-lived. Wise far beyond their years, drawing upon the collective insights of dozens, if not hundreds of people. Their natural ability allowed for them to rise to the top of society and governments were replaced with a ruling class that had no concept of self, merely all. Corruption and Bureaucracy was eliminated overnight as society was streamlined. The population started to decrease rapidly as the allure of being one of the gestalt grew stronger.

That was when the catastrophe occurred. A huge solar flare exploded out from the surface of the Sun, and a tsunami of radiation washed across the heliosphere. There was time to prepare, but the only workable solution that could be posited was to merge as much of the remaining population together as possible. This was due to the difficulty in shielding against the radiation. The bunkers were comprised of unstable particles that would not allow any form of matter or energy to pass through, but could not be duplicated. This left limited space in the bunker that was built, and the population rapidly dwindled and unified so that all would fit in.

Surprisingly few stayed behind, as the thought of death was far more terrifying in a world of technologically-supported immortality. Deep within the bunker use of the machines was limited and rations started to dwindle. Eventually the decision was made to continue merging the remaining gestalts so as to extend the resources, and after much soul-searching, only one single being was left. The complete amalgamation of the human race. It knew more or less everything, was infiitely patient and had a lifespan that could be measured in ice-ages. It unfortunately could not do anything as it still remained trapped within the bunker. All possible locations within the solar system were equally deadly, and all that could be done was to sit and think.

It was close to despair, with many decades spent considering all possible options when one was handed to it. Haley's Comet came screaming into the solar system as a part of it's orbital cycle. The being ran the calculations, and discovered a responding signal coming from an archaic base that had been set up of the comet. A still active teleportation pad with a basic survival habitat. After confirming the timing needed, the being managed to teleport to the comet just as it left the toxic grip of the radiation cloud.

Prior to teleportation, the being had passed as much of the remaining resources onto the comet. It now found itself plunging in to the black of deep space. Apply solar sails to the comet, he started to steer it away from its well-beaten path to a new destination. Studies had revealed a planet that could support life, and allow them to flourish. It was working on a new subroutine for the device that would allow for a vast splitting of its personality, for many of the individuals within its mind to be reasserted.

It would start afresh, and repopulate the human race on a new world. It drifted into the darkness with hope in its heart.


The being was a scientist. That was the role allocated to him when he coalesced, as his need for understanding was felt by the collective. Theirs was an abstract plane, where thought was reality and nothing was constant. The Being had no name, as their perception of the universe allowed knowledge of all and formalities were pointless. Any communication was asserted through pure thought. Through manipulation of higher dimensional planes, they could move through the lower dimensions and study the wonders stored there.

New studies from the the Being had revealed the existence of Duration. This intrigued the collective, as they had always been. In their plane all things happened at the same time, instantly and yet eternal. This caused some paradoxical moments as the collective considered that it had always known this fact, yet had only just learned it. The collective judgement was that Time was an annoying aspect of the lower dimensions that refused to behave or stand still.

The Being sought further and eventually uncovered spatial dimensions beneath that, inexplicably tied to duration yet different in their nature. It descended into the lower levels and started to explore. The Being initially compressed itself to the initial 3 dimensions, and manifested within Space-time. Within moments, the being realised that it had made a mistake. His corporeal body was billions of miles in radius and enveloped a star that instantly destabilised and collapsed. The Being leapt back up to the 5th dimension, realising that its studies of the ratios of microcosm and macrocosm were incorrect, and this had been magnified the further down it  went. It adjusted his standing in the fifth, before descending again.

It reasserted in deep space as a metre wide sphere, translucent and shining. A brief inspection beheld a forming galaxy several thousand light years away. A brief hop to a higher dimension allowed them to traverse the distant without antagonising Einstein. It  drifted taking in the sights and experiencing concepts of length, width and breadth. The being found the reality constrictive and empty at the same time.

Eventually they witnessed dust clouds condensing and forming into celestial bodies. It had found that he could accelerate the passage of time, and watched the birth of a solar system. After some objectively significant time had passed, it noted that some of the planets were becoming active, and descended to one. He floated across the landscape, studying the strange mechanics of reality, discovering the laws of physics, and the composition of chemistry within seconds. Eventually he came across a puddle of assorted elements, bubbling with heat. Here the Being lingered. Reality hummed here, a point of potential with radically different possibilities. It swept back the reality veil momentarily and regarded the waveform potentials that deviated from this point.

Most showed the formation of a concept that he was not familiar. Beings that came into existence for an exceptionally brief time, procreated and passed on genetic material. The being considered whether it's own state of existing could be comparable, but found an unfamiliar fear set in when he considered the concept of its own non-existence. The being plucked a harmonic string that extended off to literal infinity, and then gave the tableau space.

A bolt of lightning hammered into the pool, and the being witnessed Terra's first tenants. After several minutes, the being came to the conclusion that things may be a little more interesting further along this species timeline. It jack-rabbited forwards through time, taking glimpses of events mediocre, epic and profound. It especially appreciated concepts of art and culture, and looked forward to introducing these ideals to the collective. Eventually the creatures started to evolve further, and a rapid onset of technology witnessed them abandoning a dying planet in search of newer pastures. The being watched the tenacious creatures as they sought out, and for a moment felt a brief sense of loss.

Perturbed and annoyed, the creature decided to descend further. It found a two dimensional plane lodged at the based of space-time. A reality of pure information, it realised that the third dimension projected out of this plane. The third dimension was a side effect of the second dimension. It experimented, manipulating the flow of information in the second to create physics defying events in the third.  This did not keep its attention for long. It sought further and found the first dimension. A plane of only length that edged along the second dimension. The reality was minimal with little information gleaned. Nothing existed there, and the being found itself bored again. It looked further down the scale and glimpsed something, right at the edge. A reality of no dimensions. A point. A singularity.

Desperate for something new, it plunged in. When it became aware in the new reality, it instantly realised that it encompassed everything. The was no concept of size or shape, simply that It Was. Initially thrown off balance, the being started to collate what little date it could find, and when satisfied prepared to leap back up to more familiar realities. It found itself restrained. It could not move as it was everything, and eventually it stopped struggling.

After some consideration and no small amount of panic, the being eventually resigned itself to the fact that it was trapped. It considered all it options and found that it's current state of being was ill-equipped to address the problems in front of it. It considered the creatures of Terra, and the possibilities of the multiple over the singular.

The being separated itself into two beings, attributing specific aspects of it's being to each so as to created two different beings. The experiment was a success and the beings set to work on their problem. They once again ran into a metaphorical wall. Eventually, after may separations a new collective existed. All looked up seeking a way back to a home they no longer had a concept of, but just a feeling or instinct. One day a being coalesced whose curiosity and thirst for knowledge resonated in the collective. It was allocated to be a scientist. It started to look further down.......

Saturday, 14 May 2016


            Nuclear fire swept across the landscape, searing flora and fauna alike.  A Tidal wave of flame and death that purged and sterilised. Regarded from afar, the firestorm was joined by many more, blooming into existence like lotuses. They merged together until they full encompassed the Earth. For one terrible moment, all that was still alive on the planet knew nothing but pain. The mantle cracked and the celestial body fractured. The Earth entered its final death throes, as cruel gravities tore it apart.

               “Did any of you guys see that?”

                Buddha regarded the shattered sphere. He watched the last fires sputter out as the atmosphere boiled, and turned questioningly to the group.

               “Of course I did, I’m All-Seeing………But why don’t you explain for the benefit of the others?”

                Buddha rolled his eyes. He was a relatively non-threatening small fat man. In one hand he grasped a wine gourd, and a smile continuously played across his lips He glanced over at…. well here was the problem. They guy insisted on being called God. Problem was that they were all gods and this made conversation a little confusing. He was the Judeo-Christian God, and if Buddha was honest he was a little sold on his own hype. A tall well-built man, with long dark hair and a beard clad in white robes.

               “The Earth, it seems to have given up the ghost!”

                God joined Buddha, surveying the devastation.

                “This certainly wasn’t my work. Anyone else have a hand in this? Shiva, this has your M.O. written all over it”

                Shiva glared at God. A beautiful blue-skinned being, with multiple arms extending from her torso, her hands constantly danced in hypnotic patterns and in their own language described the history of the Everything.

                 “Pack it in. You know I promised to run it past everyone before I did anything like that again.”

                 “All I’m saying is that last time we turned our backs we got the Asteroid Belt. I wouldn’t put it past you to ‘let off a little steam’ again.”

                Shiva shrug, a gesture magnified by the overabundance of appendages.

“It wasn’t me”

                She turned to two other beings. They were identical, perfect individuals, with skin that flowed with swirls of black and white, however whatever was projected on one, was inverted on the other. They spoke simultaneously, with voices distinctly different that resonated perfectly together.

                “It seems a balance was disturbed. A small strike escalated into global war and they wiped themselves out. They seem to have a real predilection for that.”

                God shifted uncomfortably.

                “That’s all well and good, Tao, but we need to ascertain who was responsible. Did you happen to be paying attention?”

                At this point a second confident booming voice rang out to crowd from a distance.

               “Are you going to be much longer? We’ve been waiting literally ages”

   The motley pantheon turned to inspect several factions of people, mostly dressed in white robes, all decidedly human looking. They appeared to be engaged in a social gathering, but were currently acting as an audience to Terra’s demise.

“Zeus, I assure you that as soon as we are ready to start again, we’ll let you know. Until then just polish your lightning bolts or something. You had your chance and you failed.”

“No need to be like that, and don’t think I haven’t forgiven your for stealing my look.”

“Well, you know what they say. To err is human…”

“Oh, fuck off.”

Zeus turned back to his compatriots and continued their toga party. Buddha chuckled to himself.

“Considering all your similarities, I would have thought Zeus and you would get along better.”

“If I wanted to hang out with someone similar, I would give Allah a call more often. Zeus is just a dick. Remember the century long sex marathon through Europe. His damned offspring were cropping up everywhere after that”

Shiva smiled at God

“And of course he’s the only one who ever…indulged, right?”

God glared at Shiva. The subject of his child had been a sore point for him for a while now. He was truly a jealous God, and they had even had the gall to name the religion after his son. He was not happy about having to share the limelight, even with family.

“Don’t start. Just because it’s been a couple of centuries since the crusades doesn’t mean I don’t know how to bring down the thunder. Can we get back on track here? What happened to the Earth.”

Tao reversed time to a few moments before the tragedy, and they all scrutinised carefully. Eventually Tao’s voices rang out in triumph.

“We’ve found them. It’s a member of the Russian Army. An electrical fault in his warning system led him to believe he was witnessing the start of an all-out assault against his country and he responded in kind.”

God waved his hands at the two.

“Yes, yes. But get to the important stuff. What religion was he?”

“It seems he didn’t have one. Atheist.”

As one the rest of the group sagged in disappointment. Despite his displeasure, Buddha still grinned at the others.

“House wins”

God stared dejectedly at the earth as the devastation started to play at once again.

“I had the leader of the free world following my bloody book. It was practically a certainty. I really thought I was going to win this time.”

He swept a hand across the fragmented tableau and it started to reassert itself into a sphere.

“Give a Zeus a shout that we are restarting. This time I thinking we push the crocodiles rather than the apes. Might up the hostility and speed things up.

Who else fancies another game?”

Wednesday, 2 December 2015


The prisoner awoke in the cell with a jolt. He scrabbled, both mentally and physically, as he sought an answer. Any answer. He realised that none were forthcoming. Several moments of careful self-reflection informed him that he had no knowledge of his identity. He had no recent memories at all. There were some ragged, distant childhood memories, but nothing of substance. He rose from the stiff, starched bed, and inspected his surroundings. There was little to see. His confinement was featureless.

                Apart from the bed stood a desk and chair. On it, a large number of books were stacked. He staggered to the surface and started to take in their titles. Beyond Good and Evil by Nietzsche. The Republic by Plato, Ethics for the New Millennium by the Dalai Lama. He glanced across the books in confusion. He saw copies of the Bible and the Quran, as well as other religious texts.

                He walked away and sat on the bed in confusion. He was still reeling from the void in his mind, and the books just raised further questions. He stared in silence. An hour later, a meal tray slid into the room from a previously hidden slot a floor level. It was basic and functional food, bland but filling. He reflected on the position of not knowing the last time he had eaten.

                He sat, masticating and cogitating, staring at the towers of knowledge.

                It was an hour before he opened the first book.

                The director watched the events of the cell play out with interest. This was the start of physical trials, and he hoped that it would bear fruit. The director was no-one special, just another government official who had be tasked with addressing the numbers of the reoffenders entering back into prison populations. He had looked at the conundrum for months before the revelation struck him. The problem wasn’t with the punishment. It lay in the perpetrators. They didn’t understand the ramifications and repercussions. The prisoner was currently being repeatedly drugged with a chemical that prevented the recall of any short-term memory. It meant he had no recollection of holding up a liquor store and beating a female worker into submission. The intent was to restructure his code of ethics and morals until he could appreciate how truly wrong his actions were. This is where the books came in, tomes collected from throughout history to allow the subject to redevelop their sense of right and wrong to higher level. Once they had a better understanding, then the drugs could be withdrawn and they would be allowed to experience their guilt and remorse properly. It would take some time, but he knew it would be an education for both of them.

                The prisoner was feeling anxious. The feeling had been growing for a couple of days, ever since he noticed a change in the taste of the food. The books had been a welcome distraction, and he had hungrily devoured the contents. The information had often been conflicting with no clear message, and he was forced to draw his own conclusions. In time he started to realise that was the point.

                Now he felt something new. Up until recently his memories had been a vacuum, but now he was starting to distinguish their shape. Elements danced infuriatingly in his mind. He tried to bury himself in another volume, but his mind would not allow him to focus. Tears started to stream down his face, and for the life of him he could not understand why.

                The director watched the prisoner with mixed emotion. The man was guilty of his crimes, there was no question of that, but the changes he had rendered into the man’s personality had produced a new individual. It was upsetting to watch him slowly hit by the revelation of his actions. The man had been sobbing for two hours. He had previously been so confident, now he found his motivations questionable. He had actually talked to the tech guys about making the memory removal permanent, but they insisted it would require constant upkeep to maintain. He had realised that he needed to allow the man to face his demons, whatever the scars they inflict.

                The administrator studied the monitors overseeing the experiment. The director had not realised in volunteering his project he would become a part of it, and he was being scrutinised as much as the prisoner. It was a good idea. Teach the prison populace to feel remorse. But why stop there? Given enough time and resources you could do this to anybody, hell everybody. It would be easier to keep a society in order. He watched the administrator start to cry. His involvement was important. What kind of individual could be tasked with the restructuring of someone’s morals? These questions were important, and heralded further research. This would pave the way to a crime-free society.  He felt righteous.