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.

Sunday, 18 October 2015


The Mage clasped his hands together in anticipation. He had had a name once, long ago, but now was only referred to in hushed tones as the Mage. He had been like this ever since he mastered his first spell. A simple flame technique that allowed someone to start a fire. At the age of 12 he burned his school bully alive in his home, along with 6  other members of the family. He had watched from a hiding place until the former blaze was embers, and was shocked to find he felt no remorse whatsoever.

With the realization that magic could resolve alot of the obstacles he would come across in life, he plunged into the ancient tomes, greedily devouring what he found, and utilising it to craft new arcane knowledge to bend reality in ways not previously conceived. The way had not always been straight, and often he had been required to shake hands with entities that would drive a normal man insane, but his ascent had lead to first cohorts, then mercenaries, then armies, and finally conquest. His name had poured across the land as he perpetrated atrocities cosmic on his fellow man.  He had defeated all that had stood before him, and was free to ransack knowledge wherever he could find it.

As he had become older, the age-old fear of age had set in. He became bitter and reproachful that all he had built within himself would be claimed by the sands, and there was not way of holding it back. Until new knowledge arose. A monastery had been discovered, hidden away in a forest. The marauders, a collection of his more dangerous biological experiments from his younger years, had made short work of the holy men, and one had retained enough cohesive thought to bring one alive to him.

He had spiritually flayed the man, one layer at a time. He had torn his essence to shreds, and in his final pain filled delirium he had started to babble of immortality. The Mage had searched for this before and found no-one had been able to defy the Reaper. He could be temporarily averted, but never discouraged. The monk provided the details of a stockpile of spells deemed too dangerous for mortal perception, and they had been sealed away. He had been uncharacteristically merciful, and put the monk out of his misery. The journey was long and arduous, taking him through mountains and deserts. He proved his determination many times over, and finally claimed that which he sought.

He had retreated to his sanctum, a safe room hidden within the spaces that focused his energies, a turned his attention the scroll. The text revealed a ritual, one where all primary, secondary and tertiary elements were represented. The rite allowed mastery of all reality, specifically over the casters self, and prevented  time from ravaging. A surprising simple spell, it had been easy to replicate. He incited the tones, and stood within the circle. After a couple of moments, he started to feel that he may have been cheated. With nothing happening, he strode to the circle edge. He found invisible resistance at the circumference, and started to hammer against it. He desperately conjured up sourceries, and found they splashed uselessly against the walls of his prison.

After a couple more moments, the air outside the circle started to bubble and foam. A figure materialised, and with a start the Mage realised it was the holy man. The man smiled, and waggled a finger at the Mage. There was a sound of glass shattering and reality fragmented around the man. When it reasserted itself, it revealed a much taller man, with skin of white marble. His eyes were glass, and his hair was thick oil that constantly poured down his back. The Mage felt the resonating malevolence through the shield and realised that he found himself in front of the the first evil, The Devil. The Fallen smiled and spoke with a voice of gravel and shards.

"Right Now? Not much of a threat. But someday in the future? Who knows. The reason I have never been usurped is because I make sure I don't have competition. You wanted immortality, thats fine. I don't want you in Hell anyways. Who knows what an enterprising little stain like you could achieve. "

The mage scrabbled for words as confusion reigned.

"I wouldn't try and overthrow you. I mean it's you?! I wouldn't dare hold myself to your level"

"I've watched and noted that your are not satisfied with what you have, constantly pursuing constantly devouring. Give it time and you'll be eyeing my throne. I've seen it before, and this is not the first time I've sent someone like you on a chase for this little ritual.You will now never die. You will never leave that circle. And no-one else will ever enter this sanctum again."

He raised a hand, and was in mid-gesture when the mage screamed.

"Please, have mercy. Was I not merciful to your avatar when I gained what I sought?"

The Devil leered at him.

"You're right. I tell you what. I may even visit occasionally."

He disappeared in a shower of ash.  The Mage stared at the dissipating cloud. He sat down cross legged and started to brood. He could wait.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015


We've all done it. That moment when we are staring into the middle distance and we think "I'm gonna remember the date and time, and if they ever invent time travel, I'm coming back to this moment." This is often followed by a pause to await potential chronal arrivals. As far as I know, this has never borne fruit. I certainly would have laughed at any who claimed it. At least up until about half an hour ago.

I was watching a movie in my lounge when I just zoned out and started playing with my phone. A glance at the date and time triggered the familiar thought process. I chuckled and continued watching the movie. Suddenly, my phones tones rang out. With everything I had been thinking a couple of seconds earlier, this succeeded in momentarily scaring the shit out of me.

It was a number I didn't recognize, more digits than I expected, and one of them I don't know,  I think it was an 8 but it made my brain itch.  Curiosity at this point would have killed me if I hadn't answered the phone. I heard breath on the line, but nothing was coming for a couple of seconds.

Me: Hello?

?: Matt, is that you? 

Me: This is Matt, who is this?

?: Fuck me, it worked. Look I'm not gonna get much time. I'm you.

Me: ...what?

?: Look, in the very near future some really bright sparks are gonna work out how to send signals back. Look, we need to speed this up. You ask me to prove it, I recite the name of every stuffed toy you've ever kept, you say that's not enough, I then list every girlfriend you've ever had, including Anita Wright, the one you didn't tell anyone about. You freak out for a couple of seconds, but we need to get to the part where you start listening to me.

I went cold. I hadn't told anyone about Anita. There was not other explanation. He sounded like me. Talking to him was confusing and comfortable at the same time. In the background I started to hear shouting and a what sounded like something heavy hitting wood.

?:I didn't want to make this call, because of everything it triggers, but I realise that I don't have a choice. You have to get out. Get out of the city, away from civilization, away from other people. It's all about to go to shit, and -

The hammering in the background rose to a crescendo and the voices became clear rapidly approaching our conversation.

?:Get the fuck away from me, you psychos. You killed millions. We can fix it with this, just give me a chance-

He was cut-off mid-sentence. I could hear choking, gurgling noises and I realised he was being strangled. It can take a long time for some to die from strangulation. At least it felt long. He (I?) finally succumbed and there was silence. I heard the receiver get picked up. A clipped British accent resonated down the line.

?:Are you still there?

Me:...yeah, what the fuck is going on?

?: Pay no mind to this. Forget this call. Move on. 

Me:You expect me to just forget this?

?: Well, if you can't I guess I'll be seeing you soon. Good Luck.

The line went dead. I sat in a state of shock for a couple of minutes, trying to process what I had just experienced. On a whim, I tried to dial back the number. All I got was the front-desk of some university. It was answered by a bubbly receptionist. She seemed nice.

This brings us to the alleged present. Where do I go from here?
What do I do?