Justice in the Age of Bubble Living

“You have never known vulnerability,” boomed the judge, enjoying the echo of her voice. “You have lived a life eased by your looks, and taken it for granted that you could have whatever you want. You have never worked, simply charmed your way to an easy life. And then when faced with an item you couldn’t have, a car you didn’t need but wanted, and that the owner wouldn’t just give you, you stole it!” The guilty man with the dimpled smile looked at her quizzically and then his eyes twinkled as he tilted his head. The judge’s heart hardened, she hated it when people tried to manipulate her.

“So your punishment is to know vulnerability. To lose your ticket to the easy life. To learn what it is to struggle and be rejected. You shall spend the next five years…ugly!”

She enjoyed the horror on his face, the struggle as he was dragged away, protesting and sobbing. The programmers could work out the details: a few warts, a wonky nose, hair in all the wrong places. Judging was so much more fun in these days of virtual reality.

I’ve not been so chatty…

I know I’ve not been very chatty recently, I don’t want anyone to think that I’m ignoring them, or not interested in blogging anymore. Like I’ve said before, I’m working on an all-consuming project at the moment and it’s difficult to drag myself out of that and focus on something else. Also, I just realised a big flaw in the book I wrote, so I’m trying to rework that too. Give it a few weeks, and it should all be back to normal.

It’s probably a bit daft to write a post like this, but while I’ve not met any of the posters whose blogs I follow, some of you I feel I know well enough to think of as friends, and I don’t want you to feel ignored or unappreciated.

Anyway, I will try and keep up reading and posting, but if I get a bit slack please be patient.

And here is a picture of a praying mantis.

 

1984mantis
Praying Mantis

 

Letter from the Damned

Dear Sam,

I don’t have much time so I’ll keep this brief. Last night I slept for thirteen hours, that’s the longest yet. If I keep going like this, soon I won’t have to wake up at all. My phone has wracked up seven messages while I slept – I know most of them will be from my boss since I missed my shift this morning. It’s difficult to care.

You wanted to know what’s going on with me, you’re not the only one, but you’re the only one that might actually understand, I hope you can. The truth is, I started having these bizarre dreams about a year ago. Every night I would dream that these shadowy demon figures were gathered around my bed, just watching me. Nothing about them was clearly defined, even their eyes were dark hollows, and then when they moved I could see darker streaks shifting like muscles beneath the smoky nothingness. Sometimes they would talk, but I couldn’t understand them. Sometimes they would prod me, even lift up bits of my body, and I was powerless to stop them. I didn’t know if they were bad or good, or what they wanted from me.,  I’ve never talked about it, because you’d have all thought I was crazy, sometimes I’ve thought I’m crazy too. And I kept thinking about them all day, just wanting an explanation, a plan, anything. And then I heard about lucid dreaming. In fact I read a blog about it, about how you could just take control of your dreams, kind of be conscious while in that dreamworld. I thought if I did that I could get them to speak in English, I could get up and prod them.

Like I say, I was never really sure that they were bad, they didn’t do anything nasty, but we’re taught to be suspicious of mysterious shadowy demon figures, they’re in so many horror stories, aren’t they? So when I started the lucid dreaming – writing notes to myself to stay awake, training myself to be kind of conscious while asleep – I was also getting ready to fight them. But they didn’t need to be fought. It turned out they had only come to visit and were working out how to communicate with me. Once I was able to get up and talk to them, it was pretty simple.

“You didn’t respond,” one said, speaking clearly, it turns out they hadn’t known I was English.

“It was as if you weren’t properly there at all,” said another.

“Well, I guess I wasn’t, that’s what dreaming is for us, usually,” I said.

“Ah,” they all said in thoughtful unison, they’re really very mellow. Sometimes we just sit in silence, it’s peaceful, I’ve never really known that kind of peace before.

Thirteen hours doesn’t last long in their world. We have time for a game of chess, a chat about what I’ve been up to and then I wake up. It’s been going on for a few weeks, and it’s made me realise: waking life is such a drag. No offence, but all the rush and the needless drama, I’m sick of it. I want to be where my demon friends are (that’s what they say they are, but demons aren’t bad in the dream world) but it’s ok, because I’m getting there. Each night I’m staying longer, each day becomes more of a token visit. Soon I won’t have to wake up at all.

So that’s what’s been going on. Look after yourself Sam, you’re one of the good guys. If you don’t see me around anymore, then you’ll know where I am.

Joe

The Blue Sky Tag

I’ve been nominated for an award by delightful writer The Otherhood of One, it’s well worth checking out her blog if you’ve got some time…

I won’t do the nominating other people thing, because I know what busy bees you all are. Instead, here are the questions The Otherhood put to me, and they are gooduns, so if any of you feel like joining in, then I’d love to hear what you have to say.

  1. Name one life event that dramatically altered your life…
  2. Dreams: do you have them or chase them?
  3. What is your “favorite” feeling/emotion?
  4. Soon, we as a species may be colonizing in space.  Would you prefer to remain here on Earth, or go exploring with the pioneers?
  5. What other creative pursuits do you enjoy besides writing/blogging?
  6. Movies are expensive if you go to the theater.  What kind of movie are you most likely willing to pay for to see – drama, comedy, sci-fi/fantasy, docu-drama, etc?
  7. What animal “speaks” to you most these days?  (Can be wild or domesticated, real or imaginary.)
  8. Would you prefer to be happy, fulfilled or content in life?
  9. Are you any, or all, of the above?  Or none?
  10. If your “future” self could reveal one detail about what’s ahead for you, what would you want to know?
  11. What one thing would you like to tell those of us reading this post today

 

Name one life event that dramatically altered your life

Moving to Mexico in 2001. It was done in the most haphazard way possible. I went with someone I barely knew, we had almost no money, and no planned job or any contacts. I bought the cheapest tickets in Mexico that I could find (returns to Cancun) and then we spent the next month moving from place to place trying to find work. We finally settled in Mexico City, which is an intense, creative, polluted, brilliant, complex, hyperactive, scary explosion of a city. I think what I learnt from the whole experience was how it’s possible to do seemingly impossible things with a little cunning and a lot of blind stupidity. The person I went with that I barely knew ended up my best friend and we still live together, so that was also pretty important.

Dreams: do you have them or chase them?

Both. I’m definitely a dreamer, but I like the chase too. I have a sneaking suspicion that if I ever caught up with my dreams and they came true, I wouldn’t like it and I would then be stuck for something new to do, but the chances are that won’t happen, so I’m not worrying.

What is your “favourite” feeling/emotion?

Euphoria. I get it quite often, that feeling of Yes! This is it! This is the best idea ever! Unfortunately, while the feeling may be great, the actual ideas are often nonsense and the intensity of the feeling is no reflection on quality; there have been a few I’ve liked though.

Soon, we as a species may be colonizing in space. Would you prefer to remain here on Earth, or go exploring with the pioneers?

I’m fine here, I think. There are so, so many places on this planet that we’ve barely started on that I desperately want to see – the bottom of the sea, deep underground, further inside particles – I’d rather concentrate on them before I move off to outer space. I also have this feeling that going to outer space wouldn’t be as brilliant as it should be; I think it might be more like a cruise, where you spend ages trapped inside a big ship just waiting to get somewhere far away and when you do land you’re very restricted and can’t properly explore. If I could have a little buggy ship that I zip around the star systems in, that would be fun; but still, most other planets are likely to be less filled with bizarre life than our oceans.

What other creative pursuits do you enjoy besides writing/blogging?

 

I draw and paint, and my work partly involves putting plants together in a way that is hopefully beautiful.

Movies are expensive if you go to the theater. What kind of movie are you most likely willing to pay for to see – drama, comedy, sci-fi/fantasy, docu-drama, etc?

I don’t know what my perfect genre would be, but I thought Dr Strange was fun, if a bit nonsensical. (I loved the buildings collapsing in on themselves, but what happened to all the people inside? Wouldn’t they be crushed?) And I really enjoyed Trainspotting 2, although it was sad. I like films that give me a sense of bigness, like looking out at a horizon beneath a huge sky.

What animal “speaks” to you most these days? (Can be wild or domesticated, real or imaginary.)

Hmm, not sure. Birds chat to me quite a lot, but they’re quite repetitive. Me and various small many-legged pests often have a few words, although rarely friendly ones. It’s getting to that time of year when nature likes to invade; so birds start nesting in my plant pots, tiny frogs start appearing everywhere and we keep having to chase ducks outside.

Would you prefer to be happy, fulfilled or content in life?

And

Are you any, or all, of the above? Or none?

I’ve been thinking about this question all day, trying to work out exactly what the difference is and how I feel about them. These are my conclusions.

Happiness is more of a joyful excited feeling, while I think contentment is a peaceful acceptance in the mind. I guess fulfilled is achieving things you want to achieve (either personally or professionally) – but if there aren’t many things you actually want to achieve, then presumably you can feel permanently fulfilled.

I think contentment is a very nice idea, but my brain isn’t wired that way. The less my brain has to think about and the calmer life is, the more anxious and antsy I get. There have been very few delicious moments of total peace in my life, when I needed nothing, worried about nothing and felt blissfully peaceful; and those moments I had didn’t last for long. Given the option, I would have a contentment switch in my neck, so that I could experience a few pleasant hours once a week maybe – but then, would I ever want to switch it back?

I think I feel happy and fulfilled quite often, I love the sensation of my brain whirring away, so I tend to do creative things, learn whenever I can, have speculative rambles through my imagination or have ridiculous conversations about daft ideas. All those things make me happy. However, it’s a never-ending demand, so not exactly like filling something full, more like pouring stuff into a tube, while it pours out the bottom, so that the need is constant.

If your “future” self could reveal one detail about what’s ahead for you, what would you want to know?

I’d like to know if the book I wrote recently is going to get published, just so I know whether to keep making an effort.

What one thing would you like to tell those of us reading this post today?

Everything is going to be just fine, trust me; it may not feel like it at the moment, but it’ll all fall into place soon enough.

Flash Fiction: Sociopath

“Don’t blame me, it’s just who I am,” he says, and I want to punch his stupid chiselled face. He always makes statements like that with a little chuckle, as if the disaster he spreads throughout the world is a little joke we share between us. Seeing how furious I am, he tries to reason with me, cocks his head, wears a gentle smile that I know he copied off someone else.

“People like the drama,” he says, “it shakes their lives up.”

“Some of them don’t have lives to shake up now,” I hiss back, to me this is a truth that obliterates the power of his smug smile; for him, it isn’t.

“And that’s ok too, the world needs a cull, right? It’s overpopulated.” I can see he’s bored now, he can’t be bothered to placate me, he’ll be moving on and lives will be devastated somewhere else. He flashes me another diamond smile and strides away. I wonder if he’ll ever be stopped.