Letters from America (Part 2)

I will not bore you with a transcript of what had to be the strangest council of war in the history of the British Empire.  Did Drake know that the world had turned upside down when he prepared to face the Spanish?  Did Wolfe know that he had an encounter with destiny when he scaled the heights of Quebec?  The great men of England were shaken by what they saw and heard.  Magic, real magic…had our King made a deal with the devil, or was there godliness in their bearing?

Colonel Cavendish, the stranger from London, explained that his older brother had worked with the magicians, developing their powers.  It has been his idea to use them in war, we were told; the magicians could give us an advantage that the rebels, or the damned French, would never be able to beat.  He spun us a pretty picture of magicians convoying messages through the air faster than any mounted rider, or watching from afar as the rebels prepared their stand against us.  I dare say that the Brothers Howe were convinced and in their conviction they dragged the rest of the council in their wake. Continue reading “Letters from America (Part 2)”

An Android Wakes Part 4 : The Locust Wife

Her chest rises and falls marking out time with the movement of air, muscle: the unbidden will to live. Before her the door is bricked in, the window boarded and sealed, the old lime wall drunk on carbon dioxide. Around her the stillness of the air, the silence of dust suspended, waiting to fall. Her wrists, bound, are chaffed. Her lips, red, are dry, cracked.
      She remembers sunshine, laughter, the free fall of play.
Continue reading “An Android Wakes Part 4 : The Locust Wife”

Postcards From The Future #6

This month’s postcard from the future comes from a 23rd century exotic flower seller…

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My working day is pretty ordinary I guess. Selling flowers to passers-by from my little booth at the west street entrance to the Nor’London Rocket Port. You’ve probably passed by me a few times and not even noticed me. I was pretty honoured and surprised when one of the terminal managers suggested I write a message to the people of the past. Time travel, eh? There’s a prospect to hurt your head. Nobody seems to actually have any time here apart from the maladjustniks I see occasionally come maundering in here, begging spare change and pilfering litter. Everyone else is usually in such a big hurry, trying to get to some meeting on time. They stop and buy flowers, for a wife or mistress, for their mum, whatever. Or maybe just to sit in the middle of the table at some big board meeting, or at a reception desk, or maybe just in the hallway of somebody’s house, wafting their aroma around, cheering folks up with thoughts and memories of spring and summer. Sometimes, when I’m bored or sad here in a quiet moment, I like to close my eyes and imagine all the different places my flowers might have found their way to the day before, and where they might go next. It helps me to connect with all those people who don’t seem to have time to stop and talk to me, although some do, occasionally.

Continue reading “Postcards From The Future #6”

An Android Wakes Part 3 : Paper Bullion

High above the barricade a flock of mockingbirds marked out a halo to the urban sprawl. Ripples of static on two-way radios mingled with the hum of traffic circling the cordoned off area. Then silence for a moment as everything was sucked in: like the sea retreating before a tsunami.
      A manhole cover with the impression of a tree vibrated as the wall of sound radiated out from the explosion. Pieces of metal, bricks and plaster followed and blasted through police cars. A man fell, his foot severed, part of it next to him, part of it rammed up into his thigh.
      Shouts, sirens, a billow of smoke and dust obscuring carnage.
Continue reading “An Android Wakes Part 3 : Paper Bullion”

Letters from America

New York, 1776

Dear William

It has been not too long since I last wrote you, but so much has happened in the last six weeks that I feel that I must put ink to paper to tell you of our war.  My last letter told you how we tried to unseat the American Rebels at Bunker Hill…and of how we lost, the blood of so many fine soldiers staining American soil as they died.  By now, you may have heard that General Howe chose to evacuate Boston before the Rebels attacked us, even though we would have made a good account of ourselves if the Colonials attacked our fortifications.  It is to our great shame that so many loyalists were left behind…

Ah, but it is said that Howe is soft on the Americans.  How can we blame him when we must come to some peace that does not bring the Empire down in flames?  How can we hold them down and keep holding them down – must we make of America a second Ireland?  Howe wishes to teach the Rebels that they cannot win and then be merciful – who am I to question his decision?  I am, but his lowly aide. Continue reading “Letters from America”

Postcards From The Future #5

This month’s postcard from the future comes from a 23rd century archaeologist…

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I was keen to get involved when I heard about this project and I hope they use my postcard as one of the ones they send back in time. My area of speciality is early 21st century dig sites. I’ve spent that the last ten years working on excavations at the Bradwell Nuclear Disaster Area, which includes most of what was known at the time as Greater London. Like the doomed towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum two thousand years earlier, the suddenness of the tragedy that befell this once proud city has afforded present-day archaeologists a rare opportunity to observe a frozen snapshot of everyday life.

Last year, we famously uncovered an entire “Routemaster” bus filled with passengers, most incinerated instantly at the moment of the explosion. Poignantly, there were mothers with babies and young children, even two young lovers hand in hand. Modern archaeological techniques have enabled us to reconstruct newspapers and advertising billboards from the underground tunnels in which people were sealed up after the initial blasts. My job is to try to gather together these jigsaw pieces and try to create narratives for our displays at the International Museum of Urban History.

Continue reading “Postcards From The Future #5”

Diary of a Neobody – July 2nd, 2112

Hello diary.

I won.

There’s no other way to put it.

Of course, it was nearly a week and a half ago now, so you’d think that I’d have been able to express in words exactly how it felt. And yet, here I sit, still trying to describe it accurately.

The council took their two days to deliberate and decide, and then I was summoned back to the court. The announcement was short – not even ten minutes long. The press conference afterwards was much longer, and I expect that was exactly how the council liked it. November’s hardly a backwoods town, but you can never have enough positive worldwide coverage. Especially not on ‘landmark rights cases’.

I was, it seemed, only there as a formality – the council members did most of the talking, while I stood in a shocked silence. I suppose I had half-expected to win, since there was little arrayed against me. The younger councilman, the one who seemed less keen on the idea was, apparently, out-voted by the others. Or, I suppose, they just persuaded him that positive coverage like this was worth far more than some rich ProNat backers.

Continue reading “Diary of a Neobody – July 2nd, 2112”

Diary of a Neobody – June 19th, 2112

Hello diary.

This last week has been strange.

I met some of my creators. And not just the people who devised the emotion chip – a couple of the engineers who designed my ‘brain’ made appearances as well.

Continue reading “Diary of a Neobody – June 19th, 2112”

Diary of a Neobody – June 11th, 2112

Hello diary.

I meant to do my entries last week as usual, but was dragged into a sudden whirlwind of activity around my case: I expected the hearing would be months down the line, but apparently, when your suit might catch the public opinion, people are more than happy to fast-track it for you.

I suppose the City Council felt that, with the violence a few weeks ago against androids, my case might do their PR some good.

Continue reading “Diary of a Neobody – June 11th, 2112”

Postcards From The Future #4

This month’s postcard from the future seems to come from somebody a little less (or more?) than human…

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They suggested I take part in the Postcard To The Past project, only they should have left me more time because I still find it hard to hold a pen stylus. I’m quicker with the keyboard keys, but they want all the postcards hand-written, for the personal touch. I’m surprised they think I’m eligible to take part, but I suppose it’s a good gag and will give you 21st century folks a bit of a shock, if you believe it at all.

I have a busy day today as usual. Cooking the breakfast, dropping the kids off at school, flying over to Martworld to pick up the shopping for the week. Some people still give me hostile looks in the check-out queues. Some drivers toot at me, expect me to give way to them cos’ I’m some kind of second-class citizen. They know and I know that there’s legislation in place now, equal rights. But they don’t know it in their hearts, do they? Deep down, and in some cases pretty damned near the surface, they still think I should bow my head in their presence, not make eye contact. Continue reading “Postcards From The Future #4”