Eight Experiments in Acceptable Excesses…
Chill wind and collar up, cigarette smouldering unsatisfyingly between chapped lips, he squirms in uncomfortable patio furniture, hands clasped around his drink to leach warmth, another moment passes. Another drag of smoke, another flick of ash, another sip of black coffee, another moment passes in torturous crawl. People pass, mainly in ingress, in flight from the bleakness of a sky which blends into brutalist architecture. And another moment passes.
I don’t remember what I was dreaming, just that the scream which woke me blew the dream apart. The walls blew out into white and the figures were thrown out after them, vanishing into the light of a violent decompression. I was at the window before I properly woke-up, looking for the source of the noise, but I couldn’t see anything unusual. I thought about calling the police, but didn’t.
- You see Professor, that whiskey you’re drinking? I poisoned it!
The Professor sniffed his drink, licked his lips to try the taste again.
- What poison did you use?
- The nectar of the rare spider-orchid, Ophrys Arachnites Sphegodes…
- Ah, that explains the hint of molasses, the Professor finished the whiskey in his glass and smiled. – I think you’ll find that that particular poison denatures in alcohol.
The Minister for Apologies took his place on the podium to the mild, slightly-confused applause which tended to greet his every speech and statement. It petered out quickly as the crowd, largely comprised of whoever happened to be passing, waited to see what terrible confession, whose foolish act the Minister was about to offer the government’s sincere contrition for. The autocue flashed a single word, tiny and surrounded by empty space: sorry.
- The patient has a unique condition I call idiopathic auto-etiology, the doctor excitedly informed his students, just as sufferers of a fugue state create a situational identity based on their environment so Ms. Smith does likewise. However, where in a typical fugue the created identity persists until such time as the original personality is reasserted, Ms. Smith’s fugue personalities are less stable; with the slightest change in stimulus she changes, she recreates herself from moment to moment.
I was alone in the park, I was sure of it, but I had been spoken to, so I span in place looking for my unseen companion. A stray cat sat shivering at the foot of the tree, eyes fixed balefully on mine.
“What are you looking at the cat for? Cats are fucking idiots mate.”
This time the voice was nearly above me, and I looked up to see a spider hanging down in my path.
“That’s right, a spider that talks, big shock etc. Listen mate, I need a favour…”
It’s been kind of a tough year for me, a couple of months ago my ex-girlfriend, of five years actually, she killed herself, and it was kind of sudden. It seemed kind of sudden. But the worst thing was that she sent me her suicide note, she e-mailed it to me. I didn’t hesitate to act, of course, but by the time I’d corrected her spelling and grammar… It was too late.