Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Kicked Out and Stamped On

We went to the beach Friday morning, the sun was shining and Marcus had certainly warmed up. The last few days his mood had radically improved, possibly due to the fact he managed to see the Arsenal, Real Madrid match after all. Tamara had gone with him to a pub in Tel Aviv with a wide screen TV, and a hysterical crowd of fanatical Arsenal supporters.

She really hated the whole idea, and failed to understand why most of the guys in the bar had such small vocabularies.

‘How come they only know one adjective?’ she tried to ask Marcus as Thierry Henri, was threading his way through a cluster of Spanish players.

He missed the final shot.

‘That was ffing close! shit he is good tonight’ was Marcus’s response, he had clearly not heard a word she had said.

The noise level was incredibly high, the floor was awash with spilt beer, and the sweating, painted bodies of the massed fans just too much. Tamara decided to make an exit and find something else to do. The pub was situated on the seafront, and the pleasant evening made the idea of a walk rather attractive. She eased her way through the sweating mass of screaming fans, and began to stroll down the tree lined promenade.

Marcus did not notice her absence, till at half time, without taking his attention from the screen, as the commentators began assessing the match. He put his arm round the nearest person, thinking it was Tamara, and asked how she was enjoying the exciting match.

‘Lovely thanks’ said a balding middle aged man, ‘and I didn’t know you cared?’

‘Oops, sorry thought you were my wife’ stuttered Marcus, highly embarrassed and a bright pink colour.

He looked around and seeing she was absent, ran out of the pub, there were a few people sitting at round tables outside.

‘Have any of you seen a woman leaving, blue jeans, white top, long curly gingery hair?’

A young couple pointed down the promenade, ‘ Yes about ten minutes ago, that way’ they said.

Marcus ran along the beachfront looking for her, she always walked rather slowly. About 500 metres on he saw someone sitting on a plastic beach lounger, with her arms circling her curled up knees, a typical Tamara posture.

Her head was resting on her arms, and she was sitting about ten feet from the gently lapping waves.

It is hard to understand how the human mind works, and in any event Marcus’s mind should not be judged under the usual parameters.

He suspected her eyes were closed, and walked past her chair, then after removing his shoes entered the sea. He walked out till the water was up to his knees, took out their car keys, lit the tiny torch attached to the ring, shone it behind his head and began walking through the water till he stood opposite her.

Then in a loud voice, as deep as he could, called to her,

‘Tamara,’ he paused, ‘Tamara, Tamara I am here, here walking on the water, can you hear me?’

She looked up totally startled, saw the backlit head of someone she could not recognise, jumped up and ran, sorry, sprinted back across the sand, onto the pavement, and with incredible, incredible speed back towards the pub.

‘Shit, that was not supposed to happen’ Marcus said aloud. He too ran out the sea, gathered up his shoes, sprinted across the sand and back to the pub.

He entered from a side entrance, and saw Tamara anxiously looking around for him. Pretending to do up his flies, he called to her,

‘Here I am dear, where have you been? I’ve been to the loo’

Tamara looked him up and down, noticed his soaking trousers,

‘You seemed to have missed badly’ she looked him in the eyes, ‘I’ve just had a vision’

‘Really dear how interesting’ he glanced away from her up at the screen, the match was about to restart.

She raised her foot and stamped heavily on his right foot.

‘Ow! shit, what was that for?’

‘Oh just checking if you were mortal’ she said.

Monday, March 13, 2006

A Ghost Story about YOU.( just to warm you up.)

Do you sit late at night, very late, even into the early hours of the morning, working on your computer. When the house is silent and the only source of light is your keyboard. The heating has switched itself off, and the metallic clanks of the radiators cooling have faded away.
You are alone, sitting there, discussing with virtual friends, or just quietly browsing, repeating your favourite paths of interest, maybe searching for that illusive download.

Your screen flickers, and the darkness seems rather more intense. Every one is sleeping, the rain still beats monotonously against the window. A low wind is rustling the leaves outside, creating shadows that throw dappled patterns on the walls of your room.

The door is shut, the speakers hushed, your imagination and senses are fuelled by the phenomena of your situation and the images flashing across the screen.

You were here last night, and that had not seemed so tense, what is different about tonight, what is keeping you so alert. Normally your head would be nodding gently towards your chest, your eyes beginning to close as sleep inevitably replaced your interest in the technological excitement of the computer.

There was the faintest hint of a soft breath on the back of your neck, not enough to disturb you, hardly anything at all, just the wind that crept up the stairs and filtered under the ill fitting door. The house had been standing since 1705, and was uncomfortably draughty. Most of the windows had been replaced over the years, except the one in this room. This one had never been replaced, the frame was twisted, the lintel misshaped, gradual subsidence has distorted the wall around the opening until it would have needed a major rebuild to allow the frame to be repaced.

There is that breath again, stronger this time, disturbing the hairs on the back of your neck. Leaving you shaking, adrenaline pumping around your nerves. You try to lift your hand from the mouse, you can’t, your hand is cramped into position. Your other hand is playing over the keys, you have no control. The breath again, much stronger, the slightest hint of a gentle panting behind you, the rustling of draughty breezes through the ill-fitting window. The ragged curtain lifting and falling, the screen goes dark, the room is pitched into blackness. You hear the door being pushed open, can you turn to see, do you even dare.

The cursor is beating in the centre of the screen, a solitary point in the heaviness that pervades the room. You manage to lift your hand from the pad, still clutching the mouse, you try to rise, your legs are weighed down. Your body no longer under your control, locked in a bent position over the computer.

There is a sucking noise, at first gently, then increasing, the screen is changing, it becomes a void, the blackness develops a depth, you feel the power of its animosity. You are being pulled downwards, closer to the flashing cursor, your body is no longer yours, it is rising from the rattling chair, you seem to be floating, just above the keyboard, your legs swinging in an arc behind you. There is a sudden crash, the door to the room bursts open, the sucking noise increases, it has become the voice of your past and certainly the tragedy of your future. The screen has become reddish, pulsating beneath you, a frightening hole that is pulling down. You are being sucked into a mighty vacuum, your body has lengthened, and stretched, you have no control, there is a final mighty rush of air, and your head is in the screen, a loud clattering, and a last scream as you become part of the computer.

You are still aware, but unable to feel, to touch, your body no longer exists, you are just another memory, another gigabyte, senseless without someone to control you.

A virtual prisoner, or perhaps you always were?