Wednesday, March 27, 2019

FICTION: EXCERPTS FROM THE 2005 NOTEBOOK OF AVARIS HABACHI, UNDERGROUND DOCTOR


EXCERPTS FROM THE 2005 NOTEBOOK OF AVARIS HABACHI, UNDERGROUND DOCTOR

17/4/05: Patient exhibits signs of rust.  After descaling and polishing, symptoms greatly alleviated. 

23/5/05: Patient has severe case of wandering anus.  Worst case I’ve seen before.  Anus currently located 16 centimetres below left shoulder.  Patient experiences anxiety, confusion, and great inconvenience, but no pain at this stage.

30/5/05: Patient producing earwax from the nose.  Symptoms treated with discretion.

4/6/05: Patient claims to be from the future, thanks me for excellent work I have not yet performed.  Unusual but harmless.  Brought me large bouquet of irises, my favourite.  Perfume exquisite.

6/6/05: Patient growing roots.  Mostly aesthetic, however patient finds herself drawn towards large bodies of water.  Trimming causes much distress.  Tap root considerable, unresponsive to treatment.  Long baths appear to soothe.

9/6/05: Patient largely atrophied.  Currently fits in matchbox.  Generally content, but very very small. Difficult to treat because of typical medication size.  Note: patient’s sibling brought in, unusually large.  Can’t help but suspect.

13/6/05: Patient with wandering anus returned.  Anus now located midway up throat, patient much distressed.   Recommended scarves, turtle-necks, and breath-freshening mints.  Still no pain.  Lotion seems to do little to alleviate symptoms, very perplexing.

17/6/05: Patient has independent eye.  Attracted irresistibly to motion, green hues, and silent film.  Muscular tests inconclusive.  Symptoms treated with jade eyepatch and the works of D. W. Griffith.

25/6/05: Patient exhibiting dental outgrowths below the knee.  Useless in everyday mastication, but benign.  Recommended regular flossing.

26/6/05: Patient with post-knee dentation reports somnambulant episodes of partner-biting.   Mouthguard may be required during sleep.

30/6/05: Patient prone to fits of rice-making.  Delicious but needs more salt.

9/7/05: Patient exhibits signs of high-gloss.  Recommended dermatologist and fine-grade sandpaper.

13/7/05: Patient exhibits functioning gills.  Unfortunately, patient also has severe hydrophobia.  Poor response to lotions and medication.  Recommended increasing sessions of exposure to fine mist.

18/7/05: Patient exhibits extreme hair-loss, but not own hair.  Have not seen case this bad in years.  Treatment of tonic rubbed on proxy successful thus far.

21/7/05: Patient brought in by guardian.  Patient exhibiting quadrupedia, mane, tail, hooves.  Suspect patient may indeed just be horse.  Referred guardian to psychologist, and, should symptoms persist, veterinarian.

1/8/05: Patient with wandering anus now in extreme discomfort.  Anus now located in centre of forehead.  Hats help only so much.  Still no pain, but social anxiety intense.  Referral to dietician and specialist in curse-breaking.

4/8/05: Patient complaining of lack of adherence to regular chronological flow.  Recommended fibre, bath salts, and string.  Prognosis promising.  Asks for check-up appointment two months prior.  Made strange comment about irises in vase on desk (which just seem to be getting fresher and fresher).

Sunday, November 4, 2018

FICTION: Bodies


Another naked man bounced off the bonnet, and the sickening way the car jumped made it clear he had fallen beneath the wheels.  A glance in the rear-view mirror confirmed it: a bloody mess of crumpled muscle and bad angles.

“Fuck fuck fuck!” Melitha swore through gritted teeth.  Ahead, naked bodies lay in various stages of decomposition, rudely shoved to the sides of the road by earlier collisions.  The smell here, like the smell everywhere, was insane.

Melitha floored it.  

“Melitha,” said Thophie, trying to keep it together as the car sped along a road slick with blood, “where are we going?”

“Away from the hadron collider,” Melitha said, narrowly missing a stiff and flyblown woman on the road. “Just away.”

Thophie was certain none of this was anything to do with the hadron collider – how could it be? – but she refused to get into that argument again.  And in the end, it really didn’t matter what the cause was.  What was happening was happening.

A fly buzzing on the dashboard caught Thophie’s attention.  It was on its back, spinning, wings a blur of sporadic panic.  It seemed so normal, she almost sighed.

Another naked human – maybe once a rabbit, maybe once a fox – leapt out in front of the speeding SUV.  Melitha swerved but hit, and the naked woman spun in a grisly pirouette and fell. 

She would probably live.

(Was that a good thing?)

Thophie checked her phone again, praying that she could just google some kind of answer to all this – but the phone was still blank and lifeless.  Whatever was turning the animals into humans had also fucked with the satellites.  “What if it’s like this everywhere?”

Melitha laughed, a noise that was nothing to do with joy.

“It’s not.  It can’t be.”

A thump on the roof as someone who had, moments ago, been some kind of bird plummeted onto the SUV from above.  

“Fuck!” Melitha instinctively ducked her head, but the roof was strong.  Thophie turned and watched the naked body bouncing and rolling on the road behind them, getting bloodier and bloodier, before coming to rest on the sticky wet bitumen.  

It had started with the mammals.  But now it was happening to birds too.  Bodies fell from the clouds, heavy, flapping, scared.

(Melitha said she’d seen it happening to fish too – apparently the bay was now filled with men, women, children, all drowning.  That had been Melitha’s last straw.)

Suddenly the dashboard was filled with naked flesh.  A full-grown man, thrashing and wild-eyed, was where the fly had been.  Melitha slammed on the brakes.

“Oh, now the insects? Great, just great.”

As they dragged the man out of the car and threw him weakly onto the road, a horrifying thought occurred to Thophie.

More than 90% of the cells in the human body are parasites.

“If it’s spreading,” she said, feeling instantly uncomfortable in her own skin, “how long until…”

“Come on,” said Melitha gruffly, “let’s get the fuck out of here.”



Tuesday, October 9, 2018

FICTION: Perfectly Normal (A Play For Children)


SCENE 1: HOME

SARAH is asleep in her bedroom. (The NARRATOR can be offstage, or sitting unobtrusively onstage.)


NARRATOR
When Sarah awoke, she didn't immediately suspect that her parents were robots.  No, when Sarah awoke, she still thought that the world was pretty much the same as it had been when she'd fallen asleep the night before. 

Sarah's alarm goes off.  Yawning and stretching, Sarah wakes up.  Bleary-eyed, she walks to the kitchen.

In the kitchen are her MUM and DAD.  They don't see her straight away. Dad is putting on his tie, Mum is holding up two cereal boxes. Their speech is kinda stilted.

DAD

I'm wearing a tie. Because a piece of cloth around my neck shows I really mean business.


MUM

I'm trying to decide between these two cereals based on the nutritional information printed on the boxes.



DAD

I sure hope they stop the boats today.  There's nothing worse than an unstopped boat.


MUM

Me too. I feel safer knowing that foreign people won't be interfering with the working families of this country.  I think this morning, I'll choose the cereal that contains raisins.



They finally notice Sarah.

MUM AND DAD
Good morning pumpkin! Did you sleep well?


Sarah looks at them a little askance/askew.


SARAH

...yeah, sure, I slept fine.  You guys okay?


MUM

I'm very well thank you.  I decided to have raisins in my cereal this morning, based on the nutritional information printed on these boxes.


DAD

I'm also very well thank you.  I'm wearing this tie, because it shows that I really mean business.


SARAH

...Uh, okay. 


NARRATOR

Although Sarah said the word "okay", she wasn't entirely convinced that everything was really "okay".  Her parents had always been strange, but this strange?


MUM

What would you like for breakfast, Sarah? You can decide for yourself, based on the nutritional information printed on these cereal boxes.


Sarah points at one, and Mum pours it into a bowl.


DAD

Well, I'd better be off for work.  I work five out of every seven days, because that's the expected number of days.  I call it "full time work".


He kisses Mum on the cheek, waves robotically to Sarah, and leaves.


SARAH

Is dad all right? Did he seem like he was acting weird to you?


MUM

Not at all.  He seemed statistically average in every way.  He's a normal person, that's for sure.


Sarah frowns. Mum stares at her strangely.  Then smiles cheerily.


MUM

Now.  Would you like the breast-milk of a cow on your cereal?  It's meant for cow babies to drink, but we don't let them - we take it for ourselves to drink instead! Don't worry, it's perfectly normal to do that.  Perfectly normal, that's for sure.


Sarah's mum is creeping her out. Sarah quickly looks at her phone, and grabs an apple from the fruit bowl.


SARAH

Um, nah, I think I'm going to be late. I might just grab an apple and go.


MUM

Don't want to be late for school! You go to school for five out of every seven days, because that's the expected number of days.


SARAH

Okay mum, ah, seeya later!


MUM

Good-bye pumpkin! I really hope they stop the boats today.


SCENE 2: ON THE WAY TO SCHOOL


Sarah rides her bike to school. She rides past the CHORUS, who move robotically as they deliver their words in unison.


CHORUS

Did you see the football on the weekend?
Yes, I saw the football on the weekend.It was great weather for washing the car.Yes, the weather was perfect for washing the car.
Perfect car-washing weather.


NARRATOR

As Sarah rode her bike to school, she began to sense a certain... somethingness about the people around her.  A certain somethingness that made her feel... somethingy.


CHORUS

Did you listen to that famous singer's new album? Yes, I love that famous singer, and that new album of hers is just the best. She's very famous for singing.But her new album is the best one of all.


Sarah crunches down on her apple as she rides.


CHORUS

I sure hope they stop the boats today.


SCENE 3: SCHOOL


The TEACHER stands at the front of the classroom. The students (Sarah and Chorus) sit at the other end, facing the teacher.


NARRATOR

Sarah had assumed that things would get better once she was at school. But things didn't get much better once she was at school. If anything, things actually got considerably worse.


TEACHER

I'm at the front of the class, because I'm the teacher.  You refer to me by my surname because it shows that, when it comes to teaching, I really mean business. Now, today, we're learning about how Captain Cook discovered Australia.


Sarah puts her hand up.


TEACHER

You put your hand up to indicate that we're not having a normal conversation between two equals. Yes, Sarah?  Note that I do not refer to you by your last name.


SARAH

I read something about how, because the place was actually totally chock-full of aboriginal people when Captain Cook got here, that it's kinda not really accurate to say he "discovered" Australia. I mean, it was already discovered, wasn't it.


TEACHER

I am the teacher, Sarah.  Are you at the front of the class, Sarah? Are you referred to by your surname? 


SARAH

...no.


TEACHER

When it comes to teaching, I really mean business. So I'm going to send you to the principal's office, as a sign of my power and thus our inequality.


SARAH

What?  For asking a question?


TEACHER

Yes.  You do not learn anything by asking too many questions. Do you, class?


CHORUS

No, we do not learn anything by asking too many questions.


TEACHER

Now, go.


SARAH

But-


TEACHER AND CHORUS

Go!

SCENE 4: PRINCIPAL'S OFFICE


The Principal is sitting at a desk.


NARRATOR
Sarah's somethinginess did not dissipate once she got to the Principal's Office.  If anything, it just got more somethingy.

PRINCIPAL
Now, Sarah, you've been sent here because you're creating a fuss in the classroom, is that right?

SARAH
I didn't create a fuss.  I just asked a question-

PRINCIPAL
Learning is not about asking questions, Sarah.  Learning is about remembering answers.

SARAH
I'm not sure that's true-

PRINCIPAL
See?  You're "not sure".  When you're a big grownup like me, you will be sure.  I learned all the right answers, and look at me now! I'm the principal!  Look, it says so on the door of my office.

SARAH
All I said was-

PRINCIPAL
Now, because of your interruptions and negative attitude, I've had to call your parents.  And they're definitely not robots, so you should be perfectly safe with them.

NARRATOR
Sometimes when you hear a certain phrase, it can have exactly the opposite effect to what the speaker is intending.  When Sarah heard the phrase "they're definitely not robots, so you should be perfectly safe", a shiver ran up and down Sarah's spine, and she felt the very opposite of safe. She thought back to her parents' strange behaviour this morning, and began to wonder if maybe that was what had been so terrifyingly somethingy about them: were they actually robots?

PRINCIPAL
And just so you're aware, I'm definitely not a robot either.  And neither is your teacher. We're all perfectly normal people.  Perfectly normal, that's for sure.

SARAH
Of course you are.  Perfectly normal.  Um... before my perfectly normal non-robotic parents arrive, can I just quickly go to the toilet?

PRINCIPAL
We have our toilets divided by gender, because dividing things by gender is very very important. You will be using the girl's toilet, because you are a girl.  But be quick - your parents will be here any minute now.

SARAH
Thanks! I'll be back in a second.

Sarah gets up and leaves.

SCENE 5: ON THE RUN

Sarah rides her bike the other way, the opposite direction she rode to get to school. She rides past the Chorus, who again all move like synchronised robots.

NARRATOR
But Sarah had no intention on either going to the toilet, or being back in a second.  Sarah was scared.  Sarah was now relatively convinced that her teachers and her parents were actually robots.  She had no absolute proof of this, of course, but it can sometimes be hard to collect absolute proof in the time allotted, and in Sarah's case, the time allotted was any minute now.  But where does a child go when she suspects she is being manipulated by robots? In this case, she went straight to her grandma's house.


SCENE 6: GRANDMA'S HOUSE

Grandma opens the door. Sarah rushes inside.


GRANDMA

Sarah! What's the matter?  Shouldn't you be at school?Sarah hugs her grandma tight, then pulls away.


SARAH

Oh grandma, things have gotten really really weird today. I think... I think...


GRANDMA

What is it?


SARAH

I think everyone's turned into robots.


Grandma looks surprised, confused, and concerned all at once.


GRANDMA

...robots?


SARAH

I know, I know, it doesn't make any sense.  First mum and dad were acting really weird, and then my teacher was acting really weird, and then the principal was acting really weird and... I don't know, and I don't have absolute proof, but I think everyone's turned into robots.


GRANDMA

Oh dear.


SARAH

You... you believe me?


GRANDMA

Oh yes.  I know you'd never lie to me, Sarah.  You're a good, honest girl, and if there's one thing I always say, it's trust people who are both good and honest.


SARAH

Oh Grandma!  What am I going to do?


GRANDMA

First of all - did any of the robots follow you here?


SARAH

I don't know.  I don't think so-


BANG BANG BANG on the front door.


MUM (O.S.)

Hello?  Grandma, is Sarah in there? I brought her some cereal covered in cow-milk to help her calm down.


SARAH

Oh no, it's robot mum!


GRANDMA

Don't worry, we'll just pretend we're not home.


BANG BANG BANG on the front door.


DAD (O.S.)

Hello?  I know you're home, it's no good pretending. Open the door, I need to talk to Sarah.  I really mean business.


SARAH

It's robot dad!  What should we do?


GRANDMA

Don't worry, they'll just go away if we're very very quiet.


BANG BANG BANG on the front door.


PRINCIPAL (O.S.)

I'm the principal, it says so on my office door.  We're not going away, you know, not even if you're very very quiet.  We want Sarah.  We're definitely not robots.


SARAH

Grandma!


BANG BANG BANG on the front door.


TEACHER (O.S.)

I'm the teacher, so what I say goes. Give us Sarah, and you won't get detention.


MUM AND DAD (O.S.)

We want Sarah.


CHORUS (O.S.)

We want Sarah!


The banging continues, making a steady relentless pounding rhythm. Grandma looks worried.  She beckons for Sarah to move away from the door.  Sarah runs over to Grandma and lurks in her embrace. Grandma wraps her arms around her protectively.


PRINCIPAL AND TEACHER (O.S.)

We want Sarah!


MUM AND DAD (O.S.)

We want Sarah!


CHORUS (O.S.)

We want Sarah!


The door bursts in, and in rushes Principal, Teacher, Mum, Dad, and the Chorus.  But Grandma holds up a hand, and they come no closer.


GRANDMA

Stop!  All of you!  There's no need for any of this!  Because, look!


She reaches her hand around to the back of Sarah's neck, and makes a "clicking a switch" motion.  Suddenly Sarah stops cowering and stands up straight and calm.


GRANDMA

She was on the wrong setting!


Everyone looks relieved, in a suitably robotic fashion.


MUM

She must've had her switch flicked by accident during the night!


DAD

Oh dear.  The wrong setting! Well, I'm glad that's sorted, I really have to get back to work.


SARAH

I'm sorry for all the fuss.


GRANDMA

Do you feel better now, dear?


SARAH

I do.  I feel perfectly normal.


EVERYONE ELSE

Perfectly normal.


NARRATOR

Perfectly normal.


MUM

I'll drive you back to school, pumpkin.


SCENE 7: ON THE WAY TO SCHOOL AGAIN

Sarah and Mum drive to school.  They drive past the CHORUS, who move robotically as they deliver their words in unison.


CHORUS AND MUM
Did you see the football on the weekend?


CHORUS AND SARAH
Yes, I saw the football on the weekend.


CHORUS AND MUM
It was great weather for washing the car.


CHORUS AND SARAH
Yes, the weather was perfect for washing the car.
Perfect car-washing weather.


CHORUS AND MUM
Did you listen to that famous singer's new album?


CHORUS AND SARAH
Yes, I love that famous singer, and that new album of hers is just the best.


CHORUS AND MUM
She's very famous for singing.


CHORUS AND SARAH
But her new album is the best one of all.


Sarah looks at her mum and smiles.


SARAH

I sure hope they stop the boats today.


MUM

Me too, Sarah.  Me too.


NARRATOR

And they all lived happily ever after.


THE END