It takes a while to learn, this breathing trick.
Sucking in the air through molasses. 
Thick and gloopy, and not at all satisfying.  

We take it in turns, going outside, adapting, training our bodies. Training our lungs to this new atmosphere. 
This brave new world.

 It’s a relief, sometimes, to go walking in the soup.
Breaking up the monotony of just sitting there, 
staring at the coms screen, willing it to life. 

The tension inside the capsule is building under the combined weight of our fears. So I relish the walk outside, under the more quantifiable weight of this world’s gravity.

Alone, but breathing.

Legends - an exercise in over-writing

The night was dark.  

Golden spools of light puddled at windows and under lampposts.

I crept on deftly padded feet, through shadows stretching hungrily from stern and ominous walls and out  to mirrored moonlight.

The Lake.

Softly, softly, the lake sent waves to lap against the shore, seeking, always seeking.

But she would not find me tonight. I stood the length of a cat out of reach and laughed a silent laugh that she could not see.

The Lady.

I took my burden out, unwrapped the coarse and sullen linens and held it up. The gleaming glinting blade caught the moon’s silver before it hit the lake. 

A sound, the deepest sigh.

The Sword.

Worlds end on sounds like that, wiped out in slow and terrible eons. But not now. Now Excalibur sleeps in rough linen, soothed by liquid silver and denied the touch of the Lady, her Lake or the knights that sleep within.

The King.

I scoff at legends that call for Arthur’s return. They knew him not. A small and callow man with delusions of divinity.

The ritual complete, I stow my terrible burden and fall back again into ebony night. 


The End

The lights went out slowly, in the end. I don’t know why we were expecting a big bang or a war or something like that. 

First it was a village in Wales, or Sligo or Kansas that would just disappear off the grid. Gone. Places you wouldn’t notice. The electricity companies had been running on empty for years anyway. They noticed when one or two places ceased to take what little power was there but figured that it meant there was more for the cities so best not to draw attention. 

Slowly, little by little villages died. No one in the cities knew. Why would they? They hadn’t left their iron towers in years, decades. Trips to the countryside cancelled as the oil ran out and petrol became scarcer. 

It had been well managed. People had been prepped for it to happen – the oil running out. The governments had gained further control over the populace in minor ways. Ways so tiny that no one really noticed or complained. In fact most people championed the moves, made to keep us safe, safe from all that threatened us in our shiny commercialism. 

So when the people in power realised that the oil would be gone they took steps, said that electricity would be rationed – for our own good. The armies, which had been ramped up with conscription and drafts, appeared on street corners, to keep us safe. To make sure that no rioters or looters would interrupt our “peaceful” lives. 

And we worked on, like ants, not really caring much about a bigger picture, about what the rest of the world was doing, blindly watching the news or trusting the internet to keep us informed. 

But then again the governments knew that too. 

The internet was peppered with stories to distract from real news and real news was discredited as the ravings of conspiracy theorists. When the lights went out in the cities it was too late. We hadn't realised how badly we needed the light. How close we were to the barbarians we had bombed. How our “civilisation” was a mere sheen of gloss over a rotting table.. 

Three days of fear, and sitting, and not panicking because we knew the army would come to save us.
Except the army didn’t come and save us. 

The army saved the people who paid them. The rest of us, we were worthless. All our work had gone to making sure the elite were protected, that the elite had food and compounds squirreled away, hidden from us mere tools. 

In a word, we were fucked.

Moving On

I moved the stone today.  It had been staring at me.

The way stones do.

Accusing me of abandonment.

It’s not my fault a stone is hard to love.

I tried to reason with it first. I pointed out that I’d kept it safe these last 15 years. That’s quite a lifetime for a pet rock. Most of my friends lost theirs within the first few months.

It didn’t seem to matter. My stone just kept on staring.

I shouted it at it then. What did it expect. It’s not like it ever showed me affection. It just sat there all the time, expecting care and comfort but offering nothing in return. It didn’t even have a usb cable (being a younger model of pet rock. One I’d picked up in a field).

Still the stone stared.

It wasn’t fair, I moaned, I had to move on. I had to make space. There wasn’t room, I said, In my new life. There was too much history to carry with me.

The Stone was implacable.

I pointed out that it wasn’t the only thing being left behind. Teddies carried from childhood were being abandoned too (these teddies having long since learned their future was inevitable).

The Stone said nothing and merely looked at me.

I couldn’t take it. Didn’t it understand. There was no place for a piece of Tipperary stone with two marker spots for eyes in a grown up life.

One did not walk up the aisle with limestone in one’s bra.

The stone did not care about my tears. The stone just sat there, waiting.

It knew, the way that stones know, that I wouldn’t last against it’s stoicism.

Eventually I sighed and said, oh rock, you have too many memories. 

The stone may have blinked.

Or there may have been tears.

So I moved the stone today.

But not into the goodbye box.