Category Archives: Fiction

Aesthesia: Chapter 8 (2)

11:33 Thursday 6th October 2005, Maya

Matt was looking pretty smug as he showed me round our big store. The place actually looked like a bookies, with TV screens, booking slips, a counter, the works. It was undeniably an impressive piece of work. Much more my style than Art Deco.

‘We get the TV feed in here showing the live race. Obviously we can’t fix the races, they’re legit. Riley’s set up here, holds up the pictures until the end of the race,’ Matt said pointing to a small black box, ‘when we’ve got a winner, we’ll give it to you. You’ve got three minutes to put a bet on before we start feeding it through the front. As far as anyone is concerned, they’re watching the race live.’

‘Three minutes isn’t very long,’ I thought out loud.

‘You slow up the pictures any more, our man might smell a rat. Sorry Maya, it’ll have to do,’ Matt said, continuing to admire his own work. ‘The main area is fully functioning. Riley’s tapped into a street light for electricity, re-routed mains and water for the toilets.’

‘Perfect,’ I said. ‘I have twenty grifters coming in as punters. So, I guess we’re ready to go, the client will be here in a few hours.’

This con was going to be mathematically challenging with our current funds. We had just over £90,000 capital which meant our client wouldn’t be able to take a high stakes bet, as it would wipe us out. We were ready to feed him the convincer – the trick that actually works, before we pull the con. It was simple enough, Riley had already told him he had a non-fail tip system predicting the winners. However, most bookies don’t let you place high bets in the region of tens of thousands minutes before the race without raising suspicion. That was where our big store came in. Riley had told Albert he knew of a private bookies that the syndicates used and that he was a member of. He had given him the usual sell to convince him to place a bet with our big store, saying it was for strictly high rollers, cash only and they would take bets up to half a million without batting an eyelid. The problem was, we only had a three minute window to place the bet. I would call Riley with the winners name as soon as the race finished. Riley would tell the client that I was escorting his boss, and had somehow managed to get the next winners name from him. Riley was going to put down £15,500, which the client would likely follow.  At a 2-to-1 winner on a £31,000 bet we would pay out a total of £93,000 (including the original stake) to prove the system works and convince the client to bet more money next time. I know what you’re thinking, if the client walks off with his half of the ‘winnings’ we’ve made a loss. But here’s the thing, clients never walk off. They’re greedy and always want more. That’s why the long con works.

As soon as the client had collected the winnings I joined Riley (or John) and Albert at the big store.

‘There she is,’ Riley said as I walked in, ‘£93,000 doll. Isn’t that right Albert!’

‘You wouldn’t believe what I had to do, to get that horse’s name,’ I said.

‘Well, maybe you could show me some time,’ Albert winked. ‘Why don’t we place one or two more bets.’

‘No, we agreed one race a day. We don’t want to raise suspicion,’ Riley said looking at me. We were flush and could not afford for Albert to win any more.

‘That was ridiculously easy,’ Albert said, loping like a greedy child who had just consumed the cookie jar.

‘Listen, the thing is if we want to make real money we need to put on one big bet while Kate’s still on the inside,’ Riley said, laying the groundwork for a big bet, where we would take the client for a few hundred thousand.

‘There’s no rush, surely?’ Albert rhetorically asked.

‘What if he calls the agency and asks for another girl?’ I said, trying to guide the client.

‘He’d be completely off his rocker to let you go,’ Albert answered, putting his chubby arm around my waist, with his hand creeping up a little too high.

‘Kate’s right,’ Riley added. ‘It’s not worth the risk. Besides, when we’ve made a pound or two, you lovebirds can take an extended break together? Just as promised, Albert.’

’So we can,’ Albert answered, tightening his grip. This was one of the downsides to playing the con, on occasion you would have to allow unattractive, balding fifty-something year old men to drool all over you.

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Aesthesia: Chapter 8 (1)

19:03 Wednesday 5th October 2005, Maya

glq kuy kro nw iksi kolo fro nw

Translation: do right and fear no-one

Old Punjabi saying

I could’t fault Matt’s commitment to the job, he had left before six this morning to rally the team and get the big store up and running. I parked up outside. The building was already looking much improved compared to the estate agent brochures. As I closed the door on the car I had ‘borrowed’ for the day, I noticed several workers who were carrying planks of wood into the store.

‘Oi! Watch it! That’s a loan and needs to stay in good nick,’ Matt was shouting, as one of his workforce almost knocked over a TV screen.

‘How’s it going?’ I asked.

‘The decoration is pretty much done. Hardware might take a little longer,’ Matt answered, ‘so we’re going for a few furlong races?’

‘It’s a nice setup. Race should be over in a minute to a minute and a half.’

‘I know I’ve been out of the game for a while, but I remember how long a furlong race lasts,’ Matt sarcastically said.

‘I know, just teasing’, I smiled. ‘So you got enough supplies to finish this place?’

‘You’ll know when I haven’t. Shouldn’t you be getting ready for the curtain roll?’ Matt asked barely waiting for an answer. ‘Would you guys watch it!’ he yelled, walking toward the same young man, who had just knocked another screen. I took the cue to leave.

I picked up Riley and Walter and we made our way to the first performance for our client. This was the clincher, we had him hooked but needed to reel him in for the magic to work.

‘You sure this is the place Walter?’ I asked as we drove up to a five star hotel.

‘Quite sure, sugar. The valet may not want to park this fine specimen you’re driving without a key.’

‘Who said I don’t have a key?’ I asked.

‘Really, since when do you use keys? Where exactly did you ‘borrow’ this car from?’ Riley asked.

‘Right here,’ I answered pulling into the hotel as the valet looked on. ‘Some rich kid this morning mistook me for a parking attendant and threw her keys at me. It seemed rude not to accept,’ I quipped exiting the car. ‘Thanks doll and remember to take it easy on the clutch,’ I told the parking attendant as I handed him the keys.

The social mixer Walter had been invited to was in a stunning suite supporting a clear vaulted roof and a decadent Art Deco.

‘Derek, so glad you could make it,’ said a white haired aristocrat type, who I assumed Walter had met at his Gentleman’s club.

‘Lovely to see you again Peter. This is my nephew John and his young friend, Kate,’ Walter gushed. Walter was like very few con artists, in that he was actually an artist. Watching him run an con was like watching Da Vinci painting the Mona Lisa.

‘Come in, I’ll fix you some drinks. Albert’s in the lounge,’ directed Peter, handing us each a glass of champagne. Not to look to keen to meet our client, we waited for him to approach us.

‘Ahh, I thought that was you old boy. Welcome Derek,’ Albert said coming over and patting Walter on the back.

‘John, nice to see you again,’ Albert said, moving his eyes from Riley toward me, ‘and who is this vision?’

‘Good to see you too sir. This is Kate,’ Riley answered putting his arm around my waist.

‘I’m delighted to make your acquaintance,’ Albert drooled, leaning forward to kiss my hand. ‘Would you mind if I stole this bright young man, my dear?’

‘Be my guest,’ I answered.

Albert led Riley through the crowded room onto the mezzanine. They were chatting for a good twenty minutes and by the looks of things Albert was trying to get information from Riley.

‘That’s what I like to see. A client who does all the hard work himself,’  I said to Walter, pouring another glass of champagne.

Walter smiled.

For magic to work, the spell you cast has to be perfect. Our spell had worked and the veil of illusion cast. Riley had fed Albert a story claiming he worked for a syndicate company that had teamed up with five other syndicates during the last year. As a result, the company now owned all the runners in a single race, which meant they were able to determine which horses would win certain races, before the race started. With a good spell you have to appeal to your audience, tap into their desires. Riley had claimed he was too junior to get the information, although he was seeing a high class escort, Kate (me), who was escorting his boss and overheard key information regarding the winner for the next race. From there is was simple math, if you put £1000 on a 12-to-1 you get back £12,000 (which Riley claimed he had from the race that Golden Nugget had won). But if you put down £10,000, you get £120,000. Our client was under our spell and ready to front up some cash.

.

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Excerpt from my recently completed title ‘Remedy’

‘Forgive me for I have sinned. It’s been more than a week since my last script. I find myself revisiting old ways and defying new means that I know I should adopt. ‘But why’ I hear the angels ask. Because the honey is sweet enough to detract from the pain of the sting.

On the seventh day, when work had been completed I sat in the garden and watched her pick fruit. She was delicate, serene, perfect and I knew she was mine. For when I had slept she had been formed for me. She was bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh and she had now been returned to me. I stared transfixed unable to shift my gaze, as if counting the hairs on her head. She seemed perfectly ignorant of my attention, probably as this was a normal occurrence to her. Beauty such as hers spoke volumes and was true genius. Better even, as it needed no explanation. My inner demon rose and hungered for her.

For everything there is a season, a time for every activity on this untamed raucous planet. This was not my choice but what had been pre-ordained, I was simply the messenger. Messengers from age old times would either receive an undeserved amount of gratitude or an equally uncalled for amount of blame. This was the condition of being the messenger.

Time stood still while she plucked strawberries as red as blood from the branches. Eventually her basket had filled with lustrous fruit, and she made her way out of the garden but not before giving me a glance with those devilish dark eyes. I stood and with little cerebral control discretely followed her out of the garden, followed her to the supermarket and was finally led by the mesmerizing sway of her short yellow dress to her apartment. She had remained ignorant of my presence, which somehow excited me. As the front door closed behind her I noticed the sun had long since set, although it had not impacted my world that had been lit by a bright light from a spectacular creature. A creature who I would visit again. Visit again, very soon.

Judas, April 10th’

 

                  ‘Hey sweety, what are you reading so intently?’ asked Remy, startling him as he became aware of her presence.

                  ‘When did you get back?’ Tom asked turning his attention to the stunning auburn haired lawyer, ‘you know this is my favourite skirt,’ he said sliding his hand down from the small of her back to rest on her pert bum that was elegantly filled her fitted pencil skirt.

                  ‘Maybe, but you’re going to have to wait,’ she teased, momentarily remaining in his embrace.

Remedy Austin at birth, or Remy Austin today, was well known for her lust for success. A typical work hard, but play harder girl she had not lost a case to date, and had no intention of changing the habit of her working career. This case had challenged her. The mounting evidence against her client left little to the imagination, completely confirming his guilt and Remy was struggling to fashion him a get out of jail free card. The client in question, Paul Thorpe, was standing trial for slaughtering a father of two, who worked at the local care home where Paul had resided for most of his teenage life. The murdering son-of-a-bitch deserved to rot in hell and surprisingly this was a fact that Remy agreed with. Having strongly believed hell wasn’t hers to create, the remnants of the idealistic girl within her hoped freedom would bring him some sort of hell. The thought was quickly quashed by her inner cynic that had seen Paul display subtle psychopathic tendencies through various interviews over the preceding days. Growing up watching her mother beaten to the ground by her biological father, her intention had always been to defend the innocent and put the people she now called clients behind bars. An honourable task indeed, it wouldn’t have brought her fame or fortune, and perhaps she was no guiltier than any of us for changing our morals when the tide turns to our favour.

                  ‘Interesting blog. Why call himself Judas?’ Remy asked turning her attention Tom’s laptop and the blog that had held his attention captive for several minutes.

                  ‘I would have thought the inner workings of psychotics would be more your field of expertise,’ Tom answered uneasily.

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Aesthesia: Chapter 7

23:17 1st October

Maya had managed to pull an address from Matt, although he had not been forthcoming with information. The address was the Professors last known location, which was from years ago. As Maya pulled up outside she examined the house that stood behind metal bars. The place was locked down. State of the art alarm system and heavy metal, electric gates that stretched half a mile out from the grounds of the house. Maya assumed the Professor must have had some trouble. It took her about half an hour of walking round the impenetrable fortress to find a weakness she could exploit. Once on the grounds, there didn’t seem to be many ways into his house. The front door wasn’t usually a route Maya liked to use, but under the circumstances it seemed appropriate. She needed the Professor’s help.  She knocked on the door and had barely waited a minute before it creaked open. 

‘He’s been expecting you, dear,’ answered the old man who opened the door, ‘let me take your coat’ he gestured. 

’No,’ Maya sharply replied, ‘I’m just more comfortable keeping it on.’

‘Very well. Please take a seat in the boardroom. I will let the Professor know you’re here. Would you like a drink while you’re waiting?’

‘No, I’m fine thank you,’ Maya briskly replied. It had become a survival instinct to be generally distrustful of humanity. The boardroom looked like it belonged in a 1960s Hollywood film, with wood panels and green opaque glass wall lights. Maya walked round the table that dominated the room, to look at pictures decorating the walls. There were at least fifty pictures that Maya casually perused passed, until one caught her attention. She barely heard the Professor enter.  

‘That’s a nice picture,’ said the Professor, as Maya puzzled over what a family picture, of her family, was doing on his walls. ‘Your daughter is beautiful, I hope we can get you back to her soon.’

‘How do you have this?’ Maya accusatorially asked turning to look at the man who called himself the Professor. He looked nothing like she had imagined. He was a young, no older than thirty-five, blue-eyed, with medium brown hair to his shoulders and looked like he had just come from the gym. 

‘Were you expecting an old codger with a walking stick?’ he asked seeing Maya’s surprise, ‘I would have thought you of all people would know appearances can be deceiving. Ethan sent me that picture, almost a year ago now. How is he?’

Maya fell silent for several moments. ‘I thought he had been killed, I saw him die. But…..it’s difficult to explain’

‘When did this happen?’ asked the Professor, which an unexpected tone of urgency. 

‘Last night.’

‘Well, you were right to come and find me. Ethan is very much alive, from my calculations. Although he may not be for much longer,’ the Professor replied, walking out of the boardroom.

Maya followed him into the hallway, where the Professor and his butler began quietly conversing. The Professor continued to walk through the large hallway to the kitchen, while the butler had taken the stairs to the basement. Maya quietly followed, unsure of how this man was certain Ethan was alive. 

‘Please come in, John has prepared us a snack,’ the Professor said walking into the kitchen which had a strong smell of fried egg. ‘Egg sandwiches – something we have in common. Ethan once mentioned they were your favourite too.’

‘Professor, this isn’t a social visit. I’d really…..’ Maya began. 

‘Please, call me Ben. The Professor is so formal, it’s sounds like you’re talking about my dad,’ he said while plating up a sandwich for Maya. 

‘No thanks,’ she replied, still uncertain of whether to trust him. 

Ben plated himself a sandwich, and carried both plates to the small kitchen table. Maya sat at the table quietly, while Ben ate his sandwich while hers remained uneaten.

‘You’re sure you don’t want it?’ Ben asked again. 

‘Certain,’ Maya answered. 

‘Very well.’ Ben leaned forward to the sandwich that had sat surplus in front of her and ate it too. ‘This place had to be locked down after I helped you and Ethan. I was being attacked daily. It sounds like I need an upgrade, as you managed to get on the grounds unaided,’ Ben commented between mouthfuls. 

‘How do you know Ethan? How do you have our picture? How can you be certain he’s alive?’ Maya blurted out, momentarily losing her controlled composure. 

Ben explained, that after the instability Ethan had consulted with him and sought treatment. The fracture that had occurred in time had not healed, which meant another event was likely. He gave an analogy of tectonic plates and an earthquake, although Maya struggled to follow how this fit in amongst all the physics lingo and talk of electromagnetic radiation.

‘Bottom line? Can it be fixed?’ Maya impatiently asked.

Ben smiled and momentarily left the dining table to return with a compass pointing true magnetic north. He handed it to Maya. The compass deflected to a different direction, more than that which could be explained by a minor magnetic anomaly. After a several minutes it returned to true north. 

‘Interesting,’ Ben answered raising his eyes from the compass Maya held to meet her eyes, ‘With Ethan it would remain deflected. Have you learnt to control it?’

‘Control what?’ Maya asked frustrated, as the compass once again deflected.

‘He didn’t tell you. Your connection to each other, the fact that Ethan was able to heal himself and much more untapped potential stems from the fact that both of you harbour unique anomalies suggestive of magnetic phenomena. Ethan and I had been communicating for some time looking at a way to control and harness this energy. You somehow are innately controlling it, although it seems to be linked to your emotions,’ Ben finished, pointing toward the compass. 

‘This is lunacy. If I’m some sort of magnetic anomaly, why does metal not come flying my way? Does this mean I can control the oceans? Knock the Earth out of orbit?’ Maya sarcastically ridiculed the hypothesis that had been presented. 

‘Most of the time, it’s a minor anomaly. Indeed, enough for you and Ethan to be drawn to each other through several centuries and manipulate certain physical properties without attracting metal or an ocean. When there’s a surge, well, anything can happen. I think history will prove that.’

Maya thought back to the day it had started. It had been like a war zone, there was so much blood covering the streets. In her heart she had never truly believed the instability had been entirely of her doing, it had seemed inevitable like a collision of events that could not be controlled. Her mind wondered further back, to the first time she had met Walter. He had stopped her from taking her life. Perhaps suicide would have been better; would you save one life or hundreds? 

‘It wasn’t your fault,’ Ben empathetically said, leaning forward to touch her hand. ‘We had been working on way to change what happened. To do that we needed to cause another surge in electromagnetism, which is probably what led   to the Freelancers finding you.’

Ben stood and led the way out the kitchen. Maya followed him down the spiral staircase to the basement. Upon entering Maya stood transfixed by the huge contraption in front of her, unsure of which way to move. In front of her was a mammoth pendulum, resembling a Foucault pendulum, swinging across the entire length of the basement. 

‘Sometimes when a bone is broken, is has to be fractured further, before it can be fixed,’ Ben said, while rapidly typing commands on a computer at the far end of the basement. ‘We need to cause a controlled collision this time, if we have any hope of undoing the damage. The fracture, of time, needs to be extended before it can be fixed.’

‘You mean bringing Ethan back?’ Maya hopefully asked. 

‘I mean much more than that. We have the potential to undo the instability. We can change the course of events,’ Ben briefly looked up at Maya, who had manoeuvred around the pendulum to stand next to him. ‘If we successfully harness the energy, the opportunities are limitless.’

‘So we need to find Ethan to create a collision?’

‘Yes and no. Energy cannot be destroyed, therefore the energy that resided within Ethan will remain. We just need to locate it,’ Ben answered, having stopped typing.   

‘Is Ethan alive?’ Maya clarified, dreading the answer. 

‘In some form, yes. As the energy dissipates Ethan will weaken,’ Ben paused, ‘You may have a decision to make.’

The computer screen started flashing with co-ordinates, a date and time. 

 

23:17 1st October

‘We lost her sir.’

‘Not to worry, even fucking rats have to surface for air, she’ll come back into site sooner or later,’ answered the self appointed Freelancers’ General. ‘We’re running low on troops,’ he commented looking round the dishevelled headquarters at the few surviving troops, many of whom had sustained severe injuries. The headquarters had a strong odour of death, the air was so thick with the scent of blood you could almost taste the iron that had been previously circulating in the dead. 

‘The last battle depleted our stock. It’s hard to get the staff,’ answered the Lieutenant with a sickening smile. 

‘You will need to go recruiting. First, visit our friends in blue, tell them the disruption and blood loss was due to our interventions. No need for them to waste time investigating this,’ the General ordered. ‘Ethan’s body, where the fuck is it?’

‘We began dismembering it as per protocol, sir,’ the Lieutenant paused showing an unusual hesitancy, ‘it vanished.’

‘What the fuck do you mean, it vanished!’ the General snarled, rapidly drawing his knife and placing it on his subordinates neck. 

‘We had just isolated the torso from the limbs, when they all vanished,’ the brown haired Lieutenant quivered, glancing at several junior troops who were looking on. He felt the knife that was pressing against his neck increase in pressure. 

‘The one thing we have, that we own, is death. This knife, I know if I push it further it’ll slit your throat, make a mess on the floor and set an example,’ the General calmly said grasping the young mans brown hair and pushing him against the wall, while the controlled pressure on the knife continued to steadily increase. ‘Be fucking grateful, this wasn’t a paying job.’ The General said, removing the knife from the Lieutenants neck to reveal a wound. 

’Thank you, sir,’ answered the breathless Lieutenant, straightening up. 

‘One more fuck up and you will wish I had slit you throat open. Leave the girl for now. We have a paying job. Telecoms CEO wants to knock off his competition. Get it done and bring me the bodies. Pictures and names have been uploaded to your unit.’

‘Thank you sir,’ saluted the Lieutenant, with blood dripping down his neck adding to the stains on his bloodied uniform.

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Aesthesia: Chapter 6 (3)

08:59 Tuesday 3rd February 2578, Ethan 

I hadn’t yet been disturbed by my ostensible friend Caleb. I still wasn’t convinced I should trust what this man was telling me; that time moved differently for me. Surely if that were the case I’d have realised by now. I walked into the kitchen and set about the daunting task of trying to make something to eat and drink. For as long as I could remember food had been provided for me, and I’d never really had to think any further about where it came from. The room lit to display the clear marble tops hanging on each wall. I walked to the black tile of the worktop closest to me, and placed my hand over it, to unveil a few cups next to a small metal cylinder on the work surface and cupboards underneath the marble top. As I continued round the kitchen, I found the various contraptions and a cupboard holding boxes of a gelatinous porridge type food and small cartons of capsules of various different colours. 

I poured myself a frothy hot drink from the metal cylinder. I took a sip of the frothy sweet drink, which warmed me from inside out; it was not quite like anything I had ever had before. It was creamy and sweet, almost like butterscotch but mildly bitter, with a bit of a kick. I felt an instant calming effect. I wiped off some residual froth from my upper lip. 

Starving, the only food I could find was the thick gelatinous porridge, so I decided to heat it and brave a bowl full. After heating the smallest quantity, I took a seat at the breakfast bar and took a spoonful to taste. The smell was nauseating, nothing like the smell of porridge. The spoon hovered in front of my lips for about half a minute before I took a chance and risked a taste. No sooner had the spoon entered my mouth, I regretted my decision. It was like a mouth full of semi-solid glue. I heaved and spat it out. I took a swig of the frothy drink in an attempt to revive my taste buds. What on earth was it that these people ate?

I decided to make my way to the lounge, but no sooner had the thought entered my mind did I hear a knock at the door. With anticipation I walked toward the door, half certain who I would find at the other side. Sure enough I opened the door to find Caleb. Something was different, the outside world looked dreary. As I peered past Caleb to catch a glimpse of the building that had been previously built of glass, he pushed his way in. 

‘What you up to?’ he asked, ‘Last night must have been a lot to take in. You don’t mind if I get a drink do you?’ he continued barely waiting for an answer. 

I shook my head and we went through to the kitchen. He looked around and poured himself a drink from the metallic cylinder. He glanced around, when his face turned to a look of semi disgust.

‘Oh, please tell me you did not try and eat that in its original form?’ he asked staring at me. 

I nodded.

‘Sorry, I keep forgetting this is all new to you. I always promised I’d walk you through everything you needed to know. Well, this is Victuals, it’s our main food source,’ he said pointing to the bowl of gelatinous goo. ‘Fresh food is a delicacy nowadays with the scarcity of fresh produce. Victuals provide everything you need, well on a nourishment level. But you never eat it without added spice.’ 

He walked across to the cupboard holding the various brightly coloured capsules, ‘these send electrical impulses to your brain creating any flavour, any texture of food you desire. With these and you lenses in place, you could believe you were eating steak and chips, popcorn, anything you want.’

He studied me for several minutes, seemingly expecting a response. I felt obliged to break the silence.

‘The metal cylinder?’ I eventually asked, unsure of how to complete the sentence. 

‘That’s for Chiaro. You can have it hold or cold, by adjusting the temperature control gauge on the side.’ He paused, poised to speak. ‘Ethan, I’m still the vi….’

As was the nature of my life, the end of that sentence was not meant for my ears. A momentary shift had occurred. I  found myself stood in a freshly painted shop of some sort next to a familiar face, who was talking about holding up some races. Fortunately, with the next blink I had returned to my own confusing World. Caleb was once again awaiting a response.   

‘It’s a lot to take in,’ I cleared my throat, uneasy with my lack of knowledge, ‘so, how do these capsules work? I’m starving.’

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Aesthesia: Chapter 6 (2)

 21:47 Monday 2nd February 2578, Ethan 

I had to find a way home. The lenses, I was still wearing the lenses. It conceivable that I should be able to download a map of some description, considering they had helped earlier with trying to change the Visual. How had I done it earlier – I had just desperately wanted to know a way. I summoned some desperation. Within moments a three dimensional screen of a map had loaded before me with walking directions, a miniature map appeared on the left hand side of my visual field, alongside an arrow indicating the direction I should immediately take. 

As I started my walk I heard a ringing, that was proceeded by an automated voice ‘Eve Theophany calling, would you like to take the call?’ 

The ear pieces, of course it became clear what they were used for now. No I didn’t want to take the call, but wasn’t entirely certain how to communicate this to the earpieces. 

‘Umm, no,’ I said quietly. The ringing thankfully stopped. 

After a fair walk I arrived to the glass building in which was my home. I made my way to the elevator, when a flashing appeared within my visual field ‘CALEB DONAGHUE AWAITING YOUR ARRIVAL’. The riddler was waiting for me, just what I needed. It would be nice to finish the night with even more questions than already plagued my mind. 

‘You’re home, and needed directions I see,’ Caleb said as I exited the escalator approaching my front door, ‘the riddler? I don’t think I’ve ever been called that before,’ he grinned attempting to cover the look of underlying affliction. 

I opened the door puzzled, the man following me in seemed to be in my head. 

‘It’s happening soon isn’t it?’ Caleb asked as we entered the apartment hallway.

‘What’s happening soon?’ I asked feeling completely left out of the loop. 

‘You’re leaving or my coming for you,’ Caleb replied.

‘Can you pleas…’ I began only to be interrupted mid-sentence. 

‘You’re eyes look really sore. Why don’t you remove your lenses?’ Caleb suggested.

‘No, my eyes are just peachy. I am tired of the..’

‘Riddles, yeah I know. Like I said you’re eyes look really sore. You should take your lenses out and you might as well unplug from the system. I’ll fix us some drinks, I think we’re going to need them,’ he replied firmly, turning away from me and heading toward the kitchen.

I didn’t really have a chose in the matter. As instructed I removed my lenses and ear piece, which I assumed meant I had unplugged from the system. I walked into the kitchen, expecting to find Caleb there. The kitchen was empty and Caleb was nowhere to be seen. I walked round to find Caleb stood looking out the window in the study. A brown envelope, two empty glasses and a bottle of whiskey lay on the central table.

‘Envelope’s for you,’ he said solemnly, not shifting his gaze from the window. 

I opened the envelope, to pull out two sheets that appeared to be full of writing. I wondered whether this would be another trivial pursuit. The writing once again was recognisably mine, despite my lack of recollection of ever having written these pages. 

TRUST CALEB DONAGHUE, HE IS YOU FRIEND’ the first sheet began. It continued in this manner detailing he was my friend and despite reasonable founded reservations and fears I may have, I should trust him as he meant me no harm and would prove to be of assistance. I turned the page with which the tone of the writing also changed. The first paragraph revealed the location of some plain paper that had been stowed in my bedroom, with a reminder to write out a schedule of the last few days (which was to be given to Caleb).

The second page concluded with a message for Caleb. I looked up, he had not moved and continued to look earnestly out the window. I was not keen to be used as a pawn in this game and felt rather vulnerable. I was unsure who the game was between as the writing on all occasions had undeniably been mine.

‘It’s time,’ I eventually said. 

Caleb turned round, ‘sorry?’

‘It’s a message for you, in this envelope. It just says ‘it’s time’. I assumed you would know what that meant,’ I replied. 

Caleb walked round to join me and looked at the paper held in my hand, almost mistrusting the message I had given him. 

‘So it is,’ he said after a short pause before sitting at the table, ‘you should take a seat. Drink?’ he asked rhetorically filling both glasses with whiskey.

I sat down, as Caleb promptly thrust a glass in my direction which left a trail of whiskey drops behind it. I sat in silence, anticipating the next move. Caleb knocked back the glass of whiskey, and proceeded to refill it. The silence broke with the sound of the whiskey pouring from the bottle into the glass. 

‘I’ve known you for years,’ he began, ‘but I’m guessing you haven’t known me that long.’

How did that sentence make any sense? I shook my head, I had not known him for years but had met him a few days ago.

‘How long have you known me for?’ he asked, appearing genuinely not to know the answer.

‘Since I met you at the planetarium.’

‘And when was that?’ he asked before taking another swig of his glass. 

‘Two days ago,’ I answered.

‘What was the date of that day?’

‘Where are you going with this?’ I asked defensively, unsure as to why I had taken offence. 

‘You’ll see, and that’s not supposed to be a riddle,’ he smiled, ‘what was the date two days ago for you?’ he finished calmly. 

‘5th February 2578, that’s was you told me remember?’ 

He smiled, ‘I’ll bear that in mind. What was the date yesterday?’ he asked. 

‘6th February,’ I replied, wondering how much longer we would continue to tabulate the calendar. 

‘What’s the date now?’ he asked.

‘2nd February,’ I replied not quite seeing where he was going with this line of questioning. 

‘Ethan time moves for you in a unique way,’ he began, ‘yesterday the date for the rest of the world, including myself, was 1st February 2578. I met you at the planetarium you say. Where were you before that? When were you before that?’ he asked. 

I stared feeling strangely exposed – this wasn’t what I had expected to hear. I didn’t want to be different to the rest of the world. I just wanted to fit in.

‘I was at the nursing home, it was…’ I paused unsure of how to continue, with a niggling mistrust remaining at the back of my mind, ‘it was 3111.’

‘You kept that quiet,’ Caleb sighed. ‘I can only tell you, what you have told me. Time doesn’t move for you like it does for everyone else. Time for me, for everyone else I’ve ever met, moves consecutively forwards – following the chronological sequence. From what you’ve told me over the years, I understand time moves for you sequentially backwards,’ he paused analysing my face, looking for a reaction. ‘When you explained it to me you said to imagine time as numbered beads on a piece of string. I pass over bead one, then move to bead two, pass over bead two, and then move to bead three, and so on. You pass over bead five, and move back to bead three. Then pass over bead three and four, then jump to bead one.’

I stared at him then the table before me, absorbing the words he had just said. I considered the analogy he had just given. It did fit, mostly. It explained things from the nursing home. Why people knew me so well and how I had no idea who they were. Everybody had always just said it was early onset dementia. I had become the tragic, slightly spooky figure in the home ‘predicting’ when people would pass, although they always came back to life for me so I never really saw it as such a bad thing. But…

‘Why have I jumped?’ I looked at him needing an answer, ‘why have I jumped back five hundred years?’

‘I don’t know,’ he shrugged, ‘you never told me that you had. You did say something abou…’

‘And the girl, the voice? Who is she?’ I interrupted, leaning in.

‘Eve?’ Caleb asked.

‘No, at least I don’t think so. There’s a voice I sometimes hear, a female voice. It’s a presence that joins me.’ I stopped seeing the look on Caleb’s face, he clearly thought I was insane. 

‘You are a dark horse, this is the first I’ve heard about a voice or presence as you put it,’ he said pouring himself another drink, ‘you should knock that back,’ he said nodding at the full glass of whiskey that had remained untouched in front of me.

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Aesthesia: Chapter 6 (1)

 18:59 Friday 6th February 2578 , Ethan

 To every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction

Newton’s third law 

The conference room had emptied after our meeting had finished several hours ago. Why had I simply signed over ‘my physical and intellectual property’ to Caleb without a second thought? I had candidly done what I was instructed to do and began to doubt my decision, still uncertain whether he could be trusted. ‘Physical and intellectual property’, those words continued to resonate in my mind. 

‘Ethan, it’s important we do things in the right order and don’t change anything. Remember everything that happens. You’ll get the hang of it as time goes on, but it may seem a bit odd at first,’ Caleb’s voice came like thunder disturbing me mid thought, as he marched back in. 

‘I’ve done everything you’ve asked without question,’ I said feeling totally enraged at another command from this damned fool, ‘you talk in circles. What are you trying to say?’ I had not realised that I had risen to my feet and my voice was without doubt a few decibels louder. 

Caleb stared at me for a few moments before replying, ‘well you neglected to mention your temper tantrums. We need to run through the schedule that we’ve stuck to? You have to remember it so you can write it down.’

‘More riddles,’ I said lowering myself back to my seat holding my forehead in my hands. Lowering my hands over my eyes down to my chin and turning toward Caleb, ‘why is it so diffic..’. 

He wasn’t there, in fact I wasn’t there – where I had been a second ago, a shift had occurred. The presence of my automated vision remained – the date had changed and now read ‘Monday 2nd February 2578’. 

In front of me was an empty plate. I was sat at dining table in an open plan kitchen similar to mine. Looking to my right I noticed the familiar site of the black tile over which I placed my hand hoping for some sort of clue. I instantly noticed my hand did not fit the imprint on the tile, none the less a three dimensional screen appeared before me. ‘FOR FEATURE CHANGES CONTACT EVE THEOPHANY’

‘You finished with that?’ asked a woman’s voice. I turned to find a demur red-head with a sultry glower, approaching me. 

‘Eve?’ I said. God knows I didn’t doubt it. She was the image of a heavenly creature, who would succumb to take a bite from the forbidden apple.

‘Yeah, so you finished?’ she asked while picking up my plate tossing her long cascading red curls back, to slide down her back and meet her figure hugging red strapless dress. I nodded. ‘Did something need changing on the table, you just looked like you were trying to alter…’

‘No, nothing,’ I interrupted, wanting to avoid further questioning along this path. 

‘You sure you’re alright, you’re acting a little odd?’ she asked again with a hint of concern masking undercurrents of fire, ‘so what was it you wanted to ask me, babe?’

I had no idea. There were a lot of questions on my mind but would she be able to answer any of them. Staring blankly, I was momentarily joined by a familiar presence. 

Why not just ask?’ I heard a voice say. 

Looking round the room there was nobody else here apart from me, and an increasingly ferocious silent Eve. The presence left just as quickly as it had joined me, leaving me to face the music alone. 

‘Sorry?’ I asked hoping for a clue of any description. 

‘Earlier, at work. Remember?’ she asked sitting opposite me, looking hopefully. 

‘Yes, at work earlier….’ I paused once again, ‘it was about Caleb,’ I continued, ‘and, well, his role in things?’ I asked, fairly certain this wasn’t the question she was expecting. 

‘What?’ she asked vexed, ‘are you kidding? What’s the matter with you? Ever since I met you, you and Caleb have been the best of friends! Inseparable, and now, huh! Now you’re asking my opinion!’ She paused, sweeping her long red hair to the left, revealing sun-bronzed skin enveloping the defined curvature of her right collarbone traversing the way to her toned arm. ‘You know, I was crazy enough to think me and you had a future. For an apparent genius, you’re fairly deficient!’ She stood, and left the kitchen ablaze a screeching trail ‘I think you should leave!’ 

Having no idea of how to get back to my place I attempted to ask Eve before leaving, with little success. Walking out her apartment I couldn’t help but notice the contrast to my building – while there was an elevator opposite the door, the building was not glass lined but rather had a more homely feel with a welcoming stately character. It was beginning to darken outside. I left the building, to exit onto an impeccably clean brick path, that weaved its way between buildings, thinking to myself how handy a pair of ruby slippers would be. It struck me to find an answer to the conundrum that was my life was challenging enough, without adding the allure of women into the mix.

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Filed under Fiction, The Book: Aesthesia