Friday, 30 August 2013

Ill

If you have the misfortune to follow my twitter feed, you probably realised that I'm feeling quite sick.

The downside of illness is that it short-circuits my ability to be creative. I can have brief moments, but no real sustained creative urge. What this means is that I'm having trouble writing a creative piece this week. But I don't want to miss a week, hence the waffle forthcoming.

...

several minutes later

...

Well, that was spectacularly unsuccessful. Let's try from another angle:

This is my moment
Glory illuminates my
Snot filled sinuses

I shall try once more
Superhuman effort and
Yet my ears don't pop

Seven hours sleep in
Two days of frantic action
Tonight I shall snore

That's it really. That's all I got. as you can see, the frustrations of being overrun by whatever horrible disease this is are really getting me down.

A long weekend of sleep (postponing a shiny new phone because I just can't bear the thought of dragging myself into town) will hopefully cure me, but I'm out of soup and I don't want solid food. Also, I hate being sick.

Alicia

Monday, 19 August 2013

The storm arrives

They neared the pit city. The storm had grown louder and the vehicle was repeatedly jolted and shaken as the skaters' strength failed and they began to lose control of the vehicle and the route.

The passengers had taken the desperate measure of hooking the clone brain of Salinda up to the skaters' interface and injected the body with a huge amount of adrenalin. The biological upsurge of energy had fed into the skater circuits and boosted them over the last half hour, keeping them just ahead of the storm.

The effect it had on Salinda had been catastrophic. She had been working on something, and to ensure the body did not make an attempt to assert control it had been thoroughly sedated as per the standard procedure. However, the jolt of adrenalin had negated that situation and it was only the efforts of Salinda (already tired from her work and daily life) that kept the body in its seat.

Mind over matter was a casually dismissed phrase among those who had never seen a body try to reject the brain it hosted.

Cloned brains were the tools of the powerful and the bodies were typically designed to make a statement: replicas in the exact image of the original, or beautified model to be upgraded every year or two in order to remain eternally perfect. None of the brains of Salinda had ever been vain and usually opted for a sturdy, long life specimen; tending to female identity genetically. This model was similar - big bones, heavy muscles and a respiratory system that could be relied on in almost any circumstances. The face was in no way remarkable and had not been amended to give any surface similarity to Salinda's clone "siblings". Each of Salinda would visibly display no relationship to the others; it was only speech and behavioural patterns that gave away the shared identity and then only when a number of them were gathered together.

Typically she had no problem holding control over whatever body she chose, but this one had been different almost from the start. She had been displaying flashes of empathy with slave races from a few months after adoption - nothing too strong or too threatening, and the body never had control, but it appeared to have a power of suggestion. Now, with the strength to overcome the constraints applied whenever Salinda wasn't fully present, the body was attempting to assert dominance.

Thankfully the skater circuit was acting as a drain on its physical strength and the passengers held onto the hope that it would be enough to give Salinda her edge.

Suddenly, a sharp flux in the circuit caused the vehicle to jolt sufficiently that the passengers were flung out of their seats. The disruption was only brief and the passage which resumed almost immediately was noticeably smoother and more direct as they sped through the night. Checking readouts, it became clear that all of the physical energy had been dumped into the skater circuit, bringing them up from 4 to 8 percent capacity, which would be enough to see them into the city with perhaps 10 percent of the original cohort still standing.

They would have to purchase a new team but, more annoyingly, they would have to pay to dump the useless remains of the current team and the pit city would not give good prices for a desert brand. It might, perhaps, be possible to cull the remainder, but that wouldn't be cheap either.

This cogitation was processed in microseconds as the two passengers made for their primary concern. The body was near death, barely any energy remained, but the clone brain was being kept easily sustained by the additional power supplies brought along for her.

She was obliged to communicated directly through the skater interface until the trickle of power feeding the body brought it up to minimum operating levels, but the message was clear. The body, as a known sympathiser of slave races, had been made aware of the skaters' inability to survive all the way to the pit city. If she rejected the brain, there was no way to keep the skaters alive. If she surrendered her energy, the brain would remain in power, and some of the skaters may survive. Given the choice, the body had made the sacrifice, and thrown every bit of energy it had at the skater circuit.

Salinda had been prepared for such an eventuality however, and had been able to regain control a few milliseconds before the body expired. It was in pain, it would likely be subordinate for a few weeks, but it was alive and healthy. Once it was fully charged, it would even function better in a few areas as the chemical jamboree inside it enabled it to operate without rest for some days.

"These bodies," Helda, somewhat given to tutting, did so again as she hooked up the biomat converter to the body's tertiary cannula, "so unnecessarily dramatic. One would think they had something to complain about, instead of being the most pampered physical race imaginable. Trying to kill itself to inconvenience Salinda; it's just rude."

Her companion briefly smiled and began applying the electroshock therapy that would kill off any resistance in the body, while retaining full function for Salinda's comfort and best experience. "This model is about two, right? Usually they settle down after the second anniversary of adoption, so this was probably the last major rebellion. I think she's enjoying the game, to be honest. If it was really giving her trouble she's got the experience to bring any body into immediate compliance."

As they sped through the night, and the sounds of the storm loomed ever closer, the eyelids of the body twitched violently and slow tears trickled down the face. When they stopped and the eye muscles became slack, the electroshock therapy was discontinued.

Within minutes the vehicle ground to a halt and a number of loud thumps indicated the termination of several skaters. Helda leaned forward and gently touched the interface embedded in the the arm of Salinda's body. "Ma'am? We've arrived. Do you need me to give the body anything, or are you able to move?"

The eyes focussed on Helda, and the head slowly shook. Salinda stood, rolled the shoulder and arm muscles, and stepped forwards. Most bodies would require a minute or two after shock therapy to regain control of the muscles before their gait smoothed into a natural rhythm, but Salinda had considerable experience of various bodies and after the first pace there was no hint that this wasn't her natural form.

The three passengers headed out into the city as the storm broke and pummeled futilely at the carapace above the pit.

Monday, 12 August 2013

The storm is chasing

There was rustling in the trees, sharp cracks as a tiny, warm blooded scurrier snapped twigs tinier than itself. The air was clear, sharp and dry. The sky was cloudless and the moon hung luminous and bloated, yet precariously perched in the gravity well - close enough to orbit and distant enough that it would never fall into gravity's trap.

The snow lay untouched for acres around, the frost made the trees sparkle mimicking the stardust above and the icicles hung, raindrops frozen in time, waiting for warmth to return their freedom.

All this beauty. All this fragile, glorious nature, wondrous in this moment will never be observed by anyone who cares because at this precise moment a vehicle is crashing through the trees, mowing down anything foolish enough to step in its path and destroying silence and fragile beauty alike.

The engine bellows, the black smoke churns out of the rear and the skaters run alongside, deflecting debris with their grav-shields and shielding the windows from prying eyes.

They have been running for 3 days straight and are reaching the end of their tolerance. Skaters are a hardy lot, but this batch were ordered for desert climates and the manufacturer assumed Saharan rather than . As a result the performance of the product suffers over extended periods of time operating in temperatures below 12 degrees. The issue is with the lawyers, but there is no immediate alternative and the skaters are obliged to fulfill their current contract in -30 degrees.

They charge rapidly over the fields - clear of the forest, they expand the perimeter around the vehicle and use their grav-shields to boost its speed. In this way they had been able to cut the journey by about 20% as they no longer had to navigate around slow or rough ground. It was high cost, of course - a third of the skaters would not complete the journey and the passengers in the vehicle were subjected to a horrendous ride, but someone somewhere had decided that speed mattered more than money or comfort.

As they were employed by a government organisation, everyone taking the journey was simply too shocked to protest.

29 hours ago an additional incentive for speed had made itself known. They had expected the blackness of night to give way to the pearlescent green lustre of dawn, instead of which it had remained black as the storm gathered on the horizon.

These storms rarely occurred - the oily black cloud dispensed both electricity and debris at high intensity. Ordinarily they broke when they crested high ground and the clouds gathered density in valleys, eradicating all life from the area, but in this case only small fragments seemed to be caught. The bulk of the storm crept along the ground behind, lurking ominously on the horizon for the majority of the day. It was when the skaters hit the forest in the early evening and had to slow, allowing the vehicle to touch ground while they protected the soft, lightweight body from the falling trees that they knew they would have trouble remaining ahead.

The storm wouldn't be slowed by anything under 300ft tall and the forest was significantly smaller than that. Fortunately, none of the skaters had been wounded or exhausted by the rigours of the woodland, and the ground was clear for the next ten miles. At the end of that was the pit-city; their destination.

They needed to retain a full complement of skaters for at least the next five miles to make it to the end without falling victim to the storm.

Sadly, at that precise moment, two of the lead skaters and one at the rear fell away from the pack and tumbled into the snow. The remaining skaters dropped the ports for those skaters and the shared bandwidth became an analysis machine for the the nanoseconds required to diagnose the fault. The two leaders had been bearing the brunt of the windchill and eventually succumbed; the rider at the rear had been subjected to a power drain from the sustained use of his grav-shield dissipating the debris that was sucked into the rear of the vehicle by the cumulative gravity distortion.

Adapting to the conditions the skaters rebuilt their formation with a recharge unit focussed on the three requiring most energy. Inside the vehicle, one of the three passengers checked over the readout and tutted in frustration. A measured voice came from one corner: "They weren't designed for these conditions. They are learning them, and they've done surprisingly well so far."

"I just don't understand," said the tutter, "why, given the scale of this development, they weren't required to have an inbuilt live comms to assess ongoing damage instead of waiting for a fatality."

"Because some bright spark failed to forsee a situation where a skater required for one set of conditions would be operating in a wholly different set. And the skaters have to suffer the consequences." The deep, drawling tones came from the depths of an armchair-equivalent. It housed the brain of Salinda Cotra - the clone brain - and she rarely participated in what she termed the petty, insignificant squabbles of the two legged egos. However, over the course of this journey as she had learned the details of the appalling mismanagement of the skater development project she had become ever more vocal and irritated.

The other two exchanged glances. The drawls indicated a good portion of her facility was given over to some calculation, so they quietly, carefully and respectfully hooked her up to the various vitamins, sedatives and incapacitors that the vehicle was equipped with.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

In which I am torn

Oh boy.

OK, I'm going to take what is, for me, one helluva risk.

I know not many people actually read this blog, but I don't know who the people reading it are (except one: hi, Olli *waves*). You could be my friends, you could be my family, you could be complete strangers. Regardless, up until now I have been completely comfortable with absolutely anyone reading everything I've written here.

Now, right now, with this, I'm not sure I'm comfortable with anyone reading it. Especially when the anyone could be my ex, my new guy (you know, three months down the line when I want him to be interested in my writing) or a potential guy who stumbles across this and... I'm just not comfortable, OK?

And I don't do something when I see tangled up in its aura so many far reaching negative consequences and so few positive.

But here and now, I am going to give it a go. And it's precisely *because* I'm so uncomfortable with it that I feel I must.

I made a decision that I was going to be single throughout 2013.

I decided not to date at all, because I know myself and as I know as soon as I find a guy I am interested in dating, I will become interested in trying for a relationship and will lose my single status without surviving a year alone.

Additionally, when my boyfriend broke up with me on New Years Day I was left with a lot of uncertainty. I didn't know what I wanted, who I was, whether it was a bad relationship: I knew nothing. And right now; I'm still confused about him. Although I'm very sure about everything else that seems to matter, I don't know if I want to have a second chance with him.

I knew I wanted a date for New Years Eve this year and, undeniably amazing as I am, I'm neither irresistible nor well connected enough to get a blind date on New Years Eve. I mean, how would you go about that?

So it made sense to sign up to a dating site. And without any concept of who would be available, what the usual time frame is, etc, I had no idea how much time I would need. so I signed up in about May or June when I felt comfortable doing so.

I looked around for a month or so and realised I needed to be paying to get any use out of it. But the available men seemed promising so I thought I'd pay up and see what sort of contact I got. Well, I've already ranted about that, so here's the other side of it.

I'm now in the position where I've met the first of three guys.

He's attractive, intelligent, creative, close to his family, has good friendships, takes his job seriously and generally ticks the majority of my boxes. Worst of all, I'm interested in seeing him again. As an add on: he's mentioned that I'm the only woman he's emailing and that, to me, suggests he may be interested in bringing this forward a little more quickly than the average online dater.

I'm meeting two other guys this weekend, one of whom I know is going precisely nowhere but he's a nice guy and I'd like to meet him anyway. The other I genuinely have no idea about.

I'm still caught up in the confusion surrounding my ex because although I know logically he fails to tick some of my boxes, it's precisely the same quantity as Guy number 1, they're just different ones.

In short: I do not want to be in a relationship with anyone in 2013. I do not know if I want a relationship with my ex. I do NOT under any circumstances want to be in a relationship with one guy while wondering about a possible relationship with another.

So my problem is quite simple. If I keep seeing guy number 1 and nothing bad happens, I'll be in a relationship position far earlier than I'd like and I'd *still* be wondering about my ex. If I explain this to guy number 1 he'd (and I don't blame him for this at all, I'd do the same which is why I expect it of him) run a mile. If I don't explain it, what do I do if I find myself in the position of having to choose between "relationship" status, or explaining all of this?

Bear in mind that in with a chance guy may also cause this dilemma, if guy number 1 fails to. Similarly, if all three guys crash and burn, I've still got 3-4 months of online dating before the ideal Meet Someone -> New Years Eve -> Relationship time-frame is reached.

You know what would be awesome? If I got a [IMPORTANT EDIT] Business class [END EDIT] plane ticket to Vegas1 for New Years Eve from a secret admirer. Then I could just tell every guy I go out with that I have a date for New Years Eve and they won't pressure me - especially if they're perfect.

Of course, I'd then have to decide whether to risk it all by meeting a secret "admirer" in a foreign country at one of the riskiest times of the year. Maybe if he sent two tickets - one for me, one for a bodyguard.

If only life's dilemmas could be resolved as easily as the ones I am never going to have to take seriously.

I'll let you know how it goes with IWAC and what happens with GNO. You deserve that much for having persevered this far. I am going to build a perpetual motion machine for this dilemma to drive; it might as well be useful while it's chasing itself around my head like this.

Alicia

PS: Is it wrong to want to meet a guy who just burns all other potential men out of my mind? Is it even worth pretending that the man who could do that actually exists?

1 I honestly have no idea why Vegas. I don't even know if they do NYE in Vegas; I guess they must. Possibly it's because Vegas has lots of nice hotels and the kind of man with money to throw [just gonna put in an edit, brb] at an open plane ticket for a trans-Atlantic holiday-period date would be able to swan around there without anyone caring even the tiniest of amounts.

Monday, 5 August 2013

The rain

I was alone with the rain shattering on the glass above
The noise
It sounded like an attack
A thousand missiles clattering
And tumbling off the roof

It fell so fast that there was no rhythm or tune
Merely thunderous power
A slam-dunk from the sky
Time after time

I don't hold it in contempt
I don't feel it is powerless against this building
But I know the sky does not choose to harm me
There is no malice
There is no malevolent threat

Only people can do that
The world,
With all its power and fury,
Does not aim to kill, maim or destroy
Only the weak make that their goal

The strong, the powerful
They have nothing to prove

The world gains nothing by me
Loses nothing by me
I am nothing to it

So it will never try to hurt me

That does not make it weak
That does not make me safe

But I can hear the rain, thunder and lightening
Without fear
Because it does not target me
I am not a victim
As long as I respect it.

Alicia

Friday, 2 August 2013

Where this came from...

For a long time I was so badly damaged by my experiences that I couldn't recognise when someone was being good to me. It had become so alien to me, somehow, that I just could not interpret it correctly.

Language is so subjective.

That "long time" was, for me, a very long time. I believed, not that people were bad and would hurt me without thought or consideration, but that I was owed that kind of disrespect, that I was unworthy of anything else. I didn't suspect that a kind gesture had a hidden motive, instead, the kind gesture was invisible, because it was impossible for anyone to be kind to me.

This lasted about 10 - 12 months.

I'm sure it wasn't a whole year. [EDIT: actually, doing the maths, it must have been just over a year. Wow]

To anyone outside, it must have been like a blip. But imagine a world where no-one cares about you. Where you are all alone. Where it doesn't matter how many people are holding onto the glass bubble you have surrounded yourself with, where it doesn't matter how many words of love are spoken to you, where it doesn't matter how much support and true, sincere love, affection and care you are surrounded by because you are utterly impervious to it.

And now, imagine being so, so twisted inside that you think it's right for you to be alone like that.

I am so lucky.

There was someone who literally carried me through the worst. Someone who, without me noticing, taught me that my expectations and self evaluation were both far, far too low.

That person left my life at the 6 - 8 month mark, but it was the right time. I had to stand by myself, I had to take steps to rebuild myself and question the outside world.

After 2 more months "alone" I had successfully cast aside the worst of my hurt and began to deal with the lingering damage in an abstract fashion.

I wrote. Sometimes I let out the kid in me, sometimes the hurt, sometimes the soul of me and quite frequently I took on a persona and wrote about an imaginary man, a fantasy, on which I could build a minimum expectation level for the future men in my life. I used it to draw a solid line between what I had experienced and what I was worth. I exorcised my demons, I built my non-negotiables for the future and, in doing so, I also wrote some damn funny stuff.

I don't need either of them now. I don't need the fantasy man. I don't need the outrageously flamboyant, courageously mad, dramatically expressive woman who so gorgeously embodied the accumulated longings for connection harvested from a year in isolation.

But, while I'm willing to wave goodbye to him, I don't want to lose her.

She is glorious. She isn't me - just an exaggeration of one of my many facets. But she's an exaggeration I could bear to live with.

Over the last two or three months I have left my bubble. I've made space for her in my life - I'm taking more joy out of my freedom and I'm not wasting time pretending that it's not fun when it clearly is. I'm kind of hoping she'll keep giving me stuff to write, but if she doesn't, that's OK. I can keep this going by myself. I can take all kinds of risks by myself.*

As Great Big Sea (sort of) say: "I might fall, but I'll never lie down".

Alicia

*Literally as I hit the full stop on that a pigeon landed on my skylight and tried to convince me to let him in. So maybe not all kinds of risks, but certainly some of them.