The blog’s taken a bit of a hit over the past few weeks, holidays, royal weddings, bank holidays and friends have meant not much time in front of the laptop and no time at all spent reading. I haven’t touched either Pittsburgh or Spilling Ink for a while now, and the longer I leave them the harder is it to go back. This weekend I’m jumping over to Amsterdam for an extended weekend break and that means probably even less reading/writing. The flight’s a couple of hours so maybe I’ll get something done then.

I’ve a couple of ideas about short stories that are percolating their way through my mind at the moment. The first begins when a man answers his door one morning – below is a first draft, rough sketch of the idea.

When I opened the door to leave for work there was a man standing there, arm raised about to knock. He was dressed in a suit, smart but slightly crumpled, and wore a grey fedora that seemed slightly too big for his head.

He introduced himself as Dr Syumers, of the Royal Huntingdon Secure Psychiatric Hospital and, after the introductions were complete, he said ‘I’m sorry to come straight to you like this but I thought it better, you see, I have a responsibility to my patients, but of course I have a responsibility to the care of others also.’

He spoke quickly, the sentences tumbling out over each other; patient confidentiality, ethics, consent, imminent danger.

‘I’m sorry’ I interrupted, ‘I’m afraid I have no idea what you’re talking about.’

‘It’s one of my patients you see,’ he said, ‘In our last session, two nights ago, we had a break through.’

‘A break through.’

‘Yes. Exactly. After years of counselling the patient finally told me the name of the man that he had killed.’

‘I’m sorry, but I am actually late for work.’ I said and clicked the key in the lock before turning and walking down the driveway. The psychiatrist followed after me.

‘The man’s name was Thomas Klee.’

‘That’s my name.’

‘Exactly’ said Dr Syumers, ‘And for two nights now I’ve debated whether to warn you of this or not.’

‘It sounds to me as though your warning is a little late.’ I said, ‘You said ‘killed’, and I, as you see, am alive and well, and late for work.’

‘This particular patient suffers from an extremely acute form of regressive temporal hallucination. To wit, in the mind of the patient, time flows in reverse.’

I stopped, ‘You’re saying he remembers the future?’

Dr Syumers laughed, ‘Oh no, of course not.’ He ran to catch up as I started walking again. ‘He of course cannot see the future, but that’s not to say there aren’t, um, degrees of, flexibility. He has been surprisingly consistent in envisaging his own actions. Uncanny really.’

‘A man predicts what he is going to do, then does it. Hardly groundbreaking I think.’

‘Interactions I should say then, with others. But he is not predicting, he is, in his mind, remembering.’

The second idea is still at embryo stage, a meandering idea that stemmed from this sentence: ‘What do people do when they don’t have to work and have the best technology at their fingertips? [They create?]’

These are the notes and few sentences I jotted down about it:

The Bion Institute, previously an academic institution only, became an arm of government, one that sought social change through the quantification and application of the dream scale.

The isolation of a psycarbiulm solution capable of enhancing or repressing dreams was used to elongate the scale and determine, from a mathematical and scientific point of view, the levels and divisions between dreams. J. Anderhall in particular became renowned for his pioneering work, reducing the scale to an accuracy of seven sixteenths Di (Dream Intensity).

Divisions existed of course, a grey sliding scale that, like a Gaussian bell curve rose and fell, diminishing infinitely. But articles 11, 16 and 18 of the Beaufoumont Adjudgements gave weight of law to the discrimination that already passed, unmentioned, in many government offices.

Society split in two. The dreamers and the dreamless.


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