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About Literature / Artist Senior Member futilitarianFemale/United Kingdom Groups :icontransliterations: transliterations
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Miriam always looked worse in hotel mirrors.  There was something about the lighting in these places. Maybe it was the drying effect of the unfamiliar water or the biological washing powder on the sheets and towels.  Maybe it was the aging effect of a full English breakfast every morning, clogging her arteries and colon, writ large across her pores.

Whatever the cause, a pallid, dry, wrinkle-faced hag with frizzy greying hair watched Miriam brush her teeth.  

It was 6am according to her elderly Nokia.  The wall clock in her room wasn’t working.  She wasn’t sure what year it had stopped at roughly quarter past three, but the hands showed no sign of budging now even when the clock was rattled experimentally showering dust onto the counterpane.  Miriam assumed the clock had worked perfectly the last time the room was decorated in about 1971, so that narrowed it down.

She went down to breakfast, shovelling the grease down her neck while she skimmed the Guardian.  None of her colleagues was there; perhaps they’d eaten and left, perhaps they were skipping breakfast.  Her emptied breakfast plate had a certain archaeological interest of its own; the material remains of earlier breakfasts eaten by other guests encrusted at the edges; strata of egg yolk, baked bean residue.

By 7.30am she was on site.  The site steward, an enthusiastic local, reported hearing noises in the night.  This report was quickly borne out when the cave which formed the Northern apex of the grid was found to contain primitive rock art which had not been shown in the original survey.  Miriam suspected pre-adolescent man.  A crudely drawn phallus, the inscription “Jez is a fag”.  A classic of its type.

In a year, she would not be standing in a cold muddy field in wellies at arse o’clock agreeing with a local about how awful it was, how important this site was for posterity and how the young really do have no respect.  In a year, she’d be in that little hut in Thailand, where one could live quite cheaply and her university pension would do very well.  She’d have a morning swim in the ocean and watch the sun come up; she would write and paint and make her own clothing.  In a year, she promised herself, she’d bite the bullet and go for it.  She had no responsibilities and ties now her mother was finally gone (but Christ, was a drawn-out process that dying had been).  If she got the windows done as soon as she got back from this dig, put her house on the market, she could have everything wrapped up and ready to move on the minute she could claim her pension.

Don’t get me wrong, Miriam liked her job.  It’s just she’d be glad when she didn’t have to do it any more.  Dealing with people, that was the worst bit – live ones, that is.  That bloody woman, this site steward, had brought out an hourglass on their first morning there – it had been raining then, too - and asked Miriam what she thought it was worth, like it was Antiques bloody Roadshow.  “It was my grandfather’s,” she said, “and he was in the merchant navy.”  Proud, but bashful with it.  Miriam told the woman as politely as she could that she wasn’t really the best person to ask as it wasn’t really her era, but she personally hadn’t seen anything like it.  This led to the woman asking ‘which bit’ she specialised in.  Miriam told her she specialised in the tiny bit of history between about 12,000 years Before Present and the Roman invasion around 2,000 years BP.  The woman had looked slightly underwhelmed.  “It’s all broken bits of pot and things, then?  Grubbing around in bones and that.  I wouldn’t do that if you paid me, love.”

Today she managed to get rid of the irritating site steward in record time and went over to talk to Phil, her second-in-command, who was standing by the balk between two test pits and staring at the aerial photos.  It started to rain.

They’d found a small cache the third day of the dig (it had been highlighted quite clearly on the geophysical survey) and this was already being analysed by luckier, lab-bound colleagues.  The radio carbon dating results were surprising, because the cache had contained artefacts from such a variety of eras and places; the sheer levels of diffusion in this place were astounding.  Just from that one assemblage they’d covered almost the whole prehistoric period this site had been occupied, not to mention a fossil dating from a time before humans had even been thought of.

“It’s weird, Miriam.” Phil said.  “I’m just looking at these pictures again, and what we’re seeing makes no sense.  Those anomalies we spotted the first week – there are more and more of them.  The matrix is disturbed all over, much more than you’d expect from ploughing and river runoff and so forth, and it’s all the way down, every locus on the site.”

“It’s like this place has been dug up before and put back again.” Phil concluded, perplexed.

Miriam spent the morning dodging the site steward, but the woman managed to catch up with her at lunchtime.  Miriam was slightly appeased by the hot cup of coffee (black, one sweetener) she was offered, and said to the woman by way of conversation, “I expect you’ll be glad when this is all over, won’t you?  All the noise, mud, disruption?”

“Oh no,” the woman said.  “I don’t mind.  It’s a bit of excitement, isn’t it?  Besides, there’s not nearly as much disruption as last time.  They had all the camera crews too, of course, and they were working to more of a deadline – you lot have been ages.  I suppose it makes it more exciting for the telly.  Shame they were rained off.  I think they just covered it all over again in the end.  Well, I imagine that Tony Robinson doesn’t come cheap.”
Digging
FFM day 8 challenge.

Architectural terms culled from www.archaeological.org/educati… and there are 18 of them.

I've included all the thingies I had to include (tree rings aren't explicitly referenced, but they're used to calibrate radio carbon dating so ner).  There's a flashback and a flashforward so that's that then.

Oh, and it's a thousand words to the penny.
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Connaught’s mum had always warned him about hanging out in low dives.  There was nowhere lower than this stool in this jagged-out old bar stuck out in the boonies at the arse end of the galaxy.  A prefab shack stuck on the barren dusty surface of the lamest planet in the universe.

Correction, the floor was lower.  And sticky.  Also suddenly closer than he remembered.

He re-ascended the stool with some difficulty.  He was on his seventh screwdriver.  

Well, they’d started as screwdrivers, but this one had what looked suspiciously like a decorative slice of eggplant wedged on the rim instead of, say, a bit of orange or a cherry or something.

Connaught looked around him.  He’d been in the bar since the freighter he was supposed to be navigating docked.  It hadn’t taken the captain too long into the 3 week flight to figure out that while Connaught was in many ways overqualified for the job, especially in terms of creativity, marketing flair and sheer capacity for bullshit, there were certain gaps in his resume when it came to, say, astral navigation and math which Connaught had undertaken to fill utilising those skills previously mentioned.

So Connaught had been let off here with his flight bag full of dirty washing and 3 weeks’ pay (the captain was not a cruel man).  He’d checked into the cheapest motel with air and, knowing that he’d struggle to get a flight to anywhere from out here and his money would have to last, he’d found the nearest bar and started an attempt to drink through it as quickly as he could.

Some duded-out old meteorite miners (this shithole was probably the big city to them) were sitting at the next table drinking scotch and playing dominos.  The bastard clack clack was getting on Connaught’s wick.  

The fucken’ NASA boys were in town at the next dock to the one Connaught had been ditched from, with their fucken breather suits on like the recycled air wasn’t good enough for them.  There were some of them in this bar.  This one!  Surely them flyboys had their own shiny expensive bars to drink in.

“Here, what do you do when you see a spaceman?” Connaught called over to the nearest cleancut NASA honours graduate asshole.  The NASA asshole ignored him.

“Park in it, man!” Connaught fell off his stool again.  It was the fifth time he’d told this joke, and it just kept getting funnier.

The NASA guys didn’t seem to think so.  Fuckem.

Connaught tried to remount his stool, missed, and spilled dominos everywhere.

So then the barman was asking him to leave and he was out back trying not to clog his rebreather with puked up screwdriver and the shitty salmon tubefood he’d eaten ten hours ago.

And then he was stealing the freighter - the captain should have changed the keycode after he got fired - and he was using the grabber arm to push that little spacebar over into the ground and all the fucken flyboys with it.

“Hitting the spacebar, see?” He told the cops as they picked him up.

They didn’t see the funny side.  That was the problem with these places in the middle of nowhere.
It was another pea-souper. The airborne coal particulates tend to clog the daguerreotypes mounted afront the vehicle, so Abraxas Archon considered it prudent to leave the coach-and-horseless at home. Not that it stopped everyone. Indeed, on her way to Euston she saw more than one accident involving driverless coaches which had simply driven straight into the conveyance in front; in one case a brewer’s dray, which led to the unexpected acquisition, by a certain local element, of three of the barrels while the drayman remonstrated with the horseless’s passengers.  

Leaving behind the chaos, Abraxas trusted to Good Old British Vermways as the omnipresent advertisement suggests.  It was the morning rush-hour, and the new umbrellas and bowlers vied with top-hat-and-tails.  Abraxas, in her late father’s frock coat and with her hair pinned beneath a rather gaudy turban, attracted more than one shocked glance.

An old woman in the station entrance was selling oysters three for a penny.  An enterprising youth was attempting to pry the turnstile coin box by means of a discarded shell.  Abraxas added to the potential bounty by one-halfpenny and descended into the great subterranean network wherein she was conveyed (albeit to the strains of the mouth-organ) with a minimum of fuss to The British Museum.

Abraxas left the public area of the museum quickly behind her and, after slipping past a red velvet rope, entered the ‘Dr. Archimedes Archon memorial gallery’ with her customary excitement undiminished.  Seen, like this, from the mezzanine, the room looked like nothing so much as a vast train station, with porters and their wheeled barrows swarming with no discernable pattern, tending to the leviathan of metal, steam and glass at its centre.  The porters were, she noted, contriving to find occupation in this half of the vast shed only, the ‘business end’.

Abraxas doffed her father’s coat and ran lightly down the steps to the machine.  The great stone floor beneath her hummed.  Two of the nearer ‘porters’ (each porter a PhD, at least) nodded to her and resumed their occupation, polishing a small brass commemorative plaque.  Her father’s 1000 qubit quantum computer, given form long after his death during the earliest testing phases, was finally finished.

When the porters had all gathered, Abraxas gave a brief speech. A simple test had been arranged – the machine was to factorize 291,311.  Finally, with a lack of ceremony these serious men appreciated, Abraxas switched on the machine.  

The whirring grew louder.  There was a nearby whirring of cogs, the almost-effortless shifting of well-oiled gears.  Farther distant in the vast space, through a slightly smoky haze, there was just the impression of movement, of potential; the impression that a certain dormancy was about to end.

Abraxas didn’t know how long the machine would take to produce a result and, in any case, she was not experiencing time in the usual way.  Certainly, she had been holding her breath; her lungs reached their limit and she let out a rush of air.  She was not alone; the effect was of a collective sigh.

Fully half the machine was now invisible through a haze of heat and smoke.  Abraxas held her finger over the small switch that gave power to the machine, ready to turn it off if fire were detected.  A couple of the crowd remembered themselves sufficiently to grasp fire buckets filled with sand in readiness.

The room grew darker.  The machine grew louder and the floor hummed with a higher frequency.  Then, from the empty half of the room, through the gloom and darkness, there echoed footsteps.

A frock coat.  A top hat.  Those were her first impressions.  Abraxas’ initial thought was that a gentleman had taken a wrong turn while searching for the Elgin Marbles.  She was about to tell him, firmly, to step away from the machine.  But he was gesturing to her, telling her the same thing.  And through the gloom she saw her father’s distinctive side whiskers, and she knew.

She knew, but she didn’t understand.  Her father, who had been dead 5 years.  Her finger hovered over the off switch, shaking.

“It’ll do no good, Abraxas,” her father said.  “It’s too late to turn the damn’ thing off now.”  It was the first time she had heard her father swear.

The men around them were frozen as though time itself had stopped.  Sand trickled over the lip of one of the fire buckets to form a heap on the floor.

“All we can do is leave,” Dr Archon said sadly.  He addressed the men around them.  “You should all leave as soon as possible.”

“Leave London?” Abraxas asked, confused.

“Leave the whole damn galaxy, if we can swing it.” Dr Archon replied.
Transverse
FFM day 6

Challenge:


Bullet; Purple  Element 1. Verne-acular:

Root some aspect of your story in an area of real scientific research.  (driverless cars, quantum computers)

Bullet; Purple  Element 2. Might-as-Wells: 
Add something fantastic to your story, and use the addition to say something about today's society in the process.  (we're all doomed)
Bullet; Purple Element 3. Party Like it's Yesteryear: 
Colour your setting with a bit of that old 1800's flair. You don't have to base your story in Victorian times, or even set it on this planet, but let's try and keep the aesthetics of your world somewhere between post-Industrial to 2nd World War in style.
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[REDACTED]
Today's story is about omission.

If today's story had a name, it would be called Glenda.  It would be 55 words old, would live in Rotherham, and would be a school governor.

Today's story has seen Dirty Dancing 108 times, because nobody puts Glenda in the corner.

Today's story cries sometimes when nobody is watching.
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Tom O-the-Wisp’s axe whirls.  You don’t see it fall, but feel the thud; the frenzied air fills with splinters of chestnut and fairy-sweat. “When Mab tells you to build a coach, feller, you frigging find an axe – or gnaw a tree down with your teeth, if you must,” he comments.  The nut is cracked to shards (we’re prone to this; the least wedge of reality, the lightest mallet tap).

I paint from life, when life doesn’t intrude (with rattling and moaning, jeers, howls &c.).   My brush can’t keep up.  It’s bedlam in here, Tom, I say, and sink into a reverie.  Away with the fairies, I’m telling you.

A heavy-booted tread and Tom (poor little fart) disappears.  Called away on another job, perhaps.  They work him like an Irishman.

The warden makes his rounds and lights the lamps.  The twilit garden fades and lunatic reality crowds in.  I rinse my brush.

This place could get you down, of course, but luckily I’m on day-release.
Nutcracker
Written for FFM Day 4: CHALLENGE.

The challenge was to write about a 'little known' historical figure, in less than 300 words, starting in media res.

I wrote about Richard Dadd and his painting The Fairy Feller's Master Stroke.  Dadd was incarcerated in Bethlem Royal Hospital after killing his father.  Probably not particularly obscure, but the two people in the FFM chatroom when I asked hadn't heard of him, and that was good enough for me.

Do read Dadd's poem about the painting.
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A month in which I shall use the laptop which has lain unused since last July. A month in which anyone who was watching me and is still here may be spammed to buggery.

A month of flash fiction.

Just when you thought it was safe to go into the forum.

:evillaugh:

Should futilitarian...? 

32%
22 deviants said Continue her inexorable slide into alcoholism and have another glass of wine because Friday and because the wine left in the bottle looks lonely.
30%
21 deviants said Troll the forum.
19%
13 deviants said Write some shitty story or something.
7%
5 deviants said Write some shitty poem or something.
7%
5 deviants said Other. Please expand.
4%
3 deviants said Watch some shitty TV or something.

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:icondomaex:
Domaex Featured By Owner Jul 5, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks for the favorite!!
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:iconabcat:
AbCat Featured By Owner Jun 27, 2016   Writer
Eh, by gum!
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:iconlemontea:
lemontea Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2016
:llama:
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:iconbrassteeth:
brassteeth Featured By Owner Oct 17, 2015
I have been reading your works. This function has led me to this feedback.
You are seriously fucking talented,
Or you are fucking seriously talented.
Not sure. Note sure it matters.
Not sure about the whole goddam universe, as an illusionistic hologram. So....

Chris.
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:icondead-now:
dead-now Featured By Owner Jun 4, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
You've changed your identity.
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:iconchadwood:
chadwood Featured By Owner May 30, 2015   Writer
Just browsing and found your page.  Awesome.  +follow
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:iconcrumpetsharvey:
CrumpetsHarvey Featured By Owner May 24, 2015   Writer
But how will I know who you are any more?
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:iconfyoot:
fyoot Featured By Owner May 26, 2015   Writer
You shall know me by my forum trollery.
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:iconcrumpetsharvey:
CrumpetsHarvey Featured By Owner Jun 13, 2015   Writer
Yeah okay :P
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:iconlexissketches:
LexisSketches Featured By Owner Apr 25, 2015
Just stopping by to say hello :hug: Have a wonderful day!
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