:: Fiction archive ( 2000-2005, click for articles pre-2006)

The Revelation at the Rampart published 10/09/2012


A dead world. Of course they had both fantasized about it, though not in a post-apocalyptic way. Their thoughts, when they ran together as in this moment with the shared cigarettes on the roof of Evelyn’s flat, conjured a world devoid of the objects that gave rise to artifacts and then to meaning. How to think without thinking, and would a dead planet make such a thing possible? Back then the Empire had just deployed the first generation of drones-as-birds, and they hadn’t figured out how to land them in trees yet, and the whole thing was comical, really, to watch them try to perch on a branch only to end up tangled and dying there, depowered, until one of the freelance retrieval units came to bag them and return them at the depot. It was Evelyn who first spoke about how the drones might very well be the first step in the direction of lifelessness.

The fifth instalment of a six part story by Nicholas Rombes.

»

J Krissman in the Park published 06/09/2012

His outfit was absurd on an old man in midwinter: knitted ski cap, secondhand coat of good quality and bright white trainers. Privately, to conserve warmth, he was bandaged in a winding sheet of thermal underwear and tubular medical crepe. The frail knees were anointed with menthol. J Krissman, the name with which he signed his unpublishable writings, experienced his body as an immediate area of seepage and discomfort. His organs however persisted with their functions, such as the filtering of his urine; the skin shed its comet dust of dead cells. Also the skeleton, the specific diagram in bone laced with dainty capillaries, advanced him through the black, green and copper-tinted urban park.

By Laura Del-Rivo.

»

Swallow published 05/09/2012

So different from the ugly squawking and unimaginably bright colours of the birds back in Africa, I feed them with scraps, seeds and stale chunks of bread like an infamous Sunday Mail rodent lady. Once the pigeons and scavenging seagulls have fought and shrieked and taken their pickings the smaller birds arrive onto my windowsill, poised and pretty, still-framed on the edge of time. I watch and wait for one more Spring when the first migrating swallow with its long tail feathers will arrive from the East and dart across the sky like a small boy’s perfect paper plane gliding on a gust of wind.

By Alan McCormick.

»

The Revelation at the Rampart published 03/09/2012


Bronson knew the answer, had known it since he first received his instructions: he was being sent to the wall not to repair it, but to destroy it. The age of symbols was over. They weren’t real enough, and what wasn’t real no longer existed. Representation itself, of what use was it other than to obscure the real? The wall, at one time, had been a symbol of something, but what? This ambiguity was precisely what had saved the wall from destruction. As long as its meaning was unclear, the Empire could care less whether it existed or not. But once the wall again began to assume the shape of meaning and assert itself as something, it posed a threat. Reattached to a referent, the “wall” spiraled out of the tight, pressure-locked linguistic controls of the Empire. Meaning begat meaning.

The fourth instalment of a six part story by Nicholas Rombes.

»

Dark Angel published 31/08/2012

In the sky it seemed that modern jazz riffed the location of American style jeans to youth wanting to be cool. Mr Angel was not permitted to hear the piano, wind instruments or hissing drums. He had bought the jeans because during the school half term his son had come with him to the wholesaler’s cigar smoke-filled cave under the arches of Liverpool Street station. The same reflective London sky had shone on the substantial aesthetic of pigeon-hued masonry and the new insubstantial aesthetic which used the elliptical parabola of a flying saucer and the structure of an atom. The boy was undistinguished except that the irises of his eyes resembled cut and polished stones of turquoise.

By Laura Del-Rivo.

»

The Revelation at the Rampart published 25/08/2012


The lack of objects on the horizon intrigued and then spooked Bronson, who recalled the plane of immanence from his useless theory-training, the horizontal moment of thought and all that. He understood that in order to repair the wall he would have to destroy it, tear it down to the foundation. That was prerequisite for the emergence of any new System. He would need to get to the root of the infection. In this phase of the Empire’s long collapse, to be an engineer, as he was, meant to be a destroyer, not a designer, of objects.

The third instalment of a six part story by Nicholas Rombes.

»

Things to Tell a Therapist at the First Appointment published 21/08/2012

The summer she is fifteen, Laure smokes her first joint with Johnny, who is on the swim team with her. Nothing happens except that she doesn’t get high and tries to pretend that she did while secretly wishing they weren’t sitting in scratchy brown grass that is giving her red welts all over her legs. She plays it cool while Johnny puts his tongue in her mouth and his hand inside her shirt, trying to enjoy the importance of her first kiss — but when she gets home she is shivering, brushes her teeth three times and runs a hot bath, staying in until the water runs cold and her mother sticks her head in the bathroom door, saying, “I thought maybe you’d drowned!”

By Anna McCormally.

»

The Revelation at the Rampart published 17/08/2012


This is not a post-apocalyptic tale, a tale of what happens after the end of the world. The theorist in Bronson understood this, about the story he was in, understood that the end of the world was really a reactionary fantasy, the dream of thin-blooded tyrants, spun into popular narrative by writers and artists and movie makers. The landscape around him—the broken roads and disfigured buildings and polluted rivers—was not some dystopian fantasy of the slate-wiped-clean, but something far more dangerous: things as they are.

The second instalment of a six part story by Nicholas Rombes.

»

The complexity of touch published 14/08/2012

Give her the look, he thinks: the look. Women like the look, initially, because it is an attempt at illustrating power, whereas it admits of no power, or, rather, another power, one of gentle subtlety and of beauty: their own.

He first constructs this sentence in his mind, using words he has learned over the duration of his short life to give some logic to his experience. Satisfied, he then lifts up his pencil and then he opens his notebook, and he writes the sentence down. He takes his time while writing, careful to replicate the thought exactly as he first thought it. He is aware of some necessity for it to be remembered exactly as it was first constructed in his mind.

Then, finished, he puts his pen down, and he looks up and he looks at her.

By Alan Cunningham.

»

The Revelation at the Rampart published 10/08/2012


Bronson had been assigned to repair a remote part of the wall, in an obscure area of the Empire. The notice had come, like it always did, in the curiously old-fashioned form of a note in a sealed envelope beneath his door. It was there in the morning, a simple folded slip of paper in the envelope with the coordinates, a time-line, an all-zones passport, a contact number, the familiar list of instructions, and a credit card. If this sounds mysterious and romantic, the stuff of spy novels, then consider that Bronson was a mere field engineer, a repairer of structures, part laborer, part designer, part theorist.

The first instalment of a six part story by Nicholas Rombes.

»