Post Suffrage

I am sure we are a post-suffrage state. Less and less people vote in general and this seems to be especially true among the younger generations which I sadly think I have just exited in terms of age. People seem willing to ignore their hard won right and look the other way, surely politicians must understand this is fundamentally harmful even if it is expedient right now.

In the UK this state of affairs probably means that the Tory party are going to clean up by default for the next few elections. Labour has lost Scotland (thanks to Ed Miliband for working with Cameron and giving the SNP such a free run). The SNP seem pretty nonchalent about achieving anything, and Labour are in complete free fall. Boundary changes have underlined changing population statistics and it looks like the country has turned blue. Fair play to the Tory party, the past seven years has been a master stroke of loading the deck even if Brexit didn’t quite go Cameron’s way.

Twenty years time though, twenty years time from now when all the Baby Boomers are dead or senile, the country might start drifting leftward again as the populace who do vote reveal themselves to be middle aged anarchists activated and radicalised by Russel Brand.

Mr Brand (who I think is great) politicised huge swathes of the online world with the Trews and Revolution. The one thing about becoming politically aware is that you are unlikely to become non politically aware. Once Politics bites and you find that you do care about it you don’t really stop caring. People may drift around looking for different answers or representation in other places but people seldom turn their back on it absolutely.

How joyful it would be if the next generation of middle managers and accountants revealed themselves to be latent anarchists with a taste for green energy and spiritual awakenings. We’re going to need something to twist the narrative, because it looks like we will be closer to the end of the next decade before we see a non Tory government. If the pattern is for less people to vote, we have to start hoping that those who do are truly radical rather than conformist.



Cyberpunk Roleplay

A lot has been written about Donald Trump recently, a lot figuring him as some sort of nightmare dystopian avatar come lighting rod conducter for evil and for all that is wrong with the world, and I don’t really disagree. I  do think the situation is more complex and interesting than that. I’m going to talk a little bit about that through the medium of cyberpunk roleplay games.


First off, cyberpunk is not counter culture, not any more. It is absolutely a product and I believe reflective of the society that produces it. There was a brief time where it existed in a niche area of science fiction, but it has become heavily commercialised and has changed to reflect the reality in which it was produced. If you can buy music and computer games themed around something, its not a counter culture product. It is simply a style.


So, as above, I was thinking about Cyberpunk roleplay games recently, Cyberpunk 2020 in style and theme is very eighties and is ultimately about embracing free market capitalism where Player Characters provide services to the market, it is a fundamentally libertarian setting. It matches the predominant culture of the time, it does not offer transgressive ideas.


Shadowrun is very nineties and envisions this weird activist culture where everyone (or at least cybered freelance hackers and mercenaries) has a cause and is struggling against “the man”. It is this odd blend of anarchist theory mixed with middle class politics and a lot of social justice stuff with themes of identity and integrity being compromised by a hostile technology. It is very much about individuals being able to change the world and disrupt the plans of business monoliths and that there is a value and place for the individual. Shadowrun is very effective in discussing attitudes to racism and class and has some legitimately interesting insights whilst simultaneously misunderstanding or misjudging major issues around it.

Shadowrun reminds me of news stories of Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd, Swampy the eco warrior and news headlines of hackers (or what people imagined were hackers) compromising credit cards. Unspoken at the heart of everything is an absolute compliance and engagement with the system hand in hand with a contradicting belief that an individual’s actions, the personal as political represented some kind of meaningful rebellion. During this time, recycling passed from a radical activity to a day to day performative function. Again cyberpunk of the time reflects mundane reality.

This time was the start of our engagement with the internet, a tool that should have set us free and made information limitless, but as Thoreau put it, we became tools of our tools.


Contemporary cyberpunk games are bleaker and there is no longer a struggle against “the man”. Technology and business proliferates and dominates, and the PCs sit in a gap within the already conquered world waiting for a chance to react to what the neoliberal order has achieved. There is no question of turning the clock back or progressing to something else, this is what we have now. e.g. Corporation the RPG features the players as the unquestioning servants of a dominating and oppressive corporation carrying out missions to further its agenda rather than to line their own pockets or for an idealistic goal.

The game’s emphasis is on violent action rather than morality or personal motivations because there is no cultural space to discuss these issues within the context of a mission/game session. Surveillance and harsh punishment are assumed in it’s everyday society and everything can be bought, meanwhile punishments can be bypassed by the corporation’s loyal servants. It is a game of the now. Likewise, with the vicious shift of the Overton window, far more conversations have become proscribed than ever before. No longer can certain ideas be discussed because everywhere is watched, by covert infomation gathering or punchy trolling below the line. There is no option to imagine secret transgressions, the question is the extent to which we engage with the system.

We probably do deserve Trump, in that we clearly have the appetite as a culture for what is being offered by him. Those who passionately disagree with him would not dream of raising a fist, a brick or a gun beyond fantasy. The politics of the left and right now deplore violence in terms of direct action and accept the mandate that only the military and police may deploy it. There is no one to truly object and the passivity that our technology demands has rendered us compliant and as a product defined in data points. The passivity that has been created has been through making us comfortable. Everyone is invested in the system now, its just comfortable enough, just diverting enough to be not bothered by other matters. We don’t need to own anymore, but we do need to interact and this now is what we treasure beyond everything else.

The idea that the internet and other technologies would serve reason or truth or be an elevated platform rather than another tool to be misused is firmly over. Internet regulation through partitioning and censorship will likely be the final bullet in the dreamed of body of mass connectivity and bypass of artificial division.

I have always believed that a regime can do whatever it likes unchallenged to it’s population without threat or censure until it starts killing people. Eroding rights is awful but not surprising, its very in vogue right now. I am against it, but like you I am adrift.

Time to hope for a new life in the off world colonies.

Just an Update

I feel good about how my writing is going at the moment. I have “parked” my novel for the time being, I am 73k into it and thinking about how to finish the last incomplete section. It has been a few weeks but the mists are now clearing slowly. I think most of next year is going to be spent redrafting and editing.

More importantly, in the mean time I have been writing more and more little cyberpunk short stories. I am really pleased with these as I have been able to show them to a couple of people more or less finished, get some good feedback and then work them up into something fairly complete. I am going to push these up to ten in total and then put it out on Kindle for £1. Not a huge deal, but it feels like massive progress, writing something I am enthused about that I can see the end in sight with.

In other news, I have basically made my way through work now, last day in the office this year, work social things completed. Nearly finished all of this year’s actual work as well. Gift shopping is theoretically complete, if admittedly not in reality. Train tickets for visiting my partner’s family are in the post apparently, it could all be going a lot worse.

The Meat I Do Not Eat

When I was eighteen and at university I was hit by the suspicion that eating animals was wrong. I tried to become vegetarian, I lasted for three days. I didn’t tell anyone, I was more just feeling out the ground for myself. I was awful at cooking, didn’t really understand food and caved in to repressed carnivorous instinct, slightly sad, slightly regretful.

Over a decade later, a decade of cooking and shopping for myself, I began shopping at my local market. I made the decision and conscious choice to not buy supermarket meat anymore as I suspected it was full of chemicals and the contributing animals had been very badly treated. This way would be better and more virtuous. So in essence, I was swapping out a lot of meat and processing, for less meat that was of a higher quality and bizarrely enough cheaper due to no packaging. It was certainly nicer to eat, it felt good knowing that the animals I was eating were suffering less both in life and death.

I realised eventually that well-meaning as it was, that outlook is wrong. I was obviously still contributing to horrible, horrible cruelty. I began reading vegan and vegetarian cookery books and websites and gradually reducing the amount of meat that we ate at home. My partner used to be a vegetarian for several years and was happy to reduce the meat in our diet.

We now no longer buy meat when we go shopping, I am still in conversation with myself over fish which does seem different for some inexpressible reason, but for 90% of meals at home and at work I now follow a vegan diet. I am aware this does not actually make me vegan, rather an occasional meat eater who normally doesn’t use animal products. .

Part of my issue with true veganism is that it seems like a religion that ignores contradicting facts. One of the things that bothers me when I nip up the road to the local Sainsbury’s just before it closes is seeing piles of meat e.g. chicken thighs heavily discounted and about to go in the bin. For me, that kind of waste of food, especially of something that lived and was only kept alive to be slaughtered is unacceptable, that life, that suffering has been for no purpose. If you attach any sentiment to life then you have to consider the point of meaning in a life and the value of that suffering if it has to take place. Surely it is better for an animal to suffer and provide nutrition rather than to suffer for no reason and be committed to a bin? Both are horrific, but perhaps one is less horrific than the other, especially if you are interceding for some good rather than fueling demand of the horror. So I buy the chicken thighs, I freeze them, every now and again I cook chicken thighs. Thus the 10% of meals that I eat are non-vegan due to either salvaged chicken or discounted fish.

Likewise, in terms of managing a habitat, sometimes a few animals will need to be shot in order to manage the population in that area. The best thing to do in that situation to my mind is again to eat those animals. I suppose the counter point then is “Well why not eat humans when they die?” There isn’t really an answer to that, other than empty ones like how you would be arrested if you tried and that others might object. Is that a reason to not eat those animals from the managed habitat? Surely their lives have been good and the manner of their death divorced from slaughterhouse misery?

Finally, there is a part of me that embraces not conforming to any one diet, from a sense of non conformism to both a label such as veganism and also to resisting an industry instructing me what to eat without considering the consequences to my health and the world around me.

My views are still evolving, I am certainly progressing and I don’t think my journey is over. Perhaps this time next year I will be a full on vegan, though I do struggle with how I will get past the idea of meat being wasted and the horrible journey from cage to slaughterhouse being disposable cruelty unredeemed by grateful consumption.


Another short blog post.

I am against capital punishment for a variety of reasons.

But that is not what this post is about.

The entire time we have been fighting ISIS/Daesh, the media will report on the murders carried out by the group as “executions”. Today, I read about a brutal murder of two innocent people in the UK by two teenagers, again the killers were described as executing the victims.

An execution, from the dictionary definition is something done by a recognised authority, only states and the military can do it. It is a specific sentence for specific crimes.

It does not refer to political or religious murder, it does not refer to any murder. Murder is a crime, not a legal process.

Calling murderers like Jihadi John an executioner in a teeny tiny way legitimises ISIS and gives them a little bit of authority over the area they are presently dominating. I find the idea of capital punishment revolting, but there is a note of sobriety and solemnity, maybe even ritual in the word. The media, applying this to the slaughter of the innocent in any country is just another example of how we are dumbing down as a culture.

We do not recognise ISIS or common killers as an authority so why we extend the word execution to them is beyond me.

Rant over. Carry on.


Post Suffrage?

So allegedly ~44% of the US population able to vote did not.

Apparently ~33% of the UK population able to vote in the EU referendum, did not.

Those are big chunks of the eligible population in both countries who decided not to vote.

Regardless of where you come down on what the outcome of each vote should have been, are we really hitting the point of post-suffrage? Where voting just is not seen as important by more and more of the electorate?

Both of these votes were divisive –there seemed to be few potential voters who didn’t have a strong feeling on one or more of the potential options.

The stats which I won’t cite here as I am at work, suggest that less and less young people are voting, but young people for good or ill will be affected severely by both of these vote outcomes.

In Australia it is a civil offence not to vote, $200 fine.

Would people care if the right to vote was taken away from them?


I feel sorry for the alt-right. The sincere part of the alt-right anyway, not the contrarian trolls who say things just for a reaction and who would dread to be caught actually espousing those views in public; I pity the actual people who really agree with and who really believe the likes of Vox Day, Roosh V, Davies Aurini and Jordan Owen. No one is born thinking that way, for sure you can have a natural character, but something must have happened to you to end up thinking that way. For that at least I feel sorry for them, they have had to make changes and decisions along the way to get there as well but hate is ultimately a personal choice.

Obviously that’s nothing in comparison to those who suffer online and publicly because of the Alt-Right’s views, but still, I think it is good to remember that they are people albeit damaged people. You can have whatever views of the world you like (wrong as I might think them) but when you actually start hating someone you’ve never met, you have lost out on something.

I’ve been aware of the Alt-Right for a little while now, the thing I find most alarming about them is the weird mish mash of libertarianism, hard Christianity, racism and of course misogyny that they are pushing. That each one of these component parts can become a gateway to the others through the overlap of cultural spaces. What can start as a mere misunderstanding of how society works can quickly become a full blown case of anti-Semitism and rape apology.

I was reassured when I looked at the numbers on Twitter and Reddit and saw just how small their followings are, which is probably more of a demonstration of the power of the internet to spread an idea from its darker recesses through to mainstream awareness than anything else and then amp it up and multiply it for media purposes.

In a time when centre right wing feeling is sympathised with and adopted more and more by some parts of society, it is warming to see that the true extremes remain limited, lurking in basements and on moderated forums. Whilst they should be challenged, and challenged robustly it is not the case that they are a true and growing threat, its more the last adolescent backlash of a changing culture howling to anyone who will listen.

The youtube money, patreon cash and similar does seem to benefit a few of them though, who would have thought that the far right would be reduced to that? Effectively begging online! I wonder if the true views of the leading figures are actually a lot softer, that what was once indignant fury has softened despite the revolving cycle of youtube views, donations, crowdfunders and the like; now less to stop a feminist movement and more to maintain a comfortable lifestyle. It’s a cynical view and a harsh one, who would wish to be trapped performing their younger politics for cash, becoming ever more unemployable after each dwindling incoming flush of subscribers?

Its right to feel sorry for them, as long as that sorrow is matched with opposition and mockery. Whether its the great minds behind the Sarkeesian Effect or the idiots below:

Big or small, they hate and they are laughable because of it.


Families are a damn funny thing.

For the longest time, I’ve been relatively disgusted with mine. The orientation varies, who I am bothered by, but I struggle to see much in them. I struggle to see what I accepted and assumed without question when I was young. Is that normal?

I have a terrible relationship with my father, but I realise now that he may be the one that I have most in common with, yet he is the most distant. Or at least he is the most inaccessible to me, who knows what would happen if we were stuck in the same room and forced to communicate.

My mother, as I have briefly mentioned here before, is a hoarder. Following my parent’s divorce she weaponised my brother and I against my father -those two details are unrelated. I understand this now, the fury you can feel for an ex. It was wrong for her to do so and it has undoubtedly impacted on me, but I can’t blame her, not really. My father left her with three children, one severely disabled. He left her for the mother of one of my school friends, someone from the playground.

My sister is dead. Dead. Dead before thirty not because of drugs or suicide or drink driving or abuse, dead because of cereberal palsy. I didn’t know you could die from it, not so suddenly at least. Its wrong to say there is a gap as I don’t acknowledge or speak of her. It seems to be a fifteen year case of shock. You can’t explain that sort of thing, there is no reason to ever raise it with someone. The whole relationship feels like a stomach lurch, invisible to others but dominating to me.

My brother I cannot speak to, each conversation is like screaming underwater at one another. Yet he apes my likes, my musics, my studies and film, always did. Perhaps that is why I find it impossible to speak with him. We are probably more similar than I realise.

This all reflects on me, I am as much to blame, I am chaotic, rage prone and inexplicable to myself and others, just as much as they can be diagnosed for faults and conditions from afar, I too am deeply flawed and unfit to be a brother or son.

I worry about my father, he has landed on his feet. My school friend is taller, darker, so much better looking than I am. He and his sister both have children now, my dad is a grandfather, memories of me are at best the ghost at the feast. I have been replaced.

I worry about my father, he will be seventy next year. He smoked forty a day for thirty plus years. I assume cancer lurks, I assume he will tell me. I haven’t heard from him for a few years now, our abortive reconciliation meetings were pathetic. I was too tongue tied to speak, unsuited to it and appalled at his lechery at a girl ten years younger than me. If he really was dying, I wonder whether he would bother to tell me. I am to all intents and purposes deleted and phased out. We spoke to each other in disbelief at each others perspectives, and I think when my emails after went unanswered I was discontinued.

Nearly seventy. He will probably die in the next decade. I don’t know how it will get worse, but I bet I will find a way. I don’t know if I want a reunion, tearful and forgiving, I don’t know if I want a reunion bitter and unsatisfying. An empty reunion, looking at his wife, behaving angrily and storming out. Or no reunion, looking at an email account, hearing via facebook from my schoolfriend that he has died. Which would be worse? A friendly ending, making up for lost time and squeezing so much in while we still can or an ending where we learn that shared genetics don’t mean cooperation or a reason to be together, that maybe we can choose to lose our own family.

I speak with my partner about her family and I know she and they cannot understand my own position. I envy her, it seems twee, but I envy the obvious love from her parents. I look in disbelief when she cries at them going home after visiting us (this has always happened apparently -its not because I am a diabolical monster to live with), she actively wants to skype and talk to them and her brother.

So I suppose we make such families as we can, I love my partner, I love my cats. I have friends who I have known through good times and bad who seem closer than any blood relation. I do wonder if I will have children, if I will do right by them or if I will manage to follow the pattern and fuck it up for them as well. All we can really do is keep trying and imagine it being better tomorrow and to keep giving, whether there is a reward or not.

I would trade all this dysfunction immediately if I could, I have no idea who I would be but I am sure I would be happier. I am sure they would all be too.


World Mental Health Awareness Day

CN: Mental Health, thoughts of suicide, self harm, depression, anger

There is no fucking way in a frozen over hell that I would post this on my own Facebook.

It is World Mental Health Awareness Day, men and women of all ages have mental health problems, we are in a MH epidemic, there should be nothing but support. We should be able to talk about depression or any other condition in the confidence that we will be treated by others as if we had a physical condition such as a broken leg. That reasonable allowances would be made, time off and support as required.

I have seen a few people sharing their own personal accounts of mental health issues. I would not. I know that I will be perceived as crazy, I don’t want my work to know about my issues. I don’t want the label. I don’t want the comments on the status “Hugs”.

I think I have had depression and anxiety my whole life, the diagnosis five years ago put a name to certainties of reality that have been with me since childhood. I thought I was just confused, frightened, drained, easy to tire but now I could be treated. The pills stabilised me, I no longer felt anything, it was an uncomforting blanket that let me continue existing.

I stopped taking them because of the side effects, I picked up occasional migraines that never occurred before, on the Citalophram my sex drive died, on Propranolol I experienced heart burn that meant I couldn’t move. Valium slurred my words more efficiently than ten pints would. I kicked the pills in to touch, I would rather feel like living murder than be swamped by indifference. I would rather have the chance to be coherent sometimes than permanently muted inside.

I passed into and out of a passage of self-harm. Nothing more needs to be said about it, but the scars still ache and scream to be touched by my fingers and a blade again on some days, but that won’t happen.

Things did get better, and then they got worse. One of the things I obsess about and have always obsessed about is dying, what if I just died, what would happen, perhaps I should just die, have a serious go at strangling myself or something else. These thoughts have been with me forever, normally quiet, and I think they have made me obsessively morbid in other areas of my life but now everything is bleaker and they are louder. I am in a bad period of depression and it is pulling me down, its more or less all I can think about. I obviously won’t succumb to this as I have had three decades of practicing staying alive. Bloody mindedness and getting as far as I have, I am entirely unwilling to give in and toss it away, but it is still so hard grinding through the minutes when I am awake.

Next week will likely be better even if I am still depressed. It won’t be worse than this. That is how it goes, and it makes me angry, angry that it happens to me and so many others. I fucking want to spit at my screen when I see a “Share to let someone know about anxiety and depression” so called uplifting meme. Fuck you and your cultivated identity, fuck you and your crutch.

In a week, it will all be brighter, until it isn’t, again.

Happy World Mental Health Awareness Day!



(Photo credit Leafyishere, taken of somewhere in Seattle. I really like the shot and it seems good and cyberpunk to me)


I opened my eyes.

I was still groggy from the procedure, I could remember that there was a procedure  but not what it was for. I blinked and the anesthetic stain on my senses battered down on me like storm clouds, stay still and rest. To my right I was aware of another body, our vital sign monitors chirped together unevenly like rainfall.

Unlike the bleached air I could feel drafting down onto us both, the other body was full of life. I turned my head and focused on what must be three day stubble and scabbed incisions on the man. The marks tracked into the hairline where a thick white dressing rested. More awake now, I could see that he wasn’t strapped down to his hospital bed, though I was securely fastened to a gurney. He was still unconscious, I watched as heavy breaths pushed his chest up and then down.

I could see a camera watching us both, and was immediately struck by how beautiful it was, all sleek features and silent functionality. I could see its smooth glass lens gleaming from the other side of the room. It began to move and I saw that it was attached to a blue metallic rail that ran up to the spot between me and my sleeping companion.

“You don’t remember do you?” Came a smug sounding voice from a hidden speaker.

The voice was young, younger than me I felt with a sudden flourish of irritation.

“It says here that you never remember.”

A pause. I tried to speak and realised that my mouth was extremely dry, a word rattled and died in the last of the spit still in my mouth.

“So, salient points, to avoid over-stimulation this debriefing will be provided via audio only, you had an operation a few days ago. We paid you, you’re a paid volunteer, alright? We paid you. This isn’t your first time here, you’re what we call a sponge. You, like others in your situation have chosen to undergo memory compression, you make a space via a partition in your head with a little help from us for other memories. Sometimes these are memories that you are asked to create before we operate, we might recently have paid you to go cycling and to ride down a hill at high speed for example. This memory as part of our contract did not legally belong to you. It belonged to an ongoing client of ours, a paraplegic who used to love to ride a bike when she was a little girl and who is prepared to pay to experience new things. A fresh adult memory, taken from a donor and implanted, it makes situations like that more bearable or at least can do. So I am told.”

The voice paused.

“Then there are other uses for compression. Making space to hold regular computer data, not so useful really given the advances in storage. The other main use is parking memories. Memory deletion is difficult, or rather its easy but brain death is a typically unpleasant side effect. Memory swapping on the other hand…we can remove unwanted details from a client’s memory. Painful childhoods, bad relationships, social faux pas, anything really…but they have to go somewhere and something has to replace it even if its unimportant, unused fluff from someone else. We found that connecting two brains directly and in effect swapping the memories or rather swapping something concrete with clutter and noise from someone else in effect tricks the brain, we’re not entirely sure why but that doesn’t matter. Your file says you have had this procedure twenty times so far and you never remember the first talk, but as part of our patient support agreement we have to go through it…So anyway, it is like pressure, the brain needs to retain pressure, remove something and damage that pressure and expect dementia if you are lucky, keep the pressure up, swap something in and you are all good.”

“Remember, you’re a volunteer. We paid you. Even if you can’t remember any more why you needed the money, I’m sure it will come in useful.”

“There are side effects, your recent memory, the days leading up to the operation are typically affected, and whilst this is of course a science, it is hard to be precise. The compression itself makes your own memories hard to access, you’re forgetful or you’ll find that you are. You may thanks to this procedure experience recollections of other people who you do not recognise, strange details and associations with certain objects. The compression procedure you had done made space for all these memories, kind of puts you out of commission as a sponge but you will be well compensated for soaking it all up. Zips are what we call sponges that are full up.”

I smiled thinly at the lens.

“So the new memory or memories I should say, we should talk about that. We filled you up. You are a Zip now. Your co-patient, our client used to be a Zip as well until not so long ago, but they decided to pass the memories that they were holding on, decompress their space and go back to normal memory. Its an expensive procedure, choosing to pass a memory on and we discourage juggling of memories between multiple hosts but this is the third time this memory package has been passed on. Most people who get into the Sponge business don’t have the cash to get out easily and need it for other reasons, you can’t run another compression procedure on a sponge to get rid of something like this it all gets mixed up with your own original memories if you do that. Multiple transferals starts to see the same thing happen, memories become looser and start getting confused. When I was first working here  I would have said its the difference between hard cheese and grated, but that is not quite right. You still following me?”

I croaked out that I was.

“You committed a war crime, or it might feel like that. A few Zips ago, someone committed a war crime. That someone was obviously found not guilty as they wouldn’t have the liberty or the money left for something like this, but they paid to get the memory it out of their head after the trial. This is about as far as we can go ethically before the memory definitively fragments. When you check your bank account you will find full payment, you will be rich. When the nurse eventually comes in to release you -a minor precaution by the way when dealing with traumatic episodes, she will pass you a list of company recommended therapists and counselors who will help you come to terms with your new experiences. She will also help you to start reviewing your memories. Until then I suggest you sleep it off.”

The camera retracted back into its chrome housing on the other side of the room and I slept.

I opened my eyes.

I saw the grey scrubs first of all, leaning over my co-patient and checking what I estimated to be the five day stubble and scabs on his head. The nurse was in her fifties, short hair, slicked back with something oily, and apart from the black makeup around her eyes, no adornment on her tea stain coloured skin. She smiled and whispered that she would be over to me in a moment. I dozed for another moment and felt that I was on the edge of remembering something, something large; I was expectant now that some kind of penny was about to drop and looked up at the nurse eagerly as she approached me. She took a breath and launched into a long explanation to me, her face was lit up and she cooed in the special tone we use for animals and children.

“Your readings are really good, really great in fact. I guess you’re an old hand at this! Despite all that, you probably won’t remember your memory triggers yet, we get everyone to write down some key memories, good and bad, that really cement who they are before they go under. When they come round from the procedure we get you to read them, its like footsteps on the road to remembering! So, take this, its your writing, read it, keep reading it and things should come back to you. Once they come back the new memories should follow on naturally. I’m going to loosen your arm restraints so you can read, but we still need to keep you securely for a little longer until this part of the recovery is complete. Take your time.”

She unfastened the buckles and heavy Velcro, tweaked the sheets and placed the paper on my lap. I blinked hard and picked the paper up and looked at the round characters, the over exaggerated capitals and wondered at who I was. The nurse was leaving, I heard the door swing as she disappeared, and then I was alone with myself and the still sleeping man to my right. I started to read.

Hello Ashley,

Your memory is going to come back in a few days, or at least it always has so far. Your compressed memories are not so great comparatively, though they will seem normal soon. That is why you are doing this, money for therapy to deal with your memories. Your therapist from when you were young decided that you had repressed something. Something bad happened to your family, but all you can remember is them going to sleep one day and then you moving out, to the children’s home. Its been something professionals have questioned you about for much of your childhood, you can’t or won’t remember it, but its impacted on you, you can’t grow up in the system and come out normal. So the money from the Compression sessions is for therapy, putting that right and finding out what its about. The rest of you is straightforward, you love your dog, Milo; your job isn’t bad, its good fun being a courier, you meet new people, learn new routes. That is how you got the tip for this to begin with.  

My head swam, it was an effort to read, each sentence being a jolt as I recalled images, sounds and smells. I lowered the sheet. It felt like there was a torrent of sparks issuing into my brain, flickers of recollection, flickers of memory. I saw my hands, for a second I looked into an ornate mirror and saw the reflection of the man in the bed, handsome, no beard, wearing a suit with music playing somewhere behind him, but he was sad. His eyes looked down and then back up again and again as he struggled to meet his own gaze.

I read the note again and again, other details came back to me but I struggled to access the new memory that had been zipped into me. Again and again I saw my childhood, tugging on my sleeping mother before a woman in a white coat carried me out. The years in the children’s home, the doctors, again and again and then I saw something new.

I jolted hard and sat up with a cry.

I could see my home, I was standing in the kitchen, but I was tall and I held a rifle. Before me, a man, my father struggled as two other men in camouflage held him down. I raised my gun and shot him twice in the chest, because he was a police officer, because he was a target. We strode around the house shooting whoever we saw, then we tossed a fragmentation grenade upstairs and an incendiary downstairs and left the building.

I jolted again and felt my head throb with pain as I made the connections.

I put my hands up to my face in defence, and in mourning for the dead, whose deaths I bore the knowledge of, whose deaths I had witnessed from both sides of the gun. I shook and instinctively turned my head to look at the bearded man now conscious who smiled at me and who smiled at what he could no longer remember.