Brains

I found a brain on the street. It was living, you could feel it gently pulsing in your hand as you held it. It was a bit bigger than a cat’s brain, and a bit smaller than a human one. No idea how it got there, or who’s head it fell from.

I bought it home with me, and put in a saucer of milk.

I didn’t know what else to do with it.

Slowly, it sucked up the milk, and in the afternoon, I could have sworn I heard it smack some invisible lips and go ‘aahhhh’.

So I gave it some more milk.

And it drank that.

And said thank you very much.

Later, it asked if there was any chance of a cup of tea. So I made a pot, poured some into one of those big coffee mugs for frothy coffee, and let it soak in the milky tea. The brain asked for sugar.

We sat together at the table for dinner. I had pasta, and the brain had cat food. I wasn’t sure what else to feed it, but it seemed happy enough to eat it. No idea HOW it ate it, but ate it it did.

It fell asleep around my feet above the bed covers, and woke me at dawn wondering it there might be something for breakfast.

We’ve settled into a routine now. The brain can be most demanding if its feed comes a little later than normal. And when I’m watching telly, the brain sits on the coffee table, staring at me with an air of disdain, and occasionally calling me a fat lump of fuck.

And yet, I let it stay.

I hate my brain.

And my brain hates me.

This Old Town

There’s a lot more to this old town than I ever really knew. It’s been redeveloped over and over again, but there are still clues to its past, hints everywhere I walk. The more I learn, the more of its secrets it gives up to me.

There’s a small field in the middle of a sixties housing estate that I used to play on as a kid. When I was little I always thought it was most considerate of the town’s folk to have made such an area for us to kick a ball about. Turns out there used to be a massive brickworks here, billowing out smoke as it baked the bricks, giant stacks of the things towering over everything. And this field, it’s the old clay pit. They filled it in and were scared houses might sink if they built on it.

Bath Road isn’t called that because it somehow ended up in the old spa town in Somerset. Makes sense in retrospect, as it’s only a few hundred yards long and culminates in a dead end. You don’t think about these things as a kid. There used to be an outdoor public baths there.

You can see the old arteries beneath the new ones. 80s roads that suddenly have pockets of ancient buildings on them. A shopping precinct built around an old cobbled street. Fading signs for the Ironmongery high up on the facade of what’s now a fusion restaurant.

Then there’s the crash site.

We used to wander along the bank, tree-lined now, and what we called the old railway. Logically I knew there was probably an old line that ran through there, but it never occurred to me there must have been a big station and turn table where the supermarket now stands.

I always thought the crash site was where a speeding train had derailed.

It’s like a dip in the middle of a housing estate. It’s covered with grass now, but there’s a bump at the bottom that I always liked to think was the buried remains of the stricken steam engine.

Not so.

The ship crashed in the sixties.

The creatures emerged and started eating the townsfolk. By the time I was born and the eighties were a footstep away, we were all their off spring.

I’m a stranded alien child, growing old in a town that we once destroyed.

I can never leave.

Reflections On The Past

Harold avoided mirrors. He’d learned to do so over the years, because something disturbing was reflected within them.

Where other people looked into a mirror and saw a reversed image of themselves, Harold saw something else.

The first time he’d seen himself in a mirror, he was so freaked out that he cried for a week. He couldn’t understand why other people didn’t look at themselves in a mirror and scream out in terror.

The reverse image that Harold saw was hard to explain to anyone, and so it was easier to just ignore mirrors entirely. He’d learned to shave with his eyes closed. He never cared how his clothes looked, or how his body looked. Anything to avoid seeing what was staring back at him.

Harold only saw himself in a mirror.

But reversed.

Not in space.

But in time.

At the age of three, he saw himself reflected back as an eighty seven year old man.

When he was ten, he saw an eighty year old man.

At fifteen, it was a seventy five year old.

After that, he managed not to look in a mirror again for years.

Things changed when he was forty.

The ironic birthday badge on his chest, announcing his age in numbers was a silly gift from work colleagues. The constant marking of time was the bane of Harold’s life, but he grinned, and bore the badge being pinned to his shirt.

And like he always did when it all became a bit too much to handle, he retreated to the toilet. He didn’t have a weak bladder. He had a weak capacity for socialising. He’d learned at a young age the best way to cope was to retreat for a moment. And the best excuse for a retreat was a piss.

Bathrooms have mirrors. And he had become adept at avoiding those. Except that day. That day he walked in, his eyes up, and caught a glimpse of himself reflected on the wall.

What stared back at him wasn’t so terrifying. A little more wizened maybe, a few more grey hairs, and a badge on his chest that said he was 50 today. It wasn’t too horrifying at all.

And so, once a year, on his birthday, he examined himself in the mirror. On his 45th anniversary, he saw himself in the reflection for the first time ever.

And hated what he saw.

From then on, as he aged, his mirror image got younger.

We watched his youthfulness grow, watched the energy, the spark, the drive, and resented all of it.

It became overwhelming.

He’d stare at that runt in the mirror all day long, smiling back at him with a vim and vigour that made him sick to the stomach. But in those sparkling eyes he saw something dark. Something sinister. He saw the look of betrayal at a wasted life.

And so, from both ends of his time, before he passed into dust, Harold’s life was nothing but resentment.

*Batteries Not Included

There’s a drawer in her house that she never opens anymore.

It was a good idea at the time.

In her youth Ruth had a lot of energy. Too much really. She got a lot done, and at the end of the day, she’d still have the vigour to want to do more. So she put that verve to good use.

When everything else was done, she sat down and designed a machine. Then she built the machine.

And when it was done, she put the machine to use.

As the day came to an end, every day, she plugged herself into the machine and extracted all the excess energy she still had, decanting it into little vials that sparkled and fizzed. Each one she carefully placed in the drawer, smiling to herself that when the day came that lethargy took over, all she had to do was swig back a vial, and she would be reinvigorated.

Except, it never quite panned out that way.

It was such a lovely feeling, putting away those vials each night, that she couldn’t stop doing it. Even when the day was long and her reserves were spent, she plugged herself in, and made the effervescent vial.

And so each night, she was even more tired, and in spite of everything, she sucked out what little energy she had left and put it away for a rainy day. Soon she was passing out from exhaustion as the machine did its work.

Now, when she needed it the most, she didn’t have the energy to get to the drawer.

The Silent Invasion

It’s the secret no one knows is a secret.

People haven’t died trying to expose the truth. There’s not a shadowy cabal of men in rooms conspiring to keep the secret. There’s no clandestine agency tasked with keeping the truth from the public, using mind erasers or anything.

Earth has been invaded.

Revealing this won’t put my life in danger.

We have been invaded in the the most passive way imaginable.

They landed two hundred years ago. And we didn’t even blink an eye.

It looked like a heavy hail storm. Big, impressive, but not big enough or impressive enough to have been recorded.

Their DNA seeped into the soil, and years later, they sprouted, small at first, but then bigger. Clever things, they began to mimic something that soon surrounded them. They spread their seed, and looked different in different places.

Here, they were red. In Europe, they became yellow. In the US, blue, and in China green.

They stood there, planted to the spot, unable to move, just watching us for decades.

And we fed them.

Every day we pushed our most intimate thoughts into their mouths. They devoured them, and regurgitated them to look untouched. They learned everything about us. Our desires, our secrets, our financials, even where we had been on our holidays.

And they’re still there.

While we keep on feeding them.

We pass them every day. Even if we do use them less than we used to.

If they had thumbs, they would have wiped us out. If they had teeth, they would have eaten us.

As it is, they just read our mail.