Books and authors mentioned in this episode:
Simon Ings: Wolves / Hot Head / Hotwire
Phillip K. Dick: Second Variety and Other Classic Stories / The Man in the High Castle
Isaac Asimov: Foundation / Foundation and Empire / I, Robot
Terry Pratchett: Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch / The Color of Magic / The Long Earth
This story was originally published in Unsung Stories and can be found here. Below is an excerpt:
Build a Cat
‘Take me down through the Tangles, James,’ my Sarah said, before she went away forever. I was happy she asked. I took her hand, smiled down. Each time we touched I felt the power of the sickness in her. We walked slowly, wrapped up in each other against the cold.
To the Tangles: our name for where the city began to fray around its edges. In our first few weeks I had taken her a dozen times to deliver on-foot lectures on the topographic cut of our town, where it fell away to terraces, concrete-covered waterways and a deepening grey where foundations mingled.
There was a rise in the landscape first, where the roads tilted up toward the sky and the city loomed like a suburban cliff. A slight veer left and you’d fall off the route to where the centre of things is dressed in chrome and nothing echoes.
She liked it because it was an industrial relic. A dissolving relief: part carved-out and piled-up factory service land, part scrub playing host to ziggurats of mouldering pallets. She saw its levels, the sweep and the playful decay where invisible boundaries collided.
‘It’s a gift,’ she called back as we crunched through the broken glass of a rail shed. Brick arches supported the raised platform. ‘All things fashioned after life possess life,’ she added, repeating for my benefit her treatise: ‘If nature allows itself to be imitated, improved, then it allows itself to be replaced!’
I smiled at the consistency of her argument as she spiralled her arms through curtains of dislodged dust, scared away a dozen pigeons with her cat-calls. Even now I choose to think she saw because I showed her. I had not yet seen this world through her eyes.
You have visited this location eight times, my phone chimed as we began the shallow climb back. There we were on the map: a blue dot on a scrolling view. Like much of what was left here to rot, I knew this record of our passing served no future purpose.
Peter Haynes lives and writes in Birmingham UK. His work has appeared in Unsung Stories, Litro USA, Hypertext Magazine, Change Seven & Every Day Fiction, with work upcoming at Spelk fiction, the nature writing publication Reliquiae Journal and Here Comes Everyone magazine.
Image: Flickr / Amit Gupta