beauty, fiction, love, short fiction, women





I had to go out. That meant a full hazardous materials suit to avoid the possibility of airborne contagion. That diagnosis was the last full piece of information I had before CentCom went offline but I still did the work they asked of me.

Isherwood Syndrome.

I believed it was a prion. A protein that recruits other proteins to reproduce. It measured up with the autopsy results of the first few cases. Brain matter with gaping, black lesions that oozed a sticky black pus. I remember showing Miriam the footage as we packed to get on a plane and she ran to the bathroom to throw up.

I remembered lots of things, but not enough. Never enough.

Things to remember:
How her nose would wrinkle when she laughed.
Chocolate coconut balls.
1 packet of plain sweet biscuits.
1 x tin of sweetened, condensed milk.
2 x tablespoons of cocoa powder.
1 x cup of desiccated coconut.
Crush the biscuits, mix with the milk, cocoa powder and three quarters of the coconut. Mix until stiff. Shape and cover with the remaining coconut. Leave in a fridge for thirty minutes.

I went through two airlocks and a tunnel before emerging into the centre of Norwich. We had established it six months ago. There were twenty-five of us.

I was alone now.

There was a regiment of smart drugs, ate a strict diet and took exercise. Made myself do sudoku puzzles and I had been teaching myself languages to ensure a minimal level of brain function. I smoked until the air was blue and my fingers stank rather than sleep.

I hate fucking.

The puzzles. Numbers in boxes and you have to make them add up to something.

I should have remembered that.

I kept walking.

Listening back to old recordings we had made, it occurred that once I went, that was it. Animals had made it through unscathed but otherwise homo sapiens had left the stage forever. Before, if you died, someone would remember you. At the worst, acknowledge you in some abstract fashion. If intelligent life found the recordings that would be something to take away with me but my imagination had died from starvation. I had forgotten so many things in my life but I clung to one set of memories above all else.


Things to remember.
Our safe word was curmudgeon.
Chocolate Balls.
1 packet of biscuits.
1 milk.
3 spoons.
Mix it up.
Leave for half an hour.

Norwich was always beautiful but collapse had created new ways of showing it.

I wanted to use a word, but it had escaped me, staying just out of reach.

Just tired, I told myself.


There were animals. Like in those places where they kept them behind bars to keep them safe.

Packs of dogs who could stop pretending.

Grass grew in the cracks between the paving stones. Higher than my waist in some places.

I walked past Chapelfield. It was the first place I took her when she worked.

At the teaching place.

No, not school.


I had that feeling you get when you couldn’t find your phone.

University. She was teaching American Literature.

We had met.

Things to remember:
I would hold her afterwards because she would cry.
Leave it.

We had a drink. Hot and made with beans that were ground into powder.

Some things would never fit. Words.

I had that wash over me until I was drowning in it.

She was my baby.

She was a baby.

I sat down, my heart was racing.

It was that day, too.

Coffee. Too much coffee.

She died pissing herself and she did not recognise me. She did not see me and I wanted that to be the last memory she took with her but it was too cruel to give me that.

I offered her pills, but she did not know how to take them.


The clothes I wore were heavy and they smelled bad. I did not know where I was and it was getting dark.

Things howled and made me cry.

Everything made me cry.

I lived in a safe place.

I sat on the pavement and cried. A thing with four legs and a tail licked my face plate. It left a smear and sniffed me before it went away.

Tired. I laid down.

People used to stop and ask if you were okay if you did that.



Green eyes.

I closed my eyes so I could see them.


Her lips tasted of coconut.

Nothing fits in them.


How her nose would wrinkle when she laughed.


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