I write short things when I’m not writing novels. Perhaps more than I write long pieces because sometimes a voice comes into your head only for a moment and doesn’t stay around long enough to become a big thing. Here’s a teaser of something I wrote a while back (or a really small piece of it) that I think I still like. It’s quite dark and one time I write “nipple” so enjoy…
My sister thinks I am depressed. She says it’s something to do with the fact I never get dressed anymore. Or rather I never get undressed or dressed, I just wear the same one piece slacks I wore off the station roughly one hundred and fifty six days, six hours and thirty seven minutes ago. Honestly, I’m surprised it took her this long to notice something was up. I thought it’d be the scratches on my neck when she first saw me washing my skin or the way I can’t stand that bloody holo-piano anymore. Something about music summons the shadows in me.
I thought she’d see it in the way I can only eat the base level replicator foods made without flavour or colour. No, she sees it in the way I dress. Always with the outside appearances that one.
I’ll admit the dark blue slacks have seen better days. They probably came off the factory floor with less of a matt look about them, with Minomatic’s logo more a vibrant blue than a dull grey, the zip not so smeared in dried grease it won’t budge from it’s position halfway down my torso just slightly above my left nipple.
Considering what they’ve been through I think they’re in pretty good nick. There’s only one hole that I can find as evidence of the warp incident down by the engine bays. The burnt fabric is maybe an inch in diameter and you can hardly see through to my skin beneath. Gray’s slacks in comparison were blackened, the fabric melting to his skin. Even before we peeled his clothes off and bundled him in the Armity, I knew he was dead. Something in the way his arms flopped as I shook him told me he died right after the flames hit.
I felt myself beginning to switch off, then, in the cool bay of the infirmary listening to the whoosh of the machine as it tried to determine not what was wrong with Gray but where exactly to start making things better. There was too much to choose from. They say the Armity can bring any person back to life if you give it long enough. Course, that’s probably a whisper sent down the lines to give us folk hope that death isn’t the only way out of our profession.
We left him there all the same and I left a part of myself with him. I remember thinking for a fleeting moment of turning off the machine when those piercing lights approached across the comms bridge and I shielded my eyes. I remember that more than what they said as they approached me, handcuffs outstretched. They jostled the dogtags when they were fiddling with the restraints and I remember screaming for a while because it felt they like they were scratching at something raw and weeping. Not a physical wound but something deeper.
The tags still peek out of my slacks now, visible when I lean over the sink to turn on the cleaning program. I know that my sister sees them but she never asks. Her dark eyes, our mother’s eyes, flit only momentarily to the sheets of metal all chained together, not long enough to read them but long enough to count to six. Sometimes I consider volunteering the information. She of all people is surely worth reciting the words. The words behind tags seem too special to just sacrifice to anyone without ceremony, though, and so I wait for her to ask just as she waits for me to speak.