REFUGE

Our latest post on Hijacked Amygdala is a comic strip.

hijacked amygdala

Chris R--11Chris R-0001-5Chris R-0002-3Chris R-0003-2Chris R-0004-2Chris R-0005

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HOAX

Chris R-0130 Image by Christine Renney

Harris picked up the envelope along with others that lay on the doormat. He sifted through and on seeing it was instantly intrigued. It obviously wasn’t junk mail or a credit card statement. He opened it first, pulled the single sheet from inside and, unfolding it, he thought, ‘Oh, it’s one of those letters.’
People had been talking about them for months but Harris hadn’t really listened. He had seen one before – a colleague from work had brought a letter, just like the one in his hand, to the office. He had shown it to everyone but Harris, uninterested, had barely glanced at it.
‘It’s just a hoax,’ he had said.
‘But why me?’ his colleague had asked.

Harris looked down at the undecipherable block of letters. He wanted to screw it up and throw it in the bin but he didn’t. His eye was drawn to his own name and address in the left hand corner. It seemed, above the dense brick of letters, so clearly defined.
Harris folded the top section of the page over so as not to be distracted. Looking down again, this time in earnest, Harris studied the code if indeed that was what it was. He was all too aware that many others had already tried, and failed, to break it.
He started to transcribe, leaving a space between each letter because it seemed like a logical way in which to begin, to break it down, lessen it. Harris was only four lines into it and already he felt the throb of a headache beginning. He could see quite clearly that the whole alphabet was here many, many times over. That the potential to make words and to form sentences was huge. Now he was ready to screw it up and bin it.
Harris unfolded the top section of the sheet and realised that the letter contained a few numbers, right there in the postcode. One, five, seven. He counted them off and in the first line wrote out Y O U.
Harris felt a little wave of exhilaration – perhaps he was onto something. He tried the second line and the third and the fourth. But there were no words. The letters were just random. Perhaps these were the ones that mattered, where the answer lay. But the block was identical in all the letters and they had been sent out all over the country, to different postcodes, so how could that be, how could that work?
Harris pushed the letter back into its envelope. He needed to show it to someone but he couldn’t share it at the office, not after he had been so dismissive. He had a meeting after work, he would show it to the others over tea and biscuits. Harris wondered if anyone would be as high and mighty as he had been.

Looking up at the clock Harris sees he has missed his bus. He sits at the table and reaching out he pulls the envelope toward him and gazes down, toying with it.

STRANGERS

Christine and I have a new post on Hijacked Amygdala.

hijacked amygdala

Chris R--10 Illustration by Christine Renney

Only a brief description of the Apartment Block will be necessary. How it is perceived by the Townspeople is far more interesting. By those who pass it each day to and from work and the shops, by those who walk in the park and feel they are imposing, trespassing even, within the grounds of some stately mansion. For it is here when they come to escape at lunchtime or on a summer’s evening; here when families gather at the weekend to picnic and play – this is when the Apartment Block antagonises them the most. From its vantage point at the edge of the park, with its black windows like hoodless eyes, it is all seeing and impossible to ignore.

The Townspeople are proud of their park and all have contributed to the restoration of its centrepiece, the Bandstand, now fully restored to its former glory…

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THE SIGNS

Chris R-0050 Image by Christine Renney

The road signs were still standing and at first this had intrigued Davis. It didn’t make sense to him when everything else had been demolished and flattened, reduced to strewn rubble. The foundations of buildings remained but these were merely platforms of pitted concrete and rotting timbers, of faded linoleum and cracked tiles.
The names of places on the signs; the towns and cities that were now only memories. Over time Davis began to accept this irrelevance, reading and following them as he had before and lost in the distance between he would often forget.
Even the temporary signs had survived, those warning of congestion and road works. Davis followed these diversions although he could see quite clearly that there were no obstructions ahead but it didn’t matter. It didn’t matter how far he walked or for how long.

GHOST LETTER 42

Chris R-2-6 Image by Christine Renney

I awake in the grounds of the Cathedral. Hands in the short and wiry grass, I push myself up and gaze down at the City. I try to pick out the place from which I set out, the one to which I keep on making my way back. But it is so vast, a dense and cubist scrawl. For months now I have been walking further and further from this particular part of the City in order to find an off-licence with an unfamiliar face across the counter. Someone who won’t recognise me as I purchase the bottles and the cans I need. And this time I didn’t turn myself around. I kept on walking for longer than was necessary and eventually I settled down.

Glancing up at the Cathedral I shudder to think that I have slept here in the grass; in this carefully tended, this perfectly and painstakingly manicured graveyard and, that as I did, someone tidied around me, removing the strewn cans, even prizing the almost empty bottle from my hand. Taking it and the last few drops I hadn’t quite managed to drain.

THE ERASER #13

Chris R-2-5 Image by Mark Renney

They are part of the System, all of their names are still somewhere in the records. Only once and it is always something insignificant – a job application perhaps or a club membership.
If one of them has been mentioned in a newspaper report or a magazine article and it isn’t in any way connected to their wrongdoing, to their fall from grace, then Tanner may choose to leave it, to let it slide.
He is unsure now why he had done this, even more perplexed as to why he continues to do so. Tanner supposes that in the beginning he had been testing the System and had expected someone would notice. That someone from up above in the higher echelons would come calling and he would be reprimanded, hauled over the coals as it were.
But this had not happened and Tanner is all too aware that he is way past the point where he can hang his head and apologise for his ineptitude and promise to try harder, to do better.
Tanner is the best of the Erasers, the most vigilant and dedicated and yet he has played Them, whoever ‘They’ are.
His rule-breaking over the years has been so subtle that it has not yet registered.
But the names remain and this is undeniable, it is a fact.