PANIC

hijacked amygdala

Chris R-1-138.jpg Image by Christine Renney

It happened suddenly and without fanfare. Ben looked down at his hands and they were invisible. There had been no warning signs yet he knew instantly he was not going to be able to control this. His invisibility was not something he wilfully conjured, he could not bend and shape it to suit his own needs. It was not something he could switch on and off. No, this was simply how it was going to be.
Ben began to panic and was very aware of this, of the fact that he was panicking and that he was flailing uncontrollably. Ben looked down at his feet, or more accurately his shoes. Reaching with his right hand he grabbed hold of his left wrist and there it was, there he was.
Ben heaved a very audible sigh and he began to panic just a little less and he…

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GHOST LETTER 46

Chris R-1-127 Image by Christine Renney

I have begun to recognise the others that I pass on my route. Their faces have become familiar; men and women, mostly making their way either to or from work. They are visitors. They stay for their shift and then leave, going back to their homes and families, to their lives beyond this place. But, just fleetingly before they disappear into their places of employment they and I collide.
I watch them as they trek toward the smaller units of the industrial estates, built in the Sixties and left to wither. I watch as they shuffle toward the larger factories and warehouses, those that have survived. They seem small and inadequate and I wonder how can they maintain these scarred and decrepit structures. How can so few of them possibly serve these ageing monoliths.

GHOST LETTER 45

Chris R-1-125 Image by Christine Renney

I have been walking this route for weeks now, making my way around again and again. I am not ready to stop, not quite yet, but I have managed to slow down and I am able to loiter and linger and meander, wandering from the road and exploring my surroundings, venturing a little further each time, moving either away from the City or closer to it, but always coming back to here, to this path I am still forging.

I start across the waste ground to my right. The grass beneath my feet is short and scruffy and it is strewn with rubble. I kick my way through it and I feel as if I am breaking the rules, especially this early in the morning when there is no-one else around. I feel as though I am trespassing.

THE FILING CLERK

Chris R-1-120 Image by Christine Renney

Cartwright’s job was dealing with information, but he wasn’t the one responsible for collecting it. He didn’t garner or gather, didn’t even transcribe the documents. When the documents arrived all of these tasks had already been done. Cartwright’s Employers had stressed that it wasn’t necessary for him to understand the info, how it might relate to things in the big wide world wasn’t his concern. His only task was to familiarise himself with it, to read everything and to look at and study the photos, to listen to the audio tapes and to watch the videos.
His Employer’s instructions had been oblique but, working diligently, Cartwright had managed to do what they ordered. Correlating and categorising, he had built an archive, one that he could navigate almost effortlessly. If and when they came a-calling he was sure that he would be able to find the documents they wanted. Even if their questions were cryptic, and all they could provide were a few key words, Cartwright believed that he would be able to locate the correct files and provide the necessary info. But no-one had come a-calling and in twenty years his system hadn’t been tested. Actually, that’s not quite true. He had on occasion been called upon to redact certain info or someone from the files. And Cartwright had always done this happily and, working with a thick black marker, he blocked out the words one at a time, page after page. The fact that he was able to do this so swiftly and efficiently was evidence at least that his system worked.

When he began, twenty years previously, the job had seemed old-fashioned. He had felt as if he were functioning out of time, even more so as the years progressed.
The info was always hand delivered by couriers, bulky envelopes stuffed with sheets of thin typing paper, the text typed on old word processors. And then there were the cassettes: the C60s and C90s and C120s and the video tapes. Sometimes there was something scrawled in biro on the labels or the index cards and sometimes not.
The video footage was mundane, mostly CCTV captures. Cartwright always made extensive notes, describing anyone who crossed in front of the camera, the cars – colour, make and model, registration plates. He included anything and everything, determined not to miss the tiniest detail. The time and date, weather conditions, street signs, pubs, clubs and restaurants, shops, office blocks, company logos – they were all recorded.
The audio tapes were equally as boring, mostly interviews, men and women describing a particular place or a particular person. As he transcribed Cartwright was struck by how similar their testimony was to his own notes on the video footage.
He included as much incidental detail as possible. Voices, accents and cadence of both the interviewers and their subjects. How much the interviewees had to be coaxed or if they gave up the info unprompted and, most importantly, if and when the voices had appeared on other tapes.

Cartwright had worked hard over the years and he had somehow managed to make something from out of nothing. And now instructions had come down from up above. He was to be retired, his services were no longer required. Cartwright wondered what would happen to his archive. Was the info also now redundant and would it simply languish untouched and untested?
He had just six months but it was long enough to do what he intended to do. He would transfer everything onto his computer and when he had uploaded the entire archive onto the hard drive he would post it on-line. Make it available to all and anyone who was so inclined could then test his system, come rain or come shine.