Specimen July 13th

Story by Dan Hekate

Kate Macmillan had been following Specimen July 13th all week. He fascinated and beguiled her in equal measure. It had been months since she had been this intrigued.

Kate liked to follow people, to capture them unbeknownst. She hoped one day to put on a solo show somewhere in Shoreditch, ‘Waking Life’ it would be called. She had decided long ago there would be no interaction with the subject, that only through a lack of information could she portray an unbiased portrait. As a rule she would only follow her subject, her specimen for a day, for no more than two hours and always in a public space.

This week she had broken almost all of her rules. It was now the 19th; she was crouched behind a wrecked Ford Astra with her zoom lens pointed a hundred metres across an industrial marshland as Specimen July 13th rummaged through a skip.

July 13th’s hair was a bush of grey curls that defied gravity as it arched back from his receding hairline. He wore a mish mash of clothes or what first appeared as such, an old waistcoat, a new rain mac, a long wooly scarf. Although incongruous, the items somehow matched, blending together in a murky array of browns, blacks and dark greens. From afar he could easily be taken for a homeless man but up close it was apparent how cared for the clothes were, not that she had got up close. She had used the zoom. She had been careful, Kate was always careful. [Read more →]

Pigeon

The jungle foliage became a mist of green, the sandy floor a streak of brick red. Jamaal’s bare feet kicked up a cloud of dust as he tore down the road. There wasn’t a pigeon in the nest faster than him, but today he was late. He checked the timer on his wrist, he had thirty minutes. It was the short cut through the Itinerant Terminal, or he could kiss his legs goodbye.

Tarpaulins flapped on top of makeshift dwellings formed from planks of wood and pieces of corrugated iron; kids dressed in rags batted a hover ball back and forth with glow gloves that had seen better days. A group of ten IT’s huddled round an old laptop while two women peddled hard on a static cycle power conversion system. Jamaal ran onwards, these were not his people. He looked at outsiders partly through jealous eyes with their liberty to roam, but more than not with a sense of sadness. Yes, they might be free but they were generally hungry, homeless, and susceptible to the elements: vicious sand storms that rose from the West and acid rain that rolled down off the Eastern mountains.

The Terminal disappeared behind him and the path narrowed as it snaked round the side of a steep hill. At the top of the bend stood Shila, a thin girl, one of her front teeth missing and a look of mischief on her face. She was dressed in clothes made from rubbish, the faded logos of long since dead multinationals printed across dirty white straw.

“Where are you going all in a hurry, eh?” she asked.

“I don’t speak to Termites?” he replied.

Shila stretched out a finger and pushed it into his port. A flap of skin that shielded a socket mounted on his stomach. He slapped her hand away.

“Do you even know what message you’re carrying?”

“It’s not for you,” he told her.

“You don’t know what it is, do you?”
[Read more →]

‘These days are not to be missed’ – 1990s Rave and Club Culture in Fiction

Nights out dancing, for all their intensity, leave few visible traces. Immersed in a multi sensory environment of noise, lights, encounters, movements, we emerge with only memories and half-memories. Of course there is a material culture of associated objects – items of clothing, flyers, vinyl – but much of it is ephemeral and on its own tells us little. Once everybody has gone home, the haunted dancehall refuses to give up its secrets.

So perhaps it is not surprising that we turn to the novel to get a sense of what it was like to be there, in different times and places. We turn to F. Scott Fitzgerald for the parties of the Jazz Age, to Colin MacInnes for 1950s London, or even to Jane Austen for the balls of regency England.

The electronic dance music scene that exploded through acid house and rave in the late 1980s and has mutated ever since now has its own library of fictional representations, much of it dating back to the period in the 1990s when the scene in the UK reached its somewhat overbloated commercial peak and publishers like everybody else were trying to get their share of the dance music pound.

The writers of such fictions may not always be reliable narrators – were they participants or voyeurs, or just chancers looking for edgy material on which to build a career? And the perspectives they offer are inevitably partial – as in many domains, male writers seem to be over-represented compared to female, and white voices more dominant than black. But these stories and novels undoubtedly tell us something even if in some cases it might only be how those in the literary world perceived what other people were getting up to at night. There is even an argument that the better writers have got closer to the reality of the experience than more conventional historical accounts. Sarah Champion, who edited the 1997 Disco Biscuits collection of short stories, asked: ‘how can you capture the madness of the last decade in facts and figures?… the true history is not about obscure white labels or DJ techniques or pop stars. It’s about personal stories of messiness, absurdity and excess – best captured in fiction’.

Places and spaces

In fact, much of the content is barely fictional at all with writers frequently referring to (then) actually existing clubs and parties – an obvious device for grounding a story in a specific context, as well as for the writer to indicate that they know what they are talking about.
[Read more →]

Music Makes the People

Story by Dan Hekate from Almanac for Noise & Politics 2015

An array of lights blinked across the gleaming hard black plastic of MooD’s head as slinky welcoming music box sounds came from his hidden speakers. Seth Lindstrum waved his hand in front of the sensor and the door slammed closed.
“What fuck brain ordered me a MooD.” Said the hulking figure of Seth as he strode into the middle of his own welcome home party.
“Are we gonna spend the whole night arguing over whose go it is to load a new tune or let MooD handle the whole shebang?” Said Vince who had served with Seth in the battlegrounds of the Basque country.
“I thought you boys liked toys?” Said Zanda, Seth’s petite fiancé, as she waved her hand in front of the door. MooD entered exuding an Afrobeat and strutting a slow moonwalk.
“I hate those things and now I’ve got one in my pod, it’s like Marky died for nothing.”
“Shouldn’t you be petitioning on MeMe or shining holoboards out in Westminster with the other Ludds?” Said Zanda. [Read more →]

The Bodyshop

bodyshop for datacide

Spent Nuke cartridges, expired bots and other assorted trash littered the street in section 56. Somehow Fiona and Gil had found their way down to the lower levels. Fiona had wanted to show Gil where she had grown up and then they had just started wandering, lost in the moment.

Gil complained he didn’t like going anywhere they didn’t have teleportation facilities. Fiona knew he didn’t like section 56 because it was where all the perps, half breeds, and disjunkts hung out. The fact he put on a brave face meant he cared.

‘You’ve got that look’, said Gil. ‘What is it?’

‘Nothing’. She said

‘What is it?’

‘Nothing. I’m just happy’.

Suddenly out of the doors of a particularly dilapidated and soiled sales outlet ran a man clutching his hand and shrieking at the top of his voice. Gil rushed over to see if he was all right. The man kept screeching, Gil grabbed at his wrist. The man stopped screaming, and looked down at his hand, Gil did the same thing. There was a loud bang as the hand exploded, taking the two men with it. Fiona was covered in bodily fluids and viscera. She did not scream or weep, but stared at the bloody mass that used to be the love of her life.

Two men dressed in mutated lab outfits ran out into the street, and dived into the entrails. Body parts meant creds and Barrington Spliessenhausen was under no illusion that unless they got their hands on some fresh meat he could kiss his latest upgrade goodbye. Krun was just hungry, he quickly found what he was looking for and it was not long before he was happy again, busy masticating on a testicle. A stern attractive woman was close behind her colleagues. [Read more →]

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