Monday, 31 August 2015

Microsequel Monday: 2084

2084
Art Attack!, ten years on
Mark Harding
This micro-sequel takes place ten years after the events of “Art Attack!”, first published in 2007, and was written to celebrate the tenth anniversary of TFF. If you want to see more fiction like this in the future, please support our fundraiser where you can pre-order the celebration anthology, by tomorrow.

It was a bright cold day in April and the apples were bleeping thirteen. Frankie Smith, his chin nuzzled into his breast to escape the vile Edinburgh wind, slipped quickly through the glass doors of the starbucks.

The lights were off, but everyone understood there was no alternative if Starbucks was to achieve the quarter’s profit forecast. The queue for the starbucks machine was mostly women, mostly on email, spending their mcbreak with their children to top up their loyalty points, rushing their fractious toddlers round McDonald’s, Starbucks, Greggs.

The machine dribbled a tobacco-coloured liquid into Frankie’s stained loyalty cup. His chest swelled: how well they had all done to keep down the price of starbucks!

His apple angrily buzzed his backlog of netfix holoshows, he’d ran out of excuses for avoiding Dissident Hunter. But the apples were chiming the 5 Minute Love. Saved by the bell!

Everyone knelt, hands clasped before their breasts, apples borne in obeisance. The Amazon Leadership Hangout began:

O let us work harder
O let us work longer
O let us work smarter
And above all, let us do all three

A woman burst into tears as they chanted.

O let us insist on the highest standards

The weeping spread.

O let us be self critical
And above all, let us deliver results

Such wisdom! Such insight! The women sobbed uncontrollably now, olay running, garniers messed, dirtying their pradas on the grubbiest patches of the floor.

Next: the montage of heroes of post-industrial capitalism, each woman shouting to prove her employee loyalty.

Steve Jobs (Maestro!), Rupert Murdoch (Such charisma!), Jeff Bezos (Master!)…

Frankie forced his eyes to his apple. He should be harnessing his mind solely for business benefit. He tried to hold his private thoughts at bay.

…Mark Zuckerberg (Sweetie!), Sepp Blatter (Genius!), Donald Trump (Sexy!)…

Was he capable of love anymore? he wondered. He professed love, but was it real? Rupert, Jeff, Sepp. Donald Trump! If he couldn’t love gods like these, who could he love!

Frankie shivered. A woman—bans perched in her hair—was watching him. Could she somehow see inside him? Was she an Anytime Feedbacker? A Mystery Shopper?

The Love ended. Frankie cheered, plunging into a fantasy of contentment. He imagined watching Dissident Hunter, agreeing to how they portrayed him, no longer confused between his memory of those times and the holo he saw, no longer doubting the truth they told him. He imagined washing away the grit in his mind. At peace at last.

Tears blurred the view of his apple. Why had he been so stubborn? But he could win the victory over himself. He could love them.

‘Do you have a match?’ It was the girl with the bans

Frankie started. ‘I’m sorry. I’m not allowed to smoke… I have a medical certificate.’

‘Here.’ She handed him box. ‘Keep them.’

The buzzing of his apple unheard, Frankie stared at the matches, thinking of the fire he could light.

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