Aerial Fragment: ‘Break’



Ghost Codes 004

Break pops a rhythm tab: pure feverzoom. No clocks, no maps. Only the taste of Dusk on his tongue, waiting for the night to roll in.

Bumps into Candy, standing by the X-Ray Parlour. Misty eyes, neon lip-gloss, electric hair frazzle worked off a battery in her pocket.

She looks a charm, so corporeal it hurts. “Just checking out my veins,” she says, “Making sure I’m clean, you know? Still alive.”

“Candy, you wanna catch a bite?” A plastic sheet slides out the parlour slot showing her lungs and heart and other organs. No shadows.

Candy blows a kiss and leaves. Break stands there frozen: he sure would like to own that X-Ray for a night or two. Total bliss-freak!

Down at his feet old transparency plates lie discarded. All he needs is to earn some credit, get himself reprogrammed, street style.

Maybe then the Real-Life Human Girls would love him. I mean, what’s a young, well-dressed, Synthetik Angel supposed to do these days?



20110909 by temp_user9





Ghost Codes 009

Grey light. Fading moon. Dixie on slow walkabout, Break at her side. Other collectors were seen, working the streets. Let them be.

Break started to tremble. His skin was picking up traces, buzzing with sparks: evidence of spirit activity, serious measure.

He led Dixie to Hive 7, the worst of the blocks. Off limits. Unsafe. Stories of demon songs haunting the rooms. A passageway beckoned.

Dixie moved closer, alone. Into darkness. Silence. And then the crackle of melody, sparklenotes fluttering in minor key colours.

Listen now: held by rusty guitar strings, a woman’s voice. Old, pitched low, a black moan. Murder ballad style. Dixie shivered.

She set the ghost trap and waited. The spirit flickered, sighed in darkness. Icy, blue, fevered: something touched at Dixie’s face.

 

[:REMIX:]



20110917 by temp_user9





Ghost Codes 010

Ghost trap components: contact mics, sugar cube, matches, loudspeaker cone, glowbug (female), cassette tape, AA batteries (leaky), perfume.

Operation: place glowbug in speaker cone. Arrange mics in approximate circle. Set speaker to vibrate. Spray perfume on sugar: ignite.

The scent arouses the insect, causing the bug’s abdomen to light up. Play cassette. Observe: the ghost will crackle and dance in time.

All such fragments dream of being whole once more, of being a song on a lover’s lips, conjured from a tongue: verse, chorus and coda.

With such desire, the ghost is drawn towards the trap. Now softly, softly… close the…

Break dragged Dixie screaming from the tunnel. Her eyes wide, mouth bloody. Words of drawn-out breath: “Find it. Don’t let it get away!”



20110923 by temp_user9





Ghost Codes 011

Break entered the passageway. All was dark within but for his own light, his skin gleaming soft and low. His fingers tingled.

A glint of colour drew him forward. A cry. He felt he was stepping across a borderline. The sizzle of pain behind his eyes.

He’d heard other synthetiks boasting of the halo effect. Lies, mostly. He’d never seen it happen. Now he felt his temples pulsate.

It wasn’t the full-on ignition he’d expected, more a flicker of sparks in a ragged, lopsided orbit around his head. It was enough.

He peered into the homemade trap. And there, held within the circle of microphones, suspended in midair…there lay the ghost itself.

It was a few centimetres across, of no fixed shape, crimson coloured, speckled with gold, quiet now, a small broken spirit of music.

Break reached in and closed his hand around the ghost. No burn. No anger. Only sorrow flooding his skull: pictures, sounds, memories.



20110928 by temp_user9





Ghost Codes 013

Break of day in Sparkletown. Low mist, pale sunlight. The two friends walked along. The trap was closed and bound, held between them.

They rode the elevator up to Dixie’s floor. Break said, “I’m not sure about this. I saw things. This is no ordinary ghost.”

Dixie nodded. No ordinary ghost, no ordinary song. She felt ill at ease. Cold, shivery from fear. But this was too good a chance.

They walked into the flat. Dixie said, “Let’s get started.” She clicked open the locks on the trap. Instruments glowed around her.

Break closed his eyes. His circuits were still buzzing from the vision he had picked up, from the moment of spectral contact.

He could see it still, in flashes of light: the singer’s face creased in pain. Her mouth, screaming. Her two hands covered in blood.



20111010 by temp_user9





Ghost Codes 014

They worked through the day on the new track. Break manned the grain web, Dixie worked the Dali engine, needle tip glistening.

They sprinkled sleeping powder on the ghost to keep it docile whilst they bled the plasma away. The vampyrophone collected the output.

Break caressed the machine’s skin. Sparks hit him with radiance. Once more, he heard the singer crying out in pain, but softer now…

He said, “This is bad blues, Dixie. It’s a chance recording. The woman being attacked or killed, mid song. Or something. Maybe.”

Dixie was too busy seeking out a melody path, stretching the lyrical scraps, squeezing homemade beats from a plastic tube. Like goo.

By 5pm the track was done, conjured into being, sealed in wax. They listened to it in silence, sitting back, getting distance.

Dixie had cut the scream just so, leaving only a breath, indrawn. That moment of loss, repeating. Break felt his heart stop each time.



20111017 by temp_user9





Ghost Codes 016

The dance floor was half empty, people still waiting for take-off. Break stood at the centre of the room, looking up at the lights…

I was a broken soul stranded on the last day of the world, skin aflame in a shopping mall. Blacking out, dying of digital fever.

He still felt weird inside at the work they had done today, the way that Dixie had treated the ghost, the wounded ghost. And yet…

Only Dixie had reached out to me. She lifted me up and dragged me home and worked on my body like I was one of her crazy machines.

Plugged me in analogue style and set up circuits to keep my system alive. In my delirium I heard wings beating, silver and gold.

I rose from my bed shrouded by sparks, crackling at the edges. Strange apparitions flickered around me, creatures of dust and light.

He could see them now in the club, all these stray sparkles that no one else could notice. His skull flared with colour and noise.

And then Dixie played the new tune…



20111028 by temp_user9





Ghost Codes 017

Drops of rainwater. Hiss of acid on metal. Globules of sound. Murmurs, whirrs, sudden freak-out guitar in a five second burst.

Dixie working the X-Ray plates, extracting the mix from a skull and a sickened heart. Spell of rhythm. People stepping to the floor.

Noise magic. A kiss of lips, magnified. Ticking clocks, food sizzle, static, jazz bass flecks and splinters forming undercurrent pull.

Now the drop in the mix where the singer’s scream once lived, a slow fade of echoes. Repeat. A few dancers moving in response…

Slowly swaying, slowly rising to fall in time with music box fragments, whispers, radar clicks; the beat coalescing. Crowd swell.

Dixie adding body music: breath, vein flow, brain activity. The missing scream coming round again. This time the dancers move as one.

And there stands Break at the centre, at the hot crush-heart liquid blood-river chaotic centre of it all, feeling himself pulled aloft.

[: REMIX :]



20111101 by temp_user9





Ghost Codes 018

For the next few nights Break could not sleep properly. Dreams would lull him, only to drag him back awake. The dead singer whispered, always on the edge of hearing.

He could take no more. He left his room and went up to the roof of the block. All was dark, the streets empty. He felt the ghosts as tingles on his skin.

Was this his true calling, to be a guide for Dixie, nothing more than a compass? A waste of his gifts, surely, but what else could he do?

In dreams he caressed the neonglow air with glittering feathers, taking flight across the Haze Towns. Joining with his brethren…

Renegade angels working the night sky, buzzing with fire at their wingtips, all the scattered songs theirs for the taking.

Break opened his eyes. He felt he could step off from the building’s lip and ride the updrafts, floating easy with arms outstretched.

Was he dreaming now? His feet moved closer to the edge.



20111110 by temp_user9





Ghost Codes 019

A noise. Break turned to see a group of people climbing onto the roof. The fog catchers.

They attended to their nets. Three people, working by torchlight, checking the gauze for captures.

Break walked over to watch them. They ignored him completely, set on their task, scouring the surface of the nets for images.

Something flared in a torch beam. A shape of lighter colour, sparkling where the mist particles rested. It looked to be of human form.

Break stepped closer: a face, a woman’s face, her body, her hands moving on the net’s surface. The image was fleeting, illusive.

The crew spoke in low voices, excited at their find. Break turned to them, saying, “She’s mine. I’ll pay what you want”. They smiled.

But it was her. The singer. He knew it was. The wounded ghost made visible. Spots of red marked the face as it shimmered on the net.



20111118 by temp_user9





Ghost Codes 020

Two nights later, he took possession of the icon pod. It cost most of the wages Dixie had given him, but Break had no choice.

He snapped open the lid and released the mist. There it floated in the dark room, the singer’s image illuminated: gold, electric blue.

A few seconds of footage torn from a promo video, caught in endless repeat. The red speckles on her face a remnant of special FX.

Break played Dixie’s track. The apparition moved in time to the rhythm. He could not stop looking at her.

He didn’t know her name, didn’t recognise her face. Somebody from before he was born, before memory. Lost in the archives until now.

Somebody damaged, the victim of a bad manager or a crazed fan or a cruel lover. Or someone who had taken a knife to her own flesh.

But she had sought Break out, in both image and sound. And here in this room, this city, with his help a kind of life was being made.

He stepped into the mist, his body sparking at the points of contact. It was all he could do.

The track played on. The woman sang. The ghost of fog and light danced. And danced. And danced. And danced. And danced. And danced…

[: REMIX/CODA :]

END



20111128 by temp_user9