Aerial Fragment: ‘father’



The Fog Catchers 001

The fog rolls in, the fog rolls out.

Twelve storeys, here we go. A little scared. The lift to the seventh floor, then the stairs. Dad’s puffing for air. Gotta be careful.

Onto the roof. The other tower blocks surrounding us, trails of mist still lingering. My first time up here. Dawn light. Cold.

The other crews already at work. They have these super shiny nets stretched from post to post, all finely stitched, tightly meshed.

But our net is old and a bit tatty. Got more than a few holes in it. I keep mending them, they keep on breaking. No matter.

I step closer. Never actually seen it in action. Just a bit of cloth before, back in the flat. But now I’m all eyes, really I am.

Reach out. Slowly. Make contact. The surface is warm! Images tremble under my fingers. Oh God. I feel like I’m touching ghosts.



20111227 by temp_user9





The Fog Catchers 002

Shapes flicker on the gauze: colours, fragments, whirls of black and white, sudden explosions of numbers, breakage, slivers of code.

Dad tells me to snap out of it, get to work. We have maybe ten minutes before the fade begins. Images die. That’s the thing, see.

So I’m scanning for something good, something we can use. Trying to find little pieces of loveliness in the chaos. That’s my job.

There! A mouth. Looks like. Half a smile. No. No good. Need more. Time is short and my father’s eyes are failing him. Keep looking.

Now I see it. Twin moons. A tower in silhouette. A spaceship landing. Looks like something from an old science fiction movie. Perfect.

I point it out and dad moves in with the lens knife. He peels that shivering image right off the net whilst I watch. Captured!

Here I am. Here I am on the roof of a giant block of flats, feeling like I’m about to dance off the edge with joy. What can I say?

Call me Zee Zee of the Mystical World Crew. (I made the name up. It’s just me and my dad.) I’m 15 years old. I’m a fog catcher.



20120103 by temp_user9





The Fog Catchers 003

The fog rolls in, the fog rolls out. And as it passes through the nets, images linger like dew from all the scattered memories.

Edits from film and video, mobile phone footage, digital uploads, all caught in the tracery. Objects, landscapes, people. The dead…

It’s cool. The world before I was born. Way before, most of it. I like that kind of weird connection.

So we head back down, captures in my backpack. Just a single half-decent image, a few other scrapings. But they feel so precious.

And that’s how the story begins. My life. Up early each day, attend the nets, then school. Home, to see dad working on the transfers.

Me helping, learning, getting in the way. Making shimmercasts, smokepods, vapouramas. Anything that could hold an image in place.

And then every Saturday, we’d head down the Sparkle Market, making sales. That’s important. Because that’s where I met Jake.



20120107 by temp_user9





The Fog Catchers 004

The market’s abuzz with life, with hundreds of people jostling to sell and to buy: ghost music, image peels, fogscapes, voodoo mixes.

We have a stall set out and we’re doing pretty well. My dad tells me it’s because I’m a natural image-spotter, the best in the game.

I’m not exactly sure about that, but I’m happy to let him think it. Anything to keep him sane, these days, away from the drink.

On my break, I head over to Candy’s Tattoo Palace. Jake is there, and we do the secret smile. He works on Saturdays, running errands.

Candy’s doing the ink-show on a man. His bare arm glows with light, with a little 3D image that rises from his skin, twirling around.

I recognise it. A girl’s face I found on our net two weeks ago, that dad peeled clean and sold on to Candy. Now it’s brought to life.

Makes me feel proud, and I’m smiling at that. But Jake pulls me aside, acting like he’s in a noircast or something, says to watch out.

Why? He says that some guys were asking after me. Fog catchers, rivals. “Rumour is, Zee, they’re none too keen on your expertise.”

Me? But I’ve done nothing wrong. “Well somebody thinks so,” says Jake. “And these are bad guys. I think they’re after hurting you.”



20120113 by temp_user9





The Fog Catchers 005

My mum died two and a half years ago. It was the night the screens went dark, and the satellites fell from the sky.

Vision burn of memory. No escape. Dad’s drinking getting worse, fuelled by black moods. Some mornings I couldn’t wake him.

So I’d go up to the roof alone, work the nets, hanging out with the other crews. I’d even do the image peeling myself. Best I could.

I remember the dreams he used to tell, when we first started off catching fog, of netting a famous image-ghost one day…

…Maybe a full scene from some old video, a good five minutes of Lady Diana or Madonna or Brando, names that meant nothing to me.

But dad talking crazy of selling the ghost on for big money, enough for us to start a new life, a proper life. Whatever that might mean.

A week passed by since Jake’s warning. No trouble. I started to forget about it. And then, one sunrise I climbed up to the roof…

And there was our net, the Mystical World Crew net. I felt sick. It was torn, slashed all over, rent in two right down the middle.



20120130 by temp_user9





The Fog Catchers 006

Images spin away in dreams and I cannot catch them, not at all, in a fog of dreams rolling in, rolling out, forever spinning away…

Broken, broken nets unravelling, silver threads coming loose, sodden in black rain, tangled underfoot, scattered like spider webs…

My body tightens in the cloth as it winds about me, skin slashed, constricted, fog in my mouth all clammy, wet, and then I wake…

I wake in my bed trembling, tense, breath held tight, aware of every sound in the room, every movement, rain on the window.

I get up. The ruined net lies draped over furniture like ghost skin, lined with all my hopeless stitches, too expensive to replace.

Quietly I open the door of my father’s room, peep in. He lies there sleeping, whiskey bottle discarded on the bed sheets.

Step inside, closer. His face. Eyes all aflicker with his own dreams – there they dwell under his eyelids, and I imagine…

And I imagine…mother. Dolores. Alive. Her beauty as I recall it, not as vivid as it was, but here, touchable, breathing, here…

A world lost… in my father’s eyes…in dreams…



20120130 by temp_user9





The Fog Catchers 008

Up on the roof. The other crews carrying on around me. And all over Sparkletown, I knew that fog catchers worked their own nets.

But only our crew had been targeted: the only net damaged, the only flat broken into, the only one with images stolen. Why us?

Or should I ask: Why me? Was it to do with my supposed talent? Had I drawn certain images towards the net? Valuable images?

They’d first appeared about nine weeks ago. Letters, numbers. Entire symbol chains. All in the same typeface, all making little sense.

But I knew what it was. I could remember people working on this same language, when I was younger. It was code. Computer code.

I thought nothing of it. Sold some on as decoration, stored others. It just didn’t seem that important. Code was a relic. Useless.

And yet the fogware had floated in. Not every day; just now and again, without pattern. Maybe a dozen examples. And only to our net.

I thought of my father, back in the flat, still in pain. Anger flooded me. I had to find out why these fragments were so important.

I had to find that code for myself, if I could. Piece it together, and try to decipher it. What secrets did it hold? What treasure?



20120220 by temp_user9