Aerial Fragment: ‘ghost’



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 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





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