Short Fiction

This is just a small selection of my published short fiction. For more see my portfolio.

Flyover Country – Motherboard

“Inside Building 7 the chain fence runs right through the interior, cleaving the production line in two. Green overalls on my side, red and blue on the other. The dank, mildew smell of almost-failing AC. Today I’m on motherboard assembly. A constant stream of naked iPhones come down the conveyor belt to me, their guts exposed, and as each one passes I clip in a missing chip. 256GB storage chips, from a box covered in Chinese lettering.

At the station next to me, a slender matte-black robot arm twitches, snapping video chips into the motherboards. It is relentless, undistracted, untiring. Given half a chance Foxconn would replace us all, but then they’d lose all those special benefits the President promised them for coming here in the first place. The ten year exemption on income and sales tax. The exemption on import tariffs for components. The exemptions from minimum wages. The exemption on labour rights. The protection against any form of legal action from employees or inmates. The exemption from environmental protection legislation. And Apple? Well, without me standing here, clipping one Chinese-made component into another Chinese-made component, Apple loses the right for a robot in Shenzhen to laser engrave ‘Made in the USA by the Great American Worker’ into every iPhone casing before they’re shipped over here.”

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Last Christmas – Motherboard

“He’s drunk. Sits in the Tesla. In the hermetically sealed garage. Parked between the Hummer and that boat he bought to go fishing, that he’s still never used.

He powers the Tesla up. It’s silent. He tells it to run through a full diagnostic. The dashboard screen flares, checking off working systems in green text. The lights. The battery. The suspension. The cameras. The rear and front sensors. The auto-drive. The bioweapon grade air filtration systems. The only things that come back red are the navigation, the data links, the stuff that needs a network connection.

There’s never good range in the garage, he chuckles to himself.

And then, like Astrid in reverse, he slips from happy to sad. He wonders when he’ll get to drive it again, if ever.”

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Divided We Stand – The Long & Short

“Dad is in the bathroom, and Sara has had enough of Fox and whichever war this is. She reaches over and grabs the remote from the arm of his chair, and tries to find something else to watch. The government had scrapped all the rules about how the internet worked, and for most people like her parents it had suddenly gotten a lot cheaper to get their TV through Facebook, so all she can find is Fox, Breitbart News, Family Values TV, Info Wars, The Rebel, Glenn Beck, The Voice of America, America First, The Bible Today and lots of hunting and sports channels she doesn’t even recognise. It’s signed in to her Dad’s FB account, and the last thing she wants is to try and log in on hers before he gets back from the john. Yeah. There was no way that would end up with them keeping it civil.

In her pocket her phone vibrates, purrs against her skin, reminding her it’s there, making sure she’s not forgotten where her real friends are, that there’s a world outside, beyond Dad and his TV. She takes it out and cradles it in her hands, the dark screen fleetingly reflecting back her face before it jumps awake at her very touch, opening up to bathe her in blue light, in comfort and warmth and the familiar. For the first time since she got home she feels herself relax.”

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Elevated – The Long & Short

“By now they’re hurtling into Manhattan, Guang weaving in and out of automated traffic as the sun strobes through the geometry of the bridge’s towers and cables. Ahead of them the skyline rises, the island so densely populated with architecture that it looks like the tallest skyscrapers are forcing the smaller ones into the sea, like bullies making room for themselves in a crowd. He’s just cutting up a self-driving FedEx fan – the jolt of it applying its brakes waking a dozing human assistant long enough to give him the finger – when his spex buzz. CopWatch this time – someone up ahead on the bridge has tagged three drones watching the traffic. Shit. He just has time to swap lanes again and kill his speed to something respectable before they loom up above him, three chunks of unlikely floating infrastructure, hanging from six rotorblades each, tethered to petrol-powered generators at the sides of the bridge. They look like grotesque balloons at a kid’s birthday party, Guang thinks suddenly, and as he passes underneath one of them he can see its belly is a mess of twitching, parasitic cameras, directional mikes, and chemical sniffers.”

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The Water Line – Matter

“I’m so tired of this shit. Seriously. For real. You know I came down here Tuesday and the line was so long that we had to wait for hours, then the truck just up and left before everyone got their ration. Really. No kidding. I thought there was going to be riot. No, I got mine, I was cool. But a lot of people didn’t. I dunno. I think they didn’t turn up in Cobble Hill, so a whole bunch of people had walked down from there. Seriously. And those that didn’t get any were pissed. I mean understandably. It was hot out too, y’know? I thought it was going to all go off, I mean there was fights, like people were taking it out on the Cobble Hill crew and shit, saying it’s not their problem they ain’t got no water truck this morning. And then one of the soldiers fired off his gun in the air and they all simmered down pretty quick, everyone shut the fuck up. But for a minute there…

That? That…what is that? No that’s just smoke. Yeah, that’s just Manhattan. Yeah don’t worry. They probably just burning SoHo again…”

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Collision Detection – Medium

“Once, when she’d been working on the Turkmenistan pipeline project, they’d been relegated to just a video feed for all contact. It seemed archaic, cold. Heavily pixelated due to ancient bandwidth levels. ‘Ghetto compression’ she’d called it, and they’d laughed because that’s what talking about poor people always made them do.

But even then, as he watched her sleep in that barebones foreign hotel room, he’d found a way to interact, silently moving his finger tips in front of the pin-hole of his tablet’s camera; filtering light passing through their portal to play shadows across her unaware face.

He remembers this as the scanner slides him backwards into its unseen tube, swallowing him in steel and plastic, and he imagines the dappled light of external fluorescence and internal LEDs playing across his face.”

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This is just a small selection of my published short fiction. For more see my portfolio.