Tuesday, 17 October 2017


“Are robots alive?”

——What is life?

“I don't know, but I know it when I see it.”

——That’s easy then, just look at a robot. Do you see life?

“That’s not fair!”

——It’s fair, you’re confused. How about asking one? Hey, metal man over there! Are you alive?

——What do I know about philosophy?

——Whadya think? Lifeless machine, or alive with better things to do?

“I don't know, that's the problem, how could I tell?”

——What about me, then, your perfect drinking partner? You act like I’m alive. What's your real question here?

“I guess it’s... am I alive?”


Sunday, 15 October 2017

A Beautiful Thing

People say we lived like kings. Ha! These days, king just means a bigger mud hut and a gang of men with clubs.

We could fly round the world faster than it turned, talk to anyone, anywhere, instantly. We had men on the Moon, nearly got to Mars. We knew the age of the universe, the speed of light. You've never even seen electricity.

You don’t believe any of this. You’re stupid. Everyone's getting stupider, generation by generation.

Sure, we had wars, all that shit. But Goddammit, we had civilisation, and it was a beautiful thing, a beautiful thing indeed.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

The Room

A young woman sits on a chair, in the middle of an empty, silent room. She is of slight build, very slight. She would call herself “delicate” if she spoke, but she does not speak. She would think of herself as “delicate”, but she does not think, rather she is suspended in a single, unending moment of reverie.

Everything about this room is faded and indistinct: the wallpaper, the carpet, the curtains, her dress. The room is illuminated only by a dim light through the curtained window, too dim to discern the patterns these things must once have had.

She sits quietly, her hands in her lap, her eyes half-closed, her gaze turned inward. There is a faint smile about her lips. She does not move. Even her breathing is scarcely discernable. The chair is a plain upright wooden chair, placed in the centre of the room. There is nothing else here. The door—for surely there must be a door, for it would be unusual for a room to have no door, and there can be nothing unusual to disturb her reverie—the door never opens. The window never opens. The curtains are never drawn. No-one enters this room. For this slight young woman, sitting in silent reverie, there is nothing outside this room.

There is nothing inside but the chair on which the slight young woman quietly sits, her hands in her lap and her eyes half-closed. There is no past and no future, no elsewhere. She does not think that this room must be part of some larger house, that the house was once built by bustling labourers placing brick upon brick, hoisting rafters, laying floorboards; she does not think that the wallpaper was once fresh and new from the printing press, and was pasted up on a bright, sunny, noisy day; she does not think of the view through the window, were the curtains opened. She does not think of how she comes to be here.

She thinks of none of these things. Here in this silent room, sitting quietly with her hands in her lap, her eyes half-closed, and a faint smile about her lips, there is only an unending present. Here, at last, she finds peace.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Mornington Crescent

My opponent had considered her move for fully two hours, while I no less intently studied the position, tracing out glimmers of possibility.

“Ah,” she adumbrated at last. “Do you see?” She rapidly sketched on the blackboard a braided Diaconescu quincunx.

Thunderstruck, I gasped, “Excluded by Hammersmith duality!”

“Negated by Favisham's Little Theorem.”

“But the Fronsky diagram—” Her genius burst on me like a large hadron collider. “—is resolved in quine!”

“Precisely” she gesticulated, “so! Mornington Crescent!!”

We warmly shook hands. “Thank you,” I said, in the traditional acknowledgement of superior play after a hard-fought game, “for enriching my understanding.”

Image credit: British Library, Codex Arundel
This story previously appeared on Crap Mariner’s 100 word Weekly Challenge.

Saturday, 2 September 2017

The Meaning of Life

I saw a sage, who declared to the crowd about him, “Life has no meaning!” And a second nearby shouted to his admirers, “That life has no meaning, IS its meaning!” And likewise a third preached, “Life has only the meaning you give it!” And I marvelled that each group looked fiercely upon the others, and would come to blows.

So I shouted, “Pshaw! One cannot insert so much as a cigarette paper between your philosophies!” And they united as brothers to beat me and drive me away; then returned to their strife.

That was the meaning of their lives.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017


So I go online to order a Chinese, and there’s my own name already on the web page, and, “How about your favorite Hot Singapore Noodles tonight?” WTF? I fire an email saying “don't you tell me what I want, I tell you”. Dammit, the Singapore Noodles are my favorite but I'm not giving them the satisfaction.

It’s the cookies. Can’t deal with anyone online without them sticking cookies all over you, it’s the mark of Revelations without which no man might buy nor sell, save that he accepted the cookie.

When does Revelations say the Cookie Monster shows up?

This story first appeared on Crap Mariner’s 100 Word Challenge.

Monday, 21 August 2017

To Do Good

A man walked by a pond, where he saw that a little girl had fallen in, and would drown. But he was wearing a fine suit and did not want to ruin it by wading into the pond to save her. He was not callous, for he was about to meet some very wealthy people, to solicit donations for the charity that he ran, and they would never take him seriously if he showed up muddy and bedraggled. With these funds he would save far more lives than that of one little girl. The decision was clear.

He told himself, and —

This story previously appeared on Crap Mariner's 100 Word Challenge.