Paper Mushrooms

What follows is one of my Short (Circuit) Stories set in my cyberpunk London. This originally appeared on

00h43; CCn; old.grid,loc:EYE

// 09,63,72

// The picture is mostly dark - a lifeless earthen plain before a small railfence (once decorative, recently deterrent, currently useless as the power adapter has shorted), movement behind suggests the leaden movement of the Slick. A tall red cylinder stands just before the rail, a black rectangular hole near its top. Next to it, a board stands, crudely propped up against the old base of a statue, held in place with a string of postage stamps. On the board, something is written in a staccato script, in bright white paint. At this magnification the words cannot be made out. In the centre of the board, there is a dispensing roll. It appears to contain postage stamps.

// Movement to the left of the screen - the view moves to centre its source. The picture zooms in on the figure, a man moving towards the postbox with a white triangle in his hands. His tattered shirt is red, his jeans are blue, his hair is buzzed short.

Despite living on his own, on the wrong side of the river, Jonny Nasty has big hopes of being a punk. He reads stories of Sid's gang's exploits in the papers, and hopes to join them one day. He wants to make a name for himself first.

The envelope Jonny holds in his hand contains nothing more than a blank piece of paper, and half a gram of cornflour. It is addressed to Buck.Pal. It lacks a stamp.

// The man is closer to the postbox now, and the ancient curfew program tags him with ~miscreant'. The writing on the board can be made out now, ANARCHY RULES, OK? PLEASE TAKE A STAMP, although the OCR subprogram fails to recognise and tags it with ~sexual.propaganda'.

Jonny looks at the new stamp board, realises that it is the old stamp board with the payment module ripped off, grins as he sees Sid's hand in this.

// ~miscreant' takes another look at ~sexual.propaganda' and then tears a stamp off of the reel. ~miscreant' licks it and sticks the stamp to the letter.

Jonny reaches up to put the letter in the postbox. The slot opens wide, and takes a large bite out of his arm. Jonny stares in horror and surprise at the bloody stump that has become of his arm. The postbox has taken the best part of his arm with the letter. It lets out a small burp.

// ~miscreant' waves his arm around, his mouth open in a scream. He does not appear to be able to let go of the letter. He clutches at his arm in terror. He stumbles backwards, trips over the railfence and lands with a splash in the Slick.

// ~miscreant' is seen to float downstream towards the dark bridge. The white shape of the letter floats for a moment, and then sinks into the darkness.

Jonny imagines that he is being carried downstream by an army of very small ants who have luckily built a very small platoon.

Paper Mushrooms

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