My Private Audience

I have a small number of people who have the option to read the stories I write a little earlier than anyone else. They are at one and the same time my cheerleaders and editorial eyes. 

They quite often manage to capture the more outlandish spelling mistakes and grammatical oddities before the stories hit the wild. This is just as well because most of my writing is currently done on my phone using an app called Journey. 

It’s a journalling app that exports very smoothly to other applications, but like anything on a phone it is rather held to ransom sometimes by the dreaded autocorrect feature.

So, my private audience serves both as somewhere to play with words with people I know and trust, and as a point of checking before publication. I’m beginning to think that they should have a collective name – but perhaps ‘private audience’ works well enough.

They’re amazing people: Ladies M, P, G, Gr, and of course the redoubtable Mre B are your first line of editorial defence against my wildest inaccuracies. You’re all very welcome.

Short Story: Brains of the Operation

We stopped using the word apocalypse after the third uprising in as many years. The first dawn of the dead had been an uncomfortable time, it’s true, and the body count had been horrendous. Unlike the heroes and heroines of our favourite films and TV shows though we actually had, well, zombie films as a cultural reference point.

People saw walking corpses and went for the head almost on instinct – and let me tell you that CCTV footage of the pensioners pinning zombies to the floor with their walkers that they keep showing on the clip shows is never getting old.

The second uprising, the following year, wasn’t so bad – someone had been stockpiling the pathogen for research purposes somewhere and got sloppy. The good thing was that the research facility had been in an isolated area. 

That meant when the authorities were alerted that the whole area was simply sterilised and warning signs and fences were erected to keep the stupid at bay. Armed forces from around the world pay good money to train there now.

The third uprising could have been a lot worse. That will sound callous to some, but when the dead started to rise from a fresh outbreak in the slums of Mumbai there were some who wondered if this wasn’t perhaps the critical mass that might actually overwhelm humanity’s ability to respond, especially with the international business world flying in and out of there so much.

Once again though, we underestimated the power of movies as a means of innoculating the mind against the horrors of the unknown – and the proud Indian fighting spirit wasn’t taking any nonsense from the walking dead. Two years of the media showing how to deal with outbreaks did the job. I hear some districts even toyed with the idea of running reward schemes for exterminations, but had to abandon the idea when people started faking zombie attacks to settle old feuds.

The amazing thing is that it took us so long to arrange such a systematic culling of our lesser brethren – those too far gone to cultivate the appearance of life and mortal appetite. There’s only so many of us that can exist in an area before someone starts noticing missing brains.

I was going to say live in an area, but I just couldn’t do it – I do have some pride, even if it fluctuates depending on the reliability of my suppliers. I’m rich enough to be able to vary between services so they have to keep competing and I fully intend, like many of my peers, to stay rich so that I continue to be on top.

Whoever described this as a dog eat dog world clearly has absolutely no idea. Now then, I don’t know about you, but I’m starving. Shall I call the chef in and see what she makes of you?