Saturday, September 30, 2006

Crime story, < 300 words

Time enough

The cell would do, she thought.

A spider in the corner for company, a cot and thin wool blanket, two pots—she supposed one for bathing and one for the toilet. The smell of urine. Nothing to write with, of course—she was a dangerous old woman (or so the verdict implied.) It was writing that landed her here, led to that verdict read out as she sat hooded—one of many, judging by the scattered, muffled weeping.

The authorities were kind, in their way. The prison no worse than some nursing homes she’d seen, people within fading like spent flowers. Friends, family now as unreal as a dream dissolving—once martial law had been declared, the effort to connect grew risky and finally unsustainable.

“…for the crime of seditious speech…”

Ah. That was the nugget. It didn’t surprise her, given the “long tail” of the Net. No matter which side one was on, all political discourse, overt or oblique, now considered destabilizing, seditious. Since the riots of ’17, the statutes of limitation related to erstwhile freedoms of speech were all rescinded. And then the search for latent enemies…it was wit that gave her up, her wry comments and droll anti-establishment satires back before the war spread.

“…sentence to be determined, remand immediately…”

Linoleum-muted footsteps. Perhaps a guard walking the halls? Her town no exception to the closure of libraries, the frighteningly quick retrofit for prison overflow. And now she was one of those hidden away. She thought of old detective novels, their hard-boiled patter, that marvelous phrase “doing time.”

She was old, time passing like wind now, her life having disappeared into that place whose most expansive space was time…time enough to tell all her stories to a spider.


Willie Baronet said...

Wonderful! Methinks you may be getting many bangs for the buck with this? ;-)

neilornstein said...

Dystopian, indeed.We are not quite ther yet, but the fact that the bush league claims the power to seize and detain people indefinitely without recourse to habeus corpus or basic due process is a step, no a good many steps down that path.

You have a wonderful country full of many good hearted people (I have many American friends and family) but your leadership frightens me.

Please excuse this little rant.

Unknown said...

L, I like this. It smacks almost of Kafka, or Camus. I was interested to see the phrase "Linoleum-muted footsteps..." as I have a characterization quite close to that (-softened) in my current project. For those reading this, no, she hasn't seen it. Isn't dreadful to feel one has to qualify simple statements...that in itself is commentary. Off to read and work on my version of a leaf, which is actually part of a tomato plant I just tossed.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful and scary! I, too, immediately thought of the news about latest bill on torture and detainment and that it's the inspiration for your story. Keep on writing these stories, Lori!

Sheba Brooks Moore said...

is the spider the woman or the woman the spider or are they both all in the same?

I love this very much...I just started the book, "The Great Cosmic Mother"...and your writing reminds me of how society is in a state of amnesia over the power of the female...


Dave said...

Ah, nothing better than a little dystopian fantasy in my Bloglines feeds. Good work! (Typo in 3rd sentence - "lead" for "led.")

MB said...

Ow. Because it's good.

her life having disappeared into that place whose most expansive space was time oh, that's marvelous.

Lori Witzel said...

Hi everyone! Spent a fine day wandering around with a good friend, and think I've brushed some of the dystopia back for now.

WB: Yes, The Lazy Writer writes once and shares many...glad you liked, of course!

NeilO: Interestingly, although I agree with your take on our current administration, the grain of sand that gave rise to this was an insensible rant on a blog-friends' site, ostensibly from the same side of the political spectrum as you, me and my friend.

RfR: Sometimes the well from which writing flows is full of quiet linoleum.

M-J: As noted above, although this current administration makes me go "!@#$%^&!", it's the increasing noise and uncivil rant -- on all sides -- that really put me in mind of this.

Amiamazing: Love your schtuff on Octavia Butler and Samuel Delaney. I've tried to read Delaney, but he's been hard for me -- probably just need to bring more attention to bear. Am glad you noted the mythic insect, but I ain't saying more about that here, except mysteries don't like to be revealed. :-)

Dave: Props to you for helping me be better. I hate typos, and it's now fixed. And am glad you liked.

MB: Thanks, and glad it got an "Ow."

Larry: Happy to disturb! One thing I like about the old gal is her equanimity. Not sure if this is seed or bonsai...time will tell.

Stewart Sternberg (half of L.P. Styles) said...

Nice bit of political fiction. The best rants are those held through dark discourse.

Although I am a rabid lefty, I am loathe to put my own politics into my blog. I think what I need to do is create a second blog just as an outlet for my politics.

Or else...Maybe I'll market a new bumper sticker: REPUBLICAN? APOLOGIES ACCEPTED

Dana S. Whitney said...

And have you read N. Gaiman's latest? Anansi man (I may be mis-remembering the story...) Spiders are quite magical in MANY cultures.
Thank you for writing.

Mise said...

This morning, I was listening to a news item about how much information should be given to American authorities about passengers travelling to the US from the EU.

The US Immigration Service and, presumably, various security bodies want a person's credit rating in addition to all of the other information that is passed on. The Europeans are resisting.

I'm going to New York in December. I don't know what my credit rating is. I presume it's ok as banks will still give me money, and my credit card (I've only got one)continues to work.

It'll be a lot hotter than the weather by the time I get back though. :-D