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Hello there. I am a university student in Denmark studying IT Management, making a blog about stories to document my ‘journey’ in writing stories, reading stories, talking about them and hearing about them. I plan to put out various short pieces I’ve written over time, trying out different ways of posting them with regards to length, time of day and other yet-to-be-determined factors.

So thanks for checking out my blog and I hope you enjoy your stay.

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The Colour of Rust – Indepentional

With a groan He awoke, stretching his arms and legs to try and shake off the weakness of sleep. His eyes opened to a beach, the ocean waters calmly lapping at the sand and rocks. There seemed to be no other people around. Where was He? And more important, what was his name? Those two vital pieces of information were completely unknown to Him. He was lying in the sand with nothing on his person. So much nothing that he was in fact naked. He kept low, not wanting to be seen in his privates despite the loneliness of his surroundings. A bit further down the beach He spied a pair of sand-spattered trousers. Staying low to the ground He scrambled over and tugged at them. The motion disturbed the sand, shifting it to reveal a pair of feet sticking out the end. He jumped back in surprise more than horror. It occurred to Him that it was a body, a dead person, but that bothered Him surprisingly little. He tugged on the trouser-leg a little more to ensure the former owner was in fact dead before painstakingly and quietly claiming the leg-wear for himself.

He quickly left the open beach and found a little clump of trees to hide under. He didn’t know where or who He was, let alone where He could go. For now He figured He should look for other people, see what He could find.

Days passed as He slowly travelled, keeping to shadows and hiding places as much as He could. Occasionally He would find caches of food and water but little else of use. Buildings were visible in the horizon but were clearly abandoned, walls smashed and windows in pieces. Some nights He heard distant shouts and gunfire, but beyond that He was without human contact.

Night slowly fell outside his hiding hole. The total darkness of a night with no electrical lighting. He stayed hunched besides his little fire, anxious about the little light it spilled onto the rocks visible from the entrance to his little cave and who might see it.

Hours went by by the fire, even as it slowly reduced itself to embers. But just before He drifted off to sleep, he heard shouts outside the cave. He didn’t recognise the voices but when you couldn’t even remember your own name, who’s to say you could remember anyone else? Cautiously he got up and left the cave. A scattered group of torches was marching through the night, illuminating a group of 4 men and women in patched-up hazmat suits. Each held a pistol of some sort in one hand and a lit torch in their other, except the front-woman who had some long rifle with a flashlight attached with some sort of wire. They were all looking around as they marched, shouting a name. Julian-82, Julian-82. For all He knew it could be Him and they were the only people He had seen up-close for what felt like days. He considered running back into the cave to make his own torch but the fire was just embers now. It would take too long to light. So he ran towards the group while trying to ignore the night chill. They stopped their march as he got close, moving into a semi-circle around him when he stopped. He could see the answer to his silent question in their faces that showed no recognition.

One of the men holding torches stepped forward. “Who are you?”

“That’s what I don’t know. I was hoping your group would.” He responded.

“Well we don’t. Now scram.” The man levelled his pistol at him but was interrupted before he could pull the trigger.

“Woah woah, wait a moment Krys. He might not be him but maybe he’s seen Julian.” The lead woman urged.

The man sighed but lowered his gun again. “You heard her. Have you seen our missing friend?”

The friendly woman stepped in to describe this ‘Julian’. No recognition. “Sorry to disappoint, but I haven’t seen anyone else for a while, let alone your friend.” He responded before turning away to return to his cave.

He heard the rustle of their firearms again. “Woah woah, who said you could just leave?” The man said.

“Krys, calm down.” The woman chided. He could see that her flashlight was still trained on his back.

“We don’t know this bloke, he could be a spy going back to his friends to tell on us.”

A moment of silence. He dared not turn around. “That is true-”

A burst of gunfire ripped through the night, cutting off the woman’s reply with a gurgle. He didn’t wait to see where it had come from before He was in a sprint to get away as quickly as possible. Behind Him more gunfire and shouting erupted as the ambush continued and ‘Krys’ and the rest of that group responded. He had not gotten far before He could see that the ambushers were using his cave as cover so he couldn’t go that way. So He just ran away, as fast and as far as his legs could carry him through the night.

After what felt like hours later, finally exhausted and completely out of breath, He collapsed beneath a rock formation like a giant tripod. In the growing morning light it seemed like there was a sheet-metal signboard on top of the rock tripod but He was too tired to think much of it. He was asleep before he had sat all the way down.

Slowly He awoke, stinging his face against the bush He had collapsed under. He still felt  tired and completely battered. So why had he woken up?

Any remaining traces of sleep vanished like snow in a fire when a spear clattered off the stone immediately next to his head. As He scrambled to his feet He noticed that the stone-tip was nearly the colour of rust from dried blood, the haft equally caked in the stuff. He rounded the nearest corner of the rock formation when a metal sword barely missed him to clang against the stone.

“Stand still, little ham!” A woman dressed in skins and combat-camo trousers screeched before drawing the sword back up for another swing. He dived forwards past the woman’s metal-capped knees to avoid the attack, narrowly escaping the second strike and scrambling to keep running and not plant his face in the dirt following the reckless dive. Then He was past the woman shouting behind him, swishing sounds in the air as she swiped more sword-swings at Him, sprinting back the way He had come the night before. A burst of gunfire to his right and a spray of dirt effectively closed off the old path and He changed direction as best He could in the grass that was still wet with morning dew. Another spear sailed uselessly past him and embedded itself in the dirt.

“I just want some cracklin’!” The woman screeched as she continued her pursuit. He seemed faster than her but He could not outrun a hidden gunman, though the sounds of his two pursuers boots grew weaker and weaker as He ran, sucking down as much air as He could, crashing through a small copse of trees to emerge into a larger grass field. Scattered wooden buildings surrounded a wooden hall of sorts in the middle of the field. A painted sign read “Tunder Shack” in cartoon letters next to a brutish face.

Out of breath, He staggered around the corner of the shack and tumbled into a bush. The noises of his pursuers running through the grass on the other side was loud so He hunched as much as He could, quietened his breathing and even closed his eyes. The boots came close, terrifyingly close. The scrape of metal-on-metal as the crazy woman drew her sword and the man messed about with his firearm. Next He heard a rustling of cloth and a burst of static.

One of his pursuers, a man with a darker voice, spoke into what He presumed was a radio. “Hey Pyrion, we found a Naked on the perimeter but lost him around the south corner of the Shack. You see anything?” A long moment passed. He took a deep a breath as He dared when a reply came through the radio.

The dark-voiced man made a ‘Hmm’ noise in response. “We’ll keep looking. Keep an eye out.” Another mumbled reply came back, a rustle of cloth and their boots moved on. He waited until the metal-on-metal sound of the woman’s sheathed sword was out of his hearing before cautiously standing up. They were nowhere to be seen. The sun was behind him by now so there was no need to shield his eyes. On the other side of the palisade was yet another field of green grass. More wooden buildings overlooked the area, one of them a wide tower, the peak dotted with platforms and large windows. In one of them He could see a glint, like sunlight reflected in a spyglass.

Or a sniper’s scope. The thought came to Him in the same instant as a distant shout rang out. “Get domed, nerd!” and He saw a brighter flash from the same window. He had no time to react before his vision exploded in bright red then went black. A bright pain seared through his body before fading almost instantly and his body failed him, collapsing into the red-stained grass.

 


 

With a start He woke, hands scrabbling to get out of the sleeping bag and scratch at his face. A moment passed before He calmed and looked at them. Why had He expected them to be covered in his own blood. Furthermore, why was he in a dark cave next to a slowly-smoking campfire. And what was his name?

Dredgery – Well-wishes

Well-wishes – Indepentional

Well-Wishes came right after Letterbox – Indepentional  and followed much the same style of ‘Only Dialogue’. Whereas Letterbox’s oddity was the Narnia-like post office in the boy’s closet, in Well-wishes it’s a mysterious, possibly magical, card for well-wishes. The gag with their ‘no-relation’ names didn’t carry over to this one mostly because the boys never interact with anyone beyond the two of them.

I’m racking brain to remember the inspiration. Beyond the obvious Letterbox, the main clue is me using the Ouroboros for the grandparents signature but ultimately I can’t say. I think Letterbox is the much better of the two so not knowing is hardly a great loss.

The Passage of Time – Indepentional

Mivato, the Sacred City on the Hill. It had stood inviolate for nearly a century. Now it seemed to Markato that the Sacred City’s time had come. None had entered Mivato for weeks, though plenty had tried to leave. Of the ones that made it past the walls, few returned. The besieging forces of the Heretic made sure of that. Every few days the Duke and the High Priest assured the populace, the sheep that they were, that the siege would not last long, that it would soon be over. That their God was true and just and on their side. Markato was not so easily fooled. He saw the soldiers, ranks upon ranks, sitting in their tents outside the city walls. He remembered the rocks flung from catapults to impact on those sacred sandstone walls or land in the streets. The streets were not the bustling thoroughfares they had been a month ago. Guards patrolled unceasingly and the few people that did walk the streets walked in groups and hurried along on their business, not stopping to see the great architecture and gardens of their city. Markato tried to stick to the alleyways as much as he could, to avoid the prying eyes of the Duke’s guard.

He pulled the ripped-out page from his pack again. The ink seemed a little worn from the rough treatment but no matter, the prophecy was nearing fulfillment. A brave man of many summers, named after the Sacred City on the Hill, strong of arm and mind, a mind unclouded by delusions and lies. Markato fit all of these criteria, the signs that would indicate the identity of the Awaited One, to take up the Seeking Blade and save the Sacred City in a time of great peril. The Duke hadn’t believed him and the High Priest had been too busy to see him, even when he had announced himself as the Awaited One. When the guard at the door to the High Priest’s chambers looked at him like one might look at drunk man in the street, that was when he decided had must continue on his own. The Duke and the High Priest could not, would not help him. They were ‘clouded by delusions and lies’.

Markato raised his hood and strode onto the street. A few groups of frightened civilians and guards were scattered about on their own business. He turned right and headed down towards the lower areas of town. The Old Garden was close to the inner wall, for its location was part of why Mivato had been built here in the first place almost a millenia ago. At his brisk pace it did not take him long to reach the fence encircling the Garden. Markato knew the Duke had posted guards at all the landmarks of the city. Why the fool was using precious soldiers to guard cultural sites rather than the walls, Markato could not understand. But as soon as he had one of the entrances in view, a clarion of bells sounded across the city. A call to arms. The guards he could see glanced at each other then left in a hurry. The last he saw of them were their cloaks disappearing around the corner towards the walls. The Heretic must be launching an assault. He would need hurry. He leapt from his hiding spot and quickly scanned the area around the gates. No guards in sight so he went inside. Markato scanned the grounds of the Garden. It too seemed empty. Markato did not want to discount the possibility that a few guards had been given orders to stay behind no matter what happened. Sticking to shadows as much as he could, he arrived at the Ziggurat. Like the Garden, it had been here for longer than the city had. In all of recorded history, only two people had ever seen what waited past the Guardian. Zenithra the Saviour, who last drew the Seeking Blade, and the Prophet, his name expunged by the religion the High Priest and the Duke served. The Prophet had not physically entered the Ziggurat but had seen it in a vision, that in the future the Sacred City would be in great peril from an army with great power. Markato knew that to be the army of the Heretic that besieged the city even now. The one mentioned in his prophecy, the Awaited One, was to take up the Seeking Blade and weather the peril to save Mivato.

Looking about the Garden one last time, Markato approached the Ziggurat. It was imposing, constructed with marble from some unknown location. The facade was built as if to channel the gaze towards the door that led inside, and the Guardian that guarded it. A giant marble statue of a powerful lion’s body with the head of a helmed woman, the Guardian denied entry to any who was unworthy and killed those who would try to gain entry by force. Markato stood in front of it with no fear. He was the Awaited One. He would accept its trials and prove it.

The book had been unclear as to the exact nature of the trials, so Markato stood for a minute before anything moved. The Guardian’s stone face animated, great green jade-eyes grinding in their sockets to look at him. “Are you the Awaited One?” It asked with unmoving lips.

“Yes. My name is Markato, named after the Sacred City of Mivato!” He answered, holding up the page he had taken from the Prophet’s book. The Guardian did not spare it even a glance.

“Then you will answer questions three. Answer correctly and be granted entry to the Ziggurat, fail and be turned away. Attempt force and you will be destroyed.” At the last word, the Guardian’s massive stone paws unfolded, black obsidian claws glinting in the sun.

Markato held back the quivering in his voice. “Ask these questions. I will not fail.”

A moment passed. He stood as still as he could, wondering how one would stare down an unblinking golem. “The first question,” the voice boomed, “What has 4 legs at dawn, 2 legs under the midday sun and 3 legs when twilight comes?”

The answer came immediately to Markato’s mind but surely it could not be that obvious. Even a complete simpleton could answer that nursery riddle.

His pondering was interrupted by the gravel-like voice of the Guardian. “Speak!”

“Man! We walk on all 4 when we are born, walk upright as adults and use a cane to assist us in our twilight years.” The Guardian was from another era entirely, after all. What was common knowledge now had been a wise man’s life goal once.

“… Correct. What is the shape of Gaia, the World we all reside on?”

Did the Guardian consider mankind for fools? What are these questions that even a toddler would breeze past?

“Speak!” Again the Guardian would broker no waiting.

“A sphere, not flat as some folk delude themselves to be the truth of Gaia.”

“Correct.” The Guardian’s reply was nearly drowned out by the grinding of stone as the door began to open, showing the darkness inside the Ziggurat. Markato took a step forward without thinking then stopped. Something was missing.

“… What of the third question? You said questions three, not questions two.”

It seemed to him that the golem’s jade-eyes rolled up in their sockets for but a moment. “The third question then. What letters make up the name of the Sacred City of Mivato?”

Again Markato thought that some trickery must be afoot. Any buffoon off the street could have passed this trial.

“Speak!”

“M-i-v-a-t-o!”

The Guardian returned to the pose it had when Markato had approached. “Correct.” it answered and the clear gem at its throat flared with a bright light then dimmed and cracked, a jagged line running across it. Markato swore he could hear a faint voice on the wind, saying “finally…” before fading away completely. Before him, the door into the Ziggurat was open and the Guardian defeated. Markato took a deep breath and crossed the threshold. The air inside was dusty and still. He felt he had to take deeper breaths for the same effect as he had to outside. The entranceway was covered in darkness but he quickly arrived in the center. The center of the Ziggurat was lit by a column of light shining down from the ceiling through a pane of glass-like material. Light could pass through but down through the centuries the clear material had remained unbroken. A small pond surrounded a pedestal in the middle, the shadows of fish and lilypads crossing the still waters. Markato’s heart skipped a beat as he saw what was on top of the pedestal. A sword still in its scabbard. The scabbard was wide to allow for the curved edge of the Seeking Blade. Dark-brown leather adorned with gold filigree and coloured gems of some kind. The pommel of the sword was alabaster-white. Markato reverently stepped forward and lifted the sword off the pedestal and held it carefully.

Slowly he chided himself on his care. The Seeking Blade was a weapon of great power, it wouldn’t break from some rough care. With a firm grip he took the scabbard in one hand, the dark leather creaking in his hand, and the handle in his other. With a deep breath he pulled.

Tink.

Markato stood for a long moment simply staring at the handle now in his hand, the brown edge of rust along  where the lip of the scabbard had met the blade the only thing he could think of. What had felt like creaking before was now a cracking as the dry leather of the scabbard came apart in his hand. Gingerly he upturned the dry scabbard and listened with horror as a few rusty pieces of the blade dropped out and landed on the marble floor. Experimentally he squeezed the handle of the blade, the breath catching in his throat as the ancient wood snapped almost immediately. He stood frozen in place as he looked at the utterly broken weapon. The mostly-intact scabbard in his hand might suffice was a ways to encourage the populace to follow him. It looked important enough. Caught up in his new plan he turned away from the pedestal and sheathed what remained of the weapon. As the crossguard slapped onto the scabbard the dried leather cracked one final time and split down the sides, the metal locket tearing off and clinging onto the stone floor at the threshold of the Ziggurat.

Markato threw the broken and frayed weapon away with a shout of rage as shouts started echoing through the streets that the siege of the Heretic had ended.

Dredgery – Letterbox

Letterbox – Indepentional

Letterbox was a really fun one to write. The limitation (inspired by this short by the author Brandon Sanderson) of it being only dialogue meant I had to describe any events and actions purely by the characters talking about it. It’s a format I really want to delve into some more (did it once which will be covered next time).

Another thing about it that I really enjoyed was all the characters either being named after celebrities (David Beckham) or characters from other stories I’ve written (Mrs Daunton). Somehow that really tickled me.

Heart.cfg to Heart.cfg – Indepentional

Oh hello Illya. If I had fallen asleep? Why would you think that?

Oh I was staring into space. Well I was just in my own thoughts. I had a weird experience a couple weeks ago.

What it was? Tell you what, get me a new drink and I’ll tell you all about it.


I was sitting in this very couch, nursing a watered do- I mean an excellent lager. This elderly gentleman, went by the surname Rinkerman if I recall, sat down opposite me, holding a similar beverage. And when I say opposite me, I mean that he sat in the exact same spot in the couch opposite, though I didn’t think back on that till later. Initially I tried ignoring him, thinking he had just chosen this spot at random in an otherwise sparsely-populated pub. But after a moment he took a big gulp from his drink and stared straight at me. While logic dictates he must have blinked at least once during our exchange, I can’t recall seeing any specific instances. I felt etiquette demanded I introduce myself so I did and he did the same. I tried to politely ask the gentleman why he was intruding on a man’s drinking time, though judging by his facial expression the politeness didn’t carry. He was a scientist in robotics, on a brief forced vacation, looking for some new eyes, of any kind really, on a project his group was working on with their own funds. This was in preparation for approaching institutes and similar groups with hopes of securing funding. Yes Illya, you’ve been there, we all know.

So he proposed that I would come with him to their research facility, look at their work, and he would pay for my return ticket and a meal. I upped his offer by asking him to pay for my drinks-tab as well. He agreed before knowing the exact size of said tab. To the man’s credit he didn’t flinch when the bill was presented.

So we hashed out the remaining details like which day and where we would be going. A small electronics-laboratory in the northern region of the place usually called Silicon Valley over in the colonies, apologies, the United States. I suppose I should have anticipated that but I had already agreed and a week’s worth of tab had been paid on my behalf so we found a nearby day that worked and shook hands. The elderly man thanked me for my time and continued on to some of the few other patrons of the pub at that hour. I went back to the remnants of my beer and wondered what I had just gotten myself into. The time until the trip passed without noteworthy events. Yes Illya I was in the pub a few times during that time but, as I said, no noteworthy events. I met Professor Rinkerman, along with a few other known faces from the pub, at the airport. He treated us to drinks and food in one of those little adult eateries you get at airports nowadays, you know the ones where they also sell spirits and such with your meal, until it was time for our flight. It was Economy-class, which felt like the first concession the professor made to there being a limit to his personal funds. We arrived at the airport after a flight which had been thankfully smooth. The guests, me among them, got bundled into a van and the professor himself drove us from the airport to his group’s laboratory. It wasn’t quite as smooth as the ride by aeroplane but I still caught some sleep. It had been almost 4 in the afternoon when we had left England, you see, so I was feeling a little jet-lagged.

The laboratory sat in a group of other like buildings, offices and other research facilities. They had a key-lock at the door but I never spotted any security personnel in the time I was there. A receptionist inside provided us with name-tags to be worn during our stay and took our mobile devices and any other radio- or internet-capable devices as the professor had mentioned-

I hadn’t mentioned that? I’m sure I did. Must be my dry tongue. Richie! A refill please!

Now, where were we. Oh yes. The receptionist received our wireless devices and gave us name-tags in return. We were of course assured that we would get them back as soon as we left. The professor then led us inside through an airlock of sorts, except it was more of a signal-lock. The majority of the laboratory’s interior was a giant Faraday cage. As he met various colleagues in the corridors the professor explained that any part of their experiment, which I might add we were all still very in the dark on, that required outside assistance or transmission was conducted in an adjacent office-building and carried over on portable drives. Eventually we arrived in the ‘Observation Lounge.’ It was a sterile-looking chamber with a floor-to-ceiling window as one of the far walls. A lot of old chairs, couches and tables had been put in, probably for our benefit.

Mind, at this stage we still had not been told what they were actually doing besides the Faraday Cage. It’s been weeks now and I still can’t quite place why this stuck with me so much. The window looked into a room with sterile white walls, interspersed with shelves, and a wooden table with 2 chairs. I think the window was one-way because the occupants of the room never acknowledged the presence of any of us, nor any of the various members of the research team that came and went while we were there.

In the chairs were sat two androids, you know like robots made to look like humans. Their joints were clearly robotic but their faces and facial mimicry was worryingly well done. They each wore a hospital dress in some bland colours. Their forms did not seem designed to mimic any gender. They had pale life-like eyes and all the facial features you and I do except that their skin was a ceramic white. No cables were attached to them and they could move freely about the space they had been placed in. The professor informed us that the androids were not equipped with a wireless receiver. They turned them on via a switch hidden under a panel on their backs and the androids would continue their conversation until their first battery would run out, which was usually 8 hours if nothing strenuous was happening.

And that conversation is what stuck with me. Not so much the contents, they usually touched upon similar grounds of the news or a feature of the room. Their voices had some american accent from the Manhattan area. What struck me was that this was about as human a conversation as I’ve heard. Now, I’m not a religious person but my catholic school upbringing isn’t gone completely. I trust that you are all familiar with the expression ‘not a soul in sight’? Well, looking in through this window at two robots having a conversation I would otherwise have thought to be between 2 humans, I thought that this was the first human conversation without a soul involved. If anyone else had told that to me I would have dismissed them but I could not shake the thought. I watched for a while, losing track of time really, until the professor called us for lunch. I don’t recall much of that meal, my thoughts were still locked on that white chamber.

Huh? Oh, the food was excellent. The professor had hired an Italian chef to cook for the team. Anyways, the professor had secured lodgings quite close to their facilities and the group stayed over for a few days. We mostly spoke with him or his fellow researchers or observed the androids. Then they interviewed us, asking a few questions to help them prepare for possible investors and media attention then thanked us for our time and helped us get on the flight back home.

I didn’t keep in touch. The professor was friendly enough but I was sufficiently unnerved by their experiment that I didn’t keep the contact going. So I don’t know if they secured funding somehow and could keep going or if the professor’s money has finally run out. As for what they were specifically researching or hoping to get out of it, I’m not sure but, not to wish the professor ill fortune or anything like that, I hope it doesn’t enter the public eye.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to leave. I have a soul-music concert to attend.

It’s The Same, Right? – Indepentional

The trio crept past the threshold of the ruined door, a lantern lighting the way ahead of them. These ruins had been abandoned for centuries.

“Remember,” Jameson said as he crept in front, lit lantern in hand, “If we kill any of the snakes in these ruins, we can’t eat them.”

Rolf stopped in his tracks behind him. “Why, what do you mean?”

“They’re poisonous.” Jameson responded.

Rosa sighed. “Jameson, snakes are venomous, not poisonous.”

“It’s the same, right?” The man in front asked.

“No, it isn’t. Venomous just means you can’t allow them to bite you. You can eat them just fine.”

“Oh.” Jameson responded.

The group continued for a moment before Rolf spoke up again. “Wait, so if you thought they were poisonous, why did you buy anti-venom?”

Jameson pulled up one of the mentioned bottles, small flasks filled with a greenish liquid. “Anti-venom? This is liquor.”

The awkward silence that descended on the group was only briefly broken by the sound of a palm slapping into a face.

After The Trail Is Blazed – Indepentional

After The Trail Is Blazed – Indepentional

Trailnearest chicken-bacon to-go sandwich.”

Andrew’s e-bracelet beeped and his phone vibrated. He stepped lightly aside from the flow of people on he street and pulled his phone from his pocket. The Trail software had accepted the command and overlaid a clear blue path on top of a map of the nearest streets. Andrew skimmed the map and followed the instructions. On a list besides the map were several other suggestions for food on the go but Andrew knew what he wanted, no need to ponder or look around. He stood aside to let a couple of other customers out before entering and walking with sure strides down the aisle to the sandwiches. The Trail map even extended so far as to tell him the shelf he would be looking for. Grabbing two packets for good measure Andrew walked over to the till, paid and then left.

Trail, nearest computer accessories store.”

Again the software put an overlay over the map, this time showing a longer distance than before. Andrew would be crossing 3 bicycle paths and 2 roads on the way and a bright ? on the path denoted a place of interest. He put one sandwich-packet in his backpack and ripped the other open then set back on his path, walking along the press of people while munching his food. Andrew ate the last of the sandwich as he crossed the second of the bicycle paths. He crumbled up the packaging and made a motion to toss it away before stopping himself.

Trail, add nearest bin to current route.”

A branch-like network of detours sprouted on the map, each terminating in a little bin-icon. He choose one at random and continued, dumping the sandwich-packaging as he passed the bin. The rest of the way to the computer store was somewhat windy but Trail kept him on the path. The ‘place of interest’ was a large work of graffiti street-art depicting a man, much like Andrew himself, walking through a landscape while using the Trail app. His e-bracelet beeped. The Trail app could use more photos of this ‘place of interest’ so Andrew snapped a quick photo then continued on his way.

He arrived at the store in short order. It was pretty noisy with a bunch of other customers consulting devices as to what hardware or accessory to buy. He was looking for a cover for his own tablet and he already had a specific one in mind. Trail beeped and the aisle and shelf location bloomed up as text on his screen.

He left almost as quickly as he had entered, tablet-cover in his backpack.

Trailroute to home.”

Silence.

Trail, route to home.”

No change. His e-bracelet was dark so he pulled his phone up. Fine reception but Trail couldn’t find any connection to the servers. He pressed the Report Issue button but was met with a similar problem. Andrew looked around him. Several other people had just left the store, each mumbling commands to their app but none seemed perplexed.

He sheepishly approached the nearest person, a man with a baseball cap screwed onto a big head. “Erm, excuse me, is your Trail working?”

Surprise, then confusion spread across the man’s face. “Oh sorry, could you repeat that?”

Hadn’t he listened? “Is your Trail app working?”

The man looked just as confused as before but looked down at his screen then turned it towards Andrew. “Of course it does.”

“Odd, mine can’t connect.” Andrew responded. It seemed clear to him that the man wanted to be away.

“Huh. Well just use the report function.”

Andrew inwardly sighed. “Tried that, same problem.”

“Really? Then search for their customer support number. Can’t be hard to find. Excuse me, I really have to go.”

The man was already turning away before Andrew could respond. “Okay, thank you for your time.” He typed “trail customer support” into the phone’s default search function. ‘+45 46926734’. Came up in bold type straight away. Andrew felt he should be sitting down so looked around. The broad street was choked with people using the side-walks and scattered bicycles ran along the middle but in a narrow bit between the two he could see a wooden bench with a large flowering bush growing around a big net of steel bars. Minding that he was walking cross the flow he hurried over and thumbed the support number into his phone as he sat down.

There was no queue. A womanly voice responded in a friendly, yet professional tone. “Yes this is Karin at the Trail help-desk, how can I help?”

“Erm, yes, my Trail app can’t connect to the servers. I would have used the Report function but that also cannot connect.” For some reason his problem sounded outlandish even to himself.

“Hmm, we have no reported server outages. Okay, if you could give me your phone model and Trail user ID, I’ll see what I can find.”

“Cyborg Ac-model, #242982-1984.”

“Right. It seems your user has been temporarily locked. I apologise, it’s an issue on our end, bug in the new version.”

Okay so it wasn’t some odd signal switch-up from the store. “Okay so what can I do?”

“I can unlock your user straight away, the logs don’t show any activity that should lead to a user-lock. Unfortunately it will take about 30 minutes for the app to register the change.” Karin responded in a tired tone.

“Not to be rude but that seems like a long time for what sounds simple.” Andrew responded, trying to sound jovial.

“It is. I apologise again. If you wish for some refund because of disrupted service I can forward you to our PR people.”

Andrew briefly scanned around him. In the distance the city’s cathedral poked above the skyline, its bell-tower visible almost everywhere. He lived pretty close to that and knew the route from the cathedral square by heart. “Thank you for the offer Karin but it shouldn’t be a problem.”

“Okay, if you change your mind, your case is open for another 5 working days. I hope you have a good day and thank you for calling the Trail help-desk”

Andrew thanked the woman for her help and hung up. The crowd on the side-walks had thinned out a little so he hurried to fold in, walking in the approximate direction of the cathedral. Shortly after he left the cross-section where the computer store was located he passed a side-street that linked two of the larger streets in the city. It was roughly the direction he should be going so he pushed out of the crowd and headed down.

The side-street was a riot of colours. Shop-signs seemingly competed to be the most colourful or gaudy. Clothes on drying-racks and blooming flowers hung from balconies above him. Buildings with red or yellow brickwork were covered in more graffiti, lines of runny paint flowing down from the street-‘art’. Several small eateries were open along this street, the smell of food poking at the hunger he had sated with a sandwich earlier. He stopped several times to look at pizzas, hot-pots and tubs of hot-from-the-fryer chips. He thought of the sandwich unopened in his backpack but quickly felt otherwise. Towards the end of the street he found a narrow shop where the front was a ground-to-roof painting of a bowl of hot noodles with herbs and a whole fried egg on top.

He ordered the one on said cover and got pretty much that. The large bowl was filled near to the brim with noodles, broth, herbs and egg. It was hot and warmed him from the inside quickly on the cold October day. Even though the spices and heat almost scalded his mouth he ate quickly and moved on his way, mentally making a note of where that street was. He kept the direction as best he could but more side-streets and small shops kept distracting him.

Before long, Andrew realised he had arrived back at the graffiti street-art he had passed earlier. Now that he was looking at it again he noted more than on his first passing. The man, with Trail-app n hand, was in grey-scale with no colours, the phone backlit by a grey halo with the windy-path Trail logo. The man was staring at the phone, not noticing the vibrant colourful landscape around him. Small birds and animals of the forest were depicted in moments of movement, flying or leaping about in the flowering bushes and blooming meadows, all of which the man missed by virtue of his staring at the Trail map.

Andrew felt a vibration in his pocket and his e-bracelet lit up. A service-message with the announcement – “Trail service has now resumed. We apologise for the inconvenience.” showed up on his notifications-list. The map from the computer store to his house blinked onto the screen. Andrew looked at it for a moment then his view panned back up, the tall bell-tower of the cathedral peeking up above the skyline of the city. A deft thumb flipped open the active-apps list and closed Trail. He’d know the way.