Originally published in E.R.O.S. Journal

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Alpha in Situ II

It only begins.

Naked body, white walls, white ceiling, polished concrete floor.

A room that is close as any to a cube.

Indeterminate time of day.  Little action to note save for the soft rise and fall of chest and a faint nasal exhalation.

In time I awake.

Here I am.  I am here.


A body in a room.  A skull that feels soft against the mass of concrete below.  I pull myself upward to sit and the floor spreads its grey chill through the base of my feet, my arse, my balls.  The sensation though not enough to make me shudder, is noted

Above me a curtainless, blindless window pours light and a little sound into the room.  The glass frontier beyond which …  I don’t know.  Do they hunt for meaning out there?  Do you?

The room is quite empty in a way that may suggest that some symbolic trespasser might crawl slowly and with heavy inference across the floor.  You choose, Cockroach, snail, armadillo?

But no such incursion.

Stimuli wise if you wish to fill the void, you might suppose that these featureless white walls conceal seamlessly fitted cupboards, veiled from your Vaseline smeared eye.  In such cupboards perhaps you might presume to find racks of identical pressed Armani suits or the complete back catalogue of Huey Lewis and the News.  Not forgetting, of course, the obligatory set of razor honed, artisan kitchen knives; their presence nodding vigorously to something a little more substantial, probably in the assault weapon mode, nearby.

In the room hinted at beyond, in fact a cube four times the size of this one, your reverie may bring forth from arctic concealment a state of the art refrigerator, a 42” colour graded plasma screen or a Carrara marble bath tub with Neo blue underlighting.  For the first time visitor it is a set of rooms that truly ache for the presence of consumables,

But no.  There is nothing here beyond which you can see, which is me, naked knotted upon a concrete floor, the cold tickling my feet and nether parts.  If it helps the picture, pose-wise think of Arnold Schwarzenegger as he first appears in ‘Terminator’ in a taught Promethean huddle, like a compressed version of a classical discus thrower.  I feel a little disingenuous, throwing you that image, as an increasing and marked indifference to exercise does mean that perhaps I’m a little less ‘solid’ than I once was.  Though I’m more, continuing the Terminator theme, Christian Bale ‘Terminator Salvation’ than Christian Bale ‘The Machinist’.

Does that help any?



The walls and floor remain as they were but the light coming into the room now is brighter.  Perhaps the sun is rising.

Should I say a little about the sound that penetrates the glass?  Best described as a faint percolation that never could be said to rise to a muffled chatter.  If it wasn’t for the minimal increase in volume gained from placing my ear upon the glass, something I have been increasingly inclined to do, it is a sound that may suggest damage to or a defect of the eardrum.

No discernable smells.

I’m guessing a hint of tiger balm might tick the right box.

Ok enough.

And what is the point of all this? This scene and attendant affectations?

Here’s the rub, if you will pardon me.

My name is Alpha.  I am the first man.

Have you ever heard the phrase ‘The Universe is the interior of the Lightcone of Creation’?  Alan Turing, I believe.

A beautiful image and it serves well as a satisfying CGI on television programmes on such matters; starry masses rushing towards the camera as the firing gun sounds. In time some slow, falling into formation whilst others more voracious bodies, break through the plane of vision and rush on to Viva Ultra.  Not to mention the implication that you, in that armchair are Observer number 1, the Big G. It’s a feel good way to start creations day.

But really.  No, that isn’t what happened at all.  The Universe does not smile in this way.  There is nothing so exotic as a Lightcone; there is in fact just this series of white rooms, a window that suggests something beyond and me.

What actually happened is very simple and it is this; One day I woke up.

That day was extraordinary on two counts.

Firstly it was the first time that I had woken and secondly, on waking, from my throat came a scream.

And that was that.



My scream hung in the air in these rooms for what could have been days, months or years; Traces and resonances eventually falling to silence.  And in the time that followed I came to think of that sound, to recall those fading sounds.

How do you imagine a sound?  What does the absolute sound like?  In time I realised that to recreate a sound in thought (especially with no frame of reference, no internal sound library) is a fruitless and frustrating endeavour.  Instead I began to hum and then to sing what I could recall of the sound.  Then with these poor, amateur equivalents speaking only of lack I began to formulate more complex relational systems; these became words and the space between the words became more words and then….

And in time I filled the world in my attempt to recall that sound.

All the world springs forth.

Every thought, every object, every love, every loss, every work of art, every ill-considered movie franchise.  Each an attempt at equivalence, my best attempt at some poorly rendered part of that resonance.

These days I often forget the point of this endless procession and merely lose myself in its banality.  So many thoughts to distract me; I create worlds, populate them, nurture them even entertain them.  I live the life of endless imagined souls, their tribulations and triumphs.  But why?

The sound is far beyond lost.

I find myself sleeping more and more these days.  A deep, warm dreamless sleep.  Waking life is at best a drag.  Me and the chill of the concrete floor.  The light from a window.

I am so bored.  I am so tired.

And this is how it will end.  The chill from the floor will creep up my spine and fill my body.  To summarise; the first man.  The last man, alone in a room ruminating on the involuntary spasm of the moment of his creation.  Trying to crawl back in or at least to swallow that gasp; to un-utter the beginning.  The world began with a whimper not a bang, blah.

And this is how it will end.  Bored man in room.  Perhaps.  Time for sleep.



Some time later.

Naked body, white walls, white ceiling, polished concrete floor.

A room that is close as any to a cube.

Indeterminate time of day.  Little action to note save for the soft rise and fall of chest and a faint nasal exhalation.

And then…The angular blast of a ringing telephone, a digital proxy for a Bakelite handset but convincing enough nevertheless.  Naked man in room stirs, eyes open slowly to sullen half reveal.  Phone rings.  Phone rings.  Phone rings.  Phone rings.  Silence a pause before the drawn out beep of an answering machine.

Robot-ish voice; ‘Please leave a message after the tone’.

‘Alpha this is your Mother here….












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