Ms Fixit by Peter Salisbury

Bernice sprang the clips on the communications cupboard. Another routine job. She got these every time: ‘the dog’s chewed the wires’, ‘kids have stuck something in the card slot’, ‘someone spilt drink in it...’ ‘Smoke? Yeah, a bit of smoke, then it just stopped.’ Always some ‘mystery’ fault.

The white plastic case had a row of tiny winking lights and a hinged lid. It was mounted at eye level behind the door to the hall, next to the thermostat.Lucky this one has been fixed the right way up, Bernice observed. As if trying to be helpful, the little lid hung down out of her way, to reveal a selection of components. First she pressed the reset button to generate a test signal, then she pulled out the input loop. The fibre optic bundle bobbed as it found its natural curve, shooting glowing shapes onto the flush, cream wall.

Incoming data, blasting down a beam of light from who knows where. Technology! Where was it taking us? After a hundred years of chips this, lasers that, people had no idea!

 ‘You want a coffee?’ a man’s voice interrupted. ‘There’s still some in the pot.’ At the front door he had greeted her in his business suit, all set for teleconference after she’d finished. It was important, so could she be quick about it.

‘Me? Oh, yes. White no sugar, please,’ she replied, twisting round to take the diagnostic probe from her pocket. A tantalising aroma of breakfast toast lingered in the hall.

She glanced at the laser light and a stern warning entered her mind. “Do not look directly into the beam.” A bright spec appeared, into which the words dissolved as if cascading down a plug-hole. Bernice scratched her head with the end of her probe, eyeing the dot suspiciously. As she stared, patterns flowed out of the spot. Weird patterns, swirling patterns, hypnotic patterns. Was it true some people could read the data streams directly? As she heard the man approach, she let the probe slide out of her hand, ‘thump’ onto the carpet.

‘Here’s your coffee,’ the man said as he put a mug and coaster on the hall table.

He noticed the dropped probe and the woman’s unnatural stance. Then he moved closer, looked curiously at Bernice’s blank face. She lifted her hand mechanically and pointed to the wall.

A flickering beam from a thin, drooping cable flooded across the paint. How can light come out of a wire? The words formed slowly, his mind lost to the mesmerising swirls.

The man turned to Bernice, his gaze met her vacant stare. Her eyes were strangely bright but he could not sense her breathing. He watched the patterns dance, reflected on her pupils. Memories of breakfast and meetings faded, so absorbed was he now in the woman’s awful stillness.

‘Hah!’ A smile lit Bernice’s face. ‘Had you going there!’


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Comments

  1. That's a cute story. I have read Peter Salisbury's novels and enjoyed them.

    I'm still enjoying your excerpts and posts, Alain - thanks for posting.

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  2. Oh man, Bernice had me going there too! Great flash story, Peter.

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  3. How fun was that? And yeah, you totally strung me along too!

    Shana Hammaker
    SOULS, INC., Twelve Terrifying Tales for 2011

    ReplyDelete
  4. Great story - now I'm waiting for "The Old Store" on Kindle.

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  5. Thank you Helen, Shana, Alain and Daphne for your lovely comments. The Old Store anthology of short stories is on its way.

    Alain, you are doing a great job here. Thank you for posting my story.

    ReplyDelete

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