Blind Control

The telephone’s ring reverberated and bounced around behind Alan’s eyelids, forcing them to open reluctantly. Immediately he regretted it, scrunching them shut as the light from the windows etched itself onto his retina. Sitting up groggily, head pounding, he groped for the receiver, and brought it to his ear.

“Yes?” he muttered.

“Good morning, Alan!” said Dima. “Did I wake you?”

“What’s the time?”

“Nine. Come down for breakfast, we must talk.”

“Give me twenty minutes.”

“No problem. I wait.”

Fumbling, Alan put the sleek, black receiver back on its perch, shut his eyes, and lay back onto the cream pillows, groaning inwardly.

It had not been a good night. He had drunk far too much, accepting Dima’s endless, meaningless toasts in celebration of security, life, power, money and whatever else Dima could think of to keep drinking more champagne. And then, an argument at the airport over the US immigration stamps in his passport with a humourless officer who would’ve had more personality as an automaton. It was only after Dima’s intervention (and a bribe, Alan suspected) that they managed to get through into the waiting limousine instead of being detained for “further questioning”.

The Federation still didn’t care much for foreigners linked to America, it seemed. Not that being British helped much, either.

Opening his eyes, he stared at the ceiling, trying to get used to the light.

A few more toasts in the limousine, and by the time they had reached the hotel, Alan couldn’t even tip the bellhop and simply collapsed onto the bed, room spinning and head swimming, only to find that he couldn’t sleep. Instead, Dima’s words echoed in Alan’s thoughts throughout the night, like an annoying loop of elevator music, whispering incessantly into an inner ear that could not be silenced with a pair of rubber plugs.

He knew what transference meant, all right. Dima may have been fooled by Alan’s bravado, but the knot of tense unease brewing with the champagne and lobster in his gut couldn’t be ignored.

Going through with it wasn’t going to be as easy as he had thought.

Alan reached up and rubbed the sleep from his eyes. The light still hurt. Getting out of bed, he padded barefoot in his boxers across the soft carpet, closed the curtains, and turned on the soft glow of the wall lamps instead.

He looked around the room, registering everything for the first time without a drunken haze. Tasteless, he thought. It felt like some grandmother’s peach and ivory draped tomb. Dima had said something during the night about Russian businessmen and world presidents always staying at the hotel; they obviously got the better rooms. If he had to spend another night here, he would make sure to ask for one of those instead.

He went through to the marble-tiled bathroom, undressed, and got into the shower, the steaming hot water running down his face as he stood, eyes closed.

He wondered if Dima was right. Was it all about myself, and nothing to do with Annette? The water’s warmth spread through his body, as the headache receded into a minor, dull ache.

No. His eyes opened, and he wiped the water from his face. By helping myself, I help her.

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  1. […] Blind Control It seemed a lifetime away, but that was how he always remembered her: freckled skin, thinning, auburn-dyed hair, and a red lipstick smile full of life. Not like now. Did she dream in her cryonics chamber, he wondered – not for the first … […]

  2. […] claims regarding the defeat, or cure, of ageing fascinate me. In my most recent short story, “Blind Control“, I explored the idea of someone obsessed with the idea of extending his life, but I’ve […]

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June 30, 2008