Sandstorm

It was the darkest, coldest night of the year, she felt, as she stole her way out of the side door and into the blackness outside six months ago. The world was alive, still. Cars and lights and surges of people milling around malls and shopping centres like the sun was not going to rise in 3 hours.

It was the meanest, cruellest thing, she said as she ate two scoops of chocolate ice cream.

It was the harshest storm, she whispered, as she put the coats away in the cupboard.

The floors were polished to a shine. Gleaming in the dark. When the sun rose she could see her reflection in them. Her face distorted, blurry, somebody else.

The windows were dusty, so she got her cloth and slapped at them until the sand fell in little heaps on the windowsill. Then she dampened her cloth and smeared the windows so they became muddy. She could no longer peer out of them at the sand storm outside.

‘Perhaps it is for the better, perhaps seeing the storm is worse.’

There was food they had left on the table. Bits of rice by empty plates. Clumped with leftover sauce, some yogurt smeared on the side of the plate. Glasses covered in greasy fingerprints. The dim light that fills the room after a day of torrid heat, after the sun is covered by sand dunes, yellow world, dust up nostrils, clogging all the openings into the house. And when you step outside you have to cover your face. Wrap a scarf around your head, over your nose, only your eyes visible. Like a face veil.

And silence.

I don’t think you realise this, but sandstorms are silent.

After the initial gust of wind and wailing currents, there is only silence.

And a fog of dust.

Don’t stay out too long, you shall wheeze.

It was the coldest, harshest winter.

But the summers are long and arduous. And mountains of dust engulf the city every other week.

Me and Machine

The train poured out of the tunnel, and endless stream of boxcars and flat empty carriage holders, on and on and on, the engines roaring in a crescendo of deafening sound, yet the pull of the train too slow to warrant such a noise so it made it seem like a weak, outdated machine.

Maybe the train was just too heavy, and so the engines had to work extra hard. I counted forty boxcars and then I lost count, as more kept spilling out of the gaping hole of the tunnel at the furthest end of the station; the mouth of this huge cavern of a station echoing with humanity drowned in the noise of the machine. Boxcars filled by robots, operated by robots, stacked by robots and sent off by robots to factories run by artificial intelligence.

So much power created, and the world carried on pretending to be the humdrum efficient system humans had created it to be.

And still it kept coming, more and more, vomiting out boxcars as they trundled along to the ends of the earth. I watched them glide past, too fast to jump on without serious injury or even fatality, and too slow to not contemplate doing the latter.

In the end, when the noise faded after the last boxcar holder, devoid of its box, melted into the wavy distance of burning horizon, the station sat in silence. Hunched over after the hefty belch it had just expelled from its gut.

I looked around me. Emptiness. Stillness. The laughter and chatter I imagined beneath the roaring noise of firing pistons had disappeared with the train, and I was left alone.

Was it my imagination, there there were people around me? The heat blazed outside the gaping lips of the station, where trains go after they have surfaced from its gut. The sky was brilliantly blue, deliciously deceiving, for I knew my skin would burn and curl up into brown flakiness the minute I stepped out of the shadow. I was alone. Sitting on a bench. Clutching my canvas bag close to me, feeling my sweaty thighs meld together under the soft cotton of my dress, which felt a little damp from the sweat I imagined pooled there.

My throat was dry, but the shops were closed. I sat and waited for the next train, the next glimpse of humanity to cure my aching loneliness. I would imagine human chatter under the noise of mechanical efficiency. After all, machines were created by humans.

I can’t be the only one left in the aftershock of viral destruction. It can’t be just me and the machines. Me and the remnants of man.

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The Martian

I just watched this film in 3D.

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I must say it was the greatest 3D movie I have ever watched, not that I have watched many, but my husband, who has seen plenty, agreed with me.

Classic Hollywood drama/adventure/sci-fi, this film thrilled me to bits. Matt Damon played a remarkable character, a botanist left on Mars, believed dead. He has to provide food for himself in order to survive until the next mission arrives on Mars. How will he grow food on a dead planet? How will he contact those who left him?

It was original, detailing one man’s struggle to survive on an inhibitable planet.

It didn’t reek¬†completely ¬†of that well-known, shameless Hollywood ‘cheesiness’ you always find in stories of man’s triumph over nature.

The force of nature and space represented in this movie was mind blowing. It was explosive and phenomenal and I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed watching it. It was longer than two hours but it certainly didn’t feel that way to me. I was captivated.

If you enjoyed Gravity, you will definitely enjoy this film. Both stories run on more or less the same pattern, but they are also both hugely different.

The Martian was incredible. Go watch it. Now I’m off to bed because my eyeballs are burning.