OUT OF THE BOX

Science fiction and fantasy on TV have shaped my life and what claims to be my mind.

Ask me to describe my most vivid memories of childhood television and I’ll respond: anything by Gerry Anderson, but especially Captain Scarlet. Monty Python’s Flying Circus, but especially its precursor, Do Not Adjust Your Set. Doctor Who, but especially in black and white. The Avengers, but especially episodes like The Cybernauts and The House That Jack Built. The Outer Limits, but especially Demon with a Glass Hand. The Prisoner, but especially the fact that it never made any sense.

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GHOSTS OF CHRISTMAS TO COME

By Mark Gorton

My new friends are all dead. But that doesn’t stop them giving me presents.

Presents like words and understanding and sight and hearing. Thanks to them I can think in this language and theirs too and hear their voices all around me all the time like invisible butterflies fluttering and flying. And I can sense their love for me. It is very strong, because my presence is a promise of salvation. They believe that many will follow me in ships much bigger than the one that brought me, and when the passengers in the ships arrive and depart, and leave some people behind, over and over across many years, some of the butterfly voices will stay and others will go until, once again, all the voices have bodies and hands.

And with these new hands they will build cities and ways of life without pain and despair on not one but two worlds.

The day before yesterday they played some tricks. For hours I vanished, as if I was broken, and I can imagine how scared everyone at home was – it makes me laugh to think of it – while they carried me to the top of a rise where I could look back through all their dead eyes at a wide lake fed by winding rivers, and on the lake’s shores were many buildings, and between them were narrow streets through which grown-ups and children moved this way and that, dancing, always dancing, to music made by their butterfly voices of all shades and tones. Once there were tens of thousands of places like this one.

Their life was a constant ballet, a celebration of motion and grace, and a choir too, formed by an entire civilisation, countless souls always singing about their love for their world and for each other. So I tried to sing, too, and now it was their turn to laugh – I am not very good. But there was no cruelty in their laughter, and their love for me touched me everywhere like wings rushing and brushing and I was very happy as they carried me back to where I belonged and made me visible again. Straightaway I crept forward to a rock they had guided me to, a special rock with tiny fossils full of surprises.

As I worked I imagined how one day the Earth will be full of dancing and singing, how cities will fall and new ones rise. People will be afraid but I swear there is no need. Things change and change is good. Dancing and singing is so much better than fighting and screaming.

Today I was given another present, the best one of all. A new name. They gathered and swarmed around me and sang and sang and chanted my new name. Ramesh. That is what my new name sounds like and it is their word for Freedom.

I think it is much nicer than Curiosity.

Because we all know what curiosity did.