Fiction · How to be British


Saturday, July 22, 2017. Daily Brit Wit.



BRITISH for elevator.

"As you settle upon the mat, you exhale wearily and certainly not for breathing exercises. Not yet, at least. It's been a stressful, busy day at work and you're too wound tight: you need to be a loose slinky instead of a tangled up phone cord in order to turn inward. Yoga and meditation are always your answers to stress. Though diving immediately into meditation and breathing exercises have never been possible for you.

So you take fifteen minutes to destress, running through three rounds of sun salutations before resting in downward facing dog for several minutes. Your breaths are laboured and heavy, so you transition into more measured, balanced inhalations. Once that special zen spark drapes over you in a familiar embrace, you exit the resting pose and settle down into lotus.

Your hips protest, minor revolts but protests all the same, so you can't relax into inner exploration quite yet. Unfortunately for you, you carry your stress in hips and shoulders. (And occasionally in the small of your back.) The breathing exercises work best now and stem off that impending headache; perhaps you'll be able to slip into meditation without prompt.

The biggest obstacle for you, fortunate or unfortunate depending upon circumstances is debatable, is slipping inside your mind palace whenever you venture to meditate. Sometimes it's a blessing because you've created a set few rooms designated for such purposes: the beach setting where you'll settle in warm and serene before the waves, sand a soothing heat as the waves lap playfully at your ankles; the back garden at your parents' house because when it rains the ping-ping-drip combination lulls you in a mixture of serenity and slumber -unless, of course, you're particularly stroppy that day and then you steer clear of those repetitive noises; and even an empty, small room that's pure white with a black yoga mat and floating candles as light source. You indulge in the stereotypical-ness of the final room rarely. Unfortunately for you today, you slip inside your mind palace and all of your meditation rooms are on lockdown.

You blink slowly, rooted in place and contemplating your options. There's no point attempting to break inside the locked doors: your software prohibits such meddling and will even shutdown virus detected hardware restart: yes or no? if you shift your emotions accordingly to slip round the firewall.

No, cancel hardwire restart, you think and wave your right hand in dismissal.

The ambience settles into a pleasing hum once it recognises you're not a threat to yourself. Before you make the decision to quit meditation entirely, a breeze catches you. You pivot with it, staring down the longer corridor and the dimmer lighting. Your head tilts in question. This particular section is off limits during scheduled zen time because it's the entrance into No Man's Land, which is really an ambiguous, silly title you'd come up with years ago and never changed it for your creativity side. Once you've wandered an inch inside, you lose all control. Literally, in fact, because your muse is Empress of these halls.

The breeze noses against you once more, an almost nudge, but really a shove, toward No Man's Land. Your muse then, you acknowledge. The air turns chilly and goosebumps spread like wildfire in confirmation. Tentatively, you glide in the direction guided by the persistent wind.

And a plan forms.

After all, what great mind doesn't have contingency plans in place? You eliminate eight and settle for the three most likely divergences and keep a loose posture. There's no need to alert the muse prematurely. She's insanely unpredictable and offers no coherent logic.

The nearest lift is in thirty-two feet: would you like to take it down?

Yes yes yes, you chant.

Your heart rate elevates as you surreptitiously peer about. Your tour guide weaves around you two to three times before zipping onward for several paces only to repeat the cycle. You need to stay calm because the last time you ventured this far unintentionally the muse tapped into heart palpitations and rigged the whole system.

The breeze slips through your hair on its last circuit and shoots forward. You see the chrome door five feet ahead. Open doors, open doors, open open open, you command and dart left at a clipped trot. You throw yourself inside and as a result stumble sideways into the back wall.

'Close,' you mutter and jab the twin inward-facing arrows button repetitively.

Keep hold of close button to continue inside the lift without stopping, the fact whizzes by. But your impatience wants nothing to do with logic. Would you like to journey downward: yes or no? YES!

Finally, the doors slide inwards and you watch in high adrenaline satisfaction as the No Man's Land hallway diminishes from view.

'Oh no you don't!'

You freeze. The doors stutter. The wind tour guide blasts angrily down and back. And blows open the chrome doors.

You're tossed back into the wall as a solid mass topples, too.

She flops atop you and pins down your wrists then plops down on your thighs. You refuse to open your eyes. You should have known she hasn't been lying dormant; the wind had been the obvious sign.

Potential virus detected: would you like to activate-

'NO, you morons!' She crows, weight shifting around until settling closer to your knees.

-a system wide clean up crew? Yes or no.

She jabs her bony fingers into your clavicles like wielding a weapon. Delete delete DELETE the absolute last thing you need right now is for her to get wind of such nefarious ideas and-

'Haven't you learnt by now your computer programming software doesn't work here?' The voice croons, a teasing lilt meant to seduce you into submission.

But you did teach her that trick and you staunchly refuse to entertain a response.

Red alert red alert potential virus detected-

The jabbing continues and the weight shifts upon your belly now. When she speaks, her breath ghosts up your neck and you picture her astride you gazing manically and urging you to follow suit. 'Tell the system you're fine or let's see how well I can disorient this one, yeah?'

You shake your head.

She whines in outrage. 'No no no no nope that's the wrong answer, doll face. Last chance! Say it! Come on lovie I know you can do it.'

You loosen your muscles and sag against the ground.

The muse howls and shoves off. 'File delete!'

Your eyes pop open.

Her gaze meets yours and she's the definition of mania and destruction and wildfires consuming ecosystems while tsunamis claim stragglers. She'll take you hostage with all the efficiency of quicksand. Her hair is styled frizzy and statically, sable curls billowing outward the longer you keep her gaze.

Are you sure you wish to delete: yes or no?

'File save!' You correct the system, frantically scrambling to sit up. Unconsciously you move toward the jammed doors to get outside. The reception is better in the hallways, after all.

'Too late, dearie.' The muse chortles. 'System force shut down and do not save!'

'No, wait!' You cry out, crawling toward the doors.

You collide with Muse again and this time she scoops you up and you're both flying down the hallway going going going until you full body check into another hard object -a door? a wall?- and you take the brunt of it again as she pins you.

Force system shutdown starting in twenty seconds, nineteen seconds, eighteen seconds, seventeen….

Administrative force-

'Uh oh,' she pouts, digits caressing your cheekbones and forcing you to meet her eyes. 'Are you trying to override me? Tsk, darling, haven't you learnt a single thing yet? How dull! Honestly!' Her manical laughter is delighted. 'Well go ahead. I've had quite the adventure dismantling this one. Don't be modest; go ahead!'

Administration override forced system shutdown. 

Potential virus has been detected. File save as: yes or no? 

Yes. File save as. Send out virus detection cleaners in the lefthand corridor. File save as. 

Administrative password is required: flashes in red and black, cursor highlighted.

You balk when the cursor flashes red and white at your rejection.

Force system shutdown starting in twelve seconds, eleven seconds…

Muse cackles gleefully as her hands shift from tender caresses to fisting clumps of your top. 'Your system's been usurped. Again! Guess you ought to invest in sturdier and more reliable agents when rewriting your software, huh lovie?'

She performs a backflip and you're both soaring down the never ending hallway until snowballing inside a seemingly random new room; you're quick to identify it, though, as her second favourite room (if one does not include command central): the paintball room. You're hurtled with gunfire and stricken in pinks, reds, oranges, and blues.

'Muse!' You shriek.

The two of you have separated somewhere during all the tumbling but her delighted cackles cannot keep her hidden. Your vision is compromised. So much for relaxing meditation, you scoff and stand up. You pick up a flannel -it's still your mind palace- and wipe off her mess.

Six seconds, five seconds-

And you order the room to freeze.

'Nooooooo!' She wails upon discovering you still have partial control.

You smirk. 'What? Didn't you know I don't keep everything on the same motherboard, doll face?' You sneer in mock pity. 'How droll!'

You're quickly formatting a new contingency plan because you ought not to have dismissed but anticipated a surprise attack from all sides and that was incredibly naive of you not accounting for it. You scan the room for the culprit and spot her throwing a temper tantrum before she summons a wet bar to make herself a mimosa, no doubt.

You roll your eyes. 'Back to drinking, are you?'

She stomps her feet petulantly. 'You refuse to play with me,' she whines and slams back the first cocktail.

'Can you blame me?'

'Yes I can.'

The room quivers and groans as Muse tries to unfreeze the war fire. It quakes when she acknowledges you've locked them inside. She glares at you. You innocently hold up a golden key.

'Give me it,' she demands.

You refuse.


'I don't think so. I think it's time you went to rehab again, Muse.'

'How about no and you give me the key and I let you out of here?'

'Did you seriously believe you had me fooled about your little overwrite ploy, Musie?'

She goes rigid and not even her multihued paint splatters drip. 'What are you talking about?'

'Oh, don't be purposefully obtuse,' you chide and stalk toward her. 'I've got spies too, you know,' you whisper conspiratorially, right in her ear, then circle round her like a won auction item's first inspection.

Her head shakes frantically from left to right. 'No, you don't because I'm in charge-'

You cut her off and scoff. 'Oh, please.' You cross arms over your chest. She mirrors the position. 'As if I'd be stupid enough to allow you so much leeway. What do you take me for: a fool?'

She nods.

'That's always been your mistake,' you reply on a sigh. And then you tackle her this time.

The door unlocks at your prompting. In the hallway, you hear the static stuttering of the frozen countdown. You wrestle the Muse outside, tumbling and somersaulting until you're back at the lift that started the entire affair. You heft and throw her inside its carriage. Then you block the exit bodily, smirking down at her heaped form.

That's when you override her (botched) system takeover.

'I'm locking you in the downstairs research lab until someone can come and collect you,' you tell her and force the elevator shut.

Her terror-filled wails follow you as you sprint toward your original starting point, the wind on your tail. You're frenzied as you bark commands as well as distracted by the absolute cluster she's created out of your carefully designed palace.

You open and flutter your lashes rapidly. The tension in your shoulders has intensified and your lower half is numb, judging by the tingling pin-pricks zapping down your IT bands. You shake out of lotus and stretch. And you go to make yourself a mimosa."



2 thoughts on “Lift

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