Friday Flash Fiction: Grey Matter

I missed out on the flash party last Friday, but here’s a story I’ve been working on all week that I think quite fondly of. Hope you like it as well.

(Note: I’ve just found out that the FFFFacebook group has been used to establish the theme for this week, and because I’ve not checked my bookface in a while I didn’t know about this. Whoops. Sorry guys.)


I see him walking by me, snobby longnose, digits rubbin’ ‘n tappin’ at temple, every day, see, I see. Every day on his way from metro to tower, tower to metro, few hundred feet, rubbing ‘n tabbing. Hides his eyes behind dark glasses. See a lot of dark glasses these days. Richer types, bluer blood ‘n such as I, got little micro-chipses in the head. Some tells me they thinks faster, ‘members more, even things as never happen.

Makes me think, this. If’n they can ‘member things as never happen, they can forget things as did. Colour me fair jealous a’ that.

So I starts watchin’ him closer-like, this head-scratcher, scalp-poker, itchy-itchy at the little wires and plastics under the skin and hair and bone. Sev’ral times in a month I see him trip, hand leaves head, fingers fan out, he catches his balance. Roun’ him there’s kids, poorer folk, shopworkers ‘n tourists with snappy-cams, they’s snigger at him, moment o’ derision for the richies that sit up top an’ shit on ’em all. Then he’s off agin and they’s just a crowd once more, sullen-like that they gets no ‘puter brains to get ’em on top an’ keep ’em there.

Still, little enjoy-your-trips make me thinks, see, not needin’ no extra wirin’. Fella don’t notice stuff as bein’ about him when he head-scratchin’ like that, too busy wit’ his numbers and facts and jugglin’ little en-sic-lo-peeds in the grey ‘n green matter, like. Sorta distraction a cunnin’ type could take advantage of. Mayhap a cunnin’ type such as I.

Little problem, mind. Everyone watch him when he trip. Everyone watch him, all the time. Lil’ side-eyes shootin’ resentment, waitin’ for the stumble-tumble, watchin’ and waitin’ for the mighty to fall. Mmm.

So’s I leave my cubby-hole, little place-o-safety, every man’s home a fortress. Creep along through the darks that flank the light and bright streets. Watchin’ ol’ longnose, rubbin’ an’ tappin’ an’ countin’.

Don’t take long for old man opportunity to come a knockin’. Turns out to be at a cubby door in the metro pisser. Big man gotta weak bladder, dodgy bowel, too much caviar in the lunchbox, somethin’ like. But in he goes and after I creeps and door he shuts behind, lockin’ me out, big room aroun’ the small, another man shakin’ hisself out agin the piss-tray.

Time to use the ol’ noggin. I finds a cubby next to my scalp-poker, lock the door behind me natural-soundin’. Wait wait wait, tick tock tick tock of a watch next door. I hear the other fella outside up an’ leave, not waitin’ to wash his hands. I tries not to titter: rough-sleepers got better hygiene than some housed fellas.

But I don’t let rip, no no, it’s time to be quiet-like. First up, peek under the stall-wall. Black shoes. Leather. Expensive. Socks, trousers, belt.

Next it’s up–careful, quiet now– and peek over the stall-wall. I see him, finger-tappin’ away, still hidin’ his eyes, still in his own little world. Perfect. With a slither-slither and a scufflin’, I haul myself up and over quick and sharp-like. And before he catches up with himself I’ve got a hand over his mouth and his glasses are hangin’ off and at last I see his eyes. They’re full o’ fear. All his numbers gone run away.

Then I thinks: alla this time, I bin after this guy ‘cuz of what’s bein’ in his head. Ain’t been usin’ what’s in mine. How’s I expectin’ to get them chippy brains outta there?

His chin’s all smooth unner my hand. Smooth like a babby or a bottle. I stare at him, he stare at me, an’ there’s not a twitch from us. S’a Meh-hee-can standoff, compadre, I can’t move unless you do! So I thinks, an’ thinks a bit more, an’ then I gets it. I smile big teeth at poor scared little man and reach out to him, out to his headfaceeyes…

An’ then, quick as a lightnin’-flash, I’m outta the cubby, big man made little behind me, confused an’ starin’ at the real. I’ve a skip anna hop anna trip anna skip, wearin’ my new dark glasses, a-rubbing ‘n tapping at temple, with bigbig thoughts in the ol’ grey matter.

12 Responses to “Friday Flash Fiction: Grey Matter”
  1. Justin says:

    Really nice. You’ve nailed the MC’s voice. :)

  2. GLP says:

    Good one with nice narration. Reminiscent of Stross’s “Manfred Macx” stories.

  3. Shaun CG says:

    Cheers guys! I’ve not tried to write anything in as unusual a voice as this before, so I’m glad I got it right. I was worried it drifted over the course of the story despite efforts to bring it back into line.

    I’ve not heard of Manfred Macx before – is he a part of the Laundry series? I’ll have to keep an eye open.

  4. Justin says:

    Manfred is, IIRC correctly, in three of the short stories which form the first ‘chunk’ of Accelerando – a brilliant, if somewhat fragmented, novel-type-thing.

  5. Shaun CG says:

    And yet another that’s been sitting about here waiting to be read… sigh.

  6. neil says:

    This type of story is a really hard job to pull off well, nice job – very enjoyable.

  7. Shaun CG says:

    Cheers, Neil – glad you liked it.

  8. A little behind on my reading after a week in bed, but this is shit hot. Some of you guys are getting really good at this – I feel like I’m going to have to raise my game (even though I know it’s not a competition).

  9. Shaun CG says:

    Thanks, Martin, that really means a lot!

    I should admit, though, that I’m not really writing any other fiction at the moment, so all my energies are going into FFF at the mo (he says, having failed to post one this week).

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