Some cold Jan morning Cruz and I were sitting at a Neon Express coffee bar, mouthing off about BlackGenie’s latest album cover; mirrored vinyl shining through star shaped perforations in the polyplas sleeve, a mini constellation in the shape of the BG’s glyph. Cruz strongly disagreeing with the criticism that I’m laying down on the lack of artistry “…any one can just cut a bit of the sleeve out to show the vinyl underneath, but what’s the story… you know ?. This album is about something, so why don’t they make a picture of it ?, this isn’t album art it’s packaging design man…!” after gulping his stale Mericano Cruz casually wiped his mouth and replies “you think with your eyes too much bud…”, sighing I put the album down on the counter and reach for my quadro espresso. “you know what I’m saying Cruz, I know you do…”

The deep graunching sound of an old stone stuck under the bottom rail of the tatty coffee bar door scraping through an ever deepening groove, struck out loud and hurried through the coffee bar bustle as the door was thrown suddenly open. A game player darted through and stopped at the head of the counter, her arms and legs were poised bent like she was waiting to catch a ball, her headset swung nervously as it pointed from corner to corner reading the room, floor to ceiling, scanning the length of the long glossy counter, green LEDs flashed epileptic-ally as code graphics from all over the room were retrieved by the device and scanned for game content, nobody in the bar or the queue had any game wear codes on them other than me and Cruz, the game player turned her head toward us and twisted it back as though she couldn’t believe what she was seeing, and then, snap !, her body stiffened, head shook slightly and with a gentle backwards stumble fumbled for the game pistol holstered to her leg

Out she drew the plastic pistol and pointed it dead set at Cruz’s head, it was a replica of the old NES Duck Hunt gun, but with the orange and grey colours reversed in super reflective metallic paint, from the barrel an LED glowed dim blue, she raised her other hand to support the grip. Adjusting her stance and shuffling a foot back, she braced herself, lips parted to show nervously gritted teeth, like she were waiting for the next move. Instantly I rummaged for the game dack in my BeastPak bag, hauling it out I winked at the screen to wake it up and pointed a lens at the game player. The device unlocked and optically tracked my eye movements through the app buttons on the screen until I was seeing the in game footage; the Neon Express Coffee Bar was transformed from smooth shiny light bouncing syntho resin walls and floors into a dark snowy winter cave, the girl’s avatar was a ragged and bleeding hunter, 1 life bar virtually depleted and winking above her fraught snow soaked head, a cracked open empty rifle at her feet and an old battered service pistol in her hands. I turned the dack towards Cruz, “hah !.. your a raging snow beast man…” he rolled his eyes and mumbled a sarcastic “…grrr ! ”, but through the dack it translated into a bellowing roar, The hunter tightened her grip on the pistol, pulled back the hammer.

Looking down at the counter Cruz noticed the mini star constellation of the SoundGenie album reflecting under the Neon Express’s harsh light, and that is when it occurred to him… “hidden content man…!” he cried gleefully, picked up the album and with both hands held it facing out at the girl, her headset blinked instantly and flashed rapidly as new content was scanned, zooming out on the dack I took in the whole room just in time to see the girl fire the pistol, the heavy old cold steel bucked as the hammer snapped into the firing chamber muzzle jumping in recoil as a sudden light speed laser beam left the barrel… modified ammo, she had some kind of bonus loaded. Shock waves rippled up her arms, the snow beast straightened upright onto hinds legs standing tall and mighty, forepaws held forward he summoned a wall of swirling chromatic pink smoke, a growing spinning disc of dense mega smoke, meta smoke, a metal mineral mist so deep that the plasma bolt became instantly absorbed and part of the whirlpool, colour merged with the intense swirl until it exploded with a sonic shake down, in an instant the cyclone snapped to sprinkles of tinsel light, the walls of the cave quivered resonating with a heavy ear splitting riff… BlackGenie has entered the game…!.







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“I am 36, I live and work in Norwich as an Architectural Designer, I enjoy writers such as JG Ballard, William Gibson and Jeff Noon from who I often feel inspired to write. To me the science fiction genre is the most prescient and contains not only predictions for future times but sidewards descriptions of the present. I have ambitions to write longer stories, but the pace of modern life seems to make things, not easier, but more complex, and so Flash Fiction is the result.” – Simon Woodward