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I Didn`t Know Where Thoughts Went

by Ian Smith 100 

Posted: 23 February 2006
Word Count: 533
Summary: A short trawl with this nightmarish bit of speculative sci-fi.

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I woke on a hard bed. I felt round my mouth with my tongue. I felt my gums and cheeks. They were dry. Theyíd been dry for a long time. I rolled against the safety rail. I opened my eyes. I was in a glass and steel corridor in a building full of TVs. The TV high above my bed was pounding out something unholy. It screamed for attention.

ďWill someone switch it off, please?Ē

No one came to switch it off. I smelled cigarette smoke. Cigarette smoke wasnít right inside a building. The trouble was I didnít know what was right any more. I didnít know why I was in a building surrounded by cropped lawns, traffic, and controlled disorder.

Filth hung off the walls. It just needed a lick of paint. I tried to stand, and made it to my feet because I wanted to cover the filth. I walked towards the noise of the traffic. Maybe it was carbon monoxide in my veins making me forget. They said carbon monoxide was a good way to go. I held the curtain and pulled, but it crumbled in my hand like papyrus.

I had to do something to make sure the paint covered the filth and dried properly. I stirred the tin. I covered the filth, the intricate woodwork, the condensation, and the mould. Plaster crumbled under the brush. I finished. I poured the rest of the paint down the sink. I drank from the tap. I needed water. I tasted paint coming out of the tap. I'd polluted my own drinking water. I spat paint into a wet towel, and rubbed my tongue till the taste went.

I saw filth on the curtains. I brushed mould off the curtains. A north facing room was bad. I needed a larger window. There was no way of letting moisture out. Cockroaches scratched under the bed. The light shade grew lichen. I swept a spiderís web, and smeared it across the shade. I cleaned the light shade with paint from the tap. It made no difference to the light situation. I needed to see.

The towel over the radiator was still wet. It wasnít my fault it was still wet, when I was drying out. The building trapped moisture. Someone needed to push the tiny window wide open. I was at the window again, that cliff edge, tilting, sliding, the bottle rack of prescription drugs coming towards me.

ďOpen the window, please.Ē

But the window shut itself in the breeze. I never heard it shut, like I never knew when I slept, or where I was. I woke in a corridor, in a room, in a building full of people like myself. I thought I knew my name, but I didnít.

I leaned back on the wet pillow. It was another fresh start. I didnít remember being put back to bed. I didnít know what time it was. I needed something to relax me because Iíd had a day of it, a week of it, a year of it, a lifetime of it. I stroked the stubble. I stroked the hole in my face. Dehydration sucked my thoughts. I didnít know where thoughts went.

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Comments by other Members

sazzyjack at 14:24 on 23 February 2006  Report this post
This is confusing in precisely the way I sense it was meant to be. I enjoyed it. The writing is great although

I had to do something about the paint to make sure it covered the filth and dried properly. I stirred the paint. I painted over the filth, the intricate woodwork, the condensation, and the mould. Plaster crumbled under the brush. I finished. I poured the rest of the paint down the sink. I drank from the tap. I needed water. I drank paint from the tap. I'd polluted my own drinking water.

I felt really bombarded with the wod paint in this paragraph. Might just be me though.

Thanks for an enjoyable read.


Ian Smith 100 at 18:13 on 23 February 2006  Report this post
Thank you Saz. Good point. I changed that offending para before anyone else got to read it, I think.

radavies1uk at 19:08 on 23 February 2006  Report this post
Heya Ian

I like the way it kinda burns in at you what's going on, feels quite intense.

Plaster crumbled under the brush. I finished. I poured the rest of the paint down the sink. I drank from the tap. I needed water. I drank paint from the tap. I'd polluted my own drinking water.

I like the surprise here with the "I drank paint from the tap." but I think this could be extended or deepened a bit to really embrace it or to carry over the shock I know I'd feel if I drank paint when I was expecting water. Hey, just the other day I picked up my mug and took a sip expecting cola, and cos it had milk instead I damn near jumped out of my seat :)

Thanks for the good read :)

paul53 [for I am he] at 09:40 on 24 February 2006  Report this post
Good moody piece here.
Just two points:
I leaned against the safety rail in a glass and steel corridor
Ö safety rail [of my/the bed] in a Ö
otherwise the reader thinks it is an unspecified transition from prone to upright, wheras the meaning is only clear later when he tries to rise.

I smelt cigarette smoke.

Nelly at 18:09 on 25 February 2006  Report this post
Hi Ian,

Pretty abstract. The type of story you read twice to make sure that itís as strange as you thought it was. This reminds me of a bad acid trip gone wrong, as if someone on a trip decides to paint his flat. So I imagine itís a descent into madness, paranoia, but it might also just be mad ramblings or have I missed a hidden meaning?

Either way, quite a nice ride. I decided to print this off and ended up reading it aloud to make sure I got the gist of it. I donít think anyone else heard me . . . I hope!

Where do you intend to go with this?


Ian Smith 100 at 13:56 on 27 February 2006  Report this post
Thanks for the comments. I updated it. I wrote a melodramatic story of someone drugged up in hospital years ago. Over time it boiled down to these few surviving moments. I like the intensity too, and the sense of existence fading away.

Where am I going with it? Its emotional weight changed, so I keep it on one side as a strange, pointless situation that I occasionally return to and think up a bit more hell. I'm pleased with the way it's been received. Going full on has to be the way with abstract pieces, ie the paint tasting should have been real, and the safety rail was all wrong.

Ian Duncan Smith

Patsy at 16:54 on 28 February 2006  Report this post
Hi Ian,

Sorry I'm so long coming to this -- been off line for a bit.

This guy sounds like someone who has been drugged against his will, and is seeing things that are not really there! A spy perhaps? A hapless husband? A kidnapped person? Or perhaps just some guy suffering from severe dehydration? Lost in the wilds with no water or food, out of his head? Plane crash? You could go anywhere with this. Well done.

Patsy :)

Ian Smith 100 at 11:31 on 09 March 2006  Report this post
Thanks Patsy, Drugged against his will! Excellent idea. Sounds like the opening to my novel coming up.


scarborough at 17:33 on 12 April 2006  Report this post
hi there, I see I'm reading this way after everyone else has, but, well, I guess that's the way of things when there's so much stuff on this group now! I did like this, and it did make me want to find out the bigger context that it came from; Will that show up anywhere accessible?

One thing I will say is that whilst I liked the style- short, punchy observations that suggest the characterís experiencing a succession of impressions and events without the ability to take it all in- I did think that the opening passage might need a little revision; each sentence has exactly the same rhythm to it when you read them, and it might do to break up what can slip into sounding a bit like a list. the rest of it's fantastic, just felt a bit like that reading the first passage.

Nelly at 19:51 on 20 April 2006  Report this post
Well done for having your work published Ian.

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