Helen Oyeyemi is author of four highly acclaimed novels including The Icarus Girl and White is for Witching which won the Somerset Maughan Award. Her latest novel Mr Fox was published by Picador in June 2011.
The last novel ever written is dated November 26th, 2015.
Everyone agrees that it’s an angry novel – when you open it up you hear the sound of swords ringing against shields.
The author ends his story with a tantrum: We’re laying down our pens, and believe me, you will feel the loss of us! You’ll cry out for us, but we’ll never return.
Much to his chagrin the world went on. It even improved.
A few weaklings died, dropping into comas as cherry blossom falls off trees, but that’s natural selection.
No, overall the world improved.
From crime reporter to communications manager, Charis Gibson is a wordsmith by trade, a God-follower by soul and recently a mum by nature.
It took her a while to notice it. But there it was, shorter than all the rest, with a little kink. And white, definitely white.
She had heard this used to happen, back at the turn of the century, before the implant was developed, but she’d never actually witnessed it. It was obviously some sort of a blip, all she had to do was check herself in for a replacement.
And yet. She was tempted to leave it for a while, just to see what might happen. Surely her body wouldn’t actually start to decay, one hair at a time. She craned towards the mirror, carefully pulling her skin taut as she scanned her reflection for any sign of change.
“Youth failure,” she said curiously, and a video flashed up beside her. A man in Northamptonshire had developed an immunity to his implant. At first, it had seemed like a quirky fashion idea and people had even started to ask for grey updates from the clinics. But then the wrinkles appeared.
She paused the last footage of him, taken before he became a recluse. The skin under his chin and eyes had started to sag. Small, dirty-brown spots had developed on his cheeks. His stomach was straining under his tee-shirt.
Recoiling, she grabbed the offending hair and yanked it out, before responding to the clinic ad that had started to play.
Ross Meikle recently graduated from University of York with a BA in Writing, Directing and Performance. He is a writer of fairy tales, short stories and plays. He is currently writing a fantasy novel titled, Crowning Glory.
I looked into the past, but I couldn’t see anything. It was too dark and it scared me.
Then I looked into the future, but I couldn’t see anything. It was too bright and it dazzled me.
I sat down in the present and clutched at my teddy. I tried to breathe away my fear and I became calm.
I looked back into the past again. I let my eyes adjust to the dimness. This time I could make out in the darkness a dusty, cobbled road strewn with the remnants of my life: lost toys, forgotten pens, odd socks. They were creeping towards me, dragging themselves through the dust to nag at me. I turned away from them.
I looked back into the future again. I let my eyes adjust to the brightness. I saw that the light was emanating from a tallow candle. The flame flickered both like a beaming beacon and a blazing brazier. I could not see what lay beyond.
Standing up with my teddy in hand, I swung my arm towards the candle. The ted caught alight and I let it soar behind me into the darkness. The blackness burned into light as all that dwelled there became ash. The lost toys melted, the forgotten pens bubbled, and the odd socks flared.
Bravely I took my first, liberated step towards and beyond the candle, leaving my baggage and my comfort to their cremation. My journey would be scary, but oh so bright.
– There are queues outside the supermarket again. They let us in, in tens. We move swiftly along the empty aisles full of empty shelves. Adam is getting good at this. He spots things before I’m even through the door; an old battered can of peaches which he crawls on the floor to rescue, a bag of split sugar which he grabs before anyone else sees it. At the back of the shop bread and flour are all that is left. No eggs. I am told by a man who is wearing a Happy To Help! badge that the chickens are all dead. However, If I meet him in the car park after 10pm he could sell me a tin of tuna for £49.99.
– Last night Adam turned to me when I was almost asleep and whispered in my ear. Lily. What if the rains don’t come this year? What then?
– There is nothing left but white porcelain; china cups and saucers, stainless steel – silver and gleaming, polished knives and forks; empty, clean wine glasses.
– Did we eat it all? I did eat a lot. Black olives stuffed with peppers and chillies. Honey roasted ham. Pork and apple sausages. Double chocolate fudge cake. Stilton with cranberries.
– I felt it for the first time today. In the leaf-less woods, close to our house. I went to see if anything was moving or growing. There used to be a stream of cool, fresh water and fish. I have washed my face in that stream at the beginning of spring and felt so alive and healthy and strong. I have swum in it in August, topless and euphoric at the end of a muggy, busy day. I could lie down on the bottom now amongst the dry wood and old sticks. I’d like to hear that stream again, a trickle at least, the stones underneath being softened and changed by currents of water; dip my toes in and feel the soft breeze of autumn cooling my sun-scorched face.
Ed Mayhew is a former employee of Reading Football club and tends to believe what anyone says about him. He writes poetry and is a member of Sketch Troupe Making Faces.
In a moment, I will give you a choice. Choose carefully. It will affect your future forever.
The choice will be ‘blink or not blink.’
It is a paralysing choice.
To blink is to use up a microscopic particle of energy – a joule perhaps, or a nano-calory. Not to blink is to wait a little longer for your eyes to be cleared.
Either way, whatever you decide – action versus inaction; consciousness versus subconscious intuition, whatever you choose (and you will have to choose) will lead you down a totally different path in the future. Maybe the small pause you take to decide, will mean you miss a bus in thirty years and meet an old friend on the next one. Maybe you will remember then which you decided today and be grateful.
I cannot stress enough how much of a change it will make to your life.
That little shaving of energy; that little niggling worry that you could have chosen differently, what it would have been like if you had chosen the other. You will not be able to recreate this single moment ever again. It is the same with all choices. You have one attempt. One choice.
Blink or not blink. Choose now.