Tonight’s Notes on Iris (extract from Somehow Still Happening) – Sam Machell
April 15, 2020
Briefly, you are made aware of your blinking. Of its pace and texture. The microscopic details of sound and touch. You, Iris Gostak. One blink every four seconds commanding attention. Sitting there at your desk, your lids tied by tempo. There it is. Dripping out offbeat and uncanny like a leak overhead. Listen. Can you feel your ears? Blip… blip…. blip.. Blut then, soon, this awareness flutters by and away and black into the national rhythm of things. A seagull down the street. A flock of pigeons. You’re not hungry. You just ate. The evening shut out by the closed curtains growls if you listen for it. Through the window. Not like your stomach. You had leftover lasagna and it looked ok. Remember: You need to rinse out the tupperware so it doesn’t crust over. Happened plenty of times before damn hasn’t it?, and now there’s a thing, permanent orange lingering smelly cloudy thing in the bottom of the box, lots of boxes, lots of clouds, with a smell that makes you want to never eat tomatoes again, canned or off the vine, and damn clings to your fingers too and won’t ever fade it feels like, no matter how hard you go at it with the wire mesh or the basics-brand washing-up-liquid or the water just hot enough to burn your fingertips newborn pink. Otherwise, there’s just the muffled sound of thermodynamics – cooling mug: coffee dregs – and the queasy whir of your laptop fan pushing out hot air from some unseen dust-encrusted cranny, giving the whole desk area this stale kinda funk. Back when you purchased the laptop you treated it like a newborn child; freeing it with tender curiosity gently, gently from the amniotic cellophane, peeling so softly (and holding your breath) the layer of protective film from the screen that trembles and shivers when you unfold it, hush, pulling it away with eggy stretch and pursing your lips to an almost opening… don’t make a sound…! and blowing there! there! away some newly settled dust. But things grow old, and now you couldn’t care less. Priorities sure do shift, don’t they, Iris? Your curtains are open by a slice. There’s a crust among the keys. The screen is a night sky of pubes and skin flakes and your desktop is just as unkempt: applications splattered abstract, saved to any which location: untitled copy, untitled (2), copy of copy of copy of final, asfdjklgsa (1). God help the astrologers faced with this celestial mess. What grim web of fate will be determined by this? You reach up to adjust some hair, noting how it feels in your fingers: glossy but not greasy: maybe a day or two unwashed and stray. Your eyes are dry and withered in the cruel blue light. It’s the daily contortion. For all the life you remember, there has been a dull pain gnawing away at the joints behind your knees. Your medial collateral ligaments, uh huh. The first time you spilt coffee on your laptop you lept and squealed and knocked over a glass of dead flowers as you reached for the box of tissues. You managed to get to it before the toxic spread had reached any of the keys, but some soaked in somewhere, someplace – the speakers most likely – and now, sometimes, there’s a crackle and a splutter, and the music keeps coming but the whole room smells like early morning death. Hard to assign a sound. During that particularly abject adolescent growth spurt the bones in your legs overtook your muscles and left them in the dust that coughs out now. The casing is dented and scratched. Exercises may help to alleviate the pain. Put two hands flat on the wall in front of you, one foot touching toes against the skirting, step back with the other, and gently lean forward as to work on stretching out the tendons, get a bit of slack going, just like so, that’s right, the doctor demonstrates, her eyes glazed over like she’s done it a thousand times and no longer has any concept of the pain you’re experiencing, it’s all just abstract to her, while you, sitting and watching, the wind slapping at the window of the surgery, hammers striking taut piano strings, your ungainly legs the skin of a drum stretched too tight and about to snap, twisting your anxious face and pain into a weakly curved smile, you’re disgustingly tall, the lights in the surgery buzzing like zzt zzt zzt or is that just your tinnitus? Discordant. Here it comes again. Somewhere, a siren emerges then ceases. You can’t afford to replace the hoover, and so some of the petals and particles of glass will remain embedded in this carpet till the landlord tears it apart again. You push back into the chair with your shoulders and shift your weight. Closing your eyes. The laptop still works fine. It just can’t hit some of the meatier bass notes. But this is to be expected for, what is, you must surely admit, a pretty budget model, not at all designed for the extended periods of loud and high quality audio playback your job requires. But your headphones on the other hand, your Bose QuietComfort 35 wireless headphones (II), acoustic noise-cancelling, volume-optimised EQ, world-famous, five-star, Bose-Augmented-Reality-
From firstname.lastname@example.org: Again, Iris, we want to say how sorry we are. About what we allowed to happen. Security has been stepped up since then. If you want to change your mind about further investigation, then please let us know, but obviously we can appreciate it’s not as simple as that. But, anyway! From what we’ve been told it seems there’s been some problems at the network and the airing has been pushed back to late May, so the subtitles don’t have to be ready for another week. Plenty of time! Nothing on our side to be clear – final cut is just about ready now. You can always count on Lewd! Some kind of screw up with the sponsor I believe. Also waiting on colour grading, but that’s fine. We had the composer come round the office last week and view the thing – he likes it. Thank heavens. He was disappointed you couldn’t make it. Wanted to discuss something with you. Like a bird down a chimney that guy. Very strange energy. He wrote you a note, I’ve attached it below. Scanned in copy. Handwritten! I know! Pretentious bastard! Let us know how you’ve been doing, please. Please? It’s been a while since we last heard! You know… And, again, we are so, so sorry. It would be good to see you in the office again soon! Your desk is getting dusty… Let us know, yeah? Best wishes! The bowl is cold and you alternate the weight between your heels and your toes to keep from getting chills while the attachment downloads. We’ve not worked together before. That’s cool though! This whole project is an experiment. Whether or not people hear the music, they need to feel the music. This is clear I hope? I really feel this is something that needs to be understood by everyone. At some kind of primordial level you know. You wash your hands and are careful to avoid eye contact with the mirror on the way back to your desk. I’m sure you’ve been briefed already, so I won’t insult your intelligence by going over it again lol. I’m just writing this so you’re clear how important it is. Everything appears sunken… swallowed… suspended somehow in this cool evening gloam. Which is to say that, really, it’s just kinda dark and there’s a breeze occasionally teasing the blinds. Mmhmm. The lamp on your desk looks like it should be humming or flickering but it does neither. I think we can make something great together, bu – . And the note stops there. Tectonic tears slice the last sentence to its close, captured in minute destructive detail by the scanner. If you were to zoom in on the image – which you don’t btw – you would see snowflakes and hurricanes in the fibres at the edge, separating all into swirls and disintegrating. Your phone’s screen is pretty much spotless comparatively. It was given to you not long ago by a friend who upgrades once a year and you haven’t dropped it fatally yet. As you place it back down and it rattles like a timpani and the screen blinks on sensing sudden movement, and you squeak back into place in your faux leather office chair, sliding your buttocks about till you reach comfort, drumming your fingers on the desk, you suddenly hear, from beyond the boundaries of your home, far out over the rooftops out past the city, beyond the stretches of moors and tors that border the area, a tremendous roar so great and alien and powerful that the walls tremble and the ground moans in ancient agony. Your laptop fan is screaming, and so is the sky. Birds are all instantly airborne beams. There haven’t been insects for years. The whole world itself seems unable to contain the terror of this sound. Through the wall you can hear a whimper from your roommate and the free spinning wheel revving of a collapsed chair. Your phone, vibrating, receiving a call, jitters and jumps on the desk, agitating the dust on its surface, and skids its way off over the edge, landing but not breaking on the floor by your feet. Your coffee is shivering in your mug. The roar ceases. Moments later you hear a helicopter passing over head, passing, away, then the scattered percussion of barking dogs on hi-hat fences, sirens rising and falling and car horns cascading down the streets. It’s cool out tonight.
Time to gclickclicket to work:
Gates_of_Asemia(draft for Iris).mov
7,699,762,600 bytes (7.70 GB on disk)
Created: 24 April 2026 at 13:19
Modified: 29 April 2026 at 21:21
Dimensions: 720 x 480
Codecs: Timecode, Linear PCM, DV/DVCPRO – NTSC
Colour profile: SD (6-1-6)
Audio channels: Stereo
Comments: Hey gal! I know you always like to read this shit down here. Have fun, it’s a wild ride! Also don’t mind the bit at like minute 43, the audio cuts out briefly but we’ll have it sorted for final edit <3 ciao.