I fear I may have mangled this one. Still: I hope you enjoy. Feedback – as ever – is welcome.
By Neil Beynon
She watches him from the door – a dark smudge against the glare of the plasma grid. He is covered in dirt and sweat, his hair a tangled coil that you’d be forgiven for attributing to the proximity of the charged grid. Their eyes are red rimmed. His from too much caffeine, she hasn’t touched the stuff in years.
He checks his notes on the hand-held, frowning as he cross checks it with a panel on the side of the grid; then he dives behind the machine. Muffled – as if from a long tunnel – comes the sound of him grunting and metal grinding on metal as the unseen is adjusted.
“Right,” she says. “I’m going.”
She closes the door. The lock clicks shut behind her. Footsteps fading into the wood, lost in the sounds of paths being adjusted and reset.
There is a thud, then a soft hum, the pattern of the grid shifts; becomes diamond shaped and an image begins to appear. It is faint at first, nothing more than a break in the pattern, then it grows in size, contrast and colour until it spills shape. Jungle: hot and leafy populated with giant lizards that caw like birds and munch on the canopy. There are other sounds in the background, equally alien, equally familiar.
He slides round from the back of the grid. His eyes are wide in spite of the glare, his face slack with the shock of what he is seeing. Cautiously he advances towards the image, hand lifted in front of him as he presses his fingers in up to the knuckles.
The jungle vista continues as he holds his hand in the image for a moment, enjoying the feel of the tropical sun on them before he withdraws. He wiggles his fingers in the stale air of the room, surprised they are still intact.
“Would you look at that?”
There is a click from the grid. The sound of the jungle fades in the dark.