Short Story: “The Device”

After a particularly annoying series of trans-Tasman flights, I wrote the following. Consider it my entry for a Black Mirror episode.

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The device had been invented just five years ago. Like everybody else, Ricky had no idea how it worked. That was a closely guarded secret. He only knew the public byline: FOR YOUR COMFORT AND SAFETY THE FLAWLESS AND FOOLPROOF AIRPORT SECURITY DEVICE IS NOW BEING DEPLOYED.

He had been through it twice before. The first time he’d been nervous. He’d read the online instructions thoroughly. One submitted oneself to a little waiting time, and was guaranteed of not remembering it. All passengers were diverted to large waiting rooms where squads of beaming, reassuring, highly trained nurses would administer a quick, painless, very small shot in the forearm. This is when the device, microscopic, is inserted. One then became fuzzy, halfway-losing consciousness, waking up thirty minutes later in an extremely comfortable chair, ready to immediately board the aircraft. Somehow in those thirty minutes the security of everybody had been assured. The process had been completely smooth for him, and apparently every other passenger in the country, and the second time he had actually looked forward to it, especially the free snacks.

He dimly remembered a time when the worldwide air security apparatus had swelled into an ugly and intimidating thing that subjected one to agonising waiting in unmoving lines to scan baggage, while being scrutinised by a thousand cameras and nervous officers with firearms, tasers, and batons at their hip. Panicking quietly while being scanned, terrified of looking guilty of crimes you hadn’t committed, being asked presumptive and confusing questions about your intentions, X-rays, invasive pat downs, more waiting in departure lounges. The waiting – god what was that song? The way-yay-ting is the hardest part! It was impossible to deny that the use of the new device these days was a much smoother and more pleasant system. Just show up half an hour ahead of time, get your harmless and temporary device injected and have a pleasant, restful sit down before boarding your flight. Easy! Comfortable! All the airport security staff treated you with dignity! While the public was not permitted to know the method of the ubiquitous and apparently magical device, many believed it was merely a sedative; just a ruse to have you knocked out cold while they stripped searched your body and your baggage. Governments promised in the most serious terms that this was not the case and there was absolutely no bodily invasion at all, and allowed panels of third party experts and advocates to independently verify that to their satisfaction, but for worldwide security the workings of the device had to remain a total mystery.

On his third trip, Ricky was going to learn all about it.

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My Ranking of the Bond Films

This list is based on a shootout series, whence I paired films and asked, “which would I rather watch?”

The first third is amazing. The middle third are all fine, and so the ranking between them matters a bit less, so long as it’s clear they are all in the muddle. The bottom third I really don’t like to watch much at all, and the ranking of their stinkiness does matter, i.e. I think I’ve seen Diamonds Are Forever all the way through maybe twice in my life and I really, really hate every frame of it.

  1. Goldeneye
  2. The Living Daylights
  3. Skyfall
  4. The Man With The Golden Gun
  5. Moonraker
  6. Tomorrow Never Dies
  7. Casino Royale
  8. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

  9. Spectre
  10. The Spy Who Loved Me
  11. Quantum Of Solace
  12. Licence To Kill
  13. Octopussy
  14. A View To A Kill
  15. Die Another Day
  16. Live And Let Die
  17. Never Say Never Again (unofficial)

  18. The World is Not Enough
  19. You Only Live Twice
  20. Dr. No
  21. Goldfinger
  22. For Your Eyes Only
  23. From Russia With Love
  24. Thunderball
  25. Diamonds Are Forever

Discussion: The Connery films of course are iconic, but frankly, boring. I couldn’t care less about his game of golf with Auric Goldfinger, nor the chitchat in Russia With Love, nor the slooooow scuba in Thunderball. They are dated, and I’d rather watch something else on the whole. In fact, not only that, I think I’d rather not watch them at all, really. I can watch the spectre and goldfinger and volcano lair clips on YouTube if I really want to see some highlights. Now, Tim Dalton’s Living Daylights has always, ALWAYS! been my favourite for too many reasons to name, but in compiling this list I realised that I – just barely – more fondly think of and more broadly grin at the Goldeneye mayhem from my impressionable preteen years. That film’s 90s charm is INVINCIBLE! This effect carries over to Tomorrow Never Dies, (delicious!), but by the time I was 10 years old I could tell World Is Not Enough was crap. Die Another Day (my first Bond seen in cinemas) however I will watch gladly because it goes SO bonkers. He has an invisible car, guys. But then again, I haven’t actually seen it for a while. Moore’s madder mid-seventies jaunts are near the top purely for their goddam bravado; the less quirky ones of his era tend toward the bottom the more they opt for seriousness. Craig has the benefit of all that went before, plus some great writers and directors, resulting in a very respectable outing with all four near the top. And while OHMSS is by no means one of the best films, I think Lazenby is probably the best Bond – yeah, that’s right I said it. He’s the only one I actually believe could do this job in real life. Everybody else is clearly an actor acting in a movie.

Altogether, by average Moore and Craig seem to perform best in my estimation, but I’m going to eyeball it and not actually crunch the numbers. Each Bond (but Connery) has one or two in the top third, so really everybody is a winner. If there is a trend to extrapolate here, perhaps it’s merely that the further they stray from Flemming’s mysogyny and racism, the better I like ‘em.

I look forward to your sure-to-be interesting comments. Andrew.