Inside the Signal Box

“The most recent example of this has been, I’m sure we can all agree, the most exciting.”

Liza watched her father from outside the conference room. There were echoes of his mannerisms and facial expressions in her, Judy noticed. She seemed to follow him around very subtly when she was observing him, and when her focus was shifted to something else it would fade and she would become her own person again.

“Not much longer now,” said Judy, seeing the impatience growing. She had had to peel her from the elevator when she arrived with her father an hour ago—the buttons were so attractive to her, she had an urge to press them all, watch them light up, press her eye to the one she could reach to have the perspex redness fill her vision and be everything—her whole world—for that time. She had thrown a tantrum when Crewe had given the little girl to her, told her to behave and began to set up alone in the conference room. Then she had wandered the office, saying hello to people and asking what their names were and specifically what was the function for the ornaments or implements on their desk. The windows, clean and clear and spot-free in the morning were now graffitied with greasy marks and steam drawings—mostly polygonal people and animals, including a lion she received great praise for and so repeated on several other windows.

Liza had been to the hospital to have burn wounds on both her knees debrided, stripped of the outer layer of tissue—an extremely painful procedure that required ketamine as an analgesic. She had had this before, and come into the office with her father describing in simple children’s terms the distinct and hidden compartmentalisation of seperate worlds within the apparent one they all saw and moved through—there were boxes that contained categories of emotions and vibrations that infused everything—even unconscious objects like plants and light-switches. There were also people in the office who worked there but were invisible—they were clerks and administrators of people’s minds, and were capable of causing physical and emotional sensations—chiefly pain and anxiety. These employees that Judy couldn’t see were called simply people, Liza making no distinction or judgement between the concrete tasks being carried out with paper, computer screens and telephones, and the abstract tasks taking place amid these vibrations and compartmentalised, ethereal boxes.

Today Liza had been quite stable, staring off into space only occasionally, and Judy, bored to death would ask her what was there, and Liza, too astounded, too deep inside the signal box would reply through drool and stridor: “There’s…there’s…there’s…”

Thanks for checking out my short story.

Did I tell you I wrote a novel? You can read it here for free, or get it for your e-reader on iBooks, Amazon or Kobo. Or you can just say you read the book, and donate five bucks down below. Go on.

Gabriel Muoio



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