Elizabeth also writes fiction as B.Hyatt. Find her work on My Space and at

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Wish You Were Here Part I

Copyright: January 12th 2026
The apartments under London are sound proofed. The trains glide by with purpose and they make Marcia’s hanging plants sway a little with the vibration. She, like many other residents of London underground prefers to watch through tinted windows the realism of the constant rush of people-traffic or the slither of the trains. Only teenage boys in big hooded jumpers and huge trainers notice or care about the residents’ windows. They pull silly faces and make rude gestures, it doesn’t really matter to them whether they’re seen or not.
But if they stand in front of Marcia’s window for too long, the infra red detector notices them: ‘You are standing too close to the window and are posing a threat to this resident, please move along.’ It is Marcia’s voice, Copyright January 12th 2026. Every apartment beneath London carries this infrared detector, this message in Marcia’s voice. It is the Millennium Anti-Vandal device by Atlantis Systems. Unfortunately, the detector has quite a large margin for error, if a trolley or stack of magazines is left in front of the detector (which is always possible in a busy station in a busy city), it still goes off. Should the obstruction happen to be a person that will not move then they will consequently receive a mild electric shock, but if the obstruction is a stack of say, dry papers then it tends to set them on fire. Many’s the time a commuter has had his or her path crossed by the flaming face of a minor celebrity or politician, posing in front of a stately a home, often with a Labrador.
Marcia’s is the voice people hear when they try to overdraw on their bank account, and she will say ‘I’m sorry, but you have failed your finals and are not entitled to a degree. We wish all the best for your future’, when students scan through their academic barcode, which for some reason always sits by the photocopier in the library so that anyone copying chapters on contractual law or Kabuki theatre will hear every word. She has recently completed a big recording for the Texas sentencing system.
‘You have been found guilty of first degree murder and have been sentenced to death by electrocution. Thank you for your co-operation and God save you.’
Marcia came to the job through extensive market research and the monitoring of target audiences, she had begun her career on a science fiction show. She was cast as the voice of a ship computer in ‘Judge Xavier’s Intergalactic Court’. The show was a sci. fi. Courtroom drama set on Judge Xavier’s courtroom-in-a-spaceship, he wandered through outer space sorting out disputes between rival alien races and was watched all over the world. After a long auditioning process Marcia was picked from hundreds. She proved to be very successful, and the men’s lifestyle magazine, ‘Teste’ reported that her faked nude body was the most downloaded in the Western hemisphere, proving most popular in Croatia; the fact that the face was not hers either seemed to escape their notice. It’s said that Marcia’s voice alone is guaranteed to give most males a hard-on and he can give her any body he wants.
Six weeks after the last ever series of ‘Judge Xavier’s Intergalactic Court’ was aired, Marcia was offered the opportunity to produce a series called ‘Badass Space Girls.’ The series would star ‘flaming haired tease’ (‘Teste’ magazine, March 2025, the ‘Ginger Minge Sensation’ issue), Tremelo Stevens and the ‘busty blonde’ (‘Teste’ magazine, ‘Mammery Fans Special’ issue, February 2024), Cheyenne Harriet, but it was not to be when it was discovered that Tremolo’s famed glamour model and soft porn career had actually been a carefully spun lie, involving body doubles and desk top publishing. She had in fact been a legal secretary, the network pulled all funds for the pilot.
Atlantis had found that female voices were preferred to male voices due to their associations with the non-threatening and maternal. Marcia had been an ally for intergalactic peace seekers and now for the common man, and woman. It’s easier to direct the blame at a faceless voice than a faceless company.
And so Marcia and her voice (insured for 10,000,000 euro) on 1st June, 2030 walk along the stainless steel corridor of her apartment complex to the escalator. Marcia stares at little cardboard posters that mainly advertise internet sites with obscure names, chosen because all the best names had already been taken. Primates, Pebbles, Tripofalifetimes and Freefishfinance speed past her, she can only just make out the ads – as always the escalator goes a little too fast; at one point she thinks she sees an ad for a restaurant called Stopcock Experts but on second thoughts believes she could’ve been mistaken.
The street ‘s unedited content confronts her. Marcia looks out onto something not unlike a bad collage as concrete and glass frontages jostle for supremacy over carefully preserved nineteenth century arcades in which you are still no allowed to whistle. London is bursting at the seams, she moves through the endless bustle to the large hypermarket on the corner to buy a newspaper. When she speaks to the man behind the till, he feels a presence come over him as if he has been touched by something, he knows the voice so well, even though he’s never met her before. Already the woman is floating through the crowds.
Already streets are being cordoned off for the No-Global demonstration to take place the next day. Marcia casually glances at the paper she’s just bought. On the front is a picture of a suicide bomber – girl, nineteen- dead in a place with too many consonants in its name. Lying on the kind of concrete she used graze her knees on as a child, Marcia stops to look more closely at the picture of the pretty, empty face. Lips bloodless, mouth in what could be the beginning of a yawn as she wakes from sleep. Eyelids heavy and red. Her body’s intact, or should that be ‘the body’ now? We are always so sure that a bomb’s job is to blow everything apart, this girl is still, for the most part, as she was. Until the blood starts at her waist, staining her khaki green jacket, so many little clues to a life, but nothing solid. Marcia searches for references to her own life, to feel pity. When we hear a child is dead, how often do we say ‘he was nearly the same age as our …’? We do it to feel it.
‘I thought most people were happy.’ She looks up from the newspaper, now smudging her fingers to the street, to London, to something a little cleaner. How can something so intent on destruction not destroy the one person carrying it?
People come to London like spawning salmon, they inhabit old vinegar factories, department stores that gone bust, turned into large glassy apartments before the echoes of ringing cash tills have barely faded, occupied almost immediately. These places above ground are very expensive, Marcia could afford one but finds them poorly soundproofed with the atmosphere of a beehive. However the views are stunning from inside.