On New Year’s day 1952 my grandfather, an amateur Surrealist, resolved to eat nothing but green food for an entire year.
With spinach, broccoli, cucumber and a trusty bottle of food dye, he succeeded.
And when the bells rang in 1953, he gorged himself on a beetroot.
No-one was looking where they were going.
She could endure the drizzle but refused to suffer a poke in the eye every thirty seconds.
She put up her umbrella to protect herself, not from the rain, but from other umbrellas.
Sam wanted to make a salad bowl, and Jon a vase.
Pablo, the conceptual one, set out to depict his love life.
The others got the hang of it quickly, but Pablo had trouble centring the clay, so it kept spinning off the wheel, messing his clothes and smacking him full in the face.
Each achieved his goal.
She’d worked hard for the trophy and was proud. "Martyr Of The Year."
It was a hefty thing and badly in need of a polish. But that was fine – she’d see to it later. And when they offered to help her home with it she said she’d manage.
She didn't. It broke her back.
For Ed, life was a narrow corridor flanked by two distressing walls: on one side the fear of not getting what he wanted, on the other the fear of getting it. He bounced off these walls with painful repetition.
Ann longed for the superhuman strength to push back the walls and make life a living room.
My wife is a witch. Our flat has become a dispensary, and so has my mind. She uses my thoughts to incubate her spells. Apparently my mind is open, trusting and empty enough for her purposes. Somewhere in those adjectives is a half-compliment, so I take it. She enthrals me.
As part of the human simulation alpha test, a dozen new models were offered a silver platter containing everything the individual android believed it had ever wanted.
All but one android received theirs with joy. C1Z looked at the platter a moment, sniffed it, then turned up its nose and sent it back. C1Z passed the test.
I want to go and live in December, said the child.
You talk about living in France. Why can't I live in December? Or just go there for a day-trip?
When the child grew up, time tourism like this was possible, but only for the super-rich.
I grew up with some strange ideas:
To cure stomach ache eat dessert first. Stealing chocolate on behalf of a friend doesn't count as stealing. And, never trust an apology or a smile.
I learnt to denounce everything my parents taught me. But not before passing it on wholesale to my own children.
Jan’s new year’s resolution was to stop taking the wrong train by mistake.
She put in the effort and succeeded, and her whole life changed.
At first, she worried that she might miss that sweet feeling of a train being so wrong it felt right.
But in fact, the right train, at the right time, to the right destination felt like a kind of bliss. Why had no one ever told her about this?
My aunt was a professional people reader. She was often hired to sit in the corner of a bar and read the character of her client’s date. Afterwards, she’d give colourful descriptions – ‘raisin heart, spaghetti spine’ or ‘the peach’s peach’ – and a mischievous thumbs up or down.
He was known for his predictable tastes. He lived in the suburbs, drove a Honda, and wore unremarkable shoes.
So it was a surprise to everyone when he married a real-life Orcadian Selkie – in a tiny kirk on a craggy peninsula, to a congregation that was part human, mostly seal.
She got a phone call from her future self. “Don’t do it.”
Then a phone call from her past self. “Do it”.
Who should she believe?
Her friends were also saying “don’t do it”.
The problem was, she really wanted to do it.
So she did it. And it was a complete disaster.
I went to a despair fair. There was a bottomless pit, some crying clowns and a trading tent where I swapped mine for someone else’s. We have a six-week trial period to decide whether we want to swap permanently.
Her despair is like nothing I’ve known. I’m already attached to it, and I really hope she’s happy with mine.
A guru told Ben that if he dug deep enough he might find absolute resolve. Ben could do with that. But as he dug he had a worrying thought: what if he found counterfeit resolve instead? That would be worse than no resolve at all. It wasn’t worth the risk, so he stopped digging.
Some people find it strange that I wear a necklace made from the nether filaments of a robot. I tell them, “the robot didn’t have to die to adorn my neck with its pubic hair: the robot was never actually alive.”
Then they look at me as if I’m the worst kind of barbarian.
I adored the little creature, with its pink eyes and blue nose, its sarcastic smile and its faint smell of broccoli.
Thankfully, it reminded me fondly of an ex.
Thankfully, because if I hadn't loved it, it would have killed us all in our sleep, but because I loved it, it protected us.
London has sharp teeth for drawing blood and strong molars for grinding dreamers.
The din of screeches and sirens could be cackle of schadenfreude.
But meet her alone at night on the Hungerford Bridge, and it’s a different story.
Like The Shard, she resembles a proud Doberman, and I wonder if she's been misunderstood.
Last summer we adopted a pantomime horse from the pantomime horse sanctuary, and I think it's the best thing we've ever done.
We'd always wanted a horse but never had a stable. So this is perfect.
We have great conversations over breakfast, and the back end is excellent on the economy.
“Indulge me a moment,” he began, rolling another spliff, “what if everything we know about matter, identity and reincarnation is wrong. What if we swap places all the time and become different people every day? You believe all your memories and daily concerns are yours, but they'll be someone else's tomorrow. And you'll have a whole new set to think of as yours.”
The idea often occurred to Dave when he planned to give up weed. He’d start giving up tomorrow.
He thought he was moving through paradigms like levels on a video game. Really, he was using them up like cats lives. When he got to the last, he hurried to the next, only to find chaos. And not the romantic chaos sort of chaos experienced from a safe boat. Pure chaos, without end.
They say she speaks the language of trees. This sounds like folklore, but I’ve seen the way the forest reacts to her.
She walks on her hind legs, and when she stamps her hooves on the pavement, neon sparks fly.
I don't know her well, but I can say with certainty that I've never known anyone like her.
When I collected my grandmother’s ballgown from the dry-cleaner's, it smelt salty fresh. I found traces of seaweed and then a note:
"Thank you for lending me this. It was just right. In return, I’ve mended the seams and removed your hex (which I'm happy to return if you want it back)."
Everything eluded him: women, a good job, money.
He’d tried therapy, meditation and hypnosis, all in vain.
Then he saw the add: ‘Channel your Inner Villain’. He’d nothing to lose (except perhaps his soul).
And it worked. Within six months he was a successful, happily-married Satanist.
I take myself on an arduous, meaningful journey every day of my life.
Today I will travel to the hilltop where my best friend's step-father-in-law first decided to join Tinder.
I am a Pilgrim.
My enemies call me a pilgrimage addict, amongst other things, but they’re just jealous.
He had everything.
Everything but the thrill that comes with hope and the poetic satisfaction of longing.
He used to think he'd be good at having everything. That he'd know what to do with it.
But he isn’t, and he doesn't.
Everything is wasted on him.
I was so proud when, in a dream, I learnt to fly.
I ran to tell my older brother.
His response was to roll his eyes and tell me it’s impossible.
So I jumped in the air and hovered before him.
"That’s levitating," he groaned, before walking away.
Most people agreed that the downside of teleportation wasn’t so much the old Luddite fear that one's atoms might be put back together wrong on the other side. It was the overcrowding at ideal destination moments. It ruined The Northern Lights, for example. And sunsets.
In the past, we had the future. But we lost that with the asteroid news.
And since we've never been great at the present, the past matters more than ever. Leading implant companies like Thanks For The Memories can provide us with a better past for our remaining months.
The night the gods deemed us mature enough to do our own emotional banking, hell broke loose.
But not before heaven had its lavish swan song.
The sky lit up with cascades of joy and burning happiness as we all blew our entire psychic savings on one night of unrepeatable bliss.