Tell A Tale — Gothic Fiction

Morning After By Rachel Swabey

As soon as Jake’s alarm went off he realised it was Saturday, but the sequence had been initiated and there was no override. He sat up against his will and his feet swung to the ground. His head swam as he stood abruptly. He resented every step on the way to the bathroom, cursing himself for not turning off the alarm, while at the same time relishing his tech working as he’d meticulously designed it.

The light and shower came on simultaneously. Jake winced at the assault of light and noise as the door closed and locked behind him. It would stay locked for five minutes. He wanted to curl up and go back to sleep, but the white tiles were uninviting. A shower might clear his head.

Jake undressed, noticing 342 notifications in the corner of his retinal display. He frowned. He liked a clear desktop, but he’d need a coffee before dealing with that lot. He blinked through to Appliances and flicked the kettle on.

Jake stepped into the shower and held his face up, water running through his hair and down his neck. What happened last night? He called up his Memory Bank. One picture: Sophia smiling across the restaurant table, 7.46pm. After that, nothing. He scrolled back, then forward again. Nothing. Back again. There were other gaps too. Where was last Thursday? The shower stopped and the air felt suddenly cool. The door released with a click.

***

Jake sipped his coffee and tried to piece it together. He had eaten steak; Sophia, salmon. They had drunk white – he hadn’t minded. Then the bar. Cocktails. Flaming sambucas. Sophia had lit one in her mouth. He had taken a picture, he knew he had – she had looked so carefree and sexy, breathing fire – so where was it?

He hadn’t been able to keep his hands off her after that. They’d done it in the toilet. He’d taken pictures there, too, all sorts of pictures. The beauty of being able to snap away at the literal blink of an eye. Her draped across the cistern, top pulled down, clasping her breasts, teasing, skirt riding up. Looking up from between her thighs. Then, later, looking down.

Jake drained his coffee, sighed and clicked on his notifications. 421, now. A torrent of capital letters and emoticons. ABUSER. PIG. DISGUSTING. Jake’s stomach lurched. He tasted acid in his throat. He scrolled through, looking for meaning in the madness. A message from his boss. Important issues in respect of his conduct. Meeting Monday. What on earth had he done? An alarm sounded. It seemed far away, despite it originating from within his own brain. Blood pressure dangerously high. No shit.

One from Sophia. His pulse raced in his head as he read it. Huge betrayal… degrading… felt like rape, she said. She never wanted to see him again.

Jake closed the message. He shut down his Social Feed, his appliances, his alarm, his Biomarkers, his camera and his Memory Bank.

Jake shut down.


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