I seem to have fallen under a spell. My world split in half Life shattered I call, no one comes. My words shallow, meaningless As I gaze into the distance drifts of a past life become mingled, with the dark cloud that hovers over me. The world feels damp and dim, no sun. When I wake from this nightmare I hope the twitch in my mind is healed, the world back together as I remember it…
Artificial Intelligence … surely an oxymoron?
“We are now seeking to create machines that are vastly more intelligent and powerful than ourselves… The threat of these machines using this power to harm humans is real and must be considered…
The window of opportunity to avoid serious and potentially existential harm is closing…”
I read a disturbing report the other day about how AI will probably kill us all in about two years’ time.
Someone has predicted that they will evolve far enough to create and control weapons and God knows what else.
It’s like one of those sci-fi fantasy films where the computers take control and do what they want.
How quickly did we come from worrying about losing our jobs to losing ourselves?
Luckily, people in the position to do something about this threat are already thinking that limits must be set. Control must be maintained, they say, or is it already too late?
I have watched enough of these films to know just how clever machines can be, left to their own devices. In my opinion, controls should have been included from the beginning, as now it may well be a case of shutting the stable door after the horses have bolted.
“Although there is the potential to do much good improving diagnosis and treatment of disease, and a better way to treat patients, Artificial General Intelligence must be regulated; to avoid the control and manipulation of people, the use of lethal autonomous weapons, and the mental effects of mass unemployment as AI-based systems displace large numbers of workers.”
The future is looking pretty scary from where I am……….
I think this year began badly for everyone, as we were still shell-shocked from all that had gone before.
I thought most of it had gone though, hadn’t it?
This was a brand new year. Time to get cracking and shake off the residue of misery and frustration.
It took nearly three months before something masquerading as enthusiasm turned up, but boy, was it welcome!
There is always a but, isn’t there?
Once I started to enjoy being a writer again, my health slowly drifted to worryville. Various checks later, my heart has been pronounced strong and healthy. Blood tests have checked the rest of my bits, and they’re all fine.
So why do I feel so ill, breathless and tired? I have trouble doing anything, and it’s getting worse.
One last check, a chest X-ray. Surely this must give me some answers?
I had a mini meltdown at my doctor’s appointment earlier this week. I hate bothering the doctor almost as much as I hate feeling ill and hate asking for help. She kept me waiting a long time, and from the look of the usually calm and helpful doctor, she must have had one hell of a day. She looked much older, tired and exhausted. Probably didn’t need me and all my questions that day.
Communication was strained as I tried to convey my worries. She struggled to decide what to do, finally listening to my chest and agreeing that I needed an X-ray. At that point, I think she needed me to stand up, say thanks very much and walk away.
But I had one more question…
What happened next was like a slap around the face. I mentioned my poor swollen foot. She rolled her eyes to the ceiling and said, ‘I suppose you want me to look at it?’
I stared at her, my temper and emotions arguing about what to do next.
Out of nowhere, I stood up and said, ‘No, I don’t think I do….’
She tried to backtrack at that point, apologising (I wasn’t sure what for), and then blamed me for having so many questions. Apparently, I had exceeded my allotted ten minutes!
When I left the surgery, I wasn’t quite sure whether I wanted to scream or cry. I did neither. I felt numb, vowing never to darken her door again. It took two days of sitting around, unable to concentrate on anything, before I started to feel normal again. At that point, I could have lain down on the road and died.
The X-ray is next Tuesday morning…
The Blade I stand alone, waiting for the moment When silence wraps itself around me I am broken, thin as paper I hear the blade slice through my mind I shuffle along, my shoulder bumping each doorway I enter I am nearly there, again I hear the blade, sharp edged, cutting away at my life The inside of my mouth tastes powdery, like fine sand Strange manifestations assail my eyes Confusing day and night Preventing my progress in reaching the last door that is marked home I stagger towards it, like a blind man When I feel the blade slice through for the last time… ©AnitaDawes2023
This one gave me goosebumps!
When a dirty blue car mows Maggie down outside her local supermarket, she becomes trapped in the nightmare world of a coma patient. She manages to rescue an abused and neglected child in this very different world.
But when it looks like she will finally wake up, she cannot bear the thought of leaving the child behind.
But is this other world real, or was she just dreaming? And if it is real, can she help this child?
“Maggie is a likeable character who is easy to engage with, and I found myself willing her to find the courage to embrace happiness. If you like a story that is more than just your average romance then I thoroughly recommend this one…” Amazon Reviewer
“Excellent reading, excellent writing with several unexpected twists that lead to…well, that is for others to find out too. A heart-wrenching and gripping story. Well done, Anita Dawes!” Amazon Reviewer
Excerpt from The Scarlet Ribbon
I felt the sheets being straightened, and deft fingers checked my tubes and wiring. I still seemed connected to the real world, but for how long? How long would I be allowed for goodbyes, even though I couldn’t say them?
It was childish, but if I couldn’t say goodbye, maybe it couldn’t make me go. I held on to that thought, hoping it would somehow make it true.
I heard the sound of rubber soles crossing the floor, then the metallic click of the door latch. I hoped Doctor Marsden hadn’t left the hospital. I would be very interested in his explanation.
Jack smoothed the hair from my face, and his lips touched my cheek. He whispered in my ear, ‘Where are you, Maggie? If you can hear me, please come back. I love you so much. Whatever it is, Maggie, fight it. Don’t let go. I’m not leaving this hospital without you.’
As I listened to him, wondering if he meant it, I drifted away again.
I had no idea how long I’d been lying beside Annie. Days and nights here seemed normal, but back in my world, I knew time seemed to be faster. I was so confused. I didn’t understand why I was incapable of touching Annie, yet the arm I wrapped around her hadn’t fallen through the mattress the way it did everything else. I couldn’t catch the belt, yet it had marked my skin. Why didn’t any of it make any sense?
All I could think of was that some inanimate objects were different.
Annie’s arms and legs looked sore, but the skin wasn’t broken. Her mother hadn’t even come to see if she was all right. God knows how long she would be left on her own. I could hear muffled voices from below, another fight brewing. Why on earth did some people have kids? If they were so capable of hurting them, they must have known beforehand, had some little clue that they didn’t really want them.
Annie had relaxed a little. Her breathing was easier, hardly punctuated by the remnants of the sobbing, although a shudder would disturb her every now and then. One small, grubby hand lay open while the other was closed in a tight fist. I could see a piece of red ribbon sticking out between her first finger and thumb. I reached for it but couldn’t move it. The determined way she held on to it even in her sleep, I knew it meant something special. I wondered if somebody had given it to her. I doubted if those things downstairs masquerading as parents had anything to do with it. It had to be someone nice by the way she clung to it.
I wondered if she had built up some false hope that the giver might come back and save her from the misery she lived in. I knew it was possible. It was also possible that the accident had damaged my mind, that this was all a dream. Whatever the truth was, I had no choice but to go with what I was being shown…
4.0 out of 5 stars Seeking answers on the other side
Reviewed in the United States on 17 May 2022
“Scarlet Ribbon” is a story that made me wonder about the afterlife and what is in between. Maggie was out with her husband when she was run down by a car. She ended up in a coma for two long years, but her time became relative as she found herself in a strange place. Her body was in the hospital, but her mind or soul was experiencing a different reality.
While she was under, she could see what her husband was doing and was taken to other worlds and the past. She wanted to help, especially a young girl. There was cruelty and a blissful existence that coincided in the different places. As she seeks answers to her dilemma, she finds out more than she wanted to about how sheltered a life she had and people’s true side.
I have always wondered what goes on when people are in a coma, and this was a fascinating idea of what could happen. There never seems to be one simple answer or outcome to Maggie’s desires. I love her determination to do what is right, but within her new world, I felt her confusion as she bounced from one situation to another. I was rooting for the person she connected with on the other side.
The story picked up the pace when she emerged from the coma, and work began for her to heal and try to remember. The ending was a surprise but didn’t feel done just yet. I hope there are more versions of her life to come and I will be reading them.
Many thanks to Denise for her wonderful review!
My absolute favourite story of Anita’s, The Scarlet Ribbon is 2.99 for the next two weeks, and can be found HERE
The Ghost of Christmas Present
We really wanted Christmas to be special this year but could not possibly have foreseen what 2021 had in store for all of us.
For the first time ever, it feels right somehow that the year is slowly dying, slipping away unnoticed among all the chaos and misery.
We are feeling much the same way as the ghost of Christmas hovers in the doorway like an unwelcome guest, unsure, as we all are as to what will happen next.
2022 is just days away, a brand-new year.
A year we are beginning to think will be the same as the last.
This is normally the time when we start looking forward to a new year, convinced it will be the one to remember. Truth is, we are dreading it. Among so many other things, this year has shown us just how vulnerable we really are.
At the beginning of 2021, we were determined not to allow despair or depression in the door, and for a while, we managed to maintain a cheerful front. We carried on writing/blogging as usual but gradually over the months, we seem to have become so old, dare I say fragile?
This is how a total loss of control must feel.
I woke up this morning with the overwhelming desire to send all the misery, worry and complacency packing along with this dreadful year.
To rekindle the spark that will make us all feel alive again.
At first, we will probably have to ‘fake it until we make it’, push the envelope like crazy until life feels better.
We wish all of our friends and followers a wonderful New Year, a year full of promise and possibilities, and we will shortly be sending out the first of our 2022 newsletters, looking forward and planning a much better year…
The sky blushed a ring of scarlet light Dusk had spread its mantle, the air damp Fright night below, trick or treat Played as in the past A black velvet bat perched on the church roof As the clock chimed midnight The floor inside the nave red with blood The local priest lay spread out A ghoulish version of the bat above Who, among the faithful disliked the sermon? Who felt his sins exposed? Who worried that Father John Was about to break the confessional vow? Who among the meek and mild Had so much to hide? Let the trial by whispers, the pointing fingers Begin… © Anita Dawes 2021
SHADES OF DELIVERANCE MEETS THE WALTONS…
Simple’s life is a painful nightmare.
He is one huge bear of a man, but with the heart and mind of an innocent child. He suffers terrible abuse from his vicious and uncaring backwoods family.
Together with his half-sister Leanne, they are hunted like wild animals and suffer the terror of nearly being burned alive as they try to escape.
Will they ever discover the joy of freedom?
Excerpt from Simple…
Walking towards Gran, I could feel the blood draining from my body, trying to find some place to hide. It felt as if it had all gathered in my feet, making each step I took the hardest thing I had ever done.
Gran got up from her rocker and I watched it continue to move, as if she had left some part of herself sitting in it. She walked inside the cabin and waited for me. She had never done more than cuff me across the back of the head, but I figured I had to be in for more than that this time. I was trying to think of the worst she could do.
It was cool inside the cabin. Gran was sitting at the big wooden table grandpa had made. She might as well have been the town judge, sitting behind the high bench. She didn’t move or look at me as I sat opposite, waiting for judgement. I knew better than speak first. I couldn’t have, even if I wanted to, my mouth had dried up. Gran finally spoke, her voice hard, as if she had eaten gravel. ‘You’ve done a bad thing, Leanne. Taken our trust and pissed it in the wind. Jimmy says he should be the one to punish you, says you had no right taking Simple anywhere near the Spiers. Reckon I should turn you over to him, save my words for someone who can hear them.’
I said, ‘I can hear real good,’ with more grit in my voice than I intended.
Gran fixed me with one of those looks that made me wish I could turn to stone. ‘Seems to me, young lady, if your ears still work, then your brain’s gone soft like Simple’s. Fancy interfering in business that aint yours. You know right enough, he needs telling more times than the sun wakes us and then some. You want him took off for takin’ town young’uns?’
‘Course not, Gran.’ My voice came out as a whisper.
‘Simple was hurt real bad. I couldn’t just leave him…’
This is a story about some very tough and mean people somewhere in the backwoods and mountains of America. It is told from the perspective of a young girl whose mission in life is to protect her big, but simple-minded brother from harm. The story is compelling, frightening and sometimes brutal in the manner of the film Deliverance, but it is also a heart-warming story of loyalty, love and deep affection. It was not what I was expecting, but I’m glad I read it. It has an unforgettable quality about it and the characters are complex but convincing. It really is a great story and unputdownable.