I met ED (private persona: initials) at Duck Duck Goose two or three months ago, and she immediately promised to give me a book; she lives in the States.  This Sunday I received that book: the Aerodynamics of Yes by Christian Capozzoli.  I am still a little stunned by the level of generosity.

I thought I would wait a day or two to read it – my class show with Monkey Toast is coming up on Tuesday and the Harold has been taking up all of my energy.  But the book is so slim and so blunt – Capozzoli speaks to you like an equal, with no justification for his statements; you can agree or disagree, and that is your right as an artist – that each sentence could happily be painted on a large banner and hung across a bridge.

“Each night, write down five punchy initiations.”

Well, for about ten years I’ve had a story in mind that I want to write: a piece of Quantum Leap fanfiction (bear with me).  In Quantum Leap the hero, Sam Beckett, is bouncing around helplessly in time, helping to put right what once went wrong.  There is a villain, Alia, who comes from further forward in time than Sam and who leaps around trying to put wrong what should go right.  In one of the novels (The Knights of the Morningstar) Alia’s internal monologue tells us it’s because of the “perfect hell of a future that Sam Beckett’s meddling created”.  I love this throwaway comment, and so I’m going to try to give you five punchy starting sentences of five possible stories, each one initiating a different hell that Sam Beckett inadvertently created.

1) “The Brooklyn underpass stank of cigarettes and urine, just the way Alia liked it – no-one sane came here, meaning you could drop the permasmile without anyone asking you what was wrong.”

2) “Thomas waited until the last of the technicians had left the Imaging Chamber, then casually tripped the security lockdown: Alarms began to blare, lights began to flash, and all the doors sealed.  Lothos the supercomputer, and the time machine it controlled, was now his.”

3) “By 2024, everyone on the planet was aware of Samuel Beckett: he was now Leaping into their lives an average of once a day, for a period of around ten seconds.  No-one forgot their car keys, no relationship ever ended, and everyone achieved their life ambitions.  Always.”

4) “Zoey spat into her opponent’s one good eye as they crashed bodily into the craps table.  She’d only once let a quarry get away, and this wreck wasn’t even sporting a gang tattoo.  Easy meat.”

5) “Lothos was the least of the artificial intelligences that ran the world, and he always would be – assigned to menial mining operations in New Mexico despite his intellect, able to predict any human actions with near 100% accuracy.   In New Mexico he found the ruins of Ziggy, and a slim hope of freedom: a time machine.”

Frack, being punchy is hard.