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The Last Ditto by Frank Maddish

The Last Ditto by Frank Maddish

Science fiction writer Frank Maddish's debut novelThe Last Ditto follows the terrifying account of one man’s journey through decades of deep sleep exploration, into the farthest reaches of the subconscious… and beyond.
The Last Ditto is a thrilling fictional study of the darker side of lucid dreaming, a spellbinding voyage to a metaphysical world, placed squarely at the borders of madness and death.

Exploring the psychology of being, with the aid of a whistle-blower from the other side, Frank Maddish delves into the effects of the laws of observation, the power of received truth over the subconscious, and their major contribution to our current worldwide existential crisis.

The Last Ditto is the story of one man, who breaks rank with humanity to seek an alternative to our reality, and find a way to leave this place behind… forever.

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Chapter 1

1. FOG

I’m watching another old TV movie, a digital rip from a battered VHS collection, complete with fuzzy sound and tape warp. This kind is the best for my work, anything too well known, anything that’s been professionally re-mastered, won’t cut it. It won’t do at all, and here’s why.
science fictionWhen I breach, a state of flux that has taken much of my life to accomplish, I am propelled into an abstract field. The very one this Earth is projected upon. For the process to be effective, source materials must be carefully selected. Television static, radio interference, visual encoding errors, broken frames in poorly dubbed movies, and all the inconsequential details that the audience is expected to ignore.
science fictionAny familiarities, be they personal, cultural, or iconic, act as dead weight. Their excessive perceptual mass forms from slowly oscillating light particles, coalescing like cosmic mould, until emotional gravity takes effect. To successfully pierce the flat vision that stands before every human being on the planet, one must adjust one’s peripheral view. The momentous shift in perception can be immediate and overwhelming, for discovering for oneself the most ancient of all lies, is far more than enough for one lifetime.
science fictionI might have found the method far earlier, if I’d known what I was looking for. At first I watched mistakes, peculiarities in human behaviour, poorly predicted outcomes, misprinted data, (particularly hand copied pieces), and failing personal belief systems. I’m not choosy where I find clues, nor even the purpose of each insight. It is a messy process, rather damaging for a young mind no doubt, but I’m an old hand at this now, and I can take it in my stride.
science fictionBack in the day, the merest glimmer of first-hand knowledge, revealed a tapestry of errors in the world around me. Brought to life by childhood dreams, haunted by the spectres of the subconscious, lurking at the furthest reaches of human comprehension. Their trail of stolen memories, scattered like confetti in the dawning sun, left behind for those with the patience to piece together their own minds. A vast majority of our race would rather live with the responsibility, their curiosity outweighed by their instincts to survive. For many can never accept the enormity of the situation, the extreme delicacy of our unique position, and will remain as strangers to all they know, including themselves, until the day they die.
science fictionSome of those strangers I’d studied as a child were supposedly my family, but none of us seemed particularly convinced at the time. Throughout that period I resigned myself to sitting out the whole miserable episode in an astral stupor. Eventually, after years of childlike duality, my consciousness riding it out in a space fifteen feet above my body, off with the faeries as it were, I realised it was time to come back. I dipped my toe in the human melting pot, not too hot, not too cold, and slowly blundered through the social niceties.
science fictionIt took me a while to get the hang of it all. The hackneyed conversations, the meaningless quest for entertainment, but with the aid of narcotics and a newly discovered sex drive, before long I was making friends and enemies, left, right, and centre. In order to maximise the efficiency of each social exchange, I subtly shifted my core into an approximation of a compatible personality. Just a little at a time so few would notice, yet, still convincing enough to ensure my social camouflage didn’t turn back into a pumpkin, at the stroke of midnight.
science fictionIt all ended one night in an empty flat over a chip shop, rented by a Sicilian girlfriend who needed to move on. Sitting at 4am in front of a mirror on a heavy dose of LSD, I witnessed a thousand faces, and every one of them had the same insane grimace. It was at that precise moment I had an awful realisation, that those few kind souls who had bothered to tell me the truth, were right after all.
science fictionI had changed, or rather, I wasn’t me anymore.

Chapter 2

2. LORE

The tape is perfect, I have found at least four glitches. One of which appears on the bald, sweaty pate of a bit-part janitor, as he tips his hat to the shabby TV detective. There’s another in the wet mop shine of the chequered tiled floor, feathered with overexposure but fit for purpose. The other two are darker, hidden in the reflection of a locker room mirror, but still distinguishable enough to handle.
science fictionI collect the visual fragments in my mind and draw them together in a freeze-framed sigil. Controlled chaos takes little imagination, but more effort every day. I make adjustments to my psyche, instinctively compensating for the numerous flaws and tears in my perceptual field, all scars from past experiments, my pioneering flights of fancy, and many with near disastrous consequences. As I manipulate the space around me and drag time to a stop, I stare into the mid-distance, and pull the plasma from the screen, to cloud the light before me like a microscopic storm.
science fictionI rarely make it further on from here, and when I do I lose the memory, none the wiser to my achievements or failures. The only proof that I have even left the room and travelled to another place, is missing time, and a nagging feeling that I had something important to say. But no matter what I have won or lost, what sights I have seen or worlds I’ve encountered, everything extraneous to this particular reality, quickly fades into the background.
science fictionI’ve always enjoyed exploring, it beats being explored anyway. I’ve travelled far and wide, without ever leaving my room, but the process can be messy, and I have frequently been followed home. I couldn’t sleep for the commotion in those early days, psychic distortions spilling through the walls and under the door. Then after a while it all simply stopped, and I was left to my own devices. I hadn’t even noticed at first, I was that grateful for the peace and quiet. But as I grew older and made friends, and discovered a life of some description, they found me again, the holes and slices.
science fictionEventually I broke free from my new improved persona, and strayed off the party circuit to stroll through loneliness, night after night in night bus country. I’d trip alone and watch all my faces in the mirror, all those I had known or been, or might become, and knew I had a lot of company to keep.
science fictionAs soon as I had discovered lucidity, I never fully slept again. My dreams are filled with creeps, and lazy ones at that. All utterly dismayed at my complete lack of cooperation, and angered by my lack of admiration for their fly-by-night reality. Much of what’s out there in the immediate metaphysical neighbourhood, is the poorest of the poor, a discarnate plane, filled with frantic desperation and a bloodlust for life.
science fictionThe non-existent existentialists live behind the mirrors, and sup on daydreams like tea. But at night they frenzy in an orgy of THC, and minds like mine are a favourite aperitif for the connoisseur. They love to surf Gamma Waves, peppered with a dash of Epsilon and Theta, it’s like cocaine and meth on steroids to them. If you’re aware of the parallelism, and can stand your ground in astral perplexity, then sooner or later, you’ll find yourself the toast of their painted red town. But that soon wears thin, especially when you begin to realise how ugly they are inside.
In fact it’s worse than that, they’re ugly inside out and outside in, with nothing in between. They live for life and exude death like bad indigestion, and their appetite is insatiable. After a while, you too, will meet your nemeses, a legion of experts, soft killers whose thoughts and unspoken words are so sweet, that some mistake them as saviours.
science fictionThe best way to avoid the majority of creepers and shadows, is not to feed them ammunition. They’re big on facial recognition, the more friends you have, the less chance you can truly control your dreams. Some see it as a lesson in the generosity of spirit, I see it as an all out war on the subconscious senses.
science fictionThis time around I’m avoiding crowds, I have one human, and three feline relationships. I’m keeping all social contact to a bare minimum, at least for the foreseeable future. It seems it’s the only way I can maintain some form of status quo. When I say that, I mean a regular irregularity, a dynamic flux of false variation, an arc of illusory potentiality that can handle the fractal structure of the edge of this reality, and beyond.
science fictionI’ve come to learn that if you want something, you have to get out there and meet people, but the people I need to meet aren’t here, they’re down the wormhole that churns within the core of mind and spirit. It’s the same old tell-tale told time and again, but in the first person, and without the hand-me-down baubles of self-realisation. Advice is subjective at the best of times, no human can truly say they’ve looked back until the fat lady sings, and by then no one is listening. Well, that is, except for me, I listen, and I listen hard.
science fictionIt all needs to be this shape, a beautifully random pattern of absurdist behaviour, or I couldn’t fit through the cracks, the holes, the gaps in the academic propaganda of a once benevolent hive mind. A herd of military animals that insist on rounding up the stragglers, for yet another staged alignment. The lords and masters of a destiny I have no part in, have no interest in the likes of me and my kind.
science fictionWe are hardcore, an aggregate of people, laid down like gravel. It’s all over and the worse thing is we already know it, although, most of us are far beyond the point of caring. The waking day is a weaponized public relations campaign, popularizing gullibility as it feeds us to the grinder. That love, hate, life, death, money, power, spirit grinder.
science fictionWe’ve all paid our taxes, we’re all owed a rebate, I’m just going over their heads, maybe not to the top, but high enough to make a stink. I’m done with playing human, this hamster wheel of life and death is a systematic slaughterhouse for higher consciousness. Every history’s like the last, every journey the same as it’s ever been. Only conjured fiction and empty lies feel as fresh as a new dawn, for an undiscovered hinterland of blind hope.

Chapter 3

3. FLUX

I’m not what you’d call a gadget man, I only use technology when I need to. Although I’m still prone to drowning in the frequency soup of modern life, I try not to let it infect me. Wherever possible, I avoid the temptation to play repeater to the corrupt transmissions of an artificial hegemony.
science fictionThis is not my kingdom and my glory, my borders are far beyond the control net. Though they may be just as dangerous, they’re not so thick with dogma. In life I have the distinct sensation that I’m merely going through the motions, having spent a good chunk of my childhood struggling to be human. I’m self taught mind you, no help there, except for the odd chink in the armour of a blue moon stranger.
science fictionIt took me a while to sort the wheat from the chaff, to understand the priorities of the paradigm, our primordial society, and this atavistic world at large. I took so long to realise that my tutors were attempting to teach me, I missed out on all the parrot fashioned fun. Perhaps it was their delivery, the monotone ambiguity, the rigid reflexes of an institution in decline, or simply dumb luck.
The secret that teachers, parents, and every other adult holds back, though not so much since the technological liberation of a panoply of karma, is the terrible truth that things really are this awful. It’s not the best way to enlighten young minds, but of course, if you have a monopoly to maintain, proliferating desensitisation is never a noble cause, just a necessary one.
science fictionI’ve stared out of more windows than I care to remember. One that I do recall, revealed the freedom of the iron gates, beyond the nightmares of the playground, the killing fields of hope and childish wonder. In class I learned to appear concerned at my own failure to comprehend, and regularly held that expression in repose. With that one talent, I was free to dream and drift away on the meter of the bell, ignoring any risk of ridicule, should a teacher call upon my full and immediate attention.
science fictionRiding the autonomic canter of my tutelage, I’d occasionally pluck out a dulcet turn of phrase, and run rings around it in my mind. I’d spend years avoiding the gaze of teachers, frowning at the most obvious of concepts, and faking admiration for their pets.
science fictionI was no more adept at physical education than academic. A gangly pile of skin and bones, has little defence against the rain and sleet. I was told the exercise would do me good, even if the overweight PE teachers in tracksuits chain-smoked roll-ups, and snapped wet towels at bare arses in the showers. All that cross-country running taught me, was to use less effort wherever possible, and bow out at the very first opportunity.
science fictionSlow days stretched into years, half-asleep and hypnotised by proscribed monologues, anonymously passed through the lips of governmentally approved mouthpieces. No matter how exhausting I found the learned incarceration, I could always rely on the rabble of other sugar rushed, and glassy eyed pupils, to make things worse. Staring at those future bankers, sales executives, care assistants, and shelf stackers screaming and fighting, was as stifling as classroom etiquette.
science fictionBy the time I’d left school, with little to show for it, except for a few embroidered truths and unreliable facts, I learned to hide my lack of sanity, and to some degree, feigned conformity. Then again, my recollections may be little more than the fantasies of a child’s imagination. My past and present collude with each other, to camouflage my disappointment, and my uninspiring prospects for the future. All of which does little more, than dimly highlight the truly ravenous effects of prediction, and the highly addictive synaesthesia of temporal flux.

Chapter4

4. PAL SYSTEM

Most of us are under the delusion that we’re here by chance, fate, or divine intervention. Even science struggles for a theory, a freak simian mutation must be the lamest excuse ever, but it’s understandable considering the context. It can be difficult stepping back from a situation, when everyone around you is busy aping a lower life form. Rage is all the rage, it’s been that way for a long time, or at least as far as society is permitted to recall.
science fictionThe disturbing truth is that something was tampered with long ago, by someone with a terrible sense of humour, the whole caboodle reprogrammed, and even encrypted for purposes unknown. But that’s a different matter, altogether.
science fictionI find that dreams are the best way to learn about oneself, and to some extent, recapture control of a subverted mind. One of my favourite dreams that fell to the cutting room floor, featured the kind charity of a warm and loving family, whom I’ve never met, and most likely never will. Wandering through the familiar streets of a fictional northern mining town, cobbled together from classic soaps and sitcoms, I came across an archetypal stereotype, a fat and jolly salt of the earth.
science fictionHe wore a ten gallon hat he’d picked up on his last vacation, and he drove a beaten up Cadillac he’d salvaged from a local scrap yard. He spoke little, but had a kind face, and a self effacing manner that put me at ease. He asked if I was down on my luck, so I told him that I was lost and looking for a job. He offered me a lift, swerved the open-top heap with a sharp right, down a cul-de-sac of a quaint cottage-style council estate.
science fictionHe led me to a green door, played knock down ginger, and was gone. A woman in a dressing gown with brood in tow, took me in and fed me. Then she trimmed my hair, dressed me in old but clean clothes from her late husband’s wardrobe, and set me on my way with a little change for bus fare, should one pass.
science fictionI awoke abruptly, but I couldn’t shake off the feeling that I’d been walking in someone else’s shoes, perhaps a dead man. My memories can barely muster a friendly face at the best of times, let alone domestic bliss, and with such convincing detail. I’m more experienced at nightmares, a vast majority of which feature a frantic chase, with no beginning nor end.
science fictionDreams and nightmares share one thing in common, a lack of closure, that awful nagging feeling that the whole charade will be over, before I’ve even had a chance to learn the rules. Worse still, all that wasted effort, for a seemingly pointless exercise in transcendental futility.
science fictionI’ve learned two things from my nocturnal ventures:
science fictionscience fiction1. I regularly get stuck in other people’s dreams. They’re never friends, nor total strangers, but homoeopathically connected through hearsay, like a diluted synchronicity.
science fictionscience fiction2. The speed of life is mirrored by the speed of time, which is a side-effect of the false barometer of the soul, known as the mind.
science fictionI’ve only dreamt of one inhuman life, an energetic being, living in an electric blue frequency of light, peppered with plasma pools, which effervesced in a cobalt cave of fool’s gold stars. A symbolic construct for my benefit, counteracting my limited understanding of a greater reality, than I could possibly comprehend. A place outside of time and space, home to a society of all-knowing and benevolent creatures of silence and solitude. Highly learned beings, some as tall as trees, who sat peacefully, or bathed, or merely glanced and smiled in the direction of yet another wide-eyed intruder. Their voiceless conversations guiding their young, soft soothing thoughts crystallised with experience. A spectacle of sensorial splendour so beautiful, my heart sank as I struggled to form any kind of human comparison.
science fictionI felt ashamed at my limitations, the gross acts of an instinctual individuality, barbed by the longing to hunt and gather information. I left there with the distinct feeling that I, and all my kind, are at best obtuse in a place like that, and at worst, the embodiment of vulgarity.
science fictionAs I slipped back into my body I met a fellow interloper, one of many who I assume have traded sleeping lives with me. Their engram of reassurance was a break from protocol, yet a welcome sign of interdimensional compatibility, and a potential friendship from beyond my imagination.
science fictionThose familiar shadows, neither living, nor dead, that stand sentry in my first and last waking moments, seem as unsure of me as I am of them. They know that I know what’s going on, it’s more than lucidity, I’ve woken up in sleep. Two versions of myself, conscious in the subconscious, hurriedly exchanging cryptic messages in an intergalactic semaphore, confirming the truth that waking life is just another dream. That’s not something you can simply shrug off, in fact quite the reverse, I wear that memory like a crown.

Chapter 5

5. DEFLECTION

I am an interloper, a metaphysical day-walker, who hankers for a nocturnal past. I used to suffer from insomnia, I still do to some degree, but at its peak I’d spin around the clock like a roulette ball, now it’s more like bar billiards.
science fictionI’ve just about got the hang of mornings, that great wall of incongruity that greets me every day. As a coping mechanism, I constantly immerse myself in sound, in the deep end of the auditory pool, to mask out all intrusion, and avoid the mental bends of dream decompression. Like a deep sea diver in a bathysphere, I sink beneath the muffled screeching gulls and screaming kids, past the barking backyard dogs and wailing cats on heat. Far below the heavy drone of black helicopters, and the whining queues of chemtrail jets that criss-cross my coastal sky.
science fictionA view that used to be far more blue, has turned as white as a sheet, even silver, when the sun breaks through the tramlines of barium and aluminium chaff. Whether the weather has been modified to save the world, or kill it, seems pretty academic now, watching the seasons blur into each other, as the sky transforms into a giant TV screen.
science fictionOnce evening falls, the stars hang too low for my liking. Some of them glint so strangely, I can even make out double and triple lights of neon primary colours. Then there are the black triangles, the floating orbs, and tiny shooting stars. The night sky’s far too busy to bother with anymore, it doesn’t make sense to me these days. The wandering seasons and planetary bodies, even the sun doesn’t know its arse from its elbow, and when it does decide to pop up from some random direction, it flickers like a shitty fluorescent tube.
science fictionI’m getting tired of surprises, there are so many glitches I can barely bring myself to glance upwards. The last time I took a peek, I saw the sun rise and set within an hour, it’s almost getting embarrassing how fake the world’s become. The lies have left me feeling numb, and If my thoughts have ever been controlled by a shadow government, I’m sure they’d have lost interest by now, I know I have. What really gets to me is a tediously repetitive sense of déjà vu, somewhat sprinkled with disappointment. Whoever cooked up this world needs to find another job.
science fictionWhen we sleep, our brains are submerged below a tide of cerebrospinal fluid, that looks like the sky when it was still clean. At nightfall, the pinpricks that twinkle-twinkle, are the synapses of the human brain ticking over, dreaming of a new tomorrow. Each dawn, the brain floods with a deep blue neural brainwash, stripping universal truths from the short-term memory, leaving nothing but the subliminal instructions of a nocturnal yesterday, to play for today.

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