FOREVER ALONE DRONE: Liz Jensen waits on angels

17 Dec

Simon Ings writes:

Anyone following this blog who wondered why all the lovely videos dried up – we’re still filming and editing, and there’ll be a lot more great content coming up in 2013, including an interview with Daniel Tammett, author of Born on a Blue Day, and pioneer of “digit-lit”.

True, we’ve slowed down production a little. For a start, I found myself releasing videos before the authors I was interviewing had a chance to write for Arc. We’re still courting Jake Arnott, whose novel The House of Rumour caused such a stir earlier this year. And when Liz Jensen gamely sat in front of a chromakey screen some months back to talk about her novel The Uninvited; Good to Go, her story for Home alone drone, wasn’t even thought of.  Incredibly, Liz forgave the dreadful cods-up I made of her video (I mean, you can hear what she says, but what on earth is happening to her face? Is it melting…?) and turned in this tremendous monologue that, hint by hint, deconstructs the way we have medicalised the whole messy, deeply personal business of dying.     

Here’s a short extract:

It’s peak season here at the lake. A hundred in the shade, breeze like a sadist hair-dryer, speedboats roaring on the water, stirring up scuzz from the latest algal-bloom explosion. Weekends like this, the whole town’s packed with head-cases from Utah getting high like only outa state Mormons can, making it the busiest test market I’ve worked so far, and I seen a few. As one of Arizona’s top domestic violence/sports accident nexuses, Havasu’s ideal to trial a project like this.

“Hi there, Kylie Wells, Angel Operator, at your service.” That’s what I say to the tragedies when they come in which might sound dumb seeing as they can’t hear me, but you’re gonna get intimate with someone, you gotta introduce yourself at least, is my thinking.

The Angel’s always been called the Angel, but the overall system needed branding cuz Threshold, who I work for, they launch it commercially hopefully next year, so you know what they paid some New York team a fortune to come up with? Sweet Parting. Some dude from HQ sent an email about how it originates from the William Shakespeare quotation parting is such sweet sorrow, but sorrow being a downer they did some tweaking. Right away us Angel-handlers were coming up with our own alternatives. My Way, Happy Endings, Je Ne Regrette.

My favorite? Die Nice.

The Angel’s been so much in demand it feels like I’ve barely switched her off since I got here which is four weeks ago. We got murders, boat collisions, oxy explosions, car smashes, drugs-and-alcohol offences, pervert auto-asphyxiations, you name it. And suicides, we got them up the ass. Had one come in last night, a bleach swallower, sweet sixteen, with eyes all big and dark and shit-scared till the Angel worked its magic.

Jeez, I thought. There’s still such a thing as bleach?

A primitive, the extremely sexy new doc on the ICU called her. But truth is, that girl coulda been me, a decade or so back, before I quit Kentucky and straightened out.

When I sent the kid’s report in to the Operator Feedback Division, I flagged up the exit shot, told them Threshold should use it in Sweet Parting’s promotional material, if they’re planning some kinda brochure. Bleach or no bleach, she went out with the best smile I seen all year.

Her final wish?

A ten-inch butterfly tattoo at the top of her ass-crack, one wing either side of the coccyx. Colours: red blue and green. I shit you not.

You can read Liz Jensen’s Good to go in full in Arc 1.4: Forever Alone Drone, out now

for iPads and iPhones

for Android devices, Windows and Mac computers

as a collectible print edition

and for Kindle.

And if you would like to write for Arc, do check out our new competition.

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