Schemers is the latest genre-crossing anthology of new short fiction from Stone Skin Press. From the classic myths to the pages of the Bible, from Shakespeare’s stage to the yellowed pulps of yesteryear, literature runs red with tales of plotting and betrayal. Today we picture betrayals occurring not at feasts for kings or out in the gothic woods, but in CFC-lit cubicles, to the tap-tap-tap-tapping of desktop keyboards.
The narrator of Tania Hershman’s “The Plan or You Must Remember This” addresses us in our time’s default voice of deception, that of deliberately bland bureaucracy. Its reversed chronology gives us a puzzle to unlock, though perhaps not one as great as the easy suppression of conscience at the center of its driving social experiment.
Look at the Memory Man run! There he goes! We knew he’d run. We didn’t know when exactly or in which direction, but we knew. Doors were left slightly ajar, locks not quite locked. Yes, we’re recording it, we’re videoing him. Of course we are, for later analysis—of his speed, direction, gait, the prevailing wind. Go, Memory Man, go! How will he remember this? We won’t be able to ask him, not this time. Look at him, you’ve got to be impressed with it all, at his age. His knees look quite stiff, oops, he’s stumbled. But Memory Man picks himself straight up, not even looking behind to see if we’re following. Of course we’re not following. That would defeat the purpose. He has to go. It’s his time to go now. Farewell, Memory Man, we’ll see you soon. We hope we’ve left you with… well, if not happy, then at least new. Memories. Ones you won’t. Well, you don’t, do you? Forget.
For the rest, get Schemers from Stone Skin Press.
Tania Hershman is the author of two story collections: My Mother Was an Upright Piano: Fictions (Tangent Books, 2012), a collection of fifty-six very short fictions, and The White Road and Other Stories (Salt, 2008; commended, 2009 Orange Award for New Writers). Tania’s short stories and poetry are published or forthcoming in, among others, Five Dials, The Stinging Fly, Tears in the Fence, PANK Magazine, SmokeLong Quarterly, The London Magazine, and New Scientist, and on BBC Radio. She is writer-in-residence in Bristol University’s Science Faculty and editor of The Short Review, the online journal spotlighting short story collections and their authors.