Image of Andrew McCall's solid light sculpture You and I - Horizontal II (2009) at Australian Centre for the Moving Image
You and I – Horizontal II, Anthony McCall (2009). Photograph by Richard Baxter.

Read Part 1: Missing Person

Read Part 2: Forrest Trail

Read Part 3: The Droste Effect

Read Part 4: The Order of Things

Read Part 5: Rift Valley

Chaos: When the present determines the future, but the approximate present does not approximately determine the future. Edward Lorenz

Every news channel was streaming the very little details of the case that were known, each trying to get a more ‘exclusive’ angle than their competitors.

Channel Z8 was running an interview with a local grocery store owner.

‘I’ll never forget when that girl disappeared. What was it seventeen, eighteen years ago? Whole life ahead of her, and boom, suddenly gone, just like that. I’d been watching the cricket when one of my customers mentioned her remains had been found. What I want to know is- how the hell did she end up in Siberia of all places? Long way from schoolies week on the Gold Coast…’

The journalist probed for as much anecdotal fluff for the news piece as he could get  ‘You say you knew Eckles? Can you describe him Albert? Can I call you Al?’

‘Yeah, call me Al. He was just like everyone else in the neighbourhood- nothing unusual in his purchases, milk, eggs, bread, fruit, knew enough about sport to keep up a conversation. But he did have a strange tendency to disappear for long periods of time…’

Fiona rolled her eyes at the familiar face getting his 15 minutes of fame. He was milking it, and the journalist was relishing this ‘exclusive insight’. Switching the channel, she saw news item after news item on the same rolling coverage of the case that was set to change the world.

Liam Eckles, 58 year old former teaching assistant at Henfield Primary School had been charged with the abduction and murder of student Cynthia Sanderson following an anonymous tip off, verified by DNA evidence, and if the prosecution builds a strong enough case- timeline evidence as well. In addition to the abduction and murder charge, Eckles was facing six counts of ‘interference in the order of things’, the first instance of such a charge, and all eyes were on the case that would have far reaching consequences in societal structures and questions of personal liberty. The forensic department was reviewing Eckles’ timeline, a new technique that was largely classified, to understand his connection to a series of seemingly unrelated, yet apparently connected events.

Fiona switched off the TV to have a little peace and quiet. She got enough talk of the case at home. Her father, Attorney General Forrest Cambridge was obsessed with the case and was following it closely. He could occasionally be seen peering out from the televised courtroom footage.

The residents of the aged care facility where Fiona worked had settled to sleep and it was time for her to now get on with paperwork.

Getting up to make a cup of tea, she noticed light streaming out of room 454. The occupant was a lot younger than the other residents, but had wound up there following an ice-diving accident that had led to extensive brain injury, leaving her with locked-in syndrome.

Fiona found her lying in bed, her only motion the furtive blinking of her eyes. Sensors detecting a pre-determined sequence of blinks enabled her to switch the TV on and off.

Fiona was new and hadn’t yet been trained in the intricacies of communication with Ms Blackmore.

Ms Blackmore’s eyes were fixed on the screen, camera panning between the earnest young journalist’s commentary and the wild eyed man being escorted to the waiting police car, long white unruly hair and untidy stubble juxtaposed against the neat presentation of his court room suit.

‘It’s okay Ms Blackmore, time to get some sleep.’

She’d had trouble adjusting to life in the home, having been fiercely independent up until the time of the accident.

It wasn’t clear what was troubling her, but Fiona had learnt to shift the focus from whatever seemed to be causing the anxiety. She switched the channel and found yet another news item discussing the case.

Flinching the only way her body knew how, with startled, erratic blinks, Sue Blackmore felt Liam’s piercing gaze menacing her through the flat screen, taunting her knowingly, her emasculated, still existence making it impossible to tell her story. Damn him for what he has done to me. I returned from Baikal a fraction of my whole. He killed me there, leaving everything but this motionless shell at the bottom of that lake.

It had never been Cynthia’s fault. She’d completed the timeline, but Sue had left the burial of the time capsule to her assistant, Liam. In one swift motion, he’d erased Cynthia’s words and her world, setting in motion a series of catastrophic events. Condemned to silence, Sue couldn’t share this and it would be up to the forensic scientists to connect the abstract sequence of events, join the dots in the lives of so many people, to say with certainty that this man was responsible for it all.

If a butterfly’s wings can flutter and cause a hurricane, what could I do with the blink of an eye? Sue wondered, in a moment of empowerment. Fiona switched off the TV and left the room quietly.

‘Goodnight Ms Blackmore, sleep well’


This brings an end to the Timeline series. The point of departure when I started writing this installment was the WP Daily Prompt chaos‘. I started reading about Chaos Theory and then got lost on a Wikipedia tangent that led to the discovery that Ray Bradbury had written a short story (‘A Sound of Thunder’) on the theme, and it involved time travel! Ha! My nod to Bradbury’s Story, which I haven’t yet read, apart from the plot summary, is the naming of my antagonist in this story, Liam Eckles. I was also struck by the ‘coincidence’ of the image I chose for this series and the thematic connection to what is known as the ‘Butterfly Effect’, a common term for chaos theory coined by meteorologist and mathematician Edward Lorenz following the often mis-quoted title of a presentation he delivered at the 139th meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science: ‘Does the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas?’

I hope you enjoyed reading the series as much as I enjoyed writing it. It pushed my boundaries in being able to sit with a story long enough to develop it to the end without getting bored, and I have been hugely encouraged by feedback from readers who have said the stories work as stand alone pieces as well as part of a series. As always, your feedback and thoughts are welcome.


The final installment of the Timeline series, originally published May 11, 2016. Image added October 15, 2017. If you head to my Instagram (see widget in the side bar), you can view the stop motion animation I created by uploading a series of stills taken during a recent visit to Anthony McCall’s solid light sculpture ‘You & I – Horizontal II (2009) at ACMI (Australian Centre for the Moving Image) to Flipagram.

52 thoughts on “Erasure

  1. I love the stories. I want to print them out and reread slowly. It’s hard on a device as I get distracted. I am more likely to put down a device than I am a hard copy. I feel like I’m reading the inside scoop on a breaking story and I don’t want to miss the previous episodes. There is no print option below your post, so is it okay if I do that, temporarily, of course. I’ll shred everything after. I have two shredders in my study. (They can’t handle the heat from my shredding sessions). xoxoxoxoxoxo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much SB. It means a lot to me that you would want to read them again! 🙂 I know exactly what you mean about distraction when reading electronically- I have that struggle too- I am still trying to sit still long enough to finish another blogger’s novel that I have in pdf but it just isn’t enticing to look at a screen for that long- and the story is not the issue- its actually a really well written, interesting story.

      Please go ahead and print! That’s cool. Is there a print widget or something available on So funny- I imagine you double shredding, till you just have fluff. Good material for a papier-mâché project! look at all those accents! haha. I really want to know why you have such intense heat generating shredding activities going on there. Or will you have to kill me? haha. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts after your slow hard copy read. xxx

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re so funny. I love accents. So whatever you throw at me will be great. I use two shredders because I’m too lazy to shred as and when. I save the paper up (bills, documents or anything with my personally identifying information on) and so I need to use one and let it cool down and get on the other one. I wish you luck with your reading project. Sounds like loads of fun. xoxo

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You really shouldn’t encourage me. But now that you have, did I tell you I had an amazing brunch at a café recently? a simple consommé with a sprinkle of croûton, crêpe with nutella and banana, and a crushed blueberry and piña colada frappé. I lost my appetite though when the tête-à-tête stayed on the topic of the weather and El Niño till it felt like we’d reached the fin de siècle. Okay, done! Have a lovely day xx

        Liked by 1 person

      3. You’re so sweet, thank you. Apparently, someone who thought my last post was a Miss World pageant, was disapproving of this one, so I used it in my Gravatar. Silent campaign for world peace. Oh, and let’s save the whales. I am sure a whale out there is gagging to hear this person’s opinion on whaling. Ha ha ha ha

        Liked by 1 person

      4. OMG- yes, I noticed that comment and raised an eyebrow. But I did like your response (although I didn’t like like it, but I did like it). People are strange. Can’t remember the exact words but I remember there was an absolute lack of consideration about how he (I’m guessing) would come across or how you (or the model if you had one) would feel. I had thought it was a protest actually, but chose to just say I liked the pic 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Thank you for noticing. I was inhaling a bit because I knew other people would read that. And I had just spent a month off my blog to eliminate two approval-disapproval hopscotch players. (It’s a game toxic people play). Ha ha ha ha ha … Needless to say, I am so tickled by the idea of irritating this person. The model is 8 months pregnant with her first child.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Right?! She’s supposed to be a Spanish-Italian aristocrat in my fictional paradise but she’s a facsimile of a colleague. Love Chilean women, by the way.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Yeah! She fits the story. I only know two- the one I went to school with was quiet and sweet but really quick witted and funny once she warmed up, and the other one was just a whirlwind of drama and passion and fun, and a little unhinged at times too (ex girlfriend of an ex flatmate of mine). So, not sure what conclusions to draw about Chilean women, apart from I know two who are very different but nice in their differences. haha

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Woah. Just scanned a write up on the plot. It is time travel too and there’s mention of the main character’s ‘timeline’! I hsve honestly never watched the film, but should add that I have seen ‘the bell jar and the butterfly’ which no doubt seeped into my subconscious as the MC in that had locked-in syndrome. Ok, really off to bed now!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Great! Powerful stuff, the student timelines:) It’s a very interesting subject, how small events often determine our whole life ahead. I have a story for today, a lot, but really a lot shorter than this one which kind of touches the same subject (these strange casualities if life, eh?). So this was great inspiration;)

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh really? Cool. I noticed the name of your friend ‘Odd’ in your non fiction post and thought of Odd Nordrum (not sure of the spelling)- he’s an artist and the only other ‘Odd’ I’d ever heard of…is that common in Norway too? Btw I have a norweigan friend so ill be sure to tey to listen out for a scottish-like sound to her accent.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. This is a fascinating series of stories, Mek. Much to re-read and enjoy here. I like your style–dream-like yet measured. These things occupy me all the time too. Each time I do a cluster my mind always finds its way back to subjects of time and reality. I think this speculative aspect is something I need to exorcise by writing. Hope your writing and course are going well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks David. I find myself always gravitating to these type of stories too no matter who my characters are or where in the world they live. Writing is going slow- am still tweaking my opening 600 words. Course not so good. I have had some false starts with issues with my course tutor and currently waiting on a resolution…I’ll elaborate when I finally get around to replying to that email of yours. I have been a bit overwhelmed with the amount of stuff I should be doing even when I’m not doing it at 100% capacity so my blog reading has fallen by the wayside unfortunately…I know you have a lot of interesting posts that I have still not given a look in. Hope your novel and uni are going well.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sorry to hear that. 😦 Mine’s going through a lull too. I need to rethink things. I didn’t like the story. Uni is in second week and going okay. Not learning anything new at the moment though–the importance of freewriting, journalling, routine, that kind of thing. Being overwhelmed doesn’t help our writing. Hope you get back on track soon. Look up Jeff VanderMeer’s ‘Wonderbook’. It’s been inspirational for me, fun and different from other books, made me realise that technique doesn’t have to be prescriptive, and we all find our own methods. Good luck!


      1. Kind of you to ask. It’s the writing schedule I’m working on this week. Feels like all of the pieces are there; just have to start looking up the edges. ☺️ Any idea what you’ll be sharing after the timeline series? Wishing you and your family well!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Good for you! 🙂

        I had a few hiccups with my writing course but I’m getting back to it now with a new tutor. However, among a whole bunch of challenges is that my favourite procrastination activity on the train (my usual writing time) is drafting blog posts. I have 4 in the works, all in various stages of draft, and all but 1 are non-fiction. One has made it into a draft on WP and I am going to now step away from it, give it a once over tomorrow then publish. I feel like getting that one in particular out of the way will have exorcised something that has blocked me from getting focus back onto my course work. At least I have been writing, right? 🙂

        BTW- apologies in advance- I have not been reading much at all of any blogs- I just haven’t had the mental space nor the actual time to lately, but nice hearing from you!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Love hearing you procrastinate by blogging! Sometimes writing slides over into the “fret” zone, and I start treating it as work. You have a lot of wonderful stuff in the works! No worries (ever) what you do or don’t have time to read; all of us parents should automatically get a pass on that kind of scrutiny, I think. My replies to everyone still linger too long. Cheers!

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