As Interviewed by Madeline Brouse
I meet Akira Pixels at the Awkright Arms in the pass above Trotterwell, for afternoon tea. I notice him adding a tipple to his earl grey, but it’s not brandy, it’s concentrated energy drink. I should have expected this; he does have blue hair. I’ve seen him on the internet, of course, but meeting him in person is different. He’s shorter than I imagined, but no less lively. It’s not until our snacks have arrived, two scones for me, walnut cake for Akira, that I launch into my questions. I start with the obvious one.
Is your name really Akira Pixels?
Yeah, for sure. Well, legally anyway. Just don’t ask my mum, she’s still miffed that I changed it. But someone calls you Anthony, what are you going to do? Fortunately, she lives in Cumbria, so she doesn’t get down to remind everyone too often. Just kidding, she’s a delight.
That’s not a local accent, is it?
I grew up in Keswick, up in the Lakes, didn’t I say? That’s my mum’s side of the family, my father’s a Korean poker player, although we’ve been estranged a while now.
I’m sorry to hear that. And now you’ve made your home in the Peaks, here in Trotterwell?
You bet. My pad’s Brink Hall, although I’m thinking of renaming it. I’m thinking Pixel’s Palace, but the council have got their back up. They’re throwing some spat about my having painting the listed interior panelling day-glow pink. The colour isn’t the problem, it’s the modern paint, apparently. Anyways, it’s this brilliant crumbling pile out on the edge of town, although we’re having to have the floors redone after a mole infestation.
You said your dad is a poker player. Is that where your money comes from?
To begin with, yeah. But me and a couple of my mates made a metric fluffton mining and trading bitcoin, so it’s all good. I used that to spin up channels on the socials and, if we ever get Brink Hall licked into shape, we can grind that Airbnb goodness from here to happytown.
How come you moved from Cumbria? From there to the Peaks seems like going from the sublime to the sublime! It’s all the same, bar the lakes, innit?
And the coast. As in, the Lakes have one. I’m, between you and me, Madeline, I’m just not a big fan of water. Our ancestors didn’t go to all the trouble of evolving lungs umpty-million years ago just for us to go dibbing about in the sea. We might as well have just stayed there! No thanks.
Let’s go back to the moles. Would you describe that a paranormal event?
I’m not sure, exactly. It was certainly seven shades of mayhem. The Insurance company called in act of God, although they declined to say which one exactly when I asked them for my podcast. Technicalities. Honestly, you should ask that Argana Zeit, she’d know if it was paranormal. I paid her to sort it out.
Argana Zeit comes up a lot in my interviews. How’d you meet her?
She came up to the hall looking for someone completely different. The local fuzz were having trouble with a haunting, they’d hired her to look into it. Still, much more exciting for her to meet me, right? I mean, I’m famous, whereas the descendants of Samuel Brink, who gives a flying squirrel?
Do you get on well?
My friend, I get on with everybody. That’s how I roll. Argana’s pushy though, and she’s always jumping to conclusions. Her friend Yasmin, now, she’s solid. She’s always got a solution when my tech crew get stuck, full on has that so-oblivious-and-awkward-that-i-must-be-cool thing going on.
In the 80s that kind of personality would have got you your shoes tied together in P.E lessons.
Thankfully we live in more civilised times. I can’t imagine how you Gen X folks made it without the internet, I’d have literally died. And anyway, Yasmin reached the quarterfinals of the Dino Rampage III championships on the European server, without even leaving her living room. That’s bona fide level, y’know?
Nice. I want to bring this back around to the paranormal. You hired Argana, so I’m guessing you believe in it?
Yeah I do! I learned a great deal about luck from my father, and if luck is real, then a whole lot of other things have to be real, too. I’ve seen things, too. I first saw a ghost when I was, like, 15.
Now we’re getting somewhere! Tell me about the ghost you saw.
Me and one of my mates, we’d been reading Klunes’ work on quantum duality. So naturally, having the overconfidence of teenagers, we figured we’d rig up an Arduino to a couple of antennae and measure the Klunes differential.
You may be leaving some of our readers behind, there.
It’s to do with the differing collapse of probability waves for paranormal pheno– you know what, you should talk to Dr Egbe about this stuff. So, right, we made one, and we thought it was doing something, though it was probably just static. It took us down to the Derwent. The lake, not the river, because I was still living in the North-west then. I’ll tell you, it confused me when I got here, and there’s a river called just the same as the lake by my mum’s place in Keswick.
Oh that. Well, it was misty, wasn’t it, and super quiet. Like, you couldn’t hear a thing. Or see it, barely, and we were almost in the water before we knew where the edge was. The detector cut out, and at that moment, there was a shape looming out of the mist, where it would have had to be standing on the water if it was human. Man, did we jump!
What was it?
Turned out it was a tree, sticking out of the shoreline, that someone had hung a towel on and left by accident. Once we stopped laughing, we went to retrieve it. And that is when we saw the face in the water, looking up at the tree. Looking up at us.
A human face?
Yeah, and that was the ghost, you could tell by the shimmery edges. It –he—looked happy, though, like it was just waiting. We thought, what kind of drowned person is happy about it? He had a distinctive bifurcated beard though, so we looked him up later. There weren’t any deaths on Derwent we could find that matched him, but eventually we found his face in the obituaries from 2008. He’d died in his bed, slipping peacefully away in his sleep. The family threw his ashes into the lake, and I guess he’s just there, waiting for the rest to join him now.
That’s kind of sweet.
Are you out of your mind? Every time I went out on the water I thought about that face. Whenever they bottled it and sold it, I thought about it. Whenever my mate suggested a camping trip, and we’d pull water from the lake and boil it, I thought about it. It got too much. I sold my jet skis and wetsuit and left Keswick, and never looked back.
That’s harsh. And that’s why you moved here?
Yep. Derbyshire, furthest British county from the sea.
Thanks Akira, that’s all my editor’s going to give me space for.
No problem, cheers for lunch! Hey, is this going online? Can I give you my Brink Hall website?
If I can fit it in, sure.