PART269 THE CAVE a short story


THE CAVE a short story

 

30th, October 29, 2010. Felix was lying in bed sleeping without a care in the world. He was woken up with a start when a slimy tube smashed though his window wetly wrapped around him and with a neck whipping movement snatched him right out of bed and out the window, a bright light and then he lost consciousness. The next morning the police where inspecting the scene and concluded it was kidnapping, they were wrong.

 

“Hello is anybody there? Where am I? My neck hurts” Felix half shouted cautiously as he looked around his surroundings. He was in a cave, a very big cave, strange green and white luminous pockets glowed in crevasses all around, the air was cool and fresh, a breeze softy glided past. The echoing sounds of dripping water plopped and popped throughout the cavernous atmospheric cave, A large pool of very blue water formed a sort of shimmering bath with droplets of water sailing down constantly, a puffy purple mushroom things was in another corner, it was very soft, sort of firm and velvety but somehow also like lying on a marsh mellow. This is what Felix had thought when he had woken up on it that morning. Or rather he thought it was morning; actually he didn’t know where he was let alone what time it was.

 

“Hello, is anybody there?” He called out again, his voice bouncing off the slippery cave walls. His feet where cold, his neck felt yanked and he was deeply confused. He walked around his area and realized that it was a series of caves connected to each other by tunnels, they where all similar with high uneven rocky ceilings glowing multi coloured lights and water dripping here and there, in one cave he found a pile of aromatic yellow hard stuff and a sort of congealed glistening brown blob which reflected his wide searching eyes and deeply furrowed brow. Felix found where the breeze was migrating from, the air becoming almost icy, he began to do a shuffling run around a winding tunnel, the lights twinkling on the rocks, the wind howling around the bends ‘This is a funky club which I went to, had too much to drink and passed out on that deliciously soft sofa’ He said to himself cheerfully in his head.

He was right the bright light of morning greeted him around a bend the fresh air slapping him in the face. He squinted and protected his eyes with his arm. He noticed a moving green stick up ahead, it stiffly moved towards him like a broom being pushed along the ground. Felix could not see where the stick ended as it kept lengthening towards him. The green stick was about as thick as my wrist and it reared up like a snake and stood erect in front of Felix. He wonder if maybe he was on some mind bending drug trip, maybe someone slipped him something rummy in the club last night?. “Hello broom, my neck hurts” Felix said trying to relax and embrace the situation as he perceived it with a happy go lucky attitude. When the broom with blinding speed bonked him on the head and a sound or rather a violent shuddering vibration brought Felix to his knees like a sack of potatoes he realized that this wasn’t some trippy thing in his head. He had literally been bonked on the head and he knew it. Felix picked himself up and ran back through the tunnel he had come down over taking the wind and rushing as quickly as he could back to his marshmallow bed sofa thing.

 

A dark time enveloped poor Felix as his mind tried unsuccessfully to get to grips with the situation. The purple thing did help calm him a lot. Later when he felt comfortable enough he realized that he needed a poo, he found a small round hole which he did his business down and then he washed his hands in the big pool of water, then he took off his PJs and washed himself in it, it wasn’t hot but it wasn’t cold either, it wasn’t quiet water either, it just didn’t convince him as he bobbed up and down in the rich blue substance, its consistency was strange in the way that it wasn’t consistent at all, some parts of the pool where like jelly and others where more like oily air, when he tasted it, it quenched his thirst but it would taste different with every mouthful he took, tastes which were utter new and indescribable.

His thoughts about the broom stick bonking where pushed aside out of necessity other wise he would surly go mad. His whole mind, body and soul knew this so there was no fighting about it, it just disappeared into the vaults of his mind until he knew he was strong enough again. Over the passing time, he didn’t know how long exactly but he kept close to his purple sleeping mushroom and he found that he could eat the yellow hard stuff and the glistening brown stuff he had discovered before also tastes which where alien to him but pleasant enough to put in the mouth and suitable enough to be taken for a visit to the stomach. He achieved the basics of life, he slept, he ate and drank and he went to the loo and kept clean. This Plato reached the broom bonking episode was allowed back into his brain again. The brow furrowed, the eyes squinted and the hand scratched the bonce.

 

Felix searched the cave for boulders, he found one and broke it against the cave wall, a slither of rock a bit like a spear head came off, and He tore a segment of his PJs off and tided it around like a handle. Summoning up the courage he crept along the winding passage way again, passing the howling wind coming his way. He reached the turning and began cautiously to approach the light, he waited for a moment to adjust his eyes to the light and carried on. His heart lurched into his throat like a salted egg, sticking dryly and uncomfortably just below his tonsils, The stick approached again, sliding along the cave floor toward him, he brandished his sharp rock and when it came close enough he stepped on it and slashed down on the thing, his knife broke and bounced away, the stick whipped violently and removed its self from under Felix’s foot, a great coil convulsed from the light towards him, the thicker end of the stick which was now acting less like a broom handle and more like a mad python, it was dripping with green ooze, several other coils undulated towards the fear stricken Felix, like a living weed. Felix jumped over one and began to run with all his speed towards the light, ducking and weaving in between them all, suddenly a coil swept his feet hard and his legs flew in the air and his head smote the hard stone ground with a nasty crack, a blinding moment of light and pain then darkness took him.

 

Felix woke up on his marshmallow purple bed; his head felt thick and was swimming with painful stars. “How on earth did I get back here?” He groaned to himself as he clutched his head with both hands. Another indeterminable about of time passed and Felix recovered, the bump on his head slowly shrinking and then disappearing. When he had recovered Felix continued his exploration of the caves, he would bring a large chunk of the golden yellow food with him and crumble it leaving it on the floor so he could find his way back to his bed area. One day when he was almost depleted of the yellow stuff and was contemplating heading back to have a snooze on his purple marshmallow he saw in the dimly lit high roofed cave a black cluster of rocks at the far end. There were many other rocks he had seen but the curious think about these ones is they looked like they were sucking the light away from the pockets of luminous lights on the cave walls, the green, blue and white lights where none existent around the black rock area and the lights nearby where weak and the light seemed to stream like a reel of glowing silk towards the rocks. Felix approached with curiosity. The rocks where giving off a slight heat, which Felix was excited about, although the cave wasn’t cold it wasn’t warm either and he thought about using one of these rocks in his pool to make it a warm bath, he could even keep one near his purple bed to keep him warmer at night. He went to grab one of the smaller stones and as he touched it his hand sunk right through into the hot centre of the thing, he gave a disgusted whoop and retracted his hands from the gooey mess. It was like tar coating his hands, he tried desperately to get it off but it stuck to him warmly, he ran back to his familiar cave and tried washing it off with water, this also didn’t work it looking like an oil based rock thing.

Sitting despondently by his pool wondering if he would be doomed to live with black shiny hands for the rest of his life he gave another whoop half surprise half joy as the black rock slid off both hands in the form of hard rubbery gloves. “There are like plastic” he said as he inspected the gloves, they were still warm as well. They where uneven and thicker in some parts. An idea presented its self and running as fast as his legs could carry him Felix followed the yellow food trail through the blinking lights in the caves and back to the cluster of rocks. He scooped and plastered the hot messy liquid rock all over his lower body, making some trousers, when they had solidified he began lathering the rock on the souls of his feet and on his knees for extra protection. Then he took them off, they retained their shape, then he made himself a top with extra padding around the shoulders and chest area. The stuff was flexible and fitted snugly, but it was also hard on the outside like armor. He fashioned a helmet carefully, padding the chin and the top of the head. He wasn’t interested in anymore head blippings. When he had created a full body suit he put it all on. He felt like a knight in armor, the suit didn’t restrict his movements at all and he was warm. Having an idea he dipped his already gloved hand into the rock again and after the second coat had dried he repeated the process until his right hand was like a club the size of a misshapen bowling ball. Grabbing another small rock which was lying on the ground he then dipped one part of it in the liquid rock and attached it to his hand. A heavy weighted weapon with a rock on the end.

 

Felix was stoked like a fire, he marched through the maze of tunnels again garbed in his sleek black new suit. He began winding his way back towards the tunnel with the light at the end. Practicing slaying thrusts with his new rock hand. He reached the light and without waiting for his foe he charged head forward renting the tunnel with a battle cry. Almost immediately the ground began to shake like a powerful earth quake. The sort of vibration like being inside a church bell when rung, attacked Felix’s ears and he staggered around trying to balance himself on the tunnels curved walls. His ears and sense of balance confused and ungrounded. An army of green tentacles slithered towards him and with lighting speed they wrapped around his every limb, with an almighty effort Felix managed to brake his club hand free and he crashed it down on one of the tentacles around his right foot, he struck again and again the tentacles loosened its coils. Spasming as it retreated. Pinning another tentacle against the tunnel wall Felix hit straight on with the tip of his rock fist and he punctured the thing, green blood spurted out a heavy metallic smell invaded his green soaked face, the ground shook and took him off his feet. More tentacles came and dragged him into the light.

 

Felix woke up on his mushroom bed. “OH COME ON!!” he screamed at the top of his voice. He immediately shut up as his throat turned to fire and he coughed up blood. He spat it out angrily got off the purple bed and stamped on the floor. He ran to the pool of water, took off his club glove and helmet and drank from the water. He ran to his hole and vomited down into the blackness. The hole was pitch black and Felix could not see the bottom. He wanted to shout but thought better of it. He wanted to ask who had put him hear, why and what the hell was that tentacles thing?” He had so many questions.

 

Another period of time passed as Felix recovered again. He began to study and experiment with the black rocks he had found. He found that when he hit them or tried to grab them quickly they would be solid and hard, like belly flopping on water, but when he touched them slowly he could put his hand right into them. He experimented with scooping dollops of the stuff out and dripping them in a line, when they set they were like floppy whips. He also found out that if he left them in his pool of water for a long time they would become completely hard. He found if he left them in the water for a short time they would become springy or whip like. He also found that he could put the rocks into each other or he could put what he had taken out back in. He decided to put all the rocks into one. He was left with a giant bolder who had streams of light traveling towards it from the florescent areas of the cave.

 

Felix began using the black rock to make sculptures, mainly creating large complicated shapes and only occasionally dedicating his time to making weapons or improving his armor. He just wasn’t up for another fight with the tentacles. Every so obtain the ground would quake and low sounds would sound from the direction bright light tunnel area. At the entrance of the tunnel he set up a row of rocks with black liquid rock shafts pointing towards the light. He didn’t really think that it would stop the green tentacles if they decided to come in further but it gave him piece of mind. More time passed.

 

Felix ate drank went to the loo, bathed and spent a lot of time on his purple marshmallow bed. It was in its ridiculously comfortable soft undulations that he found his apex of peace. He had crafted a table out of the black rock and some bowls and cups. The yellow and shiny brown food seemed never to diminish in size, in fact sometimes it grew. He didn’t particular like it but he could tell it was good for him. He knew and thought with a snigger how he was much fitter and healthier here than he ever was before in his old life. Although not content he tried not to think about his past life, Suicide just wasn’t in him and until be felt like it again he would not be going back out to battle with the tentacles.

 

But there was only so much time Felix could spent on his luscious purple marshmallow bed, with its super soft yet supportiveness, with its sleep inducing fragrances, there was only so many spiky sculptures he could mould before he started to think about getting out again. The dripping of the water, the cool breeze the winking colourful lights where charming but unfamiliar and he craved human contact. He wasn’t one for commitment when he had been in his other life but still just wanted to be able to see people, to have a back and forth chat. A powerful gut yearning stopped him from full resignation to his new life. Soon he began to get fit. Running over some forms and strikes he had learnt in Karate when he was a child. He sculpted his battle suit, making extra padding for his ears so he would be partially shielded from the vibrations, he put small rock spikes all over his suit and made a trident and a small shield. He would sit in his bath in full armor to harden his suit. He had found out over time that the rock would become liquid again and begin to turn back into a round rocky former shape, so he needed to keep it hard and in shape with water, he also found that the lights from his cave would be attracted to his suit, he could see the light bending and snaking towards his suit making it warm.

 

It was time, he was fitter, he had superior armor to last time and most importantly he was focused and ambitious to get out. Removing his rock spikes from the tunnel leading to the light he walked purposefully towards his fight. He crouched and moved thoughtfully and steadily forwards, brandishing his trident in his right hand. When the quakes began to start he stood still until he was steady and then continued to advance. The tentacles arrived shooting at him quickly, he raised his shield and one bounced off it with a splat, he thrust out with his trident and court another one fully impaling it before it snapped back and disappeared into the light. Felix breathed heavily, doggedly advancing, fighting the tentacles as they tried to grab his spiky armor. Then they stopped, as if knowing they could not grab him anymore. They hovered, feeling the air for a moment and then slowly retracted into the light. The cool wind rushed and howled towards Felix as if enticing and heralding the freedom which lay beyond. Felix rained in his impulse to run out of the tunnel and kept his guard up moving forward defensively. The vibrations began again this time it sounded like two different tones almost like two creatures communicating with each other. Felix’s helmet shielded his ears from the shaking. Then silence, Felix held his breath and managed to start blinking when a thing like a dark truck eclipsed the light and hit him like a wall and he lost consciousness.

 

Felix woke up on his purple bed again, he didn’t get up, he just lay there hurting and tears began to move in little streams down his face. A period of time elapsed and Felix recovered his body again. Years rolled by and Felix made the odd attempt to escape again but to no avail, one day Felix broke his leg and he died slowly on his purple marshmallow bed unable to feed himself anymore.

 

A creature vast and large, with sight and comprehension exceeding ours greatly was present next to an artificial cave opening; A round glistening whirring device was blowing air into the mouth of the cave. The creature, perceiving with its mind that a life form had left this world communicated wordlessly to its partner “Darling Felix has died”.

His partner replied “well you know those pets are very fragile and if you insist on playing with them so roughly then what do you expect? Don’t worry we can go and pick up another one anytime you want”. The life form contemplated and then dematerialized.

 

Norbert was sleeping peacefully in his bed when we woke up and saw a giant tube thrashing through his broken window, the slippery thing bunched around his waist and with a neck tugging jolt snatched him out of the window, Norbert saw a bright light and then he lost consciousness and everything went dark.

THE END

 

 

PART268 a rainy day with Grandpa


A RAINY DAY WITH GRANDPA a short story part 1

29th, October 29, 2010. It was a rainy Sunday afternoon. Young Bertie was bored, bored stiff. He walked restlessly about the large cold house thinking of something to do. He was a little fatty so any games involving running around or up and down stairs was out of the question, not to mention he was the only child in his family and the only child in the house. Bertie wasn’t awfully clever either, not to say if he ever felt like setting his mind to something he wouldn’t achieve it, quite the opposite, he would achieve it, but he had never set his mind to anything so to say he was clever would be like saying “I have a casket of gold nuggets at the bottom of the ocean but I don’t have a boat or a diving suit”, Bertie was lazy. The one thing he was good at was mischief, his selective slovenliness would fly out the window if he perceived any occasion to wreak a bit of havoc.

His mother was out as usually and his father was inaccessible behind two locked doors in his attic study. “What’s he studying on a Sunday?” Bertie thought to himself huffily. The only other person in the house apart from nurse was Grandpa, Grandpa Sedgwig. “ I will go and see if Grandpas up for some fun” Bertie thought to himself with a sigh of resignation, not completely thrilled with the idea but it was better than standing on the landing which was proving to be completely dull.

Grampa Sedgwig was down stairs in his own study, the fire crackling in the pot bellied fire. He was sitting looking out of the tall French windows observing with deep thought how the rain comes down. “What are you doing Grandpa?” Bertie asked “If you want me to talk to you please go out and knock on the door like a real human being” a voice said from the back of Grandpas head. Bertie left and closed the door and knocked, trying to make it as annoying as he possibly could by banging with great speed and with both fists. “all right come in you ugly tub of lard, you’re going to bring the whole house down otherwise” Grandpa Sedgwig said angrily turning around from his rain studies and flashing a pair of very impressive eye brows, they were like massive tidal waves coming out of the eye socket ridges which had reached braking point and then where frozen. Hanging like white icicles above his deep set eyes.

“Can you tell me a story Grandpa? I am so bored in here there is nothing to do, tell me a good one” Bertie said as he joined Grandpa by the French windows. “Alright but put another log on the fire and get me a ham sand wedge and a hot chocolate” Grandpa Sedgwig replied. “But you’re not allowed hot choc?” Bertie said “well tell your wicked nurse it’s for you then you blithering idiot” Grandpa Sedgwig replied with gusto.

Bertie did all of this without complaining, doing his best to make a really bad job of putting another log on the fire. ‘ oh you block headed oaf, its plain to see that that log is far too big, put that one on….no not that one, LOOK! Where am I pointing? Yes that one, No you’re making a dam mess” Grandpa said getting noticeably agitarto. When he had made a pig’s ear of the log business Bertie skipped to the kitchen and ordered a ham sand wedge and a hot choc from nurse. He took them back and placed them on a chair side table next to Grandpa. “Come on then Gramps tell me a story like you said you would” Bertie said standing up straight with hand behind his back. Grandpa Sedgwigs mouth opened in indignation at the little boy’s cheek but he didn’t follow though to actually say anything. Instead he took a gummy bite or maybe a gummy lip press of his hamwedge.

“Very well then, sit down and shut up and if I hear you say anything like ‘why’ or ‘but’ then I am going to stop immediately. Alright?” Grandpa Sedgwig said pointing a shaky finger at his grandson. “Of course Gramps I will be as quiet as a mouse, but make sure you make the story line clear, I wouldn’t want you to get all confused if I am not allowed to ask questions” Bertie said zipping his lips shut. “AND DON’T CALL ME GRAMPS!” Grandpa Sedgwig shouted testily. “Right, sorry won’t happen again I promise” Bertie replied holding up a oath swearing palm with the other on his podgy chest.

Grandpa began his tail, sitting back in his rocking chair and resuming his thousand yard stare out the rain drenched French windows. “Once upon a time there was a young boy very much like you; he was very clever and brave. We enter this story with him running away from an armored hooligan.

A long streak of a young man sailed other a low hedge, his short golden hair a flame in the sun light, his cloths those of a present but his face, kind, honest and strong was that of royalty. “Come back here you little ragamuffin, I am going to have your guts for garter” said a heavily armored guard trailing behind him. The guard tried to clear the low hedge but due to his metal protection he fell flat on his face doing a graceless summersault, head over heels and came crashing down half in and half out of the hedge. Our hero Macadamian continued to run over the field bounding like a swift gazelle in between the grazing cows, heading down the hill and over another fence and down into the valley and into the village of Cornwood. A small sleepy village snuggling between rolling hills and lush tall trees.

The sun was shining, the birds where twittering to one another, a fox was making off with a squawking chicken pursued by a gaggle of yodeling grannies, a cow was doing a pat and all was well. Macadamian ran down the cobbled stone street hallooing the butcher the baker, the milk maids and the school teacher. He burst into his Grandparents house, a small cozy thatched cottage; his Grandma was stirring a small pot of gruel in the fire place while his Grandpa was lying in bed in the corner. “Core blimy you nearly scared my socks off, you did, don’t be coming back in such a flappin flurry, youl give uz both an art attack” Grandma said all of a fluster. “I am sorry Grandma I didn’t mean to scare you” Macadamian said huffing and puffing “and you forgot your choires, you know the dust isn’t good for Grandpas frote, he coughs up a herd of dirt every time you forget to clean and you know I cannot do it myself all those years of looking after you and slavin in the fields have given me back and me hips terrible jip” The old crone kept up her sour complaining as our handsome hero Macadamian approached his beloved Grandfather.

“ Grandpa, I have what you need, it wasn’t easy, Baron Gronchkin won’t be happy when he finds out his Whiskey is missing, I got the oldest and most fancy bottle in his cabinet, look its over 200 years old” Macadamian whispered in his poor ill relatives ear. With a shaking hand Grandpa reached for the bottle concealed under Macadamians waist coat. “Thank you son, now I am almost well enough to get out of bed, then I can show you where the treasure is” Grandpa said as he took a glug of the whiskey.

Over the next couple of week our diligent rogue Macadamian, continued to find inventive tricks and clever ways to bring his poor frail Grandpa his medicine, even though everyone told him not to. Soon Grandpa became strong and new again, first being able to get out of bed on his own and then one day very much like today a rainy Sunday he was finally strong enough to show Macadamian the family treasure.

Macadamian and Grandpa walked out up and over the hills out of Cornwood, they wore thick oily leather rain coats and slogged hard and long over hill and through valley, all made possible by the medicine which Macadamian had brought poor Grandpa. Finally as the light was failing Grandpa led them through deep foliage in a copse. Brambles and thorns scratching and clinging to them both “we are almost there son, almost at your treasure”. Shortly they left the thick scratchiness and popped out in a little glade. A green shrubbery bang in the centre. Grandpa walked up to it and pulled hard for a while and eventually the shrubbery was plucked out and a wooden piece of wood was visible in the sodden earth. Macadamian knelt down and began to sift away the wet earth with his bare eager hands. A large wooden chest was reveled and when exposed and taken out Grandpa handed a heavy silver key to Macadamian “you deserved this boy, for all yur help, no good deed goes unrewarded”.

Macadamian took the key, mouth open in awe and toes twinkling with excitement he thrust the key into the chest and turned it with great effort, a internal click sounded and the chest burst open revealing Gold and silver”.

Little Bertie who had up until this point held a strained and ‘what happened next?’ look on his face, like a dog who is waiting for dinner then dropped his look in confused disappointment. “ Gold?, is that all?” he asked “ no that isn’t all, underneath the gold there was chocolate and sweets, toy trucks and puppies, the chest was magic and was in fact bottomless, it granted Machadamian anything he so wished to think of. Machadamian was so happy that he had helped his Grandpa, otherwise he would never have been able to get his secret families treasure and live happily ever after having adventure after adventure forevermore. The end”

Bertie gave a satisfied sigh as the story sunk in and he imagined what he would do with an infinite treasure chest. Grandpa Sedgwig would see the slow cogs, unfamiliar to movement turning inside his grandsons head, a millisecond before the question could be passed from the brain to the lungs up to the lips and out Grandpa Sedgwig held up a silencing finger “and remember where why, get you, first sign of one and you’re out of here” He said with menace.

“Please tell me more about Macadamian, what happened next?” the boy was wide eyed and attentive, hanging on the rounded edges of Grandpa Sedgwigs words. “ I would be more than happy to tell you more about our man Macadamian buy my throat is so parched, this hot chocolate just isn’t doing the trick” Grandpa said with a dry wheezing cough “ can I get you something else to drink Grandpa?” Bertie asked earnestly “yes you can my boy, I must ask you to be like our brave Macadamian and perform a secret adventurous task for me, and can you do that?” Grandpa Sedgwig said in a conspiratorial tone. Bertie hopped up like an electrified frog and adopted a crouching ready pose not unlike a highly attentive and spruced tiger. “do you need me to steal some whiskey from a barons mansion?” Bertie asked excitedly. “Well you’ve got it half right my boy, all I need you to do is……..

END OF PART 1

PART267 my cyclops son


28th, October 28, 2010. I was at a party in my home town in the UK; I knew that Sarah and I were going to have a baby. Sarah was not going to give birth to our baby, it was either going to be a close friend of mine or another woman who I barely knew. They were both pregnant. I was at a party everyone was congratulating me on the expected arrival of our baby. I was also excited but dark thoughts about being shackled to the plow, unable to do anything because of a responsibility demanding baby was coming. The party turned into a dark confusing spectacle of spinning lights and shadowy hall ways which I hid down. Finally I found out it was my close friend who had given birth to our baby, it was handed to me and it was a Cyclops, a large ugly hairy baby in my arms wrapped in a white blood stained towel, some freaky Narnia creation. Everyone was clapping and I said it was a beautiful baby. The baby turned into a large naked man who had an eastern European accent, he was stood talking with another of my close friends Joe, and we had now been transported to yet another friend’s house. “ look Dad is this there my other eye is meant to go?” my son asked as his central eye slid to the left and a dark rotten festering hole appeared where the other eye should go. He is awfully big for a new born baby and he can speak as well, I thought, three quarters scared, one quarter proud. “Look I can stick my tongue in it” he laughed while he reemed and licked his cavernous eye socket from inside out of his own skull with his gray thick serpentine tongue.

Things got serious and Joe said “I am going to take your son indoors to have a chat” they went indoors and I followed shortly afterwards. “Would you like a burger?” Joe asked, I said yes and moved over to the dinner table where there where two sloppy bloody burgers in take away yellow plastic cartons. “Which one should I eat? I don’t want to eat my son” I asked even though I could tell that one of them was my son………Then I woke up.

 

 

I haven’t written any blogs for a while because I have felt there is nothing of interesting going on in my life. I have been training and keeping a reasonably stable routine and apart from that monstrosity of a nightmare I was subjected to nothing freaky has happened. The weather is now officially fucking cold “Shanxi does not have autumn or spring, it just goes from summer(as hot as 40 degrees) almost straight to winter(willying lows of -25)” and she is right. I am now sitting here at the laptop, wearing a woolly jumper and thick coat watching my visible freezing breath come out of me at regular intervals.

Oh there is one mildly interesting thing, Sarah and I tried to make a pizza using a frying pan only, homemade acidic tomato sauce, processed square sliced of plastic like cheese and an oily pancake as the base. Not helped in the cooking when Mum and Dad where having an argument and a thick rich creamery atmosphere of angry tension congealed in the tiny kitchen as Mum hovered around the cooker nervously trying to help and do everything, acting like a territorial bat in a small cave. No wonder I had such a fruity dream.

RED BRICKS a short story


29th, october, 2010. RED BRICKS

Carson town was a big place, Large buildings some 20 stories high, There where supermarkets, Cinemas, shops. All the things you would expect in a large town. Although there was a variety of buildings they where all the same colour, built with the same material. Red bricks. It had the strange effect of making the whole town look very similar all over. Like the architect had molded the whole town with only a few varieties of plasterseen. The weather was similar in the fact that it was almost always gray and foggy, not so much on street level but higher up just above the highest buildings so that the sky was a perpetual glaring gray.

“Of course there is something going on, you just need to open your eyes and look around you. This place is positively oozing secrets and conspiracy” Windows said to his friends with gusto. Windows was the only one at the restaurant who was not over weight and the only one standing up. His friends consisted of 5 chubby men who slouched in their chairs around the table. “Come on Windows, give it a rest just sit down and eat something you’re looking a bit skinny” one of his friends laughed. Windows picked up the menu and shock it above his head “tell me this, why have we never had a change in the menu, it’s always the same. Nothing fresh, all this stuff you can buy at the super market and even there they never have new or fresh things in stock, it’s always tinned stuff or fake meat” Windows said. “That is a good point” said another of his friends as he heaved himself up right looking disapprovingly at the plate in front of him. “It’s either fake stake with gravy and these soggy beans or fake chicken in curry with hard broccoli” He said. “Exactly, so why isn’t there any fresh food? We only live a short distance from the countryside and as far as I know there are farms out there” Windows posed the idea. Windows looked down as his friends no longer willing to listen they had begun to eat from their plates. The restaurant was full of people all shoveling in their food. Windows grimaced involuntarily as he suddenly compared them to ravenous pigs munching from dirty troughs, then he thought with a sinking heart that he had never seen a real pig in his life only on nature programs on the TV. He gave up and sat down and began to eat his dish of rice soup with sour pickled vegetables.

After the meal windows and his friends slowly walked out of the restaurant into the wide quiet streets. The livid red of the buildings and the glaring sky was unnatural and stark. Windows almost started talking about how the wind always starts to blow a few seconds after you come out of a building but he didn’t. He knew he annoyed his friends with his idea but there were just so lazy and boring, if it wasn’t for their monotonous cynicism which was as close to animated as they came they might as well just have been like the pigs he had never seen. Everyone in this town just eats works and sleeps and watches TV. It would not bother him so much if they were happy but from years of watching as his family and friends quickly grew from chubby to obese, while losing interesting in everything and merely going through the motions of eating and working he wondered if there was a town wide brake down in the interest and preservation of life. Windows knew this wasn’t true. There was something more tangible behind all this. Behind the lethargy, behind the subtle but cripplingly unhealthy food. How transport, once so cheap, safe and fast with the booming discovery of effective solar fuel back in the 22nd century had gone from everyone having their own private mini trains to them slowly braking down, the tracks being sealed and removed due to health and safety reasons, it was crazy! Windows thought as he watched his fat friends plod along the pavement, the old mini trains where safer than walking. More people are injured from tripping over on the street now than back in the day when mini trains where around. Windows thoughts reached a pinnacle and then subsided as he remembered that he had followed this train of thought countless times before and it had led nowhere.

PART 2

Windows went home early after work and rested until midnight. It was pitch black outside and there were no street lambs like before, “why would there be? no one goes out at night” Windows muttered to himself as he let his eyes slowly get used to the darkness outside his flat. It was after midnight now and the air was still and the silence palpable. After a minute he could discern the surface of the road and the pavement so Windows walked quickly close to the street walls down the road. He vaguely remembered from before that if he headed this direction along 48 down he would keep going in one directing as there were no bends or twists, he lived in the number part of town, only the bendy roads had real names. He didn’t even know which direction it was, north, and south? Who knew? Even though Windows was reasonably thin he still felt tired after a few minutes of walking. A heavy weight made him drag his feet and trudge along. After 20 minutes of walking in the same direction he was drenched in sweat and dizzy from excursion. “Your pathetic” He told himself as he bent double, hands on knees heaving air into his burning lungs in the thick black darkness.

A burst of bright light flared up and a whaling sound suddenly filled the air. A confusion of sound and light made Windows reel back with his back to the building behind him, the course feeling of brick gripped his hands steadying himself, blinking and squinting as he protected his gaze from the dazzling light with his other arm. “Are you alright Sir? What are you doing out so late?” Came a young inquisitive voice. God it was a policeman, Windows realized with surprise. He had not see one for years, had he ever really seen one? And as his eyes became re accustomed to the light he saw there was a hovering platform with seats on it in the middle of the road. ‘It must be a variation of the mini train’ he thought to himself. “Come along Sir where do you live? We can take you back”. The Police man dressed in blue with a large hat like a military helmet helped Windows up onto the hovering platform and to a seat; the whole thing sagged slightly and then regained its levitation as they both sat down.

“48 down 21 across” said Windows wirily. “Right oh Sir we will have you back in no time” Said the policeman cheerfully as he punched the address into the screen on his chair. The platform made a whirring sound and smoothly glided back up the street. A few minutes later when they arrived back at Windows flat building the policeman gave a flicking motion with his podgy hand to signal Windows to get off. “We will be keeping an eye on you Sir, we wouldn’t want you to get lost again now wound we?, No more going out at night alright?” Said the policeman with a large smile and then he glided down the long street again, a bright light illuminating the darkness bringing to view the red brick buildings on either side of him looming into view from the platforms front light. The buildings like angry tall giants watching a fire fly travel below their feet.

A mixture of confusion and annoyance welled inside Windows fatigued mind as the night became pitch black again. He had always been taught that policemen where ruthless and never to argue or confront them, they had ultimate power to do what they pleased to keep the law. Even though no one he knew had seen one for the last 20 years they were still feared and respected, Windows had just assumed they had taken a less active role in society since crime had completely disappeared, this was why he was confused and he was annoyed because his nights effort had been for nothing, walked all that way only to be taken straight back home again. It was too late now and he was far too tired to start out again, if only he could get hold of one of those moving platforms he thought as he heaved himself up to the front door

PART 3

The next morning at 8:30 Windows woke up stiff and aching from last night’s physical excursion. Jenny his girl friend was just letting herself in and he heard her put down the food bag and heard the effort of taking off her shoes. “Aren’t you up yet you lazy thing?” she said as she entered his room, hands on hips in mock disapproval. “I suppose I am not, any chance of breakfast in bed?” Windows asked, “absolutely not, get up lazy bones and come and sit at the table, I have your favorite” she said snappily. Windows favorite turned out to be his least favorite. A packaged combination of fruit, milk and cereal which gave him terrible flatulence and a stomach ache. “This stuff is the worst, who makes it? They should be shot” Windows said grimacing as he squeezed the plastic container with disgust. “Well it’s either this or another plate of fake meat and soggy veggies” Jenny said optimistically. Jenny was also chubby but not obese like most of the people in Carson town. She was the envy of many of Windows friends, whose wife’s or girl friends where generally immobile lumps much fatter than the male population.

Windows and Jenny sat down in the small kitchen, bright cartoon colours on plastic chairs, tables and eating utensils. Jenny had been seeing Windows for 4 years now, they had met at the supermarket and Jenny had overheard his complaining about how everything was made by Xselsior “ and look what’s in the ingrediance?, maze, corn syrup and a truck load of E numbers, Castuxelco…do you know what that is?, I didn’t either but I found out and it’s a byproduct of maze, if you look at any of the ingrediances in any of these products chances are they have at least 40% maze if not more” Windows watched in surprise as a beautify woman with long blond hair was actually listening to him. When the few token listeners had dispersed she came up to him and struck up a conversation. It turned out they were made for each other, thinking exactly the same thoughts about food and health. Jenny was fascinated by Windows conspiracy theories “they are trying to keep us weak and unhealthy, that way we cannot make a fuss, we are given the illusion of choice to keep our minds thinking we are still free but in fact we are like chained lame dogs, free to eat and drink from our one bowl and to rum as far as our masters make our leashes long, which isn’t long at all. Over time the leash is slowly retracted but it’s done so expertly that we hardly even notice unless you actually open your eyes and use them for what they were made for”. Windows felt as if he had found a true friend, someone to understand him and someone he was interested in understanding as well.

Windows told Jenny about what happened last night and she gasped and almost jumped out of her seat at every twist and turn. She was more positive and open than Windows and she inspired him to elaborate the tail a bit. “We should go out again tonight, we can go together, neither of us has to work all week” Jenny said. “I was thinking about leaving it for a while until the police stop watching me” Windows said “but don’t you see, we need the polices hover thing, we can use it to travel as we please, we have to get out and see what’s going on in the countryside” Jenny said gripping his hand tightly “ are you mad?, steal the hover thing from the police?, we wouldn’t make it two feet” Windows replied, surprised with Jenny’s suggestion “ Come on we have to, we have been talking too long we need to do something, we need to take a look, if what you say is true and all the farms are under the control of Xselcior then we have to do something about it. Those corporate devils are controlling us through our diet it has to be stopped”. Now she was standing up looming over him like a giant golden angel “ ok let’s do it tonight then” Windows said with a grin.

PART 4

Just after mid night Windows and Jenny exited the block of flats and stepped down onto the pavement “I cannot see a thing” Jenny exclaimed “your eyes will adjust in a minute” Windows replied. When they had adjusted to the darkness they took the same route down 48. Although still aching from last night Windows was more energized and excited. He wondered what would happen if they met the police again but he was more interested to see what Jenny would do, she was one of the few people in Carson town who didn’t have the awe like fearful respect for the police like everyone else. They walked along the pavement holding hands keeping one hand slightly stretched out in case they should bump into anything. “Where did the police man pick you up last time?” Jenny whispered “we have pasted that point, I recon he won’t be around tonight” Windows replied.

Soon they saw how the scenery changed subtlety, there night eyes caught out supermarkets and shops with painted doors and windows, and they had walked into a deserted part of town. “ why don’t people live here?, it’s just as good as any other part of town” Jenny whispered again “I don’t know but it gives me the creeps, it’s so dead down here, no one live here but accept for the painted windows its exactly the same as any other part of town, it makes you realize that we live in a massive stagnant grave yard” Windows whispered back, “ Yes its funny what we are capable of getting used to if its introduced to us professionally, Windows look we have come to a dead end, what is that?, is it a road block?”.

In the darkness a tall wall of blackness blocked their path at the end of the next block of flats. On closer inspection the high wall ran diagonally across down both streets. “Look it completely cuts us off from the countryside, I wouldn’t be surprised if it didn’t circle the whole of the town, Jesus how high is it?, I cannot even see the top of it, We have to come back in the day time and bring some others” Windows said to Jenny, craning his neck to try and see where the vast walls top was. “ do you think anyone will come?, We are exhausted how do you think they will fair?” Jenny asked, now forgetting her whispering. “We need the police hover platform to bring more people” Windows said matter of factly.

At that very moment as if hearing what Windows said he saw a speck of light appear in the distance running alone the road, the sound of a whaling siren became louder and louder as the light became brighter, like a torch swiftly closing in on its pray, it made the wall visible to them both still unable to see how tall it was they were not surprise to see it was built with the same red brick as everything else.

“I have an idea, you go and hide up 48, trust me” Jenny said “what are you talking about? What plan?” Windows snapped “there is no time to explain, go on they know where you live now, just trust me go!” she replied hastily without looking at him. Windows ran off the road and went a little way up 48, moving round a door way so he was partially obscured, he didn’t like leaving Jenny on her own but he knew she could look after herself. He watched as the hovering platform came to a smooth halt beside Jenny, he couldn’t hear what they were saying but he saw that it was the same man that had taken him back home before. Jenny got on the platform and they carried on along the road by the wall. Windows wished he hadn’t left her on her own, he should have run out after them, should he wait there? What should he do now? He decided to wait there at least for a while; he was so tired from all the walking that he didn’t know if he could even do anymore walking even if he wanted to. The night was dark again after the bright light of the platform. A long time of suppressed panic and restlessness passed and then with a heart jolting realization he say a light coming back from the direction where Jenny had disappeared.

He rushed back to the door way and watched heart thumping in his throat. The light brightened and the hover platform burst into view and stopped suddenly. Windows looked on with wide eyes and noticed that there was only one figure on the platform and it was Jenny.

“Jenny?”, “Quickly get on now” Jenny hissed at him. “How on earth? What happened?” Windows blabbered as he jogged towards Jenny “ I will tell you on the way, hurry up you fatty”. When Windows had heaved himself on to the platform and seated himself next to Jenny they began moving again. He watched as her long blond hair shot out behind her face like wriggling snakes, he pondered as he saw her sitting in the seat where the policemen was before. “Your incredibly beautiful you know” Windows said dreamily “Yes I am rather aren’t I?” she said beaming an excited smile as she gripped the control panel. A moment passed like a life time as he watched her hair fluttering in the wind a powerful woman in control.

“So what happened? Where on earth is the policeman?” Windows finally asked “I pushed him off” Jenny said stifling a giggle “what? You pushed him off, Jesus, this thing must have a tracking thingy they will be on us any second” Windows said gripping the side of the seat with white knuckles. “No they don’t actually, I asked the nice young man and he said there was no such thing, strange thing was he was wearing a fat suit”

“what is a fat suit?” Windows asked very confused “ it’s like body padding, when I shoved him off I saw he half slid out of it, I was so surprised I thought he was coming out of his body, but it was just like some padded suit, I suppose to make him look as fat as the rest of us. He wasn’t, I have never seen someone so thin apart from those old films. God I forgot about them, we haven’t watched them for ages” Jenny said “just another of the links to our past which has been eradicated” Windows said grimly. “Now what the hell are we going to do with this platform now that we have got it?” He asked shrilly. “ We go back to my place and we can store this Hovron, the Policeman told me what its name was, in the lobby of my flat, the policeman also told me it can be turned up on its side so you can store it in a small space” she said haughtily. “Well the policeman certainly told you a lot didn’t he?” Windows said as Jenny turned the wheel and they careered up 42 street the wall speedily disappearing into the distance behind them. “ he was very helpful, totally different from everything I was led to believe about policemen, I think he fancied me, that’s why he was so friendly” she said “well he was very friendly with me as well so maybe not” Windows said a little tartly.

They arrived at Jenny’s block of flats on 42 up 69 across and they worked out how to switch the anti gravity from the base to the edges and slid the Hovron into the hall way of Jenny’s block of flats. Tired excited and scared they hurried up stares and lay in bed trying to rest, wide awake all night long waiting for the sun to rise. As it did sleep finally took them and they had fitful dreams all through till the early afternoon.

PART 5.

The remembrance of last night’s exertion gave Windows an uncomfortable stomach turn as soon as he woke up. It was 2:20 in the afternoon. Jenny was still sleeping next to him, her golden hair cascading down the pillow, her mouth slightly open as she breathed noiselessly. The potential ramifications of what had occurred attacked Windows unprepared freshly awoken brain. He sat there puffy eyed, his fears laying siege to his head. He went to the loo and looked at himself in the mirror. Did it actually happen? Was there really a hover platform stowed away down stairs?

Stolen by Jenny who had pushed a policeman off it? He slipped fluidly from achieved delusions that it wasn’t so to the reality that it was so.

Jenny was at the bathroom door. Pink pajamas and messy hair “just let me have a shower and we can get going” she said whispering half asleep as if they were just getting up for any other day. “So what exactly are we going to do?” Windows asked. Jenny took off her clothes and stepped into the shower, the jets of water starting off slowly, then revving up to jets recycling again and again using the water which fell to the shower floor and then through see through pipes up again and then out from the jets again. Jenny had her shower set on 7 cycles and then replace, which was much more expensive compared to Windows who used the same unit of water for a whole shower. He remembered hearing from some of his friends how they hadn’t changed their unit for weeks. “ We are going to go down to the restaurant 17 where all your friends are and we are going to take as many as possible down to the wall so they can see for them self’s” Jenny said with conscious loudness as the jetting water woke her up.

They reactivated the hover platform and pushed it out on to the street, as they pushed and found through trial and error how to push it down and re open the seats passersby looked on wide eyed as this totally alien object levitated on the road “you see they are actually alive, they just need a bit of stimulation” Windows laughed as he found the pull switch to open one of the chairs. When it was all assembled and the hovron was hovering on the street Windows and Jenny stepped on and Jenny took her seat at the control panel “don’t you remember this is what the road was built for?” she said with a nonchalant shout as they buzzed off down 48 again.

People stopped dead in the street, their chubby faces drooping in surprised as they say the hovron purr past. Then they came to a smooth stop outside Gary’s restaurant 17 the inhabitance looked up from their plates and out of the wide window, Windows friends recognized him and getting up quicker than Windows had ever see them move before they walked out onto the street.

“What in God’s name is that!” asked one “and where did you get it?” asked another at the same time “There is no time to explain, we have 4 more spaces so who ever gets on first gets a seat the rest can stand, we are going to show you something which will finally show how right I have been all these years” Windows said dramatically with one finger pointing into the air. A moment passed as this information was processes and the dozen or so people who had congregated around the hovron stood blank of expression, then in a flash all at once they stampeded toward the platform and pushed one another out of the way to get a seat. Windows and Jenny ripped their seats as the hovron rocked and strained to adjust its anti gravity to the extra weight. They discovered that including the 6 people sitting down they could also get an extra 4 people on, only a few stragglers where left disappointed by the side of the road but due to the overcrowding Jenny had to drive so slowly that the stragglers began following and arguing with the passengers “ you get to ride for ten minutes and then we have a go”, “what about the ones sitting down?, they should get less time”, “ but we got here first, Windows said so, isn’t that right Windows?”.

As they moved slowly down 48 the pedestrians watched the blob of human activity go past and some latched on following. The blob turned into a mob and soon it was moving slower but like a steady train. The people huffing and wheezing, sweating and complaining but never stopping. They passed the disused part of town and came to the wall, now in plain view under the gray glare of the smoggy sky they saw that the red brick building was still taller than they could see, It shot up into the clouds with no sign of stopping. The mass of people now well into the hundreds began to slow and low murmurs and whispers began to replace the complaints. “Does anybody know what this is?” Windows shouted as he stood up from his seat. No one replied and the confused mutterings increased, scared and questioning. They stopped by the wall and the mob spread its self along the wall inspecting it, touching it and asking questions.

As the day lengthened Jenny hovered back and forth all around the town transporting people to the wall, Windows stayed at the wall trying to get people to move along to explore. Not an easy task with a group of obese humans who have been asleep to intrigue for the whole of their lives but still there was something rolling. Something awakening which moved it’s self and although they moved slowly they inspected the wall like a new found enemy tied to a stake. “There has to be a door or something somewhere”, “we haven’t found anything down that end what about you?”

The crown grew until the end of the day, the light noticeably diming. “The whole town must be out” Windows said as Jenny who had pulled up beside him “I don’t think me or anyone here has ever done so much exercise ever. I didn’t think it was going to be so easy to get everyone involved but people just came of their own accord. The police are laying low, I was expecting a quick back lash after last night, and it’s a bit uncanny maybe they are planning something” Jenny replied looking down from her perch.

Windows gave a dismissive grumble, that image had come back again. These large ungainly humans, pushing up against the wall, almost sniffing it, searching around like a single conscious entity spreading out feeling, searching ‘like pigs’ Windows thought to himself. As the light faded the police came, the distant sound of sirens sounded and coming from the left side of the wall streaming up in single file a whole army of hover platforms sped towards the mob. Immediately like an electric shock had jolted them the people of Carson town shouted and became alive bunching together forming a tight defensive group, oozing around the blocks of flats and slipping along the wall.

Windows stepped up on the platform and Jenny sped towards the police. “we out number them completely, we have the power, it’s time to sort this out once and for all” Jenny said fiercely. “Everyone please return to your homes, for your own safety. This is an illegal gathering” a tall older man said through a loud speaker “Why is there a wall here?” a cry sounded from the crowd, a supportive murmur went up and an erratic swaying began to grin the crowd, they moved forwards the hairs on the back of Windows neck stood up and a cold shiver passed through his whole body, feeling alive and taught. The sound of people shouting in pain, ones who had fallen and where being trampled by the mass were like insignificant back ground noises.

“I repeat, return to your homes this is your last warning” The policeman’s voice said, Windows noticed a change in his tone, a significant quivering. A burst of activity broke out in the crowd as they picked up on the fear and they stampeded forwards almost running. Jenny had pulled the hover platform up a street to let the people have free passage along the wall. Windows watched in excited horror as the mob moved forwards almost silent, the faces of his friends changed completely, their once bored eyes now held a mindless drive “ I have never seen so many people at one time before” Jenny said.

They moved towards the army of hover platforms their heads jutting out leading their unwilling bodies, their heavy stomachs wobbling and rippling with ever angry purposeful step they took and then it happened someone just behind the front line threw a bottle towards the police, one of the hover crafts reversed wildly crashing into the one behind, spilling the 5 or more police onto the ground. Immediately the pace changed and the crowd ran forwards yelling and launching other projectiles, more bottles even shoes and red bricks sailed over the front line crashing and hitting the police. Abandoning the two wrecked hover platforms the police on foot jumped on to the other platforms, they turned around lazily and sped off in the opposite direction. The mob ran after the retreating police. “where do they get their energy from?, I have never seen them move like that before” Windows asked Jenny” I don’t know but they are all loosing it pretty quick” Jenny replied equally mesmerized. The crowd at the front had tired and now they were shouting angrily at the people behind them to stop running.

“Look the police have turned off into the wall there must be a gate” a voice cried out. “ Quick take this road up and then carry along and get in front of the people we are faster” Windows whispered to Jenny. Without a word she turned the platform around and sped up the street away from the crowd then turned left along. “It’s getting dark, I wonder if this is some sort of a trap to tire us all out” Jenny said grimly. The light indeed was fading fast, the buildings casting shadows darkening entire streets. The over head glare softened into an almost black murky cloud. They came ahead of the crowd and saw that whoever had called out was right “ there is a gate way up ahead” Jenny screamed out to the crowd behind them. A slither of the wall was black; the gate must have been left ajar in the policemen’s hasty retreat.

“ look you can see the outline of the gate” Windows pointed out excitedly. Indeed the gate which was disguised as part of the red brick wall was visibly cracked open. Windows managed to open it fully using his whole might to push it wide, he saw through the gate into the countryside. A moment later the crowd of people where pushing him forwards through the door, he stumbled and almost tripped, darting to the left to get out of the way of the stampede. The sky was gray, the distance was misty and the ground beneath his feet was dry and arid, brown cracked earth spanned his horizon, not a single pig or cow in site, where were the apple trees? The orchards, the live stock?, where was the life?. The only thing he saw which broke the stark dead earth was a huge lengthy brick building. A massive “Xselsior” poster pasted in blue and yellow spanned the long building. “That must be where the food factory is” Windows shouted to the people of Carson town. The people had become confused, their mad rush over they now stood looking at their country side. The mist in the distance like another wall, the ground below their feet as life less as the concrete streets they had been walking on the whole of their lives. Soon the whole town was through the door and heated conversations where taking place.

PART 6

High above the dense clouds the inhabitance of control and observation had just moved from observation room 3A to their new post in 3B. 3B had just recently been completed for use; the earth now energized and with nutrients would be able to support vegetation when the people of Carson eventually began to grow their own food. “Congratulations to you all, everything went off without a hitch, you should all be very pleased and proud of your self’s. Not many people who work here are able to view or be part of a cube migration on such a big scale, well done”. The CEO of human affairs always paid a visit to the movers and shakers when a operation of this size was going on.

The 12 young men and women, trim and thin wearing white lab coats where standing by their consoles accepting their praise. Frank Johnson the head of control 3A shook the CEOS hand violently “ thank you for coming to 3A, it’s an absolute honor to meet you, I have heard so much about you, your contributions to the rubrics cube, you’re a legend”, The CEO brushed this complement aside and walked towards the long wide window tilting down in the cube 3B, the hovering blanket of mist visible below the army of UV lights which were attached to a web like network of metal scaffolding

“it’s just like a giant stage isn’t it Sir?” a bright eyed young observationist said nervously to the CEO “it is indeed, it is indeed” He looked down at the control board, the hundreds of buttons dials, switches and lights made him laugh “ things have certainly moved on from my day, 50 years ago we had barley invented weather control, the only thing we could do was raise and lower the temperature and send some single directional winds, what does this control panel do?” The CEO asked pointing with a liver spot speckled hand at a TV screen surrounded by controls. The nervous observationalist looked excited “ oh this is a new feature exclusive to cube 3B, it controls the mists around the perimeter, now that Windows and the people of Carson have got a taste for conspiracy and a better life it’s going to be much harder to control their movements, with this we can  make the mists drop to minus 30 degrees, it also features wind, snow and hale. Its one of our own inventions”. The CEO looked very impressed “amazing, that’s exactly the sort of innovative thinking and practical application which we need around here, so your aim is to when anyone begins to explore you will just make it impossible for them to carry on in the direction of one of the cube walls?” The CEO asked. “Yes sir and we also have rotating platforms, they are segments of the cubes base which we can rotate slowly, it’s so if and when anyone who is strong willed keeps searching even in spite of the weather they will be slowly turned around and find them self’s heading back to the centre of 3B”.

The CEO,S bushy eye brows almost jumps off his delighted face. “Incredible absolutely incredible” he said wistfully. “Thank you sir, that one was my own personal idea; I hope it will prove to be successful”. The bright eyed youth replied his face had gone bright red with embarrassment “and I am sure it will my boy, these simple yet genius ideas are what have kept our whole operations going, you know it was my idea to increase the gravity so that the people would be more tired and less inclined to explore?” respectful murmurs and noddings of heads where exchanged by the rest of the observers.

Another nervous lab coated observer, a short slim girl with large watery eyes piped up with a question “ excuse me sir, I was wondering if you could tell us about any of the other Cubes, we have been so busy preparing for the transfer of the Carson people from 3A to 3B that we have not heard anything about the other operations…of course if it’s not top secret or anything” flashing a broad quivering smile the young girls face dropped fearfully and she half hid behind one of her colleagues. “ you certainly may ask, currently 8 of the 27 cubes are in use at the moment, not including your operations which are in transit, there is only one which is causing a little problem, it would appear that one of the Heads, I won’t disclose any more information about the individual, has let the inhabitants of his cube to become very restless and has through negligence allowed them to become almost fully aware of their situation, needless to say we have had to take quite significant measures to rectify the situation” The CEO looked sad and bowed his head with a sigh, the other observers followed suit.

The bright eyed boy piped up again “ if it’s not too rude to ask, which method of weakening are you using?, is it disease?, because we have also come up with some very interesting ideas if you would be willing to have a look at our files” He said quickly blurting it out and fumbled around under the control panel and snatched out a thick brown file. He stood gripping it in both hands gazing with waiting eyes. “ I am afraid I cannot discuss such matter but I would be very interested in taking a look at your files, this team is showing great promise Mr. Johnson, you must be very pleased with them?” The CEO said turning to the head of observations Frank Johnson.

“Yes sir very pleased” he said giving a military like snap of the heals as he brought himself to attention. “Good good and are there anymore questions?” The CEO asked with open arms. A tall man stepped out of the lab coated people, his shoulders broad and sloping his arms hanging loosely by his sides like a gorilla, his dark shaved head and thick eye brows gave him a powerful menacing look “yeah I have a question, where are we and where are we going?” he said with forced articulated words. The rest of the observers looked uncomfortable and looked to their head for support “ Ah yes, where are we going, this is a good question but one I am afraid I will have to disappoint you with, we just don’t know just now, we have been traveling through space for over 150 years now and even though our ship has become bigger and in its own right a world in its self we still have no clue when we will come across a habitable planet, due to solar materialization we have begun to recreate so many of the things which we need to have a fulfilled life” To demonstrate the CEO pulled out three chocolate bars from his own lab coat pocket. The observers laughed loudly, the man with the eye brows didn’t “so Ulysses was all just a trick to keep us hoping then?” he asked moving towards the CEO slowly “no not at all, Ulysses was a genuine hope for a settlement but our monitors could not pick up the presence of a new gas which was deadly, it slowly corrodes the whole nervous system and many of our exploring astronaghts died down there, is that the sort of planet you want to live on?” The CEO asked his friendly smile vanishing in place of cutting words and a cold stare. The man with the eye brows stopped moving forwards crossed his arms and smiled “ no of course not, I was wondering if and when we do eventually find a planet to set down on how will you deal with the thousands of people in this rubric cube who have spent the whole of their lives in boxes?, if you say we have 7 different cubes in use at the moment I can only assume each cube is using very different ways to contain their inhabitance so wont it just be like dumping people from 7 different planets on one world?, Maybe there is a better way”. The CEO answered immediately “in the ships creed and laws it clearly states the procedure which we will initiate when we find our new earth, I am surprised that you don’t know about it, its basic knowledge for anyone working here, it’s our way of life, it’s the way we are preserving the human race don’t you feel pride in your work?, doesn’t it motivate the very moral fiber in you being?”.

The head of operations felt this was a good time to step in “ now everyone, our guest is a busy man and we still have a lot of work to do everyone give a round of applause” he said loudly and enthusiastically, the observers clapped and smiled as the CEO was shown back into the lift by the head. The tall observer who was not clapping followed them to the lift and held the door from shutting with his huge meaty hands “Cliff what do you think you’re doing?” The head said authoritatively. Without looking at his boss Cliff said in a low voice “I just want to ask one question to our guest, why don’t we enlighten everyone to our situation and then they would become useful instead of keeping them like fat lethargic pigs?, it takes more effort to keep them in this state than it would to tell them the truth, we could open up the other cubes and create a whole new life” His eyes were genuinely questioning and his aggression had evaporated. “It’s a nice idea but your wrong, its far easier to control them like this when they are fat and lazy, it they became aware of the situation we would have a revolution on our hands, too many chiefs not enough Indians if you know what I mean, Goodbye Cliff, keep up the good work” The CEO prized Cliffs hand off the lift door and it shut.

PART 7

“I am very sorry about Cliff sir, he is in charge of the agricultural side of the operations, he also trains the undercover observers, he got the policemen ready and taught them how to lure the Carson people into cube 3B, he is really hard working and in some ways a very clever young man, I think he found a bit of a moral dilemma as he was right down in the cube a lot of the time getting the organic earth ready, it’s hard to distance yourself if your actually down there on the ground I think” The head said to the CEO as they both stood in the whirring lift. “Robert, you saw those people today, the Carson people as you call them. When they thought someone was taking them for a ride, they came together and where ready to kill those policemen, We have invested so much time and effort in fully immersing them in a realistic environment, creating intrigue to bump them out of there lethargy, That’s what your whole team is about your at the forefront of advanced farming but I will remind you again of what these people are capable of, they change at the flick of a switch. Watch Cliff carefully we cannot afford to lose another Cube like we did with Joanna Lance, in truth we only have 3 other cubes working now including yours and they are going badly, managing humans on such a large scale is a risky and unpredictable job and I wasn’t just being cute in there, our very existence is on the line here and you cannot let one employee with ideas of conventional freedom fuck it all up for us” The CEO,s voice was strained and he massaged the bridge of his nose. “I completely understand sir you can rely on me” The head said laying a hand on the CEO, s shoulder. The lift stopped and the metal clanking of gears echoed, then the whole thing began moving right into the centre of the giant space ship, traveling into the heart of the ship. A giant rubrics cube hurtling through space, cubes connected to cubes make up the vast red square craft, each segment a potential cage to house life, able to move around the centre of the ship to connect and disconnect with other cubes. Inside the gigantic cube 3B now the newly explored territories of the people of Carson town, Windows held Jenny’s hand and watched as everyone explored the deserted ware house. “They must have all fled when we came along” Jenny said “look these are seeds, bags of seeds, so they have or have planned to plant real crops, look this is rice and those down there are wheat, Ha!, and of course we have lots and lots of maze” Windows said inspecting a stack of canvas bags near the entrance of the ware houses main door.

The majority of the Carson towns folk where rifling through the half packaged boxes and pulling out sealed parcels of food, ripping them open they gorged themselves, not having eaten since breakfast time. Windows remember his friends disinterested conversations in the restaurants, their menacing stampede earlier and now this again “ they are just like pigs” he finally whispered over Jenny’s shoulder “ I thought they were more like sheep” Jenny replied instantaneously as if she had been thinking the same thing all day. “ we have to marshal all this, otherwise we will eat all the food and have nothing left, we need to be organized” Windows said putting his hands on his hips, surveying the towns folks leaning over open crates shoveling the food into their mouths, their thoughts about police pushed aside for the moment.

“Start light rainfall, give it some thunder as well. Time 6 hours, it will give them enough time to make a vague plan, seal off cube 3A make it look like a wall collapse, start bringing gravity back to normal level, Cliff and George I want you two on perimeter duty, we are on constant amber alert from this moment on” The bright eyed observer commanded from their viewing booth.

“Close the doors everyone, it’s starting to rain we can wait it out in here and talk about our plan” Windows shouted. He felt an exciting surge of energy as if a great weight had been lifted.

PART265 DREAMS OF THE DEEP a short story


DREAMS OF THE DEEP

Saturday, October 23, 2010 Rex watched as the rocket shot up into the sky. The roar of the jets, the bright light, the ground shuddering, it was as exhilarating as the first time he saw it almost 20 years ago. “Of course back then they took off much less frequently and they weren’t half as safe or fast as they are now” He told Green. “ back then there were maybe a few launchings a year, now it’s like they go up every month” Rex said hands on hips sighing happily as if he was a proud father watching his son go to school for the first time. “Yeah well its one every 2 months they go up and they aren’t all deep space ships” Green mumbled as he lit a cigarette. “One day its gunna be me up there, exploring the universe, oh yes sire bob, You know I have been talking to Francis from control a lot recently and he said they are planning to expand the missions going up to once a week in 5 years, Imagine that Green, one launch a week” Rex was now hopping around in excitement hands ready to grasp his dreams when they materialized. “ you know that’s utter hoarse shit Rex, remember what they said back in 69 that they would have colonized the moon and have trains of ships going to Mars, what happened?, its barely happening now is it. Their just a bunch of teasing Bernard’s aren’t they?”, “ what the hell is a teasing Bernard Green?, I am afraid you’re the one who is plopping horse manure out of the face right now, for one they have colonized the moon and second the only reason they didn’t have the trains going to mars is because it was found to be a redundant planet, why would they bother, their going further afield these days, that’s what I am really interested in, deep space travel”. Green decided to stay quiet, this little conversation had been replied more times than he could care to remember and he felt like focusing on his ciggy, at least it did him some good as opposed to this regurgitated prattle he subjected himself to a couple of times a week. “vit C citrus flavor” Greens cigarette said, the paper fashioned like the texture and colour of an orange.

Both back to work Rex and Green drove around in their buggy doing their jobs as security guards “you men are an imperative part of this whole mission, feel the gravity of this place, the impact it has on the very future of the human race” the words from Marshal Cranston echoed in Rexes ears as he accelerated around the corner of a white warehouse building. “I wish you wouldn’t do that it makes me feel sick” Green moaned clutching the carts railing with one hand and his churning stomach with the other. “It’s an imperative part of the mission Mr Green and besides I need to keep conditioned to the G,s if I am ever going to have a chance of leaving this rock”. Green stifled the chance to be really mean and tell Rex that he never and will never have a change of leaving earth. Even though Rex was wildly dreamy and unrealistic he still enjoyed his company, plus he always drove more dangerously when he was unhappy. The last time Rex encountered a setback in his dream to become a deep space explorer they had both had a crash when Rex had tried to buck the buggy up on to two wheels by hitting the curb of one of the control stations. It turned out that both Rex and Green flew out of their seats hit their heads on the roll bars and then Rex fell out while Green re entered the buggies atmosphere and jarred his spine on sitting back down. They had told Marshal Cranston and the bewilder mechanics that it was a burst tire. “ you owe me” Green mouthed at Rexes joyful face as they straightened out around the bend now zooming down the wide open corridor of ware houses, at the far end a half assembled rocket was visible when they both tilted down the glare shades. “They put them up so fast these days’ Green said in awe. “ Yeah, it’s no surprise really they have those massive robotic arms now, it’s just like assembling a big magniteck toy isn’t it?” the three squat burners where now connected and a giant army of metal arms where clicking together the observation block on top of them, Looking like a unimaginative faceless block of flats being build on top of three red loo rolls.

6 years later Rexes wife filed for divorce. Rex said it was the right thing for everyone and came at just the right time “even thought I love my wife and daughter to pieces I need to focus on my career to become an explorer, their having the try outs for the new candidates next month and I want to be 100 percent focused” He said with conviction to Green and the other guys at the pub. It was a Friday night and most of the security guards and maintenance workers went to the nearby village of Flackenstrouth to reconnect with none spacey people. The vast TASU space port was a starch place full of over sized buildings painted bright white with control towers disappearing into the sky and not much else. The small village of Flackenstrouth was like a humming Mecca of activity with its small houses 2 restaurants and 3 pubs. Green was always worried when Rex came with them to the pubs; the other workers didn’t understand or tolerate Rex as much as him and would mercilessly tease him about his dreams of becoming a space man. Tonight Green was wondering why he had ever been worried about Rexes ability to take care of himself. Before Rex would grin good naturedly at any and all snide put downs put his way but tonight Rex was dishing them out himself and somehow inspiring a few of the cynical workers while he was at it. “I know I have been trying to be a deep space traveler for the whole of my life and I haven’t got there yet but I don’t give a shit, it doesn’t depress me at all, What’s depressing it you George, you have been trying to become a head mechanic for the whole of your life and finally a year ago you realized your dream and your still a miserable old wind bag. In fact your have been drinking more now than you ever did before”, everyone roared with laughter including George. This good natured banter went on until 10:30 when the pub cleared everyone out.

As before even though he had studied for almost 2 years Rex was let down in the exam by his brain “There are just too many gaps Rex, I know it’s hard to understand a lot of this if you haven’t been to University and I commend you on your effort your outstanding in every other area but your science just lets you down, better luck next time” Mr. Finkle sat behind his desk and watched as Rex used his smile as a shield to hide the disappointment. They both knew that the next try outs where in 4 years and by that time Rex would be 46 years old and it would be surprising if he even was allowed to enter the exam at all. “I know it’s not what you want to hear Rex but maybe this is a good time to let go and focus on something else, what about orbit station time, or working on the moon, the pay is terrific and you could get that job in a blink of an eye. What about your family? How is your daughter?” Rex looked at Mr Finkle like Jesus might have looked at Pontius pilot when he thrust a spear into his side. “Thank you for the suggestion sir” Rex shook his hand and left.

Far from taking Mr Finkles advice Rex began to become reclusive, even drawing away from his occasional visits to the pub on the weekend, his wife and now teenage daughter gave up trying to connect with him, even Green began to wonder what was going on. “Come on man, you haven’t been out to the pub in ages. The others are wondering what’s wrong with you” Green encouraged on his way out of the base on Saturday night. “No thanks Green, I feel like I am just nailing some of these exam texts, It’s really interesting as well” Rex replied shaking a thick book in Greens direction. “ Not for me old man, come on, for me then, we haven’t spent any time outside work together for more time than I care to think about, How about it?”. “Thanks again Green but I am going to study”.

4 years later Rex was refused entry from the deep space astronaught exam by the new head of recruiting. Mr Finkle had retired and a new hardnosed woman had taken his place “ Mr. Fleetwood I am afraid that you are just too old to embark on any of our deep space missions, there is nothing else to it”, she said coldly. “Please call me Rex, and don’t worry I understand”.  Over the next 5 years Rexs obsession grew dangerously, talking incessantly about the potential discovery of alien races, the cultivation of other planets resources “there has to be life out there, there just has to be, come on the universe is an infinity massive place just think of all the treasures which are out there” He told Green as they cruzed around the perimeter fence of the station. “Have you noticed that the whole time we have worked here we just drive around in circles and we have never actual caught anyone or ever had a break in?” “Yes Green I have noticed that, we must be doing such a dam good job I suppose” Rex said in a droll voice.  Summoning up the courage Green asked “Rex why are you still studying for the exam? I mean I understand that you have always wanted to go on one of these epic voyages but isn’t there anything else you want to do?” For the first time ever Rex flashed an angry look at Green “what, so I am supposed to give up on my dream? No I don’t have any other ones; I want to do what I want to do”. “ But why deep space?, there are so many other space missions which you can apply for, and as control says you are more than qualified with your past experience but instead you opt to stay down on earth to be a security guard I don’t get it” Green asked “ If I can’t do deep space then I won’t do anything else, being a security guard gives me enough time to study and its near the space base, if I was up on the moon I would be too far away to take the exams or even take off” Rex said “ Ok but why Deep space?” “because life is so boring, there has to be more out there, more than this little planet, I want to meet new beings more advanced than us, to see strange new worlds, discover, have an adventure into the unknown, don’t you Green?, do you actually like living on earth, your job, friends your family?, is it enough for you?” Rex said. “yes it is enough, I love my family, this job isn’t exactly what I had in mind for my life but it pays the bills and I enjoy it and the people I work with, I think you expect that going in to space will be a none stop hoot, you have spent the majority of your life dreaming about this and now that you cannot do it anymore your still deluding yourself” Green felt a surge of fearful relief as he said what he had been thinking for years. Rex gripped the steering wheel and slammed on the breaks “oh so I am delusional, well why don’t you get out of the buggy and walk the rest of the way?” he murmured menacingly. Green got out without a word and Rex sped off with a buzz in the electric buggy. “You will find out next month how great deep space is” Green shouted after the buggy.

At the end of next month the first deep space mission which had left over 70 years ago was returning. Crones 12 was the second ship to take the journey, with a crew of 10, 2 of the crew where expected to have died by the time it came back and the rest of the crew only young teenagers at the time would be old men and women by now. It was only in the last 30 years they had invented the crio pods which could keep you asleep for years at a time and hardly aging at all. Green thought excitedly about what they would have to say or what they had discovered out there, he remembered how when he and Rex where young pilots for the moon transport ships they had been mesmerized by the constant media bombardment from the TASU space company, showing grainy clips of old films about space travel, mixed with high tech videos of the latest space ships, the flashy promotions and the idea to become a explorer to new places had gripped the entire earth. The only problem being that the competition to become a deep space traveler became ridiculously fierce. Both Rex and Green had tried out many times over there early pilot years and Green had actual passed the test on his last go but that was when he had just met Julie and he was in love, exploring unknown planets wasn’t on the priority list anymore, plus the deep space craze had petered out a bit and people where now focused more on the practical and present colonization of the moon. Green wondered what Rex would say if he ever told him he had passed the exam and turned it down. Julie became pregnant and that was when his life changed. Rex had continued taking the exam but he consistently failed every time. When Green had decided to give up his career as a pilot to be closer to his new family he took a job as a security guard and when he told Rex there was an extra opening he jumped at the chance. The transport pilots going to and from the moon although highly paid had little time out of the cramped ships and the constant life spent traveling had become weary some to them both. Green wondered if Rex had always been so obsessed and unrealistic or if it had come on gradually.

Thinking about it as he walked after the disappearing buggy he thought about how every time Rex had failed the exam he had become even more resolute and single minded. Like a child being bullied and every time he is shoved down into the mud he rises up again defiant pushing against his enemy. The only problem being that now his enemy was now bigger than ever and Rex was old. They both where and now Green had his family and friends and Rex had nothing. Green had been waiting for Rex to snap for a while now. Maybe today was the start of it all. He had never even lost his temper in the 25 years of knowing each other today was a first. “God this place is huge” Green exclaimed as he saw how much further he needed to walk

The next month past the same as any other. Rex apologized to Green for his outburst and they became friends again. Patrolling the space station. Watching for intruders along the high metal perimeter. Zipping down the roads between the ware houses, like a valley walled by glaring white shiny cliffs. The new deep space vassal was being constructed by the robotic arms and the short range landing pads where constantly booming and rumbling with the entry and exits of the moon cargo ships. A vast space had been cleared of trees next to the base for when Crones 12 was going to land. They had apparently found out that there were some mechanical problems with the navigation so they cleared a huge area just in case they needed to crash land. It was only in the last week they had come back into radio contact, but control was being very secretive about everything. Rex was bouncy and excited, even forgetting his study and going down to the village pub with Green and the other workers. “You will finally get to see your aliens wont you Rex?” one of the workers laughed. “I literally cannot wait, control has said I can go and meet the astronaughts personally after their flight while they are being debriefed” Rex said excitedly. “Bloody hell, how on earth did you manage to swing that? You don’t have old Finckle on the inside to pull strings for you anymore”, George said “he just pestered them until they gave in, didn’t he” one of the other workers joked, “how did you know?” Rex replied in mock surprise.

It turned out that due to further malfunctions Crones 12 would be docking on the moon landing pad. A further week passed without any word from the moon colony.  Rex had watched the landing but that was all. It was a Tuesday morning and the announcement sounded out over the whole base “ attention tonight the crew of Crones 12 will be interviewed on Luna channel 6 at 6:00”. On hearing this Rex shouted at the top of his lungs and accelerated around the next bend almost topping the buggy over onto its side “ Jesus Rex, you know I hate that” Green groaned.

That evening Green and Rex sat in the canteen, the tables pushed to the sides and the chairs set up facing a rigged up projector screen. At 6:00 everyone grew silent as the lights were turned off and the projector flickered on brightly. “good evening ladies and gentlemen, My name is Ross Andrews and I am here tonight with the recently returned crew of Crones 12, come back from a 70 year exploration mission into outer space, Our first speaker is Jeffrey Mint 86 years old, now Jeffrey before we ask you about your incredible trip please tell us how it feels to be back again?” Jeffrey was pail and tall, with bored looking eyes, he slumped on the TV stages chair like a  truculent teenager “well it’s pretty odd to be honest, but it’s good to be back, I cannot wait to get back to earth” He said in a staccato voice looking at the floor. “I bet you can’t and you must all feel the same I suppose?” Ross said asking the whole crew who were sitting in a semi circle all wearing the TASU blue space jump suits. There were a few nods from the other elderly astronaughts and Jeffrey sniggered. “Next Andrew Mortis 90 years old, please tell the viewers what exactly did you find out there? This is the big question everyone is dying to ask”. Rex held his breath and moved forwards on his seat. “well Ross, first let me tell you it’s an absolute pleasure to be back after our epic adventure, we flew past Pluto after the first 4 years of our trip and then we came across an asteroid field, it was pretty dangerous and we managed to extract a few samples, we witnessed a black hole, showers of shooting star and other wondrous things until 10 years later when we came across our first scheduled landing site. Leaving Crones 12 in orbit we took the land craft down to Titan 3, a world 20 times the size of earth” Andrew Mortis was also pale and old but sat more dignified and up right, His eyes drooping and hollow a strained look on his face. Some pictures of Titan 3 and the crew including Andrew Mortis and Jeffrey Mint as teenagers smiling posing next to the long observation window looking out on to the massive gray blue planet. “Absolutely fascinating, the first humans to land on a new unexplored world, now I would like to ask you Francesca Robinson, what was the most exciting part of the journey for you?” Francesca noticeably younger than the rest of the crew sat with slouching shoulders nervously playing with her wrists “ well The best time was when my father was alive, he was the trainer of us all along side Sid Best, my mother Rachel Simms also passed away about half way through the mission. My fondest memory was of when we would watch films together in our family room” Francesca’s stare turned to stone, memories enveloping her mind and she sat silently unaware of anything else. “Don’t worry about her Ross she was a soppy old bag well before her parents died” Jeffrey said nastily. “Come on Jeffrey let’s keep it together shall we?, we are on TV” Andrew Mortis said softly leaning in towards Jeffrey. His words where calm but his eyes which before had been vacant now vaguely flickers with annoyance. Jeffries eyes lit up with anger and he sat up “your such a plank aren’t you Mortis, you where a plank when we first set off and your still one now, talking all that shit about asteroid fields, it was a bloody chunk of rock miles away and we sent the robot to get a bit and then threw it away later because it was so boring, the black hole was only detectable on the computer, you make it sound like it was a bloody package holiday, fun and excitement all the way. Don’t forget the almost 70 years of chronic boredom with nothing to do, and just to stop you all at home holding your stupid breath we didn’t see any aliens or any sign of life and all the planets where dead rocks. Oh and just to set the record straight Francesca’s parents didn’t die they committed suicide together and left us to look after their daughter, I mean who the hell puts a bunch of teenagers in to a space ship and cart them off for the whole of their lives, it should be against the law and….” The station suddenly cut off and an advert for Nongfu toothpaste came on blaring loud pop music and glaring white teeth.

PART264 Xu Yue a short story


XU YUE a short story Saturday, 23rd, October, 2010 Xu yue,s son was brandishing a meat cleaver in his right hand. “I will kill him, taking drugs is what criminals do, I will kill him!” He shouted at the top of his lungs. Xu yue,s husband a government official in a small village was back home again after 5 months away and had been cutting up a line of cocaine on the living room table before he was startled by his wife wrestling with their son. Quickly scrapping the white powder back into the plastic bag he got up and slunk past his family and out the door. An argument ensued between Xu yue and her son but eventually he threw the knife on the floor and stormed out of the house “If he ever comes back and does that again I promise I will kill him” He concluded as he exited.

The flat had two bedrooms, one for Xu yue and the other for her older daughter who was in high school. Her younger daughter Linda shared a bed with her mother. The living room had a set of old hard sofas lining the wall facing a dark brown low set of cupboards with a small TV on them. Xu yue picket up the cleaver washed it in the kitchen sink set it down and then prepared the foot stool next to the sofas in the living room. Fetching the massage oil and towel from the wardrobe in her bed room. In 10 minutes the westerner would be down to have a foot massage she thought to herself. Relieved that her husband and son had left “when Linda gets back from school in an hour he can teach her English” she thought. That morning while taking Linda to school they had met the westerner on the street and he had asked if she was free to give him reflexology. She had hesitated for a moment wondering if she was up to it, she had dent worked all month because she was too depressed but she needed the money. The 2000 Yuan which her husband sent home every month was barely enough for her to support her family of four and now that he was taking more drugs and rumor had it was involved with a mistress he had been late in sending her money. This month she had only received 1200 Yuan. Xu yue smiled and agreed and the foreigner waved them good bye as they walked to school. “When I was a child I didn’t have an education, the school didn’t teach anything and besides we were more concerned with eating and staying warm, I wasted my childhood playing around that is why I cannot make a good life for myself or my family now” Xu yue said to the westerner as she dug her knuckle into the arch of his left foot. After letting out a stifled grown of pain and clutching his knee he said “Oh that is very painful”, “yes this is part of your stomach meridian, have you been eating a lot of spicy food?” she asked, “yes I have, this week we have been eating a lot of Sichuan spicy noodles, I love it but my stomach isn’t used to it”. The westerner was impressed; He lived on the 3rd floor just about Xu yue,s flat. His wife also went down every so obtain to have reflexology. Whenever she came back she would tell him about what they had talked about. Watching Xu yue, her small frame bent over his long foot perspiration forming on her brow, her short spiky hair standing up as she smiled. With her crafty fox like eyes and elfin ears she looked like a pixie but the stories his wife had told him about her life made him wonder sadly at how appearances can mask so much. Linda sighed as she pushed open the heavy metal door at 9:30 in the evening, coming back from school every day she dreaded the home work before her. At 12 years old Linda still looked about 9, a much smaller version of her mother with bigger darker eyes filled with fire not yet extinguished. “Come in and say hello to Joe” Xu yue barked at Linda as she tried to slink to the bed room undetected. “Hello Joe” she said in English. Linda remembered how half a year ago Joe had taught her English, she always enjoyed going to the flat above theirs to learn. There was always nuts and fruit on the living room table and when she was good Joe gave her chocolate, This was the only part she liked and she deeply resented her mother for forcing her on a Sunday her only day off to study even more. She remembered how he tried to teach her but seeing that she was clearly unresponsive would let her draw pictures on the small white board in his bed room. Occasionally asking her what the English name of what she was drawing was. “Joe just asked you a question you should answer” Her Mum snapped at her angrily as she drilled her thumb into Joes little toe. After letting out another repressed expression of pain Joe said “ Don’t worry she has been at school all day, she should have a rest”. “Ah she is so lazy, she isn’t tired. She is awake enough to watch TV and play with the cat but when she needs to learn she just turns her brain off. She is stupid and lazy; she will not have a bright future I can tell”. Linda was used to hearing such things from her mother and even though her blank face didn’t show it she felt that she was stupid and why should she even try? “ but she will do better than her brother, he is mad, when he was a baby he didn’t get enough air and he has brain damage, he cannot even count up to 5” she said with a sneer stopping the massage for a moment and holding up five fingers as a show.

“When my husband is at home he is my husband but when he is away I don’t know what he does and I have no control over it so he is no longer my husband”. Xu yue said to Joe’s wife the next day as she was teaching Xu yue taiji outside their block of flats the next evening. Both wearing coats in the brisk night. Her son smoking a cigarette next to the compounds gate, he was wearing an old police mans uniform, too wide at the shoulders for his slight body, he began walking around like an old man mimicking the company he kept all day. He spent most of his days just outside the block of flats chatting with the old gate keeper, passing cigarettes out to passersby and looking in to the nearby mahjong gambling room. “ My husband spends so much time at work, he is friends with all the mafia people in the village, up in the mountains, he takes opium, cocaine and now I think he has a mistress as well, I knew he went to prostitutes but mistresses cost so much money. I am just so scared that he will spend all his money on drugs one day and I will be left alone to look after 3 children” Xu yue stopped herself, watching that she didn’t start to cry.

Later that evening after the exhausting task of getting Linda to finish her home work and finish her exercises to help her relieve the neck pain she got from doing her home work Xu yue sat down in front of the TV and sighed. The phone rang; it was her husband saying he was back at work now. She asked him if he could send some more money and he got angry and hung up. The only sound was of lorries rumbling outside and horns honking. This particular moment in time without any distractions let in the darkness. She thought about her daughter. Her first daughter, over 25 years ago. When she was born she was deaf and partially blind. Xu yue,s husband saw the baby for the first time and said ” we have to throw it away” Giving into her husband and both sides of the family she had got rid of her daughter. Her husband’s brother and mother had told her they had taken her to an orphanage in the city, but she never really knew. They brought back another girl who is now their older daughter. She wondered where she was now, or even if she was alive. Regret like granite lay on her heart. The walls around her became shadowy and moved in, a looming presence gripped her back and she put her head in her hands. This sensation had been unknown when it occurred a few months ago but now she knew that she was having another mental break down.

PART263 Blue drinks in KTV


Wednesday, 20th, October, 2010. I was thrilled when Friendly called again and proposed another clutch of crabs for supper. We met at the same restaurant after Sarah and I had had a soak in the hot springs at Mums hotel. I felt soft and relaxed. When friendly arrived with his wife and son we set about the crab’s dissecting, cracking open the creature’s difficult body’s to reveal the goods. Dipping it into sweet and sour tomato sauce which Friendly had made “It took me 3 hours to make” he piped up. His eyes lighting up in an explosion of pride when I complemented his saucier skills. Friendly has an idea that Chinese language requires you to speak from the front of your mouth using your tongue near the lips and that speaking English is all about booming from the diaphragm and opening the mouth a lot. I agree with this and have found with speaking mandarin you must indeed flicker your tongue near the lips. Friendly embodies this idea and it’s similar to talking to a split personality sufferer. One moment you’re looking at this formidable chap speaking serious mandarin, oozing chiefly success, speaking about how his lobster delight caused the Pope to turn Buddhist or something impressive like that. Then he turns to you and begins speaking English, opening his mouth to its fullest extent straining like a spastic cerebral palsy person. Revealing a set of white menacing gnashes, his wide crazy eyes almost obscured by his contorting cheeks. Shifting and morphing his facial tapestry, Maybe saying something like “World war two was worse than world war one” and then he is back, flicked by a switch to his other self. It’s quite a show. For some reason Friendly told his son that I knew magic and I was put on the spot. After my crab carcass had been stroon defeated before me I whipped out the old detaching thumb from behind the hand trick and the little tyke very nearly lost his tiny mind with excitement. He asked me how I did it and when I mystified him with my jazz hands he began throwing his tiny mitts at my face, putting his grubby porkers into all the wrong holes( any hole in the face is the wrong hole for a Childs exploring fingers). I gave in and showed him the way and he shoved off soon after getting what he wanted. One redeeming feature of this small sack of bones is he does generally leave the big people on their own. Only occasionally coming in to scream of kick the walls a bit. Last week Friendly had a black eye and he told me that he had fallen over while he was drunk. The true story wriggled out at the dinner table and he told us it was really because he was very drunk and had got in a fight. That night he invited Sarah and I to meet the people who he had fought with to have an apology party. The other eye biffers had found out that Friendly was a famous chief and they must have thought he was worth getting on the right side of. As we got in a taxi after the meal, his wife and wretch safely packet off home to beddy bys he became a bouncy personality. Now friendly has 3 personas. 1. Important head chief and award winner for excellent abalone 2. Crazy spastic razor teeth face mover and shaker 3. A geezer who had been let off the leash by his wife. He informed us that he also had to go to 3 other parties that evening, the first one we were going to was at “the best ktv in Xinzhuo” he told us as he sprung out of the taxi and swaggered toward the tall flashing lit building “the best” or “number 1” is a saying liberally used and without substance in China so I wasn’t actually expecting it was true. It turned out to be as swish as I had ever seen. We slid up to the 3rd floor in the elevator and came into a psycadelic long corridor. Multi coloured snake lights strobing like no bodies business, Infinity mirrors and I think there where even some furry walls as well. The room we were shown to was as big as our flat and had sofas at one end a stage at the other and a small cinema sized screen in the middle. Friendly’s buddies where almost bouncing off the walls, staggering around drunkardly while 4 or 5 heavily made up prostitutes sat refilling and plying drinks on the men folk. They where air force officials from a nearby village where which had a military air strip. “ Tonight we are VIPs” Friendly shouted at me over the horrendous singing of one of the officers. We all sat down and I was excited to see the table absolutely riddled with booze, Russian vodka, beers, cocktails, brandy and pop corn. I was handed a shot glass and one of the prostitutes filled up my glass with some electric blue stuff and doing the downing rounds with my new acquaintances I did shot after shot. It turned out that there wasn’t even any alcohol in these things, or if there was it was utterly insubstantial. My heart sank as I saw what I was drinking; it was the Chinese version of red bull, the energy drink. I had drunk a pint of the stuff and I could tell that I would not be getting much sleep that night. Sarah and I left an hour later. The military car drove us back home and I thought about how it was all a disappointment. I could have done with some beer of vodka but instead I was given a blue energy drink. My ears where ringing from the loud speakers, I was wired on caffeine or whatever dirty substitute they use in that blue shit. The front gate to the block of flats was just being closed as we ran up the drive. Linda’s brother was shutting the gates and said “hurry up why are you so late?” he was joking and in a good mood, “what are you doing in there?” Sarah asked pointing to the small gate house where some hunched over characters where visible thought dirty windows and plumes of smoke “ ohm we are drinking tea, smoking cigarettes and drinking Bie jiu” he said laughing. I thought about how that would be more my scene rather than the hectic energy drink swigging KTV palace we were at before. As prophesized I didn’t sleep for most of the night and I only managed to calm myself down by having a real shot of strong bie jui which calmed me suitably to read well through the wee hours and then pooping out into the cold stark morning again.