The Reds and the Blues (In Old Ingham Town)

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Chapter 6

The ‘Mark Adrian’ that Marie knew was an imposter. His real name was Amin Al Quitain, but he went by the name of ‘Eddie Fisher’.

The real Mark Adrian died in a boating accident in 1989. Al Quitain had assumed his identity in order to spy on Piers and his circle for his uncle, Mohammed Al Quitain. Piers had discovered the truth when his nephew’s charred remains were found in the wreckage of a burned-out boat at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea. The only reason the authorities knew it was Mark Adrian was the discovery of a passenger list near the body. It listed only three people: a Francesco D’Angelo, a Josephine Guilleme, and a certain Mark Adrian. A quick dose of research showed that Mr. Adrian had been on a sea outing with these two people.

Piers was distraught, but must have thought me a Godsend for two reasons. Firstly, and by sheer mad coincidence, I gave him the news that I actually knew who the imposter was – thanks to Marie. Secondly, and more positively, I let him know that I could track the bastard down. “What shall I do when I find him?” I asked. “Say nothing to him, let me know, and make sure he doesn’t move” came the reply. “Under no circumstances must you take revenge into your own hands”

I would have gone back to Lady Midnight, Marie’s mother, for help in this matter, but she had disappeared from the country. That left me Tony Morrison, and he was more than helpful.

Tony told me that ‘Mark Adrian’ had been a client of a number of his friends (including Luke Garrett, who visited Piers frequently but had never seen the real nephew). When I told him the story he was dumbstruck, and only too happy to tell me that, the last he had heard, ‘Mark Adrian’ had gone to Kent. Kent? If that’s not suspicious, I don’t know what is.

I didn’t find it plausible that he would leave a forwarding address for anyone, being a spy and all. I don’t think even Lady Midnight would have known anything. Why would she? Tony asked around for me, but to no avail. Al Quitain was well and truly goneskied. Not even Piers himself could track him down. What chance did I have?

The breakthrough came through that war hero again, Kieron Moore. As I had earlier discovered, Kieron worked with young offenders in the vicinity, and had at an earlier time (albeit unknowingly) led us to Wayne Ross. Once again, it was this connection that was the key. By sheer coincidence, Kieron was chatting to Tony about some of the boys in his care; not naming any names, of course. He mentioned that one of them, an ex-smackhead who was doing well for himself, was being harrassed by some tramp at a train station every week. Apparently, the tramp had been banged up with him at one time and was owed money. But that’s not the point. Good old Tony had an ear for detail, and spotted that Kieron had said that the lad in question visited the same station – Oxford Road – every Saturday morning to visit a mate down South. Where exactly? Kent. Tony put two and two together and came out with Wayne Ross. He was visiting his old mate ‘Eddie Fisher’ every week. Now I knew what to do.

I turned up at Oxford Road station on a blisteringly hot Summer’s morning, at about eight. I waited on the right platform for hours, scrutinising every single passenger that boarded the London train. After a while, I spotted the tramp that Tony had spoke of. After a little while longer, I spotted Wayne Ross himself. He had a cap and shades on, but his disguise didn’t wear with me. I too had a cap and shades on, but mine seemed to work perfectly. Sure enough, the tramp hassled him, and then the train arrived. I hopped aboard.

I found a place where I could keep an eye on him without being seen. Luckily, the train was packed so he’d have no idea. No-one knew I was here; it was a solo mission. I presume that no-one knew Wayne Ross was here either, other than Eddie Fisher of course. Amidst the heat, sweat and hullabulloo of families and holidaymakers, it was just me and him. I was following someone, for the first time in my life. I needed no dress rehearsal for this; no training from Piers Adrian or the MI5. I was my very own hunter this time.

We transferred at Euston, and here the task was made trickier. Less people boarded the Maidstone train; very few in fact. I buried my head in a book and did my upmost not to look his way, telling myself constantly that at least he would not be expecting anyone to follow him. Why would he? He was visiting an old mate. The only reason for his disguise was the tramp. I was sat in a different compartment anyway. He may not even see me, let alone realise who I am.

The train pulled up at Maidstone Station at about 7PM. He got off. I waited until he was far enough away before I did. When the time was right I jumped out, shaking.

I had imagined me following him down endless streets and seedy alleys before catching sight of Al Quitain, but I was lucky. As I got to the bottom of the platform steps and turned the corner out of the station, there he was – waiting. It hadn’t taken long, but at last I had him. It is hard to explain what went through my mind at that precise point, but the initial reaction can only be described as fear. I suddenly realised that I had tracked down someone I had naively, nay ignorantly, underestimated. This wasn’t the baghead at Dominic’s I had grown to love. Neither was it the dirty, slimy little pervert ex-boyfriend of Marie’s I fantasised about strangling. He was a trained killer; an undercover agent of evil who knew all about this kind of shit. Who was I kidding? Who was I to take on such a man? I was Mal Bellis; scally, dosser and musician. There he was, laughing and chaffing with yet another muppet who didn’t know who he was. What was his name now? I didn’t even know.

I followed, but they got in a car. Forgetting my doubts for a fateful moment, I instinctively cried “Taxi!”, as they do in the films, and commanded the driver to “Follow that car!” Of course, he looked at me as if I was mad, and so I turned the chase into a joke between friends. “New to the area then, are you?” he asked. “Yeah. Thank God for friends, eh?” I replied.

The doubts returned as I looked at Al Quitain driving in front, voices urging me not to dance with the devil whilst others were telling me it wasn’t too late to turn back. But I am a man of destiny; if I listened to all the voices in my head I would no doubt go crazy, and so I let nature take its course. The cab driver was controlling my fate at this time. If he went too slow, he would lose him. If he went too fast, it may become obvious that I was following. Whatever the outcome, it would be right. I was absolutely shitting myself, but I couldn’t let such pessimism ruin my efforts. I had come so far, and was doing so well. Moreover, people were relying on me. Or so I kept telling myself.

Eventually, the crunch time came. They pulled over down a leafy suburban street, one in which a scal such as Wayne Ross would stick out like a sore thumb. So would I, for that matter. My driver was about to stop, but quick thinking made me tell him to stop at the next off licence. I made a note of the address: 67 Parliament Grove. They didn’t see me. Crunch time had come and gone. Now he was a sitting duck with his fate in my hands.

Despite having time to think, I didn’t. I could have phoned Piers, I didn’t. Something in me welled up on that sticky evening. In that house was an evil, dangerous man, and I had the power to do with him as I pleased. All my life I have been hindered; hindered by my poor background, by those without hope who expect me to be the same, by the very people who should’ve been excited and proud of a son who can do better than they; by bullies, whose jealousy cannot tolerate the success of others; by the ungrateful victims, who cause me to doubt the good cause in defending them; by myself, even: wanting to create so much but all-too-partial to the things which destroy me. I had always dreamed of being in a position where I could remove all those obstacles that stand in the way of me being me. Fear had kept me back, but fear is only the doubt of others that have convinced themselves, and tried to convince me, that I cannot amount to anything more than their imaginations allow. My imagination is boundless! I can never rise too high because there’s no roof to my mind. The only negativity is that which I have learned, which someone else has invented! Inside the house was the personification of all these obstacles. He may have killed Mark Adrian and raped my Marie, but I had created him and I could just as easily destroy him.

I bought a can of petrol and remembered that I had a Bowie Knife. I moved swiftly, keeping my hat and shades exactly where I had left them and being anonymous in this nothing town. The nothing shop I bought the petrol in had a nothing man in it who knew nothing of who I was, for he knew nothing. The nothing streets I walked down would tell nothing of my presence, for they were nothing too. My thoughts were nothing as I walked under a nothing sky, and a moon which was no more than nothing. I was nothing; the invention of my mind, that’s all; writing a bizarre story to tell to myself one day.

67 Parliament Grove. Nowhere in particular. The downstairs lights on. A house full of nobodies. Nothing or nobody watching apart from, of course, a nobody with a dog who walked away. Dogs were somebody, I could allow that. Dogs did what they wanted to – if they could. I chose to be a dog, as a dog with my brain would be more likely to get the job done. Howwwwl I said, as I looked at the silhouettes behind the curtain. Let me feed on the Animal Farm bastard pigs inside their nice warm house, smugly celebrating how well they have fed and gone obscene on young blood. Let me show them the wrath of the oppressed; the green flag flying in their faces as I eat them for my lowly dinner. Being an animal is all about survival, and boy were my teeth sharp. Somewhere in the background, someone was playing In the Garden of Eden and the hair grew on my hands. I moved forward into the garden and pulled my knife out. What was the moon doing to me? I was nearly at the door, toe-tapping and breathing heavily. It’s hard to concentrate when there’s so much rhythm around you, but it doesn’t take long to find that concentration isn’t needed. We stand. We wait. We pounce. That’s all there is to it, and soon Al Quitain would know. I ring the doorbell, and it is soon answered.

When the door opened, I pounced. It was Wayne Ross who opened, but I pushed him aside like he was a lost puppy. I pulled out the knife and marched into the room where Al Quitain would be sitting. There he was, waiting for me, stood up as if he knew. With his knowledge, the pretentious dog died. Only we two were left.

Remember all that I said before about the chaos in the world? I suddenly realised that there had been none; not in comparison with the World Wars and Vietnam and the birth of the Antichrist. These had been peaceful times. It was we two, Quitain and I, who were the explosion the world was lacking. Remember all I had said about being the freedom fighter; the saviour? The time to prove that was now. High noon. Good and Evil right here in this leafy, southern suburban living room. I was a dog no longer, for a dog didn’t have the morality and sense of history to march on a bad man and conscientiously decide to end his existence. I did. Me. Mal Bellis.

I drew first, but kept my wits about me. When I grabbed him, I ignored the voices telling me to slit the throat of the slimy pervert who raped my woman, or gut the evil imposter who threatened the freedom of all my loved ones. I listened to the new voice of reason; the wise sage inside my own spirit who was older than anyone I knew. I stared into his eyes, and I knew exactly who and what he was. He knew me also, and in him knowing me I undoubtedly knew myself. I threw him down onto the chair, and taped him up. He didn’t say a word before I gagged his mouth. Whether it was fear or good sense I didn’t know, but I could be sure it was defeat. ‘The ball’s in your court’, his eyes seemed to say. What I would like to remember is that his eyes said nothing at all.

I watched him for one or two long seconds, if there can be such things. He was my hostage, but the thought of bargaining did not enter my head. What use would the sentimental Piers Adrian be in such a situation? I looked at the captive for some kind of sign; some inspiration. He tried to make a scream, and so I knew. Screams are the noises animals make when they are about to die. Hmmm. This animal’s death was imminent.

There was still some of the poet about me as I turned the cooker on to full blast and poured the petrol onto the nice, leafy suburban southern floor in the kitchen and the rancid, unholy ground around his feet. The pathetic attempts at screams only served to confirm that the animal had no honour at all, and so had no chance whatsoever of persuading me to let him live. He was already dead. Always had been. I was simply putting him out of his misery. I took one last look at the wailing, sobbing infidel before I knew the time was right to call it a day and turn his day into night. I felt real empathy for him this time. Not the empathy I felt in the weirdo dream at Lady Midnight’s, but the empathy a winner has with a loser. Killer and Victim: which was which? I was taking this rat’s life, but in making me do it he was taking my innocence. I would never be an observer again.

I said goodbye to my wailing teacher, and waltzed out. (Dancing is the best way to ease burdens). In the garden, I lit some paper and threw it through the kitchen door. I ran like the wind; like some jubilant scorer of some ridiculously important goal. I ran like the March hare, mad as a hatter and knowing that the world needs him but will not accept him. I ran like Mal Bellis, the school cross country champion. When I was far enough away, I caught the eye of an old lady on the street and didn’t forget to wink. After all, I am just your average, friendly, helpful, knowable, loveable, caring and charming guy. And don’t forget that I travel too.

In my unrational mind, I had forgotten all about Wayne Ross. However, it didn’t take long to find the little bastard. I got hold of a car, found him, put him in the driving seat, and watched him drive off the end of a cliff. Easy when you know how.

The repercussions of my actions are what this book is all about. Piers Adrian had told me not to take the law into my own hands, but I did not obey the order. In eye-for-an-eye fashion, two sons were dead. Now, the fathers not only had to live with the grief of outliving their own heirs; they had to plan the best way of venting their wrath also. The war had begun in earnest, if it hadn’t already. Run for the hills, my friends.

I, for one, got the fuck out of dodge. I drove up North, trying to find some hope and sanity in the hills of Scotland. I stayed in highland solace for days, turning the possibilities over and over and coming up with nothing. I had been numbed. What I had done didn’t matter toward the backdrop of nature at its finest; rolling mountains and panoramic, air-freshener skies clearing my soul of petty details such as names and events and past sins. This was the only truth, and why hadn’t I been here sooner? If I had been, I would have never known confusion. I would’ve never known anger, or revenge, or justice. I would have never known what it is to be a loser whose only goal is to be a champion. I would’ve been a champion anyway, along with the mountains and rivers that kept their watchful, fatherly eye over the pristine domain they ruled and loved.

Eventually, human reason kicked in. I had made my bed and had to lie in it, and now knew that I had to return to Piers Adrian to face ‘the music’. If only he could hear the music I could hear now in these pretty highlands, then perhaps there would be no war. ‘I will put it to him’ I thought, as I made for the road South. ‘If I can keep the music with me, I can pass it on.’ Alright.

Modern infrastructure reigned from Southern Scotland to North Wales, but once inside the realm of Snowdonia I could hear nature’s music once again. This time, however, the vibe was different. The mountains did not roll, but were jagged and discontent. The rivers were restless, having once known tranquility but now tainted with invasion. What had man done to this pure place? As I had on the first trip to see Piers a couple of years previously, I could hear nature’s cries. Now, however, they were so much clearer. I felt as if God may punish me for being human; making the rain beat down onto cliffside roads that would become slippery and dangerous. If my car were to spin out of control and tumble, I would be the scapegoat for all humanity’s sins.

But I survived, and once again caught sight of Piers’ mansion. Strangely enough, however, it was not this time the safe-haven amidst the wilderness that it had been. Now, it was the headquarters of an army at war: a war I had started. The nerves kicked in. Whatever would be my punishment? I reached the main gate, and gave the password (Chapter 33) through the intercom. The gate opened.

I had expected a barrage of security, but there was none. To add to my confusion, it was Piers himself who opened the door. This time, he was not dressed as the eccentric, flamboyant aristocrat, but more the Earthly, woolly-jumpered muser. But the look on his face was unforgettable, like that of a father who has just found out his son has got a girl pregnant. He did the same thing himself once, but the son doesn’t know that the reason for his Dad’s disappointment and sadness is that, in not being able to stop the same mistake being made again, the father has come to one of the great revelations of life: that we can never achieve perfection. Indeed, humanity’s greatest folly is the reason why our race survives. Love is the bond prisoners have for fellow prisoners. Piers could supply no punishment greater than that which I would bestow upon myself.

Nonetheless, I apologised. We walked down the hall together, and I asked what would happen. “Will it be war?” I said.

For some reason, the walls were completely adorned with pictures of cats. I hated cats. The place was like a museum; some bizarre shrine to the history of cats and their relatives. The Cat Phenomenon. What in God’s name was going on in Mr. Adrian’s head?

“This will be a war like no other, Malachy. There is more far more to war than guns and bombs and bloody red poetical poems which come out of the unwilling poet’s soul as he lays dying for the faceless leaders. Neither is it merely a game of Chess, piece of cake?. It will be a war for people’s minds. The winner will be he who gains the most influence in this unnatural, technological world of ours. Vorsprung Durch Tecnik is more than a catchphrase, my boy.”

I gave him a funny look, and he shook himself out of it. “My God… I sound like someone from James Bond, don’t I?”

“Yeah,” I grinned, “What’s with the cats?”

“Ah, those,” he pondered. “I worship them,” he said casually. “Cats are the only species to escape the evolutionary chain. Or man’s, at least. Did you know that?”

“No. Prey tell.”

“Cats have been around for millions of years Mal, as well you may know. But, unlike the rest of us, they are not of this Earth…”

What the ?!?

“They came from another Galaxy; put here to rule the Earth alongside humans, but in a completely different way. But seriously, Mal, you must now listen. You have done an extraordinary thing. Do you regret it?”

In all seriousness, I did, and that was good enough for him. But it angered me that he was being so careless about the whole situation. He I was, having started a war, stood before him like a soldier awaiting orders, and he was mocking the whole mess and talking about cats. I had geared myself up for this meeting, and for what? It was he who had created the monster in me in the first place, and I didn’t even know him. I had been meeting him for three years or so, yet had come no closer to his secrets or intentions. How could I have made his quest so special when I didn’t even know what it was, or why I was involved?

He lead me onward, and read my thoughts, his air becoming more serious. He didn’t want to forget about the cats, though. He looked closely at certain pictures on the wall: some diagrams of feline anatomy; others oil-esque paintings of cats in human (or at least regal) poses. In whatever case, he wanted me to look at them too.

“Cats are actors, Mal. Humans made them pets because we thought them powerless, or innocent even. We ‘domesticated’ them, because we didn’t see the threat in letting them live with us. We think they’re cute, but sleek and swift enough to be admired also. We respect them, in case you hadn’t noticed…”

I nodded. “But why –

“Cats are good actors because they show us how masterly they are without posing a threat. They act the fool, in other words. I am a cat, Mal, and I’ve deceived you all this time…”

“You’re not making any sense. I don’t think you’re a fool at all.”

“I know, but many do. It is a major fault in humanity that it tends to think exaggerated people stupid. We associate intelligence with reserve; the shying, bespectacled scholar as opposed to the brash and lively entertainer. Where do you think this myth came from? It came from the cat, that’s who. I play the fool by being the entertainer. I am not a threat because I am not clever…”

“But everyone knows that cats are clever.”

“Yes, but an animal’s threat to humans is not in how clever it is. On the contrary, it is in how physically strong they are, no matter what the professor would hope us to believe. A cat pretends to be weak, and in this way the human deems it harmless. You see?”

“But how have you ‘deceived’ me?”

“Come, I’ll show you.”

We walked through a door into some narrow corridor I hadn’t seen before. As we got farther down, it became darker and more eerie. I realised it to be downright strange when TV sets, extremely tiny ones, began to appear on the walls to either side. The walls were blood-red. To my horror, I looked up to find that the ceiling could not be seen. Only blackness. I was in some sort of haunted house.

“Piers, I want my mummy.” I said jokingly.

“Well THERE SHE IS!” giggled an amused Piers. The joke was on me for there, on the wall to the left of me, was none other than my mother. She was on one of the screens: some sort of footage of her at a party.

I was left speechless by this bizarre joke. Naturally, I was terrified, but knew that Piers would do the explaining in his own time and way. For now, I watched the footage. My Mum was with other members of my family; my uncle Mick was pissed up, with a (HORN THING) in his mouth. My aunt Jennie was giggling at nothing as usual. My Grandma appeared, and looked a lot younger. And then my Dad, snarling at the camera as he snarled at everything else. From the clothes they were wearing, I could see that this was a sixties film, which meant I may be in it. The eerie detail was this: the film quality was not that of sixties home movie. Indeed, it wasn’t even Technicolor or Cinemascope. Indeed, it was modern 38mm film.

“Where did you get this?” I was unnerved, but he had more to show me. On another screen, large as life, was yours truly. I was nine or ten years old, wearing only long shorts and boxing gloves. I was sparring all alone in a ring; a real bona-fide boxing ring. Like I said, I was completely alone in this ring: no referee, coaches or even opponent. Yet there was an audience, a vast crowd no less judging by the earblasting wave of sound coming at me from all sides. I was practising moves; showing off and dancing like fine boxers do. To my shock, however, the camera panned out to reveal that there was no crowd whatsoever in the arena. I was showing off to no-one but myself, and the adoring fans were created in the imagination of the young boy. But I didn’t stop dancing. My ego took over the situation, and was happy enough to be the only audience. After three minutes or so of breathtaking moving, shaking and posturing, an audience did start to appear, and in actual reality. “I am the greatest!” I was saying, and the crowd were throwing flowers and gifts and even knickers at me, and agreeing that I really was “The Greatest!” This shit was good viewing alrighty.

I was flabbergasted at how Piers Adrian could be in my head like this. No, wait: that’s bollocks, I had come into no real thought on the scenario at all before he took me to the next screen. In this film, I was scoring a winning goal in a World Cup final. On another screen, I was playing lead guitar to a packed out Wembley Stadium. These were my thoughts…my dreams! I had never dared to imagine how amazing it would be to look into my own head as if it were a film, but now I was watching the thing with my very own eyes. Haven’t we all done it? Human beings can only recreate whatever they imagine, and the greatest of visions can never be fully recreated. Mediums such as film, photography or canvas can only be a mere impression of the glory of the vision in the human mind; they can never be the vision itself. Until this. I was standing in a room that was a shrine to my mind, and my mind only. It was not someone’s recreation of my visions; it was the visions themselves. It was not even my recreation of the visions. What I saw before me were the dreams as I had remembered dreaming them at the time of dreaming. They were the truth, pure and untainted but in the most modern of technological mediums.

Getting over how splendid it all was took long enough, but once I had come to my senses and asked ‘how?’, the confusion found its home in my gut, and euphoria was replaced by complete vulnerability. I had never been in such a position before, and can only imagine that victims of rape and those about to die have been. It is, truly, the highest form of discomfort: complete powerlessness. Imagine being in a situation in which you have absolutely no control. These are not rare, even for the best of us, but we can handle them when not having such control (such as being unable to bake a Victoria Sandwich or do the four-minute mile) does not matter to us. To the celebrity chef and the world’s fastest mile runner, sudden inadequacy in the areas of cooking and running would make their lives seem worthless and perhaps send them into oblivion, but the rest of us would not care. Imagine, then, my horror when I found that my most precious of all private gifts, the one thing we all can be sure of is our speciality and under our complete control, the mind, was in the hands of someone else. It is a sensation that outweighs inadequacy by a million-million to one. Inadequacy offers hope, for it is not suggestive of a final state. It is something we can conquer with adequacy; with mental effort. Our minds can always offer a way out, from the girl who eventually learns to tie her shoelaces to the soldier that fights for his life. Imagine, then, what it is like to discover that your one source of control; the joker that can always be used and always will be used, is not even your personal weapon, and no plan or dream can be a private one for someone else is watching. For all that you have succeeded and failed in throughout your entire life; throughout whatever truth or falsehood you have known or not known, you have been (until now, of course) sure that, at the very least, nature has been kind enough to let you be the guardian of your own story. You may not have been able to dictate the events in it, but you have been the only one able to tell it to yourself with authority. Now, someone else has just as much authority to do so, and it is all the more gut-wrenching to realise that they always have had. It is the central dogma of every religion that we are all unique souls. It is the central dogma of everyone else that we are separate entities from one another; that we are each of us unique personalities. If we have nothing else to be sure of, we can always be sure of this. Imagine what it is to find that you cannot write the story of your own life because someone else is making it theirs. Indeed, rape cannot be a patch on this.

In a sense, I was dead. I could not get angry because my mind (which even governs instincts!) didn’t see the point. For the same reason, I was neither distraught nor panic-stricken or sad either. The only thought I had, the only concept in my head, was not my own. It was Piers Adrian’s, and he wanted to tell me what to think next. That was the thought. I will wait to see what comes next.

He looked at me like any father who has seen his son kicked in the nuts, but I was being no son. I was a zombie, and nothing else. What happens next?

Piers, the master, was quick to thank me, bit I could dream of no reasons why.

“Surely,” he said, “In seeing that others can see exactly what you see, you must now know that those thoughts are real. Therefore, Mal Bellis, you must see that you are real. Does this make sense to you?”

The intrusion was only half of it. Piers was right: I had witnesses to my visions. But, my friends, I cannot state too greatly how crushing the moment was. I may have discovered that I was real after all, but at what price? I was still a zombie but, and perhaps for the worse, now I knew that I was, and would have to live with that knowledge forever. Ignorance truly is bliss, for it lets us believe that we are the rulers of all we survey and the writers of our own stories. How sickening was this revelation! Adam and Eve had been given free-will, but I was now the first to be stripped of it. Or rather, should I say, the first to know we had never had it in the first place. Not one of us. Eden is not a garden of the past. It is a place we all live in, naked and controlled. We are given all the delights God can think of; we live in luxury in a world of milk and honey, prosperity and contentment. The minor details we call problems, pressures and heartaches are devices put there to sidetrack us from the truth. We cannot possibly believe that we are living in the garden of Eden, because the negatives of this world are ‘so bad’. The biggest kick in the balls is to discover that we are in Eden. This is Utopia, my friends! Heaven on Earth. Remember what Aldous Huxley had to say about that. If you can’t, please read the book. Heaven on Earth is an unnatural thing, and can only lead to one disastrous end.

Disastrous, that is, unless that you embrace being a human being. Religion and Science both agree, no matter what your teachers tell you, that mankind is the ruler of the Universe. Science tells us this is so because we have rational thought, and our Universe expands only as far as our thoughts will allow it, and so logically we have to be its ruler as no other living thing, as far as we know, has rational thought. Religion is all about belief, but all belief still puts humanity on a pedestal – whether it is as ‘God’s chosen race’, or the Buddhist theory that we are what we think and with thought we create life. Science has its Big Bang Theory to explain where ‘life’ started, and Christianity has God, but both have a point in time in which Humanity became king of, for want of a better word, everything. Science puts it down to some boring time in which Neanderthals started using implements to kill or make decorations. Christianity puts it down to the Garden of Eden. Both, and don’t burn the book for saying so, are wrong. We have never been in control. We are as much in control as the dog who thinks himself God for being the only dog on the field who can sniff every single shit and piss mark before his owner reels him back in. Eventually, my friends, we all get reeled back in. To be a human being is not to know that. To be a human being is to think we have escaped Eden.

Aldous Huxley knew that all humans actually aspire to go back to Eden, the place they went through so much hassle to escape from. He also knew that they call it ‘Heaven’, whether this be a place in the ‘Afterlife’, or ‘Heaven on Earth’. They are both the same place anyway, and he called it ‘Utopia’. Like Eden, Utopia has all the delights. But like Eden, humans have no control in it. Listen carefully when I say that THE WORLD IS EDEN. To be human is not to embrace that reality, and I have embraced it. Humanity will eat itself in its own Edenic paradise, but this is not disastrous to me. I am someone else. I haven’t even got a name. I haven’t even got a face.

Piers Adrian took me around the room of the mind that was not mine. Now, all that could be seen were abstract forms; colours intermingling with mathematical designs that transformed into different shapes on the command of audible vibrations from somewhere below. In short, the images resembled those of Psychedelic spectacles, merging and separating and forming translucent offspring; dazzling arrays married with blunt and ugly specimens, the two-dimensional meeting the 3-D. A feast for the senses, but at the same time a Scientific record of some sort of constant.

“These are your feelings!” Piers told me. “Now. This is what you couldn’t see!”

And he was right of course. I did have a feeling at this point, but it can only be described as delay. This laboratory, for that’s what it was, was a Luddite nightmare of machinery; a concoction of wires, screens and gadgetry that reeked of Science-Fiction. And Sci-Fi’s what it was, as we remember that nothing is real anymore. But this ‘Lab’, this theatre of technological soullessness, was the Met. Office of my emotional system. Not only did they have my dreams, which I had consciously witnessed personally, but they had been keeping track my feelings and translating them into Mathematical language! This did not make me feel the rape victim, for such bizarre madness is beyond me, always has been and always will be too much for me to take seriously. What would have angered me, had I still been human, is that the ‘great’ and ‘unique’ human spirit be humiliated in this way. By humiliated, I mean undermined; rejected; crushed; mocked; contradicted; crushed; completely dissed; crushed and stripped of all value or point. The whole driving force of humanity is that which separates us from particles, microbes and Nits, and here it is being measured like weather! And by F*ck it was thundering in that place I can tell you, even though the machines making notation out of two million years of blood, sweat, tears and endless moodswings of a frail human condition that will never do what it’s told are as far away from thunderstorms as an airpocket in Space. I actually saw men in white pockets, as if the thing wasn’t funny enough, and imagined how much of a laugh they had been having at the robots on Earth who think they’re not! There was even some sort of big f*ck off Van-Der-Graaf generator in the place, as if to say “Oh go on then, let the little bellends have a laugh with this down there!” Oh my sweet Jesus they were cracking me up; tickling me the bastards. Dear old Piers was cracking me up, wearing his woolly jumper and spectacles like someone who wanted to be a real Earth grandad. He was grinning at me as if he wanted to share in the joke but didn’t know what it was. He didn’t know what it was! This tickled me all the further, and he had to be patient before I told him why. And guess what? Even then I didn’t tell him! Why? Because I couldn’t speak with laughter! The whole damn shenanigan was truly first class.

Well what did you expect?” said the grandad, “You didn’t actually think that we were any more than atoms, did you?”

“Oh, no no, of course not” I replied, trying to keep a straight face, “Whoever would be that stupid? I mean, that’s like saying an orgasm ‘feels’ good, when it is actually just jizz. Hmmmp! Well I never, honestly…”

“There you go!” he said in that patronising ‘you’ve been brave’ dentist’s voice, “You’ve still got your humour, you see! We’re keeping a record of your mind. We’re not controlling it…”

Arrrggh! Don’t go any further, please! In trying to console me, Mr.Adrian had only succeeded in making me ten times worse. If he knew I was joking, the computers did. It dawned on me again that my feelings were being screened by outside bodies, except this time I was given my very own personal demonstration. The machines were making those noises that lie-detectors make. They were reading my emotional responses, and doing a ‘comedy frequency’. As I listened to them, however, they must have jumped into anger frequency mode, for they got louder and louder and louder. The screens, on the other hand, were a colour that could only be described as ‘blue’. Yes, that’s it. Sky blue. This perturbed me.

“What’s with the screens?” I asked.

“Well, they give a pictorial reading of your…”

“Yeah I know all that shit. What I mean is…why are they such a temporate colour, when I’m angry as fuck?”

“But they’re blue” he said.

“But they should be fucking RED!” I bellowed, “Everyone knows that, for Christ’s sake!”

Piers gave me a funny look, and I remembered that that was a stupid argument as I wasn’t human anymore. Neither was he, for that matter .

“Here, Mal, the colour of anger seems to be BLUE. Is that clear?”

Crystal blue, but that’s not the point. Why is it blue, then?”

“I don’t know,” he said, “They just seemed to want it that way.”

They? What d’you mean, ’They’?”

“They!” he bellowed, “The computers!”

“The wha..?”

“The computers, they…” he took a deep breath, almost not seeming to believe himself at what he was about to say, “…have a mind of their own, it seems…”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, yet again.

“…We found them, Mal. I cannot know too much about them for they aren’t really ours. It was…”

Like some little rascal of a schoolboy owning up to breaking a window, Piers writhed and shied and dithered his way through ten minutes of valuable time. Here was a guy who lead some multimillion-and-odd underground agency that controlled people’s minds, trying to excuse himself because his mates made him do it. The computers, apparently, fell down from the sky somehow, and mysteriously found their way into his grasp.

“I’m serious,” he insisted, “In the all the maelstrom around, you haven’t yet let me explain what I’m showing you. Like a…like a real trooper, you have processed all the information with emergency speed, which is good because without doing so your mind would have no doubt exploded. But, and forgive me for saying so dear Mal, you have jumped to the wrong conclusion…”

“And what conclusion is that?”

“That I am in control. You couldn’t be more wrong. I told you about how I left my home and birthright to form the company I now keep. I told you about Billy and Jim Pallace, and my organisation, and what we try to do. I told you my story, Mal, and I wasn’t lying, please believe me. It’s just that…I had to leave something out; something you didn’t need to know…want to know…”

And he wasn’t talking about the dream lab or Mal Bellis Emotions Ltd, either.


“I work for…how can I put it…someone else.”

Somehow, this wouldn’t have surprised me had Piers not put it in such a dramatic tone. Why wouldn’t he be working for someone else? I hardly knew him anyway. Besides, I was flabbergasted enough. I couldn’t see much else that would flabbergast me more. Piers, on the other hand, had confusion written on his own face, like a person who had uprooted a dilemma and needed help with it. He was inviting me to share the problem with him, just as I had (unwittingly) shared my mind with him.

“Wait a minute,” I said, “You haven’t actually said what all this is yet. For a start: where am I?”

“Right yes,” he agreed, “Well, now then…the last room was…the dream room…

No shit. “And what happens in ‘The Dream’ room then?”

“Well!” he beamed, his tone becoming all-jokey now, for whatever reason. “In this room, seen as though you ask so delicately well, we broadcast people’s dreams…”
“Broadcast? How?”

“Well, the computers track the ‘Frequency Waves’ of people’s brains, and then…”

“What people?”

“…Oh, anyone lucky to be close enough, and when that has…”

“ ’Close enough’?”

“…Yes, you know, with strong enough signals from the brain. A strong intellect or imagination, say. In any way, the computers trap these signals and transmit the data onto the screens. Would you like a demonstration?”

“Why yes, I would” I said gleefully. I was looking forward to seeing that room again. The first time around, I had forgotten to look at anyone else’s films. After all, I wasn’t the only dreamer in the universe, even if I was the maddest.

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