Blanche Street, where all the neighbours are a nightmare: Food for Thought
Food for Thought.
“Adam! Are you up yet? You’ll be late!”
The sound of his mum’s anxious voice forced Adam out of bed and into the bathroom where he splashed his face with water. Next he threw on his clothes while pulling a comb through his unruly ginger hair. With no time to stop he grabbed some toast from the table, kissed his mum on the cheek while grappling to open the front door. As his foot hit the floor, Adam nearly slipped. Looking down he saw that the familiar grubby slab stones of Blanche Street had transformed in to a highly polished white floor. Spinning on his heels, Adam found the front door had gone and was replaced by a large white door: its single porthole staring menacingly back at him.
Confused, Adam looked back at the three plain white walls, the fourth covered by three large stainless steel doors. Adam walked over to his reflection, hardly recognising the person staring back. His charcoal, two-piece suit was now an all- in-one black rubber outfit, complete with a rubber balaclava. Across his chest his could see his name back to front, below that where two words, Provender Provider, followed by a series of numbers, 220.127.116.11/14/22.5.7.
Convinced he was in the middle of a very strange dream, Adam tried to pinch himself, forgetting he was wearing elbow length rubber gloves. In a fit of frustration he pulled both gloves off and then stared at his sweaty wrinkled fingers. For a dream everything was extremely realistic, even the smell of rubber on his fingers intensely invaded his nostrils. Adam was about to pull off his rubber balaclava when a man dressed in the same rubber attire as him burst into the room pushing a stainless steel trolley. Strapped to the trolley was a naked man who was thrashing against his restraints, a big red ball gag preventing his muffled screams from leaving his mouth.
“All right mate,” said the rubber attired man, “you better get your gloves on just in case this one explodes.”
Adam quickly pulled his gloves back on as the man on the trolley roared even louder. Ignoring the man’s clear distress, the rubber clad man peered at Adam’s name badge and said, “Nice to meet you Adam, name’s Dale; is this your first day on D-block?
Bewildered by where his dream was going next, Adam tried to catch up with the madness and said, “What do you mean, what’s going to explode?”
Dale rolled his eyes and said, “Didn’t you download the information disc, read the small print? Nah ‘cause you didn’t, no one ever does. Well there’s no time to explain all that now, just do as I tell yah and you’ll be fine.”
Before Adam had a chance to ask another question, the door flew open again and in minced a very youthful looking Kenneth Williams, dressed head to toe in a grey rubber doctor’s uniform. An extremely puzzled Adam went to speak, but the door swung open again and in totted an equally youthful Barbara Windsor, wearing a tight white rubber nurses uniform, complete with a pair of ridiculously spiked, white, high heel shoes.
Adam could not take his eyes off Barbara’s ample breasts as they struggled to stay inside their shiny confines. Barbara gave Adam a cheeky wink, then turned her attention to the man on the table. She then leaned forward, pulled her pink lips into a perfect ‘O’ and said, “Ohhh, hello big boy, don’t get too excited we don’t want you popping your load too soon.”
Adam tried to make a dash for the door hoping upon hope that he would run back into the real world, but Dale grabbed his arm and said, “You can’t leave now doors sealed, besides, this is the best bit.”
With little choice, Adam watched on as Barbara placed a mask with two eye- holes over the man’s face while securing it in place with the four straps either side.
Kenneth then stood at the head of the trolley, cleared his throat and in his most pompous voice, said, “Nurse Windsor, if you please.”
Reaching beneath the trolley, Barbara produced two large syringes filled with a florescent green liquid; each needle was a foot long.
Although he was desperate to look away, Adam watched on through the gaps of his rubber clasped fingers. Kenneth meanwhile slowly raised the two syringes high above his head, then screamed out, “Fantabulosa” as he plunged both needles into the man’s eyes, hitting the back of the man’s skull.
The man’s screams ripped beyond the gag and bounced off the walls, then gradually faded into little more than a gurgle; eventually the room was filled with an eerily silence. Adam thought he himself was going to scream, but was shocked when Dale, Kenneth and Barbara all shirked with laughter.
Wiping the tears with his rubber glove, Dale said; “I’m sorry mate, but your face is an absolute picture. It’s your own fault, you should have downloaded the information disc.”
Adam tried not to get angry at Kenneth and Barbara’s continuous giggling when Dale punched his arm and said, “Don’t worry mate, I’ll explain everything over a cuppa, but first your got to watch this bit, this is always the best.”
Following Dale’s gaze, Adam looked over at the trolley as the dead man started to come back to life. At first his feet began to jigger, followed by his hands and legs. In no time his whole body was violently shaking, then came the biggest surprise of all. All eyes were on the trolley as a large rip slivered down the man’s chest till it reached his belly button, which in turn popped off and flew across the room. Adam looked on amazed and disgusted as the hole opened up like a beautiful lotus flower. Next the skin on his arms and legs zipped open and folded back. This was all bizarre enough, but what happened next nearly pushed Adam over the edge. Three large Cauliflowers and a cabbage rolled out of the man’s chest, while a dozen new potatoes popped out of the hole were moments ago a belly button had been. Next the left arm sprouted a bumper crop of carrots, while the right gave up a row of runner, dwarf and broad beans. Out of the legs came four corns on the cobs, nine leeks and an apple.
Adam tried to speak, but the dead man had not finished harvesting just yet. Everyone watched in wonder as his lower body rose up off the table and let out a huge long fart, followed by the biggest marrow Adam had ever seen.
“Ohh, Bona,” said Kenneth, which set Barbara off into another fit of giggles.
Turning to Adam, Dale said, “In the old days I’d say you’d catch flies: what with you standing with your mouth open like that.”
Before Adam had a chance to ask what Dale meant, he was instructed to put each vegetable in separate bags and store them in the fridges behind the steel doors.
Warily, Adam picked up the apple, but was quickly overwhelmed by its aroma. The smell was so crisp and fresh that he could hardly believe it had just been pumped out of a cadaver. Adam went to take a bite, but Dale snatched the fruit from his hand and nodded at the trolley, “You don’t want to end up like that do yah?”
Adam stared back blankly as Dale shook his head, “Why don’t you newbies watch the training manual? Let’s get this cleared up and like I said, I’ll go through it all over a cuppa.”
In a daze, Adam followed Dale’s orders, bagged up all the fruit and veg, while Kenneth and Barbara tidied away the jellied remains of the man that was left behind.
Dale then gently guided Adam out of the room and into a long white corridor, lined with identical doors either side. Curiosity got the better of Adam as he peeped through a porthole window and saw legendary comedian, Frankie Howard in a rubber toga. Frankie stood over a woman strapped to a trolley. As she pumped out an array of lemons, limes and grapefruits, Frankie quipped, “Ohh this one’s bitter.” He then turned, looked directly at Adam and said, “Go on, get your titters out.”
Dale looked through the porthole and smiled, “Come on you’ll have plenty of time to be amused by that lot, let’s get you that cuppa.”
As the two men reached the end of the long corridor, the disembodied voice of Joanna Lumley purred from above, “You are now entering G block, Provender, Provider Canteen: remember, our food is your thought.”
As they entered the canteen, Dale took off his gloves and balaclava and nodded for Adam to do the same. Relieved, Adam pulled the rubber hood off and suddenly his head filled with the chatter of the packed canteen. Each table was filled with people all dressed in the identical rubber uniform he and Dale were wearing.
Picking up a tray, Dale said, “Everything is one credit, as it’s your first day you probably haven’t got that much so I’ll get these.”
He then lifted one of the plastic screens and put two bananas on his tray. Despite nearly biting into the apple earlier, Adam’s appetite had completely disappeared. Dale nodded at Adam’s empty tray, “Don’t worry sunshine, you’ll get use to the idea.”
As they reached the end of the line, Dale poured himself a cup of coffee and said, “Want one? Don’t worry, all water is triple filtered.”
Adam nodded as Dale poured a second cup and made his way to the till at the end. By this stage Adam was not at all fazed to see Dolly Parton sitting at the end of the line.
Dolly waved a rod over the fruit and drinks and then over Dale’s open palm as she sang her song, ‘I will always love you’.
Dale chuckled, “No one beats you Dolly love, you knock spots of that Whitney Houston.”
A crash from the other side made everyone stop and look up as Whitney Houston threw down her mop and stormed out of the canteen.
Sitting down at a vacant table, Dale chuckled, “Those two are never going to be friends.”
Passing Adam his polystyrene cup, Dale popped two sweeteners from the dispenser on the table into his drink and said, “Got to watch my weight,” as he rubbed his perfectly flat stomach. He then added “That’s why we’ve got Anne Widdecombe at home bouncing up and down in nothing but big pants and a sports bra by the fridge.”
Adam gave a puzzled look? “Why would you do that?”
“Stops any hunger pangs dead in its tracks, puts you right off.”
Adam stared at the liquid that smelt like coffee, but glistened a florescent orange.’ As he stirred his coffee he said, “Am I going insane, or did that really happen?”
Dale looked a little confused, “What you mean Dolly and Whitney?”
Slapping both hands on the table, Adam shouted, “No! I’m talking about that Carry-On-Horror that went on back in the white room.”
Dale looked up at the camera above his head and gestured for Adam to calm down. “You don’t want them to have an excuse to harvest you do you?”
Adam gulped down hard, “Who’s them?”
Pulling himself closer to Adam, Dale whispered; “Haven’t you watched any of the training discs?”
Adam shook his head. “This morning I woke up thinking it was my first day as a bank-teller for the NatWest branch in Ipswich.”
Nearly spraying his orange coffee across the table, Dale said, “Okay mate, I don’t know what’s going on for you, but I think you’re all right. You bump your head or something this morning?”
Adam shook his head, while Dale carried on. “Look, you must have noticed there’s no windows because there’s no outside, no NatWest Bank, no Ipswich, no nothing, just this place.
Feeling the inside of his head ache, Adam said, “Bring me up to speed, before I’m carted away.”
Dale looked over shoulders and whispered, “It was the big agricultural company’s fault getting mixed up with the pharmaceutical giants and the like. It all started getting a bit messy with them GM crops and mass deforestation. In our pursuit for everything right now for less and less money, corners where cut and diseases set in. You must have been told by your great, great grandparents about the days of BSE, foot and mouth, bird flu?
Adam wanted to say they where current issues, but Dale continued, “When all the bees died out, they started artificial pollination, growing fruit and veg in mass laboratories that didn’t need soil, only air to thrive. Some people protested, but others were more interested in who was starving themselves and getting seen at some red carpet event. No one was checking to see what the animal feed was doing to our chickens, pigs and cattle. Before the true dangers were realised all our livestock had become infertile, as had the soil. Not that the bigwigs were concerned, they just started growing meat in petri-dishes. Back then we thought that those problems were just the tip of the iceberg, back when we still had icebergs.
Adam stared at the orange liquid, thankful that he hadn’t taken a sip. “What about the water?”
“Best not to ask” said Dale as he finished of his drink. “The real stuff was flooded with fluoride, while fraking ended up contaminating the whole supply. All the time we were reassured that solutions would be found, even if it meant sending us all to Mars. Trouble was that by then we had pumped so much shit into the atmosphere, we eventually created a crust, blocked out the sun.
Adam continually pinched his arm, praying to find himself at work, only to find himself still stuck in the canteen with Dale.
“With the earth and sea royally fucked, whole continents disappeared. That’s when the G8, MI5, KGB2 and Richard Branson pulled together and started building these ‘Pleasure Palaces’. Of course it’s only those at the top in AAA+ block who know what pleasure is, at least we’re not below deck.
Feeling his throat go dry, Adam had no choice but to swig some of his orange coloured coffee and said, “Why, what goes on below deck?”
Letting out an exasperated sigh, Dale said, “What’s the point of training discs, oh never mind. The new way of farming had turned all our fruit and veg tasteless. Without the ability to reproduce natural herbs and spices, everything just tasted bland. All salt from the sea was gone as it had from the ground. That’s when some bright spark hit upon harvesting the salt and minerals from within us.
Adam felt sick and desperately wanted to wake up, “So that guy in the room?”
Shrugging his shoulders, Dale said, “Most are criminals, well they are made criminals with any number of jumped up cases and are then sent downstairs until they are booked into be harvested. They had tried using clones, but the taste just wasn’t as ripe as when they used the real thing.
Holding up his banana, Dale added, this is from clone stock, only the elite on the top floor get to taste the good stuff.”
Adam looked warily up at the cameras and said, “So, what are the likes of Ken, Barbara and Frankie got to do with it all?”
Dale let out a wry grin as he pulled his gloves back on, “Clones again, they don’t mind doing the dirtier tasks and to be honest I really appreciate working with someone who makes me laugh.”
On the verge of feeling fanatic, Adam was about to scream out when a large woman sat next to him and gave him a nudge and said, “So how was your first day on D-Block?”
Adam stared at the woman’s face, then at her name badge which read, Ainsley. Adam looked at Dale, hoping that he might know who this woman was only for Ainsley to roll her eyes and say to Dale, “Has he been like this all morning?”
Relived, Dale nodded, “Poor lad thought he worked at Ipswich’s NatWest as a bank-clerk.”
Ainsley punched Adam on his arm, “NatWest! I told you not to stay up late watching the History Channel.”
Rubbing his arm, Adam said, “Do I know you?” to which Ainsley punched him again, “Of course you do, I’m your mum! I tell you Adam, that’s the last time I leave you and Oliver Reed drinking on a work night!