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The Gathering of the "Texts"

A string of vehicles wound their way across a dusty desert road. The sun shone dangerously on the arid, denuded sand. The vehicles approached a massive dune and limped to the top of it, their exhausts spluttering with the exertion. It was the border.

A few people got out of the cars and looked down onto the flat plain below. Nothing to be seen but relentless sand as far as the shimmering, diaphanous horizon, except that there in the middle of the plain stood a massive truck.

It was as long as a four-coach train, three stories high, as wide as a ship. The body was blood red, the roof mosque gold. It was the mobile home of the richest and possibly the most eccentric oil Sheikh in the world. He had felt the need to get in touch with his nomadic roots and so he roamed his desert in it.

It was more akin to piloting an oil tanker at sea than driving. In neutral it took two miles to come to a halt, and it had a turning circle equivalent to the diameter of a small Bedouin oasis village, hence he kept it deep in his desert. He had homes, or rather palaces, dotted in every major city in the world, but his favourite was the truck. A minaret rose up from above the cab, making this ship of the desert a kind of light ship too,

This man was so wealthy it was hard, even for the richest of the rich, to imagine. He could make or break small countries or companies by choosing to invest in them or not. It was hard to know where his empire started and where it stopped. His money indirectly touched almost everyone on the planet, from the little small businessman who had taken out a loan in Beijing to the Honk Kong Shanghai bank to the automotive industry in the US, where unwittingly a bank of his owned by another bank of his, owned by a subsidiary had unwittingly lent a man some money to create what is now Carlton motors.

He walked out onto the balcony of the minaret, which was his crow’s nest: a look-out point. The railings were solid gold. Gold adorned his mobile home like it was going out of fashion (which it was). Every crevice, every nook, every sill anywhere was an excuse for gold.

He was getting impatient for his guests to arrive. A sandstorm on the plain tugged at his headband and he couldn't see through it. He guessed they would be about an hour.

He went inside and slipped on some portable hologlasses. He took a walk through the various share prices and assessed the figures of the global markets of the day. Interesting prices beckoned at him in red as he 'walked' Europe from Frankfurt to London to Paris, surveying the markets. He really didn't need to; he had an army of people looking after his ·money. But he liked to look out of interest and to make sure that he was on top of things. There really was nothing very much to interest him, except he noted that a firm in the UK called Marks and Spencer were about to be declared insolvent. That was okay, he had sold his interests in that little company about a week ago.

His guests, the texts, were met at the border by stretched Maserati limos with gold caterpillar tracks. They exuded an air of wealth. Even the windscreen sandstorm wipers were 22-carat

When they arrived, the texts were shown into a ‘room’ up on the bridge. They found themselves inside a giant compass. Maybe the sheik felt they needed direction. The compass rotated, and his hologram walked in from a door in the East.

He listened patiently at first to the discussions of the men and women in the assembled company. He listened to them debating, challenging, circulating around issues and then revisiting them, agreeing on some issues only to find themselves in disagreement again over issues they had previously agreed about.

He sat quietly and took it all in. He was still patient. But gradually as the day wore on his patience turned into mild irritation, mild irritation became vexation and finally gave way to annoyance.

After four cups of cardoman coffee, three hookahs of best Turkish tobacco, and even missing the relaxing delights of his usual three orgasm siesta, finally the sheik held both of his hands aloft above his head, palms facing outwards. The room fell silent.

“I am not interested in your problems or your need for subtlety. If you can’t sort it out without incident then sort it out with incident. Destroy the place. Raise it to the ground. Provided we get the technology, what does it matter?”

”You would do well to bear in mind the big picture, what I need, rather than worrying about how this would look or how that would look. I am not interested in your problems. I am interested in the solution to those problems and I would point out to you, that you too should carry the same philosophy.”

The room listened in silence. He was correct. They had lost the plot, the big picture.

And so a new and final plan became crucial.

"What must be done, must be done, if not subtly then crudely, if you will pardon the pun, but it must, must be done, and done soon.

You will, I hope, excuse my rudeness, but much rests on this. Many people's lives, for better or worse, rest on sorting this out. So sort it out, and sort it out now. It will be in your best interests, and those of your families, to appraise me of your new proposals before you leave.

Salaam Aleikham. Have a God day. “

On the way back to the border, the texts were driven through the largest Bedouin tent in the world. It housed a football stadium big enough for a world cup final, which was the idea. It was canvassed in cloth of gold to blend into the desert like a giant dune.

He kick-off centre point was straddled by a whipping tripod. Both penalty spots were marked by execution blocks. The texts saw the goal posts doubled as gallows.

Since Arabs generally are not famous for their sense of humour, the texts insured themselves. They comm’d their new plan to the Sheik before they reached the border. They promised that, even if contingencies were taken into account, all would be accomplished by early in the New Year.
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