Starlight and Clouds in the mind

It had been a little over three months since I had found out that the Society was trying to murder me.

They had been very careful going about this but while I may not be the brightest bulb in the box, I do notice things.  Things that others would casually ignore.

It started small.  A chance conversation had brought up the subject of one of the society members wife.  I knew that he had a girlfriend that he had recently met and had, to my knowledge, never been married before.  Being the sort of chap who played with a straight edge, I knew that he would not have had a woman on the side.  He was lying.  I dismissed it as bravado in front of fellow members and gave it no further thought.

A few days later, I noticed that my usual chair had been moved to the other side of the room.  Bloody cleaners, I muttered as I started to shift it back.  One of the staff immediately asked what I was doing.  I am a polite man and was very pleased with myself that I did not raise my voice when explaining the situation.  He shook his head and said that my chair had always been there and that the fixed fireplace proved that it could never have been in the other corner of the room.  Looking over at the grand structure, I nodded and bluffed it away by saying that I had not woken up fully yet.  Sitting down I was handed my newspaper by him (the wrong one but discretion prevented me from pointing this out) and my drink order was taken.  At least they had got that right.

Over the coming weeks, this sort of thing kept happening.  On one memorable occasion, my chair was back in its original place and the fireplace was no more.  When I did speak up about these changes, I was told that I was forgetting things again.

Again!

That was when it all fell into place.  I had thought I was perhaps losing my mind but it was much more subtle than that.  They wanted me to think that.  Old Carruthers had taken his own life the other week for that exact reason.  He could not face life not knowing what was real or not.  I asked after him shortly after his death only to be told by a steward that there had never been a Carruthers in the society.

Unlike the poor chap, I am made of sterner stuff.  I had been to the funeral.  They could not drive me into the grave so easily.  I began to document every change, no matter how minor it was.  Notebooks filled rapidly and it became harder to secrete them around my lodgings in the society building.  So I began to write them in code.  A shorthand that only I would be able to decipher.  That way if they were inevitably found, they would be dismissed as gibberish.

I dared not share my findings with anyone.  No matter who approached me with similar tales, I could not trust anyone anymore.  This was my burden and I could not take being distracted by anyone.

When my wallet went missing and was found in the fridge, I played the sad old man card to perfection.  Oh how forgetful of me, I half sobbed.  The stewards assured me that it was nothing and to not worry about it.  Little did they know.  I had seen one of them lift it from my smoking jacket not ten minutes earlier.  I knew what their game was.  Back in the safety of my room, I checked its contents.  Everything was in its place but I ripped the material apart anyway, looking for the hidden tracker or bug that must have been placed.

I found nothing.

They had gotten incredibly inventive, I had to give them credit for that.  To be on the safe side, I threw the destroyed wallet out of my window.  To no-ones surprise, it ended up back in my inside pocket the following day.  Repaired as if it was new.  But it wasn’t.  I would recognise my old wallet anywhere.

So as they grew more desperate to finish me off, I responded with my own cunning.  my notebooks had now taken over the entire floor of my room.  I had stopped hiding them in a fit of bravado a few nights back and by the time that had passed, it was too late to care anymore.

Carruthers whispered to me one day at dinner, that I was not seeming myself.  I ignored the dead man and continued eating.  They could not fool me.

They would not fool me.

Any day now, I would expose them for what they are.

Any day.

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History told by black discs

I stumbled out of the pod, blinking in the harsh artificial light.  The room I found myself in was fitted out with a chair and a computer.  My brain was still processing what had happened at that time.  I did not feel completely confused but I could not remember why I found myself here.

It was a very long time ago and I eventually pieced everything back together.  Looking back, it seems strange that it took so long.

“Please take a seat” a disembodied synthetic voice spoke from hidden speakers.  I complied without really questioning why, almost as if this had been imprinted in me.

The seat seemed to mould itself to my body shape and I felt warm and comfortable.  It was around this point that I noticed what I was wearing.  A pale coloured jumpsuit that fitted almost like a second skin.  The number eighty eight was on the right forearm sleeve.

A panel slid upwards on my left hand side, an almost inaudible hiss signalled a drawer sliding forward, its contents laid bare for me to see.  Rows and rows of black discs stood upright and still.  Waiting.

“Number 88 you are now going to hear the history of your world.  Please make yourself comfortable.”

A movement caught my eye and I focused on a small block appearing beside the most left hand black disc.  The disc started to spin as a red laser fired from it.

I was lost for the next few hours, possibly days, I really could not give you an accurate description of the passage of time at that point.  Many years later I realised that I had what could be called a Religious Experience back then.  Stories of love, hate.  Pain and Loss.  Inspiration, defiance and joy.  The words surrounded me, informing my consciousness.

When it was over, I passed into a deep dream filled sleep.  I could feel myself falling backwards through time.  Not once did I feel afraid.

That time again

The concept of time had left him long ago.  Meals were never at set times and what little exercise he received, was always in the dark.  All he knew was that when the lights came on, The door opened and it was time to go.

The guard was not the same one as before, the green and red uniform shone in the harsh lights of the corridor outside his cell.  The same aggressive manner was present though.

Words were spoken by the guard and he heard mention of his wife.  The mist descended quickly and it took four other guards to stop him killing the first one.  He feigned injury to stop the beating early but not before he had made sure that the guard would not forget him in a hurry.

Bundled into the white room, hidden jets did their magic and minutes later he was clean, de-loused with his beard and hair cut to the regulation length.

“Come on Nick, your uniform is over there”

He heaved a great sigh.  That was not his name and they knew it.  Closing his eyes allowed him a moments serenity.  This was just how it was now.  They had taken over and this was what he had to do to survive.  Opening his eyes, he saw the uniform on a hanger in the corner.  They had changed the colour a while ago, like many things, they wanted a corporate look.  Gone were the days of the colours of the forest.

Why had he not stopped it back then?

He dressed as slowly as he could.  The time was of the utmost importance to them and he was going to make them worry.  Glancing out of the corner of his eyes, he could see the big clock on the wall.  It ticked the time down until he was due to be returned to the darkness of his cell.

A door slid open in the smoothness of the white rooms wall and several guards inched inside.  The lead one held a dull silver collar.  He knew the drill and let them put it on him with no struggle.  After what had happened the first time they had done this, he was not going to put anyone else at risk.

The guards surrounded him and they walked to the main entrance.  Outside the snow was swirling around and the chill hit him hard.  The uniform started to heat up automatically.  At least that was an improvement on the old days, he thought.  Far too many nights in freezing temperatures had left their mark on him.  He was still far from the man he used to be but at least he was now warm.

His vehicle stood shining in the bases lights.  It still filled him with pride when he saw it.  It meant something still.  Not what it did but still something important.  The animals had been hitched and he spent some time stroking and talking to them.  This was an important part of the ritual.  While he may be a criminal, at least he had standards.

The leader stepped out of the snow and pressed a button on his belt.  It was time.

“Kringle, you know what you have to do.  Complete the task and get back in time and your wife and children will be allowed to live for another year.”

The Leader paused, a smile playing at the edges of his mouth.

“Of course….if you fail….well….you know how that will end.  Don’t you?”

Kringle nodded.

Only a master thief could ever get in and out of the millions of houses in the time allotted and he was the best.

He boarded the sleigh and with a shout, he was away.

Behind him on the ground, the timer ticked down constantly.

In your eyes, I can see your soul

The storm had hit not long after 6pm that wintry evening.  Old Andrew from down the road, was still outside with his camera and I did think that I should go and persuade him to go inside.  The night would brighten up occasionally from the lightning, almost painting the landscape outside my window with light.  In between that, a smaller, more localised area would be illuminated.  It took me a fair while to realise it was Andrews camera flash.

What is he taking pictures of?  Endless pictures of rain?

Eventually curiosity got the better of me and I grabbed my thickest coat and headed outside.  The material would withstand the weather better than most, it was a necessity out here.  Leaving the warm safety of my house, I walked against the rain towards the lone figure in the distance.  The gutters were flooded all along the street and the excess water was spilling onto the concrete, creating an almost beautiful rhythm.  It did not make the icy daggers of raindrops that hammered against my face, any less painful.

Almost there.

The flashes were more frequent now both from nature and Andrew.  The gaps between the flash and the thunder were less than a second apart.

“Andrew, what are you doing man?” I shouted, grabbing him by the shoulder as I reached him.

He turned, a look of almost serene peace on his face.  His eyes focused on mine and he smiled.  Then he turned and took another picture, aiming his camera almost at random at the sky.

“Can you see it?”

I admit I saw nothing.  I gripped his arm firmly and tried to lead him back home.

“No I cant leave.  He is out there somewhere, just waiting for us.”

The old mans voice was surprisingly strong for someone whose body looked so frail.

“Come now Andrew, we have to get indoors.”  I may as well have been whispering the amount of notice he took of me.  Shaking off my hand, he turned to the sky and took another picture.  The timing could not have been better as the sky lit up brighter than I had ever imagined.  The lightning combined with the cameras flash made it look like the middle of a bright summers day.

I could see individual houses on the nearby hills.  Rivers flowing down a mountain, into the sea.  Fishing boats, bobbing around in the storms wind while the waves crashed against the harbour wall.

None of those things were real.  They couldn’t be, I lived in the centre of the city.

Seeing my reaction, Andrew laughed.

“You see it don’t you?”

I nodded as the light faded, leaving after images burned into my vision until they too slowly faded to black.

“Now listen son, just listen.”

So I did.

I really wish I hadn’t.

When I returned home, I switched off my house lights and stared out into the city.

Everything had changed now.

If you are reading this, then it has worked

I am trying a new way to communicate with the past.  I have no idea if it will work.  Indeed if it does, then I will never know.  If the lessons I tell you about here are received and understood, then the changes that you will make will resonate across time and my reality will be re-written in such a way that I will be unaware of the changes.

I hope this happens.

You have no idea how much I hope it does.

Last night I walked home under the sodium lighting of the streetlamps.  One each and every third one there is a combined camera and microphone.  The enemy is everywhere we are told.  Personal freedom is no longer an option.  If something is not done now to stop the enemies of our state, then they will have won.  So on average, every walk home means I am recorded about four thousand times, give or take.

I often wonder who watches it all.  Who is given the job of keeping tabs on me.  Do I have my own agent, who observes everything I do and say, in the hope that I can be arrested and detained without charge?  These are the things that keep me awake at night.

It was during the most recent of these sleepless nights I decided to do something.  My room is spacious at least but it is also full of electronic equipment that is always on.  I may plan against the state in the comfort of my own room, so they monitor me constantly.

They are doing this to everyone though, well everyone except the high up politicians of course.  They are exempt because….well because!

You see, something has gone very wrong with this world.  I do not know when you are receiving this, assuming that someone is, but here it is year 23.  I vaguely remember a time before that had a different date but like so much from those days, it is fuzzy and remains in the shadows of my mind, unwilling or unable to come out into the light.

They say it is in the food.  Yet I am told by the newsmedia, that the traitors would say that.

Yes I cannot shake the feeling that it was not always like this.  Hence why I am sending this warning to you.  At the moment my watchers can see me lying down in my bed.  The temperature of the room is the fixed one of a sleeping person and as far as they are aware, I am almost asleep.

However in my mind I am sat at a giant typewriter with normal sized keys.  Each keystroke is making a satisfying noise that pleases me.  I am writing this to you in my imagination and sending it via the power of my mind, through the eras.

I hope.

So what warnings do I have?  Well firstly I would not know exactly where to start.  This all seems so normal now, as if it has always been like this.  At some point our personal freedom was taken away.  Since it is unlikely to have happened in one go, due to what I would expect would be a public uproar, it came slowly, over the course of many years.  A little taken  away every so often and those who speak out, labelled as mad, traitors and worse.  Keep an eye out for the start of that.  I have a feeling that may be the only time it can be stopped dead.

Also watch out for the rise in division between people.  Races, sexes, religions all pitted against each other. A divided populace is easier to control certainly but with that comes violence.  Not a day goes by without the newsmedia reporting of another group of traitors attacking the ordinary people.  The proud people.  The right people.

Everything here is now red, white and blue.  Those are the correct colours apparently but only those three and only in the correct sanctioned patterns.

Sometimes it looks pretty though but mostly it is garish.  A few outlets for individuality are allowed but it is all controlled and the illusion of choice is just that.  I am currently classed as a Red but for a long while I wore only White.

Someone has turned up the speakers in my living space.  The outside interference is making it hard to…..

Hard to..

Har….

Everything is Red, White and Blue now.  Choose colour.  Any colour.  Mix your colours.

Mix…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They know.

 

You Know…You’re The Only One

The war that had started on the outer rim worlds, had been raging for about a year before my call up papers arrived.

I had just turned 36.  From that moment, I knew my life as I knew it, was over.

Arriving at the barracks, my name was checked off a list and I found myself in the hairdressers.

He did not take long to get my mane into regulation shape and from there I picked up my uniform from a surly teenager.  What did he know?

The next few weeks was a blur of drills and inspections.  Tight turns was the key apparently and our Commander would shout himself almost hoarse, making sure we adhered to that tenet.

“Come on, make those turns tighter.  I do not give these orders out for fun.”

We practiced in teams and in large battalions.  Each day blending into the next.  I did get fitter though, my beer belly being replaced by a slightly smaller one.  My thighs and ankles were almost steel like in construction.  I was ready for the fight.

This war was in danger of lasting forever.  We were the troops that they needed to turn the tide.  They kept telling us this on a loop as our ship headed towards the nearest combat zone.

Looking out of the window into the depth of space, I could not help but compare the stars out there, with the sequins on my uniform.

40 wheels on tarmac

The only sound that you would have heard was from our skates.  The city was never this quiet, even at this time of night.  The neon signs still shone their mystical sigils out into the world, each one specifically crafted by someone who knows the power that words and shapes contain.  Only our morrisso- visors, constantly scrambling the signals that they threw at us, were powerful enough to protect us from corruption.  Ear phones pumping mood music from the Granite City Disc Jockey straight into our brains at a volume that would cancel out the ultrasonic vibrations that they wanted you to hear.  Our world had become a shrine to the power of consumerism. Spend money you don’t have on things you don’t need to keep up with people you don’t like.  That was the message that kept the population docile.

Tonight it would come to an end.

We skated in a loose V formation, it seemed to be the most effective to enable us to keep the kinetic power we generated within the group.  We were going to need it.  The streets were too quiet, they knew we were coming.

Part of our training involved using an adapted form of sign language to communicate quickly and effectively.  In battle there is not always time to tell the others of a change in plan and our word-fu was a way to make the most of that little time.

Look I did not make the names up.

Red led us in a wide arc off of Union Street and onto Union Terrace.  The concrete island that had once been a park, stood as a glowing industrial beacon for all that was wrong with this world.  Globally teams from our sister organisations were doing the exact same thing as us.  A mass attack on the evil housed within the sigils was our only chance.

That was when I saw the enemy for the first time since basic training.  Standing like drones, silver rifles pointing out at the road ahead.  Our Futur-suits were bulletproof, we had been reassured, yet I had never had the opportunity to put them to the test.

Until now.

A wave of despair hit us from an aimed mediawagon and I saw Gold lose his balance momentarily.  I skated past him and grabbed his arm.  We could not let the formation fold.  not now.

The air was then full of a strange humming sound that cut through my headphones.  The air was full of bullets and I took a hit to the stomach that led to me letting go of Gold and falling to the road, skidding along under the hail of fire.

The futur-suit held and I thanked the makers for their diligence.   Still our formation was broken and the kinetic energy was free.  Hoping that it at least hit the enemy slightly, I got back on my skates and tried to catch up.

Rounding a road block I saw Blue ahead of me, engaged in hand to hand combat with at least three enemy soldiers.  Their blank metal masks were reflecting the neon from the city as they swarmed him.  Passing a pile of downed soldiers, I smiled as I saw their broken masks had let the despair fully in.  Between the two of us, there was soon three more added to that list.

We could do this, I thought.

Together we pressed onwards, trying to find the rest of the team.  In front of us stood the massed ranks of the enemy, flanked on both sides by despair cannons.

I fist bumped someone for the first time in my entire life and immediately felt stupid for doing so.

The fight had only just begun.

 

I have no idea what this is or what I wanted to say, it just formed in my brain and wanted to come out.