13 February, 2000.
part of my training at The Times, I was instructed by my editorial chief to do some research and write an article on the 20th
Century and it's impact on the future. My brief was to include as much human impact content as possible. He (the Editor) strongly
urged me to seek out people across all walks of life, all ages and nationalities, but to keep my synopsis brief and to the
point and to expand only where necessary.
I left the office and took a cab to Hyde Park, to sit amongst the quiet of
the trees, to soak up a little solitude, to observe the people passing, and more importantly, to gather my plans on how I
would attack this somewhat daunting task. My employment at The Times relied heavily on the result of my own efforts, and I
was determined to make the most of what opportunity I now had opened to me.
To adequately plot the course of mans'
impact on the 20th century, I realised that I needed to start at the beginning of that period, back to 1900 and work from
there. I realised then the enormity of my task. To find someone alive and willing to talk about that period would be nigh
on impossible. The Queen Mother sprung to mind, and I added her to the start of my job sheet, with the knowing realisation
that it would be extremely difficult to get an interview with her, but I would at least try. I owed that to myself. Others
sort of filtered in and out, but none of them of the required age to be of any use.
I shifted about on the park bench,
somewhat uncomfortably, gazing off across the park, seeing but not really observing people passing, and the pigeons plying
for scraps on the pavement around me. My thoughts suddenly focused on methods of researching the first part of my article,
and I suddenly concluded a visit to a library would be essential, if not to find the relevant books on the subject, but to
also search the Internet with there specific facilities available. I quickly got up, half ran, half walked, across the park,
out onto the street, and hailed the first cab I saw.
"London Public Library", I intoned breathlessly, as I hunkered
in to the dark, smelly cab. My initial thoughts on my journey were to get my essay into focus, but the smell, and the drivers
attempts to lure me into savvy conversation, negated any clarity. I lifted my head, and directed my attention towards the
driver, who was expertly engaging the gears, negotiating London's busy traffic schemes, and spouting on about nothing in particular,
in an accent I found out of place for a London Cabbie. He certainly wasn't a Cockney!
"......and Clinton's being a
bit dicey with this whole Lebanon thing, eh Mate. When are those yanks ever going to see that the whole world doesn't revolve
around their bloody constitution. If it were me mate, I'd just let them kill....." He intoned on, heedless of my semi-ignorance.
excuse me!" I pipe up, interrupting his commentary of world affairs. "Aren't we supposed to be going to the Public Library?"
I venture when his head turns to my direction.
"Oh, sorry mate, I thought you said the London Sceptic Society," he
offers apologetically, " I'll get you there right now, no charge. I sometimes get it wrong, being a Midlander. Some of the
softer accents like yours are a little difficult to understand at times!"
He turns the cab into the next side street,
and careens magically past oncoming cars and trucks, and dangerously close to pedestrians going about their innocent daily
"You said the Midlands, driver," I state," Where abouts exactly? "
"Aw, mate, I'm a Brummy, a brummigan,
South Yardley, to be precise, home of the Bluenoses Football team, ya, know, Birmingham City Football Club."
never been there, and sorry, I don't know of that team, I don't follow soccer or sports at all," I respond.
a young fella like you heading off to the library for any ways?" He asks, somewhat roughly," should be out and about chasing
some tail or on the town with the chaps, eh!"
I decide this line of questioning wont get me anywhere and seek to end
the conversation by telling him my task, hoping the cabbie finds the subject too complex and thereby switching his attention
back to his own monologue conversation.
"Old folks, you after, is it?"
Oh @#%$, that didn't work. The cabbie
pulls over into the nearest lay-by, stops the car and turns in his seat to face me.
"You looking for some really old
and interesting people, huh. Just so 'appens, I know of just the place to go to, although it may be a bit out of your way."
look at him somewhat quizzically, but aware of the reputation of any cabbie in London for spinning tall tales. How much do
I trust this guy? I ask myself.
"Oh, and where would that be?" I ask, apprehensively.
"Well, it just 'appens
that my one hundred and seven year old granny lives in such a place in Birmingham, the Royal Fletcher Home for the Aged and
Infirmed, I think it is called, may not be Royal, but yeah! That's the place. Last time I visited her, one of the nurses told
me that they had the biggest collection of one hundred year olds in there care, anywhere in the UK!"
At he mention
of that piece of information, my interest was immediately peaked.
"You're not pulling my leg, are you?" I asked. "Geez
that would be just the place I'm looking for if what you say is true."
"Course it's true, mate," proffered the cabbie
rather gruffly," I'm not the sort of person who makes up stories about his family just to impress someone. If you don't believe
me, I'll give them a ring on me cell phone, I got the number here. Have to, ring the old dear from time to time to see how
The cabbie, despite my protestations, reaches for his cell phone, and dials the number displayed on his personal
organiser. He starts talking to someone at the other end, his voice muffled by the phone, and the fact he is now facing away
from me. I can barely make out what he is saying, but he turns and passes the phone to me, a caring smile on his heavy midlands
features warming my nervousness at his actions.
" Hello, who is this?" I ask, excitedly and cautiously.
voice, female, and sounding officious and firm, replies that she is the Matron, and that yes, what the cabbie, Michael, has
told me is absolutely true. She goes on to inform me that they currently have seventeen centenarians in their care, with another
twenty eight who are nonagenarians, and that most of them would be more than happy to relate their life stories to me. I was
heartened by her response, but not too keen to have all of them tell me their life stories, and I told as much. She apologised
for her effrontery, but explained that if I wished to pay the home a visit, I would be most welcome, and that I could stay
as long as I wished. They were always happy to have someone stay to record the memories of those they cared for.
she hung up, she remarked that they have a few special residents who would be of most particular interest, but wouldn't elaborate
over the phone, fearing that our conversation may be overheard. This little adjunct spurred my enthusiasm, to such extent,
I handed the cabbie his phone back, and slipped him a twenty pound note, as a note of thanks for his information and my good
"So you're going to go to Birmingham then?" Asked Michael. "I thought you might."
"Yes" I replied,
my heart racing at the thought." I'll get you to drop me off at home so I can pack some things and organise a flight for as
early as possible."
"Don't bother 'bout the flight mate, I'm heading up there tonight, to see my girlfriend, how about
I save you the money, and you can come along for the ride. You can also stay at me mums place if you want, plenty of beds,
and I'm sure she'd be pleased to have a young'un staying with her. Keep her amused for a bit, I'd guess."
I sat there
amazed by this news, and my ever spreading good luck, and quickly accepted his offer. I introduced myself, tried to give him
another twenty pounds for his help, which he refused, and thanked him profusely for his kindness.
He started the cab,
took off in the direction of my flat in Knightsbridge, and for once was silent, as we sped through streets of a city now slowing
down as night approached. My mind drifted from London, and tried to focus on what lay ahead.
The honking of the horn outside drew
me away from the television set, the news item forgotten as the screen blanked from the action of the remote shutdown. I placed
the useful piece of equipment on the breakfast bar, skimmed my flat to ensure I had shut everything off, grabbed my overnight
bag and reporters satchel, switched off the lights and headed out the door, locking it behind me. The air had cooled noticeably,
the steam being exhaled from my breath testament as to how cold.
My thoughts swung to the vehicle idling at the kerb
in front of me, and my journey north. I had hoped that Michael wasn't driving his cab, as they can be damned uncomfortable,
and much to my relief, he wasn't. The car he now sat in was a 1938 Citreon, a classic in anyone's language, and one I had
always wanted to drive. Those classic "Staff Car" lines always appealed to my sense of yearning, having been brought up by
an Army family in Aldershot.
He waved politely, reaching over to open the door for me, and motioned me in. I walked
over to the kerb, opened the door fully backwards, granted him a quick 'Hi and thanks once again' and placed my luggage on
the back seat. Michael returned my welcome, and commented on the cold, noting there may be a fog coming down and that the
journey might be a bit longer than usual. I accepted his observation with an eager nod of the head, as he gunned the engine
and headed off into the night traffic, weaving our way towards the M1 motorway.
Our journey, though slower than normal
on a good day, was uneventful, the Citreon majestically chewing up the miles to Birmingham at steady 60 mph. We chatted more
intimately, on subjects as diverse and far ranging as both of us could come up with, and our recently found relationship blossomed
warmly. Eventually, as we approached the outskirts of the second largest Midlands city, I broached the subject of the home
his grandmother resided in, seeking to get some background on the people I would be coming in contact with, and to give me
an idea as to the rough layout of the place, essential if I was to make good use of my time.
Well briefed now by my
enigmatic and knowledgeable companion, we drove down a small street, bricked terraced houses on either side, dirty black from
years of carbon emissions from the local factories. It never failed to amaze me how the populations in the Midlands and northern
regions managed to thrive in such gloomy and depressing conditions, and the man sitting next to me had somehow shown me a
little of how they managed it. They were extremely tough, hard living people and who, through their relative adversity, had
learned to turn that same adversity into humour and comradeship. Both traits so easily given to "foreigners" adhered them
to one as truthful and life long mates. But god help you if you broke that trust.
Michael slowed the car, carefully
manoeuvring into a small vacant space outside one of the many houses. Only one light was on, that in the lower half of the
two story place, on the left of the wooden doorway. I surmised this to be the lounge, which was later to proved correct. The
sound of the engine being shut down, and Michael's 'here we are then, Mum's place', forced me to turn back into the car and
reach back for my luggage. I opened the heavy steel door, the smell of aged leather replaced with that of coal smoke and the
sharp coolness of the Midlands night. I closed the door behind me, Michael locking it when shut, and waited patiently for
my companion to exit his car. He came round to the path, a small holdall in his left hand, and his breath breathing white
steam, and motioned for me to follow him up the path to the door.
His broad shoulders obscured the door as we walked
up the path, and by the time I arrived at the steps, the door was pulled wide open and his mother, dressed in her pink dressing
gown and pale blue slippers, with her hair wrapped in the scarf hiding the curlers, was busily hugging her son, giving him
a right royal welcome home. She looked past his clinging arms, and spied me shifting nervously on the step, a warm smile on
my face. She pulled herself away from her son, half pushed him away and proceeded towards me, grabbing my extended hand and
taking me in an equally fond embrace. Luckily, she didn't see the look of partial embarrassment on my face, but thankfully
the greeting was brief, and she pulled herself away, and motioned both of us into her narrow hallway. I was growing fond of
the warmth these people were extending towards a complete stranger.
After a small meal of biscuits and cakes, washed
down with the perennial Earl grey tea, I was shown to my room, Michael's old room in his childhood days, and bade both of
them good night, as I had a rather busy day ahead of me tomorrow.
I closed the door, carefully scanned the room, plain
in appearance but comfortable and clean, unpacked my bag and changed for bed. Before retiring, however, I reviewed what information
I had gained so far, and that to which I would need to seek, and hopped in to bed anticipating a fruitful day ahead. My last
thought as I dropped off to sleep was to conjure up an image of a retirement home in Birmingham, but all I could dredge up
were some advertising brochures I had seen in a doctors surgery from some time ago, and those ones were modern bungalows in
the Dover area. My perceptions were somewhat darkened by the thought of the Birmingham I had seen on the way in, but I held
out hope I wasn't walking into a scene from Oliver Twist or some of those old Dickens movies from the fifties.
Royal Fletcher Home for the Aged and Infirmed.
sit bolt upright in my bed, the sudden stream of sunlight poking through the curtain interrupting my reverie. I had failed
to meet my normal quota of sleep, thanks largely to the rather amorous couple in the tenement next door. Their all night sexual
olympics, and desire to push what sounded like a very large water bed through the adjoining wall, kept my insomnia well and
truly entertained. The only saving grace was the sound of The Wall from Pink Floyd, my favourite artists, pumping out non-stop
at a fairly hefty volume.
Michael's mother, Edna Gates, welcomed me as I came down the stairs, dressed smartly in
one of her many pinafores, a happy smile on her face.
"Ready for a bit of kippers and black pudding, young Sydney?" She
beamed, gesturing for me to follow her into the dining room.
My appetite had been at the least minimal prior to leaving
the room, thanks largely to the cakes from the previous evening, and the thought of such stodge reduced it even further.
thank you, Mrs Gates, I have a rather busy schedule today and I'll catch something on the hop."
She muttered an aggrieved
'al' right then, suit yourself, but dinners at five thirty' as I lifted my satchel, opened the door, and walked down the path
to the road. Mike had indicated that the Fletcher Home was about a mile down the road, and I felt a good walk was in order.
The air was still brisk, maybe not as brisk as the previous evening but still requiring the donning of my woollen balaclava
to keep the head warm.
Pretty soon, the tenement houses disappeared, to be replaced by small shop's and numerous off-licences,
and the increase of pedestrian traffic going about their daily rituals. I spied a small pub, The Yew Tree, which appeared
to be the local watering hole. I noted it's location for a future visit and maybe some background from the locals, who had
had contact with the residents of the home, if any.
Pretty soon, the shops and houses gave way to parklands, and I
began to wonder about Mike's directions. I was sure I had walked more than three miles, but I must admit, it gave me the opportunity
clarify my thoughts, and instil a little enthusiasm for my task. As I walked, a huge conifer hedge formed itself to my left,
it's height obscuring my vision beyond. So much so, I almost failed to notice the gap in the hedge signifying the entrance
to the Royal Fletcher Home for the Aged and Infirmed, and only saw the sign thanks largely to the white ambulance that crept
out from it and nearly laid me out. The driver waved a polite sorry and continued on his way.
I looked up the long
driveway, past the heavy wrought iron gates that stood as sentinels to the gracious grounds contained within. Some yob had
graffitti-ed the left one with pink paint, letting the world know what they thought of God. I'm sure Ozzi Osbourne would never
consider sodomising someone he's never met. I start up the drive, following the path my eyes were now taking me. The grounds
were manicured to perfection, with large ancient oaks and yew trees spread everywhere, providing shade to those residents
fit and able to find a cool place to sit. I hadn't realised the temperature had risen since leaving the coolness of the buildings
and shops, and only recognised it's impact when a bead of sweat trickled down my temple. Or was it from the walk, something
I was not used to doing back in London.
I caught some snippets of conversation as I passed some of the residents, not
taking note of what was being said, but instead listening to the tone of aged recollections, and the fervour of memories reawakened.
A thought suddenly popped into my consciousness, one day that might be me! Despite the warmth, a shiver ran down the back
of my neck and into my spine.
My gaze shifted to the large double doors in the centre of the main building. They were thrown
wide open and a suited figure stood watching me, her stance suggesting no nonsense power. I guessed she knew who I was before
I even approached her, my solitary, youthful demeanour and my satchel giving me away, I supposed.
"Ah, young Mr Mason,
I would presume" she ventured, as I strode quickly up the steps." Ready to do a wonderful expose on our venerated centenarians
then." The forced smile on her lips gave me the impression of a very stern ships captain castigating drunken sailors, but
there was at least a splattering of warmth in her posture to signify otherwise.
"Yes, I certainly am, uh Mrs....."
Ms. Davina Wainwright. But to all the residents and staff here I am Matron, and I would appreciate that you also address me
by that name when we're around both. Otherwise, in private company, Davina will be fine." Her smile appeared from the well
worn creases of her face when she made the last remark. I guessed she'd be about mid-fifties, but was later to be proved very
She ushered me inside, pointing to rooms and doors as we went, explaining the layout of the place, giving me
a very extensive guided tour. The next two hours were went in a blur, running into staff and residents, Davina reeling off
names at a dime a dozen, none of which I would recall later. With the exception of one Mr. Reg Dombroski. He was located in
the west wing and was one sprightly old codger, fondly the nurses and generally bursting into hysterical fits of laughter
and manic depravity. The Matron introduced me to him and he let rip with an almighty fart as we shook hands, forcing the Matron
away to a safe distance and, because of his iron-like grasp, holding me in range of the foul smelling odour. He had pulled
me towards him, with surprisingly easy power for someone hitting 99 years old. He told me when I was close enough, and when
he was sure his well timed anal-eruption had forced the Matron away from earshot, to come back and visit him, he had a different
tour for me, one which, based on my brief, would really interest me.
He then dismissed me by releasing his hand from
mine, letting off another volumous fart, and turning away towards his television set to continue watching General Paton.
ventured closer then moved away at the assault on her nostrils, and motioned me to follow her down another maze of corridors
and rooms. We passed a large door, recessed into the wall, and which, if I had my bearings right, was the entrance to the
North Wing. I was rewarded for my skill of perception, by the brass tally above the door stating as much, but before I could
fully read the other sign nailed to the door, I was grabbed roughly by an insistent Davina and lead away from the area, without
explanation, I might add! A polite 'no comment' was all I received from her when queried.
This response, along with
the quick glimpse of the sign I did get, reinforced my desire to further investigate that wing. After all, wouldn't your interest
be peaked if you saw a sign which stated "The Mentally Disturbed Hypocrites of the 20th Century Ward" blazoned on a door,
but barely discernible without sharp eyes. And why was it padlocked?
I finished my tour at 5:30 and wandered back up the
road towards my lodgings. Stopping in the Old Yew Tree pub proved to be nothing short of a waste of money, as there will little
or no patrons around. The fact that the Bluenoses were playing at that exact moment down the road clarified my curiosity.
I made it back to Mrs Gates house, took supper with her and shuffled off to bed. Because of the long walk I had undertaken,
I felt very tired, and was determined to get some quality sleep this time. The earmuffs I'd bought at the Hi if shop next
to the pub would see to that.
My last conscious thought though, annoyed me! Replaying the VHS in my head, I kept latching
on to a figure, or was it two, standing next to one of the trees. His stance and bearing reeked of power, unlike his soft
almost youthful face, and that face was familiar, but where from. He would have been over eighty yet the resemblance to Joseph
Stalin was uncanny.
Oh, well tomorrow, the North Wing, Old Red Joe, and the matron's Opium scent would be waiting for
An Essay from The Times Newspaper Pt IV.
North Wing Blowin'.
I'm in! The room is dark, musty, the smell of
a thousand crypts assailing the nostrils. It doesn't help much that the air is dank and moist, and fog from outside, that
provided my cover across the grounds, has followed me in through the jemmied window.
I thrust my hand into my coveralls
pocket, seeking the flashlight I had sequestered there. Wrapping my hand around it's familiar, yet blind shape, I extrude
it and flick the switch, pointing the torch into the palm of my hand so as not to send a sudden shaft of light into the room,
in the event it is occupied.
My eyes slowly adapt to the half light, seeking out shapes and objects, and realising
just how dark it is in here at 4.30 in the morning, I release a little more light from the torch. My inspection finds an old
oak desk, with a large worn leather-covered chair behind it. To the left and back towards the open window, is a coat-stand,
with gargoyles leaning out in six directions ready to accept any fabric quarry that ventures near. I realise my mistake as
I swing further left, and hurriedly shut the window and replace the heavy velvet drape back across the portal.
examination reveals only three other significant pieces in the room, one a large walnut coffee table, with very large empty
fish tank on it, a cupboard in the corner, and a Star Of David - shaped chandelier over the fish tank.
over to the table, and carefully laid my torch and jemmy bar upon it, removed my balaclava and set about checking the remainder
of my clothing and tools for my mad escapade.
I think back two hours, and the reason I was now here. The banging, yelling,
screaming, and continuous Ozzie Osbourne music pounding from next door, the matrons offhandedness, and that bloody door to
the North Wing, had kept me awake since retiring the previous night. I was determined to at least escape the next door romp
artists, so decided that killing three birds with one stone would be me only course of action. I found myself rather pensive
and excited as I dug out my "paparazzi burglars" kit from the bag I had brought, a must have set of items for any prospective
journo! Black cotton coveralls with built in padded tool pouches, a pair of tight rope walkers shoes, a black balaclava and
chamois gloves, and of course the tools, small jemmy bar, credit card, Leatherman tool set, cell phone, and the flashlight,
which also had a pepper spray unit in the other end. My daring but mad plan I had formulated was to inspect the North Wing
without the knowledge of the owners, and return later in the day to interview Michael's Grandmother and that crazy old codger
whose fart still lingered on my skin.
The sudden turning of a key in a door brought my attention back to my current
situation. My heart began to race. Oh, hell, someone was opening the door to the wing, and quickly! I looked around the room
once more, decided the window was too difficult, grabbed my belongings off the table and made a beeline for the cupboard,
opening it and squeezing myself inside as the door down the corridor silently closed. I scanned the room one last time with
flashlight to ensure I had left no sign of my presence.
The footsteps slowly walking down the corridor approached my hiding
place, and stopped outside the door. I slinkered deeper into the closet, pulling the door shut and sitting down on my haunches
in case I was in for a long wait, and to also use the keyhole for a spy hole.
A figure entered the room, and turned
to light switch on at the wall. The room was thrown into brightness, but peculiarly, not from the chandelier I had earlier
spied, but from halogen lamps recessed into the walls. A movement from my right soon had the figure materialising into view,
and I immediately identified it as the Matron. She was still dressed in her suit, but somehow seemed a little different. Her
hair maybe, I dunno, but there was a looseness to her demeanour now that I hadn't seen before, an almost totally relaxed posture.
She reached towards the desk, slipped open the top draw, and pulled out what looked like a remote for a television set. Then
she did a bizarre thing.
She pointed the damn thing at the empty fish tank, pressed a button at the top, and a soft
green laser light burst from the end, reflected through the fish tank, lighting up the words "Two Lost Souls" I hadn't seen
earlier. The refracted purple light shot straight up from the tank to the ceiling and locked onto the chandelier, sending
gold shimmering light out in six directions. The matron released the remote button and the green and purple lights disappeared,
but the gold light seemed to intensify.
She placed the remote back in it's drawer, and closed it, then removed all
her clothes and placed them on the coat rack. Exactly six items; her jacket, her blouse, her tie, her skirt, her underpants
and lastly her bra. My god she had a great body!!
Before I could get a really good perve at her shapely curves however,
the gold light suddenly erupted into an iridescent white flash and I turned in time to see an equally naked man appear in
the fish tank. He was an Adonis, his perfection undeniably flawless. The matron stood looking at him, as I was, and he at
her, and silently she approached him and joined him in the tank. They clasped hands, touched foreheads and met in what appeared
to be supple simpatico. It was almost as if they had known each other forever, which I was to find out was indeed the case.
The two then separated, and climbed down from the fish tank and walked over to the desk, the male moving around behind and
sitting in the chair, and the matron sitting on his lap.
Then the weirdest thing happened! He started talking to her
but the language was totally foreign, nothing I can recall ever hearing before, and she in turn replied in the same dialect.
The sound was almost metallic clicking, but softened by their human voice boxes. After about a minute of urgent chat amongst
the two of them, the matron suddenly burst into English, taking me by surprise with her words.
"My Adam, I must ask
if we can speak the accursed tongue of humans, for now. I have been here so long now I find it easier to converse than using
our mother Bagrielic tongue. I am sorry if I offend you with my request." She bowed her head apologetically, resting her chin
on her perfect breasts.
"Of course, my Eve, how ignorant of me," as he reached for her chin and tilted her head up
and towards his placid smile. "But we must hurry. The Maker has asked me to hasten this visit as he is need of some very serious
efforts from us this morning to set the balance of human affairs straight for the next millennium. Are you up to the task?"
the Maker wants, my Adam, the Maker gets. What has he planned to do now, may I ask?" The matron, now revealed to be none other
than Eve, raised herself from Adam's lap, walked around to the front of the desk, and leaned over towards the coat stand,
grabbing her jacket and removing two fig leaves. This couldn't be surely! Adam and Eve, and the Maker.
This was getting
a wee bit too weird for a young cub reporter, and my shakiness almost forced me to lose my balance. I would hate to have thought
of the reaction of the two naked "whatever they were" beings sharing the room with me, but I'm sure it would have been nasty.
stood up, grasped the leaf handed him by Eve, and both proceeded to stick them to their groin region. So the fable was true,
they did exist.
"We are to unleash the soul of the one known last century as Adolf Hitler upon the world again. The
Maker wishes to use his particular traits he, Hitler, gleaned when he was the persona Ghenghis Khan to help keep the population
in check. He is afraid these humans have lost touch with reality and their natural side and he wishes to restore some semblance
of balance and natural order to the world."
"How is it he wants that persona? Eve asked quizzically, "I'm sure there
are other equally effective souls around who can do the job in our soul bank, but to unleash that one will only bring the
world into complete chaos."
"Not quite, my dear, he has given me specific instructions on this one, and how the soul
is to be utilised. Would you believe, he has fashioned a non-human use for this soul, and thinks it will infect and eventually
kill almost half of all the worlds human species. He intends to spread this mischief in the Internet!"
I cringed. The
Internet! But how? How can anyone be killed on the Internet? These and many other thoughts raced through my mind as the two
fig-leafed figures walked out the door and down the corridor to some room or other down there. I wrestled with the notion
to move from my hiding place, and scarper out through the window, but realised that my cover might be blown, and couldn't
begin to consider the consequences if I was caught. Besides, what if the Maker was observing the room. It was, after all,
some sort of extraterrestrial teleporter and I was stuck in my position for a while yet if I was to avoid detection. I settled
down to wait. I think, once they had both finished their tasks, and had departed for the day, I would investigate the wing
further, and somehow find out what their intention was and warn mankind of the future outcome of what I had heard.
was then I realised. Who the hell was going to believe me? @#%$!!
The Phantom of the Universe.
The sound of heavy
breathing near me pulled me awake from the dream. I almost toppled from my crouch in sheer surprise. Surprised I had gone
to sleep, and even more surprised at what was staring at me not one foot from my face.
"Hello sonny, couldn't resist
it, eh!" Old Reg let out a hacking cough, that forced an equal volume of methane from his arse. "Thought I might find you
here, he he."
I stood up, feeling the soreness in my legs and hips from being crouched for such a long period in my
cramped hiding place. I looked at my watch, having noticed the very bright light streaming in from the now pulled drapes.
It was eight fifteen, and I was kinda shocked at the length of time I had been asleep.
I turned to Reg, noticing his
aged features grinning back at me in childish joy.
"What on earth happened? And how long have you been staring at me?"
I was less than happy with the way I had been caught out and let the old guy have it a bit thickly, just to show my annoyance
"Son, you're probably lucky I found you, and not the Matron!" he said, his face twinkling seriousness at
his statement. My mind raced back to the earlier events, and a shiver raced up my spine. Yes, he was right, I probably was
lucky. Very lucky in fact!
"What do you know about the Matron, Reg? She seems to be a different woman than I envisaged."
My journalistic bent took over, determined to dig deeper into the mystery, to confirm or deny what I had witnessed not ten
feet from me four hours ago.
"Well son, that depends on what YOU think her, if you know what I mean. The answer to
any riddle is in the riddle itself and what each person sees as the clues?" Reg moved away to the coffee table, rubbing the
top of the fish tank, placing his hands to rest alongside the words I had seen previously.
"If we were to be two lost
souls?" he continued, turning back to face me then looking up to the chandelier, "what would you have to say about that lady?"
um, oh hell, Reg you know don't you? You know who she is, otherwise you wouldn't be here doing what you're doing!" My impatience
started to show, but his direct yet indirect inferences to the teleporter indicated that I knew he knew. Leastways I hoped
I was right.
The smile that spread across his face disarmed me, almost as if he was trying to seduce me, the dirty
old bugger. I felt reviled, exposed and turned away and walked over to the desk, in an endeavour to get myself back on an
even footing with this old casuist. I couldn't let him suspect my xenophobia at what I had witnessed and hoped that he would
be a more than willing participant with the plan that was now forming in my head, remembering the cause of my angst with the
I reached over to the desk, reaching for the top drawer, but it was locked. Immovable! Inviolate!
Matron, or Eve, hadn't used a key and I was perplexed at how she had managed to open it.
The sound of Reg moving behind
me near the coatstand drew me around and I stood amazed at what now stood before me. In fact, complete shock was the only
words for how I now viewed the not so old child standing before me. His skin was the gentlest colours, earth tones spreading
over him, and wood scent and fresh grass smells permeating every pore. His teeth were no longer ivory white, but coal black,
and his tongue and lips the shade of purple I'd never seen before.
As I shied away from him in obvious surprise, and
searched the room to confirm he was the one and same Reg, his gnarled wood-like hands reached out for mine. I became suddenly
drawn towards him, and the sweet lyrical music of the woods and the sea and the sky flowed from his lips in a dialect I found
very hard to trace, and even harder to ignore.
"Hello, Sydney, I am truly sorry for frightening or alarming you, but
I surmised you were aware I wasn't who I seemed to be, as you no doubt saw was the case with Eve and Adam." He motioned me
to move towards the door. "I have to show you something and I need you to understand that what you are about to see and do
is in the grand design, and is necessary for the survival of all this planet."
"Is Reg you're real name?"
of course not, it is one I choose to use when travelling the world as the watchkeeper. I do not have a name as such in human
tongue, but I am more closely known to you as Nature, the world in person."
I looked round at him (or her or it or
whatever) and saw then the agelessness I had first seen yesterday in the TV room. He permeated eternity, and reeked of healthiness.
I certainly felt nauseous with this air pervading, but my concerns of the Makers plan, and the direction of travel Nature
and I were headed down, outwieghed my own personal emotions. The body could hold off, for a little while at least.
is this wing for?" I asked quizzically, almost ignorantly. "And why the secretiveness of it all?"
Nature stopped outside
one of the doors and turning to me, pointed to the sign on the door. The portent of the words I now read suddenly exploded
in my head. 'Souls of the Tyrants and Wastrels'.
Nature explained that the North Wing was the Makers soul storage facility
on Earth, and was what we modern day men refer to as the Recycle Zone. He opened the door, oblivious to my nervousness. Was
this the room Adam and Eve had gone to earlier to find the Hitler/Khan soul? I guess I answered my own question remembering
the sign on the door. Nature walked over to a wall on the far side of the room, a wall lined from floor to ceiling with little
vaults, one foot by one foot square. I started to laugh at the thought that human souls could be stored in such a manner,
but was cut short by a rather malevolent Nature placing a very straight twig-finger to his lips and whispering a quiet "Sshhsshh".
He pointed to an opened vault to his immediate right, about half way up the wall. We shuffled silently over to the vault,
sweat now pouring from every pore in my young body, fearful once again at the situation I found myself in.
the door, and read the ancient hieroglyphics etched into the heavy lead portal. My education was very limited, but the look
on his face lead me to beleive that it was that of Hitler/Khan, and his urgency became apparent as he went wailing from the
room, leaving me to mull over the implications of this dreary place. It was very cold in this room, but my clothes were drenched
in nervous sweat.
I quickly followed the fleeing figure further down the corridor and caught up with him leaning against
another door. His breath was silent, even after the exersion from his sprint, and as I drew level with him, his eyes turned
to mine, sorrow deeply etched in his graciouos features.
"I have to ask you one question, Sydney, and I need just one
word please. It is plain to me that you witnessed the Makers two engineers this morning, and overheard their conversation."
Nature grabbed my shoulders soaking up the sweat through his porous membrane, "How were they planning to use this soul to
I felt relieved! I could now share my secret and I felt immediate relief as I told him. "Internet".
that's not so bad, then, he's only after near annihalation then, not total. That's good, we can institute some damage control
and keep the destruction of the natural order to half of what he intends to achieve, the selfish wastrel." Nature's gleeful
outburst caught me completely by surprise.
"What! You're happy, happy that more than half the human population is about
to be destroyed when they log on to their computers! How could you be so @#%$ happy at that!" I screamed vehemently, "we must
save them all!"
Nature spun round, fixed me with a sorrowful stare once again, and apologised for his callousness,
but explained to me, rather soothingly, that it was better than total annihilation, and if he did not miss his guess, the
right mixture of souls sent through the Internet would equally stabilise some of the distruction, and provide a balance for
those that remained. He turned back to the door, marked by the sign 'Talented and Caring', opened it and stepped inside. I
followed. What other choice did I have?
I looked around. Mother Terresa, Ghandhi, John Lennon, Joan D'Arc, King Arthur
(so he did exist), Aristotle, Beethoven, Stanley Kubrick, the names went on and on and on. I was overwhelmed by the range
of great souls that were stored in this room. There was hope after all.
"Oh, good, this one is still there" exclaimed
my host, pointing to one of the many opened vaults. "And the Maker has marked him with eternity! Now that is very interesting."
walked over to get a closer look and was surprised to see that this one was written in Latin, but no mistaking the translation.
"Rogerus Waterus". My mind whirled. A living soul and one known to me.
The Thoughtless Man Makes A Move....
Have you ever wondered why people do things? And
have you ever wondered if they were aware of the consequences of their actions? After all, did Ernest Rutherford believe that
if he split the atom in the name of peaceful scientific discovery that one hundred years later his innocent act would hold
the key to the destruction of not only mankind, but all the world. And did the Britons of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries
consider that their industrial revolution would be the catalyst for the killing of all life on the planet through the greenhouse
gases they needed to emit in the name of progress? And what of Jesus Christ? Did he ever imagine that his simple philosophy,
and that of his father, would lead to the mass suicide and murders in his name, of so many lost souls in the name of love,
hope, charity and religious obedience?
I don't think so. Why do I ask these burning questions? After all, I'm only
a journalist on the hunt for a good story, right. Well, it's like this. After seeing the Rogerus Waterus vault, I felt a sense
of intrigue wash over me, for no particular reason, you must understand. I looked around the room, and noticed that Nature
had departed, and I could just make out his faint footfalls heading off down the corridor back towards the Tyrants Room. I
took this as a cue to do some more exploring, but before I could move, I felt an overwhelming sense of tiredness and hunger
eating in to me, and to remain awake and steady for the remaining time I would be here, I decided to slip a couple of 'ludes
to give me a bit of a burst.
What the dumb ass @#%$ me forgot was that I was already very tired and hungry, and the
'ludes not only served to heighten my awareness a little, but they also created a blurry vision of reality, which caused me
to do something rather naughty. I suddenly felt like I was God and I wanted to control the world, to make it all perfect,
to make it free of violence and hate and nastiness. My drug hazed mind decided to play Master, and a plan formulated that
sounded pretty reasonable at the time, but which would prove to be very stupid, much to my detriment, and to that of a few
The first step of the plan had me running round the room, throwing my clothes and accoutrements to the
four corners, ending up stark bollocky naked, and throwing myself into the next phase. I must add, the Animals song Sky Pilot
was pounding threw my head in silent abandonment, driving my desire on even further. I then raced around all the vaults, opening
them up and standing naked before them, accepting them into my body. Before they could take over my soul, however, I was on
to the next one, and the next one, until all the Talented and Caring filled my persona, but with so many none could get control.
That and the 'ludes kept me focused and in charge.
My own thoughts were starting to race in hallucinagenic mayhem as
centuries of memories darted to and fro, fleeting but never permanent, nor retained. My purpose screamed it's way back and
forth, and then the wailing began, slowly at first but ever so steadily increasing, at the realisation of what I was about
to achieve. I now knew that their nature could not let any one soul assume control, so I would be free to continue on.
started dancing, my nakedness now caked in irridescent sweat, and skipped out of the room and down the corridor towards the
Tyrants Room, hoping to catch Nature at work. I danced on in, and found to my surprise that he was not there. Oh, well, he
could wait. I sauntered over to the vaults of the tyrants and wastrels, ready to complete phase two. The wailing inside my
head was now reaching a very pleasant crescendo, and with good reason. The intent was fairly clear and public. I started then
on the bad guys, and followed the same pattern as before. This phase was even easier than the first as they were all keen
to take possession, and because of this, they were easier to control, as they pretty much controlled each other. They were
so wrapped up in themselves, they even failed to notice the other souls my skeletal vessel contained. I had a moment of mirth
though, when Idi Amin tried to reach for my genitalia with his soul but failed to even raise a twinkle there. He was dragged
back shouting and screaming by The Spanish Inquisition and rejoined the others in the power struggle.
Very soon, the
error of my actions began to manifest itself. Nature sauntered into the room, took one look at my nakedness, complete with
a cheesy grin giving away my drug stupified state, and then fixed an even more sorrowful stare in the direction of the opened
vaults. Once again he raced out of the door wailing, and went straight back to the other room, with me in hot but flaccid
pursuit. By heck, someone inside me was having a right royal battle. A vision of a robed Israelite with long beard, holding
something in his hand was immediately replaced by one of Napoleon Bonaparte rubbign salt into his left nipple. Back and forth
the vision went, neither giving nor gaining any ground.
I arrived in the room just in time to see Nature open a side
door i hadn't noticed earlier, and disappear into it closing it behind him. The river of tears he had produced soaked the
floor, and the mud created when it came in contact with the years of dust and dirt made my hystercially uncontrolled passage
somewhat treacherous. The plan was entering phase three, the 'ludes starting to create a plethoric nirvana, a playing field
for the combatants, a stage in time for the good and the bad to thrash out their diferences, to make consessions, share love,
negate each others strong points, to present a balance of humankind ready to take on the Maker's plans for worldly chaos.
opened the door and felt the earthquaake hit the building at the same time, short and sharp but not strong enough to unbalance
me. My psychiatrist would probably have interrupted here and said in his humble opinion I was already unbalanced anyway, but
as he wasn't here, he didn't say it and I remained as steady of purpose as I could.
"So you decided to dabble with
the Grand Design, eh!" Nature stood firmly planted to the floor not ten feet from me, the anger plain to see on his wooden
knotty face. "Decided to play God, Huh. What is it with you humans. You get a chance to observe something good at work, and
to observe higher beings conducting their millennial tasks, and you just can't sit by and watch."
This was the most
I had heard Nature say in the short time I had known him, and his vexated stare chopped through the haze of stupor that surrounded
my cerebral vortex and rocked me back to earth.
"Oh, well, we will have to go on, but you must be prepared to share
a fair amount of the burden of your actions, something your kind finds a little hard to do." Nature turned and faced a dark
curtain and with a wave of his massive arms, forced them to part, to reveal what looked like an amazing accurate reproduction
of Hal from A 2001 Space Odyssey!
For a nanosecond, Stanley got a grip on my brain, and stated that he wanted in,
as he had always wanted to live until at least that year, just to see how prophetic his visions had been. He was quickly replaced
by a smiling Hizbullah Suicide bomber, who also immediately dissipated. The mind battle obviously continued, but I seemed
more oblivious to it now and more concentrated on what Nature was doing.
A heavy mist started to rise around him, and
formed into large black thunder heads over his body, and as each thunderhead struck the one next to it, lightening would pulse
and flash down back to the rod standing proud from the computer that was now well and truly lit before me.
caught my attention, though, something I had never seen during the movie. Hal had an erect penis, and it was pointing straight
at me, demanding my attention. Several of the stronger souls in my head with the sexual preferences associated with the powerful
tried to assume control, forcing me to turn around and bare my buttocks to the offending weapon. Luckily, my heterosexual
virtue was retained as Oscar Wilde and Liberace fought to gain control and placed the powerful rightfully in their place,
flat on their own butts! Nature reached for the erection and started to tweak it to and fro, pressing the tip from time to
time, which caused Hal to erupt in fits of convulsion. It was after a few minutes that I realised that it wasn't a penis but
a very crude joystick arrangement, obviously added on later to the machine and something I hadn't seen in the original movie.
over here, Syd, I need your special gifts. This is a very powerful computer, but unlike any....."
"It's Bloody Hal
from 2001" I rudely interjected, regretting my outburst immediately.
"....as I was saying, this is a very unique computer,
and yes your assumption is correct, it is Hal. But the Hal you saw in that movie was not mechanical nor electric in anyway.
No indeed, my friend here is a bio-computer, and is what we use to control the natural justice for all living creatures on
this planet of ours."
I looked at Nature somewhat quizzically, aware of the sudden coming down of the high I had been
on, sobering at the thought of what he had said. The souls, however, were still preoccupied with their inner turmoil and failed
to discern the sudden move both Hal and Nature took towards me. Nature landed square on my chest and Hal, amazingly quick
for something that size, pinned my legs. Suddenly, a probbing vine eminated from Natures forehead and shot up my left nostril,
and at the same time a gaping floppy drive opened in Hals' belly, my flaccid member drawn into it. It was then that the lights
the dream shaping my reality. My subconscious awakened to the sights, the sounds, the music, the smell. I open my eyes and
see the earth, clean, blue, green. I soar further and lower, swooping down towards the ground. I marvel at the ease with which
I descend and glide. I chance a glance to the left, hoping to see something familiar, and I do. My wing is spread before my
eagle-eyed gaze, feathers outspread in the pattern I know all too well, letting the air pass under and over, a little tilt
here and there to alter my altitude, a flick of th tip and my passage moves either left or right.
I pass my vision
back to the front and see the land unfold before me. The land is clear, the air fresh, the river running free and clean. Game
animals wander the land in their day to day business, some hunting, some reproducing, but most just grazing and sleeping.
I see it, the Man creature, his spear held aloft over his head, ready to strike down the small rabbit twenty feet to the right
and adjacent the small mound by the creek. I soar closer, hoping to distract the wretched beast, but his concentration is
firmly in the prey.
I let out a loud screech, trim my feathers for rapid dive, and streak straight towards the ghastly
interloper. My mind is firmly intent on stopping this creatures bloodlust, but my audible warning only shifts the attention
of the homo sapien towards me and in the last second I realise he has fired his weapon in my direction. I quickly apply my
feathers for a sharp turn to the left to escape the spears path, but foolishly turn side onto it's flight and feel the metallic
point pierce my abdomen. Is I cartwheel to the ground, in searing pain, I wonder why God had to put this wretched creature
on our beautiful planet? He surely is intent on only destroying it.
eyes open as the dream washes over me and the realisation pops into my vision that I have gone nowhere and I am certainly
not an eagle. Nature and Hal stand quietly before me, knowing grins spread across their inanimate faces. I look down my torso,
noting the probe and floppy drive are no longer on my person. I should feel glad, but I dont. This is getting too freaky.
The Penultimate Test of Time.
"Well, what did you think of the
vision?" asks Hal, a metallic click to his voice adding to the strangeness of my situation. "Didn't find it too bizarre did
Nature looked at me, averting his gaze from his companion. His stare demanded an answer to Hal's question and
he waited stoically for it.
I mulled over what I could remember and felt a little perturbed I could recall it all.
Even the pain as the spear tip entered my abdomen! And the fall. But I couldn't for the life of me remember the landing, or
my supposed death.
I answered Hal's question, recalling all the detail, explaining my feelings as I went. I felt very
worried that me, a mere human, had been able to reconstruct the motion and thoughts of an eagle when I'd only ever seen one
on the Discovery channel and that was a just fleeting glimpse!
Nature walked over to me and reached for my belly, then
lightly ran his finger over the area above my navel.
"It appears to me you have had something similar happen to you
before, the same fate the eagle received."
I looked down to where he was rubbing and to my surprise and horror, a three
inch wound lay open, with dried blood crusted around the outside of it. My mind raced with the implications of this mystery.
How the heck had that happened? Did Nature open it with his sharp branch-like fingers? Of course not, the blood was dried.
Was I the eagle in my dreams? Nuh, that's impossible.
"No it's not, young Syd," whispered Hal. "You are the Eagle and
that is why you are here with us at this precise moment in time. You hold the key to the mystery of Man, and with that key
comes the ability to unlock the door to survival."
Hal moved away then to another area of the room, aware as to what
was going through my head. How on earth did he know what I was thinking?
"We have, um... certain traits that help us
survive and that is one of them. Knowing Man's brain and his thoughts helps us to keep the balance." Nature waved towards
the outer wall in a gesture of total envelopment of the outside world. "We just happen to know all the thoughts and processes
of things natural otherwise we cannot function, just like you know the thoughts of that eagle all those tens of thousands
of years ago. Everything has something of it's past locked away in it, it just needs the right key to unlock it, Eagle man."
ready," called Hal.
Nature wandered over to where Hal now stood, and I realised that a monitor was now blinking into
life, Netscape Navigator blinked it's product message across the screen. I, too, joined them, and marvelled at what I was
watching. The browser went through it's normal start up proceedures, but every now and then, I caught the sight of a subliminal
flicker and amazingly recorded each word as it come to me. By the time it had finished loading, the meassage was complete,
eight words as distinct as they were hidden, "Standby for the test of the Maker, Human."
"He has worked very quickly
this time," Nature exclaimed to bio-mass computer, "very quickly indeed!"
"Yes, it is lucky we got young Sydney here
when we did."
I looked at both of them, transfixed by their exchange, suddenly cognisant that my journey here wasn't
an action of my own desire, but a planned excursion of someone elses making. I realised then that I was an integral part of
Nature's design, and hurriedly switched my gaze back to the screen, as Hal opened the e-mail browser which, on this unit,
was Netscape Messenger.
Only one e-mail was showing, and it froze my attention to the screen as if I was a block of
marble. "Are you ready to win the race of your life, and the life of your Race?" it proclaimed.
Nature motioned me
over to stand alongside Hal, who then placed the mouse in my hand, ready for use.
"Everyone in the world who has e-mail
access has received the same thing, world wide. The Maker is about to set his next phase of the Earth's life cycle on it's
motion of discovery." Hal winked at me, like a father winking at his son when he tells him of his first date and how it went.
"The reason you are here is about to become all too clear and we know you can answer the questions. We also know there are
exactly one million nine hundred and ninety nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety nine other humans out there who can also
answer the questions."
"But how?" I protested, "Not all the world is on the internet!"
Nature turned to me and
explained that the Internet was the initial message carrier, and that by the end of the day, the message would be relayed
on every radio, TV, cellphone, telephone and any other means of communication everywhere in the world, and those isolated
from the communications age would receive it through religious sermon and discussion and via the bush telegraph and word of
mouth. By the end of the month, two million people will have answered it correctly and survived, the remainder wouldn't!
thoughts turned immediately to my family, my friends, and workmates, all the people I had living memory of, and at the same
instance, the wound in my belly began to ache and bleed, and the vision of the hunter swarmed into my sight, totally blocking
out anything I had just thought.
I pressed the mouse button, more as a reaction to the pain than to deliberately read
the e-mail, but as soon as the e-mail flashed onto the screen, the pain subsided, and the bleeding ceased.
my focus firmly on the screen, surveying the questions as I did so. I failed to notice that Hal and Nature had disappeared,
and that I was now standing alone in the room with the mouse and monitor as my only companions.
I read on.
The Eagles Soar
I have been sitting here now for seven hours.
It is now dark outside and apart from heading back and donning my stripped attire from earlier in the days events, I have
been sat at the monitor digesting the import of the trial the Maker has set. I know I am confident I can answer the questions
correctly, given the information my companions gave me, but still, the thought that I answer incorrectly has me a little paranoid.
thought that millions of my fellow race are now dead or dying also holds me back. I have read and reread the warning countless
times and know that in that time, the Makers plans have been well advanced. I have also become cognisant of the silence that
has taken over the land in the past couple of hours. Yet still I do not attempt to read the questions. The warning says I
still have 25 minutes to make my decision, but @#%$, I don't want to!
The squeak of a mouse outside the window, followed
closely by the sounds of a cat in hot pursuit, breaks my reverie, and the ease with which I sink into the psyche of both cat
and mouse re-focuses my next decision. I am one with the Earth, it seems. The scar in my belly a mute reminder of how close
to Nature. I chuckle a little at my private joke but stifle it immediately should I offend someone.
I re-examine the
e-mail one more time, as I sit before the screen. I reach for the mouse (this one I can't feel anything for) and click back
up the page to the heading "Are you ready for the Race of your Life, or the Life of your Race? Next to it, a fat smiling Sun
icon flickers a winking smile, enticing the reader to make some comment.
Then the warning, (in red, what else!) is
located beneath. I run the mouse over it again to ensure the hidden message was still located there. It popped up again "Where
Eagles Soar" and I knew that there were a few more of my sort out there surviving the test. At least I hoped they had. I shuddered
to think of what would happen if they hadn't. The warning read:
"You have this e-mail on your computer, congratulations.
This is an acceptance that you are prepared to take the test of the Maker. These steps below explain the rules of competition
and must be followed implicitly:
1. You cannot delete this e-mail from your system until all the answers are entered.
Attempts at deletion will be accepted as forfeiture and you will be forfeited.
2. Should you choose not to answer these
questions within eight hours of receipt, your system will be shut down, and you and anyone on your address book and any names
on any media you have will be shut down as well.
3. This competition is open to all people have have access to communication
media world wide including:
c. Computers, Laptops, Palmtops, Disks and Floppys
d. All electronic
e. Printed text.
f. Vocalised Message systems.
g. Visual communication systems.
4. If you
haven't opened this email to answer the questions, you will be null and voided. Let your friends know so that may have a chance
5. Employees of the Maker and his Nemesis shall be deemed to have cheated if they enter this competition
and will suffer accordingly. Celestial interference will not be tolerated.
Thank you for reading this warning. Now
go to Question one and enjoy your new life.
At this point, two icons depicting barbaric eyes, dark as coal and
blinking in unison, are stationed below the warning and above the questions. I had seen earlier, but barely perceptible at
first, the eyes resembling those of Ghenghis Khan, and deep in the sockets, the hated Swastika of the most barbaric human
of the past millennium floating in pensive anticipation. The Makers borrowed souls marked the destruction that would be rent
upon the Earth. What I could be sure of though was that the Makers plan almost certainly meant the extinction of both as there
would be no technology left after the event, leastways, noone to run it.
The amalgamation of souls in my mind had
been quiet now since the episode with the eagle and seeing these two signs again shook one of them out it's slumber. I distinctly
felt the force within me, and soon recognised Ghandhi slipping into my conscience. He whispered something to me, and I asked
him to say it again, as I couldn't quite pick up what he had said. 'Don't you worry Sydney, the Eagle within you soars, and
the souls of the Earth past within you are now at rest for eternity. You carry the human memory of life on Earth and the hope
of billions of your kind. Walk on, our carrier.'
He faded as quickly as he had appeared, and I returned to the questions,
realising time was getting on.
You must answer all three questions, in order from one to three. You cannot look at
the next question until you answer the one you are attempting. Failure to follow these instructions means certain expulsion
from this Planet. He He! You do not need to write your answers anywhere, just keep them in your head. Thank You.
One. How many times have you thought about deleting or not answering this test based on the warning displayed above?
Two. The next question will ensure your life here on Earth. When did you last come in contact with nature?
Three. When you last touched nature, did you recognise anything familiar from 10,000 years ago?
If you answered once
or more than once for the first question, goodbye!
Now if you answered anything other than "I touched Nature today",
If you answered anything other than an eagle, a rabbit, and one homo sapien hunter, GOODBYE!
finished with the following text:
You have survived the test if you are now reading this. You are now one of two million
people to survive. By the end of this century, there will be three hundred and fifty two thousand, one hundred and sixty six
of you left on earth. Your reign as the supreme being will be sorely tested by any number of upper level mammals, primarily
apes, who will be seeking revenge. They will not conquer you, nor you them. Your tools are in your head and in your soul.
Thank you for the fun.
screen blinked off as soon as I had finished reading the Makers signature, and my attempts to restart it were useless. I contemplated
the meaning of what I had read and suddenly realised the enormity of the scenario presented to me, if indeed it were true.
Maybe I was dreaming this. Yes, that's it, the combined effects of the beer from the Old Yew Tree pub mixed with my Halcion
sleeping tablets I had taken before going to bed at Mrs Gates house were creating an hallucigenic nightmare. I knew this not
to be true, but I hoped that there was some explanation for the extremely wierd occurrences throughout the day.
up from the chair, stretching the tiredness from my aching limbs, and decided to head back to the room I had entered the wing
from earlier this morning. My arrival there showed nothing untowards had happened here, and I stood and contemplated my next
move. Out the window and back to my lodgings, or through the door and see Michael's Grandmother, get the interview I had come
here for, and get back to London before mornning.
As much as I knew that interviewing anybody would be impossible,
I still had that hope that I was wrong and the world still existed as it had last night. That hope was to be sorely tested
as I walked out the door guarding the North Wing and it's collection of souls, and headed off along the corridors of the Royal
Fletcher Home for The Aged and Infirmed. I passed the Rec room, noticing a sound coming from an old Pye stereogram in the
corner of the room. The lid was up and a record was rotating on the turntable, a scratchy sound coming from the speakers.
I gave the volume nob a tweak, without result, and remebering my fathers similar vintage machine, gave it a swift kick, which
sent the needle scratching across the vinyl LP and straight into the first groove. The sound immediately roared into life
as the strains of Shine On you Crazy Diamond Pt 1 bellowed from the speakers.
I turned and surveyed the room, noticing
the recent signs of life, cigarettes burned down to stubs, knitting dropped to the floor and in chairs, and magazines dropped
carelessly everywhere. The Fletcher Home's claim to fame no longer mattered for anything now, I guess.
Epilogue - Twenty Days on.....
I have cycled the length and
breadth of Birmingham and London, and all the towns between. I would have used any car I came across, but nothing seems to
work anymore. The bicycle is a Broadbent Racing Special I picked out in Pack'n'Pedal in Birmingham, and it has now travelled
hundreds of miles, without once having the pleasure of running someone down.
My loneliness was initially frightening,
but soon gave way to wonderment at the chance of finding someone in this godforsaken country of mine, literally! I had been
back to my flat and couldn't get in due to the electronic security system failure, so I was forced to enter through a window
(again) and pack some stuff for my travels. I had stowed all my papers for later recovery, and set off in search of life in
other English, Welsh and Scottish towns, before heading across the channel into Europe and Asia. A big world with hardly anyone
in it again, awaited me.
A funny thing happened though. I was packing my stuff and happened upon an old Pink Floyd
LP in my living room, Wish You Were Here, and my mind went back to the Fletcher Home stereogram, and then back even further
to the Talented and Caring souls room, and the vision of the open vault of one Rogerus Waterus. My decision to head straight
for Cambridge as my first stop was made and off I went, with as much haste as a challenged ex-reporter cum road cyclist could
Two days later, I arrived and scoured the town for life, without success, and guessed that he must still be
in Bermuda, where he was recording his new album. I left Cambridge despondent, but with a little ache of hope that one day
we might meet and share our new found life on Earth. As I headed out into the countryside , my path leading me towards the
coaltowns of Wales, I passed a farm, heavily wooded with Oak and Yew trees, and sheep grazing in the paddocks. Two pigs were
rutting in the mud hole to my right, birds were flittering to and fro, and a border collie was running around by the back
porch chasing imaginary children. I marvelled then at the basic life of the English country and sank into a state of euphoric
A guitar chord then burst out from across the paddock and at first it didn't register as an actual occurrence,
as the scene was hypnotic and I assumed the music is part of my imagination. Then I realised the music is moving and as I
switched my attention back towards the direction of the music, and the house, a figure walked around the corner with an acoustic
guitar playing, and singing a song so familiar to me. He looked up from his playing and spotted me standing astride my bike
in the lane. He seemed a little surprised, enough to stop playing Watching TV. He waved me over then, and as I got closer
I realised that I was standing in the presence of the living soul from the vault.
"Hello, mate, want to sit for a while
and keep an old time troubadour company. I'm working on a concept album and I think we might be able to help each other. What
do you think?"
New York, New York, old flame.
look at the name on the writing portfolio again to ensure that I am still me. Sydney Mason, former cub reporter for the Times
Newspaper of London. Yep, still the same old Sydney. But not quite. The body is still the same, but the mind and soul are
changed from that which departed for the Royal Fletcher Memorial Home for the Aged and Infirmed all those months ago. I now
call myself Wind Chime, after those annoying solo efforts that blow in the breeze outside your door. It sort of suited my
Strains of Dark Side of the Moon rumble through the tight cabin space of the Farr 45 I purloined in Southampton,
a yacht that has stood me in good stead o0n my round the world journey. The CD reminds me of the three days I shared with
Roger at his Cambridge home, sharing thoughts on a brave new world and our ability to survive the challenge God or alien anthropologists
had set us. When I suggested that we head out together to conduct a census, he was reluctant to go with me, especially when
I mooted the idea of heading to Europe and Asia, through Africa, and onto the Pacific and the Americas.
And that is
how I ended up in this boat. Roger volunteered to check out the united Kingdom, Europe, and Africa, and suggested I check
out the Americas, the Pacific region, and we'd meet in Singapore one year from that point.
As I listen to Breathe,
I relive those moments that have brought me to the East Coast of New Zealand.
I set out from Rogers on the racing bike,
heading for Southampton. The journey was pleasant, but soon the loneliness started to set in, and then and only then did I
realise how enormously repugnant my task was going to be. Two million people spread around the Earth and I didn't have a clue
where they were or who they were. I was a stranger in a strange world. That really hit hard. Nevertheless, it formed a resolve
in my mind that I had a job to do, and that I needed to find a mate to restart the clock in time.
I reached the wharves
in Southampton, once again without seeing a soul, and set about discovering a suitable ocean going yacht that would handle
the elements and my rawboned attempts to sail her. After an exhaustive search through some chandlers shops familiarising myself
with the advertising brochures on what was which, I located and boarded a vessel aptly named "Time Traveller". The makers
plate inside told me she was designed and built in New Zealand by a Bruce Farr, a name I had seen on many of the brochures.
I took it on good faith he knew how to make a sound vessel and settled into my new home for the ensuing voyage around the
I spent another three days around Southampton stocking up for the voyage, feeling strangely guilty about taking
things from once busy shops, as if I was being watched by the owners still. Who knows, perhaps I was still being watched!
But I had a duty to perform, as destined by destiny itself, and the guilt soon gave way to cheery hopefulness.
I soon nicknamed
the boat "Tardus", being an old fan of the TV series, Dr Who, and was ready to sail.
My last duty on English soil was
to get some memorabilia to take with me to remind me of home and how it used to be. I grabbed some CD's from a shop of British
artists I loved, a Union Jack, a soccer ball, and some good old Guinness beer to while away the sad days in an alright bad
My journey was fraught with danger. I knew not how to sail, to navigate, and to read the weather, but after sailing
around the south of England for four days I soon came to grips with most of it at a basic level. Thankfully it was summer
and the winds weren't especially strong otherwise I would have had my hands full. I was about to find out what strong wind
sailing was like soon anyway as my journey began in earnest.
After fifteen days due west sailing, I am feeling more
comfortable with the boat, and with sailing. My expected mal de mer failed to materialize, leading me to believe I was born
to be a sailor, but the events of the past three days almost lead me to recant that theory. The storm, though short, was powerful
enough for me to worry about my survival. Of course all the electronic equipment failed to work, and couldn't help me with
weather forecasting or navigation. But the magnetic compass held me true, even if the storm deviated me somewhat. On my present
bearing of due west, storm or no storm, North America would appear on my horizon one day. Single handed sailing was tough,
but I had tougher challengers to face as the unraveling days of the new earth spread before me.
Halifax, Nova Scotia,
was desolate. The fishing boats were all tied up, the visage that which I had met in all of my travels in England. I left
a note on the desk of the local police station to let whoever was still alive in the area know that there were at least two
people alive in the world and what my travel plan was.
I then reprovisioned, sailed out of Canada, and made my way
down the Eastern seaboard, heading for the Big Apple. A city of that size, someone must be around. I hoped
training is described as a means of preparing oneself for a dire event. The only intensive training I had undertaken over
the preceding months was survival as you go training, so what awaited me in New York is was never going to be prepared for.
sailed into the Hudson River and made my way to Manhatten Island, the hub of the great city. My trip down the Eastern seaboard
had been rather free and easy and had lulled me into a sense of come what may, devil may care, reverie. But Manhattan, and
New York, towering over the little Tardus, were a dark dank nemesis awaiting my arrival.
I docked at one of the many
empty docks, secured the Tardus, and placed a note on the cabin top for any enquiring survivors. Armed with my trusty backpack
with supplies for two days exploring, and an empty bag for resupply, I made my way into downtown to see what I could find.
and yellow cabs, buses and trucks lay scattered where their drivers had departed them. Some were involved in collisions as
they had run on. But generally the chaos was orderly as I wandered up the streets and avenues. Once agin, ther was no sign
of life. Shops lay empty and undisturbed from the day God called his riddle. To a former journo this was awe inspiringly spooky.
New York with a population over 15 million once, was now barren, a mass of concrete, steel, and glass laying dormant for the
remainder of time. I had seen many holocaust movies before, but they didn't even prepare me for this graveyard of former humanity.
found a precinct, the 23rd, and wondered in to see if there was any sign of life around. The place was musky, the airconditioning
no longer working, but the air was sweet. No polution around so no need for any airconditioning anyway, if it could work at
all. At least the planet was going to be able to breathe again after this. Maybe that's what God wanted in this manoevre?
Who knows. I left a note on the precincts dusty desktop, and continued on my sojourn through Manhattans streets.
some hoours of walking, I made it Central Park. In one of the stores, I had rescued a bottle of Coke and a packet of Marlboro
cigarettes and a Bic lighter, which would come in handy on the boat. I sat down on one of the many park benches and sipped
my Coke and had a drag on the course cigarette, my first in months. Maybe it was the desolation that lay around me that made
me start again. But the sound that eminated from the other end of the park brought me up sharp! The roar of a big cat bellowed
across the autumnal trees that littered the environment. My mind immediately switched to a TV image of a zoo in Central Park,
and if this was so, those poor caged animals had been couped up unfed for over two months, and must be barely alive.
stubbed out the smoke and dropped the coke bottle in the bin beside the seat and made a mad dash across the park in the direction
of the sound. It took me nearly twenty minutes, but I got there with a bead of sweat on my brow, both from the run and from
the anticipation of what lay before me. I shouldn't have been so keen. The scene was one of utter desolation and horror. In
almost every cage, all but one of the occupants, except the birds and fish, remained. I surmised that the golden rule of the
wild had taken over when the residents had not been fed by their absent keepers, and that was survival of the fittest. They
had in essence devoured each other to survive.
I located the enclosure where the big cat was roaring, a Siberian tiger,
with the bones of it's mate laying in the middle of the cage. The tiger's frame was spare from starvation, signs around the
enclosure that anything was fair game for it's hunger. Tires were in shreds, trees stripped of bark, and rope shredded for
whatever sustenance it could get. I had a dilema on my hands. If I let all these animals go and fend for there own survival,
they would perish because they could reproduce. What's more, the tiger, and some of the other animals were very capable of
seekiing me as their prey, and anyone else that was still alive in New York and the surrounding areas.
If I didn't
let them go, they would just die and disappear for ever without any hope.
I sat down on another bench, placed my head
in my hands and proceeded to thing out the problem. Eventually I decided to let them all free. The last would be the probable
maneaters, so that they could sniff the other possible prey that I had released before them. I also wagered that there were
enough dogs and cats, now wild, around to garner a feast from, and that the bigger prey of a human would not be such an enthralling
prey, due to their weakness.
After three and a half hours, the deed was done, and all animals and birds were gievn
their freedom. The most enduring moment was releasing two white doves from the aviary, a breeding pair who would last the
distance. The Siberian Tiger had taken some time to coax out of his enclosure, but perched precariously above the cgae, I
had managed to wait until the gaunt creature had wondered slowly out and headed out into the streets that would be it's new
home. I waited a further three hours, chuggin away at the Marlboro's to ensure the beats was well away before chancing my
arm at further investigations. I headed off in the opposite direction, paranoia now an unnerving companion. I rued my action,
but thrilled at having given those animals a chance.
My last thought as walked across the park, was the wonderful feeding
device I had set up for the fish in the aquarium. It would at least gravity feed them for a good three months at least, so
they at least had a chance for that time.
I turned a corner, and a park bench about one hundred yards ahead moved.
Or should I say the newspaper on it moved.
I am now 240 nautical miles away from Rio De Janiero, my next destination. The sullenness of New York and my encounter
with Ed still weighs on my mind. I have been at sea now for 19 days, and the import of my meeting with the park bench resident
of Central Park still assails me. I have asked God countless times why he left a vagabond philosopher alive on the planet,
especially with a ravishing yet intelligent model.
I have mulled over the meeting and still cannot make sense of it.
The only conclusion I can come up with is that he never had contact with the message, in any form, and therefore survives
as a testament to the folly of God.
He was intelligent, no doubt about it, in his mid 40's. He told me he didn't understand
what had happened, but was glad that it had. He treasured the peace and quiet. I'd asked him if he ever read his blankets,
where the message was posted but he confided that he didn't read anymore, just thought and spoke to himself. My intrusion
to him was an affront on his humanity, his space, his being. Yet I persisted with my questions, my confusion apparent.
he had heard the sounds of the animals running free, and he looked quizzically at me? I admitted what I had done, but he merely
blinked and thanked me for making his decision for him. But he became nervous nonetheless and turned off his responses to
me. I stood expectantly for what seemed like hours, but he had snuggled back into his shell, and no more was said.
good is a transient' I mouthed to myself, over and over, as I walked briskly out of Central Park, and headed for the Headquarters
of Vogue magazine. For the first time since the great apocalypse, I was shaken in my mission. Was I going to meet more such
citizens of the barren planet, and would they ask the same questions of me? I hoped not, but I somehow felt that I would not
be seeing the last of this issue.
Putting the encounter behind me, I tried to find the mysterious model that the hobo
had mentioned in the midst of our chat. He hadn't liked her, nor she him, as I now expected knowing the reason he was here.
But after hours of wondering around upper Manhattan without success, I headed back to my boat, to get some sleep, and to escape
the lonely darkness made even darker by the lightless skyscrapers. It was my intention to check back into the precinct I'd
earlier visited in the morning, but the hopelessness of the need to find her over took me, and as soon as I arrived back onboard
I determined to stock up the boat in the morning and set sail for Rio as soon as possible.
It struck me as odd, the
next morning, that I had no desire to seek out this woman. Did I not need a companion, one of the fairer sex? I struggled
with this thought as I went about the shelves in the local Hypermart stocking the trolley with canned and dehydrated food.
I obviously didn't feel the need for a female companion, there being no urge, in fact no urge for any companion. Then it struck
me. What if all the remaining people on the planet were loners? I considered myself a proposed loner, Roger seemed to be unaffected
by the loss of his family, and the hobo on the park bench was certainly used to his own company. And that's probably the reason
I never found the model, as she sought her own company and solace. But it all seemed to be a big "what-if".
spent 19 days weighing the pro's and con's of New Yorks import on my conscience. It has scared me, bothered me, and downright
frustrated me. The thought that the only reason the world existed now was to be a hotbed for loners shattered my concepts
of what had been and what was to be. But I was determined to remain positive and upbeat and presume that New York was just
one bad apple in a good bunch.
I also wondered what the rest of the United States had to offer apart from our two estranged
representatives. I was sure that the remaining populace would gravitate to firstly Washington, then onto America's biggest
city. I only hoped the Snow Tiger wouldnt be too hungry.
And this brings me back to Rio De Janiero. Why Rio? The Statue
of Jesus Christ on the mountain behind it perhaps. A large Roman Catholic population. How had they survived? Two million survivors,
and surely some of them had to be fun loving, religious Brazilians in continual search of life. Two days sail away would tell
me. Besides, my supplies could only last so long before the next leg of my journey begun.
Rio was a disappointment. In
fact the whole south american continent was empty. A provisioning stopover, a place to rest, and nothing more.
to the possibility the Panama Canal might be closed off due to lack of operators, I had to tackle the Cape Horn and it's various
nautical hurdles it throws up, but as is testament to my continuing saga here, I made it, and so did the great boat I picked
for this adventure.
As I write, I have just left Easter Island in the past few days and am now steadily passaging to
Pitcairn Island, and then follow the trail of the great polynesian navigators, by going via Tahiti, the Samoas, Cook Islands,
and finally my last destination for this leg anyway, New Zealand.
Easter Island was interesting. I had seen the great
figure heads in many publications and on various television documentaries, and sure as eggs is eggs, the figureheads had grown
torsos and legs, and were now facing arse about face, bent over, torso parallel to the ground, and hands pulling their butt
cheeks apart, and seemingly blowing wind to the gods. I checked my supply of halucenagenic compounds later to ensure I had
really seen what I had and sure enough, I wasn't dreaming it. I even had the sense to take a chisel to one and say I was there
on that specific date, and I am sure I heard the wind say '@#%$ that hurts', but there was no wind.
As I said, amazing
things, amazing times. I wondered daily if Roger was having the same journey, or if we would ever meet up again. My journey,
though forecasted, unfolded daily as if a dream in the making.
Then it hit me. No sea life. Anywhere! No seabirds,
no marine mammals for company, and heaven only knows what fishlife was around, I hadn't had to rely on any yet, such was the
well victualled state I was in. Yes, plentifulness hid a possible tragedy in the journey. What if? It almost begged the question
on multiple dimensions and parallel universes, but these were just foolish human theories and untested phantoms. I needed
to keep in touch with reality, and right now, a quarter of the way across the great wide Pacific Ocean, anything that seemed
a possibility bore the stroke of a brush painting it's own picture. The easel, half blank, started to make some sense, but
the fortunes held in the other half begged belief as they came to fruition. 'Aah so, Grasshopper' I let slip, at least I was
the brush in some great painters hand, not the painter himself.
That canvas beckoned each day, and each new day brought
a new stroke of the brush, both large and small. But for the time being, the same part of the picture was in dramatic slow
motion, as day after day beamed deep blue skies framing a royal blue ocean, and the gentle lap-lap of the waves against the
carbon fibre hull of my mobile sanctuary.
I sit back and daydream possibilities. I can. I am the pencil in the hands
of the great designer, well, one of many on the palette of life.
Destination - New Zealand
I lost my auto pilot. My life long friend, in a fierce South Easterly storm whipped up from the Sub Antarctic. I
lost my blase attitude to my life. I was @#%$ scared, and noone anywhere would have seen such a scared rabbit in all their
life. I was brought back to reality with a god almighty Thump!! and I loved it.
I was alive, I beat it, and I survived,
and then I realised. It hit me. Sydney Mason, formerly of London, England, now global racontuer, was meant to survive. But
'hector protector', I still marvey at such roar power and how I survived mostly by my own practical skills (got to get some
So I made a general decision to follow my nose, and by this great deduction, I missed the Pitcairn Island
settlement, swing past Tahiti, and after more days that my mind could fathom right off, I made contact with a volcanic island
that turned out to be Kermadec Island, a small Island to the NE of my destination.
I had then set forth in a Sou'west
direction and 800 miles later, made landfall with another small island, which under further investigation turned out to be
one of the large islands in the Hauraki Gulf, 45 miles from the mainland, or so the map at the store said. You guessed it,
no sign of life, though their did appear to be some recent activity around, but that could have been days or months ago.
sailed for the mainland, and the largest city, Auckland. A good breeze, some smart tacking skills, and 6 hours later I am
still sailing. No landfall! This disturbs me, as it is not how I had envisaged the scene.
I decide to sail south, and
after a journey of twelve hours, I make land fall and a few miles up from the foreshore is a small hamlet called Tirau. One
shop, one petrol pump, one small restaurant, and one owner judging by the light issuing from them all.
I anchor the
yacht, well try to, and in the end I have to Med moor the boat to the foreshore as the bottom is not there.
see her. About 30ish, long blonde hair, matted through lack of washing, or dreadlocked for effect (who knows). But she was
sturdy, almost reminded me of a Yorkshire farmgirl.
I waved. She saw me and waved too.
After a quick chat to
make sure the boat was safe, and that provisions could be sourced, we got down to business. She is originally from a place
called Palmerston North, but after the event, she moved north to see if anyone else survived. In the ensuing months, she has
travelled the length and breadth of New Zealands' North Island, now somewhat shorter by some 500 miles north of where we now
stood. Nearly 2,000,000 people were gone, and not many remained. She was aware of only one other she met on the North Island,
and he was a homeless hobo or hermit, who kept saying "Roger is Coming".
I asked her how the island had broken up,
if she had felt anything, any signs, and she was clueless, as I was. Sapphire, as her name turned out to be, refused my offer
to come aboard my trusty steed, but refused as she needed to stay here and await the return of her family and friends, if
they ever did. I didn't have to ask her, she showed all the signs, but I was curious. I asked her how she felt.
now sailing further south, to the South Island, wearing a comfortable bruise on my cheek, and one on my conscience. I need
to see if the island is in fact bare, also to provision, and to set sail for Singapore, via Australia, Indonesia and Borneo,
but first and foremost, get my autopilot repaired or replaced. I know the boats designer came from New Zealand, and surely
his designs are here too. Bound to be.
As for the missing quarter of this country, and it's 2,000,000 populace, that
fitted in with the prophecies made by the enduring folk way back in the rest home, but they were supposed to be here, not
out there somewhere, unless they had been relocated for some diverse reason beyond my fathoming.
Oh well, time to leave
thoughts to fantasies and head off to Singapore and a meeting of minds maybe. (OH, heck, small thought, are we really all