Day 131: What did you dream about last night?

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It was the hand. An ancient hand, three times as tall as any man, descending from the heavens and anchoring in the garden. Broken fingernails, chipped and bloodied, grasped at the earth, fighting for purchase in the loose soil. It found it.

Anchored against the howling winds, the hand began to set down roots. Bark exploded from the ground before wrapping the hand in a crushing embrace. Thunder rolled and lightning flashed as the fingers buckled under the weight. More materials joined the fray, with sheets of stone and steel swirling around the crumbling carcass of the hand.

The sheets thudded in, leaving a dome of the materials in the centre of the garden. The storm left, as quickly as it had arrived.

There was silence. Not a single sound.

No wind.

No rain.

Not even my own breathing until it happened.

A deafening heartbeat crawled across the landscape, flattening distant hills and tearing up the ancient earth. I was watching a world reborn in those moments, a lifetime compressed into a nanosecond and then stretched to infinity. Endless cycles of collapse and rebound until I understood.

The dome. The wood, the stone and the steel.

It was an egg.

There came a light thud, like a knock on a door. Two quick raps, but loud enough to set the whole thing trembling. Again. Again. Thud thud. Thud thud. Mimicking that omnipresent heartbeat, a parrot hearing the cry of the universe.

A crack appeared. Followed by another, more and more until the whole dome shattered and flew apart into the distance.

There before me, gleaming in the dawning sun stood…

***

I awoke in a pool of sweat as the dulcet tones of Kylie Minogue encouraged me to do the Locomotion. I had been so close this time, but once again I didn’t know what was waiting inside the egg. It’s been two weeks since the dreams began. Matches up with all the crazy goings on out in the world.

Not that the world going to pot was going to get me out of going to school. Apparently “People are literally getting superpowers” doesn’t get you out of your homework. Neither does “I had the weird dream again”.

Things are changing. I just needed to see who, or what, was waiting inside the egg.

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 130: Make a case for your favourite fruit

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Hear me out on this one guys, but you’ve got to try it. Pomegranate. It is the future man. I read in a book once that if everybody had pomegranates for breakfast, the crime rate would decrease significantly.

Why, I hear you ask?

Because the criminals are so busy eating a pomegranate!

Also, think about the juice. Best juice I ever tasted was pomegranate. I remember it well. I was five years old (early starter, probably due to the pomegranates) and Dad had taken me to the supermarket. We were in the juice aisle and I picked up a carton and refused to let go. The only way to get what you want, I want to point out.

He tried to get me to put it back.

I refused.

He tried to make me give it to him to put back.

No way, Jose. I know your game. ]He wheedled, he pleaded, he coaxed and he begged but in the end he gave up and just bought the carton of juice. He also bought a pomegranate there and then.

I’ve never looked back.

The possibilities are endless. Imagine the scene in Forrest Gump where Bubba talks about the shrimp? It’s like that, but it’s the greatest fruit in the world.

Besides, I saw in an article that they promote healthy brain work and an elegant nature. Clumsy people? Eat pomegranates.

Mic drop.

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 129: Write two prayers for your character. One to be said in private, one to be said in public.

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Public: 

Father. Watch over us as we go about our business. Keep us safe in the danger and stimulated in the boredom. Keep us warm in the cold places and cool when we stray into the warmth. Protect us from the ravages of this world. Protect us from the war, the famine, the pestilence that chooses to strike wherever it so wishes and protect our lands from the horrifying wake that these destructions leave behind. Leave me and the people I live for be, let us live and work as we do, with our hearts and our words and our deeds only for God.

Let us be free under your sight, roam like animals in an enclosure of which we know not the bounds. Let us make our mistakes, but have you to guide us from those mistakes. Allow us to conquer our demons and have you watch from the sidelines, a supportive parent rather than an overenthusiastic coach.

Let freedom be the thing we truly hold dear.

Amen.

Private:

Father. You know that my faith has been tested. That my devotion to you has been shaken to its very core time and time again with each new evil that has been revealed, the Yapperslee, the Abismals, the Sumerile. With each emergence, my faith has been shaken as I wait for you appearance, a guiding light, a new hope with which to lead us.

Father, brother, whatever role you seek to fill. Appear to me. Show me what it is you want from me. But give me the strength not to show my doubt, not to show my fear that we aren’t on the correct side. Without your assurance, what are we but savages following a blind leader?

Teach me how to survive. Teach me how to thrive with you at my side.

For thine is the hour, the power and the glory.

Amen

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Points for everyone wh0 could tell I’ve been on holiday. Early posts and now I’m back… It’s gone midnight.

Day 128: Your favourite quote

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‘I am become death, destroyer of worlds.’ This is what came to Oppenheimer’s mind when he saw the power of the atomic bomb.

I prefer what he actually said. ‘It worked.’

It’s all progress. If the price of progress is war, then it is one I will gladly see paid again and again. The Vishnu Project is worth it. See, the Manhattan Project was all about splitting the atom and energy. Mine is about clearance. Vishnu is truly become death. It breaks down the molecular structure of any living material.

We actually modelled it after a creation from a early 21st children’s book. The blue rinse, they called it. Of course, as described it was ridiculous. But Vishnu…

The possibilities are endless.

The war applications are endless. But progress must be served. We stopped using nuclear weapons after the 21st century. There will never be a use of Vishnu in anger. The cost would be too great.

But if that is the price of progress…

Professor Oberon Hardy, San Paliette Institute for Molecular Science
14th December 2209, 13:08
Private Log Entry 0021

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 127: Leaving home

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‘Come along, come along. You know the drill. Two years, that’s all the time you get. Did you learn anything?’ I looked around at the piles of bags. This was my life, in four suitcases and three cardboard boxes. They weren’t even the large cardboard boxes, more like the classic ones that people get when they’re told to clear their desks.

That’s what this felt like. It wasn’t leaving home. It was getting the sack. But a two-year tenure is all you get, unless people want to keep you.

People never want to keep me.

‘He was just far too sullen.’ That was the Buckleys. I thought they were nice, and I tried. I tried so hard to smile and be happy but there was always the threat of that two year sentence. It only got worse on that

‘We just couldn’t get through to him.’ The Rashid family, of New Birmingham. They never even tried. They threw stuff at me in the hope that I’d stay quiet and leave them alone. They only wanted me for the credits. I’d been twelve years old when I started. When I left, I swear I was fifty.

‘He only cares about himself. He wouldn’t lift a finger to help.’ The Harpers. They never even noticed. I did little things. I was waiting for them to ask me but they never did. Not once.

The Hollands said that I was rude and truant. I learnt every day, I just didn’t learn it from them. Which brings us to now.

‘We’re really sorry. He’s just so unruly and insists on associating with those rejects. The ones that weren’t claimed. We don’t know what he does, or where he goes, but he comes in at all hours covered in I can only hope is mud and…’ Marianne descends into sobbing. Must be useful, being an actress when it comes to handing children back to a state that doesn’t care. Mister Robson (I’d never been allowed to call him Mark) just stared on quietly. He’d said maybe four words to me in the entire two years.

Bastard.

Mr Ellison called me to the car. ‘You realise you’re going to have to try. This is your last one. After that, you’re stuck with the Outcasts. You’ve seen them already, I hear.’ He shuddered. Only the naughty children go to the Outcasts.

‘Then why don’t you take me on Mr Ellison?’ I asked, far more sharp and bitter than I’d intended. He looked at me from the front seat as I climbed inside, a pitying smile passing across his face.

‘If only I could, Jeremy. If only I could.’

He sat silent for a moment, as if he’d forgotten whatever he was about to say. Then he burst back into life, Mr Ellison, chief of placement. ‘Still, I’ve got a wonderful place for you to go next. I have high hopes for this one. It’s a young man, who lives on his own. He’s an artist, like you. I think you have a lot to offer each other. What do you say?’

I hated the fact that he still talked to me the same way he did when I was six. As if each new household was just a reset instead of two years of my life that had been wasted. But he tried. With each one he tried. So I did too. ‘Let’s do it.’ I said with a grimace he couldn’t see, as I watched the withered trees flash by.

The Idiot in Tin Foil

 

Day 126: Where you wish you were

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It’s been four weeks since I found Escala. Fourteen people who made it through the blast, none of them showing any signs of mutation or radiation issues.

Their doctor hadn’t made it.

They had a ritual. Every day, they gathered in what passed for a town square and had circle time. I know, a pre-school ritual turned into a lifeline for these survivors. There was only ever one topic.

Where you wish you were instead of Escala.

Caroline, the woman that would have been Mayor if this had been a serious settlement, always went first. ‘When I was a girl, my parents had a cottage in the woods. We would go there in the summer, spend long days carefree and joyful while my parents held the fort at home. There was my brother, my sister and me. We all had different interests, but that little cottage catered to them all. My sister loved to bake. Not a day went by when the smell of freshly baked bread, or pastries, or pies didn’t float through the branches. There was a windmill just five minutes up the road and they’d always give Annabel her flour for cost. She paid them in smiles and would always take them the last piece. “One for the millers.” Every time Derren went for that final piece, that’s what she’d say. Usually she was chasing him away with a wooden spoon.’ She’d relax into the memory by this point, feeding it piecemeal to the hungry people sat around her. ‘Derren was always out hunting. Papa had given him a bow and arrow when he was a boy, and Derren had taken it to heart. He came back one day with a stag. Struggled back with it for a good couple of miles.’

She shook her head. ‘Derren never trusted guns. They were too loud, too unreliable. But the bow, that was always the way to get things done. He could hit a squirrel from 30 yards.’

She always paused there, to let the feat sink in. It didn’t matter that they’d heard this story so many times before, there was always an appreciative oooh from that captive audience. ‘Me, however, I was an explorer. Mother and Papa always kept that cottage stocked with pencils and paper, and I would explore and make maps. They’re probably all still there, locked up in that tiny little cottage in the woods.’ This is where a tear would make an entrance, if that nights performance were featuring tears. ‘But that’s where I’d be. Safe and warm in my cottage in the woods.’

She sat down to a round of applause. I joined in halfheartedly. I couldn’t understand this town, with their rituals. They were so caught up in the past that they could see nothing of the future, simply letting the time pass them by until another disaster came along.

‘… and that’s where I’d be if I weren’t in Escala.’ That guy wanted to be in the Everglades. The next fancied Birmingham, in the United Kingdom. Not that there was a United Kingdom to turn to anymore. A bunch of fractured states, fighting for scraps, that’s all that was left of that once great nation.

‘I’d be in Buffalo. My sister lived in Buffalo.’ The young woman across from Caroline said. Her raven hair covered the left half of her face, but her right eye was deep and intense. I often caught her staring at me during these sessions. As if she knew that I was waiting for the moment to say it.

One by one, each of the sheep went up to the slaughter. Cleveland. New Zealand. Ontario. Places and people and feeble reasoning, falling like dominoes until the only one left standing was me. They all looked at me, eagerly awaiting the rehearsed speech about the houseboat on a canal in Derbyshire. They weren’t getting that today.

‘Where would I rather be than Escala?’ I said, rising from my lawn chair. ‘Future Escala. I’d rather be in the town that this town could be. Look at you all!’ I gestured to the group, looks of confusion spreading across their faces. ‘Harold, I know you were a trained mechanic. Now you’re happy to whinge and whine about how nothing can get in or out? There are trucks everywhere. Fix one!’

I saw Harold murmur, fighting to stay in the happy-clappy impromptu town that had a Harold shaped depression inside. ‘But I left that life behind.’ He whispered, barely audible.

Audible enough though. ‘We all left our lives behind, Harold. We didn’t choose to, those lives were ripped away from us. But we have a choice, here, today. Listen to me. Escala has the potential to be a thriving heart, a harbour for those lost souls still out there. But we can rebuild this place into the place it should be.’ I could see that I was getting through, but it was like hammering jelly to a tree.

‘People! What if, when other towns sit and ask where they would rather be, they said Escala? If they sought you out, bringing lost loves and families together. There’s more than enough material for homesteads.’ I could see the raven-haired girl nodding, more enthusiastically with each word. It buoyed me along, getting me swept up in my own words.

Caroline stood up then, taking the wind from my sails. She was an imposing presence and without her, this plan was never going to work. ‘You’re right, Patrick.’ She smiled at me, losing years in the process. ‘We can make Escala the centre of a new community.’

I held my breath. Caroline was one to give orders after an epiphany. She didn’t disappoint.

‘Harold, see if you can get the delivery truck on main street started. Sharon, you and Melanie are to scout the businesses further up the highway. I want everything edible, drinkable and anything that will help us live. Carter…’ Her orders went on for a while. I couldn’t believe that this was all she had needed. The raven-haired girl (I really have to get her name) slipped away, having received her orders from Caroline.

I’d seen the potential in this place as soon as I got here.

There’s only so much circle time anybody can take. Besides, my old life could stay firmly behind me. I didn’t want anybody finding me.

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 125: The Art of Love

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‘Son, there’s only one thing to know about the art of love. That’s how to make her, or him, I ain’t gonna judge, think it was their idea.

You see, you want to go fishing for the weekend. How do you think you go about that? You think you turn to your partner and say ‘I wanna go fishing?’ Nope. Absolutely not. Say that to your mum and she’s gonna come up with fifty thousand reasons you’ve got to stay home. Favourite one I ever heard? ‘You can’t go fishing, you daft old coot, Norma’s husband’s brother is in town and we agreed three years ago that the next time he was in town we were all going to go out for dinner?

I knew nothing of the sort. But it just goes to show why you can’t be direct. You say, ‘Darling, what do we have planned this weekend?’ and she’ll tell you her plans. So, you tell her ‘It’ll be great for you to spend some time with the girls, get some cocktails, have a proper catch-up.’ See, at this point, she’s thinking that it would be fun, it would be great to have some time with the girls. But then… ‘What will you do? I thought we were all going to go out?’ This is the crux, the point of convergence. Fuck this up and kiss goodbye to those trout.

‘I don’t know, I figured I’d just cast about all weekend. Find something to do while I’m bobbing about.’ See what I did with that? Where I used fishing related terms in what seemed like a normal statement? She’s got cast and bobbing in her head and then…

‘Perhaps you and the guys could go fishing? Take the boat up to Lake McElderry?’ At which point you thank her profusely for the idea and ask her if she’s sure. Then, you’re sorted. You and the lads head up to the lake, get some trout, get some beers and have a whale of a time away from the women.

That’s the art of love.’

Peter paused for a while. ‘That’s fair enough but Dad…’

‘Yes Pal?’ His father replied, leaning back in his chair and raising the pipe to his lips.

‘That doesn’t tell me how to ask Charlene out.’

Dad paused, a whisper of smoke coiling from the bowl. ‘I may have got a little of track there… Where did I start?’

‘Well, your exact words – twenty minutes ago,’ Peter said the last part in a hushed voice. Dad had a tendency to take things as an affront, ‘Were “You should just walk up to her and say…” Then you started talking about you and Mum.’ Peter shrugged. ‘Maybe I should ask her…’

The panic rushed into Dad’s eyes as he thought of his wife giving relationship advice. He spluttered his way into a new story. ‘So, you walk up to her and you say…’

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 124: Write a love letter to a person you dislike.

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Dear Maria,

I would like you to know that I am not writing this letter because I wish to, but because my hormones refuse to let me stop thinking until I have crafted this letter. Of course, with my perfectionist nature, I am troubled with the task of making this a wondrous piece of writing that will set the stars ablaze in the future, while in my heart a war rages between my disgust and my love.

Maria, every time I see you my heart begins to war with itself. In my head I find you repellent, a cooper’s daughter who is clumsy, rude and downright abominable in her manner of speaking. Yet my heart fills with love, churning as a stomach is wont to do following a night of drinking. I should, nay, I must find you repellent as a man of my standing, but I appear to desire that I would have you in ways other than your position as a servant.

Maria, why do you vex me so? I am committed to my work and yet you insist on stealing, unannounced and unwelcome into my thoughts. I have a taste for blondes and yet your hair is brown. I like eyes in which I can see everything on the surface and yet your blue eyes pull me in. Even your voice, coarse and harsh, cuts through to my ears as if it were the finest melody.

Maria, I wish to meet with you. I wish to find out who I should follow, my heart or my head. Should I find your company as repellent as indeed I should, then consider this our final correspondence. However, should my heart prove to be correct and your flaws turn out to be virtues, then I beg of you to keep this letter and the many that will follow.

Meet me by Hangman’s Tree at midnight, three days hence.

I will be waiting.

Yours,

Ernest Cartwright, heir elect to the Duchy of Caporstun

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 123: The menu for your last meal

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To start,

White truffles, none smaller than one and a half pounds, garnished with Amabito No Moshio, lightly fried in saffron infused argan oil. 

To drink with the starter will be a bottle of 1811 Chateau d’Yquem. Perfect accompaniment. 

For the main course,

Kobe Beef & Matsutake mushrooms. Rare, mushrooms to be steamed so as to allow for the full flavour to infuse. The steak must come in at at least three pounds prior to cooking. This will be accompanied by half a pound of Almas Caviar and a bottle of 1992 Screaming Eagle Cabernet  Sauvignon. 

For dessert, 

Three separate Chocopologies with a Dom Perignon Charles and Diana 1961. 

Finally, as an aside, there will be one of every item from the McDonalds menu available. 

 

The guard looked at the list, then raised his eyebrows skeptically. ‘You realise they’re never going to agree to any of this, right? It’s a ludicrous amount of food.’

I smiled and shrugged. ‘A man’s got to try.’ He folded the piece of paper and slid it into his jacket pocket.

‘I’ll see what I can do.’

I walked back from the bars, making sure that nobody could see my face as I let out a small laugh. Of course they weren’t going to agree to it. The question was how long would it take them to come to a decision about it?

And would it be long enough for Pierre to get here with that damn crew of his and get me out?

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 122: What a character wearing something red is thinking

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Welcome to the world. You’ve heard the expression about wearing your heart on your sleeve? Well, a government study back in the fifties showed that sixty percent of crimes are committed on the grounds of misread emotions. This set the brains at the top thinking about how we could fix this.

It took them fifty years, but they came up with The Suit. Mandatory dress, issued at birth and grafted to the surface of the body. It works alongside a chip implanted in the amygdala, reading your emotions and projecting them outwards. It doesn’t matter if you wear clothes, even if you cover anything, it projects from the eyes. Everything you wear shows your emotions in glorious technicolor.

So, somebody’s feeling down? They’re blue. Envious is green. Pride is purple. It ranges across the whole spectrum, but me? Right now?

I’m in red. Everybody knows that anger is red.

That bastard. After everything I’ve done for him and he pulls off a stunt like this? I watched it happen. I’d been feeling on edge all day, colours running up and down my arms as my emotions tried to assert themselves when I’d seen him walk out of my flat.

The flat that I shared with Laura. He had absolutely no reason to be there at five, but I was supposed to be at work until half past. There he goes, strutting away with a radiant yellow glow.

I watched the red flow up my arm, coupled with heat. I wasn’t going to stand for this. That bastard wasn’t going to make me a cuckold. My whole body turned a savage, deep red, so much so that I was sure I was radiating heat.

I stormed up the stairs, smashing through the thin wooden door. ‘Laura!’ I screamed. I heard the shower running, her laughing to herself. Probably about her tryst with Oscar. ‘Laura!’ I saw the hammer lying on the side. I’d been fixing the pipework and she’s been screwing Oscar.

It appeared in my red hand. I don’t know how and I didn’t care. I burst through the bathroom door.

She looked at me and screamed, white teeth in her golden face as the hammer came down. The bright orange of panic flashed from her fingertips but never covered her completely. The hammer put a stop to that.

I hit and I hit and I just wouldn’t stop. Again and again, the hammer rising and falling like a cleaver in the hands of a butcher. But with every motion, a small piece of sky blue broke against the red. Calm, starting in my fingertips and moving, swing by swing, up my body.

The water crashed down around her unrecognisable gold and orange body, deafening me as I stared at my blue and red hands.

Blue because of the suit and the calm that had arrived.

Red because of the blood. Laura’s blood.

Then the emptiness kicked in. The blue faded to a deep, lonely black.

I was alone.

The Idiot in Tin Foil