“The rest of us, not chosen for enlightenment, left on the outside of Earth, at the mercy of a Gravity we have only begun to learn how to detect and measure, must go on blundering inside our front- brain faith in Kute Korrespondences, hoping that for each psi-synthetic taken from Earth’s soul there is a molecule, secular, more or less ordinary and named, over here – kicking endlessly among the plastic trivia, finding in each Deeper Significance and trying to string them all together like terms of a power series hoping to zero in on the tremendous and secret Function whose name, like the permuted names of God, cannot be spoken” – Thomas Pynchon ‘Gravity’s Rainbow’ page 590.
Now, it starts with Curiosity. Not long into its exploration Curiosity found something quite peculiar. It was something that would have a chaotic effect on the British populous but not in any way you would expect. As Curiosity climbed stoically over a Martian hill like the ones printed in newspapers and across the internet, like turmeric hills, like mounds of hot chocolate powder that never dissolve in your milk, an image, blurry, Pixelated stood in the distance. As she skipped forward, the image became clear, and it was incredible. A top secret stamp could not stop the fingers of the mightiest internet savants from obtaining and spreading the information. On the surface of Mars was an eighteen foot tall, seven foot wide metal container, cylindrical and red, with one white stripe bent around its face. The holidays, they were coming for whoever thought of that idea.
What’s important here is not the reaction to one of the greatest adverts, probably in the entire universe. What’s important is how Coca Loca could afford it. As you would expect all manner of investigations and trials followed, politicians did ‘forget’, and actually celebrated Coca Loca’s achievement, but there were tax evasions, and politicians stood tall,
“Multi-national companies have been evading taxes for way too long,” you know, “we deserve to do this for the people it’s time we listened.”
It was a time for revenge, and what they uncovered was pretty weird. Under the disguise of a holiday, holy and blessed, and behind their cool summer refreshments, Coca Loca had test labs. As well as manufacturing (de)hydrating drinks, pumped full of caffeine and sugar, Coca Loca had developed serums for the military, and had been paid millions for their formulas, millions that were invested into lunar advertising.
It started innocently, but as time ticked and tocked, innocence churned into malevolence. Some call it serendipitous, others a grievous accident, for one morning at eight fifteen Geoffrey Moniker miscalculated ingredients integral to Cocalin, the serum Coca Loca had created to maximise adrenaline surges while minimising volume, as his wife Geraldine Moniker used her tonsils like a feather duster to reincarnate all of the sexual frustration that had withered and turned into dust on the very tip of Geoffrey’s cock. And there, after Geraldine had rid all of Geoffrey’s pipes of monsters (as their marriage had progressed Geoffrey’s Princess Peach fetish, that had started as a small boy marathoning all manner of Mario games, had grown to such heights that by the time Geraldine had swallowed, all that left his lips were the syllables, P-CH) there, bubbling, and spilling onto the floor, was Cocalinex, the harbinger of all psychic and telekinetic power in the world. There were alarms, red flashing, red phones ringing, red faces screaming, and of course, the red blood of Geoffrey, spilled by an orange eye.
Cocalinex was dumped into a river to avoid the flurry of journalists and paparazzo that had barricaded themselves around Coca Loca’s factories and distribution centres. Supposed to sink to the bottom of the river, and join other experiments that had failed, Cocalinex, as if it were aware of its own demise, managed to open its prison on the riverbed, and here it was led, meandering, rolling with sediment and pebble, the serum diluted and the river, a shade browner, was deemed sanitary as Farmer McCormick allowed his cows to drink from a natural resource. McCormick had suffered from angina a month before and had succumbed to the ease of letting Mother Nature provide for his flock.
Yeah, I know what you are thinking, there were psychic cows wandering around fields for a little while. Farmers were reported to have fled McCormick Farm after poltergeists, or the ghosts of animals past had ransacked a barn, throwing bales of hay in circular motions, and patting farmers on the head. McCormick said he never saw anything strange, but one night, slumped over a table at his local pub, witnesses said they heard him ranting about a strange mooing sound that used to plague him in his sleep. He heard, clicking, floorboards squeaking, and then, as if it came from the heavens, trumpets cocked, blowing the air into currents that swished and fingered through McCormick’s hair – moooo. He slaughtered them all, sending off parts, milk, meat, bones and cartilage, for all manner of glues, plastics and food. He gathered all his savings, sold the farm, and vowed never to have anything to do with cows again, no meat, no sight, he even smashed his grandchild’s soundboard after a little moo blurted from its speakers. Unfortunately for McCormick, he died a few nights later from an undercooked chicken breast. But twisting and turning in his grave, McCormick carried on the cow’s psychic legacy. Cocalinex is incredible fucking resilient, and so, it was in all manner of products to consume and apply. But let’s not forget that a river flows, it thunders down its path until it’s ejected from its mouth into the sea. Luckily Cocalinex was contained, as the river’s final destination was a sewage treatment site, the biggest in London. Here, the diluted serum festered, and created what was to be known as the red-stripe mosquito. They nested in the treatment sites, and flooded the city around it, proboscis’ lined with a thin film of the serum. Relax, the serum was so diluted by this point that it had returned to its original state, and all the red-stripe could do was give its victim a shot of adrenaline that woke many people from sleep, and caused many drunks to drop their glasses and bottles onto the pavement. There were a few reports of hallucinogenic trips after being bitten. Some claimed to have seen aliens, some reported kaleidoscopic vision, one man rather honestly reported, whilst taking a dump, he believed he was Charlie and Wonka demanded him to find all the chocolate in his house to find a golden ticket. Unfortunately, being severely lactose intolerant, he had none, and in his hallucinogenic state he found four of the largest bars of chocolate he had ever seen, right beneath him. Ashamed but tickled, he admitted that there was no golden ticket, but it was the crunchiest chocolate he had ever tasted, like a sloppy Picnic.
It was not long before the military recounted the sordid adventure, and the creation of Cocalinex, and it took them an even less amount of time to recall all products, recreate, reproduce, test and master its effects on human subjects. As you would expect it was all hush-hush. Its existence was noted in between swigs of scotch or through mouthfuls of crumpets and scones, whispered, quiet, quiet,
“We don’t want no trouble, you hear?”
The department – The Precautionary Psychic Production Department (PPPD) was hidden quite amiably underneath Elizabeth Tower; down a few hundred stairs, a left passed Ben’s secret caretaker (the one who secretly tickled Ben a second earlier every day), and here you come to two corridors, leading off like a ‘Y’. This is the big decision; left, takes you on a three mile trek under the Thames, down a corridor that gets smaller and darker, until all you can see are small lights, and if you hadn’t fainted by then, you would when you saw the bodies of several women and children strung up, through a hole in the dead end; right, is pretty similar, except that at the end of the corridor there is nothing but a podium and a button, which you would spend a few minutes debating whether to press or not, but as most do, when you press it you receive nothing but a small electric shock. The PPPD is hidden. Not between the two corridors, or aside either, but beneath, and it’s a bitch to get to. First, you have to open the hatch (don’t worry I won’t take up a whole season getting into it) to do this, you have to sing an ad jingle, any one, Frink knows them all. Then, Steve, the PPPD’s security guard, will open the hatch beneath your feet, tag you with a GPS device,
“just a precaution, mate”
and then lo and behold, there are more stairs. The clunk of your shoes echo as you travel further beneath the Thames, and finally, after you have followed the stairs like a rollercoaster, all directions, inclines, declines, but luckily no fucking loops, maybe if you had the courage to slide down the banister you could summersault through the incredibly pathetic dry wall that guards the entrance to, well, you know where we’re going.
It’s a strange place. Carpeted walls, Renaissance-style portraits of all manner of things, a clown in a yellow jumpsuit, meerkats personified on the beaches of Normandy, opera singers with curly moustaches, puppets holding bottled pasta sauce, a seaman harpooning a giant fish finger, a tiger on its hind legs dressed in a red bandana, a baseball capped, white-t’d monkey, eating what looks like dried rabbit faeces, strange alien blobs of red and yellow, with eyes, arms and legs, the further you go down the corridor, a corridor like the driveway of a one-percenter, the portraits are swapped for headstones, graves, chiselled into the likeness of their owners. There, hangs the headstone of Margaret Ashby, the unknown and oppressed inventor of the sock, Henry Hornsbury, the first transgender, as the epitaph reads across his forehead, to fuck, duck and dodge in Vietnam. It continues, the gallery of strange, wonderful people, who had affected or tried to change the world in insignificant ways, until you finally reach a black door. Now, if you were to have been in the PPPD at its prime, you would see Don Frink, a misled ad-man, smoking a cigar, sipping on scotch, talking of his plans for his small army of psychic operatives, but as we enter, all you see is an empty shell. Here, he sits crying, balding, his life’s work taken from his hands, and left interrupted. The effects of Cocalinex, and its presence dissipated, used up and traded, every last drop. Or glued to the DNA of his operatives, but most of them were killed on their first mission to pacify the impending threat of the IRA in Ireland.
There was a knock on the door. Hiding his tumbler in a wooden drawer, Frink opened the door to a man, whose face was covered by a dark abyss, his silver beard shaved, and his red and white combo incinerated like his skin. The lights directed at each portrait and headstone in the hallway bended back up the labyrinthian staircase, creating a strange river of light. To which, the man with no face, dressed in a long grey top coat and a brown fedora stood, centre, like a religious visitation, warped sinister by the emergence of small orange eyes, like crystals. As they opened and blinked, Frink fell back into his office.
“I gave you everything I had, please?”
“There’s unfinished business and Coca Loca wants what’s due.”
Frink crawled backward to some sort of safety, as the man took a step forward, and dropped a file onto the floor. In a split second, a howling of wind rushed over Frink’s body, the office door slammed shut, and the lights burst and spewed glass onto the floor. All the headstones had been removed; all the portraits had been ripped; the carpeted walls were singed to their original plaster; and above the staircase, next to the red button, Steve lay disembowelled. A strange whirring woke Frink from shock. The second generator had burst into life, and much like the file that lay by Frink’s feet, he could move forward; his greatest idea, his greatest plan, once shunned, was sanctioned. Frink stood up and felt the smile of millions of villains, antagonists, and B-movie monsters creep across his face.
Consequences, Dolly Dimples, consequences
Two of Don Frink’s operatives, Carlos Herrera and Jessica Wright, escaped the massacre in Ireland. After hiding in countless basements, barns and sheds, they managed to make it to a dock, where after much negotiating with an overweight docking guard, Jess’ knickers were ripped, Carlos’ pride sullen with the knowledge that he had traded his wife’s body for a journey in the luggage department of an old, rusting ferry boat. They despaired by different names in Wales. Nevertheless, Francesco Carlo and Rebecca Maloney managed to hitchhike to London, trying to put the ordeal behind them as it crept, under their conversations, under Carlos’ kiss, and over the celibacy that demanded Francesco to fall limp every time Rebecca stroked or licked his inner thigh. But, as Francesco had to remind himself, at least they had arrived, at least they were home. They flogged what they could, lived quiet and frugal, until they could afford a mortgage, when they both found jobs at small supermarkets, creaky garages, or insignificant offices that only seemed to exist because there needed to be a grindstone. Their only trouble, never simultaneous, lied in one of two things; the sight of shady suited, fedora’d men, who looked like they hunted the 39 steps or fought to keep you in a virtual reality, and the conceptually simple problems that came with raising two children. Their first, the product of the resilient guardsman’s sperm, Thomas never really amounted to anything other than an aggression and despondency that shook his bones. His father cried at Julian’s graduation, eighteenth birthday, and when Julian first confided his abilities to his father; where was Thomas’ praise? Where were his father’s tears that fell like an anchor through his stubble? Were they hidden in between their quick handshakes on his birthday? Were they hidden in unanswered emails and texts, or did they all fall the day Rebecca called the garage and told Francesco of his son’s suicide? They fell on spanners and discarded seatbelts, they spilled onto his steering wheel and digital watch, they ripped-roared through the ID cards of exhausted doctors and nurses (who had done all they could do, there wasn’t much to save when you were trying save the limp body of a twenty-four year old, who had smoked, swallowed and shot up all of his stash) they crawled, justified and breakable, into a cup of coffee, and they finally rested, as a fire raged in his garden, fuelled by every item of memorabilia Francesco had kept from his service in the PPPD. Francesco, in all his withering, watery might, resented himself and the many times he had plunged into Thomas’ mind looking for anything rotten, anything that resembled the guardsman. Each time he forgot to console, each time he forgot to listen, and each time he forgot to embrace his bastard son with his wide, wretched love.
Now, Francesco Carlo was sitting in his favourite armchair. Everything in place. He had his tea, Ginger was rubbing her tail against his shins, memorial candles flickered by his son’s ashes, a needle waited to scratch The Dark Side of The Moon into his headphones, and thank Christ, X factor had finished, so Rebecca had started to cook something for dinner. He had offered to help, but Rebecca thought she would do it by herself and treat him to a roast. She had nearly prepared everything. The lamb had been defrosting in a bowl of water for hours. The potatoes were peeled in the afternoon, and there was a click at the door. Rebecca, mindless, looking for help with the stuffing, wandered to the front door looking for Julian. Her squeak was inaudible, but before the quiet breeze, the ringing alarms and clanging clocks, Francesco turned. With the metronome tutting like a fish, and bass reverberating through his foam brackets, the lights of the house were pushed through the floorboards and into its foundation.
The Prodigal Son
She sat where thousands had before her. Knees touching, feet apart, floral dress tight against her thighs, tights, no ladders, wavy brown hair, fringe, green eyes, inquisitive, lost, like she had never been on the Piccadilly line until the moment Julian saw her. White wires ran from her ears to her palms, the excess was wrapped around her hand, where names, numbers or directions were smudged, faded into the layers of her skin. He watched her eyes dance around the carriage, avoiding all the interested eyes, studying each aspect of her demeanour, deciding upon each asset according to their preferences. They are the reluctant, altogether awkward predators, roaring mice, with intentions that found fulfilment in between their dirty ear lobes. They leant against the curved carriage walls, plugged in. They stood, hand grappling a metal pole, a newspapers’ crossword half-empty. They sat sleepy, rucksacks at their feet. And Julian, self-taught, paranoid and lonely enough to paint such a picture, he is not exempt. He stands, and was plugged in, until he found a reason to pause.
He wondered what she was thinking. He looked into the window, stared into the dark, watched the light, the reflection, her face hovering, ethereal, atmospheric, like a visitation, a hovering vestige of beauty and youth, melancholic in its art; like orange bulbs of light that glide over London at night, quiet, still, then unbelievable momentum, acceleration beyond any kind of comprehension, and gone, just in time for the pigeonhole of understanding to explode with countless possibilities; like a break in the wave, a sudden eruption from below the surface, a ‘T’ lifting high into the air, the tail of some creature hidden by the millions of tonnes of matter that hum and swish with the moon, and gone just in time for the majesty, the supreme belittlement of what we are, and how significant we may be returns – don’t press the snooze button; like a whisper, a creak, a shadow cast at the door, a body, hollow, weep, weep, you can’t eat, silhouettes sing in silence, no bone no blood, just heart, shake, there is no reason, no logic, then sleep, try, hardly sleep, and you are haunted.
The adoration Julian had aimed at her reflection had changed into a desire, filled with a twenty-something-naiveté, that disguised his feelings with something like love. He prepared himself as the train blundered on, lean, black hair, legs lanky but surprisingly proportionate, eyes filled with that strange affliction where they were always on the verge of tears, a shirt printed with the picture of an Alaskan mountain view; trees, snow tipped mountains, and Borealis dancing bright like Flubber, fashionably baggied by board members and two-bit conglomerate designers; trousers choking his calves, and loafers projecting a certain strain of fashionable sophistication. Here, framed within the demeanour of his winter coat, a sanded brown, half-zipped, bomber jacket, Julian delved into her mind.
There was nothing but a few decimals of noise, phut-phutting through the hum of her thought. And images; portraits of the sea, turbulent but strangely peaceful, postcards, fairgrounds, Blackpool and Brighton Pier shrouded in a navy twilight, shooting neon bullets at the technophobic gods, where the image focused, zoomed and blurred into a nightclub. Daiquiris, palm trees, in September?!, nothing can stop the actions of young adults, when they aspired to some sort of inebriation, legal or illegal; she drank, smoked and snorted, she flirted, danced, and dougied, she kissed, sucked and fucked (it hurt him to see that), without much reason at all, except the parenthesising “YOLO” that followed every blunder or poor decision. Snapshots; bed sheets shrouded by dim lamplight, a congealed kebab, half-eaten cold chips,
“they taste alright though, Steph”
shower, puke, pink and brown, like that time at Boris’, or after Yasmin’s gathering, who was that guy?, he was cute, I should add him on Facebook. She picked her phone from her jacket pocket, and then white noise. Julian, stepped outside the train carriage to a creamy twilight, and headed home longing for the crunch of his mother’s roasted potatoes.
Sanjay Mahasalei ticked and tocked. An hour ago, he was sitting in his room recharging. Coca Loca had a lot of work for him to do, it was all building up to something, but he had no idea what. He couldn’t even say why he was even sitting on a doorstep, waiting for a guy called ‘Julian’. Sometimes, he wondered whether he would be able to comprehend, but the periphery of morality ran on a voltage deadly to the circuitry that operated him. So, he sat and waited, thinking of the life he used to lead. It was filled with sleepy Sunday mornings, family gatherings on every Man U match day, a smorgasbord of food; man, the food his mother made!, curried dahl, whole jerked chickens, and the way she used to fry her chana in garlic and rosemary – it was delicious. His family home soaked the flavour every time she cooked. But the man took him in, sparkled those Satsuma’s, and after years of rigging bombs in Dublin, spying on space programs, and bribing and blackmailing military men, MPs and governing departments, Sanjay had become a chauffeur for a psychic. Nevertheless, he was glad he would never have to touch a bomb again.
“Hi, can I help you?”
“Yeah, mate, something happened, I need you to come with me.”
“What do you mean?”
“The PPPD found out about your parents, and they have been taken for one last mission, to gain freedom.”
It wasn’t far from the truth, but there was no freedom to be won. Julian stood facing the decision. He could feel the power of it, the certainty that what happened here would change whatever hopes he had of the evening, or even the next few days. Julian tried – TSSSSHHH. Another mind devoid of any thought. Julian pushed past Sanjay, and found his house clean. It was never clean. There were always mounds of ginger cat hair piled on the sofa, the skins of vegetables, poultry, or ready meals on the kitchen counter, and the smell of his mother’s cigarettes. When Julian walked in, it smelt like flowers, his mother hated flowers; she would always ask for a letter when a present was due, whether it was a nonsensical rambling on love or emotion, a poem or a limerick. Once, when Julian was five he had given her a poem in his own language, and she loved it for the sense he didn’t realise he was making:
Fol doyn to D flur
‘ry kry sumur
tyem tyem, nun fer mh
nun fer oo
lov lov, ets ul e kn du.
…it was removed from the fridge…
The Angel Dusting
Frink and his suitcase sat, stool to stool, at a gastro-pub with fancy-cheap food and the most popular ciders and beers on tap. He was told to wait and order two scotches, but by the time the barmen changed shifts, he had absorbed four. The new server searched under the bar, while bubblegum-electro-pop drove most of the middle aged clientele ragged,
It’s time to dancedancedancedance
Get on the floorfloor
Put on the Dior, Guuchi, gimme more
Bounce up on the floorfloorfloor
Time to make them boys want more, he he he
the barman found a glass wrapped in paper, and looked for the Scotch Frink was supposed to have ordered.
“I drank it.” Frink offered.
“Well, the toilet’s there – this cup.”
Piss or vomit, Frink forgot to ask. They knew him well enough to know that he would drink the other glass, it was some kind of joke, but he was too scared to be angry, even at the bartender. Yellow – nothing. Orange – nothing. Both – there we go. He turned left out of the bathroom, and went down into the cellar, he walked to a poster of Justin Bieber, he licked his finger, ran it across the infamous fringe, and the wall opened to a six foot wide cubby hole filled with boxes that had instructions written in Chinese. It was a device the Chinese had been planning to use on the Japanese, but after tensions had nearly exploded over oil, Coca Loca decided to buy it off them; it was a trade, Cocalin for the device, needless to say, the Chinese weren’t happy.
Julian couldn’t sleep; Sanjay ticked and tocked even as he slept. All he could hear was the whirring of electricity travelling through Sanjay’s chest. From the house, Julian tried to interrogate Sanjay, but there was only so much he was told, and even little he was willing to say. Julian couldn’t tell which side the android was on, his or the PPPD’s. But Julian plodded along with him, to the department, past three charred bodies, down hundreds of steps, to walls like a derelict warehouse, to an empty office ransacked and covered with glass. From here, he went to the closest bed money could buy, and tried to sleep.
The carpet shushed as he shut the door and wondered over its purple flower print, past the white walls, down to the bar. A few men sat next to the window looking out over Putney Bridge. Julian sat and waited to be served. Unlike a gastro-pub, it was more like an appendage, what else was there to do with an empty room, other than make a place for insomniacs and rich drunks to drink until the sun rolled over London. A waitress in a purple shirt wandered over to him. She asked him if he was alright, almost sincerely, and what he wanted to drink. She poured a pint, and started to talk.
“I never understood why it’s called the graveyard shift, yeah, the grounds keeper is bored and probably depressed, but what about all the dead people, they must be having a fucking great time.”
She managed a smile from the depths of Julian’s solemnity; she was not pretty, nor pleasant, or extraordinarily funny or nice. Her sarcastic nature, one that had protected her from the claws of secondary school and pubescent boys, professed a deep displeasure with everything around her, and so, Julian, laughed not at her, or with her, but around her facade, so that he would be left untouched by her slime-sight. Needless to say, after four beers, it did not stop him from hiding under his bed sheets and thinking about her.
It was his shlucking noise that set off Sanjay’s motion sensor. A silent assassin was in the room, ready to fry his circuits; Coca Loca had found out what happened Ireland?…maybe Julian had an itch?…maybe it was the fedora’d man, but Julian was still in his bed, and the duvet was moving ferociously. It was obvious, how did he not realise? Julian was crying. Of course, why else would he move like that? Sanjay turned his head from Julian toward the ceiling. Sanjay hadn’t cried in a long time. He didn’t know if he could.
Once Julian had finished and begun to snore, Sanjay sat on the edge of his bed and looked out at the Thames whirring toward Wandsworth. The roads began to fill with cars and buses like volts, adhering to the red, green and amber regulators, it was run by brothers, but they never had a life, they never felt the sweet urgency of breathe, breathe – I hope I don’t die today. He hadn’t thought of dying in a long time, and wondered if there was a breaker that would shut him down if he tried. Maybe he could roll into Julian’s bed and try and get some of his tears to fry his motherboard, the core, injected deep into his arm, which spread mechanical veins through his body. The real veins, his humanity, had shrunk and dried. Like Julian, he was the survivor of an experiment gone wrong, another attempt of innovation star-crossed with failure. He knew he couldn’t kill himself anyway, even if he had the opportunity. If he wanted, he could open the window, and back flip into the Thames, no one would notice. Humanity; was that it? The stubborn will to stay alive twinned with the desire to die? Sanjay sat and waited to chauffer.
He was definitely crying now. Julian had woken up at 10:30 am; he, fought a desert of dehydration with the sparse lukewarm jets of the hotel shower, flipped his boxers inside-out, brushed his teeth with his finger, flicked and flipped his hair, was followed to the breakfast buffet by his new BFF, and saw the article:
Bodies Found in Elizabeth Tower
Three bodies were found in Elizabeth Tower last evening. Police are investigating the deaths as a triple homicide, and have apprehended a suspect, whose name has not been released. The bodies have been identified as Steve Humdinger, and Francesco and Rebecca Carlo. If anyone has any information about the victims…
Sanjay watched Julian crumbled onto the dining table and did as he was alerted.
“What do you want to do, mate? …We have a few options. The police must be looking for you now. You shouldn’t speak to them. Coca Loca wouldn’t want that kind of publicity. They try very hard to avoid it. So, would you like to accompany me to the HQ, the real one?”
Julian closed his eyes and listened to the vibrations in the laminated wood. He couldn’t tell whether they were the distant vibrations of cars and vans spluttering on double yellow lines, or the vibrations of the voice boxes that mumbled in grey indistinguishable tones around him. He could hear the faint ticker of Sanjay, the low clicking he heard last night had turned into a light tick that seemed to assist the percussion of the Reichesque symphony that had started to flood into Julian’s ears. The sound of cellos jutted in and out of the table, stuttering like electric eels. Xylophones looped simple melodies up and down scales, over clinking pianos. It was an ambient confounding loop meshed together, and it was beautiful, it was calm, it was the summer of ninety-five, and Julian has just finished school, Thomas has a few days left, but Julian is done, and Julian can do what he wants, he wants to stay up until nine watching television and eating ice cream, and in the morning he wants to play, maybe go to Jerome’s house and watch the wrestling, the Undertaker is fighting Kane, and daddy is going to drive him, after double Rugrats, but Julian hears a strange noise, marimbas clonking, strings discordant, and an image floods in, orange eyes, Julian does not like it, Julian does not like it, and mummy runs to Julian, daddy makes a phone call, and they are off, Julian lying down on the car seats, mummy is crying, daddy says he can’t read anything,
“there’s nothing in his head, there’s not even white noise, Rebecca”
Julian can see a white light, clean, dancing through the branches, thundering down the gaps of houses and alleyways, through the fleshy tint of his eyes, Julian feels his body lift, his name, his name, and a cold table, but Julian isn’t here, he says, Julian is going, Julian is going where it’s calm, Julian is going where it’s beautiful. He tried to find the vibrations, the talk of politics and daily chores, and the humming of exhaust pipes. He tried to find Sanjay’s ticking in the dark, there was only silence. He tried to move, and speak, but Julian was gone.
Don Frink flushed the toilet with a loud and triumphant war cry. There was nothing better than taking a dump after you had accomplished something. All he had to do now was wait for the man, hope that he had connected the machines correctly, and then he could pour Francesco’s blood into Vial Compartment A, and then Rebecca’s into Vial Compartment A(ii), flick some switches, and press the ‘開始’ that he assumed meant ‘START’. He didn’t want to know how the man had taken the blood from their bodies, but while he waited for him, he heard trumpeting not dissimilar to elephants. He was covered with a bright blue light that flickered from the lounge windows. There was no shouting or screaming, no pleading or whispers for mercy, that scared Frink the most. But now, as he skipped up the stairs to the roof of the 1016ft, 310 metered, shard that tore into London’s skyline, he could do nothing but whistle.
London was dark, no lights shone up to where Frink stood; the man was here. Frink looked about him, and saw his orange eyes next to the 開始button. Cocalinex swirled, content.
“Thank you, Don. Coca Loca is pleased. We would not have been able to do this without you.”
“No problem. I was wondering whether I could press-”
An almighty gust of wind lifted Frink off his feet; there was nothing but the poles of traffic lights, and ventilation shafts poking out of roofs to save him from the pavement floor. As he fell, he heard the machine start, and saw a white light flood the sky, tinted with red. There were no thoughts of his mother or father, brother or sister, lover or love-lost, all Frink could think of before he died, was his unquenchable thirst, and the antidote that fizzed in tin cans.
He looked everywhere, but Sanjay Mahasalei could not find Julian. He looked underneath the dining table, in the kitchen, in the bar, in their room; he was nowhere to be found. Coca Loca wouldn’t be happy; the man would not be happy, first he accidently killed all of Frink’s operatives in Ireland, now, he had lost Julian. Sanjay sat where he had last night, where thousands had sat before him. He looked out of the window to see a bus parked on a red line, hazard lights flashing. He wondered downstairs as people rushed passed him. They were frantic, children chased after their parents, not crying, but running with the same determination. As the automatic doors of the hotel opened Sanjay saw people running up the street and joining a queue. It bended around the corner, and Sanjay followed. The queue lead, down streets and streets, to an ice cream van, the vendor shouted that he was out of stock, and eventually the van was tipped, and the faceless people ran to find another shop. Sanjay stood in the middle of the road looking at the chaos, car alarms had started to beep in unison, and voices were raised and blended together in a chorus of demands. He was confused. The sociability he had witnessed since his transformation was gone; a man bludgeoned a child with a hammer. The complacent eyes he had looked into and admired were now strained and manic. It was as if they were following a musical lead, dancing with rushes of violence and malice. He understood it now, and that was wrong, he shouldn’t be able to, he knew that. It was something he was programmed to misunderstand. So, he stood, looking around, they were no different to him, they were controlled. He looked at the people running around him, trying to ask what had happened, when did they turn into monsters, when did they take life over metal tins,