Friday, 25 March 2011

After the Revolution - Part 9

Good morning, all! This is the final part of 'After the Revolution' - the (hopefully) thrilling conclusion. I hope you have enjoyed reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it, and thank you again to everyone who has taken the time to look at it. If anyone would like a hard copy of the book then please contact me through the comments section. Thank you again.

After the Revolution - Part Nine


(After the Revolution)

Alex’s heart raced as he darted through the war torn streets of the city that had once been his home. Desperately running, trying not to think about the agonising pain in his back, his mind set on one thing. Home. He needed to wake up from this nightmare, and he needed to wake up soon. He kept to the darkness, hiding in the shadows of the twisted remains of buildings for fear of being picked up by Wilson’s POLA again. Ralph was gone. He thought about the child’s body, lying so still on the cellar steps. He was an innocent. What had he done to deserve that fate? He was just a child; another innocent casualty of Wilson’s regime.

As Alex approached the abandoned school where he had left his machine, the fist few flakes of a snowfall began to drift silently through the dark air. Even the snow here looked grey and bleak. It looked polluted… had Wilson taken that to? As the snowflakes drifted towards the ground, they landed in thick piles of ash from the air raid and rested in puddles of grey slush.

Alex looked left and right. They’re watching me… They’re waiting for me… Stoltz was right… they’re always watching. When he was sure that all was clear, he began to climb across the rubble towards the school.

Bernard flipped the switch on the television, stunned that the power was still running, and watched the screen come to life. He had been hiding out in this classroom, next to some huge metal machine for two nights now and this was the first time it had occurred to him to try the television.

No signal, of course. Just static.

He picked up a DVD from the teacher’s desk and looked at the cover. It read ‘Britain after the Revolution: How Wilson reclaimed Great Britain for the people.’ Bernard actually laughed out loud as he read the title to himself and looked at the artist’s impression of a gleaming and prospering London on the front cover. He’d watched these kind of videos at school as a child; Wilson’s standard classroom propaganda.

It’s not exactly primetime entertainment, he thought as he slipped it into the player, but it’ll do under the circumstances.

As Alex approached the door to the classroom, he began to hear something coming from inside. Talking. He stood for a minute, listening to the sound through the wall. He couldn’t pick out any individual words, just a mumble of sounds. He knew he had to go in there, people or not. His only chance of escaping this world lay on the other side of that wall; and he had to escape. Slowly he pulled the gun that he had seized from the POLA guard up to his face and turned the corner and into the classroom through the hole in the wall. As he stood on the threshold, pointing his weapon into the dark disused classroom, he saw his machine, illuminated only by the glow of the blaring television that stood next to it. In front of the television, he saw a man sitting with his back to Alex in the teacher’s chair watching the screen. Before he even had time to think about what he was doing, the words bellowed out of his mouth.

‘What are you doing?’

The man jumped up and turned around to face Alex, eyeing the gun in his hand. ‘Whoa, mate… take it easy. I found this place… I found it fair and square. Let’s not do anything rash.’

Alex coughed, and snapped through pained breaths. ‘Get out of here. Now.’

‘Come on mate,’ replied the man. ‘We all need a place to hide these days… I found this place… Just let me be.’

‘You found this place… but I’ve got the gun. Now move.’ Alex began to walk towards the man, any fear he would have once felt now soaked in adrenaline. ‘Move!’

The man began to walk towards Alex, shuffling towards the other end of the room with his hands raised. ‘Okay, mate,’ he said, ‘you’ve got the gun.’ When he had passed Alex, he began to run and darted out through the hole in the wall.

As Bernard stood on the mound of rubble and looked out towards the decaying city, he shivered and pulled his collar around his neck, anticipating another night of the bitter cold. He turned back and looked only once towards the school.


Alex felt comforted to see his machine. It was something comforting… something he knew; something from his world. He glanced briefly at the television screen as he leapt into his machine, ready to return home. He pulled the door closed and prepared to leave, but as he tried to power up, something was wrong. Shit. It wouldn’t go. It couldn’t get enough power up. He leapt out of the machine, barely even noticing the searing pain in his back anymore to assess what the damage was. As he circled the machine, he suddenly felt a terrible feeling of claustrophobia. He felt trapped. Would he ever return home?

Then he saw it. One of the side panels had come loose and it looked like something had been chewing the wires. Stupid bloody rats.

He immediately dropped to his knees and began to repair the damage as best he could with no tools. His heart began to pound in his chest as he anticipated being stuck in this world forever. As he worked, he listened to the television that was still blaring in the corner of the room.

… and then thirty years ago, the world changed forever, when Wilson led the Great Britain to victory, defeating the Conservative government who were crippling the country, and restoring power to the people in the British Revolution. But our great leader came from humble beginnings. He was born in London where he was raised by his mother…’

As Alex worked, he glanced up at the screen. As he did, his blood turned to ice and his stomach turned to lead. There, on the screen, looking out through her big dark eyes, was the face he had seen all week, every time he closed his eyes. Looking down at him from the television screen was his wife. He froze and stared intently at the screen.

‘…Wilson adopted his mother’s maiden name from birth, after his father…’ Alex felt physically sick as he saw a photograph of himself flash on the screen. ‘…was locked up in the Stewart Mental Institution for attempting to kill his wife when she was pregnant with Wilson. Many speculate that it was because of this trauma to his life and his mother’s life that led Wilson to have such strong morals regarding leadership and guidance…’

Alex was numb as he replayed what he had just heard again and again in his head. Tears began to stream down his face. All of this… It’s my fault… It’s all because of me.

Still he kept tweaking at wires, trying to repair the loose connections as his world crumbled around him.

At last he finished, and unsure if the thing would even work, he replaced the panel and began to climb back in. He clutched Ralph’s scarf tightly as he pulled the door closed, taking one last look at the terrifying nightmare that he had travelled to, and began to power up the machine. This time it felt different, he could feel that it was working better. He set the coordinates for the exact point in time that he had left from and took a deep breath as he prepared to engage. Suddenly there was a flash of blinding light, and a deafening roar. Alex snapped his eyes tightly shut and tensed every muscle in his body as the machine began to shake underneath him.

Then, just as quickly as it had come, the light disappeared and Alex tentatively opened his eyes. All he could see was smoke; thick smoke. Did it work?

With the little strength Alex had left, he pushed the hatch door open and fell on to the ground. He lay on the floor, shaking and taking deep, exhausted breaths, trying his best to see anything through the smoke. Then he heard a voice, slipping through the grey fog.

‘A… Alex?’

As Alex turned, he looked up and saw her, and just before he lost consciousness, he managed to speak.

‘Annie? Is that you, Annie? I… I’m back…’

‘…I’m back.’


(Present Day)

The trial didn’t last long. It was pretty much unanimously agreed that he was guilty. Even Alex knew that. And then there he was, back in a cell again. Back in the darkness, only this time he didn’t have Ralph by his side to comfort him. Ralph wouldn’t even exist for another forty years. Forty years… and it seems like just yesterday.

He looked up at the grey walls that towered around him; it could be fifty or a hundred years from his own time. How would he know? There is no way to keep time in this cell. They thought that he was a madman… they thought he was dangerous… so they threw him in here for the rest of his time on this earth. What did time really mean, anyway? It could be the very dawn of time or the end of the world and it would be all the same to Alex. No windows… no contact. They’ll turn me into a madman

But he had done what was right. He had done what needed to be done. They didn’t know it… they would never know it… be he saved them all. Now there will be no revolution. He thought about that seed; that seed of evil that was growing inside his wife. He had stopped it – for the greater good.

He laughed as he found himself muttering the same three words over and over to himself.

Power… Strength… Freedom.

Power… Strength… Freedom, Power… Strength… Freedom.

Not anymore. He had saved them all… and all it had cost was his life and freedom.

How had this all begun? Alex though back to his messy workshop and the device. Only a matter of weeks ago it had meant everything to him… But now it didn’t matter. Nothing mattered. Alive or dead… free or incarcerated… none of it mattered anymore.

How could a heap of metal cause so much trouble?

Some things are too great for man to cope with. No man should know what lies ahead. It’s enough to send him mad.

Alex jumped as the metal shutter on his cell door screeched open and a long shaft of light poured into the black room. A steel food tray was pushed through the opening, and the guard on the other side hissed through.

‘Hey,’ he said, sneering, ‘I just thought you’d like to know… she’s gonna be fine. Your girl? The one you beat up? She’s gonna be fine… you failed, you piece of shit.’ The guard slammed the shutter closed and cell was once again in darkness.

No… It can’t be true. He had left her for dead. He thought she was dead. All my work could be in vain! The baby couldn’t survive… It can’t have.

Alex stood up and began to pace the tiny cell, hoping and praying that all he had done had not been in vain; that he had stopped the revolution.

He began to get frustrated and started banging on the wall, shouting at the top of his lungs to anyone who could hear him.

‘You don’t know what you’re doing! He’ll kill us all!’ he banged louder on the steel door. ‘Everything will change after the revolution! Can you hear me? Can you hear me you vile pigs? Power! Strength! Freedom!’

* * * * * *

‘It’s a miracle!’ said the nurse, turning to her colleague, who was washing her hands. ‘Have you ever seen anything like it in all your days?’ She looked down as she placed the newly delivered baby into the incubator. ‘He’s a little fighter.’ As she turned around to take a wristband from the highest shelf, she caught a glimpse of the mother, lying on the bed with a sheet over her head. ‘What a shame the poor soul lost his mother, though… what did she say her name was?

The other nurse wiped a tear from her eye as she dried her hands. ‘Annie. Her husband beat her up - nearly killed her. They locked him away for a very long time. It’s a miracle she survived long enough to deliver this little fella.’

‘…what a shame.’ The nurse pulled a tiny wristband from a box on the highest shelf and flipped the lid from her pen and sat poised. ‘What’s the mother’s maiden name?’

The other nurse checked her notes and looked up.


The End

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Love and Wrath Part II - The Valley of the Shadow of Death

Part Two – The valley of the shadow of death

The other side – somewhere over the rainbow.

Religion has an inherent interest in death. But then, I suppose, don’t we all? It is something we have all thought about - our own death - at one time or another. We all have a burning desire to find out what, if anything lies beyond death. It is the great unknown… the great unanswerable question. What will become of us when we die…?

Well, the likelihood is – nothing. We will rot into the ground and all of our memories and dreams will die with us.

Death plays a major part in religion in many guises. First, there is the concept of death – the idea of heaven and hell, which is used as either a carrot dangled in front of the believer’s face, or a whip at his back, coercing him into doing what his religion believes is right.

What’s the harm, a religious person may argue, in believing in life after death, even if there is absolutely no evidence to support it? Surely it gives us hope? A reason to live our otherwise seemingly irrelevant life…? To that I would reply that whilst, yes, it may bring hope, it is a false hope – and the damaging part is that it devalues life. Many people have devoted their lives to the religions they follow, adhering to every guideline, upholding every value that faith represents, in the hope that they will be granted a place in paradise - their life’s wages.

The concept of Hell is used expertly in religion as a form of terrorism – terrifying children into following their faith’s moral code. But what, when you think about it, could possibly be the purpose of Hell, aside from installing fear? The bible preaches that God is just and merciful – how, then, can he justify Hell? To begin with, if he is omnipotent and he already knows our fates, why put himself and mankind through the whole terrible rigmarole? It can’t possibly serve any purpose other than perhaps his own enjoyment. Furthermore, a human being has a finite lifetime, and so can only possibly commit a finite number of sins; how then can God justify eternal punishment? The punishment grossly outweighs the sins, even when the sins are committed at their maximum potential. Surely these cannot be the actions of a just God?

And so with a longing for Heaven, or a fear of Hell, a lifetime is wasted - a lifetime that could have been filed with creativity, experience and freedom - not prayer and war and servitude.

"Murder, my dear Watson — refined, cold-blooded murder."

Another prominent way in which death features in religion is murder. For centuries, millennia even, people all over the globe have been slaughtered in the name of religious beliefs. Year after year they kill each other over whose beliefs are correct. Had it not been for the commands of a ‘just’ and ‘loving’ God, there would have been no crusades, there would have been no witch hunts in the middle ages, and there would have been no terrorist attack on New York City on September the eleventh two thousand and one.

All of these atrocities, and thousands upon thousands besides, were all acts of murder committed as a direct result of religion.

And the Winner is… - The biggest killer of all.

JER 13:14 – “And I will dash them one against another, even the fathers and the sons together, saith the LORD: I will not pity, nor spare, nor have mercy, but destroy them.”

But who is the biggest killer in religious history? Well, if, as the Christians profess, the bible is true, then the runaway winner is God himself.

At his blog, ‘Dwindling in Unbelief’, Steve Wells took a total of God’s kill count in the bible, which comes to a whopping 2,476,636. See the full list here.

And this is only the instances where the bible states the specific number of people killed – this figure doesn’t include, for instance, the countless murders committed in the great flood, or the killing of the first born in Egypt. When he took an estimate of the total kill count, it came to a gigantic 25,000,000. God is love.

Okay, I hear you say, but if God doesn’t exist, then what’s the problem, surely these are just stories and have no bearing on reality? Surely it is no more relevant than say, Hannibal Lector’s kill count? Well, perhaps it is just fiction, but God is a role model to millions of people, young and old alike. When he descended as Jesus, he was supposed to be the perfect example, the ‘spotless lamb’ but what kind of role model is a man who has killed 25 million people? God makes Charlie Manson look like Yogi Bear, and it is from this genocidal, vindictive, jealous being that believers are supposed to take their moral guidance from.

As well as being unjust, God is also a hypocrite. He orders in his commandments that his followers should not kill, and yet he permits himself to commit atrocity after atrocity. It’s little wonder the faithful have been killing each other for thousands of years. If a child grows up in a violent household, he is far more likely to be violent himself in his adulthood.


“The only difference between suicide and martyrdom is press coverage”
Chuck Palahniuk

As well as taking the lives of others, for millennia religious believers have been taking their own lives as well, on holy missions with belief in a fast track to heaven. Unfortunately this often involves taking the lives of innocent people along with them, the clearest, most recent examples of this being, of course, the September 11th attacks in New York, and the 7/7 attacks in London.

What could drive a person to commit such terrible acts, and take their own life in the process? The answer lies, of course, in the profound lack of respect for life taught by religious doctrines. For the entirety of their lives Religious followers are taught that there is something much better yet to come – paradise is awaiting them if only they can shake off the shackles of this crappy life here on earth. It’s little wonder these ‘martyrs’ wanted to die if that’s what they believe. And killing sinners along the way – doing ‘God’s work’, apparently qualifies you instantly for a place in heaven.

Killing in the name of

We now live in a world where it is okay to issue death warrants upon a person for doing the simplest of things like writing a book – Salman Rushdie wrote ‘The Satanic Verses’ in1988 and has been living with a fatwā requiring his execution that was proclaimed on Radio Tehran by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the spiritual leader of Iran at the time ever since.

Some people who have been the subject of religious hatred have not been as lucky as Rushdie, however. In the early morning of November 2nd 2004, Theo Van Gough, Great grandson of Vincent Van Gough’s brother, was shot eight times and stabbed three times, in his home city of Amsterdam as he cycled to work. His killer, Mohammed Bouyeri, a 26-year-old Muslim Dutch-Moroccan citizen, had left a five page note attached to one of the blades which was still in his torso, warning others that Van Gough’s crimes would not be tolerated. So what was Theo Van Gough’s crime? What crime could warrant such a despicable act?

Van Gough had been working on a ten minute film entitled ‘Submission’, which took a critical look at the treatment of women in Islam. A film. The sad truth is, if Mohammed Bouyeri had not been indoctrinated as a child to believe that the fourteen hundred year old ramblings he had been taught were divinely inspired, then he most certainly would not have committed the atrocity he committed.

The most infuriating thing about it all is that religion purports to teach love and peace, it even has a widely accepted reputation for teaching love an peace, and yet it has caused more deaths than any other man-made thing in history. One only needs to leaf through the pages of a holy text to see exactly why religion and violence and death are, and forever will be, inextricably linked.

"I will sweep away everything in all your land," says the LORD. "I will sweep away both people and animals alike. Even the birds of the air and the fish in the sea will die. I will reduce the wicked to heaps of rubble, along with the rest of humanity," says the LORD. "I will crush Judah and Jerusalem with my fist and destroy every last trace of their Baal worship. I will put an end to all the idolatrous priests, so that even the memory of them will disappear. For they go up to their roofs and bow to the sun, moon, and stars. They claim to follow the LORD, but then they worship Molech, too. So now I will destroy them! And I will destroy those who used to worship me but now no longer do. They no longer ask for the LORD's guidance or seek my blessings."

(Zephaniah 1:2-6) The Bible (NLT)

“Fight and slay the Pagans wherever you find them…"

(9:5) The Qur’an

God is love.

Friday, 18 March 2011

After the Revolution - Part 8

Good Morning all, time for part eight of 'After the Revolution.' Recap below - Enjoy!

Whilst testing his newly developed time machine, Alex finds himself in the year 2060. London, his home, has been ripped apart by war, and the country is in the grip of Wilson, a ruthless dictator who bullied his way into power during the British revolution that happened in the late 2030's. As he investigates this strange, yet familiar landscape, he is picked up by the POLA, Wilson's secret police and detained as a potential enemy of the state. He is held in a dark cell with Ralph, a young orphan who is trying to survive in war torn streets London. The officers discover that Alex has no identity chip (a necessity for all citizens in 2060) and take him to see Wilson in person, suspecting that he may part of the counter revolution that is planning to end Wilson's rule. Wilson orders that Alex is made an example off, and sends him to the infamous Room Ten, where a man called McCarthy, a man who gets answers, waits for him. After suffering torture at the hands of his oppressors, Alex and Ralph escape the prison during an air raid. Now they are free on the streets of London - but they are hunted...

Back in 2010, Alex has returned from his trip to the future, and his wife is left to deal with the silent terrified shell of a man that he has become. Gradually he becomes more edgy as he tries to come to terms with his experience. Slowly his silence and fear turn to anger and resentment as the marriage begins to fall apart. When Annie tells Alex that she is pregnant, everything changes. Alex becomes violent and in the middle of the night creeps into Annie's room to attack her and the baby growing inside of her...

After the Revolution

‘How’d you get out?’ Stoltz peered up though a tiny window that looked out on to the main street, the amber glow of flames reflecting on his face.
‘The prison was hit,’ mumbled Alex, still in too much pain to function correctly. ‘They blew a big hole right in the wall of our cell.’
‘From the looks of things,’ Stoltz said, pointing to the long scars at the top of Alex’s neck, ‘they took you to see McCarthy.’
Alex looked at the ground and nodded.
Suddenly, Stoltz lurched forwards towards Alex and snapped accusingly. ‘Did they get to you? What did you tell them?’
Alex didn’t reply.
‘They got to you… didn’t they? And you blabbed… you told them everything… you coward.’
Ralph stepped out of the darkness and snapped at Stoltz, protecting his friend. ‘He didn’t tell them anything! For seven days straight they took him to Room Ten, they brought him back battered and bleeding… but he didn’t say a thing… not a thing! He’s no coward!’
Stoltz stepped away from Alex.
‘Who’s the kid?’ he sneered. ‘He your boy?’
Alex looked round at Ralph and smiled appreciatively. ‘He’s my friend.’
‘Well,’ replied Stoltz, turning back towards the window, ‘I guess a man can use all the friends he can get these days.’
‘How did you escape?’ said Alex between pained breaths.
Stoltz grinned, turning back to Alex and squinting across the dark cellar. ‘They can’t keep me for long… no, I’m too good for them.’
‘Were you in the prison when the bomb hit too?’ asked Ralph.
‘Don’t be silly… They never even got me to that place. I’ve been out for days now. When the guards were taking me back to the transport, I beat them both… both at once… and then I was free.’ Stoltz smiled demonically. ‘So I guess it’s true, mate. It’s true what they say. Power… strength…’ He waved his arms in front of his face a conjurer would at the climax of his trick ‘…Freedom.’
‘Thanks for helping us back there…’ Alex paused as he tried to remember the man’s name.
‘Stoltz… yeah. Thanks.’ Alex took a good look around the dark room. ‘What is this place?’
‘This place is safety. For you at least. If you want to survive in London these days, you only have to know one thing. Where to hide.’ He walked back over to the window and surveyed the street above them once again. ‘They’re watching us. They’re always watching us. You have to know where to hide… where to hide, if you want to stay free. They can sniff out a defector… that’s what they do. That’s all they do. That’s all the POLA have ever done.’ He scratched his chin as he looked wistfully out at the collapsing city above him. ‘I remember this place. This street. There used to be a church over there, on the other side of the road… and big oak trees used to swing in front of it. I was only a child then of course…’
Stoltz turned around suddenly, looking up at Alex with his head bowed. ‘After the revolution, everything changed. Wilson took charge, and bit by bit our country began to decay. Do you remember what it used to be like, mate?’
Alex stared vacantly into space, thinking about what it used to be like, as Ralph crept out of the darkness and sought comfort by Alex’s side.
‘Of course not… you can’t be older than forty… you probably weren’t even born until just before the revolution.’ Stoltz took a seat on an oak barrel and stared at the dusty concrete floor. ‘Life was a different kettle of fish before Wilson seized power. I remember Lying on beaches…’ He half laughed to himself. ‘Sunday dinner… my old mum made a blinding roast.’ He looked up at Alex and Ralph. ‘And what do we have now? This…’ he gestured up towards the window, ‘…this burnt out shell of a home? This twisted graveyard of a city? We’re always on the run. We always will be on the run. For ever… for the rest of our life. What the hell is life anyway?’ He lurched forward towards the pair, gesturing wildly. ‘What is death? Does it even make a difference now?’ He looked around the room. ‘We’re out. But we’re only out for now. They will find us. They will find us! All of this… all of this… shit… and for what? For Wilson’s glorious dream of rebuilding the empire!’ He raised his voice to the point of nearly shouting. ‘For power…’ Stoltz saluted, ‘Strength… and Freedom!’ He began shouting at the top of his lungs. ‘Power, Strength, Freedom! Power, Strength, Freedom!’
Alex looked up at the window and heard voices outside as he began to try and calm Stoltz. They’ll find us for sure.
Still Stoltz kept shouting at the top of his lungs, repeating Wilson’s mantra again and again. He began to laugh hysterically as he shouted.
‘Power, Strength, Freedom! Power, Strength, Freedom!’
‘Be quiet!’ snapped Alex in a loud whisper. ‘They’ll hear you! They’ll find us!’
‘Let them come!’ Shouted Stoltz. ‘Let them capture us! Let the game continue! What else is there to do?’
Alex jumped as he began to hear footsteps at the top of the cellar stairs, and immediately fell back into the darkness, pulling Ralph with him. They crept into an alcove buried deep in the darkness at the back of the cellar and watched as two armed POLA officers marched down the stairs and held their guns up at the screaming Stoltz.
‘Put your hands up!’ Shouted the officer in front, as Stoltz jumped forward, and with one lightning fast swing of his fist, knocked the officer to the ground. The second guard lurched instinctively forward towards Stoltz, and as he tried his best to restrain him, Ralph turned to Alex and whispered through the darkness.
‘Now, Alex… now’s our chance… let’s make a run for it whilst he’s got them distracted…’
As soon as the words were out of his lips, Alex felt Ralph begin to slip towards the door. Alex whispered as he reached out to try and stop him.
‘Ralph! No!’
But he was gone. Alex’s fingertips brushed the edge of Ralph’s coat and his left index finger caught the boy’s red scarf, causing it to stay in Alex’s hand as Ralph fled towards the cellar door. Alex watched the boy, knowing that coming out of the alcove would be a very bad idea, praying that he would make it out safely, and then, just as Ralph made it to the stairs, going apparently unnoticed, Alex heard the loud crash of empty paint tins coming hurtling down the steps behind him.
Suddenly, the guard who had been knocked out rose to his feet and swung around, pointing his gun at Ralph, and Alex snapped his eyes tightly shut as he heard the deafening roar of gunshot echo throughout the cellar.
No… Alex didn’t dare open his eyes for several seconds, and when he did, he felt his heart shatter. He watched as Stoltz pulled at the guard like a wild animal as Ralph’s body lay, lifeless on the cellar steps. Without even realising what he was doing, he felt himself rising to his feet and marching out of his hiding place towards the guards. Whilst Stoltz was busy with one of them, Alex sprang out and knocked the other unconscious. Then he turned to the other guard, who Stoltz already had restrained, and slugged him in the stomach, before wrestling his gun from his hands. ‘What have you done?’ he shouted. ‘He was just a child! What kind of animal are you?’ Alex held the guards own gun to his head and felt his finger tickling the trigger. A demonic smile came across Stoltz’s face. ‘Do it!’ he laughed. ‘Kill him… kill the vile pig!’
Alex looked the guard in the eye, his grip growing tighter on the trigger, tears streaming from his eyes.
‘You deserve to die,’ he said. ‘But I don’t deserve to be a killer.’ And with that, he marched up the cellar steps, gripping Ralph’s scarf tightly in his hand, and headed off in to the night.
It was time to go home.


Present Day

He sat in the park in the cold morning air, warming his hands in his pockets as he looked across at the glowing blue lights shooting out across the misty dusk from the ambulances and police cars outside his house. He had nowhere else to go… nothing else to do. As Alex sat on the bench, he didn’t even think about what he had done. His mind was clear; he just sat and breathed in the morning enjoying the little freedom he knew he had left.
They would find him. Of course they would find him. And he deserved to be arrested for what he had done; he knew that. He was out, but only for now.
They will find me. Let them come. Let them capture me. Let the game continue… what else is there to do?
In the meantime he sat in the safety of the park across the street from the crime scene. They’ll probably just think I’m some bum. I’ll hide in plain sight. If I want to escape I only have to know one thing; where to hide… where to hide.
For a fleeting second Alex thought about Annie. It was for the greater good. I could not bring a child into this world… and I could not suffer to see my wife go through the pain…
Then he saw them. Dressed in fluorescent yellow jackets and entering through the park gates. His entire body went numb as one of the two police officers pointed at him, and began to jog quickly towards him. Everything slowed down as the two men approached him and shared a nod with each other. They grabbed Alex by the shoulder and as they pulled him to his feet, his vision faded into a wash of colours. He was sure one of them was speaking to him as he felt the cold steel of handcuffs around his wrists, but he hid didn’t reply.
It was for the greater good, he thought.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Love and Wrath - The Impact of Blind faith. Part One – Won’t somebody think of the children?

Good evening all, I'd like to depart, if I may, from my usual fiction and today try tackling some non-fiction. This is the first of a series of posts called Love and Wrath - The Impact of Blind faith. In these posts I will try to tackle the subject of religion and the impact of blind faith on our society. The first part will deal with the impact of imposed faith on the children of religious families. Enjoy, and as ever, feel free to comment, regardless if you agree or disagree with my comments.

Part One - Wont somebody think of the children?

In two thousand and eight, eleven year old Madeline Kara Neumann died on the floor of her rural home in Weston, Wisconsin as her family just stood around her and watched. For some time, her parents, Dale and Leilani Neumann had watched as she grew steadily weaker and weaker, eventually becoming too ill to eat, drink, speak or walk. This was no sudden accident where the child’s parents had been given no time to act– Madeline’s death had been a long time coming, and rather than seek medical help, her parents decided to stand by her side and talk to themselves as their child died a slow, painful death.
They were praying. Rather than attending to their child’s treatable diabetes, they decided to pray – to put their faith in the fact that ‘the Lord will find a way.’ The lord did not, however, ‘find a way’, and Madeline Neumann died that day as a direct result of her parents’ negligence.

So what became of these parents who watched their child die, knowing they could have easily cured her? What should their sentence be? What should the sentence of any parent who allows their child to die due to negligence be? Surely they would be deemed unfit parents by the state? A prison term for murder?

No, instead, Dale and Leilani Neumann were allowed to still care for their other three children, and were sentenced to each serve only one month in jail a year for the next six years. With the judge simply adding, ‘God probably works through other people, some of them doctors’, implying, it seems, that they were right in what they were doing, but simply took it a little too far.

But the real question is why did this pair get off so lightly with such a heinous crime? The answer… they had God on their side. All over the world, religious beliefs are given a free pass to stomp upon the freedom of others. Whether it be Madeline Neumann’s right to readily available, life saving medical treatment, or Muslim children being denied blood transfusions, religion is untouchable. It is a force unlike any other that takes children from birth and leads them blindly through their life, opposing any who challenge their beliefs.

Imagine for a second that Dale and Leilani Neumann had let their child die as they did, only instead of blaming their faith in God in court they had said that they were waiting for E.T. to appear with his magic healing finger. What would have happened then? Would the judge have said, ‘Well, maybe E.T. morphs in to the shape of doctors sometimes, so maybe you should trust them’? The answer is no, of course he wouldn’t, the whole thing is farcical. They would have been locked up in an asylum and their kids would have been put into care. Religion is somehow different to any other strange belief. If you told someone you had seen fairies at the bottom of your garden, or that you had ridden a unicorn through time, I have no doubt that they would call you crazy, but when someone professes to believe in virgin births and talking snakes, it is seen in our society as somehow virtuous.

But why? Why has an idea that is so far removed from reality earned such a respected place in our society? Well, there is as much evidence to prove the existence of god as there is to prove the existence of E.T. and his magic finger, so it sure as hell can’t be based on evidence. (Note: There is almost definitely more evidence to prove the existence of E.T. (Just sayin’…))
The main factor in this appears to be time. If an idea has been around for long enough, it becomes accepted in society, no matter, it seems, how radical.

For some reason, having the idea of God behind you makes you untouchable, even permitting you to neglect the needs of your offspring. This is hardly surprising, of course, given the examples of terrible parenting that have been glorified in the Bible, like the story of Abraham preparing to sacrifice his own child at his Lords call.
How can a faith system that teaches its followers that it’s okay to kill your children if your God commands it be a healthy thing?

Labelling children - What’s in a name?

The Neumann case is of course only one example of the way religion abuses the rights of children throughout the world. From the instant they are born, the children of religious families have their freedoms imposed upon.

First of all they are labelled with something that they did not choose, something they could not possibly choose. This child’s a Christian… this child’s a Muslim.

How can a new born baby possibly make the choice to follow the Christian or Muslim faith? They have not yet had the time and do not yet have the skills to understand the complexities of faith systems like Christianity or Islam, so Christian parents (or parents from any other religion) who label their child with their religion, are no different to, say, fascist parents labelling their child a fascist.

This is a ridiculous scenario of course; the child has no interest in or knowledge of politics, so to label it a fascist makes no sense these are the beliefs of the parent and not the child – so why then is it acceptable to label a child a Hindu or a Muslim or a Mormon?

Circumcision - If God wants it cut off, why put it there in the first place?

Another frequently carried out imposition on the freedoms of children is the barbaric act of genital mutilation. There is not one single health benefit to the procedure, any yet still thousands and thousands of infants are subjected to it every year, some within days of birth. And why? Because God commanded it.

Why would God create a human and then ask us to alter it? Why would he ask us to cut pieces off our children when they are days old? Surely if he is omnipotent he could have created us right in the first place?

A warped sense of morality – ‘Cos the bible told me so.

One question that is posed frequently by religious apologetics is – where do you get your morals from if not from the Bible? (or Koran, or Torah etc.) What, they ask, is your moral compass?
We shouldn’t need to be told not to kill people! What does it say about our civilisation that we need to be ordered by a supreme creator not to Kill or steal under pain of eternal damnation? Surely if the only reason we are not going about killing each other is because we are afraid of punishment, then these are not true morals. These are rules imposed upon us. As a society, we should not want to go about killing one and other – not because we are afraid of Hell, but because we have a respect for life.

Religion has a long tradition of imposing morals upon its followers using fear. Thou shalt not kill… or you’re going to Hell for eternity. This is clearly not a healthy way to teach children right from wrong – in fact it’s nothing short of terrorism.

Wikipedia describes terrorism as ‘…the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion.’ For thousands of years, religions have been coercing their followers to follow their rules using the fear of Hell.

Creationism – making a monkey out of science.

In nineteen-sixty, Stanley Kramer released a movie named ‘Inherit the Wind’, which documented the ‘Scopes Monkey Trial’, a court case held in Tennessee in nineteen-twenty-five, which saw Teacher John T. Scopes up against the state of Tennessee for violation the ‘Butler Act.’ The Butler Act forbade the teaching in any state-funded educational establishment in Tennessee of "any theory that denies the story of the Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible, and to teach instead that man has descended from a lower order of animals.’ Scopes and his lawyer, Clarence Darrow (portrayed wonderfully in the film by Spencer Tracy), lost the case, and Scopes was ordered to pay a fine of one hundred dollars.

Watching ‘Inherit the Wind’ today should be a nostalgic reminder of how backwards our society once was, however, the sad truth is – it is still shockingly relevant. Still in this day in age, in the year two-thousand and eleven, parents are still trying to stop teachers from teaching the tried and tested, evidence-based theory of evolution, asking instead that they tell our children about devils and virgin births and magic apples and a whole range of things that have no basis in fact. To tell a child that something is fact, without any evidence to back it up is a lie, and our children don’t stand a chance at having any morals if they are lied to from the word go.

Some of these parents don’t want evolution completely eradicated from the curriculum; however they do want to see creationism taught alongside it. So if you are going to teach creationism and evolution side by side, why not teach the creation stories from all religions as fact? Why stop at the Christian creation story? Why not the Ancient Greek creation story? Or the Scientology one?

Science classes should only teach science, and religion should remain in the religious education class, where it is taught objectively.

Conclusion – I blame… the parents?

But who is to blame? Who is really to blame for all of these crimes committed against children in the name of God? One’s first thought is to blame the parents – but are they not just a product of what their parents taught them? And are their parents not just a product of their parents? It seems that no one can be held truly accountable.

The most terrifying truth of all, is that the parents who are subjecting their children to things like circumcision, fear of Hell etc. genuinely believe that they are doing the best by their children. To return for a moment to the Madeline Neumann case, I have no doubt that her parents truly believed that they were doing the best thing for their daughter, but at the end of the day that doesn’t excuse what they did. A man may kill his best friend because he believes that his body has been taken over by a shape-shifter from a parallel universe who has come to destroy us all, and he may do it in the best faith and with the best of intentions, but that doesn’t depart from the fact that he’s almost definitely wrong, and in the middle of a psychotic episode.

The Neumanns are probably not bad people, but they were negligent because their faith in a six thousand year old fairy tale was stronger than their desire to protect their daughter – they let their Madeline die and that was not their choice to make.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

After the Revolution - Part 7

Hello All, its that time of the week again. Here is part seven of After the Revolution. Below is a little refresher of the story so far. Enjoy!

Whilst testing his newly developed time machine, Alex finds himself in the year 2060. London, his home, has been ripped apart by war, and the country is in the grip of Wilson, a ruthless dictator who bullied his way into power during the British revolution that happened in the late 2030's. As he investigates this strange, yet familiar landscape, he is picked up by the POLA, Wilson's secret police and detained as a potential enemy of the state. He is held in a dark cell with Ralph, a young orphan who is trying to survive in war torn streets London. The officers discover that Alex has no identity chip (a necessity for all citizens in 2060) and take him to see Wilson in person, suspecting that he may part of the counter revolution that is planning to end Wilson's rule. Wilson orders that Alex is made an example off, and sends him to the infamous Room Ten, where a man called McCarthy, a man who gets answers, waits for him...

Back in 2010, Alex has returned from his trip to the future, and his wife is left to deal with the silent terrified shell of a man that he has become. Gradually he becomes more edgy as he tries to come to terms with his experience. Slowly his silence and fear turn to anger and resentment as the marriage begins to fall apart. When Annie tells Alex that she is pregnant, everything changes. Alex becomes violent and in the middle of the night creeps into Annie's room to attack her and the baby growing inside of her...

After the Revolution - Part Seven


After the Revolution

As the guards slammed the door to Alex’s cell when the arrived back at the prison, he heard them muttering to each other.
‘…You go and bring the instruments,’ one said to the other, ‘I’ll go and prepare Room Ten.’
Ralph looked up at him and smiled, apparently just awake and glad to see his cellmate return. Alex smiled back as he sat down on the bench opposite.
‘Did they take you to see Wilson?’
Alex nodded.
‘I saw Wilson once, in a military parade.’ The boy looked down and began to fiddle with his fraying shoelaces. ‘What did he say to you?’
‘Lost of things.’
‘Like what?’
‘He said that I was a defector…’
The boy looked up at him. ‘Are you?’
‘What do you think?’
‘Well…’ said Ralph, ‘…do you like Wilson?’
Alex laughed, knowing there could only ever be one answer to that question. ‘He held a gun to my face… and pulled the trigger.’
‘So, no, then. That makes you a defector.’
Alex smiled ‘I guess it does.’
After a long period of silence, Alex finally spoke. ‘What’s Room Ten?’
Ralph head snapped up and he looked Alex directly in the eyes, a look of terror washing over his face. ‘R… Room Ten?’
Alex nodded, judging from the boy’s reaction that Room Ten probably wasn’t a very nice place. ‘Yeah… what is it?’
Ralph looked down at his shoes again. ‘They took my father to Room Ten. Every night for two weeks he would return to his cell and cr… he would… he would-’
‘It’s okay, Ralph… if you don’t want to talk about it…’
‘No… no,’ replied the boy. ‘Its okay, I don’t mind.’ A melancholy smile crossed his lips and he looked back up at Alex. ‘They taught us about God and religion and all that stuff back when I went to school. Room Ten is probably the closest place on earth to hell. Wilson keeps a man named McCarthy in there.’
‘He gets answers… when defectors won’t talk… McCarthy makes them.’ The boy looked up at the shafts of light that poured in through the air vent on the door. ‘My father didn’t talk though… he would never have talked. When he came back to the cell, he was bruised… beaten black and blue with his back cut to ribbons; but he never told them a thing.’
The door clicked and slowly creaked open to reveal the two guards standing on the doorway.
‘Right,’ said the tallest one, ‘it’s time for you to meet McCarthy.’
As Alex began to get to his feet, Ralph suddenly shot up and looked at him. ‘They’re taking you to room ten?’ He ran towards the tallest guard and began beating his fist on his chest. ‘No… you can’t… don’t take-’
The guard pushed the boy’s head and sent him crashing in to a pile on the cell floor. Immediately, and without even thinking about it, Alex clenched his fist and swung it in to the guard’s stomach. ‘Don’t you touch him… he’s only a kid!’
The shorter guard grabbed Alex by the neck and restrained his hands as the taller caught his breath. ‘You dumb fuck,’ he said, before slamming his fist into Alex’s stomach, knocking the wind out of him and doubling up. ‘McCarthy’s gonna have some fun with you…’
Ralph cowered in the corner as they dragged his new friend out towards Room Ten, just as they had done all those years ago with his father.

At the end of a dark hallway, in the furthest corner of the prison, beyond the screamers and the prying eyes of the rest of the complex, was Room Ten. Alex put up little resistance as the two guards dragged him up to the door and swung it open, pushing him inside.
‘McCarthy will be here in a minute,’ said one of the guards as they pushed him up against a wall and bound his wrists with leather straps. He whispered ghoulishly into Alex’s ear. ‘…He’s not going to like you one bit.’ The guard ripped Alex’s shirt from his back and threw it to the ground.
Alex saw very little of the room before he was pushed face first into the wall and bound there. From the little he could see, the room looked completely bare aside from the shackles on the wall. The guards had left him now, and he stood with his face pressed against the brick wall, his heart thumping relentlessly in his chest. He stood there for the best part of ten minutes, before he heard the click of a door locking behind him and a voice hissing through the darkness.
‘It may take minutes, it may take days, or may take weeks,’ said the voice, ‘but what you know… you will tell me.’
Alex tried to turn around his head to see the man’s face, but as he did, he felt something lash out of nowhere and cut across his cheek, as he let out a yelp and turned back around, he realised that it was a whip.
‘Face the wall. Do not turn around, do you understand? Do not turn around or you will feel my whip again, is that understood?’
Alex was in too much pain to answer.
‘Is that understood?’ the man repeated himself, and before Alex had a chance to answer, he felt the searing pain of the man’s whip against his back. He fell to his knees, held up only by the shackles around his wrists, and mumbled as best he could through the pain. ‘…y… yes…’
‘I am McCarthy,’ boomed the man, ‘and I will be respected!’
He heard McCarthy beginning to pace behind him; the click, click, click of shoes against linoleum.
‘What do you know about the second revolution?’ pressed McCarthy. ‘Tell me about your leader, Jones…’
‘I don’t know anything about any revolution,’ coughed Alex, trying to find his feet again.
‘I’m not an Idiot, prisoner. Tell me what you know.’
Alex thought very carefully about what to say, but before he even had a chance to reply, he felt the searing pain of McCarthy’s whip lashing his back again. Tears began to stream down his eyes and as he fell to his feet, he thought about home. When he closed his eyes, for the briefest of seconds, he was there. He was there with Annie, back in a world that made sense.
But it wasn’t real, of course. The sharp blow of McCarthy’s whip brought him crashing back into his nightmare.
It seemed like hours they kept him in there. Beating him, trying to get answers to impossible questions… and what could Alex tell them? The truth? What could he tell them?
So McCarthy beat him as he stood in silence until he finally fell unconscious.


For seven days they kept taking him back to room ten; endless hours of mind numbing pain, exhaustion, and interrogation from McCarthy. Each night they would return his battered, wasted body to his cell, where he would lay by Ralph’s side in the darkness and try to imagine a better place. He dreamed of many things; desert islands, and city parks, he thought about the farm he grew up in and pictured himself running through the cornfields in the blistering June sun. All night he would lay there, half conscious, whisking himself away to far flung corners of his imagination, waiting for the morning, and for the whole ugly routine to begin again.
Sometimes Ralph’s voice would creep through the black.
‘Are you okay, mister?’ The boy tried his hardest to conceal the fact that he was crying.
‘I’m fine.’
‘You don’t look fine,’ said the boy, sniffing sadly.
‘Yeah?’ replied Alex.
‘Don’t tell them anything.’

On the seventh night, as they were laying in the darkness, Alex began to hear a sound. At first he put it down to his imagination, but as he listened closer, and saw that Ralph’s ears had pricked up too, he discovered that it was very real.
‘Its aeroplanes,’ said the boy. ‘Lots of them.’
Ralph nodded, a knowing look on his face. ‘It’s the Americans. It’s usually the Americans.’
Suddenly Alex heard a deafening roar coming from somewhere outside the prison walls. And then another. And another.
‘It’s an air strike,’ said Ralph.
Alex immediately sat up and listened as his home was destroyed, piece by piece around him.
‘Has this happened before?’
Ralph nodded, shifting closer towards Alex. ‘But never like this.’
The pair began to hear shouting coming from the hallway outside their cell, and the roar of a nearby anti-aircraft gun being fired.
‘They’re close, Alex…’
‘Come closer,’ said Alex, wincing under the pain of his back, but fuelled by a sudden rush of adrenaline, beckoning Ralph to the relative safety of his side.
All around them, the banging was getting louder, bomb after bomb fell and shot after shot was fired, building up to a massive crescendo, until they eventually heard the loudest one of all.
In a mist of flying rubble, Ralph and Alex watched as the wall to their cell was ripped from the ground and tossed into a crater in the prison yard outside.
The air was thick with dust, and Alex held the boy close to his chest, gripping him protectively.
‘You okay, Ralph?’
The boy coughed and tried to wave the dust away from his face. ‘Yeah… I think so. Something hit my arm.’
Alex looked down and saw a long graze along Ralph’s left arm. ‘It’s okay,’ he said comfortingly. ‘You’ll be fine.’
‘Look,’ said Ralph, pointing out through the gaping hole in the cell wall and across the prison yard. ‘We’re free.’ He got up and began to run towards the opening.
‘Stop!’ shouted Alex, grabbing the boy’s shirt and pulling him back. ‘The guards… the watchtowers! We’ll get shot…’
‘This is the perfect opportunity!’ replied Ralph. ‘All of their guns will be pointing towards the sky. If we want to get out of here, then we need to go now.’
Alex looked deep into the boy’s eyes.
‘Do you want to go back to Room Ten, mister?’
Alex looked out across the yard, towards the miserable scraps of potential freedom he had left, and then again at the boy. As he felt the deep wounds on his back from McCarthy’s whip begin to burn, he knew he had already made his decision. He pushed the boy across the threshold and into the crater that had once been a prison yard. They kept their heads low as they crept through the unstable sea of rubble and loose earth towards the toppled perimeter fence.
‘Keep down,’ said Alex, ‘we don’t want to take any chances. As he ushered the thirteen year old boy across the waste, his heart leapt. Freedom. He could see the perimeter, it was only feet away, creeping up over the horizon of the crater.
Out of nowhere, a bullet roared in to the ground next Ralph’s feet, and they heard shouting coming from behind them.
‘Stop! Prisoners!’
Another bullet roared out, this time even closer than the last. Alex knew that if they could make it to the perimeter, they would be out of sight, so with every tiny bit of strength he had, he forced his legs forward faster. Ralph, who was not hindered by a week of McCarthy’s abuse had already reached the perimeter and was standing behind a tree beckoning his friend forward. ‘Come on Alex!’
As Alex reached the perimeter, he jumped out of the prison’s iron grip, and landed in the soft grass. Another shot rang out into the darkness as Alex pulled himself up and kept running into the trees, with Ralph at his side.
‘We should be safer now,’ said Alex between exhausted pants. ‘We need to find some place to hide in case they come out and look for us.’
They dashed through the thin patch of trees and found themselves running on a street, buildings reduced to rubble all around them. The bombing had grown less now and it seemed like the enemy aeroplanes were preparing to leave. As Alex turned his head to the sky, his foot caught on something and he came crashing down against the concrete pavement. He hit the ground hard, and when he turned and looked up, he saw a man standing over him. Alex had a feeling that he recognised the man.
‘Well well,’ said the man. ‘Alex, isn’t it?’
As Alex looked at the man’s limp hand holding a smouldering cigarette, he saw the long scar on his hand and knew instantly where he recognised him from.
‘And I said names didn’t matter.’
Alex didn’t say anything.
‘Stoltz; we met recently. In a prison van I believe it was.’
He stood, dressed in the same clothes he had been wearing over a week ago when they had first met, holding a hand out to Alex offering him up.
‘You in a hurry?’
‘Come on,’ said Ralph, pulling Alex forward. ‘They’re coming!’
As Alex took Stoltz’s hand and pulled himself off the ground, he heard shouting and gunfire coming from the trees.
‘They looking for you?’ said Stoltz.
Alex nodded.
‘Come with me. You’re one of us… I know where you can be safe.’
Seeing little other option, Alex and Ralph followed Stoltz down a dark street towards a door, which led down to an old pub cellar.
There they stood in the darkness, waiting for the POLA to pass.
‘We’ll be safe here,’ hissed Stoltz. ‘For now.’


Present Day

She couldn’t see anything at first. It was all black. Then, gradually, colours began to fade to life and she began to regain consciousness. She was staring at the ceiling of her bedroom, and every inch of her body burned and ached. Had he really tried to kill her? Was she really still alive? Suddenly all of her thoughts turned to the baby growing inside her. Oh God… he’s killed my baby.
With all of her strength, she held her hands up to her stomach, stroking it protectively. It’s going to be okay…
She pulled herself up to a sitting position and reached up on to her dressing table, desperately trying to find her mobile phone. Eventually she felt it slip between her fingers and she pulled it down and held it to her face. She desperately tapped in 999 and held it to her ear, unsure if she even had enough strength to complete the call.
She heard a click as the operator answered.
‘Hello, what service to you require?’
‘I… need an ambulance.’

Saturday, 5 March 2011

The Children of Disobedience - Part 2

Hello all, here is part two of a piece that I posted a few weeks back, 'The Children of Disobedience', which follows Thomas on his journey through the depths of Hell. To refresh yourself with the story, please see my post The Children of Disobedience - Part 1.
Enjoy, and as ever, thanks for reading!

The Children of Disobedience - Part Two


He clawed his way though the sea of twisted, tormented faces and tried to find a suitable place to stand. There was none, of course. Every inch of the ship’s deck was crammed with wretched, lost souls like himself. As he stood amongst them, he took a deep breath in and smelled the thick, fetid air. Suddenly, through the wailing, he heard a voice beside him.

‘It’s disgusting, isn’t it?’

He turned to see an old man sitting to his right who was looking at him. The man looked exhausted, his face completely colourless.

‘The air,’ continued the man.

‘What is that stench?’ he replied.

The man coughed, before rising to his feet and looking around him. ‘That is the stench of hell. And it never gets better. It keeps changing; every instant it turns in to a new reek, each more vile than the one that preceded it, so no matter how long you are immersed in it, your nose never gets used to it… you are always aware of it.’

‘How long have you been immersed in it, friend?’ he asked.

The old man looked around and coughed again. ‘I cannot say. Such thing as time does not exist in this place. There are no days and nights down here – that is a luxury that was saved for the righteous. I know it cannot be, but I feel like I have been here for eternity all ready. There is no sleep – no respite. Just waiting…’

‘Do you have a name, friend?’ he asked.

‘I did, once,’ replied the old man, ‘but names serve no purpose down here.’

‘And what did your name used to be?’

‘I was James, long ago,’ said the man.

‘I’m Thomas.’


Thomas perched as best he could next to James as the ship began to move, slowly but steadily underneath them.

‘Where are we going?’ asked Thomas.

‘Back into the darkness,’ coughed James. ‘Back where this ship has already been a thousand times before. It sails along the crimson river beneath us stopping at various ports on the way as it makes it’s descent into the abyss.’

‘And why do we stop? What happens at these ports?’

James looked at the ground and then back up at the thick grey clouds above him. ‘People come… and go. Those creatures…’ he nodded towards a hooded figure standing at the edge of the deck, ‘...when the ship docks, they walk off into the red mountains and return with more people like you and I. And they bring them here, stripped naked to the deck of this ship to await judgement.’ James looked around at the sea of tormented faces and sighed a long, pained sigh. ‘And some people go. When they have faced judgement, they depart at the chosen dock… where they will find the punishment that is appropriate for their earthly sins.’

‘And that will happen to all of us?’

‘All that was once man will soon be dust. This was the Lords plan all along.’

Thomas’s eyes caught sight of a young girl, a few feet across from him, sitting on the deck. She was weeping and wailing into her hands and repeating over and over some words that he could not understand.

‘Who is that child? Why does she weep so?’ he asked the old man.

‘That child?’ he replied, nodding towards the girl. ‘She took the wrong path. Only one faith can truly follow the word of God… only one faith is the righteous one. She was born into the wrong one.’

The girl repeated the same incoherent sentences again and again.

‘Hour on end she sits there, weeping and repeating the doctrine that her parents taught her so well – she prays that this is a test of faith… that the true God will rescue her from this sinner’s hell.’

‘But she is only a child,’ replied Thomas. ‘How great can her sins be that she has earned a place in this fiery eternity?’

‘She was taught the wrong things by the only people she could trust. That is her only crime.’

‘But what kind of God would make that judgement?’

‘The only God there is.’

Thomas began to push his way through the sea of people towards the girl, his fatherly instincts suddenly bursting to the surface. He wanted to comfort the girl… what sins could she have committed?

As he struggled through the weeping, terrified souls towards the girl, there was suddenly a commotion off to his right and he stopped and turned to see what it was. A man was climbing the railing at the ship’s edge and stood up straight for only a moment before diving off the side in to the blood red river.

Thomas turned around and looked back towards James who had caught sight of the man too. ‘He escaped!’ he shouted. ‘He jumped over the side of the ship!’ He pushed his way back towards his companion. ‘He has escaped… there is hope!’ he shouted. ‘If he can do it, then we all can, James!’

James was not moved by his enthusiasm. ‘Where will he go?’ he said.

‘He will swim to freedom!’ replied Thomas, a feeling of hope creeping through him. ‘He will escape this place. He has escaped!’

‘Where can he go? He will wash up on the riverbank like all the rest. Then they will bring him back. He could jump off the ship a hundred times… a thousand times, and it wouldn’t make any difference. There is no escape from this hell.’ James coughed and looked up through black, exhausted eyes. ‘There is no escape – you can be quite sure of that. Our Lord made it so.’

Thursday, 3 March 2011

After the Revolution - Part 6

Well well, Friday again (well, as I write this it's only nearly Friday), and here's part six of 'After the Revolution' - but first, a quick recap to refresh the story in our minds...

Whilst testing his newly developed time machine, Alex finds himself in the year 2060. London, his home, has been ripped apart by war, and the country is in the grip of Wilson, a ruthless dictator who bullied his way into power during the British revolution that happened in the late 2030's. As he investigates this strange, yet familiar landscape, he is picked up by the POLA, Wilson's secret police and detained as a potential enemy of the state. He is held in a dark cell with Ralph, a young orphan who is trying to survive in war torn streets London. The officers discover that Alex has no identity chip (a necessity for all citizens in 2060) and take him to see Wilson in person, suspecting that he may part of the counter revolution that is planning to end Wilson's rule.

Back in 2010, Alex has returned from his trip to the future, and his wife is left to deal with the silent terrified shell of a man that he has become. Gradually he becomes more edgy as he tries to come to terms with his experience. Slowly his silence and fear turn to anger and resentment as the marriage begins to fall apart. When Annie tells Alex that she is pregnant, everything changes...

After the Revolution - Part Six


(After the Revolution)

Alex was almost drifting off to sleep when the engine ground to a halt again. After they had knocked out Stoltz and he felt more secure – and alone for the first time since he had arrived - his eyelids began to grow heavy.
When the engine stopped, he was jolted awake and he looked around himself. Suddenly all he could hear was the rain drumming on the steel roof. He looked out of the window. It looked like he had arrived in another courtyard, and four armed guards were running through an archway to meet the vehicle. Within seconds, the huge doors came creaking open again, and a man stepped into the doorway out of the rain. He wasn’t one of the guards who had brought him here - he wore a different uniform and had no cloak. He stood in silence looking at Alex.
The man said nothing for several seconds; he just stood there looking down on Alex.
‘Is this him?’ he said to one of the guards.
Another guard now stood in the doorway. ‘Yes sir.’
The man walked deeper into the body of the vehicle and pointed to Stoltz, who was lying unconscious on the floor. ‘What happened to him?’
‘Stoltz got a little… rambunctious. We had to put him to sleep, sir. You know what he’s like.’
The man turned and looked at Alex as he spoke to he guard. ‘Get him inside, Wilson’s waiting.’ He turned and kicked Stoltz. ‘And get this piece of shit out of my sight.’
‘Yes sir.’
Two of the guards who had brought him here bundled into the back of the truck and pulled Alex up by his handcuffs, forcing him out into the courtyard. The rain was so heavy that Alex was instantaneously drenched as he fell onto the concrete. The man with no cloak stepped out and towered over him, his face like stone.
‘Who are you, prisoner?’ he said, half shouting to make himself audible over the rain. ‘Where have you come from?’
Alex lay on the concrete, soaked and shivering, not saying a word.
‘Who are you?’
Alex timidly replied. ‘Are you… Wilson?’
The man broke his stony face and smiled. ‘I’m Sergeant Wilson. Wilson is my father.’
The tiny smile gave way to a look of rage as the man lifted his boot and kicked Alex hard in the stomach. ‘Who the fuck do you think you are, prisoner?’ He kicked Alex again, then stood back. ‘I ask the questions.’ He turned to the guards. ‘Take him inside.’
Alex held his hands to his stomach as the guards dragged him through a stone archway and into the building. It looked like an army barracks. Cloaked guards milled about everywhere, each one of them carrying large guns.
Alex was pushed up a flight of stairs and down a long hallway.
‘Stop here.’
Sergeant Wilson pushed him up against the wall and brought his nose only centimetres from Alex’s. ‘A few rules before you go in. You don’t speak to Wilson unless asked a direct question. Is that clear?’
Terrified, Alex didn’t reply, which cost him a punch in the stomach. ‘Is that clear, prisoner?’
‘Y… yes…’
‘When he enters the room you will salute him in the usual manner.’
Not eager to receive another blow to the stomach, Alex agreed. ‘Yes.’
Whet the hell is the ‘usual manner’?
‘Now… go and wait for him.’ The man opened a door into a dark room and pushed Alex in, throwing him on to a wooden seat. ‘He’ll be in shortly.’
Sergeant Wilson left the room, slamming the door behind him. Alex sat in total darkness now, awaiting Wilson’s arrival.
What a mess I’m in. Alex thought about his workshop. How he longed to be sitting tinkering in there; how he longed for normality. He suddenly felt a very long way from home.
He sat there for nearly five minutes, tormented by the darkness, and tormented by memories of his former life, waiting for something to happen. Silently he waited for Wilson, the only name that seemed to be on anyone’s lips in this place.
After a while, he heard a click through the darkness and a shuffling at the other end of the room. He didn’t dare move from his seat. He didn’t dare say a word.
In a terrifying split-second, a blinding light blazed to life in front of Alex’s face. Instinctively snapping his eyes shut, he listened out for any trace of life – footsteps… breathing… anything. He heard nothing.
Just silence. Silence and blinding light. And then, at last, he spoke.
‘I know who you are, you know.’ The words were strong and perfectly enunciated, and they seemed to slip out of nowhere. ‘I know what you want.’
Alex looked around, but the light was so bright that he couldn’t see a thing.
‘I know who you are, boy. And you’re going to tell us everything you know. My name is Wilson… and you will respect me.’
‘Please sir…’ said Alex. ‘I think you have mistaken me for someone else. I have no quarrel-’
Alex felt a blunt object slam hard into the side of his head.
‘I ask the questions, here. Is that clear?’
‘Y… yes.’ Alex’s left temple began to throb as he fought through the pain. He squinted into the light as he heard footsteps approaching him.
‘What is your identification number, prisoner?’
Alex hadn’t the faintest idea how to reply.
‘Answer the question, prisoner.’
‘I don’t have one.’
Wilson laughed. ‘And why is that?’
Alex paused before answering, fighting through the throbbing pain in his head. ‘I was never given one.’
‘But how can that be?’ Wilson seemed to be enjoying the game. ‘How can it be that you were never given an identification number?’
Alex heard the footsteps move to behind the light.
‘They tell me you don’t have a chip either. Did you remove it?’
‘I was never given one.’
‘Well then, if you don’t have a number, then I assume you have a name…’
Wilson paused for a long time before replying. ‘Well, Alex. There are only two kinds of men in London just now who have no ID number and no chip.’ Wilson lowered his face to just above the light, and Alex could now just make out the shape of his jaw line and lips.
‘Dead men and traitors. Dead men and traitors, Alex – and since you are not dead, not yet anyway, I have to assume that you are the latter.’
Alex was bursting to profess his innocence and tell them it was all a big mistake. He knew that wasn’t a good idea, though. Last time it had cost him a blow to the temple.
‘Who is it, Alex?’ continued Wilson. ‘Who is it you’re working for? The Americans? Russia? I will not be made a fool of. Tell me.’
‘I don’t know what you’re talking about,’ replied Alex, timidly. ‘I’m not working for anybody.’
Suddenly Alex felt the tip of a blade pierce his throbbing temple ever so slightly and he froze.
‘Don’t fuck with me. I’ve been at war long enough to know when I’m being lied to by the enemy. You don’t have a chip, so you’re clearly not just some bum or refugee. Tell me now, Alex, or I will plunge this into your brain. Imagine how it would be to die because of a metal spike being pushed… slowly… into your brain.’
Alex had the worst headache of his life, and he sat shaking, feeling Wilson beginning to apply more pressure little by little. ‘I don’t know… I’m not working for anyone. I’m not meant to be here!’
Wilson laughed, pulling the spike from Alex’s head as he breathed a sigh of relief.
‘Of course you’re not meant to be here. You know, The British Empire would be the greatest the world had ever known right now if not for little shits like you. Traitors.’
Out of the light, Alex saw a foot come flying out of nowhere which kicked him in the stomach, which sent him flying, chair and all, backwards onto the floor. Suddenly, Wilson stepped out into the light, towering over Alex. He was a hulking giant of a man, and he pushed his foot into Alex’s stomach. As he pulled a gun and held it in front of him, Alex squirmed as much as his restrained body would allow him. This is it; I’m going to die.
‘I will be respected,’ boomed Wilson.
A shot roared out of the barrel of the gun and Alex felt every muscle in his body tighten. He prepared himself for the end. He couldn’t feel any wound. Is this death? He didn’t feel any different.
Slowly he opened his eyes and saw the large gouge in the floor tile next to his head where the bullet had impacted. He hadn’t even realised Wilson stepping away and walking towards the door. He was shouting to one of the guards.
‘Take him to room ten. Get answers. If we cannot get answers, he will be made an example of.’


(Present Day)

‘I know where you’ve been going…’
She heard the voice clear as day and opened her eyes instantly. As she sat up in her bed, Annie caught a glimpse of the clock on her bedside table, displaying the time in fluorescent green numbers. Three twenty six.
He was standing in the doorway with his hands behind his back, looking across at her, silhouetted against the hall light.
She was wide awake. She was pretty sure she hadn’t really slept at all anyway. Her eyes were heavy and red from crying as she strained to see the menacing figure at the end of her bedroom.
‘It’s late, Alex.’ She pulled the covers protectively up to her chin. ‘What do you want?’
‘I know where you’ve been going.’ He repeated himself, his voice emotionless. ‘I know what you’ve been doing.’
‘What have I been doing?’ snapped Annie, forcing confidence as she tried to block out the guilt she was feeling.
He was silent.
‘Go on, what are you going to accuse me of now? Sleeping around?’
She was guilty; she knew it, too. As much as she tried to convince herself that he had driven her to it, or that it was somehow the right thing to do… she was guilty. Two nights ago she had spent the night with another man – the man she had kissed in the nightclub. He had given her his number, and in a moment of weakness, Annie had called him.
‘Go on, accuse me, Alex… but I’m not the one at fault here-’
Alex interrupted. ‘Where were you on Tuesday night?’
‘Out where?’’
‘OUT!’ she shouted. ‘Just out, okay?’ Suddenly tears began to well in her eyes and she began to sob pathetically.
‘So it’s true…’
Annie didn’t reply, she just wept into the bed sheets.
‘How long has it been going on?’
Slowly she felt her guilt and regret turn into anger. He’s ignored me for three weeks! He told me he doesn’t want our baby… why am I in the wrong?
‘Are you surprised, Alex? You haven’t spoken to me for weeks! You… you’ve slept god knows where… I’m a stranger in my own house. You appear one night with your back torn to ribbons and expect me not to ask any questions? I’m sick, Alex. I’m sick of this… You have no idea what you have put me through…’
‘What I have put you through…?’ Alex’s face began to twist into a look of rage. ‘What I have put you through…? You have no idea what I have been through… you have no idea what I have seen…’ He edged closer, one tiny step at a time. ‘You have NO idea what I have been through…’
‘What?’ snapped Annie. ‘What have you been through? Tell me! How the hell am I supposed to sympathise with you when you won’t speak to me? What did you see, Alex?’
Alex stopped walking and stood, saying nothing in the middle of the room.
‘What did you see?’ shouted Annie, sitting up even further in her bed. Suddenly her tone softened as she felt a pang of sympathy. ‘What did you see that made you this way…?’
Alex stood in silence for a very long time before he eventually replied. ‘I can’t tell you. I can never tell you. Never…’
‘Please Alex… I… I need to know…’
Alex’s head shot up and he looked his wife in the eye. ‘But I know… I know, and look what it’s done to me. You can never know… I should never have found out… it’s too much for anyone to know…’ He began slowly walking towards her again.
‘You’re not making any sense, Alex,’ replied Annie, feeling suddenly very intimidated by her husband’s approach.
‘I know… I’ve seen it all. I’ve seen Hell, Annie… I’ve seen Hell, and I don’t want you to see it, too. I’m gonna save you, Annie. I can’t raise a child in this world… I can’t… I mustn’t…’
He was only a couple of feet away from the bedside now, and stood towering over Annie, looking down through red, bloodshot eyes.
‘Alex… what are you talking about? You’re scaring me…’
‘I’m gonna save you from Hell, Annie. I’m sorry…’
Annie ducked away to the other side of the bed just in time to miss the iron bar that her husband had pulled from behind his back and brought crashing down over the bed. She screamed as it missed her face by inches. Terrified, she jumped out of the bed and ran to the other side of the room. My own husband’s trying to kill me. He lurched towards her menacingly, clearly unhappy that he had missed his first shot. Annie looked around her. She was trapped; the window was locked and the only way out was through the door, which he was blocking. She looked around for anything to defend herself with – but saw nothing. She knew she only had one option… try to make a run for it.
In the split second she made the decision, she felt her feet begin to move and make a dash for the door. As she got about halfway there, she felt a sudden moment of hope. I’m going to make it!
That fleeting moment of hope was instantly ripped at the seams as she felt the cold burn of steel hit her in the thigh and her legs began to give way. She came tumbling to the floor and instinctively wrapped her hands around her stomach to protect her unborn baby. As she hit the ground, she saw Alex looking down at her through wild, terrifying eyes.
‘P… please…’
Annie saw a fleeting flash of silver before everything went dark.