being quite drunk, and with a combination of other circumstances (chiefly people asking and realising i’m not going to do anything with it in the short term), i’ve decided to blog my book. well, we’ll see how it goes.
so, from the beginning:
Common sense tells us that the things of the earth have hardly any existence, and that the true nature of reality is found only in dreams.
Don’t fools get tired?
How could fools get tired!
. . .
. . . .
a blank. absence of all kinds. his mind is alert. he waits, straining every sense.
there, right at the boundary of hearing, something.
there, he can make out the horizon. it seems impossibly far away, yet there is colour, a flush spreading every which way. it comes toward him.
somewhere he smiles.
the colour is damson. it fractures again and again, and everywhere it does so, patches of cream, purple, everycolour, bloom in tiny, widening, undulating signatures.
a patter. it rains, drops of sound, a single note from a voice, again and again.
he feels softest touch, lighter than air, priming. It is all over him, and he is everywhere. something brushes him, releasing spores of fragrance, clean and sharp, it hits him.
he is overcome. always unprepared, he is lifted in short breaths, never quite catching up.
gently, it is a passing thought.
the sounds, the colour, the air, the world, spin together in ropes, twisting around him, binding together. flexing, they align.
there are steps, a slope, he moves forward, choosing now, to follow.
she is here.
A pair of eyes, improbably blue, scan the horizon.
Once, there was a world. From the flatness of this space, these few miles, to the whole globe. A globe of business and pleasure, of life being as it was.
Now we wait. One day to the next.
They, the ones who had come before, thought they were headed somewhere. A future, good or bad. But always ahead. Does anyone, now, look to a future?
There was a time, he knew, when it had vexed many. Wars even, had been fought. There had been a misapprehension. The future would not always lie ahead.
What the billions that had come before him would make of it’s final manifestation, Vacron is unsure. That there would, or could, be no other, he was certain. He had been taught that everyone gets what they want. When he looked backwards, at what had been aspired to, he guessed that had always been true. Everyone gets what they want.
Not an aspiration, an interval. In twenty-nine days he would be fifteen years old.
Vacron crouches down and begins to mark the dust. With a finger he traces out four vertical lines, then cuts them with a diagonal. A five-bar gate. Steadily he repeats the process until there are five gates. At the sixth he ceases before the final line.
Then adds the diagonal with a flourish.
In a ceremony, held on the next full moon, the villagers would sit late into the night and bid him farewell. Last night it had been Fabian.
There wasn’t anything in particular that bound them, it had just always been easy. From the time when he was seven, Fabian had mattered. But it was over now.
Everyone would still be moping around the village. Ordinarily Vacron liked to avoid it. The villagers’ brand of earth and toil, is a throwback of incredible proportions, back maybe a thousand years. Against his better judgement, he had stayed. Curled up against the outside wall of Noma’s house he’d fallen to a fitful sleep. It isn’t something that he’s made a habit of, and he’s glad that he’s not there now.
Noma comes to school only occasionally. It’s clear that she is going nowhere. Her father’s doing. Seelan, as near to a leader as the villagers can manage. On the few occasions that they had spoken, it had always been pleasant enough. It was what he stood for that Vacron abhorred.
Never overestimate humanity, thinks Vacron. Here is mankind delivered of a future in which each participant chooses their own way, where their needs and wishes are met without obstacle. The sages and the dreamers of the millennia that had passed had all seen such a place, yet each saw something different. And now all of these visions had been proven. All. Man could have what he wanted. The sole remaining choice was whether to take part. Seelan and his small band of followers, no doubt mirrored in other parts of the world, chose against. Fabian and Vacron put it down to poor genes, the inability to differentiate between realities. Fabian used to say that it was like taking off the blindfold and keeping your eyes closed.
Being not a mile from the sea, the village is cruelly exposed to the elements. The salt air renders cultivating anything an extreme act of defiance, yet it is done. Vacron watches twenty or so men and women, dressed in drab cloth, walk out along the unmetalled road carrying hand-made hoes and picks. They would pass the near-empty dorms in which food could be had free of toil and which would provide clothing designed for the conditions in which they lived. But no one could be coerced. What would be the point?
It had taken many years for Vee to become accepted. And even then it wasn’t that everyone suddenly decided to go along with it. People are inherently conservative. Gradually more and more stations were built, blocks and blocks of them. An air of finality must have overcome those remaining. They grew older and the young grew to maturity then disappeared. Skills were not passed on. Through Vee, people lived far longer and the world’s population grew to extraordinary proportions, but effectively the outside world became depopulated. Trans-national structures deteriorated then disappeared. Almost the last act of true governance was the formalisation of the universal right to access at the age of majority. Within a hundred years Vee had replaced society almost entirely. Those, like the villagers, were a tiny minority, operating in isolated pockets. Man is stubborn. Perhaps, thinks Vacron, these odd groupings will survive for some time to come; yet he knows that finally they, too, must succumb.
The present future, the future present. A destination reached. The failure, of some, to disembark could not negate that fact.
Without Fabian, Vacron is alone for the first time in years. As far as he is aware he intends to head east, toward the sea, but he finds himself walking north. To the north and west lay nothing except station upon station, vast rectangular blocks that seemed to act like pillars connecting earth and sky. Everything is quiet. Away from the dorm, and from the village and fields, Vacron can be sure of being alone. There is simply no reason for anyone to come here. Yet he knows he is surrounded. Countless souls wander unseen landscapes. In the stillness he half fancies he can hear an echo. Some activity lying somewhere just below the surface. All else is still. He aches with the proximity.
He makes his way between two stations now, barely fifty feet separating them. He has no idea how the buildings were planned or are maintained. He guesses that the same kind of regime operates here as it does in the dorms. An automated system took care of everything, largely unseen. He knows that there are automatons, which conduct repairs when necessary. He and Fabian had seen one. That was many years ago, perhaps he would have been nine or ten. They were out west, probably two or three hours walk. The metal-backed creature was scuttling up one of the huge edifices, pausing every few feet. They watched it for a while, threw stones at it, but it never seemed aware of them. Finally it climbed to the very top and disappeared from view.
He skirts around the northern edge of the village a few blocks inside the array of stations. He wonders where his body will come to rest. He knows that, when the time comes, he will be given the block address. These numbers appear at the ground level of each building, standing an inch proud of the mottled grey-green cladding. Vacron is before block PP239 right now. He runs his fingers over the letters. The cladding seemed slightly sticky. He knows that if you look closer you can make out a hexagonal pattern under the surface, like a honeycomb. Quite how you gained access to the inside he wasn’t entirely sure. He had heard that the door just opened, although how it knew you were there, or recognised someone as being authorised to enter, was a mystery to him. Many times he and Fabian had tried to force sharp stones or twigs into half-imagined gaps, which they took to be the outline of an opening. They had hammered their fists, shouted, spat and urinated against the walls, all to no avail. But it won’t be long now, thinks Vacron. For Fabian the time had already come.
Last night, in the village, sitting under the moon, Fabian was set on his way. Seelan and some of the elders talked in half-whispers about living a true life. Odd how two groups of people can attend one ritual yet relate to it in such different ways. For Seelan’s people there was sorrow, for everyone else a celebration of majority. They had sat with bowls of foul-smelling plant-extracts around a large fire. There had been music, fiddles and a guitar, others danced and sang. At the end of the evening, in the small hours of the morning, Fabian stood to go. As he walked away, Vacron too had risen. Fabian grabbed his hand. Vacron remembered his eyes moisten but tried not to let it show. His last memory of Fabian was of him walking away in a blur shouting out “PP239.”
Vacron sits with his back against the edifice and completes his tears.