A serialised novel
Something a little different this time. I wanted to add another dimension to the writing this time so I thought I’d share some of the music that has, in some form, inspired the story so far, or, at least, has resonances with it. My suggestion is that you listen to the music either while reading or after reading this week’s episode. I hope it will add a little to the experience!
Blazing Apostles – Be-Bop Deluxe
.... My eyes smart against the raw sunlight as I reach the door out onto the street … I know what it all is but I’ve never seen it all before – not actually there, in front of me, real…. Not with my own eyes … it all kinda bursts out into my head in all kinds of colours and sensations … I’m connected to it … I feel a hand pressing on my arm … The perfume is strong and is all around me in the air … I’m not just hearing Felicity really clearly. I’m sensing her. You know? … I can feel her pulse thumping through her hand and my sleeve, see the fine downy hairs on the back of her hand upright and alert, hear the little wobble in her voice that she’s doing a great job of concealing … There’s a heaviness in the air. I try to slow my pace but Felicity is marching me on, right, babbling away … “What’s that?” I ask, pointing like an idiot … I take a step back from her now and can’t help but laugh. “Sister, I ain’t seen nothing like that before in my life!”
I laugh because I’m shocked right? That kind of laugh you do when what you see just takes you by surprise. A bit of a first for me that, you know? As I said, everything I’d seen so far had that ring of familiarity to it. It was all stuff I’d seen somewhere before – of course, shmuck that I am I can’t remember exactly where of course – but somewhere right. But this? Man, I’d never seen anything like this shit before.
First thing I notice is how bright it is. All metallic sheen and glass and…well, just that. Nothing else. No wheels that I can see. Nope, man this whole thing is like an oversized teardrop, easily big enough to fit three or four folk inside but, ha, right, like no doors or wheels or shit. Just an amazingly shiny and bright oval, slightly stretched towards the front drop of water.
“Wow! Felicity, that…that’s quite something huh?” I look back at her right, because I’ve been staring at this…thing…all amazed like…and she’s just staring at me like I’m crazy.
“You’ve never seen this before, have you?” Felicity says, all dead-pan, as though she’s just waking up to something herself, as though I’ve just brought out some major revelation. I smile. I can’t help it, right? This thing is so bright! So modern, like something from the future – something from a sci-fi film (but hey, like I say, don’t ask me which one,right?)
“It’s beautiful. Real quality Felicity. Are we gonna go in it or what?” I ask. Sheesh what a shmuck, I’m starting to hop around on one foot like an excited schoolboy or something. She just looks at me some more, and it’s starting to get a bit uncomfortable right, so I say, “Hey, come on Felicity, quit staring at me would you? If we’re gonna drive this thing let’s get to it right?” She comes to herself with a little shake of her head. I like the way it jiggles her hair.
“Of course Shem, I’m sorry, I just assumed that we had…it’s nothing.”She forces out a big smile. “You’re right, let’s get going.” She pulls out a little pen-like device from her hand bag and points it at the capsule. Unbelievable! Like I was expecting an opening door, right? Nah, this baby just kinda…parts…like a hand through a stream of water, you know? Even in the heat of the day I can feel that the temperature inside is slightly warmer. I don’t know why but I thought it would be cooler – like it moves like water, you know what I mean? It looks dark, I get an impression of leather. “After you,” she says, waving me in.
I bend slightly and step inside looking for a seat but there are none. I look back at Felicity with my very best ‘What the..?’ expression but she just points the device at the inside and I hear a click behind me. Man, how can I tell you? It’s like the seat just kind of flowed up from behind me and floods itself all around me, right where I was. So cool. Last of all it gently tips me from the back of my knees and I sit back. Felicity gets in and this time I get to watch the seat fold itself around her, though it makes no sense to me how it happens. She puts her little bag down on the floor and holds out her arms. The front of the insides kinda flows out and circles itself around her wrists so you can’t see her hands anymore.
She looks back at me. “All set?”
“Good.” She turns to what I’m guessing is the front and…nothing happens right? I mean, I can see Felicity’s wrists moving and turning but there’s no movement, you know? Nothing. So I’m sat there waiting for us to move. She’d said something about having to leave soon. Had she forgotten? And what about O’Donnel? Maybe that was it.
“Are we waiting for O’Donnel?” I ask. She turns her head slightly but keeps her eyes forward.
“Oh, no, don’t worry about Mr. O’Donnel Shem, he’ll be ok. The deal was we’d make our own way back.” ‘Back?’ Like, that sounds like something you’d say if you’d been away from home or something, right? How could I make my way ‘back’ when, if you ask me, the only place I’ve ever been is the room, right? It’s real hard to go back somewhere if you don’t know that you’ve ever left, you know? Anyways, she seems to guess that she misunderstood my question because she turns again and this time shows me a quick smile. “I’m sorry Shem. I’m forgetting this is new for you. I’ll let you…just a minute…see. There we are, is that better?”
Shit. Can you imagine it? Like, the brain is a pretty slow beast I’m thinking. It must take me about 30 seconds to realise that we’re actually moving. My eyes are telling me one thing and my body is telling me something completely different. Man, and we’re not just moving – hurtling would be a better word! Felicity’s certainly put her foot on the gas. The streets are like a grey blur,twisting and bending in front of us but all the time my body feels nothing at all. No forward motion, no turning, no movement, nada, not a thing. It’s only my eyes that are telling me we’re moving. My hands clutch the sides of the seat, soft and warm, because if we’re really moving this fast I can’t shake the thought that I’m gonna be thrown around this cabin like a rag doll any moment.
It takes another few minutes before I feel confident enough to release my grip. I’m thinking two things – either we’ll step out of the capsule and find that it’s all been a film shoot or something and Felicity and me will be right where we got in, or, we’re sat in something I’ve never seen before or even thought was possible. There’s a gnawing feeling in my stomach that it’s the latter, you know?
We’re pretty dopey bits of stuff right? After a few more minutes I’ve forgotten all about how amazing this all is and I’m looking at the view out the front, just enjoying the ride. Sheesh. If there was a window near me I’d probably have my head out the window with my tongue hanging out, ears flapping in the breeze, right? I mean it’s scary man, how soon we adapt to new things, new technology or whatever the hell this thing is.
Anyways, soon the view starts to change and Felicity is doing a lot less of the twisty turny dance along the streets. I’m guessing we’re heading out into the country now, because the ribbons of grey and beige that I think were the streets, have turned into corridors of green and brown, with the odd piece of black thrown in. Sitting behind Felicity my stomach makes another growling noise and I ask her how long before we get ‘there’ and whether there will be anything to eat then. She tells me not to worry, that we’ll be there soon and yes, there will be plenty to eat.
So I sit back in the chair-type thing and close my eyes, trying hard to not think about food. So what dances before my eyes? Right, food! Man I could murder a… what? Chinese? Is that the stuff that Harry brought me? I can’t remember. My stomach is starting to do a different kind of dance now. What’s the matter with me? If you’d pinned me to a chair and asked me to name my favourite food right then I couldn’t tell you. Man it’s crazy. I have such a strong sense of ‘food’ – of all that it could be – but here’s the crazy thing. I can’t actually tell myself what that food could be! It’s like being out in the street earlier.
I recognised everything there but had absolutely no memory of when I’d ever seen those things before; in person, me, with my own eyes. It’s like I’m borrowing my memories from somewhere. But that’s just crazy, right? So all this is spinning round my brain and I’m getting all agitated trying to think of anything, anything at all that I can actually remember eating, before Harry turned up at my door with his take-away, when O’Donnel speaks.
“How is everything Shem, are you alright?” The capsule window is blank but I’m presuming we’re still moving forward because Felicity is still engaged with the controls when I open my eyes. I look around for O’Donnel but can’t see him inside the capsule. What a shmuck. It’s some kind of radio of course. “Shem, can you hear me alright?”
“Uh, yes Mr. O’Donnel, I’m right here. Where are you? Did you get out of the room alright? I was worried about you.”
“That’s very kind of you Shem, very kind, but there’s no need to worry about me. Everything is just fine now Shem.”
“What happened to Harry?” I wince as I say it but it’s too late, it’s out there. O’Donnel doesn’t miss a stride.
“Oh, Mr. Parks and I just had to have little conversation about something Shem. Nothing for you to worry about. Is Felicity looking after you?”
“Yup, just great Mr. O’Donnel, just great. Hey – I love this capsule thing you’ve got going here. Have you got one of these?” Again the wincing – why don’t I just shut-the-fuck-up and stop sounding like some third grade school kid? Jeez.
“I have Shem, I have. I’m on my way to meet you and Felicity now.” There’s a pause. I imagine I can hear someone swallowing hard. I’m not sure if it’s Felicity or O’Donnel. “Shem, I need you to listen carefully.”
“I’m all ears Mr. O’Donnel. I’m not going anywhere…well, I mean I am…I mean…fire away.” Sheesh. Shut up.
“Alright then. Shem, I can’t tell you how much I admire the way you’ve coped with what must be a very difficult time for you. There must be so many things that you don’t understand. Things that have happened to you since finding yourself in the room, things that people such as myself and Mr. Parks have said. And now I can include your journey with Felicity in, as you describe it, the capsule. You’ve met each of these with a good deal of courage and veracity Shem. I want you to know how grateful I am for that. I’m grateful because it may well mean that the next step I’m going to ask you to take will be that much easier for all of us, especially yourself. Shem, when you leave the capsule you will see things that will be very new to you. I do not know how much of it will make sense to you. Perhaps some. Perhaps none. All I’m asking is that you trust me Shem. That you trust me and that you will do as I ask, until you find your way around of course.” There was a long pause. What was waiting for me outside the capsule? I wasn’t sure I wanted to know now. But there was warmth in O’Donnel’s voice. “Shem, are you there?”
“Good. We’ve nearly arrived. I’ll see you when you get out, Shem. Good luck.”
“Thanks,” I say, to no-one in particular. My heart starts pumping. Felicity drives on for another minute that seems to stretch out forever. Finally she pulls her hands back and the black material slides slowly off and kinda soaks back into the capsule. She looks around at me and gives me a big smack in the face smile. She reaches round and takes my hand.
“Come on Shem, I’ve got you.” With her other hand she points the pen-like tube at the side of the capsule and it quickly separates from itself. We bow our heads and make to step outside. I’m so busy looking down at my feet so I don’t just fall out that it’s not until I’m out that I stand up and look around me.
So this is why O’Donnel made his pretty speech…
Dear reader – do you have a suggestion for the next chapter? Perhaps a plot idea? Or maybe you just want to tell me to stop! Whatever, drop me a comment! You may find it used in the next chapter!
‘Til next time,
- The Room (rattledrum.wordpress.com)
- The Room #8 (rattledrum.wordpress.com)
- The Room #9 (rattledrum.wordpress.com)