A serialised novel
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!
Sleep That Burns – Be-Bop Deluxe click the link to listen and read!
….I look up at O’Donnel. He’s got a kinda intense look on his face. He’s waiting for something… “Without you, it is us who would be dead.” … I don’t like the way he savours that last word… I can’t quite believe what I’m hearing…. “Our world was suffering from too much data. Who was to decide what should be deleted? Who should decide what should be kept? Soon the Government realised that they had to act… eventually we would begin to lose data. Overload Marker 2… We would no longer be able to predict which pieces of data had been corrupted and which had not. Which works would be saved and which lost… What if you could never be sure that the message you sent would arrive? What if the message could be corrupted without your knowing?” My hands clenched and opened… Don’t ask me how I knew, I just knew, right? Sheesh I wish I could be wrong about this shit more often, y’know? But I knew this was where I come in. Somehow stuff just adds up, right? You have loads of little glimpses then something pulls out the final piece and ta daa, there it is, right in the shnitzer…. Me? Uh, now don’t get me wrong Mr. O’Donnel, I know you seem to think pretty well of me and all that, but I’ve gotta tell you there’s no vital information inside this little bit of muscle…. “You are the repository because all the information has been encoded and stored within your very own genetic code. Every cell of your body is a storage container for our most precious systems. Without you, we have no way of surviving Overload Marker 3.”
Y’know, sometimes you just need a breathing space, right? Hey, it’s not every day you’re told that your whole body is just a walking-talking encyclopaedia right? Like, how often does that happen in a guy’s life? Now you can call me a dumb shmuck and you know, ordinarily, I’d be right there agreeing with you. Sheesh, how many times have I said that? Anyways, this time something was different. Don’t ask me how I knew this but somehow I just knew that what Mr. O’Donnel was saying was true. Something in my guts just went snap-to, y’know, like things were finally, finally falling into place.
I knew he was watching me, out of the corner of his eye as we walk further down the white corridor. What was he, waiting for me to collapse or inwardly combust or something? Shit, he’s probably waiting for me to give him one of government’s pro-decals or whatever the hell they were, right there and then, chapter and verse right?
But I’m just walking. Walking and kinda savouring the moment when you’re whole life to date gets put into some sort of context. Not a moment to be rushed I’m sure you’d agree. Now don’t get me wrong. Still none of it makes real sense, right? Like the ‘where’s’ and the ‘how’s’ and the ‘whosits.’ But there is just a sense of…klunk. It fits. Maybe that’s how I know this shit, right? Maybe there’s something in me that knows it all, just I can’t get to it fast enough, most of the time. Maybe that explains what happened when I was outside, when I saw and felt and experienced all those thoughts that weren’t mine? Anyways, enough of it felt right to bring a kind of calm . I am calm. Like a homely moment, y’know?
We finally come to some sort of balcony that looks out onto a huge domed area. Most of it is, yeah, you guessed it, white, but there are flashes of colour coming from screens and a few wall hangings, posters and…yeah…trees and shrubs. Well, I didn’t expect that. The whole thing looks a pretty calm and peaceful kinda place. But in a boring way, right? Like it was the kinda place to just get stuff done, not the kinda place to come and hang out. A few people, all pretty smart-looking, like O’Donnel, are walking across the area. Pretty much heads down. Like I said, no-one is sitting hanging around. Everyone’s just using the space to get around.
I look around at O’Donnel. Shit knows what he was expecting me to say but I think I still manage to take him by surprise.
“So… the room?”
He doesn’t answer straight away. He steps forward and grips the railing in front of us with one hand. Grips it real hard – I see his knuckles turn white.
“The room where I found you Shem, was not my idea. I’m afraid I have to declare that I had no interest in placing you in there. In fact, I advised strongly against it. I thought it might…how shall I put it…open you up to unwarranted interventions.”
Boy, this guy can look hard as steel one minute and then soft as shit the next.
“Yes, I’m afraid, like Harry.” It was like I’ve guessed his dirtiest secret.
“So, come on O’Donnel, who is this Harry guy and what does he want with me?”
If possible the grip on the balcony bar gets tighter. Now the other hand is gripping there. Sheesh, any minute now and O’Donnel’s gonna rip that thing clean off! He wrestles with it, pulling himself forwards and back with both arms until finally he lets go and stands back with a sigh.
“Alright Shem. Harry. You want to know about Harry? Come with me.”
He heads off down the slope and pretty soon we’re both crossing the area I’d just been looking down on. The coloured banners are in fact more huge screens but O’Donnel is walking way too fast for me to be able to see what they’re showing. It looks like a mixture of numbers and symbols, maps maybe but I don’t want to miss his stride, so I put my head down and concentrate on keeping up.
We go through one of the doors to the side of the concourse and into a small chamber. There’s another door facing us. They really like their doors in this place, y’know? O’Donnel’s just about to press his palm to the metal plate when the door slides to the side.
Out walks Felicity.
Man, she looks even better than I remember. I’m kinda stood there in a little world of my own, taking in her hair, her clothes, that subtle smell of perfume and something within me begins to recall what each of the hairs on the back of her hand feels like. What the breeze does to those auburn tresses when it blows, but I’m brought up short by O’Donnel. He’s talking to me. No, actually, once I tune back in to the world news I discover that while I’ve been absorbing Felicity, they’ve been talking about little old me.
“…I felt I had no alternative than to show him the repository.”
“I really don’t think Shem is ready for that situation Mr. O’Donnel.” She looks at me and smiles. I feel sunshine prickling on my face.
“Well, while I’m grateful for the benefit of your opinion Felicity, I think you’ll find that I have been given responsibility for Shem.
“Yes, O’Donnel, to get him out of the room, that’s true. But now that he is here…” Again with the smile. Will you cut it out with the smile lady? Jeez! “…now that he is here, surely Shem’s well-being is our collective responsibility? We are the government Mr. O’Donnel. That’s a ‘we’, not a ‘you.’ I think you should have at least got some clearance before bringing Shem to the very door, don’t you?”
So O’Donnel is stood there with his sad face hanging down. She’s said it all so sweetly that it takes a moment for me to realise what I’m in the middle of. Ha, O’Donnel is having a strip torn off him! Which means, by my law of the jungle…ha, no shit…Felicity is in charge of O’Donnel! Now, maybe I’ve seen a few things since I came outta that room but man, I didn’t see that coming. Felicity is the top here. Or at least she has some shoulder up on Mr. Flexi-face here. Cool.
“Uh Felicity, if I may?” I interrupt. “Ah, I don’t really know what is so special about what you guys have in that room behind you, but you gotta trust me, after the day I’ve had, I’m ready for anything, y’know?” Now it’s my turn to put a hand on O’Donnel’s slumping shoulder. “Now Mr. O’Donnel’s been real kind and helpful like, y’know? He’s already started to explain pro-to wotsits and the Markers and all that so I would, if it’s o.k. with you, I really would like to see what’s inside that room, y’know?”
You can’t see the wheels turning beneath that beautiful face as Felicity looks between O’Donnel and me. Me? I’m just smiling right on back at her, like she’s the best thing I’ve seen in many long winter months. And man, she is. O’Donnel though, he’s trying his best not to look at her at all. Shit, he’s looking at the floor, at me, the wall, the door, anywhere except for straight at her kisser. For a second he reminds me of the girl who brought me my dinner. That same look of abasement. Now what made me think of her?
“So Mr. O’Donnel has explained the nature of…your purpose, Shem?”
“Well…he has. Ah, I kinda ‘get it’ if you know what I mean, although I don’t quite understand it? But it fits, if you know that feeling?” From the look on her face, she has that feeling a lot. She smiles and nods at me. I try to stretch the point a little more, though why I’m worried about helping O’Donnel is beyond me. Guess the man just looks so defeated, y’know? “Um, as a matter of fact, that’s why we’re here. I was kinda hoping whatever it is you have behind there might make things fit even more, if you get me?”
I guess the thing about Felicity is, she never looks like she’s trying right? So she must have been weighing up all kinds of who-knows-what-crap inside her head but she doesn’t frown or furrow or sigh or any shit like that. She just stands there looking cool and relaxed and then she gives an even warmer smile, one that rocks me back on my heels. Sheesh, enough with the smiles Fel-i-ci-ty!
“Of course, Shem. Mr. O’Donnel will show you the Repository. He will be very sure to explain its purpose to you and answer any questions you have about how it works.” This last part is directed straight at O’Donnel. I kinda expected there to be a wink or a nudge at the end of it, y’know? It was that kind of sentence. Don’t ask me how I know but I did. Something, suddenly wasn’t quite straight between them. Something about how it ‘works’ begins to put the squeeze on my guts. One last beam at me and Felicity breezes past. I can’t help but admire the way her legs work – and the rest of her – as she walks across the hall.
“Shem.” O’Donnel calls me back to the here and now. There’s a funny look I haven’t seen before playing over his face. “Before we go in I wanted to say…I just wanted to say…”
“Oh forget it O’Donnel! You’d have done the same for me, right? Now open this frikkin’ door would you? Let’s see what’s so special about this Repository.” And let’s find out what ‘works’ and what doesn’t ‘work’, right? I keep that to myself alongside the growing sense that I’m about to get yet another smack in the kisser as O’Donnel places his palm against the plate and the door slides open.
At first I think it looks pretty much like any other library. Like, don’t ask me how I know, but I feel like I’ve seen a fair few of those kinda places. Lots of shelves, lost of rows of shelves, tall and high, filled with books and all that shit. Except, as I look in through the doorway to this particular library that feeling in my guts starts to twirl and dance like a cossack on a promise.
These aren’t books. They are jars. Large glass jars. Each one has something that looks like a…well, like a cat or a small dog or something inside it. But they are a dark yellow. Like in some kind of preservative, y’know? Then it begins to filter through my tiny little mind exactly what it was I’m looking at. Man, what a shmuck! Jeez, Felicity you bitch! ‘How it works’? How it works right? Shit. I know what these are!
I’m just about to turn to O’Donnel and see what-the-fuck-he-thinks-he-is-playing-at when around the end of one of the shelves comes a familiar figure. It’s about three rows back but there’s no mistaking that big bulging torso and that tiny little football head wobbling about on top.
To be continued…
(If you think this is too Sci-Fi have a look at this article –
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 #12 (rattledrum.wordpress.com)
- The Room #13 (rattledrum.wordpress.com)
- The Room #14 (rattledrum.wordpress.com)