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The man had watched for days, as the people disappeared around him. It was so dark here, so empty. Even in a room crowded with people, each one of them there was alone. No one spoke, and no one cried. They all sat, staring at the walls, wishing for a way to be home.

He knew that he’d never see his home again. Never hold his mother. That was the only thing keeping him alive, keeping him breathing. The people here, they had nothing left. Nothing to live for. He watched the women, the men, the children. Their eyes were so empty, as if they already knew that this was it. This was life. But it was a life this man was unwilling to be part of.

Time passed so slowly in here. The silence was deafening. It filled every hour, of every day he sat in this corner, his arms wrapped around his knees, and his eyes clamped shut. Because he didn’t want to see what was happening. Even though he already knew.

He often thought of his father at times like this. Wondered what he was doing, where he was. He liked to imagine that his father was out there, fighting his battles, planning to come and find him. That was what he told the children who came and sat in his corner, to comfort them, to protect them. Only now he’d started to believe it himself, and he knew deep down that his father would never find him.

What could such small children do to deserve to be here? They should be running, shouting, not slumped in a dark corner like a rag doll. They should be alive, not dead behind the eyes. As he thought, he pulled his ragged blanket around him. He assumed winter was on it’s way, although he had no idea how long he had been here. His ripped clothing didn’t keep him warm, nor did the strips of bandages snaked round his arms. He was never warm, except for when he thought of her. Her laughing eyes and her rosy cheeks kept him warm in his corner. Her glassy eyes and tear tracks staining her face haunted him at night.

She hadn’t deserved this. She was so much more than this, this world they were living in. And he hadn’t been able to protect her. However hard he’d tried, he could not save her. They had destroyed her, and with that they had destroyed him.

As he sat, curled in his corner, the water running down the walls, he thought of all the tears that had been shed during the past few months. The tears they had cried were racing down the walls, seeping from the cracks.

He was drowning in them.


Fergus Valentine was a good man, a respectable man. A pillar of the community, some may say. A practical man. A logical man. A man who’ll make many decisions. And many mistakes. There are advantages of authority, of being a public figure. And temptations. Money. Fergus Valentine was a greedy man.

And as Valentine sat at his chipped wooden desk, his shirt sleeves pushed up and his desk fan blowing chunks of hair into his eyes, money was at the forefront of his mind.

“No.” Fergus bellowed, making his young, blonde assistant jump. “Absolutely not.” he snapped, pulling back another strand of his salt and pepper hair with his fat fingers.

The meeting room was crowded, with eager, shining faces staring at Fergus’ wrinkled, tired one. Although all six windows had been hastily thrown open, several suit jackets and sweater vests had been disregarded throughout the meeting. The rusty desk fan situated on Fergus’ desk was blowing reams of paperwork and charts off his desk, leaving his assistant running frantically around the office, snatching at papers as if they were fireflies. Takeaway pizza boxes and Chinese cartons thrown under his desk when his wife had visited rustled against his feet and left a sticky, slimy residue on his Italian shoes. Fergus sighed, and pushed his rectangular glasses further up the bridge of his nose.

This meeting has been going on for far too long, and he was sick of the mumbling, stuttering young men around him. Plus, he was hungry. As the leader of the new world, the saviour of the race, he didn’t have to listen to this.

Fergus rose, snatched his designer suit jacket from his chair and clicked his fingers to his assistant, all in what seemed to be the same movement. The young girl stood quickly, grabbed his leather briefcase and ran out of the room.

“Goodbye gentlemen.” he said casually, and strode towards the glass door, his shirt straining over his rounded stomach.

The men sat, their papers scattered around them, watching Fergus loosen his tie and extract his BlackBerry from his suit pocket. But one turned, and shouted desperately:

“But Mr Valentine, what about the money?”
Fergus stopped, the mention of money making him turn his head, a small smile playing on his lips.

“Go on.” he whispered, narrowing his hazel eyes.

“Well..er, well..” the scientist muttered. Everyone knew that Valentine was only interested in the money, but the problem was, in this plan…there wasn’t any.

“Think about how much money you would save! No more prisons, no more courts! Perfect people don’t need as much money throwing at them! Just think of the money you’ll save!” he exclaimed, surprising even himself with his new knowledge and enthusiasm.

Fergus sank into the nearest chair, and did as he was asked. He thought. He thought of the money he would earn. The holiday homes, the cars. The praise and acclaim he would get for changing the world. Forever. He would be known as the leader who revolutionised the human race itself! Everything was about to change, and it would all be down to him.

“And if I was to sign..” Fergus began, “It would help the people?” he considered. Surely it was right to put the needs of his people first? It just so happened that the situation also benefited him.

“Of course it would help the people!” another man cried, his glasses slipping off his nose and his shirt damp from the August heat.
“A rebellion would destroy our people! The only thing we can do to help them is to ensure them that an uprising would never happen!”

Fergus stroked his stubble dotted skin, his BlackBerry vibrating and his stomach growling wildly.

Surely it was the right thing to do? Besides, other people would have to agree to the plans as well. He was only doing what was best for the people.

He glanced at the clock on the wall, the seconds ticking slowly away. Ten to five. His wife would be cooking his dinner soon. He could go home and put his feet up, he wouldn’t have to do any work.

Fergus Valentine lifted his eyes, and looked at the paperwork lying in front of him. Raising his eyes to look at the men, he asked:

“Where do I sign?”





* * *
Edward Pyrkins sat at the large round table, grinning at the man opposite him. He’d thought that they’d never get here. During the planning, the decades of testing and re-testing, it had felt as if they’d never finish. Sat around this table, overlooking the bustling streets of London, watching the dusk slowly fade into the darkness of night. Today was the first of many successful days. Edward just knew it.

The people on the street below scuttled through the crowds, like small ants tracing their path back home. That was all these people were to him. Ants. Small, pathetic creatures that were easy to squash. Ed was more of a…spider, who mimics the ants behaviour, and then turns and destroys them. Yes, he is seen as one of them. But he is nothing like them at all.

Ed had always wanted this. They’ve always wanted this. And it too close to reality for anyone to understand. Valentine may think he will be the one to change it all, but Edward is the man with the power, the man with the control. Those two words, scrawled in ink on the dotted line. ‘Fergus Valentine.’ Those words were all he needed. In those two words, Valentine had surrendered, let his people down by making the wrong decision. Yet again. But in those two words, he has also made Ed’s life.

Edward smiled slowly as his mind wandered slowly through his trail of thought, savouring the content settling inside him. Although there was so much to still do, Edward could already see the ending.

He watched the man opposite him, reading through the papers, checking for the loop holes. He knew there weren’t any. He’d written the contracts himself. There was no way anyone would ever escape from this.

The man raised his eyes, aware of Edwards gaze. He pushed his glasses back onto the bridge of his nose, and tilted his head in thought.

“Why can I not know what is happening?” Jonathan questioned, setting the papers down, and tucking his black biro behind his ear.
“Why won’t you let me know?”

Edward smiled slowly, his eyebrows raised in surprise. No one had questioned him in his decisions before. It was almost...refreshing.

“You really want to know?” Edward whispered, leaning forwarded, knowledge filling his eyes.

Jonathan looked puzzled, but leaned forward, not sure whether he even wanted to know what he had working on for so long.
“Yes.” he mouthed, his eyes widening in surprise and wonder.

So Edward told him. He told him his plan, his dreams. The dreams he believed had been sent to him. The whispers of ideas he heard, the notebook he scribbled them down in. His research, his failures, and eventually, his success. His revolution of the world as they knew it. He had Valentine now. That was all he needed. He’d got him.

And as he whispered the story he had been longing to tell for years, he watched his colleagues eyes fill with fear. With a sudden realisation of what was happening. What he was helping to do. He heard the wheels of the chair slowly slide backwards, and he saw the internal fight inside of the man. He knew the knowledge was too much for him. Way too much for him to ever understand.

And now Jonathan was running, running towards the door, but he was too slow. Edward has thrown himself against the glass door, and had pushed him to the floor, his head catching the corner of the table on the way down. Whoops.

But it was okay, because the man wouldn’t remember it anyway.





***
Orson Knight sat on the hard, wooden bench at the end of his street. He counted the houses, each as perfectly formed as the next. Each house was exactly the same, the same paint on the door, the same flowers in the garden. Sometimes he forgot which house was his. He’d have to walk down the row, counting down the houses until he reached number thirteen. His house. The small, metal rooms which he shared with his mother. The walls may be strong in these houses, but they’re not thick enough to disguise the sobbing coming from his mother’s room.

Orson’s father had been gone for a long time. Travelling, his mother had told him. But even as a child, Orson had seen the tears forming in her eyes, the lump appearing in her throat. Orson had always known that his father wasn’t travelling.

But Orson was no longer a child. He had just turned sixteen, and was ready to work. He started work tomorrow. That is why he sat now, on the hard wooden bench of his childhood, waiting for his mother to call him home.

As Orson looked down the street, the even paving stones slick with rain, he thought about what the street must of looked like before the revolution. He imagined the children, running through the street, plaits unravelling and cheeks flushed from playing games before dinner. He pictured the women, huddled under an umbrella to protect them from the sleet, their babies wrapped in their arms.

Orson had never seen sleet. He had never heard of a hurricane, or a tornado. That wasn’t desirable weather. So it just didn’t happen.

But the streets of his town were empty now. No children ran through the puddles of rain. Everyone was indoors, men at work, children in school. The women were hidden behind the thick, grey blinds of the kitchen window, waiting for their children to return.

Orson was no longer a child, but he was not yet a man. He didn’t fit in on this street. Him and his mother. The other little families, the mother and father, the neat, smiling children. Orson was lost, his father far away and his mother sobbing in her bedroom. It was up to Orson now.

And as he looked down the street of his childhood, the banners of Fergus Valentine’s face rippling in the breeze, he laughed. He had seen the man on the television, watched him speak at his school. He had never understood why he was their leader. Orson could lead their people. He would never harm them, only protect them. Maybe Valentine was a bad leader, maybe Orson should fight back. Maybe he should..

As Orson sat on his bench, he felt his thoughts melt together, blending into one, long incomprehensible pattern. And as his head started to clear, he could only think one thing:

Fergus Valentine was a great man.





***
Orson walked towards the grey, square building, noting the barbed wire fence and the security patrol. Great, he thought. Not only do we have security at home, but at work too?

He hadn’t been expecting this. No one in his street ever spoke of work. And as he stood, his shirt collar tickling his neck and his chocolate coloured hair swept back from his face, he understood why. Never had he seen somewhere so dull, so lifeless. He already felt the enthusiasm for work seeping from his veins, and disappearing completely.

He was surrounded by about thirty other people, all from his year in school. His year had been a lot bigger, but there were other places for the people to work. Orson didn’t understand why he’d been assigned this station, why he couldn’t go and work away, in the city or in the country. He didn’t mind where it was, as long as it was far from here. As long as he could take his mother with him.

But Orson trudged up the path, kicking loose pebbles with his steel capped boots.



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