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A. Vencto

(written in 2633)

Over the course of forty nights we watch the dreams of forty different people, forty different individuals, some haunted by nightmares, others oblivious to their fears and faults. Throughout all these dreams the ‘hero’ of the work gradually makes his way through the half-imagined, half-real city of Altans, getting ever closer to its centre, and to the dark destiny that awaits him.


The Anarchist - an excerpt

You can’t help it, it’s in your blood. Through the constricted logic of your mind these decisions make complete sense, an upturned truth where black becomes white. Let it be; nothing’s going to change your mind. You have decided what needs to be done, and decided too that you must be the agent of this. Your commitment to this cause now is absolute and fixed.

You woke up this morning and did what you normally do, what we all do, you and I.

You wash your face, scrubbing off sleep’s starchy cocoon. And then you’re ready for the day.

But this is a day like no other. For in the head you’ve just refreshed, despite the brisk, cleansing shock of the cold, still you harbour your plans, still you intend to go ahead with the act you’ve hatched, as if it’s just the routine of the average week.

And yet it is not. And if it doesn’t change you, or kill you in the process, it will certainly change the world.

That’s what you hope for, after all, isn’t it? To change the world. Don’t we all?

Whether to change it for a little while or, if the shock is timed to perfection, to change it for years, decades, even centuries… Now that would be a result. To know that your single act, so easily planned, so subtly executed, can knock events like dominoes into the far future and fan out eerily to touch millions of lives, like veins on a leaf.

That’s your aim today. You get dressed, pulling on your socks, adjusting your collar, straightening your trousers. You even comb your hair, and check your teeth in the mirror, grimacing like a mindless ape. Those little eyes glint with dark intent.

Then it’s out of the front door, down the stairs, out onto the street, along the pavement. And into the City you go, gathering your courage for this unspeakable act.

In your bag, slung casually over your shoulder, is the device; also a set of clean clothes for your possible escape; in your pockets the knife and the pistol. It is all planned so precisely, down to the last detail.

Always the same…

And now you approach the City itself, and knowingly seek out the street, the square, the precinct where the most damage can be done; or maybe you seek the figure whose demise will cause the greatest mayhem and fear. And here you will set up your stall, like some soulless trader in terror.

How can you set this in motion and walk away? Where is the human in you?

Perhaps it is the joy that you are tearing off a page, hoping to start a new line of our history, that keeps you from collapsing, from breaking down on the street and sobbing until someone asks you what sin it is you think you’ve committed. Perhaps it is the straightforward certainty that your job is to be done. The wires are primed, the detonator is set in place, and now you carefully put the bag down; perhaps leaving it on a train and letting it complete the last part of the journey on its own, unnoticed and untraceable as it glides into the chaos it’s about to unleash. Maybe, with patience, you hope at some point to have it reach the very centre of the City, where its effect on the ordinary public will spark an eruption like no other… Or perhaps place it under a bench or in a crowded bar, where those who are about to die are at their least inhibited, relaxed and unfettered in their insobriety.

Checking with one last look to confirm its readiness, like one who checks the oven is off or the front door is locked, you stand and look around, to see if anyone has noticed. They don’t; they have their lives to live.

For a few minutes more, at least.

Then you walk away. And in this act lies your most heinous crime.

© Copyright Paul David Holland 2017