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Monday, 29 October 2012

Blog 102: He Follows

I wish I lived in a world or a universe where death doesn’t exist, maybe even where it wasn’t coming for me or maybe just a world where I hadn’t pissed of the man who used to be my best friend.

It maybe sounds over dramatic with only that much information to judge my crisis on but only until you know a fraction of how good my former friend is at his job. He’s the gun nut son of gun nut parents who indulged his infatuation with ballistic weaponry from a very young age. He said he fired his first gun when he was seven but I’m sure he was lying, it had to be earlier than that. He knows the name and history of every gun in existence and follows the development updates of future weapons compulsively. I’ve seen him disassemble, reassemble and fire more than a dozen guns blindfolded.

These details are the backdrop of the picture I’m setting you but now to the mid-ground; he was in the army, trained further to kill for the country and he did just that with distinction for years. That was where I met him, straight out of basic training and off to war, me with childish dreams of reliving my best console FPS moments and him armed with memories of hunting with his mum and dad. That’s not where his résumé ends however; after so many years in the army a man is encouraged to leave because by that point it is presumed that he’ll suffer some form of accident that may prove more expensive than death for the armed forces and their lawyers. For me this encouragement was gladly obliged, I’d tagged along that far because my best friend was a god of war but without him I knew I wouldn’t last another day. When he left the army though it wasn’t to settle down and live a quiet life, he was just looking for his next challenge and wanted to be his own boss. I made another huge mistake with my life there and then by accepting his offer to join a mercenary group who would patrol the areas of hostility considered untenable by our government. We were outside the law, if we did something wrong then the government and its armed forces weren’t to blame it was just some trigger happy idiots they could deny contracting. Things were actually quieter in the beginning, we painted in the colours of the enemy that the locals were used to but they learnt soon enough where our money came from and their bullets followed soon after. Yet again his godly skill kept me alive where I should have died years ago, I’m good with a gun but not good enough.

Now for the foreground; the reason I’m running, the reason I’m scared. When we settled into the life here and dug in we started making friends with some of the locals, the ones we don’t shoot at. We bought a compound and one or two of us got to know some of the locals very well indeed. He met a young woman, beautiful and clever and he managed to engage her in conversation she presumably found charming. She’s been spending a lot of time with him which annoys her family no end, not that they’d dare tell him to leave her alone. She’ll be a doctor soon, treating people with illnesses and diseases and idiots who risk their lives and health for money. She has a pretty face, cute smile and dazzling eyes and that is basically why I slept with her.

Why she slept with me I don’t know but I know he knows which is why I’m running. I’m not literally running of course because if I was he’d have picked me off with his favourite sniper rifle half an hour ago. I’m driving full speed down a rusty road to who-knows-where and trying to tell myself that I’m just imagining the dust on the horizon behind me and the sound of an engine that’s slowly creeping up on me.

I’m not imagining it though and the vehicle gradually becomes clearer through the heat haze. Eventually I can see him behind me and I wonder why he hasn’t shot me yet. I guess that in his rage he’s forgotten a long range weapon and only has the revolver he always keeps strapped to his hip. He gets closer and closer until his vehicles alongside mine and I see him tapping the glass of his window. Instead of trying to conduct a conversation with my killer in a moving vehicle whilst we churn up the dust of a near desert I stop completely and he shoots past before hitting the brakes too. I look at the gun on the seat next to me but know I can’t pull it on him as he reverses and gets out of the all-terrain vehicle he was chasing me in.

I lower the window and wait for death as he walks slowly towards me. He has his hand on the gun as he comes closer and I close my eyes and tell myself that everything is fine like I have been for years.
“Damn mate, you screwed up didn’t you? This is some mess.” I hear his hands slap the car door as he leans in through the window. I look at him as he stares me in the eyes. “Why did you have to sleep with her idiot? That was so stupid.” I gulped. “Do you know what this means.”  I nodded. “My girlfriend’s sister just slept with a dumbass outsider. Do you know how much crap we have to sort out now?” I looked at him.
“What, her sister?” He raised his eyebrows slightly.
“Who the hell did you think she was? Oh, right. Is that why you stole that old man’s car? Were you running from me? If you ever have to run from me you’re gonna have to pick a better getaway vehicle than this heap. Turn it around and take it back to the village then get yourself to that woman’s dad. You have some explaining to do. Maybe I should have mentioned she was a twin. You’re in deep crap.”
“I know.”
“Did you really think you would get away from me if you’d slept with my girlfriend? I’d put a shot between your eyes before you could get your pants back on.”
“I know, believe me I know.” I knew, all too well, just how lucky I was.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Blog 101: My Last Dream

This building seems endless, walls covered in that wallpaper that’s supposed to look old but’s too bright and shiny to pull it off. This place is old though, ancient and possessed of such a rich history but always kept near enough with the times, too much to have maintained the ‘genuinely old’ feeling of all of the tourist sites that were barely used by the nobility that were only vaguely aware they owned them. This public house sits at the foot of the castle that was only around a few hundred years before. The two must be warm friends by now, my watering hole quenching the thirst of those who patrolled the walls above back in the days when they were under threat of hostile invasion and now that the tourists come in waves, flooding the castle without opposition.

I barely need to leave this street to live my life, the one that will end soon. My home occupies the two floors above the tavern, Indian and Chinese take-away shops either side of the pub and a chip shop that opens at midnight between the supermarket and electrical store across the cobbled road. I go weeks sometimes without moving more than half a mile from my home, why would I?

My abode is mine so long as I live up to the high standards of my university which occupies the two floors above my home, the three that rest on the arch that crosses the road and two above the other side of the road. There’s a basement somewhere but it doesn’t have a window and after all of the twists and turns I have no idea where it is.

The university accepts only the ten greatest candidates it can find every year whose family can pay the fees and keep their silence. For the money, which my parents never discussed, I’m being taught twelve hours a day by the greatest minds on the planet. It’s a tough regime with a twenty five per cent drop out rate but its alumni occupy a disproportionate numbers of pages in Nobel prize-winner lists.

I’m in my second year now; there are only eight of us now. The other two couldn’t hack it. Soon there will be seven; I’m not long for this world. I didn’t know it when I drifted off but I have a few loose connections in my brain that will be severed by my movements when I wake. This is my last dream.

Being asleep this isn’t one of the visions that people talk about when they have near death experiences whilst awake. Everything is more fluid, the world is a bit more as I’d want it than it ever was. The girl I like smiles back when I relive talking to in this last mirage. She’ll be a famous activist and campaigner for peace, she’ll oversee treaties when war threatens and because I’ll be dead she’ll actually remember me.

My best friend Martin Bashir will be the owner of the largest renewable energy company in Britain by the time he’s thirty and the largest in the world when he hits fifty seven. He’ll be nominated for a Nobel peace prize that will quite rightly go to the woman who cured Anti-Imuno-Deficiency-Syndrome.

I’m not the only one of my year that will die young, the red haired boy we never talk to will die less than a decade from now but not before he’s changed the face of music and become a legend the whole world will mourn.

My younger brother will follow me here too and my father will be happy for him to have made money with his investments though in reality the money would have made a fourth as much in a high interest account.

I will be found by Martin, my eyes open to the world I will never see. I walk my last steps through this endless shady tavern, past the fake-guild frame on the huge plasma TV that makes it look like a cheap black mirror. I know all of this and that it will be lost to the world when I walk through the emergency exit into the bright sunlight of death. This was my last dream and now I wake.