The family came back three days later.
‘Mark, luv, we’re home,’ Mum yelled, slamming the front door against the porch wall.
‘Half dead and starving,’ added Billy, stumbling over his own bike.
I was in the living room, 90% watching Doctor Who, the other per cent writing the second chapter of my maggie opus [as Barry called them].
They all piled in, Dad carrying a rolled up tent, the rest of them clutching a couple of pegs.
‘Son, you missed a cracking mountain.’
‘Mark, it was fucking hell…’
‘Billy, don’t spoil things. It was lovely.’
‘…serious, think my legs are gone.’
They all sat down and gawped at the TV screen. Charlie looked at the linoleum floor. Didn’t move for several minutes. I asked her directly if she was alright and she nodded.
‘So, what’s been going on here, son? Any dramas?’ Dad asked, grabbing the remote.
‘Not much. Face is still the same.’
‘Well, wait till you get older, son. Then you’ll see a few changes.’
He laughed, they all did, except Charlie.
I slouched against the back board of my bed and re-read the first chapter.
The second was becoming a bit of a struggle, so I wanted to go back and see how I’d set everything up; the two main characters, the spaceship, the aliens…all that stuff.
It didn’t take long.
So I read through again.
Then went through it a third time, taking it slow to try and absorb all the words.
Then a fourth time.
A fifth time.
Too exhausted to do a sixth, I skimmed back through and wrote out a summary:
‘The science-buff, bad guy walks down a huge, glass-walled corridor to board the spaceship, talking about how brutal the aliens were in combat, how naturalism was shit, and then at the end of it, he reaches the junction of the corridor and shoves into the other guy, the Salvo Cheung character. He bullies Salvo, tells him he’s an idiot then they split and walk off. Back in their rooms, the siren sounds, flashes green, and a tannoy General orders everyone to battle stations.’
No, no, no. Way too bland.
Split POV in the same chapter.
The science buff bad guy just walking and talking, the Salvo character overly passive. And the dialogue; why were they all talking the same way…and so rigid too?
Edit: why had I written them to talk the same way, and so rigid too?
Why were there only two people on the whole ship?
‘This is wank,’ I muttered, punching the pillow beside me.
Complete wank. I’m not a writer, I’m a wretch.
Fucking kasu cunt.
Closing the file with a feral hiss, I looked around the desktop.
I opened up Dream-Fucker and read the first chapter again.
‘Okay…maybe not the worst wretch out there.’
After writing another page, re-reading it, deleting it and staring trance-like at the Akira poster on the wall, I picked up one of the other books I’d found in the library.
Notes on Anarchism – Jeff Fahey
No idea why I’d taken it out. Related to anarchist theory perhaps? An elaboration on Fisher or Bōl? Then there was the name, Jeff Fahey. I remembered wondering if it was the same guy who’d done the Lawnmower Man, and if it was, why the hell he was writing about anarchism…
No, but it was more than that; the book seemed familiar somehow, like I’d read it before. Probably when I was Japanese.
Yeah, suppose I must’ve done. Strange how I couldn’t remember it though. I assumed most of the memories had come back by now and, even if I couldn’t recall them, they were still in there somewhere, lying dormant like…something sleepy…but if Jeff Fahey wasn’t there, if I couldn’t remember any of him or his book then…
Ah, forget the struggle. Maybe if I read some, it’ll come back.
I opened to a random page somewhere in the middle and hopped through.
‘There are two dilemmas for the true anarchist:
1] Despite superficial appearances in certain nations, the capitalist system remains unchallenged, entrenched, not to mention corrupt and unworkable. Like a cosy, cunning parasite, it lurks. To fight it head on is futile, as has been seen by the failure of recent initiatives, therefore the battle must be waged from outside the confines of its mechanisms.
2] The current system is normal, accepted by just enough people to ensure its continued existence. As Bakunin once said, everyone loves the idea of a shopping mall with a water slide.
From this contradiction, the crux of the issue becomes clear: how can you demolish a system that belongs to, and is steered by, the enemy? A system that many despise, but also have no wish to die in order to replace?
A socialist would say:
Guillotine the rich [figuratively].
Tax the greedy fuckers.
Take the reins of the national budget and redistribute based on need.
Allow the workers to own the place where they work.
An anarchist would say:
Dual power, horizontal system.
Break concept of hierarchy.
Collectivize at the grassroots level, not from above.
Wear black and red.
Both with some good ideas, some melodramatic, yet which course is the correct one to follow?
Does one not retain hierarchy?
Is the other not utopian?
The true answer is, of course, both glib and simplistic: Bakunin was right.
I put down the book and looked at the LEGO Captain Eto. Tried to think in depth about what I’d just read. But it was hard to dwell on any one detail.
One thought stuck: hadn’t Liverpool succeeded at some of this already? The collectives idea, the communal budgeting. That was us. And hadn’t some other countries done it too? Ghana, Slovenia, Finland, others that I wasn’t completely sure about…
I picked up the book and checked the inside cover. Ah, that’s why. It was twenty years old, before the UK broke up. Was there a new version out? Updated with the current initiatives included?
Lifting my phone off the pillow, I checked online.
Yeah, there was something. Not a new version, but a new book. The Next Step Forward – Jeff Fahey. I clicked on it and read through the summary. Apparently, Fahey had noted the various changes in the world and was adamant that it was a capitalist trick. The Collectives in certain nations were top-down, not grassroots, and power had allowed it to happen therefore it couldn’t truly be a revolutionary act. Liverpool was name-checked too – a city still feeding the capitalist tick at its core, with most workers shunning the collectives and seeking employment in private businesses near Bold Street and the Albert Docks.
Wah, that was me.
Fahey was talking about me.
And he was kind of right. Liverpool was like that. And the way he said it made me angry that it was like that. Bol had said the same things too. And Fisher, before he died. To some degree. Actually, he was more descriptive, than prescriptive if I was remembering his slow cancelling of the future thing right…and miserably predictive…
But…how could it all be changed back?
System-wise, what could we do?
Get rid of the state completely?
Make more zines?
Shaking my head, I picked up a pen and tore a page out of the notebook. I thought of a thousand different things to write down, but none of them would coalesce into an actual sentence. Or a coherent theory. The only thing I did come up with was; what the hell happened to Lawnmower Man 2?
Did they ever make it?
Was more than ten quid spent on the CGI?
Why were the effects in the first one so bad?
Even Doctor Who creatures looked better and they were just men in costumes. Or women in costumes. Or creatures in costumes. Or the director in a costume.
What did they do to you, Fahey?
I put down the pen and stared at the wall again, at the posters that seemed both alien and familiar at the same time.
I tried to conjure up genuine solutions, mostly on the anarchist side, but all I could think of was a Japanese guy telling me not to step on people.
And telling me not to pick on kids who had small towels.
Then a VR place with a tattooed Japanese guy.
Pluto 2280, the porn version.
Tattooed guy confused.
The two of us in a bedroom.
May have to cut you, teme.
My brain registered the spirals I’d scribbled on the notepad and wondered what the fuck I was doing.
Exile the Japanese shit, it’s history.
Focus on the topic at hand.
The system is set…completely set, ossified. Nothing we can do about it. Maybe one day, if enough people cared, if the state got sloppy…
Forget. It. Mark.
I pushed the notepad away and looked at the screen again. Re-read the previous chapter of my shitty sci-fi novel. Then a page of Lunar Crone to balance things out. Then a chapter of Dream Fucker to feel like a king again.
When I was done, I closed all the files and just stared at the space background on the screen, reading out the names of some of the folders.
Just past the Byrgius Crater was something titled: ‘PLEASE READ MARK’.
It was the last file saved and the letters were capitalised, so maybe it was something important. Or desperate. Or dangerous. Animal porn? Homeless snuff?
Checking the door was closed first, I dived in.
‘Me again, mate, lol sorry.
I’m hoping you’ve found the other thing first, cos if you haven’t then this is gonna be even more bizarre than that one hehe…anyway, I’m gonna imagine that you’re reading this one second, so here we go…
You’ve probably read some of my stuff by now and seen how shit it is lol, or maybe you think it’s not that bad, who knows? But, if you wanna get into it more then there’s this website I go on quite a lot…ok, every day, mate, lol, I can’t help it, it’s addictive…and it’s a pretty good place to get people to look at your writing and say what they think…actually, I’m not sure if you’ll remember this anyway, but I didn’t wanna take the chance…it’s called www.authomaton.com and you can use my e-mail and password to log on there…you still remember those, right?
Also, one of the biggest regrets I have is on that site too. It almost stopped me doing the surgery actually, but then I realised it was stupid to run your life on what you do online…I dunno if I’m explaining it well or not…what I mean is, I don’t wanna mistake my online life for real life, para-social for social.
Anyway, there’s a girl on there, Sadia, I talked to her loads and we got on pretty well…she’s American and a writer too and pretty young…she’s well fit too, seriously man check out her photos and you’ll see why I struggled. Only problem is she lives in California so…yeah, I guess that’s why I gave up on her and went for what I’m doing…or did what I did [guess it’s done by now haha]. But you don’t have to, man. If you wanna chase her, I don’t mind…I mean, you’re me now so I guess it’s like I would be getting her too even though I’m not inside my own head anymore. Can’t believe I’m writing all this, sounds like I’m turning into David Icke or something lol…
Okay, really gotta go and get this surgery done…I think I’m late already lol. Follow my advice if you want, it’s up to you…your body now, not mine.