The Tormented Mind – 4 – Pulling The Strings.

And finally, in week two of April, we are back to some kind of normality. I wrote about good things being in the shadow of evil; the vaccine has been a great success. In such a short space of time, scientists have managed to create an inoculation that keeps people alive. It is not a magic bullet in that it will keep you alive rather than free from infection, but damn, what wonders they have worked. The advances they are said to have made! Utterly wonderful. That’s the good; I could not have started with the good and not mentioned the bad.

It is The Party, duh. Good and evil are often bedfellows. Joined at the hip, both the same painting that is usually viewed from different angles. The Party could not resist jumping on the bandwagon. The vaccine was shipped in boxes covered in The Party logo; the packet with the drugs themselves had been given The Party tagline, ‘Together We’re Strong’. It is all propaganda, something good they will cling to like a limpet; the bad is all a global issue or opponents of The Party’s fault. The good is all by design, or precisely as they had planned. It is all bullshit.

I experimented with something today, and it was a success! I was shopping and had just enough money to buy a pouch of rolling tobacco. I stood in the queue and watched the monotonous drones as they all held copies of the daily hate rags. I could see the headlines and the propaganda on the front pages. They were – as per usual – attacking others. This time it was travellers, but I have seen similar with the disabled and other minority groups. The headlines set the tone for the TV news; if the shit rags are raging about foreigners, the disabled, travellers, benefit claimants, or whatever, the visual and audio media will follow. Like black mould in the corner of a room, it spreads until it has infected everything.

I finally arrived at the checkout, and the lady behind the counter looked at me with her black tarred eyes. I asked for tobacco, and she grunted acceptance and turned to grab the packet. I knew that I had the exact amount in cash for the tobacco, I had not a penny more, but I also asked for a packet of papers. The lady grabbed the items and then beeped them through the till. With the beeps done, I started to count out my cash. I did this slowly; I knew I did not have the correct amount, but I still counted. I apologised profusely whilst counting. I looked up at her, from time to time, as I counted and used my hands to just nudge her strings.

I must have looked quite mad as I stood there trying to move something that only I could see. I moved my hands as I spoke and tried to push a breeze into the strings. I thought this would be difficult, but it was really pretty easy. I moved my hands, and I suppose I looked like someone trying to swat away a fly, albeit slowly, and as I did so, the strings vibrated. It was really relatively simple. I could feel the strings vibrate, and the sensations seemed to ricochet back at me. I could feel the slight sensation in my fingertips, like pins and needles but mild and not an annoyance.

What did surprise me and came as a complete shock was the tarred eyes. I counted, apologised for the time, and worked my hands and her strings. I watched the tar sucked up and into her head as I worked. It seemed to be pulled up and through the eye socket. She must have sensed what was happening as she rubbed her eyes several times. I am sure she would not have been able to understand, but the withdrawal of the black goo must have been causing an itch. “Shit, I am sorry,” I said as I finished counting, “I seem to be a few pence short.” I knew this would be the case; I wanted to know if I could manipulate her into letting me off. I didn’t have to.

I could see her spirits lift as I moved my hands. She must have been stooped a little before and now was standing upright. It was as if she had grown an inch or two. “Don’t worry about it,” she said with a smile, looking brighter and more attentive. The black goo had almost wholly withdrawn; specs of it remained, but her bright blue eyes were now visible to me. Her smile was charming, and I could feel the warmth emanating from her. “Thank you,” I said as I turned to leave.

“No, thank you,” she said, still smiling, as I left. Did she understand what I had done? She couldn’t have, but I think she realised that something had changed. I have no way to know for sure, but it did make me feel good about myself. It felt great; I had forgotten what a wonderful feeling it was to be liked. Having written that, I now wonder if I have ever been liked. I am not sure that I have. This is a new feeling then, and it feels great. This has made me realise that I may have never truly been happy. That is a strange thing, but maybe many of us must live our lives like this. Maybe it was my becoming showing me a better way; was it guiding me? I had no way to know, but I liked this feeling. I could be happy in life with this feeling all the time.

Of course, no good thing lasts forever, and the comedowns are never fun. I have done various drugs in the past, but nothing could have prepared me for a happiness comedown. I felt like life had been ripped from me, and everything I ever took even the slightest joy in doing was now blackness and mundane. Books that I enjoyed seemed lifeless and bland. A TV show on a streaming network felt as funny and fresh as a mouldy banana. Even music, something I usually find calming, sounded like an old car engine with its timing off. The beats of the drums and bass in the classic rock seemed to be a second out. In the end, I slept, but that was not without problems.

I dreamt of a world, a world, unlike this one. It had been devastated by climate change but was now coming out of the other side. Humans seemed to be non-existent, and animals and greenery had taken back what was once theirs. I do not know how I knew this was a world recovering from humans, but I just did. I suppose that is the power of dreams; they can give you the gift of perception. The ability to understand without knowing what you are seeing.

I watched as small robots joined the animals in foraging through the undergrowth. They climbed over and through the metal frames of human structures that were derelict. The robots seemed to be intended to be animal-like; there were many different varieties, but I could see how each design was based upon the animal kingdom. Mother nature is the world’s best engineer, but these robots were not designed to hide their motorised nature. Each looked silver and mechanical, but the animals and robots seemed happy living together. They ignored one another and continued with their own business. Was this what humanity has become, I wondered? “No, they are Wilp and Cutie’s tools,” a female voice replied to my thoughts. Dreams, my dreams anyway, are a little like interactive fiction. Poorly written interactive fiction, you have the illusion of choice. Still, in reality, you end up in the same place no matter what path you take. I write this now, and I am kicking myself. Shouldn’t I have asked something more important? Who was the voice? Who was Cutie? Instead, I just said, “What are they doing?”

“Looking for food,” the voice replied. Oh, I thought to myself. Then I did ask a question that may have been pertinent. “Is this our future?” I asked.

“It is both your past and your future,” the voice replied.

“I don’t understand,” I said, confused. The voice said nothing, and I was left with just the noises of the animals and robots for company. The world without humans is such a noisy but quiet place. I noticed this phenomenon during the lockdown, but it hit home in this dream. The rustling of the woodlands, the chirping of the birds, and even the slight hum of the robots all seemed amplified. The noises of humans and man’s creations were yet another thing blocked by our brain’s blind-spot mechanism. The wilful blindness to what we do not want to see or hear. “That message was not for you,” the voice returned. Had that happened in my waking life, I’d no doubt of jumped, but the soothing female voice came as naturally as a gentle breeze. “But this next one is.”

The world turned black, and I felt like I was falling into a pitch-black swimming pool. I floated in calmness, I could feel the pressure of something keeping me afloat, but I was perfectly dry. “They are coming for you,” the voice said. It had followed me from the world to this place of darkness. “Who?” I asked.

“The Party,” the voice replied.

I felt myself being dragged backwards and ripped from the place of dreams. Invisible hands that I could not feel dragged me downwards and deeper into the nothing. I felt no fear, though I did not know that I was dreaming at the time; I just felt a sense of tranquillity and soothing. I blinked, and that was when I awoke.

I blinked awake, but the warning was still fresh in my mind. I felt an urgency and wanted to get out of my home. I did not know if this was misplaced, had the dream spooked me? I only knew that I had a feeling that all was not well. I had the sudden desire to run and escape. I grabbed my things, shoved them into a rucksack, and headed for the door. “They are coming for you,” was still ringing in my mind as I snatched the rucksack up and threw it around my shoulder. I ran from the door and let it slam behind me without looking back.

I ran to the park where I had seen the homeless guy beaten and murdered. The real world was filled with noises that drowned out the wildlife. Cars and motorbikes farted away behind me as I sat on my bench. I tried to not look at the cars; I felt open and vulnerable and did not want to turn around and find that I had been spotted or being watched. I felt watched momentarily; it passed quickly like the birds in the sky, but it kept me on edge. It is not paranoia if they are really out to get you.

“They are coming for you.”


“The Party.” 

I sat and waited. My nerves were jangling like a wind chime in a storm, and I jumped at every noise. Frayed would have been a chronic understatement. My whole mind was like a wire about to snap on a windy suspension bridge. I sat, and my foot inadvertently started to tippy tap on the floor. I slammed my right hand down on my knee to try and stop it and placed my left on the rucksack. I felt the plastic of my old laptop and the softness of the few clothes I had jammed in there. Finally, my hand rested on the cool metal of the gun. I let my finger run down the barrel and caressed the trigger guard through the bag. Was this time? Should I kill myself? Maybe that was the answer; maybe it was the escape. The comedowns… damn, the comedowns.

No, I could not do it. I took my hand from the gun and placed it on the other knee to try and make the thoughts withdraw. I am crazy, but I am sure I am right! I will not let them win! I will not let The Party destroy the world. There is too much at stake to let my insecurities and paranoia win. I lifted myself from the bench and grabbed the rucksack; I threw it back over my shoulder and turned to head home. I was being silly; I had let a bloody dream spook me.

I had almost convinced myself that I was just worrying about nothing when I rounded the corner to my home. I stood shocked and stunned as I watched the police smashing down my door. Some were armed, some wore suits, but all wore protective vests. How had my dream known? Was it my dream, or was it that protective blind spot in my brain relaying a message to my subconscious? Maybe I had seen something but not acknowledged it. I turned, and I ran once again. I ran aimlessly and blindly. I do not know if it was my brain, fate, or maybe even God! Not that I believe, but I ended up back where I had started and stood in the park. The circular nature of my existence didn’t bother me; had I thought about it too much, I would probably go crazier. I sat down under a tree and bought out my laptop to write this month’s entry. Once I had finished, I put my head back and cried.

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