The fumes of diesel thicken the air. Huge dogs tethered in shadows watch and menace. Muddy paths appear where grass used to be. Cables criss-cross, half trodden into the dirt.
Why do I notice these things first? Why not the flashing lights, the shrieks of joy, the roar of machinery, the smells of candyfloss and fried onion?
I’m an optimist … I think I am. I’m a good person too and try to be nice to people. But … I don’t have to look too far inside myself to touch the rage. I don’t know if everyone has it; it’s not the sort of thing one speaks about.
It taints the way I see things. Like I should be looking at the sexy woman serving burgers but instead I concentrate on the two men walking towards her. There’s something in their speed and hunched body language. Violence? Evil intention? It’s hard to say but it’s not pleasant. I really don’t know why people have to be nasty to each other. It demeans them and upsets me. It’s really simple; all the prophets, philosophers and profound people were right: just wise up, share, be considerate and the world is a better place.
I’m also a bit of a wimp and inclined to panic so when I find myself running towards the two men as they punch and kick the woman – I’m truly stunned.
So is the first bloke I connect with as I jump high and ram two feet in his back. Landing, I’m ready to launch myself at the other. He looks at me for a split second and the woman gets one hell of a kick in. That’s two big men down.
The first is struggling to rise; there’s still fight in him and I’m shocked at my ferocity as I stamp on his jaw. I know where my anger came from, two big blokes against a small woman. That sort of thing just shouldn’t happen but even so I think I overdid it with my foot.
The two attackers scrabble away. They won’t be back in a hurry.
‘You all right?’ The woman asks me. She’s relaxed like this sort of thing happens all the time. Close up, she’s even sexier. Tight leather from neck to toe shows every curve even the crests of her pelvis.
‘Yeah… yeah. Fine thanks. You OK?’ I answer.
She tightens the band holding her ponytail tight. ‘Thanks, mister knight in shining armour. That could have been a bad moment for me.’ She grins. ‘I’m Judy, and you?’
I shrug. ‘Jarno.’
‘Great name. I think I owe you a burger, Jarno. Onions?’
‘Uh … yeah, thanks. You don’t have to.’
‘You didn’t have to help me…’
‘Why did they attack you?’
‘Don’t know. Salsa, chilli, hot chilli … or my speciality: demon sauce?’
‘I dunno; you choose.’
Her eyes sparkle with laughter; she tosses her hair and does a circular movement of her shoulder. I think she means it to be seductive. It’s not, but what the hell? It’s the fact that she meant it that works for me.
She says, ‘Demon sauce it is. Try it. If you don’t like it I’ll give you another with something milder in.’ She assembles the burger in a blur of practised fingers. ‘Here.’ She wraps it in paper and hands it to me.
I take what I hope looks like a manly bite – the sauce is stunning. ‘Actually that’s awesome! Really good. You make that yourself?’
‘Of course but no one ever said anything so nice about it. Maybe it’s an extra good batch.’ She holds her hand out. ‘Can I take a bite?’
I pass it to her. ‘Sure.’
Her eyes close as she samples it and moans with sensual pleasure. ‘Wow!’ She says and hands it back, her fingers lingering against mine.
This time I take a huge bite – and scream. Fire burns my mouth and throat, even into the salivary glands at the corners of my jaw. She’s added something – something infernal from her own mouth.
I’m staggering, lurching, crashing against a caravan. Snarling, a Doberman launches at me only to be stopped by its leash.
People look away, like they’re seeing someone blind drunk.
God knows where I am or how long I’ve been stumbling around. I must be on the other side of the fairground. The burning has settled a bit and a bottle of icy water helps. I’m shaking; the cold plastic is nice against my sweating forehead.
What on earth did that woman do? That wasn’t chilli, more like acid, but my tongue and mouth don’t seem damaged.
The heat hasn’t faded so much as passed into my body. It flickers and smoulders; not a bad feeling just weird. I sit on a grassy bank in the dark. Dew soaks into my jeans. Below me the fairground people pack up for the night. The noise fades, dogs are freed from their tethers and walked, lights go off and quiet settles over the scene.
Time to return to my bedsit and another night of lonely boredom. A shortcut takes me through trees and bushes, along the back of the station and into the waste ground by the industrial estate. I didn’t expect people to be up and about – this place is deserted at night. Car doors slam and people crash through the undergrowth.
Someone runs towards me, twigs snapping and tearing at clothes. A woman carrying a screaming baby appears in the dim light of the distant motorway lights. She’s terrified, panting, sweating, looking all around like someone’s after her.
I feel the same surge of anger I felt when the men attacked the woman at the fair. Mothers and babies shouldn’t have to run in terror: it’s not right.
She stops when she sees me, hunches over, looks to the sides to see if there’s another footpath to run down but there are only thorny bushes. I raise a hand and smile. It doesn’t calm her. I step aside and motion her past me. She runs, sweat trickling down the jet-black skin of her neck. Her dress whips me as she dashes past.
People in pursuit, men. There’s noise everywhere, people shouting and forcing their way amongst the scrub. Two figures storm up the path towards me.
Now what the hell am I going to do? A lifetime’s training in no-hope and failure, of being bullied at school and ignored thereafter has not prepared me for this moment.
But instead of the cold emptying terror that is my usual response to danger, the fury mingles with the heat inside me. I feel strong, calm and dangerous.
The figures slow and glare at me. ‘Who are you?’ The speaker doesn’t wait for an answer but looks back to the other. ‘Take him. I’ll get the woman.’
I’m not a fighter and don’t know what to do. That thing at the fairground was dead lucky. If one of those blokes had hit me I’d still be whimpering and daydreaming about what should have happened instead – anything that led to me winning and being heroic.
The first man dashes towards me and I raise a hand to protect myself. Still three metres away he stops, jerks like he’s run into a glass door, staggers back and bumps into the bloke behind him. They look around, hunched, confused, trying to work out what just happened. The leader gathers himself up and launches at me again. This time I raise my hand and make a pushing motion. Old leaves and twigs fly up from a shockwave that hits both of them, crashing one against a tree and the other through a bush and into some crumpled corrugated iron.
Both men lie still, leaves and other debris settle as the vibrations of the iron fade.
More shouts. I think the noise attracted people. A tall black bloke pushes branches aside, steps on to the path, sees the two men lying and looks at me. His hand whips under his jacket and pulls out a knife.
I feel no fear just an incredible calm. There’s a force inside me; I can shape it, move it.
The black bloke approaches, poised to attack or run, eyes narrowed and flicking glances from side to side.
I stand, weight on one foot, hands in pockets. Not a threatening stance but the man looks fearful. I think my lack of concern worries him.
‘Who are you? What are you doing here?’ He growls. Turning slightly he shouts, ‘Boys, over here.’
More movement in the darkness, people swearing and stumbling in the poor light.
Behind the man a woman screams. That’s it; I’ve had enough of people being hurt by others: it’s got to stop. I walk forward. The bloke tenses, and when I’m in reach launches his whole body behind the point of the knife. He may as well have tried to stab concrete. The blade snaps against my T-shirt and he bounces off me sideways, tripping and falling in the mud.
I walk towards the screams. Without looking back I feel the man rise and run towards me. A simple thought blasts him up, back and wraps him among branches in one of the taller trees. God knows how he’s going to get down; I don’t think he has enough working limbs left to do it.
I leave the path and stride onto an apron of concrete. Two men and a woman work at the rear of an articulated lorry. As I approach I can see they’re struggling with a boy. Maybe they want to put him in the back.
Feisty little bugger; he’s putting up quite a fight and shouting, ‘MUM!’ A savage punch to the side of his face silences him and he sags, wailing. The woman’s arm rises to strike again – and comes off – spinning through the air.
Maybe that was a bit cruel but if that’s the sort of thing she uses her arm for then she’s better off without it.
It takes her and the two men a moment to work out what happened. They drop the boy and look around, see me approaching. The woman staggers, clutches her useless shoulder. Blood pumps over the concrete.
Raising my hands I gesture as if pulling the container’s doors further open. Metal screeches and explodes. Of course they land on the two men – all nice and tidy. Inside the lorry, huddled figures, men women and children, bound and gagged, stare out in horror.
Leaping up, I kneel by the first group and tear at their bonds. Cable ties, hard and narrow, gods they must be sore on wrists. How can people treat others like this?
After freeing them all I ease myself through the crowded container. People rub sore limbs, hug children and each other, look at me with thanks and fear in their expressions.
I jump out and head home, only to see another man leap out of a car and run towards me. He’s carrying something small. I think it’s a pistol or machine pistol. Shit, I’ve really had enough of this. If I ruled the world things like that wouldn’t be made.
He raises it, points it at me and shouts something. I can’t even be bothered to listen. The gun drops, his clothes shred and fly in twisting ribbons. Stark naked he rises, limbs flailing, into the night. I leave him tangled in a group of four power cables between pylons. If he survives he’ll have a nice story for the police and rescue services.
A car, hidden in shadow, starts up and accelerates away. Black, with tinted windows I think it contains people who realise they’re outclassed and want to escape. It’s no big deal for me to bring a wall down and cover them in a thick heap of rubble. At least I didn’t kill them. I think restraint is in order when you know you’re winning.
No further incidents, well, until I get to the block of bedsits and flats.
Burger girl leans at the entrance. She’s smoking a cigar. Street lights glint off the shiny tight leather that suits her so well.
She sees me and throws the cigar down, drops to her knees facing me and says, ‘My lord.’
Well, bugger me. None of this was in my horoscope this morning.
‘What?’ I ask.
She looks up. ‘May I rise, my Lord?’
‘Stand up and stop pissing around.’
She rescues her cigar, rises, leans against the door frame again and takes a puff.
I ask, ‘What was your name again? Sorry if that seems rude but it’s been a weird evening.’
‘Call me Judy, my Lord.’
‘And I’m Jarno, not your lord. What did you do to that burger?’
‘I added a little sauce … Jarno.’
‘Sort of. Normally it just makes people sick – they tend to return and complain, sometimes violently. But I knew one day it would enter the right man and bring my lord and master back.’
Maybe if she’d given me one piece of information at a time I wouldn’t be standing here with my mouth opening and closing.
She pushes herself from the wall and nods to the accommodation block. ‘You don’t need to go back to that dump. I’ll find something better for you.’ She reaches out. ‘It would be an honour to take your arm and walk with you.’
‘Fine.’ I run through the inventory of things I’m leaving behind. Clothes, most of them dirty and all of them old, a toothbrush… It’s rather pathetic how little I possess. The only thing I’m going to miss is my collection of porn, but, with a sexy woman that calls me ‘my lord’ maybe that won’t be such and issue.
I’m glad to hear the strident sound of sirens converging on the industrial estate. Professional, people who will sort out the mess, take over where I left off, put the bad people in prison and look after the others. Maybe that was some human trafficking thing. I’m glad it’s all getting sorted.
Judy has an arm around mine. She rests her head on my shoulder as we walk. ‘It’s so good to have you back, my Lord. I’ve felt so vulnerable without you and your strength. Did becoming a human give you the insight you wanted – the purpose you were looking for?’
Good question – if I knew what she’s on about. I think hard but don’t answer. I don’t want to give away that I have no idea what’s going on. We walk into the centre of town, all bright lights and groups of people sitting round tables on pavements.
I’m so hungry. The very thought of food sends my salivary glands to full throttle. My mouth waters and I taste the fire Judy spat into my burger, but ten times more powerful. It doesn’t hurt – I think I’m beyond being hurt. The fire spreads through me, lighting me up with energy.
Judy gasps, stops, looks up at me. ‘I can feel it … power. She kneels again and rests her forehead against my knee. ‘I am your faithful and devoted servant.’ People stare, drink or hold food halfway to their mouths.
‘Get up, Judy. Let’s get some food.’
Again she looks up at me, wide pupils and eyes. ‘I will serve you,’ she says and marches into the nearest restaurant. ‘Food! Bring it all and we will choose.’ Turning she asks, ‘Where would you sit, my Master.’ Her eyes are still wide like I’m the most amazing thing she’s ever seen.
‘Anywhere. But can you quit the master, lord thing? I’m Jarno, right.’
‘As you wish.’ She turns back to a waiter. ‘I asked for food…’
The sound of her voice, a cross between the hiss of a cobra and growl of a tiger, cuts through the room. Customers look away, look down, grab their coats and start to leave. Judy’s voice is the sexiest thing I’ve ever heard – but these people don’t seem to think so.
Any minute Judy will grow fangs and suck all the blood from my neck or something. Nothing this good happens without an ending like that but I could do with the free meal first.
I guide Judy to a table and pull a chair out for her. She looks to me and the chair, like she’s amazed I’m doing something for her and not the other way around.
‘What’s going on, Judy? What’s this all about?’
‘You are my master, a spirit of great power. I am your servant. You lead; I follow. That is all.’ She looks at the nearest waiter and narrows her eyes. He freezes in fear.
‘Judy, I don’t think you should frighten people.’
She turns back to me. ‘Is this a sign? You have a purpose?’
‘Yeah, maybe.’ I sit too and rest my chin on my hands. ‘I think there’s too much evil in this world. I’d like to do something about it.’
‘People hurting, frightening, abusing weaker people.’ I pause and look at her. ‘This power I have, how long will it last?’
A pale and hesitant waiter hovers near us. I turn and smile, hoping to put him at ease. It doesn’t work. He looks like a rabbit asked to hand an eviction order to a den of foxes.
‘Just bring lots of food; something nice,’ I say.
Judy’s lost in thought until plates are placed in front of us. Oh wow, I could live like this. I think that’s real lobster. Don’t know for sure – I’ve never had it.
As I dig in, Judy says, ‘That’s brilliant, my Lor… Jarno. Too much evil about and you can stop it…’ She shakes her head. ‘Amazing … bloody amazing.’ Tears swell in the corners of her eyes. ‘Absolute genius.’
‘Hey, quit all that stuff and pass the ketchup.’
‘May I touch you?’
Hell, here it comes. I’m about to die horribly. ‘What?’
‘Hold you hand?’
‘Go ahead.’ I reach across and take hers. She gasps with delight and lays her other on top.
Tearing her eyes from my fingers, she asks, ‘What happened? Why all the police cars in the industrial estate? Was that you?’
‘Yes, something to do with slaves and stuff I think. Anyway, there were people hurting others and I stopped it.’ I look deep into her eyes. ‘You helped me do that, Judy.’ I squeeze her hand. ‘Thank you.’
A little gasp from her and she says, ‘My Lord…’
‘Jarno … I give in. Call me what you will but I do like Jarno.’
‘Jarno, there are many people in this town who suffer abuse.’
‘Well, let’s get started after we’ve finished here.’
She gives me that look again like I’m offering her the world and she can’t believe it.
I think the waiters are glad to see us go. I mean really glad, as if they’re all going to head for the nearest church and pray thanks to God.
It took me ages to get a bill out of them. Neither Judy or me had enough money so we said we’d pay when we could.
First stop, according to Judy, is a brothel under a posh hotel. I ask her how she knows it’s there. She looks away. “I know a lot of things, Jarno. The girls are slaves, some of them bartered and sold from distant countries.”
I never thought this sort of thing could happen in the UK. I can feel the fury rising in me. Judy hugs me tighter as we approach the place.
Posh hotel? It’s like a palace! The whole façade is floodlit. Great sheets of glass – doors that open automatically for us. We stroll, arm-in-arm on deep carpets.
I put Judy under orders to be kind and friendly and not to scare the crap out of people at every opportunity.
The receptionist we’re heading for may not know what’s going on in the basements so it’s not fair to terrify her until we know she’s in on it.
I don’t know much about posh hotels but I’m pretty scruffy at the best of times. It’s after two a.m. and we have no luggage. Maybe that’s why we don’t get the huge corporate smile you see in TV ads. I mean, we could pass as rock musicians but we failed to arrive in a Ferrari or whatever they go around in.
The receptionist stands and says, ‘May I help you?’
It’s difficult to know where to start this conversation. I let a ripple of power flit through my body just to give me confidence that it’s still there. Things could go horribly wrong.
‘I believe there’s a secret brothel of slave girls under this hotel and I’m about to sort that out. Can you show me the way?’ Not my best chat up line.
The woman’s eyes widen. She reaches for the phone. I don’t stop her; it’s all part of her job. She only pushes one button and the security guards materialise as if by magic.
‘Before you say or do anything,’ I announce, ‘I’m going to see this through. Call the police, whatever, but don’t try and stop me.’ I turn to Judy. ‘Check the ground floor and any stairs down. If we can’t find anything we’ll have to take up the floors.’ In fact it’ll save time if we just do that.’
The receptionist, all short skirt and heels, scrambles over the desk. A vase smashes on the floor and spills a load of fancy flowers. The guards help her towards the door. None of them were prepared to see the carpet tearing itself from the floor and boards snapping and bursting up. The whole place fills with dust; a siren goes off and there seem to be more of them making noise outside. Under the floorboards, a layer of concrete erupts and I wave all the debris across the front entrance. That should stop people entering and getting hurt.
Lights go out. Emergency lights, dim and spooky in all the dust, come on and illuminate a corridor and the corner of a room below. Judy and me climb down. I could probably jump but I really don’t know if I’d break something or if I’m indestructible or what.
Judy presses switches; the lights work down here. I have to smash one locked door after another. All we see are stores and rooms full of ventilation equipment and stuff. Time to take up another floor.
I expose what looks like a living room below us. A man, cowering – hands held over his head, stares up, freezes at the sight of Judy and me, staggers back and tumbles over a sofa. He’s dressed in a sharp pinstriped suit.
This room is a lot higher, no chance of climbing down. I grab Judy’s hand and we jump. Nice landing, no pain. Apart from the streams of dust trickling from the ceiling this all looks quite luxurious.
The man tries to run but struggles against the force of my mind. He can’t possibly win such an uneven fight but he struggles anyway – until I stand face to face with him.
‘I’m not up for a conversation or lies or any crap,’ I announce to the man. ‘You will bring everyone in here, everyone in this place or I will kill you. My friend will go with you to make sure you behave.’ I gesture to Judy.
The man doesn’t move or say anything. He’s a blank mask of confusion and terror. ‘Do you understand me?’ I ask.
He nods, his eyes flicking up to the hole in the ceiling and back to me, as if he’s still catching up with reality.
‘Do it then.’ While they attend to that I decide to go for a little exploration. Doors and corridors everywhere. I find I don’t have to smash the locks; they do my bidding. Inside one room a naked girl with alabaster skin and blue but otherwise oriental eyes, lies on the floor, bound and gagged. Red weals and the bruises of strong fingers mar her skin. The bonds and gag burst apart and I help her up and reach for what I suppose is her dressing gown.
‘Who did this to you?’ I ask, helping her cover herself.
She answers in a burst of Eastern speech that I can’t follow. There’s a glass and jug of water on the table beside the bed. I pour some and hand it to her. She takes the glass and gulps the contents, her eyes on me.
‘Come on,’ I say. ‘You’re safe now.’ Taking her arm, I lead her into the corridor. I’m stopped by the ghastly sight of a man with an obscene mount of flesh being forced out of another door. Struggling to pull his pants on, he looks in terror back into the room. I can only suppose Judy is in there.
I take a pace towards him. ‘Who are you?’
‘None of your business.’
‘Oh, it really is. What are you doing here?’
‘This,’ says Judy, leading a girl through the door. A thin teenager with ribs far too defined, like she’s anorexic, struggles into her clothes. The girl looks frightened and follows Judy.
‘Who the hell do you think you are?’ roars fat man at me. ‘Get out of here.’
‘You’ve taken on far more than you can cope with…’
‘So have you,’ I reply. ‘But that’s cool because I can help you with it. Does all that flabby gut get in the way when you mess with young women? I hate to think of it spoiling your fun.’
A vertical stroke in the air of my finger and his abdomen opens from top to bottom. The entire contents erupt onto the carpet along with slabs of yellow fat.
Pinstripe man comes through the door, claps his hands over his ears as fat man screams.
Thin girl throws up; Judy supports her as she retches. Oriental girl strides forward, leans over fat bloke and rakes her nails across his eyes again and again. I don’t stop her. I think he probably deserves it.
The commotion brings people tumbling into the corridor from rooms either side. Judy slaps pinstripe man and yells, ‘You’re supposed to be leading them to the room. Get on with it.’
So, she had to slap him. Interesting: she doesn’t have my power.
I get the feeling two people with my talent could lead to world war three.
Just before we get everyone into the big room, another man bursts from a bedroom and races for a wall. I suppose there’s some sort of secret door there. He glances back at me and presses the wall. As it opens, I dislocate his femurs and break his wrists. I reckon that’s all repairable; surgeons are really good these days. He’s run enough and people will need to speak to him. Good people that will put him and his kind in prison.
With everyone, apart from those currently unable to move, in the big room I realise it’s meant to sit far more. I ask pinstripes why there are so many seats. He says something about more guests being accommodated at times.
There are twelve girls and young women here. Judy’s looking after them. She’s getting food from a trolley and drinks from a bar. I help carry and serve.
Judy stares at me like I’m the best person on earth and a source of profound wonder to her.
Pinstripes looks pale and scared. The slaves, mouths pulled half open over clenched teeth and nails digging into the upholstery, look at him like the want to tear him apart. Maybe it will ease their pain if I let them.
I offer him a drink and he says, ‘I’ll see you dead first.’
After his left eyeball explodes, I answer, ‘You won’t see much at this rate. Are you going to learn that you don’t mess with us, or would you like me to work on your internal organs?’ He shuts up, apart from whimpering.
‘I’m sure you have a family and friends. We’ll find them. You resist me and they get punished. The police will come soon.’ I pass him a bar pad and pen. ‘Names and contact details of clients and contacts. Everything. Stop whingeing about your eye. Feel lucky that you still have another – for the moment.’
I have to say, the police, SAS, or whatever are really sneaky. Tossed through the hole I made in the ceiling the gas grenades come as a surprise.
Nice to know we have people like this. I’m going to need them. For the moment I’ll just push the gas back up and rip the officers’ masks off. ‘Keep writing, pinstripe,’ I command.
Judy offers me a glass of Champagne, clinks her glass against mine, looks up into my eyes and says, ‘Wow!’ She turns to the girl slaves and says, ‘Our lord Jarno has freed you. You are all free to go. Some of you may return to your families and countries only to face humiliation and contempt. I, Judy, may be able to help. I am Jarno’s servant and follower. He has chosen to make war on those that cause suffering and abuse other people. The poor and the weak can turn to him for support; the rich and the cruel must cower. We need people in all countries; people who can help this cause – the final battle against evil. I can make you strong like me. Knives, bullets and bombs will never harm you; no one can resist you once I’ve made you one of us. I can do this but Lord Jarno can undo it and inflict pain and death if you stray from the cause. This is my promise. I will make you the new angels of good.’
She smiles. ‘Sorry, long and scary speech. Anyone for another drink?’
Pinstripes is writing and whimpering still. I say to Judy, ‘I’ll take another glass.’
She grimaces and waves an empty bottle. ‘There’s more but it’s not chilled. Shall we go upstairs?’
‘Yeah, come on. It’s a bit gloomy in here.’
One of the girls talks and gesticulates to oriental girl who looks from her to me to Judy in lightning fast glances. I assume there’s some sort of translation going on.
Judy asks, ‘Lord Jarno, could you lead the way up? There may be some resistance and these women are merely mortal. After all they’ve been through it would be hard to see them suffer so soon after you rescued them.’
Interesting. I don’t trust her. This could be treachery but she seems so sincere.
She must have seen my hesitation. She adds, ‘I could lead them up from that secret door. Could you go through the hole in the ceiling and make sure we’ll not be attacked?
Actually, that sounds even more like potential treachery. ‘No,’ I say. ‘It’s best if you convert as many as possible now. I’ll go up and have a look.’
‘Conversion takes time as you know but your wisdom is great. Thy will be done.’
That sounds freaky, unsettling. I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that I don’t really know what “Thy will be done” means. I walk under the hole in the ceiling and leap up.
I crash through a whole mass of cameras and microphones: didn’t expect that. Bullets spatter off my skin and clothes. I don’t fight back. These people will be on my side soon and the world will benefit from their expertise. I just wait until the ammunition runs out or the people get bored of wasting it.
When silence falls, I say, ‘Gentlemen … and ladies? it’s difficult to identify you under all that armour. I’m here in peace. I’m here to see that good is restored to the world.’
I may as well be talking to bags of peanuts. The armoured figures pull back; others come forwards. What I think may be rocket launchers point at me.
‘Stop this nonsense. You cannot kill me but you can hurt or kill innocent people in the room below. So…’
I don’t believe it; they’re not listening, fingers tighten on triggers. I flatten and bend the ends of the launchers. ‘I said stop.’ Just to add emphasis, I crumple every gun barrel in the place.
‘You are about to leave. I, Jarno, am here. Take this message with you. Within one month from this very moment, all guns, tanks, missiles and other weapons of war and anything to do with torture is banned throughout the world. The leader of any country in which these things remain will suffer. That will leave a lot of countries without leaders. No problem – we’ll supply replacements. Go now in peace, love and kindness. The era of evil is over.’
Well, that impressed no one. I suppose it’s hard to listen to a prophet… Hang on; did I just think I’m a prophet? I’ll put that to the back of my mind and return to it later. I may be out of my depth here but who is even trained for normal life, let alone this weirdness happening to me?
The police or soldiers back away. This won’t stop here. It’ll be tanks or bombs next, maybe nuclear crap. Can I handle that? Yeah … I think so. Extending my senses, I can feel satellites in orbit, planes flying … nuclear subs deep underwater. I wonder if there are any limits to my power. That’s scary. I only want to be an ordinary person who’s nice to others. But there’s that niggle; I’d like to be someone who convinces everyone that being kind is more important than anything else. When you think you can actually do that how can you not act? If you see a child fall in the deep end of pool and you’re the only person that can swim – do you turn away and say that it’s someone else’s responsibility?’ I’m not that heartless.
Anyway, I told these people it’s time they left. It’s just a matter of putting some force down the corridors and pushing everybody out of whatever door, hole or corridor they came in by.
But that puts them out and leaves us in. I’ll bet they don’t give a shit about the slaves. It’ll be bombs next. It’s me they want.
I drop down into the big room again. Judy stands among twelve women staggering, clutching their throats and crashing into wall and furniture – the dance of the demon sauce. Pinstripe bloke looks very dead. My eyebrows rise.
Judy shrugs, ‘He said he’d finished writing…’
I look at the corpse. Superficial injuries and massive blood loss – the slaves got to him. Whatever.
As I glance over the lurching and whimpering women, Judy says, ‘They’re all up for it; all your disciples. They’ve taken my saliva.’ A grin from her. ‘Not burgers; I only had plastic-wrapped sandwiches.’ She looks down, hugs herself and twists into a sculpture of tension, walks over to me and curls at my feet. ‘Master, I couldn’t make them less powerful than me. Please may I be your head servant? I’ve waited so long, my Lord, my lord.’ She clutches at my ankles and kisses the hem of my jeans.
No way, this is too much. I reckon this woman is more intelligent, cunning and downright evil than I could ever be. I’m being set up for the biggest fall in history but I can’t help being pulled in. It’s all so fascinating and heady. I don’t even begin to hope that somehow I’ll outsmart her in the end. It’s going to be painful, humiliating and I’ll wish I had never met her; I’ll torture myself for my own stupidity more than she can ever hurt me… but…
I pull her up. ‘Let’s get them upstairs and somewhere more comfortable. I could do with another drink of cold bubbly stuff.’
The hotel is completely empty except for us, well, after the last of the armed people scurry away. Judy says the slaves are invulnerable now – despite the agony her saliva still causes them. Will these people really be less powerful than me? I’m not sure: I’m not sure of so much. If I’m some sort of reincarnated lord why don’t I remember anything?
I look after the women while Judy finds the kitchens. I stroke foreheads, wipe brows, squeeze hands, murmur words of comfort… The women are recovering.
My senses alert me. Here it comes; I feel two aircraft hurtling into the area. Their engines die as I smash the compressor blades; I’m pretty sure the pilots will eject and survive. It’ll be missiles next, possibly within minutes. I suppose it depends on how many people have been evacuated or how many the authorities are prepared to kill. I’ll stop the first missiles and any that follow but I wonder what conversations are happening between the UK and other countries. “Yes, we are about to launch strategic missiles but only to destroy a hotel in our own country, so don’t worry. Have a nice day.”
A clever thought. I may not be the brightest person but I reckon the police will have stuffed this place full of listening devices. It’s time for another announcement.
‘Good evening, people. All weapons aimed at this hotel will be redirected to Moscow, Peking and Washington. Thank you. That is all.’
I’m worried about one girl. I reckon she’s about seventeen. Olive skin, sharp features, probably European. There’s no denying she’s incredibly sexy but she’s shivering and sweaty. Something’s not right. I slide beside her on the sofa of the main lounge and hold her in my arms. Can I heal people? OMG! Can I?
Apparently not; nothing happens. When Judy returns, pushing an overladen trolley I say, ‘Judy, this one’s sick, really sick. Can we get a doctor?’
‘She’s fine,’ Judy growls like I’m about to fall in love with the poor girl and reject Judy forever. ‘Nothing can hurt her now … except you.’
I release the girl and jump up. ‘Is it me? Am I making her sick?’
Judy softens and laughs. ‘My Lord Jarno. No, you are not making her sick. She’s working though some serious disease, cancer or something; she’ll be fine.’
She lifts food from the trolley, looks back at me, freezes and says, ‘What’s wrong?’
‘Missiles. Some from the Atlantic… Oh God, some from Europe, sodding Europe and from countries all over the world.’ It takes a moment for this to sink in. ‘People were expecting this, expecting us.’
She says, ‛There’s stuff like this in the Old Testament.’
Missiles, crippled in midair, fall to the ground or into the sea – their engines and rockets failing. I crush components; propellant blazes into the skies. I only hope the warheads don’t go off. The people who launched them will be safe in bunkers – it’s the innocent that will suffer. The fury boils again.
Judy gasps and sighs. ‘The strength pours from you, my master.’ She kneels and , holding a glass of Champagne holds it up to me in both hands. ‘Of course they expected us. They always expect something like us. If only they wouldn’t. If only they would bloody grow up and not need someone to come and save them.’
So, just when I’m getting my head round all these new developments, Judy goes and scrambles me again. No time to discuss it now. Some of the women are almost recovered. Soon we have to train these disciples and send them around the world.
I think; I talk to Judy; I discuss with the twelve but it’s all useless. They only want my decision, my direction.
That’s not hard. Bottom line: when the stronger hurt the weaker, the strong must be punished. Natural selection will see to it: evil will no longer promote survival. Evil is doomed.
It’s a pretty simple message and, when the twelve are ready to travel, they don’t take long to spread the message across the world. Some wander, before long some run countries.
It all goes well. Well, some countries and doctrines try to resist but resistant people end up with the dodo and the dinosaurs.
I work out that evil is not just about intention to harm; there’s an element of ignoring the suffering of others, the starvation and poverty. Frankly that’s just as bad, I think. As a group we do warn people – once – to care for others. After that there’s punishment. Hard, I know, bloody hard but I think the world’s moving away from greed.
I stay in the hotel; Judy’s always flying round the world sorting things out. It’s a bit of a lonely life and lovely when she returns like now – all smiles and open arms as she comes through the rebuilt hotel entrance. I fancy taking her back to that restaurant – and paying the waiters this time.
Skinny girl phones me from Sri Lanka. ‘Master, hello.’
‘Hello, you. What’s new?’
‘Today I saw a woman beat her child. She was too violent.’
‘I killed her. I killed a mother in front of a crowd as an example.’
‘Don’t feel bad. This is all leading to a new world. Love can be hard, so always keep the future in mind.’
‘I don’t feel bad. Everyone knows we are doing good. You’re saving the world, master; we all follow you.’
‘Yes. While I rule, there will be no evil.’
©Gary Bonn: 2012