Friday, 8 December 2017
Saturday, 25 November 2017
Still, it could be worse...
Thursday, 23 November 2017
"Go to the town square and do the hokey-cokey with six other people for ten minutes."
After that you get:
"Go to a warehouse at this address. Insert 22 grams of Smith Square crisps into your body without ingesting them. Do it within the hour and you get to choose which orifice you use."
Then you get:
"Congratulations, you have earned enough credit to eat today. While you are eating please post twelve things you like about the current Prime Minister to facebook."
After lunch you're told to:
"Go to this sewage treatment plant. Join the team there. Collect four tonnes of sewage and dump it on an abandoned school."
Later on that day you will "take blood from seven convicted murderers... competitively eat raw turnips for a YouTube clip... sort soiled underwear for a wealthy client... fellate a muppet in Second Life..." and at the end of the day you get a special message.
"Congratulations, you've made rent for the fortieth month in a row. As a bonus you get ten free minutes of Tinder access - Happy Shagging."
It's this or Fully Automated Communism.
Tuesday, 24 October 2017
To begin with no one paid it much attention, literally, for the first three weeks the only views or followers the channel got was bots. Why would anyone pay much attention to a direct-to-camera diary hosted by an individual, a boy in his late-teens1 called 11B-X-1371, especially when the initial videos were between two to seven minutes long and mostly referenced pop culture or personal minutiae?
The first video of interest was posted on the 18th of January 2017. The video featured a prank2 derivative of the ‘Big Stranger Rodeo’ where the Individual jumped on a stranger’s back, in this case a boy of similar age in an unknown hallway. It was the first video that was not delivered direct to a fixed camera, the first to be recorded by someone other than the Individual (though this person has not been identified) and the first in the manner that would come to define the channel, which was renamed “Fear No Darkness.”
The immediate result of the video was am uptick in views, more than 100 in 24 hours after posting. This led to the Individual in the following video putting out a call for suggestions for more ‘pranks’3. The video following was posted on the 20th of January 2017, showing the Individual attempting to steal a ball from an informal game of basketball4 (also derivative5). In subsequent weeks the Individual posted videos of himself:
- Eating raw cinnamon
- Dropping a cola-bomb in a busy supermarket
- Giving a nazi salute at a Rememberance Day service
- Egging a woman pushing a pram from what appeared to be the back of a moped.
The last episode was posted on the 7th of February 2017 and got 1,000 unique views in 48 hours. The channel was logged at GCHO three days later and a cursory investigation conducted, indicating that the channel and user were both operating behind multiple proxies, with the ultimate location being a site in Belize. The site then placed under continual surveillance.
By the end of February the site’s output was dedicated almost entirely to self-described pranks. The pranks also changed in content and tone. The Individual (by this point known to followers/viewers as “Eleven”) was filmed:
- Attempting (and failing) to ride a moped over a brook
- Surfing on a tea tray down a set of stairs
- Releasing a pig in a mosque
- Using a medical stapler to attach his scrotum to his left leg.
The channel was taken down after the last video, dated the 3rd of March, two days later6. An APB was placed though the Individual was impossible to locate7. The Individual reappeared on March the 24th 2017 on a largely self-constructed site called “Where is the Rider?” The Individual has been subject to numerous denials of service since but for a period was able to return to online broadcasting. The videos made by “Eleven…” became progressively more racist, violent and/or self-destructive, which in turn encouraged more and more outlandish suggestions from viewers. This culminated on the 23rd of May 2017 when the Individual posted two videos in twelve hours, in the first he appeared to amputate his left hand, followed by one where the hand reappeared, the Individual apparently unaffected, recounted news from that day to prove the date and time. There were a combined total of 95,000 individual views for the videos on that day alone8. The case was handed to a specialist unit, called the Special and Metaphysical Crime Squad. A D-Notice was imposed on the media and denial of service re-established.
After this point no site directly hosted videos of the Individual however a train of videos emerged on a number of forums9 and formats, shared widely10. Known examples include the Individual:
- inserting a chili in their anus
- deliberately crashing into a brick wall riding a moped
- having a swastika branded onto their thigh
- shooting themselves in the foot then sticking the foot into boiling vinegar.
As before the Individual, AKA “Eleven”, would reappear unharmed however no such person was identified or apprehended in real life. By July 2017 however, after reverse engineering the share-route the videos took, the source of the videos was eventually narrowed down to a university campus in Central London.
Though a search of the campus, students and staff did not turn up an “Eleven…” a scan of the IT mainframe found a rogue subroutine, called 11B-X-1371, that had been entered into the university’s intranet on the 1st of January. No one knows who entered it but the programme was designed to create the ultimate YouTube star, a completely fictional entity based on a composite of internet celebrities. While the phenomenon itself has been successfully contained online there has been a proliferation of actually existing devotees of 11B-X-1371, fans committed to bigotry, violence and self-abuse until the ‘Mad Rider’ returns. So far there have been twenty-three known casualties. The case continues.
1 Slim-to-medium build, short sandy hair, blue eyes, the Individual speaks with a mostly non-regional English accent.
2 It was listed as a ‘prank’ in the video description.
3 To be left in the comment section. The Individual specifically requested viewers not “DM” him.
4 The court was later found to be just off the Camden High Road, between Camden and Holloway.
5 And not one of the archived suggestions left in the comment box.
6 In which time it accrued over 4,000 unique views.
7 The suggestion for the staple video came from a site user known as “Tokyo Fist.” The user was put under surveillance but found to have no connection to the Individual.
8 The prank was suggested by a viewer called “Jimmy Vespa” who also apparently won an unknown prize. The Individual said “this time you can DM me.”
9 Including a members-only sub-reddit called “The Mad Rider…” a later nickname for the Individual.
10 An average of about two hundred thousand shares for each video.
Thursday, 5 October 2017
A stupid smile spread across his face. “Are you OK, Dave?” I asked. He leaned back in his chair, slowly, and I realised he was more than alright. Still, I tried: “Dave…? Dave…?” It was no good. He pushed the chair back, stood up and spread his arms, stretching very slowly. It was all too familiar. Lara noticed; then Ali, Evan and Steve. Dave started walking. I realised he got up half-an-hour before, mentioned something about being bored and went missing for a bit. He came back and sat down not saying anything, very quiet. He must have taken it somewhere then.
‘It’ went by a few names, Quark, Timewarp, Drop, 3AM Eternal. Dave was the first of our group to try. He had a sixth-sense for scoring, where to go who to ask; also when to go clean. He was forever getting patted down in nightclubs but I don’t remember him ever getting caught – good old ‘Dangerous Dave.’
He wanted to share the latest buzz with his friends. “You have to take it to know” he’d say. “There’s no contact high with this.” We eventually turned on one afternoon in our house in the second year of university. Dave had already persuaded the others, Lara, Ali, Evan, Steve. I came home from a morning lecture and found them in the kitchen. He was telling the others, “run your hands under the tap… hold them up… now watch the drops fall.” He'd been trying with me for months. I didn’t want to be stuck in my room dodging bliss-zombies so I gave in and it was good. People wouldn’t take it if it wasn’t I suppose.
I was a typical first-timer apparently. I got caught up staring at the railway line down beyond the bottom of our garden. The trains flowed like fluid metal singing in a clear pipe. The sky was fascinating too, watching the banks of clouds like waves dragged along by an invisible force. This gave way to night and the small dusting of planets and stars tracking light across the sky. It all happened in what seemed like twenty minutes. Stargazing, I felt Dave plant a hand on my shoulder. He looked at me with a patronising grin:
“Come inside. You’ll get cold.”
Forty-eight hours of normal time sped by before the effects wore off. It helped that my first experience was at home. If we had taken it somewhere else we could have caused trouble. One of the side effects is people living through normal time cannot physically touch the user. There are lots of theories as to how it works. Most of them involve misinterpreting Einstein. Back then it was a legal high. Users were merely a nuisance to the sober. When Dave got up at the reception and drifted slowly through the crowd to the dance floor it was illegal. A ripple of embarrassed laughter billowed over the room, followed by gasps and angry stares.
“I’m sorry” I said to our silent accusers, “I don’t know what’s going on.” It was Lara’s Sister’s wedding. We hardly knew anyone there. We were practically crashers. One of Lara’s Aunts referred to our table as the ‘ravers from university.’ Unfair but it was the consensus, probably why someone shouted:
“Yeah, you do!”
I stood up, as if that would help, and followed. “Dave” I said, “knock it off, it’s not funny.” I tried to grab his arm but my hand glanced off him. He was definitely on. The hubbub reached the top table.
“I’ve had enough” said the Voice. It was the Best Man, a human spud called Eddie. He was bowling toward us in anger. I also knew him from university, a sport science student who turned top-heavy steroid abusing personal trainer. He had wanted to ‘have enough’ for years. He hated us ‘druggies.’
Evan lived with him for a bit after university in a flat-share-of-convenience. Though our group went separate ways we always stayed in touch, Dave made sure of it. One evening, after a reunion night out, we crashed round Evan's place. Eddie often prowled around the house at night, eating a chicken or drinking a shake. He usually wore a silver dressing gown. This time though it seemed he was asleep. We tried to be quiet, sat around the front room, but it seemed we woke the beast. Eddie almost fell down the stairs, yelling in unintelligible fury. We all stared at him, silently, waiting for him to peter out or hit someone. Eventually he looked at Dave and asked “are you high?”
We were only drunk but he squinted at Eddie and eventually said: “Hang on… you’re a massive Dairy Lea.” Everyone laughed, except for Eddie of course, mostly because it was true. Standing there top heavy in his silver dressing gown Eddie was a massive Dairy Lea. If we hadn’t laughed Eddie might have torn Dave to bits like a chicken.
Back at the wedding, Eddie started bellowing and pointing at Dave though it had no effect. He still retreated in the face of Dangerous Dave’s silent serene smugness and the protestations of his girlfriend, I assumed, grabbing his arm and insisting it wasn’t ‘worth it.’ Dave stopped in the middle of the dance floor. Eddie snorted, shook off his girlfriend and drew back to punch Dave. He hit him.
There was a colossal clanging sound. Eddie howled in pain and recoiled. His blow rebounded like bone on steel. There was general pandemonium. Eddie fell back, slowly, slowly. Everything was slowing. The pandemonium faded. The whole room practically stopped but the six of us, our table, we were moving through normal time. I think Ali said something like:
“What's going on?”
For a moment Dave did not answer. He seemed awestruck. He looked our table, then at me and eventually said:
“Wow, so there is a contact high.”
Thursday, 21 September 2017
Interior, Leo's Cafe, Dalston, early on a Saturday afternoon; two members of Socialist Revolution in the 21st Century are sat at a table, their names are Barnaby and Jonas. They are waiting for their lunch and for someone else to arrive.
Barnaby: [Looks up] How many do you reckon we sold then?
Jonas: [Staring out the window] I... I don't know, um... [to Barnaby] Marsha should be here in a bit.
Barnaby: Yeah but how many do you reckon we sold?
Jonas: I don't know [looks at Barnaby] I mean... I sold... seven...
B: [Enthusiastically] OK, so, I sold about that many too, so I mean, then there's Marsha as well, so... what... twenty...? Perhaps...? Yeah...?
J: Maybe... [resumes looking out the window]
B: That's good though...?
Jonas does not respond.
B: Better than last week...
J: [Nods] Yes, it was, and... The leaflets went down well. I suppose they did have a picture of Corbyn on them...
B: Should be a good meeting... It's a hot topic...
J: [To Barnaby] We'll see. It's needs a good ring round though, prior. [Sigh] I hate ring rounds.
B: What's got into you?
J: Oh, nothing. It's just... Hey, where's Dangerous Dave?
B: He went home... Kids and stuff. Stop changing the subject. Look... [mock-serious] are you having doubts, Jonas? Anything you want to talk about...? Reformist thoughts...?
They both laugh.
J: I guess it's time to Have The Argument.
J: No, but, it's just that [looks up], oh, hey Marsha!
Marsha: Alright, you guys ordered?
Barnaby: Yeah, sorry.
Marsha: [Rolls eyes] What're you having?
Jonas: Full English.
Marsha: Right then, vegetarian it is [pats Barnaby on the back - walks off].
There is a short pause before:
Barnaby: Where were we?
B: [Silly voice] Deviant!
J: I was... thinking. Yeah, I was on the bus the other day and reading a book as you do. A woman was sat next to me. She had a Metro open and she was... there was something about her, the way she was flinging the pages about, like this... flick... flick... It was distracting. I, uh, stopped reading and I counted. She got through the newspaper, the whole thing, understand, she got through it in less than three minutes... Flick... flick... The longest she spent on any page was twenty-three seconds but most of the time it was flick... flick... a quick glance. I realised then that we are probably the only people still selling newspapers on the streets of London. Selling them. Who reads newspapers, I mean really reads them? All this effort we put in every week so that twenty people...
M: [Interrupts] Twenty-two, we sold twenty-two papers. [Sits down next to Barnaby]
J: [Glances] Twenty-two people may read our newspaper [sighs].
B: Is there a better way? After all, the paper is the...
All Together: Scaffolding Of The Party.
J: [Smiles knowingly] I'm glad you asked that. I've actually got something to confess.
B: Oh right...?
J: Yes, Barney. I've, um, I've been dual-carding...
B: [Actually a bit shocked but trying to hide it] Right, uh... who with...?
J: The Guild of Magicians and Psychic Practitioners, um... It's not what you think?
Neither Barnaby nor Marsha are sure what to say until:
J: I think I'm onto something. I want to show you both. Are you free this afternoon?
Interior, a living room in a sub-let flat on the Pembury Estate in Central Hackney. Covering one wall is a large, heavy bookcase that is almost full. On the far side of the room is Barnaby, sat on a deep maroon sofa. His eyes are closed.
Barnaby: [Grinning] I can't believe I'm doing this.
Jonas is sat in the middle of the room on a high, wooden stool, eyes also closed but with obvious intent.
Jonas: Concentrate... Clear your mind...
Marsha is sat on a chair, a similar colour to the sofa, smiling half-sardonically. There is a window behind her head. The curtains are closed. The light in the room is soft and low.
Marsha: [Jibes] C'mon Barney, clear your mind.
Jonas: [Snappy] Quiet please.
J: [Still terse - to Barnaby] Please, you need to... [Deliberately relaxed] Reduce... [Slowly] I can't still feel a resistance at this distance. Just... ease into not having any... no thoughts... remove them... one by one... that's it... until... Can you see it?
B: I can, um...
J: [Smiles - eyes still closed] You can...? Good. Can you describe it, what it is you are seeing, please?
B: It's a... it's a... [automatically] 1990 Etrusco Chico Adidas football.
Eyes open, Barnaby gasps. Jonas peeps too, then beams in triumph. Then he sees Marsha. She is unimpressed.
J: [Hastily] That is correct. It's a...
M: Hang on... [Leans forward in her chair]
J: [Over Marsha - to Barnaby] You got it right and what's more...
M: [Over Barnaby - to Jonas] No, no, no...
J: [To Marsha] How could he have known that given he was born in 1990 and...?
M: Oh, come on! [Sits back] Barney...?
Barnaby is silent.
M: What does that even prove?
J: That someone who was born in 1990 with no special knowledge or love of football can suddenly think of a very specific ball used in only three international tournaments. That or... well [shrugs].
M: It's just power of suggestion. Derren Brown does it all the time. You said or did something at some point...
J: What point?
M: I don't know, if I did it wouldn't be 'magic,' would it?
J: Would it matter if it was just power of suggestion?
No answer. Marsha shakes her head.
J: I'm happy to go again. I can keep doing it. I've been practicing, see?
Puzzled pause, until...
B: Wait a minute, you don't like football either.
J: I like Wikipedia [grins].
M: So, what, you're doing Derren Brown stuff, is it?
J: No, his thing is slightly different... But he is a member...
M: Of your wizards guild...
J: [Across Marsha] Look, if you're not interested I...
M: [Leans forward - to Jonas] I am interested. I just don't... I mean, how do you do it?
J: How does Derren Brown do it?
M: I'm serious.
J: I'M SERIOUS. I wanted to...
Marsha is about to weigh in again, until...
B: Alright, alright, let's... one at a time...We're all... we're all Marxists here....
M: Sorry, Jonas.
J: Marsha... [Shrugs] How does anyone put anything in anybody's mind? [Long pause] They use a medium; a word or a tool or... a symbol.
He looks at Marsha, who does not seem satisfied with his answer.
J: In this case it's, um... [bashful] We're talking the imprint of projected cognitive radiation.
Marsha looks at the floor, shakes her head and laughs. Even Barnaby stifles a titter.
J: [Slightly upset] I said I was serious. [To Barnaby] You saw what you saw. [To Marsha] I'm willing to go again, Marsha. I'll show you that...
M: OK, OK, OK, I'm sorry. I opened my mind and now my brain has fallen out. [Sighs] OK. [Deep breath] How long have you been able to do this, harness the power of cognitive radiation to get people to imagine footballs?
J: Ever since I can remember, a long time... I stopped doing it, for a bit, around the time I started all this. Recently though I started going back to the guild, paid my dues and started practising. I haven't done it professionally yet.
J: Yes, well, no, not yet. I haven't got my full licence yet. I could get into a bit of trouble.
J: [Mischievously] Is there an echo in here? [Smiles] I still am in trouble. Someone, some bureaucrat, got wind of what I wanted to do and now they want to expel me.
B: Ex...? Sorry.
J: Oh, it won't be that if they can help it. They'll probably pick on something, maybe my address... It's sublet, right? Right. So [To Marsha] I'm kind of freelance now and... well [to both], I think we can use this power.
M: How so?
J: [Now with recovered confidence] Why don't I show you? [Gestures to Marsha] Swap seats, just... there.
Marsha and Barnaby swap seats.
J: Just do what Barney did.
Marsha obliges. She settles into the sofa, closes her eyes, relaxes. Jonas does the same. There is long pause. The sound of children playing in the courtyard becomes evident again. Then Marsha exclaims...
She opens her eyes and looks at Jonas, who is smiling widely.
Voice 1: You are through to Central Office. Speak.
Voice 2: I have a report.
Voice 1: Case number?
Voice 2: VO23.
V2: The subject is in possession of privileged information with stated intent to use. Please advise.
V1: Thank you. [Pause] Is the stated intent firm?
V2: No date yet.
V1: [Long pause] Continue with the present course of action. Collate as much data as is practicable. Inform me of any changes. Inform the Containment Agents of any urgent changes.
V2: Thank you.
V1: You're welcome.
Jonas: This way.
Jonas leads his two comrades along Thornhaugh Street, off Russell Square.
Past the Faber Building, blue plaque and green front door, then a garage, then down a concrete ramp that leads to a cafe-bar attached to the Centre for Development, Environment and Policy, which The Three still know as 'The Institute.'
Jonas: Here we are.
There they are, standing by what appears to be a pebble-dashed outdoor cupboard, a metre high, like a mini-janitor's closest. The doors are padlocked. Jonas fetches up a key, squats down and unlocks the cupboard.
Marsha: What an odd little thing, you never notice... [glances around].
There are quite a few fools inside the cafe-bar, misled Saturday-drinkers. The patio is largely empty apart from one table at the furthest end, chatting easily, laughing and cradling their plastic cups. None of these people pay The Three any attention.
Barnaby: [Exclaims softly] What on Earth is that?
Jonas: This, my friend, is a psychic megaphone. [stage whispers] Just don't tell Marsha, OK, she'll...
Marsha: Fuck off!
Jonas: She'll flip.
Marsha gestures with two fingers.
J: Just like that [laughs]. Dave made it for me. And...
The Item looks like four sawn-off megaphones stuck to the top of a hard-hat. Jonas plops it on Barnaby's head.
Jonas: It suits you!
Jonas takes it off Barnaby and puts it in a roomy sports bag he was carrying.
B: How does it work?
J: I said, I told you I would show you but [glances at the watch he isn't wearing] we've got a few hours left still. Come on, who fancies a pint?
B: What, here?
J: Nah, let's go to the Lord John. It's on the way to where we need to be. OK?
Exterior, Jonas, Marsha and Barnaby are standing on the roof of Jenner House, on the corner of Tavistock Place and Hunter Street. It is late in the night, possibly early in the morning. The sky is cloudy orange and there is the hum of the traffic in the distance.
Jonas: I think it's time.
Marsha: No kidding. How long have we been up here?
Jonas: Twenty minutes. We're OK. At least the rain stayed off.
Marsha: So why have you got us acting as lookout?
Jonas: I mean, I've squared it with the security guard... He owes me.
Marsha: [Pointed] Owes you what?
J: He's watching... possibly, the point is... we don't know if anybody else is watching.
Turns to Barnaby who is on the far side of the roof.
J: [Whispers sharply] Is everything alright over there?
Barnaby gives a thumbs up and a goofy grin.
J: OK, let's do it [puts the Psychic Megaphone on]. Have you got the leaflet.
M: [Hands an A4 sheet to Jonas] Here.
Jonas take the sheet, kneels down, takes a deep breath and goes into a trance-like state. He starts mumbling the words on the leaflet.
Barnaby and a Woman are sat together around a table in a large, extremely spare room. The floor is carpeted. There is natural light filtering through the windows. The Woman is middle-aged, wearing a sharp grey suit.
Woman Wearing a Suit: [Looking straight at Barnaby] Hello.
Barnaby: [Shy] Hello...
Woman: So [shrugs casually] how are things with you?
B: OK... they're... fine... [smiles weakly]
Woman Wearing a Suit brings up an A5 shorthand notepad from her lap and puts it down on the table.
W: [Simultaneously writes] Fine, OK and fine. [Looks up - shakes head] Relax... Seriously, you're going to need to loosen up if you're going to keep on being a snitch [smiles]. You need to talk more... How's things...? How's the Masters going...? What's is it you're doing there, scab studies...?
Smirks then sees the reaction on Barnaby's face.
W: I'M JOKING. [Makes another note] Bloody po-faced lefties.
B: [Wrings head through hands] Studies are fine. [Looks away] I don't want to do this any more [looks at Woman].
W: And yet you're here.
B: I wanted to tell you... face to face.
W: [Sits forward slightly] So polite, I'm touched, but no one made you do this.
B: I was told it would get me out.
W: Yeah, we said that to everyone we took in Bolton. Hardly anyone was charged and no one went to prison, it's part of the fun if you ask me. You [points], you gave us information, good intelligence. We, we've kept to our side of the bargain. [Clutches chest] I've been straight with you, always straight with you [sighs]. I mean it, you can walk away right now... I can't promise what will happen. I'm sure you've been up to some shady political shenanigans while you've been under our... protection. [Pause] I just what want you want, everything to be safe and above board. [Long pause] How're Jonas and Marsha doing? They're your buddies, right? [Huffs] Mind you if they found out though, I'm sure that...
B: [Mumbles] Something new...
W: Something what...?
B: They're fine, they're [hesitates then commits]... They're trying something new.
B: Psychic agitation.
W: [Laughs softly] I've heard it all now [makes a note]. What is 'psychic agitation?'
B: It's um, I'm not sure.
W: Well, what do they say they're doing?
B: It's Jonas really... he's psychic.
W: Really...? [Makes more notes]
B: [Relaxing] Well, I mean I don't know but he seems to have something. He was able to project something into my mind. He showed me. Now he wants to use it to promote socialist ideas. He goes round at night with this... thing on his head broadcasting socialist literature into people's dreams.
Woman: [Still making notes] I really have heard it all.
B: [Smiles] He reckons its better than selling the paper.
W: Your paper is a load of old crap.
They both laugh.
W: Don't get me wrong. I'm open minded. I like to read. I'll take the Mirror, I'll even have a glance at the Guardian. But your one, it's just... dull... I bought it on a demo once, years ago... I told myself, I said it's good to get the other side's perspective... More fool me.
W: OK, so, how does Jonas reckon he does it, this 'psychic agitation...' how does it work?
B: Um, he says it's to do with cognitive radiation. The brain produces energy. It's an electrical thing. It has a field, see? It's there but it's very weak. Only those who are sensitive can feel it...
B: Yes, feel.
Woman makes another note.
B: Each field is unique. Everyone has their own way of thinking. [Recalling] And, yeah, he says, depending upon your own abilities and the other
Barnaby sees the Woman Wearing a Suit writing intensively and momentarily loses his thread.
B: the other [pause] person's relative frame of mind you can imprint your [pause] thoughts onto another person's field.
W: [Still writing] OK... Fine... OK... [Finishes - smiles a sincere smile] Um, great, lots to be getting on with there. Thank you, Barney.
Woman Wearing a Suit stands up. He offers his hand for Barnaby to shake.
W: Same time next week?
Barnaby does not stand. A wave of guilt crashes over his head. He stares at the floor and sighs.
W: We'll see you when we see you. [Walks toward a door - Loudly, from over his shoulder] Cheque's in the post, Barn!
Voice 1: Request to speak to the Mage.
Voice 2: The Mage cannot be reached at the moment.
Voice 1: I am a Field Agent. I have urgent business to discuss with the Mage.
Voice 2: The Mage cannot be reached at the moment.
Voice 1: Well... can I leave a message?
Voice 2: The Mage does not want to be contacted.
Voice 1: But why...?
Voice 2: [Pause] That is confidential.
Voice 1: But the Mage is supposed to be on hand for Field Agents at all times, that or the Deputy. Where's the Deputy?
Voice 2: That is also confidential.
Voice 1: What am I supposed to do? I urgently need to consult about a case.
Voice 2: Have you spoken to your local aurors?
Voice 1: They weren't available either.
Voice 1: What am I supposed to do?
Voice 2: One second.
Pause. Call is placed on hold.
Voice 2: Thank you fold holding. The Mage advises you to continue with your present course of action.
Voice 1: But...
Exterior, dawn, Saturday morning in Highbury Fields, Jonas is sat in the crook of a tree, wearing the Mindhorn, as it's now known and chanting softly. Marsha and Barnaby are walking up and down, generally avoiding eye-contact, keeping watch on the surrounds.
Barnaby: This is fun. [Pause – stops walking] I bet... I bet this is what fly posting was like.
Marsha: [Also stops] I suppose so... It was always teams of three, one for the bucket, one for roll and...
They both look at Jonas.
M: OK... not too much but...
B: What would happen if the police came by...?
M: [Glances down the road toward Highbury Corner] Uh... we might just find out... OK, it's been long enough, I think. We need to split. Barney, you, uh, give Jonas the word. Remember, call when you get back.
B: [Nods gravely] OK.
They part company silently.
Interior, later that morning, in Jonas's front room again, the three are sat, cradling cups of coffee. Barnaby and Marsha are listening to Jonas extemporise.
Jonas: It's all about sensory control, you see? We're used to the idea that perception is involuntary, but it's not... It is but it's not. I mean, when I... [goes silent - eyes roll back] back again. See, when I do that, or something like that, it's all about getting the brain to focus. It's an organ of perception. When I want to I can see and feel peoples mind fields. It's not the eyes that see or the hands that feel, it's the brain. The mind is just the Species-Being of the brain...
Pause. Marsha looks away.
Jonas [With slight haste] It is an ongoing creation, the mind. Experience is the weaving together of perceptions into a unified field.
Marsha: [Raises hand] So, um...we are not our minds?
J: No, we are what we are..
M: [Cutting in] That's not answering the question.
J: Well [face curls into a slight smirk] you didn't really ask a question, you just made a statement with an upward...
M: [Snaps] Just get on with it, Yoda.
J: Alright [Patiently] I mean... we are what we are. We are the sum total of mind, body, memory, actions, legacy, personal and interpersonal... Um... We are a process of becoming.
Barnaby [Parps] Dialectics!
J: Yes, one of those things... We are a process of becoming...
M: Until we stop.
J: True, However [changes subject] lets get on with it, now [puts his cup down - to Barney] you remember when I projected thought I asked you to clear the mind, right, bit by bit? I want you to do the same again but once you feel you have got down to the essential point instead of projecting inward I want you to project out... Just... give it a try, OK?
Interior, a pub, the Trio are sat in a corner talking. Marsha is holding a small piece of paper.
Jonas: OK, so, Marsha, what've we got?
Marsha: Thank you, Gandalf, for what it's worth we have 1) bicycle courier who dreamt of a man riding up the Thames atop a nuclear submarine, got off at Embankment and made the ground shake 2) teacher who saw a newscaster reach out of a TV screen and offer her an egg with a bearded face drawn in it 3) graphic designer who pulled back the skin from Tony Blair's face and a mass of shredded paper fell to the ground 4) "something about bears..."
J: Something about bears?
M: Bears or beards, they weren't sure... I could go on... only...
M: That's it...
Interior: it turns out to be the Elderfield Pub, Blurton Road, its is quiet, late on a weekday evening. Jonas, Marsha and Barnaby are sat at a table in the corner of the bar, talking. A man enters the room, scans, sees the trio and approaches them with shuffling authority. His name is Charles St John Twistledon Camber, more commonly known as Charlie. He is late middle-aged, jowly, aurally grey but wearing an anomalously bright white t-shirt, creased blue jeans and oversized trainers. He is known to the Trio. He is a Central Committee member of SR21 with special responsibility for convening the Disciplinary Commission.
Charlie: [Stands by the table] Jonas, I, uh...Hello... I wondered if I could have a Little Chat?
Jonas: Yeah, uh... sure [does not stand].
C: I mean [smiles emptily] could I speak to you?
J: [Carefully] Yes.
C: [Gravely] In private.
J: In private? What on Earth, um... I mean, what'd you want?
Charlie gestures toward the door, silently.
J: OK, um... [Stands up]
C: This won't take a moment.
The pair head towards the door, then through. Outside...
C: [Deep breath] What did you think of the meeting...?
J: [Calm] That's what you wanted to ask me, to talk to me about?
C: No, I... There's been some concerns brought to light. [Looks intently] Your dual-carding.
J: My what?
C: Don't try to deny it. We know.
J: Know what?
C: [Blurts] The information was not obtained by hacking.
C: Well, what do you have to say for yourself?
J: [Also rising] Say for myself?
C: Your silence speaks...
J: What are you talking about?
C: So you deny it?
J: Deny what?
C: I have the morale of the party to think about...
Jonas heads back into pub.
C: [With bungled menace] Be careful, Jonas...
Jonas pauses halfway through through door.
C: I won't let you undermine the party.
J: [Turns head] Be careful...? If I am what you think I am... If anyone should be careful it's you, Charles.
Goes inside. Jonas glances at the door he came through then points to his two comrades.
J: You... both of you. [Sits down - leans in - hisses] You know what I talk, right, I talk about spending time with the Magicians guild with two people, two people, no more no less. Now... [glances at the door] now I've got Koba the Dull all over the shop.
Marsha and Barnaby make surprised noises/faces.
J: I mean it might have been... you might not have meant to...
Marsha: [Interjects] I swear I didn't... [clutches chest]
Barnaby: Mate, there's...
J: [Snaps] What? There's what?
B: [Takes his time] You don't think we're not implicated as well, hmm? Marx in heaven, what do you think Koba was talking to me about earlier by the book stall? Dude, we haven't been doing party stuff for months.
J: I know comrades who haven't sold a paper in years.
B: [Smiles] Yeah but they're, like, old man. They've got facility time and executive spots and go on holidays to Cuba and shit... You know what I mean?
J: [Partially disarmed] Look at you, Barnaby, the easy going cynic.
B: Look, all I'm saying is I haven't... I haven't said a word to Koba but, you don't seriously think that they don't keep tabs on people like us. Shit, half the membership's on the point of jumping to Labour [sighs]. That's why we had the bloody meeting. Yeah, we like Corbyn, we really do but please don't leave.
B: Guys... I think... We're really got to look at what we're doing here. What are we actually doing? I mean... maybe we should just... [Deep breath] We're Marxists, right? The emancipation of the working class is the act of the working class... We've got to follow through. We've got to stick to our principles and follow through.
J: It's doesn't work though... It...
B: [Interjects] It's not the medium, yeah? Its the message. We need to be upping our radical... quotient. Whatever! Give our dreamers something exciting and clear, clear cut and... yeah. We need to give them something to really get their minds around.
M: But... what?
B: We need a demo... NOT the usual A to B, a radical one, demanding stuff, not asking, demanding and... [Rallying] We need to occupy something.
J: There's a slogan for you [laughs] “Occupy Something.”
B: I'm serious. We should take our case to the Labour Party, right to it, their doorstep.
M: But, is Labour really the enemy? Should we be...?
B: [Interrupts] Bourgeois workers party, Marsha. We need to take the most radical crowd with the most popular radical demands and show them, you know, what the Labour Party is worth, the true limits of reformism.
Jonas starts nodding.
M: And then what?
J: [To Marsha] It's worth a shot. I mean, they're purging people, right now... Hey, if nothing else it'll put the wind up Charlie.
They all smile at the thought. Jonas nods with resolve.
J: I want my own back on him, definitely, and I think I know how we can do it. Dave, um... he's also been...
M: Where is he these days?
J: He's been working on something, an improvement on our broadcasting system, so to speak. He wants me to try and, well, if you two want to take it up a level then... I'll show you... this weekend.
Interior: the Trio enter a room in the London School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. The room is small, close and with limited natural light coming from a small cross hatched window. The walls are mostly covered in shelves, holding an intricately ordered array of digital and analogue recording equipment. At the far end of the room is a desk, computer and monitor, switched off. In the middle is a table, atop which is an unknown object, draped in cloth, with a sticky label saying: "FAO REMagogues."
Jonas: Welcome, comrades, to Dave's Place. [Picks up the label] He said it would be here and... [whips cover away] here it is. [Rolls cover up]. While the cat's away...
It"is an analogue radio set. Instead of a microphone and speaker system, wires protruding from the device lead to three hard hats.
Barnaby: This is what you'll be using?
Jonas: This is what we'll be using.
Marsha: You mean...?
J: [Triumphantly] Yes!
M: But how does it...?
J: [Sags] Oh, not this again...
M: Come on, just run us through it... the basics.
J: The basics are that it runs on the same principle as the "Mindhorn" as you insist on calling it, except that this... [pats the device gently] this time it runs through a radio and, therefore, runs both ways.
B: How so?
J: What I mean is it is the medium not the message that's the problem. We've been setting up a monologue, not a dialogue. We need to talk to people not at them.
B: Who teaches the teacher?
J: Exactly! You heard what people were dreaming, they were getting something but... Dave assured me it had an antenna. Can you see it?
There is an extra wire, leading from the back of the device. The Three follow it across the table, through the moderate clutter, to a small aerial mounted on a tripod.
J: Here it is [picks up the aerial]. This my friends has a thirty kilometre range, so Dave says. That means that when we put on these things, the helmets, we will not only be able to collectively meditate, to dream as it were, but others will be able to join the collective.
M: You say 'we...'?
J: Yes. I will need both of you when I go inside, as look outs. You can help with the agitation as well I suppose but we'll be broadcasting to millions, potentially anyway. Someone is going to notice.
J: That's the thing. coppers, nazis, Charlie Koba, I hope he notices, bastard motherfucker but... but especially not the Guild. If the Mage caught me then... It wouldn't bear thinking about.
J: Oh, well, thanks a bunch, Barney, now I'm going to have to think about it.
M: You were already, Obi-Wan, don't bullshit.
J: Well [pause - thinks about it] let's just say you don't just get expelled from the Guild. Listen, enough... We should take this for a test run. It's daytime, guys. If we pick a good spot to... I'll explain about what I mean by 'pick' when we're inside, if we pick a good spot for the dream then there shouldn't be too many people about. It should be easy enough. You just have to relax and concentrate, if that makes sense.
M: Oh, yes, of course it does.
Exterior – day: Jonas and Marsha are standing by the tube exit in the round-a-bout in Marble Arch. Something is wrong.
Jonas: Remember... relax and concentrate...
The surrounds are patchy and sometimes indistinct. The horse statue seems unstable and the arch is an ineffable colour and uncertain height. The air seems to be trembling, clouds are swirling as if stirred.
Jonas: [To Marsha] It doesn't... this doesn't need to be accurate just roughly right. Let the background details... let them fall away a bit... concentrate... [glances about] Hey, where's Barney?
As if on cue Barnaby materialises over the road in Speakers Corner. He looks around, confused.
J: Barney...! Barney...! Over here...! [Waves]
Barnaby acknowledges his friends. He approaches the road, looks left and right only to realise there is no traffic. It is very quiet.
B: [On reaching Jonas and Marsha] Where is everybody?
M: Well, I'm here, I... [laughs] Though we're not really 'here' are we.
J: No, we are here, it's just we have to concentrate to stay here, speaking of which...
The arch is growing very quickly and turning rusty green.
J: Barney... tone it down... [the arch begins to recede again] thank you... We are here. 'Here' is the unified mind field. Here is where your brain interprets the signals it receives though the key difference is our brains are not running on their normal setting right now. The reality consensus will be harder to reach, for instance [spreads his arms out] Barney, can you see my hands?
B: [Laughs] No...
J: Now, if I do this... [reaches out – puts his right hand through Barnaby's head and wiggles his fingers] Can you feel that.
Barnaby is laughing uncontrollably. Jonas smiles. Marsha is laughing too.
J: Now... concentrate... I'll... concentrate, Barn... and you'll realise none of that is possible. [Jonas is now standing with his arms folded] So, you see, we've got to keep it together while we're here.
Interior - day: in an office meeting room a dozen people are gathered, sat around a table. They are the Central Committee of Socialist Revolution in the 21st Century. The meeting begins. Charlie is chairing.
Charlie: OK, uh... [stands up then hands out sheets of tinfoil] right, first item.
Woman: [Holding foil sheet] What are these for?
Man: [Laughing] To go on your head.
Charlie: This is no laughing matter! We are at risk of... well...
Woman: Well what?
Charlie: [To Woman] Put it on! [starts wrapping a piece of tinfoil round his head] The Party is being subverted. As we speak the guiding principles of Marxist Leninism are under threat. They stand or fall on... Put them ON!
The Central Committee hurriedly begins wrapping.
C: Thank you... Now... we are under attack and, uh, all the rest of it. A faction, a secret faction has emerged within one of our branches, connected to the... the Guild of Magicians and Psychic Practitioners.
Man: I've not...
C: Heard of it before? No, it's a secretive organisation with a rigid hierarchical structure, anti-proletarian, connected to freemasonry and the occult underground. It is dedicated in the task of maintaining a monopoly in the manufacture and trade of anomalous goods and services. The party had a couple of run-ins, years ago, back when it was a printing company. You needn't bother with the details, a lot of it was before a lot of your times. Suffice to say that the Party has generally maintained its distance and Guild has kept its nose out, until now. It [sigh] it is to my distress and dialectical discombobulation to learn that members of the Party have been involved in activities undermining paper distribution with methods that are consistent with Guild membership, which is, of course, not compatible with membership of SR21. Um [fetches up a thin stack of A4 paper] like I say, comrades, we are under attack [starts handing the papers out]. It is a witch hunt, make no bones about it. The right and the state is coming for us. We punch above our weight...
There are nods and murmurs of assent.
C: Forty years of undisturbed Bolshevism... we must not allow the party to be undermined by outside forces. We punch above our weight, remember...? We need unity at a time like this... the terrain of the crisis demands discipline from us all. This is serious work. That is why... that is why I am recommending that we expel the members involved forthwith.
Voice of Concern: How did you come by this information?
C: The information was not obtained through hacking.
More nods and murmurs.
C: The com... er, people involved are Jonas Heston, Barnaby Muller and Dave Wazowski. The evidence is all on the sheets provided. [Pause] OK, having had a chance to look, all those in favour...?
C: That's passed unanimously... OK, now, [removes tinfoil hat] moving on...
Throughout Friday night, into Saturday morning Jonas, Marsha and Barnaby manifest at various points in the collective dream-construction of London. Moving in and out of frequencies they meet people, speak to them, one-to-one, in small groups, then in larger gatherings. The Trio bring their message to the people, the people listen, then respond. Throughout the night the message cascades through a multitude of minds, finding new variations, creating new threads but by dawn returning to the original theme. Tens of thousands of people all over the city awake to the same conclusion: 12noon, Trafalgar Square - we must take action.
Voice 1: Grand Mage, we must take action... please.
Voice 2: [Pause] Indeed, we shall, now that we know the method works. As the crowd assembles we shall proceed to arrest.
Voice 1: Arrest?
Voice 2: Arrest, expulsion, detention, removal... however you put it we will halt the process. [Pause] You have done well, Agent.
Voice 1: Thank you.
Voice 2: You're welcome, Dave.
Exterior: day - there is a large crowd in Trafalgar Square, several thousand people are gathered in the south-west corner. The crowd is building all the time, people are still arriving. They are the disaffected of London, the graduates without a future, the young without hope, the workers without a voice, all ages, creeds and races, mingling in surprise and mutual recognition. They are assembled around a banner, draped across one of the lion plinths. It reads: "Occupy Democracy - reclaim the vote." On top of the plinth stand the four REMagogues.
Jonas: [To Dave] I'm glad you could make it, our secret mastermind.
Dave: I'm sorry it's taken so long. I've been busy. One thing and another. Family stuff.
Jonas: No worries. I understand.
Many in the crowd are discussing and debating the new movement that has awoken, literally. Others, closer to the stage, recognise their leaders, the people from the dream, the REMagogues, and are eagerly waiting to hear their first true waking words.
Jonas: Hey, Marsha!
Marsha seems withdrawn for some reason. Something is wrong.
Jonas: You remember when I showed you this, uh? Did you ever think... ha! Wow. [Brandishing megaphone] We've probably waited long enough. [To his comrades] Shall we begin?
A Shout: Stop right there!
There is some commotion in the crowd. A posse force their way to the front. They are wearing easy-fit clothes that were fashionable fifteen years ago.
Charlie: [To the comrades on the plinth] By the power vested in me by the national conference of Socialist Revolution in the 21st Century I declare that you are hereby expelled for the duration of two years...
Marsha clambers down from the plinth and walks over to where the Central Committee stand.
Charlie: You may not attend any branch meetings in that time. You may not contribute to any party publications. You may not attend the summer festival - Ideas for Change. Should you wish to appeal...
Another Shout: Stop right there!
Another group bungles to the front. They are wearing capes and pointy hats.
Grand Mage: [To the remaining people on the plinth] As the Grand Mage of the Guild of Magicians and Psychic Practitioners I declare that you are hereby expelled from the order. Your psychic abilities are to be impounded for a minimum of two years.
Dave clambers off the plinth. He is given a hat. He puts it on.
Grand Mage: In that time you will not be allowed to read minds. You will not be allowed to psychically project. You will not be able to attend meetings or contribute to publications relating to the order. Should you wish to...
Yet Another Voice: Stop right there!
A new group asserts itself. Most of them are wearing uniforms. One of them is dressed in a suit.
Woman Wearing a Suit: [To crowd] We are the Serious and Metaphysical Crime Squad. This is an illegal assembly. You will all now disperse or face arrest.
Barnaby jumps down from the plinth and runs away. Jonas is left alone.
Woman Wearing a Suit: [To Jonas] Jonas Heston I hereby...
Jonas: [Loudly - through megaphone] NO!
Woman/Grand Mage/Charlie: What?
Jonas: I said no.
Jonas: You seem to be forgetting something, something important.
Jonas: [To everyone] What's the most hackneyed conclusion to a fantastical tale?
No one knows.
Jonas: And then I woke up and it was all a dream.
Everyone wakes up simultaneously. Jonas escapes.