Thursday, 20 January 2011

After the Revolution - Part 1

Hello to all - many thanks to those of you who took the time to read 'Brothers', your support is invaluable to me. Now the next thing... Over the course of the next ten weeks or so I will be posting a serialised version of my new novella 'After the Revolution', a story that follows Alex, a scientist who gets a terrifying glimpse of the future and sees what will become of his country. After the Revolution, Britain is a dictatorship at war, ruled by a man named Wilson who bullied his way into power thirty years ago and runs his country on three foundations. Power, Strength and Freedom.
How will Alex cope when he returns knowing what lies ahead? Can he change the future? Will he?

Be sure to check back every Friday to find out!


Present Day

They had been arguing just before it happened. About money - as usual. ‘These are tough times,’ she would persist. ‘How the hell can we afford to keep that bloody workshop running during a recession? It would be a different story if you ever actually designed anything useful after all the hours you spend tinkering about in there.’
That annoyed him, and she knew it. His workshop was his life.
‘You got how much from your father when he died? It was Thousands, Alex. And how much of it is left?’
He knew there was nothing left. So did she, but she liked to push the point during an argument.
‘That went towards my experiments…’ he would reply. ‘He was my father, and he left me the money to complete my life’s work!’
‘That was our future, Alex. That was our home, our retirement… everything. We could have started a family… had a life together! And what do we have to show for it?’ She scowled as she gestured towards the open door to Alex’s workshop. ‘Nothing but a load of junk.’ She stormed out of the room, slamming the door behind her.
Alex let out a long sigh as he walked into his workshop. His wife had been so exited about his work in the beginning. It seemed that ever since they had gotten married, she no longer had the time to dream.
As he stepped through the door, he saw it there, looking down at him; the huge steel structure. She was right of course, he thought, as he looked up. It doesn’t work. Not yet.
‘How can you bear to keep going?’ his wife would ask him from time to time, pained by her husband’s fruitless labour. ‘You’re wasting your life; you’re wasting our life! You have tried a thousand times and you have failed a thousand times! When will you give up?’
Alex stood in his workshop and looked up at the fruit of a thousand failures, smiling to himself and thinking of his hero, Thomas Edison.
I haven’t failed a thousand times, he thought to himself. I’ve just successfully learned a thousand ways not to build a time machine.

His wife, Annie, sat stewing in the other room, seriously pondering the fate of her marriage. She was certain that he had a brilliant mind… if only he weren’t so bloody obsessive. She knew she loved him, and she knew that she wanted to be with him always… but something had to change. He was married to his work, not to her… and pretty soon the money would all run out. What then? This couldn’t go on… this, this fantasy.
He stood in the doorway and called over to her. As she turned around, she fully expected the puppy dog eyes and the entire sad apology routine. Things will get better… I can change!
What she saw was quite different. They had only parted ways fifteen minutes ago, but something had definitely happened. Alex wore a wide grin that stretched from ear to ear and his hands were trembling.
‘What is it, Alex?’
He took a long time to reply, so Annie continued.
‘I don’t have the energy for this anymore, Alex. Not anymore.’
‘I did it.’ He spoke only a little over a whisper.
‘You did what? What did you d-‘
‘It works.’
Alex began to chuckle and mutter under his breath. I’ve done it. I’ve finally done it!
‘You have to be kid-‘
‘Come and see it if you don’t believe me.’
Alex led his wife through to the workshop, where he stood, wide eyed, looking up at his creation.
As Annie looked up at it, her heart sank. Of course it doesn’t work. I couldn’t possibly work. She still felt sorry for him, though. Despite all the failed attempts, she still hadn’t developed a tolerance to feeling sorry for him.
‘Watch, Annie… watch,’ he chirped. ‘I saw it with my own eyes… I saw it!’
‘What did you see?’ replied Annie unenthusiastically.
‘This!’ Alex swung around, holding a gold watch in front of his face. ‘I sent this watch through time… just now. Look…’ he spoke in short, excited bursts. ‘See the time on the watch.’ He pointed to the watch face. ‘Eight thirty seven pm.’
Annie gave little reaction.
‘And look at the clock up there on the wall.’
Annie looked up. Eight thirty eight.
‘The watch has lost a minute!’
Annie was solemn. ‘Alex… I don’t have time for these games anymore.’
Alex’s face was not altered by his wife’s stony reaction. ‘These aren’t games. This is real… I saw it!’
‘I’m sorry, Alex. I have to go.’ Unimpressed, she began to walk back towards the door.’
‘Annie! Wait… Let me show you!’
He knew he had to prove it, so he opened the hatch at the bottom and climbed in, smiling to himself. Where will we be in fifty years?
Annie looked back over her shoulder when she heard the hatch closing. Surely not? Annie had seen first hand the state that things (living or otherwise) had been in when they came out of that hatch on previous trial runs. He’s mad.
‘Alex, don’t be an idiot!’ As she began to walk back across the room towards the machine, there was a deafening crash and an instant of blinding white light.
Annie stood, glued to the spot, her mouth wide and trembling with fear. Alex…
She slowly began to walk over to the machine, desperately trying to see into the hatch window. Then, when she got close enough to have an un-obscured view, she froze. Fear coursed through her in giant waves as she looked through the glass.
The hatch was empty.
‘Alex! Alex! Where are you!’ She began to sob and fell to her knees. Her husband was gone. Maybe he was right. Maybe it did work after all.
As she lay on the floor of her husband’s workshop sobbing into her hands, another mighty crash came out of nowhere, followed by another instant of blinding light. She slowly raised her head and looked up. Again?
Annie jumped back in terror as the hatch came sliding open, smoke pouring from underneath the machine.
She slowly edged back across the floor as a dark figure began to make its way out of the hatch. It was a man, but he bore no resemblance to the man who had climbed into the machine minutes ago. He was drawn, exhausted and limped out of the machine, pulling his right leg behind him. He wore a thick beard and a long scar down the side of his cheek, and he was holding something in his hand. A red scarf.
The man collapsed, trying his best to take deep exhausted breaths, shaking on the floor. Then as Annie looked a little closer, she recognised him.
‘A… Alex?’ She spoke a little over a whisper.
Her husband looked up at her from the ground through weary, terrified eyes.
‘Annie? Is that you, Annie? I… I’m back…’

‘…I’m back.’

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