There was a commotion at the door.
Neon Cobbles is a journey of conspiracy, confusion and drug fuelled paranoia that has swallowed Jack Harker whole as he forges his way through bureaucracy, drug-dependant peace keepers and raving augments to a state where his own mind is untrustworthy.
I mustn’t have been home long before I heard the banging on my door. There was something on that night which celebrated the seventh anniversary of the end of the European Civil War.
Earlier that night I had finished work at the Orgcyce Factory. Boarded a train and stared at sixteen different pairs of footwear. Got off at Wallgate and scored some Brick Dust from a blackened window. Using a free newspaper for shelter, I ran across the road. Narrowly avoiding a howling car, I made it to the other side and made for the alley in a dimly lit corner. The red rocks flickered in the light as my Clipper reduced it to a manageable dust.
I dabbed my finger in it a laid it on my tongue. It was sharp and felt as though my tongue smack against the back of my eyes.
The brick dust did not kick in until I navigated through the crowd to make for the ASTES Local. There, a speaker let out the noise of an old shop bell. There were four of us in the shop. Two teens deafened to the tedium of rejigged lounge music, and an old woman scanning the spirits as the young shop keeper stared deeply into his glowing palm.
I found myself at the magazine section before I felt a little wobbly. Flicking through a copy of Sweet ‘N’ Sour, I paused at Kimberly, 29 and saw her face beginning to droop. Was she having a fucking stroke, I thought to myself. I covered my mouth and my pupils shot open as wide as they could. Turning for a flash, I caught the glimpse of what was coming.
Kimberly, 29 continued to droop and the magazine fell to the ground with a splash as Kimberly spilled out onto the shop floor. Steadying myself on the wet-floor sign, I dragged it towards the puddle that had formed from the magazine. There was no doubt at all that there was more than just Kimberly, but I couldn’t be certain.
Blinking, I found myself before the shopkeeper. His glowing palm with a soft blue shone a soft blue which hugged his face and tickled his eyes. I asked for Twenty Woodman’s and in a swift flowing motion he stretched out his left arm, trough open the shutter with a flick of the wrist to which he followed its journey upwards before stopping at the exact packet I asked for. In the same fluidity he brought his hand and the cigarettes to the counter. All the while his eyes never budged from his palm. I stood in astonishment for an unknown amount of time. There was no real way of knowing, and have you ever tried looking at a clock when you’re on the stuff?
The crowd of commuters dipped watercolours from their rain splashed faces. Umbrellas whizzing it like a Catherine Wheel into the night sky. There was an opening and I hoped for it.
I tried to grab the shoulders of these slippery bastards, but it was useless and I almost tripped over. That is the last thing that you want, I thought, some people don’t get found for hours. All the calmness that I had felt washed away with the watercolours. There was little doubt that I needed to get out of there, but how? I couldn’t see shit, except for the harrowing figured which pour black smoke through the nostrils. A girl with iron crossed eyes.
After some negotiation I must have made myself safely to my apartment block, owned by a body lotion company which changes its name every two weeks. Makes for a hell of a lot of mail but I’ve managed to put it to some use by stuffing them in the walls and ceiling for insulation. Climbing slowly from my peak I could still feel the brick dust. The steel elevator was not an option. The light was blinking with the overwhelming smell of piss and shit emanating from within. Despite living on the twenty-third floor, I wasn’t going to ride that thing. The crowd I could bear, slightly. This would bring about the worse, and if I got stuck then I would perish in a head of the crud of others.
Vomiting slightly brought on the brick dust as I clutched the handrail. This feels unbelievable, I thought, not looking back at the elevator. If I couldn’t see it, then it couldn’t be part of reality, I told myself with a solipsistic grin on my face.
Each of the floors has a corridor and on them tends to be the young adults and the youths of all ages. Most of the time they are fine and keep it amongst themselves but every now and then somebody would get caught in the crossfire, so I just bury my head. The unpredictability is unsettling. VI News had their own opinions and they’re pretty convincing. However, I can’t say that I am surprised at all. A lot of them must have served in the European Civil War and now they’re all messed up. We needed any able bodied persons, men and women, girls and boys from the age of twelve and above.
Some of them still have their armbands, albeit torn in some cases and pinned to their jackets the world Biel. They had the deep and empty gaze which I assumed accompanied the feeling of enacting death, but at that age? Not our finest hour.
The sensation of crusted hand emerging from the matted carpet forced me to stop on the stairs. It had been a while since I was this up and down and there was no way to tell how I felt about the whole thing. The hand rail has been a long standing friend. Mr Folkner, the old spy from across the way made his way passed me on the stairs and arrested my eyes in his own. Folkner’s moustache was gelled to perfection as always, but on closer inspection I found that he had acquired a couple of slugs and placed them on his lip himself. Where did he get slugs from? Whether he was a spy or not is debatable.
The current theory stand that he deliberately makes himself look so absurdly like a Cold War Agent to throw me off guard, so that I think that his attempt to be over the top is so that he thinks that I believe him to me an everyday person. But, if he was a spy then that is exactly what he would do, and he always left the apartment at the same time as I did. Well, apart from this time. He was going to see the elevator and then all of a sudden it would materialise. Even the thought of it was causing a sort of rift. Was that look of unstill disgust on his sluggish face reserved for me?
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See the World With Clarity!
It was a struggle to lift myself from my chair. After finding myself in my apartment, I had spliced well and truly with the comfort of my armchair. I switched on the television and sent smoke into the air. My hands felt alien around the cigarette and my shakes subsided.
A heavy banging moved through my apartment and it caused me to cling tightly to the arms o the chair. My head was as though it was submerged underwater and the door hammered dully. Whether this sound emanated from behind the door, through the television, or within my own mind, I couldn’t be certain. The woman on the telly had a face that would not keep still long enough for me to register who it was.
The banging provoked my mind to journey to a number of possibilities. I felt a familiar sensation which risen me from my chair and backed me into a corner. My face was slumped in hands that were not my own. Each bang caused the door to swell and the noise travelled along the wall and converged around me.
There was no possible way of knowing the intention. Could it be one of those veterans, I thought to myself. Surely they are on enough meds to deal with it, but there was always the off chance that they did not take it. Were they even on medication? I knew the peacekeepers were. They ought to be something done about it. I made a line of the brick dust to see if this would calm myself, knowing full well somewhere that it wouldn’t work.
The peacekeepers , maybe
‘What have we here then?’
Young, these heavies would have no problem finding something to act on. The brick dust is only a minor offence, but still incurs ten years in a state facility doing something or other. Cleaning and filling bottles of tooth-rot? No, no, they would make it so that I had more than I did and then they’d stick the boot in at their own discretion.
‘Sir, open up or we’ll fuck you up!’
Approaching the door, I took a look through the peep hole. Nothing.
“Focus, Jack, focus.’ I pleaded to myself allowed, I think as I made my way towards the kitchen area to look through the fridge. There, the light had finally packed in and the shelves lay bare.
Inspecting the brick dust under a lamp, my curiosity for what it was cut with grew more intense than the brightness of the room in widened pupil. Sometime it gets cut with something like sugar, but not sugar. Makes for a profit. But every now and then you get a little surprise and you find that it is mixed with something funky to keep you on your toes, Could be safe. Could rupture your anus. You roll the dice as they come, and maybe that is where half of the fun lies.
The hallucinogenic effects made me think that it was Quantil, but there was a rush like Bolt however there was signs of it anywhere. Was this even brick dust?
The jingling of keys before a strong sniff.
The glow from the television slid across the glass coffee table and projected the images of frantic state officials with angered faces. Juliet Patel drew on her e-cigarette long enough to respond with ignorant idealism.
‘Self-improvement, Harvey. These children, as you are well aware of knew the inherent risks, and yet they went along with it. They need to look at themselves for help, instead of the government.’
‘Are you actually serious, Juliet?’ asked Harvey Piggott ‘I think that if they gave their lives so that we can have this conversation, then frankly it was a cruel waste.’
The audience didn’t like that, and I didn’t either.
‘You yourself, Juliet, where a staunch supporter of the change in minimum service age, and in fact could not wait to get boots on the ground.’
‘And it is a bloody good job that we did, am I right guys?’
Howls of laughter and cheers from the audience members crackled through the speakers.
‘Please, take a look at this map’ pleads Harvey, drawing attention to a map of the British Isles ‘particularly in these regions, we can see staggering levels of social degradation. This system is not working and it’s rotten to the core. I don’t care who hears it. The CC have failed these people, and as a result, small pockets of intricate gang culture, with a militaristic mentality has been able to root itself firmly into communities. They are armed, and they are well trained.’
‘Many have become peacekeepers, Harvey. It is estimated that around 87% percent of veterans aged between sixteen and twenty-seven have become keepers of the law and can put their skills to use.’
‘Yes, of course but what are they exactly? Just a bunch of doped up thugs.’
‘Well, they failed didn’t they? We had to go private and now everybody benefits.’
‘Unless you’re deemed as a ‘Sub’, which I think frankly is yet another disturbing class division which is as old as any of us care to mention, and frankly it is frivolous to ignore the concerns of a clearly dysfunctional group of people who saw horrors that none of us can even imagine all across Europe. You just-‘
The verbal jousting continued like this for over an hour. A peculiar draft from the door sent a chill through my thin layers. Rain beat hard against the windows and I heard more pounds from outside the door. Peep hole showed a woman with thick black wires doing a Fred Flintstone on the bugger.
Brass knob turned and she forced her way through the door.
‘You’ve got some nerve!’ She screamed aloud as she swung her arms violently towards me. Each punch they landed send a sickening flood to seep through my body. I protected my head as best I could, but the shifting floor caused me to stumble. Catching my right hip on the corner of the table, I span in pain as muffled shouts swilled in dizziness.
‘Well, answer me!’ She continued, her tirade had not stopped and I fell to the ground. Scrambling, my eyes rocked around the room. I was coming up at the wrong time.
‘Please’ I pleaded to her ‘Please, leave me alone!’
I turned to face her and my eyes found focus. The invader had mascara stained cheeks. Her face wouldn’t remain still and the lines on her face formed intricate patterns that joined through the wrinkled cracks.
Vomiting on the floor brought about more of a rush and she screamed about somebody called Jonathan. The excitement made me sick, or maybe it was the drugs and assault, but there I was hunched over and emptying my contents in front of her. Just see that I am a mess and leave me be.
‘Eliot told me that you know something about Jonathan. I have done everything that he has had, so I’m begging you, please!’ Her anger had subsided as she pleaded with me, this woman with the unsettled face.
Such a strong change in emotions brought the whole atmosphere to change in an instant. Ever had that? When the whole room has an altered element? When your head is under an influence it tends to pick up on these things like animals and earthquakes. She dropped to her knees in flood of tears.
‘There is no Johnathan here, lady.’ I said crawling towards her. Was I going to put my arm around her and tell her that everything will be alright? The thought of wedding bells rang through my head and I leapt to my feet. Sod that.
‘Then why would he tell me to come here?’ she asked me dumbfounded ‘I did everything. He called me and gave me this address and this time. He even rang from this address, I searched.
Ignoring me she stared hard at her feet and continued to mumble as if communing with the spirits. Her face settled and something had become known, a faint realisation given away by her eyes. She sank into herself and a brought her a glass of something from the cabinet.
This woman was a mystery to me. I was sure that my phone had been cut off months ago. How many holes had a punched into my memories? She was sure that I had called her from this address, but I have never met this woman before. I through her a cigarette to test the water and she turned to me with a stern look.
‘My name is Jack’ I said to her ‘and as you can see, I havern’t the foggiest idea of what is going on but bare-with me.’
Her mood changed once more. Prodding my chest, she accused me of calling her flat, and that I had used a voice-changer application to create a different impression. Technical trickery she claimed, saying that it had claimed the mind of Jonathan and that ‘we’ had done away with his body. Seeing the Orgcyce logo on my shirt sent her into a flurry of conspiracy, claiming that I was going to take her eyes away from her, and that her soul will be blinded from the once great beauty in this world. There was nothing I could say. Her mind was made up and she flipped the glass coffee table over causing it to shatter on the ground. The seal brick dust flung into the air. The corner was my friend, as I watched her trash what little I had.
Clarity would no doubt resume and my eyes drifted towards the door. It would have been better to just leave her to it, but you don’t just do that do you? I first needed to sober myself, but she wasn’t making it any easier, and I was terrified of approaching her. Not what you need with a head full of dust.