As the chapters are short I thought you might like a second one. Comments are welcome.
Chapter 2 – The Pub
Sunday afternoons were usually lively affairs and this Sunday had been typical. We were a group of friends who regularly met up for a good old chin-wag – putting the world right. The guys would invariably gather round one table with their pints where they could glimpse the footie while the girls gathered round the other and did their thing. Their table invariably had a lot more laughter and giggling. Ours was fun in a different way. We talked, argued and ranted a lot. We were an unholy alliance of disparate characters. There was a great passion in our thoughts and beliefs. It was what made us tick. We took ourselves seriously and despaired at the state of the world. Whether we enjoyed it or not we gained a lot of strength from each other’s company. There was a real bond between us. I think we saw ourselves as the seven musketeers without swords or muskets. We were all pacifists through and through.
Our sessions were always quite animated and this one more than usual. Clive started it all off. He nearly always set the tone.
‘I see another of those wankers has gone and blown himself up outside another mosque,’ he observed morosely. ‘Another indoctrinated fool told to expect eternal paradise and unlimited virgins. God knows where all those virgins are going to be sourced from.’
Clive was a devout antitheist, a big strong man with a mood often as dark as his hair and beard. He was a brooding man who always thought deeply about things, but was not slow in coming forward. His square jaw, intense brown eyes and passionate voice gave gravity to anything he said. Strangers did not argue with Clive when he launched into one of his diatribes even if they disagreed with what he said. He was a formidable man. Clive was of the opinion that all the world’s problems were caused by religion and superstition and the sooner we moved out of the Dark Ages the better. He firmly believed that religion only caused division and hatred and wasted everybody’s time and effort. His contention was that if the energy used on building mosques, temples and cathedrals, and the time and effort used on pointless prayer and worship was devoted to solving the world’s problems we’d be living in paradise right now. It was an argument he put forward at every opportunity.
‘It’s all about power,’ John chipped in disparagingly. Despite the fact that he was half Clive’s size he was never daunted by his physicality. John may have been little, balding and less daunting a figure, but more than compensated for his lack of physical stature with his dynamism. He was prone to excitability and displayed his nervous predisposition with his animated, quick little movements, jerky like a twitchy bird. But John was utterly fearless. When he got going he’d face down a horde of angry men. Ruth had her work cut out keeping him in check, but somehow, she succeeded. ‘There’s a huge global power struggle going on. The West is stirring it up for their own gain. They love to cause chaos and exploit it. Religion is one of their favourite ploys. Those idiots are being used.’
John was a firebrand of a Trade Union who was a committed Marxist. He saw everything in terms of a power struggle. In his eyes the world would not be right until the masses rose up and took power. Then they would create a fair system where no-one would be exploited and everyone would live happily ever after. He always took exception to anyone equating what had happened in Russia, China and Cambodia with communism. In his eyes they had been examples of tyranny. He chose to focus on the best side of Castro’s Cuba and the promise of Peron in Argentina.
‘It is only deflecting attention from the real crisis going on,’ Brian interrupted before John could get into his swing. Brian spoke softly with his usual thoughtfulness. He was six foot and well padded, but always looked small when sitting next to Clive. His strength was in the depth of his mind. He was so moved by what was happening to the natural world that he seemed to live in a constant brooding anger. ‘Politics and religion are important but the environment is the real issue. The species eradication is spiralling. The deforestation is taking a chunk the size of Wales each month and global warming is going to swamp the world. We’ll all be breathing water by the end of the century. That’s the real issue. If we do not get our act together soon it will be too late and we’ll all be wiped out.’
Brian was an environmentalist of the first order. He went on all the marches and protests and was a fully paid up member of Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth with a number of direct actions to his credit that had earned him a few convictions and special police attention. He was passionate and dismayed by what was happening to the planet. He thought we were raping it.
‘I agree with Brian but I still think it’s simply a question of numbers,’ Gary insisted intensely. He shook his head sadly and his fine fair hair, the colour of yellow straw, swayed like a curtain around his finely sculpted features. His blue eyes shone with Scandinavian Viking vitality. ‘There’s far too big a population. It’s not sustainable. That is the cause of the crisis. We have to stop the increase and get down from seven billion to a sustainable four billion. Then there wouldn’t be any of these crises with the environment, all the migration, poverty, pollution and all the rest. We could live in harmony.’
Gary was another environmentalist but he was more of a one issue pragmatist. His argument was that the population size was driving all the fundamentalism, political power madness, war, economic chaos, poverty, inequality, pollution and environmental destruction. In fact he probably blamed population size if the village shop ran out of milk. Everything that went wrong was because there were too many people. All we needed to do was drastically reduce the world’s population and most of the problems would disappear.
‘Might not have to wait too long,’ Chris interrupted brightly; his exuberance and joviality belying the seriousness of his feelings. Chris was always chirpy and light-hearted but that was only his personality and had little to do with the nature of his thoughts. They were much deeper than showed on the surface. ‘There’s bound to be a catastrophe soon.’
‘Oh yes?’ Brian retorted. ‘And which one is that going to be this week?’
‘Take your pick from the usual suspects,’ Chris continued, unaffected by Brian’s cynicism. He was only a little, ordinary looking guy but he had a personality that could fill a room. He might look small and mousy but inside he was monumental. ‘This could be the week that the Yellowstone Caldera collapses and swamps two thirds of the United States with larva and sends us into a nuclear winter. Or perhaps a comet will plummet into us. Or a new virus will wipe us out. It could even be Korea spiralling us into a nuclear war. I doubt we’ll have to wait too long. Certainly not long enough for any global warming to drown us all.’
Chris was a firm believer in the disaster theory. He’d watched every disaster movie going and believed all of them. In his mind it was merely a question of time until a catastrophe swept human beings into a thin band in the fossil record. In Chris’s opinion not nearly enough money was being directed into solid scientific research. He felt we should be scouring space for comets and funding antiviral research instead of wasting it on stupid weaponry. Chris was one of the most cheerful people going, probably because he was reconciled to his, and our, imminent fate.
Then there was Pete, our Pete. If ever a group had a heart then it was encompassed in Pete and his cherubic face framed with fair curly hair. His cheerful, kind-hearted personality was the glue that held us together. Every group of people needed a Pete.
‘Perhaps we should start small,’ Pete suggested. ‘Focus more on the things we can influence. I think we should concentrate on the areas we can make a real difference with, get involved with local issues, form pressure groups, and join up with local politics and making positive changes to the world around us. We could make people’s lives better; make a real impact.’
Pete was always for helping people. That was his raison d’etre. Pete was forever the eternal optimist, so sweet and cheerful. His mind mirrored his pleasant looks and that made him all the girls’ favourite. They loved to mother him. He was so cuddly. And if the truth was known we all loved him too. People didn’t get more kind and charming than Pete.
It was the start of a lively session that got quite heated at times. It was quite unusual to have such a group of deep thinking, caring and compassionate intelligent people all living in one small community. It certainly fuelled the imagination and brought the mind into focus. Nothing was off limits.
The girls were the practical ones though. Rather than merely sounding off they organised the Fair Trade goods, local produce and environmentally friendly produce. They actually made a difference. They were the ones who made the practical changes. It seems that they did not really need to spout off like the lads. They knew what they thought and were content. They had a much more light-hearted gathering.
As for me – well I agreed with all of them. I thought every one of them made valid points from their different perspectives. I loved our gatherings and liked to join in the heated debates that always ensued. They were invigorating and never failed to help me coalesce my own thoughts into something more coherent.
They were a funny bunch – but hey – these were my friends, the people who helped channel my thoughts and sensibilities. They made me who I was.
There was a downside to it though, as I nearly always left our little discussions feeling despondent. There did not seem any point to it. We were impotent. There was nothing we could do about anything. Humanity, in my opinion, was being guided by a group of psychotic multibillionaires who were motivated by greed. All they were interested in was personal gain. With their slogan of ‘progress and expansion’ they were bulldozing the forests to exploit the natural resources, buying off politicians, flouting international laws, and leading us down a cul-de-sac towards destruction. That’s how it seemed to me. We were cogs in the machine.
We were so far into this capitalist dream that there seemed no way of slowing it. Nobody seemed at all keen on dealing with any of the real issues. It looked to me as if we were doomed and there was nothing we could do about it. We all talked about it, did our little bit in our own way but we were largely helpless when confronted with the forces driving the world forward. We were grains of sand on a beach of indifference.
So it was no surprise that I chose them to form the first global government. They had what was needed. I could trust them. They cared. If anyone could get the planet back into shape, they could. They knew what was wrong. The boys had the passion and zeal and the girls knew how to channel it into action.
You’ve just met my cabinet.
If you are tempted to read one of my Sci-fi novels in either paperback or digital I have placed some links below:
My best Sci-fi books in the USA:
Ebola in the Garden of Eden
Starturn – Intergalactic Rockstar
Sorting The Future
My best Sci-fi books in the UK:
Ebola In The Garden Of Eden.
Sorting The Future
Starturn – Intergalactic Rockstar