Wednesday, 16 July 2014

The Rain Country & Eastman

1. The Rain Country

 "You think that a wall as solid as the earth separates civilisation from barbarism. I tell you the division is a thread, a sheet of glass" . The Power-House ,John Buchan , 1913

He dreamt of letting his hand dance under the cool water which flowed freely from a tap and then watch as the unwanted liquid disappeared into the hole. 

He awoke with a start and yet there were not the usual battle noises that kept him awake at night. This was a darkness that brought with it nostalgia, an aching for the past that was guaranteed to suffocate any of his happiness that clung for survival.

He walked the top officers’ corridor, the one which was plastered with the war propaganda:

Remember our enemy – they squander

This was supported by photos of water being abused at the hands of the barbarians to the north.

Placed at the far end of the corridor was the most famous poster of all:

“Remember why we fight” the photo of a tap and a drip of water. 

Every home had one on the wall – put there by order. 

He had been a night-walker ever since he was a child, long before the Drought, long before the War, long before the dreams of the past.

The drought and the war were things he could fight against but the nostalgia was the worst, it lured him into a warm land. In his dreams he was bathing in hot water while his family prepared the evening meal in the rooms below. 

Those days had gone and most of his family were dead or taken as slaves and shipped to the north. 

Once people crossed the rebuilt Hadrian’s Wall they were very rarely seen again. Satellite photos showed camps for re-education on the outskirts of Edinburgh and Aberdeen. For re-education read extermination camps. 

Those unfortunate enough to be captured were usually worked to death building underground storage areas for the water or the new gold as it was better known. 

His own parents had gone ‘over the wall’ ten years ago. They had moved for safety to the hills in the Lake District but had been captured on a raid by The Reivers. Those to the north had the water but not the manpower - so that need had brought them raiding as far south as Old Manchester.   

If the war continued it would be thirty years old next February. The war was older than most of the people left in the United English States, he guessed that was why they had made him a General - he was forty three years of age and one of the few people that old. One could still make out ‘General Robert Star: UES Army’ on his fading breast badge.

He had sent his wife and child to a holding camp near Liverpool as it still had some water and was considered safe, at least for now.

It was estimated that the population of the United English States was just under a million, many had perished in the first drought but disease had been the main cause for most. 

The Barbarians on the dark side of the wall had an estimated 200,000 and probably another 100,000 made up of those captured or those who had defected. 

The defectors were known as ‘Thirst Runners’ and if they were re-captured by their own people, they were normally flayed alive and laid out on the grass as a warning to others. 

Robert, or Bobby as he liked to be called by his men, had been a soldier for most of his adult life. As the drought moved up what was once known as Britain, so Robert’s garrison followed. He had spent thirteen years in Old Manchester before moving to this new camp called New Manchester built on what had been once a town called Preston. 

Preston had been razed to the ground at around the same time as his parents had disappeared. 

He was issued with a small bottle of water each Sunday and this was to do him for the week. There was still some water reaching them from Wales but most of what was left of those supplies had been stolen, the pipes  having blown apart. Those who lived in the border areas of Wales were systematically erased, it was considered better to rid the area of Drinkers (that was how the UES referred to non-combatants) than wait for them to become potential terrorists. Except the extermination gave birth to more terrorism than if the place had been left alone. 

The scorch and burn policy was now dropped in favour of bribery. Give the Drinkers water and they had no need to hit back at the troops.

Everyone knew on both sides of the wall what was coming next - it was inevitable. It had been discussed, planned and resourced from the Garrison in Old Manchester. In two days time the entire UES Army was going to attack the wall from both the Carlisle side and also using those battalions based at the River Tyne; there had been a proud city there once.

Robert always finished his nocturnal walk as the dawn was breaking through - this shortened the dream-time.

The next few days would change the war one way or another for everyone.

What they couldn’t do was stay where they were.

2. Eastman

It’s one of those games we still played even after all this time; where did we think Eastman was born?

There was a day when every city west of Berlin claimed him as their own but in the end it was probably London or across the water in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

You wouldn’t have picked him out at the start as being the type of creature he became. The story is often told of him being referred to as The Quiet Man, the gentle man.

He wasn’t a devout anything, never really went to church and rarely spoke of religion. To be honest, he wasn’t extreme about anything. Not at first.

He was born with that indefinable gift of people liking him. He magnetized them, flattered them, became their friend and then used them.

He spoke on television, on the web, wrote best selling E-books and even composed several successful music downloads. He was the champion; he was the peoples’ champion, he was their champion.

His ‘Deacons’, as he called his close followers, financed his rise. He was astute and he waited until the time was right. After the crash of the Eurozone and the 60% unemployment, he offered cheap food in Eastman Stores, all making a loss and all promoting his ideals. Cheap camps were set up in Spain and England and these were known as 'Eastman Vacs', where families could vacation for almost next to nothing.

This was when he was loved and this was when he made his move.
It was as quick as it was well thought out.

He didn’t attack the churches at first, not at first. On his daily web broadcast he maybe hinted at his objection to the church, its power and its money. Only later did he talk of the actual buildings being insane asylums – only later did he suggest that holding a faith was a mental illness.

Then the first one went, a Baptist Church in South London was razed to the ground. The Eastmen (as the disciples now insisted that you call them) blamed it on a race issue – wasn’t the church full of outsiders? But it didn’t stop there. Within two years, any form of worship in England was outlawed. This didn’t apply to the former UK countries of Ireland North and Scotland, they had gone their own way.

When Eastman finally claimed power, it was amongst the poor that lived in tented cities in the parks of England. They ate Eastman Food, watched Eastman Broadcasts, Eastman Movies and drank Eastman Gin (Orwell would have smirked at that last one).

Every July the 2nd was Eastman Day and the Eastmen would hold parades in every corner of the country. It wasn’t an option to attend.

But what you might ask, became of the opposition? Or the devout Catholics/Muslims/Protestants/Jews and others? Those that insisted on worshipping were slung into the other type of Eastman camp and worked to death.

Those who spread any form of socialism or brotherly love were beheaded in the Eastman Squares at the centre of every city.

Eastman Money was offered to anyone who snitched on their friends and family who worshipped in secret. Normally their homes were set on fire with the occupants inside.

Somewhere in all the cynicism of the 21st century we stopped caring and as we stopped caring we fed the beast.

As I sit here, I think back to the greed that started all of this; the bankers, the debt, the crash of the Eurozone, the unemployment, the riots and the rise and rise of Eastman.

You may mention Hitler in the same breath and you’d be right.
And all of this?

Well these are my final thoughts as I know they’ll be coming for me soon.

You may ask what my crime was?

I was a writer.

I’ll be taken to the re-education showers shortly.

No one ever returns.

bobby stevenson 2014

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