In which Greta is Recruited and Nathan Learns some Lessons
[Extracted from my book “Reluctant Angels”]
Even in the cosiness of his bed, Nathan could sense a crispness in the air outside. The temperature had dropped sharply overnight from Autumn to Winter. He walked to the window and looked down onto the normally verdant park below. The first frost of the season lay on the grass, on which starlings hopped about, leaving their footprints, like fifties teddy-boys beating the bounds of some new territory. Down the road, to the right, the same van was there as had been for some five days. Its colour was an orangey brown, rather like the hue of diarrhoea after eating at a dubious Indian takeaway. Two men, one in a suit, the other more casually dressed, sat in the front seats, who Nathan presumed to be agents from the Group for Citizen Realignment — euphemistically known in government public liaison circles as “Group R” — a psyop outfit jointly run by the military and police, designed to straighten out dissidents with “re-education” using a mixture of intimidation and wave technology. One can recognise them by the array of electronic gizmos built into the rear windowsill and a tiny antenna-like device on the roof which, appropriately, he always thought resembled a grinning goat’s skull.
(Includes an Illustrated Journey through the Bishop’s Brain)
From the elevated position of his elegantly carved wooden pulpit, Paul Altara (or the Reverend Paul Altara, as he was then known) looked down at the assembled crowd in the church. It had indeed been his pulpit, a sacred space from which, week after week for nearly seven years, he had been able to deliver adventurous, contemplative explorations — though always within the religious limitations from which he was now being liberated. During those years, many had been challenged, some had been puzzled and a number had walked away. Various threatened dignitaries and authorities had tried to undermine him through malicious gossip and takedowns. He had even drawn the intense attention, as a dissident, of the government’s euphemistically-named Religious Liaison Unit (RLU) — a department which, through legislation, punitive enforcement and incarceration in special prisons known euphemistically as “Reattunement Camps” (where state-of-the-art technology would be used to alter permanently one’s thinking), ensured that religion and all religious meetings were supportive of the state, non-dissenting and did not pursue their own objectives too radically. In return, they also enabled legislation outlawing any criticism of a religion or belief as “hate-speech”. This was therefore a department to which all churches unequivocally submitted without question and even took pride in doing so. To Paul, though, it was a sign of the times for the church to kowtow to such an office, especially with the fulsome sycophancy it did so.
Julianne Rediscovers her Father (and Herself)
A CERTAIN DARKNESS found its way into Nathan’s awareness — one which dreamed like a mattress filled with horsehair floating on a lake of poems and tears at the dead of night. He saw it from the corner of his eye yet it filled his vision in full panoramic technicolour.
On the other side of the restaurant, a woman sat alone. Gloweringly.
[A sample chapter from my book “Reluctant Angels”]
Homesick snores and the scent of starched, overclean sheets invaded Nathan’s senses every night. It was like a cacophony of lost little piglets restlessly seeking their mummies across the dark, so they could suckle and receive comfort in the wilderness. The dormitory was entirely dark except for a dully lit sign over a door in one corner saying “FIRE EXIT” (though the door was always locked). The bulb behind the “F” had never worked for as long as Nathan could remember; so, in fact, it said “IRE EXIT”, which he found most amusing, in view of all the combative and often bullying behaviour he witnessed every day throughout the establishment, whether from teachers, pupils or other staff — but not from the gardener, Mister Jasper, as he was called (for all non-teaching staff, like servants in colonial times, were known only by their first names, preceded by “Mister” or “Miss”. His full name, in fact, was Jasper Burrows). Nathan had a special and formative relationship with Mister Jasper [as will be revealed in greater detail in a later chapter], whom everyone thought to be “simple” but who Nathan recognised as a fountain of quiet genius. On one occasion, as his father was driving him back to the school after a weekend away, Nathan had pointed out to him Mister Jasper, who was working among the rhododendron bushes at one side of the entry drive.
“Look! There he is! That’s Mister Jasper!” said the boy excitedly.
Karelija Comes of Age
Karelija Šviečiantys regularly braided her long, mousey-brown hair. It was a meditation ritual. She braided it in a spiral shape — closely resembling the archetypal pattern of DNA — but with a personal extra-dimensional twist every time. This should not be a surprise, for she came into this world not only with revolution built into her DNA but she defied all standard genetic encoding in her life and comportment.
[extracted from the book I’m writing, “Reluctant Angels”]
‘Abendrot!’ was the word which came into Nathan’s head, as he lay on his back in the field staring at the ruddy, still slightly bluesome almost dark and duskly sky. Jupiter was the only heavenly body which was so far visible. ‘I think I’m in love with you,’ said Nathan in his mind to the planet. As he had that thought, he realised that he was, in fact, tonight in love with everything — even with the mosquito which had settled on his arm and was now voraciously drinking his blood. He allowed it to have its fill. ‘Why not?’ he thought. He wondered if his own essence had once taken the form of a mosquito; and he imagined himself as the insect feeling thankful to its host. “You’re welcome,” he said aloud.
Nathan receives his Mission from Livinia
IS RAIN MUSIC? Not necessarily. But the sound it makes on everything is more than a symphony. Nathan was listening to the first movement. It started with a largo and soon became an allegro moderato. It was emblematically washing away the dirt (and bruises) which still clung to him from his close encounter with the Police Specials like clumps of cobweb and burrs. So cathartic was the experience that he wandered about in the wetness for what seemed like hours.