Stone The Crows

Synopsis


Tom Bishop knows something is happening. But when The Horror begins, it will be too late for everyone else.

The crows outside Bishop’s flat have destroyed the morning birdsong. A vicious, aggressive black cloud of razor-sharp beaks and talons begin to taunt then attack him, a stark warning that the delicate fabric of daily life in the commonsense world is about to be altered forever.

The woman, the Japanese assassin, is pursuing him through the snaking dark streets of London. No matter how hard he tries to shake her off, she is always there waiting for him like a spectre. Is she some kind of shape-shifter morphing into familiar surroundings, lulling him into some false sense of security before she attacks him again? What does she want? Why him? But she is only a small fragment of this apocalyptic puzzle.

He knew they existed. The Inorganics. Flickering around him, as if on the extreme border of his consciousness, corporeally invisible, Bishop felt their presence as strongly as any worldly creature. It was as if energy had seeped into his existence and acquired a predatory soul. He knew some Inorganics could be harmful, but through his training he could defend himself  so far.

Roulla Mavromati, the enigmatic woman he meets one day on the train, craves his knowledge. But these will not be the lessons found in any university surrounded by the leafy comfort of academia. She will be pushed to the very edge of pleasure and pain to discover they spring from the same source. As her thirst for Heaven and Hell intensifies, Bishop has to find new extremes where the boundaries of flesh and consciousness dissolve. Roulla possesses a power Bishop has never encountered in any woman he has known. Unleashed, the potential could be devastating. As Roulla excels in her studies, Tom Bishop realises this is the woman he was always destined to meet and that these are not merely games of master and slave but a frightening prelude of what is to come.

Then it begins

It is during one of the many conversations with another resident of the house, his philosophical sparring partner, the Red Yank, an out-of-work actor with a passion for classical music, pipes and women. His flat is cluttered with chaotic displays of his theatre and film work, and he shares it with the love of his life, a politically incorrect parrot called Louie.

At first it seems like a simple car accident in the street outside with the two drivers in an angry stand off  maybe an exchange of blame, then insurance details? An axe swings, bullets spray from a gun and a man lies dying on the floor. A hate-fuelled mob floods the neighbourhood charged with insanity and chaos as Bishop and the Red Yank unbelievingly crane their heads out of the window to watch as the police, outnumbered and helpless, disappear beneath a tidal wave of blood and anarchy. It could be the beginnings of a long overdue revolution. But this is what Bishop has always known. The Horror had begun.

The landscape has dramatically changed overnight. Dismembered corpses hang from trees, the dead litter the streets as the crows and rats feast on the banquet. At first it seems that the only living creatures are the crows. Patrolled by armed guards, huge razor wire pens have been constructed. Inside, a new breed of animal is being broken in and conditioned to obey their new masters. Naked and dehumanised, the filthy rich, the ex-rulers of the people and the upper echelon, have become the primary fuel as they pull the new order around in makeshift chariots. Whipped into a pulverising subservience, these scarred and tattered people scream out for a system that has crumbled into the bloody filth and human detritus of stinking London streets.

Animals with reborn primal savagery hunt in packs, tearing apart anything in their path and adding to the growing carnage. The Horror is engulfing everything, not just people. The earth is in revolt.

Tom Bishop and the Red Yank find to their amazement they can walk around without drawing attention to themselves while watching the blasphemy of deconstructed humanity at their leisure. But the crows see them. The crows always see them, and the crows haven’t forgotten.

Then Bishop hears The Voice and learns why things are the way they are. Why they always will be. Why The Horror has to exist.







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17. Chapter Seventeen

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

 

 

Jimmy Cohen leaned forward at the waist and spread his hands.  “I had two good friends with the Revolutionary Units.  Before they were formed, really.  Right at the beginning.  Whitehall, the Mall, Buck House were defended mostly by Guards regiments.  They were just overwhelmed.  It was a bloodbath.  Tanks – nothing could stop the huge clots of people surging through every street of Central London.  And don’t forget that lots and lots of regular army and navy personnel had mutinied.  They were armed and with the crowd.”

 

Cohen stopped and reached for his mug of coffee.  The four of them were sitting in the Red Yank’s kitchen.  It was the Red Yank who met Cohen bicycling through Clerkenwell.  The American was checking to see if the Marx Memorial Library survived the Horror and was amused to see it was still in operation, still loaning books and using the old Soviet system of indexing.  He was startled to see a more or less normal-looking man scanning the buildings as he came out of the library.  The bicyclist didn’t appear to be a young thug or a Roo.  He was looking for the library as well.  Their eyes met, and they stopped to have a conversation.  In the end, the Red Yank invited Cohen back to their flat for an exchange of information.

Cohen sat with his back to the window, across from the Red Yank.  Tom Bishop sat at the end with his legs crossed, and Roulla was leaning her bum against the worktop.

 

“It was unrelenting,” Cohen continued.  “No stopping, night or day.  Rivers of blood.  A platitude, I know, but rivers of it – I’m not exaggerating, running down the gutters in the streets.”

“What about the royals,” Roulla asked.  “Did they manage to get the royals?”

 

“No one knows for sure whether they got them all, but the Queen, yes.  Prince Charles – and his family as well, I think.  Their heads were stuck on spikes outside Buck House, and I saw them myself.  But the royals were not the main targets.  They just happened to be high profile…”

“Looks to me like they would have jumped in planes or made some kind of underground getaway,” the Red Yank said.

Cohen spread his hands.  “Where do they go?  All hell was breaking loose in Europe as well.  America was worse than here.  Or so they say.  Nukes were set off, things like that.  I guess the royals stuck with the devil they knew.  And they had the Guards.  My mates told me the Guards fought like demons.  There was no place to retreat, and they died fighting for Queen and country.  The Guards had tanks, too.  With my own eyes I saw tanks moving round Trafalgar Square completely covered with people.  Like ants.  They attacked with hammers and bricks, anything they could lay their hands on.  At some point someone remembered petrol, and the tanks were finished.  But I’d just like to get across the animal barbarity of the mobs.  They were crazed, demented.  The ones who really, really suffered were the business types – anyone they could catch in a bank or penthouse or classy hotel or insurance building.  Any business in the City or West End.  I mean, not newsagents, but proper businesses.  Offices.  Bankers, stock traders…”

The Red Yank interrupted again.  “Just like the Royal Family, you’d think they’d use their money to get their asses out of there.  Into the countryside, stick a straw between their teeth and pretend to be rural hicks.”

 

Cohen shrugged.  “I suppose some did.  Who knows?  But I think maybe most of them just decided to stick it or were too stunned to move.  What people don’t realise was how quick it all happened.  And it just continued to happen and get bigger and bigger by the minute.”

The Red Yank lit one of his few remaining cigars.  “Yeah.  They don’t realise until it’s too late that the people they have been cheating and humiliating for years and years and years can turn into a tidal wave that can sweep away every structure made by man.  Revolutions release indescribable energy.”

 

“Well,” Cohen said, “it took a few days for some sort of organisation of the mob to emerge.  When it did, it just got worse.  They were ferocious.  They brought in tractors, tanks and combine harvesters with dozens of chains attached to the back.  At first they’d drag people out of buildings like that.  Attach the chain to their ankles or waists, then just pull them all out of the buildings – leaving blood-splattered guts down the stairs, through the lobbies.  But that was too slow.  Finally, they drove everyone out of the buildings in herds and hooked them up outside.  South London villains used to call it a ‘scrape round the block.’  People were chained to all these huge vehicles and just pulled towards the Thames until nothing was left but stumps of meat.  The remains were thrown into the river.  Man, the smell!”

“It was bad in Hampstead, too,” Bishop said.  He told their new acquaintance about their visits to the suburb.

“Jimmy told me earlier that he’s also got the sensation of being kind of invisible,” the Red Yank added.

“Yeah, it’s a little like the people you’ve got here.  I just live over the river in Borough.  We all lost our flats, but there are about a dozen of us who squatted some old business estate.  You remember those places that sprung up in the last 20 years, these cubicles where you can run a little business?  Anyway, we found a place relatively untouched.  It’s like a rabbit warren.  And we’ve been taking in people when we find them.  People like us.”

 

The Red Yank glanced quickly at Bishop and Roulla.  “And do you feel you’re different from the others.  You know, the mobs, the Roos, the new gangs that form and re-form.”

Cohen turned his chair so he could lean it back against the wall and look out the window.  “That’s a pretty fucking odd question.  I suppose the difference I feel is not anything special.  I’ve felt it all my life.  I mean, I didn’t take part in all the blood-letting.  When I could, I watched.  At first it turned my stomach, but, you know?  After you’ve seen the first two hundred people gutted with filleting knives, you sort of get used to it.”

 

He turned and looked at Bishop and the Red Yank.  “And I’ve got to admit something to you.  My sense of humanity evaporated.  I lost it.  I’d walk right by people dying on the pavements – some without arms and legs.  They begged me to help, and I just walked on.  It’s hard telling you this…”

Cohen stopped and turned bleakly towards the window.  “I just felt like, ‘you bastards ate shit and helped support the whole house of mirrors so you could be healthy and smug and wealthy at the expense of over half the people in your own country and countless millions in an unknown number of other countries.’  So I walked on by.  I didn’t want to see the eyes.  It was like scenes from the Christian hell, the Lower Depths.  But, you know?  They had been living there already – in hell, in the Lower Depths.  And in the end they had no souls, nothing left to save.  I didn’t refuse to do anything.  I just realised there was nothing I could do.  A sense of helplessness, that’s all I had.”

 

Roulla Mavromati refilled a pan from the water bottle and put it on the butane unit.  “I can understand how you feel.  But I can’t pass by, so it’s hard for me to go out much…”

“What Cohen says makes sense to me,” Bishop interrupted.  “I feel the same way.  Leave them to drown in their own excrement.  All these ‘nice’ people were killers.  Barbarians.  At least in Rome, the locals had enough courage to watch the gore taking place in the Coliseum.  Our wealthy classes intentionally deceived themselves, turned their heads away from the slaughter and the pillage.  A component used for mobile phones was discovered in Africa, and the result was tribal genocide as one side fought the other for the right to dig out the plunder.  As new mines were dug in the tropical forests, they ate gorillas and chimps and elephants.  Meanwhile the bio-tech industry was busy patenting most of the edible plant life on earth.  Indians having to pay to plant basmati rice.  Farmers in America who didn’t want to plant genetically modified crops were sued and forced to use them, even when some of the GM shit had blown into their fields accidentally.  Then there’s Indonesia.  I was there.  In Borneo.  For thirty pieces of silver they hacked down forests, slaughtered primates and practically wiped out the citizens of East Timor.  All paid for by your middle classes and their insatiable need for more and more products…”

 

“What you don’t understand, Bishop,” the Red Yank exploded, “is that the middle classes – or those who thought they were middle class – were enslaved by debt themselves.”

“And whose fault was that?” Bishop snapped.  “Mine?  Yours?  No.  Theirs.  And it’s past time they had their smug faces rubbed in the filth most of the rest of the world has to live in because of their savage selfishness.”

 

Roulla poured the boiling water into a big teapot.  “So what kind of world do you want us to inherit, Tom?  One without love?  Or forgiveness?  Or charity?”

Bishop was rolling himself a cigarette.  “What I know is that they aren’t human.  If they wanted mercy, they would have shown mercy.  These people have been internally altered.  Adjusted.  Changed.  If you show them mercy or kindness, what would they do?  What if we brought some back here to our house?  Their masters – their real masters – would use them to sow stress, anger and fear among us.  No.  I believe in redemption, too.  But only human redemption.  They aren’t human.  They can’t be.”

 

“You can’t tell me all the millions who died were inhuman,” Roulla said as she offered the teapot to Jimmy Cohen.

Cohen held his cup out.  “This is just like where we live.  Arguments about what happened, why it happened, why we survived, the meaning of it all.  The difference is this house.  Even this street.  Are some of the original residents still here?”

 

The Red Yank scratched his neck.  “Yeah, some of ’em.  Not all.  Mr Too Many Noise and his family are gone.  I don’t know what’s happened to Arsenal Joe.  He was there, but I haven’t seen him for a week or two.  I see the Horse sometimes, but not her mother.  A couple of the Breeders, Mr Turnaround.  The Ayrab is gone but Miss Fanny is still there, still doesn’t speak to us.  I think some were killed, the Smackheads.  No businessmen here.  Most of them were on the dole – you know, the dregs…”

Bishop lit his cigarette, leaned back in his chair and opened his mouth to speak.

 

+Roulla Mavromati lay on a plank in the scaffolding frame.  Her arms were strapped to metal poles.  Her legs were spread wide open.  Her ankles and knees were angled upward and beautifully tied with white rope.  Her head hung back over the edge of the plank.

Tom Bishop watched as his cock enlarged her oesophagus as he pushed forward.  When he pulled back, the oesophagus shrank.  Watching her throat swell excited him because he knew it was his cock in there.  She could not avoid it, could not resist.  At the same time, she was rendered physically incapable of crying out with pain.  He was beating her pudenda with a flat leather paddle.  It was shaven and puffy and angrily flushed.  Her body was bound too firmly for her to squirm.  That’s what he liked.  He could hear her screams begin in her throat – then he plunged forward with his hips and pushed the sound right back into her.  When he pulled back, she would suck in air before venting a shrill nasal wail.  His cock cut the sound off like a switch.  With a surge of evil satisfaction, he beat her harder.  The outer lips were swollen, engorged and heavy now.  Ram, ram, ram.  She was well beyond the gagging reflex.  Her throat was wide open.  The muscles were relaxed as she completely submitted to his savagery.

Her hair was wet and hung almost to the floor.  Her eyes were closed, too, in order that she could lick clean every drop of flaming, chilli-hot sensation from the furnace of desire.  She imagined that her tongue stuck to the glowing coals falling from the grate.  Flames spurted from her genitals right through her loins into her viscera.  As a lost, submissive soul in hell, she screamed continuously, but Beast filled her mouth and throat.  In response she tried to open even wider.  Her legs, her mouth, her being.  Few understood this about ecstasy.  It is too painful to touch for long.  It is why Ulysses asked to be lashed to the mast to hear the Sirens.  He knew the pain of desire would be impossible to withstand, but he could not resist the temptation to be driven mad by that desire.  So Roulla Mavromati found the secret that was so elusive for so many.  Real ecstasy is total.  It can’t be mimicked or manufactured or bottled.  It must be generated from the crucible of the soul.  For those who have no understanding, it can only appear to be psychosis or madness where every faggot of being is thrown into the roaring flames as the internal temperature seeks the heat at the core of the sun.

Tom Bishop struggled for breath as he came deep in Roulla Mavromati’s oesophagus.  He pushed himself as far as he could go, then further, more, deeper.  His head exploded as if it had been hit by a baseball bat.  His rubber legs couldn’t hold him any longer, and he dropped to the floor like a boneless puddle of ectoplasm.  He gasped for breath as if he were a fish slung out of the sea.  He flopped once and could not move again.  She had done it.  She had succeeded where all before failed.  She had sucked out his essence and drawn it into her, and even now it was silently dividing and sub-dividing inside her while he lay helpless on the floor.  “Dominant” and “submissive” were meaningless abstractions now.  He had been drawn into the magic world through the dark channel into the black hole where the sky as well as the firmament was wholly female.  It was a warm and damp world, but it was by no means safe.  Indeed, he must now struggle to get out, to swim back down the gripping sides of the channel to light and life.

“What do you really want from me?” he asked in a weak, almost disembodied, voice.

He had to wait for her answer, and the silence extended infinitely in the soft walls of his feminine prison.  He waited as she lay bound and supine above him.  He felt her hair dangling on his backside – like cilla gently pushing him further in, further up.

Her answer, when it came, was as heavy and deadly as the blade of a guillotine.  “Your love.”

The two words struck his heart with freezing coldness.  Like lances of ice.  The one thing that would shatter their relationship was the trauma of love.  Roulla Mavromati was not the woman Bishop could love.  He could dance with her, and they could push beyond the experimental horizons into other jelly-wobbly worlds.  He receded from her at the speed of light being sucked into a black hole.  It pulled him together.  It was her mistake.  She had him cold.  He was hers to command, forever if necessary.  Then suddenly the fantasies of lust were exploded by the illusion of love.

No,” he said.  His voice was decisive, dominant. +

No!  Never!” Bishop almost shouted.

 

The Red Yank pulled a comical face.  “You mean you disagree?”

Bishop waved the hand with the newly rolled cigarette weakly.  “No.  Sorry.  I was thinking about something else.”

 

“What do you do?” Roulla asked the visitor.  “Or rather, what did you do before the beginning of the Horror?”

Jimmy Cohen leaned back with his mug of tea.  His grey-flecked hair was thick but receding all along his head.  He was a small, compact man.  “That’s a hard question to answer.  Sorry.  To be honest, I was a layabout.  I did nothing…”

 

Everyone in the room was laughing.  Cohen joined them.  “OK, OK.  We’re birds of a feather.  Once upon a time I was a biochemist.  A research biochemist.  And to be honest, I still do chemistry.  I still love it.  I love science.  For that reason I couldn’t work.  Not in this world, you know?  Or that one.  The one we just passed through.”

Roulla shrugged.  “Why?  There must be jobs everywhere for biochemists.”

 

Cohen stood up.  “I’m dying for a slash.  I suppose there’s no chance your bog is working?”

“For piss we use the pot with a lid on it in the hallway,” the Red Yank said.  “Individual pots for shit, and I hope you brought your own if you need one.”

 

The stranger opened the flat door and found the pot outside on the landing.  He closed the door behind him, leaving it on the latch.

“Science was the consort of capitalism in the beginning and then became its bloated whore,” Cohen shouted through the closed door.  “It was always a deal with Mephistopheles, right from the beginning.”

 

He was still zipping his flies when he came back through the door.  “Why else were there so many treatments of The Damnation of Faust over those formative years?  Look at the master himself.  Isaac Newton.  At the same time he was formulating the foundations of modern physics he was investing his income in money-making colonial speculations, including the South Sea Bubble.  With one hand he discovers the laws of gravity.  With the other one he slaps the manacles on the wrists of a black slave.  One thing cannot be divided from the other!”

“Amen, brother!” the Red Yank shouted as Cohen finally sat down in his chair.  “A person is in continuity with the world.  Existence is part of the process!  Ignorance is the only innocence, and ignorance is always a self-inflicted wound…”

 

“Hallelujah, brothers and sisters!” Cohen laughed as he banged his mug on the table.  “I have loved science for as long as I can remember.  As a kid, I gobbled everything I could read or understand.  When I was a teenager, I was filled with awe at the beauty of mathematics.  It never struck me – the idea never occurred to me that science was anything else but pure!  How could it not be pure?  It was the concept of purity I loved as much as science itself.  I went to Cambridge a little too young, but I wanted to go because university was Camelot for me – the fountainhead of knowledge and wisdom…”

“So you were in for a little disappointment?” Bishop asked wryly.

 

“Oh, fuck yes!  But not while I was at Cambridge.  I mean, don’t get me wrong.  My sex life blossomed as well, I cycled the Peak District, and someone drank me under the table only once.  But I loved what I did at university.  Loved it.  Still do.  The old memories now have a sepia patina, but they are warm and real.  I continued there right through my doctorate.  I think it was during that time the disappointment began to trickle in around the portholes, you know?  Because by then I was beginning to see some of the things that were wrong.  In my research I studied the research of others…”

“Let me guess,” said the Red Yank.  “You found that the hip bone was connected to the thigh bone.  You started tracking where the money comes from, right?”

 

Cohen shrugged and opened the palms of his hands.  “OK, so I’m preaching to the converted.  But we all had to go through the process of discovery, and this was mine.  Scientific research is almost invariably expensive.  That’s the nature of it.  It has to be tested to destruction.  Big money basically comes from two places – three, if you count bequests:  the State and industry.  Two sources, but they spring from identical interests.  As an idealistic youth I thought money was just given, and research was chosen by illustrious scientists.  Wrong.  I thought the scientists themselves would never stoop to the ethical territory occupied mostly by used car dealers.  Wrong.  Worst of all, I thought facts were just plain facts.  Wrong again.  There is no such thing as ‘just plain facts,’ and we are corrupted by believing that there are.  Which is the name of the whole game.  Corruption.  Science is corrupt, and so are scientists.  It works just like addiction with nicotine or heroin.  Take the money and enjoy it, and you’ll never be able to do without the money again.  And more and more money.  Why did no one ever stop to teach me basic economics?”

“Why teach a slave that his chains are removable?  It’s so much better if he thinks they’re natural, that he’s born that way,” the Red Yank murmured in a low growl.  “Which choice did you make?  The devil or the deep blue sea?”

 

“I worked for the government finally.  Department of Agriculture.  I needed a job.  I needed some money.  Just like the junkie needing a fix.  I negotiated what seemed to be a fine, open-ended agreement, and the laboratory I was working at was state-of-the-art, as they say.  In other words there was time to initiate my own projects with plenty of staff, equipment and funding.”

Jimmy Cohen stopped and sucked in his lower lip.  “Now I assume all of you have heard of bovine spongiform encephalitis?  BSE?  And variant Creutz-Jacobs Disease supposedly caused by the human consumption of neural tissue from infected cattle?  Yes, well, my attention was drawn to the phenomena during the late 1980s.  To say I was interested and excited would be putting too mild a spin on it.  Research into BSE and the supposed crossover into human beings was part of my natural remit.  The money, the gear was there, the staff, the energy.”

 

He paused again to frown.  “Let me try and be brief by saying it became rather quickly clear to my team that there was no causal epidemiological link between BSE and vCJD.  Let me also modestly add that we were not the only ones working on the problem to reach this conclusion.  All the statistical analysis was consistently pointing to other factors.  But these other factors were like repelling magnets.  As we moved towards them, they would move away by the same distance.  We were incredibly frustrated, particularly as we believed we were on the point of a major breakthrough.  Our studies revealed that BSE in cattle and vCJD in human beings were certainly related, namely that both species were ingesting similar poisons.  The real causal agent?  Organo-phosphates combined with two other derivative modern chemicals used to control diseases in crops.  Everywhere this combination of chemicals was used by farmers became a hotspot for BSE.  And vCJD.  Everything matched up.  We were over the moon, confident we had solved a big and expensive mystery, you know?  Wrong.  But I was on the point of receiving the economic education I didn’t then know I needed.”

Cohen finished his tea with a single gulp.  “Now it’s so clear that I feel stupid in retrospect, you know?  I look back and see a really naïve, earnest young man who thought he knew it all and knew nothing.”

 

“I think we can all identify with that,” Roulla Mavromati laughed.

“You see, kind friends, the relevant civil servants in the Agriculture ministry already knew vCJD was not passed on through the neural tissues of cattle.  They also knew what did cause it…”

 

“But that was a big operation,” the Red Yank protested.  “I remember it.  Thousands and thousands of cattle and sheep slaughtered, burned, whatever…all over Europe…”

“Precisely.  But we were only the Ministry of Agriculture, and you were only the citizens.  We’re talking Big Time here.  We’re talking major global companies.   I am now quite sure our civil servants and politicians were taken aside and told the facts of life.  Just like in the movies when the Mafia don tells you that you can put your signature or your brains on the contract – free world, free choice…”

 

Freemocracy!  Freemocracy!

“Who’s that?” Cohen said in alarm.

 

“That’s Louie,” the Red Yank chuckled.  “My parrot.  You must have woken him up.  He gets off on words like freedom and democracy…”

Freemocracy!  Freemocracy!  Stupid fucker!

 

“A parrot?” Cohen asked.  “Great.  Can I see him?”

“Finish your story,” Bishop said with a laugh.  “By that time Louie should have heard your voice enough to take the piss.”

“Right.  OK.  Finish the story.  The civil servants – my bosses, plummy voices, public school, impeccable manners – take me aside and explain the facts of life.  They tell me to forget what science tells me about causal agents, you know?  The truth is that variant vCJD in humans is caused by BSE.  Got it?  Well, my jaw drops down like a comic cartoon figure.  I splutter like a soda siphon.  I tell these goons I cannot possibly falsify my research figures.  In righteous anger I furthermore inform them that I will go public, their reputations will be blackened, they will lose their jobs…  Well, woah, hold on there, boy.  These guys figuratively grab my coat lapels and shove me against the wall as they inform me about the facts of life.  I will go back to my laboratory, they say, and I will give them the results they want.  If I don’t, they’ll fire me right then and there.  In addition the small print of my contract says that my work is covered by the Official Secrets Act, so if I try and publish, I will spend the rest of my life in prison.  I’m in shock, complete shock, you know?  But at that very moment, the scales fall from my eyes.  Oh, ho, it all starts to fit into place now.  I mean, science is not science.  It sucks cock.”

“Satan’s cock,” Bishop said.

 

“Yes, right.  Big Time cock.  Monsanto cock.  Monsanto wants certain results, so science makes certain they get those results.  Look, these huge companies have diversified like roaches.  They’re everywhere.  They make sure we get certain kinds of governments in this and all the other industrial countries.  They buy the governments, and they buy the science.  They’re linked in with the mega media, they advertise in newspapers, they make movies and TV and commercials, they’re into banking, the World Bank, the WTO.  Citizens, farmers, civil servants, ministries, governments – none of them are jack shit.  When one of these guys in his black shirt, white tie, cigar and fedora talks to your prime minister or your president, he listens.  Otherwise he will find money evaporates quicker than spit in the desert.  Investment, campaign and party donations, industries employing thousands – they all go.  Every editorial in every paper turns against you.  Every news report on the TV is bad news.  That is, if you don’t listen.  But no, you do listen, because you’re smart, you know?  So, after you’ve listened in silence to what you are going to do, you have the choice of whether or not you sign the contract.  Crime pays.  It is the only thing that pays.”

Jimmy Cohen grinned and spread his arms wide.  “End of story.  End of career.  I quit.  Walked out and haven’t been employed in a scientific laboratory since.  I’ve hardly worked at all since then.  I broke the habit all by myself, cold turkey.  I don’t need that kind of money.  Or that kind of world.  Or that game.  Or that species, if that’s what it is.  Which is one of the reasons I appeared at the barricades.  I wanted to see it all happening, to make sure the nails really were going into the coffin.”

 

The Red Yank got up, stretched and re-filled the kettle from a bottle on the kitchen floor.  “Well, Jimmy, I personally think science has become like a medieval priesthood.  You’ve got to try and look at reality a whole lot differently.  State religion never was really religion.  Nothing to do with religion.  Religion – whether Christianity, Islam or Judaism or whatever – when it’s used by the State, it has no relationship to the purpose for which it was established in the first place.  The State just uses a convenient and spurious moral hammer to nail down its authority.  Seems to me it’s the same with science.  Whatever the loftiness of its origins, science is certain to be the organ grinder’s monkey with a rope around its neck.  Hell, I know scientists were wheeled out like medieval priests to give sonorous blessings to any lies drummed up by the State.  Those who pay the piper call the tune.  I think most of us knew BSE was some kind of swindle, covered up and distorted by the State for their client companies – and at the expense of their citizens’ health and lives…”

He threw the old tea leaves out of the pot and gave it a rinse.  “I’m old enough to remember the so-called scientists defending tobacco manufacturers.”

 

He threw in some fresh tea and poured the boiling water into the pot.  “So it’s a fine thing to meet one of you guys who had the guts to say ‘no’.  Welcome to the Ghost Society.”

“The Ghost Society?” Cohen asked with a raised eyebrow.

 

“Let’s start trying to find out exactly what freedom really is…”

Freemocracy!  Freemocracy!” Louie screamed from the other room.  “Wankers!

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