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The Other Bombs by R.S.W de Mox


Verse 1

“Come along, come along,” said the first 'louseman.

“Get down on your knees,” said the second.

Derek dropped and conceived of the cecet've bomb.

He had cycled through the Greentime foot tunnel and had carried his pedal bike up the stairs, remounted in the atrium and set off north when he'd been stopped and dropped by two 'lousemen. In accordance with regulations, one of them had been a nice 'louseman and the other had been nasty.

Nice had held out his palm inviting Derek to stop, but when Derek had been a fraction of a second late on hitting the brakes Nasty had knocked him down with his e-baton and trodden on his wheels so that they buckled and bent. Nice told him that he had cycled through the tunnel when the signpost had expressly said “No Cycling.” Nasty said that they had watched him do it on the cecet've camera.

Derek said that was not a reason to drop him off his pedal bike and buckle the wheels but both 'lousemen just laughed and hauled him to his feet roughly together, which Derek had not expected of Nice, and then dropped him again when Derek asked why they didn't go catch some proper criminals.

It was a moot point, there were few criminals more proper than cycling offencers these days. Once the cecet've cameras had got smart enough to look inside a hood and baseball cap the crime rate had begun to freefall. That didn't lead to fewer criminal minded men, just to criminals getting caught more and more often for less and less. Prisons branched out, they instigated community connection projects like library monitoring, hospital visits, and eventually opened their own Free Schools. “Consistency of care,” they termed it.

When the cameras got so good they could look inside a soul—by the double refraction of the quantum wave, they said; and maybe praying to the God Particle, too—analysts celebrated that society could be said to be truly happy. Expectations evolved. Uploading, mega-uploading, giga-terabiting, and booked-out twitting changed. Journalists identified and published every story that could be published in the public interest until positions of responsibility went unfilled because not enough people could prove they were responsible enough.

This was not a problem as the interlinked network and cecet've onlines became the all-seeing ay and everything that could be needed to be done got done remotely by a small group of well-to-dos. The rest of the city just settled down to professional leisure pursuits. Hobbies like shopping, passing time in cafés, and contemporary arts eventually became paid work and downtime became rare. Bright breezy urban living solutions sprouted like mushrooms until the sun was eclipsed at pavement level and only electro-artsy types south of the river lived in kooky abandoned industrial squats and invented stories referencing unrecalled times of youth.

Derek lived in a disused power station. He was not a youth now, but not old either. Sometime ago people would say that a man of that age was in the prime of his life but nowadays it seemed more like the age for the mind to reflect and lament on wasted opportunities and watch as the younger men reached past you up the social and professional tree; they then made the decisions about employment and effects on you, while all the time one's own life would slide round and round circles, not gripping at the bottom of the bark. The inner voice would grow and go on like a sports commentary picking out foibles, errors and missed critical considerations, grinding inside like a stone pestling deep on the pineal gland, until the third eye just calcified into powder and self-hating pain.

Many never made it past this age, swiping a last oyster journey weighed down by rocks into the Thames, or burning mandrake and zanbar pills of self-destruction down crack pipe alley, heart skipping like a stone to then stop and with a last splash sink, fluttering forgotten amongst the cardboard and paper, carrion for the foxes, stray cats and parakeets. Those who did survive had to find a way to.

The cecet've didn't only take pictures and evidence. Staring at the sea cannot change a wave, but look long enough at a man and he becomes different; look into his soul—on every road crossing and street corner, in every shop, on every bus—and he can't hold back his inner voice, and the whispering works from his mind to his face. Grimace and carry-lines of etched deep worry and tension splay about and eventually he can't take any more.

Some have it that some men are just badmen, but others would shake their heads and say that, no, every man's got voices. Some say that badmen should be punished and punished until they can control the bad, but then the same men never say how one would be supposed to do that. Still others say that everything went too far, and they yearn for a life of times gone by. But then they never put their finger on what it is that they need to change or where it is they're trying to go.

Derek was a positive man, he had learned to control his bad, he knew how to make the inner voice go and rest a while. Resigned to the changes that swept firelike through society he had learnt to hold his head and at night he switched off his inner voice and took his mind round to different parts of his body, nourishing in a technique he found out long ago that never appeared in common knowledge or the mega-uploads, and so didn't really exist. It was perhaps because of this meditative nourishment that he was able without realising to slowly replace what the cecet've camera had taken from him, and so was able to heal his hurts.

He worked at a café in Trendyshore Ditch where he brewed and formed rich delicate cups of dark vitalic fluid for the mixed clientèle of rich entrepreneurs and leftvision rosehips. He was very good at it; it was a task for one with a stoic, patient asking; he would crouch down low, murmuring to his machine as though he were boyloving it; tuning screws, cleaning pipework and polishing chrome. People came back time and again for the syrupy camphors he drew tenderly from the antique-retro device.

He had found it as a wreck himself, sitting rusting and milder, cobwebbed and pieced apart in an outhouse of smoke ends down the yard at back of the café premises. His boylover Jive was as good with machines as Derek was at designs so he'd taken it home in pieces to the basement of the power station and worked through how those might function and how they might put the device together again.

The project had drawn them together; when they matched talent for talent they elevated one another. Although together for many years they had been drifting apart, and the project had given them a renewed understanding and needing for one another as week by week the great machine had been built back up to glory. Jive had proudly attended its launch and had shared the second cup with Derek after the café owner had had his first press. There had been cheering and much bunting. Now the café could boast the best coffee anywhere in the city; Derek was a local hero of sorts. Jive—who worked as a bum—felt that his role in actually putting the thing together had been largely overlooked.

There was no coffee today. The only dark fluid was the blood as it wept a little lightly from Derek's face and mixed with tears. The nasty 'lousemen men had laughed at Derek crying and said how good it looked for him. The nice 'louseman said there there's and equivalents, but Derek cried any way; for injustice, a deeper hurt and he felt like a little boy told a wrong by an older they can do nothing about other than clench little angry fists and pout indignant. Sick, he felt, sick and hungry like poor ill animal with nothing to do but snarl around.

Then Derek saw an immense, portentous, loaded moment in time. The nice 'louseman knelt down close to Derek's ear. He was so close that his lips might just have brushed and maybe even felt like lingering there for a tiniest moment. He only asked Derek who he was, but he did it so softly that Derek found himself falling into a trance. Their eyes were close enough that mucus films might have drawn in hydrostatic vortices between their corneas. He had blonde hair and pink lips. He smelled of elder. Derek breathed it in.

His head was spinning. His meditation called him deep, away from the situation. He realised how much the cecet've camera had taken from him, and he reeled, before a flash of inspiration came to him. He saw all at once how he could reconfigure the frequencies back through the all-seeing ay and black out the naked war of watching; he saw blueprinted up parchment of designs; he saw Jive tinkering in the workshop on the base of the disused power station under the darker, shadowy towers; and he saw lights and trees, an ocean and sands of endless sands and in the vision he saw dancers and beats and coiling curls of smoke, and freedom, dumbfounded olders and youngers shaking like the aura takers been and taken and he knew then as he returned breathless to the pavement that a cecet've bomb would be the rescue he'd been searching for all his life long. It would free him, it would free Jive. It would free all the trodden-down and life-licked poor souls whose auras were traded like hedges on the markets of the all-seeing ay.

Derek's meditation ended, the 'louseman was still right there. He asked again who he was, softly, in Derek's ear, but he never got a response: Derek's return was too far from his vision of truth and revelation, and he saw how he'd been holding back when he should have opened and shared; taken lying down what he should have stood up and kicked; breathed and tinkered away what he should have forged his sword against to slice hack chop decimate through the shit-piss lies of a hegemonic fund.

He looked up found the eyes of the 'louseman gone, replaced by his colleague—nasty. Nasty looked down from above, he span away back upwards like the shadow reverse of roots and spat down to Derek, “Answer him, or you're fucking nicked.”


Verse 2

“Dim light has made us blind to the stars.”

“Love you too. Damn, what happened?”

Jive was jiving in the basement of the disused power station to some lickity tunes he'd found on an old Yousbee storage from back before everything had been mega-uploaded to the all knowing cloud. Jive had found the dirty old device, a three geigerbyting ring tag, in the garbage when he was bumming around the week before and had brought it home to repair. Jive was a bum. It wasn't the highest level of jobs but he was well peaceful and resigned to it. His ambition had been for a little more, but he could repair and build with his hands much better than he could control his tongue and temper, which had developed into situations with 'lousemen outside of school, which eventually led to a transfer to an outreach prison free school.

To his credit, he made the best of a bad, and got his tinkering and making qualifications whilst he was there, but he was assigned to being a bum, so that's what he did. It was his responsibility to keep a watch on the street and lend a dose of altruistic feeling to the rich entrepreneurs if they so wanted; or, just shuffle round the street debris a bit before the cleaners could come and sweep it away. His watch consisted of looking at who was about and reporting any suspicious thing to 'lousemen if they were around. Although Jive tended, himself, to bum out in places where 'lousemen were less likely to go, just so that he avoided awkward confrontation. This did make the pickings less wide given; bur, for the peace of time it afforded Jive to sit and stew on the injustice of it all, it suited him fine. He didn't have the same stoic defences as Derek, he found it harder to meditate, haunted by lists and whispers. He tried to keep them down, to cut off and starve the anger, but that only made it come back savage.

Once Derek had been walking in Greentime which park and he had seen a man sitting in the dark watching the deer on a back path in one of the few places not under cecet've surveillance. Derek passed him the time of night and carried on his way. Near the entrance at top of the Maze he was passed by two 'lousemen in a car who asked him if he'd seen a man. Before thinking, Derek had told them and the 'lousemen drove off.

The next thing he know the helicopter was coming overhead and the spotlights all spotting and the mobile cecet've camera being driven in and there were screams, ordeals and madness. When Derek had shuffled down the hill to the disused power station, he told Jive what had happened and how he felt ashamed. Instead of giving Derek the loving he needed that night, Jive flew into a rage; all the pain of his losses to the law boiled over and he poured scald on Derek's more innocent experience.

Derek didn't take it lain down and all kinds of shit ended being fronted and backed about how being a bum wasn't a proper job and Derek having to cycle to Trendyshore Ditch all days to keep them in food in the basement. Fortunately, soon enough, Derek found the coffee machine and they had a big project to ease them together a while longer. But when that was all over and the coffee shop owner took it back with no recognition of the work Jive had put into it, least of all carrying the thing from Greentime to Trendyshore, old tensions began to fizz back up.

They never took time any more to meditate together like they used to when they first found one another; to have little joys of breathe together or just to chat about little nonsense things together. Jive began to think that years and years was long enough for one boylover. He was angry and molten rock and Derek was all peace and flowers.

He was mulling this over when Derek himself burst in early, covered in blood and announced that dim light was affecting the stars. He was alive, more alive and more beautiful than Jive had seen in a long time; he was breathless and agitated for Derek. Jive asked him what he meant, but Derek said nothing, he simply reached for a blunt pencil, sharpened it on a bread knife, and began to draw.

Jive saw emerging the most glorious design for a machinery that he ever saw. Golden threads of ideas coalesced and fused into and out of one another across the paper and Jive could see exactly what Derek meant. Jive was itching now; he must know.

Derek announced that this—was the cecet've bomb. And he was convinced that it was going to change the world. Jive looked on in amazement and love, he leaned over, turned the lickety tunes up to eleven and reached for his spanner.



Verse 3

“Empty out your mind.”

“Costly, useless tools.”

Watch Jive and Derek work. So much at first seems as gibberish, but they are in a different tense.

They occupy the here and now when they do this; they've got a tantric dance. It's an understanding; Derek has ideas and Jive has skills. It's so much more than brain and brawn as to be Shiva and Shukti: breath and rest; syncopation of the matter and the mind;—the within and without; the path with the place.

Derek bubbles blueprints on every medium he can lay to hand; paper, parchment, puter and presents his ideas in gesticulation and mudra.

Jive enacts actions. He tinkers and tickles and trusses; screws and bimetallic clunk switch formulations of quantum circuitry, before he feeds back to Derek a problem and, Derek scribbling more and refibulating the tweetering gyroplausibilities and Jive polishing, fitting, embedding and belonging, creative actualization of partially imaginatoration; without knowing it, they are breathing together, in and out, and resting on the pause at exhale and at the pause at inhale; between where they connect to themselves and where they connect to the universe.

The machine begins to assemble. It looms into the future even as it lies, inert in the basement, like a tomorrow-shadow cast of a not-yet reaching hand. It beckons across ages, luring yet arresting and then pointing, but pointing to something unseen, even then. It lies in four parts, each a device in itself. Waiting cold to be assembled.

Later in the night, Derek has an arresting thought. He thinks about the consequences. He thinks about it as he thinks about the mantra I Am.

When he thinks I Am over and over in a rhythm in his head he waits a number of times and then rocks backwards from the end of Am to the space between the Am and the preceding I. In this space between words, he finds a meditation.

He is sat upstairs at the disused power station, on the gantry where the coal used to be unloaded. He has a view of all the 'louseman boats speeding up and down the river, and the numerous cable cars carrying the better off well-to-dos and their vehicles to the North and back, not prepared to ride underground in the foot tunnels or Black Walls in case of becoming too proximous to the populace. The richest of all just go round and round on the big wheel, they being too rich to have anything to do or anywhere to go anyway.

Derek zones out there and meditates; he has been working all night in the heart of the power station. As he meditates, all legs crossed and shanti om-like, rocking back from Am to I and focussed on his own breath only, a place picture drops into his head, it is a picture of the city without the all-seeing ay, without the 'lousemen or the cecet've soul drag. A picture of all control lifted, and nothing but peoples in charge; it is the city after the other bombs.

At first this seems to Derek what he'd always wanted: freedom, dignity, self-control, and equality. Then he realises that this romantic aspiration has a reality behind it that, far from milk and honey is, instead, violence and blood spill; where brotherly love is really masquerading rape and brutality, theft, destruction; boylover axed from boylover and evils intenting; fires raging from Trendyshore Ditch to The Oh, Too (formally Peckham); a sickly, cloying feel of death about, and he and Jive separated lost forever from one another.

Derek shivers, he climbs back down the gantry and into the doorway, reconnecting with the space of their labour. There Jive is sleeping, spanner still in hand. He is smiling and has a thick pool of saliva soaking into his sleeve at the wrist. In front of him on the table are the four main components of the cecet've bomb, tinkered and engineered; ready to assemble into a rucksack; fruit of Derek and Jive's love, how can he deny his boylover this, that was so energizing to him when it his own idea? How can he smash the article of their love?

Derek slips back into his mind once more and waits ten breaths. When he comes free again he knows what to do, he knows how to let Jive carry out their plans yet limit the harm, how to let Jive start and remove the anger from his subtle body; how they can leave, make away for somewhere new; grow coffee and sheep. Just let Jive be released a little bit, then stop before any real harm's done.

He adds a new page of designs to the pile spilling off the workbench onto the floor. He checks and rechecks his calibrations. Then he eases the spanner from Jive's grip, pulls up a few holed dog blankets and rolls Jive over off the chair delicately so that they are entwined peacefully together on the floor

In Jive's sleep he dreams, and in his dream he rides three buses at the same time but driving in different directions. Derek breathes until he is asleep too, and in his dream he has nothing but the eternal and infinite.


Verse 4

“Ask the gods to forgive us if they please.”

There was a big big Giga-Market in Oh, Too (Formally Peckham); thousands of people went there for their mollifications and lifestyles on a daily basis. It was a maze inside a maze inside a great glass pyramid. People could walk for days trying to find a specific item or spend seconds choosing something they never thought they'd want. Each turn and corner brought a new surprise in packaged precooked delight, every nook and sausage was covered by the all-seeing ay. Monotone announcements called for Josh to attend veg; an oldster in his pork-pie hat folded and unfolded a shopping trolley.

Derek had come with Jive but he was feeling on edge. “Quick quick,” he'd tell to him because he knew the 'lousemen would be there, monitoring. He had a headache; all the thinking and planning had affected his head-spacing, no chance to cool back and press the reset meditate. Jive just bundled forwards, a man convinced of himself. Derek had to take on full responsibility; it had been his idea and motivation and design to build the cecet've bomb, but now it was time to unleash it he was worried: what about his contrasting visions?

Jive had not been suspicious when he saw the added sheet; he accepted Derek's explanation. But Derek didn't have a certain idea that the modification would work anyway.

Deeper he doubted that the whole thing would work in the first place. Life had again put him on a terminator; in the liminal space; an unknown daybreak; night to his left and dawn to the right. How could anyone in such a situation ever be able to accept calmly the relinquishing of control it brought. He struggled to recall his breath.

He itched at every passing man like he was some sort of secret 'louseman. Who ever had the crazy idea that such thing as a secret, hidden 'louseman might exist anyway?

They moved deep inside finding a quiet aisle where no one would observe them putting down them rucksack.

Setting the contrabulance was easy. So easy that they both worried that it might not have activated. There was no light, no message, just the dull thunk of a bridge swinging into brass clasp.

Derek and Jive walked fast paced away, as nonchalant as they could with hearts fizzing like detonate cord. They had minutes. Left at the first protein shake aisle, straight down to the yoghurt quarter, through over to the exit by the car wax vestibule. They strode fast, too fast.

There were crowds of people and some of them were undoubtedly looking; a sub-dept manager caught a glance right at them. Derek's heart was more than fizzing; it was detonate gone, blue-touch smouldered out, button downed and gear in. The sub-dept advanced to stop them, his eyes were glassy and steel, like bars on windows. Derek was caught. He had no way past without shoving.

No, no, no they got to go, he had one last ounce of calm extrude, to self contain and hide his terror. Jive pinwheeled round as Derek froze, rictus. The sub-dept scanned him.

“Would you like to take a raincheck on a special-everyday offer for one essential-value label?”

Derek's jaw hawsered up and down; he couldn't speak; he shocked. Jive grabbed him away from the sub-dept and shook his head on Derek's behalf, then as the sub-dept turned round to try him, Jive pulled Derek backwards through the revolving tridents at the exit and out into the superior atrium where they could see the dappled light from the frosted glass ceiling apex twinkling like brown dwarfs off the shards of the public art installation.

Light, breathe, freedom. Derek staggered in a daze, Jive led him hand still on shoulder out to safety.

Just as they had crossed the one sixteenth acre welcome mat, and the huge electric doors had begun to slide open for their release, the bomb went off.

#

One of the principal differences between Derek and Jive, outside of the life callings assigned to them by a society, was that Derek aspired to a clear mind, whilst Jive needed to stay busy in head to stave off the madness of boredom.

Jive tried to elevate his thoughts to the stars whilst Derek tried to pour his thoughts into the inky blackness of deepest dark wells; Jive wanted better for himself and the world and set out to try to achieve that through achievement as well as a bum could. Derek wanted the same but tried to achieve it by letting go of any notion that good or bad or indeed any other difference existed outside of the mind. Jive wanted to dream more, Derek wanted to dream less.

#

The very moment the bomb was detonated there was the most imperceptible pause; a fleeting fracture in all that was. Jive felt it as a clearing of invisible barriers far, far above his head; Derek felt it as a space beneath. To both it scanned past so fast that it left only the slightest suggestion in sensory memory; to others around them, it was nothing more than the static crack of a powerline, inducting in the wind. Life proceeded; the monotone announcements requiring Josh on veg; the old man bent forwards assembling his tartan shopping trolley as his pork-pie slipped forwards to be pushed back; the sub-dept by the inner-exit handing out tokens.

Imperceptibly, though, a drift began. So, so slow at first: like a moon having potential just shaved on reaching apogee so that, for the first degrees back the pathway couldn't said to have shifted, but then gradually building, inertia challenged, unstoppable to come crashing destructive hundreds of thousand kilometres adrift of perigee snaring death across half a world, like a child slipping hand and walking side by side but steps and steps away until looking up finding parent lost; like hope catching up with the dawn only to scuttle away on daybreak.

The only tangible sign those first moments was the blinking death of the red LED on the front portal of all the cecet've cameras as they shut down across the gigastore.

The all-seeing ay stopped seeing shit. Soul-drag stopped. The skeining of reality lost its tension, so that as much unravelling as tightening allowed new patterns to begin to be possible. Spacecraft drifting beyonded the heliopause and losing solar-wind redaction began to gain and gain momentum. Becoming began. The dry, dead weight of tonnes and tonnes of nothingness lifted from the shoulders of thousands of people within the great store. Opportunities began to present. Things and little things began to happen.

#

It started by the sign for exotic vegetables, where the carrots could be found. A young man in a purple t-shirt slewing his trolley to the side. Soon he was leaning on it, like his feet were freed pushing round and round anticlockwise. Faster and faster he span and was joined by a coriolis ensemble of synced spinning trolleys. Undercover store 'lousemen reached for their pistols but suddenly discovered that they'd come without them, or their badges.

Shoppers began to look at their baskets and trolleys with new eyes; do I really need that all? They began reaching and putting things back on the shelves! Too much packaging; back it goes. Too many for one; back it goes. Shelf stackers tried to intervene but found their training merely facilitated the process.

The queue at the checkout began to break down into a fluidity; signs for order and specified numbers of items began to be ignored. People began to converse with the electronic voices of the checkout machines, asking them how their day was, what time they were getting off shift, and whether they were looking forward to the weekend. Up and down the canned food section a surfing competition began spontaneously, people taking up runs and charging as far as the tomatoes before leaping aboard their trolleys and throwing their weight to steer around the corner, snaking the baguettes and cushioned crash landing amongst the bakery presliced.

Perhaps most shocking for the workers and 'lousemen were the conversations that sprung up between grown-men, strangers to one another, brazenly discussing meaningful things and fears hopes and dreams. Not just talking, but listening! Where people were looking for the right change and seeing their bills and having to decide what to leave behind, others were offering money, lending, giving, saying whatever, whenever, only if you can, no big ones.

The door marked “No Entry” with the flapping plastic curtain sections was breached and shoppers were milling about there too, checking out the stacked boxes and planting seeds and turf in the caverns of the lorries which lay open at the great yawning bay doors from which flowers and fruits burst forth.

In the main auditorium someone had collected all the cleary sage, opium lettuce and eucalyptus essential oils and had lit a sacred fire filling the glass pyramid with pungent mystical fumes which lolled and rolled and buffeted ecstasies to those below.

Smoke from the barbecues lit in the garden-ware section sizzled with scents vegetable kebabs and tofu burgers from the deli and bottles and cans were cracked by aproned chefs, all loitering advising and skylarking.

At the music section the syncopated beats of living music and funky tunes pounded as darkness fell on the great store.

Clothed from the wears section the tribe settled in a tented enclave liberated from seasonal displays of one-mans, two-mans, family and gazebos, sending out foraging missions and raids for dip, crudités, whiskey, and cigarettes, and stretched long into the gathering night. The mystics danced beneath the pyramid to their own in-head drummings, a great man sat with flowing white beard and rounded spectacles, reverberating poetic beats to a crowd of acolytes at his feet, boylovers whispered and rolled together amongst strewn ready meal wrappers then drifted together into the most profound sleeps and lives.

The unceasing shop alarm screamed and screamed, but it was utterly utterly lost to the depths of the silence.

Back home, on the gantry of the disused power station, Jive and Derek sat naked opposite one another, swaddled in dog-eared blankets; left palm to left palm, right palm each on heart, they breathed together and slowly; they watched for the rise and fall of their chests together; they held searching looks deep into the vetreo of their non-dominant eyes together; they rotated their consciousness round their own bodies, then round one another's body, then round the bodies of the whole world; they flew in their collective consciousness to long-gone away stars and galaxies and felt the ecstasies of interconnectedness.

Then they climbed downstairs to lie together on the damp grassy wasteland on the edge of the river and held one another in love, as they had been extolled; down on their knees and seeing with their own hands the Earth they stood on top of.


R.S.W. de Mox grew up in Lancashire and is now based in south London. He writes contemporary fiction with a strong lyrical bent, hip-hop poetry, and electronica prose. He has been published by Lighthouse Magazine and Flash Fiction Magazine, and has work forthcoming in Litro Journal. Website: demoxwriting.weebly.com. Twitter: @RSWdeMox