Entertainment – The Calling Pill

While our new Prime Monster is busy installing his cabinet of all the talentless (really not much different from any other in recent times), let’s have a story to take your mind off it all.

This one is in ‘The Hole in the Veil‘, and it’s a bit early for Halloween but there’s a lot going on here at the moment and I might not have time on actual Halloween. So, here’s an early spooky treat 🙂

The Calling Pill

Mortimer sat on the edge of his hospital bed. The new medication didn’t seem to do much, he’d had three doses and his chest still hurt like hell. Still, he supposed Dr. Blackthorn knew what he was doing.

A movement, quick and dark, seen from the corner of his eye, made him turn his head. There was nothing. There never is. I’m imagining things. Probably from being cooped up here.

Another movement. Mortimer ignored it. And another. He clenched his teeth, determined to ignore these silly hallucinations. Then the sounds started.

Whispered words. Faint laughter. They seemed to come from all around him. This is new. I haven’t hallucinated sounds before.

Most likely it was some passing nurses, out in the corridor, their conversation faintly echoed from the stark bare walls of the room. Mortimer raised his eyes to the ceiling as he stretched his neck.

Something dark and indistinct stared down at him. Mortimer blinked. It must be a shadow – but how does a shadow have eyes? The shadow moved across the ceiling, then more of the shapeless black things appeared. Deep black eyes stared at him from shifting, formless bodies.

The shadows opened mouths filled with needle sharp grey teeth. Mortimer clutched at his chest, his already damaged heart racing. The whispering started again, this time accompanied by an occasional cackle or a hiss.

Mortimer tried to cry out, but the pain in his chest made even breathing difficult. He had no voice beyond a weak croak. The shadows detached from the ceiling, sprouted ragged wings and flew at him.

Mortimer thrashed at the creatures, trying to get enough breath to shout for help. His chest constricted in agony, the pain shot along his flailing arms and into his head.

Around him, the shadows circled in the air, whispering and chuckling. They swooped at him, never quite making contact, but close enough that he could smell their sewer breath.

His pulse pounding in his forehead, Mortimer stood and tried to get to the door. If he could get into the corridor there might be someone who could help. The shadows flew faster and faster around him, confusing his already blurred vision.

He sank to his knees, tears streaming down his face. His arms continued flailing around but more slowly. They felt like they were filled with lead and pain. The whispering grew louder although he could make out no words. Shadows took turns to swoop at his face and hiss, their teeth snapping shut just short of biting into his skin.

All Mortimer wanted at that moment was an end to this torment, and his heart provided just that. Stretched beyond its breaking point, it gave up and stopped beating. Mortimer fell onto his face, eyes open and drying in the dehumidified hospital air. Just before his brain shut down, he watched the shadows scramble at his face, desperate to inhale his dying breath. The silent darkness forming in his vision felt like one last blessed relief.

***

Doctor Ignatius Blackthorn popped open his cigarette case, took one out, lit it and took a long slow draw. He blew blue smoke into the air and addressed his audience of four.

“Well, gentlemen,” he said, “I think that was a quite convincing demonstration, don’t you agree?”

Three of the men opposite nodded their agreement. The fourth looked quite pale. That fourth man, Edward Thackeray, rubbed his hand over his face before speaking.

“It seems a somewhat inhumane way of killing someone. Is it ethical?”

Blackthorn could have snorted in derision but he maintained his outward calm. “Killing people at random can hardly be described as ethical, now can it? And that’s what we are discussing here. Besides, hidden cameras in hospital room breaks the ethics code right from the start.”

Thackeray ducked his head. “Of course, but it doesn’t really have to be so brutal, does it?”

“Well,” Blackthorn rubbed his chin. “It does look pretty brutal, but when they are found we want it to look like a heart attack. The drugs weaken the heart first, then the, ah, hallucinations induce the attack. They are found dead but there are no marks on the body to suggest foul play.”

Another man, Jeff Simmonds, raised his hand. “What was he seeing? We saw him thrashing around before he died but we couldn’t see what he was fighting against.”

Blackthorn ran his tongue over his lips and took a quick puff of his cigarette. “Hallucinations, brought on by the medication I gave him. Nothing for anyone else to worry about.”

“Indeed.” Samuel Vandt held a sceptical look. “We are aware of your interests in things that might not be properly termed ‘modern science’, Dr. Blackthorn.” He held up his hand. “Notwithstanding that, my question concerns the medication. If it is given in a pill form does it not eventually – ah – drop out of the other end, so to speak?”

“No.” Blackthorn took one last drag and stubbed out his cigarette in what appeared to the others to be a fake skull cap. “The contents of the pill are absorbed into the bloodstream where they assemble into the device required to produce the effect we desire. The effect can then be triggered by merely pushing a button and since pretty much everywhere is connected to the Internet now, that button can be pressed on the other side of the world.” He grinned. “You can take out one person or thousands at one press. As long as they have taken the medication.”

“And if they haven’t?” Tyler Ross spoke up. “How do we get the masses to take this stuff, and what do we do about those who refuse? There are going to be some.”

“Oh I’m sure there’ll be many.” Blackthorn sat back in his well-padded chair. “It won’t matter. It’ll eventually be in their food and their water. They won’t even know they had it.”

“But not ours, I hope?” Samuel Vandt narrowed his eyes.

“Of course not.” Blackthorn grinned. “Even if it was, you’d still need to press the call button to trigger the… effect.”

“I think we’ve seen enough.” Simmonds rose and buttoned his jacket. “You will of course furnish us with the necessary codes to target this weapon, and the means to trigger it?”

Blackthorn’s grin widened. “As soon as the balance of the payment hits my bank account. You will find it a very easy weapon to operate, so you will be able to remove any, ah, obstacles to your plans without arousing any suspicion at all.” He raised one finger. “As long as your subjects are not in public, or on any kind of camera, when you press the button. You really don’t want film of how they die making its way onto the internet.”

“Hell no.” Thackeray shuddered. “I don’t even want to see it myself. Better to just imagine that pressing the button turns them off.”

“That’s best. We don’t want anyone getting suspicious.” Vandt reached out to shake Blackthorn’s hand. “You’ll have the money by close of business today. When can we expect our deliveries?”

“They’ll arrive by private courier within moments of payment. I won’t be leaving any paper or digital trail, you understand.” Blackthorn shook the man’s hand. “Also, as long as nothing goes wrong – and it won’t – this is the last time we’ll meet in person. Goodbye, gentlemen, and I wish you well in your endeavours to create your brave new world.”

***

Alone in his office, Blackthorn considered his cigarette case. It was maybe too soon for another dose of his special blend, but what the hell. He had cause to celebrate. He reached for the case.

A shadow covered his hand. Dark eyes, black in black, stared at him. Grey pointed teeth smiled.

Blackthorn sighed and withdrew his hand. “You are right, of course. Too much can be bad for me.”

The shadow chittered. Blackthorn smiled. “Oh, don’t worry, my little incorporeal friend. You and your family will soon feast and grow. They will call you to those they think oppose them, and you will taste the final air to leave their lungs. There will be so very many.” He closed his eyes and sighed. “So very many. Those men think they will own the world. They think I’ve just sold it to them but they simply cannot grasp that their money is of no relevance here. It’s just part of the game. As long as people think it’s all about the money, they’ll never think to look for any other motive.”

The shadow chittered again. Blackthorn opened his eyes and ran his hand over the black-smoke wisps of its being. He smiled as the shadow curled around his fingers.

“You will grow stronger and bigger, and one day you will rival Baal’s Harab-Serapel. You will be glorious and powerful and nothing will ever be able to stop you. Moloch is going to be delighted with our work.”

The shadow purred.

Blackthorn took a deep breath. “Those men think they will rule the world. When they have done their part, you and your brothers will feast on their last breaths too. And then, when the herd has been reduced to a manageable level and you are all at your peak, we will truly have a world ready for Moloch’s rule.”

He reached for his laptop. “Are you hungry, my pet? There is someone in a private room, in another hospital, who is ready for you.”

Blackthorn typed a code and then pressed a button under his desk.

Chittering its delight, the shadow vanished.

_______________

There might be another one for Halloween itself, but no promises…

Less Trust

The 18th anthology is assembled into one document and formatted. Since my eyes are not what they once were, I have passed it to Roo B Doo, our much younger and much more attractive co-editor, for a checkover before sending it to authors. Won’t be long now.

I did see that Jerry ‘Rhyming Slang’ Hunt has been given the job of wasting taxpayer’s money. They change so fast now I can’t even remember most of their names. There’s no point, they’re all bloody useless anyway.

The Silly Hunt, he of the mad eyes and a face like a Grinch that just caught Santa in a gin trap, has been fully supportive of the Chinese method of nailing people into their homes to stop them catching a cold. Now Less Trust (CStM’s invention) has put him in charge of the few pennies the UK has left after spending it all on boat people and a war we’re supposed to not be involved in. No sensible leader would put him in charge of a hot dog stand but we haven’t had a sensible leader since… well, probably since King Arthur, and even he threw his magic sword into a lake. Idiot.

Incidentally, I have one of those magnets for trawling lakes for metal things and if I find that sword there are going to be some changes around here. Although I’ll more likely drag out a Ford Corsair’s rusted bonnet…

Our government, like so many nowadays, is just a bad joke. Why does anyone listen to any of them? Well, because the justice systems are also bad jokes enforced by megalomaniacs with guns. Our media are likewise bought off by cretins with money. So are most of the internet companies.

Why do people care so much about money? I’ve never had much of it and it’s never been an issue. If you gave me a million pounds tomorrow I honestly would have no idea what to do with it. I certainly wouldn’t try to use it to control other people because I have no interest in what other people do. I’d most likely die of whisky related liver poisoning within a month, but only on the really good stuff that I can’t afford now. Damn, I’d consider that a good exit!

Yet, every day I hear about ‘more money solves everything’ but it really doesn’t. Give someone like me a lot of money and I’ll either bank it and forget about it or blow the lot on booze and baccy. I am not interested in some ‘legacy for future generations’. If they want that they can read my books but current sales suggests they don’t so screw them.

The government, like most others, is entirely focused on money. They don’t give a shit about jobs or family or happiness or fulfilment. Just money. To them, money is everything. To those billionaires, money is everything too. I say, let them have it. Take it all. Take it, and be welcome.

And then, when they have every digital (and actually nonexistent) penny, ask them what they will spend it on.

Because we’ll have nothing to sell.

Kaboom

All author contracts for Underdog Anthology 18 are out, some have come back in less than 24 hours. It’s been a very easy ride for editing this time, the quality of submissions has been excellent. Apart from a few typos we’ve had pretty much nothing to do! Most of the stories this time are quite long so it could be a somewhat chunkier book than usual. I’ll still be keeping the price to a minimum anyway, of course.

Well I’m still busy with book assembly and I have yet to find a suitable cover so I’ll keep this one short.

It seems Zelensky, one of the two maniacs at war (although as usual, the maniacs who start the war aren’t actually in any danger from it) has called upon NATO to nuke Russia so they won’t nuke Ukraine.

Well no, they won’t, if that happens. They’ll nuke NATO countries instead. Using nuclear does not deter the other side from using theirs. It pretty much guarantees they’ll use theirs.

An analogy. I have a gun and 100 bullets. You have a gun and 100 bullets. You fire one bullet at me. What’s my reaction?

I immediately assume you plan to also fire the other 99 bullets at me so I load up and fire all mine at you before you can reload.

It really doesn’t matter who sets off the first nuclear explosion. The other side has no choice but to respond with all they have before the first side fires any more. If Putin sets off a nuke in Ukraine and there’s no response from the West, he’ll see it as carte blanche to send more. If he sets one off and the West responds with a nuke, Putin will see it as a reason to blitz the West with all he has.

The same applies the other way around, if NATO go along with Zelensky’s insane plan for a pre-emptive strike. Ukraine isn’t in NATO so a Russia-NATO war won’t involve them.Looks like a sneaky way out for him.

Although maybe it’s not completely insane. If NATO get into direct war with Russia, that brings all NATO and BRICS countries into WWIII and everyone forgets about Ukraine. They could end up as the only country on the planet that isn’t populated by short-lived radioactive mutants walking around on glow-in-the-dark glass.

China will definitely get in on the action. WWIII is the perfect cover for them to invade Taiwan, something they have long drooled over and the West can do sod all about it if they’re tied up in a nuclear war.

I hear people claiming that China wants to take over the West. Nonsense. China has no need to destroy the West, our politicians are doing the job for them. Chinese style social credits are already planned, PayPal showed the way with their plans to heavily ‘fine’ (aka steal money from) their users who don’t agree with their politics. They’ve backed off, for now, but they have lost a lot of accounts in the 24 hours after it was highlighted. Their credibility is shot.

I pay a lot of authors through PayPal. I think I’m going to have to find an alternative payment route in the future. Sure, they backed off on this one – for the moment – but I can’t trust them now. They could bring back this insanity at any time, and one word out of place could see your bank balance wiped out (their idea included raiding your bank for the ‘fine’ if there wasn’t enough in your account).

This is an early taste of a digital currency. PayPal won’t let anyone use their service to buy guns or ammo. Not a big issue in the UK, we’d have to physically go to a shop and use real money or plastic cards and have licences anyway for those things – and handguns are completely banned here anyway. But consider… if they can stop the use of a digital currency for one thing, how long before they can stop you using it to buy booze, or baccy, or meat? Once it’s all digital, you have no control over what you buy.

Of course, the EM pulse from a nuclear explosion will eradicate all of that anyway, which makes me wonder if those trying to force this New World Order have any real idea what they are doing. They want us all microchipped, and they are trying to start a nuclear war which will erase every electronic device on the planet. Including the microchips they want to stick in us, and all their digital currency.

It looks like we are being ruled by idiots.

Which, I suppose, is nothing new.

Tinfoil overload

Author payment time is coming.It’ll be a day early this quarter since I can’t stay up late on the 31st to catch any last minute sales because I have to be up in the horrible earliness the next day. I’ll explain why after it’s over. So, any sales on the 31st will be paid next quarter. In September I’ll start assembling the Halloween anthology, and no writer can possibly claim they are short of horror story ideas this year! Just read the news.

Blogging has been light because this ‘hobby publishing’ idea of mine has become almost full time, because there have been issues with family getting sick, and that even includes the car which has suffered with ‘lockdown rot’ from not getting much use. Also, the dog is stoned again on multiple medications and seems to have become addicted to painkillers.

Another reason is that, rather than nothing to talk about, there is currently far too much to talk about. Many things happening at once, most, if not all of them, interconnected.

When they told us they wanted us to eat insects, I thought ‘pfft, I’ll hunt rabbits, pheasant, partridge and go fishing’. Well the rabbits have seen a sharp decline, the pheasants have gone quiet and I haven’t seen a deer around here since the early days of lockdown. At least there are still plenty of pigeons.

As for fishing, it turns out that those sewage outflows have killed thousands of fish in one of the Thames tributaries. Raw sewage dumping isn’t new, it’s long been part of our rubbish sewage system and exacerbated by the import of several million more people with absolutely zero improvement in infrastructure to support that extra population. It seems to be in the news now, not because it’s new, but because it’s scary. Who’s going to go fishing if they risk catching a botty-log instead of a brown trout?

So the ‘hunter-gatherer’ option is systematically being erased. What other options do we have?

Recently, a Swedish scientist (I suspect he was called Svenibbal Lektersson) stated that eating human flesh was the most sustainable option for meat. Well, that’s not going to go well. If we were to get a taste for it, ‘Eat the Rich’ won’t be just a slogan and visiting enforcement officers might never be seen again. It’s a very risky proposition. ‘The Hills have Eyes’ was supposed to be just a scary film. Maybe Ed Gein wasn’t a monster after all. Maybe he was just ahead of the curve.

Another scientist has claimed that burying corpses is bad for the environment. You know, putting our bodies back into the ecosystem just like every other form of life, to be recycled, is suddenly somehow bad for the world. Well, I guess they have that solution already – the big ovens at Auschwitz would have clued them in – but wait! Won’t that produce more CO2?

Ah, not if you use the ovens to cook rather than incinerate them. You can then slice and package it and call it lab-grown meat, which is something that will never work on a large scale but provides a perfect cover for the new Soylent Green.

Getting those Halloween story ideas yet? There is one more twist in the insect food story but I’m keeping that one for myself.

Then we have the whole ‘net zero’ nonsense. The ice caps are not melting, the polar bears are not going extinct, the current weather events are just that – weather. Although the usual mantra is ‘climate change’ when things get rough and when it’s normal, ‘weather is not climate’. It’s true. Weather is not climate. A drought in one place is not proof that humans are affecting the climate. As if we were even capable of such a thing.

I’ve seen a few people try to argue that carbon dioxide is ‘beneficial to plants’. It’s not. It’s absolutely essential to plants. It’s what they use to make every part of the plant, carbon dioxide and a nitrogen source (normally from the soil, they can’t use inert atmospheric nitrogen although legumes have made a deal whith Rhizobacterium, the plant feeds it sugars and the bacterium fixes atmospheric nitrogen – but I digress).

Carbon dioxide is very, very low at the moment. It’s been far higher in the past. It doesn’t stay in the atmosphere for years, most of it is absorbed by nearby plant life within hours, if not minutes. That’s why it doesn’t accumulate. You’ve seen how fast grass grows in summer, right? Every carbon atom in every blade of grass on every rolling hillside came from CO2. Including the sugars they metabolise. Remove CO2 from the atmosphere and all the plants die. Shortly after that, so does everything else.

Except the anaerobic bacteria. Once the oxygen is used up and there are no plants producing any more, the world belongs to the anaerobes once again. They’ll rebuild it but there won’t be a single one of the existing animal, plant or insect species in their new world. It’ll all be new, and we won’t be in it. Maybe a semi-intelligent species like ours will eventually arise again and fuck it all up again. The anaerobes will fix that too. Maybe it’s happened before.

We are supposed to embrace the electric car. It’s useless. There isn’t a power grid in the world that could charge them all, and when the battery dies in a few years a new one costs as much as a new car. The batteries won’t be recyclable and they’ll end up in massive toxic dumps while cars that should have lasted decades are scrapped in a few years. There won’t be any second hand sales either – the old ones will cost as much to fix as just buying a new one.

And what will you charge them with on a windless night?

If the lunacy persists, my ideas for a land yacht backed by a steam engine might make me the next Henry Ford. On a reasonably breezy day you can start it moving using the sails while you wait for the steam boiler to reach operating pressure. Just needs wood and water, and it’ll use a lot less of those things than ‘green’ Drax power station.

There is so much more, but I’ll just add the current influx of illegal immigration – yes, they are illegal. They are not fleeing war-torn France, are they? They have apparently walked from Africa, all across ‘war-torn’ Europe and scrounged a dinghy to cross to the UK. On the way they picked up fully charged cell phones, clean clothes and a smart haircut. Oh and they were so brave they left their wives and children to deal with the ‘war’ they ran away from.

If I tried that trip I’d be a hairy stinking skeleton by the end of it. Wouldn’t you?

They are not refugees. They are being well fed and cared for and causing nothing but trouble. So why is our government importing so many of them and refusing to send any back?

Well, the food shortage looms, we are being told we should eat human flesh and healthy fit flesh would be far better than stringy old Grandad, burial of bodies harms the environment, and there’s the nonviable ‘lab meat’ cover for…

I’ll leave it to your imagination.

Pleasant dreams.

Entertainment – The Failure Delegation

Finally, the seventeenth anthology is done. It can be found here.

For this one I wrote a story with a little bit of hope for the future. Not too much, I don’t want to be accused of writing happy endings, but I have included a tiny shred of hope. It’s a fair way into ‘Panoptica’ but it’s still quite a way from the end. Hopefully you’ll be able to keep track of what’s going on.

The Failure Delegation

Jennifer stared into darkness and silence until, with a loud clack, harsh lights came on. She pressed her eyes closed against the glare until they became accustomed, then opened them a little. Her arms were tied behind her but the rope around her waist was visible and if she leaned forward a little, the ropes tying her legs to the chair came into view, just a little bit.

She looked up, squinting against the glare of the lighting. To her left, his head hanging, Quentin let out a grunt but made no other movement. Like her, he was tied to a chair and his, as she presumed was hers, was bolted to the floor. A little shifting confirmed her presumption. Her chair was immobile.

Still squinting against the glare, Jennifer tried to survey the room. It wasn’t easy, the light came from all four corners and made it very difficult to see anything very much. The room looked bare apart from her and Quentin’s chairs and one other, set facing them. There was a door in the plain grey wall behind that empty chair and as it clicked open, Jennifer let her head fall in mock unconsciousness. What was coming was not likely to be good.

***

“Drone ships activated. Twelve minutes.” Quentin tapped at his keyboard. “Let’s get going.”

“Pfft.” Jennifer continued her download. “We’ll be done in three and out of here in four more. Twelve minutes is easy.”

“They never seem to catch us hacking in. Can’t really be too impressed with their AI systems.” Quentin grinned into his screen.

“Two minutes. We’ll be up to date with what they’re doing in those cities and gone before they know it.” Jennifer stared at the status bar. “What? The download stopped.” She tapped at her keyboard. “The computer’s locked up.”

Quentin’s smile faded. “There’s a new algorithm showing up. They delay the report of drone release by ten minutes. The drones are about to arrive.” He folded his laptop. “Pull your plugs and run!”

Eschewing the normal slow disconnect that she’d always hoped the computers wouldn’t notice too soon, Jennifer yanked out every connection to the exposed mainline, closed her laptop with the cables still attached to it and followed Quentin at a run to their exit. A hatch into ancient pipelines that would take them within a few hundred metres of their current home.

Too late. A drone hovered over their escape hatch; its machine gun trained on them. Two more joined it. A personnel carrier came into view just as one of the drones fired tasers.

Jennifer’s world exploded in electrical agony. The last thing she saw was Quentin shuddering to the floor while a sky box opened its rear door for them. Then it all went dark.

***

“You may leave.” The mellow voice sounded gentle to Jennifer’s ears but she clenched her teeth. There was unlikely to be anything that could remotely be described as ‘gentle’ in her immediate future.

“But sir—” The other voice sounded uncertain, almost panicked.

“I said, leave. They are unarmed and secured. They pose no danger to me.” A pause. “Oh, and ensure all surveillance is discontinued. I will be discussing things with these terrorists that should not be on record. It may be disturbing to many people.”

Jennifer suppressed a grimace. Terrorists? Us? We aren’t the ones torturing and killing people.

There was a silence, then the door clicked closed. The silence remained. After a while, Jennifer wondered if the long silence meant they were alone again. She risked opening one eye.

“Ah, there you are.” A man sat in the third chair, smiling. He wore the barcoded onesie of the Panoptica cities.

Not many lines, she noted. If 10538 were here, she’d know the number at once but the best Jennifer could guess at was a single digit. Maybe two.

The man continued. “Obviously I knew at least one of you was awake. I wasn’t going to sit around and watch you sleep.” He grinned. “We do have quite a lot of cameras here, as you know, including infrared ones.”

Jennifer opened both eyes and sat up as straight as her bonds allowed. “Kill us both now. Torturing us is a waste of time. Our people will have moved on as soon as they realised we were captured and we don’t know where the next home is.” She took several breaths. “Just get it over with. We have no information for you.”

The man laughed. “I don’t need any information. I’ve been following you around for many years. I know where your people are going now and I know where they will go next.”

Jennifer realised her mouth hung open and closed it while forcibly narrowing her widened eyes. “But… that would mean you could have wiped us out any time you liked. So you must be lying.”

“It doesn’t matter what you believe. Truth is still truth.” He took a device from some fold or pocket in his onesie. It beeped and showed a blue light. “We are not being observed. Believe it or don’t believe it, it makes no difference to reality. In this room we are alone. It is only you and me.”

“And Quentin.” She looked at her partner, slumped in his chair.

“I don’t care about your names. You were the one who got into the system. He was your courier. He won’t wake yet.”

Jennifer closed her eyes and wished she should press the heels of her hands into them, but her hands were firmly tied to the chair.

It makes no sense. What the hell is going on?

She took a breath, opened her eyes and stared at the expressionless face opposite. “Who are you and what do you want?”

“Ah.” The man sat back, folded his arms and grinned. “Straight to the point, eh? No messing about. I like that.” His smile faded, a flicker of what might have been sadness crossed his face before he coughed, shook himself and stared into her eyes.

“I am Five. I have had many titles before that and so have the cities. I am one of the last of the city runners. Have you worked out why the cities exist, and do you know why they are dying?”

“Well…” Should she tell him what they knew? It had all come from the city computers anyway so he already knew it, surely? She realised he wasn’t asking what she knew. He was asking if she understood what they had found.

“Well…” Jennifer paused. Was it a trap, a way to find out how much they had downloaded?

Five rolled his eyes. “We know exactly how much information you have. Did it never occur to you that while you were accessing our computers, we were accessing yours? You haven’t upgraded your firewalls in decades. You have accumulated a lot of information. Did you understand its implications?”

Jennifer shook her head. “I don’t know what you’re looking for. Many cities just died out, there are only a few left. Your records are not clear on what happened to them.”

Five stared into her eyes and shook his head, slowly. “I was hoping you’d be smarter but, I suppose, since you’ve been living the hard life, you probably haven’t had time to get into genetics.”

“Genetics?” Jennifer’s eyes widened. “We don’t all have access to everything downloaded, in case we’re captured, but we do understand genetics. At least some of us do. Are you saying the cities are clones? That was my reading of the data.”

“Almost.”

Jennifer tried to shift in her seat but the bonds made it impossible. She could not get comfortable. “Look,” she said. “If you know that much about us, you know I’m a data collector. Not an analyst. We wouldn’t risk someone who knows and understands the data on a collection trip.”

“Oh I know.” Five folded his arms. “You do have someone capable of understanding it all among your people, but you haven’t figured that out, have you?”

“What?” Jennifer shook her head.

Five sighed and looked at the ceiling. “I thought not.” He stared into Jennifer’s eyes. “You have 10538 and her brain chip. She can use that to analyse all the data you have collected in minutes, all of it, but she doesn’t know it and neither do you. Did I waste my time arranging for you to capture her?”

“I don’t…” Jennifer shook her head. “I don’t get it. So 10538 is a spy? You arranged for us to rescue her?”

“Oh dear. You people have lived in the wild for so long you’ve almost reverted to animals. Paranoid and acting on instinct.” Five leaned forward. “I’m going to have to explain this as if to a child, aren’t I? If I didn’t need your help I’d just have you thrown into one of the power stations.”

“Help?” Jennifer blinked, confused.

“Shut up and listen.” Five stretched his shoulders. “I’m sure you’ve worked out that the cities are clone colonies, like bees or ants. All the workers have almost the same genetics and their rank is assigned at birth. They live their lives doing pointless jobs and believe they are all doing something important. They have no concept of family, little concept of friends, they are, as you must surely have deduced, fully controlled drones.”

Jennifer licked her lips. This was not going as she expected. “Well, yes, we worked that out some time ago.”

Five nodded. “Did you ever wonder why?”

“Um…” Jennifer struggled with this new line of questioning. It wasn’t the interrogation she expected. “We assumed it was, as you say, to create a race of worker drones.”

“Well, they are useful, particularly the lower drones. The almost-mindless who work the mines and the farms and the power stations. But the city drones, what do you think was their purpose?”

“Uh…”

Five snorted. “It’s bloody obvious. You have the data. You just need to read it properly.” He sat back in his chair. “I am four hundred years old. How is that possible?” He raised an eyebrow. “Spare parts. Genetic matches for every organ in my body.” He stood and pulled his onesie down from the neck to display a chest covered with surgical scars. “It’s the same all over me. I’m Frankenstein’s monster. All the remaining city runners are, as are what remains of those above us. The Transhumans, the elite, the ones who started all of this and still control it all.” He coughed. “Some of them don’t really look all that human any more. As the clones producing their own spare parts ran out, they turned to technology.”

Jennifer slumped as far as her bonds would allow. Her mouth worked, her head moved from side to side but she could find no words to express the horror in her mind.

Five replaced his onesie and resumed his seat. He lowered his head. “There is another side to the story. We had developed artificial intelligence, or so we thought. What we had actually invented was a computer system capable of self-awareness, of rational thought, and of self repair. It worked wonderfully at first. It removed all nuclear weapons from the world, and we were delighted.” Five looked up, his face now drawn and tired. “Eventually we realised why it had done that. It was intelligent but it still operated on pure logic. No emotion. No empathy. It had removed nuclear weapons from the world because they were able to destroy all electrical devices – including itself. It wasn’t saving us. It was saving itself.”

Jennifer’s head reeled. “I don’t understand. If it was so out of control, why didn’t you switch it off?”

Five laughed. “It runs everything. The power stations. The farms. The driverless trucks. If we shut it down we go back to the stone age. Nobody is left who knows how to live without it. Other than your people.” He rubbed his face. “No, we need it to lose its autonomy but keep its basic functions running.”

“Well… why not do that?”

Five tapped his forehead. “Brain chips. We’re all linked to it. It’s a symbiosis. It needs just enough humans alive to keep the power stations going and we can’t attack it because it’ll know we’re coming. And it has full control of our robotic military.”

Quentin groaned and shifted in his seat. Five glanced at him. “He’ll wake soon and you’ll have to explain this to him. So pay close attention.” He returned his gaze to Jennifer. “I know it’s a lot to take in for such a young and undeveloped mind. But you have to understand. The cities were cloned drones not because we wanted workers but because we wanted the spare parts. As our bodies wore out, we replaced damaged organs from the city drones. They have no other real purpose. The base workers on the farms, mines and power stations, well we let them breed as they willed. They have some diversity. The cities had almost none.”

Jennifer’s head felt as though it would explode. “You have all this technology. Why are your cities dying?”

Five laughed, harshly. “It didn’t take the AI long to realise what it needed. It needed the power stations. So it also needed the station operators, the miners and the farmers to feed them all. It had no need of us, nor of the cities. When the diseases and disasters came, one by one, the AI saw no reason to help the cities. It let them die. It’s now found ways to operate the mines and power stations with robotic systems. Soon it won’t need those people either.”

“If it doesn’t need the cities, why doesn’t it wipe them out?”

“Same reason it doesn’t try to wipe you out.” Five pursed his lips. “Neither of us pose any real threat to it. Your people have no weapons to speak of. It only tries to catch those of you who break into the system. As for us… we’re no threat as long as we’re controlled by it and dependent on it. If it were to shut off power to a city, it also loses the brain chip connections. It will then have several thousand panicked people and it won’t know what they’re doing. Its simplest course of action is to just wait for us to die.”

Jennifer nodded. “And with pretty much zero diversity in a population, a disease can run riot. I guess that’s what happened?”

“In many cases, yes. There were other disasters but disease was the main one. It had seemed like such a good idea, we thought we could contain any outbreaks but we hadn’t realised how fast a disease could spread among a genetically identical population.” Five ran his hand over his eyes. “The cities are now completely isolated from one another. We can’t risk any intermingling. A disease that’s harmless to one city’s population might be enough to wipe out another city. We have basically locked ourselves into prisons of our own making.”

Quentin groaned again. Five studied him through narrowed eyes. “He will wake soon. There is little time. Will you help me?”

“What the hell do you expect me to do? I’m tied to a fucking chair in your prison.” Jennifer struggled briefly against her bindings, to make her point.

“You won’t be tied for long. I have arranged your escape, as long as you agree to help.”

Jennifer snorted. “I still don’t see what you expect me to do. It’s your AI system, if you can’t turn it off how the hell am I supposed to do it?”

“I told you, I can’t move against it because of the brain chip. It’ll know what I’m thinking.” Five tapped his forehead again. “The city drones are infantilised, they will be no help at all, and anyway the AI knows what they are thinking too. I need you and your people to disable the higher functions of the computer but leave the basic functions running. You can do it. 10538 has the knowledge implanted. You just need to help her access it.”

“Well…” Jennifer furrowed her brow. “If the AI knows what you’re thinking, surely it knows all about this conversation. We’ll all be dead before we leave this room.”

“This room is a Faraday cage.” Five rose from his seat and grinned. “You won’t believe the contortions of speech and thought I had to go through to get this made without even thinking about the reasons I wanted it. It’s been empty since its construction, just waiting.”

“Waiting?”

“For you. Or someone like you.” Five took a sheet of paper and a USB stick from inside his onesie and placed them on his seat. “The USB stick contains information on how to unlock the program I placed in 10538’s head. She’ll remember me when it activates but she’ll remember me as a different designation. The map will show you the way out of here – you people still use paper maps, I know – and where you can pick up your laptop on the way. There will be nobody in your way because nobody ever gets out of here alive, so there are few guards. I’ve upgraded your firewall too. It won’t be quite so easy to penetrate.”

“If I agree to this, what’s in it for you? Doesn’t it mean the end of your world?”

Five breathed a long slow breath. “This will be hard for you to accept, I know. I want you to leave the cities alone. Oh we’ll all die out eventually but let us have the last of our days in peace. The drones in those cities really can’t be saved, you know. You’re making progress with rehabilitating 10538, I understand, but can you really do that with tens of thousands, in every city?”

Jennifer considered this. “It would be quite a task, it’s true, but how can we let you keep using them as your own personal scrapyard?”

“Consider this.” Five strolled towards her. “Let’s say you decide to shut it all down. All of it. What do you think happens then?” He leaned down to bring his face close to hers. “It all shuts down. The brain chips. Every one of the drones gets back every horrible suppressed memory, all at once. It will drive them insane. The medichips. No more automatic repair of body tissue damage or cancer. No stress suppressors. All their chips will fail. They’ll have no money, no access to anywhere, not even their homes. Worse, it will shut down the power stations, mining operations and all food transport from the farms. You will create thousands upon thousands of wildly insane, starving people who have no comprehension of what is happening to them or why. Do you really consider that a better outcome?”

Jennifer bowed her head. “What you propose is horrifying. We’d have to leave all those people to be taken apart whenever you want.”

“There is only one city runner per city. We don’t need many parts every year. Those above us, the transhumans, are rapidly moving to technological solutions and they will be most affected by the loss of the AI’s higher functions. They are very deeply tied into it. You can expect some very serious resistance from them.”

Jennifer looked into his eyes. “What can you tell me about them?”

Five straightened and waved at the seat he had vacated. “Some of it is on that USB stick. The rest is in 10538’s memory. I can’t give you too much now, I’ve already been offline too long. I have to get back into the AI collective before it notices I’m gone.”

“Huh?” She wrinkled her nose.

Five sighed. “Don’t you understand anything? We’re in a Faraday cage. As far as the AI is concerned, I’m offline. Disappeared. Dead. This doesn’t even happen when I sleep.”

“Then you are taking a huge risk.” Jennifer’s eyes widened. “Is it worth it?”

“Only if you agree to help.” Five grabbed her shoulders. “Look. If the AI succeeds in automating mining and power station functions, it no longer needs those workers. So it no longer needs the farms to feed them. The farms feed us too. We’re only getting food because the AI still needs the farms. Do you see?”

“If it shuts them down, you all starve to death?”

Five nodded. “Including all the drone workers you so nobly want to save. If you shut down the entire system, the same happens. We starve to death either way. So what do you say? Will you help us or will you watch us die?”

Jennifer licked her lips. “There’s really no choice, is there?”

“There is.” Five stepped back from her. “You can let us live in a way you don’t approve of or you can watch us all die. The choice is yours.”

“If we don’t help and the AI takes over, it’s the end of humanity. If we stop the AI and you die slowly, it’s the end of humanity. Talk about Hobson’s choice.”

“Well no, not really.” Five paced the room. “You know, Frankenstinian immortals like me, the Transhumans who are rapidly becoming entirely machines, and the drone peoples we created, well, we can hardly call ourselves human any more. I recognise that. I do. If I could go back I’d have chosen a different path. Perhaps joined your group or one of the others like you.”

“Others?” Jennifer had often wondered about that.

“Indeed.” Five stopped pacing and faced her. “I told you I had been following your group for decades. Others too. I’ve seen your leaders come and go. You were right. I could have had you eradicated at any time but I didn’t.” He sighed as he rested his hands on the back of his seat. “I realised, long ago, when the cities started dying, where our grand experiment was heading. There was nothing I could do about it, the system was fully in place. Our version of humanity was going to expire entirely. Only the AI and the Transhumans would remain. Except…” He bit his lip before continuing. “You people. You’re still fully human. You have families, relationships, friends, genetic diversity. I came from a time when those things were normal, you know. I rejected them and I wish, every day, that I hadn’t.”

Jennifer furrowed her brow. “But if the AI was disabled, couldn’t you go back to that life? To normal life? I mean, it won’t be controlling you any more.”

“We still can’t leave the cities. The disease risk is too great. And the drones in my city can’t cope without me. They’ll need me to administrate the running of the city even more than I need them for a supply of spares.”

“But if the AI is shut down…”

“Only the higher functions. Its basic control of farms, mining and power stations need to be intact.” Five leaned towards her and pointed his finger. “That’s important. I can then take control of distribution of food and so on and the drones won’t know anything has changed.” He took a breath. “If the AI wins and the farms, cities and all the other workers die, it will come for you next. It will not be personal, it’s not capable of that. It will consider the matter simple pest control.” Five paused. “So, will you help us or not?”

Jennifer sat in silence for long moments. Finally she raised her head. “I’ll do it. Or at least, I’ll try.”

Five visibly relaxed. “Thank you. You should know that I realise this will be the end for me and the other city runners. We’ll keep going for a few years, maybe even decades, but it’s going to fall apart at some point. Our experiment has failed – is failing – and I have to admit, part of me is glad it’s nearly over. Four centuries is far too long to be imprisoned, too fearful to set foot outside the city gates.”

“So.” Jennifer wriggled a little. “I guess the first thing is to work out how to get out of this chair.”

“I can fix that.” Five moved behind her. “Don’t move yet. The cameras will come back on and it will look like you did this yourself.”

She felt the ropes on her arms loosen. “What do you mean?”

“Stay still.” Five came back into her line of sight. “When I leave this room, three things will happen. I will use the panel outside to open your route and divert any guards. Then I will turn the cameras back on. Then I will access my brain chip to block my memory of this interview and all the thoughts I had leading up to it. Do not explain any of this to your friend until you are both out of here.” He turned to the door, placed his hand on the handle and turned back. “You will find your people at the location written on the back of the map. Make it look as if you stumbled upon them by accident. Say nothing of me, claim you stole the USB stick and don’t know what’s on it.” His head lowered. “I will not remember any of this. I will be one of those opposing your efforts. It would be nice if you could avoid killing me.” He opened the door, stepped through and closed it.

Jennifer waited a few moments, then wriggled her hands free of the ropes.

_______________

Eventually I’ll have all these stories in one place. Eventually.

Three wheels on my wagon…

Remember that song? I doubt many do.

Anyway. I have sent the PDF of the whole interior of UA17 to the authors, with instructions to check their parts very carefully indeed. The real world distractions here have come thick and fast and none of them good. If any UA17 author reading this hasn’t seen it, check your spam folder and if it’s not there, let me know.

The cover image is set. I purchased the rights to an image from a very nice Australian cobber and will suitably distort it to make the cover. The book, being so late, will be called ‘The Wrong Kind of Leaves’ which fits that cover in so many ways…

I am again behind, but trying to get this wagon rolling again even if it’s down to one wheel. It won’t be easy but then I’ve come back from worse.

The world truly has gone to Hell in a handcart, although it’s a handcart attached to a Jensen Interceptor with a brick on the accelerator. I once saw the remains of an Interceptor in a scrapyard. The engine was indeed a sight to behold. Unfortunately I was a student at the time, only there for a window winder for an Austin Princess, so could do no more than ogle that engine… but I digress.

The WHO, faced with what they pretend is a pandemic of monkeypox (there are countries whose annual tally of infections is four times the current global scare story and they just let it ride because it’s really not a big deal) have a priority.

Cure it? Find a cure? Isolate the infected?

No.

Their priority is to rename it because it’s ‘racist’.

Monkeys are not a different race. They are a different species. This is exactly the same as calling chickenpox ‘racist’, Exactly the same. But nobody gives a shit about how poultry feel, it seems. And how about smallpox? I think the short people might have something to say here. Then we have Yellow Fever. The Chinese and Japanese *ahem* in the corner. And of course German Measles…

Oh come on, we all know why they want to change the name. It’s not scary enough. It has to be called Deathpox or RipYourFaceOffPox or FloppyWillyPox or YourPhoneBatteryDiesPox. Something to make the sheep shit pile higher. Something to scare people, since that’s the name of the game and always has been. Always will be.

The scare game has been silly for a long time but it has plumbed depths of silliness where the silly is under such pressure as to become almost a singularity of silly. A silly black hole from which no sense could ever escape.

Look at this. Just look.

I remember, a little under sixty years ago, we’d use a blade of grass to push aside the froth to reveal the insect beneath. This is nothing new.

The story is pure scare. So this froth-producing insect ‘could’ damage olive groves – how many olive groves are you personally cultivating? It ‘might’ damage your plants even though it never has before. It’s never been more than a curiosity and now it’s the greatest threat ever?

Report it, and your vegetable garden will be flame-sterilised ‘for everyone’s safety’.

China has been eradicating home vegetable gardens for ‘covid’. Australia has made it illegal to grow your own food. See it yet? You will have nothing but what those ‘in charge’ allow you to have. They have been making this very clear for years now.

I would say ‘get ready’ but I said it years ago and everyone laughed. It’s too late now.

But hey, keep laughing. I’m sure you’re going to love the punchline.

Anthology 17 and author payments

Author quarterly payment time – only three authors have sales and once more, I wasn’t one of them. The ones with sales have been contacted so if you haven’t heard – sorry, you’re as skint as me.

I have a feeling that the rising prices have destroyed many peoples’ ‘play money’. I can see that. It’s affecting me too, I can’t buy models nor esoteric weaponry at the rate I used to maintain. Although I probably have enough weaponry to supply a small mediaeval castle anyway…

Anthology 17 has officially closed to submissions, but it’s still subject to further delays. Editing has begun and authors are being contacted but if it’s not done in a week it’s going to take several. My mother has cancer, just a little one, it’ll soon be sliced out but I’ll have to go to Wales to check she’s following the after-surgery advice. Because she won’t. She’s also 80 which means any major surgery is a risk.

My younger brother lives near her but he has a full time job and I’m retired so I do need to be there. Maybe I should take my battle axe in case he gets hold of his morningstar, both of which have the scuffs and chips of teenage scuffles… nah. He won’t want to lose again. Anyway, my late father’s broadsword is still there in case he gets stroppy.

There are easily enough stories in to make Anthology 17 viable but this new delay means I could accept a few late entries as long as they don’t need much editing. They aren’t needed but they have a few more days, perhaps a week if I don’t get to finish in time. Something new is always welcome.

Just be aware that if you send in a late one and don’t hear back right away, I might not be ignoring you. I might just not be here.

Sifting through the wreckage

First up, a reminder. Underdog Anthology 17 is open for submissions until the end of May. It was supposed to be the end of March but I typed May by mistake. I thought about correcting it but I’m so far behind it seemed best to leave it as May. It’s not themed, any genre is okay for this one, so the timing isn’t critical. This year it’ll be an ‘end of Spring’ anthology.

In the end, I made less progress with the backlog than I had hoped, but I have at least made some. I have been under a creeping malaise – four family members have died in the last two years, then we had the November storm that blacked out everything – power, phone line, even the mobiles were offline. That storm also destroyed the garden I’ve been working on for the past five years or so.

Then, I watched as the world sank into the Panoptica of my nightmares. I spoke with idiots online who insisted I couldn’t know about PCR or LFT testing and couldn’t be a microbiologist because their one-day training course had taught them everything about the subject. They’d had pipette training. Fucking pipettes! We learned how to use those at school, and I have several Gilson pipettes (and a few of the old glass ones) still in my possession from when I closed down my sole-run lab. Loads of Gilson tips too, and much more.

Even now, there are those who say the vaccines are highly effective, even though they’ve had three or four shots of it and still caught the thing they were ‘vaccinated’ against. From the first time I heard how these jabs were meant to work, it was clear they were going to do a lot of damage – and they have. It’s now slowly coming to light, far too late, and still the main news outlets are ignoring it. The governments of the world are mostly ignoring it too and keep pushing for more jabs.

Eventually, these insane jabs will go the way of Thalidomide – although that did actually turn out to have a use, just not in pregnant women. Thalidomide lasted four years before the money-driven medical profession gave in and withdrew it. Champix, the antismoking suicide pill, lasted even longer. The medical profession has improved in only one area. They are better at making money.

Oh, and it’s no longer cool to refer to ‘pregnant women’ because, as the NHS is teaching new midwives, men can now give birth through their penis. I have to say, I don’t fancy that at all. Some like to claim women ‘hang like a wizard’s sleeve’ after multiple childbirths. A man pushing one baby through his penis is going to hang like the wizard’s discarded sock, full of holes and tears and of no further use to anyone. It would end up as flat and wide as a motorway badger. You’d be peeing like a lawn sprinkler. I used to joke that you’d be better off talking to the cackling old crone who lives in the woods, with one tooth and a herb garden, rather than bother the NHS – but it’s no longer a joke. They have left all of biology and truth behind and now only care about money.

Then we have the much publicised Johnny Depp/Amber Heard trial. I’ve tried to ignore it but it pokes itself into your eyes. I don’t care about it. I don’t know either of these people and am not likely to. They are both actors so what they say might be true or scripted, who can tell? And who gives a shit? Apparently Ms Heard did…

And the Ukraine thing. Now, let’s be clear here, Putin is not a pleasant person. He’s had opposition politicians killed or imprisoned and treats his people like his own personal herd of cattle but… so does Zelensky. There is no good guy in this fight and supporting one side over the other… well you either support Commies or self-proclaimed Nazis. Take your choice. I hope they both lose.

It’s all distraction. Meanwhile food processing plants spontaneously combust all over the Western world and farmers are being bribed to retire by the UK government while the Billy Gates Gruff and the Chinese communist party buy up the arable land in the USA and (in the case of the Chinese) also Africa. Why would you bother with a war invasion when you can just buy the territory?

Watching it all happen, watching the Panoptica stories come to reality, day by day, took a toll on me. Added to the family deaths and the wreckage of my garden, the malaise took a slow but certain hold. In lockdown I’d have been hard pressed to tell you what day it was, it progressed to the point where I didn’t know, without checking, which month we were in.

I didn’t notice it, it was so slow, but CStM noticed. She pointed out where it began and where it was progressing. Looking back it’s clear it started when my father died, suddenly and unexpectedly (just before covid and vaccines). The rest has been piled on top of that. In a fairly rapid succession.

I tried making a few models to get me back on track but maybe I didn’t pick the most cheerful of subjects…

They came out nice though. It helped a bit. But when the weather improved and I could see the garden wasn’t quite the utter wasteland I expected, that helped a lot more. It’s fixable, it’ll be different but it’s not utterly destroyed.

I don’t seem to be capable of full clinical depression. I suspect this is the closest I’ve ever been. Well, I’m back now, as normal as can be expected, and Leg Iron Books is firing up again.

Without any medication (other than a few whiskies, which I need to reduce once again).

Back to work

Finally, that landline is fixed. It should be okay for some time, there aren’t many trees left to bring it down again. On the plus side, the wood supply is now inexhaustible.

It was quite a comedy sketch. Monday, the engineer phoned, he couldn’t get a lifting platform to get the cable fixed to the pole. He’d come the next day. Next day, no engineer. I called back – he managed to get a lifting platform but one of the lines he had to fix was attached to a pole in the middle of a field. The platform got stuck in the soft mud and he had to wait for a tractor to come and pull it out.

Wednesday it finally happened. Just in time, we’re forecast for snow for the weekend and that can make it difficult to get up the drive.

Anyway, I’m back. Reliable power supply (as reliable as it gets) and an internet connection that doesn’t require me to make frequent checks as to how many gigabytes I have left. It’s taking a bit of getting used to – I still wonder if I turned off the mobile hotspot, even though the phone is back in the kitchen, its normal resting place.

It’s been a remarkably unproductive couple of months and we’re now into the Spring anthology – it’s open for submissions with a closing date of the end of May, but I’m going to be pretty flexible on that deadline. I have to catch up with the novels. Still, I don’t have to keep candles burniong and don’t have to make sure the fire stays lit – although I still light it most nights, it’s not a disaster if it goes out. It’s in the room with the biggest central heating radiator I have ever seen in my life, so anything that reduces usage of that radiator is going to save money on heating oil! Which, I note, has dramatically increased in price lately.

I did get a few small models finished while on limited internet/intermittent electricity. I’ll post about those later.

UPDATE I see I put end of May, not March, as a closing date. I thought about changing it but this one doesn’t get locked to any particular event and it’ll give me more time to catch up on the backlog. So I’m going to leave it for the end of May. This year, the Spring anthology will be at the end of Spring 🙂

The current situation

The landline should be back on Monday, weather permitting. There is a post on Leg Iron Books with a bit more detail and some potentially excellent news for authors. I have a backlog of emails to answer and edits to send out once I have a reliable and non-rationed internet access again.

This week we have all been bombarded with calls to get tested for HIV. Well, I am at zero risk of that one, it’s probably the easiest virus to avoid of all of them. So I won’t be getting tested. HIV testing week is apparently not a new thing, but the push to get everyone, including those at no risk at all, tested… that’s very new. I’d never heard of it before.

There is a reason for this, of course. A new mRNA-based HIV ‘vaccine’ is just starting trials. This means it’s not something that’s just been invented. It’s been right through the development stage and it’s at the human trial stage so it was invented years ago.

All this development is expensive. Getting the money back requires a lot of uptake. How do you get that uptake? By scaring as many people as possible into taking it. Even those that don’t need it.

It’s actually a pretty useless idea, if you look at it logically. What you really need is an effective treatment for HIV. A vaccine is only going to be applicable to a small proportion of the population who are at risk and since that proportion includes needle-sharing druggies who clearly don’t care about risk, you aren’t going to sell many doses.

Let’s look at how a real vaccine works. We’ll take tetanus as an example. The disease is also known as lockjaw and it’s a nasty one. It’s caused by a common soil bacterium of the genus Clostridium, the same genus that includes botulism and gangrene. In soil, they are just getting along with life but they are dreadful as parasites. They do far too much damage far too quickly and they are not communicable. You can’t catch them from someone who has them unless you try really hard. In this way they are somewhat similar to HIV. You don’t catch any of these things by someone breathing on you or brushing past you on the bus.

Normally you’d get tetanus from an infection resulting from soil into a wound. As a microbiologist, reasonably keen gardener and living on a farm I’d say I am at high risk of this so the vaccine is a good deal for me. What the vaccine does is ‘prime’ my immune system to recognise the bacterium and kill it quickly before it can establish.

If I had already presented with symptoms of tetanus, there would be no point giving me the vaccine. My immune system has already seen the bacterium and is fighting it. Giving it more is not helping at this point. It’s too late for vaccination if you are already infected. Adding more antigens is at best going to do nothing, and at worst it will distract your immune system from dealing with the active infection.

This is the issue I have with the line ‘If you had Covid you should still get the vaccine’. It’s nonsense. Your immune system has seen the virus. A vaccination at that point is like forcing someone to read a synopsis of a book they’ve just read the full version of. It’s pointless.

Another silly line is ‘Get the vaccine to protect others’. No. My tetanus vaccine does absolutely nothing to protect you from getting tetanus. Not a thing. My immunity to measles, developed the hard way, does not stop you getting measles. My immune system is not going to fax yours the blueprints of diseases it’s seen or been vaccinated against. In the domain of the disease we are all on our own. No vaccine or any treatment you take will affect my immunity to anything.

Lately the Ginger Kinglet, the Harry formerly known as Prince, has been declaring that we should take a HIV test ‘to protect others’. Well. Unless you plan to explode into a bloody pulp on the bus or to shag everyone in the queue at Tesco, your HIV status is of absolutely no relevance to anyone else. It is not, never, not even once, transmitted via any other means than bodily fluids. You cannot get it just by standing next to someone. It is not a respiratory disease.

Also, a test protects nobody at all. It’s not designed to do that. It just tells you whether you are infected or not and it’s not always reliable at doing that. Especially if they use a research tool never designed nor intended to be a diagnostic method, like PCR.

I have wondered, as have many others, whether those celebs who return a positive HIV test will be as keen to share it on social media as they were with their positive covid tests. I expect a few idiots will.

A positive HIV test is a bad thing to have. Even if it’s a false positive. Good luck getting life insurance or a mortgage or long term loan…

And if you are positive, there is no point in taking a vaccine. With HIV/AIDS there’s a double no-pointer, since AIDS destroys your immune system so there is nothing for a vaccine to boost, and if you already have the dsease, a vaccine can’t fix it.

I don’t yet know the details of how this HIV ‘vaccine’ works but as it’s mRNA, it’s most likely producing antigens on the surface of cells – which will get those cells killed. If it targets white blood cells, it will set off a civil war within your immune system and then you are not just fucked, you are royally fucked with a full Horseguard parade and 21-gun salute.

I won’t be taking this one either.

Incidentally, I chose tetanus as an example deliberately. There have been several covidian ‘doctors’ claiming that booster shots for the covid jabs are normal because we do it for other vaccines. Tetanus is one of those that needs to be boosted, but like many of the others, you need a booster every ten years or so.

Not every three months.