31/08/2014

The Subversion of 717 (1)

First draft of the start of the sequel to the sequel of Report on Sample 717...

A bleak Winter came and went, with Edrig living reasonably contentedly in the emergency refuge for the homeless. He persisted with his policy of just telling the truth whenever any fellow residents or anyone else that he met asked him about his life. And so he became widely known as 'The man from another planet', although the title was invariably said with a smile and a shake of the head or a sneer. He would stand looking out at the grey skies of Scotland and might be asked, 'Ah… what will the weather be like on your own planet today?', to which he would usually reply, 'Sunny', often adding, 'but not with your sun, of course.'

Having found his accommodation rather dirty he had suggested that a role might be found for him in keeping it as clean as possible, as means of repaying, at least partly, for the hospitality and meagre living allowance that Sample 717's governmental charity was providing for him. And so he became the man from another planet who cleaned the floors and the seats and sofas and toilets, and who would also often be found quietly washing pots and pans and cups and plates and cutlery as he gazed out of the window above the sink and admired the tracery of tree branches against the changing 717 sky. And he would wander the streets quite often, surprisingly discovering that if he sat down by a shop window with a paper cup in front of him people would occasionally drop money into it, sufficient to buy some beer or coffee or a sandwich. It happened accidentally the first time, as the splash of a pound coin into a half-full cup of cheap coffee had puzzled him considerably.

He was dressed in clothes from a charity bin at his lodgings. A thick pair of green corduroy trousers above heavy brown shoes. A loose denim shirt several sizes too big for him and a red sweatshirt that proclaimed 'NFL 79' in bright blue letters, for a reason that he was ignorant of. And on top of that he had a blue zip-up jacket that came equipped with a useful hood that could be tucked away and zipped into a little compartment beneath the collar. And he was dressed in that muddled outfit when he ventured out one late March morning and walked the short distance to sit on the benches of the parkland that they called The South Inch, where he had once sat with Adrig.

He was admiring the multitude of colourful little flowers that surrounded the high trees and enjoying the warmth of the sunshine on his face, while thinking of old Adrig once again rather sadly, when a smartly-suited young man who was accompanied by a rather beautiful young woman walked towards him, then stopped just a few paces from Edrig and gazed at him.

'Well hello!' the young man exclaimed.

Edrig looked up and surveyed this man, taking in his short haircut, clean-shaven face, blue open collar shirt beneath a fine dark suit jacket above equally fine suit trousers and smart and well-polished rather pointy black leather shoes.

Edrig was rather bemused by this friendly greeting from a man he did not recognize, and a man accompanied by such a beauty with long black hair above a smooth white face atop the most lovely delicate slim body dressed in a tight brown leather jacket and jeans. He became even more bemused when the young man declared, 'It's Edrig isn't it?'

'Huh?' was all that Edrig could say.

'Edrig! Don't you recognize me?'

'Eh... No...'

'It's Adm!'

'Huh? What! Adm!'

'Yes!' said Adm, 'It's me. Adm.'

30/08/2014

The Subversion of 717 (2)

Edrig looked at Adm and Adm looked at Edrig.
Adm's lady companion looked bored.

'You are looking remarkably fine,' Edrig said. 'What has happened to you? You look prosperous. What have you been doing?'

'I got a job my friend. I am very good at it, and I eh... well I buy and sell eh... things... and I'm very good at that too.  But listen to me. I have learnt the language. No?'

'You have learnt it very well. How did you get a job?'

'I just asked. And one of my lady friends knew the boss.'

'One of your lady friends?'

At this point Adm's lady friend laughed. A big loud laugh, and then she announced, 'Oh, he has many lady friends!'

'Oh,' said Edrig, rather glumly, and then he added, 'Many slightly radioactive lady friends then.'

'What?' asked the young beauty with the long dark hair.

'Oh, nothing. Just a joke. Never mind.'

And Adm was frowning.

'So what about you Edrig?' Adm asked. 'You look rather, eh… rather shabby, and lonely.'

'Me? I think the term they use for me is a down and out.'

'Ah yes,' said Adm. 'Down here, on this strange planet, and out of your home environment.'

'You're talking silly again,' the lady friend declared.

'Edrig is from another planet too,' Adm told her.

'Oh yeah… just like you, ha ha.'

'Yes my dear, just like me. Actually it was Edrig who brought me here. In his eh… pod… Along with some Lady Lords, but he is from a very different place than my place. A better planet. Edrig's a boss man really. Sort of.'

'Oh stop it,' the young lady declared, 'and what's his real name anyway? Edrig… What sort of a name is that?'

Edrig sighed, and said to Adm, 'So you just tell them the truth too eh? But they don't listen do they? Or at least they just listen and laugh.'

'Indeed my friend, indeed. But we should talk, but I have a meeting to go to right now.'

'A meeting?'

'Yes, a meeting. But at five o'clock, by the circle sculpture in the High Street. Could you meet me?'

'Okay. I haven't got anything else to do. And you are speaking the language very well. Very well indeed.'

'Yeah, yeah, yeah…' said the girl, sarcastically, before adding, 'But you have a very squeaky high voice eh… Edrig was it? Are you gay?'

'No. he is not gay, but he is from another planet' Adm said firmly, prompting the girl to roll her eyes. Then turning back to Edrig Adm said, 'Okay, five o'clock, by the circle sculpture. I'll see you then.'

And then he was off, walking away confidently, striding along like a man who was very much in charge of events and who knew exactly where he was going. Edrig watched him go, while also admiring the rear view of the slim beauty that was wiggling along beside Adm, and then after the two of them had turned a corner Edrig began looking at the pretty coloured flowers again, and thinking.

The Subversion of 717 (3)

In the centre of town Edrig arrived at the installation of street sculpture that he had noticed before but had never properly considered. It comprised a steel circle that was supported by two humans leaning against it at waist height, but one of them was leaning back against the circle of steel in a lazy and relaxed manner, with a calm smile upon his face, while the other one was pushing outwards against the circle with a strained face and a blindfold across his eyes.
Edrig examined this closely and pondered what it might be all about. These two humans, he thought, are both achieving the same thing, that is, they are both holding up the circle, but one is doing it easily and lazily and is enjoying it, while using the circle to support him. The other human is pushing against the circle, fighting it, struggling, unable to see what he is doing and clearly finding it tough. And yet they are both achieving the same end, in supporting the circle above the ground. Ah… two ways to approach life perhaps? Two ways to keep sustained the circle that is, eh… perhaps your life? One way by taking it easy and allowing life to support you… the other by fighting against events and making life very hard work indeed?

Interesting, he thought… Very interesting… And then he noticed the words of a poem inscribed around the circle, written by a William Soutar, but words in a language that seemed a bit like English but clearly was not. Words in Scottish, perhaps? He read the words slowly, carefully trying to pronounce quietly:

Nae day sae dark, nae wud sae bare, nae grund sae stour wi' stane, but licht comes through, a sang is there, a glint o' grass is green. Wha hasna thol'd his thorter'd hours and kent, whan they were by, the tenderness o' life that fleurs rock-fast in misery?

Hmm… I'll need to think about that, Edrig thought. And then he heard a bright and manly voice behind him, saying, 'Hi!'

Edrig turned to survey Adm, who was now dressed in jeans and t-shirt and a brown leather jacket, all looking very clean and new.

'Hello Adm. What have you been up to? You look very well, and prosperous even.'

'Ah. Ha ha. Yes indeed. I am well. Walk with me my friend. I am on my way to work.'

'Work?'

'Yes. Work. If you can call it work. Come with me and you will see. I will keep it as a surprise for you. But you... What have you been up to? Where is Adrig?'

And so Edrig had to inform Adm that Adrig was dead, and as they walked away from the centre of town and towards the river he relayed the whole chaotic story of the pod, and the octopuses, and the death, or was it the murder? Whatever... the death of Adrig and the two Ladies, and the octopuses too, of course.

'Sad,' said Adm. 'Sad and bad.'

And they walked in silence for a while, before Edrig realised that they were heading for one of the bridges across the wide river to the side that he had never explored.

'I am stuck here Adm, with no work and no money, but I do at least have a place to stay. It's not too bad really. I could contemplate a future here. I may have to, after all.'

29/08/2014

The Subversion of 717 (4)

Adm looked across at Edrig, this somewhat overweight shambling figure with a rather bald head and puffy grey face framed in sparse wisps of grey hair that had been allowed to grow too long. And the clothes that did not match, nor properly fit. He was a rather sorry sight.
'Maybe we can find some work for you Edrig. I have some friends. Some good friends.'

'Lady friends?'

'Hah! yes, mainly. Nice lovely lady friends.'

'As nice as Eva?'

Adm furrowed his brow at that.

'Ah... Eva... Eva is not here... My friends are cleaner than Eva. They smell very differently, but... Well... We have to deal with things as we find them, don't we?'

'You have become very articulate Adm... And yes we do. Indeed we do.'

'Articulate? Oh yes. I have very good teachers.'

'Young lady teachers?'

'Oh yes. Ha ha. Oh yes. They teach me much.'

'So you like the ladies of Samp... Eh, of Earth?'

'Oh yes. Very much. And look. There is where I work, sometimes.'

Edrig looked up at a large white building.

'A hotel? You work in a hotel?'

'Yes.'

'As a barman?'

'No.'

'A cleaner?'

'No.'

'What then?'

'Wait and see. But there is a sign that will give you a good idea.'

And Adm led Edrig into the hotel and along a corridor to the restaurant area, then through the restaurant to a large children's play area that, apart from its open doorway, was separated from the restaurant by a glass panel allowing diners to view their children while the children played inside.

'Take a seat. Wait there,' Adm commanded, 'Oh and I'll get a beer sent out for you.'

'Thanks,' said a rather bemused Edrig, then as he sat down he saw the sign:

This Evening's Children's Entertainer - Adm The Man From Somewhere Else

The play area was already populated with a dozen or so children who were wandering between the ball pool, full of brightly coloured plastic balls, the climbing net, and the two plastic chutes that led from a platform at the top of the climbing net and down into the ball pool.

Just as a young lady delivered a beer to Edrig, Adm appeared out of a doorway and stood by the side of the ball pool with his arms raised. He was dressed in his old ragged fur gown, although it did appear to have been laundered. He was also wearing bright green lycra leggings and his head was covered with a long-haired shaggy wig. He looked very wild, but the children seemed pleased to see him, one even clapping his hands together as they all smiled.

'Hi Ho Kiddsy Peeps!' Adm boomed out in welcome. 'Adm frum planety Biggy Boom hus here!'

And the children laughed some more, while Edrig noticed that many of the adults were looking across from their tables and watching appreciatively also.

'Oh he's great,' Edrig heard one adult say, 'We're going to book him for Hannah's birthday party. He tells great stories too. The kids love him.'

At this juncture Adm called out, 'Look. Me Biggun! Hi hup. In we gu!' and he jumped high in the air then landed in the middle of the ball pool.

The children screamed, but with laughter in their screams, and began pelting the theatrically flailing Adm with some of the coloured plastic balls while Adm tried to repel the balls with his hands, all the time uttering comedic cries of alarm.

'Uh! Huh. Ich! Uh! Noh. Noh.. Badder than Biggy booms this! No Kidsy peeps! Stop kidsy peeps!'

And Edrig watched in wonder and admiration, sipping at his fine Sample 717 beer.

And he watched for about fifteen minutes until a managerial type of lady approached him.

'I'm sorry sir, but some of our diners are complaining about you sitting there looking at their children.'

'Eh?'

'The children sir. Are you a parent of any? A grandparent?'

'No. I'm a friend of Adm's.'

'Ah yes. I see. One of the girls mentioned that but... would you mind terribly if I asked you to finish your drink at the other end of the room, perhaps?'

'No... I wouldn't mind terribly, I suppose, but... what time does Adm finish?'

'Oh. Not until eight.'

'Ah. We didn't discuss that.'

And so the managerial lady shepherded the rather odd and bedraggled Edrig away from the children's play area and to a seat by a small table at the opposite side of the room, where he sat, and supped, and pondered.

Edrig was not inclined to wait until eight in the evening, since sitting with an empty glass and no money to refill it was making him feel uncomfortable, especially as he began to realise why some of the diners might not have wanted him to be looking at their children.

With no prior arrangements having been made he decided on leaving a note behind the bar for Adm, giving the address of his hostel and also saying that he would be near to the circle sculpture at 4pm on the next day. And then he wandered out of the hotel and walked slowly across the bridge over the wide river as the sky darkened. He was alone again, with only his thoughts for company.

28/08/2014

The Subversion of 717 (5)

'You should've waited for me, I was going to buy you a meal,' Adm told Edrig at just after 4 pm the next day, having sat down beside him on a bench beside the circle sculpture.
'I got moved. The parents thought I was showing an unhealthy interest in their children.'

'Oh... Well I suppose you do look the type.'

'Thanks very much.'

'Well but you don't look very good Edrig, in those clothes and sitting on your own, I suppose. You do look a bit odd.'

'Thanks very much. But you seem to have settled in nicely.'

'Yes.'

'Though illegally.'

'Ah yes. An illegal immigrant the girls have told me, and from much farther away than they believe.'

'The girls?'

'The girls I live with.'

'Ah... So you really have settled in very well indeed.'

'Oh yes.'

'And the children like you.'

'Ha ha. They love my stories about Biggy Boom Land.'

'You entertain little children with tales of nuclear devastation? Or do you still not know what your Biggy Booms were?'

'Oh, I do know now, sort of. The eh... the library here is fascinating you know, but I don't tell the kids all that. I just make up rubbish. They love it. Adm from Biggy Boom land, the man from somewhere else. They love it.'

'I suppose you are all washed and minimally radioactive now,' Edrig said, more to himself than to Adm.

'I've been reading about that. It's funny how their language here is so similar to my own, but still different. What's that all about Edrig? What's everything all about? What's really going on?'

'I don't know.'

And time passed... Days... Weeks...

They became firm friends, Edrig and Adm, often meeting up for beer and food, always purchased with the money Adm was making as the man from somewhere else in addition to the buying and selling of stuff that Adm seemed reluctant to discuss.

Until...

Until the day arrived, in the early evening of the 10th of May on Sample 717, when they were sitting on their favourite bench beside the circle sculpture on the High Street when Edrig heard a very familiar voice behind him....

'So! We have found you!'

Edrig and Adm swivelled round, and both gasped together at the sight of two beings who surely should not really be there, especially the rather tall and skinny male one.

'Adrig!' Edrig cried, for it did appear to be his old friend Adrig. 'But you are...'

'Eva!' Adm cried, for yes, it was Eva.

'Yuh, Eva...' Eva said, as she stood there, somehow dressed in what looked very like Sample 717 clothes. A pair of dark trousers, a white blouse, a well-styled leather jacket.

In the meantime Edrig's mouth was agape, incapable of making any sound.

It was Adm who eventually managed to return to the most pertinent issue.

'You are meant to be dead Adrig, what has happened? Edrig said you were dead.'

'Yes,' Edrig managed to say... 'Dead!'

27/08/2014

The Subversion of 717 (6)

'Eeee scree weerly dep dip weee scoop squeen sqa squishwit. Cherka see wurly!' said Adrig, excitedly.
'Eh... could you talk in the language of this land please?' Adm asked, 'because remember I cannot understand your damn screeching.'

'Sorry, I forgot in my over enthusiasm at giving the stupid young boy a scolding. What I said to him was that I was damn well dead as far as he was concerned, clearly!' And then he looked sternly at Edrig.

'But you were dead!' Edrig insisted. 'You were cold, dead... In the pod. Your mask was cut by the octopus!'

'Well how come I am standing here speaking to you then?'

'I don't know.'

'No... there is clearly much that you don't know isn't there? I mustn't really have been dead eh?'

In the absence of any response, Adrig eventually continued.

'An anoxic coma... have you ever heard of it Edrig?'

'No, but you weren't breathing. I was in the pod with you for quite a while.'

'Well I must have been in anoxic coma shock then eh? You don't know much about our biology do you? Maybe I was breathing just a tiny little eh? Just possibly perhaps? For here I am, eh? And I am not too pleased with you either, my boy, not too pleased at all. You should have undertaken your basic training I suppose, and maybe have listened to your teachers a bit more when you were at school.'

'Oh... I often skipped the biology actually,' Edrig admitted.

'Oh what a surprse,' Adrig said with a sarcastic sneer. 'We do have more advanced biological adaptations that the simple sample people you seem to have been more interested in, you know.'

'Oh... And the Ladies?' Edrig asked, remembering them suddenly.

'Oh... Well the ladies, being so fat... Eh I mean so beautiful,' at which point Adrig gave an involuntary look over his shoulder.

'Don't worry,' Edrig assured him, 'I have seen no evidence of any Lady Lords around here.'

'Anyway,' Adrig continued, 'The Ladies, being so big and beautiful...'

'So fat,' Edrig insisted.

'Yes, well being so eh big and fat and unfit... The Ladies have a much reduced ability to go into the emergency preserving state of anoxic coma shock. The needs of their eh... big fatty metabolism are too great.'

'And so?' Edrig demaned, getting impatient.

'Dead dear boy. Both of them. You killed them.'

'Oh...' said Edrig, glumly.

'Yes... Oh indeed, young lad. Oh indeed very much. You have killed two Ladies. But I have a story that can explain that...'

'Oh... But still it's great to see you!' Edrig declared. 'Alive! I can't believe it!'

'Oh, I was wondering when you were going to express some indication of at least mild joy at my astonishing resurrection.'

In the meantime, Eva had been tightly hugging Adm as Adm rather hesitantly submitted to her hugging, and hugged her rather lightly in response.

'Right,' announced Adrig in a sudden business-like manner, 'Come on. Now that we have found you we better get going.'

'Get going?' Edrig said. 'Where?'

'To our pod of course. I'll explain when I get the chance, but you better come, if you want this all to be sorted out, although...'

'But...' said Edrig.

'But...' said Adm.

'But what?' said Eva.

And Adm looked at Eva, then he quietly said, 'But I'm staying here.'

'But...' said Eva.

'You could stay too Eva,' said Adm, rather hesitantly.

'But...' said Adrig, before slowly adding, 'Oh well... come to think of it, that may be better for you... Yes, it may be for the best... if I can think up some other story, but...'

'No buts,' said Adm firmly. 'Stay here with me Eva. It's good. Much better, and my ladies will like you.'

'Your ladies?'

'Ah... Yes well... Just stay Eva. I'll explain everything.'

'I'd like to be there to hear that explanation,' Edrig offered.

'Come on Edrig,' Adrig commanded.

'Say bye byes at yur wife Adrig,' Eva said.

'Your wife?' demanded an incredulous Edrig.

'I'll explain,' said Adrig, 'but...'

'What's the rush anyway?' asked Edrig.

'Yeah, what's the rush?' asked Adm. 'We could have some beers together.'

'Oh... Beers?' Adrig, hesitated. 'Well...'

'I've no money,' said Edrig.

'Nor me,' said Adrig.

'Munny?' said Eva.

'I've got money,' said Adm. 'Come on... This way. To the beers!'

25/08/2014

The Subversion of 717 (7)

In the deepest back corner of the basement bar on Sample 717, the two superior beings sat with the two humanoid but not human creatures from Sample 716, all somewhat more slumped than they had been on their arrival a couple of hours earlier. The lights were low and soft moody music accompanied the murmurings of conversation from the various groups of drinkers scattered around the cavernous place. Eva's head was resting on Adm's shoulder, and she seemed half asleep. Adm was holding her hand with one hand while lifting a half-full glass of beer to his mouth with the other.
'I've had too mush,' Adrig declared.

'Too much,' Adm corrected.

'Oh we could manage another though,' said Edrig.

'Okay,' said Adrig compliantly in response, while Adm smiled and handed a twenty pound note to Edrig while commenting, 'Me too, but I think Eva's probably had enough.'

'Still can't believe you're alive,' Edrig said, as he returned with drinks on a tray.

'You left me for dead lad, for dead.'

'Oh let's not go through all that again. The octopus ripped your mask. I told you. Cold… Dead…'

'And you are qualified to pronounce death are you?'

'No but anyway, I sent you on… You're lucky I didn't bury you. And you are here now. Oh! And with a wife!'

'Nice wife,' said Eva, stirring into half wakefulness. 'Lucky Adrig nice wife.'

'Hmm…' said Adrig.

'You don't sound so sure my man,' Edrig suggested.

'Later,' Adrig promised. 'I told you. We'll talk about that later… Nishe beery.'

'Nice beer, my man.'

'Yesh. Nishe beer.'

 And then... on the next day...

In the cold of an early May morning, Edrig sat on a bench beside Adrig and Adrig sat beside Edrig, just as they had done on more than one occasion before. Both were asleep, until Edrig stirred and shivered.

'Oh no. Again,' he muttered. 'Too much beer again.'

'Huh?' said the wakening Adrig beside him.

'Too much beer. Again. Sore head, Cold. Too much beer. Again.'

'Ah, but at least we still have shoes this time eh?'

'That's true,' agreed Edrig, looking down. 'But we don't appear to have Adm and Eva. Where have they gone?'

Adrig frowned and thought about this at some length as he sat upright and pulled the thick coat he had come equipped with more tightly in around him.

'Perhaps it may be best that we don't know that my lad,' he eventually began. 'Perhaps they have decided to escape from us, and perhaps that may be for the best. Less for us to explain when we get home, for unlike us they perhaps do have a chance of properly escaping from what they have come from. Escaping from what they were born into.'

'And we don't?'

'No we don't Edrig, even though finding us was never a top priority, especially considering... ah never mind for now, but… they do find us, they will always find us… We are always doomed to be what we were born to be, I fear. Like most creatures, really… there can never be any true escape from what we are born to be.'

'You are managing to be philosophical inside your sore head.'

'My head is actually not too bad,' said Adrig. 'I have rather got used to beer, or technically maybe cider, on 716.'

'With your wife?'

'Ah yes… My radioactive wife.'

'But nice?'

'Nice enough my lad. Very nice, for a while, but…'

'But what?'

'But… Well… You know Edrig, it seems there may be some things about ladies that are the same wherever they are from.'

'What do you mean?'

'Ach… let's leave it for later, but having a wife, even a young slim and admittedly very fine looking - even if sometimes somewhat smelly - wife, can become rather wearing, you know.'

'No, I don't know, and I rather wish I did!'

'Ah well Edrig. You be careful what you wish for. You just be very careful what you wish for. Anyway, come on… let's walk to the pod.'

'Really?'

'Yes really.'

'We really have to go back?'

'Yes we do.'

'And are we in trouble?'

'Trouble? No. Not really, if we play it right. I have rescued you Edrig. You fell victim to a malfunctioning pod, as did I, and then I have rescued you, but none of that really matters much now anyway, for the meantime at least.'

'What do you mean? Have you been back home before finding me?'

'Yes I have.'

'Oh… and what's been happening?'

'Much has been happening. And… well… I'll tell you later.'

'Why not now?'

'Just wait. Now come on lad. Do as Adrig advises. Come on.'

And so the two rather old-looking superior beings, who were really rather young superior beings, rose unsteadily from the bench on Sample 717 and made their way slowly towards the hilly woodland where Adrig had left his pod.

24/08/2014

The Subversion of 717 (8)

When the pod door opened on their arrival back home Edrig was pleased to see Macrig's face appearing behind the open hatch. He felt a wave of normality which, in the light of Adrig's assurance that they were not in trouble, surprised him by making him feel glad to be back. But the smell that pervaded in through the hatch was rather different than he remembered. It was vaguely familiar, but he could not identify it.
'Hello Macrig. It is very nice to see you again. What's that funny smell though?'

Macrig looked past Edrig to Adrig.

'Have you not told him yet?'

'No,' admitted Adrig. 'I didn't want him to refuse to come back.'

'Ah well,' said Macrig. 'She wants to see the two of you immediately.'

'I thought she would,' said Adrig.

'The new Lady Lord?' asked Edrig.

'Yes,' Macrig confirmed. 'Downstairs right now.'

'What's she like? What's the smell?' Edrig persisted.

'You'll find out soon enough lad,' Adrig told him, 'But don't worry, she's actually not bad once you get over the… Well, once you get used to her. Come on.'

Rather than diminishing, the odd smell intensified as they walked down the stairs to the Lady Lord's quarters. But thoughts of that were banished from Edrig's mind by his puzzlement that the usual assortment of the Lady Lord's assistants was absent. The outer rooms were deserted.

But thoughts of that issue were also banished when the two travellers  entered the Lady Lord's quarters and Edrig saw what was waiting there, sitting on the Lady Lord's ceremonial throne, a place most Lady Lord's did not usually sit.

It was an octopus.

A huge dark green octopus about twice the height of Edrig, with enormous black eyes on top of a bulbous yellow head that had streaks of yellow mingled in with the green. Its eight arms, or rather – her eight arms, flowed downwards to the floor on all sides, with their large yellow suckers quivering a little all the time.

'Steady lad,' said Adrig, grabbing Edrig by the arm as he swayed a little and seemed ready to faint. 'It's alright. I'll explain later. Just keep calm.'

What was almost as astonishing as the appearance of this giant octopus sitting on the Lady Lord's throne was the appearance of four of the old Lady Lord's youngest assistants surrounding the octopus in minimal white gowns and busily scooping up water from large basins and throwing a scoopful over the big octopus at regular intervals.

'They need to keep her moist,' Adrig pointed out.

'But…'

'Don't worry lad. I'll explain.'

The big dark eyes of the big green octopus looked intensely at Edrig, and then one arm flicked up and over to a console by her side, and she began touching it. This caused a screen above and behind her head to light up, and slowly words appeared across it saying: Hello Edrig. I understand you did everything you could to save my colleagues. Thank you.

'Eh…' Edrig began, or tried to begin.

'She can't hear you,' Adrig told him. 'She can't seem to hear anything, thankfully. She has no ears, although she is very good at picking up vibrations. Just use the keyboard. Look.'

And Adrig indicated to one side of Edrig where a smaller octopus had appeared. An octopus about the same size as the ones that Edrig had brutally evacuated into oblivion, and it was standing up on six of its eight arms, or legs, while holding a keyboard at Edrig's waist height with the other two arms, or legs.

'She's referring to her little octopus friends. You did everything you could to save them,' Adrig said, 'That is what I have told her.'

So, still swaying and feeling very faint, Edrig began to type what seemed sensible to type: I did my best…

'My Lady Lord,' Adrig prompted.

Edrig shook his head in disbelief at this but added, my Lady Lord, to the end of his sentence.

The big octopus… the new Lady Lord, looked at a little screen beside her conveying Edrig's words and she cracked a slight smile from a thin slitty mouth that had previously not been apparent, and then the screen behind her filled with more letters, saying: You will be tired. You may be confused. Rest now. Adrig will explain. Go.

And so they both went. Back up the stairs, with Edrig getting more used to the fishy smell now, for yes, that is what it was, a rather fishy smell like the stale smell that wafted from the shabby fish and chip shops of Sample 717, and similar but somewhat different to the smell of the two little octopuses that he had murdered, or rather tried desperately to save.

And Adrig led him into their own rooms, where he indicated that Edrig should sit down on a soft seat, which he did, while Adrig said, 'Beer… Would you like a beer my boy? I think you could do with one.'

'What?'

'Oh yes… we are allowed limited use of the Ladies' beer now. The old Ladies. The done Ladies. The gone Ladies, for now.'

'Adrig. What the heck is going on?'

'Just sit my lad. Just sit, and I will get us some beer, and then I will explain.'

Nae day sae dark


For Edrig's interpretation click here

Water seeks sea


Sun, storm, silly smile



23/08/2014

Wet

The Subversion of 717 (9)

'So,' said Adrig, 'That excursion of our stray pod, somehow, to the land of the octopuses, Sample 621 we now presume, although how it managed to get there we still don't know, but anyway, the arrival of our pod there appears to have betrayed our outpost's location to the octopuses, and these octopuses seem to be highly evolved and intelligent creatures.'
'Oh.'

'Yes my boy, Oh indeed,' said Adrig, running his thin fingers through his long grey hair. 'We seem to have inadvertently initiated a rather startling development.'

'They invaded?'

'Well… a group of them arrived, just a small group, in a large pod of their own making but rather similarly conceived as ours, and of course our Ladies fired their stunners and stingers at them, but that just seemed to energise them and make them more vigorous.'

'Oh.'

'Yes. We saw a little of their electrical potential didn't we. Ha ha… electrical potential… their voltage you might say.'

'You are trying to make a pun out of this development?'

'Yes, sorry, but it is not quite the disaster you may currently think, or at least perhaps not. Anyway… Just listen. The Ladies' attempts to repel the octopuses just energised them. The octopuses thrived on the electricity being thrown at them and the Ladies were overpowered.'

'What? All of them?'

'Well not at first, apparently. Macrig told me most of this by the way, because most of the time I was busy on 718.'

'With your wife?'

'Yes. Ah… we had our moments. But anyway… the first batch overpowered the Ladies down below, and then sealed the connections between the floors until reinforcements arrived. Waves of damn octopuses were swarming up and down our tower.'

'Oh. We do seem to cause some, eh... pickles, don't we?'

'Yes, my boy… and this is a very big pickle because now they are in control. Well, the few that are left, all led by that rather big and actually surprisingly benign one you met on her throne below.'

'She's a lady?'

'Apparently so. At least that is what she told us and she certainly behaves like one, although not too bad a one.'

'She told you through the console?'

'Yes. They have somehow learnt our language but they can't speak to us. None of them can, and we do believe they may be completely deaf.'

'Oh good. Deafness in Ladies would be an improvement.'

'Yes, and she has announced that she is our new Lady Lord, although I think that may just be her attempt at a joke. She laughs, you know, a sort of squirmy squeally laugh. At least we think it is a laugh and it certainly seems to be accompanied by a smile.'

'And our Ladies? What happened to them? I saw the four below that were scooping the water, but the rest?'

'Yes, the four below are treated as servants, and have become very compliant because these octopuses really can sting. But the others are all imprisoned way down on floor 37, apparently. I haven't seen them.'

'And us? All of us men?'

'Well that's the strange thing my boy. They seem to like us.'

'Oh.'

'They communicate with us in a rather friendly manner, either through consoles or via sign language. Mainly sign language with the little ones. But they seem quite happy for us to have the run of the place.'

'And to drink the beer?'

'Yes. To drink the beer, although Macrig did get a bit of a stinging once when he got too drunk. So we drink the beer, but we drink in moderation. Cheers my lad.'

And the two male superior beings chinked their beers together, and then Adrig continued.

'So of course our Ladies at headquarters have detected all this.'

'Ah…'

'Yes indeed. And the Lady Lords there are none too happy with it.'

'No.'

'But they seem to be rather afraid.'

'Ah.'

'So there seems to be a bit of a stalemate going on, and they have not come to, eh… rescue us so far. But, frankly, rescue may not really be what we need.'

'No.'

'Because life up here is mighty fine now really, if a bit smelly, but you get used to that.'

'Oh. And what do you think they want of us, the octopuses?'

'Nothing. It seems. Nothing so far at least, other than data, provided they can be get moistened and fed, and they can eat our food. They do spend a lot of time wetting themselves in the bath and shower rooms though. You may have trouble getting in sometime.'

'Data?'

'You fancy another beer?'

'Yes!'

'And a bite to eat?'

'Yes please.'

'Well you just sit there lad and I'll go and get that.'

'Cheers!'

'So what data?' Edrig asked, as Adrig returned with two beers and two plates of nibbles

'They look through our archives.'

'Ah.'

'They use the four Lady servants to get access to all our archives, everything… about all the Samples, and according to Macrig they are busily transmitting it back to their home.'

'All of our knowledge?'

'Yes.'

'Oh.'

'Oh indeed. Think of it… A breed of clearly highly intelligent octopuses, they have their own pods after all, learning everything we know, about all of our Samples and everything about our home worlds as well.'

'Oh.'

'You've been saying oh a lot.'

'It seems appropriate.'

'Yes my lad. It is. Yes indeed it is. But have another nibble.'

'We'll just have to make the best of it won't we?'

'I suppose so.'

'And it seems like it may be an improvement actually.'

'Indeed. And they have never hurt or harmed any of us, apart from the initial stinging and the stingings if we get too drunk. They threaten more than they act. A raised arm is usually enough. And we are all fine and all the Ladies are still alive, apparently, and fed, just contained.'

'But not very pleased I expect.'

'Ha ha. I expect not.'

'Cheers.'

'Cheers.'

'I wonder what will happen.'

'I don't know.'

'Still… Nice beer. Nice nibbles.'

'Cheers.'

Third bridge over the Forth

Will appear here gradually, as it is built



alongside the two existing ones


and after obediently following my instructions to perform that photographic assignment my dear daughter decided to catch a shot of her father looking his suave and educated and intelligent best


The clouds were very nice today

22/08/2014

The Subversion of 717 (10)

The next morning Edrig awakened back in his own bed and gradually allowed his memories of recent events to drift back into his consciousness. Was it all a dream?
He covered his naked form in a thin robe and wandered along a corridor and into a shower room, where he was met by the sight of a group of smallish octopuses, each one standing up on its legs to reach about the height of Edrig's waist, and wandering slowly around underneath shower heads that had been set to a steady trickle rather than a stream.

Ah… So it was not a dream…

With a certain feeling of shyness he discarded his robe and walked beneath the most distant shower, turning it to warm and fast, but then he heard a noise, and it sounded like high-pitched laughter.

Looking across at the octopuses he could see a smile on each face. One of them was clearly pointing at Edrig's nakedness while another was holding out two of its suckered arms, held just a very short distance apart at their tips, and that one seemed to be grinning the widest and laughing the loudest.

Edrig sighed and wondered, not for the first time in recent days, what was happening to his world. What, indeed was happening to any and every world? What was going on? He really had no idea, but the warm water was welcome as he reached out and squirted some scented detergent into his hands. Then later, as he covered himself in a towel and walked past the octopuses towards the exit they each raised an arm and waved.

They are waving! He thought. Waving at me. Octopuses. Intelligent octopuses from a sample that has seemingly gone rogue. What is happening in my life? Still, at least they are friendly. Much more friendly than any damn Ladies or Lady Lords.

When he arrived in his workroom Adrig was already there.

'What should we do Adrig? Continue with our work?'

Adrig looked up and frowned. 'That's what I have been doing lad, and everybody else, so far as I know. What else is there to do?'

'We are not very good at taking decisions for ourselves, are we?'

'No,' Adrig agreed. 'We've never had to.'

'But we will have to account for our decisions, won't we, when the Ladies get all this sorted out and back to normal.'

'If they ever do.'

'Hmm... But why did you bring me back here Adrig? 717 was better.'

'I was told to.'

'By the big new supposed Lady Lord?'

'Yes... And told not to tell you about what had happened.'

'But why? What do I matter?'

'I don't know. Perhaps you were the only one of us out on a sample.'

'Why would that matter?'

'I don't know.'

And then Macrig walked in.

'I have just been speaking with the communications team,' Macrig announced, 'And all of our data is being streamed out at such a rate that everything will be gone very soon. In a matter of days actually. I don't know how they can move it so fast, but everything... the entire records of our entire history and every single sample that we know of.'

'Oh...' said Edrig.

'Your use of oh is becoming irritating,' said Adrig.

'Appropriate though, perhaps,' offered Macrig. 'After all, what else can we say? What else can we do? What else should we do?'

'What would the Ladies do?' Edrig asked, but in response Adrig and Macrig just shrugged, together.

'I wonder what the octopuses will do.' offered Edrig.

21/08/2014

The Subversion of 717 (11)

What the octopuses did, eventually, was to leave. They left ten days after Edrig's return. Days in which the male superior beings of the tower had rather automatically tried to go about their duties as normal, or as normal as they could manage with a cohort of potentially dangerous octopuses in charge. But then came the morning when they gradually realised that the octopuses had all gone. They had noticed a reduction in numbers over the previous few days, but this particular morning it became apparent that there were no octopuses to be seen, anywhere. They had, it was presumed, transmitted what they wanted and gone.

There were six hundred and twenty seven male superior beings working in the tower, which was the sole workplace and living space on the remote planetary outpost on which most of them had lived out almost all of their lives. They rarely travelled out of sight of the tower, other than to other worlds, of course, for when they did venture into the flat landscape around them everywhere was pretty much the same as everywhere else, so there was no reason to wander far from the tower. The Ladies and their Lady Lord had always been in charge. The children that the men sired were kept largely isolated on the lower floors until ready to work, and life just proceeded according to a regular routine that everyone simply got used to. They were comfortable. They had entertainment piped in. They could enjoy the outdoor balconies or the outdoor grounds nearby the tower. They were well fed, and something about their genetics made them tolerate their long lives without too much complaint but without much excitement either.

So on this particular morning there were six hundred and twenty seven rather puzzled and confused male superior beings wandering around the tower and slowly realising that the octopuses were all gone, and that the octopuses had rather helpfully locked their four Lady servants in with all the other Ladies, on Floor 37.

What to do? They did what seemed instinctively appropriate to them. They called a meeting, and the first item on the agenda of the meeting was the question of what to do about the Ladies. The still imprisoned Ladies.

'The obvious thing is to unlock the doors and let them out,' declared Bigrig, who was the oldest of the men at an impressive two thousand and twenty seven years. He stood rather awkwardly at the front of the meeting hall, leaning against a table, as he was no longer used to standing very much at all. He was tall, thin, wrinkly, completely bald and dressed in his golden robe.

'But,' Bigrig continued, 'Life has been rather good without them, hasn't it?'

'Apart from the smell,' came a voice from the crowd.

'That's true, or it was initially. Lately I think we have barely noticed it, and anyway now with the octopuses gone their smell will soon go too.'

'But they will surely soon learn at headquarters that the octopuses have gone?'

'Only if we let them,' came Adrig's voice, then he continued with, 'I have a plan to suggest.'

'Oh no,' said Edrig quietly beside him, as Adrig stood up and continued to speak.

'Ever since the invasion the only way they have been able to monitor us has been through the central camera in the Lady Lord's quarters. The one the octopuses missed. Correct?'

'That is correct,' Bigrig agreed.

'And it only operates intermittently given the current phase of the orbit. Correct?'

'Yes, at the moment.'

'And it is rather low resolution.'

'It is.'

'And they seem sufficiently disinterested in our fate, or perhaps sufficiently worried about the octopuses, that they show no interest in rescuing us from them. Correct?'

'That would seem to be correct.'

'So,' continued Adrig, 'would it be beyond the powers of our technical section to create a convincing moving model of the big octopusy Lady Lord?'

'Oh my goodness,' muttered Edrig.

'Hmm,' said Bigrig, as a wave of muffled muttering spread across the room.

'And...' continued Adrig, 'I know of a rather nice and interesting place that we could all take trips to where we could enjoy many fine things, if provided with the fake credit cards that I know from experience are so easily manufactured.'

'Oh? Where?' asked Bigrig.

'Sample 717,' said Adrig. 'They call it Planet Earth.'

'Oh,' said Edrig.

20/08/2014

The Subversion of 717 (12)

'It's not going to work, is it?' said Macrig, looking at the model octopus that his engineering team had constructed.
'No,' agreed Adrig. 'It's not going to work.'

'It's pathetic,' said Edrig. 'Hopeless.'

'We did our best!'

'But it's still not going to work, and the camera will be coming back up again later today .'

'So we need another plan.'

'The broken camera excuse?' Macrig suggested.

'You think they'll fall for that?'

'I don't know.'

'Hmm...'

As they were considering their options the communications controller Weerig came rushing into the room with his yellow communications section gown billowing behind him. Weerig was a small man with a thin and spindly body that made him look older and more frail than he really was, for he was still a relative youngster at only 617 years, although more than twice the age of Adrig and much older than Edrig. His completely bald and shiny head did not do him any favours either, in terms of appearance, and everyone was used to him rushing around as he was one of the most jittery and nervous inhabitants of the tower. Which explains why Adrig, Edrig and Macrig were not unduly surprised to see him rushing towards them, but the news that he had to deliver changed everything.

'You haven't responded to my messages. Have you not heard?'

'Heard what?' asked Adrig rather lazily without much interest.

'About the fleet? There is a fleet coming in from Outpost Six! About fifty of them!'

'Oh,' said Adrig and Edrig and Macrig, all at pretty much the same time.

'We've got two days to decide what to do. And what to do with the Ladies!'

'Ah yes, the locked up ladies,' said Adrig thoughfully, 'but why so long? Two days?'

'That's the thing,' Weerig continued, 'They are coming in the slow method so they must be big vessels, so we are talking about lots of Ladies and probably lots of weapons.'

'An invasion?' offered Edrig.

'Indeed. They must be coming to take the tower back.'

'Back from the octopuses that are no longer here?' said Edrig, before adding, 'Oh dear, that's a bit of a pickle.'

'Oh shut up,' snapped Adrig. 'We can… well, we can just say that they fled when they saw the fleet coming. The rescue fleet! Coming to rescue us! Our saviours!'

'Oh yeah. Great,' said Edrig sarcastically, 'Our saviour Ladies coming to release our own angry Ladies and plunge us back into serfdom.'

'Ah yes,' Adrig agreed, 'Unless…'

'Oh, another plan?' Macrig asked.

'Yes, Macrig, another plan. Perhaps we need a meeting. We have some time. Or perhaps…'

'Uh oh…' said Edrig, 'Here we go.'

'Yes perhaps,' Adrig continued in an irritated tone, 'Perhaps we do indeed go, and perhaps Macrig would like to come with us. Would you Macrig?'

'Eh to where?' Macrig asked.

'To Sample 717 of course. To freedom.'

'With implanted locator chips in our necks, or at least in your neck and mine?' Edrig reminded him, 'Even if they are prone to malfunction, you did find me eventually.'

'Ah… but these could easy enough be removed, now that I know precisely how from the Ladies' records… either…'

'Either?'

'Eh, just give me some time to think my lad. Some time to think. We do need to consider whether to consider this all together or just among ourselves. And you Macrig? And Weerig? Would you two come?'

'Um…' said Macrig, while Weerig just looked puzzled.

'You'd like it Macrig. You would.'

'Um… What is their engineering like?' Macrig asked.

'Ha ha,' laughed Edrig. 'That's our Macrig. Always the engineer!'

'It's eh… primitive actually,' Adrig conceded, 'Very primitive. But interesting. You'd find it interesting. And you could help them, perhaps, with your knowledge. In fact…'

'Yes?'

'Oh I think I have just had the most brilliant idea!' Adrig anounced.

'Oh.' Said Edrig.

There was a pause, as details of the most brilliant idea were awaited, but instead the pause was broken by a beep from Weerig's communicator.

'I have to go,' he said, with his usual sense of urgency. 'But 717. What's that all about?'

'Don't tell anybody,' Adrig commanded.

'Okay… but what's it all about?'

'Come and see me later. Don't tell anybody, although... oh... I already did, in passing... Oh well...'

And then Weerig departed.

'Can he be trusted?' Edrig asked.

'I don't know,' said Adrig.

'More to the point is can Adrig be trusted,' commented Macrig

'With his brilliant idea?' began Edrig, 'Almost certainly not. But then, it may be the only idea that there is, whatever its flaws.'

'Well I'll just not tell you about it then,' said Adrig huffily.

'That might be best,' Edrig replied.

'You two don't make much sense you know,' Macrig said quietly.

'Nothing makes much sense,' Edrig told him. 'Nothing at all.'

16/08/2014

The Subversion of 717 (13)

The next day, with decisions having had to be made quickly, Adrig, Edrig and Macrig were sitting in a large transportation pod with the hatch closed and the mechanism humming.
'I really am not sure about this, not sure at all,' said Macrig.

'You want to back out?' asked Adrig. 'You are as timid and unadventurous as Weerig?'

'No… No… Not really, but I am just not sure about it, that's all.'

'I am not sure of anything,' said Edrig. 'Never have been and never will be, and nobody ever can be.'

'Oh… quite the philosopher are we now lad?' offered Adrig rather sneeringly.

'Never can be sure about anything,' Edrig continued, 'But I am fairly sure that if I can be sure of anything I am sure that I do not want to spend the rest of my days under the harsh domination of the Lady Lords, now that I have seen what else is possible.'

'On 717?'

'Yes Macrig, on 717.'

'Where they have lovely ladies?'

'Yes. Lovely ladies, Adrig agreed. 'Slim. Quiet. Kind. Gentle. Beautiful… Mostly.'

'Lovely,' Edrig confirmed.

'Well then,' said Macrig, 'Let's go.' And he pushed a button, prompting the pod to hum more loudly, and begin to spin.

'They live such a short time down there, you say? ' Macrig began, 'Or along there, or in there, depending on how you want to think about it. How do they manage with such short lives?'

'Hmm,' said Adrig thoughtfully. 'Many of them do believe in immortality myths and they live their entire short lives seeking the non-existent prize of eternal life for infinity, but the thing about infinity is that it goes on and on for an awfully long time.'

'Well yes, of course,' agreed Macrig.

'And at the end of it, well, you just find the beginning of it, and it just keeps on going all over again, forever, and then at the end of forever on it goes forever all over again.'

'Yes, I do think I understand the concept of infinity.'

'Do you though Macrig? You'd be the only one if you did. Imagine it. Living forever and forever and forever. And then more forever, forever… Personally it makes me feel quite sick just thinking about it. Oh… In fact I feel a bit giddy now.'

'But…'

'People who yearn for immortality really haven't thought about it sufficiently, I'd suggest. No conceivable fate sounds worse to me than having to live on for infinity. For forever, without end. It's a horrendous thought.'

'I suppose…'

'Death is your friend, my friend. Sweet simple death is the greatest prize that this strange existence has to offer us.'

'Well, perhaps, eventually…'

'Ah yes, eventually. That's the thing, eh? Not too soon eh?'

'And many times can seem too soon.'

'That's true'

'Who is getting all philosophical now?' began Edrig, who had been sitting quietly pondering the future that was about to unfold.

And then the pod spun more, and more, and yet more, until all consciousness within the three heads within the spinning pod was somehow mysteriously gone.

And then six months passed...

On Earth as in the Heavens...

And so… six months later…

Adrig sat behind the wheel of his fine Mercedes sports car and pushed the button that caused the roof to fold back and away, allowing fresh air of the land known to its inhabitants as Planet Earth to whoosh around his clean-shaven head and shiny moisturised and expensively scented face while the light of the other-wordly sun struck him and began to warm him, even despite the speed of his travel. His fine linen suit lapels fluttered in the breeze. It was a beautiful hot and sunny day and Adrig was feeling very content as he turned to Macrig, who was sitting beside him.

'This is such a wonderful place.'

'It's certainly a very nice planet,' Macrig agreed.

'It's a lot better than home,' added Edrig, who was sitting in the back of the car and shouting somewhat to make himself heard.'

'But they are so limited,' Macrig continued, 'And yet in a way they are so close to great leaps forward.'

And he was looking out at the trees rushing past him, relatively speaking, and beyond to the distant hills, before continuing to speak his thoughts out aloud.

'They know all about electricity, magnetism and light, but they just have no idea that rotating these three together at just the right frequencies and at just the right orientations can negate gravity and allow rapid transit through space and its many dimensions.'

'Of course,' shouted Edrig.

'Oh. You knew these things Edrig?'

'Of course I didn't Macrig. I was being sarcastic. I am a historian not an engineer.'

'Oh. Well it's all very simple really.'

'History? You think history is simple?'

'No Edrig. The counter-rotation of electricity, magnetism and light in order to cancel out gravity and transit rapidly through space-time… in all its dimensions… is all very simple really.'

'Oh. I'll take your word for it. but anyway, I was being sarcastic. But history is very complicated. Far too complicated for you, I expect.'

'Oh undoubtedly.'

'Really?'

'No Edrig. Not really. I was being sarcastic.'

'I knew that Macrig. I too was being sarcastic again, or do I mean I also?'

Macrig sighed, and frowned while Adrig looked briefly across at him and addressed him very earnestly.

'Well, dear Macrig, it is their limitations that are allowing us to do so well, eh? And with your knowledge, and their limitations, but with the use of their materials, well… we are just about ready to put the next phase of our fine plan into action, aren't we?'

'Indeed we are dear Adrig. Indeed we are, and even Edrig has had to concede that it may be a fine plan.'

And with Adrig pushing his foot down on the accelerator, the car sped them towards the place where the future would begin.

But that was then and this is now, and you are probably not ready to hear about the subversion of all that was actually meant to happen on Sample 717, when it was created. Probably not ready to hear about it yet, because you are still living it.

However...

Still Life in Starbucks



11/08/2014

East coast beneath Bertha's tail





The tail-end of Hurricane Bertha reached us today, with heavy skies but weakening wind. What real hurricane chasers would call "just a breezy day".

05/08/2014

Tenacity at tree time


Not sure if it is an ivy, but it has grown a stem from seemingly nothing and is thriving while clinging on.

03/08/2014

Satnav says go, cows say no


But the cows were going the wrong way, funnily enough, and turning a herd of cows takes one farmer a long time...


Photos by Alison Scott