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New Arcadia

I turn off Haymarket and onto Piccadilly. My heart misses a small


beat. A face looms at me from out of the crowd: a middle-aged man
with a high collared coat and pale blue eyes. My body tenses. For a
moment there is some query, something waiting to be said but he
looks away. He looks back into the sea of mid-morning commuters and
moves on.

I imagine myself fingering the small hand weapon in the inside


pocket of my jacket. I imagine the feel of the titanium grip beneath my
fingers: the dimpled surface. One finger stretches out and slowly
places itself on the rounded trigger. It fits so perfectly. So
ergonomically designed to aid the action. Like touching the curve of a
lover’s body. You relax into the embrace. It will bring release. A tension
will be resolved.

If this were real I would be prepared. My PiD would have been


hacked. I would be anybody but me. Perhaps I would be an old lady
from Midlothian, a teenager from Valencia. My eye colour would be
changed. (Digitised contacts are the season’s craze). Glasses would
conceal a device that would alter my image on cc-V. I would be dark-
skinned not light. Sewn discreetly into my coat would be a wifi that
would scramble the data-thread of my movement. I’ve been here, I’ve
been there, it will take Domestic-Intel 24 hours to figure I’ve been
everywhere. When going to a killing you get remission: remission from
identity. For a short period you are deliriously free then you become a
non-person. Death is inevitable. Random death is inexcusable.

A man in a velvet coat and Manchu hat steps from the PRv. The
Piccadilly t-Bahn has been brought to a halt. In front of the Royal
Academy stands a ring of Security-Marshals. Kevlar suited, helmeted
and visored, their display bands indicate they are on live-feed. It is the
velvet-coated man I have come to see. His face has been all over
Global-Net’s rolling-links for days: James-Patrick Anderson, the new ES
Minister for Environment and Infomatics. He has promised a
continuation of policy. There will be a deepening and strengthening of
ties between people and nature. Beside him is another man: smaller

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and with a slightly rotund form. His face is lightly rouged. He is Sergio
di Cesare.

I do not carry a hand weapon. For a brief moment I wish I did.


Pressed among the small crowd, being pushed back by Street-
Marshals, I catch enough of a glimpse. It might be possible. I could take
aim. I could whip out the weapon and fire. I imagine the silence
hanging in the air after the discharge. Then the rattle of the empty
casing to the ground. I would watch, watch this thin, tall man stagger. I
would see that face - surgicised, pencil-line moustache, re-planted hair
- I would see that face and the shock written on it. The hand goes up
and touches the wound in the side of the temple. Anderson looks at the
blood on his fingers and cannot quite believe it. He falls. The world
goes black.

Suddenly I feel dizzy. Suddenly the crowd presses in on me. I want


to get free. I can no longer breathe. A Street-Marshal meets my eye. I
notice he looks tired. His face is pale, his mouth twisted into an
anxious line. Something in his manner, his expression speaks to me of
the teetering human beneath the façade. Something says this is an
empty and dangerous moment. I push back to the light and space at
the edge of the crowd.

Over nineteen years ago but still clear: James-Patrick Anderson and
Sergio di Cesare stand outside 29 Harrington Gardens in SW7. It is just
after dawn in late April. They are being led, cuffed, to an Intel APV. A
light breeze blows. A group of us, about 30 and under restraint, is to be
taken to Paddington-Central for ‘security consultation’. As a muscular
officer pushes Di Cesare forward he turns and looks me straight in the
eye. He shrugs his shoulders and gives an ironic smile.

Things sit in memory, in the hidden part of the mind. You store
everything away, nuance, gesture, smell, the subtle colouring of a
person. You store it in your flesh and in bone, in sinew and in blood.
We are a hybrid of body and brain. And all our little thought dreams,
how we chase them, how we run after them. Yet the codes of memory
are complex. You unravel them and unravel them and still they escape.
Then something is a trigger. Something catches you broadsides and
you know. Certainty: so rare a thing in an uncertain time.

I was in exile then. I have always been in exile. No I have never


returned to the place of my birth. Canaan has not beckoned this Joseph
home. Neither did I get to be Pharaoh of Egypt. Eleven brother’s

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indignation and a father’s misunderstanding do not explain the resi-
zone’s poisons: they are petty and pinched and myriad.

On small-hour holo-V para-Scientists talk about fourth and fifth


dimensions, about a ripple in the q-field. To the Taoists you are a
dream of the ancestor-spirits. The Hindus believe in a returning soul.
Officially you are the indeterminate result of the determinate law of
the genome. They who second-guess the gene gauge the future. So
there is no soul, no ancestor-spirit. Yet before you are born you are
indebted. Before you are born you have a PiD. Before you are born
your parent’s DNA has been cross-referenced. Before you exist in a
body you exist on a database. Someone is confident of your existence.
I left when I was just 17. I did not go to find fame and fortune: a
quaint idea. I left to hide. It was my integrity I wished to protect. Some
instinct spoke to me. Go now, it said, before you become one of the
lost. Your life forever circumscribed by the code-locked gates of a resi-
Complex.

We lived in Earls Court. Four of us shared a fading apartment, me,


two girls from the NAU, (Ami – resident only, Emily - citizen) and
Sergio. We knew him as Niccolo – Nic for short: Niccolo Mancini.
Emily was a switch-Student. Being a switch-Student meant she
failed courses this side of the Atlantic while her carers looked about for
another course she could be guaranteed to pass. She was not bright.
Ami was more complex. Half Vietnamese her resi-status was always
subject to review. Ami worked and designed when she could. I liked
Ami.

It was Niccolo took care of the lease-debt. None of us asked what he


did. He spent a couple of nights, then disappeared. Sometimes he
would be gone for weeks. Ami and Emily speculated he was involved in
fake bio-Passes. Though charming, effusive even, he still played his
cards close. When around he produced quality food and good wine.
(We valued that). I thought he was simply a 21st wide-boy: a little left-
handed. He was quick on his feet. I figured I could learn some survival
tips from his cunning.

I was on a downgraded PiD. Rejecting your carefully designed future


has consequences. I was obliged to visit SocSupport monthly – even at
age 24. Failure to do so meant instant credit-forfeit and cancellation of
wellness-care.
On the tenth of every month I would sit in a bright and artificially
scented office and via a live-link attempt to explain. A sleepy man in
his fifties would ask me unremarkable questions. He offered me
pharma, neuro-realignment, even to introduce me to his daughter. We

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got nowhere. ‘And your carers?’ he changed direction. ‘You are
compromising them’. Guilt is an old strategy.
What do you say to some career psychocrat who will not look you in
the eye? Do you say ‘my life is such a well of loneliness it cannot be
contemplated?’

Perhaps it was pointless. Perhaps I fooled myself into thinking I was


touching reality. If there was dirt, it was real dirt. If there, was pain, it
was real pain. If there was hunger it was not dissipated in a torrent of
photons, in holo-Soaps, in the fake theatre of the Entertainment-Net.
Still, some nights I would lie awake and ask myself what I was
doing: a westbound UmR snaking over the lines, the moon on naked
walls. Those walls had once seen real lives, been covered in artful
paper and held dreams. Who in the early twentieth would have
believed it would look like it now did. Decaying, buildings divided, sub-
divided and divided again, streets patrolled 24 by Met-Marshalls, some
streets laser gated. Who in the early twentieth could have seen that?

It was Niccolo who introduced me to Anderson. He did not call


himself Anderson then. Rainer Möller was his preferred title: or Herr
Möller.

I was always short of credit. I got nothing from my carers and


SocSupport provided well below subsistence living. I would get work;
fill in for a transient shortfall. Chipping hypermarket products, pushing
the random-rotate switch on a security cam - randomly, processing
drinks-payments in an ENT, none of it ever lasted long. So I became a
merchandiser of the un-beaten track: a person who learned how to
turn the system, how to duck every laser-line, skip every chip-Switch.
For some time I sold tobacco and other sundries on the street. A couple
of times I was tempted to sell myself. (It was rumoured to be good
credit from those who had good credit. Senior-Sector Marshals, local-
Gov Officials, Westminster Functionaries, the types who negated their
emptiness with bit of old-fashioned rough. They were the class who
could afford the immunity-stays for misdemeanors. This class had back
channels to meet fines of credit-forfeit. This class could avail of the
opportunity to hire someone to expiate an order of community
service).
If I were to describe my appearance at that time, it would be as
follows. I walk along the Earls Court Road. A faux-velvet frock coat,
maroon, clings to my thin body. Dark glasses hide my eyes and soften
my drawn face. With my p-C permanently connected – and but for the
lack of a credit-cushion - I could be a failed media-star.

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3

Imagine a November afternoon, sharp cold light and a cobalt sky. I


am strolling with Emily along the Old Brompton Road: we are on our
way to one of my favourite spots, the West Brompton Cemetery.
(Heritage site Nr 245009-Region 3). Emily is dressed in a man’s long
gore-tex and has a silk pashmina wound about her head. She chats
aimlessly while she streams some holo-Soap on her head-piece. We
are both hungry and irritated.
He calls from across the street.
“Comrades I am in town. I trust you are well on this fine autumn
day?”
We wave back.
“Wait. I am coming over,” he adds.
We wait as he looks for a break in the traffic. Then he walks briskly
over. His eyes are bright. He wears a well-tailored jacket, herringbone
with a gold lamé collar. Clearly exclusive, I wonder where he got it.
“Comrades, Comrades, so good to see you.”
He takes Emily’s hand and kisses it.
“I have been in Paris. . .”
He touches me affectionately on the shoulder.
“It was wonderful. I met some inspired people. In fact tonight I must
make contact with their associates here in London. They are in our
neighbourhood. How coincidental?”
He stands back and beams. The soft-leather boots he is wearing
click gently together on the pavement. Emily stares at him, her
attention now complete.
“Will you be in this evening?” she asks. “I mean will you be eating
in? So we can prepare.”
It is a good question. I have been thinking the same. Sergio takes
her hands in his.
“No. Unfortunately I go now to meet an old friend in St James Park.
A former lover. She is demanding but what can one do?”
He pauses and his dark eyes move quickly as though giving
something serious thought.
“I will make you an invite,” he says suddenly. “You must come
along.”
He pulls a piece of scratched plastic from his pocket. Then finding a
much-chewed stylus he scribbles an i3P.
“Yes. Do come along. I am returning to old ways.”
A conspiratorial smile spreads across his face. Shy, reluctant as
though letting us in on a secret.
“Old ways?” I ask.
“Yes. Like a Greek shepherd I will wander the glades and play my
pipes.”

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He gives a small gesture, raises an imaginary flute to his lips, then
laughs. It is a strange, beguiling laugh.

Emily does not want to go but I am curious. We check the holo-V in


the apartment. She pulls up the i3P on her people-Space and finds an
address and time. 29 Harrington Gardens, SW7, 02.00pm: New
Arcadia: Your destiny Calls.
“What is Arcadia?” asks Emily. “What could that be”?
I think of Ami. Ami would know. Ami may have misgivings but she
still has vocabulary.
“It’s a cover for a terror network,” I answer. “Eurasians who want to
murder us for stealing their gas and oil. I don’t know.”
She curses me.
“Why sardonic? You’re defense fixated.
I shrug.
“Nic. .?”
“Niccolo,”
“Niccolo seems life-changed.”
“Life-changed?”
“Yes. He opened up.
“Opened up? I’d say he was being social.”
“Aren’t you curious,” she demands.
“I’m curious,” I admit.
“Go.”
“Register me then.”
I want to kiss her. She turns away. I think I smell spaghetti sauce
cooking somewhere. I think I hear someone singing from a nearby
building.

The moon was high and colourless. Winter stars were jewels. Leaves
cracked on the pavement and traffic from the Cromwell t-Bahn
hummed in the distance. All the lights, I thought, all the lights dance
and are daggers in my eyes.

29 Harrington Gardens was an old Victorian edifice. It was one of


those buildings that remain empty for years. There is an absentee
landlord, an ongoing battle with local-Gov over residential allocation
and all the time equity accrues – taxes for the city, profit for the owner.
From the outside it was dark. Its windows were blacked with plastic
sheeting. Strange sigils of red luminescent tape were plastered
everywhere. No lights showed.

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I spoke into an intercom. A voice asked my name. The door opened
and a small man in a black hooded gown beckoned me follow him.
Down a long hallway and up a wide stairs we went. He did not say a
word.

I found myself in a high-ceilinged room. Candles burned. They were


placed high and low, simple candelabra, ornate candelabra. About 16
people sat on rows of perfectly placed seats. An antique chair with gold
inlay and red velvet cushioning stood on a low podium. Small spots
criss-crossed giving it a quasi-military air. It was flanked by two gel
screens, a compact holo-V and a series of consoles. The black-gowned
man indicated I could sit where I pleased.

I will never forget that room. It is etched into my mind. The first few
moments sitting there were frightening and seducing. I took out my
dark glasses and put them on. I craved anonymity and felt totally
naked. Around me was such a strange collection of people: old, young,
conventional and unconventional. Near to me sat a middle-aged man
in formal resi-Zone attire. In front of him was a woman, swathed in a
long saffron gown and clutching a statue of the Virgin. Next to her was
a young man in late teens. He fiddled with his play-C and stared
vacantly about him. Two rows further a heavy-set woman perused a
fict-Tab. She had placed a porta-Sac next to her on which was printed
an image of the sun and written below, six-six-six – the number of the
beast’. These were the ones most obvious. And Niccolo? Niccolo sat at
the front. One arm, in the elegant herringbone coat draped over the
seat next to him, his legs crossed nonchalantly, his eyes fixed on the
yet vacant podium. It was kitsch. I felt at home and as though I had
been set adrift: such a tearing, straining sensation.

The spots died. Music played - Holst’s The Planets, Mars I think.
There was a rustle behind me and a tall thin man, accompanied by two
uniformed figures entered the room. In the low light, the flickering of
candles, the effect was immediate. All three seemed to glide in, to
materialise from another dimension.

Perhaps I am in no position to lecture. I have no wish to be tedious.


Still history is tedious and politics more so. When they rise above the
mundane, when they become spectacle they are most prone to
manipulation and so dangerous. Our ancestors did not make
entertainment out of harvesting fields. True they sang to each other to
pass time. But it was the singing that entertained never the harvesting.
We have such need of distraction, such need of display that we can
no longer separate fact from fiction. We do not like the responsibility of

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our own lives. We look to leaders. If the facts of our existence are
unpalatable, the truths behind our power, our comfort difficult to
accept then what better option than to weave around them a fiction. If
our leaders, our governors deceive, if they enchant, it is because they
have learned well how we wish to be deceived, how we wish to be
enchanted. We have forgotten how to live. We look for answers beyond
ourselves. We have forgotten who we are.

Anderson then was perhaps no different from Anderson now. Was


Herr Möller that night nineteen years ago already the man he has
become today. In some form, yes. Did I perceive the danger? Only
instinctively. Herr Möller spoke to a captive audience of the
disenchanted. Herr Möller spoke to those who felt marginalized, those
who were frustrated, and those who felt alone but had not the courage
to be alone. Herr Möller gathered them into his willing arms.

This was new ES Minister for Environment and Infomatics then.

A silent room: flickering flame, the ceiling domed in darkness. Eager


faces stare intently at this angular man. He is seated like a pontiff on
his throne. Dressed in mid twentieth clothing, a tweed jacket, long
trousers, a shirt and tie, he has the professorial air of a figure from an
old MVE grab. Flanked by his two minders, he waits some moments. He
ratchets up the tension.
First his face appears on the gel screens and he is three. Three
Andersons move, their actions a curious disharmony of repetition and
reinforcement. He is a shadow trinity in the darkness of London. Then
he speaks.
His voice does not boom, does not command. Rather it is reedy and
insistent. His words come quickly, almost too quickly. One runs into the
other.
“This dead hour of the night, this strange hour,” he begins, “I want
to speak of destiny. I want to speak of the past.”

That night Anderson talked at length. He spoke of the dire state of


the world. He did not believe in a God but the devil was at work in the
world: secret brotherhoods, ancient fraternities, all wielded hidden and
pervasive power. The Corporations were nothing more than fronts for
Chinese, Africans, anarchists and other agents of disorder. The noble
soul was downtrodden. The noble soul was under attack. Decadence
was everywhere. The mind was stained with impurities.
He spoke of antiquity as though it were golden. He spoke of poets,
of dreamers as though they were messiahs. The esoteric was mixed
with the exoteric. Politics was not power but a cosmic struggle

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between good and evil. The technological, the scientific were not the
product of intellect but storehouses of occult knowledge. He evoked
the mystic nature of the human heart while driving home the necessity
of survival. Will, he said, will is everything. Without will, without fierce
will, the strong are subsumed by the weak.
He decried history. History, he explained, quoting an old adage,
history is written by the victor. Adolf Hitler, a prescient man, Adolf
Hitler was misrepresented by the Allied powers of the twentieth. How,
he asked, how could this leader, a vegetarian, a lover of nature, of
animals, be construed a force of darkness? He raised his hands in
mock surprise. War? Yes he brought war. But was it a war for profit, for
land? Was it a war to enrich his backers? No. It was the hammer of
Thor righting the wrongs done to a downtrodden people. He was
Wotan, he was Freyja. National Socialism only wished to purge the
world of its profanities.
He stood and walked among us. His voice wavered between high
and low. To the middle-aged man in the resi attire he bent and
enquired gently, ’did you know a New Age was created in the forests of
Bavaria? Hope was kindled. There, the ancient powers of Thule were
reborn. Yet it passed you by. It passed us all by.’ His hand swept
dramatically over the room. The woman clutching the Virgin began to
weep.
To the young man he issued a challenge. ‘Will you live? Will you
stand strong? Will you be the future?’
And on he went. The governors of Europe were inter-dimensional
beings bent on keeping us from our destiny. The North-Atlantic
Economic Alliance was a conspiracy of financiers who would deny us
our freedom. History, he demanded, history must be thrown away. The
slate must be wiped clean.
In the flickering candlelight, the dead-hour silence, the tension was
palpable. Flanked by his minders, his voice persistent and eager, he
was a Saviour, a Saviour of the people, a medium who gave voice to
their darkness.
His solution? His solution was simple. Return to the old Gods, he
commanded. Anew, we must find within us the heroism of the past.
New Arcadia beckoned. It would not be without pain. It would not be
without struggle. All means would be used.
Yes friends, he intoned, all means, all means will be used.

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I turn back along the Piccadilly t-Bahn. I place the imaginary hand
weapon in the pocket of my jacket. Could I really kill? Could I really
take the life of another human being? I am not sure. What would it
achieve? True, Anderson would be gone. He might lie there in a pool of
his own blood and breathe his last. Yet no sooner would he be dead
than another would replace him. And the media would descend. They
would transform him into a martyr. Every detail, every nuance of his
career would be manipulated, heightened until he became a catharsis:
a focus of grief. Laws would be enacted, outcries stoked and on the
third day he would ascend and be seated at the right hand of an
evening n-Teller.

James-Patrick Anderson. Who is he? The son of John-Werner


Anderson a man who made his fortune in the pandemic scares of the
early twenty-tens. Born in Brussels, Region-2, he was educated, briefly,
at the Sorbonne and then in Dubai. Disinherited at 25, (no reason
given), he lived among the indigenous people of sub-Polynesia for 6
years. On returning to Europe he became a director of The Institute for
Advanced Psychopolitics, London, a post he held for 13 years. In 2048,
he was mandated by the then ES president, José Manuel Rodriguez to
act as personal secretary and advisor. In 2056, the Upper Council of
Europe voted unanimously to appoint make him Minister for
Environment and Infomatics.

So how did I come, over nineteen years ago, to be standing on the


pavement in dawn light? Why was I to be taken for ‘security
consultation’ to Paddington Central?

Here is that story.

After the November meeting Niccolo spends more time at the


apartment. He brings food, he pays for wine and there are legal n-
hancers if we need them. The girls are amused if a little skeptical.
Emily laps it up, at least at first. Ami is cooler. (Though I notice her
often re-pack the food and take it with her when she works).

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Oftentimes I come in from night work to find him wandering about
the apartment dressed only in long silk stockings, a cotton vest and
smoking thin cigars. He takes calls on his p-C or inter-acts with the
holo-V. When he sees me, he smiles, gestures archly with his hand or
bows politely.

He presents me with a book. It is a bound paperback: a gesture of


status in the twenty-first. On the red dust jacket are printed the words
– New Arcadia – The Thoughts and Musings of Rainer Friedrich Möller –
Visionary and Seer.

He asks me to act as his secretary at a meeting. I am taken to a


tailor, provided with a woolen two-piece and given a silicone carry-
Case. We travel in a hired PRv to a gentlepersons club in St James.
(The meeting turns out to be with a septuagenarian media magnate by
the name of Lord Mandell, son of a former ES Commissioner. We are to
raise credit for our ‘project’. However the elderly gentleman, potbellied
and badly rouged, is barely coherent and spends most of the meeting
casting long, lingering looks my direction).

I am introduced to the two ‘minders’ from the Harrington Garden


meetings. Both Baltic, I accompany them to a run down resi-Tower in
Stratford. We ghost along corridors, use back stairs and eventually find
ourselves in a small room with two scruffy Pakistanis and a Kazak. We
are there to pick up non-legal q-Net apps. On the way back, one of the
Russians, both of whom have hardly said a word all night, suddenly
turns verbose and explains the apps are self-writing and self-altering
codecs. (Own-writing – own-changing is how he puts it). His accent
thick, his brow furrowed from effort, he informs me, ‘they will allow you
make e-notices about your Movement without people knowing. (I am
amazed). ‘Think of them as the red halibuts,’ he continues
enthusiastically. They pretend to be the one fish when they are the
other fish.’

I spend a cold February Sunday in Hyde Park. A group of us set up


stall with every other marginal interest in London. We hand out free
up-Loads and pre-packaged delicacies. For some reason we must go
under the name New Purpose. Herr Möller does not attend. Neither
does Niccolo. Niccolo does press upon us we should be polite and
gentle -his words. He emphasises them, giving a little sigh and opens
his arms as though to embrace something. The heavy-set woman from
the November meeting, Julia, is to lead us. She nods agreeably. Later
when standing at the famous corner in a bright green, ankle length
coat and microphoned, her enthusiasm runs away. She harangues, out-
shouts and presses her concerns on every available passerby. The
middle-aged man, Gordon, still in resi attire, spends much of the time

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unwrapping the delicacies, wolfing them down and muttering endlessly
about the certainty of there being snow.

I become more involved. I begin to have late night discussions with


Niccolo. He listens and encourages. When I suggest that Herr Möller
might be a charlatan, another cheap demagogue, he nods his head
pensively.
“That is a reasonable point. It is good to challenge.”
When I bring up National Socialism, Möller’s praise of Adolf Hitler,
he looks quizzical.
“I do not see where you are going,” he puzzles.
“The Genocide. The death-camps.”
“Ah! Yes I understand. But that is precisely Rainer’s point. National
Socialism’s genocide is only inexcusable because it is their genocide.
Ours, we accept.”

I ask him to explain the old Gods.


“The old gods are not in reality gods but our forgotten instincts. We
must reward strength and punish fear. Some will recoil; others will be
filled with awe. In New Arcadia bodies will be bold and power pure. A
new age is only born from the ashes of the old. We must serve and
accept destiny.”

I come back to genocide.


He lights a cigar.
“Do you deny we have committed genocide,” he asks.
“No.”
“Do you deny we have viruses that are gene-specific?”
“No.”
“Do you deny that we murdered at Hiroshima and Nagasaki?’
“No.”
“Do you deny that we created a variant of Yersinia Pestis and used
it tactically in Eurasia?”
“No.”
“Do you deny that AIDS was bio-engineered and still ravages the
un-rich of the world?”
“No.”
“Do you deny that during history we have starved millions off their
land?
“No.”
“Do you deny we have poisoned with radioactivity?”
“No.”
“Do you deny we put profit before people?”
“No.”
“Can you say our governments do not know?”
“No.”

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“Can you say that Corporations act without foreknowledge or
awareness of consequence?”
“No.”
“You see you think my friend.”
“I don’t understand.”
He cocks his head gently.
“If you were to ask many of those around you they would not
answer yes to any of the above. But they would turn away. They would
become uneasy. Their silence is their complicity.”

He elaborates on Herr Möller’s praise for National Socialism.


“Were you aware,” he asks quietly, “that Heinrich Himmler always
carried a copy of the Bhagavad-Gita during WW2?”
“No.”
“Have you read it?”
“I know of it.”
“Yes,” he smiles. “I am sure you do.”
He tips ash into a small star-shaped tray.
“Himmler claimed it reconciled his conscience when carrying out
orders for the Final Solution. I like to believe he came to understand he
was not murdering Jews, Gypsies or Slavs, but was expediting their
karma. He was an instrument of the Gods.”
A small cloud of smoke drifts from between his parted lips.
“Are you suggesting we must purge the earth?”
He does not answer directly, yet looks wistful.
“Such poetry don’t you think? Such a philosophical dilemma. Arjuna
must choose between the Pandavas and the Kauravas. He consults
Krishna: the blue-skinned, bejeweled God of the Aryans. Whatever
Arjuna’s choice, murder and destruction will result. Warriors will lose
their souls. Families will be destroyed. What we say, is let us grasp this
destiny forcefully. Let us act with conviction. Herr Möller does not
advocate power for the pleasure of power. Nor profit. No! He is a man
of vision. New Arcadia is the natural person. At home in the world. One
with the trees, the animals, one with the earth itself.”

And our discussions continue. They become deeper. Sergio explains


we must realise that all Herr Möller asks is we forsake subterfuge.
“Why murder by compromising the food chain as we have been
doing for near a hundred years?” he asks. “Why destroy our children
with unnecessary medication, vaccination and all manner of chemicals
that dull their minds? If we must fight, let us fight. Our world is a world
of wars and rumours of wars. New viruses appear every year and then
disappear. Plagues once dormant rise to life again. Bio-terror is a
constant threat. Cyber-terror a reality.”
He lowers his voice.

13
“You know we are dosed daily by a cocktail of air-borne agents. Our
water is doctored. Our food is depleted. Laser technology keeps
transients in line. Crowds can be quieted with a single ELF pulse. The
media do not lie yet they never tell the truth. The masses are stupid
and insensate. Africans, Polynesians, even many Europeans are
beyond rehabilitation.”
“So?” I ask.
“You must contemplate these things,” is all he answers. “You must
think about these things.”

It was because of this interest I was invited to the Intimacy that


April night. My involvement, my willingness to help had not gone
unnoticed. Credit had mysteriously begun to accrue in my personal
account. When I would ask, all Niccolo would say was, ‘just a little
something to help you through troubled times’. Short messages
appeared on my people-Space. Encouragements, appreciations, offers
of employment. Niccolo would unexpectedly give me a jacket or coat,
pure wool, real velvet, saying he had no use for it anymore. Invariably
it had only been worn a couple of times. On one occasion a box of
exclusive dark glasses was hand delivered to the door.
The girls became nervous: Emily in particular. Never completely at
ease with Sergio’s silken manner she began to complain.
“You such a regular little flunky to Mr Strange. What do you see in
him?”
“Flunky’s a little strong,” I protested.
“Really?” Her eyebrows arched venomously.
When we began to discuss Möller, she would slink off, muttering,
“Arcadia whatever, who cares? I’m going to get some food.” Noisily,
she would rummage about in the kitchen.
One night, drunk, she became abusive.
“You know, you boys should fuck each other. You’d be perfect
together.”
There was a moment’s silence. Then Niccolo curled a smile and
resting his hand beneath his chin asked . . .
“Why? Would you like to watch darling?”
Raising her middle finger, she disappeared to the bedroom.
Ami was different. She withdrew. She worked and stayed polite and
gave me the impression she was observing. She still talked to me and
in her way let me know what was happening. I met her one afternoon
on the UmR. She pulled me aside on a busy platform and made me sit:
her portfolio, a large transparent affair, rested against her stockinged
legs.
“I’m in a bit of a hurry. But now that we’re not in the apartment, I
want to. . .”

14
She hesitated.
“You want to what?” I asked, suddenly anxious.
“Her eyes searched mine. They were brown, with little flecks of jade
around the pupils.
“I want to ask if you know what you’re getting into?”
“Niccolo?”
She nodded.
I shook my head.
“No. I don’t.”
She took my hand. Her whole face a question.
“Do you think that’s wise?”
“I don’t know but for the first time in years I have somewhere to go.
Look, I have good clothes. I meet curious people. I just want to take it
where it goes.”
“You should be careful,” she said.

Niccolo made the invitation one April afternoon. We were strolling


through Holland Park. The leaves on the trees were fresh, the sky
streaked with white cloud.
“We are having an Intimacy in some nights. I would like to invite
you along.”
I enquired what an Intimacy was.
“Oh it is simply something informal. Herr Möller will be there. He will
not give any talk though. Instead there will be wine and food and
people will be together.”
“Will the others, the members from our regular nights be there?” I
asked.
It was one of the few times I saw Sergio di Cesare lose his poise.
“Goodness no.” he exclaimed, his expression immediately
disdainful. “They are simply foot soldiers.” His body shook quite
violently as though ridding itself of something unpleasant. “Perhaps
Julia, Miss Middleham,” he added as though an afterthought.
“Yet you are asking me.”
He stopped on the pathway. A magpie flew from the top of a nearby
tree. A cloud drifted high.
“Soon you will have to decide,” he said.
“Decide.”
“Yes decide. You have learned much. New things beckon.”
“New things?”
“Yes. You must decide soon. Very soon.”

15
Perhaps it was the deciding: the having to choose. I have always
been indecisive. I like to drift, like things to remain open-ended. I
commit but only when I know the emergency x-it is somewhere – no
matter how narrow. It is not commendable. And does not get easier
with age. Still, to that point, everything had been open. Things had
come at me and I had reacted, feeling I could walk away at any time.
Now, what was I to choose? What was I to decide?
I could not shake the feeling I was being asked into something. I
was being invited to step from one circle into another circle: from outer
to inner. How easily I could move back and forth across the lines
between these circles I did not know. Were there other circles beyond
the next circle and if so how far did these circles extend?
Then there was the element of flattery. Sergio insinuated I had been
chosen. In some way I had been tested and not found wanting. All of
which appealed to my vanity. It struck a chord with the need to belong.
Still, how many henchmen, how many murderers, how many tyrants
have embarked upon a path simply because at some point they
desperately needed to belong?
I was anxious. Not, and I must be honest, because I felt some great
moral resistance. No. I simply was uneasy with the idea of joining; of
involving myself in something I could not, at a moment’s notice walk
from. New Arcadia confused me. My feelings about it were ambivalent.
It seemed purposefully ironic and yet false.
The heavily accented and unexpected words of Herr Möller’s
Russian minder came often to mind. Despite his mixing of Halibuts and
Herrings I could clearly remember his words. ‘They pretend to be the
one fish when they are the other fish’.

I stand before the intercom and wait. Niccolo has given me a name
and a costume.
“We must be our secret selves,” he has said. “We must become our
fantasies.”
I am dressed in nineteenth style, grey silken pantaloons, a loose,
frilled shirt, a double-breasted waistcoat and olive jacket. I have a
printed invite and a quote.
‘To that high Capital, where kingly death.
Keeps his pale court in beauty and decay.’*
“Shelley,” claimed Niccolo on reflection. “You will be Shelley.”

16
The door opens and I am admitted. The same gowned man leads
me upstairs. Voices and music come to me: a shakuhachi, zither and
synthesized rendering of Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, an arched
laugh, an exclamation, a, ‘can that be possible darling?’

I am greeted with a room of about thirty people. All are in costume


of one sort or another: from the contemporary to the past, the
immoderate to the mundane.
The same candelabra burn. They are augmented by projected
symbols that ghost about the room. (I am later told they are a new
‘mystical’ language created by a professor in the Institute of Psyhco-
Liguistics, Strasbourg). Gel screens have been placed around the room.
Old MVEs play. Each one has a twentieth science celebrity theme. I
recognise a face here and there: Brent Spiner, James Mason, Leonard
Nimoy.
Gowned figures move among the ‘guests’. They carry platters on
which are arranged various delicacies: pickled sardines, breads, and
small wafer thin crackers. Some carry silver jugs from which they
dispense wine into eagerly proffered poly-cups.

I find Niccolo. He is dressed in a two-piece of fine dark wool and


carries a whip, which he has tucked carefully beneath his left arm. On
his head is a nineteenth high hat upon which a liquid-crystal star glows
- red. Over his top lip he has penciled a curling moustache
“You see my friend tonight I am the circus-master.” His smile is sly.
“One crack of my whip and they will dance.”
His eyes fall lovingly to the curled leather. Then he puts his other
arm around me. He turns serious.
“Have you decided?”
“What must I decide Niccolo?”
He stands back. His arms open wide. The whip falls to the ground. I
bend to pick it up, but he snaps his fingers. A gowned figure appears
from the shadows and lifts it for him, giving a slight bow.
“Grazie Karel.”
We move away.
“Incidentally if you should need anything,” continues Niccolo, “legal
or otherwise, Karel will assist. He is a fine fellow. There are rooms
above.” He lifts his eyes to the ceiling. “Continuous q-Net stream. Eros.
All tastes catered for. If you should need a little privacy that is. Now
where we?”
“Deciding.”
“Yes. It is simple. Are you to become a New Arcadian? Will you join
us as we embark upon our great adventure?”
“I don’t know. I’m not sure.”
“Of course.”

17
“What should I do?”
He puts a finger to his chin.
“You should mingle. Talk. Speak. Others have been where you are?
I look around.
“Is everyone here a New Arcadian?”
“Not everyone. But most are.”
He suddenly presses himself close.
“Be discreet, but look over there. In the corner. In that garish
dress.”
I turn my head slowly. Standing talking to a group of people is the
heavy-set woman, Julia. She is wearing a loose, chiffon dress. It is
vaguely Greek in style. She also wears a pair of doughty walking boots
and a wide, green eyepiece.
“Miss Middleham,” he whispers. “She is insistent. Mutton dressed
as, don’t you think?”
I nod.
“Come let me introduce you to Herr Möller.”

I am personally introduced to Herr Rainer Möller. He is seated in an


adjoining room. Reclining would be better as he is stretched out on a
plush chaise longue. A variety of young woman attend to him. They
smoke long cigarettes, fuss with each other’s hair or stare vacantly at
gel screens behind his head. Media clips play, holo-Soaps, music spots,
and fight-matches from Sydney.
Niccolo bends and whispers something in his ear, gesturing back to
me.
Möller looks up and I find myself gazing into those pale, blue eyes.
They are somehow too ecstatic. They are restless and drift about. It
seems they have difficulty focusing on me. A thin moustache hides his
top lip. His face is flat and his forehead high. He is dressed in a long
white robe, and on his balding head a synthetic laurel wreath rests. For
a moment he seems bemused then he speaks.
“I see,” he says, “an insurgent. A displaced. Young men with
dreams and nowhere to go I approve of.”
I thank him.
He appears uncertain of what to say next. From one of the gel
screens comes an aria over a pulsing beat.
Niccolo fiddles. Then interjects.
“Herr Möller is a great visionary. We are all grateful for his wisdom.”
“Yes,” I add.
One the girls, perhaps no more than sixteen, with a pale, anorexic
face, flashes me a brittle smile. She blows her cigarette smoke in my
direction.
“Our friend was just about to mingle,” continues Sergio. “He is
eager to meet with others.”
“Yes. Yes. A wise move,” Möller eventually concurs.

18
With that Sergio takes me from the room and guides me back to the
gathered guests.

I mingle as I have been advised. I meet a young woman my age. In


dark breeches, riding boots and a totally transparent off-shoulder
blouse, she extols the virtues of New Arcadia.
“It’s intoxicating. Once I dreamed of liberty. Now I find it is only in
slavery that one is totally free.”
“Slavery?” I ask.
“Yes. Willing slavery. One must destroy the sense of self. One must
be bound to others.”
The neon sigil implanted in her forearm, she explains, is an ancient
rune signifying the wolf. It is the equivalent of Mars in the Roman
pantheon. Her carers are senior bureaucrats in local Gov.
“I grew up in an off-limit resi-Tower on the South Bank,” she drawls
“c’était simplement ennuyeux”. One has to believe in something.” She
laughs flippantly and then looks distractedly to the floor.

An older woman corners me close to one of the candelabra. Her


face has been heavily surgicised. Two large grey eyes stare out at me
from under huge black eyelashes.
“New Arcadia? Yes. It’s an intriguing idea. Herr Möller I totally
believe in. What Europe needs is discipline and awe.”
She moves closer to me.
“You are already one of us?” she enquires softly.
“Not yet,” I reply. “I’m considering it.
She fingers her poly-cup. Her heavy breasts, contained in a tight
polyester work-vest, brush against my arm.
“We always need new blood,” she adds coquettishly. She blinks her
eyelids and suddenly I feel a hand slip down between my legs.
“New blood is life blood you know,” she whispers.
I extricate myself but not before she has informed me, her voice
tinged with poison, that some of Möller’s girls are privately chipped.
“Homeless waifs, he picks them up from the street. Or rather the
other one locates them for him.”
“The other one?”
“Yes. Him with the high hat and the serpentine cunning. Niccolo.”
“Niccolo?”
“You can’t see it?”

A young man, not yet out of his teens, stands alone near the centre
of the room. He is stiff and nervous. He wears a faux Met-Marshall one-
piece. A silicone visor is tipped back from his eyes and printed across

19
his chest is the legend, ‘Soul-Police – Death to the Corrupt’. His speech
is rapid and intense.
“New Arcadism is certainly a harbinger of the approaching mid-
millennium.”
His gesticulates as though convinced of the inability of others to
understand.
“It is a seed idea you see. Pluto in Aquarius calls on us to fuse death
with the Promethean concept of the gift of fire. Like Prometheus we
steal from the immortals. Our gift is violent destruction of the old.
Neptune in Aries gives glamour to strife. The meme of the age is the
holy warrior.”
A middle-aged man is concerned about transients.
“We should go into Africa overtly. Open viral warfare will be
necessary. If the Eastern Alliance will not support us we must be
prepared for conflict. Already Europe is overrun with Negroid genes.
We must do to these people what we did to the Muslims.”

It happens quickly: and easily. As I am moving about the room there


is sudden activity at the entrance. I only become aware of it when I
notice one of the gowned servers take Niccolo aside and whisper
something in his ear.
Niccolo moves quickly, snapping his fingers. Some of the gowned
servers immediately disappear to the upper rooms.
In the entrance stand two well-dressed men. They are accompanied
by three fully equipped Met-Marshalls. A conversation ensues.
Apparently civilized, for I see no evidence of aggression or threat.
One of the well-dressed men detaches himself from the group and
walks with Niccolo to the room where Möller reclines.
Some minutes later Niccolo reappears and then returns to the room.
This time he is accompanied by the Met-Marshalls.
Conversation slowly dies. The mystical images remain ghosting
about the room. On a gel-screen a pointy-eared Leonard Nimoy is
being court-martialed for treason.
Questions are asked in hushed whispers, gasps arise; small looks of
horror are shared. I am talking to Julia - her ardour is inescapable. She
steps on my foot as she leans forward to see what is happening.
“What fascists,” she exclaims, with some vigour,
Everyone falls silent as James-Patrick Anderson is led through the
room. Two Marshalls, one at each side, accompany him. Sergio di
Cesare follows, in deep conversation with the well-dressed man.
Behind them walk Anderson’s girls, now gowned in black, like a
nervous, disdainful, group of under-age priestesses.

20
I leave Paddington central nearly 24 hours later. Tired, unshaven
and not a little confused. I have been debriefed. That is I have been left
alone in a padded cell, subjected to two psychiatric tests, given one
cheap coffee and a flat tasting plate of noodles. A holo-V runs
continuously.
The charges are ‘accessory to insurgency in the company of 30
others and one, James-Patrick Anderson. I am also charged with being
a co-conspirator in insurgency with Sergio di Cesare of 22 Hogarth
Road SW5.
Near to 3pm a small man in a long white coat, deep dark eyes, with
a data-pad and hand-held enters my cell.
“You are Paul Henri Jones of 22 Hogarth Road?” he enquires.
“Yes,” I ask.
He confirms on his data pad. With a slight lift of his brow, he hands
me back my PiD, then requests my left eye to check the serial matches
my bio-Pass. On finding everything to his satisfaction, he informs me I
am free to go.
“Free to go,” I ask.
“You are free to go,” he repeats crisply.
My eyes, red and sandy from the flickering holo-V start open. I
straighten up. My limbs are stiff and ache.
“Free? You are not to going to hold me? Not going to inform
SocSupport?”
He gazes at me coolly.
“Orders are that you are free to go,” he repeats.
“Orders?”
“Orders. Yes.”
I get slowly to my feet. I take my crumpled olive jacket and put it
on. I shuffle to pass him, then stop.
“Whose orders?”
His dark eyes meet mine.
“I can’t say”
“Not even a hint.”
For a moment some strange emotion passes over his face:
Confusion, anger, defeat.
“I am just a release officer.”
“Just a release officer.”
His lips tighten.
“No hint,” I persist.
He pauses. With a deft flick of his hand-held he un-catches the door.
“He asked me to give you this.”
“He?”
“Intel-Officer di Cesare.”
I am handed a piece of paper. It is a torn page from Möller’s book –
New Arcadia. In the margin is written, in neat hand script – ‘sorry you

21
will not be joining us. Decisiveness is a quality. Still, onwards and
upwards. Greater things beckon’.
The white-coated man indicates I should leave.
And I understand. It falls into place.

40 minutes later I stepped from the Earls Court UmR. Low, oily
clouds obscured a dawn sky. The all night nutri-bars were still
scattered with lost people. Jaded tungsten spilt onto cement, washy
holo-V photons flickered in and out of stream. An occasional snatch of
a very old song hung on the air then mixed with a siren.

I walk into Green Park. In truth it does not seem like nineteen years;
it seems like yesterday and that it was another lifetime. Lives have
been piled upon lives.
A group of North American tourists walks past. With their neon over-
jackets, their little wifi antennae cocked to ensure they do not lose
their way; they are more like a school trip than a collection of mature
and serious adults. They smile weakly and carry all the requisite tourist
artifacts: a digi-pic of the Palace, (Heritage site Nr 458970-Region 3),
Jane Austen chocolate, plastic bowler hats and old Union-flag scarves.
Nineteen years later do I understand better? Nineteen years later is
it any clearer? That morning in April I made the only decision I could
make. I decided not to decide. If Möller was the bait then we were the
prey. If Möller was the lure he was also high command. Niccolo ran a
subtle game.
That morning in April I watched Sergio di Cesare almost hand pick
those who would be cuffed and disappear into the black Intel APV. No
reports ever appeared on Global-Net or any of its subsidiaries. Miss
Middleham is now a big player in local-Gov. The old man concerned
about transients is a holo-V pundit on military affairs. The intense
young man hosts a q-Net service on meditation and psycho-strategy.

22
I walk down toward Constitution Hill. Withered leaves blow against
my feet. A pale, blue sky, banks of cloud coming west, makes it a
pleasant autumn morning: a fleeting moment of beauty.

That morning, nineteen years ago I returned to a quiet apartment. A


UmR rattled underneath the dusty window. I thought of the darkened
walls, the glistening rails, the lit cars. They would be packed with early
commuters.

In the kitchen I fumbled in the fridge. The milk-pak I was looking for
came to hand. I stood and took a long drink. There was nothing, just
the silence: the silence, the disposable plates, the remains of two-day
old food and a half drunk bottle of wine.

I remember looking through the window. East, over the resi-Towers


of Putney and Richmond, the first colours of dawn were visible: a
vague watercolour of yellows and greys.
Pinned to the old wooden window frame, was a piece of paper. It
read:
‘The leaves on the trees have difficulty growing. Even summer is
touched by winter’s constant presence. Learn to be alone’.
I smiled: Ami’s strange little messages.

Copyright © Peter Millington 2009

* Adonais - Part I

An Elegy on the Death of John Keats. Percy Bysshe Shelley

23

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