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Magestic

Copyright © Geoff Wolak

Part 18
Jewellery. Goma, 2021.

Helen asked me the question, ‘Did our safari lodges sell our
jewellery?’ I had no idea and made a call, finding out that they
didn’t, and that neither did our hotels.
In the morning I issued a decree and just about made it the law in
Africa for every hotel and safari lodge to sell our jewellery. Our
Dutch and Israeli friends recruited an extra two hundred people for
President Faster and Cheaper.
Meanwhile, Jimmy had won CAR a massive contract in North
Korea, a contract to mine numerous areas, CAR’s share price
climbing. Well, when you had a chief salesman like Jimmy Silo
you’d always do well. His cold calling technique had a hundred
percent success rate.
As the summer approached, I gave my deputies more
responsibility and concentrated on the enclaves, and Mining City.
Our clever 3-D modelling software was fantastic, and a great time-
saver. I could click on a building and see who was building it, what
its schedule was. The brain-trust kids then modified the software,
and half-finished buildings could be displayed on screen as half-
finished buildings. I could alter parameters and either view the
finished article, or where we were at the moment.
Impressed by that, I put a team on the Palestinian enclave - to
digitise it. Using the same technology that Google Earth had
employed over the years, a helicopter flew low over the enclave and
digitised images for me. In my office, three A3 iPads then gave me a
three-dimensional view of the enclave, other screens displaying
work schedules.
With Jimmy in the UK, I settled down to what I was good at, and
built things.
Stateside, Brad was using Jimmy’s rhetoric to pass bills.
Mentioning future terror threats, he passed a bill that tightened the
border controls of the States, additional resources being placed with
the coastguard and with federal agencies. The DEA lost staff and the
border agencies gained staff and budget increases, in some cases
quite sizeable increases.
I was then surprised to see Brad militarise the Mexican border.
He had gained the vote of the Hispanic community and much of the
black Democrat vote in order to win the election, but now risked
alienating those Hispanic voters. His next speech then shocked me,
not in what it was, but that it came from him.
‘If an American were to travel to another country illegally, they
would face imprisonment, beatings, and deportation after heavy
fines were paid. But if an illegal immigrant comes to America we
turn a blind eye to it, and may deport only a small number of them.
‘If an America citizen, living illegally in another country, stayed
there for a few years, held down a job and started a family, they
would not be entitled to remain because of it. If the immigrants of
the world wish to be treated fairly here, then they should petition
their own governments to treat American citizens the same way in
their countries of origins.
‘There are troubles ahead - I’ve been made aware of them, and
I’ll now takes steps to return America’s right to govern its own
people, and control its own borders. We … will decide who settles
here, and with due process and law; the immigrants will not decide
for us. There must be law and order, and our borders must be
respected.
‘As such, strengthened laws will see businesses or individuals
fined ten thousand dollars for each illegal immigrant that they
employ. If the company is caught twice, that’ll be twenty thousand
dollars for each illegal. A private citizen, employing an illegal as a
nanny or housekeeper, will be fined just the same – and no excuses
will be acceptable.
‘Starting this week, additional resources will be channelled
towards repatriating illegals from this country. Some compensation
will be paid to those who have resided here and worked for many
years, since we don’t wish them to suffer unduly when they return to
their countries of origins.’
I was shocked, and called Jimmy. Jimmy explained, ‘The number
of Hispanics will grow, and become a serious issue after 2025. If
and when the economy goes to shit, the Hispanics will organise into
self-help groups along the lines of The Ark, but eventually turn
militant. So we’ll ship them out, millions of them.’
‘Will they be taken back?’
‘The various governments will be offered inducements,’ Jimmy
reported. ‘And we’ll help.’
‘We’ll help?’ I questioned.
‘Yes, helping to deter those deported from turning to crime too
early on after their return home. We’ll build apartments in various
countries, offer loans, send solar panels.’
‘Brad will never get a second term,’ I noted.
‘He’ll lose most of the Hispanic vote, but a large number of them
don’t vote anyway, and those that are entitled to don’t usually
bother. As for the rest of the States, their minds have been polarised
by the Hawaiian displaced; they’re all for kicking out the illegals.
And while we’re on the topic, keep encouraging recent Africans
emigrants to America to return – and those here with itchy feet to
stay.’
After that conversation, I checked to see how many Africans
were returning, finding that it was around six hundred a month. I
increased the budget, saying that I wanted Africans educated in The
West back here and helping to start new businesses. We soon had six
hundred a week returning from North America, a hundred from the
UK, many from Spain.

2022, Canada

‘Two or three hundred years?’ Jimmy repeated. He stared at Doctor


Singh, then took in the faces of the other members of the resistance.
‘When we opened the micro-portal, we received and isolated
various radio signals, and one was a news programme that described
the Falklands War,’ Doctor Singh explained. ‘In the broadcast, the
British lost the Falklands War.’
‘Lost it? They won it.’
‘Not where the signal was coming from.’
‘And … just where was the signal coming from?’ Jimmy puzzled.
‘An alternate earth, an alternate history, an alternate time line,’
Singh carefully stated.
‘An … alternate earth?’
Singh nodded. ‘We don’t believe that the portal would ever allow
us to travel back in time through this particular timeline, this
planet’s history.’
‘Then what the hell are we all here for?’ Jimmy loudly asked. ‘If
this can’t be fixed?’
‘It can’t be fixed, but there are other things to consider.’
‘Like what, for fuck’s sake?’
‘We can’t go back through this time line, but we can go back to
certain points in other dimensions, maybe even thousands of them,
and they all share the same basic fate as this world. Jimmy, if you
could save the people of a … a carbon copy of this world, would you
do it?’
‘Carbon copy?’
‘An almost identical copy of this world - with some slight
variations, but physically the same planet. There’d be a version of
you there, your family, people you know. The man who you sailed
here with, he’d be there … but in 1982 or 1992 – alive and well.’
‘But facing the same war as we suffered,’ Jimmy said, turning
away.
‘And many planets like that, all facing the same problem,’ Singh
said with urgency in his voice. ‘We’ve isolated thirty so far, most
very similar, some quite different.’
‘After millions of years of evolution, how could they be similar?
How could I be born on any alternate planets?’
‘I’ll start at the beginning.’ They got comfortable.

Goma, 2021

Sat on the patio, Helen and the girls at a function, Jimmy said to me,
‘I should probably tell you something about the time machine. To
start at the beginning, Doctor Singh was a clever young Indian
astrophysicist. He did his PhD on the background noise of space, but
then decided it was all wrong and dropped out for a while. You see,
he had a radical idea; it made sense to him, but no one else. He
started everything off with the idea that background noise in space
was caused by nearby parallel dimensions.’
I eased up and stared across at Jimmy, my mouth opening. ‘You
are from a parallel dimension, you big lump. I’ve been discussing
that with Shelly for years, but it never made sense – the detail you
know of this place.’
He nodded. ‘This is the first time I’ve been here, this planet. This
… is not my world, and nothing I do here will affect my own world,
my own version of earth.’
‘And if you went back?’ I asked.
‘That timeline would continue, and we’d eventually be overrun
by The Brotherhood.’
‘You can’t stop that?’ I puzzled.
‘No, not directly. There is … a plan, which is also a hope, and
that I can’t discuss with you yet. It’s … not completely hopeless, but
it is tricky, and it’s linked to success here.’ He lifted his head to the
stars and gathered his thoughts. ‘Let me start simple.
‘If you stand next to a high-speed train as it goes past, you see a
blur. But inside the train – if you weren’t looking out the window –
you wouldn’t know that you were moving at all. People live in that
space, and then later on others live in that same space.
‘Now, imagine a train travelling close to the speed of light. Ten
thousand of them would pass you in a second, just a blur, but to each
person on each train they had their own little world, unaware of how
fast they were travelling. If you took a single second in time, then all
of the people occupied it - ten thousand trains and a million people,
all crammed into an area a few metres high and wide. Take a look
over you left shoulder.’ I did. ‘See the lion stalking the antelope?’
‘Er … nope?’
‘Because they’re on a different train. They’re here, but moving
too quickly to be seen. And since we’re moving just as fast, we
couldn’t see them anyway. Open a portal, and you’d see the lion;
you’d see the people on the other trains, and stepping across is far
easier than you think, so is stepping across at varying places in their
timeline. Trying to go back in time on this train is fucking hard, and
we never mastered it. Now, consider the Big Bang; there wasn’t
one.’
‘No Big Bang?’
‘No, the universe is a circle, but … shaped like an apple. Think of
it like this: big old magnet at the centre, a solid object. From the top
of the magnet, lines of magnetism radiate outwards, curve around
and eventually hit the arse end. But the lines are not lines of
magnetism, they’re lines of pure energy. Everything … is energy in
one form or another, there’s no such thing as sold matter. Solid
matter is just energy that has cooled down a bit, it’s vibrating less on
an atomic level, and temporarily forms atoms and electrons, and
then molecules and matter.
‘From the top of the big magnet at the centre of the universe,
lines of concentrated energy flow out and around, eventually hitting
the arse end billions of years later. All this, this planet, will
eventually go back to energy.
‘Now, as the lines of energy travel out from the top of the
magnet, they split apart and cool down – for want of a better phrase,
and become strands. Each strand is an expanding universe as we
perceive it. In those universes are planets, like this old rock, and
after a few years, or decades, the strand that we’re now in will split
in two as it cools down and gets further away from the centre, the
centre being the apple core.
‘When the line splits, a complete carbon copy is created, since
there’s more than enough energy around us to split hundreds of
times and not notice it. This planet, and the molten core and its
gravity and its moon, that’s a template. And when the strand splits,
when the timeline splits, it doesn’t go anywhere in effect. It’s over
your left shoulder, but occupying the same space, like those fast
moving trains, but they’re parallel, not one behind the other – or
something like that.
‘This particular timeline split from another in 1976, which was
after I had been born to my parents, and you to yours; we targeted it
specifically because it was a recent split. If I had gone to another
timeline, then the Germans may have won the last war, or mankind
may have died from a plague. And finding the closest timeline was
real easy; we just used the minimum power settings. Since they were
so close, we only had to take a small step.
‘After Doctor Singh had thrown away his PhD, he figured that
background noise in space was coming from events in nearby
parallel dimensions. Problem was, they all thought him a bit crazy,
so he did his research in private. But when he arrived in Canada he
was a prime candidate to assist on the time machine, fronted by
NASA, and ran some of his own tests. He opened a micro-portal
when NASA had just about given up – and without them knowing
about it.
‘After that initial success he recruited other scientists, those he
knew were disenchanted with the Army’s approach to things, not
least because the Army wanted to go back and nuke the Middle East
in 1991, when the Russians were at their weakest.
‘So Singh formed a resistance movement, and eventually asked
me if I would go back through time, only not back through our own
time. It took a while to understand it all, and to see what they were
after. But, at the end of day, this planet is just as worthy of being
saved as the one next to it.’
‘I figured you’d been here many times, you know so much.’
‘No, I’ve been to many worlds many times, all almost identical, a
few subtle changes. Like you with a moustache.’
‘I had a moustache?’ I asked.
He laughed. ‘No.’
Canada

Jimmy waited till dark before approaching the field. Stood in the
open field, he took his bearings from nearby mountains, spending
almost an hour checking and re-checking his position. Knowing that
a micro portal was permanently open, he took out a small device and
switched it on, a radio signal sent, the same code over and over.
Wrapping it in a plastic bag to keep it dry, he placed it onto the
damp grass and stepped back.
At 4am he could hear a distant helicopter, and see lights towards
the nearby hamlet. Stood shivering in the cold rain, he stared at
shadows in the trees, wondering if he would make it.
Half an hour later he could hear dogs on the breeze, certain that
he would be captured. Stood there, hopping from one foot to the
other to stay warm, considered taking his own life to keep the
authorities from finding out what he knew.
By 5am the sound of the dogs had faded, but he could now see
the headlights of vehicles in the distance, still the intermittent sounds
of a helicopter. Thankfully, the weather was terrible.
A flash of blue light startled him. He turned to the left and began
running, sloshing through the mud. Reaching the illumination of the
portal, its edges shimmering brightly, he could see the laboratory the
other side, well lit and with people in white lab coats peering
towards him. He reached down and grabbed the transmitter, soon
realising that the base of the portal was a good two feet off the
ground. He ran as fast as he could manage on the wet grass, car
headlights close by now.
Reaching the portal, he jumped headfirst, a burst of light and
warmth preceding an impact with a concrete floor.
‘Close it, they’re right behind me!’
Singh cut the power, Jimmy laying on his back and panting.
Easing up with the help of the others, he sat looking at his wet
trousers and muddy shoes. Up on his feet, he took in the laboratory
and its equipment, and a few faces that he had almost forgotten.
‘How long was I gone?’
‘Hour and fifty minutes,’ Singh reported.
‘Eleven years that side,’ Jimmy reported, blowing out hard. He
took his coat off as a technician wiped down his muddy shoes.
Singh brought forwards a backpack, placing it down with an odd
look on his face, almost apologetic. Jimmy stared at it. Singh said,
‘We’ve isolated another timeline, closer than the last.’
Jimmy slowly nodded, staring at the backpack. ‘I made millions
on the stock markets,’ he idly commented.
‘We couldn’t hear any radio programmes mention you, and
you’re back before the use of wireless Internet locally,’ Singh noted.
‘I bought hotels in Africa, and a mine or two. It was going well,
but I slipped up somewhere because the CIA we all over me. I was
interviewed twice, they took DNA samples – good thinking of yours
to replace my younger self – and I gave them the slip in Seattle.
They caught up locally; another day and they would have had me.’
‘We’d like you to go through in an hour,’ Singh said after a
glance at his colleagues, seeming apologetic.
‘What’s the time here?’ Jimmy asked.
‘One o’clock, Saturday morning.’
‘Do you think we’ll do it?’ Jimmy asked after a moment.
‘Yes, we’re on schedule. We knew the first time would be the
worst, and you’ve learnt from it no doubt. But Jimmy, Monday
morning they’ll be coming through that door.’
All of the technicians brought over chairs, forming a circle,
notepads in hand. ‘Tell us what happened,’ Singh requested, some
urgency in his voice. ‘We’ll make a modified plan.’
Jimmy accepted a coffee and sat. ‘The fake passports were fine,
and the money. I almost got caught fencing the diamonds you gave
me, I’ll have to be careful in future. When I arrived back I got a bus
to Toronto and made like a tourist, bought a case and packed it out;
that survived inspection in London airport.
‘I stayed in London for two years, placing bets on horses and
making good money, studying hard, but keeping the weight down. In
1984 I got a place in Cardiff and studied my younger self, eventually
just knocking on his door. I … killed him and hid his body, taking
his place just before I – he – was due to move to London for a new
stockbroker job, not seeing my parents for almost five months, and
when I did they accepted me.
‘I traded the markets and made a fortune, bought a nice
apartment, a nice car, and all the while sent letters about disasters to
ambassadors in London. Those letters never leaked out, and I could
see disasters being avoided – so it was working well enough. I used
the name Magestic as we discussed, but the CIA was looking for me.
‘I made contact with a future British Prime Minister, and gave
him a detailed briefing. He’s due to take office in the years ahead, so
he may well make a big difference. I also gave him the chart for gold
prices for a few decades, and a few hints at technology to come, so
I’d like to think that he would make a difference.
‘The British security services paid me a visit on more than one
occasion, but never figured it out. I lived the high-life when I knew
they were watching, and they lost interest.’
‘And if you did it again?’ a lady technician asked.
‘Oh, I could do a much better job of it. And I know who I could
recruit and trust to help me.’
‘Recruit?’ Singh asked.
‘It’ll be difficult by myself,’ Jimmy insisted. ‘I need people I can
trust, and I know of one now.’
‘You told him who you were?’ they asked.
‘Yes, and he offered to help. After seven years – no problems, but
… well, I think they have him in custody.’
‘And the Russians and Chinese?’ Singh asked.
‘I speak a reasonable amount of each language now, and I warned
them both of the future to come by letter.’
‘Did they try and find you?’ Singh asked.
‘I don’t think so.’
‘Did China research coal-oil technology?’ they asked.
‘I read an article about it just before I came back to Canada,’
Jimmy informed them.
‘I have a signal from that world,’ someone said from behind
Jimmy. ‘It’s … 2017 … it’s … military … it’s … post apocalyptic.’
Everyone collectively sank.
‘Next time,’ Singh insisted. ‘Next time.’
With the briefing over, and a few ideas bounced around, Jimmy
put the backpack on, checking his fake passport and money. Stood
next to the portal he turned and looked back at the expectant faces.
‘Wish me luck.’

Goma, 2021

A week after Jimmy had revealed more about who he really was, my
head was still full of all things temporal. I was dying to discuss it
with the girls, but dared not.
But now things were different for me, and different between
Jimmy and myself. He was the outsider now, and this was my world,
that’s how I felt. I was being trained to assist him – but here, and
some day soon he’d be gone. I felt more attached to the world all of
a sudden, that realisation that this was my world, and that there were
others out there. The care and belonging I had felt for Africa I now
started to feel for the planet as a whole.
Brad had, apparently, been given his own briefing, a private one-
to-one that lasted six hours. Two people on the planet now knew,
three if you included our version of Doctor Singh, who was in a
secret location in India and busy working on his theories behind
closed doors.
In the States, Brad had passed a bill that basically paid us back
almost half of what was still owing to us from various American
states and our coffers were full, if not bursting. With this new reality
about Jimmy, and the new reality of full coffers, I continued to work
hard on the enclaves, certain that they would make a difference.
In New Palestine, Shelly had become involved after studying
satellite photographs of the enclave. She had noticed a nice beach
just outside the enclave, and a nice stretch of coastline. Without my
knowledge she had approached Abdi, and nagged that he extend the
enclave by four miles. Abdi agreed, since it was just parched soil,
and Shelly dropped a project on my desk.
‘There’s a great beach east of the Palestinian enclave, the
potential of a great coastal region. So, if we developed that region,
added another marina, it would help to generate future income and
to develop a small tourist trade.’
‘Tourism? To a Palestinian enclave? People will think of Gaza!’
‘Till they see the pictures. Abdi has agreed the land, I asked him
nicely, then sat on him and refused to move till he agreed.’
‘He agreed more land?’
‘I asked for a mile, and took four. Who’s counting? Anyway, if
you move the fence and landscape the beaches will be lovely. Put a
road at the back, then parkland, then nice apartments.’
I had been given a firm nudge, and sent additional builders up –
not wishing to be sat on till I gave in. Their work was simple
enough, the road completed quickly, the parkland down in a few
days, sand moved around on the beaches. Hundreds of labours
moved rocks and filtered the sand, trying to create a perfect beach.
They even swam out and removed rocks from the shallows, save
important paying tourists stubbing a toe.
When the hotel chains of the world saw the sketches, and
accompanying photographs of the beaches, many wished to plant a
beach hotel nearby. I sanctioned the building of twelve immediately.
Meanwhile, the dustbowl was taking shape, some three hundred
apartment blocks either complete, or soon would be, the first row of
nice villas built. A police training college had been knocked together
next to an army barracks, the Rifles in charge of both for now.
Former security staff from the occupied territories signed on, the
Israelis on the phone straight away.
‘Paul, Ben. Will these Palestinian soldiers be trained like Rifles?’
‘No, I’ve specifically forbidden it, so relax. They’ll have just
basic training, no super-drug, and a nap at 3pm each day. We’re not
creating Palestinian super-soldiers, because they might bite us on the
arse as much as you.’
‘And the Somali base nearby?’
‘Is there in case trouble breaks out. Relax, worry about your
economy instead, huh. That’s heading towards the toilet.’
Fearing a growing Israeli interest in the enclave, I ordered that the
basic dirt airstrip that the nearby Somali base offered become a half-
decent airfield that would hold a squadron of Kenyan F15 fighters.
Or two. I also had the breakwater harbour at the Somali base
increased in size, asking that Somali and Kenyan coastguard cutters
be based there all the time.
When Ben Ares popped down for a visit, we touched upon the
subject of the enclave.
‘Ben, their army will be tiny, and not trained like the Rifles. But,
should they be a problem, I’ll invade them myself and sort the
problem. But if you were to launch a raid I’d consider it an act of
war, and I’ve already signed a defence treaty with the enclave’s
provisional council. If you fire a shot, you’re at war with Rifles.’
He was not a happy bunny, but I assured him that I would take
responsibility for the conduct of the enclave, including the searching
of ships. I also pointed out that the colony offered the death penalty
for the private possession of a firearm or explosives.
We toured the massive jewellery factory, and its equally large
offices, some four hundred Israelis now working in the city. A
temple had been built near the offices, and the city now boasted
three restaurants that could be described as offering Jewish cuisine.
A week later, Rahman and al-Qa’eda reared up, and attacked
Dubai again. I had to wonder about their logic, since the city was
dying anyway. A bomb had gone off in Dubai’s tallest tower,
another building set-alight. The economic damage may have been
great, in another time, but now it hardly made the news.

Stateside, Brad was earning friends on the right and losing them on
the left, and I’m sure that Sanchez was turning in his grave. The TV
news showed Hispanic illegals being deported, businesses being
raided or shut down for employing illegals. Unemployment rates
amongst Hispanics soared, even if they were legal, but Brad held
firm.
Brad told a TV interviewer, ‘When a person lands at JFK they
show their passport, because that’s international law. If someone
wishes to come and live and work here … then they apply to do so –
within the laws of this land!’
Studying a political analysis website, I could see Brad gaining on
the right and losing on the left, but overall he was doing OK. Jimmy
then waded in with a TV interview.
‘During 2025 and after, there will be the danger of high
unemployment and civil unrest here in America. In the years
following 2025, some groups of Hispanics will turn militant and
fight the authorities, making some areas no-go areas, hundreds of
police offices and soldiers being killed.’
That frightened right-wing America, who now called for even
tougher action. Landing in Goma a week later, Jimmy gave an
interview to our TV station.
‘New Kinshasa is a beautiful city, and the Democratic Republic
of Congo has done well. But unchecked immigration by those
without jobs could spoil all that. Control of the people, and
application of the law is important in any country. If we allowed it,
we’d have millions of unemployed people in our region and beggars
on the streets. That would harm business, and investment.
‘That’s not saying that we don’t like the people from other
countries, that’s saying that we’ll help people in their own countries,
and allow movement with legal paperwork. We help the Ugandans
in Uganda, and we help the Kenyans in Kenya, but we don’t allow
anyone to just move where they please and put up a tin shack.
‘President Kimballa is in office to govern the people of the
Congo, not to govern the people of any other nation. His first loyalty
is to his own citizens, and to consider overseas workers afterwards.
‘Personally, I don’t like to see Africans with an education going
to work in The West. I think they should be here, making things
better for their homeland. If they work in The West to get experience
and come back, then fine.
‘As for the foreigners in New Kinshasa, they are all legal; we
know who they are and they have papers, invited here to do jobs that
locals can’t do yet. And working alongside these Westerners, our
people learn to do the jobs themselves.
‘I am all in favour of people mixing, but done so with control and
the rule of law, not done without planning, and not like the
Mexicans climbing over the fences on the American border.’
When he arrived at the house, I asked about the situation in
America. Jimmy began, ‘There was a time when American
politicians realised that their health service and welfare bill was a
giant Ponsi scheme; the new arrivals paying for those already in it.
The thinking was that new migrant workers would increase the size
of the population and help to prop-up the welfare bill and pensions
years later.
‘The health dividend eased that greatly, but it also means that
Americans will live longer, and their obesity problem hasn’t gone
away. Senator Pedersen’s own health insurance company now
screens out obese people, or charges a great deal more. People are
living longer, and that’ll stretch the pension payments greatly.
‘Brad will soon tackle that, and people who’ve been injected with
the drug will be told to retire ten years later - and to contribute more
to their own pensions. It’s a ticking time bomb, unfortunately, but he
will hit it head on - or die trying!’
‘Will he get re-elected?’ I asked.
‘He doesn’t care. He’ll tackle every problem I give him and do
what he can, and to hell with it.’
‘Hispanics are not happy.’
‘They’re illegal, they have no rights – certainly not to be
complaining about it. Besides, I know what’ll happen, and they need
to go.’
‘Mexican border sewn up tight?’
‘Getting that way, as well as Mexico’s border with Guatemala.
And I’ve given the Mexicans money to ship South Americans out.
America used to gain people every year, now they’re starting to lose
them, but it’s a decade or two too late.’

A week later I had a visit in the Pentagon building from some of the
brain-trust kids.
‘We’ve been working on the drug to slim down the pigs,’ they
said.
I had to stop and stare. ‘Slim down … pigs? Are our pigs
overweight?’
They smiled. ‘It’s a drug for humans, sir.’
‘Ah,’ I realised, and I remembered the visit to the pig sheds. ‘Yes,
yes. So, how’s it going?’
‘We think we have it, the trial on the first hundred humans is
being conducted now, and so far there are no side effects.’
‘And their waistlines?’
‘Much better, sir. But they need another injection if they put the
weight on, which is what Mister Silo wanted.’
‘He did?’
‘Yes, sir. They have to keep buying more.’
‘Ah, good idea. And it could be worth a fortune to us. What do
you need?’
‘We’d like to create our own pharmaceutical company here, sir,
and then sell the drug locally first.’
‘You’ll have everything you need,’ I promised. I sent for my
deputies and instructed them, asking the group, ‘When do you think
it will hit the shops?’
‘I may be six months, sir, if all goes well.’
‘Try and accelerate it, conduct a bigger trial; I want to make a lot
of money from this ready for 2025.’
I informed Helen that lunchtime.
‘Could be worth more than our gold,’ she suggested. ‘Just think
of the women who’ll want it; they can eat chocolate all day and then
just pop a pill.’
Security for the group was duly tightened, armed bodyguards for
the key researchers; I had PACT take on board the project’s secrecy
until the drug was ready, my target audience being the chocolate
munching women of the world.

Horseback

Jimmy washed his bloodied hands in cold river water. Standing, he


took in the view, a wooded river valley leading to gentle hills devoid
of trees. ‘It’s beautiful. I guess it’s what the original settlers saw;
virgin territory.’
Corporal Diaz straightened, taking in the view, stood in his drab
green uniform with his hands on his hips. ‘It’s also deadly if you
have no food, tools or weapons, or if you don’t know what the fuck
you’re doing.’ He pointed at Jimmy’s cut hand. ‘That OK?’
‘Be gone by the morning.’
Diaz took a moment. ‘You going to explain that at some point,
buddy? And back there; you killed those three men like they were
made out of straw. You going to explain that?’
‘At some point,’ Jimmy acknowledged with a smile.
They grabbed their heavy backpacks, trudging slowly onwards,
always north and towards the Canadian border. Diaz had carried an
M16 rifle, Jimmy wore an AK47 slung and a pistol on his hip. They
had already glimpsed a bear, but it had been more afraid of them and
scampered off.
‘So, this place … Manson, that’s where the British Army is?’
Diaz asked.
‘That’s what I heard.’
The next day they found a road, but decided to avoid people;
those that they had met so far had tended to shoot first and say hello
afterwards. They crossed the road, pressing on along a little used
track. Finding a wooden cabin, partly burnt, they dropped their
packs and investigated, weapons ready. Inside the cabin they
discovered three bodies; two charred, the third partly eaten by
animals.
Diaz said, ‘That one - she killed the other two, burnt them and the
cabin, then killed herself.’ He pointed at a photograph above the
fireplace. ‘Parents and daughter by the look of it.’
Tinned food was liberated, powdered milk, but little else.
‘Diaz?’ Jimmy called from an outhouse.
Diaz came running, weapon ready. Jimmy pointed. ‘Saddles. So
where are the horses?’
‘They probably let them go.’
‘If they were broken-in, raised tame, then they wouldn’t have
gone far.’
Leaving the outhouse, Diaz pointed towards a large field.
Reaching the open gate, they could see four horses grazing happily
on the far side.
‘You know horses?’ Diaz asked.
‘I was having lessons a few years back.’ Jimmy turned. ‘We’ll
need food for them, and the householders probably grew their own.
C’mon.’
They discovered an overgrown vegetable patch towards the track,
beyond it a line of apple trees, a dozen apples collected by each of
them.
Back at the field, Jimmy tried to whistle. ‘Never learnt to fucking
whistle,’ he cursed. ‘You?’
Diaz dropped his apples, put two fingers in his mouth and created
a loud whistle, repeated many times. The horses were now staring
across, the first starting to amble towards the humans, the previous
providers of sustenance.
A full twenty minutes later the first horse nervously approached,
sniffing the air. Jimmy tossed it an apple, soon gobbled up and
munched, a second following. The horse edged closer. Holding
several apples, Jimmy stepped to it and halted, standing perfectly
still. Five minutes later the horse was close enough to sniff the
apples, Jimmy holding one out on his upturned palm. The horse took
the apple and munched it loudly, the remaining three horses closing
in, Jimmy tossing them apples.
The first horse, the most confident, allowed Jimmy to rub its
nose. ‘Hello there,’ Jimmy quietly offered.
Diaz eased forwards, offering an apple to a second curious horse.
‘What now?’ he whispered.
‘Now we take a few days to get to know them, them us, and for
them to get used to saddles again. In the meantime, we close the
gate, move the bodies and set-up a happy home.’
With the three bodies buried, Jimmy marked the graves with a
shovel, and a photograph in a glass frame from above the fireplace,
an image of the once-happy family. He joined Diaz on the porch.
‘We fucked it all up, man,’ Diaz stated, focused on the graves.
‘Fucked it all up big time.’
Jimmy took a moment to stare at the graves. ‘Attacking China
was a mistake; your President fucked the whole world in one go and
started the war.’
‘I never voted for the arsehole.’
‘Can you keep a secret, Diaz?’
‘Who’d I tell?’ Diaz scoffed.
‘You’ve seen me heal, you’ve seen how fit and strong I am, how
little sleep I need, but you seem to accept it.’
Diaz shrugged. ‘I’d be dead without you, man. You got me out
that camp – fucking Texans would have sent me back to Mexico. I
was born here man, a serving corporal, and those fucking rednecks
wanted to deport me, or lynch me.’
Jimmy gently nodded, then turned his head and made eye contact.
‘In Manson there’s a secret facility. Inside it is a time machine. I’m
… from another time.’
‘Shit…’ Diaz slowly let out.
‘And I need a favour.’
‘Anything, man.’
‘It’s important that I get to Manson, because I may be able to go
back in time and alter all … all this. If we run into trouble, I need
you to do everything you can to get me there, even if it costs you
your life.’
Diaz stared back. ‘You can alter this?’
Jimmy nodded. ‘I think can, at least I hope I can.’ Wistfully, he
added, ‘I just need to figure a way to stop your fucking President
from nuking China because of your economy, and your economy not
failing because of OPEC, and of OPEC not dropping the dollar.’
‘Jesus,’ Diaz let out.
Jimmy stood. ‘I found a syringe in the bathroom. Take off your
jacket and roll up your sleeve, I’m going to inject you with my
blood.’
‘Inject me … with your blood?’
‘Afterwards you’ll be just like me: fucking indestructible.’
‘Shit…’
The horses accepted apples twice a day every day, Jimmy and
Diaz getting to know them, Diaz improving his strength and fitness.
On the third day, Jimmy showed the horses a basic rope harness and
bit, getting them bridled eventually, the bridles removed at dusk.
That following day, Jimmy led the horses around on a rope, each in
turn, running and jogging.
‘They seem OK,’ Jimmy told Diaz. ‘But I’m no expert. And I’ve
no idea how to check their shoes.’
In the morning, Jimmy tied his favourite horse to the fence,
stroking and patting it for five minutes. They seemed to have an
affinity. It took a while for Jimmy to figure out the saddle assembly,
instructing Diaz where he could. Finally ready, Jimmy saddled his
favourite horse, leading it around the field before tying it to the
fence again.
An hour later, with Diaz stood ready, Jimmy checked the saddle
position, tested that it wouldn’t slip, and mounted up. Diaz smiled
widely as the horse simply stood there.
‘Untie me,’ Jimmy called.
Diaz released the knot, tossing Jimmy the rope, watching now
from the fence as Jimmy walked the horse around the field for half
an hour. Back at Diaz, he said, ‘Your turn, Corporal.’
Jimmy held the horse, rubbing its nose as Diaz mounted up.
‘Slow gentle kicks with your heels. Talk to her, reassure her, pat her
neck.’
Diaz dug his heels in and walked the horse around the field.
‘How do you turn?’ he shouted back.
‘Pull the rope with your left or right hand, turn the horse’s head.’
Diaz survived the experience, back with a huge smile. ‘We’re like
proper cowboys, man.’
‘Release your left foot, hold the big bit in front of your groin,
move your weight forwards, then right and down, keeping hold on
the rope.’
Diaz landed on his back, laughing hard. Unbridled, Jimmy
rewarded the horse with apples.
Four days later, Jimmy and Diaz, travelling companions, sat atop
their horses, the final two horses roped behind and carrying their
back packs. From a gentle rise they looked back at the cabin.
‘Could have stayed there, man,’ Diaz said. ‘Vegetables and all,
and fucking apples.’
‘You have to keep moving, because it would be too easy for me
to just stop, just stop and try and have a life.’
They turned their horses north.

Mexico

On a visit to Nairobi, I met Jimmy in a new hotel that our property


business had built. He was booked in, I’d be flying back later, and
we met in the bar.
‘Hello stranger,’ I offered as I sat.
‘Well, someone has to try and fix the world whilst you’re busy
fixing Africa.’
I wasn’t sure if I liked the dig at me. ‘Is there something else I
should be doing?’
‘Probably, but I’m not sure these days. Africa and The Middle
East is the problem to fix for 2025, my efforts in the wider world are
for … after that, assuming that 2025 is dealt with to some degree.
Anyway, need you to gear up on helping Mexico.’
‘Mexico?’
‘Need to ease the pressure on Brad. Best way to do that is to
make Mexico less of a shit-hole, and more attractive to those being
kicked out.’
‘They don’t have much industry or mining, except silver and iron
ore,’ I pointed out. ‘And their coal production is limited; they import
some.’
‘First, they have old coalmines that are not worth drilling, but
may be worth coal-oil liquid technology. Second, they have more
coal than they realise, but its deep under tough rocks.’
‘Less of a problem for liquid extraction,’ I realised.
‘I’ve already asked the Mexican Government for permission to
re-work old mines and to sink new wells. CAR will handle it, but
use the latest liquid technology, and we’ll see if we can’t keep the
lights on in Mexico City a while longer. They have a coachbuilders,
so send them more electric batteries suitable for buses, and the new
solar panelled buses.
‘Then, get the property company to buy land where I’ve arranged,
and build condos and hotels and sell them. We’ll cover our costs, but
it will employ local labourers and encourage tourism. Then we’ll get
CAR to attack their copper deposits, and I know a few that the
Mexicans don’t know about. We’ll break even on it, but that’s not
the point – we need to create jobs where we can.
‘I’m also encouraging the Mexicans to increase the size of their
immigration service, and they’re starting to chuck out South
Americans. Send them some money.’
‘I could subsidise a few weekly flights from Europe to Mexico,’ I
offered.
Jimmy nodded. ‘It all helps. But CAR will create the most jobs in
the short term. Still, you have a knack for thinking of things that I
miss, so see what you can do.’
‘Brad getting a lot of heat?’ I asked.
Jimmy reluctantly nodded. ‘It was always going to be this way,
and his majority isn’t great. It’s been good to see that America has
shifted left a little, become a little more caring towards its own
citizens, but the media is still controlled by corporations with a
political agenda, and there are plenty of powerful Americans who
think that America should stay on top at any cost – even if that
means forcing the rest of the world to conform by force.’
‘We knocked the rich back a bit,’ I offered.
‘Not enough, and it’s a constant process. The greatest danger they
face … is if the super-rich and the powerful get into a situation
where they’re so rich – and control the media so much – that the gap
between rich and poor will be widened to the point where there’s no
fixing it. It’ll be something you’ll need to look at if I’m not around.’
I nodded my agreement, and sipped my beer. ‘People listen to
you more than ever, so a few good speeches on the matter may
help.’
‘I’ll be making them as we get closer to crunch time, when
people’s minds are focussed. I met with the American oil industry
last week and showed them all the untapped wells, and capacity, and
we’re reasonably sure that the 2025 shutdown won’t cause a jump in
oil prices. CAR has capped off twenty wells around Cuba and Haiti,
some in the gulf, and I pointed towards additional Gulf reserves,
some in Asia.’
‘American coal-oil having an effect?’ I asked.
‘Some, but not enough; I have Brad looking at it. And the take-up
of electric vehicles is still slow. Some states have introduced the
electric buses, especially California and Florida, but others are being
slow. And to most affluent Americans, electric cars are what poor
people drive.’
‘I’m still bringing back Africans from Europe and the States,’ I
mentioned.
‘Good, keep at it, especially the States. More we can bring back,
the less trouble later. When 2025 hits and the economy slumps,
people will turn their anger towards the social deadwood - and
foreigners.’
‘How’s the propaganda going?’ I asked with a grin, having seen
some of the films.
‘Very well – Americans can easily grasp a concept if its on the
big screen, a hero and babe to save, but they’re not so big on reading
the papers and figuring it out. They all now see Russians and
Chinese are brothers in arms against Muslim terrorists, which makes
it hard for the media to portray the Russians and Chinese in a poor
light.
‘Besides, companies like CAR and others are truly international,
and they have an effect; a nudge from the board of CAR can
influence politicians. Other US companies are becoming truly
multinational, some with my help, and that makes it hard for a US
politician to criticise China when the largest employer in his home
state is part owned by the Chinese, a company that funds his election
campaigns.’
‘We didn’t give Brad that much after all, and got some back.’
‘My campaigning helped there, and Brad was frugal in his
spending. He did most of his work on the social media sites like
Facebook and others, a viral campaign. That’s the way of the future
for US politics, not kissing babies on doorsteps.’
‘You’ve been to North Korea a few times,’ I noted. ‘Seems to be
going well.’
‘I flooded them with food and fuel, and asked nicely afterwards
for modest changes to the regime. Coal-oil is making a massive
difference there, and private ownership is now being tolerated. But,
now that they’ve started that process, it’ll be impossible to stop. And
you … you’ve been making friends with the Iranians.’
‘I flooded them with food and fuel, then asked them nicely
afterwards to lower the rhetoric,’ I said, making Jimmy smile. ‘Most
of the international sanctions have been lifted, and they’re selling
more oil to the Chinese. They know they’ll be hit bad in 2025, and
they’re terrified.’
‘We should have tried that approach before; cut the sanctions and
played nice – then asked for favours.’
‘Israeli economy is struggling,’ I noted.
Jimmy made a face and nodded. ‘It’s unsustainable with their
defence spending, but the US military hide the donations well
enough. US taxpayers now contribute twenty billion a year to Israel,
and since I described the threat from The Brotherhood that’s hard to
argue against.’
‘Has New Palestine had an effect?’ I asked.
‘On the psyche of the Middle East it has, because so much
emphasis was put on the Palestinian struggle before, and on two
small areas of land. Now people can see the Palestinians leaving, so
how can they try and back the Palestinian’s cause – when it looks
like the Palestinians themselves have abandoned the land.’
‘Any signs of a peace dividend in Israel?’
‘No, because they still get the odd rocket lobbed over. The
reduction in tension has not come from your enclave, its come from
a changed Iranian attitude, and a diminished Hezbollah. I also had a
word with the Syrians a while back, and pointed towards what the
Somalis did to Tehran. They got the message.’
‘By 2025, I could have a quarter million Palestinians in the
enclave. I’m building taller towers to make better use of the land,
but I don’t think Abdi cares if we expand it further.’
‘As I said, the greatest benefit has been the perception that the
Palestinians are leaving, even if most of your people are from
outside the occupied territories. The Palestinians are getting less
support now from The West. Oh, while I remember, the UN is now
producing those household wind turbines for a few countries – I had
them sent the designs.’
‘I heard. I’ll ship more to Mexico and Central America; they’re
only thirty dollars a go locally. Costs as much to transport them.’
‘Brad now has private agencies deporting the illegals, and that’s
working quite well. Just a few small problems when people with
papers were shipped out by mistake, over-zealous private operators
on a commission. In California, hundreds of small agencies are
popping up, working like bounty hunters under license. They bus
people south to the border and collect their reward money, many of
them Hispanic themselves.
‘They even have private agencies on the border now, nabbing
people and handing them over for their bounty. But one innovative
group crossed the border after bypassing US soldiers, grabbed a
bunch of local villagers, brought them back and collected their
bounty.’
I laughed.
‘US soldiers now get a small bounty for each person caught as
well, just fifty dollars, but it buys the beers. And the new Governor
of Texas, he thinks it’s his God given mission to repatriate as many
as he can. In another time - and another place, he would have made
Texas independent, and fought The Brotherhood in Mexico.’
‘You think we’ll beat them this time?’ I delicately enquired.
‘With everything that the world’s armies now know about them?
Hell, if they lose ground now then they deserve to die. I’ve given
them blow by blow accounts of how it will happen, where and
when.’
‘You … optimistic?’
‘Of the military campaign, yes, but not of the economic and
political. Basic human instinct is to be downright miserable and
nasty to your fellow man when your belly is empty; it’s easy to
make rash decisions then.
‘When 2025 hits, I think we may be able to condition people
enough to expect it – and accept it and move on. But if The
Brotherhood set off bombs in Europe, then attitudes will change
quickly, and European stock markets will crash. That’s the danger
early on, more so than being invaded. And don’t forget, Britain has
two and half million Muslims; a time bomb waiting to go off.’
‘And if The West hits Pakistan with a pre-emptive strike?’ I
nudged.
‘Civil war in the UK, and complete economic collapse; and that’s
something I experienced first hand, before I set off on the Long
Voyage.’
‘And if the rise of The Brotherhood is delayed - what can I
expect?’
‘Well, I’ve already done what future Republican Presidents
would have done, not least with the illegals in the States. The
movies have brought the nations close together, and the multi-
national corporations are making it hard to start wars. I’ve knocked
back the big banks before they took down the world economy, but
they are back to their old tricks already.
‘I’d have to say … that American politics will still be the biggest
issue, the rich poor divide and the idea by some of the rich and elite
in America that they can turn the world into one large company with
themselves on the board of directors.
‘That’s not actually an idea that I completely disagree with, but to
them its about control and power, with me it would be about unity
and peace – plus a fair deal for the little guy. Their vision of the
future has all the power in the hands of the banks and corporations,
and debt is used instead of warfare; if a nation can be fooled into
borrowing too much from you, then you own them - and don’t need
to fight them.
‘It’s the same principle that was used in Africa before we arrived
on the scene: keep them poor and subservient, don’t give them a
chance to grow, and keep taking the ore. If the US banks can get
Syria and Iran in debt to them in the future, then great.’
‘And China?’
‘China will suffer from its own success; their middle classes will
start to grow in influence and have a political effect. They’ll go the
same way as Russia, watered down socialism where capitalism is
good. Just as China gets to the point where it feels that it can throw
its weight around, its own people will stop it.’
‘What are you doing with trees that I read about?’
‘Replanting trees in the American mid-west, the old dust bowl.
We’re drilling wells and pumping water with wind turbines,
hundreds of them - that will become thousands of them, and the
irrigated areas are being planted with trees that are already a few feet
high, some seeded.
‘In the wetter areas, we’re employing local labour to dig trenches
to form small canals, and planting trees along the banks; they create
small eco-systems. I’m aiming to plant a couple of million trees, and
that helps with soil erosion in years to come. California has a
chronic water shortage already, and it’ll get worse, so we’re looking
at pipes from the north or desalination using solar energy.’

Back at my desk the next morning, my head was full of post-2025


ideas, and I found myself stood in front of a map of the world. With
my hands in my pockets, I spent ages just staring at various
countries, mountain ranges and rivers.
Getting to work on Mexico, I put a team of brain-trust kids and
volunteers together, outlining the need to boost the Mexican
economy. They went off to do a study and report back. My CAR
representative - and they had their own offices here - popped up for
a cup of tea, and we went through my plans for Mexico. First, I
ordered additional surveys and bore samples to be taken right across
Mexico. After all, there may be something under the ground that we
didn’t know about, and that Jimmy didn’t know about either.
I ordered more electric buses from within Mexico, certain to keep
their coachbuilders busy for many years, and sent five thousand
Chinese electric cars to be used as taxis.
My next meeting was with the property business, which was now
a listed company and technically not ours to boss around. But, as
with CAR, we held the largest minority of shares. They promised to
send a team out to Mexico straight away and to start buying land –
or leasing it, since the Mexicans still did not allow foreign
corporations to own land.
But Jimmy had set me thinking about trees, and over lunch I
discussed it with Helen. She mentioned that she was already
involved with tree planting in a few small areas, so I asked if those
few small areas could become numerous large areas. She told me –
firmly but politely - to do it myself. After lunch I put a team
together, and asked that they start on Kenya first.
I wanted canals dug from Lake Victoria, not purposefully to take
more water - but to improve the trees and wildlife in that area.
Volumes would be hidden, little mention made of the fact that some
of the canals would be a hundred miles long. Following Jimmy’s
example, I ordered wells drilled and water pumped using wind
turbines, the water being pumped into areas where trees were now
scarce.
The tree-hugging team set off, and threw up fences around
saplings, the green shoots otherwise to be eaten by passing grazers
and elephants. Acacia trees did well on the savannah, but few other
species of tree thrived. They identified a tree species in the Congo
that was also indigenous to Kenya, and so young trees – under six
foot tall – were dug up and transported, being transplanted into the
Kenyan savannah in clusters and fenced off. Those fences contained
holes for certain animals, but would keep the larger grazers out.
When CAR reported the find of a significant silver deposit in
Mexico, I negotiated directly with the Mexican Government.
Temporary homes were constructed around the mine, CAR hiring
some six thousand people, the planned mine covering an area some
six miles across. I made sure that the wages were above average, and
laid on electric buses for workers to commute to local villages and
towns free of charge.
I had created my first jobs in Mexico and felt good about it. The
next part was easy enough, I just needed to join the dots. I contacted
CAR and asked if they could give employment priority to Mexicans
kicked out of the Sates, those that had the skills. I sent Brad a note,
and he agreed to cooperate, those able-bodied Mexican men
returning home given a grant to apprentice at a mine; Uncle Sam
would pay the apprenticeship costs for a year.
CAR had taken over thirty old coalmines, the former owners
stunned at the request to mine the worn out old seams. Our people
plugged up holes, drilled other holes, then poured in the first stage
chemical. A good amount of second stage distillation was necessary,
but coal-oil soon appeared from small on-site refineries. In the local
town, the petrol stations took delivery of the refined gasoline,
reprocessed at existing petrochemical refineries, and consumers
could fill up with slightly cheaper petrol.
But the main benefit of the coal-oil came when a coal-fuelled
power station was converted to run on coal-oil instead. Imports of
coal from the States eased, and the costs to the state electricity
company were lessened, the first of many such planned moves.

Biblical proportions

The Palestinians had been using a large marquee tent as a temporary


mosque, but now asked to begin construction of a mosque. I looked
at my plans, soon realising that I had not included one, so suggested
that they design their own.
That led to a note from the Saudis, who said that they would not
only design it, but build it as well. They sent me the designs and I
had to laugh; it was a replica of the Golden Dome in Jerusalem.
With more Palestinian builders now in the enclave, and skilled at
putting up the standardised apartments, I pulled out some of the
Kenyan builders, making sure that all the Palestinian men were fully
employed. Apartment blocks were rising at the rate of one a week on
average, the steady trickle of people being – well - steady. But I was
pleased to see more families arriving, including those without a
paternal head of the family. I instructed that the mothers and
daughters be given welfare if they couldn’t find work.
The UN then sent a very polite note about the enclave, which
translated to: you left us out of it and are making us look bad,
arsehole! After I had stopped laughing, I sent them a note, giving
them permission to do whatever they liked in the enclave, subject to
approval by the provisional council. They got straight to work.
Tented cities popped up, UN aid workers and medics taking up
residence and showing how caring they were. UN grain, which had
no use around Africa these days, was duly delivered, and schools
received more equipment, even foreign Arabic teachers.
Three months later, we ran out of families to put in apartments,
the apartments now rising faster than we had warm bodies arriving
by ship. As had happened in other areas, builders used their spare
time to buy land from us and build their own houses, and we soon
saw the first sanctioned private sale of a property. The beach hotels
were nearing completion, one already operating and attracting an
oddly motivated crowd. They were nearly all Arabs, and were flying
down from Cairo or Amman so that they could use Dinars - and give
something back to the Palestinians.
It was political protesting holidaying, and made me smile. Still, it
put money into the local economy. An Israeli documentary about the
enclave, filmed by Jordanian cameramen, showed the beaches and
hotels, parks and apartments, and missed most of the dustbowl. The
tall Saudi tower was filmed, the airport and the scuba centre. The
floodgates opened.
I had to wonder if the Israelis were trying to make the enclave
look good, or if it had been unintentional. Either way, Palestinians
from the occupied territories applied to Israeli to emigrate, knowing
that they would receive a small grant from us. That first week after
the documentary, shown in the occupied territories and Israel, two
thousand families made the journey down the Red Sea. They
occupied apartments, and we were soon watching their kids playing
on the beaches, no Israeli helicopters overhead.

My time was typically split between doing the mundane Presidential


stuff - functions and the opening of hospitals, to running the macro
elements of the economy, to my pet projects. I had lost interest in the
Arab enclaves to a degree, and concentrated on either Mining City
or the Palestinian enclave, an eye on Mexico.
Lucy then gave me a few ideas for the Palestinian enclave. ‘A
university,’ she suggested.
‘University? There’s hardly enough teenagers to warrant a
school!’
‘But there will be in time, and the university would be like here –
for people from all over to study, and to pay fees. It would help the
local economy.’
‘It might,’ I realised. ‘At least – it may cover the teachers
salaries.’
‘And then a teaching hospital,’ Lucy added. ‘Again, people
would study there, and if it was a good hospital you could charge for
operations.’
I went back to the drawing board, sketching out the position for
an Arabian regional university and a teaching hospital,
commissioning the building work straight away. That led, inevitably,
to a request from the Saudis that they have a hand in both projects,
and I agreed that they fund a third of them respectively, and a third
only; I had images of the university being a little on the radical side.
But no sooner had the ceremony taken place, the cutting of the
ground on the university, than the enclave suffered it first terror
attack. A small boat from Yemen had evaded the local patrols
somehow, and landed at dawn near the main Palestinian port. They
stormed ashore and began firing indiscriminately for half and hour,
the Rifles eventually killing the Yemen al-Qa’eda operatives.
It was a shock, and I uttered a few words, smashing furniture in
my office. Calling the commander of the combined naval base in
Somalia I offered to go up there and kick him in the balls, before
ordering Kenyan F15s up that evening. They blew several large
holes in the main runway of Sana’a City airport. That resulted in
much condemnation of my actions from the Arab world and The
West, but I didn’t care. I went on TV and threatened to invade
Yemen if necessary.
Jimmy called. ‘You’re behaving like an Israeli,’ he calmly stated.
‘How so?’ I challenged.
‘When Palestinians set-off bombs in Israel, the Israelis send over
warplanes - or invade. Now you know how they feel.’
The parallels were there, and I apologised to the Yemen
Government - who now feared for their lives, Abdi sabre rattling
towards them. Naval patrols were increased, extra Rifles placed
onshore, but paradise had been lost. Or so I thought. The following
day, the tourists all mobilised into a march and protest, stating firmly
that they would not be scared off. Bookings continued. We recruited
additional would-be sailors, and the tiny Palestinian navy grew,
twenty-four hour patrols organised.
The following week, three thousand families appeared, up from
the weeks before, and I was now back to increasing the building
rate. I even sent more African builders to the enclave.
Meanwhile, the less controversial area of Mining City was
growing rapidly, fifty buildings being worked on at once, more than
a hundred thousand builders of one description or another, many
from outside the region.
When someone suggested that we may grow to the point where
we have so many mines we run out of ore, I commissioned a study.
That study suggested that African ore would last three hundred
years, so I was reassured. Still, I adopted a different policy. The
corporation encouraged mines to be opened, assessed, but to then
adopt the policy of “just ticking over”. In other words, we would
soon have many more mines, we would know what was there, but
we would not exhaust them.
Extra mining surveys were conducted in Angola, Namibia,
Central Congo, Southern Sudan and even Chad. Ore was found in
many new places, assessed and left. Working along those lines, I
made a move that would have ramifications, but without realising it.
A group of CAR teams were tasked with sinking wells offshore,
right around the African coastline, to judge future potential.
When Jimmy saw the detail of the scheme, he commented, ‘I
know where some of it is, but to tell the truth, ninety-five percent of
the coast has never been tested.’
Months later, when CAR had found good pockets in many places
unknown to Jimmy, he ordered the findings kept secret.
I called him. ‘Why is the CAR oil survey being kept secret, oh
great one?’
‘Why do you think, lord and master of all you survey.’
‘You tell me.’
‘If there’s more oil than we know about, then what affect will it
have on the Middle East, before and after 2025?’
‘Ah, yes; could knock them lower, oh great one,’ I conceded.
‘Find it, cap it off, but leave it for a rainy day – Mister President.’
CAR spent money on exploration, reported to its board its
findings, but kept the detail hidden from the wider world. They had
become secret agent oil explorers. And as such secret agents, I asked
them to survey both the land around the Palestinian enclave, and the
waters.
A month later, CAR confirmed the oil, and that it wasn’t deep.
They capped it off as requested and moved on, but found another
small oilfield just at the western edge of the enclave, a third where
Shelly had claimed the land for beaches. On land they found iron ore
and copper as expected, just ten miles from the back of the enclave,
but in quantities worth extracting.
As with much of Somalia, especially the northern area that was
Somaliland before integration, ore was taken where found, and little
additional exploration took place. The rear of the enclave was a long
way from anything, and the mountain ranges might have suggested
that moving the ore to the sea was the best bet. I got Abdi on a video
link.
‘How’re things in rainy Goma?’ Abdi asked.
‘Fine. How’re things in dry Mogadishu?’
‘They are … dry and warm.’
‘Listen, there’s iron ore and copper under the ground at the rear
of the Palestinian enclave. It’s in an isolated area, difficult roads,
and would best be extracted and moved by ship. Could the
Palestinians remove it under license from you, working with CAR?’
‘Certainly, if it is difficult to get at any other way.’
‘How’re things with Yemen?’ I broached.
‘The runway was repaired, and we have agreed to stop small
boats crossing in a joint venture. They captured the brother of one of
the men who attacked, and he said that they attack because Israel
builds the enclave to push the Palestinians out.’
‘The Israelis don’t tell me what to do,’ I stated.
‘I know this, but they do not, my friend.’
‘The patrols are tight enough now, more ships in the area.
Anyway, enjoy your sunny day. It’s raining here!’

As year end approached, the newly formed Palestinian Mining


Corporation was sub-contracted by CAR to mine ore from the hills
behind the enclave, the raw ore moved by truck to the port on roads
improved by us, and then sold on the open markets. The corporation
did not make much, but it employed a growing number of men in
skilled positions.
Our own corporation bought some of the ore, not all of it because
we wanted an export trade and foreign currency reserves for the
enclave. I commissioned a smelting plant at the very rear of the
enclave – at a time when the Central Bank of New Palestine housed
a few thousands dollars worth of each of three currencies, their
biggest reserve being in Egyptian pounds. It wasn’t much, but it had
been earned, and this year’s national income could top a hundred
thousand dollars if exports continued at this blisteringly slow pace.
The rate of immigration was actually the rate of hiring, since not
that many families considered their move here to be a permanent
one. Most saw it as a job opportunity. But after a few weeks, and
after they had strolled along the marina promenade, bathed on the
beaches or enjoyed the parks, attitudes slowly changed amongst
many. We even had a few babies born.
At Ben Ares request I had built an open prison – of sorts, and the
Israelis made prisoners the offer of moving to the enclave, or
spending the next twenty years in an Israeli jail. Thousands moved
down, many intent on sneaking back into the West Bank or Gaza.
But the enclave was a long way away from the occupied territories,
and the new arrivals could not board a plane or a ship.
Outside the enclave, Somali Rifles turned escaping prisoners
back at gunpoint, some of the die-hards sneaking aboard ships in
order to try and return to the territories. We eased the situation by
making the prison more of a hotel, and brought down families to
either visit or to stay. Since apartments were free, food cheap and
work guaranteed, many families stayed.
The UN, and just about everyone else, condemned the prisoner
move as a breach of human rights and international conventions, but
I defended it, saying that the prisoners were better off here. And the
Israelis ignored the UN as usual.
But New Palestine was becoming a little gem in a sea of sand.
People serious about their scuba diving flew into dive on reefs never
before dived, and the Arab world still frequented the hotels. The
enclave’s reputation was growing, and Shelly had been right about
the beaches and hotels; they added a quality to the place.
I commissioned two additional marinas and arranged for small
harbours to be built, suitable to moor small boats. With a gentle
nudge from me, more warships docked, foreign currency being
earned in the cafes and shops.

For New Year we decided to head for River View by the sea,
Mombassa, and block-booked rooms. Rescue Force were invited
down, Rudd and family, Anna and Cosy.
It had been years since I had been here last, and I noticed a few
subtle changes, starting with an Internet room with video
conferencing equipment. I took a wander down to the scuba centre
and said hello, the instructors all strangers, the place not offering the
welcome it once did.
Sitting at the beach bar, Han appeared, joining me. ‘Didn’t know
you were down?’ I said.
‘I have work in my country’s enclave here, and so decided to
grace you with my presence.’
‘You’re always welcome.’ Studying Han, who still seemed to
wear glasses – despite being injected – I said, ‘You’re looking old,
Han.’
‘I am seventy one this year.’
‘Had the full drug?’
‘I received the lower dosage many years ago. Otherwise, I would
have retired by now.’
‘Jimmy could inject you…’
‘My government will soon have mastered the drugs, and the
stems, to a much higher potency. I may be, as you say, the guinea
pig.’
I sipped my cold beer and took in the ocean. ‘It’s been a lot of
years, Han.’
‘For us … just a small step when compared to Jimmy. May I
enquire, for myself, your aspirations and expectations of 2025.’
‘There’s no way … that I believe the oil changeover will go
smoothly. I think the markets will crash and oil prices will jump up.
They know it’s coming, but its not the same till it gets here. As for
the refugee crisis, I think we’ll handle it – the rise of The
Brotherhood delayed by years. The Iranians have agreed to allow
CAR to drill for oil whilst they’re incapacitated, and that’ll help. I
have enough food in Africa to feed the refugees, and enough
temporary homes.’
‘And will that approach … lessen the growth of African GDP?’
Han posed.
‘Can’t have it all ways.’
‘Indeed no. And your recent activities in Mexico?’
I swiped away a fly. ‘Simply to try and help their economy, for
when large numbers of illegal Mexicans are kicked out of America –
to help Brad.’
‘And your thoughts as to the stability of America, post 2025?’
‘Jimmy can’t accurately predict that, and I’m no expert.’
‘You are better than you think, Mister Holton. That I have learnt
over the years. These enclaves were your idea, and the Palestinian
enclave may just solve an old and intractable problem.’
‘It’ll take a few years, and may help, but it’s not big enough for
all of the Palestinians – even if they did want to stay there. Many
will stay where they are.’
‘And oil offshore, we understand?’
‘Some, yes.’
‘But not tapped yet?’ Han puzzled.
‘We’re keeping it quiet for now, or the Israelis will be jumping
up and down.’
‘But if the oil was extracted, then the area may see a rush of
people?’
‘It may do,’ I agreed. ‘But the Israelis may do something to
undermine it. They don’t want to see a rich and independent
Palestinian state.’
‘Perhaps the time for caution has passed, and the time for firm
actions has arrived,’ Han suggested. ‘There are only three short
years remaining, and the time will pass quickly.’
I sipped my drink. ‘I have been getting more radical of late, more
of a sense of urgency.’
‘My government grows focused by the day. Our coal-oil
extraction is far higher than we agreed with Jimmy, and will grow
more, our use of electric buses soon to be law.’
‘Sounds good to me.’
‘Perhaps you should pump the oil for the Palestinians, and fund
the enclave that way,’ Han suggested. ‘And, if you sell the oil to
Israel – at a good price – then they cannot complain.’
‘Han, you’re a sneaky shit, you know that.’
‘I learnt from the best.’

I made a call and ordered CAR to start pumping from one well,
straight to tanker, and to sell it to the Israelis at a discount – if they
would take it.
Jimmy stayed in London for New Year, at the club, and I enjoyed
a family beach holiday, teaching Liz to scuba dive. She was a
natural, like her sisters, and showed no fear of the water. Many an
afternoon I would be sat in shade with a cold beer, chatting to old
friends, reminiscing about past projects and adventures.
Mac looked odd, and very old to be having a young wife and
toddler, another baby on the way. The young girl was adorable, and
obviously didn’t take after her father. But she was having an effect
on Mac, who was less sarcastic, smoked less, and swore less.
Parenthood had tamed Mac in his seventies.
Rudd was a grandfather of six, Cosy a grandfather of one, and us
old men enjoyed babysitting at the beach bar.
On the 2nd of January, 2022, I took Lucy the short distance up to
Ebede, finding that few of the original old buildings still stood.
‘When I first came here it was falling down, a wall of flies to get
through to reach the courtyard,’ I told her. I pointed at a new wall.
‘That wall used to be six feet high, and locals would drop their kids
over the side, just dumping them here for old Mary.’
‘My God.’
‘And over there was a hospital ward of sorts, all the kids dying
from AIDS. Should have seen the look on the old lady’s face when
Jimmy told her to inject the kids with his blood.’
Staff rushed out and lined up. I told them not to bother, but we
soon had a thousand smartly dressed kids chanting and singing,
Lucy recording them with a small video camera.
A man stepped up to me, a teacher. ‘Mister Paul, I was here the
day you first arrived,’ he said in an accent. ‘I was five years old, and
I remember the big man swinging me around.’
I shook his hand. ‘That was a long time ago, my friend.’
‘Thirty-four years, sir.’
‘It’s changed a bit.’
‘Ah, very much so, sir. And now, when the children from before
have the job, they send back the five percent. We have the five
percent from the thirty-six thousand people, sir. We have the six
Cabinet Ministers, the eight Junior Ministers, and the twelve CEO of
the big company, sir. And one hundred officer in the army more than
the Major rank.’
‘Excellent. I guess we did some good then.’ I waved, and more
than a thousand kids waved back.
Leaving, Lucy commented, ‘It’s amazing what you achieved,
despite the knowledge of the future.’
‘Small acorns,’ I said. ‘Jimmy knew back then that he had time,
and that the dying kids here had nothing to lose. It was an army of
the dead; ghosts walking.’
‘I read the other day that this place has produced twenty thousand
teachers. Around Africa, your orphanages have produced over a
hundred thousand teachers.’
‘It was what Africa needed, an education system to rival The
West. But first it needed security, then to be extracting ore for itself;
without the Rifles it would still be just hostile jungle. You know,
back then we took a lot of risks, we could have been killed many
times. When I asked Jimmy about it recently, he said he was
tempting God.’
‘Tempting God? He’s not a believer.’
‘No, and after everything he’s been through I think he welcomes
the idea of death.’
‘He seems OK.’
‘There are things you don’t know, babes. Maybe someday he’ll
explain them to you.’
Back at the hotel, Ben Ares called. I was in two minds to answer
the phone.
‘Yes?’
‘Paul, Ben.’
‘Happy New Year to you too,’ I quipped.
‘Yes, happy New Year.’
‘Have CAR offered you some oil, Ben?’
‘They have, Palestinian oil.’
‘And…?’
‘We’ll not recognise them or pay them directly. We’ll accept the
oil, but pay you.’
‘Any which way you like, Ben. What else?’
‘Is there much oil there?’
‘Enough to make the enclave pay for itself, and to encourage a
great many other Palestinians that way at the prospect of a good job
and nice home.’
‘And how many will you take?’
‘As many as we can. We have almost two hundred thousand, but
most were from outside the territories to start with. Still, there’re
more families arriving now. Perhaps you should show that
documentary again. Update it first though, and show the ore mining
and the oil.’
‘We may do that, certainly. But this enclave, its too small for …
larger numbers.’
‘It’s twice as big as Manhattan Island in New York, and the
towers are growing higher. As it stands it’ll take a million, but we
may extend it since the Somalis don’t care. We’re seeing six
thousand people a month arrive, so by 2025 you’ll have fewer
potential recruits to The Brotherhood, maybe a lot fewer.’
I needed a beer, and worried if I was doing the right thing. I was
interfering with an entire nation, but we had done that before.
Ben didn’t need to show his documentary again, the news of the
ore and oil spread like wildfire, Palestinians telling relatives that the
enclave would be the next Kuwait or Dubai. Our intake doubled, and
this time more came from the occupied territories, the Israelis only
too happy to assist with travel plans. But I still worried about what I
was doing.

Fourth attempt

Jimmy said goodbye to his assistant Paul Holton, a glance at Paul’s


ex-wife, Helen, then dived through the portal. As he lifted his head,
his pack came through and landed on him, followed by two
additional packs. The portal was powered down.
Doctor Singh helped Jimmy up. ‘What the hell happened?’ he
asked with a desperation and sadness in his voice. ‘You did it, you
fixed it all!’
Jimmy straightened himself, taking in the confused faces. He
took a breath. ‘I got further in that timeline than here, and by a few
years. In 2025, a massive earthquake will devastate the Middle East.
Over there, it reduced the world economy to zero, civil unrest broke
out, wars, and The Brotherhood rose up as they did here, destroying
what was left of the Middle East and attacking into Europe.’ He
shook his head. ‘We could never have factored it in.’
‘Why such a crash in the economies?’ Singh puzzled.
‘The quake wiped out all Middle East oil in a day,’ Jimmy
reported as he took his coat off.
‘How the hell can we fix that?’ a technician barked.
‘OK, OK,’ Singh shouted, seeming tired and looking drained.
‘Get the computer simulation up.’
‘What’s the time?’ Jimmy asked.
‘Sunday, twelve noon,’ Singh informed him.
‘Time for two more,’ Jimmy said with a sigh.
‘You were gone forty-five years, Jimmy,’ a lady technician
reminded him as she closed in. ‘You’re on borrowed time as it is.’
‘Inject me again,’ Jimmy insisted. ‘I can get the weight off
myself, I know how. Trust me, I can do it.’
Ten minutes later, sat with a coffee, his arm sore from the
injections, Jimmy said. ‘I know where the oil will be found outside
of the Middle East. If that could be found early, it might
counterbalance the loss of Middle East oil.’
A technician put in, ‘I have the web pages we saved; they have all
the world’s oil, ore and gold, and potential oilfields.’
‘I’ll take it back with me on a data stick, study it, and tap the
fields,’ Jimmy suggested.
‘What about The Brotherhood?’ Singh asked.
Jimmy blew out, taking a moment. ‘I developed the Rifles in
Africa to clear away the rebels and warlords. If they’re increased in
size, then maybe they could be used to fight The Brotherhood. I’ve
got the technical data on advanced weapons, invented by the autistic
kids; it’s on a disk. And we discovered that the kids injected with
my blood - who then go on have their own kids, produce an anti-
body to Lagos Fever. I’ll experiment with it when I go back. Copy
my data-stick and have a look.’
‘You’re way ahead of us now, Jimmy,’ Singh admitted with a
tired smile.
‘By a few years,’ Jimmy agreed.
‘No, not just the advance in years, the advance in you,’ Singh
pointed out. ‘Your technical knowledge, your political skills. We
caught some of the speeches, we saw the things you developed.
None of that was in our original brief.’
‘I’m sure that if you lived another two hundred years, you’d
improve as well.’
‘Incredible,’ Singh noted. ‘You left Friday night, and you’ve
picked up two hundred years of experience.’
‘Did they re-invent the stems treatment?’ a technician enquired.
‘No,’ Jimmy answered. ‘But they cracked the blood properties
eventually, even improved upon some of it; I’ve been injected with a
drug that would baffle you lot.’

Stood ready to leave, Jimmy faced the group, a line of expectant yet
saddened expressions. ‘It comes down to an alternate to Middle East
oil, then a military solution to the terror groups. If I can nail that …
then we’re there.’ He offered an encouraging smile. ‘Wish me luck.
Oh, and enjoy the goodies in the backpacks.’

Ten to midnight

Jimmy landed back in a heap, the clock on the wall indicating that it
was ten to twelve. He eased up and dusted himself off, a tired
expression offered to the expectant faces. ‘Time?’
‘Ten to midnight, Sunday.’
Jimmy grabbed a chair and sat, the laboratories tabletops littered
with coffee mugs. Nothing was said for many seconds, worried
looks exchanged. Without looking up, Jimmy began, ‘We got the
military ready for the rise of The Brotherhood after 2025, but the
terrorists did well in Europe, destroying the economy. NATO pulled
back from Turkey – as they did here, which caused problems with
the Turks - again, many of whom switched sides.
‘Europe couldn’t be held, but American had the Atlantic and
Pacific, so did well enough. China’s western provinces rose up,
Indonesia attacked its neighbours…’ He eased forwards and put his
face in his hands.
Lifting up, he said, ‘When I sent you the signal I’d already been
in Canada almost two years. Texas had broken away – again, it … it
was a carbon copy of what happened here, just later.’ He stood and
stretched. ‘Inject me.’
‘There’s only time for one more trip,’ Singh reminded Jimmy,
urgency in his voice.
‘I have a few ideas,’ Jimmy offered, but did so sounding less than
confident. ‘When I get there, I’ll have plenty of time to think about
solutions.’
After being injected with the genetically modified stems, Jimmy
retrieved a small bottle of blue pills. ‘Super weight loss pills. They
were invented in 2025.’ Heaving a big breath, he declared, ‘This
time.’
Singh handed him a data stick. ‘The details of the portal controls
and frequencies are on there. Even if … you don’t fix things, maybe
they could send help here.’
‘The last couple of hundred years has taught me to trust no
government,’ Jimmy stated. ‘It would have to be under exceptional
circumstances that I’d give this to anyone. The Chinese were very
helpful, and the Russians, but at the end of the day they all buckle
under pressure – and look after their own. Paul Holton can be
trusted, his wife, a few others I recruited. But no government.’
Stood at the portal, backpack on, Jimmy turned and faced the
group. With no energy in his voice, he said, ‘Wish me luck.’

Goma, 2022, the long hot summer


Despite a wet winter, our lake’s water level was down; I noticed it in
the mornings. Our rainfall millimetres were down across our region,
as they were across the Nile tributaries. Our dams in Ethiopia were
low, many still being worked on, and Egypt was asking for Nile
levels to rise.
By time spring came around, Egypt was no longer asking - but
demanding that Nile levels rise. The West Nile Reclamation Project
was going well, clean water production increasing, but production
was insufficient for Cairo’s growing population. Egyptian politicians
had already condemned the Ugandan and Ethiopian dams, but then
the sky fell in. Sudan announced a hydroelectric project of its own,
and war was on the cards.
Sudan was not part of our group, but we did enjoy cordial
relations with them these days. Egypt was not part of our group
either, but was an important trading partner. Ethiopia was part of the
family, as was Uganda, and any threats against them had to be taken
seriously. I sent a note to that effect, but since an Egyptian army
would have to cross the vast Sudanese territories first, we were not
too worried.
A meeting was organised at the Pentagon building for the
interested parties, myself as chairman. Everyone said their piece,
politely to start with, but the Egyptian delegation seemed to be from
another planet, let alone another country. They spouted rhetoric
about the Nile having been part of the ancient Egyptian empire for
thousands of years. The Sudanese delegation labelled them as
imperialists as bad as America, which caused the Egyptians to walk
out.
The meeting continued without the Egyptian delegation. Both
Uganda and Ethiopia offered to release a little more water, but the
problem was Sudan – and its proposed hydroelectric dam. That dam
would take a year or two to build, and would then greatly lower the
Nile’s level whilst it filled up, thereafter returning to previous levels.
Hopefully.
Sudan would not budge, and the situation deteriorated in the
weeks that followed, this year turning out to be particularly hot, our
own river levels low. Then a bomb went off at a builder’s camp near
an Ethiopian dam under construction, ten workers killed and thirty
wounded. PACT investigated, another bomb going off a week later,
initial evidence pointing towards an Egyptian group who called
themselves The Brotherhood. Shock waves went around the world’s
intelligence agencies.
Ethiopian Islamic fundamentalists, also calling themselves The
Brotherhood, then set off bombs near Ethiopian oil and gas fields,
and we all felt a chill, despite the hot weather. Security was
increased, PACT given a firm kick, rewards offered for information.
Fingers were pointed at the Egyptians, and the situation deteriorated.
A month later, in June, our new reclamation pipeline from the
Nile was blown-up, TV images of kids playing in the escaping water
holding my attention for most of the day. Fixing the pipe would be
easy enough, but they could always blow it up again. Meanwhile,
bottled water supplies fell, prices rising. Disquiet spread.
The Egyptians blamed the Ethiopians for the pipeline attack,
despite the fact the Egyptian Brotherhood now claimed
responsibility. The Egyptian military was put on alert, its Air Force
flying ‘training exercises’ close to the Sudanese border. The
Sudanese responded in kind, their own Mig 29s flying close to the
Egyptian border, up against Egyptian F16s. The Egyptians out-
gunned the Sudanese ten to one in the air, six to one on the ground,
their armed forces more modern, the Sudanese making good use of
cheap Chinese fighters – plus Egyptian tanks from the ’67 war.
Doubting very much that Sudan would attack Egypt, we
concentrated on Egypt. I offered a second pipeline and processing
plant, practically giving it away, but that didn’t seem to do the trick.
Jimmy had been oddly quiet on the matter, so I called him.
‘Do you know what the outcome will be, Sudan and Egypt?’
‘Most likely there’ll a negotiated settlement, with Egypt offering
investment in Sudan if it drops its hydroelectric ambitions. But, a
preferred solution would be Egypt pounding the hell out of Sudan,
reducing their military and removing the current Sudanese regime.
Then … then you can go in and help - influencing the future leaders,
and put a coal-oil power station or two in the country.’
‘And how, exactly, would that come about?’
‘Use your negotiating skills.’
I gave it some thought. The next day I had a one-to-one with the
Egyptian Ambassador to the DRC. ‘I’ve spoken with the Sudanese,
and they won’t budge unless … unless you pay towards oil-fired
power stations in Sudan.’
‘We pay?’
‘Look, we both know you’ll not go to war, and if you did then
that war would cost you more than the twelve billion they’re asking
for.’
‘Twelve billion? Dollars?’
I nodded.
‘Tell them to go to hell.’
After lunch I called in the Sudanese Ambassador. ‘I’ve spoken to
the Egyptians this morning, and I think you could ask for inward
investment towards oil-fired power stations instead of a dam. I think,
if you start negotiating around twelve billion dollars, you may get
what you need. It’s in their interests, and a war would cost them a lot
more.’
The next day, the Sudanese publicly aired the idea of inward
investment from Egypt. I had spoken with Abdi the day before, and
later that day bombs went off outside the Egyptian embassies in
Ethiopia and Sudan. The Egyptian press condemned the request for
money, the people up in arms, the Egyptian government – who had
actually considered some money – under pressure from the media. A
war of words began.
A day later, Egyptian border guards were fired upon and
wounded. Egypt moved several companies to the border in response,
the press calling for revenge. Abdi’s agents fired on a Sudanese
patrol and wounded a dozen men, the Sudanese now moving their
tanks towards the border.
Jimmy called for calm, and publicly offered extra desalination for
Egypt. We all knew that a new desalination plant would not have
much of an effect, and would take a year to get into place. I echoed
similar offers, all the time giving mixed messages to the two parties
whilst relaying rude messages that were never uttered. I was about to
start a war, yet publicly stated that we took no sides in the dispute, a
dispute over water.
A week later, Abdi’s agents fired on Egyptian soldiers, well
within the Egyptian border. The pursing Egyptian unit crossed the
border, being fired on by startled Sudanese, but also tripping mines
placed by Abdi’s agents. The war had begun. I moved thousands of
Rifles to the borders of Chad, Uganda and Ethiopia, as much to stop
refugees moving south as anything else; the soldiers were certainly
not about to take Sudan’s side.
In a massive dawn attack, the Egyptian Air Force bombed
Sudan’s airfields, plus the civilian airport in Khartoum. Those
Sudanese Mig 29s and Chinese fighters that managed to take off
were all shot down, few losses on the Egyptian side, the Sudanese
airfields hit with Somali baby EMPs just prior to the Egyptian air
attack. With radar’s not working, aircraft engines not starting, the
Sudanese aircraft were destroyed on the ground in numbers, control
towers demolished.
On the border, Egyptian tanks rolled forwards, engaging
Sudanese tanks. Those Sudanese tanks lacked supplies, their re-
supply routes mined in advanced, their tanks tripping anti-tank
mines as they manoeuvred. Leaving his Presidential Palace, the
current Sudanese President’s car blew. It was all over by noon.
The Egyptians paused, never having aimed at causing so much
damage, and pulled back, the UN urging for a ceasefire. Jimmy
nudged Brad, and Brad told Egypt to negotiate – or else!
In a few short hours, Sudan had lost most of its air force, a large
number of tanks, its President, but its total casualty figure was less
than three hundred. I breathed a sigh of relief, now wishing to get on
with the task of rebuilding.
The Sudanese Parliament Speaker assumed control and ordered
elections in a month. Working from a list Jimmy had supplied me
with, four candidates met with accidents, two appearing to have shot
each other. The frontrunner was Jimmy’s favourite, and I arranged a
discrete payment for the man’s campaign.
When our candidate was duly elected I invited him up and laid it
on thick - a massive aid package offered, provided he play ball and
join our group as an affiliate, not a full member. He was in no
position to argue, or to negotiate, his economy in tatters, his people
traumatised.
I insisted on greater tolerance for non-Muslims, a less-harsh
religious regime, free and fair elections every four years, a
maximum of three five-year stints for presidents and independent
courts. I gave the man a new constitution.
He agreed - he had little choice, and I adopted Sudan as my next
project; to rebuild the nation. CAR went in, a complete survey of ore
and oil prospects, Jimmy hinting at a few areas. We paid for the
repair to the main airport, but not for the military bases, then
dispatched thousand of builders north, our standard apartment blocks
soon to be seen in Khartoum.
A hydroelectric dam was off the negotiating table, two oil-fired
power stations commissioned, cheap food shipped north by train.
And, after things had settled, I was seen as the peacemaker, praise
from many areas – even the Arab world.
Life returned to normal, but the terror groups persisted, the odd
bomb going off. Jimmy informed me that the groups would never
gain enough support, and I lost no sleep over them. CAR found ore
deposits worth extracting, even a modest gold deposit. Mines were
started, locals employed, fenced-off camps erected.
Within a month we had isolated eleven new areas worth mining,
large camps pegged-out, some twenty thousand much need jobs
created, revenue soon to be earned for the state coffers. Jimmy hit a
spot on the map and said that it would be good for tourism, an area
on the Red Sea, a second area in the hills near the Eritrea border.
Hotels and safari lodges were commissioned immediately.
By October, twenty-eight new mines had been started, the
potential revenue prospects very good for the new Sudanese regime,
unemployment falling rapidly. But, being a bit cheeky, I asked if we
could put an international air base and port at an isolated location on
their Red Sea coastline. They saw no problem, since the base would
be both isolated and fenced off.
I commissioned a small port, an airfield inland of it, and sent
barbed wire up, miles of it, the American Joint Chiefs paying me a
visit as soon as they found out. I showed them the agreement I had
signed with the Sudanese, and my design, the men delighted; within
a year they’d have access to a port and airfield halfway up the Red
Sea, besides Djibouti. Another step towards 2025 had been taken,
the ring around the Middle East strengthened, a new place for naval
ratings to run ashore and enjoy the Red Sea.

Winter, 2022. The big freeze.

Sat in Goma, it was not easy to appreciate a cold winter in the


northern hemisphere. Jimmy went public in October and warned of a
hell of a cold spell, one of the worst winters on record. He warned
Canada and Russia to make provisions, and for people to stockpile
food ready for January.
Our farms in Russia were now huge, the largest independent
producer of food in the world. We even produced cereal crops in
abundance. I called down the farm directors for a crisis meeting, and
we sat about the about the table discussing what we could do.
Wherever possible, regional stockpiles were increased, dried foods
and canned foods shipped to the towns and cities to be stockpiled,
but also to help supply the need for those panicky citizens now
hording food.
From Zimbabwe, I dispatched several large grain ships to Europe,
the various governments cooperating on storage. We did a hell of a
trade in tinned food that month, trains loaded with our produce
trundling ceaselessly to the coast and up to Europe.
In the UK, Jimmy asked that a register of pensioners be collated
and made ready, especially for the infirmed or those living alone.
Rescue Force UK, and the Supplementals, were kitted out in winter
wear, additional helicopters shipped up from Africa. Jeeps were
made ready, snow chains for their tires tested. Millions of extra
blankets were handed out as the temperature dropped, the Red Cross
and Salvation Army handling the distribution.
Huge cargo ships, packed with tinned soup from our region,
journeyed north, each vulnerable British pensioner allocated plenty
of tins and asked to hold them back for emergencies. The continental
Europeans we didn’t need to worry about, they could handle a bit of
snow. But in the UK, more than a few days of blocked roads led to
paralysis and chaos. Two weeks of blocked roads would end all
commerce in the UK, and three weeks would have finished off the
country. Jimmy now predicted block roads for six weeks, and the
British Army was mobilised, Marines brought back from Norway.
An emergency fund was allocated, reservists of all descriptions
called up, the police issued cold-weather gear and given some basic
training; police stations now stocked tins, powered milk, and fuel.
A week before Christmas the snow fell, and settled, unusual for
Britain. But, since Jimmy had predicted it, the bookies stopped
taking the traditional bets on a white Christmas. When Jimmy
warned that UK airports would be closed through January, ticket
sales plummeted, extra snowploughs brought in, the Prime Minister
estimating the damage to the economy to be huge.
Christmas day saw British kids playing in two feet of snow, many
of those kids never having seen snow, especially in the south of
Britain. I was enjoying a warm rain in Goma, a family Christmas,
but the girls were grown ladies now, Liz as independent and as
stubborn as her sisters, so it just wasn’t the same.
On New Year’s Eve we celebrated inside the casino, the roof
sodden, the fireworks cancelled, but the Brits were under four feet of
snow and suffering. Mobile phone masts froze and stopped working,
people’s dependency on their mobiles highlighted since landlines
still worked. Few people in the UK had cold winter clothing,
certainly not suitable boots, and getting to the shops and back was a
nightmare for them.
Rescue Force helicopters could be seen on the TV news, flying
supplies to remote villages and farms, tinned food dropped from
above, the odd windscreen smashed by a tin of tomato soup. But not
even Rescue Force could get through the snowdrifts.
At one point I stuck my hands in my pockets and stared at the
screen, as one innovate group came up with a petrol tanker
flamethrower of sorts. They were seen advancing along the M4
motorway, burning away the snow quite efficiently. Having cleared
six miles, they’d used thirty thousand pounds worth of fuel. I shook
my head.
By mid January the mood had altered, deaths being reported
across northern Europe as the freeze started to bite. By the end of
January, the death toll in the UK was around thirty thousand, nearly
all pensioners, but most living in urban areas, not in isolated farms.
In Russian, whole communities had been decimated in the north due
to the coldest snap since records began. The Russian Army
mobilised, but there was little they could do.
Scandinavia started to suffer shortages, the UK struggling to get
grain from the stores to the bakeries to the shops. Less than half the
UK workforce was making it in to work, planes were not flying, the
economy suffering. Fortunately, many people worked from home
these days, and everyone had a computer pad. Videoconferences
were being held, images of people sat in their living rooms, work
carried out at home like never before.
By the end of February, people were fighting at the shops for
food, civil unrest a growing problem, stores running low. And the
death toll was over sixty thousand in the UK, many more due to be
found when the weather cleared. Our ships made it to the docks, but
getting the supplies inland was an issue.
Rescue Force and military Chinooks took to ferrying tinned soup
and bags of grain, and our Rescue Force teams broke open a
warehouse stuffed full of the parachute emergency packs. Hueys
were soon dropping supplies by parachute, although the bottled
water was not appreciated; people had plenty of water to hand.
March saw an end to the worst of the weather, and some two
hundred thousand people were now part of the emergency service
that set about clearing drifts and moving supplies.
Jimmy gave a broadcast. ‘It would be wise for the Governments
of Britain and Europe to increase their civil defence budgets, to
increase training for a whole range of disasters, and to create extra
stockpiles of food and fuel – for a future disaster.’
He had let them suffer more than they should have, just so that
the message would be heard loud and clear. As the weather
improved, Jimmy publicly made suggestions about future civil
defence readiness, and suitable structures. Each point he raised was
now public knowledge, and the UK Government could not fail to
implement them, lest they be strung up by the populace.
Fuel stores were commissioned at the coal-oil mines, tinned food
and dried food stores, massive warehouses created. They would not
be filled yet, but they would be ready. Civil defence training took on
new meaning, and included civil unrest training, even weapons
training. A reserve force of some fifty thousand part-timers was
planned, all to be trained in first aid, fire fighting, crowd control,
even basic survival skills. 2025 was in our sights.

Horseback

Cresting a gentle hill devoid of trees, Jimmy slowed his horse with a
tug of the reins and a soft call, the three trailing packhorses halting
in line. Below him, down the valley, Jimmy could now see a ranch, a
few people moving around on horseback, others working near a
large house, three large barns behind it. Lifting his gaze, Jimmy
figured that he had an hour of daylight left.
Making a choice, Jimmy kicked his heels in and moved down the
slope to a point where he must have been in clear view, and halted.
Five minutes later, three riders galloped up the gentle rise towards
him, slowing to a walk fifty yards away and approaching cautiously.
The leader of the men appeared to be in his late fifties, the other two
men in their thirties. And they were all armed.
‘Howdy,’ the elder man said from five yards out, but made it
sound like a threat. He halted, eyeing Jimmy’s AK47.
‘I’m British,’ Jimmy announced. ‘I was a soldier, and figured I’d
join the army again in Canada; there are NATO soldiers up there.’
‘You come a long way?’
‘I was in Africa when the war started. Britain was all gone – I
knew that. So I travelled across Africa for a few months, getting the
first boat I could, and that boat dropped US citizens in the
Caribbean. Since then it’s been a struggle to get here.’
‘Been more than a year,’ the elder man noted.
‘Yes, it’s been a … long road,’ Jimmy agreed.
‘You can join us for evening meal,’ the man offered, making it
sound an order.
‘I have nothing to pay you with, or barter with, but you’re
welcome to one of the horses,’ Jimmy offered.
‘I didn’t ask for payment.’
‘I’m not comfortable to sit at your table unless I can give
something back. Do you have a few days work for me?’ Jimmy
asked.
The elder man took a moment to study Jimmy. ‘There’s no
shortage of work around here.’
‘Then I’ll accept the meal if I can pay my way.’
‘Follow us down,’ they said.
With the horses tied off, one of the younger men noticed blood.
‘Your horse hurt?’
‘No, I had a travelling companion, but he was shot a day back.’
‘Sorry to hear that.’
‘He died trying to save me,’ Jimmy said, focused now on the
blood. ‘His things are still on that horse, I haven’t been through
them yet.’ Jimmy retrieved Diaz’s M16 and ammo pouches.
Approaching the elder man, he said, ‘I won’t be needing this.’
‘Thanks, weapons are always useful.’ He pointed. ‘You mind not
carrying that AK into the house.’
‘Of course,’ Jimmy offered. ‘He handed it over, a pistol still
hidden under his arm. ‘And it’s Jimmy.’
At dinner, everyone wanted to know about Jimmy’s travels, and
how the outside world was coping, some twenty people sat around a
large table. Jimmy did not paint a good picture, one of nuclear
wastelands and roaming gangs.
‘Stay away from towns and cities,’ Jimmy told them. ‘Well away.
And … stay out of Texas, they’ve declared independence – for what
that’s worth, raised a militia, and they like to exact swift punishment
for anyone they don’t like the look of.’
‘And Europe?’
‘All gone,’ Jimmy said. ‘Hit by the Russian counter-strike. Africa
wasn’t hit, but the economies obviously failed, shortages
everywhere, lawlessness.’
‘How did you get across Africa?’
‘By fighting one long-running gun battle,’ Jimmy replied. ‘I
killed at least a hundred people, lost my travelling companions. I had
some gold, and that got me passage on a ship.’
‘Why Canada?’
‘I had a farmhouse in Canada, well – it might still be there, and
was thinking about that when I heard on the short-wave radio that a
fair number of British Army units had made their way to Canada;
Navy and Air Force. There’s a large concentration of your armed
forces near Vancouver, and in the Canadian Rockies.’
‘You could reach it in six weeks by horse.’
Jimmy nodded. ‘That’s the hope.’
One of the young men at the table had seemed disturbed by the
topic of conversation, and now stared intently at the elder man.
The elder man said, ‘The US Army, it’s east of Vancouver you
say?’
‘Yes,’ Jimmy agreed. ‘A large concentration.’
‘Karl here was a soldier, but … decided he’d rather help out
here,’ the elder man told Jimmy. ‘But I think his conscience has
caught up with him, and he wants to rejoin the Army.’
‘It’s a dangerous trip,’ Jimmy cautioned. ‘But some company
would be appreciated.’
‘I know this country,’ the young man offered.
‘Good, because all I have is an old map,’ Jimmy responded.
After dinner, the elder man produced a large map of Montana,
giving Jimmy a recommended route, marking it on the map. He also
marked a friend’s ranch, and signed and dated the edge of the map to
show the ranch owner.
That night, Jimmy slept in a bed for the first time in weeks, and
even had a hot shower. The next morning, one of the ladies cut his
hair and provided a shaving kit. With a few shirts and jeans being
washed, Jimmy assisted with a new barn-raising.
Taking off his shirt, the other men stared toward Jimmy for a
moment, before everyone got to work. ‘Afraid I know nothing about
raising barns or carpentry, so you’ll have to instruct me.’
‘You can help fetch the lumber.’
Jimmy accepted a pair of gloves, walked to the pile of lumber and
lifted a long beam, bringing it over.
The men stopped and stared. ‘Fella, what did your mama feed
you on?’
‘I used to work out,’ Jimmy said with a smile. ‘Where does this
go?’
‘It normally goes between three of us.’
Two days later, Jimmy was part of the family, the barn almost
complete, everyone referring to him now as Mister Silo. Jimmy
would be up first, worked all day long, and was last to bed, often to
be found reading old magazines late at night, next to the fire with the
household dogs at his feet.
Two weeks later, Jimmy felt comfortable, very comfortable. It kept
him awake, and at 5am one morning he packed his things and crept
out, waking the young lad. Outside, in the cold grey half-light, the
dawn yet to put in an appearance, they saddled up.
Mounted now, Jimmy led his horses, and the young lad, from the
paddock.
‘You not saying goodbye, Jimmy?’ the elder man called.
Jimmy halted, taking a moment. ‘If I stay any longer … I won’t
be leaving at all.’
‘That’s not such a bad alternative. People here kinda taken to ya.’
‘There are people waiting for me in Canada, if I can find them. If
I don’t go … I’ll spend forever wondering about them – and hating
myself for staying here.’
‘I wouldn’t wish that on ya. Take care of the lad.’
‘I’m hoping he’ll take care of me.’ Jimmy kicked his heels and
moved off.

At the Canadian border Jimmy was alone, two horses trailing


behind. Finding an abandoned car with a little gas, he turned the
engine over. From his saddlebags he retrieved several bottles of
petrol, pouring them into the vehicle’s tank, soon loading the rear
seat with his stuff. The horses were unbridled and let loose, but
stood staring at Jimmy. He issued them the last of the feed he had,
rubbed their noses and said his goodbyes.
Two hours later he pulled into a farm, tooting the vehicle’s horn.
A porch light came on, a man appearing with a rifle.
Jimmy clambered out of the car and straightened. ‘You won’t
need that, Robby.’
‘Jimmy? My god…’ He rushed over, a woman appearing at the
window. They hugged.
‘Thought you were dead,’ Robby whispered, a tear in his eye.
The lady rushed out, a second woman appearing at the window.
‘We’ve got all your stuff here, it’s been ready for … well, since the
war. When will you set-off for the time machine?’
‘There’s no hurry,’ Jimmy told them, hugging the woman. ‘No
hurry at all.’
The second woman approached, the others taking a step back.
‘You made it,’ Jimmy flatly stated.
Helen stepped closer. ‘We went to the west coast of Wales as you
said, to where the boat was waiting. It was an easy enough trip
across to Nova Scotia, the weather good, and then … then we used
the gold coins to get rides across Canada.’
‘And Paul Holton?’ Jimmy enquired.
‘He … went to try and get his parents first.’
Jimmy slowly nodded. ‘And Big Paul?’
‘Shot dead near Quebec,’ Helen reported. ‘Ricky made it here
with me, but was killed fighting off raiders.’ She closed the gap and
gave Jimmy a long and passionate kiss. ‘I missed you,’ she
whispered into his ear.
‘Then I best have a bath, and you can show me how much you
missed me.’
‘How did you get here?’ Robby keenly enquired.
‘Across central Africa, onto a boat to the Caribbean, sailed up to
Texas, and walked or rode up here. Fifteen months, so get the damn
kettle on.’

2023, An American Tale

I had often heard the term ‘The American Dream’, and wondered
what it meant, especially now that the US media circus was
reporting that it was under threat - and in imminent danger of
disappearing. After chatting to Lucy, who knew everything, we
decided that the American dream was a term used by the original
settlers from Europe, downtrodden and landless people with no
chance of advancement in their countries of origins. In the new
territories, land was available cheaply – or free for a while, and
farms could be started. People could open a small business and
flourish, away from the monarchies and noblemen of Europe that
owned most of the land.
The American dream was about self-reliant people wanting to get
ahead, about throwing off the shackles of an old feudal class system,
about freedom of travel, freedom of speech, and religious freedom.
America hosted the Red Indians long before the first Spanish
landed, was owned partly by the English and partly by the French,
parts owned by the Spanish through Mexico. But the first group of
people that could be called a ‘ruling-class’ were wealthy white folk
from Europe, English speaking for the most part, and somehow that
same group of people still seemed to think that being a middle class
white person made you an American - a proper American. Other
ethnic groups were not quite so American.
Watching a debate on a US show one evening, I caught a whiff of
the definition of what a true American was. I said to the screen:
‘First it’s a Red Indian, then a Hispanic, then a black salve, and
finally a white person - you tosser!’
The panel didn’t hear me, and didn’t seem to agree, since they
were debating a lack of patriotism amongst ethnic groups, and
whether or not it should be tolerated. Yes, the panel seemed to be in
favour of something being done about people ‘bad mouthing’ the
United States. After watching for another twenty minutes, it seemed
that people who voted Democrat were not patriots; a socialist could
not be a patriot, their right to citizenship lessened somehow.
I watched the entire show, feeling a little saddened at it all, the
main thrust being that President Brad Sullivan was leading the
country towards socialism, and that it would destroy the great
American dream. But Brad’s plan would not stop anyone starting a
business, or buying land, and it would not take anyone’s land or
livelihood away. What it would do … would help to provide a
safety-net for when problems like Hawaiian quake reared their ugly
heads.
After the show, I cracked open a beer, and watched the news on
the same US channel. Well, their version of the news. Seemed that
Brad was trying to make America a little more like our region of
Africa, and coming in for some criticism. I had not heard Brad use
such a comparison. Ever.
They threw up a chart of Brad’s spending since coming to office,
much of which was the emergency aid for the displaced agreed by
his predecessor. They cut to a senator.
‘The people of my state work damn hard for their money, and
they don’t see why they should be sharing that in higher taxes, a tax
on the rich to give to the poor. This is America, not Russia.’
Well, most of the rich Russians I knew never paid any tax, or if
they did if was below five percent.
The argument was a simple one: Americans don’t like sharing.
Sat there, I wondered how many of those early settlers helped to
raise a barn of their neighbours, and did that constitute socialism?
After all, they weren’t being paid - they had volunteered to help their
neighbours.
And the people back then - they paid tax, and businesses paid tax
in order to raise and pay an Army. That army then went and shot the
Indians, making space for more farmland. The settlers paid their
taxes into a communal fund, the government, and reaped the
communal benefit of an army. They also benefited from a postal
service, a legal system, prisons and police officers – all paid for
from a communal pool raised by taxes, and for the benefit of all.
Nowhere during the TV debate did they suggest that the police
should be disbanded, or the army, or schools inspectors, or even the
oceanographic service. But where money was to be spent on trying
to assist poor people – for the common good of the nation – then the
government was moving towards socialism. Raising taxes towards
other things was fine, even if the money was misspent. But job
creation schemes, homes for the poor, welfare and public hospitals –
well, they were just downright communist.
A commentator then came on, labelling Brad as “fucking
communist dickhead”, and I had to wonder whatever happened to
censoring such language on TV. Since most TV reached people
across the web these days, it was very hard control the content.
That following week I watched the same channel on many
consecutive evenings, asking Helen and the girls to sit in and to
comment. They were horrified as well, simply by the tone, and what
US political commentary had become. I decided to act.
I chose the worst three offenders and banned them from Africa,
and banned their staff and reporters from Africa, or from attending
any news conferences I might give. We knocked their feeds off our
satellite, and African housewives could no longer be perturbed by
such crap reporting. CNN came calling straight away and I gave an
interview in my office.
‘The news channels in question are not reporting the news,
they’re making up stories, inventing crap, and trying to present
themselves as serious newscasters. They’ve lowered the tone greatly
of your news casting, and they’re trying to create a culture of
mistrust towards the White House.
‘In reality, they’re owned by Republican sympathisers, and
nothing that the White House does will ever be good enough for
them. If the Republicans were in power, these newscasters wouldn’t
be attacking the various polices, and they seem to think that anyone
who doesn’t vote Republican is not a patriot, which is rubbish.
‘They’re also trying to attack President Sullivan as being a
socialist. Well, what is socialism? Every country in the world is
socialist, because every nation raises taxes then dishes out the
money to see that the citizens are taken care off. All American
citizens pay tax, and that tax goes to the police and the army. Who in
American wants to do away with the police or the army? And who in
America wants to vote on how their taxes are divided out?
‘If you fail to address the needs of the poor … they turn to crime,
and then you’ll need more police officers and more prisons. And
keeping people in prison for years on end costs more than a few job
creation schemes. If you educate the poor, and try to create jobs, you
have less crime and need fewer police officers and prisons.
‘Every old Wild West town had a sheriff, and that sheriff was
paid by the townsfolk to keep order. They all paid taxes towards the
sheriff, a common pooling of money. But no one labelled the sheriff
as a socialist.
‘There are some twenty million people in America living in
trailer parks, another twenty million in social housing. Their
education standards are low, teenage pregnancy very high, and crime
very high. The rich people can’t build a fence to live behind, they
have to deal with the issue, and ignoring it is not dealing with it.
‘And those poor people are no less American, and they have
rights. Your constitution starts by mentioning “the people”, all of the
people on not just the rich people or Republican voters. But what
these news channels come down to is simple fascism; modern
American fascism, and the idea that the Republicans would like to
create a one-party state, their party, because they know best and no
one else does. That’s how Hitler got started, and that’s how many of
the world’s dictators got into power - and hang onto power.
‘I’d like to see the good people of America become more
involved in stopping the rise of fascism in the media. Everyone
should stop watching these news channels, and start seeing them for
what they are, which is simple propaganda. And if the Republican
Party has an ounce of decency left they’ll distance themselves from
such programmes. I know who owns these particular TV channels,
and I’m going to take a personal dislike to the company.’
The next day I did just that, and banned the company’s websites
from the African continent, as well as their TV shows. Since they
had spent a lot of money in the region, it hurt them. Their offices in
New Kinshasa were attacked, the staff having to flee. I found out
that we had stock in their company and sold it as a block, knocking
the price lower. I then encouraged everyone I knew to sell the
company’s stock.
With a nudge of Po and the Chinese, a deal about to be signed
allowing the media group into China was put on hold, and that was
worth billions. That led to an emissary wanting an urgent meeting,
and I accepted a meeting with the man in my office a few days later.
‘Thanks for seeing me,’ he offered as he sat, a young man in his
thirties, a west coast accent.
‘Aren’t you a bit young for such a high level approach?’ I curtly
asked.
‘No one else wanted to risk coming here.’
I smiled, but forced it away. ‘So what can I do for you?’
‘We’d like to come to an understanding, and to fix … what’s
wrong.’
‘Stop putting shit on the air; that’s simple enough.’
‘We’re willing to look at … content and direction. Do you have
anything … specific?’
‘Bring back Walter Cronkite.’
‘I … think he’s dead, sir.’
‘As a metaphor; someone that the viewers can trust, and someone
free of political bias. I don’t mind you attacking politicians, so long
as it’s fair and unbiased. Oh, and not made up, distorted, or … you
know – complete shit.’
‘It’s a Republican group – strong ties. They do … own the
station.’
‘Then put a line at the bottom of the screen: this is a Republican
Party Political Broadcast, not the news.’
‘That … might take money out of our pockets.’
‘I’ll take billions out of your pocket,’ I mocked.
He took a moment. ‘Well, how do we proceed, if we were to fix
that?’
‘Run your normal service for a month, and I’ll watch. I’m not
looking for praise for Brad, or bias, just a new concept for American
news – the truth. I want nothing more. And I don’t want to hear
swear words on the news. Simple enough?’
‘Easier said than done. But, I will try and convey that.’
‘And I’ll resist the temptation to come for you more than I have
done already – which is a possibility.’
‘Oh. Can I … come back, and leave in one piece?’
‘What purpose would that serve? You know what I want, either
do it … or not.’
At 6pm I found Jimmy at the mansion, sat enjoying a cold beer. I
sat next to him. ‘Any views on my attack on the US media?’
‘No, you keep at them. But I would have gone for their balls first,
then made them an offer instead of going public. You made enemies
in the media, and they’re like a bunch of ten year olds.’
‘Fuck ‘em. If they want a war they’ll get one.’
‘You hurt them in the pocket, and that’ll cause them to sit up and
take note.’
‘So, Mister Oracle, what is the great American dream?’
‘That’s a bit of a dated phrase, from a time when parts of the
world suppressed opportunity and others encouraged entrepreneurs.
Now, most of the opportunities are outside of America, with a cheap
and well-educated workforce. America missed a trick by not coming
here, and not taking over companies in the Far East and India. Those
countries are now doing well and beating their American rivals.
‘The Americans will always do well at technology, media and the
social arts, books and films, but whatever they invent will be copied
and produced cheaper elsewhere. They missed a trick by not
grabbing the cheap workforce.
‘And they ignored China for so long that it was too late. If they
had been nicer to China early on, entered into joint ventures, they
would be reaping the benefits now. They could have bought
factories for fifty dollars back then. Now, that factory is a billion
dollars – and not for sale.
‘Education standards in America are not falling, but the rest of
the world has caught up, so the gap has narrowed. There are more
PhD graduates from outside the States now, have been for a decade.
And Russia … their sixteen to eighteen year olds average a few
points better than their American counterparts – who all aspire to
skateboard, or be in a band.
‘It was America’s race to lose. They haven’t lost it yet, they just
haven’t noticed that the finish line is close, and that when they look
over their shoulders that once clear road is now crammed with
people catching up. In the hare and the tortoise race, the hare got
cocky and took it easy – trying to win the military, political and
ideological race, when it should have been trying to win the
commercial race all along.
‘And you, young man, you’d make a great US President, because
you try and make a buck before spending a buck, and you watch the
bottom line. You fought a war, a commercial war, and you beat the
crap out of everyone else; they weren’t even looking at Africa. What
America needs is a President that thinks like a factory manager and a
salesman, not a world leader who likes the sound of his own voice.
American needs to stop trying to change the world, and start selling
to the world.’
‘And what about the future?’ I asked.
‘There’s only one way that America can go, and that’s
backwards. That’s not because they’re doing a bad job, but because
the others – Indian, China and Africa - have a cheaper and better
workforce, more resources and more entrepreneurs.
‘A lot of people criticised American imperialism in the past, but
I’d say they were never imperial enough. They should have opened
hundreds of factories in India, Africa and Asia. Now those nations
sell to America when America should be selling to them.
‘It’s a pity, but American kids want to be famous or in a porn
movie, not entrepreneurs. You see, American culture and language
gives rise to all the best music, film and literature – but those same
creative qualities make the kids want to skateboard instead of study.
And they don’t mind large-scale disasters – so long as they look
good doing it. They’re so used to watching movies that they live
their lives as if there’s a camera on them.’
I nodded. ‘That kid – the other month – killed twelve people and
admitted he did it because he wanted the exposure,’ I put in.
‘Yep. Life on TV is not real, but they haven’t figured yet where
the off button is. Last week a trader took eight billion from a pension
fund, and it looks like his bank may fold.’ He sighed. ‘There are a
lot of people whose motto is: live for now, and think only of
yourself.’
‘They need to be a little more socialist,’ I quipped. ‘Raising barns
on the weekends.’
‘I did that once, in Montana. And to tell you the truth, I didn’t
want to leave. Living on a ranch appealed to me; it’s simplicity. You
grew crops, raised cattle, tried to survive, and did a little bartering
with your neighbours. You know, for the most part my travels
through America – after the troubles – were one long gun battle,
struggling to reach Canada.
‘But when I passed through Wyoming and Montana I dealt with
farmers, and they had a better appreciation of the world, and what it
needs. A farmer and rancher knows that you’re as rich as what you
can see in front of you, not what the bank can lend you; you count
your herd and you know where you stand.
‘I stopped at a few farms, and for the most part they couldn’t do
enough to help me – once you said howdy and got past the end of a
rifle. I avoided the towns and cities; they were like a bad zombie
movie. But the farmers, they saw life and death every day in their
animals, and they had a better appreciation for life, and hanging onto
it. I’ve always liked farmers, and the simplicity of attitude, and
simplicity of purpose.’
‘I’ve been watching the America news more, since I got
involved,’ I began. ‘And I caught a programme about teenage
suicide, which accounts for some twenty-thirty thousand teenager
deaths a year. What is it that makes a youngster so despondent about
their own futures that they’d take their own lives?’
‘My theory, is that they watch too many films. You see, we all
watch films and empathise with the characters. If you watch a lot of
movies where the characters are dealing with life and death issues,
then your head is full of those feelings – even though you haven’t
experienced them yourself. Sixteen year olds have young bodies,
they live at home with their parents, but their heads are fifty years
old. They say … been there, done that, got the t-shirt. Thing is, they
haven’t - they saw it in a movie.
‘Back before TV and cinema, kids were wide-eyed and curious
about discovering the world. But years of negative imagery kills that
in our youth. They know what having a job and family is like before
they have the damn job and family; they feel like they’ve already
done it. And that causes the despondency. Been there, done that, got
the t-shirt – so what’s next? Nothing? May as well end it. The kids
today are not better off, they’re emotionally damaged by the media.’
That following week I continued to spend hours each day
watching the US news. Two kids walked into their school and shot
dead a dozen people, a banker walked into work and killed thirty. A
second banker stole six billion dollars, and a bunch of teenagers
managed to get a crude EMP working, knocking out the electronics
across an area a mile in diameter, including a hospital.
I stopped watching the US news, I couldn’t handle it any more,
and went to visit one of our orphanages; suicide rate – zero. The kids
started with nothing, grateful to have a warm meal. They received an
education, and they were grateful, and when they left they got jobs
and started families, the divorce rate very low.
What had the western world become, where killing yourself, your
classmates or your work colleagues was a fun thing to do? Survival
was no longer an issue for people in The West, the issue was one of
gaining pleasure, more and better than the last experience,
something new, a new t-shirt with a catchy slogan. From the roof of
the Pentagon building I took in my creation, wondering how long it
would be before people here had so much, so much that the only
thing left to do was to kill their work colleagues and then
themselves.

2024. Battle plans


The Joint Chiefs, and various US military advisors, had become
regular visitors in 2024, the idea on everyone’s lips being that the
Rifles would front the war. The Russians and Chinese also held that
view. The Americans were ready and willing to deploy and fight, the
Russians less so, the Chinese hoping to stay in barracks.
The various allies conventional armies would not have helped, we
all knew that. Using a conventional army in a counter-terrorist
campaign was always going to be a problem, as well as a mismatch
in problem to resources. The Rifles, plus the non-African soldiers
trained and seasoned in Afghanistan, were the most suited, and
would take the fight to The Brotherhood.
May, 2024, saw a meeting in the Pentagon building, a secret
planning session, the world leaders and their military advisors all
present. We all sat around a large table covered by a map of the
Middle East, other maps on the wall. Major Big Paul was in
attendance, now chief expert on all things counter-terrorist, and a
seasoned veteran of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The meeting started with the US Joint Chiefs detailing resources
and availabilities of shiny hardware, soldiers in boots. The Russians
detailed their forces in the Caucuses, the Chinese simply giving
numbers that could be employed.
Jimmy then took the floor, standing. ‘Gentlemen, there is only
one thing to consider when planning for a fluid situation – and that is
to remain fluid. The toys stay in the box till they’re needed. Any
movement of military hardware towards the Middle East ahead of
time will cause tensions, and those tensions will help to give The
Brotherhood support.
‘We’re already seeing commentators on the Middle East
suggesting that we’ll move in when the countries are at their weakest
- and try and take over, stealing the oil. If our naval vessels turn up
in force after the tsunami, then the Arab populations might just
believe that we’re there to invade, and to hold onto the territory after
invading.
‘What Paul has done in recent years … has altered the playing
field, and I’m happy to admit that his strategy has changed the
playing field significantly; he saw something that I missed. The
number of refugees in certain areas will be so low … that the
chances of The Brotherhood rising is low. We could go a decade
before they take shape.
‘And, if we supply enough housing, food and water, then maybe
they won’t rise at all. I’ll admit, I had been looking at ways to deal
with the uprising, and to deal with them militarily, but missed the
simple option of putting food in their bellies and dispersing them.
It’ll cost a lot of money to repair and rebuild the Middle East, and
that will drag the richer nations down a little. But if that money is
spent, then we might just get away with it.
‘I came back through time to change things, and to fix things, to
prevent history repeating itself. If we look at a military solution to
the Middle East, then we’re all half way to repeating the previous
mistake.’ He sat.
‘There’ll be no deployment ahead of time?’ the Israelis asked,
clearly not happy.
‘Are you paying attention?’ I curtly asked them. ‘A deployment
will start the war for certain.’
Jimmy said, ‘From the point that The Brotherhood blow up their
first oil well, to reaching your borders, is almost a year. With the
refugee camps dispersed, that first oil well may not blow up for two
or three years. Do you expect us to put soldiers in the desert for three
years, when it takes a week to deploy them?’
‘We’d like additional military resources,’ the Israelis requested.
‘Good luck with that,’ I told them.
‘We’ll not deploy ahead of time,’ Brad stated, the Chinese and
Russians echoing that, and I had to wonder if the Chinese and
Russians would deploy at all till their own borders were threatened.
‘We have a plan,’ Jimmy stated. ‘We’ll be as nice as we can to
the refugees, we’ll try and rebuild the Middle East, and we’ll meet to
discuss The Brotherhood when that first oil well blows.’
I said, ‘I have an idea how you can all assist the Middle East,
without getting problems from the voters back home. If you invest in
our region, we’ll divert funds to assist in the Middle East. You can
all tell your media that you’re not helping. And, just for the record,
I’ll take a very dim view of those not wishing to help, a
commercially dim view in years to come. If you don’t help … you’ll
lose money anyway afterwards.’
We broke for coffee and to chat in small groups, the Israelis still
asking for more resources. I led their delegation to a side room,
Ngomo and Abdi in on the meeting.
‘Guys, if the Middle East falls apart, you’ll be sat at home in the
deckchair watching the fireworks, whilst the other nations have an
ocean between them and you. If you do anything to spark a conflict,
then you’re the ones that will be killed first. And we’re not talking
about a conflict like the ’67 war, we’re talking about a conflict that
will kill every last one of you.
‘Take a look at the fucking map, guys; you’re an aircraft carrier
in a sea of hostile neighbours! If you fire off a few shots first you’ll
fucking sink. Now, if – and when – your borders are threatened, I’ll
put forty thousand Rifles around you. But those soldiers are not
going to sit in the sand scratching their arses till they have
something worth shooting at.
‘And extra aircraft and helicopters for you are not going to make
any difference, because aircraft and helicopters would be useless
against The Brotherhood. As useless as your nuclear weapons will
be.
‘I’m going to fix the Middle East, gentlemen. Have faith. But
make an aggressive move outside our plans, and you might find no
support when you need it. This is a team game, and you’re not the
quarterback or the captain.’
Back in the meeting, we kicked ideas around, promises of
financial assistance. CAR would lead the way to re-drill Middle East
oil, working hand-in-hand with the other nations. Off the coast of
Somalia, enough oilrigs lay at anchor to drill a hole right through the
planet and out the other side.
The brain-trust kids and the volunteers had been handed the task
of re-drilling the oil, and had come up with a variety of ideas, rigs
being modified, strange new bits of equipment appearing. They had
worked out a plan of action, a mad rush to re-drill the most lucrative
wells. Those wells were not as lucrative as others found outside of
the Middle East, peak-oil having been passed a decade ago, but they
were still important.
One particular invention was a large oil tanker fitted with a huge
net-like trailing boom, and a huge ugly distillation plant perched on
its deck. Everyone figured that the quake would rupture wells, and
that the Arabian Gulf would turn black with oil. They also
considered that the quake may rupture rock formations, and that oil
may escape through cracks. So this new ship would sail up and
down reclaiming the oil just floating on the surface of the Gulf.
With the military meeting over, it’s next session postponed
indefinitely, we met to discuss economic matters, trade agreements,
even student exchanges, a group dinner in the evening.
The next day, Brad hung around to meet with the volunteer
groups, who had now evolved into a global political movement
under Jimmy’s careful guidance. The American branch had reached
public office, their man in the White House, the other national
branches less overtly political, but having an influence in areas that
Jimmy nudged them towards.
Worldwide, they counted a hundred million members, and made
great use of social networking websites to bring down politicians or
to expose dodgy practises by big business, especially the banks.
People power had arrived, and on-line voting websites were the
norm these days. If your local representative saw that eighty percent
of his constituents were not in favour of a bill, the politician would
have a hard time voting for it.
The Internet gave instant feedback on many things, and
comments on news shows by politicians could mean an end to their
careers in an hour. No politician could get away with anything any
more, and a new age of morality and decency had arrived in politics
in some countries. It had only taken two thousand years, but we
finally had a system that prevented elected representatives behaving
like politicians. The ancient Greeks would have been pleased with
how our democratic systems had turned out. They would have
doubted the benefit of involving the hoi poli, and marvelled at the
technology, but overall would have agreed that elected
representatives do – after all – work for the people.

2025

The New Year celebrations for 2025 were mixed, mixed in that all
countries outside of the Middle East celebrated, and those in the
Middle East tried to put on a brave face – those that had a few faces
left to party. Dubai was a sand-blown ghost town, Qatar returning to
the desert already, Kuwait evacuated. Watching the images on the
news, I could see homes boarded up, their owners being somewhat
optimistic about their potential for return.
In Dubai, the Palm Fronds were the object of attention for a crazy
bunch of holidaymakers who wanted to stay in luxury villas right up
till the last week. Rescue Force chasers were also out in force, and
tens of thousand of people wished to witness the tsunami close up,
hilltops in The Emirates now hosting tented cities, plots sold by
those local Arabs daft enough to remain.
The area south of Basra had been evacuated, very orderly refugee
camps created north of the city. But as I had planned years earlier,
we had relocated many of the citizens of this area to apartments to
the north, or to Baghdad. Not many sat in self-assembly huts, cooled
by ceiling fans powered by small wind turbines. And the camps that
had been created had a limit of ten thousand people imposed by me,
the UN and other aid agencies ignored.
Many of the citizens of Qatar now enjoyed their enclave in
Somalia, the small area now a gleaming city of high-rise buildings,
oil flowing and jobs appreciated. In Angola, Kuwaitis sat in their
gleaming enclave, and more than two million Saudis lived and
worked in their African outposts. But, against our wishes – yet
somehow inevitable, the Gulf State’s enclaves hosted large numbers
of migrant workers. And, as I expected, the low-grade apartment
blocks used by workers were still there, being utilised to house
foreign workers.
At the mansion, we welcomed eleven African Presidents, all of
them our protégés, and I invited along Major Lobster, now an
instructor at the officer’s college and a potential future leader
himself. Shelly and Lucy worked the crowd and impressed everyone
with their knowledge of African politics and local issues. Jimmy
turned up with another New Year squeeze, a Rescue Force doctor,
and a babe in a cocktail dress. Shelly and Lucy mobbed the new
squeeze, as usual, and asked questions.
At midnight, we stood in the garden and enjoyed the fireworks,
Po and Yuri joining us after their own parties. At 1am I was stood on
the jetty with Jimmy, bowties loosened, buttons undone, drinks in
hand.
‘It’s 2025,’ I commented. ‘It’s … finally here.’
Jimmy heaved a big breath of warm evening air. ‘There was a
time when I worried about it. Now … now I’m beyond that; I’ve
done what I could.’
‘We’re ready,’ I assured him. ‘Refugees are spread far and wide.
There are more aid workers and Rescue Force staff in the camps
near Basra than there are refugees!’
He nodded. ‘You’ve done very well.’
‘We … did very well.’
‘No, I kicked the ball into the penalty area and you headed it in.
Be proud of yourself.’
I took in the lights of the other mansions, numerous parties going
on simultaneously. ‘You’re only human, Jimmy. You saw a lot,
were captured and tortured, and built up a prejudice to The
Brotherhood. That’s only human. I never went through that, so I can
deal with Arabs without hating them.’
‘I don’t hate them, and I’ve always wanted to help them, but it’s
not easy when you’ve seen what they’re capable of.’
‘Things OK Stateside?’
‘They’re trying to change the law so that I can’t bribe their
politicians so much.’
I laughed. ‘They made the rules.’
‘My lobbyists are the most aggressive, my campaign donations
the largest. I also have a lot of the good representatives investing in
a fund I created. That – they want banned as well. But for now, the
good old dollar is king, and I’m using their own flaws against them.
And Brad is still there, so it’s sewn up … more or less.’
‘And the Hispanics?’
‘It’s settled down, but since Brad took office he’s repatriated five
million illegals, which all helps. There are also recent citizens being
expelled - if they commit a serious crime within ten years of
citizenship. Brad also kicked the Hispanic prisoners out, paying the
countries of origin a small fee to take them back. And as for
Africans – hell, it’s still a negative immigration number.’
‘A hundred and fifty thousand Americans working here now,’ I
proudly stated. ‘Most in mining or oil.’
‘States have finally given up oil and gone nuclear, and coal-oil
production is massive now,’ Jimmy stated. ‘Took long enough.’
‘Any thoughts of leaving?’ I risked.
He made a face. ‘No, I’ll hang around and see how it pans out.’
‘Chinese suffering?’
‘A little; their Middle Classes are gaining more power. The
leaders warn about the dangers of this year, but still lose ground.
We’ll see the first independent party being tolerated next year.’
‘Took long enough,’ I echoed. ‘And North Korea?’
‘Once they reach a certain level of affluence, which is not far
away, they’ll join a union with China, no border controls. Taiwan is
a step away from that as well, and Japan’s looking towards China
instead of America; new treaties being signed every day. I could see
six other countries joining a union with China. Without Brad in the
White House that would lead to tensions or war, but he can see
China breaking apart from the inside.’
‘Been thinking of expanding my empire as well,’ I put in.
Jimmy waited.
‘I spoke to the Saudis about an economic union, also the Iraqis
and Iranians.’
‘You’d have the world’s oil sewn up.’
‘It’s the influence I’m more interested in - future influence. We
enter into talks with Yemen next week.’
‘They’ll take any deal you offer,’ Jimmy noted.
‘Exactly. But I need to secure them, or they’ll disrupt that region
and the shipping lanes.’
‘You’re thinking like a global leader, Mister Holton. And I can
remember giving you advice on how to handle a girl in your room.’
‘Ah, those days were good. Looking at the world afresh, looking
at the world from the bottom of the pile. Life was simple. Well, you
scared the crap out of me and we were dodging the intelligence
services – but life was simpler. Back then I used to have baby
elephants peeing on my feet in the shower, and sex with babes.’
‘And now…?’
‘Now, Helen is a friend, and bedtime pillow.’ I shrugged. ‘I
wouldn’t want to be without her…’
‘But?’
‘Well, it’s been a long time, and we both work ourselves to death.
You know.’
‘No, I never settled … because I knew I would have to say
goodbye, sooner or later. And having kids, well … I’d leave them
here and … go elsewhere.’
‘You consoled yourself with a long list of babes,’ I pointed out.
‘And I needed consoling.’
‘Much consoling.’
‘But I deserved it.’
I nodded, mockingly.
Jimmy raised his glass. ‘To the year that changes everything, and
the man who made it all stay the same by changing so much.’
‘Thanks. I … think.’

Rescue Force. February, 2025.

Descending into Mawlini at dawn, I could see more white


helicopters than desert. Stood at the top of the aircraft steps, I put a
hand over my eyes and took in the cluttered apron, and the line of
white Hueys; some were dated, many a new variant, but none were
newer than six years old. And some of these old ladies had been
flying a long time.
At the base of the steps I accepted the salute from the honour
guard of Rifles and stopped to chat to the senior officers, jumping
into a black limo for the short trip around to Rescue Force Africa’s
headquarter building. Clambering out with my deputy, I shook hands
with Coup and his team, finally with Mac after he gave a typically
mocking salute. They led me inside the new building; air
conditioned, clean, and a far cry from the original huts that we found
here.
The new command and control centre offered a wall of screens,
each four foot square. Some displayed the news, others maps, a few
displayed lists of current dispositions. I greeted each member of staff
in turn, finding Bob Ratchet.
‘Jesus, Bob, its been a while.’
‘I’m still at it.’
‘What happened to Spanner?’
‘Married a New Zealand lady and settled down in civvy street.’
‘And you?’ I nudged.
‘The missus is here, up the road, and two kids. Our eldest is
eighteen now.’
‘You were the first recruits; Ratchet and Spanner,’ I said with a
smile. ‘Immortalised in numerous books.’
‘It’s been a long road,’ Ratchet said. ‘1989 to now; thirty-six
years this spring.’
‘Seems like forever,’ I commented.
‘You won’t know this one,’ Ratchet said, gesturing towards a
lady. ‘She was in the womb when you fetched her mum out of
Somalia that day.’
‘Well I’ll be damned. Was it … Nash?’
She nodded. ‘Yes, you rescued my mother. I took my own
daughters to Baardheere a few years back.’
‘Time does move on relentlessly,’ I noted.
‘Have you heard about Tubby?’ she asked, a glance at Bob
Ratchet.
‘No?’
‘He retired, then came back, then switched to the Flying Doctors,
but crashed a Cessna yesterday and killed himself. He was drunk, as
usual, so we covered it up.’
I shook my head. ‘I liked Tubby; he taught me a thing or two
about flying.’
I joined Mac in his office, Coup and his deputy sat waiting. ‘So,
we all ready?’
‘Seventy-eight helicopters sat getting a tan,’ Mac informed me.
‘Three hundred jeeps set off yesterday, driving up to the naval base
in Northern Somalia, from there they by cargo transport to various
spots around the Gulf.’
Coup put in, ‘C5 Galaxies ready to move the warm bodies, plus a
bunch of your 747s.’
‘747s?’ I queried. ‘Stick ‘em in a Hercules, make ‘em rough it!’
‘They’re all tough as fuck,’ Mac pointed out. ‘They could give
the soldiers around here a run for their money.’
‘I miss the dust and the Hueys,’ I put in.
‘Aye, well you’re a fucking pen-pusher now,’ Mac commented.
‘And a bloody politician!’
‘And you’re a father of two,’ I countered with.
‘No need to swear,’ Mac mock complained.
‘When I arrived here you had a falling down hut, ten dollars and
bottle cap to your name,’ I pointed out.
Coup’s deputy fetched an A3 photograph.
I held it, and peered at a familiar image, that of the old huts taken
from the control tower roof. ‘We used to have a fridge on the roof,
and deckchairs.’ I lifted my gaze. ‘What happened to Doc Adam?’
‘Killed by robbers years ago,’ Mac informed me. ‘Somewhere in
Chad I think.’
‘Family?’ I asked, causing a loud a raucous laugh from the men.
‘He fathered twenty-six kids – that we know about!’ Coup
informed me. ‘Six of his work for us.’
‘Ah,’ I let out. ‘He was a bit of a ladies man.’
‘Rabbit?’
‘Stepped on an old mine,’ Mac said with a smile. He shrugged.
‘You want to tell us the truth about what’ll happen after this
quake?’ Coup nudged.
‘If the economies of the Middle East go to fuck, and the people
suffer, there’ll be wars – and they could spread into a global war.’
The men exchanged looks.
‘You got a … you know, plan?’ Mac asked.
‘Got it all sewn up, Mac. Don’t worry. Besides, if war breaks out
you can change back to green, stick your tin hat on and die with your
boots on, not in a soft bed.’
‘He has a waterbed now,’ Coup mentioned.
‘Was a time when you slept on a camp bed in your hut,’ I pointed
out to Mac.
‘Aye, well that was before you gracious fuckers appeared and
changed my life for me.’
‘Jimmy could take you back to as you were at the time if you
like,’ I teased.
Mac took a moment, becoming serious. ‘When you have fuck all,
you worry fuck all. Now … now I worry all the fucking time,
especially about what’ll happen after this bloody quake.’
‘Leave the worrying to Jimmy and me, that’s what we’re here
for.’
I flew up to New Palestinian, welcomed on the tarmac by their
President. Whisked a short distance along the apron in a bus, I
stepped down to four white Hueys, an entire turnout of Rescue Force
Palestine, all twenty-six of them. I greeted them all in turn, finding
just three women in the group, before sitting in a dated Huey,
memories flooding back.
Late for our lunch appointment, I boarded the bus, outriders
ahead of us, blue lights flashing. Beyond the airport gates the crowds
began, ten deep, cheering and waving Palestinian flags. I waved
back. At the Parliament building I walked down to a funnel of
Kenyan Rifles, Palestinian police beyond them, and was ushered
inside.
The legislators stood and applauded as I entered the chamber, the
building and its interior just a year old. Stood at the podium, I noted
the sixty faces, mostly men, the various politicians representing
small areas of the enclave, broken by uniform square districts. Titles
were often: ‘The member for district 12.’ There was a posh quarter
to the enclave, nice villas, a middle portion, and the dock area, so
you could say that they had a social divide based on income.
‘Thank you,’ I offered, the legislators settling. ‘And thank you for
the kind invitation to visit here today.’ I took in their faces. ‘Ladies
and gentlemen, there have been many times over the years … when I
worried greatly about creating this enclave. At first … I thought I
would create a few jobs – more for Palestinians outside of the
occupied territories – and that the enclave might grow, easing
pressure on the occupied territories. But more than that, I wanted
somewhere where you could come together and live in peace.
‘But in time my ambition grew, grew into a dream that you may
have a separate land, and finally find some peace, and some sense of
national identity. Was part of my idea to move you away from the
Israelis? Yes, of course. That was not because I wanted you to give
up your claim to the land, it was simply because I wanted the two
sides to stop fighting.
‘I also knew about the troubles ahead, the troubles we’ll face in a
few short days. I knew … that if you remained in the occupied
territories, and there was a Middle East war, that you would be in the
middle of it, in no-mans land.
‘In the past four years this colony has grown, and has grown
peacefully into the modern and vibrant city that it is today. You no
longer worry about water shortages, jobs and Israeli helicopters –
you worry about traffic, school league tables, and the daily routine
of families. Well, they’re down to you, not me.
‘You’ll be pleased to know that the new rail link will be
completed soon, and a widening of the road to Mogadishu. Export of
ore should be simpler. And don’t forget, that my original agreement
with the Somalis was that you have an enclave five miles by five
miles.’ They laughed. ‘Not the twenty-five miles you now have.
‘Ladies and gentlemen. If you want to reward me for my efforts
here, then bring as many of your people as you can down here. That
… is my greatest wish. Thank you all.’
The representatives of the districts stood and applauded as I left,
the President accompanying me to my hotel. We chatted at length
over lunch, new deals and ideas discussed, before I claimed my
room and checked my emails.
At 8pm I stepped up to the roof, meeting again the President,
many TV cameras and journalists present. ‘You may proceed,’ I told
the President. He made a call, the Rescue Force unit mounting up.
From the rooftop we could both see, and hear, the Hueys, soon
watching them fly overhead and out to sea, heading for Oman via
Yemen as the sun tucked itself behind distant hills.
Everyone turned to face the southeast as drinks were handed out
to the assembled guests, and I could now see many people on nearby
roofs, crowds in the streets, kids faces in windows and on balconies.
A distant dull roar signalled that we had dispatched the local RF unit
just in time.
From the low hills that backed the enclave came a distant rumble,
soon a few black specs on the horizon, growing distinct and into the
shape of Chinook helicopters. A ‘V’ formation became recognisable
as the rumble grew, five Chinooks in formation coming straight for
us.
The first flight passed low enough for us to see their faces,
passengers hanging out the back and waving, the hotel roof
seemingly shaking as the formation thundered overhead and out to
sea, heading towards Yemen and Saudi Arabia. Three flights of
Chinooks roared past, normal conversation drowned out, a flight of
Pumas behind, soon followed by more white Hueys than anyone had
ever seen in one place at a time.
I stood staring up, a silly grin on my face, the sky full of the
Hueys in formation, doors open and rescuers sat on the sides. Group
after group passed overhead, some twelve minutes for them all to
pass over the hotel. As the last flight showed me their tails, their
images diminishing as they headed out to sea, I felt saddened to be
not going with them.
The President stepped closer. ‘I spent most of my life fearing
helicopters, or shouting abuse at them.’
I smiled. ‘And now?’
‘Now I rejoice that these brave people go to help the countries
that will suffer.’
‘Progress,’ I said.

The beginning of the end. March, 2025.

Stepping into my command and control centre at the Pentagon


building, I glanced at the array of screens, news channels from
around the world displayed. Thirty people buzzed around the room,
some sat behind computer screens, many peering up at large screens
displaying a map of the gulf with countries, capitals and certain
roads highlighted.
My deputy stepped up to me. ‘The last oil well was just capped
off, sir.’
‘Bloody typical; day to go and they’re just finishing off!’
‘All CAR wells now online and at capacity, sir.’
‘Shortfall?’
‘Holding at six percent, the Cubans still not agreeing prices and
quotas.’
‘It’ll have to do. And the Cubans can sell on the open market;
we’ll work around them. What is the market price?’
‘Two hundred and sixty dollars, sir.’
‘Not too bad, considering. Electric bus usage?’
‘It stands are sixty-two percent worldwide.’
‘Europe?’ I asked.
‘Eighty-nine percent.’
‘China?’
‘Seventy-five percent.’
‘Africa?’ I asked with a smile.
‘Ninety-two percent, sir,’ came back, also with a smile. ‘But …
Sweden has just banned all petrol cars, buses and trains – tractors
still permitted.’
‘They’re slow, New Palestine achieved that a year ago, so did the
Qatar and Emirates enclaves. Stock markets?’
‘DOW Jones is still sliding, sir, down four percent today, but
year-on-year is up more than twelve percent.’
‘Could be worse,’ I sighed. ‘OK, how many Saudis in their
enclaves?’
‘Two point two million, sir, and just under eight hundred
thousand for Qatar, one point four million for The Emirates. Kuwait
has tallied at just under a million in Angola, the remainder in Saudi
Arabia, as are the peoples of Qatar and The Emirates.’
‘And New Palestine?’ I asked.
‘One point six million, sir,’ my deputy proudly stated.
‘Unemployment at only twenty-six percent.’
‘Not bad, not bad at all,’ I told myself. I heaved a big breath.
‘Basra region?’
‘Evacuated to the north of the city, Southern Iran evacuated.’
‘Iraqi refugee camps?’ I knowingly asked.
‘None are bigger than ten thousand people, the total number
displaced standing at half a million. Pakistan reports that they are
ready. UN waiting for you, sir.’
I nodded and smiled. ‘Good work.’
In the next room I settled in front of a screen, immediately seeing
the UN Security Council at the other end. ‘Can you hear me?’
‘Yes, we can see and hear you,’ came back from the British
member, currently the rotating President.
‘Would you like me to go first?’ I asked.
‘Please do.’ They adjusted earpieces.
I glanced at my computer pad, a confirmation of the figures I had
just been briefed on. ‘We have less than half a million refugees in
Iraq, no camp bigger than ten thousand refugees. There are forty
thousand Rescue Force staff in Iraq, so plenty to go around. We also
have four thousand Cuban doctors, the Red Cross and the Red
Crescent in there, so the people should be feeling pretty bloody well
looked after by now!
‘Every refugee family has a hut to live in, we’ve got the medics
in tents, and we have spare huts ready. Food is stockpiled, water,
and a pack of cards for when they’re bored! Short of that, I can’t
think of anything else to do other than to wish them luck. Over to
you.’
‘We’re concerned about Pakistan, because few have evacuated
from Karachi and the coastal regions. They aim to sit on their roofs,’
the British chair of the UN Security Council stated.
‘Some areas will be hit with a fifty foot wave, so I hope they have
high roofs and solid houses,’ I said toward the screen. ‘As well as a
pack lunch to keep them going till the water level drops.’
‘In the north, they’re sleeping outside, but it’s cold for them. I’d
guess that some will stay indoors tonight.’
‘It’s due at 9am sharp, Gulf time, so they should be up and about
and stretching their legs,’ I commented.
‘And CAR?’ they asked.
‘We have thirty oil rigs and a hundred and sixty ships waiting to
go back in, which will take three days to get there towing the rigs.
That’s fine, because Jimmy says that the tsunami will slosh
backwards and forwards for two days at least.’
‘There are still people in Dubai, also on their roofs, some up the
tall towers.’
‘That’s down to the Dubai authorities. We can’t shoot people or
chase them around an empty city,’ I angrily stated. ‘I’m not risking
the lives of good people to chase after idiots!’ Calmer, I said, ‘There
are Rescue Force helicopters in the area. Maybe … maybe if a few
buildings survive the people could be picked up.’
‘Anything left to do?’ they asked.
‘Sit and wait, then start Operation Bucket and Spade.’
Some of the council members smiled. ‘It’s Operation Clean-up –
officially.’
‘Not down here it isn’t,’ I said with a smile.
‘And the African armies?’ the Chinese member enquired.
‘Trained, equipped, ready. We have a hundred and eighty
thousand Rifles to call upon, sixty thousand former members under
fifty-five years old, sixty thousand police reserves trained to soldier,
and two hundred thousand regular African soldiers – for what
they’re worth.
‘But I don’t think they’ll be needed for a few years; if at all.
We’ve moved out most of the refugees, we’ve built apartments in
the north of Iraq and Baghdad, and they have electric buses and cars,
solar panels and wind turbines on every blood roof. Most of the
citizens of Iraq can’t remember what an electricity bill looks like!
And Iraqi unemployment is lower than in the States.’
‘Thanks for that,’ the American council member offered.
‘How are you … financially?’ the British member asked.
‘Coping, so don’t worry about it. And the special reserve – we
haven’t touched that yet.’
The British council member said, ‘The Israelis will move into the
occupied territories tomorrow.’
I took a moment, and heaved a sigh. ‘It may sound wrong, but I
agree with what they’re doing. The Palestinian population has
reduced by half. If the Israelis sweep through and disarm everyone
left, there’ll be less trouble. Hell, there’s been less trouble in the past
two years. And if they expel those with Jordanian passports I’ll help
support the displaced in Jordan, and if they expel others for weapons
offences or any excuse they like, we’ll welcome into New Palestine.
‘Peace means more to me than that piece of land, and if the
Israelis administer it – as they used to – then maybe it will be better,
maybe they’ll harass those remaining and nudge them out. Either
way, Palestinians are living in peace in my enclave, which is now
twenty-five miles long and eight deep as of last week.’
‘We’re not going to condemn the Israeli move, but the wider
council will,’ they stated.
I offered the screen a big shrug, my hands wide. ‘Like I said, I
don’t care. And I have a party to go to.’
‘We heard. Why the celebration?’
‘We’re celebrating all the hard work of a lot of people, me
included.’
‘Good luck.’
‘To us all.’
I cut the transmission and called Bob Davies in Mapley. ‘You
awake, Bob?’ I asked as the screen came to life.
‘Not much to do now, not till tomorrow. We been using the
software to run simulations over and over, we’ve triple checked
supplies and dispositions. I’m going to have an early night.’
‘You are getting on now.’
‘Aren’t we all!’ Bob quipped.
‘I’m a young sixty-one!’
‘You look thirty something, so you’re doing something right.’
‘Swimming, sunshine, and a clear conscience, Bob. Besides, I
was injected young, and that helps.’
‘Jimmy seems to have taken a bit of a back seat to you,’ Bob
noted.
‘I’ve finally grown up and matured into the son he never had, or
would want!’
Bob laughed. ‘Where is he?’
‘On his way down here. Bit of a party tonight, to relieve some of
the stress.’
‘Well, I’m sure that we’ll speak tomorrow.’
‘Have a good rest tonight, old man.’ I touched the screen and it
blanked out.
At the mansion I welcomed Presidents Kimballa, Ngomo and Abdi,
Jimmy arriving with a new young lady, a Croatian model that was
all legs. I felt a small pang of jealousy.
‘Are we ready, Paul?’ Abdi asked.
‘We’ve done more than anyone could have asked of us,’ I said,
and I meant it; I felt drained.
When the doorbell rang again it was Solomon, the new President
of Zimbabwe and the former Army Chief. ‘Mister President,’ I
offered.
‘Mister President,’ he said with a tip of his head and a huge
toothy grin.
On the patio, I approached Jimmy, leading him to the end of the
garden and onto the jetty. ‘How we looking?’ I asked.
‘You tell me, you’ve been the force pushing this all along.’
I took in the lake. ‘We’ve tackled the refugee crisis, and beaten
up the Saudis and Iranians over the post-quake oil targets. CAR goes
in and takes it, and they get a cut. Beyond that, I’m fresh out if
ideas.’
‘You know about the Israelis?’
‘Yes,’ I said, letting out a breath. ‘I don’t care really, I hope they
kick out all the Palestinians.’
‘They should have done that in ’67, saving sixty years of conflict.
How many more can your enclave take?’
‘At least another million; it’s getting to be like New York down
there – all tall towers. And Abdi doesn’t care how much land we
use, he’s taken the Palestinians under his wing. There’s a Palestinian
embassy in Mogadishu.’
‘You altered global politics with the enclaves, Paul, and they
were something I never considered. And they’re working well;
we’ve not had any problems. You’ve also reduced the refugee
numbers, something I failed to do. Part of me even wanted to leave
them there.’ I faced him. He added, ‘I saw what they did and … and
that’s hard to let go. You want to - you know it’s right, but it’s hard
to let go. Old prejudices die hard.’
‘You recruited me and trained me, so if I’ve done a good job you
get some credit. Not much, but some.’
He smiled widely. ‘You’ll do well when I’m gone.’
‘Any … thoughts on that?’ I nudged.
‘I’ll wait a year or so to see what happens, then decide. Oh,
American lab came up with a drug that’s even better than the stuff
kicking around my system. One injection at aged twenty and you
could live to be two hundred or more.’
‘The Americans are struggling to pay their pension bill now, let
alone with people living to be two hundred!’
‘The bill that was passed means that by law, anyone injected
voids their pension till they show signs of slowing up, and that will
cause problems anyway. Even when people do slow up they’ll live
another forty years.’
‘French reckon they have SARS licked,’ I put in.
‘I have my doubts,’ Jimmy said.
‘Yemen is worrying me. Again. They’re across the water from
New Palestine and on life support from the Saudis. I might conduct
an ore survey and see if I can mine over there, just to help.’
‘Oman will stay peaceful after the quake. Help them where you
can.’
I nodded, noticing a fish jumping clear of the water. ‘Shelly gets
married in a year, and she’s talking about moving back to the UK.’
‘She’s supposed to go into politics.’
‘Politics? Shelly? Lucy is going into politics.’
Jimmy made eye contact and shook his head.
‘No?’
Liz ran up, my youngest now up to my shoulder. ‘Uncle Jimmy,
they’re asking for you,’ she politely stated.
‘First things first.’ He pointed. ‘You see that boat approaching.’
We both looked, no boat approaching, Liz shoved into the lake a
second later with a yelp.
Jimmy said, ‘Educate your young daughter, not to ask visiting
Africa Presidents if they’re well hung.’
‘She didn’t?’
‘She did,’ he said as we walked down the jetty, Liz shouting
abuse after him, a colourful choice of phrase for a ten year old.
The party went well, soggy daughter aside, and it was good to
relax and pat each other on the back after many years of hard work.
We had largely ignored the rest of the world and proceeded as we
had wanted to. Various governments came up with plans and
proposals, but I did it all my way.

When the dawn arrived I was already awake, soon in the situation
room and glued to screens - along with everyone else on the planet.
At 8.45am the world held its breath. It was Saturday, and images
arrived on the screens of empty streets in Asia, in Africa, and in
particular in Baghdad and Syria.
Ten minutes later an alarm sounded, a particular screen
displaying the quake pattern. Jimmy arrived a minute later and sat
next to me, having seen the show before. Live-feed cameras showed
dust clouds rising from Northern Pakistan, followed by images from
Southern Iran.
‘That’s just the warm-up,’ Jimmy said.
We focused on the screen displaying the quakes vibrations, the
line now settling. It spiked, settled, then spiked again, now much
larger than the previous output.
‘Right now, everyone in southeast Iran is on their backside on the
floor. That jolt would have lifted them a few feet off the ground.’
An image appeared of the abandoned Palm Frond houses in
Dubai. The sand surrounding the houses had gone, and the houses
themselves – luxury villas worth millions – started to sink.’
‘Liquefaction,’ Jimmy said. ‘They were built on compacted sand.
How stupid was that!’
‘Look!’ someone shouted, the main screen switch to the Palm
Fronds. ‘The water is going out!’
It didn’t stay out long, rushing back in and rearing up. The image
switched to one from the tallest tower, a live satellite link, and one
of many being beamed out today. The giant wave boiled itself up
into an angry monster, and as with Los Angeles turned the colour of
sand. It enveloped the Palm Fronds, making the villas look tiny.
‘There!’ someone shouted, rushing forwards and pointing.
A car could be seen driving down the main access road, away
from the wave. The wave rushed forwards, the camera still showing
the car speeding away.
‘They have nowhere to go,’ Jimmy stated.
Another image seemed to be on the roof of a two-storey house.
From that angle the wave appeared to be six or more storeys high.
The image died quickly. From the tallest tower, the boiling wave
front moved forwards. A tower block took a hit, the water swirling
around it, the building slowly collapsing backwards.
‘That was a twenty storey building,’ Jimmy noted.
The camera fixed to the tallest tower shook, the image blurred,
then lost. Another view, from an aircraft, showed Dubai like a street
map, the water moving across like a beige coloured blanket being
pulled across the city.
Images from Kuwait City appeared next, the city’s landmark
towers in view from a point a mile inland. The water came at the city
side on, moving buildings off their foundations as it progressed.
‘Call up the Shatt al Arab waterway,’ I requested.
An image appeared of a point near the Kuwaiti border.
‘The water level has dropped,’ I noted.
‘Not for long,’ Jimmy suggested.
We could see a grey line on the horizon, getting larger, soon
filling the image. Even though we weren’t there, the fear in the room
was palpable, the camera image soon lost. Another appeared, that of
the top of our desalination plant. We waited.
The image came with sound, and we could hear a roar of wind
picking up. Defences had been dug, numerous high sand barriers,
concrete barriers near the plant itself.
A rolling wave of sand hit the first sand barrier and bounced high
into the air, hit from behind a few seconds later. A second wave hit
the second sand barrier and again burst upwards. But as we
observed, it seemed to lose momentum, trickling through the final
barrier.
‘Our beach hotel will be hit in four hours or so,’ Jimmy
remarked. ‘It’s full of tourists, but they’ll be on the roof. Afterwards,
or tomorrow, they’ll help clear the sand out the restaurant.’ He
tipped his head, leading me towards the door. We climbed to the
roof garden and ordered coffee and doughnuts.
‘So what now?’ I asked.
‘Now, we wait. We rebuild the Middle East where we can, and …
and we wait, and we hope. And, in a few short years, my knowledge
of this place will end. After that … well, its down to you, and
others.’
‘You said there’d be a final battle.’
Jimmy took a moment, taking in the view. ‘Sealed documents
will be given to you after I leave. Worry about it at the time.’
‘Should I be preparing for it now?’
‘No. Now … you have at least a year, so try and enjoy it; don’t
burn yourself out.’

2035. A long voyage

Jimmy had been gone four years, but I received a coded email and
prepared for his arrival. A plane was sent out to Fiji, Jimmy’s
sailboat docking after an extended voyage.
He hadn’t endured much in the way of hardship, since he had
built a luxurious pad in a cave many years earlier, and the lady
visitors had been most pleasing on the eye – I received images. The
cave offered all modern conveniences and allowed a passive link to
the web; Jimmy could see what was going on, but could not be
traced.
As with my memoirs, his were now finished - including details of
trips to other worlds, and I was sure that he would beat mine up the
eBook charts.
Leaving my cabin, my dissertation on its way to the editors, I
entered the large galley and sat next to Lucy, her daughters stuffing
their faces, a Holton family trait. And no sons produced by either
Lucy or Shelly so far.
‘Mum was on,’ Lucy commented as she cleaned up the girl’s
messy lips.
‘Where is she?’ I asked.
‘New York, at the UN.’
‘Perfect. Jimmy’s flying in to San Francisco tonight.’
Lucy snapped her head around. ‘He was here all along then,’ she
said, giving me a disapproving look. ‘Not back through time.’
‘He wrote his memoirs, sat in the sun, did a little sailing.’
‘And now?’
I took a moment. ‘And now he’ll be going back.’
Lucy appeared saddened, and she would not be alone when the
news broke. ‘He might not survive,’ she mentioned.
‘It’s his choice.’
‘Do you think he’ll … go on to other worlds?’
‘No, definitely not. He’ll … end it if necessary.’
‘He could stay here,’ Lucy suggested as she tended her kids, the
girls now four and five.
‘He knows what he’s doing, and it’s his choice.’
‘When do you go back to work?’ Lucy asked me.
‘Two weeks or so, but I’ve kept up on the issues.’
‘And mum?’
‘She’s happy to stay as deputy to the UN Secretary General for
now.’
‘The man’s a fool; mum does a better job of it.’
‘You may think that, but I could not possibly comment,’ I said
with a smile.
‘Shelly’s in New York already,’ Lucy mentioned.
‘And…?’ I nudged.
Lucy made a face. ‘She’ll go back to the UK and run again for
Prime Minster.’
‘And…?’ I pressed.
‘They’re animals; the MPs and the press. She’s flogging a dead
horse.’
‘She has a calling, as you do. Well, it’s a bit of a mixed up calling
for you both; she was the scientist, and went into politics, and you
studied economics and politics, and became a scientist. Go figure.’
‘You and mum don’t spend a lot of time together these days,’
Lucy thought she’d mention.
‘We’re not seeing other people…’ I let float.
‘If you asked her, maybe she’d quit the job and live in Goma.’
‘What I’ll do … is respect your mother’s wishes. Besides, she’s
doing a good job of keeping an eye on the fool she works for.’
In the hours before we docked in Bermuda I watched the news,
images of Jimmy in Fiji, waving as he boarded the plane. Seemed
that all of the police in Fiji had turned out, as well as all of the
citizens.
Picked up at the harbour, I was whisked towards the airport with
Lucy and the kids, a large police escort, tourists stopping to snap the
convoy. At the airport I boarded Africa II, an old converted 747XP
from 2026, and we headed north towards New York as Jimmy
headed northeast towards San Francisco.
Arriving at our hotel in New York, I found Helen already in the
room, a meal thoughtfully ordered in advance of my pending arrival.
‘For me?’ I mouthed, Helen on the phone.
She nodded, and I sat at table to tuck in, Helen finishing her call
and sitting opposite. ‘Jimmy’s due to land in San Francisco soon.’
‘He’s probably got a tan, and an old salty-dog beard.’
‘He emailed the book, but some parts are coded to just you.’
I considered that for a moment, then tucked in. ‘Lucy was hoping
you’d go back to being more of a housewife in Goma.’
‘Had that from Liz the other day,’ Helen put in, grabbing some
toast.
‘And how is the little darling?’
‘Pregnant.’
‘Liz? Is pregnant?’
Helen rolled her eyes. ‘Drunken party at college, a work-up to
graduation.’
‘Do we know who the father is?’
‘She says yes, but I have my doubts.’
‘Bloody marvellous. I always figured Shelly would be pregnant
before fifteen, and she had kids at thirty!’
‘Well, Mister President of Africa, we’re going to have a single
mum in the family; a bit of gossip for the press.’ She took a moment.
‘Do you know what Jimmy will do?’
‘He’ll go back. I’ll meet him in Canada day after tomorrow. Are
you … free?’
‘I’ll move things around. Be nice to see him before he goes.’
‘He felt a little useless after 2029, not knowing the future,’ I
mentioned. ‘Too used to being able to call it.’
‘They love him none the less. And if people know that he’s going
there’ll be a crowd in Canada.’
‘The Canadian authorities and US military will seal the area;
they’ve promised not to try and interfere when the portal opens.’
‘They wouldn’t dare. But I heard that NASA received something
from Jimmy.’
‘Yeah?’ I puzzled.
An hour later we met Shelly, now the Member of Parliament for
Monmouth for five years and leader of the Labour Party in
opposition, the British elections a year away. She was good at
attacking the incumbent Prime Minister, her wit and sarcasm coming
from me. She was also the best-looking Member of Parliament by a
long way and used her smile to open political doors. A little flirting
went a long way with crusty old back-benchers in the commons.
In the old New York nightclub, still going strong, we booked a
side room and ordered Indian food.
‘Jimmy going back?’ Shelly asked.
I nodded.
‘You could just kidnap him and hold him here. Or we could ask
the Canadians to bar him access,’ Shelly suggested.
‘We’ll all … respect other people’s wishes, as we did with
yours.’
‘I went into politics, father, not a dangerous alternate dimension!’
‘I don’t know, I think the House of Commons qualifies as being
full of people from another planet,’ I quipped.
‘Mother?’ Shelly called, wanting some backup.
‘Yes … child?’
‘Don’t child me, old lady,’ Shelly retorted.
‘Old lady?’ I repeated with a grin. ‘Your mum doesn’t look a day
over thirty-five.’
Helen gave a look, now sixty-nine years old, but not looking
more than forty. ‘We should buy something for Jimmy to take back.’
‘Warm coat?’ I sarcastically asked. ‘Some food?’
‘I think he’ll travel again,’ Shelly suggested. ‘He’ll spend a few
days or weeks back, and travel.’
‘No,’ I said. ‘There’s … something you don’t know, and I’ll
explain it later. But … no, he won’t be taking a few days or weeks to
think about it.’
Helen and Shelly stared at me. ‘Will he be in danger?’ Helen
asked.
I nodded. ‘Some, yes. But he has an idea of how to … be in less
danger.’
‘He should take an army back with him,’ Shelly suggested.
‘Limited energy on the portal, so limited time,’ I explained. ‘Just
two minutes. Well, minute and a half actually.’
‘He could still take someone back,’ Shelly suggested.
‘They’d be in danger, and probably stuck there,’ I pointed out.
‘Plenty of people would volunteer, even knowing the risks,’
Helen insisted.
‘Yeah, well you take it up with him.’ I told her. ‘And … good
luck on persuading him.’
I gave a quick interview about Jimmy’s return, where he had
been, but I made no mention of where he was going. In San
Francisco, Jimmy organised an impromptu press conference at the
airport.
‘Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to remind you that it’s my
birthday next week, and that I’ll be two hundred and seventy six
years old. It may not be easy for people to understand how I’ve lived
so long, or where I’ve been, but I have written it all down. That
story, the story of my life, will be released in the years ahead.
‘Paul Holton has also written his life story, and both books with
probably be released around the same time. His book looks from the
perspective of being recruited by me, mine looks from my own
recruitment to go back through time. They are very different stories.’
‘Where have you been?’ they asked.
‘I needed a break, a holiday to recharge my batteries, and to think
about what I do next. I’ll be meeting Paul and his family in Canada
for a reunion, and after that I’ll decide on my future. As for where
I’ve been, I was sailing around the Pacific. Thank you, I’ll make
another speech in Canada, but I request that people do not try and
follow us there, we need some time alone.’

I arrived at the hotel in Canada the next day, Helen, the girls and
their husbands, and all of the grandchildren in tow. Shelly spotted a
tanned Jimmy coming across the foyer and ran across, a big hug
given, her husband holding back.
Easing back but holding onto Jimmy, she asked Jimmy, ‘Are you
going back?’ He didn’t answer, hugging Lucy and Helen in turn,
finally picking up Liz and swinging her around, a yelp issued.
Jimmy gestured us towards a table, drinks and food ordered, the
grandchildren puzzling the big stranger. ‘In answer to your question,
yes – I will be going back. I have … unfinished business.’
‘You could be killed,’ Shelly pointed out.
‘I could have been killed many times over the years,’ Jimmy
reminded her. Only now could I see flecks of grey hair above his
ears, a few extra lines around his eyes.
‘This is different,’ Shelly pointed out. ‘It has a certain … finality
to it.’
‘Not necessarily,’ Jimmy said with an enigmatic smile. ‘There are
… possibilities.’ He faced me. ‘After I’m gone, documents will be
released to you. NASA has already had a few.’
‘They’ll build a time machine?’ Lucy asked. ‘It’s been outlawed!’
‘And rightly so,’ Jimmy agreed. ‘But research is OK, because
some day soon you may wish to … look into that area.’
I knew what he was talking about, but the others didn’t. They
believed that he had travelled back many times, despite the lack of
logic to that premise, and the resultant paradoxes that would have
been created. As far as most of the world was concerned, it was still
a mystery.
We got off the topic of Jimmy’s imminent departure as Jimmy
asked all about the family gossip, jobs, and Liz’s contraceptive
habits. We sat there for two hours, drinks and a meal served. When
the grandchildren needed tending, just Jimmy, Helen and myself
were left.
‘It’s been a long journey,’ Jimmy said with a sigh. ‘And you’ll
understand more when you read my book.’
‘Two hundred and seventy six,’ I said. ‘That took some doing.’
Jimmy shrugged. ‘You face each day, and you try not to think too
far ahead, or to fix too much in one go – or you’d stress yourself into
an early grave. Every time you go to sleep, the wonderful human
brain washes away a lot of the stress, and you wake up and start
again.
‘I’ve been injected many times, and my brain cells are not the
same ones I had at the start; there are real gaps about my childhood -
things I can’t remember. When I came back I studied old
photographs and added new memories, listening to my parents
describe old holidays and trips. Each time I came back I had to study
a great deal.
‘My bones and teeth are still the same, at least some of it is, but
every other part of me is new. I am, technically, a new person –
biologically speaking.’
‘Back at the apartment in London, 1985, you were always
reading,’ I commented.
Jimmy nodded. ‘I was re-reading human history, just to be sure.
But the good thing about the stems was that my brain was like that
of an inquisitive teenager; my capacity for gaining new knowledge
was good. Old brain cells, with images of my youth, were being
replaced by earth history, technical facts, and geography.
‘But in the last four years I’ve forgotten quite a bit. Writing the
book, I had to stop and research my own youth. I couldn’t picture
the school I attended, so I found it online – then a few memories
came back. I even found stories on the net of people who knew me
as a kid, and that helped. But, for the most part, they could have
been anyone, I couldn’t have proved them wrong.’
‘I have a hard time remembering my youth,’ Helen admitted.
‘I’ve stuffed my head full of UN facts and pushed the other
memories out.’
‘What are your plans?’ Jimmy asked her.
‘I might stay where I am another year, or accept the role of head
of the UN for Africa,’ she replied.
‘Why not go for UN Secretary General?’ Jimmy nudged.
‘They’re a squabbling bunch of kids,’ she said. ‘If I want
something done, I call Paul and work around them.’
‘If you’re the Secretary General – you can still call Paul,’ Jimmy
pointed out. He slid his gaze across to me. ‘How’s GDP?’
‘Steady,’ I replied. ‘It’s found a straight line on the graph.
Population growth is down a bit; it’s as you said, educated Africans
in good jobs have fewer kids. And since they know they could live a
long time they hold off starting families. Gotham City is known as
couples city.’
‘Population?’
‘Hundred and ten million for the DRC now,’ I proudly stated.
‘Ten million foreigners.’
‘And South Africa?’
‘Boom and bust,’ I lamented. ‘Boom and bust. But they are closer
to Brazil now, a few new trade agreements.’
‘My tree planting projects in Africa and India are going well,’
Helen put in. ‘Good forestation in most places. They say it’ll alter
the world’s climate a fraction.’
‘Found coal in Tibet,’ I mentioned. ‘Gearing up mines now.’
‘All sounds good, and it sounds like the planet is in good hands,’
Jimmy commented.
Helen shot me a look. To Jimmy, she said, ‘You don’t have to
go.’
‘Yes, I do, there are people waiting for me.’
‘I still don’t understand how you can go somewhere,’ Helen
complained.
‘Your dear husband will explain it after I’ve gone. Anyway,
tonight I’m going to eat plenty, and drink plenty, because there’s
very little of each where I’m going.’

I stood with Jimmy in the field, the weather cooperating with a crisp
spring morning, dew on the grass. At the edge of the field the
security detail stood waiting, curiously watching us, and wondering
what we were up to; I had not briefed them. They had already
erected a small table and chair set for us, food and drink on it, plus a
tent in case it rained.
Jimmy took out a small device, switched it on and checked the
setting. ‘They’ll detect the signal through a micro-portal that is
always open, just a few molecules wide, then take a guess as to
where it’s coming from, narrow it down, eventually to within a few
weeks or so. Then they’ll open larger micro-portals a few times a
day, every day. Well, it’s every day here - but every minute over
there. If they get a lock on they’ll open the portal and … off I go.’
‘So it could take twenty-four hours?’
‘Yep, hence the table and picnic hamper.’ He set the device and
placed it onto the damp grass.
Stepping back five yards, we sat and poured drinks from the
thermos, staring at a piece of air in the middle of a field.
‘This is easier at night, because the portal’s fucking hard to see in
the daylight,’ he said. ‘Once, well - twice before, you were here with
me, seeing me off. It was a cold and wet night, and we’d given the
security detail the slip. We pinched a helicopter and flew over the
border, bought a car for cash and made our way here.’
‘And if it doesn’t open?’ I asked, stretching out my legs.
‘That’s a possibility actually. They may have run out of time on
the other side.’
‘Run out of time?’
‘It’s all in my book. Just remember … for the future, that between
here and there … time has no meaning. It’s all relative.’
I stared back, a puzzled frown forming.
‘You’ll understand after reading the book.’
An hour later, the morning warming up nicely, I took a layer off.
‘Pleasant enough spot.’
‘It is,’ Jimmy agreed. ‘And an image I’ll take back.’
‘There are a few nice models you could have spent your last few
hours with,’ I mentioned.
‘They don’t have your charm and wit,’ he quipped, focussed on
the field. ‘Besides, we’ve been at this a long, long time. And this
field … mark the spot and don’t mix it up.’
‘Mix it up?’
‘You’ll understand –’
‘When I read the book, yes.’
We enjoyed a leisurely lunch, the security staff sat watching us
from the edge of the field, then opened a bottle of wine.
‘When I go, I’ll have to go quickly, so … you know,’ Jimmy
said.
‘Yes, no hugs or long goodbyes; it would be embarrassing.’
‘You did it, Paul, you fixed it,’ he said, suddenly serious. ‘Africa,
the enclaves, the refugees, and New Palestine. On top of it all, you
brought some semblance of peace to the Middle East … and adopted
the region it as you adopted Africa.’
I stared across the field. ‘I like building things. And I like
spending money.’
‘And that was the answer all along,’ Jimmy noted. ‘And I missed
it.’
‘Not really; you just missed the last five percent, the rest you got
right, perfectly right. And to do it over and over? I couldn’t have
done that, and I doubt few could. And Doctor Singh was right - the
military would have never pulled it off. They’d just have started the
war earlier.’
‘Definitely,’ Jimmy agreed. ‘The last peice of the puzzle was a
little tender loving care. You had it, but I held onto my hatred of The
Brotherhood. You managed to see the people before they became
terrorists, and to see some good in them.’
I nodded. ‘I wanted to thank you, for … Helen and the girls. I
could have easily just been a playboy.’
Jimmy now nodded himself. ‘It gave you a stability.’ He faced
the field. ‘Over there … I have ten children, all just a few months
old.’
‘The ladies you made pregnant to get the stems,’ I stated. ‘And
the chocolate in the backpack?’
‘Gifts, for people who’ve not seen chocolate for a long time.
Well, I took some back the last time.’ He stood and stretched his
back. ‘I still remember the look on your face when I told you who I
was.’
‘You scared the crap out of me, then played to my weaknesses by
telling me I’d be rich. God, I was useless in those days.’
‘You were twenty something, I was two hundred and something,
so it wasn’t a fair comparison.’
‘You were so cool, like the big brother I never had,’ I said with a
smile. ‘But I hated you for that visit to the orphanage. God it was a
rough place back then. And when you told Mary you were in the
Second World War – I believed that!’
‘I fooled a lot of people,’ Jimmy said, staring at the distant hills.
‘Including my own parents. And I killed my other self five times.
This time around I was tempted to inject my parents and keep them
alive but … but I would have found it hard to explain things to them,
including murdering their son. I just … just wanted to have the
option not to worry about them while I was worrying about
everything else. It’s something that has plagued me for a long time.’
‘My mother didn’t want the stronger drug, she wanted to go,’ I
said.
‘Living a long time is not such a blessing, not when you carry the
emotional baggage around with you. If I thought I’d live forever I’d
probably blow my brains out.’
‘Spoken to Brad?’ I asked.
‘Sent him a note, he’s still running The Ark. And he and Hardon
Chase made all the difference. That conversation I had with Chase in
the Oval Office - that was a turning point; I focused him more on
how he would be remembered than on his term in office itself.’
‘He stepped down from the Senate three years ago, still active
with The Ark,’ I put in. ‘Brad’s second term was touch and go. We
had the right wing on board, but the Democrats were at his throat.’
‘You spent a fortune in Mexico, and that helped,’ Jimmy noted as
he stood staring across the field. ‘You found ore that even I didn’t
know about.’
‘It was a tried and tested routine,’ I said. ‘And CAR, they could
sink a borehole in a day. These days they use lasers and water
cutters; they go through rocks like a hot knife through butter.’
‘How’re your bio-fuels?’ Jimmy asked.
‘We have good production levels, but they’ll never match coal-oil
or nuclear. It’s not much cheaper than solar power or wind power.
Besides, the need for liquid fuels is waning.’
‘There’s something you should know. The third time around,
when Helen first came to work for me, me and her … well, we were
lovers for years, and she made it to Canada with Big Paul and Ricky.
I hate to say it, but I shagged your wife.’
‘I always wondered if you two had been close. I mean, she was
sent to spy on you – and you knew about it.’
Jimmy heaved a sigh. ‘In Canada … I lied to them; Helen and the
others. I told them if I stepped back into the machine and altered
things … that they would never have known about it. I left them
there.’
‘Best spot to be at the time,’ I noted.
‘They had a house stocked with goodies I set up. I did that each
time, but kept it secret. I have a place in Montana, Canada, and
Texas, set-up … you know, just in case, but didn’t need to use them
this time around. And, the day before yesterday, I went horse
riding.’
He took in the field. ‘Wasn’t easy, I almost burst out crying. You
know, I was never happier than when it was just me and the horses
camped by a river. The lifestyle was so simple, so little to worry
about, no confounded emails; it was just me and nature. And that’s
what I craved, a simple existence. But I got this.’
The air around us cracked, and my heart raced. Jimmy smiled
widely, grabbing the backpack, a shimmering circle now visible just
a few yards in front of me. I wanted to reach out and grab him.
Without a word he turned and accelerated, and I stepped after
him, getting an image of the laboratory he mentioned, people
moving about – and looking back at me. Jimmy jumped headfirst
into the image, and I saw him land, the image gone a second later.
With the security staff approaching, I kicked over the table,
picking up a chair and smashing it down on to the upturned table.
‘He’s gone?’ an out of breath guard said a few seconds later.
I kicked the table, turned and walked across the field, enquiries
about Jimmy ignored.
Helen and the girls stared at me in silence as I found them in the
restaurant. I sat without a word, offering a reassuring smile to the
grandchildren. Helen and Shelly exchanged looks, the rest of their
lunch eaten in an awkward silence, the children wondering what was
wrong.
Walking down to the lake with Shelly, I pointed. ‘Do you remember
rescuing a boy here?’ I softly asked.
‘Yes,’ she said. ‘Jimmy lifted me up and carried me in, fetching
me ice cream as a reward.’
‘For a while back then, I used to check you didn’t have gills and
webbed feet.’
We approached the shore, the water a light blue, the sheer cliffs
shading part of the lake and forming a dark blue corner, a few
tourists in canoes enjoying the warm day. I remembered us canoeing
around the lake with Big Paul and his son, and suddenly felt that I
had lost something, something precious that would never come back.
I wanted to reach back in time and live the moment again, to make
the clock stop at drag out the day. It was a horrible feeling in my
stomach.
‘Did Jimmy tell you about all the trouble I got into when I was
young?’ Shelly asked, a hand over her eye as she took in the lake.
‘He covered it up of course.’
‘No. Thankfully.’
‘I lost my virginity at fourteen, to a twenty-year old farmers son.
Police were involved.’
‘They arrested him?’
‘No, they arrested me.’
‘What for?’ I puzzled.
‘The sex was OK, but afterwards he refused to give me a lift
home, so I broke his nose, then battered him with a shovel.’
I laughed, putting my hands in my pockets. ‘You were
headstrong. Get that from your mother, not me.’
‘And I made a pass at Jimmy dozens of times.’
‘I figured that.’
‘He slapped me a few times, had me handcuffed once and kept in
the basement. Locked me in a room at the club in London.’
‘Well I’m hoping that’s not in his book.’
‘And I damaged Michelle’s car; I was jealous of her.’
‘You turned out all right in the end, but you surprised Jimmy by
not going to university in California and studying oceanography.’
‘I applied, and I had the acceptance … but wanted to do
something sooner rather than later, something to help. And I loved
Goma, I wanted to stay.’
‘Do you remember “M” Group meetings, kicking people in the
shins?’ I asked.
Shelly nodded. ‘I embarrassed the Chinese Premier a few times,
deliberately.’
‘Never would have thought that the Americans would have
tolerated the Greater Chinese Union; Taiwan, Korea, and Myanmar.
But it’s turned out well.’
‘They’re more worried about Africa these days, you pinching
their export market,’ Shelly put in.
‘Will you go back into British politics?’
‘It’s possible, but they’re such children. I might try and find a
small and struggling nation somewhere and just try and build it up
from scratch.’
‘You got that from me,’ I noted. ‘Why not try Papua New
Guinea; they have ore, and lots of problems.’
‘Something like that. I’ll live a long time, so I’ll probably move
around a little. What about you?’
‘Africa for now. More to build; always more to build.’

An hour later I faced a bank of cameras outside of the hotel,


requesting that the images be transmitted to all news outlets around
the world, and on the web, at the same time.
‘Ladies and gentlemen, Jimmy Silo has left us. He is not dead,
but he is no longer on this planet. He has gone … to where he came
from.
‘He asked me to consider carefully before revealing the nature of
his time travel, and his presence here. Well, to hell with that. Jimmy
came to us from a parallel dimension, another version of Earth that’s
almost identical to this one. His own world had suffered a global war
and had been destroyed, but his journey here was not to escape that
world. His journey here was to help us, to prevent us suffering the
same fate.
‘Jimmy left behind those he cared about, and journeyed to this
world in order to try and help us, the citizens of this planet, knowing
all the time that it would not help those he left behind. There was no
greater act of kindness, there will be no one more determined, or as
strong, ever again. This world has lost Jimmy Silo, its guardian
angel, but he only left after he knew this world was safe.
‘We should have destroyed ourselves before now, but we were
spared – with a little help. We owe it to Jimmy not to destroy
ourselves in the decades ahead. He … he gave us our world back,
and I hope you can all live up to that.’

A day later I landed back in Goma, Africa having declared three


days of mourning, state mourning, schools closed. I journeyed
around to the main square in New Kinshasa at 6am, to the unveiling
of a statue I had commissioned six months ago. Despite the hour,
chosen to avoid the crowds, thousands of people lined the square in
silence.
I had noticed a statue of Atlas previously, the muscle bound god
kneeling whilst carrying the world on his shoulder. It seemed fitting.
Kimballa pulled the chord, the sheet falling away. The facial
likeness was good on the huge bronze statue, the pose apt, not a dry
eye in the square. I hugged Kimballa, then turned away, one last
glance over my shoulder as I boarded the coach. At the mansion, I
cancelled all appointments and called up Jimmy’s book on my
computer. It asked for a password, with a hint: Who would the
mystery man have killed at River View? I entered ‘Rudd’.
Next question: During the Long Voyage, what island did we find
the most supplies on? I entered ‘Seychelles.’
The software allowed me in, and I started to read.

Manson, Canada

Jimmy landed partly on his shoulder, partly the backpack, trying


hard not to smash the contents. With Singh attempting to lift
Jimmy’s heavy frame, the assembled technicians applauded loudly,
all now offering beaming smiles as they closed in and formed a half-
circle.
Jimmy dusted himself down. ‘Thank you; it’s always nice to be
appreciated. He took in their haggard appearance and tired faces
What’s the time?’
‘Almost seven AM Monday morning,’ Singh said with a smile.
‘I guess you’ve been watching my progress.’
‘Local farmer had unsecured wi-fi Internet access. We found
more stories about you than anything else,’ Singh reported through a
huge smile. ‘When you were reported as missing we worried a little,
but seeing what you did to that world – well, we were all jubilant.’
‘Just a little worried about me missing,’ Jimmy teased. He lifted
his backpack and placed it on a desk, unzipping the pocket. ‘Latest
high-power computer, and the history of the world – that world – all
songs and all books.’ He handed it over to Singh.
Reaching into the bag, Jimmy pulled out a dozen large bars of
chocolate. ‘Ladies, more chocolate.’
The female technicians tore open the foil and bit down on the
milk chocolate.
Jimmy pulled out a photograph in a glass frame, fortunately
unbroken. He handed it to Singh without a word.
‘Meena?’ Singh gasped, putting down the computer pad.
‘Your other self married her, as you asked me to arrange, and you
– your other half – had six kids.’
‘Six?’ Singh was shocked. ‘Six!’
Jimmy took off his coat, dressed smartly in a suit underneath. ‘I
gave your other half a lot of money, so feeding the brood won’t be a
problem for him.’
Singh slowly nodded as he studied the picture intensely. Lifting
his gaze, he said, ‘What you did in Africa – amazing, truly amazing.
And the spread of the technologies – incredible.’
‘I had a little help, and some practise. How long was I gone?’
‘Three hours.’
‘Fifty-two years the other side,’ Jimmy noted. He sighed, ‘Fifty-
two years.’
Pulling another photograph from the bag, he handed it in silence
to a lady technician. After a second studying the image she burst into
tears, consoled by her colleagues.
‘Your brother did well, very well, and I made sure that he was
cured of cancer in time. He’s now married with three kids and
working in Seattle. You ended up in Hawaii, at an observatory, but
you left in time. After that you went to Europe, but never married.’
‘Do you think it will work, Jimmy?’ Singh asked, everyone
focusing on Jimmy.
Jimmy smiled. ‘Send the signal.’
A lady technician rushed forwards and operated a computer,
‘Power is limited,’ she said as another technician threw a switch.
When done, both technicians stood back from the coils that powered
the portal, waiting expectantly.
‘Well,’ Jimmy said with a sigh. ‘I guess we’d better face the
music. Someone open that door and send for General Gibbs.’
With the door unlocked, two guards stepped in, drab green
uniforms that had seen better days. ‘What the fuck was the door
locked for? It’s been locked for hours, we tried it!’
They focused on Jimmy. ‘Who are you?’
‘Silo, James,’ Jimmy calmly responded.
‘Silo’s dead.’ The man stepped forwards, to with inches of
Jimmy. ‘You … you look different, and why are you alive?’
‘Chocolate?’ Jimmy asked, handing the guard a bar.
‘Chocolate? Can’t even get that on the black market.’
Jimmy lifted an A4 computer pad from the backpack, turning it
on. ‘Computer. Display New Year celebrations, 2034.’
The screen came to life, images of celebrations in Time Square,
New York, the guards focused on the scene.
From his backpack, Jimmy pulled out a silver ball. ‘Watch this.’
He held it out, tapped it twice on the top, and let go. It stayed where
he had left it. Giving it a gentle tap, the ball moved slowly towards
Singh, who tapped it back, Jimmy letting it bounce off a wall and
return.
‘That’s not my favourite toy. Watch this.’ He pulled out what
appeared to be a dead Sparrow, tossing it up and catching it. ‘It’s a
toy. Sparrow, fly!’
The bird came to life and flew around the room, settling on a
chair back.
‘Where’d you get this stuff?’ the guard asked, breaking the
chocolate bar and stuffing down squares.
‘From the future,’ Jimmy carefully mouthed.
‘The … future?’ they puzzled.
‘It’s a time machine, isn’t it?’
‘You … you mean it works?’
‘More or less,’ Jimmy responded. He pulled out a four-pack of
Bud, handing a can to each amazed guard, and cracked one open
himself.
‘Haven’t seen these for years,’ a guard noted.
Half an hour later, General Gibbs arrived with his adjutant and a
dozen guards, walking in to something of a party atmosphere. ‘What
the hell is going on?’ he barked, being ignored. ‘It’s just been
reported to me that the door was locked all night!’
The silver ball slowly floated past, curiously observed by Gibbs,
the sparrow flying around, but whistling as it flew – whistling Dixie.
Jimmy stepped down towards Gibbs. The general squinted, taking a
step forwards. ‘Silo?’
‘It’s been a very long time, general,’ Jimmy stated.
General Gibbs looked Jimmy up and down. ‘You’ve … changed.
And where the hell have you been? We found your jeep in the river!’
‘That was a very long time ago,’ Jimmy said with a sigh, thinking
back. ‘Three hundred years.’
‘Three hundred years? What the hell are you talking about?’
Gibbs barked.
‘Doctor Singh got your machine to work.’
‘Work? The … the time machine?’
Jimmy lifted his eyebrows and nodded. ‘Where your people
failed, Singh succeeded. But the good doctor didn’t want to see a
stupid jarhead like you in control of it. So I stepped through.’
General Gibbs shot Singh a look. ‘You’re a dead man.’ He turned
to the guards. ‘Arrest them all!’
The guards drew weapons.
‘Bad idea, General, because you’ll never make it work without
these people,’ Jimmy told Gibbs.
‘We’ll see,’ Gibbs threatened.
A soldier ran in. ‘Sir, come quick!’
Jimmy turned to Singh and winked.
‘What is it?’ Gibbs asked.
‘Soldiers outside, thousand of them.’
‘What soldiers?’ Gibbs asked. ‘Texans?’
‘No, sir, but they are American – but their uniforms and weapons,
they’re nothing like I’ve ever seen before. They say … they say
they’re from the future.’
Gibbs turned and focused on Jimmy.
‘General Gibbs,’ Jimmy loudly stated. ‘You are hereby relieved
of command.’ He turned to the guards. ‘Put your weapons down,
before I forget what a nice man I am. Those soldiers outside are
mine, kitted out with advanced weapons from the future. Put your
weapons down, gentlemen, or face the consequences.’
Confused, the guards lowered their weapons, the sounds of boots
echoing along a corridor. The doors burst open, two soldiers holding
the double-doors open, a four-star general striding in. He walked
right up to Jimmy, pushing guards aside, and saluted.
‘Mister Silo. Sir! General Mathews, and ten thousand US
Marines, reporting as requested.’
Jimmy smiled, shaking the general’s hand. ‘What kept you?’
‘You’re … from the future?’ General Gibbs asked.
‘No point in building a damn time machine if it doesn’t work!’
General Mathews told Gibbs. ‘We have food, medical supplies, and
advanced weaponry to fight The Brotherhood.’
General Gibbs pointed towards the portal coils. ‘But … but if it
works, then why not go back and stop the war?’
‘That would create a paradox, and would stop Mister Silo from
having reached us,’ General Mathews stated. ‘And, since we’re very
happy that he did reach us … it would not be allowed.’ Mathews
pointed at the guards. ‘Outside. Now!’ The men filed out, past the
Marines.
Jimmy took a step forwards, smiled at Gibbs, then knocked him
down. ‘I’ve been wanting to do that for a while.’ He stepped closer
and stamped down on Gibbs’ groin.
Boots snapped to attention in the corridor, the report echoing.
Jimmy turned towards the door, and I stepped in. I walked forwards,
taking in the room, the technicians, the dirty floor and the sticky-
tape keeping things together. General Mathews stamped to attention
and saluted me.
‘You’re … Paul Holton,’ Singh realised as he stepped closer. We
shook.
‘I met your other self and your – his - family many times, Doctor
Singh.’ I turned to Jimmy. ‘I don’t remember you wearing a suit
when you came through.’
‘How much time has passed that side?’ Jimmy asked me as the
technicians closed in.
‘Twelve years! Took bloody forever to get a consensus on the
time portal,’ I told Jimmy. ‘Anyway, this is the famous lab, eh?’
Jimmy took in the faces of the tired staff. ‘You’re safe now,
you’re all safe.’ He turned to me as the ladies burst into tears again.
‘Can they be evacuated?’
‘Of course they can; the portal outside is open and stable,’ I told
Jimmy. I faced the group, taking in their expectant faces. ‘We’ll be
taking you to our world, and to the future; good food, warm beds,
and a few billion people who’d like to say hello … and to say thank
you.’
The ladies dried their eyes, the men patting each other on the
back.
‘What position do you hold now?’ Jimmy asked me as I directed
everyone outside.
‘After you went I stayed on as President of Africa, then eight
years later as World President, the UN upgraded to a more
democratically elected body with real powers. I suffered that for a
few years and went back to Africa.’
We walked along the corridor.
‘And Helen?’
‘UN Secretary General, Shelly being the British Prime Minister
for five years before she’d had enough, and Lucy is a low paid
scientist.’
We approached the entrance.
‘Liz?’
I gave him an embarrassed look. ‘Single mum of three, and not
bright at all.’
‘Ah well,’ Jimmy let out.
We stepped out of the tunnel entrance and into a chill morning,
the dawn fighting to take hold, a blue-grey herringbone sky
promising a clear day. The Marines closest snapped to attention, but
for Jimmy as much as myself, a civilian cameraman recording the
event. Across the field, thousands of soldiers filed out of the portal,
most carrying boxes, dishevelled local soldiers accepting tinned food
and chocolate off the Marines.
‘Looks like it might be a nice day,’ I commented, taking in the
sky.
Jimmy stopped and looked up. ‘Do you think you can do it?’ He
only looked at me after he had said it. Our eyes met.
‘I’m planning on a twelve year campaign, and I’ll stay here till its
finished. Hopefully, you’ll see me in a day or two at that end.’
‘I’m not going,’ he quietly stated. ‘This is where it started, and
I’ll stay and beat The Brotherhood.’
‘You beat them when you fixed my world. We can do the job.’
‘I know this place, I can save you time. Besides, we both know
that I was more soldier than doctor. Or banker.’
‘We have a ranch waiting for you in Montana. It has … horses.’
‘Horses?’
‘Say goodnight, Jimmy.’
‘Huh?’
Two soldiers caught him as he collapsed, a device put away by a
third soldier.
‘Stubborn, cantankerous, obsessive compulsive.’ I stood shaking
my head. ‘Take him back. Carefully!’
I turned and took in the sky, the breeze cold on my cheek.
‘Twelve years.’
I thanked Doctor Singh again, and approached a Marines Major.
He fell into step as I inspected the camp. ‘First, coal-oil, then we
have fuel for the vehicles, then we get the crops growing to feed the
army, then we go on the offensive – starting with South Africa and
working our way up. I have a city or two to build from scratch.
Thinking of calling one … New Kinshasa.’
A soldier ran up. ‘Sir, there’s … another you here.’
‘Another … me?’
‘Another President Holton, sir.’
The soldier stood to the side as a group walked across to me,
someone looking like myself flanked by US Marines. Our two
parties met, the soldiers and onlookers staring wide-eyed at myself
and my carbon copy.
I offered myself a hand and we shook. ‘Where did you come
from?’
‘Here.’
‘Here?’
‘Four years from now this timeline will split.’
‘Ah, you’re from a separate branch,’ I realised.
‘Who do you think sent the messages, dumb fuck?’
‘That was you?’ I puzzled. ‘VAT14:JDI? And the diamond ring
in the swimming pool in Somalia?’
He nodded. ‘You – us – thought it was from us later on, but no, it
was me later on, after we realised that the timeline split.’
‘What year is it your end?’ I asked.
‘2046.’
‘We only got the consensus to come back in 2047,’ I told him.
‘So why the messages, because right now I’m not thinking of
altering things.’
‘After fighting here for ten years you’ll decide to make a few
small changes. But, you know, don’t bother now.’
‘Yeah, sure.’ I put my hands in my pockets. ‘So, you and Helen?’
‘Divorced, finally.’
I made a face and shrugged, my opposite number mirroring the
move.
‘Anyway,’ he said, ‘We’ll sort diplomatic relations, and think
about –’
‘Distant worlds, yes, we’ve been discussing them.’
He handed me a disk. ‘That’s our location and frequencies, we
have yours – they were our old ones.’
‘Of course. So, if I’m not here when the line splits…’

*If you have enjoyed the series, donate a dollar via Paypal to help
keep me writing. Paypal to: gwresearch@aol.com. Thanks.