GREEN – The Synopsis
So what is it like being blind? What colours can you be?
What thoughts go through your mind if you cannot hear, taste, feel or see?
Are you just a vegetable locked within a brain without awareness of the world, no thoughts to tie to words, no dreams to play with hope?
Are you green?
If no-one can really touch you, no person can get near, are you totally alone?
What universe do you inhabit inside those empty eyes? Is it the same universe as you and me?
Elspin is born without a nervous system; a brain with no connection to the world. Locked within her dreams in an infinite universe of inner space. She should have withered into nothing but instead she grew. She explored a rich uncharted cosmology of thoughts while attached to a machine that she could never know existed. What were her dreams?
So what is reality?
Outside, in the ‘real’ world, the environmental crisis has worsened. The ‘Greens’ have splintered into warring factions, ‘Big Business’ remains complacent and the government arbitrates. Technology continues to progress and consumerism creates growth and economic stability as well as making people rich.
There are those environmentalists who believe that reasoning will win public opinion across and put pressure on the government to act, while others resort to the bomb. A radical group has the solution. They have liberated a virus that will remove humans from the equation and return the planet to nature so that it can heal.
They have to be stopped. They are hunted.
The ecological situation lurches into a crisis. Balances are upset and spiralling out of control. The government has to take action. Are they too late? Will people allow them to act?
And someone wants to contact Elspin, locked within her head. Can she be reached? What can she know? What would her reaction be?
Infinity is absolute. An infinite universe meets an infinite mind.
The book is a story set in the near future in a world not too different to our own. The technology is more advanced. The people are the same. The characters play their part in small affairs and large as passions flare, global issues are addressed and philosophies are explored.
The many threads intertwine on personal and universal fronts.
The questions have to be resolved. Is humanity doomed from virus, poisons or themselves? Is there a universe within? And what is the reality of a dream? Could there be a purpose?
Three hundred and thirty eight pages progress the tendrils of different lives touching, different views, ideologies and perspectives clashing. They paint the scenes, build the characters and progress the story. The last page brings the threads together.
The last sentence may even force you to think.
A flash of orange light exploded dazzlingly around the room.
The following shockwave resounded with an echoey thud that hit the two people in the apartment with a solid thump.
Unperturbed, infact looking bored, President Jane Muller sauntered further into the room through the open doorway and surveyed the burgeoning mushroom cloud now filling the whole of the far side of the lounge area where her husband was sitting, with a look of critical annoyance. The explosion formed a livid ball of incandescent heat swirling through inky smoke that rolled and boiled its way up towards the ceiling. An angry red glow played across the skin of her face. The acrid tang of the smoke filled her mouth and nose with choking intensity.
With no more than a frown, she turned her attention away from the scene and directed it towards the reclining figure of her husband who was still carelessly sprawled in his usual place in his favourite chair.
” I do wish they would give some warning that they are going to do that,” she remarked, adjusting the intensity controls of the monitor in passing. It irritated her, the way he always had the VD turned up so high.
Her eyes caught her reflection in the mirrored surface beside the door causing her to tighten her lips in a grimace of disapproval. The grey unipiece business suit and cropped hair presented the conservative, almost military bearing and hard-nosed image that she sought to foster but it could hardly be considered flattering. She turned slightly, pulling in her stomach tight and assessing the effect, tilting her chin quizzically. It wasn’t getting any better. Her frown intensified and her attention wandered back to the fire that was still raging at the end of the room.
Reaching the chair occupied by her husband Deryk, who was still surveying the unfolding scene of devastation, she leaned on the back and joined him as he assessed the situation.
“……Appears the LPL have claimed yet more victims early this morning,” the commentator droned as the camera panned away from the ravaged chemical works to the panic and chaos surrounding the plant. “Following a message received in the early hours of the morning a thermite device of great magnitude was exploded in the works. Frantic efforts to find the device and shut down the plant failed and the IntSol Company say that insufficient warning was given.”
Deryk glanced up at her with a smile of greeting.
“Twenty people have been reported dead and there are many more missing. IntSol sources say that the final death toll will almost certainly reach well into three figures.” The grim face of the commentator loomed out at them, superimposed on the billowing clouds of the explosion, seemingly hanging there adrift in the air like an enormous decapitated balloon.
“LPL still at it then,” Deryk observed dryly.
Jane Muller sighed but did not bother to reply. They both continued to stare morosely at the pictures of violence unfolding before them in their living room.
“The only saving grace to this tragedy is that the explosion was timed to go off in the slack period between shifts in the early hours of the morning. This is a time when the plant is only manned by a skeleton crew sufficient to run the computations and deal with emergencies. At any other time the death toll would certainly have reached thousands.”
“The explosive appears to have been planted close to a pipe-line containing the new and highly inflammable DL17 rocket propellant. The initial explosions set off a series of gigantic explosions that ripped their way into the heart of the complex.”
“Survivors report devastating shock-waves destroying many buildings in the locality followed by a wall of flame whose searing heat engulfed what remained of the streets and houses.”
“A spokesperson for……………..”
Deryk shook his head and pushed himself out of the chair, patted her hand and wandered out of the room.
Jane continued to frown at the image billowing infront of her, her thoughts still caught up in the report. The scene behind the commentator changed to a panoramic view of the plant taken prior to the explosion. It showed an orderly complex of gantries and pipe-lines intermeshed with buildings and storage tanks. The image was clear and sharp and had obviously been taken after the rains when the plant was not shrouded in its usual mantle of smog.
Her frown deepened and with and even bigger sigh she pulled herself away from the chair, stretched, suddenly overcome with fatigue and weariness. Her attention wandered to the Massalax. She was desperately in need of a period of calm and peace to drain some of that tension away. Things were not getting any easier. She was tired and hungry. The question was which to deal with first? A quick meal and a calming drink or an ultra-sound massage to calm the mind and ease the muscles? They were both equally enticing. She made the decision.
With a practised jerk she tugged at the release straps on her suit and felt the seams relax to safety grip. Absently dialling in the code on the tunic belt she released the security grips and shrugged off the loosened fabric of her uniform to fling it in the nearest disposal chute. Tugging on the connector tabs she disengaged her underwear and they followed the suit down the chute.
She stood there for a moment assessing her profile in the mirror as the soft light of the VD played across her naked body. It was a nice full figure, amply proportioned with little signs of the flabbiness of ageing. But then it ought to be with the amount of drugs and beauty treatment she had lavished upon it over the years. She looked coldly at herself, running critical eyes over her weaker points for signs that might point to the need for further treatments. Were her buttocks beginning to sag a little? Her breasts a shade too full maybe? And her cheeks were definitely showing signs of droop. But then that could just be the tiredness. Even so, perhaps it was time to book another appointment with Stefan. It wouldn’t do any harm would it?
Resignedly she stepped into the Massalax. Age was a tiresome inconvenience that she could do without. Her presence triggered the mechanism and she felt the invisible forces closing around her as the luxurious waves passed back and forth across her skin soothing and massaging the tired tissues. She let herself go, sensually closing her eyes and relaxing into the flow of the energising programme.
“………..Buildings were torn apart and thrown into twisted heaps of metal.” The commentary continued in the background, the shattered buildings littered the room unnoticed, even the irritating burning smells faded away to be replaced by the gentle aromatherapy of the Massalax sequence. ” IntSol say there is very little chance of survival for any of their employees working in those areas. Both the intensity of the blasts and the tremendous heat would have made it……..”
The weariness drained out of her as the accumulated waste products were leached out of her cells with the blood circulation stimulated by the pulsating waves of the Massalax. Its deeper radiations soaked into her very core leaving waves of contentment and pleasure in their wake. Her mind floated in those lazy cerebral oceans inside her head, where thoughts drifted by like swaying kelp, as the world outside slipped away to some far away unreality. Everything receded. Time melted.
“……….What compounded the damage was the spontaneous combustion of the nearby river Gurde.”
The scene switched to a view of a sluggish brown river snaking its way through a sterile plateau of mud.
The thought of a burning river seemed interesting enough to partially draw her back out of her revelry. Jane half opened her eyes to allow the images to seep in. It seemed intriguing in a detached, dreamy way. She knew she ought to be aware of what was going on; tomorrow she would be having to deal with the aftermath. But then tomorrow was a long way off and interesting though the image of a burning river might be it was not interesting enough and she was damned if she was going to allow it to detract from her enjoyment of the massage. She used her foot to nudge the control to level 4. After all ….. she deserved it. The pulsing of the massage became deeper and even more sensuous so that her body seemed to dissolve into the tingling world it was creating inside her. Even so, despite all her intentions, she still found that she kept a tiny fragment of her mind tracking along with that report.
“………..The river has long been a source of concern to Environmentalists who have repeatedly claimed that IntSol’s dumping programme has made the river a danger to public health. No life has been recorded in it for more than half a century and twice before the river has spontaneously ignited.”
The picture switched to views of the river with pools of burning chemical and charred mud. Part of her watched in horrified fascination.
“Despite claims by IntSol that the previous conflagrations were caused by the build-up of natural methane coupled with hydrocarbons from other sources, neither of which had anything to do with their dumping programme, subsequent investigations led to the company being fined. It now seems certain that the present conflagration was a result of gasses released from an interaction of chemicals within those murky waters. The culprit remains to be officially identified. Whatever comes out of this investigation the facts speak for themselves. Gasses from the river were ignited by the explosion at the chemical works spreading flames down the waterway. These flames engulfed everything in their path and have started up numerous secondary blazes down the length of the river.”
Despite the languid state of mind created by the Massalax her nose puckered in disgust as she caught a whiff of the pungent river smell that was now engulfing the room and seemed to over-ride completely the aroma limitation controls.
The report moved into a sequence of shots of helicraft dumping clouds of white powder chemical fire retardant onto a number of blazes along the river bank.
“If it had not been for the fact that few people live in the proximity of the Gurde due to the corrosive chemical smog that extends for distances on either side of its banks, the death toll and damage would………………….”
At this moment her tenuous attention was distracted by Deryk ambling back into the room. The door slid silently shut behind him and she became aware that he was holding two extravagantly filled glasses of amber fluid. The look of smug satisfaction mingled with anticipation left her in no doubt that it was a generous helping of his precious vintage brandy. She returned his smile as he placed the two glasses on the coffee table before turning and walking back through the door.
Her eyes followed him admiring the almost youthful fluidity his movements still retained. He might be approaching the end of what might be described as middle-age but it certainly did not show. His seeming youthfulness was emphasised by his slight willowy frame and the casual cut and brightness of his unipiece admirably set off by the furry ‘slippers’ he insisted on wearing and this added a dash of eccentricity.
She nudged the dial to off and allowed the last tremors to settle through her as she luxuriated for a moment more before stepping out of the machine. In some ways this was the time she enjoyed most. More than the deepest relaxation induced by the machine. This was the time she felt warm and snug just like that moment in bed before the covers are pushed aside and step out from its protective embrace.
“……….Fire-fighting crews are trying to subdue the many fires that are still springing up in the wake of this disaster. It may be many hours before the situation is fully under control.”
Deryk arrived back in the room clutching two dishes of brightly coloured vegetable and rice. The smell of a seafood paella scented the air deliciously.
“Thought this might just do the number for you,” he murmured allowing his easy smile to lift the corners of his mouth transforming him into a happy looking pixie as he stood there taking pleasure from the contented expression on his wife’s face.
“Umm,” she murmured. “That smells good. You know, I thought you’d forgotten how to dial dishes as good as that Deryk.”
She stepped out of the machine, noting his appraising glance, and dialled a loose-fitting robe out of the dispenser. Beaming she accepted the plate of food and sat with it in her lap.
He grinned back at her and slid down into his chair, spooning a mouthful of food in as he turned his attention back to the images still beaming into the room.
“……….This is the tenth such terrorist act carried out by the LPL this month and the eighth that has been directed specifically against IntSol.”
“The LPL admitted responsibility for the attack in a statement released to all Veda stations this morning. The statement contained the familiar demands for industry to clean up its environmentally damaging practices and warned of further action if nothing was done. It would appear that IntSol has been singled out for special attention due to its poor environmental history……..”
Easing herself back into the cushioning of her chair she turned her full attention to the plate on her lap and took a small bite of the gourmet food.
Nudging the smell factor on the VD down to zero, so that the programme did not interfere with the meal, she began to focus on the man with whom she shared her limited private life. In contrast to the other men she came in contact with there was nothing arrogant, ostentatious or affected about him. And she was glad. Here she could relax.
“I’m glad we had that gourmet model installed, despite the enormous cost,” she reflected.
“You can afford it,” he grinned. “Not even much of a luxury to someone in your position,” he added.
“Well luxury or not. I’m glad we had it installed.” The food was delicious and Deryk’s choice was inspired.
He lifted his glass and toasted her. He brought the glass to his nose and sniffed the amber fluid as he rolled it around the large glass. After watching the fluid settle and the rich drops trickle back down the sides of the glass he at last allowed himself a minute sip, settling deep into the chair to savour the extravagance. She smiled to herself as his obvious delight, visibly radiated through his body, melted him as surely as any Massalax machine.
She reached for her own glass taking pleasure in mimicing his action.
The minutess drifted past as they slowly savoured the complementary interacting flavours of the meal in silence while the broadcast drifted over them only partially registering on their senses.
She emerged from her reverie feeling light and deeply sated, gazing across with affection at the man she had been with for so many years. He was probably the only human being with whom she could ever truly relax. Someone with whom she was truly comfortable.
Within that richly empathic moment she was overcome with clarity. She saw him as he was. A supportive and generous man. Contented and easy-going. Quite happy to take the back seat through the course of her rapid rise to prominence. He did not relish public life and hated the glare and attention. Yet it had been his strength and stability that she had come to rely on; the foundations on which she could build the edifice of her political career. He had been there to pick up the pieces when things had gone wrong; to put them together again and get things in perspective, sometimes with support and comfort and sometimes with harsh advice. He’d been the platform from which she had rocketted towards the stars of her ambition. She silently thanked him again. But that wasn’t to say that she wouldn’t have made it without him. She would have. She knew that even if he did not.
For this brief moment she could relax and push it all aside. The day had been tough, fraught with decisions, and tomorrow looked as if it was shaping up to be even worse. She pushed it aside. The taste of the meal was in her mouth. The brandy was in her head and she felt satisfied and positive. She smiled across at the man who was the only person in the entire universe that she could always trust. Tonight she ceased to be the President of the Supreme Council and for the first time in a long while was happy to be Deryk’s wife.
“………..Magnus Rikson, the Chairperson of the Combined Business Confederation, was quick to condemn the act as an outrage committed by the lunatic fringe. He claimed the LPL were a crazed group of terrorist murderers who were out to hi-jack International Industry for their own ends. He castigated them for dealing in death and destruction and accused them of leaving a trail of maimed bodies and mayhem in their wake. In an angry address he ended by stating that they deserved to be hunted down like animals and shot like the diseased dogs they were.”
The round moon-like face of the fair-haired industrialist filled the room self-righteously glaring out at them with his piercing blue eyes.
“We will not bow down to these crass blackmail demands,” he growled menacingly. “Where are the police? Where is the protection for the working people these monsters are killing,” he demanded. “There are no foundations to these foolish allegations these terrorists are making. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with the way our industry is operating. It is not possible to go back. We have to go forward. People deserve a better standard of living.”
“He would say that wouldn’t he?” Deryk remarked mischievously. But Jane refused to rise to the bait and contented herself with feigned glower of disapproval accompanied with a quick pout. He wasn’t going to spoil her mood by provoking an argument concerning the attributes of one such as Magnus Rikson.
Deryk grinned back, toying with her. His tanned and deeply lined face crawling alive with fun. He leaned back into his chair sipping his drink studying her, his grey hair giving him the appearance of great wisdom that contrasted with the twinkling of his eyes.
“……….Rikson was joined in his condemnation by many political and religious leaders throughout the world. Earlier today President Muller described the explosion as ‘An outrage against humanity’ . She was………”
Deryk’s face broke into a preposterous grin. “And very well said too,” he stated. “That should pull in a few more votes in the next election.” He struggled to assemble his face into a serious look of mock agreement. “It’s good to hear my woman using such decisive language at such a time of crisis.”
Her eyes flashed in outraged exasperation. Deryk was the only person on the entire planet that she would tolerate treating her in such a cavalier fashion. Anyone else and she would have exploded in extreme wrath…. and he knew it. That’s why he did it. Teasing her. He was the joker who brought her back to earth with a well timed remark. Deflated her ego and stopped her from becoming too full of her own self-importance. He helped her to see the way others might see her words and actions. He stopped her from coming across as arrogant. Not only that but he lightened the darkness of each deadly crisis that threatened to plunge her into despair. Extremists like Rikson and the LPL with her and her government caught piggy in the middle. She needed him………..