What I dreamed last night - Page 3

The birdsong didn't materialise; instead, it was suddenly silent. I didn't think I'd died, although perhaps I should have thought that. Instead, I wondered if stress could make you deaf, and if this whole business would be easier if I just kept my eyes shut and heard nothing at all, or whether the fear, when bullets started flying or people started grabbing me, would be even worse if I had no idea what was happening. Then Will said, perfectly clearly, "What?" And Daisy said, "Hey!" and Philip said, "I don't..." and Tom touched my elbow and said "Open your eyes." And I did.

There was nobody after us. No men, no securitybots, no horses and dogs. No distant bus they could have come from. Even the road looked different, older and more weathered. And the city, in the distance to the left of me, looked bigger, grimier, less tall and towering. The Chris Medlar building (the highest tower of all, where they train the securitybots to spot troublemakers) seemed to have fallen over sideways, damaging the building to the right of it. The sun was higher in the sky than it had been a moment ago, and Major Tom was laughing at the expression on my face.

"Time-travel," said Major Tom, "It's easy when you know how." He patted the wall of the dilapidated church behind us. "Just find a place that's sure to be around in a hundred years, and has a bit of experience in moving forward in time the slow way, engage in a little bit of well-thought-out persuasion, and here we are! Though it's only fifty years, as a matter of fact."

"Fifty years?" asked Will. "Into the future?" asked Daisy. Philip looked incredulous as Tom nodded, but I knew he was telling the truth. This place was so obviously another world. There was no point pretending I thought I was mad. If I was crazy, I was so utterly and completely crazy that there was no hope of recovery, and I might as well enjoy these intriguing visions. But I didn't think I was, and I didn't think Tom was. He spread his arms wide, indicating the entire landscape, "Right now," he said, "the children born to your generation are roaming the streets, doing just as they please. No prisons for them! No locking them up or banning their language or controlling their lives!... Not really much bringing them up or teaching them, either, of course, but what can you expect from a load of parents more or less raised by the prison service? You're not in much danger from the authorities now. But we'd best find shelter before dark."

He set off briskly towards the grimy town, and we followed him. The other three, nudging each other and giggling and stealing curious looks back at me, looked cheery enough, but I wasn’t happy. For a moment, when I realised we'd left the 22nd century behind, I'd hoped for that better world everyone keeps talking about. But I could see the way that what Tom had said pointed, and I wasn't sure that here and now was going to be so different, for me, from being inside one of the prisons full to the brim of "youth culture". Still, I sort-of maybe kinda trusted Tom. And I wanted to know how this time-travel lark really worked. Perhaps I could carry on travelling forward until I found a world I liked, or perhaps I could travel backwards to sometime safe and dull. Or perhaps Tom would let me know when he came from, and I could try living then. Anywhichway, there was nothing to do but to follow him to the city.

Once there, we looked out of place again. Not our ages: there weren't many people even as old as Tom out on the streets, although perhaps that was to do with the time of day (early afternoon). But our clothes were far too bright for that dirty town. Everyone else was in pastels: sugary pinks and sky blues. Our metallic shimmerings made us as noticeable as if we'd been singing or dancing our way down the streets. Jack, Philip and Will tossed their red hats away as soon as possible, and Daisy managed to swipe a pale yellow shawl from one of the grim little stalls we passed, but we were still pretty conspicuous, and we were getting some fairly hostile looks. One young guy with even wilder hair than most bumped heavily into Philip, ramming him against a wall. "What you padding with, wierd-boy?" he said, "I gotta hope yer gonna play nice and share. Is it thrills, wi-oy, or is it spills?" He was thumping Philip for emphasis, and Major Tom was a fair distance, still leading the way, and too intent on navigating to notice that something was wrong. I was trying to raise some courage to interfere, or to ask a passerby for help, when Philip started growling like a feral dog. His attacker looked unnerved, but didn't release his hold. So Philip said "Ain't got nothing you'll be wanting, Mister Mun. Seeing as, you'd be clear to share your ownself, if a generous mister you'll be. Else, scatter, MISTER." And Philip kneed him in the groin and punched him in the nose, and spat on him: "Preaching, bloated little mister!" he said, for good measure.

 Site by Sian Hogan. Last updated on 1st June by Sian.