by Rose Ghost
"Hello? Mister Fisher?"
"Ah, the Wordsmith. Sit down, sit down. We've been expecting you for some time."
"Oh yes. The girl with the thorn in her eye."
"I don't have a thorn in my eye..."
"No? We'll have to see about that won't we? Now, as you know, my name is Esmond Fisher. I'm the director of this little operation. I've been instructed to show you round our domes today, while you're here. At the initial interview you expressed an interest in seeing more of what goes on here, am I correct?"
"That's right. Now I've had my contract I'd like to see who I'm going to be working with."
"Were you going to show me round?"
"Oh, yes. Dearie me, of course I was! Now, before we go, I must insist that you put this helmet on."
"But I can't see!"
"I dare say you'll get used to that. It's for the sake of the residents. Now if you'll step this way, you can take the helmet off for now if you like. As long as you put it on when we reach the domes that's fine."
"But why do I have to wear it at all?"
"It will all become clear shortly. If you'll kindly follow me, we'll begin the tour..."
"But it's inhuman!"
"Of course it's inhuman. That's why you're here."
"You, my dear, your job is to humanise these bags of flesh."
"You can't release these ceatures out into the world. They'll be an outcry. There will be riots and everything."
"I dare say, but they are human. They just don't realise the same values that we do. Their parents were badly mutilated in the war. You have to understand that. And think of the things they do to each other."
"Exactly! Just think what they'll do out there!"
"That's where you come in. You have to teach them to love, to hope, to care about each other. Make them the stars of their own shows. Give them something to aspire to. Help them understand that they can be humans."
"And if I refuse?"
"Then, I'm afraid we will have to let you go. Into the wild. They will love you out there - you're everything they know they should be. They'll rip you to peices, after they keep you in a cage for a year and do all the other things to you. That's how much they'll love you. To bits."
"That's what happened to Fianle?"
"Come off it, Mister Fisher. She isn't working here, and she didn't come back to the mainland. She's dead, isn't she? You didn't personally kill her, although you might as well have done."
"Fianle was a mistake. You're going to be different. That is, if you agree to the contract?"
"But I can't leave? Ever?"
"Unfortunately you can't go back home."
"Then I've got nothing to lose, have I? Ok, Mister Fisher-"
"Call me Esmond, please. Dispense with the fortmalities."
"Right. Where do I sign this contract of yours then?"
"Hello...I'm looking for the 'Window Room'?"
"Are you on the staff?"
"Yes, just started. Sorry, are you a beetle?"
"That's correct. I'm not John Lennon, but yes, I am a beetle."
"And you just made a joke?"
"I did. Here's your badge, poppet. Do you think you could bring it back after your session? Say hello to Sally for me, would you?"
"Which one's Sally?"
"Oh, you can't miss him, love. Blue and hairy. Likes to eat things. He might eat you if you're small enough to fit in his mouth. Off you go then. Fourth on the left. Next to the 'Mastering English, Spanish and Gonnerish when you have more or less then one tongue workshop' Don't forget to bring the badge back."
"No, of course not...sorry, what's you name?"
"Ok, Daisy. Thank you. See you..."
"Right. So. Today is your first group session, and I'm glad to see that so many of you have turned out...now, if you'd like to turn to-"
"I can't see."
"Oh. I...ok. What's your name?"
"Right. Is that...?
"Four a's, three h's and a c."
"Oh, ok. Would someone like to read aloud for Cansahahh?"
"Four a's, miss."
"Yes. Cansahaahh. Any volunteers?"
"Anyone? If not, I am going to pick someone."
"Miss, you might need to read aloud for a lot of us. Not all of us can read."
"What's your name?"
"I don't have one, miss."
"Can I give you a name? I'm a bit stuffy about them. It's kind of a...never mind. Can you read?"
"That's good. Could everyone who can read please raise their...indicate in some way that yes, they can read?"
"Excellent. That's...8 of you. Good. Now, you can all take it turns to read. Um...I see you still have your arm up...?"
"I'm just kind of wondering what the point of this is? No one has ever tried to read to us before."
"It's a new thing."
"Do we have to imagine? Because some of us might have a problem with that as well."
"Well done, Uyauh. I can kind of see your anger and frustration in this. Why did you use those colours?"
"I'm sorry, miss. There's nothing there. It's just paint on a bit paper."
"Doesn't it mean anything to you? What do you see when you look at it?"
"Do you think I could have a word, Mister Fisher?"
"I do hope there isn't a problem?"
"No. Not with me, as such....not really."
"But I take it there seems to be a problem?"
"Only a small one. Some of the subjects don't seem to be very willing. In fact, they seem to lack basic human traits like the ability to think for themselves, to imagine, to create."
"I think you'll find that they are not altogether human."
"I realise that. But I wasn't aware that the brain would have a different scructure."
"It's psycological. How many of them do you think, on their world, would ever have any need to write a novel or paint a picture? It isn't part of the culture. Survival, simple survival , no matter what the cost, is their culture."
"Yes, but it's like they have shut off that part of their brains, completely."
"Yes. And I believe that it is your job, which you are paid to perform, to open them up again, hmm? In any case, this wouldn't be my department. You would need to have a word with neurology."
"Good god, no. Pills and things."
"I don't think..."
"Off you go, dear. I'm sure you'll have some success soon. Sooner than you think, I'm sure, if you put your mind to it. You will remember what I said about letting you go?"
"Yes, Mister Fisher...Esmond. Thank you."
"I think you ought to shut up now."
"Why? I thought you wanted to hear our opinions on everything, your paintings and poems and bits of rock. Why are you telling me not to do this?"
"I'm not telling you not to say anything. I just don't believe that you are trying to learn."
"What's to learn?"
"LIsten to me, what do you desire?"
"Yes. Come on, you've read about desire."
"Desire...is desire what you want right now?"
"Then I desire to be to go back to my room, away from you, and your books."
"I want to help you. If you won't cooperate with me, then there are things that can be done to you to make you cooperate. Scalpels and knives and electrodes - you won't like it."
"It isn't happening right now is it?"
"Then it might never happen. How can I be afraid of something that may or may not happen?"
"Miss, what is this 'music'? Why do we have to listen to it? Is it an instruction manual of some kind?"
"Yes, it's an instruction manual. Can you feel anything while you are listening to the music?"
"What are you thinking?"
"That you're a bit of a prat, miss."
"What do you think about the music? Anyone else?"
"I think I would like to take one of those knives you were talking about before, slice your head off, barbacue it and put it in a sandwich, and then dance in your blood."
"And also, I would very much like to take your noises and wretched words and build a great big bonfire in the exercise yard."
"And how do you feel, exactly?"
"So pissed off that I think I'm going to explode or be sick. Miss, what are you doing? Are you trying to kill me? I'm not sure I meant all those things..."
"I'm hugging you."
"It doesn't matter. One thing at a time."
Rose is 20 years old and has been writing on and off since she was 14. She also writes songs and poetry. Her influences include Elizabeth Hand, Christopher Fowler, David Firth and Richard Christian Matheson. Rose says she's just someone else who writes, but who wants to write something that's a little bit different. Rose has had poetry published by Dogma Publications and was shortlisted in a poetry competition a few years ago.