He gazes out across the grey bridge to a greyer horizon. To the thick clouds, and the dust beyond them that filters out the sun. To the decaying trees, the lungs of London as they were once known. Everything streaked with black grit from the meteor-rain. Someone has hung a banner on the side of the bridge. He can’t see it now but he knows exactly what it says. “Believe it and you will see it” in big yellow letters with a smiling sun, its eyes covered by blacked out glasses. Sun-glasses. He remembers wearing them when he was a boy. The quote is familiar, taken from the Little Pink Book. Pink, the colour of forgiveness.
Fifty years ago it would have been a ridiculous notion, walking around with a pink book in your back pocket. And now here he is. Not that it’s forced, it’s encouraged. And he, like so many Londoners, is Discouraged.
His hand brushes against the fabric of the banner and he has an overwhelming urge to tear it down and hurl it into the cold grey waters of the Thames. Like so many of the Discouraged, he feels ill at ease with the idealism and optimism that surrounds him.He wants to see these words, the cheap paints, muddied and washed away.
And instantly he feels ashamed.
Some kid’s probably spent hours on this. In his day it would have been mindless graffiti, spray-painted directly onto the bridge, fuelled by anger. But these kids, they’ve never known that kind of anger. They’ve led such protected lives.
He lets go of the cloth and instinctively feels his way to the acupuncture point on the side of his hand. He taps to ease the shame and anger. He wants to feel calm, he wants to be like them. But its no use. He stares at his hands, cracked skin, sores that won’t heal.
The drizzle is relentless. Everything is damp. Nothing ever dries out completely. Water leaking from the sky and seeping up from the old subway stations below. Filthy and black. The damp stagnant smell, everywhere.
He remembers the sound of trains, the growl of the engines, the vibrations that could be felt even from the ground above.
They say we are manifesting a new future. That all the destruction and decay we see around us is the result of our own misguided thinking. That we, as a species, have spent too long thinking about what we don’t want and in doing so have created it.
In the canteens there is talk of the life-forms growing in the stagnant water under the streets. Single cell organisms brought down in the meteor-rain, rapidly evolving. That was what they were told in a public news-sheet five years ago. What they’ve become since, scientists can no longer share.
He walks along the bridge and turns the corner. Here and there weeds, rushes and lily-pads grow in the blackened ponds and puddles in the street. London is turning into a marsh. Eventually, they’ll have to abandon this city altogether.
He remembers walking along one morning and being struck by the beauty of a water-lily. Freshly opened yellow and white petals not yet stained by the black rain. So pure and at odds with everything else he could see. For ten minutes he stood there memorising the image until it was firmly imprinted on his retina. He felt a deep joy stirring within for the first time in months, maybe years.
He stares idly now into the surface of a pond, so murky he can hardly see his own reflection. Small amphibians drift lazily through the grimy water and insects skate along its surface.
He looks up. Something catches his eye and spurs him on.
He walks towards the building that was once the Tate Britain. Revolving doors long since rusted over and sealed shut. A banner hangs across the front entrance – ‘Thoughts create reality”. The building itself is cracked and neglected. Covered in moss and lichen. Great works still occupy its interiors, now sealed within like artefacts in ancient Egyptian tombs. Preserved for some future generation to rediscover. Perhaps.
He remembers going to the Tate nearly fifty years ago. Standing on the steps eating ice-cream with his friends, carefree. The sun shining the way it did back then. And staring out onto this river. The one thing that remains unchanged. Well, almost. Of course, the current is stronger than it ever was back then and steep embankments struggle to contain the rising tide.
Hundreds of others like him have gathered, urged on more at the spectacle of the fire than the occasion itself. Such vivid colours, flames dancing and crackling. So beautiful to watch. Three Seers form a triangle around the blaze. Its been months since he witnessed a Cleansing.
Fires are not permitted outside of the ceremonies.
Even with the petrol it takes a while to get the blaze going. But its only when he gets much closer that he sees what is being burned. And he stands fixated in the crowd watching the already drowned Ophelia go up in flames.Not just Ophelia, war paintings, works by Rothko and others.But his eyes hold onto Ophelia as the flames consume the flowers in her hand, her hair.
Negative energies have to be Cleansed wherever they occur. That’s the rule.
He stares deeply into the flames as he thinks about the past.
Fifty years ago, it was okay to keep your thoughts and emotions to yourself. It was encouraged. People didn’t want to know what you were thinking or feeling. The mind was a private space and if it was messed up it was for you to deal with. There were no healing circles or tapping groups.
It was the Great Reform of 2030 that changed everything. The Belief Reformation Trust were elected, a landslide victory. It was inevitable, really. Years of campaigning for a better society – of protests and government White Papers – hadn’t achieved anything. Years of anti-war rallies had only created more wars. Governments were just buying time, they didn’t have the tools to change anything really. Not at a cellular level, an energy level. Without that, no real change can take place.
By the 2020’s the campaigning had stepped up. Protests had always contained some form of violence, whether actual or intended, but it was getting worse.
He remembers vividly the Give Children Back Their Lives Protest of 2023, when thousands of exasperated parents took to the streets of London and stormed the Houses of Parliament. In the end the siege lasted three days and achieved nothing. When the hostages were finally released the government realised it could no longer cope with the demands of ordinary people.
Belief is the basis of all healing. Everyone knows that now. When the pharmaceutical industry could no longer conceal the evidence from the Placebo Trials and Energy Interventions, they did the only thing they could to retain their power. They formed the BRT, a global network taking over from the governments of the world.
It’s not a dictatorship, not Big Brother watching over you. Its more complicated than that. Its Righting Wrongs. Everything done by committee. Everyone has a chance to vote. Nobody has to make any decisions. The BRT take care of that.
So much progress made towards eradicating poverty through the clearing of ego-based negativity. People suddenly realising that they have more than enough of everything. So many times he’s seen the effect Clearing has on people, even people of his generation, they come out looking lighter, happier, like a weight’s been lifted. And each time he thinks it could have been me. Except it can’t.
He can’t help feeling cheated. Betrayed.
“All that we are is a result of all we have thought” reads the opening line of the BRT Manifesto on the inside cover of the LPB. A quote taken from the founder of Buddhism – a former religion, now incorporated into Spiritual Practice
Everyone remembers where they were on 24th April 2035, the day the World Wide Web was unplugged. It was like stopping the clocks.
They had tried to prevent it but the Inter State Clean Ups hadn’t worked. There were always renegade groups of Discouraged out there, hacking in with their negative energies. So in the end it had to go.
He had been born into a world where the internet seemed as vital to life as running water. When the final message was displayed, the world held its breath.
‘On-line..’ already the word seems strangely archaic, an elderly woman overhears the thought and involuntarily makes eye contact as her subconscious too works on the associations of that word. She quickly looks away and hurries on.
This is not the world he dreamt of. He grew up feeling protected, he spent so much time in his room speaking to his friends through a machine. He felt safe.His fingers still long for the comfort of a keyboard.