3-X (Interlude)

Interlude 3

“Where to, sir?”

My taxi driver today is unusually polite. I assume if one sees a man in a suit in London, he’s important enough to be called a ‘sir’. I suppose it beats being called a mate, by all means. I fasten my seat belt on and glance upwards at him, through the glass separating the front and the back of the vehicle. Stocky, a little overweight, badly cut black hair. I think he’s wearing a blue shirt, though I can’t be certain what else he’s wearing. Nor do I particularly feel like enquiring further into the matter.

“The Corinthia, please.” I say, leaning back and getting comfortable. I unfasten one button on my jacket, it’s starting to feel a little tight. Have I been putting on weight?

I hope not.

“Right away.”

He says, and he’s already in first gear and driving away. Rather quickly I might add, but he wouldn’t be driving if he didn’t know the roads well enough. One can assume as much, anyway. I can’t say I’ve been to America but I’d wager that London has the finest taxi drivers on the planet. That’s not much of a hasty assumption either. If you tell the driver you need to be on the other side of the city in twenty minutes, you can be certain that they’ll take you there in nineteen, and give you a view of the quickest route and back alleys in the process.

London in the evening is beautiful, and a taxi ride gives you the best view through the window. Breathtaking, lofty heights of buildings, the bustle of people who’re winding down from shopping or visiting. Most people here are either staying the night, or on business. I’m no exception. I’ve been scheduled in for an interview on Good Morning. I can’t say it’d good television viewing as far as I’m concerned, but my popularity in the polls needs a spike as of late. Any publicity is good publicity, but I’d rather it be better than worse.

I have to be up at an absurd time in the morning, hence the early trip to the hotel I’m staying at. It’s a fifteen minute walk from where I’m staying to the London Studios, and god forbid you take a taxi that early in the morning, in that area. Better than the tube at any rate, and I’d rather not smell like someone else’ss body odour by the end of my journey.

The driver takes a look at me through the mirror, squinting his eyes.

“Ain’t you that politician fellow, Anthony Barnes?” He asks. Just fantastic, this driver is the type who wants to be chatty. So goes my quiet evening drive into the rubbish bin.

“Yes, I am.” I say, with a polite smile. “Even us politicians have to take a taxi now and again.”

He laughs, I’m glad. A bit of self deprecation helps, it shows you’re willing to laugh at yourself. Too many people see politicians as above everyone else. It’s not a good image to have.

“You here on business or pleasure?”

“Business. I’m going to be on Good Morning tomorrow for an interview.”

“The misses always watches that. Ain’t my cup of tea, tell you the truth.”

“Nor mine, but what can you do?” I smile again, and he nods back to me.

“Fair play, fair play Two things I don’t tend to discuss, religion and politics. Always causes trouble.”

“I can appreciate that.” I say, in hopes he won’t delve further into the subect.

“You Union of Britain guys though, you talk a lot of sense.” He’s delving further into the subject. Wonderful. Exactly what I didn’t need. “Cut out the crap, y’know? None of that false promises nonsense. I mean, you can’t trust any of the others, right?”

“By all means.” I say. “Don’t feel obliged to pretend to like me if you’re not a supporter. It’s frankly not my position to try to get voters all of the time, and your political views are your own.”

“Yeah mate, fair play.” ‘Fair play’. He does say that a lot. “That’s what I mean. You’re not gonna tell every Tom, Dick and Harry that you’re gonna do one thing and never hear about it again.”

“I’d like to think I have integrity, and my party does as well. We’ve never made a promise we don’t intend to keep.”

People like it when you can hold onto their word. I don’t personally blame him for his views. A good majority of politicians just can’t be trusted in the general public’s eye. Broken promises, unrealistic expectations, bending over backwards for other countries and ignoring our own. Not to mention, the expenses scandal in previous years did everything to hurt our image. Can the same thing be said of other parties? Conservatives, who are constantly treading down on the working class to line their pockets? Labour are hardly any better. The other parties have no weight. At least mine will have the people fed up of all these things.

You can’t always pick who votes for you, but that comes with the territory.

I’ve always believed if you make a promise, you deliver it. Being the leader of a political party shouldn’t change that.

“Fair play. That’s what you wanna hear. I’ll tape it. I’ve got that Sky Plus, so I can watch it when I’m up tomorrow.”

“Every viewer helps.” I say with another smile. “It’s appreciated. Thank you.”

“No problem.”

The rest of the journey is, thankfully, much less full of conversation. He tries to talk about politics a few more times and I quickly try to dismiss it, steering the conversation to him and his job, and he sticks with it to talk about himself some more. The lesser of two evils, I guess.

In all honesty, it’s my job and career. Everyday is saturated with it, from when my next public appearance will be, to when I need to look into new policies and the strategies of other candidates. The elections have come and gone three years ago and sadly, we didn’t have much of a chance compared to the Conservatives this year. Too much of an outlier compared to the others, but that was 2010. The 2015 elections will be different, I can feel it.

The other thing I can feel is I could certainly go without hearing about a person’s views on how to run the country. I’m already concerned if I can win or not and we’re coming up to an important season. Still, you have to at least show you’re listening. It gets votes, and that’s important. When you have that power, things can actually change for the better. I suppose I could be considered a little anti-EU, and the voters you get for such a thing tend to want England to be ‘Britain again’.

But as I’ve said, you can’t pick who votes for you. I’ll take what I can get.

We come up to the hotel. I’m thankful I’ve already had my clothes and belongings for the night sent over yesterday, so it means I don’t need to go through the hassle of dragging a suitcase around. The driver stops and I jolt forward a little, and I’m sure he doesn’t notice the grunt that slipped out when my seatbelt kept me in place.

“That’ll be eleven fifty, sir.”

After I unbuckle myself, I reach into my pocket and take out my wallet. I take out a fresh twenty pound note and slip it through the gap in the window for money and leave it there for him.

“Thank you, and keep the change.”

I leave the taxi before I can hear a response. It’s not that I’d rather not, but it’s all about impression. Being the politician that listens, the one the every-man can vote for in safety, the one who values his word. A spare tenner is nothing to be concerned about. I’m frugal everywhere else. My accountant won’t kill me, I’m certain. As much as sometimes I think that she wants to.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how to present yourself lately and how important it is in your career. My wife does think I’m a little obsessed with it from time to time, but it permeates everything that you do. Even a taxi ride should show your character to people, and one vote may not change much, but that one vote still matters.

I walk through the front foyer and book myself in. The receptionist is polite, a young girl with parted blonde hair and a posh accent. Noticeably thick glasses, but it works with her outfit. Her name badge tells me she’s called Stephanie., and she’s quick at what she does. A natural typist. Most likely spends a lot of time texting friends, or on facebook. She tells me I’m in room three hundred and nine and tells me to have a pleasant stay.

I nod and thank her, and I decide to take the lift instead of the stairs. I hardly pride myself on a healthy lifestyle but I’m glad to just have a bit of space to think.

I’m the only person in the lift tonight, and it’s woefully slow. I enjoy time to think, and there’s a lot to think about. I have to admit, I miss my wife. Janet always worries, and I’m always certain to call her in the morning to let her know how I’m doing. She was beautiful when I met her and she’s still beautiful now, and she has such a depth to her soul. I remember the first time we went on a date. Very old fashioned, a trip to the cinema for a picture show and a walk around the block afterwards. We watched a License to Kill, and I knew she wasn’t a fan of James Bond. Far too much of a male thing, too ‘power fantasy’ for her tastes. I also remember it costs much more these days to see a film than it did back then.

It says a lot about somebody when they’re willing to sit for an hour or two, watching something they don’t enjoy just to spend time with you.

License to Kill is my favourite bond film, by far. I think it’s because of that first date. I remember each line of dialogue, each time my would-be wife looked bored through the film and each time I had to keep her entertained. The perks of having a photographic memory, to be certain. Each memory as vivid as the last.

I was worried she’d just walk out at one point, truth be told.

The lift opens, and I walk down to my room. I push in the card to open the door, and I wonder when people stopped using keys for such a thing. I walk into my room and the door closes behind me. It’s very dark. Are the lights not working?

I thought they normally came on by themselves, so I turn and feel against the wall to find the light switch. The wallpaper feels unusual, but I find the light switch. I hesitate to push the switch down though.

It feels like it’s soft.

The light switch is pliant to the touch. It’s not like flesh. It feels like I imagine pushing your finger into hot glass without it scalding or burning you. Something washes over me. Apprehension, uncertainty, like something is fundamentally incorrect. Part of me doesn’t want to push this switch, like a primal fear of the unknown has just awoken in me. I can’t explain it, it feels like I’ve been walking for hours and realised I’ve become lost.

No, this is absurd. I have no idea why I’m feeling like this. It’s been a long day for sure, but there’s no need to feel these things. I’ve never been afraid of the dark. What is going on with me?

I push the light switch and look at it, and then it dawns on me.

The reason I feel lost is because I am lost.

I can only register the first thing that comes to mind, because nothing else seems to focus in my mind, and that’s the switch itself. It’s like my finger is pushing the entire thing inwards, like it’s stretching the wall like rubber, but it feels wrong. Then the wall trembles lowly, and begins to crack away, peeling and shuddering like a live organism being awoken from slumber. The colours begin to bleed and flay away, forming into a churning mist in the air. There’s a noise in the air that I can’t describe, like music in reverse. No, it sounds like my breathing in reverse, mixed with… the only thing that can describe it is like meat. Liquid meat, crackling and boiling. It doesn’t make any sense.

The wall heaves, and I step back out of fear. The dent in the wall continues to grow and begins to fester, pulling itself back without applying any force behind it, like something is pulling it back. Colour drains from the wall, leaking like fluid, before it flushes back inside the wall, crawling and latching on like it were alive, burrowing into the wall itself. I don’t even know how to describe this. Words are beginning to fail to account for what’s occurring, for what I see.

I can see something beyond, through the cracks that are forming, as they erode away like an acid eats away at the very heart of what I knew. I turn around and realise, there’s only one wall left. The wall I was facing is all that’s here. The ceiling, the floor, the room I was in. Gone.

I turn around and lift my head up, and I stare into that… that seething mass that defies all reason. A landscape that my brain can’t even begin to describe or comprehend. I stare right into the heart of the Farside itself.

I want to cry, I want to and weep, but I can’t. I can’t even scream.

All I can do is experience it.

Where am I?

What’s going on?

I’m awake. I’m… alive. I’ve opened my eyes but the room is blurry. I’m feeling so many things, so many fears. My head’s… I’m in the hotel. I think. I’m on the floor, my face is down. Something near me smells. I can’t…

I need a second. Calm, stay calm.

I put my hands to the floor and push myself up. I feel a little weaker, I think. Is this fatigue, a lack of energy, or something else? I can’t entirely tell. I look around, flicking from point to point, to another point of the room again. I grab my chest, I feel the silken threads of my shirts as fingers strum down the buttons. I feel the caress of my tie against the back of my hand as I do so. I put my hands near my face and feel my skin, and feel my fingertips on my-

Wet? They’re… I take a look. Not bleeding. They’re discoloured, I-

I look at the floor. Vomit, in a spray.

I’m going to safely assume it’s mine.

I can taste it in my mouth now. My senses are starting to come back, other than my sight and my taste. I smell something ungodly foul. I take a step forward, and I realise where it’s coming from.

I’ve soiled myself.

I know I’m old, but double incontinence is new. How did I-

The Farside.

Oh, god. Oh god above. It’s coming back to me now.

I need to clean myself. I can’t be seen like this.

I grab my jacket and fling it off and hobble over to the bathroom. I start to take off my clothings, tearing at them like some frenzied animal. I yank my tie off, and throw my shoes out of the room, and I think I even ripped a button off my shirt until I’m naked, my clothes in a pile on the floor outside of the bathroom.

I turn the shower on, and I don’t care if it’s hot or cold. I need to be clean.

I start to clean myself, and the less I feel like I’m due to go into a nursing home, the better I can feel about myself. I need to stay focused. I’m not panicking, but I’m…

I’m panicking a little.

I grab the shower head and I clean where I need to be cleaned. Prudish of me to not even say so in my own thoughts, but I’m woefully English like that. It’s whilst I’m doing this that I realise that I’ve not been in here for long and yet, there’s a fine mist already in the air.

I turn towards the mirror, past the open shower curtain. It’s already clamoured in condensation. I’ve been in here for a minute. Am I hallucinating? What’s going on?

When I look down at the temperature, I realise why. It’s on full. It should be scalding hot, if we’re going to be logical, and I can’t feel a thing on my skin. I can feel the water against my skin, and I raise up the shower head and run it along the length of my arm. I can definitely feel it, but the heat is another thing.

As I hook up the shower head so it’s stationary on the wall once more, there are more questions being raised right now. I’m in no mind to think about it. As much as I’ve been putting it off, I need to address what just happened.

I went through the Farside.

Everyone normally talks about how the experience is so harrowing and ultimately, the human mind can’t comprehend what it sees. Too alien, too out there, too illogical and non-Euclidean. Yet here I am, thinking back to how I got into this mess. I walked into my hotel room, my lights were off and when I turned them on, I was already there.

And the memories of that place, those memories. So deep and all consuming. They swarm around my mind, they obfuscate all rational thought. I think them, I can feel them crawling in my head.

I have to distract myself. I start cleaning again. I make sure I’m cleaned at least twice over before I’m done. I turn off the shower, and I take a step outside of the bathroom. I can feel the floor beneath me, cold to the touch. It doesn’t feel so much as cold to me right now. It’s like… it feels like it just lacks heat. My foot itself doesn’t seem to be cold, but I know this is.

Those thoughts. They’re overwhelming. I can feel them tremble over my mind, down the nerves in the back of my neck.

I turn around and up, and I squint at the light above me. Damned it, I feel like I’m more sensitive to the light than I used to be. All the worst parts of a hangover from the Farside. What happened to me?

The light flickers, and I flinch. I couldn’t help it. I raise my hand to shield my eye, and the light flickers again. Don’t happen again, please, god-

The skin on my hand is different. It’s… darker. Black.

The light flickers again. The skin on my hand flickers with it. It’s not going more dark, more brown. It’s actually getting blacker.

My hand swipes along the condensation of the mirror before I realise that’s what I intended to do, and I stare at my reflection in the mirror in the hand print. What’s left of my reflection, at least. Where I can see the vague outline of my face, my greying hair, my skin is flickering black All the colour on my body is flickering and slowly turning into a void. The light in the room starts to fade, as does my own colour. I walk backwards, and I forget just how wet it is.

It seems my balance isn’t what it used to be, and I land on the floor. My head cracks into the plaster of the wall, and I slump on the floor, bent over myself.

I’m acting a little too casual about something that could have killed me. I’m more concerned that I didn’t feel a thing.

I stand up. I feel more… energetic? I don’t know why, but I haven’t felt this lively in years. The back of my head feels fine, according to a quick feel with one of my hands. No blood, no marks, not even the wall was badly dented. I look at my hand, and the skin starts to get colour once more. I feel like something is settling, which is odd. I don’t feel the pain I should be feeling.

I grab one of the towels on the rack in the bathroom and begin to dry myself off whilst I think about what’s just happened. I’m trying to comprehend what’s occurring, and I’m really not doing very well. I’m drying myself off and I know I’m thinking about it again, the Farside. Utterly pervasive. I can’t shove it to the back of my mind.

I’ve heard reports of people who’ve been there. They went to the Farside and they came back, and they weren’t who they were before. Something changed within them, something deep. And I can feel something inside of me, something so deep within my core. Is that what’s tainted within me? Did the Farside impregnate me in some way with a corruption?. I don’t know if I should be feeling this way. It doesn’t feel hostile, but it feels wrong, alien and different. Flickering and sparking inside of me, in a place I can’t pinpoint physically.

I look at the bundle of clothes on the floor, next to the stain of vomit. I can’t wear these again. I’ll have to have them disposed. I’m grateful that I packed a spare suit, but I just realised the time. It’s late, I was going to settle down and go to sleep.

I wrap my towel around my waist and I go over to the phone by my bedside, the one that the hotel has. I ring up customer service and let them know about what just happened. I don’t tell them about the Farside, but I do inform them that I’ve had an accident and will require my clothes disposed of, and my carpet cleaned.

I tell them as well I’ll pay for it, and they have my sincerest apologies.

I make it brief, courteous and put the phone down when I’m done, and sit down on the bed. I run my hands through my hair and close my eyes. I feel so awake, like I’ve just slept for twelve hours straight. I walk over to my cupboard and take out my night clothes and stare at them for a second. I don’t feel like I can get off to sleep tonight, even after that.

I don’t think I’d want to sleep. Do I really want to potentially expose myself to such bad memories in my dreams?

I put on my night clothes so I’m in something more comfortable and I sit on my bed. I run my hands through my hair again and slick it back. It feels a little more normal, how I normally style it, but it just tried to slink forward every time I push it back.

I don’t know what to think right now. I don’t know what to do right now.

I’m trying not to admit but, but I have to be pragmatic. I went to the Farside and came back. By all definitions, I’m Fartouched. To what the extent of me being Fartouched is, I can’t say. There is the social stigma for such a thing, the complications.

Fartouched can’t work in politics. That’s why the Head Director of the NFU stood down. Is that my fate as well? To abandon all my work thus far?

No.

Nobody can know.

Nobody will ever know about this. Lying about it won’t be difficult, but…

I shouldn’t have to lie. But if I told anybody about this, the backlash…

I’m going to have to lie. Even to her, I’m going to have to deceive everyone I know, everyone I ever will know. They’ll never know I was Fartouched.

There’s a knock at the door.

“Come in.” I say. I sit on the bed, leaning back slightly. Relaxed, calm, no concerns. I’m in control.

A lady comes inside. Old, nearly as old as I am, with tied back hair and a lot of wrinkles on her forehead. The badge says Carole. She takes a look inside, wheeling in a trolley with a red cloth bag fastened to it, and shakes her head slightly. Hung onto the metal frame is a small box with some cleaning supplies. A spray bottle, a hand held brush, other cleaning agents.

“I do apologise, deeply. I’m not sure what exactly happened to me. I came into my room and the next minute, I was on the floor, and…” I look between the vomit on the floor and my soiled clothes. “…and I woke up to this.” Half truths are much easier to believe. Not a technical lie, in a sense.

“Are you okay?” She asks, looking concerned. She’s wearing gloves, and she begins to grab my clothes and puts them into her basket. “You should probably go to the hospital.”

“No, no. I’m fine. I feel quite good, despite this. The concern is appreciated though” I nod, looking off to the side. “I assume that this hotel has some discretion with regards to… ‘accidents’.”

“Oh, nobody will know. There’s no need to worry. This’ll be entirely confidential.”

I smile, a little weakly. It wasn’t an act. If only she knew what I was truly hiding. “Thank you. It’s appreciated. Please just dispose of my clothes.”

She nods, and after she’s done putting my clothes away to never be seen again, she starts to work on the carpet. I offer to help her and she refuses. I wasn’t particularly going to if she said yes, but the offer was made at least. She’s a hard worker, really putting in the effort to scrubbing it clean. She tells me that if it’s recent, it’s better to hand clean it than to use anything else. I defer to her wisdom and agree on it.

She gets her stuff together and wishes me a good nights sleep. I nod and smile and wish her a good night as well.

I stand up from the bed and go over, turning my light off and getting onto my bed. As I stare at the ceiling, I can picture it again. The wall eroding, ripping away from this world and thrusting me into the next. I can feel myself, so full of vigour. Even if I wanted to sleep, I was too awake and full of energy to do so.

As much as she’s wished me a good night before she left, I don’t think it’s going to come to me tonight.

I stare at the ceiling, knowing that sleep won’t claim me. I sigh deeply and blink slowly.

Not tonight.

I’ve been staring at static for the past five minutes.

I can’t say today has gone particularly well. It’s about one in the morning and I’m sat in my arm chair, staring at my television. The channel went off before and now, all I’m seeing is grainy static. There’s a glass of whiskey in one hand and the remote in the other, and I haven’t even focused on anything other than the feel of the glass against my fingertips.

I get myself upright. I almost slid off my chair, and I glance down. My white shirt, with the top three buttons undone, has a stain of alcohol on it from when I took a drink before. I know I’m not getting to sleep tonight. I know exactly when I stopped sleeping. About one year ago, when it happened.

It’d be awfully melodramatic of me to suggest that the event has made me so afraid of what I may dream that I forced insomnia on myself but the truth is far more simple. I just can’t sleep. I’ve got too much energy, too awake. Too much time to recall thoughts, have intrusions of those memories flooding my brain. I feel changed, different. I don’t sleep, I’m haunted by what happened, and having to lie to everyone I’ve ever known has taken a toll on me.

I put the whiskey on the table beside me, hearing and feeling the sound, the clink it makes. I don’t particularly care what’s left inside it. I sit upright and do a few buttons up on my shirt, but it hardly does much to alter the perception of how messy I look. I haven’t shaved in a few days, and I can feel the grey stubble as I brush my hand on my chin. By the good graces of the Farside, I can at least trim my hair. It disallows much else when it comes to my body, but a good haircut and a shave is permitted.

I lean forward and put my head in my hands. I can hear the click of the door from the other side of the room, though I’m not sure any more if I feel or hear these things. Janet. She stops for a second before she walks over to me, nearly silently, and stops behind my chair. I can feel her put a hand on the backrest of my leather armchair, so I lift my head up and turn a little behind her.

That face always warms my heart, and I smile. She was as beautiful then as she is now, as much as she may never believe me, no matter how many times I’d tell her. That blonde hair, those bright blue eyes, and her smile. Enough to bring the greatest man to his knees.

I haven’t seen her smile in a long time.

She shakes her head and sighs, looking at the whiskey, then the television.

“Janet.” I say, though I don’t have much intention to speak afterwards. What do you say?

“Anthony.” She said, defeated. “I thought you might be here again.”

“Again.” I look to the side. There’s about a sip left of whiskey. Tempting.

“I’ve stood here enough times. We’ve had this conversation, and I don’t know what to say anymore.”

“I don’t either. I gave up a long time ago, trying to figure out the words.”

“You’ve given up more than just that.” She walks in front of me. Bright blue cardigan, white shirt underneath, beige trousers. Normally I can recall when I bought her clothes, but these seem new.

“I can’t disagree.” I look up to her. She lowers down slowly, onto her knees. I lean forward to her with my head low.

“You still won’t tell me what happened to you.”

I look at her in silence. I won’t even admit the possibility that there’s anything wrong.

She exhales deeply and reaches forward. She cups my face with her hands and raises my head, bringing me so I’m forced into eye contact. Her touch is gentle, almost reassuring.

“I’ve always loved you and I always will, Anthony. Any problem you have, is a problem of mine as well. But if you block me out from your problems, then you’re choosing to make that problem your own. This isn’t what we married for, is it?”

I shake my head slowly.

“If you can’t or won’t tell me, you know what I’m going to have to do. I’ll have to go through with it.”

I nod slowly. Acceptance? Defeat? What am I feeling here?

It doesn’t matter. What can I say to her? Your husband is a Fartouched, and once the world finds out, he’s going to lose his job. He couldn’t provide for you and give you everything you deserve. He’ll be just another lying politician for the media to slander, and by extension she’ll never have a good reputation. His life, and hers, are ruined.

Either way, I lose her. I’d rather lose her with a divorce that can give her money to stay on her own feet. Give her something she can live on, and let me deal with the press.

I hate that I feel I need to delude myself into believing this is noble of me. I know I’m doing this for myself. I’m trying to keep my job, my life, my reputation and my current running for Prime Minister. I know my marriage is crumbling, and I’m willing to sacrifice that to…

…I’m willing to give her up to cover up my lies.

“More than anything, I love you.” I finally say. “And for all the right reasons, I can’t blame you if you went through with it.”

She pauses and looks at me. Gauging me, trying to assert what she can. Her touch leaves me and she stands, and I can tell that she’s accepted it. I look up at her and sit more upright.

“I’m sorry, Anthony.”

“I’m more.”

“If you were sorry, then why can’t you just… tell me? Just say what’s going on with you and I’ll pretend we’ve never even spoken about it. Just open up to me, and we’ll forget the divorce.”

I take a second and as I open my mouth, she speaks.

“Please.”

It makes me hesitate.

“…I’ll try to make it as painless as possible.”

I hate that look in her eyes. Heartbreak. The silence that follows is deeply uncomfortable.

“I’ll be staying at my sisters until I can find lodgings elsewhere. I’ll be in touch after I’ve spoken with my solicitor.”

She takes one last look at me, taking it all in before she inhales, exhales.

“Goodbye, Anthony.”

“…goodbye, Janet.”

She waits a second before she walks out of my view. She doesn’t close the first door, but I hear her close the front door gently on her way out. I have to admire how she’s never been angry, not once.

I don’t deserve her. And by how things have played out, I don’t get the chance to deserve her again.

I reach over and take that one last sip of whiskey, feeling it burn on my lips before the warmth gently slides down my throat. I leave the glass on the table and head for the bathroom. I think that whiskey went right through me, as little as I drank. I only had two glasses tonight.

Once I’m done relieving myself, I wash my hands and dry them on a towel. I look at my reflection in the mirror. I just stare at myself, trying to point out all of my flaws. My hair is too long, too grey, too prominent of a widow’s peak. Those bags under my eyes have been there far too long. My lips are thinner than they should be. Despite all the physical flaws I can point out, I’ve never been one to hate how I look. I’ve always accepted it, despite my younger teenage years where some insecurities may have formed.

As I stare deeper into my own reflection, I can’t help but to feel something is off.

It’s nothing that I can put my finger on. It’s like a feeling in my stomach, a gut reaction. Not like the feeling I’m being watched, but something all together unusual. Familiar and uncertain.

I’ll put it down to the alcohol. I’ve been drinking more and more lately. It may be my body recognising the immanent liver failure that’s going to happen to me. Still, I can’t help but to wonder.

I turn and grab the handle on the bathroom door and I stop again.

Something definitely isn’t right.

That part of me deep inside when I went into the Farside, I can feel it again. A roiling energy that seems to feel… similar.

It feels at home right now.

My grip on the door handle trembles. The rest of the door does as well, as if the only thing holding this door’s entire weight in place is my grip on it. I dare not let go.

I don’t want to open this door. Please, god, no.

I pull my hand off the handle and stagger back, and my grip has left an imprint where my fingers were locked around it. The brass looks more like clay, and the grip begins to twist and shape, twisting further until it resembles a spiral. I can see through the cracks in the doors, the gaps between it and the frame. The surreal memories begin flooding back. I feel the sweat already forming on my brow, my body still trembling.

I can see the hinges of the door beginning to slip away, leaking off the wall as if they were molten metal They hit the floor and spread out, latching onto the floor like fingers spreading over the ground. They scrape and dig, floor bulging around their grip

This time, I can scream. I scream and cry, and I beg the world as loud as my lungs can muster

Not again, not again. Please make it stop, for the love of god.

With no hinged to support the door, it drifts backwards.

My screaming stops as I stare into the void again. I drop to my knees as tears stream down my face, as the room shudders and begins to fade away.

All I can do is pray for it to stop, and hope that my heart stops quickly so this madness will finally end.

Only having Farborn children registered doesn’t do justice to the fact that many Fartouched walk around with the general public unaware of who they are or what they can do. The United States of America has already made it mandatory. It is the biggest concern to the safety of the general public. Quite frankly, I’m surprised that no other parties would dare to bring up such a subject, yet we’re all too aware on a daily basis that the Farside exists, the Farside has affected our lives, or family, and will continue to do so. The best thing we can do is to try to minimise the damage is causes, whilst we look into what we can do to control the Farborn or Fartouched that may endanger us all.”

So what you’re saying is, we don’t have good preventative measures in place at the moment.”

I think we could be doing much more than we are at the moment. We could be putting money into proper research into Fargraced individuals and the Farside. Proper, preventative measures.”

Do you believe the Unit doesn’t qualify as such a ‘measure’?”

The Unit has and will work, but we can’t be sure. As I’ve said, there’s much more that we can do.”

In a previous press statement, you mentioned that you were going to look into a method that would suppress or even ‘turn off’ a Fargraced’s power, if that was even possible. Are these the sorts of measures that you and your party endorse, and what do you say to the accusations that this could be considered a ‘Farside lobotomy’?”

To that, I have to say that such an accusation is pointless and doesn’t get to the real heart of the problem. As for the subject of Fargraced powers, I can confirm that we’ve been looking into various methods that may be used with regards to the control of Fargraced powers. All I can say is that by early 2016, we’ll have something physical and concrete that we can show, to prove that we’re upholding our promises. I take what I’ve said very seriously. Now, are there any further questions?”

I lied.

It’s approaching 2016 and I have absolutely nothing.

I’ve studied the Farside for months on end and the recorded effects it has on people. I’ve watched lectures on the subject, taken advanced online courses on the subject. I’ve investigated the controversial papers and theories by Maxton Greer on the nature of Fargraced. I’ve even looked into the advancements of modern technology based on energies from the Farside and I have absolutely nothing.

I cannot, at all, see a single way for us to turn off an ability from the Farside.

I’ve tried to see if I can experiment on myself, to no success. I’m not sure what that second trip to the Farside did to me a year ago but I can be certain, it changed me once more.

It feels like it’s been a long time since then. The divorce was as clean as it could be, and I haven’t spoken to Janet since it’s all been done. She told me that she’d be happy to talk once I’m ready to reveal what has been problematic with me, and I’ve kept quiet about it. I’ve not revealed to her, nor anybody, about what I am or what happened to me twice.

What happened to me is strange. As far as I can tell, there’s been no recorded cases of anybody being Fartouched twice. I may very well be the first in the world, and the world will never know. I’m uncertain how it changed me, if it altered what was already there or if it warped in something new altogether, but I can feel it now. Crackling through my fingertips, swollen with an alien power.

The less I think of it, the less it disgusts me.

That second time changed another part of me. I realised that the Farside is much greater of a threat than anybody has consciously realised. I’ve experienced that hellish, alien landscape twice now. How many mothers, fathers, sons and daughters have seen their family torn apart by one of their relatives being dragged to that place? Ostracised for being different, changed by the Farside permanently. The appearance of Eldritch, spontaneously and without any warning, that could level a city or kill innocent lives?

No more. If the Union of Britain party will stand for something, it has to stand against the Farside. We have to contain it. We have to do something.

I have to focus on the problem;, the more obvious problem that I’m facing right now; I don’t have a prototype. I haven’t got anything to show people. I can’t turn back on my promises and the people that I’ve promised. I need something, and it’s getting too late now to back out. I can’t live the shame down. We’ll lose whatever standing we have if I can’t give something to the public.

I’m a desperate man, and I’ve been put in a desperate situation. There’s only one thing I can possibly do.

Illegal channels.

I’m already damned by being Fartouched, when being such denies me any position in politics. I refuse to fail this time.

It’s not a well hidden thing that confiscated Farside technology floats around the black market. The NFU and the Police try to hide it up, but being in politics makes you privy to such hidden information, and knowledge of individuals that may be able to supply you with such things. To say this would be to imply that what I’m after exists anywhere, which it doesn’t. It requires a certain improvisation.

I’ve done some inquiring. It took me a while but I’ve managed to get in touch with a rather notorious individual, one Michael Burnham. Ill-regarded as a man who can get you what you want, if the money is good. I’ve managed to maintain phone and email correspondences with him. I’ve been extremely careful, if not overtly careful that this can’t be traced back to me. I’m being paranoid, but I’m not stupid. Any and all traces to me can be removed at a moment’s notice. Nothing short of a confession on either of our behalves will even notify anybody to what’s going on, and neither of us are going to confess to this, I’m sure.

We’ve worked out something. We’ve looked into MAGI-Tech. Artifex has been working on a new prototype engine for motor vehicles, something that can be mass produced. From what I can gather, it can reabsorb the excess energy it produces. When an engine produces heat or other types of energy, it’s lost to the environment. These engines can take back that heat and convert it into energy, making it extremely efficient.

The idea that’s been discussed is that if we acquire such a device, we may be able to use it to draw out the energy that the Farside leaves in you when you’re Fartouched or Farborn. In theory, this could also draw out their powers. It’s impossible to tell, so Michael has suggested that we need something to test it on.

Testing on people would be too risky. He’s said that there are Fartouched animals that he could look into getting, for the purpose of testing. Once we’ve tested it, we may have something that works.

It’s not coming cheaply, but nothing worth fighting for ever is.

A prototype engine, specific machine parts, Fartouched animals. Quite the shopping list.

I can’t say whether this will work, or if this be my salvation or damnation. Every day I go without communication with Michael is another day that I worry that the other shoe will drop. Careless paranoia, I know. I can’t be too careful when dealing with a wanted criminal, but this is proverbial last stand. All I can really do is wait and hope that Burnham provides what I need and that everything all falls into place.

I’m usually quite good when it comes to having a feel for the future, and I can honestly say this.

I get the feeling that the other shoe is going to drop. I just don’t know when.

When it does though, I’ll be ready. That much, I’m certain about.