by F R Malaney
Exactly. You can’t hear anything. No wind, no gulls, nothing. That’s the drones; for every sound they make, they make a sound wave which cancels it out. It means they’ve started again.
There. Do you feel that? No, don’t say anything. There it is again; you can feel the ground shaking. And again, there. Now listen again. No, not like that, move your head. Like this. Hear that? Turn your head again. Sounds like whistling, doesn’t it? Got it? Now you’ll hear properly. That crump-crump from – over there?
Look, and you’ll see it.
Well, that’s the Law gone then.
No, there’s not much of Dundee left anymore. It’s smoke and dust these days, all covered in a blanket of silence. They think it hides what they’re doing. Makes it easier to deal with.
D’you know I once had a dream when I was a boy? I was hiding in a ruined room in a bombed-out city. I remember it all so clearly, right down to the scurry of the rats in the walls and that distant crump-crump we just heard. I remember because, in my dream, I had the face of an old man. It was a white-bearded face, lined and sick and afraid. It’s the face I’m looking at now.
I thought I’d be far away when it happened, lost in a foreign land, or caught in a war zone somewhere. But just the other day I caught sight of my face in the window, and I knew. It was always going to happen here. In a dirty room in the middle of Dundee, overlooking the Nethergate. Staring through a pane of broken glass.
No, I’ve not been out in weeks. Why should I tell you? Why am I even talking to you, anyway?
Everything I said would happen, happened. First, they took our livings, then they took our pensions, and then they came for us. Why? Why not? It was all insults and beatings and ‘who killed the world?’ That was before the squaddies came, handing out their suicide pills, and the ambulances with their ‘assisted release’. They did her in that way. You wouldn’t think that I’d be scared after that, would you? Well, its habit–forming, let me tell you; you know that. Once you start being afraid, no, really afraid so that you don’t know what you’re doing, you find that you can’t stop.
Turn away from the window. I don’t want to see you.
Stop looking at me like that. You know how it happened. It was obvious; it was obvious to anyone with half a brain. But no one wanted to listen, no one wanted to face up to it, no, not even when it was right in front of us. We didn’t kill the world, that’s bollocks. We killed ourselves.
Want to know more? The full story and other like it can be found in The Low Road: A Celebration of Dundee’s Nethergate available on this website.
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