Eric came round. He opened his eyes. He shut his eyes. He opened
one eye. Yep, it was still there. The face of the doctor was peering down at
'You just passed out,' he said
'I realised,' Eric replied. 'Can I go?'
'Yes. It's probably best if you get some rest, the ambulance
crew will take you home.' It was only then that Eric noticed the numbness in
his leg, and saw that it had been bandaged, no, that wasn't the word,
'What the-' he began
'Even an ornamental lion has a vicious attack, it seems,' said
the doctor, and strolled off smiling to himself.
Eric was bundled into the ambulance and then bounced down as
many pot-holed roads as the council could afford. When he finally got home he
felt like a termite does just after its tree has been chopped down. He was
provided with some NHS crutches that had something that strongly resembled
blood covering one handle. It started to rain. Eric felt the worst he had ever
felt in his entire life as he hobbled indoors.
The creator of humans scratched his head. That was odd, the book
should've moved to the place no human knew existed, but when he looked there it
was nowhere to be seen. Typical. He must have made a mistake during his
vigorous typing session. Oh, well. Now nobody knew where the thing was. That
was probably good, depending on where the book was now.
Eric thought about his job. If he'd had a job, he'd have
paperwork. If he had paperwork, he knew what his job had been. Simple. He
ambled slowly upstairs. The pain in his leg was settling down now. Perhaps his
nerves were giving up in exhaustion. The filing cabinet was on the landingj^en
he finally reached it he heaved the top draw open and scanned the tabs. When he
found 'Job' he pulled out the file. He picked up a sheet of paper and looked at
it. It vanished. He felt another faint coming on. He picked up another one,
which also vanished. Eric was intrigued. If he never got his old job back at
least he could become a magician until this paperwork ran out. A good five year
career, then. Besides, when it ran out he could just make some copies. He
blinked. Then he made a determined scramble towards the attic.
The book was red and bound with gold. It was about the size of
an encyclopasdia. It appeared behind 'Glue-making for beginners' on the twelfth
shelf up of a dusty bookcase in the city library. This was lucky, nobody would
ever look here.
The room was etched in black and white for a split second as the
flash went off. Eric opened his eyes. The paper on the floor vanished with a
pathetic 'phut'. Then the wait began. It seemed eternal. Only those who have
sent off for something from a mail-order catalogue could relate to it. Finally,
a little square of paper was ejected from the back of the camera. Another wait
ensued, this one considerably longer than the first. A picture pierced the
blackness of the paper. It did not go away.
Eric read the photograph with the aid of a magnifying glass and
felt the flood-gates of his memory open up and let the knowledge blast forth.
He knew. He knew everything, even what had happened one split second before he
had woken up the next day. The nuclear power plant where he had worked had
exploded. With him inside. He remembered having his head torn off by the blast
and seeing his spine snake out of the limp body, spitting blood everywhere,
then waking up the next day as if nothing had happened. He suddenly felt very
confident. The voice rose in his head.
'Yuck,' it said. That was pretty horrible. How'd you find that
'Who are you?' thought Eric.
'I'm you. I'm your conscience. I tell you what to do. Very
important that. I remember whe-'
'You believe vou're me. so who do vou think is thinkina at vou
'I, well, it's probably one of the lads playing a joke or
something,' the voice said uncertainly.
'Oh, I can ensure you it isn't. Bugger off.'
'I can't! I control you! You need me!' pleaded the voice.
'From now on I'd prefer to control myself. You're not making a
very good job of it.'
'You can't get rid of me!'
'Whenever I try to remember something it takes ages, then when I
do remember it I don't need it anymore, and you're behind that, aren't you?'
'Well, that /s why I'm here but I-'
'And another thing... What did you just say?'
The voice sounded like someone who is balancing on a strand of
cotton across the Niagara Falls.
'Well, I, My err, my job is to protect.'
'Protect what?' demanded Eric.
'To protect the, god it sounds silly, to protect the world.'
..To be continued..