tagNovels and NovellasNo Future Ch. 86

No Future Ch. 86


The Food of Love

No one could ever doubt it. This was by every possible measurement the biggest gig of Psychlone's professional life so far. It was the biggest blast he'd ever had, even including the first time he had sex. But Psychlone wasn't making a penny from it. Not even a measly grand or so. And the other acts giving it out were also all giving it for free. Although Psychlone knew enough from his university studies in Political History that there were fewer more hackneyed clichés in the history of alternative or underground culture, this whole thing was being done for the cause of World Peace.

But this time it was deadly serious. Peace in the world was at serious risk. Those missiles stationed on the tartan and taffy borders were more of a threat to peace and the survival even of the human species than any war there'd ever been in a distant foreign country, however much they served to keep the military preoccupied in other matters than that of beating up protestors.

This time it was fucking serious.

And one thing Psychlone knew, as did the other DJs and performers along with the tens of thousands of fans spread in front of him across the expanse of the illegally occupied Hyde Park, was that the bad guys in the current crisis weren't the Scots, the Welsh, the French or the Swedes. It might be true that those were the nations whose missiles were trained on English towns and villages, but the real villain of the potentially cataclysmic pantomime playing out across the planet was the Republic of England.

It wasn't quite as clear-cut as that of course. It wasn't the people of England who were the villains. This was made absolutely obvious by the very existence of this illegal rave and the huge demonstration of which it was a part. The English people had no real quarrel with the Irish, the Scots, the Chinese or the Canadians. Furthermore, in a sense it wasn't really the government of the Republic of England who were to blame either. They were bound by an alliance of convenience with other oppressive regimes across the globe, notably the Republic of North America, the United States of North Africa and the Muslim Republics of North India and Pakistan. Psychlone, ever the Political History graduate, was fully aware that the current arms race and the dangerous flirting with Mutual Assured Destruction, with the whole panoply of mostly antiquated Weapons of Mass Destruction, was driven less by a deep hatred of one set of people towards another but by conflicts of territory, resources and the relentless logic of military escalation.

On the other hand, that wasn't the kind of complicated message a man could preach to the thousands of mostly young people who were enjoying the first free gig of their lives. What they wanted were slogans and an easily digestible message. And the Plastic Ono Band from a century and a half ago, mashed up with Psychlone's own skronky beats and the insistent sampled growl of Captain Beefheart was sufficiently catchy and percussive to be both danceable and on point.

"All we are saying is..." Psychlone yelled into the mike.

"Give Peace a Chance," echoed the crowd, totally ignorant of the political context of the 1960s and the United States of America's futile war in Vietnam. This was just one of the many conflicts that had led to the nation's economic collapse and eventual disintegration. And this was a nation—now split into three warring nations that were threatening to fragment even further—that once considered itself the world's policeman in an era when that notion seemed somehow plausible.

Crowd response! This was fucking fantastic.

Psychlone didn't want to milk it too much. The crowd wanted more than slogans to sing along to. They wanted beats to dance to. There were other tunes on his laptop from the far distant twentieth century he could mix and match with more familiar tunes from the turn of the twenty-second century. "War. What is it good for?" "There's a Hard Rain a Gonna Fall." "Eve of Destruction." But Psychlone wasn't here to drop tunes from the long dead Age of Rock and Roll. This wasn't the time to invoke the mostly forgotten ghosts of Gil Scott-Heron, Woody Guthrie or Country Joe and the Fish. This was the time to drop the midrange, pump up the bass and accelerate the beats per minute.

No one in the audience gave a fuck about the authorities. Any heavy-handed impulse to break up the gig would be defeated by the sheer weight of numbers and the unspoken fact that many within the political establishment were secretly pleased that they now had the excuse of popular dissent to put their feet on the brakes on the otherwise inexorable drive towards global destruction. In any case, the police would be impotent to break up a demonstration of such numbers. There weren't enough of them to make a difference and anyway they were so corrupt and compromised that they no longer commanded any respect. The military had the weapons to deal with social dissent, but they were of little use against a peaceful protest however many laws were being openly flouted.

Most of those laws were generally ignored anyway. Those regarding drugs were routinely disregarded. Successive campaigns over the centuries had been a totally unqualified failure. Drug abuse was more prevalent than it had ever been: openly practised and about the only way in which a substantial proportion of the population could make a living. It was such a profitable industry that almost everyone in the establishment was rumoured to have a finger in the huge pie. Regulating against drugs had become as senseless as regulating oxygen. The laws which gave cause for most concern were not those relating to illegal drugs, public sex or disorderly behaviour. The ones that emboldened most people to protest were those related to public assembly and private property. Very few of those dancing manically to Psychlone's beats had ever been inside one of London's parks before. The entrance fee was far too prohibitive. Few would ever have marched along roads like Whitehall, Piccadilly and Haymarket that were normally the exclusive domain of those with money and status. Psychlone had only ever been so privileged because he could flash his backdoor pass to the night clubs where he performed.

Here was London's largest park invaded by the unwashed masses—tens if not hundreds of thousands of them—all gathered to hear him drop beats that were circulated across the globe on the heavily policed internet. As Psychlone also knew, he was being seen and heard by many others on countless time zones through the same ubiquitous digital media. He would be heard in nations such as China, Canada and Vietnam who were the last remaining bastions of human rights and the freedom of speech in a world in which such values now seemed hopelessly unfashionable. Fewer people would be able to decrypt the video and audio signals in repressive regimes such as Morocco, Venezuela and the breakaway Republic of Texas.

But all good things must come to an end.

This wasn't just Psychlone's gig. He was, in fact, one of dozens who'd risked arrest to perform in the heart of London within earshot of Mayfair: England's most exclusive and heavily guarded residential district. There were many wealthy Chinese, Brazilians and Malaysians in the Park Lane hotels overlooking the park who were able to witness a historic occasion of the sort that was once quite common but now happened very rarely.

One of the promoters was urgently whirling his arm round to signify that Psychlone should start winding down. Five minutes his spread out fingers indicated. Psychlone could see Bobby Tarkovsky of the monumentally popular Techno Skiffle band, the Quarrymen. He wouldn't remain very popular himself if he unduly delayed their appearance on the stage.

It was a cliché but it had to be done. The final beats came from Psychlone's insanely catchy and slightly subversive Eric Esterhazy which was an unusually apt selection for a gig like this. Most people had only ever heard of the man's name in relation to the universally despised Government of National Unity (which was actually no worse than the current government), but it gave them a focus for their pent-up anger. "What a fucking cunt!" they all shouted in unison as the chorus dived and swerved round the percussion and swirling chords. It was ironic that the man was now far more famous as the inspiration for a sarcastic and undoubtedly scurrilous dance tune than for what he'd ever done as a politician. That was one thing for which Psychlone and the ravers could be grateful.

"Right on, man," said Steve Psonic, the drummer from the Quarrymen, as Psychlone made his way off stage and the compère made his way to the centre.

"Give it up large!" yelled MC Car Crash as he took the mike, before launching into an account of what was coming up later in his trademark rap delivery that was both hip and essential. As always, he wore traditional West African dress that seriously clashed with his choice of hats. Today he was wearing a Stetson. This must be a deliberately ironic reference to possibly the most despised nation in the whole world. Psychlone was sure that the rednecks and hillbillies of the Republic of North America didn't really merit the derision and scorn directed towards them, but they did come from a nation that perhaps deserved to be allied with Muslim extremists. Like their allies, they still denied the truth of evolution even as they preached the merits of natural selection. Furthermore, they both promoted the sanctity of the life of the unborn child while also televising public executions and reviving lethal gladiatorial sports. The Republic represented an intolerant biblical fundamentalism totally at odds with their firm alliance with fundamental Muslims.

And these were the kinds of people that Psychlone was supposed to regard as his country's natural allies in a time of war.

Although folk music, like skiffle, rock and reggae, wasn't really to Psychlone's taste, he could see that the Quarrymen were onto something. They had catchy tunes and inspired arrangements, that was for sure. They also had an extra spark revealed by their exuberant showmanship. With only a modicum of technology, they immediately grabbed the audience's attention and got them to dance and even sing along to tunes that were a reminder of a far distant age when England, as the major partner of the United Kingdom, produced music from the cities of Liverpool, London and Manchester that more or less conquered the world.

Despite the Quarrymen's obvious skill, it was difficult to believe that there should ever be such days again. Just like America—whose pre-eminence in popular music, cinema and industry had declined even faster than its economic and political fortunes—the Republic of England was a cultural desert compared to China, South America and West Africa.

But the day was yet young. It would be several more hours till the summer sun would set. And now that Psychlone had done his gig, he could chill out, take it easy, listen to the Quarrymen, toke a joint, snort a line, and be content that he had done his bit for World Peace.

And you never know. Maybe he had helped to keep those neutron missiles and mushroom clouds at bay for just a few years more.

That was surely something to celebrate.

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