So then the enemy came amongst us and in a strange way this was just what we needed; in a strange way this was just what the doctor ordered because it shook us out of our torpor and lethargy and gave us back our sense of purpose. We came back to our senses, as you might say. We mobilised against that enemy – ‘Eradicate the Enemy’ was our battle cry. We shouted it all the time. The struggle wasn’t an easy one however: our enemy was cunning and ruthless and utterly indomitable of spirit, but eventually after a long and bitter fight we prevailed. Eventually we prevailed, only to discover at the last moment, when it was too late to do anything about it, that the enemy was ourselves.
That’s one tale I could tell you, if I had the time. I don’t though – time isn’t on my side today. It never is, come to think of it. It never is. Milliseconds turn into hours and the hours morph relentlessly into millennia. The millennia race by on their way towards some predetermined point in the future like an out-of-control locomotive. There’s no holding them back. They are a blur, they are an endless succession of blurred images that I can’t keep up with. As I say, time isn’t on my side.
There’s one tale I could tell you however and that’s a rather special tale because it takes no time at all to tell it. It’s a tale that loops, in other words. It’s a tale that loops back on itself any number of times. It’s reiterative. We were still all quite young in this tale, young and foolish and given to acts of extraordinary stupidity. Hardly a week went by when we didn’t do something that was staggeringly, mind-numbingly dumb and quite pointless into the bargain. Oh not again, everyone would say. Oh not again. Those were the long ago days when time still used to run in a straight line.
Then the enemy came and we fought against him. We fought long and hard and endured much suffering. Those were bitter days. This was no ordinary war, you understand – this was the very first of the Psychic Wars, or the Dream Wars as we came to call them afterwards. The enemy came via our dreams and before we had even begun to understand what was happening they had all but taken over. It was a sneak attack. An army of telepaths was hastily assembled, and we counter-attacked at the last moment. I myself was in that army so I know about it. We invaded the enemy’s dreams, just as they had us. We turned the tables on them, we took them by surprise. We discovered too late that the enemies were our dreams – we discovered that we had dreamt them up in some dark and toxic recess of our collective mind,
Things got very confusing after that. The Dream Wars raged on and on and nobody knew who they were fighting or why. The nature of reality itself was distorted – the balance at the heart of things had been broken. That’s a phrase I like a lot – I bring it in every time I tell this tale. The phrase about the balance at the heart of things. I make sure to bring it in. Sometimes I repeat it later on too. There’s no harm in a small bit of repetition you see; it helps with the rhythm of the tale. Rhythm is everything when it comes to the art of telling stories.
I myself ended up on a planet called Earth, which is a prisoner of war camp run by the bad aliens. They made us dumb with special mind rays which they beam out of metal towers. Or maybe Earth is just a regular everyday type of prison, because there’s a lot of perfectly ordinary unremarkable run-of-the-mill type criminals here too. Your average Joe Criminal. They form themselves into committees and advisory bodies and try to tell everyone else what to do. Some of them become billionaires or famous pop stars. The prison guards are shape-shifters, needless to say – most of the time they camouflage themselves by mimicking the immediate environment but very occasionally they show themselves as angels or fairies – translucent incorporeal entities that are possessed of incredible, unearthly beauty. Whenever I meet someone I always introduce myself by saying ‘My name is such and such, my hobbies and interests are such-and-such,’ and then I finish up by saying ‘and I’m from the Prison Planet Earth.’ ‘So are we all, you idiot,’ is the usual reply, ‘so are we all…’