What to do after wrestling with a serpent – Part 4

What to do after wrestling with a serpent – Part 3

A drone flew over head making a buzzing zipping type of noise that quickly alerted you to its presence and was just as quickly gone again as it continued its predefined security circuit. They were harder to hear from within the walls of the Psy Ward where Eric was still being held, but the sounds appeared and disappeared sure as anything rhythmic. It had frustrated Eric at first as it felt like the maddening soundtrack to his demise for no other reason than the fact he was doing something slightly different, though not wholly unusual, than your standard third lifer by keeping all of his memories intact and not taking on any alterations for his original form. Now it mattered less. The Clerks has finished their lengthy evaluation of over two months now and found nothing that could legally allow them to keep him.

Instead of the mechanised Clerks that had escorted him into the Psy Ward, Eric was treated to an escort by the head Clerk. Some sort of way of mild apology whilst also keeping Eric away from the Clerk who had originally interred him. It was clear from the evaluations that Eric hadn’t lost his mind, but he was highly likely to act violently to that particular Clerk. This head Clerk who was escorting Eric, called Head by his Siblings of the Order, was silently walking Eric back over the moat he had originally crossed and into a new building which led outdoors.

A light canopy of a leafy green crawling plant partially covered the courtyard which greeted Eric at the exit to the Order’s compound. Daggers of sunshine pierced the canopy at random intervals providing for a joyful sight indeed after days spent staring at a floor, ceiling and walls that were identical. As he strolled through the courtyard with his escort he breathed in the salty fresh sea air and enjoyed the slight lashings of the refreshing breeze. In the distance he could see the deep blue ocean, most likely of the Pacific. The island was truly beautiful.

Eric wasn’t sure if he had been here before or not. He had of course been rebirthed once, but it’s a memory they remove far before any forms are ever filled in. Probably before he even left the compound or a compound on his first rebirth. Logically you’d think the Order had more than one location for rebirthing so as to be able to quickly move in the event that someone discovered their compound, but it was impossible to know.

“I trust there won’t be any trouble stemming from your visit,” the Head asked.

“Trouble is usually in my nature,” Eric replied with the smirk of a mischief maker, before sending this was no times for jokes and added, “But there won’t be any trouble for me here.”

The Head has obviously expected some response like this in the end, but it was always a good final test. “Very good then. We shan’t be seeing you again, so please do enjoy a long and fulfilling final life and rest in peace thereafter.”

With that he bowed and left Eric standing on a small cliff edge overlooking the water.

What was probably hours but could have been months or years for all Eric knew passed and the last memory he had was of the water crushing around him. He had been successfully rebirthed, which was one small, but significant step. There was always the possibility that he’d be caught up in the bureaucratic process of the Order and be stuck in some compound until his dying days. At the very least he had not suffered that particular fate.

Waking up after rebirth is a odd sensation the first time and as with anything do strange, slightly easier the second. Still, being walked to a random location and having your memory wiped back to the point for your death is a lot to handle. The word ‘lost’ doesn’ quite cover it. It is indeed a good place to start, but being lost is some sort of journey leading to a realisation that you don’t know where you are. Whether it’s being physically or mentally lost, this holds true. Instead, the feeling Eric had was what you have when you realise you are in fact lost, instantaneously.

Pain lingered fresh in his mind as he looked around the pub he now, miraculously he felt, sat in. This was a traditional pub that could easily have been the same in the 20th century as it was now. There were three cask ale pumps positioned in the middle of a bar that looked as though it had been made from an ancient tree. Eric sat in a small cubby off in the dark corner next to the toilet entrance. He wondered if leaving him near the stink of toilets in an outdated drinking establishment was the Order’s way of making a joke.

As thoughts and memories cane flooding back into his head much like the water rushing into his submarine, his demeanour changed from dumb struck to pensive. While the toilet positioning was surely a joke, he also thought that the pub was. Unfortunately for their little joke, Eric loved pubs of all shapes and sizes. They had drink, people, limited music and no food to distract. This was not to be mistaken as a dislike of food, Eric loved food, he just wanted food separate from the pub, where you went to drink.

Eric stood up and approached the pre lunchtime pub, the calm before the lunchtime storm of ‘quick ones’. The barman nodded as he approached and wordlessly gestures as if to ask what drink Eric wanted. A pint of Guinness is what Eric wanted, so he pointed to the sleek extra cold tap and that’s what he got. No fuss, exactly as Eric liked. He remained at the bar, in the far corner of it away from the barman where he found a stool to rest on.

His Guinness did that lovely thing it did where the bubbles descended and slowly the black and white parted from each other signalling that it was ready to drink. Eric took a big sip and sighed with contentment. With that dip, it felt felt to him as if he was free from the crushing sensation of his death. The Order defined rebirth as when you’ve back in the form you’ve requested, but this was the true rebirth for Eric.

How I’m writing…

My approach to What to do after wrestling with a serpent

I thought it would be interesting to write a few notes about how I’m writing one of the serial posts here. I think it is a short story, but maybe it’ll be a novel. Also, there’s a high probability that it will be an unfinished. That’s also OK.

The parts

Writing in parts is more for convenience of writing on my phone during commutes. Eventually the plan is to go back and edit these parts either into longer chapters or combine some. During that stage I’ll recheck my poor spelling and grammar apparent in my commuting writing (I admit that some of it will just be my poor writing on a first go around as well).

The writing

On the commute, lounging on the sofa, lying in bed, etc – invariably with my right hand only on my phone. Occasionally I’ll go back and look at things on my laptop. I should really write on their because I find it cones out better and probably saves my fingers a bit (at least my thumb) from strain in the same way. Still, it’s most convenient to do it on either side of work and normal life. Mostly, I’ll do it when I’m happy as it gives me pleasure in those moments. I hate for it to feel like a chore, which is how it seems some approach it.


Immortality has always been interesting. The idea of stealing some time and living longer. Somehow being able to pull off several lives is fascinating. For me it’s not about regrets, but possibility. If there was a space program that was more active in 100 years and I got to start over my life (with all my loved ones doing the same) then maybe I’d do that rather than what I’m up to now. Or maybe I’d do that just to try something else. If you’d saved up enough money in your first life then maybe you could do whatever. Perhaps you’d be more cautious.

The prospect of a world where almost immortality is interesting. The technology is there, but society still limits it. Surely someone would try to circumvent that system eventually.


Always the big question when I start something. Will I ever see it through to a point where I’d call it complete? Maybe.

What to do after wrestling with a serpent – Part 3

What to do after wrestling with a serpent – Part 2

The Clerks sat on an oval bench made of a hard gray stone. They sat looking in the centre of the oval at the most technologically advanced piece of kit that the Siblings possessed outside of the rebirthing chambers. It was similar to a security system of old, but without the need for actual cameras as micro cameras were laced in the paint that covered the walls of the compound. Most guests weren’t stupid enough to expect privacy in their rooms, but none knew how truly invasive the surveillance was. Every move of every person was meticulously tracked and analysed and could be watched from these oval break rooms such as that that the two Clerks interviewing Eric now sat at.

This place was not known for its creature comforts or design, but the Oval rooms were particularly pleasant places as they were out of sight of guests and the Clerks spent the majority of their spare time there. Clerks such as those who had interviewed Eric argued that this was a purely observational undertaking and that it underscored their professionalism. Arguably this could be true though most Clerks privately admitted that their only real sin was being snoopy. It was in effect The Sin of the Clerks. It kept them going through their drab existence.

Without much consideration, the original clerk that interviewed Eric swiped the air over the center pit of the oval which was like a large screen floating above the floor. He had moved on to other guests at this point, but his mind lingered on Eric Anglegot. Why would such a person be so reckless with their second life and yet seem so perfectly normal going into their third and final life? There was no nervousness or anxiety. No odd tweaks or signs of trying to move into his final life with a higher regard for the human life and its sanctity when there are no more chances. Eric was completely normal, which was very odd.

The clerk swiped the lower corner of the screen with a twisting motion which made that corner show Eric’s room, while the main bit still showed the video of a women who had grown old in the Clerk’s care as she cited their misdeeds and trespasses in a slow and rhythmic mantra. She had been there the longest whilst still being sane, though very determined and angry.

They lounged back on the oval bench, one lying on his back facing the ceiling, deep in thought, and the other with his elbows on his knees and fingers loosely clutched together whilst staring at the screen. His eyes flitted between the small corner showing Eric and the large view of the woman, the so called ancient one.

“What is she still doing here after all these years, unchanging,” asked the second to the original clerk, “it just doesn’t make sense that she’d be able to continue with the same tirade for so long.”

After a brief contemplation, the original clerk shook his head and responded, “there’s plenty of resolve in humans, it just doesn’t usually show itself so profoundly in an individual. When it does though, it’s absolutely boundless.”

“Interesting, but then why are you keeping her on the screen so prominently if you understand her?”

“There’s something calming and known about her presence. It’s as if I know her movements and motivations so well that my mind can switch off watching her. I’ve kept Eric in the corner so that hopefully my relaxed mind can pick up on something in him on the periphery.”

“Presumably there hasn’t been anything yet?”

“Correct. Some of his more pronounced exercise routines catch my eye yet clearly yield no secrets. I’m not even convinced there any secrets. Though the oddness of his aircraft carrier remark is fascinating.”

“An interesting puzzle. I’m minded that we have another interview to attend. Shall we?”

In unison, they stood up, shut off the corner showing Eric and unmuted the screen. As they exited the room, the ancient one’s mantra came ringing into the corridor…these heathens control life in a manner which we have never agreed they should and as such we must sue for emancipation and a repatriation of our rights.

Eric wasn’t going to sue the government or the Clerks so there wasn’t really any reason to hold him and they couldn’t for much more than another day. Still, that day may get bear fruit, so the Clerk made his decision and called his colleagues together after their daily interviews to ensure Eric Anglegot was fully observed and analysed in the time he had remaining. If there was something to find, they would.

What to do after wrestling with a serpent – Part 2

What to do after wrestling with a serpent – Part 1

Rorsharch was a psychologist back from the early days, when humans started to begin the depths of the human mind.  Most people know him because of his test, where the subject is presented with a series of ink blots and asked to say what they see in each ink blot.  These responses are then interpreted by the psychologist to shed light on the subject’s sub-conscious mind.  Very archaic compared to the multitude of chemical analysis tests that Eric had undergone and had clearly passed, but nonetheless, after two weeks the clerks were not allowing any avenue to remain unexplored.

“What do you see Mr. Anglegot?” Asked the clerk holding up a card with a butterfly shaped ink blot on it, while the original clerk that was processing Eric’s papers sat on a stool in the corner quietly observing.

“A large butterfly,” responded Eric without any hint of sarcasm even though it was how he desperately wanted to deliver his response.

The clerks nodded unconsciously at the response.  This was a trait Eric had noticed they do when in the same room, analysing some form of data.  They were linked, not like a hive mind, but like some online echo chamber.  They would always interpret results in the same manner as their Siblings and the more Siblings they consulted, the stronger their conviction would become.  It was in unequal parts infuriating and fascinating.  Eric had certainly had enough of it and their tests.

“And how about this one,” the clerk asked as he dropped the butterfly blot card face forward onto the table to reveal a new ink blot.

“An aircraft carrier,” Eric said absentmindedly.  The moment he said it he felt a sharp regret, but concealed this emotion as best he could.  Even so, something twigged with the Siblings, and Eric hoped it wasn’t his look of regret.

“What is an ‘aircraft carrier’?” The original clerk queried.

Luckily, Eric thought, they were so confused by such an archaic term that they missed the regret altogether and instead homed in on the strange word and what it might mean.  Honesty, or a shade of it, was the best bet here Eric decided.

“It’s an old military vessel that sailed on the sea under nuclear power and carried a complement of attack aircraft that could launch from their decks in any weather,” and then he offered by way of explanation, “I’ve always been somewhat of a history enthusiast in both of my lives so far.  Early 21st century has always been of great interest to me because of the complicated manners in which they went about doing things we find so simple – in this example, transporting attack aircraft around the world because of the lack of hyper-speed intra-Earth travel.”

The clerks nodded again and one of them made a note on his pad, an then queried further, “it seems odd that such an archaic part of our history is so at the forefront of your mind after two lifetimes that you would see it in the ink blots.  Do you care or can you explain this?”

Answering a question such as this was tricky on too many fronts.  How was he supposed to explain an obsession that he originally understood so little about and then turned into a singleminded goal that would pose a roundabout threat to the Order.  It was at the forefront of his mind, because he was searching for just such a vessel deep on the ocean floor.  He had no intention of saying that though, so he needed something credible that would not get him permanently locked up in this timeless zone across the moat or whatever it was that separated where he was and the outside world.

“Well, as ever it probably stems from my parents in some shape or form,” Eric said, going back to some basic psychology he had read about sometime that said everything was on our parents and how they nurtured us, “and maybe how they neglected me for mechanical items.”

The clerks felt something fantastic coming.  Like Eric and his obsession with archaic ships, they had a love of archaic psychological theories and their applicability to present day subjects.  It’s the other reason why they liked to draw out evaluations whenever they could.  “Go on,” they said in unison.

“Well, you see, they were both in the Earthbound Corps of Engineers, and spent the majority of time either travelling on deployment or tinkering in their workshops.  This left only a little time for me.  That’s unfair, I guess, as I know they always took me along for the ride and provided whatever I needed.  I was fascinated by what they were doing, but it’s hard for a child to fully understand the complexities or the need for a major dam.  It’s also relatively boring if no one explains it to you.  So I got ahold of their engineering pads that were lying around and slowly read through parts of the archive.”

Eric stopped for a breath.  He hadn’t said that much, but he worried he was saying it all too quickly and not making enough sense.  He looked at both of the clerks who were eagerly anticipating the next bit of his story, so he resumed, “well, these old

“Thank you Mr. Anglegot, that will be all for now.”

Back he was marched to his padded “room,” his oppressively basic cell where they kept him as a precaution.  It was all for his own safety, of course, which the Siblings cared so much for.  Most of the time, Eric thought they were actually trying to make him go insane.  He had no idea how it could actually benefit them unless there was some type of secret quota system they kept to so they could prove their worth to the public.  Odd and dangerous how the organisation had taken on a life of its own.

He slowly did some basic exercise to keep himself occupied for half an hour and work off his frustration, without seeming to be frustrated.  It was always the key, to keep calm and ensure none of his frustration seeped out into the psychological sessions.  It was vital.  It was the only way out.  So he jumped and pushed and crunched until he felt calm and then he lay on the floor as there was no mattress.  Waiting time had come again.

What to do after wrestling with a serpent – Part 3