The sprawling metropolis of Birmingham’s city centre assembled below them like an urban patchwork quilt as the blades of the chopper forced a need for its occupants to shout. “It’s going up!” yelped out the pilot pointing with enthusiasm at a huge pole being erected in the city centre that was hoisted up with three mega-sized cranes.
Neil looked down at where the pilot was pointing and produced the most splendid smile that a multi-billionaire businessman could ever hope to achieve in his busy and stressful position. His lifetime plan was slowly beginning to see the light and it gave him immense pleasure. “Yes,” he stumbled; it was the only word he could find. His mind was drifting, locked in with the trance-like perpetual motion of the chopper’s blades. Gradually he was taken back, back to a simpler time when his only wish was to visit that shop.
“Welcome to Create-A-Cuddly Workshop!” beamed a chubby student girl, lisping her words of welcome through her teeth’s metallic fence. Although his father could see her braces glistening under the neon lights, little Neil could not; he was only knee-high to a grasshopper and far too eager to get started on his project than to concern himself with the young shop assistant’s dental issues.
All little Neil could see of her was her two rolls of chubbiness under her large youthful breasts, tightly wrapped in a Batman logoed T-shirt. He smiled and the girl picked up on it, “do you like Batman?” she asked of him to which he only shied away to bury his face into the loud coloured skirt of his mother. She gave a smile, exposing those braces for all their glory as she turned to the father of the family who was clutching his wallet through his pocket, concerning himself with just how much this bill would advance to. As she did so Neil got a full waft of the most amazingly decorated cuddly teddy-bear poking out from a pink rucksack. Meanwhile the father had her full attention; above the T-shirt reared a youthful student girl with pointed ended red glasses and so many ribbons and beads in her hair you could hardly tell what style or colour her hair was underneath.
“It’s his birthday,” pointed out the man, still grasping his wallet, hoping for a reprise under the circumstances. She failed to reply but remained as electric in mood as she was upon welcoming them. Turning to the little boy she beamed, “Oh wow!” she cried, “is it your birthday?”
Neil found some courage, “yes,” he mumbled.
“Oh wow,” she repeated, “and how old are you today?”
“5!” he wisped, proud as Punch.
“5!” she responded with a fake glee, “wow, what a big boy, what is your name?”
“Neil,” he stumbled again with a warming to her breezy and excited attitude.
“Neil!” she screeched, “happy birthday……”
“Happy Birthday Sir,” said the other man in the helicopter, his hair was grey, he was suited in expensive clothes and sat on his lap was an enormous quantity of paperwork pinned to a clipboard.
“Thanks,” said Neil, bursting suddenly out of dream reminiscent, “it’s looking good isn’t it?”
“Sure is, we will be underway in no time,” he replied with a look of awe at the fellow besides him, “the wind is strong and blowing from the east.”
Neil just hummed, wondering if all the power of the natural forces would be adequate. His top team of scientists, geologists and marine experts had forecast the mission’s success; they assured him that his dreams would come true. Although it was something he wished as a boy it was not selfishness, Neil had used his hard-earned billions to create this project for the people of the UK and an overwhelming majority voted for its approval. He just couldn’t believe this was coming to a conclusion so soon after production; the mining team had dug underneath the country so soon.
The chubby student gleamed at Neil while she bent to his level to fasten a sticker upon his breast, “here’s your Create-A-Cuddly birthday sticker!”
The little boy looked more than pleased and caressed its shiny surface with his fingertips. “Now,” lisped the girl in a tone that would sound patronising to anyone over the age of 5, “what kind of cuddly are we making for you?”
Again silence as he buried his head back into his mother’s skirt, he was embarrassed to tell her his desires as he could not see what he wanted among the wondrous array of deflated furry skins that lay with precision around the sides of the shop. There were bears, there were monkeys and bunnies, dogs and cats, even a squirrel and a frog. There were licenced skins, Teenage Mutant Turtles, Star Wars characters and Disney Princess’s galore. But, and this is a big but, there were no dinosaurs.
Neil had his heart set on creating a dinosaur and when Neil had his heart set on something….
The crowds were uncontained in jubilation, they screamed in joy, they laughed in abundance and shouted their approval. The remainder of the nation that had not attended the momentous event watched their TV in confusion, unsure in the believability of the proposal that was just announced. They knew that this was a plan by an eccentric madman and no amount of scientific speeches proving the theory to be possible would waiver their scepticism but still they had to admit, it sounded like a pretty neat idea.
Neil sat on the podium, overjoyed with the response as the crowds continued to vocalise their elation. He stood and shook hands with Dr Darren Horton as the young scientist bowed at him like he was royalty. Neil walked across the stage to greet Alfred, the Prime Minister and they too received each other with a firm handshake. Alfred turned the crowd and bellowed, “Too long have we been bowing down to Brussels! The European Union has failed to accommodate us and with the help of Neil and his team we can now bridge the gap between our lands!” and with that he welcomed the President of the United States of America to the platform.
Although the crowds were screaming and the moment that the celebrated President stood forth was one heck of an historic occasion Neil did not stand in the same sensation of awe as his fellow UK citizens; he had met the President on numerous occasions to discuss the proposals. So despite the man’s enormous charisma, charm and booming presence Neil’s mind began to wander over the happenings that were surely the root to this fantastic idea.
The key to Neil’s success was the fact that he always strives to achieve his goals. They say that when Neil had his heart set on something, he got it without doubt. A younger Neil had his heart set on creating a dinosaur at the Create-A-Cuddly workshop but his dream was suddenly burst. Although he could not fathom the words his father gladly spoke on his behalf, “He wanted to make a dinosaur,” he boldly claimed.
The chubby bundle of enthusiasm that was the shop worker shook the ribbons in her hair as her fantastical expression of ecstasy suddenly dropped to be replaced by a far more solemn one. Her bottom lip curled, her eyes immediately watered and she turned both around and downwards, crouching to face the little boy that was still grasping to his dream. “Awlllllllll, ain’t that cute; A dinosaur?!” she whimpered.
The little boy, unable to pick up on the expressions and body language of the girl three times his age, clutched onto his faith that he was here to make a cuddly dinosaur and the fact that the time was nigh to rupture this vision was the furthest thing from his tiny mind. As the girl broke the news gently he matched the expression change of the shop assistant tenfold. Remaining in her crouching position she steadily moved both her arms up to place them on the boy’s shoulders, “I am sorry,” she began as softly and sincerely as she could considering it was almost her time for a lunch-break and she had been acting this show now for four and a half hours, “we don’t have dinosaurs.”
“We don’t have any need for Europe, we have no desire to be European,” announced the Prime Minister, proudly placing his hands upon the shoulders of Neil. “Today we have a chance to join our brothers and sisters from across the Atlantic and I propose that we welcome this idea with open arms!”
Neil stood proud with those hands upon his shoulders, just like the shop assistant except the Prime Minister was not attired in a Batman T-shirt and teeth braces; I will have my dinosaur, he thought to himself with a giggle.
“Oh but you can’t,” whined the girl, acting like she was equally as upset as the young Neil before her. She gave up; there was no rescuing the boy from his disappointment at this point. Slowly she raised her body and turned back to his father, “you’ll have to go to America for that,” she informed him.
The Dad lit up, he loved to be filled in with the facts, “really?” he asked, keen with interest.
“Oh yeah,” she squeaked with delight, “Create-A-Dino is a new branch, you should see them!”
The cogs worked overtime on the father’s forehead, producing a ripple. Suddenly he came to his senses, “Well, we haven’t really got time for that,” he humoured, “I’ve only paid for three hours parking!”
She giggled, picking up on his wit but not really finding it truly amusing she continued, “We have a like, really cool monkey!” She picked up a deflated furry toy and waved it at the upset little boy with a glee that was risky to promise breaking through his depressive change of heart.
By everyone’s amazement it shed a glimmer of hope as Neil only slightly upturned his frown.
Overall Neil was satisfied with the response of the nation, the fullness of his proposal not yet coming to light. The plan’s realism seemed so far off in the minds of the people of the UK, but he knew this; who could blame them? They stood silent, aghast at the final unravelling of Neil’s master plan.
The satisfaction was equal to the younger version of Neil on that remarkable day; he was overjoyed at the creation of his monkey; complete with a Spiderman suit and mask but somewhere hidden in the depths of his youthful brain the dream of creating a dinosaur still lurked. Awash with the joy of the present the boy wandered to the till, the father not in the same state of jubilation when the toy was packed into a box and the price revealed to him. He hummed as he put his debt card into the slot, the grin from the staff of the Create-A-Cuddly Workshop now not so appealing to him. Sure it was more of a smirk he paid nonetheless, maybe it was a tall price to pay for a cuddly toy that his son had to actually assist in the production of but he was safe in the knowledge that for the smile on that little boy’s face, the event was priceless. Of course the owners of Create-A-Cuddly workshop, the pioneer of the whole idea, well, they knew that parents were suckers for this, the price tag labelled on each individual item of clothes and accessories showed certain ruthlessness about the whole notion. It was something the older Neil Kimber came to respect and mimic.
However this was not the full connection here. Neil Kimber had come to the top of his business with hard work, his father though not destitute was an honest labourer and Neil knew that he was destined for greater things. Of course by the time that Neil made his first million all the events of that birthday had long ago waned in his mind. The teenage entrepreneur that created a mobile phone app so useful and powerful that it was snapped up by a progressive manufacturing company with a contract in the million dollar mark was only the beginning. The papers that run the story of the amazing mind of Neil Kimber gave force to his acumen; the monkey instead of the dinosaur incident was long forgotten.
From then on the project escalated, newer versions came on to the market, then an innovative concept in hardware to use the app on. This allowed Neil to buy out the company who originally took his idea on board. A multimedia platform developed in which to launch even more games and apps. Then sequels came along, the merchandising, the series of books using the characters from the app’s built-in games and finally the film adaptions. Neil became a rich young man, investing wisely always building on the success and never creating any product that would fail to impress.
Now a media tycoon frustrated by the “yes-men” that surrounded him he sat contented in his plush office, bathing in luxury with his right-hand man Tony. Tony was a large man, both psychically and in power. As managing director he answered only to Neil and Neil liked him for his honesty, if he didn’t like the idea he would tell Neil straight. Tony may have been large but his belly could not be described as flabby, it was a solid stomach filled with expensive cuisine and covered with equally expensive material. He waved his wrist randomly as he spoke, shaking his Rolex and causing his sovereign rings to sparkle in under delicate illumination of the computer controlled lighting system. The room was filled with triumphant celebration; the deal for their own television channel was sealed, nothing could stop them now. Tony laughed in the face of risk, “Whatever we do now Neil old boy will sell in the millions, do you realise what that means?”
Neil did not seem so excited about this; he leaned back in his fine leather chair behind the antique oak desk once owned by Ronald Reagan, and hoisted up his legs and landed them upon it. Cool as a cucumber in a fridge he shrugged, “no, what?”
“It means,” whispered Tony in a sly manner, leaning across the table to point his chubby ringed finger at him, “we can do whatever we want. I mean anything, anything we could possibly dream of. Nothing is impossible now my friend.”
Neil was still unmoved by it all, it seemed as if he already had everything he wanted and more, so much more, “ok,” he slurred through the influence of the fine wine.
Tony picked up on this negativity, it was his job to do that, his tone turned into a cackle, “there must be something Neil, come on, something you still want to do, something…..”
“No, nothing,” he replied.
“Something, a dream….perhaps, from your childhood…….”
That is when Neil stopped. For Tony it was like time had stood still, silence filled the room, the ambience was slightly nerving, and he pondered if his boss had a seizure or something. Neil just sat there still, pondering over his past, childhood memories flooding through him like a tsunami of thoughts. It took sometime then he recalled it and he snapped up causing Tony to spill his expensive wine all over his expensive trousers.
“The toilet,” Neil shouted, “in McDonalds!”
Neil, like most people, thought that continental drift was something you learned at school that you would never need to use in any circumstance ever again. There were lots of these at school, like 1066; the Battle of Hastings. Without belittling the importance of this battle in English history it was only one of many battles with historic importance but we was, for some unknown reason forced to bash this year into our minds above all others. Neil had never had need to use 1066; The Battle of Hastings ever again, it served no practical use whatsoever and likewise he thought the same of this continental drift malarkey.
Far from it in the circumstances, continental drift would be something that needed much clarification in his quest to find the facts that would seal his dream into reality. When the geography was re-explained to him it seemed it was just not possible, the tectonic plate that England resided upon also contained a number of other European countries. The scientists that had delivered the blow, showed that this was simply impossible but the words of Tony came back to him, nothing is impossible now my friend.
Sitting in that toilet in McDonalds the tears from a much younger Neil flooded his cheeks and he vowed to do something about what caused them. With the dinosaur incident in the Create-A-Cuddly Workshop well behind him his father had rushed him out of the store and across the shopping precinct, grasping firmly the box with SpiderMonkey in it, straight into the McDonalds. Little Neil was singing “SpiderMonkey, SpiderMonkey, does whatever a SpiderMonkey does,” all the way. His father had put the song into his head, he knew not of the original as that old cartoon had been worn out by the bettered series of up-to-date film epics of Spiderman, still it amused his father to hear his son repeat this silly song and it meant that he was overjoyed by the experience of creating his own cuddly toy, thus justifying the massive price tag.
There the family sat down to feast. The mother despised the fast food chain but knew that her son enjoyed the McHappy Meal and so went along with this to complete his birthday wish. Neil’s father also joined in with bashing the unethical workings of the conglomerate but secretly he had a love for the sweet, trashy food it produced in abundance. Neil loved it like the slogan told them to and was so overjoyed by the day. He had seen the adverts on TV, the new animated film that was causing a storm had a fast-talking racoon called Joey in it and McDonalds had, as it always did for the latest movie craze, licenced its marketing with it. The whole, self-labelled restaurant was adorned with a decorative festival celebrating the film’s release and the TV advert showed the amazing toy that came with every McHappy Meal. Joey the Racoon was bouncing all over the TV screen, saying this and that in his funny squeaky voice and the toy did just the same as this.
So, a few chicken nuggets into the banquet the young Neil tried to claim his prize. His father gave into the demands and handed the toy to his son. He couldn’t get his little hands on it fast enough and after giving a second or two of examination Neil pressed the button on its back. The eyes of the racoon popped out, just as they did in the movie but alas, no sound was heard. Neil put it to his ear and pressed again, these eating houses sure could be noisy. Still nothing and this began to upset Neil again.
As the tears rolled down the reddened cheeks of the boy his father launched out to console him, “What’s wrong?” he asked and was immediately informed that the boy considered it broken as it was supposed to talk. His mother took over the consultation as the father strode over to the sales desk. There he explained the problem to a spotty teenage lad in a McDonald’s uniform who promptly looked back at him and proclaimed without a care in the world, “Oh, that is just the American version, sorry.”
Despite the apology it was finished with Neil’s father being pushed aside as the spotty Herbert took the man behind’s order and Neil was sent back to his table. He explained the occurrence to his wife and little Neil listened in. It was the second time in as many hours that he had had his bubble burst by the fact that these things were only to be obtained in America and so, he requested to go to the toilet to be alone in his thoughts.
His father stood outside the cubicle, asking him if he was okay, or if he was finished yet and Neil just grunted. What was really happening inside that cubicle was that a storm was brewing; a mental tempest was stirring in his very soul. He was questioning why, why could he not have the talking Joey, the Create-A-Dino, why did American kids get all the best stuff. This resulted in him considering the options. The options were threefold, option one; he cried in the toilet and had to accept it, the most likely. Option two was that he ran away to America, simple but hard to achieve being just five years old. Option three developed from that immature imagination where anything is possible…… Neil awoke from the dream, nothing is impossible now my friend.
The plan just needs some serious redesign and this is when Dr Darren Horton stepped into his office and his life. Like an angel from above except armed with a PowerPoint presentation rather than a set of wings he proposed just such a redesign. Neil was in awe when he saw the blueprints, an animation depicting colossal digging machines burrowing underneath the whole of the United Kingdom. He gasped at the artist’s impressions of the gigantic floats the size of cities joined by a network of crosshatched steel girders and he swooned when the system that had been operating clearly held the weight of the entire landmass of the UK and, by the look of the animation, had the whole country floating.
A moment silence struck the office as a nervous Darren Horton stood before the assembly and the famous Neil Kimber, the boss, the kingpin, the man. But the man came over to him, slowly at first but building in speed and authority and he threw his arms around him. “Gentleman,” he announced, “this man will lead the way, this plan cannot fail!”
This still produced a sense within the committee that they were in the presence of a madman. Neil detected this and so he made a speech to convince them: “Ladies, Gentleman; do not deny me this dream, do not doubt that we can do this, nothing is impossible now my friends,” he flashed over to Tony who had plain forgotten his own quote and sat with the same vacant look as the rest of his team.
Neil paced faster around the room, “Are we suckered into believing that we are treated to the same civilised perks of a developed nation as those living in America? Should we have to put up with these half-baked consumer goods when the USA has some far better versions?”
Well, his speech was so convincing to the committee that he used the same one when it was time to address the nation, “….People of England, are we all subjected to the subdued side-effects of the American Dream, should we put up with their offcuts? Does everyone in England join in with me in wishing that we could have those giant burgers and huge fat cars? When do we really have the chance to supersize our Big Macs so that it resembles a small dwelling for elephants? Does everyone in this country have, in some small way, a wish that Elvis was from our country and ponder that perhaps, if we had the right to bear arms the whole place would be a far better place to live?”
The office sat still, occasionally looking at each other to confirm that others too considered that their boss had finally lost all sanity.
Relentlessly Neil barked on, “When can we have the opportunity to buy Nike trainers so cheaply and pour maple syrup on our pancakes so indulgently as if we had three taps on our kitchen sinks, hot, cold and maple?”
This sure made them think but Neil was on a roll, “and why can we not enjoy the wealth of TV networks and be entertained by a Hollywood that we can proudly claim is from OUR country? We welcome a time when monotonous scenes of Hugh Grant blithering about in his slack shirt, hopelessly dribbling over some piece of posh totty can be replaced by exciting car chases and urban shootouts with Will Smith…… ” he continued unabated, “…..and to what of language I hear you ask, Why, we may want to drop the letter U in colour, it really doesn’t need to live there. We might want to refer to our pants without being laughed at, we don’t want to have to remember all the different names of all the different varieties of biscuits when the word cookie will do and as for fanny, well, every Englishman would want one of those, just to try for a while. I am certain,” he went on proudly engaging his audience, the whole of the UK, “Ladies and gentlemen of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland I am certain that we all really want to be cowboys and cowgirls in the Wild West, we all would want a chance to run for a term in the White House and we all long to be married by an Elvis impersonator in a Las Vegas hotel.”
The crowd seemed overwhelmed with positivity, the country were clearly jealous of those Americans and they all wanted a piece of the action. Neil was tapping into their deepest desires but the plan was yet to be fully revealed, how they would react then Neil was unsure, so he continued to build up the hype, “We love with a capital L, a capital O, a capital V and a capital E to use our Americanisms, we buy into every gimmick those US companies throw at us. From hot dogs to Santa Claus, from trick and treating to beef jerky we, in today’s Britain are more Americanised than the Americans themselves! We want our Twinkie Bars and we want them NOW, or, or, I’ll pop a cap in yer god damn ass!”
A pause for dramatic effect was swallowed up hook, line and sinker by the nation, “So I thought this idea up as a child and absurd as it may sound it is in fact, by the reckoning of the leading scientific minds, today, possible. You see I put it to the back of my brain, filed as my crazy imagination but one day I was walking through the market place and I saw a sign on a stall that read ‘hot donuts!’ I figured, donuts, not doughnuts!” Suddenly he threw his whole body into a spasm, flickering about the stage, “So my friends, my good, good friends, I thought there and then, to hell with it, to hell with Brussels and their silly laws on the shapes of bananas, to hell with the Euro, let’s rip off the Chunnel and tie it like an umbilici cord and then look at our newly formed belly button and laugh out loud, give those French the finger and let us join our American friends in the big country, let’s live off the coast of Florida, where the sun always shines and old people go around on roller-skates, where it is law to smile and wear Mickey Mouse ears and everyone is bronze and beautiful…. So, ladies, gentlemen across the nation, take heed of my plan, love my thoughts, and support me in my mission; that is all I ask. With the help of Doc Darren Horton here we can dig underneath this rain-drenched country and we can float this baby like a huge boat and we can erect masts of massive proportions across the Midlands with sails waving red, white and blue and we can sail this bitch to America!”
Suddenly the crowds ceased the cheering and stood and stared at Neil with his eyes closed, standing legs akimbo and thrusting a fist into the air. Neil sensed the silence. He peeked with just one eye open to see that the whole of the UK held their mouths open, gasping.
For the first time in his speech he stumbled, his words, now sounding more sincere, more meaningful conveyed his passion, his dedication to this cause, with a croak he mumbled, softly, honestly and genuinely, “we could be the 51st State of America…….think about it…….”
A national referendum was called; every man and his dog came out to vote. Then, when the government realised that dogs were voting they deemed this unacceptable and had to call the whole ballot again. Neil waited as patiently as he could; he lost most of his hair and chewed his fingernails to the core. Then one day, the votes counted a 99% positive outcome for his campaign and the country got prepared to set sail. An overjoyed Neil collapsed with elation and was called into hospital.
A whole five years passed, Neil’s project employed over a million workers, boosting the economic recovery in Britain. Many European contractors and labourers pulled out of the deal when they realised exactly what the plan was; they figured that Britain leaving their shores would not be good news for Europe, at least not for the baked beans and tea industries at any rate.
During the first half of the term Neil was on fire, he had become the celebrity of the day, the hero of the decade and he relished in the attention. He performed on chat shows, addressed the nation on the progress of the project and drafted a book of his experience which reached the top of the charts, outselling the memoirs of Ant and Dec. Musicians and singers grouped up to perform a celebratory concert and Neil made several visits to the USA where he met the important people like the President and even more important people like Bruce Springsteen. His most memorable part of the visit though was of course his trip to the Create-A-Cuddly Workshop where the staff treated him to a full size cuddly Tyrannosaurus Rex with sunglasses and a stars and stripes bathing suit, which he called Gavin.
However, through the turning of the latter half of the preparation stages to dig under the country and float it, age began to get the better of Neil Kimber and he experienced some medical problems, losing his hair and back troubles were minor and now gave way to more serious issues with his heart and cloistral levels. The highest experienced doctors were on call and it was not long for Neil, like most people coming of a certain age, to manage to come to terms with his condition and he began to feel much better.
Teething troubles with the plan like ensuring they tunnelled deep enough for all the trillions of pipes and cables to stay intact, all archaeological sites were excavated or abandoned and the decision of if they should include Canvey Island or not all had to be ironed out by professionals and people who had never actually been to Essex. Soon though things were looking good, health and safety officers were happy, the scientists were content, the only people still complaining were the conservationists and environmentalists whose concerns lie with the natural habitat of a variety of wildlife in the country but it was soon pointed out to the nation by Neil’s overpaid experts (sponsored by Starbucks) that maybe the foxes, deer and hedgehogs could do with a bit of a holiday with some nice weather.
The Queen met with Neil on several occasions with concerns to her monarchy, asking if she would now be under the control of the President of whom she considered to be “a rather uncouth and gaudy individual.” Neil assured her that if she was to run for President of the USA she would surly win, the Americans loved her more than anything else British except for maybe Stonehenge and Benny Hill. She seemed happy with this and started eating chilli dogs and rapping to hip hop straight away. If all else failed she was advised by MI5 that she should reveal the truth that she is in actual fact an android; the American’s loved androids in their Government and Arnold Schwarzenegger was given as an example. Providing, she was informed; you don’t reveal that you were made in Japan.
So, some years it took for the plan to become fact but now, as a fully repaired Neil Kimber flew over Birmingham in his chopper he looked upon the giant masts being erected underneath them and smiled. “Welcome to Create-A-Cuddly Workshop!” he laughed to himself but was not heard by the pilot.
“What was that Neil?”
“Oh, nothing….really…..” he replied.
A quick tour of the masts, another to inspect the large turbines erected all across the east coastline, save Great Yarmouth, they’ve had enough crap already thought Neil and things were looking good. The Prime Minister set a launch date of the 31st of February which was quickly altered and put down to the fact that he was exhausted after all the excitement despite not being wise enough to realise that in a few months’ time his position will be redundant or at the very most, nothing more than equal to a parish councillor.
People in the USA were excited too, some of them had even heard of the UK and the average five percent of the nation that could correctly point it out on a world map rapidly increased to a staggering seventeen percent. The beaches of Miami were flocked with supporters waving Union Jack flags and trying fish n chips blissfully unaware of the reality that a rather dull and unexciting island with pompous and old fashioned attitudes was about to crash into their lively shores land locking them forever.
Still with both nations gripped by the event a zeppelin sized champagne bottle was smashed upon the White Cliffs of Dover while Robbie Williams sang a farewell to Calais and the boosters blasted off a speedy launch. In Birmingham and all through the central Midlands the sails were cast and the Shard in London was used as a birds-nest with top Navy officers at the helm. They assessed the wind and directed the whole country in a south west direction across the Atlantic Ocean.
After a week people got used to the delicate rocking of the country and gradually life returned to normal. It would take an estimated two years for the country to land in Florida and so everyone was urged to stay calm and carry on, it was a slogan that though had been used before in wartime was now popular as a parody on Facebook and therefore suited to the whole bizarreness of the event.
Doctor Darren Horton looked at Neil in merriment, “Well, we’ve done it; though we will never quite look like her we will soon be as American as Marilyn Munroe.”
Neil smirked, “yes, I cannot believe it has really come to pass; my childhood dream……” (Not to look like Marilyn Munroe you understand; just to be American, Jeepers this isn’t some kind of transvestite tale you know.)
“One man’s dream has turned into a national nightmare,” informed a rather dash looking newsreader with a smart suit and black designer glasses, “as Cornwall falls into the hands of the Atlantic and Skye has long since perished the people of Britain are asking how much longer can we hold out, Bridgwater was never supposed to be a seaside town?”
Neil slammed his bony finger upon the off button of the TV’s remote control in frustration, “Shit!” he cried. The rest of his team around the boardroom table fell silent, twiddling their thumbs and looking up at the tube lighting breathing artificial illumination to the morbid ambience in the room. No one dare speak up except Gavin (Gavin’s are like that,) a young apprentice keen to better his position in the company, or, in technical terms, brown tongue. With a wheezy asthmatic whine he whimpers, “Sir, we have to call the President…..”
“God damn it, you don’t think I’ve tried that?” yelled a frustrated Neil who strolled over to the window and flicked his index finger away from his middle finger after jabbing it into the blind and caused a streak of light to shine through. Neil looked down at the beautiful gardens of his manor below. How he loved this decadence, he had worked so hard to get it. He never took it for granted, he was a self-made billionaire and always thought he had maintained his feet to the ground so to speak but now he questioned the effects of his wealth and power, was he really just another average Joe Blogs?
The scene on the other size of his sizable fence fuelled his concerns as a screaming mass of protestors pushed and forced the fence with a private security team and police forming a human chain between them and fence and getting rather squashed under the pressure of a million hippies with bad hygiene. “We have to do something about them,” pointed out Gavin with a sly smirk.
Neil thought out loud, “throw them some soap?”
However it was more than just hippies now, a full riot had begun to form under his very feet, the crowds shouted out their hate remarks, they shouted out for Neil’s head, they held badly grammatical placards, they jolted them into the sky and pushed and shoved their way to the front, they wanted to be the first in the queue to ring the neck of the man that put them in the middle of the Atlantic ocean without a paddle. He took a gulp and quickly pulled his fingers out of the blind, how could it have gone so wrong? he gravely asked himself.
Neil took a seat and frowned at the yes-men sat before him, questioning the value of any input they may dare to contribute, they sat there looking scared of him; the whole atmosphere could be cut with a knife. “Wait until the Scottish get here,” pondered the spotty lad out loud, Neil wished he was Darth Vader. The whole idea of strangling this blotchy boy was the very turn in his image that he wanted so much to avoid but often, with great power it becomes tricky not to play out this stereotype. He wasn’t evil, he just had a dream and it went wrong. As the sea became fiercer and the equipment wore thin, the floats began to subside, the country began to tip and tilt, floods covered the low lands and it appeared that the country was cracking apart. Many people had perished already, the Queen had gone into hiding and before she did she despatched a message for Neil to do the same, revealing a secret hiding place in which she could meet him at. The fact that she publicly posted it on Neil’s Facebook wall was concerning and he doubted if she still alive at all, those raging maniacs outside were verging on a uprising, and who could blame them, it had gone so wrong.
Neil tries to put them to the back of his mind but, the thought of them getting past the security, nonetheless the security themselves turning against him had become a topical issue raised in the meeting; them, or them, or any of them, tearing his limbs from his body was something that was hard to mentally put on the backburner. He quivered at the thought of it all and returned to focus his mind on the boy’s earlier comment. He recalled with distaste the conversation with the President when he tried to make contact. A clever man in running a country but a nincompoop with a mobile phone; he never remembers to turn it off, revealing much top secret information for anyone to hear on the other end of the line.
However distraught Neil was determine at that point not to try and sound too desperate for his help, “Hello? Mr President, It is Neil Kimber here,” he began with, sighing under breath.
“I’m having a bath!” came the distant reply as if he was not talking directly to Neil but someone else in his room which was soon confirmed when he continued to say, “why do they always call me while I am having a bath, tell them to piss off, bloody Russians!”
Neil sighed a deeper sigh, it was impossible not for it to be hidden, he overheard a voice explain to the President of the USA that it was not Russia but Neil Kimber from Great Britain. “Who, from where?” was all he asked and that was so demeaning that Neil slammed the phone down to hear the last words from the other end, “have we got anymore bubble bath?”
Neil knew he had to try again no matter how futile the result may be. He called the meeting to a close, took Doctor Horton to one side, bought Gavin some Lego Star Wars which cheered him up somewhat and retired to his private quarters. All the way there the brainchild of the project was pointing out his miscalculations, apologising profusely for the errors in his maths and suggesting that perhaps the engineering staff had cut corners from his original blueprints. Neil cared for none of it, “what’s happened has happened; we need to find a solution and fast. The time for blaming can come later Darren, we need rescuing.”
“Are you seriously going to try the President again?” inquired the Doc.
“Yes, I believe I am,” answered Neil, overflowing with scepticism but at a loss end for another suggestion. He picked up the phone, fell into his finest office chair and spun it round, “Katie, get me the White House.”
This time the President had obviously been briefed as he replied to Neil’s greeting as if he was an old friend, “Hey Neil, buddy, how’s things?” It sounded so fake, you would have thought that the President of the USA would have known who he was being that they met on several occasions and you would have also thought that he would know where the country of Great Britain is, particularly under the circumstances that it was due to crash into one his many states any day now.
“Very bad Mr President to be honest,” informed Neil, “we are experiencing some bad storms out at sea, the floats are not keeping up and half the country has been flooded, millions of people have perished and now we are noticing huge cracks in the surface of the land, tears and rips that could break us all apart.” This was all well put; the fact was that many cracks and splits in the hull of the country were becoming a serious threat, especially in a city called Hull. In particular was the line along Hadrian’s Wall that was tearing Scotland completely away, although, unbeknown to Neil and the Queen this was all quite deliberate on the part of the Scottish who had, after taking the liberty of nationalising themselves, decided to use Hadrian’s Wall like perforations on a business form and were currently using the grease from deep fried Mars Bars to fuel the energy to cut along the line with a huge pair of scissors.
There was a silence from the other end of the phone line which Neil feared and then suddenly the President did something unexpected, he laughed. Neil could hear in the background the man himself addressing the first Lady who had asked who was on the phone. “Those Brits!” he explained with a belly laugh, “I just don’t understand their humour, all that Monty Python stuff but jeepers, do they know how to tease me,” then he pulled his phone back to his mouth, “you crack me up you Brits,” he lied, “that British humour, I can’t wait to see you all soon, we have pancakes.” And with that the phone went dead.
“In America bad means good,” suggested Doctor Darren Horton as Neil looked up to him desperate for an answer to the madness, “as in; Bad, I’m bad, I’m really bad, you know it, j’mon!” Neil ignored the doctor fondling his crotch, twirling and moonwalking around the room and decided to scratch his chin. The whole country has gone mad, perhaps I should join them, he considered, after all, the country is doomed, everyone is going to die out here and it’s all my fault; why not go cuckoo?
As he did so he found the whole room suddenly beginning to melt away as if it was liquid, the walls, the ceiling and everything in it. The floor began to melt around him and he looked over to the doctor who seemed unafraid and also to be joining in with the whole melting theme, quite happy to be diminishing from reality. Neil screamed, confirming that he had finally lost the plot, running around like a headless chicken was one option to express his petrified state but he could not, he found he couldn’t move at all until the whole room and everything in it had melted away, leaving a small grey booth in which he was sitting in. Suddenly to break the new silence he heard a geeky female voice calling, “we have a waker, I repeat; we have a waker!”
A scraggy looking old man in a white coat came into the booth and started prodding Neil’s eyes, staring into them. He spoke with an uncaring tone, “very well, you can go home now Mr Kimber.”
“What?” cried Neil, awash with anxiety and confusion, “what happened? Did the country make it to Florida?”
The doctor sighed, “Whatever is in your own fractured mind is your responsibility,” he waved an A4 piece of paper at Neil, it had a lot of small print but the man was clearly pointing to one particular clause, “see here?”
At the bottom of the page Neil could clearly see his signature written on the bottom, “I don’t understand, but what happened?”
The frumpy and annoyed man sighed, “The mind is normally slightly muddled by the experience, it only lasts a few minutes and you will adjust back to reality again very soon. I however have just clocked off and I am taking the wife out for dinner tonight so there is no time to explain.”
A young woman with a concerned face appeared over his shoulder, the light from the door was unbearable and Neil had not seen her before, “looks like another collapsed memory stem doctor, it seems to be happening to them all. We will have to coax him back in gently.”
He turned to the woman, “I haven’t got time for that,” he moaned, “the steak won’t eat itself now will it?” With that said he left the room and the woman came over to Neil and held his hand.
Over her shoulder she complained, “He cannot go anywhere yet,” and then, in a patronising tone she asked him, “Do you know who you are?”
“Of course,” sounded a now quite annoyed Neil Kimber, “I am the hugely successful business tycoon Neil Kimber and I have a very important role to play, I need to address the President of the USA straight away, the whole country will die if I stay here!” he protested.
She looked at a file on her lap, “you are indeed Mr Neil Kimber but I am afraid you are not a successful businessman. I am sorry Mr Kimber but you came to us as a poor, desperate tramp and agreed to take part in a mind experiment within this virtual reality suite; fantastic huh?” She smiled at him but it was unconvincing.
The man put his head back in the door, he had swapped his white coat for an overcoat and was frantically shoving his arm in its sleeve, “just pay him Jules, he has signed the secrecy contract now get rid of him!”
The woman ignored him and gave another smile, “we do have to get you moving now Mr Kimber, we have other people waiting to use the booth, do you recall what shelter you came from?”
“What?” he cried, shaking with fear and slapping his head, “I did not come from any shelter, I live in a manor, I live in luxury, I am well known, I saved the country from the Europe!”
“I am afraid, these all seem like products of the virtual reality suite, you see, it homes in on your dreams, your aspirations and creates a world around them,” she explained. She intensified the grip on his hand, “tell me; how did you save the country from Europe?”
“I dug underneath the country and floated it, then I sailed it like a boat across the Atlantic Ocean, it was working well and then we experienced a few proble……”
The patronising tone increased, “do you really think that sounds realistic Mr Kimber? Tell me, why did you do this?” She began to fill in a form, frantically scribbling details with a pen as he spoke.
Neil had to stop and think, “well, no, it was impossible but, but we could do anything, we could do the impossible…..”
“No one can do the impossible Mr Kimber, that is why it is impossible,” she slyly pointed out and it was something that had to make Neil seriously think. His thought pattern seemed to be suffering, as if; by some force his intelligence was rapidly diminishing before him. The conversation continued much like an interview, she asked him several questions as to why he thought he could do the impossible, why he thought that it was all so real and she began to probe into just what was behind the whole idea. Eventually after much discussion he had explained the origins of the whole incident at the Create-A-Cuddly Workshop and then the toilet in McDonalds where as a child he dreamed up the idea while frustrated that there were things in America that he could not get here in Britain. “You see,” she leaned in and explained, “The whole illusion was based purely on a childhood dream archived in your memory. You created the concept and the virtual reality suite accessed that and turned it into the program, clever isn’t it?”
Neil was lost for words, after an hour or more of this consultation there was a slim part of him that actually began to believe it. He stumbled for a few moments and had not the notion to respond against it, it all seemed the most likely, “yes,” he mumbled, “yes it is.”
Then he began to feel like he was being ushered out, she was trying to convince him to leave, at first politely but with an increasingly harsh tone taking place. She handed him a manila envelope with some money, “you agreed Mr Kimber, not to mention this experiment to anyone if you recall.”
That is when Neil lost control, he was no tramp, he was Neil Kimber, business executive, the entrepreneur extraordinaire, the maker of the impossible, that was the reality and it seemed as if the rebels against his idea had finally broke through the security, captured him, tortured him with persuasive techniques, messing with his mind…..yes, it is all clear now!
He leaped up knocking the woman over and screamed in a rage, “how dare you, how very dare you all, you bastards,” he screeched at the walls and at the ceiling, looking above and below for where they were hiding, behind the one way mirrors, sneering at him. “What I did I did for all of us, to make the country a better place for all of us; what I thought was best for the country, best for us all; we voted, it was all democratic, the majority wanted this, we sailed, it did not work ok, I admit, I was wrong, I did not mean for it to end like this. Now I have said my piece and that is all I can say, now let me out, let me out!”
The other man had come back into the room, “Doctor, I thought you had gone?” asked a flustered and ruffled woman, laying on the floor in distress.
“Too many of them are losing it, sedate this patient nurse now! We cannot have them talking!” He handed her a syringe.
She struggled to her feet as the doctor rushed out again. Approaching Neil slowly, “now, now Mr Kimber, you are suffering a mental meltdown as a product of the experiment, you need to relax, ok, just calm down and relax, we will help you back if you trust me,” she got closer to him and he pulled back, tense and insanely, “come on Mr Kimber, it is all ok, I am here to…..”
“NO!” he blubbered like a child, all of it had come to this moment, he knew that they were playing a game with his mind, “I will not!” Somewhere though there was a tiny element in his mind, from all that she had told him that perhaps she was right, that this was reality. He was a tramp needy of money so much that he had agreed to take part in this crazy experiment. Then as a rush to the head he gave up on that notion, why be a tramp when he could be rich beyond his wildest dreams? Why live this life? He needed out, they were out to crush him and very soon the country would be returned to European shores. He had to be given a chance; America was now so close that he knew, in his heart of hearts that they could make it. He yelled, “we will make it, we will I promise,” he whimpered.
“No, there is no master plan to float Britain to the shores of America, that is crazy, Mr Kimber, can you not see that? We can help, let us help you,” she continued moving close enough to leap at him and plunge the syringe deep into his vein but just plucking up the courage to carry it out.
“NO!” he threw himself back onto the seat he came from; hoping it would take him back to the manor, “Let me out!”
Suddenly a voice he recognised came from beyond the door, it soothed him, “don’t worry Neil, we are coming in!” it demanded.
Suddenly the door was thrust open and Neil’s father, just as he remembered him as a child threw himself into the booth and cuddled his son, “you are ok son,” he consoled him.
This is when Neil began to realise that the booth was no virtual reality suite at all rather it was the toilet in McDonalds and he was not businessman nor tramp but just a small child. The world around him faded back into a reality with more clarity than ever before and was filled with embarrassment at being locked in the toilet at the fast food restaurant.
How his mind to concoct such an amazingly imaginative story at such a tender age was nothing new to Neil, he had the imagination to produce the bizarre scenarios, he was used it and knew no different. He sighed, it seemed so plausible in his mind, but Neil was smart enough to know that these things were, in an adult world, impossible. His friend, now he come to think of it, Doctor Horton did look like Darren his best friend at school as his words came back to him when he was escorted back into the restaurant, “nothing is impossible my friend.”
“Come on, eat up,” encouraged his Dad but Neil did not feel like eating. His whole life was just a dream, he would have to play it out again and he knew it would be all so different. He looked down depressingly at his Chicken McNugget meal; so much for the happy part of it.
His Dad looked at him and smiled, he supposed he should be pleased to see him after all these years if they were real but, well, they weren’t. “Come on, eat up Neil,” he requested again, “we have to go to the Create-A-Cuddly Workshop; we can build a dinosaur now that Britain has docked in America remember?” and with Neil’s look of astonishment his Dad finished off his mind-blowing statement with a subtle wink.
Taken from Tales of Worrow Volume 2.