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Samuel Dean lives an isolated, peaceful existence; he is alone and happy to be so. The remote coastal area of England where he lives provides all he needs to survive. His daily routine is to hunt, forage and poach. Someone, however, is stalking him.
One night, two officers from Special Branch pay him a visit and ask for his help. They claim two men, extremists in the Animal Liberation Movement, will soon visit a woman who lives in a near-by cottage. All Sam has to do is watch the cottage and inform Special Branch when the men arrive.
He agrees to help, not for profit or for patriotic zeal, but because he suspects they have told him a lie. Soon, his isolated existence is smashed into a world of murder, terrorism and international conspiracy.
Fleeing his own guilt, he is propelled out of his solitude and on to a trail that takes him to London, Paris, Malta and then to Africa, where he uncovers a sinister group of the world’s elite, who together conspire a dark future for all those beneath them.
Only by mimicking their twisted, ruthless logic can Sam hope to contain them.
Why does God need people? What use are we to Him? In His possession is absolute knowledge, so what can God learn from people? Why create people? What’s the point of doing anything when you know it all already? He knows the beginning and the end of each and everyone of us, but still we keep coming, faster and faster, spamming His world with nothing he doesn’t already know, with nothing He hasn’t already seen. We enter His world and face two exits. We are tested, judged. We dare to live and fear to die. We can pass into heaven or fail into Hell. You created me God, but you knew I would ultimately fail. Was I necessary? Was I needed? Did you need me, God? Or am I weight, just ballast? A spec of junkie dust? What can you gain watching me suffer here or forever in Hell?
Does this, us, make Him happy or sad? Can we move God to tears, can we make him smile? If we fail to educate Him, is our purpose to entertain? Is life an audition for God? Well if so, look away, God, look away from me. I seek no recognition, I need no fame.
God, in my mind, is insane. Imagine knowing everything; imagine needing to do nothing and having eternity to do it in. Imagine having no hunger, no need or urge to know. Nothing would ever surprise you. Nothing would ever challenge you. You would exist in a singular state. Nothing would ever change, not even time. Nothing would really exist.
Why bother with people? Does He consume our souls? Do they somehow have a value? Is God addicted to beauty, to perfection, in finding it in something other than Him?
All this drama, it all seems a bit much to me, but then I am a simple man. My use to God, I dig graves. I earn money from death. In the countryside, you can often earn a few quid digging a home for the dead. I enjoy it. It’s one of my most favorite jobs, even in a winter freeze when the earth becomes one, a solid, zipped-up mass. I’m good at it, too. Not a boast you’ll often hear, but digging a grave satisfies well. Nothing morbid, you’ll understand. To me, it’s thirty quid cash-in-hand and a full body workout. Hard, manual labour can get me high.
Anyway, job done. Grave dug. The final resting place of Tony Spence, a man who died from a heart attack, aged just fifty two; a local man who I’d acknowledge with a smile, or a nod of the head. Whose death has inspired great pity and sadness, and created the catch phrase,
‘Just fifty two. So young, too young to die.’
But then, tell that to the billions who came before him. To all but a few the life of Tony Spence would seem divine. He was never short of food; he was never out of work. Not once did he fear for his life; not once was he told to kill. His house was solid and rightfully his own. He travelled to foreign lands as a free man, for pleasures as simple as lying in the sun. All his children lived. At forty five, when a mole on his shoulder became cancerous, a medicine man cured him, not with magic but with science. Of course, as modern wisdom insists, his fondness for cigarettes, pastries and beer pushed him hard to an early grave. But did he care? Should we? Historically speaking, he lived a long and successful life. In the history of humankind, Tony Spence was a winner.
My time is up, my thirty minutes gone. I’m lying in the grave looking up at a near cloudless sky - my usual practice once the grave is dug. I enter the earth to rest and think. To let my thoughts drift with the clouds. Not that they ever do. They always seem stuck on a topic that is rarely of my choosing. Often, I hear people, those visiting the dead, their feet on gravel, rarely the spoken word, but only once, and then a child, has someone looked down into the freshly dug grave to witness me resting. The child, a boy of about eight, on seeing me asked,
‘What are you doing down there?’ I should have replied,
‘Keeping it warm.’ But didn’t. I smiled, shrugged and stared.
I live off the land. I hunt, forage, grow and poach. When you live by the coast you can always find food. I eat well, better than most: fresh fish and seafood all caught by me; fresh game, poached of course, my me. I even rustle the occasional sheep and the farmer’s crop I treat as my own.
I live isolated, perched on a cliff top, in a four birth caravan on an acre of land. The land I bought for a single weeks labour. Cheap, I hear you think, but listen, hear the sea work the cliff, hear it smash and grab the earth and rock. In three years time my land will be gone, erased and fully consumed, a tenant of the sea once more.
The area where I live has never been a tourist haven. The coastline is too wild, the beaches too pebbled. Only walkers seem to visit. Today, however, we have marked the map and the map has called us treasure.
It is a brisk, autumn afternoon. Thick, sunken cloud is docking in the sky above. Embraced by a beautiful wind I walk along a ragged stretch of coastline on my way to gather mussels. This should be a solitary affair but today I am joined by people, crazed, manic people. Some are local, most are not. Whole families are out to snatch the bounty.
The full details, to me, are vague but we have made the news, captured the public’s imagination. A cargo ship, which failed to hug a storm, has spilled forty or so containers. The contents of which, from toys to home wares, unable to resist the desire of the people, have been pulled towards this beach, and now the people embrace the bounty as if a suddenly found long lost relative, a rich one at that.
Two women, mother and daughter would be my guess, bred in the fashion of Chinese Whispers, both wearing near identical sportswear and both carrying that fat gene, the one activated after eating copious amounts of cake, furiously drag a reluctant, bounty laden shopping trolley up along the beach. I know that modern woman, and man, likes to have things but thirty sets of cutlery? Thank God no one invites me to weddings. The beach becomes steep, the pebbles sharp and slippery. The trolley becomes stuck and their fury thickens. The trolley is now the latest scum that clogs their passage through life that conspires to deny them all that is rightfully theirs. They stop unable to progress. One pulls out a mobile phone and makes a call. Somewhere a skinny man with emotional problems splutters into action. Seagulls glide on the wind looking down, picking up tips.