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2. The S.A.N.T.A. Conspiracy - Chapter 1

by Graeme Fielden

Time: 9:40p.m.

Date: 23rd December.

Location: Clonmel, County Tipperary, Eire.

Outside it was bleak and black. Not the usual bleak where low strung clouds and fog joined seamlessly to form a pea-soup horizon, just inches from your eyes. Tonight it was worse. Winds howled from every direction. Icicles clung to drainpipes, bending sideways with the wind. The moon had given up; seemingly it had moved to a more deserving portion planet where it could dance over pristine oceans and be gazed upon by canoodling lovers, sipping ridiculous cocktails with paper-made umbrellas, which stuck in your eye when you tried to drink them. No one walked the streets: they were empty except for oversized rats that skittered across the cobbles in search of food scraps from the local chipper. An electric-powered scooter leaned against the wall beneath the squeaking, swaying sign of Paddy O’Shea’s famous pub where it was rumoured that the finest pint of Guinness in the whole of Ireland could be found. A shiny black helmet with in-built solar panels and miniature wipers on its screen hung on the scooter’s handle bar. Embroided neatly within the helmet’s black silk lining, were the words: Seamus Padraig O’Murphy – Inventor Extraordinaire…

* * *

It was the 23rd December and Seamus was seated alone at the bar of the Paddy O’Shea’s, cursing his absent-minded relatives who’d forgotten, once again, to invite him to Christmas dinner. "Christmas… Bah humbug!" Seamus mumbled into his drink.

"Bah humbug!" a voice replied.

Seamus looked about him at the bar, which was empty except for the publican, Paddy, who polished the spirit bottles with an old rag. "Excuse me," said Seamus. "Did you say something?"

Paddy looked at Seamus with a vacant expression and shrugged his shoulders. "Another pint sir?" he asked.

"Humbug! Humbug! Humbug!" repeated the voice.

"You said it again!" said Seamus.

Paddy flashed Seamus a tight-lipped smile then placed the Guinness upon the bar. "Two-twenty, thank you, Sir," said Paddy.

Seamus collected his Guinness. As he turned to find his seat, he tripped and fell to the floor. When he looked up he found that he was staring into a luminous set of bug-like eyes. Time stopped and the world seemed to freeze as he looked into them. They grew larger, drawing him closer as he followed their whirlpool movement. He heard the sound of distant incantations and it seemed as though his mind was swimming through an infinite sea until he heard the distant sound of clicking fingers. Click. Click. Seamus was in a dream. He heard voices: a kaleidoscope of shifting, moving sounds that floated through his sub-conscious. Sometimes it seemed that there were many voices until they’d blend to a single source and he’d see those luminescent eyes. The voice: Echo, Echo, Echoed. "Yes," it said to him. "Yes, yes, yes. You can do it. Follow me Seamus, with my help you can do it. We can do it, it, it." Click. Click. Seamus opened his eyes to find that he was at the grand front door of O’Murphy Manor, where he had the sudden urge to prepare the guest bedroom for the bug-eyed man, who followed in his wake.

Seamus woke the next morning with a clouded head. "Too much Guinness, such strange dreams!" he said as he wandered down the stairs for breakfast. For most people the preparation of breakfast is a simple task. Toast, eggs, bacon, black pudding, coffee, orange juice; add a toaster, a fry pan and a cooker; et voila, breakfast is served. Alas, Seamus was not like most people. You see, he was an inventor, an extraordinary one! Seamus’ aim was to take basic tasks and make them simpler by converting them into binary instructions. He fed these into his computer, BUD, which commanded the amazing devices that ran O’Murphy Manor.

A series of 1’s and 0’s darted about the room at supersonic speed as Seamus flicked a switch. "Brr, Brr, Brr," BUD hummed as it woke with a cybernetic version of a yawn. "Top of the morning to you, Sir," said BUD.

"Hmm, " Seamus replied.

"A pleasant sleep I hope. Will it be a cooked breakfast?"

"Extra bacon," Seamus grumbled as he nodded before burying his nose in the morning paper.

In the background a small army of cogs and gears whirred as they began to spin. The conveyor hummed and the cooker switched itself on, while a fry pan lowered itself to the hotplate. The cappuccino machine gurgled as Seamus continued reading, oblivious to the frantic activity. Two sausages made their way across the bench top, dropping into the fry pan where they sizzled beside fried eggs that flipped automatically at the appointed time. The toaster popped, sending two pieces of toast flying through the air to land on Seamus’ plate. BUD continued its cheery banter. "Today’s forecast is for early fog to clear by mid-morning to reveal a partly cloudy day with a top temperature of five degrees Celsius," said his monotone voice.

"Stocks," said Seamus.

"Starting in New York. The top movers overnight were: ADT up 40,

Unisco up 35, CBA down," said BUD.

"Humbug," said a voice.

Seamus looked at BUD’s monitor.

"What did you say?" asked Seamus.

"CBA down 20 points following news," said BUD.
"Humbug," the voice repeated.

"You said Humbug!" said Seamus.

If it is possible for a computer to look confused and to shrug its shoulders then that’s the effect conveyed by BUD’s pause… "CBA down 20 points following," BUD continued.

"Humbug?" screamed Seamus, his chubby red face glowing with fury as he punched the table.

"Humbug it did!" said the old man from across the table.

"Whhha? Whaaaa!" said Seamus.

The man was washed and dressed in Seamus’ oversized flannel dressing gown. He picked at Seamus’ monogrammed slippers as placed his feet onto the table. "I said humbug!" said the small man with a grin.

Seamus looked on in furious amazement. "I thought you were a dream!"

"A dream? A dream indeed! Are you telling me you don’t remember our deal?" asked the man.


"We had a deal, and I’m sure you’ll remember if you try," the man said as he stared at Seamus and his eyes began to spin. Like a whirlpool they spun faster and faster. Seamus stopped mid-sentence: transfixed as a section of his mind awoke and suddenly he remembered a long, involved conversation with the strange old man and his name was…Malcom? Malvin? It was something very similar yet Seamus couldn’t quite remember, but he did remember the deal. "Yes," Seamus said slowly. "We talked about a plot. A plot to kidnap…"


Author's Note: A novel work in progress written for the young adult market

Posted on 06/22/2004
Copyright © 2022 Graeme Fielden

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by Chris Sorrenti on 06/23/04 at 01:49 AM

Masterful writing, captivating read Graeme. I love how you smoothly combine old style images such as: where a strange figure danced within the hearth of a grand fireplace, sending clouds of soot spewing out the chimney. and modern technology/worldliness such as the stock market.

Posted by Max Bouillet on 08/16/04 at 11:18 AM

You certainly have the addictive quality down. You must have posted these while I was in mid-move. I read the second chapter and it hooked me enough to go back and read the teaser and now the prologue. Excellent form.

Posted by Alex Smyth on 08/17/04 at 11:56 PM

Love Love Love the details!!! One doesn't just read the action, one crawls into the scene, climbing, tripping, and I can just see those saucerlike eyes, iris shimmering ever so slightly....hypnotically.... bidding me on to the next chapter:o)

Posted by Michelle Angelini on 06/18/05 at 03:48 AM

Still mesmerized...on to part 3...

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