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What a keen sensation it gave me! Riding on a night-bullet-train, head out the window, sharp daggers of air against my face. Yes, I stole the diamonds. And it felt good.

The only problem was that I knew you'd soon catch up with me. Then I’d be reduced. Made into a regurgitated bean. A regurgitated bean is like stew that’s been sitting for three days and all the water’s boiled from it and only a composite crud – a hideous conjunction of carrots and broiled pork – lies pellet-like at the bottom. I don’t want to eat those beans any more. Or to be reduced, made into a bean. Which is worse? But I won't tell you where the diamonds are.

The worst thing that ever happened was the great electrical collapse, fifty years ago. When the only source of protein became those regurgitated beans. I used to work with a GM cow that made them. God, I hated that cow. Maybe stealing the diamonds was my way of rebelling against the monster.

When the electron-feeders finished with our power, I reached a dead end with my life. Before the collapse I'd worked as a technical consultant on power stations. What vocation was there for me after the power disappeared? None. So yes, I worked at the new GM production suite for a while, all powered by steam, like in the old days. Steam powered by charcoal. The dead embers of our once mighty civilisation. We pillaged the skeletons of our dead to feed our new society. Nasty, wasn't it, how the electron-feeders, once they ran out of electricity, started feasting like ghouls on our bodies, robbing our precious electrons, of cats and dogs and animals, leaving condensed bare carbon-forms in their stead. Diamonds became worthless. You know all that, I'm just an old man talking nonsense. You don’t know how the shiny metallic purple diamonds stopped it all. No-one knows that. There was some kind of reaction, a bad reflection that set up a chain of destruction amongst the electron-feeders. Subatomic prions, some say: a pseudo-image that changed the shape of the electron-feeders and killed them. I don't know.

Why did I steal the diamonds? Maybe to teach us a lesson. I had the opportunity, once you sent me to the plant where the diamonds were being kept. Maybe I was fed up being told how things would be when we finally rebuilt this place. We screwed up the last world and I'm certain we'll screw up the next one. What will happen when the electron-feeders come back and no-one knows where the diamonds have gone? No, I won't tell you where they are. Go ahead, feed me to the GM cow. Did you know that GM cows can digest anything from carbon to adamantium? Yes, it's true. By the way, the diamonds are in my guts.




Erwan Atcheson is a research scientist at Oxford, working on a malaria vaccine. He has previously published "The Bollocks" in The Albatross; "A Quiet Place…," a lengthy horror poem, in the Horror Zine; and his first novel The Big Pink is published on Amazon and Smashwords.



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