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Glimmer

GLIMMER Stephen Westland

Š2011 Stephen Westland


Glimmer

'Naples is a paradise, in it everyone lives in a sort of intoxicated self-forgetfulness ... It is a strange feeling to go about with people who think of nothing but enjoying themselves.' Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, 1788.

“You watch helplessly as your hand moves forward and grabs the hand of the body standing in front of you. The two hands shake in enthusiastic greeting. You hear an exchange of words. Through the two round windows of your prison you peer into the eyes of the face that is smiling back at you. Cold eyes stare mechanically. Is there anybody there? It is a question that you have asked yourself a million times before. Powerless, you are unable to move, unable to speak, merely a passenger in a human vehicle. You gave up trying to scream decades ago because this is how you have always existed. Try to remain calm. This is normal. Welcome to the human condition.�, Jon Savage, 2017.


Glimmer

Contents Tube ….................................................................................... Manchester …......................................................................... Flight ….................................................................................. Napoli ….................................................................................

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Glimmer - Tube Jon was oblivious to the hands that roughly lifted his body from its comfortable position on the synthetic-leather armchair and placed it onto a trolley, rather like the ones they use in hospitals; a stainless steel frame and rubber and metal wheels. But this was not a hospital and there was nothing particularly wrong with Jon. This was Naples airport and Jon was about to take his first coffin flight. He didn't feel anything as they wheeled him out of the departure lounge and slid his unconscious body into a tube of smooth white plastic. It was little over seven feet long and a couple of feet wide. Inside, as outside, it was smooth and featureless; there was no reason for it to be any other way. It was, in fact, not a tube at all, at least, not in shape; it was a box, a rectangular box, but it was often referred to as a tube for marketing reasons. It was a simple design issue. Rectangular boxes stacked better so that more of them could be squeezed onto a single flight. This brought down costs and made a stronger environmental argument for the coffin flights since the more passengers could fit onto one flight, the less flights were required and the smaller the environmental impact of the inter-continental flight business, at least at the low end of the market. Jon was one of 900 similarly unconscious passengers that were loaded onto this late-night flight to Tokyo. Like Jon, they were all unconscious. Each had sipped the cool blue liquid that had been brought to them in the departure lounge that had reduced them to the unconscious state within minutes. The handlers moved the bodies quickly and efficiently; there were seldom accidents though some passengers did notice small abrasions or bruises, on arrival, that they could not recall being present on departure. There were occasional claims of negligence, but nothing the company’s burgeoning Public


Glimmer Relations Division could not handle, and, besides, the passengers all signed disclaimers before being allowed into the departure lounge. The pilots were forced back into their seats as the plane thrust skywards into the blackness and began its nine-hour journey. Behind them, in the cargo area, 900 souls lay peacefully, oblivious to their acceleration through the air, each strapped tightly into position in the darkness of their individual tubes. Each had their arms folded across their chests, wrists crossed, and restrained by wide black straps. The straps were not to stop the passengers from consciously moving, all the passengers were unconscious anyway and would not regain consciousness until a good hour after they landed and even then only when stimulated, but to prevent accidents in the event of turbulence. Each had their head resting on a soft-rubber moulded headrest and wore a bright red jumpsuit. They would be reacquainted with their personal possessions and clothes on arrival. Approximately seven hours into the flight one of the 900 passengers stirred. At first it was a half-awake dreamlike state; the licking of lips, small but rapid eye movements, flickering eyelids, the slow dawning of consciousness stealing gradually onwards like the dawn of a new day. But eventually, the threshold of consciousness was achieved and Jon knew that he was. He did not yet know where he was. A few minutes later he would be all too aware of where he was and he would be screaming. However, nobody would hear him and by the time his tube was opened, in two hours time, he would have calmed down, driven to silence by exhaustion and a gradual acceptance of his predicament. He would come to look back at those two hours as two of the worst of his life and this would be his first and last coffin flight. However, as events later transpired they would


Glimmer not be the worst hours of his life. Not by a long way.


Glimmer