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minds of a thousand men, none of them could hide from Old Tall Sam. He was a mean, mean man. He lived in a specially built castle that peered over the town, high up on the harrowed hill. In the castle were the controls to the whole of the town. You see, Starving Jane was no ordinary place. It had been recently re-designed, built with eyes and picture frame spies.

Welcome, One And All To Starving Jane In a town called Starving Jane. My rotten tooth. My berserk time machine. A town of biting television and see-see-tee-vee. The tall melted buildings tower over our heads as iron eagles are flagged in every corner and every bridge. All was forgotten here... but not what cold heavy evening breath couldn't forget. Sam was his name and Starving Jane was his game. He had mustard bottle eyes and a nose that hung so long it could hide his big lies. Dressed up all in pitch black, with a chalk white complexion. Old, and I guess, wise. Tall enough to steal the sky. Old Tall Sam was what we called him to his face and he ruled the

The folk of Starving Jane were mechanised, scrutinised, pulverised and lobotomised then supervised to bed to re-recharge, day, after day, after day, after day. The worker drones were they. That's how Jane was. A machine of blank halos, a river of micro-chipped masses, a factory of faked smiles and funeral fires and forgotten fight. And how did they get here? Tall Sam had seen to this. It's now his face they were programmed to trust. And man did they trust him. The pretty new lights and the drinks he gave them were enough to persuade any heroic lion-hearted talker to hush up and sit down and shut up and stop thinking. You see, if you lived in Starving Jane then you couldn't escape the fact that Tall Sam was a bad, bad man who wanted to control every one of us. Yes, Old Tall Sam was his name and Starving Jane was his game.


It wasn't always this way. It wasn't always his way. We remember well, what it was like before. Before Tall Sam took it all away. People were happy and free in their heads. Rose-beds and laughter. Now, the people are colacola and turkish delight. Tube fueled ego with vanilla might. Their hearts have been beaten so much that they've sunk, to a happily classified bunch, with a number as a name and a shirt that reads '463955861'. Yes, I remember what it was like. I've been here from the start, before Sam took away their happy, happy hearts. I'd seen him arrive on a battleship, many years before and he wasn't always bad. In fact in the beginning we welcomed him in. He grew to be our saviour, our hero, our shining young prince. But over the years and the months and the days, long after we trusted his words and his ways, this prince became bad and grew tired of feeding our souls and decided it would be better to tax all our gold. Our homes and our food began filling with poison, the air became thick with a sense of despair. The people revolted. They fought the good fight, saying they'd never give in. A war that would last sixteen years and four days, between Sam with his army, and us. But the people did give in. We all gave in to

Tall Sam in the end. So now we are here in a town that is watched and scrutinised closer and closer, more and more every second of every

minute of every hour of every day. The see-see-tee-vee and picture frame spies. The melting buildings that tower over your head. Welcome one and all, to Starving Jane...


‘782332746’ ..Stool sample. Check. ...Hair sample. Check. Retina Scan. Ch-check. Virus Detected? Positive. Number I.D? 782332746.... Name? Hillary Conlint. Restraints. Check. Gas. Check. Vaccination will begin in ten. Nine. Eight. Seven. Six. Five. Four. Three. Emergency. Malfunction. Must abort. Procedure not complete. Microchip failed and flunked out. System down and approaching manual override. Battery acccid bubbling.


Ladies and gentlemans... there is snow needles from alarm...... ... all syssstems walking prop alley... custard power... custard power now. Fire and flames and fire and flames. Emergency systems booting. Power soon returning. Activate aqua. Extinguished the fire and flames and fire and flames. Conditions normalised. 782332746. 782332746...? Scanning subject. Subject alive. Subject breathing. Stool sample. Check. Hair Sample. Check. Retina Scan. Ch-ch-ch-ch... Subject 782332746... ...changed. Physical appendix added. Source unknown. Scanning clothing. Source found. Sugar jelly packet.

Sugar jelly packet named 'Lizard Kings'. Blood test conducted and reptilian in it... ...Computer conclusion? Subject injected with juice from a lizard, now subject half of both... ...No conclusion computer. Subject condition strengthened. Eyes open and awake... ...Hillary. Hillary?...


Hillary had always been percieved as having a wondrous and explorative mind. The erotica pearl. A lady, of sorts, who liked very much a rotative schedule of many a man. And many a man in Starving Jane had frequently frequented her. Did I mention that she was always courteous, she never kept one to eat? That was until the vaccine day that went so very, very wrong. Standard procedure that should have taken less then a minute. Old Tall Sam had introduced a mandatory vaccine that was to be implemented. All the folk of Starving Jane were to be treated and injected. They were told it was to be a vaccine to immunise against a great plague. But the total truth of fibbing Sam was that it was a tiptop secret operation to inject the town’s people with microchips to monitor their every move. Sneaking Sam. Sneaky, sneaking Sam. Hillary had her appointment booked for the time and the day, and that time and that day had come. She sat herself into the seat that was in the middle of the operating room. All robotic arms and wires decorated her, no doctor, no nurses to carry out the deeds. Alone was Hillary left. 'Sweets will rot your teeth', Hillary's mother told her when she was a wee young one. Hillary loved sweets. You could say she had the sweetest tooth in the whole of Starving Jane. Her very favourite ones were called 'Lizard Kings'. She always kept a packet on her person, including, and this was against the rules of the procedure, the day of the vaccine. Unbeknown to Sam's computer, the

Lizard Kings were in Hillary's pocket and in these Lizard Kings’ ingredients were a sabotaging substance known as Gongtamite. Gongtamite was a potent source of flavour taken straight from a real lizard to give it a real flavour. It also messed and played with Sam's computer in a way that Sam would not like. It caused the circuits confusion. It caused the injection to malfunction. Hillary opened her eyes. She felt a little funny. The thick black smoke was slowly seeping through a ventilation shaft, oozing past her nose as it went down, it reached the hairs on her nostrils which tickled her and made her wake up good and proper. “This hand that I have, it's not like before,” she thought to herself. “I swear that I've never seen this one before. It's covered in scales and it slivers in sound, and there's something quite strange when I wave it around. But wait, I've found more, no it's not just my hand. My body has changed and I don't understand! Computer, what's happened?” '782332746. Hillary Conlint. Injection malfunction and circuit confusion caused problems in vaccine and circuit infusion. Cause: Gongtamite'. Hillary was puzzled. She caught her reflection in a shard of broken glass. Her reflection puzzled her more. What she saw before


her was a fright to most, but to Hillary, was a pure delight. There stood tall was a bone perfect face and reptilian body. The curves of a lady stayed and Hillary realised what had happened.

strange day in Starving Jane. And Hillary was very hungry indeed.

But, and this was a shock to herself, not one angry bone in her whole scaly body. You would think waking up after sleeping human, to find yourself as half a lizard would anger a person. But Hillary just smiled. She thought in her head of the men who had said they would come and they'd take her away, to a place by the sea where she'd live all her dreams, but all they wanted was one night in bed. 'This gift that I have means I'll pay them all back, I can kill them and eat them instead'. She slipped quietly out of the room, back home to the far south side of Starving Jane, by the river where she lived. Mr. Arthur Squire was coming to visit at nine and she had to be ready. It had been a very long and very


would be the first step in controlling the masses, his twisted dream-machine. A machine that built arms. A machine that built robotic arms that would replace real arms. And in these arms there would be devices that reported back to the motherbigcomputer all that was happening in the lives of the people. All details such as blood type, eye colour, medical history, criminal inclination, hygiene report and satellite pinpoint were sent and received by this vulgar technology.

Microchips and Stencils Arthur worked in Sam's arms factory. This was a very sad place indeed. Twenty eight years he'd worked in the same establishment but only recently had it become a factory at all. The whole time the people of Starving Jane had fought their fight with Sam, they had used the building as a temple and safe house, with Arthur as its caretaker. We were lead to believe that his building that stood in the centre of town was built on magic grounds, and when you were stood inside you had the feeling of life running through you, and believed this history to be true. But with the war won, Sam stole the structure and closed the doors to Starving Jane's people. He secretly began to build a machine that


Arthur's job at the arms factory was now to file and report all records and accounts that came from the devices. Arthur was a spy, and he knew it. Arthur would sit at his desk, day in and day out, computing all the computer data with a weight of guilt so heavy on his shoulders, that it sometimes got too much and Arthur would weep. He was a good man really, he had no intention of being a bad one. Of course he had his vices, no more and no less than any man, but the moral dilemma that faced Arthur was the part he played in Sam's game. He was there working for Sam against his every wish and wanting, a slave you could say was he, but no choice did he have. Sam had decided Arthur fit the bill of what he wanted in a worker spy and so Arthur was there to stay. One moody evening, just as the sun was beginning to beg for more and the moon had it's winning smile on, Arthur was getting ready to clock off for the day when an alarming event occurred on the factory floor. A transmission of data was coming into Arthur's motherbigcomputer screen, one that he had not seen before. The transmissions consisted mainly of dull old data and numbers of intrusion, but this time it was

something very different. The information that was transmitted was from a young boy who lived in Starving Jane and who had only recently been fitted with the arm contraption. His name nobody knew, so for now we'll call him the boy who could see everything. The information from the transmission was so profound and drastic to read that Arthur panicked in his shoes and quickly printed out the script and stuffed it straight in his pocket. 'I'll read this somewhere safe... not here, where Sam might see', Arthur thought to himself. He hurried the shut down of the motherbigcomputer and closed the factory for the night, locked and bolted the doors and turned the security lights on. He was happy to leave, even if it was only for a few hours until tomorrow. He turned left down the cold alley next to the factory and passed a strange looking man whom he recognised from a local paper. Barking Biff was what the paper called him. Apparently he'd been released from Starving Jane's town prison only last week. He'd served a six month


stretch for selling illegal music to the folk of Starving Jane. You see, since Tall Sam had been an authority, he had banned a lot of things

alley. He had other things on his mind anyway, the script from the factory was tucked up safe in his coat pocket, waiting for him to read it. He hurried home through the wooded forest, past the broken wishing-well, to the house where he lived, closed the door behind him and locked it. He drew the curtains tight and sat at his dimly lit desk with the script in his hand. As he read it, Arthur hardly breathed one breath. '... we will come for you soon...' the script read. '... the man Sam is badder than most.. there are things you don't understand yet... but don't be afraid... we will come for you soon... '. And that was it. Apart from one other word written at the bottom of the page. That word made Arthur gasp. That word was Helios.

including music that he did not like. Instead of real music, Sam had created a form of music manufactured to numb the soul and bend the mind into shapes of conformity and boredom. Real music, Sam thought, made people think too much and he didn't want the people thinking at all. That was dangerous for Sam and his power hungry head. Barking Biff was a revolutionary and had refused to comply with Sam's rules and regulations and so became a digital dealer. He had already been imprisoned eleven times in the past four years but he would never give it up. Barking Biff was someone who Arthur wanted to help, but if the see-see-tee-vee's saw Arthur nattering to Barking Biff , then Sam would see them too and Arthur would be in big trouble. So he kept his head down and walked quickly through the

'This message couldn't have been written by the boy who could see everything,' thought Arthur. 'The computer data doesn't match, it must have come from somewhere else. It has to be a prank'. He had heard of Helios before. It was a myth, a rumour, that one day a path would reach out from the ground and it would lead up to a starship in the sky. It would be at a time when there would be a great depression in the people, caused by a wicked ruler of


the land. When Sam came along, Arthur had wondered and pondered the idea of Helios being true. 'Could this be real? Could this be a real message?' thought Arthur. He picked up the script and filed it secretly in his hidden chest he kept underneath the floorboards in his study. This script, he decided, would be for his eyes only, he would show no one until he could find any proof that it was real. Arthur was due to meet his sometimes lady friend Hillary that evening, but after the day he had had he decided it was best to just go to bed and recover from the shock he was in. He unlit the lights in his house and went to sleep on a bed made of nerves. Good night Mr. Arthur Squire, good night. We will speak of you again shortly.

The Candy Room The sky is now designed. Above us, eyes looked down and spied us. Itching, excited to spy us. Mechanical flies fly over digital horizon. Now that sky line's on fire. Partly beamed to find us if we's hiding. Oh, no hiding. No no no tolerate the hiding. Get out in the open where you can be seen, or eyes will buzz you them electric shocks to shock you. Comply completely. And think discretely or you'll wind up neatly in an in-car-ce-rate. Rule book law types and questions refrain. A plan to make the people the same, be the same, do the same, live the same way. Just no no thinking thank you. The sign says so, so you do do so. Down, down here in A Town Called Starving Jane. Where the bats won't hang. And the cats scratch back. And the rats wear cameras in their hats. And the paint never dries in a town called Jane. And the heartbeats hang in a town called Jane. And that candy moon in a town called Jane seems to hang by a thinning wire.


Maybe it's on fire? Too hot for the sky to hold, that moon it hangs on a wire. At least that's what we're told. But some aren't sold on that. Some will bite back. They'll pull up the landslide sirens. Torch the mechanics to release the horizon. Eyeballs on tee-vee screens and veterans inflated. A patriot scared to distill the momentum of powerful Sam. Oh Sam, how you handled the man. We're twistedly impressed with your plan. That candy moon, it is on fire. Did you go sniffing it by the flames? Smells something while we sleeping like fog smelling in the air. But that air is something else tonight. Tonight that candy moon is waking. Waking one up to tell the others. Waking one up to hatch a plan. Hatch a plan to stop the Sam. Now where will the message land? That lad down there who sees it all, the quiet one with the staring eyes. You must convince who you see fit, one soul, to find the Avocado Chip. He will bravely be. He will surely be purely hungry heart and steady head. The futures reads as you do see, for you already know who it's going to be. If you tell me who then I can make a start, I can inject a dream into his hungry heart. Moonshine makes magic fall. That candy moon makes clever of the boy. Now time tocks till morning.


I Am Oculus I dream a dream with a hungry heart and a steady head. I only hope that when I wake I can dream that dream instead. Oculus awoke to a beating heart pounding in his head. Why so fast, he thought. The tremors in his bones felt feverish. Sweat had soaked him, and the panic of consciousness startled him so brightly that he knew this delirious day was already different. Something new was upon him, but what it was, was not so apparent. Compelled by something in him, he said out loud, 'I am Oculus, and I am ready'... but nothing was replied. Just a deafening silence. He leapt out of bed and rushed his breakfast. Something that he'd dreamt had stirred a mood. He had never dreamt such a vivid dream, not one that he could remember anyway. He looked outside towards the freezing trees, their faint outlines etched a silhouette of memory on Oculus' mind.


Since Tall Sam's microchips had been transmitting frequencies, the dreams from peoples’ past had been shutdown and stopped, no one in Starving Jane would have access to the memories in their heads. This crude concept devised by Sam would encourage conformity and dispel ideas of a revolt. That mean, mean Sam. But what had happened in Oculus' head was a breakthrough. A freak occurrence, an epiphany, an explosive revelation. He had dreamed a dream of a lady he once loved. Love. He remembered the feeling of what it was like, as if that feeling had never gone away at all. He'd dreamt of the day his love and him had been to see the sea, they were the only two souls on the whole beach. The picture perfect sands and calming tide. They had talked of staying there forever, in their utopian moment. And when the night came by, they would sleep in a submarine which would sink into the sea, safe in an ocean, floating together. Yes, Oculus remembered love, his pounding heart explained. 'I am Oculus, and I am ready'... he said again, but still nothing was replied. As Oculus peered at the freezing trees, he heard a voice in his big blue bonnet...

'...Bounding, biting robots fingers, clutching, scratching at me. Tear them sheets out from the windows, I need to see the light. But why, behind these crowded curtains, are bars and brick walls? Did no one question where the light went, no body asked at all. That Sam has cast a darker spell, no one of us can deny. He's tricked us all believing something, when the truth it really hides. I must go find an antidote to fix the cracks and splits, the freedom to the kingdom hides in the Avocado Chip...' 'In the Avocado Chip?' Oculus asked, again out loud, seemingly now speaking quite comfortably to the empty room. 'The freedom to the kingdom lies in the Avocado Chip? What can that possibly mean!?' The revelations of Oculus' memory had obviously puzzled and troubled him in equal measure. What did this all mean and why was it him having this dream? Still gazing out of the window with his one big eye, Oculus spotted a figure standing by the freezing trees. He recognized the figure. It was the one the folk of Starving Jane called the boy who could see everything. There he was, motionless with a firm eyeball aimed towards Oculus' house.


In that moment of spotting the boy they locked a gaze, and Oculus experienced something he had never experienced before. A voice, as clear as a broken bell, filled his head and it said, 'It's me you can hear, now listen carefully'. This had Oculus' attention rightly. Was he still dreaming? This didn't feel like a dream anymore, it was too real to be anything else, he thought. 'The people of Starving Jane need to be cured... that Old Tall Sam has fitted chips in them. You must find the antidote to cure the fatal implements. There exists in a box buried deep in Sam's castle, a special microchip. This microchip is different. This microchip can heal. It was built as a time machine of the life we had before, you must find a way to get it and steal it out of there without Sam catching you. When the Avocado Chip is retrieved it can be fitted into Sam's motherbigcomputer to reverse the sadness and sorrow of the town's people. It will make better what Sam has destroyed. The souls of Starving Jane will once again be free'. And in one big blink of Oculus' eye, the boy was gone.


Profundity shrouded Oculus. 'Am I awake still? Is my tricking head upon me? Did this boy really just talk to me or did I imagine it all? But I am really awake, aren't I?' Oculus awoke to the sound of his beating heart pounding in his head again. Why so fast, he thought. The tremors in his bones felt feverish. Sweat had soaked him, but the panic of consciousness never startled him. Something new was upon him and this time it was apparent. Compelled by something in him, he said out loud, I am Oculus, and I am ready'...


Ben Sommers - Avocado Chip