By Tim Rhys 贺丹注
I've been away for a long time, maybe months, maybe years. I lost all sense of time in the Laboratory. No windows. No clocks. No news from the outside world. You soon lose touch with day and night. And every few hours they put electric shocks in my brain. <注1> And they sent voicessintosmy head, to try<注2> and control my mind.
All the time, I was obedient like a robot. Quiet. Nobody suspected me. But Plummet and me—we had a plan. The first chance we got—bang! <注3> —We were out of there.
We left a couple of guards unconscious and we got out fast, wearing their uniforms. We stole a jet-car<注4>and we flew for miles and miles, low over the dead, toxic<注5> wasteland that was Crystal Town. Now we're on the run in London*. It's good to be back. But the weather's changed since I've been away.
Loud storms rage all night, lighting everything up green and purple. Green rain fell out of the sky last night. I've never seen that before. But even worse are the Red Lightning storms, <注6> when the whole world suddenly turns blood-red for half a second.
Plummet just shrugs and says, "That's British weather for you." But I'm sure the climate's changing.
I prefer the old weather. Sure, it used to rain. But not like this.
I was born too late. I wish I had lived a thousand years ago. When life was simple. When robots built cars and said nothing. Now they organise protest groups.
Plummet doesn't care about the weather or the state of the world. He just gets on with living. It's a good attitude. Of course, Dr Webber has invented an illness for him. He says that Plummet has "Jumping Brain Syndrome"<注7> and that I've got "Left Brain Exclusion". These labels mean nothing, of course. Dr Webber invented them to discredit us—so that nobody believes our story. But I've seen terrible things.
They've destroyed most of my memories with their electric shocks. I can only remember tiny fragments of my old life. <注8> I can't remember my family, my friends orswheresI lived. I've just got faces I can't put names to. One of them was my girlfriend, I think. She will be gone, now. I can't remember my own childhood. Without your memories, what are you? I feel like half a man.
But I love seeing Nature again—the natural rhythm of day and night. I love watching the Sun go down and the sky turning dark. I love seeing the night sky filling up with the tiny lights of satellites and space stations—orbiting the Earth as they have done since time began. It's good to be free. But there's one thing I've got to do. I've got to go to the police. Plummet says I shouldn't.
"That's crazy. It's too dangerous."
He doesn't trust the police. But I've got to take that risk. If I take them to Crystal Town and show them the Research Lab, they will see I'm telling the truth. They can catch Dr Webber and his cronies<注9> and stop their mind-control experiments.
A Hackney Cab<注10> takes us down Pall Mall Canal*, across St James Lake* andsintosPiccadilly Lake*. On our left, Buckingham Palace<注11> rises up out of the water. The Central Police Station comessintosview, on Hyde Park<注12> Corner. The cab pulls in, and we get out. The whole place is alive with boats of every shape and size. Plummet glances up at the Police Station.
—Don't go in there, Serge.
—I've got to. Dr Webber must be stopped.
—They won't stop him. He's got too many friends in high places.
—I've got to try.
—Okay. I'm out of here.
He turns and walks away down a narrow back-street, heading for Old Victoria Station, <注13>leaving me to face the police alone.
* Late 30th century London: London was once a land-locked city. Cars and buses roared along its busy roads. Since the Great Flood, all the roads have become canals and parts of London have become islands in the wide river Thames. No motor vehicles are permitted in the London sky or in its canals—except for the famous, red, double-decker water buses and the black hackney water taxis. As a result, London is known as "the Venice of the third millennium". (作者原注)(Pall Mall, St James和Piccadilly皆为伦敦街道名—编者注)