Sculpture with Face Mask



Sharif Gemie

I’d told Slow Bob to meet me at the pond, by the old canal. I’d used the encrypted link, of course: you have to these days. I knew he’d read the message, but I wasn’t surprised that he didn’t answer or that he was late. I sat down, watched the people walking by. It looked almost normal. Ducks on the pond. Mums and dads with children. Cyclists. Walkers. Just like it used to be. But then, if you looked closer: so many of them wearing those masks. And the way they acted when they got close to each other! Like a little dance, circling round each other, smiling their little smiles. Sheep!

          The old guy in the mac—is he looking at me?

          It’s amazing what we’ve lost in a year. Look at what lockdown’s done. Taken away our freedoms, censored our voices. Going to the pub: now it’s a crime! They hear the one word, Covid, and they run into their houses. What would I have done without the Group? I’d probably have gone along with it, like everyone else. But the Group supported me, helped me do some research, let me see what was really happening. Pandemic? Plandemic. All planned, from day one, from before. By the ones who really rule the world, the select few, who you never see, but we know who they are.

          We avoided lockdown. Still had parties, even, out in Pete’s house: supermarket booze, bonfires, a barbie… Just like the old days. Slow Bob really out of his head! He enjoyed that last one, alright. Sometimes I think that’s all he wants: party on. He doesn’t care about the bigger picture, but that’s the important bit, the Great Reset, where all this is heading, unless we stop them.

          Where is he? Half an hour’s gone, and he’s still not here.

          Course, he’s got that sister, Trudie. Nice girl, nice eyes... If it wasn’t… But she just won’t think. I showed her the video and all she said was conspiracy theory. Conspiracy theory! Trudie believes the experts and doctors. What do they know? They’re all part of it. Couldn’t talk to her after that. And after she gets her vaccine…

          Speak of the devil. There she is—but no Slow Bob. What does she want? I better see.

          Slow Bob’s ill? He’s got it—he’s in hospital, he’s in Intensive Care. And I ought to get checked, after that party…

          Not fucking likely. I know what this means: they’ve got him.

          ‘Steve! He’s ill, he’s scared and he wants to hear from you.’

          No way. I can’t phone him, it’s not safe. We’ve lost him, we’ll need to regroup. I can’t stay here, I’ve got to move. That old guy, the one in the mac—he’s definitely looking at me.

          I’ll go over to Pete’s, it’s safe there, I’ll give him a call on the secure link…

          Odd. No reply.

logo b&w.jpg

Sharif Gemie is a retired History lecturer living in Newport. He is currently writing a historical novel set among UN aid-workers in Germany, 1945-46. He has been writing fiction for three years.