“On Some Faraway Beach” is a story currently under development and scheduled to be ready for publication in autumn 2019. The title comes from the Brian Eno song “On Some Faraway Beach” on his first solo album “Here Come The Warm Jets” released by Island Records in january 1974. Eno is one of Jack’s musical heroes and this particular song a favourite memory from a time in his life when the world was very simple.

The hero in the story is Dr Lee O’Shaugnessy, a psychology lecturer at a university undergoing a takeover by a corporate organisation. As most of the academics buy into the abundant funds provided by this multi-national business and happily submit their research direction to the management, Lee remains distinctly independent and suspicious of what is happing in her institution.

As she is sidelined and marginalised by her department heads and the management of the university, she determinedly struggles on to uncover the truth about what is happening and seeks to expose what she believes is a dangerous conspiracy.

“Nothing is what it seems.” she thought and threw her tennis ball at the display board catching it as it bounced back towards her.

She threw it up and caught it, again and again and again and then once more against the display board and back into her hands where she coaxed it still in her lap.

“Every time I think I am getting close, every time I think I understand what is happening, just as I get there it all turns inside out.”

She threw the ball hard against the board and it flew back over her head and bounced a few times until settling in the corner of her office.

Knowing something is not right but not knowing why it is not right was frustrating but that was not what really annoyed her. Yes, it was an annoyance, it might even have been anger if she was not so well trained in self-control, and she had to stop and think why or who or what she was annoyed with. After a few deep breaths, she concluded that she was annoyed with herself.

She was annoyed at herself because she felt like she was continually being fooled. On the display board, there were charts and graphs, figures and numbers, whole broad activities reduced to statistics and raw data which produced in her mind a picture. She could see what she was looking at, she could see what it all was but every time she tried to grasp at it her fingers clasped nothing more than very thin air. That was frustrating.

An analogy, she searched for an analogy, they often help. Perhaps it was like her office, you could see her office, a room in which there was a desk, no windows, a dingy space lacking in any element of quality of furnishing or presentation. A place where functions went on but if you just walked in, just popped your head around the door and looked about the place there would be no way you could immediately tell what happened in here. Yes, it was an office, that much would be apparent but what was it this office supported.

“But if you cannot see me, see who I am, I mean really who I am, then the picture is really meaningless.” she was really asking herself this more as a question than a statement.

“But that is not what is annoying!” she said out loud. She often spoke out loud to herself. Not because she meant to or she didn’t mean to but because she had long past caring about what other people thought of her. She spoke out loud because her thoughts were spilling around in her head and every now and again the spillage would escape the bowl a slush over into the verbal.
“It’s not that, it’s not that at all.” she continued with her words dully thudding the plasterboard walls as though she was slapping them. She leant down to try and reach her tennis ball but it was just out of her grasp and she couldn’t be bothered with the effort to actually retrieve it so sat back upright in her chair.

A woman, sitting in a chair, behind a desk, looking at a display board, her tennis ball out of reach and wondering what the Rigel Foundation was actually doing. All of that raw data and stats on her wall told a story, a very clear story but she just knew it was nothing like the truth. She knew there was something dark sitting on the other side of her walls but that darkness was so black that it swallowed all questions like a heron sucking down a struggling baby duckling. There was no mercy in that black throat, there was no emotion, that much she could sense but she couldn’t see it, she could not see the darkness. All she could see were the walls and her office.

“I can’t see what I am in!” she snapped and hit the arm of her chair with a clenched fist. “Every time I think I know what is happening, every time I think I know what is going on, it is like the darkness knows and changes the script.”

There was a knock on her door and she ignored it. The knock persisted. She treated that persistence with contempt. She knew who it was and watched as the handle of the door turned as the unwelcome visitor tested her boundaries. The door was locked. She always locked her door. She never let anyone in unless she specifically wanted them in. Her position was too dangerous to allow people to come and go in her life as they pleased. She could only trust a very few people, a very, very few people and everyone else and everything else she had to treat with suspicion. Nothing was what it seemed to be and no-one was who they claimed they were, that much was her only foundation from which she could solve the riddle.

“Riddle!” she shouted aloud, “It’s not a fucking riddle, this is a lethal conspiracy but what the fuck.”

She realised what annoyed her.

As an intelligent human being she was annoyed that she knew so much, she knew the office, she knew she was in it, she knew there was a board of data and research into a conspiracy, she knew all of these things but she also knew that all of the important detail was missing. As an intelligent human being, she knew enough to be annoyed at herself because she just could not see what was coming next and the only certainty she had was that nothing about this story was ever what it seemed to be. That’s what annoyed her but if anyone thought she was ever going to give up before working out the truth then they really didn’t understand just how strong this human being was.

Read more here: Chapter One. Food for Thought