‘Frank, there’s something that isn’t creeping up behind you!’ He looks away over his other shoulder, back through cafe door. ‘Oh yes …so there isn’t’ , he says, ‘I don’t see it. It’s a Distractor. Don’t notice it.It isn’t dangerous though’
I’m not noticing it. It’s easier not to notice now I’ve learnt that it isn’t dangerous. My instincts have retuned themselves. I’ve learnt something, or dragged it back out of memory. I know if I see it I’ll forget I ever saw it. I’ll also forget my own name, briefly. Frank’s pretending it’s the washing up. I’ve seen that look before, it’s one of mine. He speaks like somebody who’s reading the paper and talking to you at the same time. It’s like he’s selling me a train ticket, but watching the football as well.
‘They’re everywhere now. They come from this weird planet, galaxies away from here’. A firework hits the pavement, but it doesn’t go off. The fuse fizzed enthusiastically, then fizzled out. Language is great. That added ‘l’ is really pronounced ‘damp squib’. ‘Let me guess what the planet’s called!’ Well it’s worth a shot. ‘Ha!’ he said, ‘It’s not even numbered yet! How could you know it?’ I reckon I know it though. This isn’t distracting, I’m seeing it all clearly.
‘Erm…. Porlock’ He’s gobsmacked. It’s a state he’s often in. ‘Bleedin’ hell! Good guess, it’s pronounced Puerleuck’. Back in the cafe, we try to ignore the thing outside, consciously. That way we won’t forget it’s there. The machine is helping. The jukebox has fired up a forgettable song by a bunch of gloomy Englishmen who crave credibility. I think they’re called ‘The Serious Foreheads’, or was that an album title? Frank’s reading this week’s copy of ‘Greet’ and trying to memorise the names of the celebrities who aren’t famous.
Outside, the colours burn like Roman candles, the creature jumps and spins, it’s a leopard, it’s a girl in a leopard suit, it’s ….. whoa stop looking for a moment. I can still see the glow of the colours reflected on the wall opposite. Some of them are colours that don’t exist in my visible spectrum. There’s a blue flickering that I recognise as black and white television. I’m in danger of becoming interested but theres a huge flash of something. It’s fluorescent, dayglo and utterly boring. I realise I’m seeing an FM radio signal. The thing is running out of frequencies.
Frank is now reading aloud from ‘Greet’. I’m suddenly grateful for it. On Earth we can make brain rotting mind candy far beyond the skills of the Distractor. There’s a million people clamouring to be someone you really don’t care about. The louder they scream their names, the less you know who they are. I sneak a look at the reflection in the steamed up chrome of the espresso machine. The thing is getting smaller. It’s running out of ideas. I’m running ahead of it now. I know what it is, and I can make it so. Eventually, it’s a small sad jester waving a pig’s bladder on a stick. Well, they always look sad. It’s a tragic business to be in.
Don’t look! Its a Distractor