Jason Zodiac # 3: Children of the Revolution

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EXCERPT # 3:
JASON ZODIAC ITV SPECIAL:
“CHILDREN OF TOMORROW”
by PETE CORNER
first broadcast – Dec 26th 1971
running time – 85 min 56 sec
SCENE 1: EXTERIOR – JODRELL BANK
              Sunset. Long shot of the radio telescopes at Jodrell Bank.
SCENE 2: INTERIOR – JODRELL BANK CONTROL ROOM 1
              Interior. Inside a small, claustrophobic office, two white-coated TECHNICIANS are bent over a monitor screen.
FIRST TECHNICIAN: Look! We’ve got another one!
SECOND TECHNICIAN: You’d better get the Captain, quick.
              First Technician leaves. Close-up on Second Technician as he picks up a paper and pencil and frantically makes notes.
              The door opens and the First Technician returns, followed by CAPTAIN PRICE. He is wearing a British Army uniform, and the letters S.I.D. can be read on his cap badge.
              PRICE: Are you sure?
              SECOND TECHNICIAN: Yes, sir. It’s another message. A series of radio pulses from a point near the star Alpha Centauri, and it’s the same binary code as the last one.
              PRICE: Right, I want a full press blackout, same as before. Have you decoded it yet?
              SECOND TECHNICIAN: Yes, sir . . .
              Close-up on Second Technician as he turns slowly to the Captain, shock and confusion on his face.
              TECHNICIAN: It says planet Earth is blue . . . and there’s nothing we can do . . .
SCENE 3 EXTERIOR – ALDBOURNE, WILTSHIRE
              A sleepy village church at sunset. Flowers are in full bloom in the vicarage gardens. Birdsong.
SCENE 4 INTERIOR – VICAR’S OFFICE
              REVEREND LOVEGROVE is writing a sermon. He is a tall, thin, balding man of about 60, who wears thick black NHS spectacles. The VERGER enters.
              VERGER: I’ve watered the petunias, Vicar, and dusted the stalls. I’ll be off now. Er … Vicar … I’m taking my wife to the GP tomorrow, you know, it’s her old trouble . . . so I’ll be in Tuesday morning.
              LOVEGROVE: Thank you, Maurice. Give my regards to your wife.
              The Verger leaves. Beat. Rev. Lovegrove stands up, walks to the outer door, and locks it. He then goes to the other door and enters the church.
SCENE 5 – INTERIOR, CHURCH.
              Close-up on the cross above the altar. Rev. Lovegrove mounts the steps to the pulpit, his footsteps echoing around the church. He stands in the pulpit, closes the open Bible on the lectern, and spreads his hands.
REV. LOVEGROVE: Dearly beloved . . .
              Long shot of the nave. Shadowy, hooded figures are materializing in the stalls.
REV. LOVEGROVE: We are gathered here today . . .
              The shadowy figures stand, all turned expectantly towards the vicar.
REV. LOVEGROVE: We are gathered here today to witness the dawning of a new age. The bastions of civilization will fall; we, The Church With No Name, shall lead the human race to meet its new masters, its new Gods. It is time to rise – to reveal the glory of the true Church – and destroy our enemies, Rocket Man and Jason Zodiac!
              Moving as one, the shadowy figures reach up with bony hands and pull back their hoods. They all have black, featureless heads, and over each blank face is pasted a monochrome, negative image. The X-ray of a skull.
*
              It was the strumming of the iPhone alarm that eventually woke me up. A melodic, four-chord, five-second guitar strum that I quite liked. When I lifted my head from the pillow, though, I immediately knew that something was wrong.
              The bedroom was in full daylight. Katy wasn’t there. The house was quiet. When I picked up the iPhone, I could see both the time (almost nine-thirty) and who was calling (Mimi, the features editor at Fugue magazine, AKA my boss). “Oh, bollocks,” I croaked.
              “Jamie?” Mimi’s voice was loud, too loud. “You’ve forgotten we had a meeting, haven’t you?”
              “No, I haven’t. I’m on my way.”
              The offices of Fugue magazine are in Shoreditch. Leaving my car outside Brentwood station, taking the train to Liverpool Street station and then walking through the streets to its office near Brick Lane, takes about an hour and a half. Travelling outside rush hour, as I was on that day, it took a little longer.
              Of course, that didn’t matter to Mimi. Everyone knew she was a ball-breaker, and things had got to the stage where a lot of the staff had stopped bothering to even pretend to be polite to her face.
              So there we were, in Meeting Room One with its view of Brick Lane, with my line manager Mimi, also Jill from Photography, and Peter in charge of the overall meeting. At least Peter was on my side.
              Usually.
              “Thank you for finally getting out of your steaming pit and making the effort to be here,” Peter said.
              I raised the last of my takeout café latte in its tall-size paper container and saluted him. “Well, believe it or not, you’re responsible, because I was working for most of last night.”
              “Working?” Mimi echoed.
              I took the sleeve from the T-Service DVD box set and laid it on the desk. “I’ve now seen all the existing episodes of this show. Seasons 1 and 2.”
              “So you claim you were late, because watching DVDs until you fall asleep on the sofa is actually work?” Jill said with a snigger.
              “It’s a hard job, but someone’s got to do it,” I replied, glaring at her.
              Peter caught my eye. “Word to the wise, son. Don’t try to claim overtime.”
              I shrugged. “So that’s the Sixties done, and today I’m going to start on 1972. Jason Zodiac’s Glam Rock stage.”
              Jill snorted out a humorless laugh. “Brickies in eyeliner tottering around on platform heels? Oh, yes, well, good luck with that.”
              “You’re going to be investing in some Flying Saucers and Sherbert Dips, eh?” said Peter with a grin. “Don’t have too many, that sherbert will make your head explode.”
              “No, actually, I’ll be investing in a copy of Children of Tomorrow.” I drained the thick creamy dregs of my coffee and cleared my throat, ready for the little speech I had rehearsed. “In 1971 ITV released a Christmas one-hour solo Jason Zodiac special. The recording was lost.”
              “And your point is?”
              I grinned. “I now have a source that may be able to locate existing film of that recording.”
              “Get it,” hissed Mimi. “I’ll make the deal with Sky Channel.”
              “I don’t want to question anyone’s authority,” Peter drawled, “but I’m not exactly sure we’re doing the right thing here. I mean, don’t you think we’re killed the nostalgia thing now? There’s I Love 1981 and annual repeats of all the Morecombe and Wise Xmas Specials and Dad’s Army never off the screen – I mean, don’t you think even the Baby Boomers are sick of it all by now?”
              “That’s not the point we’re trying to make.” Mimi took a sip of her mineral water and turned to him. “We’re digging up these people not just to make money out of them. We’re digging them up to laugh at them. Don’t you remember Bez on Celebrity Big Brother? All that talk about the show resurrecting his career? What bullshit. The viewers didn’t watch because one of the original Happy Mondays had returned to shock and surprise the world. They watched because they wanted to see some aging E-head get in the video confessional and make a total twat out of himself.”
              “That’s all well and good,” I said, to the chorus of knowing, throaty giggles that went around the table, “but I don’t think that’s a good example. Jason actually meant something – I mean, he stood up for something, and there’s a long list of urban legends going back . . .”
              “Oh darling, am I upsetting you?” She put down her glass of water and beamed at me. A full, pearly-toothed expensive dental-work smile. “Am I spoiling your image of Jason? Is he your new hero now, Jamie, are you dressing like him yet?”
              Oh, shit. I stopped talking. When Mimi was sarcastic, she was at her most dangerous.
              “Yes, Jason is an old hippy, or an old punk, or an old crusty raver, or whatever you want to call him,” she continued, “and there’s a lot of mystery surrounding his name. So let’s take that mystery and rip it to shreds and feed it to the public. Because the public are pigs, basically. They’ll eat anything that we give them, even if it’s their own shit wrapped up in thirty-year-old tinsel.”
              I stared back at her. Even Jill and Peter looked a bit shocked.
              “Why?” I said eventually.
              Mimi was now going through her handbag, and she looked up at me blankly. “Well, why not?” She pulled out a stick of gum and unwrapped it angrily. She’d never really recovered from the London smoking ban. “There’s no God, the Prime Minister is a rich sadistic idiot, the Archbishop is a pervert, everyone on TV is either a cokehead or gay. Or both. There are no heroes any more, darling, because the public doesn’t want heroes. They want shallow, fucked-up celebrities so they don’t feel so shallow and fucked-up themselves. Do I have to read your job description to you?”
              Outside in the corridor, Peter stopped me before I slunk back to my desk with my metaphorical tail between my legs. “Listen, Jamie, that wasn’t very clever, pissing off Mimi like that.”
              “Yeah, sorry mate, it’s just that when she’s in one of her moods I feel like . . . like emptying one of her bottles of Evian over her head.”
              He chuckled. “If that was me, I’d dump something much worse than that over her. But seriously, Jamie, why didn’t you tell her where you’re getting this lost recording from?”
              “I didn’t tell her because I don’t know.”
              His eyebrows seemed to be trying to climb over his glasses. “An anonymous tip?”
              “An anonymous email, actually.”
              “Interesting.” He gave me a smile that maybe was supposed to be sly but just made him look like a pervert. “I’d love to have a Deep Throat.”

 

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About J P Catton

Speculative storytelling and skewed fiction: the blog and website of author John Paul Catton.
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